Legacy Blog #24: The Houses in Campbell

My Beloved Daughter,

We lived in two different houses in Campbell, MO.  The first was on Speedway Street.  It had originally been a two-bedroom house and the prior owner—an elderly woman—had purchased a metal, prebuilt shed and attached it to the back of the house.  I took that room as my bedroom and my Grandpa Winfred moved in with us and lived in the second true bedroom.

My bedroom had several issues that made it less than perfect.  First of all, as the shed, which the woman had used as a sewing room, was literally attached to my parents’ room, I had to walk through their room to get to bed every night.  Second, it wasn’t well insulated and the room was FREEZING in the winter.  This was made worse by the fact that I had jumped on the bed once and one of the feet of it, at the foot of the bed, had busted right through the floor.  The hole had remained there for the rest of the time that we lived there, though I had tried to cut the draft with everything from cardboard to duct tape.  Third, I burned a hole in the carpet while trying to perform an experiment with my chemistry set. When Grandpa Winfred moved out and put a camping trailer on your Great-Aunt Ruth’s land, I moved into his room.  It was bigger and warmer.  The carpet was perfect (your grandparents made me discard the chemistry set after I tried to use it to make the perfect bug poison).

My parents were paying $20,000 for that house, where we lived from January of 1984.  At the time, that was normal for a house in Southern Missouri, from what I understand.  When I was in the Seventh Grade—March of 1988—your Grandparents decided on a change of location.  So we moved to the house on Franklin Street.

The house on Franklin Street, which was one block from the General Baptist Church where your Grandma Pat was saved, was bigger than the house on Speedway.  It had four bedrooms, two of which were never used.  It had an in-the-floor furnace for heating (which wouldn’t work when too much water was under the house, like when the snow would melt in the winter—you know, when we NEEDED HEAT.  Your Grandpa Chuck had a garage, which he at least got to use sometimes.

There was a shed on the property that your Grandma Pat promised me that I could use as a club house.  Your Uncle Bobby and I went in there soon after we moved in.  To my horror, we found it to be infested with Black Widow spiders.  So, since your grandparents had made me discard my chemistry set and I couldn’t make any more poison, I never set foot in the shed again.

It wasn’t all bad.  As the house had two unused rooms, I let my imagination run wild in them.  In one of them, I cut out construction paper trees and taped them all over the walls to turn it into an indoor forest to “camp” in.  In retrospect, maybe some artificial, but natural-looking, plants would have been better.

The other room, I decorated for a Halloween party and never undecorated.  The room, with the fake cobwebs, looked even more unused than it really was.

By the way, this larger house was actually four-thousand dollars cheaper than the one on Speedway Street.  I had been puzzled by this when I was a kid.  Recently, your Uncle Greg told me that it had been in rough shape.  I guess this was something that I hadn’t paid attention to when I was in Junior High.

Sometime after we moved out of the house on Franklin Street, that furnace had caught the house on fire.  I’ve driven by it since I’ve grown up and it’s still there so it was obviously salvageable.  The last time that I drove by the house on Speedway, when your Grandma Pat was in the hospital after the stroke, it was no longer the nice house that your Uncle Greg and I remembered.  In fact, the entire street seemed a bit more run down.

That’s what I get for looking at things through rose-colored glasses, I suppose.

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Legacy Blog #23: Campbell Friends

My Beloved Daughter,

Being the socially outgoing person that you are, you don’t truly understand what living in a place without friends feels like.  During my early elementary years, we still lived in Van Buren.  Eight miles outside of the city limit, no children my age were in the area until I was in the second grade.  I did have a couple of “friends” at school (looking back on how they really treated me, I use the term loosely).  A kid who was antagonistic toward me at school moved out to our area when I was in the second grade.  He would come down and hang out after school and on weekends but still treat me like dirt when we were in school.

Not a real friend.

When we moved to Campbell, I met real friends.  I met Ernest, who would take up for your pacifistic father when he was bullied.  I met Billy, who was being raised by his single father and grandparents and who once told your Grandma Pat that he wished she were his mother, too.  I met Tony (that was his middle name; his first name was Richard), who had to suffer through being your cousin, Sarah’s first crush.  I met Ryan, who loved G.I. Joe and had an older brother, Jamie, who did awesome things, like host a Halloween party, to entertain his brother and friends.  I met David and Daniel, twin brothers who were each other’s best friends.

Of course, at this time, I met your Uncle Bobby.  Of all of the friends that I met at this time, he was the one with whom I kept in mostly constant contact over the years.  Of all of the names on this list, he was the first of them that you met.  We watched each other grow up and, knowing that he was abused by his mother, your Grandma Pat tried her best to give him a place to go where he could be safe, at least for a little while.  As of this writing, he works as a counselor at an addiction shelter and is married to your Aunt Brandy.  The two have a daughter named Madison and they all live in Springfield, MO.

I have, due to the wonder of Facebook, managed to get back in touch with the other Campbell friends on this list.  While Ernest isn’t on there, his wife, Maggie, has been.  Through her, I know that he works as a heating and cooling repairman in Tennessee.  He spent time in the Army after high school, as well.

Billy (now Bill) grew up to pastor a Baptist Church in Arkansas.  From what I understand, he got saved in college.

Tony (now Rik) works as a welder in Campbell and is married to a teacher.  He loves guns as much as your Uncle Donald.

Ryan lives in Poplar Bluff and is in a band.  His brother founded a comic book company and I see him every time we go to the Cape Comic-con.

I only recently got back in touch with Daniel, one of the twins.  He’s an over the road truck driver and is married with children.  Sadly, his brother, David, died of a brain tumor a few years back and I regret not having been able to say goodbye.  Book Six of the Adventure Chronicles will be dedicated to him.

These were my childhood friends.  They made my younger years more interesting, to be sure.  As this blog goes on, I’ll discuss my high school friends, as well.

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Cover Reveal of The Ultimate Agent by Derek Borne

#CoverReveal #TheUltimateAgent #DerekBorne #ComingSoon #SuperheroSpy

Pre-Order on Amazon here: myBook.to/UltimateAgent
Add To GoodReads TBR Here: https://goo.gl/Y0MK9K

Official Website: www.derekborne.weebly.com

Release Date: April 15, 2017

Synopsis:
WARNING: THIS MISSIVE CONTAINS CLASSIFIED INFORMATION

 

Your Mission:

Undertake an adventure of epic, global, and dire proportions.

 

Agent #524 – Devon Bertrand

Once a normal civilian, Agent Bertrand has been recruited by the Ultimate Agency—a secret organization of the world’s best spies. Now, after undergoing genetic upgrades, he has become a superhuman agent dedicated to fighting against all threats against the nation he now calls home.

 

Agent #146 – Brett Gallagher

A brilliant scientist, Dr. Gallagher invents and utilizes technologically advanced gadgets and weapons to fight against national security threats like a modern day superhero.

 

The Target – Maximus Romanov

Employed by a mysterious Russian terrorist group, Romanov is a superhuman operative wreaking havoc in the United States.

 

Mission Data – Confidential

Join Agent Devon Bertrand and Agent Brett Gallagher on a mission to stop Romanov from destroying the United States. As Bertrand and Gallagher work to discover why Maximus harbors a deep hatred toward America, they uncover a conspiracy brewing against the Ultimate Agency, and one man will make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

ua-ebook

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Legacy Blog #22: Fun with Burnt Cheese

My Beloved Daughter,

This week, I’m going to stay out of chronology.  I’m going to discuss cooking.

Yep.

I’ve never been much of a cook.  Just ask Vickie.  Or your Uncle Bobby.  Or your mother.  Or your Aunt Karen.  Or your Uncle Joel.  Well . . . just about every person I’ve been around would say that my timer sounds suspiciously like a smoke detector.

Vickie, your Aunt Karen, your Uncle Bobby, and your mother are the best cooks that I know (who are still alive).  Obviously, Vickie is the most important to me on this list.  I absolutely love her enchiladas, something that I know you like, as well.  She regularly experiments and comes up with some of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever had.  About the only thing she has issues with is baking.  As she says, “If it has sugar in it and it goes in the oven, I’ll burn it.”  To this end, I’ve started learning how to bake.  You’ve tried some of my (admittedly boxed) cakes.  You’ve also tried my homemade peanut butter cookies.

I also like to work with cheese.  You’ve tried the grilled cheese sandwiches that I make using shredded cheese.  What I’m going to talk about is going to stem from the little crispy pieces of cheese that have fallen out of the bread and onto the pan.

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2012.  I cheat on my diet . . . all the time.  On the other hand, Vickie was diagnosed with it in May of 2016, while she was in the hospital after having the stroke.  That was in May.  By September, she had been hospitalized with a diabetic seizure.  Her blood sugar was over 600 and her A1C was near eleven.  To put it in perspective, I’ve regularly hovered around a 150 in blood sugar and 7 to 8 in A1C.  Normal is around 100 (I think) in blood sugar and below 6 in A1C.

So it’s much more serious for Vickie.  Our doctor actually told her that he wants her off of ALL carbohydrates that are “white or brown”.  Basically candy, bread, crackers, potatoes.  Pretty much all she can eat are fruit (in moderation), meat, cheese, some nuts, and vegetables.  This makes her diet rather boring.  And I want to try to keep to the diet with her, as I don’t ever want to get to the point where I have one of those seizures or, Heaven forbid, a stroke.

I came up with this recipe by accident.  Your mother doesn’t like Cheez-its crackers.  Vickie does.  I don’t know if your grandparents do, but you might pass this to them, if they do.

As I mentioned earlier, I love to eat the cheese that falls out of the sandwiches and crisps up while I’m grilling the sandwich.  A couple of weeks ago, Vickie had baked a frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu.  The cheese ended up leaking completely out of it and crisped up in the oven.  The taste of that cheese was better than the chicken.  So I did a little research.  I learned that Cheddar crisps up pretty good when baked.  American is pretty good, too.

I preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  I line a baking sheet with parchment paper, dumping small piles of shredded cheddar onto it, leaving space between them to let them spread.  After baking for thirteen minutes, you have a really tasty chip.  We dip them in salsa.

I also cut slices of American cheese into quarters.  Placing them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, I also bake them at 375, but pull them out after roughly ten minutes (it may take a little longer but be careful, because American cheese burns easily).  Make sure you let both kinds of cheese cool sufficiently so that it’s not gooey anymore.  They both get crispy (the cheddar more so than the American).  The American cheese tastes exactly like Cheez-its.  And they only have 2 grams of carbs per serving.

It’s actually kind of fun to experiment to see what we can find that can replace high-carb foods without losing the flavor.

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Guest Post: The Redsaw Origin and How I Write Supervillains by A.P. Fuchs

A.P. Fuchs is the King of Indies.  He’s been doing this for most of his adult life.  A while back, I asked him to write an article about creating super villains . . . particularly Redsaw, the foil to his super hero, Axiom-man.  So here we go:

redsawcrop

Disclaimer: The following article is meant for those who have read some or all of The Axiom-man Saga. If you have not read the series, please stop now and consider checking out the series first (http://bit.ly/1oy9MJU) as this article contains spoilers, namely Redsaw’s secret identity, which is part of the mystery of the first book.

 

Like Axiom-man, Redsaw has something of a muddled past. I’m talking about his real life origin, not his story one. However, Redsaw didn’t really come together until writing Axiom-man. Until that point, he was more an idea that never materialized in the mental fantasy I had going which eventually birthed The Axiom-man Saga we know today. All I knew about my overall fantasy was there were two cosmic beings at war. One that represented Good (known as the messenger in the saga), and one that represented Evil (known as the master). How these cosmic beings work is they each have champions on multiple planets throughout the universe, one guy stepping forward for them and duking it out on these planets while these two cosmic beings fight it out elsewhere. Usually, the messenger only puts his man in place once the master strikes an unsuspecting world. On Earth, the messenger’s champion is Axiom-man so, you guessed it, the master’s main man is Redsaw. What’s interesting to note is Axiom-man was put in place shortly before Redsaw’s arrival, a pre-emptive move on the messenger’s part and for reasons revealed in the series.

 

Redsaw is the main supervillain of The Axiom-man Saga.

 

That should bring you enough up to speed on who’s who in my superhero universe.

 

When it came to creating Redsaw, other than knowing he had to be the bad guy, he needed to be more than just the bad guy. The first thing I decided was it was imperative he was more powerful than Axiom-man, first and foremost in his superpowers—which are similar but stronger—and secondly as his human alter ago.

 

In costume, Redsaw can fly twice as fast, is twice as strong, and the energy beams he shoots from his hands do twice the damage.

 

Out of costume, Oscar Owen is rich, well-known, and utterly confident, whereas Gabriel Garrison (Axiom-man) struggles with money, is a nobody, and has self-esteem issues.

 

But that’s just the superficial stuff.

 

Even the name “Redsaw” is superficial in that I needed a cool name for a villain and “red” typically represents evil and “saw” was named after a sawblade, a dangerous weapon if used to kill somebody. The jagged lines on Redsaw’s red and black costume represent his own jaggedness and danger—again, the sawblade thing.

 

Going deeper, however, I didn’t want a bad guy who was the bad guy simply because he was the bad guy. In other words, I didn’t want a bad guy being bad for bad’s sake. There needed to be a reason, and the best reason for any villain in literature or film is the one that says they’re the bad guy because they don’t have any other choice. They have a strong motive that turned them down a dark path. A classic example is Darth Vader. He joined the dark side to save Padme. The dark side consumed him and we all know the rest of the story.

 

Oscar Owen was chosen by the master because Oscar drove himself hard to rise from poverty and become a somebody and tried to be a good guy with his powerful position. Once joined with the black cloud that gave him his superpowers, even then, he strove to be a hero like Axiom-man. He just didn’t know joining with the black cloud came at a cost and the black cloud transformed him into someone he wasn’t: the reluctant villain. The villain you and I can relate to. The one that, if you or I were put in their shoes, would do what they do no matter how dark or despicable because, from their point-of-view, they’re doing the right thing even if the cause is evil.

 

That’s the kind of main villain I was after for Axiom-man: someone like him. Someone who strove to do what they perceived was the right thing. Unfortunately, for Redsaw, his “right thing” is the wrong thing, but thankfully we have Axiom-man there to stop him.

 

Regarding other supervillains I’ve created—Char, Bleaken, Battle Bruiser, and Lady Fire—they all have something in common and it all goes back to what I did with Redsaw: they’re more powerful than the hero. It might be their powers, it might be their intellect, but either way, my villains always have a leg up on Axiom-man so they’re a challenge to fight. It’s the only way to create true conflict in the novels otherwise, if they were weaker, Axiom-man would stomp them into the ground every time and the story would be over in a few pages. Sure, it’s fun to have a few purely-human bad guys for Axiom-man to quickly dispose of, but when it comes to his superpowered rogues gallery, I needed my bad guys to be stronger than the hero and make him really dig deep whether physically or mentally to put the villains away for good. And even then . . . they might not always stay put, but for what I mean by that, you’ll have to check out the books and see for yourself.

 

A supervillain—breaking down the word—sure, the “villain” part is easy. It’s the “super” part that’s hard because that goes beyond their powers. They need to be above average in who they are as a person. They need to be motivated by something beyond what gets us normal people through our day. They need to be motivated by something “super.” It could be a tragedy, a misguidance, even a dark heart birthed out of something beyond their control in years past. There’s no such thing as a person who’s born bad. We all make choices. Some yield Good. Others yield Evil. Others take us down roads filled with both. Throw superpowers into the mix and you have the potential to create a superpowered problem that only a superhero can fight.

 

As for Redsaw, well, like Axiom-man, he’s on a journey, too. One that can only lead to one place. As for where or what that is, you’ll just have to read and find out.

 

About the Author: An independent writer and cartoonist, A.P. Fuchs has been part of the underground publishing scene for thirteen years. He is the author of more than forty books, loads of comics, short stories and poetry, and has a weekly newsletter called The Canister X Transmission, in which he currently discusses writing and publishing, gives away flash fiction, and speaks whatever’s on his mind that week. He’s the author of The Axiom-man Saga, and so far eight books of the fifty-book series have been released. In 2016, he celebrated Axiom-man’s tenth anniversary and re-released the first novel as a special edition with bonus material. Sign up for his newsletter at www.tinyletter.com/apfuchs and get a free thriller e-novelette out of the deal, and be sure to visit him on-line at his main hub at www.canisterx.com

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Legacy Blog #21: New Year’s Superstitions

My Beloved Daughter,

As I write this, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.  It’s hard to believe that another year is pretty much over.  2016 was a trip, to be sure.  We lost many famous people.  But we dodged a major bullet by electing Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton.  Trump’s not perfect, by any means.  But anything is better than what we’ve had over the past eight years.  Many people believe that Obama was simply an imbecile who didn’t have the common sense to be the leader of the Free World.  I, on the other hand, have a different point of view.  I think he went into this with the intention of destroying democracy.  That’s why he stabbed our only ally in the Middle East—and the only democracy there—in the back recently.

But I digress.

Needless to say, 2017 is coming.  It makes me miss your Grandma Pat all the more.  You see, she had some pretty weird superstitions about New Years.

First of all, we weren’t allowed to do laundry on New Year’s Day.  The belief that, if you did laundry on New Year’s Day, a family member would die.  When someone would die, I could remember racking my brain to remember if we did laundry on New Year’s’ that year.  Even last year, when your Grandma Pat died, I remember wondering about it.  Logically, there’s no truth to it.  Only God controls life and death.

Second, we had to eat black-eyed peas and hog jowl.  The latter part sounds grosser than it is.  It’s just really ham.  I actually kind of liked this superstition.  I still love beans and ham.

Third, we were taught that, whatever you do on New Year’s Day was something that you would do frequently throughout the year.  So we always tried to do something fun on that day.

I don’t believe any of these things, to be true.  But they always remind me of your Grandma.  It’s funny how even the silliest little things seem so special now.

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Legacy Blog #20: Politics

My Beloved Daughter,

Ronald Reagan ran for his second term as president in 1984.  This Republican was an incredibly popular president . . . to everyone but our family.  His opponent was Walter Mondale, a former Democratic Vice President (under Jimmy Carter, who Reagan had thoroughly spanked in the 1980 election).  This election has a special place in my heart as the point when I first became interested in politics.  I was nine.

I remember asking your Grandma Pat what the difference was between a Democrat and a Republican.  Your sweet, naïve grandmother explained it thusly:  “A Democrat takes from the rich and gives to the poor.  A Republican takes from the poor and gives to the rich.”  I could almost picture Mondale in the green hat with the feather, swinging in with his bow and emptying the coffers of the Sheriff, who looked a great deal like Reagan.  If this was really how things were, how could any good person be a Republican?

I resolved to do more than understand things in this way.  I resolved to become the best darned Democrat that I could be.  I soon learned that Democrats were primarily liberal, so I studied that viewpoint.  By the time I was in Junior High, I had adopted a worldview that, frankly, scared your grandparents—despite the fact that I was just becoming what your grandmother professed to being.  I thought that guns were evil.  I thought that the Government‘s responsibility was to rule us.  I thought that a man should be able to be in love with another man and a woman with a woman.  I thought that an unborn child was not a human.  I thought Jesus didn’t belong in school.

An aside about that last line.  I remember, in high school, the day of “See You at the Poles.”  A day when people would gather around U.S. flags and prayed for our country.  In my pre-Redeemed mind, I was offended to see my classmates flaunting their religion so thoroughly at our school when they did this in the front yard of the high school.

Back to telling this story in chronological order.  My freshman year of high school, I had the honor of taking a public speaking class with the ever humorous Tim Hager.  Mr. Hager was a young teacher at the time—in his mid-twenties.  He was easy-going, joking . . . and conservative.

The two of us enjoyed a four-year political debate during my high school career.  I remember laughing at him in glee when Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992.  He took it in stride, but I now feel extremely bad about acting that way.

Mr. Hager was an intelligent man.  He knew what he was doing.  He knew that a person who examines the facts will feel more confident in his position.  So he gave me a few assignments:

My freshman year, he assigned me a speech in which I was required to explain why Dan Quayle (George H.W. Bush’s Vice President) should be our next President.  I came to realize that he was much more intelligent than we liberals had ever given him credit for.

In a debate class (Junior year), I was assigned a gun control debate in which I was against it.  I came to realize that making guns legally harder to get would only hurt people who actually obeyed the law.  Criminals are criminals because they break the law.

In the same class, I was given a debate in which I was supposed to show that stronger sentences for repeat criminals were good.  I showed how the early release of a hundred criminals in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois resulted in a tidal wave of violent, preventable crimes.

So, by the time I graduated from high school, my views were starting to change.  But I still considered myself a Democrat.  In 1992, when I was twenty-one years of age, I voted for Bill Clinton in his second term.  He won.

Also that year, I began going to the Assembly of God church in Ellsinore, MO, where I became a Christian.  The biggest thing that happened to me regarding my political views was that the minister who led me to Christ, Phil Tanner, challenged the congregation to read at least one chapter of the Bible every day.

I took to this last request with gusto.  It took me well over a year, with me usually reading more than the requested number of chapters each day.  I read the entire book of Romans in one day.

But, as we’ve always learned, God’s Word does not return void.  By the time I had finished, Scripture had changed me.  I had already started to become a secular conservative.  But I was now a religious conservative, as well.  You see, God decides what constitutes romantic love.  So two men and two women should not be able to flaunt their passions in the face of God’s design.  And God knew each of us in our mother’s womb, so abortion is nothing short of infanticide.

Over the years, I’ve also come to realize that the government should not control the citizenry.  We, as adults, are supposed to do everything that we can to support ourselves because citizens who depend on the government for support are easier to control.

When your mother was pregnant with you, she couldn’t travel.  So I had to go to my Ten-year class reunion alone.  Tim Hager was there.  I proudly told him that he was right and I had been wrong.

He told me that he would have waited a lifetime to hear those words from me.

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