Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Thanks for Reading!

Thank you for reading this story. I hope you enjoyed it.

If you liked it, would you please review it on Amazon and/or Smashwords? Thanks.

If you didn't like it, well, what's not to like? Give me a shout on the Author page.

The legal stuff...
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. All Rights Reserved. This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For my brother Barry, an overcomer.
and a booming Happy Birthday shoutout to him,
since today is his 55th birthday -
and it's on a Wednesday, which is the 
day he was born,
early in the morning.
I didn't plan for this to finish on this day,
but here it is.

As always, thank you, Lord.

Connect with Vince Online:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bible Challenge

In order to understand Christianity, the coming of Jesus Christ to the world to save us from our sins, you must believe that the Bible is the word of God.

Let's not argue details right now.

Can you believe simply four words of the Bible?

Here's a challenge for you.

For one week, only one, as life beats you up and you struggle with your day to day existence, ponder these four (first) words from the Bible:

In the beginning, God...”

Truly, fully believe for one week that there is a sovereign, everlasting, infinite and all-powerful God that existed since the beginning.

That could change your life.

Try it.

If you want more...

Detractors will pick a Bible story and point out how it cannot be accurate.

At one time they espoused the belief that Pontius Pilate existed in the Bible as a composite form of conquering Romans. In 1961, Dr. Antonio Frova excavated a limestone block in Caesarea Maritima with Pilate's name on it.

Okay, so that was real.

The Bible certainly created King David as the composite Israelite. Yet in 1993 Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran discovered a stone referring to the “House of David.”

Yeah, but that Samson guy couldn't exist, except as an archetype, like the Greek Heracles. (I would argue that Heracles also existed.)

Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.” (Judges 16)

The Bible story of Samson contains no moral imperatives, yet is the story of a man who used his God-given strength for his own amusement, finally turning back to God at the end of his life. Why would Bible authors include it in Judges - unless the story refers to a real person?

Archaeology supports the story, finding Philistine temples with two main load-bearing pillars.
So historicity has credence in Biblical stories.

There's the story of Jonah in the fish. The sad story of Job. The heartbreaking tale of Hosea, a minor prophet.

Yeah, those are tough.

I won't argue with people who tell me God couldn't create the world and universe in seven days. Geology tells us the world is millions of years old, they say.

Okay, God could create everything in seven days, seven minutes, seven seconds or a blink. If He couldn't then He wouldn't be God.

That's not the message.

I'll tell you what.

Choose the New Testament, the Gospel, the Good News.

Read it before you criticize the Bible or those who actually read it.

Not the people who pick and choose Bible verses to beat you up, cheer you up, promise you riches...

Look for the people who read the Bible and pray to God for guidance, not riches. They pray for God's grace on you without asking for money.

Those are the ones who truly read the Bible.

Read the New Testament.

That's the second challenge.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 18

How they survived is really no mystery, since Vic and BA von Crapp are hard to kill. It involved spear points driven into sheer ice and a slowed descent to the bottom of the crevasse. It also involved finding a shattered skeleton with fragments of a hide bag and dozens of blue and red gems.

Weeks later the brothers were sitting in their castle in the land known only to them. Both were comfortably seated in oversize leather chairs, BA reading a paperback and Vic writing in a small, leather-bound book.

Vic put his book down and picked up a mug of Earl Grey. "Well, brother, that was quite the adventure. Quite fortunate that we had a chance to search the bottom of the crevasse for the gems left by that old priest in Haggard's novel."

BA didn't even look up from his book. "Even better that we found the gems, I'd say!" He put the book down and picked up his mug of Earl Grey tea. "Everything considered, we did quite well on that adventure, Vic. We even managed a profit on the stain-resistant clothing business."

Vic sipped from his own mug. "Just had to change the advertising a bit." He looked over the top of his mug at BA. "Perhaps we should celebrate with a trip somewhere quiet and entertaining."

BA grinned. "The annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona is coming up again in July." He put his feet up on the ottoman in front of his chair.

Vic laughed. "Perfect. And," he pointed at the new white crocodile skin boots on BA's feet, "I really like your new boots."

"He was big enough to make two pairs of boots and a couple nice hat bands. Your boots are upstairs." BA grinned. "Along with your shares in the new company."

"What new company?"

BA reached to the floor on the opposite side of his chair and lifted a small clay flask. "Our new stain removal company. I had the lab boys analyze the composition of the old lady's stain remover and we can now go into full production."

Vic laughed, grinning at BA. "And you tested the stain remover."

"Thoroughly," said BA, laughing. "I even used a load of crap."


Come back next Wednesday...

Author commentary (if I have one)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 17

Vic addressed Kobo. "We'd like to leave, but we understand the problem. You'd like to assure the Council that you killed us and you need some sort of proof."

Kobo frowned deeply. "Yes, this is true. My esteemed Mother, who is on the Council, truly wanted in your pants, Vic von Crapp."

Vic's eyebrows shot up and his eyes widened. "What?"

"Did I say that wrongly?" Kobo frowned as his son whispered in his ear, then he laughed, his entire body shaking. BA laughed right along with him. "I meant to say…" Kobo wiped tears from his large brown eyes with the back of his hand, but his smile didn't lessen. "I meant to say, she wanted your pants for her own and desired to wear them."

Vic grinned, a look of relief flooding over his face. "Well, that's easy enough." He started removing his pants.

Kobo nodded. "You would trade your pants for your lives, Vic von Crapp? That is very wise."

Vic, standing in his boxers, took his belt from the pants and handed them to Kobo. He pulled his boots back on. "No, Kobo. I trade my pants for your lives." He looked at BA, who simply stood there shaking his head. "Give me one of those hides, BA."

From one of the pockets in his vest Vic pulled a fishhook and some fishing line and quickly sewed the belt to the edge of one of the hides. He buckled it about his waist.

BA looked at him critically. "Really? A kilt?"

Vic shrugged. "Not exactly a screaming fashion statement, I'll grant you that."

"You cannot go back through the village. We will all keep your secret and let you escape, but the council cannot see you alive." Kobo frowned. "The only exit is over the crevasse but the ice bridge used in Haggard's book is truly gone."

Vic looked at the crevasse and did some quick calculations in his head. "I think we can make it, BA."

BA shook his head, still watching Kobo and his son, as well as making sure the others didn't stir. "I don't think so, Vic. That's a long jump and I don't think we can get the speed."

Vic grinned. "We use our thermal blankets as sleds. It should work."

Kobo looked at his men. "My son and I will explain that you tricked us and escaped. But you must go before my men awake."

A minute later Vic and BA were riding down the glacier on their thermal blankets, steering desperately for the most narrow part of the canyon ahead of them.

"I don't think we'll make it," yelled BA, using the spear point as a steering rudder behind him. Tears flowed from his eyes because of the cold wind.

"Adventure is always risky, brother." Vic steered with his own spear, ten feet behind BA. "But I have to say, this kilt is mighty cold!"

They hit the edge of the glacier and were suddenly airborne. BA started laughing madly. "We are so not going to make it!"

They disappeared over the edge, the sound of BA's laughter booming up the side of the mountain. Then there was only silence.

Nolo turned to his father. "The von Crapp brothers were truly magnificent, Father," he said in their own language. "They were Adventurers indeed. It is too bad they died."

"It is a shame," replied Kobo, tossing Vic's pants over his left shoulder. "We might have had two pairs of pants instead of one." He looked at his men. "Let us awaken my men and we will return to our village as victors."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 16

"There are nine of us here." Kobo waved his free hand toward his warriors.

"A few new ones, I notice. Nice looking fellow there, for instance. A bit short." BA pointed toward one warrior, younger than the rest and a few inches shorter than Kobo.

Vic spoke up. "He looks a bit like you, Kobo."

"My eldest son, Nolo, of whom I am very proud. He is not only a warrior, he is a great scholar and speaks many languages. His English is much better than mine." Kobo puffed out his chest. "I am the best among the city, except for him."

Vic smiled at the young man. "Let me be perfectly clear. We don't want to fight you. We simply, at this point, desire to leave your city. If we write about it, the stories will be fiction, so you face no danger from us."

Kobo frowned at the two shorter men. "This I would be happy to do, Vic von Crapp. The Council of Elders desires that you must die, and I must do as they say, as must my warriors."

BA grinned at him. "Too bad. I don't want to kill any of you, especially your boy there." He pointed at the six foot tall young man, who looked shaken.

Vic rolled his eyes. "Please, BA. Don't kill them." He looked at Kobo. "Please don't make us do this. You're entirely unprepared for this fight."

Kobo started to speak and BA interrupted him. Looking at Kobo's son, BA growled. "Look, kid. Let me give you a free lesson in fighting." He gestured at the giant warriors and their spears. "The spears are great for some types of fighting, but not for just two guys. They're too large and there are too many of you." He looked at the young man. "You getting this, Nolo?"

Nolo nodded, a nervous look on his face. "I hear you well, BA von Crapp."

BA nodded. "Good. Then pay attention… That man grips his spear too tightly." BA pointed to the warrior on the left side of the group. "Now if I were going to kill you all, I would start with him and twist the spear from his hand. I might break his thumb, but it wouldn't matter, because I'd swing the spear in an arc and crush his head with the shaft while I cut the throat of the man next to him using the point." Nolo looked at the men, puzzled. Kobo started to signal his men to change their positions. BA sighed. "It takes too long to explain…"

BA charged the man he pointed at, yanking the spear from his hand. The man yelled as his thumb gave way and the other men started to bring their spears down and point them at BA. BA twirled the spear above his head, hitting the first man in the back of the head and slamming the shaft into the forehead of the second man. They both started to drop, unconscious.

BA swept the spear downward, knocking the feet of the third man out from under him. BA continued to twirl the spear and hit the fourth man behind the head, then reversed the spear and hit the falling man between the eyes.

BA moved back to where he stood before, the spear held lightly in his right hand, the shaft touching the dirt. The two warriors on the left were both unconscious. Vic von Crapp stood next to BA, twirling a spear in a rapid pattern in front of himself.

"Quit showing off," BA growled to Vic.

Vic leveled the spear point at Kobo, whose face registered surprise.

BA smiled at Nolo. "That's what I was trying to explain." He shrugged. "Of course, it's harder not to kill them, but…" he looked at Vic. "I've had practice." He motioned to the two fallen men on the left. "Oh, and never take your eye off an enemy. You watched me the entire time while Vic took those two down."

Nolo stood like a statue, staring at the von Crapp brothers. "I understand the lesson, BA von Crapp. I now question whether I will be allowed to use this knowledge in my future."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 15

They walked in silence following the upward slope of the narrow path in the depths of the mountain. The small lights provided the only illumination.

"In the book the tunnel was blocked by the ice and snow of the eternal glacier at the top of the mountain." Vic said as they walked.

"We'll figure a way out. We always do." BA was walking in front of his brother. "I think I see something up ahead."

When they turned out their lights they saw a dim glow far ahead of them. As they walked the light brightened until, finally, they stood before a sheet of ice the size of a door, sunlight shining through it.

"I guess we found it." Vic started patting the pockets of his vest. "I'm not sure what I have to get through this…"

BA still had the dagger from the tunnel tucked in his belt. He pulled it out and jabbed it into the icy doorway, which cracked from top to bottom. "Never mind, brother. I think I have an ice pick that will work." Chipping at the icy block BA scooped some cubes of ice into his left hand. "Hey, can I have one of the cups? Ice water sounds pretty good to me." He handed the cubes to Vic and continued to chip at the doorway, which suddenly shattered and fell to the ground, leaving a large, ragged hole exiting onto the mountain glacier.

BA grinned. "That was much easier than I thought." He took the cup of ice water from Vic, who also held one and stepped through the opening onto the mountaintop. Vic followed, drinking his water.
They both stared.

"Finally. We thought you'd never get out here. Or perhaps the white crocodile would get you." Kobo stood up and hefted his spear, smiling at the two brothers. He and eight men surrounded a small fire, obviously awaiting their arrival.

BA grinned. "Really? Well, your crocodile god is dead, I'm not too sorry to tell you." He pulled a small bag from his pocket and rattled it. "Here's his teeth if you're interested." The pungent odor from the bag made him quickly put it away. "They need cleaning."

Kobo laughed. "Oh, he wasn't a god. One of the boys dropped him in the sewers when he was little. We don't allow crocodile pets in the city, you see. He grew to tremendous size and started stealing the small goats. We were worried about our children, so we drop a cow down there a few times a month." He grinned. "You did us a huge favor, actually. Thank you." He suddenly looked grim. "I am very sorry that I must kill you."

"As if you can." BA snarled, shifting his weight. Vic said nothing, but collapsed his cup and BA's and put them back into his inside vest pocket.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 14

The giant crocodile tried to knock BA down swinging its huge snout toward his legs. A guttural snarl erupting from its throat. BA jumped over the white creature's head, landing heavily onto the back of the crocodile with his knees, roaring. BA slammed both his fists into the middle of the crocodile's back, the sound of breaking bones cracking loudly across the small cavern.

The crocodile hissed, swerving sharply to its left and heading back into the water. BA slipped, stumbling off the crocodile onto the stone near the water's edge. The crocodile's powerful white tail swung toward him.

"NO!" Vic grabbed BA by the collar and pulled him clear, then rolled toward the knife and scooped it up as the crocodile moved deeper into the water, swimming toward the light of the outdoor pool.

"BA!" Vic tossed the long knife to his red-haired brother and ran to a corner of the cave, tearing a thick bone from one of the rotted corpses, the bone shattering on both ends as he pulled it loose. BA snatched the knife out of the air and ran to the edge of the water, quickly wading into the pool and diving toward the disappearing reptile. Vic dove in close behind him, the sharp white bone held in his hand.

In the water the white monster was in its element, an ancient leviathan of destruction. It turned back toward the von Crapp brothers, yellow eyes sparkling. In the crystal clear water visibility was perfect, for both the beast and the brothers. Vic von Crapp later swore that he saw the creature smile in anticipation of its juicy meals.

Vic von Crapp was trained to fight, born a warrior and not easy prey. But BA von Crapp was more than that; he was born a force of nature.

The jaws of the white monster opened and it turned to grasp BA by the waist, intending to drag him to the bottom of the pool and drown him. BA grinned at the beast as they moved closer together. For the first time in its decades of existence the crocodile felt fear.

BA twisted and reached forward with his massive arms. With his right hand he grabbed the crocodile's snout and twisted, the sound of tearing muscles and tendons vibrating through the water. BA's left hand, holding the dagger, thrust deep into the crocodile's open mouth and he drove the dagger to the hilt into the soft tissues of its upper palate, far behind the tongue, targeting the brain.

The behemoth had a small brain, however, and didn't know immediately that it was dead. It tried to twist and free itself from the vise that held its upper jaw as the light dimmed in its eyes. Suddenly one of the yellow eyes exploded into a mass of blood and gore, the sharpened end of a white bone sticking from it. The other eye closed and the beast struggled no more.

BA and Vic dragged themselves out of the water, BA towing the corpse of the white crocodile behind him. "Well," he gasped, grinning broadly, "that was fun." He laughed and slapped his brother on the shoulder. "I mean, really fun!"

Vic grinned back. "Yes, I knew you'd like that. Now why don't we head out of here."

"Give me a minute, Vic. There's something I want to do first."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 13

The dank smell of fetid water and decaying flesh assailed their noses from the slight breeze coming from the passageway. It no longer sloped downward, but stretched forward into darkness, a single point of faint light in the distance.

"Well, I'm guessing this leads to the new 'god' they must have." BA wrinkled his nose. "I can kill that, can't I?"

Vic slipped his left hand into the lining of his vest and pulled out two pieces of linen. Soaking them both in water he gave one to BA and tied the other over his face, covering his nose and mouth. "You can kill any gods we run across, with prejudice." Vic grinned, the corners of his eyes crinkling. "And even though you won't need help, I'd be delighted to assist you."

The two brothers turned off their lights and five minutes of stealthy travel brought them to a murky pool and the source of the rancid odors. A large crocodile, easily fifteen feet long, lay dozing at the edge of a pool, which glowed with light coming from a slight opening below the surface of the water. The crocodile's eyes were closed, and its chest moved up and down evenly. The crocodile was pure white, from its nose to the end of its tail. It lay in the shallow end of the water, small ripples splashing quietly against the scales. Various decaying bodies littered the small cavern floor.

"I thought we had to go through the rooms in the book and drop through the hole in the floor of the jail cell," whispered Vic.

"Guess we bypassed that," BA whispered back, as his eyes scanned the ground near the crocodile. "You notice anything odd about all those corpses?"

Vic looked silently for a moment. "Yeah, they all look like cattle. Not a human in sight." He looked at the many bones. "Some of the bones are a good size though."

BA nodded, then touched Vic's arm, pointing near the edge of the water, on the other side of the massive beast. "There's a knife by the water. I think I can get to it. It's better than the pieces of bone lying around." He kept his voice low so that only Vic could hear him.

Vic nodded, dimly visible in the low light. "I see it. That light from the water is coming from outside. If I were a betting man..."

"You are," whispered BA, grinning.

Vic shook his head, also grinning. "... right. If I were a betting man, I'd say that light is from the pool where they make the sacrifices."

"So a way out?"

Vic made a low noise in his throat. "Yes, back through the village, but that's not an option. We're in the god's cave, so if we go through that uphill passage to the left we should get out on the glacier ledge."

BA nodded. "Right. And from the ledge, over the chasm and back to the plane."

"First things first. I think we need to get rid of the god."

BA grinned broadly. "Finally, something to make this adventure worth the time." Reaching into his pants pockets he drew out his fingerless leather gloves and slipped them on.

BA slipped past his brother and moved toward the knife, crossing the bone-strewn cavern floor as silently as a shadow. As he stepped in front of the great beast, he stopped, frozen in his tracks.

Two giant yellow orbs stared at him unblinking. Almost casually the large reptile opened its massive jaws. Its breath smelled like rotting meat and BA was glad for the covering over his nose and mouth as the beast rumbled deep in its chest. It moved toward BA, its feet scrabbling on the rocks making loud clicking sounds.

"Well … crap," said BA von Crapp.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 12

They searched the small room for an hour before sitting to rest again. "I think it might be that stone you mentioned a while ago, the one you said might have moved."

"And how does this knowledge help us, Vic? I don't think I can bash the thing in." BA looked around the cell. "Not without something a bit more substantial than my fist."

Vic reached inside the right side of his vest with his left hand, removing two small packets. "Well, no, BA, if anyone could it would be you, but it needs to be weakened." Vic sliced the packets open with a small knife pulled from his vest pocket and put both packets on the floor, carefully pouring water on them. Each swelled to twice the original size, oozing outward like a small blob of jelly. An acrid smoke rose from the lighter one. Vic sighed and took them and mixed them together rapidly, kneading them in his hands. He took the fistful of putty and jammed it tightly into the crevice next to the identified stone and turned back and rinsed his hands until all the putty was off.

"Explosive, I take it?" BA had his hands in his pockets watching the process.

"Of course. Totally safe as long as they aren't combined. A little sensitive otherwise, and burns a bit, actually." He showed BA his reddened hands.

BA nodded. "Okay. How do we set it off? Pressure explosive?"

"Not really. I mean, mixed wrong it might be, but we can set it off with a small charge." Vic tugged on a button at the bottom of his vest, pulling it off and pressing it into the paste on the wall. Turning the bottom of his vest up, Vic pulled one of the seams off and twisted it into the hole in the button.

"Got a light?" Vic grinned.

BA reached in his cargo pants pocket and a slim lighter appeared. He stepped up to the thick thread and lit it.

"Uh, BA, we should probably move further away…"

They were almost to the far side when the sputtering blue flame licked the edges of the button. The putty made a small popping sound and cracks appeared in the stone.

BA moved the light closer. "That was anticlimactic."

Vic grinned at his brother. "Well, yeah, you never really know. You're the climax. Smash that stone and let's get it out of here."

BA turned to face Vic, brought his right arm forward and slammed the back of his elbow into the cracked stone, which shattered into the darkness beyond. He reached into the hole and found the trigger. They heard a click and the wall opened up into a dark passage leading further downward.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Rex Review - Fallout 4 Survival Tips

My buddy Major Rex plays Fallout 4 a lot.
When he gets bored, he just makes a new character.
He plays on Survival, the hardest level you can play. In Survival you suffer fatigue, hunger, thirst and pestilence (I might have added that last one).
So I thought I'd give a Survival character a try.
The most annoying aspect is you can't save the game. You get an auto-save each time you rest, and if you ever played FO4, you know that beds just aren't that easy to find.
If you die, you go back to the (only) saved game you have – the last spot you slept. Played for forty minutes and some radroach kills you? Yeah. You'll see that pest again.
Oh, and there's no fast travel. Now when one of my settlements come under attack I have to wonder – is it worth the trek across the countryside to try to help? Or will I die in the attempt?
I have no idea yet what the consequences of failing to help are – and I've failed often.
I finally went to the Major after a couple of false starts. Here's the Major Method
Build a character with the following SPECIAL stats:

  • Strength 5
  • Perception 4
  • Endurance 3
  • Charisma 6
  • Intelligence 6
  • Agility 2
  • Luck 2

When you find the SPECIAL book in Shaun's room in Sanctuary, add that point to Strength.
The FIRST skill you pick up when you level is LOCKPICK. Let's face it. You need to be able to open things in the Wasteland.
When you level again grab the perk for +20 to health.
Then grab the +10 to resistances.
Now maybe you can survive to the next level and not die so much.
The Major added that you want to level your Armorer and Gun Nut, but don't do them separately!
Gain two points and do them both at the same time. Once you upgrade Gun Nut, the enemies become harder.
Don't upgrade them until you have enough materials to enhance your armor and weapons, though. (I find glue is a problem.)
Once the Major can create a good 5.56 mm sniper rifle, that becomes his main weapon.
The Major also believes in strong supply lines.
He builds a recruitment beacon in each settlement. For most of them, once he hits 12 people, he turns it off. (Maybe he said 8 people.) He'll send one person to another settlement, and immediately assign him as a trader. That gives your settlement access to other materials.
Yeah, I've never managed to do this successfully.
I'll be honest. I haven't implemented this strategy yet. I'm struggling to develop a “stealth” character in survival, with 8 Agility and 8 Luck.
I die a lot.
Time to re-roll and try the Major Method.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 11

They moved quietly for a number of minutes. "We have a problem, BA." Vic held his lights above his head slightly to illuminate the two passages ahead of him.

BA groaned. "What a load of crap."

"Quit saying that."

"Well, it is."

"We have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right."

"Or wrong."

Vic frowned. "Yeah, that too. I say left."

BA groaned. "I was going to say right. If we had agreed, I'd feel a lot better about the choice."

"Me too," Vic grunted. "Coin toss?"

"No, we'll just go left and see where we end up."

The stairs traveled downward for another fifteen minutes, ending in a small room with no other visible exits. They sat for a moment and each gulped down water from their full canteens.

"More secret doors, no doubt." Vic muttered. He took the small crank out of his pocket and connected it to his string of lights, winding it for a few minutes. He handed the crank to BA, who did the same.

"Do you hear anything?" BA whispered. They both sat in silence.

"Nothing." Vic stood up, followed by BA. "Guess we try the other path."

BA led the way back up the narrow stairs. After five minutes he stopped and grunted. "We're in trouble." Lifting the lights he showed two passageways, both with stairs leading up.

"Ouch. I didn't notice that on the way down." Vic paused. "We could choose and risk getting lost in this maze or we could go back down to the room and look for the hidden doors."

"Doors we think the room will have? We're betting on that, you know."

"Or choose one of the paths up." Vic shrugged, invisible in the semi-darkness. "I don't remember the tunnel getting wider, so I don't have a clue which one to take back up, BA."

After a moment BA grunted. "Back down it is, then."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Limerick Castle in Ireland (I think)

Shouldn't there be a hidden meaning - something funny?
There once was a girl from Kazoo
Who walked wearing only one shoe
Said she when I asked
"It's all in the past.
I left my left shoe at the zoo."

Yeah, but can you play with the words?
There once was a girl from Odessa
Who wore a blue and white dressa
Said she with a smirk
"Don't be a jerk.
Without my dress I'm a messa"

Or it can be really personal (this to you, Leba)
I know a lovely librarian
who moonlights as a barbarian
Adept with big words
and slicing with swords
She really is quite contrarian

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 10

Neither brother needed much sleep to stay alert; long years and much experience allowed them the luxury of taking deep catnaps when they could. Almost two hours later, to the minute, Vic shook BA's shoulder.

BA packed his blanket and rolled the furs into tight bundles, tying them onto his pack with spare shoelaces. "We might need them," he shrugged as Vic looked at him sideways.

"The secret door was activated by a mechanism behind a stone. That's what we're looking for." Vic handed a short string of lights to BA then connected another string to a small device in his hand, winding it quickly. The whirring sound seemed loud in the night air. The string of lights glowed brightly in the darkness. BA noticed the windows were covered with Vic's furs and nodded grimly.
The lights illuminated the inside of the room enough to see the mortar between the stones. After an hour of searching BA snarled under his breath. "This might be something, Vic."

Vic brought the lights closer and they examined the tight-fitting square stones. "You're right. These stones are cut differently, but it doesn't seem to have controls on this side."

"Which makes sense. They wouldn't lock us in a room with a secret escape door, would they?"

"In fact, according to the book, that's exactly what we have, if we can find it." Vic placed his splayed fingers on the edge of one of the stones. "Start hitting these stones on the wall, BA."

BA and Vic pressed on a dozen stones, when one of them gave way under BA's fist and the rock moved inward, with a space large enough for Vic to reach into it. He pulled, the muscles in his shoulder straining, and a piece of the wall pivoted outward.

The smell of age and mildew assailed them from the dark opening.

BA grunted, pleased. He shouldered his pack and looked at the narrow stairs leading down into darkness. "I honestly don't recall the book describing this tunnel too well. It's supposed to lead to the other side of the pool and under the temple, right?"

"Something like that. I think it was pretty vague." Vic put the string of lights around his neck, shouldering his pack and heading into the narrow passage. "You want to close the door or leave it open?"

BA stepped in behind his brother. "Closed. Let them wonder a bit where we went." He pushed the thick stone door closed. In the darkness, the lights gave off a faint bluish glow as they headed further down.

"I expect we'll get some people looking for us in the morning." Vic moved as rapidly as he could.

"I expect we will, but I'll take care of them." BA carefully walked down the steps behind his brother, avoiding touching the damp walls.

"I'd rather you didn't kill them, BA."

"I know. That would be too easy, I suppose." BA growled, almost to himself.

"They probably know about the tunnels," Vic said, the blue glowing lights bobbing up and down as he moved down the stairs.

"No doubt."

"So they know where we're going. They probably know a shortcut." Vic paused.

"So they'll meet us there. I expect that." Vic didn't even need to look at his brother's face to see the grin spread across it. "I look forward to a little fun with these guys."

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Writing Word Counts

Word count is a huge topic in writing circles.
Short answer - Tell the story until you're done. For a standard fiction novel, aim to write 100K words or so and edit it back down to 85K.

Even though there are fabulous guidelines, every beginning author thinks they are the exception. None of us are exceptions.

I love short stories. I love to write them. I love to read them. It's like eating a bag of potato chips. Bag open. Salt, oil and chips consumed with gusto. Bag tossed. All without sitting down.
Here's my word count for my currently published stories:
Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff 5639 - nonfiction
My Mother-in-Law Misadventures 28554 - memoir
The Duel: A Von Crapp Brothers Tale 1364 flash fiction
Safari in the Mist: A Von Crapp Brothers Tale 9226 short story
Psychic Toll Call 841 flash fiction
Print Your Own Booklet Using Microsoft Word 2974 how-to
Seductive Murder 1885 flash fiction
Hunting August Moon 84021 novel

(All these links go to Smashwords, where the short stories are free.)
My word counts above include chapter titles, but don't include the Table of Contents, the required cover page and introduction or the final acknowledgments.
My first book wasn't fiction. Non-fiction should be seventy to eighty thousand words, but we wrote this book to meet a specific need. (The Fiscal Cliff still looms, actually. Shame on the government.)
For my second book, I compiled a list of short pieces I wrote when Darling's mother lived with us (for a decade). Still, the book is too short.
I published The Duel as practice. I don't recommend that method of learning to self-publish, but I left the story for the curious. It is free on Smashwords, though Amazon doesn't give me the same option.
Safari in the Mist was just as long as it needed to be to tell the story. That's okay, but at some future date I will compile all my Von Crapp Brothers stories into a single volume with a better word count.
Psychic Toll Call and Seductive Murder came from my reservoir of short stories written over the years, long before computers became useful for writing. As fun stories, I wanted them published, and I made them free (on Smashwords and on my blog site) so people could see my writing style.
Hunting August Moon took months of writing, and I topped out at over 110,000 words. After numerous edits, it dropped to 84,000. Hunting August Moon hits the sweet spot for novels. It doesn't disappoint.

<This is a copy of my blog post at my Author site.>

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Last Interview

Dr Bailey Smith spoke at Sagemont today.

Most people are familiar with the parable of the wheat and tares. If not, read Matthew 13:24-30 before we begin.
Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.

 Pastor Smith commented before the heart of his message that the Bible is not only the word of God, but words that came directly from the lips of Jesus, like this parable.

Years ago Pastor Smith asked Rev. Billy Graham why he spoke so often of "the unsaved church member." Rev Graham said because he once was one, and because it is the greatest mission field available to American churches.

After all, a good fake must be indistinguishable from the real thing.

What a great trick of Satan, placing the lost among the saved - and convincing them they are saved!

But commitment to the church is not commitment to Jesus.

Satan doesn't try to convince good people to do bad things.
Good works are not salvation.
Good beliefs are not salvation. You can believe in soap and still stink.
Good people are not automatically saved.

Ninety-nine percent saved is 100% lost.

You might have made a false decision. "I should go forward so I won't go to Hell."
You might have false assurance. "I remember your baptism, son, so you're saved."

You're saved by Jesus, by His grace alone.

When you're standing before God at your last interview, He won't ask your parents, your friends, your family or anyone else how you did. 

In your last interview, God will ask one question.

Do you know my Son, Jesus?

Look at your heart NOW. Is Jesus there, or is it you?

Dear God in Heaven, I acknowledge my sins to you, and I'm sorry for them. Please forgive me of my sin. I want to be saved. Jesus I trust in what you did upon the cross for my salvation. Thank you Jesus for saving me. Please come into my heart and become Lord of my life. Amen.

Follow up with your church and baptism.

Be ready for your last interview.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 9

The shadows from the sun were long and the light fading when the door creaked open. BA moved faster than Vic's eyes could follow, but he stopped in his tracks, eyes narrowed. "Clever buggers."

A small dark girl with big eyes stared at him in terror, clutching a heavy tray of food to her chest. Behind her, through the doorway, three guards had spears leveled toward the door. BA ground his teeth; the girl let out a yelp, dropped the tray of food and disappeared back through the doorway. Like the Cheshire cat, the only thing visible as the door closed were the grins of the guards as they tossed sleeping furs into the room.

"We can eat the fruit we know, but I wouldn't touch the rest of it," Vic warned.

BA grabbed a haunch of darkly roasted meat and bit off a chunk. "If I die, it'll be with meat in me. And I'll still kill Kobo and his guards before I go."

Vic shrugged and chose a piece of meat also, tearing a small piece off and chewing. "How much do you remember from Haggard's book?"

"Most of it," BA sniffed at one of the fruits and took a large bite, then spat it out. "Watch out for those yellow ones."

"Weren't they kept in a room with a dais?"

BA looked at the walls. "I think so. The one with the secret door?"

"The very one."

"There was a way to open it from this side, too, wasn't there?" BA splashed cold water on his face and neck, rinsed his mouth and spat a stream of water into the corner drain.

Vic removed a collapsible cup from his vest and handed it to BA, who used it to drink deeply from the tap. As he moved to put the stone cap back in place, Vic stopped him. "Let it run, BA. We'll need to fill the canteens."

The darkness was almost total now in the small room. BA sat down opposite the door. "We can't do anything if we can't see." A cool breeze blew in through the barred window accompanied by small insects flying into the room and buzzing around their heads.

"I know. Our guards are gone. I guess we have to wait until we're sure everyone is asleep." Vic sat next to him, rummaging in his pack.

"We still need light."

"I have lights."

"No. Really?"

"In the collar of my vest. LEDs with a small battery. I have a manual charger in one of the pockets."

"Why don't I have one of those vests?"

"You refused to wear it. Said it made me look like a wimp and you wouldn't be caught dead in it."

"Did not." BA grinned and buttoned a few shirt buttons. "It's getting colder. I guess the glacier makes the nights cold in the city. I'm going to get some shut-eye."

Vic started unfolding a compact silver space blanket from his pack. "Good plan. What do you think? About two hours?"

"Yeah." BA dug in his pack for his thermal blanket. "Why do you think they didn't take our packs?"

"Oh, they figure we can't get out and they'll get it all pretty soon anyway, I guess. Kobo took everything he immediately wanted."

"I suppose so. I wish I had my licorice twists." BA arranged some of the furs and covered himself with the space blanket and topped it with another fur. "Wake me in a few hours, Brother." He stuck his bare foot out from under the blankets and was almost instantly asleep.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Generational Wisdom

We met Mr. Earl Smith the other day and he shared the wisdom of his father, CE Smith, with us. Here you go.

Link to a father's prayer on Youtube.

Before you complain, think of three blessings you have. Once you get to the third blessing, you should forget your complaint.
If you can't think of three blessings, then you might want to think about your life, and look a little deeper. God blesses those who revere Him and follow Him.

If it's wrong, just don't do it. Don't bother trying to bend the rules or justify what you're doing. 
Just. Don't. Do. It.

If you're praying to God, then you must be willing to wait on him. Pray, then wait for an answer. (Cautionary tale here is Abraham's wife Sara, who took God's plans into her own hands because she couldn't wait.)

Don't take bible verses out of context. Know the whole story. I loved the example CE Smith gave his son.
He opened Little Red Riding Hood and turned to the page where it said "Grandma! What big teeth you have!" Then he closed the book and put it down.
So Grandmas must have big teeth.
See what he means?

Wisdom can be passed down from generation to generation. CE Smith passed wisdom down to Earl Smith, and Earl Smith blessed us with it as well.

And now Earl Smith has blessed you as well, thanks to his father.

To all the fathers out there, Father's Day is coming up. You can leave a legacy like CE did. Think about it.

God bless you all. Thanks for reading.