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One thing I obsess about too much is originality.  I like to be original, to know that the things I say are my own and not stolen from some movie or comedian’s shtick.  I like to think that the concepts that I write about are from my mind, instead of lifted from the last book I read.

This is strange, since I often do just that.

Most people would say there’s a difference between something inspiring you and you copying something.  There are also two different ways to copy something– to copy it intentionally, and to copy it unintentionally.  For the latter, let’s say you read a book a year ago and then two months later got a story idea, which you wrote out into a full-length novel.  A year later, you reread that book and find that a lot of things from that story of yours were copied from that other book.  They were small things, but they were there. (more…)

On the Importance of Humor In Writing

Humor in books– especially children and teen books– is crucial.  It is the most important thing you could ever have– barring a plot, literacy, a minimum of one character and possibly a functioning mind.  But you can get by without most of those– you cannot get by without humor.

Kids see things as funny.  They see the world as funny.  They have a knack for pointing out the ridiculous and the silly.  There is no greater comedian than the child.  They don’t understand why something should be structured– so they do whatever, whenever.  They don’t understand what exactly the point of a conversation on one particular topic is– so they spout out whatever pops into their heads.  This is the basis of randomness.

Barry Cunningham, editor for Cornelia Funke, Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, former editor of JK Rowling, and founder of the Chicken House publishing company, put it the best way in an interview:

“I think humour is so important in children’s books and you find children laughing when they are scared and crying when they are happy. And I cannot think that there is anything in life which is not essentially humorous. Life and death and everything else. That is the central portion of the child in me. I absolutely believe everything comes as part of something else. Like everything serious is funny as well, everything sad is funny as well, everything scary is funny as well.”

“Humor is so important in children’s books…”  So why are there so many dry, boring children’s books?  The reason I like Rick Riordan, Obert Skye, Matt Myklusch, Brandon Mull and John Flanagan so much is because of their humor levels.  Chris D’Lacey, Cornelia Funke, Christopher Paolini, and Gordon and Williams all attempt humor– but don’t always make it quite there.  I still like them because of their creativity, but they aren’t naturally funny writers. (more…)

What’s With the Dysfunctional Families?

This is an enormous trend in all of literature: horrible families, environments, etc.  The protagonist grows up in a terrible environment as the setup, then goes on to do lots of cool things through the rest of the book.

Why is this so popular?

You see it in so many books.  Oliver Twist (Dickens).  Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo (Obert Skye).  The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan).  The Thief Lord (Cornelia Funke).  The Accidental Hero– also called Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation (Matt Myklusch).  Ranger’s Apprentice: Ruins of Gorlan (John Flanagan).  Harry Potter (JK Rowling).  Tunnels (Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams).  Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket).  All these people…  Oliver, Leven, Percy, Prosper and Bo, Jack, Will, Harry, another Will; Violet, Klaus and Sunny…  They all come from these harsh environments where the parents (if any) are dictators, the neighbors exploit and bully, and the school ignores and tramples.  (It’s amazing how many of the books above utilize standardized tests as the way to show the schools’ indifference, but that’s beside the point.)

This could be called a cliche in a certain light.  So why do writers keep doing this?

First reason: because it’s worked for others.  The root of all cliches.

Second reason: because it’s extremely hard to write a character living a spectacular life and doing fantastic things and having fantastic adventures when they have a loving family sitting at home bawling their eyes out.  I know, because I’ve tried.  Phoenix took a six-month hiatus from her family, and at every turn was trying to get back home.  It was so hard to get her to do anything while keeping her in character.  She had a nice family, too– I made sure of it. (more…)

Low Self-Esteem and How to Conquer It

You’d think that reading good books often is inadvisable to young writers because their self-esteem will be crushed, palpitated, then thrown off a cliff for good measure.  For some odd reason, this is not the case.

For young people particularly I can’t think of any better aid to developing your writing skills than by studying how others have done it.  — Chris D’Lacey

Read a lot.  — Christopher Paolini

The best writers are voracious readers.  — Rick Riordan

There are a few quotes from three of my favorite authors.  Notice anything about them?  Yeah, they all say the same basic thing:  Read if you want to write well.  Why do they say this?  Because people get better at what they do if they watch the experts do it first.  Perhaps this is only a bit of self-promotion by these authors, but I think it’s genuine advice.  All of the writers we love, all the writers we admire, they all began simply: they read stuff they liked.  Eventually they began to write, and what we see in bookstores today is what they wished they could have had to read as kids.  I’m serious.  If you don’t write what you’d like to read, you will neither like writing it nor will anyone like reading it.  If you’re enthusiastic, it shows.

But I digress so massively I’m surprised the floor hasn’t begun to slope.

A month ago, whenever I read a good book, part of me would be thrilled (the reader part) and part would be depressed (the writer part).  The trouble was that I recognized good writing.  With a jolt, I’d realize all of a sudden that I wasn’t as good a writer as, say, Alexander Dumas, Rick Riordan, Cornelia Funke, Chris D’Lacey, Leo Tolstoy, or any other you’d care to mention.  Especially with Riordan’s writing, I’d have a bad case of inferiority complex just after finishing one of his books.  I remember finishing the Son of Neptune and writing to one of my friends on how “reading Rick Riordan makes you feel inferior.”  I was just in utter awe of the writer’s prowess.  Now, however, I’m quite happy to note that I’ve gotten over this feeling quite completely.

Unfortunately, I’m slightly ashamed of the reason for this.

You see, I had seen Rick Riordan as a perfect writer who had no flaws.  Though people dock points on reviews for his books having too many typos, I always overlooked that since, well, they weren’t his fault.  It was the typist, after all, who was falling asleep on his typewriter.  It wasn’t the author’s fault that there were gross misspellings and errors in the text.  But at last I found a flaw.

You know the best way to boost your self-esteem?  Find fault in someone else.  I say this half jokingly, since of course no one likes having their mistakes pointed out in a brutal manner.  Politeness and tact is called for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh maniacally in your bedroom as you realize– “Rick Riordan isn’t perfect!”  Just don’t crow it to the world with too big a smile on your face.

Many amazing authors used to make me feel very very inferior.  But do you realize that you learn more from finding the flawed and realizing what could have been done better than from admiring the good stuff?  Most of the time it’s a combination of the two, but usually it’s learning from the mistakes of others that can make you great.  Everyone says learn from your own mistakes– why not learn from everyone else’s, too?

Admiration does not come from just standing and watching a perfect person from afar.  True admiration begins when you see the fault of another, recognize it, and still like the person for what they are.  Isn’t that the lesson countless fairy tales have tried to pound into our heads with a sledgehammer?  Though finding fault with someone may mean the person isn’t as perfect as they first appeared, if you still think the person is great, even though you’ve found that fault, it means they are great indeed.  If you find fault and they no longer have the same appeal to you, they probably aren’t worth your admiration.

In my mind, it is beneficial to find fault.  In moderation.  If you can find fault with someone you admire, it means that you aren’t following them blindly.  If you live to find fault with someone, you’ll soon find yourself not admiring them anymore.  It’s the difference between giving constructive criticism and insulting.

I have finally found Rick Riordan’s fatal flaw, but I admire him nonetheless.  I found fault with Christopher Paolini and admire him much less (but still a lot), since his flaws were more serious.  I found flaws in Obert Skye’s writing, and yet he remains one of the most creative writers I have the pleasure of knowing.  You find flaws with something and you remove the film from your eyes.  You see the person in a new light.  But if the person still seems admirable in that new light, they’re worth the admiration.

Otherwise, they aren’t worth it.  The rubbish bin awaits.

Good Vs. The Evil Fourth Book

The best fantasies have the same premise: good versus evil.  Lord of the Rings.  The Chronicles of Narnia.  The Dark is Rising Sequence.  Grimm’s fairy tales.  The Inkheart Trilogy.  The Redwall series.  Rangers Apprentice.  Leven Thumps.  I’m listing off my favorite fantasy series’ here, and all of them are the same.  The Kane Chronicles, Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  The Beyonders, Fablehaven.  Star Wars, even.

All of the authors of the series’ listed have different ways of showing right as opposed to wrong.  Brian Jacques, in the Redwall series, has all the villains a part of the same race of creature.  Good people are some harmless thing like a mouse or a squirrel, and evil people are rats, foxes and the like.  In Inkheart, it’s rather easy to see who’s who.  Since the Inkworld, where most of the adventures take place, is a fairy-tale sort of land, bad guys are generally ugly and good guys are generally good-looking.  The same with Grimm.  The green-skinned, shriveled old hag is always the antagonist, whereas the handsome prince is infallibly good.  In Rick Riordan’s books such as Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the bad guy is usually the one trying to take over the world and destroy human civilization.  QED.  Rangers Apprentice, the same thing.  The bad guy is the person going against the king of the realm.  Lord of the Rings, the good guys are good-looking and have the unique ability to ride through rivers without drowning.  The bad guys are usually giant eyes in the middle of nowhere, shriveled kleptomaniacs, and large hideous beasts.  Chronicles of Narnia.  Aslan, the embodiment of righteousness, is quite obviously good.  The White Witch, the oppressive tyrant who likes hypothermia and petrification, is definitely bad.  Star Wars baddies have red lightsabers and evil blue lightning, and run on fuel such as hate.  Good guys are wise, peace-loving, and wear constricting robes.  It’s obvious which side to choose.

My favorite way to show good versus bad, however, is in Leven Thumps.  There’s a specific character named Azure who is on the side leaning toward world domination and the destruction of all we hold dear.  He used to be a thoroughly good guy, who was all for the exact opposite of the above.  Unfortunately, he turned 180 degrees and is now working diligently for evil.  The cool thing, however, is that all the good that was left in him after he turned was concentrated into his right ear.  That sounds really funny, but it’s quite profound.  That ear itches constantly and he can’t stop scratching it, making it swollen and bleeding.  It’s a perfect metaphor, saying that no one bad is completely bad.  They all have their conscience nagging at them like an itchy ear, which they try to scratch away, but keeps coming back.  This is brilliant.

Now, to end the post on an unrelated note, I’d like to rant for a little while on the fact that when you’re looking for something, you never find it.  When you stop looking, it pops up everywhere.  For instance, when I first read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I got through the third book without a hitch, then went to the library for the fourth.  It had disappeared.  Eventually I had to request it from another library just to read it, wasting a month and a half in the meantime.  When I went to the bookstore to buy this fourth book, I found the third and fifth, but not the fourth.  I went about a year with a large hole on my bookshelf, where I knew that the fourth book would fit perfectly.  Each time I went to buy it, it wasn’t there.  I gave the series to my younger sister to read, and she was fine until book three.  Then I went to the library to look for the fourth book for her, and found a large space on the shelf.

Just about a month ago, I bought that fourth book at Barnes & Noble.  The next time I went to the library, what do I see, but there are two copies of that fourth book sitting there on the shelf.  Those two books have not left their positions from that day to this.  Now I can look at my completed set of PJ+O on my bookshelf, never to search in vain for the elusive fourth book again, but I can hear their derisive laughter following me wherever I go.  I’ve never kicked a book across the room before, but I could honestly do it to those two library copies right about now.

Good thing I won’t.

High Fantasy

The world needs more YA high fantasy stories.

This fact was brought into my mind by this post: Literary Trends I Want To See In 2012, by Kirsten.

A high fantasy story isn’t a fantasy that’s regular place is on the highest shelf in the library, or even one that is usually read on airplanes; a high fantasy is a fantasy that takes place in a world with no connection to our own.

It’s quite true. That’s why it’s called a fact. Right now in the literary world, a lot of fantasy stories are set in the real world with strange things happening (for example, The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan), or they begin with the characters in our world, then the characters travel to another more fantastical world (Leven Thumps, Obert Skye). Not enough stories are like Lord of the Rings or the Inheritance Cycle, where they are completely wrapped up in a completely fictional world, with strange races of beings like orcs and dragons and such.

And it struck me lately that I haven’t even attempted to write a story of this sort. And that, my friends, is the reason I’m thinking up a story for one such world. Perhaps this is the wrong way to go about this: writing with the sole idea that it’s in a world that cannot be connected with our world, and no story behind it. That’s why I’m trying to think up a story for it before I start writing. And I’ll need a new notebook before I start it, too.

If I do decide to start this, it will put a bit of a hold on both the Phil Phorce (if I decide to do anything of the sort) and editing Wise (which is currently stopped). But what will happen is I’ll get to put even more excerpts on this blog, as well as add a few good characters to the ranks of the Phils. And I also want to give this one an antagonist, a type of character that I have before this neglected to even think up. Strange, isn’t it? On the quest for originality, I leave out a crucial type of character.

Oh, and in this story I’ll probably leave out dragons, unicorns, phoenixes, griffins, or any other commonly used fantastic creatures. I’d like to make my own, if I do, which I think I will.

I’d include what I wrote yesterday that sums up the state of that world at the beginning of the story, but as you all know, I’m paranoid. I’d rather wait until I’ve written enough so that I can find an obscure excerpt to give you instead, one that will ensure that you have no idea what I’m doing.

And one last thing: if I can get myself a mental outline and a clear idea of what the ending will be like, this story probably won’t end up like Small Minds. Hopefully not.

The strangest thing just happened: I got the search term “4th book in pillage trilogy”. I don’t know what people think, but unless you’re Christopher Paolini, you don’t have four books in a trilogy.

How Did They Find Me?

I’ve been getting a ton of crazy search terms over the last few months, and thought you all might like some of them.

underwater ski lift– Question for you: Do you usually ski underwater? No? Well, why do you need an underwater ski lift?

i know, right? doesn’t make sense– Neither does this term. You need to capitalize your I’s.

the mark of athena excerpt– Don’t have one.

rick riordan the mark of athena excerpt– Still don’t have one.

when did imagination die?– When you were born it probably committed suicide.

athena’s mark spoilers– I don’t know what athena’s mark is, but if you’re looking for Mark of Athena spoilers, I can’t help you there either. (Why not? Because it hasn’t been published.)

how to intentionally find dragons– Intentionally? You mean like, not accidentally? Hmmm… Prove that dragons exist on Earth first, and then I’ll help you. Maybe.

unmispelled word– Well, you’re on the wrong track already; you misspelled “unmispelled”.

ldkfjs– Hmmm… Wonder what this means.

what is the correct way to write ‘this part of page intentionally left blank’?– Probably just the way you wrote it.

excerpt from the mark of athena– Listen, I don’t have anything like that!

how do you say but bears it out even to the edge of doom in iambic pantameter– Erm…

facts about miscellaneous things– Flip randomly through an encyclopedia.

not really. there.s a website. just google search scottish ramble 2012.– No comment.

facepalm fun– I’m giving you an example right now.

why did he write the lost hero– Um, because he’s a writer. And he writes that sort of thing. And he’s being paid to.

http://internationalcelebrity.wordpress.com/– How did you get to me from that address?

the mark of athena review first chapter piper– Haven’t read it.

the lost heo short review– What do you want me to do, make it shorter by leaving out letters?

how to brand my own music– Get a metal symbol, heat it up, press it on the music, and you’ve branded your music. Next stupid question?

‘music writer for despicable me’– I’m looking for this guy too, to yell at him.

how to say pirating in french– Don’t ask me.

imagination dying out– It started with you, so don’t ask me.

where can i read ‘the mark of athena’– Wherever you want to, in fall.

book dystopia remove reading and writing brain white flower escape– Are you looking for the answers to a crossword puzzle?

this t-shirt was intentionally left blank– I’m so sorry.

listen t o romeo wherefore art thou romeo audio– Why should I?

on what page of the lost hero does riordan refer to jack london– Sorry, I can’t tell you.

fight scene being shot– What, with a gun? I’d like to do that with a lot of fight scenes.

“it’s all but green light” traduction– May I ask what that is?

the mark of athena spoilers– Again, I haven’t read it.

what page is stupor on in the hunger games– I don’t know.

a real sample of themark of athena– Listen to me! I can’t give that to you!

small talk is for small minds– Is it?

silent corner– That’s where I’d like to put you too.

little children are sleeping facebook comment– I don’t really care.

misspelled phrases– Hey, look, you learned how to spell it right! Look somewhere else. I try not to misspell words.

saying now thats my cup of tea– Sure it’s your cup of tea. What about it?

i wanna rock n roll all night written out– You just wrote it out. Why do you need someone else to write it out?

the mark of athena whole story– I don’t know what it is about people, but they’re so impatient.

mark of athena ch.1– I still don’t have an answer.

heroes of olympus mark of athena chapter 2– Why do you need chapter two if you don’t have chapter one?

how does obert skye write– Ah, with his hands, probably. He might use his feet, though; I’ve heard of people like that.

when he reached the second ball of crumb, dahlmann decided to do– You lost me on the second word. I don’t know how you found my blog this way.

first real exerpt to the mark of athena– And all the others were fake? I wonder why…

is annabeth going to die in the mark of athena– If I knew, I probably wouldn’t tell you. And I don’t know. So why ask?

are there two of us in the universe parralel– Well, if you’re saying “us”, then yes. And learn to spell parallel before you unravel the mysteries of the nonexistent multiverse.

i don’t get iambic pentameter– Good for you.

midevil times and peanut allergy– What’s “midevil”? Some cross between good and evil, closer to evil than good?

song i see life after end– No comment.

when will there be an excerpt for mark of athena– Probably when the book comes out. Until then…

phrase “i know, right?”– What about it?

mockingjay fault book– What does that mean?

black wallpaper– Would you like light black or dark black? We sell neither.

how did rick riordan get idea to write his books– He probably went out to Idea-Mart and selected some from the aisle labeled “Greek, Roman and Egyptian Myths”. HOW WOULD I KNOW?

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did. Who knew so many people were after excerpts from Mark of Athena?

Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save…

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I thought I’d join because, well, it seems interesting. And I sometimes run out of things to write, as you can see in the post “When Boredom Strikes”.

So. This Tuesday’s topic is: Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save If My House Was Going To Be Destroyed By Aliens.

Oooh! This promises to be fun. The following are not in order that I like them.

  1. Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini. I spent more money on this book than on any other book I’ve bought before, so I’m keeping it.
  2. Airman, by Eoin Colfer. This is one of the best books I’ve read by this author. Scratch that, it is the best book I’ve read by this author. So I’d like to keep it.
  3. All the Rick Riordan books I have. Okay, this might be cheating, sticking something like seven books together in one, but who cares? It’s Rick Riordan!
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas. Just because it’s my favorite book ever.
  5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and the Hobbit), by JRR Tolkien. Again, cheating, but it’s Tolkien!
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis, if we could find our copies. Somehow they were lost in one of our moves between states. And it’s cheating again, but it’s CS Lewis!
  7. Erak’s Ransom, by John Flanagan. If I had the Lost Stories I would take that instead, but I’ll just have to go with the second best book in that series.
  8. Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo, by Obert Skye. I’ve changed my mind about how much I like this series, but this is the first book and it’s pretty good regardless.
  9. Taggerung, by Brian Jacques. I know I don’t talk about the Redwall series much, but I have all but two of the books, my favorite being the one I just mentioned.
  10. Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. I believe Funke is one of the best writers I know of. Inkheart is definitely coming along.

What more shall I say? I’ve run out of lines in which to put more books by great authors, so I’ll leave it at that.

All of you readers who don’t know who Isaac Phael is are dismissed. Regular readers, I’d like you to read this fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm: Frederick and Catherine. Comment and tell me what you think about Catherine’s character.

And just for fun, I’d like you to read this fairy tale, by the same authors: The Valiant Little Tailor. When I read this, I thought it was hilarious.

Been fun, but I’ve got to go now. Ta-ta!

When Boredom Strikes

Quirk wandered around the abandoned warehouse, thoroughly bored. Liam had called a Phil conference, but he wasn’t there yet.

“Would you stop that?” asked Percival. They had been waiting for hours and tempers were wearing thin.

“Stop what?” asked Quirk.

“Walking around without purpose. It’s… well, it’s without purpose.”

“I know that!” snapped Quirk. “What else should I do? Try and kill you?”

“Well, you could try, but it’s more likely that you’d end up dead.”

“In theory, we’re immortal,” said Quirk.

“Want to test it?”

“Shut up, you guys,” said Steve. Even he was too bored to pick fights.

“You shut up,” said Feiron.

“Would you all just shut up?” asked Isaac.

“You can,” suggested Sebase.

“So can you,” said Phume.

“Actually, it’s become physically impossible for me to do anything of the kind. You see–”

“But I don’t see!” complained Isaac.

“So shut up! People who can’t see shouldn’t be seen,” said Feiron. “I mean heard. I mean… Oh, whatever!”

“Would you stop doing that?” yelled Percival at Quirk.

“NO!”

“Well, that’s a relief,” someone muttered, probably the old lady. “If you did, the earth might spin out of control.”

Quirk, liking the idea of causing the end of the world, stopped.

“Whoever said that,” said Percival, “thank you.”

Feeling that perhaps the world could go on spinning for a while longer, Quirk resumed his wandering.

“ARGH!” Gologer and Percival yelled in unison.

“Would you keep it quiet?” asked the old lady. “I’m trying to read Obert Skye here.”

“Trying…” said Sebase.

“…And failing,” finished Feiron. They shared a high-five, Feiron’s arm flying off.

“Put it back on! Put it back on!” yelled the fairy, trying to run toward it and getting nowhere.

Quirk picked it up and tossed it back onto the table. Feiron grabbed it and stuck it back on. “That feels better,” he sighed.

“Where is Liam?” asked Phoenix, tracing a circle in fire on the table. “Today was the day he wanted, right?”

Percival took out his smartphone and checked the calendar. “Yup.” He put it away.

“Did he say anything else about it?” asked Sam. “Like what to do if he was late?”

Percival took his smartphone out again. “Nope.” He put it away again.

“You’re sure?” asked Steve.

“Yup.”

Silence fell heavily over the room, screaming loudly. Suddenly Percival reached in his pocket again for the phone. “Text from Liam. He says he’ll be there soon. The meeting is to be conducted by…” He grimaced. “Quirk.”

“What?” Quirk asked. He hadn’t been listening.

“Liam says for you to start the meeting,” said the old lady, putting a bookmark in her book. There was a bet running between Sebase and Phume on what she would use as a bookmark. Money changed hands as they saw a rubber octopus wedged between the pages.

Sebase, having lost the bet and more bored than ever, put his face in his hands. “Hurry it up, will you?” he moaned.

“Okay,” said Quirk, still wandering. “The meeting today will be on why wandering around a warehouse is good for the soul, as well as the many merits of buttons.”

Everyone groaned, Gologer’s groan shaking the building.

“Hey everyone. How’s the meeting going?” asked Liam, just coming in the door. “I’ve got to rush off again in a minute, so let’s make this quick. Have you started yet?”

“Not yet, but we’d gladly make it short,” said Percival.

“Okay, meeting adjourned,” said Liam, looking at the time. “See you next time. I hope this meeting was productive.”

Everyone filed out slowly. Liam pulled Quirk aside and whispered, “Wasn’t that a great joke? I was sitting outside this whole time!”

Sebase turned out the lights as Quirk threw a punch at Liam.

“So that’s what happens when you leave 11 Phils alone for a few hours,” said Liam, holding his nose.

A Phil Conference

“Well, you all know it had to happen sometime,” Liam said, standing at the head of the traditional pool table the Phils were seated at.

“What, the world is ending?” asked Quirk.

“No–”

“I’m becoming Vice-Phil?” asked Percival.  He and Quirk glared daggers at each other.

“Not quite yet, but–”

“The moon has been found to be made of cheese?” asked Sebase.

“Moldy bread,” said Phume.

“Cheese!”

“Bread!”

“No! That’s–” protested Liam.

“Oh, I know: you’ve found me a cure for my eyes?”  Isaac was facing entirely the wrong direction, his eyes bandaged.

“Why would he do that?” asked Feiron.  “You’re nothing special.”

“If I could cry, I would,” Isaac told him.

“Well, we’re all thankful that you can’t,” said Steve.

“Has the world learned to love each other?” asked Sam.

“No, it’s not–” Liam said.

“Obert Skye has come out with a new book!” yelled the old lady.

“NO!”

“Argh?” asked Gologer.

“Probably not,” Liam said.  “What I meant to say before I was interrupted was that I’m finally coming to the end of Phoenix’s story.  Now, I don’t say Isaac’s story because his will keep going for a while.  I’m not finished with him.”

“Thank heaven!” cried Isaac.

“I don’t think that’s a good thing, ‘saac,” said Feiron.

“Oh.”

“I wrote the ending to Phoenix’s story a while ago,” continued Liam, “and right now it’s looking as if we might get there pretty soon.  Within the week, I might guess.”

“But you won’t because you’re terrible with your schedule and all that,” said Quirk.

“That’s it, Quirk,” Liam snapped.  “Percival, you’re Vice-Phil now.  Quirk, you can clean the toilets.”

“But we move each week…”

“Then clean them all.  Anyway, Phoenix’s story is going to be done this week.”

“So then you can continue my story,” said Percival.

“All right, Quirk, you’re back to being Vice-Phil.”

“Yes!”  Quirk pumped his fist.

“NO!” wailed Percival.

“Can Percival do the toilets now?” asked Quirk.

“No, we can go without,” Liam said.  “But to continue, Phoenix is almost done.  That means she can retire her duties over there and work more on producing Phil-worthy phrases, which she has yet to do.”

Phoenix stuck out her tongue.

“I think I’m right in saying that she won’t be Vice-Phil for a while now?” guessed Quirk.

“Yeah, whatever.  Our next order of business is to say that I’ve been sort-of editing Wise.  It’s kind of stopped, but who really cares?  Soon I’ll have that boatload of carp that Phoenix’s story is to edit.”

“Hey!” Phoenix yelled.

“It’s true,” said Feiron.

“It’s your story too, ‘Ron,” said Liam.

“But I’m in both Phoenix’s and Isaac’s so that makes me better.”

“You weren’t there when I was blinded!” said Isaac bitterly.

“Sorry about that, Isaac.  I’m working on it,” said Liam.

“So Phoenix will be joining the ranks of retired story-Phils, including myself, Sebase, Phume, Gologer and the old lady,” said Percival.

“I’m not retired yet!” said the old lady.  “I’m a part of Isaac’s story, and his isn’t done yet!”

“But your part in Wise is,” Liam said.  “Third order of business: a great post you should check out.  On Kirsten’s blog, she recently wrote this post, which is a great summary of how stupid modern fantasy stories really are.  I’m sorry to say that Phoenix’s story is almost exactly the same as the first plot.  I’m quite happy to say that Isaac’s facet of the story is completely different than anything else I’ve read, except fairy tales.

“Speaking of which, I was ‘researching’ Rapunzel for Isaac and found that Rapunzel’s tower was twenty ells tall.  Officially, an ell is 45 inches, which makes for a 75 foot tower that Isaac jumped out of.”

“Congrats Isaac on doing something stupid.  Again.”  Feiron clapped loudly.

“And that concludes our conference for today.  Thank you all for coming.  Sam and Steve: Gologer has asked to take you home.  Just climb in his mouth.”

Sam and Steve screamed as the Phils left.