When schools closed in March, and students suddenly engaging in remote learning, I decided to read my novel, ALIENATED: GROUNDED AT GROOM LAKE, on YouTube, chapter-by-chapter. A type of “virtual class reader.” It’s a fun, funny middle-grade story, perfect for fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson. Star Wars, and Men In Black.
All of the chapters are now archived below.
If you want to read along with me, the book is available in paperback and e-book:
In the US, from Amazon.
In Germany, via RandomHouse.
In the UK via Amazon (UK), Waterstones (UK), or from your local bookshop via Hive.
Many teachers have been in touch, using the videos as a virtual class reader. Please reach out via the comments if you have questions about the book.
While we all stayed home to everyone safe, it didn’t stop us from looking to the stars.
Love from “Area 51.”
On the first anniversary of his mother’s death, Sherman Capote tries to honor her unfulfilled space-faring dreams by launching her ashes in a rocket that he built… but nothing goes to plan.
Chapter 1: Arrival
Sherman and his twin sister Jessica arrive at their new home, Groom Lake, Nevada, and register for school, only to be warned by the strange Principal to stay away from the school bully, Graz.
Chapter 2: Bully Allergies
When Sherman and Jess report to the school nurse’s office for their vaccinations, and Sherman meets a mysterious student who is hidden behind a curtain called Octo.
Chapter 3: Breakfast Club
Sherman and Jess enter the school cafeteria and realize they are surrounded by aliens!
Chapter 4: Close Encounters
The warnings are real…Graz is bad business and he takes an instant disliking to Sherman.
Chapter 5: Better Late Than NED
But worse than Graz, the conceited NED turns up and threatens to put Sherman and Jess in their place (in the garbage), that is, until Sonya, a pink-hued lizard, stands up for them.
Chapter 6: Saved By A Tentacle
Facing a certain drop into the bin of alien food waste, something strange saves Jess, Sherman and Sonya from their humiliating fall…a twenty-tentacled cephalopod (a “ventitent”) called…Octo!
Chapter 7: Drama King
As the school bell rings, Sherman discovers the one thing worse than being bullied by aliens…attending drama class with them. But Jessica is in her element. As their teacher recites Shakespeare, something strange (and blue) starts to materialize on the stage.
What, or who, could it be?
Chapter 8: Volunteerism
In drama class, when Sherman accidentally volunteers to play Romeo in the school play, Jessica is furious and Sherman is mortified.
Chapter 9: Homework Bound
After the disaster of drama class, how could Sherman’s day get any worse? But in Planetary Geology class, Sherman gets himself, Sonya, Octo and a moody robot kid called Houston into trouble and assigned extra homework. But why is NED so keen to join the assignment?
Chapter 11: That Lunchtime Feeling
At lunchtime, Sherman faces his toughest test yet…where to sit in the cafeteria.
Chapter 11: Pizza Night
Sherman compares notes on the first day at Area 51 with his newly demoted dad.
Chapter 12: Holy Flying Easter Egg
Sherman finds Sonya in the rocket scrapyard, and discovers that her spaceship is an egg.
Chapter 13: Houston We Have Lift Off
Sonya teaches Sherman how to fly her Eggcraft.
Chapter 14: Close Encounters of the Magma Kind
At the volcano, NED bathes himself in the river of lava. What gives?
Chapter 15: Outrunning The Air Force
Sherman tries to outrun the U.S. Air Force in the Grand Canyon, and there’s only one pilot who can inspire him to do it… Will Smith from Independence Day!
Chapter 16: NEDaggeddon
Houston shows the gang what happened to his home world, and what’s about to happen to Earth if the NEDs get their way.
Chapter 17: Pastry High
After Home Economics class, Sherman comes up with a fool-proof plan to save the world.
Chapter 18: Field of Pains
Facing certain death on the football field, a giant scorpion makes Sherman an offer he can’t refuse.
Chapter 19: If You Build It
When Sherman joins the gang in the hangar to start building the rocket racer, Houston reveals the sad source of the disguise he’s brought.
Chapter 20: School Days And Rocket Nights
Sherman finds his groove in Drama class and discovers that Sonya and Houston are becoming close.
Chapter 21: Meet The Octos
Sherman is invited over to Octo’s for dinner where he gets unsolicited dating advice from his folks.
Chapter 22: The War Of The Worlds
Sherman loiters outside of drama class trying to work up the courage to ask Juliet out on a date, but little Klaatu has an agenda of his own: Prom!
Chapter 23 (Part 1): Stranded At The Drive-In
Sherman finally starts his date with Juliet at the base’s drive-in movie theater, but he has forgotten one mission-critical component of their date…the popcorn!
Chapter 23 (Part 2): Stranded At The Drive In
Sherman goes to the concession stand in search of popcorn, but nothing goes to plan.
Chapter 24: Test Drive
Sherman and his friends finish building the rocket racer and take it for a spin. But is Sherman ready to fly?
Chapter 25: The Balcony Scene
After Sherman completes his first trial of the rocket racer, he realizes he’s got to explain the Drive-In debacle to Juliet. But when he goes to her parked spaceship, he gets the shock of a lifetime.
Chapter 26: Mentor Interruptus
We last saw Sherman climbing up the tripod leg of Juliet’s spaceship to apologize for the Drive-In debacle, only to come face to face with his mom. But how is that possible?
Chapter 27: Second Chance At A Second Chance
When Sherman tries to warn his dad about the impending invasion, he gets sent to his room…where he receives an alien visitor.
Chapter 28: The Vortex Of The Friend Zone
As Sherman prepares for his one shot to qualify for the Rocket Races, Octo has a sure-fire way for him to win…but is it too good to be true?
Chapter 29: Trial By Rocket
Sherman competes in the qualifying round of the Rocket Races…but does he have the right stuff?
Chapter 30: Dressing The Part
Sherman Capote has won a place to qualify in the upcoming Rocket Races and he’s feeling great about his role in Romeo & Juliet. But can he muster the courage to ask Juliet to the Prom?
Chapter 31: Places Please
Sherman has his big stage debut as Romeo. He and Juliet bring down the house, but someone makes an unexpected appearance that upstages them both.
Chapter 32: Star Crossed
Sherman is rightfully worried about the state of his relationship with Juliet, but Houston offers him some encouraging advice, as gleamed from anthropological documentaries like Grease, Teen Wolf, Footloose, and High School Musical. What could possibly go wrong?
Chapter 33 Part 1: Race For Your Life
Finally, the race is on…
Chapter 33 (Part 2): Race For Your Life
During the Race Finals, Graz fried Sherman’s ship and now he has to make a split-second decision about how to restart the rocket. But could it have fatal consequences?
Chapter 34: Unmasked
Sherman has won the race, but when his friends pull the Aldrin suit off of him his secret identity is revealed…and everything goes wrong.
Chapter 35: Groom Lake Redemption
Sherman is now in the base’s prison, facing an uncertain future when his Dad turns up with a comforting gift, some unexpected advice, and maybe a ventitentical way out of jail.
Chapter 36: Escape From Planet Earth
As Sherman wormholes out of prison, he gets ready to blast off into space. But he needs to find Jessica first.
Chapter 37: Invading The NED World
Sherman and his friends arrive at the NED home world, but where is everyone?
Chapter 38: Pairing Crashers
Sherman and the gang interrupt the Pairing ceremony, but with potentially fatal consequences for Sonya and her sisters.
Chapter 39 – Part 1: Escape Plan
Sherman and the gang must escape an angry swarm of NEDs. Easier said than done.
Chapter 39 – Part 2: Coming May 13th, 2020
Sherman calls his Dad to enroll him in a daring plan, but Octo is worried about interplanetary roaming charges.
Chapter 40: Sacrifice
Sherman outruns the NEDs as his father makes the wormhole plan work, but at what cost?
Chapter 41: NED or Alive
Sherman must decide whether to let the NED planet be destroyed. No pressure then!
Chapter 42: Coming May 18th, 2020
Sherman and his friends find themselves in NED’s firing line.
Chapter 43: Hero’s Welcome
As Sherman returns to Earth, the army surrounds him. Is he a wanted fugitive or a world-saving hero?
Our story concludes…
Thank you for watching these videos and for reading along with me!