Friday, July 01, 2022


Bored spitless? There are a ton of books (very light since they're ebooks) discounted on Smashwords July Extravaganza sale. Find something to read in just about any genre. Many free and 99 cent books available.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Happy Solstice and Happy Birthday Janae!

Summer Solstice – More Than Just the First Day of Summer
It's Also My Beautiful Granddaughter's Birthday!
(June 21st 9:13AM UTC, 2:13AM PDT)

In historical terms, the Solstice is the exact point of time when the daylight outstrips the night in length. That’s hard to reckon, particularly since the exact point in time depends on where you live. Why should that be?

Take a look at model of the solar system, specifically look at earth. If it’s properly oriented, then it’s a bit tilted, not straight up and down as you might think. Stand back a bit further, and you can see the earth doesn’t travel in a circle around the sun, but in a big oval called an ellipsis.

Since the Solstice varies when it occurs (anywhere between June 20th -23rd), most people won’t know exactly when the earth moves from Spring to Summer. Instead, a variety of festivals from different countries and people celebrate Midsummer. Fortunately, astronomers are available to let us know exactly when the solstice occurs.

Many cultures celebrate the Summer Solstice. A few of these celebrations are: Adonia, St. John's Feast Day, Jani, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Mittumaari, Alban Hefin, Gwyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, and Rasos. Oh, my. That’s a lot of celebrating! Wherever you live, you can have a party.

Another group of professionals other than astronomers who can tell you when the solstice occurs are witches. No, not the evil witches with warts and ugly noses, but the Wiccans who inhabit my books and Galdorheim Island in the Barents Sea. This is a fictional place, but is quite close to some very real islands in the Arctic with very real people who live on them.

Midsummer for Wiccans is called Litha. Just like every people who had some means to really look at the movement of the stars and planets Well, the earth is moving, but from where we stand, it appears the stars are the ones in motion. They are, but I’d refer you to Doctor Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the narrator of the Cosmos series, for exactly what’s going on in the universe.

In the second book of my Witches of Galdorheim series, “Midnight Oil,” the exact time the Solstice occurs is crucial to the plot. The magical midnight oil is a curative required by a tribe of mutant Nenets tribespeople to heal the radiation poisoning which deformed them. It must be administered at the exact time the Solstice occurs. The year I selected had to have that event occur (somewhere in the world) at almost precisely midnight on June 20th (close to this year's 11:43pm Murmansk Oblast Time). Some confusion about the exact moment of the Solstice almost leads to the restorative oil to arrive late at its destination. After all, the Solstice usually occurs on the 21st, but not this year.

A lot happens to thwart my heroes from delivering the oil on time and in good condition. An evil forest spirit happens to possess the oil. But this isn’t simply a “find the magical thing and deliver it” plot. There’s a lot going on in “Midnight Oil.” A kidnapped boyfriend, mutant tribesfolk, Ajatar the forest spirit, a man who was tragically disemvoweled (lost the ability to pronounce a, e, i, o, or u and sometimes y), a witch trapped on the lost island of Atlantis with the Loch Ness monster, and, um, there’s lots more to discover in the book.

So, back to Litha, the Wiccan midsummer celebration. One of the most famous places in the world to observe the Solstice is at Stonehenge in England, but only if the Solstice occurs during daylight hours (not this year). Nevertheless, the midsummer celebrations (June 25th) take place no matter what time the Solstice actually happens. Stonehenge would be a great place to party. 

Fun thing to do: Find out when the Solstice occurs where you live (compare your local time to Greenwich Meantime).

All the Galdorheim Series books are all on sale at Smashwords in July. Amazon prices vary with various marketing campaigns. Keep checking back. The Compleat and True History of the Witches of Galdorheim (all books and stories) is only $2.99 at Smashwords.

A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home.

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.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.

MIDNIGHT OIL - This is the book depending on the exact time of the Summer Solstice.
Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

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.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

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.

While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat's brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too. Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.

Unfortunate events lead a half vampire boy into indulging his vampire side, leaving him with regret and sadness. Can dear old Dad help him forgive himself?

Following the events in the series Witches of Galdorheim, this additional tale relates what happens to Katrina the Witch's younger brother, Rune. Half vampire and half warlock, he faces life with a wisecrack and some powerful magic. Whatever happens, he does not want to be a vampire like his father. Unfortunate events lead him to fatally call on his vampire half. This failure leaves him in anguish. How can he assuage the guilt he feels? His mother thinks he needs to visit dead old dad, a vampire residing in the Tatras Mountains of Slovakia.

SPELLSLINGER (Prequel Story)
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.

That things will go horribly wrong is a given. But how does Rune get into and out of the predicament?

This prequel story to the Witches of Galdorheim series gives the reader a chance to get to know the smart-aleck kid, Rune, before he got his magic down pat.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Happy Juneteenth and Fathers Day!

Double Duty Holiday - Fathers Day and Juneteenth!

Happy Father's Day to those who deserve to be honored. It's not Bad Dads Day, so the rotten sperm donor just stand over in the corner and shut up.

If even a single person is not free, nobody is truly free. Celebrate Emancipation Day, even though it took Texas until June 19th, 1865 to be informed they were on the losing side of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. That's why Juneteenth is celebrated, although the Amendment was not ratified until December of that year. I'm showing my home state of Oregon's celebratory logo for the now official Federal Holiday

Nothing celebrates freedom as much as the fantastic Jon Batiste's Grammy Award Winning video, FREEDOM!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy Substitute Dads Day

For All the Adopting, Step, and Volunteer Dads - You deserve to be wished 
a Happy Fathers Day too.

Tales of a Texas Boy is a series of related short stories loosely based on my father's stories about his boyhood in West Texas during the Depression.

It all started with a cattle drive. Yeah, right, pop. Nobody had cattle drives in the 1930's. Well, yeah, they did. My father, Eddie in the stories, got to ride herd when he was only eleven years old. That was sure the highlight of that year.

His father, Louis (my grandfather), had been a veterinarian with Blackjack Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces. That's what they called the army during WWI. In the service, he became friends with an interesting old guy who happened to have a bear. When Dad Boles brought Sophie to the annual fair, Eddie loved to sit by the campfire listening to some dandy whoppers.

Eddie had a pretty busy life for a boy who lived miles away from the nearest neighbors. He managed to find plenty of trouble to get into, but had a big heart to soften his bad-boy image. No matter that he loved to aggravate his sister, he took care of her when she and her pony were almost swept away by a flood.

The boy cared about the rattlesnakes, the jackrabbits, the jackasses, and even old Cage McNatt's prize sow. He went fishing with a special borrowed float, then proceeded to lose it, find it, then give it away.

These are simple tales without any big events, unless you consider the despair of the Great Depression hanging over everybody's lives.

Yes, I made up some aspects of the stories, and I even made up a few completely, but most of the book is as true as a Texas Tall Tale can be.

If these kinds of stories appeal to your father, your mother, uncle, aunt, or even yourself, I think you'll be glad to read my father's stories. Since he died last August, I'm proud and relieved to have gotten around to writing the stories, having several published separately, then putting all of them together in one book. I decided to feature Large Print since my father's eyesight was failing.

Tales of a Texas Boy is available in Large Print on Amazon for $9.99

Hard Cover for $14.99 

And the audio book is available as additional links on the Amazon pages for $6.95 
and at (free if you subscribe to Audible)

It's also in epub and MOBI format on Smashwords where you set your own price. 

Friday, June 10, 2022

New Book Review - The Royal Yot by Renee Duke

The Royal YotThe Royal Yot by Renee Duke
 Buy on Amazon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if one of your friends said they were going to a Yot? To, rather than on. In a verbal exchange, your clever mind would be thinking about a yacht.

But you wouldn't have a clue what a Yot is.

The Royal Yot is a very clever and unique story about a federation of planets seeking to protect their worlds with a wonderful shield available from the kindly Xinthuvans, but only if the rest of the planets in the Sovereign Planet Alliance (SPA) can convince the Xinthuvans to join.

The one hitch is that Xinthuva wants to meet all the royalty ruling the SPA worlds at a grand YOT (not yacht). Given that very few of the SPA member worlds actually have royalty, the planets have to scramble through old genealogy records to find somebody, anybody, they can claim to be their planet's royalty.

Admit it. You haven't heard this plot before. In any case, it gets stranger as the spaceship carrying all the royalty (or pseudo-royalty) of the SPA worlds makes its way to Xinthuva and it transpires that there are some aboard who, for reasons of their own, want to kill the whole Yot. And a few people too.

You don't need more than this to dive headfirst into what happens when people become "royal" out of the blue. (And if you’ve ever checked your family tree, I know you were looking for that princess or king in the lineup. By golly, you're royalty! Woo hoo!)

Telling us this story is a queen, Her Royal Highness, V’Tarala XXI, Azana of Azan. AKA Tara Smith, Ordinary Citizen (Earth) and Re-activated Ruler (Azan), and as she narrates, we, the readers, can amuse ourselves with the flippery of the shanghaied royals from all the SPA worlds.
This is a soap opera on hyperdrive populated by the characters from Games of Thrones. Who are the good guys, and who are the guys trying to throw a monkey wrench into that gathering known as the Royal Yot?

But, for goodness sake, it's easier to read The Royal Yot than have this poor reviewer continue blathering on when she need only say, "Get this book. You'll love it."

View all my reviews

Monday, May 30, 2022

In Memoriam

Father: Edward P. Perkins, WWII, 11/27/1921 - 08/01/2011
Grandfather: Louis P. Perkins WWI, 08/16/1888 - 12/11/1953

And to all the others in my family who served their country in the times of war.

Ebook     Large Print   Hard Cover   Audio (on
Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Memorial Day - 2022

I could not think of any more fitting words than those of Abraham Lincoln delivered at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 memorializing the fallen soldiers. It is so appropirate for today's Memorial Day Remembrance.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father

Saturday, May 28, 2022

In Memoriam - WW I - Pa's Story

Everyone has lost someone in war. Go back far enough, maybe it was the Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or maybe even the Hundred Years War. It's good to take a moment to honor them.

There are also those who go without remembrance even though they gave their lives, not voluntarily, but because others just had to shoot, bomb, and kill. We don't know many of their names, but I'm pretty sure my grandfather did.

My Memorial Day remembrance is for the horses and mules who were absolutely essential to and died because of war. WWI. My grandfather was a veterinarian in the Expeditionary Forces in France. This is what he recalled (loosely interpreted by me).

From Tales of a Texas Boy 
Stories by and about My Father
Pa’s Story
World War I took many young men away from their homes and sent them off to foreign shores. Eddie’s Pa was one of those young men. He has his own tale to tell.

In 1916, I was still a young buck and not yet married, so I signed up with Black Jack Pershing to go after Pancho Villa. Ol’ Pancho and his banditos had come into US territory and killed a bunch of folks in Columbus, New Mexico.

I was really good with horses, so soon I was the veterinarian. This was just as well, as I didn’t take well to using a gun. I’d never studied vetting in school, but I’d grown up on a farm in Nebraska and knew just about all there was to know about horses and mules. We chased Pancho and his gang just about all over Mexico but never did catch up with him. A couple years later, I was still in the service, so I ended up goin’ to France with Black Jack when he got to be a General. I could have decided not to go as I’d done my time, but I knew Black Jack could put me to good use.

We were on the troopship for weeks. Everybody was seasick for the first few days. The horses seemed to fare fine in that regard, but I was worried we couldn’t exercise them enough. We brought them up from the hold, a few at a time, and let them stretch their legs. We’d lead them in a quick walk around the deck. With the metal decks, we didn’t want them to move very fast for fear they’d slip and fall. I’d hate to have to put down a horse with a broken leg, so we took it real easy. As a result, the horses were not in good fightin’ shape by the time we landed in France.

It took some time, but me and Joe, who got assigned to be my assistant, got them in shape again. Mostly the horses were used to pack gear, but a few officers still rode them. Black Jack Pershing liked to ride on occasion, as did Captain Patton. I thought we should only have mules since they make better pack animals than horses, but there were never enough mules to go around.

We weren’t in too many battles directly as we were the supply line for the army, but in 1918 it turned pretty bad when we went into the Argonne Forest. They called this an ‘offensive.’ I can see why as it offended me a lot. The fighting went on for nearly two months and only ended in November when the big guys signed the Treaty at Versailles.

In that short two months, it was hell on earth. Thousands of men died. One whole division, the 77th, was cut off for near a week and held out surrounded by the German forces. It was some battle, I can tell you. Almost all day long, I could hear the shells bursting and the sharp reports of rifle fire. And I heard the screams of dying men and horses.

The worst part for me was the horses being swept up in the middle of the battle. It broke my heart to go out on the fields after the fighting passed by and after the dead and wounded men were collected. Sometimes the ground was so soaked with blood that my boots were covered before I got back. A horse with an artery torn open bleeds gallons of blood; men only a few pints. It angered me when I thought how much the horses gave. They didn’t even have a say in goin’ to war. Men, at least, had a choice.

I carried a sidearm and had to shoot more horses than I can count. Those we could save, we’d bring back to the line and see if we could treat their wounds. It was a second heartbreak when they wouldn’t heal proper and we’d take them out behind the tents to put them down. We dug a deep trench to bury them for health reasons and we kept digging every day to hold them all.

While we treated the horses, close by we could see the wounded men being brought back from the battlefield. Legs and arms were already gone or had to be cut off by the doctors right there in the field. From the history I’d read about the Civil War, this was just about as bad. If the choice was amputate or die, then they had to do what was necessary. We dug another trench to hold the arms and legs the doctors cut off; the dead soldiers we wrapped in oilcloth to be sent back behind the lines, where we hoped to send their bodies back home to their families.

All told I spent twenty months in France. It was the worst part of my life and I hoped and prayed we’d never see another war like this again.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Happy Memorial Day to My Own Vet (Lucky for Me He's Still Kicking)

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a mention of my very own veteran, Jack (cute, isn't he?). He served in the Philippines before Vietnam became "official."

He was in Intelligence, which meant he spent his time listening to communications between the Viet Cong who were already fighting with South Vietnam for the unification of the country into a single Vietnam under the Communist party. Heaven forbid the US would allow people to choose their own system of government.

Anyway, the US was listening in while only a few "advisers" were on the ground in South Vietnam busily trying to prop up the puppet government.

The result: Millions of Vietnamese dead--soldiers, fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, sisters. More than 58,000 American dead. And none of the killing did anything useful at all.

Nevertheless, whether the fighting and deaths were senseless or not, US military put their lives on the line and many died. That's why we salute Veterans. They did all that was asked of them and did it well, but the war was never going to change Vietnam unification. Vets are not saluted for winning, but for giving their all for their countries. This they did with honor.

In honor of all vets from all wars, I hope you'll give the gift of Tales of a Texas Boy to a veteran you love from Amazon.

Amazon Kindle Ebook
Large Print Paperback 
Hard Cover
Audio Book  free if chosen as the first book when joining

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.

Here's a bonus feature. Little Eddie telling another of his stories in his own words. Turn up the volume, the recording isn't the best.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Sweet Tales for Mom - Give Her a Book for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday and you still have time to get her something nice. If your mom is in the same generation as my mom she grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, experienced WWII as an adult, and is fond of stories set in rural America, this is a book she will enjoy. Also, if she's sight-impaired, it's available in a Large Print paperback and audiobook.

These are stories about my father. He's passed now, but he took great pleasure reading his almost true tall tales. I think you'll enjoy them too. The descriptions of stories below are of particular interest to mothers.

Here are the buy links:
Large Print Paperback Amazon $9.99
Large Print Hardcover Amazon $14.99
Ebook:  Kindle Ebook  
Smashwords EPUB/MOBI Name your own price as low as 99 cents.
Audiobook (also available through (only $6.95)

Here are a few of the twenty-one stories included in the book.

Ma’s Story

Mothers have their own joys and sorrows. Too often they keep their feelings to themselves and even their own families don’t know.

WHEN I WAS a boy, my Ma was a woman of few words, which surprised quite a few folks. The town ladies came out to visit on occasion and she’d go to town to return the favor, but mostly she listened. That did set her apart from the gossipers and them that just liked to talk to hear themselves.

Crossin’ the Creek

Kids went to school, but they didn’t exactly catch the school bus outside the house. Getting to school could be an adventure.

IT’D BEEN RAINING forty days and forty nights is what Ma said, but I only counted up eleven days myself. She did tend to put things in Bible sayin’s, so I won’t say she was lyin’, just exaggeratin’ for effect.

The Thief

The Great Depression was beginning to seep into the lives of the people in West Texas. Insulated to some extent, they began to see the repercussions of the droughts by the people who came south from Oklahoma for relief from the dust storms.

IT ALWAYS MEANS a good time when Pa lets me go with him in the truck. I liked the truck a lot and sometimes he’d let me drive a ways, too. This time, Pa planned on goin’ further than Hereford. We were goin’ to go to Amarillo, the trip some fifty miles. It would take us most of one day to get there and do what we needed to do, so we’d have to camp overnight somewhere along the way.

Out of the Chicken Coop

Most animals on the farm were there for a purpose, rarely as pets. That meant that animals were not allowed in the house like they are today. If they got in, however, it wasn’t always easy to get them out again.

WHEN I WAS just a little kid, no more’n seven if I remember rightly, I was down in the chicken yard tossin’ grain like I was tol’. This one little red hen started followin’ me around instead of peckin’ up the grain like the other chickens. I thought it strange, but just went about my business.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Quick Review on Mark Twain

Mark Twain: The Complete NovelsMark Twain: The Complete Novels by Mark Twain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's taken a good chunk of my reading time to work through Mark Twain's complete novels. Whew!

I thought I'd already covered Twain's works through college, but there are a couple of books here I never heard of before (The Horses Tale, for one) and a couple I thought I had read, but apparently did not.

If you've enjoyed any of Twain's books, including the two great American Novels, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, then you're RIPE to read some more. Some of the novels are fairly brief so you can tuck one in among your other book selections. That's one reason it took me such a long time to read. I finished a few other books along the way.

I can't possibly sort and winnow the best since, hey it's Twain! If you don't think you'd like Twain, give this a try anyway. You might become a fan and you've not wasted much time.

A lot of Twain's opinions are seriously gobsmacking and about 100 years ahead of the rest of us slowpokes. I thought "Puddn'head Wilson" was a kid's story, but was totally surprised by the view it gives us of race relations. The unfairness of it all and the recognition that many things have not changed is unsettling, to say the least.

I'll just finish up "Connecticut Yankee" and I'll be done with this book. It has a lot in it I didn't recognize when I read it in my teens. Now about all those short stories. I'll bet there's a whole raftload I need to read. I'll bet I can get a freebie from Project Gutenberg. Sam won't mind. He's dead and doesn't need the money.

You thought you knew Samuel Clemons' work? Maybe you don't know it as well as you thought.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 02, 2022

Recommended Book Lists - What Authors Read

 Shepherd Books is a site for authors to tout their works, but it adds a bit of pizzazz to it by having each author recommend five books in a category they make up themselves. There are quite a few cross-over lists that are shown after the Author's List so it spreads like kudzu. Book after book is recommended by the authors and they tell you why they liked it. The reviews are brief, so it's not too much of a pain to jump from one list to another browsing for something that appeals to your inner reader.

Here's my page on Shepherd Books and a shot of the first page. I'm promoting my fantasy series, The Witches of Galdorheim. My list's title is "The Best Books that Combine Magic with the Mundane."

Note the paperback (525 pages) is listed on the Shepherd page. The e-book is much less expensive and is also a Kindle Unlimited book, which is free if you subscribe to the KU program.

Here's the first page of the list of my recommended books. Click through to see all my recommendations PLUS a bunch of Closely Related Book Lists, such as "The Best Books of Protagonists Coming of Age While Facing Seemingly Insurmountable Challenges." Whoo. That's a mouthful. You'll find yourself gleefully going down the rabbit hole finding book after book you'd love to read.

Note that all the books featured on Shepherd are available at My books are all there as well: Marva Dasef on

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Let Me Tell You a Story 4/15/2022

This story is only on Wattpad, so you can read it there and see what else I have up there. This one was never published because Reader's Digest no longer exists and the "A Funny Thing Happened" feature went away with the magazine. You can Google it, though, and read some of the ones that were published.

Here's the link to Wattpad if you want to browse. Hey, while you're there, give the story a *. 

Friday, April 01, 2022

What is It About the Name Vlad?

Vlad Tepes - The Kazikli Bey

Most of you have heard of Vlad the Impaler, right? Count Dracul, the model for Dracula? Well, Kazikli Bey is the middle-eastern translation for something like “The Impaler Prince.” Born in what is now Romania in the 15th Century, he certainly gained a monstrous reputation. His popular last name, Dracul (there are many spellings) came from him signing up for a Hungarian chivalric group, the Order of the Dragon. Vlad’s father was also a Dragon member and the Dracula name is a title.  Vlad’s family name was Basarab. I’ve seen a couple of horror works where the authors did enough research to hone in on the family name, revealing only later that the evil monster is none other than Dracula.

The real Vlad was a nasty character. He directed his wrath against the Ottoman Empire for the most part. His habit of impaling his enemies on stakes (not only heads but sometimes entire bodies) earned him the title of The Impaler Prince. When Vlad was still a child, his father was ousted from his own throne of Wallachia. Vlad the elder made a deal with the Ottomans to get back at his fellow countrymen. To secure ties to the Ottomans, he sent his two sons as hostages. The elder son, Vlad Junior (Mr. Impaler), was defiant toward the Sultan and was beaten quite often. On the other hand, the younger son, Radu, ingratiated himself to Sultan Mehmed II and even converted to Islam. He was given the title Bey and served Mehmed II leading the Janissaries (think Special Forces). Vlad Jr. came to hate the Ottomans for his treatment and waged a long and bloody battle with them. His nasty habit of impaling enemies earned him the title, Impaler Prince.

In “Setara’s Genie,” I thought that giving ol’ Vlad a different face would be a nice twist. What if Vlad didn’t really impale anybody? What if he was trying to gain peace between the rampaging warlords that messed up Romania? It’s all in the PR. If he puts himself out as the baddest mother in the valley, wouldn’t you think it a bad idea to cross him? Considering that the real-life Vlad spent his youth with the Ottomans, learned Turkish, and studied the Quran, he might have actually had some respect for his former captors. What if he did perpetuate a reputation of badassery just to keep the peace?

In my book, Setara tries to go off on a cruise ship and ends up in a slave market. Lucky for her, an ancient crone pretty much forces her to buy a pendant. It’s Kismet (another middle-eastern concept)!   Basit is captured in a bottle of wine, and Setara can’t get him out of the bottle of djinn. She’s hauled off to the slave market, while her genie gets pickled.

The Kazikli Bey happens to be in the market for slaves and, noticing that Setara is wearing the locket stolen from his mother, he purchases her. He turns out to be a really nice guy, releasing Setara from bondage and ensuring her safe journey homeward with Basit, who is out of the bottle, but afflicted with one monster of a hangover.
The Tales of Abu Nuwas


“I have this girl up for sale. If she catches the eye of the Kazikli Bey, then she should fetch a good price. Keep her well-shackled. She tried to run away.”

The captain grabbed the front of Setara’s tunic and yanked the top lacings loose. She twisted away. “Stop it!” Her face reddened when the pirate exposed more of her chest than was proper for an unmarried girl her age.

The trader took the chain on her shackles and pulled her behind the platform. Many men, women, and children sat or stood with chains attached to wooden columns by iron rings. A boy of only six or seven hugged a woman’s side, crying loudly. She soothed him, but it didn’t help. One of the trader’s helpers jerked the boy away from the woman. She tried to hold him, but the man dragged the child away from her.

Setara looked around, trying to think of something she could do, but calling out for help was useless. Soon, they led her up to the stage. The auctioneer looked her over and grabbed her jaw to pull her mouth open. She struggled to turn away.

“Good teeth. Not a bad body. How old are you, girl? Fifteen, sixteen?”

Setara jerked her head away from his filthy hands. “None of your business, you piece of camel dung.”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” He shoved her to the center of the stage and began the auction.

“Who will give me one hundred shekels? She’s a strong, healthy girl. Good for household or fields.” He winked at the crowd and added, “Maybe your harem is in need of some fresh blood.”

Setara’s face burned with humiliation. She looked out at the crowd of men, for the crowd was entirely male. No self-respecting woman would come to a slave auction. The audience laughed and nudged each other’s ribs. Setara felt sick. She wondered if it would put them off if she threw up on the auctioneer’s sandals.

The Kazikli Bey looked at her intently. He rose from his throne and walked up to the stage. “Bend down, girl.”

“I will not. Keep your slimy hands away from me!”

The auctioneer pushed her roughly to the front of the stage and forced her to lean over toward the man. He reached up, and Setara closed her eyes, afraid of what would happen next. She felt a slight tug on the thong that held the amulet.

“Where did you get this?”

Setara opened her eyes and looked into the soft brown eyes of the Bey. She saw no menace there. Instead, she felt a strange attraction to him. In a flash, she realized this was the face she had seen in her vision.

“In Gamaal. I bought it from an old woman, a witch.”

“Ah, of course. Her name was Seralgo?”

“That was the name on the shop.”

The Kazikli Bey turned to the auctioneer. “She’s mine. Take her off the block.”

* * *

A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.