Well, thanks to Covid-19 and Governor Inslee, looks like I’ll be trapped on my little mountain for a while. No problem – basic internet (btw, satellite internet, while better than dial-up, still sucks, particularly since Windows 10 likes to suck up all my bandwidth with its constant updates).

You’re probably asking, where’s Explorer?  Still on my computer, barely moved. I know, I suck. But, due to being so freakin’ busy (I’ve had one day off in January and one in February – none in March yet), any down time I have is spent on me (usually watching a movie or reading a book).

Speaking of books, tell your friends to stock up – Amazon delivers electronically and in paper, and B&N also delivers in paper. Pick up both novels and have some fun.

20Books Vegas

On Monday I flew down to Lost Wages (aka Las Vegas) to attend the 20Booksto50K™ conference. For those unfamiliar with the organization, it’s one set up by bestselling indie authors/self-publishers Michael Anderle and Craig Martell (both of whom are great people – I hope they enjoy the whiskey I left for them) for the purpose of helping other indie authors/self-publishers (like yours truly) to become successful.

The conference, as usual, was great, inspiration, and loaded with information. I came away feeling like the kid in the Gary Larson cartoon who asks to be excused from class because his brain is full.

Along with helping me get on track writing (despite my incredibly hectic schedule), the conference gave me some inspiration in other areas.

So, what to expect? First – finish Explorer. I’m also seeking to have my novels translated into German for distribution throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (hey, when you’re compared to Karl May….), and then on to audio books and screenplays (just in case).

I’m also working on the backstory, Openings, and a YA novel set in the same timeline. I know many of you are waiting for Explorer, and I apologize for the delay, but with any luck the first draft will be finished by year’s end (then off to the alpha readers, editor, and beta readers).

As a side note, I met many authors. If I have time, I’ll read some of their books and throw some reviews out for you.

Typo, Error, or Deliberate?

Just for S&G, I decided to do a Google Search on myself (always want to see what might be happening). Today, I ran into this forum discussion at Mobile Reads:

I appears that the discussants are unsure as to whether or not the SS Guppy as described in Trekker is a mistake on my part or not. Well, considering the opportunity for getting sued for copyright infringement, what do you think? Here’s a hint – it was deliberate on my part (having grown up watching some television occasionally – like a couple of weeks every two to three years – we didn’t have television where I lived most of my growing up years – I’m aware of several of the old sitcoms).

Interestingly enough, it appears a couple of the discussants are on the right track as it relates to the story line. I sure hope they are, as I left plenty of clues in the story.

Camino de Santiago & the Next Novel

What did you do on your summer vacation James?

Well, I walked. A lot. As a matter of fact, I walked more than 1,000 kilometers. What the hell for? Lots of reasons, but sort of like Forrest Gump, I guess I just like walking.

Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but I’m not going to go into that, other than to say I saw a lot of northern Spain and didn’t have much time to write. That’s because along with walking (a lot!) I was working on a fraud case (which wrapped up last week) and teaching an online class (which wraps up today!). So, done walking, but still traveling. Done working, but still traveling. Almost done teaching, but still traveling.

Guess what else? I’m back to writing. Doing something a bit different with Explorer, in that I’m adding another voice to it. I’ve also managed to write enough to push it into novel territory finally – that means it’s now over 40,000 words long. But, being this is Sci-Fi, that means it’s only about half finished (if that much). Way to much plot to continue writing to wrap up in another 40K words.

Suicide Mice and Steeple Storks

So, here I am, basking in the Spanish sunlight as it gently caresses my skin along my saunter amongst the countryside….

Aw, BS, here I am sweltering in temps that have exceeded 107F walking along a treeless plain where the only shade is from my hat. Blisters have formed in places they shouldn’t, and the sweat has been flowing off me like Scott Glenn in Backdraft. Still, I’m enjoying myself. Watching the countryside (slowly) pass by, using my iPod to practice my Spanish, and occasionally listening to some awesome tunes (usually, late in the afternoon when I need the additional energy to make it to the next town).

So, what’s up with the Suicide Mice and Steeple Storks? Well, along the Meseta (the plain – you remember, that one in Spain where the rain mainly falls?) there is a rather extensive amount of agriculture. With agriculture come rodentia. In this case, some of the fattest mice I’ve ever seen. I’m talking FAT, like John Pinette sitting down at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet (You go now!). You can sometimes see dozens of the porkers hanging out on the trail, some too fat and lazy to even move as you step over them. Seriously, they turn their little brown beady eyes up to you as they continue to munch on whatever morsel they’ve found. Then, there are the suicide mice. You know the type. Just as you’re about to put your foot down (with all your weight and the added 20-30 pounds of pack), the little sucker runs out of the bush and stops exactly where you’re about to put that foot down. Today was a double – two of the little brown fur-balls rushed out, together – tag-teaming me – just in time to prevent me from completing that step, despite the inertia that had already taken hold. Lucky mice – they lived! Lucky me – no sprained/broken ankle.

As to steeple storks, it turns out that there’s an abundance of storks in Spain – white ones with black markings. And they seem to make their home on just about every single church steeple in Spain. Do you know how many old churches there are in Spain? Gazillions! And each one has a bell steeple/tower (I don’t know the difference – Who cares? They’ve got bells and storks – what more does one need?).  Here’s a tip – don’t walk under the steeple/bell tower. They’re big birds, if you know what I mean.

Camino de Santiago

In case some of you have wondering if I’ve dropped off the edge of the Earth, well, I have. Besides an incredibly busy spring, I’m now on the road – literally. I’m walking all 791 kilometers (that’s about 500 miles for you luddites) of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Temperatures are hovering about 40C during the day (104F) as I walk The Way between St. Jean Pied de Port, France and Santiago de Compastela, Spain.

Why the hell am I doing this? Part of it’s private, but part of it I’ll share. I walk to remember those law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, specifically, some I know and some that officers I’ve worked with know. Personally, there are four names on the small thin blue line I carry strapped to my pack whom I knew and either were killed in the line of duty or died due to wounds sustained in the line of duty.

These are their names:

  • Charley Hill, Alexandria Police Department, End of Watch 3/22/89
  • Andy Chelchowski, Alexandria Police Department, End of Watch 7/29/93
  • Morty Ford, Alexandria Police Department, End of Watch 6/18/11
  • Robin Daniels, National Park Service, End of Watch 2/28/89



Did you eat your vegetables?

Yep, still here. Busy, as is usual. While I’ve been working mostly on Explorer, I took a few days off to write a cookbook. Yes, you read that right, a cookbook! Having walked the Camino de Santiago in the Spring of 2018 in support of my wife, I decided to do the entire thing on my own this upcoming summer. Being mostly sugar-free vegan (I call myself a reluctant vegan – I do eat fish on occasion, but only cold-water varieties) I had enough difficulties last trip, so I decided to come up with a cook-book that I could make meals using locally obtained food. Just wrapped up the first draft this morning, and hope to have it out in the next couple of weeks.  As Curtis asked in Santa Clause 2, “Did you eat your vegetables?”

If interested in a free e-copy, let me know and I’ll send you one when it’s ready. I’ll be putting it on Amazon in both print and e-book version for as cheap as I possibly can (just because).

Back in the Saddle

Finally, after a couple of hectic months fighting fraud, I’m back in the writing saddle (which is actually quite funny, considering the scene I just wrote about in Openings was about saddles).

I got kind of stuck on Explorer, so decided to vent my writings on Openings. I’ve actually got that plot more developed in my mind, so I figured I might as well get it out. Over 12K words so far (put in about 3500 yesterday, but had to backtrack and delete a bunch – that whole continuity issue, so only advanced about 2800 words). For those that don’t know, putting in 1000 words in a day is what most professional authors do (Steven King apparently does about 2000 words a day, while Hemingway only wrote 500-1000). So, yeah, pumpin’ it!

Other WIP

So, along with Explorer, I’m working on two other books right now. The first is the backstory, which I’m calling Openings. It’s about when Dr. Bowman opens up the gate for the first time (the prologue in Surveyor was actually the first draft of Openings). Great plot line and really sets up for Surveyor and the YA novel I’m writing.

I’ve never written a YA (Young Adult) novel, but I’ve read enough. Those of you whom have read Heinlein’s stuff, like Tunnel in the SkyHave Space Suit, Will Travel or other similar works, or Harry Turtledove’s Crosstime series will have read some YA novels. They’re enjoyable, and I wanted to try and spread the whole multiverse concept to young readers, especially those in the 13-17 age range (although I’m sure many adult readers will enjoy it). One little tidbit – Meri is 13!