Are You Bored Yet?

I wrote this after a visit by phone with a friend from out of town. Her comments inspired me to address the Covid-19 restrictions and how I felt. I had been feeling sorry for myself – a little bit – and getting stir crazy, so I took a trip back to my childhood and here’s what I found.

To Marie and Monica ― you know who you are…

When I asked your mom how you were doing during the quarantine, she said she was fine, but you were bored. I have always been puzzled when kids say that, so I decided to try to remember what it was like when I was your age. Turns out my memory is pretty good, and my experiences were even better.

Let me give you a little background. Until I was six, we lived in a small town. I would play with my brother, the kids across the street, and the kids across the alley. There were six of us who lived within a block of each other. I remember that we had fun, but I don’t remember much about what we did. However, many of those kids are my friends to this day, and some of them even on Facebook, which didn’t exist when I was five.

Then we moved out to the farm. We didn’t have a telephone, and the television stations (there were three of them whenever the weather was just right, and the antenna was pointed in the right direction) were all in black and white. Of course, there were no video games and the internet as we know it today didn’t exist. Besides, we didn’t have a computer. Being kids, we didn’t even know what a computer was, except for an occasional tv show where there was a big room with lots of spinning tapes and blinking lights, and ticker tape spewing out with strange numbers and letters and ominous beeps and boops.

Television was a family affair in the evening after supper, mostly during the winter. Dad loved his westerns, so we saw a lot of those. We watched the Mickey Mouse Club and Disneyland, and a few other shows. The tv lay dormant during the day. If we were snowbound, which happened often in the winter, the power usually went out at the same time. Sometimes it would be off for several days. We had a wood stove for cooking and another for heating, and plenty of candles, so it was more of an adventure than an inconvenience. At least it was for us kids.

We didn’t go into town very often, unless it was to go to school or church. During the summer, we stayed home a lot. One of the highlights of our summer was a visit every two weeks to the library. I loved walking in the door and up the stairs in the old building down the hill from the grocery store. The library had a smell all its own, and I could have spent days instead of the hour or so before mom said it was time to go. I checked out a big stack of books every time, and in the two weeks until we had to take them back, I devoured them. They took me to Neverland, through the looking glass and into Wonderland, to the slopes of the Alps with Heidi, and many more places in the wide world I could only imagine.

Books were not my only entertainment. My brother and I had a series of characters we invented. Sometimes we were spies or detectives, and we would sneak around in between the outbuildings, the granary, the barn, and the chicken coop as we tried to locate the bad guys. Armed with cap pistols, we always caught them and brought them to justice. Another set of characters involved my brother as a business tycoon with a card table desk outside. I was his secretary and we had one customer, whom we named Bill Snodgrass.

As more siblings appeared, they helped us make up more games. They loved it when I played a lively tune on the piano while they ran around like wild creatures and sang at the top of their lungs. They called the song “Honkin” and I got requests for it often. I think Mom got tired of it long before we grew out of it. Another game we played was “Go and Hide Seek.” The only difference in our game was that the hiders were not allowed to sneak back to base before they were found. If we wanted to pick on a sibling, we pretended we couldn’t find them, and waited to see how long it took them to catch on and give up.

We played card games and board games, too. We played checkers and chess, canasta and cribbage, and Monopoly and Parcheesi, to name a few. We played store as well, probably inspired by the grocery stores run by our grandparents and our aunt and uncle. And my brother and I spent hours playing in the dirt, making roads for our toy cars and landscaping the terrain.

Mom always had a garden, and we did our share of weeding. We also had a huge strawberry patch, and we could always find one of my younger sisters in the middle of it, with sticky hands and red juice running down her chin. I got to watch, and later help, Mom can vegetables and fruit, make pickles and jam, and I even helped gut and pluck chickens. One of my least favorite jobs was collecting eggs; the hens were way overprotective of their nests and they had sharp beaks.

We always had milk cows. I watched Dad milk them, and my brother and I ran the separator, a device that used centrifugal force and ran on kid power. It took both of us to get the crank started to run the machine. Some of the cream would be made into butter (another cranking job I did at least some of the time) and the rest Mom sold to the dairy in town. Dad poured the skim milk into a special bucket with a nipple attached near the bottom and fed it to the baby calves.

To sum it all up, there wasn’t enough time in the day to get bored. Yes, I had friends in town I wanted to visit, and once in a while I got to go to a slumber party, or spend the night, or go to Camp Fire camp for a week. For the most part, I entertained myself or enlisted the help of my siblings. But I never got bored.

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Harp’s Accord


Ila Harp slammed her locker door and turned to face her nemesis, Jason. “You could call me Ila. It’s more polite, you know.” Icicles dripped from her words as she pushed past him.

“I’m sorry, Ila.”

“Then why do you do it?” she demanded.

“It’s just that you’re more like a Harp than an Ila.” Jason hung his head.

“Explain, please.”

“Well, a harp is a beautiful instrument,” he began. “It’s graceful and curvy…”

“And you want to play me,” Ila interrupted. “I’m no fool, Jason.”

“That’s not what I mean!”

“Then what?”

Some of the other Phineas High students gathered to watch what could become a knock-down, intense argument. Jason and Ila were more than a match for each other. They excelled at debate and often faced each other in class for practice. Pity the team that dared to challenge the Argonaut debaters if Jason and Ila joined forces. Which they would.

Jason took a deep breath to gather his thoughts and squelch his temper. “If you let me finish, what I was about to say is that, like a harp, you move through life like a restless breeze, tickling the wind chimes and rustling the tree boughs. And you have a power I can’t fathom. Don’t be angry. Please.”

Ila blushed at Jason’s very public compliments. “Okay, you can call me Harp anytime you want, as long as nobody else does.” She turned her fury on the gathered students. “Got that, guys?” Then she swept past the bank of lockers, down the hall, and toward her next classroom.

Jason followed at a safe distance. He wanted to catch up to Ila and walk her to the weather lab. Suddenly, she stopped, and he almost bumped into her. At the same time, the tornado warning alarm began to bleat.

“All students proceed in an orderly fashion to the tornado shelter. This is not a drill.” The announcement blared over the siren and the panicked chatter of the students.

“Come on, Harp!” Jason reached for her hand as she moved toward the double doors, which led to the parking lot. “Nooo! It’s not safe out there!” He ran after her, but she raced down the hall. Even the approaching storm could not have outrun her.

Ila slammed into the doors and forced them open. She felt, rather than saw, Jason close behind her. She had to protect him. She slammed the doors shut in front of him. Where were her sisters? “Celene! Patty! Portia! I need you!” she called out.

A rope of whirling cloud snaked to the ground less than a mile away. Debris spewed from the treacherous storm. The ill wind devoured everything in its path and threatened to hit the high school with a force so strong it would decimate the school and all those still in it.

She couldn’t wait. Ila ran and bounded as she ripped off her jacket and unfurled her wings. She took to the skies to face the tempest, a tiny gnat flying into the giant whirlwind.

Ila fought her way to the top, looking for the center around which the winds twirled. She spied an opening from her vantage point above the tumultuous cloud and flew into it. With her arms and wings outstretched, she allowed the funnel to spin her until she got her bearings. Once she reached the optimum spot, she furled her wings and tucked her arms close to her body. Now, the tornado could no longer rip them from their sockets.

Momentarily suspended halfway between the earth and the top of the clouds, Ila took a deep breath and wondered what to do next. She had to tame the winds before they could destroy the people she had begun to love. Especially Jason! He loved her back, and from that knowledge, she gathered the strength to unravel the funnel cloud from the inside.

Her sister Patti appeared and flew around the outside of the twister in search of Ila. She did what she could to turn the storm away. She flew up and down and back and forth in the tempest’s path to prevent it from continuing its present course. Its direction changed, but Patti knew it wasn’t enough to save the children sheltered inside the school.

Celene flew up to approach Patti and survey the situation. She shrugged and started to take off for parts unknown, but Ila’s voice penetrated the giant wind and cried for help. Celene knew she didn’t dare turn her back on her sister, so she landed and conjured a counter storm to do battle with the one in front of her.

The last sister to appear was Portia. She called on her husband, Master of the West Wind, to come to their aid. He arrived in a fury and blew the mighty storm out of the school’s path.

All the sisters’ actions worked together to send the tornado back into the skies, defeated. Patty, Celene, and Portia retracted Ila’s wings into her back, covered them with the jacket she had shed earlier, and disappeared in an instant. Ila fell to the ground, unconscious.

Jason ran to Ila, who lay collapsed in the middle of the park across from the school. He held her gently until she opened her eyes and smiled at him.

“You’re crazy, Harp,” he whispered as he stroked her forehead.

“I just wanted to see that awesome wind up close,” she replied.

Note: This month’s Blog Battle word is “harp.” After some thoughts, most of which I rejected, I decided to delve deeper into the legendary Harpies of Greek mythology. Twelve pages and four websites later, I took the information I gathered, modernized the story, went with the prettier creatures (and made them a bit more benevolent, as well), and updated their names the best I could to match present-day customs. As an afterthought, I decided the boyfriend should be Jason and the school named Phineas High.

Posted in Blog Battle, Short Stories, Sue Eller, Writing, Young Adult Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Another craft fair table

This weekend, fellow authors Larry Danek, Dave McChesney, and Esther Hildahl will have a table at the Mead High School Fall Holiday Craft Fair.  Larry, Dave, and I will be there with our books for sale on Saturday, Nov. 16 from 9a.m. until 5 p.m. For Sunday, Larry will return with Esther and her husband, Bob.

Come out and say hello if you live nearby. Mead High School is located at 302 W Hastings Rd., Spokane WA 99218.

Posted in Book Signing, Dave McChesney, Emily Trace Mysteries, Events, Ghost Stories, Larry Danek, Mystery, Science Fiction, Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers, Sue Eller, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holo Ian

In honor of that spooky, fun holiday, Halloween, I’ll share this story with you. It may change into a children’s book someday if I can find the right button to push.

Holo Ian

Ten-year-old Ian didn’t know he was a hologram. At least he didn’t find out until his eleventh birthday, which just happened to be October 31st.

The morning started out as mornings usually did. Ian’s mother called him down to breakfast, but instead of hopping out of bed, Ian covered his head with a pillow. He wanted five more minutes to finish the dream he’d been having.

No such luck.

Dad came into his room and shook him. Ian opened a narrow slit in one eye, thinking he was in serious trouble. But Dad was smiling!

“Happy birthday, son,” he crowed. “Today will be an amazing day for you. Come on downstairs and join Mom and me.” With that cryptic announcement, his dad turned and left.

Ian scrambled into his clothes and stumbled to the kitchen. By the time he reached the table, he was nearly awake. He gasped as he spied the present on the placemat in front of him.

“Go ahead and open it,” his mother urged.

“We wanted you to have it early,” his dad added.

Ian picked up the package, shook it, held it next to his ear and listened, and set it gently in front of him. He tugged at the ribbon, which came untied at once, and pulled it free. Ian stared at the beautiful, multi-colored wrapping paper. It appeared to change colors as he moved his head.

“Go on,” Dad told him.

He took a deep breath, let it out, and touched a corner of the package. In a frenzy, he ripped the paper to shreds and tore open the box. Whatever lay inside was encased in bubble wrap. Ordinarily, Ian would stop to pop the bubbles, but he was too excited and curious. He undid the tape and carefully removed the plastic from what appeared to be some sort of electronic device. He picked it up by the strap and held it up for all three of them to see.

“What is it?” he asked his parents.

“It’s your Halloween costume,” Mom explained. “Strap it on your arm.”

“Move it up closer to your elbow,” Dad suggested. The Velcro strap made the task easy, and Ian soon had it positioned halfway between his elbow and his wrist.

“Okay. It’s kind of a weird costume, though,” he mused.

“That’s because you haven’t properly programmed it,” Mom said. “Before you do, though, I’d like you to go stand in front of the full-length mirror.”

The three of them migrated to the hallway. The parents stood to one side so that Ian could get a good view.

“There’s a button to turn it on.” Dad pointed to a raised spot on the face of what looked like an oversized watch. “When the device is activated, you can speak to it and tell it what costume you’d like. Just be sure to say the word ‘costume’ after you tell it what you want.”

Ian thought for a long moment about what he wanted to be for Trick-or-Treat. He considered an astronaut, a police officer, a fireman, and a rock star. Ian finally decided and voiced his request. “Ghost costume,” he told the watch.

There was a shimmer, and all the molecules that comprised Ian rearranged themselves and became a see-through image of a white, misty ghost. As Ian moved, he floated about two inches off the floor and wafted down the hall back to the kitchen.

“Maybe you should get back to looking like Ian for now,” Dad suggested. “Just say ‘Ian image,’ and you should be back to normal.”

Ian complied. His arms and legs looked like they always did, and the strange contraption was once again visible on his arm.

“Push the button to turn it off for now,” Mom whispered.

“That was really strange, Mom,” Ian said. “But it was way cool. How did they do it? Does it project a hologram, or what?”

“Well, yes,” his mom replied. “In a way. Dear, why don’t you explain it to him?”

“Explain what?” Ian looked from his mom to his dad. “It’s just a piece of really rad technology. Isn’t it?”

“Actually, Ian, you are the piece of really rad technology.” Dad sighed. “We knew we had to explain it to you before you figured it out on your own. It’s just been a matter of timing.”

“And since it’s your birthday, and we knew you’d want to go out with your friends tonight, we figured we’d better tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Ian threw his hands up and shrugged his shoulders.

“Ian,” his dad said slowly, “you’re adopted. Actually, you’re a hologram.”

“That doesn’t mean we love you any less,” his mom added quickly. “It’s just that we knew this day would come, and we wanted you to feel like an ordinary child for as long as you could.”

Ian shook his head. “It can’t be true,” he murmured. “I eat real food. I sleep. I can reach out and touch things and even pick them up. Holograms can’t do those things.”

“You’re a very sophisticated model. Person. Boy.” Mom stuttered.

“The costume device we gave you allows you to change your appearance at will. It can help protect you from those who would steal you and take you apart for the technology,” Dad told him.

“Besides,” added Mom, “Dad and I are human, and we won’t live forever. We had to find some way to protect you when we weren’t there with you.”

Ian sat in his chair, and his head sank into his arms. After a minute, he sat up straight and gazed at his parents. “You’ve never lied to me, so I guess what you’re telling me is the way it is. I had no clue, but I’m glad you kept it from me until now. And it makes today, my birthday, an extraordinary one. From now on, I’ll always think of this day and of myself as Holo Ian.”

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Book sale and signing

This weekend I will join fellow author Larry Danek at the University High School craft fair, put on by the UHS Instrumental Music Parents Association. The location is 12420 East 32nd Avenue, Spokane Valley, Washington. The craft fair will be held both Saturday, Oct. 26 from 9-5 and Sunday, Oct. 27 from 10-4. Larry and I will be there Saturday, and Sunday, Esther and Bob Hildahl will participate with Larry. Here are the posters we made for Saturday:

Mini Larry Poster

Mini Sue Poster



Posted in Book Series, Book Signing, Emily Trace Mysteries, Events, Ghost Stories, Larry Danek, Mystery, Novel, Science Fiction, Sue Eller, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mission of Mercenary

The month of October has been designated OctPoWriMo, or October Poetry Writing Month. According to my friend and poet, Beth Camp, the idea is to write a poem every day for the month of October.

I don’t know much about writing poetry. I love Shakespeare’s plays, and I know what iambic pentameter is. I admire many of the poets I’ve had the pleasure to get to know, either through their works or in person.

Now for the caveat: unless you count winning a spot reading at Auntie’s for the Spokesman-Review limerick contest, my poetry writing is non-existent. Until today. This poem, which I chose to call “Mission of Mercenary,” is a feeble attempt to participate for one day in OctPoWriMo (please don’t tell my poet friends) and to finally enter the blog battle Rachael Ritchie hosts on her blog every month. By the way, this month’s blog battle word is “clone.” So here goes.

Mission of Mercenary

Commando clones,
Faded facsimiles of the
Original individual who is
Forever forgotten,

Employ disappearing drones,
Disruptive duplicates
Destined to decimate

A colony in the
Constellation Cassiopeia.

Teetering thrones,
Tenanted by a
Special species,

Divided by their differences
And doomed to die,
They pause to plead for

The attackers advance,
Determined to destroy
The indigenous inhabitants,
Whose fatal flaw is that
They are not identical.

Advocates for the adoption
Of the doctrine of diversity
Unintentionally create more clones.

Posted in Blog Battle, Clones, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Sue Eller, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Huge correction needed!!!

I think I must have been half asleep when I typed my last post. The class I’m teaching at Frankie Doodles is NEXT WEEK, Wednesday, October 16th, beginning at 6 p.m. You may come as early as 5:00 for dinner or a snack or just to say hello if you like.

Sorry if there is any confusion from the former post.

Posted in Events, Inland Northwest Writers' Guild, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Sue Eller, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Events this week in Spokane

It will be a busy week for me, but an exciting one as well.

Wednesday evening I will be teaching a class on formatting your document in Microsoft Word. I’ve used Word for many years, in versions beginning with Word 3.0 and continuing to the version I’m using now, which is Word 16.

The annual NaNoWriMo event, in which some writers commit to writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November, is fast approaching. Linda Bond, head of the Inland Northwest Writers’ Guild, has asked me to share my knowledge in the hope it will help not only those who participate in NaNoWriMo but also those who are working on a novel on their own.

The event is free of charge and takes place at Frankie Doodles’ Restaurant on 3rd Avenue in Spokane, Washington, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday evening I am pleased to be a member of a Radio Theatre production of Treasure Island, presented by Spark Central, 1214 West Summit Parkway, also in Spokane. A live performance will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.


Posted in Events, Inland Northwest Writers' Guild, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Workshop, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post by Elinor Young – July 31, 2019

Have you noticed that it was just a week ago that the crickets started chirping? The first time this summer. I love hearing their weather reports and was so glad the morning I heard they are finally back.

So what does that have to do with writing? Sue asked me to contribute a post for her blog, so I write about … crickets?!

No, not about crickets but about observing all – even the little things — that your senses tell you all the time. Have you noticed that the hotter it is outside, the higher and faster the crickets chirp? That’s their weather report. Have you noticed that in winter, popcorn clouds signal the approach of snow?

Whether you write fiction as Sue does, or non-fiction as I do, adding these sensory details can be the difference between writing that falls flat or writing that sparkles. A piece or a book that is rich and full.

So, now, get away from your writing spot, go outside, and notice. What do you feel in the breeze? What are the scents that this spot sends to your nose? Are there any so strong you can almost taste them? What do you see about how the plants and insects react to what the breeze brings? Can you hear the small things among the loud? – The buzz of insects, the flap of bird wings, or the soft landing of a leaf when it hits the ground? What can you tell from the footfalls of someone passing by? One day you’ll want to add details like those to your piece of writing. It will go from blah to fantastic.

When Elinor was five, polio nearly killed her. At thirteen, though profoundly disabled in a limited-access world, she declared that she would work overseas one day. Few except her parents supported the wild goal that eventually led Elinor to improbable places and adventures. Now retired, Elinor writes, speaks, mentors, and anticipates the day her memoir will be published.

Here is a short trailer of a YouTube video of Elinor “Bad Legs.”

You may contact Elinor at

Note: Elinor was the guest speaker at the July 11 meeting of SASP (Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers), and is an amazing lady with whom I reconnected after many years .

Posted in Memoirs, Overcoming disabilities, Overseas missions, Videos, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – Beyond the Ocean’s Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story by D. Andrew McChesney

Author D. Andrew McChesney instantaneously transports the reader back in space and time to the deck of the Theadora, a British sailing ship about to do battle with the French. It is the year 1802, and hero Edward Pierce leads a boarding crew to victory.

McChesney’s use of nautical terms soon creeps into your own vocabulary, and his descriptions can draw you into the belief that you can smell the salt air and feel the ship roll with the waves beneath your feet. Then the real story begins.

After a short stint on land, newly commissioned Captain Pierce and his excellent crew set off with a group of would-be colonists in search of the uncharted Stone Island. The quest takes them further from home than they could have imagined, and Pierce even more distant from Evangeline, the woman he loves.

The first of a series, Beyond the Ocean’s Edge will sail you beyond the charted seas and into a fantastic adventure.

Beyond the Ocean’s Edge is available on Amazon and Kindle. Click on the book’s cover below:

Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story

and please be sure to write a review when you finish the book. Thanks.



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