Category Archives: Writing

Pamela Wight discusses her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr

A Purr-fect new picture book by Pamela Wight – readilearn

Today, I am talking with author Pamela Wight about her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr. I previously introduced you to Pamela when her first picture book Birds of Paradise was released in 2017. You can read that interview here.

The importance of being true to yourself and the acknowledgment of the strength of friendship, even when differences exist, are strong themes in Pamela’s books.

Birds of Paradise is a delightful story of two sparrows Bert and Bessie who discover that friendship can unite even for two with very different attitudes to life.

In Molly Finds Her Purr, Molly the cat discovers that a purr comes from finding a circle of friends, and that friendship can be strong despite their outward differences.

Both books are beautifully illustrated by Shelley Steinle who has added a secret character for children to find on every page.

I am delighted that some of my words of praise for Birds of Paradise were used on the back cover of Molly Finds Her Purr. I wrote, “Shelly Steinle’s illustrations are gorgeous and perfectly complement Pamela Wight’s lovely story.” I could say exactly the same in praise of Molly Finds Her Purr.

A little about Pamela Wight

Pamela S. Wight writes fiction for children and adults. She is the published author of The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires, and pens a popular weekly blog called Roughwighting (roughwighting.net). She teaches creative writing classes in the Boston and San Francisco areas. Her first picture book, Birds of Paradise, published in 2017, was a finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards.

About Molly Finds Her Purr

Continue reading: A Purr-fect new picture book by Pamela Wight – readilearn

Pro-Bull Mashup Carrot Ranch flash fiction contest

Rodeo #2: Pro-Bull Mashup

Are you ready to ride another bull in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo? Now’s the time to write a 99 word story that includes the names of three bulls: Bodacious, Nose Bender, and Heartbreak Kid. And if you think writing about those is tough enough, just wait until you read the rest of the constraints. Just like bull riding, this one’s not for the faint-hearted. Are you game? Come on. Why not join in and have some fun?

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Where else would you find a bull-riding flash fiction 99-word contest but at Carrot Ranch? Come on, all you pencil crunchers, gather ’round and listen to a  tale.

My dad rode bulls. His dad and his dad’s dad rode bulls. My second great-grandfather wore high-heeled vaquero boots in an 1880s photograph, and while I have no more evidence than those boots, I suspect he rode bulls, too. When you grow up around ranch critters, you ride everything that will hold your weight (you can’t ride a chicken, but you can ride a pig).

Getting bucked off is fun, or so you grow up believing. Your relatives and their friends, congregate in the corrals, hold down a critter, set you on it, hoot like crazy throughout your ride, and dust you off when you faceplant in the dirt and critter-pies.

Following this generational bent, I wanted to ride bulls, too. I…

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School Days, Reminiscences of Kevin Cooper

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my author and blogger friends share reminiscences of their school days.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Kevin Cooper, author, songwriter and blogger. Kevin took a keen interest in the reminiscences previously shared by others and I am delighted that he agreed to share his own.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Kevin to tell you a little of himself:

Kevin Cooper is an Author & Songwriter. After years of studying, and even more, years working in education, and management in the US, he returned to his hometown in England where he finally settled down to focus on his writing and music. He has since authored several works and recorded/released his first full music album.

Kevin Cooper obtained an M.Ed in Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University.  He also did some post-graduate studies in Christian Counselling and Psychopathology at Asbury Theological Seminary. He completed his baccalaureate studies in Psychology with a minor in Classical Greek from Asbury College after devoting his first two years to studying Music Composition, and Religion at Western Kentucky University.

Welcome, Kevin.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I went to school in England and left high school at 16 years of age with only three CSE’s. (Now called GCSE’s) After I turned 21, I emigrated to the USA and started studying again.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

In England, all the schools I attended were government schools which were very much under the influence of the ‘social class’ system back then. I also attended a state school in Kentucky after moving to the US and studied for GED to pave my way into university. I attended one state university: WKU for two years and then transferred to Asbury College. After graduating, I attended Asbury Theological Seminary for two years before moving again and enrolling in The Grand Canyon University where I received a fellowship.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

M.Ed in Secondary Education. My teaching subject is English.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

I started out as a class tutor after being approached by a couple of professors. Later I did some private tutoring and substitute teaching. I obtained a part-time position as a music teacher for a short while then went into management for a Fortune 500 company and also obtained a part-time lecturer position for general studies. While I look back upon my years as an educator with fondness, I never set out, nor intended to become an educator. My passion was to become a clinical psychologist, but I allowed myself to be steered away from it.

What is your earliest memory of school?

Singing, All Things Bright and Beautiful in assembly at Marfleet Primary School. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and learned it quickly as it resonated with me as I played in my grandma’s gardens.

What memories do you have of learning to read?

Reading Dick and Jane books with Spot the dog.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

Graduating from printing words to joining the letters of the alphabet while writing. I found it intriguing.

What do you remember about math classes?

I hated math. The only time I enjoyed it was when we were given a project to take note of the different kinds of vehicles that passed us on the road and create a chart.

What was your favourite subject?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

 History. I became entranced with the stories of inventors. Especially those like George Stephenson who were from poor families and told they would never amount to anything as a child.

What did you like best about school?

As a child, getting away from home. As an adult, I couldn’t get enough of learning new things.

What did you like least about school?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

As a child, being bullied even though upon reflection this was short-lived for me because I began to fight back after a while. Even so, it still had a profound influence on my mental state which was already a mess from being part of a dysfunctional family. As an adult, studying for exams. I loved research projects and writing term papers, but hated standardised exams with multiple choice and true/false questions.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

I think here in England there is more equality and less of a social class stigma these days. Although looking upon it almost as an outsider having lived in the USA the good part of 20 years, I could be mistaken.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

I think schools follow curricula activities very well, unfortunately, these are not always mandated by the schools.

How do you think schools could be improved?

Kevin Cooper school days reminiscences

First, there needs to be a far larger budget for schools in England. Class sizes need to be reduced and all teachers should have at least one assistant.

There needs to be some kind of weekly after-school mandate for parents and teachers to educate and address current/ongoing issues that affect learning.  Schools should have specially assigned social workers in the schools that teachers can go to for advice and support as they are not equipped to deal with some issues. Schools also need to have a school psychologist on site.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Kevin. I agree with your thoughts about the budget for education, class sizes and assistants for teachers. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sure others have enjoyed learning about you as much as I have.

Find out more about Kevin Cooper

On his blog:

https://authorkevincooper.com/

On his author page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Connect with him on social media

https://www.facebook.com/authorkevcooper

https://twitter.com/KevinCo34737852

Purchase Kevin’s Books:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-books/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00EWFEYKQ

Purchase Kevin’s Music:

https://authorkevincooper.com/my-music/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf2xhbZpatTr4NwhxZwWN7Q

https://soundcloud.com/user-17880724

School Days, Reminiscences of the first 25

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here: School Days Reminiscences – the first 25.

You can also read some data drawn from the posts here, and some suggestions for how schools could be improved, as suggested by the contributors, here.

Any new interviews will be posted here on a Sunday evening AEST as they are received.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest #1Tall Tale

Rodeo #1: Modern Tall Tale

It’s October again. That means it’s time for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. This year it is being run a little differently but everyone still has a chance to join in. The first contest is now open for your entries and the prompt is ‘Tall Tales’. Pop over to the Ranch for details, and read Charli’s previous post with suggestions to support your writing: Get Ready to Rodeo Like It’s 2019!

During the contest, I won’t be posting my usual mid-week flash fiction post but will reblog Charli’s prompt post on the weekend to keep you up-to-date.
I wish you all success. What a fun rodeo with lots of great prizes!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Out west where I grew up, to tell a tall tale was to tell a whopper of a lie so big no one would ever believe it. Someone would start the storytelling, and the next person would try to out-exaggerate the last one. Some told tall tales as a joke, especially if an inexperienced newbie might believe it. Wild Bill Hickok’s biographer, Joseph Rosa, suspected that Bill magnified the truth for fun.

Tall tales are the stuff of dime-store novels and pulp fiction.

What is a tall tale? One that openly exaggerates and magnifies the truth to the point of being unbelievable. The story itself is hyperbole. But we want to believe it because it’s humorous, melodramatic, or sensational.

This contest asks you to give a tall tale a modern bent. Don’t rely on the stories of Pecos Bill or 19th-century dime-store westerns. Go past the early sci-fi and…

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Living for fame, posthumously flash fiction

Living for fame posthumously

Would you sell your soul to the devil to be rich and famous in life, or would you be content with fame after your death?

While most of us might say that it’s not fame or fortune we seek, many spend untold energy and funds on marketing our writing, hopeful of reaching a few extra readers and recouping a few of those hard-earned dollars.

Most of us would say we have no desire to go down in history like some of these whose works were unknown or unrecognised in life, but lauded after death; including:

  • Edgar Allan Poe (Writer)
  • Emily Dickinson (Poet)
  • Franz Kafka (Writer)
  • Galileo Galilei (Scientist)
  • Henry David Thoreau (Philosopher)
  • Herman Melville (writer)
  • John Keats (Poet)
  • Oscar Wilde (writer)
  • Stieg Larsson (writer)
  • Vincent Van Gogh (Artist)

and others you can read about at ScoopWhoop here and here, and also on Toptenz here, where the suggestion is made to never give up because there is no way of knowing what lies ahead.

However, this article by Daniel Grant writing for the Huffington Post and this one on Quora both address the question of an artist’s posthumous fame and agree that, if you weren’t famous in life, you’re unlikely to be famous in death. Perhaps we’d better go for the fame and fortune while we live.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - unremembered

Why am I thinking about posthumous fame? It’s not that I’m thinking of dying and then being discovered anytime soon. No, it’s as a result of the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week.

Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!

This is how my story plays out.

Unremembered

A recluse, unremarkable and forgotten in life and unremembered in death, she’d lived in her own world hidden behind overhanging branches and overgrown gardens. Unseen for so long, newcomers didn’t know she existed, thinking it was simply undeveloped land.

One day, developers came and pushed down the trees and cleared the undergrowth. They paused at the sight of the tiny wooden structure their work revealed. Unsure how to proceed, they investigated. Though not art enthusiasts, they knew that what they discovered was something special. When the work was curated and exhibited in galleries worldwide, she was never unremembered again.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Book Launch - The Quest for Home

Book Launch: The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

 I am delighted to participate in the blog tour announcing the launch of Jacqui Murray’s new book The Quest for Home. The book is the second in the Cross Roads series which forms part of the Man vs Nature saga. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first in the series Survival of the Fittest. I also participated in its launch with a post which you can read here.

When I first read about this series of Jacqui’s, I was intrigued. I hadn’t before heard of prehistoric fiction and certainly hadn’t read any. I wondered how authentic the story would feel and how it would progress without verbal communication. I wasn’t disappointed.

Jacqui’s book was thoroughly researched, and the excitement of the plot was carried through on the shoulders of strong, intelligent characters who had an effective system of communication through gestures and non-verbal but meaningful sounds. The events and solutions to problems were believable, and it was interesting to see the characters grow and learn through experiences and encounters.

While Survival of the Fittest was a page-turner and difficult to put down, what I loved most about Jacqui’s book was that it made me think. It made me question what life would have been like in those early times and how important it was to be able to survive.

I had that love-hate relationship I often experience with books—I can’t wait to find out what happens, but I don’t want it to end. When I did finish reading it, I longed for the next instalment. I am very excited that it is now available.

The opening chapter, included below, shows similar characteristics to the first book and I am confident that it will be just as enjoyable and fill me with the same levels of excitement, curiosity and wonder as the first.

The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

The Book

Title and author: The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Short Blurb:

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

Short Summary:

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life. 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of man is at stake. 

Questions for Jacqui 

What’s the relationship between Xhosa (and Homo erectus) and animals?

Early man had no idea animals weren’t simply another intelligent creature who spoke a different language. Why would they think differently? Man wasn’t the alpha in this environment. Mammoth or Sabretooth were. Man thought he could learn from these animals and become stronger. He respected them.

What one characteristic would you say allowed Xhosa to survive in a world populated with Sabretooth Cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man? 

Really, with our thin skin, dull teeth, and tiny claws (aka fingernails), Xhosa had no right to survive against the thick-skinned mammoth or tearing claws of the great cats of that time. But she did. The biggest reason: Even then, Xhosa and her kind were problem solvers. They faced crises and came up with solutions. Where most animals spent their time eating and sleeping, Xhosa had time left over. This, she used to solve problems.

To me, that thoughtful approach to living, one no other animal exhibits, is why we came to rule the planet.

 

thank you for your participation

 Thank you, Jacqui. I thoroughly enjoyed Survival of the Fittest and am now looking forward to finding out about what happens to Xhosa and others in this second book in the Cross Roads Series, The Quest for Home.

About Jacqui

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

 

Find out more or connect with Jacqui

Amazon Author Page:     https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                  https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                        https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                           http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                          http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                              http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                            https://jacquimurray.net

 

Jacqui has generously provided us with Chapter 1 as a preview of her book The Quest for Home. Enjoy!

The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

The Quest for Home: Chapter 1

 Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

 

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.

Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.

For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.

She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.

Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.

She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.

The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.

Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.

He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”

She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.

That hadn’t worked.

“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”

Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.

Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”

Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?

“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound.

“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.

Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”

Xhosa’s hands suddenly felt clammy. “Is Lyta alive?”

Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.

And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.

It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.

One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.

 

When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.

“Sa-mo-ke?”

Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.

She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.

Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”

 It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself. We are good at migrating.

She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”

The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.

Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”

She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”

The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”

Pan-do is clever.

Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”

He opened and closed his hands to show how many.

A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.

She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.

Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”

Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”

Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.

How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.

“His People—do they know?”

The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

 

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

School Days Reminiscences -- Some Data

School Days Reminiscences — Some Data

School days and their impact on our lives has been a major topic of discussion here over the past six months when authors and bloggers have shared their reminiscences. (You can catch up on any reminiscences you missed here.)With no one else quite ready to share just yet, I thought it would be interesting to have a look over some aspects of the reviews.

The first questions I asked were related to where schools had been attended and whether the schools were government, private or independent.

Where did the interviewees attend school?

A total of twelve countries were listed:

  • USA (8)
  • England (7)
  • Canada (3)
  • South Africa (3)
  • India (1)
  • Wales (1)
  • Australia (1)
  • Malaysia (1)
  • Singapore (1)
  • New Zealand (1)
  • Malta (1)
  • Zimbabwe (1)
  • And the British Colony of Hong Kong (1)

Three interviewees attended schools in two or more countries (two attended in three).

This gives us quite an international flavour to the interviews.

Were the schools government, private or independent?

This one is a little more difficult to summarise as the systems seem to be classed differently from country to country. However, the majority of interviewees appear to have attended government schools, with a smattering attending private or independent schools, and some a mixture of both.

Was there an overall favourite subject?

graph - what was your favourite subject

Discussions on the posts indicated that there might have been a trend towards a liking for English and a dislike of physical education and maths. I think the trend away from PE and maths especially may have emerged through the discussions themselves, as when I went back through the posts, it wasn’t so obvious. However, I didn’t specifically ask which subject was most disliked.

English with its related subjects like reading and writing was definitely the overall favourite with eleven listing it as such.

The list of favourites includes:

  • English (11)
  • History (4)
  • Music (2)
  • Geography (2)
  • Social Studies (2)
  • French (1)
  • PE (1)
  • Art (1)
  • Humanities (1)
  • Maths (1)
  • Drama (1)

(Note: If people listed more than one, I may have included it.)

What aspect of school was most disliked?

As I didn’t ask the question about subjects that were disliked, but what was most disliked about school, I received a variety of responses.

PE did figure in the responses of six respondents, but the social aspect of fitting in and making friends, including when changing schools was listed by seven. Subjects such as maths, physics, geography, biology and geometry rated only one mention each. Other dislikes included disruption due to war, rules, long distances to and from school, and being picked out to answer questions. Others said that there was nothing they had disliked about school.

It is interesting that the social aspect of school and physical education ranked so highly. I wonder how much of the dislike for physical education was related to the social aspect of it.

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