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January 20, 2019 - Snow!

Last night, we had our first major snowstorm for this winter. The weather forecast had predicted 8 to 12 inches and people flocked to the store to buy milk, cereal, bread, and other supplies. Last night when I went to bed, we had received only about 2 inches. This morning, the story is different. I can look out my window and see a drift at least knee-deep. The plow has been up our street and the end of my driveway is blocked off by a wall of snow. Soon, when the sun begins to make an appearance, I will begin the process of clearing off the driveway. I also do our neighbors, especially because one is in her 80's and recently lost her husband.

I grew up in Minnesota and I can easily recall enjoying the winter. We would go outside in our snowsuits and build snow forts, tunnels in the snow, snowmen, and something we invented -- snow mazes. When I turned 14, I got my snowmobile license and then I could go snowmobiling. Those days are now gone as the amount of snowfall in recent decades has not even come close to what I remember as a child. Can people these days imagine snow deep enough to dig tunnels through! I don't know how much we actually got so far because of the drifting but even after last night's major snowstorm, it's not deep enough for even a child to build a tunnel.

This sudden shift in weather reminds me about a world-building tip that every author needs to be aware of. If you have a planet that can support life, then you most likely can't have a 'water planet' or a 'desert world' or a 'forest moon'. Planets (and moons large enough to retain an atmosphere) will always have a variable climate. Earth's climate is caused by its axial tilt. Tip it to far and you have a world of harsh extremes. Tip it closer to being upright and now you have a world with a more even climate but one that changes with latitude. The equator would be burning up and the poles would be a frozen wasteland.

The point is, if you need to set your story in a forest, chose a location on a planet that is close to an ocean and near the planet's equator. If you need to be in a frozen landscape, your choices are to chose winter in a location where the climate changes, the poles of a planet, or a world that is too far away from its sun to keep it warm. In the later case, only a thin band near the equator would be warm enough to support much life. If the equators are cold, imagine how cold the poles would be!

I've been doing some writing and the next Peacekeeper book is about 1/4 of the way done. I'm going to get some more written this morning until the sun starts to show itself and then I will be out in the snow playing with my snowblower and shoveling.

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