Unimpressed to Loving the Blue Ridge Mountains

A soft blue haze enveloped the first mountains I ever saw. They didn’t impress me much. In the distance, they looked like rolling hills. Then came the drive up the mountains, through the mountains, and along the ridge. Each curve, dip, and climb yielded breath-taking vistas of forested mountains, bald knobs, and valleys swathed in the blue haze. I was in grade school during that first trip. I went from unimpressed to loving the Blue Ridge Mountains and that mysterious blue haze. I made many trips to the area as a child. I no longer recall all the details, when and exactly where, but there are moments etched in my memory. Memorable moments include a walk to a gorgeous waterfall, a climb to a rocky knob, and the larger-than-my-sister bear cub that sat three feet behind my little sister who played on the picnic table in the next camping site. Little did I know then that these mountains would become the backdrop and setting for the world of My Soul to Keep. They are integral to the story of Fellowship. World’s Second Oldest The Blue Ridge Mountains formed about 1.1 billion to 250 million years ago. South Africa’s Barberton greenstone […]

My Story Went to the Dogs

What do a bloodhound, a satellite, and a tracking device have in common? The answer is a search and research. I researched all three were subjects for my short novel, Fellowship (formerly Ian’s Trust). After the research, my story went to the dogs.  Fellowship is the story of Ian Hobart, an eighteen-year-old high school student. Ian lives in an imaginary town between Lynchburg, Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. His parents and older brother are Taken by the Fellowship. Ian in a desperate attempt to save his younger siblings takes them into the mountains.  The pursuit of Ian and his siblings takes place in the same world but a couple of years before My Soul to Keep. To create a believable pursuit, I needed to learn about methods of tracking escapees.  Early Communication Satellites I dove into the history of early satellites and telemetry to learn about tracking methods like GPS.  The first artificial Earth satellite was Sputnik 1. Launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, Sputnik had an on-board radio-transmitter. A major step in space exploration, it was not a communications satellite. The first satellite purpose-built to relay communications was NASA’s Project SCORE in 1958. It stored […]

Inspiration Behind the Scenes with a Female Sniper

She was seventeen years old in June of 1943. Klavdiia Efremovna Kalugina (also spelled Klavdiya Yefremovna Kalugina) a Russian, born in 1926 came from a “not rich” family. She became the youngest sniper-in-training at a school for Komsomol (Communist Union of Youth). All the other pupils were eighteen. She could stay in the school as long as she didn’t “fall behind.” Sniper School They divided the young women into pairs. Marusia Chikhvintseva, Klavdiia’s first partner, became her best friend.  Accustomed to hard work, Klavdiia helped build the firing range for the school. But when it came time to shoot, she could only hit “milk” (jargon for a complete miss). Her squad commander took her aside and gave her private lessons.  She learned tactics and camouflage and ballistics. And she qualified as a sniper.  After graduation, they grouped pairs into squads and sent them all around the front. On March 1, 1944, six pairs of snipers, including Klavdiia and Marusia, were sent to the Belorussian front.  On the Front They rode in cattle cars with heaters as close to the front as they could get. The truck sent to take them to the fighting couldn’t get through the snow. Klavdiia said […]