Conversations with Christopher: The Other Iama the Terrible

(Christopher sits facing a petite woman with shoulder-length dark hair, ivory skin, slightly slanted brown eyes who wears a red suit with golden buttons down the front.)

Christopher: I’ll admit, I’m confused. Right now Quartz is with another Iama the Terrible. I thought you were Iama the Terrible?

Maia: (She smiles.) Iama the Terrible was a villain in the children’s books my mother illustrated. My name is actually an anagram for Iama.

Christopher: Someone is worried, very worried about you becoming Iama the Terrible.

Maia: (Her smile disappears.) That would be Grace. Honestly, she’s too imaginative sometimes. Just because I got promoted doesn’t make me terrible. Nathalie encouraged her far too much in her storytelling, but what can I expect from Morisot’s daughters?

Christopher: It sounds like you didn’t care much for Nathalie and Grace’s mother.

Maia: I didn’t know her, not really. Oh, she was brilliant. One can see that just by looking at the books she wrote. Morisot was, however, extremely impractical. Her daughters picked up that impracticality. Both Nathalie and Grace spin fantasies right and left about the world around them, trying to make it a more magical place, and end up frightening themselves.

Christopher: While you’re more down-to-earth?

Maia: I want us to live well. It’s not enough to have a big house that Nathalie and Grace got from their mother. I want to turn it into a palace. I want to surround us with precious things, beautiful objects which will soothe and distract us from our pain. If I even wish to think of such a goal, I’ll need a job that doesn’t just pay well. I’ll need one that pays extraordinarily well. I’ll need to not just settle for being manager. I’ll need to take over the factory itself, make it grow, expand, even if that means sacrificing a few things to accomplish this.
Christopher: What do you need to sacrifice?

Maia: Well, our old way of life can’t continue, can it? Nathalie just walked away from it. Verity needs to change, to grow, to stop being a dull, somewhat old-fashioned little town. I’ll need to give up some time with Grace. Nathalie asked me to look after her while she went off on her mournful little soul-search and I’m doing my best, but Grace’s school tuition is expensive. Oh, we have enough to live comfortably, but that’s not enough. Not enough for the sort of lifestyle I dream of the three of us having. That’ll require serious effort.

Christopher: Just what have you done that Grace found terrible?

Maia: Well, I may have been a little harsh towards an employee who’s the mother of Grace’s friends in front of Grace. I’m not about to just start handing out vacations to people I’m not prepared to take.

Christopher: Did this employee need the vacation?

Maia: Well, it wasn’t like it was an emergency. Just some holiday time she wanted to take and spend with her family. You don’t see me taking any holiday time. I used to. I used to enjoy the holidays with Nathalie and Grace, but Nathalie just left. The times we spent together weren’t enough to convince her to stay. Why should I indulge other people in a frivolous waste of time when I know there’s no point to it?

Christopher: Maybe you see no point to it, but you’re the boss or manager at this factory, right?

Maia: For now. I intend to go higher. Much higher. All the way to the top.

Christopher: Perhaps, but the other people below are your responsibility, aren’t they? Their happiness while working at the factory is your responsibility?

Maia: Happiness, pah! Their productivity and welfare are my responsibility, not their happiness. They can find their own happiness. They can choke on it.

Christopher: Err, I see.

Maia: Lazy, ungrateful scabs, we’ll see how much they’ll continue to keep that up once I’m truly in charge. The way they smile at each other, taking it easy, never making any extra effort like my mother. They’re so content with what they’ve got. Well, not me. I spit upon their contentment.

Christopher: You do?

Maia: What right do they have to smile when Nathalie is gone? When I miss her so much, I want to scream? The only thing that makes the pain go away is work!

Christopher: Ah, I see.

Maia: I’ll get her back. Once I’m rich and powerful enough, I’ll make her come back. Grace, too. She’ll come around. Once we become truly wealthy, all thoughts of anything terrible will disappear. All of our troubles will go away. I’ll drown us in wealth until there’s no time to get lost in sad thoughts. Neither of them will leave me or doubt me, if I succeed.

Christopher: I’m beginning to see why Grace is worried.

Maia: What was that?

Christopher: Nothing. Thanks for stopping by.

Maia: You should thank me. There are several projects on my desk I could have made progress on while I was here.

Christopher:…

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=nf_target&fref=nf

Pausania is going to pick up where Phaedra left off last week. In fact, she would like to rant…only Phaedra is ready to argue…

“Men saw women swelling with life, only to be eaten with envy at the sight?” Men were always the villains of herstory as far as Pausania was concerned. “Don’t make excuses for them. Nothing can ever pardon them for what they’ve made.”

“What about what we’ve done?” I glanced at Pausania’s hand.

Intrigued by what you’ve read? Want to read the novella? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

 

 

Conversations with Christopher: Danyel and Tayel Return

Christopher: What are you two doing here?

Danyel: Surprise! Did you miss us?

Tayel: Wayward inspiration often steals our scribbler away. It led her back to the shadow of the hill where we dwell and the stories we’re a part of.

Danyel: What he means is our scribbler added a whole new section to A Godling for Your Thoughts? Isn’t that wonderful? She’s been meaning to revise that novel for months, only she keeps putting it off to work on other projects.

Christopher: That is wonderful, even though I wasn’t part of whatever she wrote. I feel a bit left out.

Tayel: Shadows play less of a part than substance many a shadow has become in A Godling for Your Thoughts?

Danyel: Heh, you just asked a question!

Tayel: Did not. That was the title. Not me.

Christopher: I wonder at our scribbler having the time to work on our stories. Isn’t she supposed to be finishing a draft of Wind Me Up, One More Time for Camp NaNoWriMo?

Danyel: Oh, she is! (He giggles.) I think maybe that’s why she wrote about us. She wasn’t supposed to.

Tayel: The temptation of the forbidden often lures a scribbler away from her sworn tasks.

Christopher: Heh, maybe we should be forbidden more often?

Danyel: Maybe!

(A red curtain appears behind Christopher, Tayel, and Danyel.)
Theodora: (from behind the curtain) Growwr.

Grace: (from behind the curtain) Theodora says don’t distract the scribbler! She’s in the middle of writing my bear’s moment of glory, her heroic turning point in our story. Don’t mess it up or she’ll send Alf, Leif, and Rolf to mess up your cottages!

Danyel: Um, what was that about? Who are Alf, Leif, and Rolf?

Christopher: I’m not sure if I have a cottage to mess up, or if I even still have the Navel. Sorry! Alf, Leif, and Rolf are three nisse who are in Wind Me Up, One More Time. If nisse are anything like brownies or boggans, we don’t want to anger them. They could well mess up your cottage, just as they’d be just as good as cleaning it.

Danyel: Cleaning it? Oh, Map might love to have one of these nisse come by for a visit!

Tayel: Or she might hate it, depending on whether they’re cleaning up a mess or making one. If you believe anything he says. (nods at Christopher)

Danyel: How do you know all this, Christopher?

Christopher: Well, I’ve had characters from Wind Me Up, One More Time show up every Monday this month for a conversation. I might also have caught a glimpse of the scribbler’s thoughts.

Tayel: Hah!

Christopher: Anyway it’s best not to distract the scribbler from her Camp project. It’s only for a couple more weeks.

Danyel: Aww…

Tayel: Imagination is a curious thing. You never know what might lure it in a certain direction.

Theodora: (from behind the curtain) Growwr.

Grace: (from behind the curtain) No luring!

Danyel and Tayel: (sighs)

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For mine, Phaedra is going to pick up where she left off last week in A Symposium in Space…

What would it have been like, to grow inside another woman’s body, being nourished by her, my heart beating inside her? It sounded terrifying, being that close to someone else, needing someone else so utterly and completely.

Perhaps if I had experienced such closeness, I wouldn’t seek it with other people. I wouldn’t need them so badly.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have been desperate for any kind of affection I might get from Pausania.

“Men might have done those things to fill the emptiness inside of them,” I murmured. “A child could never grow within their bodies. Maybe that inability to create life became a void they sought to fill.”

 

Interested in what you’re reading? Want to read the rest of the novella? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

 

Conversations with Christopher: Theodora Growls

(Once more Christopher sits in a chair facing a small girl holding her stuffed bear.)

Christopher: This Monday I’ll be talking with, uh, Theodora Bear. Hello, Grace. (He gies the bear a once over.) I think I’m supposed to talk to your companion, but she seems like the silent type.

Grace: Don’t worry. I’ll just turn her crank and tell you what’s she’s saying. It may just sound like growls, but Theodora always means something.

Christopher: Uh…

Grace: This cranks of hers is part of why our story is called Wind Me Up, One More Time. (Grace starts turning the small device sticking out of Theodora’s back.)

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: She says you smell dangerous. You’d better not hurt me. Theodora may be only a stuffed bear, but she’s from a mighty assemblyline of stuffed bears going back a great hunter.

Christopher: Really?

Grace: Yeah. According to Nathalie, a hunter called Theodora once battled a bear which attacked her village. Theodora killed the bear, only to find she had a cub. Theodora took the cub in and raised her herself. A toymaker in Verity, that’s our town, made a stuffed bear, which she called Theodora’s Bear. This is where you get the name ‘teddy bear’ from.

Christopher: Is that true? I catch glimpses of our scribbler’s thoughts. From what I’ve seen, that’s not accurate.

(A red curtain appears behind Christopher and Grace.)

Me: Actually, Teddy Roosevelt once refused to kill a young bear. Someone designed a toy bear afterwards, calling it Teddy’s bear. The toy was a hit.

Grace: Well, I like Nathalie’s story. It’s nice, isn’t it? Wait, Theodora has something to say. (She turns to crank.)

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: She says if I believe something is true, it’s true for Theodora. This is the way of not only stuffed animals and their children, but of all toys. What was that? (She twists at her bear’s back.)

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: The toys that she’s met, anyway.

Christopher: Have you met a lot of other toys?

Theodora: (after Grace twists) Growwr.

Grace: In our story, Theodora spends a lot of time with Carrot Monster. That’s Heidi’s stuffed rabbit. And there’s also Leif, Rolf, and Alf, the three nisse Heather takes home.
Quartz: (his voice coming from behind the red curtain) Those three had names? The rascals never told me!

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: Theodora says you never asked. Besides they might not have told you. A name is something a toy’s child gives him. Whether she says the name out loud or not is up to the child.

Quartz: Cheeky bear. Cheeky old geezers.

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: Theodora isn’t sure if the nisse even had names when they met you, Quartz. They only happened, the names Leif, Rolf, and Alf, in the draft our scribbler is writing now.

Christopher: For Camp NaNoWriMo?

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: Uh huh. Theodora says she’s finding out all sorts of this in this draft she didn’t know.

Christopher: Are you happy with how the draft is going?

Theodora: Growwr.

Grace: Sometimes our scribbler doesn’t get Theodora’s voice or growl right, but she will. Theodora will keep growling at her until she gets it right.

Quartz: You tell ‘er, sister!

Theodora: Growwr.

Me…(sighs)

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For mine, Phaedra will continue where she left off last Saturday in A Symposium in Space…

I’d been raised by Timea, my mother’s assistant, and a number of maternal substitutes.

My own mother had been too busy to bother with me. Donating her ova to a fetal creche had been her way of being gracious enough to offer her superior genes to society.

When I turned out to have little ambition worth notice, my mother lost interest in me. Timea had remained in contact with me before she died from space sickness, one of the few illnesses the doctors of the Intergalactic Democracy couldn’t treat.

Losing her made me think more about life and birth, the value of both.

 

Interested in what you’re reading? Want to read the whole novella? Here are buy links…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

 

Me Me Monday: Conversations with Christopher

(Christopher sits across from a young woman with bronze skin, with full, coppery curls which seem to float around her heart-shaped face. She’s wearing a loose, orange-golden blouse, a green pendant, and full, green skirts, keeping a leg crossed with relaxed casualness beneath the fall of verdure cloth. She relaxes her arm on the chair’s arm, fixing a bright, hazel eye upon the slender boy sitting across from her, whose short hair is as bright as hers, even if his tunic and trousers are much more dark and drab than her attire.)

Christopher: You’re a storyteller. (His own violet-blue, rose, and purple irises, swimming with shades of green, golden and silver regard the other character from another universe with avid interest.) I wonder if that accomplishment is impressive in your setting as it is in mine.

Nathalie: Oh, I’d defintely say so. At least I think so. (She grins.) The real storyteller was my mother. She’d collect memories, tales, ideas from all the places she’d visit and turn them into stories. With her partner’s help, that is.

Christopher: You mean Cassat, Maia’s mother.

Nathalie: Auntie Cassat. She was supposed to keep an eye on us when my mother left, but she had her own family to look after. Plus I was almost an adult. I didn’t want anyone looking after Grace but me. Eventually I came to my senses and let Maia help me with that.

Christopher: You, Maia, and Grace live together in a town called Verity. That’s a pretty name.

Nathalie: Isn’t it? Once it belonged to a girl, who was the town’s founder. She was an accomplished seamstress, who wanted to create her own designs for clothes and stuffed animals. She ran away to do it, but she couldn’t do it alone. The factory at the center of town was created by a group of local women trying to help her.

Christopher: This was your mother’s town, wasn’t it?

Nathalie: Born and raised there, until she ran away to see the world. She returned and started writing with Cassat until Cassat got married. After which, she ran away again, only to return to Verity with Grace and myself.
Christopher: Only she left again. Where did she go?

Nathalie: I’m not sure. It was about a year ago. I’d just finished school, but Grace was still very young.

Christopher: You and Grace are living together in Verity during Wind Me Up, One More Time, aren’t you?

Nathalie: Well, the story begins with me recalling a few scattered memories from the village we were born in. We live in our mother’s house for most of the story, only Maia comes to live with us. Marvelous stroke of luck, meeting her at the factory. I’d seen her before, but we never talked. She was Cassat’s daughter, but we sort of noticed each other in a way we never had, when Grace and I saw her artwork in the factory entrance.

Christopher: Sounds romantic.

Nathalie: It was. Maia starts visiting us, bringing food, spending evenings with us where I write, she draws, and Grace colors papers with crayon. These nights became so regular, eventually Maia moved in with us. Only she starts getting more serious when she moves in. Trying to push Grace into going to a particular school, for me to be more serious about my writing. She means well, but the pressure she puts on us make things a lot less comfortable.

Christopher: (sighs) Maia is starting to remind of a young man I know in my universe. (He smiles a wistful smile.) Meaning well doesn’t always turn out well.

Nathalie: It certainly doesn’t. We all mean well, but we make mistakes in this story. We try to fix them.

Christopher: You’ve got a much bigger part in this story than you did in the previous draft, don’t you?

Nathalie: Yes. I begin by talking a little about Verity, my vague memories of the place Grace and I lived before Mama adopted us. After that, I step in from time to time, describing a little of what’s happening from my perspective. It’s still Grace and Theodora’s story, but I’ve got a more active part.

Christopher: Are you looking forward to it?

Nathalie: Yes and no. Happiness and sadness await me in equal measure in this tale. I can’t say too much without spoilering things, but I’m both looking forward to the completion of this manuscript and dreading it.

Christopher: I’ve felt the same many times, believe me. (His sad smile turns into a wry grin) All I can say is good luck in getting through the emotionally rough parts. Savour the happiness when it comes.

Nathalie: The same to you. From what I’ve seen in the scribbler’s imagination, you’d best take your own advice.

Christopher: Yes, I’d better. (He sighs and gives a sideways glare.)

(I try to look innocent and fail.)

#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For mine, Phaedra will continue where she left off last Saturday in A Symposium in Space…

Doctors learned ways to cultivate and clone sperm from existing samples which had been carried from Ancient Earth. A brilliant young scientist created something called sohm, a substitute for sperm which could be used to create a fetus.

Women could hand over their ova to a fetus creche, where it could be grown in warm fluid filled with all the essential nutrients needed to develop it. This was a much more comfortable way of having a child than going through pregnancy.

I wondered if we hadn’t lost something in abandoning the rite of childbirth. I’d never known my mother, not really.

 

Interested in what you’re reading? Want to read the whole novella? Here’s where you can buy the book…

Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Symposium-Space-Feast-Words-ebook/dp/B07PGB15FY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BPACY58MCCMV&keywords=a+symposium+in+space&qid=1552937461&s=digital-text&sprefix=A+Sympo%2Caps%2C239&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130883509?ean=2940161507872

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-symposium-in-space

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/928136

Me Me Monday: Conversations with Christopher

Christopher sits on a chair facing a small girl with coppery curls and bronze skin, wearing a little red jacket and green skirt. She carries a large, brown teddy bear with a much smaller nose than more realistic stuffed bears which have been popular. It’s Grace, the main character of my Work In Progress, Wind Me Up, One More Time and her faithful companion, Theodora Bear.

Mist surround Christopher and Grace in this place with no objects other than the chairs they sit upon.

Christopher: I admit, I’m jealous. Our scribbler is putting My Tool, My Treasure aside so she she can work on your story during July Camp NaNoWriMo.

A red curtain materializes behind Christopher and Grace.

Quartz: (For once, it’s his voice coming from behind the curtain.) Now you know how I feel!

Grace: Hey! (She glares at the curtain and Christopher, squeezing Theodora.) Our scribbler was writing about me long before she thought of either of you! I’ve had to wait 30 years for her to come back to my story and I’m only a child!

Christopher: That’s right. You were in the very first story our scribbler wrote back when she was eleven years old.

Grace: That’s right. She wrote it in a teddy bear journal her best friend, Nathalie got for her. Nathalie told her to write all of the stories which were waiting inside her to be told. This is why the princess in that story, the one the original Grace rescues is called Nathalie.

Christopher: And your sister and idol, who raises you in Wind Me Up, One More Time is called Nathalie.

Grace: Yes. Our scribbler still has the teddy bear notebook. The story embarrassed her. A lot. She put it aside and didn’t look back at it for years.

Christopher: She didn’t forget you, though.

Grace: No, I suppose she didn’t. There was a steampunk call for Torquere Press. This made her starting thinking of Wind Me Up, One More Time, of going back to that first story and making it better. Of making Ted Edward Bear Theodora Bear. She had this idea, where Theodora was going to go from being stuffed to clockwork. Some of that idea went to Maia’s artwork in the factory.

Christopher: Maia?

Grace: I’ll get to Maia. You’ve got to tell this in order. It’s a storyteller thing. Ask Nathalie.

Christopher: (who doesn’t mention that he’s also Happily Ever After and knows a few things about storytellers himself, but that’s in his universe, this is Grace’s) Ah.

Grace: Anyway Torquere Press stopped paying people and went out of business. Wind Me Up, One More Time sat all lonely, without any place to tell it or any reason to go forward. Others stories had places. It didn’t.

Christopher: Yes, my own story has often stopped, because other stories or blogs were more pressing. Please continue.

Grace: Our scribbler offered a Wind Me Up, One More Time to Nine Star Press, a changed tale from the one rattling around in her head. She was trying to make it a holiday story. It’s still a holiday story actually. Only Nine Star Press didn’t want it. She offered it to Mischief Corner Books. They said with a few changes, it might be just right for Shenanigans Press.

Christopher: Which is Young Adult. So that’s what our scribbler is working on for July Camp NaNoWriMo. A revised version of your story.

Grace: Revised means changed, doesn’t it?

Christopher: Yes.

Grace: Uh huh, only she’s really changing it. There’s so much more in Wind Me Up, One More Time, stories within stories. Nathalie has a much bigger part, too. I’m not sure where it’s going. I hope our scribbler can finish it by the end of the month.

Christopher: Don’t count on it. She didn’t finish My Tool, My Treasure by the end of April, even though she made the word count goal of 50,000 words. The rest of the story has to wait for NaNoWriMo.

Grace’s low lip begins to tremble.

Christopher: Um, well, I could be wrong. The scribbler seems to have an idea of where she’s going with your story.

Grace: Yes, but scenes keep surprising her. There’s a lot more.

Christopher: What is Wind Me Up, One More Time about?

Grace: Nathalie and I live in a town called Verity our mum brought us to. It’s mostly women and girls. Our factory in the center of Verity is where almost everyone works. It’s kind of old-fashioned. Just like Verity itself. Our mum is missing. Nathalie tries to be my mother when she’s gone, but it’s hard, even with Maia, her special friend helping. Nat is very good at telling stories, maybe too good. I keep taking them seriously, seeing all sorts of things because of them, and telling more stories myself, which other people keep telling me aren’t real.

Christopher: This sounds bad, only telling stories shouldn’t be bad. Stories can be wondrous, magical, giving us hope.

Grace: Oh, yes! (She nods eagerly, bouncing in her seat.) They are, only people keep telling me they’re not. Maybe we’re both right. (She cocks her head to the side.) Maybe these stories are good and bad, even at the same time. Still I’m never alone during these stories. (She holds out her bear.) I’ve always got Theodora as a companion. (She settles Theodora on her knee and turns a tiny crank in her back.) Say hello, Theodora.

Theodora: Growrr.

Grace: (She giggles) That’s stuffed bear for “Hello”.

Christopher: Theodora was orginally Ted Edward, wasn’t she?

Grace: (She giggles again.) Our scribbler made her first story a tale within a tale. Only Theodora is still Theodora in it. Our original selves; the first Grace, Princess Nathalie, and Iama the Terrible are all part of a series of books. Our mum along with Maia’s mum wrote and did all the pictures in them.

Christopher: Iama the Terrible?

Grace: (She snickers a third time.) That’s Maia. Move the letters of her name around and you get Iama. Iama is the villain in the books, who captures Princess Nathalie until Grace and Theodora save her.

Christopher: Maia’s mum named her after the villain in her stories?
Grace: Auntie Cassat can be weird. Not that Maia minds. She’s very good at pretending to be Iama the Terrible. It’s only when she’s truly Iama the Terrible she’s not.

Christopher: I guess that’s part of the plot, but let’s return to your Auntie Cassat. Is that the name of Maia’s mum? The same as the Impressionist painter in the scribbler’s world history?

Grace: Yup. Our mum and our last name is Morisotte, like another famous painter. Only the spelling is different. If Lemony Snicket could have children with a name like Baudelaire, why can’t we be Cassat and Morisotte?

Christopher: (He smiles a little.) It sounds like something our scribbler would do. She already has Byron and Shelley in another Work in Progress, On the Other Side of the Mask.

Grace: Hmm? What’s that?

Christopher: Um, you might be a little young for that. Besides we’re talking about your story, remember? It sounds complex.

Grace: It sure is! I’m a child, but I grow up a bit and away. That’s what Theodora calls it when a stuffed animal’s child get older and isn’t around as much. I grow up and away, but I try to come back, bringing Nat and Maia back to. This was all part of the first holiday story.

Christopher: Well, I hope you have fun on your journey expanding your current story during Camp. I learned all sorts of things about myself in April, when part of My Tool, My Treasure was written.

Grace: Really? I hope I do, too! (She bounces in her seat, almost bobbing down in excitment, bouncing a long-suffering Theodora along with her. The things a stuffed animal endures for her child.)

Christopher: Just watch out. What the scribbler wants isn’t always what we want.

Grace: What?

Christopher: Never mind. Good luck!