Sunday, February 18, 2018


(This is a reprint of an article I wrote three years ago.)

Arguably the most famous of volcanic eruptions was the Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia. In the last week of August, 134 years ago, the volcano entered its final phase of eruption, an event that had been building for six months. With a force much more powerful than any nuclear weapon ever detonated, its final eruption sent an ash plume 50 miles into the air and burst the eardrums of people 40 miles away. It was heard clearly in Australia, Manilla, and in islands just west of Madagascar, and the shock wave was recorded on barographs as it swept around the world seven times.

Over 36,000 people died. Pyroclastic flow killed islanders nearby, and a hot rain of ash and stone killed more people 30 miles off. The following tsunami resulted in most of the deaths, and some argue that it caused well over 50,000 deaths not included in the 36,000 figure.

For months afterwards, there were spectacular sunsets from the particulates in the air, as well as changes to weather that lasted five years.

If you had been hanging out on the planet Mars at the time, you would have seen the Earth get--and remain for years--considerably brighter as the particulates increased the albedo of the planet's atmosphere.

Westerners living in the area or sailing nearby took notes that reached newspapers on the other side of the globe quickly. It was the first natural disaster that was reported so quickly, and widely. We take this for granted today, but the technologies for communication were new then.

While not the biggest volcanic eruption in the past 1000 years, it happened when communication and science technologies had progressed to such a point that its importance to the science of volcanology could hardly be overstated. It also revealed to meteorologists new information about high-level winds.

In 2003, Simon Winchester wrote a terrific non-fiction book about it, well worth reading if you're as into natural disasters as I am. Also, you could mosey on over to youtube and look for uploaded TV specials on the topic

Sunday, February 11, 2018

My pen-name fantasy is out!

Emperor of Eyes, my first fantasy book, published under the name LC Bard, is out at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.


Thanks for giving it a chance. I think you'll like it.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A scam warning

Just a quick post this week to note something about myself.

I don't have a PayPal "donate" button, and I don't have a Go Fund Me, and I don't have a Patreon account. If you see one of those, or of any other such scheme pretending to be me, that would be a lie and a scam. Don't donate to it.

I'm old fashioned. (Also, simply old!) I think the way a writer gets paid is by writing books that people like enough to pay for, and earning some percentage of that as royalty. Any other form of payment makes me uncomfortable.

If you see any other authors that you'd like to support in those ways looking for money, always find their real website and see if they ask for donations there. Don't click via Facebook or anywhere else. Go directly to the source. Their website's URL is probably printed on their books and in the end-matter of their ebooks. If they don't have books out, they may never actually write one (loads of people "want to be a writer one day" but never get down to it). Look for writers who have proven they can write books you like to read, and support their careers.

And I believe the very best way to support writers' careers is not through Patreon but by buying their books. Already have the ebook and want to support them even more? Buy the audio or paperback or graphic novel version as well. It's pretty simple to do, and it's difficult to set up a scam for that, and it helps keep their book higher in the charts and so it might be found by a new reader more easily. To my mind, that's always a better choice than clicking "donate via PayPal."

Caveat emptor: buyer beware. And that goes double for giving away your money, even out of an urge toward kindness.

Back, next week, to your regularly scheduled blog.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I'm launching a pen name

Perhaps because I was burned out on writing novels that killed billions of people, or perhaps because I felt the real world was drifting far too close to Armageddon by the autumn of 2017, I took a break in November and wrote fantasy stories where billions do not die. I'll be publishing a book of that fiction under a pen name, L.C. Bard (ha! get it?) in a little over a week.

I have a website for it: I doubt I'll put much on that site any time soon, but I wanted to give you a head's-up that it will exist. I'm making no secret of the fact that L.C. is also me.

This upcoming book has a short novel, The Gift, a Novella, "Presence," and the title short story "The Emperor of Eyes." All are set in the same world and are about people with what we might call a psychic gift, the ability to read spirits. It has no other fantasy elements, no elves or kobolds or demons or singing swords or what-have-you, just that one magical ability. Set in a world of outdoor markets, sailing ships, horse-drawn carts, and craft guilds, it should be easy to read even if you don't typically read fantasy.

The two longer stories could become series, for I know and like the characters I created. But I'll only do that if it finds readers. Otherwise, I'm over halfway through Oil Apocalypse 4 and planning on continuing to write that series this year.

See you soon with more news! And thanks for reading my books.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Anniversary: Northridge Quake

The Northridge earthquake was 20 years ago this past week. I found a cool site I wanted to link for you.

It's the Earthquake County Alliance page on the quake. Click on that link, scroll down, and you'll see this map:

It's the basic USGS shake map for th event, with hardest shaking in red, significant shaking in yellow, and mild shaking in green. The numbers on there you can click on, and a video interview of a person who was at that spot will appear. A short interview will run--less than two minutes in most cases. They're terrific and give you the sense of the mindset of someone who experienced it.

All but one person was asleep; it was 4:30 a.m. I particularly liked the police officer admitting that though he knew what to do--had been trained to "drop, cover, and hold on," that in his panic he went running outside. One can hardly blame him!

Visit it and enjoy.