Sunday, March 30, 2014


Greetings, fellow Castaways.

This week, I want to open with an announcement:

Beginning now, I'm offering merchandise for sale. I'll be setting the page up shortly. I'm starting with this:

This is a 4" round sticker on standard paper, suitable for attaching to whatever turns you on, and is available for $2.00 each. email me at and I'll tell you how to order yours.

Oh, and I want to let you all know it was printed through my friends at Streamline Design:

I'm contemplating the tee shirt idea, but I'm going to have to see a significant demand before I invest in inventory. For now, we'll keep the stickers available. If anyone has other ideas, I'm open to suggestions.

This week is also a quick reminder that my third novel Critical Mass is coming out in paperback this year. I don't have a release date yet, but as soon as I know anything, I will pass that on to you. As before, all my books are available in all electronic formats as well. Click on any of the buy links on the My Books page to find out more. (If you're reading my blog, and haven't read any of my books yet, I'd like to ask why not? I think you'll like them ;-) )

I'm still at work on my latest Work In Progress, and my plan is for it to go to a different publisher. Here's why: I'm perfectly happy with my current publisher, MuseItUp Publishing, headed by the industry's most indestructible powerhouse Lea Schizas. All my NADIA Project books will be submitted to MuseItUp, and I'm proud to do so. But I'm following Lea's own advice about putting all my eggs in one basket, and for my current WIP, I'm going to market it back around some other houses.

So it's going to be back to the Round Robin of submissions and rejections, with one major exception: This time, I have several previous publishing credits, including an industry-sanctioned award. I guess in some ways, I'm not looking forward to the mill, but I have the previous experience to draw on, and the tough skin I've developed to get me through it again.

We'll just see how things go. I want to get done with Tempus Fugitive and have it ready for submission by the end of the year.

Feel free to nag me.

I'll see you all next week.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Giveaway, and cool stuff!

Greetings, fellow castaways. My apologies for missing last week's post; life got in the way, as life is wont to do. Most of the time, I get in my weekly howdies, but last Saturday....

Anyway, I have some cool stuff to give away, some announcements as well.

I have one Adult-Large Tee Shirt (designed by graphic artist Shannon Kenyon)to give to one lucky winner. If ya wanna win, ya gotta do this: Read carefully, and follow my exact instructions, or you can't be entered in the contest.
Leave a comment on my blog. Not on Facebook. Not on Twitter. Right here. Down at the bottom of this page, where it says, "comment." I promise, you will not get spammed through Blogger or by my page. Your comment will not appear right away. This is so I can moderate  each one.
In that comment, leave me your name and an email address where you can be contacted. If you don't let me know how to get hold of you, you can't win.
A winner will be chosen at random from the comments left on this blog on Saturday the 29th of March, 2014. I will contact that person and make arrangements for getting their prize sent.
One other person will win a second prize: One pdf copy of their choice from among my published books
Up to four other people will win a four-inch round "Jenna Lives" sticker, handy for personalizing anything you want. (I tried uploading a jpeg, but Blogger doesn't like the file for some reason)

Which leads to my next announcement:

Soon, you'll be able to order NADIA Project merchandise! I'm doing a test run with stickers, and if there's enough interest in shirts, we'll be getting more. But an investment like that needs to be justified. Let me know if you're interested, okay?

Which leads to my next announcement (I'm just full of good news this week!):

My publisher, MuseItUp Publishing, has confirmed that Critical Mass, the third installment of my award-winning series of thrillers The NADIA Project, will be coming to paperback soon! I don't have an official release date yet, but as soon as I now, I will be passing it on to all of you.

To celebrate the announcement,  I'm including here a free excerpt from Critical Mass:

At Gate 47 on the A concourse, he waited another ten minutes. A wheelchair approached him bearing a bundle of loose clothing in a wide-brimmed, veiled hat. The woman, face obscured by the veil, croaked, “Jonathan, it’s been so long. Give your grandma a hug.”

A chill slithered up Jon’s spine. He scanned the area. No one in the crowd around them noticed, or paid any attention whatsoever. As he bent down, her voice changed. It was Jenna, but she sounded strained, tight. She whispered into his ear, “Get me the hell out of here, and if you aren’t straight with me, I’ll make you suffer before I kill you.”

He whispered back, “Gee Grandma, you have such a way with words.” Grabbing the handles of the wheelchair, he pushed it toward the main parking area. On the way out, he mumbled, “Long time no see. I suppose I should ask how you’ve been, but I honestly couldn’t care less.”

“Thanks for your concern,” she said. Her voice was so weak Jon had to lean down just to hear. “We’ll take your car. I assume you’re still FBI?”

As he pushed her along, he scanned the crowd. No one paid any undue attention to them or changed direction as they passed. We’re not being followed. What’s wrong with this picture? “Actually, no. I transferred to Air Force OSI after our little party at Twin Oaks. It gives me even more super powers. So what have you been up to, Jenna? Conquer any countries lately? Maybe torture a puppy or two?”

“God, Jon, you are such an ass. Now I suppose you’re going to try to arrest me again?”

“That depends on you. Let’s just talk and see what happens from there.”

At his car, Jon unlocked the doors and waited on the driver’s side for Jenna to get out of the chair and climb in. She just sat in the chair in her disguise until he lost patience and came back around. He flipped the hat from her head. “Okay, you can dump the old lady act—” He took in her disheveled hair, the bruises and stitches on her head, her pale skin, and a hot wave of shock washed over him, mixed with shame. He tried to think of something appropriate to say, but all that come out was a gasp, followed by, “You look like hell.”

“Way to compliment a lady, Agent Daniels.” Her face twisted in a grimace. Her trembling hands clutched at the chair’s armrests. “I need a little help getting up.”

Jon opened the passenger door and helped her in, and then got in and started the engine. “Do you need a hospital?”

“No.” She grunted, settling into the seat. “But if you could line me up with some painkillers and a place to lay low for a couple of days, I’ll be a happier girl.”

“Would you at least tell me what happened to you?”

“Bad day at work. Just get me out of here, will you? No hospitals. Can’t be seen in public.” Her voice was getting weaker; she was slurring her words. Sweat beaded on her forehead. Jon swerved out into traffic, and she moaned with the sudden movement. “You’ve a doctor workin’ with you. Take me there.”

“Okay, but I’ll have to blindfold you.”

“Don’ worry,” she slurred, “I’ll prolly be unconjus in few minuz. Zis seat lay back?”

Jon stole a glance at her as he swung onto an entrance ramp. Her face looked like school paste and her jaw hung open. She was breathing, for now, but the last time he saw someone that pale, they didn’t live much longer. Dammit, girl, don’t you die on me. He put his magnetic rotator light on the car’s roof and goosed the accelerator. As soon as he hit a clear stretch on the interstate, he called Donna Hermsen. “Boss Lady? We have a problem.”

“What is it now? Are you followed?”

He double-checked his mirrors. “Doesn’t seem to be an issue. Donna, I’ve got Jenna Paine—”

“And who’s got who tied up this time?”

“Ha, ha. No, seriously. She’s hurt, bad. I think she just passed out.”

“What did you do to her?”

“I didn’t do anything, she came in like this.”

Donna’s voice was tight with tension. “Make sure it’s not a trick.”

“Oh, it’s no trick. She looks like hell.”

“Well, what’s wrong? Have you checked her out?”

“Hang on.” He pulled over. “Okay, what do I do?”

“Weren’t you a boy scout?”

“It’s been a long time, Donna. You’re a doctor—”

“A physiologist, not an MD. Hang on, Beth is here.”

Jon clipped his Bluetooth to his ear as he ran around the front of the car and opened the passenger door.

Beth’s voice sounded in his earpiece. “Okay, what’s she look like?”

He felt her head. “Fishbelly white, her face is clammy. She’s got fresh stitches on the side of her head and bruises all over the place.”

“Check her pupils—make sure they dilate evenly.”

Jenna didn’t even twitch when he thumbed her eyelids up. “They look the same size. They react to light.”

“There has to be something else going on. Is she bleeding anywhere else?”

“Hell, I don’t know, she’s dressed up in a huge grandma sweater—” He saw the stain on his car seat and cursed. “Beth, she’s bleeding. Hang on—” He lifted the sweater and saw the dressing on her torso. “She’s got a huge bandage on her waist, and it’s soaked through with blood.”

“Fresh, or clotted?”

“It’s soaking with fresh blood.”

“Dark or bright red?”

“It’s bright red.”

“How much is flowing?”

“It’s just seeping right now.”

“It’s an active bleed, but it’s not an artery. Okay, don’t peel it away, but tell me what color is the skin around the edges of the dressing?”

“There’s some bruising, but not too bad.”

“Is the area hard and swollen?”

When he reached out to feel her side, Jenna grabbed his wrist. She looked straight into his eyes. “Wha’ th’hell you doin’?”

“I’m seeing if you’ll survive a four-hour drive.”

“If I don’, I prolly d’serve it. Le’s go.”

Beth said, “Okay, she’s conscious. Listen—put more padding on top of that dressing. Do you have any way to secure it, to put pressure on it? Don’t take it off for anything. Donna, Hushi, and I are going to take off right now. We’ll meet you at the Virginia state line, at the welcome center on the southbound side. Meantime, I want you to push liquids, as much as she can keep down. OJ and clear soda, half-and-half. That’ll keep her blood sugar up, and give us a little more time. Now haul out, and we’ll meet you.”
Jon hung up and took off his shirt. He packed it on top of the blood-soaked dressing and secured it with his belt before pulling Jenna’s sweater back down over it. Then he jumped back in and pulled out onto the expressway.

Thanks for your time and attention this week. Enter my giveaway, and good luck!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Antimatter: What's the scoop?

I was a science major in school. My father fed that fascination with all things scientific, from my obsession with dinosaurs to my total failure in chemistry class. Hey, I said I was a science major; I didn't say I was all that and a bag of chips. But when I was four, I remember watching Fantasia on the big screen, sitting on my dad's lap, and naming every single dinosaur depicted in the segment Rite of Spring.

I also remember a speech in High School English class about the function and operation of a Breeder Reactor, and the sea of blank, confused stares that told me not another student had any idea what I just got done telling them. I had been so immersed in reading my dad's science books, I simply assumed that other kids just as smart as me had access to the same knowledge.

One of my beta readers put me in the same place when he who told me, "Don't assume we know what you're talking about. Put the cookies on the bottom shelf." I took that to heart when I was in the process of polishing and fixing my first novel Becoming NADIA. I had to run a fine line between explaining my science and boring the hell out of my readers.

So this week, I'm going to spend some time covering the science behind antimatter, featured in my series as the "weapon behind the weapon." This is the stuff I weeded out of the novel so it wouldn't get bogged down in the details and start sounding like a textbook written by an amateur.

So without further ado:

The modern concept of antimatter was conceived by French Physicist Paul Dirac back in 1928. His main philosophy was that an equation should "look beautiful" as well as function properly. Which, to this mathematics failure, seems odd. But as the language of most theoretical sciences is mathematics, I guess that's pretty deep. Anyway, he conceived this idea that all matter had an opposite material image, or "anti-matter."

His theory was proven years later when someone using a monstrous device called a Super Collider actually confirmed its existence. It seems that antimatter is created as a by-product of a fission high-energy particle collision. In other words, if you take a substance and stick it to a target in a giant circle miles wide, and you slam it with a stream of sub-atomic particles accelerated by a magnetic field, some of the stuff that gets knocked loose actually changes it's electrical charge and becomes its opposite. It takes a helluva lot of energy to make antimatter, and if you don't catch it pretty damned quick, some nasty stuff happens.

Now, matter and antimatter are so the opposite of each other, that if they ever meet, they totally destroy each other. It's a process called annihilation, and when that happens, everything is converted to energy. A MASSIVE amount of energy. How much, you ask? Let's look at another great mind of the 20th Century, Albert Einstein.

Most people are familiar with the equation E=mc2. Almost nobody knows what it really means. What Einstein theorized was this: The amount of energy existing in a matter is equal to the mass of that matter times the speed of  light, squared. The faster you slam something, the more of its energy gets released. In fact, the matter actually converts into energy. This was illustrated in graphic detail at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII.

Now, let me be clear: Those were NOT antimatter reactions. But it showed what matter-to-energy conversion could do. And here's the awesome part. Only a fraction of a fraction of the matter in those bombs was converted to energy. Out of the 64 Kg (about 140 pounds) of Uranium used in the Hiroshima bomb, most of the U-235 never even underwent the atom-splitting process called fission. Actually, estimates made it at about 600 milligrams (a little more than a pound). Out of that amount, only one half of one milligram (.0005 grams) was converted into energy. So the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and killed 60,000 people was only .0007% efficient.
In an antimatter reaction, 100% of the matter and 100% of the antimatter are converted, and all of their energy is released in the form of gamma radiation and high-speed neutrinos. In other words, there would be nothing left of either, and anything around the reaction would suffer severe damage as a result. Let's look at what would have happened had 100% of the Little Boy bomb had converted: The bomb as it was released the same energy as 13,000 tons of TNT. If that 64 kg was antimatter, the result would have been 2,749.44 Million tons of TNT. Probably enough to blow Japan in half. I found a neat little calculator at Go ahead, have fun.
I used antimatter in my book because that was how my original dream went, and I now I bent a few "rules" making it work for my story. I had a nuclear physicist argue with me that there was no way I could collect 48 grams of antimatter for Nadia's skeleton to hold, and he's probably right. But in my world, someone found a way to make it happen. That is where the "willing suspension of unbelief" comes into the equation.
Hopefully, no one ever finds a way to make an honest-to-God antimatter weapon. If you thought nuclear power was a Pandora's box, we ain't seen nothin' yet.
Nadia, you're one of a kind. And we can hope to God that's true.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Heroes: Who Needs 'Em?

We all are familiar with heroes from our childhood. They were bigger than life, perfect in every way. I grew up with Matt Dillon, Batman, and Superman. Heroes had weak spots, but never in their characters. They were perfect examples of... well, heroes.

We used to cringe behind the couch when Lex Luthor hauled out that random sampling of Kryptonite and threw it in  Superman's face, and the Man of Steel would collapse in a quivering, helpless heap and become just another guy in Spandex with his tighties on the outside. Embarrassing.
Psst- hey, Stupid! You're supposed to get all weak, not eat the stuff!
There, that's better. Dude, you gotta stay consistent with these things.
Now, as I was saying, we all looked u to Superman and those other heroes because, as heroes, they were pretty much impervious to character flaws. I mean, you never saw Clark Kent or Superman step over the line with Lois Lane. We all hoped Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty were involved, but we never saw so much as a smooch. Or if there was, I missed that episode.
I mean, just look at that. Hands appropriately arrayed in a family-friendly way, the strong set in the jaw, Mr. Boy Scout all over.
Then the '70's hit, and Hollywood not only gave us heroes who were human, they gave us heroes who were bad guys. In short, they told us there were no heroes anymore. In Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, the characters are all about stealing a huge amount of money.
Another one was The Doberman Gang.
These movies are either bringing back memories, or bringing up lunch. Seriously, though, they're prime examples of the pendulum swinging the other way. I think it reached its opposite extreme sometime before 1980.
Then we started seeing heroes kind of come back, only sporting the scars of the '70's. The pendulum seemed to kind of center with films like Spacehunter, Molly Ringwald's debut in the trade
Okay, I can hear you now: "Where in the world does he come up with these oddball, obscure movies? Hey, I claim no normal upbringing. Most of you already know me if you've been following my latest interviews and blog posts, and there wasn't a whole lot of normal in my life. But it is what it is.
Anyway, back on task. Our heroes were heroes again, but they had flaws. They drank too much, or they were slobs, or they had a weakness for the opposite gender. In other words, they were human.
Which, I believe, was a good move. Because (Those taking notes, put a star here) I believe there are two types of heroes: Those who are born, and those who are made.
The first type is the one who naturally runs toward the screaming, the gunfire, the chaos. My youngest is like that. When all hell breaks loose, he is on the scene, whether he knows what to do or not. Prime example time.
When the kids were toddlers, my younger daughter got hold of a sharp knife from the table. I was doing dishes and it was waiting to be washed (What? You other men don't wash dishes once in a while? For shame!) Anyway, I turn around and there she is, holding this knife.
Now, as a dad, I need to not only get the knife from her, but I need her to understand why Daddy doesn't want her to wave a carving knife all over the kitchen. So I get it from her, and take her hand, just to show her the tip of the knife is sharp, when in comes a two-year-old blonde streak, and puts himself between me and my daughter. Seems he thought I was going to stab her. Holy cats. Lesson over. He's wrapped himself around her, screaming hysterically, and he has no idea why. He still does that. The best thing I can do for him is to teach him first aid and CPR. He's a natural born hero. I might as well teach him what to do once he gets there, than have him get in everyone's way.
Then there's the other hero. The one who's forged in the furnace of hardship. They're just normal folks, to whom running from the trouble is simply not an option. They're the mom who's kid is under the car. They are the teenaged boy whose neighbor in class is taken with a Grand Mal seizure. They are the young man or woman fresh from boot camp, in a far away land whose unit walks into an ambush.
In many cases, heroes are just people who are forced by circumstance to do heroic things because it's the only option that makes sense. You see it again and again on the news.
Which means heroes are regular folk. I look into the character of each of my heroes, and see how human they are. Jon treats NADIA like a piece of garbage for a while because he feels like his memories of Alicia are violated. Later on he falls into temptation with someone else. Not because he's an inherent ass. It's because he's a human male, and heroes who can overcome themselves as well as the bad guys, are the best heroes.

And God knows, we need more heroes today.
But those are just my own thoughts on the subject. What kind of heroes are your favorites, and why?