Friday, January 24, 2020

Even NASA has to Bow to Physics - A Seriously Write Blog


Living here in Central Florida, we get a great deal of news about NASA, Spacex, and the International Space Station. Probably more than the rest of the country only because on a clear day or night, we can see the launches from Cape Canaveral in the sky to our east. Even seventy miles away. They are spectacular, especially at night. And as you might imagine, people travel from all around, setting up chairs, tents, and even campers along the coast to view the orange glow of the rockets.

As the intro to Star Trek said many times, space is the Final Frontier. The Wild, Wild West of the future. However, regardless of how spectacular a launch is, regardless of whether or not they are attempting a never-been-done-before experiment, the laws of physics still reign supreme. This is why NASA conducts test after test. They just had a Dragon capsule leave the ISS and return to Earth. One of the tests was to simulate trouble with the booster rocket and have it detach from the capsule safely. The capsule was to continue its descent into the Atlantic Ocean, to be retrieved, while the booster rocket was to break apart and disintegrate as it burned up entering the atmosphere.

Why would NASA and Spacex conduct such a test? The main reason is because they wanted to simulate a manned flight. If a capsule containing astronauts was on its return voyage from the ISS and the booster rocket malfunctioned, could they separate the two in order to protect the crew? If the rocket blows up, accelerates into the Earth’s atmosphere at breakneck speed, ignites at the wrong time and wrong angle of trajectory and propels them in the wrong direction, say towards Alpha Centauri, then the crew, in any of these scenarios, is as good as dead.


You can read the remainder of the article HERE!


You can also find out more about Kevin's newest novel, The Letters, there as well! Or visit HERE for more info on it!








Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Ken Kuhlken

There are subcultures within the larger society that exist for everyone. As a writer, this is no truer than when a group of us like-minded folks get together at writers conferences. For the first two or three conferences I attended, I sat in a critique group that met each day of the conference for about three hours. As with most critique groups, they wrestle with grammar and syntax and POV and a plethora of other "writerly" things. However, in these first couple of groups, we did some of the "writerly" stuff, but we also tackled our writing from a bigger picture. How the writing fit theologically was just as important (actually more so) as whether or not this verb went with that adverb or not. These discussions then branched out into what makes a good story good versus what hinders a story's appeal and impact.

The gentleman who conducted these critique group sessions at a writers conference, the first ones I had ever attended at such a venue, was author Ken Kuhlken. Since then, Ken and I have kept in touch, and I am so happy he has agreed to join us here on the Florida front porch, all the way from Sunny California.

Welcome, Ken! Give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Ken Kuhlken?

A while back it occurred to me that the only time I am truly content is when playing golf or baseball or softball or hanging out with friends or family or reading or writing. Now, the only one of those I could even hope to make a living from is writing. So that's what I feel called to do.
  
What educational background do you have? 

I sort of went to high school, but other concerns, like death and illness, (as detailed somewhat in Reading Brother Lawrence) intruded, so I didn't begin to do what my Zoƫ has done this year, which is apply to many fine schools. I instead went to San Diego State, which, at the time was much more challenging than it has since become (I know because I taught and worked as an adviser there for a dozen years). And after I decided high school teaching was awfully hard on a guy whose attention drifts all over, I tried to find the best school for a graduate degree in fiction writing and learned it was the University of Iowa. I applied and got turned down. I was admitted to a summer session and had a class with John Irving who then told the people to let me into the regular program, and they did. So I spent a couple years in Iowa City and earned an MFA degree.

I didn't know that. We lived in Des Moines for a couple of years and had some interesting times with one professor from that college who disagreed with my assertion that Wiccans worshipped alongside satanists, loosely speaking. Stirred up quite the hornet's nest...Small world, for sure!


Are you married? Single? Have kids?

To answer this, read "Old Man, New Baby."


For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?

My cat began 2019 with a urinary tract blockage, which cost plenty for emergency care. After that, we learned he was epileptic, which means we need to medicate him three times each day. And during all this, I have found that many people consider spending lots of money to save the lives of their dogs reasonable, but can't understand why anybody would spend much to save a cat. This puzzles me. 


What makes you cringe?

My office partner and close friend at the University of Arizona wasn't usually judgmental, but coming from a family of Brahmins in India, he had high standards for behavior. If somebody acted out of accord with those standards, he took offense and considered that person uncivilized, which to him was the gravest transgression. Example: a contractor gave him a price for a fence then charged about twice the estimate, with little explanation. That man he declared uncivilized, and told him so.

Lately, I cringe at behavior I consider uncivilized. Like profanity for no good reason. I have a coffee cup with a Mark Twain quote: "If angry, count five. If very angry, curse." I go along with that, but I prefer civil language, and the same holds for my reading, writing, choice of movies and television, and even comedians. Unless profanity serves a valid purpose, I much prefer to avoid it.


Everybody seems to have a bucket list. Do you? If so, what’s on it? If not, why not? 

I want to become a perpetual tourist.


My wife and I do too. I know you can write about places and sell articles to magazines that cover travel...to cover your travel expenses...hmmm. Excuse me, Ken. I think I hear my retirement calling.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?

At one time, I was a very good golfer. Not great, but very good. As a kid, I played baseball well, but then I switched to golf. And I think I have become, over many years of trying and learning, a pretty good father.


Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?

My grandma, with whom we lived my first nine years, was an accomplished painter and storyteller. I learned to appreciate stories more than anything, and attempted a novel in eighth grade. When I was fifteen, my dad died, and then my mom got hospitalized for months with spinal meningitis. While she was gone, my best friend, another only child, moved in with me, and we became ever closer. Then he died in a car accident. And circumstances leading up to his death presented a whole world of mysteries I am still trying to resolve. My way of resolving mysteries is to tell stories about them.


Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook?

My friend Alan Russell and I traveled together for book signings. We catalogued our misadventures in fact and fiction, in Road Kill and No Cats, No Chocolate.


Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?

Since my favorite is always the one I finished last, I'm going to tell about For America, which is actually five short books.

For America has been a long time coming. The story began when I rode in an old Dodge pickup with my friend Laurent to Iowa. Later, I wrote some pages about the trip and called them "The Gas Crisis."

Raymond Carver, a wonderful writer of mostly short stories, told about waking one morning and thinking of the line, "He was vacuuming when the telephone rang." So he sat and wrote that line and kept writing until he finished a remarkable story.

On a larger scale, the same happened to me. I began writing about a road trip and got carried away. My daughter, Darcy, at age five, noticed me standing in the kitchen staring at nothing, and remarked, "Oh no, crazy ol' daddy's working on the grass crisis again."  

The story took me over. I have long felt that, though I often interrupted to write other novels, this one I was destined to write.


Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them?

If I expected everyone to appreciate what I write, I would either have long ago learned to write by some genre formula or gone mad. I write what I feel inspired to write and try my best not to expect any particular reaction, though I'm human enough to hope my stories will touch some people.


If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be?

Marilyn Monroe comes to mind. And not only because she was fun to look at. I mean, we could talk about Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio, and maybe JFK.

And I would love to spend an eternity hanging out with each of my kids and my grandson. It seems I never get enough time with them.


What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

I had a solid job teaching creative writing at California State University, Chico. It was a lovely town and pleasant work, and they gave me tenure, made me an associate professor, and my colleagues and students were mostly a delight. But the way things turned out, when my kids were in San Diego and my mother was getting old, I gave up that job. Hardly anybody gives up a tenured professorship unless they get offered a better one. Lots of people, even my mother, said, "No way. You really are crazy." 


Why do you live where you live?


Where I live, in San Diego, most people seem to think it's not only the best place in the world to live, but that it's the only place a reasonable person would care to live.

Though I've spent most of my life in the San Diego area, I've also lived for lengthy spells in Chico, California, Iowa City, Iowa, Athens, Greece, and Tucson, Arizona. I would be happy to move to any of them again. Mostly, where I live has to do with people. Where most of the people who mean most to me are, that's where I want to be. If they scatter all over the place, I intend to do a lot of travelling. 


Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

Recently my Darcy convinced me to start listening to audiobooks. She steered me to Audible, which I found okay except that it costs about $15 a month for one audiobook, and then it tries to sell me others. I can easily consume an audiobook a week, so I checked out Scribd, which I had encountered a while back, and found it much better in several ways. With Scribd I get all the audiobooks and ebooks I can use for $10 per month. And, just as exciting, lots of my books are available on Scribd in ebook (not yet on audio, though I hope to remedy that). So, dear reader, if you join Scribd, you can read a trilogy of Hickey family crime novels, the entire five books that make up For America, and more of my work, all from Scribd, for hardly anything. Also, I have communicated with Scribd people about a couple issues, and they are mighty responsive and civilized people. I am a big fan of Scribd.


Ken, it's been a pleasure having you here on the Florida front porch!

Readers, if you wish to follow up on this interview and check out Ken's writing, subscribe to his newsletter, or find out more about him in general, here are some sites you can visit:

To reach him, go to kenkuhlken.net or join him at Perelandra College.
Less is More, a more or less monthly newsletter
  

Until next time, may God bless America, and more importantly, may America bless God!

Kevin




Thursday, January 9, 2020

Meet C. Kevin Thompson and get a peek at The Letters - An Interview Kevin did with Jubilee Writer, Cindy Huff


Today I welcome suspense writer C. Kevin Thompson to my blog. He gifted me with an ARC copy of his latest novel, and I’m happily reading his interesting story and can’t wait to learn more about how he it came to be and a bit about Kevin as well.


You see the entirety of Kevin's interview with Jubilee Writer HERE!


Also, his latest novel, The Letters, is now available in e-book pre-order and will officially release on February 18, 2020! 









Monday, January 6, 2020

When Your Pity Party Gets Crashed (A CAN Blog Post)

This Christmas season, my wife and I went to the beach, a post-Christmas, Merry-Christmas-to-us present. We arrived on Friday afternoon and talked about what we could do and where we could go for our fortieth anniversary in 2021. We continued the discussion the next morning until we received a series of text messages. They came from our middle daughter, whose family was staying with us. A tree had fallen and wiped out our power line.
Pictures depicted how the line had bent the mast pole, yanked the lines out of the meter box, and fried the inside to the point the metal leads had burned all the way through and separated. I called our daughter, and she said somehow there was still partial power to the back of the house. I then instructed her on how to shut down the main breaker. And hurry!

You can read the rest of the post HERE!


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Lynnette Bonner


Wearing my granddaughter's
sunglasses at a restaurant...
Do they make my face look big?

As we near the end of 2019, I am reminded that it wasn't too long ago when we were worried about the dreaded Y2K. Remember that? The world's computer systems were going to crash because some programmers at Microsoft apparently went to sleep at the wheel and didn't think their product (the most widely used computer operating system on the planet at the time) wasn't going to sell or be used in the new millennium.

Now, here we are, holding tiny computers in our hands called smartphones, which have more computing power than both of the Voyager satellites.

Chew on that one for a few.

As time moves on, things definitely change, and that brings us to our next guest on the Florida front porch, Lynnette Bonner! Lynnette and I go way back. We both have the distinction of having our debut novels published by the same, now defunct, publisher. Good times. However, one thing I have learned through it all is this: If that publisher had one thing going for it, they could find good talent from the pool of new authors. :-)

Welcome, Lynnette! As it is the ABTS tradition, we start of by asking the guest to give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Lynnette Bonner? 

I was born and raised in the country of Malawi, Africa, just south of the equator. I spent my early years running through crisp savannah grasses with my native friends, and then at the age of eight went off to a boarding school three thousand miles from home. When I graduated from that school, I traded the serenade of cicadas and sunshine for that of traffic and rain in the Seattle area where I still live. (Today was sunny! Whoop! Whoop!) 

Have you ever been sleepless in Seattle? :-)

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

Growing up overseas as I did, we didn’t have TV—or even electricity in some of the places we lived. So I spent a lot of time reading. I credit this foundation to the love of story that eventually led me to write my own books.

Are you married? Single? Have kids?


I met my husband in Bible college. He is a pastor. We have four children, all but one of whom have flown our crazy coop. 

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.

Favorite Song of All-Time: Right now it’s probably "Chain Breaker" by Zach Williams
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Dare I confess that I rarely read non-fiction? Um… the Power of a Praying ___ series was good. I read Wife a few years back.
Favorite Bible Verse: I could list several, but I’m not sure I’d quantify them as “favorite." I feel all the Bible is equally important. I do love the book of James. (Maybe because after trying to follow some of Paul’s sentences, the book of James is so easy to understand. ;)
Favorite Movie: The Last of the Mohicans – Daniel Day Lewis version.
Favorite Actor or Actress: Maybe I’m just not a person who easily chooses favorites. I admire a lot of actors and actresses for different reasons. Too many to list here.
Favorite TV Show: Any police procedural with a little romance.
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Silk by Linda Chaikin
Favorite Author (other than you): Again, too many to list. No one really stands above the rest.
Favorite Sport: Do people really have favorites of all these things? ;) I like all kinds. I’ll say, any sport my kid is playing in. But I love football, basketball, soccer. Just not baseball. I’d almost rather watch paint dry than watch baseball.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Seattle Seahawks. Seattle Sounders. Golden State Warriors
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: PE :)
Favorite Subject Now: Art
Favorite Teacher in School: I loved many of my teachers. Mr. Bannister, my Junior English teacher was awesome.
Favorite Time of the Year: Summer
Favorite Place to Vacation: What’s a vacation? ;) Um… San Juan Islands, WA.
Favorite Drink: Vanilla Coke
Favorite Food: Steak and tortellini with Alfredo sauce all over it. Lima beans on the side.


Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?

This one is pretty easy for me to answer, actually. While I love all my characters, I think RyAnne from my Sonnets of the Spice Isle series, holds a special place in my heart. That story takes place in Africa, where I grew up. The historical research into that era was heartbreaking. And I was blessed to be able to shine light on such a tragic time in the world’s history. Readers can learn more about that series here: https://www.lynnettebonner.com/books/historical-fiction/sonnets-of-the-spice-isle/

Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them?

Most of my negative reviews have to do with that fact that there’s “too much Christianity / religion in this book.” And I’m okay with that. :)

Tell us about your writing day. How do you go about writing?

In addition to being a writer, I’m a graphic designer. I mostly do book covers for others. You can find my site here: www.indiecoverdesign.com. So many days I’m working on a project for a client. But that works well for me because I’m more of an evening writer. At the very least, a late afternoon writer. So I do graphics in the morning and writing in the afternoon and evenings, around my daughters sports schedule. Both my husband and I try to make it to every game she’s in.


If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be? 

I think I would pick author Francine Rivers. I think she could teach me a lot about how to be a better storyteller.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus? 

Difficult question… I think I’d love to get to know Mary the mother of Jesus. She was willing to be used by God in an amazing way that changed the course of the world, but made her seem like a crazy liar to those around her. What a sacrifice. She had to watch her firstborn son die a horrific death. At one point she became a widow. She had a hard life. Yet, I’m sure she would say it was worth it. I’m sure she could teach me a lot.

When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you? 

A great cover. Interesting story with a good dose of realism but humor is always welcome. I’m a big fiction reader.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

If readers would like to try out my writing, they can sign up for my newsletter and get a free contemporary romance novella. It is about a short-term mission trip to Malawi, Africa, the country I was born and raised in. www.lynnettebonner.com/newsletter.

Awesome, Lynnette. Are there any other places readers can go to get to know you better and check out your writing? 




Lynnette, it's been a pleasure having you on our blog as a guest author! May God bless your writing ministry and book design business.

Dear reader, thanks for stopping by! From our home to yours, may God richly bless you and yours this Christmas season.


Until next time,

Kevin