I can’t discuss my next book

Ka-Boom!I wish to make it clear I am not at liberty to discuss my next novel. By agreement between my publisher and myselves, I can in no way imply, discuss, or indicate by wink or nudge just exactly what’s the subject of my next thriller, due out early next year.

What I can tell you is, it will not be another science fiction book in my Dinosaur Wars series. Nor will it be another Peyton McKean medical thriller. New volumes in those series will appear later in 2016. But don’t fret. This novel will have all the raw adventure and excitement folks have come to expect from me.

It will be the first in a new series of novels that involve natural phenomena, environmental catastrophes, and other manifestations of the awesomeness of the world around us. The title of the new series is–well–that’s a secret too.

Splat!I have been rigorously researching and writing about certain, er, events that have occurred recently, in order to get the kind of realism I like in my stories. But I can’t tell you exactly which phenomenon is at center stage this time around. You’ll just have to use your imagination and make your best guess.

I hope this helps.

Posted in Author, Nature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It was a dark and stormy day

Stormy DayThe Olympic Coast of Washington State is a place of extreme beauty—and extreme weather.

Last time Shelley and I ventured out from Seattle to the far reaches of the Olympic Peninsula, we were caught in a pretty savage storm. Not that we weren’t safely ensconced in our car most of the time, but the weather outside the windshield was brutal.

We stopped and braved the gale at Ruby Beach, wearing parkas with hoods up to protect us from driving rain. Down on the beach, high onshore winds smashed titanic ocean rollers onto ragged rocks. The spume that flew up from the wave tops was the color of dark chai, tainted by organic muck stirred up at the mouth of a rain-swollen stream that gushed from an Olympic mountain canyon. Logs, stumps, and colossal tangles of roots vied for preeminence with dark headlands and sea stacks.

Whipped by rain-laden winds, it was all I could do to stand upright while taking my camera from under my coat and shielding its lens with one hand to snap the photo you see here. And as I stood on a slippery tide-wetted log to get a good angle, huge ocean surges did their best to sweep me down among the logs and crush me.

No. Really.

But I got the shot while Shelley watched, aghast at my temerity, or stupidity, or whatever it was that drove me to the brink. But it’s a pretty nice photo if you like scary weather. Click it for a closer view.

Calm DayWe went on our way and stayed the night in calmer circumstances at idyllic Lake Quinault Lodge, where the winds and rains abated during the night.

In the morning we retraced our route heading for home. The weather had cleared and the sun shone. It was the complete antithesis of the day before. So I couldn’t resist stopping at Ruby Beach again to capture this shot of the same scene under happier circumstances. The blue of the sky, freshly cleaned by the storm, and the brilliance of the azure reflections on the water were as stirring and memorable as the raging scene of the day before.

Gone was the rush of the wind in the evergreen forest. Gone was the roar of the ocean. They were replaced by the gentle splash of a much smaller surf and calls of birds that had gone to ground and hidden the day before. Even the giant tangle of logs had somehow been swept away, leaving a smooth and gently wave-lapped shore.

Seattle BlazesIt all amounted to a beautifully refreshing engagement with nature for two often-world-weary urbanites. Our spirits stayed high all the way home, over long highway miles and a ferry ride from the Olympic Peninsula to the mainland. And as we neared Seattle, it seemed the entire city had caught our enthusiasm for life. The skyline lit up with incredible dazzling shimmers of gold at sundown.

Wow. Now that’s what I call a nice getaway trip!

Posted in Nature, Seattle | Tagged | Leave a comment

In The Moon’s Darkest Depths

The Far Side of the MoonAs we move into winter’s darkness here in Earth’s northern hemisphere, I am reminded of my favorite place for scary stories on the Moon. That would be Aitken Basin, one of the biggest excavations on any world in our solar system. No one–robot or human–has traveled there yet, but when they do they will be descending into a dark and foreboding place.

Aitken Basin was blasted out of the far side of the Moon by a huge asteroid impact several billion years ago. It has changed little since then, and so remains a stark reminder of the power of the universe to alter worlds almost at a whim. It is said that five miles of the Moon’s surface were blasted away, exposing interior portions that would otherwise never have seen the light of the sun. And sunlight only comes on a monthly schedule as the Moon orbits the Earth and changes phases. While we watch the Moon wax and wane before and after its glorious full phase, the far side and Aitken are experiencing a night that lasts fourteen days. Then, Aiken is one of the darkest, coldest, and loneliest places in the solar system.

Aitken up closeNo wonder then that I turn to Aitken Basin to inspire tales of darkness, danger, and adventure. In my short story The Treasure of Purgatory Crater, astronauts carry out a desperate mission to rescue the last surviving member of a crew stationed in the depths of Aitken. But they soon find that the deaths there may not have been accidental. Trouble is, they are isolated on the far side in the dark with, well, perhaps, a murderous madman? You can’t phone home for help in Aitken.

And just on the rim of Aitken, at the south pole of the Moon, scientists have discovered ice frozen in the dark depths of craters that never see the sun at all. Now, that’s a great setting for an alien Moonbase. And a great setting for some frightful tales like those I told in books 1, 2, and 3 of the Dinosaur Wars series. While writing those chillers, I figured, where better to face off in a laser-blasting duel with dinosaurian aliens than right there in our local grotto of darkness?

Thank you Luna, for giving me such a fabulously dark and chilling place to set my stories!

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

The Islands of Seattle

Islands Of SeattleThey warn us it’s coming. We ignore them. But it’s coming. The ocean doesn’t listen to pundits on TV. It just rises.

I strolled by the seaside the other day down at my aboriginal haunt, Alki Beach. Where once I used to walk along the seawall south and west of the main beach gazing down at wave-washed sands caressed by the swells of Puget Sound, the story has already changed.

Nowadays, its more a matter of gazing across at the sands, and walking along the wave-washed walkway. You see, in the decades since I was a kid here, the Sound has risen enough to surge right over the bulkhead and onto the paved walkway whenever there is a larger-than-average high tide.

Sand washing over the seawall happened when I was a kid. That’s not a new thing. But it only happened once or twice a year when an extra-high tide combined with a storm. Now, the weather can be as calm as you want. The highest tides always wash sand over the walkway.

Seems I read somewhere that the global ocean level had risen by eight inches since detailed records were kept, starting in the 1950s. Well, that’s when my personal record-keeping started, right inside my cranium.

So yep. I can confirm it. The ocean is rising.

That image, “The Islands of Seattle,” is no fantasy. It’s a map of the hills of Seattle with the ocean raised up to the 250-feet-above-sea-level mark. Click it twice to get an expanded view. That’s the height the water will reach if the polar caps melt completely. It’s a common joke around town that, if the sea level rises enough, a homeowner may have the good fortune of going from inland property to a waterfront estate–if he can afford to wait long enough.

But there’s a downside for about half the population–they’ll only be able to go home in scuba gear. It makes me a little melancholy to look over the map and think of the places I lived at one time or another.

The housing project where I spent my earliest years down on the Duwamish Riverbanks in South Park, will be long gone. It will be prime fish territory on the bottom of what the mapmakers call the Duwamish Passage. And the home where I grew up through grade, middle, and high school will occupy the bottom of the Bay of Genesee. And the beach I have been talking about will become shoalwaters overlooked by the heights of the Admiral Peninsula. The den-of-iniquity rental house where I misspent my university years will sink to become part of University Shoals, along with the rest of one of the nation’s great institutions of higher learning.

The only old haunt that seems likely to survive is the home I built on the south side of Genessee Hill, which looks like it may end up as that proverbial waterfront property. That was a smart choice. Too bad I sold it to move up to high ground on Cougar Mountain. Which, I see, will still be well above the tideline in that not-too-far-off future. Another smart choice.

Meanwhile, I intend to keep visiting Alki Beach while I still can. I guess that means I’ll need a new pair of wading boots. Better make them hip-waders.

Posted in Nature, Real Science, Seattle | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Walking with my rex

Rex at my sideA photo of me and my tyrannosaurus out for a stroll on a lovely day. The shot was taken at Prehistoric Gardens on the Oregon Coast near Port Orford. Rexxy was on his best behavior and only snapped up a couple of passing tourists. Most of the populace was spared further mayhem.

I think it was my firm, commanding voice, when I said, “No! No! No! Spit him out!”

You just have to speak loudly. And whatever you do–do not let him smell fear on you.

It’s sort of like ordering velociraptors around at Jurassic World.

Or Chase Armstrong giving rexes human-aversion training in Dinosaur Tales.

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

Now THAT’S how to get to Mars

Mars from PhobosThe Planetary Society has just released its vision of how humans will first arrive at the Red Planet. And I am totally on board with them. As is always true of the Planetary Society, they have adopted both a reality check on what can be accomplished in the face of political opposition, and an informed view of the technical difficulties of the journey.

In a 45-page report, a team of space scientists convened by the Planetary Society has laid out a very sensible and detailed approach to the first manned mission to Mars. You can grab a pdf copy of it here: PlanetarySoc Humans Orbiting Mars.

Watney waitsThe gist of it is that we should plan to orbit Mars for quite some time before we land. There are many reasons why, but the most compelling is that you don’t need anywhere near as much rocket fuel to come and go from the Martian moon, Phobos. A base built there would become a center for studying Mars up-close-and-personal, and a staging area for the final push down into the “gravity well” of Mars. Gravity wells are notoriously hard to get out of–sort of like falling into a well on Earth–so the Society proposes to only do this after an orbiting station on Phobos is already fully functional and capable of helping the Earthlings to get back up from the surface. Such matters are a substantial issue in the movie The Martian, in which getting up from the surface is one of the major problems facing stranded astronaut, Mark Watney. In my view, the way the Society proposes to handle such matters is eminently sensible, different from the movie, and probably much more practical. As anticipated by the Society, Watney would have had a rescue team in orbit four thousand miles above him and ready to respond. That seems much more realistic than waiting for rescue from earth, 40 million miles away.

I am proud to be a Charter Member of the Planetary Society. That is, I was one of those folks who made the initial cash contributions to get the organization started. I am proud to see what they have accomplished in the decades since then.

And I guess you could say my original contribution has paid me an unexpected dividend. Among the science fiction novels I am currently working on is an adventure set on Mars during early colonization times around the year 2090. You can bet I’ll be factoring this new roadmap (orbit map?) into the “how we got there” part of my book. One vision illuminates the next.

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

Natural Beauties of the Olympic Mountains

Sol Duc FallsIt isn’t just the coast of the Olympic Peninsula that shelters natural beauties. Other wonders are found in secluded mountain valleys and along the streams that plunge down from the craggy heights. Under deep forest cover, you come across sights like dazzling Sol Duc Falls. Fed by snow melt high above, the falls roar in multi-channeled splendor, plunging into a serpentine gorge crisscrossed by fallen giant forest trees. Its mighty rumbling roar summons spirits from old half-forgotten Quileute Indian legends. Here, it is said, the great dragons Elwha and Sol Duc fought over ownership of the valley. Neither could prevail against the other and so they vanished into the land, becoming these falls, whose name means Magic Waters, and the nearby bubbling, boiling Sol Duc hot springs. If you stand in the swirling mist and close your eyes, you can still hear their mighty struggles and feel the earth tremble beneath your feet.

Marymere FallsOther falls are smaller and more graceful. Frail trickles like Marymere Falls splash onto cliff sides, sharing their waters with thirsty ferns and mosses. Dippers–crazy little brown birds that build their nests right under the falls–fly into and out of the falls’ wet spray, where sheltering crevices foster their nests and babies. You’ll see them hopping around on river rocks or wading into and under the flowing waters below the falls to fetch bugs to feed their broods. All the while, delicate Marymere, daughter of mighty Storm King Mountain high above, patters down her protective shower.

Shelley at the fallsI’m not the only one around here who is charmed by these moving mountain waters. Here’s a snapshot of Shelley in her element. She loves to stand near enough to falling water to catch the spray on her face, to feel the cool joy of the clean wet stuff and breath in soft air that can only be found near the base of a falls. She’s a natural beauty, too.

Whenever we travel to the Olympic Peninsula, there is at least one hike to a waterfall and often two or three. Falls abound among these rain-washed mountains. And a person can never really get too much of such enchanting places. Wet. Magical. Cool. Beautiful!

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Natural Beauties of the Olympic Mountains

The Awesomeness of Spirit Cove

Rocky Spirit CoveThe savage Olympic Coast of Washington State is not a place for the fainthearted. Storm-torn, damp and often dismal, it challenges a visitor to stiffen up your spine or get the hell out. And don’t come back. It is a realm of cold and wet that drives off the casual sightseer. It challenges the willpower of those who would like to stay awhile. But in so doing, it distills humanity down to those few souls who are constitutionally able to forswear comfort for the sake of beauty.

Along this storm-racked coast there are remote places seldom seen–by humans. One of these, and an absolute favorite of mine, is Spirit Cove. Here the coastline seems to bristle against the cold North Pacific’s wave wash, standing in jagged opposition to the huge gray oceanic comers that smash against its bulwarks.

Spirit CoveIt is a fearsome place. But sheltered by jagged headlands is a small inlet of calm water, an almost impossible place of peace in a ravaged coastline. I have come to Spirit Cove a few times now, walking long, mud-choked, all-but-forgotten coastal trails under deep forest gloom, arriving wet-footed and cold, to be charmed and enlightened by what awaited me at the end of my trek.

Rock of RocksEven the stones of the place seem to have life within their hard exteriors. How else can one explain their composition? Here the rocks are made up of rocks in kaleidoscopic earth-tone symphonies of green, tan, purple, and brown. Stupendously huge fallen blocks contain boulders within them, as well as multi-colored pebbles and even the petrified sandbars of a bygone era.

Green poolAnd, sheltered among the rocks, life burgeons. An emerald tide pool teems with eelgrass and myriad tiny fishes. Its waters shout “Green!” to a sky full of muted gray fog.

On wave-washed bedrock, clans of orgiastic snails crowd together amid twining amber festoons of seaweed–kakalaklokadub in the Makah Indian language–that drapes the boulders of the place like intricate natural party decorations. Perhaps those snails gather together to sing potlatch songs, as it was in days long past when humans and animals freely transformed into one another.

Snail crowdSpirit Cove. This is the place where Raven first bit the shore, in the days when he was a giant, to carve out a home for animals and humans too. This is the central locale of my novel The Neah Virus.

Here is where Gordon Steel, the old Makah shaman, built his traditional longhouse without the benefit of saw or nail. Here is where the Lost Souls Disease first came, and where it went, in the old times. Here is a place of mysteries and answers. Here is a place where Raven still rules, where tiny chattering Douglas squirrels sing their songs, where humans come at their peril, and only come if their souls have been purified. Here is a place of dark, and light, and destiny.

Oh. Excuse me for wandering off into story. That’s the kind of effect the awesome beauty of Spirit Cove has on me. How about you?

Posted in Indian Country, Peyton McKean | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Pre-Order Dinosaur Wars 4 and save a buck!

Dinosaur TalesDinosaur Tales, the fourth book in my Dinosaur Wars series, will be released in ebook form for Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and other formats on September 14th. That’s good news.

Better news: you can pre-order the ebook for $2.99 until that day. That’s a savings of $1. Good deal, right?

I’d rush right over to my favorite ebook seller right now. Except, well, I already have a copy. ‘Cause —you know— I wrote it!

And of course, it’s available on Amazon as well. No dollar off deal there because they already had a free giveaway a week or two ago. Sorry if you missed it.

If you have never pre-ordered an ebook before, not to worry. The bookseller takes your order but doesn’t charge you until the date (September 14th in this case) when the book actually becomes available. It’s a good way to be sure your copy is reserved, and that you’ll get a dollar off when it is delivered. Nice.

Posted in Dinosaur Country | Comments Off on Pre-Order Dinosaur Wars 4 and save a buck!

Dinosaur Tales free on Amazon today

Look out!Ever had one of those days when playing dodge’em with a charging Pachyrhinosaurus longicornus was your only option for a little excitement? Yeah. Me too.

But now you’ve got an alternative. Let Kit Daniels dodge that pachyrhino while you read a book on the beach or by the pool.

Which book? How about a book in which Kit Daniels dodges a pachyrhinosaurus? That could work.

Today and tomorrow, Amazon–the T rex of booksellers–is running a special on my ebook, Dinosaur Tales, in which Kit carries off her spectacular stunt. You can’t beat the price, $0.00. No need to even own a Kindle reader. You can download it to your computer.

No more fretting that the makers of Jurassic World didn’t bother to publish a print version of their film. Now you can get your quota of dinosaur-stomping fiction at no cost. That’s cheap!

And more good news, this time for those who read my books on Nook, iPad, iPhone and other devices: versions for all of those other readers will be released in just a few weeks, with a targeted release date of September 14.

Once again, here’s the link to get Dinosaur Tales from Amazon. Note: Amazon has all kinds of deals including their Kindle Unlimited for free. But look just below that for the tiny little link that says “$0.00 to buy.” That’s the one.

Posted in Dinosaur Country | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Dinosaur Tales free on Amazon today