The Magic of Totality

On August 21, 2017, many people across the United States were able to view a total solar eclipse. Estimates put the number somewhere in the vicinity of 20 million. I was one of them and I wanted to share my experience.

I traveled from the East Coast to Grand Island, NE to see the eclipse from the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. They had a well-planned event, and were gracious hosts. We found an open spot near a NASA observation balloon launch site, some food trucks, a pioneer village church and a field. Having driven nearly 24 hours from home to experience 2 minutes of totality, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard stories that described how day would become night, and I wondered how many stars we might see. I will confess to being concerned that it would be a disappointment, and my family would look at me as if I were crazy for the rest of my life (even more so than they do now.)

As the eclipse started, everyone began looking at the sun using their eclipse glasses. I found that carefully combining them with sunglasses made the viewing easier. As the eclipse started, nothing changed very much other than being able to see the orange ball of the sun being partially blocked. NASA launched a balloon, which with the wind trying to catch it, seemed much more exciting.

As the minutes ticked away, the temperature dropped and the intensity of the sun diminished. Standing in the sunlight wasn’t as hot as it had been when the day began. There was still little apparent change in the light until just a few minutes before totality. At some point, the light definitely dimmed, but even more than that, colors changed. Everything became softer and more muted. Excitement filled the crowd, and most people made sure they had an optimal place to view the event. For my family, that was a couple of blankets on the grass.

We put on our glasses and watched that last fiery sliver of the sun disappear, waiting for totality. A huge cheer arose when the sun went dark, and everyone took off their glasses, looked up to the sky and gasped. I have some pictures, but what our camera didn’t exactly match what my eyes took in. So here’s what I saw, accompanied by a few photos from Grand Island, which all give part of the view.

I was able to look directly at the sun, or at least the place the sun was supposed to be. What I saw was the dark orb of the moon, surrounded by a beautiful halo of soft white wispy light. It took a moment to register, because I had never seen anything like it before, and for the first time in my life, the sun had been replaced with something else, strange, beautiful and alien.

The sky wasn’t the dark night that I had expected, but rather a deep twilight around the eclipse, drifting downward into all the shades of evening. A few planets and bright stars could be seen in the sky. The nearby bands of clouds caught a faint rainbow, but the colors were strange – muted and dim, darker and fainter shades, a shadow or echo of the ribbon after a rainstorm.

As my eyes reached the horizon (which Nebraska so generously offered), I saw the yellows and oranges of sunset, but unlike sunset, no matter which direction I turned, the colors remained in view. If looking at the sun had given me an eerie otherworldly feeling, it was only augmented by the sunset on the universal horizon.

Perhaps the most incredible feeling was seeing the joy and wonder on the faces of everyone around me. Smiles were shared between strangers and suddenly, we were all friends. Everyone was united in a sense that we were small parts of the magnificent glory of creation and the differences between us insignificant. The moment felt timeless and eternal, and I struggled to take in every instant.

If you are in the United States and can go to the total eclipse of 2024, I strongly encourage it.

If you are anywhere in the world where you have a chance to appreciate totality, please do.

This was my first total eclipse, but I don’t intend to let it be my last.

If anyone has questions, comments or pictures, please share.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you.

On May 26, The Dark Lord was an Amazon Kindle Deal of the Day. There was no prior announcement. We hoped that it meant that we would sell some extra copies. We did what we could to inform people on Twitter and Facebook. What happened by the end of the day was utterly amazing. We sold far more books than we ever imagined. We even ended up as the top book in Epic Fantasy.

#1 in Epic

That’s us at #1 in Epic Fantasy on the Kindle store.

To everyone who helped spread the word, to everyone who took a chance on us and bought a copy, thank you. It was a great day. We are both working hard on The Darker Lord, and we will be following it up with The Darkest Lord. We hope everyone who bought our novel gets some good laughs and enjoys the references.

The Disappearance of Jack Heckel

Mystery Machine

Hi everyone! This is the Harry half of Jack Heckel, and I’m writing this after speaking with John. The other day, a van pulled up and the occupants asked me why Jack Heckel had disappeared from his own website. It was at that moment that I knew we were caught. For the record, we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog.

Continue reading

Once Upon a Time with… Nancy K. Wallace!

 

nancy-k-wallaceWelcome again to Once Upon a Time with… where we interview a fellow author.

Today, we welcome Nancy K. Wallace, the author of Harper Voyager’s Fantasy series, Wolves of Llisé. Nancy was signed in the same open submission pool where we had our start, and it’s been a blast getting to know her.

Like any good fairy tale, let’s begin with Once Upon a Time. Nancy, what’s your “Once Upon a Time”?

I led a charmed childhood thanks to loving and creative parents. Our house came complete with bedtime stories, Summer Solstice Tea Parties for the fairies who lived in our woods, magical Christmas Eves, gumdrop trees, and ponies. I went to bed every night knowing my parents loved me and that tomorrow would bring some new wonderful, magical adventure! Continue reading

What is The Dark Lord?

DarkLord FINAL cover

Fear The Dark Lord!

In less than a month, the ebook of The Dark Lord will be available (November 1st to be exact!) We are very excited, but we’ve also realized that other than the cover reveal, we haven’t posted much about it. Time to start fixing that…

The Dark Lord is the first of a new series where we have fun with epic fantasy, much in the way The Charming Tales twist fairy tales in amusing ways. It’s part Lord of the Rings, part Dungeons & Dragons, a touch of World of Warcraft, a hint of Magic: The Gathering, and a wee pinch of Amber, just for good measure. Oh, and college, because what better place for fantasy than a university?

Our protagonist, Avery, is a grad student at the mystical Mysterium University (worthy of its own blog post) attempting to complete his dissertation. He wants to take the sub-world of Trelari, a dimension of lesser reality and ‘innoculate’ it from the forces of evil. In order to do so, he uses himself as a vaccine. He becomes The Dark Lord, and unites all the powers of darkness. This inspires the forces of good to unite to oppose him and allows the Heroes of the Age to assemble and ‘defeat’ him. Good triumphs over evil and all is right with the world. Avery returns home and looks forward to his graduate degree. Life is good.

Until Avery succumbs to temptation and allows an undergrad to steal Trelari’s Key to Reality. When she enters the sub-world, Avery has to follow. His only true ally is his roommate Eldrin, and without the Key to Reality, he has to unite with the heroes who opposed him when he was The Dark Lord.

It’s a more serious novel than The Charming Tales, although it’s filled with some amusing characters including a Semi-Lich and the Master of Dungeons. There are also possibly gelatinous polygons. If you ever played fantasy roleplaying games or read epic fantasy, we hope that you’ll give the novel a try. You will laugh and probably reminisce quite a bit as you catch our references.

 

Once Upon a Time with… Liana Brooks!

decoherence-1Hi everyone! Today we have a special guest, Liana Brooks, author of the Time & Shadows trilogy. She’s one of our fellow Harper Voyager Impulse authors, and her third book, DECOHERENCE, was released today (September 13, 2016) – please note the amazing cover to the left. Liana is a California native living in Alaska, and we hear she has a really big dog.

So, let’s get started. What’s your “Once Upon a Time”? Tell us about your beginning as an author. Where did you live and what inspired you to write?

Once upon a time, there was a strange, fair-haired child living just north of the Mexican border. Her family spoke Spanish, and they loved to read. They read the strange little girl books by JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. They filled her head with dragons and heroines.

Day by day, the strange little girl grew darker, and taller, and stranger. Until at last she was a dark-haired teenager living high in the Rocky Mountains, wearing flannel and a chain, and filling notebooks with stories about fiery queens who tamed dragons and spaceships. Continue reading

Copy Edits for The Dark Lord

The time has come. We’ve received the copy edits for The Dark Lord back from Harper and are doing the final review of the text before everything is set in stone for the November 1st ebook release.

Here’s how the process works. First, we send in the initial draft to our editor. She does her magic to it, and sends it back with insights, feedback and suggested changes. We take some time to review and meet her requests and return it to her. She looks over everything again and decides whether or not to send it out for copy editing. The copy editor fixes our grammar and points out any issues that we and our editor missed. We have a final opportunity to look everything over, make any final minor tweaks, and then we are done.

The last edit isn’t so bad, except that we do it in about a week and our novel is over 100,000 words long. We know what we will be doing this weekend.

More details to come, but they may come after copy edits are turned in next week. Until then, all the best!