Friday, December 3, 2021

OZ, BOOK 2 IN THE WONDERLAND TRILOGY – HOT OFF THE PRESSES!

 Exactly one year ago, I published Wonderland. I had planned for Wonderland to be a standalone novel but the following November it seemed logical, even preordained, that I should write a sequel sourced from the L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. (And if I were doing that, then it would have to be a trilogy with the third book sourced from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan the following November).

 Since it is a trilogy, Oz will make more sense if you read the first book, so go out and purchase Wonderland; I’ll wait.

 You’re back? Good, now where were we? Oh, yes — Oz. Each book in the trilogy is written in the mood or tone of its source material. While Wonderland is more whimsical, Oz is the hero’s journey The characters may bear the names and some of the attributes of their literary namesakes but they, and the world they inhabit, are much darker. Alice is a police detective; so is Capt. Jim Hooker, who goes by the nickname Hook since he has a prosthetic metal hook for his left hand. Hook has established Neverland Ranch in the valley north of Wonderland as a refuge for abused boys he calls the Lost Boys. Edmund Tusk (nicknamed the Walrus because of his physical similarity to the sea creature) is a criminal kingpin ruling over the futuristic city of tomorrow, Wonderland. Dorothy Gale is a reporter from Kansas. Peter Pan is a middle-aged pedophile who’s not only attracted to boys but considers himself one as well. Wendy’s the abducted child turned nurturing young woman who finds in the older yet childlike Peter someone to mother. Tinka Belle is a badass drug dealer peddling her recreational drug Fairy Dust in Tenement Row and the rest of Wonderland’s slum, where we find Glinda Goodwitch and her house of prostitution (“Just follow the yellow brick road”); Old Mombi, who specializes in abducting children and young women; Jack Pumpkinhead, ex-prizefighter turned owner of the seedy Quadling bar; Gen. Jinjur and her army of punk rock lesbians: Buzz, Skinz, Rainbow, Mo Hawk, and Spike; and a host of other unsavory characters.

 In addition to the Art Deco skyscrapers illuminated by spotlights and the squalid underbelly of the city of tomorrow, Wonderland has a scenic wharf in its harbor separating the river from the inlet to the sea. There you’ll find the avuncular Cap’n Bill — whose left leg is a wooden stick of hickory from the knee down — smoking his briar pipe, and Trot, the young woman who’s both his first mate and ward. Most likely, they’ll be at The Mock Turtle bar drinking with Capt. Griffin, a lobster fishermen and rummy, along with his parrot Munchkin.

 Wonderland wouldn’t be Wonderland without the wealthy and powerful players that comprise its high society. Mademoiselle Milliner — a delusional schizophrenic who made her fortune designing outlandish hats — hosts a daily tea party at her mansion, aided by her manservant Haigha and her ever-present guest the somnolent Mr. Dormaus. A more distinctive antebellum mansion belongs to the Duchess, the ugliest woman in Wonderland, who lives with her daughter Cheshire (the city’s enigmatic information broker), her son Pepper, her butler Mr. Frogge, her footman Mr. Fish, and the eponymous Cook. In addition to meals, Cook also prepares the drug they manufacture named Pepper, which the Duchess’ young son Pepper and his constant companion Mouse distribute through the city. Cat Pillar, the second ugliest woman in Wonderland, is frequently a guest at the Duchess’ mansion where she can be found seated on an ottoman smoking her hookah.

 The Duchess’ ex-husband Nome King now lives on his own island, the Isle of Ev, which is inhabited only by a tribe of native Quadlings. Prof. H.M. Wogglebug — the creator of both Pepper and Fairy Dust — also resides on the island and his latest creation is an hallucinogenic gas he calls Scarlet.

   Oz available December 1, 2021 in paperback, Kindle, or ebook.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

OZ, BOOK 2 IN THE WONDERLAND TRILOGY – JUST PUBLISHED!

 Last year I gave you Wonderland; today, welcome to Oz!

 My novel Wonderland relied heavily on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, with some characters borrowed from The Oz books by L. Frank Baum, and Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Okay, I took a few creative liberties. Wonderland is the ultimate stream of consciousness novel, much like its namesake. In Carroll’s original stories, there’s no plot or conflict: Alice goes to a strange place, encounters weird people, and returns home – or, as we called it in the 60s, a wild LSD trip. When I embarked on adapting the Oz books, I hit a snag: they were not stream of consciousness novels. They each had a plot, albeit the same one – the Hero’s Journey: a protagonist who goes on an adventure, overcomes a conflict, and returns changed by the experience. Following this formula results in a book with a completely different “feel.” Since Oz is a sequel to Wonderland, I worried the difference would be too jarring for the readers.

 Nevertheless, some beloved, perhaps lesser known, characters from Oz made their way to Wonderland, the “city of tomorrow” whose art deco skyline is filled with skylights and skyscrapers. But where the previous novel focused on the gleaming city, Oz reveals what lies in the shadows of the glitz and glamor of the art deco architectural marvel of Wonderland, deep within the dark underbelly of the city of tomorrow. It follows the Yellow Brick Road through the dangerous Tenement Row, home of Old Mombi who sells abducted children and young women to the highest bidder; the local brothel, Glinda Goodwitch’s Palace of Pleasure; The Quadling, the seedy bar belonging to ex-prizefighter Jack Pumpkinhead, whose face resembles a smashed gourd; and the territory claimed by Gen. Jinjur and her army of punk rock lesbians. In short, another acid trip. Enjoy.

   Oz available December 1, 2021 in paperback, Kindle, or ebook.

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.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Fang-tastic News!

 We’re two weeks away from publication of Book Four in the Vampires Vs. Aliens series!

 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? Find them individually online or order the Vampires Vs. Aliens Omnibus collecting all three books, just published last month.

 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Just Published: Vampires Vs. Aliens, Omnibus Edition Vol. One

It's Omnibus Day! VAMPIRES VS. ALIENS, OMNIBUS EDITION VOLUME ONE is now available! More than 800 pages of science fiction - fantasy collecting the first three books in the hit series. This is your chance to catch up before next month's installment featuring the thrill-packed Jabari Invasion in Book Four.

 

Sixteen-year-old Courtney Cartwright finds herself attracted to two strangers -- not realizing one's an alien prince and the other's a 200-year-old vampire. Handsome Nicholas appears to be a typical teenage sci-fi fan but he lives in a mysterious boarded-up mansion with his unusual vampire "family" of New Bloods and Old Bloods... and the ancient Elder vampires residing in the basement. Kevian and his sister Kira are spearheading a covert alien invasion designed to steal Earth's most precious resource for their home world Hyperion. Both the vampires and the aliens require a life-sustaining fluid to survive: blood for the vampires and water for the aliens. But if the aliens succeed in robbing Earth of  its water, all life on the planet will cease to exist... including the vampires' food source.

 

Chills and thrills! Memorable characters, surprising plot twists, and science fiction you can sink your teeth into! Order your copy today! 

 

 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

The Age of Magic, Book 3: Return of the Djinn arrives next week!

"In The Age of Magic, Anything is Possible."


288 pages. Coming March 15, 2021.

Paperback (Amazon)
Kindle
EPUB


What would the Age of Magic be without the Arabian Nights? Aladdin and his magic lamp; Ali Baba and the 40 thieves; genies and djinns and ifrits, oh my! Flying carpets, desert palm trees, and harems filled with voluptuous women. That Moorish architecture, and oh the clothes: turbans, fezzes, and curled pointy shoes. Belly dancers, and the Dance of the Seven Veils. The bazaar and the café. The magical city of Baghdad, with its spires, keyhole arches, and minarets glittering more brightly than the Emerald City of Oz.

And then there's vampire Sharon Mordecai, a prominent character in every Halos & Horns novel since the first book but noticeably absent in the previous installment, the ninth book in the series. Where was Sharon? All we were told was that she was on a case with her spectral private investigator partner Kara Islington. Readers got a clue at the very end of the previous book when Ursula Fenris, teenage daughter of Sharon's BFF Pandora, was polishing an oil lamp she had been given by the mysterious proprietor of an even more mysterious curio shop. Kara's ghostly form wafted from the lamp's spout with the dire message that she and Sharon had been captured by a djinn. But how on Earth did they end up in such a predicament?

*** Book 10 in the Halos & Horns fantasy series ***
***Book 3 in The Age of Magic story arc ***

Available March 15, 2021. Paperback (Amazon) , (Barnes & Noble), e-book (Kindle), and e-book (EPUB),
Ships Mar. 15, 2021 .