Guest Post: Alisa Russell – Across the Country

Please give a warm Kingdom welcome to Alisa Russell.  I asked for travel posts and she happily supplied one.  It’s full of wit and charm and more than a touch of humor:


As our loaded-down vehicle pulled out of my aunt and uncle’s driveway one warm July morning, there were many reasons for me to feel like a failure. My husband had been out of work since the previous fall because of his surgery. He had searched for work ever since he had healed as his income had been our sole support, but had been unsuccessful in finding it. My parents, who lived in California, had offered our family shelter while he continued to look for work. I could have been depressed, but I wasn’t because we had decided to treat the trip as a homeschooling adventure. Did I mention that we homeschooled?

Anyway, the first day we drove through four states—South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. We were loaded down with the trunk full and with a car carrier on top. The car carrier was not covered because none of us thought it would rain. Surprise, surprise. It started raining in Alabama and soaked the bags all the way through. Clothes were strewn all over the hotel room that night in an attempt to get them dry.

The next day we all started off grumpy, but that changed the minute we crossed the Mississippi River outside of Memphis. The look of awe and fascination in both of my boys’ eyes was worth every bit of aggravation from the previous day. We made it through Arkansas and into Oklahoma that day.

We woke up slightly later the next morning. I had made plans for us to meet a homeschool acquaintance and her children at a local tourist attraction off old Route 66. It was a restaurant called Pops which had a giant soda bottle out front and had every possible variety of soda you could wish for inside. The boys loved it!! They each had green apple Jolly Rancher soda. Does that sound very sweet? It was! We got back on the road and made it through the rest of Oklahoma, Texas, and slightly into New Mexico that day.

The following day we were finally in the desert. With the landscape being different than anything the boys had ever seen before, they asked question after question, and learned more about the geography of the United States than they ever could have learned from a book. It started off hot in New Mexico and was also hot in the first half of Arizona until we got to Flagstaff where it was twenty degrees cooler.

For the fifth and final day of our journey, we drove back down out of the mountains and into the desert once more. We were all tired of being stuffed into a car like sardines. And this would be the worst day—110 degree temperatures when we went through Tucson. By the time we pulled into my parents’ home in San Diego, we were all very tired and ready to rest. Little did we know, we would be making the same journey backwards one month later when my husband was hired as the customer service director for a company in Alabama.


Homeschooling, traveling, learning, writing, asking tough questions…  She’s got it all, so make sure you go check out her site.

I’d start with these:

last chance, part 2

Professor Hoya kept close watch over Anton.  She knew the young student was struggling to grasp the magic he so desperately craved and she was well aware of the lengths such men would go to when the truth of the situation settled in.  She had hoped that he would finally have that moment of inspiration, that spark, when everything fit together in his mind and soul and the magic would course through him.  She had held onto that hope until her final tutorial with him.

There were two things she determined while instructing him.  First, there was a calm about him that belied the turmoil she knew he was experiencing.  It could only mean that he had made up his mind about the situation.  Which led her to look into the lad’s future and see for the first time that Anton’s truth was that he would never be a magician.  If he had come to the same conclusion it could lead to him making dangerous decisions.

From her crystal scrying mirror she had watched him make his incendiary devices and place them strategically about the campus.  She had actually been impressed with his knowledge in both the creation and disbursement of his bombs.  They wouldn’t leave much of the school intact if they were allowed to be activated.  After he finished preparing his explosives, before she went to sound the alarm among the other professors, Hoya looked into her mirror again and saw Anton feverishly studying, trying to kindle the fire of his magic.

For a second, she watched in fascination.  He hadn’t yet given up hope.  He wasn’t yet ready to set aside his dream.  She was proud of him and settled in to watch the show, a powerful tug of hope swelled within her breast, and she found herself rooting for him to succeed.  She nearly forgot about the hidden explosives.  She nearly forgot about the truth.  But the sight of him frowning over one of the simplest scrolls reminded her of what potentially waited if he failed.

She chanted the words without even thinking about them, and flicked her right wrist in the arcane symbol of travel.  Professor Hoya sped along the paths of magic from her room to each of Anton’s bombs, disabling them with warding spells, and then collecting them to present to him later when she would confront him and offer him a job.

He may not be a magician, but there would always be plenty of work for someone with Anton’s talents.

last chance

Try as he might, and he truly did, Anton couldn’t grasp magic.  He studied, he practiced, he sought help and all of his professors willingly spent hours with the young student trying to help him along.  After a year though, a year spent in vain, Anton was ready to give it up as a lost cause.

All of his classmates had already successfully been able to memorize and cast the first dozen spells from their syllabus.  Anton hadn’t managed a single one.  At first his peers had taunted him, then they had tried to help him when they saw how significant his struggles were and how motivated he was, and then, finally, they pitied him.

It was the pity that sent Anton over the edge.  His mind may not have been capable of understanding the complexities of sorcery but it understood science very well.  He gathered and assembled the components in secret and then hid them about the campus.  Before he acted, Anton allowed himself one more chance, one last opportunity to apply himself to his studies and have the experience of feeling the power of a spell crackle off his fingertips.

He desperately wanted to feel that.  He wanted to know that power.  He wanted to know magic.

If he failed one more time, however, he would detonate the explosives immediately.  “If I can’t have magic, than I’ll make sure no one can.”


Word Count: 234

Happy Monday everyone, even if this piece isn’t all that happy.  I’m pretty sure not being able to perform magic in the world where others could would drive me a bit bonkers too.  Since it’s a bit silly and about magic, it must be my response to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:

GRASP (verb)

1: to take or seize eagerly
2: to clasp or embrace especially with the fingers or arms
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.


What’s with all the favorite questions lately?  Pick your favorite movie…  Pick your favorite holiday…  Pick your favorite B-Comedy actor/actress…  Pick your favorite blogger…

Can you be a little more specific please?  “Favorite” is such a hard thing to pin down.  Is that my favorite from the last five minutes?  Is that my favorite within a very specific sub-genre from the last five minutes?  Is that my favorite that I own and consume regularly within a very specific sub-genre from the last five minutes?  I don’t know about the rest of the blogosphere, but we here in the kingdom find it very difficult to say that anything is our favorite one thing.

Well, except the wife, of course.  That goes without saying…  What?  I just said it?  Oh, I guess I did.  So, I guess that guess without saying whether I say it or not.  Okay, I just confused myself.  And I’ve managed to write 150 words without really getting to the heart of today’s post.  So, without further ado:

My Favorite Story From When I Was A Child

Wait, before I actually start, how are we defining “child” today?

I guess that doesn’t matter.  And I said without further ado so I’m better get on with this…

The Indian in the Cupboard series, The Plant that ate my Socks, the Narnia series, the Bunnicula series, the Maniac Magee books, the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy (and all the rest involving those characters), The Hobbit…  And those are just the ones I can remember right now as I’m typing this up.

Did these stories influence the person I am now?

Of course!!  Everything we read affects us.  Everything we read we learn from.  We learn a little more about ourselves and we, hopefully, learn a little bit more about the world around us.  We gain knowledge.  We work our imagination.  We grow.  We adapt.

Even when you read something that isn’t well written, isn’t entertaining, and doesn’t pique your interest, you are still learning something about yourself, aren’t you?  I would challenge you all to test that theory, but I like you all too much to subject you to bad writing on purpose.

Hmm, though, if you’ve made it this far into the post, perhaps it’s too late for that…

Alas, I digress again.

I am the writer I am today, the Jester and Scribe of The Matticus Kingdom, I am the person I am today because of the stories I read and loved as a child.  If I hadn’t read them I would be something else entirely.

Like a mime or clown or something…

a teacher worthy of praise

To learn, or not to learn, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous teachers,
Or to tune them out and study all alone.
And by ignoring, end them?  To grow, to quest;
No more; and by a quest to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That school is heir to, ’tis an understanding
Devoutly to be wish’d.  To grow, to quest;
To quest: perchance to learn: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that vast knowledge what dreams may come…

I wouldn’t say that school was wasted on me, and while I thought it at the time, I no longer believe I was smarter than all of my teachers.  (Ah, to be young, arrogant, and foolish – invincible, immortal, and untouchable.)  However, partially due to my perception, outlook and attitude while in school, and partially due to the teachers I ended up with, there was no single teacher that ever stood out and changed my life.

In the school setting that is.

An outsider, a victim of bullying, school was not the sanctuary of knowledge and learning that is for so many others.  I dreaded the minutes between classes.  I abhorred the agonizingly dull seconds in classes when I was forced to be present in the class and walk through information I had invariably covered on my own weeks before.  It was only a place of excitement and learning when I was allowed to look ahead and study on my own, when I was allowed the time to quest after knowledge at my own pace.  Those stolen moments of brilliance were rare.

Since my escape from the confines of the classrooms, life, and living it, has taught me, changed me, shaped me, inspired me, influenced me.  And behind all of those experiences you will find my parents, who set me on my path pointed in the right direction, gave me guidance when it was needed and gave me the freedom to make mistakes and learn on my own too.  They have been my most influential teachers.

My mother, an English Teacher by education and a mother by profession is ever my guiding light for all things writing.  She continues to read and edit my endeavours in the written word and offer suggestions and corrections as needed.  She encourages me.  She pushes me to strive for me.

My father, a physicist and engineer by education (yes, he is a rocket scientist) and mountain man and world traveler by choice is often the spark plug for my mountain adventures.  It is those sojourns into the wild that have so often become the muse for my stories.  It is those experiences that have taught me how I want to live in this world.

Thank you both for being there for me when I rebelled against the conventional structures of education.  Thank you for your patience and your guidance.  Thank you for continuing to be teachers even as I embark on this new journey in my life: my own family.


I couldn’t actually remember all the words to Hamlet’s speech, so I looked them up here.