Notes from the Edge of My Mind

Margaret McManis' blog

A tribute to the 82nd Airborne division on this Veteran's day November 10, 2018- Earthbound Ernie a short story.

Nov 102018

Earthbound Ernie

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.
“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!


Rewriting, revising, and reworking

Jul 042018

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.

Holy Bones and Body Parts-Fantastic Relics

Jan 062018




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.'

Happy Hunting 




Every Serious Writer Needs a Blog

Jun 072015

This blog is about writing and getting your writing published.  But, within the writing groups that I attend this is a pervasive topic.  So I want to add to the noise and maybe capture a useful part of the discussion.  Feel free to comment. Be civil. That is it... Go forth and write.


Powered by Nibbleblog