Listen to Pilot Light

Friday, March 8, 2019

Covering New Ground

Hot on the heels of CRYPTO SHRUGGED J. Lee Porter and I are working to wrap up the second book in the Bitpats series. This one is called CRYPTO CITIZENS. Naturally, we still are looking at the implications, the political, economic, and social ramifications of implementing blockchain, but this time the issues that come under our microscope are those of citizenship, surveillance (both government surveillance and surveillance capitalism) as the world tries to monitor international travel and implement smart cities.

As with so many things, smart cities act as a double-edged sword, and the goals set for them, such as being able to adapt to the needs of the people, also mean anticipating those needs, which, in turn require watching how people use the existing resources. When combined with a desire to preserve "order" within a community, the results can be satisfying or terrifying.

Citizenship is something that is considered a birthright and a privilege, yet it can also be perverted into something more sinister. A person from a certain country is bad, and one from another is good. It's a matter of generalizing so that people are easier to deal with. The problem is that, taken that way, citizenship becomes degrading.

The natural reaction to that is for people look for ways to have multiple passports, or perhaps none at all. This is a complicated topic, and our new novel can only begin to explore some of the issues involved. But we make a start. And, in future books, we will pursue that more.

While we edit, Elizabeth Mackey designed another wonderful cover for the upcoming book. We are definitely excited and hope you are too.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mapping the terrain

As part of planning out the trilogy of mysteries I'm writing that feature Ron Anejo I needed to create a map of the island of Kayakoo, where the story takes place. To a certain number of people, my fictional island won't seem quite so fictional, but that's how it goes.

Kayakoo is located in the West Indies, near the southern end. It is one island of several in the country and not that far from Onion Island, which is a part of St. Voracious. Just a day sail if you are so inclined.

The boat you see is Ron's Danish fishing boat, MeinGott. Here she is in close up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Listening in

I'm about halfway through the draft of the first of the new stories featuring the world's best Caribbean boat bum, Ron Anejo. While I'm working on those, I wanted to make sure everyone knows that the original story is available in audio as well as ebook and print. Paul Aulridge did a fine job of bringing the story to life and if you prefer listening to reading, give it a try.

And the cover art is by Dagny.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Improbably Popular, So Maybe Not Impossible

A number of years ago, when I had a studio in Anaheim, California, I write a song I called AMERICAN DREAM. It was a result of being bombarded with ads and news coverage of the Miss America pageant. I wasn't a fan and so, wrote a tribute to women who didn't fit in the mold—women who didn't wear their hair right; women who used their heads for thinking. (Meaning no disrespect to the women in the pageant who do think... it was just that at the time, that didn't seem to be what won over the judges.)

I arranged it and recorded it as a rock song. As with so many songs recorded by independents, not just my songs, it went nowhere.

In more recent times, when my friend Harper John came to visit me in New Mexico. Harper John and I had formed a band in Hong Kong (The Lapsap Blues Band) and even after we went our ways, we collaborated. He went to The Philippines and I was in the Caribbean, almost exactly on opposite sides of the world. Then, when I was in New Mexico, USA, we decided to record an album called WORLDS APART. I came across this song again, and I asked him to sing it. He did and, as he does, he began messing with the lyrics. Soon the song had left the borders of the US and expanded into IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. Indiekline, our new band name, wasn't a rock band, but alternative, sort of folk rock, so the new arrangement was softer, more expressive.

Still, not much happened with the song (or the album). But Harper John went to Canada and continued to perform it. Eventually his version became a staple in his repertoire. Because he still riffs on it (happily) and writing down the lyrics would be a waste of time. Happily, it gets requested at his performances a surprising number of times. That pleases us both, because it is a song we both like. And his changes, his way of adapting everything he sings to current events and the current mood, keeps it alive.

Here is a video of him jamming on the song with some friends in Canada. it's as rough as Harper John's attitude. I hope you enjoy it.

Breaking News: Harper John has just entered a very unusual song of his Kyrie Eleison, Hallelu (an anthem to the universal common soldier)  in the prestigious SEARCHLIGHT 2019 music contest up in Canada 

If you'd like to vote, public voting begins on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, at 3 p.m. ET until Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, at 2:59 p.m. ET. The public can vote once per Posted Song per day during the Opening Round Voting Period.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Back to the Caribbean

My friend and colleague, J. Lee Porter and I have finished the first draft of book two in the Bipats series: CRYPTO CITIZENS. It follows on the heels of CRYPTO SHRUGGED and looks at the ramifications of smart cities, surveillance capitalism, and of course, blockchain technology. It is a story of global intrigue and the fight for individual freedom. This story takes place in Mumbai, Ecuador, Singapore, Mexico, Venezuela, and Somalia, as well as the US and Europe and even out on the oceans.

We are working through the manuscript, and when it's done it will go to the editor and so on, but expect to get it out this year.

We are hoping to find someone who is interested in this struggle to find a meaningful balance between the implementation of technology and maintaining our individuality to write an introduction. To that end, we are reaching out to some key people. Unfortunately, key people can be difficult to reach, and it is an uphill battle to get them to read unpublished books. But it was ever so.

Meantime, I'm working on a trilogy of mystery stories that feature my favorite fictional character, Ron Anejo... the hero of my THE LEGEND OF RON ANEJO. He's still in the islands, based on the mythical island of Kayakoo at the lower end of the Lesser Antilles, and sailing his old Danish fishing boat, MeinGott. Even his dog Groucho gets involved when, in the first book, a land developer from Miami is killed. The working title for this one is Death by Jumbie Eyes. And if you don't know what jumbie eyes are, they are also called crab-eyed seeds and used in Obeah, the offshoot of voodoo practiced in the Caribbean.

It will be a fun story. I hope to have all three ready to go midyear.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Keeping up with the news

H.L. Mencken famously wrote: "Prediction is always difficult, especially about the future." That statement is at once clever, dismissive, and devastatingly true. It's an issue that J. Lee Porter and I face every day as we work on our current project--writing political fiction about the social and political implications and ramifications of emerging technology, specifically, the blockchain.

The most difficult thing about writing contemporary political novels is the rapid change of real events, Sitting in my comfy chair, it was easy to predict some countries would jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon the same way in, other times, they did on offshore banking. But Belarus? That surprised me.

If the changes were even linear, they'd be easier to anticipate, but when crypto is demonized one day and lauded the next (albeit a tamed, controlled, centralized version that is hardly cryptocurrency) it's hard to know what the next chain of events will be.

What we can do, and try to do, is examine the possibilities and dangers of implementing the new technology and the ways it might be implemented--for the how is a huge factor in the consequences a technology brings. Who controls (to the extent it is controlled) it is another issue. Sometimes, as with GMO food, the public is reassured, falsely, that it is controlled. The masses must be calmed, after all, even though there never was any way to keep genetically modified plants out of the food chain, and quite likely, no intention to do so. So, fiction dealing with that must address that particular deception.

We have a similar problem in writing about distributed ledger technology, except that it's backward--we are promised the advantages of the blockchain, yet "protected" from the horrors of privacy and no central authority. Happily, those empty, yet threatening promises are great fuel for fiction. Unhappily, they are a real and contentious issue.

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he envisioned a world that was quite different from the real version, and yet, using fiction as the vehicle, told a story that was startling true. He didn't get all the facts right, but he certainly got to the heart of things. He woke some people up and upset others.

We hope to do the same with the Bitpats series of books. That's why they are standalone novels in a contemporary universe of our own making.

And now, I'm supposed to be writing a scene in a Bangkok night market and need to get my head back into the sounds and smells of Thailand.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Writing the next book

Once a book is published, it's important to promote it, and we are doing that as best we can. CRYPTO SHRUGGED is out, with reviewers and we are working on advertising.

More importantly, however, J. Lee Porter and I are at work on the next book in the Bitpats Series... CRYPTO CITIZENS.

Preserving wealth and privacy are growing more difficult. The emerging technologies are making it harder to do both, but also provide tools for doing it better--the double-edged sword strikes even more fiercely. In this book, The Retinger Occulistica are moving the goal posts for their global strategy even as individuals, and the World Bank, IMF, Interpol, and national governments look to the new tools to increase surveillance and control. They are leveraging convenience and inclusion to convince people to hand over their privacy and freedom without a fight. Meanwhile, Bitpats and free individuals work to preserve their independence and freedom in an increasingly unfree world.

The challenges are huge, the landscape is global, and the politics grow increasingly intense.

The book is going well, so if you haven't read CRYPTO SHRUGGED yet, get going so you can enjoy the next standalone story in the series.

Now available at: