Mr. M’s Lost Sample: Pure Gold

Pure Gold was one of the early samples that Mr. M collected on his trips through the Crystal Cave. When he and Max hopped into the cave aiming for the California Gold Rush they never realized how hard it would be to collect a nice, large sample of solid gold. During the Gold Rush, the gold that the miners found in California was mostly in the form of chips, flakes, and nuggets. These small samples just would not due for Mr. M and his fabulous rock and mineral collection!

When Mr. M and Max traveled in the 1851, they landed in the American South Fork River, just like Emma and Brody on their adventure in Rusher’s Gold. Luckily for Max and Mr. M, no one saw their crash-landing…or so they thought. Rusher was actually standing along the edge of the forest near the bend in the river and saw them fall from the sky with their fluffy white dog, Aspen.

As Max and Mr. M hunted through the river for larger pieces of gold, Rusher confronted them and asked how they fell out of the sky. To their surprise, Rusher believed their explanation about the magical crystal cave and agreed to help them find the samples they wanted for their collection. In Rusher’s Gold, you learn how Rusher helped Mr. M and Max collect their extra-large samples of gold!

Gold Facts

Gold is a precious metal that is only one element, unlike many of Mr. M’s other mineral samples, which are made of more than one element. Gold is considered a native element, a metal, and a mineral.


  • Color:  Gold
  • Luster:  Metallic
  • Streak:  Gold, Rich Yellow
  • Cleavage:  None
  • Hardness:  2.5 – 3
  • Special Properties: Malleable (can bend easy)

Similar Minerals

Two minerals look very similar to gold at first glance. These minerals are pyrite and chalcopyrite and are often called “Fools Gold” because they look so similar to real gold; however, their properties are very different. The way to tell pyrite and chalcopyrite from real gold is the streak color, weight (specific gravity), and hardness. Real gold has a gold colored streak and is very soft and heavy. Pyrite and chalcopyrite have a greenish-gray streak, are harder than real gold and are lighter in weight. Gold has a higher specific gravity which means that equally sized pieces of gold will be heavier than pyrite and chalcopyrite. In Rusher’s Gold, the kids find that the best gold samples are hidden in piles of useless pyrite. Do you think they will be able to tell the difference and help Mr. M rebuild his collection? Keep reading to find out!

Rusher’s Gold is available everywhere great books are sold. Find your favorite store here:

For fun insight into the Crystal Cave Adventures and to get a copy of the free prequel novella, Viktor’s Ice, join my book club today.

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Black’s Opal: Never Cross Your Own Path Is Now Available!

Black's OpalI’m thrilled to announce that Book 3 in the Crystal Cave Adventures series, Black’s Opal, is now available everywhere you find great books. In this book, Emma and Brody travel to Lightning Ridge, Australia in 1925 and search for the rare black opal. This is one of my favorite books in the series because of all of the fun activities. Australia is full of interesting and places. In this book, the kids visit a natural bore bath, compete in a goat cart race at the fair, and get chased by a mob of kangaroo. They also have fun with a new boomerang and meet a mysterious new friend who has a secret that absolutely rocks their world.

As more secrets behind the crystal cave and the person behind the destruction of Mr. M’s prized rock collection are revealed, you just might find a new mystery or two to solve.

Join me on a fun, time-traveling adventure to 1925 Australia today.

Official Blurb:

West Virginia teens Emma and Brody, are on a mission to help their neighbor, Mr. M, find new samples of his famed rock and mineral collection that were destroyed in a vicious robbery. Little did they know that collecting the rare samples would sending them traveling through time in a magical crystal cave.

Determined to find the perfect Black Opal, Emma and Brody with the help of Mr. M’s granddaughter Max, travel to Lightning Ridge, Australia in 1925. As they navigate a herd of stampeding kangaroo, goat cart races, and flying boomerangs, the kids meet Rose, a young girl whose mysterious secret will rock their world forever.

When their attempts to collect the perfect opal anger the locals, the kids flee and accidentally land over 2000 years in the future in South Carolina. Can the kids figure out how to return to their own state and time? Will Rose’s secret stop them from helping Mr. M? Will Max finally figure out who destroyed her Grandfather’s prized rock and mineral collection and why? The answers are all inside but may leave you with a new mystery to solve.

You can find Black’s Opal as well as the first three books in the series everywhere books are sold. Available in eBook and paperback.

If you have not read the beginning of the series, now is a great time to catch up.

Viktor’s Ice, Book 0, FREE Prequel Novella eBook:

Blue John’s Cavern, Book 1:

Rusher’s Gold, Book 2:

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Charleston’s 2018 Snowstorm!

Great Pyrenees Snow Fun South CarolinaWhere I live, we rarely get snow. In fact, my family has been saving snowballs everytime we have barely enough snow to make a few. In my freezer, we have snowballs from 2010, 2014 and now, 2018. Every year of the Winter Olympics, we get snow. But, not normall this much!

The Charleston area got 5.3″ officially and we had a nice layer of ice underneath it all which is still melting, a week later. In fact, the kids here have not gone back to school yet. They have missed four additional days because the ice just won’t melt in the shady areas even though the temperature has finally creeped above freezing. Maybe tomorrow.

I do love the snow but I’m tired of driving on ice because our area just doesn’t have snow plow and large supplies of road salt. So, we sit and wait for Mother Nature to help us out. My big Great Pyrenees, Brutus, is definately going to miss the snow. He absolutely loved the fluffy white stuff!

The snowstorm did give me time to work on the final edits for Book #3 in the Crystal Cave Adventures series. Black’s Opal will be out later this winter and I’m excited for you to join in on their adventure in Australia where they land in a little snow, too.

Here are some pictures from the great Charleston snow of 2018!

Mount Pleasant South Carolina snow 2018

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Rusher’s Gold is Now Available in eBook and Print

Rusher's Gold NovelHave you ever wondered…Can the past erase the future?

In the new Crystal Cave Adventures series book, Rusher’s Gold, Brody and Emma find that their actions when they travel to the past can change their own futures, and not always for the better. As they travel to 1851 to find their own pot of gold during the California Gold Rush, they meet Rusher, a gruff miner whose initial gold discovery sparked it all.

Rusher’s Gold is now available everywhere books are sold.

A time traveling cave. A vicious band of miners…and pure gold.

When West Virginia teenagers Emma and Brody promised their neighbor, a famous geologist, to help rebuild his decimated rock and mineral collection for a museum display, they didn’t know they would be in for the magical ride of a lifetime.

After a successful trip to 1775 England where they collected the rare Blue John Fluorite, the teens are quick to jump at the chance to travel to the California Gold Rush in 1851. When they arrive at the Gold Rush and meet an old acquaintance, they think the mission will be easy until they realize their friend may not be able to help them at all.

When their actions in the past erase their future, can Emma and Brody right the wrong? With a hostile group of miners hot on their trail, Brody and Emma must collect the gold, save their friends, and salvage the future before it is too late.

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Crystal Cave Adventures Book #2 Facts: Rusher’s Gold

The Crystal Cave Adventures series is really taking shape with this second book that takes place in California in 1851. The research into the settings and history of the books takes a considerable amount of time, in addition to writing the actual book itself.  The second book, Rusher’s Gold, is set in the California Gold Rush era. Mr. M sends Brody and Emma back to the Gold Rush to find a large, pure chunk of gold to replace the piece that was stolen from his original collection when his home was ransacked in the first book.

Brody and Emma start out alone, with the help of Aspen, of course, but it doesn’t take long before they get themselves into trouble and meet some friendly and not-so-friendly faces. I’m excited about this book and the tidbits of goodies you’ll learn about the California Gold Rush. Here are just a few to get you going:

  • The Gold Rush began in 1848 but many people equate the Gold Rush to 1849, which is when the bulk of the people arrived in California,
  • The first discovery of gold was at Sutter’s Mill near Coloma, California,
  • James Wilson Marshall, found gold flakes in the American River as he worked to build a water-powered saw mill,
  • John Sutter owned the saw mill where Marshall worked,
  • Approximately 2 billion (yes, billion) dollar’s worth of precious metal was recovered during the Gold Rush, and
  • The Gold Rush peaked in 1852.





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The Rockin’ Town of Diamond Falls, West Virginia

Diamond Falls ImageDiamond Falls is a beautiful town in West Virginia nestled in the Allegheny Mountains. This cute town of 65,000 people is home to Brody and Emma. Brody grew up in Diamond Falls, but Emma is new to town. When they are not traveling through time in the Crystal Cave, these two kids love to visit one of the many hot chocolate shops or doughnut shops in town. On hot days, the ice cream and frozen yogurts trucks troll the neighborhoods hoping to find kids willing to spend their dollar bills.

Diamond Falls has no shortage of fun with a water park on one end of town and movie theater on the other. The town planners took the name seriously and patterned all of the roads in a diamond shape because they thought it was funny.

The Crystal Cave is tucked into the forest, past the playground near Mr. M’s house on the eastern side of town. You will learn more about the pretty town of Diamond Falls as you read more in the series. Have questions? Post them below!



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The Geology of the Blue John Cavern

The Geology of the Blue John Cavern

Thousands of years ago, the Blue John Cavern was carved by ancient glacial melt waters that flowed through the Castleton, Derbyshire, England area forming the underground cave system. The geology of the area, while somewhat simple, is very interesting.

The Blue John Cavern is located in the Peak District in England near the town of Castleton, Derbyshire. The area of the cavern is formed within limestone strata that deposited in deep ocean waters millions of years ago. Layers of shale and some gritstone, a type of coarse sandstone common in this area, covered the limestone.BJC Geology Image final

Over time, the layers buckled from folding and faulting. The cavern itself formed when glacial melt waters flowed through the area forming the valleys and seeping into a crack in the limestone strata and dissolving portions of the limestone. As the melt waters dissolved the limestone, underground rivers formed which washed out corridors and large underground rooms which became the network of the Blue John Cavern.



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As You Are Reading Blue John’s Cavern This Map Will Help

Image via Google Earth

Image via Google Earth

One of the reasons that I like to write fiction books that are set in a real place is the research that you can do for the book. Blue John’s Cavern is set in a real town in England. The landmarks that I talk about like Peveril Castle, the town of Castleton, Blue John Cavern, Winnats Pass and Mam Tor all really exist.

Using a real location does present some challenges though. You want to make sure that when you have your characters moving from place to place that they are moving in the correct direction and that you use as much information about the actual landscape that you can find. Now, in my book, Blue John’s Cavern, Emma and Brody ended up in Castleton in the past, 1775 to be exact. Since I didn’t live back then I had to research what the area is like today and make some educated guesses about how the area may have been slightly different over 200 years ago.

To do this type of research, I used Google Earth. It is an amazing tool that you can use to “visit” all over the world. If you use Google Earth, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t yet tried the software, I suggest you run over to Google (after you finish reading this post) and download the software. It won’t cost you anything, except hours of fun. The picture above is from Google Earth. I added arrows to some of the locations that I talk about in the book so that you can use the map as you read along to give you a sense of the distances that Brody, Emma, and Max travel during the story.

If you want to grab a full copy of the book you can find Blue John’s Cavern using this link:

Use this link to choose your favorite eBook seller. For print, choose “Kindle” which will take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase the print book. Or, you can buy the print version directly from the Mini Me Geology site!

I’d love to hear what you think about the book and the map in the comments below. And, if you know an awesome place that we should all visit using Google Earth, add that to the comments too!





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Blue John’s Cavern is Now Available in eBook and Print!

A Crystal Cave Adventures Novel (Book #1)

Time Travel Rocks!

Nothing interesting ever happens in Diamond Falls, West Virginia, and that’s doubly true for local teenagers Emma and Brody. Little do they know that their neighbor, a famous geologist, is about to show them the wildest time of their lives.

When Mr. M’s prized rock and mineral collection is destroyed before it can be displayed at the state museum, Emma and Brody jump at the chance to find new samples. The geologist accepts the offer, and promptly sends them back to the year 1775 to help!

Back in time and across the pond in Derbyshire, England, Emma and Brody team with a mysterious young girl named Max to recover one of the rarest minerals in the world: Blue John Fluorite. Tapping into courage they never knew they had, the formerly ordinary West Virginians must protect a cave, avoid gun-toting soldiers, and return to the present before they’re trapped forever.

Blue John’s Cavern is the first book in the middle-grade adventure/sci-fi series Crystal Cave Adventures. If you like a little excitement thrown in with your science, then you’ll love this fast-paced and compelling novel.

Buy Now At:

Use the link above to choose your favorite eBook seller. For print, choose “Kindle” which will take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase the print book. Or, you can buy the print version directly from Mini Me Geology! When you are there, be sure to check out the fun rocks and minerals too!

Traveling through caves, jumping through time.



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There are No Porcupines in England

PORCUPINE – ”’North American Porcupine”’ (”Erethizon dorsatum”) ”’Photographer:”’ unknown, 1987 ”’Source:”’ Yellowstone Digital Slide File, ”’Permission:”’ ”These images are in the public domain and may be reproduced, free of charge.

When I was writing Blue John’s Cavern I did a lot of research about the area of Castleton, Derbyshire, England. I tend to write on the fly without much pre-planning so as new ideas and scenes popped into my head I found myself performing some follow-up research. There is a scene in the book where Emma has an unfortunate encounter with a hedgehog. Hedgehog? Really? Yup.

Originally, I wrote that she found herself

facing a porcupine, but when I did a little research I found that…THERE ARE NO PORCUPINES IN ENGLAND!

That’s right. I had no idea that England

HEDGEHOG – Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

has hedgehogs rather than porcupines. They are fairly similar so the scene in the book work just fine with Mr. Hedgehog. But, I was surprised at what a little research can tell you and how it can make your books more authentic.


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