You Go, Cavegirl!

As my new novel, Megaflood, climbs sales charts at Amazon and other major booksellers, I’d like to take time to thank the person most responsible for the book’s meteoric success: its heroine, Denawe.

She’s the young woman, not yet sixteen years old, who faces one challenge after another, from abduction to battling a fierce sabertooth cat to fleeing in the company of her love, Temokin, from fierce warriors bent on their destruction. Then comes the ultimate threat of all, an apocalyptic flood that swept half the State of Washington during the Ice Ages 14,000 years ago!

The image above evokes the beauty of a girl who embarks on an adventure far beyond what the average female of our times–or any times–might expect to experience. No, the bronze bust wasn’t cast to commemorate my story. It’s a statue of Sacagawea, the legendary guide of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805. But Denawe would have looked much like her. Both women were natives of the Pacific Northwest, separated by only 14,000 years, a geological twinkling of an eye.

And the two heroines have much more in common. Both were abducted from their tribes and marched far away to be slaves and someone’s personal property in villages far from home. Sacagawea was horse traded to the fur trader Toussaint Charbonneau and became his wife. Denawe, too, is subject of a bidding war, with mammoth ivory, the hide of a colossal short-faced bear, and an amulet carved from a sabertooth tiger fang as part of the bride price.

But these two women, Sacagawea and Denawe, were much more than mere objects of barter. They stood on their own and made their way boldly in the world. History tells us how Sacagawea guided the Lewis and Clark party over the snow-clad Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. My story tells how Denawe joined together with her young warrior love to lead the Mammoth People on a path to salvation in the face of an annihilating flood.

Here’s the rest of that statue, a state monument in Sacagawea’s homeland near Salmon Idaho. Here, the two heroines diverge a little. Sacagawea carried her infant son with her on her journey, while Denawe was as yet unmarried. But never fear–matters of that nature can change in a hurry. So, does Denawe become a wife and mother in the course of my book? Read it, and find out!

Megaflood is available at all major booksellers’ websites in ebook and paperback versions. Click this link to go to a page where the different sellers are listed. If you’ve already got your copy, please remember to review it on Amazon or other booksellers’s pages. Those reviews are deeply appreciated by us authors, and can help encourage the booksellers’ crunching computers to try and sell more books. Thanks!

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Megaflood Unleashed

Megaflood is here! The ebook and paperback versions of my new natural disaster thriller are being released today. You can find them at all major outlets, from Amazon to Apple Books, to Barnes and Noble, and more. If you took advantage of the discounted presale opportunity, your ebook account already has a copy waiting. If not, it’s easy to grab one using the link above.

You’ll find something to love about this book whether you’re a fan of mystery, action adventure, science fiction, or romance. Want a story set in a far-off, exotic time and place? How about Ice Age Washington State, a frozen world quite unlike present-day environs. Want to meet a young pair who fall in love in the midst of an apocalyptic catastrophe? Then follow Temokin and Denawe, two young tribe members whose love grows with each danger they face. Want rip-roaring adventure? Try facing down a snarling sabertooth tiger or a rampaging bull mammoth with these young heroes.

All this is drawn up against a background of meticulously researched science. As you read, you’ll learn the latest knowledge about Ice Age North America, its landscape, wildlife, and the hardy people who met and overcame innumerable challenges to survive in a harsh world—until the day they faced the greatest threat of all, the Megaflood. This novel envisions the awesome power of a flood so huge it carried as much water as one of the Great Lakes, all unleashed in a single day!

Follow this LINK to a page where you’ll find the ebook and paperback listed at all the major booksellers.

Thanks. I hope you enjoy my story!

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The Sabertooth Amulet—Key to a Timeless Mystery

This amulet, discovered on a body in a bog in my new novel Megaflood, is a central clue to happenings 14,000 years ago. Not only is it a priceless artifact and focus of present-day conflict between tribes and museum researchers, but it’s also a clue to an ancient murder mystery and a symbol of timeless love that lasts beyond the ages.

Megaflood is a genre-busting combination of mystery, action, adventure, and paranormal romance, all of which revolve around this mystical charm, a sabertooth tiger carved on its own fang. The Sabertooth Amulet was actually my working title as I researched and wrote this story. Extensive research on ancient Native Americans, shamanism, and Ice Age floods was one reason why the book was three years in the making. Whew!

As I said, the sabertooth amulet symbolizes, among other things, the love of two young people for one another. Megaflood—like most of my novels—is about a marriage. That’s right, even though giant threatening animals and hostile warriors often take center stage, no less important is the love that grows between Temokin and Denawe, an equally matched male-female pair of heroes. Together, they confront huge beasts and the treachery of a jealous chieftain, not to mention an apocalyptic Ice Age flood. Through it all, the charm symbolizes their bond growing stronger with each crisis. Kind of like a good marriage, right?

Most of my novels and short stories feature romantic pairs sharing equally in the heroics. So, whether your preferences run to strong male leads or strong female leads or both, your wish is fulfilled. Here’s a list:

This LINK will guide you to information about these books and stories, if any of them strike your fancy.

Meanwhile, Megaflood is available for pre-order and will be released on May 1, 2022. So, if a mystery/romance/action/adventure story suits your reading preferences, why not click over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books or other outlets and reserve your copy today? At $3.99, it’s $1 off the list price. You won’t be charged until the book ships, and you’ll be among the first to get it. Furthermore, by pre-ordering, you’ll help me make the day-of-release book sales more impressive to Amazon’s computers, which in turn will cause them to show the book to more potential customers. Thanks for your help, and I hope you enjoy the story!

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MEGAFLOOD – First Look at the Cover

I got my first physical copy of Megaflood today. There’s nothing like the thrill of holding the product of so much hard work in hand. The cover is a thing of beauty and, like the story itself, required much background research and detailed crafting. Historical accuracy (prehistorical?) is key in a novel that is as much about a time and place as it is about people and events. Everything had to be scientifically verifiable, and I must say, few art projects have ever consumed so much of my time and effort.

Every part of the cover addresses an aspect of life in those times. Glaciers flowing down from the Okanogan Highlands of Eastern Washington are no mere fancy. They represent the massive ice inundation that, in the Ice Age 14,000 years ago, blocked the flow of the mighty Columbia River and diverted it east and south to carve out the stupendous gorges of Grand Coulee. Vertical cliffs of layered volcanic rocks remain there to this day. They figure dramatically in the story as inhabitants desperately seek safety above floods a thousand times greater than anything seen in modern times.

Zeroing in on the center of the cover, the mammoth-hide tipis of Two Falls Village face certain destruction by an oncoming wall of water. The deluge will sweep away everything—and everyone—unless a hero can lead the people to safety.

Animals shared the fate of humans. Even titanic Columbian mammoths, the largest elephants of all, stood no chance against a wall of water many times their height. Other great animals would perish was well, from colossal short-faced bears, to giant ground sloths, to cave lions, to sabertooth cats. The last of these is represented on the cover by its likeness carved on its own fang, an amulet charm worn by the young hero Temokin and dedicated to his love, Denawe, who helped him overcome the snarling beast to which the fang originally belonged.

I’ll write more about the amulet, and the people and places touched on here, in my next post. Meanwhile let your mind soar over this dramatic scene, like Thunder Eagle at the top of the cover. What an awesome spectacle must have played out below him! Many villagers believed it was Thunder Eagle himself who set loose the deluge to clear evil, sinning people from the land. Only those of the greatest virtue would survive this ultimate test of nature.

Megaflood is available for pre-order and will be released on May 1, 2022. So, if a mystery/romance/action/adventure story suits your reading preferences, why not click over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books or other outlets and reserve your copy today? At $3.99, it’s $1 off the list price. You won’t be charged until the book ships, and you’ll be among the first to get it. Furthermore, by pre-ordering, you’ll help me make the day-of-release book sales more impressive to Amazon’s computers, which in turn will cause them to show the book to more potential customers. Thanks for your help, and I hope you enjoy the story!

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A 14,000-Year-Old Murder Mystery

Talk about an exotic setting for a mystery! The desert cliff shown here was once a waterfall three hundred times the size of Niagara that roared with the entire volume of the mile-wide Columbia River. This rampart is just one of two great circular cataracts that existed in Eastern Washington during the Ice Age. Part of the second can be seen to the right.

People who lived here must have been in awe of its thunderous roar. Native Americans of a long-forgotten tribe had only recently crossed from Siberia into North America. And where there are people, can murder lurk far behind?

My latest novel, Megaflood, is set against this 14,000-year-old backdrop. And as if that weren’t dramatic enough, the Ice Age animals that lived alongside the people were equally stupendous. Giant pachyderms came in three sizes: huge (the Wooly Mammoth), colossal (the Mastodon), and titanic (the Columbian Mammoth), the last of which made an elephant look like a pup. And that’s not to mention the Giant Ground Sloth and the Short-Faced Bear, which were elephant-sized as well. Let’s see, did I leave out anybody? Oh. Yeah. How about ravenous Cave Lions and Sabertooth Cats? Me-YOW!

But there’s even more to this setting. As if fierce animals and a mile-wide waterfall weren’t enough, the beleaguered natives sometimes faced threats of almost unimaginable proportions: the Missoula Floods.

As the map shows, the great polar ice sheet extended clear across Canada to this region. Vast meltwaters were dammed up by glaciers plugging whole river valleys. From time to time, the ice dams broke, releasing volumes of water rivaling one of the Great Lakes. These megafloods sometimes submerged the entire landscape from horizon to horizon, with the falls shown above becoming nothing more than indentations in the surface of the flow.

It was my task as author to bring all this astonishing science and history into focus while telling the tale of two young people, outcasts in this foreboding landscape due to their forbidden love. Fleeing a wrathful chieftain, they plunged straight into even greater danger.

This is one of my most ambitious books to date, weaving an intricate path from modern archeologists exhuming a body from a cranberry bog in Chinook, Washington, to an ancient saga where heroic characters move through a world of sweeping beauty and face perilous threats, all in true-to-life detail.

Megaflood is available for pre-order and will be released on May 1, 2022. So, if a mystery/romance/action/adventure story suits your reading preferences, why not click over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books or other outlets and reserve your copy today? At $3.99, it’s $1 off the list price. You won’t be charged until the book ships, and you’ll be among the first to get it. Furthermore, by pre-ordering, you’ll help me make the day-of-release book sales more impressive to Amazon’s computers, which in turn will cause them to show the book to more potential customers. Thanks for your help, and I hope you enjoy the story!

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Roly-Poly Dinosaurs

Here’s a fun one: a roly-poly armored dinosaur. As far as I know, no one has ever published a picture of this creature in this rolled-up pose—until now. If you don’t believe me, google “ankylosaur images” and see if you can find one like it. If you do, I’d be glad to hear about it.

I was researching ankylosaurs for a science fiction story (more about that below) and the deeper I dug into the scientific literature, the more I realized the world’s paleontological experts had missed this concept entirely. In over a century of portraying ankylosaurs, no one has ever published an image of the animals rolled up like this. Yet I am convinced this trick came naturally to them, curling up for defense against Tyrannosaurus rex and other king-sized threats.

Modern day armored creatures do it. Armadillos, hedgehogs, pangolins, and even lowly pill bugs do it when threatened by predators. So why not the ultimate in armored creatures, the ankylosaurs?

The maneuver has an interesting name: volvation. It’s based on the Latin word volvere, to roll, and the concept that the animal rolls itself up into a ball. Some, like pill bugs or the Brazilian three-banded armadillo can roll up so tightly they offer nothing to predators except solid armored surfaces. I wondered if ankylosaurs could do the same, so I made these sketches to attempt to understand the possibilities.

As you can see, I found a way to arrange all the component parts of an ankylosaur into a pretty solid structure, especially in this second sketch, where the animal is locked down so tightly there are only armored surfaces to be seen. Click on the images for a closer look.

At this point I was pretty-well convinced ankylosaurs could carry off this maneuver if it was needed. But I wanted to dig deeper. I borrowed a skeletal diagram from a scientific publication and rearranged the bones from their normal walking pose to the rolled up one below. And everything fit.

So then, how was I to get word out about my idea?

I chose to gather all these images into one publication and offer a bonus to go with them: a short science fiction story I call “The Ankylosaur Adventure,” with a roly-poly ankylosaur starring on the cover along with some unfortunate humans. I followed the story with a discussion of the science that guided my creation of the artwork shown here. Finally, I added a bibliography of research articles that gave me insights into these intriguing creatures and their neat defensive trick—volvation!

P.S. The images are necessarily compressed in Kindle, Apple, and other ebook formats, lowering their resolution. They’re good at that size, but for higher quality images, I suggest the Smashwords pdf version, or contact me for even higher resolution images. I might even be compelled to present a guest blog or a live video conference on the subject.

P.P.S. A heads up on a separate subject: I plan to release another of my Northwest Tales novels in April. It features an Ice Age megaflood in Washington State, among the largest natural disasters the earth has ever seen! Stay tuned for more info.

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The Way to a Dinosaur’s Heart

Jurassic Park's ducky Parasaurolophus

Is through his stomach, right?

Well, that may apply to T rex, but what about all those plant eaters? In my Dinosaur Wars books I always explore new possibilities for dinosaurian looks, behaviors, and… attitudes. For example, in the first two books, I introduced this odd looking creature, Parasaurolophus. It’s usually portrayed as a ‘harmless’ plant eater, but really? Was it so harmless?

Every year, hippos kill more people in Africa than lions. But they’re plant eaters, right? Yeah, they just happen to be big, foul tempered, and very bite-y plant eaters, that’s all.

Now, the Jurassic Park movies have chosen to present Paras as docile prey species, amenable to being roped and tied by pesky humans. Not so, Dinosaur Wars.

Roping Para

I decided to dish up a big helping of bad-boy (and girl) for the Paras I portrayed in Dinosaur Wars 1 and 2. These beasties were described as kick-boxing ultimate warriors when it came to defending their babies–or any humans they had befriended–against all comers, including hungry T rexes.

But if you should develop a problem with a T rex, how do you get a Para to lend a helping hand, or hoof? Easy! Do what Kit Daniels did when a pair of Paras decided to build a nest on her father’s ranch and raise a brood of babies–she fed them! By throwing down some bales of hay from the barn, she not only earned the big animal’s trust, but their loyalty too. So when Kit and her boyfriend Chase Armstrong were cornered by a Rex, their Parasaurolophian buddies came to the rescue, pummeling the meateater with their hooved forefeet and bashing it with their hind legs, like gigantic kick-boxing kangaroos.

So Kit had made the best choice. Rather than trying to chase away her huge new neighbors, she made friends. And very big friends indeed. Friends like that come in handy when you’re living in the heart of Dinosaur Country.

Human to Para conversion table
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Smashwords discounts my e-books in July

Just so’s you’ll know, Smashwords, one of my two book publishers, is having a month-long sale this July—that would be right now! Some titles are free, like my ever-popular novel Rainier Erupts! and my personal favorite short story, “A Dangerous Breed.” Other titles are half-off, so check them out on my Smashwords Author Page.

Even if you routinely use only Kindle, iBooks, or Nook, you can grab versions on Smashwords that are compatible with those devices, so don’t be afraid. Save that fear for gripping action tales like The Great Seattle Earthquake and The Smallpox Incident, which are participating in the festivities at 50% off.

Smashwords is the class act of independent publishing, so if you’ve never stopped by, now might be the time. One word of caution: check that the “filtering” pulldown on the righthand side of the menu bar is set to “exclude erotica” because Smashwords is pretty easy on authors of, shall we say, “naughty” storytelling? But with the filter on (it usually is) you won’t even see them. Ta Dah! You’ll still see bodice-ripping and pect-rippling romance titles, if that’s your thing, but nothing more tawdry than that.

But I digress, given none of my books are in either category. On the other hand, if you want red-hot-action-adventures, medical thrillers, or laser-blasting science fiction stories, then you’ll want to take a fresh look at my titles while many are on sale.And that about covers it. Happy reading!

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Eek! I dreamed up deadly mutant viruses long before COVID-19

Just as you get nice and immunized with COVID-19 vaccine, along comes a new terror—the viral variant! Deadlier strains of COVID are cropping up with alarming frequency. Such mutational shifts allow the new viruses to circumvent the immunity you acquired with your hard-won vaccination. So, are we doomed?

If it’s any consolation, this “variant” phenomenon is nothing new. Virologists have studied it for decades. Variants were first described among the influenza viruses of the great pandemic of 1918, in which they played a role in drawing out the pestilence for several years. And they’ve cropped up in every epidemic since. So even the frightfully named “Eek!” variant of COVID is not an entirely new concept.

But as we watch with dismay, this and other variants are arising around the globe with increasing frequency. So, it’s a cold comfort to know that they’re nothing new under the sun. Somehow, even the knowledge that humanity survived not just each new pandemic, but all the variant strains that piled onto previous plagues, is not entirely satisfying. Not when the virus threatens you and yours on a daily basis. Histories and statistics of mankind’s recovery from previous epidemics can’t help you shake the fear that, well, you might not be counted among the living when all is said and done.

So what’s this got to do with my fiction? Well, quite a bit, really. I anticipated this phenomenon in both of my epidemic novels, The Smallpox Incident and The Neah Virus. In each story, I laid out realistic scenarios based on my career-long studies of viruses and vaccines. My intent both times was to dramatize the social upheavals and desperate responses of medical and government agencies trying to avert catastrophe. Unsurprisingly to me, many events I portrayed have come true in the present emergency.

I also addressed the dire question, “Did this virus arise out of nature, or is it an escaped laboratory monster?” Without giving away too much let me just say, in one book the answer is “yes” and in the other the answer is even more unnerving. But one nice thing about fiction is that such questions can be examined carefully, and then answered clearly. No lingering doubts remain in the last pages of The Smallpox Incident or The Neah Virus. Don’t you wish life could imitate art in present circumstances?

Might I suggest you grab a copy on one or both of these now classic books, so you can read and reflect on the notion that nothing happening today is so terribly unheard of by scientists like me, who study viruses and vaccines? An added bonus is that my stories have relatively happy endings given the dire circumstances—and that’s the sort of outcome we all hope for in these trying times.

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The Great Shakeout–Will Seattle’s Tsunami Chimes Ring?

I’ve a mind to drive downtown on Thursday October 15 at 10:15 AM and roll down my car window. I’d like to hear the sound of the tsunami chimes ringing out. Wouldn’t you?

Seattle, and the whole nation for that matter, is preparing for the “Great Shakeout” earthquake drill scheduled then. I’m registered to participate as an individual who’s ready to get “all shook up,” along with many Seattleites in all walks of life and diverse places of school, work, or what-have-you.

This year, I’ve picked out tsunami preparedness as my special area of concern. This comes in response to things I learned while researching my novel, The Great Seattle Earthquake, published last year. You see, when I looked into the idea of a major quake striking right underfoot on the Seattle Fault, I learned that, in addition to the trauma and loss of life that would come from such a natural disaster, the threat of a devastating tsunami has been pretty well established by recent scientific studies. So, that leaves me wondering, are Seattle’s emergency planners covering this possibility adequately, or at all?

My research left me, well, just a little worried that the answer is “kind of.” As I wrote a year ago, I found the tsunami preparedness plan for our two waterfront stadiums definitely less-than-adequate. Here’s a link to that older article. This year, I’ve been wandering around the internet trying to glean any news about an improved stadium plan, but so far I’ve found nothing at all. That’s a step up, in my opinion, because the old plan told people to calmly exit the stadiums, which might mean tens of thousands of people walking straight into an oncoming tidal wave. So, the good news is, I didn’t find any of that old misinformation in the present plans. I guess maybe my blog did some good, somehow. On the other hand, what I found was–nothing at all.

But I did find an old Seattle Post Intelligencer article from 2005 describing the installation of the waterfront warning system shown above. According to that article, this is what you’ll hear in an emergency:

“The first thing will be a tone that’s an attention getter so people will listen,” Steve Marten, project manager said. “We’ve chosen the Westminster chimes.”

“That will be followed by an actual voice that will give a specific message so that we can direct people to do what they need to do to get out of harm’s way.”

Hopefully, 15 years later, this system is still in operation and ready to deliver the message, “Run like hell for high ground!” But I haven’t found much information about it other than the old article. Let’s hope it’s currently in place and in the hands of people who are ready to deliver the life-saving message.

As I portrayed vividly in my novel, folks in the stadium area will have only a few minutes to make up their minds whether they’ll flee to safety–or die.

So, yeah. I think I’ll drive downtown Thursday morning and find out how well the system is working.

Update October 16, 2020: I did like I said and went down to the waterfront and listened as 10:15 came and went without a sound. I stood there on Ivar’s Pier 54, staring at the Fireboat Leschi, which figures so prominently in The Great Seattle Earthquake, moored next door at Fire Station Number Five. I noticed that the alarm speakers shown above had been removed. But I can’t help but wonder. In the event of a quake on the Seattle Fault, those loudspeakers would be lifesavers. So, where did they go?

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