I’m off to kayak the Colorado River ….

colorado riverHi, friends and readers:

If you follow this website then you know I am a huge devotee of travel, especially when I am going someplace I have never been before. I’m also big on the outdoors, when it comes to vacations; I always feel rejuvenated by nature and its beauty. I like all kinds of environments: jungle, beaches, the mountains of Maine and the California coast. And, of course, I love Florida’s natural beauty, from the Georgia border to the Florida Keys.

Tomorrow I will jump on an airliner that will take me to Southern California. Several friends and I will travel the Colorado River in Nevada with our kayaks, our camping equipment, and plenty of food and alcohol. We will kayak the river for three days while camping on its banks.

I have never been on the Colorado River; I’ve only seen it from the rim of the Grand Canyon, so I am stoked. Wish me luck, friends.

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The beauty of my fishing camp on the Chassahowitzka River ….

chassaHi, friends and readers:

I’m just home from a weekend spent at one of my favorite places in the world: my fishing camp on the Chassahowitzka River. The camp is located on a one-acre island with three cabins on it. A boyhood friend owns the island and cabins, and I rent mine along a few other partners. I keep my boat at a marina up there, and we have to travel six miles out the river to reach the camp, which sits in the middle of a wildlife refuge. We have a generator, solar power, a gravity water system, and even an indoor toilet in our cabin. We also have a propane stove and refrigerator that work quite well.

My partner and I took two old friends up there with us this weekend. We drank some beer, did some fishing, and ate some great food. The weather was perfect: warm in the day and cool enough at night that we slept under blankets.

The picture I have posted here is a typical Chassahowitzka sunset, just beautiful. I’m so lucky to have my camp.

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Happiness: 35% discount on my Prizm Books titles through March 31st ….

happinessHi, friends and readers:

One of my publishers, Prizm Books, is offering a 35% discount on my titles with them. This deal is good through March 31, 2016. It’s their way of saying “Happy Easter” to my readers. My Prizm titles are Josef Jaeger, Tyler Buckspan, and Becoming Andy Hunsinger. You can reach the Prizm site to purchase these books by clicking on the covers in the sidebar to the left here.

The discount coupon code is “easter2016″.

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I’m jumping for joy. I just ran 1.5 miles ….

jumping in a fieldHi, friends and readers:

For almost forty years, beginning in my college days, I was a dedicated distance runner. I loved running and the way it made me feel afterward when my heart and lungs were pumping and those sweet endorphins flowed through my bloodstream, making me feel at peace with the world.

Sadly, those forty years of running destroyed both my knees, and after three arthroscopic knees surgeries my surgeon told me my running days were over, unless I wanted to undergo total knee replacement (TKR) surgery.

I said no to the TKR surgery for the longest time, but my knees got so bad I couldn’t hike or surf either, and those, along with running are among my favorite activities. So last year, on May 11th, I underwent bilateral TKRs. It has now been over ten months since the TKR surgery. I did all the required physical therapy, and I went to the gym three days per week to rebuild the muscle tissue in my legs that I lost from three months of being sedentary after surgery.

jump for joyToday, around three PM, I did my traditional, pre-run leg stretches, and then I went to the street and I ran 1.5 miles without stopping, and at a pretty good pace for a guy who hasn’t run in over four years. My knees felt great and so  did my legs, and when the run was over I felt so good.

I can run again!

This will be a life-changing situation for me. I plan to run three miles per day, four days per week. The other three days I’ll go to the YMCA for a workout and lap-swimming. I’ll be a picture of fitness in no time, and how good that will feel.

I’ve heard it said that distance running is addictive, and I guess I am evidence of that fact. But it’s a good addiction. It takes weight of you, it helps control your appetite, and it helps you sleep more soundly. My doctor knew I planned to resume distance running when he did my TKR surgery, so he gave me ultra-strong knee replacements that can withstand the pounding they’ll get when I run. I should be good for at least fifteen years, and that’s enough for me.

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The joy of listening to my old vinyl LPs ….

after bahting at baxter'sHi, friends and readers:

I have a substantial collection of vinyl LP albums that date from the late 1960’s through the 1980’s. I continued to listen to them until several years ago when my turntable died, and then I listened only to CDs until my partner, considerate guy that he is, bought me a super-nice turntable for my birthday about two years ago. Since then I have listened to my vinyl quite often, and that’s what I am doing this evening.

One of my most beloved vinyl albums is one I bought my junior year of high school. I can still remember the day I bought the album, and even where I bought it–a record shop in west St. Petersburg. The album is a Jefferson Airplane recording released by RCA in 1967 titled After Bathing at Baxter’s. That’s the cover you see at the top of this post. I am listening to it as I write these words.

I have always taken good care of my vinyl, and my copy of After Bathing at Baxter’s hasn’t a single scratch on it. No hisses or pops. The sound quality is superb too. Every song on the album is unique, and a few are deeply psychedelic. I did quite a few mind-bending drugs as a college student in the early 1970’s, and I always liked listening to Baxter’s when I was tripping.

One of the great lines in the album’s song titled Wild Tyme says. “It’s a wild time; I’m doing things that haven’t got a name yet.” Ah, to be a 1960’s hippie again ….

I read the other day that the Airplane’s leader and co-founder, Paul Kantner, died in January 2016, at the age of seventy-four. It’s hard for me to believe, but then, when you do the math, Baxter’s is nearly fifty years old.

How time flies ….

 

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Living on an island is the best ….

island livingHi, friends and readers:

Way back in the 1980’s I bought a three-unit apartment building on a barrier island west of St. Petersburg. It was only intended to be an investment; I never planned on living there. But after I retired I decided I wanted to live at the beach, so I remodeled two of the apartments and combined them into one, and then I moved out here in 2004.

I have never regretted my decision to live here. The sunsets and sunrises are spectacular. My neighbors are wonderful, and on weekdays it is dead quiet around here, which enables me to write with the doors and windows open during much of the year.

There is something magical about being surrounded by water; I think it has calming effect on us. I have lived here twelve years and yet I never take a single day out here for granted. I’ll be an island guy for the rest of my life.

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A beautiful photo from Venice, Italy ….

Venice, ItalyHi, friends and readers:

I suppose we all have a travel destination we dream of visiting one day, and one of mine is Venice, Italy. Despite the many times I have visited Europe I have never taken the time to visit Venice. The photo to the left, which I came across the other day, reminded me of just how much I want to see this place, preferably when it’s not tourist season, which I understand is June through September. So, maybe October would be a good month to go there?

I remember reading Machiavelli’s book The Prince when I was in college, and I still remember how the book whetted my appetite for visiting Venice. I’d like to hire a small boat and simply cruise the canals for hours, perhaps at least part of the time at night. Imagine just how beautiful the experience would be …

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An amazing trip to Southern California ….

la-jolla-coveHi, friends and readers:

I always tell people that I think travel is the most enriching experience you can allow yourself, even if it only involves camping in a state park 100 miles from your home.

Last week, a friend and I flew to San Diego, CA. His uncle owns a very nice home in La Jolla, just a few blocks from La Jolla Cove, which you see in the top photo I have posted here. It’s one of the prettiest places I have ever visited. Of course it’s also one of the most expensive communities in California, a place I could never afford. I liked it anyways ….

We spent one day attending a PGA tournament at the Torrey Pines course, which was quite beautiful. We saw many big-name golfers up close; it was a nice way to spend a day.

camp pendelton cabinsThe next day we met two friends at Camp Pendelton Marine Base, to play a round of golf on the base course, which was lots of fun. The day was beautiful:sunny and still, and just about 72 degrees F. Then, after our round we took occupancy of two oceanfront apartments located directly on the base and at the beach. The lower photo shows you what the apartments looked like. We could only stay there because one of our foursome was a retired Marine. The beach was next to a jetty, and the surf there was really good. I didn’t have my board with me but I enjoyed watching other guys surf. The waves w ere huge compared to those in Florida.

Just walking around the base was interesting. We encountered many young Marines in uniform, going about their duties. All were friendly and respectful, and I had to admire them for all the drudgery and discomforts they have to endure.

The last day we were there it stormed so we couldn’t enjoy the outdoors much, but we did build a big bonfire in one of the concrete pits the base supplies. What a treat ….

This was my first visit to Southern California in eight years, and I’m sure glad I went. Give it a try sometime, if you get the chance. You won’t be sorry you did.

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A great article on why self-promotion by writers doesn’t work ….

reading nookHi, friends, readers, and fellow authors:

Firstly, have a look at the room appearing in the photo to the left here. It’s the reading room of my dreams. I wonder where it is?

On to other matters ….

I have been writing fiction for twelve years. It took me two years before my first short story was published, five years before my first novel, Josef Jaeger, was published, and another two years before my second novel, Tyler Buckspan, was published. I spent the better part of 2015 working on a huge novel, 135,000 words, that I thought was pretty good, but about three weeks ago the fourth publisher in a row turned down my submission. They said sorry, they liked the book’s premise but it was too long. And I think they’re right, so I am rewriting portions of the book to trim them down.

If you follow this site you know I also write erotic fiction for gay men under a pseudonym. I’ve done this since 2007, and I’ve had short stories published in over twenty gay fiction anthologies released by several different publishing houses. I’ve also had about ten novels published under my pseudonym. So I’ve done okay with that genre, but still ….

After twelve years in the trenches I still have not landed a contract with a major publishing house, nor have any of my books made the best seller lists. As a writer I am still pretty much unknown.

moonscapeNow, I’ve attended a few writer’s conferences, and I spend time reading articles on how to get ahead in the publishing world, and the conventional wisdom these days seems to be that self-promotion is a major key to success in publishing. By self-promotion I mean having a website to promote your works, Tweeting daily, posting daily on Facebook and Instagram, and so forth. I know a lot of authors do this, but I’ve always wondered if they might spend that time more productively by focusing on their writing and their submissions to agents and publishers.

This morning I came across a post by an author named Delilah S. Dawson that addressed this topic in depth. Her conclusion: these days self-promotion is a waste of time. The market’s just too flooded with self-promotion, plus readers find this sort of thing annoying. I know do. Here’s a link to the article:

http://www.whimsydark.com/blog/2015/4/13/please-shut-up-why-self-promotion-as-an-author-doesnt-work

Ms. Dawson’s of the opinion that the key to success in writing is to work on making your writing better, and I could not agree more. I think I’ve written some pretty good books. My favorite is Tyler Buckspan. But I also know I can write better books if I just keep working at it. So that’s what I will do instead of spending two hours a day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If I write well enough, at some point folks will take notice, and then I’ll get where I want to go.

Have a nice Thursday, everyone.

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The beauty of Yosemite National Park; Happy New Year to my readers and friends ….

yosemite #2Hi, friends and readers:

I just returned to Florida after a holiday trip to Northern California with my partner Greg, to visit his older brother and his sister-in-law, who just had their first child, a baby girl. But we also took time to visit Yosemite National Park where we stayed at the historic Wawona Hotel inside the park for one night. We took a wonderful 2-1/2 hour hike alongside a gurgling stream near Curry Village, and we also took in some very spectacular views of El Capitan and Half Dome, two rock formations that are truly breathtaking. Snow dusted the trees and rocks; the place looked like a fairyland, and I feel so lucky to have experienced Yosemite in winter. If you ever get the chance to do so, don’t miss it.

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