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The decision is made!

Basset pup with shades
Pre-order RUTHERFORD, CANINE COMIC at the Kindle and Barnes & Noble ebook stores

I went off by myself and tried to think of funny situations a dog might find himself in. Then, I worked them into a joke. I recalled when a family with a bunch of kids came by one time. The kids were chasing some of the dogs and teasing them. I thought of a good one.

Hey, what’s got four legs and an arm? Give up? A Rottweiler in a crowd.

I’m not sure whether or not humans would appreciate it, but since they couldn’t understand me, I’ve never worried much about it. If I can get a fellow canine to laugh, I was in my glory. I’d forget about whatever was bothering me.
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After that, when I wasn’t thinking up new jokes or telling them, I would play with my brothers and sisters. There weren’t any of them my age. When I was born, there were seven of us, but they’re all long gone now. We only had three or four months together before they went off to new homes. As hard as it was to see them go, I was happy for them. It was their destiny to become part of a loving family, and to compete proudly at dog shows. I tried not to think about it too much. It always made me kind of sad—not the dog show part, but the new-family part.

I was okay, though. New pups are fun to be around—most of the time. Humans think puppies are so darn cute, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. But there’s one thing about puppies that isn’t particularly attractive. Have you ever noticed that it’s all about them?

I’m not saying they’re selfish. It’s just that their basic instincts early on are to be individuals, not team players. I don’t blame them. They can’t help themselves. They want everyone to do things for them. “Rutherford, get me this. Rutherford, I’m hungry. Rutherford, can you scratch my ear?” They haven’t figured out yet that their mission in life is to serve.

What really bugs me, though, sometimes, is that most of them are just too immature to appreciate my humor. I remember one time when I asked them, “Hey, how does your owner know if you’ve been drinking from the toilet?”

They just scratched their heads.

“’Cause your breath smells…better.”

A lot of the older dogs roar at that one, but not the puppies. I guess they haven’t had enough life experience.

But someday, they’ll think back to that joke, and out of nowhere, they’ll just start laughing. I probably won’t be there to see it, but that’s okay. I take comfort in the fact that, whenever or wherever it happens, they might think fondly of their big brother.

I still believed my dream of becoming a watchdog would come true someday, but in the meantime, I guess stand-up comic would have to do. And I was pretty certain I could make it work.

So, if I couldn’t offer protection, then I would become the best stand-up comedian I could be. Entertaining your fellow man—er, dog—might not seem like a noble effort. But, you know, you just can’t put a price on what a smile or a chuckle or a good belly laugh can do for a fellow canine. It can help them forget their troubles. I was happy to accept this new challenge.
From that point on, I held my head high, sat up on my hind legs, and was proud to call myself Rutherford—Canine Comic.


Rutherford, Canine Comic will be released in ebook on 11 September at Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play, and in trade paperback wherever good books are sold.

 
 

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Rutherford Discovers A Career

Mr. Davis is one of the best-known and most respected breeders in the state. He’s in his eighties, I think; all I know is that he’s been around for decades. At least, that’s what I hear folks say. Mr. Davis prides himself on top quality basset hounds. He tells anyone who will listen that he raises the best show dogs in the country. Lately, I’ve started to worry how long he’ll keep me here. If no one seems interested, will he eventually get tired of taking care of me?

What I needed was a skill—a real skill—some sort of talent to make me impossible to replace. I needed to prove to him and all the others I’m really good at something—and not just good, but the best. Then he’ll have to keep me. Right?

Well, it made perfect sense to me.

So, I asked my mom one day if she could name one thing I did better than any of the other dogs. It took her a minute to think of something. That made me a little nervous.

“Let me see, now,” she said. “It’s really hard to come up with just one thing. You’re so good at everything.” Spoken like a true mother.

“Mom, I’m not talking about being good at something. Is there anything I do better than anyone else?”

She turned her head and smiled. Then, as it sometimes does, her back leg started thumping, and it slowly began moving in the direction of her head. I knew exactly what she needed.

“Let me take care of that for you,” I said. “That’s what I’m here for.” I reached up with my front paw and began scratching her ear.

“Mmmmm.” She put her head back and closed her eyes. “Now, there’s something you’re really good at.”

“Anybody can scratch an itch,” I said. “There’s gotta be something better.”

My mother was now in deep thought. “Give me another minute.”

This wasn’t going well. If your own mother couldn’t think of something—anything—that set you apart from the pack, then you were in big trouble.

She looked at me with a nervous smile. I could tell she was struggling to come up with something. It was starting to get embarrassing—for both of us. It was time to change the subject.

“Hey, Mom, did you hear about the dog who got too close to an electric fan and lost his nose?”

“Oh, dear,” she said. “Without a nose, how does he smell?”

I grinned. “He smells like all dogs—awful!”

She shook her head and started laughing. “Oh, Rutherford, where do you come up with this stuff? You never seem to run out of…” She paused. “Wait a minute. That’s it.”

“What?” I said.

“You’re the best joke-teller on the farm—hands down.”

I smiled. You know, she was right. As much as I’ve always wanted to be someone’s watchdog, I kind of knew it might take time to get discovered. And so, just to keep my spirits up, and to make the others think I was okay with being passed over, I went out of my way to learn new jokes to tell everyone.

It always made me feel good to see the others laugh. It took some of the sting out of rejection. And when I stopped to think about it, no one knew more jokes than I did—and if I have to say so myself—no one could deliver a punchline any better than I can. It’s an art, I’ll have you know. And it all has to do with timing.

“I do like telling a good joke,” I said. “And all the others do seem to enjoy them.”

“They love your jokes,” my mother said. “You have a real talent, son.”

It was nice to hear her say that. So, I could do something better than the rest. That was great.

But the more I thought about this talent of mine, the more I wondered how it would help me in the long run. I was flattered that other dogs enjoyed my humor, but was it enough to convince Mr. Davis I was a valuable asset here on the farm?

“I like entertaining everyone,” I told my mother, “but what good is it, really?”

“What good is it?” she said. “Rutherford, you single-handedly keep the morale sky-high around here. Everyone is always so happy to see you. You’re never without a smile and a funny story. That’s priceless.”

“But Mr. Davis is a human. He can’t understand my jokes. He doesn’t know I have this talent. Someday, he’s going to get tired of taking care of me, and he’s just going to dump me somewhere.”

My mother shook her head. “What are you talking about? Mr. Davis loves you. He knows that you’re…” She glanced at my short leg, “…special. He would never get rid of you. You’re one of his favorites.” She smiled weakly. “Of course, I wish I could say the same thing about his son.”

His son—now, that was another subject. Horace Davis was nothing like his father. He always seemed to be in a foul mood. He never played with any of us. I don’t think he even liked us. He treated us like—well, dogs. And he never smiled.

Wait a minute—I take that back. Whenever someone pulled out his wallet to pay for one of us—then, and only then, would he smile.

I, for one, didn’t trust him. And I’m sure my mother felt the same way. More than once she warned us about staying away from him. I wasn’t sure why, but I didn’t want to find out.

He always made me feel uncomfortable. Whenever he saw me, he would shake his head and make this grunting sound. For the longest time, I’ve had a feeling that if Horace is ever running this place, there’ll be no room around here for me.

I decided that if I concentrated on my joke-telling and helped keep spirits high around the place, I could survive anything.

To be continued…

(Enjoying Rutherford’s story? The ebook is now available for pre-order both in the Kindle Store and at Barnes & Noble.)

 
 

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What’s more fun than a basset hound?

Cute sitting tricolor basset hound puppy wearing yellow and orange sunglasses on a white background
A basset hound who’s a stand-up comic. Meet Rutherford, coming soon from Zumaya Thresholds.

Chapter 1

Canine Comic


For as long as I can remember, there was only one thing I ever wanted in life. One thing that would have made me happy and content.

All I’ve ever wanted was a chance to be a watchdog. A real watchdog. One who would stand guard and protect his owners from harm. One who would alert them in the event of danger. One who would save his family from a raging fire, from unwanted intruders, or from pesky squirrels and raccoons.

That’s been my dream for the longest time. And someday I’ll realize that goal. I just know it. You wait and see.

As each day passes, I wait for the call. Will it be today, I wonder? Or maybe tomorrow? There’s nothing holding me back. I have all of the necessary qualifications—I’m fearless, hard-working, and loyal. I even meet the age requirement. In a few months, I’ll be celebrating my second birthday—in people years, that is. I haven’t quite figured out exactly how old that is in dog years, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s nearly grown up. I like to think I’m mature enough to handle the job.

But sometimes I think I’m the only one who seems to think so. If people would just give me a chance, I could be a great watchdog.

I was telling my mother the other day about my ultimate goal in life. I can tell her anything. My mother Iris, a proud basset hound, was busy cleaning up after the puppies when I found her.

“Mom, you know what I want to be when I grow up?”

“What’s that?”

“A watchdog,” I said proudly.

I’ll never forget her reaction. She chuckled. She actually chuckled.

“Oh, Rutherford, be serious,” she said. “What do you really want to be?”

“I am serious. I want to be a watchdog.”

She pulled me closer and licked my face. I love it when she does that. It’s always so warm and cozy to lie next to her.

“Sweetheart, you’re a basset hound. You’re not a Doberman or a German shepherd. People don’t get basset hounds for protection.”

“Why not?”

She smiled weakly. “Well, we’re just not built that way. Look at us—we have long bodies and short legs. We’re not very strong, and we can’t run fast. We just wouldn’t be effective as watchdogs.”

I sighed. I was hoping for a different answer.

“Rutherford, you have to accept the fact that we’re here for a different reason. Mr. Davis breeds us to become the best show dogs in the state. People don’t come here looking for watchdogs. They come here looking for dogs they can enter in competitions who’ll someday become Best in Show.”

“I know all that,” I said. “But it’s not good enough. I want more out of life than beauty pageants. I want to make a difference. And I just figured that becoming a watchdog would do that.”

My mother nuzzled my cheek. “Son, if that’s what you truly want, I’m not going to stand in your way. But it’s going to be difficult to convince others that you’re watchdog material.”

I appreciated her support. She was trying to let me down easy—just like a mother. But I’m determined, and nothing will stop me from reaching my ultimate goal. I’m well aware it will be an uphill battle. For nearly two years, I’ve been passed over by people looking for a show winner, and I knew exactly why. My mother would never say it to my face, but both she and I know I’ll never be Best in Show.

Not that I even wanted to.

See, I was born with a little handicap that seems to scare people away. I’m not as fast as some of the others. Big deal. How important is speed, anyway? When you’re a watchdog, you don’t run away. You hold your ground—and I can do that just fine. So, the fact I have one hind leg an inch shorter than the other three shouldn’t mean a thing. I’ve learned to live with it. Why couldn’t they?

Heck, I’ve met plenty of three-legged dogs in my time, and they do just fine. I have all four of mine. That should count for something.

But whenever families show up here and see me limp around the yard, I know what they’re thinking. I can see it on their faces. They know a defect like mine would never win them a dog show. So, they want nothing to do with me.

And that’s fine. I’ve learned to handle rejection. The ones that really bug me are the folks who feel sorry for me.

“Aw, see that poor dog over there?” they say. “He’s cute, but let’s keep looking.”

I hate that. I don’t need their pity. I need a chance to show them what I can do. I’m not dog show material, but I can do other stuff—like being a watchdog—if they’d just give me the chance.

So, at the end of each day, I’m still here, and that worries me a little.

(To be continued…)


RUTHERFORD, CANINE COMIC, by John Madormo, illus. by Brad Foster, coming September 2020 from Zumaya Thresholds; Trade paperback, ISBN  978-1-61271-353-3, Ebook, ISBN 978-1-61271-354-0 (Kindle), 978-1-61271-355-7 (epub)

Soon to be available wherever fine books and ebooks are sold.

 

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From Zumaya Thresholds – The Ghost of Winter Joy

The Ghost of Winter Joy

by Mike DiCerto

Book 3 of the Adventures of Rupert Starbright

Strange creatures begin to appear in the normally dull Graysland after Rupert digs up a mysterious bell in his backyard. He sets off with his best pal Squeem to discover the secret of a mysterious haunted mansion, its creepy occupant, and their connection to an all but forgotten old holiday called Winter Joy.

Locked in, a prisoner of the mysterious owner of the mansion, Rupert is rescued by Pie O’Sky, who gives him a key that opens a door on a dangerous journey where he will come face-to-face with the Ghost of Winter Joy.

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

ISBN:    9781612711119

Read a Sample.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Zumaya Thresholds

 

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From Zumaya Thresholds – The Talisman of Zandria

The Talisman of Zandria

by Christine Norris

The Talisman of Zandria

 

 

Adventure happens when you least expect it

Ivy Peterson is Less-Than-Ordinary. She’s so very Less-than-Ordinary that sometimes she feels invisible. She is also Not Very Brave.

But part of her wishes she could be something More, that something Extraordinary and Completely Unusual would happen. What she forgets about wishes is that they do sometimes come true.

Ivy accidentally falls into Zandria, a magical world that exists just outside her own. And she’s trapped there because someone has stolen the Talisman of Zandria, a magical amulet that controls the five gates the worlds. She and her new friends—the wizard Arden, his young apprentice Connor, and a pair of fairies—set off on a quest to recover the Talisman, a journey of discovery that will change Ivy in ways she never could have imagined.

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon as well as in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

ISBN:    9781612712215

Also available in ePub, Mobi, and PDF at the ZP eBookstore.

Read some sample chapters!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in New Releases, Zumaya Thresholds

 

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From Zumaya Thresholds – Windmills

Windmills
by Lyndi Alexander

When everything you know has changed…

Bio-terrorists release a plague in the United States that spreads to kill most of the world’s Caucasian population. As the deadly virus mutates, Tzu Shin, a renowned medical doctor and biologist, defects from China to help develop a cure. His only daughter, Lin Kwan, is left behind in Hong Kong with her aunt.

Then Kwan’s father summons her from across the sea to bring him Chinese medicinal herbs he needs to develop a cure. Lonely and missing her parents, she accepts the challenge, traveling with her sensei Li Zhong to the New World.

But a Chinese assassin is on her trail, determined to kill her and Li Zhong, and when Kwan discovers her father has disappeared, she sets out on a journey to find him and deliver her precious cargo, a quest that she may not survive.

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon as well as in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

Sample Chapter

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in New Releases, Zumaya Thresholds

 

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From Zumaya Thresholds – “No More Goddesses” by Kim Baccellia

No More Goddesses
by Kim Baccellia

Getting a date shouldn’t be this hard.

Jordan Lake discovers an ancient bracelet in her grandmother’s house and uncovers a family mystery that links her favorite actress, Audrey Hepburn, a romantic movie, and an aunt she never knew. Jordan hopes the bracelet will bring her love. Instead, it brings one nightmare after another, unleashing Hathor, the Egyptian love goddess, who decides it’s fun to mess with the McKnight High School social scene.

Jordan holds the key to vanquish Hathor, but will she figure out what it is in time to save her school, one of her best friends, and get a date to the Valentine’s Day dance?

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

ISBN:    9781612710129

 
 

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Zumaya Thresholds Imprint – Reality Ali

Reality Ali by Christine Marciniak

The only thing real about reality TV is the camera

Fourteen-year-old Ali Caldwell’s father keeps her privacy so secure none of the kids at boarding school believe she has a movie star for a mom. Sick of hiding in the wings, Ali decides to orchestrate her own fame by posting videos of her and her friends on YouTube. Suddenly, she’s the new Hollywood buzz, and her mom wants Ali on her reality show.

Now Ali’s in the middle of a media firestorm. The paparazzi have tracked her down, interview requests are coming from all over, and the hottest star in Hollywood asks her to the school dance. To top it all off, some stranger is following her around and sending flowers. It’s really starting to creep her out. But is he really a dangerous stalker, or just another cog in her mother’s publicity machine?

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon as well as in ebook for Kindle.

ISBN: 9781612710747

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in New Releases, Zumaya Thresholds

 

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Zumaya Threshold Imprint – The Sword Of Danu

The Sword of Danu by Christine Norris

 

Just when everything was under control…

Megan has embraced her role as the Librarian, protector of the Library of Athena. She’s spent her entire summer teaching herself magic (al though it doesn’t always work out the way she wants) and studying the Library’s secrets. The Order of Ares, an organization bent on stealing all of the Library’s artifacts, are always at the back of her mind, though they’ve been quiet for awhile.

Then she is forced into yet another enchanted story. Or rather, the story comes to her, somehow ripped from the pages of the book and brought to life. She and her friends must fight their way through an imaginary Ireland, where danger lies around every turn, and find the mythical Sword of Danu.

It’s a race against time—because the magic is spreading. The manor is being overrun, and Megan, Rachel, Claire and Harriet must fight through what was supposed to be an imaginary world to find the sword and return things to normal.

The Library of Athena Book 4

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon as well as in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

ISBN:    9781612710952

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in New Releases, Zumaya Thresholds

 

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Zumaya Thresholds Imprint – The Secret of My-Myst

The Secret of My-Myst by Mike DiCerto

There’s a little bit of good in the worst of us

Rupert Starbright, separated from his guide and protector Dream Weaver, travels the dangerous Wildness with two wild boys who have vowed to help Murkus defeat Queen Chroma and conquer Far-Myst. Separated from the boy who calls himself Xerks, Rupert and the other boy, who is none other than Dream Weaver’s son Quix, stumble on a gateway to a land of mystery—My-Myst, the land of the dreaded Truseens.

As Murkus, now a creature half man and half dragon, sucks all the joy and color from Far-Myst with his deadly dark sun, Rupert decides he must confront his enemy and ask him why he so hates imagination and its wonders because no one else is willing to do it.

Is there something good buried deep within the black heart of the Dragon Lord? And are Rupert’s faith and imagination strong enough to find it and keep Far-Myst from becoming another Graysland?

Purchase the trade paperback from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and in ebook for Kindle and NOOK.

 
 

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