Writing Contest High School Winner: Dragon’s Curse, by Justin McNabb

I am so very proud and excited to share with my followers an excerpt from my son’s book. Please feel free to leave your comments for encouragement and critique.

Nathan Lumbatis

Dragon's Curse Image

Chapter 1

I am running through my school. A roaring, white dragon crashes through doors and knocks lockers out of its way as it chases me. I look back and curse loudly. It’s getting closer. I try to run faster, but my legs seem heavy as if cinderblocks were tied to them. Then I run into a locked door and curse again. I slam my shoulder against it, but it doesn’t budge. I look back. The dragon is almost upon me! I slam again. Nothing! No, no, no! You can’t take me! NO!

“NO!” I yell, waking up in my bed. I’m dripping sweat and shaking. My alarm clock says it’s two o’ clock in the morning. I sigh and lay my head back down on the pillow. Same nightmare . . . again.

My mother opens the door, a concerned look on her slightly tanned face. “Eli, is…

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Beowulf: An understanding of great literature

Any home school parent knows that the end of one school year means a long to-do list to prepare for the coming school year. While we, HS moms, may not be considering the sales ads for summer clothes and back to school clothes or watching the stores for the trendiest backpacks, we are preparing school nonetheless.  How am I preparing for next school year? I am beginning my next literary challenge: Beowulf.

My son wants to study medieval history and we are doing it through a high school curriculum that is literature based. The first book on the reading list is Beowulf, or should I say it is the first poem. I have never read this poem so I checked-out Understanding Beowulf by Thomas Streissguth from the local library. I opened to the first pages and read the first lines of the Foreword several times with an agreeing smile, “‘Except for a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book!’” Oh, how true a statement! This was said by Charles Kingsley, a nineteenth century writer and teacher. He continues, “a book…’is a message to us from human souls we never saw. And yet these…arouse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open our hearts to us as brothers.’”

My daughter and I were having a conversation several evenings ago about Stephen King, a great author of our time. His books compel us into the dark recesses of our imaginations. (I could argue whether or not a Christian should be reading these types of books or even watching horror movies, but I, myself have enjoyed both.)  Back to the point, King, and other authors, has bared his soul in his writings. I would almost venture a guess that King enjoys pranks and exciting and surprising his friends and family. Whereas, if I were to consider the writings of C.S. Lewis and his soul which was poured into Chronicles of Narnia, he most certainly was a man who was never too busy to entertain a child with conversation or to listen to their imaginative play. His more mature writings reveal the teacher in him.

While no one knows for certain the author of Beowulf, this author, or scop (an entertainer who sung folktales for the entertainment of kings and their court) is known for his soul contained in the 3,182 lines of this epic poem.

Bookstores. Are they obsolete?

Last year, as I began planning to open a bookstore, I was asked numerous times, “Are you sure it is a good idea to open a bookstore when everyone is going to e-Readers?” I hesitated then…ran forward in the planning.

I ran forward in the plans for a bookstore after reading an article (in a hard copy magazine, which I picked up at the local Barnes & Noble) about small, mom-and-pop bookstores thriving while big-box stores are closing doors to their storefronts and focusing more efforts on the e-commerce side of their business. Why are the small stores thriving while big-box stores are not? They are personable. It is a wonderful feeling to walk into a store and be greeted by name and asked about the well-being of the family. It is that heartfelt concern for the customer guest in the store. Family owned businesses are run by those who practically live at the store, making customers “guests” in the owners’ second home.

The product? Hard copy books and magazines. E-Readers are handy and trendy but you can’t pass one along to a friend when they are in the hospital AND continue to read your next novel. You probably won’t leave it on Grandma’s nightstand at the assisted living so that the next family member or volunteer can continue to read aloud the following chapter. You won’t save it for the grandkids when your own children are done having you reading it for the millionth time at bedtime. You can’t tear out a page from an e-copy of Better Homes and Gardens to give to that savvy baker friend. Hard copy books allow us so many opportunities that e-Readers just don’t although the electronic copies are much easier to drop into a backpack or purse to read in the endless waiting rooms.

I, personally, enjoy sitting in bed, getting lost between the pages, then passing my latest adventure on to a friend so they can have the time of their life in the comfort of their own home…then pass it along again.


Different kinds…

Different kinds of people: “Why People” and “How People.”
“Why People cannot be at peace until they answer the question of why suffering has befallen them. They look backward and ask, ‘Why me?’ How People, on the other hand, ask, ‘How can I move forward?’ Having been dealt their hand in life, their focus shifts to how they can find whatever healing and wholeness is possible.”

Elizabeth Bonker, a 13 year-old nonverbal autistic, and her mother, Virginia Green, have inspired me, broke my heart, left me joyful for medical and therapeutic breakthroughs, and caused me to read much longer than I intended to at any given moment.

The quote above is from their collaborative writing, I am in Here. It is followed by one of Elizabeth’s many poems, as she uses her poetry to speak to the world.

The Things I Know for Sure

There is a God.

I am loved.

The sun will shine.

I will survive autism.

I will continue to read to the very end and I am certain I will continue to cry, laugh, rejoice, and cry some more! I only wish I had this in my hands when my own son was going through his meltdowns so that I could have understood just a small amount of why he may have been a tormented little soul.


Here is another blog you may find fulfilling: http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares/

Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, was challenged to list 1000 gifts (or blessings). She accepted the challenge and found herself living a life or joy and gratitude.

People who live a life of gratitude:

1. Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)

2. Make progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)

3. Report higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)

4. Feel closer in their relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)

5. Increase your happiness by 25% — (Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002)

Autism & Poetry

April is Autism Awareness Month AND Poetry Month. With this said, I will be posting poetry from I Am In Here, a book about a nonverbal girl with autism who finds her voice through poetry. Through her written word, she lets us into her world. The book is written by Elizabeth Bonker and her mother, Virginia Breen.

Be very aware of these special individuals, living in a world too often disconnected, yet similar, to ours and show your support to find a cure.

I sometimes fear

That people cannot understand

That I hear.

And I know

That they don’t believe I go

To every extreme

To try to express

My need to talk.

If only they could walk

In my shoes

They would share my news:

I am in here.

And trying to speak every day

In some kind of way.


Alas, Babylon



Pat Frank, writer of Alas, Babylon, may have been born in 1908 and may have written his classic in ’59 but he could have been writing today. Upon completing the first two chapters, I saw so many similarities with our world news today in that there are political powers across the globe who are threatening to attack and to make other countries extinct through weapons of mass destruction. It makes you ponder on history DOES repeat itself, indeed.

The inhabitants of these pages suffered a nightmare of Russian nuclear destruction and their lives (those who did not lose it) were changed forever. Children learned to be afraid of everyone and to hunt for their meals. Women learned to, not shop for food, but to skin wild game and be thankful for it. Honey was a treat where candy used to be the norm. Coffee was a trading commodity. Running water meant running from the river to the house….followed by boiling it for safety. Small town, Florida, was changed.

I will admit this is a bit out of my usual read but I am so glad I proceeded beyond the cover and entered the mind of Frank. I hope others will continue to enjoy it as well.