An Author in Our Midst – The Lincolnian Interview, Part 2

I was recently interviewed by The Lincolnian, a quarterly publication of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia. The interview was published in the Summer 2017 issue and Part 2 is recreated below. Read Part 1 here.

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David J KentLincolnian: Any reaction to the book that you wish to share?

David Kent: The Lincoln book has just been released, but the initial reaction has been similar to that received for my Tesla and Edison books. People love the smooth writing and say the books are both easy to read and provide comprehensive information on the subjects. The reaction from the public has been heartwarming. The Tesla book released in 2013 is on its 7th printing and has been translated into multiple foreign languages. I’m hoping to have the same success with Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaLincolnian: At a Lincoln Group meeting, you indicated that you were writing another book on Lincoln’s interest in science? What is the status of that book? Tell us the themes of that book?

David Kent: Yes, I’m currently working on a scholarly book that focuses on Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. I’ve been doing intensive research for years on the subject and am now preparing key chapters. This book will be more in-depth so I’ll be looking for a different publisher than the one putting out my earlier books. I’m hopeful it will see the light of day (and bookstores) by late next year. Stay tuned!

Lincolnian: Tell us a bit about your own background? How/why did you become a writer? You seem to have strong twin interests in science and Lincoln. How did you become interested in these two areas – which developed first? How did your interest in Lincoln develop – and what most interests you about him. I know you travel to visit different Lincoln sites – describe some of your travels – which is the most unusual Lincoln site you have seen – where will your travels take you next -what have you missed that you wish to visit?

David Kent: While I’ve been interested in Lincoln since I was very young, I grew up in a coastal New England town so it was probably inevitable that I enter a career in the environmental sciences. After getting science degrees I worked as a marine biologist until the laboratory I worked in was burned to the ground by an arsonist, then in a series of environmental consulting firms in New Jersey and Washington DC. Over the years I’ve been president of four different scientific organizations. Throughout my science career I was writing, mostly technical reports and peer-reviewed papers, but also was writing for various newsletters. The writing bug really grabbed me only as I was returning from a 3-year secondment in Brussels, and decided to expand on my Lincoln interests. In late 2013 I left the science consulting life behind and decided to focus on my writing full time. I joined the Lincoln Group of DC in January 2012 and have been writing a lot on Lincoln in recent years, including articles in the Lincolnian and elsewhere. I joined many LGDC members on the trip to Lincoln’s Illinois last year and was totally enthralled by sites I hadn’t seen before. Future plans include a road trip beginning in Tennessee and tracing Lincoln’s birthplace in Kentucky through boyhood in Indiana and into Lincoln-related areas in northern Illinois. I’ve traveled to many countries around the world and even non-Lincoln specific locations seem to have a thing for Lincoln. There are statues of him in Edinburgh, Scotland, two other spots in the UK, Vigeland Park in Oslo, and, as yet to be seen, Havana, Cuba, Mexico City and Juarez, Mexico, and in Guatemala.

Lincolnian: Do you have other topics on your radar for the future after you have completed the Lincoln /science book?

David Kent: I have several books in my mental pipeline after the Lincoln/science book, including at least two more on specific aspects of Lincoln’s career. In January I hope to discuss a Lincoln book project in which LGDC members would be participants. More on that soon.

Lincolnian: Anything you wish to add on these subjects for our readers?

David Kent: I have to say that my membership in the Lincoln Group of DC has been an inspiration for me. I thank LGDC members in the acknowledgements of this current book and have benefited tremendously from the interactions I’ve had in our monthly dinners, the monthly book club discussion group, and various tours and symposiums. I’m especially indebted to current LGDC President John Elliff and the rest of the team on the LGDC Board for support and encouragement. I’m looking forward to continued service and participation in LGDC.

For more information on the Lincoln Group of DC, check out this post.

[Part 1 of the Lincolnian interview appeared here last week]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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An Author in Our Midst – The Lincolnian Interview, Part 1

I was recently interviewed by The Lincolnian, a quarterly publication of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia. The interview was published in the Summer 2017 issue and Part 1 is recreated below. Read Part 2 here.

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David J KentMost Lincoln Group members know by now that David Kent, our Vice-President for Programs, is an accomplished author, one who has penned successful books on such figures as Tesla and Edison. His most recent publication spotlights Lincoln himself. David agreed to be interviewed for The Lincolnian regarding his new Lincoln book and his writing career. Here are the contents of that interview.

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaLincolnian: You have a new publication out – Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America – tell us about this publication – what was the inspiration behind the book, what is/are the major themes, what did you aim to accomplish for the audience, who is the targeted audience?

David Kent: I have been interested in Abraham Lincoln since as far back as I can remember, so when the publisher of my Tesla and Edison books decided to branch out into history, I jumped at the chance. Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America is directed at a general audience and so spans Lincoln’s entire life, from his days growing up on frontier farms to the crisis of the Civil War and the Lincoln legacy. The goal is to reach out to a broad readership in a way that is visually appealing. The strife of this past year in politics shows that there are many in our nation who lack a good understanding of history, including the critical time period in which Lincoln lived. As the subtitle suggests, I bring out how Lincoln’s decisions helped deal with our nation’s greatest challenges, and how he kept the Union together despite all forces trying to tear it apart.

Lincolnian: What research did you undertake in writing the book? In doing so, did you learn anything that surprised you?

David Kent: I feel like I’ve been researching Lincoln my whole life. I read 20-30 Lincoln-related books every year, along with a wide variety of other genres. I also review primary materials – letters, speeches, newspaper articles – to get both a broad and deep understanding of his life and how he thinks. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me because I’ve been researching it for another book, but I’ve always been enthralled with Lincoln’s interest in science and technology.

Lincolnian: In your opinion, what information in the book will surprise the reader?

David Kent: I think general readers will be surprised by how active Lincoln was in politics from his first days in New Salem. He really did become the leader of the Whigs in Illinois, and without him the Republican party of Illinois likely wouldn’t have become as powerful as quickly as it did. For Lincoln scholars I bring out how Lincoln understood that the de facto expansion of slavery enabled by the Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Dred Scott decision triumvirate would lead to war. Lincoln pressed the issue knowing the crisis was unavoidable.

Lincolnian: Your book contains many images – photographs, graphics, etc. Describe a few examples that will be new to the audience or most captivating.

David Kent: The incredible publishing team and designer have pulled together amazing imagery for the book. These images were selected to bring out the stories told in the text and make the book a visual as well as an intellectual experience. Images range from photographs of the time period, paintings of key events, political cartoons presented in key newspapers, letters and documents, and even comic book pages. One image from a comic book, for example, highlights how good Lincoln was with his own children and those in the neighborhood, often getting down on his hands and knees to play with them. The images really bring out the life described in the text.

Lincolnian: What similarities – and differences – does this book have as compared to your previous works on Tesla and Edison? What similarities in character, traits, etc. did you find that Tesla and Edison shared with Lincoln – and what were the major differences you found in your subjects?

David Kent: The style of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America is the same as my previous books on Tesla and Edison. Those two books were very successful for the publisher (and me), so the publisher wanted to branch out into similarly-styled books in history. Because of my lifelong interest, I suggested Lincoln and they agreed. The three books highlight the human side of science and history. While very different in many ways, all three men were innovators. Tesla was a big picture guy, always wanting to change the world with a radical new idea. Edison was a details guy, always tinkering and improving on existing ideas. Lincoln was a little of both. In the courtroom and in politics he could remember and exploit key details while at the same time always keeping his eye on the bigger picture. And like Tesla and Edison, Lincoln too was an inventor, the only president in our history to have obtained a patent.

Lincolnian: Where can we find the book /who is the publisher?

David Kent: The book is in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide (if you don’t see it, ask for it; it’s there). You can also order it online at BarnesandNoble.com. I sell signed, first edition copies through my own website (http://www.davidjkent-writer.com/buy-the-books/). I’ll be the speaker at LGDC’s December 12th luncheon meeting and will have copies to sell there. The book is published by Fall River Press, an imprint of Sterling Publishing in New York.

[Part 2 of the Lincolnian interview will appear next week]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

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I Voted!

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Abraham Lincoln was reelected on election day, Tuesday, November 8, 1864. He was the first Republican president. Today I voted for the first woman president. Welcome, Madame President! David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity … Continue reading

Third Year Reflections of a Science Traveler

DominicaThis month marks the third year anniversary on the best decision ever made. In 2013 I made the decision to leave my long-time scientific career to become a science traveler. I didn’t leave the science, merely the part that paid well. I took up traveling and writing and in other ways bringing science and history to life. Last year I reflected again on reaching a second anniversary. And suddenly it has been three years. As they say, time flies.

It has been an amazing experience. I’ve seen places I had never thought I would see, met people I never knew existed, and written books I never thought I would write. Along the way I’ve grown as a writer, a traveler, and a person. At least I hope the latter is true.

One of the major uncertainties of a writing life is whether anyone will ever read what you write. I’ve been lucky. That first book on Nikola Tesla published just as I was embarking on this adventure is now into its 7th printing, has been translated into several foreign languages, and is a continuing success (figuratively) flying off the shelves at Barnes and Noble. Because of its success I now have a follow up book on Thomas Edison, which now sits side-by-side in Barnes and Noble with Tesla and has had strong initial sales. And now I’m working on a third book in the same style on my other major interest – Abraham Lincoln. That book should come out in 2017.

When I’m not writing (or reading), I’m traveling. This year saw two epic trips in the sense of adding to my “countries visited” list. Early in the year I took a sailing cruise to the Caribbean. Not one of those huge floating hotel ships, this was a smaller sailing cruise liner with only about 250 passengers. The second was to the Balkan countries of Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia. While there I got to meet with the Prince and Princess of Serbia (technically they are King and Queen but go by the lower titles due to the politics of their former exile). There were other trips as well, including San Antonio/Carlsbad Caverns and a research visit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. I’m going back out to Illinois next week to see other Lincoln sites in New Salem, Lincoln (the city), and Bloomington.

There were some glitches this year as well. After decades of generally good health I found myself in and out of hospitals and doctors offices for a variety of mostly unrelated issues. The biggest was eye surgery to remove a tumor (benign!) in my right orbit that had my eye bulging out like Marty Feldman’s Igor from Young Frankenstein. Because I’m still officially in recovery (surgery was less than a month ago) it led to postponement of a planned October trip to China. No worries, I’ll do it next year.

Speaking of next year, the tentative travel plans include not only the aforementioned China (and South Korea), but hopefully Machu Picchu and one or two of a dozen other possibilities on my list. The Lincoln book I’m writing now should be in the stores next year. As soon as that manuscript is submitted I’ll return to my original Lincoln and science book project, which should put it on a schedule to come out in 2018. I already have the next book topic lined up; more on that when it gets closer.

So on to the fourth year of a Science Traveler life!

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

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More Reflections on Becoming a Science Traveler

David J. KentA year ago I wrote some “Reflections” on the first anniversary of trading in my well-paid job as a scientific consultant for a new gig as a poor starving writer. My conclusion last year was “It was the best decision I ever made.” After another twelve months as an impoverished writer my new conclusion is an even more emphatic “best decision ever.”

When I left paid employment my book Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity had been in Barnes and Noble bookstores for only a month. It’s now into its 5th printing, bringing the total to over 65,000 copies (plus multiple foreign languages). The book has been such a great success that the publisher came back to me for a follow up – Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World is now written and in the design stage with a 2016 publication date. I also published two specialty e-books on Amazon. The writing life is good.

The traveling life is not so bad either. In the last year I’ve traveled to wild Yosemite and even wilder Everglades and Dry Tortugas. I’ve experienced three Scandinavian countries and cruised through Norwegian fjords. I’ve also visited New England twice and been drenched by the waterfalls outside Quebec City. In the next few months I’ll be in Paris, London, New York City, Gettysburg, and Salt Lake City.

The latter is to pick up an award; I’m being recognized for my contributions over the last 25 years serving SETAC and my regional chapter. I’m honored to receive such a prestigious accolade.

Over the coming year I’ll be writing even more. The Abraham Lincoln book I’ve been researching for, well, it seems forever, should finally get a chance to see the inside of a bookstore. As a VP for the Lincoln Group of DC I’ll continue to expand our outreach and education activities as I immerse myself deeper in that long-time intellectual study. I even have an idea for a compendium of essays by Lincoln scholars.

But that’s just the beginning. My list of “books-to-write” has grown to over twenty, one or two of which are in genres that may be unexpected. The order isn’t necessarily settled, it will depend on finding publishers, but one thing is clear – I’m going to have to write faster to get them all done.

On to the next adventure!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now in its 5th printing) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in spring 2016.

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Fan Photos and Fun

Time flies. Take a little science traveling trip and suddenly the month is three-quarters done. But not so done that you can’t participate in my new Fan Photos and Fun page!

Yes, a page focused on you! All of you have helped spread the word to more than 30,000 (and growing) new readers, so I owe all this success to everyone who has supported my efforts to bring science to the masses. Check out the new page – Fan Photos and Fun.

Dr. Pablo Vigliano, Universidad Nacional del Comahue-Bariloche

Dr. Pablo Vigliano, Universidad Nacional del Comahue-Bariloche

If you want to participate, feel free to send photos of you holding my book, or post it up on my Facebook author’s page. [Be sure to “Like” the page for updates and more fun stuff] If you send a photo I’ll put it up on the Fan Photos and Fun page. Let’s see how many different countries and US states we can represent.

Meanwhile, January so far has seen a visit to Miami Beach, as well as the Everglades, Key West, and the Dry Tortugas. I’ll have more on this science traveling shortly. If you missed it, also check out Tesla Takes Manhattan and a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tesla bust, New Yorker Hotel

Tesla bust, TSF photo

Not to be outdone, Hot White Snow saw essays on My Life as a Remote Control, My Greatest Difficulty on Being a Writer, and Reading is Fundamental.

The Dake Page took several looks at how 2014 became the hottest year ever recorded and how climate deniers desperately sought to deny that fact. Also examined was why 2015 is a critical year for man-made climate change action.

But this is just the beginning. On the day after I returned from my alligator hunting I received a nice little bit of news from my literary agent. I’m waiting on something official but it looks like I’ll be even busier than expected this year, and with something totally unexpected. Stay tuned for more soon!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

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Reflections on My Anniversary (or, Why I Became a Science Traveler)

The Traveling ScientistOne year ago today I left behind the first half of my life.  After more than 30 years as a working scientist I had decided to give up a comfortable salary for a life of (essentially) no income. I would become a poor starving writer.

It was the best decision I ever made.

I loved my previous life. Well, most of it. But the parts I didn’t like had grown in proportion to the parts that excited me. Using my skills, my knowledge, and my personal connections with colleagues and clients, I made a large amount of money – for others. Sure, my salary was nice enough, but increasingly the benefits of my labor went to others, and those others seemed decreasingly appreciative of that fact. Abraham Lincoln’s line from his Second Inaugural Address about  “wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces” kept popping into mind. Not a perfect analogy, but close enough.

I learned a lot during all those years – about science, about business, about people. I also learned that science is often trumped by business concerns and people’s perceptions. I felt there was a growing need to communicate science to the public, and that scientists weren’t always very good at meeting that need. I decided to do something about that.

Coincident with this desire was some serendipity that led to publication of my first professional book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. As the old saw grinds, “the stars aligned, angels’ voices rang down from the heavens” and all that not-so-scientifically-accurate metaphorical interlude. In real terms, stuff fell into place and it became clear this was the time to take the risk. So I did.

So where am I this one year later? I’ve traveled a bit, though not as much as I would have liked. One highlight of 2014 is an amazing trip to Argentina, with several smaller and more local trips throughout the year. I’ll squeeze in a few more jaunts before New Year’s and am busy planning for 2015 (Peru? China? Rushmore?). Science Traveling will play an increasingly important role in my future.

I’m also writing. Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity was back in Barnes and Noble stores mid-summer and was selling faster than it did last year (in fact, sales in the first 6 weeks already nearly matched all last year). To this I added a second book, an e-book exclusive to Amazon called Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. More books are in the works, including my opus on Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science. Add in some manuscript editing, magazine articles, newsletter writing, and even some grant requests (plus my blogs, which I’ll reveal more about later), and yes, I’ve been keeping incredibly busy. All in an effort to bring science to the public – to make science fun again.

Finally, as I wind down my final year of the presidential cycle for the regional SETAC Chapter, I begin my first year in a leadership role with the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia. As the director of outreach and education for LGDC I’m working with an engaged group of Lincoln scholars and aficionados to celebrate the life of Abraham Lincoln and ignite a new generation of interest. His “science geekiness” bridges my lifelong interest in Lincoln with my lifelong career in science. A perfect prelude to my forthcoming book. 🙂

I can confidently acknowledge that it’s a very happy anniversary indeed. The first of many.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for thirty-five years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (now in its 5th printing) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His book on Thomas Edison is due in Barnes and Noble stores in spring 2016.

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[Daily Post]

 

Tesla, Lincoln, and Beyond

Signing books 1-11-14It’s been a busy weekend/week/month/year. On this site I write about Nikola Tesla, Abraham Lincoln, Travel, and Aquariums, but I also write on other sites and I’ll be adding more sites shortly.  At the same time I’ll be consolidating. Make sense? Keep watching this space for more information.

I’ll be writing more in-depth about these in future posts, but to give you a flavor of what is coming, check out these highlights:

  • Nikola Tesla: A new book, the reissue of the previous book, and some talks. I mentioned these in a previous post here. I’ll be holding a vote for the final title shortly, and another for the final cover. Sign up for my Facebook author’s page for details on how to get the ebook for free when it comes out.
  • Abraham Lincoln: This weekend was the first face-to-face meeting of the new officers for the Lincoln Group of DC (LGDC). As part of my new outreach and education duties we’ve set up LGDC pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I’ll have a post on these shortly. We also have a gazillion (more or less) events scheduled for the near future. Check out the LGDC website for more information.
  • Travel: I’m way behind on planning the trip to Scandinavia, but the goal is to go to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Trips to Mt. Rushmore and Chicago/Springfield are also in the works (and also way behind schedule in planning). Before that I’ll be up in New England to visit the family and give a talk about Tesla at the Ipswich Museum.
  • Aquariums: So many more aquariums to write about. I have two more on my list to visit while in the Scandinavian countries noted above.
  • Writing: I’ve recently started free writing, that is, writing in response to prompts, contests, and for future use in memoir/fiction books. I recently submitted short pieces to two contests – one a science fiction article and the other a short memoir. To accommodate the free writing, as well as the diverse writing on Lincoln, Tesla, science, and other topics, I’ll be setting up separate blogs that will then be cross-posted back here.

There is much more going on as well. I’m being considered for a major award related to my work with the regional chapter of SETAC. A possible on-air segment on the History Channel is in discussions, as is a profile in a book about Tesla’s People (people building a curriculum about Nikola Tesla). Works in progress include the Abraham Lincoln book I’ve discussed previously plus a travel photo book and, of course, the soon to be released Tesla and Renewable energy ebook.

Add in a few major life events, some introspection, and the vagaries of nature, and there will be tons to talk about. One thing I have planned is a revamping of this website to highlight my multiple books and other writing; more informational articles on Tesla, Lincoln, science, and travel; and a new newsletter for my updated mailing list.

Stay tuned!

David J. Kent is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and a soon-to-be-released ebook on Tesla and Renewable Energy.

 

Bestselling Statistics for Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity

Barnes and Noble DC 23July2013Now that Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has been in Barnes and Noble stores for a few weeks, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at some of the pertinent statistics.

Keep in mind that Sterling Publishing is a subsidiary of Barnes and Noble, so the book has not yet been released to Amazon. Which, of course, is where most people go to shop for books online (sorry B&N). Even without being released to Amazon I do see two resellers listing the book. Also, while you can shop online at barnesandnoble.com, the warehouse was emptied because bookstores kept reordering. Though here again there is a reseller listing the book and you can always download an ebook (I read mine with a Nook app on my iPhone). [Of course, you can still buy a book directly from me]

So how is the book doing so far? Rather well, thank you. We’ve sold over 80% of the first, larger than normal, printing, and the publisher is looking at releasing a second printing in the spring. While I don’t check every day so may have missed a higher peak, the book reached at least #20 on the Barnes and Noble Bestsellers list for Scientist-Biography and #18 for the History & Philosophy of Science Category. It also reached at least #28 in the Scientists, Inventors & Naturalists category. Not bad for a book that had a grand total of $0.00 marketing budget. Not bad at all.

Another metric to gauge how well the book is doing is Goodreads, where “100% of people liked it.” As of this morning there were 17 ratings. The average rating was a tremendous 4.71, with 12 of the ratings being “5”s and the other 5 ratings being “4”s. Where getting an average over “4” and not seeing any individual rating less than that is a rarity, my average of 4.71 is extremely gratifying. [If you’ve read the book, please leave a rating on Goodreads and bn.com]

Bottom line – the book is doing fantastic by any metric.

The success of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity coincides with a personal and professional transition. A week from now my day job and night job will flip. I’ll be writing full time and consulting part time. I’ll also be traveling as much as I can squeeze into my schedule and finances. Expect to see more frequent updates on this website, and more attention to the other topics in my header pages. While transitions can often be traumatic, I’m looking forward to this one. Big time. I hope you’ll join me.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity. You can order a signed copy directly from me, download the ebook at barnesandnoble.com, and find hard copies exclusively at Barnes and Noble bookstores. Stores are starting to sell out their stock, and restock, so get them while they are available.

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