Fan Updates

Starting this out with a bit of a “what’s been going on” update for the fans—2023 has been pretty crazy!

So far this year, we’ve released Wyoming Bones and the Founder’s Blade, book 5 in the series and my personal favorite. Getting this out to the fans this year was a huge priority to me, and the reception has been great! I’m really glad you’ve enjoyed it!

I’ve also written and edited book 6, Wyoming Bones and the Southern Sea, and started writing book 7, Wyoming Bones and the Pearl of Atlantis. These two were originally going to be a single story but… I realized it was going to be at least three times the length of the first book. I knew I needed to split it into two parts to do the story justice without scaring away my fans with the size of the novel. Plus, it was going to look pretty out of place on the bookshelf next to the others in the series. This meant a significant rewrite to make both books have a satisfying story arc, and the results… Well, let's just say I think you are going to love these once I get them to you!

Before we release those two books, which still need polishing (and writing, in the case of book 7), we’ll be releasing a shorter adventure, Blurble and the Zombie Tear. This one is from the perspective of everyone’s favorite slime, and was a ton of fun to write. The advanced readers we have sent it out to have loved it, and I think you will too!

Book 1 Re-Release

BUT, the status of those three books aren’t even the biggest news! Drumroll please…. — We are going to be re-releasing book 1 in the series, Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Ever Life. Not only are we re-editing it, but the new version will feature illustrations!

Hot on the heels of this re-release will be re-releases of the rest of the books in the series, all with fresh polish edits and illustrations. We are planning on getting these out to you before Christmas… Which means we have our work cut out for us!

As for why the re-release? That has a few contributing factors.

Reason #1 - Writing Quality:

Earlier in the year, I went to a book convention at a nearby library for local authors and had a blast there. As one of the few children/middle-grade authors there, I got to do a live reading from Potion of Ever Life. We only had time for about ten chapters, but that let me introduce Wyoming, Leila, and Blurble.

It also let me discover a couple of typos that I had somehow missed on previous re-reads. The best I can figure is that after I had the final edits done on the book, some bug in our formatting software messed up the text to a previous, less polished version.

I quickly fixed those in the live versions of the books, so you don’t have to worry about them in the e-books or since-then purchased print books!

However, while I was editing them, I realized that my writing has improved quite a bit since I first wrote Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Ever Life, almost two years ago. That makes sense–I’ve written almost half a million words in that time! Hopefully I’ve learned something after all that practice. 

Not that book 1 was bad. I still love the story, especially when narrated by the fantastic Keith Mitchell. (Seriously, if you haven’t listened to the audiobook, you really should. It's great.) But I didn’t feel like it fairly represented the quality of the series any more. 

And so I started tinkering with the writing. The general story is still the same, but almost every paragraph has gotten touched, at least a bit. I think I added about six thousand words to the story, all while keeping it as easy to read as before. I ran it by a few beta readers to see if they preferred the earlier, less detailed version or the newer more dynamic version, and it was a unanimously approved shift to bring more detail into the world of Wyoming Bones.

At first I thought I might keep this version to myself as a personal pet project, but then came reason #2.

Reason #2 - Blurble Changes Everything

After writing book 6, while waiting for my editor to read through it, I wrote a new short story. Writing Blurble and the Birthday Surprise had been so much fun that I made Blurble the star of this one as well. And thus, Blurble and the Zombie Tear was born.

Like I said earlier, I think you’ll love this shorter adventure. The advance readers we sent it to definitely did! But, we also got consistent comments from the readers that they would like it more if it had a few illustrations. We’ve always wanted to present the Wyoming Bones adventures as a stepping stone between the more graphic-novel-esque heavily illustrated Minecraft books for younger readers and the more challenging genre of middle grade chapter books. I’m seeing now how adding illustrations to selected scenes helps us to even better bridge that gap and engage readers in the world with our characters.

And so we got with our illustrator who enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity to add more visuals to the books. What he’s created for Blurble and the Zombie Tear certainly makes it our most visually impressive book. 

But then I got to thinking about the re-write of Potion of Ever Life. Re-releasing it just to update the text might not be worth it… But what if I also added illustrations at the same time? And how much cooler would the whole series be if we could offer them all with this exciting imagery?


Which brings us to now! Our illustrator has started work on illustrations for the first book, and I have started polishing edits on The Underground City. These won’t be nearly as extensive as what I did to Potion of Ever Life, I can already tell, but it should still improve the reading experience.

And, perhaps most importantly, they’ll now include illustrations!

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m so excited to have these included to better help readers connect with the stories, and to bring the world of Wyoming Bones to life. I hope it makes it even easier for parents and children to connect together over the series and to add more adventure, gasps, wonder, and laughs. Because seeing Blurble faceplant into a stone wall is hilarious.

We don’t have a re-release date for Potion of Ever Life yet, but expect it in the next two months. We are hoping to get all five released books re-released before Christmas, so plan to grab them to put under your tree.

We’ll keep you posted!


Crafting Your Own Adventure: DIY Wyoming Bones Bookmarks

Greetings, young adventurers of Wyoming Bones! Embark on a journey that fuses the daring escapades of Indiana Jones with the creative realm of Minecraft. And what better way to mark your place in these thrilling tales than with your very own DIY Wyoming Bones bookmarks? In this guide, we'll show you how to print, cut, and create sturdy bookmarks that will transport you to the heart of the action whenever you open your favorite adventure book.

Step 1: Choose Your Design: To get started, head over to the official Wyoming Bones website. There, you'll find a selection of three exciting bookmark designs, each capturing the essence of adventure and the Minecraft universe. Click on the design that resonates with your explorer's spirit, and then download the file. Remember, the design you choose will be a constant companion on your literary quests.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials: For this creative endeavor, you'll need the following:

Step 3: Print and Cut: After downloading your chosen design, open the file and print it out. Make sure to select the highest quality settings for the best results. Once printed, carefully cut along the outer edges of the design. Take your time to ensure accuracy, as the details of the design are what make it truly special.

Step 4: Prepare Your Cardstock or Cardboard: Measure and cut a piece of cardstock or cardboard to your desired bookmark size. Generally, a size of about 2 inches by 6 inches works well. If you're using a cardboard box, you can repurpose it by cutting out a flat section.

Step 5: Attach the Design: Now comes the creative part! Using either glue or tape, attach your cut-out design to the cardstock or cardboard. Ensure that the design is centered and secure. If using glue, give it a few minutes to dry and set.

Step 6: Personalize Your Bookmark: Let your imagination run wild! Add your own creative touches to the bookmark. You can use markers, stickers, or even bits of fabric to enhance the design and truly make it your own.

Step 7: Adventure Awaits! With your DIY Wyoming Bones bookmark in hand, you're all set to dive into the captivating tales of daring exploits and incredible discoveries. Your bookmark will be a constant reminder of the thrilling adventures that await you, whether you're exploring ancient ruins or unearthing hidden treasures.

Conclusion: Crafting your own Wyoming Bones bookmark is a fantastic way to infuse your reading experience with the spirit of adventure and creativity. With just a few simple steps, you'll have a personalized companion to accompany you on your literary journeys. So, gather your materials, select your favorite design, and let your imagination take flight as you craft a bookmark worthy of the intrepid adventurer within you. Happy reading and exploring, young Wyoming Bones enthusiasts!

Let's Dive into Minecraft: A Beginner's Guide to Crafting Adventures!

Hey there, young explorers and future Minecraft legends! 🌍 Are you ready to embark on an exciting journey into the pixelated realm of creativity, challenges, and endless fun? Whether you're new to the blocky universe or just looking to sharpen your crafting skills, this guide is here to help you kick-start your Minecraft adventure!

Step 1: Choosing Your World

Welcome to a world of endless possibilities! When you fire up Minecraft, you'll be presented with various gameplay modes. The two main modes you'll want to explore are "Survival" and "Creative." In Survival mode, you'll gather resources, battle monsters, and build your shelter, while Creative mode lets your imagination run wild with unlimited resources.

Step 2: Crafting Your Tools

The key to survival in Minecraft is crafting. Gather essential resources like wood, stone, and ore, then turn them into tools that'll help you thrive. Start with a humble wooden pickaxe and work your way up to more durable tools like iron and diamond. These tools will be your trusty companions on your journey.

Step 3: Building Your First Shelter

Sunsets in Minecraft are stunning, but beware—the night brings out creatures that might not be so friendly! To keep yourself safe, craft a shelter. It could be a cozy cottage, a towering treehouse, or even a majestic castle. Remember, the sky's the limit when it comes to creativity!

Step 4: Farming and Food

Exploring and building is hard work, and even digital adventurers need to eat! Create a simple farm by planting crops like wheat and carrots. You can also raise animals like cows, pigs, and chickens for a steady supply of food. A well-fed adventurer is a happy adventurer!

Step 5: Embrace Your Inner Designer

Minecraft isn't just about surviving; it's about expressing yourself. In Creative mode, let your creativity soar by constructing jaw-dropping landscapes, colossal statues, and epic roller coasters. Invite your friends to explore your world and be amazed by your imagination.

Step 6: Team Up for Adventures

Minecraft is even more fun with friends! Connect with your pals online and embark on exciting adventures together. You can build incredible structures, go on monster-slaying quests, or simply explore the endless world side by side.

Step 7: Dare to Explore

Venture beyond your base to discover breathtaking landscapes, hidden caves, and mysterious temples. But be prepared—dark caves can be full of danger, so bring torches and weapons to light up your path.

Step 8: Unleash Your Inner Redstone Engineer

Ready to take your creations to the next level? Dive into the world of redstone—a magical substance that powers contraptions and inventions. From automatic doors to intricate traps, redstone is the key to building complex mechanisms.

Remember, young adventurers, Minecraft is your canvas, and your imagination is the paintbrush. Every block holds potential for incredible creations, and every adventure is a chance to make memories that'll last a lifetime. So gather your pickaxe, don your armor, and prepare to craft your own legend in the world of Minecraft. Your journey begins now—block by block, pixel by pixel! 🎮🌟

Final Book 5 Cover Reveal!

Wyoming Bones faces the Imposter while Leila and Blurble look on, confused.
Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade

We finally have a cover!

If you have read my previous few posts, you'll know of the epic journey we went on to replace our book cover artist. Well, after a long and dangerous quest, we finally have our replacement, and I think the Book 5 cover turned out pretty good!

In it, Wyoming Bones faces the Imposter, a mysterious figure that looks exactly like Wyoming. Even Leila and Blurble, looking on from the stairs, can't tell the difference between the two! Okay, maybe Blurble can, but you'll have to read the book to find out more about that.

Don't want to give away too many spoilers.

New Logo!

Along with a new cover, we also have a new logo! While looking for new artists, I came across some that specialize in logos. After looking at the flat text I had been using on the previous few covers, I decided to give a custom logo a try. I think the results look great. What do you think?

The logo we settled on, above, wasn't our only option. Here is the one we almost went with:

Wyoming Bones custom logo
Another take at a Wyoming Bones Logo

I loved this one, but in the end it was just a tad too busy to put on the cover of the book. We tried it with just the text, like this:

A third take at the Wyoming Bones Logo
A third take at the Wyoming Bones Logo

But even then, the one we chose won out.

But I'm curious what you all think- did we make the right choice?

Should we go back and give the same treatment to the rest of our books?

Book 5 Cover Saga

One of the three options for the cover of Wyoming Bones Book 5.
An option for the cover of Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade

The Search for the Cover

Like I said in the previous post, we've lost our cover artist. No idea where we misplaced him (I think it was in Italy somewhere, or was it Greece?), but we just can't get ahold of the guy.

Which is a shame- we actually really liked "slert's" work. But that just means we get to find another artist, which is fun all on its own.

So, back to the drawing board we went. And I mean that quite literally. The first thing we did was draw up a sketch of basically what we wanted the cover to look like.

Then we chose three likely candidates and, after chatting with each and explaining the vision, commissioned a cover from each.

Book 5 Cover: The Scene

Book 5, for those who don't know, sees Wyoming Bones and his friends back in New Block City. While Wyoming tries to get back into normal life, an imposter, someone who looks exactly like Wyoming, frames our hero by stealing the Founder's Blade. A diamond sword, the Blade was created by the Founder of New Block City, and might just be the key to a mystery that could bring the entire city to its knees.

At one point in the story, towards the beginning, Wyoming and crew confront the Imposter in a brick bell tower. Wyoming enters first, followed shortly by Leila and Blurble. Given that both men look exactly alike, our friend Leila is pretty confused about who she should help!

Also, the observant reader will notice that this is the first time we've seen Wyoming in his human form. We've typically shown him as a skeleton on the other covers, as that's kind of integral to his character. This time, however, we needed both Wyoming and the Imposter to look like the human Wyoming for the plot to work... So you get the treat of seeing two of the most handsome, square jawed adventurer's out there.

Even if one of the two is actually an evil imposter who might be trying to destroy all of New Block City. But which is which? Can you tell?

Leila sure can't.

Book 5 Cover: Options

That was it. That was the cover we sent to our three contenders. From that, we got three different takes on that scene, which I'll share with you now.

The first is at the top of the page, but I'll post it here again, just for fun.

Wyoming vs the Imposter in a Bell Tower, while Leila nd Blurble look on.
Option 1 for the cover of Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade

The lighting and modeling of this one is probably my favorite. Blurble and Leila look delightfully confused, coming in from the stairs in the far wall. Its not what I had in mind in my head (I was picturing red brick blocks), but I have to say I really like this one.

Wyoming vs the Imposter in a Bell Tower, while Leila nd Blurble look on.
Option 2 for the cover of Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade

Another solid choice, this one better captures my vision for the scene, form the red brick, to the interior staircase, to the large windows around the exterior of the room. I also like that they took the model for the small bell in Minecraft and blew it up jumbo to put in this bell tower.

And that brings us to Cover Option 3:

Wyoming vs the Imposter in a Bell Tower, while Leila nd Blurble look on.
Option 3 for the cover of Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade

Option 3 has a bell made out of golden blocks, similar to what I did on my fake cover for the book (see the last post if you missed it!). I probably don't like that as much as the other two bells, but the facial expressions on the two Wyoming's. Leila, and Blurble are probably my favorite of the three options.

Book 5 Cover: A Choice?

And now, we just need to decide which of these three we like the most, and which will help sell the book the best. It's not an easy decision, and I find myself really torn.

How about you, my wonderful readers. Do you have a favorite? Which do you like and why?

Come on, help a struggling author out.

Until next time, keep reading!

Book 5 Cover Reveal!

Wyoming Bones: Finley Edition Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal!

It's everyone's favorite part of the book reading process. The one you have all been waiting for! It's time for the cover reveal for Book 5: Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade! Here it is! Gaze in awe of its brilliance. See the subtle elegance. The fine attention to detail. The carefully adjusted color balance.

Ok, the more observant of you might have noticed that this cover looks like it was just something I made in Minecraft. If you guessed that to be the case, give yourself a gold star!

Because that is exactly how I made this cover. This won't be the cover the book will ship with, don't worry, but I did print a couple of copies with this cover.

Why I made this cover... Now that is a bit of a story.

Cover Artist Lost

So, if you open up to the copy right page of any of your copies of Wyoming Bones 1, 2, 3, or 4, you will see that the cover images for those books were made by a guy named "slert". When we first started working on Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Everlife, we went through about three different artists, ordered covers from each, and went with the one we liked the most.

Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Everlife Cover
Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Ever Life

The artist we went with was slert, and we liked his work quite a bit. We loved how alive he made our little skeleton adventure feel. We went on to order covers for Books 2, 3, and 4 from him as well.

And then, when we reached out a few months ago about book 5... He didn't respond. He still hasn't.

Need for a Cover

But books need covers, and this one had a bit of a deadline. When you read the dedication for Book 5, you'll see I dedicated it to the fans who keep asking for new books. In the case of one special fan, a friend of the family, That was quite literal.

Like every time I saw her. "How's book 5 coming?" "Can I read book 5?" "When can I have book 5?"

And all of that was over the course of an hour. It was great, and I loved it, but also I had the problem of not having a cover for the book. I couldn't give the book to my fan without a cover.

And then, a few weeks ago, everything came to a head when the fan invited our family to her birthday party, and asked for just one thing: Book 5.

I'd already started reaching out to new creators to find a different cover artist (more on that next time!), but I knew they wouldn't get the covers to me in time to get a book printed for my fan's birthday party.

And thus Operation Desperate Cover Art was born.

Finley's Cover

I dove into Minecraft, modeled up a bell tower, put on my favorite Indiana Jones skin, posed for the camera, and then put it all into the template I have for the cover. (We'll use our real cover designer for the official cover!)

Then, because this was the only time I would be using this cover, I decided to label it for the fan- That is why I labeled the cover "Finley's Edition".

The party was Saturday, Finley's parent's just told me she has finished the book. Considering this is my longest book yet, at 45k words, that's a pretty quick read through!

She loved it, which made all the extra work worthwhile. Now I just need to get the real cover ready for all of you. I'm shooting for a January release- Sorry its not ready to go under your Christmas tree! But, still, Books 1-4 make pretty great gifts still, even if I do say so myself!

Wyoming Bones Book 1

Wyoming Bones 1
Wyoming Bones Book 1, Wyoming Bones and the Potion of Ever Life

Wyoming Bones 1- The start to the series.

Little known fact: I first came up for the idea of Wyoming Bones while looking at the barrel of a rocket that I was working on. It was break time, so the technicians were off, and I was letting my mind wander a bit. I have always appreciated how fun and action packed the Indiana Jones movies were, and I'd been playing a lot of Minecraft with my kids.

Naturally, I wondered: What if Indiana Jones were set in Minecraft? Change the name a bit, and suddenly he's a skeleton and off my mind went. I sat home that night and typed out the first few chapters, and finished the whole book in about a month.

I had a blast the whole time, as did my kids when I would read it to them at night. Having a personal audience that expects the next installment to be ready by bed time is great motivation to put words on paper, let me tell you!

What follows is the first few chapters in the series, as a bit of a teaser. Feel free to share it with your friends if you think they, or their kids, would be interested! You can get the full book in ebook, paperback, hardback, or audio at Amazon. Or take a look at the whole series!

Wyoming Bones And The Potion of Ever Life - Sample

Chapter 1

Wyoming Bones, archeologist and treasure hunter, stepped into the jungle temple. The place was a mess, but that is what he expected of an old, hidden ruin.

“Yuck!” he said, as he stepped into a spider web just inside the door. He wiped the web from his face and looked around. The green stone walls were cracked and there were skulls of skeletons sitting on the floor.

Even though Wyoming Bones was a skeleton himself, he didn’t like seeing the skeleton skulls. He hadn’t been a skeleton for long and hoped he could find the magic item needed to turn him back into a human in this temple. Soon he would have his beautiful hair again! Thinking about his hair, he pulled his explorer hat down on his blocky skull.

Wyoming tried hitting the stone with his iron pickaxe, but he couldn’t mine it. Just like he thought. This ruin was an Adventure Zone, like most temples and ancient places were.

He wouldn’t be able to break blocks here to find the treasure. He’d have to do this the hard way.

The first room only had one exit. It was a stone stairway in the center of the chamber. Trying to walk quietly with his bony feet, he crept down the stairs. As it got darker, Wyoming made sure to bring out a stack of torches, putting them on the wall every few blocks. He might be a skeleton, but he still needed to see where he was going!

As he entered the room at the bottom of the stairs, he saw a carving of a spider on the wall ahead. Was this temple made by spiders? Did the people who made it really like spiders? Distracted by the spider picture, Wyoming didn’t watch where he was putting his feet. When he heard the “click!” of a pressure plate, he froze and looked down.

“Oh no! A trap!” Wyoming said, quickly diving forward into the room. Just in time! An arrow from a dispenser whizzed over his head and clanged against the wall next to him. As he stood up, and dusted himself off, he heard another puff of air, and then another. More traps!

Wyoming sprinted forward, heading to the exit from the room. The arrows flew right behind him, barely missing him! One actually got stuck in his leather jacket, it was so close.

Finally, he was through the room, and in a long, dark, hallway. He put his hands on his knees and sighed a loud, “Whew!” That had been a close one. Hopefully that had been the only trap room. He winced as he realized that he had just jinxed himself. There were definitely going to be more traps now.

Chapter 2

Wyoming squinted forward, trying to see down the hallway, but it was too dark. He hit himself in the forehead- the torches! Quickly he placed one down, and then he could see forward. Well, he could have seen forward, if it weren’t for all the cobwebs! “I think I might have figured out what that spider carving was about,” Wyoming said to himself. “Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?”

Wyoming pulled out his iron sword, and started swinging at the cobwebs, trying to hack his way through. He was several blocks into the mess, when he saw two glowing red eyes coming towards him through the webs. A spider! Just then he heard a chittering behind him. Make that two spiders! He didn’t know how the second spider had gotten behind him, but he was surrounded! He quickly shuddered—he really didn’t like spiders!

Wyoming thought fast. He didn’t want to get attacked by both mobs at once. He whirled around and raced back to the spider behind him, swinging at it with his sword. The spider leaped at him, green poison bubbles popping around its mouth. His sword swing hit it in midair, knocking it back. He swung again at it, making it flash red. Before he could hit it again and poof it away, he heard scurrying behind him and rolled to the side.

The other spider flew through the air where he had just been, hitting the first mob. While they were both getting back up, Wyoming lunged in with his sword, poofing the damaged creepy-crawly. With only one spider to face, he was quickly able to get rid of the last pest. As the last monster poofed away, it left a spider eye behind. He picked it up and put it in his bag. Elaina, the potions teacher, always asked him to bring her things like this from his trips.

Now that the spiders were gone, Wyoming quickly made his way through the rest of the spiderwebs, hacking at them with his sword. He collected the strings that dropped from the cobweb blocks, gathering around a dozen. He had found that having a stack of string could be surprisingly useful for a treasure hunter, so he always tried to grab them when he could.

Finally, he was through the webs, where he found a large iron door. In front of the door were ten levers, and several jungle wood signs. The signs read, “Choose the correct lever to pass through the door, but beware! Only one lever leads to the treasure!”

Wyoming was so close, but he needed to take a moment to think. “Let’s see . . . Based on the carvings, I am pretty sure this temple was made by the ancient People of The Spider. What do I know about them?” He tapped his chin, trying to remember everything he had learned as an archeologist about the old spider worshipers. “That’s right! They thought the perfect number was eight! The same number as a spider has legs!”

Quickly, he counted the levers from left to right. “Six . . . Seven . . . Eight! There it is!” He pulled the lever, already walking forward towards the door he knew was about to open. The door didn’t open. Instead, as he waited, the trap door under his feet swung down! Wyoming fell into the hole, but before he fell all the way in, he grabbed the edge of the pit with one bony hand. Slowly, he pulled himself up, breathing heavily. He looked down and saw a raging river at the bottom of the shaft. That would not have been a fun trip.

“That’s . . . right . . .” He panted out the words. “The . . . People of The Spider . . . Counted from right to left, not left to right!” He had chosen the wrong lever. Counting again, this time from the right, Wyoming found the real lever number eight, and slowly pulled it. He sighed in relief when the door rumbled open.

As he stepped inside, torches lit themselves in a circle around the room, one after the other. Soon the space was filled with torchlight, and he could see a treasure chest box on a pedestal in the center. This was it. If the rumors were true, this is where he could find the item that would turn him back into a human!

Walking carefully, looking for any more traps, Wyoming made his way to the treasure chest. Slowly he cracked it open. Inside, there was . . . Only a book? He pulled it out and opened it.

Inside it read, “Wyoming. I have beat you again. I knew you would come looking for this treasure, but I think I will keep it for my own, personal collection. It’s so much better, knowing you want it. Oh, by the way? Look down. — Dr. Edward Ville”.

Wyoming quickly glanced down, groaning as he realized he was standing on another pressure plate. He quickly put the book in his bag, as the room started to shake, and the walls started to crumble. He had to get out of here!

He darted back out of the room, trying to run down through the hallway. He passed by the shaft of the trap he had nearly fallen into earlier. Before he got more than a few steps into the hallway, the roof ahead of him started to collapse back towards him! Looking behind, he saw that the treasure room had already caved in. If he didn’t get out of here quick, he would be crushed!

Looking around desperately, Wyoming made a snap decision.

Holding onto his hat, Wyoming jumped straight down the shaft, plunging into the icy river below.

Chapter 3

Wyoming splashed into the cold water and was instantly pulled along by the current. It was dark down in the cave below the temple, so he didn’t see the roof of the tunnel getting lower until it hit him in the head.

“Ouch!” Wyoming cried out. He couldn’t get anything else out before he was completely under the water. The river kept pulling him along, moving faster now.

He started to panic. Air! He needed to breathe . . . Wait a second. He was a skeleton. He didn’t need to breathe. He was going to be fine!

It was then that Wyoming heard the gurgling groan behind him. He would recognize that sound anywhere. A drowned, and he couldn’t even see it! He knew the underwater zombie would be able to take his bones apart under the water, so he started swimming as fast as he could with the current.

Wyoming could see light ahead of him. He must be getting close to the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the groaning behind him was getting closer as well. He didn’t know if he would make it in time!

As he burst from the tunnel, he saw light above him. Wyoming kicked his legs and swam for the surface. He looked behind him and saw the drowned stopping at the edge of the underground passage. As he watched, it turned around and swam back inside.

He was still wondering why the waterlogged zombie had stopped following him when his head broke through into the air. He heard a loud roar fill his ear-holes as water dripped out of them and looked around. He quickly figured it out. “Oh. Of course. A waterfall. That would do it.”

Wyoming screamed a manly shriek as he fell over the edge. In the confusion, he forgot to hold onto his explorer hat. “Nooooo! My hat! Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” His scream cut off as he collided with the water.

The crash spun him around for a few seconds, but he quickly found the surface. As he swam for the air, he saw a shadow on the surface. A boat was waiting for him. Was this a friend? Or another enemy?

Wyoming Bones Book 5

Wyoming Bones holding the Founder's Blade
Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade. Kind of.

Update on the next book

It's only been a couple of weeks since the release of Wyoming Bones and the Nether Journey, and already people are asking when the next book is coming out. That is a great problem for an author to have! It means people liked the book.

So here's an update on the next book, Wyoming Bones Book 5, Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade. I finished the first draft of the book about a week ago, and I've sent it off to my Beta Readers to give me feedback before I get started on editing. (In the meantime, I've already gotten started on writing book 6!) I don't have a publish date yet, or even a cover to reveal, but I am really excited about this one. It might be my favorite one yet.

Its also the longest by far. So far my books have clocked in between 28 and 35 thousand words, which makes them pretty quick reads. Book 5 is currently sitting at just about 45 thousand words. Still a quick read, but the story required a bit more room. That might change with editing, but its going to be hard to cut 10 thousand words!

Wyoming Bones and the Founder's Blade

Wyoming and his crew are fresh off their adventure in the Nether and are excited to get back to their regular jobs. In particular, Wyoming has missed teaching history at the school after being gone for several weeks. But why is everyone acting like he's been there the entire time? And why is he being accused of stealing the Founder's Blade? The police have a photo of Wyoming at the scene of the crime, holding the missing Blade, but there is only one problem: He wasn't even in the city at the time.

Wyoming and his friends will need to solve puzzles, defeat monsters, and find the imposter who really stole the Blade if they are going to clear Wyoming's name, all while running from the police. And they'll need to do it fast, because the Blade is a key to a deeper mystery. One that could destroy all of New Block City.

Sneak Peak: Chapter 1 of Wyoming Bones Book 5

Wyoming Bones, archeologist and treasure hunter, stepped boldly into what is, for many, the scariest place in the world: School. 

He took in a deep breath, enjoying the familiar smell of brick walls, scratchy carpet, and well-read books. The morning light streamed through the stained glass window set high in the wall of the large foyer of the building. The window depicted the founder of the school, Sir Humbolt Reed, holding a diamond blade in one hand and a book in the other. Wyoming smiled—Sir Reed was one of his childhood heroes, and seeing that window made him remember why he had become an adventurer in the first place. It had been far too long since he had been to his regular job as a history teacher, and he’d missed it greatly.

Today was going to be a great day. He could already tell. His first class was starting in just a few minutes, but he had plenty of time to make it there. There wasn’t any need to hurry. Students filled the halls, heading to their different rooms, but they made way for him as he strolled down the hallway. 

Up ahead, Elaina, the potions teacher, stood outside her office, chatting with another instructor. He hadn’t seen his old friend in weeks, but he’d picked up some potion ingredients for her on his adventures, like he usually tried to do. This time, he had a half stack of nether wart in his bag and he hurried forward to give it to her.

Elaina looked up, saw him coming, and her eyes went wide. With a small gasp, she turned and darted into her office, slamming the door so fast that her long brown hair almost got trapped. The woman she had been talking to looked at Wyoming and let out a loud sniff.

“You have some nerve, coming to see Elaina, after what you did!” Cynthia glared at him.

“What I did?” Wyoming raised his eyebrows, confused.

“Yes! What you did! If you didn’t want to go to the dance with her, you should have just said so. You didn’t even show up!” With that, Cynthia whirled away and went into her own office near Elaina’s.

“Dance?” Wyoming was even more confused now. “But I haven’t even been in town—“ He shook his head, realizing he was talking to a closed door. The whole thing must be a misunderstanding. He couldn’t have asked Elaina to a dance—he’d spent the last two weeks trapped in the Nether. Shaking his head, he tried to put the strange event out of his mind. 

A group of young girls were looking at him as he turned towards his class, and they laughed when they saw him glance their way. He thought that was a bit odd, but didn’t let it bother him. It was still going to be a great day!

Suddenly, a big hand slapped him on the back with a meaty thwack, and he stumbled forward. At the same time, a loud voice said, “Wyoming! Thanks for promising to help coach the game tomorrow!”

Wyoming caught his balance and turned to see Coach Jackson standing beside him. The large man had a grin on his face, like he normally did. Wyoming had only spoken to the other teacher a few times in the past and didn’t know him well. What he did know was that he loved Mine-Ball, and he had no volume control of his voice. Whether you were one block away or a hundred, the man shouted everything he said.

“Coach the game? Tomorrow?” Wyoming asked, trying to figure out what Coach Jackson meant. He knew they had a Mine-Ball team, but he didn’t know the rules or how to play it. He never would have volunteered to help coach it!

“Exactly!” Coach Jackson shouted happily. “Game starts at noon! I’ll see you then!” 

Wyoming opened his mouth to explain that there was a mistake, but before he could, Coach Jackson looked over Wyoming’s head and shouted, “Franks, Weber! Put those pickaxes back in the locker room right now!” Without looking at Wyoming, the large man stomped towards the two students. They were trying to hide pickaxes behind their backs, guilty expressions on their faces. “No pickaxes allowed in the halls, you know that!” 

Wyoming shook his head and started walking to class as Coach Jackson yelled at the students, who must be players on the school Mine-Ball team. Wyoming would need to talk to the coach after school to clear up the misunderstanding. There was a strict “no building or mining” rule in the school, and being caught with tools in the halls was a quick way to get into trouble. Not that they could hurt the school too much–Sir Humbolt had built it with sturdy stones, and it took forever to break a block here, even with diamond tools. Digging downward was even harder. Somehow, Sir Humbolt had built a layer of unbreakable bedrock blocks under the school. Of course, that didn’t stop students from trying. They just didn’t get very far.

Needless to say, they held the Mining class in specially designed, mining friendly building, outside the main, old building with its curiously sturdy floors.

Now, where had Coach Jackson gotten the idea that Wyoming would help coach a game of Mine-Ball? Wyoming didn’t even know how to play Mine-Ball! He made a note to talk to him after school, then put it at the back of his mind. Looking at the clock on the wall, he knew he didn’t have time to worry about it now or he’d be late for class.

He made it into his room with a minute to spare and walked up to the board. Picking up the chalk, he wrote, “Sir. Humbolt Reed: Life and History” across the board. Based on the class schedule he had planned out, that should be the topic for today. He was glad he’d made it back in time to teach it, instead of letting a substitute have all the fun.

The bell rang, and he turned around to look up at his class. The seats were set up like a theater, each row higher than the one ahead, so every student would have a good view of the blackboard at the front. It was a full room, and he smiled when he saw Leila, with Blurble on her shoulder, sitting in the top row, near a window. It looked like they had made it without any problems. During their last adventure together, Leila had asked if she could come watch a class, and he was more than happy to have her here.

Blurble, of course, had insisted on coming as well. Wyoming had some concerns about the little green slime being around so many priceless, edible books, but Leila had promised to keep it in line. 

“Okay, before we begin,” Wyoming said, smiling at the students in his class. “Does anyone have any questions?”

A boy in the middle of the room, with lots of freckles on his nose, raised his hand. When Wyoming pointed at him, the boy asked, “Why do you always wear your hat? Mom tells me to take off my hat when I’m at school.”

Wyoming’s eyes went wide. “I really like hats!” He blurted, his voice a little too loud, and then laughed nervously. He could see Leila, at the back of the room, bury her head in her hands, and he winced. He was terrible at lying, but he also really didn’t want to explain that the spell on the hat was the only thing that let him look human. What would his students think if they knew that, thanks to an annoying curse, he was actually a skeleton? 

No, Wyoming was brave, but there were some things even he was afraid to do.

He smoothed his face. “No, sorry, that’s not . . . I meant does anyone have questions about what we have been learning?” When no one raised their hand, he turned back to the board. “Good. Now, Sir. Humbolt Reed, the founder of New Block City, was born in. . .”

Wyoming got lost in the history lesson, enjoying explaining one of his favorite subjects. He explained about how Humbolt, then just a young man, had found the site for their city while looking for ruins, and how he had gathered friends to help him build it. It had taken years, but they had mined the stone, granite, clay, and wood they used to piece together New Block City, block by block. Eventually, others came to the city, and he had turned to exploration. 

“He founded this very school we are in, although at the time it focused on archeology and treasure hunting. Some people say that Sir Reed was the greatest treasure hunter the world has ever seen—”

“Excuse me, Dr. Bones?” A girl with brown pigtails raised her hand. Wyoming struggled to remember the girl’s name. Was it Mary? No! Maggie! He was pretty sure that was it, anyway.

“Yes, Maggie?” He sighed in relief when she smiled. He must have gotten the name right, after all.

“Well, it’s just that. . .” She paused and shifted in her seat as if nervous. “Yesterday, you told us that Sir Humbolt Reed was a fraud and a trickster. But now you are saying—.” 

“Wait, what did you say?” Wyoming cut her off. “Yesterday? I wasn’t here yesterday.”

There was a murmur in the class as all the students started talking at once.

“No, you’ve been here all week!”

“You told me I looked dumb on Tuesday!”

“I really like turtles!”

That last one came from Billy, but turtles were all Billy ever talked about, so Wyoming ignored him.

The voices blended together into a roar, and Wyoming looked around in confusion. Leila had a concerned expression on her face, and Blurble was bouncing up and down in the window, yelling “Blurble!” repeatedly. The slime probably didn’t know what was going on, but it liked to be included, anyway. 

Suddenly, the door banged open and everyone became quiet at once. Except for Blurble, who kept hopping and saying, “Blurble!” Leila picked it up and shushed it, putting it on her lap. Everything was silent for a few heartbeats, and then police officers stormed into the room. They all had swords or crossbows pointed at Wyoming.

Wyoming placed the chalk back down on the board and turned to face the police fully. “Good morning, officers.” He carefully did not pull out his sword. The last thing he wanted to do was fight them, especially in a classroom full of kids. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit this morning?”

The police said nothing. A moment later, a well dressed older man walked into the room. He held out a golden badge. “I am Inspector Maxwell.” He slapped the badge holder shut, then put it in his pocket. “And you, Dr. Bones, are under arrest for stealing the Founder’s Blade!”

Wyoming started to suspect that maybe, just maybe, the day would not be quite as good as he had hoped.

Minecraft Guide for Parents

Wyoming Bones in Minecraft
Wyoming Bones in one of his many Minecraft Adventures

Minecraft Lingo

So your kid (or grandkid, niece, nephew, spouse, etc) has started playing Minecraft. That's great! Minecraft is a fantastic game, especially for letting kids explore their creativity in a healthy way. In survival or adventure mode (Don't worry- I'll explain what those mean in a bit!), kids can also experience risks, deal with defeats, and celebrate victories. But I'm certain you've noticed that Minecraft comes with its own lingo. Your kid is probably talking about Mobs, or Googlies, or pretending to build a wall to defend from Illagers.

But what does any of that mean?

Don't worry! Minecraft might have some strange terms, but I've written this handy guide to get you up to speed on some of the more confusing Minecraft specific words. Think of it as a Minecraft to Parent Dictionary.


Lets start with the basics. What is Minecraft? Minecraft is a video game that started out as basically Digital Legos, and that is all it was for the first little bit. Just like in Lego, you had different color blocks that you could build with. And just like with Lego, joy came from simply building cool creations.

Minecraft now has three different game modes- different ways to play the game.

The first is Creative Mode. Creative mode is a lot like the original Minecraft- you have access to every block in the game and can build, and break, anything you want, while flying everywhere. This is my kids' favorite mode, which I can understand. I loved playing with Legos as a kid, and playing in Creative Mode feels a lot like that. Just a kid and their imagination. This type of game is also called a "sandbox" game, because it allows you to go in and build your own world.

The second is Survival Mode, and is the default game mode in Minecraft. This mode limits your abilities in a lot of ways, but those limits provide much of the fun of the game mode. You have health and can die in Survival mode (although that is not permanent- you come back in a few seconds, usually without your items and back at a home base "spawn point"). Also, you have to find and gather every block you want to build with, which gives you a reason to explore the world as you hunt down rare building materials.

The third is Adventure Mode, which is a lot like Survival Mode, except you can't break or build any blocks. This is excellent for playing through an adventure someone else has designed, where the ability to just cut your way into the Evil Castle would make solving the puzzle a little too easy.

Building Blocks - Common Minecraft Words

Building Blocks. Get it? Because Minecraft?

Common Minecraft Blocks

Block- Everything in the world of Minecraft is made from Blocks. The trees are made from Wood blocks and Leaf blocks. The top layer of the ground is usually Grass blocks. Under that, you'll commonly find some kind of Stone block. There are more than a hundred different types of blocks in Minecraft, and more are added all the time. Each one represents a 1 meter cube of material. Most Blocks can be gathered by breaking them- when a Block breaks, it can be picked up by the player and placed down somewhere else to build with it.

Different Minecraft Biomes

Biome- The world of Minecraft is full of different types of lands to explore, from hot, sandy deserts, to frigid tundra, and lush jungles. Each of those different areas is made up of different Blocks, and has different Mobs that Spawn there.

Pretty mountain arch in Minecraft

Seed- Every new world of Minecraft is procedurally generated, and exploring them is a lot of fun. No two worlds are alike... Unless, that is, they share the same Seed. A Seed is a string of random letters and/or numbers that you can enter in the settings at the setup of that world, and it is used for the basis of the world generation. If you have a world you enjoyed playing in and want to share with your friends, you can just give them that Seed code, and they can play in a copy of the same world.

Minecraft Skins

Skin- Players of Minecraft can put on a new skin whenever they want, which is not as creepy as it sounds! Skins are just how a player looks in the game, and are pretty easy to change. They allow the player to customize their faces, clothes, skin color, etc.

Mobs - Minecraft Creatures

Minecraft Zombie

Mob- Also known as Monsters or Googlies, Mob is the common term for the bad guys that try and get you as you are exploring, mining, or building in Minecraft. Technically, Mob stands for "Mobile Entity", and is anything in the game that has an AI (Artificial Intelligence) controlling it so it can pretend to be alive. Or, in the case of monsters like the Zombie (that green thing to the left), pretend to be Undead. Because of that, even friendly things like Villagers or Cows are actually Mobs.

Minecraft Creeper

Creeper- One of the most dreaded Mobs in Minecraft, the Creeper is one of the few bad guys that can destroy the things you have worked so hard to build. And unlike Zombies and Skeletons, Creepers don't burn up in the daylight, so they might still be waiting outside your door when you leave your house. Also unlike most of the other Mobs, the Creeper is silent when it is sneaking up on you, only letting out its telltale hiss when it is about to explode!

Minecraft Villager

Villager- A peaceful Mob, Villagers live in villages that are scattered around the land of Minecraft. They can be traded with for rare blocks and items, but they aren't great at conversation- most of the time they just grunt.

Minecraft Illager with crossbow

Illager- These are basically bad villagers. They rove around the world of Minecraft in little groups, and if you pick up one of their banners after defeating them, you can summon a raid on a village when you enter it. Raids are events that summon waves of illagers to try and destroy the village, and its up to the player to stop them! If successful, the player can gain some valuable items.

Always more to discover

This short list is only scratching the surface. I hope it gives you a basic understanding of some of the terms you might here your kid use, now that they are playing Minecraft. Let me know in the comments if I missed a term you think should have made the list!

Portuguese Water Dogs, A Kid's Best Friend

Mellow the Portuguese Water Dog
Mellow, our 4 month old Portuguese Water Dog

Every Kid Needs a Dog

Our family likes animals. We currently have six English Angora rabbits (I really should put up some pictures of those adorable fluff balls), three chickens (there were more, but some evil creature of the night has been raiding our flock), and two cats. Despite all of these fine furred and feathered companions, our kids have been begging us for months to get them a dog.

Conveniently, the dog that we've been waiting for since before we were married happened to come available in the middle of those begging months. So, by the time the begging got particularly pleading (there was a birthday conveniently placed that they hoped would give them leverage), we were able to tell them "Maybe....someday....we'll see", all while knowing that a surprise was on its way from Alto Mare PWD's.

Meet Mellow- our four and a half month old Portuguese Water Dog. (You can read more about this breed on their Wikipedia page here.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the breed, Portuguese Water Dogs (which I will be shortening to PWD- that is a finger-full to type!) are a highly intelligent breed that is closely related to the Standard Poodle. They are a bit stouter, more muscular, and less refined then a poodle though, and it is pretty easy to tell them apart. Like the poodle, the PWD has hair instead of fur, so they don't have nearly the shedding problem that most dog breeds have.

While the hair thing is nice, my favorite thing about PWD's is their excellent temperament. They are known for being loving, gentle, and patient, and that is something I've seen in my own experience with the breed. This is actually the third PWD I've had in my life, and they have all been fantastic.

A Working Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog breed has a fascinating history that impacts their behavior to this day. They were bred by Portuguese fishermen to help out on their boats. They would swim out to herd fish into the fishermen's nets, to retrieve lost tackle, or to send messages between ships. I've heard that they were also used to detect the presence of sharks in the water- if the dog refused to jump in, that meant there was something deadly below the boat!

Because of that history, the breed is a bit different than most. Instead of chasing cats, squirrels, or birds, PWD's love to chase fish! The dog we had growing up would jump in the pond while we were on walks and try to catch any fish she could see. They have webbed feet, which make them excellent swimmers, and they love to play in the water. We had a pool, and I'd watch her take a couple laps, then race around the yard, before hopping back into the pool. It was like some kind of aquatic zoomies.

A Family Dog Breed

My grandparents, on my mother's side, were in the dog business. They started out with Cocker Spaniels, but by the time I came around they had switched over to Portuguese Water Dogs. When I started begging for a dog as a young boy, my parents got us a PWD named Maggie. Maggie was already a Grand Champion by the time we got her, so I missed out on the puppy experience, but she was the best dog a boy could ask for.

My younger sister was only a toddler at the time, and I got to witness the PWD's legendary patience first hand as my sister used her for a pillow, a horse, or a trampoline.

Because Maggie was a Grand Champion, we also got to experience two litters of puppies with Maggie. Those are some of my favorite memories from my youth, and ones I hope my kids will get to experience with Mellow. In the meantime, we're enjoying this toddler/preschooler puppy phase that I didn't get to experience growing up.

Mellow and her stick
Mellow and her best friend Stick

Mellow, a Good Dog

We've had Mellow for a week as of today, and she is already a welcome addition to the family. She's still young, and so not quite house broken, but the kids love to play with her. She sees my wife as the alpha running the pack (she isn't wrong), and has learned, though not yet mastered, "settle down" and "leave it".

An interesting trait of PWD's is that they choose one human to bond with - possibly from their history from working with one fisherman on a boat. In Mellow's case, that person is my wife. Mellow will listen to anything my wife says, but pretty much just ignores me.

We'll work on that.

So far, the puppy is getting along great with everyone... Except the cats. They are starting to learn that she just wants to play though, so we have good hopes for their future relationship.

We are enjoying having Mellow so much, that now I am thinking that maybe Wyoming Bones should have a dog. Or maybe Blurble counts as one. Or maybe Blurble should get the dog. What do you think?