Announcement: My Second Book is Coming

This week, I found a print shop in Tepic, Mexico, and spent thousands of Pesos on printing out the first draft of my second book.

The printer whirred and clunked, and I paced as it spat out all 303 pages.

It will be my first official novel. It’s titled, The Drifter’s Curse.

It’s the story of a young man who gets cursed in Morocco after dating the wrong girl, and wanders from country to country trying to break it.

Amid the bazaars and forbidden underground dance clubs of an ancient city, the narrator stumbles into the bloody world of real-life witchcraft. Wander with him through the foggy castles and beery pubs of the U.K.. Join him as he brings a single mother and her daughter to tour former Nazi concentration camps, earns room and board by working a farm in Spain, treks through the surreal salt caverns, mud volcanos, and eternal flames of Romania, and searches for his family on the Greek islands.

It’s a story that pushes the real world as close to fantasy as it gets. If you look back at my flight paths, I circled the globe to get it.

It is a work of fiction, but far more of it happened than you might ever think.

I have at least two more drafts to complete before I consider the final product ready. No, I don’t know how long that will take.

Beyond the story, I have a lot of decisions to make, like whether or not to find a publisher this time, or go independent again.

I invite your input and thoughts, either in comments on this post, or by emailing me at:

Thank you!

Get my first book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.


Heat. Sweat beads on every surface of my head, and runs in rivers down my temples. My mouth opens to pant like one of the skinny street dogs that scamper up and down the flooded mud roads, with their round rocks jammed together in ankle-rolling jumbles.

On my plate are three tacos and a blistered chili pepper. We’re in a building that looks like a jail cell somewhere in San Blas, a largely forgotten, beat down coastal town in Mexico.

My friend Juan covered his tacos in a creamy looking light orange salsa, an innocent looking green one, and only bothered to warn me about the third dark red, oily salsa.

Assuming I was safe with two out of three sauces, I copied him and slathered them atop the taco happily. Bit a corner of the blistered chili, and half of a taco, admiring the fresh-baked tortilla made in the bakery across the street, the tender all-day stewed cut of cheap meat, the white cabbage and cactus salsa, but soon I got hit with the flamethrower.

Every pore of mine opens, and chili oil floods out. Eyes dilate as if by a drug. It’s the type of spiciness that ignites your tongue, makes your ears pop; brings about a momentary deafness.

In that spice induced tinnitus, Juan, whose perma-sweat stains the knees of his jeans chalky white with dry sodium deposits, garbles the praises of the food. For him, it is done just right.

My American mind searches for a safe haven, but apparently real tacos aren’t served with sour cream, yogurt sauces, or even cheese. This place doesn’t have drinks, so I can’t ask for so much as a cardboard box of milk.

There’s no air conditioning in this concrete box with black bars and no glass for windows. Fans blast hot air in my face, rattling and whirling.

Sound returns, and outside, the night is frenetic with barking dogs, chattering street hawkers, babbling gossips, and the blaring horns of Ranchera music, and the pulsing speakers of boom boxes. The wings of billions of blood sucking insects beat. Smells of burning trash and coconut husks, which are set ablaze to keep the mosquitos away, float through the shop, brought in by the fan. There’s no wind.

The warm water we’ve been brought makes everything worse. Tongue turns to red ember. Eyes melt away from their sockets. Shoe leather smolders around my feet. It’s more than a meal, it’s a right of passage, a diabolical transformation.

I somehow finish the small tacos, and stumble out into the night, leaving hundreds of Pesos on the table. Juan follows me, mildly concerned, mildly amused. My head explodes in flames and I gape at him as a flaming skull.

We pass a kid with a cart full of sour candies for sale, and- are you serious? Three bottle of different hot sauces to be poured into an open bag of candy. I run from the sight, smoke trailing from behind me.

A woman sells popsicles, and tells us it’s two for one on lime with jalapeño, and pineapple chili. Juan is tempted. Those are his favorite flavors, but I breathe fire on him to voice my objection to peppered popsicle.

He finally gets the point, and orders a coconut milk popsicle for me, and takes jalapeño lime for himself. One bite of the coconut ice and I realize, I just might make it, I just might survive.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

What Brought Me to Mexico

Where I’m living lately

Though months of traveling across Europe and North Africa left me quite confident, Mexico City Airport is one of the most jumbled and chaotic I have ever seen. The layout forces you to retrace your steps across the entire airport to handle customs, your next boarding pass, get a bite, anything you need or want to do.

The seats do not face the screens at the gates, so when the boards, the announcements and the alerts on my phone were all disagreeing over whether I was departing from gate C or D, I was basically forced to sprint between the two, ask a confused staff in broken Spanish, and triple check till I was finally on the bus that drove to the plane.

From the airplane windows, I could see the patchwork of farms running up hillsides. After an hour in the air, I landed in Tepic. The plane touched down on a gleaming wet tarmac as the sun was setting yellow and orange behind rainforest mountains. The air was hot, humid, and oxygen-rich from all the greenery.

Basically, an old friend, Juan recently quit a job we used to both work. He now markets for a jungle resort between Tepic and the coastal town of San Blas. In silver-tongued Spanish, he explained to his new boss that he knew how to get a few articles in English about what a great resort this was for free: put me up in cabin and show me around for a week or so.

Soon we were seated in a seafood restaurant while Juan ordered oysters, marlin empanadas, and ceviches. We clinked micheladas, and reminisced about working for the same shrieking boss at the same rinky-dink agency, and bunkering down to weather the hurricanes of Miami.

Jetlagged and worn out, I struggled to stay awake as we pulled off the mountain highway onto a washed out pebbly dirt road. Juan got out to unlock a giant wooden and iron gate under a white arc, and I watched as a procession of leaf cutter ants walked across the road. They looked like a sliding necklace of tiny green triangles as each ant carried a carefully-sliced piece of leaf across the road.

Then it was into the grounds of the resort, arriving after dark.

Though resort is a description that needs some clarifying. The true purpose of these some 170 acres of Mexican wilderness, with its five waterfalls, jackfruit, and mango farms, is to serve as a nature preserve. The money the cabins, concrete igloos, bar, cafe, and restaurant earn all go towards that aim.

Though this means that no animals get killed on the land. Not the two types of venomous snakes, the poisonous spiders, the scorpions, or even the pumas and jaguars in the jungle.

Though I am sludgy and draggy with jet lag, and want to collapse in the cabin bed, I have to flip the pillows and toss the sheets for scorpions and and spiders. Finding one this way would be a bummer. Finding one by plopping down and rolling up would be worse.

The preserve has zip lines, hiking, kayaking, and mountain peaks. More to come on what it’s like here. There’s a spring that pours fresh water out of a tree trunk. But for now, the pillows and blankets are free of stingers, and it’s time to go to bed.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Chocolate Fit for an Aztec King

A clapboard cafe in the hills of green mountains. Rolling mist. Mild hangover.

A sip of chocolate. Quivering euphoria. A transportation. A sip of chocolate that leaves you surveying your silos of pure gold. Planning the next human sacrifice to appease the old gods. Brooding over the latest troubling news of this Cortez.

Yes, a cup of hot chocolate so good it makes you an Aztec king for just a moment.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Key Locked in Car Party

The road trip back from Guatape was going so well. We had all learned to trust the Colombian driver, who veered into oncoming traffic to get around big trucks and used every sharp turn as a kind of centrifugal slingshot through the mountain roads.

And drinking laws! Very different here. No open container laws, so we have all been provided with cool Club Colombia beers, dripping condensation onto the floor mats. Feels illegal, feels wrong, but ultimately, it’s not that hard to get used to the new lifestyle. Beers for the long drive. Green jungle plants, hazy mountains, madcap driving. All is rolling along well.

Somebody has to go to the bathroom, so we stop at a gas station.

Back outside, and I hear some kind of commotion near the car.

Try the trunk! Try the trunk. I can see crossed fingers and clenched postures.

The trunk doesn’t open.

We’re locked out of the car on the side of the Colombian highway. The keys are gleaming in the ignition.

I plop right down on the curb. We almost made it, you know? We almost made it without a hitch. Makes me consider the nature of things in general, how they rarely go off without a hitch.

But it’s not so bad, because somebody’s cousin has already been called and he’s on the way.

Another passenger has paid for a six pack and two family size bag of chips from the gas station. And we crack into everything, tear into it, and practice acceptance while someone with a break-into-a-locked-car kit hurtles down those manic roads on a motorcycle.

I drain a Club Colombia and crack a second. Stuff some crunchy chips down. What else to do? Every door has been tried, then re-tried more on superstition than anything else.

The lock guy eventually rolls up on a motorcycle. Unzips a kit in a black nylon bag. Jams an inflatable wedge in the door and pumps air into it until the door is open. Pokes a rod with a grabbing loop on the end through the crack. Lassos the lock and pop! We’re open. And the driver rescues the keys from the ignition, and we pile in. On the move again.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Rain on my Toes – Manchester, UK.

Rain on my toes! To wake me up in the middle of the night. Water found a channel in the dark ceiling overhead, here on the top bunk of a hostel in Manchester, UK.

Sleeping here because of a long train delay on the way to Wales.

The room is under a convenience store. Mountain Dew, 7-Up, Mars Bars and vapes in the shop overhead. Cranky people shuffling to the basement rooms in basketball shorts, flip flops and tank tops.

One guy selling weed to other people from his large knit cap. Somebody watching videos on his phone who really doesn’t care that most people are trying to sleep. He either doesn’t have headphones or doesn’t use them.

There’s maybe nine people in this room. The fluorescent lights turn on automatically whenever someone opens the heavy door.

Outside, rain pounds the whole city. Weekenders drunk to the gills wandered around puddles, pissing on buildings. Talking and belching loud as can be in the dark night. Most places to eat were closed by the time my late train arrived.

I wrap my feet in the dry part of the blanket and cram into the half of the bunk the drops don’t reach. Pillows over my head to shut out the world. It’s just one night, it’s just one night.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Most Vendors Do Candy

Coffee on some porch in Medellin. When a street vendor wanders by rolling a cart with candy. I shake my head no when he points at it. Then he takes something out from under the cart. Some enormous rectangular object as big as his entire wingspan. He leans it on the front of the cart and lifts it. It’s a copper relief of the last supper. In case I wanted to by that instead. Where did it come from? Nicked from a decommissioned church? He covers it back up, and walks on down the road. Someone must want guava candy, sugar cane, or an enormous copper relief.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Acting Class at the Hostel

Someone is dying.

Someone is addicted to drugs.

Someone else is heartbroken.

Enraged at a lover’s betrayal.

All poorly acted by students in the hostel courtyard.

A brash instructor watches their scenes. Cuts them off if wrong, inadequate, or underwhelming emotion is displayed.

The guys can’t cry on stage.

When the guys can’t cry, the drama instructor makes them do push-ups.

This man is going to get his tears.

It is impossible to sleep in the room with all of this going on outside in the courtyard.

But this is a beautiful room. Open air window. Here, many buildings are built this way. Without screens. High ceilings. Windows open. There’s a creek outside. You could never ask for better white noise.

Still, on with pants and t-shirt. Time to watch the acting class.

The courtyard makes a nice place to watch the class. Open air, big birch chairs.

It’s a good show. On many levels.

I can sleep late tomorrow.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Don’t Look Left or Right

Don’t look left or right, that was the final instruction before we motorbike down this street in Medellin.

Seems impossible, but if I understand the explanation correctly, the cocaine trade continues as long as it does so non-violently. This is the unofficial structure of the relative armistice of recent years.

So making eye contact with nobody, we creep and crawl, stuck in traffic down the street.

In fact, all business is conducted in the field of peripheral vision. Fingers fish folded bills from pockets and swap them for pale bricks in layers of plastic wrap, or brown paper bags. The eyes of all are always outward at the street. Words are few, and clearly eye contact would be a breach of conduct, bad form. Shocking, even.

Two neighborhood kids have been paid to sit as sentries at either end of the road, and blow a back pocket airhorn or ring a bell if police officers appear.

Forearms flick out of car windows and passenger-side windows ahead of us. Fingertips hold two-inch thick stacks of bills in bands. Dealers who don’t so much as look in the window stare down the street and toss packets and baggies through open windows. All is engine hum, rustle and murmur. No music. A notable absence.

Those selling wear brand new clothes, without a single crease, stain or fold. Starch stiff hoodies, tank tops, jeans, and factory-line clean sneakers.

Getting down this street is as slow as driving in a flash flood, in a zero visibility snow storm, in deep mud, all because of the intensity of activity in the edges of our vision. Dealers shuffling between roads of cars, double patting the side of a door when a transaction is complete.

No visible haggling, simply the small circus of fingers finding back pockets in jeans and the breast pockets of jackets, all executed without error under the pervasive and unsettling inaccuracy of gaze. Activities unexamined first and foremost by the participants involved.

Then we’re past the zone, clarity returns, and the drive continues.

Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.

Night Fell Before the Spin Cycle Ended

Nodding off in an all-night cafe/laundromat in Medellin.

Listening to the deep rumble of fifty washers rolling clothing in sudsy water.

Waiting for one fleece blanket to dry.

Retracing the steps that brought me here.

My Airbnb has a washing machine but no dryer.

But night fell before the spin cycle ended, meaning. No sun to dry the blanket for the night.

My host, an Italian grandmother living in Colombia, in a fit of nurturing aggression refused to allow me to sleep with no blanket, or even a lightly damp one.

It’s fine.

No, no! If a dampness touches here. What are these? Above the hips. Like beans. She traces the region on her own back with her thumb tips.


Yes, if a dampness from a wet shirt or blanket touches your kidneys, you get ill. So go to the laundromat. You need Pesos?

I have Pesos.

And she sent me lugging this fleece blanket under street lights one mile through the night to the laundromat.

Trying to stay awake as washers roll water in drums, and clothes tumble in sentry lines of dryers. The scent of artificial lavenders and vanillas filling the non-air conditioned air.

Waiting, staying awake, considering the many timezones and timings that must be accounted for in order for a given day to go correctly.