Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Heading down a different road

If there is one thing I like about being an indie author, it is having the freedom to dance to my own drum. Last spring, I faced a choice — start a third time-travel series or create a family saga I have wanted to write for years. Had I been bound by the rules of traditional publishing, I would have had to pick one or the other. Because I was not, I was able to do both. I was able to produce a work that takes readers down a different and compelling new road.

Say hello to River Rising. Like the novels of the Northwest Passage and American Journey series, it follows contemporary time travelers to America’s past. Unlike The Mine and September Sky, it launches a series where my protagonists — two Arizona professors and their five grown children — march through time together. It begins a family saga that I hope readers will enjoy and embrace.

On December 1, 2017, Adam Carson, 27, is an engineer trying to hold a family together following the unsolved disappearance of his parents from a Sedona trail. Thrust into an uncomfortable role when he is still recovering from another loss, he inadvertently learns that his conventional parents aren’t so conventional after all. They are time travelers who, unbeknownst to family, friends, and authorities, have traveled to — and become stuck in — the 1880s.

Armed with the information he needs to find them, Adam convinces his younger siblings to join him on a rescue mission to the nineteenth century. While Greg, the adventurous middle brother, follows leads in Arizona and California, Adam, ambitious journalist Natalie, and high school seniors Cody and Caitlin do the same in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Like the residents of the bustling steel community, all are unaware of a flood that will destroy the city on May 31, 1889.

In River Rising, readers will see America in the heady, reckless days of the Gilded Age, when coal was king, robber barons ruled the roost, and railroads stretched from the industrial East to the untamed West. They will see five young adults adapt to challenges, find friendship and love, and grow in ways that surprise even themselves.

The 139,000-word novel, the first in the Carson Chronicles series, is my largest and most ambitious project to date. Inspired by the works of John Jakes, author of the celebrated North and South trilogy, it lays the foundation of a multi-genre series that will span nearly a hundred years and take readers across the United States and beyond.

Filled with history, fantasy, adventure, and romance, River Rising is a poignant, sometimes humorous, portrait of a family, a country, and a time. The novel, available as a Kindle book on Amazon.com and its twelve international sites, goes on sale today.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: Endurance

History, I think it is safe to say, favors the winners. It remembers and rewards those who try and succeed, not those who try and fail — or at least not those who fail to do anything but simply survive.

There are exceptions, of course. The British at Dunkirk come to mind. So do Washington’s army in the Battle of Long Island and the crew of Apollo 13. But for the most part, history does not smile on those who fail to accomplish the one thing they set out to do.

On occasion, however, the stories of those who fail persist and become the stuff of legend. The tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton, leader of the doomed Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, is a case in point.

The famed British polar explorer did not achieve his goal of leading his team across Antarctica in 1915. He instead lost the Endurance, his three-masted sailing ship, before his party even began its trek across the southernmost continent.

Yet Shackleton is remembered and revered today because of his efforts to save his crew, including an 800-mile, open-boat voyage through the most treacherous waters on earth. These feats are the focus of a riveting audiobook I enjoyed this week.

Written by Alfred Lansing and narrated by Simon Prebble, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage is a triumph in storytelling — one that describes the misery of 29 men and 70 dogs in excruciating detail as they battle for survival on a frozen sea.

Readers and listeners who favor nonfiction works like Unbroken, Into Thin Air, Shadow Divers, and The Perfect Storm will find much to like in Lansing’s account, published in 1959. Ordinary individuals, with temperaments and shortcomings we can all relate to, endure conditions and events that would break even the heartiest of souls.

I would recommend Lansing's timeless classic to any fan of history and adventure. Endurance offers both in shiploads. Rating: 5/5. (Photo of Endurance in 1915 courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)