Thursday, February 28, 2013

Worth repeating over and over again

Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:

* I shall not fear anyone on Earth.

* I shall fear only God.

* I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.

* I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.

* I shall conquer untruth by truth.

* And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.

Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Get yer free Firespiders here

My latest little adventure story for you is an echo of the tales that caught my fancy as a youth: Giant ants terrorizing a southwestern desert and the sewers of Los Angeles. Prehistoric beasts strolling through Tokyo and London. Powerful men in colorful costumes protecting a city from unusual dangers.

This is the second new adventure of Myke Phoenix, an ordinary man called by mysterious forces to inhabit the body of a mighty warrior in times of special need. His old adventures were written more than 20 years ago when I envisioned a monthly comic-book-length story not unlike the Doc Savage pulp novels I enjoyed a little later in my youth. I finished four stories and tinkered with several more, but I had no practical way to share them with you.

In 2008 the power of the Internet allowed me to take the stories off the shelf and publish The Adventures of Myke Phoenix. For a time, that was that, but Myke wouldn’t stay on the shelf like some dusty vase.

A month ago he came back to stop The Song of the Serial Kisser, and here he is again battling Firespiders. Another tale is whispering to be told in a few more weeks.

Firespiders is free on Kindle this weekend, today and Sunday. I’d be honored to have the opportunity to take you to Astor City, where huge fire-breathing arachnids are disturbing the calm and only a big guy in a white costume can stop them. On Monday I will be asking a modest donation of 99 cents for the same opportunity, but today and Sunday I’d like to give you this mini-book as a gift to you from the young man who enjoyed stories like this so much so long ago. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Let me entertain you: My fiction is free this weekend

I have a special gift for you this weekend, through the magic of Amazon’s KDP Select program for independent authors: All of my fiction available for Kindle is free for the asking.

That comprises four ebooks, two from a very long time ago and two from the very recent past. They will be free Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9-10, so the time to introduce your Kindle reader to my work is now:

The Imaginary Revolution: The memoirs of Ray Kaliber, who, after a violent revolution on Sirius 4 merely replaced the old boss with a very similar new boss, showed the path to a nonviolent revolution and then asked the key question: “Why do we need a government at all?” Released Dec. 15, 2012, and usually available for an already reasonable $4.99. Today and Sunday: Free.

The Imaginary Bomb: The first of my novels set in the world of imaginary physics follows space truckers Bob Whelan, Pete Wong and Baxter Hetznecker as they are caught up in the struggle among the builders of a bomb as powerful as the imagination, the noble souls who want to stop them, and a gang that wants to use the bomb for its own purposes. Written in 1988, revised and released 2008, and usually a mere 99 cents. Even better, today and Sunday: Free.

The Adventures of Myke Phoenix: Paul Phillips walks into an antique store with his girlfriend and walks out as Earth’s best hope in the fight against evil. These first four stories in the Myke Phoenix canon were written around 1990, released for the first time in 2008, and currently available exclusively for Kindle for an astonishing $2.79. Today and Sunday represents the only time I expect to offer this seminal work for free.

The Song of the Serial Kisser: Someone is kissing the women of Astor City, and Myke Phoenix has to stop him before someone else does. Loosely based on the classic motion picture M except a tad less serious, this adventure released Jan. 17 is the first new Myke Phoenix adventure in two decades – but it won’t be the last. A quick read at less than 10,000 words, so it and its successors cost just 99 cents. Today and Sunday, the deal is even tastier: Free.

Monday the regular prices return, so the time to act is now. And keep an eye out for the next new Myke Phoenix story, Firespiders, coming soon to a Kindle-enabled device near you!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

They teach us, these fur-clad companions

 Written for the Door County Advocate, Feb. 5, 2013.

The most iconic picture of Hemi is the one where he’s sitting in the bathroom sink looking up at the world. His expression is, “What? I’m in the sink. It’s nice here. You should try it.”

That was Hemi. He sought out the nice. He was always the first one to try out a newly settled lap.
It’s a shame when good cats die before their time. Hemi was a little more than 8 years old.

Most of our cats have been shelter animals or abandoned or surrendered. Hemi is the only cat I ever bought at a pet store.

I was buying fish food, and Red stayed in the car. She’d been suggesting we get a kitten; I’d been suggesting we have enough cats.

There was a display case full of cavorting 8-week-old kittens and a display case with one remaining 12-week-old kitten. He looked like he would have been a tabby cat but they ran out of tabby paint and left the bottom half white.

He wasn’t acting lonely, all alone in that big case. He was playing with a small plastic ball with complete delight, knocking that thing around as if he enjoyed making the little bell inside ring for its life.

Wary of tiny claws, I poked my finger through the bars anyway and wiggled. He pounced at the opportunity and seized the finger — but instead of sinking his claws in, he just held on with his paw pads, as if to say, “Hello! Are you a toy, too?”

I bought the fish food, went out to the car and told Red, “You have to see this kitten.”

The clever salesperson let me hold him. He promptly settled against my chest, purred like a high-performance engine and closed his eyes.

A nearby shopper cooed, “Looks like he found his papa.” Yes, he had.

We’ve had a lot of cats, Red and I. Hemi stood out from the crowd — first to greet us, first to check out the lap, most willing to show his appreciation with a hearty purr and, of course, first to explore the sink.

Sunday morning he seemed fine, but Sunday evening he couldn’t use his back legs. Monday morning he was growing cold; Beeker, the motherly big fat cat, had crawled into the cat bed with him and sprawled over his backside to keep him warm.

I wrapped him in a blanket and set him on the passenger seat; the cat carrier seemed too mean. Driving to the vet, I drove with my left hand, reached out with my right and stroked him the whole way. My right arm got tired and sore, but I was pretty sure this was my last chance and he appreciated the reassurance.

The doctor said it looked like heart disease may had caused a clot and cut off the circulation to his legs, but whatever it was he was fading fast. We said goodbye.

These sweet fur-clad companions are only in our lives for a short time, but they teach us so much: From Hemi, the art of gentle greeting and exploring the opportunities. They leave a paw print on our hearts that creates a smile to ease the pain.