Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Santa Train (Southwest VA, KY, and TN)

Here's a look at a wonderful tradition that occurs every year in the hills and hollows of southwest Virginia. Thank you to CXS and other sponsors!

I'll write more later,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fluorite in the Treasure Room

Hello from Grandpa's Attic!

Our school is already out for Thanksgiving break, so I got up extra early today and rode the elevator down to the kitchen to grab a frozen waffle, then I hopped back in and rode up to the fourth floor where Grandpa has his fabulous collection. My little brother, Mica, is still asleep and the last thing I want to do is wake him up so he can ruin my absolutely perfect morning. He annoys me to death all the time. OMG, he's soooo immature!

I love it up here in Grandpa's Attic, aka the Treasure Room! It's a room on top of our underground house that is carved up into the mountain. A few years ago Grandpa had to paint the natural stone ceiling to keep the moisture out of here. So, I asked for a night sky mural. And Mica, with the only good idea he's ever had, thought we should paint the stars with glow-in-the-dark paint. It's pretty cool, although I won't be in here in the dark, alone. If Grandpa, or Mom and Dad aren't up here, I'm not turning off a perfectly good light! There are just a few too many creepy stones and artifacts in here mixed in with the rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Some of them I have yet to figure out. I teach geology classes at the local university so I know a thing or two about rocks and minerals. But Grandpa has some freaky stuff up here, I mean, things that probably shouldn't even exist. Whenever I ask him about them, he just says they were acquired during his youth. Okay, fine, but do you think maybe he could tell me where he acquired them?? For some reason, he never has much to say when I try to find out about the odd pieces of the collection. It's like he knows — but he's not talking. But then, grown-ups are weird.

I brought a tray of fluorite crystals over here to the desk so I could look for one to have made into a necklace. I really need a new necklace. Fluorite is the crystalline form of calcium fluoride. Interestingly, it is also the Illinois state mineral. Its name comes from the Latin fluere which means "to flow." Now, I know what you're thinking - crystals don't flow. But fluorite melts easily, hence the name. The mineral comes in many colors depending on which other elements are formed with it. My favorite fluorite color is purple, I guess, because it looks so much like another one of my favorites, amethyst (which is actually a variety of quartz).

Here is a link to more info on fluorite:

Oh, snap! I hear the wooden staircase creaking ever so slightly. I already know it's Mica for three reasons:
1) the creaking is slight, so the person is light
2) the person on the staircase is trying to be sneaky like a brat, and is tip-toeing
3) Mica prefers the spiral stairs to the elevator

Anyway, it was fun while it lasted. I'm logging off of here and heading down into the cavern - on the elevator!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Maddy's Conducting a Cavern Tour

I'm giving a tour of our backyard cavern this coming weekend, and I was just making some notes on the talk I'll be giving during the tour. Here is a link to one of the resources I've found for great cave information:

I have several major topics on my cave tour. The most important one is cave safety, but the most fun one is speleothems. Speleothems are the different types of formations found in caves. I try to include information on the science behind how speleothems are formed. Also, I remind everyone on the tour not to touch the formations because the oils in our skin create a barrier on the formations and prevent them from growing.

We have lots of awesome speleothems down in our family's backyard cavern. My very favorite one of all is called "cave popcorn." Check out the link below for a great picture of cave popcorn.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

We had a blast!

Halloween was a blast!

Grandpa Rocky had a haunted party planned down at the abandoned rock quarry he used to operate on the edge of town. And crazier yet, my mom and dad were able to keep it a secret from me and my brother. They had decorated the place with moving, colored spotlights that were shining onto the quarry 's rock walls and making the minerals sparkle like glitter. I could see the light beams shooting into the sky and reflecting off of the clouds while I was in town and I thought aliens had landed.

No one in Cavern City knew anything about the party until just before dark when signs started turning up all over town on store fronts and lamp posts telling of the party. There was a map and everything! By the time Mica and I got down there, the place was really rocking. There was a lot of food and pop, a big screen tv with video games to play, good music, and a dance floor where my pet gopher, Digby, was actually trying to dance. He's a crazy little fur ball!!

I guess my parents are pretty okay for old people. They're in their thirties, you know.

And the best part of it all? Jacin was nowhere to be seen. I guess having to read the map and follow instructions was too much of a challenge for him. Part of me wants to feel sorry for him, but then I remember how mean he is and the feeling quickly goes away.


Thursday, October 29, 2009


Galloping grape groundhogs! It's Halloween time in Cavern City.

I like trick-or-treating, but not for the candy. I like it because when I'm wearing a costume, I can walk all over town and nobody knows it's me—not even Jacin.

Jacin Means is a terror who just happens to be in the fifth grade with me. He pesters me constantly at school and everywhere else for that matter. At least on Halloween night, I can walk right past him and he'll never know it's me. I wish I could do that every day.

The only problem is Mom will insist I drag Mica around with me on Halloween night. Having him with me is a dead give-away. Mica is particularly short for his age, and even if he's in costume, most people here in Cavern City will know it's him. A thinking person would realize that I am probably the one with Mica, but I'm counting on Jacin not being a thinking person. He rarely thinks.

I'll let you know how it goes . . .


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Availability

The Krybosian Stairpath is available in the bookstore at:

You can also find it at:
and other online retailers.

The Kindle version is available in the Kindle store at .

You can also order online by clicking the picture at the top right. That's me and my little brother and Onyx on our way down the stairpath that appeared in my family's cavern.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More to come . . .

Due to some galavanting around the globe, posts here have been delayed. More to come soon . . .

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mystery to Solve

Ugh! Does anyone else endure the endless torment of an eight-year-old brother constantly prowling around? Good grief! Mica is driving me nuts. What really annoys me is that he enjoys doing it so much.

I decided to come down here to the public library to spend some uninterrupted research time online, since I know my little brother wouldn't dream of stepping foot in here. He never gets past the video arcade anyhow.

I've got several big mysteries to solve, and one of them is here in my hand. I sure wish you could see this rock. I got it from the super-awesome treasure room that we call Grandpa's Attic. It's an odd looking piece of a crystal called chalcedony, also known as bloodstone. This one is mostly green with red flecks scattered about. One edge is jagged like it's been broken, but I don't care. I fell in love with it when I first noticed it last summer—so, I begged Grandpa to put it on a necklace for me. At first, he got really weird about it. Eventually, he agreed and I've been wearing it ever since.

I know this sounds a little crazy, but sometimes the bloodstone heats up. For no reason, it just starts getting warmer and warmer. One day after school, I was walking down the sidewalk to the town library when I felt it starting to heat up. I thought it was going to burn a hole in my neck! But then, just as quickly as it had gotten hot, it returned to normal.

I'm still trying to figure it out. I hate not knowing something. And this just doesn't make sense. I don't have a lot of demands and expectations for this world, but I do expect for things to make sense! As Caverns City's youngest geology professor, I'm familiar with all of the minerals on earth, including chalcedony. But, not this piece of chalcedony. I knew it was special when I first saw it. It's like it called out to me . . .

Here is a link I found to a picture of a chalcedony bloodstone.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hey! It's me, Madison!

Hey, guys! My name is Madison Terrence, but my friends call me Maddy. Sometimes I even let Mica, my irritating little brother, call me Maddy. We live in a cool underground house that my Grandpa Rocky built in western Virginia. You can't tell it from the street, but it's a four-story mansion. I like that it's hidden. Sometimes I wish I was hidden. Whether it's the mysterious weirdness down at Grandpa's old rock quarry, or my personal curse, being able to remember everything I've ever seen or read, there is always someone in Cavern City ragging on me about it.

Anyway, back to my house. It's built into the side of a mountain, so all you can see from the street is the flat front of a rock-sided house appearing to only have an upstairs and a downstairs. Everything else is hidden underground, with the fourth floor carved up into the rock, and the bottom floor dug down into the earth. You probably think, with my house being built into a mountain, that I don't have a back yard to hang out in. Not true. I have the best backyard in town!

It's a huge-mongous limestone cavern that is four stories tall, just like our house. And it's from the top floor of the house where you can get the best view of The Grand Hall and it's wonderful speleothems. Mica hates when I use the proper term for cave formation, but speleothems is what they are. I would know, since I teach geology classes at the nearby university. But that's only on the weekends. Since I'm 11-years-old, I still have to deal with the fifth grade during the week.

The entire top floor of the house is Grandpa's Attic, a treasure room filled from floor to ceiling with some pretty wild stuff that he's collected since he was young. That's a lot of collecting! I spend a lot of time up there exploring the cabinets, racks, and shelves of rocks, minerals, fossils, and some really weird artifacts that I still haven't figured out yet.

More about the treasure room next time . . . gotta run . . . my obnoxious brother just pushed his way in here . . .


Monday, August 24, 2009

The Krybosian Stairpath

My first novel, The Krybosian Stairpath, will be published this fall. It is the first in a series of middle-grade novels featuring a brilliant young heroine named Madison Terrence. She is a fifth-grader during the week, and teaches college geology classes on the weekends.

Madison will be posting updates here on her life, her world, and the world of Krybos.