Tuesday, April 30, 2013


            I admit I don’t like throwing things away.  The enforced need to throw away half of our possessions as we prepared to move from Colorado still haunts me.  Just ask my wife.  She says I am a hoarder.  I say I just treasure my possessions.

            But giveaways are different.  I love giving presents.  It’s the best part of Christmas and birthdays. I make up reasons to give others presents.   My wife says she loves to see what I will come up with—and that I am good at present-giving because I enjoy it so much.  All I know is, I love giveaways.
           And now I can giveaway our book!  How fun is that!  And since Goodreads decides who wins the signed copy of PITCH GREEN, I can just encourage everyone to enter!  We will all be excited  for the winner.

            Happy….?  I guess it’s HappyGoodreadsGiveaway!  Just click on the words, and you're there.




Friday, April 26, 2013


           Writing is a precious thing.  Sometimes I have it and sometimes it gets lost.  Virtually every other job I’ve ever done, including attorneying, (I know it’s not a word, get over it) I could do whether I felt like it or not.  Writing is different.  It’s there or it’s hiding.  I mean, it usually close, but sometimes it seems to be just out of reach.
            Berk and I have been promoting our first book, “Pitch Green”.  And we have been having fun doing it.  We have number of signings to go to, and I think those will be fun too.  But there is a part of me, a large part, that just wants to get back to the creative process of writing.  We are almost done with the sequel to “Pitch Green”, Berk is mainly working on it now.  As a result, I have a serious hankering to start the third and final book in this trilogy.
            I actually want to go to Trona (where our story takes place) to write this third one.  Not because Trona is such a lovely place, especially in 100 plus degree summer weather, but because I can play the hermit and just create, (which is the same thing as writing).
"No, that wasn't me!"
            I mean, I get enough privacy here in Colorado, and I should be able to write here, just like I did for the first two books.  My only company during the day is Jimmy, the dog.  And he isn’t much of a distraction, except when he is flatulent, which is often, but I should still be able to write here, especially now that the weather is finally warming.
            And yet, that part of me that loves being alone, avoiding people, walking around without pants, looks for even more isolation.  Several people have told me that they can’t wait for the second book to come out, (it will be out in March, 2014), and I think they will be pleased with what we’ve done.  We have some new characters, some new monsters, a little science fiction, and a whole lot of fun destroying things and getting scared.  You’ll like it.  Trust me.
Not really a new character in the book, but it is scary looking.
But all the characters from the first book and new characters you will see in the second, are calling to me, trying to get out of my head and onto paper.  And truthfully, while I don’t have a clue as to what they all will be doing in the third book, (I don’t outline these things ahead of time) I think they will all be doing exciting and memorable stuff.  I’m anxious to see how it turns out.
            I have to wait, though, a little longer.  Responsibility beckons me stay for various thing.  The Cal in me (a character from the book) wants to screw responsibility and just move on.  The Camm in me (the other main character) says “no”.  I must finish what I need to do here.  Damn it Camm, why did we make you so responsible? 
            So, I will see many of you at a signing in Boulder at the Pearl Street Mall on the 4th of May and another one somewhere else on the 18th.  (I know I should know where it is, I'll figure it out before the 18th.) But soon thereafter, it is off to Trona, and adventure time. 
            It is so hard to wait.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


(Or why are publicists super cool?)
(This post was written by Berk in answer to the above question from our blog tour host, Amie Borst. You can read this post on her blog at

 I do not remember ever being lost. In my youth, I roamed the trackless wastes of the Mojave Desert surrounding Trona, California, but those waste lands weren't trackless to me. No matter what new byway my friends and I explored, I always knew how to get back to where we started. I have an accurate sense of general directions, north, south, east and west, and more importantly, I think visually, so as our old truck or dune buggy bumped and jarred over the uneven terrain, pictures of the landscape were continuously stored in my brain—a looming joshua tree, a scraggly rock formation, a twist in the road, a set of animal tracks. All were duly recorded as pictures that my mind could easily recall later for reference purposes.

When we had explored as much as we wanted, shot through our ammo, eaten all our Hostess cherry pies, gotten as dirty as possible, and generally had a great time, my mind pictures guided us unerringly home. I always knew which bend in the road to take, which direction to go.

Unfortunately, when I signed a three-book contract for the Pitch Green series with Jolly Fish Press, those homing skills did not cross over into the untamed wilderness of social networking and book promotion. I had entered into an alien world with landmarks and signposts that I didn’t even see, or when I did, I didn’t understand. Up to that point in my life, I might have glanced once or twice at my wife's Facebook page, and while I had heard the words “Twitter” and “Blog,” I did not think those things would ever be part of my world.

Suddenly, I was in a new land with unfamiliar terrain, and I was lost. I could not visualize the road, or how all the roads fed into each other, or even which way was up or down, let alone north or south. While there were many crisscrossing, bumpy roads in this new wilderness, there was no need for a rifle with lots of ammo or a box of dynamite, and though a Hostess cherry pie still helped smooth the adventure when the way got especially rough, I was woefully ignorant of the real weaponry that I would need in this strange, alien wilderness.

Enter Kirk Cunningham, publicist for Jolly Fish Press, and I discovered how cool a publicist could be for newbie authors like Andy and me. In what I know now were tentative first steps, he helped us set up our Facebook and Twitter accounts, gave us a logo from the JFP design department, and directed us toward Blogspot. As we took our first tentative steps down these strange roads, he stayed near to coach us in our new adventure and to warn us of the dangers along the way. Whenever we began to fear that we were lost, he was always there to gently calm us with the wise counsel, "If you don't understand, just Google it." Kirk has been a faithful and trustworthy guide through an dangerous and wild country.

beawolf / 123RF
So, what are publicists good for? In our experience, the publicist is a fountain of clear water in the desert, a source of invaluable information, expertise, innovation, encouragement and a nudge
(sometimes a shove from behind) when necessary. By forming a Facebook group binding the Jolly Fish Press authors and management together, Kirk created another avenue for encouragement, blowing off steam, sharing information and ideas, and supporting each other. Of course, behind the scenes, Kirk is also doing important groundwork which we only occasionally glimpse in the news we get of publishing sub-contacts, media contracts, contest information, as well as overseas, film and TV contacts, and much more.

When it comes to promoting our books, Andy and I don't pretend to be savvy or to understand where all the social media paths might lead. But from what Kirk tells us, we’re on a path that will allow us to keep writing books. That's all we care about. Thanks, Kirk! You’re super cool!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


            The instrument panel was ready before me, set for take-off.  Several rows of browser windows studded the computer screen opening onto twitter screens, Facebook pages, or just Google, waiting for research.  My trusty water bottle (I wasn't sure if I'd be able to leave my seat for hours) waited on the desktop as well as some munchies in case brain food was called for.  Close at hand, a notepad and pen sat side by side, ready for quick notes or reminders.

            Our publisher, Jolly Fish Press, had the idea to launch a Book Blast with the goal of bumping Pitch Green into the Top 100 on Amazon!  For one full day, all day long, we and everyone we could recruit would tweet, tweet, tweet and post about Pitch Green.

            8:45 am.  In fifteen minutes, the Book Blast for Pitch Green would begin.

            Could this really work?

            I must admit that thought crossed my mind.  Being pretty new to social media, I had sometimes wondered if anyone out there actually read what we wrote.  Did most of our tweets just sail out into Twitter Space undetected as they boldly went where no one has gone before? Was anyone listening?

            I couldn't wait--I jumped in!  But others were already before me!  I was amazed. They were tweeting and posting about the Book Blast, inviting others to join, saying nice things about Pitch Green and giving links to Amazon where the Kindle and paperback editions were now available.  Emails told Andy and I that family and friends, even ones from long ago, were Facebook posting about the Book Blast.  One of my sons even created a twitter account so he could tweet too.

            Fellow authors from Jolly Fish Press congregated at times on our group Facebook page, comparing notes and announcing the latest Amazon statistics for Pitch Green (as well as  instructing me how to find them myself).  Keep going we encouraged each other.  Tweeps I didn't know began passing on the news.  Where they heard about it, I had no idea.  I felt as if I was connected with the whole world.

            All of a sudden, this was fun!

            And humbling. As I watched Pitch Green  rise higher and higher on the Amazon charts, I pictured so many making an effort to tell the world about our book.  I felt grateful.

            I did indeed stay glued to my computer screen practically the whole day.  Finally around 11 pm, my wife and I compared notes on the day's happenings.  By then, Pitch Green had risen in Amazon rankings almost into the 10,000's for total book sales, and 35th in the Kindle category of Young Adult bone-chilling horror!

            What struck with me most, was that this world of social media was indeed a Community, a place where real people connect and help each other.  I made new friends, enjoyed talking and working together with old ones, and others reached across oceans and the next town to contribute.  Our thanks to all.

            IT WAS A BLAST!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

We Like Dynamite

This is a post Berk wrote for Kayla Shirley.  Here is the link to her blog:

Now, here is the post:


(Or what do teenagers know?) 

The night sky was deep black, cloudless and filled with stars.  Though a thin crescent moon was just starting to come up over the Searles Mountains, it gave little light.  The lights from the chemical plant burned as brightly as ever, but Trona, California, is such a small town, located so far out in the desert, there is almost no light pollution.  This was a perfect night for star gazing, except for one small distraction.
Floating hundreds of feet above the town, a small, bright reddish-white light burned fiercely in the sky, swinging gently in the breeze and drifting slowly to the south-east.  The time was about 9:30 pm, and if anyone happened to be outside, watching the sky, this would have been a strange sight, especially when the small light was suddenly engulfed in a brilliant, bright-white flash.  The flash filled the sky for less than a second, and then was gone—the small light was gone with it.  For several seconds, there was nothing, but the deep black of the cloudless sky, when suddenly a roaring rumble blasted across the town, followed immediately by a shock wave that rattled windows and seemed to sock you in the chest as it passed.

Was there a storm brewing with lightning and thunder?  Anyone stepping out onto the porch, looking for clouds, found a sky that was totally clear and cloudless.  There was no storm.

In preparation for the launch of our new book, Pitch Green, Berk and Andy, a/k/a The Brothers Washburn, have occasionally been questioned about whether in reality teenagers would really know as much about guns as do our protagonists, Camm & Cal, in Pitch Green.  In fact, not only do our protagonists know a lot about guns, they also know a lot about high explosives, enough to detonate a dynamite blast in the sky high above the town of Trona.

For those who grew up in a city, or even suburban, environment, this may seem completely incredible, but for many of us who grew up in the desert, or any isolated rural location, it is not surprising that teenagers would be comfortably familiar with the use of firearms and even high explosives.  In a sparsely-settled, country setting, guns and dynamite are common tools used on a regular basis in farming, mining, road building and other rural occupations.  In fact, it would be strange if Camm and Cal did not know how to use guns and dynamite.

Trona, California, is a real mining town, located in a desolate area of the Mojave Desert, not far from Death Valley.  Andy and I grew up in that region in the 1960s and ‘70s.  We spent many days exploring hundreds of square miles of isolated desert and high-mountain country.  In fact, we sometimes went days without seeing any kind of civilization, including a paved road.

During those teenage years, we rarely went camping or exploring without bringing our rifles and pistols, with lots of ammo, and we always carried dynamite with plenty of fuse and blasting caps.  There is a real science to a good explosion, and we were continually perfecting our technique.  A well done dynamite blast makes most of the pyrotechnics that we see on TV or in movies look pretty silly.  There is a big difference between a fake explosion and the real thing.

In Pitch Green, Camm and Cal know what Berk and Andy knew as teenagers, so they know their guns and high explosives, which is important knowledge that will come in handy as they fight the intra-dimensional predators, coming through the Searles Mansion, looking for easy prey in this world.  Our heroes are not city kids, and they are not afraid to use whatever weapons they might have at hand as they face down monsters, who gladly eat ordinary humans.  Don’t be surprised if somewhere, sometime, our heroes set up a dynamite blast in the sky.

After all, that’s what we did when we were teenagers.  Starting with a stick of dynamite, we made thunder in a clear sky, and we didn’t have any fancy equipment or advanced technology.  We did it using only common everyday items that any teenager can readily find in the course of a normal day.
           If we did it, Camm and Cal can do it too.  Like I said, there is a real science to a good explosion, and Camm is especially strong on science, while Cal has a long-term interest in weapons.  Together they make a formidable team, doing things that any teenager could do, and, for the benefit of our adult readers, they’ll probably even explain how it’s done.