Edits in for Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser is now listed – under the correct author’s name, after my original penname was accidentally used – on the Whiskey Creek Press “coming soon” page:


Meanwhile, I’ve got the manuscript back for edits, along with a note that time is short! As a result I’ll be mostly vanishing from the internet for several days, although I’ll be available by e-mail – let me know if I miss anything.

Don't Ignore Off-Year Elections

If you happen to be a registered voter in Albion -- vote for me on May 3! If you're not ... well, just don't get caught with that false ID.


Once upon a time, a serious fire broke out in a downtown business.

As soon as the Department of Defense got the first 911 call, they dispatched a full alarm assignment of fire trucks from the Department of Homeland Security. EPA firefighters attacked the blaze, while an ambulance from the Centers for Disease Control stood by in case of injuries.

The streets around the building quickly became impassible due to fire trucks and hose, so several police officers from the FBI were needed to provide traffic and crowd control. They were assisted by employees of the U.S. Department of Transportation, who set up barricades around the area.

While investigators from the Department of Justice looked into the cause of the blaze, a displaced family from an upstairs apartment received assistance from a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The large amount of water used in fighting the fire began depleting the town’s supply, so technicians from the Army Corps of Engineers were called in to bring the water works up to its full capacity.

Together, employees of the Federal Government control local emergencies like this every day.



No, that’s not how it works, although some people in Washington would have you think so. The first responders to emergencies and disasters in America, major and minor, are dedicated members of local agencies. Feds do get called to disasters, and sometimes even provide help, but by the time they arrive most of the life threatening aspects of an emergency have passed. That’s just one reason why bloated, red tape choked federal agencies are seldom as effective as the same resources divided among local governments. A faceless bureaucrat not only doesn’t know local needs, he just isn’t close enough to provide for them.

There’s a local primary election coming up in a couple of weeks.

Yes, it is so connected. Just wait.

I know, I know – another friggin’ election. Didn’t we do one of those last year? Don’t we vote for President again next year? Could we catch a break, for crying out loud? It’s always been my contention that we could save money and time by having elections only on even years, and don’t even get me started on constant, back to back campaign seasons.

But that’s not my point at the moment. My concern now is that a lot of people ignore “off year” elections like this one, even though in many ways they’re not less, but more important than national elections.

What’s that, you say? Isn’t it vital to throw the bums out of Washington?

Boy, it sure is.

But the responsibilities of the Federal government are limited by the Constitution (a fact ignored by numerous Congresses and Presidents). While Congress does a bang-up job of ignoring the real problems and spending America over a cliff, most of the day-to-day government actions that directly affect you take place on the local level.

So who you elect to a town, township, city, county, or school board office is profoundly important to you, the citizen. It’s your responsibility to make those decisions. The people you elect will then be charged with directing the departments and workers that protect your community, and keep modern society functioning day to day.

It’s employees of county and city dispatch centers who take those 911 call.

It’s volunteers of the local fire departments that enter that burning building.

Members of the county EMS treat the victims.

It’s the local or state police officer, or a volunteer reserve officer living next door to you, whose vigilance catches the bad guys. Most of those bad guys are convicted by prosecutors you not only vote for, but could encounter in the local restaurant.

Street and highway departments remove debris and let emergency apparatus through after a storm.

Town and city utility workers keep the clean water coming in, and the bad stuff going out.

Local volunteers of the Red Cross and other agencies look after displaced families.

What do federal government agencies do? I mean, on a day to day basis? Mostly they rake in your tax dollars, take a cut off the top to pay for a bunch of paper-pushing bureaucrats, then send stacks of paperwork back to the local governments along with mandates to do things that they seldom help pay for. This results in local governments having to do more and more with less and less, and they don’t get to print their own money to make up for a shortfall.

Someone has to figure out how to keep things running – usually not with the help of, but despite the Feds. Those someone’s take time out from their families and full time jobs to wade through paperwork, take calls and e-mails, and sit on board meetings on Monday afternoons or Tuesday evenings. Their decisions affect you every day.

Now, tell me local elections aren’t important.

I always say this, but it needs to be stressed more here, in these “off year” times that don’t get as much attention. Partially they don’t get attention because local officials think more about local problems, and less about jockeying for political position; maybe part is that by the time local elections roll around we’re all just plain tired.

But it still needs to be said, yet again: Vote. Educate yourself, pick the best candidate, and take a few minutes to go out and push those buttons.

Doctor Doom Probes Prostate

Since this column relates to cancer, and I’m promotions chair for the Noble County Relay for Life, I’d be remiss if I didn’t again mention that worthy organization’s need for both donations and people to help in organizing and holding the Relay. Please go to their website, or contact any Relay member, to help out in any way you can:



I thought some of you might be interested in an update about my health. Now that I’m running for Town Council again, a serious illness could cause a crisis of power and questions of a peaceful transition of government.

Okay, I didn’t think all that many of you would be interested in my health, but not meeting my column deadline could harm my financial health.

How long ago did my cancer scare started? A couple of years, I suppose. I got a PSA test, which stands for ... let’s see … Prostate Specific Antigen. Yay, my memory’s okay!

The PSA numbers were a little high, so they sent me to a urologist. You’d think a urologist would involve himself in urine, wouldn’t you? I mean, the name and all. I figured the guy would say, “Pee in a cup.”

Instead he said, “Pull down your pants and bend over”.

I’m not going to identify the doctor. He’s a very nice guy and probably wouldn’t mind, but would you shake his hand if you knew what he did for a living? I’m trying out various nicknames for him, though, starting with “Doctor Plunger”.

Honestly, I couldn’t describe what he looks like. I haven’t been able to look him in the eyes since then, although I did buy flowers and ask him to keep in touch.

The numbers were just high enough that he decided to send me in for a prostate biopsy. In the interest of public service I won’t describe the procedure, because men should be willing to get one. You can probably figure it out for yourself, though. The only thing I had going for me is that I was down in Fort Wayne, and the doctor was a guy, and who would understand my discomfort more?

Except the person doing the procedure turned out to be female, who’s related to the lady who cuts my hair.

I’ll never show up at one of their family gatherings.

The biopsy came back okay. No cancer, but a couple of cells that could be thinking about being cancer. Kind of pre-pre-cancer, or maybe cancer wannabes. After going over the results, Doctor Fat Finger and I decided to keep an eye on things with periodic PSA tests. It’s the most thankful I’ve ever been to get a needle in the arm, instead of other places where it could have gone.

The problem is, the next PSA rating more than doubled.

I wasn’t scared of getting cancer. I was scared of getting another biopsy. How misguided is that? I do remember being very angry about the possibility that I might die before getting my first novel published, but now that Storm Chaser’s release has been scheduled for June of this year I think I’m pretty safe. (See how I slipped that free publicity in there? Always be closing.)

After thinking on It (Not literally on it – ew), Doctor Roto-Rooter decided the PSA might have been taken too close to the biopsy, leaving open the possibility that my poor, abused prostate (Could they at least buy me dinner before the next exam?) was throwing off higher numbers because of being overstimulated. Um, insert a joke of your own, I’m not going there. I said insert. Heh.

This leads me to today. Well, not literally today – it’s been a few months ago for you, the somewhat queasy reader of this fascinating medical thriller. January’s always bad for me, but this one seemed a bit worse. I’d managed to hurt my back shoveling snow, I was struggling with the decision of

whether to run again for Town Council, we barely survived a drive in a snowstorm, and my carefully planned schedule degenerated into me missing every

one of my non-work appointments for most of the month.

Not a great start to the year. Then I received the call that my new PSA reading was 6.0 – almost exactly the same as last time.

Good news? Bad? Should I start working on my bucket list, or worry that Doctor Seymour Butts was going to want something else shoved up my bucket?

When I got in to see him, his response was: “Drop your pants and bend over”.

I had to spend the rest of the appointment staring at the floor.

Still, he had cautiously good news. My levels hadn’t risen, there were no other symptoms, and my prostate … well, there’s no delicate way to say it felt normal. His working theory is that the biopsy frightened my poor little prostate (still little, thank goodness), causing it to give off abnormally high levels of frightened antigens. Having another biopsy might send the levels even higher, resulting in a dog-chases-tail scenario, and isn’t that an apt comparison? Best continue to keep an eye on things, figuratively speaking.

So there are two ways of looking at this. One is that it’s bad news: No real answer, just the world’s longest health scare. The other is good news: Indications are this is probably not cancer, and getting tapped for a vial of blood once every four months doesn’t do me any harm.

I choose the good.

Now to deal with the back injury, which, I assure you, did not happen while being examined at Doctor Plunger’s office.

Thank goodness my chiropractor never asks me to drop anything.

TwisterPalooza writing challenge

I've posted a "Doctor Horrible's Singalong Blog" fanfiction drabble (100 word story) in the comments on my TwisterPalooza fic writing challenge at:


I don't have any idea if that's the best way to run a writing challenge -- I've never done one before -- but that's where I decided to collect everyone's weather/storm related stories to celebrate the release of "Storm Chaser". The problem is, nobody except Emily and I has submitted one, and I'm feeling lonely. By all means, if you have a weather related fanfic or original fic, post it there or send me the link -- we could use a break from all the recent bad weather news.

Shadarobah Horse Rescue facility holding benefit

Volunteers at the Shadarobah Horse Rescue facility near Churubusco are hosting their third annual Easter benefit on April 23rd, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds will go toward the upkeep costs of boarding dozens of horses that have been taken in, often after being rescued from situations of abuse and neglect.

Events at the benefit include egg hunts and coloring, a kid’s raffle, pony rides, games, food and a bake sale, face painting, and moonwalking. Prizes and pony rides will also be offered and – of course – the Easter bunny is expected to appear.

For more information, contact (260) 410-1999 or visit the Shadarobah website at:


Shadarobah, which is located at 10113 Goshen Road, Fort Wayne, also has a Facebook page:


Indiana town names delight and confuse ... mostly confuse


Last week we discussed the entomology of ants, or possibly the antymology of location names, or the etymology of naming ants. It turns out that many of the names of our familiar towns, counties, and other places have interesting origins, although I’m not sure South Bend or Fort Wayne are anything more than obvious.

(As an aside, I always got a kick out of the moment in the movie Planet of the Apes, when an ape refuses to believe that the crash landed astronaut could have grown up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Who, he inquired, would name a town after a fort?)

We get the obvious with Indiana – which today would have been named NativeAmericanAna – and the more obvious with its capitol, Indianapolis, which is Greek for “Who designed this crazy highway system?”

Around here we also go from the not so obvious (Ligonier? Apparently named after a Fort in Pennsylvania that drove off, ironically, Indians) to the pretty obvious (Think there were wolves around a body of water near Wolf Lake?) A lot of our place names, as might be imagined, come from Native American words.

However, sometimes we didn’t get those right: The Ojibwa tribe named a nearby large body of water Michigama, which means – yep – large water. But noooooo – that spelling wasn’t good enough for us European folk. We had to go with Michigan.

The state of Michigan, by the way, is divided by a body of water called the
Straits of Mackinac, and as everyone knows Mackinac is a word meaning “Why didn’t you just turn it into two separate states?”

Now we move to Churubusco, possibly the second coolest name for a town ever, and named after a famous battle of the Mexican-American war called the battle of … wait for it … figured it out on your own, didn’t you?

Actually, Churubusco was a village near Mexico City, and probably didn’t appreciate the attention. Here’s a neat little connection for you: after the battle a brigade of volunteer US soldiers were billeted in the convent of Churubusco. Those soldiers were from Albion, New York.

No, just kidding – they were from New York, though. Would have been cool.

True to form, that wasn’t its original name. The place was a native
American temple named Huitzilopochco, but while trying to pronounce the word the Spanish conquistadors kept getting attacked, so they just jotted down the first thing that came anywhere near close to it. Actually, even that doesn’t make sense: They probably just made up an entirely different name to spite the original

Originally Churubusco, Indiana was two towns divided by a railroad track: Franklin and Union. Combining into Franklunion just seemed a bit silly, and as it happened a lady who lived there had a relative who had just fought in a battle – at Churubusco, Mexico.

The Miami Indians had inhabited the area before that, but they all retired and moved to Florida.

These days Churubusco is known for the “Beast of Busco”, a giant turtle who comes out on Christmas night and eats little children who don’t go to sleep before Santa gets there. It’s possible I’m mixing the story up a little bit, but the germ of it is that a giant turtle was spotted in a nearby pond, possibly wearing the remains of a Santa Claus outfit.

The story became so famous that I actually mention it in my novel Storm Chaser, but only in passing – literally. You’ll have to buy the book to see what that means. *evil laugh*

Now we move on to my favorite name: Huntertown.

I used to mess with my kids by telling them that Huntertown was named after our families. My mother’s side, of course, the Welch’s.

But no, Huntertown was settled in around 1832, while my Hunters didn’t arrive in Indiana for more than a hundred years later. I’d always assumed that Huntertown was named by some hunters, maybe somebody trying to cut down on the deer population because they’d heard automobiles would someday be coming, and they wanted to prevent the coming carnage.

Much to my surprise, it turns out Huntertown was founded by William T. Hunter – love that name – along a plank road connecting Fort Wayne to a place called Lima, which is now called Howe. Why? I don’t know.

In true Albion fashion (Albion was originally called “Center”), Huntertown was originally no more than a forest clearing, and was called “The Opening”. That didn’t seem like a good name for any town that wasn’t featured in a Stephen King novel, so William took advantage and did something we could only dream of these days – he named a town after himself.

Don’t think I haven’t tried that.

Huntertown, at least before the recession, was one of the fastest growing areas in northeast Indiana, and I’d like to think that wonderful name is at least partially responsible for the growth. By the way, the newspaper there, Northwest News, is housed in a former bank building that was robbed in the 1930’s by the John Dillinger gang.

So you see, history is interesting. It all depends on how you word it.

Storm Chaser art, excerpt featured in Blogoversary

Today's the day Jessica Subject is featuring me and Storm Chaser on her "blogoversary" celebration. It includes an early look at the cover art, which we were going to put on my website first but haven't had time for yet. There's also a partially unreleased excerpt of my novel, and a chance to win a free copy:


Storm Chaser Shorts Anthology accepted by Whiskey Creek Press

Storm Chaser Shorts, a collection of ten short stories set before, and in a few cases after, the events of Storm Chaser, has been purchased by Whiskey Creek Press. Contract signed! It'll likely be available as an e-book anthology, and I'll get you more information about the release date as soon as I have it myself.

The stories follow various characters from the novel as they live their lives and make decisions that culminate in their encountering each other during an Indiana heat wave. Some of the tales are humorous, some drama or action-adventure, and one is maybe just a bit mystical ...

The Raiders of the Lost Ark march -- live!

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic came to Albion Sunday -- making up for their storm-canceled Christmas concert on a day when we tied a record high temperature. It was my first time hearing a live orchestra -- fantastic, breathtaking. I still can't believe an orchestra pulled off a Beatles medley, but I think Lennon and McCartney would approve.

It was probably the most relaxing two hours I've had in a long time, although at the same time my mind kept peppering me with ideas for stories through the whole concert. Maybe writers never really relax?

Spring Meth Madness

A sad new spring tradition seems to have appeared in the area: The discovery of meth lab remains by residents getting out into the warmer weather.

The remnants of seven discarded meth labs were found around the area just on Saturday alone, according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. Most were discarded along county roads after someone finished making the illegal drug -- they wanted to get rid of the tell-tale remains that could get them arrested, or injured by the chemicals involved. One of the labs was discovered near a parking lot in Chain O' Lakes State Park.

Although people clearing ditches or taking walks often uncovered the lab trash, in one case the discovery was made when a Kendallville area resident's dog dragged a bottle with a white substance in it onto the porch.

Everyone is asked to use extreme caution if they encounter the materials, which often consist of plastic bottles with a white substance inside. There may also be small plastic bags, straws, or tubes, in addition to other material. The chemicals involved sometimes aren't completely mixed and can come into contact when the containers are moved, causing toxic gasses to be released. In late March the remains of a lab ignited alongside a roadway near Albion, causing a small grass fire.

Anyone finding suspected meth trash is asked to call the police and report the location, but not touch the substance.

Place Names Reveal Albion Etymology


One of my internet friends commented on what interesting place names we have in Indiana. Most people around here probably don’t think much about that, beyond cursing whoever thought it was a good idea to make thousands of future school kids have to spell Kosciusko County.

I mean, who needs to spell “county”, anyway?

Kosciusko was, of course, a Revolutionary War hero. You knew that, didn’t you? Sure you did. In fact, he’s considered a national hero of Poland, Lithuania (where lithium batteries are made), and Belarus, as well as the United States. The guy got around; just ask the people of Kosciusko Island, Alaska.

There’s also a county in this area named after Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski (the father of American cavalry). He worked with a General of local fame by the name of “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who was apparently angry a lot.

We also have a county named after Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, and aren’t you people to the northeast glad they used only his last name? He became famous for teaching discipline to the American soldiers at Valley Forge; Steuben accomplished this by forcing anyone who didn’t obey to write his full name out a thousand times.

There’s also a Steuben County, New York, which as far as I know is unrelated to Albion, New York.

But I digress, which I believe is also a community in Alaska. After talking to my friend, I realized some of the names of our communities had an interesting entomology (that’s a town just outside of Fairbanks).

Wait, entomology is the study of bugs. Etymology is the study of the history of words. Words such as “bugs”.

Man, I love this language.

Let’s take a look at the three communities that are closest to my writer’s heart, in that newspapers featuring my column are located there. (Okay, maybe “featuring” is a strong word, but my column can usually be found somewhere between editorial and sports, except during playoff season.)

Albion is the oldest known name for an island that we today call Great Britain. Apparently it’s derived from the white cliffs of Dover (the name, not the island), which are white, and cliffs, and honestly I’m not sure how they got Albion out of that. From there the word forms the basis of the Gaelic name for Scotland, Alba, from which a family came that eventually produced an actress named Jessica Alba. So we have them to either thank or curse.

Jessica Alba could not be reached for comment, but several Scottish gentlemen mentioned that they’d be happy to speak with her about it, possibly over a scotch.

The Canadian Confederation period happened once a month during 1867, and was accompanied by bloating and grouchy polar bears. During that reorganization, suggested names for the new country included New Albion and Albionoria, which means “Albion of the North”, and aren’t you Canadians glad you don’t have to sing “Oh Albionoria”?

So, the name Albion comes from the Old Country, just like potatoes and smallpox. That means we got the name of Albion, Indiana, from England, yes?

Well, no.

There are at least 22 communities in America named Albion, if you include the fact that it was an early name for a little town that later changed it’s moniker to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our town was originally named Center, because early settlers voted for the town to be the seat of Noble County due to it being in the – wait for it – center of the county.

There was no town there at the time.

Eventually, so the story goes, one of the people charged with naming the new town remembered a community he used to live in, called Albion, New York. Everyone else apparently gave some variation of “why not?” while the representative of Kendallville said “Hey – even though we’re in the corner of the county we should be the county seat!” He was ignored, because at the time the city of Kendallville was called “Corner”.

If they’d just changed their name sooner, they’d have the cool courthouse.

Meanwhile I’ve discovered there are supposedly three Albion’s in New York, so which one did the guy come from? And did he later move on to Albion, the little crossroads in southern Indiana?

Didn’t know there was a second Albion in Indiana, did you? I’ve never been there, but I hear they have two stop signs and a barn. No word on what the barn is named.

I see I’ve run out of space, which is the name of a town in Florida, so I’ll divide this into two columns and pretend I didn’t do it in order to fill space in winter, that time of year when I’ve been known to throw snow shovels at people who say, “Isn’t the cooler weather nice?”

(Yes, I’m well aware you’re reading this in April. I wrote this column ahead of time and used it now because of a big writing thing that I haven’t announced yet, and aren’t you intrigued? I left the mention of weather in because it reminds me of how wonderful spring is.)

Next week, if I haven’t set out walking south (hee!), we’ll talk about Churubusco and the best named community in Indiana: Huntertown.

could use a reset this week ...

yep. I was going to post a reminder about the TwisterPalooza fic writing challenge, and how Emily and I had each posted a story to start out over at http://ozma914.livejournal.com/439157.html, but oh ...

LiveJournal can't be accessed because some SCUMBAG is throwing a denial of service attack.

Now, look, I've been having a bad day. Whiskey Creek Press posted Storm Chaser under "coming soon" on their website, but somehow my original pen name (Jane E. Richards) got put on it, instead of my real name. My TV interview got eaten by the Indiana News Center computer, so now I have to pay to get a DVD of it (assuming the company I called can find it) and figure out a way to get that posted on my website. I screwed up my math, and my approved vacation time is a day off from my actual work schedule. Also, Emily and I are having some medical issues.

I guess what I'm saying is: Somebody needs to find the people responsible for attacking LJ and put them in a room with people who are having weeks like I am. We'll take care of it.

Fires Scorch Brush, Fields

I made the first truck out on the brush fire I described in this article. I probably should have stayed home after a chiropractor appointment a few hours before, but – and it’s not politically correct to admit this – I really love fighting brush fires. That doesn’t make setting a fire and then walking away from it any smarter. (This fire was actually very similar to a larger one that I describe in Storm Chaser.)

Two fire departments were needed to control a brush fire that scorched about ten acres southeast of Albion Thursday. It was one of nine ground cover fires reported to the Noble County Sheriff’s Department between Wednesday evening and late Friday.

The fire began at a home that was under construction near 0650 N 350 E. A contractor had reportedly tried to burn a brush pile, and while he was away for a short time the pile blazed up, with sparks and radiant heat spreading it to nearby grass. By the time a neighbor noticed the blaze at about 3:36 p.m. flames had spread into a surrounding field of set-aside land.

The fire crossed a fence row and burned into another field of set-aside land, charring trees and posts as it went and causing wind-blown flame fronts that at some points towered over the heads of firefighters. Albion firefighters initially responded, then called for trucks and manpower from Avilla to assist.

It took about forty-five minutes for firefighters manning three four wheel drive brush trucks and three other vehicles to bring the fire under control, and the last unit didn’t clear the scene for an hour and a half. Firefighters were hampered by changing winds and soft ground that left the Avilla brush truck stuck for a time, but no injuries were reported and no property damage was done beyond some destroyed fence posts.

The only other damage reported as a result of last week’s ground cover fires was near Cromwell, where a utility pole had to be replaced after it caught fire early Saturday. Someone burned off a ditch row along CR 200 N, near 1000 W, but left before making sure the fire was completely out.

It wasn’t: The base of a Noble REMC utility pole caught fire, and by the time it was noticed at about 1:28 a.m. Saturday had burned almost completely through. Cromwell firefighters arrived to discover the pole leaning over, supported only by power lines that luckily didn’t break from the stress. They extinguished the flames, and an REMC crew came out to replace the pole.

The Albion Fire Department snuffed out a similar fire at the base of a pole along River Road, near CR 50 W, but in that case they put the flames out before the utility pole was seriously damaged. That call came in at 9:21 p.m. Sunday, after dead grass there dried out enough to burn despite previous rains.

Albion firefighters also extinguished a grass fire Wednesday near 2852 W 200 N. On Thursday Noble Township and Cromwell fire units were kept hopping when two field fires were reported within eight minutes of each other, one on Knapp Lake Road and the other less than two miles away, near the south side of Knapp Lake.

Orange Township, Ligonier, Johnson Township, and Kendallville fire trucks also responded to brush and field fires during the period, before rain came in Friday evening to put the spring wildland fire season on temporary hold.

$5 more needed to make cancer fighting goal

The Relay for Life is in only a month and a half away, and I need just five dollars more in donations to make my hundred dollar goal. If I don’t reach that completely arbitrary amount that I set … well, not much of anything will happen, but it was a low goal and I’d like to hit it.

Also, I’m the number two participant in the Noble County Relay’s online website right now, and wouldn’t it be cool to be number one? Here’s the local Relay site: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=30391&pg=entry

And here’s my participation center, where you can go to make a donation through me, if you’d like. https://secure3.convio.net/tacs/rfl_pc/dashboard.html

If you don’t like me – well, make a donation anyway, through the main site. Much as I’d like to think otherwise, it’s not about me.

But if we raise $100,000 this year, you’ll still get to see me with a shaved head. Other than Emily, who doesn’t want to see that?

TwisterPalooza fic writing challenge

A few years ago, while striving hard to write and sell fiction, I promised myself an award for every big step forward: I would treat myself by writing a fanfic whenever I finished a step in a project. I used to be fairly well known for my fanfiction, and the advantage of writing it is that it’s strictly for fun – you can’t sell work based on someone else’s characters (unless they’re in public domain), after all.

But I got extra busy, and other than one Fringe story haven’t produced any fanfic for some time. I finished my YA mystery, got a request for the full manuscript from an agent, sold Storm Chaser, wrote a bunch of short stories, and had some good news in other areas that will be announced shortly. Now I’m hip deep in preparing to publicize and sell Storm Chaser, which as I’ve shouted far and wide is scheduled to come out in June.

So how can I treat myself to some fanfiction while also continuing to get word out about my new novel?

Emily and I did some brainstorming, and came up with a way to combine the two: a fic challenge that we’re calling – wait for it – TwisterPalooza.

Here’s the idea: For the month of April, we’re putting up a challenge for writers to post stories that, in some way, are impacted by the weather. It could have tornadoes in it, as Storm Chaser does; or it could involve any other weather phenomenon such as floods, lightning, drought, or hurricanes. We’ll even accept something directly affected by weather conditions, such as wildfires, as well as earthquakes. (Under the circumstances use a little sensitivity if dealing with tsunamis, but understand that writing about mother nature causing harm is no different than writing about, say, gun battles – it’s just a story.)

It can be fanfiction – I know a lot of great fanfic writers – but it can also be original fiction, and we’ll accept any fandom whether it be movies, TV shows, books, or whatever. Want to see Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer deal with a blizzard? Curious about how the cast of Supernatural would react to an earthquake that didn’t have a supernatural origin? Want to have a lightsaber duel interrupted by a flash flood? Always wanted to have Edward Cullen carried to Oz by a twister and magically turned into a marble statue? Well, who doesn’t want that?

Any length will be acceptable, from drabble to a chapter fic, and the winners will get a great banner made by my webmaster, Emily. Your fic can be posted anywhere – all we ask for is a working link that doesn’t require a login, and that you put the link on comments to this post. (If you want to be in on it just for fun without being in the voting, leave a note to that effect.) After about three weeks, we’ll put the poll up on a separate post and everyone can vote – if you have a longer fic that’s not finished, everyone can vote on what you have.

TwisterPalooza Challenge rules:

1) Can be any length original fiction, fanfiction, or poetry.

2) Must involve characters reacting to a natural disaster (bonus points for tornadoes, storms, or storm chasing, although of course that won’t count toward the winner.)

3) Must post a link to the story here: http://ozma914.livejournal.com/439157.html

Be gentle with me -- this is the first time I've ever created a challenge of my own. I’m going to post a little ficlet shortly myself, just as an example. (But I’m not eligible for the voting, of course.) Everybody have fun!