Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inspired by Research

Here I am with this perfect story rattling around in my otherwise empty skull, and in an instant everything is changed. I don’t know about you, but when this happens to me, it’s a little troubling. I had been researching the Shroud of Turin for a new novel and suddenly my story takes a one-hundred-eighty degree turn, and I have the plot for an entirely new novel. If you’ve ever thought you knew a subject well enough to write a story about it, and then been confronted with additional knowledge that causes you to rethink your story, you know what I mean. In tracing Jesus’ burial shroud, from its earliest accounts to its present resting place in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, one line of history caused me to ask the question. What happened to the threads of the shroud? You see, in the year 1532, the burial shroud of Jesus was in the possession of a royal family, the Duke of Savoy, and housed on the castle complex, in the Chapelle de ChambĂ©ry. In December of that year the church was devastated by a fire and the shroud came perilously close to being destroyed. It was repaired by Poor Clare Nuns, and to this day, when you look at the shroud, you can see the triangular patches from the repair, a grim reminder of that terrible fire. History tells us, the nuns trimmed the burned areas of the cloth and repaired them, and the story of the repair ends. I could not find a record of what happened to the threads that were trimmed from the burned areas. Threads of the Shroud is a contemporary mystery that revolves around this central mystery. What happened to the threads of the shroud?
Click on the link below. Threads of the Shroud is available on:

Monday, October 29, 2012


If you lived in the Pacific Northwest on May 18th, 1980, you probably remember precisely what you were doing at 8:32 a.m. that Sunday morning when Mt. St. Helens erupted killing 57 people and destroying 250 homes. It also wiped out 15 bridges, destroyed 17 miles of railway and 185 miles of highway.

I remember that day clearly. May 18th is my father’s birthday and also my younger sister’s birthday. I was returning home from a trout fishing trip in Central Oregon. Mt. St. Helens is located in Washington state, 50 miles north of Portland, my hometown at the time. For a few months prior to that day, as an ominous preview of what was to come, Mt. St. Helens had been raining ash on the city. The evening news was filled with stories on the activity of the volcano, but no one, not even the scientists studying the mountain, expected it to blow up in such a devastating way. Predicting volcanic eruptions at that time was guess work, more than science, and is still uncertain, if somewhat more reliable today.

Like thousands of others, I remember clearly what I was doing that morning, but the true impact of what happened did not affect me until some days later as the events unfolded in the news. In the aftermath, perhaps the memory that impacted me the most was that of David Johnston, a young scientist who radioed the call to the Vancouver watch station. "Vancouver, Vancouver this is it!" Those were the last words the young man ever uttered. Johnston was in the direct path of the explosion as a third of the mountainside blew out annihilating thousands of square miles of landscape.

As devastating as St. Helens was, it can not compare to the potential devastation that another active volcano, one of our favorite National Parks, will do when it erupts again. Yellowstone National Park is known for it’s beautiful scenery, majestic mountains, crystal clear streams and limitless variety of wildlife, but it has a darker side in its history. Six-hundred-forty thousand years ago Yellowstone erupted with a force 6000 times that of St. Helens. The better part of 13 states were buried under many feet of ash. Virtually every living thing, for hundreds of miles in every direction, was destroyed, plants and wildlife alike. What we know today as the Central United States, the Breadbasket of America, was annihilated. One third of what is now the United States of America was left a barren wasteland.

Yellowstone is what is known as an active super volcano. There are only six of these potentially devastating monsters know in the world and ours is centrally located where an eruption would annihilate millions of our citizens, changing our country forever. By far Yellowstone has the highest potential for destroying human life of any of the other super volcanoes, and Yellowstone is overdue for an eruption. When I started writing my novel Caldera it was with the memory of David Johnston and the many other’s who lost their lives on that fateful day and a concern that there is no way for us to prepare for the day Yellowstone wakes up.
Available on AMAZON AND NOOK

Friday, September 21, 2012

A young woman who wants to run in the Olympics, a doctor who has invented a new continuous flow mechanical heart, black market organ traffickers willing to  murder to keep their business going, and a young man who will stop at nothing to give the girl he loves her dream. These elements come together in a heart throbbing and heart breaking journey in the life of Tracy Hill, a girl who will die unless she gets a new heart. Olympic hopeful, Tracy Hill, defies all odds when she survives a massive heart attack. But her survival looks grim as she lies in a coma on life support, waiting for a donor heart. In the shadows of ICU, sinister forces are at work, anxious to see Tracy die, so they can sell her organs to the highest bidder on the black market. A former boyfriend, Jared Scott, is there when Tracy collapses and remains by her side, searching for a way to keep her alive. Jared is intent on making sure the girl he loves, not only survives, but also gets a chance at leading the life he knows she deserves.
Purchase on Amazon

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Message From My Heart

If you believe your heart is the center of intuition, love, creativity, wisdom and gratitude, you may be on to something.  While researching my soon-to-be-published novel, HEARTLESS, I came across an article from Vijai P. Sharma, PhD. The article concerned recent research that connects the human heart with emotions. When we hear someone say, “do what your heart tells you,” or, “go with your gut,” there is some scientific research that supports the heart is more connected to how we act and conduct ourselves than we may have previously believed.

Researchers at the HeartMath Institute, I didn’t even know such a place existed, claim that the heart plays a role in the functioning of human intelligence, emotions and personality, according to Dr. Sharma’s paper. Imagine if the heart were not just a muscle circulating the blood in our bodies and actually played a greater roll in our mental well being than simply keeping us alive physically. The article supports this concept and suggests that, not only does our heart communicate with our brain affecting our emotions, but also our gut communicates with our brain. To support their claim, the research points to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found memory, attention and concentration declined after patients had bypass surgery and the effects lasted for five years after.

So if you already knew this in your heart, you may be better tuned in than many of us. The next time you read in a novel about a detective who, “acts on gut instinct,” or a mother who tells her distraught daughter, “listen to your heart,” it may not be the author’s creative license at work, but a greater universal axiom. What does your heart tell you?

Monday, February 13, 2012


It was in the late 1970’s, in an airliner, on the way back from a business trip that I noticed a young man sitting next to me sketching on a grid pad. I glanced at the item the young man was drawing which looked like a small trubine wheel.

“Are you an engineer?” I asked. Turbine wheels were common in my industry. The company I worked for cast turbine wheels for everything, from automobile turbochargers to marine propellers, so it was with some surprise when I found out the man was designing a heart pump.

“I’m Richard Wampler, a surgeon and an engineer,” he replied and this is the next generation in heart pumps I’m designing. It’s revolutionery. This one is implantable.”

I introduced myself telling the young doctor I was also an engineer and worked with titanium, a metal that may be useful to him in the medical field. We talked about his design and the problems he would have to overcome with his new design. At the time he was most concerned that a continuous flow of blood through a high speed turbine wheel might shred red corpuscles and destroy the blood.

I gave the doctor my card and told him if he needed anything I could help him with he should contact me. I wished him success and we parted.

When I got his call a week or so later I had completely put the conversation about the revolutionary heart pump out of my mind. This time the young man wanted to know if I could make some titanium heart pump parts for him to test. Soon after I recieved wax patterns and was able to provide titanium prototype parts for an early version of an implantable heart pump.

Through the years I have caught several news casts about implantable heart pumps. The most notable news story was of a dentist in Seatle in 1982 named Barney Clark. He was the first person to have an artificial heart implanted and lived entirely on a mechanical device called the Jarvik-7 named for another pioneer in artificial heart pumps, Dr. Robert Jarvik. Barney Clark lived for 112 days with the mechanical heart.

A lot of things have changed since Barney Clark made history as the first human to live with an artificial heart. Today a much improved and minitureized version of an artifical heart is undergoing testing in a calf named Meeko. It may prove to be the first truly implantable permanent replacement for the human heart. With over 2 million Americans needing heart transplants and only a few thousand replacements available each year, this could be the medical breakthrough of the century.

My next novel, to be released in May of this year, is titled HEARTLESS. It is a fictional acount of a young girl who is one of the first recipients of this truly remarkable device.