Monthly Archives: September 2014

Odile, Here It Comes

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When hot, humid air marches up from southern latitudes up to the atmosphere over Arizona, the Monsoon Season is in full bloom during summer months producing wild and violent thunderstorms.

In our local rag sheet newspaper, called The Daily Courier, I read a story this morning that water is being transferred from an at-capacity lake to a near capacity lake. I remember seeing both of those lakes a few weeks ago with exposed water scarred rock from quickly lowering water levels that now have been covered by the last several drenchers we had in our area recently. And by the time you may be reading this post we may very well be looking at a gully-washer or two roaring through Arizona from the remains of Hurricane Odile, a CAT 3 hurricane with 125mph winds when it devastated Cabo San Lucas on the tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.

Throughout my life I have been fascinated by the turbulent weather and the air envelope surrounding our planet. It seems that wherever you live or are reading this post you have some type of earth-shaking natural event always seeming to take apart your world. I have lived through tornados, severe thunderstorms, fires, earthquakes, mudslides, and Hurricane Ike.

Remember Hurricane Ike? That Cat 4 hurricane was alive from Sept. 1, 2008-Sept 14, 2008. It was the final straw for my wife and myself to finally say goodbye to Houston, TX. The hurricane made landfall in the middle of the night on the Texas Coast at Galveston at 2:10am. We lived north of the coast about 60 miles and heard Ike scream, literally, through our neighborhood. Electricity was immediately knocked out and would stay out for about 10 days. And the electricity was out in a wide circle from where we lived. More precisely, that meant no grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, banks, etc. etc. were open and able to provide goods and services.

The track of the hurricane, if you want to track its path on a map, from U.S. landfall shadowed Interstate-45, to due north. From Galveston up to almost Huntsville, TX as we drove that route to inspect the damage a wide swath of trees were flattened for as far as we could see. Millions of trees were uprooted and toppled over. A tree at our neighbor’s house split their house in two. A big tree in our backyard luckily tipped over to an empty lot behind us. Providence saved our house and our lives that night.

The winds from Hurricane Ike in 2008 topped out at 143mph (230km/h). 18 billions dollars of damaged resulted from those winds. Chewing through the Caribbean, Cuba…glancing past Mississippi, Florida with a direct hit to Houston, Texas, Hurricane Ike took 195 lives.

Hurricanes do take lives and property and create tremendous financial devastation. Now, Hurricane Odile will have been greatly downgraded when it hits Arizona. Nothing like Ike will occur here, but there will be damage. As I type this post, right now, the lead story on the local NBC news is about the preparation; the sand bag brigades hard at work, the warnings from Phoenix city officials going out…the “system” is getting ready for whatever comes our way. And so are we with the usual…extra food, water, batteries, change in plans. It may be just a series of powerful thunderstorms ejected from hurricane breakup that we experience here in central and northern Arizona, but you never know.

It funny about making plans, life always seems to intrude. But we humans are flexible and resilient. We’ll make it through. I hope that wherever you are and whatever you have to experience you make it through as well.

Fred F

…want some company today!

L&C Books

It’s been said a thousand times that writing can be a lonely business. I agree, but for me it is really fun and exciting to be able to create a story out of thin air.

When writing a historical novel like I am doing now with my latest manuscript, “The Feather” a fantasy novel about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, you do have a road map as to the timeline of the story. It has a definite beginning, middle and end. Of course with a fantasy novel about an actual historical event like the Lewis and Clark Expedition I do have some leeway as to where I can take my fantasy story. I can add elements of surprise, mystery, adventure, excitement, and plot twists. What I can’t change are the actual facts on the ground as to they happened during that momentous ultimate 2-year road trip into the unknown.

Luckily, the two Captains on that expedition, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as well as many other adventurers in that Corps of Discovery, wrote copious notes into their journals. But over the past two hundred and ten years, the expedition began in May, 2014 from St. Louis, MO, hundreds of books have been written about that adventure…hundreds. A few have been novels trying to recreate a narrative about what occurred during those long months lasting until 1806 as they documented discovery after discovery and presented the reality of the unexplored territory. Of course, the numerous Indian tribes and large population of native peoples knew about the indigenous species of plants and animals, but to the rest of the world it was all speculation.

For me as a writer describing what it was like to be on that expedition I have to be mindful of the detail that is essential to bring this story to life, as it actually happened, with my fictional dramatic twists of course. I have to describe accurately what the Corps of Discovery ate, how they were dressed, the condition of their camps, the journal descriptions of the relentless physical effort in crossing unforgiving landscapes. I can’t cheat or make up that detail just because I can as a writer of fiction. I have to be true to the events, environment, people and ultimate outcome of the expedition.

Ergo, the picture above. Ergo, why I am writing to all of you today. The amount of hours I am spending sloughing through all of this research seems unending. But I have to get it all right and correct for you. I’m not trying to elicit in this blog sympathy or a …”there, there, it will be okay in the end…” because I know it will all be okay in the end. I guess today, as I continue my work I just want a bit of company as I do my work. Because writing is a lonely business at times. Yes you are with your characters that you are writing about, but when you life your hands off the keyboard you realize it has just been you sitting in the room. There’s no one else around you.

The picture above shows just some of the books I  am researching to get the facts correct and true so I can weave my fantasy story around those facts. The computer file on my PC desktop is crammed full of downloads from repositories of historical facts describing the true historical events of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

I can only say that for me, this manuscript is a “Bigee” not necessarily in size but importance. I just don’t want to leave anything out that will help you the reader feel like you were actually there. Hemmingway once said when asked how to write successfully he said that the writer should describe the environment. What the characters were wearing. What the weather was like, of course in his own terse compact language and verbiage he was successful.

And that is what I am trying to do with my latest manuscript, “The Feather.” I want you to know what the weather was like during their excruciating slog through the Bitterroot Mountains, what they looked and smelled like when they finally stumbled into the Nez Perce tribe on the Oregon-Washington border, and the thrill and relief they all felt when Sacajawea suddenly realized the tribal Shoshone Chief she was translating for Captains Lewis and Clark was actually her brother that she hadn’t seen in years since she was abducted. The tears and hugging even moved the hardened Yankees sitting in that important tribal conference between the Corps of Discovery and the Shoshone.

Anyway, thank you for letting me vent. I am so excited and confident about my new project. I can hardly wait to get it to you. The working book cover is below.

By the way, or btw in computer shorthand, on the left side of the picture above…the statue holding up my books…yeah, that’s William Shakespeare. I use him for inspiration. Tnx.

FF

Lewis and Clark CoverRenna3-6-2014 copy

Slide Share Presentation Uploads Now Live

SlideShare Logo (2)

Heard of Slide Share? I didn’t until a few days ago.

I was listening to a podcast from Leslie Samuel at, www.becomeablogger.com. He is a great source of tips on how to maximize a blog…like this one. He casually said that writers and authors are using Slide Share to help promote their books. Did some investigation on Slide Share and found out they have about 60 million visitors to their site each month. Not as big as Facebook’s 1.3 billion, that’s right folks, 1.3  billion visitors/users per month, but for a target market that authors are seeking, why not.

The site  is basically a repository for PowerPoint presentations. You can upload jpegs and pdf files as well. What’s nice about SlideShare.net is that you can deliver a great deal of data on your presentation with pictures, text, video, graphs…all the great things that PowerPoint is known for.

So, that is what I just did. I uploaded three PowerPoint presentations onto Slide Share for both of my anthology books, “The SETI Trilogy” and my 12-book collection, “Visit the Zoo.” I’ve also uploaded a presentation to SlideShare for my “Grand Canyon,” a guide to the South Rim. Links are below, check them out and tell me what you think. Thanks.

Zoo-Cover-Slim-Collage-Collage-Renna
Click on image to go to SlideShare.net
SETI-Anthology-Cover-5-14-14-copy
Click on image to go to SlideShare.net
GC-Book-Base-Photo-copy
Click on image to go to SlideShare.net

Bye for now…Fred F