Thursday, 22 June 2017

On Grey Owl’s Trail – A Hiking Journal, free on Amazon, this weekend

On Grey Owl’s Trail – A Hiking Journal, free on Amazon, this weekend

This weekend (June 22 to June 26, 2017), the travel book "On Grey Owl’s Trail – A Hiking Journal" (a detailed journal of a back-country hiking trip, along with historical notes on the controversial mid-20th century conservationist Grey Owl and his wife), will be on a free promotion on Amazon.  At other time’s it is 99 cents.

While not as spectacular as some of the more well-known Canadian coastal trails (e.g. The Juan de Fuca Trail) or mountain trails (e.g. The Kettle Valley Trail), the Grey Owl Trail, in north-central Saskatchewan, has a charm all of its own. It is a very fine hiking or canoeing route, that can be done in a leisurely three days, or faster, if one prefers. It is also part of a much larger national park, Prince Albert National Park, which includes a variety of other trails and canoe routes, as well as a pleasant small town-site (Waskesiu), which includes many “civilized” amenities, such as restaurants, hotels, cabins, stores, and pubs.

Those qualities also make it a good site tor a family hike, as it is only moderately physically challenging, and therefore a nice introduction to the activity of multi-day hiking. At any rate, that was my family’s experience.

The journal is about 20,000 words, a length that can usually be read in an hour to 90 minutes. It includes notes from the trip, some history of Grey Owl and the trail, as well as selected quotations from the writings of Grey Owl and his wife Anahareo (who were both excellent, humorous and engaging writers).

Friday, 16 June 2017

Some Nebulous but Familiar Shapes, in the Nebulae

Some Nebulous but Familiar Shapes, in the Nebulae

The other day (June 15, 2017), the European Southern Observatory release a huge computer photo of some nebulae in the Milky Way galaxy, a collage of many images that they took with their telescope in Chile.  It is a zoomable image of the Omega Nebula, Sharpless 2-54 and the Eagle Nebula, going from left to right:

So, I whiled away a few minutes looking for interesting images within this image, during a fairly dull conference call.  Talk about value added.  Here are the best ones that I could find:

Space Frog

Pretty easy to see, in my opinion.

Space Guppy

Feeding time for Space Guppy, or it could be Space Ms. Pacman.

Space Lacrosse Player

Ok, you have to squint a bit for this one, and it helps to know the sport lacrosse.

Space Leonardo

If he doesn't deserve a nebula, who does?



Space Wasp

Or maybe termite, it could go either way.

Since I did all this hard work, you should consider buying one of our books.  The Witches’ Stones, Book 1 is quite a “space opera” and it can even teach you a thing or two about neutron stars.  Book 2 has a features some science about Lagrange points, and Book 3 has a nice nebula on the cover. That’s pretty hard to beat.

The Witches' Stones, Book 1 - Rescue from the Planet of the Amartos

The Witches' Stones, Book 2- Love and Intrigue, Under the Seven Moons of Kordea

The Witches' Stones, Book 3 - Revenge of the Catspaw

The Witches' Stones, Book 1 - Rescue from the Planet of the Amartos

Young Earth woman and spaceship mechanic, Sarah Mackenzie, has unwittingly triggered a vast source of energy, the Witches' Stones, via her psychic abilities, of which she was unaware. She becomes the focal point of a desperate contest between the authoritarian galactic power, known as The Organization, and the democratic Earth-based galactic power, known as The Terran Confederation. The Organization wants to capture her, and utilize her powers to create a super-weapon; the Terra Confederation wants to prevent that at all costs. The mysterious psychic aliens, the Witches of Kordea also become involved, as they see her as a possible threat, or a possible ally, for the safety of their own world.

A small but fast scout-ship, with its pilot and an agent of the Terra Confederation, Coryn Leigh, are sent to rescue her from a distant planet at the very edge of the galaxy, near space claimed by The Organization.  Battles, physical and mental, whirl around the young woman, as the agent and pilot strive at all costs to keep her from the clutches of the Organization.

The Witches' Stones, Book 2 - Love and Intrigue, Under the Seven Moons of Kordea

Sarah has taken refuge on the planet of Kordea, where she is also learning how to control her psychic abilities, through the tutelage of the Witches of Kordea.  Coryn Leigh has now taken up the position of Confederation diplomat to the Kordeans, but he is also charged with keeping the Mackenzie girl safe at all costs.  During their time on the planet, an attraction between them grows, though they try to deny it, to themselves and each other.

But The Organization has plans of its own, including threatening the destruction of the planet Kordea, via de-stabilizing the orbit of Lina, one of its many moons.  The Organization proves that its threats are in deadly earnest, so, ultimately Sarah, Coryn and the Witches of Kordea must take the fight to the enemy.  Thus is borne a dangerous mission, to a planet where their foe has based the weapon that threatens Kordea, and ultimately, the balance of power throughout the galaxy.  Sarah and Coryn agree that the machine must be destroyed, even at the possible cost of their own lives and growing love. 

The Witches' Stones, Book 3 - Revenge of the Catspaw

Sarah and Coryn have become married, under the traditions of the Witches of Kordea.  But the marriage is performed by the Eldest of the most important coven, a rare honour, which comes with a blessing and a curse.  The slow working out of this blessing and curse forms the backdrop to the story.

Having come so close to their goal of enhancing their weaponry via Witches' Stone power, The Organization will not give up.  In order to lure Sarah into their trap, and thus have her become their Catspaw (someone who is forced into helping another, against their will) they need bait, and Coryn becomes the bait.  He also comes under the domination of a particularly nasty Elite of The Organization, one "Evil Evilla" Copoz.

Sarah, and a picked group of companions, must re-enter The Organization space, this time to the very heart of the empire, to rescue her husband, as he has done for her in the past.  They do so at great peril, but nothing can stop the terrible Revenge of the Catspaw.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Two Children’s Books on Kindle Countdown: To Rescue a Princess, To Defeat the Wizard’s Curse

Two Children’s Books on Kindle Countdown:
  To Rescue a Princess, To Defeat the Wizard’s Curse
Helena Puumala’s children’s fantasy series, Nathan’s Adventure in the Other-Other Land, follows the adventures of Nathan and his friends, as they travel to the Other-Other Land, through the magic mirror.  There, they encounter mystery, adventure and danger, as they strive to help the peaceful inhabitants of the Other-Other Land to overcome their fearsome enemies, which include dragons and wizards, among others.  But, though young, Nathan and his friends are resourceful and brave, a good match for any dangers that they might meet on their journeys.
Both books are on Kindle Countdown this week (June 14-21, 2017), a nice bargain for kids and parents, at only 99 cents each.

In Book 1, Nathan helps Prince Roland to rescue his sister, Princess Pepper, from the clutches of the Black Dragon, who is in league with the Terrible Bing – both wish to overthrow the Kingdom of the Other-Other Land.  Nathan and Prince Roland must undergo many tests and perils, in their mission to save the feisty Princess Pepper.
It is available on Amazon, at the following links (note that it includes many illustrations and is available in paper book form as well as ebook):

Book 2 continues the adventures of Nathan and his friends, with much of the focus now on Princess Pepper, as she enlists the help of Nathan and his cousins, to overcome a curse which has been cast on the land.  This spell has resulted in a terrible drought throughout the country, which is slowly starving the land and its people.  The Princess and her companions must also overcome many dangers in their quest to overcome the Wizard’s Curse, including the emotionally jarring prospect of re-uniting with Pepper’s mother, who seemed to have abandoned her children at an early age.
That book is available on Amazon, at the following links: