Downstairs in my kitchen

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 http://eepurl.com/O6d3H

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 Audible.com. 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, Audible.com and iTunes.

Note: If you are a reviewer and would be interested in reviewing the books or audiobooks, contact Float Street Press at publisher@floatstreetpress.com)






Monday, October 20, 2014

Page Foundry and a free ebook

We are involved in an experiment with Page Foundry. They want more visibility and so do we so they've agreed to give a free copy of my novel UNDER LOW SKIES to the first ten people who use their Caffeine Nights App to get the book. If you don't have a supported device, you can also get it from their site at http://www.inktera.com/store/title/b2cc73e0-3e8d-4c6c-ba3b-9f27dfbd756c.

The app is available at the links below. Whether you go direct or through the app, use the PIN code "teja" and remember there are only ten available and it is first come, first served.

Caffeine Nights App:



Friday, October 3, 2014

Nameless Mountain

I'm really excited that my story Nameless Mountain has just been released and is now available through Audible.comAmazon and iTunes. This is an important story for me, as it probably does a better job of reflecting the strange world I see than anything else I've writter. You can hear a sample at the sites listed and it's available in ebook and paperback for those who still prefer to read the written word.

(If you are a reviewer and the story interests you, please send me an email at publisher@floatstreet.com for an audible download code.)
The photo on the cover was taken by Guy Prentice.

Written by: Ed Teja

  • Narrated by: Jeff Bower
  • Length: 2 hrs and 44 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • The craziness that comes with the summer heat gets into your bones, fraying friendships and making even thought a chore. A road trip to some place - maybe a mountain without the weight of a name can change things. Getting three people in synch complicates things. Even choosing a route requires more tact and diplomacy than real people can muster. And finding the place might not be the right goal anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

“Last Quarter of the Moon” Long-listed for Banff Mountain Book Competition

My old friend and colleague from the Hong Kong days, Bruce Humes, has just had a book he translated from Chinese to English long-listed for a nice award.

Bruce says:
I’ve just learned that Last Quarter of the Moon, my translation of Chi Zijian’s 《额尔古纳河右岸》, has been nominated for the “Mountain Fiction and Poetry Award.” Winners will be announced November 6, 2014 at The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Banff, Alberta

You can read his post about it here. Bruce and I toiled for the same publishing company for a few years and I am happy for his success with this book and wanted more people to know about it.


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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The problem of blogging

It should be easy for a writer to manage to blog regularly. And, I am a disciplined writer, at least in the sense of getting my butt in the chair and writing, nearly every day. The days I don't write, I'm editing.

Even when traveling, I write. Sometimes only in my head, but that counts as a draft too, as I recall what I wrote and do get it down, even if I find the remembered text needs work.

But blogging is something else. It's not creating a story in the sense that writing fiction is. It isn't (and shouldn't be) simply announcements about things I want to sell you. It's about sharing thoughts or experiences.

The problem is that often those thoughts and experiences are the grist for the fiction mill. Spilling them out in a blog reduces the storehouse. That's why so many writers write about writing in their blogs. It isn't that they don't want to share other things, but that they prefer to share them in another format.

Sure you can reuse experiences, but they don't taste the same the second time. Some of the flavor goes out of them. So, to blog, I look (and wait) for things that don't suit stories and sometimes it's hard to tell what does and doesn't.





Monday, May 12, 2014

Writing and traveling

Writing and traveling are rather compatible, if you can work in strange places. For me, it is an inspiring combination. Traveling and publishing are less compatible, but as things worked out that's exactly what I'll be doing soon. We are making a trip, a road trip to Colorado to see family for the first time in a while. The timing coincides with the release of my next Martin Billings book DEATH BENEFITS from Float Street Press. Of course, there is never a right time for much of anything in this world, especially not enough time to do things right, and I am trying to get this right. So I am being more methodical than I am normally prone to be.

Jes Richardson put together a wonderful cover for the new book.

I like it because it suggests all the elements in the story. Jes did a good job of winnowing out all the junk I tried to get into it and focused on the key things.

I'm doing some last minute things to the text and getting the formatting done. I'll be doing a pre-release of the book (at a discount) through Kobo and Barnes & Noble while I'm on the road, and then it will go live in both ebook and paperback on July 10th. I'll announce the pre-release when it is up.

For those of you who haven't read the first Martin Billings book, UNDER LOW SKIES, I'll be reissuing it with a modified cover and dropping it to the price for a short time. Naturally I am hoping you will want to read both. And book #3, which takes place on a tropical Caribbean isle, is in the works. It will be out later this year. I want to get you addicted to Martin's adventures in the Caribbean, and to feel the rhythms of life there.
 Meantime, I am looking for to contact reviewers who like mystery/adventure stories. If you have a book blog and are interested in getting an advanced review copy of DEATH BENEFITS, please contact the publisher at publisher@floatstreetpress.com

Here is the blurb for the new book.


Martin Billings goes to Venezuela to get some documents signed for a friend, but the man who is supposed to sign them has gone sailing. Martin finds his sailboat burning on a beach but it's too far gone to know if he was still in it. If he was, who left him there? Who is the mystery woman he sees taking pictures of the burning boat? And why is an ex British spy interested in the man's whereabouts? Martin needs to find some answers, and preferably before Ugly Bill gets too tired of him playing detective.






Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Promoting promotion

I find promotion awkward, or rather I feel awkward promoting my own stuff. That doesn't mean I don't do it, but that it is uncomfortable and never feels quite right. But promotion is part of publishing, which is the logical consequence of writing book you want  people to read.

At the moment I am trying to let people know about my book about Ron Anejo. The people who have read it tell me they enjoy it; it's gotten good reviews. But it isn't visible. I reduced the price, but people don't see prices much. So now I am working other angles. Here is the newest.

My book is being featured on Friday May 9th 2014 at eBookSoda, a new readers' site where they'll send you ebook recommendations tailored to your taste. www.ebooksoda.com.

It's worth a try. They reach readers who don't know me or my books yet.
www.ebooksoda.com


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Making money on the road

I've spent a lot of time (years) traveling around the world, living in a fascinating variety of places, to the extent that the question "where are you from?" flummoxes me. (Okay, I've been looking for a sentence to put that word it for a long time, but it is apt.) When I explain that the answer is sort of confusing, and I'm not certain what they are asking, things get murky. But the place I was born was one I lived in for only a few weeks. Am I from there? Am I from one of the many places I grew up in? Are they asking what country issued my passport?  

Once through that nonsense, people often tell me they'd like to travel like that too--try living in other places. Unfortunately, x gets in the way (x being money, relationships, time, a new job, a recent bout of the flu, more money...).

For most of us, the issue is money. So they want to know how to make money while living on the road.

I'll explain that as best I can, from the perspective of one traveler. But first I want to mention something I've come to realize over time. The truth is that, for the majority of the people who say they want to try the traveling life, it just hasn't been as much a priority as it has been for me. I don't mean that they don't honestly and sincerely aspire to the traveling life, but they are unwilling to engage in some of the tradeoffs. You only have so much time and energy to expend in this life. If you are traveling, then clearly you aren't doing something else. Believe it or not, this goes to the heart of what it means to make money, the money it takes to live on, no matter where you live.

Note that I'm not saying I thought traveling was a better way to live, or even that it was a better use of my time than other things. I'm only saying that, for my own reasons, I have always given it a higher priority than other things. For example, we don't have many accumulated possessions. Traveling around, unless you are wealthy, means shedding things, even things that mean something to you.

The thing people ask most about the traveling life is how to make money. Not get rich money, but enough to live on in strange places. Well, the answer is complicated. The short version is that you work at whatever jobs are around you that can earn money.  Obvious, right? The next thing I often hear is, "Well that's okay for you." 

I think I know what that rather cryptic comment means. Our culture urges people to cling to labels about themselves, to think of themselves as an architect or a banker. That is limiting. You can certainly work a lot of places around the world within a label like that, but narrowing your focus can make it hard to go where you want, when you want.

Consider. I have a degree in Economics. I've never worked in that field. When I think of myself, I see a writer and musician. I've done those things for love and profit since before I was an adult. Those haven't always been useful in the places I wanted to be, at least when I wanted to be there.

So I've done office jobs (editing magazines) in Asia, put in the electrical wiring for a new restaurant in Venezuela, played music in waterfront bars in the Caribbean, and repaired things. My wife is an artist, but she is also a good carpenter, and I've assisted her (played gopher) when she built things for people (wooden shutters for a nice home, for instance).

We didn't plan any of it. (We don't even like the word plan.) Many times the work found us. Not always. Sometimes we failed. Different places have their own rules for the kind of work you are allowed to do, if you can do any at all. In places we visited that didn't allow us to work, we couldn't stay no matter how much we wanted to. In other places you need to take some time and meet people and get into the system to be allowed to work.

And all the time I wrote and my wife made art and we lived cheap.

One year, during our ten on our boat, our work time was consumed with important boat repairs. That year, my major source of income (ironically) was selling poetry. Not that I set the world on fire with my poetry, but it was an extremely good year for poetry and extremely bad for everything else. But selling a poem to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and writing a lot of poems and nonfiction for Caribbean Compass. I managed a lot of very small sales to other magazines as well and the proceeds almost kept us afloat, so to speak.

You might have noticed a (possibly pathetic) lack of a coherent vision here. That's because the dream was traveling, living on a boat, living in Asia and so on, rather than earning a living. Thus, the answer, unexciting as it might be, is that to live out on the road you do the same thing you'd do anywhere that you are having trouble getting a job. Get creative. Find someone who needs your help.

You look for activity that might require your services.

You accept what people might see as demeaning work, because eating gets to be something of a habit. And you have a great time doing it, because it means you are living the life you want to lead.

Living a traveling life has been my dream (and expectation, I should add). Being a writer has been part of that dream. The lives of writers and travelers have always fit together like a hand in  a glove in my fuzzy brain.  Sometime maybe I'll figure out how that works.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Audio and translation

As I work on the next books in the Martin Billings series, I am also getting the existing books into new venues. Through Babelcube.com, I've connected with several excellent translator. Currently both A MEXICAN DIVORCE (Traducido por Pablo Crescentini)
and IMITATING ART (Traducido por NORIS LA VALLE) will soon be available as Spanish-language ebooks. They will be available through all the normal channels (Amazon, B&N and so on).

The Spanish translation of THE INVENTION OF CLAY MCKENZIE is in the works and should be done later this summer.

I've also submitted several stories to ACX to see if I can find narrators who will bring them alive as audiobooks. Several of the stories are first-person narratives that a good professional narrator should be able to bring alive.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Keeping on keeping on

I promise myself that I will blog more often, and naturally, I don't. I get immersed in doing the writing instead of writing about the writing. That's okay, though, as life tends to have quite enough documentation already. Besides, information overload is a clear and present danger in our culture.

The truth is I've been working. Writing every day. I finished a couple of short stories (IMITATING ART and A MEXICAN DIVORCE) and the first draft of the second Martin Billings novel. This one is called DEATH BENEFITS. Like the first story, this takes place in Venezuela, along the north coast, ranging from Puerto La Cruz to Cumana.


I've sent the manuscript to Tony Held for editing and while he does his work, I am brainstorming the third one.

I've spent a bit of time researching cover designers as well. I'd like to find a consistent look for the series. I was rather happy with my own cover for the first book, UNDER LOW SKIES but I'm sure I can find something better, working with a professional designer.

It also leaves me more time for writing. As usual, I have far too many projects in the pipeline.

If things go well, you can expect to see DEATH BENEFITS out mid May.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A taste of Traveling Ed's crime fiction

Here is a great chance to get acquainted with my new fiction at no risk. The ebook of my crime short story A Mexican Divorce will be free on Amazon from March 30, 2014 to April 3, 2014.

Here is the blurb:

How is a girl supposed to have fun on vacation when blackmailers are going to try and make her pay them for pictures of it all? And what will Bart say if he finds out? Of course she can't little thing like a greedy blackmailer ruin a perfectly good setup.  

 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

An Asian story

Friends and fellow travelers have asked when I'd get around to writing a story from the years living in Asia. I did do a story of a sailor in Hong Kong, called Chancy. That one I wrote with John Pocock and it included wonderful photos by my good friend and former colleague in HK, Tom Tsui. It wasn't really about Asia, though, even though it took place there.

Now I've released a short story (99 cents for an introductory period that is as yet indeterminate) called Imitating Art. This one combines my observations of expats in SE Asia with an experience from my time in the Caribbean. (The cover photo is one I took in Thailand). If you look at the description, I billed it as a crime story, as it is, in a way. I am terrible when it comes to fitting into genre, just as I haven't ever fit well in social niches, and this is really a story about a writer, an expat, in Asia. The crimes (and it refers to more than one) are not really the issue. The title suggests the connection between the crimes and the story.

I am quite happy with this story, and would like to do more along this line, combining my interest in mysteries with explorations of Asia. It's only up on Amazon as an ebook now but it interests readers, then I'll be doing more of these.

Hemingway wrote that you need distance from a place you've been before you could write about it honestly, and I'm just beginning to understand what he meant. I am still writing stories of the Caribbean and, in some rather interesting ways, the place and people are clearer to me than it was when I lived there.  That is just starting to happen with Asia.

To help keep my other stories in front of people and hope they find more readers, I've lowered the price on the ebooks for my Venezuelan murder mystere (book one in the Martin Billings stories, as it is turning out) UNDER LOW SKIES to $3.99 and THE LEGEND OF RON ANEJO (the story of the world's best Caribbean boat bum) and FLOAT STREET NOTES to $2.99. The new prices will be reflected at Amazon and Smashwords later today and ripple through to the other outlets over time (I don't control that).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New story and a reminder

I've put a new crime short story up on Amazon, called  A Mexican Divorce. This was a fun story to write and involves Mexico only tangentially, but it does involve it. It is a story about a woman who doesn't see wedlock the same as some do, and perhaps sees the world a little different too. At any rate, it asks the question, what happens when you try to blackmail someone who doesn't play by the rules?

The story won't be available anywhere but Amazon for a time. Eventually I will collect some of the crime and mystery stories (there is no mystery in this one) into an anthology and probably make it available in both print and ebook formats.

I also want to remind you that UNDER LOW SKIES is on available in ebook format from Amazon for only $2.99 from today through the end of the month. My birthday present to you.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Where as well as when

The other day Dagny and I were talking about places we haven't lived, where it might be fun to live. There are fewer now than their used to be, largely because some places have fallen off the desirable list. I sometimes feel that McDonalds and I live in mutually exclusive worlds. Globalization is making problems for folks like us who like to drift about. Information begets more information and governments are best at increasing and complicating paperwork for doing anything. And then, places have changed since we last visited (had it really been twenty odd years since we were in Bali?) and the way the place is now is often quite different. The current edition of the place often gives romantic tinges to the memories. Although it brings advantages, globalization is also homogenizing things in ways that I find unpleasant.

What we realized is that it isn't just the place, but the time that matters. For instance. Dagny lived in Kenya a long time ago. The climate sounds perfect. She liked it. Current reports (both in the media and from people who visit Africa) make it sound less than ideal at the moment. Not that the country suddenly became a bad place, but because it is caught up in the swirl of chaotic stuff that I find uninteresting when I am feeling kindly and unpleasant when I am feeling more critical. Perhaps it is (currently) a great place to visit, but not one I would go to live (a notion subject to change). And sometimes I think of Paris. But when I see pictures of modern day Paris, I realize I am thinking of Paris in the 30s (I was there briefly in the late 50s and that would do). Not quite the same place.

I suppose this is all inevitable and I am not railing a particular place or against the forces of entropy and change. No, I am being nostalgic for places and ways of living that don't exist any longer and made unhappy by people thinking that if they have the same stores and silly crap the rest of the world has they will somehow be happy when it is quite clear that the folks who already have them are far from happy. A nice beach is pleasant. A nice beach with a guest house is fine. Add a high rise and it becomes unpleasant. Add a few boutiques and why is it different than Hawaii?

Technology is a fuel of this shift. High-tech communications and travel give people the wants. Now let me confess that although I am not a Luddite, recently I feel Ned Ludd gaining ground on me. His hot breath is on the back of my neck.

Take a look around me. Well, since you can't, I'll tell you that I have no smart phone, no tablet computer. I don't think I need them. So far, I don't want them. If I had a tablet, then it would likely be my everything computer, as this laptop is now (it replaced my desktop, so I adopt, albeit at a pace that allows glaciers to whiz by me).

I used to, when young, often feel out of place. I have lived in many, many places, giving me a lot of places to feel out of. Now I feel more out of time. Perhaps that is inevitable. Perhaps it can be cured. But the places I want to go are increasingly rooted back in time a bit (sometimes more than a bit).  Maybe if I stand still long enough, I can write contemporary novels and label them historical and thus find my niche. So you see, there is a silver lining to all this change.
(Thailand, without riots.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Goals and intentions

I have a planning allergy. Even the word gives me chills. Plans are elaborate creatures that tend to go wrong when they go at all. I am far more comfortable with goals and intentions. They seem to incur less wrath of The Powers That Be. Maybe because they are less arrogant.

That's how I see things anyway.

In line with that, my current intentions are focused on mysteries. I have written them before and want to write more. Beyond that, my intention (goal) is to absorb them as I have in the past--read other writers by the ton, both contemporary and those in the pantheon. Not that I haven't been reading mysteries, but I have read them on a causal basis, as one came to hand. But down at the library yesterday (for you younger people, that is a building that is full of books without having quite enough books in it) I was noting the size of the mystery section. I knew mysteries were popular, but it looked out of proportion. Given that librarians treasure the space available I am sure that is just my perception.

As a mystery lover, it makes sense to focus on them for a time. Reading them intensely, while writing more of my own, can't hurt. So yesterday, at that archaic building I still visit, I picked up Dorthy Sayers' Whose Body?, Georges Simenon's Maigret Bides His Time and Mickey Spillane's Black Alley and brought them home to devour.

I don't think I've set myself a difficult or onerous task.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Birthdays and Mysteries

When I lived in Venezuela I found a charming cultural difference regarding birthdays. I am not a big fan of having people throw parties for me and I am terrible at picking presents for other people. When we were invited to the birthday party of our dear friend Jose Marrero I was delighted to learn that the custom there was for the person having the birthday to invite friends to a dinner that they put on for them. Given that Jose and his lovely wife Hilda ran El Mochimero, which was the best restaurant in the country (okay I admit to a slight bias) you'll understand what a treat that was. We all had a great time.

It seems an appropriate custom to me, to celebrate another year by offering something to friends and supporters. This month is my birthday and I although can't invite everyone I'd like to over for dinner (most of you live a bit far away and the house isn't all that big), but I can offer something of value to me... one of my books. Again, with an eye on appropriateness, between February 22 and 28th I am reducing the price of my novel UNDER LOW SKIES (the cover is just to the right). The novel is a murder mystery/suspense novel based in Venezuela (mostly in Cumana and Mochima). It will be available on Amazon in ebook form for $2.99 (normally $5.99). I also have some limited copies of the paperback available. The list price is $14.99 (Amazon discounts it to $13.49) but during that week I will be happy to sell you an autographed copy for $7.99. You can order a copy by emailing me with a mailing address at edteja at gmail dotcom and I will send a paypal invoice. You can actually order them now if you want, and I will send them out that week.  For that matter if you want to order the ebook from me in any format at all, you can do it the same way. Send an email, I send a paypal invoice and off it goes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Clay McKenzie

Although writing moves on, THE LEGEND OF CLAY MCKENZIE slowly gains traction. We've gotten some wonderful reviews (thank you reviewers) and good reader feedback. So I keep looking for ways to promote it, to let more people know.

Part of the interest in the book is in the character of Stephanie Masters, a young editor who takes a risk to make certain a great book (in her opinion) gets published despite all odds. Her interest isn't entirely altruistic and she is hoping to make her mark in the industry. Taking the gamble, what it does for her and to her, is a core theme. She goes about it knowingly and here is a quote from the book, a thought she has when she irrevocably makes her decision.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

When a writer is a publisher

It's become commonplace to take the view that publishing is in chaos and that change is the only constant. Although those statements are repeated endlessly and possibly even true, I wish I would stop hearing them. My concern is that these statements confuse writers--make them think that writing is in chaos, that they need to keep a weather eye on the changes. It isn't and they don't.

Okay, the publishing business is certainly changing fast and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. How books will be sold and even what constitutes a book is up in the air. But for writers the world, the job hasn't changed at all. Being a successful writer still means writing stories people want to read. So the job is to find a story you are passionate about and tell it well. Then do the next one.

As a reader I don't want my favorite writers wasting time worrying about what ebook format or e-reader will dominate, whether their books will be read on cell phones or tablet computers, or worse yet, if the demise of the print book is real, immediate, a gradual trend, or total bullshit.I want them writing stories, thinking about storytelling. And writers have enough distractions as life is. They have enough ways to keep from writing without spending hours and days on forums bemoaning or cheering (as their belief set dictates) the changes or even lack of change in the world of publishing.

Mickey Spillaine once told a story about dealing with writer's block. With no ideas of what to write, he went to Florida for an extended vacation. He was bored. One day his accountant called and told him that his income wasn't keeping up with his outgo. The situation wasn't critical; he had money in the bank, but he needed to pay a little attention--generate some income.

Almost instantly, he said, he had several good ideas for stories. Not for ebooks, mind you. Not paperbacks. Not hardcover books. Just stories that he wanted to write.

When I hear (or read) the thoughts of many writers, however, they seem to focus on the ins and outs of publishing; they talk about distribution channels; the ups and downs of various outlets (say of Barnes & Noble) are the stuff of their day. Not stories. When money is tight, instead of it generating story ideas, that concern seems to produce thoughts (some rather desperate) about ebook pricing, how to market on social media better, and perhaps concerns about the work of their current cover artist. While the business of writing certainly means understanding, addressing and dealing with all of those things (and a lot more), if they become the primary focus, the writer becomes more publisher than writer. The person produces business and marketing strategies instead of novels. They become more business person than artist or communicator. To be your own publisher (self, indie...fixate on the terminology if you enjoy the exercise) does require finding a balance that Mickey Spillaine didn't worry about. (But rest assured that he had other balancing acts to deal with.)

Of course a person's focus is their choice, but if they are a writer I enjoy it can be a loss. My loss. And let's be honest here. I am taking the viewpoint of the reader here. If my favorite writers are spending too much time on publishing and not writing, I lose out.

Hey, that gives me an idea for a story. See, a writer has finished his book and.... No, sorry, we won't talk about it until it is done.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Albuquerque Book Signing

On Friday (Jan 3rd) I loaded up the car with books and stuff and made the drive up to Albuquerque, NM for a book signing for The Invention of Clay McKenzie at BOOKWORKS on Saturday. This is a store that does good promotion of its events. I was pleased to see the marque promoted my appearance. My cowriter, Jim Beckett was supposed to go along, but got sick and had to cancel out. So the event coordinator made adjustments accordingly, as you can see.


The staff were wonderful. Ollie hosts the events and spends time getting to know the writers and their books. He asked some questions and was well prepared.


Unfortunately, the timing wasn't the best. Jimmy Santiago Baca is a popular local poet and he was on after I was, and people were coming to see him. In addition, this event was right after the Christmas season when money for luxuries is thinner than at other times. So attendance was thin and it wasn't great from a financial point of view. The store took several books on consignment and it still might pan out, plus it was good to meet people who love books.

By the way, if you are an ebook reader, my books are in the Amazon Matchbook program, which means if you buy the paperback, or have bought it already, you can get the Kindle version for free!!