Saturday, June 23, 2012

A City Girl's Trip down Reality Lane or Livin' The Dream (NOT)

City Gal’s Trip Down Reality Lane (Part 1 & 2)

Ten years before we retired (which was three years ago) my husband, Jim, and I bought 54 acres of land in rural NW Arizona.  As Jim’s job as a jet ski mechanic was seasonal, he spent those ten years of winter, building our retirement home.  I was somewhat concerned as he had never built a home and though he was a wizard with mechanics and electricity, this could be a very costly experiment.

He assured me that he had read everything he needed to know and it would be.…fun.  Well the “fun” started right from the get-go with the layout of the house.  Where was my walk-in closet and walk-in shower?  The bathroom is too small, the bedroom is too small, do we really need a kitchen, and so on and so on.  I’m not proud to say I had to use the phrase – “If you want me to live here…..”  Not one of my finest hours, but sometimes we women do what we need to do!

During the years of building, I worked for a school district, therefore; I could only come up on weekends.  Jim lived in a very small travel trailer.  The stove worked, the oven did not.  There was no heat and on cold days/nights you could see your breath IN the trailer.  I was a city girl, through and through!  He does own a mink blanket from Korea that was a Godsend.  It was deliciously warm.  I can’t tell you how many times I thanked the good Lord above I only had to be there one or two nights.  Okay, let me get back on track!

Unless it came out of a can Jim cooked all his meals on a campfire.  We would sit out there in front of a fire, in the cold, while Jim talked about how much he loved our place, and I listened to what sounded like 500 coyotes, ready to attack at any minute.  Have I mentioned the part about “city girl”?

The bathroom conditions were a whole different can of worms and it is a subject I have tried very hard to wipe from my memory.  Let me just say, we had already had out septic system put in and since the bathroom in this trailer didn’t work most of the time, Jim whipped up a system that included one of the clean outs in the septic line, a metal chair with a hole cut out of it and big funnel with three pieces of plywood surrounding the area, which blew over half the time.  I’m starting to scratch just thinking about it! 

That’s enough for now about my trip down Reality Lane.  I will be visiting with Kevin Hopson on his blog,, on June 29 and I will have more to say about “livin’ the dream”.  I hope you will join me.

One of the first things we did after purchasing our 54 acres in the middle of nowhere was sink a well. But before that could actually happen, we were told, by the gentleman drilling our well, to hire a witcher to find the best spot. There was no joking smirk, or even a look of amusement. This guy was dead serious and gave us several names to choose from.

So I call one of the names, from this point on he will be known as witch guy, and he comes right out. I got to say; he looked just like any ordinary Joe Blow on the street. He’s holding a slim 2-foot metal rod in each hand and starts walking our property. The story goes when the rods cross each other, you’ve hit pay dirt! He stops at a spot, not far from where we are planning to build and declares, “Here’s your water.”

I’ve never been a person to hide my skepticism and my expression must have spoken volumes. “You don’t seem convinced,” says witch guy. “Do you want to try it?”

I took the rods, held them so they layed lightly on my finger tips and walked over the area. Like magic, those rods crossed on their own. “Did you go to witch school for this?” He patiently explained how he had been an apprentice to another witcher and learned the craft that way. (Folks, they do walk among us!)

“Do you want to know how many feet you will have to dig to hit water?” witch guy asked.

Well, of course we did. He proceeded to rest one rod across his finger and let it bounce on the ground. That rod bounced 300 times. When all was said and done, we hit water at 275 feet, but they dug to 320 feet. $10,000 later, we had a hole dug, a casing with a pump installed and a 1500 gallon water tank. I am sure, without any water bill, we will have that investment recouped in an easy 50 or 60 years. I will say this – the water up here tastes unbelievably good! As a side note: We had the water tested and there were no chemicals or any kind of bacteria found!

Over the years, the trailer Jim was living in became a hostel for every mouse within five miles of our property. Let me say here and now, I HATE mice! One weekend when I was there, Jim woke up to me throwing tiny water bottles at a mouse that kept running back and forth on the kitchen counter. He grabbed his gun (which was loaded with snake shot) and aimed. The mouse ran under our tiny futon that we slept on. Jim was looking under that when I noticed the mouse was walking up the screen door. I whisper to Jim, “Look, here he is.”

BOOM! It’s true! Snake shot and mouse guts all over and in the middle of the night! The song, “You Know You’re a Redneck When” by Jeff Foxworthy was probably written for my husband.

It took about 4 years (or winters) for Jim to lay 2,000 cinder blocks, install windows and doors, have the trusses and roof put on. Glory Halleluiah! Jim could move out of the Mouse Palace into a completely enclosed block shell. It was indeed a day of celebration!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Juls Duncan stops by Penny's Tales

Welcome Juls!  Take it away.....

How Morgan Koda Adventures Series came to be…

The character Morgan Koda started more than twenty five years ago as a bedtime story for the author’s young daughter. Her daughter learned that only in a book could she go to different worlds where she was a hero. The author’s daughter is now in her thirties and is a devoted reader to her own young readers.
Then in 2006 Juls Duncan remarried and her new husband came with a six year old son. And Morgan Koda came alive again as she had before - in a bed time story.
But this child was different. He wanted his new step-mother to add something new to the story every night. So Morgan Koda grew as Julie’s new son did.
            When Juls’s step-son reached seven years old, he told her that he didn’t need to learn to read, because reading wasn’t fun nor was it important. So Juls started writing down Morgan’s story. The one story he enjoyed more than any other. Juls however, was a little resourceful, at night when her step-son wanted his bedtime story, the author would read up to a really good part, and then Juls handed him the paper. Though tears, fits, and just plan angry outbursts, he learned to read.
            In June of 2010, the author was arranging her files, and to her great surprise, she found that she had over a hundred pages of Morgan’s story. And just four months later, Morgan Koda and the Mask of Noesis was born.

Morgan Koda and the Mask of Noesis: By Juls Duncan
Morgan Koda has landed in a world full of magic; now she must survive it. He’s The Dark Emir. He’s deadly and he’s out there waiting for her.

Thirteen years old Morgan Koda has never had an adventure in her life until she hands her letter to a fabled old man. This mythical man leads her into a new world full of adventure, where magic is typical, and danger is the norm.

Discovering there’s an ominous object, a golden mask that has the capability of controlling or destroying a wizard’s power - is one thing. Being hunted because she’s the last in her line with the ability to control it, is quite another. For within the shadows of her new home a horrifying opponent prowls and The Dark Emir will stop at nothing to control her abilities with the aureate mask.

With the prospect of success Morgan travels through time in pursuit of the ancient artifact. Running afoul of a T-rex, a crazed band of war painted natives, and coming across a talking polar bear might seem a little strange. But to Morgan it’s all about the balance of power.

However, Morgan Koda unintentionally alters her own time-line and that of her world.

Excerpt from Morgan Koda and the Mask of Noesis.
The plant life was much larger. Huge leafs of green flora and enormous flowering plants of reds, pinks, yellows, and oranges surrounding her from three sides.  Their blossoms were as large trash can lid.
Morgan slowly turned her head taking in the plant life around her.  She had transported the four of them to the very edge of a lush meadow which was miles long and just as wide.
She stared in awe at the hundreds of huge beasts. They had gigantic bodies, long necks and tails, and were grazing throughout the valley.
Morgan had once seen animals like these in a book at her old school. The massive creatures looked like Brontosaurus some had their necks stretched reaching into the very top of the trees eating leaves. While others were drinking from the river that snaked through the center of the valley, many of the other smaller species of dinosaurs were moving around the larger ones. Morgan looked over the animals searching for familiar ones that she could name.
Movement from above the creatures caught her attention, and she did a double take on the sky. There were huge blackish-blue birds with leather-like wings flying in lazy circles over the dinosaurs. 
A loud cry from the trees over their heads drew Morgan attention, and she followed the sound up to what she thought was a very colorful parrot with an immense beak and overly long tail.  However, when the bird opened its mouth and hissed at her, she saw a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. 
A loud screaming echo wrenched her eyes back to the grasslands. The brontosauruses and the other smaller dinosaurs were suddenly in full flight across the valley.  Several sizable beasts were giving chase on their powerful hind legs.
Tristan, Raine, Rex and Sonny on the other hand, were not looking at the creatures charging across the meadow, nor were they staring at the colorful parrot-like bird in the tree above them. They had eyes only for the three massive creatures, which had been slowly making their way into the valley. The sudden appearance of Morgan, her friends, and the dog had caught their attention.  One of the brutes had halted in mid-step, slowly turning its ugly head in their direction, and slowly moved for where Morgan, Tristan, Rex, Raine were standing.  It observed them with terrifying orange eyes. The beast slowly stalked towards what it thought was enjoyable victims.
It took Morgan a moment to realize that someone was yelling at her.
“Morgan…” The voice shouted again.
“What,” She finally took her eyes of the meadow and turned towards the voice.
“Do you think you could get us out of here...?” Fear clearly etched Rex’s face, but he had yet to lose his since of humor.
“That looks exactly like a T-rex, and to tell you the truth, a T- rex with skin on it - is just plain wrong.”
Morgan turned to where Rex was pointing and saw a vast creature bearing down on them.
The T-rex had started to run on its enormous hind legs.  Morgan, Tristan, Rex, Raine and Sonny stood petrified as the brute suddenly opened its huge jaws, showing long yellow pointed teeth.  The whole group drew back as a horrible roar exploded from its gaping mouth.
Sonny panicked and would have run if he could have remembered how. His body was pressed so tight against Morgan’s side that he was about to push her to the ground.  His body was slowly sinking en route for the hard packed soil under their feet.
“Get us out of here.” He whispered.  Sonny’s pleading chocolate brown eyes were wide with terror.
Morgan tightened her hold on her friends.  At the same time as the T- Rex slid to a stop towering over them, that Morgan Blinked.
The T-rex howled enraged as its meal vanished.  The creature stared at the spot where its victims had disappeared, then shoved its great head under its abdomen searching through its huge powerful hind legs.  The T-rex was utterly confused as to where its prey had gone.

This novel is undergoing publisher changes and all relevant info will be updated shortly. Book Two in the series will be showcased on New Book Blogger in the near future.
Morgan Koda Adventures Series Website:

Morgan Koda Adventures Series Blog:


Juls Duncan lives in Montana with her family, and a yellow lab named Sonny JR. She is the author of the Morgan Koda Adventure Series.

Juls has always felt the need to tell a story, whether it was a bedtime story or a short story given as a Christmas present for family and friends.

Her education includes a Bachelors degree in anthropology from Oregon State University. Juls is continuing her education with a Masters degree, and then a PhD in anthropology from University of Montana.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare!

It is finally out!  I am so excited about this story as it is the first story in The Wickware Sagas!

Billy Cooper’s seventh grade class has been given a last minute, weekend assignment.  They must all draw a piece of paper out of a box and do an oral book report on the person or event that was drawn.  Billy draws the name, William Tel, whoever that is.
            He has a full weekend planned, but figures he will do a ten minute search and will be able to skate through the assignment, still having plenty of time for his busy weekend.

            His outlook changes when he finds himself in the fourteenth century, standing in front of William Tell’s house.  Billy’s twentieth century style and lingo has William Tell thinking the lad a little unbalanced, but asks him if he would like to go along with him and his son to the town of Altdorf.  It is here; Billy learns just who William Tell is and why he is a legend.


Billy jumped up, took two steps backward and fell hard on his back from about four feet up, knocking the wind out of him.  He was seeing blue sky and rolling green hills.  An old, two-wheeled wagon was what he had fallen out of.
The old man hurried over.  “You alright, lad?”
Billy jumped to his feet before the old man could help him up.  “Who…who….who are you?  Where am I?” Billy stuttered, panic shooting through his body.
“Easy lad,” the old man said.  “I was to bring you here.”
“Bring me where?  Who said to bring me?  Who?  This is crazy!  I’m not supposed to be here!”  Billy’s voice got louder.
The man pulled out a satchel of coins, smiling.  “Your mother paid me well to bring you to your aunt in Uri.”
“Uri?”  Billy asked.  “Dude, there’s no Uri in Arizona, I don’t think, and my aunt lives in Cottonwood.”
“Jonathan is my name, lad, not Dude.”  The old man reached for Billy’s head.  “Maybe when you fell you became…addled in your thinking.”
“I did not become…whatever.  You’ve kidnapped me!  I want to go home!”