Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #chapterbooks

Adventures of Agnes – A Back Story Of Moore Zombies: Big, Bad Wolfbag

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The old bad guy and I had this dog named Agnes.  She was a short haired, brown something or other that we got from the local humane society.  When she was really worked up, her hairline that ran down the middle of her back would raise up, but backwards.  She was the friendliest dog ever, but she was also very intimidating if you were on the other side of the fence.  We got a lot of great comments on her – personality, personality, personality, Type A.

Agnes was quite often, a pain in the rear.  She was definitely an alpha female.  So much so, that she would raise her leg to go the bathroom, she wasn’t letting the males have anything on her.  I have blogged about her issues with skunks.  I almost put something into Big, Bad Wolfbag about skunks but I felt I already had enough material.  So then there was the toad thing.

One day, I heard Agnes barking her brains out in the backyard.  Yes, she was drooling and foaming at the mouth, just like in the book.  I saw this toad on the ground.  She was barking at it and almost trying to bite it but you could tell whatever slime substance was on its back was deterring her.  We put the poor toad outside of the fence and worried some about Agnes.  We have her plenty of water to drink and she turned out just fine.

There was the time when the old, bald guy and I were camping near a lake.  We saw this young boy come up over the hill.  Agnes’ ears perked up and she looked very alert.  The boy saw her and stopped in his tracks.  The old bald guy spoke out loud to himself, “Please don’t run”.  Of course, the kid turned and ran, and Agnes chased after him.  He must have been terrified.  Agnes was the kind of dog that would chase after anything that ran away from her, but luckily for humans, she wouldn’t do anything but be playful once she caught up to you.  Anyhow, we feared repercussions from angry parents so we packed up, called Agnes who dutifully came back, and we left.  A version of this is in the opening chapter of my Wolfbag book, except I changed the boy to a girl.

Another time, we were camping at Lake Pleasant, which is why I decided to include the name of this lake in the book.  Agnes loved swimming and we saw her swimming after a bird that looked like it had a broken wing.  The closer she got to the bird, the bigger her eyes became.  When she got really close, the bird flew away and Agnes turned around and swam back to shore.  Before she got out of the water the bird flew back and plopped down near Agnes and swam away again with the appearance of the broken wing.  Of course, Agnes turned back around and swam after the bird.  We were sure Agnes kept getting too close to this bird’s nest on shore.  This literally went on for at least an hour.  Yes, this is also in the book.  When I did internet searches to find birds that played the broken wing trick, I could only find a certain bird that to my recollection did not look anything like the bird that played this trick on our dog, and that is why the type of bird remains unnamed in the book.

The fishing incident in the book is completely made up and had nothing to do with Agnes.  However, there was a time when our other dog, Ed, got tangled in someone’s fishing line as he swam by.  That silly angler saw him coming and should have reeled his line in, but instead he watched the whole thing happen and then blamed us for letting our dog tangle his fishing line.  Luckily, as Ed kept swimming the line untangled on its own and we didn’t have to unhook him or anything.  We were glad because we didn’t want to deal with that dummy anymore anyhow.

I could go on and on about Agnes, and I’m sure in the future I will.  Now you know a lot of the events which inspired me came from real life and you can read all about them in my third chapter book called Moore Zombies: Big, Bad Wolfbag.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

MooreZombies.com

The Wonderful World of English

I thought I knew English.  It is my first language.  I speak some Spanish and have learned those rules are much easier than English.  English has iffy rules.

You might be able to start a sentence with “and”.  But, starting a sentence with “but” is iffy.  But we speak like that all the time.   Do you walk towards the tree or do you walk toward the tree?  It depends on which country you live in or rather, which country one’s writing is intended for.  One can often tell the origin of one’s writing if there is “our” instead of “or”, such as colour and color.  Then there is theater and theatre.  In the United States of America, however, we use both.  You can go traveling in the United States.  However, you go travelling outside of the U.S.  Note how I underlined those words for emphasis.

In my Moore Zombies: Zombie World book, I have a couple of attractions inside the park.  (Incomplete Sentence Alert.)  For instance Creepy Show and the Become a Zombie areas.  I looked up rules for names and a long list of things to be italicized or emphasized.  Was there an attraction on the list?   Nope.  I also bring up the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist in the book Frankenstein, (underline book names) and not the name of the monster.  Same problem.  In bringing attention to the name itself, do I refer to it as Frankenstein, “Frankenstein” or Frankenstein?  I decided one way, then the other, then back again.  I found I had caps in one area, italics in another section of the book and quotes in other areas.  How confusing.  Change it all to “just normal” I finally decided.  I think.  I could be wrong.  Read the book.  (Pluggy, pluggy.)

One thing that I have recently learned is one is supposed to put a comma after an introductory hello.  Hello, Sir or Maam.  Why the pause?  I have been writing letters all of my life with “Hello Jane”, not “Hello, Jane”.  I’m going to have to attend counseling sessions now.   Speaking of pauses. . .  Suddenly, the black cat jumped in front of me.  If it was suddenly then there shouldn’t be a pause!

Did you know there is a difference between onto and on to?  If you walk on to the next attraction, you are going there.  If you walk onto the next attraction, that would be incorrect because you are not really “on” the attraction.  What about off of?  I hear it all the time.  She jumped off of the table.  I discovered a great argument against this practice.  One wouldn’t say on of, therefore you can’t use off of.  Now it becomes:  She jumped off the table.

Now that on and off are easily understood, I would like to tell you about a confusing conversation my husband and I once had about the alarm.  Is the alarm set?  Yes it is on.  Does that mean the alarm is sounding?  No, if the alarm were sounding, then it would be going off.  So the alarm is off if it is not set to on, or you have turned the noise off.  If the alarm is on, it is not really on, it is only set to alarm.  Try explaining that to someone who is learning English.

If you think I have mastered the language, reread this blog to find that I use quotes here, italics there and underlines elsewhere.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.  Luckily, that is often not entirely incorrect in the wonderful world of English.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies picture and chapter books

Spooky Time – A Fun Halloween Game!

Tonight I reminisce.  I would like to tell you about the fun & scary game that somehow just came to be.  It became a favorite Halloween tradition for our family.  Spooky Time.

When my children were very young, I liked to set the mood for whatever holiday was present.  I just happened to be shopping for Christmas items at a craft store when I noticed a 90% off deal for Halloween items.  Lucky me. I bought numerous, numerous candle holders at 10 cents apiece.  Skulls, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, etc.

So come next Halloween, I put them on display.  I also wanted to play some Halloween music, and all I could find was CD’s with songs such as The Purple People Eater.  I used to light the candles in the spooky looking candle holders, as well as in the jack-o-lanterns we had carved.  I would play the fun music and the kids would run around.

We turned out the lights so we could see how spooky the carved pumpkins and ghosts looked.  Then we decided to play hide-n-seek.  There were numerous candles everywhere so that every room was very well lit.  We even left some of the lights on, but dimmed them.  My boys were so cute.  They would go to their bedroom for one minute to give us time to hide.  Then, they would come out with big eyes, fake swords and plastic armor.

As the kids grew, I had to find scarier music.  So I went online and found some great clips that I downloaded and put on CD’s:  Werewolf howls, theme music from The Exorcist, theme music from the Halloween movies, music with people screaming on occasion, maniacal clown house music, the dreaded string sounds that you usually hear when someone is being attacked in a movie, etc.

The years continued to pass and we had to have less and less light as hiders were more easily found.  By this time, the REALLY scary music was blasting, and the neighbor children came over for this great, fun, scary, Spooky Time.  Sometimes the kids would hide with adults being the seekers, other times vice-versa.  We discovered throwing items at or near a seeker could throw them off, and there was a lot of moving around so that hiders could go to a place where the seeker had already checked, leaving the seeker to believe no one was hiding there.  One thing was very apparent – the jump scare never gets old!

Fast forward a couple of years.  The lights were almost none existent.  The music still blared on.  So, yes, injuries started to occur.  Hiders and seekers would run into each other.  One night, I heard “Wendy, I’m bleeding!”  We turned on the lights and our neighbor had a split in the center of his forehead.  How very Halloween to have blood dripping down all over his face and onto the carpet.  I thought he had crawled into an outside wall corner but it turns out he had just run straight into the flat surface of the wall.  Head wounds bleed, um, a lot.

Boys and men are so funny.  As my husband and I were working on the boy’s wound, my husband told him that someday women would be impressed with his scar, but that he needed a better story.  Apparently, running into a wall doesn’t excite the ladies.  All of the boys got to work.  I was amazed by all of their fantastic stories as to how our neighbor had now suffered this injury.  Great imaginations!

Being the only female present, I found it very interesting that there was no screaming or crying, but almost a proudness, a rite of passage if you will.  I’m sure if some young girl had split her head open things would have been quite different.

I don’t think that was the last year of Spooky Time.   I believe the next year the kids wore their karate gear, including headgear.  We may have even gone one more year.  But it was pretty much the end of an era.  And that is why I reminisce.  It was a lot of fun.  Go ahead and give it a try, just remember to leave some lights on.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies  MooreZombies.comGE DIGITAL CAMERA

Moore Zombies: Gimme Noodle! and Moore Zombies: Blood Moon

Hello, All!

I have been working really hard on a picture book and a couple of new chapter books for Moore Zombies.  With the time it takes to have a picture book illustrated, Moore Zombies: Gimme Noodle! has just been published, and my first chapter book, Moore Zombies: Blood Moon was published immediately after.  Another chapter book is soon to be done.  I am thrilled to introduce this series of Moore Zombies chapter books.  Being able to develop the characters, including back stories, and furthering their personalities is very exciting.

As for Gimme Noodle!, I hope all will enjoy a slightly twisted tale, but I don’t want to spoil it.  I hope it provides plenty of bonding moments between kids and their parents as they read together in bed.  I truly miss those times, as my children are now teens.  Older kids will be able to read it on their own.

Moore Zombies: Blood Moon is the first chapter book in a series of many more to come.  The book is fun fiction, but includes the facts.  I was inspired to write this book after having the wonderful experience of watching my first blood moon with my son last year.  I wish I had taken video.  The last total lunar eclipse we watched this year was not a blood moon.  I did take video, but the moon was so dark you couldn’t even see it.  It did look beautiful once it came out of eclipse, but then it quickly disappeared behind the hill we live next to.

I challenge all of you to take pictures of the next total lunar eclipse and post it on the Moore Zombies facebook page.  I hope it will be a blood moon.