Posted in Today's File, Writing

‘Mythbusters’ Edition: How NOT to Blog

Just recently I came across a post listing Rules for writing a good blog–and I discovered I’ve been doing everything wrong!  Without laying out the whole rulebook, here’s the CliffsNotes edition of Somebody Else’s Rules:

  1. Pick one topic and only blog about that. People want to know what to expect from your blog.
  2. Don’t post more than twice a week. People don’t want to hear from you more than that.
  3. Don’t blog about your home life or pets or your kids. Your kids are NOT interesting.
  4. Don’t blog about the personal stuff from your past.
  5. Blog while drunk occasionally.
photo "pirated" from

Clearly I’m a writing-rules scofflaw.  I post nearly every day, and I write about the cat and the kids (and the Dragon) and the husband and the alcoholism (which precludes the drunk-blogging)…  I might as well just run up the pirate flag now and declare this blog a rebel ship.

But since I’m nothing if not thorough, I’m breaking rules of my own today too…  I believe I mentioned (jinxed myself?) in comments the other day that I don’t commit to more than ten thousand words in a day, but my job-source-guy messaged me this morning to say he had an overload of work and could I handle 16K (six question marks)… Ooh, a challenge! (And a fatter paycheck…)  I said yes.  So please forgive the brevity of this ramble (can a “ramble” be brief?)–I have to go write about vehicle wraps and online casinos now.


Posted in Family, Today's File

Looking for YA Reading Recommendations

Christian--my Insatiable Reader!

It occurs to me that I have a marvelous resource here–of readers and writers–so I’m asking for your input! Here’s my challenge: finding suitable reading material for someone who reads at a post-graduate level, but has the interests of a 10-year-old boy.  I’ll be trolling the used bookstores for Christian’s Christmas, and I’d love your suggestions.  His current favorites, as a sampling of his reading-tastes:

  • Belgariad series by David Eddings
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  • Eragon series by Christopher Paolini
  • Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook by Shawn MacKenzie
  • How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell
  • Immortals series by Tamora Pierce
  • Warriors series by Erin Hunter
  • Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan

I’d be interested if you have suggestions at a higher reading level than these (it’s hard to keep the kiddo challenged) that might appeal to him–but truly, the main thing is the part about “appealing to him.” (And this will be double-fun for me… Reading books together is one of our “bonding things,” so I look forward to enjoying your suggestions as well!)

Thanks for your ideas!   ~Kana :)

Posted in Family

A Day of Dragons, with Chocolate Pi

Got Readers?

It’s been a day of Dragons in our household.  Christian’s long-anticipated pre-order of Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance” arrived (as did his invisible Dragon-friend’s pre-order, a book which apparently features small dragons who ride people)… nicely timed with a released update to his favorite DragonVale game on Mom’s iPad, and arrival of the movie “Eragon” from Netflix (at his request–though he still grumbles about details the movie “got wrong”)…

We spent the rainy afternoon cuddled up in a family reading-heap, ate dinner in front of the movie, and finished the evening with chocolate pie!  I must report that there were some suspicious footprints across the pie when I went to cut it–and since Dragon is “slightly larger than a big toe” and has an admitted taste for chocolate, he tops the suspect list.  Can’t prove anything, though, since he’s invisible to everyone but Christian, who’s mum on whether Dragon has a chocolate mustache to match his own…

Christian sporting some signs of Slimey's Dirt Pie

This is the same dessert (labeled in our recipe-file as “Mommy’s chocolate pie”) which my mom always made for my birthday–and Christian suggested today that it should be his birthday-treat as well, since his March 14 birthday is “3.14, which should be Pi Day”…  Today we’ve temporarily rechristened it (in honor of yesterday’s post about his life as a worm) “Slimey’s Dirt Pie.”

Christian DID point out to me that yesterday’s reminiscences about nicknames neglected his original nickname, so I’ve promised remedy the omission.  When I was pregnant with him I didn’t find out what “flavor” I was carrying, and rather than referring generically to “the baby” (or worse, “it“) for nine months, I nick-named him Turtle.  (My mom did the same when she was pregnant with me, which is why I’m still “Sam” to my family…)  It’s ironic, actually, that I left out that name for him, because the Turtle is HIS tattoo on my arm.  (Well, the Dragon tattoo is his as well, but it’s the Turtle that has his name on it.)

A bit of Dragon-trivia to close…  I have it on Authority that dragons smell “like books, or root beer, or sweat, or maple syrup–depending on what they’ve been doing.”  And perhaps, on occasion, like chocolate pie.

turtle tattoo
Christian's Turtle tattoo
Posted in Family

The Mom with the Dragon Tattoo

Christian at age 7. (Dragon being invisible, I take Christian’s word for it that he’s also in the picture.)

My son Christian has had an invisible dragon-friend since he was two years old.  He’s blue (I haven’t puzzled out the contradictory twist of physics by which “blue” and “invisible” can coincide as descriptors) and about the size of a big toe.  A pocket-dragon, you could say–though I’m given to understand that most often he flies around my son’s head during the day.

Before he could verbalize, I used a lot of sign-language with Christian, which he picked up and put to use with a facility that astonished me.  (Clearly he understood what to do with language–he just couldn’t get his mouth to make words yet.)  He invented some signs of his own, including a verb-marker I called his “do-it” sign.  “Do-it book” meant read, “do-it shoes” would be a request for shoelace-assistance, and so on.  At 14 months, his newly invented sign was “Dragon”–I assumed in tribute to his favorite book, The Cowardly Dragon… But perhaps Dragon has been with us from that early date.

When Christian (whom I have always called “Hobbit” for his curly hair) discovered at age three-and-a-half that there was a book called The Hobbit, nothing would do but to read it right away, despite my protests that it’s an un-illustrated “grown-up” book.  “YOU can read it to me,” he declared in his most decisive, debate-ending tone–and I acquiesced, assuming he wouldn’t last for more than a few pages.  As we neared the final chapter, I wrote disbelievingly in my journal:

“Surely a great deal of the language is over his head, but I’ve overheard him relating plot-points and descriptions to grandma, and he’s discussing character motivation as we read…
‘When Invisible Bilbo converses with the dragon, is Smaug only pretending to be polite? Or is he really a nice dragon, and the dwarves were mistaken?’
‘Do you suppose Smaug is flying off to Lake Town to attack the people, or to get a drink?’
(He was quite willing to consider the dragon ‘not wild’–HIS Dragon’s influence, perhaps–at least right up until the dragon began to burn Lake Town. Then: ‘They’d better kill him fast!’)”

(Yes, he was the kind of three-year-old who used words like “mistaken.”)

Dragon’s days have mostly mimicked Christian’s, though always with a twist.  He played Dragon T-ball (in which dragons field more players than kids do), took Dragon Swimming Lessons (where dragons learn wing-strokes, their arms being too small for effective swimming), and is apparently a great reader of Dragon Books (which are necessarily printed on fire-retardant paper).

dragon tattoo
Christian’s Dragon, Mom’s Tattoo

Dragon has been part of our family adventures for years, through the medium of Christian’s story-telling.  There was the time Dragon’s soccer-team got a flat tire on their Dragon Bus and almost missed their game. And the traumatic episode when dragon “ran out of Blue” and had to become a Green Dragon–until it was discovered that he could “check out Blue” from the library and resume his original color.  At least until the books–and the Blue–came due.

Even now, a few months from Junior High Scool, Christian readily answers my inquiries about what Dragon is up to. (Dragon Algebra, in case you wondered.)  The other night when we were figuring out the Chinese Zodiac for each member of the family, he asked me when he had started talking about Dragon, so he could calculate his age. (Dragon was born in the Year of the Sheep, go figure.)

Last year he and I collaborated on a tribute to Dragon: a tattoo twining up my leg.  Christian described him in detail so our artist could get it right (because, duh, Dragon is INVISIBLE to the rest of us) and signed off on the likeness, sketched in Sharpie on my leg, before we broke out the permanent ink.

Some parents have to “break the news” to their kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy, but I’ll always remember Christian, aged four or so… Deep in a discussion of Dragon’s latest escapades, he suddenly paused, looked me seriously in the eye, and gently asked: “Mom, you DO know that Dragon is PRETEND, right?”