Greetings, and best wishes in the name of Breath Giver, the Creator of all things. I am Black Shell, of the Chief Clan, of the Chicaza nation… although it’s been years since they threw me out. To my family and clan I am an outcast, effectively dead. For a while it bothered me. But who wants to be a high chief and spend all their life atop a mound dealing with pettry tribal politics? Instead, I’m a Trader, traveling with my dog pack from nation to nation. At least, I was until I headed south in search of the strange invaders from the sea. There I met my wife, Pearl Hand, and got captured by the Adelantado, Hernando de Soto. That’s a long story. You can read about it when CONTACT: THE COMING STORM is published in February 2010 by these new guys at Pocket Books. They remind me of the kind of people traders value: the ones who are pleasant to sit around and visit with, and don’t try and foist some cheap shell off as being as valuable as something like copper. Traders wouldn’t be traders if they weren’t smart. But I’m digressing, which happens with any good storyteller. I’m writing because I read the entry by my not-so-humble ancestor, Green Snake. The one you know as Trader from PEOPLE OF THE WEEPING EYE and PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER. Granted, he lived almost two hundred years before I did–and the stories told about him would make you think he was more ancestral spirit than mortal man. But reading his entry was a revelation. Maybe not so much a revelation as traveling to the Underworld, or being eaten by Horned Serpent, but that’s all in THE COMING STORM. No, what I mean is that if characters are stuck with down time, why can’t they write a blog entry? See, that’s my point. I’m supposed to be smack in the middle of my fight with de Soto and his Kristiano invaders, the very future of my world hanging by a thread, and what happens? Mike and Kathy drop everything, leave me, Pearl Hand, Blood Thorn, and all the dogs, and ride off on their motorcycle for Atlanta! And for what reason? Just to give a presentation to a bunch of archaeologists at the Society for American Archaeology. What do characters with need archaeology? We’ve lived it. Oh, sure, Mike and Kathy will tell you that they’re researching, riding along the same route de Soto took north to Chiquitacofi, and back toward Mabila. They’ll tell you that they want to see the ancestral Coosa lands on the upper Tennessee. Pearl Hand and I know it’s just an excuse to go ride that trail they call Deal’s Gap, or the Dragon’s Tail. Maybe next time they go off to drink beer, hobnob, and socialize with a bunch of archy’s they’ll be sure to unplug the computer first. After all, you never know what a crafty character, especially a trader with my reputation can accomplish. Oh, I know, as you’ll find out in THE COMING STORM, first book in the CONTACT:THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA series, our fight with de Soto didn’t start out so well. And in the second book, we’ve got to follow de Soto to Mabila, and what happens there… Huh, let’s put it like this: It ain’t gonna be pretty. I know what’s going to happen, so I can’t spill the corn cakes yet. Meanwhile, we’ll just have to wait for them to ride that big BMW motorcycle down to Atlanta and back. That’s tough for me. I’m still trying to get my head around things like thunder sticks, iron armor, and cabayos. How do you fathom something like a motorcycle? It will never beat a good pack of dogs for tansporting goods. That will be enough for now. I’m going back to my own computer and working hard to figure out just how I can send some more of de Soto’s soldados to their just desserts in Paraiso. May Water Panther never bargain for your souls. Black Shell, of the Chicaza.