Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Red Gloves" just received its 10th FIVE-STAR review....

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, April 12, 2013

This review is from: Red Gloves (The Samaritans Conspiracy - Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
I purchased this book quite a long time ago and didn't get around to reading it until now because the books on my to-be-reviewed pile tend to take precedence over ones I buy simply because I know that the authors are waiting for the review to be posted. When I finally did read it, I remembered why I bought it and wondered why I waited so long.

I've read a couple of other Tim Greaton novels and apart from his obvious skill with words and story, I always loved the theme of the power of compassion that I saw in them. At first, I thought that this book didn't have that because it reads like a normal kind of mystery, and a very good one at that, but the end held the trump card. Sure enough, there was Mr Greaton's signature heart-warming story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things through their commitment to helping others in a very real, hands on way. There is so much in our world that is hard and uncaring, and so much of that is reflected in mainstream popular fiction that it is a real delight to read a novel that models the best of human behaviour.

I cannot fault this book. The characters are complex and very real, as are their challenges, motivations and reactions, and the plot drives along at the perfect pace. You're keen to keep reading, but it doesn't speed up your heart-rate so much that you can't sleep. I was totally invested in the happiness of the lead character shared her joys and fears as if they were my own.

The main character is a female cop and in the course of the story deals with drug addiction in her teenage son, the murder of his friends, a looming divorce and the mystery of the man in the red gloves. He first appears in the case she is working on, then again in other cases, but he doesn't appear to have done anything criminal, quite the opposite. Who is he is and what does he have to do with the events surrounding her son. The answer when it comes is as surprising to the reader as it is to her.

I believe that Mr Greaton has outdone himself here. This is a story to hold and entertain the fussiest of mystery readers and yet it still manages to leave us with, not only hope, but also a suggestion that might just change your life.

I highly recommend this.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview with talented Marla Blowers, author of the Young and Naive series....


Today, in the forum, I’m pleased to have my friend Marla Blowers.  She’s here to talk about her writing journey, the Young and Naïve series, and a little about her upcoming project.  

Tim Greaton: It’s great to finally have you here in the forum, Marla. As writers, we’re used to putting characters in difficult circumstances, but you lived through a period that not even our characters have endured. Could you tell us about it?

Marla Blowers: I was raised in the Midwest, Nebraska to be exact. I wasn’t an only child but I came along so late that I am actually closer in age to my nieces and nephews. I will share one very memorable time in my childhood, and one that I am sure most children have not experienced. Thank God! At a very young age I ran onto a highway and was hit by a truck. I spent a month in traction and then wore a body cast. I basically had to learn to walk all over again. I can remember the ride to the hospital and throwing up in the emergency room. I celebrated a birthday in the hospital, one young boy messed with the levers on my bed and my legs dropped down. My sister also snuck a puppy into the hospital as a gift, of course it didn’t get to stay there but I had it to look forward to when I got home.

Tim Greaton: Since you can’t write one hundred percent of the time, what hobbies keep you busy in your off hours? 

Marla Blowers: I love to sew! Not mending but actually designing a garment or item. I have sewn since I was in Junior High. I still even have some of those patterns I used way back when and they were only .65 now you can pay $18.00 or more for a pattern. You name it I have probably sewn it. I also have an embroidery machine and if I could I would embroider on anything. Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately for some relatives and friends, not everything will fit into the hoop. I have read you can embroider on toilet paper but that just seems like a waste. (She grins)

Tim Greaton: I often get emails asking me when the next book in one or another series is coming out. Apparently, I need to take some lessons from you. It seems like you went from one book to three in now time. Do you have other works stashed away in a closet waiting for release?

Marla Blowers: Funny you should ask. I just pulled 3 manuscripts out of cobwebs just a little over two years ago. I was saddened every time I came across them and a few times almost tossed them out. But finally I decided I needed to do this for me. So in March of 2011, I began working on them, and in August of 2011 my first book was published. Eight months later the 3rd one was on the market. So to answer your question currently nothing but clothes are in my closet. 

Tim Greaton: I love how imaginative writers can be, but you’ve taken it to a whole new level. Could you share how your creativity occasionally spills over into the non-writing world? 

Marla Blowers: For a few years, whenever my husband or I were supposed to pick up someone at the airport (including each other) we always dressed up in silly costumes. For example, he picked me up at the airport and he was dressed up like a devil with a pitchfork holding a sign that read ‘Whenever you go, everything goes to hell’. And once I dressed up almost like a hooker to pick him up. It really wasn’t that bad but for me it felt pretty daring. The funniest one however was a time before 9-11 when you could go all the way to the gate to meet the arrivals. My husband and I were there to pick up my sister and her husband and we cross dressed. I was dressed like a real nerd in yellow pants and glasses with tape holding them together. My husband wore a bright orange mumu, bright red lipstick, swinging a purse on one elbow. He also had a 5 o’clock shadow. The best part was watching people’s reaction to us. They truly didn’t know if we were for real or not. They kind of looked at us out of the corner of their eyes. My sister however was appalled and tried to pretend she didn’t know us. She didn’t even want to walk out to the car with us.


Tim Greaton: (Takes a minute to stop laughing.) I’m glad I wasn’t in the middle of a drink, Marla. Is there a book or a story that impacted your life?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie take a step closer to space....

We've talked about it on numerous occasions, but it warrants a brief recap: humans are progressing to space one step at a time. You'll also notice that many of those steps are taking place weekly and sometimes even daily. A humans-in-space future with robots of all types, holographic technologies and mind-blowing medical advances is rushing at us quite quickly, and if it makes you smile even a little, it's worth noting the steady progress.

(photo: compliments of Virgin Galactic)
Today, we're talking about a subsidiary of adventurer Richard Branson's famous Virgin conglomerate. Virgin Galactic has taken a page straight out of NASA's shuttle program. Their WhiteKnightTwo (you have to love their ship names) is a large launch vehicle designed and built specifically to boost a smaller "space delivery" vehicle to 10 miles above Earth. When fully operational, the smaller ship will then break free and travel an additional 58 miles up to the edge of space.

On April 5th, 2013, the company successfully "drop tested" the smaller ship and allowed it to return on its own to the California's Mojave Air and Space Port. During the test, the company says SpaceShipTwo was able to rotate its tail up to 65-degrees from the ship's space-age composite body, increasing the drag force and helping to slow the vehicle during its return. Various components of the rocket motor system were also tested successfully.

"The flight went great," said George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's CEO. "The team executed very well throughout and brought us another important step closer to first powered flight."

For those who aren't aware, the Virgin Galactic's business model currently includes plans for sub-orbital tourist spaceflights, suborbital space science missions and full orbital launches of small satellites. The SpaceShipTwo tourist program will allow for six passengers and two crew members to fly to the uppermost reaches of our atmosphere (68 miles above Earth).

The total time from the White Knight booster's desert take off and SpaceShipTwo's landing after the sub-orbital flight will be about 2 1/2 hours. Passengers will experience weightlessness and be able to float around the cabin for 6 minutes during the apex of the trip when the view will be black space around them and blue Earth below. As of May 2012, there were around 550 ticket-holders who had paid $200,000 each. Some of the more famous people on that list include Stephen Hawking, Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie.

It's worth noting that California's Mojave Air and Space Port and industrial park is currently home to dozens of companies, many of which are engaged in flight development, advanced aerospace design and flight test and research. When we consider that there are now similar private space launching facilities in Texas, Alaska, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia and Oklahoma (which doesn't even include the various private & government facilities located in many military bases across the country) it starts to become clear that the effort to reach space has grown into a full-fledged commercial race.

Make no mistake about it, mankind is about ready to burst onto the interplanetary stage.

Will you leave Earth for even 6 minutes when the time comes? 

Bones in the Tree: A Comical Look at Life and Dating After Divorce


Saturday, April 6, 2013

NASA plans to drag a second Moon from space...

Okay, to be more correct, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) on April 5th said that the president's 2014 federal budget request will likely include one hundred million dollars as a down payment for a special NASA project. Specifically, the space agency will be tasked with capturing and dragging a 500-ton asteroid and parking it in a stable orbit around the Moon, effectively giving our Moon it's own mini-moon. There it will become a mining resource and a scientific study location. It might also serve as a base for other moon and mars colony ventures. Robotic spacecraft are expected to do all the heavy lifting, and then sometime in 2021 Astronauts would walk on the asteroid's surface. The total project cost is expected to run about 2.5 billion dollars.

Why would we do this when we have so many pressing needs right here on Earth?

Probably the strongest argument would be that on February 15th, 2013, at about 9:20 am local time, a 10-ton meteor about 49 feet wide streaked into our atmosphere at 33,000 miles per hour and exploded 18-32 miles in the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains. The blast shattered windows for miles and injured upwards of 1,100 people. On the same day, a massive 150-foot asteroid, weighing 143,000 tons, just missed Earth by a little over 17,000 miles. That means it came closer than many of our current orbiting satellites.

We are literally sitting ducks in a galactic shooting gallery. In 1908, an asteroid exploded a short distance above the ground over Tunguska, Siberia. The blast was more than 1,000 times stronger than the Hiroshima atom bomb. 830 square miles of dense forest was flattened as if stomped on by a giant foot. Since the comet or asteroid (there is some debate about the specifics) that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, our Earth has seen similar, smaller-scale impacts hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. If we don't learn how to stop, or at the very least deflect, an incoming asteroid, our species is doomed to relive the dinosaurs' rather unpleasant demise.

There are other less calamitous but equally viable reasons for undertaking this mission, not the least of which is that every time humankind makes a major technological push, there are thousands of smaller but valuable discoveries along the way. Did you know that NASA has already given us memory foam (originally named temper foam), freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, emergency "space blankets", Dustbusters, cochlear implants, and now Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuits? In all, the space program is credited with more than 1600 technological advances that are used everyday in computers, medicine and advanced engineering around the world.

However, maybe the most convincing argument, aside from protecting our planet, is that we need an infrastructure for the human race to move out into the solar system and beyond. There are a dozen companies currently amassing funding and technologies to make commercial space ventures possible, but ultimately it is going to require many missions and as well as multiple fueling, mining, and station facilities to allow humans to become truly multi-planetary and thereby safe from a possible, and some say inevitable, Earth extinction event.

In short, NASA's asteroid retrieval project will be another rung in that important ladder to our future.

What do you think?