Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Natalia: A Vigilante Thriller" now free!

Wow, I've been M.I.A. from this blog for a while!  I am still hard at work writing, currently spending a bit of time in the winter wonderland known as Mammoth Lakes, CA.  I've decided to put my suspense/thriller up on Amazon for free for the next few days.  This is the story of Natalia Nicolaeva, an innocent girl from Eastern Europe who is forced to go up against a brutal crime gang in Istanbul.  If you'd like to check it out, you can find it free for Kindle here: Natalia: A Vigilante Thriller.

I hope you like it, and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bachelor Boxed Set now available

G'Day from the land down under!  After finishing the first four books in my Bachelor Series, I've spent the last few days formatting a boxed set which includes them all:
Anyone who is interested in reading the series so far can now download them all in one file, and save $6 in the process.  All told, this file came out to just under 1,000 pages.  Whew, that's a lot of pages!  I'm not sure I ever expected to write anything nearly this long, and I'm not done yet.  Right now I'm hard at work on the next novel in the series, Bachelor Pad.  This one should be done sometime in the spring, but we'll see.  Sometimes these things just take their time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Writing in Oz

It's good to be back down under!  I've been here in Australia for about a week and a half now, visiting friends and now trying to settle in a little bit to write, surf and enjoy the ambiance of the place.  Today the surf was pretty small, so I didn't have to feel so bad when I saw this sign on the beach:

Well, it was going to be more of a writing day anyway.  You can't just mess around all the time, right?  These books won't write themselves!  So now I'm settled in to a nice cafe with a big mocha, trying to get a bit of work done.  Maybe time to turn my wifi off! :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Next Stop: Australia!

Well, the itinerant writer's tour is heading down under!  I'm off to Sydney in two more days.  When I was in high school I was an exchange student in Australia, in a smallish town in Queensland named Toowoomba.  Since that time, I visited Australia as often as I could to see old friends and travel.  Generally that meant once every five years or so.

Over the past ten years, however, as commodity prices soared, Australia got very expensive.  The economy is highly dependent on mineral resources, so their dollar went up, up, up.  Now, as commodity prices have crashed in the past six months, suddenly it's much more reasonable down there again.  So, after an 11 year hiatus, I'm headed back and can't wait to catch up with the friends I haven't seen in so long, and maybe have a few meat pies and Aussie beers, too.

Often when I'm leaving my home town of Laguna Beach and heading off to spend an extended period abroad, I feel a bit sad knowing that I won't be able to surf for a while.  This time, as I'll be taking a board along with me, I have none of those misgivings!

So off we go, to spend some time down under, catch up with people, surf, and of course, write.  What I end up working on next, and how long I'll stay down there,  I haven't entirely decided.  Sometimes it's nice to just go with the flow a little bit.  Or in my case, most times. :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Feels good to hit "publish!"

Phew, after what seemed like a lot longer than I expected, I finally got my latest version of the Bachelor Series up on Amazon.  Bachelor of Arts is now available for pre-sale!

This episode follows Samantha, who seems to have it all: a respected career as a celebrity lawyer, a handsome deputy D.A. boyfriend, a promising future... So why does one meeting with rebellious street artist Brent Cassady make her want to throw it all away?

Get it now if you want to save a few bucks!  This one will be reduced to $2.99 during pre-sale and will go up to $4.99 after its launch date on September 21st.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Good to be in Laguna Beach

As we move through these lazy days of summer, it's good to be spending some time back home in Laguna Beach, California!  Being here takes me back to my childhood, when I spent days on end lounging on these sands and swimming in the great blue Pacific with friends.

It's hard to beat this place in the summer, and I remind myself how lucky I am to call it home.  Now I've got to cut this short, as one of those childhood friends is on his way over to pick me up for a surf session!  I guess the writing will have to wait today. :-)

Update: Ok, back home after a nice surf session, with shoulder-high waves, glassy conditions and even a juvenile great white shark paying us a visit in the lineup.  They make regular appearances at this spot just south of San Onofre and I got a great view of his dorsal fin as he cruised on by.  Luckily he seemed to be minding his own business.  Now it's on to the writing for the day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Number One!

Well, it's nice to be a #1 bestseller, even if the book is free.  I'm running a free promo this week on Bachelor Number Five and it's climbed all the way up to the #1 spot on Amazon's humorous romance list.

The free giveaway runs through July 2nd, so if it's not too late you can pick up a copy here!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My office for the day

I'm still hanging out up here at Mammoth Lakes in California's Eastern Sierra.  What a beautiful start to summer!  Today was 85 degrees, light wind, and sunny blue skies.  Great for a bike ride up around the lakes and then down to Mammoth Creek, where I found this nice little spot in the shade to get some writing done while listening to the gurgling stream.

I'm very nearly done with my revisions for my latest Bachelor novel, Bachelor of Arts.  Then it will be off to the editors.  No release date yet, but it's coming soon!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Closing Day at Mammoth Mountain

It's official!  We can call it a season for skiing and snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain here in California.  The ski resort closed down for the year this afternoon, but I managed to get out to enjoy it and make some turns these last few days.

It was actually the worst ski season in nearly 40 years here in California due to the drought, and Mammoth was due to close weeks ago, but a few late season storms dropped enough snow to extend it through Memorial Day.

I always enjoy being up here in the spring to ski a bit and write a bit.  Now I guess I'll be writing a bit more.

With a warming trend on the way, though, it should be good for hiking from here on out, at least at the lower elevations.  So maybe I won't write quite so much after all...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nice Day at Fort Point

Today was stunningly beautiful in San Francisco, with a light breeze and temps near 80 degrees.  I rode my bike over to the Marina District to work in a sidewalk cafe until lunch and then went on out to Fort Point to check the surf.  It was pretty good, though crowded.

I didn't have my board with me, but still it was nice just to hang out and watch the waves, and the ships sailing in and out of the bay.  Sometimes the writer's life is not so bad!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"Bachelor of Arts" First Draft Finished!

It always feels great to get a first draft done on a novel.  You chip away and chip away over time, adding pages every day, until finally you are finished!  Whew, what a relief!  Then comes all of the revisions, but for a while it is nice to just forget about that and let the accomplishment wash over you.  That's where I'm at now with my latest novel, Bachelor of Arts.  It still needs some work, but I'm very happy to have a draft completed.  To help celebrate, I'll post the first chapter here in case anybody wants to check it out! :-)

Chapter One

     Samantha Bridges wandered through the empty storefront, running her fingers along the wall as she dreamed of what might be. She scanned the hardwood floors, scuffed from years of abuse, yet salvageable. She eyed chips on the door frames and nicks and scratches in the drywall. It wasn't these signs of the past that interested Samantha, however, it was the future that had her full attention. Sam imagined works by L.A.'s most promising young artists hanging on the walls. She saw crowds of patrons, sipping wine from plastic cups as they wandered from one room to the next on opening night. She looked toward the front window and pictured the sign she might hang in it: The Bridges Gallery.
“So what do you think?” Marguerite, the property manager, stood nearby with a phone in one hand and a briefcase in the other. “For the location, you're not going to do much better on price. The owner is eager to lease this space as soon as possible.”
“How long has it been available?” Sam asked, partly as a way to stall for time. She wanted it, there was no doubt about that. She'd wanted to open a gallery of her own for years. That wasn't what frightened her. What kept Samantha up at night was the prospect of giving up everything else she'd worked so hard for, all to chase this crazy dream that was so likely to fail, no matter how great her intentions.
“The previous tenant moved out just last week,” said Marguerite.
“What kind of business was it?”
“Bookshop. They were here for 20 years, but you know how things are. The world is changing.”
“It is at that.” Sam turned her attention once again to the space around them. There was the one large room in which they stood, with that big front window facing the street, and then toward the back a double doorway led to a second, longer room. “I do like it,” she admitted.
“I wouldn't wait too long if you think you want it,” said Marguerite. “Not that I'm trying to pressure you, but somebody else is likely to snap this place up. There aren't many commercial spaces coming available in this neighborhood. Most of the shops are well established.”
“Yeah, that's part of what I like about this area.”
“Just wait until more of the corporate tenants start moving in, and then all bets are off. I've seen it before. Rents will skyrocket. The big chains haven't discovered this little pocket yet, for whatever reason, but I'll bet you anything they will.”
“Uh huh,” Samantha replied. Just looking at the place was a nerve-wracking experience. It was one thing to have a dream, but another thing completely to face an actual, real-life decision. Especially when every bit of reason told her that opening this gallery was a terrible idea. Samantha was torn between doing the right thing and doing what she wanted. The right thing, she knew, was to stick with the status quo. Sam had worked too long and hard on her law degree to simply throw her career away. If all went as expected, in a few more years she'd make partner at her firm. She'd marry Malcolm, her deputy D.A. boyfriend. Her future would remain secure and her parents proud. What would they say if she gave it all up for this? Sam knew exactly. They'd say she was crazy, and they'd probably be right. Besides everything else, she had her debt to consider. She should be paying it down, not taking on more. The problem, however, was simple. No matter how much she wished it were otherwise, Samantha simply wasn't happy. She couldn't imagine herself ever being happy if she kept to the same path she was on. She tried telling herself that things would get better in time. Once she was married and had a few children, then maybe she would settle into some contented rhythm. She could take some time off. If Malcolm's career continued to flourish, Sam could chase her own dreams after the kids were grown up a little, or maybe off to college. But how long was that going to take? Twenty more years? The prospect of waiting filled her with dread. Sam wanted to feel excited about something again. She wanted to feel alive! Unfortunately, she also knew that Malcolm would never understand. He wasn't capable of seeing the world through anyone's perspective but his own. And what of Sam's parents? She could almost sense their disappointment already. “I'm going to have to get back to you,” Samantha said.
Marguerite didn't try very hard to hide her pity. “Don't take too long.”
“No, I won't, thanks.” Sam took one last look around before walking out the door. She wanted this. She wanted it badly. The only question was whether or not she had the guts to go for it.

Back at the law offices of Ogilvy and Hancock, Samantha faced down a pile of work. It was her normal state of affairs, though with fresh visions of an alternate reality dancing through her mind, it was even harder to face than usual. The only solution for the time being was to put all other thoughts aside and dive in. She had to lose herself in the work, shutting everything else out entirely. If she got enough done by 8:00 p.m., then she'd hurry out to see her friend Amanda's concert at a club on Sunset Boulevard. At least she still had some sort of life outside of work. The clock on her desk read 4:25 p.m. That gave her three and a half hours to churn though some of these contracts stacked on the desk in front of her. Sam picked up the page on top and began reading it over.
“Knock, knock!” A male voice came from across the room.
Sam looked up to see her assistant Justin standing in the doorway. “What do you need?” she asked.
“There's someone here to see you,” Justin answered.
Sam's eyes narrowed as she considered the interruption. “Do they have an appointment?” she asked.
“No. He said he was a friend of Piper,” Justin replied.
“I see...” said Sam, not entirely surprised. She loved Piper to death, but the girl was a little scattered.
“I wasn't sure what to tell him,” Justin continued.
“Tell him I'm busy,” said Sam.
“You got it boss.” Justin turned around.
“Wait!” Samantha was hit by a pang of guilt. She didn't want to be that person, who didn't have time to help a friend in need. Or even a friend of a friend. Besides, a little procrastination was hard to resist. She looked again to the clock and took a deep breath. “He'll have to make it quick. I'll give him ten minutes. If he wants any more, he can make an appointment, like a normal person.”
“Right.” Justin moved out of the room.
When she heard another light knock, Sam looked back up to see a man she didn't recognize standing in her doorway. He was handsome. Very handsome, with sandy blond hair and boyish features. He looked like a surfer, all grown up yet clinging to the trappings of youth. He wore a blue collared shirt, buttoned up the front and slightly wrinkled. Bluejeans led down to flip flops on his feet. This guy was definitely casual. It made sense that he was a friend of Piper's. She hung out with an eclectic crowd. What a golden boy like this wanted with a lawyer, Samantha could hardly guess. “Come on in,” she said instead, waving a hand at one of two chairs that faced her desk.
“Thanks.” Before he sat, he leaned across to offer a hand. “I'm Brent Cassady.”
“It's a pleasure to meet you.” Sam shook his hand, trying not to lose herself in his baby blue eyes. Her heart picked up a beat, despite her best intentions. She'd better be careful, she told herself. She didn't want to end up making promises she couldn't keep, just because the man was attractive. “Samantha Bridges,” she said.
Brent took a seat. “Thanks for seeing me like this. I hope you don't mind the flip flops. I didn't have time to go home first.”
Sam glanced again at his feet. “What can I do for you?” No matter how cute this guy was, Sam had work to do. She still needed to expedite this meeting as much as possible.
“I'm looking for representation,” he said.
“What kind of representation?”
Brent held his hands in front of his face and touched his fingertips together. “It's complicated. Mostly I'm just trying to be proactive.”
“Why? You're planning to rob a bank?” Sam laughed at her joke. “You know I'm a civil attorney, right? I don't handle criminal law. In fact, I primarily handle entertainment law.”
Brent seemed anxious, tilting his head to one side. “Piper told me you were a public defender.”
“I was, right out of law school, but I gave that up years ago. I'm in it for the money now.”
“I'm sorry to hear that.”
“I'm sorry to say it...” Sam looked down at her desk. The disappearance of her youthful idealism was an enduring source of shame. She'd gone into law hoping to make a difference in the world. She'd volunteered with The Innocence Project, helping to free the wrongly convicted. With the public defenders office she'd represented those too poor to hire their own attorney, but it only took a few years for her to begin feeling jaded. Too few of her clients seemed to appreciate her efforts on their behalf. Too many were guilty, often of heinous crimes. Sam had met Malcolm. At least there was that. Often she'd gone up against him, usually bargaining pleas on her clients' behalf. After a few years of it she was drained, and besides, the money was so much better on this side of things. Samantha had thrown in the towel and gone to work for her current firm. Most of her current clients were household names in entertainment. Actors, directors, producers... She still couldn't imagine what she might be able to do for this blond surfer boy, seeking some sort of “proactive representation.”
“Can I ask you something?” said Brent. “Is attorney-client privilege in effect at this point?”
“If you are seeking to become a client, then yes, it is in effect.”
“So whatever I tell you stays between us?”
“I am legally forbidden from disclosing any information you communicate to me in confidence. Even a judge cannot force me to do so.”
“All right then.” Brent lowered his hands. He seemed to relax somewhat. “See, the thing is, I'm an artist.”
“All right...” she waited for him to go on. Nothing much was going to surprise her at this point.
Brent looked Samantha over again, as though trying to get a better read of her. “You see, not all of the art I do is exactly legal.”
“So you're a street artist?”
“That's right.”
“And you're worried that you might have legal trouble at some point in the future?”
Sam shook her head to herself. At least it had been a relatively pleasant distraction, and brief. “I'm sorry Mr. Cassady, but I'm really not your girl. Not unless there's some sort of lawsuit involved.”
“But you haven't heard me out yet.” Brent seemed taken aback.
“Is there more?”
“Piper told me you were an art lover. She said you were even thinking about opening a gallery.”
“Is that what she said?” Samantha's cheeks flushed.
“Uh huh. She also said that if anyone would understand my predicament, it would be you.”
“What predicament? Here is my advice... Carry a checkbook when you indulge in your artistic shenanigans. If you get arrested, post bail. Then you can hire a lawyer before your court date. There's no need to rush things. Maybe you'll never get caught. Most vandalism cases are misdemeanors anyway. It's not that big a deal.”
“This is more complicated than you seem to think.”
“Or maybe less complicated than you do,” Samantha answered.
Brent's eyes took on a steely cast. He stared right at Samantha, not willing to back down. “Have you heard of an artist named Waldo?” he asked.
“Of course.” Sam looked at Brent Cassady with a whole new level of scrutiny. Waldo was one of the most famous names in street art. Sam had followed his career for years in the papers, occasionally going so far as to track down some of his works in person. She'd trekked down to Skid Row to see his image of a rat in a fur coat, with champagne and cigar. She'd gone to the port of L.A. to see his painting “Commerce” on the side of a rusting freighter. The mystery of Waldo was that nobody knew the artist's true identity. Nobody who would admit to it, anyway. Now she had this man sitting uneasily in her office chair, bringing up the name... “Why do you ask?” she said.
He paused for only a moment before coming out with it. “I'm Waldo.” The way he looked at her, it was as though he were dropping the biggest bombshell ever revealed. In a sense he was, to Samantha anyway. It very likely was the biggest client revelation she'd ever heard. The two of them sat staring at each other, neither saying a word. Samantha tried to compare this handsome, surfer-boy with the image of the artist as she'd always imagined him to be. But then what had she imagined? A shaggy, long-haired dropout? Or a working-class guy with tattoos and a cigarette, in paint-splattered blue overalls? Sometimes she'd thought it might actually be a woman. The artist seemed far too thoughtful to be a man. But more often Sam pictured the more obvious image; the one he cultivated himself with his choice of name. “I suppose I always thought you'd be wearing a green and white stripped shirt, with a matching knit cap,” she said.
“And the mustache?”
“Exactly. But then you'd be too easy to spot, wouldn't you?”
“I hope you're not disappointed.”
“Are you kidding? I feel like I've just been given entry into a very exclusive club.”
“You have indeed.”
“Just to set the record straight, I'm not the one who came up with the name,” he explained.
“So who did?”
“Back in the beginning I used to only put my work on walls that were already all tagged up by other artists. People made a game out of spotting my stuff amidst the chaos. Like the kids' book, you know. Somehow the name stuck.”
“Huh,” Samantha replied. She wondered if this was all just some elaborate prank. Did he have a hidden camera in his shirt button? Was she going to end up the butt of some joke in an online video? His demeanor suggested otherwise. He wasn't trying to oversell his claim, and besides, what would he have to gain by putting her on? Then again, what did he have to gain by telling her anything at all? Why give up his secret identity so easily? Just because he thought he might be arrested someday? It just didn't seem to make sense. “So what are you looking for in an attorney exactly?” she asked.
“Well, to start with, there's the issue of authentication. I might go paint a wall somewhere, which is all well and good, but what happens if some enterprising soul comes along and chisels that piece of art off the wall? Say they take it to a gallery and try to put it up for sale. Who is to say that work of art is really mine? How do they prove it? And what if I don't want them to? I mean, I'm not going to make anything off of it, right? Maybe I don't want someone to come along and destroy a perfectly good wall just because I put some paint on it?”
Samantha held her hands together as she considered the ramifications. “Mmm hmm...”
“Maybe I'm feeling generous and I do decide to give this person the proof they need? How do we communicate, when officially I'm just a ghost?”
“Through an intermediary. Ideally, a lawyer with some experience in the art world.”
“Or at the very least an interest in art. Of course, to me it's all absurd anyway. I mean, why should a piece of art be worth any more or less just because one person painted it or another? If it looks just the same? I mean, what is art, right? Is it something to look at and admire, or perhaps learn from, or is it just a commodity to be locked away somewhere while you wait for the value to go up? Is it a status symbol, like a Maserati, or a 200-year-old bottle of wine? There is a pretty good chance that wine is going to be undrinkable, but it's the rarity that give it value. It's the ability for one man to say, 'I own that bottle and you can't have it, because there is only one left in the world.' It's not about the wine, really, at all. Just like it's not about the art. It's about the power.”
“I understand, but an object is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. The bottom line is the bottom line.”
“And the human race is a peculiar species.”
“I won't argue with you there,” Samantha agreed.
“Of course, this kind of thing creates complications for a guy like me.”
“Which is where a lawyer comes in.”
The wheels in Samantha's head started spinning. She couldn't help it. Sam had heard about some of Waldo's works selling for upwards of $1 million apiece. What if she could get him as a client for her gallery? What if she represented him legally, but also as an artist? She did some calculations in her head. The math wasn't hard. If she sold one “Waldo” per month in her new gallery at half a million dollars each, taking the standard 50 percent commission, that was an annual gross of $3 million, for each of them. That was her rent, and overhead and marketing expenses, plus a profit more than twice what she was making at this law firm that was sucking the life out of her. But would he go for that kind of deal? She had to remind herself, he was the one who had come to her. That gave her at least a little leverage, as far as she could see. “How do you actually make your money?” she asked him. “If you just go around painting walls without asking anything in return? Do you really just give your work away for free?”
“I've got a day job,” he said. “Art for me isn't about the money. The art itself has to be the motivation, pure and simple. Not that I don't sell a few things, here and there. It helps keep me solvent.”
“I've read that you're more than solvent.”
“I have a little squirreled away,” he admitted. “For a rainy day.”
“I see,” said Samantha. “So how do you go about it, then? Someone has to be helping you. You're not making million dollar art deals without the help of a lawyer?!”
Look, I'm not here to hire a contracts lawyer. This isn't about selling my work. I've got more pressing concerns than that.”
“Right...” Samantha's own enthusiasm waned. If he didn't need someone to represent his art, what good was he to her? She couldn't afford to take him on as a charity case. Sam looked to the clock on her desk. It read 5:42 p.m. If she was going to make it to Amanda's concert, she was going to have to get some work done first.
“Let me tell you a quick story,” Brent said to her. “If you have a few more minutes.”
Samantha cocked her head to one side, trying to decide how to be diplomatic about it. She didn't have any more minutes to spare. His minutes were up. “I'm sorry...” she said.
“There's another street artist here in L.A. named DeAngelo. Have you heard of him?” Brent pressed on.
“Yes,” Samantha admitted, “I've heard of him.”
“So you know that sordid tale? How he was picked up by the police, painting over a billboard on Hollywood Boulevard?”
“Yeah, I read something about that,” said Samantha. She was embarrassed to admit how much she did know.
“And an overzealous deputy D.A. prosecuted him to the full extent of the law?”
“Mmm hmm.” Samantha tried to hide her discomfort, shifting in her chair in an attempt to maintain an even demeanor.
“DeAngelo got four years behind bars.”
“And you're worried the same might happen to you?”
“I'll bet you didn't hear this tidbit... The prosecutor offered DeAngelo full immunity in exchange for one small request.”
Samantha perked up at this news. “What sort of request?”
“All he wanted was the full legal name of another particular street artist. One who goes by the name of Waldo.”
Sam's eyes narrowed. Could that be true?
“You don't believe me?” said Brent.
“I find it a little bit curious.” Sam felt cagey, holding a secret of her own. Did Brent have any idea that the prosecutor in this case was her boyfriend?
“DeAngelo was given the opportunity to walk free with no charges filed,” Brent went on. “All he had to do was drop the dime on me. Luckily he's a man of solid principles, or I might be the one sitting in prison right now instead of him. I owe that man a huge debt. I wake up every day wondering if he's going to change his mind and take the deal. Four years in the slam is a lot of hard time for an artist.”
“Why do you think this prosecutor is so keen on finding out who you are?” said Samantha, shifting the conversation back to Malcolm. “Why this supposed vendetta against you in particular?”
“Who knows? Maybe my existence represents the chaos of the universe to this guy. More likely he's trying to get some press. I mean, think about what that could do for his career... Outing me would be front page news, and we're not just talking locally. We're talking about a major global news event. Not to overplay my significance, but this guy's name would be right up there with mine in every major newspaper all around the world. He'd be interviewed on every cable news channel. He'd be famous overnight. The Eliot Ness to my Al Capone. He's got it in his head to nail me and I'm not naive enough to think he'll let it rest.”
Samantha felt beads of sweat forming on her forehead. She was absolutely certain that her face was bright red. “What can you tell me about this prosecutor?” she asked.
“Not that much. His name is Malcolm Grazier. I was hoping that maybe you could tell me something more about him. Did you ever come up against this guy in court?”
Samantha furrowed her brow. What could she possibly tell him? Taking Brent Cassady on as a client would be an enormous conflict of interest. At the same time, she thought of Malcolm. Why had he never mentioned this to her? Was it really true? Was her boyfriend really so petty as to focus single-mindedly on a street artist like this? Just the thought made her angry. Samantha wanted to pick up her phone and give Malcolm a piece of her mind right away. She wanted to take on Brent as a client just to make a point. If his claims were true, this was a major wedge being driven into her relationship with Malcolm, but the bottom line was that Sam didn’t have time for any of this. She certainly couldn’t afford to get mixed up in it, personally or professionally. As much as she’d like to help Brent Cassady, she simply couldn’t. “I know Malcolm Grazier,” she said. “I’ve gone up against him, yes. He’s a very capable prosecutor. If he does have this vendetta against you, as you believe, then I do suggest that you find representation. I can recommend a few people.”
“But you won’t take me on yourself?”
“No. I’m sorry. I just can’t.”
Brent's expression sank.
“Don't get me wrong,” Samantha added. “I'd love to help you. I really would. I just can't manage it right now.”
Brent sat where he was, mulling his options. After a moment, he pulled out his wallet and retrieved a business card, handing it across the desk. “Just think it over. I promise you one thing, representing me will never be boring.”
Samantha smiled lightly. “That I do believe.” She took the card and read it over. His name and a phone number. Nothing else.
Brent rose and then offered his hand across the desk once more. “Either way, thank you for seeing me. I do appreciate it.”
“My pleasure,” said Samantha, and except for that unfortunate part about Malcolm, she meant it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ai Weiwei exhibit on Alcatraz

I was fortunate enough to catch the Ai Weiwei exhibit on Alcatraz last night before it closes for good on April 26th.  The installations are located in several parts on the former prison, including some sections that aren't typically open to the public.

The whole installation is meant to provoke thoughts on the concept of incarceration in general, and more specifically political repression.  This is all about the idea that states can and often do oppress and lock up their own people in order to maintain their grip on power.

Some of the works were audio installations, where you could sit in a small cell and listen to various recordings, some songs relating to imprisonment, or the words of men like Martin Luther King Jr.

Another work showed the likenesses of famous political prisoners rendered on the floor in LEGOS.

It was definitely thought provoking, and generated some interesting conversation.  For instance, was Edward Snowden rightfully represented amongst the rest of these political prisoners?  Opinions on this one vary.  I won't go into that here, but it was quite interesting being out there on The Rock, at night, taking in some art meant to prick at the social conscience.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ten Best Writing Cafes in San Francisco

Ok, I can't definitively claim that these are absolute best places to write in the city, but they are my favorites so far in the few months that I've been living here.  When I'm working on a novel, there's nothing I like better than to settle in at an atmospheric cafe with a cup of joe, and perhaps a chocolate croissant or bagel with cream cheese, to spend couple of hours cranking out the words.

My strong preference is for independently owned cafes (sorry Starbucks), with plenty of tables, where I don't have to feel like I'm taking up space hanging out for a while on my laptop.  Most of these places are within walking distance from where I'm living in the Mission District.

#1 Cafe du Soleil - Lower Haight

I love the easy-going European vibe of this French cafe.  It draws a regular crowd, including a fair few French-speakers.

They can be busy on weekends and in the evenings, but often during the week there is plenty of room available for laptop jockeys like myself.  Good music selection too, with 1920's jazz tunes complementing the atmosphere.

#2 Maxfield's House of Caffeine - Mission Dolores

This place always seems to have tables available, plus it's in a pretty corner location on Dolores St. with lots of light coming through the large windows.  The vibe here is 70's kitsch.  Fresh flowers on the center table every day are a nice touch.

#3 Borderlands - Mission District

Attached to the nearly closed down, but miraculously saved Borderlands Bookstore on Valencia St., this cafe is full of laptop users.  Can be hard to find a table sometimes, but no pressure to move along once you do.

#4 Church Street Cafe -Duboce Triangle

Good coffee, relaxed vibe, and they also have tasty Bahn Mi sandwiches, chicken or pork, for just $5.50, tax included.

#5 Simple Pleasures - Outer Richmond

This one is out on Balboa St. not far from the beach in the Richmond District.  Going out here, it feels a little bit like you've escaped the big city and are in a cafe in some chill beach town up the coast.  No problems hanging out on a laptop as long as you'd like, and parking isn't too bad either.  Find a spot off the main drag and you don't have to pay a meter (but watch out for street sweeping days).

Honorable Mentions

Cafe Sophie - 16th near Market St., Castro.  Nice atmosphere.  A little on the small side, though, which means tables can be hard to come by.

Coffee Bar - Bryant Street, Mission District.  This place can fill up, and a lot of their tables are off limits to laptops during lunch hours.  Hip, industrial vibe. Apple users flock here.

Caffe Greco - North Beach.  Fantastic North Beach location, Italian style, lots of indoor and outdoor seating.  You can't go wrong with this place.  If I lived closer I'd be here all the time.

Bean There Cafe - Lower Haight.  This one is a block away from Cafe du Soleil, and while it doesn't have quite the atmosphere, it is definitely laptop friendly and usually has at least a table or two available.
Momi Toby's Revolution Art Cafe - Hayes Valley.  I like this place, but at $3.25, a regular mug of coffee is a bit pricey.  New owner seems like a nice guy, though.  No wireless, but for me that's good.  I get more work done that way.

So that's it.  I hope anybody looking for a cafe to get some work done in SF gains a little something from this list, and if anybody has suggestions for other places to try, by all means leave a comment below!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Spring is in the air

Technically we're still in winter for three more weeks, but when I was driving south through California's Central Valley this week, it sure seemed like spring!  The rural San Joaquin Valley is a large producer of almonds, and all of the trees were in full bloom.

I couldn't resist pulling off the highway to take some photos and wander through one of the groves.  These farmers have been hard hit, first by drought and then by a strike at the Port of L.A.

 Still, it's hard to imagine a lovelier place to be than surrounded by these beautiful, flowering trees.  Now that the strike is over, hopefully the farmers will start seeing some returns as well, and in the meantime, hellooo spring!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nor Cal Winter

Since coming back from Budapest last month, I've been spending some time in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I can't complain too much about the winter!  It's not the Southern California winters I'm more used to, but this year has been unseasonably warm.  Of course we're in the midst of an epic drought here in California, so some more rain would be appreciated, but there has been enough to make the hills green anyway.

Here is yesterday at Briones Regional Park in the East Bay:

I've also been doing a fair bit of surfing up here this winter, in my brand new 4 mm wetsuit, just right for the Nor Cal conditions.  Recently I braved the temperamental locals down at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica.

Overall, Northern California is a pretty nice place to spend some time and I'm getting a fair bit of writing done, too.  Maybe I'll write a post about my favorite writing cafes that I've discovered while I'm here...

For now, I'll hope for rain (and snow in the mountains), but still enjoy the sunshine while I can!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bachelor Number Nine

The latest volume in The Bachelor Series is now available!  Bachelor Number Nine went live on Amazon just last week.  This time we follow spunky Piper Daniels as she follows her best friend Amanda out to life in Los Angeles.

Or, as it says in the product description:

"Piper Daniels has had about enough. She's just plain tired, of her small town life in Iowa, her job at a greasy diner, and most of all, her boyfriend. It wasn't long ago that her best friend Amanda and headed west in search of love. Maybe the time has come for Piper to join her. Maybe love is waiting for Piper out in Los Angeles, too. All she knows for sure is, there's only one way to find out."

It's always a relief to finally get a new project out there, and for anyone who decides to pick it up, happy reading!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Heading Home to California

After a great month in my second home of Budapest, I'm headed back to California now.   We never did get much snow in Hungary while I was there, but the little dusting we got on a few nights was nice anyway.

Thanks to Sarka Holeckova for taking a new author photo of me while I was there, at one of my favorite cafes to write in, Kisuzem.

Whenever I see this photo I know it will leave me feeling just a little bit homesick for my writing life over there in Hungary.  I can't complain too much, though, about coming home to California in the winter to defrost!