First Draft of Catalyst – Work in Progress

I completed the first draft of my next novel titled Catalyst! Now on to revisions. But I’m going to savor this moment for a little while. More adventures with Marcie and Eric Horton. This time they are fighting Fracking in southern Indiana and much, much more!

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Research trip to Mammoth Cave and Diamond Cave for my work in progress.

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I’m getting ready to write the scene in my WIP where the characters visit Mammoth cave in Kentucky. Being deep underground, caves aren’t bombarded with all of the energy waves from cell phones, TV’s, radios, etc., and some consider them to be portals to other dimensions. To find out more about that, you’ll have to read my novel when I’m finished. 🙂

Last spring I went on a research trip to Mammoth and Diamond caves to learn more about them. The most interesting thing I learned, which might seem obvious, but didn’t occur to me until I was in the cave is that it is PITCH BLACK when they turn out the lights. You could see absolutely NOTHING. Not the hand in front of your face or even the movement of your hand. It took a brave soul to venture down there before they were electrically lighted.

Mammoth cave is mostly a dry cave, so while it was beautiful and cool, it didn’t have the stalagmites and stalactites that form from dripping water.

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Tunnel in Mammoth Cave

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Rock passage in Mammoth Cave

Emerald Cave, which is much smaller, but actually part of the same cave system, is a wet cave and has beautiful features formed from the constantly dripping water.

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It’s hard to do justice to the beauty with my little instamatic camera. All of the caves were originally thought to be formed by water and at the lower levels not open to the public, underground rivers flow. One of the rivers, appropriately called the River Styx, emerges from the ground through a rock wall onto the surface.

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This looks like a pool of water, but it is actually a river flowing out of the rock wall.

One of the themes of my books is the dangers of Fracking. We found it interesting that the buses at Mammoth Cave National Park are run on the so-called ‘clean energy’ of natural gas. Ironic to say the least.

Research trips are one of the perks of being an author!

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Just Say NO to Fracking – and a word about “Horton Hears a Who”

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All of my novels have an environmental theme and in my next novel (over halfway through the first draft!) the Horton family will be opposing Fracking in southern Indiana. My books are my way of taking a stand about the dangers of polluting and exploiting our planet, and hopefully awakening a similar outrage in my readers. All wrapped up in wonderful, exciting story. I believe if all of us make our own waves we create a tidal wave of change.

A side note about the Horton family. While each novel is a stand-alone story, the Horton family is featured in all three. I chose the name ‘Horton’ because of Dr. Suess’s (Dr. Suess is kind of my hero) book Horton Hears a Who. No one believes Horton when he hears the ‘Who’s’ calling out from a dust speck on a dandelion, but Horton perseveres. That book speaks to me on so many levels. First, that another group of beings could exist on a dust speck. I love the image of the Universe being as amazingly small as it is amazingly huge. Second, Horton knows the truth of what he hears and keeps on saying it even in the face of adversity. In the end, the other animals hear the Who’s and they are saved. I can only hope that will be true for humanity as well, and we will realize the truth of climate change and our role in causing it before it’s too late. There’s another Dr. Suess book about this, I’m sure you remember it – The Lorax. Remember what happened after all of the Truffula trees were cut down to make Thneeds? It wasn’t a pretty place.

There’s a lot in the news about the dangers of Fracking (if you’re paying attention) but is hasn’t stopped the energy companies from continuing to Frack or governments from continuing to support it – with some notable exceptions like New York. Even President Obama promotes Natural Gas, which is what is released when gas wells are Fracked, as the new clean energy. It may burn cleaner, but the impact of extracting it is anything but clean.

Fracking, or hydrolic fracturing, is a method of natural gas extraction by injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary – read unnamed – chemicals, under extremely high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and opens fissures allowing natural gas to escape. In 2005, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the proprietary chemicals used do not need to be disclosed to the public. These chemicals are anything but safe.

Scientists have identified dozens of chemicals, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, in Fracking waste water. Chemicals that are known poisons and carcinogens!!! The Fracked wells are up to 8,000 feet deep and between one and eight million gallons of water is used EACH time a well is Fracked. A well can be Fracked up to 18 times.

So why should you care?

1. Only 50% of the water used (including chemicals) is recovered from the wells. That leaves the remaining  50% left behind to contaminate aquifers.

2. The waste water recovered is put into evaporation tanks and the chemicals are evaporated directly into the air, thus contaminating the air we breathe. The water is highly toxic and has to be treated after the chemicals have evaporated.

3. Drinking water wells and rivers and streams around the Fracking site are contaminated with the Methane gas that was released during Fracking. Residents can often light their tap water on fire. It is undrinkable.

4. Fracking, especially horizontal Fracking, creates cracks or fissures in the rock which has been proven to increase seismic activity and earthquakes in the areas surrounding the Fracking sites. Fracking in places where fault lines exist such as California, is reckless and potentially dangerous.

5. During a time of drought in much of the west, using millions of gallons of water to Frack is irresponsible to say the least.

Dr. Suess was writing about our responsibility as caretakers of Earth when I was a child. We’ve yet to heed the warnings. Will you join me in making waves so that we create a Tsunami of change?