Hello! I'm currently writing this very late at night and scheduling it for tomorrow morning, since I have at least one test, on essay, and two Halloween parties to take care of on the 31st. And since I've done my own school, helped my sister with her homework, gone to work, and played on the church's worship team today, don't worry if this post is a bit disjointed. I'm just thanking God that I'm still awake and functioning enough to spell decently.
Technically, I don't celebrate Halloween. I just wear costumes and eat candy on the one day it's socially acceptable to do so. My sister flipped out on me the other night, saying that Halloween is Satan's birthday and that devil worshippers are going to take me in as one of their own. Mom just rolled her eyes and said I was an adult, I can do what I want.
I'm dressing up as Grima, the villain from Book 3 in the Clouds Aflame series (which I just started working on). I needed the vest to be torn up, so I gave it to my dog. I hope she's going to town on it right now. I played tug-of-war with her earlier, and that just gave us a small hole in the back. Which no one will see because of the cloak.
Actually, the history of dressing up for Halloween--or All-Saint's Day, because the Catholic church never knew if they'd canonized everyone who was holy enough to be a saint--goes back to the Middle Ages. I know for a fact that Alynn sticks some tree branches in her hair and pretends to be a deer, much to Lukas's confusion. He decides not to dress up.
I saw a cute comic strip the other day. This isn't it, but it's close enough:
Anyway, the comic strip I saw involved a bunch of kids sharing their Halloween candy while their parents argued in the background about the kids' costumes being racist or offensive or whatnot. And the costumes weren't terrible. One kid was dressed like a Native American. One was dressed like a SWAT team member. Heck, I saw a separate Instagram post about a kid dressed as Donald Trump, and the comments were all arguing about whether or not this kid deserved candy because he dressed up as the President.
There's a couple things to learn from this. One, I need to spend less time on Instagram. Two...they're just costumes. Kids are innocent. They want to dress up like a Native American? Let them. Heck, I was a Native American for Halloween when I was twelve. I didn't pick that costume because I wanted to offend anyone. I just thought Native Americans were cool--and besides, I had a character who's Ojibwa, and she was probably my best friend at that point.
Obviously, don't dress up like a KKK member or something stupid like that. We have the right to get angry over legitimate injustice. But most of this politically correct crap that's going around nowadays? My gosh. The world would be a better place if everyone in it just took a chill pill and made allowance for everyone else's faults. If everyone quit getting offended.
And now I have to go help my sister with more homework. So goodbye for now.
What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and stay safe while you Trick-or-Treat!
In the highest branches of a fictional tree live a whole bunch of gods. One of them is named Thor, and he has a hammer with a long and unpronounceable name that he loves very dearly. Therefore, when Thor wakes up to find that some idiot has stolen his hammer, he is understandably Very Annoyed.
Thor's trickster uncle Loki is in a surprisingly generous mood, and he offers to help Thor find his hammer. So he shapeshifts into a raven and flies away to the Jotun in Jotunheim, which roughly translates to the Giants in Giant-Land. He goes up to the leader of the giants, Thrym, and asks if he's seen Thor's hammer.
"I've seen it," Thrym laughs. "In fact, I'm the one who stole it! It's buried seven miles underground, so don't bother trying to find it. But go on home to the highest branches of the fictional tree and tell everyone that Thor will get his hammer back--but only if I get to marry your goddess Freya."
Loki turns himself back into a raven and flies back to the highest branches of the fictional tree, where he tells everyone what's going on. Freya, understandably, does NOT want to marry this evil giant, and she tells Thor he needs to find another way to get his hammer back.
"Here's a bright idea," says a god with a long and unpronounceable name. "Why don't we put Thor in a dress, send him off to Giant-Land, and have him marry Thrym instead?"
"Here's a bright idea," says Thor. "Let's NOT do that."
The god with a long and unpronounceable name sits back and puts his feet up, waiting for Thor to come up with a better idea. He can't, so it's off to the dress-maker he goes, where he gets the fanciest wedding gown and veil the gods can create. Loki shapeshifts into Thor's maidservant and comes with.
So Thor and Loki go to the Giants in Giant-Land, and Thrym is very happy to see them. He throws a feast for the wedding, at which Thor eats more than a teenage boy at Golden Corral. In fact, he eats a whole ox, eight fish, and Every. Single. Dessert.
"Um," says Thrym, "that's not normal."
"Don't worry about it," says Loki. "Freya's been so excited about marrying you that she hasn't eaten for a whole week."
Thrym finds that behavior very attractive, so much so that he goes to kiss his...er, 'bride.' But Thor starts glaring at him through his veil.
"Does she always stare like that?" Thrym asks.
Loki has to think fast. "Um...she hasn't slept for a few nights, either. Because she's so excited."
This answer also pleases Thrym, who lets his 'bride'-to-be go off and rest before the ceremony. Luckily for Thor, during the ceremony, his hammer is brought out and placed in his lap. Before anyone can say "I do," Thor swings his hammer around--dress, veil, and all--and kills everyone at the wedding feast. Except for Loki, of course. Which he probably should have.
Thor gets out of the wedding dress faster than he's ever gotten his clothes off before, and he goes back to the highest branches of the fictional tree, where he lives happily ever after until Ragnarok, which is a story for another day.
Every once in a while, I'll hop on this website called Quora. Although I was a bit wary of it at first, wondering if it had something to do with Islam, I soon found out that it was an acronym for Question Or Answer.
Anyway, I tend to answer more questions than I ask, and one of my most popular answers was in response to the question, "What are some gaps that homeschoolers have?" I was homeschooled for ten years, and I know several other homeschoolers and ex-homeschoolers, so I felt I was able to answer that question.
Now, if one is homeschooled correctly--at least one parent is highly involved, the curriculum is decent, and the kid spends more time actually studying than messing around on the computer--there are no, or very few, academic gaps. I mentioned this in my Quora answer, using myself as a reference. The main point of my post was that I had no idea what to do on my first date. Most of the comments were kind--"You did a good job," said one. "No one knows what to do on their first date," said another. Unfortunately, the art of talking about one's accomplishments without coming across as bragging is a difficult art indeed--one I have yet to master. And so the haters started pouring in.
"I can't believe he asked you out to begin with," one commenter said. "You're totally bragging," another said. "Try feigning interest in someone besides yourself," said yet another. And then, of course, "It sounds like your social skills are lacking in general."
Oh, for the love of God.!
This leads me to another story--one that just happened yesterday, in fact. My class of sixth- and seventh-graders is normally a bit rowdy. That's to be expected. What I wasn't so thrilled about, however, was when one of the boys started reciting a "roses-are-red" type poem that somehow ended with the technical term for part of the male anatomy. I marched him to the office, dropped him off with a worksheet, and came back to find the rest of the class red, giggling, and asking what that term meant. I explained it to them gently and quietly.
I'd say that takes social skills.
Just because I was homeschooled doesn't mean I was raised under a rock in the garden of a Tibetan monastery, without friends or wi-fi or movies rated anything other than G. Co-op met once a week, church was twice a week, and there were always the neighborhood kids to hang out with. You know what I missed out on? Bullies. Peer pressure. Perverts. School shootings.
I've interacted with dozens of homeschoolers. Some of them, yes, were a bit geeky. But the boys were still boys, playing with Legos and making things explode. The girls still loved playing with dolls and talking to each other. In fact, boys and girls played together a lot--we had a co-ed spy ring at church, and we rarely self-segregated at co-op.
And as for the guy who asked me out? I'm meeting him at Sam's Club tomorrow--it's their grand re-opening after a remodel and they have free cupcakes.
What's your favorite way to socialize? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook
In the highest branches of a fictional tree lives a whole bunch of gods, most of which had long and unpronounceable names, so we're only going to talk about a few of them. First there's Odin. He's the boss of all the rest of the gods. Then there's his brother Loki, who might be adopted. And if he's not, Odin wishes he was. Odin has a son named Thor. Loki also has children, but only one of them is human because he's a shape-shifter. We won't talk about them. They're weird.
Anyway, Thor marries this girl named Sif. Sif is beautiful. She's got really long hair, golden hair, and she's proud of her Really Long Golden Hair. So Loki, being the idiot he is, decides to cut off Sif's Really Long Golden Hair while she sleeps.
Sif wakes up, and Thor wakes up, and they are both Very Annoyed with Loki. Thor says to himself, "Happy wife, happy life," and goes to Loki for a good old-fashioned heart-to-knife chat. But Loki doesn't feel like dying, so he promises that he'll get Sif her Really Long Golden Hair back. In fact, he promises presents for Thor, and for Odin, and for the rest of the gods who have long and confusing names. So Loki goes off to the dwarves--because everyone knows that dwarves are the best craftsmen--and asks them to make stuff for him. The dwarves agree, and soon Loki has a shiny new spear for Odin. He also gets a boat with a long and unpronounceable name to give to a god with a slightly less long and unpronounceable name. The dwarves also make a magic wig for Sif, one that would grow just like her normal hair once she put it on.
Happily, Loki goes on his merry way, and he sees two more dwarves on his way home. "Hey," Loki says, "I bet y'all can't make presents better than these."
"Heck, it'll be easy," the dwarves say, "but what's in it for us?"
"If you prove to be the better smiths," says Loki, "you can have my head."
No one likes Loki, so the dwarves eagerly light up their forge. First they make a golden boar--a golden boar that, somehow, is alive and has magical powers--and, as usual, they give it a long and unpronounceable name and give it to a god with a slightly less long and unpronounceable name. Then, the dwarves make a magic ring that has mastered asexual reproduction and makes eight little ring babies every nine days. This ring is, of course, given a long an unpronounceable name and pledged to Odin, whose name is strangely short and easily pronounceable. Finally, the dwarves start making a hammer. Loki's getting nervous. He really doesn't want to lose his head, so he turns himself into a fly and bites one of the dwarves on the face. He stops plying the bellows at the forge for just a moment, but when the hammer comes out of the fire, its handle is stupidly short and sort of ugly.
Delighted, Loki takes his gifts to the gods and asks them to judge which set of dwarves made the best gifts. Sif really likes her new Really Long Golden Hair, and Odin likes his shiny spear and his magic asexually-reproducing ring, and the other gods like the boat and the boar with long and unpronounceable names. But Thor is really impressed with his hammer. In fact, the short handle is perfect because he can hide it in his tunic. So the dwarves start sharpening their swords--which, doubtless, have long and unpronounceable names--so they can decapitate Loki.
But with a wide grin, Loki says, "Guess what, guys! I never said anything about my neck, so I'm going to live anyway!"
The dwarves, understandably, were Very Annoyed, so they sewed Loki's mouth shut. Loki couldn't talk for several days, and everyone in the highest branches of the fictional tree was happy.
Sorry about not starting a new short story on Monday. I can explain.
So I have approximately three friends. I say 'approximately' because I only ever see one of them outside of church. (Have you ever seen that triangle chart that says "Good grades, enough sleep, and a social life: pick two"? You can guess which two I picked.) Anyway, I had a couple days off work this week, and I decided to get together with my good friend and have a Star Trek marathon.
We built a fort in the upstairs loft and watched 8 episodes. We also walked my dog and cooked dinner together. It was amazing.
I recently saw an Instagram post that said something along the lines of "Americans are so obsessed with romance because they think it's the only love they're allowed to have." And you know, that's kind of true. Outside the love of parents for children and vice versa, both of which are sort of deteriorating in today's culture, any sort of affection is frowned upon.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have irrational likings for various things. Hugs, ice cream, instrumental music, hedgehogs, Latin, leather notebooks, sunsets--and books by C.S. Lewis. I've enjoyed his work since I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I have no intention of stopping. Recently, I read his nonfiction book The Four Loves. Did I understand all of it? No. (I had the same problem with The Abolition of Man, but they're still both worth reading.) But I understood the important bits.
Essentially, Lewis says that there are four types of love--affection (like that of parents for children), friendship, romantic love, and Christian love. Of the four, Christian love, he says, is the most important, because it transforms the other three into something even more beautiful. But of Friendship, Lewis has much to say as well. "To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it," he writes.
Our pastors will preach sermons about why it's important to live in community. I'm the type of person who will readily ignore those sermons. I interact with others. I eat lunch with my mom every day before I go to work. I engage in small talk with people at church and snuggle with my family while watching TV in the evenings. But none of those things help me grow as a person.
Those of you who have read Where the Clouds Catch Fire are familiar with Lukas's backstory. He lived in isolation for thirty-nine years--no friends, no family, and very few encounters with strangers. He had only his animals, his books, and his God. Unfortunately, too many of us live in a similar situation. We live in our own little bubbles with smiley faces painted on, posting pictures of avocado toast on Instagram while ignoring the pile of dirty dishes and the baby crying in the background. We smile and say we're fine, how are you, and keep everyone at an arm's length away. I'm guilty of this too. We need friends to whom we can say, "You know, I'm not alright, and I need someone to talk to about it"--or, even better, "I'm doing great, and I need someone to share my joy."
C.S. Lewis says that friendship "has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival." Perhaps, in a world as depressed as the one we live in, a few good friends could help cheer things up a bit.
Who's your best friend? What's your favorite thing to do with them? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to check us out on Amazon!
Ah, autumn is finally here! I can wear long pants without feeling like I'm dying, I'm able to open my bedroom windows, I can wear my new brown boots with the cool yet pointless buckles on the side...praise God, life is good.
That being said, I'm here to teach you how to properly insult someone.
The art of verbal abuse has a long and glorious history. Some of Shakespeare's insults are legendary--"They have a plentiful lack of wit" is outstanding. Also, as I learned from a book called Encyclopedia of Swearing while researching for an essay on hate speech, the Norse engaged in a game called flyting. Basically, two teams would take turns drinking and insulting their opponents. Whoever was able to produce the best insults while drunk was considered the winner.
Surely you're thinking, "Wait. You're a teacher. Insulting is a form of bullying, you should be completely against insults!" And I am. Mostly. There are very few circumstances in which you should insult someone; most of them are in fiction. But invariably, you will come into a situation in which you will need some sharp words. Normally it's when some fool who doesn't fully understand a situation decides to throw in their misguided two cents' worth.
1. Be careful. When you insult someone, you risk incurring their wrath. If they're prone to violent outbursts, it's best to leave well enough alone. And, almost certainly, the receiving end of your insult will try to fight back. Either have a comeback ready or be ready to surrender. If you're insulting a friend, make sure you know they're teasing. If they aren't taking it as a joke, then stop.
2. The best insults do not use profanity. Remember, whatever you say reflects on you as a person. Insults laden with curse words make you appear common and vulgar. Remember, anyone can swear, but not everyone can make a proper insult.
3. In a similar vein, have some class. "You just pretend to be sick so you don't have to come into work" sounds much better when rephrased as "I do hope your imaginary illness doesn't come back. You must be nearly out of sick days." Best advice, pretend you're British. Look up Blackadder on YouTube; Rowan Atkinson does a wonderful job of insulting pretty much everyone and everything.
4. Call out the other person's inadequacies--especially ones you know exist. Jesting about their appearance, lack of intelligence or social skills, etc. is usually a good idea. "Your incompetence is legendary" works well. If you can't find an inadequacy, just call them annoying. "I'd rather do taxes than continue this conversation" is a good way to make sure no one ever talks to you again. It might earn you an enemy too, so be careful.
5. If your insult is in response to someone else's insult, try to turn their insult back on them. For example, someone commented on my social media post and said that I should practice feigning Interest in someone besides myself. I replied, saying I meant the post and a joke and that they should practice feigning a sense of humor. If you want to end the insult exchange, a simple "I don't argue with (insert final blow here)" while walking away works wonders. For example, "I don't argue with people who don't know the difference between 'your' and 'you're.'"
Well, that's it! What's the best insult you can come up with? Post it in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to check us out on Amazon!
Hey guys, guess what?
I have two science tests and an essay due this week!
Also, it's currently in the 70s outside, which is very nice. My window's open. I got to snuggle with my comforter while reading my Bible this morning. I'm listening to Avicii and Ed Sheeran while writing my essay. Life is good.
But anyway, due to the tests and the essay and all that, I don't have a short story for you today. Hopefully next week.
Where I Stand is now available on Amazon! Even better, it's available on Kindle for $.99 until this Sunday!
Alynn, Lukas, and all your other favorite characters are coming back with a bang! Alynn receives word that her beloved little brother Tarin might still be alive. However, there's a few small problems with her plan to find him. The great Norse parliament of Althing is being held on St. Anne's Cleft, and thanks to it, Alynn can't leave the island. Worse, the bloodthirsty tribe of Darsidia is making its way across the Scottish coast, raiding and kidnapping and getting ever closer to the town Tarin's in.
A local author mentioned that, in Where the Clouds Catch Fire, he wanted to see more relationship development between Alynn and Drostan. Of course he did. I read his book--well, part of it--things got a bit steamy for me. But for those of you readers who like a good old-fashioned courtship, the sort where chivalry is alive and well, you'll enjoy the romantic bit.
There are some new characters, too. Alva is the kind but eccentric woman of cures, credited with saving Drostan's life once. Alynn's best friend is Maggie McKenzie, a Scottish girl with fiery red curls to match her personality. Althing brings with it a host of new faces, like Nokkvi Hrodolfson of Darsidia and Einar Shattersword, a good friend of Lukas's.
Oh, and we can't forget about the inner demons. There's plenty of those, too.
Jen Brown, a lecturer from the University of Iowa read and reviewed Where I Stand, and her feedback was overwhelmingly positive. She reviewed the book, saying, "I really love the care and attention Piazza puts into making the reader feel like they're sitting by the fire in a monastery's refectory, or galloping over the grassy hills to Althing, where you can practically smell the rain and hear the clang of swords. I also deeply appreciate the fact that, for both Alynn and her mother, the scars of the past have present consequences, and a nice amount of the story is devoted to the long, hard healing process after the events of Book 1....Piazza pays off all the conflicts with highly satisfying conclusions. Where I Stand is a good read, a good message, and a good book."
I hope that you enjoy reading Where I Stand just as much as Jen did. You can read it for free if you have a Kindle Unlimited account, or buy it HERE. And there's also a paperback version, which is eligible for Prime shipping.
Once you've read Where I Stand, do me a huge favor and leave a review. Preferably a five-star one, but hey, I'll settle for four. But seriously, I need your help. I'm currently at #34 in the Children's Medieval Fiction Books category, and my goal is to break the top 5.
Thank you so much for your help, and God bless!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.