Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 2

The story continues, as it will every Sunday until we reach the end…




Chapter 2


An Answer


Emily sighed a long and deep sigh and said to her mate, Emmett, “It looks like we’ll never get to have children. Everyone else in the colony thinks there is something wrong with us, and they look down on us.” Tears flowed from her eyes, turning to ice at the end of her beak. Emmett put a wing on her shoulder, saying nothing. He didn’t know what to say. It was true. They were becoming too old to have any children. They were penguins, Emperor penguins.

They lived in a colony of proud Emperor penguins in Antarctica, on the great peninsula that juts north toward South America. In their colony it was very important to remain proud and to pass on the proud tradition to the children. After all, they were Emperors.

For Emily and Emmett, most of their pride had been taken away by the years of waiting and the many times they’d heard their friends whisper as they passed. The sadness they now felt wasn’t from what others thought or said, but because they had no children.

Emily looked up and cried softly, “Oh, help. I know if we had a child, we would raise him to be a special penguin.”

Emily and Emmett stood gazing at the children playing at the center of the colony. Normally they enjoyed watching them play because they loved children, but today it saddened them all the more. All the children looked so much alike. Certainly each had his or her own looks and personality, but they seemed to learn to be so much alike. They had to waddle the same way and talk the same way. If anyone accidentally said something that was considered unfit for an Emperor to say, he was soon made to feel like one of the “lower” breeds of penguins.

Emily and Emmett decided to take a walk away from the others. Emmett, who had been deep in thought for a long time, broke the silence, “We’ve been shown an important thing, my dear. If we had had a child before now, he would have grown up like all the other children, and like us—proud and selfish. But if we were to have one now, we would teach him love and humility; but perhaps now it’s too late.”

They spent a long time surrounded by the white, icy landscape, talking together and calling out to their Creator for help and wisdom.

As they were returning to their place in the colony, they were met by two strange creatures. Drawing near, they realized they were penguins, but not Emperors, and they weren’t Adelies or Gentoos, the neighboring species of penguins in Antarctica. These two were kind of stumpy looking, not even half as tall as they were, and they had yellow feathers sticking out above their beady red eyes.

They looked tired with a certain sadness in their eyes, but they straightened up as the Emperors approached. Emily and Emmett said a polite “Hello” as they were passing, and would have continued on if one of the little penguins hadn’t said, “Excuse me, I believe you are the Emperor penguins we’ve been directed to visit. Are you Emmett and Emily?”

Emily answered a little nervously, “Yes, but wh…who are you?”

“My name is Cliffider, a Rockhopper from the Falkland Islands, and this is my good mate, Cliffidee. Not many days ago we were told to come here to meet you, and if you will have us, to stay with you for a while.”

“If the Creator has led you here, you are certainly welcome,” answered Emmett. “Come along with us to our place in the colony, and tell us about it.”

As Emmett and Emily waddled back toward home, the Rockhoppers hopped along beside them, telling them about their visit with Cliffking and his prophecies about the coming battle with the caracaras. “And as we were calling for help in the days that followed, finally we each received an answer,” said Cliffider. “We were to come here to find you.”

“But why?” asked Emily.

Cliffidee answered, “I’m going to be laying an egg any day now, and this little penguin is to be raised with the Emperors, while we return to our home to prepare for the war. We are to leave this egg in your care. We know there couldn’t be a better set of parents for our child.”

The Emperors were stunned into silence. Thoughts and emotions waged war in their minds, joy over their answered prayer, but sadness for their new friends. They wondered what the other Emperors would think, having an egg in the summer when Emperors always have theirs in the dark of winter. In the end came the calm assurance that this was the answer they had been waiting for. They would finally be able to have an egg and then a baby penguin.

When the time came for the laying of the egg, Cliffidee put it on the feet of Emily to keep it warm, and she whispered to the egg, “Goodbye, little one, and always remember your Maker, and come see us if he so leads.”

Knowing they must now return home, the Rockhoppers thanked the Emperors for receiving them and for taking their egg. Cliffider finished with these words, “I’m sure you realize that your new baby will be different from the rest of the children in your colony. Some will laugh at him. Some won’t understand him. You have been chosen because you will be able to keep loving him no matter what anyone else says. At home we’ll be having a war. He may have his own here, but it won’t kill him, and with your help it will strengthen him. To him you will be his mom and dad, yet someday he may decide to find where he came from. He may be called to help in our battle. We leave that to the great one who made us all. May he be with you in all you do.”

So Cliffidee and Cliffider said goodbye and headed north to their home. Perhaps I don’t need to mention how many times they looked back toward the feet of Emily.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 1


This story is available as a printed book or ebook in various stores online, but my plan is to post a chapter (or part of a chapter) every Sunday. If you’d like to have an idea what my writing is like, here’s the opportunity to sample it, and if you don’t want to buy the book, but still want to read the story, here you can read it for free over the course of the next 40 or so weeks.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1

The Long Way Home

Chapter 1


A Prophecy


Just a small ray of sun from the East broke through the gray clouds covering the Falkland Islands as Cliffider and Cliffidee jumped from rock to rock up the cliff from the ocean to their home. They were penguins, Rockhopper penguins.

Their life, up to this time, had been spent doing the usual penguiny sorts of things, such as raising a number of little ones from the egg to maturity. As the time now drew near for another one to enter their world, they couldn’t have imagined how their lives and that of their whole colony could change. Life had been as it was for as long as they could remember, and it seemed it had been that way for their parents and grandparents.

But on this morning, something felt different, and they didn’t know why. After finishing their breakfast in the ocean, they were on their way to visit Cliffking. He was a very old and wise penguin who was considered a patriarch of their colony. Some, however, thought he was strange.

As they drew nearer to the top of the cliff the sound of the many Rockhoppers in their colony drew louder. It sounded like they were all talking at once. They could hear playful shouting, arguing, singing, and just regular conversation. It didn’t seem unusual to Cliffidee and Cliffider. That’s just the way it was, and always had been, just like the constant crashing of the waves on the rocks below them.

Finally, after reaching the cliff’s summit, they hopped and waddled through the multitudes of their folk and came out on the other side. Climbing uphill for a while, they came to the little rock cave where Cliffking usually stayed. It was a quieter place where he could think.

“Welcome, good friends,” he said. “How was the krill?” (Krill is a favorite food of penguins. It is a tiny shrimp-like creature that is very abundant in these southern waters. To us it may sound like swill, but to them it is just swell.)

“Just swell,” answered Cliffider. “I would have brought you some, but I didn’t have a good way of carrying it up the cliff.”

“That’s okay. I have plenty—all I need. So, what’s on your mind today?”

Cliffidee answered, “We came to see what’s on your mind. We have an uneasy feeling that something is about to change for us all. We were directed to come to you, because you have been given some wisdom about it. You have a message for us, don’t you?”

“Well, you know I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but the one who directed you to come here is the one who speaks to me, and what he speaks is the truth, whether we like it or not.”

“What has he told you?” asked Cliffider.

“I know my days are getting short, and soon I must lay myself down before our Creator. Soon after that a time of trouble will come to our peaceful islands. Do you see those birds up there?”

They looked up to see the brown gull-like birds flying over the colony with watchful eyes. “The caracaras?”

Cliffking continued, “They are, as you know, our natural enemies, but not that big of a concern to us. They’re mainly a nuisance, trying to steal our eggs and looking for opportunities to take away the weak or young ones among us. But a time is coming when they will become a terrible enemy. They will increase in number, attack us, and carry many of us away.”

“How do you know these things?” asked Cliffider.

“Well, son, I’ve hopped along on the rocks of these islands and swum the ocean around us for many years. All along I’ve been with the one who knows. He has shown me some things because I listened to him.”

“How long will this attack go on?”

“Until the one comes who will lead us in victory.”

“Who will that be?”

Then Cliffking stood up straight, lifted up his right wing, and his voice, saying,


When the trouble comes from the skies

He of yellow crest and eyes

Swims from the north.

He will suddenly come forth

With his mate by his side

And a seal as his ride.

Soon the flying ones will flee

And the Falklands become free.


“Hey, not bad!” said Cliffider to his mate out of the corner of his beak, “and such an old fellow, too.”

“Ay, what’s’at? If I was a bit younger, I would have heard that!” said Cliffking. “You think poetry is only for the young? I was composing it before you were an egg, and I was already old then!”

Cliffider laughed, “Sorry about that, old-timer, but I think you were born old.” Then he grew more serious and said, “Are you saying the one who will lead us to victory will be a yellow-eyed Rockhopper? We all have beady red eyes beneath our yellow crest feathers!”

Cliffking answered, “Many things are possible that we wouldn’t expect, but perhaps there is a Yellow-eyed penguin from New Zealand in his family line.”

Cliffidee asked, “Is there anything we can do to prepare for those days?”

“The most important thing is to remember the one who made us and to keep looking to him for wisdom and help.”

Cliffider and Cliffidee visited with Cliffking until late afternoon and then returned to their place in the colony. One of their neighbors asked, “What did old Methuselah have to say today?”

Cliffidee related the prophecies of the old penguin. Some laughed, some listened, and some said, “We’ll see.”

Others said, “Things have always been as they are. Why should it change?” But the prophecies remained in their minds.

In the days that followed, Cliffider and Cliffidee spent more time outside the colony in lonely places, listening and calling for help. One morning they each knew they were given a command, a message from their maker.

That hour they left their secure home on the rock and dove into the sea, heading south.

Coming Soon, Volume 1 Serial


No, it’s not something you have for breakfast with milk on it. Starting  Sunday, February 12, a chapter of Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, will be posted here every week until the book is done. There are 33 chapters, and some of them are longer than others, so some may be cut into two or three.  If you want a free version of the book, here it will be, if you want to take 40 weeks to finish it. I hope you like it.

This idea isn’t something I thought up on my own. Many of the classic writers, like Charles Dickens, posted their books as a serial first and then published the whole book. Also, a blogger I’ve enjoyed, Mitch Teemley, has been doing it with his story, The Wishing Map. He also has thought-provoking and/or humorous posts throughout the week.

New Free Story

Fly Like a Penguin has many characters who come into the story. Some of them become important to the whole outcome of the penguins’ adventures. Others make a brief appearance. I’ve just finished a short story about a minor character, the dog named Goldie whom Hopper meets in Volume 1.

Goldie the Dream Dog is the first of (perhaps) many side stories I’m intending to write, in case any of my readers would like to know what other friends of Hopper did with the rest of their lives.

Goldie is available at Smashwords for free as an ebook. Most likely it will never be a printed book, unless I make an anthology of many short stories.


Free and less expensive ebooks

Smashwords, my primary ebook publisher is running a promotion this month, and  my books are part of it. I’ve been offering the first two books for free for a while now (which is probably a temporary situation), so they were automatically part of the promotion. The third book in the series has been $1.99, but with the coupon code that shows up when you think about buying it, you can get it for half price.

This is a good opportunity to check out the Fly Like a Penguin series, especially if you have kids between the ages of 9 and 12.

If you buy books from Smashwords, you can download them in the right format for any type of e-reader. The books can also be found at other retailers like Amazon, Itunes, and Barnes and Noble, but the promotion is only at Smashwords.

The Trilogy is Complete

The third book of the Fly Like a Penguin trilogy was published on March 15. Sometimes I call it a series, which leaves open the possibility of adding more to it. Right now it is a trilogy with the completion of Volume 3, The Last Wave.

I originally published the first book as Fly Like a Penguin in 2004, but finding more to the story, I published The Smell of Evil in 2012. At that time I also revised the first book and entitled it The Long Way Home. Volume 2 left some unanswered questions, which The Last Wave took care of. Now the story is complete, although I wonder, “Will there be more?” Time will tell. Then I wouldn’t be able to call it a trilogy.


Flap2-9-23-13jpgThe Last Wave







These books are available as printed books or ebooks. The first two are temporarily free as ebooks at most online stores. The lowest Amazon will let me go is $0.99. At Smashwords you can download a copy for any type of reading device, including Kindle. The third book is $1.99.

A list of stores where you can get them are at the right side of this page. You might have to scroll down a little bit.



The Penguin in Puget Sound

I posted this a few years ago, but I don’t know if anyone saw it. With the upcoming release of the Last Wave (Volume 3 of Fly Like a Penguin), I thought it would be good to share it again.

When I was a teenager, I saw a penguin floating on a log in Puget Sound. If you who aren’t familiar with that body of water, it’s the inlet from the Pacific Ocean that gives the state of Washington its great shape. Seattle is on the eastern side of the Sound, and my hometown, Bremerton, is on the west.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our house was on the waterfront with a porch along the whole front side, where you could stand outside, even on one of those rare rainy Washington days, and look aimlessly out at the water. The usual sights were seagulls, boats, including the ferry that went hourly to and from Seattle, other birds, seagulls, occasional jumping fish, seagulls, and boats, including canoes, rowboats, ski-boats, and yachts. Sometimes something more exciting might swim by, like a seal, or even more rarely, some whales.

A Seagull, not a Penguin

But one day a penguin floated by. Penguins don’t live in Puget Sound or anywhere near that far north. The most northerly penguins are the Galapagos Penguins on the equator off the coast of Ecuador. I really don’t remember my reaction to seeing a penguin there. It must have been whatever a typical teen reaction might have been. I didn’t think about it much after that until many years later when I had my own kids. One day, the thought came into my mind, “Hey, what was that penguin doing there?”
From that question came the years-long quest to answer it. Indeed, it took nearly 20 years for the completion of the story, in which is answered not only that first question, but also where did that penguin come from, and where was it going? Originally publishing it as Fly Like a Penguin in 2004, later on I found there was more to the story. The first book was revised (improved) in 2012, and the name changed to The Long Way Home, being Volume 1 of the Fly Like a Penguin series. Volume 2, The Smell of Evil, was published later that year. Volume 3, The Last Wave, will be published March 15.  That will probably complete the series, although I have some ideas for spinoff stories.

The Last Wave
Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 3

The first two books are temporarily free, until I make some corrections and improvements in the writing, after which I will republish them. The Last Wave can be preordered and will be available for download next week.

It’s finally here! Almost.

Volume 3 of the Fly Like a Penguin trilogy is scheduled to be published on March 15 at  Those of you who read the first two books have been left hanging for a couple of years, because Volume 2 left a few unanswered questions. Soon you will be unhung, unless something goes wrong in these final stages of the publishing process, like finding  mistakes that I haven’t seen yet. Or if any of my beta readers tell me  the story stinks.

I’m fairly confident all will proceed as planned. As I read through the story myself, looking for mistakes or bad writing, I find myself enjoying it a lot. I think it’s a really good tale, at least as good as the first two, which I also think are very good. For those of you unfamiliar with Fly Like a Penguin, I’ve written it for kids about 8-12 years old, but have attempted to make it fun for adults, too.

For a while the first two ebooks will be free in the Smashwords version, which means they’ll also be free at most other online retailers. I’m pretty sure they won’t be free on Amazon for the Kindle version, but you can get them from Smashwords with the Kindle formatting.

I’m planning on re-writing Volumes 1 and 2, because I’ve noticed a few minor mistakes in them, but I also think I can write them better. As they are, the stories are fine, and I’m not going to change that at all, just clean up the writing a bit. I will leave the price free until I re-publish them. Then they will go back to something you have to buy. Volume 3 is available as a pre-order for $1.99, and will remain at that price until I re-publish the other two. I’ve also lowered the print versions to as low as they can go, also until I re-publish them. So far the lower price for the printed books is only at Amazon. I think they will be lowered at the other retailers, too.

If you’re looking for something for your preteen to read, or a story you’d like to read to your child or grandchild, click on one of the many links in this article or at the side of the page. Even if you just want to read it yourself. If you’re using an e-reader, it will be hard for others to see that you’re reading a kids’ book. I won’t tell.

Smashwords July Promotion

Smashwords, one of my ebook publishers, is having a big promotion this month. I’m participating in it, so my books will be discounted. Volume 1, which is normally $0.99, will be free with the coupon code SW100. Volume 2, normally $2.99, will be $1.50 with this code: SSW50.

Many authors will be discounting their books this month, so it’s a good time to check it out.

New additions to this site

I have two additions to the site. First, for those who like penguins, I’ve added a new page with links to stories I find about real penguins. A few days ago a Royal penguin was found on the beach in New Zealand. He had apparently gotten lost and was about a thousand miles from his home. He was in bad shape, and despite efforts to revive him, he died. Penguins are still very popular all around the world, and I’m seeing quite a few articles about them.

I’ve also added a page about Volume 3 of the Fly Like a Penguin trilogy, mainly to show my writing progress. This is perhaps a way of inspiring me to keep at it. We’ll see.