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:

 

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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!

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

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!)