The Catalysts Series

Catalyst

First some updates on Catalyst. Due to Physical Distancing and Social Connections (as I prefer to call it) the paperback release date has been pushed back to September 22nd. However…

the Ebook release date is still June 2nd!!!

Less than two weeks away! Order your copy today!!

I hope to do a Book Tour for Catalyst this Fall. Check out my Events Page for details later this summer.

The Catalysts Series

The Catalysts Series will consist of four books.

The FieldBook I

Catalyst – Book II

Indian Summer ­– prequel

and the untitled Book III that I’m working on now (80 pages in!!).

Book III is the only true sequel (to Catalyst). The other three books can be read as stand-alone books although many of the same characters appear throughout. I’ve included an environmental theme in all of the books.

The Field is about Eric Holton, a high-school soccer goalkeeper with a super-natural ability to know where the ball is going to go before it gets there. He’s connecting to the Universal Energy Field. The environmental theme compares burning coal to other clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar and also the idea of extracting energy from the Universal Energy field in the air around us. And he’s having the high school experience of trying to get the starting goalkeeper spot, deal with friends being jerks, and trying to get the girl.

In Catalyst, Eric’s younger sister, Marcie, is the protagonist, but Eric and his girlfriend Renee are also featured characters. Eric has just graduated high school and Marcie is a junior.

Marcie, Eric and Renee are spending the summer working at an archaeological dig site in southern Indiana. Things immediately shift into the paranormal when Lorraine and Zeke, two mysterious dig assistants who claim to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds, assert that Earth and its resources are in grave danger. Marcie must decide if she’s brave enough to do her part to save the planet. The environmental theme in Catalyst is the dangers of fracking.

In the first book I wrote, Indian Summer, Marcie is in middle school and is spending the summer at her grandparents’ lake cottage. She discovers that a wealthy property owner is secretly trying to develop an old-growth forest into an exclusive gated community. In her quest to thwart his efforts, Marcie connects with the spirit of a Native American girl. Indian Summer has been completely revised and will be re-released in 2021 as a prequel to The Field and Catalyst.

Book III is in the works right now! I’m writing it from both Marcie and Eric’s point of view. There are two concurrent story lines. Eric and Renee are in France and Marcie is in Washington DC. There is some interaction between the two threads and everything will come together at the end.

During this Great Pause we are having I hope you’ve been able to consider how you might chose to change your behavior going forward. Have you re-evaluated your priorities? Will you focus more on what’s important to you and let other, non-important things go by the wayside?

Protecting the environment and saving planet Earth is very important to me and I think essential for our quality of life going forward. I hope my books make you think and consider what you can do to be a Catalyst for change.

Take care and be well, my friends.

It’s Earth Day and the Earth is Breathing Again

These are difficult times. Doing what I prefer to call ‘Physical Distancing and Socially Connecting’ in order to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and save lives has not been easy. Many of us are out of jobs and have lost not only our income, but also our health insurance. And of course many have become ill and even lost their lives. But we WILL get through this. Maybe in the midst of horror there can be some light. Maybe we will re-define our priorities and focus on what’s really important.

On this 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day it is important to notice one good thing that has come of the quarantine. Less pollution. Fewer cars on the road, planes in the sky and industry on pause has meant less carbon dioxide pumped into our skies.

Los Angeles – Before and After Shelter in Place Orders

China – Satellite images of pollution reduction

See the source image

India – Himalayan Peaks visible for the first time in 30 years

See the source image

The Earth is breathing. The question is – ‘What do we do about it?’ Do we go back to ‘normal’ and continue to pollute our home, planet Earth? 

What if, instead, we took this opportunity to change our behavior going forward? What if we drove less and walked and biked more? Flew less and took the train or bus more? Bought electric cars and held our legislators accountable for passing legislation on Climate Change? Are you with me?  I think we can do it!!

In the meantime, what can we do NOW while we are physically distancing? 

Reducing our Carbon Footprint is one thing we can do. What is a Carbon Footprint? Here’s the dictionary definition:

the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.”

So, what does that mean exactly? It essentially refers to our personal contribution to the carbon emissions that cause Climate Change. Here are some ways that each of us can have an impact:

Ten Things You Can Do NOW to Help the Environment

1.     Plant Trees – Trees consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen

2.     Eat a plant-based diet or have one ‘vegetarian day’ a week.

3.     Start a vegetable garden from seeds in your house. When the weather warms up you can dig your garden and grow your own vegetables!

4.     Reduce household water waste – install efficient shower heads and toilets. Turn off the faucet when doing dishes or brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers.

5.     Upcycle, repurpose and REPAIR clothing and household items instead of buying new or discarding them.

6.     Reduce the amount of plastic packaging in the products you buy.

7.     Eat locally produced food to reduce the ‘Food Miles’ it takes for your food to travel to you.

8.     Tell your legislators to act on Climate Change legislation.

9.      Join environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council or the World Wildlife Fund.

10.    Follow Teen Climate Change activists on social media. Greta Thunberg, Autumn Peltier, Mari Copeny, Xiye Bastida, Isra Hirsi, Bruno Rodriguez, Helena Gualinga, Jamie Margolin, Jerome Foster II, are a few to check out.

Animal planet

The Sixth Mass Extinction

We are currently in the middle of the Sixth Mass Extinction on planet Earth. That’s right – the sixth one. The difference this time is that one species, Homo Sapiens (yup that’s you and me) is responsible.

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the non-fiction book, The Sixth Extinction, maintains that we are living in the Anthropocene period of Earth’s history. A time period characterized by human beings’ attempts to manipulate our environment, resulting in the extinction or near-extinction of many different species.

Just as with Climate Change, there are those who would deny that human activity has such a negative impact on the Earth. They would say that climate change and mass extinctions are a natural part of Earth’s history. And they would be right – I mean this IS the Sixth Mass Extinction. However, the previous five weren’t caused by a single species. This one is. Us.

Some anthropologists would even argue that this mass extinction started thousands of years ago when man hunted pre-historic animals like the mastodon and the giant sloth to extinction. But it’s accelerated within the last 100 years during the Industrial Age when we began spewing carbon into the atmosphere.

Carbon emissions are causing global warming and increased temperatures in the oceans which destroys coral reefs. Increased ocean acidity is killing off clams, barnacles and starfish. There are currently 1414 species of fish at risk of extinction. Due mostly to overfishing.

The animals on the Endangered Species List categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable include leopards, rhinos, gorillas, orangutans, elephants, giraffes, porpoises, dolphins, whales, pandas, hippos, turtles, bears, bison and bees. Rainforest deforestation by farmers and ranchers will result in many species that will not survive the reduction in habitat. And the species that rely on them will also perish because the biodiversity of the rainforest is inner-connected.

That is the single most important FACT to take away from this. We are ALL inner-connected. What happens to elephants in Africa has an impact on humans in Detroit or Albuquerque or Poland. Fires in Australia are impacted by rains in Indonesia. The nuclear plant meltdown in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 is STILL spreading radiation throughout the Pacific Ocean killing fish, contaminating the water and exposing millions of Homo Sapiens (that’s US again) to radiation as far away as the west coast of the United States and beyond. Ocean currents will eventually carry the radiation across the globe.

Concerned? You should be. Not sure what to do? SPEAK UP!!! Contact your senators and representatives. Attend Climate Change rallies. VOTE for environmental candidates. Look at what one girl in Sweden started by skipping school and sitting outside the parliament on Fridays. Fridays For Our Future is now a global movement of young people and Greta Thunberg is Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.

It’s not enough to simply reduce your use of plastic and recycle your newspapers. Time is running out. There is no second planet. The Earth needs us to act now.

Cover Reveal for CATALYST!

Cover design by Alex Katsaropoulos

I’m thrilled to share the cover for my next YA scifi novel, Catalyst! Publishing June, 2020. It was designed by my talented son, Alex Katsaropoulos of the band Verluna. @verlunamusic. I LOVE it!

Catalyst is about fracking and climate change with supernatural and science fiction elements thrown in for good measure! Eric’s younger sister, Marcie is the protagonist, but Eric and Renee have their roles to play, too.

Pre-oder your copy today!

There’s also a Goodreads Advance Review Copy giveaway going on until February 11th. Click here to enter to win!

Catalyst

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained—an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since. 

This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her dig teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds—something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history.  

It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

Catalyst to Publish in 2020!!

I’m very excited to share that Brown Books Publishing has decided to publish Catalyst in 2020!! It’s the next book chronologically in the series after The Field and is also YA sci-fi.

As with my other books, there is an environmental theme. This time it’s fracking and climate change. I feel it’s an important book as these topics are so critical right now. Getting young people involved and aware is part of my personal mission as a writer.

Eric’s younger sister, Marcie, is the protagonist in Catalyst. It’s the summer before her junior year in high school. Eric and Renee are also featured ~ they’ve just graduated from high school. All three are on an archaeological dig in southern Indiana and discover that ‘Big Oil’ is planning to expand it’s fracking operations.

So excited to share this news!

Indian Summer will still be released as a prequel at some point, just not sure when.

Just Say NO to Fracking – and a word about “Horton Hears a Who”

Fracking1

All of my novels have an environmental theme and in my next novel (over halfway through the first draft!) the Horton family will be opposing Fracking in southern Indiana. My books are my way of taking a stand about the dangers of polluting and exploiting our planet, and hopefully awakening a similar outrage in my readers. All wrapped up in wonderful, exciting story. I believe if all of us make our own waves we create a tidal wave of change.

A side note about the Horton family. While each novel is a stand-alone story, the Horton family is featured in all three. I chose the name ‘Horton’ because of Dr. Suess’s (Dr. Suess is kind of my hero) book Horton Hears a Who. No one believes Horton when he hears the ‘Who’s’ calling out from a dust speck on a dandelion, but Horton perseveres. That book speaks to me on so many levels. First, that another group of beings could exist on a dust speck. I love the image of the Universe being as amazingly small as it is amazingly huge. Second, Horton knows the truth of what he hears and keeps on saying it even in the face of adversity. In the end, the other animals hear the Who’s and they are saved. I can only hope that will be true for humanity as well, and we will realize the truth of climate change and our role in causing it before it’s too late. There’s another Dr. Suess book about this, I’m sure you remember it – The Lorax. Remember what happened after all of the Truffula trees were cut down to make Thneeds? It wasn’t a pretty place.

There’s a lot in the news about the dangers of Fracking (if you’re paying attention) but is hasn’t stopped the energy companies from continuing to Frack or governments from continuing to support it – with some notable exceptions like New York. Even President Obama promotes Natural Gas, which is what is released when gas wells are Fracked, as the new clean energy. It may burn cleaner, but the impact of extracting it is anything but clean.

Fracking, or hydrolic fracturing, is a method of natural gas extraction by injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary – read unnamed – chemicals, under extremely high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and opens fissures allowing natural gas to escape. In 2005, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the proprietary chemicals used do not need to be disclosed to the public. These chemicals are anything but safe.

Scientists have identified dozens of chemicals, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, in Fracking waste water. Chemicals that are known poisons and carcinogens!!! The Fracked wells are up to 8,000 feet deep and between one and eight million gallons of water is used EACH time a well is Fracked. A well can be Fracked up to 18 times.

So why should you care?

1. Only 50% of the water used (including chemicals) is recovered from the wells. That leaves the remaining  50% left behind to contaminate aquifers.

2. The waste water recovered is put into evaporation tanks and the chemicals are evaporated directly into the air, thus contaminating the air we breathe. The water is highly toxic and has to be treated after the chemicals have evaporated.

3. Drinking water wells and rivers and streams around the Fracking site are contaminated with the Methane gas that was released during Fracking. Residents can often light their tap water on fire. It is undrinkable.

4. Fracking, especially horizontal Fracking, creates cracks or fissures in the rock which has been proven to increase seismic activity and earthquakes in the areas surrounding the Fracking sites. Fracking in places where fault lines exist such as California, is reckless and potentially dangerous.

5. During a time of drought in much of the west, using millions of gallons of water to Frack is irresponsible to say the least.

Dr. Suess was writing about our responsibility as caretakers of Earth when I was a child. We’ve yet to heed the warnings. Will you join me in making waves so that we create a Tsunami of change?