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Until Tuesday April 3rd.
Bad Dream will continue until Thursday, but Snowball will be ending on Tuesday.
Free ebook download
Until Tuesday April 3rd.
Bad Dream will continue until Thursday, but Snowball will be ending on Tuesday.
In the coming weeks I have some questions I want to ask you, reader.
First off, do you read both this and the grown up blog? Any opinion or suggestion on merging the two? Not sure how I would do that, but it is something that has been making me rethink how I set this up. Two blogs, two facebook and all things in two – Julie Kolb and J. Kolb.
I thought it would make it easier to tell right away whether or not the story was appropriate for a child or an adult. It sounds like a great idea. The actual working it is proving a little fragmented for me. Though, as a mom, and grandmother, I do have an appreciation for the concept.
So, please, answer, and if you have a comment, put your two cents in.
I am not an artist. I attempt to be an artist. Like the old commercial about not being a doctor but portraying one on a tv show, that is how I feel about drawing, sketching.
My frustration at creating a picture book last year burned me out. That is why I switched back to writing stories that I actually intended to write when I started blogging. Only now, I have hit a snag. My current ‘work-in-progress’ (aka ‘WIP’) is requiring some research and auxiliary writing that again, my knowledge level requires more reading and leg work style research.
Leg work research means you go to locations or have interviews with experts who can answer questions. It is time not sitting behind the computer or with pen and paper. It means not progressing on the writing part of the story much at all.
In a way it is kind of a block, not unlike writer’s block. It can be just as frustrating, but also inspiring — which writer’s block never is. I have been keeping my fingers nimble on the keyboard by posting daily on the pen name that the particular WIP will be published under. (This will not be a children’s story.)
I still have another children’s picture book with several pages started. The concept and a very rough outline are completed. Last night, rather than search for a copyright free illustration for the other blog, I sketched a very basic image and took a picture and used it. Doing so, reminded me of this other picture book that I could be dabbling in. Forward progress with one story.
My hope is that following the grownup story being published later this year, this WIP picture book will be making its appearance in 2019. There are still several children stories waiting in the wings for their turn at being the work in progress. The struggle with the last one, and my own disappointment in it aside, I am not done writing for children, yet.
When they said writing for children is difficult, they weren’t kidding. Illustrating isn’t either. Why again am I trying to do this? Oh, yeah, I promised my grandchildren. Motivation found.
Being told no one time is her limit, two is one too many times. I learned this lesson the hard way. Daisy Mae is a firm teacher.
The first time of the day was lunch, I told her no, she couldn’t lick the frozen dinner container. (The food had too much salt for her, and me too probably.) She was so sad.
My second no of the day was when she wanted to ride to the post office. Since it was the first of several stops, and we wouldn’t be back for hours, it was no. She walked back towards the couch, stopped and looked back over her shoulder at us with an expression that resembled disgust.
One. One is her limit. She ate my library book. There were other things laying next the book on the bed. She touched none of those. She ate the library book. The ‘new to the library’ library book.
It was when he was just a toddler, he remembered his dad cutting the hole in the floor. He thought it was funny seeing his dad’s head pop up with buckets of dirt. His parents fought a lot back then.
His mom hated hauling the dirt out of the house by the bucket. When he was barely in double digits, tweens they used to call it, he heard his parents retell the tale of building the ‘pocket’. He called it the dungeon.
The pocket/dungeon was dark and dank, not as big as a root cellar, but something similar. They stored food, ammo, any sort of emergency supplies really. Dad called it by the proper name he gave it, The Protection Pocket.
He was born when the social upheaval was just beginning. There had been people like his dad before. They were called Survivalists. His dad wasn’t really one of those, but did get the ‘willies’ when all the shootings became the norm and the zombie apocalypse was predicted.
He had heard stories from his elders about how unkind people used to be. This thing they called road rage. He heard the stories, but had never seen anyone with it. Maybe it was one of those diseases they had cured.
The stories he heard sounded like a dream. What had caused the change from those tales to what he knew, he hadn’t yet discovered. Sometimes after visiting his grandparents he would try to imagine a world their stories described.
His mom’s parents were his favorites. Well, his granddad on that side was, not so much his grandmother. She had the sickness. She lived in a containment room. Now a days, pretty much everyone had at least one family member like her. The really sick or cold hearted didn’t. They either got rid of them or sent their family members with the sickness away to be cared for elsewhere. Most people just kept them indefinitely in a containment place. Choosing to build a new room until that too became a permanent home for another family member. Of course, if the particular family member was a stinker, it was really up to the family whether or not they were kept.
There were tales of members ‘disappearing,’ generally their history as a human was distinctively bad. Some time ago there was a debate on a law about feeding those held in suspension, living with the sickness, as they were called. Whether or not being feed with the bodies from those criminals who had contracted the sickness was morally right. He was really young then, so he didn’t know when it occurred. Whatever the outcome of the vote, it was never publicized. The government felt that the average citizen had enough to deal with surviving day to day without being troubled by moral issues.
In this world, the young man studied, grew and became an adult. He, like many before him, fell in love and married. He raised children, saw those children grow and become adults. In his later years, he began to question whether there was really an effort, still on going, to cure or prevent the disease. He started to research all those stories he had heard as a child.
His beloved wife begged and pleaded with him to stop his query. He refused. Not long before he too was striken with the disease, he began to show and explain his theories to his own grandson. The young man, not yet an adult, but no longer a child listened, cautiously. There were more rumors now than ever about the theories.
A few years after he had been secured in the containment room, his wife had had enough. She called the grandson to say goodbye, then hung up. His grandson was one of the first to come upon the scene.
The grandson saw something was wrong. In a hiding place he found a few pieces of research in a packet. It seemed prepared for him. He took and hid the packet on him. Then he gathered the rest of the research and took it outside to burn. He stood crumpling the papers and set them afire.
Silent cars pulled beside the house and men got out. The grandson continued to crumple and burn the papers, melting the disks and drives. The lead officer approached him.
“Son, what are you doing?”
The young man looked up, tears in his eyes, from the smoke and emotion. He was shaking.
“Burning this crazy stuff, I don’t want my dad to know. It would kill him.”
“What do you mean, son? Know what? Burn what?”
“My granddad, he had this crazy idea. It started just before he became that zombie monster thing. The early stage now is of not being right? They talk about it all the time in the news, the progress.”
“This happens more often than people realize.”
The young man looked directly in the eye of the officer. Searching the officer’s eyes for truth or suspicion. Did the officer buy his story? Was he falling for the deception?”
Breaking the silence between them the grandson asked, “What are you doing here?”
“There was a report of gunshots, we were just coming to check them out. When did you get here?”
“I got a call from Granma. She sounded odd.”
“She said she called to say goodbye. She hung up and never would answer. I got over here as fast as I could. I heard the shots on my way up the drive.”
“So, she trusted you?”
“I suppose. She talked to me, if that what you mean. I tried to help with Granddad before it went full blown, but . . . ”
“When they go, you just can’t stop it.”
“Yeah, I know. But, no matter how much you read, or know better, you still hope it isn’t so.”
“I am not supposed to do this, but here, let me help you with that.”
The officers in the house had already begun the cleanup, searching and destroying evidence of the research. The lead officer stood out with the young man, helping him crumple and burn the box of papers and destroy the knowledge; trying to discern whether or not the young man believed any of the truth.
Careful, mustn’t fall.
Old Tom heard the click of the latch open before he saw the front door swing wide. Front paws pushing against the window frame, back arched, letting the sun warm his old joints.
The old wooden door slammed shut.
What’s that? Forgot something did we? Second breakfasts perhaps? One last scratch behind the ear would be a nice good bye.
Through the living room and dining room with something in arms went the human.
Crinkle crackle of the food bag, and the sweet tinkle of the hard bits hitting a porcelain bowl.
What’s this, double breakfasts? Now we’re talking good service!
Tom leapt down and meandered indifferently around the living room furniture, zipping between legs of dining chairs to end up sitting next to the human’s feet in the kitchen doorway. There in the middle of his kitchen, head bowed over a bowl of dry food was a small scruff of fur. It was a very dirty, thin scruff of fur. It was a very hungry skinny kitten.
Well, you at least had the decency to not use MY bowls.
Tom looked up at the human and then purred and nuzzled the legs in praise of doing something right. Sauntering over half way to the fur ball, Tom sat. Tom eyed the mongrel as he waited to be noticed and bid the respect a cat of his age and stature was due.
The kitten continued to eat devouring the meal as if it was the last and only meal to have ever been eaten by any living breathing creature. Looking back to the human, Tom saw they were enamored with this show of devastation and heartbreaking scam.
Tom lost the last bit of patience in him. He flicked his tail and strutted up to this mornings center stage, fully prepared to regain his headliner status with a stellar performance. A few inches from the kitten and the small head removed itself from the bowl of food and turned to Tom. Neither feline moved.
The small kitten and the old cat moved at once mirroring defensive stances as if on cue. Backs arched, tails straight and true. Baring teeth they both hissed in unison followed by well orchestrated spits. Then sat in synchronized motion.
At the Olympics, they would have scored a ten. They sat, each staring the other down. The human bent to kneel and watch from a safe distance. Tom raised his head ever the slightest, the kitten lowered it’s and began a slow stalking crawl towards the old grey cat. Old Tom waited until the head was within paws reach.
Old Tom reached up and out over the small head and thunked it. The kitten rolled inward into a ball and yowled in mock pain. The human was not confused. “Tom! Did you have to set it to making noise?”
Over Tom’s shoulder he looked back, “What did I do?”
Rolling around the kitchen floor the kitten made its way within reach of Old Tom’s tail and pounced. Tom grimaced. Tom sighed. Tom flicked the fur off his tail and stood on all fours over the small attacker. The kitten mewed and purred.
Tom tried to maintain his sense of serious domination as the kitten mewed and purred AND rubbed up against him .
“So I can leave it to you to take car of him and show him the ropes while I am at work?” the human requested of Tom.
“Good, I have to get going. See you at five,” The human locked the door on the way back out.
The kitten continued to mew and purr, returning back to the bowls set out for its consumption. Over and over between the bowls and Old Tom interrupting the route with a little mew here and a purr there.
“It is strange how these being live, yes?”
“Yes, we have the better life, we who learned early on to stay down on all fours. They never realized their error in standing up.”
“What, their language offends you?”
“Ya- OW- l”
“I keep it up merely as a curiosity. Your mother was a purest then?”
“No, I find it an inscrutable language. What was that? Dogs? Oh, yes we have them here. They are as incorrigible as any other dog, though more easy going than some.”
“Do you speak at all?”
“A little, we, my litter, and I were separated. The being who took me was unacceptable. No where near as well trained as mother’s. I aim to find either members of my litter or mother; which ever comes first.”
“Well, if you so choose to remain here, this is as compatible as any other, but I think you may find it better than most.”
Not long ago, after a particularly long week, we tried to put the puppy outside to frolic with the big dogs in the yard. It was a lovely fall day, not too hot, not too cold. The grass was still green. We, the humans of the house, so wanted to enjoy a morning sleeping late. The dogs wanted to be fed and let out. The puppy, used to the morning routine wanted the food, but refused to go outside.
After trying to lure the puppy outside with the grown dogs, my husband chased the puppy into our room. The puppy yelped burrowing under the covers with me, to hide from the dreaded outside.
My husband asked, “She hiding under there?”
“Yes. I don’t think she wants to go outside.”
“You think? Hold on to her, she and me have to have a talk.” While he went to get coffee I reached down to ruffle the ears, pulling the furball out from under the covers. Furball and I cuddled while we waited.
Returning with two cups of coffee, he sat them on the table and settled sitting up in bed. Then we exchanged. Me the puppy for my morning cup of coffee. He the coffee for a squirrel-ly fur ball, with little trust. He sat her on his lap and sighed. This was going to be good, thought I. So I turned curled up with my coffee to watch the exchanged between the two.
“Little girl, we have to have a talk,” he began.
I could hardly hold back a smile. The puppy sat looking up at him with anxious attention, anxious for some ear scratching. The man looking down with a grimace.
He continued on, “Little girl, you are not human.”
He scratched the tip of one ear, “You have pointy ears. See, no pointy ears,” running a finger of his other hand around the curve of his own ear while still scratching hers.
He reached for her paw holding it between his fingers, “See this, it is a paw, a furry paw. See this hand, it is not furry.” In front of the little face he put his free hand wiggling his fingers.
“Paw, hand” He compared the two. Trying to show the puppy the difference. She just licked his hand holding her paw, and tried to wiggle under the other for a belly rub.
“Another thing, we humans? We walk on two, you furballs walk on four. Two, four. Get it. We are different.” First two and then four fingers wiggled in front of a tiny pink tongue trying to make contact. Undaunted that little ball of fur wiggled and waggled up his chest until she was licking his nose. talk’.
“You are not human. You are a dog. Dog’s go outside. They play outside. Outside is a good thing. Here let me show you,” his serious tone voice was in contrast to the playful puppy oblivious to ‘the talk.’
He rose carrying the wriggling fluffy fur to the yard. I followed behind watching him put her down in the yard. The big dogs stopped their play with a stick and watched as he raced to beat the puppy to the door. I quickly returned to bed to claim my space. Seconds behind me, he returned to the bedroom doorway.
“She burrowed under the covers?”
I had to laugh as she squirmed closer to the foot of the bed, her fur tickling the bottom of my feet.
“Think the talk worked?”
“Not really,” I giggled.
He grabbed our cold coffee to the kitchen to warm up. At the sound of his footsteps leaving the room, a furry head poked out from under the covers and jumped off the bed to follow her human daddy down the hall.
This week pictures previously drawn on a tentative picture book about dragons were in my hands twice. Nothing more than moving them from one place to another, but they were ‘active’ for brief moments twice. That is far better than the last six months.
It occurred to me that my places to work on illustrations as well as writing have diminished over the years. I have tried desperately to make this passion a business. Set myself up with work hours and spaces that really have confined my creativity instead of blossoming it.
This has got to stop. Now! We made some changes, for now and in the future about that critical ingredient to creativity – environment. Something as simple as the chair you sit in, the ability to move, have all your accruements within easy reach. One aspect we haven’t quite gotten right is sound.
When I wrote Snowball, it was on my computer, sitting at a wooden student desk crammed in the utility room, “ala Stephen King.” Bad Dream was written and drawn all over the place. No room in the house or even state in the union was off limits. It was written, rewritten, revised, even sketched in doctor’s waiting rooms and some ideas came to me laying in the hospital recovering from repair surgery on my arm.
Both took two years of work to get from written to published. This next tale is dragging along just like the first two, only I have set my own date of October this year to publish. Whether or not that will happen is solely put to me.
While some my say my work ethic has a play meeting that release date, truth is so much goes into that. For years my husband has been determined to return to performing illusions, magic – but he didn’t seem to be making as much headway and was so frustrated. We shared that. In the last few months we had taken to discussing why neither of us was making headway with our plans for making our passions our business. His enlightened observation was he missed a key piece of equipment that would make not only practice but performing easy. A traveling box/table combo that had eluded him. Not something one wants to buy sight unseen, yet the supply stores we visited from Virginia to California and Texas to Illinois had non to be seen- until Maryland.
A big thank you from my heart to yours Denny Haney. Denny & Lee’s Magic Studio had just what he had been searching for so long. Since the apparatus had arrived (had to be shipped – too large for our travel plans) Friday and once the hubby was home from his paying gig, the man has been piddling and practicing.
Now, if I can just set myself up to do the same for my side of things, this might be a happily ever after story.