Listen to Pilot Light

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.