Sunday, February 23, 2020

Truckee Local Author Showcase

Will you be near Truckee or Tahoe's North Shore on March 21st?

Please stop by the Local Author Showcase, which will be held on Saturday, March 21, from 1-4 PM at the Truckee Community Arts Center, 10046 Church St., Truckee, CA.

The event is put on by the Truckee branch of the Nevada County Library system.

I'll be giving the keynote talk at 1 p.m.

From 1:30 or so until 4 p.m., you'll be able to browse a wide range of books at the author tables and meet over 20 local authors.

A brief glance at the titles show books running from novels to short stories to poetry to children's books to histories to guidebooks and more. You'll be able to get signed copies of many of them.

A great addition is a table featuring our local Truckee bookstore, Word After Word books.

I've done many such events over the years, and it's always a fun, worthwhile experience.

Admission is free. So please stop by.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Cold Sailing, But Gorgeous

A week ago we had a major windstorm. The meter at the top of Kirkwood registered a gust of 209 miles per hour. (Although one source doubted that and said the wind was probably only 189 mph. Oh, is that all!)

The next day the wind had subsided substantially, with gusts on the lake of 35 - 40 mph.

A sailor of my skill knows that is far too much wind to sail in.

Complicating the situation, the waves were very large. Combine that with ice-water, winter temps, and it makes for a dangerous sailing conditions.

But exciting!

There was a boat out on the lake, racing across the waves. It tacked back and forth, beating upwind, then running with the wind back toward shore, then starting over again.

What a thrill it must have been.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Next McKenna Is In The Pipeline

After what seems like a dozen rewrites, the next Owen McKenna mystery is now in the hands of my first editor. After she has scoured it with her eagle eye and caught 1000 mistakes and problems, I will do another rewrite and send it along to editor #2. The process repeats for editors # 3 and 4. After that final rewrite, it goes into the publication process.

Because I've been through this many times, I sorta kinda know what the most common questions are. I will attempt to answer them here.

Likely question #1: What is the title of this new novel?
     Answer: Sorry, but that hasn't been finalized yet. The working title is Owen McKenna #18.

Likely question #2: Is Spot in this book?
     Answer: Yes. In addition to strong roles for McKenna, Street, Blondie, and Diamond, Spot will be in the book Lots. A big role. A star performance. (Can you tell that I've gotten lots of comments from readers about Spot?...)

Likely question #3: What is this book about?
     Answer: A deadly secret haunts a family that has a house in Tahoe. The result is the kidnapping of a teenage boy.

Likely question #4: Really? Is that all you're going to say about what the book is about?
     Answer: Okay, I'll also say that the book has a literary thread that many readers will have fun with. A thread that goes back almost exactly 420 years.

Thanks for the questions! One more thing. Those of you who read this blog will be the first to know the final title, the first to see what the cover looks like, and the first to find out the book's publication date and where I'll be to sign a copy for you.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Skiers And Boarders, An Avalanche Dog May Save Your LIfe

In the old days, if you were at a ski resort and got caught up in an avalanche and buried, you could well have been out of luck.

Even if someone witnesses the slide and reports it, this photo shows what ski patrollers see when they look up at an avalanche slide: A big, long pile of disturbed snow with no indication of where you might be buried.
Avalanche Slide - Is someone under that snow?
In the old days, the ski patrollers would line up across the slope and all march up while they poked poles into the snow in hopes of hitting a buried person before the person died, smothered by the snow. Unfortunately, the average person buried in an avalanche doesn't make it more than 20 minutes or so.

Today, however, every Tahoe resort has avalanche dogs on staff. If a patroller who has a trained dog sends it up the slope in the picture, the dog has an uncanny ability to find anyone buried by simply sniffing for the scent of humans.

If you're buried in an avalanche, hope this girl is nearby and given the command to find you!
A trained avalanche dog trots across the residue slide, searching for a scent. If they find it, they race to its source and start digging in the snow.

There is no machine, no imagining device, and no rescue technique that can do what a dog can do.

One more way that dogs are amazing.

Here is an article on the SFGate website about avalanche dog training. Avalanche Dogs

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Dog In A Victorian

You know how cats love to lounge in a sunny window...

I was in San Francisco this week, doing some research for my next book. We came upon a classy Victorian.  It had plenty of windows but no cats that we saw. But look at the left of the top-most windows. There was a dog lounging, jaw stretched out, resting on the windowsill. Looking north toward Alcatraz. Waiting for its owner to come home from work? From prison? There's a story in there someplace...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Wolves Play Fetch??!!

Wolf pups don't play fetch, right?
Or do they?
Dogs were domesticated from wolves a long time ago, maybe 30,000 years. The result of that domestication produced animals (dogs) that were very focused on humans, almost as if humans were gods to dogs. Humans provide dogs with shelter and food and companionship and protection. In return, dogs pay attention to every little thing regarding humans, and they can read human cues better than any other animal, better than chimps or elephants or cats or parrots. Some people believe that dogs can read human cues better than other people can! (Just try to get ready to take your dog for a walk without letting her know. It doesn't work. She always knows when you're going for a walk. Even if you spell all of your words and do your best to hide your intentions, she'll still know. How does she do it? I don't know!)

Dogs serve as guards and hunters and companions. They haul sleds with heavy loads. They pay attention to every little sound in your house when you are asleep. They sit on your couch and eat popcorn with you. They also serve as playmates like, for example, playing fetch.

Modern wolves are very different than modern dogs. In some ways they are more intelligent and better at solving puzzles. But when it comes to understanding humans, they don't come close to dogs. Dogs get what we want, and they try to deliver for us. Throw a ball and they go fetch it. Wolves don't do that.

Except, wait, maybe they do. A researcher was doing tests, showing that wolves won't fetch. She used multiple litters of wolf pups for subjects. She was thorough in every aspect of demonstrating that wolves won't retrieve a ball.

But then some did.

Another wrench in the science gears!

Here's a link: to the NPR story on wolves that fetch.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Peregrine Falcons In Tahoe!

The Peregrine Falcon is often mentioned as the fastest animal on the planet. Some reliable sources, such as National Geographic, say the bird can fly over 200 miles per hour in a dive. Accurate or not, the Peregrine is a magnificent bird.
Peregrines nearly went extinct several decades ago because of their sensitivity to the pesticide DDT in the environment. When DDT was finally banned, Peregrines made a slow comeback.

Peregrines are roughly the size of crows. They weigh up to 3 pounds (the females are significantly bigger than the males), and their wingspan can be 4 feet.

Like all raptors, Peregrines hunt their food using their amazing vision while they fly at high heights. They take a wide range of birds, including some much bigger than themselves. They occasionally feed on rodents as well

Recently, Peregrines were spotted in Tahoe at Castle Rock just to the north of Kingsbury Grade.

According to Tahoe In Depth, the newspaper put out by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Peregrines were seen at Castle Rock back in 2011 and they returned there for a few years. Then they weren't seen for a time.

Recently, they reappeared. Here's link to the article: Falcons at Tahoe.

What a cool bird to have in Tahoe!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A Toast To Sam Bauman

Long time Tahoe-area writer Sam Bauman died a few days ago. He was vital into his nineties.

Sam was a friend, a journalist, and a fellow novelist. He wrote for the Tahoe Tribune, the Nevada Appeal, and many other newspapers and journals and websites. He supported and wrote reviews of my novels, as I did of his. Sam lived and traveled and skied all over the world. 

Sam and I got together to talk shop and Tahoe over coffee and lunch. He invited my wife and I to dinners. Sam was also a writing teacher, although I don't know that he thought of himself that way. To this day, I still use some of the writing tips he gave me back when I was a newbie novelist in the early 2000s and he was a veteran writer. 

I will always appreciate Sam's presence in my life.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

And Then The Sun Comes Out!

Back-to-back storms, some decent snow. It's great to play in. But what about to look at?

Check it out.

On our walk today. Looking north.
The highest mountain in the distance is Mt. Rose, 10,778', about 30 miles away as the crow flies.
Just down the far side (6,300 vertical feet down) is Reno, which sits approximately 2,000 below the lake.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Tahoe Deep Free On Christmas

As I have done in many previous years, I'm making the Kindle version of Tahoe Deep free on Christmas! Please download it and send the link on to your friends and family. It will be free for a total of five days, December 25 - 29. This is my gift to you in thanks for your support over the years.

Here's the link:


Sunday, December 15, 2019

I Found My Dream Cabin On The Water... There's Just One Problem

Yes, it's true. After living in Tahoe for 29 years, my dream cabin came up for sale. It's not big, of course, but I can live with that. It's in Tahoma, not the easiest place to get in and out of during winter storms or the summer tourist season. But I can live with that, too. It's a bit short on the room count, but, as you can tell, I'm being agreeable here. The amount of blue-water view coming in the windows is a bit overwhelming. Maybe if we put up some black-out drapes, we wouldn't have to look at the lake.

So what's the problem. 3.5 million dollars.

Tell you what. I'll pass on this cabin so you can snatch it up fast. And even if 3.5 mil seems a bit much for you as well, just hang onto it for a year or two, and you can resell it for 5.

Want to see more pics or put in an offer? Here's a link:


Sunday, December 8, 2019

How To Get Audio Versions Of My Books

I get lots of requests to put my books on This is the modern version of Books-On-Tape. Audible works well, and I'd love to have my books available that way.

But it is a big project, and I haven't gotten to it yet.

However, there is a new technology that is fast improving and may eventually render Audible obsolete.  It is Kindle's Text-To-Speech function.

You don't have to read your Kindle books, you can LISTEN.

Here's the basics of how it works. Most books available on Kindle have the text-to-speech function enabled. It says if that's the case on every book's detail page on Amazon. If you have a recent version of a Kindle, it will likely "read" those books.

My books, for example, are all available to listen to with Kindle's text-to-speech.

All you need to do is learn a few steps for how to make it work. You can choose the type of voice you like, female, male, American, British, etc. There are Many choices. You can control the speed, certain accents, and other qualities.

The voice can be projected through a Kindle with speakers or through a separate speaker. You can connect your Kindle up to your car speakers or to headphones so you can listen during your commute.

You are of course wondering if the voice sounds like a synthetic robot or a real human. I was initially prejudiced and assumed that only a recorded human voice would be a reasonable way to listen to a book.

Yet I've listened to several of the voices and have been pleasantly surprised at how realistic they are. In fact, I was shocked at how good they are. I recommend you give it a try.

There are many Youtube videos that explain and show the process of how to get your Kindle to "Read" books out loud. Here are some links:

If these videos don't make it clear enough, I'm sure you can search out one that will make the process clear.

No doubt you can also find a fellow Kindle reader who can help show you the process. Call your friends and ask. It won't take long before you will hook up with a Kindle "Listener" who can walk you through the process.

Enjoy! I think you'll be surprised at how good the voices are.