Buy Unleashing Colter's Hell, Lost Cause, and Need To Know three of Amazon's top selling national park thrillers today!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Bits: Unleashing Colter's Hell

Word about Unleashing Colter's Hell is spreading!  The Sun Singer's Travel Blog highlighted the novel on their book news holiday round up!  Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Call me Ranger. . . National Park Ranger

With the recent release of Skyfall, the new James Bond adventure, I’m reminded of how my love of the secret agent’s adventures and my passion for national parks led to writing a Bond-style thriller, set in Yellowstone National Park. Unleashing Colter’s Hell tells the story of a single park ranger’s race to prevent an attack that could destroy the United States.

Let me back up a few years.

In 1997, I served as a seasonal ranger at Yellowstone’s West Thumb geyser basin. While at the park, I lived in a remote single-wide trailer without many modern conveniences like television. As such, I had countless hours for “bubblegum reading.” Some of my favorite novels were the James Bond spy thrillers. You could say thrillers are in my DNA, as my father named me after Sean Connery, the first actor to play the British spy. But the appeal of these stories runs deeper than my name; it’s their exotic locations, along with a compelling hero battling bad guys for the future of the world that captured my imagination.

Perhaps it was the isolation of the Wyoming wilderness or the lack of distractions, but as I read these books, a question occurred to me: Why wasn’t there an American equivalent to these master spy novels? America doesn’t lack exotic locations. I grew up traveling to nearly every state in the Union and visiting hundreds of the national park sites. I’d boated through the saw grass wetlands of the Everglades, tramped under the otherworldly stone arcs of Arches, and ridden horses through the wilds of Glacier. The United States in general and our national parks in particular have enough interesting locations for thousands of stories.

I wondered, who could serve in the place of James Bond? James Bond was a “jack of all trades.” His job required him to fly planes, rappel off of steep mountain slopes, drive high-performance vehicles, and even know exactly how a martini should be made: shaken, not stirred, naturally. In addition, Bond works for the well-known MI-6, Great Britain’s counterpart to the CIA. Bond was equally comfortable in the field and in the halls of power.

Who in the federal government could hold a candle to the super spy? It couldn’t be someone in the FBI or CIA. Those archetypes have been explored before and even show up in several James Bond novels. No, it occurred to me I was looking for a park ranger. On any given day, park visitors could want to know the name of countless plants and animals, the thinking behind the park service’s wildfire management, or even a recommendation for the best nearby restaurant. A ranger has to know it all. But rangers also have to do it all. Rangers can be found tracking down dangerous fugitives on one day, while the next, they are helping to save endangered species such as grizzly bears or gray wolves. Like Bond, rangers fly planes, rappel off of mountains, and drive high-performance cars all in a day’s work. Some can even make an excellent martini.

Yes, a park ranger could make an excellent American version of the British agent. Now all that was needed was a story. James Bond battles international conspiracies and attempts at world domination. Obviously, national park rangers don’t face these types of dangers … or do they? Yellowstone is home to the world’s largest super volcano. Past eruptions have buried much of the eastern two-thirds of the country in dozens of feet of ash. If the volcano blew today, it could well be curtains for the country and world. What if someone or some organization could trigger a volcanic eruption? Voila! I had my location, hero, and a compelling threat, a great story idea.

In 2009, with the gentle prodding of my writing coach, I began working on the novel. Over the next three years, I wrote more than 70,000 words, produced several drafts and rewrites, and finally published the thriller in August of this year: Unleashing Colter’s Hell. (Shameless plug: You can find it here on Paperback or Kindle.)

Thankfully, the Yellowstone attack in my novel is pure fiction. But if it weren’t, I know America’s park rangers would be up to the challenge.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

National Parks Good, Budget Cuts Bad!

National Parks aren't just pretty places, they are sites for affordable family vacations, home to endangered wildlife, sources of clean water and uncut forests, as well as huge economic engines. 

Recently I was on the "Joe Show" on Bellinghman's KGMI to discuss the pending fiscal cliff and the potential impacts budget cuts will have to our economy, public health/safety, and national heritage.

National Parks Good, Budget Cuts Bad.  It's that simple.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Photo Contest: Win an autographed copy of Unleashing Colter's Hell

Have you read Unleashing Colter's Hell, the exciting new thriller set in Yellowstone National Park?  Do you want to win an autographed copy of the novel? 

Send us a picture of you reading/holding the book and get automatically entered to win an autographed copy. 

Enter Today!

Official rules:

1. Email a digital photo of you and/or friends reading the novel to
2. Entrys will be posted on, as well as linked to on and on twitter @parkthrillers
3. In your entry email, please include an address where the book should be sent.
4. Contest officially begins November 10, 2012.  Entry deadline is December 31, 2012.  The winner will be selected January 2, 2013.
5. Individuals limited to one entry per week.
6. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Technology's Spread through Parks: Good or Evil?

When Yellowstone, the world's first national park was established Congress envisioned it would be a place "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." Nearly fifty years later, when the National Park Service was create Congress commanded the new agency to promote enjoyment of natural and cultural wonders, but only allow those activities that leave the resources unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Activities such as hunting, artifact collecting, and timber harvesting are generally prohibited in the national parks. At Yellowstone the use of private automobiles were even barred for a time. Yet, uses such as camping, hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, and a host of others have predominately been authorized. The thinking guiding these decisions has been to authorize activities that bring visitors a close interaction with the park without causing lasting damage to the park resources and wildlife.

In the nearly 100 years since the Park Service's creation billions of people from around the world have visited the nearly 400 national park units. In 2012, the Park Service has seen more than 271 million visitors, up more than 6 million at the same time last year. Hard to argue the parks are underutilized. Yet despite their popularity and maybe because of it the parks continually face development threats from the outside world.

In my experience as a ranger, most visitors come to parks to escape the hustle, noise, and stress of the modern urban world.  Yet technology such as cell phones, iPads, and GPS push deeper into parks making some of the world's last truly remote places more accessible but also susceptible to the spread of invasive species such as angry birds.

In my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell the use of technology plays a central role in the story's plot.  Both hero and villain use machines to achieve their objectives.  One uses technology to destroy, the other to protect.

When you travel to the national parks, what technology expectations shape your experience?