Listen to Pilot Light

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Voice

Writers are commonly told that they need to find their own voice, a way to express their unique vision of the world. That's true. Who wants to sound like everyone else? What reader wants to read someone who doesn't show a personal flair?

It's less often mentioned that an author needs to find the right voice for a particular story. Every story puts its own demands on the writer. He or she is faced with selecting the parts that matter and portraying them in an interesting, effective way (with the reader getting to decide if it is interesting; the effective part is the writer's call.) That can be easy, or hard.

When I wrote THE LEGEND OF RON ANEJO (available at Amazon and everywhere else), the voice was simple enough. The story is intended to be mostly humorous and it's based, loosely (playing free with reality) on real events and people who chose to live around, in, or on boats in the Caribbean. Dagny and I were among them on our boat, and what I saw, the people I met intrigued and amused me and I wanted to capture that life. I took the role of a naive narrator relaying the antics of people around him and the world he was swept up into. Never mind that in the more real world, the one most people live in, I was directly involved. Some might say even an instigator. But nothing was ever proven and we were never caught. I mean charged.

For the book, I took a step back and told the story, focusing on the aspects that I found (dare I say it?) exciting and funny.

Jammed into the mangroves in Carriacou for a hurricane

That was relatively easy. As you can see by the photo above, at times we were all rather cheek and jowl. That provided a ready source of story material for sure. (There was, however, a rather mobile hurricane party in the mangroves that didn't make the book... maybe another time.)

The book I'm writing now is quite different. It's a serious attempt to deal with some issues that I wonder about. What they are, specifically, isn't the difficulty. The challenge is finding a way to address "issues" (see, it's an important word, warranting quotes and everything) with screwing up a perfectly good story. It's a balance between a desire to be a good storyteller and a good writer, which aren't necessarily the same thing. Most successful thriller writers are excellent storytellers. Few do much in the way of elegant or interesting writing.

There's a difference.

Finding that balance, the right approach to this story, is what currently is filling my white boards (yes, plural. I have three) with multiple colored notes, admonitions to self, and various bits and pieces of what I consider good writing. The basic story is powerful and bittersweet. This time it takes place in a border town--in Cambodia.

It's a fun struggle and that kind of challenge is one worth taking on.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Noise Level

Another friend (who is also an author and musician) and I were chatting about ideas for ways to let people know about the new work we are doing and releasing it. It's a moving target. Things work for a time, then they are discovered, someone or several someones produce podcasts about how to use the new channel and monetize it. In short order, the new idea is old hat. It's swamped with individual and corporate pitches.

It doesn't matter whether you are talking about advertising or social media channels or even word of mouth (yes, there are podcasts and seminars on getting your message into the mouth's of friends and relatives). There is nothing inherently wrong with that, I suppose, although it suggest that any useful channel becomes a race to the bottom quickly. But it is discouraging, especially for those of us who are not marketeers and don't want to become marketeers. Life is too short. I'd rather focus on enjoying the world and writing my books and music.

So, instead of becoming good at marketing and having great tips to share with my friend (and you. Of course I'd share with you) I've been studying Yuko Na karate at my neighborhood dojo and working on staying healthy so I can travel and work better, with more enthusiasm and strength (mind and body).

And I'm shifting my direction. If I can't learn how to sell, which is to a great extent because I'm an entrenched and rather stubborn bastard, I'm going to be writing the books I want to write. I can't control, or even influence the markets, but I can control the books I write.

There is a major book coming. It takes place here. I'm well into the story, but the writing, ah the writing will take time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

When The Sun and Moon Meet Over North America

Why does everyone focus on the sun? It takes two to eclipse.

Traveling Ed Teja and Harper John are both currently based in the Americas but are "on the wrong side of the street in the shadows of the night"    

so to speak  ...

Both observing the sky, and the chaotic world, and kinda wondering...

...Same Moon

Same Moon, different skies,
Watcha gonna do if the sun don't rise,
and how you gonna look me in the eyes,
It's the same Moon, surprise, surprise.

If you could see me now. Lying with the cowering dogs
of this forgotten town,
That you just lost, and I just found

From the Harper John song ...SAME MOON

The Same Night

Some other moon on the very same night
but it's not quite full and the light ain't so bright
I'm on the wrong side of the street in the shadows of the night
It's the same thing I felt before, and it's still not right.
by Ed Teja, unfinished works

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Emerging Stories

So I'm slowly evolving the first trio of new stories that take place in the same universe that I introduced in THE LEGEND OF RON ANEJO. These aren't stories about Ron, but the place... the fictional island of Kayakoo, which is incredibly loosely based on Carriacou, Grenada, which is about my most favorite island in the world. (Doesn't everyone have a list of favorite islands?) The stories are semi-cozy mysteries, featuring a local policeman named Johnny Cliff... although the people he grew up among know him as Specs.

I'll be doing a launch when all three are done are releasing them quickly. Then, if you like them, there will be a lot more Kayakoo Mysteries.

As an aside, my friend sailing buddy David Goldhill, who runs Bayaleau Cottages there (on Carriacou, not Kayakoo. The last time I checked, he wasn't fictional) sent me a photo of one of my favorite tourist destinations on the island... a portable rum shop. I decided I'd post the picture as I think it characterizes the charm (and enterprise) of the island. Enjoy. And if you go there, be sure to try the Jack Iron.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Confessions of a Jade Lord

Alat Asem’s Novel “Confessions of a Jade Lord” (时间悄悄的嘴脸)

Bruce Humes and I worked together back at Asian Sources in Hong Kong. We worked in different departments but often had lunch together, escaping the company cafeteria in favor of some local restaurant, usually in Aberdeen (Little Hong Kong) where his fluency in Cantonese came in handy. He also was fluent in Mandarin, which meant he did a lot of work for the company in Mainland China over the years. 

We both left Hong Kong and full-time trade press work, but fortunately have stayed in touch. These days he does Chinese-to-English literary translations from a variety of locations around Asia (with a short period studying in Turkey). He recently translated a novel by a bilingual Uyghur author, named Alat Asem. It's a curious work, oddly reminiscent in my strange mind of some work by contemporary Japanese novelist, at least stylistically.

You can read an excerpt of the book at and make your own decision.