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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Canada Day - There's Something in it for YOU!

On the advice of my agent (Ron) and several websites on improving sales, I've decided to offer my book in electronic format for FREE. This offer runs between July 1st and July 5th, so don't miss out! (How sales-y of me!) Hurry, there's no time! (Thank you Liam Neeson!)

This happily coincides with Canada Day and the Fourth of July, so consider it my way of celebrating our nations' birthdays. For five days only my book "Last Farmer" will be available on and (plus all the other Amazon.***) for no charge. It hurts me a little,both in the pocket and my conscience, as some kind souls have already bought the e-version, but it must be done. Nothing says celebrating your country's birthday like sitting down and reading a good book, right?

Please share this far and wide. The more downloads I get, the further up the Amazon charts my book will go and then the more likely it is that I'll sell some afterwards. (This is the working theory, at least.)

If you do download my book for free (and, ideally, enjoy it), please, please review it on Amazon. This also helps people decide whether to buy or not. If it's not your kind of read, then maybe you can pass on the information to people who like that sort of thing.

Thanks for any input you have and thanks for sharing and spreading the word! A  HUGE thanks to those of you who coughed over hard earned money already! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gratuitous Promotion of my second book - "Last Farmer"

It's been two years in the making and I'm almost ready to launch my next book through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Like all things creative, I'm excited and terrified, but I hope that you'll like the book. I'm adding the book cover and the "back cover blurb". 

Please, feel free to comment,  all input is helpful for me.

"In the dusty ruins of once verdant Earth, humanity is forced to live in bio-domes that protect them from the harsh environment of the Burn Zone. In the government controlled domes, life is highly regimented and Dax, a high school history teacher, is tired of his tedious existence, but he has a plan to fix all that.

Unfortunately for Dax, an orphan named Jake has different ideas. The boy wants Dax to abandon his dream of a cushy professorship to look for something that must surely be a fable. The government insists that the only thing outside the comfort of the domes is death, but the two will have to cross the void in an attempt to fulfill the boy’s quest.

Can Dax give up his dreams, defy his government and survive the Burn Zone, just on the whim of his student, Jake? And if he does, can he protect them both from the unknown dangers of the outside world?"

So here's the deal: I'm on an exclusive contract with Kindle for 90 days. They do provide a free app for PCs, Macs and mobile devices (including tablets) so you can read their books without owning a Kindle reader. I'm not sure how, or if, I can get the book into other formats once the 90 days is up. (Well, I know I can PDF it, but that's about it.)

The book is available on most Amazon country specific websites. The link, on the book cover, above is for the Canadian site, here's the US link: LAST FARMER

I'm the only one promoting this book, so if you can share this blog I'd be grateful! Thanks for supporting me and my endeavours, I really hope you enjoy the book.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why I Think Travel is the Key to Peace

Moulin Rouge, Paris, France
You've probably heard it many times; that travel broadens your mind. Going to new places, strange places, foreign places gives you an appreciation for how similar we, as humans, actually are, no matter how exotic our differences may seem.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
River View, Montreal, QC, Canada

Whistler, Canada

Legislative Buildings, Victoria, BC
There is something about being in a place, where you don't understand the language, the culture or, basically, anything that makes you more open to learning. You constantly ask yourself questions. "Why?" "Where?" "How?" and more often than not "What?"
Unknown Spanish Musician playing unknown instrument

No matter where you are the children still run around, laugh and have tantrums. The parents work hard and looked distracted by the little one's antics. Food is cooked, business transacted, people get married and people die. There is a oneness to the experience that makes me understand that we are all, essentially, the same. At least that is what strikes me first when I arrive in a new destination.
Kid's getting doused by firemen during the Christmas parade

Honouring fallen heroes, NYC
That's when the differences usually hit me. Why do they do things that way? How can they manage without (fill in your pet convenience)? What makes them so ardent/stoic/happy/sad? I often feel adrift in the complexities of cultural differences and nuance, but that's the point of travelling. You widen your view of what is acceptable, what is normal and what is right.
Chrysler Building New York, NY, USA
Boston, MA, USA

Si'wash Rock, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Plains of Montana
British Columbia Rockies
Sunset in Prince Edward Island
Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador
Quilatoa Lake, Ecuador
If everyone would just take the  time to absorb some of what this world has to offer (and I'm not talking about material crap, but the amazing colours, sights, experiences that are LIFE) then we would be a more peaceful people. But we're losing this, as our world shrinks because of technology and the homogeneousness that leeches into the most exotic places, there is less space for strangeness or disparity. The more we rely on the small screen of our phone to see the world, the less we are likely to open ourselves to what is actually around us.
Magi meets Modern
Kids in 9 Hour Parades
Traditional Dancers
I see it in the defacing of historic monuments and careless disrespect shown to sacred places. I see it in the angry faces of the Ugly American (a term that applies to many outside the American continents) who refuse to accept that things aren't the same as where they come from. I see it in the news, both at home and afar.

There is hope. I've met many travellers that are discovering the world with their heads up, smiles on their faces and ready to learn more about where there are in that moment. This is what leads us to peace. Not just a worldly one, but a spiritual calm as well. I know, it sounds airy-fairy, but I also believe it to be true.
Added bonus...making friends!
Sunrise over the Andes
So go out and discover the world, accept what is different and know that many paths lead to the "right" way. I only ask you to remember that you are an ambassador for your entire country, so be on your best behaviour.

"The journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step" ~ Lao Tzu (really a better translation is "Even the longest journey must begin from where you stand.")

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wow! We Have an Answer to the "Why Ecuador?" Question

If finally came to us...just today...a good answer for the dreaded "Why Ecuador?" question. Usually we say things like "why not?" or "seemed like a good idea at the time". But today was the day when we found a logical, pleasing and fairly unarguable reason to love Ecuador. It's super easy to stay healthy. Right? Who can argue with that?
Not lookin' too bad, right?
The weather is, at the very least, acceptable for outdoor activity all year round. There are lots of walking paths, parks with exercise equipment, free bikes on Sunday mornings, cheap and plentiful gyms. (We currently pay a dollar each per visit to the local gym.) Add to this the amazing places to hike in Las Cajas and the other neat places around Cuenca makes this an ideal place to retire and keep ourselves fairly fit.
Parque Paraiso (exercise equipment & great paths)

Tomebamba River - multi-use path along side
Yes, it's safe. (That's the other question we get a lot. Why would anyone move somewhere that they didn't feel was safe?) We walk almost everywhere, including toting our groceries home. The cost of living is manageable. Sure you have to learn Spanish and adjust to a simpler diet, but the other health benefits outweigh all that. By the way, living at higher altitudes requires that you eat a bit more carbs and sugars to help oxygenate the blood...that's just a little bonus. It doesn't hit my hips like it did at sea level. (YAY!)
Las Cajas - Endless pathways

So there you have it...we're here for a healthier life!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Post Holiday Blues

So what do you do after a trip of a lifetime? Apparently, I sulk. Sure it was great to be home, surrounded by our stuff, at least for the first few hours, but it felt like we were supposed to be doing something, but couldn't quite remember what it was.
What? The holiday's over???
We did the laundry, restocked the refrigerator, put the luggage back in the bodega and met up with friends. It's nice to have friends, but it has it's downfalls, too. They all wanted to know what was next for us? What new and exciting thing were we going to do as a follow up? The sad truth is that we just don't know. The world is a huge place with limitless possibilities, but sadly, the same cannot be said for our cash. Big trips take planning and saving as well as inspiration. How can we just whittle down our next destination from all the choices.

There's a lot of places in Ecuador that we'd still like to see; some near, so far, but how do you get excited when you've been to one of the mother-of-all-bucket-list places in the world? It's obvious to need to go to another one. Should it be another of the 7 wonders of the world? Should it be one of the 7 natural wonders of the world? Or one of the 7 most popular treks in the world? Why limit it to the sevens? Why not look at top twenty things?

You see where I'm going with this, right? The list gets to be overwhelming and unless we want to pile all the options in to a hat and pull one out, we may never decide what to do next. (Don't laugh, we've done the hat thing before and it worked out quite well.)

I know that the Galapagos is on many people "must see" list and so is the Amazon, and those are two things right here in Ecuador. There are tons of animals to be seen, birds to watch and waterways to traverse, so we've got a lot to look forward to. Perhaps they aren't the Wall or the Pyramids of Giza, but they are amazing in their own way. Now, all we need to do is pump up the cash reserves again, so we can get back on the travel horse and discover more of the world. Maybe we'll see you out there, somewhere!