Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sometimes a Winner Finishes Last

Springfield News-Sun article:
WLS State Champ Lends a Helping Hand

Last week, our family of four piled into the car and spent the day at the Ohio High School State Track Meet, as we do every year. It was a little overcast, breezy and an unusually cool 70 degree day - a welcome change from the usual 90+ degrees when tens of thousands melt on the metal bleachers. Every year we get to see a few records go down. Luckily, since our kids graduated recently, we're still familiar with some of the athletes participating. This year was a special treat, though, because there was one of those great moments in life that I'll never forget.

Earlier in the day, Meghan Vogel of West Liberty Salem High School had won the Girls' Division III 1600 meter run in her first sub 5:00 minute performance ever, defeating a former state champ who she'd never beaten before that day. Humble and bubbling, she was beside herself with excitement afterwards. Later, she joined the entrants in the 3200 meter run, but by a few laps into the race it was apparent she'd expended her energy on the race of her life already and so she settled into the back of the field. The winner came across the line and one by one all the rest. Vogel was on the backstretch by then, in last place.

As Vogel came to the top of the homestretch, everyone in the stadium became focused on another runner, Arden McMath who, with less than 50 meters to go, stumbled, went down to the ground, got up and stumbled again. Fatigue had taken its toll. The officials rushed towards McMath, but then backed off. You see, if they had aided her in finishing, it was grounds for disqualification. So all they could do was wait and watch. As long as she was still moving, they were going to let her finish the race.

Behind her, Vogel closed the distance. McMath went down again. This time she didn't look like she was going to go on. Vogel stopped, lifted her up and helped her to her feet. McMath's arm slung over Vogel's shoulder, they walked step by step toward the finish line. The crowd came to its feet in applause. When the pair reached the line, Vogel let go of her and made sure that McMath stepped across the line first. Everyone glanced at the officials, waiting for the yellow flag to go up in the air, signalling a rule violation. It never did.

In the face of that selfless moment, the officials chose to publicly ignore a technicality and acknowledge the sportsmanship. I still get teary-eyed when I think of it. Vogel could have run past her and no one would have thought anything of it. The officials could have DQ'd both girls; they didn't.

It was a very noble moment on many fronts and I'm glad I was there to witness it.

Kind runner helps rival go the distance (The Columbus Dispatch)

Flotrack Video: Meghan Vogel stops to help fallen runner at 2012 Ohio State Meet
Flotrack Video: Interview with Meghan Vogel after her 1600 meter win

Until later,

Monday, June 4, 2012

Celebrating a Milestone: 50,000 Kindle Books Sold

(My assistant Trim [lower right] taking a break.)

Two years ago when I decided to stop pursuing the traditional route of publication and independently publish, I had hopes of selling a few hundred books. Sure, every writer wants to be a bestselling author, but I figured I'd be happy if someone other than friends and family simply knew my work existed.

I'd long ago lost count of the number of rejections I've received, at first from agents and eventually from editors. When I initially put my debut book on Kindle, there were days I clicked on my KDP sales report page and didn't get a single sale. Sometimes that went on for most of a week. Great big goose eggs. Oh well, I tried.

Yet something kept me going: supportive family, a champion agent and fellow writers. Along the way, I had crit partners who were persistent in their encouragement, even when I didn't have confidence in myself, and who made suggestions in a helpful, positive way that made my writing better. I remember the phone call from a successful agent (OMGosh, someone was actually interested in my books!) that had me so excited I almost burst. I can't neglect to mention my two children who allowed me to ignore them so I could write and the husband who made sure that dinner was on the table when I was absorbed in my work.

And one day, along came my first fan mail. It was January of 2011. I'd been self-published for seven months. I thought surely this was just some kind soul taking pity on me and spreading random kindness. Now, I can glance up at the wall behind my desk (above) and see it papered with e-mails and FB posts and tweets from readers. Yes, real readers. I sure as heck don't know that many people! I'm still amazed that anyone would take the time to write to an author, least of all me.

Yesterday, my KDP sales report page ticked over with my 50,000th Kindle sale on Amazon. Honestly, it feels more than a little surreal.

Just in case you think that's something spectacular, here's a list of indie authors and their sales figures for April 2012: Top 100 Indie Authors. It's not a comprehensive list, as some indie authors are more public with their numbers than others, but Holy Smokes! It's amazing how well some self-published authors are doing. Here's another thread on Kindleboards listing authors with over 50,000 sales.

I'm taking a moment out to celebrate and say THANK YOU! to all the readers who made this milestone possible, as well those who provided moral support and shared their knowledge along the way. I am humbled and eternally grateful.

Success, however small or large, never happens without a little help from others. Whatever your dreams, wherever you're starting from, however far you have yet to go, remember - one step at a time, stay the path and (as Oprah used to say) surround yourself with angels. They're there if you look for them. I've been lucky enough to find more than a few along the way.

Until later,

Friday, June 1, 2012

Author Rebecca Lochlann Talks About Ancient Volcanic Eruptions

(I've long had a fascination for geologic events, particularly volcanic eruptions. The powerful forces behind these cataclysmic events often have far-reaching and long-lasting effects. They alter the earth, destroy life and even entire civilizations. Today, even though we still can't predict them, at least we understand what is going on beneath the earth's surface. Imagine living in an age when volcanoes were not only unpredictable, but mysterious entities. My talented author-friend Rebecca Lochlann deals with this in her newly released book, The Thinara King, which I highly recommend. I asked her to tell us some more about it. So, welcome, Rebecca!)


The island in the Mediterranean nowadays called Santorini has had many names throughout the centuries. One of the oldest known names, and the one I use, is Callisti. In ancient Greek, it means “The Most Beautiful,” and is alternately spelled Kalliste.

Strongyle, another of Santorini’s ancient names, meant, “The Round One.”

Thera, yet another name long used for this volcanic island, can be translated as “Fear,” which, as it turns out, was rather prophetic, as is the name of the central mountain, rumored by some to be Alcmene, meaning “Wrath of the Moon.”

Book number two of my series, The Thinara King, jumps right in the middle of this famed volcanic eruption on Callisti.

For many years, until “super” volcanoes were more clearly understood, this eruption was considered the worst in human history. It was so enormous, so destructive, (categorized as a Plinian type event) that it made the eruption of Tambora look like a tiny belch in the earth. It would have made the Mt. Saint Helen’s eruption seem like nothing more than a brief, sleeping baby’s gasp.

As scientists become more adept at studying the effects of volcanoes, (and it’s impressive how much they’ve learned about the Santorini volcano, even though it happened so very long ago), they have conjectured that the repercussions of this event went clear round the world, and probably affected the earth’s climate for many years. From the depth of the ash on the sea floor, they have determined that the worst damage done to Crete, a mere seventy miles away, was on the east side. With improved methods and the study of more recent eruptions, there are now conjectures that the pyroclastic flow (the most dangerous, murderous part of an eruption) could very well have traveled on top of the water clear to Crete. The idea that such a thing could happen is amazing, and is merely theory, not proven. But that’s how huge this eruption was. Tsunamis of course came along after, and devastated the entire coast; there are theories that the tsunami which struck the northern coast managed to flow clear into the city of Knossos. Charles Pellegrino, in his book Unearthing Atlantis, says: “Within hours of the Theran upheaval of 1628 BC., death rolled into southern Turkey on the tongue of a tsunami. Two peninsulas jutting into the Aegean Sea confined the wave as if between the prongs of a mighty tuning fork, building it higher and higher and ultimately funneling it thirty miles inland. To penetrate so far, it had to be eight hundred feet tall when it hit the shore.” (Pellegrino, C. Unearthing Atlantis. New York: Avon, 1991)

One small bit of positive news: recent theories state that most of the populace on Santorini actually managed to escape the island before it blew into the heavens, leaving nothing but a sliver (part of which is again beginning to send out ominous messages). The volcano gave them warning, and they apparently heeded this warning. Since Callisti is considered by many to be an outpost of Crete, it’s no leap of logic to assume most of the refugees would go there, and that’s what happens in my book.

As awful as this eruption was, it did not end Cretan society. I have no doubt many died of the aftereffects, like starvation, ash suffocation, etc. But the Cretan civilization did eventually recover. Yes, these intrepid, hardy people managed to survive and even thrive again after this indescribable event. But at some point, later, the wondrous Bronze Age society of Crete (or Kaphtor) did disappear. This segment of my series, (a trilogy) offers one possible reason why, sets the starting point for the later books, and initiates a more familiar history—one that might never have occurred had Crete survived, retaining its original power and influence.

From everything Plato said about Atlantis, there is no doubt in my mind Thera is that fabled place.

Here is an excerpt from deep within The Thinara King.

Twilight fell. Chrysaleon made a fire from dead olive branches. The last glow of sunlight transformed gray clouds to scarlet and lavender, with hints of green and yellow. Beneath this magnificence he constructed a pyramid of stones and shot an unwary hawk from the sky. He burned its thighs in offering and knelt beside his cairn, clenching the necklace in his fist.

“Poseidon,” he said. “Walk with me. Lead me to Aridela. Make our bond unbreakable. Help me slay Harpalycus and bring an end to the king-sacrifice.” He peered into the heavens. “Make me this great-year-king, Horse Tamer, and I will present you with the rich island of Crete. I will cover this land with temples and fill each one with your image.”

A sudden gust of wind shot a fan of sparks into the dimming indigo sky.

He took it for the answer he wanted. Chrysaleon wrapped himself in the cloak Neoma had given him. “Bring Aridela home,” she’d begged, clutching his arm. “I miss her. I don’t think she even knows I’m alive.” The stone that struck her during the worst of the Destruction had left a noticeable depression in her forehead, like a large, out-of-place dimple, and ongoing headaches forced her to spend time in darkened seclusion nearly every day.

He stared at his fire, sleepless, thinking of Aridela, longing for her. A memory crept before him, one he’d forgotten, from his time near death in the cell at Labyrinthos.

In his starved, thirsty mind, he’d experienced a vision of Menoetius transforming into a black bull, the enormous bad-tempered kind Cretans used in their ring. The beast gored him and as he lay gasping, his lifeblood seeping away, Aridela came to stand beside the bull, resting her hand on his neck in an intimate manner. She had looked down upon Chrysaleon without any emotion.

“No,” he’d whispered, and he did so again now, his teeth and hands clenching as he gazed into the cold night sky. “Menoetius won’t defeat me.”

He fell asleep at last, but during the night’s blackest point, he was awakened by the earth shuddering. Small creatures scurried; rocks scraped, rolled, and tumbled. His horse shied and nickered. Farther away, he heard ominous, eerie echoes as an avalanche of boulders crashed into one of Crete’s many precipitous gorges.

He stared into the night toward the mountains, aching to be among them.

I’m coming, Aridela. I will find you.


More excerpts can be found here and here.

The Year-god’s Daughter: Book One of The Child of the Erinyes
The Thinara King: Book Two of The Child of the Erinyes
In the Moon of Asterion: The conclusion of the Bronze Age trilogy (available by the end of 2012)

Amazon Rebecca Lochlann page:

Thanks for visiting with us, Rebecca!

Happy reading,