Friday, July 25, 2014

Alien Creatures In My Yard-UPDATED!

I pondered it. Studied it. Looked it over. A man of inaction, that's me.

But the alien objects in the backyard fascinated me. Not the kind of illegal human aliens that disturb my mother so much, either. Two ginormous, not quite brown, sorta' purplish, definitely not a color of this world, clumps had sprung up in the yard. At first I thought they were droppings from my dog after a particularly hearty meal. My mind tried to wrap around this new bizarre life-form. But everything logical went out the window. Feh, logic is overrated. A soft caramel center beckoned, yummy looking for those culinary inclined. Yet a hard brown exterior suggested an exoskeleton or a tough caramel wrapping. I investigated, Encyclopedia Brown, just dumber.

The strange creatures were soft to the touch, yet sticky. Definitely anchored into the ground by stems or tentacles. A poofy cloud of red dust flumphed up when I nudged them. Staggering back, I held my breath, scared to death I'd turn into a pod-person. The surrounding grass bled into a brown color. The sky melted, lucy in the sky with diamonds.Trippy.

Here, lookie:
Truly I believe I've discovered a new alien life-form.

Aliens, who can figure them out? All they seem to be interested in doing is anally probing males and impregnating females. And dropping weird eggs in my yard. Guys really need to get a life.


It fell upon me--my duty as a humanitarian--to stem the alien invasion starting in my backyard. (And, um, the yard needed to be mowed). So I plowed the mower over the alien artifacts. Something popped like an inflated paper-bag. Plumes of red smoke billowed into the air. Suddenly I felt strange, feeling the need to do something drastic like impress Jodie Foster or whatever. The grass surrounding the eggs changed color. I mowed over it again, ensuring the human race's survival. A half of a husk, or eggshell, remained.

Here are the results:

 It was a close call. But we'll live to see another day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Survived the Polar Vortex!

So, I lived through the "Polar Vortex," and not much changed. It's kinda' like how I thought I'd be feel a lot different once I turned 21. What a disappointment that was.

Still, It's hard to gauge because l have no idea what a Polar Vortex is.

My wife said, "There's a Polar Vortex coming." I said, "What's that?" She answered, "Look it up."

Well, my wife likes me to use my brain, something I'm not accustomed to. Almost a game we play to see who can be more stubborn. Instead I went into full survivalist mode, loading up on canned tamales (a must) and winter gear. I was scared, who wouldn't be? My wife sounded like one of those ominous characters from "Game of Thrones" constantly warning that "winter's coming."

Then my wife decided to shake things up some more. She added that the Polar Vortex will be accompanied by a "Super Moon." A what? You mean,  the regular moon is in some sort of Clark Kent mode?

I counted down the seconds until the event like a kid marking the days until Christmas. The Big Event arrived. The first night, the temperature dropped into the 50's. Very odd for July in Kansas. I blame it on global warming. The moon looked blood red, nothing super about it. But, honestly, the event didn't live up to my apocalyptic expectations. I was sorta' looking forward to apes gaining intelligence, computers running rampant, Big Brother slapping me silly. Where's my dystopia, dammit?

Instead I got a little chilly. A few sniffles, some sneezes, no biggie. I'm going to wear a t-shirt with a slogan reading, "I survived the Polar Vortex and all I got was this dumb shirt and a cold."

The next time it's the end of the world, it better be more satisfying.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Interview With a (Half) Vampire

This week I got lazy and sent out my character, Tex McKenna, teen witch guy, to interview another male witch, Rune, from the very entertaining Witches of Galdorheim series. The following interchange was recorded and being shared with readers below.

Rune: Well, we’re witches, as Tex would agree. Right, Tex?

Tex: Um, yeah. But let’s use our indoor voices, okay? I’d rather this not go on my permanent record. I’m just an ordinary kid trying to survive high school.

Rune: So were you born a witch like I was or did you pick up some magic along the way?

Tex: How did you hear about me again? Yeah, I’ve learned a few spells thanks to my mentor, Mickey. Wish I knew more so I could turn my high school bullies into toads.

Rune: You’re going to make me guess, huh? Well, I’d say.... Cool, you’re a halfling. So am I! But my other half is vampire. Which sucks! Yeah, yeah, I use that joke way too much.

Tex: Okay, Rune, you’re kinda’ freakin’ me out here, although it’s a pretty good joke. Do I need to rub garlic on my neck or something? You know, “halfling” smacks of “Tolkien-ism.” But, yeah, my mom was a witch so I inherited this pain-in-the-butt curse. Unlucky, that’s me.

Rune: You grew up in Kansas? That’s too funny. This isn’t Kansas anymore and all that Wizard of Oz stuff. How the heck do you learn anything about magic in Kansas?

Tex: Sigh. The Kansas jokes never grow old. Except…yeah. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit Kansas sorta’ sucks, but again, it’s not like I chose my birth-place. Besides, Kansas is the center of a country-wide pentagram, the home of magic.

Rune: We have a school on Galdorheim. We witches are born with witch power, but we have to go to school to learn how to use it. We pretty much go with the basics. Runes are words of power. You can direct a rune or set of several runes together and send them out to do whatever you want. We use wands sometimes to help the spell go in the right direction. Once we get good at it, we can say or even think the spell words and they’ll work. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

Tex: Now you’re making me feel like a slacker. Basically I use magic to keep alive. And find out who the murderers are at my high school. Seems like there’s a ton of ‘em. The most practice I get? Running from bullies and in and out of trouble.

Rune: I’m sorry about your dad, by the way. Maybe you guys could come to Galdorheim some time. We have a terrific healing practitioner, Glinda. She can fix just about anything. Maybe she could fix your dad. I don’t know about mutltiple...what was that again?

Tex: Multiple Sclerosis. Thanks for the offer, Rune, but Dad would never go for it. He’s about as stubborn as a mule, especially if witchcraft is involved. Not his favorite topic. Anyway…what’s life like in Galdorheim? Do you guys have to suffer through dodge-ball and sadistic gym teachers like we do?

Rune (laughs): No, nothing like that, but bullies live everywhere. My sister, Kat, was tortured by a stuck-up witch named Merry. One time, that b-itch (like my sister used to say) almost slapped a humongous spell on my sister. At school! Lucky for Kat, I was there to stop Merry before she could finish it. Then there’s the Wolf Pack. My friends joined the pack, but I didn’t dare since I’m already half vampire. Can you imagine a combination wolf-vampire? Even I shudder to think about it.

Tex: Actually, it sounds kinda’ cool. Speaking of all things weird, I’m a big horror film fan. How close do the flicks get to portraying vampires? You like old-school Lugosi or new-style sparkly dudes?

Rune: Sparkly? Oh, I know the one you mean. That’s just ridiculous. I have watched my share of old-school, as you call them, vamp movies. Personally, though, I’m more a science fiction fan. I watched Star Wars (the good ones) about a zillion times. Of course, we don’t get many new movies above the Arctic Circle. That’s where Galdorheim Island is. We have a magical environment dome over the place where we live, but most of the island is a glacier.

Tex: May the Force be with you. Hey, I’ve seen a picture of your sister, Kat. She’s kinda’ cute (but, gah, don’t you dare tell my girlfriend, Olivia, I said that). Sorry, sorry, sorry…blame it on witchcraft.

Rune: Gah, for sure. I wouldn’t tell her she looks hot. That’s not a very brotherly thing to say. But she is. Problem for her on Galdorheim she hates all the boys. Mostly because of the Wolf Pack thing. She was not a happy witch when they caught her in a dark alley. They didn’t hurt her, but scared the snot out of her. So, she hates all those guys. I guess that’s why she took up with Andy. He was a troll when they met, but it turns out he was really a human after all.

Tex: She’s dating a troll? Think she’s slumming, but it takes all kinds, I guess. You got a girlfriend? Maybe we could, like, double-date or something some time as long as you promise to keep your fangs to yourself. Um, do you have fangs?

Rune (exposing fangs): Yeah, but I don’t show them off much. I did have a girlfriend named Nadia, but I haven’t seen her for a long time. Ever since that thing with Glaistig in Scotland, I’m kind of staying away from women now. Nadia was nice, though. She was a Sami, a Siberian tribe of hunters, just like Andy turned out to be. Kat is half Sami herself. I know, I know. It’s complicated. When did being a teenager be anything BUT complicated?

Tex: Tell me about it. I’m so close to graduating high school, I can taste it. If I survive. (And, really…can you put the fangs away?) How about you? What do you want to do after you graduate? I’m still kinda’ hangin’ in the wind, hoping to avoid a life in fast food.

Rune: I’m close to graduation myself. My mom wants me to go hang with my father for awhile. He’s a full vampire and lives in a dingy castle in Transylvania. Talk about a stereotype! I suppose I should get to know him. After all, he’s still my dad.

Tex: So, since we’re buds, I get a pass from any fangy activity in the future, right?

From what I understand, you guys travel around the world a lot. Way too much excitement for me. In fact, I wish life would settle down, but it seems I’m a supernatural trouble magnet. Yes, all the way in Kansas. You like adventure?

Rune:  Duh. Adventure is my middle name. That’s one of the fun things about my sis. Wherever she goes, she manages to get into some kind of trouble. She does have entertainment value even if she is my sister. If it weren’t for my help, she’d have been eaten by a polar bear or something long ago.

Tex: A polar bear?

Rune: Yeah, its’ a long story. Then there was that forest elemental, and Cailleach the winter goddess, and...well there’s a lot going on. There are books about all the stuff she got into. Three of them. The whole lot is called The Witches of Galdorheim series. Some woman in Oregon wrote about it all. I have no idea where she found out what happened. Magic, I guess.

Tex: Oregon? And you’re making fun of Kansas?

Rune: Oh, whatever, Dorothy. I don’t live there, just my biographer. Hey, speaking of that, the whole series is being put into audio format. The latest, to my great embarrassment, is a story about a...let’s say mishap I had with magic when I was much, much younger. It’s titled “Spellslinger,” ‛cause that’s what I was trying to do—sling a spell.

Well, Tex, would you like to put in a final word?

Tex: Stay in school, drink milk, and try to survive. It’s a rough world (well, “worlds”) out there.

And Amazon:
Elspeth, the Living Dead Girl:
Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia:
Tex and the God Squad:
And my adult horror tale, Neighborhood Watch:

The Witches of Galdorheim Series are all available in ebook and print on Amazon, and the audio books for “Bad Spelling” and “Spellslinger.”
Is animal whispering a magical talent? Find out in the adventures of Katrina the teen witch (and her brother, Rune, who does all the heavy lifting).

All of the Witches of Galdorheim books in one volume:
Or the books are available individually.

Leave a comment about either Tex or Rune (or the state of the world) and you could win a free audio book of either “Bad Spelling” or “Spellslinger.”

While you're at it, drop in over at Marva's blog to snag the opportunity to win an e-book of Tex, the Witch Boy:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Surviving Fourth of July in the Seventies

Growing up in the seventies, we looked forward to the Fourth of July nearly as much as Christmas. Once a year, we shed our Leisure Suits, put away the disco 8-tracks, and prepared for war.

An exhilarating time. And we had no idea how close we were to losing a limb. Such is the invulnerable mind-set of youth.

My parents gave me and my brothers a small allowance to haunt the local fireworks tent. It was like walking into a candy store for sadists. Colorful, alluring packaging promised "showers of color," "dazzling displays," and perhaps most importantly, "multiple explosions." All of them usually lies. And the iconic logo of the "Black Cat" always grinned down at me, challenging me to blow the crap out of stuff. I was always drawn to the huge, cannon-shaped containers attached to a chunk of wood. The warnings slugged on the bottom didn't serve as a deterrent, rather it teased the promise of sheer, unadulterated danger. I never could afford those, but I kept hope alive.

We'd grab our booty, bicycle home and line up our arsenal, arranging them in order to be released. Like a drill sergeant checking out his soldiers in training, I'd rearrange, consider, criticize until everything seemed right. Then the big day would arrive.

The early hours were usually spent blowing up anything we could find. Toy soldiers, tin cans, and various food items provided much enjoyment. I remember one watermelon proving to be a particularly tough nut to crack, but ultimately rewarding. Invariably I'd be disappointed in the sprightly colored cones fizzing out like a little kid's sparkler, but, hey, there're bound to be casualties in war.

When night fell, we grew more daring. Once I sat on the roof of our house shooting bottle-rockets out of a drain gutter at the bullies down the street. I tossed firecrackers at them (waiting 'til the fuse ran dangerously short; sometimes you'd get a fast sizzler, the ones to look out for). One particular psycho set off an M-80 in his backyard, shattering his parents' back windows. Fun! And the buzzbombs? Perhaps the most insidious of all fireworks. You never knew which way they'd take off and where they would explode, a hummingbird dive-bomber with rabies.

When all was said and done, the neighborhood looked like a war-torn battle-zone. Smoke drifted through the street like fog. Multiple explosions sounded far away, threatening yet comforting in an odd way. Tired kids would hobble home, content dopey grins on their faces. For some reason, the cops and parents left us alone even though fireworks were illegal in our neighborhood; different times.

Was it dangerous? Hell, yes, but a rite of passage back in those days. The true meaning of the Fourth of July. (Cue Charlie Brown and gang humming).

Happy Fourth of July, folks, and happy belated birthday to Canada, too. Be safe.