Wednesday, February 12, 2020

MY LINKS

FREE STORIES/POEMS

STORYBERRIES
In addition to hosting multiple stories and poems by me, this Australian site has a wide selection of stories and poems and is a great resource for parents and teachers.

This wonderful site contains all sorts of original children's poetry. The captain of the balloon is Jonathan Humble, himself an accomplished poet.

Some early attempts at writing my own fairy tales. Not my best work, but you might find them interesting.

"NOTHING FOR CHRISTMAS"
Everyday Fiction was nice enough to publish this short, bittersweet tale of friendship and the holidays.

"THE UNTIMELY DEATH OF A DELICATE DESERT FLOWER"
For those interested in Westerns, here's my attempt at writing one which ran on Frontier Tales in May of 2019. (Not suitable for kids, violence)

An unconventional love story which originally ran on Daily Science Fiction. (Not suitable for kids, sexual content)

Another site devoted to stories for young readers, Short Kids Stories, took a chance on this tale with a somewhat...unexpected ending.

A slightly chilling poem from Tales From the Moonlit Path.

"THE ONE I LOVE"
My humorous (but still, I feel, heartfelt) take on the Shakespearan sonnet was part of this edition of the Minison Project's Sonnet Collection.

And, if you like what you've read so far, here's where you can BUY my various writings:

THE ANTHOLOGIES

TIDBITS
"Number Three"
In this take on the wish-granting genie story, a man gets exactly what he wants...unfortunately.

YARNSWOGGLE
"The Most Important Day Ever"
Our hero goes about his day, keenly aware that it is, in reality, the Most Important Day Ever, even if no one else seems to have noticed.
"No Story"
A writer struggles to explain why he hasn't had time to come up with an idea for a story (Semi-autobiographical).

"Pair O' Dons"
What would you do if you met yourself from the future? That's the question this story seeks to answer.

"Alma's Race"
A young pilot has bet her whole future on a race across the galaxy, but something happens along the way that will change everything.

CROSSING BORDERS
"The Danny Jacobs Program" (Grand Prize Winner!)
My story about staying true to yourself, set against the backdrop of the Golden Age of Radio Comedy, won first prize back in 2019 and is the first story in this collection.

"My First Love(s)"
Can you remember your first love? How about your second? Third? Fourth? And how well do you remember them? 
NOTE: Currently only available as an e-book, but a print version will be available in September 2022

MY BOOKS
These are books 100% written by me!

A novella that tells the story of Daphne, growing up with the help of her "imaginary friend," Uncle Charlie.

My first ever collection of children's poems, published by Beir Bua Press.

When Shelly Hobbes was a kid, she wanted to be just like Sherlock Holmes when she grew up. Now she is grownup and she thinks her days of sleuthing are behind her. Until a baffling crime wave gets her back in the game.

A collection of short fiction (and a few poems). Mainly consisting of works that have already been published, but with a few original stories making their world debut.

In this Teen Fantasy Adventure novel, Rapunzel "Zel" Ramirez follows her childhood teddy bear, Melville, into a magic kingdom where she must help to restore the rightful queens to the throne.


That's all for now, but there'll be more to come!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MONKEY ON A UNICYCLE: The Serious Problem of Sillinesss

A little nonsense now and then
Is relished by the wisest men.
--Roald Dahl

Anyone who has watched Monty Python's Flying Circus will be familiar with a character played by the late Graham Chapman known simply as "The Colonel." He was a serious, level-headed, strict army man who tended to interrupt the show when he felt it was getting too silly. For most people, this is just a simple joke. For the Pythons, it was yet another way of ending a sketch without having to think of a punchline (which is the hardest part of writing a comedy sketch, by the way). But is it not possible that it is also a scathing indictment of our entire society?

Isn't it true that our society looks down on silliness? That whenever someone starts to act a little sillier than is generally accepted, someone else is always there to say "Don't be silly." Even the word silly has come to have negative connotations and is viewed as something we ought not to be.

But this is fairly typical of Society (which will be referred to from here on with a capital S). Imposing restrictions which fly in the face of human nature is what Society does best. Children, for example, are, by nature, loud, rambunctious and need to move around and touch things to aide their cognitive development. Yet our Society looks more kindly on children who sit still and keep quiet, and has little patience for children who behave the way children are built to behave.

There is another thing that children are without even having to try: Silly. Everyone of us started out silly. Observe babies and small children and you will see what I mean. As babies, we run in circles for no reason, laugh  hysterically at paper being ripped, and run around the house naked except for a pair of pants which we are wearing as a hat. And we are adored for it. Nowadays, we even become YouTube stars for it. Our parents applaud us and cheer for us being ridiculous...up to a point.

The overwhelming message Society sends is that silliness is fine as long as we grow out of it. It is regarded as something to be left behind as we pass from childhood to adulthood, a stage in life where people seem to have very little appreciation for silliness in any form.

The fundamental principle on which Galleons Lap is founded is the idea that it's never too late to enjoy your childhood. Just as Christopher Robin, upon realizing he could no longer live in his Enchanted Forest, left himself a back door though which he could escape and play with Pooh Bear for the rest of his days, so must we all maintain some link to our childhoods if we ever hope to be happy adults. Which brings us back to silliness.

I have said before that all the world's problems can be traced back to an adult who has forgotten what it's like to be a kid. I now tell you that that feeling, that childlike joy and imagination which we prize in the young and abhor in the grown, IS silliness. Feeling like a kid and feeling silly are one and the same. The greatest damage in this world has been done by people who are not in any way silly.

And if you don't agree, look at the people we got running THIS country right now. You think any of those jerks are silly? No. Stupid, yes. Silly, no.

Because silly people are the ones who change the world. Albert Einstein, Nikolai Tesla, Charlie Chaplin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Jim Henson, Benjamin Franklin, the guy who invented the pool noodle. You cannot be an innovator unless you think differently from those around you. And you cannot think differently unless your mind works differently. And another word for a mind that works differently is...(and if you've been paying attention, you'll know where I'm going with this)...SILLY!!!

So, please, don't look down your nose at us silly people. Don't call us "immature" or "childish" or advise us to "grow up." We are grown up. That's the reason we need to be silly. To keep from blowing our brains out! "Silliness is sweet syrup that helps us swallow the bitter pills of life," wrote Richelle E. Goodrich in her book Making Wishes. Or, as Steve Maraboli puts it, "Never underestimate the healing power of silliness and absurdity."

And do yourself (and everyone else) a favor and try to be a little silly yourselves. Without silliness, life is as pointless, confusing and potentially dangerous as a monkey on a unicycle.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

FROWNS AND TEARS Or "Why I do what I do"

The world we live in is, in a word, terrible. It is a terrible thing to be alive at this point in human history. Everyone hates everyone for being different. Half the world is starving and the other half is obese. We’re slowly killing the only planet we’ve got. There are guns and germs and things which threaten to kill us each and every day and looking at the state of the world, that might not be such a bad thing.

The good news is that there are people trying to fix it. Extraordinary men and women who are dedicating their lives to fixing the world. They’re passing legislation, they’re inventing new technologies, they’re curing diseases, they’re giving to others, they’re teaching us more and more about the world and, little by little, making the world a less terrible place every single day.

And I can’t do those things.

I can’t cure a disease. I can’t stop people from building weapons. I can’t force rich people to share the wealth. I can’t solve everyone’s problems. I can’t solve anyone’s problems. This world we live in is full, overflowing, with frowns and tears and there’s not a single thing I can do about that.

But what I can do, what I’ve always been able to do, what I have had a clear talent for doing for even longer than I can remember, is making smiles and laughs. I can’t get rid of the frowns and the tears, but I can create smiles and laughs.

If you put too much cream in your coffee, you can’t take the cream out again. But you can always add more coffee. And I decided a long time ago that maybe that’s what I was supposed to do. I can’t take the cream out of the coffee. I can’t take the bad things, the frowns, the tears, out of this world; that’s a job for better people than I could ever hope to be. But maybe I can put more good things into the world. Maybe if I fill the world with silliness, with love, with hope, with laughter, with smiles, maybe if I can do that, then the bad things won’t seem so bad. Or at least it won’t seem like quite as many bad things.

It’s not much. It’s nowhere near enough. But it’s the best I have to offer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Is Galleons Lap?

They walked on, thinking of This and That, and by-and-by they came to an enchanted place on the very top of the Forest called Galleons Lap, which is sixty-something trees in a circle; and Christopher Robin knew that it was enchanted because nobody had ever been able to count whether it was sixty-three or sixty-four, not even when he tied a piece of string round each tree after he had counted it...Sitting there they could see the whole world spread out until it reached the sky, and whatever there was all the world over was with them in Galleons Lap.

The above is from the last chapter of the last book A. A. Milne ever wrote about his son, Christopher Robin Milne, and his animal friends, like Piglet, Kanga, Tigger and, of course, Winnie the Pooh. It's a story about growing up and leaving the toys and games of your childhood behind.

"I'm not going to do Nothing any more."
"Never again?"
"Well, not so much. They don't let you."
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
"Yes, Christopher Robin?" said Pooh helpfully.
"Pooh, when I'm--you know--when I'm not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?"
"Just Me?"
"Yes, Pooh...Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?"
"Understand what?"
"Oh, nothing." He laughed and jumped to his feet. "Come on!"
"Where?" said Pooh.
"Anywhere," said Christopher Robin.

Christopher Robin is coming to terms, in his own six-year-old way, with the fact that he can't go play in the forest with Pooh whenever he wants anymore. He must go to school and grow up and his whole life can not be all about make believe anymore. But he refuses to turn his back on make believe forever, and asks Pooh to come back to this enchanted place from time to time.

This is a moment every one of us must face at some point in our lives. Most of us, unfortunately, do not leave ourselves a lifeline to the world of our imagination, as Christopher Robin does. We close the door completely and accept that our lives will never be the same. Is it any wonder so many people in the world today are miserable?

I believe very strongly that all the problems facing our world today can be traced back to a grownup who has forgotten what it's like to be a kid. I also believe that everyone should take some time to be a kid every day. Put some Disney music on your iPod, go to a bookstore and reread the book you made your mom read to you every night before you went to bed, or just watch some cartoons that don't have swearing and sex jokes every now and then.

It is never too late to go back to that magical imaginary world of childhood. Whether you call it Neverland, Narnia, Wonderland or what, find your way back every now and then and see if it doesn't greatly improve your quality of life. That's what I believe, and it's what "Galleons Lap" stands for.

So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.

Buy Galleons Lap books HERE