Sunday, April 14

Bad Romance Book Review – Sins of a Virgin

Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol is a gritty crime novel dressed up in the slinky red dress of a romance. The blurb led me to believe I was getting the lustful love story of a scandalous courtesan and a disciplined police officer but what I received was much, much more.
After the Napoleonic Wars end Madeline Valdan returns to London. She had been one of three great spies but now that the war was over she was no longer needed and cast out. But Madeline has a plan to make a lot of money fast – become the most famous and sought after courtesan in London and auction off her virginity to the highest bidder.
Gabriel Huntford became a Bow Street Runner after his sister’s death and finally, after seven years, he’s come across a solid lead into her murder. When Gabriel is assigned as protection for Madeline he sees it as the perfect opportunity to investigate. Although they each keep their past close to their chests, both are quick to realise that the other is more than they seem.
Anyone who knows me knows I have terrible issues with female characters. Romance heroines are even worse than the average female in fiction. They’re always bold and brave, but need to be rescued every chapter by their man. They’re stubborn, but they never take charge. They’re plain ass two dimensional.
Madeline Valdan was different. She was a believably strong female. People know I usually have issues with strong females as well, but Madeline was shockingly different. Madeline had had a difficult past but had adapted and hardened herself against becoming cold-hearted and cruel to the point where she also believed it. Madeline had been a spy for so long she’d completely forgotten who she really was and only knew the roles she played. And it was believable. I believed this woman, which I rarely do with female characters. Never romance characters.
Gabriel was the first hero of a romance I’ve found myself falling for. Like Madeline, his flaws seemed real. My list of fictional crushes to the side will tell you that I usually prefer the flawed characters. Neither Madeline nor Gabriel came across as a Mary Sue once. They had none of those “fake flaws” that could be likeable and sometimes kind of be considered complimentary. Most romance characters have one flaw and it’s usually stubbornness which isn’t usually treated as a flaw at all.
There were times Gabriel had to save Madeline’s life, which yeah, pissed me off, but someone really wanted her dead and most of the time she fought to save herself just as hard as Gabriel. There were times she did a better job of it.
Each piece of their past was revealed at just the right time to be most effective and you could really feel the way it affected the character.
Like I said at the start, this book feels more like a regency crime novel than a romance, the focus being on finding the man who murdered Gabriel’s sister as well as another girl. The investigation had me on the edge of my seat at times and baffled by some of the red herrings. However, although I say all this, I did guess the correct killer pretty early on in the book, I just didn’t have any proof other than the frequency of his name occurring. Randol should probably work on that if she ever does another crime themed novel; which I hope she does.
I loved Sins of a Virgin, I’m a little ashamed to say. But it never once came across as your typical romance novel. If this book had been published by Random House or Penguin instead of Avon Romance I’m sure a larger range of people would pick it up unabashed asides from the target demographic. If you’re looking for a really decent Romance novel and enjoy a little intrigue, Sins of a Virgin is the book for you. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on the sequels and read other books by Anna Randol.
I give it four out of five stars and it gets zero for so-bad-its-good. It simply wasn’t bad. I, at least, loved it.

Monday, April 1

Bad Romance Book Review: The Key

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, guys, but… I’ve kind of misplaced Bound to a Warrior. Disappointing, I know. I also haven’t had the time or motivation to dedicate myself to anymore Story Saturdays. I’m intending to change this. Hopefully – hopefully – I will write a blog a week (or at least a fortnight), either a Story Saturday, or a Bad Romance Book Review. To start it off – The Key by Lindsay Sands.

When Iliana Wildwood’s mother is forced to marry a ruthless and greedy man the only way Iliana can escape and hope to free her mother is to marry Duncan, a barbarous Scottish Highlander. Although there is something about the virile warrior that makes her weak at the knees, Iliana refuses to let him into her bed until he becomes more civilised. Iliana has the perfect device to resist Duncan’s advances… a chastity belt.
However, Duncan is not one to easily give up and accept defeat. Changing his tactics, Duncan decides to romance Iliana into willingly, breathlessly, giving up… The Key.

When in a bookstore there are four things I do, every time. First, I look over the classics to see which titles I can get for $10. I browse the Young Adult section, lingering on L and M, checking for miss-shelving, then, with a sigh, I ask an employee where Margo Lanagan is (they don’t have her, I should check online if I’m ever to read Sea Hearts). The fourth think I do is look over the romance section for the worst and most ridiculous sounding book.
The Key was pointed out to me by my boyfriend while I was doing this at a QBD in Brisbane. I’d all but settled on Sins of a Virgin but followed his pointed finger and picked up the Key to read the blurb. Chastity belt. Sold. (I also bought Sins of a Virgin but it will wait for another day. You’ll be disappointed by my review for it)
There are four plots in the Key; three minor plot points and one main plot. Three of these would make great stories. One is stupidly ridiculous. Guess which is the main story line?
  1. There is Iliana’s mother’s forced marriage and the need to rescue her from a violent, thieving man.
  2. Duncan’s sister runs away to escape her own impending marriage and is caught by enemies of Duncan’s clan, needing Duncan to lead an army to rescue her.
  3.  There is an invasion of the castle.
  4. And Iliana refuses to sleep with her husband, despite desiring him, all because he smells.

That’s it. He smells. The driving plot line. Iliana even straight up tells him, “have a bath and I’d love to sleep with you. I’ll tear your clothes right off you and thrust you inside me myself”*
But Duncan is too stubborn. He has a bath twice a year, January and July, and it’s only June.
I have polled several people and everyone** says “Hell yes” or, alternatively, a quiet, bashful “yeah…”. This is not a realistic plot. Come on, Sands, there is so much more you could do with a chastity belt. A man not being willing to bathe for sex is not one of them. It is simply not realistic. Men have gone to war just to get their willy wet. Look at Troy!
When the sex scenes finally happen they are nothing to write home about. I’ve already forgotten what happened. I think they do it against a tree once? Iliana lures Duncan into a bath and… I think they have sex? The initial interactions between Duncan and Iliana when she is wearing the belt feel as awkward and uncomfortable as a Target customer whose friend is insisting on lodging a complaint that one of the female mannequins looks too masculine. Everyone, particularly the audience, experiences a little cringing, a lot of shame, and just doesn’t know how to react.
The relationship between Duncan and Iliana is also clumsy. Although we see Duncan trying to help Iliana and look after her we don’t really see their relation develop. It goes from hate and lust to plain lust then, suddenly, out of nowhere they’re saying they love each other when really you think they really mean to say “I kinda tolerate you. Let’s bang.”
If we overlook the main plotline and just ignore Duncan. The story is kind of interesting. I like the story about Iliana’s mother. However, there was nothing new or creative. A lot of it I’d seen before and it just seemed re-done. It was just kind of… bland.
If you want a laugh, a quick read, and to cringe a lot, then the Key is the perfect novel for you. If you want something substantial and decent, try a different genre and not an Avon Romance. The Key gets a one out of five on the decent scale and a three on the so-bad-its-good scale.

*May be paraphrased.
**Except my mother who was the single outlier, claiming “I ain’t changing for no man! I’m a strong, independent woman, if he wants me he takes me how I am!”* But she’s kind of bitter.

Next time I’ll review Sins of a Virgin about a courtesan auctioning her virginity, or, if you give me a genre, you might receive a Story Saturday.

Monday, September 3

Blogging Bound to a Warrior: Part 4

Okay guys, I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. My mum keeps harassing me to blog some more of Bound to a Warrior but I had lent it to a friend so couldn’t write anything. Also, my brother is now has a blog where he blogs and writes terrible romance – it runs in the family, but he does it so much better than me. Check it out:
So, I believe we’re up to chapter four, yes?
We start with more walking. They walk for an hour or so before the sit down and hoe into a little of the bread Bailey-from-the-last-chapter gave them. Mercy wants to ask Duncan lots and lots of questions like “why’s the king after you?”, “who are you, really?”, how the hell did we mistake a pregnant lady for an old woman?”, “why do the soldiers know, or at least think, we’re still alive when they seemed so sure we’d die after jumping off that cliff?”, “why’d they capture us just to kill us? And if they just wanted to kill us why are they looking for us now and why didn’t they do a better job of it? Did they just want to get me wet?”, “why are we even handcuffed together? What is this supposed to accomplish? Did you arrange this to set up some kind of kinky sex situation?”, and “why is your kilt black and red one minute and then an “undistinguishable” colour the next?” but she’s too hungry to talk.
You were walking together for an hour. You weren’t hungry when you started walking. Why didn’t you ask him your questions while you walked? It’s not like you’ve walked in silence before so why start now? Why start to walk in silence now that you have something to talk about that’s important and not playful banter? WHY?
Screw you, Mercy.
Although they’re still hungry, they put the rest of the bread aside for later. And then they playfully joke about it. Too hungry to ask the questions we all want to know but not too hungry to engage in poor dialogue and tell Duncan “You’re a humorous one.” and “a poetic philosopher as well.” That’s how she speaks to him. Because every eighteen year old I know tells someone that they’re funny by saying “You’re a humorous one.” Sure, this is the 11th century or something but I’m sure that even then people only said “You’re a humorous one” when being patronising.
But Duncan asks Mercy what she knows of poetic philosophers and we learn a little bit about her, however only enough to intrigue us, not enough to tell us anything. “Only in a family of means would you find an educated daughter”. Mercy claims she’s not from a family of means, her mother just wanted the best for her. Yeah, but if a peasant woman wants the best for her daughter it doesn’t mean her daughter is going to be educated. Her mother must have had some kind of means or influence.
Next we see a plot hole partially explained. Remember how I asked why they tried to kill both Mercy and Duncan if they actually wanted Mercy alive? Well, I can now answer that. Apparently Mercy’s mother had done something very foolish which had condemned them both to death. Apparently everyone suspects Mercy knows of her mother’s devious plans. They want to kill her so the plans don’t come into fruition, although, I’m not sure anyone, not ever Mercy, is aware of what these devious plans are.
At least the kings orders have gone somewhere along the lines of “just kill her to make sure she doesn’t do anything bad” as opposed to the usually super villain tactic of “keep her alive and bring her to me so I may learn what her plan is” which usually leads to the villain’s downfall.
Mercy quickly get distracted by Duncan’s face and she reaches up to touch a scar on his lip. When she asks him about it he gets pissed and Mercy finds Angry Duncan scary. They walk off in grouchy silence until just before night fall. Mercy collapses into Duncan’s arms and rests her head against his chest, having completely forgotten how she was scared by him earlier in the day, even though it was only on the previous page. I suppose this is the way romance novels work? It most certainly is with Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. The man is scary and violent; the woman loves him even more for it. Even when it’s directed at her. Mercy, don’t get involved in a relationship like that. IT’S BAD.
They’ve stopped by a stream and Mercy goes to dip her feet in it but it hurts when she tries to take her boots off. Duncan helps take her boots off and then surveys the damage. Skin is peeling and blistered and it sounds really gross, but this is ignored in favour of kinky ankle action. Mercy finds it quite improper until she remembers that they got naked together the night before. Duncan clean up her wounded feet, sprouting more of his poetic wisdom, and then carries her away from the creek to where ever it is that they plan to set up camp.
Mercy echoes my thoughts by pointing out to Duncan that he can’t set up for camp while she stays off her feet, because they’re freaking handcuffed together. The chain may be ridiculously long at times, but it’s still not long enough for him to hunt and gather firewood, or whatever, while she sits still. No matter what has happened previously.
So they get everything done, nice and quick, and settle in for the night. She falls asleep with her head resting against his chest. And I end this chapter convinced that I know Mercy’s big secret.
She’s got to be illegitimate, right?

Plot holes.
- Why are they handcuffed together?
- Why weren't they killed on the spot?
-  Why do the soldiers know, or at least think, they’re still alive when they seemed so sure they’d die after jumping off that cliff?
- Why is Duncan’s kilt black and red one minute and then an “undistinguishable” colour the next?

Wednesday, May 23

Blogging Bound to a Warrior: Part Three

"Dampness remained at the ends of Duncan's plaid and at the hem of his shirt, but mostly his garments were dry. And glad of it he was, since he slipped into them as soon as his eyes cleared of sleep.
Mercy was too tempting a morsel to remain beside her naked and not want to do more than just keep her warm. He had fought his carnal urges like a stoic warrior throughout the night. It wasn't an easy battle, especially when she had tucked her free hand in places that provided the most warmth.
It hadn't been bad when she had tucked it between their stomachs, but when her hand had begun to drift to a more heated, sensitive area, he knew he was in trouble."

I just didn't feel it was fair to kept the incredible amusingness that is the first page of chapter three all to myself. Such amazing stuff. I may have fallen off the bed laughing while reading this and the following few paragraphs. Sadly though, chapter three deteriorates quickly.
As Duncan dresses in his wool plaid it is described as having no distinguishable colours. Unfortunately on page 15 it was described as black and red and I lose all hope for the chance of continuity in this story. I notice these things. Please, keep them constant. Minute discrepancies give me cold shivers and make me throw books. I didn't want to hurt you, Bound to a Warrior, but you brought it on yourself (its when I say things like this that I worry my boyfriend may be the victim of an abusive relationship, but frankly, if he's going to tickle me he should expect wild limb flailing and it's not my fault if a foot occasionally connects with a sensitive area like the one Mercy's hand was drifting to)..
Sorry. Of topic. Anyway...
Duncan spends a great deal of time perving on Mercy; "accidentally" while she dresses and more when they discuss their next move - keep walking then dinner before bed. Duncan is pretty hungry, but not for food. He desires Mercy's luscious lips. So far Duncan has come of ridiculously lecherous and not at all as chivalrous as Mercy thinks he is.
The do, however share a sweet moment in the forest when Mercy (stupidly) stops to pick heather (for some reason). Mercy drops a sprig which Duncan picks up and tucks behind her ear. He then caresses the tip of her ear and they end up holding hands. It would be a lovely moment if we weren't subject to Duncan's lusty thoughts.
They eventually come across a little house that is occupied by an old couple. Now remember that. It's say the house is occupied by an old couple.
Mercy and Duncan decide to sneak in and look for some kind of tool to break the chain that's cuffed them together. However it turns out that the kings soldiers have been through here earlier and confiscated all the tools. They fond this out because they're sprung by the farmer who owns the place, who spotted them aged ago because apparently a farmer is much better at finding fugitives then the people actually looking for them. but it's okay because a good guy. He invites them inside when his pregnant wife makes them something to eat. That's right. They mistook a pregnant lady for an old woman. Because we all know pregnant women look just like old ladies.
However, we do have a bit more plot development when they discuss a seers prophecy announcing the return of the true king of Scotland who will undo all the bad deeds of the current king.
The chapter end with Mercy and Duncan being given supplies and they leave with something the man had said ringing in their ears.
"One of you must be mighty important for the king to be searching so hard for you."
And I think we're supposed to be left wondering which one. I think it's both of them but for different reasons. Duncan is one of the four from the prophecy, maybe the true king, maybe not. And Mercy is either the bastard daughter of someone important or her mother was the concubine of someone important and then something happened and now she's on the run. I'm not sure what yet. But that's my guess.
I found this chapter boring and inconsistent but it was important in that it tied in the prophecy and gave us a plot greater than "handcuffs make for kinky sex".

We're still at the same two plot holes.
- Why are they handcuffed together?
- Why weren't they killed on the spot?

Sunday, May 6

Blogging Bound to a Warrior: Chapter Two

I'm not sure if I furiously enjoyed this chapter or was bitterly disappointed. A little of both, I guess. When a chapter starts with someone suggesting they both get naked, you sort of expect a little sex. Especially when Duncan immediately reaches for Mercy's clothes and starts pulling them off as if that's all he's been thinking off all day (which he has).
So yeah, no sex. But I've so far read up to chapter eleven and this does remain my favourite chapter, even if things get as hot and dirty as they could have. But why is it my favourite chapter, you may ask? Well, dear reader, it's chocked full with awkward sexual tension.
As I said, Duncan immediately starts to undress Mercy, while Mercy just stands there staring at him. No, staring isn't the right word. She's checking him out. While he's there undressing her she spends two seconds thinking "this isn't very proper or lady-like" then she goes on to spend two pages describing how hot he's looking.
Duncan struggles to untie her shirt and tells her "I'll have you free of these stubborn ties soon, I promise" and Mercy realises just how concerned he is for her wellbeing. Sure. That's why he's undressing you. Not because you're a busty beautiful woman who just said "let's strip!" (that may be paraphrasing).
Duncan finally whips the blouse over her head and exposes Mercy's bare bosoms. Rather than cover them with her arms or hands Mercy, not wanting to appear vulnerable or a cowards decides to show them off. Because it's better to be slutty than a coward or, you know, modest.
They strip of the rest of the clothes. Because of the handcuffs they can't take their shirts off properly and they just hang of the chain with it through the armholes. By this point they have used the word garment at least five times and not a single other synonym for the word. Not clothes, not anything. Sure, I get the author's trying to get the historical lingo going, but just using "garment" instead of "clothes" isn't going to cut it.
Mercy visibly shivers and Duncan embraces her in a hug and massages warmth back into her body she snuggles against him and massages him back. It all gets rather sexual without anything actually occurring. They finally realise that they need to make a proper camp to keep warm and spread out their "garments" to dry so they make an agreement that they're not going to look at each other where they shouldn't be looking and they get to work. Of course, it doesn't take long for Mercy to be telling us that Duncan is a generously endowed man.
They make themselves a bed out of leave and branches and quickly snuggle up to get warm. Mercy feels Duncan "grow large against her" but he promises to leave her alone. This was obviously going to occur at some point in this chapter but it took a lot longer than I expected. One thing I'm learning about romance novels while reading this book is that the authors draw it out as long as possible, piling on the sexual tension without anything actually happening. The book is 35 chapters long, I'm not expecting sex until chapter 26.
The author's main reason here for giving Duncan an erection wasn't just to show that he desired Mercy, we already know that, but to show that he is chivalrous and won't do anything to Mercy without her consent. I can't say that Donna Fletcher is a good writer but she certainly knows how to play the game. I haven't read many romance novels (this is my first aimed at an adult audience) but I think she's pretty good at her craft.
Duncan makes a joke about how they should do it there and then, to generate heat, of course, but only receives a peck on the cheek for his efforts. This leads to what is probably one of the greatest motivators in the book: Duncan says he needs to teach her how to kiss properly and Mercy replies "When we are safe, our chains gone, I promise I will reward you with a kiss."
The chapter ends with them both dreaming of the kiss and how much they both want it. Thus the desire for each other has become a much more motivational factor for getting rid of the handcuffs than, you know, freedom.

The 2 plot holes from last chapter remain unresolved:
- Why are they handcuffed together?
- Why weren't they killed on the spot?

And I'll leave you with my favourite quote from this chapter, a terrible pun that Duncan says to Mercy:
"Then don't fancy me with your lovely smile, or I'll be begging for mercy."

Sunday, March 18

Blogging Bound to a Warrior: Chapter One

Every now and then even the biggest literature nerds want to read something trashy- whether that be my Story Saturday's, fanfiction, or the Twilight Saga. I decided to read a trashy romance novel; Bound to a Warrior by Donna Fletcher, a USA Today best selling author (or so the cover of the book tells me). Published by Avon Historical Romance this book cost me AU$1.25. I bought it for the sole reason that the couple on the cover were handcuffed together.
I'm very sceptical about any kind of romance novel that has a couple in some stage of undress on the cover, particularly when the female lead is named after a virtue. One of the reasons for reading Bound to a Warrior was to prove to myself that they're not as bad as I think they are. However, I'm pretty sure that my blog of this book will reflect my pessimism
Anyway, without further ado, Blogging Bound to a Warrior:

The book opens with a seers prophecy:
When summer touches winter and the snow descends
the reign of the false king begins to end.
Four warriors ride together and then divide
among them the true king hides.
When he meets death on his own
that is when he reclaims his throne
I don't know about you, but to me this sounds like a fantasy plot, not so much a romance, but that's cool. This means there's depth to the story, right? It can't be all sex and sexual tension when there's a king to dethrone and replace. However a look at the inside cover showed me that Bound to a Warrior is in a series so my book mightn't even be about the true king. It might just be about one of these other warriors. Doesn't matter. I'm sure I'm in for some kind of action. Hopefully it's not all the hot and dirty kind.
Chapter one starts well, the opening line being "Duncan tumbled down hard onto the woman." We've already got physical contact and they're lying on top of each other already. This is what we expect from a romance novel with a shirtless man clutching a woman's thigh illustrating the cover.
We find out that Duncan, a Scottish Highlander and warrior, has been chained to a delicate young woman. Why they're handcuffed together, we don't know. I'm sure it will be explained. All we know for now is that they're both prisoners and handcuffs are going to make the story much kinkier.
They are marched by two soldiers to the edge of a cliff above a fast flowing river and given two options. Jump into the rapids that will almost certainly drown them, or be killed where they stand by the soldiers. Why bother handcuffing them together if you're just going to kill them? I don't know.
While constantly describing to the reader the sensual curves of the woman's body and the way she felt in his arms, Duncan grabbed hold of the woman and jumped into the river, with her consent, of course, because Duncan is a chivalrous hero. Now, despite the river being "certain death" and despite the woman turning out to be unable to swim, Duncan gets them both safely to the shore and the soldiers don't notice that they've survived. They've probably already wandered off to chain two other random things together. Maybe a squirrel and a rocking chair. It would make about as much sense as chaining these two together.
The woman introduces herself as Mercy (she's one of those female leads named after a virtue) but Duncan is too busy staring at her boobs through her soaking wet shirt. However Mercy doesn't notice this and instead we have an awkward toilet scene. I tell you, not enough handcuff stories had awkward toilet scenes. All plot holes so far are redeemed by this toilet scene alone. Who wants to bet that there isn't another one? That these two only need to use the toilet once for their entire time chained together?
Dusk comes and Duncan and Mercy are still dripping wet. The temperature is quickly dropping and, despite Duncan lighting a fire, their clothes just aren't drying fast enough to keep them warm. Chapter one ends with Mercy making a daring suggestion:
"We need to get out of these wet garments."
The sexual tension is unbelievable! Already getting naked? Could we really have a sex scene in the next chapter? You'll only find out if I remember to continue this blog.

Number of Plot Holes so far: 2
- Why are they handcuffed together?
- Why weren't they just killed on the spot?

Wednesday, November 23

On a Serious Note, I Tell You Something Personal

I feel that it is important for me to confess something personal to you. To explain to you how I am. A lot of you know that I suffer from depression, and I have since I was about thirteen or fourteen. I was at my worst in year eleven, in 2008. But I'm really good and acting normal and not letting it interfere with my life. Or with anyone else's. I'd hate that. If I interfered with someone else's life just because I felt like crap.
I used to tell myself that I was just a little sad, that it wasn't that bad and I'd get over it. It was only when reading old diaries that I realised exactly how bad I was. I am not suicidal, never have been, but I did have a councillor diagnose me with severe depression when I was in year 12 and refer me to a psychologist - who I never went to.
I believe depression is different for everyone. For me depression is a dark, soft creature. The fact that I can only describe it as a metaphor just screams writer, which in turn kind of screams depression. This creature is always sleeping in my stomach. It never goes away. Some of you are aware that I sometimes have these little "breakdowns". Often I will rant on twitter when they happen. This is when the creature wakes and claws it's way up my throat, into my lungs and out my mouth where it sits on my chest, suffocating me. I don't see my depression as a monster or a beast. It's heavy dark creature, as soft as a kitten. But it's got these long sharp teeth that gently bite into my jugular and slowly bleed me out.
This creature terrifies me.
Today the creature stirred and I could feel it clawing it's way up my throat. I'm just thankful I have so many wonderful friends who came and helped me sedate the creature. So thank you, to you all, and maybe one day you'll help take the creature away from me for good.

Tuesday, November 15

Story: Percival X and the Mysterious Blue Parcel

I know I haven't posted anything for ages and you all probably hate me, especially now that I'm only posting this so I can get your opinion on whether or not I should submit this for my Writing Portfolio assignment. This was one of my Writing For Young People tasks in which I was to write a children's chapter book. As it is part of a chapter book, I have included the introduction and a much later extract. It's a story I'd really like to continue with. Tell me what you think.


Percival Xavier Crane, or Percival X as most people knew him, was eleven years old and lived in the eighth floor of an apartment building with his nanny, Mrs McClendon. The reason Percival X lived on the eighth floor with his nanny, Mrs McClendon, was because his parents were lepidopterologists. This meant they were often away, travelling the world, looking for rare species of butterflies. The last time Percival X had heard from them they were hot-air ballooning over the Amazon looking for the Spotted Orange Sundancer.
Percival X’s parents loved butterflies. That’s why they were always running around the world looking for them. Percival X hated butterflies. Even more so, Percival X hated that his parents were always running around the world looking for them. To tell you the truth, Percival X was jealous. He thought that his parents, not Mrs McClendon, should have lived with him in the eighth floor apartment. Better still, he thought that his parents should have taken him with them when they were travelling the world. Percival X would have loved to hot-air balloon over the Amazon, even if it was while looking for the Spotted Orange Sundancer.
Percival X’s parents thought that he was too young to be travelling the world. They thought that a hot-air balloon over the Amazon was no place for an eleven year old boy. They thought that Percival X needed a stable environment; somewhere normal, with normal friends, doing normal things. Thus Percival X stayed at the eighth floor apartment with his nanny, Mrs McClendon. He attended school, he played with friends in the park, he went to movies and he helped out with chores. Percival X lived a normal, stable life.
Percival X didn’t want a normal, stable life. Percival X wanted an adventure. His parents were always off on adventures, whether it was hot-air balloons over the Amazon or something else. Percival X wanted one of his own. It was for this reason he was so excited when he found a parcel on his doorstep early one frosty Saturday morning.
The parcel was odd for a number of reasons. First of all, the mail wasn’t delivered on Saturdays, particularly not early in the morning. Even when the mail was delivered, it wasn’t left on the doorstep. It was put in little mailboxes in the foyer or given to the doorman who then said things like “Ma’am, a parcel came for you this morning.” when you come down stairs. But Percival X’s parcel wasn’t in one of the little mailboxes or with the doorman. Percival X’s parcel was on the doorstep of his eighth floor apartment.
The parcel was a long and flat oblong wrapped in royal blue paper and tied up with pale lacy pink ribbon. In the upper left corner, butterflies had been drawn in silvery ink. There were fifteen stamps taking up the entire right half and scrawled on the left in the same silvery pen as the butterflies were the words:
To Adventurer
Eighth Floor
When Percival X turned the parcel over he did not find the senders name like one usually would with letters and parcels but instead, written in the same scrawl as the words on the front of the parcel was:
Your expedition awaits!

Later Extract

Percival X entered the room with caution. One should never rush into a room gated by a ten foot crimson door that mysteriously creaked open as one happened to be walking by. Percival X placed on hand on the door and the other on the doorframe and peered his head inside, careful to look both left and right to make sure nothing was hiding behind the door ready to jump out and gobble him up.
Once Percival X had diligently checked behind the door he stepped inside and examined the room. His mouth opened into a little ‘o’ and, without meaning to, let out a gasp. At first he thought the floor was carpeted in thick green shag but when he looked closer, Percival X realised he was standing ankle deep in luscious grass. The domed ceiling was painted navy blue, with tiny lights set into it, twinkling like stars. For a moment Percival X thought that he had stepped outside, but the walls proved that that wasn’t the case.
Every wall was lined with glass shelves. They started a foot above the ground and rose all the way to the ceiling. There were no windows in the room so the only place the shelves stopped was across the crimson doorway.
In the centre of the room was a very enormous lounge chair with a very tiny, very old lady perched in it. “Don’t let the door close, dear. It catches.” The very tiny, very old lady said. “And it is awful troublesome to get it open again.”
“I received a parcel…” Percival X began, thinking perhaps this lady could help him, but the very tiny, very old lady interrupted him.
“The door, dear.” She prompted.
“Oh. Right.” Percival X turned back just as the door was clicking into place. “Sorry.” He chewed his lip, “I guess I was too slow.”
The woman sighed a loud, drawn out, sigh, “It really is such awful trouble to get back open again.” She pointed Percival X to the glass shelves and told him to have a good look at them. The shelves were cluttered with hundreds and hundreds of tea cups and saucers and, when Percival X stepped closer, he noticed that none of the cups were with their matching saucers.
“Now.” The lady ordered from where she sat in the enormous lounge chair. “Match them up.”

Wednesday, September 21

Story: The Shadow

This week in my Writing For Young People class we are doing older reader picture books. This is the text for my picture book, it works fine without pictures so I thought it would be alright to share. Next week is children's chapter books, so expect an extract from that next week.

There’s a shadow inside mummy. You can’t always see it, but I know it’s there. Sometimes I see it under her eyes, a grey and green and black shadow, and I tell it to leave her, but it won’t.
The shadow makes mummy sad.
“She’s just a bit down,” grandma tells me, “feeling a bit blue. That’s all.”
“She’s had a little nervous breakdown.” My aunt says. I don’t know what this means. “It’s nothing to worry about.” She sends me off to play.
I don’t want to play. Not when mummy won’t leave her room. Not when mummy won’t stop sleeping. Not when mummy doesn’t talk to me or daddy or anyone else.
Some nights mummy cries so loud she wakes me. I go to her in her room and cling onto her. Maybe if I hug her hard enough I can squeeze the shadow out of her.
“It’s okay mummy. I’ll save you from it.” I tell her. I’ll fight away the shadow.
Daddy strokes my hair and wraps his arms around mummy’s shoulders. “Mummy’s fine. Go back to bed.” He tells me.
Everyone keeps telling me mummy is fine, but she is not. The shadow has her. It’s dark and heavy and steals away smiles.
One day I’ll make mummy smile again.

Saturday, September 10

Story: Children's Poetry - The Lady

This past week I was to write a picture book for my writing class. I thought about sharing it with you, but decided against it. Because it hasn't been illustrated it reads more like a script than a picture book and it really loses effect. This coming week we are to write childrens poetry so, to make up for not posting something last week, I'm posting my poetry to you guys early.

One day a lady stole our dad.
She was a thin as a newspaper ad.
She was so mean, she was so grumpy,
She flushed mummy done the dunny!
She locked dad in the tallest tower,
Cut off hot water to the shower.
My brothers tried to break him out
An elaborate mission came about.
Danny had weapons skills
While Miles had been trained to kill
They plotted long and hard that night.
I supplied the dynamite.
Clad in black and camo paint
With a tank they broke the gate
The lady stood before the spire
And with a cry we opened fire
She threw her head back, gave a roar,
My dynamite blew in the door
Dad was free, it seemed we won,
But then the lady grabbed a gun.
Dad wrestled her for the rifle
Her last attempt had been stifled
So Miles, who had lost his cool,
He pushed her in a nearby pool.
Danny, with a colossal tug,
Pulled out the gigantic plug.
Swirling through the hole and down
To the sewage works out of town.
To this day we have not seen her.
It’s said she’s in Argentina.

What'd you think? Next week is Older Reader Picture Books, so I'm not sure if you'll get anything that week. We'll see.