Songs of Joy

ParijeeWe have forest on two sides of us up here on Cougar Mountain. The seasons are right on schedule, with very heavy growth of green foliage and incredible amounts of salmonberries (finished now) and red elderberries (just finishing). The birds are gorging themselves: song sparrows, goldfinches, band-tailed pigeons, spotted towhees, crows, parijees (Swainson’s thrush), western tanangers, chickadees, and dark-eyed juncoes, not to mention those awesome songsters, the Douglas Squirrels, who seem particularly vocal in the cedars all around us this year. The deer and bunnies have neglected to molest our flowers, presumably because of all the lush foliage everywhere they turn. And, what with the pattern of heatwave, drizzle, heatwave, drizzle, the white fungus that usually strikes the forest in late spring is completely missing in action this year.

Doug SquirrelAll the leaves are still bright spring green and shiny. And the birds and squirrels are bursting with song–Shelley says they are singing out with the joy of being alive in such a fine and lovely place. The parijee songs are awesome soaring flute concertos in the forest canopy. The Douglas squirrels chirp and chitter in counterpoint, often timing their calls to those of the parijees. Enchanting!

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“A Dangerous Breed” re-published!

Skull DogIt’s a scary world we live in. And it just got scarier.

Just released this week is a revised version of one my oldest and creepiest short stories, “A Dangerous Breed.”

This chilling tale has just the right amount of cooling for one of those hot “dog days” of summer. Imagine getting shivers up and down your spine while basking on a chaise lounge on a resort beach. This one will take you there.

Most people worry about getting GMOs in their food. But how many people worry about becoming food for GMOs? That’s right, these gene-altered canines have a great liking for mankind, and I don’t mean the run-and-fetch-the-ball kind of liking. More like, “Mmmm-mmmmm tasty!”

As is so often the case, Dr. Peyton McKean is called in on this case long after the cat is out of the bag–or in this case, the dog. I mean coyote. I mean, well, maybe you should read the story and find out all about what I mean.

If you happen to have already read this chiller when it came out five years ago, you still ought to give it a look. I added 33% to the length of the story to fill in more detail and make it just a little more scary–and believable. I even found a way to add a twist of happy ending to it. If you’re wondering how that could be possible when hungry, hyper-intelligent canines are running amok in the deserts of Eastern Washington, then definitely have a look. The Hound of the Baskervilles was a lap dog compared to these pooches!

Finally, let me point out that my publisher, normally so tight-fisted with money, has seen fit to make “A Dangerous Breed” available FREE for a limited time in Kindle, Nook, iBook and other formats. You can get your copy in several different ways. First of all, if you click this link, you can sign onto my author mailing list, which will keep you informed of other deals like this in the future. Once that’s done, you’ll be given a link to get the free copy. People who are already on my mailing list can get their copy by contacting me directly, because they already have an email connection to me (list membership hath its privileges).

So there you have it. Cool those hot summer doldrums down to industrial-strength refrigeration levels–if you dare!

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The Duwamish In Me

Old DuwamishSeattle’s Native American Tribe, the Duwamish, features prominently in several of my novels and short stories. I have a strong affinity to the original people of my hometown and to the river that bears their name. Duwamish, or more properly, Dwf’Du’Absh, means “People of the Inside.” The name’s origins are obscure but it probably refers to their village’s location inside Elliott Bay where it was sheltered from the prevailing storm winds by the headlands of West Seattle. Another possibility is that the village was directly between the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. Furthermore, Elliott Bay is midway along the length of Puget Sound, so the village was at the geographic center of the region, and also at the center of the ancient trade and travel networks that coursed through it. The Duwamish were, and are, very much a people of the inside.

So, how did I come by my strong affection for the Duwamish? I’ve got no Duwamish blood in me that I know of, but I still feel a kinship to the tribe. Most significantly to me is one of my earliest childhood memories. There’s not much to it but a brief flashback. I was about three years old, and was getting a severe scolding from my mother for having once again tracked mud into the house and onto the carpet.

That mud was Duwamish River mud. I was in big trouble for two reasons. First, as I mentioned, I had soiled the carpet once again. And second and most importantly, my mother had warned me severely against going down to the riverside alone–she feared I might fall in and drown. But I was a plucky little kid and hard to discourage from something that fascinated him. We lived in a government housing project that had been built on the banks of the Duwamish, on land once occupied by the longhouses of the tribe. I would scamper among the many long, low apartment buildings of the complex to get to the river, where I never tired of tossing sticks and rocks into the smoothly flowing muddy waters. But my little sneakers paid the price, often getting globbed up with river mud.

So the connection I feel to the tribe lies in my earliest memories. I grew from an infant to a small rambunctious boy in the exact place the tribe called home before the 1850s brought American culture, strife, and diseases that nearly annihilated them. The link I share with the Duwamish Tribe comes from our common place of origin.

Come to think of it, the South Park Housing Project’s long, single-story buildings—each with several apartments where families lived in the same building—now seem reminiscent of the longhouses that predated them on the same spot. And like those longhouses, the project’s buildings are all long gone. Paved lots and large concrete warehouses now coldly reflect on the river’s waters. So I am like the Duwamish people in that way, too. My home place is no more.

But the Duwamish River remains. The banks where I once played like generations of Duwamish children before me, those banks still exist. And the river still rolls by placidly. Some things never change.

I have written about the Duwamish People in my short story, Blood Tide, and in my most recent novel, Rainier Erupts. To research these works, I have attended Lushootseed language classes at the Duwamish Tribal Museum. In that new building overlooking the Duwamish River I found tribe members to be welcoming, warm, and helpful to me even though I am formally an outsider to their community. Perhaps they sense as I do that my origins give me a special kind of kinship with them. I am, after all, one of those people whose earliest childhood memories are of playing beside the Duwamish River.

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Tales of Bravery and Heroes

Purple HeartOn this day dedicated to fallen heroes, it’s worth considering how much we owe them and how much we owe those who served and survived their ordeals. The notion that we may live in peace and security is founded on their personal acceptance of risk, hardship, injury, and even death.

My novels and short stories nearly always deal with heroes and heroism. I come from a family with a long tradition of military service. I am surrounded by soldiers, sailors, and airmen, living or existing now only in memory, who took up the weapons of war. Each one, I am sure, bore those weapons not with dreams of glorious conquest, but with thoughts of obligation, service to others, and hope for lasting peace.

In my stories I often delve into the hearts and minds of warriors, not so much to extoll their ferocity in battle, but to examine their thoughts of home, their reasons for fighting, and their love of those they strive to defend or rescue.

In RAINIER ERUPTS! I focus on military rescue helicopter pilots and their crews, flying into life-threatening situations to save victims of a volcanic cataclysm. In HERBERT HOPP’S STORY I followed my Uncle Herb’s World War II experience in a torpedo bomber shot down onto a jungle island after striking a Japanese warship. Herb was the only man to return alive and he bore physical and emotional scars for a lifetime. Even in my science fiction series DINOSAUR WARS, much of the action keys on brave Captain Victor Suarez, whose tank troop faces an overwhelming invasion even while they are uncertain their families are safe from attack at home.

Time and again, my stories enter the hearts and minds of warriors on the side of good, whose dearest wish is to live in peace but whose mission is to fight–and perhaps to die.

On this Memorial Day 2016, it’s worth contemplating words penned in 1913 by Katherine Lee Bates in the second verse of America The Beautiful. These words say much about the men and women who take upon themselves the honored mantle of the warrior:

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

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What if Mount Rainier Erupts?

Blow up!I’ve got some scary news. If Mount Rainier erupts, it could spread glowing hot ashflows as far as Tacoma, or into the suburbs of Seattle and Olympia Washington.

Now, I don’t mean to make anyone lose sleep over this, because all the volcanologists of the world agree Rainier is not likely to blow up in our lifetimes. But um, er, what if it did?

Things would get pretty messed up for many miles around. That red circle on the map is measured at a 43-mile radius from the peak of Mount Rainier. And 43 miles is the greatest distance that a hot ashflow, also called a pyroclastic flow, traveled from Mount Mazama. From Mount Who, you ask?

Mount Mazama was the tall volcano that existed once where Crater Lake now lies in a hole in the ground in Southern Oregon. Seven thousand years ago, that mighty peak annihilated itself in a cataclysmic series of explosions that turned its 12,000 foot tall mass into hot, pulverized detonations of rock, ash, steam, and death that blanketed the land around it with deep piles of red-hot dust and rock.

Native Americans who witnessed the horrors of it all — and survived — have passed the legends of the event down through time to present day tribes, although they transformed the story into an epic battle between the god of the underworld and the sky god.

Someday, Rainier may blow its top in a similar way. And from that day forward the legends of the survivors will grow.

I have anticipated such tales in my new book, RAINIER ERUPTS! If you’d like a first-hand look at what that day of disaster might bring, then grab a copy by following this LINK. It’s available in ebook and paperback versions. And I promise — the horror and heroism I have described in detail will shock and amaze you.

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News Flash! Hydroplane Outraces Volcanic Eruption!

Go! Go! Go!This just in. Intrepid waterborne speedster Jerry Gregson outraced a tidal wave caused by a volcanic eruption and survived! Not only that, but he set a world speed record doing it. How’s that for having a nice day at the racecourse?

What’s that, you say? No one has ever outraced a tsunami in a hydroplane?

Well, there is a first time for everything. In my new novel Rainier Erupts! just such a thing happens because, well, I wrote it that way. I just combined a few facts I know well and came up with a storyteller’s dream.

Fact: My brother Jerry Hopp and his son Greg Hopp are champion race drivers in the super-hot field of Grand Prix Hydroplane racing. They just set the world speed record in their “Happy Go Lucky” race boat a few weeks ago, at over 170 miles per hour!

Fact: They both drive shiny yellow boats, the GP-12 and the GP-15, and each has more race trophies than they know what to do with. So I combined their names to come up with the fictitious character Jerry Gregson. Pretty clever, huh?

Fact: Rainier is not a dormant volcano. It is an active one. Sure, it’s been lazy for the last five hundred years or so, but give it a little more time and it’ll prove how active it is. And past eruptions have flooded nearby valleys with hot lava and mudflows that surged into nearby lakes and Puget Sound, causing tidal waves.

Hence my fact-based saga of a race driver in a near-death experience with a tidal wave on Seattle’s hydroplane racecourse.

If you can’t bring yourself to believe it, then it might help if you got a copy of the book, just released last week as a paperback and in Kindle, Nook, iBook, and other versions. Click this LINK and it will take you to where you can grab a copy at the still-reduced price of $1 off. Hurry. Like the lull in Rainier’s record of eruptions, this offer won’t last much longer.

My thanks go out to Chris Denslow, who took the picture of Jerry flying over the water in his race boat. The snapshot of the mountain is mine.

If you would like news of my next thriller release, to be announced later this year, join my newsletter mailing list at the link above.

Happy Reading!

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Rainier Erupted a week ago

AmazonEruptsAll righty! It’s been a week since the launch of Rainier Erupts!, my new thriller about a rather nasty day in the Seattle/Tacoma area.

And I’m proud to announce that the book did remarkably well in its first week of existence. While it didn’t run up the charts all the way to number one, it made it to number 11 on Amazon’s Kindle category lists. That’s a delight for me. One step away from the top ten bestselling books in its category. Sure, I would have liked to see it up a bit higher, but this isn’t over just yet.

And there’s another thing to crow about. As the image shows, Rainier Erupts! was recognized on the Amazon web site as a “Hot New Release.” That means somewhere in the massive empire that is Amazon my book got noticed by actual people. Let’s hope it gets more of that kind of attention in the future.

In the days since its first run up to prominence Rainier Erupts! has settled down a bit. It’s back to number 57 as I write this. But it can rise again, and I’m sure it will.

There are many ways a book can rebound and head up the charts again. Like word-of-mouth. That’s where people who have read it and liked it recommend it to their friends. And the feedback I’m getting so far is, yep, people are reading it and liking it. So if they follow through and tell family and friends, then Rainier Erupts! will rise up the charts again. More slowly this time, but more lastingly.

So, how’s about a little help here? If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of the ebook or paperback, get one today. And if you have a copy, don’t forget to write and post a review on Amazon or another bookseller site. Every review helps. The first reviews to come in have been running very positive, but the more the merrier.

Right now, the ebook versions at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and elsewhere are still a dollar off the retail price of $3.99 ($2.99 if you don’t have a calculator app handy). Here’s a LINK to find your favorite version.

So far, this book launch is going pretty well. With your help, it can do even better.

Thanks. And Happy Reading!
-Tom Hopp

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Rainier Erupts! —Today!

Mountain go boomThis is the day of the big event! My new novel, Rainier Erupts! is available everywhere in ebook and paperback formats. You can grab a copy by following this LINK to a page where all versions are listed.

Imagine being in Seattle or Tacoma as Rainier explodes with the power of a hundred atom bombs. Imagine the searing heat of pyroclastic flows like those that buried Pompeii. Imagine vast lahar mudflows that fill valleys around the mountain to overflowing.

Yeah. You’re starting to get the idea.

Now imagine families fleeing in terror. And imagine heroic rescuers rushing toward—not away from—the catastrophe. This one’s a guaranteed heart-stopping page turner.

Rainier Erupts! has already started climbing the bestseller charts. Why not help it on its way up by buying it at a dollar off its list price, only $2.99 for the ebook? I’d greatly appreciate your help making this book a hit, and every purchase today, launch day, has the biggest impact on rankings. So won’t you take a moment and help me on my quest for the number one spot?

Here’s that LINK again where you can find Rainier Erupts! in any format you choose.

Happy reading!

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Rainier Erupts! Launch Date: Tomorrow!

Splat!Here it comes! The Big Event is about to happen. Rainier Erupts! will be released by my publisher tomorrow, Tuesday, April 12th. All the signs point to an explosive event. There are even rumblings that it may hit number one in the charts. You can help make that happen by grabbing your copy on launch day.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like if Seattle and Tacoma were turned into modern-day equivalents of Pompeii and Herculaneum, then you’re gonna like this book. And if you have ever wondered if heroic rescuers would rally to save desperate victims, then look no further. This book has got it all.

And the truth is, it all could happen. The explosive force pent up within Mount Rainier is much larger than Vesuvius. Much larger than Mount Saint Helens when it blew up. In fact, Mount Rainier has been acknowledged as one of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth by the United Nations.

Prepare to have your mind blown as Rainier demonstrates its awesome power and people flee for their lives by the millions. And prepare to be gratified by how bravely helicopter rescuers, firemen, police and military personnel respond to the catastrophe.

And one last thing. Please prepare to help me make this book a chart-topping hit. If you take the time to buy it tomorrow (or as soon as you can after that date if you miss it) then Rainier Erupts! will have a chance of hitting number one in its category. It’s already close, based on pre-orders. Let’s make it go all the way.

For a limited time, the ebook price is $2.99, a dollar off the normal retail price. Here’s a link to a page where you can click to any version you would like to buy. But remember to wait until Tuesday, so your purchase will add to the launch-day total. Thanks in advance for your help!

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Rainier Erupts! One week from launch.

Rainier Erupts ImageExcitement is building like the pent-up fury inside a rumbling volcano. Rainier Erupts! is just one week from its release date, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. And it has all the signs of a massive explosion.

I have been doing everything in my power to get the word out, but you can help me do more. In fact, if we work together, we can make this a truly earth-shaking event.

The biggest way you can help is to buy the book on its release date, April 12th. You see, if enough people buy it on that particular day, then it will have a good chance of rising high in Amazon’s book ratings. And if enough people join the effort, we might even get it all the way to the top spot—an Amazon #1 best-selling book! Wouldn’t that be something? And it’s entirely do-able. And the same applies to other formats like iBooks, Nook books, Kobo, E-Reader, etc. So make plans to pitch in and help, okay?

Now, you can already pre-order the book, but it’s best to wait until the 12th to hit the sweet spot of the official release date. That’s when the most copies usually get downloaded. So make a note to buy it then and I’ll be eternally grateful for your help.

You can learn more about the book and its various ebook and paperback versions on this PAGE. You’ll note that its pre-order price is one dollar off the retail price, but never fear. If you wait and order it on April 12, I have it on good authority that the price will not jump up on that day.

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