EXCERPT – A Thrilling Adventure -Trilogy book 1 FREE limited time only!

FREE on KINDLE – November 15-19 – FREE on AMAZON

Midwest Book Review calls it “A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.”

BOOK 1 – A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – in this excerpt the Manhattan businessman Francis Frick finds himself in a jeep with some Khmer Rouge revolutionaries in 1976 Cambodia. The only problem is, it’s 2018! But when they stop to deal with some deserters, Frick can’t stand idly by anymore.

Three soldiers and the driver jumped in the jeep, and it pulled out of the small encampment without anyone saying a word to anyone or without anyone wearing a black hood. The flat Cambodian countryside lay still in the early morning hours. The jeep buzzed through the rural setting without passing any other vehicles. Even the endless, newly-harvested rice fields looked eerily dormant and different from the day before. The first hour of the drive proved uneventful. The soldiers ignored Frick, the hero negotiator, as their heads pounded from vicious hangovers. As the jeep bounced around a sharp bend, Frick could see five or six people walking on the road about one hundred yards ahead of them. They looked back and hunched their bodies forward, sliding quickly out of sight over the embankment.
“Hey, did you see that?” asked the driver.
“The people?” asked Frick.
“Yes.” The driver tilted his head towards the back seat and yelled instructions for the three soldiers in the back seat to catch them.
The jeep skidded to an abrupt stop, and everyone piled out, Frick included. As he reached the edge of the embankment, he could see six people huddled against the mud rim, looking up at them. One of them stood and started running across the barren rice field. A soldier raised his rifle and shot the deserter in the back, dropping him to the ground with a hollow thud. Frick shook and looked around, frantic to understand.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
Two of the other soldiers slid down the bank and started yelling at the people, but for the first time, Frick couldn’t understand—not a word. He watched as the two soldiers pinned the remaining five individuals against the bank with the point of their rifles. The huddled group cried in anguish as the soldiers scolded them. As Frick moved closer, he could see who they were: an old man, two women, and a small girl. One of the women held a baby in her arms. They cried and pleaded. The elderly man dropped to his knees and put out his hands in a gesture of submission and mercy. A Khmer soldier whacked him in the head with the butt of his rifle, and the old man fell limp to the ground. The women screamed, and the small girl hid behind the leg of her mother.
“Stop it!” said Frick. “What are you doing?”
The driver stood beside Frick and looked at him strangely. The driver said something, but Frick couldn’t understand. The second soldier walked up to the woman and slapped her across the face, yelling at her in harsh tones.
“Stop it!” yelled Frick.
The soldier grabbed the arm of the little girl and dragged her up the embankment. The girl collapsed in fear, as she screamed and reached out for her mother, but the soldier paid no attention and continued pulling her over the crest of the bank.

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EXCERPT – A Time-Travel Adventure -Trilogy book 1 FREE limited time only!

FREE on KINDLE – November 15-19 – FREE on AMAZON

Midwest Book Review calls it “A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.”

BOOK 1 – A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT – in this excerpt the Manhattan businessman finds himself on a train in Romania in 1989 – nearly thirty years in the past – and he’s being delightfully tormented by Bee, the strange flying figure in a white dress.

Frick lunged forward and tried to swat Bee with his hand, but with a simple tilt of the head, she whisked inches away from her attacker. It delighted her so. Frick sat down in his surliness and puffed a few vacant words Bee’s way like a petulant child might mock his mother. The other two men sitting in the front of the car turned in a queer manner and glanced with disapproval at Frick’s unruly behavior. Frick didn’t like being stared at, much less being scorned, so he cast his eyes upon them with his typical tempestuousness.
“What are you looking at?”
The two turned immediately. Frick smirked, but the goofy grin soon faded as a strange realization came upon him. “Bee, did I say that in English?”
“Did it sound like English to you?”
“No.”
“Well, words that don’t sound like English rarely are English.”
“You mean they could understand me?”
“Everyone understands that uniform. What’s not to understand?”
“What do you mean, this uniform?”
“Well, it’s time for me to go. Goodbye, Francis.”
“No, wait,” said Frick, leaning forward and motioning for her to stay.
“Do you think I’m your friend?” she asked. “I just hit you in the face with a pomegranate. Two in fact. I hope you learned your lesson.”
“It wasn’t the first time you hit me in the face with a pomegranate.”
Bee laughed. “Oh, you are right, aren’t you? When you were lying in bed.”
“Don’t forget about the coconut.”
Bee let out an especially high-squealed snicker. “Tropical delight.”
“Bee, sit still for a second. I have a question for you. I’m in Romania.”
“So am I,” said Bee. “And that’s not a question.”
“Why?”
“I came to see you.”
“No, why am I here? And is this real?” Frick pulled out the train ticket and held it up to her. “Look. It says December 1989. Is it 1989? But it’s certainly not December. It’s summer. I was in the hay field. I saw Ash, and he tells me to put this on.” He pointed down at his uniform. “And then I meet Ulrich. And …”
The train pulled into a small station. Out the window, a pole with a lone bulb dangled from a metal arch, illuminating a small round area at its base. Snow flurries whisked in all directions above the white, barren ground. He stood and bent over to get a closer look, pressing his forehead against the glass. Several people, bundled in winter coats, scurried along towards the small platform near the front of the train.
“I have never known it to snow in the summer,” said Bee.
“Maybe I’m insane.”
“Indubitably.”

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Now Available: A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR

And the trilogy begins …

Paperback $14.99 HERE! Prime Shipping before Christmas!

Kindle eBook  HERE! New Release special only 99 cents until Jan 1

Kindle in pre-order. Releases directly to your Kindle device on December 18.

Amazon UK: HERE!

Amazon Canada: HERE!

Amazon Australia: HERE!

I’m very fond of this book. And it’s just the beginning. Book 2 is only months away as the saga continues. It’s fun, it’s explosive, it’s unexpected, it’s a page-turner.

This novel has been two years in the making and I’m thrilled with the result. I hope you’ll check it out. The Kindle version deal is a STEAL!

Thanks for the support.

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Know Your History: Christmas Invasion of Cambodia, 1978

The beginning of the end of the dark periods of modern history began on December 25, 1978, when a sure-footed, well-oiled, Vietnamese fighting machine crossed the border, heading straight towards the nearly deserted Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The ramifications and irony of such an invasion were lost on many people at that time, and even today, it’s a period of Southeast Asian history which few people know much about.

Pol Pot, the enigmatic and dogmatic Communist leader of Cambodia, had created an illogical and frightening socialistic society. (We’ll have to deal with how he got there at another time.) His vision for Cambodia, inspired by Mao Zedong’s cultural revolution in China in the mid-1960s, was to create a completely agrarian society by removing every vestige of western, political, religious, and modern influences. This was cultural divergence on an unprecedented scale. Everyone was driven out of the cities and forced into labor camps, completed at the mercy of Anka, the all-knowing party. Kids were ripped away from their parents, taught to have allegiance only to Anka. And then the killing began. Elderly, educated, those with ties to Americans, those who spoke a foreign language, those who wore glasses, etc …  The hit list was long and brutal. Different factions of the party couldn’t be trusted, and purge after purge began, spilling blood on an unimaginable scale – eventually to be known as The Killing Fields. Upwards of two million, nearly 1/3 of the entire population of Cambodia was caught up in the unrelenting killing. This was the time period from 1975 – 1978.

But the Vietnamese did not cross the border on Christmas day in order to stop a humanitarian crisis. Something else had been brewing as well. Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot turned his eyes towards southern Vietnam, claiming the entire delta as belonging to the Cambodian people. He severely resented  the Vietnamese and ordered cross the border raids, slaughtering entire Vietnamese villages.

The Vietnamese tried to bring international attention to these atrocities, but no one was interested and in fact hardly even believed them until a western journalist documented the case. Why were the Vietnamese being ignored? Much of the western world considered the communist Vietnamese government to be nothing more than a pariah, one who had reneged on the Paris Agreement on Vietnam, until they eventually overwhelmed the South Vietnam government in April 1975. The west had little interest in worrying about the border issues between two communist countries. It eventually began evident to the Vietnamese that if they wanted the Khmer Rouge to stop the attacks on the Vietnamese border, they would have to do it themselves.

So they did, starting Christmas 1978. So forceful and effective was the Vietnamese fighting machine, that they rolled through the countryside, pushing into Phnom Penh and liberating much of the country from the Khmer Rouge in a matter of weeks.

In a twist that is in hindsight quite ironic, the U.S. and other allies condemned the Vietnamese invasion, which, they thought, proved their point that the Vietnamese government was nothing more than a pariah state, wanting to conquer more lands.

On the ground, however, the reception was very different. The Cambodian people welcomed the Vietnamese, thanking them for overthrowing the Khmer Rouge.

Only after this invasion did word of the real extent of the Killing Fields begin to spread around the globe.

The ramifications of the invasion were great:

  • China retaliated against Vietnam in early 1979. (more on that later)
  • Vietnam (unwisely) outlived their welcome in Cambodia, putting a pro-Vietnamese Cambodian government in power and leaving their troops in Cambodia for a decade, further alienating them from the rest of the world.
  • The Cambodian people, dazed and desperate, began a long, long journey back to normality. For perspective, it took thirty years to have the first Khmer Rouge trial in Cambodia. It started in 2009. A whole generation of people were scarred beyond imagination – no family untouched.

For a fascinating read on this incredible topic, I especially recommend Nayan Chanda amazing book, “Brother Enemy.”

My Top 10 Favorite Places in Asia: #3 – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, in the northwestern corner of Cambodia, is the home of the ancient kingdom of Angkor, which dominated the region from the 9th to 13th century AD.

It combines two things I love – Asia and history – making it one of my favorite places anywhere.

This ancient Khmer kingdom has some interesting facts attached to it:

At its peak, it had an agricultural and aqueduct system which feed an incredible one million people.

The temple ruins of Angkor are spread out over a huge stretch of land, each temple outdoing the other in grandeur and scope until you come upon the most famous of them all – Angkor Wat.

This Khmer kingdom was Hindu in influence, not Buddhist. Hinduism was also one of its downfalls as more egalitarian religions came upon the scene supplanting it.

The ruins of Angkor had largely been forgotten to the world until a French explorer, Henri Mouhot, stumbbled upon it during an expedition in the 1860s. What a grand discovery it must have been – walking through the forsaken jungle to suddenly come across some of the most majestic ruins in the world.

A day touring the ruins (see pictures below) is completely exhilarating and awe-inspiring. I even found the modern day town of Siem Reap to be quite charming with wonderful cafes and restaurants and an easy relaxing atmosphere to kick back and enjoy.

It’s a place I want to return to. It’s a place I highly recommend to anyone on this side of the world. It truly is a must see. That’s why it is #3 on my Asia list.

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Let’s review the countdown:

10. Malacca, Malaysia

9. Chiang Mai, Thailand

8. Singapore

7. Hong Kong

6. southern Vietnam

5. Sabah, West Malaysia

4. Beijing, China

3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

2. ???

1. ???

My Top 10 Favorite Places in Asia: Not Making the Cut

I was doing an author’s interview recently and the interviewer asked what is my favorite place in Asia. That made me really stop and think. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to some pretty cool places throughout east and southeast Asia. So I decided to do my blog’s first 10 ten series. I’ve compiled my 10 most favorite places I’ve been to in Asia.

Now, of course, a list like this is very subjective. So I do have a couple of rules.

1) This list includes only places that I have visited. Yes, there are a lot of great places not on the list which I simply haven’t been able to get to. So don’t be offended if your favorite place isn’t even mentioned. I probably haven’t been there.

2) Some of the places are more regional, and others more specific. I didn’t want to just say “My Top 10 Favorite Cities” because some of my favorite places aren’t necessarily in a city.

3) Some of these places I haven’t been to in years so my thoughts are based on my experiences whether recent or long ago.

So with those ground rules, I’ll be posting my picks over the next few weeks. I’d appreciate your comments.

Today, I’m starting with seven places which just didn’t make the cut. It’s not like I didn’t like these places; it’s just that only 10 places fit in a top 10. Here are a few leftovers in no particular order:

Bangkok, Thailand – Bangkok is a sprawling, bustling city, that always feels extremely hot. The temples and palaces are beautiful and the food is great. But it wasn’t enough to crack my top 10.

Vientiane, Laos – I remember driving through the capital for the first time and asking myself, ‘where’s the capital’? It’s an extremely laid back place. Very friendly people, but not a whole lot to do.

Bali, Indonesia – Some will wonder how this one didn’t crack my top 10. The beaches are beautiful, yes. However, I was turned off by the crowds. Everything was so busy and chaotic. It wasn’t the relaxing beach destination that we were looking for. It is pretty, though.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – The capital of Cambodia is an interesting place to visit. A must are the relics which reveal the horror of the Killing Fields. The Cambodian people are fun and gracious.

Tokyo, Japan – It was big, confusing, and really expensive.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – KL is an interesting city with some fun stuff to do. I always like stopping by the administrative capital of Putra Jaya to the south. But really, if you are going to Malaysia, there are more interesting places.

central Vietnam – This one was hard to cut from my list because there are some really nice places to visit there. Hoi An, the ancient city, is quaint and pleasant. Danang has the wonderful China Beach, Hue, the former Imperial City, has some wonderful old palaces to visit. Come to think of it, how did this one not make the list?

These ten ahead of it must be something special.

Up next: #10

Cambodia: The Discovery of the Kingdom of Angkor

The great Kingdom of Angkor arose in the 10th century and lasted into the 14th century until it faded from regional consciousness, having the jungle wrapped the marvelous splendors of the era in its never ceasing grip. Why did the great kingdom fall? There were many reasons. Wars with the Siamese. Eroding aqueducts. The importance of the spice trade necessitating a move toward the coast. The rise of Buddhism. All of those contributed to the population base shifting away from northwestern Cambodia. The modern day Siem Reap became lost to the ages – except to the small number of locals who continued on in the region.

Fast forward to the latter half of the 19th century. The French had been capturing or influencing parts of Indochina including Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina – all three of which make up modern day Vietnam. They pushed westward into Cambodia and Laos – both extremely remote areas that the western world knew very little about.

An explorer named Henri Mouhot was leading a trek up the Mekong River and through the remote jungle of northwestern Cambodia when he stumbled upon the massive ruins of the Kingdom of Angkor. Imagine the scene – walking through a primitive landscape to suddenly stumble upon ruins of epic proportion. Towering structures with intricate carvings. Temples constructed with incredibly complex technology to rival any of the wonders of the world. He had ‘discovered’ a civilization which was previously unknown to the west. The discoveries were staggering.

One hundred and thirty-some years later, the discovery of the Kingdom of Angkor is still staggering. The temples, shrines, and structures are spread out over a huge area, each one seemingly bigger than the other. Angkor Thom and its massive stone pilings and passageways seems more like a surreal movie backdrop than a temple. You will stand in awe wondering how they built that in a place like this. And then, the granddaddy of them all – Angkor Wat – complete with moat, and surrounding gated wall that is impressive in itself. The famous reflecting poor which mirrors the spiraled stone steeples rising from the temple – the bathing pools – the stone carvings – all of it is awe-inspiring.

It’s one of those must places to visit during your lifestyle. Come discover for yourself what the Frenchmen couldn’t believe. You’ll feel the same way.