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Posts Tagged ‘The Curse Under the Freckles by Terry Petersen’

Reading between the lines

 

One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter—who was a child at the time—asked me, “Daddy, why are you writing so fast?” And I replied, “Because I want to see how the story turns out!” (Louis L’Amour, novelist)

My grandson and I were riding in the backseat of the car as my husband drove to kindergarten.

As we talked, Dakota picked up my second book in the Star League Chronicles. “What is your picture doing on the back?”

“Uh, I wrote the book.”

“Really?” he said. “It must have taken you at least a half-hour to write.”

“At least,” I responded. “Two years.”

My little buddy was amazed by my slow progress. I didn’t take umbrage. When my middle granddaughter saw my first book, The Curse Under the Freckles, she wanted to know where the pictures were. Grandparents, by my grandchildren’s measure, were invented as playmates, not boring adults who put together words on paper. And take years to write a single story.

Dakota and I enjoy becoming pretend pilots where the newbie Grandma-pilot does practice flights with a hundred passengers aboard. He decides how much gas a plane needs to fly cross-country. Five-dollars’ worth. Or we invent a game played in the gym with a mini football instead of a basketball.

In both plot and play, reality is suspended. Grandson and I open jet windows to shoo birds while Dakota snacks on cheese dipped in hot sauce. Literary subjects never come up.

Of course, the best fictional stories appear real as they unfold. Each life’s story has a beginning, middle, and end, often unplanned.

Sure, I wonder how my life will turn out. Change can happen in the last scene. However, savoring each day seems more satisfying than typing at deadline speed. Life’s end will come soon enough. In the meantime, I have a lot of seeds soaked in love to plant.

 

 

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The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. (Patrick Young)

Icebergs in polar regions and desert heat rarely make weather channel news. In the part of the world where I roam, weather news has the reliability of gossip. Maybe the broadcast will fit. Maybe not.

In the meantime, life continues at the same continuous pace.

Right now, I am my own pain in the neck. More accurately, I have cervical damage, caused by carrying the same head for years. The weather irritates, but it didn’t create the problem.

Nature’s plan? Unpredictable. Like the flight of a lightning bug. The destination of a running toddler. The future of a random seed.

I have a book signing on Saturday from 1-4 PM. Several inches of snow could get in the way. If the forecast takes a just-kidding route, anyone who doesn’t need to be beamed up Star-Wars style is invited.

Nor’easters, hurricanes, and tornadoes are bullies without negative intention. I suspect casting blame is counterproductive. Action matters.

The tree in my backyard carries snow—on the second day of spring. Photo Booth’s Thermal Camera turns the snow blue, as if it were a lake. The pic doesn’t represent warmth or cold, however. The app on my iPad provides more game than fact. Something like predicting changeable weather.

We are all pawns in that realm. How I decide to deal with the challenge is another matter. Okay, I admit it. I’m still working on it. Ouch!

 

 

 

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both books (2)_LI

I’m growing older, but not up. (Jimmy Buffett)

The tension in my neck tells me I am not in synch with the world as it is. Mass natural disasters are difficult enough to understand; mass hatred is another. I don’t need to delineate any of it. The blind can hear about it, and the deaf can read closed-caption. The unaffected remain in a narrow, wire-thin margin.

Pain begins before the first commercial on any news channel. Gentle heat helps my muscles. Distraction, blended with love, helps my spirit.

My husband and I take Dakota to afternoon kindergarten on Thursdays. Dakota asks me to sit in the back seat with him. We discuss the six-year-old boy world and his unique observations along the familiar route.

This young man notices details: The recycling truck has two steering wheels and two sets of brakes… He discerns how a toy train track fits together. His mechanical expertise will probably surpass mine before he reaches third grade!

During a rare pause Dakota notices the back cover of my second book, Stinky Rotten Threats. It is on the back seat between us.

“Isn’t that your picture? Why is it there?”

I smile. When I am with this young man, my intention is to focus on him. My successes, failures, and mundane trips to the doctor or post office don’t come up. He probably assumes I don’t pretend to pilot a plane without knowing what an instrument panel is. However, other than stocking the refrigerator with his favorite cheese and hot sauce, he wouldn’t know what else fills my day.

“This is what I do, buddy. I write. This is my second book.” (The first was The Curse Under the Freckles.)

“Wow,” he says flipping through the pages without looking at them. “It must have taken you more than an hour and a half.”

Dakota’s notion of numbers and time hasn’t developed yet. I realize I want world change overnight, in my spirit, even if my head knows a sudden transformation is as impossible as writing a middle-grade fantasy adventure in an hour and a half. The Star League Chronicles fights evil—not with fists and swords, but with truth. Even in make-believe, a story takes more than one page for goodness to win.

“Two years,” I answer. “It took me two years.”

He doesn’t say anything, but I suspect he thinks I must be mighty slow.

I don’t mind. Slow is the general idea. My neck thanks me. Growing up all the way isn’t recommended anyway.

 

 

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I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”   (Kurt Vonnegut)

No point putting my socks back on—my feet are covered with sand—from my son’s backyard sandbox. Yes, this senior citizen has been playing with dump trucks and plastic buckets. I follow the lead of my favorite kindergartner, Dakota.

He asks about what kind of work both my husband and I have done, and what I do now.

I state as simply as possible the jobs we had in young-person language. “I write books now.”

“Sounds boring.” He rams a motorcycle over a sand ramp. A wheel falls off. He grins as he clicks it back on.

I suppose when an individual’s written vocabulary is limited to one and two-syllable words, it could be. My granddaughter Ella has been reading since she was four. Different interests.

But, I don’t say anything. I let his opinion stand and heap a plastic shovel of packed sand into the next project, a castle. The building lasts almost three seconds before Dakota smashes it and turns it into something else. Another truck obstacle.

At age six, the pretend world is always in progress.

Next, he introduces me to a new Wii game. I have no aptitude for sports in the tangible world. On the flat screen, my lack reaches a new low.

“Well, I guess you win again,” I say.

We are ready to go outside for more activity, and he takes my hand. A gentle gesture. Dakota is considerate. I mentioned once today as I swung an invisible baseball bat, that I was thirsty and he ran to get me water, with ice. He also wanted to wash dishes, but left the big knife for me. A smart decision.

By tomorrow, my at-home to-do list will be too long to fit on the side of a mile-long wall. Those tasks will wait. Today I spend time with a young gentleman who doesn’t care about what I can or what I can’t do. He knows I care a lot about him, and he cares a lot about me. We are family, and that is all that matters.

You are right, Mr. Vonnegut. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

(photo-shopped public domain photo)

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Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy. (Jacques Maritain)


I have attended fairs as a vendor, an author selling The Curse Under the Freckles, the first book in my soon-to-be-released series, The Star League Chronicles. The second book, Stinky, Rotten Threats, will be released soon.

However, I have never tried signing with a broken hand. The swelling is down enough to allow thumb and index finger to meet. I am at a health fair sponsored by a local senior center.

As I wish magic for a reader, it feels akin to a spell because each letter of every word can be read. My signature hasn’t been repeated often enough to reach celebrity status, spasmodic lines that mimic the measurement of earthquake tremors.

Blessings, however, seem to abound.

My table is in an ideal spot—one of the first seen, but it is isolated from the crowd.

My friend, G., gets a fresh cup of coffee for me. Then, later, she watches my table so I can get a sandwich. She collects samples from the booths, and then lets me browse a little as well.

The frozen gel pack I brought for my aching hand has warmed. A YMCA director replaces it with a bag of ice. The director of the senior program at the Y is especially helpful.

I’m impressed by the number of volunteers who pass by. Good, generous, people.

Broken places throb. In my hand, in life. It’s the nature of a broken place. Even in my middle-grade fiction, I don’t avoid the shattered. I suspect the contrast of darkness and light makes the beauty of kindness more striking. Perhaps even exquisite. Thanks to all the givers in the world.

 

 

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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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We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams. (Jeremy Irons, actor)

I’m at a book signing that is part of a small city pumpkin festival. Two memories, one from long ago and one from last year, hit me as I talk to a couple who stop at my table. The wife asks if there is violence in my middle-grade fantasy, The Curse Under the Freckles. The couple tell me their son is highly sensitive to anything brutal.

I give a short explanation of the story. Chase, an eleven-year old boy, was born with magical abilities. However, his mother knows about the curse and the dangerous side of the magical world. She never tells him. When Chase finally learns about it, he has lost every possible tool to break the curse. He must do it in three steps, but, no one gives him any idea what those steps will be.

They will not include the usual fight.

I say the book does not rely on blood and violence for entertainment. Then I realize a tragedy involves one of the main characters. In an early chapter. A death. Of course this is fantasy, and in a make-believe world a character can die and still be okay. The book has a happy and unexpected ending.

The young boy has been standing behind them. He moves between his parents, and shakes his head. I nod and smile. A silent way of saying I understand. In some ways he reminds me of me in an earlier century.

I recall the mobile library that came one day each week to my elementary school. In the primary grades I browsed for books with the least amount of conflict. I chose stories closest to utopia, places where taunting and meanness didn’t exist, where parents told their kids how wonderful they were. Most kids would have considered the books I read boring. Even then I knew I wanted safety. In real life and on the printed page.

Eventually, my tastes grew up. In fantasy, wild events could occur. I reveled in another world. It became my escape.

This young boy’s experience and mine are probably not even close. Yet, I suspect he has a keen sense of empathy that needs guidance. I am glad to see the concern his parents have for him. I watch as the family walks away, and I silently wish them the best, more than the best if that could be possible.

This is one time I am okay not to sell. To him. And yet I fully believe in the appropriateness of my story for kids. Real life sends difficulties to everyone. It doesn’t care how old the individual is. Chase’s losses would throw anyone, of any age. However, in fiction I can tailor the outcome, create a happy ending. In fantasy, possibilities extend beyond real life’s limitations. All the painful details don’t need to be elongated in a book for kids. Several young readers have requested a sequel. That book should be published next year, time yet unknown.

I remember another book signing when I came as customer, not vendor. A well-known children’s author told a girl the book was not suited for her age. I was impressed. To sell is not a writer’s sole mission. To entertain, to touch the heart, to make a reader’s life a little bit better, if only for that moment—these goals matter far more. Sometimes a story can plant answers, each word, chosen like seeds placed in fertile soil, lined across the page.

When the reader says, yes, I think like that, too, possibilities open. Perhaps healing then can begin…

bookfest-hamilton-2016

 

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