Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hydra Summer Bash

So, let me be honest.  I was wary of signing with a smaller publishing house. I was ignorant in the purest sense; I had no idea of all of the ways that smaller houses took such amazing care of their writers, the bond that forms, the superior royalties, the greater quality of the works themselves. After spending a day with four absolutely amazing men and learning about the publishing houses that they represented, my mind had been changed.  I've been told, and of course I wholeheartedly and unmovingly disagree, that that is a very difficult thing to do.  At any rate, I left the convention with a renewed sense of passion and a giant stack of books to read.  I spent the next few weeks reading books from these small presses.  Some of them were from the catalog of what became my publisher.  Suddenly, even though my manuscript had already been accepted and I had signed a contract I felt the need to call and withdraw my submission in fear of wasting the publisher's time.  These books are beyond amazing.  I tend to eschew books that have been published in the past twenty years or so.  But I devour these like rainbow rolls at 50 cent sushi night. They are a level of talent and skill and intelligence that I have not found in many modern works.  You may be sitting there thinking, "But K.A., how does that affect me?"  Well, let me tell you.  On July 15th and 16th, Hydra Publications is having a virtual summer bash.  For two days, thirty titles will be available for FREE.  I love books.  The only thing I like better than books is FREE books.  So, I hope that you are as excited about this event as I am.  You can read more on Facebook or at the Hydra website.  Oh, and if you want to be a part of this incredible group (and trust me, you do) please enter the Dark Carnival Fiction Competition.  I am accepting speculative fiction of less than 5000 words, and fifteen finalists will receive a publishing contract.  If that's not the black cat's meow, I don't know what is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Six Most Disappointing Books of All Time

The Six Most Disappointing Books of All Time

6.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – I’ll freely admit that I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series.  I don’t think that they are the life-changing opi that so many people claim, but they are tasty tasty brain candy.  Sweet, substance less, completely pleasurable, and fun to roll around on your tongue.  So, I went out the day the final book in the series was released (not at midnight – I had a newborn) but that day and bought the book and settled in for a good read.  What a disappointment.  I mean, there were sections that I thoroughly enjoyed, and moments of absolute brilliance, but by and large I was disappointed.  I mean, that whole “I dare” conversation  It was terrible!  It was poorly written, emotionless, and very unHarry.  “Yes, I’ve come back from the dead and I’ve brought with me the unbreakable power of – mockery.” What?  Then there’s the endless refrain. Yes, love, love is the answer, love is all you need.  After  pounding this point for thousands of pages there was no big “ah-ha” moment, just the dessicated remains of what was once a horse corpse.   Then, to out Dumbledore in interviews in the weeks after the release struck me as a desperate ploy for publicity.  Which really, she didn’t need.  I mean, have you seen potterheads?  Not that I care that Dumbledore was a homosexual, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, love who you love and all of that. But, if it was important enough for your to announce in a press conference, it should have been important enough to make that fact, and its connotations, clear in your writing. 

5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner – I had so been looking forward to this book.  I had read Faulkner before and had thoroughly enjoyed his works.  I loved the significance of the title.  The next thing I know I am slogging through the special hell that is the first third of this novel, reading each passage over and over in the hopes that this time it will make sense.  They never did. Starting the book with stream of consciousness from the point of view of a mentally retarded man is just not a good idea.  I mean, listen, people with special needs are beautiful people with beautiful minds who are worthy of respect and love and representation in literature. But SOC is hard in any circumstance, and portraying an individual with special needs is difficult to do well, and to begin a novel with hundreds of pages of such is catastrophic.  It brought me to tears.  Then, to add insult to injury, a paper I wrote about this novel got me the only “F” I ever received on any writing assignment ever.  I had read and reread and reread.  I had researched what other people had written about the novel.  I wrote this amazing piece building what I thought was a fairly well-reasoned argument that the primary character was in fact  the author’s representation of a Christ figure.  And she failed me and told me I made no sense.  I have kept the novel.  I keep thinking that someday I will read it again and that years and maturity will give me an insight.  I’m not sure if it will work, though, as every time I see the cover I just start to cry, so I haven’t reread it yet.  In fact, I think I need to move on now. 

4.  Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.  In some translations, the title of this book translates into “Pedophilia is Really Bad and Effects Generations.”  Not really, but it should.  This book received raving reviews, enough so that I thought it might be good, but not enough that I became skeptical, and so I was very hopeful.  Good grief!  Listen, art imitates life and incest and pedophilia do happen and do have tragic, long-reaching results.  So, if done with taste and respect I can understand using them as part of a larger plot (though I highly recommend reading Apex Magazine for the article of “How to Effectively Write About Rape.”  I wish I had an author or a date, but I don’t right now.) but holy moly.  Second verse same as the first for page after page after page until more than anything you begin to become desensitized to the horror.  That is never a good thing.

3. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb – What an awesome premise; what a mixed up, mangled mess. How many different issues can you cram into a book, even one of this length.  Then, with that much backstory, that much lead-up, that many characters you’d think there would be some sort of huge climactic moment.  But, no.  There’s really nobody that you care enough about by that point to have any sort of emotional investment.  It was irritating, because after investing that much time and after being as excited as I was, I felt like I was owed a good ending.  But no, ‘twas not to be. 

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger – This cat was emo before emo was cool.  Yes, pimps get mad when you don’t pay them.  Your ED is not their problem.  Beyond that, first world problems, dude.  I hear this book changed a lot of people’s lives.  I, for one, could not even finish it.

  1. The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Gah! Grrrrrr! Roar!  I find it difficult to even find appropriate words to convey my frustration with this ridiculous excuse for a book.  What a horrible way to end what began as an amazing series with some of the best characters ever created. Where to begin?  Let’s start with how Eddie Dean died. Not that he died, mind you, but how he died.  He died because he was shot while in a gunslinger group hug.  I don’t care how touchy-feely emotional they have become, no gunslinger ever would engage in a group hug without making sure everyone was truly dead.  Double tap, baby.  It would not happen.  Then there’s the deus ex machina.  Simply stating that you are not a good writer and that that particular gimmick has been a favorite of sub-par writers throughout all of time does not make the level to which it was taken acceptable.  It doesn’t.  Then there’s Dandelo and the resulting kid with the eraser.  Really?  The biggest baddest villain of a multiverse is taken down by an eraser and a character introduced in the last 300 pages?  Pathetic.  Horrible.  Argh.

So, those are my picks.  What are yours?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cover Reveal

I have been lucky and blessed enough to be signed by Hydra Publications.  This is the fulfillment of a dream that I have had since I was a very young girl, and an incredibly humbling experience as I join some of the most amazing authors I have ever had the opportunity to read.  Truly.  I bought books from every publishing house that I was considering, and chose Hydra in part because holy wow, these cats are amazing.  On July 25th, at Fandom Fest in Louisville, my novel will be joining the ranks.  I am giddy, girlishly, jumping up and down thrilled!

Hunter the Horrible is a middle grade fiction piece about a group of misfits who become convinced that their teacher is, in fact, a vampire.  Hilarious mishaps about as they try to prove it, and the story ends with the surprising truth and an epic battle to the death.  You can find out more about it, play some games, and read an excerpt here. But, for now, I have something I've gotta show you.

You see, contrary to the belief held by my four small children, I am not an artist. I'm not sure how they became convinced that I am, but I actually got asked last week to draw a snake who was a knight riding a battle skunk.  I love art.  I admire artists.  While working on this project I had the wondeful opporuntity to work with the incredibly artistic if not a little twisted mind of Gary McCluskey.  He listened to my input, read an excerpt, and created the cover below.  I love it, and I hope that you do as well!   

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cover Reveal Party Day Two

Yesterday the lovely Marian Allen, author of the Sage series (which, by the way, is my current brainworm. You know, when passages from a book get stuck in your head and force you to repeat, examine, and ponder them? Yeah, one of those. So yummy.) and all around fabulous woman, was kind enough to participate in my cover reveal party. In her post, she questioned the identity of the “real K.A. DaVur.” I can’t blame her. After all, these are the two pictures I sent her.

She referred to them as “charming” and “ghoulish.” I think of them as “cons” and “literary festival” or “look I straightened my hair” and “I wuves make-up,” known together as the “avoiding laundry” line. The thing is, neither of these is the “real” K.A. DaVur. Do you wanna know the true identity of the woman behind the curtain? The nefarious mind behind the soon to be released Hausman Guild series, kicking off with “Hunter the Horrible?” Okay. Can you keep a secret? I mean, we are all friends here, right? The real K.A. DaVur is. . . This.

This is me. Okay. Obviously it’s not me now, though that poor little awkward thing will always be in here. But still, that’s me on the day of my very first big writing award. I’d written a charming little poem about a river and that poem had been chosen for the “Literature Ambassador” award. It was a huge deal. I mean, it all took place in the big city about an hour and a half away from my hometown. In this giant, enormous, incredibly fancy hotel with chandeliers and doormen and things that to a ten year old farm kid are astounding. I’m not going to lie, I still get caught in the sparkles as a erherm-year old farm woman. My Aunt Sandi, who I thought then and still think is one of the most gorgeous people I’ve ever met (I kept her framed Senior picture on my wall and would spend hours trying to mimic here pose, her cute little smile) was kind enough to drag me around the mall, trying to find an outfit that would fit my little cannonball frame. She talked me out of the herringbone leggings with the lace around the ankle, for which I still haven’t thanked her enough, and steered me towards this. She even got me the matching silk hair poufy. My Daddy took the day off of work and went with me, in a suit coat, which he hates, and it was a really really lovely time. Then, I walked out of the room where we had heard some really great speakers and eaten this amazing meal served in courses (holy cow, right) and there she was. Lois Lowry. THE Lois Lowry. (P.S. That is not she in the picture.  The woman in the picture is a writer by the name of Byrd Baylor, who was also quite lovely.)  And I nearly died. She was very kind, signed a book for me that I still have, and encouraged me when I told her that I wanted to be a writer like her. It was an utterly amazing day.
So, fast forward a coupleish decades and I’m in another hotel in another painstakingly assembled outfit, feeling every bit as nervous as I was that first time. I’m clutching a leather folio in my sweaty little paws and shaking all over because I’m going to meet Real. Live. Publishers. You know, those gods who sit behind a desk and respond to that tiny bit of soul with a - very kind - rejection? Them. I’m going to meet them. And I’m going to talk to them. Oh, and I’m going to meet some real live authors who have done what I desperately want to do and maybe they’ll sign a book for me and ohmygoodnessgraciousgoshalmighty. So, I did. I talked to them. I did really well. It was one of those magical moments where you hear the baseball hit the sweet spot. They don’t happen often, but when they do they’re really nice aren’t they? So now I’m doing all of those incredible things like edits and cover design and I’m working hard to be this enigmatic yet charming figure. And I’m arranging signings where I’m going to sign my very own book for little awkward hopeful kids like me. So, the gothic, vampire-loving, slightly punk, enigma? That’s me. The uber-professional “I will bring great value to your literary festival” educator? That’s me, too. But mostly, I’m that wide-eyed, hopeful yet terrified little girl who desperately, fiercely, more than anything wants to be a real live author someday.
Today, Tony Acree has joined in the cover reveal funness. Tony is the author of “The Hand of God,” and while he has never been anything but kind, he is also responsible for several instances of me just wanting to take my ball and go home. Because, dude, he’s good. Like, really good. Like, I shouldn’t be sitting at the same table with this guy someone must have made a mistake good. You should check him out.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cover Reveal Party- Day One : Falling in Love

Do you know what it’s like to fall in love?  Your heart races and you feel a tickle in your tummy.  You can somehow exist without food or sleep.  Your senses seem heightened and you can move at superhuman speeds.  For writers, at least for this writer, the sensation is much the same when we get an idea for a new story.  It’s a rush.  It’s a high.  We want to spend all of our time with this new infatuation.  I did not feel that drunken infatuation with my upcoming novel, “Hunter the Horrible.”  In fact, at first this idea was a purely academic notion. 
I had been visiting various middle schools to teach creative writing workshops.  I noticed that children this age were every bit as vampire crazy as their teen aged or adult counterparts, but they had no age appropriate vampire materials.  So, there were eleven year olds reading the glittery vampire series or watching cable television series.  They were playing incredibly gory video games.  And I said to myself “Hello, Self.  It seems that an age appropriate vampire novel would be a really good idea.”  I then began to ponder.  How would children routinely encounter vampires?  Well, if their parents or teachers were actually vampires that would work.  However, we can’t write books about children killing teachers and parents, even if they are horrible bloodsucking beasts of the night.  So, my twist was developed.  With this plot “rollercoaster” in place (Inciting incident-Rising Action- Climax- Resolution) I started to outline.  I thought it was a good idea.  I thought it was a marketable idea.  Still, I wasn’t in love.  No rush. 
I spent time with this idea for a year, and in that year we became close friends.  You know, the kind of friends who know everything about each other and can sit in silence together without feeling uncomfortable.  Then, it happened.  I was talking with my husband, and hashing out a particular scene.  Our heroes, all six of them, are in a graveyard and vampires are attacking.  One of the children, a computer game obsessed young man with Asperger’s Syndrome (read more about Matt and how he helped me here), has become frozen.  He is panicked.  These creatures are so outside of what is logical and expected that they simply must not be.  As they approach with their shuffling, birdlike gait, he can do nothing but sit rooted in place and chant “not real not real NOT REAL.”  You know who comes to the rescue?  Peyton, the class clown.  Until that moment, Peyton’s character is really just fluff.  He is comic relief.  He is goofy.  He is the foil to Jack’s nervousness.  Here is when we see him for what he really is – a goofball chock full of guts and heart.  He goes charging forward with the same wholehearted enthusiasm with which he charges into anything, determined to save his friend.  And he does.  And that’s when I felt it.  I felt a tickle in my tummy.  And I looked at this adorkable raggle-taggle group of misfits and I grinned and my eyes teared up a bit.  I realized, kinda like that moment that you realize your best friend really isn’t, that my true love had been there all along.  My dearest hope is that all of you will love it, too.

For more Cover Week Fun: Please visit today's post at

Friday, June 7, 2013

Geek of the Week - Themed Meals

Geek of the Week

Huzzah!  After a month long hiatus whilst I attempted A Story a Day in May, Geek of the Week has returned!  We really, really love food here in DaVurLand.  Most of my children have fairly developed palates, though one of them does have an unfortunate tendency to raise his eyebrows questioningly as he declares, “that is too crazy for me.  I am not eating that.”  (P.S. Yes, he is.  Somehow he feels the need to have the fight that he knows by now he will never, ever win.  Truly, unless I’m serving haggis or mountain oysters or the time I roasted a whole pig’s head, you are eating what’s on your plate.  But I digress).  Every now and then, we do something wild and crazy and fun and centered around food.  I have considered feeding them after midnight to see what would happen, but chickened out.  I do have the most hilarious series of pictures after green eggs and ham.  The last one shows my son actually crawling over the back of his chair to escape the alienesque mess.  He did not like them, Sam I Am.  We have had, however, four amazing successes. 
The first was a Hobbit brunch.  This meal was served quite late as is befitting of a brunch, and, befitting of a Hobbit meal, the servings were ample to say the least.  Everything was served on large platters, and items included home made sausages, hard boiled eggs, lemon curd, marmalade, cheese, and fruits.  Before we ate, we acted out Samois’ “Troll Poem,” which the children enjoyed because it involved lots of fun sounds and something getting kicked in the backside. We took turns being Hobbits and Dwarves as a way to teach manners.  It was fabulous.
We have also felt a little eleven o’clockish.  At ten ‘til eleven, we had biscuits with honey and read poems by A.A. Milne.  My favorite is “The Tale of Alexander Beetle.”  Afterwords, we went down to our creek and played “Poohsticks.”  This was especially precious, as my not quite two year old is very blonde, and very fat with this adorable potbelly and very little neck.  He is jolly and stomps around as he walks and if you ask him his name will say, “I da Pooh Beah.”  It made for a great day.
Next, we went to Narnia to have breakfast in the house of Tumnus the Faun.  This is best done on a cold wintry day around a fireplace.  I made tea and hot cocoa, bread with jam, and cakes and, of course, sardines.  The sardines were a bit of a problem, eliciting howls of indignation, but gave us the opportunity to give a treat to our cats who, like all cats since the fall of Ginger, are not Talking Animals. One of them I’m pretty sure is in fact the devil and perhaps some time I will regale you with tales of the love/hate relationship between this vile beast and myself.  At any rate, we snuggled in blankets and I played my flute and it was absolutely lovely. 
No themed meal would be complete without a mad tea party.  I have thrown two.  They were both met with. .. dubious levels of success.  You see, during the mad tea party that we had at home, I would yell, “CLEAN CUP MOVE DOWN!” and we would get up and run around the table.  Unfortunately, I neglected to remember three simple things.  First, my oldest son is autistic and changes bother him sometimes.  Like, oh, say, someone sitting in his seat to eat.  Secondly, my blonde preschooler is the clumsiest child ever born to man.  To the point where I had his legs, ears, and eyesight checked.  There is nothing wrong, he is just clumsy, and now I pack arnica, antibacterial ointment and bandaids wherever we go.  Also, my daughter is in canes and leg braces full time.  She gets around amazingly well, but rushing around a table in a relatively small space was just more than we could safely handle.  So, we didn’t do that one again.  Maybe someday.  There’s madness and there’s masochism after all.  The second time was for our Ladies’ Tea at church.  When asked to host a table, a Mad Tea Party seemed to me to be the obvious choice.  That just goes to show that obvious is a relative term.  I walked in with bud vases each filled with a white silk rose that had been dipped in red paint.  I had napkin rings made of playing cards.  In the middle was the torso of a mannequin that I had dressed as the Mad Hatter himself and was acting as our Host.  This sat in a room absolutely surrounded by doilies and fresh flowers and antique china.  Everyone was very kind and complimentary, but I felt like a dolt.  Felt a bit. . .well. .. mad. 
I think that we, as a society, have forgotten how to play with our kids.  I try very hard to engage with my children often, to play, to roll around of the floor and swordfight and all of that.  But, of course, I do it Geek style. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Response to Mark Jeffries

Abercrombie and Fitch or, more precisely its CEO Mark Jefferies has come under quite a lot of fire lately for comments made regarding overweight or obese clientele and employees. I’m not the first blogger to respond to said comments.  In fact, I’m kind of late on the train.  I debated writing anything at all for quite a while for a very simple reason; I try not to blog about political/societal issues.  I deal with that a lot in my “real life.”  When I write, when I become K.A. DaVur, I don’t want to deal with those issues.  I want to live in made up worlds helping made up people face made up problems.  I want to put on fun make up and clothes and have a good time.  If I can teach some good lessons to kids along the way, all the better.  But really, I’m just generally not interested in my two words becoming quite so enmeshed.  This issue keeps tickling the back of my mind, though.  I keep feeling the need that this is something I need to say.  So, I will.  What I have to say, what keeps pounding away as a refrain inside my subconscious is this: shame on Mark Jefferies us. 
Abercrombie and Fitch is a shamelessly elitist company that panders to all things shallow and wrong; vanity, consumerism, and hyper sexuality to name a few.  But then, we knew this, didn’t we?  Abercrombie and Fitch T-Shirts currently cost an average of $30 online.  The average annual wage is currently $26,364.  That means a T-Shirt costs the average person 5.9% of their weekly GROSS paycheck.  But people who can afford to pay so much for a piece of thin cotton, and even people who cannot afford it, are doing so because somehow to do so makes you “cool.”  The exclusivist mindset works.  Overpaying to wear someone else’s name on your person is somehow desirable.  So, shame on Mark Jefferies us. 
That’s just what is on the surface.  Dig a little deeper and there’s more. We can’t forget Abercrombie and Fitch’s hypersexual marketing campaign geared towards minors through their store Abercrombie.  In 2002, Abercrombie unveiled a line of thongs for the prepubescent young women who would be shopping in their store.  If that wasn’t horrifying enough, the underclothing was emblazoned with such items as cherries and such phrases as “wink wink” and “eye candy.”  Years later, they released their “Jailbait” line of clothing.  Additionally, have you ever tried to complain to Abercrombie and Fitch about the obviously underage mostly naked models they have making out in their giant posters in their stores?  Because I have.  When I could actually see the crease where the shaft of the penis began in a window display across the walk from a stuffed animal store, I complained to management.  They were obviously, condescendingly unconcerned.  The internet is peppered with numerous such stories, to the point that I think we can all assume that there is some tacit, if not meticulously explained, company policy of not dealing with such complaints.  Yet, there are such stores in every mall, and the photos are not becoming less racy.  Somehow, this is allowed.  Somehow, this sells.  So shame on Mark Jeffries us. 
But wait, there’s more!  In 2005, Abercrombie and Fitch settled a lawsuit to the tune of more than $50 million to Hispanic, Asian and African American employees who were able to substantiate claims that they were not allowed as part of the sales team, but were instead relegated to stock rooms.  That’s right; if your skin was pigmented brown as opposed to airbrush tan brown, you were not allowed to be a visible part of the Abercrombie team.  That has apparently changed, as there currently an ethnic model on their website, but the fact that they were taken to court by hundreds of employees and chose to settle is incredibly telling.  However, the racism doesn’t stop there.  Hollister, offspring child of Abercrombie and Fitch, sent some models to South Korea as part of a promotional event.  Tweets sent by the models included the representatives squinting their eyes and writing phonetic mockeries of Asian accents. Of course, what do you expect from a company who thought T-shirts featuring caricaturized Chinese individuals with such catchy slogans as “Rick Shaw’s Hoagies” or “Wang’s Laundry Services?”   Yet, Abercrombie refers to itself as “Authentic American Apparel.”  What does that say?  What does that imply?  Shame on Mark Jefferies us. 
So, we have a company that has shown itself to be sizeist, sexist, elitist, and racist, not to mention well, pervy and gross.  If an individual acted as such he or she would be universally panned and disdained, and rightfully so.  Yet, this company continues to thrive.  Speaking of gross, do you want to know what Abercrombie and Fitch grossed last year?  $2.81 Billion dollars.  Two. Point. Eight. Billion. Freaking. Dollars.  Do you know what that means?  That it’s okay to be racist, sizeist, sexist, elitist, and to promote inappropriate underage sexual activity while forcing parents to either avoid the mall or expose their children to inappropriate images, as long as you are cool.  Those sorts of numbers mean that we, as a society, have bought into it.  That shows that we support that mindset.  Not only do we think its okay, but it is somehow desirable.  So for shame.  Shame on Mark Jeffries us. 

How Matt Kau Helped Me Remember

Years ago, sometimes it seems in another life, I knew things.  I was freshly out of college, newly wed,

and had a job that I loved working with children and adults with severe cognitive impairments and

developmental delays.  I was bursting with ideas and enthusiasm.  I was passionate about my job. 

I was confident (I sometimes cringe when I remember how confident) in my knowledge.  I knew,

for example, that some of the primary dangers to the special needs population are stagnation and

compartmentalization. I knew that these amazing individuals were so much more than their disabilities. 

I knew that in many cases they could be extraordinary because of them, not in spite of them.  I knew

that I had been created by God to work with this population for the rest of my life.  Oh, the things I


Then I had “Dr. D.”  A little over a year ago, after two and a half years of therapy, testing, IEPs, and

whatnot, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  We are still in the process of learning

more and narrowing the diagnosis, but his particular disorder is very similar to Asperger’s Syndrome. 

I still remember the very instant that everything I knew disappeared.  We had been planning a family

outing for months.  We had been preparing him daily, and he seemed excited.  He handled the initial

entrance into the unfamiliar surroundings very well.  Yet, here we were after having had to carry our

screaming, rocking, completely freaked out son out of what should have been a great time for him. 

As I sat there, my face hidden so that they wouldn’t see me cry, I forgot everything.  It’s really quite

natural, because as amazing and wonderful and fabulous and LOVED people with autism are, they are

also exhausting.  I’ve heard it all.  “It could be so much worse.”  “You should be grateful for what you

have.”  “He will be just fine.”  Yes And yes. And yes.  It’s hard to remember those things when knocking

over a plastic dinosaur can run an entire day.  It’s hard to focus on the positives when you are rocking

70lbs of heartbreak because he just wants “to have friends like everyone else,” and can’t understand

why he doesn’t or when “the angries won’t let me out of my head.”   It’s hard to keep your chin up

when homework takes 4 hours.  Pollyanna is nowhere to be found when you work for two years to

teach him to not lose control at the texture of mud, then the local preschool kicks you off a public

playground because he is muddy.  So, there’s the ugly truth.  Somewhere in the midst of the therapies,

the tantrums, the diets, the disappointment, I became just as narrowly focused as the parents who used

to so frustrate me.

Enter Matt Kau.

Matt Kau is one of the main characters in my children’s novel “Hunter the Horrible,” soon to be released

by Hydra Publications.  No, that’s not correct.  He is not just a main character, he is a hero.  Matt did not

start out autistic.  In fact, my notes simply refer to him as “slightly overweight, glasses, exceptionally

intelligent, socially awkward video game obsessed.”  As I wrote, however, I learned that there was so

much more to this young man.  He knew, for example, that simply spouting off facts alienated him

from his classmates.  But they were the facts, and he simply could not NOT say them.  He lived, ate, and

breathed a certain video game. it consumed him.  This was not just a hobby; it was a fixation like those

that so often come along with autism.  When vampires swarm his gown, he is frozen.  After all, such

creatures simply cannot be real.  So, he has autism.  But you know what?  There’s a whole other side to

him.  He is fiercely loyal to those who show him kindness, ready to face punishment he doesn’t deserve

and move well outside his comfort zone to defend, and befriend, them.  He has a memory like a steel

trap, which allows him to see and remember things that others don’t.  Important things.  When others’

shenanigans have left them trapped in their houses and grounded for life, he translates the skills he

gained through his video game fixation into a real life solution.  He saves the day.  As I wrote this story,

I grew to really love this kid.  I cried with him when he was hurt, and cursed the snotty little blonde who

was mean to him.  I ground my teeth in frustration and cheers as he overcame his barriers over and over

again.  As I did so, slowly the things I knew came back.  I was able to grieve for my son, but to also see,

truly see, all of the hope that exists. I had an "a-ha" moment that helped me with my spiritual life, which had

 been suffering greatly.  I was able to see all the GOOD that lay before him.  I was able to

see how his disability will help him and I was able to see how much more than his disability he is.  One

I remembered all of those wonderful things I used to know, I became ready to be my son’s hero.  More

than that, I became ready to help him, and then let go of him, so that he can be the hero that he is

meant to be.

6 Words that Ought not Exist

Words that Ought to be removed from the English language
I love words. I love the way they look on a page. I love the way handwritten notes make you feel. I love the smell of old ink on old paper. I love the way they sound. I think that fact has saved our marriage. I’ve often told my husband that I could listen to him read the phonebook and be perfectly happy. That works well, as when expounding on a topic that my husband finds interested, he can talk for hours with nary a breath. I love the way they feel in my mouth. Have you ever paid attention to the way words feel? They way your tongue buzzes and your lips move? It’s fascinating. All of that notwithstanding, there are some words that I strongly feel ought not exist. I have included a partial list below; I hope you enjoy.
1. Irregardless - This is easily number one. I despise this word, and while I don’t find myself to be a fickle or judgmental person repeat offenses to often lead to a bit of rancor on my part. Perhaps I’m putting that lightly. You know the scene at the end of “Disney’s Tangled” wherein Mother Gother shrivels and screams, tugging at her cloak? That’s me when I hear that word. Without the mercy of death at the end.
2. Literally - This word would strike me as merely mediocre, were it not for human error. It does have the pleasant, tongue tickling l-t-l combination, after all. However, pesky humans repeatedly using this word to describe emotions and situations that are patently NOT literal have insured its position as number two on this list. It figuratively makes steam come out of my ears. It literally sets my teeth on edge. In either case, it needs to go.
3. Seriously - again, I blame people. Specifically, I blame “Grey’s Anatomy.” The popularity of this word has reduced generations whose debate skills had already grown questionable to carrying on entire conversations by simply repeating this world with various inflections. Seriously? You all sound like a 1980’s mockery of valley girls. Seriously? Seriously. It needs to be banned. Seriously.
4. Environment - Okay, I’ll admit to a bit of a personal vendetta here. It’s not that I don’t like the environment. I do. However, some time about fourth grade I discovered that there was an “r” in this word somewhere, and that fact has burned itself into my memory. However, I cannot for the life of me remember precisely where the “r” belongs. This results in both verbal and written hiccups as I attempt to properly spell/say this word. Sadly, my brain is Teflon in regards to this fact. So, let’s just get rid of it, okay?
5. Got- This word is just unpleasant. It doesn’t look attractive, either written in longhand or typed. It doesn’t sound pleasant. Try saying it out loud. It sounds like you are having some unfortunate bodily function. Beyond that, it lends itself to so much unfortunate usage. “He’s got to do something.” “You’ve got to take care of this.” “I got one the other day.” Yuck. Gross. Then, you add in more human error and it become “gots,” For example, “I gots to take a shower later.” “Do you gots any juice?” It is beyond help, I’m afraid. Do not resuscitate.
6. Fart - Speaking of unfortunate bodily functions, when did it become acceptable to use words such as this atrocity in polite company? It’s especially ugly coming out of the mouths of children. I don’t feel like this particular act needs a word at all. Or explanation. Or comment. Ever. Even if a case could be made, however, what an ugly, horrible, tacky word. Tacky. Its elimination would certainly freshen the air.
So, what do you think? Do you have your own list? What are your verbal or written pet peeves? I’d love to hear from you.