Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Assignment Challenge

Just saw this post and couldn't resist. The challenge was to take something you know how to do and explain what NOT to do. In my haste I just used one of their examples. I found the challenge at Brainstorms & Bylines

Here's my response:

How NOT to get a cat out of a tree:
1. Do not squirt with a hose. Though effective, cats grow a fear of water ever after.
2. Do not attempt to lasso cat. Results have been known to be tragic.
3. Do not send dog into tree to scare it down. A) Dogs can’t climb trees, B) Then dog would be stuck in tree
4. Do not use cliche cartoon tricks to tempt the cat down, like a cat of the opposite sex, milk or a mouse – this is the real world, it doesn’t work.
5. Do not call the fire department – it’s just a cat.

Suggestion – ingore him. That’s what he would do if you were up a tree.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flash Fiction AW Sunday Challenge - The Wall

This weekly challenge gives a prompt and 90 minutes to write about it. This week it was "The Wall"

He asked me to marry him today.

We started our casual date walking around the mall. We window shopped and people watched. He always knows just what to say to make me smile. We sat down at a table for two in front of the fountain with our Starbucks lattes.

Then I saw his mood shift. He grabbed my hands and held my eyes with his.

"Nessa, can we do this every weekend?"

"You mean go to the mall?" I asked.

"Yeah, baby. Let’s go to the mall every weekend, for the rest of our lives."

I straightened in shock. I was speechless. I didn't think he had planned it. Did he just say what I think he said? Then my hazard lights flashed at me.

"We've only been dating six months," was my instinctive reaction. I wanted to lasso the words and pull them back. But it was too late, they had escaped.

His eyes fell closed, the curtain coming down on a stellar performance that got undeserved dreadful reviews. His lips pursed as he thought, looking around to see if anyone heard him make the worst fumble of his career. He slowly withdrew releasing my hands and pulled away. When he finally looked at me again, I tried to apologize.

“I’m so sorry, Marcus. I…”

“Forget it. You’re right. You ready to go?” His attitude bulldozed me.

I nodded and took his hand. We were silent for the ride home.

I sat on my bed with a box of tissues replaying it in my head all day. What was I thinking? Marcus is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Why do I always put up the wall? Am I ever going to get passed it? Are we going to be able to recover from this?

I have to make this right. It’s time to break the wall. I grabbed my maracas and sombrero. Souvenirs from our trip to Mexico.

I drove over to his apartment building. I picked up some pebbles and stood under his third floor bedroom window. I raised my hand behind my head to throw the first stone and froze.

The silhouette of a man pulling a woman close to him splashed on the shade.

I opened my hand and let the pebbles fall. I placed the hat and shakers on the windshield of his car and walked away.

My wall had served me well.

As Wisconsin goes, so goes the country?

I don't go political very often, but this is getting ridiculous! And it only seems to be getting worse.
What a mess! The GoVERNments of our country, states and cities have taken our money and squandered it. Flushed it into their own schemes, not being held accountable and now we're stuck paying more to fix it!

We scrimp and save and take pay cuts and layoffs. We pay more taxes and pick up the slack for our own kids' educations when the tax money runs out. Don't ask me to buy girl scout cookies this year - I can't afford it! (I'll never find $3.50! the couch cushions.)

So across the nation we have elected new faces. We are so hopeful that someone new will have an answer.

Then we don't like the answer. "Sorry we wasted all your money. Now we have to cut, cut, cut and tighten 'OUR' belts so we can function."

Now turn to Wisconsin. Governor Walker was elected by people who wanted a change. (Sound familiar?) The state legislature majority was also converted and the majority support the Governor. (Again, this really rings a bell!) The Governor seems to want his state to succeed and has worked with the congress to come up with a solution - he has found a way to cut spending, but it happens to be from his opposition's purse.

I had to look really hard to find out what exactly this bill does that is causing such a fuss. From my extensive googling, most of the articles just ranted and raved and emphasized, "Look at all the protestors, they're camping out, they have quippy signs," etc. Not much facts about the bill.

I really don't think the protestors (and possibly the people reporting about them) understand fully WHY they are against this bill, other than - "Darn that governor for trying to mess with my union."

Unions are not the same as they were when they started. They were necessary at their inception and made many outstanding improvements. But today, their membership is on the decline. And Ohio is the next in line to amend the Government/Union liaison. Then Indiana and more? It's a relationship that needs updating.

To show I'm not trying to be biased about the bill, I give you The Huffington Post, a liberal paper. At the bottom of a lengthy article dramatizing the protests, I found their description of the contents of the Wisconsin bill. I highlighted the good parts.

"But when voters elected Walker, an outspoken conservative, along with GOP majorities in both legislative chambers, it set the stage for a dramatic reversal of Wisconsin's labor history.

Under Walker's plan, state employees' share of pension and health care costs would go up by an average of 8 percent. The changes would save the state $30 million by June 30 and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.

In exchange for bearing more costs and losing bargaining leverage, public employees were promised no furloughs or layoffs. Walker has threatened to order layoffs of up to 6,000 state workers if the measure does not pass.

Wisconsin is one of about 30 states with collective bargaining laws covering state and local workers.

Walker has argued the concessions are modest compared with those suffered by many other Americans. Democratic opponents and union leaders say his real motive is to strike back at political opponents who have supported Democrats over the years."

Leave it to opposition (no matter who it is) to fabricate ulterior motives. "Their REAL agenda is to GET US!" Get over yourselves! Be part of the solution!

It looks to me like the Unions are blindly leading their members out of fear to protest. The democrats in this instance are hiding out like fugitives. These cowards are holding back democracy. They should be ashamed of themselves. They aren't standing up for anything. Their stubborn, misconceived example reminds me of a six-year-old, "If I don't get my way, I'm gonna run away or cry about it." Let's see how long they can hold their breath!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

All Grown Up

This Drabble Day Challenge was tougher than last week. But given a little time, I came up with one. It went in a different direction than I planned, but I think the result is better. Today's prompt: “creative analogy”

All Grown Up.
I finally made it through my first year of college. Yeah!

As I reacclimated to my parents’ house, I realized how I thought of it. Not as my house anymore. I was just visiting. Like a sojourner on an extended stay at a hostel. I was on vacation from my real life where I took care of myself.

They even treated me like a guest. No curfew, no real rules, no chores. I pitched in voluntarily. We shared meals and had in depth conversations about the world and the future. They respected me and my opinions.

The feeling was mutual.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Writing a Book - So You Want to Tell a Story

Amateur writer here. Amateur in wealth only, meaning I haven't been paid for my writing. I have written two novels! As well as many short stories, several poems and even a few songs (complete with notes!).

Being unpublished (except for one online poem a year ago and a zoo horoscope this fall) - who am I to give advice about writing? Well, it doesn't take a genious to write a book. Look at Snookie. Wait a minute...

This series of posts is for anyone who might want a little advice, as well as for myself. I've been writing, researching, querying, contest entering, submitting and blogging for almost two years now (a baby compared to many, but 2 years for me is 14 years for a dog - random). Writing things down is how I manage my time and remember things. And blogging about it might help others - which is one of my favorite things to do!

So you want to tell a story. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
  • What's it about?
  • Does it have a beginning, middle and end?
  • Do you know enough about it? Have experience or researched?
  • Is it worth telling? Will others want to read it besides your mom?
If you can answer these questions and still feel good about your story, go for it! Here is how my writing process starts:
  1. The basic outline - this is the beginning and here it takes place, these are the characters and what they're like, something happens, the main character (MC) has to do something about it, he gets help or is hindered along the way, he finally solves the problem and everyone dies or lives happily ever's that? did I nail your story? Like I said, basic outline - this is how it goes. What sets you apart is how you tell it and describe it and make your reader feel it. I think that's called "voice." (I'm a tad facetious)
  2. Rough draft  - feel like you're back in 11th grade English? Older teacher in frilly tone, "Now, class, it is time to begin your rough draft on what you did this summer." Take your outline and paper with you wherever you go. You never know when you'll have time or inspiration. You should see my first rough draft - I recycle, half of it is on the back of maps, reservations and travel plans from our trip to the Grand Canyon. But I have to write the ideas down when they hit me or I will forget them! I have a pad of paper in my purse and in every room of my house. BTW, your rough draft doesn't have to be handwritten, that's up to you. Paper is lighter than my computer (and I just got an ipad, but typing on it isn't easy).
  3. Type it up - finishing the rough draft is quite an accomplishment in itself. Good job! Now take the rough draft and make it sparkly. Impress yourself with your words. Show the action. Imagine yourself in the scenes. Make yourself laugh. Make yourself angry or sad. Hopefully these feelings will transfer from your story to your readers.
  4. Don't give up - that is advice for everything and I've said it before. If you get stuck or even bored, leave it alone for a while. Write something else. Read something! Do some research. Go back and read what you've written so far. You will come back refreshed and motivated. And before you know it, you're almost at the end and you're a little disappointed that it's over. Take heart. It ain't over by a long shot.
If writing is for you - awesome! Paperbacks may vanish away someday but writing never will. We need stories! Just stand around the "water cooler" at work or browse a random facebook page - every Tom, Dick and Jane has a million of em. It takes perseverance to write it all down and patience to make it good.

So get writing! Just don't quit your day job - even many published authors have a back up plan. This industry isn't supporting many families nowadays.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Not Alone

    Not Alone
    by Tara Tyler

Time to wake up. Time to sing!
Who will listen? Do I want to be heard?
Why do I sing? What’s the point?
Because I’m not alone!

In the shower, in the closet, anywhere!
Sing at the top of my lungs!
Someone can hear me, I know it!
Because I’m not alone!

Whispering prayers or silent thank yous.
Hopeful for the ones I love.
Mumbling curses and regretting it.
Because I’m not alone.

Then at the lowest part of the day.
Troubles piled to the sky.
I ask for help, and He hears me.
Because I’m not alone!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What polish are you today?

I got these fabulous colors from Ulta 3. They named 'em, I described 'em. =)
Pick a color that reflects your mood.

The Pity Party is Over

Sometimes I curse the sign of Scorpio I was born under. I am soooo dramatic!

But hold on...Did you know astrological signs might have changed? or not...? I don't know who I am anymore.

Either way I had a bad day yesterday. Looking back, I wanted to slap myself! Wah wah - What was my problem!? So I can't work (and am not again today). Maybe I'm not supposed to. Then I got obsessed with blogging. I made a mistake and I fixed it but still worried about it all day! What a waste! Everything I touched turned to "arrgh!"

So I am vowing to be positive today. I have a backup plan. I cannot control some things in my life, so I will just deal with it.

Have a good day!!! Or else!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What the world is reverting to?

I feel the world is going in reverse. How can things like this happen? Pirates? Really!?

Having freedom of religion has sheltered us from any real persecution and made us lazy. I salute and appreciate the brave Christians who go out to spread the Good News to the world and are truly persecuted. (see verse of the week! how coincidentally appropriate)

If the least you can do is give money to your church mission effort - do it!


I hate not going in to work. That means I have to do chores around the house. I'd rather be writing! And in my procrastination of daily cleaning duties and grocery shopping I waste time blogging wisely promote myself by searching other sites, making comments and looking for contests (which I don't have time to enter)

I am a substitute teacher and it looks like everyone is well for a change. That's good! (I keep telling myself) I don't wish ill on anyone, but I yearn to work...
So with Spring on the horizon I must face the facts. It's time to set some goals for staying productive and getting everything done on those lazy, still in the pj's days that I won't be getting called.

Ah, life. Why must you get in the way!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

He doesn't like me to talk about him on this thing...but


Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Secret of Success

It's not really a secret. You measure your success by how you feel about your accomplishments. Different people are successful at different things. Some want fame and fortune, some want better for their children and some just want to publish a book.

Getting rejected can make you feel like a failure. Writers send dozens of queries and get as many "No"s in return. You have to remember, if you are querying, you wrote a book! That is a success! And it only takes one yes (optimistically) to continue the process.

So how do we overcome the rejections? How do we get to that all important "Yes" for success?!
  • Research. As you might have found out, agents are too swamped to give much feedback. It's a fact you have to accept and deal with. So research, find out more about the agents you're querying, join writing sites, go to conferences and get opinions from folks who can give you worthwhile advice.
  • Don't take it personally. They don't know you! The reasons they didn't choose you are most likely because they A) don't do that genre, or have too many similar; B) think you might be too green and they'd have to edit too much; or C) just didn't click with the story/characters. You can't please everyone! And agents/publishers have raised the bar for taking on a project to print - the market is changing and we have to go with the flow...
  • Make improvements. Everyone has room to improve. You won't please everyone so don't try to. Do listen to advice and comments and use them as you see fit. It is your work after all.
  • Don't give up! If you've done all of the above and still get discouraged from too many "not at this time"s, that doesn't mean you should give up. But! You might want to put it on the back burner and work on something else. Enter a contest, accept a challenge or just take a break! When you come back to it again, you'll be surprised by the amount of improvements you can make.
Another way to get that feeling of success is to set reasonable goals. I've written two books. After finishing the first and sending out many queries, I researched why no one was biting. The public and therefore the publishing industry was over chick lit. I decided to leave it for a while, intending to take a different approach later. I love sci-fi and had a good idea for a story so I changed gears. I just finished writing "Pop Travel." Success!

My next goal is to beef it up and edit it. Then I'll write a query letter and start that process again - but I'm wiser now and think I can write a good one. I am also taking critiques, watching the market and trying to build up my "image." Every little bit helps!

Even published writers have to keep working hard to get the next one out. There aren't any guarantees.

Watch American Idol? Notice how many contestants they start out with? Tens of thousands! Just making it to Hollywood is quite an accomplishement! If they don't get any further, some can take that and choose to improve. Others will give up and scorn the judges. Who would you rather be?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ghost Post

I am supporting an AW friend's blog who has a frequent prompt called Drabble Day Challenge - a drabble of about 100 words. The prompt today is "ghost." Hope you enjoy =)

I love being a ghost!

I haunt this romantic restaurant.

I see a bickering couple and nudge their table spilling the man's water on him. Serves you right, oaf!

There's a sweet pair on a first date. Nervous, shy, afraid to speak. Let's break the ice, shall we? If I scoot this chair along the floor just right...PFFT! They both laughed. Perfect.

But over in the corner. See the sad, lonely lady? Comes in every Thursday and watches. She'll be joining me soon. Then she'll liven up. Like me.

That used to be my table. I'll help her find the socket with her fork.

Friday, February 18, 2011

almost there!

I am thrilled to say that I am just about finished with my novel, "Pop Travel."
I was able to write over 2,000 words today! (The exciting parts go fast.) Now I just have to wrap it up and edit, edit, edit! Then I will write a synopsis and query letter. I have high hopes for this book. I will go into the query process optimistically, yet realistically.

It's a cold, cruel, dog eat dog world out there! Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deal with it

I wasted spent a lot of time today reading about the whiny blogging teacher. I've read many responses as well. Most opinions similar to mine. She has a point, but she shouldn't have complained about it to the world. She made a bad move to publicly voice her private inability to deal with the apathetic students that we all have to deal with. She must not have thought or cared about the consequences. Since a teacher is a prominent example to the very youth she despises, that makes her unacceptable as a teacher.

Being a high school teacher myself, I know where she is coming from. I have posted about similar topics concerning the overly pampered next generation and parents' inability to speak up and make tough calls - and be the parent! grow up and too big for our britches (and it's not all parents, but the few bad ones leave the lasting impressions.)

And then I found another article, proving the point - this is scary! where are their parents?
I've heard this from fellow teachers all over, "We should get hazard pay!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the fine print

I can't believe my eyes!

The words on everything are getting smaller and instructions, forms, bills and especially medicine containers and warnings and directions. They are trying to fit too much on those tiny little labels.
The people printing these things must be under 40, because even with my glasses on I have trouble reading it all.

Yea, yea. I know. Guess I need to strengthen my prescription...Stop laughin, younguns!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eyes opened

I never realized how hard it is to write. No, that's not right. I mean I never realized how hard it is to write to be published. Writing is easy, but there are few who would pay to listen, the way I rant.

As with most areas of life, I believe people have natural gifts for certain things that others have to work at. Like some authors are born with the ability to write a wonderful novel on the first try and people flock to buy what they create. Then there are those who repel most readers and should never own a pen. The majority have to work hard to get the story written then tirelessly edit the flaws.

I fall in the majority - I have good stories and ideas but have to work hard to perfect them. I recently put up my "Broken Branch Falls" on the writing website, Absolute Write Water Cooler, for critique. Boy did they let me have it! I was dribbling over here and fumbling over there and hit a few fouls out in left field! (like those mixed sports metaphors?) But the advice and pointers are very helpful. I'd rather hear it now and fix it, than keep looking for an agent/publisher and getting rejected. And I can use the words of wisdom when it comes time to edit "Pop Travel" which I'm almost finished with.

The luckiest people get paid for their talent - easy money. What is your gift?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Consumer Reports says...Need some sleep?

I'm starting a new monthly series...As I read my Consumer Reports I'm going to choose tid bits to share.

This month they give advice on getting a good night's sleep - it's good for problem-solving and verbal skills (me no talk so good when no get enough sleep):
  • avoid big meals and caffeine late in the day
  • don't exercise 4 hrs before bed (huh!)
  • do exercise earlier in the day
  • don't take naps (duh!)
  • try to have the same bedtime and wake time
  • keep bedroom cool, dark and quiet - use primarily for sleeping and cuddling
  • set a turn off time for all screens
  • meditate before bedtime, deep breathe, concentrate on relaxing muscles (no time, just fall asleep)
  • a survey by CR said replacing your mattress could improve your sleep too.
And here are some #1s of the month:
best 3D plasma tv - Panasonic Viera TC-P65VT25 ($4,300, 65")
best cheaper 3D plasma tv - Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT20 ($1800, 50")
best regular plasma tv - Samsung PN63C550 ($2100, 60")

best pocket camcorder - Kodak Play Sport Zx3 ($135)
best vacuum cleaner - Hoover all the way

best small SUV - Toyota RAV4
best small hatchback/wagon - Volkswagen Golf
best minivan - Toyota Sienna
from Consumer Reports, March 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Favorite Vday Movies

I am not a romantic but many of my friends are. I just can't sit through a sappy love story, especially if it has a sad ending. But I do have a heart. Here are my favorite romantic comedies of all time:
  1. "What's Up, Doc?" 1972 (Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neal - I liked the follow up too, "The Main Event" 1979)
  2. "French Kiss" 1995 (I love Kevin Kline! and Meg Ryan is in it too)
  3. "Housesitter" 1992 (more faves: Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn)
  4. Still of Cameron Diaz and Jude Law in The Holiday"The Holiday" 2006 (I love Cameron Diaz and Jude Law!)
  5. "You've Got Mail" 1998 (How does Meg Ryan end up with all the good parts!)
  6. "Pretty Woman" 1990 (no comment necessary)
  7. "Failure to Launch" 2006 (Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker)
  8. "The Wedding Singer" 1998 (some may not like Adam Sandler, but this was a good one & Drew Barrymore is awesome, "50 First Dates" 2004 was good too)
  9. "Bridget Jones Diary" 2001 (Renee Zellweger and unassuming Colin Firth)
  10. "Working Girl" 1988 ("Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna. Never will.")
Honorable Mentions:
"When Harry Met Sally" 1989
"Two Weeks Notice" 2002
"Clueless" 1995
"Doc Hollywood" 1991
"Roxanne" 1987
"As Good As It Gets" 1997
"How to Marry a Millionaire" 1953
And almost any B&W movie with Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers or Clark Gable...

 (from "Once Upon a Honeymoon")

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A positive spin

When you are dealing with a bad situation, thinking positive is not the first thing that comes to mind.

I usually ask why is this happening? Why do I have to go through this? Why do we have to suffer? I ask it for my family and friends too.

Everything happens for a reason, is what I hear. And most of the time something good comes later.

So I try to put a positive spin on negative events - it could be worse or at least this is good.
And I pray to be able to accept what happens.

It's still hard.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Historic moment

Egypt has freed itself.
Long live democracy!

I consider myself blessed to be born in America at this time of prosperity. I am fortunate that I didn't have to go through the hardships of ancient times, the revolutionary war, the civil war, and so on. So many of us live in a bubble - we take so much for granted and squander it!

Now I pray my children realize and appreciate what they have - they sure don't know it now!
And I pray it isn't taken from them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

digital natives

This is the term referring to incoming college freshman - the generation that has never known what it was like before the internet!

Gasp! I've been dated!

"I remember when we used to have rotary telephones," said the wrinkled old prune in a crinkly voice wagging her twig finger. (me in 40 years!)

"Grandma, what's a telephone?" the little girl asked with her telepathic powers but it bounced off the old ladies' skull. Her grandma was too old to learn how.

So the little girl shrugged and skipped away.

"Wait, Penny! I didn't tell you about the big square box with the people in it! Tele-vision!" (or a car, or a school, who knows what changes will happen in the future?)

do do do do (twilight zone music - remember that? more dating!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On the job training

I am currently a substitute teacher. I enjoy what I'm doing. I would like to have a class of my own again, but even math teaching jobs are scarce around here...

As I think about my resume, I've had many diverse jobs and have learned a lot from each one. Here are a few examples:
  • hostess and waitress - these jobs are way harder and more disgusting than they look and the hostess usually gets tipshare from the waiters, and people are stingy! average tip today should be 20%
  • retail - the perks were good and the work wasn't so bad, but I like to help people. please don't leave random items around the store - someone has to put that away, you know!
  • temp and administrative assistant - boring! office work was feast or famine - hurry I need it in an hour or nothingness. But I used my down time to sharpen my computer skills, update my resume and make invitations for parties and such =). Companies really need to be more efficient.
  • tutor and teacher - kids need respect and self esteem. I felt best when I could help them understand. I still do. I also wish more parents took the initiative to stay involved in their kids' business. (some places were better than others, that's life)
  • wife and mom - I do my best and make my kids try to do their best.
  • writer - I have chosen the worst time to be a writer. There are tons of good writers all looking for a break. With book publishing in transition, it's harder than ever to make it. They are much more selective. I will just have to try harder to tell a good story.
What I've enjoyed the most is all the wonderful people I've had the privilege of working with. And I'm looking forward to more!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Broken Branch Falls

Here is a taste, the first 5 pages, of my Young Adult fantasy. I got some feedback from some other Absolute Writes members (the writing website I joined) and made some improvements. I'd love to hear your comments!

Broken Branch Falls
by Tara Tyler

Gabriel Thorntry needed a challenge.
As he sat in the middle of the small auditorium he had trouble focusing on Professor Hardaway’s lesson. He forced his eyelids to stay up and watched the white tufted, wrinkled, faded green goblin hunched next to his intricately carved, oak stump podium. The professor’s arms were folded at his chest and he bore a stony expression. Behind him was a white board filled with quotes and drawings.
Through round, gold-rimmed glasses the wily professor studied the array of diverse faces and chose his next victim. “Elmore. What is the main concept we learn from the Great Human Wars?”
“That guys with different brains can’t get along,” the elf shot to the professor with a finger gun and a wink. Petite Paula Pansy giggled and waved at him from across the room. Gabe shook his head.
The professor gave Elmore half of an annoyed smile. “Not exactly. Misunderstandings among those with different customs eventually lead to hostility and hatred. The root of the human wars stemmed from their inability to accept cultural differences and their desire to change each other. They prove we should not stray outside our species or force others to conform. Though we should respect others, harmony with our own kind spawns harmony in life,” he concluded.
“He said spawns,” an ogre said, elbowing his neighbor. They both guffawed.
Professor Hardaway ignored them and stepped behind the podium where a large tome was open. “Now we will continue our study of the Third Human War. Turn to page 283. Cyrena, would you please begin?”
Gabe only half listened as Cyrena read aloud from her volume of “Fantastic Fables of the Human Race.” No one knew if humans ever existed. They were the product of legends and folklore. He had trouble digesting Professor Hardaway’s philosophy about them. He considered an alternate view of the human struggle. Too often he witnessed strife and discontent within the breeds, not just against other species.
Ginkgo High was the only school in the area that integrated for education. Most of the outlying schools catered to individual communities. Like the griffins in Skylaria, the trolls of Subrooten and the dragons in Cinderlair Caverns. Residing in the city of Broken Branch Falls, Ginkgo High catered to four sects. How could adults throw them all together and expect them not to interact?
“Mr. Thorntry!” Professor Hardaway shouted.
Gabe was jarred from his thoughts. “Sir?”
“Please answer the question,” he demanded.
“Sorry, sir. Could you repeat it?”
“Jocklyn, tell Mr. Thorntry what the question was,” he instructed. He waved his hand and looked away like he was ridding the air of a foul stench.
“What was the primary goal of all the human wars?” Jocklyn repeated. The dark haired, purple hued pixie impersonated the professor perfectly. She even twitched her ear like he did and shooed at Gabe. Some of the students chuckled.
“Oh,” he frowned. He thought a moment before responding. “I believe the answer you are looking for is that they were selfish and wanted everyone to be like them or serve them. They wanted more land, more followers, more power,” he began.
Professor Hardaway was quick to agree, “Quite right, Gabe. Now…” Before he could go on, Gabe cut him off.
“But I believe the authors of these stories wanted to show the humans’ desire for freedom and equality among the different nations. And to get it they needed to rise up against the self serving leaders. Good humans wanted to be free to make their own choices and be treated equally based on their merit, not on their origin,” Gabe concluded.
The class laughed at him.
One of the ogres in the back row displayed a disgusting grin with remains of breakfast stuck in his rotting teeth. “Humans is the dummest things alive,” he chortled. That brought hoots and giggles from the students. The professor snickered in spite of himself, more for the irony.
“That’s why they’re ex-stinky!” added his buddy. More laughs.
The bell rang.
“Finish reading the selection and answer the questions to turn in tomorrow,” the professor mentioned as they packed up. “You’re dismissed. Mr. Thorntry, please see me for a moment before you go,” he requested.
Gabe grimaced and slouched over to Professor Hardaway’s desk.
“I believe you have some studying to do,” he started.
“I do?”
“Yes. You are mistaken in your interpretation of the human story’s purpose.”
“Am I not allowed to have my own opinion?”
“Not in this environment. When you go to college you can express your opinion and come what may. But here at Gingko High we cannot abide individual thinkers. Do you understand?”
“I guess so, sir.”
He explained further. “The potential for your words being misconstrued and then acted upon could lead to a volatile situation,” the professor warned and looked over his glasses at Gabe. “We are trying to keep peace here at Ginkgo. Even though we learn together, that is where it ends.”
“Ok,” he accepted. He respected what Professor Hardaway had to say. It was easier to take, coming from another goblin. But he still disagreed with him.
“Ok. You may go.”
Gabe walked out into the teaming hallway and was immediately biffed in the head by a passing ogress.
“Sorrr-eeey,” she called, tilting her head back to the ceiling without pause.
A group of elves standing nearby at their lockers saw it. They tittered and pointed. Then they resumed their huddled whispering.
Gabe continued down the hall, unfazed. He stopped by his locker and someone flicked the tip of his left ear. His pointed protrusions were enormous, even for a goblin. He turned left and no one was there. To his right he heard a couple of pixies laughing. Droll.
He finished threading through the halls without further incident. As he was about to enter his next class, he was accosted by three jumbo size ogres. And ogres were generally twice his height to begin with. The largest ones were on the football team. They picked him up and threw him into the bathroom.
The leader hefted Gabe by the front of his shirt and held him against the wall, hand blower sticking into his back. “Where’s my homework, Gabby?” he spat at him. Literally.
Gabe almost fainted from the malignant breath. It was lethal to smaller creatures. But these oafs didn’t intimidate him. He went through this on a regular basis. “If you put me down, I’ll get it out for you, Recker,” he scolded, like a parent to a spoiled child.
“Good. If you didn’t, I’d’ve had to mash you!” His friends haw-hawed and pounded their meaty fists as Recker set him down.
Gabe opened a folder and pulled out a paper. He handed it to Recker.
“It ain’t a A, is it?” he asked scrunching his gruesome face at it. He would’ve broken a mirror if there were any in there.
“A high C at best,” Gabe assured him. “May I go to class now?”
“Yuh. Just watch yourself, Gabby. Don’t make me mash you!” he repeated. Gabe left them as they tried to figure out the completed assignment. He slipped into class as the tardy bell rang.
Ogres grated on Gabe’s every last nerve. They were so frustratingly stupid. He reasoned that the size of their brain was the direct inverse to the size of their bulk. He had a hard time understanding why such a massive, hulking figure was given such a miniscule intellect. And why he was forced to deal with them.
He took his seat. Last period was his favorite class of the day, Honors Math. A class filled with only goblins. He was surrounded by his friends and they greeted him with smiles as the teacher began the lesson.
“Psst!” Argus whispered. He was a few hairs taller and a deeper shade of green than Gabe. A fine specimen of goblin. “We still meeting tonight?” he asked out of the corner of his mouth.
“Yeah,” Gabe whispered back, without taking his eyes off the teacher.
“I’ll be there,” Jordy added. He was smarter than most of the students at Ginkgo, but below average for a goblin.
“I might be late. I have to write a paper for Stonetta,” Hope informed them as she looked down pretending to search for something in her pencil pouch. Hope was the brightest of them and a cute goblin girl. Gabe caught her peeking at him. She’d been acting strange around him since the beginning of school.
“You have to come. We need to finalize our plans!” Argus urged. He drew Ms. Shurshot’s attention.
“Something to share, Mr. Klefurt?”
“No, Ma’am,” Argus answered, slinking down in his seat.
“Mmm,” the dubious centaur doubted. “On to the assignment, then, class,” she directed.
The friends grinned at each other and got to work. 

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