Lessons learned in a locked bathroom


This is actually a photo of my bathroom door

Several years ago I was forced to read the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for an early education class. I hated it, I mean I really, really didn’t like it at all. But the strange thing was, I had no clue why I didn’t like it. It had a well developed main character, it had a lot of action and adventure, being a child’s book it wasn’t too complicated, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t until very recently when I had a little adventure of my own that I finally figured out why.

It happened like this:

I used the toilet, I washed and dried my hands, and then I pulled and twisted on the bathroom door knob. “Plop” It fell off and into my hand. I slowly opened my hand and stared down at the little, round door knob sitting merrily in my palm.

Hmm, that isn’t good.

Well, crud. How was I supposed to get out now?

First I tried to fit the stem of the door knob back into the hole it came out of. Nope, that wasn’t happening.

Then I grabbed the towel rack that was attached to the door and tried to jiggle the door open with that. Nope, that didn’t work either.


Fort Potty


Then I stood back and thought about my problem for a little bit. I wanted to get the door open, and as far as I knew there were only two ways to get a door open. I could try to get the locking mechanism in the door to unlock, but the hole the door knob fell out of was dark and I wouldn’t be able to see what I was doing, so that wasn’t a great option. Or I could pull the pins in the door hinges, much easier.

The first pin pulled out really easily with just my fingers. The second pin was another story. It was painted into the hinge (and maybe welded) and it wasn’t leaving without a fight.

I used a nail file to clean as much of the paint off of the  hinge pin as I could and then got a good grip on it and tried to pull it out with my fingers. It didn’t work. Then I got a toothbrush and used the handle to pry the pin out. That didn’t work either. Then I twisted strands of dental floss together into a cord (yes, I’m serious) wrapped one end of the cord around the head of the pin, and the other end around the floss box to use as a handle, and tried to yank the pin out like that. Waxed dental floss is really hard to hold on to. It didn’t work.broken Fbits5

It took over two hours and twenty different plans for me to finally fashion a toothbrush handle into a shiv and use that to pick the lock of the bathroom door.

“Woohoo, I’m free, I’m free!”

I cheered, I laughed, I gave my cat a hug. And then I realized why I didn’t like that book.

Never in the hours that I was trapped, did I sit down and feel sorry for myself and wait for prince charming to come along and save me from my potty prison. I got frustrated, I dealt with failure after failure, but I never stopped trying to solve my own problems.


Walk this way

The main character of Hatchet did a lot of brave things, and he over came a lot of little obstacles while trying to survive in the wilderness. But from the beginning of the book to the end, he always clung to the idea that some prince charming/rescue plane was going to come a long and whisk him away from his problem. His problem was he was stuck in the woods, but he stayed where he crash landed for a crazy amount of time, like months and months. In half that time he could have just walked home if he had tried to solve the problem himself.

Even as a very small child I would have never waited for someone else to come and save me.

So, that’s why I don’t like Hatchet.

Bathroom door fixed, mystery solved.


Spot light on Archer!


I would really love for everyone to get to know the people in my novels a little better, so I thought it might be fun if I interviewed the lead roles in the stories. I’m planning for this to be a multi-week blog article featuring Driftwood Island‘s Alley and Skyler, and also Monster in the Basement‘s Madeline and Archer. And then I’ll (hopefully) wrap it all up by introducing my two newest characters from my third book No place for fairy tales. I hope you enjoy this special feature article. Happy reading!

monster in the basement smash words coverArcher

Me: Okay (against my better judgment) let me introduce Archer, the sort of almost hero of Monster in the Basement.

Archer: What do you mean “almost hero”? I’m totally a hero. I’m awesome in that book!

Me: Um. . . yeah. . (nervously shuffles papers around).

Archer: I’m way better than even that Skyler guy. Psh, why did you even put him in a book?

Me: Uuuhhhhh.

Madeline: No you’re not! Skyler is soooo hot, and super sweet.

Archer: What?! How would you even know that, you’ve never met the guy.

Madeline: (shrugs) I talked to him in the green room before my interview.

Archer: Hey, no talking to hot guys without me in the room! And why didn’t anyone tell me there was a green room? What did you eat there? Was it the little donuts that I like? It was, wasn’t it?

Madeline: So you admit that Skyler is hot?

Archer: What?! NO! But you can’t talk to him without me there. ‘Cause, uhh, ’cause he’s got shifty eyes, yeah, and he might try something.

Madeline: Psh, shifty eyes!

Me: Okay, could we please get to the interview questions?

Archer: The guy doesn’t even eat pizza. You can’t trust a man that doesn’t eat pizza. I mean, I’m not even human, and I still eat pizza.

Madeline: Wow, your use of logic is. . . . stunning.

Archer: Thank you, smoochy bear.

Me: (I don’t think she meant that as a compliment)

Me: Okay, pizza, that ties right in with one of my interview questions. So, Archer, what is your perfect pizza?

Archer: Soft corn crust, refried beans and ground meat topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. And then you fold it in half and eat it.

Me: Isn’t that just a giant taco?

Archer: Yes, yes it is. (smiles creepily)

Madeline: Just like Skyler, Archer doesn’t really eat pizza. He just eats whatever flavor I order.IMG_0194

Archer: What?! I’m nothing like that pansy Skyler! I’m super tough!

Me: Uh huh, so your favorite song is. . . .?

Archer: Bad little boy cover by Ashe (he puffs out his chest a little)

Madeline: (she crosses her arms over her chest and raises one eyebrow)

Archer: Okay, maybe it’s Classic by MKTO. It reminds me of Madeline. (he looks over at Madeline with big doey eyes. . . she seems to be completely unaffected)

Archer: It’s our song.

Madeline: It’s totally not our song.

Archer: then what’s our song?

Madeline: The boy who murdered love by Diana Vickers. (shrugs)

Archer: Madeline, you’re so mean! (and he runs away sobbing)

Me: Uh, I guess that means our interview is over.IMG_0155

Spot light on Madeline

I would really love for everyone to get to know the people in my novels a little better, so I thought it might be fun if I interviewed the lead roles in the stories. I’m planning for this to be a multi-week blog article featuring Driftwood Island‘s Alley and Skyler, and also Monster in the Basement‘s Madeline and Archer. And then I’ll (hopefully) wrap it all up by introducing my two newest characters from my third book No place for fairy tales. I hope you enjoy this special feature article. Happy reading!monster in the basement smash words cover


Me: Please let me introduce Madeline, the lead girl hero of Monster in the Basement. Welcome!

Madeline: Thank you. (spends a few seconds smoothing out her pleated skirt and adjusting her tie after sitting down)

Me: Wow, you even wore your uniform today.IMG_0158

Madeline: Yeah I was feeling nostalgic, besides I kind of got used to wearing poop colored clothes.

Me: Yeah, sorry about writing that into the book.

Madeline: You should be.

Me: Okay, let’s move on to the questions, and then maybe I could talk to both of you.

Madeline: Both of us? Oh no, you didn’t invite him did you!?

Me: You mean Archer? Well, he is kind of important to the story.

Archer: And I couldn’t let you suffer through this all alone, my Cuppy-cake, Sweety-pie! (he bounds across the room, and scoops Madeline up in a hug)

Madeline: First the poop colored clothes and now this. (She glares at me, still trapped in his hug)

Me: What? He seems friendly.IMG_0136

Archer: Of course I’m friendly. Me and Madeline are going to be together forever and ever and ever’n ever. (he rubs his cheek on the top of Madeline’s head)

Madeline: (grumbles and tries to break out of the hug.)

Archer: (wraps his arms around her in a even more convoluted fashion, and chuckles evilly)

Madeline: (silently glares at me)

Me: Okay, now for the questions. Madeline, what is your favorite song?

Archer: Oo, oo, I know this one! Her favorite song is Tiptoes by Jayme Dee.

Madeline: (wiggles free enough to grab a spray bottle and whistle out of her purse)

Madeline: This is my interview and I’m going to answer the questions!

Madeline: (she blows the whistle loudly and than sprays water at Archer’s head until he releases her)

Madeline: Back, back! Now sit. (she points to the chair next to her’s and tweets the whistle again) Sit!

Me: You’ve brought a spray bottle and whistle. . . . to an interview?IMG_0194

Madeline: Yeah, I thought he might show up. Last week I found this great puppy training book that recommended whistles and water spritzers as good tools for teaching dogs to stop jumping up on people. I think they work pretty good. (she points the spray bottle menacingly at Archer, he leans away and winces).

Archer: You have no idea how damp my last week as been.

Me: (nervously scoots chair away from Madeline, and hopefully out of her spray radius)

Me:Okay, let’s get back to those questions.

Madeline: Oh right, my favorite song is Jaded by Aerosmith.

Archer: What!? Madeline, you’re so mean. You see the way she treats me! (covers his face with his arms and sobs dramatically and loudly. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t actually crying)

Madeline: Hey, stop that! Don’t make me spritz you again.

Archer: (instantly stops and lowers his arm, there’s no sign of tears ever being on his face)

Archer: (sticks out his lower lip and pouts at Madeline, blinking non-teary eyes at her)

Madeline: (rolls her eyes) Okay, fine my favorite song is Arms by Christina Perri. Are you happy now? (she asks Archer)

Archer: I can live with that.

Madeline: Okay, I’m ready for the next question. And I’m answering it! ( she points the spray bottle menacingly at Archer again)

Archer: Of course, my sweet.

Madeline: And no butting in this time, Archer, I mean it.

Archer: Me, butt in? I wouldn’t dream of it, my little fuzzle buns.IMG_0146

Madeline: ( she gives him one more squinty eyed look and then turns to me)

Madeline: Okay, I’m ready, what’s the next question? Ask it quick, before his changes his mind.

Me: Um. . . actually we seem to be out of time. (nervously scooting my chair away from them) But it was really nice talking to you both.

Madeline: We’ll talk again some other time, right?

Me: Gee, I’ve been really busy lately. I’ll have to check my schedule.

Madeline: This is all your fault, I know it. (she spritzes Archer in the head one more time before leaving in a huff)

Archer: (blinks a few times, calmly squeegees water off of his face)

Archer: So, when’s my interview?

Me: Um. . . . . let me get back to you about that.