Sunday, September 28, 2008
This time, before I jumped into the intricate plotline, I whipped up something of a character fact sheet. Because when dealing with a ginormous family, you really need a way to keep track of who's who, their ages, and important details like their catchphrases—which, of course, you must then find a way to worm into the story's dialogue by any means necessary. Catchphrases are just as good as a plot, right?
If you're stumbling over how to pronounce that, never fear! It will be spelled phonetically in the story!
1. Eric Nathaniel Trylaon 39
Kids are too darn crazy to understand.
2. Tamitha Devere McBrake Trylaon 36
Just like old times, huh?
3. Samantha Elizabeth Trylaon 14
No, really, he did?
Pretty, cheerful, energetic, looking for a good time.
There are one-line descriptions of each child, but not the parents or the baby. Because in case you haven't noticed, parents and babies played extremely minor roles in my work at this point. They were the literary equivalent of extras.
4. Marilyn Elaine Trylaon 12
Soak your head in a bucket of rotten water!
Cute, reliable, good ideas, wants to write a book.
5. Nicole Bianca Trylaon 9
A good book can take your mind off anything.
Cute, reader, organized, wants to grow up fast.
6. Adam Timothy Trylaon 7
Try jogging, it's good for the brain.
Cute, loud, athletic, wants to be in olympics.
7. Shenelle Caroline Trylaon 5
Shhh... my baby's sleeping now.
Cute, quiet, caring, just wants to be a kid.
8. Michael Jeremy Trylaon 1
Goo... Ma ma Shenelle.
And now to the riveting page and a half of sibling bickering!:
Marilyn stomped into the Trylaon kitchen. (Pronouned Trīlŏn)
Seriously. My mom must have helped me with that.
"Well, it's about time!" said Samantha her 14-year-old sister.
"Oh, soak your head in a bucket of rotten water!" she answered.
"Girls," their mother said "Be quiet, your father had a tough day at work."
"I had a tough day at school." said Marilyn as she bit into an apple.
"Don't ruin your apitite!" cried Samantha.
Just then Adam burst through the door.
"I won! There, Nicole, I won!" he said.
"You cheated!" complained Nicole.
"There you are, Nicole! Get in the car for your dentist's appointment." said mother.
"I hate the dentist!" she yelled as they walked out of the door.
Just bring along something to read! A good book can take your mind off anything, Nicole!
Just then, Shenelle came in.
"Okay." she said. "Where is she?"
Samantha screamed. "That rat got out again?"
"It's a hamster." replied Shenelle.
"Well, whatever. Just find it."
"I see I'm not wanted." and Shenelle left. [Yes, according to the character fact sheet, she is five.]
"You certainly aren't." muttered Samantha.
"I heard that!" shouted Shenelle.
"Oh, so what." answered Samantha.
"Marilyn rolled her eyes. "I'm outta here." she said.
Right after she left dad walked in, half-asleep still.
Work was so bad he had to take a nap.
"Hey, dad!" said Samantha and she waved absently.
"Wanna run the marathon, dad?" teased Adam and he jogged in place.
You guys know seven-year-olds who run marathons, right? RIGHT?
"Boy, oh, boy" said dad. "You kids makin' a big ol' racket down here. Can't sleep."
Oh, Eric! You know kids are too darn crazy to understand!
"Right dad. Hey, I'm gonna call Kathy."
"Don't tie up the line."
"Right dad." she said as she dialed. "Kathy... Really... No,.... he did.... what.... I hate her... do you really think so? Yeah?"
Then Adam rolled his eyes and he left along with dad who said "Don't stay on too long."
"Right dad." said Samantha.
"Boy," said dad when they got out. "I have some headache." He knocked on it.
Exactly how does one knock on a headache?
"Try jogging, it's good for the brain." Adam called down the stairs.
"Okay," said dad. "Maybe I'll try it."
And then it ends. Ahhh, just like old times!
So, was all of this sibling rivalry (erm, loathing?) imagined for the sake of the story, or did it have some basis in reality? Read the following journal entries and you tell me...
Journal topic: The trouble with brothers and sisters
The trouble about my sister is that she bites! It is not mature or lady like for a 9-year-old to bite but, she does. Also, she makes ugly faces and rude noises. She thinks she can always get her way. Oh, she also tries to bribe my brother with candy and always bursts into my room. WHAT A PAIN!
The trouble about my brother is that he is too young to understand what homework is. He thinks 'weapons' and 'battle beasts' are everything. Also, he likes to play with 'Barbie' dolls. He's afraid to walk up the basement stairs but he can walk down. OH NO!
Sometimes brothers and sisters can be O.K. if they work at it. My sister is mainly a big pain. Most of the time my brother is nice but he drives me crazy. OH WELL!
Journal topic: What works for me in a conflict
If I am in a conflict with my sister I walk away. I do that sometimes. Sometimes I tell my mom. Sometimes I hit her. I hit her if she hits me or if she won't leave me alone.
If I am in a conflict with my brother I take what I want and go. Sometimes I tell my mom. Most of the time I pretend to choke him. Then he won't bother me.
If I am in a conflict with my mom or dad I go in my room and blast my radio. Sometimes I blast my casette player. I stomp my feet and slam doors. My dad says if we keep slamming the doors, he will take them off their hinges.
In fact, he did.
If I solve a conflict in a non-violent way I tell mom. Or I can quietly go to my room. Or I can walk away. Or I can just stop.
Question: Does it count as violence if you're just pretending to choke someone?
I often pray that I will not be cursed with children as obnoxious as I was. Please, God, pleeeeeease.
NEXT TIME: Guest author (and my BFF) Jamie lets us peek inside her "celebrity"-autographed diary.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Land of Lost Books is pretty densely populated, so we may find ourselves visiting often. On our first trip here, we have an untitled camp tale, for which I drew a raucous bedtime scene. It's drawn on a ginormo piece of blue paper that does not come close to fitting in my scanner, so I had to scan the left and right halves separately. You'll just have to meld them together in your mind.
Clicking on the images will enlarge them, but I think we have to go through bunk by bunk anyway. Um, speaking of bunks, what is up with these crazy quadruple-decker beds that must be climbed via a trail of teeny-tiny pegs? Holy lawsuit waiting to happen! Also, please note how even though it is a drawing, I managed to finagle references to Tiffany and Kirk Cameron, not to mention sneak in another character named Mandy. But let's start at the tippy-top of the left bunk, with Dora, who may or may not be singing into a fourth grader–sized dildo:
Please note that the campers are apparently required to sleep with their luggage. Also, did you notice the little mark on Dora's bed? I would force friends and family to examine this drawing and select their favorite character. Dora and Carrie were the co-favorites of my indecisive friend Jessica.
Below Dora we have Marie, favorite of no one, who has giant Taylor Dayne–esque hair and is inexusably wearing a snowflake nightie in the summer:
Then there's the Kirk-loving duo of Carrie (that's right, Carrie! not Teresa!) and Mandy:
Carrie is trying to appear trés apathetic in her "Camp is Boring" shirt (which I like to think she puffy-painted during Arts & Crafts), but she cannot feign disinterest in the Kirkster. Mandy (who has two votes—apparently both of my grandparents were digging her) has selected Teen Beat for her bedtime reading.
In the middle of all the hubbub is Cabin #1's clearly beleaguered counselor, Joan. Who has plaid shorts, Converse high-tops, and a whistle. Um, and a hat with her name on it. Hot!:
Up top on the right side, we have Angie, who is either making fun of Counselor Joan or Single-White-Female-ing her really hard:
Next is the duo of Sarah and Tiffany. Sarah is looking quite snazzy in a half-shirt and undies, but I'm not sure how she managed the climb up to the third bunk with her pair of obviously atrophied legs. Tiffany, on the other hand, is overly mobile. And her hair rivals Marie's in terms of sheer '80s volume. Tarzan of the jungle? More like queen of the jungle with that frigging lion's mane she's sporting:
Then, of course, there's Lisa, who, in case you were oblivious to what all those zzz's floating around her head mean, is actually thinking, "I'm snoring." With one eye open. FAKER! Also, I just tried to re-create her sleeping pose on my couch and it was not the most comf:
Where was the story going to go? Who knows! As this picture proves, the possibilities were ENDLESS! But most likely they somehow involved Kirk Cameron.
NEXT TIME: More books that never were. Oh yeah, there are a bunch of them.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The first page is blank except for Detective written across the top.
The second page contains a drawing of a girl with two right hands who's about to perish of ennui, or—even more likely—be smothered to death by her own hair:
Page three finally brings us to our first case:
I was so excited about my big case that I momentarily forgot how to spell detective!
Someone's Cleveland Indians pencil had gone missing, and I was determined to find the criminal mastermind behind it!
I believe the checkmarks denote Sherron and Hesham as my prime suspects.
Sherron liked it.
Sherron is the theif
I remember we confronted Sherron about the pencil and forced her to give it back. Did I ever stop to think that there could possibly be two people with Indians pencils? Clearly not, because mystery solved! On to the next case!
Oh, except that page four features a lovely mountainous landscape:
On the fifth page, we're back in crime-solving business.
Jessica's slide for microscope is gone
Holy crap! Everyone's a suspect!
Ryan kept looking at Jessica and the slide. Jessica looked at teacher. Had to take it? Why? Tell all rooms it is gone. Good Idea! Dena went to bin a few times.
Why would someone feel the need to steal a microscope slide? That's an excellent question—and one that never gets answered, as the final outcome was:
Found by Ty's seat in L.A. by Ché
Note how even though it's obvious that Jessica accidentally dropped the slide at some point during Language Arts, I'm still highly suspicious of both Ty and Ché. A detective can never let her guard down!
Page six is blank, but pages seven and eight contain "notes." Although I'm still slightly concerned with wrongdoing on page seven, by page eight the whole thing has disintegrated into gossip and catty remarks.
Shonda took chalk from Tacie's desk.
Aaron thinks his pink and blue markers have been stolen. Scissors too.
Ryan has Katie K's pencil.
Someone broke Latonya's pencil.
Jessica's slide is gone. p. 5
Sherron, Sarah B, and Casey are writing a story.
Ryan is always with Kami.
Dena is being nosey.
Mrs. Turner [our lunch monitor!] is nosey.
Nathan J. is always talking.
Matt should do his work.
It was only natural that all of this real-life investigative work would have an influence on my writing. I give you Exhibit A, the following short story written when I was in fourth grade. It boasts an unflagging commitment to realism not glimpsed in my other works. Unfortunately, it also means the story totally sucks.
The phone rang! I picked it. [Note: I'm assuming it should say "I picked it up," but it really does just say "I picked it."] "Hi."
"Hey, Lisa, it's me." It was Daphne.
"Hey, Daffy Duck!" I answered.
"Ha ha! You'll never believe what happened in ballet class. I lost my ballet shoe! I have to have it by tomorrow for my next class. Can our team find it? I mean I know we can find it. But by tomorrow... I'm not so sure!"
That's right, the big "mystery" surrounds a misplaced shoe. And it takes an entire team to track it down.
"Sure, Daf, we'll do it. Let's see, it's 3:00. O.K. I've got it. I'll meet you and the rest of the gang at your house in 15 minutes, O.K.?"
"Sure, Lisa. See ya! In 15 minutes!"
We met at Daf's house. We being: (Me) Lisa, Daphne, Janis, Cici, Patty, John, and Ted.
"O.K. guys, let's search the house!" said Janis.
"All right!" agreed Cici and Ted. (They are sister and brother) "I'm not so sure!" said Daf.
"Aw. Come on, Daf-knee!" urged Patty.
"Yeah. I mean just because it's your house doesn't mean we can't investigate!" cried John.
"Don't get any ideas!" shouted Daf.
She seems to think Ted and John are dying to rifle through her underpants.
We ended up looking around.
"Found IT!" called Janis. We rushed over.
"Oh! Why, it's the one I already have!" said Daf.
Shouldn't she have shown that to "the team" earlier so they'd know what they're looking for? Hacks.
"It's 4 o'clock." I said. "Let's check the 'Ballet Room!'"
"Yeah!" everyone agreed.
So, we went to the 'Ballet Room'.
"Is this it?" called Ted.
"No." replied Daf. "it's Jenny Sawyer's. My feet aren't that big!"
"Is THIS it?" called Patty in her oriental accent.
This story is not only devoid of mystery, it's also racist. Great!
Daf shook her head. "Looks more like the preschool class. 3 or 4 sizes too small!"
"What about this?" screamed John. "What about this?"
"Hmmm. Let's see." Daf tried it on. "Oui! I fits! It's mine!" Daf knows some french.
I seemed to think that my minimal knowledge of the French language might make up for how utterly anticlimactic this story is.
"I KNEW WE COULD SOLVE IT!" everyone yelled.
SOLVE it? If finding misplaced items of clothing is considered detective work, then slap a badge on me right now. Why just the other day, as I was folding my laundry, I noticed one sock was missing its match—and I returned to the laundry room to find it on the floor outside the dryer. Check me out, guys! I'm adventurous as fuck!
NEXT TIME: We'll travel to the Land of Lost Books, where all of my brilliant storylines that never came to fruition live.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
This book is actually less about eating ice cream with boys (check out the dude with the feathered hair!) than it is about growing apart from old friends. And aside from having the word "Boys" in the title, it has nothing to do with my book—but I happened to find a copy of it at Goodwill over the weekend, so I just reread it. And I have to clear the air. You may recall that I had strong memories of one of the 12-year-old girls in this book getting "felt up." I am simultaneously ashamed and relieved to report that this does not happen. So I've either been confusing it lo these many years with some other book with a getting-to-second-base plotline (entirely possible) or else I just fabricated the whole scenario. Which has me a bit worried. At any rate, I do not want to spread rumors about Darlene. She may have grown a rack earlier than the other girls, but that doesn't mean she lets the boys touch it.
Onward now to my sequel, which—I'm gonna tell it to you straight—is kind of a letdown. There are none of the runaways, broken limbs, or tween prostitutes we've come to expect. Granted, it quite possibly would have become amazing had I given it the time to develop (with "Swimming" in the title, I think a near-drowning is pretty much obligatory, don't you?) , but I had moved on to bigger and better books before it had the chance. But can we just jump ahead and ignore the further adventures of Maggie and friends? Nay, I say. NAY.
A SUMMER OF SWIMMING, FUN, AND BOYS
My friends, Sam(antha) Trainline, Kelly Martison, and Maggie Kertz, and I started a club called, WE CAN LIVE WITHOUT BOYS. We had to change it when Kelly started going with this guy, Brian. So it turned into, WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT BOYS.
Well, I got home from Brian's end of the year party. I was excited because all 4 of us had gotten our first kisses that night.
So, like a good season premiere episode on TV, this book picks up right where the last one left off. Only this time we're treated to the POV of Sherry. Is she as obnoxious as Maggie? Is such a thing even possible? I'll let you be the judge.
"Sherry," called my mom. "Come here." I slowly strolled into the living room. Did I look like I'd just been kissed? I hope not.
Ummm... not unless you have a hickey or something. Which, seriously, I don't even want to imagine a fourth grader with a hickey... and now I just did. Bleeeeccchhhh.
"Your grandpa in New York just had a heart attack." my mom said solemnly.
"You mean dad's dad?" I asked.
She nodded. "He just left a few minutes ago."
"This," I said. "Is going to ruin our vacation plans."
Yes, he knew you were planning on going to Disney World, so he clogged his arteries ON PURPOSE just to spite you, Sherry! Mua ah ah ah ah! (If, you know, it's possible for one to muster up evil laughter whilst in the ICU.)
"We've changed them. Go pack. We're leaving for New York tomorrow morning after breakfast." replied my mother.
"Watch out, New York. Cause here we come." said my 8-year-old sister, Dia.
This is the kind of sassy dialogue I would hear on TV and then try to incorporate into my everyday vernacular with less-than-stellar results.
"This ought to be good." I said to Dia. We were packing. I was helping her and she was helping me.
"What do you mean?" Dia asked me.
"What I mean is, we're ruining a perfectly good vacation to take care of a half-dead grandfather we don't even know."
Mua ah ah... wheeze.
"You always look at things so negatively." Dia told me. Negative was one of her last vocabulary words. "Think positive." Another vocabulary word.
"You're right." I said. "He's probably fully dead by now."
You guys, it's not that Sherry's lacking in compassion, it's just that they don't know him. So you can see why they wish their dad's father would just hurry up and DIE already so they can hit up some Space Mountain and chillax with adults dressed like cartoon characters. (Confession: I've never actually been to Disney World, so all of my Disney information comes from the first BSC Super Special.)
"We're staying at your cousin's house. You know, the Fletcher's." mom said. We had just gotten on the road.
"Are the Fletcher's the ones with the family of frogs?" asked Dia.
"No." answered my mother. "The Fletchers don't have frogs."
"Then what do they got?" Dia wanted to know.
"Have." corrected mom. "They're the ones we didn't visit last year."
"Oh no." I groaned. "Not the ones with the 5 boys."
"Yea." she said. "The ones with the 5 boys."
Wait, wait, wait—the titular "boys" are her COUSINS? I feel cheated! And when is the "fun" going to kick in? So far it's more like a summer of cousins, whining, and palliative care.
I started to write a letter to Maggie:
You wouldn't believe it. We're staying at my cousin's. Those cousins are 5 boys. UGH. There names are Adam, Ben(jamin), Chuckie, Don(ald), and Ernie. Write and see if I survive.
Half-dead but still trying,
I also made a chart that looked like this:
I really loved a good chart. There are MANY later books that have charts... but often no actual narration. When you already know everyone's names and ages, who needs it?
Great, I thought. I'm closest in age to Ben. Dia's with Chuckie. It's unbelievable that the 5 boys are each 2 years apart. I also think it's dumb to name them in alphabetical order.
It's too bad Sherry doesn't have an opinion!
A letter to Sam:
How's California? Guess what, I'm stuck in New York with 5 boy cousins. GRODY. Ben is 10, like me. Chuckie is 8, like Dia. I'll keep you up-to-date.
Spending the summer with five boys is obviously a fate worse than death. Also, I like how all of the club members' families left on their vacations the absolute SECOND that school let out. Do you think Sam has gotten Kirk Cameron's autograph yet???
"We're there." shouted mom, pulling into a driveway.
"A pool." shrieked Dia.
"Wow." I said. I sniffed. Sure enough, Dia's ultra-sensitive nose had picked up the chlorine scent.
"Joy, Luke," called mom. "We're here."
Two little boys burst through the front door.
"My name," said the taller one, "Is Don. This is Ernie." He pointed to the other boy.
"I'm Dia. That's Sherry. I smell your pool."
Why does that sound like a euphemism for something dirty?
Just then the 3 other boys came out.
"I'm Adam." We shook hands.
Cousins: kind of like business associates.
"I'm Chuck....ie." We nodded.
"I'm Ben. Wanna go for a dip?" We jumped into the pool.
I loved that beautiful feeling of the cool water covering my body. Their pool had a diving board and a slide. I couldn't believe that, Ernie, 4 years old, could do perfect backward dives. It was amazing.
Okay, at least the swimming part wasn't a lie.
"Get out of that water." shrieked Aunt Joy. At that, my mom ran off the porch from talking to Uncle Dave. [Um, wasn't his name Luke, like, a second ago?] "Children these days," continued Aunt Joy. That's when Uncle Dave strolled over. "You'd think they'd have enough sense to.... well enough decentcy to..... not jump into pools with their clothes on." Aunt Joy finally finished.
"My god..." gasped mom. WHY? Then I realized why. Dia and I were wearing our brand-new outfits she bought us. "Ooooooops." I muttered.
Dia clamped her hand over her mouth.
Jumping into a pool while fully clothed? That was the highest drama I could come up with? This sucker was doomed from the start.
The 3 older boys put on innocent faces. Don picked the toe-jam from between his toes. [Uh, GRODY!] Ernie sucked his thumb.
Not such a hot first day, huh?
A letter to Kelly:
you lucky, lucky ducky
you've gone to Connecticutty
while I'm stuck in New York (not the city)
with 5 boys
instead of Florida
playing with toys in Disney World
And that's it. After Sherry wrote the same letter for the third time (with half-assed limerickish flair this go-round), I gave up on this crap. I actually thought so little of this sequel that it didn't even get its own manila folder! That speaks volumes, no?
NEXT TIME: My obsession with detective work leads me to write the world's most unmysterious mystery.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
It’s been a long time since I’ve read Veronica the Show-Off by Nancy K. Robinson [Sada says: That links to a book review by a 5th grader, FYI], but I’m pretty sure this story is an exact copy of that book, except with more product placement. It’s also one of my many chapter books about a girl who gets inappropriately jealous when her best friend makes friends with another girl. And yet it took me until I was 20 to realize that I was bisexual. Huh.
Katie The Great
Chapter 1: The Pain in the Neck
Originally, this chapter was called “The Swiss Cake Roll Ban,” though when I tried to decipher the erased title just now, I read it as “The Swiss Cake Roll Band,” and if my actual band did not already have a name, I think I would have to suggest that.
The day Katie became a student of Michaels Elementary in Mrs. Ennis’ class will always be vivid in my mind. My name is Cassie, and I’m about to tell you about Katie Amanda Delane.
Katie A. Delane was considered, at first, by us girls, a real pain in the neck. The first day she ate lunch in the cafeteria she had two Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls for dessert!
Lesson #1: People who eat snack cakes are mean!
Now let me get one thing straight. In Michaels Elementary’s 4th grade classes, you’re considered a heroine if you have something as totally yummy as Little Debbie snack cakes.
Hang on… Lesson #1 revised: People who eat snack cakes are awesome!
Well, anyway, that girl shoved those Little Debbies down her mouth as if they were about to disappear. She just ignored our pleading.
Lesson #1 revised again: People who eat snack cakes and don’t share them are mean.
Then IT started! “Did you know I have a full-sized color T.V. in my bedroom?” she asked. You poor dears probably don’t. Anyway, I also have a VCR, and oh…”
I rolled my eyes and managed an exasperated sigh, but that stupid girl kept on babbling about her TV and VCR.
The worst was yet to come. [The author had just discovered foreshadowing.]
When I got home, I put in a tape of Disney’s Robin Hood. Now I love Disney’s Robin Hood [still true today], I even know every word by heart [also still true, although I no longer feel the need to act out every scene along with my DVD… most of the time], but today all I could think about was Miss Katie Amanda Delane!
The next day was horrible. Katie became the girls’ heroine, idol, and ugh! Even Maggie, my best friend, worshiped her. It was as if she was a rock singer, like “Tiffany.”
Ugh! Even the S.D.G.L., a club I’m in [fun reader activity: figure out what the hell that acronym stands for!] wanted Katie for the new president. “Why?” I asked.
“Because she has the new ‘Tiffany’ tape,” replied Maggie.
I groaned. I didn’t think I would ever want to hear about Katie or “Tiffany” again.
Clearly, Cassie is not a fan of Claudia Kishi or Stacey McGill, either.
Mabye I was an outcast. Mabye Katie was taking Maggie away from me. Mabye. Maybe. That word kept ringing in my ears. [But only occasionally spelled correctly.] I wasn’t sure of any thing anymore.
Chapter 2: VCRS?
Originally, this chapter was called “White Castles,” though I’m not sure if this referred to a later-abandoned plot point or to another planned product placement. The entire point of this chapter is to introduce/reference characters from every single story I had previously written.
Ugh! Katie’s seat was of course next to me. At Math I was writing a note to Maggie that said:
Then Katie saw the note. “I’m her lunch partner!” she said. Katie was taking Maggie away from me. It wasn’t possible.
At lunch I sat with Jennifer and Trish from Ms. Wayne’s class. Trish was reading The Diary of Ann Frank, as usual.
Fun trivia: Originally, Trish was reading The Diary of Brenda Watson, another story I was writing at the time. Because as long as I was peppering the book with product placements, it only made sense that I should advertise my own products as well.
At the next table Katie was bragging to Brenda Watson [the famous diarist herself] and Anna Pervis about her V.C.R. and balcony.
Trish overheard her. “Who is that girl?” she asked.
I shrugged. “She’s Katie Delane."
Jennifer cried, “You mean Jon Delane’s younger sister?”
The other kids around us giggled. Jon Delane was a 6th grader who was always causing trouble.
This explanation was superfluous, of course, because my readers would no doubt remember Jon Delane from his own novel, Clown of the Sixth Grade.
Tara Estes [who apparently appeared out of nowhere] said “Mabye she’s making this stuff up. My brother Mike knows Jon, he’s even been to his house! Mike never said anything about TVs and VCRs in bedrooms.”
And lord knows that would be the first thing anyone would share after coming home from a friend’s house… or something.
“Yes, Cassie,” spoke Trish [who was a Serious Person, as evidenced by the fact that she said “yes” instead of “yeah"]. “She could have made those things up just so that you’d like her.”
“Kind of like Meredith?” I asked, looking towards the blond girl talking to Jenny Northrup. Meredith had lied to us about her lovely white horse, really a dusty old mare.
As featured in another exciting novel I hadn’t written yet. Because it is a truth universally acknowledged that all nine-year-old girls who like to write will at some point try their hand at a horse story, even if it’s a really lame one where the climax is just that a girl has told everyone that her horse is clean, and then it turns out that her horse needs a bath.
“I believe her,” Alexis Whiting, also in my class, and Laura’s best friend, [and one of the stars of the famous novel A Special Friend] remarked. "A snob like her would probably get any thing she wanted. Laura, I love your shirt.” Laura’s shirt was one she made herself: In glitter “Davy Jones” was written all over it.
Alexis and Laura apparently popped up from the same hole as
And here I have to talk a little about A Special Friend. I’ve long since lost the original story, which sucks, because it was hilarious. Laura is sad because her old best friend ditched her for some other girl. Sound familiar? Anyway, then a new girl moves in across the street: Alexis Whiting, who has curly red hair and ice-blue eyes. It turns out they both love the Monkees and have a crush on Davy Jones, even though it’s 1988 and Davy is 42 and has a mullet. They enter a contest on MTV called “Dream Date With Your Favorite Monkee,” and they win! Then Alexis—wait for it—makes another friend, and Laura—wait for it—gets jealous. There’s an amazing dream sequence where Laura drowns in a swimming pool while Alexis and Davy laugh at her. Then Laura and Alexis make up, and they meet Davy and salivate over his eyebrows together, and all is right with the world. The end!
Sada says: This blog, and indeed the WORLD, is truly a sadder place without that story. And I also loved (circa 1966, mop top) Davy Jones! I think it was when he guest starred on My Two Dads that I finally realized how elderly and mulleted he had become.
Maggie and Katie were at the far table. They were lauging and talking like they were best friends. Mabye they were.
“Looks like Katie found a new friend,” remarked Jennifer. “You don’t look too happy about it.”
“Nope. I guess Katie’s not my type.”
Oh, the ho!yay!, you can cut it with a knife. A pink knife covered in glitter and a picture of a pelican.
“This is like what happened to me awhile ago,” Laura said. [Which shouldn’t be surprising, as Laura’s creator only had ONE PLOTLINE.] “I guess you and Maggie won’t go back to each other, though.”
I groand. “Darn!” [Language, Cassie!]
“Mabye you won’t need to be the “ex-friend” of Maggie,” said
“Huh?” I said blankly.
“Mabye we can come up with a plan that’ll show Maggie that Katie’s a big bore.”
“Oh! And maybe Katie can help us!”
“How?” Trish asked.
“By giving her best braggy speech tomorrow at lunch!” Jennifer cried.
The next day our big plan would start. I could hardly wait!
So… before we move onto the next chapter, let’s get this straight. Maggie is fascinated by Katie and loves to hear her talk. So Cassie and co. are going to convince Maggie not to be friends with Katie by… encouraging Katie to talk to her? Yup, this is definitely going to work.
Chapter 3: The Against Katie Plan
On Thursday we put our plan into action. Elenor [who?] went over to Katie’s desk and said, “Katie, at lunch please tell us about your fabulous room.”
“Sure!” said Katie. Elenor winked at me. I knew what to do.
“Maggie!” I called. “Lunch partners?”
“If you wanna sit by Katie!” she replied.
“All right,” I said. I smiled at
Again, I’m not sure how this plan is supposed to work.
It didn’t go that way. [Raise your hand if you are surprised.] Maggie listened intensely [or possibly intently] as Katie described her French maid, Nanetta. “Oh, she’s a doll!” she said in her braggy, off-hand way.
“Now what do we do, Ms. Ingenious?” I whispered to
“Beats me!” she said, shrugging. Mabye make another plan?” [It’s worth noting that fourth-grade me could throw out words like “ingenious” and actually spell and use them correctly, but the word “maybe” was entirely too difficult to master. I don’t know.]
Apparently, that’s what Jennifer and Merideth were thinking, because they pulled Tara, Trish, and me aside. Elenor followed.
“What are we gonna do?” asked Meredith. “That girl Katie will never lay off of Maggie!”
“Yeah!” I said. My eyes started to gleam mischeivously. “I have an idea…”
Well, our plan began after lunch. All the girls involved: Tara, Trish, Jennifer, Elenor, Meredith, and me, ignored Maggie and Katie. If we saw them, we would give them a cold stare, turn to each other, pretend to whisper, and nod at them.
Maybe it’s too long since I’ve been in fourth grade, but I’m not sure how relational aggression is going to win Maggie back. If I were Maggie, I would probably say, “Screw those losers” and keep hanging out with Katie. I mean, Katie has a TV, a VCR, a French maid, and an endless supply of snack cakes. What do the other girls have? A copy of a crappy Disney movie? A dirty horse? A disturbing obsession with an aging teen idol? No, thanks.
I could see those girls looking uncomfortable already.
Well, not for long. Katie, the next day, brought a pitch black book to school. She and Maggie kept it with them all day.
“What’s in that book?” asked Trish.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “But I’ll soon find out!”
That day when Katie went to the Girls Bathroom, she left her book on her desk. I snatched it off, and read it fast. [But if you think Cassie is going to tell us what’s actually in the book, you are wrong.]
Then, taking a pencil, in the book I scrawled ‘Yo!’ on the first page.
And this accomplished… what, exactly?
I showed it to Elenor who sat across from me. She snickered and nodded at Katie, who was staring coldly at me. She had seen what I had written!
Lesson #2: Writing ’80s slang on other people’s property will seriously piss them off. Duly noted.
Chapter 4: My Write-A-Book [and one more bit of product placement before we go!]
Next week I found out that what Katie had was called a Write-A-Book. I got one on Monday. It was sea green [my favorite Crayola color]. In school I noticed that every one in 4th grade had a Write-A-Book.
Elenor, Merideth, Jennifer, Trish, Tara, and I brought ours to lunch. Everyone knew [somehow] that you should only show your Write-A-Book to your best friend. So Trish and Jennifer read each others, Tara and Elenor exchanged, and Merideth and Amy Reubens [wait, wait—who?] exchanged. I was upset when Katie and Maggie exchanged books. That meant that Katie and Maggie were best friends! Angrily I crossed out the part of my Write-A-Book that said: I like Maggie [repeated 10 times, for Pete’s sake!].
And… that’s it. Except for a note at the bottom of the page that says, “If you enjoyed this book, don’t miss the others in this great series: #1, A Special Friend, #3, Eggs in Slime Sauce. #1 we’ve already covered, of course, but #3 was the exciting story of a girl who decided to try new food. In chapter one, she went to a party, sang songs from Flower Drum Song, and ate some chocolate-covered strawberries. In chapter two, I died of boredom and threw the whole thing away.
I rewrote Katie the Great a bunch of times in middle and high school, and it always ended with everyone finding out that Katie had been lying. Surprise. In one version, her bedroom was covered with Strawberry Shortcake decorations. Oh, the humiliation.
Sada says: She made that up about Nanette? No way! If you too are itching for the fame and glory that come with being a guest author (ahem, Bridget Locke and her werewolves), e-mail me: email@example.com. Definitely let me know the grade you were in when you composed your master work, as I'm still trying to maintain some semblance of a timeline; the year it was written; and any insider info. Bonus points if you send a photo of yourself at the age of authorship! (I am still kicking myself that I didn't have the foresight to snag all of my school photos from my folks' house...)
NEXT TIME: By popular demand, the sequel to We Can Live Without Boys... Can't We?, in which Sherry's vacation plans are ruined by her dying grandfather. Seriously, that's the plot.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Journal topic: "Something about myself"
Tawana [our neighbor, who was in middle school at this point] came over yesterday and said I better be an author or she'd kill me. On the phone she was telling someone that I write books and all that. Then she asked me to help her write a poem. She's crazy.
The story I'm working on now seems like it'll never be finished. If my mom and I can find a publisher who does kid's stories, we might send them some of mine.
"A publisher who does kids' stories." I think that's some sort of mythical creature.
I like to draw, too. If I get a book published, I'll do the pictures also. I drew a picture of my friend, Caitlin. It came out good. One the other hand, the picture of Courtney was terrible........... I'll just keep trying.
We must have had to share these journal entries with a classmate and then report back because at the bottom it says:
Ché likes to work with her hands. She wants to be an olympic skater and win 1,000 gold medals or be an artist.
A thousand gold medals? Looks like I wasn't the only one with slightly unrealistic career goals.
4/18/88 Journal topic: "Careers"
I want to be an author and an artist. I like to draw and write. People like my stories. I helped my friend write a poem for homework. Her teacher thought she copied it out of a book. Ha!
Nope, she just had a fourth grader write it for her. That's not cheating, right?
I like to work with kids. My mom says I'm good with little kids. We have a pre-school in our basement. My brother and his friends love it! We help them count, learn the alphabet, paint, sing, and lots more!
This was an unofficial preschool run by my sister and me; we pretty much forced my brother and his friends to attend.
There really isn't a possible way to combine the two that I can think of. Then again, there's no reason why I can't do both. Teach and then draw and write in my spare time. Well, I'll figure something out!
I hate to break it to you, fourth-grade me, but the "writing in my spare time" thing has never worked out that well for me. Unless this blog counts! And I'm not a teacher, but I have had a bizarre combination of publishing and childcare jobs over the years (fortunately leaning more toward the publishing end as of late).
But my journal was not just about expounding upon my literary prowess. It was also a good chance to do some writing exercises during school hours. Like character sketches... of inanimate, hot pink objects.
No journal topic listed, so God only knows how I came up with this brilliance
Hi! I'm Chrissy, a hot pink kite. Mariam got me for her birthday last month. She was so exited that I couldn't believe it. [Me neither—it's a KITE, for God's sake!] I thought, oh it's just one of those kids my parents told me about.
At least once a week [what kind of windy-ass city do they live in?] Mariam takes me to the park where I float and twist on a string. Not that it's bad because I really do like it. I think soaring in the sky is really very peaceful. If I don't get stuck in a tree I enjoy it very much.
When your up there in the sky the view is great. No matter which way Mariam takes me, I always turn around to look at the park. The trees with their yellow, red, and orange leaves are so beautiful. There is a small stream that glistens in the sun. The cool, crisp air all around me.... Oh, Mariam is pulling me down. 'Bye.
But if the musings of Chrissy the Hot Pink Kite aren't ground-breaking enough for you, I also tried to branch out into other genres...
Journal topic: "An adventure"
The whole language arts class was going on a field trip in the mountains. A weekend trip but, there was a girls' side and a boys' side. [There will be no funny business on this field trip!] When we got back we would write about it in our journals.
"The teacher fell in this hole!" someone yelled. A few people cheered. "No! Really she did. With all the food too." someone else agreed. Then a few people tried to push
Tyniesha was actually a friend of mine, but I guess we weren't getting along that day. Sorry, Ty!
The minutes seemed like hours now. Some boys started playing football. Some girls rolled their eyes. "We hafta get her out of there." someone announced. "How?" asked some kids. "Do we have any rope?" "She's got it down there! So, no, we don't." "I have an idea. Gimme that football." They threw the football down. Mrs. Brennan tied the rope around it and threw it back up. We all helped her up. "Can we go home?" someone asked.
Erm, that was more like "problem solving" than "adventure." Let's try this again.
Journal topic: "Space travel"
The people on my spaceship are running around like wild because of one little mal-function. Even my best member of the crew refuses to get even the slightest bit close to that area. I don't know what has come over everyone. They don't run around, busy at work, anymore. Instead they just sit around, white. They barely speak!
I've had enough of this. I am the captain and I can do what I want. I get on the radio and to the scientist back on earth. I tell him our problem and he says it's natural for my crew to act like that. I tell him I don't like natural. We talk for about two hours until we finally have our problem solved.
I tell the crew just what to do. I am surprised at their enthusiasm. Soon they are back on their feet and working harder than ever. I can't believe what a little mal-function can do!
I don't like natural!
Okay, so I was not cut out for action-adventure writing. I even "girl"ed this journal entry up by doodling the following at the bottom:
NEXT TIME: Guest author Carey's fourth grade masterpiece, the sarcastically titled Katie the Great, in which Little Debbie snack cakes play a pivotal role. You don't want to miss it!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
"What happened to Brian?" Sam questioned.
"I can't talk about it."
"Come on, Kelly." I urged.
"No." she sobbed.
"KELLY." shouted Sherry.
"HE BROKE HIS LEG." screamed Kelly.
As you can see, the PlotMaker3000 had once again selected BROKEN LIMB. How many of you guessed that?
"Oh god." muttered Sam.
"Kelly," I said. "Sit down. He'll be ok."
"No he won't. He'll be surrounded by young, pretty, nurses. He'll marry one and be real happy and I'll be left out in the cold and and and..." Kelly burst into tears.
Okay, this is quite possibly more ludicrous than the underground clubhouse. He is 10! Unless his nurse is Mary Kay Letourneau, I'd say you're safe, Kelly.
"Go visit him. He'll be glad to see you. Real glad." Sherry suggested as she walked out of the bedroom.
"And bring him flowers or candy." Sam added.
"And a card. Everyone loves cards." I told her.
Just don't forget the flowers! 10-year-old boys love nothing more than a tasteful bouquet.
"No dice. You have to be twelve; we're ten." Kelly said sadly. Tears stained her cheeks. I needed to help her. It only took a split-second for my brain to start working.
My grandmother was hospitalized around this time, and I think her hospital had a no-kids-under-12 age stipulation. Or else I made that crap up.
"I've got it." I shouted, making Sherry jump. "He's in the children's ward, right?"
"And we're children, right?"
She nodded again.
"Well, children should be allowed in the children's ward, right? Shouldn't they?"
"Yea. IF they're hurt, WHICH I'M NOT." she yelled at me.
Way to get that brain working! But seriously, how long is he going to be there? It's a broken leg, for fuck's sake! He'll be home in a few hours.
"You could give him something when he gets home." Sam said.
"You could call him" said Sherry.
"Maybe." Kelly said doubtfully. "Look I gotta go home. My stepmom's gonna start looking for me if I'm not home soon. 'Bye."
"Don't we live here?" I asked Sam.
"Nah." she said, shaking her head. "Just me but, I live in the house up there."
"Can I move in?" I asked.
Sam sat down. "Let me think." she said.
I went to fix up my bed. I pulled my red teddy bear blanket over the bed. I stuck the pillow up at the top of the bed. I set my red teddy bear at the end of the bed. I taped a Michael J. Fox poster over the bed. I tossed a book onto it too.
Apparently Sam has dibs on all the Kirk-related paraphernalia. But I love that Maggie packed a Michael J. Fox poster in her suitcase of runaway essentials. I guess all you really need is Halloween candy, an extra pair of shoes, and a Michael J. Fox poster.
Kelly asked me to put up her George Michael poster, which I did without complaining. Poor Kelly. She really loves Brian. More than I do, I thought. A lot more.
There was one dresser in the bedroom. One dresser with 4 drawers. Everyone got a drawer.
Thanks for that useless bit of info.
Sam was still thinking when I finished. I decided to do something else.
I decided to write a letter to my favorite cousin, Corey.
Ooooh, yes! We have so much to discuss: the club, Hookoween, the Brian/Kelly drama, and of course the secret underground lair! This is going to be quite a letter.
This must be the date I was actually writing the story, because I think we can all agree that it is November in Can't-Live-Without-Boys Land.
How is everything in New York? It's ok here in Ohio. I can't wait for the snow even though I know you can't stand it. I can. I love sledding, snow ball fights, and snow men. Even though we don't have much in common, you are still my favorite Cousin.
Gotta go. Tell you more when I can.
P.S. See you at Thanksgiving. Write back soon.
...Or we could just write about the weather. Riveting, Maggie. I'm sure Corey is going to get RIGHT back to you about those snowmen.
"Sam," I asked her, "Do you know yet?"
"You can stay until Sunday night, ok?" Sam answered.
"Thanks." I smiled. "Are you going to?"
Sam shook her head. "Gotta go to a dinner party with my folks. Means a lot to 'em, ya know?" I nodded. "Do me a favor and call Kelly. See what she's doin', will ya?"
"Sure. I was going to anyway." I lied.
"'Bye." I called as Sam left.
Let's see about that Kelly. I'll call. I will. Right now I think. Will it disturb her? Will she be mad? No, I'll call her. I said I would and I will.
"Hello. Is Kelly there." I asked.
"Nope. No way, I mean, 'No she isn't.' She'll be back in an hour. Can I take a message." Obviously Liza, her older sister.
"Yeah. Tell her Maggie called. Do you know where she went?"
"Dud. I mean, 'No I don't but, I'll tell her you called.'"
"Ok. 'Bye." I said in an annoyed tone.
"Chow." said Liza as if she wasn't really sure.
"'Bye." I said again.
I stayed until Sunday. I even made dinner and breakfast all by myself. Sam helped me with lunch. I went home before dinner on Sunday.
Sam was working on putting a T.V. in the clubhouse. Or hide-out. Well whatever it is.
I didn't know what to call it even then! Also, Kelly was totally watching cartoons earlier. I definitely started getting sloppy toward the end here.
On Monday, everybody was talking about the new girl in Mr. Clark's room. Angela. Angie Brett. Angie.
I had already used my "secret hideout" plot device and my "broken limb" plot device, so what else was there... something that could really get the story moving again... Oh yes! Another new student!
"What about her?" I asked Sam inquisitively.
"Oh," gasped Sam, "She looks like a full-grown woman."
My eyes grew larger and I could tell Sherry's did to. "Maybe she thought we were having Halloween today." Sherry suggested anxiously.
"No," Sam shook her head. "The weird thing is that she's real short."
"Shorter than Tiffanie?" I asked. Tiffanie is the shortest girl in our class. She's also the shortest girl in the 4th grade.
Sam nodded. "much."
"Daaaag." Sherry was amazed. She must be 3 ft. tall, I thought. I was close. Angie was 3'5".
Sam was right. She looked like a miniature adult. Her dirty blond hair was slicked back into a bun. Her lips looked like they were painted on. They pressed together tightly as if she were mad but she wasn't. Her gray eyes stared blankly at the chalkboard. Her arms were crossed and she looked serious and business-like.
I cannot wrap my head around how a 3'5" 10-year-old could look remotely like an adult. Even if "looks like an adult" is, like, code for "already has boobs," she's 3-foot-freakin'-5!
She was in our Language Arts class-and Math too. Angie didn't talk. She squeaked and squealed.
"In the sentence, 'My wife and I miss the lovely mountains.', why didn't you use 'me' instead of 'I'? Angela?" said Mrs. Melnick.
"It wouldn't sound right if you said, 'Me miss the lovely mountains.'"squeaked Angie.
"Correct. What does sound right? Chris."
"I want to kiss Angie." Chris said dreamily. The class cracked up. Angie and Chris turned crimson.
"Do you believe that Chris?" Sam asked us. We had just started eating lunch when she bounded in, all smiles."
"At least Brian isn't falling head-over-heels like the rest of them." Kelly pointed to the boys' group. We called them 'The Bra Snappers' behind their backs!
Because soooo many fourth graders wear bras.
"He can't." Brian was at home. He'd be back tomorrow. Well he was supposed to be. He was still getting over the broken leg. Kelly went to see him. She gave Brian a dozen roses. Now those 2 are really in love.
If you were a 10-year-old boy, how embarrassed would you be to get a dozen roses? Wouldn't you prefer, say, a Transformer? Male readers, feel free to weigh in.
"Hi guys." Angie squealed. "I don't think we've met. I'm-"
"Angie. We know. I'm Sam."
"I'm Sherry." she said with a toss of her head. [The hell?]
"I'm Maggie." I said easily. Usually I'm nervous around new kids. Sam was an exception. I could tell Angie was too. She was so cheerful it was easy to feel comfortable around her.
I started considering having Angie join the club. I'd tell the others after school.
"Hi. My name's Kelly. Half the boys in school are crazy about you. You should watch out for her." Kelly gave a quick nod in Emmy's direction. We all nodded.
"She's trouble." Sherry added.
"Gotcha." said Angie, barely squeaking. Then she winked.
...And then I started to second-guess my "new character" plan.
Angie never did get into the club, though. She became a second Jenni. They worked night and day at Jenni's place, delivering gossip. Since Angie lived next door it was easy.
Summer vacation was approaching quickly.
I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was out of ideas. Plus, my own fourth grade school year was at an end. That meant I had to wrap this story up STAT!
Sam, Sherry, and I wanted to get asked to the end-of-the-year dance. It was being held at Brian's even though he couldn't dance. He was taking Kelly, naturally.
Yeah, Brian's leg has been in a cast for about seven months. What of it? It was a reeeeally bad break.
Angie got asked the next day. Chris. We never forgot that English lesson. She said yes.
After that, Sherry was asked. Mark Kramer. He walked up at lunch, so the rest of the club had the pleasure of watching.
"You wanna come to Bri's party with me, Sherry?"
"Sure, Mark." That was settled.
Sam went with- you know who- JAMES. He called her the same day Sherry was asked. Sam said yes. She took her time, making him survive, struggling, through 10 minutes of decision. Sam likes to give pain.
Pain + electronics = Sam's domain. Oh, and Kirk Cameron posters.
I almost went without a date. At the last minute I got a phone call. IT WAS TIMMY. Wait a second. No, it wasn't. It was Drake.
That's how interchangeable they are in this story.
"Maggie, you wanna come to the party with me?"
"Of course I would." I shrieked.
Way to play it cool.
Drake, Mark, James, and, yes, even Brian were pretty good dancers.
The year ended nicely, with the 8 of us lined up for a quadroople date.
That night I got my first kiss. The other 3 girls got theirs too.
I like how the smooching is glossed right over, since I had no idea what kissing a boy would be like in actuality.
It was a night we'd never forget. It'd been one heck of a year. We were all looking forward to an equally exciting summer.
Do you get the feeling I was setting things up for a sequel? Yeah, that's because I totally was! Though extremely short-lived, it's fantastically titled A Summer of Swimming, Fun, and Boys. Swimming? Fun? AND boys? Sounds like a recipe for awesome to me!
NEXT TIME: Some journal entries reflecting back on my literary career. Oh yes.