“Stories are Everywhere”
Stories are everywhere. And there’s no one right way to discover them.
This probably isn’t a profound statement to adults. But maybe, just maybe, it might spark something in a kid.
THE RAMPART GUARDS was borne out of an hour of easy-going, not-too-intellectual television viewing. Television! That which we should all spend less time doing. If we want to better ourselves, we should be reading, or writing poetry, or exercising, or calling our parents or siblings, or hanging out with friends. Those are the things that make us better, more well-rounded people. Right? Television certainly isn’t going to do the trick.
But I watched television. And then I wrote a novel.
I was already immersed in the idea of writing a novel, and I’d been busy attending conferences and workshops, and exploring the world of publishing. I had some ideas for stories I could write, but nothing excited me. And then I watched an episode of Bones, and that night’s murderer appeared to be a chupacabra. What is a chupacabra? That’s exactly what I asked myself. A moment later I heard the word cryptozoologist and again found myself wondering what the characters on the show could possibly be talking about. Off to the Google I went.
For those of you who don’t know, a chupacabra is a creature, rumored to exist, that enjoys attacking and drinking the blood of goats. Lovely, no? Because its existence is not proven, the chupacabra falls into the category of cryptid. And the study of such creatures, which also includes things like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Mongolian Death Worm, is the job of the cryptozoologist.
One Google led to another. I soon discovered that there were many unknown creatures that may or may not exist, and I was fascinated. This was the spark for me, that thing that triggered the “what if” questions, and research, and story development. And now THE RAMPART GUARDS exists.
What if I hadn’t been watching Bones that night? Would I have ever written THE RAMPART GUARDS? It’s tough to say. But if I hadn’t connected with this story, I believe something else would have found it’s way to me through some channel. My point being, it’s important for us to hold open every possible door for our kids to create, to think, to question. Yes, television can be mindless, and there are times when that, too, serves a purpose, in my humble opinion. But if we’re engaged, if we’re thinking, there is learning in everything.
By using activities and other things kids love to do every day, we can help kids stretch their minds in new ways. Ask them: what if a character from their favorite television show met someone from their favorite game? What would happen? Would they like each other? What kinds of things would they do together?
Maybe there’s a funny or unusual commercial running that everyone’s talking about. Ask what happened before those thirty seconds, or what happens afterward, or even how they might make the commercial better. (And if anyone can explain why Paul Giamatti is in that family’s home talking about Xfinity while they direct his performance, please enlighten me. I really don’t get it. At all. But I digress.)
What if iPhone’s Siri met Android’s Cortana?
What if we really lived in Candyland? What would each student’s house look like? Or where would they want to live on the Monopoly board and why?
What would happen to Bert and Ernie if Bert got a new job out of state?
What can be mixed up in their world right now, and envisioned in a different way? Can the students take a character out of a book the class is reading, and invent a new story for them? One that happens away from the story they’re reading? Or maybe it’s a person from history, or an event, or even one of those made up holidays like National Peanut Butter Day (which was January 24th, by the way)—why was it important to someone to establish National Peanut Butter Day? What is their story?
Is some of this silly? Sure. But I bet it made you think just a little bit differently, even for the brief moment when you read and wondered about National Peanut Butter Day, didn’t it? It opened you up, pushed you ever so slightly out of the box, and engaged you with a creative part of the brain that might otherwise sit dormant. Offer this to kids, too. Encourage them to be silly, and think differently about stories, and create their own new versions in the best, fun way.
As we know, learning is everywhere. And there’s no one way to discover, and love, learning.
The Rampart Guards: Chronicle One in the Adventures of Jason Lex
Author: Wendy Terrien
Published February 26th, 2016 by Camashea Press
Goodreads Summary: After his mom disappears, Jason Lex and his family move to a small town where he has no friends, no fun, no life. Things get worse when he’s chased by weird flying creatures that only he can see—Jason thinks he’s losing it.
But when Jason discovers new information about his family, he’s stunned to learn that creatures like Skyfish, Kappa, and the Mongolian Death Worm aren’t just stories on the Internet—they’re real and they live unseen alongside the human race. Many of these creatures naturally emit energy capable of incinerating humans. An invisible shield keeps these creatures hidden and protects the human race from their threatening force, but someone, or some thing, is trying to destroy it.
Unsure who he can trust, Jason is drawn into the fight to save the people closest to him, and he finds help in surprising places. Confronted with loss, uncertainty, and a devastating betrayal, Jason must make a gut-wrenching decision:
Who lives, and who dies?
About the Author:
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**Thank you to Wendy and Sami for providing the guest post and having us be part of the blog tour!**