Did Jurassic World ‘borrow’ my ideas?

Leaping LizardAgreed. Jurassic World is a fabulous monster movie. “Where do they get their ideas?” you might ask. And so do I. While I would never deny the originality of the writers who put the script together, I can’t help but wonder if some of their story ideas came from reading my Dinosaur Wars books. Some of the parallels make it seem that way.

For instance, one iconic scene is when the marine reptile, Mosasaurus, leaps out of a Sea-Word style aqua-theater to snap up a great white shark, a pterodactyl carrying human cargo, and… well I won’t spoil things by saying what else. But the original Jurassic Park had no aquarium and no Mosasaur. So where did the writers get their idea?

Could it be they read the scene in my book Dinosaur Wars: Counterattack, published way back in 2002, where a salmon fishing boat is threatened by a mosasaur? Or the scene in my more recent Dinosaur Wars: Blood On The Moon, in which a Mosasaur chomps a big bite out of a surfer’s board?

Let’s review. Two Jurassic Park books and three movies with no Mosasaurs in the 1990s. Then, two Dinosaur Wars books in the 2000s with Mosasaurs. Then, Jurassic World with a Mosasaurus. I get the feeling someone has been reading over my shoulder.

And that’s not all. In the first Jurassic Park books and movies, there were exactly zero dinosaur tamers. You know, like Owen Grady, the raptor trainer in Jurassic World. Somewhere in between the Jurassic Park days of the 1990s and now, the idea of a man who can control predatory dinosaurs came along. Did it originate with Jurassic World? Nope. There is another hero who has power over the beasts, and that’s the hero of the Dinosaur Wars series, Chase Armstrong.

Sit! Stay!Chase and his girl, Kit Daniels have had a series of wild encounters with T rexes and Utahraptors in all four Dinosaur Wars books. And in books three and four, they actually begin to give the mighty T rex some “human avoidance” training. And they catch and radio-collar rexes as well. Chase is clearly a model for the dinosaur-taming Owen in Jurassic World. In fact, I think Owen even looks a lot like tall, dark, and handsome Chase Armstrong.

Now mind you, I’m not accusing anyone of stealing any ideas. But being influenced by my ideas, either by reading them or talking to someone who did? Ah, that is another question.

And finally, isn’t it a shame my books weren’t made into a movie instead of, or in addition to Jurassic World? As I have written before, I had a Hollywood option deal and there was a project in motion to make Dinosaur Wars into a major motion picture when the announcement of Jurassic World brought it to a halt.

Oh well. I keep on writing, smug in the knowledge that I have imagined many more scenes with dinosaurs and humans than Jurassic World even comes close to. You might want to check out my Dinosaur Wars books sometime soon–before another Jurassic World movie comes along to ‘borrow’ a few more of my ideas!

Posted in Author, Dinosaur Country, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dinosaur Tales — Published!

Dinosaur TalesTime to make it official. Dinosaur Tales, the latest book in my Dinosaur Wars series, is available on Amazon! Both the ebook and paperback are ready and waiting for eager readers. Other ebook formats will be coming soon to a bookseller near you.

Like the other books before it, this book portrays the huge creatures of the past in all their glory, while at the same time putting the cast of human characters through some fast-paced action. Time and again, you’ll find the hero and heroine, Chase Armstrong and Kit Daniels, running from dinosaurs, chasing dinosaurs, or occasionally just standing with mouths agape and observing the awesome beauty of the big beasts.

Chasing DinosI suppose Kit and Chase and company have some competition from the massive marketing machine now promoting Jurassic World. The movie is breaking box office records. Toys and kids’ books are selling like crazy. But I think I have one or two advantages in competing with the massive Hollywood machinery behind Jurassic World.

First of all, I’ve looked around and there is no BOOK version of the movie. That’s odd. Hollywood rarely forgets to tie in a book version for each of its major productions.

Cowgirl KitThe only adult-reading-level book out there called Jurassic World turns out to be just a double volume incorporating Michael Crichton’s old Jurassic Park novels one and two. So at least with Dinosaur Tales you’ve got a newly minted fresh-off-the-press story instead of a rehash.

Secondly, it appears I’ve done my homework better than Steven Spielberg and his movie-making colleagues. My dinosaurs have feathers and fur. Somehow, when the Hollywood moguls filmed Jurassic World, they missed the fact that fossils have turned up all around the planet in recent years showing us that dinosaurs were essentially big, feather-covered birds–albeit birds with very nasty claws, huge sharp teeth and, in some cases, four legs.

So, given that there is no Jurassic World novel, why not grab a copy of Dinosaur Tales? It will give you a new perspective on the big beasts and a chance to root for Kit and Chase, who may fall in love yet–if they don’t get eaten first!

Posted in Author, Dinosaur Country | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dinosaur Wars book 4 cover art

King of the dino beastsWhat’s that? A T rex with a lion’s mane? And have those dinosaur wranglers lost their minds? They’re about to get munched by an angry parentalsaurus while roping junior!

But of course, such things are common in THE NEW WILD WEST, where dinosaurs live again and cowboys and cowgirls are nervous.

This is the new cover art for the fourth book in my Dinosaur Wars series, soon to be formally released in ebook and paperback formats. I like the lion mane idea. Both T rex and Leo are considered King Of The Beasts in their times. Rexxy looks even scarier with that dark, bushy, feather-fur headwear. Click the image for a closer look.

And these days, with more fur and feathers being discovered on dino fossils almost daily, we need to keep up-to-date in our book illustrations. Some folks feel my depictions of dinos go too far toward a mammal-like appearance, but I don’t know–the big beasties in my book might just turn out to be wearing what all fashion-conscious dinosaurs will wear in the future.

So, let the movie Jurassic World feature naked, scaly dinos. The evidence is starting to stack against that portrayal.

Time–and fossils–will tell.

Hot news item June 12, 2015: Dinosaur Tales has been published as an ebook and a paperback! Here’s a link to the new Amazon page for it:

Dinosaur Wars 4: Dinosaur Tales

Versions in other ebook formats will be coming soon.

Posted in Author, Dinosaur Country | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Kinda Cloud

Rainbow cloudJust got back from the Sonoma Coast of California. Some lovely scenery down there. Here’s an example.

That’s a shot I took looking out over the Pacific’s blue waters on a lovely, otherwise cloudless day. I guess it’s some sort of sun dog painted on top of some whispy clouds.Rainbow too

I seem to be having a run of good luck, weatherwise these days. And this is just one example. I hope everybody gets a bit of this sort of beauty in their worlds from time to time.

Anyway, here’s another look, this time with the low surf in the foreground. It was a peak moment in a generally wonderful day. I wish as much for all of you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Writing in 40s Vernacular

When a fellow in a book you are reading describes a dame as peachy, you’re reading 1940s vernacular.

One task I set myself in writing Uncle Herb’s World War II saga was to include some of the slang and catch-phrases the soldiers and sailors used in those times. Much of this has faded from common usage now, so it wasn’t an easy task. But if one is trying to really get the feel of what it was like to be with Navy airmen battling the Japanese Imperial Fleet in 1943, it helps to get right in among them and hear how they actually spoke when they were shooting the breeze.

Phrases like, “Say, wise guy! What’s the big idea?” were commonplace. So leaving them out would diminish the story. But how does one go about relearning the lost vernacular of another time? Fortunately, there are ways to do it.

First off, it helps to have some seniority. While I am not old enough to have actually used slang in the 40s, I do harken back to days of crawling around on my mom’s or my grandmother’s carpet while real, honest-to-God speakers of the lingo were rattling off the whole kit and caboodle. I may have been barely old enough to say more than goo-goo but I had ears. And some of their jive stuck in my head.

And where memory can’t provide, there are other great resources. Books and movies of the time are full of useful dope. Books like Michener’s Tales Of The South Pacific, and Mailer’s The Naked And The Dead, written in those times, dish up a boatload of lingo. Movies like Guadalcanal Diary portray soldiers chewing the fat realistically. And let’s not overlook The Three Stooges, whose short features released in those times contained plenty of wiseacre comments.

My only worry is that some brainiac under-assistant editor or sub-agent, will look at what I’ve written and get all worked up about my anachronistic authorial style and voice. They might mistakenly think I always write that way and give my manuscript the old heave-ho. Nosirree. That’s a bunch of hooey. I’m just getting wise to this razzmatazz for one particular novel.

Here’s a scene from The Fallen Eagle where vernacular comes to the fore as Bill asks Herb to read a love letter from home:

——

“It’s from your girl, right?” Bill pried. “It’s from Betty.”

“Nope,” Herb said. “Return address says it’s from Eve McFarlane, 53rd Avenue South, Rainier Beach, Seattle, Washington.”

“Betty’s best friend Eve, you mean? She’s peachy.”

“Any girl would be peachy to a hard up fellow like you.”

“Come on,” Bill persisted. “What’s it say?”

“Will you jokers can the chitchat?” Joe demanded. “Put that letter away, Herb.”

“Yes, Boss.” Herb put the letter back in its envelope and tucked it into his flight suit’s breast pocket.

——

Anyway. You get the idea. It’s more interesting to the reader to get a sense of the way Continue reading

Posted in Author, Guadalcanal Aviators, Uncle Herb | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Crocodile Attack!

Big biterA little known fact of the Solomon Islands campaign of World War II, is that some of the casualties were due to crocodiles. The swamps and rivers in those jungle isles abound with the largest and hungriest of all the crocs, the saltwater crocodile, known in Australia as the “salty.”

As I complete the second draft of Uncle Herb’s story, I thought it might be of interest to share just a small part of the tale with you. The excerpt below is from the middle of the novel. It takes place just after the torpedo bomber was shot down onto jungle-covered New Georgia Island. It’s not for the faint of heart.

EXCERPT from The Fallen Eagle:

Herb forced his way through vines and thorns and wet matted vegetation and stinking muck, with such difficulty and pain that it took him another ten minutes to circle the banyan.

“No sign of him,” he said to Joe when he rejoined him at the end of the circuit.

“Maybe you should go back the way the plane came in,” Joe murmured. His voice was so weak it scared Herb as much as Bill’s absence. Joe pointed a lax finger at the torn-up jungle aft of the tail section. “We left a lot of the plane back that way.”

“Yeah, I know.” Herb went with his head hanging from pain and weakness. He began working his way down the hill slope, back along the trail of wreckage the Sea Eagle had dropped as she came in. She had clipped a dozen treetops and disemboweled herself as she collided with bigger and bigger branches.

Laboring downhill, Herb passed a crumpled bomb-bay door, and then the mangled metal of Bill’s .30 caliber machine gun. But still he found no sign of Bill.

Herb knew that to shout would hurt. But he drew a deep breath in slowly, and when his lungs had filled to the point of agony from his breastbone, he forced himself to holler, “Billy!” Doubling over from the pain of the shout, he suppressed a groan and listened for a response.

Far off, faintly, weakly, he heard a reply. “I’m down here, Pops. Help me!”

The sound of Bill’s voice renewed Herb’s resolve. He moved downslope along the wreckage path, passing splintered trunks of smaller trees, piles of branches and foliage, bits and pieces of the Avenger. He moved through razor sharp blackberry-like vines that pierced the light fabric of his flight suit and tore fresh gashes in his arms and shins.

Swim at your own riskEventually, he edged down to the brushy bank of a twenty-yard-wide, fast flowing, muddy river. He stopped on a sand bank that was crisscrossed by waterlogged tree trunks, fallen branches and tangled vines. He was certain Bill’s voice had come from the direction ahead of him. But the river—rain-swollen and turbulent—intervened.

He drew another deep, painful breath and called again, “Bill!”

“Here.”

He looked where the voice had come from. The far shore of the river was a sandy flatland covered with regular rows of hundreds of plantation palm trees. Beyond them was the ocean, perhaps two hundred yards away, blue and clear with light surf. In a line from the sea to where Herb crouched, a swath of palm trees had lost their tops when the Sea Eagle cut into them before crossing the river and hitting the hillside, which was the slope of a river-cut bluff. The tops of the shorn-off palms had fallen among the still-standing trunks. And there, near the river’s edge, lying on his back on a bed of fronds laid down by one of the palm tops—was Bill. His legs were stretched out nearly down to the water’s edge. When he spotted Herb, he sat up.

“I got tossed out the bomb bay,” he explained. “Went into the river face first. Water broke my fall. Otherwise I’d be dead.”

“You hurt bad?” Herb called, wincing at the fierce pain in his chest.

“Yeah.” Bill lifted his right leg a few inches. Even at twenty yards’ distance, Herb could see the calf muscle had been fileted by shrapnel or something that happened in the crash. The wound was exposed because Bill’s trouser leg was torn open. Raw flesh hung from the underside of his calf. It was dripping blood pretty badly.

“Did you get a tourniquet on it?”

“At the knee.” Bill pointed just below his knee, where his web belt had been cinched up in an effort to stop the blood flow. “It’s not working too good.”

“Can you get across the river?”

“No!” Bill called back fearfully. “I can’t. You gotta come over here!”

“I don’t know if I can make it. I’m not in too good a shape either. Besides. Joe’s over here.”

“How is he?”

“Not too good. I’ve gotta get back to him. You gotta come over here.”

“I don’t know, Herb. I’m pretty sure there’s crocodiles in this river.”

“How do you know?”

“When I was wading ashore, I heard something big splash in over on your side.”

Herb glanced around. “Nothing here but mud and sand.” He unsnapped the clasp on the service pistol holster at his hip, drew out the .44 and held it up, just to be safe. “Come on. I’ll cover you.”

“Okay,” Bill said reticently. “But you keep those eagle eyes wide open.”

Bill stood gingerly and hobbled down into the water. As he did, he drew his own pistol and checked that its safety was off. “Pops?” he asked. “Can’t those things smell blood in the water?”

“I think that’s sharks, Billy. Keep moving.”

Bill waded out until he was thigh deep. The current was fast and it tugged him sideways. He stumbled over a boulder on the bottom and nearly fell. “I can’t do this!” he called.

“Keep moving!” Herb called back.

At the halfway point, Bill was up to his waist and the current threatened to float him away. “It’s too deep!” he cried.

“No, it isn’t. You’re gonna make it. Now, keep moving.”

Anticipating Bill’s arrival, Herb carefully negotiated his way among the logs and branches tangled in front of him and moved to the water’s edge. He reached out his left hand encouragingly to Bill, ignoring how the hand was dripping blood into the river. Bill made for the outstretched hand, but he stumbled just shy of the shore and went down. He plunged under the surface briefly and then rose sputtering and gasping.

“Swim!” Herb commanded. “You’re almost here.” He lowered himself into the water to get nearer to Bill. He went in up to his waist, but kept a grip on a branch, anticipating hauling Bill out by offering his left leg with the boot toe up. Bill flailed in the water just a yard or two away but making slow progress against the current.

A heavy splash downstream made Herb turn his head in time to see a reptilian tail—green, scaly, glistening, and at least ten feet long, gliding off a big downed log and slipping smoothly beneath the river’s surface. The crocodile had been sunning in a shaft of daylight that shone through overhanging branches. Herb guessed from the size of the tail that it must be attached to a stupendously huge animal. Ripples appeared on the surface of the water in a V shape, coming straight for Bill, who was flailing nearer with agonizing slowness against the stiff current.

“What is it, Herb?” Bill asked direly as he floundered.

“Just keep swimming, Billy. Faster!”

The V moved much more rapidly than Bill. The streamlined giant slipped swiftly through its native element. Bill had heard the croc too. “Is… it…” he asked between strokes, “coming… this… way?”

“Yeah!” Herb snapped. “Now, hurry up!”

Bill was little more than an arm’s length away now, but a strong eddy in the river kept him at bay despite his efforts. Herb lowered himself still further into the water and stretched out his left leg. Bill finally caught his ankle and drew himself to Herb, climbing hand-over-hand up his leg until he had an arm around Herb’s chest. Now both men’s floating bodies were tugged by the current. Herb’s left arm lacked the strength to draw them out.

“Get us out of here!” Bill begged.

“Pipe down!” Herb ordered. “Let me concentrate.” Leaving off his effort to drag them out, he held the pistol out at arm’s length. “Keep still!” he half whispered to Bill. He drew a bead on the V in the water, which by now had come to within ten feet of them. Just as he was about to squeeze the trigger—it vanished. The croc had dived, intending to take them from beneath.

“Herb!” Bill cried in a small voice. He drew his legs up under him, but the wounded calf released blood-colored swirls into the water.

Herb swung the muzzle of his pistol down, aiming nearer and nearer, estimating where the reptile’s head would be if he could see it through the murky water. At the last instant before that aim-point met the place where Bill’s feet were now drawn up alongside his, Herb fired off three shots in rapid succession. The bullets kicked up three splashes of water and an instant later the croc’s head erupted from the river. The yard-long jaws opened wide and snapped in the air, lashing up a welter of froth. But they didn’t close on Bill, who screamed as the mighty reptile’s head foamed the water inches from him. The monster was no longer interested in Bill or Herb. It was churning its own red blood into the river’s frothing surface. It went into a death roll, from its blindly snapping jaws to the tip of its lashing tail, tumbling over and over as it had intended to do with Bill in its jaws. But now it was thrashing its own death agony. Each time the scaly yellow throat rotated to the surface, prodigious spurts of blood gushed from two holes, painting the river’s surface crimson. The huge tail sliced the water, splashing wave after wave of spray over Herb and Bill. After three rolls, the croc settled and floated belly up. It drifted away from them in blood-reddened water as the current carried it toward the sea.

Bill clung to Herb, trembling and gasping like a fish out of water.

The croc’s small, clawed feet stuck up, looking almost comical—four little surrender flags hoisted in the air. The two exit wounds on the croc’s throat poured red streamers into the river, adding to the red stain spreading around the dead monster.

After a few moments gasping for breath, Bill clambered up some branches and logs and pulled himself to safety. Herb stayed put awhile, aiming his pistol at one ripple and then another, fearing that another croc might appear. When none did, he climbed up and over the fallen branches to join Bill. He sat down on a big, muddy log and hung his head, wincing at pains he had temporarily forgotten.

Bill laid out flat on a little sand bar between two logs, arms at his sides and his hands limp. After a few moments, he said without looking at Herb, “Nice shooting, Pops.”

Herb lifted his head and drew a breath. “Just doing my job, Billy Boy. Now, come on. Let’s get going.”

Bill said, “I lost my gun out there.”

“You wanna go back and fetch it?” Herb cracked the faintest of smiles. “I’ll cover you.”

“Very funny,” Bill said.

“We gotta get back and see how Joe’s doing. Patch up that leg of yours. C’mon.”

“You gotta help me walk.”

“No dice, Bill. I’m pretty messed up myself. Come on. You can make it. Or do you want me to leave you here with the crocs? There’s a couple more coming.”

Bill sat up straight. Out in the river, two more V-shaped ripples were coming upstream. Without another word, Bill got up and followed Herb going back the way he had come.

By the time they scrambled up the hillside to the plane, Herb was half dragging Bill along, despite what he had said. Bill’s face was white as a ghost. He moved in herky-jerky motions that convinced Herb he was just about out of blood.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, so there you have it. The prose may still need a little line editing but I think you get the point: there’s never a dull moment when your plane crashes onto a jungle island. Let me remind you again because you might not believe it, this is based on a true story. And there’s worse to come!

Stay tuned.

Posted in Author, Guadalcanal Aviators, Uncle Herb | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ceres Asteroid Closeup Shocks Space Scientists

Ceres surprisesThe first closeup photo returned by the asteroid-exploring space probe, Dawn, has shocked and dismayed mission scientists. Furthermore, the unexpected discovery on the surface of the largest asteroid in the solar system suggests grave consequences for all mankind.

In a prepared statement, a NASA administrator admitted, “We really uncorked the celestial genie on this one!”

The new image makes clear that Ceres is not a dwarf planet, as some scientists had suggested, but rather is a form of cosmic flypaper, programmed to destroy everything within a parsec if and when an intelligent species sends a probe in its direction.

The President, reached in an underground bunker ten miles beneath Washington DC, said, “Make no mistake. We are working on a new kind of drone to neutralize it. If we have the time. Meanwhile, I’ve asked Bruce Willis to reassemble the Armageddon team that saved us last time something like this happened.”

Posted in From Outta Space | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Senate for Iraq?

Iraq 3 StatesIn a previous post, I suggested that Iraq could end its years of bloody conflict by creating a U.S.-style Senate. As the hypothetical map shows, division of Iraq into three “states” similar to those in the U.S. would create a new institution that gives voice to the concerns of the three main ethnic and religious divisions of the country.

As the horrors of the ISIL occupation have shown, life in Iraq without a Senate has led to deep divisions, power vacuums, and easy insurgent conquests of disenfranchised regions. So, how would a Senate (as part of a U.S.-style bicameral legislature) help to solve the problem?

That’s easy. You see, even though majority rule is the mainstay of democracy and a very desirable goal for any country, there are other needs of a population that may not be solved by simple majority rule. The example here is obvious. How can Sunni Arabs or Kurdish citizens of Iraq hope to have their concerns heard in the halls of government? One answer that DOES NOT WORK is simple majority rule. And that’s how Iraq is operating now. No wonder Sunnis and Kurds have grave doubts about their futures. And no wonder ISIL still has much support in the regions it has overrun.

The dissatisfaction that allowed ISIL to stage its takeover in the north and west of Iraq will remain, even as ISIL itself is coming to be seen as too extreme a solution for the tastes of the local populations. Nevertheless, the rising tide of Shiite armies from the south will in no way calm the nerves of Sunnis and Kurds who have been oppressed by the Shiite dominated government for years now.

President Obama has called for a “more inclusive” government in Iraq. But he hasn’t spelled out how that can come to be. Hence my effort here. Let me say it again. IRAQ NEEDS A SENATE.

Right now, democratic voting by the people of Iraq always leads to a Shiite dominated Council of Representatives, equivalent to the simple majority politics of the U.S. House of Representatives. And that’s it. There is no legislative body that looks beyond a simple majority vote. And that’s bad. The very essence of Iraq’s current government organization dictates that the majority Shiite population will always get its way on everything. So what else might Iraqis do?

It the map above were used to collect votes from the populations of three U.S.-style “states”, then Shiites would always win in the predominately Shiite region of South Iraq, Sunni Arabs would always win in the predominately Sunni Arab West, and Kurdish candidates would always win in the predominately Kurdish North. How does that help?

In the U.S.’s bicameral legislature, no law can be passed without BOTH legislative bodies approving it. If Iraq had such a system—which it currently does not—then certain problems could be alleviated. Nicest of all, a balance of power between the rival factions could be created. And that balance ought to go a tremendous way toward calming the fears and outrage of those who feel they have no voice in Iraq’s government today. How?

As happens in the U.S., the two houses would broker national power in ways very different from today’s Iraq, and a balance of interests could be struck. For instance if Shiites were to propose Senate legislation that was hated by both Kurds and Sunni Arabs, then their motion would be defeated by Senators from the North and West (as I proposed before, the three states would send an equal number of Senators to the Senate–seven from each “state” in the model I proposed).

One might ask why the Shiites who now rule absolutely through a simple majority in the Council of Representatives, would ever allow the creation of a Senate that could override their will? Well, bear this in mind: the Council of Representatives, in turn, could block any Sunni-Kurd legislation coming from the Senate that it didn’t like.

This may sound like a recipe for stalemate, but will that be the case? Maybe not. Because the two legislative houses would now protect the interests of all three groups, it should be possible to go forward in a spirit of national compromise, enacting legislation that takes everyone’s concerns into consideration. In such an atmosphere of cooperation backed by the ability to block any really repugnant proposals, a new national unity could be forged and a brighter future for all Iraqis could be created.

Still not convinced? Then consider the ISIL insurrection, realize it stems from lack of representation of minorities, and get ready for it to repeat again and again and again and again. Iraq’s 2005 constitution actually calls for a Senate (termed a Council of Union or Federation Council) but no such body has yet been created.

I believe that, deep down, Northern and Western Iraqis want to be part of a stable and fair nation. A Senate would open the door to that possibility and bring all Iraqis lasting peace and prosperity.

Posted in My Soapbox | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Herb’s Story–Complete at Last!

Three brave airmenIt’s taken about six months, but finally the saga of my Uncle Herbert Hopp’s World War 2 heroism and suffering is finished, all 85,000 words of it. Whew! With the movie Unbroken set to hit the screen on Christmas Day, I guess it’s entirely appropriate that the tale of another hero in the same war should be ready to hit the presses–well, almost.

Bound for the South PacificAt right is a photo of Herb in Honolulu just a month before his triumphant and disastrous trip to the Solomon Islands.

Next up for my manuscript is the review and revision process, and I’ve already engaged two proof readers and gotten them on the task. After they’ve had their say, I’ll begin a potentially long quest to find a home for Herb at a major publishing house. That’s a procedure of many steps.

First comes the search for an agent who can get a hearing for Herb in the hallowed halls of the book publishing establishment. Then come contract negotiations. Then, no doubt, a substantial revision to suit the requirements of an editorial staff. And then the long time needed for setup and production of the actual book. Only then will The Fallen Eagle —as I have tentatively titled the work— make its appearance on bookshelves.

The whole rigamarole might eat up to two years in eclipse before Herb’s story finally finds the full light of day.

But it’ll be worth the wait. Herb’s is a tale of the forgotten wounded warrior. Compared to Louis Zamperini of Unbroken fame, Herb is a very similar type. He was a tough kid, and it was no doubt that toughness that enabled him to survive where others perished. Ultimately, I believe that if Zamperini’s story deserved the attention it got, then so does Herb’s. Time will tell. And in good time, I can even imagine a day when The Fallen Eagle could become a comparable Hollywood film like Unbroken. Everything that made Zamperini’s story compelling is found in Herb’s story, and maybe even a little more.

Here’s a little teaser, the Foreword I wrote for this book:

Stories of the Second World War have not delved deeply enough into the hardest truth of the conflict. That truth can’t be seen in histories of the broad sweep of armies and navies across the globe. It can’t be felt in portrayals of the awesome effects of the weapons of war. But it shows up starkly on the faces of men, scarcely old enough to grow a beard, who give their blood and their lives in a commitment to save our world from hatred and tyranny. This story is an account of my Uncle Herbert Albert Hopp’s struggles, his audacious exploits, and the horrific personal consequences the closing days of the Guadalcanal Campaign wrought on him and his torpedo-bomber crewmates. This is the true story of Naval aviators who played their parts in the epic contest of nations in the South Pacific in 1943.

I applaud those books and films that have portrayed this conflict before. But here you will find the deepest and bitterest truths about what it was like for the brave young men who lived or died in the Solomon Islands. I have interviewed family members who knew Herb better and longer than I. I have researched every possible military record, including Herb’s own long and gruesomely detailed medical records. If I have done my job as a writer well then you will see what it really means for heroes to go and fight and bleed and die to protect the ones they love. God bless them all.

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
“Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.”

—From “America The Beautiful,” written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1913, the year Herbert Hopp was born.

Posted in Author, Guadalcanal Aviators, Uncle Herb | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing–too busy to blog

Torpedo's Away!I’d like to take the time to write something profound here, but I’m too darned busy completing my latest project, Uncle Herb’s World War II story, which is itself pretty profound. Suffice it to say I’m about halfway through the first full draft of the novel, and on a timeline to get that draft done within a week or two. Right about on schedule.

At the moment, I’m taking just a short break to let you know this project is nearing the finish line. I just plowed my way through the central description of Herb’s gun battle with Japanese Zeros bent on avenging his torpedo bomber striking a destroyer of the Imperial Japanese Fleet.

That unequal fight (against seven Zeros) didn’t work out too well for Herb. Next I’ll be writing about his crash in flames on a tropical jungle island.

So now you know what I’ve been up to. I’d better get back to it!

Posted in Author, Guadalcanal Aviators, Uncle Herb | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment