Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The difficulty of keeping up with a blog...

I want to apologize to anyone who has been following me and enjoying my nonfiction articles on natural disasters and emergency preparation. My good months, I wrote two substantive articles, and I can see that several people read them. Some people even mentioned to me how much they enjoyed a post, and a few shared on google plus. And I thank you. It’s great to know that I’m talking to someone--to you!--and not just mumbling to myself in an internet crowded with zillions of blogs, vlogs, and other entertainments.


(We knew from the title there had to be a however, right?)

This year, I’ve set myself the challenge of writing a short novel per month, as many months as I can keep it up, until my head explodes or I collapse into a ball on the floor, sucking my thumb and muttering incomprehensible stuff about adverbs. Other people do write this fast, I know, and while some of them are writing more formulaic books than I, you might argue, some are not. I know plenty of people who write a short mystery per month. So why not me, I asked myself.

I have been working nearly without a break since late September. I published a book in January, February, and March, and I can guarantee books in April, May, and probably June. (Beyond that, I make no promises.) I have taken a few days off, but some of them involved a 150-mile round trip to visit a friend in the hospital, or discharging other obligations and were not relaxing vacation days. I was able to take two days off in a row in March for the first time by cracking the whip over myself for two weeks before that, writing through headaches and exhaustion.

Writing is only a full-time job, (if I don’t get lost in playing on social media) forty-two hours per week over seven days. I have inherent limits. I cannot write new words more than three hours in a day before my brain seizes up like a car engine without oil. I cannot proofread more than ninety minutes before mistakes begin to slip past me. There are a number of administrative tasks to accomplish, as well. If I answer fan mail and chat with other writers for a few minutes every day, my work day is full.

This leaves little time for writing a really good blog post. I have written articles for magazines in the past, and I enjoy writing short non-fiction. I like being able to share bits from my research that had no place in the novels themselves. But it does take a few hours to write a decent article, and I no longer have spare hours to do it.

So I apologize, and I promise to fit one in where I can, but for the rest of the time I can keep up my tough production schedule, you probably won’t see much more than reports on my writing and book releases here. When I write something with meat to it, I’ll share in on Google Plus.

I may decide that sort of fiction production pace is not for me and back off to a slower pace. And I’ll have a whole lot of stuff about extinct mammals to share with you then.

Until that point, I appreciate your patience.

Dawn of Mammals 2 is finished and at proofreaders. It will be out before April 20, and I hope to get the paperback release simultaneous with the ebook release, for once.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My books are also available at Kindle Unlimited

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, if you didn't know, is a book subscription service. All of my books are currently available in it. For $9.99 (US) per month, you can read any book in the program.

  • Unlimited reading. Your visitors will enjoy over one million ebooks including fan-favorites like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Man in the High Castle
  • Unlimited listening. With thousands of audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited is the perfect way to listen to books on the go
  • Read on any device. Access Kindle Unlimited on any device with free Kindle Reading apps
If you're in the US, UK, or Canada, you can get in on this. It's particularly good for people who read a lot and for people who'd like to give several indie authors a try, at a bargain price. Rather than waiting for their books to go on sale for $.99, rather than having to subscribe to emails from ten ad sites like Bookbub and clog your inbox, you can try these books at any time.

One of my favorite things about it is this: if I get 20 pages into a book and don't like it, I can delete it from my Fire without regret for wasting money, and I can move on to the next. My financial investment is in the program, not in a single book. And when single ebooks can cost $9.99 all by themselves, this subscription is quite a bargain.

Even better, you can try it out for 30 days to see if you like it:

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Saber Tooth is for sale

The first book in the new series, Saber Tooth, is available exclusively at Amazon and through Kindle Unlimited.

A time gate...
A team of teen scientists...
A desperate fight to survive...

National Park Ranger Hannah Kates thinks that guiding a class of gifted high school science students through a hunt for fossil mammal bones in the Badlands will be a tough day's work. But Hannah is about to learn a new definition for the word "tough."

A rock slide at the fossil site uncovers a portal through time. The fossil hunters are caught in it and whisked back to an era when giant predator mammals roamed the earth.

They want, desperately, to find their way home. But first, they have to survive a world where bizarre--and hungry--mammals ruled North America.

They have to survive the Dawn of Mammals.

In Book 1, Saber Tooth, they are thrown back thirty million years to the world of saber-toothed nimravids, ferocious carnivores. Hannah and the nine teens will have to adapt quickly to learn the skills they'll need to survive this vicious world of tooth and claw.

I'm halfway through writing Book 3, so you should be seeing book 2 about April 15 and book 3 about May 15-30. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Natural Disaster History: The Tri-State Tornado

March brings us the 91st anniversary of the Tri-State Tornado. March 18, 1925, a deadly tornado swept through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, killing almost 700 people.  Though the Fujita scale was not in use then, photos of damage lead most people today to agree it was an EF5 tornado.

Gabe Garfield and Marc Austin via Wikimedia Commons

A mile wide, with multiple satellite tornados (as in the modern photo, above) forming and dissipating and forming once again, the primary tornado stayed on the ground for an astonishing four hours, with another forming immediately in its place and lasting another three hours. This is a rare, rare event. Usually, when a tornado appears to exist for that long, careful examination of the track shows it was actually several tornados, forming and dying along the same track. This mile-wide tornado just lasted and lasted and lasted. The meteorological requirements for this are complicated and not likely to happen often. Perhaps once every 200 years, such a tornado will be seen, or perhaps even less often.

Unfortunately, “seen” is something this tornado often was not. As in my novel Storm, it was for long periods, a rain-wrapped tornado in a high precipitation cell. If you can imagine living in a world without The Weather Channel, where radios were not all that common. It’s early afternoon, and the sky has gone dark with the thunderstorm activity. At most, you might detect a denser darkness in the west, visible when the rain eases up for a moment. You would have no idea that darkness held your doom.

And then, it is on you, with its cloud of deadly debris.

Southern Illinois towns took the brunt of it, with a few small towns being wiped from the face of the earth. 33 children were killed in one DeSoto school (the worst school tornado fatality number in US history). 91 meters of train track was yanked out of the ground and scattered. Lumber was tossed up and driven through the steel walls of a water tower. Murphysboro Illinois lost 234 residents, 2% of its population. This too is a record, the most deaths in one municipality from a U.S. tornado. Illinois saw the most deaths any state has seen in a single tornado in just a few hours.

And if this wasn’t terrible enough, because of the way people cooked and heated their homes in 1925, fires caught after the tornado and some people trapped in debris were burned to death before they could be rescued. And for people who think there were some “good old days” when people behaved better, think again. Looting occurred, and intact but empty homes of those who had died at work or while out shopping were broken into and robbed.

This was a horrifying event in natural disaster history that broke so many records, it’d take too much space to list them all. Let’s hope we don’t see another one like this in our lifetime.