Wednesday, August 11, 2021

More Fang-tastic News!

 The ebook version of Book Four in the Vampires Vs. Aliens series was published this summer; now you can purchase the paperback edition from Barnes & Noble and Amazon!

 The most action-packed installment yet! Kevian's past from the Water Wars returns to haunt him and threaten the safety of Earth. Anti-alien prejudice breaks out on the planet. The vampires must deal with a werewolf in their midst. Courtney Cartwright confronts Sebastian after discovering his secrets but has his inadvertent action already sealed their fates? The Jabari have learned their former foes the Hyperions have been decimated and are helplessly in orbit around Earth's moon. Now the Jabari fleet is headed into our solar system on a mission of vengeance and obliteration!

 This volume is yet another turning point in the series as readers get to see a side of Kevian that up until now has only been alluded to. The alien prince has been Courtney Cartwright’s white knight whom she views as kind, generous, and at least with her, tender. Yet Courtney and the readers have been warned there’s another side to the warrior prince and that he’s not as he appears. As a writer, I worked carefully to craft this duality in Kevian’s character and with the fourth installment of Vampires Vs. Aliens it comes to the fore. The book begins with a flashback to Kevian’s time as a warrior during the Water Wars on the ice planet Jabari. We see what Kevian, Saskia, and Quill were truly like in wartime, and we learn the painful secret of what occurred on Jabari that Kevian has refused to speak of for two centuries, even to his sister Kira. We also get to see Kevian’s first encounter with the symbiont and learn the reason for their mutual hatred. Then, it’s flash forward to the present day where, thanks to Victorian dandy and Elder vampire Sebastian, the Jabari have located Kevian and the remaining Hyperions now in lunar orbit and have launched an invasion fleet toward Earth and its moon. For only the second time, the Hyperion command ship Calpernia leaves lunar orbit, headed to the edge of the solar system to engage the Jabari in battle. Kevian’s mother, Queen Dowager Nula, bids him “Go do what YOU do best.” Will readers still feel the same after seeing this side of Kevian?

 Now that humans are aware they have aliens among them their reactions are split between groups like the Earth for Humans League, who feel threatened by their presence, and Alien Lives Matter, who welcome them. Are arrivals from another planet the ultimate illegal aliens and will they be treated any differently from immigrants from another country?

 

   Miss the first three books in the series? Buy them individually online or order the Vampires Vs. Aliens Omnibus collecting all three books, just published this summer.

 

It’s Your Fault!

There’s a trend these days for companies to blame their customers for the businesses’ errors. Perhaps it began in the computer industry, where tech support workers would ask users calling in with a problem “What did YOU do to cause the error?” My standard response to this question is “I purchased your product.”

 

Last month, I ordered a pizza from Papa John’s website. I chose “The Works,” which is their version of all the toppings. I tipped the deliveryman, who promptly drove off, and when I opened the box I found a plain cheese pizza with no toppings. I called Papa John’s and spoke to the manager who, besides being incredibly rude to a customer who had just purchased their product, told me they were “not responsible for errors” if the item was ordered from their website, even though they made it at their store. She then went on to place the blame on me saying I must have clicked on the wrong button online. Needless to say, I will never again do business with Papa John’s.

 

It happened again today. Every two years I receive correspondence course books in the mail from real estate schools seeking my business. I usually choose the first one arrives, fill out the paper test in the back of the book, and mail the answer sheet back to them. For the past several years, that’s been the Bob Hogue School of Real Estate. They emailed me my score (100%, no sour grapes here); however, my credit card issuer emailed me too: it turns out Bob Hogue had billed me twice, each charge a minute apart. I presumed someone at the correspondence school must have run the credit card number through, thought for some reason it didn’t go through the first time, and submitted it a second time. That happens sometimes with businesses, so I called to tell them what had happened and receive a refund for the erroneous charge. I wasn’t angry; I was very calm; I simply wanted my money which should never have been withdrawn returned. I assumed it was a mistake on their part and that they weren’t even aware of it. But then, the young lady on the phone proceeded to tell me how this was all my fault.

 

“You must have clicked twice on the form online,” she insisted, placing the blame for their error on the customer. Before she could continue, I interrupted: “I’m going to stop you in your tracks. I was never online. I’ve never been to your website and I didn’t click anything. Your company sent me an unsolicited course book. I placed the answer sheet in an envelope, stuck a stamp on it, and returned it in the U.S. mail.” You would think that would cure them of the need to shift blame for their own failures. Nope. She moved on to blame the credit card issuer for double billing me.

 

It’s bad enough we live in a society where there is no longer any accountability for one’s actions from the president down to the lowliest peon; and that individuals no longer assume responsibility for their own mistakes. But there is something seriously wrong with a business culture that fosters a “blame our customers for our mistakes” mindset. In these situations, the customer’s only mistake is having done business with the company in the first place; a wise customer will not compound the mistake by continuing to patronize such a business.

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Graduation Message

 During the final week of classes, the graduating elementary school students had a tradition of taking a small book of blank pages around to their friends and classmates to be inscribed with parting thoughts. Most were rather inane, as might be expected from sixth-graders. Having only a few friends, I filled the remaining pages with comments from the teachers and staff. Most of those inscriptions read surprisingly inane as well; however, one stood out then and still does half a century later.

 Mr. Taylor was the school janitor. He was a pleasant, jovial man with enough white hair interspersed in his crew cut to appear to be in his fifties. I would speak to him as he was emptying the classroom wastebaskets or sweeping the halls; he was always kind and to my 12-year-old eyes a man of vast wisdom. I don’t think many other students, or teachers for that matter, bothered to speak to Mr. Taylor. While he was a fixture within the grade school, to them he was merely the janitor. He was the one to call when the bathroom ran out of paper towels or one of the pupils threw up on the classroom floor. I doubt any of them, including myself, could tell you if Mr. Taylor had always been a janitor. Did he have previous careers? Had he been in the military? Did he have a wife and children? They were never curious enough to inquire because Mr. Taylor was merely the janitor.

 Nearly 50 years to the day, I still have that little book. The pages have browned and Mr. Taylor’s penciled inscription has faded yet is nonetheless legible. He wrote, very simply, “Never give up until you have tried your very, very best.” It was the most important thing I learned from elementary school, and I learned it not from a teacher but from the janitor. Although (or perhaps because) I was only a child, I viewed Mr. Taylor as an adult with valuable knowledge gleaned from decades of life experience, which he was always willing to share but few were willing to listen to one they deemed beneath their station. I think the second most important thing Mr. Taylor taught me was that everyone, regardless of their status in society, has a lifetime filled with experiences we can all learn from. In that half-century, I’ve become a wise man because of the pearls of wisdom given to me by a lifetime of wise teachers, some of whom possessed degrees while others pushed brooms.