March 29, 2001
By day David Dun is a 51-year-old mild-mannered Eureka business attorney. At night and on weekends he writes thriller-romance novels for fun.
Make that "for fun and profit" because next week his first novel, a $6.99 paperback original called Necessary Evil, will hit bookstands throughout the United States. Dun will receive an industry standard 50-80 cents for each book sold.
For an author, especially an unknown, it's the equivalent of coming out of the bleachers and hitting a home run on your first at-bat in the major leagues.
"In the thriller genre, there are probably less than 500 books published nationally per year -- probably less than 350. But most of those spots will be taken by already existing authors" such as David Grisham, Dean Koontz and Tom Clancy.
"There just aren't that many publishers for the mass markets," Dun said in an interview last week.
A mass-market publisher (Dun's is Pinnacle Books) has to publish enough books to reach all major stores and outlets -- from the bookstores like Barnes & Noble to Costco to online booksellers like Amazon.com -- on the exact same day.
In Dun's case, that magic release date is April 3. Although the initial press run was 100,000-125,000, Pinnacle will watch sales daily after the release and can reprint and ship more paperbacks to stores within five days.
Dun, whose clients include Security National Partners in Eureka and Sierra Pacific Industries in Redding, said he is enjoying the notoriety -- the book will be promoted in USA Today and he now has his own personal website -- but his success was not overnight.
"I was pretty ignorant (of the publishing business)," he said. "About seven or eight years ago, I just sat down and started writing with no real experience or knowledge of the writing craft."
His first book, which Dun calls an attempt at dramatic fiction, did not sell. But in his attempts to market it, the book attracted an agent who later referred him to an editor. Dun said once he began making good contacts in the industry, he began learning more about the ins and outs of fiction writing.
"I've probably had more than 25 formal rejections," he said, before getting lucky. "My first book, none of the major publishers would look at it, which is pretty typical." Eventually he found his own agent and hired an editor.
"As my writing improved I got access to people with more information," he said. "I needed someone to teach me the ABCs -- how to write a scene, create a sense of place."
Dun said he learned what he was good at (pop fiction, suspense) and what he was not as good at -- literary fiction, which he defines as "rich in character development and creating the sense of place ... like, Snow Falling on Cedars.
"My second book (Necessary Evil) I tried to write down the middle of the (thriller) genre," he said. And it sold. In fact, his contract with Pinnacle is for three books, the second is already written and scheduled for release next year.
Is it serious fiction?
"No," Dun said. "It's the kind of book you can read while you're babysitting, ironing and watching TV."
Necessary Evil is set in Northern California and has two main characters, a male Native American veterinarian who is big on survival skills and a female FBI agent from New York who is not. The plot involves a plane crash, some people with bullet holes in their heads, a missing volume, frozen nitrogen, disease organisms for every malady known to man ...
Well, the Journal certainly doesn't want to reveal the plot.
-- reported by Judy Hodgson
The battle over medical marijuana under Proposition 215 has been fought all over the state -- including here in Humboldt County, where growers claiming to be legal have had their plants destroyed by law enforcement officials.
That fight took a road trip to Washington, D.C., this week -- and it might not be coming back. The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in a case between the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and the U.S. Justice Department March 29.
In 1999 the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals held that even though federal law prohibited pot, medical necessity could outweigh those laws. A ruling that federal prohibitions on the drug preempt the state's law, seen by many legal experts as likely, would make all cannabis centers in the state illegitimate.
It's hard to say which is more nerve-wracking -- maneuvering your car through pedestrians in the streets around the Arcata Plaza during the popular Saturday farmers' markets or almost dodging cars as you walk to that great artichoke stand down the street.
Score one for the pedestrians. The Arcata City Council voted last week to close the streets surrounding the Plaza during the markets. The closure will last from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays from mid-April to Thanksgiving.
An air traffic survey confirmed that there are a lot more planes flying in and out of the county airport in McKinleyville than federal regulators previously believed -- even more than the Redding airport.
As a result the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKin-leyville is being upgraded to Class C from Class D and will be awarded a control tower and air traffic controllers paid by the federal government.
Airport boosters have been battling against full automation of the airport by the Federal Aviation Administration which includes the replacement of human weather observers with an automated system based in Portland.
While the duties of controllers are not the same as weather observers, the tower operation should substantially improve safety conditions.
The airport, built during World War II to train military pilots, is plagued by changeable weather conditions and other problems such as deer on the runway.
Although the FAA will pay to staff the tower, the county is responsible for construction and maintenance. A temporary tower-trailer for controllers will be used until construction is complete.
On a rare 3-2 vote, county supervisors nixed a plan to have neutral observers at timber demonstrations.
The motion by Supervisor Paul Kirk and backed by Supervisors Bonnie Neely and Roger Rodoni killed a 1999 arrangement worked out by the Human Rights Commission and Sheriff Dennis Lewis. A second motion by the three put the board on record opposing Sen. Wesley Chesbro's bill to expand the scope of commissions to permit such programs.
Supervisors John Woolley and Jimmy Smith dissented.
The program was developed between the sheriff and commission members as a means to reduce the chances of violence at demonstrations and to provide unbiased witnesses in case protesters charge officers with brutality. It was temporarily suspended last March over liability and insurance questions.
In the 1960s human rights commissions were established to address issues of racial and religious discrimination. An aide to Chesbro said the bill, which would expand the capacity of county commissions to other areas of conflict involving human rights, will move forward. It is scheduled for a hearing in Sacramento April 24.
A state of emergency declared two weeks ago by Gov. Gray Davis means that Rio Dell will receive 100 percent funding to establish a temporary water source. City officials hope to be able to connect to Pacific Lumber Co.'s water tank in Scotia, which will cost $250,000.
The state action also cleared the way for 70 percent funding of a permanent solution to the water crisis -- tapping a reservoir deep beneath the Eel River -- which city officials hope to begin by summer.
A mandatory water reduction program was instituted in September after one of three wells failed in June. A new well drilled since then has also failed.
The Eureka City Council voted unanimously last week to send a controversial proposal -- which would reroute some traffic off Broadway and through the Palco Marsh -- to the California Transportation Commission and the Humboldt County Association of Governments. If those agencies concur, an environmental review could begin as early as October.
The plan, which recommends extending Waterfront Drive to Hilfiker Avenue and includes bicycle lanes, sidewalks and a trail for hikers, drew vocal opposition at the council meeting last week.
Objections were heard from representatives of the Audubon Society, Sierra Club, California Department of Fish and Game and the California Coastal Conservancy.
The conservancy granted funds to the city last year for the restoration of the Palco marsh property.
Sen. Wesley Chesbro will be seated on the nine-member Senate Select Committee to Investigate Price Manipulation in the Wholesale Energy Market at its first hearing next week in Sacramento.
"Questions are mounting that market manipulation by power generators is a significant factor in the energy problems California has faced," said Senate President Pro Tem John Burton in a news release announcing committee members.
"FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has left us high and dry on this issue, and the state has to take the lead and find out who is responsible for the price gouging which has devastated ratepayers," Chesbro said.
Chris Gallagher, a 21-year veteran of the Watsonville Police Department in Santa Cruz County, was named Arcata's police chief last week. He will replace Mel Brown, who retired at the end of last year after 28 years with the department.
Gallagher is a graduate of San Jose State University, has a master's degree in public administration from Golden Gate University and is a graduate of the FBI's National Academy.
The League of Women Voters of Humboldt County will host the 10th Annual State of the Community Luncheon Friday, April 6, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Eureka Inn.
Sandra Vrem, mathematics professor at College of the Redwoods, will be the keynote speaker on the topic, "A well rounded electoral college." Gail Dryden, president of LWV of California, will give remarks and John Woolley, chair of the Humboldt county Board of Supervisors, will deliver a "state of the county" address.
The theme of the luncheon is "Making democracy work." The League's Year 2001 Civic Contributions Awards will be given to Ron Perry, social science teacher at Eureka High School, and KEET-TV, Channel 13, the North Coast's Public Broadcast System affiliate.
For tickets and reservations, call 443-2855.
Even though the stock markets have the jitters, employment in Humboldt, the state and nation held steady in February, according to the most recent statistics.
Humboldt had an unemployment rate of 7 percent, up slightly from 6.9 percent in January but ahead of last February's seasonally adjusted rate of 7.5 percent.
The February rate for California was 4.9 percent and for the nation was 4.6 percent, down slightly from the previous month's 4.4 percent for the state and 3.7 percent for the national rate.
Humboldt ranks 27th -- about midpoint -- of the 58 counties. Marin County has the lowest rate with 1.6 percent of its work force unemployed, Sonoma is fifth with 2.5 percent and Mendocino is 30th with 7.7 percent.
A $2.3 billion park and open space bond issue introduced by Sen. Wesley Chesbro was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee last week and moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"California has a huge unmet need for safe parks and playgrounds. As our population grows, we need to set aside space and provide the funds for state and local parks," Chesbro said in a news release.
The bill provides for a range of programs including $700 million for new state parks and maintenance of existing ones. The bond provides a similar amount for local cities and counties for recreational programs and parks, including $200 million for historic preservation and $650 million for open space and wildlife habitat protection.
If approved by the Legislature, the bond will be placed on the 2002 ballot.
Assemblymember Virginia Strom-Martin was named legislator of the year last week by the California Industrial and Technology Education Association, representing teachers of vocational education.
"When a shop student calculates the slope of a roof, he has a lesson in geometry he won't soon forget. And when a home economics student studies fabric context, the student learns science principles that are meaningful and relevant," said Strom-Martin, a former teacher, in accepting the award.
Later in the week the legislator attended the quarterly meeting of the Humboldt County School Superintendents in Eureka, toured the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology at Humboldt State University and travelled to Crescent City for the Aleutian Goose Festival.
Pat Hassen wants a skate park. Not for herself, exactly. The 62-year old McKinleyville resident has arthritic knees that curtail her athletic endeavors.
But Hassen has three grandsons -- ages 12, 13 and 15 -- and all love to skateboard, rollerblade and ride their scooters. And they don't have anyplace to go in McKinleyville except the few neighborhoods with sidewalks.
That may soon change. Hassen acts as treasurer for the McKinleyville Skate Park Committee and said that the group's monthly meetings have begun to draw as many as 40 people. The board of the McKinleyville Community Services District expressed its support for the project Feb. 8 and a potential location in Hiller Park has been chosen.
Why is the park necessary when Arcata has a relatively new one?
"This is going to be different," Hassen said. It will be bigger and have separate sections for different skill levels so that younger skaters don't get in the way of more experienced ones.
Another difference, she said, is that the park would include some facilities for BMX bike riders. Riders would be allowed on some of the concrete and the park would have dirt mounds especially for the bikes.
Hassen said construction will cost around $300,000. She said the committee plans on asking contractors to donate time to the construction, but even with volunteer help, it won't be cheap.
"We'll still have to get money for cement and stuff like that," she said.
Donations can be sent to McKinleyville Skate Park Fund, 2975 Fortune St., McKinleyville 95519 and Humboldt Recycling and Sanitation is accepting recyclables for the effort.
Black bears love people food. They'll climb, dig and fight for a taste of peanut butter -- but it can eventually kill them.
That's one reason why the King Range National Conservation Area is asking that backpackers on the Lost Coast take the extra precaution of storing food in bear-resistant canisters.
The bears along the Lost Coast have become increasingly aggressive and clever, getting at food even when it is hung in a tree. If allowed to get at food, the bears will learn to view humans as a potential source of sustenance. Such bears must eventually be moved or destroyed, as they constitute a danger to human beings.
The canisters can be rented at either end of the Lost Coast Trail. Call the Bureau of Land Management's Arcata Field Office at 825-2300 for more information.
If you've spent six months in France, Portugal or Ireland from 1980 through 1996, you may not be able to donate blood because of possible exposure to a deadly disease.
The Blood Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration has recommended that the administration order blood banks to stop accepting donations from people who lived in those countries because of the risk of spreading Kreuzfeld-Jakobs disease, the human version of Mad Cow disease. It is not yet clear how large the danger to people who lived in those countries is, but without a good test for the disease, the committee is deciding safe is better than sorry.
The administration has yet to act on that recommendation, but if it is accepted, it could mean a huge loss to the already tight U.S. blood supply.
"There is a growing shortage of blood in the U.S.," said Tom Schallert, administrator of the Blood Bank of the Northern California, which serves Humboldt County. Schallert said the North Coast doesn't yet face any problems, because of the "extremely loyal donor base."
"But the reality is that as more and more safety measures are implemented, ... and usage goes up, we will eventually have a problem."
-- reported by Judy Hodgson and Arno Holschuh
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© Copyright 2001, North Coast Journal, Inc.