Welcome to THE WRITER'S DEN! My name is Adam Leonard. I am a high school teacher and author; I welcome you to my blog and hope you will leave a comment or two. Join the site using the button on the right side bar! *******************************************************************************************************************************

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ferguson Fiasco- Respect, Responsibility, and Understanding

No matter how you look at the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, it is a tragedy that a young person was killed. A life cut short is a sad thing- period.

I think the real issue here is a fight for respect. Many feel strongly on either side of the conflict that both men, Michael Brown and officer Darren Wilson were disrespected.

Let's look at how a simple lack of respect has caused so much tragedy:
Michael Brown started a series of negative events and consequences by not showing respect to the store attendant that he bullied and robbed. This event brought in the police. He then showed a lack of respect for the police officer when he ignored his directives and tried to wrestle away the officer's gun.

Now let's look at the police officer. He is a young cop. Never had to use his gun before. He now has a suspect who has violently robbed a store, has tried to wrestle away his gun, and keeps charging at him in an aggressive manner. Regardless of race, this violent confrontational behavior and lack of respect for authority, is necessitating some type of serious consequence from the policeman. But- with that said, could the policeman have wounded him instead? Could he have shot him in the legs instead? If Michael Brown was white, would he have reacted in the same way? Did he know that he was unarmed? Did he have to shoot him that many times?

The bottom line to me is that our society is losing its respect for one another. And perhaps worse than that, we are losing a sense of individual responsibility. We seem to always look to blame someone else for the mistakes we've made.

Michael Brown was an unarmed young man shot repeatedly and killed by a police officer- but he had also just robbed a store and assaulted a policeman.

In my opinion, regardless of race, if you rob a store, attack a policeman and try to wrestle his gun away- there is a pretty damn good chance that you are going to be shot- whether you are black, white, or purple.

Now, I'm a middle-aged white guy, and I will never know what it feels like to be a black person growing up in America. I will never feel singled out or unfairly profiled by my race in the same way. But as a father with a son, I can understand his step father's anger and his lashing out. I don't condone it, but I understand it. If Michael Brown was my son, no matter what he may have done, nothing would reconcile his death to me. I would never understand or forgive whoever took my son away.

As a nation, I think we need to understand the situation from all sides. We need to stop blaming, hating, or maybe worse ignoring each other. There is pain on both sides. There is no right or wrong here, no winner or loser. Forgiveness implies blame, what we need from each other is understanding.. What we need from each other is empathy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

teamTEENauthor: Recommend a Good Book

teamTEENauthor: Recommend a Good Book:      Stephen King... is the arguably the most popular and influential author of modern times. Chances are, you have probably read ...

Friday, August 30, 2013

teamTEENauthor: Driving me CRAZY!!

teamTEENauthor: Driving me CRAZY!!:   So, you have to be toted around by your mom .  Ouch. Can you say, lame ? And please don't tell me that you go on a dates with your m...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

teamTEENauthor: Do you feel lucky... punk? Well...Do ya?

 Click the link below, punk, if you're feeling lucky:

teamTEENauthor: Do you feel lucky... punk? Well...Do ya?:  Lucky Charms Story #4: Author Adam N. Leonard Well, you've gotta be lucky to some degree beca...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

WRITING CONTEST for PA residents!

WITF is holding a writing contest for PA residents and the top prize is $500! Short stories are accepted!

All entries must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2013 and received at witf no later than February 5, 2013.   There is no entry fee for submissions – one submission per author. Original, unpublished works of fiction only please, no poetry or non-fiction entries will be allowed to enter. 1,500-word maximum.

Click here for more info!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hi everyone! Here is a silly video I made with my awesome kids to celebrate being part of teamTEENauthor. Hope you enjoy it! Be sure to check out the blogs and books of the other authors in our group! http://juliecross.blogspot.com/p/teamteenauthor.html

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Writing Prompt!

New Writing Prompt: MURDER!!!

Post a link to your murder story, (A link to your blog), and leave some comments for those who posted their stories! 

I have been working on a short story for several years called "Mary's Trademark Smile" and I plan to post it here soon... If you have a good murder story of your own, please share it with us!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Below is the 3rd Chapter in the sequel to THE RIFT RIDERS. This chapter explains how Charon (The Grim Reaper figure) becomes a living skeleton. If you get a chance, leave some feedback- what do you think?

Chapter 3
The Ferryman
Mid 14th Century BCE: The Realm of Tartarus

     Charon saw the craft trapped beneath the stone ceiling that jutted downward toward the cold underground river. He set down his torch, waded out to the vessel and peeked over the bow. Two corpses were inside, a male and a female dressed extravagantly in gold and jewels, undoubtedly royalty. He scanned the boat for the money purse and the items he had requested; the leather drawstrings of the purse protruded from beneath the male. A black cloak was neatly folded under the female, and the long, wooden scythe lay between them, its metal blade reflecting the moonlight trickling down through the darkness.
     Ahh, he thought to himself, no more having to wade out into this horrid river. Already he felt the small water creatures chewing the burned flesh from his submerged legs.
     Charon hung on the front of the boat until it cleared the overhang, and then guided it quickly to the river’s edge. Pulling the boat up onto the bank, he unceremoniously dumped the bodies onto the rocky shore. He picked up the torch he had laid on a boulder nearby, then greedily snatched up the purse and looked inside. It was full of coins—a small fortune. If he had retained any skin on his face he would have smiled broadly, but the hungry creatures of Tartarus had stripped his face bare the very first night he had spent there; he hadn’t even noticed—he’d been unconscious—dead actually.
     He set the purse down and picked up the cloak. Glancing into the water, he stared at his grisly reflection. It never ceased to amaze him that he was alive. He stared at the skeleton that rippled on the water’s surface. Squatting, he placed the cloak on his lap and leaned down close to the water. Two perfectly preserved eyes stared back from within a charred skull. How was it possible? It did not matter. Soon he would not be alone.
     He flipped the corpses onto their backs to have a good look at them. They were neither stiff nor bloated as he expected. He brought the torch close to the woman’s face. She was middle aged—not too bad looking. He carefully pulled her eyelids open. He anticipated the clouded pupils of the dead, but her eyes were clear. He nearly dropped his torch when her pupils suddenly contracted.
     Soon they will awaken, and I will have companions! he thought to himself. He was surprised the bodies were recovering from death so quickly.
     But, what poor Charon did not know was that these bodies had never actually been dead at all. The couple had ruthlessly governed a small village in southern Greece. They had been put into power by the sons of Cronus, and had abused their subjects to such a degree that they had been poisoned by their own people. The poison had been hemlock, and they had been given a near fatal dose. Their subjects were so happy to be done with them; no one had properly checked the bodies. Assumed to be dead, their bodies had been placed in a small water vessel and brought to the River Helikon for the funeral ceremony as Zeus had instructed.

* * * *

     Charon had followed a similar path into this cold, damp hell. Many years before the reign of the Olympian gods, the village of Malathria had prospered in the southeastern foothills of Mt. Olympus by the Aegean Sea. The villagers prayed to Pagan gods of the earth and sun and skies, and all was well until the sacrifices began.
     Small groups of villagers began holding secret meetings outside the village, and had begun the practice of human sacrifice. It had begun with the killing of captured prisoners that were the result of a skirmish with a nearby village. The residents of Malathria had prevailed, and had burned the other village to the ground. The battle had been particularly bloody and ruthless. Many of the villagers from Malathria had been tortured and killed during the early stages of the battle, and many of the remaining villagers were consumed by rage, loss, and revenge.
     Malathria’s leader was a wise and fair man named Charon. He had ordered that the prisoners from the neighboring village be released after they had sat in prison for nearly a year past the end of the bloody battle. Many of the villagers wanted vengeance and, to that end, the prisoners were secretly taken from the prison and burned alive along the shores of the Aegean Sea.
     Charon was furious when he discovered what his people had done. He declared that all would be severely punished. He had his loyal scribes make a list of all who were involved. The scribes did so, sealed the scroll with wax, and delivered it to him. Charon, without breaking the seal, delivered the scroll to his guards and ordered them to imprison all those on the list so that they could be punished. Had Charon looked at the list before delivering it to his guards he would not have ended up in his current situation, for many of his guards themselves were on the list, as well as their wives and friends.
     Charon ordered his guards to deliver the guilty villagers to him the following day in the center of the village, where he planned to address them. At midday, Charon’s guards were neatly assembled in the town’s center, surrounded by nearly the entire population of the village. He walked out to meet his guards, and asked, “Where are those to be punished?”
     His guards all raised their hands in unison and pointed directly at him. Charon was perplexed. The crowd laughed. He turned to look behind himself, thinking he had perhaps walked past the imprisoned villagers, but he was alone.
     “I am afraid it is you who are to be punished today, Charon,” said his head guard.
     “For what?” demanded Charon.
     “For not avenging the deaths of our dear villagers, who gave their lives for you, Charon. For threatening those who sought only to right what was wrong. For betraying the wishes of the village, Charon, we have decided to let you see what it is like to die for the betterment of your village, as did our soldiers.”
     “Are you mad!” screamed Charon. “You murdered those prisoners and burned our sister village and all their innocent families!”
     The chants of the crowd drowned out his protests. His guards tied his hands and placed a rope around his neck, then led him out of the village toward the nearby Helikon River.
     As they approached the river, Charon noticed a funeral barge had been assembled along its shore. He panicked and tried to run, but the rope round his neck prevented his escape. His guards dragged him to the river’s edge. His legs were then bound, and he was carried to the barge and placed atop the pile of dry twigs and branches that had been piled high on the small barge.
     There was nothing he could do now. The crowd had become silent, and as he was laid on his back on the pyre, he stared into the sky above. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining brightly, and wisps of feathery clouds glided overhead. A small fire was burning along the bank a few feet from the barge, and the smell of smoke snapped Charon back to reality. By the gods, they are going to burn me alive!
     The head guard pushed the contents of the small fire onto the back of his shield, and two other guards carried it quickly to the barge and dumped its contents into a small opening under the assembled twigs and branches. The small twigs snapped and crackled as they caught fire. Charon found himself crying as he had not since his childhood. The two guards waded out several feet into the river, then pushed the barge ahead of them until the current caught hold and swept the burning pyre and its lone passenger downstream.
     Charon remembered the pain of the searing heat as his body was ever so slowly engulfed in flames. He died a slow, painful death that day, and the Helikon River swept his charred remains underground a few miles from the village.
     That was many, many years gone by now, and Charon had not seen another human face, save one, in all those years. He had learned to survive in this cold, dark underground world. Nearly all the creatures of this world were sickly white, creatures of the darkness. Charon could not have imagined more hideous creatures if he had tried.
     Large reptiles lived here, the likes of which did not exist on earth. Their multiple heads darted this way and that atop long serpentine necks. Enormous wings somehow lifted their considerable girth from the ground and enabled them to fly throughout the nearly lightless caverns. They fed on other large reptiles that lurked in the shadows. Charon had called them drakons, which was a Greek name meaning fierce warriors.
     There were large nine-headed reptiles whose necks were so long and flexible that they reminded Charon of snakes. These creatures lurked in the deep underground lakes and rarely ventured from the water. Charon called them hydras, which means water.
     To Charon’s great relief, the large creatures had no interest in him. He had only bits of meat on his bones, and no longer reeked of death. Many years later, when the other humans arrived, their horrid stench would fill the caverns. The dead were reanimated in Tartarus, but they were in a continuous state of decomposition, strangely never worsening nor improving.
     It was the smaller scavenger creatures that had tormented him—especially the bats. The white bats, with their oversized razor sharp teeth and ridiculous under-bites. When he had first arrived in Tartarus, the bats were attracted to the stench of his seared flesh. During that first horrific night, they had hounded him without reprieve, swooping down, sniffing, and gnawing off the few bits of flesh that he still retained.

* * * *

     Charon left the two bodies lying on the rocky shore. He righted the boat and sat down on the chest of the male body.
     What other supplies should I request? The torches were his top priority. He hated the darkness; it was always dark. Small streams of light fell into the chasms that pocked this world’s surface during the day cycle; however, the heavy darkness soon diffused the light, and little reached the depths of the caverns in which Charon lived. It was like living at the bottom of a cold, dark well.
     Charon used his piece of charcoal to list a few other items. He requested wine, sandals, and a few favorite foods that he had enjoyed when he had been whole. Reaching over the woman, he grabbed his flask of wine, opened his mouth and poured some wine onto his tongue.
     Thank the gods I still have my tongue! The wine felt cool and refreshing as it poured over his palette and ran down the vertebra of his neck. Though his chest was pure bone, without skin or organs of any kind, he somehow could achieve a state of drunkenness if enough wine was poured into his mouth and allowed to run down and soak his dry bones. Charon assumed his bones must absorb the wine somehow. How completely strange his life was now…
     Eating food was even more bizarre. He would chew the food and savor its flavor with his wonderfully preserved tongue. Bits of food then fell out of his mouth onto the ground, where strange spider-like creatures fought over the leftovers.
     Charon was lonely, of course, but he had at least one companion in this icy hell. It had found him that first morning in Tartarus. His burnt body had washed into the shallow waters of the River Styx; he was quite dead. A cloud of the albino bats had settled onto his corpse and picked it clean of whatever flesh remained.
     Life slowly returned to Charon’s charred body, and as he became conscious, he realized, to his horror, that he was being eaten alive. He screamed and flailed his arms back and forth above his skeletal torso as a thunderous roar and growl bellowed from nearby.
     Charon feared he would be swallowed whole by the howling creature, which was obscured by the white haze of hovering bats. A large, shadowy form jumped and danced above and around him. The bats began screeching crazily, and suddenly they were gone.
     He sat up, and a huge three-headed dog sat beside him. Dead bats littered the ground around him, and the dog was bleeding from a multitude of bites and scratches. One head chewed on a captured bat, the other two tilted their heads and whined at him.
     He reached out to pet the creature, and it was in that moment that he realized his condition. He shrieked when he saw his skeletal hand from which all flesh had been removed. Charon curled and uncurled his fingers in confusion. His hand contained no muscles or flesh, yet he had complete mobility and function. It made no sense. His hand felt completely normal—there was no pain. He could feel the dog’s soft fur with his skeletal hands.
     Charon named the dog Cerberus, or demon in the pit, which he thought appropriate for the beast. The creature became his constant companion until he had traded it for the girl…

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are We The Next Hunger Games Society?

Do you think our world is heading toward a large apocalyptic event that could make a post- apocalyptic world like the one described in The Hunger Games a REALITY?

This morning I was thinking ahead to next week when I am planning to start a lesson on the ancient Fertile Crescent Civilizations. The Sumerians were the first people to create a written language, hence, they are the first people we have a written record for. They get the credit for being the first "civilization." So would you believe that this first civilized group of people also created the first known weapons of warfare? There you have it- humans at war from the beginning of recorded history...sad, don't you think?

Well, surely, several thousand years later, mankind must have evolved beyond barbaric killing, right? Sadly, I doubt in those millennia that there has been even one year where WAR did not exist somewhere... probably not even a day, or an hour, a minute... I would say we were nothing more than animals- except that animals don't kill for no reason- only WE do... WHY?

Flash forward several thousand years from the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia- this area is now modern day Iraq and Syria, still embroiled in conflict and human misery all these thousand s of years later...

I noticed that there are viewers of this blog in Pakistan and Egypt, and I was wondering what your generation thinks about this, specifically, do you think peace is possible in the Middle East? And what would it take to achieve it? Is the US helping you achieve peace/freedom? Or, do you feel the US should leave?

What do you think about the escalating tension between Israel and Iran? What can be done about that situation?

Do you think a nuclear conflict of some kind is inevitable?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Comfortable Writing Space

Where do you write and when?
I like to write in an open area that is relatively uncluttered. Anything out of place distracts and bothers me and keeps me from getting into the "zone."
Coffee shops, though cliche, work great for me! There s nothing to distract me and I can focus! Plus, there is something magical about the aroma of freshly ground and brewed coffee!
Another thing that usually ends in failure to launch for me is trying to write lying down, like on my bed, because I get way too comfortable and kind of start to doze off, or at least get tired...
I am a major night owl and prefer to write at night, when everyone else is in bed and everything is QUIET! (Which RARELY happens when you have 4 small children!)
Plus, it helps to have a buddy to write with- that way you don't feel like you are missing out on something! My wife likes to write as well, she actually got me into writing, so that works well. Plus, I am always looking for friends to meet at a coffee shop to write with... makes it FUN!

As for when? For me, writing is kind of a reward for myself, something to look forward to... I haven't gotten to the point where I have a really disciplined time-schedule yet; I am just writing for fun. If I ever am able to write for a living, which is every writer's dream, I will HAPPILY put myself on a more regimented schedule. Actually, one of my new year's resolutions is to get more disciplined with my writing...
How about YOU? Where and when do you write?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Epic Fail at Walmart...

So... I was so excited to have a dare and do something "fun" and youthful now that I am nearing old fartdom. The dare was to sing Aretha Franklin's "RESPECT" in a Walmart type store. So, I planned to get some pics of myself pretending to sing to in Walmart with some funny pics of customers and employees covering their ears. My 7 year old son even made me a construction paper microphone he insisted I use. I brought 3 of my 4 kids along, my wife, and my dad, who is a professional photographer. On the way there I had plans to get pics of me riding around on the store wheelchair/scooter chasing unsuspecting customers while singing terribly...  I thought I might pretend to serenade the elderly greeter... 

We got there, went inside, pulled out the cameras and within 2-3 minutes- the store manager was telling me that Walmart does not allow pictures to be taken inside the store!?? 
Now, had I not been a teacher, and 20 years younger, I may have tried to sneak into a different store and try it again- but alas... I am old and lame and I think that was the end of my dares in public places (However I could still be persuaded to do some dares that could be performed without getting arrested or kicked out of a store !)

loulouvoo said...
hi i'm loulouvoo,(from perfect 10) here's my truth and dare for you Truth What is the worst gift you have ever received? Dare Use lipstick and write the word “funky monkey” across your face. Keep it there at least 30mins. While walking round your local supermarket.
February 21, 2012 11:59 AM
Monica G Lopez said...
Loulouvoo, Your dare is e-pic! :) I wish I would of thought of it. :)
February 23, 2012 10:15 AM
Adam N. Leonard said...
Dearest Monica and Loulouvoo (you twisted freaks): I plan to fulfill your requests of me this weekend- so stay tuned... Also, please join my blog and post some of your writing or a link to your writing!!! :)
February 24, 2012 10:36 AM
Adam N. Leonard said...
Worst Gift: I was 8 years old and obsessed with the pratfall- I had mastered the fake trip and liked to fall over the couch, the coffee table, down the stairs, etc to get a laugh from my prepubescent friends... Well, I had invited most of my 3rd grade class to my birthday party that year, had asked my parents for and expected Star-wars action figures... The first present I took to open was from my parents. I pretended to fall out of my seat and fell onto the present to get a laugh and hopefully not bang up my action figure too bad... My parents scolded me and took the present from me as they lit my birthday cake. I thought that yelling at me on my birthday was pretty rude so when they handed me back my present to open it- I accidentally-on purpose let it catch fire over the candles. I thought this would have some terrific shock value and maybe get a few laughs- plus was payback for being yelled at me during my party. I figured I'd pat it out before C3PO or R2D2 got melted- But DANG! wrapping paper goes up like gasoline! I tried to pat out the flames but quickly gave up, tossed it on the floor and stomped out the flames by jumping up and down on the box- action figures be damned! Well... turns out the parents got me a hamster that year...
February 27, 2012 10:29 PM
Adam N. Leonard said...
By the way, that birthday story may or may not be true... remember making up stories is my hobby! (no hamsters were injured! I think I actually got a sweater for my 8th birthday!)
February 27, 2012 10:43 PM

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Truth or Dare Challenge

Truth or Dare Challenge

As a part of a new group of authors for young adults called TEAM TEEN AUTHOR, initiated by Julie CrossI have foolishly agreed to take part in the Truth or Dare Challenge.

So...all you ex-students of mine- here is  your chance to get me back for that C- I gave you in art class! Everybody else, maybe you're just having a rough week and need to take out your frustrations on a poor, defense-less author/art teacher...  Bring it on... (Be nice!!!) Post a question for me to answer truthfully and a dare, and I will pick one. I will either answer your question or take on your dare. If I do the dare I will post proof!! If I chicken out, I have to post a chicken pic on my blog for a week...sigh

Monday, February 20, 2012

Starting a New Writer's Blog

Hello everyone! I'm starting a new Writer's Blog where readers and writers can share ideas, win free books, connect with other writers, and get feedback on new writing. I'm starting things off with a Truth or Dare Game started by YA author Julie Cross. See her description below:

truth or dare: teamTEENauthor challenge

Complete Steps to hosting your own Truth or Dare Challenge

This is the post in which Google provides the top Truth or Dare questions and I reveal my answers...and if you want to play along...answer one of the questions in the comment section, then it's your turn to give me your very own truth or dare option.

teamTEENauthor membership badge

From Julie cross's Author Blog Site:
In order to kick-start my blog rebirth after it's long drawn out death, I'm challenging my fellow YA author friends to create an identical Truth or Dare post and let their readers pick a TRUTH question or a DARE in which we swear to provide photographs, video footage or some evidence of performing said DARE...in the case of a "DARE FAIL" the author will post the photo shown below on their blog for no less than one week regardless of whether it matches the blog's color scheme. This game could be your ticket into my exclusive club, teamTEENauthor. If you aren't a soon-to-be published or already published teen writer, you can still play your own game of truth or dare on your blog. Post the link to your own post in the comment section and I'll add you to my list of dare devils who took the challenge. 

 MOST COMMON TRUTH OR DARE QUESTIONS (originally posted by Julie Cross)

1) If your significant other said it was alright would you cheat on them? 

No! and if your significant other says this to you, something is wrong with your relationship...just sayin.

2) What is there about your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse) that embarrasses you?

He's way, WAY smarter than me.

3) What is more important than money?

Family, the feeling of self made accomplishments, being in love...not necessarily in that order.

4) When have you loved some one who has not loved you back?

I'm not sure this has happened to me...not real love.

5) When was the first time you had your heart broken?

6th Grade...Skateland....my boyfriend decided to moonlight skate (holding hands) with one of my best friends. I spent 2 hours crying in the bathroom. It was a horrific combination of heart break and humiliation, the kind where you can't tell where one feeling ends and the other begins.

6) When is it alright to mix love and business?

Well, I'm gonna have to say anytime, considering how I met my husband. It was the day I moved into my dorm in college. He was supposed to be my sophomore "Student Life Adviser." He took full advantage of that business type situation and I totally let him.

7) If you were given a chance to become invisible for one day, what would you do with this ability?

Possibly watch a favorite top secret recipe being made

8) If you could see 24 hours into the future what would you do with this ability?

I'd find out which celebrity was about to commit a major scandal and be the first to gossip it.

9) Who was your first crush with?

My first real crush was in 7th grade and it was the boy-next-door...and he was very close (in proximity) because I lived in a townhouse. We shared walls. He was also 16 and super nice, but patted me on the head in an affectionate, aren't-you-such-a-cute-little-kid kinda way. Needless to say, I was not happy with that reaction and gave up eventually.

10) When is it alright for your boyfriend/girlfriend to lie to you?  

This answer is all about timing. It is NOT okay to drop a giant bomb (and I mean a metaphorical bomb not the other kind) on your boyfriend/girlfriend at a moment that is not going to allow them time and space to absorb the information. In other words, you're a jerkface if YOU spill the truth when it's convenient for you, to make YOU feel better. Don't use the lame excuse, "I just couldn't live with myself if I didn't tell you I kissed _____ last night." So, lying temporarily to allow good timing in delivering bad news is okay. Otherwise, don't lie. It just gets too messy.

11) If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?

I would be semi-buff with an awesome guy metabolism and the ability to consume 20,000 calories in a day. Then I'd go somewhere with awesome food, like New Orleans and eat everything in sight. And if I had washboard abs, I would spend a lot of time feeling them.

Wanna Join the  Game? I (Adam Leonard) will play along with Julie's game and may accept any reasonable dares/truths that won't get me injured or arrested!!
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