Ernie, the terrier crouched beneath the gray mesh trampoline in his backyard. He scratched at the soldier’s dog tag hanging from his collar. 82nd Airborne Ernie barked at the small figure standing on his roof. His heart raced like it always did when a storm was on its way. But this was no storm. It was his boy, Timothy. What was he doing so high in the air when Ernie had sworn to protect him and keep him earthbound? Timothy scooted to the edge of the roof near his bedroom window, the trampoline looming like a dark thundercloud below. Suddenly, Ernie’s ears pricked to the frightening sound of a familiar word. Then his eyes widened at the sight of his boy’s thumbs up signal. “GERONIM-O-O-O-O-O-O!” shouted Tim excitedly. “Aaaaaarooooo!” Ernie howled. His black mustache twitched when the boy bent his knees and soared off the roof. Tim’s ten-year-old body flipped. His laughter filled the air! With delight, he executed a perfect triple somersault, then shouted to Ernie. “Might as well get used to that thing,” said Tim as Ernie chewed at the small brightly colored pack attached to a harness. “Dad bought it at the Army Surplus store. A genuine dog parachute. Now you’re a real parapup!” “We’re all going to the mountains, Ernie,” BOUNCE-BOING-BOUNCE, “with Dad’s airborne jump team,” BOUNCE-BOUNCE-BOING, “and yours truly will be going on his first solo base jump! “GERONIM-O-O-O-O-O-O!” Tim laughed. “Aaaarooooo,” chorused Ernie. He bristled at those awful “O-O-O-O” sounds knowing they meant something airborne. How he hated those words. Airborne, airborne, in the air, was where Tim longed to be while Ernie vowed to keep him safe and earthbound. Earthbound, earthbound, bound to earth was his motto. Now Ernie panted in alarm as he watched the boy and his father load their jeep with brightly colored packs of material, water bottles and lunch baskets. “O-O-O-H, Man, this is S-O-O-O-O cool!” laughed Tim jumping in the front seat and whistling for Ernie. “I can hardly wait ‘till we get to the jump site.” Ernie sat in the rear and scratched at the uncomfortable pack. A small round ripcord dug into his side. The terrible harness itched and the smell of gasoline made his mouth foam reminding him of a big toad he had tried to eat. Then as Ernie’s sides began to heave, the back of the jeep flew open. Tim leaped out and raced to a small picnic table. “W-H-O-O-OA! This place is awesome! You’re going to love it!” shouted Tim as he hooked the dog’s leash to the leg of the table. “Okay, Tim,” began his dad, “let’s get our gear unpacked. We’ll all come back here for our picnic, and pick up Ernie. The guys will get a kick out of his official canine parachute.” Ernie sat quietly under the picnic table and watched the pair happily struggle into their parachute gear. “Okay, let’s hit the silks!” said Tim’s father as he gave his son the thumbs up sign. They headed up a winding mountain path and disappeared from sight. The earth was cool and welcoming under the picnic table. How he loved the smell of dirt. An afternoon breeze brought the scent of grilling hot dogs and onions. A blue jay scolded a hawk in a towering juniper tree. Ernie’s eyes grew heavy. Then suddenly the air rang with familiar voices. ‘G-E-R-O-N-I-M-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!’ “Aaaaaarooooooooo!” Ernie howled with dread. The word made his whiskers bristle, and his heart skip a beat. Ernie sprang to the call. He had to get to Tim. The collar and leash slipped off easily with a firm tug backwards but the awful pack stayed in place. Bounding ahead Ernie soon picked up the scent of bubble gum on Tim’s old sneaker. What he saw next made the hackles stampede down his back like a pack of coyotes. There was his boy standing shakily near the edge of a cliff, staring down at something on the ground. His legs trembled but his thumb stood courageously in the afternoon light. No blue jay chattered in the trees now. The world stood silent. Ernie ran, the pack bobbing on his back. Rushing past a thorny shrub bush, its branches brushing his side, he heard a snap as the ripcord released. Then with all his spunk, he raced toward the familiar figure. An encouraging voice echoed from below. “Come on, Son, Airborne all the way!” “G-E-R-O-N-I-M-M-M-M-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!” came a nervous shout near Ernie’s ear. “Aaaaaaroooooo!” yelped Ernie. With one final desperate rush he leaped out into the blue cloudless sky. Jaws open. Teeth clamping onto Tim’s airborne sneaker. Too late. Boy and dog tumbled down into the sky. “What? Ernie, Ernie!” Tim’s voice squeaked, his eyes wide with surprise. Above him fluttered an open parachute. “Ernie, you crazy dog!” his boy laughed. “Look at you! Why you’re Airborne. Airborne all the way.” Ernie felt the rush of wind in his whiskers. He saw the sunlight glinting off bright silks. He heard laughter. His own tiny chute fluttered above his head and Tim, the Airborne Boy was safe at his side. Yes, this was truly a grand feeling! No longer was he earthbound, earthbound, bound to earth. He was Ernie and he was airborne. Airborne, airborne all the way!
Well, it's been seven years since I started the Relic Hunters series and it has gone through numerous revisions, and even a title change, starting out as the Stone Codex. Now The Relic Hunters is about to go through an entire rewrite where I take it from straight historical fiction to a time travel format. Thinking about this now and the dialogue rewrite, it has been so much easier to write it in twentieth first century dialogue than I could ever have imagined.
What ever made me think I could write realistically in the male voice of a preteen in the year 1486? It's hard enough to write dialogue but to try and capture the culture and time of the fifteenth century is a bit much for someone attempting their first novel. Picture books have always been my forte.
So here I go with a total rewrite of two previous completed middle grade novels, each one 300 pages. I am calling them my practice novels and the research I completed while on two trips to Siguenza, Spain will not be wasted, because my two main characters will time travel to the exact setting where my first book takes place. A stable in the heart of Siguenza where they will meet Rodrigo and Martin preparing for a battle with the Moors and a journey on a pilgrimage that will change all their lives. Get ready for an adventure that includes stolen relics, a mysterious book that was a gift from a queen, an encounter with an evil bishop, a minstrel and his puzzling apprentice, a runaway squire and much much more.
Just to keep you interested you can check out my Pinterest page and find pics of my main characters, their mounts, the setting and gobs of historical information about Siguenza, Spain and El Doncel himself.
The REAL story behind the characters of 'Glammaw and Nannerd.'
Glammaw and Nannerd Get Historical is a travelogue picture book about two eccentric fun-loving grannies and their granddaughters that has a delightful twist of an ending.
Years ago my mother, Jimmie Drew Olive Marsh, became the inspiration for the Nannerd character in the manuscript after my thirteen-year old nephew gave her the off-handed compliment asking one day? “What do you get when you cross a Nanny with a Nerd? Little did I know that day that the name would become the title of a children’s book in the future.
The ‘Glammaw’ character was channeled from a former neighbor who was a dance teacher and whose daughter danced with the Rockettes. She once mentioned to me that she never wanted to be a Granny-too old and fussy. So what else to call a flamboyant dance instructor grandmother but Glammaw?
Then several nights ago, I watched the movie ‘Coco’ and memories of my mother and her spirit came flooding back, especially our family’s special way of remembering her and paying tribute to the amazing character she was-artist, comic, teacher, mother, grandmother, friend. Of course, there are photos displayed of her smiling face in all our homes, as are grandparents in the film, but the immediate lasting way she is remembered is quite a bit different from most family memories.
I don’t recall who started the idea of 'Nanny Points' given to members of the family but it started years ago when she was alive and being her animated free-spirited joyful self. Whether it was running a hamburger joint called Gull Galley on the Freeport beach, collecting shells in Sanibel Island, Florida, or painting sunsets in Galveston she was one of a kind in every way. As far as the artistic talent goes the only family member who has displayed her talent in that field is my granddaughter Olivia, but we have all inherited her humor and love of life in one area or another.
She has been gone eight years now and her points are still given out to loved ones when they say or do silly things or forget their purse, or lock themselves out of their house or wear mismatched shoes or any number of silly things that mom was famous for.
As oddball as it may seem to the general public it is our way of keeping her spirit alive and active in our family and the people of Sweeny, Texas are conspirators as well. They are aware of our little Nanny point game that keeps our wonderful Jimmie Drew alive in our memories. Only in a very small town could this be possible and encouraged by all her friends who loved her so much. I hope to include some Nanny points in my ‘Glammaw and Nannerd’ books as well.
Dublin Ireland March 2012, "Yes, Officer they stole my heart."
You say, "She stole your heart. Well I wouldn't worry. You'll get over it, sir."
"No, no you don't understand officer. It wasn't a she it was a gang and it wasn't exactly 'my' heart."
"But, it was someone's heart?"
"Yes, officer and it was 900 years old."
Beg your pardon, Laddie. You been in the Guinness again?"
The Purloined Heart-The dialogue above is an imagined conversation concerning the theft of a nine-hundred year old heart relic that was stolen from Christ Church cathedral in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. When the interview with priest Rev. Dermot asking for the heart's return was aired in March, my interest was stirred and I did a bit of research to uncover the details of the theft of the heart. It seems it belonged to St. Lawrence, the first Archbishop of Ireland, who died in 1180AD.
After his death the heart found a home in the cathedral inside a wooden heart-shaped box where it was revered and visited by faithful pilgrims throughout the world. One night a group of men hid inside the church and waited until the priest had gone home and then pried the metal bars surrounding the cage, loose from the cathedral wall. The men worked for a gang from China who specialize in rhino horn and other exotics. The whereabouts of the heart has never been discovered.
The Golden Arm-The arm relic pictured above contains the upper arm bone of St. Andrew and is another example of holy bones that were revered in medieval times for their supposed healing properties. Through the small round window in the arm is visible the sacred bone which would not be valuable to collector's today. However, the reliquaries that house these sacred relics are quite valuable being covered with precious gemstones and hammered gold which is easily melted down and sold.
Other priceless relics fail to make the headlines today but are just as valuable to collectors. In 2011 a trove of relics were smuggled out of Iraq and ended up in the U.S. The name associated with the theft of these items was the family who owns the Hobby Lobby stores. Thankfully, in this case the relics and artifacts were all returned to the country and so this story had a happy ending which is almost never the case.
Since medieval times relics have been collected and stolen by kings and emperors alike. Charlemagne was purported to have the largest collection in Europe at the time including remnants of the True Cross and the Holy Grail and Helena, the mother of Constantine, traveled to Jerusalem where she collected many relics from Jesus and the Crucifixion. Today the relics are disappearing from churches throughout Europe because of their monetary value rather than religious appeal.
To find out more about this fascinating subject you can check out my Pinterest Page where you can find a picture of the heart-shaped box relic and many other interesting relics as well. Go to Margaret McManis page and click on 'Magical and Religious Objects.'
This month has started out like a whirlwind for Tally Ho Ho Ho. Inspiration Ranch hosted a fabulous fundraiser on Friday and it was a grand affair that raised needed money for the Ranch and its services to special needs kids in the community. When you order my book from the link below be reminded that 20%of the proceeds will go directly to Inspiration Ranch and their great program so open your hearts and wallets this Christmas for a great cause.
If you can't find my Christmas Book locally you can order online.
Love this little guy. He is my mini Snowflake that appears in my book 'Tally Ho Ho Ho' and will be such an attraction when I do school visits. He will have saddlebags to carry my books. He is only 34 inches and weighs around 150 pounds. There are a few ranches and farms in my area that have these guys for sale but I am thinking of leasing him for school visits before I commit to buying one. I am looking for an appaloosa with lots of spots that looks like the Snowflake in the book but may just have to get a white one.