Time Crunch Interview

A couple of months ago an eighth-grade boy named Max interviewed me for his English class. Now that he’s a big ninth grader, he came back for a follow-up.

Shane: The last time we talked, I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel to “Time Snap.” But you sort of  got me thinking about it and, well, here we are.

Time Crunch Ebook CoverMax: I was so excited to read it! And thanks for the free copy, by the way.

Shane: No problem. 

Max: So you said you did a lot of things differently this time. What did you mean by that?

Shane: When we talked before, I told you that I always write my first drafts longhand, then type it into the computer later. With “Time Crunch,” I sat down in front of the computer and started typing. And I didn’t print out any pages or do any editing until I had the whole thing done.

Max: Was it hard doing it that way?

Shane: No, it was actually kind of fun. I didn’t write an outline or anything, so I didn’t really know where the story was going. I’d get up every morning excited to get to work to find out what was going to happen.

Max: You really didn’t know?

Shane: Not a bit. The characters would get into trouble or find themselves in a jam, and I’d start writing faster than ever just to find out what they were going to do about it. It was pretty exciting. I mean, for me it was like a reader going through it for the first time. I didn’t know what was going to happen next and I couldn’t wait to find out.

Max: So did everything turn out the way you thought?

Shane: I’m not sure, since I really had no idea how things were going to turn out. But there was one character I was sure was going to be a bad guy. I had in my mind that he’d turn out to be a jerk, and I kept waiting for him to do something mean, but he never did. So that really surprised me.

Max: There are a lot more dinosaurs in this book . . .

Shane: Oh, yeah. Like I said, I didn’t set out to write a series. But once I realized how much people liked the dinosaurs, I thought I’d better get back to work. So this one is set in the Mesozoic Era, and aside from the people all the main characters are dinosaurs.

Max: You said this is going to be a series?

Shane: It is now. The third book, “Time Jam,” will be out in October, and there will be at least one more after that.

Max: That’s awesome!

Shane: Yeah, I’m pretty excited. Like I said, it sorta just happened, but I’m happy with the way things are going.

Max: Is it a series that you have to read in order?

Shane: No, I’ve tried to write each book so that it stands alone. I’d like to think someone could pick up the second or third book and jump right into the story. And then maybe like it enough they might go back and read the others.

Max: Is it hard doing that?

Shane: It’s not hard, but I have to keep reminding myself there might be readers who don’t know the whole backstory, and I don’t want them to get lost.

Max: Can I back up a little bit?

Shane: Sure.

Max: You said you wrote this on your computer . . . what did you do next?

Shane: I’m a brutal editor. Once I had a first draft, I printed it and then went to work editing and polishing and rewriting and trying to make it better.

Max: But you didn’t do that on the computer?

Shane: No, to me it’s just different when it’s on paper. But having a hard copy lets me do the editing wherever I want. I take my dog mountain biking in the hills every morning–well, I bike and she runs–and when we get back I’ll pull out a chair and work on my books for a while. And we go camping a lot too. But I’ve always got my pages with me, and I try to get a lot of work done while we’re out in the hills.

Max: So you wrote about dinosaurs called “Siats?”

Shane: Siats meekerorum. It was discovered in Utah and was named after a mythical man-eating monster in Ute mythology. Siats means, “man-eating monster.”

Max: Sounds wicked.

Shane: It’s a good name . . . almost as good as “Lythronax.” That one means, “King of Gore.”

Max: That sure paints a picture.

Shane: I know, right? That’s one of the fun things about dinosaurs.

Max: So, you must have a lot of fun doing this . . .

Shane: You have no idea. I mean, writing can be a lot of work, and when I’m editing and polishing and trying to make things as good as I possibly can, sometimes I’ll agonize over a single sentence, trying to get it just right. But overall it’s a blast. I’m just really having a good time.

Max: And “Time Jam” will be out next month?

Shane: It’s gonna be tight. But that’s what I’m shooting for.

Max: So, um . . .

Shane: Are you going to get another free copy?

Max: Am I?

Shane: Count on it.

Max: Sweet!

 

Sneak Peak at “Time Crunch” (Part III)

This is an excerpt from my latest young adult thriller, Time Crunch. (Be sure to check out Parts I and II if you haven’t read them yet!) 

Chapter One: The Jet

Mr. Scherrer–the eighth-grade math teacher–grinned smugly.

“Okay, here’s a good one . . . Steve is going to paint the city’s cylindrical water tank. If the tank is ten feet tall with a radius of fifteen feet–and if one gallon of paint covers ten square feet–how many gallons of paint does Steve need to buy?”

Time Crunch Ebook CoverKids around the room instantly bent over their desks, punching at calculators and scribbling on scraps of paper. Near the back of the room, Chase McCord scrunched his nose. He’d seen a peculiar gleam in his teacher’s eyes and knew the problem couldn’t be as straightforward as it seemed.

Trick question, he thought. But what . . .

He quickly sketched a cylinder to represent the water tank.

Looking for the surface area, he thought, visualizing the formula.

He frowned.

But there has to be more to it than that.

Several students had already finished their calculations and were waving their hands, hoping to be called. Students able to solve the teacher’s notorious challenges were excused from the day’s assignment, which would be at least an hour’s work at home.

Surface area, Chase thought again. Not of a cylinder … but of a water tank!

He grinned, knowing he’d nailed it. Surface area described the “skin” of the cylinder. But a water tank would be sitting on the ground … so you wouldn’t have to paint the bottom!

He began punching his calculator, figuring the surface area without the bottom of the tank. He then figured out the amount of paint he’d need, coming up with 164.85 gallons.

He began to raise his hand, but quickly stopped himself.

Point 85 gallons?

Really?

No one was going to buy .85 gallons of paint.

He quickly rounded the number up and raised his hand.

“Max,” the teacher finally said to a boy in the front row. “You had your hand up first. What’ve you got?”

“He needs 235.5 gallons.”

Mr. Scherrer sucked in his breath and scrunched his nose. “Oooh! So close!”

Max’s face fell, and half the hands in the room dropped as students with the same answer checked their notes, wondering where they’d gone wrong.

The teacher took another few answers—none of them right—then turned to Chase.

“Mr. McCord, you’re smiling at me. Like to tell your classmates where they slipped up?”

Chase felt a rumble of appreciation for his teacher. Mr. Scherrer hadn’t asked for Chase’s answer: guessing he’d figured out the trick, he was asking for Chase to explain it.

“Good one, Mr. S.,” Chase said. “It’s a double trick question. The first thing is that since the tank’s sitting on the ground, you don’t have to paint the bottom”—

There were moans from students who’d fallen for the trap, and Max actually slapped himself on the forehead.

—“and when you calculate the amount of paint you get a decimal, so you have to round up to the nearest gallon.”

There were more groans as frustrated students realized they’d been fooled again (and most of them now realizing—like Chase—the question had been way too easy).

“Well done—”

The teacher stopped as a sullen-looking man strode into the room.

“Excuse me for interrupting,” the principal said. The man looked around the room, spotted Chase, and crooked his finger. “Mr. McCord, would you come with me, please? Bring your backpack.”

Surprised and a little worried (being pulled out of class by the principal was rarely a good thing), Chase stuffed his books and papers into his pack, then followed the gloomy man from the room.

“What’s going on?”

“You’re not in trouble,” the principal said. “But your father’s called and excused you for the rest of the day. Someone’s coming to pick you up.”

“Really? Why?”

“Don’t really know,” the principal said, though his voice suggested he didn’t approve, whatever the reason.

The man turned down a hallway … and not the one leading to the office.

“Where are we going?”

The principal used the same brooding voice. “Apparently, you’re not being picked up by car.”

Huh?

Chase didn’t know how to process that, but heard a rumble like approaching thunder before he could respond. The noise increased, becoming so loud it began shaking the building. The principal opened a door leading outside, motioning for Chase to lead the way.

The thunderous noise was coming from the sky, and Chase looked up to see a jet aircraft approaching the school football field. Rather than streaking through the sky, the strange plane was actually slowing as it dropped toward the grass. Chase saw the engines rotate, pointing down to allow the craft to land vertically.

Ah, he thought. One of Mr. Wolff’s new toys.

Mr. Wolff—the father of Chase’s best friend Zach—was CEO of a company that built exotic airplanes. Mr. Wolff often took Zach on business trips, and Zach—in turn—sometimes invited Chase along.

“Gotta have someone to hang out with,” Zach once explained. “You know, when dad’s in meetings.”

As a result, Chase had often flown on the company’s unique airplanes, though never on one able to take off and land vertically.

Haven’t even seen one of those!

The jet kicked up wind like a hurricane—dust and leaves and frenzied bits of paper whirling across the field—then settled softly to the grass. The whine of the engines subsided as a startled gym class gawked from behind a fence.

“Zach came to get me?” Chase asked, raising his voice to be heard over the engines.

“Don’t really know,” the principal said in the same glum voice.

After a moment a clamshell door opened behind the flight deck, dropping a set of steps to the grass. Chase expected to see Zach come bounding out of the plane, but instead a tall, thin man in a white shirt appeared. The man looked around, spotted Chase, and began waving.

Chase looked up at the principal—

“Sorry ’bout this!”

—then sprinted across the grass toward the jet.

The man in the door was the pilot, a man Chase met during an adventure a few months earlier. Chase raced across the field and up the steps.

“Captain King! Hi!”

“Hello, Chase,” the pilot said, shaking Chase’s hand. “It’s good to see you again.”

“You, too.” Chase glanced past the pilot into the flight deck: the copilot—a man Chase didn’t know—was adjusting knobs and flicking switches. A skinny birdlike man sat just behind him, pecking away on a laptop. “Where’s Captain Carter?”

“On another assignment today—”

Chase had already turned away, looking back into the cabin. Eight tough-looking men in jungle-camouflage fatigues were sorting through some kind of supplies. But—

“Where’s Zach?”

“Zach’s not here,” one of the men called. He was a gruff-sounding man with a face that could have been made from an old football. He gestured to Captain King, who gave Chase a clap on the shoulder before closing the door and returning to the flight deck.

The brusque man dropped into a seat and motioned for Chase to join him.

“What’s going on?” Chase asked as the engines began spooling up.

“We’re not actually joining Zach and his father, as you probably thought,” the man said in a voice like broken gravel.

“Then where are we going?”

The man nodded toward the other men before turning back to Chase.

“This,” he said, “is a rescue mission.”

I hope you’re liking this! I’m already working on the third book to the series, and I hope you’ll take a look at Time Snap and Time Crunch!

 

Sneak Peak at the Sequel to “Time Snap!” (Part II)

People keep asking, “Is it done yet?” And for the past couple of weeks I’ve been saying, “Almost!” (Every time I finish a “final draft,” I think, Gotta go over it one more time …”)

ReverseI’m talking about “Time Crunch,” of course, which is the sequel to “Time Snap.” But I’m just about there. (The problem is that there are a lot more dinosaurs in this one, and I’m trying to keep everything accurate and factual. But if you’ve ever tried researching dinosaurs, you realize no one really knows what they’re talking about. Take T-rex, for instance. Every site you read will give you different facts regarding its size, weight, eating habits, and just when did they live? It’s hard knowing which numbers to go with.)

Anyway, I’m just double-checking a last few things, and we’ll be done. In the meantime, here’s the second part of the prologue. (If you haven’t read Part I, you might want to back up and take a look before reading on!)

PROLOGUE PART II

THE DINOSAUR stood perfectly still, but Zach could see its eyes moving, flicking back and forth like a bird’s as it searched the trees. Zach could see the animal’s nostrils, which were at the very end of the snout.

Just like a tyrannosaur’s …

Paleontologists once thought tyrannosaurs spent so much time in the water their nostrils must have been high on their heads, enabling them to breathe. But Zach knew from experience that a tyrannosaur’s nostrils were at the end of its snout, further evidence of its ability to sniff out prey.

So this thing might be able to do the same thing, he thought grimly. It does, and

There was a sound like distant thunder, and Zach glanced up before realizing: That’s not thunder! That’s a growl! The thing’s growling! What—

There was a soft crunch behind his tree, the sound of something stepping on a dry stick.

Zach’s stomach dropped.

Oh, crap!

He kicked himself, realizing he’d been so focused upon the shoulder-slashed animal that he’d let the other one—the one he’d been running from—sneak up behind him.

Can’t believe I’m so stupid! he thought glumly. He scrunched even closer to the tree, trying to make himself as small as possible. There was a heavy chuff and—

I can hear it breathing! It’s so close I can actually hear it breathing! And—

—he became aware of a foul, sickly odor like rotting garbage.

Holy crap! I can actually smell it!

He tried easing beneath a heavy fern, praying the animals wouldn’t spot him, but knowing they didn’t actually have to see him. If they could smell even half as well as tyrannosaurs, he didn’t have a chance.

THE DINOSAUR WITH the slashed shoulder remained perfectly still, its eyes locked on a spot behind Zach. It was still growling—

But not in fear, Zach thought, breathing rapidly. But in warning

There was a rustle of leaves … not from behind, but from the side. Zach tried to look without turning his head. There was a crack—and a crunch—and a third dinosaur stepped from the trees. The animal had a black nose and jagged, snaggled teeth.

Snaggle Tooth abruptly lowered its head and bellowed.

Zach cringed beneath the fern, clamping his hands over his ears. The first dinosaur—Slash—snapped around and roared in reply. A second later the unseen dinosaur roared, then stepped past the tree, an enormous red, three-toed foot crushing plants and ferns just inches from Zach’s hiding place.

Zach clenched his fists—fighting not to react—as he gawked through the leaves. Snaggle Tooth had taken another step, showing rows of crooked yellow teeth as it snapped its head back and forth. It roared defiantly, then abruptly raced forward. Zach felt the ground shake as the enormous dinosaur rushed through the brush toward him.

Zach screamed—

Aaaaaaiighhh!”

unable to stop himself. It was pure reflex, but it didn’t matter. The red dinosaur roared, then charged forward. The animal was the color of dried blood, and Zach gaped, amazed at its speed.

The dinosaurs slammed together. Snaggle Tooth buckled under the impact and Big Red was instantly upon it. Red clamped down on Snaggle Tooth’s shoulder, sinking its teeth deep into the flesh. It shook its head, trying to rip through the tough muscle.

Snaggle Tooth roared in fury. It twisted away, lashing out with a clawed foot that ripped Red across the belly, shooting a spray of hot blood into the air—

There was a terrible roar—a shriek like a rusty saw biting into rocks—and Slash tore into the clash, snapping at Red’s neck, then slashing at Snaggle Tooth with a powerful clawed foot.

Zach was staggered by the violence of the fight, and he shrank back in the brush. The raging animals were just thirty feet away—a writhing mass of twisting, surging bodies—flinging broken branches, torn foliage, and uprooted shrubs into the air as they battled.

Zach began to wheeze, but couldn’t tear his eyes from the struggle; couldn’t believe animals could fight with such savagery.

Slash abruptly lost its footing and fell, but was instantly up again. It crouched, ready to leap back into the fight, but the other two were tangled together in a vicious tangle of snarling, slashing rage. In their fury they collided with the leaping dinosaur. Slash was thrown backward toward Zach, legs and forearms clawing at the air.

Zach curled into a ball, certain he was about to crushed, but the dinosaur caught itself and leaped back to its feet. It spun around, its powerful tail whipping through the brush and striking Zach across the shoulder.

“Oof!”

It was like being hit by a speeding truck.

Zach flew through the brush—arms and legs flapping uselessly—and landed hard on the opposite shoulder. The impact drove the breath from his lungs in a painful whoosh. He rolled over, shook his head clear, then looked up just as another tail snapped toward him. He ducked, then rolled away as Red crashed onto its side, exactly where Zach had been a split-second earlier.

“Ah!”

Zach began army-crawling like a four-legged centipede, but Snaggle Tooth and Slash were suddenly in front of him, a crazed, horrible ball of snapping jaws and slashing claws—

Zach spun around, but Red blocked the way as it again barreled into the clash. Zach screamed as a massive foot crunched down on his leg—

Aaaaaaiighhh!”

mashing it hard into the dirt as the animal rushed past.

Zach screwed his eyes shut in agony, then wrenched them open again. Hot tears stung his eyes, from both the pain and the terror.

There was a rotting log just ahead, and Zach scudded toward it, dragging his injured leg. The dinosaurs seemed to be all around him—first over him, then to the left, then to the right—and there was nowhere to go. He flattened himself beside the log just as one of the animals crashed to the ground, the log keeping it from mashing Zach into jelly.

Zach struggled to breathe as the fight raged on. A heavy foot crashed over the log, a curved claw catching Zach across his injured leg, but was just as quickly gone again. Zach fought the urge to curl into a ball, forcing himself to lay flat alongside the log, knowing it was the only thing keeping him from being crushed. It was—

One of the dinosaurs abruptly slammed to the ground, directly on top of the log, smashing Zach’s face into the dirt.

“Geghhhh!”

Zach tried to breathe, but the dinosaur was crushing him, squashing his lungs. He could feel the animal’s hot, rough skin against his arms and neck, felt something wet soaking into his shirt.

There was a horrendous roar as the dinosaur twisted—

“Geghhhh—”

—grinding Zach even deeper into the dirt. The dinosaur lurched—

Geghhhh!

—and was back on its feet. With a terrible shriek it charged the others, kicking Zach’s log as it leaped.

Zach gasped for breath. Crushed by the weight of the dinosaur, his ribs burned like fire, hurt so bad he was certain one or more of them was broken.

He coughed—thought he tasted blood—then gathered his strength and crawled through the crushed, mangled ferns toward a nearby tree. He hurt everywhere, certain he was suffering injuries worse than strains, sprains, and bruises.

He dragged himself behind the tree, breathing hard. His shirt was wet, and sticky, and when he touched it his hand came away red with blood. He cringed, but thought: No, it’s not me … it’s from one of the dinosaurs!

The fight was still raging fiercely in the trees, just feet away. The animals were roaring, bellowing, screeching, snorting—

Zach had never heard such horrible sounds, prayed that he never would again. He glanced back around the tree just as Red bit down on the back of Slash’s neck, then buckled as Snaggle Tooth rammed in from the side, folding the crimson dinosaur like a soggy taco.

Zach turned back for the forest, away from the fight. He took another breath, then staggered away, keeping the tree between him and the raging dinosaurs.

Finally, when he was well out of sight, he tried hobbling a little faster. He was beaten up, banged up, bruised, battered, torn, and crushed, feeling like he’d been run over by a freight train.

Man, he thought as he dragged his injured leg through the brush. This isn’t fun anymore

 

So there you go! I hope you’re as excited as I am! Watch for “Time Crunch” around the end of May, 2019!

Sneak Peak at the Sequel to “Time Snap!” (Part I)

Wow! I’ve just finished the sequel to “Time Snap!” It’s called “Time Crunch.” It’ll be available by the end of May, and I’m super excited about it! Here’s an excerpt from the prologue:

 

Depositphotos_11147084_xl-2015

FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD Zach Wolff stopped on the trail and looked back over his shoulder. Sweat ran down his face as he chuffed for breath.

Man, he thought, wiping a sleeve across his forehead. It’s like I can’t breathe here.

He sucked in a deep, lung-filling breath, but the air made his head swim: it clearly had more oxygen than he was used to breathing.

He buried his face in his shoulder—trying to mop off the sweat—then looked quickly all around. The forest was too thick to see much, the trees too tall to permit much sunlight. The shrieks, cackles, and cries of birds and small forest animals filled the warm air like a chorus of anxious monkeys. And there was a … scent … in the air that reminded Zach of a warm, humid greenhouse.

Filled with must, and mold, and decay

Zach closed his eyes—

There was a sudden snap from the trees, and Zach felt his stomach drop as he looked back over his shoulder.

Crap! It’s still coming!

He turned and began running again. The trail was narrow, and the roots and limbs of tangled ferns and shrubs tugged at his legs. He wasn’t running as hard as he could—

Can’t afford to get tired!

—but just fast enough to keep his lead.

The trail abruptly spilled from the forest onto a wide swath that cut through the forest like a meandering road. Rotting stumps and logs lay everywhere, and Zach knew instantly what he’d found.

Dinosaur highway, he thought. Made by animals big enough to knock down fifty-foot trees.

He looked up and down the “road,” trying to decide which way to go. It didn’t really matter, but—

Another crunch came from the trees, and Zach turned right, jogging down the side of the crumbly swath. The ground had been pulped and pounded, chopped up, chewed up, and crushed again and again by the feet of enormous animals.

Makes sense, he thought. An apatosaur could smash its way through the middle of the forest. But why bother when there’s a perfectly good trail to follow

 

IN ADDITION to the rotting stumps and logs were enormous piles of excrement—dinosaur dung—some as tall as he was. Many of the moldering piles were old, black, and crumbling. But others were still fresh: green and fragrant and buzzing with flies. Zach ignored them, hoping the ripe smell would mask his scent. But rank as the putrefying dung was, Zach knew it might not be enough.

Tyrannosaurs have good noses, he thought. The part of their brain that regulated the ability to smell was larger than those of other predators. Zach knew, of course, that just because tyrannosaurs could track prey like hounds after squirrels didn’t mean all big carnivores could.

But it didn’t mean they couldn’t, either.

 

HE JOGGED ANOTHER fifty yards, cast a quick glance over his shoulder—

Good! Nothing there yet!

—then darted off the swath and back into the forest.

The trees were the strangest he’d ever seen. There were pine trees, of course, fifty or sixty feet high with trunks five feet across. And there were gnarled, moss- and vine-covered trees that filled the sky with their branches. Shafts of sunlight filtered down through the leaves and fronds like bright spiderwebs, illuminating a million different shades of green.

Zach ran for another minute, then slowed to climb over a fallen log. He stepped behind one of the thick, gnarled trees, looked back into the forest, then leaned back against the mossy trunk.

Man, can’t run much farther, he thought. He took a deep breath of the warm, fragrant air and felt another rush of dizziness. His sides were beginning to ache, and he knew he couldn’t go on much longer.

He closed his eyes for a moment, giving his heart a chance to relax a little. He only  needed to rest for a minute—just long enough to catch his breath—before he began running again. He stifled a cough, then looked up into the treetops.

Something

The forest was suddenly quiet. The birds, the bugs, and the small forest animals had become silent. The stillness was eerie, and Zach felt the hair on the back of his neck rise as if charged by an electric current. He glanced around the tree—

Still nothing there.

—then looked ahead.

Time to go

He took another breath, then pushed himself away from the tree and froze.

Something moved in the forest ahead.

Zach caught his breath, then slowly bent his knees, lowering himself to the ground. He kept perfectly still, his eyes locked on the dense foliage. Several seconds passed. Then several more. Zach could feel his heart pounding, his lungs burning as he held his breath.

Everything was still, and quiet.

Zach watched carefully. He was just beginning to think it had been his imagination—or maybe a frond swaying in a breath of unfelt breeze—when the leaves rustled. He pressed himself back against the trunk of the tree, scrunching down as far as he could.

And then he saw it.

The dinosaur emerged slowly from the trees, its head down and its eyes peering straight ahead.

It looks like a tyrannosaur, Zach thought, though he knew it wasn’t. Tyrannosaurs were Cretaceous animals and wouldn’t exist for another sixty million years.

But it’s not an allosaur, either. It’s too big. It’s got a longer snout and it’s … stockier … than an allosaur.

He shrank back into the ferns, watching. Allosaurs were supposed to be among the fiercest predators of the Mid Mesozoic. But this was more than forty-feet long, sixteen-feet high at the ribs: bigger than any allosaur, larger even than T-rex. It was covered with pebbled, mottled-grey skin that blended with the foliage, ugly jagged scars running across its jaw and shoulder.

Zach racked his brain, thinking of every picture he’d ever seen—every description he’d ever read—trying to decide what the thing was.

Could be a siats, he thought, pronouncing the name “see-atch” in his mind. Siats was a recently discovered predator thought to be bigger and more terrifying than T-rex. Or maybe it’s a lythronax … the “King of Gore.”

Zach shuddered, not excited about either possibility. A dinosaur more ferocious than T-rex?

A dinosaur known as the King of Gore?

Running into either one would be bad news.

But it might be something new, he thought. Something undiscovered … something no one’s ever seen!

He knew paleontologists had only identified a fraction of the dinosaurs that once ruled the world. And there were literally thousands—millions—of species yet to be discovered.

So if it is something new, I could name it, he thought. Call it … Zachiosaurus.

The enormous dinosaur stood with its massive head and tail stretched parallel to the ground. After a moment it turned, looking in Zach’s direction. Zach’s blood froze as he stared back, praying the thing hadn’t spotted him. His stomach churned in fear.

They might not name it after me because I discovered it, but because I was the first person to be eaten by one . . .

 

I hope you’re as excited as I am! I’ll post Part II of the “sneak peak” in a couple of day!

Shredder

ebook coverShredder” has a new cover, and I’m totally jazzed over it!

A lot of times I can’t put a finger on the exact moment or circumstances that inspired a new book. But this is one where I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the idea hit.

I’ve been skiing since I was in high school (both downhill and cross country), and I took up snowboarding in the early 90s. My first time was at night, with a kid named Steve who’d had exactly one lesson. (He was going to be my teacher.)

What a miserable way to learn to ride!

I had my skis in the back of my truck (just in case) and the whole way down the mountain I was thinking, “Soon as I’m down, I’m gonna chuck this board as far as I can throw it and get my skis!” Man, it was just terrible! I couldn’t do a thing, and I was spending more time on my rear end–or my face–than I was on my board.

It took more than an hour to get down the hill, but by the time I did I was finally able to stay upright for more than a couple of feet. That improved my attitude, and I thought, “Okay . . . I’ll give it one more try!”

Well, things got a lot easier after that. And if you’ve ever ridden, you know that it’s actually easier to learn than skiing. After one season, most riders can shred better than skiers who’ve been at it for two or three years. And I was hooked! There was a time my first season when I went riding every single night for more than a week. There’s a resort called Brighton that offers inexpensive night passes, and I’d load my gear up every morning, go to work, and then head straight to Brighton as soon as I was done for the day.

And it was just awesome.

Brighton has a chair called Majestic (it was a two-rider lift at the time, maybe it still is) that went right over a terrain park. You could ride and be entertained by all the people crashing and going yard sale. Anyway, one night I was riding Majestic over the park, watching all the daredevils risking life and limb and it hit me: I wanted to write a book.

More specifically, I pictured a teenager boarder riding the lift, and having a tough, heart-felt conversation with someone older. I wondered what could have prompted such a conversation . . . and I was off and running.

A bit of trivia I’ve never shared before, not with anyone. Most of my books have a “theme song.” Some song that reminds me of the story, and that motivates me when I’m working. The theme song to “Shredder” is “Shakedown” by Bob Seger. (Long story.) Total coincidence, but just as I was finishing this post, “Shakedown” came on.

‘Course, I had to crank up the volume, and was instantly transported back to the slopes . . .

Virus!

Skimonster1117_ebookMy book “Virus!” came out about a month ago, so I’m a little late getting this posted. But what a kick! If I ever wrote a book that was “pure adrenaline,” this is it.

When I began writing, I remember thinking, “I’ve got to start this story at ninety miles and hour . . . and keep getting faster!” You’ll have to decide for yourself how well I did, but I know there were nights I couldn’t get to sleep because I was so hyped up over what I was writing. (One young reader told me that he’d read the whole thing in about two days, and that when he was finished he “chuffing for breath,” as if he’d been the one doing all the running.)

Made me laugh.

I do have to make special mention of a few key characters. “Brady” was inspired by a young man I know, and so were “Sid” and “Ethan.” (I’ve actually been trying to work Ethan into a book for quite a while, and I’m glad he finally made an appearance.)

And Hunter . . . oh, man. If you ever met the young woman who inspired Hunter, you’d think I actually toned her down quite a bit. I used to joke that when she became older, that no young man would ever propose marriage to her. That instead, she’d simply inform some lucky guy one day that they were going to be married, and that was that.

I’m not sure if things actually worked out that way, but I have my suspicions . . .

I hope this book is as fun to read as it was to write!

Time Snap Interview

After reading Time Snap, an eighth-grade reader named Max interviewed me for his English class. Here is part of our conversation:

Max: Do you outline your stories?

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Shane: No, never. Sometimes I’ll have an idea where I want my story to go, but I like the surprise of making things up as I go. A lot of times I’m as surprised as anyone by what happens. Have you read my book, Demon’s Treasure?

Max: Oh, yeah. That’s the reason I was excited to read Time Snap.

Shane: Cool. One of the main characters started out as one of the “good guys,” and one of the “bad” guys ended up being a hero. When I started writing, I had no idea that was going to happen. And when the guys “flipped,” I remember thinking, “I can’t believe that just happened!”

Max: Did anything like that happen in Time Snap?

Shane: Not exactly. But I was surprised by  the dinosaurs that kept popping up out of nowhere. I didn’t really know I’d be writing about them until they came jumping out of the darkness.

Max: Like the “dinobirds?”

Shane: Exactly! One minute Chase was sneaking up to that clearing in the woods, and the next instant those dactyl-things were dropping out of the sky. I really didn’t know ahead of time that was going to happen. Scared the bejeebers out of me.

Max: What about the tyrannosaur?

Shane: The tyrannosaur was different. I knew he was going to play a huge part, so he was part of things right from the start.

Max: Do you have any favorite scenes?

Shane: All of the scenes with the tyrannosaur. They were so much fun to write. I love action sequences anyway, but the rex added an extra jolt of energy. I just had a great time with them.

Max: So, I’m not supposed to ask where you get your ideas–

Shane: Really? Why not?

Max: It’s supposed to be too obvious a question, I guess. Like one you get asked all the time? But I’m curious . . .

Shane: It’s okay. I actually like hiking around the desert looking for fossils, and when I’m doing that, I can’t help thinking of dinosaurs. You know, picturing what things must have been like back in the day. And then picturing what it might be like to actually run into a bunch of them. And then finding a way to make it happen . . .

Max: And you really found pieces of–what are they called? Fossilized poop?

Shane: Coprolites? Oh, yeah. I use them for paperweights.

Max: The girls are gonna think that’s gross–

Shane: But the guys will love it!

Max: Yeah. Um, so do you have any weird writing habits?

Shane: A few, I think. At least I think they’re unique to me. The first thing, probably, is that I can’t write at the computer. I have to write everything out longhand, and then type into the computer later.

Max: How come?

Shane: Probably ’cause that’s how I learned to do it. I started writing before we had word processors, so it’s still easiest for me to write everything out first. It takes a lot more work that way, but for me, it’s a tough habit to break.

Max: Anything else?

Shane: Well, I can do my editing when I’m sitting at my desk, but when I’m actually writing–when I’m actually creating stuff–I hate being cooped up. I like going to ballgames and sitting in the bleachers and doing my work there. Before I moved to the country, I often went to one of the local malls and found a table in the food court where there were a lot of people around and worked there. I don’t know why, but being around lots of people like that always sparks my creativity.

Max: Isn’t that distracting?

Shane: Sure. But it’s also energizing. I can come home from the mall, or a ballgame, and feel like I’ve got a lot done. But when I’m cooped up at my desk, I get bored, and tired, and it’s easy to get lazy.

Max: So is there going to be a sequel to Time Snap?

Shane: There wasn’t going to be. But I’ve been surprised by how much people like reading about dinosaurs. I actually had another project I’ve been getting ready to jump into, but I might put that off and do another dinosaur book.

Max: Sweet! Will you tell me when it comes out?

Shane: Count on it!

Time Snap

My new book “Time Snap” just came out and I couldn’t be more excited about it. (And I can’t get enough of that cover!) I ran into some problems with the actual publishing (the fact that I just had shoulder surgery and have to do all my work one-handed hasn’t helped), but now that the wrinkles have been ironed out, I thought you might like to see an excerpt:

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CHASE’S KNEES SAGGED like they’d turned to Jell-O. As the lightning died away the outline of the big rex melted again into the darkness. But looking up, Chase imagined he could still see the dull gleam of the animal’s enormous yellow teeth.

The rex growled as if thinking, I’ve got you now!

Chase felt fear squeeze his heart like an icy hand. He knew they only had one chance to get away, and that there was no room for mistakes.

“Klorel, Zach … run!”

They didn’t need to be told twice. The next instant Klorel and Zach were sprinting through the trees with Chase hot on their heels. The big rex bellowed … angrily? Hungrily? Chase couldn’t tell—didn’t care—as he raced after his friends.

Klorel tripped on a root and fell flat on her face. Not missing a beat—as smoothly as if they’d practiced it a thousand times—Chase and Zach reached down as they passed, grabbed her by the arms, and pulled her to her feet.

They still had a chance to escape. But Zach suddenly became tangled in the roots and fell hard enough the air gushed from his lungs in a loud hooff! Chase turned to help just as the rex burst from the trees. The tyrannosaur lunged and Zach rolled away just as a massive foot thumped into the mud, exactly where he’d been a second earlier.

“Zach!”

Chase cringed and darted to the side as the tyrannosaur bellowed. The rex whipped around as if searching for its prey and Chase saw the great tail swinging toward him. He ducked just as the tail lashed the air, felt a whoosh! as it passed over him.

The tyrannosaur darted forward and snapped at something in the brush, the huge jaws slamming together with a crack like a gunshot. There was a wet crunch

Chase felt his stomach heave, knowing Klorel had been in that direction.

—and the great head rose over the trees, leafy limbs and branches dangling from its jaws.

Outraged at having missed its prey, the rex turned and lunged again. Chase dove aside as a massive foot came crashing down, just missing him. He scrambled to his feet then instantly ducked again as the tail whipped by over his head.

The tyrannosaur obviously knew Chase—or someone, or several someones—was there, hidden in the brush. But in the rain and the darkness and the thickness of the brush, it didn’t know exactly where.

The rex bellowed, stamping a foot into the mud so hard it shook the ground. Mud flew through the air and splattered Chase like a school bus splashing through a puddle.

The tyrannosaur wheeled around and snapped at the brush. Chase had lost track of Zach and Klorel—didn’t know which way they’d gone—but couldn’t help thinking they were right there, beneath the rex. He reeled back, hot bile rising in his throat, certain the rex had gotten one of them.

The dinosaur crunched down again—the huge jaws cracking together—then whipped its head back and forth, shredding its prize into pieces. Chase saw leaves and branches flying from its mouth, but the rex didn’t seem to realize it had missed the real treat. It shook its head and stamped the mud, then abruptly wheeled around again. Chase dropped and rolled to avoid a clawed-foot, then instantly had to roll the other way to miss the other one. The tyrannosaur was thrashing around like it was covered with biting ants, and Chase was right beneath it, scrambling back and forth and trying to avoid being mashed into the mud.

A great foot crashed down and part of a massive claw caught Chase across the leg, pinning him to the ground. Chase cried out in pain, but the claw moved and Chase wiggled free, the dinosaur not knowing he was right there. Chase army-crawled through the mud, realizing he wasn’t just in danger from the terrible teeth and jaws. He was just as likely to be squashed flat by a massive foot or batted into outer space by the whipping tail.

He reached the trees and scrambled to his feet, wanting to run, but was afraid the rex would see him. He knew his best bet was to stay out of the dinosaur’s line of sight while trying to avoid being trampled, batted, beaten, or eaten.

The rex lunged at something in the brush, and Chase darted behind the trunk of a thick tree. He watched the dinosaur stomp back and forth for another moment, then took a step back from the clearing. And then another.

Finally, when he was sure he was out of sight, he turned and ran deeper into the trees. He ran for several minutes, then turned and angled in the direction of the jet. He hoped Zach and Klorel—if they’d gotten away—would be doing the same.

He could still hear the tyrannosaur thrashing about in the trees. But the animal didn’t seem as enraged as it had been before.

As if accepting that—for now—its prey had escaped.

Crazy, disturbing thoughts raced through Chase’s mind as he slogged through the trees.

A million different animals to choose from, and it finds us again, Chase thought. He

winced as a wet branch whipped across his face. It’s almost like it’s looking for us. Like it’s tracking us. But how?

Some kind of wild dinovision?   

Extrasmellory perception?

Rogue reptilian radar?

What?

A strange thought began tickling the back of his brain. He sensed the big rex wasn’t just looking for a quick snack. It seemed more like a dog chasing a ball while the kids played keep-away.

Huh.

 

Outtabounds (2)

Ebook CoverBecause this is the first adult novel I’ve published in several years, the people asking questions about it are several years older than those I usually work with. And I’ve included an excerpt from the prologue to give readers a taste of what this one’s all about:

Prologue

Twenty-three years earlier . . .

TEN-YEAR-OLD Jeffrey Christopher crouched over his skis as he raced down the snowy hillside. A bump appeared on the side of the trail and he shot toward it, tucking his poles beneath his arms like an Olympic racer. He waited until the last instant, then pushed up with his knees and popped into the air, whooping with excitement. He landed in an explosion of snow, zigged and zagged to slow himself, then turned his skis and braked to a stop.

He turned and looked uphill.

“C’mon, Dad, hit it!” he shouted. “Hit it!”

James Christopher knew he’d be taking the jump the moment he saw Jeffrey heading for it. The boy loved watching his father fly through the air as much as he loved being airborne himself. James wasn’t really  interested in bumps and jumps anymore–growing old sometimes did that to a man–but risking life and limb (and watching his father do the same) seemed hard-wired into his son’s DNA. It made the boy smile. And that was all the reason James Christopher needed to take the jump.

He was Jeffrey’s hero and he knew it. Jeffrey once told a friend his dad was “the best skier in the world!” After that, James would have taken an Olympic ski jump blindfolded rather than disappoint his son.

He bent his knees as he made his approach, then hopped and popped into the air. He splayed his arms and legs–a classic spread-eagle–and landed cleanly. He braked hard, spraying Jeffrey with an icy shower of fresh, frosty, sparkling powder.

“Yes” Jeffrey exclaimed, grinning from ear to ear. “That was great!”

James smiled. He looked back up the hill for a moment, then turned back to his son. “So where do you want to go?”

“Loose Moose!” Jeffrey said without hesitation.

“Sounds good,” James agreed. “Let’s go.”

James took a moment to catch his breath as Jeffrey planted his poles and pushed off. He knew before asking that they’d be hitting Loose Moose. It was their signature run. Narrow monkey trails snaked through the pine forest on both sides of the creamy corduroy, and father and son both enjoyed darting between the trees, ducking beneath snow-laden branches, hopping fallen logs, and slicing through piles of loose powder before blazing back onto the groomed run again.

James breathed deeply–the air seemed unusually thin this morning–as he followed Jeffrey down the slope. Whenever they skied together, James insisted on Jeffrey taking the lead. He enjoyed watching the little firecracker, for one thing. But he also preferred being uphill in case the boy took a spill. It was much simpler to reach him that way than if–

James gasped, abruptly overcome by a wave of nausea and dizziness. He wedged his skis to slow himself, suddenly confused and out of breath. His chest began to burn, felt as if it were being crushed. He braked to a stop and bent over his skis as he tried to catch his breath. His head swam. His ears rang and his chest flamed. He could feel his heart pounding.

He had no way of knowing it, but an aneurysm–a weak spot in the aorta below his kidneys–had burst and begun spilling blood into his abdomen. The result of a genetic defect, the aneurysm had gone undetected for years. But now–weakened by a recent infection and aggravated by the stress of hard skiing–it had given way.

His heart began pumping faster to compensate for the diminishing volume of blood. The extra fluid in his abdomen created pressure against adjacent veins and arteries, further slowing the circulation of blood and depriving his body of oxygen.

Searing pain slashed through Christopher’s chest and he fell to the snow, gasping and clutching at his coat.

Jeffrey turned to look back uphill just as his father collapsed.

“Dad!”

The boy slammed to a stop, popped off his skis, and struggled to run back up the slope. He sank to the top of his ski boots with every stop in the soft snow but didn’t quit. He clawed his way up the hill with all the speed he could muster.

“Dad!”

By the time Jeffrey reached him, his father was unconscious.

“Dad!”

Confused and frightened, Jeffrey shook his father, then shook him again, desperately trying to wake him. There was a shushing sound and he looked up to see a skier slicing down the hill. The boy stood and frantically waved down the passing skier.

“There’s something wrong with my dad!” the boy cried as tears coursed down his cheeks. “Please, you’ve got to help him!”

The skier took one look at the man lying crumpled on the snow. He could see blood trickling from the corners of the man’s mouth and knew the situation was more serious than a broken leg or a sprained ankle. Certainly beyond any help he could offer. He knew he could stop … but he didn’t know first aid.

But he knew where to find someone who did.

“Stay here,” he said. “I’ll get the ski patrol.”

Before the boy could respond the skier planted his poles and shot down the hill, relieved to have a task he could handle.

Jeffrey knelt beside his father feeling lost and alone and more frightened than he’d ever been in his young life.

Hot tears seared his eyes.

“Dad,” he whispered between sobs. “Oh, Dad …”

 

So that’s the first half of the prologue. (I hope it grabbed your attention!)

Moon Lake Adventure

Boy sCOUTI was recently invited to speak to the 11-year-old Boy Scouts from Altamont, Utah, at their yearly overnighter at spooky Moon Lake in the High Uintah Mountains. Last year I gave a funny talk about scuba diving, and even though this was an entirely new batch of kids, I decided that this year I’d tell them some funny flying stories.

Once I got there, though, and started meeting the boys, I realized I’d prepared the wrong talk. I had to change things on the fly, and started out by telling them about my trip to the doctor that morning, pretty much ad libbing the whole thing. This is how it went . . .

“Wow, I’m jazzed to be here again. I have to apologize because I’ve been limping around all afternoon, and I know some of you are curious about what’s wrong. You see, something really weird happened to me this morning, and I normally wouldn’t talk about it, but I figure we’re all friends and you won’t judge me too harshly.

“I had to go to the doctor, and he’s a nice guy but he told me that he needed to give me a couple of shots. He stepped out and talked with his nurse for a minute, and a few minutes later she came in carrying two syringes. And they were HUGE! When I first saw them I thought they were bazookas. They were so big she wasn’t carrying one in each hand, but she had her arms curled in front of her and was carrying them like chunks of firewood.

“I looked at the doctor and said, ‘Dude . . . you gonna hunt deer with those things?’ And without looking up from his papers he said, ‘No, these are for you.’ I just shook my head and said, ‘I’m not on fire, man, if you’re thinking of using them to hose me down!’

“He just gave me a sour quit’cher-whining look, so I just sighed and started rolling up the sleeve of my shirt.

“Now, have you guys ever seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And you remember how the Grinch–when he decides how he’s going to ruin Christmas for all the Whos in Whoville–he gets this evil grin that just curls around his face? Well, the doctor started grinning at me and he got the same evil grin and he said, ‘Dude . . . these aren’t going in your arm . . .”

“Oh, man! I couldn’t believe it! And I’ll skip what happened next (except for telling you the nurse said all the neighborhood dogs started howling when I screamed), but then I sat down–carefully–while the doctor wrote me a prescription. So then I was finished, but when I stood up to leave, I tripped and fell flat on my face. One of the shots had put my leg to sleep–completely to sleep!–just like the shots do that you get at the dentist. You know how your mouth goes funny and you can’t feel anything and you talk funny for a couple of hours? Well, that’s what happened to my leg. And even though I got the shot at, like ten this morning, my leg’s still asleep. And I’ve been really worried about it because I know later we’re all going on a night hike, and I know there are a lot of bears around here, and if one starts chasing us, I’ve only got one good leg to run on and you know the bear’s gonna come after me, right? Yeah, everyone’ll start running and I’ll be hobbling along and he’s gonna be thinking, ‘Get the slow guy! Get the slow guy!’ ”

Well, by now the kids were all howling, and I was having a great time too. I never gave a single word from the talk I’d written, but was sooooo glad I decided to go off script. I told them a few of my favorite funny bear stories, like the one where a fisherman’s standing in the middle of a river . . . well, I’ll save that for another time.

The point is that it’s times and experiences like this that makes being a writer so much fun. (I’m almost willing to go back to Doctor Deadleg just to get some new material!)