Writing & Math Puns: Fiction Like You’ve Never Seen! (Or not…)

Several years ago I was part of a group project in a math class for education majors that involved building a structure out of geometric shapes, analyzing all the math involved, and then–just for kicks–writing a story to accompany it.  Well, my group chose to build a castle, and I begged to be allowed to write the story for it.  They said OK (probably to shut me up), and I put together a short story with as many math terms thrown in as I could think of, just for fun and silliness.  If math is something that normally makes you scream and run for cover, don’t worry; this particular piece is very nonthreatening.  It’s got adventure, high stakes, and even a hint of romance.  Well, a very slight hint.  So, for your reading enjoyment (I hope…), here it is:

A Sequence of Events in the Kingdom of Numbers

     The kingdom of Numbers was vast and magnificent.  From far and wide people came to marvel at its many glorious achievements.  Once hardly more than crude scratchings in the dirt, the kingdom had expanded its notation to include proofs and theorems as far as the eye could see, even from the top of Mt. Median, the great mountain in the center of the kingdom that overlooked each of the kingdom’s four quadrants.  Yes, it was truly a land to which there was no equivalent.

     But this grand kingdom was in trouble.  From parts unknown a terrible foe had come and taken over the castle that stood on Mt. Median, a dreadful creature called the Mighty Googol with awesome powers of ten at its disposal.  In desperation, the king called a council with the members of the highest order of the realm, the Order of Operations, and its wise leader, the Cardinal Number.  Together they agreed that any and all champions of the kingdom must be summoned to face the creature, for it had issued a challenge that few might accept:  a battle of wits, winner take all.  A call went forth for a hero to defeat it, but none could be found who was a match for the Mighty Googol.

     It was at this time that a young Number from an outlier arrived at a village that rested at the base of Mt. Median, having left his home to seek his fortune in the world,as young Numbers will do.  He had not been in the village long when he heard rumors of the Googol.  Wanting to learn more, he decided to strike up a conversation with a young lady passing by.  Besides, he thought her to be quite a cute angle.

     “Pardon me, Miss…?”

     “Gon,” she said.  “But you can call me Polly.”

     “I’m Seven,” he introduced himself.  “But most people just call me Lucky.  Tell me, Polly, what are these rumors I hear of the Googol all about?”

     “Oh, it’s terrible!” Polly exclaimed.  “Since the addition of the Googol to our fair kingdom, division abounds, and problems are multiplying everywhere.  It’s enough to subtract years from your life!  The Googol has issued a mathematical challenge, but no one will accept it.”

     Well, right then and there, Seven vowed to solve the problem.  Moved by his courage, Polly offered to lead him to the castle, although she knew that in all probability their odds were not good.

     When they reached the castle, they knocked on the great wooden doors and heard the sounds echo on the other side.  As the doors swung open with a loud c-r-e-a-k, Polly glanced worriedly at Seven.  He smiled back encouragingly.

     “Who dares accept my challenge?” a great voice roared out, and the Mighty Googol strode out menacingly from the shadows.

     “I do,” Seven answered.

     The Mighty Googol blinked in disbelief.  “You?  You pipsqueak!  You’re hardly big enough to wield a straight edge, let alone challenge me.  You must be mad to think you’re a match for the Mighty Googol!”

     “Well, I’ve always been an odd number,” Seven admitted.

     “So be it!  You must pass three trials of my devising.  First…balance this equation!  If you can,” the Googol snickered, throwing open a door on his left to reveal a nasty bunch of numbers perched precariously on a tottering seesaw over hot coals.  Patterns of tessellations spun dizzily around on the wall behind them, making everything seem to wobble over the flaming coals.

     Polly gasped.  “Seven, you can’t possibly solve this!  I can barely keep my balance just looking at it all!”

     “There’s only one way to solve a problem like this,” said Seven grimly.  “By working backwards!”  Turning his back to the dizzying display and stepping carefully, the young would-be hero had the entire equation balanced before you could say “additive inverse.”

     “Curses!” muttered the Googol.  “All right then, if you’re so clever, let’s see how you do with a little logic problem.  Where does 10 plus 3 equal 1, smartypants?”

     There was a tense moment as Seven furrowed his brow and mulled over the question, then a slow smile spread over his face.  “On a clock,” he answered triumphantly.

     The Mighty Googol shook a fist at the young Number.  “Aargh!  100 percent correct so far, but now you face my final challenge, and in my estimation you’re unequal to the task:  present a mathematical problem that the Mighty Googol cannot solve!”

     Polly’s heart sank, her newly sprung hopes dashed.  How could such a problem exist?

     The Googol bent down until he was eye to eye with Seven.  “Well?” he sneered?

     Seven didn’t even blink.  “Calculate pi to the last digit.”

     The silence that followed seemed to echo throughout the castle.

     “You’re probably going to want paper and pencil for this,” Seven added.

     And so it was that a bright young Number in his prime beat the Mighty Googol at his own game and saved the kingdom of Numbers.  Legend tells that even to this day you can hear the sound of scribbling in one of the castle towers as the Googol churns out digit…after digit…after digit.

The End

(My apologies if I’ve scarred anyone for life when it comes to math…)

To Tickle Your Funny Bone

I realize these have nothing to do with writing, but I thought I’d share a few of the classic things my kindergarten students have done or said this year that made me smile or do a double take because, hey, everybody can use a laugh now and then, right?

1)  I was teaching my kindergarten class a new math game that involved frogs and lily pads, and the following conversation ensued:
Me: Did you find the number you were looking for on the lily pad?
Student: Ribbit.
Me: I’ll take that as a yes.
Student (genuinely surprised): How did you know what my ribbit meant?
Me: I speak fluent frog.
Student (seriously): No, you don’t.

2)  Redheaded Student: There are two other redheads in my family. My sister and my cat. And my cat is my brother.

3)  The Kindergarten Version Of Abbott And Costello:
Me: [pointing to illustration of a boy in a book] Now this is Rex-
Student 1: Teacher, who is that?
Me: That’s Rex.
Student 2: Who is he?
Me: Rex. Now, [reading] “Rex can see the–”
Student 1: [pointing] Teacher, is his name “see”?
Me: No, this is Rex.
(Sometimes our progress through a book is slow…)

4) Little girl [claps with delight, eyes shining]:  My mommy’s going to buy me a pet goldfish, and I’m gonna feed it and feed it and feed it until it dies!

Me:  Um…

5)  Student:  Teacher, I have a dog, and guess what kind it is?  A canine.

6)  Me: Now you guys tell me what sound is the same in all three of these words: gate, pat, foo–
[student raises hand]
Me: Is it an emergency?
Student: Yes. My butt crack is showing.

7)  One little girl was busy writing a 3-sentence story and already had the first two sentences done, so I asked her to read what she had to me:

Student:  Once there was a little girl.  She went for a walk in the forest.

Me:  How’s the story going to end?

Student:  It’s a mystery…

New Interview

Romance Reviews Today has an interview with me posted on their blog today.  Thanks again to Patti for having me on the site as a guest!

Romance Reviews Today–as you may have guessed–does reviews of romances along with occasional book giveaways, so check them out if you’re in the market for some new reading material and want some recommendations.  And if you’re interested in reading the interview, check that out here.

Happy Friday!  (TGIF)

Edits on Second Book

My editor recently sent me her notes on my second manuscript, The Bargain, and now I’m busy working on the changes she suggested.  Fortunately, she was very happy with most of it, and there weren’t any major changes to make.  You know, like killing off a main character, changing the hero’s name from Gonzo to Anton, or, say, redoing everything between chapter one and the epilogue.

Whew!  [wipes forehead in relief]

But there are a few things to tweak, so I’m working on that now.  And, no, I didn’t really name the hero Gonzo, but wouldn’t that be cool if I did?  There aren’t enough romantic leading men named after Muppet characters, in my opinion–even though the sparks that have flown between Kermit and Miss Piggy for years are downright legendary.  Someday their story will be told…

In the meantime, though, back to work.  🙂

New Review of Coming Home

Amanda at Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews just posted a wonderful review of Coming Home on Goodreads that left me grinning from ear to ear.  Yay!

Take a look here, and thank you to everybody who has taken the time to post a review.  It’s much appreciated!

Have a great Sunday!

Out Guest Blogging Again

Kim over at Read Your Writes Book Reviews was kind enough to do an author interview with me, which she has posted on her website today right here.  I’d love to hear feedback, so if you get a chance, please let me know what you think either in her comments section or mine.  She’s got a pretty full schedule but plans to read and review Coming Home as we approach summer, so I appreciate her squeezing me in.  She also sounds open to having me send her The Bargain when it is ready, too, so…thanks, Kim!

Kim does lots of reviews, so check out her site if you’re looking for potential summer reads this year.  (And, yes, I realize summer is still a couple of months away, but as a schoolteacher, I cling to the hope of summer like you wouldn’t believe.  So please be gentle with me and just let me have my fantasy that summer is right around the corner.)  🙂

Upcoming Young Author (Wink, Wink…)

Just because I think it’s important to keep one’s finger on the pulse of future trends and that sort of thing, I wanted to share with you a work by a wonderful new author.  This is a young man to watch for in the future!  He does his own illustrations, too.  He’s versatile! He’s creative!  He’s multi-talented!

He’s six!

Here is a sampling from a kindergartener’s debut book, entitled Introducing Betta.  He was understandably very proud to share it:

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This young man has written a personal narrative about his beta fish named, as you can see, Betta. Within its pages, he highlights his daily interactions with his beloved pet and educates us about Betta’s habits and preferences, as in the excerpt below:

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Like I said, this is an author to watch for, and he’s also very prolific, as you can see by what he included on the back of his book:

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I must admit to feeling a little intimidated knowing that, at age six, this young man has not only published a debut book but also has three more on the way.  The titles, in case you can’t make them out, are:  Best Friends; Look at Him; and Take Care.

If I’m going to have any hope of keeping up with this budding new talent’s pace of churning out books, I’d better cut this post short and get back to my next novel.

Oh, and don’t worry–I’ll let you know when the Betta sequels are available in stores.

(Rumor has it, there’s talk of optioning the movie rights…)

Glamour & The Real World: Guest Blog

Today I am a guest blogger on the RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk Website.  The topic is glamour and the real world, with a specific emphasis on kindergarten since, you know, that’s kind of my specialty.  They also showcase my book, Coming Home.  Please feel free to check it out and leave a comment on their site to enter a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.

Hope to see you there!

(P.S.  Happy tax day)

Book Review: The Older Woman

I think category romances tend to get a bad rap, because it seems like lots of folks dismiss them pretty quickly as “fluff.”  Well, some of them are fluff, it’s true, but–as is the case for pretty much any genre or category of book–there’s a wide range of books to be found within category romance.  I stumbled onto a book about ten years ago called The Older Woman by Cheryl Reavis, and it turned out to be a gem.  In my humble opinion, at least…

Oh, who am I kidding.  I’m not that humble.

But about the book…It’s told from the hero’s point of view, which I don’t see too often in romances.  He’s a paratrooper recovering from severe injuries, and the heroine is a blunt and no-nonsense nurse who helps care for him during his recovery.  (I believe the author is or was a nurse, too, so I think the medical details are pretty authentic without taking over the story)  The heroine is also a breast-cancer survivor, and her experience with the disease has left her with some issues of her own.  There’s humor, there’s emotion, and it’s a very worthwhile read.  I wouldn’t call it G-rated, but it’s relatively tame as far as bedroom scenes and language go.  The focus is more on the emotional relationship that develops between “Bugs” Doyle and Nurse Meehan.

So it’s a book I definitely recommend.  If it sounds like it’s up your alley, here’s the link to the Kindle edition on Amazon:  The Older Woman.

Happy reading, and if there’s a great book out there that you would recommend, please share!

Review of Coming Home

I’m a happy camper because I just got a glowing review of my book, Coming Home, by someone who isn’t a relative, friend, coworker, or anyone else who might feel at all concerned about crushing my fragile feelings with criticism of my writing.  The reviewer is a blogger who specializes in reviewing books.  I’m her official April 9th entry.

Yay!

Here’s the review, if you’d like to check it out:  The BookFinder Blogspot.