Kanana: The Jungle Girl – Chapter 1 Excerpt

The Jungle GirlWe stood on the deck of the S.S. Louisa May and watched the coastline roll gently past. Beyond the flawless stretch of white sand overhanging with coconut trees was a thick growth of jungle brush and more exotic trees stretching up for the sky—big leaf mahogany trees, Brazil nut trees, giant kapoks, and massive capironas. Wisps of morning mist still hung in the air, undisturbed by any breeze. Buzzing through these vapors like airplanes dodging through the clouds were six-inch dragonflies. Except for the low chugging of the ship’s engine, there was no sound, until the air was suddenly rent by a deep throaty roar of some unknown creature inside that dark and haunting primeval forest. Colonel Roosevelt clapped a hand on my shoulder.

“What do you think, my boy, of your first close-up view of a new world?”

I looked at him and said something, I no longer remember what, but I turned immediately back to the emerald panorama gliding swiftly by. It had been a horrible series of events that had conspired to bring me to this distant spot, early this Monday morning April seventh, the year of our Lord 1913.

I had fully expected that by my thirty-third year, that halfway point in a man’s life, I would be settled down with a pretty wife and two or three above average children. But providence did not see fit to make this easy for me. Becoming a man in the height of battle on the slopes of Kettle Hill created a burning desire for adventure in my heart that the brief conflict with the Empire of Spain failed to quench. I traveled to South America and saw much of that land, and then to Africa and even to Southeast Asia. I then spent five years in Europe, working for my keep as I toured the ancient lands of Greece and Rome and their successors. When I at last found my way back to the good old US of A, I was more than ready to settle down, to find that pretty wife, and to start that family. Luck was with me. I found a new job and a beautiful girl. For two years everything went my way. Then it all fell apart.

“Henry… Henry.” The hand on my shoulder shook me back to the present.

“I’m sorry sir. What was that?”

“I was just saying that we should go aft and enjoy a cup of coffee.”

I turned and followed him down the length of the ship. “I wanted to say Colonel, that I voted for you in November.”

“I had no doubt.” He grinned. “A good many people did, but the electorate has spoken. That is not to say that I might not make a similar run sometime in the future. I am still fit as a bull moose.”

“Indeed sir, you are the youngest former President that I have ever heard of.”

“The secret to youth is a vigorous life. I have no need to tell you that. Look at you. You are a strapping man of heroic proportions. Why, I recall you as a rather scrawny boy when I think back to our days in Cuba. Private Henry Goode—no, he did not look at all promising.”

“I can’t believe that you remembered me at all,” I said, thinking back to three weeks before, when I booked passage on the Louisa May in San Francisco.

“I remember all the men of our volunteer regiment,” he replied sincerely, “and a good number of the Tenth’s Buffalo Soldiers as well. There is a bond forged in such situations that is not easily to be set aside.”

A steward handed each of us a cup of coffee and we sat down in a couple of sturdy folding chairs. My eyes again sought the rainforest moving smoothly past us. Roosevelt leaned over, bringing my attention back to him.

“It is quite an interesting coincidence that we both find ourselves on the same vessel sailing into foreign waters.” I started to protest, but he held up his hand. “I take you at your word that you didn’t know I was aboard, despite the fact that Kermit and I have hardly been secretive in our planning. No, what I want to know is why, if you are not planning on joining our quest, are you are on your way to Elizagaea.”

“It’s… I can’t Colonel. It’s too raw. It will eat me up if I talk about it.”

“Say no more then. We won’t discuss it.” He leaned back and took a sip of his coffee. “We will discuss something else. What shall we speak on? Politics? Religion? I am versed on more than a few topics.”

“That,” I said, pointing at the shoreline.

“That is the great unknown. Its very existence as the enigma it is has drawn to its edge Kermit and me, and presumably you.”

“Yes sir, but what do we know of Elizagaea?”

“Ah, well if it is a history lesson you desire Henry, you shall have it. But we must go back half a millennium to start, long before it was common knowledge that the world is shaped like a great ring around the sun. Back then, prevailing wisdom was that the world was round. In 1492, Columbus set out to prove it. He was proven spectacularly wrong when he bumped into the continent of America. Twenty-seven years later, not yet convinced of either the shape of the world or its vastness, Ferdinand Magellan sailed around South America to cross the great Pacific Ocean. He eventually reached the Kiyeng Kuan islands, where he was killed for his trouble. By then Vasco da Gama, sailing in the other direction, had reached India and his successors sailed on to China, Indonesia, and Japan, discovering the Shikoku Ocean beyond Asia. For a while both Portugal and Spain were content to reap (or rape) the lands that they had found, but there were sturdy adventurers who traveled beyond.

“In 1595 Sir Francis Drake sailed beyond the Kiyeng Kuans to discover the continent he named Elizagaea. Just as Drake was planting his flag in the distant west, William Parramaribo, had set off to the distant east to discover Nytlandvit, though it would be three years before he returned with the news. You know the rest: how Spain’s and Portugal’s fortunes waned and how others rose to take their place, how Britain and France vied for the west and out of that struggle new nations were born, and how the Dutch became rich from the distant eastern trade routes. You know of the rise of the United States and its struggle through civil war, and you know of the spirit of independence in South America, Africa, and Asia. You know how Perry and Cook discovered continents beyond Elizagaea. You know how Lazerev and Wilkes found lands beyond Nytlandvit. All this we all know, and yet these distant lands remain largely unexplored.”

A Great Deal of Patience – Eliza

Now that A Plague of Wizards and Kanana: The Jungle Girl are in the can, so to speak, I’m back at work on His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience.  One of the major characters is Eliza, or should I say, the Eliza series of Daffodils. Eliza is statuesque blond robot.  There are at least three important Eliza’s in the story.

Eliza Septuntray, who first appeared in His Robot Girlfriend: Charity, is the head of Daffodil in Springdale.  Eliza Millennium works for the California Department of Child Support Services, and Specialist Eliza Ochodiez is in the U.S. Army, stationed in Japan.  All of them have an important part to play in the story.

A Plague of Wizards – Chapter 19 Excerpt

A Plague of WizardsLord Dechantagne walked through the doors of the new bookstore, followed by Walworth Partridge. What they found inside was a veritable wonderland for bibliophiles of every stripe. It was as bigger than any store in the colony with the possible exception of some of the larger purveyors of dry goods and sundries. More than a dozen tall counters were filled to capacity with books of all varieties. At least half that many tables were dispersed among the shelves with stacked displays of new editions.

Half a dozen people called to him, and we waved back, smiling.

Within a few minutes he had found a copy of his cousin’s new novel. He scanned the blurb, but didn’t find anything about her he didn’t already know, and didn’t find out anything about the book that particularly made him want to read it.

“Lord Dechantagne, how lovely to see you in our store,” said Sherree McCoort, sliding up next to him.

“You’ve certainly gone all out. This has to be the preeminent bookstore in the world.”

“Especially now that you’re here,” she gushed.

“I see you have a good selection.”

“The best,” she agreed.

“Good. I would like to purchase a collection of books.”

“What genre were you interested in, My Lord.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter. I want one hundred books. They must all be recent printings of editions from the last decade or so, have well-constructed leather covers, and the print on the spines should be clear and legible.”

“That’s it? You don’t care what they’re about?”

“Well, they should be good books,” he said. “But their primary purpose is to fill in some holes in our library shelves. Take Walworth with you and see what you can gather together.”

“My Lord?”

Augie turned around to find Sherree’s husband.

“Mr. McCoort, what a pleasure to see you up and around. No lingering effects?”

“I’ve fully recovered, thank you. I have a young man here with a um…difficult question—nothing scandalous, I assure you. It’s just that he needs some advice and I could think of no one better to offer it to him. If you wouldn’t mind, he’s seated at the tete-à-tete along the back wall.”

“All right,” said Augie walking to the area indicated.

A heavyset blonde man, a few years older than himself, sat nervously fidgeting with a pocket watch. When the young lord approached, he jumped to his feet.

“I know you,” said Augie. “Your Mr. Buttermore’s son.”

“Yes, sir. Easton Buttermore.

“Let’s sit and you can explain to me your problem. I can’t promise I have all the answers, but I am happy to listen.”

“It’s about this watch,” said Buttermore.

“It looks very fine and expensive.”

“It was a gift, from Senta.”

“Your girlfriend?” Augie asked. There were probably, at that moment, about two hundred young women and girls in Port Dechantagne with that famous first name.

“No. The, um, Drache Girl.”

“Really?” Lord Dechantagne suddenly sat up straight in his chair. “I have to tell you I have no way at all of determining what magic might be on it.”

“No, no. It’s not that. It’s the inscription.”

He slid the watch across the table. Augie hesitated only a moment before picking it up and turning it over in his hands. It was antique and beautifully decorated on front and back. He flipped the lid open. The watch face was a work of ultimate craftsmanship, obviously a precision timepiece. There was a small separate seconds dial on the right, and the phases of the moon on the left. Turning it around, he read the engraved message. To Grand Master Wizard Cavendish from Lord Callingham on behalf of a grateful empire.

“What do you think, My Lord?”

“I think on the one hand you have a very, very fine watch—better than mine, I can tell you that. On the other hand this rather makes you an accessory after the fact to murder.”

“Mother of Kafira,” gasped Buttermore, his lip starting to sweat.

“I suppose the first question is: do you want to keep it or sell it. If it’s the latter, I would gladly purchase it from you for oh… let’s say five thousand marks.”

“That’s too generous, My Lord. But, um… some people get upset with you when you give away a gift… and I don’t ever, I mean ever, want her upset with me.”

“Well, that is good thinking,” agreed Augie. “I’ll tell you what. Do you know Yulia’s Fine Jewelry over in Zaeritown?”

Buttermore nodded.

“Take the watch there. Tell Mr. Yulia that I sent you, and that you want the inscription removed completely. If you want a new inscription, perhaps with your name, have him do it. He’s very good. And have him charge it all to my account.”

“But… but why, My Lord?”

“Because we’re friends. Isn’t that enough? We are friends, aren’t we, Mr. Buttermore?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Excellent. Now be on your way. I would have that done sooner rather than later, if I were you.”

“Thank you, sir.” Buttermore got up and hurried from the bookstore.

Augie leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head, as he waited for Walworth and Mrs. McCoort to finish his shopping.

Kanana: The Jungle Girl – Preorder at Kobo

The Jungle GirlKanana: The Jungle Girl is now available at Kobo Books for Kobo devices and apps. It’s 99 cents and the book goes live Friday Nov. 25th.

In a world substantially different from our own world in 1913, former Rough Rider and adventurer Henry Goode crosses the vast ocean to explore the unknown continent of Elizagaea. Spurred on into the wilderness by emotional trauma, he finds vicious creatures from a bygone era, savage natives, long lost civilizations, and a mysterious jungle goddess.

A Plague of Wizards – Chapter 15 Excerpt

A Plague of WizardsHsrandtuss nodded knowingly as he surveyed the forest for miles around from the top of hill his people had named Dhu-oooastu. He pointed first to the south and nodded to Tusskiqu. The great lizzie hissed in reply. Then Hsrandtuss pointed to the southeast and nodded to Slechtiss. Slechtiss placed his hand to his throat and then hurried off. A dozen brightly painted lizzies hurried after him. Others went with Tusskiqu. Still more were hurrying this way and that.

“I can’t tell what’s going on?” said the single tiny human amid the army of lizzies.

Hsrandtuss reached down and picked Terra Dechantagne up, setting her on his shoulder. Then he pointed high up into the clouds. The girl could make out little among the great fluffy masses at first. Then she saw something sapphire blue zipping across the sky at amazing speed.

“Is that it?”

“Yes,” replied the King. “That is Xecheon’s new god.”

“My eyes must be playing tricks. It doesn’t look any larger than me.”

“It is bigger than you, but not so big that I couldn’t still put it on my shoulder instead of a skinny soft-skin.” Then he gurgled loudly.


“We’re very nearly the same size,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be glorious to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a god?”

“It wouldn’t be a very long combat,” she said. “Dragon armor is essentially indestructible. They have teeth that can bit through steel, frighteningly sharp claws, and a barbed tail. They breathe fire and usually have some other breath weapon. They are extremely intelligent and are capable of magic.”

“Why did I bring you along with me?” wondered Hsrandtuss. “Was it just to depress me?”

“I will be quite honest, Great King. I have no idea why I’m here.”

“You are here to learn how to be a great warrior. Now, pay attention. The dragon is observing us for the enemy, so I have been very careful to let her see exactly where my forces are going. Tusskiqu is taking a force of four thousand to intercept their left column of war machines. Can you see their smoke?”

He pointed and the girl could make out about a dozen columns of black smoke rising above the trees in the distance.

“Slechtiss is taking a thousand riflemen and three thousand warriors to intercept the other war machines. Of course, that leaves our headquarters here completely unprotected.”

“But you have more than eight thousand warriors, Great King,” Terra pointed out.

“Yes indeed. But you see, the dragon has told their general, my old friend Tokkenttot, that I have left the bulk of my forces in Yessonarah to defend against their fearsome human machines.”

“Why would she think that?”

“It probably has something to do with the thirty thousand females painted like warriors who are even now patrolling the walls.”

“As I just pointed out, Great King,” said Terra. “Dragons are very smart. In addition, they are famed for their eyesight. They can see things that would be invisible to anyone else. They can see in complete darkness. They can see the difference in temperatures. How is this dragon going to be fooled?”

“You are only about six years old, so I am going to forgive your ignorance.”

“I am fifteen.”

“I still forgive you,” said the king. “You and Child of the Sunrise are the two smartest humans I have ever met. Perhaps you are remarkable specimens, or perhaps I have had very bad luck in the soft-skins that I have happened upon. But you are very young and sometimes intelligence does not substitute for experience. The dragon may very well notice something different among the warriors on our walls, but will she know why that difference is important? I don’t think so, and neither does Yessonar. Oh yes, little one. Do not forget that we have our own dragon.

“So where are the rest of our warriors?” whispered Terra. “I mean the real ones.”

“Ah, here is the next lesson. A great warrior plans where his battle will take place. That is how I killed so many of your people.” He paused to look for her reaction. She just shrugged. “We have carefully arranged for the war machines to ride over a series of underground caves that run in a long chain from just south of here to the west. I’ve had 20,000 males working the last 72 hours straight to weaken some of the stone supporting the cave ceilings. When the machines go over them, a few, relatively small charges will drop them down into the earth, along with all the warriors on foot that travel with them.”

“And when is this going to happen?” asked Terra.

Hsrandtuss pulled a gold pocket watch from a small pouch on his belt. Flipping open the cover, he examined it. “Assuming Tokkenttot is as foolish as I expect him to be, our counter attack will occur when the little hand is on the two stacked stones and the large hand is on the claw.”

“Eight-fifteen,” translated Terra. “In about thirty minutes.”

“Yes,” said Hsrandtuss, pulling her from his shoulder and dropping her onto a folding chair. He sat down on an identical one, and waved his hand. “Just enough time for breakfast.”

A male brought a plate full of kippers and sat it in the girl’s lap.

“Your favorite,” said the king, as another male gave him two large raw eggs and a small cooked bird. “Eat up. The battlefield usually makes one vomit their first time and it is better to have something on your stomach.”

“But we’re miles from…” Terra’s voice drifted off.

“Now you see the hole in the plan,” said Hsrandtuss, breaking an egg into his mouth.

“Um, you said we were unprotected here at the headquarters—completely unprotected. Surely that means that Tokkenttot will send a force here to attack us. It will be his best chance to kill you.”

“Yes, he will want to make sure he kills me. He really doesn’t like me. I expect him to send between two and four thousand warriors.”

“But why? Why did you make it seem we were unprotected… or wait. Are we really unprotected?”

“Well, as for why,” said the king. “Isn’t it obvious?”


“We want to be part of the battle! We want to feel the glory of victory! We can’t let Tusskiqu and Slechtiss have all the fun. Can we? Maybe… maybe Tokkenttot will have enough tail to lead the attack himself? What do you think?”

“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Terra, so off balance that she spilled all her kippers onto the dirty ground.

“Imagine it,” said Hsrandtuss, standing up. “There we are! At the top of the hill is Hsrandtuss the king, sword in hand! Next to him is Stands Up Tall With a King, her thunder weapon in one hand and her tiny but bloodied sword in the other! All alone…”

Several of the nearby males gurgled.

“All alone, but for a few sturdy warriors whose names will go down in history, they face off against one or two or ten thousand warriors of Xecheon, and Yessonar be willing, a dragon!” The great king took a deep breath. “A dragon! You could not find a better death if you searched a thousand years. I have never seen a better opportunity for my death than this. It’s not a bad death for you either, Kaetarrnaya. Your father had a fine death—as you yourself said, a good exchange, but this would be much superior. The humans can sing songs about your death—the bravest young female since… since that one that you humans admire so much.”


“Yes, that’s the one. Your death will be infinitely superior to hers.”

Kanana: The Jungle Girl – Preorder for nook

Kanana: The Jungle Girl -- Cover RevealKanana: The Jungle Girl is now available at Barnes and Noble for nook devices and apps. It’s 99 cents and the book goes live Friday Nov. 25th.

In a world substantially different from our own world in 1913, former Rough Rider and adventurer Henry Goode crosses the vast ocean to explore the unknown continent of Elizagaea. Spurred on into the wilderness by emotional trauma, he finds vicious creatures from a bygone era, savage natives, long lost civilizations, and a mysterious jungle goddess.