Book Promo from Eden Baylee

My first promotion of Death’s Door comes from a wonderful write, blogger and supporter of Authors, Eden Baylee!

I hope you will click this link to take a look at Eden’s website and see how a promotion should be done.

DEATH’S DOOR

 

 

Eden Baylee is the renown author of Spring Into Summer

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Book Review of Gabriel’s Return

Gabriel's Return

This is something new for my blog—A Book Review!

I’ve been fighting flood waters, raging rivers and no internet for the past two weeks. My wife and I also enjoyed a great visit from our oldest son. It was unexpected and it thrilled us both. I also had a chance to read a great book by a friend so please enjoy this review and I hope you’ll give Steve Umstead’s books a try!

I’ve just finished reading Gabriel’s Return by Steve Umstead and found it a great continuation of the Evan Gabriel series. Steve Umstead’s first book, Gabriel’s Redemption, showed me the skill and great storytelling abilities of the author. Gabriel’s Return is no exception.

The story of Evan Gabriel’s return to military action starts a bit slow but the author paints a wonderful descriptive picture of life on Mars and builds to a mission made for Gabriel and his team.

Political elements on Earth plot and put into action steps to gain control and power on free governing planets. Mars is one but the planet Eden is the first step in these power brokers plan.

Eden at first seems to be the perfect world for its inhabitance but a closer look shows it to be a dangerous place to live. Plants and animals there find humans to be just another step in the food chain.

Students from Mars are on Eden to study these creatures but become hostages and used in an attempt to take control of Mars.

Evan Gabriel and his team are called in to put a stop to this power play and are sent to Eden to recover the hostages and bring the planet back under control.

Evan was the only survivor on a previous mission to Eden and the loss of the men and women of his old team still haunts him as he tries to take control of the situation.

Gabriel’s Return is a great Sci-Fi to read and I highly recommend it.

Steve Umstead is a master of showing the reader a world that we might see in the future. You won’t regret reading this series of books. I can’t wait for the conclusion of the Evan Gabriel series, Gabriel’s Revenge.

I have the privilege to know Steve Umstead from his work as a writer and as a friend on the social media. His works are all well written and well edited. I invite you to get to know Steve and his works! Look for Steve on Twitter @SteveUmstead

<p><strong><em>Gabriel’s Return</em></strong> is available as an ebook for <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Gabriels-Return-Gabriel-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B005HEXAP6” target=”_blank”><strong>Kindle</strong></a> and <a href=”http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gabriels-return-steve-umstead/1104883916” target=”_blank”><strong>Nook</strong></a>, and is also available on <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12382916-gabriel-s-return” target=”_blank”><strong>Goodreads</strong></a>.</p>
<p>More information about Steve can be found on his blog here: <a href=”http://www.SteveUmstead.com

http://www.steveumstead.com”><strong>www.SteveUmstead.com</strong></a></p&gt;

The Dragons of Thailand

Dragon of ThailandDragon of Thailand

                                                                                                    Photos by Dannie

I worry that some of what I write about while living in Thailand will give you pause to visit. I do love it here and my wee tales are taken over seven years of living and many visits before. Keep in mind that I am a Southern country boy and roam the fields and forest. I see things most westerners are smart enough not to look for.

If you come here you will not be disappointed in the beauty, magic, food and people of the Land of Smiles.

I chuckle at the title of this post. I was going to name it, Beast of Thailand, but that brings to mind animals –mammals roaming the land. You will see few wild mammals unless you visit the zoo or natural reserves.

Normal life, living in the country, is made up of birds, ants, lizards, snakes and of course dogs and cats. The variety is endless; not all good but all amazing.

We have a small house in Pathum Thani—a suburb of Bangkok and the area is known to have some large water monitor lizards- the likes you thought only lived on the island of Komodo. The good news is they are very shy. The bad news is they are big and look prehistoric.

I was riding my motorcycle along the canals that border the rice fields near my house and two lizards came out onto the road. Of course I stopped and consider turning around but I had never seen anything so big- in the lizard department. At first I thought they might have been crocs (crocodiles) but from 20 feet away I could see they weren’t. Both were longer than the road was wide—at least 9 feet- and they only gave me a glance.  They simply crossed the road and into another canal. Afterwards, I wished I had brought my camera. At the time I was just relieved they took no real notice of me.

Since that encounter I have seen a number of them, but only in the 5 foot range. All either running away or just not noticing. I have never heard of anyone being hurt by these large beast.

The water monitor has two names is Thai—neither make any sense to me. One is the proper name which in translation means, body of money- body of gold. The other is a very vulgar term but when speaking of the lizards it is okay to say. I won’t tell you what it is—it could get you in real trouble if used at the wrong time.

One other quick story about these lizards. I was walking the dogs through the brush and bushes along a narrow cattle trail. We were going to walk the dikes of a nearby rice patty. The dogs were ranging ahead when I heard them bark and then I heard what sounded like a horse or at least something heavy was running and coming my way, fast. I had only my trusty bamboo walking stick and nowhere to run so I prepared to meet whatever was coming down the narrow path.

A large seven foot monitor lizard burst around the corner heading straight at me—woo hoo, says I. Actually those weren’t the exact words that came out of my mouth.

At about ten feet away the lizard saw me and veered off the path—thank goodness. No telling what I would have done to the poor beast if I fell on him in a dead faint. They are quite shy you know.

I will continue my world of Beast of Thailand on another post. Wait until I tell you about the snakes and ants I’ve encountered. I do hope you enjoy these true tales. The life here does give plenty of fodder for writing.

The photos were taken from my upstairs balcony. That monitor lizard was only 4 or five feet long and small of body.

Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

Road through Khow Yai

                                                                                                                           Photo by Kawpodmd

 

 

Wild Elephants and the Camera Flash

I sometime take the long way—time-wise- to get back to our little farm or return to Bangkok. We travel over the mountains in Khow Yai National Park. The park has 60 kilometers of a winding mountain two lane road that goes from one side of the mountain range to the other side. The view is a tropical jungle of giant smooth barked trees with orchids growing high in their branches, sloping mountains and raging streams. There’s also a stretch that runs along the ridge tops with open glades where any kind of jungle animals can be seen. Deer no bigger than a dog, Red Stags, Great Hornbill’s standing 2 feet tall, more monkeys than anyone wants to see and the mighty elephants.

Elephants are Julee’s and my favorite. It’s hard for me to imagine something so big living free in Thailand. It only happens in the national parks.

We usually travel across the mountains near sunset because that’s when the elephants come out of the jungle to walk the road to move to a new spot. They’re really smart using the roadway—so much easier than crashing through the jungle. But it’s not often that we get to see them.

We were traveling down the mountain near a cascading river and it was almost completely dark. I saw something big ahead and slowed. It was a massive elephant and she was leading the way to a new feeding ground. I stopped and another car behind stopped 50 yards back and we turned our headlights off but left the parking lights on.

My wife loves elephants but is also terrified of them. By now you probably know I’m too dumb to be afraid.

Out of the dark marched a line of giant pachyderms in a slow easy pace. They were only two feet from the truck as they passed by. To my great delight there were two babies in the middle of the line and their trunks reached out inquisitively to sample everything around. The others kept close watch but allowed them to bounce and play as they passed by.

I grabbed my camera and held it up until my beautiful wife threatened me with her knife-like finger. I started to say something, but that too was taboo. So I settled back to enjoy the spectacle without recording it. I watched a giant’s trunk reach out to examine the back of our truck and that’s when I remembered we had a basket of mangoes fresh picked from out farm. The elephant merely passed on by. I didn’t mention the mango part until we were home. Thank goodness.

To be that close- I had rolled down the window and we could hear them breathe, smell them and hear the squeaks from the babies.  To be that close was something akin to a perfect moment for Julee and me. To her it was more than perfect even in her fear. Elephants have a special place in the heart of every Thai. We see trained elephants often but to see them free is very special.

I found out later from a ranger that the camera trick was—in his words—stupid! A number of cars are damaged every year by elephants merely brushing up against them but with babies—Don’t do that! Lesson learned until my next opportunity. We counted eighteen elephants in the herd and the ranger said that was the largest he had heard of. What a privilege to view them.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this little true story. If you like my writing you should try my fictions. You will enjoy them—I’m sure!

The Long Neck Girl and the Tiger

I spent last week in total solitude, except for the rare visit from the tiny old man who takes care of my dogs when we’re not there. There’s a big difference in being lonely and being alone.

I have a small place where I go to finish a manuscript or prepare a book for publishing. It’s by itself and surrounded by rice fields, cows and beautiful birds of every size and description. I often walk with the dogs during the day to take a break from writing and editing and I always have my bamboo walking stick to chase away other dogs, snakes and giant lizards. Through the growing season rice changes to every color of green until it turns golden when ripe. It’s very pleasing to the eyes. As I walk my mind wanders to the wonders that surround me.

My wife, daughter and I went to the far north in Thailand on one of the visits my daughter makes to see us. I had told her about the Long Neck women from the hilltribes and she wanted to meet them.

Northern Thailand is mountainous and covered in massive Teak trees and fields of beauty. On one of our stops there were sunflowers that are grown for seeds and oil. It was true beauty to see rai (a rai is about 2 acres) after rai of giant flowering sunbeams.

We stopped in Chaing Mai, a large city along the Ping River, nestled in a valley bordered by giant mountains. Chaing Mai is a beautiful city and well worth the visit.

The next day we took to the mountains and went through 1864 curves to Mea Hong Son. I know that’s how many curves there are because I have a tee shirt to prove it. Each winding turn along the way was filled with birds, trees, rivers flowing through valleys and steep mountains. It’s also dangerous because Thai still drive crazy no matter the terrain. I spent over six hour on the edge of my seat trying to avoid making us all hood ornaments so by the time we arrive in the sleepy town I was exhausted. I recharged quickly as I looked around. We were completely surrounded by lush green mountains and the people were so friendly. In Mea Hong Son we slept in small bungalows to the quite sounds of the mountains.

I love north Thailand. They speak a different dialect but also speak traditional Thai with an accent. These were my kind of people. Their slow drawl was easy for me to understand and they overlooked my tonal mistakes. I love them.

It was so cold at night, me and all the Thai’s were bundled up with whatever we could find. My daughter looked at me like I was crazy. It was 58 degrees—something I never thought possible in Thailand.

I got direction to a Karen hilltribe village—not one that all the tourist go to but a ‘real’ village. For once the directions were quite good and we arrived far back in the mountains at a quaint village. There were tourists there but not in great numbers so we walked the few narrow streets and visited with the people selling their wares. I had seen a few pictures of the Long Neck women and thought there would be a couple on display and everyone else would be ‘normal’. I was wrong. Now not every woman had those brass rings but many did. Me being me- I jumped right in to talk to them. Julee hung back in case spears started flying or in the case of the Karen, crossbow bolts, but everyone was so nice. I talked to one young girl who spoke English, German, French, Thai and of course Karen. She and other women had traveled all over Europe for cultural events.

I spoke Thai because I just couldn’t get over so many people understanding me. She had a child of about 6 months who was a delight. She let me look at her neck thingy and even brought one out for me to hold. To my surprise it was a solid piece of brass that hinged in the back and very heavy. She showed different lengths which were changed out to increase the length of one’s neck.

I was shocked to find out that after increasing the length so much the older women couldn’t take theirs off because their necks wouldn’t support their head.

The young lady had a cloth stuffed inside the fixture because of the cold. I ask why they wore them. She said it was a sign of beauty, part of their culture and for the tourist money from taking pictures and buying trinkets. I had read that originally these brass pieces had been used to protect the young girls and women from tigers. Tigers go for the neck when they attack prey. She said it was true but there hadn’t been any tigers around for a long, long time. I must say this young woman and others I met that day were some very delightful people.

If ever you get a chance to visit Thailand and go to the north you really should make the trip to Mea Hong Son. You could spent a long time in north Thailand and not see all it has to offer, but the people are the true wonders there.

I hope you enjoyed this little encounter with some of the reasons I am a writer in Thailand. I will write more of my visits to the north.

Fire Breathing Thai

We spent two months in Thailand seeing wonders of that
great country and waiting for all the proper paperwork to go through. I was
taking my bride home—my home.

To speed things up I had to—through a Thai man versed
in getting things done—buy the police chief of a big city a refrigerator. I
couldn’t believe it either—but it worked. I was slowly learning the ways of the
world but I didn’t care. I was in love with an exotic beauty and our wait was
filled with never-ending pleasures and beauty. I’m talking about Thai food, the
people and the country, among other things!

With my beauty as my guide I saw spectacular beaches,
jungle covered mountains, streams where elephants lazed as they took relief
from the heat, monks receiving alms at sunrise and I never once worried about
what was to come.

Julee didn’t let on but she was terrified to leave her
homeland with the man she loved, not really knowing much about him and where she
was going. Through the years I came to see what a commitment she undertook.
Always brave and my guiding light she is the stronger of us and often lends me
her strength.

We stopped in Hawaii for a week and I had to keep
telling her my home was much different than this place that reminded her of
home. I’m from North Carolina and it was late November. I hadn’t been home for
more than two years and the family was waiting to welcome me and my bride.

We landed at Douglas Airport in Charlotte and in those
days you had to walk from the plane across the tarmac to the terminal. It was
freezing. I felt Julee pull her hand from mine and when I looked, her hands
were covering her mouth. She was staring at me in wonder when I ask what was
wrong. She pointed at my breath as it steamed into a cloud right before her
eyes. She started to say something but it happened to her too and she refused
to lower her hands or talk.

We had no warm cloths so we were both freezing by the
time we made into the terminal and the waiting arms of my family. My mom had
brought us both heavy coats to put on. She asked me what was wrong because she
wanted to see the face of her new daughter. When I explained that Julee had
never seen her breath before everyone started laughing but then hugged her in
welcome. Thank goodness I had talked to Julee about American greetings several
times to forewarn her. Thai’s don’t touch unless they are the best of friends
or parents.

She lowered her hands and was so relieved not to see
the steam pouring out of her mouth and to look upon the smiles that were happy
to see her. My family took her in right from the start and made all the
arrangements for our wedding, reception and meeting the extended family. My
respect grew more and more for my mom and dad.

Over the next month my brother, Ben, and I took her to
see sights she never dreamed of. We went to the mountains and Julee stepped in
snow for the first time. We went to all the malls, movies and everywhere I
could think of to show her this new world.

Now we’re back home in Thailand after more than thirty
years and my little American wife misses the USA. But as always she puts up
with whatever just to make me happy.

I do hope you enjoyed this look into a writer’s life in
Thailand. Leaving comment is a way for me to know you and to know if I’ve
pleased you with my little stories!

If you would like to know about the books I’ve written
please visit my publishing website at http://smallmountainpub.com
Thank you for visiting!

Tapioca – Who knew?

My tapioca field

I’m sitting in my small corner looking out a door and window at the small farm my wife and I enjoy so much.

 Mango trees, lemongrass, hibiscus and many things I only know the Thai word for adorn my view. We have four Lee-la-wadee, the Thai name is so nice to say. They are the trees that have flowers that Hawaiian leis are made from. One is filled with burst of white flowers and the rest are a hue of red, purple and yellow all together to form beauty.

 I go about my day working, writing and just walking and I used to—every once in a while—want for conversation in English. It didn’t happen often but when it did my only outlet was my wife. That’s not a bad thing but sometimes I have things on my mind that I want to share and get answers from others. I can speak Thai but I’m not able to carry on long intellectual conversations. Thai is a simple language compared to English and even though I know many words and phrases I do often get lost. Words strung together which I know, come out making no sense. The Thai language has a word for yes and no but are rarely used in speaking.  Yes-No, means Do you agree? No-yes, means No or I don’t agree. Many questions are answered without ever using yes or no. I would ask a question and then have to run to my wife for the answer. Why couldn’t they just say yes or no?

 So when I wanted to have a conversation that I would enjoy I would have to talk to myself—in my head of course… well, most of the time. I found that this has helped my writing. I work out plots, argue out points of view and even come to consensus over where the story should go. The more I think about it, I realize I’ve done this most of my life but many times didn’t have the time to really listen.

 Now I’ve discovered the social media and it has brought friends, new friends and a wealth of talent to my door step. And they come from all over the world! I was really frightened to take the first step into Facebook, Twitter, and now blogging. I’m still uneasy about posting blogs. Why would anyone care about what I might be doing or thinking? I have friends at Twitter to thank for the encouragement and pushing me along, lifting me up and dusting me off when I fall. I would have never believed it before I tried it.

 Now, I still spend much of my time alone with my writing and farming and viewing this exotic place I live, but I also have so many great people to look to and get a pat on the back. If I miss a day of checking on friends I feel something is missing.

 Back to the point– I think. This season we’re growing tapioca as the main crop. When I first came here I thought tapioca grew on trees as tiny clear balls like I saw in pudding. Don’t laugh.

 We went to visit my wife’s sister and when I found out she grew tapioca I rushed to her big field and asked, “Where is it?” Not a tree in sight. Pi Juop laughed and pointed at the big field of large bushes. I lifted the large leaves and wanted to know where the fruit was.  I would like to tell you that my sister-in-law thinks I’m the funniest person she’s ever met because of the dumb questions I ask. Sometimes she sits on the ground and laughs while I look on wondering, “What?”

 Since the tapioca was nearly ready for harvest she got her hoe and dug one of the big bushes up and showed me some big potato-like tubers and again laughed at my confusion.

 Tapioca grows underground! Can you believe it? And it’s not just for pudding! It is dried for flour to thicken sauces, as body powder, meat and veggies are rolled in it and fried and a lot of things I’m sure I don’t understand. It can also be baked like a potato but I don’t recommend that to a real potato eater. Who knew? Not me.

 I hope you have enjoyed this post. I really would like to hear from you. You can even use big words—I have a dictionary.