Helter Swelter

Hello, everyone. This time I’ve changed the banner photo to reflect the relentless heat in the Pacific Northwest. Eastern Washington has set records of scorching high temperatures and days without precipitation. August, which is usually our summer’s hottest month, is only a few days old. We will get through the extra-hot summer. And don’t forget: winter, in all its icy glory, will be upon us before we know it.

The next Emily Trace mystery has been slow in development, but I believe it will be worth it. The title is Send in the Drones, and Emily and her intrepid crew will have to work especially hard to figure out the mystery of the disappearing drone.

In anticipation of its release, I’d like to let you in on a little secret from Send in the Drones. Don’t worry. I don’t believe it will in any way spoil the surprises in store for you. So here it is, folks:

Everything you ever wanted to know about Drone Wars
(well, almost everything)

“A small town airport is scheduled to play host to a new event during their annual town celebration. Drone Wars will be held for the first time Saturday afternoon on the tarmac,” the local weekly newspaper announced. Emily Trace planned to attend, and several of her staff signed up to participate.

I came up with the concept of Drone Wars as I crafted the latest Emily Trace adventure. I was inspired by the dogfights of the World War I flying aces and their battles with the Red Baron, plus the interstellar battles in Star Wars and The Last Starfighter. I thought it would be cool to have the miniature planes duke it out with lasers, totally under the control of their remote pilots.

After research on the concept, I discovered that laser weapons, which are not even used in laser tag and similar games,  posed hazards to humans which were unacceptable. I decided to have the little planes fire infrared lights instead. Much safer. Plus special effects could be added to really put on a show. Those concepts were inspired by the Lazer Tag people.

In Emily’s world, drones are equipped for competition with stick-on patches sensitive to infrared light on the frequency of special weapons, which are also installed on the little mini-planes for the competition. Whenever a drone takes a hit, five points are awarded to its opponent electronically. The dogfight continues until one drone scores 250 points, or until the main target patch suffers a fatal hit.

The main target is a small patch  located in a strategic, difficult to hit position on the drone. Once the opponent hits the tiny target, connected sensors will emit smoke and simulate sparks. They will also disable the connection with the remote control,  and the drone will automatically land and lose the match.

To find out more on Drone Wars, the first recorded Drone War in Emily Trace history, and the results of the match, stay tuned here, on Twitter (@sueeller), or on my Facebook page (follow the link on this page) for the release of Send in the Drones – an Emily Trace Mystery.

Until the next time, stay cool wherever you are, and practice flying.


  1. Love the geekiness of this! I recently watched a TV clip of competitive drone racing set in a rather intricate track inside a warehouse. Several drones flew at high speed through tunnels and around obstacles, zipping down or up to go through small doors. It was exciting as they zipped and crashed to the finish line. So the concept here of a zone war outside I can almost see. I think the military would be interested — or would maybe block it! Can’t wait to read more.


    1. Thanks, Beth. One of my inspirations was the concept of Snoopy vs. the Red Baron. Thanks to Charles Schultz for his many cartoons with Snoopy’s adventures as the World War I flying ace, and of course, the Royal Guardsmen for putting it into song.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s