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Friday, September 19, 2014

Audiobooks and reviews

Float Street Press is putting out more of my stories out as audiobooks and they seem to be popular (hurrah!).  My novella NAMELESS MOUNTAIN (narrated by Jeff Bower) is in the works and will be available in a few short weeks. THE INVENTION OF CLAY McKENZIE (narrated by Karen Roman). I am trying to find reviewers who are willing to listen to these stories and post reviews. If you are a reviewer and interested in any of these stories, please send an email to publisher@floatstreetpress.com. We will see that you get the download code from Audible.

And if you've read one of my books or listened to the audiobook, please consider leaving a review.

Imitating Art

A writer backpacking in Asia looks for a quiet place to write about a criminal on the run. He finds the ideal place in a small town and learns that fiction and reality blur together more often than you might expect.






The Legend of Ron Anejo

Ron is the world's best Caribbean boat bum. Based on the fictional tropical island of Kayakoo, he works on his wooden boat, living a glorious life on a shoestring budget, usually managing to earn enough for rum and food. With an unquenchable optimism, he confronts the world and, as long as he has his leaky old wooden boat, manages to have fun, regardless of the current disaster. To make ends meet, Ron and his crew haul cargo, run bizarre charters, smuggle and even build a house. Nothing succeeds, exactly, but nothing fails, either.

Murder on a Fishing Trip

When an LA private investigator heads to Colorado to see an old buddy and get in a little fishing, he finds that he can't really get away from it all. It's like he never left home. He walks in on a murder that his buddy, the editor and publisher of the local paper wants solved.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Murder and fishing

Fishing is supposed to be a way of getting away from things


But then, so is murder, if you think about it. My short noir story MURDER ON A FISHING TRIP, narrated by Christopher Hall, is now available from Amazon -- that's 47 minutes of story for only $3.46 (also available with Whispersync for voice, which lets you switch between reading the Kindle book and listening to the professional narration from Audible.

When an LA private investigator heads to Colorado to see an old buddy and get in a little fishing, he finds that he can't really get away from it all. It's like he never left home. He walks in on a murder that his buddy, the editor and publisher of the local paper wants solved.

Of course it is also available in paperback and ebook formats and with a new cover. A 40-page story for only $3.76 in paperback or $0.99 as an ebook!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Free samples of humor and chatting about mystery stories

There is a new web site called Book Samples. During this month, you can read a sample of The Legend of Ron Anejo, the story of the world's best Caribbean boat bum, right there.

Even better, Ron is only 99 cents this month and you can buy a copy at Amazon in the US, UK or wherever you like to shop. For instance, click on the cover below to get it at Barnes & Noble.
I also have an interview about my Martin Billings stories up at Omnimystery News. Two sides of me this month.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Too much information, no context

You can't judge what is happening in this world from the news. The media focus on things HAPPENING in a place can make a small event seem like countrywide chaos. Often, we simply have too much information about too little--we hear about the crimes, catastrophes, political upheavals and so on that make life treacherous and almost nothing about daily life. That we hear, immediately, about almost everything bad going on from every corner of the earth, can make it seem that there are no safe places to visit, no places without turmoil.

We do live in tumultuous times. There are simply more people interacting, struggling to gain a piece of the pie (whatever pie they seem to think represents the prize). And the news media cover those events extensively. Rioting, looting, and general mayhem are their star attractions. The fact that two blocks away life might go on normally, doesn't generate ad revenue.

I've found myself living in places when the US State Department issued travel alerts talking of the danger of traveling there. We'd never noticed anything special and shook our heads. So, when the deluge of bad news makes me begin to think that staying home might be the sanest, cleverest thing to do, I remind myself of an event. A number of years ago, while working in Hong Kong, I took a trip to Taiwan and then on to Seoul, South Korea.

My wife had never been to Korea and decided she would meet me there. When I arrived, a few hours after her scheduled arrival, the taxi driver didn't want to take me to the hotel. There were riots going on in that part of town. We argued. I asked him to take me as close as possible. He refused and soon a policeman was involved. He checked his watch and informed the taxi driver that the riots were only scheduled until five, and were well over. So we went to the hotel, the driver reluctantly rolling down an empty street that still smelled strongly of tear gas.

My wife was at the hotel, oblivious to the riot and wondering where I'd gotten to (this happened in the dark ages--before cell phones).

I know damn well that if that riot took place today, we'd be bombarded with close ups of the police in riot gear, the students throwing Molotov cocktails and all that, and it would have appears that the city was in the throes of violence. It being Korea, the rioters were undergrads, the violence contained to a four block area and no one really cared.

A couple of days later, on Buddha's birthday, we met a plain-clothes cop whose job was to watch the riots and target the organizers, the real hot heads. Plain clothes seems to work differently there. He had on a shirt and jeans, but carried three walkie talkies, a baton and a gun. He seemed to enjoy his work. He gave us a mini tour of the art district. It was a weird time and an unforgettable experience.

There was no media coverage. We found out later that this was the third day of the rioting. If we'd seen news coverage of it before we left, it might have given us pause. I feel certain that on television it would have seemed like Seoul was a dangerous madhouse. It was just odd.

Now a lot of the violence going on in the world, even that on the media, is widespread, deadly and everything it seems to be. But some of it is localized, or otherwise controlled. But seen through the eyes of twitter and news blogs, it can all seem the same. Without putting our own boots on the ground, we have no way to judge these things. They all play out on the same stage and are described with the same vocabulary. And that makes the world seem scarier than it needs to seem.

Certainly we need to move cautiously, avoid places where travelers are targeted, or law and order is totally out the window, but there is a wide and wonderful world out there, with some great people in it (who seldom make the news). And while travelers need to pay attention, letting the news media (or by government statements, for that matter) keep us at home because they don't know what is really going on (and generally they don't) would be a shame.

  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Drifting

 Travel is one of the motor forces of my writing. The things that challenge me, please me, irritate me about new places also provide the fodder for stories and just thinking about how humans tick. I find it fun to watch other people and see how they respond to new things, but what they do and how they do it only makes sense if I've already paid attention to my own response. I need to know a bit about what they are reacting to.
The top picture I took in Kampot, Cambodia about 14 months ago. It looks pretty tranquil. When it isn't wedding season, or a mjor holiday (of which there are many) it is pretty tranquil. In some ways, it is a great place to write. Humid and hot but with many wonderful qualities. And beer is cheap, which is usually a good thing.


The picture on the left I took in Nevada about one year ago. It has a different kind of tranquility (once you are out of the middle of the road). I could feel a certain desolate peace and a wide open beauty. Beer isn't cheap here. In fact I'm not sure how many miles you'd have to travel to find a cold one. Always travel prepared.

The important thing in looking at these two photos is that they both represent peace and tranquility, but the experiences are so radically different.

I'm often asked what places I like best. The problem with giving an honest answer is that places are changing fast. A place I've been to a few years ago isn't the place I'd be if I landed there tomorrow. Coming back to the US we found a different place than we left. Silver City is hurting from the economic situation (nice word, situation. A wonderful euphemism, but I don't think we are allowed to be honest and say depression.). That makes it more tranquil, although for many that is a poor substitute for a boom time with lots of jobs and food.

I couldn't change the places I visit or even live in for long, even if I wanted to. As an outsider, I can't even offer intelligent or reasonable opinions on what is right or wrong for a people or their place. I try to travel responsibly, helping local (not chain) businesses when possible and not being any more intrusive or annoying than a traveler naturally is. So I stick to observing, and casting my thoughts and observations into stories.

So now I'll get back to writing them.


Fair winds.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dreams and hopes



In learning to produce my own books I've done a lot to try an improve the covers. Part of the learning process has involved finding the kinds of images that resonate with me. In the process I've discovered (probably tangentially) that I have a fascination with old buildings. The ones that have been abandoned, left to weather and entropy, are the most interesting.


I've decided I'm drawn to these buildings as symbols of dreams. Sometime in the past, someone built these places, or had them built, and they must've had a vision of a life in them, or perhaps a dream of a prosperous business. Now they look like failed dreams, but I'm not sure they are. Perhaps the dreamers lived a long and happy life, enjoying the building and it was later inhabitants who let the buildings go. Or perhaps tragedy struck.

I've decided that the attraction of these places is the way they function as symbols of the hopes and dreams of people I'll never know. Sometime in the past, someone built these places, or had them built, and they must've had a vision of a life in them, or perhaps a dream of a prosperous business. Now they look like failed dreams, but I'm not sure they are. Perhaps the dreamers lived a long and happy life, enjoying the building and it was later inhabitants who let the buildings go. Or perhaps tragedy struck.

As a writer, I can't help but imagine the stories. Of course, the stories I hear in my head aren't the real stories, but ones I am making up. But that's what a writer does--make shit up. 

I took this set of photos in rural New Mexico. Several are from small mining towns in the Silver City area, where the Santa Rita and Tyrone mines have a long history of being driving forces in the local economy. Unfortunately, mining is a boom and bust proposition, which likely means more dreams and more failures than in other places. The boom and bust provide the attraction and the potential for tragedy/ The dreams had to be phenomenal...of wealth, of even better buildings for growing families. And a bust time meant few had the money to take over properties that had been abandoned. By the time the next boom arrived, brought on by a rise in copper prices, it was time for new buildings and new dreams. The old ones aren't fixed. Why live in the shell of a ruined life when the future beckons?



So my interest isn't nostalgic. I don't want to repair these dreams and move in, but to feel them, they way their dreamers manifested them in wood and concrete.

Hey, everyone needs a hobby.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New audio book

I'm excited that my short story, Imitating Art, is now out as an audio book on Amazon and Audible for only $3.95. Joe Farinacci did a lovely job with it.

Amazon

This is a story of the blur between art and life, crime and everything else, for a backpacker in SE Asia. A story of guesthouses, bar girls, and obscure personal histories.









Brought to you by


Float Street Press