All Because of Chickens

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hello from Camp

In keeping with the October feel of spooks and specters, I decided to share a ghost story of mine that was first published many years ago. Emily Anne is at summer camp and her ghostly tale unfolds through a series of emails to her parents. Would you have the courage to follow the ghosts?

Hello from Camp
Kai Strand

Sunday the 8th

Dear Mom and Dad,

Apparently we can send one e-mail home each night. Cool, huh? Today was kinda boring. We were assigned tents. My roommates are all friends from some small town in the middle of nowhere. I feel sort of left out. We met all the counselors. The lady in charge of our tent is cool. Her braids are down to her knees! She said ‘lights out’ is at 10:00 pm, but if we’re quiet afterward and not crabby the next day she doesn’t care how late we stay up. Well, it’s almost dinnertime and other kids are waiting to use this computer. I’ll send more tomorrow.

Monday the 9th

Dear Mom and Dad,

Today was boring too. We took swimming tests and got placed in groups according to our abilities. I’m with my roommates. At least I sort of know them. A girl in the next tent cried all night and all day today because she’s so homesick. But they won’t let her call or go home! I think she should just leave. I mean, she’s miserable, and she’s kinda making us miserable too. More tomorrow…

Tuesday the 10th

Dear Mom and Dad,

I slept like a dead person last night, even though it feels strange to sleep in a cot. The food’s okay. At least I won’t starve. We canoed out to a raft in the middle of the lake. The crying girl and her tent mates flipped their canoe. She hasn’t cried since. I still feel like an outsider with my roomies, but they’re getting better. We were the first canoe to the raft today, so we get second helpings on dessert tonight. See you tomorrow…

Wednesday the 11th

Dear Mom and Dad,

My roommates snuck out last night and didn’t come back for hours. I didn’t tell anyone, but I wonder if I should. I wish you could reply to this e-mail to tell me what to do. Maybe I’ll just ask them. We went on a long hike today. I’ve got blisters on my heels from my new hiking boots. We played volleyball with the boys from the camp on the other side of the lake. Yes Mom, there are a couple cute boys. The kid behind me is grumbling, so I’d better go.

Thursday the 12th


I asked the girls why they snuck out. They were trying to find an old burial plot that’s supposed to be haunted. It’s some old legend. They went out again last night, and I went with them this time. It’s no big deal, so don’t freak out. We had flashlights and didn’t even go that far. I doubt there’s even a burial ground around here. It was fun to sneak around and pretend like there was, though. We got to play volleyball with the boys again. I guess we’re going to do that every afternoon! We canoe to a volleyball court halfway between the camps, play a couple games and then canoe back. It’s really fun. I love the campfire at night. We sing, tell ghost stories and talk about boys. Bye!!

Friday the 13th

Dear Mom and Dad,

We found the burial ground! I was so surprised. It has six graves with moss covered headstones, and is surrounded by a moldy, broken down fence. It was late by the time we found it, and we had to get back to the tent. We’re going back tonight to look for ghosts. One of the boys said ‘hi’ to me today! He even played the position next to me during the last game. He’s so cute. I can’t believe he talked to me. Remember the crying girl? She broke her ankle today jumping from a tree. She cried when they told her she’d have to go home. Whatever!

Saturday the 14th

Dear Mom and Dad,

I can’t believe camp is already half over! It’s gonna be so hard to say goodbye to everyone, especially my roomies. We went straight to the burial ground last night. We hid under the trees and turned off our flashlights. Nothing happened. Once I thought I saw movement and I screamed. I scared the girls and they screamed too. We laughed really hard and knew that nothing was gonna happen after that. The cute boy didn’t talk to me at all today. I wore my cutest pair of shorts and everything. What the heck? My roomies are calling me, I gotta go…

Sunday the 15th

Dear Mom and Dad,

Last night on the way to the burial ground, we ran into some boys trying to sneak into our camp. Good thing we found them first, the counselors would have freaked out if they’d caught them. We just hung out with them for awhile then went back to our tent. The cute boy wasn’t there so it wasn’t much fun. I’d rather have gone to the burial ground. The cute boy did smile at me today, but that was all. I think he might be shy. We went on another long hike today, my blisters have blisters. I’m really hungry, gotta run.

Monday the 16th

Dear Mom and Dad,

I got the care package today. We loved the chocolate chip cookies! Thanks for the extra batteries for my flashlight. Yes, we’re being careful when we sneak out. Don’t worry! We went back to the burial ground last night. Nothing happened, but I swear I saw our counselor. I thought I caught a glimpse of her through the trees, but the other girls said I was seeing things. When we got back to camp there was a lot of commotion. We snuck in from behind our tent and pretended like we’d just woken up. Turns out those boys who we’d run into the night before had come back again and were caught. Today at volleyball I asked the cute boy where they were.  He said they were sent home. We tried to warn them. But I got to talk to the cute guy!!!! My roomie took a picture of us while we were talking. She said she’d e-mail it to me after we get home. It’s on an actual camera, since they don’t let us have our phones. Stomach’s growling…

Tuesday the 17th

Oh my gosh! We saw ghosts last night! Actual ghosts! Three of them. Girls. Our age, but dressed in weird clothes; tube tops, super short cut-off shorts, and tube socks with tennis shoes. They seemed to be playing volleyball, right there on the burial grounds. We could just barely hear them cheering each other on. It was so crazy. My heart is racing just thinking about it. They seemed so real even though we could see through them. One girl had long blond hair, and another had braids. Their hair seemed to catch the moonlight whenever they jumped or dove forward. It was amazing. So completely amazing. They faded away when they won their ghost game. We sat there for a long time after that, not talking. Because what can you say, right? I thought I saw our counselor again, but no one else did. Today we swam out to the raft. My roomies and I stayed out there after everyone else left, talking about what we saw. We’re going back tonight for sure. It was so cool.

Wednesday the 18th


We saw the girls again last night. They actually left the burial ground! We followed them down to the lake. The legend says that’s where they died. They ran and skipped down to the water, slipping their shorts and tops off. They had ghostly bikinis underneath. They splashed around but the water didn’t move. It was weird. Then suddenly they were yanked under. One right after the other. I almost ran into the water to help them, but then I remembered they weren’t real. When they didn’t resurface, we ran back to the burial grounds, but they weren’t there either. We were pretty freaked out. It was like watching them drown. We walked back to our tent and climbed into bed without saying a word. It was sad. Really sad. But don’t worry, I’m feeling better today. Only a little sad.

Thursday the 19th

Dear Mom and Dad,

Don’t be mad, but we had to go back. We wanted to see the girls happy, again. Like the first night. There were three new ghosts with them. Three boys the same age. Dressed just as odd, in skin tight muscle shirts, shorts with curved hems (that were way too short and way too tight—ick), same striped tube socks and tennis shoes. The boys all had shaggy hair that hung in theirs eyes and flopped around when they ran or jumped. They played volleyball, laughing and teasing each other. It was so great to see them having fun that we skipped and sang all the way back to the tent. I can’t believe we didn’t get caught. Right before I ducked in through the door flap, I caught sight of our counselor rounding the corner of her own tent. Her flashlight illuminated her profile and she was smiling. The cute boy played on the team opposite me today. We smiled at each other a lot and he even hit the ball to me once.

Friday the 20th

Dear Mom and Dad,

Tonight is the last campfire. The boys get to come and join us and the cute boy asked me if he could sit with me! I’m so excited. Last night we went back to the graveyard and all six ghosts were sitting in a circle. It seemed like firelight reflected on their faces, though there was no ghostly campfire in the middle of them. They paired off in couples, wrapped in blankets, and cuddling close. We could barely hear the words of the song they sang. It was a song I’ve heard you guys sing before; Rocky Mountain High. They all knew the words and they laughed a lot. It seemed like they were saying goodbye to each other, like we’ll be doing tonight at our campfire. My roomies and I cried as we watched them fade away. It felt so final. We’re going back tonight, but I don’t expect to see them.

Saturday the 21st

Dear Mom and Dad,

The bus leaves after lunch. I thought I’d send one last e-mail, though you may not even see it before you pick me up.

Last night was so hard. Fun and sad all wrapped into one. The cute boy and I sat together all night. He held my hand and even put his arm around me. We whispered together. I liked having a private conversation in a big crowd. But then we had to say goodbye. I know I’ll never hear from him again. I can just tell.

Then my roomies and I went out for our final visit to the burial ground. We picked six small bouquets of flowers on the way to set on each grave. When we got there, there were no ghosts but our counselor stood inside the moldy, broken down fence. She had flowers, too. Her head was bowed and she was crying. We approached slowly, not sure if we should interrupt. I finally asked if she was okay. She smiled through her tears and took a very long time to answer. When she did she told us a real ghost story.

“I work at this camp every year so that I can see them one more time. They only come at this time of year, to relive the end of their lives and to have their final campfire. The campfire they never got when alive. The campfire I never had. The girl with the braids is my sister. We came to camp together that year. She and her friends had met some boys they liked. It happens every year. But that year they went too far. They agreed to meet the boys for a midnight swim. I’ve learned from watching the ghosts that the boys decided to play a joke on the girls and waited secretly in the water. When the girls swam out, the boys surprised them by pulling them under water. No one knows how all six of them drown that night, but none of them surfaced alive. Instead of a final campfire that year we held a funeral. Here on this spot. I had a very hard time accepting my sister’s death. I had to come back to camp the next year just to try to accept that she really wasn’t with me anymore. But I found her here anyway. I’ve been coming back every year since.”

We placed our bouquets on the graves of the six kids who had only made it to their early teens. The five of us held hands while our counselor said goodbye, yet again, to her sister. We walked back to camp, arm-in-arm singing, Rocky Mountain High.

It seems like a different person will be going home to you. It’s hard to explain, but it feels like I’ve changed. Now I know what it’s like to have to say goodbye. A real goodbye. I can’t wait to see you guys. Maybe we can hang out tomorrow. All of us. As a family.

I love you.

Emily Anne

About the Author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website,

For more middle grade fun by Kai, read her book, BEWARE OF THE WHITE:

As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?

Buy it: MuseItUp, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or look for it on iTunes. Add it to Goodreads

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast

I thought I'd take a small break from finishing the sequel to Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud (tentatively titled The Squire and the Slave Master), to make an autumn themed post here. When Lea announced the theme, I instantly thought it a great opportunity to blow the cyber dust off the first story I ever published back in September of 2008.

Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast originally appeared in the e-zine Spaceports and Spidersilk. It's an imprint of the Canadian publisher Samsdot Publishing for spooky children's stories. (What can I say, I have good luck with Canadian publishers.) I've decided not to polish it at all, and post it the way it originally appeared, even though my writing style has improved since 2008. So here it is, I'd love to hear what you think.

Eric Price

            The car rattled as it crossed the train tracks. Ben and Josh awoke.
            “Look,” their father said. “We’re at the haunted mansion”
            Ben rubbed his eyes and yawned. “Look how old it is. I bet it’s full of ghosts.”
            “There’s no such thing as ghosts,” Josh said. “Is Little-Baby-Benny scared?”
            “Don’t call me that. I’m only two years younger than you. I’m not a baby.”
            “Stop fighting,” their father said. “I don’t want arguing to spoil our stay here.”
            “Let’s go in,” their mother said. “I’m excited to see this place. It won the award for best haunted bed and breakfast.”
            The mansion stood in a cleared area of forest. No other houses could be seen in any direction. The full moon lit up the night sky, and the house’s shadow seemed to stretch a mile.
            When they got to the door, it creaked open. Ben and Josh jumped back and gasped. The man who answered had skin as pale as the moon. His eyes were sunken. They looked like empty sockets.
            “Welcome to the Lunar Mansion,” he said. His voice croaked as if he had to force the words out. “Please, come in from the cold.”
            The dimly lit corridor had candles hung in all the light fixtures. A short, stout woman sat at the desk.
            “Hello,” she said. “I’m Edith.” She stood to greet them, and her wooden leg thumped and scraped across the floor with each step she took.
            Ben’s dad rushed to her. “Don’t strain yourself,” he said, reaching to help her.
            “I’m alright,” she said. “I’ve been walking like this for more years than you can imagine. Otis, show these people to their room. They must be tired.”
            The pale skinned man gestured for them to follow.
            The hallway’s thick carpeting looked as old as the mansion itself. Black and gold squares ran from wall to wall. The walls themselves had patterns of gold. It looked exactly as Ben had imagined a haunted house would look.
            “Are there any ghosts here?” he asked Otis.
            “Of course there are ghosts,” Otis said. “This wouldn’t be much of a haunted house without them.”
            “Don’t be stupid, Ben,” his brother hissed from behind him. “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
            “Here’s your room,” Otis said. “Enjoy your stay.”
            He shook hands with each of them. Ben thought he had never felt skin as cold or as clammy as Otis’s. He felt compelled to wash his hands, as if they were coated in slime.
            Apparently the entire family thought Otis’s hand felt just as nasty. They all washed their hands before examining the rest of the unit.
            The foyer opened into a sitting area with a kitchenette. Three doors stood at the far side of the room. One led to a bathroom. The other two were the bedrooms.
            Unlike Otis’s hand, the room was incredibly clean.
            “Isn’t this place great?” Ben’s dad asked his family. “It’s so old.”
            “The people running it give me the creeps,” Ben said. “I think they’re ghosts.”
            “Quit with the ghost stuff, already,” Josh said.
            “Why?” Ben asked. “Am I scaring you?”
            “No. It’s just silly. I don’t know why we had to come here. Mom and Dad know there are no ghosts.”
            “Let’s go exploring,” Ben said. “I’ll find a ghost. Then you’ll have to believe.”
            “There will be plenty of time to see the mansion tomorrow,” Ben’s mom said. “It’s bedtime now.”
            The boy’s bedroom had two beds. One was next to the window.
            “I get the one by the window,” Josh claimed.
            Then a large black spot slammed into the window. They could see the beady eyes of the bat as it snatched a moth and flew away.
            “Unless you want it,” Josh added, hesitantly.
            “I think bats are great,” Ben said, climbing into the bed by the window.
            No more bats came to the window after the lights went out. A few could be seen flying through the air, though. Ben tried to stay awake, waiting for ghosts. Whenever he thought Josh had fallen to sleep, he would say, “Did you hear that?” Josh would wake up, tell Ben to be quiet, and then try to fall asleep again. But before long, both brothers drifted to sleep.
            Just before sunrise, a loud groan caused both boys to sit bolt-upright in bed. The mansion started to shake, and a ghostly light filled the room. The light came from everywhere at once.
            “What is that?” Ben asked Josh.
            “I don’t know,” Josh answered. Fear flowed through his voice.
            The noise and shaking stopped. The brothers heard the door to their parent’s room open. They jumped out of bed, and found their parent’s in the sitting area.
            “Did that noise wake you two up, as well?” their dad asked.
            “Yes,” Ben said. “What do you think it was?”
            “I don’t know,” he answered. “It must have been a ghost.”
            Then they noticed something different from the night before. The walls all had large cracks. But that wasn’t the only difference. Spider webs hung from all the corners and in the chandeliers. It looked as if the room hadn’t had an occupant in years–maybe decades.
            In the hallway, the carpeting had torn into fragments. The walls were cracked plaster, yellowing with age. The gold-pattern from the night before didn’t exist.
            “What’s happened here?” the boy’s mom asked.
            “I don’t know,” their dad answered, “but we should get outside. This place looks like it’s going to fall.”
            Outside, the taillights of a train faded from view far down the tracks.
            “Look,” Josh said. “That explains the noise we heard. It was just a train. I still don’t know what happened to the walls, but I’m sure it can be explained logically.”
            In the misty gray light of early morning, the outside walls looked worse than the inside ones. Half of the house had fallen. The boards showed signs of rotting. They had collapsed long before last night.
            “Look at this,” Ben said, with wonder. He pointed to the train tracks they had crossed the night before.
            They had just seen a train on the tracks. Yet the tracks had rusted away to barely recognizable chunks of metal. They jutted out of the overgrown grass like iron stalagmites. Once they had crossed over the driveway, and turned toward the mansion. They were completely missing where the mansion stood. If not, the mansion would have rested directly on top of them.
            “Was the train a ghost?” Ben asked.
            “I don’t know, but I’m going back to the car,” Josh said nervously.
            He turned to run, but he tripped. Ben, along with his parents, rushed to Josh. They helped him to his feet, and saw what he had tripped over. Ben brushed the weeds aside, and uncovered an old, flat tombstone.
            The tombstone read, “Here lie Edith and Otis: the final caretakers of the Lunar Mansion.”

About the author:
Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval. Find him online at

Purchase Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud:

Where you can find me:

Twitter: @AuthorEricPrice

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Boiled Dragon Scales-A Halloween Recipe from Kaylee and Sabrina of QUEST OF THE HART

Princess Kaylee paused in the doorway of the kitchen and watched Sabrina  stir a wooden spoon around a copper kettle hung over a fire. Steam billowed from the pot, surrounding her friend in a haze.

"What are you doing? Working on another spell?"

"No." Sabrina glanced over her shoulder and smiled. "I'm making Roasted Dragon Scales."

The room spun as all the blood drained from Kaylee's head. She latched on to the doorframe to keep from falling as her knees turned to jelly. Dragon scales were rumored to have strong magic, but she'd never heard of eating them. "Roasted dragon scales? Fr-from what dragon."

"Not real scales, Princess." Sabrina laughed. "Look."

Kaylee crossed the room and stared into the kettle. White, scale-like objects floated in the boiling water. She knew with one glance they weren't large enough to be dragon scales, not even from a baby dragon, but she had no idea what they really were.

"Did you really think I'd do something so cruel after Aureal rescued us?"

Kaylee shook her head. She and Sabrina owed their life to Aureal, the golden dragon who rescued them from Mount Paladin. "I'm sorry. I should have known better." She looked into the kettle. "If they aren't dragon scales then what are they?"

"Pumpkin seeds." Sabrina swept the spoon through the seeds. "Mother has the best recipe. First you boil them in salted water, then you spread them out in a tin and roast them over coals." She closed her eyes and smacked her lips. "Best tasting seeds ever. Here, why don't you help me make these? I heard from Cook that they're Devlin's favorite."

Kaylee smiled and took the spoon. "Then how could I say no?"

Roasted Dragon Scales (Pumpkin Seeds)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

2 cups scales (seeds), well washed
3 cups cold water
1/2 cup salt

In a large pot, mix water and salt, stirring to dissolve.  Add seeds and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 1/2 an hour.  Remove from heat and drain.  DO NOT RINSE.  Spread evenly on a cookie sheet.  Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Look in on them in the last ten minutes to be sure they don't overcook.  They will be a light golden brown.)  Store in a dry place.

You can read more about Kaylee and Sabrina in Quest of the Hart.

Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel)
MuseItUp Publishing, April 2013
A reverse Sleeping Beauty tale where the princess goes on the quest to save the prince.

Book Blurb:
Princess Kaylee has never had to fight for anything. Her entire life has been arranged, even her marriage. But when Prince Devlin falls under an enchantment, she finds she is willing to do anything to save him, even if it means fighting a dragon.

Devlin's own sister, Princess Arabella, is behind the deadly plot. She wants the throne and will use any means necessary to gain it. Her perfect plan unravels, leaving Devlin caught in a magical sleep that is slowly spreading through the kingdom of Breniera. All Arabella needs to finish her spell and claim the crown is a drop of Kaylee's blood, but obtaining the single drop is proving more difficult than expected.

To save her betrothed, Kaylee embarks on a quest to find an ancient sword and gather a drop of dragon's blood, while trying to stay out of Arabella's traps. But Arabella's traps aren't the only danger. Time is everything. For once the last inhabitant of the kingdom falls asleep, the spell will be sealed, and not even true love's kiss will break it.


Available at:
Barnes and Noble
and other major retailers

About the author:
Twisting tales one story at a time. Magic and romance weave their way into all of YA author Mary Waibel’s works. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Her works are showcased at