Thursday, February 09, 2017

Animal Friends in Tales of a Texas Boy

No, I'm not talking about the folks running for political office although they're just about as oddball as they come. And proud of it to boot. Tales of a Texas Boy has plenty of weirdos who amuse, baffle, and set Eddie to wondering. One of those weirdos is a man named Cage McNatt. See, even his name is kind of oddball. But it's his actions that take the prize, 'cause his prize sow sure didn't one year at the County Fair. Texas Boy comes in a Large Print paperback, ebook, and audio. Buy the ebook for $2.99 and get the audio book for only $1.99. Or buy the paperback, and get the ebook for only $0.99.

Excerpt from Tales of a Texas Boy 

Cage McNatt and His Prize Sow

Each evening, when the fair was over, Dad would untie Sophie from her post and let her sit closer to the fire. One night, after things calmed down, Dad Boles and I were sittin’ by the fire with Sophie right next to us. Dad Boles was in the middle of a story about trappin’ when we heard something crashin’ around inside the fairgrounds. Dad decided to go check what was goin’ on, and I followed along since he didn’t say to stay put. We went into the fairgrounds to see what was up. The moon was full so we could see well enough.

A man was goin’ toward the fairgrounds’ front gate and it looked like he was pullin’ a big dog along behind him. When I heard the squeal, though, I realized it wasn’t a dog, but a pig. I could also see the pig was white, so I knew right off it was the Luck’s sow. The trouble was that the man was Cage McNatt and not one of the Luck brothers.

Well, you might already have guessed what was goin’ on. Cage McNatt was stealin’ Whitey, or at least, he was tryin’ to. The problem was Whitey was bigger than Mr. McNatt and she wasn’t of a mind to go along quiet. She was doin’ her best to pull away from the rope. She was shakin’ her head back and forth and kept up squealin’ the whole time. That was about the unhappiest pig I ever saw.

Then, she spotted the open gate. She quit squealin’, snorted a couple of times, and all of a sudden she was doin’ the pullin’ and Cage McNatt was runnin’ behind her tryin’ to keep up. She was makin’ a beeline for the gate where we just happened to be standin’. I figured we’d better just step out of the way. Bein’ run down by three hundred fifty pounds of hog flesh was not an idea I cottoned to.

What I didn’t realize, and Whitey didn’t either, was Sophie followed us through the gate. She, meanin’ Whitey, got about twenty feet from us when she looked up and saw a bear standin’ in the way of her freedom. She stopped short and Cage McNatt ran right by her as he had such a head of steam goin’. When he reached the end of the rope, it came right out of his hand. I could see her sittin’ down on her haunches and starin’ at Sophie like she was wonderin’ exactly what it was she was seein’. All she knew is it was a big, hairy critter and probably smelled pretty bad, too.

The sow made up her mind. She whipped around like she was a cuttin’ horse and headed in the opposite direction. I think Sophie was gettin’ curious about this activity, so she went along after the pig. We took out runnin’ as well. Dad Boles didn’t want to risk Sophie harmin’ any livestock, so he was in a big hurry to catch up with her.

I was runnin’ right behind Dad Boles and I heard Cage McNatt’s footsteps right behind me.

The sow headed straight for the Ferris Wheel. I could see one of the cars was at the bottom and it was open. I think you’ve guessed what came next. The pig jumped up into the car and it shuddered like it was hit by a tornado. The gate on the car slammed shut and the pig was jumpin’ around and the car was rockin’ somethin’ furious.

Sophie followed on up the ramp to get to the pig. I don’t think she meant any harm but was just curious. Sophie went to one side of the ramp then to the other lookin’ for an opening to the car. As she stepped to the right, she pushed up against the lever that ran the wheel. The Ferris Wheel started up and the pig was bein’ hoisted up along with it. That seemed to baffle Sophie, so she just stepped off the ramp and walked calm as you please back to Dad Boles.

All three of us stood and watched the car go up with the pig in it squealin’ like she was bein’ introduced to the slaughterhouse.

Dad came to his senses first and ran up the ramp. He hit the lever and the wheel stopped with the pig’s car about halfway up. Now, he wasn’t sure what to do as it seemed the only way to get the pig back down would be to start the wheel back up. I think he felt sorry for the pig as it was cryin’ like a baby and was clearly real scared to be up so high.

By this time, the carnival folks had come out of their trailers to see what was goin’ on. The head man ran over to the wheel and started it back up again. He’d already seen the only way to get the pig down was to run her clear round the circle ‘til the car come to earth again. Unlike Dad Boles, he didn’t mind givin’ the pig the rest of the ride.

The sow made the trip safe enough. When the car reached the bottom, the carnival man opened the gate and she took off like a streak of lightnin’. Dad Boles started laughin’ so hard he could hardly stand up. In between his guffawin’, Dad Boles couldn’t help but say, “Well, I never figured I’d ever really see a pig fly.”

* * *
Tales of a Texas Boy Audio Book (on sale for only $1.99)

How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Animal Friends in Witches of Galdorheim III

A skua or jaeger is a large scavenger bird of the Arctic. Jaeger means "thief" so you can get an idea of Skua! (skua with an upclick at the end) in "Midnight Oil" is not exactly a laudable character. Nevertheless, he is open to dealing for food. Katrina the Klutzy Witch needs to send a message to her home island, Galdorheim, but has no way to do it. After all, she's stuck on Ultima Thule, which just might be the tip of Atlantis remaining above sea level.

Kat ends up on Ultima Thule when she tries to keep her father's ice-clad body from being tossed away at sea during a storm. Okay, it's complicated about why her father is a pop-sickle, why they're at sea, why there is a storm, and lots of other questions. You can find out all about it by reading The Witches of Galdorheim series, specifically book 2, "Midnight Oil."

Here's the thing. It's hard to write a succinct explanation of what goes on in the Witches series because it is different from anything you've read before. Here's an excerpt featuring Skua! which might pique your curiosity. Oh, right, the entire series is available for Name Your Own Price (which includes free) on Smashwords.

Excerpt from Midnight Oil

Kat opened her mind to the bird brains, but the shrill cries and squawks were noisier and less coherent than hearing their cries with her ears. She shut off the assault as fast as she could. She’d have to pick a single bird and focus on it. Scanning the rippling wave of feathery bodies, she looked for a bird equal to the task of flying all the way to Galdorheim, possibly without a stop along the way. She didn’t see any albatrosses, but she didn’t expect to. They spent most of their time south of the equator.

As she looked around, she felt the chill up the back of her neck telling her somebody was looking at her. She whipped her head to the side and found herself staring nose to beak with a large dark-gray bird with a white chest and ring around its neck. The bird studied her intently. She listened to him and got a stream of scrambled thoughts. “Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?”

The bird’s mention of a female led Kat to believe he was male. She sent a simple message to the bird, moving her lips silently, so she wouldn’t scare him off. “Hello. I am Katrina.” The bird’s thoughts abruptly halted. He stared at her with beady black eyes.


Kat smiled. Contact! She sent soothing thoughts to the bird. He might be just a teeny bit hyperactive.

“Hello. I,” she said, pointing at her chest, “am Katrina.” She smiled. The bird stared at her, tipping his head to one side and then the other. Next, he tucked its long, hooked bill down and scratched the feathers on its chest. The bird ruffled his wings and then hopped backward.

“Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?” The bird continued its mental ramble.

Kat groaned. She glanced around for another target, when a sharp jab on her upper arm made her yelp.


“Oh, okay. I didn’t think you were listening.”

“Can talk, listen same time.”

“That’s a useful talent. I couldn’t do it,” Kat replied, hoping to get on the good side of the big bird. She recognized him as a skua. A nasty creature in many ways, it liked to steal food from other species. It didn’t surprise her that the rest of the aviary avoided him. The skua would steal and eat other birds’ eggs and hatchlings. The faint whiff of rot told her he also dined on carrion.

The bird swiveled his head and whistled a sharp tone. “No birds here have a brain.”

“So, the rest of them are all just birdbrains?”

“Yes.” The skua coughed in what sounded a lot like a snort of disdain. “Only one, me.” The bird sighed then perked up and said, “I am Skua!.”

Kat heard the up-click at the end. Skua! must be his name. “Pleased to meet you, Skua!.” Kat surveyed the other birds, wondering if he told the truth. Was he the only one smart enough? She guessed it didn’t matter, since he did seem willing to talk to her. “I could use some help.”

“What in it for me?”

“Well, let’s see. What do you like?”


Kat wrinkled her nose. She was afraid the bird would want meat. Besides, lemmings were cute. “How about, um, bird seed?”

“Pah! Meat!”

“Well, how about we work out the payment later?”

“No fool, me. Pay now!”

“Don’t you want to know what I’d like you to do?”

The bird twitched its head upward and was silent for a moment.

“Good idea. Tell.”

“I need a big, strong bird who can fly across the ocean to an island called Galdorheim. I need to deliver a message to the witches who live there.”

“Big strong, me.”

“I can see that. Which is why I’m asking you and none of these other birdbrains.”

The bird croaked a laugh. “Witches pay good?”

“Very good. Part of my message will be to reward you with whatever you’d like. Except lemmings.”

“Why no lemmings?”

Kat sighed. “It’s a long story, and I don’t have time to tell it right now. Trust me, though, the lemmings are my friends.”

“Pah! Lemmings food.”

“The witches can give you anything else you want.”


“Pretty much. How about eggs? We’ve got chickens on the island.”

The bird nodded. “Deal we have.”

* * *

Midnight Oil and the rest of the Witches of Galdorheim series are available free through the Name Your Price program on Smashwords. Click this link to see all of the books available in the series.

Bad Spelling (Book 1 The Witches of Galdorheim). Price: Free!
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

Midnight Oil (Book 2 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff. When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe.  The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Scotch Broom (Book 3 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim Story. You set the price!
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.