Listen to Pilot Light

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 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.