Category Archives: Settings for the Crossover Novels

Contact: Monastery North of Ros’s Farmstead

While writing “Contact,” I had a scene in which a couple of my (not-so-nice) characters discussed the acquisition of local “assets” north of Ros’s farmstead (the location of modern-day Dingle, Ireland).

The few farmsteads to the north have been stripped of food and fodder. But even this side will soon be barren unless we obtain more thralls to work the land.

But, from a tour of Ireland, I knew there was a Monastery in the same region, hence I knew I had to add a line to that paragraph:

The few farmsteads to the north have been stripped of food and fodder. Even the small monastery is now barren. But even this side will soon be barren unless we obtain more thralls to work the land.

So what did/does this Monastery look like? Here is an encompassing view showing the surviving church:

Gallarus Oratory

Monastery North of Ros’s Farmstead

No doubt, the stone church was surrounded by less permanent structures such as residences, cattle pens, storage buildings (made of wattle and daub), and fencing.

It’s quite interesting that the church’s door and the only window line up:


Looking East through Gallarus Oratory

The construction is also of interest. No mortar. Only gravity holds it together:

Gallarus Oratory's Stonework

Morterless Construction

An interior view showing the intersection of ceiling and walls:

Gallarus Oratory's Stonework

Interior View of Stonework

A much more elaborate religious structure stood a few miles away. But as it was built in the 1200’s, it didn’t make it into the story:

Church of Kilmalkedar,

Church near Gallarus Oratory

Collapse: status

I’ve got a rough outline of the main plot. But as I write (I’m only at 9000 words…90,000 is typical book length), all sorts of sub-plots are slipping in.

This is a complicated story. Especially since the Maya civilization is so alien to us/me.

Also,  they had larger cities than Europe in the middles ages. And larger populations. And they are one of the few civilizations that developed (on their own) the concept of “zero” in their number system.

Need a read while waiting for Collapse? May I suggest:

“1632” by Eric Flint

From Amazon:

In Flint’s novel of time travel and alternate history, a six-mile square of West Virginia is tossed back in time and space to Germany in 1632, at the height of the barbaric and devastating Thirty Years’ War.

Oh, and the eBook version is free on Amazon.

“Island In The Sea Of Time” by S. M. Stirling

From Amazon:

It’s spring on Nantucket and everything is perfectly normal, until a sudden storm blankets the entire island. When the weather clears, the island’s inhabitants find that they are no longer in the late twentieth century…but have been transported instead to the Bronze Age! Now they must learn to survive with suspicious, warlike peoples they can barely understand and deal with impending disaster, in the shape of a would-be conqueror from their own time.

Finally, my all time favorite (and rather weird) series:

“The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel” by Jasper Fforde (not a typo!)

From Amazon:

Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde’s Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde’s ingenious fantasy—enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel—unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix. Thursday’s zany investigations continue with six more bestselling Thursday Next novels, including One of Our Thursdays is Missing and the upcoming The Woman Who Died A Lot.

Hey, any story in which Jane Eyre is kidnapped from her book has gotta be great…

For questions, comments, and general BS, please drop me a line at

PS…link to information on the Monastery:


Hike through the Caragh Valley

The major location in the second book, Contact, of my Crossover series, takes place in the Caragh Valley in southern Ireland.

I had spent a couple of years peering down from Google’s satellites onto southern Ireland, with a lot of that time making sure I got the geographical details correct.

Caragh Valley

Google Earth view of Caragh Valley relative to Dingle

But a bird’s eye view is not the same as boots on the ground (if you will allow me to mix my cliches..).

In 2015, my wife and I had the privilege of touring Ireland. And spent several nights in Dingle (otherwise know as “Ros’s farmstead” in Contact).

With a free day from the tour, I took a (rather expensive) taxi to the Caragh Valley. Luckily, I took photos as we drove. And one photo was of the side of a rocky hill that eventually became “Bald Hill” (a lookout and then a defensive position in the book):

Bald Hill

Terrain Around Bald Hill

Once there, I hiked 10 miles from the location of Sanctuary up the mountain to “Windy Pass”, and then north along the Caragh Lake to a point where I could see where it drains into the lower Caragh River.

Caragh Valley Route

Map of Hike Through Caragh Valley

Back in the 11th century, oak forests dominated the landscape. But in the 18th, the British effectively clear-cut the island’s oaks to build their navy. So some imagination was required to ‘reforest’ the landscape.

Here’s the location of “Sanctuary,” as seen from across the upper Caragh Rive. Sanctuary is to far right (view from Bed & Breakfast on opposite shore):

Location of Sanctuary

Terrain around Sanctuary

The hike climbed the west mountainside, which affords great views. Here’s looking south:

View of Caragh Valley looking south

View to south with location of Sanctuary

I detoured up the mountain to “Windy Pass,” named for the strong winds that cut through the dip in the mountains. Here’s a view toward “Ros’s farmstead” (present-day Dingle), which lies across the bay:

Windy Pass

View looking west from Windy Pass

While on what-the-Irish-call mountains, I found peat! I had thought it was formed only in low depressions…but apparently, it just needs to be constantly wet. (And, yes, I did get a bit wet on this hike…but, hey, I’m from Oregon…so no problem).

Peat near Windy Pass

Peat near the top of the mountains that form the west side of Caragh Valley

Here’s a view looking north that shows the lower Caragh Lake as well as the small island and protrusion of land that pinches the lake into two parts:

Lower Caragh Lake

Lower Caragh Lake

As I hiked out of the valley, I could see the lower Caragh River (Hey, sorry about all the uppers and lowers when referring to the Caragh River and Caragh Lake!). A bit rocky. No wonder Larry and his crew had to drag the Seabird upriver along several stretches.

Lower Caragh River

Lower Caragh River

Finally, after a long day, I reached the pickup point for the Taxi back to Dingle:

End of hike!

End of hike!

And, yes, Guinness is way better in Ireland…

best regards,

P.S. If you enjoy my books, please consider posting an honest review on the site from which you bought it. Reviews really help authors sell more books and readers discover new stories. Thank you!

PPS…and if you haven’t read one yet, remember that the eBook version of the first, Conflict, is free at Amazon, Kobo, and Nook.

Cleaved Cliff at the Entrance to Dingle Bay

Navigation was difficult in the pre-radio/satellite age. Landmarks were critical – at least the ones that didn’t move. Luckily, and I didn’t know this until I visited the area a few years ago, the small entrance to (what is now-a-days called) Dingle Bay has a distinctive cleaved cliff on its western side.

Cleaved Cliff Face

Cleave Cliff Face at entrance to Dingle Bay

In the second book in The Crossover Series, “Contact,”, my characters travel to southern Ireland in the year 1076 CE (“common era,” aka AD). This broken cliff face provided a distinctive landmark for Larry and his crew when they returned on their second trip. (Which, for those who haven’t read “Contact” yet, didn’t go so well…).

Here’s an overview of Dingle and the surrounding terrain (Ros was the headman back in 1076 CE):

Dingle Bay area

Dingle Bay showing the town of Dingle, the cleaved cliff, and Ros’s farmstead.

Here is a dramatic (but, unfortunately, out-of-focus) image showing the gap between the mainland and the cleaved cliff edge.

Cleaved Cliff Face

Fuzzy view of the cleaved cliff face

On our recent visit to southern Ireland, my wife and I walked from the town of Dingle (at the north end of the bay) to the entrance at the south end:

View of entrance to Dingle Bay from footpath

Path to entrance of Dingle Bay

The cleaved cliff is just to the right of the tower as seen from this perspective. Note: the tower was built several centuries after the time from of my book. Here’s a view with more detail:

Entrnace to Dingle Bay

View of entrance to Dingle Bay

It was a pleasant walk from Dingle to the bay’s entrance. Except for the land mines:

Yes, we had to clean off the bottom of our shoes…in spite of our care.




The Location of Haven’s Tower in “Conflict”.

The characters in Conflict, the first book in the Crossover Series, attempted to escape the warlord Tork by fleeing up the Susquehanna River. And decide to make a stand just north of present day Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Their first early defense against any attack by a pursuing Tork was a watchtower.

On the same trip as the one where I took a canoe trip down the Susquehanna, I was able to find the exact location of that tower (built by my characters back in the 11th century). And was thrilled to find that a cemetery occupies the tower’s hill in this century.

Present day tower location

The present day location of Haven’s tower

Not thrilled about the graves, but rather that the hill was cleared of trees and provided an excellent view of what Joe and his band could see in Conflict.

View from Haven's tower

Present day view from Haven’s tower.

Of course, the roads cut into the hills to the south weren’t there back in 1054 AD! For reference, here’s the map found in Conflict:

Location of Haven's tower

Location of the lookout tower relative to Haven

P.S. If you enjoy my books, please consider posting an honest review on the site from which you bought it. Reviews really help authors sell more books and readers discover new stories. Thank you!

The Susquehanna River as the setting for “Conflict”

In novels, the importance of location varies all over the place. Sometimes, it’s just some nondescript neighborhood. Other times, it’s a major “character” (think Middle Earth or Avatar).

Also important, location constrains and/or focuses the storyline. When looking for a setting for Conflict, the first book in the Crossover Series, I was interested in a location that could provide, at least temporarily, safety for my characters. And for their horses.

(Horses? My characters are sent back to 11th century, pre-contact North America. And take horse along with them.)

Other factors in choosing a setting would be setting up the other books in the series and to provide at least some food.

  1. So my constraints in location are:
    1. Safety
    2. Control the horses
    3. Provide later ease in travel (setting up the subsequent books)
    4. Food supply (fish)

So I searched using Google Earth.

I started out up near the Great Lakes, looking for terrain that had valleys, yet was close enough to navigable waterways. Really didn’t find anything.

Somehow, and I can’t remember how, I started looking at coastal waterways. And I found myself “traveling” up the Susquehanna River. When I saw the following image, I knew I found a home for my characters:

Haven's Geological Ridges

Haven’s Geological Ridges from Google Earth

  1. It has it all:
    1. Defensive hills (actually, they’re geological folds)
    2. A valley to hold the horses (actually, two valleys, one for each stallion)
    3. A route (with a few rapids) to the ocean
    4. Fish!

And the Susquehanna is convenient, as my niece lives nearby. So, I visited and took a canoe trip down the river:

Ridges from shore

View of Geological Ridges from shore where we stopped for lunch


Notice the hills. They’re really the ends of those geological folds. I have no idea of how the Susquehanna cut through them…but I wouldn’t have wanted to be around when it did!

Rocks in Susquehanna River

Navigating the rocks in the Susquehanna River

Very Shallow. Here’s my wife and niece (you may have to squint to see them) navigating through the broken bones of the geological folds that still remain in the river.

And that’s how the Susquehanna became the setting for my first book.

* * *

The first book in the Crossover Series, Conflict, remains free as an eBook at:

The second book, Contact, will be out on July 16th!

To stay updated, sign up for my newsletter at

Any questions, thoughts, or comments? Contact me at