Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Deadly Fields of Autumn

This month Wings released Dorothy Bodoin's twenty-fifth cozy mystery book in the Foxglove Mystery series. What an accomplishment, Dorothy! Congratulations!

I haven't read all twenty-five of these stories, but quite a few, and can attest that they are well written and suspenseful stories. The first book got me hooked on the characters Jennet Greenway, and Deputy Sheriff Crane Ferguson, who from the very first time he stopped her for speeding, showed an incredible attraction to each other. Another aspect I love about Dorothy's books is the Michigan setting, probably because I live in Michigan, but what Dorothy writes about the beauty and weather of this state is accurate.

Now I realize how much catching up I to do. I bought the Kindle edition of this story. Jennet and Crane are married now, but Jennet remains an independent woman, who teaches high school, loves collies, has unusual metaphysical encounters, and of course, finds irresistible mysteries. Surprise! She has seven collies now. She also has a female deputy sheriff stalking Crane, and at a yard sale finds an older rescue collie for sale  along with a haunted antique TV. Good start. 

Books by Rhobin

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Kilauea’s Eruption Echoes of Pompeii

The past two weeks I happened to be vacationing on Oahu and Maui and while no VOG or ash or tremors reached those islands, I was able to watch the volcanic activity develop on the local news. On May 3rd the local stations showed a few cracks crossing roads on the island of Hawaii, primarily in the Leilani Estates subdivision. This was just an item of interest, nothing really. The cracks were only about an inch wide. Besides only the pavement split; land masses seemed intact. Tremors were frequent, but mild.

By May 4th steam was rising from the fissures. The widths were increasing to several inches and new fissures were sprouting up all over the Leillani Estates area. By the morning of May 5th Lava was spouting out of the cracks and piling up on the roads several feet high. More new fissures occurred. Before we left on the 12th over 30 fissures erupting lava and clouds of sulfur dioxide had formed. Twenty-six homes were destroyed and lava was covering over 100 acres.
The scary part is yet to come. There is a large volcanic caldera on Hawaii filling with molten lava. It may retain the lava or overflow and let it run into the sea. However, a third option is that as the caldera fills it will also push lava down into the bedrock. If lava reaches rock saturated with water, an explosion like a small atomic bomb will occur, sending rocks weighing 12 tons and the size of trucks across the island.

I have often wondered how Romans and Sicilians continuously rebuilt homes on Etna and Vesuvius. A resident of Leilani Estates was being interviewed and said, “I just never thought it would really happen in our lifetime.” I laughed or maybe was caught aghast and agape. Kilauea’s last major eruption was only 300 years ago, a grain of sand in geologic time. Not only that, but Kilauea has been active since 1983. Mauna Loa, another volcano, had a major eruption in 1984. Then the resident went on, “I don’t think anyone of us thought this could happen.” Suddenly some sense of understanding struck me. This is just part of our basic human nature: to put off and ignore potential dire consequences. Its why we smoke, don’t see doctors, build in flood plains, or muddy hillsides and live on tropical islands ravaged by hurricanes over and over again. The earth can be a scary place. Perhaps being able to displace consequences is a way to quell fear and get a good night’s sleep. Why else would we have evolved with this trait?

On that note, I have included a link to my personal blog “Post Cards From the Past” that featured the translation of Pliny the Younger’s description of Vesuvius erupting from the writings of Tacitus. Its very short but very moving and I think you might find it relevant to the events on Hawaii.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Reax -- New Story Coming in June

Wings is publishing my book Home World Reax this June.

I enjoy placing characters in new worlds of the future. In this story, Reax is a world whose initial colonist wanted to improve the human genome through selective breeding alone. Soon specific genomes chose names based on their lore from their initial home, Earth. These 'houses' chose the names of animals based on their history of Earth and what characteristics those animals showed. Maera is from Falcon House, the home of keen investigators and peace constables. The very fact Reax has a house specializing in police work tells you much about Reax's success in breeding better people, but in any world times and goals always change

Maera is a young woman abused by her caretaker throughout childhood. She is smart enough to plan her escape.

Here is an excerpt from Maera's escape on the way home from "Engagement," an initiation Reaxan elites use, sending 'tyros' to foreign places for a year to earn their place in their house. Maera is making sure her best and only friend makes it home from Engagement, too.
Nothing seemed worse to Maera, as a halfbreed, than returning to Reax, not when freedom came within her grasp. No one from the Falcon or Swan Houses expected either of them to return, nor did the Genome Council’s Engagement Committee. They had purposely sent Sareen to this location, anticipating her failure. Well, not exactly this location, but one more hostile than this place, and me to one far more dangerous.Sareen would return, and they would accept her back, look closer at her genome, and perhaps scratch their collective heads. Luckily, she would not return. Her cavalier rearrangement of assignments would never come to the council’s knowledge. Her situation of being ‘unseen’ and marginalized ended. Now she began a life dedicated
to achieving her own goals.

Sareen’s Engagement dislocation they would attribute to a mix-up in assignments, and who but the swaggering Wolf House’s Vulk, one of the councilor’s sons originally assigned an easy location on Ubret, should serve Sareen’s much harsher assignment? The young man most likely had survived his Engagement, so his merit would certainly increase. Maera grinned at the thought. That young man had bragged about his easy placement location. It made a lie of the committee’s claims of fair assignments based on assessments.

Which made her own return too dangerous an act of defiance. She wondered if her house had specifically asked for a terminating assignment. Did hateful Uslina have influence there? Had the Genome Council cleansed the houses of unwanted genomes throughout the ages through this ploy? She believed it. House tyros who refused placement went to the gen’rals, condemning their children to life outside any house.

It no longer mattered. She could not afford to go back, not after all her illegal snooping and modification in protected databanks, nor did she want to return. She wanted escape. Freedom. Her homecoming would have sparked an investigation, and even one tiny thread unraveling could entangle her in a mass of trouble. Her failure to return would please many. They would call it proof she did not deserve house recognition.

If Falcon House had unintentionally taught her anything, it taught her survival. And self-reliance, she amended. Truth to tell, her house accepted neither her genome half nor her wild, unknown half. From her aunt’s harshness, she had learned how to avoid and escape bad situations, how to help herself, how to prevent others from discovering she helped herself, and most important, how to keep secrets… and how to discern them.

Learning the Genome Council orchestrated who passed Engagement only confirmed her suspicions. It did not matter anyway. She did not care about the members’ secrets, except how they might have affected her and Sareen. That she achieved—safe return for her friend, self-determination for herself.

She heard Sareen approach and stop next to her. Maera turned her face toward the far off horizon, giving Sareen time to recover from the last segment of their walk. Finally, she lowered her gaze to Sareen. Her friend’s gaze looked downward, encompassing the port, her tired satisfaction in her
achievement apparent. Maera could not hide the self-satisfied smile she felt cover her face.

“I’m not joking, Sare. I’m not going back. That life is for you and the other genome pures.”

“You should not use that gen’rals slur, especially as we go home,” Sareen said in a very soft, non-confrontational voice of warning. “You don’t know who you could offend.”

Maera shrugged. A few unmentionable gen’rals had helped her survive. She started brushing the dust off her pant legs. Thoughts of past hurts and future dreams wrapped in a tumbling jumble of anticipation she could taste. “Anyhow, even if I did return, they’d probably only find cause to send me to the gen’rals. You know they would. I wouldn’t even mind that, not the supposed shame, or nothing else.” She looked at Sareen, “Except I have other plans.” Her voice throbbed with an excitement hard to hide.

Sareen’s distressed gaze made contact everywhere except Maera’s eyes, showing her evasive agreement with the prognosis. Maera raised a hand over her eyes to look at the view below them. The port spread in a vast meadow of architecture, machinery, and paved confusion, the only place on Ubret where technology reigned. People going places and doing things filled the area.

Maera wanted to run, jump, and leap her way there. She side-glanced at Sareen, read the stubborn look, and then looked at the spaceport again. “It’s just, Sare. Really it is. I want this. You want to go
back. That’s just, too.”

“I’ll go with you. We can’t waste a miracle.”

Sareen’s words, barely above a whisper, interrupted Maera’s speeding anticipation. She spoke without thought. “No miracle, Sare.” Then she realized her admission. Sareen still believed their meeting a sheer accident.

Nine years after Maera's escape, Reax has suffered a civil war and a devastating plague that has decimated the population. The colony is in a dire situation, and Raven Jencet, formerly of Eagle house and now of Raven House, is sent out to bring this successful soldier and financier home, but he considers her a renegade traitor.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Writing Historical Fiction? Research is essential.

I find one of the most enjoyable things about writing a historical novel is doing the research needed
to recreate the setting. My novel, Belerion Odyssey, is a fictional adventure of pirates that raid and trade their way from Greece to England circa 480 BCE. The storyline touches on several actual historical events as well as Greek Myths for inspiration. Above all things the ancient Greeks were seafaring traders and pirates. To facilitate their success in trade they established the first coin based monetary system. To write the tale an understanding of commerce and trade was a vital component.

I am sure we have all heard reference to a talent of silver. The talent was foundation of their currency. It was equal to about 57 pounds (26 kg) of silver. That is about $15,000 in today’s market ($16.41/Oz). How did they decide on 57 pounds? They shipped olive oil and wine in somewhat standardized ceramic jugs called amphora. An amphora filled will water held 39 liters and weighed about 57 pounds (26 kg). This became a talent of silver and standard unit of measure throughout the Greek world. Amphora and water were readily available in any port to create a weight that could be placed on a balance.  

The talent was further broken down in 60 minae and 1 minae equaled 100 drachma. The drachma is another unit you may have heard of before. These coins were adopted by the Romans and used for thousands of years. The drachma was further broken down to 6 oboloi. These smaller units were more like our dollars: for example; an oboloi could buy a loaf of bread, new sandals would cost about 10 drachma, a slave cost 200-300 drachma. One of the major values of the talent was that one talent was cost of operating a Greek war vessel for one month. The ships were rowed by paid labor, not slaves. The navy could not afford to purchase slaves for this purpose.  

My advice to anyone considering writing a historical novel is to be sure you enjoy doing the research and become fascinated with some of the details. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Review of Arcadia’s Children: Samantha’s Revenge

Arcadia’s Children:Samantha’s Revenge

by Andrew R. Williams is a fascinating sci-fi novel filled with adventure and action. Written in the third person perspective, the book alternates between various characters.

The story takes place on a planet named Arcadia and a moon called Arden. Arcadia is an Earth type planet so it is capable of supporting life. However, colonization on Arcadia is restricted because dangerous pathogens could transfer from Arcadia to other planets. Only archaeological teams and paleontologists are allowed to travel to the planet, but the native people of Arcadia, known as the Ab, are not allowed to travel outside of the planet.

In Arden, a sudden noise in Ord Morley’s house causes him to get up from his bed and go downstairs. As he searches around his house, he finds the cause of the noise. The intruder is a protection droid named Alex who makes Morley connect to a recreational thought transfer cartridge(RTTP) which captures the thoughts or experiences of someone and allows someone else to view them. In this case, the RTTP has the experiences of Mick Tarmy, a detective corporal, who was ensnared in a plot to destroy the Great Ones. The Great Ones and the spettri are mind readers who are searching for a way to leave Arcadia and take over Arden. When Tarmy is blackmailed to join Samantha, a humanoid, in her quest to destroy the Great Ones, he learns a shocking secret that forces him to rethink his actions. With no choice but to do Samantha’s bidding, he risks his life as he travels to the restricted planet known as Arcadia.

The author does a great job building the suspense and there were some surprising twists to the plot. There were many subplots that were integrated into the main storyline which made it complex, but interesting. The story starts off in the present and flashes back to all the events recorded in the RTTP. There were multiple characters in the novel, and all of them played an integral role in the plot. The author vividly described each of the characters and how each of their choices impacted the rest of the characters. Even though there were so many characters introduced in the book, I found it easy to keep up with the names and roles of each one. Mick Tarmy was one of the most realistic characters in the book. He had many faults and doubts, but he manages to overcome them.

Overall, I would rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars. I throughly enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to follow and the ending made me want to read the next book of the series. I would recommend this book to those who like to read sci-fi/fantasy books.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

After a very long hiatus on the Wings Author's Blog, several authors are thinking about ways to reboot this blog, and make it more interesting to fiction readers, hopefully starting in April. Look for a new look and new feature types of posts, plus a monthly drawing to get a free Wings book.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Confessions of an Aging Adulterer

By Laura Rittenhouse
238 Pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

On the surface, Vicky's a contented woman with grown children and a happy marriage. Below that surface, Vicky struggles with a dissatisfaction she can't quite put her finger on but the reason is all too obvious: she's having an affair with her boss. Her New Year's resolution is simple, figure out why she's behaving like a fool by writing an honest account of her actions and observations in a diary. As honest as she can be, anyway.