Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Excerpt from Daughter of Helaman




I planned to do this Monday morning. And here it is practically Wednesday. See, the thing is, I am terribly one track minded to the exclusion of everything else. Just ask my family.
Case in point:
Last night at the dinner table Kammi said, "Dad, you're a great dad because you tickle us. Mom doesn't pay attention to us—just writes her book."
Now, before you start crying for my kids, I have to tell you that Kammi is a liar. It's true. She tells a lot of whoppers. And I don't think she intended the comment to be derogatory. I'm pretty sure she likes her independence.
I have to admit it hit a little close to home or tugged on the heartstrings…not really sure of the right cliché there. I work my tail off for those kids and I do not have a lot of expendable energy for dragging out the paints and creating a mess on the kitchen table, which is what she believes is quality time, and is what I believe should be done at Grandma's house where it belongs. I also do not have a lot of patience for watching cartoons or playing games that say "For ages 4-8" on the box.
What I do have an extreme amount of patience for is crossing t's and dotting i's. Literally. I love making up people and making them do what I want. I do not like making real people do what I want. I do not care about making real people do what I want. Real people should do what they want.
And since I told you that sad story about the dinner conversation over at the Moncurs, I should bring balance to the force by telling you that Kammi doesn't resent my parenting style—if imitation has anything to say about that (again with the clichés).
Case in point:
Kammi is writing her own book. She has a little file in Word that she brings up herself daily and types into. What she is typing is anyone's guess. Even hers.
"Mom, what do I do if some other kid publishes this before I do?"
"You mean if someone steals your story?"
"Yeah, if some kids gets it and gives it to a grown up and publishes it."
"You're asking me what to do if someone plagiarizes that?" I gesture to her screen filled with letters and spaces, but sadly, no discernable words.
"Mmm-hmm."
"Honey, I really don't think you have to worry about that. It would be a lot of work for someone to steal your work and publish it before you could."
"Okay. But Mom?"
"Hmm?"
She looks sadly back at her screen. "This doesn't make any sense!"
That's because you can't read or write. "It takes a lot of practice to make it make sense, babe. Just keep practicing."
And, well, so.
Here is the first excerpt from Daughter of Helaman. More to come next Monday. Look for it…Wednesday.


I watched as he taught his trainees about the different types of weapons they would learn to use here in the training ground. They were all very young and so excited it made me smile. Their attention wandered and they started to get restless, so Eli sent them on a run around the perimeter of the field, taking a moment to point out the direction they should go. They whooped and rushed to do as he instructed, racing each other as they went.
After they left, he bent to gather the weapons he'd used for his demonstration and glanced in my direction. As he worked, he continued to glance at me now and then from the corner of his eye and soon he was looking with increased interest, hands on hips, frowning slightly to himself.
I didn't dare move. I wanted to duck down farther into the vegetation, but just in case he hadn't already seen me for sure, I didn't want to take the chance that he'd notice the movement. I lay as still as I could, breathed lightly, and let my eyelids drift almost closed so no sunlight would reflect off of them.
Presently, when Darius and the other trainees returned from their run, Eli turned away from me, but only for a moment. He pointed to a large group of older boys who were sparring in the center of the field with double-edged swords they had hewn themselves from the felled trees in the clearing—I'd watched them do it yesterday. The boys were as eager as I was to watch the sparring and they ran again to do as Eli told them. Then he started walking toward me.
He had covered half the distance between us and I had just decided to jump up and dart away when Kenai, who appeared suddenly, intersected him.
"Eli!" greeted Kenai cheerfully.
"Hello, Kenai," returned Eli with the heart-stopping smile Cana and Leda had been giggling about yesterday, and he clasped my brother's arm in friendship.
"Are you leaving?" asked Kenai.
Eli looked in my direction one last time, but turned to face Kenai. "No. I thought I saw a young boy. There in that thicket of trees."
I did not look like a boy!
Eli gestured toward me, and when Kenai looked my way, we locked eyes.

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