Character sketch of Mary for you to gaze upon. Bedtime for little humans at my house used to be this epic battle every night, but I have put my metaphorical iron fist down and, after much effort, established a routine.
Everything is so much better now. I love Grown-Up Time, which is the magical golden hour immediately following Official Bedtime. Do you have any schedule-type routines that make you happy? Aaah, bedtime.
Good/Bad Writing Example
So you know how sometimes in stories there’s this super evil guy who rises up and tries to destroy the world? Well, that happened to my world, and he did very nearly succeed, and I’m the louse who made a bargain with him in order to be spared.
I know, I know, everyone else was about to go kaboom in the big end fight, or were going to be enslaved to be part of his whole war machine deal, but—and this is the part where I hope you’re sympathetic to my position—before the big battle started, I got the evil dude’s permission to sit out and be a kind of record keeper.
You know, be the last voice of humanity and all that.
What I wasn’t expecting when I signed up for the gig was that I would turn out to be the only one who could save everybody. I hadn’t prepared myself for that kind of pressure, and—well, I’ll just start at the beginning and tell you what happened. I am the record-keeper, after all.
When the evil wizard rose up with his black cloak and magic sword drenched in blood, all the poor people cried and the knights got on their horses and tried to take him out, but he won against all of them. One mid-level bureaucrat felt he could save his skin by offering his kid to the cause, and he trussed up his youngest daughter and sent her along to the evil wizard with a note: Spare me and mine. Thanks.
What a creep, the wizard proclaimed, and he killed the bureaucrat and taught the girl how to work magic. She turned out to be even better at evil workings than he was and soon murdered him. Everyone lauded the girl as the savior of the masses and she was appointed princess-companion and married off to a really handsome lord. The king said she wasn’t pretty enough to merit a prince or a duke.
She kept all of the evil magician’s books and studied, and when she was old and had lived a full life, she unveiled her own ambitions, which were, in fact, to rule the whole world and possibly reduce the population. No one saw it coming and she killed everyone except for her godson, whom she was particularly fond of.
‘Ask me to be made record keeper,’ the now-evil old witch commanded.
‘But I don’t want to be a record keeper, grandam. I want my mother,’ the boy replied.
‘Do as I say, kid,’ the witch said, rolling her eyes.
‘What do I get out of this?’ the boy demanded, folding his arms. After a long bargain and the exchange of a few sweets, the boy asked to be made record keeper and was spared.
‘Have fun commemorating humanity, darling. Enjoy solitude,’ the old witch said, and she turned herself into a spark of light and fled into the ether of general magic to live forever without the encumbrance of her fleshy shell.
Huh, what am I going to do now? the boy thought, and he went downstairs to see if the witch’s magic plague had left any puppies alive in the stable.
Well, Victor Poole!
I had fun writing that sample, and I hope you enjoyed reading along with me. Here is Diana’s next move:
Stuart the Man-Nanny
“Were you ever treated like a kid, instead of like the hired help?” Diana asked.
“But I’m not. My dad acts like we’re on the same team, you know, and I’m just—I’m older, so I have to help,” Stuart said.
“Cynthie’s just about the same age as you,” Diana said.
“Yeah, she is,” Stuart said, his face getting all sorts of miserable and doldrumy.
“Does your dad confide in you?” Diana said. Stuart sat down on the closed toilet and nudged at the cleaning spray with the toe of his sneaker.
“Yeah,” Stuart said in a small voice.
“Kinda like he would confide in your mom before they broke up?” Diana asked.
“These are a lot of leading questions, though. I mean, you’re telling me what to think,” Stuart said, fiddling with the book in his hands.
“Do you respect me, Stu?” Diana asked. He was silent for a moment and flipped through the top corner of the book, making the pages fwip softly against each other.
“No, probably not. I mean, the right answer is that I don’t, because you’re telling me I don’t, so I guess you’re right, or you have an idea of where you’re going with this. Do I respect anybody, then?” Stuart asked.
“I think you respect your dad, in an obedient young husband sort of way,” Diana said.
Stuart, once again, felt that this was a direct affront to his dignity as a person and stood up before storming out of the bathroom. Diana dropped her cleaning supplies and followed him.
“Don’t chase me again, Di. I’m calming down,” Stuart said, rushing out the front door and slamming it behind him. Diana waited a moment and then opened the door, slipping out and following Stuart, who was pacing along the edge of their encasing bubble. “I said no,” Stuart said, his voice growling. Diana felt that he sounded pretty violent, and she didn’t want the aliens to interrupt at all, so she turned her eyes up towards the roof of the translucent bubble, through which she could see pleasant, fluffy clouds and a bright blue sky.
“He’s fine. He’s processing betrayal and cognitive dissonance. Please don’t interfere,” Diana said.
“Are you talking to them?” Stuart demanded, shooting a death-glare over his shoulder at Diana, who was following him at a brisk pace.
“Husband, husband, husband,” Diana said in what she was perfectly aware would be an irritating chirrup, and Stuart let out a small roar and ran to get away from her. Diana laughed and followed, and they made a fruitless loop around and around the circumference of the ice until Stuart made another infuriated yell and scrambled towards the house. Showing an athleticism that Diana found admirable, Stuart gripped the edge of a window sill and hoisted himself up until he could reach the eaves. He pulled himself onto the roof, shot another scathing glare in Diana’s direction, and walked to the opposite side of the roof, where Diana presumed he was going to sit down and ignore her.
She went to the garden shed and produced an economical ladder. When she set it against the roof and began to climb, Stuart, who had come over the top of the roof to find out what had made the sound, made a soft howl of irritation.
“Leave me alone, Diana!” Stuart exclaimed, sounding pushed past the bounds of all patience.
You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Mitch is waiting for the banker to come back from a very important (and scary!) personal errand.