Archive for April, 2016

What’s On A Disaster Junkie’s Bookshelf?

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Hey all,

The other day I did a video blog on the disaster books that are on my bookshelf. Well, part of the disaster books I have. Check out my video and get the scoop on some of the intriguing books on disasters that are on my shelf!

I would’ve imbedded the video here but for some reason it wouldn’t work! Have no idea why. Click here to get to the video and thanks so much!







Strange Earthquake Lights: A Disaster Junkie Looks At The Facts

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Mother Earth is a huge mystery, and earthquakes are one of her monstrous, most terrifying personality traits. As a writer I’ve gained a tremendous respect for what she can do.

I’ve never been in an earthquake. Not even a mild one. In fact, when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake happened in New Mexico in June 2014, many people in my part of Arizona felt the shake. In our house we didn’t feel a thing. I’ll admit there was a twisted part of me that wishes I had felt it.

When I decided to write Love From The Ashes way back in the day, I wanted to make sure I could still convey what it felt like to be there that day in April 1906. If I’d been there I might have seen some bizarre lights.

This phenomena has been reported in many earthquakes, sometimes before, during and after the event. Sometimes the lights form shapes like auroras with a white to bluish hue but they’ve also been reported in other colors. They can last seconds or minutes.

Way back in the day these types of reports were often looked at as fiction. People just didn’t have the proof to show others. During the 2007 Peru earthquake these lights were seen above the sea and actually filmed. During the 2009 L’Aquila, Italy quake people saw four inch flames of light flickering above a stone street just before an earthquake.

Do people see these lights during every quake? No. The lights seem to happen most often when a quake is at least 5 on the Richter scale or higher. In the 1906 San Francisco quake a man was running along a shoreline when the earthquake hit and realized a luminous glow encircled his footsteps in the sand. Other people also reported seeing a faint rainbow of light.

Research is ongoing and quite a few theories are running around out there. Quartz rocks may give off what is called piezoelectricity when they are rubbed together. Another theory is that a magnetic field is created by tectonic stress. (Hey it gets a lot more complicated…I’m just giving you the quick and dirty.)

If you’re interested in reading more about these weird lights, there is plenty of information on the Internet you can read from legitimate sources. Earth Science is an amazing field with only a part of it devoted to earthquakes. There is so much to learn!

Stop by the Love From The Ashes book page for a blurb, excerpt and links to purchase. This book is only 99 cents right now. Grab it while you can. And thank you!

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Blackout: Could You Survive? A Disaster Junkie Looks At The Facts

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Back when I researched the science for Blackout, I ran into something that shouldn’t have surprised me but did. Even after I’d done my research, talked with electrical engineers, read books on solar flare, I discovered not all scientists agreed what would happen during an X-class solar flare (Electro Magnetic Pulse/Coronal Mass Ejection).

While I did my research, I also knew I was writing fiction and not a science book. We never know how the world will react to a global disaster…especially people!

Here’s a quick excerpt from Blackout to give you just a taste of how things go for the hero and heroine in Blackout right after they hear an X-class solar flare is coming their way.

* *

“That’s all we’ve got?” the man standing near Griff said in an angry tone, as if Griff could change the truth. “Three days?”

Cassie saw Griff’s reaction, the subtle impatience in his eyes. Griff restrained himself and kept his tone even. “Could be less.”

“Jesus,” another man said, this guy older. He put his arm around his wife. “End times.”

Cassie winced, wanting to berate the man for going that far. But she didn’t want an argument and it wouldn’t help anything. Besides the fact her heart hadn’t stopped banging against her ribcage since they’d read the closed captioning. Penny had quickly taken the television off mute and closed captioning.

Cassie’s mind kept flashing back to the tsunami all those years ago, and a horrible sense of déjà vu threatened to unhinge her hard-won stability.

The reporter, looking scared shitless, had given the breaking news. The gasps that had gone up around the room had evaporated into weeping among a couple of the younger women. Several couples had rushed off, not saying where they were going to or why. That left Penny, Griff, Cassie and the much smaller group of ten.

“One to three days is a hell of a lot better than nothing.” Griff’s voice sounded brusque but calm. “There are things we can do to mitigate this situation.”

The reporting went on, and it didn’t matter which channel Penny checked. They all said the same thing. Another reporter already had a so-called expert sitting in the studio with him.

“Dr. Abrams, thank you so much for being with us here today. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of very frightened people out there. But first can you explain to them exactly what is happening?” the reporter asked.

Dr. Abrams, a middle-aged man with a dark beard and glasses, looked very calm. “Henry, this is indeed a serious situation. The NOAA Prediction Center in Boulder has given notice that a geomagnetic storm could put us in extreme danger.” The roughness in his voice didn’t betray nervousness. “We have about one to three days before the electromagnetic pulse occurs as a result of a coronal mass ejection from the sun. What is called an X-class event.”

“And what does that mean, doctor?” the reporter asked.

Dr. Abrams looked grim. “There is more than one stage to this. First stage is the actual solar flare, second is the radiation storm, and the second is the coronal mass ejection. The ACE satellite launched in ninety-seven by NASA monitors the parameters of solar events and solar winds, the polarity.”

“In layman’s terms what does that mean for us?” the reporter asked.

“Without some immediate preparation such as a controlled shut down of the grid to minimize damage, we’ll have a hell of a mess on our hands. Radio and electricity may be gone through the destruction of electrical circuits. Microchips will fry. Power lines will overload. Cars, computers, subways, cell phones, and airplanes may or may not work…with the exception of special military planes designed to withstand EMP.”

“There goes that new iPhone I bought last week,” a middle-aged man in a suit said just before he rushed out of the front door of the hotel.

“When it gets here we can expect power outages,” the expert on television said. “My guess is that several grids will be shut down in advance of the EMP to make sure there is less damage to the infrastructure. That in itself is good news. But there are large transformers that could be totally destroyed. High voltage transmission would build up, and when that happens it goes into the transformers and destroys whole grids. And it takes eighteen months minimum to make one of these transformers.”

“Eighteen months,” a woman near Cassie whispered, her voice struck with horror.

“Dr. Abrams, aren’t there quite a few of our electronics which can survive this stuff?” the reported asked.

Dr. Abrams stroked his beard for a moment. “People already prepared for this sort of thing will fare the best. Survivalists and preppers who’ve built Faraday cages to protect electronic devices. They have enough food, water, and supplies to take them into the next few years or more. Those are the only people prepared for what will happen.”

“What about transportation?” the reporter asked.

“Transportation will be a nightmare. There’s controversy about which cars would work and which ones won’t. Commercial airlines should shut down operations to make certain their communications aren’t compromised and that no planes fall out of the sky. “

“What’s a Faraday cage, doctor?” the reporter asked.

“It absorbs or reflects electrical charge and preserves the electronics within whatever device it’s protecting,” the doctor said.

“How long could it take us to recover from something like this?” the reporter asked.

“Full recovery of infrastructure could take up to ten years.”

Now the reporter looked disconcerted, his calm facade cracking a bit as his voice went husky. “Shouldn’t we have been better prepared for this?”

“Shit,” Griff said in a disgusted tone so low Cassie figured only she could hear him. “Here it comes. The finger pointing.”

Dr. Abrams said, “We can never be fully prepared for this. Perfection isn’t possible.”

* *

I won’t tell you how the world or the characters in Blackout survive (or don’t). ‘Cause that would be tellin’.

You can grab a copy of Blackout now for 99 cents at


Barnes and Noble





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Earthquakes: Before and After

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Because today is the 110th. anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, I decided I’d blog today about the event rather than tomorrow as I’d normally planned.

Unfortunately, last week Japan, Equador and Tonga all suffered earthquakes. Each of these countries will take time to recover. In my novel, Love From The Ashes, I touch on the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, which destroyed a large part of that city and other surrounding communities.

Last week’s earthquakes reminded me of the scenes of San Francisco that were immortalized on film only a short time before the disaster. This You Tube video, however, shows only a portion of the now famous Market Street footage take days before the disaster. It also shows some film of the fire, buildings falling and other scenes from after the earthquake.

If you want the full version of the Market Street video pre disaster, get a drink and settle in for the whole thing. What this fun film shows is that life was in many ways as hustle and bustle as it is now.

This YouTube video gives you a look at some of the damage afterwards.

Sending good thoughts, love and healing to all those in Japan, Equador and Tonga who’ve suffered through these latest quakes.

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Did You Know? 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Disaster Relief

Friday, April 15th, 2016

When I did research for my book Love From The Ashes in 1998, it took me longer to research facts than it would today. The Internet was around but I was also researching while I lived in England. I had to pay so much per minute to use the phone line to connect to the Internet. So you can guess how little I used the Internet for my research.

I can’t believe it’s been that many years since I started writing the book. Writing these blogs has given me an education because there are so many things I’ve already forgotten about the history of that disaster.

One tidbit that would surprise most people is who sent the United States aid when the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire devastated the city. Of course many places and organizations across the U.S. sent aid. President Theodore Roosevelt said the government wouldn’t transmit money to San Francisco from foreign nations. The following countries, though, sent money anyway:

Japan $244,060.10 (Japanese Red Cross & Government)

Canada $145,412.65

China $40,000.00

France $21,235.08

Mexico $14,480.31

England $6,570.88

Cuba $734.30

Australia $385.96

Russia $199.02

Scotland $50.40

Austria $50.00

Belgium $50.00

Germany $50.00

Ceylon $32.33

Amazing information, isn’t it? Come back next week to find out a new tidbit on my research.

If you’d like to grab a copy of Love From The Ashes while it’s on sale, you can grab copies at:


Barnes and Noble



You can also find an excerpt at Love From The Ashes.


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Disaster Junkie: Inspiration For Blackout

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Since I announced that Where’s Lucy? Productions had optioned Blackout and Love From The Ashes for film/TV, a couple of people observed that both stories deal in some way with natural disasters. But wait. Yes, I’m frequently interested in writing stories which include natural or unnatural disasters (a trilogy I haven’t published yet includes all of those things). Yet the first spark of inspiration for Blackout wasn’t a massive solar flare that takes out grid. It was a house in my neighborhood. Yeah, that’s right.

Anyone who knows me well understand that I’m more likely than not to mix genres in some weird ways. Blackout is no exception. Here’s where the house in my neighborhood comes into the picture.

I walk my dog twice a day. On one of the streets was an empty house with serious vibes to it. This house didn’t have bad vibes really, but it had that undeniable atmosphere you find when a home hasn’t been occupied for a long time. The yard went wild and scraggly each winter, up to and including these rosebushes that would bloom as soon as spring came. Whoever owned the house (but didn’t live in it), would have the yard cleaned up once or twice a year. One day an idea just jumped into my head. What if the house was haunted? What if the yard, with its wildly crazy rosebushes, continued to grow and do strange things even when the owners had been gone many years?

Bam. The idea for Blackout came from those few thoughts. A germination of an idea that spawned a twisted paranormal romance featuring a haunted house, a solar flare taking out the grid, and the weird things humans get up to when faced with disaster.

There you have it. A tiny tidbit of what got me started on the Blackout journey.

If you’d like to get a copy of Blackout you can snag it now for 99 cents at the following retailers:


Barnes and Noble


For additional retailers click here.

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Happy Reading!

Earthquake. Fire. Saving Their Love From The Ashes.

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Welcome to a new series of blogs filled with tidbits about my historical romance Love From The Ashes and interesting observations both sci-fi, science fact and paranormal about my post apoc romance Blackout. Each week I’ll blog on Tuesday and Friday about these books.

I’m celebrating not only the fact that Where’s Lucy? Productions recently optioned these books for film/TV, but also that they’re now on sale for only 99 cents each! How cool is that?

Today I’m chatting a little bit about Love From The Ashes.

Down in my bones historical romance has always been a favorite reading experience for me. I also love writing it! But you all know that I love to create historicals set in unique time periods you don’t often see. I’m a disaster junkie, so I’ve written (and will continue to write) stories set during disasters that have happened in the past. The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake has fascinated me since I was a child. In 2001 Love From The Ashes came out, and it’s been one of those book-of-my-heart experiences.

Before I started work on this book I soaked my head in that time period and also in every non-fiction book on the subject I could find. As I did my research I discovered many interesting historical situations that made it into my book. One fact that influenced my fiction was when I discovered that dozens of marriage licenses were taken out after the earthquake and fire happened.

That’s all for now, but be sure to come back next week (Tuesday) to hear about Blackout.

If you’d like to pick up Love From The Ashes for a super awesome price of 99 cents you can get it at several retailers including:


Barnes and Noble



You can also find an excerpt at Love From The Ashes.

Thank you and see you next week!

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Writing Myths Exposed

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen but didn’t start seriously considering writing for publication until about 1991. Over that time I’ve formed a lot of opinions about the writing world and publishing in general. Too many to express in one blog. The other day I looked over some old blogs and saw one from several years back I felt needs resurrection. In that blog I talked about myths I see perpetuated in the writing world over and over. I still believe these myths hold true to this day. They haven’t gone out of style. See what you think.

Writing Myths Exposed

Is there one right way to create fiction? Many people would have you believe there is. Or that there is a secret to being published. The answer is that despite everything people will tell you about how to write a book, or how not to write a book, you will find dozens of famous books that didn’t follow the rules. Rules, in the end, rarely seem to have anything to do with whether a book gets published. At the beginning of a writer’s career we’re told the rules make a difference. Do they? Sometimes. Sometimes not.

What are some of the rules that are tossed out to newbie romance writers? Well, here ya go. True or false?

You must plot every move in your fiction.

You must plot a book and know everything there is to know about the characters, their motivations, and their vulnerabilities before you start a book. After all, you can’t start a book free form and have it end up well.

False. If I can write a book without knowing all of this from the start, you might be able to as well. It depends on whether you are a pantser writer or not. If you’re a plotter at heart you probably feel more comfortable with plotting out a good chunk of what you want to have happen in the story before you start to write. If you’re a pantser you’re more comfortable with not having all this knowledge up front. In the end, many of us are a combination of pantser and plotter. Neither one is better than the other. As long as you’re writing and you’re staying creative that’s the only thing that matters. In other words…don’t worry about which one you are. If it works for you, it’s all good. Just write.

Alpha heroes never have any flaws or they have so many they might be a serial killer.

An alpha hero, or any hero for that matter, shouldn’t have any flaws. Or he can be what I call (yeah I’m going to curse), a total dominating asshole. Those are the two types of heroes the heroine must put up with and that most readers like.

False. As far as I’m concerned this is false, but some may disagree. I think a great alpha hero has flaws, but at the core he is not what I call an ass alpha. In other words, a man who treats the heroine like crap and she loves him for it. There is a balancing act between mean alpha and an alpha man who is softened by his code of honor, his belief in protecting women and children, and the simple fact that he’s not an ass when comes to dealing with the heroine. He’s still a good guy and not someone who enjoys inflicting emotional and physical abuse on women or children.

Heroines have so many flaws it ain’t funny or she has to be an alpha kick ass able to hang from trees like a monkey.

The heroine should be either totally vulnerable and act like a ninny and do stupid things, or be as invulnerable and impossible to relate to as Laura Croft.

False. Either direction is kinda overboard in my opinion. The heroine needs flaws and vulnerabilities as well. Just like the hero, she needs personality traits we can relate to. If she’s perfect I don’t want to read about her any more than I want to read about a hero who is perfect.

There’s a secret to being a best seller.

You should write exactly like NY Times best sellers because if you do, you’ll get published. False on the whole. Writing like anybody else, best seller or not, ends up making you sound like everyone else. I won’t lie to you. Homogenized writing sometimes rises to the top. It can also fail miserably. Plus, many writers discover their creativity drying up and blowing away after years of either writing a series that never ends or discovering they aren’t writing the stories they really want to write. Wouldn’t you rather write what you want to write now?

The real secret is…

So what’s the secret? There isn’t one. Publishing is a wild and crazy business with twists and turns big enough for any plot. My belief is that sticking to writing what you truly enjoy is going to keep you creative much longer than following a lot of “should” rules. Listen to your heart, keep your integrity, honor your creativity. What’s going to keep you creating for life?

Oh, and if you’re having trouble figuring that out, I might be able to help. You can find me at Creative Pen Coaching.


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