Mysterious Places – Gobekli Tepe and Baalbek!!

Conspiracy theories, odd history, unexplained events, mysterious places, and similar things intrigue me. Even my fantasy adventure series, The Gemstone Chronicles, is based on the legendary magical and mystical properties of gemstones. In an earlier post, I talked about two of my favorites conspiracy theories – the Philadelphia Experiment and the Knights Templar. And I admit to a guilty pleasure of watching Ancient Aliens on the History Channel (I mean, who isn’t intrigued by Giorgio’s haircut?). Remember my posts on The Georgia Guidestones? That is a neat mysterious place not far from my home!

Mysterious Georgia-Guidestones-Web

Today, however, I want to talk about a couple of mysterious places around the globe. I don’t mean places like Stonehenge, the Carnac stones, Mayan temples, or Machu Pichu. Nope, I want to go for the really mysterious places!

I want to start our mysterious journey with a discussion of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. What makes this a mysterious place? Well, according to our oft-cited friends at Wikipedia, Gobekli Tepe is thought to be 12,000 years old! Put into perspective, the site is twice as old as Stonehenge and 7,000 years older than the Pyramids at Giza.

OK, so the place is old, but what makes it so mysterious? Well, consider that most scientists believe that humankind, at that point in history, were hunter-gatherers and lived in small nomadic bands that moved around in search of food. Yet, the amount of tools found at the site would indicate a workforce of, perhaps, hundreds. And, given the conventional wisdom that there weren’t any wheels or beasts of burden, how did the builders move blocks of limestone weighing up to 16 tons hundreds of feet? Interestingly enough, there isn’t much evidence of habitation (trash, cooking fires, bones of animals, etc.) at Gobekli Tepe, which leads to the question of what purpose the site served. Could it have been a religious site – at a time when religion wasn’t thought to exist? Here is a picture of the Gobekli Tepe site.

Mysterious Gobeckli-Tepe-site-Web

Carvings and depictions of animals, scorpions, and other creatures decorate some of the pillars at Gobekli Tepe. Again, consider this was during a time when cave drawings were being made, but not so much sculpture. And who built Gobekli Tepe? No clue on that one, but it does cast a mysterious shadow over what is now considered the oldest monument building in the world! Below is one of the pillars from the site. Note the animal carving.

Mysterious GobeklitepeHeykel-web

Gobekli Tepe was abandoned about 10,000 years ago, but instead of simply leaving, the site was carefully filled in (which accounts for its amazing preservation). Archaeologists estimate that only about 5% of the site has been excavated, so there may be many more surprises as it’s uncovered!

The next mysterious site we will visit is Baalbek in Lebanon. Baalbek is a site that has multiple layers of construction. The Roman City of Heliopolis sits on the top level and has some of the best Roman ruins remaining in Lebanon. The picture below is the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek.

Mysterious Roman-Temple-at-Baalbek-WebThe second level of construction is Phoenician. Baal was the Phoenician Sky-God and Baalbek appears to have been an important pilgrimage site for the worshipers of the deity. Alexander conquered the city 334 BCE, and then the Romans did it again almost 300 years later.

All that is interesting, but what makes this a mysterious place? How about the Baalbek Trilithon? What is the trilithon? It’s three massive stones that are part of the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter. The stones, placed about 40 feet above ground, weigh about 1000 tons each. Below is a picture of the trilithon. They are the massive stones outlined in green. Compare them to the surrounding stones and you see just how large they are.

Mysterious Baalbek-Trilithon-Web

The next picture is a megalith from the nearby quarry that was, for whatever reason, not completed. With a person (not me) in the picture, it gives an idea of the enormous scale of the megaliths!

Mysterious 1024px-Baalbek_stone

This is what makes this a mysterious place. Not one to believe in aliens, and not discounting the ingenuity of ancient people, it does make me wonder how on earth they moved stones like this. Even with today’s technology moving the stone would be difficult. I can only marvel that 2000 plus years ago people moved it!

What do you think of these mysterious places? How do you think the people of the day in Gobekli Tepe and Baalbek accomplished these engineering feats? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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I will do some additional posts about mysterious and interesting places, so connect with me on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, or just send me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to the blog!

 

Gem Hunting in the Southeast US – Where Will I Go??

Y’all know about my gem hunting hobby and how the gemstones are such an integral part of my fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles. You also know about my favorite gemstone hunting spot in the North Georgia Mountains. You might have even read about my trip to the Hogg Mountain Mine near LaGrange, GA or the trip to Hiddenite, NC. I hope the posts inspired you to go out on your own gem hunting excursions (or at least read and review my books)! Living in the Southeast, I decided to find new places fairly close to home and consider them for a visit, or share them with y’all in case you want to make a trip! To be fair, I didn’t look at other Southeast US states likes Florida, and Mississippi and Arkansas are a bit far for me (at least for a day trip).

Today, though, I want to give you an overview of places that I have researched on the Internet and where I might have to go for a visit over the next few months. Let’s start right here in Georgia, where I found this emerald and my brother John found the peridot that I had cut and set for a birthday present for the lovely and adorable Lana!

Southeast Lana's-Emerald-Web

Southeast Lana's-Peridot-Ring-Web

 

The North Georgia Mountains have many places to hunt for gemstones (and gold, if you are so inclined).

  • Graves Mountain (Lincoln County, Georgia): According to GeorgiaEnclcyopedia.org, Graves Mountain is a unique geological area filled with some of the finest specimens of kyanite, pyrite, pyrophyllite, rutile, and lazulite. They occasionally open the site to rockhounds, and I intend to be at the next dig!
  • Consolidated Gold Mine (Dahlonega, Georgia): A great place to visit to get an idea of what it was like to dig for gold underground. You can tour the mine and will end up about 140 feet underground. At the end of the tour, you can pan for gold and screen for gems.
  • Crisson Gold Mine (Dahlonega, Georgia): Another gold mine in Dahlonega, you can pan for gold here, too. If you want to, you can sign up to be a member of the Weekend Gold Miners at Crisson Gold Mine and gain access to the leased lands operated by the Weekend Gold Miners and prospect to your heart’s content!

South Carolina:

  • Diamond Hill Mine (Antreville, SC): The website for the Diamond Hill Mine says you can find quartz, amethyst (though rare), and other gemstones. For me, it would be about a 2 hour drive. Hours are 9-5 and no digging after dark. The website has some pictures of finds at the site and they look pretty good. I think I can foresee a road trip!

North Carolina: I have to say that North Carolina offers many opportunities for gemstone exploration. I will only list a few, but do your own research and find many more!

  • Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine (Franklin, NC): This mine sounds like my kind of place. While they do offer salted buckets, they also offer the opportunity to dig your own dirt and keep what you find. I think this is a place for me! They are open from March 1 – December 1 and a day of digging will cost $30. This is about a 2 hour drive for me, so easily doable for a1 day trip.
  • Cherokee Ruby Mine (Franklin, NC): Another mine that is now offering dig your own dirt option. This one comes with a little bit of a limitation: for the dig your own option, you can fill 6 buckets for $30 and you can fill 4 additional for $10 more. They do offer a flume to wash off the stones, but the fee seems a bit high for my tastes. The hours are 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. The mine is open May 1 – October 31. The mine is also cash only.

Tennessee: Other than copper mines around Ducktown and barite mines in other areas, I couldn’t find much about gem mines in Tennessee. Any of you Tennessee readers who want to give us some ideas, it would be greatly appreciated!

Alabama: Similar to Tennessee, I couldn’t find a lot about gem mines in Alabama, though I did fond some references to gold prospecting. As with the Tennessee folks, any hints you Alabama readers could give us would be appreciated!

For states outside the Southeast, please feel free to give us ideas about gem hunting opportunities near you. I can always try to plan a trip!

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Suzuki SJ 410 – My Ride in Idaho!!

In previous posts, I talked about my path to and through Naval Nuclear Power School. I was looking through some old pictures the other day and found some pictures of Idaho Falls, and it sent me down a path of remembrance of my days in Idaho Falls, Idaho at prototype. Remembering those days reminded me of the house I lived in (the Roy House – so named for our landlord Roy), the snow, the lack of sleep, the relief of completing my qualification as a reactor operator, and the vehicle I drove to Idaho – my Suzuki SJ410.

Suzuki

For those who don’t know, the SJ410 was a small 4WD convertible. Many may remember the Suzuki Samurai that came after the SJ410, but this was the predecessor.

When I bought my SJ410, I was in Florida at Nuclear Power School. I saw the small 4WD at the dealership and decided to buy one. If I remember correctly, I paid just over $5000 for it brand spanking new! As you can see from the photos, it was red and black (UGA colors) with a white convertible top. No AC (but who needs one with a convertible), a 59.4 cu in motor (not a typo), and a ton of fun!

After Nuclear Power School, I was assigned to S1W in Idaho Falls, ID. I gathered up my seabag and a few others things, and headed west. I remember arriving in Idaho Falls on February 14th, 1985 to about 3 feet of snow. As I turned to head toward my rental house, there was a Ford F150 stuck in a snow drift. I graciously pulled the F150 from the snow bank and never even locked in 4WD. The F150 driver was grateful- but somewhat embarrassed that my little Suzuki (which he had never seen before) had to pull him out.

Working 12 hour rotating shifts didn’t leave much time for enjoying the Suzuki in the snow and ice, but my roommate had a Mustang that just didn’t fare very well in the weather, so the Suzuki became the workhorse of our house. I took it everywhere and had to park it in the driveway as the Mustang was in the garage. That meant knocking the snow and ice off the convertible top everyday so the weight wouldn’t tear the top. Here is a picture of my SJ410 parked next to a snow drift. And yes, that was the depth of the snow next to the house!

Suzuki SJ410

When summer rolled around, the top came off, and I cruised as often as I could. As the second RO to qualify, I got to change to 8 hour shifts earlier than most, and I rode a lot. Top down and radio blasting, I had a good time in the few hot days of summer. Below is a picture of the Suzuki with the top down!

Suzuki SJ410

Alas, I had to depart Idaho and report to USS Sandlance (SSN660) in Charleston, SC. I remember leaving on August 18th and it was 32 degrees that morning. I was a newly minted Reactor Operator, had a sizable reenlistment bonus, and was headed back south. When I got to Charleston, I bought an Audi 4000S (my favorite car ever). My brother John drove the Suzuki to college and he brought my beloved SJ410 to a tragic end when he totaled it.

Suzuki Wrecked 1

Suzuki Wrecked 2

I left the Navy in 1993, after 10 years of service. I married the love of my life, the lovely and adorable Lana, raised an amazing daughter, Laura, and have been blessed with 2 extraordinary grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie. My post-Navy career is brilliant, I’ve written The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series, and generally enjoyed life. I occasionally miss portions of my time in the Navy (mostly the people), and will always have a special place in my heart for the first brand new vehicle I ever owned – my Suzuki SJ410!

What was your special vehicle? A sports car? A truck? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Nana’s Cooking – The Real Deal (with a Slight Southern Accent)!!

Readers of The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series know that, in the books, Nana’s cooking, has a food blog successful enough to allow her and Beebop to retire early and purchase their mountainside home, and swings a mean frying pan! Today, though, I want to focus on the real Nana (my lovely and adorable bride Lana), and her real life food blog!

Lana started her blog on Super Bowl Sunday 2009. Neither of us were interested in the game (it was the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Arizona Cardinals, in case you were wondering – and Pittsburgh won), so she decided to start a food blog. Her career as a webmaster made it easier for her to start and she built her website from scratch. From its humble beginnings as a hobby, it has grown to be a significant presence in the food blogosphere!

What can you expect to find at www.lanascooking.com? As of today, there are more than 600 recipes with a Southern accent, nice food photography, and step by step directions on how to prepare the delicious dishes featured on the blog. Lana likes to make traditional Southern recipes. She adds her own little twist on them. She designed the site in an easily navigable manner that makes finding just the right recipe a snap! Below are a couple of examples.

Have you ever heard of Pecan Cheesecake Pie? I can tell you (as chief taste tester I have to sample each dish) that it is fantastic! Here’s a picture:

 

Nana's Cooking pecan-cheesecake-pie-final-5001

I do believe Lana channels someone’s Italian grandmother. She makes some pretty amazing Italian dishes. This was one of her recent meals and let me tell you, it was simply delicious!

Nana's Cooking Jumbo Meatballs

Lana dotes on her family, too, especially her two amazing grandchildren. As readers of my blog and my book series The Gemstone Chronicles know, Aidan and Maggie are the inspiration for two of the main characters (and Lana inspired a 3rd character, too). On her blog you will find posts about them, a couple about me, and a few other topics that she enjoys.

I could go on and on about Lana, how her blog inspired me to take a chance on publishing my books, her cooking, and the many other things about her that I adore. It will be better for you all to just visit the site. Try a few recipes, read though the blog, and discover what a great site it truly is!

Connect with me:

If you want to leave me a comment about Lana’s blog, please do. If you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com.

Lana’s connect information is on her site. Be sure to leave a comment or connect with her when you visit.

Gleanings from the Atlanta Writers Club!!

As many of my readers know, I joined the Atlanta Writers Club early this year. I have been attending the monthly meetings regularly and I have learned a ton! Each month we have a couple of guest speakers and a member minute. I try to listen closely and take notes at each session so I can take advantage of the knowledge and experience these authors are sharing.

Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from some of the meetings. I realize that many of you may already know these things, but they were new and exciting to me. Patti Callahan Henry was one of the speakers at our last meeting and here was a great takeaway for me. How do you separate from the “voices” in your head that impede your writing progress?

What Patti explained was that each of us as writers have influences in our lives that impact our stories. For instance, what if you’re writing a war scene and soldiers are fighting in hand-to-hand combat and you have to drop the F word as part of the action? And all the time you are thinking that your mother, grandmother, or preacher might read the book. So, you take it out and then put it back in and repeat the cycle. The advice given was to be true to your characters and use the word. As a writer, I understand the dilemma, and as a reader, I would rather have the characters act as they should. In short, I agree with the advice (sorry Mom).

Another interesting topic from the meeting was audiobooks. We had a representative from ListenUp Audiobooks in Atlanta give us a presentation on the process of creating an audiobook. Fascinating stuff and so much to learn about how to create my own audiobook for The Gemstone Chronicles! Inspired by the discussion, I consulted some of my author friends to see what experiences they had with their own audiobooks and decided to go for it. I just sent out my request for auditions on ACX and I hope to start hearing narrators reading The Carnelian in the next few days. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to hear it!

Atlanta Writers Club The Carnelian Cover

Other perks as a member of the Atlanta Writers Club include the opportunity to interact with agents and editors at twice yearly writer conferences, interact with the other authors who are members of the club, and have many other chances to pick the brains of talented writers from multiple genres. As a relatively new writer, these are golden opportunities to learn and grow as a writer!

This is a small sampling of what I have learned. I know I’ll continue to learn more as I attend upcoming meetings. If you are an author, what writers club(s) do you belong to and what new things have they taught you? If you’re a reader, do you go to writers club meetings to discover new authors and their works? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. As always, new friends, shares, and comments are welcome!

Shameless Self Promotion – My Truck Magnet!

If you recall from my last post, I listed a couple of new promo sites I found (ebookdiscovery.com and TheBooksMachine.com) and talked about the magnetic sign I was ordering for my truck. Well, the sign arrived yesterday and I am very pleased with how it looks! Time for shameless self promotion!

Shameless Self Promotion Truck Magnet

I’m even more please by how it looks on my truck’s tailgate! Here goes the shameless self promotion!

Shameless Shelf Promotion Magnet on Truck

I placed the sign in the middle of the tailgate and it almost blends in with the truck paint. I like the look of it!

Yes, I know that I’m going to be accused of shameless self promotion for riding around Atlanta with a sign promoting my books on the back of the truck, but I’m okay with it. After all, it really isn’t any different from a lawn service or other business advertising their business or service on their vehicles. And, as an Indie author, I don’t have publicists or other such folks doing this kind of work for me. When it comes to marketing and promotion, I’m about all I have and I have to do it on a slim budget.

I ordered my sign online and it cost about $25 for a 12 x 18 magnet (including shipping). I got it in a week or so. It was easy to do (especially since the lovely and adorable Lana did the design work for me). I took the .jpg Lana designed and scaled to the proper size, loaded it on the website (I used Vistaprint), and it was done. Easy!

Of course, I have no idea if this will work at all. I may simply be out $25. But, I figure that I pass (or get passed by) hundreds of vehicles every day to and from work and I can have the magnet attached every time I go to the mall, a bookstore, or even the hardware store. Readers are everywhere, and maybe one will take notice, read one of the books, and recommend it to others. If nothing else, I may get a few new friends on social media!

Connect with me:

Speaking of social media, if you want to connect with me, I can be found at any of the following: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I welcome comments, shares, and other blogs to follow, so don’t be shy!

What do you think of my shameless self promotion idea of the magnetic sign for my truck? Too much? Not enough? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Book Marketing Tools – The Latest Finds!!

I haven’t done an update on my book marketing tools, efforts, and new promotional finds. I have found a few new things and will be using one shortly, so I will be able to tell you how it worked out!

First, I want to talk about ebookdiscovery.com. I found the site on Twitter and checked it out. I think this will be a good resource for me! Here are some of the features:

  • Read and Review Club: I submitted my book to this feature. And I was accepted! I provided an .epub version of The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian and ebookdiscovery will offer it to up to 50 of their readers. The readers can submit the  review to any of the major ebook retailers within a couple of weeks of the offering. My offering will be July 14, so I should start seeing reviews in early August. I will let everyone know how it goes.
  • Current eBook Discovery Deals: Highlights free and bargain books
  • Subscription: emails come to your inbox with the latest deals
  • An ebook recommendation opportunity
  • Opportunity to become an ebookdiscovery.com reviewer

Check out ebookdiscovery.com! It might be just the things for authors who are looking for reviews or for readers who want to become reviewers!

Another new site to visit and check out is The Books Machine. This is not a free site, but they advertise offering up your book to thousands of potential readers for a pretty low price. This is how it works:

  • Register your book with the site and select your program
  • The author decides who gets the free review copies
  • The author must offer at least 5 copies per month, but if the author has multiple books, a combination of the books is acceptable
  • The reader has to contact the author and give a reason why they would be a good reviewer
  • Each reader has a star rating and the author gets to rate their reviewers
  • The reviewer generally has 30 days to post their review
  • The cost is $10/month, but there are discounts for longer term commitments

I haven’t tried The Books Machine, but I’m thinking it might be a nice way to pick up some reviews. After my ebookdiscovery.com run, I might give it a one month trial and see what happens!

That’s my latest update on the book marketing tools, efforts, and promotional opportunities I am currently working on for The Gemstone Chronicles. Except for one other thing I am contemplating. I think I might have a version of my bookmark turned into a magnet to attach to the tailgate of my truck and see what happens. I live in the Atlanta suburbs and my truck is seen by hundreds of drivers each day, so perhaps a reader will check it the books after seeing the information on the magnet. Here is the magnet:

Book Marketing Tools Sign-with-Layers-Small

What do you think?

Connect with me:

What new promotional and marketing opportunities have you found? What works for you? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or you email me at bill@williamlstuart.com!

 

 

 

My Next Book – And The Research Is Killing Me!!

As my many loyal readers know, I spent quite a bit of time doing research on the magical and mystical properties of gemstones for my fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles. I wanted to be sure I was true to the legendary characteristics that have fascinated people for millennia. I just think accuracy is important.

Along those lines, I have been researching (and slowly writing) my next book. It’s going to be a thriller (at least it is now – you never know where the characters will take you) that has absolutely nothing to do with gemstones, Aidan, Maggie, Nana, elves, of any of the other familiar characters from Celahir. No, this book will be set in current times and focus on a conspiracy. And part of it involves research into cool technology. Nanotechnology to be exact. And that is where the research is killing me!

Many of you know that I’m a big nerd and geek. I graduated from the US Navy’s Nuclear Power School (a kingdom of nerds and geeks if ever there was one), served aboard a nuclear powered submarine (very cool technology and engineering)and, if given the chance, will spend a day watching The Science Channel on TV. I like to read about quantum mechanics, and follow CERN on Google+. If there is going to be a black hole created during the search for the Higgs boson, I want to know about it!!

Now I’m researching nanotechnology and it appeals to my nerd/geek side. When I start reading about the technology, I want to keep reading about it. What exactly is nanotechnology? According to our friends over at Wikipedia, a general definition is the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers. The definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum realm scale. What does all that mean? A nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a meter. By comparison, a DNA helix is 2 nm in diameter. Or, for you chemistry fans, the carbon-carbon bond lengths or the spacing between the atoms in a molecule is 0.12 – 0.15 nm. We are talking small!!

How does this fit into the research for my next book? As I mentioned above, nanotechnology figures prominently in the story. I can’t tell you much as it would be a spoiler, but I can describe some of the areas of nanotechnology research.  Nanomaterials include carbon nanotubes that can be used to make stain resistant fibers, nanopillars that can be used in solar cells (and help lower the cost of traditional silicon cells), and nanoparticles that can possibly be used for displays, solar cells, lighting, and other such applications.

Medical research with nanotechnology is also progressing. Ideas of using nanomachines to fight disease, cure illnesses, and other such possibilities are mind-boggling. Imagine a tiny machine that destroys cancer and then disappears. It could be possible in the near future.

But, I digress (as always happens when I do research). Nanotechnology isn’t the focus of this post. It was supposed to be about how research distracts me from writing my next book. I guess the key is discovering how much research is enough! I’m not writing historical fiction, so I think if I can get the gist of the idea across, that may be enough. On that note, I think I will try to stay away from the internet and do some writing!

Does research distract you from your writing? If not, what distractions do you encounter and how do you deal with them? Leave me a comment and let me know! I might be able to avoid some of them in the future!! 🙂

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Want to connect with me? I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+ or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to connecting with you.

Inspirations and Ideas for My Books (or What Do I Write About)!

One of the more interesting questions I get asked when someone discovers I have written 4 novels is where I got the inspirations or the ideas. For The Gemstone Chronicles, it’s a very easy answer, but for my latest WIP, the inspirations and the ideas came from an entirely different source. I will talk about them separately below.

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, although I can’t remember the first book I read. Money earned from my paper route in Lakewood, Colorado bought every single Hardy Boy book available at the time (early to mid-70s). I bought Nancy Drew books, Alfred Hitchcock and the 3 Investigators, and a myriad of others. The Science Fiction Book Club got a lot of my money. I read Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Roger Zelazny, Isaac Asimov, Terry Brooks, Stephen Donaldson, Ursula K. LeGuin, and the list goes on and on.

Why do I mention that? Well, as many of you know, I developed a fascination with gemstones after moving to North Georgia in 2007. While out hunting gemstones one summer afternoon, my grandson, Aidan, and I were discussing the “magical” and “mystical” properties of gems. Aidan, who loves playing World of Warcraft and similar games, told me I should write a book about gemstones, elves, and magic. Though I hadn’t aspired to be a writer, I agreed I would write a book. I knew a few things about world building from my reading of the authors mentioned above, I love to read fantasy, and I already had a plan on what to write. Thus, I had my ideas and my inspirations and the series was born! I even incorporated the gemstones on the covers of the books.

Inspirations and Ideas The Carnelian Cover

On the cover is the carnelian (first gem in the Elven Bow) along with the stones in the hilt of the Elven Sword, which include a sapphire, a garnet, and aquamarine, and a topaz. You can read all about the gemstones on the cover here.

It did take some time to research which gems would be integral to the story and which would have minor roles. I wanted to have gems with unique properties and I wanted the gems to tie to the personalities of the characters. This meant, of course, that I could draw inspirations and ideas from them. A win-win!

For my current WIP, I used to watch a program on History Channel called Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. One of the episodes was about the Georgia Guidestones. Lana, my lovely and adorable bride, and I visited the Guidestones one sunny afternoon and I came away with new inspirations and ideas for my next book. The Guidestones are mysterious. and have a fascinating history behind them. The stones are the subject of conspiracy theories and have been almost since the day they were erected. They lend themselves very nicely to what I have in mind. The book will be unlike The Gemstone Chronicles. It is a thriller (or at least it is now…who knows how things will change during the writing process).

This got me wondering what other writers use for inspirations and ideas? Do they get ideas from listening to the news? Do they have hobbies or interests that lead them down a certain literary path? Is it a current event? Something they witnessed or lived through? Ideas raised by other writers? All of the above? If you are a writer, please tell me what gave you the inspirations and ideas for your own works. I would love to hear about them!

Connect with me:

As always, I enjoy connecting with readers, writers, and anyone else who wants to leave me a comment. I can be found on Twitter, Google +, Facebook, and I can be emailed at bill@williamlstuart.com!

If you’ve read any of The Gemstone Chronicles, leave me a comment and let me know how you liked the books. If you want to let the world know what you thought, leave me a review on Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, BookLikes, or Shelfari! I look forward to hearing from you!

Gemstone Hunting Secrets – The Process Revealed!!

Gemstone hunting! One of my absolute favorite pastimes and one that led to the writing of The Gemstone Chronicles. I have talked about it in previous posts and even posted some pictures from the trips. Today, though, I want to walk you through the steps I go through when I pursue this hobby of mine! Yes, my gemstone hunting secrets revealed!

All of the pictures were taken by me on Sunday, March 15 at my favorite spot, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ in Cleveland, GA. If you have read any of my previous posts on this topic, you already know some of this, but let me summarize for new readers. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ is part of a commercial gold mine in the North Georgia Mountains. The property was part of the Loud Mine and continues to produce gold today.

For gold prospectors and gem enthusiasts, it is a great place to go for a fun (and sometimes profitable) visit. The site offers buckets and a covered sluice for sifting through the dirt to uncover treasures. They also offer mining at the creek – which is my favorite part. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ puts dirt dug from the mine pit next to the creek that runs through the property. Diggers can then fill buckets with dirt from the pile, take it to the creek, and sift through it. Whatever you find, you get to take home!

When we arrived (we being my brother John, his daughter Simone, and me) on Sunday morning, we had a fresh pile of dirt to dig through. However, it was wet and heavy dirt from recent rains, and it made for some heavy buckets!

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Dirt Pile

Our process is to fill 5 gallon buckets with dirt from the pile and lug the buckets down to the creek. Trust me when I say that after 4 hours of toting buckets of dirt, you will be pretty tired! Here are my 4 buckets ready to be screened.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Buckets of Dirt

I like to stack my screening boxes on top of one of the buckets and fill from another bucket. Why? Because I can let the dirt sift through the screens and sift out larger rocks. This way, by the time I get to the last bucket, I have some sifted dirt I can put into my sluice box. More on that in a minute. First, I wanted to show how the boxes look when full of dirt and placed in the creek to begin the washing process.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Screening boxes

I try to let the creek do most of the work in the process. I tilt the boxes up on each other to get good water flow through the dirt. Most of the dirt simply washes away and leaves a box full of rocks. In the box below, I found a pretty sizable ruby. It’s always a bonus to find something so easily!

 

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Screen Box with Ruby Outlined

As I mentioned above, I like to work through all the buckets and then dump the sifted dirt into my sluice box. It isn’t necessary to sift it first, but with the sluice box, it makes it easier to run dirt through. Below is a picture of the sluice box in the creek. If there is any gold in the dirt, it will either catch on the black mat or get caught in the green carpet.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Sluice Box

Once the dirt is run through the sluice, I rinse the carpet off in a bucket and then dump the contents of the bucket into my gold pan. I didn’t find any gold on this day, but I have found a few flakes before. It’s a bonus when you find the gold!

So, what did I find during my first gemstone hunting trip of the year? I found a few nice rocks, but the take wasn’t as good as some trips. Nevertheless, any day of gemstone hunting is a great day! Here are the results. The first picture is some of the gemstones I found.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets March 15 gemstones

From the upper left moving clockwise, we have rubies, garnets, quartz, citrine, and aventurine. Remember the ruby in the picture above, well, here is another view. The scale is set for grams, so doing the conversion, the stone is about 35 carats. Unfortunately, I don’t think this one would be a candidate for faceting, so it isn’t worth much. I still like it, though.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Big Ruby

There you have the process we use to hunt for gemstones. I did find a smaller ruby (about 20 carats) that I plan on sending to my gem cutter to see if it is a good stone. When a stone is cut, you lose about 75% in the cutting process, but, if the stone is a good one, I could end up with a 5 carat ruby. Not bad for $15 visit!

What do you think about our process? It really isn’t secret, but it is tons of fun! Any suggestions on making it more efficient? If you hunt gemstones, what do you do and where do you go? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.  can also be reached by email at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to meeting you!