Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Second Book - Ghosts and Skeletons

My second book has now been published on, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo but hasn't taken off yet.  Maybe it is too scary for some people (just joking, it is the second edition in the "A Time Before Facebook" series).  It continues with the story of Jimmy growing up in Northern Idaho, and discovering new things and meeting new people.

This second book took much less time to write, edit and publish.  Not that I am getting better or faster at writing, but I've now learned where to publish online, how to properly format my writing and my cover designer is getting into the groove of designing my artwork.  Kasey is an artist I met in Port Alberni BC, and her work is sometimes a little morbid, but as long as I try to give her inspiration from appropriate stories in my collection, she seems to create the right visual scene.

Here is the link to the Smashwords Page for this, and my first book.

Please be sure to download your copy before the end of December for a discounted price.  Now, onto Book #3 in the Series. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tech de Monterrey, Cuernavaca Mexico.

I rent a self-contained room in a house in Lomas de Cuernavaca that is situated along a bus route that has easy access to Tech de Monterrey University.  A short walk up the street takes you to the bus pickup in front of their Lomas de Cuernavaca campus (smaller than the main university).  Many international students attend this university, and the Casa where I live is in the perfect location.  Not only that, it is relatively inexpensive compared to university housing sponsored by the university itself.

Casa Lomas has ten available rooms for rent, and of those, two are completely self contained (includes bedroom, bathroom and kitchen).  Four of the rooms include a bedroom and private bathroom, but no kitchen.  These rooms share a common kitchen area and fridge.  The self-contained units cost in the area of 4,000 - 4,500 pesos, and the smaller rooms cost between 3,000 - 3,500 pesos.  Costs include weekly cleaning, cable, internet and power/gas.

One of the things I love about Cuernavaca is the temperature.  It hover somewhere near 70-75 degrees all winter, and from October to April it is sunny most of the time.  The rainy season begins in May and runs through September each year, but rain here is usually one storm per day lasting only a few hours.  And the rain is warm, not cold.

Casa Lomas is an extremely safe house to live in.  It is located on a gated cul-de-sac with 24 hour security at the entrance.  The neighborhood itself has security at all street entrances and 24 hour guards situated at most street corners.  The house itself has a secure wall all around, a large yard, and is locked at all times.  A safe and secure home located near the university, and also a short bus ride to downtown Cuernavaca.

Any students interested in a welcoming place to live while attending university in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico should definitely consider this friendly home.  Raul and his mother Magdelena own the home and Magdelena lives at the home permanently.  Raul visits daily to maintain the yard and grounds, and swimming pool.  Please call Raul if you are interested in renting.  His cell number is 52-777-140-8307.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Taxco, Mexico

My daughter and I just returned from a fantastic Xmas Eve spent with our extended Mexican Family.  Taxco is a short one hour drive south from Cuernavaca, and is in the state of Guerrero.  It is located high in the mountains, and we decided a few months ago to book our Christmas celebration there this year.  Taxco is built on the side of a mountain, and our hotel was at the top of the mountain.  A resort/hotel called Montetaxco.

The drive was uneventful, although it rained most of the way, and we only got lost once.  I did fine when we turned off the highway (the cuota or pay highway), but when we hit a tiny section of road that was being repaired, we took a detour onto the freeway (or more dangerous highway - but free), and immediately started slowly crossing the numerous topes (speedbumps) in the road.  This was my first trip driving solo in Mexico, well solo being that there was no experienced Mexican passenger in my vehicle.  BTW, all of the tolls were 1/2 price because it was Xmas I believe.

We drove through a tiny community, and were supposed to take a right turn to re-enter the highway, but unfortunately I decided to go straight ahead, and we remained on the freeway.  This, I explained to my daughter was the scenic route up the mountains.  We passed through about three or four communities (and about a hundred topes), and after passing numerous accidents and federal police on the road, we made it to the final entrance to the toll highway before Taxco.  It was sad that people were wrecking their cars on Xmas Eve, but Mexicans don't seem to slow down much when the highways get wet and slippery.

We finally arrived at the entrance to Taxco just before dark, and our friends were waiting at the bottom of the steep hill leading up to the resort.  We asked if they had tried to drive up, and they said yes, but the couldn't make it.  Now this road up to the resort was made of cobblestones, and when they get wet, the are like driving on ice.  My new tires on my car are great for dry streets, but not great in the rain.  Anyway, my friend Raul decided to try one more time, and after watching many cars go up the hill he drove across the street to get a good run at it.

Off he went, and once he made it around the first corner and out of sight, I knew he had a good chance of making it all the way.  Now what about us?  As we sat at the bottom of the hill contemplating our next move, a man approached our car and asked if we would give him 40 pesos to drive us up the hill.  I immediately said yes, and gave him the wheel.  He drove across the highway and got a run just like Raul had done.  This guy had obviously done this many times before, so we headed for the far left of the roadway as we climbed, and basically stayed right near that side of the roadway the entire way up - which was about a mile.  The road contained one switchback after another, and we had to be careful of cars coming down and running into us because we were driving on their side of the road most of the way up.

The reason our driver did this was to stay on the side of the road nearest the uphill bank because it was drier on that side.  Once we finally reached the top (only having to back up and try one of the last hills for a second time because a car coming down made us stop in the middle of the hill), I gladly paid the driver 50 pesos.  It was worth it to make it up safely.  I wouldn't worry about getting down until we left the resort in two days.

After our driver left us to our own at the front of the hotel, we only had to drive about 1000 yards down another steep hill to the Villa's that we had all rented.  Thank god we had visited this resort a few months ago because we discovered the villa's adjoining the hotel, and their cost was about 1/2 the cost of a room in the hotel.  We not only got our own separate condo, we received all the benefits of staying in the hotel itself.  Swimming, sauna, restaurants, etc.

After checking in, it was time to have a couple of drinks and relax before changing for the Xmas Celebration.  Next - The Party.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Los Garcias Restaurant, Mexico.

My daughter arrived for the Xmas holidays on the weekend, and we went for dinner at a little restaurant south of town called Los Garcia's.  After driving to Mexico City to pick her up at the airport with my new/used car (first time driving in Mexico City), I again got to drive my car while being given directions from my best friend here in Mexico, Raul.

The restaurant was located south of Cuernavaca about 10 miles, so we took the Highway for most of the drive.  We took the Airport exit just past the Tech de Monteray University exit, and paid our 10 pesos toll.  Then we made a returono and crossed over the highway and headed east for about 2 miles.

Once we reached the restaurant we could see it was extremely busy inside.  The driveway to the parking lot in back went right past the open-air building (it did have a roof however) and it looked like almost all of the 20 or so tables was crammed with people.  Once we parked, we entered from the rear door and walked all the way to the other end, searching for a free table.  There were six adults and two tiny children in our group, so we needed almost a full table to ourselves.

As we walked through the restaurant, against the back wall were numerous cooking areas with tables in front displaying various types of food.  Soups, toquitos cooking in hot oil, tostados, burritos, etc.  We found a small family leaving as we arrived at the far end of the restaurant and we quickly snatched the table before someone else grabbed it.

We were given menus, and Raul started explaining how this restaurant worked.  It was owned by one family, and all the brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and children were the people cooking along the back wall, and the waiters were also family. The restaurant was only open Friday and Saturday evenings for dinner.  Raul wasn't sure if the family members had other jobs or just worked two nights a week.

The menu was a typical buffet of Mexican traditional foods, and for some reason, I had tomales on my mind.  Raul suggested the house specialty, which contained chicken, mole, chiles and cheese - all wrapped in a banana leaf.  He told me it was rather large, so I should probably only order one.  My daughter had never tried Pazole, so I ordered a very tiny bowl to go with my tamale so she could have a taste.

Because all the relatives working in the restaurant were constantly cooking, it only took seconds for our food to arrive.  Now I've eaten tamales before many times, and knew that the normal size was about 5 inches long by a couple inches wide and perhaps an inch thick.  When my tamale arrived my eyes almost popped out.

It was centered on a plate that was about 8 inches wide, and it actually hanged over on both sides of my plate.  Wait it gets better.  Not only was it bigger then the plate it was served on, it was folded over - not once but twice.  It was the biggest tamale I had ever seen.  I wondered how big my mini Pazole would be when it arrived.

Needless to say, it was the best tamale I had ever eaten, but I had to be lifted out of my chair before leaving.  Oh did I mention the cost.  This monster tamale was 23 pesos - about $1.50 Canadian.  Oh, and my daughter loved the Pazole until we explained what the ingredients were.

I'm glad I found this new restaurant, and will never forget the name.  My second ex-wife is currently living with a man names "Garcia".

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Procrastination, a writers greatest nemisis. Well at least mine.

Okay, I have to admit I have suffering from this for about 8 months now.  It is not that I have been sitting on the couch twiddling my thumbs, my life has been quite busy.  I had my second book edited and I published it online.  I spent 5 months in Canada living on and repairing my boat and visited all my family there.  But the writing habits that I had developed during the past couple of years were thrown out the window, and I have been dedicating my 'writing time' to other less important things.

Well, they may not be less important per se, but they are things that can sometimes be moved to a time in the day not previously assigned to writing.  This problem kind of snuck up on me, and before I knew it, I didn't even think about writing in the mornings.  Over the past few weeks I've been mentally addressing the problem, but still finding ways to keep my procrastination continuing.

How did this happen?  I don't think it is because I've now written and published two books and they are not selling as well as expected.  I don't think it is because I've reached a block in my writing abilities.  I have been writing blogs, texts, emails and other forms of written communication.  I have even written the outline for a future book to begin after my current series is completed.  I don't think it is because I'm not organized.

When I first arrived in Mexico a few winters ago, an accident immobilized me temporarily.  This accident provided me with the time to organize my entire series of books.  For each book, I established the title, chapters and even a paragraph outline on what each chapter was going to consist of and how it linked to other chapters.  I definitely had the background information prepared to keep writing until my series was complete.

So why haven't I written for almost 8 months.  Fear!  I think I reached a point where I felt that over the past year I have not received one rating or positive comment on either of my two books.  Sure, it's only been a year, but some writers get all kinds of feedback right away don't they?  I think what happened to me was self doubt took over, and was able to slowly eat away at my original inspiration.  I have to get over the presumption that my writing depends on what others think, and it is really the enjoyment I actually get from sitting down and creating.

Yesterday was and impasse day for me.  I finally said to myself 'Fuck it' and got back into book #3.  I didn't make a whole lot of progress yesterday, but I put in my usual time writing, and I feel good.  So let's get back to business and fuck everyone else.  I'm writing for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Conspiracy theories - I tried, but I just can't keep silent on politics/corruption.

People make fun of conspiracy theorists, but I don't think it will be all that funny when the environment is eventually destroyed, the it turns out the 'paranoid's' may have been right after all.  For most of us mortals the complexity of the world is mind boggling.  Wars, politics, health crisis, environmental destruction, finance, law, racial differences, water and food shortages, drugs, rich vs. poor, etc., to name a few.

For me, there are just too many world issues, and it is difficult to focus on just one or two.  When I start, it almost gives me a headache.  Many times I just decide to worry about myself and my own family and friends.  But then I seen news, certain people in the world, that are not solely concerned with just getting by and raising their families.  They have had a taste of wealth and power, and it has given them the fuel to become even richer and more powerful.

Let me try to break it down if I can.  These billionaires are the richest of the rich, who not only want power and wealth, they want complete control.  They use their wealth to purchase entire countries (well, at least the politicians running the countries), and to enact laws in their favor.  Because many countries have laws against making direct contributions, they have set up various Funds to funnel their bribes to the political parties and politicians.  For example, the Koch brothers in the USA and their 'Americans for Prosperity' Fund or Walmart and their employee political contribution program.

With politicians in their pockets, their opportunities are boundless and there is no such thing as borders.  Whatever resources they want to take anywhere in the world, they just have to have the laws of that country changed in their favor.  If people protest, they take control of the news media and mislead the public.  If they want to pay less taxes, they again have the laws changed for their benefit, in most cases making it look like the Government is giving them tax breaks to benefit local industry development, rather than to pay little or no taxes.

Buying into the banking system gives them opportunities to get cheap financing for themselves and higher financing for the general public.  Banking interests also gives them the ability to invest in foreign corporations and banks that are having difficulty, and either cleaning out the bank's assets, or gaining control over the finances of another country.

They do not care about the environment, they do not care about natural resources, they do not care about any system that provides help and assistance for the general public and they do not care about YOU.  They care about making more money, obtaining more power and control, and passing on their status to their children, so that they can continue their plundering for generations to come - with what appears to be absolutely no remorse or guilt.

They have corrupted politics to the point where lying and cheating are the normal, with absolutely no fear of punishment, and worse yet, their lies are accepted or ignored by the public.  There is no accountability by these thieves, and they not only appear to be, but actually are, above the law.  It is time to start publicly identifying these criminals so the public can see who and what they really are - just like rapists are being identified in the news of today.

So, if you think I am crazy for joining the 'conspiracy theory' group, perhaps you are right.  But on the other hand, what if I AM right? Boy is the world in trouble.