Posts Tagged ‘thrillers’

My husband and I are much like the rest of today’s world. We’re technology hogs. In our house, we have a desktop computer, three laptops, three digital tablets, two e-readers, and two smart phones. We also drive a hybrid car that’s equipped with a GPS system and a satellite radio. Even our front-loading washing machine and dryer run on small-scale electric motors that utilize the latest technologies.

Every product that I’ve listed in the above paragraph relies a set of seventeen chemical elements that share certain magnetic and catalytic properties. These metals make most of today’s technology run. In Japan they’re called “the seeds of technology”. In the U.S. they’re called “Technology Metals”. Most of the world knows them as rare earth elements (REEs).

Rare Earth Elements

Rare Earth Elements

Yet, despite how important REEs are to today’s world, China has a stranglehold on the supply, with a market share of over 90%. This has bothered the rest of the world, especially since 2010, when China imposed export quotas on the elements. The World Trade Organization recently ruled that this quota was an unfair trade practice, but most international experts wonder if their ruling will have any affect on China’s monopoly.

But there is strange fact regarding rare earth elements. They’re not so rare. Experts say the trick is to find reserves that have sufficient quantities of the elements so that mining them is profitable.

Luckily, modern technology has come to the rescue, helping geologists and miners identify new areas for exploration. There are handheld geochemical analyzers that can be used right in the field, along with digital field systems for displaying that data onto maps just as soon as it is collected.

Thermo Scientific Niton XRF analyzerspinemap geology &mining systems

That’s why the August 15 announcement by the United States Geological Survey’s Afghanistan Project is so baffling. According to, “In 2006, U.S. researchers flew airborne missions to conduct magnetic, gravity and hyperspectral surveys over Afghanistan. The magnetic surveys probed for iron-bearing minerals up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) below the surface.”

No, that isn’t a misprint. By flying over Afghanistan, they were able to identify minerals that were 6 miles underground. How did they do it? According to livescience, “The hyperspectral survey looked at the spectrum of light reflected off rocks to identify the light signatures unique to each mineral.” And they found a lot of the stuff, about 1.4 million tons.

And it only took two months to map more than 70 percent of Afghanistan, a country the size of Texas. If such technology is readily available, why are today’s private geologists and miners using hand-held analyzers and digital tablets for their fieldwork?


Bold-Strokes-2014Next week, I and some fellow Bold Strokes Books Authors will be at The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division (83A Hester Street, New York, NY, 10002) On Thursday, September 4, 2014, 7:00 PM. It’s free, so drop in and say hello!

Last weekend, I had the joy of attending the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans.

Held over 4 days each Spring, the festival features panel discussions and master classes around literary topics that provide a forum for authors, editors and publishers to talk about their work for the benefit of emerging writers and the enjoyment of fans of LGBT literature.

The event lives up to its promise. I participated in on the panel: RETURN ENGAGEMENT: THE ART OF THE SEQUEL, which attempted to answer the burning questions of How much information and story does the author need to repeat with a sequel? How should characters change and evolve through an ongoing series of works? When is the story complete? And how does a writer engage readers without leaving them wanting more? Joining me were fellow Panelists Michael Thomas Ford, William Holden, Doreen Perrine, and moderator Jim Provenzano.

Me reading from my second novel, "Deadly Cult".

Me reading from my second novel, “Deadly Cult”.


SASFEST-2014-COVERAre you a saint or a sinner? I don’t know, but I’ll be at the literary festival in New Orleans next week, beginning on Thursday evening, May 15 through Sunday, May 18. On Saturday, I’ll be reading from my newest novel, Deadly Cult. On Sunday, I’ll participate on the panel Return Engagement, The Art of the Sequel. If you’re in NOLA, I hope to see you!

billy-bathgate-novel-e-l-doctorow-paperback-cover-artI developed a fascination with 1930’s gangsters after reading E. L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate. While changing a little of the history, Doctorow succeeded in showing the ragged and violent edge of the gangster Dutch Schultz. A while back I wrote a piece for Criminal Element, about Schultz, and how prohibition-era gangsters exemplify the American dream. They beat the economic system and acquired immense wealth and power. If your interested, please take a look at the article, Dutch Schultz and The American Dream.

Deadly Cult CoverI’ve got a confession. I’m gay. Okay, perhaps not a big deal today, but growing up in the 1970s it was. I also had a double-whammy. My father was a minister, which made me the preacher’s gay kid. Check out the piece I wrote for Bold Strokes Books’ Author Blog

Brooklyn-Graves-InviteAnother great blog by Triss Stein. “I have been asked before about writing routines, methods, process, schedule, and I am tempted to say, ‘What is this language you are speaking?'” she writes. “While I am a person who in real life makes lists, uses calendars, keeps addresses, labels freezer packages (and harasses my family to do likewise), my writing life only works when I lean back and let it happen. This is not the same as waiting for inspiration, though. Professionals show up ready to work.” Read the full article here.