Otherlands

I was around six-years-old when I came face-to-face with my first dinosaur. It was in the book aisle of the grocery store where my family shopped, in the pages of the How and Why Wonder Book of Dinosaurs. My mom bought the book for me and I poured over the pages of the book, fascinated by the large, lumbering brontosaurus, the fearsome allosaurus, the triceratops with its three horns and the duckbilled trachodon, munching away on leaves in a swamp. I learned how to pronounce those long dinosaur names my mom stumbled over and I went on to check out even more books with pictures of dinosaurs from the library.

My love of dinosaurs stayed with me even as Voyager’s encounters with the planets lured me into a career in astronomy. Through astronomy, I came to learn that Earth has only existed for a short time in the vast history of the universe. Reading about dinosaurs as a kid, I knew that humans existed only a short time compared dinosaurs and other creatures lived before the dinosaurs and also between the dinosaurs and us. While working on my physics degree, I took a course in geology and got to know the geological eras and learn a little more about the life that lived in those times through the fossils they left behind. During the field-mapping exercise I did as part of my geology class, I even found the fossil imprint of a Cretaceous-era leaf. During this time, I became keenly aware of how fragile life can be and how there have been several mass extinctions. I learned, among other things that the mass extinction that gave rise to the dinosaurs was far more extensive than the one that doomed them.

I was fortunate to marry an amazing person who shares my love of nature and of dinosaurs. One of our most memorable vacations was a trek to Dinosaur National Monument in Northern Utah, where numerous dinosaur fossils were buried in a flood millions of years ago.

Otherlands by Thomas Halliday

It’s from this perspective that a friend recommended the book Otherlands by Thomas Halliday. Halliday takes a fascinating approach with his book. He steps backward from the present day through the geological eras. He picks a place where the fossil record is well developed, and tells you what it would be like to be in that place if you arrived there on a day in that time. He introduces us to giant penguins and feathered, nearly silent dinosaurs. He shows us eras where plants dominated the landscape and we learn about trilobites scuttling along the sea floor with multifaceted eyes focused at different distances. I was fascinated to realize that in terms of number of species dinosaurs, in the form of birds, still dominate the planet today. Of course, humans dominate the planet in the sense of shaping it to accommodate our needs and whims. Halliday does point out we’re not the first species to impact the planet and its climate, we just may be the first one to make conscious decisions about how we impact the climate. The whole thing paints a picture of just how small a place we humans take up in the whole history of the Earth. If you’re fascinated by paleontology, dinosaurs, and the creatures who lived in other eras, this is a book well worth reading.

I can probably trace my fascination of not only dinosaurs but books to that copy of the How and Why Wonderbook of Dinosaurs. That funky duck-billed trachodon has always stuck with me. I came to learn that it’s a type of hadrosaur and some hadrosaurs like parasaurolophus and tsintaosaurus have single growths on their heads, resembling unicorn horns. When my wife and I founded a science fiction and fantasy small press, we looked to the hadrosaur as a visual metaphor because it was at once a creature of science and fantasy. I encourage you to look up Otherlands, but I hope you’ll also drop by hadrosaur.com and learn about the books we publish. No doubt you’ll find something to stir your imagination!

MileHiCon 54

I will be attending MileHiCon 54 in Denver, Colorado, which will be held from Friday, October 21 through Sunday October 23, 2022 at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. You can get more information about the event at https://milehicon.org.

This year’s toastmaster is Kevin J. Anderson, who has published more than 175 books, 58 of which have been national or international bestsellers. He has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes, as well as unique steampunk fantasy trilogy beginning with Clockwork Angels, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart. Anderson is also the owner of WordFire Press, publisher of the collection Maximum Velocity: Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales that I co-edited with Carol Hightshoe, Dayton Ward, Jennifer Brozek, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

The author guests of honor are Travis Heermann and Ken Liu. Author, filmmaker, screenwriter, poker player, poet, biker, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, an Active member of SFWA and the HWA, and the author of the Shinjuku Shadows series, Ronin Trilogy, The Hammer Falls, and other novels. Ken Liu is an American author of speculative fiction. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, he wrote the Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series (starting with The Grace of Kings), as well as short story collections The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. He also authored the Star Wars novel The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

I will be on several panels throughout the weekend. My schedule is below. When I’m not on panels, you can find me in the dealer’s room. I’ll be sharing a booth space with author Adam Gaffen.


Friday, October 21

  • 4:00pm, Evergreen F: To See New Earths I’ll introduce Kitt Peak’s planet-hunting detector, NEID, and discuss its role supporting NASA’s TESS mission, hunting for Earth-like planets outside the solar system.

Saturday, October 22

  • 11:00 am, Conifer 2: Cryptozoology in Art and Fiction Cryptids remain ever popular. Our panelists will discuss what they are, and how they show up in art and fiction of all forms (books, movies, television, comics, etc). On the panel with me are Daniel Dvorkin, Jon Black, Lou J. Berger, and Matt Bille
  • 2:00 pm, Evergreen F: The Year in Science Panelists cover the science news that most caught their attention over the past year. Courney Willis will serve as moderator. Also on the panel are Carolyn Collins Petersen, Daniel Dvorkin, and Ka Chun Yu
  • 4:00 pm, Conifer 2: SF&F Poetry SF&F is not just prose. Our panelists will discuss all things poetic in the SF&F world. Stace Johnson will moderate. On the panel with me are Mary Turzillo, and Reese Hogan
  • 5:00 pm, Conifer 3: Writing Effectively For Comics (So You’re Not Murdered by your Artist or Letterer) Writing for comics is very different than writing for prose. Learn from our panelists how not to make things harder for yourself, your letterer, your artist, or your editor. Jason Henderson will be moderating. Also on the panel are Karen Bjorn, Travis Heermann, and Sumiko Saulson

Sunday, October 23

  • 2:00 pm, Evergreen F: Mapping the Universe Kitt Peak’s DESI instrument is engaged in a five-year mission to make the largest 3D map in the universe. How does it work? What are some things we’ve learned along the way? And what do we ultimately hope to learn?

World Goth Day 2022

World Goth Day happened on May 22. World Dracula Day happens on May 26, because Bram Stoker’s Dracula was released on May 26, 1897. With both of those happening within one week, I’ve decided to have a week-long celebration. The Official World Goth Day site defines it as “a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world.” I thought this would be a great opportunity to share a special deal on my Gothic-literature and Dracula-inspired novels Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires and Vampires of the Scarlet Order. It’s even more appropriate, since the new novel I’m working on is tentatively titled Ordeal of the Scarlet Order and will complete the trilogy!

The Scarlet Order Books

Founded in 1067, the Scarlet Order is a band of vampire mercenaries led by Desmond, Lord Draco. Before he became a vampire, Draco was in the line of succession for the British throne. After becoming a vampire, he sought redemption and ultimately found the best way he could survive was to help those kings and princes whose causes he believed in. Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires chronicles the formation of the Scarlet Order. In Vampires of the Scarlet Order, the United States government has started a program to create super soldiers, so they don’t have to rely on vampires any more. Unfortunately, this means they are tampering with powers far beyond their understanding.

From now through May 28, you can pick up the ebook editions of these novels for just $1.00.

If you prefer printed novels, I still have a great deal. Buy either one of my novels at hadrosaur.com and I’ll toss in the related comic book, “Guinevere and the Stranger” absolutely free. “Guinevere and the Stranger” adapts the chapter that tells the vampire Roquelaure’s origin story into comic book form. What’s more, you can get your novels signed, just fill out the contact form on the site after you place your order and let me know you’d like signed copies.

These make great gifts for the Gothic Literature fan in your life, or keep them and enjoy them for yourself! If you have both novels, but not the comic, here’s where you can find it:

My newsletter subscribers got a jump on this special. If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, just visit my website: http://www.davidleesummers.com and find the signup form right at the bottom of the page.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one celebrating Goth Day this week. Tom Hutchison of Big Dog Ink is running a Kickstarter campaign for his second annual Goth Day issue. Big Dog Ink publishes the Critter superhero comic, Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, and the vampire/shapeshifter comic Ursa Minor among others. The Goth Day specials imagine the characters from the Big Dog Ink universe existing in a darker, parallel universe.

The special Goth Day issue is written by Tom Hutchison with art by CB Zane and colors by Gat Melvyn. Each Goth Day special is a one-shot, standalone issue, but Tom has made a pack available through Kickstarter where you can pick up his entire Goth Day series. Last year’s issue introduced the idea of Tom’s darker world, and a number of its inhabitants. In 2022 he expands on that world and introduces new characters and situations…including the Mermaid Princess in the banner ad!

To support Tom’s Kickstarter, visit:

Hybrid: Forced Vengeance

Around the end of 2015, my editor at Lachesis Publishing urged me to read the novel Hybrid: Forced Vengeance by Greg Ballan. I really enjoyed this fun thrill-ride of a novel. A little over three years later, Lachesis announced it would not be publishing new novels and Greg mentioned he had two new Hybrid novels. I knew I wanted them for Hadrosaur Productions. More recently, the rights for Greg’s two novels with Lachesis reverted to him and he asked if I would be interested. There was no question I wanted the complete set of adventures featuring Erik Knight. I published Hybrid back in June. Today, I’m proud to announce I’ve come full circle with the sequel and the Hadrosaur Productions edition of Hybrid: Forced Vengeance is now available.

Detective Erik Knight has both human and Esper DNA. The Espers are an alien race which lived on Earth in the distant past. Now in the present, Erik has kept his bargain with the US government by functioning as an undercover operative and CIA Cooler for more than two years. But while away on assignment, Erik’s life is shattered when he finds out his wife has been killed in a car accident. After attending her funeral, Erik can still feel a subtle trace of his beloved in his mind even as he throws himself back into his work to cope with her death. When the daughter of the French president begins getting death threats, Knight is assigned to protect her. After he foils two attempts on her life, he discovers that the radical group accused of the act is not involved. Joining forces with the group’s leader, Knight discovers that the plot originated from inside his own government — and that the connection between the assassination attempts and his wife’s death goes beyond anything he’s ever faced.

Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads after reading the first edition of the novel: “Through the course of the novel, Knight gets caught up in a web of intrigue, suspense, and government conspiracy. Ballan introduces us to many characters, each with their own agendas. Most important of all, Hybrid: Forced Vengeance never forgets to be a fun-filled, action-packed ride. At times, Ballan threatens to go over the top with some of the situations he presents, but superhero stories are supposed to be morality plays that pit the best heroes against the worst villains in the most extreme circumstances. Forced Vengeance delivers just that.” That still sums up my opinion in a nutshell. I think we’ve strengthened the novel for this new edition and added a touch of veracity to those points where I think Greg threatened to go over-the-top. In the process, I don’t believe we took away any of the fun. If anything, I think we smoothed out the language just a little bit so the fun comes through even better.

You can get Hybrid: Forced Vengeance in a beautiful print edition at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09SP6GQHX/

Hybrid: Forced Vengeance is available for Kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Hybrid-Forced-Vengeance-Greg-Ballan-ebook/dp/B09SYGMCVJ/

The novel is also available for Kindle, and just about every other e-reader device and app imaginable at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1133832

Copies will be coming soon to the Hadrosaur Productions store and to other online retailers in both print and ebook formats.

Hadrosaur’s New Payment Buttons

About a year ago, I received an email announcing that PayPal had deployed new payment buttons. I set it aside, knowing I needed to look into it as soon as I could clear some time. An upgrade like this typically means that older code, like that I used for my original PayPal buttons, will be deprecated and not maintained. Still, a quick look at PayPal’s development site told me I’d need to do some coding and testing, plus the old buttons still worked, so it was easy to convince myself to put it off.

One thing I liked about the old PayPal buttons was that when clicked, they would detect the buyer’s location and charge a suitable shipping rate for their address and the amount they purchased. As time went on, I came to realize I needed to update my shipping rates. Domestic postal rates had increased from the time I’d set up the rates and I knew I needed to take that into account. Also, because I can now drop ship from a vendor with locations in much of the world instead of exclusively from my local post office, some of my international shipping rates were too high. I recently went into to PayPal to see if those changes could be made and discovered I could no longer access the area where I used to set those numbers. So, it was time to upgrade to the new buttons PayPal had told me about a year ago.

New look for book pages at Hadrosaur.com

The new PayPal payment buttons basically come in three flavors. There’s a “plug-and-play” option where you enter some options and then you’re given a link to insert into into your code. Pretty much this will work if you have exactly one specific item you’re selling, but it’s not suitable for a bookstore where the books have different prices. The second option provides a set of “buy now” buttons as I have. It requires some basic knowledge of JavaScript but allows you to place buttons that charge different amounts on different pages. The third option allows for more customization so you can add items to a shopping cart and add the kind of location detection I had with the old buttons, but much of this needs to be coded through your own website or through any tools provided by your webhost and isn’t automated through PayPal like it used to be. In other words, they provide the tools so you can do these things yourself.

So far, my experience is that most people drop by Hadrosaur.com to buy a single book per visit, which does make the “buy now” style buttons I have an appropriate choice. Also, I have a pretty good idea of a “typical” shipping price, whether I ship from my local post office or drop ship an item. It’s possible I may need to adjust this, but it can now be adjusted directly on my site without having to rely on access through PayPal’s site. Plus, the new PayPal buttons are called from the site and they promise to keep them secure and up-to-date. If you do drop by my site and would like to buy several items at one time, the best option is to let me know through the website’s contact form and I can invoice you for the items plus the shipping cost for those items. Often combined shipping will be less per-item than it would be if you simply ordered each item individually.

So, please go visit https://hadrosaur.com right now. If you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, or horror, I’m betting you’ll find a tempting book, audio book or even comic book. And, if you buy one of my books, the “Thank you” message at checkout will even tell you how to get it signed and personalized!

Great Starter Books

The annual Smashwords End of Year Sale is underway. All of Hadrosaur’s titles are on sale and I’ll be highlighting many of them over the course of the sale here at the Web Journal. The coupon codes for these discounts are automatically applied at checkout. One of the things I love about Smashwords is that they provide ebooks in all popular formats and they’re DRM free, so you can download them to your favorite device or gift them to friends without worrying about what e-reader they prefer. If you are shopping for a friend, just click “Give as a Gift” when you visit the Smashwords links!

My company, Hadrosaur Productions, has long sought to introduce readers to great writers, but we understand choices about where to start when trying a new writer can be difficult. Today, I’m featuring some great books by our authors which serve as an introduction to their worlds. All of these books are half off the cover price.


Hybrid

Hybrid tells the story of Erik Knight, a small time private investigator, who always knew he was different from everybody else. Keener senses, heightened awareness and an enhanced physical strength that could be called upon by his sheer will. Erik becomes involved with a team of high profile investigators and local police trying to locate a girl who was kidnapped in the middle of a playground amongst dozens of adults and children. None of the adults saw anything and what the children claim to have seen is too farfetched to be believed. The search evolves into a full-scale manhunt into the dark and desolate woodlands of the Hopedale Mountain. After a lethal encounter and a fatality, Erik, the investigators and police realize that what they’re dealing with isn’t a man and possibly isn’t of this world. What they’re dealing with is a sentient evil that has an appetite for young children.

Hybrid is available at Smashwords all this month for half off the cover price at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1086387. Coupon code SEY50 should be applied automatically on checkout.


Upstart Mystique

On its way to a distant colony world, the space vessel Marco P loses all power and an unknown force convinces the navigator that a distant, dead world is the vessel’s true destination. Commander Malcolm Carpenter orders the crew to abandon ship to protect them and to learn how to defeat whatever force has intercepted his ship. The crew discovers a small group of inhabitants, the only people on the planet who were not uploaded into a vast computer network—a computer network captivated by upstart humans and their imaginations. To free his crew and his navigator from the planetary network’s grip, Commander Carpenter must face a moral dilemma. Can he save his crew without condemning a planet’s inhabitants and their digital ancestors to death?

Get Upstart Mystique for half off the cover price at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1010602. Coupon code SEY50 should be applied automatically on checkout.


Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel is the story of Mabel, an angel from Hell, who accompanies General Grant’s army during the last days of the Civil War only to discover that Martians are watching the Earth with envious eyes and slowly drawing their plans against us. Not only that, but Mabel has to contend with her evil sister, who wants to have humans for dinner. Although Mabel and Grant get the upper hand before the war ends, the battle of good against evil isn’t won so quickly. Several years later, in San Francisco, Mabel just wants to have fun with her friend Miles O’Malley, when she discovers her sister and the Martians have joined forces with a college fraternity and humanity may be on the dinner menu.

Christine Wald-Hopkins of The Arizona Daily Star writes, “This quirky new novel by Tucsonan David B. Riley is a cross-genre romp, religious fantasy meets historical fiction, science fiction, zombie ‘Animal House.’”

Get the book for 50% off at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/924099. Coupon code SEY50 should be applied automatically at checkout.


Already read these, or just want to browse for something different? Every single Hadrosaur Productions ebook at Smashwords is on sale through January 1. Find the complete listing at: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidleesummers.

Owl Dance Update

I hope my readers in the United States are having a good Thanksgiving weekend. I’m spending the weekend with family and reflecting on those things I’m thankful for. One of the things I’m thankful for has been the opportunity to work with some great publishers and editors over the years, such as Sky Warrior Book Publishing who published my Clockwork Legion steampunk series. Sky Warrior connected me with some great editors, gave me excellent marketing tips, and generally supported my efforts as an author. Still, after some discussion this fall, we decided it was to our mutual advantage for Sky Warrior to return the publishing rights to me. We’re parting ways, but I’m thankful that we’re parting ways as friends.

Owl Dance

The new edition of the first book in the series, published by Hadrosaur Productions, is now available. The new edition hasn’t changed much from the previous one. The paperback edition has a spiffy new layout featuring some cool-looking separators designed by Laura Givens. Laura also remixed the cover slightly to make it a little brighter. I only gave the book a cursory edit, looking for any minor copyedits that might have been missed. Partly that’s because the wonderful audiobook edition read by Edward Mittelstedt is still available and I don’t want to revise the text so the audio and text don’t match. I hope to make the new edition of Lightning Wolves available in about two weeks.

Owl Dance is set in 1876. In the novel, Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi of Persia, escaping oppression in her homeland. When an ancient lifeform called Legion comes to Earth, they are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon’s fast draw and Fatemeh’s uncanny ability to communicate with owls. The question is, will that be enough to save them when a fleet of dirigibles from Czarist Russia invades the United States?

Richard Harland, author of some of my favorite steampunk novels, including Worldshaker and Song of the Slums, says, “Owl Dance has everything. Airships, owl-ornithopters, a clockwork wolf, a multiple alien entity, a fast-shooting sheriff, a Russian plot to conquer America, and a very sexy, eco-aware, Bahá’í Persian healer-woman – I mean everything! Heaps of fun!”

If you’ve already read and enjoyed Owl Dance, thank you for your support. If you haven’t discovered the series yet, this is a great time to start. As I say, the new edition of the sequel, Lightning Wolves will go live in about two weeks. After that, it’ll probably be about six weeks before the final two novels are published, since I need to finish some editing and layout work on two new Hadrosaur titles from Greg Ballan and Lyn McConchie.

You can purchase the paperback edition of Owl Dance at Amazon.com.

The ebook edition is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.

Edward Mittelstedt’s reading of Owl Dance is available at Audible.com.

The book should be appearing at more vendors soon. You can see a book trailer and find all the places where the book is available at http://www.davidleesummers.com/owl_dance.html

Tinkering Under the Hood

This past summer, while Kitt Peak National Observatory was shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic, I took some online courses in web design. Web design is something I’ve learned largely on the job without any formal education, so even though I had been designing and editing web sites for several years, I decided to start with some fairly basic classes to improve my formal understanding of the process. One of the subjects covered was “hypertext transfer protocol.” This is basically the protocol computers use to speak to each other over the web. You’re probably most familiar with this from the “http” in front of web addresses in the address bar at the top of your browser. You’ve probably noticed that some of these addresses start with “https” instead of “http.” The “s” stands for “secure” and when it’s in the address, you should also see a lock icon in the bar.

Without getting into too many technical details, the way you secure the communication between your browser and the computer where a website lives is that the website’s computer has to have a piece of code called a secure socket layer certificate or a transfer layer security certificate. Without the certificate, the data transferred between the computers is just the code typed by the programmer, which can be viewed by a lurking third party. When the certificate is enabled, that communication stream is encrypted and can’t just be read by the third party. This is especially important when you’re using a form to send personal information across the web, and particularly when you’re sending something like a credit card number. When I started working on websites, secure certificates weren’t used and I haven’t tended to worry about them. On the Hadrosaur Productions websites, when I offered something for sale, I used a shopping cart from Paypal, which had all the necessary security in place. However, because of my recent classes, I learned that I could make a more secure web browsing experience for my customers.

Hadrosaur.com after modifications

This past week, the hosting for hadrosaur.com and talesofthetalisman.com both came up for renewal, which prompted me to check on the state of the security certificates offered by our web host. I discovered the hosting service does, indeed provide them. So, I’ve been tinkering with links throughout the sites I manage, including this blog, my personal website, and those two websites to make sure links were summoned using the https protocol. As you can see in the image above, hadrosaur.com now displays the lock icon in the address bar.

We have some exciting products coming to hadrosaur.com later this year, including the new edition of my novel Children of the Old Stars, a new edition of Hybrid by Greg Ballan, and the comic Guinevere and the Stranger adapted from my Scarlet Order Vampire series. Although Tales of the Talisman Magazine remains on hiatus, many back issues are still available at talesofthetalisman.com and they all have great stories. The changes to the sites are mostly invisible to the casual browser, and while shopping there has always been secure through the Paypal shopping cart structure, my goal has been to add another layer of security and trust to your shopping experience through our sites.

2020 Hindsight

Soon after the year 2020 began, I wrote a post called “2020 Foresight,” as a play on the old saw, “Hindsight is 20/20.” The post looked at my publishing plans for the first part of 2020 and, for the most part, those plans ticked off just as I expected they would. Through Hadrosaur Productions, I released Sheila Hartney’s anthology Exchange Students at the end of February, which imagined exchange students traveling between worlds and times. In April, Hadrosaur released Don Braden’s novel Upstart Mystique, which imagined a colony ship from Earth encountering a civilization that had attempted to upload its collective consciousness into a computer. I released the new, revised edition of my first novel, The Pirates of Sufiro, in July. I’m happy to look back at the year and see all of these plans actually came about as expected.

As we entered 2020, one thing I knew was that the contracts for three of my novels would be up for renewal in March. I knew the publisher had scaled back operations and I suspected they would want to revert the rights to me. I didn’t discuss this in the blog at the time because I didn’t think it would be professional of me to talk about it before my publisher and I discussed the fate of these books. As it turns out, the publishing rights for these books did revert to me right as much of the world began to shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. The upshot was that I spent much of the spring and early summer working on new editions. I made fairly minor changes to The Astronomer’s Crypt and Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires. I decided to re-order the chapters of Vampires of the Scarlet Order, which helped to tighten the novel’s focus. I’m pleased with how these novels turned out and I was especially gratified by the good reaction I received to the new edition of Vampires of the Scarlet Order when it was a featured selection of Boutique du Vampyre’s Vampyre Library Book Club in November.

As we moved from summer into fall, my attention turned to some new writing projects. I wrote a novelette and a novella, both of which have been accepted by their respective publishers. In fact, I spent the last week of 2020 working on edits my publisher requested for the novella. I’m really excited for its release in 2021 and plan to share details about it as soon as I can. I have also continued my work revising the Space Pirates’ Legacy novels. I’m rapidly approaching the halfway point on Children of the Old Stars. You can follow the progress of the Space Pirates’ Legacy project and I’ve been told I can provide an early sneak peek of the novella project if you sign up at my Patreon site.

It seems as each year ends, I hear a chorus of voices bemoaning the terrible year ending and hoping for better times in the new year. The transition from 2020 to 2021 is no different and, arguably, the chorus is more justified this year than they have been in many recent years. That noted, I was pleased to attend a virtual Tohono O’Odham storytelling hosted by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum on December 30. One of the storytellers shared a traditional song that reminds us, even in darkness, there is light from the moon and stars to guide our way. My readers who have stuck with me have been a bright point of light in the year just past. Thank you. If you haven’t discovered the books I write and publish yet, I invite you to browse the selection at http://hadrosaur.com/bookstore.php and http://davidleesummers.com/.

Updating the Hadrosaur Bookstore

While Kitt Peak National Observatory is shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, one of my jobs has been to review, edit, and update documentation on the observatory’s websites. I can’t really show off much of what I’ve been working on there since those are internal sites behind firewalls, and, unless you’re versed in astronomical observation, these documents probably wouldn’t hold much general interest. Part of the reason I edit these documents is that the observatory values my skills as a writer and an editor, which I really appreciate. Also, I’ve been coding HTML since the “Wild West” days of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s.

A benefit the company added in response to the pandemic was to make LinkedIn Learning available to employees. I first became interested in LinkedIn Learning, when Australian writer and artist Greg Long reviewed some of the courses he’s taken, so I knew there were courses there that could help me improve my skills. Because of how early I came to coding websites, there were no classes. I learned by trial and error and browsing through the w3 standards. If I remember right, when I started, all of the standards could be printed out on three or four sheets of paper! The web has evolved a lot since those days. HTML has been improved and things like cascading style sheets and Javascript were introduced. So, I knew I could do with some formal training. So I decided to enroll in a “learning path” for becoming a web developer. In LinkedIn Learning, learning paths are a bundle of courses that cover a broad topic. I’ve completed two of the courses and am about three-quarters of the way through a third.

This training doesn’t just benefit Kitt Peak National Observatory. It is helping me build a better writer’s website and a better website for my company Hadrosaur Productions. This is work I can show you and talk about.

Take One of the Hadrosaur Bookstore

A couple of years ago, my older daughter helped to redesign the Hadrosaur Productions website. She made it through several pages and they look really nice, but then she was hired away to a full-time software engineering job. One of the pages she left for me was the main bookstore page. My objective for this page was to show off our books so people could discover what we had. They could then click the covers to get more details. In the screenshot above, you can see the page as I originally coded it. It’s a rigid table structure, which looks nice on a modest home computer screen. The problem is that the grid becomes small on phones. If you are using a bigger screen, there would be a lot of wasted white space.

This particular layout does not need to be organized as a table. All it needs is to display the covers, and better yet the covers with some additional information, in a neat and orderly fashion. Fortunately, there are some tools to do that in CSS. These tools also give me “under the hood” functionality that make it much easier to add new titles as they’re released, or remove titles as they’re sold out. What’s more, the new layout will adapt so that if you display it on a phone, you’ll just see a column of book covers and titles. If you display it on a wide screen, the rows will expand to fill the browser’s viewport.

You can take a look at the updated design here: http://hadrosaur.com/bookstore.php

I’d love to hear what you think of the updated design. As I say, it’s a work in progress. In the long run, I hope to make this more searchable and sortable. While you’re visiting the page, if a book grabs your eye, feel free to click on it to learn more. The “Add to Cart” and “View cart” buttons are all hosted at PayPal, so all purchases are secure. We don’t get any of your information other than your shipping address.