Movies and Herons

Other than the release of my new novel, I caught a few movies this past week. After it set an opening weekend box-office record, I almost felt obligated to check out Jurassic World. Overall, I thought it was a fun, if somewhat underwhelming, experience. It was funny and the action scenes delivered, but I didn't feel like it did anything new. A decent work of nostalgia, but I'm ready for this franchise to move on. I go into a little more depth on my other blog, if you'd like more details.

I was far more impressed with Pixar's new movie, Inside Out. This is easily the best movie we've seen from the studio since at least Toy Story 3, and it can hold its own alongside anything in their catalog. My full review is here.

In order to offset all that time spent in a dark theater, Lindsay and I drove down to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. It's a good place for bird watching: we saw herons, bald eagles, and a number of other avians. The eagles were too far away for me to get a good picture, but here's a shot of a whole flock of herons.

Okay, okay: it doesn't quite do the experience justice. Take it from me - it was pretty incredible to watch.

Speaking of pictures not doing things justice, the Wildlife Refuge offers a great perspective on Mount Rainier. Staring at it across the marshes had a real Mount Doom effect. I took dozens of photos trying to capture the sense of scale, but my phone wasn't really up to the task. Here's about as close as I came:

If you squint, you should be able to tell there's a mountain there.

Today's the Day: A Count of Five is Available Now!

As promised, A Count of Five is available on Amazon now. The Kindle version can be purchased here for $2.99, and the paperback is for sale over here for $9.99. It's enrolled in Matchbook, so you can also get a digital copy for free after ordering the paperback.

A Count of Five is the first novel in the Citadel of The Last Gathering, an epic fantasy adventure blending in elements of science fiction and other genres. Its sequel will be available this November - more on that soon!

I Did Not Realize That Killer Whales Drown Great White Sharks

So here's why I haven't seen Jurassic World yet....

Lindsay and I took a four day weekend and camped on Orcas Island. We went on several short hikes, visited the town, and wrapped up our last night there with a whale watch in the sound.

We had a fantastic time. Orcas Island isn't the absolute most magnificent place we've been to in Washington State (the Mountain Loop Highway and Olympic Peninsula are tied for that honor), but it was still breathtaking. More than that, the attractions were surprisingly quiet, giving us far more solitude than we've gotten from other destinations in the area.

One warning: settlers killed off the island's native bear and wolf populations more than a century ago, which has left Orcas Island at the mercy of a single animal:

Deer. That picture was from our campsite. We saw deer everywhere while we were on the island. They do not fear humans.

My pictures really don't do justice to the Madrona trees we saw there. These things look like they're made out of bronze or something.

It was a much needed break from work and writing. I don't think I find anything as inspirational as a vacation to a new climate and setting. I'm eager to get back to work on the next novel.

Book Update (Anachronistic Version)

We received the first proof yesterday, and we're happy with how it came out. That said, we did make a few minor tweaks and fix a handful of typos. While it's probably safe to assume this won't have any impact on the book, we want to be sure, so we're ordering a second proof before approving it.

Amazon's estimating it'll show up on or around the 15th. If all goes as planned, that should give us just enough time to look it over, approve it, and get it listed by the 18th. That's assuming we didn't screw anything up, of course: if we have to make any additional changes, we'll need to delay the launch of the physical version.

If you're just planning on getting the e-book, rest assured that will be ready by the 18th regardless. You can make sure you get it the second it's available by pre-ordering it now (though, just a reminder, anyone who wants both versions should just get the physical: we'll be setting that up to come with a free Kindle version).

Also, this seems like a good time to roll out the imprint we threw together. While it's certainly not necessary to have an imprint when self-publishing, Amazon gives you the option. And, frankly, I just don't think a book spine looks right without one.

Lindsay came up with the name, Idyll Themes, and I re-purposed a drawing I did for a Christmas pirate story a few years back as a symbol.