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Spring Cover

The website cover picture this month was taken by award winning photographer Tim Swaan captured the picture that now graces the cover of the website. Tim is from The Netherlands, but he loves to travel and the picture shown here was taken in at Whangarei Falls in New Zealand. From other pictures he has taken I know that Tim likes the image of a road or path going away from the viewer. I like his style and thankfully he has made this picture available for our use.

You can find more about previous cover photos here.

He also takes pictures

I often know little about the photographers of our cover pictures.

Several times I have lamented about that in this blog. Today is different. The month’s cover is a detail of a larger photograph taken by Sebastien Gabriel. Originally from France, Sebastien joined Google and moved to the United States in 2012. Sebastien describes himself as a senior designer working on Chrome and Chrome OS and, he says, “I also take pictures.” You can read more about how a young man from France came to work for Google, here. You can more of his photographs, along with all of the one I took a detail from, on his Unsplash page.

You can find more about previous cover photos here

A Look Forward

I like to look forward this time of year.

The first website cover picture of the year was snapped by Paul Itkin. Unfortunately, I know nothing more about him. However, it is with his beautiful picture that I begin my own 2016 journey.

While every look forward is seen through a dark glass, I like to imagine what I’ll get done in the coming months and what my life will be like as the year winds down. I usually write my goals and post them near my desk. This year I thought I’d share some thoughts about the coming year with all of you.

1. Complete the first book in a new series. This project is so new the novel doesn’t have a name and neither does the series. However, right now it is planned as a three book series dealing with the issue of electromagnetic pulse. In the first novel, storms on the sun throw off massive Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that hit Earth over a twenty-four hour period. The resulting electromagnetic pulses set technology across the planet back a hundred years. You can read more about this upcoming novel on the projects page of the website.

2. Complete the second book in the Guardian Knights series. This may seem strange since the first book doesn’t yet have a release date, but I have good reasons. Seekers of Earth, the first book in this science fiction series, is a 39,000 word prequel that ends in a cliffhanger. I can imagine the angry reader reaction if they read that book and the second novel wasn’t available. So, my plan is to release the second novel, Recall the Earth, at the same time as the first book. That will happen this year, but we don’t yet know when. You can read more about this series on the projects page of the website.

3. Write 130,000 words in 2016. Last year I set a goal of completing four manuscripts and writing 120,000 words. I completed three of the projects and wrote nearly 128,000 words. The Long Walk Home, a short story in the Strengthen What Remains setting, will be completed this year. In addition to The Long Walk Home, I plan to complete the two projects listed above, and finish editing another short story in the Strengthen What Remains series, Nightmare in Slow Motion. I estimate that will entail writing 130,000 words during the next twelve months.

4. Release the Strengthen What Remains omnibus edition. Due for release in April, this ebook will include Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, Braving the Storms and two short stories, Nightmare in Slow Motion and The Long Walk Home. You can read more about the short stories on the projects page of the website.

5. More book promotions. The only book promotion of 2015 was tied to the release of Braving the Storms. My 2016 goal is to have three book promotions. At least two tied to the Strengthen What Remains series in February/March and September/October. The third one will be tied to the release of the Guardian Knights books. We don’t have a date for the third one but, what this means for you is, more chances to buy my books at a discount.

6. Update the website cover pictures regularly. This is a minor thing, but last year I used five different website cover pictures and changed them at irregular intervals. I have many beautiful pictures available, so this year I want to change them during the first week of each month. Stop by at least every four weeks to  enjoy the new cover image.

My wife looked over this blogpost, as she does with most of my writing, and said, “People don’t have time to read long blogposts.”

Sigh. Perhaps she’s right.

7. Make shorter blogposts.

Find previous cover pictures here.

Merry Christmas

This month’s cover picture is a special one, for a special time of year.

Usually these blogposts are about the pictures, but not this one. As we gather together to celebrate the birth of Christ, I like to reflect upon the blessings of family and faith.  

The cover page of my website is titled, “Finding the narrow path to hope and survival.” Readers of the New Testament will probably spot the Biblical allusion. My books are written for the general audience, but I am a Christian. I don’t try to hide my faith, but it is usually a subplot, more hinted at than explicit. I enjoy writing about good people, but usually not Christians, searching for answers in extraordinary, even post-apocalyptic, situations. My characters search for a means to survive, but they also search for answers to the bigger questions. I know I search for answers. I think we all do.

Over the years my family has strengthened my faith. I haven’t always been a good Christian, but I have been a believer. In those times that I search for direction, my wife has been the lighthouse that guided me. She has also been the one to instill Christian values in our children. Together, as a family, we shine the light down the narrow path for each other. I am very blessed.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year because of faith and family. I hope it is for all my readers. Merry Christmas!

Find previous cover pictures here.

The Cover Question

Why not let us know more about the picture?

That is the question I have for photographers. I can understand that photographers post pictures so people can see, enjoy and use them, but many post fantastic pictures with little information. Why not tell us the date and location of the shot? Why not add a bio section to your website?

That is the problem with this month’s picture. The photographer is Caleb Ralston. You can see this and many others superb pictures on his website. Unfortunately there is no bio on the site and he didn’t respond when I tried to contact him.

It’s a great picture. I just wish I knew more.  

Find previous cover pictures here.  

Under the Northwest Sky

Meteors and the Milky Way over Mount Rainier.

I know much more about this month’s cover picture than I did about the previous cover. Photographer Matthew Dieterich captured this image just a few weeks ago near Mt. Rainier in my home state of Washington. I wish I had known he would be practicing his skills so near my home. I would have enjoyed meeting him. However, he’s probably already back home in Pittsburgh.

In addition to the mountain, several meteors of the recent Perseid shower are visible, along with one band of the Milky Way galaxy arcing over the snow-covered peak. Clearly, Matthew is a very talented man.  

You can learn more about Matthew Dieterich on his Website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

Find previous cover pictures here.

Love the Picture

I know very little about this month’s cover photo, except that I like it.

The photographer is Grant McIver a graphic designer based in Sydney, Australia. I see the image as taken at dawn. While it is a dark, stark and simple photo, for me it captures the beauty of both the coming dawn and the waning night sky.

You can learn a little bit more about Grant on his website and Twitter feed.

The New Cover

A few weeks ago, I received a call from the principal of Eek School.

Eek is a Yup’ik, Eskimo, village 415 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska. Starting in 2007, I taught in the village school for seven years. Because it is a small village of 300 people, I quickly learned the name, and background, of nearly every student.

Everyone from pre-school to high school seniors are in one ten room building. Most of the time, I worked with small groups of students of various ages. However, the first year I taught a class of mostly sixth grade students. I watched them grow over the years from children, to teens and verging on adulthood. This year, in the largest graduation from in memory, eight students would receive their diploma from the school.

That’s why Brett, the principal of Eek School, called me a few weeks ago. Most of the students from my original sixth grade class would be graduating and, they wanted me to be there and speak at the ceremony.

I was excited to be back in the village, see so many friends and, most of all, to see these eight students graduate.  

Back: Shawn Cingliaq Alexie and Evon Apataq White

Third Row: Terrance Cingarkaq Henry and Gerald Putuk Brown

Second Row: Florence Akuqaq Moore

First Row: Timothy Cirunaq Heakin, Christian Angassaq Pleasant and Frank Callaq Carter.

They are the students on the new cover of the website. I wish you all the very best as you begin your adult lives.

I’ll be writing more about Eek, the school and these graduates in the coming days.