Blue Angels @ Hickam AFB

September 29th, 2014

This past weekend the United States Navy’s Blue Angels performed in Honolulu, flying out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, which is adjacent to the Honolulu International Airport. It’s the first air show I’ve had the good fortune to attend since I was a child, and despite the blazing sun, the heat, the crowd, and the traffic jams getting into and out of the base, it was a terrific day.

I brought my camera along and I took some pictures, but seriously, why did I bother? I was there with my daughter, Dallas Nagata White, a renowned Honolulu photographer who has been an invited photographer at other military air shows. “Do you want to use my pictures for your blog post?” she asks me. “Well, YES!”

Find Dallas online at DNW Photo. You can follow her on twitter @dallasnagata.

Enjoy!

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor performed shortly after we arrived, displaying amazing capabilities.
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Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
The C-17 plays a big role in my novel The Red: First Light. At the air show, I was finally able to look around inside a C-17 named after Hawaii’s long-time senator–The Spirit of Daniel Inouye. Unfortunately, the line to view the cockpit was so long I wasn’t able to see that section.

Another C-17 performed in the air, demonstrating flight speeds, maneuverability, and the ability to do a combat landing, with a very short run from touchdown to full stop.
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Route Map

September 29th, 2014

One of the really cool things about flying in one of Hawaiian Air’s Airbus 330s is the flight tracker that plays on the video screen. It provides all sorts of continuously updated data such as airspeed, air temperature, windspeed, altitude, time in the air, time to the destination, distance flown, distance remaining. It also shows the plane’s position on maps displayed at different scales, including one of the entire world, with night/day shown.

Here’s a really awful, shaky photo of one of the maps, taken just before we arrived on Maui:
Route map

The only reason I’m inflicting this on you is because I am so intrigued that seamounts and oceanic trenches are included on the map!

If you squint you might be able to make out that, west of Seattle, two seamounts are labeled: the Bowie Seamount, which is apparently a navigation hazard to ocean-going traffic, and the Eickleberg Seamount, which Wikipedia refers to as the Cobb-Eickelberg Seamount chain. There is also the Cedros Trench off Baja California, and the Hawaiian Ridge.

Why are these features on the map?? Knowledge of their positions can’t be of any use to an aircraft — they’re all underwater. And why are these features on the map, and not other underwater features? I have no idea! I do like having them labeled though. It’s an acknowledgement that there’s more to the world than we usually notice. I just want to know why! :-)

Ello

September 28th, 2014

I think I first heard of Ello last Thursday. My initial reaction was “I’m not signing up.” But by Saturday, I figured I might as well grab my name. So that’s what I did.

If you’re on Ello, find me @lindanagata.

We’ll see how long this lasts. :-)

Rainier National Park: Lakes Trail

September 26th, 2014

A pond on Lakes Trail

Ron and I visited Rainier National Park this past weekend. The last post talks about our hike to the lower glaciers along Skyline Trail on a blazingly hot Sunday. By contrast, on Monday morning we woke up to a light rain. This was a more familiar face of Rainier — but neither of us wanted to hike in the rain, so we wondered if we should stay. We were paying a lot for our hotel room and there is no TV, no Internet, no cell phone communication in the park. If the day turned out to be too wet to go hiking, I resolved that we would just check out a day early.

But by 10:30am the clouds broke up and the sky turned blue, so the hike was on!

This day was considerably cooler, but it was not cold. Late morning through early afternoon was sunny, but by late afternoon clouds had returned and I expected to get wet — but then the clouds broke up again. So once more, we were incredibly lucky with the weather.

We weren’t quite as lucky with the trail. The Lakes Trail drops down below the visitor center to Reflection Lake, but there are two branches to the trail. The shorter one turned out to be closed because of ongoing repairs on a road that the trail crosses. So instead of hiking down, we started off hiking up above the visitor center on the same trail we’d taken the day before, to a junction with Lakes Trail, where we began our descent. This trail provided a very different experience from the day before, as we traversed meadows and passed through groves of evergreens. Along the way there were a couple of incredible view points, one of Steven’s Canyon, and the other from Faraway Rock.

Once we reached the bottom, we crossed the road and started up again, this time aiming to reach Pinnacle Peak, which we did in the early afternoon. We then turned around and hiked back down to the road, and then up again, to Paradise Inn. Total mileage for the day was 10.8 miles.
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Rainier National Park: Skyline Trail

September 25th, 2014
Just inside the park entrance at Chinook Pass/ Cayuse Pass

Just inside the park entrance at Chinook Pass/ Cayuse Pass, September 20, 2014

Ron and I just got back from a ten-day trip to the state of Washington. We did a lot of sightseeing, including three nights at Paradise Inn — the only hotel in the park, located very close to the visitor center. This was the third time we’d been to Rainier. The first time, there was still a lot of snow on the ground, so we just drove around and had only occasional views of the mountain. The second time, the weather was rainy, there was ice in the parking lots, it was late fall so the visitor center was closed, and except for a brief glimpse, we didn’t see the mountain until we were driving away. But this time the weather was amazing!

The clearest day was the day we arrived. The sky was a stunning blue. But since we arrived late in the day, we didn’t do any hiking. The following day, Sunday, was incredibly hot — hot, at Mount Rainier! — I could hardly believe it. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky until very late in the day, but there was a brown haze, so it wasn’t quite as clear as the previous afternoon. I’m not complaining, though! We were incredibly fortunate.

I was concerned that the weather might turn wet by the next day so, prioritizing what we wanted to see — glaciers! — we set off from the Visitor Center, heading up Skyline Trail. We took the right branch of this loop trail so that we could venture directly to Paradise Glacier Trail. Skyline starts off paved on both branches, but gets a little rougher later on, especially after branching off to the glacier trail. Overall, though, trails were excellent all over, with just a few places suffering erosion. This being a gorgeous weekend, trails were also full of people out to enjoy the day.

We hiked a total of 8.7 miles, getting as high as the ridge alongside Pebble Creek. We didn’t try to hike up any further. If we had, we would have been crossing Nisqually Glacier below Camp Muir. The camp, I believe, is a staging area for those going to the summit.

The worst part of this hike, oddly enough, was the asphalt trail at the base, directly above the visitor center. This is the left branch of the loop trail, and was so incredibly steep that it was painful to descend after a full day of hiking.

Here’s the nicely paved start of the right-hand branch of Skyline Trail:
Beginning of Skyline Trail, the right hand branch of the loop
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An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

September 12th, 2014

The Red: First LightOver the past few months, many of you have asked Whatever happened to The Red: Trials? This was the sequel to my 2013 self-published novel The Red: First Light and had been scheduled to publish last May. It has not been published (yet) and now I’m finally free to say why. So here’s the story:

Last spring I got to talking with my long-time agent. Naturally, we hadn’t had much business with each other since I started self-publishing, but one thing led to another, he read The Red: First Light, loved it, and asked if he could auction that book along with Trials, and an as-yet-unwritten final novel in the trilogy.

I thought about it. I talked the idea over with my husband. I added up what First Light had already earned, and I estimated what I might expect to earn in the next year or two. The finances convinced me: an auction was worth trying, so long as it was a walk-away deal. My agent agreed: if I didn’t get an offer I liked, I would continue on my own.

In fact, I planned to continue as before, publishing The Red: Trials according to the original schedule, but during the auction period I was asked to hold off on releasing it. On reflection that seemed a reasonable request, so I agreed. It was a gamble though, because I was giving up a wonderful publicity opportunity. Fortunately, the gamble proved worthwhile.

The big news: Now that the contract has been signed, I am very pleased to announce that The Red series has been acquired by Joe Monti, Executive Editor at Saga Press, which is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Joe has been very enthusiastic, and I am all approving of the marketing direction he has in mind. I see this deal as a fantastic opportunity to get my name out in the world and more widely known, which should help push sales of my backlist, which might lead to me earning a reasonable income from writing for, essentially, the first time ever. My husband has always been the primary breadwinner around here, so the opportunity to give back to him means a lot to me.

For now, The Red: First Light has been withdrawn from sale pending the release of the forthcoming Saga Press edition.

I’m not turning my back on self-publishing, but after almost five years at this game, it felt like the time had come to try something different. I think that’s the key, to keep trying new things, and this is the right thing for me, and for my family, at this time.

I do have one regret: I know I’m disappointing several of you who’ve let me know that you’re eagerly awaiting Trials. Be assured that it will be published, just a little later than initially planned and under the slightly modified title The Trials. I hope you’ll stick with me until then. And I do want to thank all the readers and reviewers who supported the original edition, and made this step forward possible for me.

I’ll be sending out my newsletter at rare intervals, as always, so if you’d like a notification of the publication date of the Saga Press edition of the series—or occasional news on my other books and writing—please sign up using the form in the right column of this page.

And in the meantime, I have a lot of other novels! If you haven’t read them yet, check out Memory or The Bohr Maker. Both are good places to start if you’d like to get to know my work.

Stand-Up Desk

September 7th, 2014

Okay, so, I haven’t posted here in a month(!)

It’s been busy here, but mostly with:
(1) writing…I am 79,000 words into a very rough draft of a new novel. I’m aiming for 100K to start, but it will be longer before it’s done.
(2) working out — that is, up until last week. Since then, writing has pretty much taken over. (The gym being closed hasn’t helped.)

At any rate, with all the writing — and not enough working out — I’ve started thinking that I’m spending too much time sitting down. Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk about using a stand-up desk. I’ve never felt inclined to go out and buy a new desk, but I did want to try the stand-up thing. So in good Hawaii fashion (we have to be adaptable here, on islands out in the middle of the world’s biggest ocean) I devised my own stand-up desk. And it’s one that easily converts to sit-down. And here it is:
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Strange Days

August 7th, 2014

Yesterday afternoon my big, beautiful, two-year-old iMac suddenly died. The screen went to white, and that was that.

Two hurricanes are bearing down on the islands.

And while I was looking for updates on the hurricanes this morning, we had an earthquake.

On the positive side, the earthquake was small (4.2) and generated no tsunami. The hurricanes should wind down to tropical storms by the time they reach Maui–still dangerous! But we’re grateful for every mile-per-hour drop in wind speed — and we wish all best to those on the eastern side of the Big Island who will see actual hurricane winds.

And as for the Mac? The diagnosis was a dead video card, which the local Apple store promises will arrive Friday despite the storms. We’ll see.

War Stories Ebook Now Available

August 6th, 2014

War Stories AnthologyWar Stories is an anthology of military science fiction. It began as a Kickstarter project, with the ebook released to project supporters earlier this summer. That ebook is now available for purchase from Apex Publications at a cost of $4.99USD.

My story, “Light and Shadow,” is part of War Stories. If you’d like to read the last of my short fiction that will see general publication this year, please go grab a copy. “Light and Shadow” is set in the story world of The Red: First Light although it’s a completely different story, with different characters.

There will be a print version of War Stories (trade paperback). Preorders are being taken now. If you preorder the paper edition, you’ll get the ebook as well, available for immediate download.

Ka`u Trail / Footprints

August 4th, 2014

The day after our Hilina Pali hike, we dialed things back and went on two short hikes, instead of one long, challenging one…with a visit to a winery in between.

The hike that was new for us was the “footprints” trail. It starts on Mamalahoa Highway. There’s no parking lot, just a pullout alongside the uphill-bound lane. Keep a sharp eye out for it — the trailhead is very easy to drive past, especially given the speed of traffic on this section of the road. But once you find the right place to stop, the trail is easy to follow.

map

This is an easy hike. It’s short, there’s very little elevation change, and trail conditions are mostly good. In fact, part of the trail is paved with asphalt. I think this is leftover from the days of long ago when the National Park Service had better funding.

This is called the “Footprints Trail” because at different times in past centuries, people walked through this area during severe volcanic activity, leaving footprints behind in thin layers of clay. The park service built a shelter over an example of footprints, but over the years the prints have been vandalized and aren’t really recognizable. Nevertheless, this is a great hike to see the old lava flows and the sparse vegetation on this side of the area known as the Ka`u Desert. Highly recommended if you want a short outing!

Note that the Footprints Trail meets the Ka`u Desert Trail, which runs for miles in both directions. You might want to continue on for a bit — but don’t get carried away.

And that winery? It’s Volcano Winery, of course! We liked the guava-grape wine.

This is near the start of the Footprints Trail.

This is near the start of the Footprints Trail.


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