Back?

Hugh Todd

Hello everyone,

Well, it has been a while since I posted here, hasn’t it!

My father passed away in May which pretty well derailed my writing for a while. I’ve been trying to regain momentum, but this second novel has been a lot tougher to get into than the first. Still, it’s moving forward, little by little, so I guess I will finish it sometime!

After a break, I’ve started trying to sell my first novel, Changewinter, once again. Wish me luck!

Also, a bit of good news, my first published short story, Lens of the Void has been published in an e-book anthology: StarCraft: War Stories. It is available on Kindle or Kobo or maybe elsewhere. Baby steps!

I’ll be thinking of some more topics to post here, so let me know if you have any requests.

In summary: I’m still here and still writing.

 

Adventure Awaits

Hey Everyone!

I’ve decided to post a story I wrote for a friend of mine, Zachariah Owens. He has not only created his own pen and paper roll playing game (like dungeons and dragons for those of you who don’t follow such things), but has built an original world (populated with its own interesting races, factions and politics) for the game to be played in. He asked me to write a story that would help introduce and (hopefully) excite people about the world he so carefully put together. I jumped at the chance!

The story is supposed to give you a taste of Zach’s world and leave you wanting more, so hopefully it will be just self-descriptive enough to make sense. Any issues with it are, of course, all mine and no reflection on Zach’s amazingly creative mind!

Please enjoy Adventure Awaits and let me know what yo think of it by replying to this post.

New Year

Hello everyone!

I know it’s been a while, but I’m back from vacations and holidays and raring to go on all sorts of new projects I’ve been thinking about. But, first things first…

I went on a vacation with my wife and my parents to New Zealand. We flew to Auckland and cruised for fourteen days, hitting a number of port cities on New Zealand’s east coast, before heading to Sydney, Australia and then back to Auckland. True to what you saw in Lord of the Rings, New Zealand is an absolutely beautiful country!

I saw the youngest geothermal system in the world! Waimangu valley erupted in 1886 destroying an existing resort and world renowned tourist attractions. Now there’s a whole group of geysers, lakes and other interesting geological stuff to see.

Acid_lakeGeyser

We visited Wellington, home of the government and the burgeoning movie industry. There we saw shooting locations and got to visit Weta, the company that did the special effects for Peter Jackson’s films as well as Avatar, Tintin, Elysium and many other famous films.

Hobbit_fallTrolls

Dunedin (the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh) was a very cool university town that we visited in southern New Zealand. Lots of art galleries, a huge Cadbury factory and a few cathedrals. Also, there were a number of businesses there owned by Todds. I wonder if they are distant relations?

Todds Crypt_office

Fjordland National Park occupies the southwest corner of the South Island and is the largest of New Zealand’s 14 (14!!!) national parks. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping, kayaking and other such activities, but we cruised through it in our big ‘ol cruise ship. Breathtaking!

Fjords_2Fjords_3

We saw many beautiful places and I was outdoors enough to last me well into 2016!

Piha_BeachAuthor

More posts to come, including a new short story next week. Happy Holidays to everyone and welcome back to the real world!

State of the Union

Hugh Todd

Hi everyone! I thought I would give you all an update about the status of my current work and my plans for the futures.

I’m all done with my work on Changewinter, at least until I find a publisher or agent that want me to make some improvements to it. Currently, I’m querying agents to try and find one willing to represent it to publishers. No luck so far, but its only been a few weeks and these things (like everything involved in writing/publishing books) takes time. I have high hopes, but not high expectations, so at this point, my spirits are in good sorts. I have a good long list of agents to hit up and I’m pretty sure I can find more, so I may be working on this for a while.

My work on writing my second novel, tentatively titled Jack’s Fist has been slow, but consistent. I should finish the first draft by early next year at the latest. I’ve been pitching the idea for this novel as Mission Impossible set in an epic fantasy setting, but I’m now realizing that Jack’s Fist is really an origin story for the characters. It has turned into a whole bunch of world building (one of the reasons it’s been so slow), but the story itself has drifted a bit from the Mission Impossible idea. So, I’m already working on ideas for the next novel, set in the same universe, that would be much more MI-like. Not that Jack’s Fist is a waste of time. I would have needed to do this work before I could write the next novel anyway.

In between the two Jack novels I will probably write a couple of short stories that have been bouncing around inside my head for a while, just as a break between novel writing. Either way, I think I can get them, as well as the new Jack novel done by the end of next year to hopefully hit my planned novel-a-year schedule.

After that, (2015?), I plan to tackle an idea I’ve been working on for a while: Iconica. The idea is that some scientific experiment gone haywire (Large Hadron Collider?), changes a fundamental rule of quantum mechanics causing icons or symbols to have real-world effects. For example, a superman t-shirt might actually give someone limited invulnerability and strength. Or a wedding ring will actually influence people to become more faithful. I plan on using a World War Z-like format, that is a series of interviews with different people relating the growing changes made in the world by this effect. Should be fun!

Finally (2016?), I’m hoping that my writing chops will finally be up to tackling Coming of Age. This is my book about a story (anthropomorphised as a young man) who, like all untold stories, is trying to find a writer to tell him. I have a basic plot and lots of character ideas, but my first attempts to start this novel made me realize that I wasn’t quite good enough to tackle one of my favorite ideas.

Anyway, that’s my current plan. It is, of course, open to change based on actually selling something or any of the other various twists that life can put in your way.

What do you think?

Favorite Books

Hugh Todd

All right! Let’s do this. I’ve been saving this post for a while and now it’s time to put up or shut up. Or something.

I’m going to list my 15 (I couldn’t quite fit it into 10) favorite novels/series of all time, in no particular order, and why they are important to me. They may not be the best written, or the epitome of their genre, but these are books that I think about, reread and have shaped me as a reader, writer and person over the years. If any of you read other author’s blogs, you might have seen John Scalzi do one of these recently. I swear that I started this a while ago and have just now gotten around to finishing it. I swear!

Sorry in advance about all of the gushing. So without further ado…

1. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness is one of my favorite writers of Young Adult fiction. I very much enjoyed his Chaos Walking trilogy, but this, his first adult novel blew me away. I don’t usually prefer novels that intersperse fairy tales with modern settings (I couldn’t make myself finish Little Big), but Ness seems to balance the strange and the mundane perfectly. I was intrigued and confused by the ambiguity and satisfied by the ending all at once.

2.The Magicians/The Magician King by Lev Grossman

The first time I read it, I thought the first book was just okay. It’s kind of an adult version of Harry Potter that mixes the real world (the characters make pop-culture references like Harry Potter and such) with fictional (there is a series of novels that analog the Narnian Chronicles that figure prominently in the plot). I liked the plot and the characters, but the ending left me flat. It wasn’t until the second novel came out, and I reread the first novel and then continued on through the second one that the whole world came to life for me.  Grossman’s ability to create realistic characters is incredible. Nobody is good or evil, just some combination of good choices or bad ones that end up simulating the mores we impress upon the world around us. I eagerly await the third novel!

3. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold has been writing excellent science fiction and fantasy novels for decades. Great characters drive the plots in her novels, but The Curse of Chalion struck a different note. I’m not exactly sure what captured my interest. Was it the protagonist, a broken hero, just looking to find somewhere to live out the rest of his life with food and shelter? Or the world, a beautiful twist on fantasy where the gods actually have a presence. Either way, I loved the romanticism at the same time as I enjoyed the meticulousness of the worldbuilding.

4. Helm by Steven Gould

Steven Gould has written a number of smart, fun, easy to read novels including the popular Jumper which was made into a not-as-good-as-the-book movie. While I’ve enjoyed all of his books, Helm had the most interesting ideas for me. Helm is a post-earth story of a young man you accidentally uses of a helmet that holds someone’s personality and suddenly he must deal with sharing his brain with another person. The bad guys want to get a hold of the helm, because it could be used to imprint whatever beliefs they want upon whomever wears it. It also gets big bonus points for including very well described scenes involving Aikido!

5. Startide Rising by David Brin

David Brin is another author you can’t go wrong with. Great characters, deep ideas and a profound ability to get you into the head of some very non-human thinkers all make Startide Rising one of his best novels. It is the story of the first all-dolphin crewed starship and the galactic-sized ruckus caused by the discoveries they make. If you like this one, there are five other novels set in the same amazingly well thought out universe.

6. The Name of the Wind/Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

If I had to pick just one book as my absolute favorite, it would be The Name of the Wind. Set in a very non-cliche fantasy world, it tells the story of a brilliant young man and the world-shaking adventures that somehow end up with him living as an unknown innkeeper in a backwater village. An amazingly real-feeling protagonist who constantly surprised me, a world with all of the depth and mystery of our favorite storybook worlds and a theme that runs so subtly through each book that one can just barely detect its silhouette are all reasons that everyone should read this book! Be warned that while the first and second books of the trilogy are out, we don’t even have a publish date on the third book. It might be a while, but I have no doubt it will be the worth the wait.

7. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

I loved Ender’s Game when I was in college. Over the years, my perception of it has waned. I still enjoy the story, characters and such, but it seems more shallow than I remember it. Also, many of OSC’s books since then have used characters that spoke and thought like the young Ender. However, for Speaker for the Dead, re-readings have only cemented it as one of my favorite books of all time. The depth of character and grittiness of some of the character’s sadness is a good start. What really gets me is the empathy many of the characters learn within the story, not only for those humans among them that think and believe differently, but for the true alien, who lives in a strange world that humans can barely understand. Orson Scott Card’s considerable powers as an author are at their finest here.

8. Green by Jay Lake

Jay Lake’s work covers a fascinating gamut from clockwork-steampunk to sci-fi/fantasy mixup like China Mieville to full-on hard science fiction to fantasy. Green is in this last category and Lake writes as well in this genre as any of the others, which is to say incredibly well. Green seems to fit a genre of the talented child “recruited” to be taught the skills necessary to become a mover and shaker in her world. But part way through, she takes her own path, which leads her to be an assassin (!) and mother (!), not just of people but of gods as well. Lake’s book can sound like other’s but the details of his writing and the unexpected turns of his plots lend a freshness to his books that I very much enjoy.

9. Lens of the World by R. A. MacAvoy

Many of the writers of the books I have listed here have written a ton of great books and R. A. MacAvoy is no exception. I like all of her books, but none grabbed me the way Lens of the World did. The book is about a very unusual young man who accidentally happens upon a very unusual teacher and the events that unfold as a consequence of that meeting. It is about the beginnings of science in an almost-fantasy setting (it’s a bit ambiguous about the fantasy, in a good way). The title refers to a reference made by the teacher that the protagonist was “the lens of the world: the lens through which the world may become aware of itself.” I have re-read this book many times and fall in love with it again every time.

10. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Max Brooks has only written one other book and that was the cute Zombie Survival Guide. One of the impulse purchase type of books, it did nothing to prepare the public for the power, insight and sheer realness of this war story. Written as a series of interviews with people who survived the world-destroying apocalypse, this book manages to give you a number of strikingly different short stories that cohere beautifully together to form a true plot about the beginning of, war with and finally triumph over a pandemic that almost destroys all human life. Don’t be put off by the zombies in the title. This book is about people surviving a war. The movie was decent, but nowhere as good as the book.

11. Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Part fairy tale, part mystery, part satire, Bridge of Birds is a wonderfully tasty novel set in a mythical china. Hughart only wrote a few more books and then stopped, much to the sadness of many readers. Bridge of Birds is one of the few humerous books on this list and I can’t recommend it enough.

12. The Cursed by Dave Duncan

Dave Duncan is another author who’s written dozens of books, all well written, fun and original, but Duncan hasn’t gotten the fame his prowess deserves. Of all of his books, The Cursed is my favorite. In the book, a plague ravages a a world, killing some, but imparting “gifts” on others. But each of these gifts comes with a drawback. These gifts can be powerful, but deadly. The characters are memorable and the world, as usual, well thought out. You can’t go wrong with anything by Dave Duncan, but this is one of his best.

13. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

A fairly new writer (at least on this list), Brandon Sanderson rocketed to fame by helping to finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’m happy to say (here’s where I get a bit hipsterish), that I’ve been reading his books well before his recent popularity. He is an author to watch and everything points to his books only getting better with time. The Way of Kings is epic fantasy, but set in a world so encompassing, that Sanderson has said that almost all of his books fit in the same universe somehow. But like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Way of Kings (#1 of the Stormlight Archive) is the story describing the spine of that universe. It is a great book, but a small warning: it is the first book of a ten (for now) book series that will probably end sometime in the 2020’s. I can’t wait!

14. The Blade Itself (First Law Trilogy #1) by Joe Abercrombie

I put the first book up there, but I’m really counting the other two in the trilogy as part of that. From the description of the books, Joe Abercrombie’s trilogy seems like another epic fantasy, but right from the beginning, Abercrombie turns fantasy convention on it’s ear. Gritty (I know that’s a bit overused these days), dark, but with moments of optimism, The First Law makes fantasy feel like it might just be real. Characters have real motivations and make mistakes and nobody is either truly good or evil. Later books are set in the same universe and I will continue to buy them as long as Abercrombie keeps writing them.

15. Caverns (The Journey’s of McGill Feighan #1) by Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.

Another book that is just one example of a great author’s work. This science fiction writer has written books that predicted global warming, the internet, crowdsourcing and many other things long before they were on the horizon. Based on his description, I can only hope that teleportation as presented in Caverns becomes one of those realized predictions. Great characters, a engaging plot and an overarching mystery make these books easy to read and fun to think about. Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. unfortunately passed away last year, but I can still reread his books and enjoy them for years to come.

There are lots more books and authors that I enjoy, so it is difficult to restrict it to just 15. Maybe I’ll come back in a couple of years and add more to the list. Please share some of your favorites or let me know if you agree/disagree with any of my choices.

The Horror

Hugh Todd

I have a weird interest/non-interest in horror (and by that I mean the genre). I’ve read a number of horror novels and short stories. I don’t usually find them particularly scary, but I can appreciate the way they pull at the strings connected to the pieces of the mind that make people uncomfortable. I will read anything by Stephen King, although it feels to me that he hasn’t written anything truly horror-esque in years. I’ve tried a few others, but never really got hooked on any other authors, with the recent exception of Joe Hill. A few months ago I read Horns and enjoyed it quite a bit. I don’t know why, but I assumed he was a fairly unknown writer, so it was a surprise when I found out the book was being made into a movie staring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, for those who don’t know). And then in a recent conversation with my sister, I found out that Joe Hill is actually the pen name of Joseph Hillstrom King, the son of Stephen King. What a coincidence! So far, I’ve read Horns and Heart Shaped Box. Both of them had the instinctive creepiness of his father’s early work, but the satisfying happy endings of his father’s later work. It’s the best of both worlds!

I’ve seen a fair amount of horror movies, although I haven’t really been freaked out by one since I saw Carrie on TV when I was ten or so. Again, I don’t really find them scary, but I appreciate the attempt. So while I don’t really care for the attempts to scare me, I don’t mind the added tension where it fits with in a good story and interesting characters. In fact, my first short story when I first started this whole amazing journey was an attempt at a horror story set in the Diablo universe of my previous employer, Blizzard Entertainment. It was lots of fun to write and I’ve often thought of trying my hand at a horror novel. Of course, I might have trouble finding beta readers for that one.

Anyone have any great examples of horror in any medium? What do you think?

Not on *MY* Blog!

Hugh Todd

Not much to report these days. Still waiting on the proofread of my first novel. Still writing the second one; it’s a bit of a slog at the moment, but I think I’ve figured out why. Another step on the road to figuring out how my process works: complete outlines. I had finished a pretty general outline with the idea that I would get past the beginning (which I had planned out carefully) and wing the middle. It turns out that winging doesn’t work very well for me. After banging my head against a brick wall for a number of weeks, I went back and figured out the plot, chapter by chapter. I’m not saying I won’t change things as I go along, but my hope is that I will be able to continue writing much more quickly than I have. We will see!

I’ve covered most of the general types of subjects I had planned on writing about so far, so I thought I would mention some subjects I don’t plan on covering .

Religion and politics are a good start. My beliefs aren’t particularly radical, but they are my own. At this point in my life, I’ve given them a fair amount of thought and while I try to remain open to other viewpoints, I’m guessing there isn’t a whole lot of information or arguments that are going to sway my beliefs drastically. Alternately, I’m not such a good persuasive writer that I believe that my arguments are going to turn around some wrong-headed person and get them in the right (read my) direction. So, I won’t be bringing up religion or politics and I encourage others who (someday) post on my blog to do the same.

Please feel free to discuss, agree or disagree with anything I write here, either personally or publicly, but hopefully the subjects I discuss will not be so vital to one’s person that feelings will be hurt or people offended. Let’s play nice!

Also, I won’t be writing reviews of things I don’t love. I read a lot of books, watch a fair number of movies and watch some TV. I (of course) have an opinion about everything that I experience, but the last thing I want to do is affect someone’s livelihood. I may not like a book, but hopefully there are plenty of other people that do and I wish success on all authors, actors, directors, etc. I’m not saying that my opinion will have much of an effect on anyone’s career, but just in case, I will pass on critical reviews. That being said, I would appreciate anyone’s criticism of my own work, either blog, story, book or otherwise. I intend to get better and the only way I’m going to do that is by finding out what people *didn’t* like about my work.

On a side note, I just read a book that I liked very much. It is called Interrupt by Jeff Carlson. It is an excellent fast-paced current-day sci-fi thriller. I would put it in the general current-day thriller category except the scientific ideas were so well researched and explored that it scratched itches in multiple parts of my psyche.

Anybody have any thoughts on the subject?

The Door

Hugh Todd

One of my original ideas with this blog was to post stories. I’m starting with a very short story called The Door.

Actually, I’m not even sure it could be called a story; maybe it’s just a scene, but you can be the judge. It hasn’t been edited by anyone but me, so please let me know if you see anything that should be fixed. And, of course, please let me know what you think of story itself, by replying to this post!

Also, please note the new feature on the bottom right of the page. Here you can subscribe to my blog posts and get them by email.

Enjoy!

Science Fiction vs. Fantasy

Hugh Todd

I love both.

I like other genres too. In fact I really like well told stories of just about any kind, but I find myself, more often than not, drawn to science Fiction and fantasy. There are enough great sci-fi and fantasy authors out there, that I don’t really need to dip my toes into other pools to get satisfyingly told stories, so I usually just stick to my favorite genres. Occasionally I will try other things, because I think its good for me, or because I’ve heard that a book is so incredibly good that I must try it.

But mostly I just read sci-fi and fantasy. So that begs the question, what qualifies as sci-fi or fantasy?

The industry tends to divide books by market: mysteries go on one shelf, science fiction & fantasy on another (unless it is a huge store or a specialty store that divides them up), horror goes over there. The industry and the stores are trying to tell the customers that if they love a particular book, here are a lot more right next to them that you might also want to buy. A term thrown around to describe both is Speculative Fiction (although one might ask if there is any fiction that isn’t speculative in some way?). An interesting thing that I’ve read about genre markets (I’m not sure exactly where I read this) is that while there are fewer runaway successes, sales are bit more dependable. That is, a book sold under popular, or general fiction has a chance to sell a million copies, but also might not sell any, while a book sold as genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, horror) has much less chance of selling a million copies, but also has much less chance of not selling any. The explanation given is that genre readers are more open to trying new authors within the genre than the general reader.

As the industry finds certain groups that it identifies as buying certain types of books, it often creates new sub genres to tap into that demand, thus the genre children’s books has turned into children’s: picture book, children’s: middle grade, children’s: young adult and new adult (generally defined as 18-25). Sci-fi and fantasy have their own sub-genres, such as urban fantasy, hard sci-fi, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc. This is useful to someone working in marketing in the industry as well as to an author trying to market themselves. For example, an author might say that they write urban fantasy with the idea that if you love urban fantasy, you might be interested in their work. Other authors would prefer to not have their work classified. I’ve read of authors that feel trapped by the genre their work as previously been published under.

As most bookstores tend to lump science fiction and fantasy together, is there a difference? Of course that’s like asking is there a difference between ska and reggae. To some people, they like both and don’t really care, to others you are mixing up two totally different styles of music. And of course some people like one and not the other. The same is true in literature.

So what is the difference? Isaac Asimov supposedly said that the difference between science fiction and fantasy was that science fiction, given its grounding in science, is possible; fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, is not. This is pretty easy to pick apart as much sci-fi (even hard sci-fi, or especially rigorously scientific sci-fi) include faster-than-light travel, which current science says is most likely impossible. Some science fiction turns out to not be possible, such as War of the Worlds; it turns out that there is not life on Mars. Not to mention, there’s always the “any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic” argument.

Another argument says that science fiction attempts to explain the supernatural events, while fantasy decides not to explain it. For example, if there is a unicorn in a book, a sci-fi writer might explain that it was genetically engineered or that it was a mutation brought upon by a runaway virus. A fantasy writer might say that the unicorn was one of the first magical beasts or that it was an expression of pure good or innocence, but generally the author doesn’t try to explain why they differ physiologically from a normal horse.

My favorite argument (mostly because I find it so thought provoking) is from David Brin. He argues ( I am paraphrasing) that science fiction looks to the future and embraces change, while fantasy looks to the past and seems to hold that the general situation will always stay the same.

For example, Star Trek shows us a future where scarcity, racism, sexism and other current ills have been conquered. And where they haven’t been, the protagonists struggle to move the federation and the other species that humans meet, towards that same goal. It would seem to be science fiction, by this definition.

Lord of the Rings is set in a world where the elves have fallen from their great power and are on the verge of mass retirement. Not much is left of the great Men of the West and even Sauron is defeated by a mere hobbit. Nothing like the early days when all of the races created wonders of craftsmanship and architecture that couldn’t even be imagined by the third age. Good triumphs over evil, but the peasants in the countryside are living pretty much the same way they did in the first and second ages: fodder for the genetic elite. This must be fantasy!

One might think that Star Wars was sci-fi. It has space ships and blasters for goodness sake. However, it is set in a galaxy where there used to be some golden age. Jedi used to be much more powerful and plentiful, the republic used to be run by altruists and the Sith had been all but defeated. In the movies, we are instead faced by fallen heroes and grumpy aging gurus that can’t get over how bad things have gotten. Again, good triumphs over evil, but aren’t there still whole armies running around suppressing people? And isn’t there still rampant slavery on Tatooine? By this definition, it looks to be fantasy.

That all being said, this definition, while thought provoking, tends to speak rather poorly of fantasy. And while I can appreciate the criticism inherent in this argument, I still love the Star Wars movies, Tolkien and any number of other fantasy novels that fit the above definition.

What do you think?

Alien world of the Galapagos

Hugh Todd

So, I just spent a week in the Galapagos Islands.

As vacations go, it wasn’t on the top ten list of destinations I’ve always wanted to visit, but some family were going and there was one cabin open on the small ship, so we went for it. I thought, when is the next time I’m going to have an ready-made opportunity to go someplace as unique as the Galapagos islands.

It, of course, turned out to be very different than what I had imagined. I knew it was on the equator (around 600 miles west of Ecuador). I knew that Charles Darwin’s trip there helped inspire his later theory of evolution. I expected it to be hot and humid, lush with plants and animals, much like other south pacific islands I’ve visited.

Author

While there are parts of the Galapagos that are wetter than others, our guide said that the annual rainfall is around 30 inches, which isn’t much next to many islands in the pacific. The dry parts were as desert-like as anyplace I’ve been. The islands are volcanic and active, the most recent eruption happening in 2009. However, because of a low silica content in the magma, they eruptions aren’t explosive and most of the islands are wide and the volcanoes aren’t particularly steep.

CoveLava_field

While the plants and animals are often quite different from their mainland counterparts,  there isn’t a huge variety and it seemed like there were a number of holes in the ecosystem. For example, the animal highest on the food chain (apart from the nearby killer whales) is the Galapagos Hawk. It will eat many of the finches and most eggs or hatchlings of the various animals. However, once most of the animals get above a certain size (apart from the finches, which never get very big), they have no predators. This, combined with the islands being a protected park since the 1950’s, means that most animals aren’t bothered by or particularly scared of humans.

Blue_footed_boobySea_Cliff

I had an awesome time! I saw plants that didn’t look like any plant I’d ever seen before. I watched a single newly hatched sea turtle make its way to the surf (only 3% make it alive to the water!). I saw a 400 pound tortoise wallow in a pond. I walked on a 1000 year old lava field only just barely beginning to look terrestrial. I watched a blue footed booby show off its feet to attract a mate. I played chicken with a young sea lion over and over, while others swarmed around, pitying us being such lame swimmers.

Mass_o_IguanasWeird_plantlife

On a strange note, a few scenes I had written in my new book take place in a lava tube. Little did I know that a month later, I would be walking around in one! Luckily, my description (bolstered by wikipedia), was pretty accurate.

Lava_tube Tortoise

It wasn’t the most restful vacation I’ve been on. I hiked and swam multiple times a day and didn’t sleep so well as the ship moved us over not-so-smooth seas to the next visiting spot. But we ate well and I very much enjoyed the interesting sights that the islands had to offer. If you are at all interested in geology or odd plants and animals that nature has ingeniously devised, this is the destination for you! And now… back to writing!

Sea_shore