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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Caribbean Compass

Years ago, I think it was back around the time of Columbus, or perhaps earlier, I was a young sailor, learning the ins and outs of living on board an old wooden vessel in the Caribbean. Information of a practical sort, the kind needed by sailors who didn't have huge budgets, was scarce. We learned from books (those things on paper, kids, not ebooks) and each other, especially each others' mistakes. I was proud to be a stellar example of how to do things wrong and thus benefit my fellow sailors.

In 1995 CARIBBEAN COMPASS was launched to solve that problem, fill that need. That first year I started writing for them, turning my own misadventures into humorous and occasionally helpful information. I wrote a monthly column for them until 2001 when we moved to St. Martin. I wrote for them sporadically after that, but they survived, even thrived without me. And today they are celebrating their 20th birthday. I have a short piece in the issue along with many other people who contributed to making the publication happen. If you have any interest in the Caribbean, sailing, or life in general, check it out. Congratulations to Sally and Tom and fair winds.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Translation fun

I'm having fun working with translators, getting stories out in various languages. Part of the fun is the various people you get to interact with. A woman in Izmir is translating a short story into Turkish and another woman is translating that story into Romanian. One of the novels, THE INVENTION OF CLAY MCKENZIE is already available in Spanish (in print and ebook). Soon it will be available in Italian and French, and by the end of the year, in Portuguese.
The questions the translators have about the English used (some of the colloquial expressions and puns don't translate well and have to be written fresh in the new language to make sense) and about the places and people give me reason to rethink what I've written. How could it be clearer? Did I miss a chance to do something really interesting here? I'm not going to change anything in the stories now, but it's great food for thought when writing the next one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Covering the Waterfront

Even with taking the time to publish Javaid Qazi's big India novel, I've still been working hard on new stories that take place in places I've come to know well. The most recent story took a bit to get right, but I persevered and now my fourth Caribbean short story, THE MISSING SKILLET is now available in ebook and paperback formats. In ebook it's only available through Amazon (it's in Kindle Unlimited, for those who subscribe) or available for only a buck.
 Some of the same characters appear in this story that are in DEATH OF A SANDMAN and SWEET DEATH, but you get to see another side of them and the other people on the sweet tropical isle of Kayakoo. Yes, math majors, that makes a total of three stories. The fourth is THE RUM SHOP (also available in Derek Marabolí's wonderful Spanish translation), which is yet another view of Kayakoo (my favorite tropical island).

Being the wanderer I am, the story I currently have in the works is another Asian story... filled with crime and backpackers and scenes of rural Cambodia in the rainy season (my favorite time). I can't say more because it isn't done yet, and even the title is subject to change.

I'm setting my sights and doing some more traveling, learning new things and new stories to tell about even more places. Eventually some of this will emerge in novel form, but for the moment, I'm enjoying the short stories. I expect to bundle some of them together when there are enough to be able to offer you a deal. In the meantime, I hope life on Kayakoo will offer some joys and surprises for you.

And as always, reviewers who would like to sing the praises of my work (or at least give an honest impression in print) can contact me through twitter at @ETeja. You can follow me there too, not that making witty, erudite or even clever tweets is my forte. But sometimes I do mention a deal on books or some other life altering facts so it might be worth it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Down on the Spanish Main

AMAZON, iTunes, Audible
It's been a few years ago since Dagny and I took Float Street to the Spanish Main for the first time. It was exciting and romantic. I've read definitions of the Spanish Main that include Florida and in fact all of the countries touching on the Caribbean, but for me it was the north coast of South America--the place where honest (right?) traders hid from the pirates in Mochima. It was a good spot. You can't see anything easily from the sea and Mochima has fresh water as well as fish, and even dyes. We sailed from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Mochima, as it happens, with an overnight stop at a small fishing village in a secluded cove (that's another story). It was fun. Dagny hooked a wahoo and I lost it for her (it's okay to blame the boat's high transom -- I did) and then something (a tuna, we were told by knowledgeable fishermen) took the large lure, almost pulling our 72-foot boat to a halt and straightening all of the hooks on the lure. This was just off Carupano for those of you with maps. I imagine the fish is still there if you want to go check.

iTunes, Audible
Anyway, remembering all this adds to my excitement in announcing that with the help of Steve Badger's narration we've brought the Martin Billings mysteries to life in audiobook form. Both UNDER LOW SKIES and DEATH BENEFITS, which take place in Venezuela and Grenada a few years back when things were still like they were during the years we were there. 

But don't waste time reading more when you can be listening to both. And if you aren't into audio, remember they are both available in ebook and paperback too.

Any reviewers out there who are interested can send me a message through twitter (@ETeja) and let me know your preferred format for review copies.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Italian Translation

I've been working with +Babelcube to get a number of my stories into other languages and it's a fascinating experience. The most recent effort is getting my short story A MEXICAN DIVORCE into Italian. The translator +Maria Antonietta Ricagno did a wonderful job (so I'm told) and it is now available through Scribd and Page Foundry. It's coming to Amazon and a variety of other outlets soon. Including Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Google Play.

For those of you whose Italian isn't so hot, the story is also available in Spanish (translated by Pablo Crescentini and available through Barnes & Noble and iTunes) and in Portugues (translated by Eduardo Paiva and available through Barnes & Noble and iTunes).

Email from a tuk tuk in Phnom Penh

The other day I got an email from Phnom Penh (Cambodia). It was part of irregular correspondence I keep up with my favorite tuk tuk driver, Thet. We exchanged greetings, I sent him a photo of our house in snow and he let me know that his wife was back at work. She works in one of the clothing factories and the workers had been on strike for some time.

Naturally all that made me think of them, and the time in Cambodia. So you get to hear about it.

In this video I posted a while back he was taking us to the Russian Market. The tuk tuk is absolutely the best way to get around Phnom Penh in my book. In the video you'll see that a lot of people prefer the motodops (a ride on the back of a motorcycle) and that can be easier and cheaper, but I find the tuk tuk feels safer and is just as much fun. And still inexpensive.

Here he is on his tuk tuk texting on his cell phone while he waits for us to come out of the guest house, as usual.

It's lovely to stay in touch. We have so little in common, but always enjoyed each other's company. We bought him an ice cream on a stick from Sorya one day and learned he'd never eaten ice cream before. That became clear when he suggested he'd save it for later. The next day at the market I bought him a REAL snack from a vendor squatting on the floor cooking them next to the fish vendor. Those were good too.

The next time I go to Cambodia you can be sure I'll send Thet an email and make sure he's there to meet me at the airport. People like Thet and his wife made our life easy. Whenever we'd go to the city, he'd meet us at the bus station and be on our payroll for the entire time we were in town. In the photo below, we'd bought a screen at this store. Delivery isn't an option at most stores, and the clerks had no idea of how anyone would get anything large to a place outside of the city. We told Thet (on the right) and the same day he put us in touch with a friend (left) who had a van we could rent. They showed up that morning at the store, helped us load the screen (for a piece Dagny was making, of course) and we all drove to Kampot.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taste of the Caribbean

In some ways, some important ways, a lot of my storytelling relates to the Caribbean. No matter where I travel, my thoughts and stories come back to it. That makes sense, as I spent an exciting 10 years there, living on a boat, sailing other people's boats, hanging out in waterfront bars (playing guitar) and in rum shops, and writing humor and poetry for Caribbean Compass. In short, my time was occupied with taking advantage of all the cultural highlights. (Dear Caribbean Tourist People, that comment was meant in jest...I not be trying to vex you.)

There is a different pace and rhythm to life there that I grew to appreciate. The people have a sense of life that's hard to capture, and that proves an exciting challenge. My first novel, THE LEGEND OF RON AÑEJO, takes place there, mostly on boats, and focused more on the sailors than the locals. While in Carriacou, I wrote a humorous short story called THE RUM SHOP that was exclusively about some of the locals, heavily fictionalized, but they seemed to recognize themselves and enjoy the story. That pleased me more than I can say. I'm going back to those roots, if that's what they are (I'm rather rootless, so I'm not entirely sure), in writing more stories that feature the people of the region as main characters. Intrigue Publishing has contracted to publish an ebook of my new short story DEATH OF A SANDMAN, which is a murder mystery featuring a local cop named Johnny Cliff. I'm working on more stories based around him, some less crime oriented than others, but all imbued with the flavor of the region. Norbert and I expect to produce audio versions of these stories as they are released (sign up for the Float Street Press newsletter to be informed of these and other exciting developments) at

In telling stories of the Caribbean, the way things are said is almost as much a part of the texture as the descriptions of the people and the place. To capture that aspect, I've partnered with Caribbean voice over artist Norbert Thomas and we've recently released and audiobook of THE RUM SHOP through Norbert Thomas is the premier Jamaican/Caribbean Voice Over Artist with an international sound and a former Radio/Television/Stage personality with over 20 yrs in media communications. 

Along with THE LEGEND OF RON AÑEJO (narrated by Paul Aulridge), the story of the world's best Caribbean boat bum, THE RUM SHOP is available through Amazon, and iTunes.

Note: If you are a reviewer and would be interested in reviewing the books or audiobooks, contact Float Street Press at