Keeping perspective – when orks fight

The young reader’s short novel I am working on right now is progressing nicely. I manage to get a a little writing in every day. This helps me keep my momentum up while letting ideas simmer and brew in the back of my mind for the next day’s typing. I rattled out the lines below as part of last night’s writing. They are still an early draft, but I am quite pleased with the pacing and growing tension.

“If I had a moment to think about it, I would have one last forlorn thought for my axe. Instead, I scoop up Grork’s sturdy steel shield as I dash past it. It was forged by the finest Steel Ork smiths of Krimlork. It isn’t pretty to look at, but is almost as tough as basilisk scale. It is also heavy, which is perfect for what I have to do next. I brace my shoulder firmly against it and duck my head low. Another step carries me into the creature’s side.

The impact rattles my tusks. It is like I have charged into the very mountain wall beyond the tent. After what feels like an eternity later, I hear the creature grunt from our collision, and we begin tumbling to the ground. Our trajectory takes us over my father’s cot. I briefly catch a look of complete surprise in his eyes as he glimpses both of us sailing over his bed space.

We land in a heap. I try to roll to my feet, but I get tripped up in my father’s things. The creature is much quicker than I am despite its enormous bulk. It springs upright and grabs a hold of my chest with a massive paw. It is also apparently much stronger than I. I struggle in vain as its vice-like grip begins to crush my throat and ribs. It rears its other mighty hand back, its fist clenched and ready to cave in my head. Despite the infamous thickness of our skulls, I suspect this beast will have no more difficulty squashing me into a pulp than it would a grape.”

I’ve always been one to see things from outside the box, so when I decided I’d write a fantasy-themed book, I approached things from a different direction. There are tons of stories out there that relate the epic accomplishments of the likes of dwarven, elvish, and human adventurers. I haven’t really found anything about the world as seen by orks. This is my attempt to populate that space, and generate a new set of adventures.

Writing a story is an endurance event

Persistence pays off, even for Orks.

There’s still a lot of work that has to get done, but as the illustrations roll in, and I close in on my draft’s last few chapters, I get a sense that persistence will pay off.

I plan to keep posting excerpts on a periodic basis. If you have any thoughts or comments, please let me know. I will incorporate any helpful feedback, making it a stronger, more legible offering.

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On fostering memories and dreams

Children love this thing.

My son is undoubtedly like the rest of his cohort: brilliant, joyful, above average in every possible way, and a rabid fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, and of Dora the Explorer.

As a result of his near-obsessive preoccupation for all things Thomas, our toddler has accumulated a hoard of  locomotive toys, baubles, and gizmos. He most recently acquired a small, red-trimmed, powder blue backpack with his favorite smiling tank engine plastered across the back. He took some interest in it, but really had no idea what to do with his latest acquisition. Until this morning.

He decided he would go exploring, so I drew a map up with a black ballpoint pen on a sheet of folio paper. I then rolled it up into his backpack and let him discover the parchment. When he found it, his eyes lit up. He ran around the house waving his map in the air, his little feet thumping frenetically on the wooden floor to rush from mother to father and back again to show us his map. I had even taken the time to draw Dora’s little map character on the page, lest there be confusion as to the document’s purpose.

My boy then spent the next hour going from room to room, taking his back pack off, unzipping it, unfolding his map to check it, packing it up again, and heading off to his next destination.

With any luck, this small act will remain with him as a magical moment marking his childhood for the rest of his life.

I guess I’d better start saving up for when he decides to hike out to the Amazon and get some real exploring done.

My son the astronaut (someday?)

My boy loves rocket ships.

One of his favorite activities before bedtime is to run around in circles yelling “Papa, rockay-ship. WHOOSH!” He punctuates the statement by thrusting his arm up into the air and smiling broadly.

We have a set of one-piece pajamas with classic cartoon rocket ships printed all over. The kind with the awesome foot-to-chin zippers that make life so easy. He loses his mind if he sees them lying clean in his closet, because he wants to wear them so badly, whether to go to bed, or simply run around the house in.

He is lunar lunatic. He will diligently point out the moon every time he sees it, day or night. Indeed, he points it out even when it is hidden behind an overcast sky, has fallen below the horizon, or is simply the reflection of a kitchen light in the window.

The excited stream of “Moon! Moon, MOON, MOON, MUH-MOON, papa!” is at once cute and oddly frustrating. Particularly after the fifteenth time it has been babbled in the span of a few heartbeats. However, it highlights the wonder that we should all have when we ponder the nature of the universe. The fact that we have a large, spherical lump of rock spinning close enough over our heads every day that we can make out major features with the naked eye humbles me to this very day.

I can understand why my toddler is fascinated. I have no doubt that like countless others, myself included, the nascent desire to be an astronaut is slowly taking shape in his mind.

The difference is that this generation may actually have a greater opportunity to reach for the stars than any of us have before. With commercial endeavors in asteroid mining and even a proposed Mars colony by 2023 (yes, I know, there are significant technical hurdles to be overcome, but where there’s a will, there’s often a way; never mind the debate on whether it is right to wreck another planet since we can’t handle our own), prospects for such opportunities are looking up.

Maybe my kid will end up being an astronaut after all.

Moonfall

Is that the Moon falling?

Yesterday evening, I took my son for a stroll to the local park. It’s still covered in thick layer of snow and ice, but that doesn’t stop the little one from loving taking the short walk down the hill to vent some energy there. Thanks to the lengthening days, the moon shone brightly in the still-bright sky.

One of his favorite things to do is to push the stroller along. He still isn’t very tall, but  seems to pack some serious strength in his little arms and legs, so he can really get it rolling quickly. He stopped suddenly and looked over his shoulder towards the sky.
“Moon! Tombé (fall!)” He shouted out in a bilingual mix of fevered excitement and mild concern.

With this, he turned his attention back to the stroller and took off at a brisk clip.

Thus began a prolonged stretch of running, stopping, looking at the sky and shouting “Moon! Tombé”  Surprise tinged his voice each time. I imagine he pictured himself running away from the falling Moon as Indiana Jones did from his giant boulder.

Being the great father that I am, I did not disabuse him from this notion. I want to see where his active imagination will take him. Eventually, we made it to the park where he had a grand old time playing in the snow-encrusted slides and tossing (well, carrying them over to my feet) snowballs at his old man. Some time later, it started getting dark and it was time to go home. As we were packing up to leave the park, he looked up to the sky once more and pointed. “Moon, Papa!” He smiled,  laughed, and hopped into his stroller.

I guess he knew the sky wasn’t falling after all.

On toddlers and experimenting with food

My boy has been a fan of sushi since day one. Well, not quite day one, but he’s been eagerly munching down on sushi almost as long as he’s been eating solid food.

Mind you, we stick to the vegetarian or cooked tidbits for him so we can avoid any issues with parasites.

His tastes vary from being a veritable garbage compactor, capable of wolfing down any remotely-organic, and possibly otherwise repugnant material within reach, to princess-like daintiness, so fussy he can eat nothing more than a wafer cracker served on a platinum plate served with a side of Himalayan peach jam carried across the Atlantic on the back of a golden raft pulled by penguins. Bringing home a box of takeout inevitably leads to an excited dance, lots of jumping around, and a constant stream “SUSSI! SUSSI! SUSSI!” joyously blaring through the house.

Tonight, he noticed the bright green glob of grainy goo on the platter for the first time. We typically encourage him to try new things, but when he eagerly pointed to it and announced: “Ça! (That)”, we thought he might actually benefit from a little moderation. Wasabi is definitely an acquired taste, and goodness knows how potent it is to young taste buds. Heavens knows it packs enough of a kick for a grown up, never mind the firestorm it could unleash on sensitive papillae. He insisted on having a taste anyway.

Now, there are few moments in life where one can go about their business and truly regret not having been there to see it. I was up by the sink preparing a cloth with which to clean my boy up when my lovely spouse gave him a healthy dose of the green stuff. This was one of those moments. I wish I was five feet from where I was with a camera. Heck, a whole recording studio with James Cameron filming in 3D would probably have been appropriate for what has been reported to be one of the most memorable facial expressions to be produced by a human being in the past thousand years. And I missed it.

Apparently, it took about two seconds of happy chewing before he noticed something was wrong. Then, a little shudder, a faint but rapid quivering of the eyelids, followed rapidly by a slight flushing of the face. “Thbptbpt!” A quick spit to get rid of the offending condiment. Hands flailed hysterically for two to three seconds. He then frowned, pointed intently at the wad of wasabi waiting patiently on the tray and proclaimed:”Pas ça! (Not that!)” His cute short form for I don’t like that was unmistakable.

The wasabi sting rapidly faded into the background thanks to the timely arrival of a maple cookie for desert. Nothing but smiles and giggles from there on in.

The road to culinary appreciation is paved with failed experiments. Time will tell whether he’ll be back for the green goo of gasping any time soon.

On Toddlers’ Acting Abilities

My toddler, the apple of my eye, is quite an actor. I suspect he may already be in the running for an Academy Award.

The little bugger.

He used to be so good at letting us brush his teeth. Yet, in the past few months, his constant gagging and choking would inevitably lead my wife to frown and look at me pointedly as I dutifully tried to polish his pearly whites. “Be careful! You’re being too rough.” The admonishment soon became a refrain. I even began to feel guilty about my horrendous attempts at maintaining the little one’s oral hygiene.

“Gack! Hack! Cough! Cough! COUGHCOUGHCOUGH!” The wheezing, teary-eyed child squirmed and wriggled furiously.

“Just a little bit more, my boy, and then we’re done. Sit still! Come back here. Turn around. Look up. Look down. Not that far down!”

“Raaarh! Ahak! Blehbptptpttppppth! Waaaaaaah!” The screams resonated painfully in our small bathroom.

I must have earned the torturer of the month merit badge a few times over simply by holding up a tiny yellow and red toothbrush with a pixie-sized dollop of paste adorning its transparent bristles.

Then it happened. I moved the toothbrush to his mouth, but for some strange vagary of fate hesitated.

“Gahaheeek! Cough! Cough! Cou…” Teary eyes slowly widened, and his mouth widened into a beaming smile that shouted “you caught me, papa!”

Indeed.

We both broke out laughing.

I am certain this isn’t the first time I’ve been outsmarted by my boy. It certainly won’t be the last. Maybe I’ll put his skill to good use and toss him into acting school. Or maybe he’ll go for political studies. Such raw talent would make him a brilliant politician.