Category Archives: Books

Lightning: An Illustrated Guide Available on Kindle!

My new book, Lightning: An Illustrated Guide is now available in the kindle store!

See the cover a few pixels below this sentence!

color-cover-small

There are so many kinds of lightning out there in the world, this book is your exhaustive guide to recognizing lightning by situation and appearance.

Much in the same way that a bird watching book doesn’t contain advice on surviving a bird attack, this book does not contain any information on lightning safety.

Buy the book in the kindle store now! You can also borrow it for free with Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited!

Heist

(from DUOS by Erik J Skinner ©2009)
Ski masks?
“Check.”
Rope?
“Check.”
Glass cutter?
“Check.”
Walkie talkies?
“Check.”
Custard pie?
“What?”
Custard pie. I put it on the list.
“No you didn’t”
Yes I did, right after orange juice.
“What orange juice?”
Shoot… I added it to the wrong list…
“What do we need custard pie for? We’re robbing a bank.”
It’s my calling card, Darrel. I can’t pull off a heist without leaving my trademark custard pie booby trap in the vault.
“I didn’t know you did that.”
I do. Then they read the note that says, ‘Looks like you got pie on your face.’ Jesus Darrel, do you even read the itineraries I put together?
“Not really. I usually just sit in the van, so…”
If you’re ever going to advance in this business beyond being the ‘sit-in-the-van’ guy, you have to start being more involved in these heists.
“I kind of like being the ‘sit-in-the-van’ guy.”
I am astonished. Astonished and offended. Where’s your passion? I remember the look in your eyes that first time I came back through those un­marked van doors carrying armfuls of money bags. It was like a child seeing fireworks for the first time. Where has the magic gone, Darrel? Where has it gone?
“I just like sitting in the van.”
Fine, let all your potential just slip away. I’m going in there, but I’m not going to enjoy it. You’ve broken my heart Darrel.
“What about the pie?”
Oh damn, that’s right, the pie. Is there a grocery store around here?
“Couple blocks back. I think they’re closed though.”
Nonsense, grocery stores are open 24 hours these days!
“Fine, we’ll go take a look.”
That’s it, get back into it! We’re making it happen! Look at us go! Exciting, eh?
“It’s closed.”
Shoot. Guess we should just call it a night then. Let’s go home.
“You think Mom will have hot chocolate ready for us?”
Oh that would be bliss, just bliss… damn it, hot chocolate was on the wrong list too.

PSW Opening Scene

The following is the opening of my started but quickly abandoned novel for  NaNoWriMo 2012 which I will refer to as ‘PSW’. This is still in draft form so I welcome feedback of any kind. Except proofreading, that’s annoying. I guess proofread if you can’t help yourself. I’ll just be a bit annoyed by it.

Captain John Burtford wiped the sweat from his brow. This was going to be a rough landing.
He tapped the talk button on his intercom. “This is going to be a rough landing,” he said. He looked over to his co-pilot, Dante Reed.
“I told you we should have made the repairs before entering the atmosphere.” Dante said.
“Your told you so’s do us a hell of a lot of good now! Save them for after we set this bird down. Do you see a suitable crash, er, landing zone?”
“There looks to be a clearing about 50 kilometers to the north.”
“Give me a bearing, damn it!”
Dante quickly scanned his instruments and jotted down some calculations on his note pad. “Seven point five degrees.”
“Hold on tight!” Burtford gripped the controls and pulled hard right. He ignored the clattering of equipment bouncing around behind them as the ship quickly lost altitude. “This is going to be a rough landing.”
“You already said that.”
The clattering of loose equipment grew deafening. Burtford couldn’t help but think there should be a mandatory procedure for all crew members to strap down their instruments when not in use so there would be less clattering in the future. Someone is likely to lose an eye to a rogue pen, or god forbid a scissor. He reached up and slid his goggles over his eyes.
“Good idea,” Dante said. “Should I make an announcement?”
“Sure, go ahead. The faintest level of safety might increase morale at this point.”
Dante tapped the talk button on the intercom, “Attention crew, it is highly advised that you wear your flight goggles for impa– er, landing. For your safety.”
“For our safety!” the muffled chant of the crew came through the closed cockpit door.
“We need a new chant,” Burtford said.
The clearing Dante identified came into view on the horizon. “I think that’s it,” Dante said.
“Good lord, it’s a field of ice!” There was no way to know what laid below the ice, at least not without some kind of scouting excursion. “There’s no time, we’ll have to take our chances.”
The ice could be a thin layer on top of a deep acidic lake capable of spawning primitive life with the slightest push from an electric discharge. On the other hand the ice could be hundreds of kilometers thick providing sufficient enough resistance to significantly crumple a large portion of the ship’s body upon impact. Burtford was hoping for somewhere in the middle.
Dante had an idea. He flipped open the cover of the controls for their defensive laser array.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“You’ll see.” Dante aimed the crosshairs at the projected impact point and activated the lasers. A moment later a tight grouping of lime green beams of light shot out from the top of the ship, focused directly in front of them.
“Ah ha, brilliant idea! A water landing I can deal with. Divert 50% of our power to the laser array and the other 50% to the reverse thrusters.”
Dante slid a few levers as he kept the laser array on target.
“Hey, we can’t see in here!” A voice rang out from beyond the cockpit door.
“Oh. Reroute 1% back to the crew’s light fixtures.
Dante tapped one of the years just barely.
“Thank you!” said the voice.
Burtford tapped the talk button again, “Don’t thank me yet.”
The field of ice was quickly becoming a beautiful blue lake at the center of a quickly diminishing glacier. The ice around and beneath the water began to crack and break apart.
“Hold on, what’s happening there?” Burtford asked.
Dante released the trigger for the laser array and leaned forward to get a closer look. The ice began to swell upward as if something was rising from beneath. “Is the ground moving?”
The cracks widened as the ground rose further, the recently melted water rushed into the depths created by the broken ground, steam began to pour out. “I’m… I’m pretty sure the lasers didn’t do that.”
“Reroute all the energy back to the main engines, now!” Dante frantically slid the levers.
“Hey, we can’t see again!”
Dante bumped a lever ever so slightly.
“Thank you!”
The main engines rumbled as Burtford attempted to keep the ship aloft and away from whatever was emerging from beneath the previously icy plain. It was too late, a gigantic geyser erupted beneath them sending the ship into a tail spin. The clattering was louder than ever. Most of the crew blacked out before the ship finally hit the ground.

Duos Trilogy – Light Bulb

The following is an excerpt from my book Duos Trilogy and originally appeared in the book Duos. You can purchase a copy in paperback and for kindle here. Copyright 2008.

light bulb

Cause of death?”

Ha ha. Very funny. I’m not dead.

Kay, let’s just pull up your file… here it is. Oh, that’s brutal, eh?”

What?

Looks like you fell off the toilet.”

That’s ridiculous. How could someone even die from that?

You were standing on the can to change a light bulb, lost your balance and… Here we are.”

That’s the best you could come up with? If that’s how I died, prove it.

What are you talkin’ aboot, you’re standin’ at Heaven’s gates, eh? What more proof do you need?”

I’ve never been dead before. How do I know this is what it’s like?

Good point. Gimme a coupla minutes, I’ll see what I can do.”

The guys really went all out. How’d they get these clouds in here… Must be one Hell of a fog machine.

Well, it’s unprecedented, but He approved it.”

Sure, whatever.

You really don’t believe me, do you?”

Not for a second. Let’s see the proof.

Alright. Um… this might hurt.”

What might OOWWW!

I tried to warn you, eh?”

Wow, I’m in my house. Impressive. Really.

No need to get snarky. Go to the bathroom.”

No thanks, I’m good.

Not to whizz, ya goof. To see that you’re dead.”

I don’t know what you think I’ll see… Is that supposed to be me?

Dead as a doornail.”

Nope, that’s gotta be one of those rubber love dolls or something.

Not enough for you, eh? Brace yourself.”

For what OOWWW!

Paramedics came when your neighbor found you. It was too late.”

Hey, don’t fall for it! You’ve got a dummy in that body bag!

They can’t hear you.”

STOP. HALT. CEASE.

They can’t see you either. Stop waving your arms around like that. It’s embarrassing, eh?”

You really got some devoted actors for this.

They’re not actors. They can’t see you because you’re dead, eh? How many times do I hafta tell you?”

This is just one big joke!

I guess there’s only one way left to convince you.”

No, just end this stupid prank and let OOWWW!

I take it you’ve been here before.”

This is the church I went to as a kid… There’s my family…

Let’s go inside, eh?”

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