I have, perhaps, the best job an author could ask for: babysitting my biggest fan and her younger siblings. Anna is my 8 year old cousin, and while she hasn't read any of my books for herself, she has had me read almost everything I've written. Sew, It's a Quest, Check. The Ankulen, she was my first beta reader. Do You Take This Quest? well ... we haven't got past the first few chapters, but as everyone agrees, The Ankulen is a very distracting book.
Right now the book she's having me read is Water Princess, Fire Prince. The notebook version in all its embarrassing choppiness. Ah, well ... it's not like I have a corrected computer version yet ...
I suppose I have only myself to blame. Maybe if I hadn't taken her to Rizkaland and let her sleep with a mistletoe muffin under her pillow and meet Edward and hear all about the Water Princess and Fire Prince from Bookdaughter Tnika, we'd be happily reading Do You Take This Quest? ... but then again ... maybe not.
"Hey, why don't we go outside!" I announce, deciding my throat is sore. "Anyone want to ride a bike?"
Of course even outside I can't escape from Rizkaland. Now we're taking a lovely stroll along the shore of one of the Rivs ... the yellow one ... I've forgotten it's name.
"Can we go swimming in it?" Anna asks, looking up at me hopefully.
I shake my head. "I don't recommend it unless you want to get sticky. Yellow water has a high concentration of sugar ..."
"Kendra ... who's that?" Mimsy suddenly asks, interrupting my train of though.
I look up to see a blonde-haired young lady with oriental eyes who only looks a few years younger than me and a black-haired younger girl a few years older than Anna. Both are wearing Rizkan garments and I know who they are at once. "Clara! Jasmine! You came!"
Having reached us, Clara, the blonde, gives a mock-bow. "Oh yes, high and mighty author of ours, we have obeyed your summons."
Jasmine wrinkles her nose as she looks up at me. "You're our author?"
"I am," I confirm. "And I've been your author for the last ... I don't know ... how long has it been Clara?"
Clara folds her arms over her chest. "It's been way too long."
I mirror her position. "You're right. It has been way too long. I should have published your book years ago, despite the writing being horrid and the book incomplete."
"Well, maybe if you didn't spend so much time on other books like your stupid Bookanias and Jen's book, maybe you'd have finished mine by now."
"Maybe, or maybe I'd have knitted a scarf long enough for the Statue of Liberty. There's just no way to rush the perfect book." Before Clara can protest further, I turn to Anna. "Anyways, I invited the two of you over so that you can meet my cousins. This is Anna - she's your biggest fan. Anna, this is Clara, the Water Princess and her maid, Jasmine."
"Really!" Anna exclaims. "You mean Edward's mother!"
Clara gives me a look of disbelief. "Edward's mother! Who's Edward?"
I shrug. "Your son, obviously. Now that I've gotten you over your hump of not liking the Fire Prince ..."
"I don't want to think about kids right now!" She whirls around and refuses to look at me.
I shrug and turn to Anna. "Clair doesn't like me very much. Hey, why don't you show Jasmine how to ride a bike ... or maybe she can do your hair. She's very good with hair!"
"Yes I am!" Jasmine exclaimed. "See Water Princess? I did her hair!" And off the two scamper, leaving Clara and I alone.
I stand in awkward silence for a few moments, until Clara suddenly whirls around. "Just how many kids am I going to have?"
"At least six."
"At least ... you mean you don't know? You know how many most of your Bookanians have ..."
"True, but you get two lives. Six kids while you're ruling Klarand, and I don't know how many you'll have in earth - if any."
"I see." Clara is silent for a moment. "So I hear you published The Ankulen today."
"Technically it was last night, but today's the official release," I confirm. "Everyone who's read it says it's good - even my mom."
"I suppose you want me to read it."
"If you want to. You know, Jen likes you a lot. It's a sad thing when two of my favorite characters don't like each other."
"I don't like Maryanne or Robin, either."
"Well at least Robin and Maryanne like each other, and Jen likes all three of you."
"Jen likes us as characters - doesn't realize that she's one of us."
"No, she doesn't. I don't know if I'll ever reveal to her that she's actually a character ... but I really don't think it matters. She's a cooperative character, she doesn't need me to point her in the right direction."
Clara gives me the Look. "And you're saying that I'm not a cooperative character."
I grin and shake my head. "You are most definitely not. Why don't we go see what Anna and Jasmine are up to. Maybe we could paint Jasmine's fingernails."
Clara laughs. "She'd like that."