Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Solar Flares and Mass Hallucinations

A solar flare credited for global hallucination – is this from
prophecy?


No. In my book, Comet Dust, this was purely an invention of mine. 

I figure when the Illumination of Conscience actually goes down, also referred to as The Warning, the secular world will desperately try to explain away the possibility that it came from Divine origins. Thus, the reason I needed an event large enough to affect the whole world; something science and the secular media could embrace. 

After brain-storming awhile, I decided the sun was big enough to take the blame. However, a question remained . . . can a solar flare cause hallucinations? 

From what I found in my research, the answer is probably not, so I kept digging for a natural source that might trigger hallucinations. This eventually led to the subject of Infransonic Sound. 

The term "infrasonic" applies to sound waves below the frequencies of audible sound, basically anything under 20 Hz. Sources of infrasound in nature include volcanoes, avalanches, earthquakes and meteorites.  And, the best part, according to a study done in 2008, exposure to levels above 80db between 0.5Hz and 10Hz causes vibrational movements within the ear’s functions, which are said to cause psychological changes such as fear, sorrow, depression, anxiety, nausea, chest pressure and hallucinations (ECRIP. 2008. Infrasound. Retrieved from http://www.eastcoastrip.org/did-you-know/ infrasound). Other sources claimed that infrasonic waves can even cause deeply religious experiences. Eureka!

I had my source, but there was no mention of solar flares causing infrasonic waves. Nonetheless, the scientific community in my novel confirmed that the solar flare caused infrasonic waves, which resulted in massive religious hallucinations around the globe. After all, Comet Dust is fiction and making stuff up is the fun part of writing in this genre!

Recently, it was recently brought to my attention that another author of a new-ish work of non-fiction, proposes that a solar flare will be given the credit for causing  the Illumination of Conscience. So I just want to be clear that there is no prophecy that I’m aware of that says anything about a solar flare getting the credit for a global hallucination. It's came from me, the author of Comet Dust. Although the story is based on real prophecy, certain parts like the solar flare sprung from my imagination. In literature, this is referred to as poetic liberty.

However, truth sometimes follows fiction, (for example, the corona virus, and Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz), so who knows?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sign Up To Win A Soap Rock!

Click Here for Amazon
Click Here for these other fine Retailers

My Inspiration for this Giveaway: The Wish Thief

The teen heroine of The Wish Thief, Glory Alley, comes from a poor and painfully dysfunctional family, but that doesn't stop her from pursuing her dreams. She plans to grow up to be a geologist, but her current goal is to strike it rich in Queen's Mesa. The money wouldn't be just for her though. She plans to use it to keep her struggling family from falling apart.So on winter break, Glory busies herself exploring the mesa's underground tunnels in search of gems with her best friend Clash. Against the odds, she finds a treasure beyond compare, but wouldn't you know it, nothing is that easy. Otherworldly beings show up to steal it away. However, they have never met a girl like Glory. A battle of wits versus magic magic ensues. As the stakes go up, Glory must decide if her ungrateful loved ones are worth the risk.

So in honor of my favorite spelunker and her passion for petrology (the study of rocks), I'm giving away Soap Rocks*. Which may prompt you to ask, what the heck are Soap Rocks?  

Well, they are soaps that look like rocks. Yep, really. They retail on Amazon for $12-$18 a bar.

They look awesome, smell great, and the best part--I have a handful of Soap Rocks to giveaway! Some will go to new subscribes and others to those who have followed me from early on. 

There will be random drawings up until Christmas. The scents and styles vary. Winners won't know what they're getting until it shows up in their mailbox.

CONTEST ENDED MARCH 14, 2019

HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR THE GIVEAWAY?

Super easy.

If you already follow my blog, there is nothing more to do. You are already eligible.

If you want to subscribe now, CLICK HERE or use the form off to the side of the screen. You are now eligible to win a Soap Rock and automatically eligible for future giveaways.


These names were chosen at random.
Congratulations To:

Brittney from Helena, MT
Anonymous from DC
Kandice from Casper, WY
Jewel from Pineville, LA
Ben from Mesilla, NM
Anonymous from OH



Sincerely,

C.D. Verhoff







*Soap Rocks is a registered trademark of T.S. Pink and I have no affiliation with them. 


**Please note, only continental United States addresses are eligible for giveaways because shipping costs are crazy.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Escape the Machine . . . today!

If you enjoyed Resist the Machine (Avant Nation, Book #1), now is a good time to read the sequel, Escape the Machine (Avant Nation, Book #2). 

It' only $0.99 for a limited time. 


In Avantica, it's work or perish.

The Avant Nation series . . . opens after the Second Civil War has dissolved the United States. The south is now Avantica, a nation built on genetic engineering. In the north there’s the Liberty Union Democracy, a nation violently opposed to Avantica’s ideologies. Clara, the protagonist, is a young medic caught in the middle. The questions she finds herself asking are issues we face today. How much influence should the government have over healthcare and education? How will genetic engineering shape the future? Who will control the gene pool? In exchange for comfort and security, what freedoms are we willing to give away? However, the novel’s focus isn’t on politics or science.  It’s a suspenseful coming-of-age story with lots of action and a touch of romance.


The main character, Clara Spinner . . . is an Avant. An Avant is someone from the nation of Avantica, where everyone is genetically engineered. Their genetic codes, occupations and expiration dates are predetermined by the government.  Clara was created to be a good match for a job in medical field. She is supposed to be studious, compliant and compassionate by design. Her adventurous streak and sense of humor are aberrations that could get her exiled to the mysterious colony for for Avants who deviate from their genetic blueprints. Suppressing her true nature is a constant struggle. Nonetheless, she takes the view that no system is perfect. Despite a few negatives, Avantica is still the best country in the world.

Guided by the philosophy that the good of the nation outweighs the good of the individual, Avantica has grown wealthy and strong. Clara doesn’t question the rhetoric until she enters the workforce as a medical technician, specializing in the field of memory retrieval. Seeing the government’s heartless policies applied to the sick and injured is a wakeup call. She loves her country, but comes to doubt the motives of its leadership. Clara keeps her concerns to herself and works hard to impress her superiors. Eventually, her memory extraction skills capture the attention of the military and she’s recruited for a mission into the Liberty Union Democracy.
Undercover behind enemy lines, Clara’s convictions begin to falter. Not knowing who to trust anymore, all she wants is the truth, and the freedom to act accordingly. 
In book one, Clara begins to question the system. In book two, it's taken to the next level. It's escape Avantica or die. 
I am working on the exciting final chapters of the series. At this point, I still don't know if it's going to be a three or four book series. I'll have to see how the cutting and editing goes. Stay tuned!

Escape the Machine (Avant Nation, Book 2)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Fiction 101: Writing A Killer Opening Paragraph (An Analysis)

In my previous blog post, Common Newbie Writer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, I advised new writers to avoid starting a novel with a Wake Up SceneThis is where the protagonist literally wakes up. There’s often a stretch and a groan involved. The main character might go over last night’s events in his or her head, suffer from amnesia, or begin making plans for the new day the with interior dialogue. In an attempt to build character, many of these scenes also include the protagonist throwing the alarm clock. Oftentimes the character proceeds to shuffle bleary-eyed across the room to study his or her image in a mirror so the author can "sneak" in his or her physical description. Does this sound uncomfortably familiar? If the answer is yes, please don't be embarrassed. I consider the Wake Up Scene a right of passage for newbie writers. After all, we all have to start somewhere, but a professional writer would never begin their novels that way. Or, would they? 

Heck, yeah. 

Take The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, for instance. The story begins with the main character, Katniss Everdeen, waking up. The author gets away with it  because, besides being a brilliant a plotter and writer of prose, she knows the five important tasks of a novel's very first paragraph. 


  A Killer Opening Should:

1.   Establish the mood and setting.
2.   Introduce the main character.
3.   Build empathy.
4.   Present the conflict (a problem to overcome).
5.   Show, not tell.

The order of the five essential tasks doesn't matter so much as long as they are all included. When done correctly, readers will want to keep turning the pages until the character's problems are solved. 

Also, I recommend having a likable protagonist because who wants to hang out with a jerk for 250 pages? Of course, some stories don’t lend themselves to likable main characters so the writer will have to make up for it with a super juicy problem. In my opinion, a novel that does everything correctly at the beginning is The Hunger Games. It features a flawed, yet empathetic heroine, and an intriguing problem for her to overcome. Also, it shows her depressed circumstances instead of simply stating them (more on this is a moment). Personally, I was enthralled by this trilogy. I couldn’t stop turning the pages until I knew the final outcome, so I’ve chosen the opening paragraph of book one as my example:


“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”


At a glance, this paragraph seems to be one of those cliché Wake Up Scenes I warned you about. The novel ought to be a disaster, but it’s not. Over 27 million copies have sold! Why does a wake up scene work so brilliantly in this novel whereas so many others fail? Because the author followed all of the other rules, of course! 

Let’s take a closer look to see how Collins did it so well. While we’re here, I want you to pay attention to how she Shows rather than Tells, a strategy that separates seasoned writers from the newbies. Notice how Collins never states that the Everdeens are impoverished, oppressed, and afraid. She plants all of the clues and lets the readers figure it out themselves.  


Line 1: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.

Not the most memorable line ever, but it has instantly built setting and character. How is that? Because when Katniss notes that the bed is cold, the reader knows someone warm must normally belong there.  

Line 2: My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.

I’m amazed by how much character and setting-building Collins has accomplished in this one little line. When Katniss reaches out for Prim’s warmth, their love is revealed. Readers are already feeling a connection with the Everdeens, especially Katniss because the story is told from her point of view. Although she never says outright that she loves her little sister, the gesture reveals a lot about their relationship. Speaking for myself, being allowed to make these kind of deductions on my own, without the author shouting the obvious in my face, is what makes reading so enjoyable and satisfying.

Later in the novel, readers will realize that Katniss is physically strong and capable, yet vastly unhappy. The harshness of life has made her hard. She has become emotionally distant from her mother and has a difficult time relating to people. However, little sister Prim is a warm safe place in the cold and dreary world. Although, this doesn’t come out in the first paragraph, the process has started in line two. It's already building empathy, showing the main character's vulnerable side, how she needs her little sister’s warmth. Later, when Katniss sacrifices herself to stand in Prim’s place, we can believe this is exactly what she would do. Nonetheless, we are completely invested in this courageous girl and must know know how it all turns out.

Line two also gives big clues about the setting. It might have been easier for the author to tell you, “The Everdeens are so poor, they can’t afford heat or satin sheets.” But, no. She opted to show us instead, which is so much more fun. From line one we already know that it’s is cold and she shares a bed with her sister, which raises questions in the reader’s mind. Can’t they afford to heat their house? Why don’t they each have their own bed? The cover of the mattress isn’t cotton or linen—but canvas. And, it’s rough. Not exactly a comfortable material for a mattress—did they have no other options? When you add up the clues, the reader instinctively knows that the Everdeens are living in poverty.

Line 3: She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.

As small as it is, this line introduces the conflict by creating questions in the reader’s mind, while continuing to add to the story’s setting. For example, when Prim climbs into bed with mother, but no father is mentioned, we wonder about his absence. Is he a deadbeat dad? Is he on a trip, imprisoned, or dead? Inquiring minds want to know! On top of those questions, Prim’s bad dreams hint that trouble is afoot. What's on her mind that makes her so afraid?  The reader only has to go to the next line to be drawn deeper into the conflict.


Line 4: Of course, she did.

This short sentences reveals that the bad dreams are warranted, not something to dismiss as the product of a young girl's overactive imagination. Oh my, the reader wonders, what has the entire Everdeen family so on edge?

Line 5: This is the day of the reaping.

Bam. Collins smacks us in the face with the premise of the book. The conflict. It doesn’t matter that the  “the reaping” is still a mystery at this point. It’s enough to know that it is bad and it is happening . . . today. Yikes! If your reaction to the opening paragraph of The Hunger Games was anything like mine, your brain was telling your hands to hurry up and turn the page, we must find out more about this reaping thing and why the Everdeens fear it so much! As a fiction writer, that's the response you hope readers will have to your own novel. Half the battle is to hook them with a likable protagonist and a juicy conflict at the beginning, which is easy to suggest, but much harder to do. 

Collins was able to get away with the verboten Wake Up Scene because she knows the rules before she decides to break them. Once you've learned them too, if you remain convinced that a Wake Up scene is right for your book, by all means, go for it! And, may the words be ever in your favor. Happy writing! 

This is an updated edition of a blog post from 2014. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Get THE WISH THIEF for a steal!

I'm offering you my personal favorite for a steal. Just $2.99 (Reg. $4.99) for the holidays. Click here to go to Amazon page.

The Wish Thief: A Modern Fantasy With Holiday Spirit
More than once I've been asked of all of the books I've created, which one do I like the best. Hands down it's The Wish Thief because of the main character, Glory Alley, is the loyal best friend I would have liked to have had as a girl. She's adventurous, prone to fits of laughter, a bit of a science geek, too proud to back away from a fight, a mix of Tom Boy and Girly Girl, self-conscience about her weight, but not into fashion because her entire wardrobe is hand-me-downs. Plus, she wouldn't look down on my family for being poor because so is Glory's. Used to struggling to survive at both home and school, little does she know her biggest challenge is around the bend, down in the forbidden caverns of Queen's Mesa. Did I mention that Glory is a cave explorer and wannabe geologist? Very cool attributes in a best friend! 


The story opens a few years after her mother's death. Glory's father drowns his grief in alcohol, while the house falls down around them. To escape her troubles at home, Glory frequently treks across the countryside to the mysterious caves of Queen's Mesa. When Glory finds a priceless treasure beyond compare, she thinks all of her dreams are about to come true, but as bad luck would have it, otherworldly creatures with mystical powers arrive to foil her plans. However, dauntless Glory faces them with her own brand of magic--the power of never giving up. And, the battle is on! 

The story takes place on a world much like our own, during the Season of Giving, making it a fun book to cozy into around the holidays. There are religious undertones to the tale, so subtle you may not even notice, but if you enjoy digging for that sort of thing, you won't be disappointed. The price is right, so take a chance on Glory today! 

Click here to find it on Amazon

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Win an Avant Nation Coffee Mug

CONTEST ENDS OCTOBER 1ST 

IF YOU MISSED THIS ONE, SIGN-UP FOR NEWS AND CONTESTS
BY CLICKING HERE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG

I'm celebrating the release of Escape the Machine, book number two of the Avant Nation series, by giving away a nifty coffee mug.



The front is of the main character, Clara Spinner. The image symbolizes how she is caught in the daily grind of the cosmic machine, like so many cogwheels, spinning around and around: 

The back of the mug reads:

Avant Nation
Caution: Cogs at Work 

The mug is a fun little giveaway, a way of paying homage to my writing fuel of choice, coffee! 

To enter all you have to do is sign-up to follow my blog here or already be a follower. Regretfully, only those of you living in the United States are eligible (because shipping costs are crazy).

Click HERE to check out Escape the Machine (Avant Nation, Book #2). Thank you for your interest in my work and good luck!

CONTEST HAS ENDED. A WINNER HAS BEEN SELECTED.
* CONGRATS TO HARRY C. OF JACKSONVILLE, FL*

Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day and Washington Have Gone to the Dogs

Oh, happy fault. Pedigree made a short documentary about General George Washington and his enemy's lost dog. It's a clever ploy to plug their products, but who cares? The video accurately captures a little piece of history during the War of Independence and I love it!




From the evidence gathered, George Washington was a dog lover, partial to Staghounds, a hunting breed similar to what we call Greyhounds today. Sweet Lips, Vulcan and Scentwell were some of their names. He also had several Black and Tan Coonhounds, including rascals Drunkard, Taster, Tippler and Tipsy. Could it be that their owner was a bit of a Boozehound himself? After all, Washington did own the largest distillery in America and enjoyed a fine imported Madeira every now-and-then. However, he was no drunkard. The man was a model of moderation and self-control.


There's a rumor among dog breeders that Washington bred the Black and Tan Coonhounds with his Staghounds, which resulted in America's first Foxhounds. After studying the comparison, what do you think? 

Hmm . . . maybe.

Now back to the commercial. The scene takes place in Pennsylvania, October 1777, during the Battle of Germantown. Cornwallis had previously marched into Philadelphia and claimed it for the British, so spirits were low. Of course, as the video captures so well, Washington never lost his sense of integrity.  

If you want to know more about the incident, there's a really cute children's book called George Washington and the General's Dog by Frank Murphy that summarizes it quite nicely. If you prefer an adult version, check out General Howe's Dog, by Caroline Tiger.


The original letter Washington wrote to Howe has been preserved for history. To see it, click here.

I wasn't planning on doing a blog entry today, especially not about dog food, but after I watched the commercial I couldn't stop myself. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy 4th of July! 

Solar Flares and Mass Hallucinations

A solar flare credited for global hallucination – is this from prophecy? No. In my book, Comet Dust , this was purely an invention o...