27 January 2015

Back to Shevled Projects

Now that BAD ACCOUNTS has been published, it's time to get on to writing something new.
I dream of living among the iguanas


I always have story ideas floating around in my head, but I also have a couple of projects that I simply can't decide about. One, a dark paranormal/sci-fi-ish tale, got put in a box over a year ago. After all the work I put into it, I can't see tossing it out. I've spent the past month re-reading and editing. I go between thinking it's good to thinking it's garbage. I have no idea why I can't get a real feel about this this one. I can't decide if I really like it or not.

So I went back to a novella that will be part of my Vietnam trilogy.....can't decide about that one either.

Therefore, I started the third novella.

I never, ever have more than one writing project going at the same time, so am very surprised by this. I'll work on one, then flip to the other, then think maybe I should simply start something brand new.

I suppose it has something to do with putting out a  new book. Every time I have published a new work I say to myself, THIS is the one that will get noticed!  .....and then it doesn't.....and then I think, OK, maybe the next one will do the trick. 

It's only been a month since Bad Accounts came out, so perhaps I should give it some more time. Or perhaps I should follow the advice of a friend who, noting that the story takes place in the Carmel/Monterey area of California, suggested I contact Clint Eastwood about using it for his next film project. 

Time to get back to whatever it is I'm working on this hour.

19 January 2015

Reviews are Coming In

Pia often visits the Monterey Bay Aquarium
I released my latest book, Bad Accounts, at the end of December. Soon after, I ran a five day giveaway.

And then the waiting began....maybe someone will really read my book and then maybe they will rate or review it.

I am thrilled that in less than a month since it was put up on Amazon, I have both. Even better, both readers gave Bad Accounts 5 stars. What a wonderful start to 2015.

10 January 2015

Free Download Update



My latest book, BAD ACCOUNTS was available for free download 30 Dec - Jan 2.
I had some takers, but not nearly as many as I have had with my other books in the past. I do think it has to do with genre. People look for Paranormal Romance, or Mystery, or Chic lit. The only category I could figure out for my new book was "humor".

In my experience, number of downloads has nothing whatsoever with actual readers or ratings or reviews. Maybe it is a good thing that I had less people interested in Bad Accounts. Maybe the folks who download humor might just read it.

I still think it is a good way to publicize my work....possibly the only way.
Once again, I singed up for a Facebook account, and once again I deleted it in under 5 minutes. All I did was submit my name and suddenly there was a list of very, very, scary looking folks who I "might know" and would I like to add them as friends? Where did they get these people from? Why might I know them? I know people swear by Facebook but it still scares the dickens out of me. So I will stick to my blogs, Goodreads, and the kindness of strangers.

27 December 2014

'Bad Accounts' - New Book-Free Download


 Bad Accounts    My latest book, is now available on Amazon. 


Top notch accountant Pia might have suspected her bosses of cooking the books, but when you’re fifty-two and jobs are scarce, it’s easy to look the other way. Or it is until you find out that your employers might be managing the finances of a drug cartel, right there in your hometown. Stealing a few files to implicate her bosses seemed like a good idea… until Pia finds a gun in her front yard, apparently dropped by an inept hitman.
Maybe she should have listened to Brad and quit her job instead of absconding with the incriminating documents. But it’s too late for regrets now, and she’s a marked woman. Luckily for Pia, Brad puts his surfing on hold long enough to help get her out of town and down to Ocean Beach. Unfortunately, that might not be enough. Crossing the border into Mexico may be the only answer.
From Monterey, California all the way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, aging gangsters, bungling rent-a-cops, and an out-of-his-element hitman, thwart Pia’s every move. But with the help of a few surfers and their friends, she’s determined to not only stay alive, but to see the drug cartel shut down once and for all.  
 
I'll be running a free download from 30 December - 2 January.
 
Happy New Year to all!
 
 

28 July 2014

Nha Trang Haunted - free ebook download this week

Nha Trang Haunted, an adult, paranormal romance, is available for free download on Amazon July 28 - Aug 1.


    Nha Trang, Vietnam: home to splendid beaches, tropical winds, and remnants of the Vietnam War.
How could two strangers who meet on a plane know that the odd, psychic incidents they have both been experiencing will soon forge a connection between them? Tony’s on his way to search for his father who was listed as MIA during the Vietnam War. Gabriella simply wants a few days at the beach.
    Can Tony find the father he has never known? Will Gabriella be able to quell the disturbing, ghostly visions from the past? Will their physical attraction help or hinder their circumstances?



All reviews/ratings are welcome.
Thanks!

14 July 2014

Eagle Creek Travel Gear

     I believe it was in 1994 that I purchased my  Eagle Creek Travel Wallet. Or maybe it was as late as 2000 - but surely not past then.  It is the only wallet I used while living and working in Israel, Egypt, Malaysia, and Vietnam. It traveled with me to Mexico and is the only wallet I use when in California.
     Even with all the travels and years of banging around inside my purse, it still looks reasonably new. And up until a few months ago, all the zippers and clasps worked perfectly. And then the main zipper of the billfold wouldn't stay closed.
     I tried all my fix-it tricks for zippers; nothing worked. Being rather handy with a sewing machine, I figured I could probably replace it, even if it would be a less than perfect job. Then I came up with the bright idea of simply replacing the entire wallet with a new one. After all, I had gotten my money’s worth out of it.
     I looked up their website and was disappointed to see that the 20 year old model I had was no longer available. I scoured over the specs on all the latest editions and didn't like any of them, mostly because of the fabric used but also because they just didn't seem as functional as the one I had.
     Then I remembered the “Lifetime Guarantee”. I honestly did not expect it to cover something purchased fifteen or twenty years ago, and I was correct. It covers the expected lifetime of the item, not the owner’s lifetime. Still, Eagle Creek was right here in California, they had the industrial sewing machines and the folks who knew how to use them. Try to do it myself, or send if off and pay for a repair? I chose the latter.
     Before mailing it off, I called their service center to find out if they would in fact repair my vintage wallet. The lovely rep told me to send it in and if they couldn't fix it, it would be sent back. She wasn’t sure if I would be charged.
     About two weeks after mailing my wallet to the repair facility in Carlsbad, California, I got it back with a beautiful new zipper, perfectly stitched into place. And they didn't even charge me!
     Maybe it will last me another decade – maybe Eagle Creek will produce the same style again and I’ll buy a new one. For now, I am thrilled that I was able to head back down to Puerto Vallarta knowing that my Pesos would not be flying out of my wallet.
     You just don’t get this type of quality and service anymore. As a seasoned traveler, it certainly is good to know that Eagle Creek is around and that their products are 100% reliable. 
     A huge Thank You to Eagle Creek!


14 February 2014

Where are the Medals Ceremonies?





     I love the Russian national anthem.  I’ve loved it since I first heard it played at a medals ceremony in the Olympics sometime back in the USSR era. The awarding of medals has always been one of my favorite parts of the Olympics. Not only for seeing the pride on the athletes faces and the tears running down their cheeks, but for hearing the national anthem of so many other countries. And nothing made me quite so happy as when a Soviet athlete won and I knew I would hear that gorgeous bit of music.  
     I have also always loved figure skating events. Back in the day, you didn’t have to be an expert to recognize the classic quality of Russian skaters. For years I watched their country’s skaters and coaches, whom I came to know by name. What they were like as people, what they sounded like - no one knew because they were not allowed to give interviews.
     And then the USSR fell and everything changed. Suddenly I heard, for the first time, the voice of Tatiana Tarasova who I had been watching for years. I remember the odd feeling it gave me to finally have a voice to go with the image. Unfortunately, along with the downfall of the government, out went that beautiful national anthem. I clearly remember the feeling of sadness when I realized I would never again hear it on a podium. And then they brought the anthem back!
     How thrilled was I when, the other night, the Russians took gold and silver in pairs skating. Unbelievably, the entire final round had been broadcast live, and after the final skate I readied myself for the medals ceremony. I stared at the screen in disbelief as NBC cut away and did not broadcast the event.
     For those in the US who have never watched an international sporting event from Europe, or probably any other continent, you have no idea what you are missing. For some reason, NBC thinks Americans only want to watch Americans, and only want to watch the top ten in any sport, and only late at night as a highlight reel. That’s not the way they do it elsewhere around the world. Events are shown live, beginning to end, including medals ceremonies.
     It’s hard to understand how in 2014 the Olympic coverage seems inferior to what I watched as a kid. Sure, the images are now in color and of a far better quality, but I miss seeing things like medals ceremonies and hearing other countries national anthems. One would think that all those parts missing on the broadcast would be available on NBC’s massive Olympic site, but they are not. I’m still working out how to Google in Russian to see if I can find a video of the pair’s medal ceremony.

 

31 October 2013

CURSE BREAKER - New Cover

I am happy to announce the launch of the new cover for The Curse Breaker of Cairo
 
This is my second cover by Tishia at Paragraphic Designs
I will be running a free download on Amazon on 1 November.
 
 

02 August 2013

No Man's Land will have to be a No Go


     I love live theater. What I don’t love is the cost to see a performance. With that in mind, about the closest I’ve been to a production in recent years has been to watch the Tony awards on TV. In years gone by I would keep up with news of the latest plays and especially the musicals. (In another life I will write Broadway musicals.) But I’d even given that up so as not to fell the anxiety associated with not being able to afford such luxuries.
     However, the other day while glancing through a local paper, I saw an article about Berkeley Rep's production of No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter. That normally would not have caught my eye –but the cast did. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, two of my most favorite actors, would  be live on stage, and not in San Francisco but right here in my hometown.
     I immediately went online to purchase tickets, but of course everything was sold out. The Berkeley Rep site advised me to stay tuned to Facebook and twitter for the possibility of available tickets. I tried that a few times and then decided I would call the box office.
     A lovely gentleman answered the phone and told me that some single seats were actually available. I couldn’t believe my luck and waited breathlessly while he leafed through his calendar and found a matinee ticket. I’ll take it, I said. He began to tell me where the seat was located, which I didn’t really care about, so happy was I to get a ticket. And since he hadn’t said front row, for an additional second I assumed it would be affordable. Or maybe not. I stopped him and asked the price. My heart sank when he told me it was $90. For some stupid reason I hadn’t even considered that of course there would be no such thing as a cheap seat for this play. I thanked him for his time and effort and rang off feeling quite sad.
     The two perfect men are in town, and I could be seated just a few feet away and listen to their lovely words. But it’s not to be. Downtown Berkeley is rather small and I bet I could run into the boys out having a coffee. But that won't happen either.
     One day I will be able to purchase theater tickets whenever I want and never even have to ask the price. Or at least that's what I've been telling myself for the longest time. At least I did experience about ten seconds of sheer joy thinking that I had beat the odds and scored a seat to watch Mr. McKellen and Mr. Stewart perform. And it does feel nice just knowing that they are in town.

12 July 2013

The Many Wonders of Costa Contente

Free Download on Amazon13-15 July


It’s in the town of Costa Contente that you’ll experience all kinds of marvels, and what’s more marvelous than kindness and beauty? Come to the town where you’ll meet both helpful neighbors and obliging parrots. Be sure to stop by the tavern for a cold beer and maybe a game of dominoes.  It’s a place where the sweet sea air mixes with the fragrant tropical blossoms, and where the sweetest oranges are there for the picking. The people of Costa Contente will welcome you into their homes with fresh ground coffee and homemade peach brandy. And if there is ever a problem, you can always find a potion or two that will ease the pain of a broken heart or a sore back. Stoll through the town square in the warmth of the evening and listen to the lovely melodies of a guitar seranade. Or walk along the palm tree lined shore in the early morning and wave to the fisherman. Yes, Costa Contente is there to welcome you.
My new book has just been released on Amazon.  Below are the first two chapters.
 
Warm air streamed through the open bus window as it raced along the poorly paved stretch of road, but did little to lessen the heat engulfing Solange. It was hot; so hot that the birds didn’t sing, the lizards didn’t move, and even the shadows on the ground drooped with fatigue.  She sat as still as possible, hoping that it would help keep the heat at bay. Luckily, at this pace, the trip would soon be over. On the other hand, they could break down again and she might spend another full day sweating in the uncomfortable, worn-out seat.
Had it really only been three days since she had wandered into the bus station and, after calculating how much she could afford, purchased a ticket to one of the coastal towns on the map? Aside from the discomfort and heat, it had been an uneventful trip; no one had seemed to notice the young girl of sixteen, seated in the middle row on the right. Solange had spent most of the journey staring out the window and trying to imagine the sounds of the ocean and the feel the sea air in the faraway town of Costa Contente, on the South American coastline.  
2.
Solange stepped off the bus onto the dusty, deserted street, suddenly realizing that she had no idea where she was or what she was going to do next. The bus rumbled off, leaving her to stare at the shop in front of her. The Casa de Everything & Anything, clearly empty of customers, had a closed sign hung across its open door. Walking up the wooden steps and onto a planked sidewalk, she stowed her bag under the outside bench. She turned around and looked out across the wide street and onto the town square.
Lined with trees and benches encircling an open area, it looked much like any other small town plaza. Dead quiet and empty at the lunch hour, with the exception of an occasional bird or monkey chirping in a tree, it nonetheless gave the impression of a place often filled with people. Five smaller roads branched off from the main streets around the square. Like Casa de Everything & Anything, each of the small shops facing the square had stairs leading up to a wooden walkway that ran along the entire block. Awnings jetting out from the buildings created a shaded path against the heat of noonday sun. Un-shuttered windows let in the breeze while their owners were on their midday break.
Peering inside the Casa de Everything & Anything, Solange saw shelves and tables jammed with kitchenware, buckets, sewing supplies, light bulbs, small tools, pens and pencils, and just about anything you might ever have a need for.  The only sounds came from the large grandfather clock on the side wall, its loud ticks filling the quiet air. It was only one in the afternoon, which meant everything would be shut down for another hour.
Long before Solange had stepped into that bus depot and purchased a ticket, she had seen a picture of the sea. Instantly, she had known that that was where she belonged. She had never questioned why, being born so far from the coast, she should have such an attraction for something so foreign, but she did. During her journey, the bus had occasionally swung by the shoreline offering a glimpse of the magnificent waters, but it had been all too brief. Now that she had finally arrived, it was time to set eyes on the water she had travelled so far to see.
Walking across the empty street, Solange stood at the edge of the town square and slowly spun around until she faced the road that would take her to the ocean. She set off along it and soon reached a foot path branching off to the right.
Before long, Solange began to hear a repetition of sounds that she had never heard before; a mighty roar followed by a large splash. She continued along the trail, aware of the small breezes rustling the palm fronds overhead and sifting lightly through the branches of trees that lined the dirt road. Onward she went, following the path through tropical foliage, the bends in the road obscuring what lay ahead. When her feet finally left the dirt and landed on the sand she stopped, bent down, and picked up a handful of pure white graduals. Warm, smooth, grains caressed her fingers and toes, trickling through her hands to form little piles of sparkling beauty on the ground below. She stood there for several minutes, playing with the new sensation before continuing on.
When she finally stepped around the last turn of the path she froze, staring out at the blue waters that lay before her, trying to understand what she was seeing and hearing. Pictures of the ocean, or glimpsing it from a bus window, were not the same as being in its presence. She kicked off her sandals and walked on to the water’s edge in a daze of disbelief.
Warm water lapped over Solange’s feet as she dug her toes into the moist sand, delighting in the feel of the waves rolling in and out. Hiking up her long skirt, she took a few more steps forward until the water splashed against her knees sending a few droplets all the way up to her face. Her mind remained empty; no words had yet formed to explain this new experience. She was aware only of an inner calmness that comes from knowing you are in the right place.
Dipping her hand into a receding wave, Solange scooped up a handful of water and brought it to her lips. Tentatively, she stuck the tip of her tongue into the wetness. What an odd taste; sweet and salty, and not anything she could have imagined.
She stood like that for several minutes - or was it an hour? She had lost all track of time gazing out upon the mesmerizing surf. It wasn’t until she reached up to swat a fly off her bare shoulder, which was now burning hot and moist with sweat, that she realized it was time to leave. For a moment she worried that if she turned her back on the sight it might disappear and be lost forever. Heading away from the water, she spun around every few paces to make sure the sea was still there until she finally turned a bend in the path and it was all hidden from view.
Back in town, Solange reclaimed her bag from under the bench, having to navigate around a young boy and his mother waiting for the next bus, and a small dog using her belongings as a pillow.
Casa de Everything and Anything, now opened for business, according to the sign, still seemed empty. Solange looked around her not sure what to do. But if fate had brought her to this town, and then to this particular store, she should just go ahead in and find out what awaited her.
Cautiously, she walked in and stood in the middle of the store still seeing no sign of anyone else. About to walk back out, she gathered her courage and called out in a small voice. “Excuse me?”
From behind a faded curtain that hung over the entryway to the rear of the shop and the house beyond, emerged a middle-aged man of medium build and thinning brown hair. His short-sleeved shirt hung untucked over faded, grey trousers.
“Can I help you?” he inquired.
“I’ve just arrived, sir,” replied Solange with downcast eyes, “and am looking for work and a place to stay.”
The man looked at the scraggly girl standing before him. Rarely did a stranger show up in town, and never someone so young and never unaccompanied.  He looked past her and out to the street.
“You’ve arrived alone?” he inquired. “Where’s your mother?”
Solange couldn’t respond. She hadn’t thought about anyone asking her such questions. All she could do was to look down at the sand on her feet and the damp ends of her skirt, remnants of her walk along the shore.
“Alone it is, I suppose,” said the man, realizing the young girl must be in a difficult situation. “Do you have a name?” He bent forward trying to get a glimpse of her hidden face.
Carefully, slowly, she raised first her eyes, and then her head.
“Solange, at your service, sir,” she answered in a barely audible voice.
“Such a well mannered girl,” the man replied, having pretty much given up on the day’s youth who never used the proper forms of introduction. “I am Berto. Let me get my wife.” He turned towards the curtain and called out. “Gloria, love of my life, we have a visitor.”
“How can I clean your mess if you keep interrupting me?” came the irritated reply from somewhere in the living quarters.
“Leave it for later,” her husband answered.  “We have been graced by a lovely pilgrim.”
A robust woman, apron tied around the waist of her cotton shift and clutching a dishtowel, burst through the back curtain. She brushed away loose strands of dark, graying hair from her face, stuffing them into the bun at the back of her head.
“Gloria,” her husband began, “this is -”
“Really, Berto, what’s all this yelling about?” his wife cut in.  “It’s not enough that that I have to prepare beans and eggs everyday at exactly the same hour, when it’s already hot enough to boil water without a fire,  making it even hotter, and then you won’t even give me a chance to…” It was at that point that his wife suddenly noticed that young girl standing at the counter, looking a bit bewildered and completely out of place.
“My word, Berto, why didn’t you say something?” she said, throwing her dishtowel over her shoulder and walking over to the girl. “The poor thing has had way too much sun, and from the look of the bones sticking out all over her body, hardly any food.” She turned back to her husband.
“Don’t just stand there, get her bag! I’ll take her to the back where she can cool off.” She gently took Solange by the arm and led her behind the counter and through to the main part of the house behind the store. “Come, come, my dear, you need food and water.”
Once inside the simple kitchen, Dona Gloria ushered Solange into a chair at the small table and handed her a glass of water, then turned to her husband who stood at the door.  “Oh Berto, there is no hope for you, letting her stand there, almost ready to pass out! Men - ah!”
Solange drank the cool water in slow, easy swallows, only then realizing how parched her throat had really been.
“Thank you, Dona Gloria,” she said, suddenly very grateful to be off of a bouncing bus and seated at a table in a cool kitchen.
“Eat, eat,” the woman replied, laying out dishes of food. “I bet you haven’t had a proper meal in days.”
Solange looked at her plate piled high with rice, beans and meat; she couldn’t remember the last time she had been offered such an abundance of food. Another plate held fruit, sliced and juicy, dripping with sweet aromas. She took a few bites, and almost immediately felt full.
“You poor thing,” said Dona Gloria, noticing that she had stopped eating. “It must have been a long time since you’ve had a proper meal and your stomach doesn’t quite know what to do.” She patted Solange on the shoulder. “Don’t worry; sit here awhile and take your time. I’ll have to excuse myself to finish the dishes.”
It did take a while, but Solange finished most of what was in front of her, thinking that she had never had a finer meal. With her empty plate, she walked to the sink.
“Please, Dona,” she insisted, “let me earn my meal. I can do these dishes and also the pots.”
“My dear child, look at you,” answered Dona Gloria, taking her plate. “How long has it been since you’ve slept? I know those bus rides are horrifying. I don’t even want to think about what you may have encountered, such a young girl and all alone. If earn your food is what you want, we can talk tomorrow. But for now, you must rest.”
Solange, unused to such kindness, was about to insist that she didn’t need to rest when Dona Gloria gently pushed her out of the kitchen and led her out to the back courtyard. There, she made Solange lie in a hammock slung between two, tall guava trees, their ripened fruit sweetening the air and mixing in with an abundance of fragrant flowers growing along the walls of the patio. Little birds chirped in the branches of the other fruit trees that provided protection against the hottest touches of the sun.
Solange, of course, really was very tired and soon closed her eyes in the quiet of the afternoon. She reached down to push off the ground and set the hammock rocking. Listening very carefully, she imagined she could hear the sound of rolling waves rocking her to sleep.
You can purchase a copy on Amazon, or pick up a free copy July 13-15.