Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.  (Alan Kay)

I awaken from a short evening nap on the couch at my brother-in-law’s house. I can’t breathe. One inhalation of albuterol, two. Desperate, wheezy attempts to get air out of my lungs.

“Should I take you to the ER?” my husband asks.

We are six hours from home. The ER could be one mile away or as far away as Mercury. I don’t know. Finally, a pause between coughs. Water. More water.

I decide I will make it through the night. My brother-in-law escorts me to the most efficient air-conditioned room. My sister-in-law sleeps on the floor. I remain in a recliner I can’t adjust with a fractured right hand in a brace. My sister-in-law maneuvers the chair up and down as I need it, even for my nighttime bathroom trips. She needs to leave for work at eight in the morning, yet is willing to help me.

My wheezing doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t reach a critical level. I have no idea how much time lapses between albuterol rescue inhalations.

A frightening scene? Maybe. However, my in-laws are close-by. Jay is in a room next door. Love lives here. It fills me. Night will not give up a single hour of darkness. Yet, light survives. In hearts and minds.

A trip to Urgent Care. Antibiotics. Prednisone. More waiting to be the full me I recognize.

To breathe freely.

To turn the key in my car’s ignition with my right hand.

To sign Stinky, Rotten Threats, Book Two in the Star League Chronicles, now available, with a signature that doesn’t look as if I were pretending to wield an electric saw struck by lightning.  

To cut my own sandwiches.

To celebrate the ordinary.

The magic available in fantasy doesn’t exist on the everyday plane. The magic available inside the human spirit has power. It changes perspective. I’d like to say my IQ is 80 points higher because I learned to accept and appreciate care.

More likely, I’m simply a lot happier.

The same flower, in darkness and in light

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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. (Carl Sagan)

I laugh at my middle granddaughter Rebecca’s antics long after she leaves with Daddy. She loves to play with an old pair of crutches that are too big for a nine-year-old girl. Each time she has a different pretend reason why she needs them.

Today’s reason: “I have boneless disease.”

She relays the surgical procedure, including plastic-skull placement with an occasional ouch; then she rises from a chair and reaches for the crutches. The OR is our backyard. She claims that all she needs to sustain her now, besides the beloved crutches, is a house filled with medicine. She pretends to swallow the first roomful.

I smile on the outside and chuckle internally.

“You raised my daddy. You raised my daddy,” she repeats the same line with a rising chuckle. Yet, I know she wants to be just like her father.

Rebe’s daddy, Gregory Petersen, is an author and a stand-up comic. Rebe’s wit is already sharp. Moreover, she has my complete attention, and she thrives on it.

When she is not in pretend-mode, Rebe is one-hundred percent honest. Two years ago, when I gave her a signed copy of The Curse Under the Freckles, a middle-grade fantasy, she took one look at it and asked where the pictures were. She knows I write, but she sees me as her ancient playmate.

Imagination doesn’t need to disappear with childhood. I happen to be a very old youngster.

By late spring, early summer, the sequel to my first book will appear—Stinky, Rotten, Threats. (No link yet. All is in progress.)

Chase Powers and his magic woods friends are attending summer school. Chase failed sixth grade—he studies both everyday fractions as well as how to use magical skills. His friends are self-motivated. They have natural smarts; they grew up with magic.

Of course, even school in a magical setting doesn’t follow the teacher’s plan. The adults in Chase’s family enter the woods for instruction, and Chase sees how much trouble newbies can be. Add interference from the evil Malefics… Then, Chase sees a change in the magical world he could never imagine even with the most potent tools.

Boneless disease never appears in my story. That fantasy belongs to my granddaughter.

Chase Powers is a fantasy character in a world that does not exist. However, his character thinks, feels, and acts like a twelve-year-old boy.  Anna, his friend, is a near-genius who has a knack for unintentionally getting under Chase’s skin, the way real people do sometimes.

Even so, something incredible is about to happen.  In the story, and in real life. Yes, a lot of bad news rolls off commentators’ tongues with the same tone of voice used to forecast a partly cloudy day. Ugliness is real.

However, so is beauty. A friend calls. A child draws a picture—just for Grandma, Mommy or the dog. Not all brightness comes from sun. Hope is like a seed, or a plot. You can’t tell how it will grow in the beginning.

I do hope you will bother to turn a page that promises a lead out of darkness. Of course, I would recommend my own work. However, if anyone has suggestions for inspirational titles, go for it. I am always glad to hear about a good, positive-minded book.

Peace, and may something incredible touch all.

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You can never spend enough time with children. (Dwayne Hickman)

Dakota sits in the Captain’s chair as he punches tickets for passengers. When he isn’t driving an imaginary boat, I use that seat to work at the computer. (However, when I write I don’t use the swivel function for steering.) Dakota is spending time with me and Jay because his mommy is working toward a degree. She is in class, and Dakota isn’t. He is recovering from an ear infection. With the same speed he does everything else, quickly.

“How much are the tickets?” I ask, knowing that as a crew member this question would be ludicrous. Uh, shouldn’t that be printed somewhere on a board with letters the size of the E on an eye chart? Dakota is in a fantasy world. I am investigating his play. For fun. Imagination adjusts the rules.

“Three dollars.”

That sounds reasonable. However, after a few more hole punches and the tiny centers create confetti on the rug, he hands me the next ticket. “Four dollars.”

From my point of view the cost difference is either for inflation or the cost of clean-up. Then he turns, eyes wide. “This one is twenty-three-hundred dollars.”

For the boat? “Wow! That seat must be really special.”

His eyes sparkle. I manage not to laugh out loud, and he nods. I place the ticket, representing the position of the paying passenger, next to his chair.

My little buddy is priceless.

I had other plans for today, nothing set in stone, only in intention—to finish more projects than possible. Instead, I received the opportunity to meet heart-to-heart with an almost six-year-old boy, a far richer time for my spirit.

Dakota takes a picture of me while I take one of him.


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I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. (Larry King)

Rebe, my soon-to-be-eight-year-old granddaughter, loves to play any game that involves mommies, dolls, and the lives of families. My role changes at her whim. And I am okay with that. My pretending stays within the realm of fiction. Reality intervenes, even in fantasy. Plot, grammar, logic, and a reasonable timeline are required. Even an insane character requires motivation, albeit skewed.

Play doesn’t come naturally for me anymore. Unless it includes humor. Then it isn’t really pretend; it’s called drama. Too much time has passed since I wanted toys for Christmas. Sometimes I act the part of Rebe’s offbeat daughter.

“Mommy, can I drive your car to kindergarten? I won’t smash it into a tree this time.”

That makes her laugh. Or, she tells me I’m in fifth grade not kindergarten, and the event never happened. Another reason why following Rebe’s imagination is impossible to follow. For the most part however, I listen, and discover who my young descendant is.

At first she is the mommy. Then she takes her baby with the soft tummy to the doctor. And she assumes the role of pediatrician. I’m not sure whether I am the sit-in for the mommy or an older child as she examines baby with makeshift instruments: a plastic spoon and knife, a key chain, a puzzle piece.

Her expression turns serious. “Most babies are normal,” she says. “And that is good.” Then she pauses after more pokes and probes and faces me. “But this baby has special needs. And that is good, too.”

She hands me the doll. My jokes have disappeared. I am in awe of a second-grade girl who speaks with wisdom. The softness of the toy and the softness of her words sink into me.

I have nothing to say.


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Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream. (John Cheever)

My husband asks me where I would like to go on vacation.

“I have fond memories of Michigan,” I answer. “We went there when I was in grade school.”

He decides on Ontario, but knows I won’t complain. Vacation decisions are in his corner. Not only can’t I read a map that leads to our local grocery store, world exploration isn’t on my radar. Sure I had a fantastic time in Norway and Bavaria. I have a fantastic time walking in the woods, entertaining friends and family, or singing karaoke, even though I’m a soprano and the crowd is made up of half-drunk folk who would rather hear Willie Nelson. Okay, I’m not crazy about being around the inebriated. Change that scene to a senior center filled with the hearing impaired.

I am peculiar and know it. Capturing the world by visiting each place isn’t as important to me as capturing the words that explain the world. I write regularly for Piker Press. Three of my poems will appear in FOR A BETTER WORLD 2015. I have been involved with their mission for the past five years. My first novel, a middle-grade fantasy, should come out before school starts. It is being published through Post Mortem Press, a small but mighty independent publisher. The press specializes in horror, but has branches that include other works such as cozy mysteries by Patricia Gligor. Her fourth book, “Mistaken Identity,” will be coming out in about two weeks. Pat and I are in the same critique group; she is an excellent resource and a superb writer.

I will be talking more about my chapter book later.

For now I simply want to say that everyone floats a different boat. And that is okay. Sometimes, as I drive I wonder how to describe what I see—from diverse points of view. How would this roadway look to someone with a serious illness? To a man on his way to settle an important deal, or lost? I can wake up at two in the morning and be aware of a story notion before I notice that my bladder is overfull. Peculiar is probably not an adequate description. And yes, if you want to feel sorry for my husband, I understand.

“Sweetheart, I recorded a show you will really like,” he says.” Josh Groban should be on any second.”

“Okay,” I answer. “I just need to write one more line.” Always just one more line.

Who knows? Maybe one of these days I will follow every word when he explains a sports play. Stranger things have happened. He and my sons were my mentors in the first portion of my chapter book. Thanks, guys.

What makes you wake up and feel more alive?

weird writers from screenwriting u


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All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life—where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it. (Miranda July)

Snow falls and covers bushes, grass, streets, and parked cars. My tiny church community cancels services for the third week in a row. We had decided on a Lenten theme, “Be Still and Know I am God,” based on the psalm. That phrase repeats in a song I wrote for my community. My guitar remains in its gig bag; I imagine the instrument telling me it wants to stay in a thermal-underwear environment. The stillness in the verse feels held under snow, the next moment frozen, hidden without discernible answers about what to do next, or the nature of the whole of life. A plow or shovel touches only the surface of the issue.

I find myself wanting to adjust and re-adjust the day’s plans as if they were mismatched place settings at a large table. Since my mother-in-law’s memorial service was yesterday, out-of-town family is visiting. I have a few promised projects to complete. Moreover, my oldest granddaughter has a basketball tournament this afternoon. My growing frenzy lets me know choosing option-all is not going to work, especially with March bursting in like a frosty albino lion.

Pause, I tell myself. Be mindful of what you are doing. I have been working at the computer for a minute or two, and then stopping to do a household chore, talking on the phone, looking for items I don’t need until next week…trimming a sharp-edged fingernail. I behave like a moth following a flashlight with weak batteries.

I think about my mother-in-law, about the impact she made on everyone she met, how she cared about how other people made it through life, day by day, hour by hour. And I decide that perhaps that is the key. How do other people live? What are their stories? If I am involved in caring about someone else, my concerns find edges that take shape, unlike my shaggy, broken fingernail. And so does my writing. Most of the time I discover that other folk and I share the same core feelings. Everyone doesn’t necessarily express them in the same way. But inside the individual, when the self-protection and personal issues are stripped away, identical needs remain.

The day my mother-in-law died I remember feeling a sudden, inexplicable moment of peace. It was followed by the sense that she had a message for me although it did not come in her voice or have any other-world tones. It did appear to be direct, which was her style: You have never been confident, but you will be now. You have the strength you need to succeed. Something good is about to happen and you will be ready for the challenge.

The next day I was offered a book contract for a fictional work. Since this is a new development I will simply reveal that the tale is fantasy about an eleven-year-old boy. The book was written for kids about that age. The premise, however, is universal enough to engage an adult. (At least I hope it will.) Chase, the main character, thinks he isn’t even good enough to be ordinary. Yet, he has gifts he doesn’t know about that include magic. None of those gifts appear at the touch of a magic wand. First, he needs to break a curse…when he has a broken leg and his best-and-only friend was just killed in an accident.*

I’m not sure anyone is ordinary, or that anything great happens without effort.

*further info about publisher and publication to come

early morning view from our back window, my learning center until the snow stops…

contrast plant with snow

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Innocence is one of the most exciting things in the world. (Eartha Kitt)

My old cell phone hasn’t had a battery for who-knows-how-long. However, five-year-old Ella picks it up and brings it to life with her imagination. She mimics the motions she has seen in adults, complete with subtle movements and voice tones. When her conversation has ended she closes the flip top slowly, deliberately. I’m the follower in this scenario, the fortunate observer. Ella understands but is not able to fully verbalize what she knows.

I guess the phone has rung again as she says, “hello,” hands the blackened screen to me, and adds, “It’s Dy,” short for Daddy.

She grins when I say that he is playing baseball and not at work. Daddy is working, but explaining an office setting to a five-year-old doesn’t create fun play.

“Should he stop at the store and get bananas on the way home?” I try for mock seriousness and hope she buys it.

“Yes,” she answers.

“What else?”

“A bike,” she adds.

I refrain from laughing. Nothing seems random in a child’s world. After we finish with several quick turns saying hi, bye, and what-are-you-doing-now, we enter a pretend playground where Dora, the Explorer; a tennis ball; and a plush ladybug all take turns going down a plastic slide. Reality is suspended for a while.

And I feel strangely free, privileged, invited to this spot on the floor surrounded by toys on an ordinary Thursday morning.

The folk who read my blog regularly know that my youngest granddaughter has Down syndrome; Down syndrome does not own my granddaughter. She continues to play as I get her ready to leave for the day. I have trouble getting her shoes on properly. They need to give her adequate ankle support. She seems to understand my frailties and doesn’t fuss. I thank her for her patience and wonder how much she intuits. This little blonde with the huge blue eyes is amazingly easy to love.

I envision her at Daycare after school some day as she plays with a toy phone. Does she ever say, “Hi, Mawmaw?” This isn’t the kind of thing I am likely to know. My hearing isn’t that good within the same room, with amplification, much less from one part of town to another. Nevertheless, I smile thinking about it.

She smiles back now. That’s more than good enough.

the world as it should be

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The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. (Albert Einstein)

While I loved and admired my grandmother, we didn’t share that many secrets and stories. I treasure the few incidents from her life that she did tell me. Her health wasn’t good. She lacked the stamina for running or getting down on the floor with an active child. Moreover, those were formal times. The generations were held together with a love focused on respect instead of interaction. I’m grateful for a break in the generation barrier that allows me to play with my grandchildren—to enter into their imaginative realm.

During an out-of-the-box moment I try to teach pretending-to-be toddlers Kate and Rebe how to say Mama. They refuse. They can speak in full, well expressed sentences. The word, Mama, however, isn’t on their list. They giggle at the absurdity of it, and I roll my eyes.

“You can say paparazzi,” I say with an exaggerated sigh.

“Paparazzi,” they repeat with perfect diction.

Their laughter fills the room.

“But not Mama?” I plead.

They shake their heads.

“What about historiography?”

“Historiography!” the girls say, not missing a syllable.

Then Kate breaks the tone of the game. “What does it mean, Grandma?”

“That’s a college word. It is the study of history and how it is put together from the tellers’ viewpoint. The South would have a completely different way of seeing the Civil War than the North would.”

She nods, appearing to understand.

She runs to get a note card to write down the information. It is storming, so I am glad that I don’t go to the computer for an official definition. Dictionary.com presents a meaning less easy to process—true, but nowhere near as child-friendly.

“More words! More words!” Kate exclaims returning to character.

But Grandpa enters the room. It is time for a different activity.

I hope we play this game again. We reach from the real into the unreal and back again, with elastic minds. Sometimes I learn from my girls; sometimes they learn from me. Our time is always an adventure.

believe in magic

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“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” (Walt Streightiff)

Sometimes the imaginative play of my two older grandchildren makes me laugh out loud. I’m their quintessential audience. They know it; so do I.

Rebe’s doll-under-the-T-shirt-motherhood game expands as she decides she is a mama who gives birth to a new baby every day for ten days in a row. Every doll and stuffed animal comes off the toy shelf: dog, rabbit, cow, even Barney the dinosaur. Rebe glories in her perpetual-motion image. Her ten-year-old big sister, Kate, recognizes the impossibility of it all and expands on the scenario. She decides that she is among the newborn lineup. Not only is she the product of a mob birth, she can talk, crawl, and create mischief.

Naturally, Kate notes, this phenomenon would draw the attention of paparazzi. As soon as a fantasy crowd appears she says, “goo.” After they leave, her antics return.

I write fiction and have been publishing frequently with http://pikerpress.com. However, my stories need a basis in reality. Rebe mimics a rooster to announce morning and then moves the day into evening thirty seconds later. Characters change places midstream.

For a child an empty plastic teacup holds coffee, tea, or a magic potion that turns a bird into a frog or a chicken into a dinosaur. Possibilities are endless. A youngster’s chi embraces the sky and has arm room left to grasp more.

I am in no hurry for my granddaughters to grow up. Sure, I’m tired by the end of the day after trying to keep up with individuals who move with hummingbird-wing speed. My own chores remain untouched. I have written nothing. All tasks have been put off for tomorrow, maybe the day after. But, not many people have been in the presence of a woman who gave birth to ten babies—almost simultaneously.

Besides, there’s something priceless about sitting in front of the television between two girls who both want dibs on Grandma. Actually, I’m not owned by either girl, just temporarily transported into their world where anything can happen. A zombie may suddenly appear and eat us alive. Yet, we can laugh through the experience and leap into the next one, without losing any of the fun.

save the kid in you


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 Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. (Rumi)

When I create characters and put them on a page they take more space than I give them. They woo me as if they were real, and I begin to resent time spent on the mundane got-to-do tasks. When the phone rings I am grateful to see on Caller-ID an out-of-state number I don’t recognize. After all, I don’t need a condo in Outer Mongolia; free offers rarely are. Let the ring come to a natural end.

However, sometimes the interruption is my work.

Yesterday I planned to finish the final edits on a novel. It didn’t happen. I needed to babysit for my two younger grandchildren. Six-year-old Rebecca and I turned my ’97 Toyota into a taxi while she presented plans for the afternoon with her younger cousin, Ella. I listened. Miss Rebecca’s enthusiasm is contagious. It fills in the creases in my marionette-lined face and lets me know I’m alive—outside the margins of a printed page. I can easily become a hermit. Heaven to me means hours creating fiction or editing real life into my own point of view. Actually, heaven and earth, also known as the profound and the banal, or the uplifting and the detrimental, live together somehow.

Grandma’s taxi turned into a plane. We flew into a cloudless sky while the trees budded within view. We belonged to the universe, and I realized my metaphorical cave, even if it had a hundred windows, could soon grow dark and shrink into light and shadow.

“Where should we go next?” I asked my granddaughter.

“To the park.”

“By taxi or plane?” I ask.

It isn’t very far. She decides we can go by car as we join the universe in ecstatic motion.

a smile from God





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