The High Desert Up Close #Oregon Discovery

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We moved to the high desert six years ago from the lush, green Willamette Valley. Moss grew on my car there. It’s what most people think of when they hear ‘Pacific Northwest’, rainy, very rainy and mudslides.

The east side of the Cascades appears much dryer and to have much less color. This is typical.

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It looks brown and rather uniform, right? Yeah. But it’s not. Up close the desert is teaming with color and beauty. Way more than you’d think. Here are a few treasures I found among the brush.

PurpleFlowersAlongtheMetoliusRiver

Spec of PurpleSpring blooms at 6400 feetmorning glorymothsyellow flowers

None of these flowers is bigger than the tip of my pinky, except for the white cluster with the moths.

Things aren’t always what they appear, huh?

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writinglife

Writing, writing, writing, yee haw! I finished the first draft of The Rifters, didn’t pass Go, didn’t drink my celebratory beer, went straight back to the keyboard and have started on the second book in the series, The Initiate – title subject to change. The goal is to have it done by end of May. Go me!

theriftersSBAR

My workshop on April 5th went great. I’ll give more of a blow by blow at the next IWSG on May 7th. On May 22nd, I’ll be taking part in the marketing panel my writers guild has put together.

teach

I’ve been participating in the AtoZ with Untethered Realms. We’re holding an X Factor competition for the creature with the most X this coming Monday. We held some auditions for the letters I and Q – Ice Creatures and Questing Q. Stop by and give the competitors a vote. Whatever/whoever gets the most points will go on to compete for the grand title.

stopoveraudiobook

Stopover is almost complete as an audiobook. Expect that to be available within the month.

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April 2014 Lunar Eclipse #astronomy #photography

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This past Monday was a total lunar eclipse where I live. The only trouble is, I live in the Pacific Northwest, land of clouds. It’s not as bad here as in Portland or Seattle, but it became an issue Monday night.  So I didn’t get to see all of the eclipse or the red color, but I did see a good hour.

The nice thing about the position of the moon was I could haul my telescope out of the garage and set up in the driveway. The moon was bright enough that the neighborhood lights didn’t interfere with my viewing. So yay on that. Double yay I didn’t have to stay up terribly late or get up at some unholy hour.

The eclipse began at 10:50 p.m. ish here.

Without further ado, my photos. By the end, the clouds became thicker, so those shots are not as clear.

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What I had to shoot through…

Elipse414One truly clear shot

Elipse414h Elipse414i Elipse414k Elipse414lSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCDid you see the eclipse this week? Share your story.

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Our Solar System Grows, Bright Spot on Mars, and Sand Under a Microscope – A Day of Discovery #astronomy #science

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Expanding horizons little and big. Our world is a marvelous place.

Beyond the familiar solar system of the planets we all know lies the Kuiper Belt with dwarf planets and other frozen terrestrial bodies. It begins beyond Neptune and extends a long way out. After New Horizons visits Pluto and Charon in 2015 for a year, it will venture out into the Kuiper Belt, the outer solar system, a place we don’t know much about.

Beyond it lies the ‘theorized’ Oort cloud, where some comets may originate from. In this edge of the solar system, only one object was known to exist, the dwarf planet, Sedna, discovered in 2003. 76 AU from the sun, it was the most distant object from the sun known to exist.

Recently, another was found, 2012 VP113, nicknamed Biden. Its closest orbit brings it in to 80 AU [astronomical unit = 80 x 93 million, an astronomical unit is the distance from Earth to the sun and is how the solar system distances are measured. Beyond our solar system, light years is used as the measurement].

Newly discovered dwarf planet 2012 VP113

Three images of the newly discovered dwarf planet 2012 VP113 taken about two hours apart on 5 November 2012. Photograph: Scott S Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

Its irregular orbit hints at a larger planet beyond it, a planet 10x the size of our Earth. That’s exciting stuff. For more information, visit HERE

image_1819_2-2012-VP113

The orbits of Sedna (orange) and dwarf planet 2012 VP113 (red). Also shown are the orbits of the giant planets (purple). The Kuiper belt is the dotted light blue region. Illustration: Scott S Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

 

 

Bright Spot on Mars

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Images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on April 2 and April 3 include bright spots, which might be due to the sun glinting off a rock or cosmic rays striking the camera’s detector.

You can see the glint in the upper left hand corner.

The image from April 3, from Curiosity’s Navigation Camera, is online at:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6135

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Sand Under a Microsope

And this is what plain brown sand looks like under a microscope. Taken by Gary Greenberg. You can find out more about it HERE

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Believe it or not, this is what the sand in Maui looks like up close. Very very close.
GARY GREENBERG

Something we think of as plain is extremely beautiful and complex.

Big and small, discoveries are fantastic. Aren’t they? Have you discovered anything lately? Please share.

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New Frontiers, Developing a New Series #Writing

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So far I have two series out in the world. One that sells and to which I keep adding [The Backworlds]. One that doesn’t that I’ll eventually add to but not yet [Hetty Locklear].

The Backworlds does all right [Just put book 5 out - Worlds on Edge], but I want something that sells better. So taking from my own example of what sort of worked and what didn’t work at all, I’ll use a similar formula to what sort of worked to release my next series, The Rifters: first book free, second book released very shortly after the first.

theriftersWEB

I want it to do even better than that mild success I had. So while I continue to write the first book, I’ve been thinking about marketing and an idea went off like a flash.

The Rifters is set in the fictional Oregon town of Settler. So why not begin by promoting Settler? I created a web page for it HERE and a FB page for it HERE, modeling it on travel sites and web pages for other small towns.  A friend of mine is creating a travel video for it, and I’m inviting real people to populate my town.

SettlerFB

You’ll see some businesses for sale HERE or you can make up your own. A doctor and a real estate agent would be great additions. How about a gym? You can use your real name or a made up name, and if you’d like I’ll link to your web page.

The series has its story and the FB page will develop stories of its own, reporting the daily happenings of Settler. However it goes, it’s a fun project.

So, that’s where I’m at… trying something new with marketing to launch a new series.

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PS, I’m teaching my first workshop this weekend. Info is in the sidebar. Hopefully, I won’t suck. If you live in Central Oregon, it’s at the COCC Redmond Campus this Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Topic is the page turner. Bring six copies of your first 3 pages to work on. Free for Guild members, $10 for others. MORE INFO

And I’m participating in AtoZ with Untethered Realms where we flirt with monsters and beasts… well, not literally, only in a literary sense.

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This is my April edition of IWSG. It meets the first Wednesday of each month and is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh.

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What Attracts You Most to a Story? #Writing

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Surprise! It’s my favorite thing – unpredictability, an uncommon path, different, original. Those things call to me like a Siren. A story about mummy dinosaurs? I’ll give it a try.

Have you seen The Killing? That show kept me guessing through two season as to who the killer was, and I didn’t come close to naming who did, but it made sense. [If you haven't seen this show, I highly recommend it, and I normally don't care for crime shows.]

That’s the stickler, huh? It still has to make sense. Reality and fiction depart in opposite directions there. Life doesn’t have to make sense and rarely does, but fiction must always make sense.

Moon of a Different Color

It’s more amazing when I can surprise myself, especially five books into the Backworlds.  I managed to do it several times in Worlds on Edge.

Here’s one of the things that surprised me: [excerpt, copyright 2014 M. Pax, all rights reserved]

Meelo leaned against the nearest wall and slid down it to get comfortable.

“Th-they won’t be able to come out here in the storm.” She half-heartedly pointed at the stairs and the house above.

“We not staying here.” The ranch hand, Dauffer, knelt at the corner under the stairs and pressed his palm against the wall. The panel popped, and he slid it to the side. “After you.”

Small as she stood, she had to duck through the entry. The walls beyond it had been carved out of rock. Hands on the rough-hewn surface, she felt her way forward. She sensed more than heard or felt the hidden door shut. The air changed, less stifling, cooler, the surface of Pardeep leaking inside. Dauffer caught up, and his biomechanical legs provided light, churning, purring, glowing.

Meelo’s fingers brushed over symbols: a sphere with rings, a sphere made of petals, and a circle of hash marks. The long and short slashes reminded her of rain. Shutting her eyes, she could smell it, could taste it on her tongue, mineral-filled sweetness. Craze had sworn not to stop improving Pardeep until the skies fell with rain. Could he do it? Such a dream couldn’t be let go — rain and forests and grass seas.

Her fingers lingered, coveting the downpour memorialized in the rock. Then she opened her eyes and continued down the tunnel. “Y-you put those here?” She paused to stare at a cloud covered in starbursts. Maybe it was snow. She ‘d love to experience snow before she joined Tasser and her family in the Afterlife.

“No. Pardeep has a lot of secrets.” More About Worlds On Edge

When I wrote that last line, I said to myself, “It has secrets, does it?” After some thought I left it. Why shouldn’t the dusty old moon have secrets?

Do you like surprises in your stories? Did you surprise yourself in your latest work?

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Bonus: Who was your first alien? Pop over to UR and we’ll talk about it.

UR Logo text

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