Sunday, December 28, 2014

How Much Longer Does Each Day Get Over The Course Of Winter?

Tahoe is at 39 degrees of latitude, so our winter days aren’t nearly as short as in places farther north like Seattle or Minneapolis or “the Portlands,” either Oregon or Maine. Even so, I love longer daylight, and I wait for the days to start stretching out again after the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. But how much is the increase in daylight every day?

The answer would seem to be easy to calculate. One could take the difference in day length between the Winter Solstice (Dec 21st) and the Summer Solstice (June 21st) and divide by the number of days in that period (about 182).

In Tahoe, our shortest day is about 9 hours and 28 minutes. Come the Summer Solstice, our longest day is about 14 hours and 52 minutes. If you divide the difference (5 hours and 24 minutes) by 182 days, you’d think that our day length increases by about 1 minute and 46 seconds each day.

But that isn’t the case! In fact, the amount of the day length increase changes dramatically depending on the time of the year. For example, in the days right after the Winter Solstice, the day length increases by only a few seconds with each passing day. But come the Vernal Equinox (Mar 21st), the day length increases by 2 minutes and 31 seconds with each passing day. Why the disparity?

I did a little research, and here’s what I learned.

To help illustrate why, visualize a clockface.

Pardon my scratchy, hard-to-read printing!
(You can see why my wife is the artist in the family!)

The Earth is tilted about 23 degrees. In December, when the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun, we get a shorter day. In June, the opposite is true. The Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the sun, and we get a longer day.

As the Earth moves, it travels counter-clockwise when viewed from above. The closer the Earth is to the bottom of this sketch, the shorter the day in the Northern Hemisphere. In contrast, the closer the Earth is to the top of the sketch, the longer day.

But consider this. As the Earth moves from December 21st to January 21st, it's mostly just moved to the right on the sketch. It's gone very little toward the top. So the day length has increased just a smidgen in an entire month. 

But when the Earth gets to the part of its orbit from mid-February to mid-April, a month's worth of movement takes it much farther toward the top of its orbit, thus increasing the day length a lot!

Here's an example of what a difference that makes. In the ten days after the Winter Solstice, the total day length increase is only 2.5 minutes. But in the ten days after the Equinox, the day length increases about 25 minutes. Ten times as much! As represented on the sketch, that's because the Earth has moved ten times as much toward the place where we have the Summer Solstice.

So the next time you wonder how much day length increases or decreases, remember that it's completely dependent on the time of the year. At the Equinoxes, day length changes a lot every day. At the Solstices, day length barely budges.

Whew! Glad we figured that out, huh?!

P.S. I always wait for Owen McKenna's Ten/Ten Rule Of Sunlight to kick in on January 21st. Here's a blog about that.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tahoe Ghost Boat Kindle Will Be Free On Christmas

Hi Everybody,

Beginning Christmas Day, Tahoe Ghost Boat will be free on Kindle, and it will remain free for 5 days.

As of this writing, Tahoe Ghost Boat has 175 reviews, 155 of which are 5 stars, which gives an overall average of 4.8 stars. Thanks to all of you who have posted reviews!

For those of you who are wondering why anyone gives a book away for free, the answer is that it means that many people who don't know my books will try this one. Last year, my free book at Christmas was downloaded 95,659 times. A bunch of those downloads probably got lost in people's large Kindle libraries never to be seen again. But a lot of people read my book and loved it. And, yes, you guessed it, they bought my other titles.

The other reason a book giveaway is good for me is that last year my book went to #1 in the Kindle Free store across all categories and stayed there for 36 hours. That gave me a lot of exposure and made people curious. If they had never heard of me, they probably thought, who the heck is this guy at number one when I haven't even heard of him?!

So if you or someone you know is interested in a good, free Kindle book, please go to the Amazon page on Christmas. Here's the link: Tahoe Ghost Boat Free On Amazon 

Thanks very much for your interest and support!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Surfing Lake Tahoe!

I was at a book club a few months ago when someone asked me if it is really true that we can get five-foot swell on Lake Tahoe as is depicted in the Prologue of Tahoe Ghost Boat. I explained that we can and that it isn't that rare.

Last week's storm brought big winds (147 mph on Mount Lincoln at Sugar Bowl) and waves that were even higher than five feet. Some were reported to be seven feet.

Which, of course, brought out surfers!

You think surfing the Pacific is cold, wait until you surf Tahoe in the winter!

Here are photos from the Sacramento Bee.

Looks like waves on the North Shore of Kauai

This is a baby wave

The next wave coming looks perfect

Real wind

Waves like the ones depicted on the cover of Tahoe Ghost Boat

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Harvest Festival: Authors, What Are You Waiting For?

In the world of books, authors struggle to score a booksigning event. If they are lucky - there is a good crowd and the author is in good form - then he or she often sells just ten books. I know, because I've been there many, many times. Yes, I've had signings where I sold much more. I once sold 110 books at the Borders in Carson City. But I also once had a signing where I sold just one book. Ouch.

Then there is the world of festivals. No one goes to a festival to buy books. But thousands of people go, and some of them read books or have family and friends who are readers. Festival goers need presents for those on their gift list.

Here's the line waiting outside before the Sac Harvest Festival opened!
Unbelievable. The tickets aren't cheap, either.

The king of festivals may be the Harvest Festivals. There are nine of them and they are held in Northern and Southern California. They pack in the crowd. This year, I was able to fit in two of them, Sacramento and San Jose. I sold 174 books in Sacramento and 175 books in San Jose. Sweet. And during some of the past Harvest Festivals, I've done even better, as much as 193 books. And that doesn't count the hundreds of people who took my postcards and went home to (Hopefully!) download my books on their Kindle. 

Double sweet.

This is my booth. Nothing fancy.
A table, a banner, some signs, postcards, and books.
Because I was the only novelist (there was a woman with a cookbook),
every reader in the place stopped by. Some bought books.
Others pulled out their phones and got the Kindle version on the spot. 

Hey authors, I'm giving you the inside scoop, here. You simply won't find a better way to move books.

Is it expensive? Yes. Does it involve a big time commitment? Yes. Do you have to haul a lot of stuff to set up a booth and stock it with books? Yes. Is there any other way to sell more books in three days? Pretty much nope. And even though you won't make a profit in the beginning (Did you when you sold ten books at the bookstore? Or when you hired the publicist? Or when you placed that ad?), you will grow your audience, which will grow your career, which will eventually make you money.

Every aisle was crowded for most of three days.

Is there any other benefit to taking on such an exhibit? Yes. A decent number of people will go home and read the book they bought and then order all the rest of your backlist. (You do have a backlist, right? Or, if not, you are working on a backlist, right? Of course you are.) A decent number of people may be so charmed by your book's fantastic cover and your winning charisma that they decide to buy books for everyone on their gift list. Or include your book card with the Kindles they are buying for presents.

Want to read more? Here's another post about festivals.   And here is another.

P.S. Is there any reason you shouldn't exhibit your books at festivals?
Yes, if any of the following apply:
*You only have one or two books and no plans to quickly expand your offerings. 
*Your books aren't in a series or don't have some other obvious cohesion among them. i.e., when someone loves one of your books, they'll automatically buy the rest... if they're in a series. If no series, they won't assume they're going to like your other books.
*Your covers only look great to you.
*Your books have not yet gotten great reviews on Amazon (where everyone checks).
*You don't believe you can be charming, smiling, engaging, and positive.
*You don't have a compelling pitch that convinces readers that you have compelling books.

If you don't fit the exclusions above, go for it! You might find the experience to be the single best way to find new readers!