Congratulations to reader Jim McFarlane for the winning caption below. Look for another Caption Contest next Sunday.
Pssst, John, who are those two guys down at the other end?
When you’re in a bookstore, you read the first few pages of a book to see if you like it before purchasing. You have a similar option at Amazon.com, too. If you click on a book’s cover image, a Look Inside link appears.
If you click on Look Inside, you can read the first seven pages of my rock & roll Christmas fantasy.
I’d like to make it even easier for you to do that right here, so you can see what the story is like, how Elvis is portrayed, how well the writing is done, etc. Please read following Chapter 1 of the book. I’m confident you will enjoy it a lot, and maybe you will be motivated to click on this Amazon link to buy a copy. [Note: the illustrations are not in the book, but it is a blogger axiom that you must break up large chunks of text with pictures.]
The relentless arctic wind swirled over a harsh and desolate world. Glacial fields, broken by jagged ice outcroppings, stretched between ridges of foreboding mountains. A solitary figure, with a backpack and guitar case slung over his shoulders, climbed up one of the lower slopes. He slipped and stumbled, beaten by wind-driven snow, as he fought to reach the top of the ridge.
Without warning, his footing gave way and he slid downward at a frightening speed. His shoulder bounced off a large crag, slowing him down. He flailed wildly with both hands, and grabbed an outcropping to stop his fall. The man clung there, panting, and shifted his feet around until he found a solid foothold. He pulled himself together, checked to see that the guitar case was undamaged, then struggled on.
He clawed himself to the top and saw the object of his incredible trek – an inviting valley, bathed in sunlight, with beautiful evergreen trees and holly bushes all around.
And, right in the middle, stood Santa’s castle. Not far from it, a tall red and white object stood by like a sentinel. Even from this distance, the traveler felt certain it was the North Pole.
He took a deep breath and started down the incline toward the castle with new resolve. Suddenly, a shaft of energy shot down from the sky, locked onto his body, and lifted him three feet in the air.
“What the heck!”
“Weasel, put that man down immediately.” The thin old man’s outburst shattered the quiet hum of the spacecraft’s command bridge. He managed to get his anger under control, but his disposition remained as dark and grim as his soiled black lab coat and tangle of unkempt hair.
Weasel jutted out his chin, flashing his displeasure with the command, but he grumbled, “Yes, sir,” and moved a lever on his control panel.
The old man continued his rant. “You need to get over this idea that I’m merely a brilliant scientist. I’m also the commander of this spacecraft, and you guys don’t make the decisions. I do. Sometimes you Humbahs are so stupid.”
Weasel headed a group known as the Humbahs, four elves who had washed out with Santa a few years earlier. They were all surly and stubborn, especially Weasel. He had purple spiked hair, and wore a heavily studded, sleeveless black leather jacket. His face sported several piercings, and numerous tats covered his little arms.
The commander turned back to his telescope monitor screen and watched as the traveler settled slowly back to the mountainside. Dammit, I really have to keep these Humbahs under tighter control, he thought. Evil elves with no qualms about ruining Christmas ought to make the right crew for my plot, but sometimes that independent streak of theirs drives me crazy.
Then the old man twisted to face the elf again. “Weasel, what the hell did you think you were doing?”
“Just having a little fun,” he said with a tone of insolence. “I wasn’t going to hurt the man – just shake him up.”
“We’re not here to have fun. We’re here to complete a mission.”
Weasel straightened up in his chair and puffed out his chest. “Well, we’ve tested our prototype transporter beam on big rocks and stuff, so why not on a person? It didn’t do any harm.”
The scientist snorted at Weasel’s continued defiant attitude. “You better hope there’s no harm. That man is obviously going to Santa’s castle. Suppose he tells what happened to him, and Santa gets suspicious and figures out we’re back with another plot this year to ruin Christmas.”
Weasel shot back, “Even if he does, there’s nothing Santa can do about it.”
The commander shook his head in exasperation and turned back to the monitor screen.
The traveler settled gently onto the mountain slope. He sat there for a moment, unhurt, wondering what just happened. Then, he looked ahead and locked his eyes on Santa’s castle. His mind spun back to the task at hand, and he stood up, shrugged, and continued his journey.
About halfway down the mountain, the traveler realized it was getting warmer – but the snow was not melting. The lower he went, the warmer it got. When the slope leveled off, he thought, it feels like a gorgeous spring day, but there’s snow on the ground. This is pretty cool. He unzipped his heavy parka and pulled back the hood.
Soon he reached a point where he could make out the details of the North Pole. It looked to be almost two feet in diameter and over thirty feet tall. The traveler hadn’t known what to expect, but its massive size surprised him.
The traveler spotted two young elves ahead playing in the snow. They looked up and stared at him, then scurried off around the corner of Santa’s castle and out of sight.
As the traveler passed the North Pole, he noticed a small compartment door about three feet off the ground. It looked like it might cover some sort of control panel and had a combination lock securing it. He wondered why it was so low, then smiled when he realized the answer. That door is set for elf height. I’ll bet one of them opens it up and works some kind of switches or dials. Wonder what it does?
He trudged forward to Santa’s castle, a sprawling stone structure with multiple turrets and Tudor-style wood trim on the gables. The snow on the roof made it a picture-perfect image, and it beckoned him with an irresistible pull.
The traveler reached the steps, climbed up to the porch, and paused in front of the door. Well, this is it. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
In a few seconds, the door opened to reveal a familiar face. Santa smiled broadly when he saw his new visitor, and said, “Welcome to the North Pole. We don’t get many visitors here, but we’re real glad to see you, Mister….“ Santa paused.
He didn’t greet me with ‘Hello Elvis,’ so I guess he doesn’t know, or else he’s cuttin’ me some slack. Yeah, that’s probably it. “Well, sir, aaah, aaah…you can call me… aaah….Big E.”
Santa reached out and shook his hand. “Well, Big E, won’t you come on in?”
“Thank you, Santa,” he said as he passed through the door. “I’m really sorry to show up unannounced like this, but I’m hopin’ I might be able to stay here for a while. There’s some stuff goin’ on with my life, and I need to get away, you know?”
“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you like, Big E.” Santa looked at the guitar case. “I presume you can play that guitar or you wouldn’t have gone to all the trouble to lug it up here.”
Big E laughed. “There’s some debate about that, but I can hit a few licks.”
“Well, four of the elves entertain us with music occasionally,” Santa said. “They would like to play rock and roll, but it’s not going so well. Maybe you could work with them and help them along.”
“Oh, I’d love to. It would be great to get back to makin’ music again, just for fun.”
“Excellent. Say, can I help you get that heavy parka off?”
After Big E shed his gloves and coat, he tugged on his loose pants and shirt. “I guess I lost about fifty pounds making this trek. It’s been years since I’ve been this trim.”
“That’s nothing,” Santa said. “It’s been centuries since I’ve been trim.” They both laughed.
Big E looked around and took in the grandeur of Santa’s living room. Massive beams and sturdy wood decking towered over rough-sawn walls and a dark-pegged hardwood floor. A huge couch and two overstuffed armchairs formed a semi-circle facing the massive stone fireplace. Christmas decorations adorned the tables and walls, and a sturdy Christmas tree somehow supported an extensive display of ornaments.
"Oh, wow,” Big E said. “This is some place you’ve got here.”
Santa nodded. “It suits Mama Claus and me quite well. Say, let’s go out to the kitchen and I’ll introduce you to her.”
As they headed across the room, Big E asked, “I noticed the temperature around your castle is quite mild, but the snow doesn’t melt. Why is that?”
Santa stroked his chin. “For now, let’s just say that it’s one of the many magical properties of the North Pole. I’ll explain it all to you later, but you’ll be happy to know that anyone living at the North Pole never gets any older.”
Big E smiled but did not reply. Oh, man, this is going to be even better than I thought.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of BIG E and the SANTA MAN. Like any good writer, I tried to work in as many things as possible to hook the readers. There’s our two iconic title characters, an evil villain and his bad-elf henchman, hints about all the magical properties of the North Pole, and mention of the four musically-inclined elves who will pair up with Big E to play some serious rock & roll.
Of course, the whole idea is total fantasy, but it sure makes for a fun story. I say this every year: BIG E and the SANTA MAN is the perfect Christmas present for Elvis fans. Please click here to go to the Amazon page, then email the link to your sweetie with this in the subject box: I want this book for Christmas.
Or. if you live in the U.S. and want a signed copy, and you have a PayPal account, send an email to email@example.com. Tell me what inscription you want on your book, and I’ll take care of the rest.
I would like to end by paraphrasing the message on the above magazine cover.
Who is this Big E guy?
And will he be under your Christmas tree?
Phil Arnold, Original Elvisblogmeister
Even if you are just reading ElvisBlog for the first time, I’m sure you recognized them as Santa Claus and Elvis Presley. However, if you’ve been a reader for the past two years, then you know them as Santa Man and Big E, the characters in my rock & roll Christmas fantasy.
Why do they have different names? In my story, Big E is how Elvis introduced himself to Santa when he first arrived at the North Pole. Santa Man is simply a playful nickname that Big E gave Santa once they became good friends.
OK, so what is the strange-looking thing they are flying around in? Again, first-time visitors to this blog might say: “Looks like a gold Caddy convertible with runners instead of wheels and some kind of red propulsion flame coming out the back. Long-time blog readers know this is Big E’s jet sled. It was specially made for him by Santa’s elves, and it plays a significant part in their teaming up to save Christmas in my book BIG E and the SANTA MAN.
This sorry-looking drawing was the jet sled image on the first printing two years ago. I traced the lines of a 1959 Cadillac and drew the runners. I was trying to keep the costs down because graphic artists are expensive. I did have to pay for her to add flames and sky background and to cut and paste Santa and Big E into the jet sled.
I knew it was pretty amateurish, so I put it on the back cover. I spent the real money getting the designer to make a professional-looking front cover. Then, last year, I saw this picture.
I was like “Wow,” that’s the kind of runners I want on Big E’s jet sled. More to the point, they would be the kind of sharp, stylish accessories Elvis would want on a prized vehicle. I had made a little money on book sales, so I forked out some of it to have the designer put them on my so-so drawing.
The shiny metal runners look so much better, and the red flames were an improvement, so this image went on the back cover last year. Still, I wasn’t really happy with it. Then I found this picture on the internet:
I sent the picture to the graphic artist an asked, “Can you change it to gold, and replace the wheels with runners, and put Santa and Big E in it?” She said, “Sure, but it will take some time and cost you some real money.” I swallowed hard and said, “Yes, do it, but be gentle with your bill.” What she produced was outstanding, so it was time for a new cover.
The title font is the same as on the first printing, and two weeks ago I explained about the change in the tag line.
Coming up with a book cover is a learning experience. Several folks suggested that because there are two title characters, they should both be on the cover. This was not the case on the first printing, and I could see their point.
Some observers said the first cover was too busy, too much stuff. I could see that, too. But, another thing surprised me. Half of the folks I asked had no idea what the building was. This was in spite of the presence of Santa in the title, the North Pole nearby, and the word Claus over the front door. One non-Elvis fan even asked, “Is it Graceland?" Give me a break.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, the tag line in the red ornament didn’t give any clue what the story was about. So, once I had the new jet sled picture, it was time for a complete front cover redesign. I’m really happy with it.
And you will be happy, too, if you get a copy of this book. It is available on Amazon.com. Click here to go to the book’s page where you can get it for $7.99 or the Kindle eBook for $2.99.
There is also one thing I failed to mention in the first two Christmas season promotional pitches. Although I wrote the book to appeal to Elvis fans, it can be enjoyed by adolescent or young adult readers. The story is squeaky clean. I want to get Graceland to buy my book and make it into a one hour animated Christmas special, which would be watched by all ages. Plus my chances with Graceland will be enhanced if Big E is portrayed as straight-arrow kind of guy. We all know he used some saucy language in real life, but not in my story.
The phenomenon of Elvis’ continued popularity is because new generations of fans keep coming along. Where do they get this inclination from? Mostly their parents or even their grandparents.
So, if you have a young family member who doesn’t know about Elvis like you do, give them my nifty Christmas fantasy. Once they’ve read BIG E and the SANTA MAN, they will like this Big E guy, and you’ll have an opening to tell them all about Elvis.
But don’t forget to get a copy for yourself or copies to give to others. The record for books purchased by one person to give to others is eleven. Like I’ve said before, this is the perfect Christmas present for all Elvis fans. So, how about clicking on this Amazon link and getting a copy?
Yes, that could be quite a dream… Elvis goes up to the North Pole, and Santa welcomes him to live in the castle with him and Mama Claus and the elves. But there could be more to this fantasy.
Suppose there’s a diabolical villain hovering above the North Pole in a space station, intent on ruining Christmas.
What if he has invented a device that would enable him to do just that? And when he puts his plot into action on Christmas Eve, he forces Santa to dump all the presents over the side of the sleigh. If that wasn’t bad enough, Santa’s sleigh crashes during the frantic attempt to land back at the North Pole.
At this point, the dream is more like a nightmare about Christmas being ruined.
But, that’s where Elvis jumps into action. Big E, as he is now known to the North Pole family, emerges as a dynamic, resourceful foe for the villain. Do you remember how young Elvis was enamored with Captain Marvell Jr, and fantasized about doing all that kind of hero stuff? Now as an adult, he gets his chance, and he is up for the challenge. Not even Captain Marvell Jr got to save Christmas. But Elvis does in my book…
Don’t get the idea that Santa is just along for the ride while the confrontations play out. Rest assured that Santa comes through with a few clever tricks up his sleeve, too. He may be jolly old fellow, but he has inner strength to draw on when needed.
Yes, teamwork between Santa and Big E is the key to saving Christmas. This story follows the best traditions of what are known as buddie movies. Elvis never made a buddie movie, so this is as close as you’re ever going to get. You will just love Santa and Elvis teaming up to save Christmas. You just will -- if you buy this book.
You will notice this cover design is different than the one I posted the last two years during the book’s promotion on ElvisBlog. Gone is the subtitle:
I really liked this at first because it was such an accurate description of the story. In fact, if Amazon.com had a genre called Rock & Roll Christmas Fantasy, my book would be the biggest seller. Because there has never been another book billing itself as that.
But gradually I began to think a better subtitle would help potential readers understand what the two title characters do in the book. What I needed was a short, concise line, so nothing could be better than:
There is also a big change in the image on the cover of BIG E and the SANTA MAN. I will talk about this in the next promotional post here on ElvisBlog. Between now and Christmas, I will be discussing my book several times. But I’ll keep the regular posts coming as well.
For now, let me give you a quick pitch. You regularly read my blog and like it. If you read my book, you will like it, too. Most important, you like Elvis, and this is a nifty story about him doing brave heroic deeds to save Christmas. Dozens of Elvis fans have read this book and said great things about it in emails and reviews. I am confident you will feel the same way.
The price is just $7.99 on Amazon.com. Get the book for yourself or have somebody give it to you as a present.
So, why not click here now and order BIG E and the SANTA MAN on Amazon.com? Or, you can get the eBook for your Kindle at just $2.99. A bargain, either way.
Thank you, thankyouverymuch.
The past two Auctions at Graceland have been loaded with Elvis rings. The one on January 7 (during the celebration of Elvis’ birthday) had five rings, and the one on March 4 (during the opening celebration for Elvis Presley’s Memphis) had six. And one ring at first appeared to have been sold at both auctions, but a closer look revealed they are examples of Elvis purchasing multiples of the same or similar rings from his favorite jeweler, Lowell Hays. First, here are the rings sold in January.
In the last two two auctions I’ve followed this year, eleven rings owned by Elvis have come up for sale. We will probably never know exactly how many he had over the years, but with this post, ElvisBlog will have covered over sixty-five in the Elvis’ Fabulous Rings series.
The first eight rings here were offered at the Julien’s Rock Icons Auction in May 2016.
In the first five parts of this series, ElvisBlog has featured over 50 rings Elvis owned. He sure did love rings, didn’t he? The January 7, 2016 Auction at Graceland had a few more, so let’s take a look.
The previous four articles in this series required a lot of legwork. I would find one or two rings at different auctions or websites, and over time would have enough to fill a post. This time, I’m lucky. The recently completed Auction at Graceland had eight fabulous Elvis rings, and six beat the estimates.
I don’t know how many rings Elvis owned in his lifetime, but ElvisBlog has reported on 33 of them so far in the first three parts of this series. Here are nine more.
Horse Head/Horseshoe Ring;
Diamond Cluster Ring:
In March 2011, ElvisBlog presented a pictorial essay showing thirteen Elvis-owned rings that had sold at auction in the previous five years. A few more Elvis’ rings have changed hands in auctions since then, but various websites have provided photos of other rings he owned, most including significant historical or price information. So, let’s take a look at ten more of Elvis’ fabulous rings.
Diamond and Opal Ring:
The next time you look at concert photos of Elvis in his jumpsuits, check out his fingers. You will note that he usually has three or four rings on each hand. Elvis must have really loved rings, but he was also very generous with them and gave many away. Because of that, quite a few have ultimately ended up at rock and roll memorabilia auctions. During the past three years alone, thirteen Elvis rings have been offered at ten different auctions.
Diamond Owl Ring: