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Attending School Once More, Once More

While tomorrow marks the end of week three for my ninth-grader, my seventh and eleventh-graders wrap up their first week. As many parents know, it isn’t only back to school for the kids, but for the parents, too. Decades ago, society determined children should attend school wherever the bus took them, but my little Arizona town thrives on changing societal views. Here, the norm leans toward sending your child to the school best suited to their needs, and we have plenty of schools available. Though I never thought I would choose for my children to attend school outside the bus-zone (i.e. a charter school), I’ve found it to be best for them.

Currently, my children attend two different charter schools. My ninth-grader attends a brick and mortar school that follows the typical pattern of changing classes and making friends in the hallway. My seventh and eleventh-graders attend an online school that offers a classroom with licensed teachers four days a week. They can also work from home. While my eleventh-grader generally attends in the classroom, my seventh grader attends at home where she has access to help from yours truly.

Attending School Once More, Once More.
My seventh grader working on science.

This week, my daughter and I have worked together on Social Studies, math, and English. Of course, English caught my attention.

I remember my seventh-grade English teacher. Some of my friends probably remember her name. She was this tiny, wrinkled woman who always had a piece of nicotine gum stashed in her cheek. Most of my friends attended the high English class and often told stories of stealing the transparency sheets from the overhead projector. Me? I remained in the average class, and remember her squiggling sentences onto transparencies and asking us to place commas and periods in the correct places.

I don’t, however, remember terms like appositive, participle, adjectival phrase, or adverbial phrase. Though I did learn about misplaced modifiers from my mother, who always giggled about the dog sitting at the table. (‘I petted the dog sitting at the table,’ versus, ‘I sat at the table and petted the dog.’)

This week, when I went back to school, I read the lessons to my daughter and discussed various ways to remember each of these terms. We also learned how these phrases often represent more than one construct. For instance, a prepositional phrase, something I learned about my first time through school, can also be an adjectival phrase. Who knew?

Now, when my book comes out next week (What shameless plug? There was no plug. Okay, a little plug.), my daughter and I can dissect the sentences and identify the types of phrases. But I guarantee, we won’t find any misplaced modifiers. Mom should be proud. However, as you can see, I occasionally start sentences with and, but, and so. I even end a few sentences with prepositions—the horror! Maybe my fifth time through seventh grade will cure my bad habits. Not likely. (Was that an adverb? A fragment? What’s an author to do?)

Have you started school again yet? What grades are you in this year?

For Your Pleasure:

I personally enjoy quizzes. So I found a website with plenty of grammar quizzes for you to enjoy; many of them include what I’ve been learning with my daughter this week.

 

Book Review: The Sins of Jubal Cooper

At eight years of age, Will Henry lives during the depression era with his family in a sharecropper’s home located on the outskirts of a small Georgia town. Even the town’s children gossip. But a childhood prank soon shows Will the truth about the goings-on in this southern state.

Mary Lingerfelt

Mary Lingerfelt, the author of several inspirational and Christain-based stories, brings the South during the Great Depression to life in The Sins of Jubal Cooper.  Readers will delve into the life of an eight-year-old so cold he and the other boys rock hobos for coal. This book draws you in from the start and keeps your attention until the end.

About The Sins of Jubal Cooper:

Eight-year-old Will Henry lives in a rickety sharecropper’s shack with his family, and when it gets cold, he and the boys take matters into their own hands by rocking hobos on the train. Hobos don’t like bein’ rocked and retaliate by throwing coal—enough to keep a house warm for a week. This time, however, not everything goes as planned, and Will ends up sentenced to work off his debt to society at Judge Jubal Cooper’s house, The Hill.

Rumors run rampant through this small Georgia town, and Will soon finds himself a victim of the rumor-mill among the youth, just as Judge Cooper is a subject of the rumor-mill among the adults. The difference soon becomes evident though, as Will learns the truth about Jubal Cooper.

This coming of age story deals with the Ku Klux Klan and how the hardships of growing up during the Great Depression affected children.

My thoughts:

Though a work of fiction, this story shows what life in the South during the Great Depression resembled. Lingerfelt captures the voice of an eight-year-old boy perfectly. Readers will enjoy the Southern dialect and speech patterns hidden within each sentence. Unlike some books, it isn’t overdone; it is done well.

The first chapter immediately caught my attention, making reading two books at a time more difficult. I couldn’t put The Sins of Jubal Cooper down! This book deals with hard subjects but does so in a way that is appropriate for most readers. When Will finds himself having to make a difficult decision, some violence occurs, but the author handles the situation with a touch that allows the reader to immerse themselves into the story without experiencing graphic descriptions.

An exceptionally clean read, I recommend this book for middle-school ages on up. The Sins of Jubal Cooper is a story appropriate as supplemental material for educational purposes.

Available:

The Sins of Jubal Cooper is available as an ebook for $.99 on Amazon and is part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

Follow Mary Lingerfelt:
www.marylingerfeltauthor.com
Facebook
Goodreads

 

I received no compensation in exchange for this review.

Turbulent Tubing: A True Story of Nonsensical Courage

The last day at the lake meant six sunburned and tired bodies on a nineteen-foot boat laden with camping gear. Other than swimming in the middle of the lake, an all-time family favorite, the tube remained available for one more ride before heading to the boat ramp.

Down by the Glen Canyon Dam, the crystal clear water called to me. So when Dad asked if anyone wanted to tube, I couldn’t resist. How the others did, I still don’t know.  As I climbed out of the boat and stood on the back platform, I looked at Dad. “Not crazy.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, nice and smooth.” His hands cut through the air with a slow gliding motion, but his suspicious smile left me unsure.

I eyed him. His track record mimicked his smile. “Let Mom drive.”

“No-no, Kam, I got it—nice and smooth.” He nodded, still smiling.

“Don’t bounce me out of the wake.”

“I know, I know. Trust me.” He was not giving up his seat.

The last buckle on my worn ski jacket clicked and I jumped in, the cool water bubbling around me as I resurfaced. I laid back, my hair floating behind me, and took a minute to comb my fingers through the windblown strands before climbing on the tube.  “Dad, easy,” I reminded.

He gave me a thumbs up, and I nodded. Mom held the flag, and as the boat began to glide through the choppy Lake Powell water, she dropped it to her lap.

True to his word, Dad kept the ride comfortable—pleasant. The wind whipped through my wet hair, but not enough for it to sting my face. I bounced along, enjoying my ride. Then, I saw it.

The dreaded tour boat.

Tourists without boats enjoyed riding these ocean-worthy beasts. Able to hold a couple hundred people each, they also had the power to create a wake taller than our boat was long. Without good maneuvering, the wakes could crash over the front of small boats, flooding the floors with an inch or two of water. We called the floods sam-sueys.

I told myself Dad could turn the boat. There was plenty of escape time. But Dad enjoyed tormenting me. I watched as he drove directly into the tour boat’s wake. I froze. My brain commanded my hands to hold on. Fingers clenched the two blue handles. My body secured itself closer to the front of the tube. Don’t let go. The mantra fed my nonsensical courage.

Our boat climbed the wave and fell below the horizon. A mountain of water formed in front of me. I gripped the handles tighter. My body soared through the air, legs and torso dangling several feet away from the water and the tube, but my fingers clung to their mark. An internal argument raged within me. Let go! No, Don’t let go!

I closed my eyes as my breath lingered within my lungs. Sensory input bombarded my body, slowing time. Through my decent, my body rolled back to the tube, arms, torso, legs. I bounced twice before finally landing on the tube, my breath leaving my lungs in a rush.

The boat stopped, and the flag flew into the air. I lay my head on the tube, waiting for the thrumming of my muscles to stop. My arms and legs shook like jelly. My back ached with a newly found tension. The tube started moving toward the boat. Someone was pulling me in. As I neared, I slipped into the water and hung on the boat’s lowered step.

“Dad! A tour boat? I caught air!”

“Sorry Kam, I couldn’t avoid it.” He laughed. I doubted his words. “You did great. Boy, you flew through that air.”

Mom handed me a towel as I slowly climbed out of the water and sank into a shaded seat. “Why didn’t you let go?” she asked.

What answer could I give? Why didn’t I let go? Where had my ridiculous mantra come from? I shrugged, unknowing.

 

Flash Fiction: YouTube Escape

The pace of the car matched the pace of Kara’s racing heart. How did she get into this mess? With another jolting shake of her head, a bobby pin fell to the floor. Now to find it. With arms handcuffed behind her, she twisted her body, and her head curved deeper into the trunk. The phrase ‘needle in a haystack’ entered her mind. Her finger brushed against the edge of the bobby pin, and it slid further away. Dang-it. Willing herself to search more gently, she patted the floor.

Minutes.

Minutes had passed, and Kara had no idea where they were taking her. Not far. Maybe far. The farming community lay only miles away from the city, that’s why smugglers liked it. She knew better than to explore their hideaway, but she couldn’t help herself. There was no question that they’d see the smoke from the fire she’d started. If she were a guy, she’d be dead. Best guess now, she’d be sold.

Her middle finger tightened around the bobby pin. Shallow breaths calmed her shaky hand, ensuring she wouldn’t drop it. Stripping the plastic from the tips with her teeth, she straightened the pin, trying to remember the training she’d received via YouTube. As she worked to place the bobby pin in the latch at the end of the handcuff, the shaking returned, and she fought harder to control her gelatinous fingers. The pain emanating from her head didn’t help.

The bobby pin slid into the opening. Kara pulled. Nothing happened. Don’t hyperventilate. Breathe. She sifted through the muddled thoughts in her mind. Wrong method—that way used a snap barrette. Reaching toward the cuffs with the bobby pin again, she pushed it into the keyhole, the pin telling her when it was on top of the button. She pushed, and the cuff popped open. Kara gasped as she removed the duct tape from her lips.

Scooting toward the trunk door, she searched for the glowing emergency latch. Nothing. Think. Think! Kara rolled to her belly and dug her fingernails into the seam of the carpeting. Where is it? Where is it? Her heart throbbed within her chest, echoing in her ears.

A cable ran under her fingers, and tears cascaded down her cheeks. Please, God. Kara wrapped her hands around the cable and yanked it as hard as she could toward the front of the car. The trunk popped open, and she flung herself toward it, hoping to keep it from getting caught by a gust of wind. Too late.

The trunk flew open, and Kara faced the cold, hard truth. No other cars drove on the road. No immediate rescuer waited outside the trunk. No one would help her.
The car slowed. Kara’s heart rate doubled. ‘Jump. Jump before they stop. Jump.’ Her mind willed her body to move, but her body refused. ‘Jump,’ her mind whispered again.

I can’t.

‘JUMP!’

Kara threw herself from the trunk and forced herself into a roll. She crashed onto the rough pavement, her shoulder and hip crying in agony. Get up! She scrambled to the edge of the road and to her feet.

Run.

Her legs carried her swifter than a roadrunner escaping a coyote. The sound of a bullet, then another, cracked behind her. Run. Zig. Now Zag. Would they follow her? No way to know. Darkness engulfed her, and piercing pain erupted over her body as she stumbled. Cactus. Her motion slowed but never stopped. Ducking around the cholla, she tried to run again.

Needles dug deeper into her skin, but she didn’t dare touch any of the oversized burrs. That would only make it worse. Did Mike call the police yet? Was Mike still alive? Tears streamed down her dirt-coated cheeks as blood spotted her face, and screams burst from her lips. Why did she start that fire? What enticed her to explore that hideaway? Only some kind of stupid would call it an adventure.

Specs of light lit the distant horizon. A road? A house? Kara didn’t know, but she ran faster—screamed louder.

“Help me!”

Nothing.

“Please, help me!”

Silence.

A house. Kara flung her sweat-soaked back against the door, screaming for help. Raising her bloodied hands to the door, she pounded her tender palms against the wood. A coyote howled.

“Someone there?” An older woman’s voice called from beyond the door, colored by a heavy accent.

“P-please help me.”

The door cracked open, and a woman’s heavily wrinkled face shone with concern as she gasped and flung the door wider, leading Kara inside. “Let me get a comb. We’ll get those spines out of you. What’re you doing in the desert at night?”
Kara stumbled into the house. “Escaping … kidnapped.” Her breathing burned her lungs as she blew dust back into the air. “Call the police.”

“Police? Here? You don’t want the police. You want the embassy; this is Mexico.”

“But you’re speaking English.”

“So are you.”

Kara’s shoulders slumped as her head dropped warily toward her swollen hands, only for her to realize they hurt too much to cradle her face. Instead, tears escaped her eyelids freely, eroding the dirt from her cheeks. “Where is it?”

“Not far.”

“Take me now, please.”

“Tomorrow.”

Tremors racked Kara’s body, and she jerked her head back and forth. “Now.”

“Tomorrow will be better.”

“Please, now. I don’t belong here. I want to go home. Please.”

The old woman sighed, “Let’s remove the cactus first.”

Kara nodded, and the old woman eased a comb under each bulbous cactus burr. Blood, from several welts under the burrs, pooled on her skin as the spiny balls lifted from her body one by one.

With the cactus removed and the bleeding stopped, Kara shuffled toward the gate of the Embassy. The old woman had dropped her off and driven away without notice. Guards stood at the gate, their hands sliding toward weapons as they studied her. She stopped. “Please. I’m American. I was kidnapped.”

They peered closer at her. “Name?”

“Kara Matthews.”

“ID?” Their arms stayed at the ready.

She shook her head.

One of the guards disappeared.

Moments later, Kara was ushered into a room and offered a hard plastic chair.

“We need to verify your identity. It shouldn’t take long; someone reported a Kara Matthews missing. How did you get here?”

Stress and agony relaxed as her heart began to slow for the first time in hours. “A YouTube education followed by a prickly situation.”

Never get too close to cholla. It will jump at you before you ever get a chance to touch it.

 

Welcome to Kameo’s Blog!

About Kameo Monson: Author

In the last few days, I’ve set publish dates for my When Love Is Lost to come out as an ebook and a paperback!

Whew! Let me tell you when I started this adventure, I didn’t know what I was doing. I finished writing and figured I’d edit it once or twice, send it to betas who would either love it or hate it and go from there. But with the completion of my second draft, I found myself thrown into my own writer’s baptism by fire. Suddenly, I was learning all kinds of things. Terms like head-hopping and sayings like show don’t tell. Luckily, I’d already learned passive/active voice. That lesson, I learned as a blogger. I learned a new word processing program, met new friends, and realized I’d written something called Women’s Fiction.

I found a fantastic editor, Eanna Roberts, owner of Penmanship Editing, and a talented cover designer, Lara Wynters, owner of Wynter Designs. Betas and friends and my husband have supported this exciting journey.

So what’s left? More fun! I get to cross my T’s and dot my I’s as I make certain everything is ready! You can help me out by following me on social media (see those buttons to the side?) and please sign up for my monthly newsletter! These are the methods I’ll use to communicate with my readers and I hope to entertain you some in the process.

You can look forward to flash fiction only found on the blog, and fun facts included in the newsletter. Don’t forget, my writing career is just starting, which means I hope you will look forward to my next novel: I Not David, A story about finding love while raising a child with Autism.

Pre-order When Love Is Lost on Amazon.

All Pre-ordered ebooks: $1.99
POD paperbacks are still TBA, but I’ll keep you in the know!