Christmas, 1988. I was nine years old. Like typical kids, my brother and I watched cartoons after school, and our sister, a few years older, had a steady stream of television and the like to keep her mind turning into mush. We were pretty much your typical suburban white privilege kids.

And we wanted damn near every stupid thing we saw on TV.

So there’s this new game. Well, new to us, because we hadn’t seen it yet. But this new game, with these awesome commercials. This game that looks better than any board game we’d ever seen, and has a really cool theme with, like I said, awesome commercials.

Fireball freaking Island.

Go watch the commercial. Go on, I’ll wait.

Fireball Island Commercial!

Pretty cool, huh? Damn straight. So cool that you can find all sorts of stuff online about it. I’m hardly the first to write about it. Two of the more well-known reviews of it are the no-longer-written but still awesome X-Entertainment (Matt now writes Dinosaur Dracula and has more recently spoken about the game on his Purple Stuff Podcast), and James Rolf’s Board James persona. Both are worth checking out (and are actually linked on the Wikipedia page for the game).

As you can see from the YouTube video, there are several websites dedicated to the game. More video reviews of it. So much on the web that gushes love for this game!

But I’m not here to say the same things they said, or any other site. I wanted to talk about the game because it reminds me of some fun memories with my siblings.

Recently, my only nephew turned 11. I love when there’s a birthday or some sort of holiday, because it gets my brother, sister and me together. We all have a lot of fun, usually ending up talking about our childhood and laughing the whole time. With our nephew and niece, we can often relate stories to them of “when we were your age” and watch them cringe. It’s a good time.

So I was thinking of Fireball Island, and how the older we got, one of the few times the three of us would sit down together and be civil with each other was with a game. That Christmas, ’88, we received several other big ticket items. Our dad must have gotten a pretty big bonus check, unless our parents just managed to put aside a good Christmas fund.

Like I said, we were your typical white privilege kids, so Christmas was always a pretty good blowout for gifts for us (not so much birthdays, though). But in ’88, we had some big things. So imagine us all having our own things to do. And yet we still sat down to play a game with each other.

The rules were pretty easy. A lot of online reviews will talk about the complex rules, but I think that’s because the kids today are soft. They need someone to hold their hand every step of the way. Not us, no way. We got tossed in and left to deal with it on our own.

You moved your little explorer guy, and drew cards. If you had the right card, you could launch a fireball. The marbles would go down their respective paths, and knock over other play pieces, and even bridges. There were transport caves, and a mystical jewel that you had to claim. If you didn’t watch that commercial, go do it so you can see what I’m talking about!

I tried to play the game with friends, but they never wanted to. I had boring friends.

Maybe it was because we didn’t feel the need to fight each other with fireballs. Maybe that was why me, Amy and Andy loved it. We could compete in a friendly game, while knocking each other down with fireballs. Who wouldn’t love that?

For some reason, with the resurgence of games, especially board games, no one has brought this back. Go to any Barnes & Noble, or a friendly local game store, and check out all the amazing games they have. It goes far beyond Monopoly or Life, much more than anything Milton Bradley ever put out. Some games cost $50 or more, with hundreds more pieces. So why not bring back Fireball Island?

I keep thinking about this game. I keep wanting to write a story about it. Perhaps I shall. But more than that, perhaps I’ll sell a kidney and find a complete version of Fireball Island on ebay.

Maybe someone will realize how great that game truly was, and understand that a new generation needs to experience it. Bring it back, Milton Bradley. Bring it back.

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Mr. Proactive!

January 25, 2017

I’ve been busy busy busy!

A short story I’ve had an idea in my head for over three years finally got written. I’m happy with it, but it’s not perfect. I know that’s nothing to worry about, especially at the beginning of it, and also because it’s part of a triptych. Three related stories, all with the own characters and plots. Now I just need to write the last part!

I went through my writing folder and found several stories I had, erm, forgotten about. I hate it when I do that, but several works are finished, and have been for some time. I need to go through this more often!

This also means there is another flash piece I can give ya’ll! I have a whole bunch all ready to go, but this one especially fitting, given recent events. You’ll know what I mean soon enough.

Also, with all these ideas out of my head, I’m able to get back to the nitty gritty. In the Pale Moonlight is almost ready for release (next month!!!), and The Third Tower is able to get finished…finally!

Just wanted to keep ya updated. Hope you’re having good luck too!

PS – I’ve been listening to the Gone Girl soundtrack for the past few days. I haven’t listened to it in some time, but man, it really gets my brain juices flowing!

IT’S FREE!!!

January 1, 2017

Back in October, I posted a Halloween story on Smashwords. I thought I could make some money to help me out a little but and charged $.99 for it. That’s less than a dollar!

No one bought it!

So, Happy New Year. I made it free! Go read it and enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s the Great Murdering Pumpkin, Charlie Townes

Stay tuned for more great stories from me, including my novel which will be up soon!

Road to Shambala

May 22, 2016

Did you all get your copy of 9Tales from Elsewhere? It’s available now on Amazon for your Kindle!

Naturally, my story, “Valley of Iricia” is in it—as the lead story, no less! I don’t know for sure, but the cover looks somewhat indicative of what goes on in that tale of adventure and might! Seriously, go grab a copy now. It might cost a couple of bucks, but it’s way cheaper than your much needed bag of weed or pack of cancer sticks, plus it lasts longer, and does your brain better than those things! Maybe give it a good review while you’re at it?

Ahem. So.

I mentioned recently that I’m getting into self-publishing. It’s a lot of work getting things ready, but it’ll be worth it. The worst part is, it doesn’t provide much time to write and edit. Although, I can’t complain because I haven’t been doing either recently.

Yes, yes, I said I can’t make excuses, but holy crackers things are swampy right now. My new job isn’t taking up my free time. In fact it’s quite the contrary. I’m out by 4 every day, and have the entire night to do whatever I want. Rather, what I need to do.

Amy and I are renovating her father’s house for us to live in. If you’ll remember, he died on Easter, and we inherited the house (as well as pretty much all of his stuff). We’ll be moving in hopefully no later than the middle of July, but it’s a lot of work.

We have to redo literally everything. Floors, walls, ceilings, appliances, wiring, roof, gutters, lawn, blah blah blah. I don’t mind doing handy work. After all, my own father was quite the household handyman and taught me more than I ever thought I’d need to know. I just wish I had a little bit of time to myself…

But good things come to those who wait. It won’t be long, and soon enough I’ll be in my own house with my own office and be able to pump out quality stories for the adoring masses to consume with vigor.

Think of all the authors who’ve had stuff you love, but aren’t pumping it out as fast as you’d prefer: George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, JK Rowling, Scott Lynch, Anne Rice, Joe Hill, and nowadays, highly productive guys like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. They get it done and out to you, even if it involves a little bit of waiting. That can be good, though, right?

See, in a way, I’m glad I’ve had time to think about writing instead of simply diving headlong into it. Ideas and plots are coming to mind, and it makes it easier for me sort things out and be prepared, rather than going willy-nilly into something I’m not quite sure of.

For a while, I’ve had two stories continuing the adventures of Ingo (the protagonist from “Valley of Iricia”, but you already knew that, right?), and I’m finally able to flesh them out and add all the cool embellishments that he needs in his stories. I want nothing more than to just sit and write them both, but once I’m able to, they’ll be better than they would have been had I written them last year.

And what of editing? I hate waiting too long to get back to a story and edit it, but in this case, I’m glad. I’m going in with a fresh set of eyes, fresher than a four to six month wait. There’s a few specifically I’m talking about, and once they’re done, they’ll be up online and ready to read. Again, just a matter of time, but as always, it’ll be more than worth it in the end.

More good news!

I got another acceptance. Seriously, I’ve been hoping for so long that this story would be published it was making me sick. I wasn’t ready to give up, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Again, it was sent with a minimum of information in the cover letter. I keep wondering, did that have anything to do with it? Or was it simply that the editor liked it enough to publish?

I really shouldn’t split hairs, and I shouldn’t worry about such things. Another story has been accepted for publication! Myke Edwards is a happy man, and the world gets to read another great piece of fiction.

Sorry for the self-aggrandizing, but how can I not be excited right now? Things are looking up for me, and my hard work is paying off. Sometimes it’s good to vent about frustration, and sometimes it’s good to vent excitement.

Naturally, I’ll let everyone know the instant the story is available. There’s several others I’m waiting on, and they’ll be mentioned as well, of course.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I’m not naming the name of the story or publication just yet due to clerical reasons. Once everything is finalized, I’ll be sure to let you all know what and where, not to mention when.

Copycat

June 19, 2015

There can be similar ideas on the market. Hell, there can be total ripoffs that foster just enough changes to make it seem okay.

Yesterday, DC Comics released their new title, Black Canary #1. It’s awesome, and I’m really glad I took a chance on it. Also, I love the art style!

But the story of this issue is very similar to a short story I wrote a few years ago. It was never published, and I can’t claim that the writer of the comic stole my idea, especially because there are enough differences to make them individual. However, the main idea is similar, and it bugs me.

I’ve been sitting on the story for a while, mainly because I wasn’t too confident with it. However, after recently reading over it again, I’ve decided to start looking into submitting it for publication.

Well, lo and behold, a similar idea is out there already.

But not to worry, I’m going to do it anyway. Because I didn’t steal the idea, and they’re different enough that it won’t matter.

And you know what else? It’s a damn good story. I can’t cheat you out of that 😉

Back in December, I signed up for a contest called NYC Midnight. The basic rules were simple: In January, they would send me a prompt, and I would one week to write the story. If they liked it, I could move on to round 2 a few months later, get another prompt, have 3 days to write the story, hope for a chance to go to round 3 a few months after that, and get 24 hours to write a new one.

The prompts were cool. They’d give you a random genre (sci-fi, humor, romance, etc.), main character (auto mechanic, psychopathic clown, street sweeper, etc.), and a setting (bedroom, gas station beer cooler, porn store, etc.). I got humor, with a waiter at a family reunion.

While I am quite the hilarious character in my everyday life, I’m not a humor writer. I’ve never even tried. So after some quick research online, I went ahead and wrote my story. It didn’t win, but it DID get an honorable mention. Of several hundred entrants, I’d say honorable mention is worth something, right?

They sent me some criticism, which I cherish. It helped, but I don’t plan on doing anything else with this story other than posting it here for your pleasure. I’ll put the comments up in a day or so.

Without further adieu, I present to you…

“All the Rage in Rooty Hill”

Nolan had never seen a family this collectively skinny put down so much food. Four courses in, and the entire Sparks family still had room for dessert. This was the specialty at Kukamunga’s Three Star Inn, Grille, and Pottery House, (conveniently located in downtown Haskins, Ohio), though.

Of the thirty-seven people seated around the mammoth round table in the private dining room, not one of them could have weighed over one-sixty. Even after a double serving of prime rib and three large chocolate milkshakes, Uncle Dashiell looked like the trail winds from a passing train could knock him flat.

If not a train, then definitely that new hostess, Olivia.

Nolan had volunteered to deal with the family by himself. Not only would the tip help his college tuition, he could actually observe a real family. What no one had bothered to tell him, however, was that he alone would be responsible for delivering and bussing all of the dishes. As a bonus, Damon the dishwasher would be kept busy, and not doing the Tuesday crossword, as usual.

For the fourth time, Nolan got to work clearing the table.

With small bodies and massive appetites, the Sparks family hadn’t moved for two hours. While they enjoyed their reunion and each other’s company, they enjoyed the food even more. Not a scrap remained on a single plate.

Even little Maddy, three years old and pigtailed, slurped down her spaghetti and meatballs in between answers to questions about her preschool classes. She was first in class with finger painting, but still had trouble making it to the potty on time. Listening in while pulling plates, Nolan nodded his understanding, considering she had promptly wet herself while telling the tale.

“It’s been ten years since we all gathered together,” Uncle Dashiell called out. He rose, holding high a champagne flute that he had wrestled away from Cousin Eamonn, already on his fifth glass. “I just want to say that I’m glad we could all be here today, especially those who drove such long distances.”

All eyes went to Cousin Audrey and her two children. All three sported matching perms, even little Bobby. Audrey blushed, but stood up.

“Thanks, y’all. Getting here wasn’t the problem, just escaping from the compound.”

Uncle Jim, his napkin tucked into his shirt collar, beamed at her announcement. “Where’s Ben?” he asked.

“I left him,” Audrey claimed. “When he took over the cult, I knew it was time to hit the road. But don’t worry, we’ve found a new religion.”

“Oh?” Uncle Jim cocked an eyebrow. “Which is it?”

“Scientology.” Audrey rolled her eyes as if Jim had just asked the most obvious question ever.

“So anyway,” Uncle Dashiell continued, “I’d like to propose a toast to everyone here. To the Sparks family. Oh, and to Grandpa Bill, too. May he rest in peace.”

Everyone raised their glasses, some filled with champagne, others water or soda, and a few with pennyroyal tea. Nolan, now clearing silverware and napkins, noticed a few confused faces.

“Grandpa Bill is dead?” Cousin Conrad asked. “I didn’t know that.”

Maybe he got blown away in a gust of wind? Nolan thought. He took a little longer separating the spoons, forks, and knives from each pile into the bus tub. There were, after all, five types of each.

“Ah, your grandfather,” Granny Dot said. “I loved that man more than anything.” She crossed herself.

“Then why did you divorce him?” Aunt Kayanne asked.

“Oh, he just couldn’t stop begging for sex.” Granny downed a shot of whiskey. “God, I miss him.”

After a moment, someone asked: “So…what happened to him?”

“That man just couldn’t sit still,” Aunt Star said. “We couldn’t have a funeral because of his accident.” She cleared her throat, and everyone at the table silenced, ready for the story.

“About three weeks ago, Grandpa Bill wanted to prepare for the coming fall months. You all know how he was, once it hits fifty degrees, he locks his doors and windows and doesn’t step outside, as a result of his being a crotchety old geezer who hates pretty much everything.”

“You can say that again,” Uncle Jim said. A chorus of agreement followed him.

“So anyway,” Aunt Star continued, “one of his neighbors told me what happened. Grandpa Bill wanted to get that hornet’s nest out of his chimney. You all know that he was horribly allergic to the winged monsters, so there’s no need to remind ourselves of that very obvious point. I don’t know why he didn’t hire a professional.

“So anyway, a couple buzzed out and stung him, and he slipped on a shingle, fell off the roof, and landed on the lawn, breaking his ankle. Remember Toody, his Weimaraner?”

“Oh yeah, that gray dog with the soulless blue eyes.” Cousin Ephraim said.

“Yep, that’s the one,” Aunt Star said. “Of course we all know how that dog loved to hump everything it could get its crotch on, and this time was no difference. Grandpa Bill laid there, reeking of canine love, and writhing in agony. He thrashed around, trying to get the dog and hornets off of him, but slammed his head against the front porch. He passed out for a while, but the neighbor wasn’t sure how long.”

“Well, why didn’t he go help Grandpa Bill?” Uncle Rhys asked.

Aunt Star scoffed. “He was in the middle of a Frasier marathon.”

The other forty-six people murmured their understanding at the neighbor’s reticence to help. Nolan agreed; nothing could pull him away from such a great show.

“So, Grandpa Bill managed to make it inside and got his hot dogs in a boiling pot of water.”

“Grandpa Bill loved his hot dogs,” Cousin Dorothy said. Everyone else nodded.

“Sure,” Aunt Star said, “and he didn’t like to chew enough, either. I guess he choked on a hot dog, and passed out at the table. The dog barked and whined, but couldn’t raise his attention. That was when he went over to the neighbor’s house, and caught the man’s attention. When they got back to Grandpa Bill’s, the neighbor noticed everything, but Toody wouldn’t stop barking. Eventually he gave him a hot dog and everything was fine.”

“Yeah, Toody loved hot dogs even more than Grandpa Bill,” Granny Dot said.

Everyone sat quiet, but Nolan heard a few stomachs grumbling. Still hungry, of course. He knew what could satisfy them. He had the dessert list memorized, and stepped over to the table to recite it.

“Okay everyone,” he said, “if you’re interested in dessert, I can list off our selections for you.”

Everyone at the table nodded in agreement, wide eyes and watering mouths all around the table. Cousin Eamonn sipped from a wine bottle, flashing a thumbs-up.

“We have a decadent, double chocolate cake, a potent tiramisu, or peel-and-eat turnips with a jalapeno peanut butter dipping sauce.” Blank expressions looked back at him, so he added quickly: “Don’t you know? It’s all the rage in Rooty Hill.”

Everyone collectively nodded and murmured their understanding.

“We’ll each have the turnips,” Cousin Francois said.

Nolan nodded and headed to the kitchen to pass along the dessert order to Marcel. He had to swerve to avoiding stepping on Uncle Danny (adopted), former circus chimpanzee, currently a private investigator.

If Nolan had a family of his own, he would definitely suggest a reunion. He had to admit, this looked like a ton of fun. It just seemed unfair that he was genetically created in a lab three months ago.

The past three months at Kukamonga’s weren’t so bad, but he knew that going to college would get him a better life. Maybe if he said something to the wealthiest member of this family, possibly a sob story like the death tale of Grandpa Bill, he could get an even bigger tip.

“Here you go,” Marcel said, “forty-seven peel-and-eat turnip dessert platters. Send my regards.” He always seemed happy to make his signature dish.

Plus, it ensured that Olivia didn’t eat them all.

Back in the private dining room, Nolan set down the tray and began distributing the desserts. He noticed Uncle Jim talking to Peggy, the hot redheaded waitress. Peggy nodded and left the room, Uncle Jim soon following, his napkin still tucked into his collar. Nolan couldn’t wait to see the aftermath of this one; Peggy was actually a man in drag.

“Dig in, everyone,” Nolan said. “The dessert chef sends his regards.”

He stepped back to watch the waiflike Sparks clan peel into their turnips. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say this entire family hailed from Rooty Hill, given their vigor and zest at devouring the dessert. Even the jalapeno peanut butter dipping sauce went quickly, with more than a few satisfying burps echoed from around the table.

“Have you had one of these?” Uncle Dashiell asked Nolan.

“Oh, certainly. They’re so good!” Nolan personally would have preferred a French Breakfast, but Marcel wouldn’t allow that particular crucifer into the building.

Strictly due to professional reasons, of course.

“So tell me, young man,” Grandma Dot said. “What are you doing with your life other than working in this beautiful restaurant?”

Nolan beamed. “Well, I’m glad you asked.” He wondered if the dollar signs in his eyes showed. “I’m currently going to college, hoping to make a difference in this world.”

“Oh, wonderful!” Grandma Dot leaned back, smiling wide. “So tell me, what specifically are you majoring in? Social work? Criminal justice? Early childhood physical education?”

“Secondary education stress and psychological management,” Nolan responded. At Grandma Dot’s blank stare, he elaborated. “I’ll be asking teenagers to open up about their feelings, especially regarding their parents.”

“Ah, the never-ending struggle,” Aunt Star said. “There must be a lot of money in that.”

Nolan nodded. “It’s only second in pay and placement to a dermatologist to lepers.”

From across the table, young Cousin Chester stood up, his hands at his throat. Coughs and hacks rang throughout the room, while his face quickly turned blue.

“Oh my god, somebody help him!” Uncle Pietro cried.

Nolan noticed that Cousin Chester’s half-eaten turnip. He rushed over to the young man. These kinds of situations came up all the time and he had been trained to handle it.

“I’m so sorry, young sir,” Nolan began, “but this isn’t the first time this has happened! Marcel’s peel-and-eat turnips with jalapeno peanut butter dipping sauce are actually a rather new menu item, and most people aren’t familiar with it. I understand you’re dissatisfied, but I’ll have Marcel come out and answer for this!” He turned, facing the direction of the kitchen. With his hands cupped around his mouth, he called out. “Marcel! Get your lazy, flea-ridden ass out here and deal with this kid! Your dessert sucks!”

Uncle Pietro glared at Nolan. “No, you fancy-fingered stockinghead, he needs help!”

Nolan nodded. “I know, I know, that’s why you need to tell him what he did wrong! How else can he serve a good dessert if he doesn’t know what to fix?”

“No, you trout-lipped milkburglar, it’s my son. He’s choking!”

“He could just tell the chef to his face,” Nolan said, “but if he wants to find a way out of telling him off, that’s his problem.”

Uncle Pietro held up a hand, looking ready to slap Nolan. “The Heimlich, you fool!”

“Ah, well, if he just wants it out of him, that’s one way to deal with this, I guess,” Nolan said. He stood behind Cousin Chester and wrapped his arms around the young man’s body. With a mighty heave, he pulled in and up, squeezing the preteen.

With a mighty gasp, followed by hacking and coughing, a chunk of turnip flew from Cousin Chester’s mouth, across the table, and into Aunt Hayley’s Chablis. Cousin Chester slumped down in his seat, waving away beverages offered to him. After a few minutes, he breathed easy and took another bite of the dessert.

Uncle Jim entered the room, his napkin still tucked into his collar. “What’s going on, everyone?” His smile stretched from ear to ear.

“Oh, nothing much,” Cousin Dorothy said. “Cousin Chester almost choked to death.”

“That’s nice,” Uncle Jim said. He looked over at Nolan. “That Peggy…she’s a lot of fun.”

Nolan cocked an eyebrow. “Really? What happened?”

Uncle Jim shrugged. “We went into the bathroom, took our pants off, and I gave it to her good.” To accentuate the story, he made a fist and rammed it through the circle of his thumb and index finger on his other hand.

Everyone groaned, looking away from the table. Uncle Jim just smiled.

“Hey, I have my needs, too!” Done with his dessert, he pulled the napkin from his collar and wiped the corners of his mouth. Nolan couldn’t help notice the clerical collar that his napkin had been hiding, but chose to keep quiet. Those guys did have their needs, but it didn’t make sense, though, considering Peggy was legally an adult.

“Well, I don’t think I could take another scare like that,” Grandma Dot said. “I might just die at something like that again!”

Everyone agreed, sending Nolan’s heart to racing. He needed his tip, and even the slightest scare could send him home with empty pockets.

“Well, everyone, I’d like to thank you all for coming in today,” Nolan said. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like, but if nobody wants anything else, I’ll just leave the bill right here on the table.”

“Did somebody say ‘Bill’?” An old voice came from the door, and all eyes turned to look.

An old man stood at the door, one ankle wrapped in a cast, with big bumps on his face and a swollen left eye. He smiled like a man recently raised from the dead. When Nolan turned back to the table, he noticed that everyone’s head had fallen to the table, or slumped in their seat.

“Grandpa Bill, I presume?” Nolan asked.

The old man nodded, stepping into the room. “Boy, do I know how to make an entrance or what?!”

Nolan grabbed the bill from next to Grandma Dot’s body, unmoving and slowly growing cold just like the remainder of her turnip.

“Well, since everyone else knows the easy way to get out of paying a check, you can take care of this.” He handed to the receipt to the old man.

In response, Grandpa Bill sat at the table, pushing Uncle Dashiell’s body out of the way. He set his elbow on the table, ready to arm wrestle.

“How’s this sound, grease monkey: pin me, I pay. Otherwise, lunch is on the house.”

Nolan shook his head. He didn’t care as much about the bill as he did his tip. Still, the boss would be pretty upset if the Sparks family didn’t pay.

“Why would I want to do that?”

“Because feats of strength cancel out large tabs. Don’t you know? It’s all the rage in Rooty Hill.”

THE END

Any and all comments are welcome and encouraged! Thanks for reading.

Perihelion!

June 1, 2014

Not sure how I missed this, but my story, “Space Squid!” is available NOW on Perihelion (http://perihelionsf.com/) to read. It is absolutely FREE! Go. Now!