Sunday, January 1, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 12 - Barbarians!

One day while marching East, a scout returned with some rapidly-uttered words to say.

At once a crown of fragrant flowers was placed on Mac Crieche's head.  He was deposited in an open sedan chair and lifted high on the shoulders of the soldiers like the guest of honor.  The guest of honor, that is, only thoroughly tied up.

It was done with such haste that it could only mean one thing.  War had come.

A drum was beat and the battle-scarred and savage army fanned out like the seasoned fighters they were.  Once the commander was happy with the formation, he gave the musician a wave and the tempo changed into a good marching beat.

On they went, Mac Criechie's head bumping right along with marching feet of those who carried him.

Color drained from his face, as, from his high vantage point, he was the first to see the enemy appearing over the boulder-lined crest of the hill.  What he saw made his jaw drop.  Fur-lined barbarians clamored over the hill, so snarling and brutal looking that they made the heathen Illicrian horde look like Saints on parade.

As soon as the one army caught sight of the other, they ran toward one another at full tilt, shouting their snarling war cries all the while.  They flowed past Mac Crieche and his bearers like an angry tide, which was all the better for him, he thought.

At once they clashed and the brutal, limb-rending, spectacle of ancient warfare unfolded itself before his eyes.  Blood flowed freely.

He was so very nearly ill from what he could see, that he wished and prayed that the bearers would bring him no nearer the action.

One stray arrow swished past his ear before a second granted his wish.  One of the standard bearers, fell fatally wounded, causing the entire Sedan to topple over and land partially upside-down in a muddy brook.

He felt one of the other three men tugging on the sedan's pole.  The other two shouted at him and together they all ran to join in the battle.

The top of Mac Crieche's shaven head was quite cold, being pressed nearly eyebrows-deep into the black mud.  Water trickling in from above splashed into his eyes and nose, and, bound as he was, he could do nothing about it.

For many hours the unseen battle raged on around him.  At first, he hoped that yet another wayward arrow would not strike him dead.  After a long time inverted and under extreme pressure, his neck began to grow stiff and scream for such a relief.

Dusk had fallen by the time only one army was left on the field and the other, either dead or fled.

Soldiers, and a surprising number of non-combatants combed the field.  The pagans treated each fallen alike.  Whether friend or foe, the bodies were stripped of their weapons and valuables and then left for the wolves.

Mac Crieche was so out-of-sorts that by the time the sedan was righted, he didn't know what was going on.  Chilled to near hypothermia by the icy stream, and brain jumbled with blood from being upside-down all afternoon, he could do naught but stare as the strange, dirty, pagans came to inspect him one by one.

One very hairy individual with a wild, unkempt beard got all up in his face.  He looked behind him for some sort of confirmation, then turned back. 

He jabbed Mac Crieche's ribs with the handle of his battle axe and then shrugged and turned away.

Several other men looked him over as well, but it was clear that none had any idea what to do with him.

At last a maiden came up.  She was filthy dirty in her plain smock, with hair just as wild as the others.  Yet her strange pale blue eyes seemed to have a latent wisdom behind them.

She scrutinized Mac Crieche just as the others had done, even turning her head sideways to try and see if he would make sense from a different angle.

The men laughed.

"TurrĂº!" she turned and shouted at them.  Then she launched into a tirade in whatever language that was.

Of the body of men leaning on their weapons, the biggest and hairiest spoke up.  Whatever he said was so insulting that she turned away.  "Baaah!" she spat, waving the group off.  Her plain one-piece dress shuddering with the angry footsteps as she stamped off.

The hairy barbarian smiled and jerked his head in a "let's go", gesture to his comrades.

Though Mac Crieche was certainly not "all there", the thought somehow got through to his brain that he didn't know where he was.  Only that he was in the wilderness, in barbarian territory, with no supplies, night settling in, and, no doubt, wolves being drawn in by the scent of blood.

All at once being alone didn't seem like such a good idea.

He looked up to Heaven for guidance.  He was surprised to see his goose there.  For some reason he was always surprised when he saw it.  This time, he saw which direction it was headed and steeled his nerves.

As the barbarians slowly drifted off, he trailed behind them.


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 11 - Friends

Though Howell seemed to thrive on misinformation, there was no longer any doubt to the Moast group concerning who was part of his team and who was not.

The boy he had sat next to on the tour bus was a complete red herring.  He had somehow convinced the lone traveler that this was all some sort of ongoing practical joke at the expense of Jack and his friends.  (Which was partially true, after all.)  The other kid ate it up.

It didn't take long to expose this deception because, like Jack and his friends, Howell's group was also supposed to be a trio.

With a little more digging they found out that the two girls across the isle from him on the bus were really named Lola and Irmingard Rabishaw, and not "Jane" and "Mary" as their nametags claimed.

It was Misty's idea.  " 'Jane'?  Seriously?  Nobody would have names that generic." she'd concluded.  And she was proved right, (notwithstanding the muddy logic of it).

Over the miles, at various stops, the teams took turns testing eachother with various exercises in the covert arts.

It was during one of these, that Jack and Wendell exchanged a wink and immediately switched to using Lola and Irmingard's real names.  It was epic!  The girls were so flustered that they completely blew cover!

Score one point for the Yanks!

From the moment of Howell's phony phone call, pranks like were going on non-stop. 

Due to the fact that all luggage was kept out of sight in the cargo compartment under the bus, one never knew what would be in their bags when they arrived at their room for the night.

One time Wendell found that the entire contents of his toothpaste tube were swapped with clotted-cream scone filling - a very British gag, as if the culprits were not already obvious.

Wendell, the walking stomache, thoroughly approved of the switch.

By the next morning somebody had added a photo-reactive agent to Lola's makeup. The chemical was designed to change color when exposed to direct sunlight. 

On the bus, the results were compounded when she fell asleep against the window.  The entire left side of her face turned fluorescent orange!

Munich saw its first Oompa-Loompa tourist that day.

This one even earned Misty a high five from Lola's sister.

Soon, as the two groups became friends, the planned exercises became less of a rivalry and more of a nuisance.  They were more like a chapter of elementary school math that the teacher wanted to get through before recess.

Even Misty, who adored the spy games, found that she would rather see the sights with Howell.

One night the tour bus turned off European highway A-57 in Venice, but the "budget tours" did not allow for an overnight stay in the islands.  Rather, they put into Marghera for the night.

Who came up with the idea, nobody could remember, but a rough tally of the number of boys to beautiful girls led somebody to the idea of going out to a nice restaurant for a triple-date.

Misty had no problems in the world if Howell wanted to ask her out, but their surprising level of enthusiasm told her that Jack and Wendell were just as taken with Lola and Irmingard. 

The spy girls reciprocated their attraction in their own way.  Although according to the unofficial itinerary, they were supposed to poison the boys' meal that night, they decided not to spoil the mood.

Long after the other patrons had left the restaurant, Howell, Misty, Jack, Lola, Wendell, and Irmgard sat around the table laughing and talking.

"What time do you suppose they throw us out?" asked Jack to no one in particular.

"Nah, not in a classy joint like this." said Wendell.

Howell smiled, "I wouldn't have said it as American-ish as that, but spot on, my friend."

"I think I have just the thing."  Lola was up in a flash and gone before anybody could ask what she was up to.

Moments later she returned with a tea trolley following close at her heels.  Atop, a beautiful silver tea set.

A waiter, who showed all the signs of wanting to go home. (even in a "classy joint" like this) put out a place setting of small cups.  Into each, he poured hot liquid from a silver pot.

Lola nudged her sister and whispered, "I though we agreed not to --"

But Irmgard waved her off.

Once the waiter was done and on his way, Howell raised his ridiculously tiny cup, pinki extended in proper fashion.

"To good friends!" he declared and lifted it even higher in toast.

"To friends!" all agreed and swigged back their drink unanimously.

"Chqqaqqq" gagged Wendell.

"Okay, 'zing!' " agreed Jack.

Misty merely covered her eyes to keep them from popping out and rolling away.

Irmingard laughed.  "Cappuccino", she stated.  "Can't go to Italy and not try a cappuccino."

"Next time, warn a guy!" croaked Wendell.  But he wasn't angry.  He was too busy smiling at her.

And she was too busy smiling back.

It was a good evening - the sort of evening that never really ends because it lives on in your memory the rest of your life.  Good friends and good fun.

The trip passed like in a happy dream.

But all that changed when they reached Bosnia.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

(Reluctant) Book Review - Larger Than Life Lara

Larger-Than-Life Lara
Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
Cover Price: $9.99 USD 
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1430-4 
Release Date: November 2016 

Cover Synopsis:
This isn’t about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up. At least that’s what Mrs. Smith, our English teacher, says.

But the story is about ten-year-old Laney Grafton and the new girl in her class—Lara Phelps, whom everyone bullies from the minute she shows up. Laney is just relieved to have someone else as a target of bullying. But instead of acting the way a bullied kid normally acts, this new girl returns kindness for a meanness that intensifies . . . until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader.

I've been dragging my feet about writing this review for some time.  I didn't really like it and momma always said, "If you don't have anything good to say..."  Yet, unfortunately for me I also promised the publisher that I would give an honest review in exchange for the book.

So, it comes down to momma going head-to-head verses the Tyndale publishing team.  Cage match, live on pay-per-view!

But seriously, the premise is that the story is being written by a 10-year-old girl for a school project.  And I guess, in that regard you'd call it a success.  The rambling, disconnected thoughts, as well as grammatical and spelling mistakes all combine to give it the feel of an elementary school class assignment.

Of course there are two sides to that coin.  The opposite being: I want to read a good quality book, not some kid's class assignment!!!

This 10yo writer's goal is to write a story about something that happened in her life.  Intermingled with that she is also learning how to write, so we get little writing tips and suggestions sprinkled throughout.

As a homeschooling father I first I thought this could be used as a teaching tool, but as the story progressed I decided the teacher's methodology wasn't the way I would want to do teach it anyway.  And, of course, I've already graduated from elementary school (somehow against all odds), so I have a hard time seeing how this information does anything but slow us down.
Laura, the new girl in school, is fat.  Really fat.

Even in the face of some pretty brutal bullying, she is able to remain sweet and maintain a great positive attitude.

Bullying is really what the book is about.  It is really where the book shines.  It doesn't glorify it, nor does it shame the bullies!  Rather, it tells it like it is -- all the emotions, the pain and hurt, as well as the peer pressure aspect.

Best of all, it holds a message for the bullies themselves about how they can change.
It really is a great book on bullying!

I just... don't need a book on bulling.  (I homeschool, remember?)

This might be good if you need a book about bullying and the general meanness of kids, written in stumbling language that might make it easier for younger children to relate to.

If, instead, you're looking for a book to teach creative writing, I'd sooner recommend a more complete dedicated resource such as How to Write (And Sell) A Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris

Finally, if none of that applies and you just want a good story to read, well, you know what momma says...

Disclaimer:  As stated above, I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an hones,t unbiased review.  (Right about now they may be regretting the "honest, unbiased" part of that arrangement.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 10 - Tour Group

The bus driver mounted the steps to get his big machine warmed up.  The lengthy cranking of the stubborn beast served as a gathering call to the surrounding groups who began to gravitate toward it.

The tour guide, a tired-looking bleach blond in an outfit best described as "durable", introduced herself as Yvonne and began to run through their itinerary. 

Without pausing for breath, she jumped straight to her next rote script, laying down the basic rules of the game...  stay with the group, don't touch the museum exhibits, watch out for pickpockets, etc, etc...

Then she ran through it all over again in French.

To Jack and his fellow Bible Study team, this was particularly redundant.  They were fluent in both of those languages.

Much like the other travelers, they only half-listened to what she was saying as they tried to navigate the bus' narrow isle.  Difficult on a good day - nearly impossible amid the chaos of thirty other people all trying to get baggage stowed and seats found.

In the first seat they passed, was their contact Howell along with another boy, whose name was presently unknown. 

Sitting directly across from them were a pair of attractive young girls who, though also unknown, seemed like they belonged to his group as well.

"There's Howell."  said Wendell, loudly, and pointing.

Everybody involved in the clandestine rendezvous did a face-palm.

"What?" asked Wendell as the Americans kept inching their way rearward.

Looking down at Misty's disgusted expression, he asked more emphatically, "What??"

"That was about the least stealthy move I've ever seen."

Her battered Hello Kitty cell phone rang at that very moment.

She flipped the cover open, but before she could speak a voice on the other end said,  "Quite right, my little parakeet."

She was confused.

Jack nudged her and pointed.  Looking in the direction the finger indicated, she saw Howell and his team laughing and waving.

"How did you do--"  she called out, then realized what she was doing and spoke into the phone.  "My number...  How did you do that?"

"Captured your phone's routing signature as you walked past."  His voice took on a droll tone, "A trifling trick.  My, my, what they must teach you in the States.  Well, tah."  He hung up before she could form her rising anger into words.

"Clever."  Observed Wendell.

"Not that clever."  replied Jack.  His face wore a mischievous grin.

He reached into the pocket of his leather flight jacked and withdrew a small metal box.

The container read "Altoids", but the buttons and controls poking out like electronic warts meant that it contained anything but candy.  In fact, the gadget looked so cobbled-together that it bore the Dr Puttery trademark in spades. 

Jack, still grinning, said, "I traced that call, so we got his number too!"

He flipped a switch labeled, "replay" and held it up for Misty to see.  Flickering blue-green digits leapt to life on its tiny display.

At once Misty was furiously punching in numbers and brought the phone back to her ear. 

On the third ring the other end answered.

"Hello?  Scotland Yard 'otline.  Please state the nature of your emergency."

Misty hung up quickly and blushed.  "Cool trick."

"How do you suppose he did that?" said Jack, confounded.

"Was that long distance?" added Wendell.

They looked up at the sound of the other team roaring with laughter again.

"They're good." concluded Misty.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Juggernaught: Chapter9 - Nanyera

Nanyera was well-respected in the community.  She was very old in a culture that still honored age.  Her wrinkles, rather than being regarded as a cosmetic failure, were instead each numbered as badges of wisdom gathered throughout her many decades.

Nearly all to whom she was directly related had already gone on to Heaven ahead of her, yet all in the village regarded her as "Nanyera".  She was grandmother to all, whether directly related or not.

Like Lois and Eunice from the Bible, she served as a pillar of godliness and an inspiration to the younger members of her culture.  Due to her love and devotion to Christ, many felt that she would never die, but rather be carried to His side like Elijah of old, swept into the sky in a chariot of fire one day.

In this matter, they were, of course, mistaken.  The years began to hang heavy and even Nanyera knew that her time on Earth must soon come to an end.

And yet, the people were about to be surprised how close their assumptions had been.  This very night a chain of events began to unfold.  The first domino that would set off a chain-reaction that would rattle the very globe.

No one could have guessed -- no one could have foreseen that a simple old native Peruvian woman, shuddering and cold beneath her threadbare shawl in an unremarkable village high in the Andes would be so important to the unfolding to the history of humanity. 

None, that is, but He who is Author of such things, and She to whom He has chosen to reveal them.


Oh, yes, indeed, for tonight something was bound to happen that even Nanyera, in her many years of life had never seen.

Nanyera had a dream.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Juggernaught - Section II intro

Hey all,

I hope you're all enjoying the free Juggernaught story so far, but I've got to say, the Moast exciting is yet to come!
(See what I did there? ;) )

Anyway, bad puns not withstanding, I thought I'd cut in here with a brief introduction to the next section, Zombie Cult. ~dun dun duuuun~ With a title like that, you know it will be exciting! 

In it, our Peregrini friend as well as Jack, Misty, and Wendell go head-to-head against an ancient pagan deity.

Just as we were introduced to Mac Criche in the last section, in this one his story finally resolves.  To take his place, we meet a simple South American woman and her young grandson, who somehow hold the key to the whole mystery.  (AND to the Moast Unusual series in general!)

To celebrate making it to the next section and to make up for lost time I'll be uploading the next two chapters tomorrow morning.  Also, the first is rather small, so I didn't want short people by doing just one.

Live YOUR adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Queen of Atlantis - IN STORES NOW!

That's right folks, it's finally that time!  The book is officially RELEASED!  Woot!  Woot!

But before I get to that I'll do a little one-sided interview here and give a little background (to make this blog article less of a plug and give it some value).

A little over two years ago I came up with the idea for this series while listening to secular book-on-tape stores on my looong commute into the city every day.  Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, and the rest are masterful storytellers who can really get your adrenaline pumping with danger and intrigue.  I always wanted to share these exciting stories with my own boys, but all the sex, foul language, and other thematic elements made that impossible.

So I decided to write my own.

I already knew the sorts of extreme circumstances that the characters would be getting into, but the big question was, "How would a Christian react in these sorts of situations?"  I mulled this over for quite awhile.  (Yeah, I'm a "muller".)

What shook out was this concept of a Bible Study group -- something common that most of us are familiar with, but with a twist.  Where sometimes church small groups (another name for it) take on special interests like mens' and womens' groups, different age ranges, or hobbies, what if there was a group that happened to be focused on saving the world?

From there, it became a matter of assembling a team that could do it.
I've often been amazed by the wide range of folks you often find in Christian churches and groups.  I mean, people who would never have anything in common are suddenly thrown together and now considered brothers and sisters.  Church culture gets this strange potpourri dynamic happening where vastly different people now have to learn how to try and relate to one another. 

I wanted to capture all that, while at the same time each person must bring his or her own piece to complete the puzzle together as a team.  The "body of Christ", being the Biblical analogy.

Here's the cast, in brief:

   Michael Moast - a real man's man.  Strong and silent type.  Also, a self-made millionaire.  The guy who pays for all the team's toys, and gets the bill for all of their mistakes.

   Melinda Moast - his wife, an old-money heiress who would prefer things clean and simple, but rarely gets her wish.

   Dr Puttery - a reclusive and eccentric scientist / inventor.  He's always ready with a spliced-together gadget or key fact and doesn't mind arguing for his offbeat opinions.

   Ms McCready - as you'd expect, a matronly old Irish woman.  As you would NOT expect, she is also an expert sniper once involved in US covert ops, and has names, addresses, and overdue favors from many unscrupulous characters around the globe.

   Wendell - long and lanky, yet with a bottemless stomach.  This young man never shies away from peril, nor pun.

   Misty - just as short as Wendell is tall.  She has a low self-image, but is an expert in martial arts.  She finds a kindred spirit in Jane and the two become fast friends.

   Kurt - a running gag.  We never really see Kurt.  And he always seems to collect some bizarre injury that takes him out of the action for the duration of the book.

   Jack - our dashing young hero.  He's a James Bond / Indiana Jones / name your cliche, young man.  Things never seem go his way, but he'll fight his way though against any odds.

   Jane - our main protagonist.  As the book description says, she really doesn't have any special ability that she can point to.  In fact, she suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, which makes just leading everyday life hard, let alone such extreme circumstances as what the Bible Study must face.

Like in real life, they each react to one another differently.  Sure, they sometimes even get on eachothers' nerves at times, but they always have this deeper bond that holds them together through it all.

From there it was simple.  All it took was two, plus, years of grueling, often exhausting work.  In fact, most days I was living exclusively off crackers and cheese as I sat hunched over my laptop in the parking lot on my lunch break.

Very long story, short, it did finally come together, and I am proud of that.

In fact, my eldest son is reading the paperback as we speak, so that alone is enough to bring a tear of satisfaction to my eye.

Furthermore, I honestly do think that it developed into a great story and a great adventure with many interesting surprises along the way.  I'm quite confident that you'll enjoy it too! :)

I guess that's as good a segue as any to get to the purchasing details:
You can get the paperback on [here].
Or a kindle version [here].
Or if you have some other brand of eReader, you can get it [here].
 But what if you're not sure if you want to buy it or not?  Maybe the concept seems good, but you don't know if you'll like my writing?

That's fair.  All you need to do is follow that last link and you can read the first 20% of the book for free to see if you like it.

But honestly... you'll like it! ;)

Live your adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

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