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.