James M. Tabor's Blog
April 27, 2012
Last week, England's Royal Society (roughly analogous to our National Academy of Sciences) issued a report on overpopulation. Twenty-two months in the making, with contributions from the UK's most eminent scientists, it was not an encouraging read. Enough to make one want to run out and become a Doomsday Prepper, in fact. For example...
If population growth continues at its current rate, developing countries would have to construct the equivalent of a million-resident city every five days to accommodate new people.
If pop grown continues, it's not a question of if, but when, resource wars ignite in Africa and the mid-East.
Those are just two of the reports more depressing findings. MOST DEPRESSING?--That governments and corporations will have to work together to stem the flood. Good luck with that one.
So where is all this leading, other than into the Slough of Despond? In the followup novel to THE DEEP ZONE, possibly titled THE DARK SECTOR, a group of rogue scientists come up with a novel solution to overpopulation. Hallie Leland has to stop them before... well, don't want to do any spoilers here.
April 7, 2012
I'm writing this, watching deer out in the pasture in the foreground and snow melting off the Green Mountains farther away. The deer graze a little, pick up their heads to make a prey check, browse some more... I'm doing a lot of grazing myself these days on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, et al. (Not to mention obsessively checking the Amazon rankings of The Deep Zone.) Picking my head up every so often to look around, then diving back in. I gotta say, I love these social media, but it can be like trying to drink from the proverbial fire hose. Flipboard, yesterday, kicked out a report by some scientists who were trying to quantify the optimum inputs to achive retweets. One way, I can guarantee you, is not to write like they did. Reading it was like trying to breathe maple syrup. I'd like to see them boil it down to 140 characters.
April 6, 2012
I was talking with a very astute friend this morning who'd just finished The Deep Zone. She said, "This is an amazing example of fiction following fact. This stuff with ACE really happened, and nobody knows about it." She's absolutely right. I think one of the novel's less publicized features is that it is indeed based on a real bacterium that infected, and in some cases killed, real American soldiers. And that it took prodding by Congress to uncover full details about what was happening in military hospitals.
I'm going to write more about the facts behind the fiction in this and following posts.
Acinetobacter baumanii--ACE, I call it for short--is the pathogen that attacked the soldiers. It was not one or two cases. "This a very large outbreak,"Arjun Srinivasan, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. public health service and a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control, told Forbes magazine in 2005.
ACE is formidable for several reasons. It's very hardy, able to survive on the human skin or dry surfaces for weeks. It has inherent resistance to antibiotics like penicillin, chloramphenicol, and many other. What's more, it's also a quick-change artist, able to develop resistance to drugs faster than new drugs can be created to kill it. When Hallie Leland says, in the novel, that researchers at Stanford found in ACE the most mutations ever reported in a bacterium, she was speaking the truth.
Ace is not only hardy and resistant to all the drugs we have. It is an especially nasty germ.Put simply, ACE eats flesh, as a picture accompanying this blog post shows.
Next post will look at the military's efforts to suppress reports about ACE's attacks on our troops.
April 3, 2012
The correct place is this:
April 3, 2012
I'll be hosting a twitter chat today at 3 EST to talk about my novel, The Deep Zone.
#earlybirdreads is where it happens. Please join in!!
April 3, 2012
It's considered poor form for a writer to respond directly to Amazon reviewers at amazon.com., so I'm going to, here. I cannot go another day without thanking all those who have read The Deep Zone and posted such positive reviews about it.
Not only Amazon reviewers have been enthusiastic, so I need to thank, also, those from Goodreads, Library Journal, Librarything, and Googlebooks.
Writers and critics have written endlessly about the relationship between writers and readers, but I think it's really simple and direct. Without you readers, there would be no us writers. Oh, we could always write for ourselves, but that would be diary-keeping, and there's a big difference
For a writer publishing his first novel at 64, these kind words are sweet indeed.
March 19, 2012
So, The Deep Zone's release date is April 3, coming up fast. Preview reviewers on Amazon have liked the book and written very generously about it. Also Goodreads and Libraryjournal. As I noted in the last post, it's nerve-wracking waiting for the actual sales to begin.
So far, five foreign language rights have been sold, and that's a very good sign this early.
I'll pass on a tip about a great novelist about to break out--William Landay of Boston. I met Bill earlier during a book appearance and subsequently started reading his books. His newest, Defending Jacob, is destined to become a classic. (And has movie written all over it.) It's a courtroom drama. Bill knows courtrooms. He's a prosecuting attorney. Don't read the book's first page unless you have a lot of time to keep going.
January 30, 2012
The first pre-publication reviews of The Deep Zone have begun to appear. My editor at Random House/Ballantine Books did a superheroic job of helping me bring this one home. Also can't say enough good things about the publishing side.
Some very famous novelists liked it a lot. Readers at Goodreads and Libary Journal are enthusiastic. Was it Wellington who said that a general can only make plans for a battle, then sit back and watch--once it begins, it's all out of his hands? Kind of like that publishing a book. You can write the best book you can write, which I did, but there's never any telling how it will strike others.
Makes for an exciting ride.
October 27, 2011
We have a new puppy, and I found some incredible training videos on YouTube. The presenter must have spent YEARS developing his skills and offers them free. Free! Can you imagine. Nor is he unique. I've benefited from other web-based "secret sharers" in everything from laying tile to classical guitar.
I'd like to do some sharing, too.
So if you're a writer with a question about writing, send it along and I'll do the best I can to help. You can send it here, if you want others to benefit from our discourse, or privately to my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This isn't total altruism, either. Someone once said, "To really learn something, teach it." That's the payback for me.)
October 26, 2011
Publishing a first novel is right up there with life's other Great Firsts,viz.:
Imagine doing any (or all) of those at 63. The first question: is it sweeter, later? The big answer: damn right, for me anyway. Climb,dive wrecks,ride horses (or anything) all your life, but there's always one undone thing. I've been a writer all my life, and the novel was mine.Good thing old genes abound in my family, because I'm looking to ride this horse a good way.
This novel is my undone thing finally done, and I'd like to hear about others--not just writerly things, either, but all kinds. Pitch in!