Cruise Ship Mysteries

HurricanesHorrorcanes: Caribbean Cruises, stories inspired by a cruise trip prior to the hurricanes this summer to Puerto Rico, Bonaire, Curacao, and St. Martin. The ebook is .99 cents, and sharable. It includes novel excerpts from Fame Island (an audiobook partly based on a true story, set in the West Indies), The Methuselah Gene (a thriller with a climax on a cruise ship), and Postmarked for Death (my first novel), plus a Bermuda Triangle honeymoon cruise sailing into a hurricane (with a “twist.”) Also shown is are two other cruise mystery or hurricane related books: Awakening Storm, and Distress Signals. All are available at

Traveled to San Juan with my sister, who has a friend there. The friend is currently hunkered down, but sick. Sis has just been informed she has cancer. So am taking her to MRIs and doctors offices. Interviewed the author of Distress Signals here:


Cruise ships


In Storytelling All Things Are Possible

Science Fiction

This is particularly true of science fiction, or speculative fiction. While the franchises have largely repeated themselves, it is up to science fiction writers to push the envelope. Literally. They must ignore the “trends,” or the “box office gross” which consumes the media and the public’s attention. Spinoffs, sequels and prequels exist because people become enamored of things they already like. “They are conditioned to ignore things that are different or new,” says both the authors of Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction, and Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One With the Universe. People do not like to change anything, and this leads to pseudo-scifi blaster battles with one-liners. Or first person shooters, including the killing of cops and innocents in games like the Grand Theft Auto series. Billions of dollars are generated, but the net effect on society (and imagination) is negative. As Ray Bradbury said. People end up reading less, and killing more time. Says Derek Thompson, “only a microscopic few achieve fantastic wealth in a winner take all culture.” While Jim Davies advises, “You must force yourself to resist the irresistible, marketed to you everywhere you turn.” A great analogy here is junk food: the taste rewards for sugar, fat, and salt are like crack cocaine, and just as difficult to quit. The result is disease, physical or mental, while drug costs to treat these diseases are “going viral.” Meaning sky high.

Avatar 2, 3, and 4 are said to revive dead characters somehow (prequel or supernatural or science?) Game of Thrones is nearing the end due to George RR Martin moving on to Nightflyer, with the post-George episodes “becoming more chaotic,” as one reviewer put it, “spinning out of control…both glorious and maddening.” Consider the series LOST, which got lost because the writers wrote themselves into a corner, and were not pro science fiction book authors to begin with, but rather fans. (Like JJ Abrams, the geek director of Star Trek Beyond, who also wrote Super 8, a visually stunning but inexplicable mess. He once introduced vampires to a Bourne-like spy series.) Writers are not respected in Hollywood, much. Producers with a calculator decide. “How many more stunts should we add here, instead of characters interacting?” Characters mainly interact (as in 300) by bludgeoning one another, and in slow motion blood splatter, no less. It tends to diminish viewer trust in diplomacy or compromise. The lure of money is the same as junk food, too. They can’t stop making what people buy. You buy it, they will make more. It’s really that simple. To discover new things actually future-positive instead of apocalypse “walking brain dead” negative, viewers often must get up off the couch and go outside…which means turning off the TV altogether, and listening to an audiobook—a way to extend your reading time while stuck in traffic, hiking, doing chores, cooking, cleaning, or exercising. Or as they say on ESPN, “Just Do It.”  Your mother, whether in her grave like mine or not, will thank you.

The Lowe Files

Do You Have a Trump Connection?

Julie Andrews

Everyone has a 6 Degrees of Separation “Kevin Bacon” kind of connection to the rich, famous, and powerful. Mine with Trump goes like this: I interviewed pianist Lola Astanova, pictured here. She has played at Trump’s Mara Lago. Julie Andrews was once in a movie with James Garner called “The Americanization of Emily,” about as anti-war a film as Avatar. When I reviewed Garner’s biography, I got an email from his daughter, who liked the review. (Garner is one of my fav actors, see a previous post.) As for Trump himself, he once visited Palm Island in the Grenadines, as told to me when I interviewed the owner of Palm (but not Dubai’s Palm island, as researched for my novel “The Miraculous Plot of Leiter & Lott.”) John Caldwell sailed around the world to acquire and develop the place, which he purchased for $1 a year for 99 years, with a 12% interest in future profits going to St. Vincent. He then spent twenty years with a wheelbarrow, turning the place from a swamp into a paradise. His tale of fending off renegades (who took neighboring Union Island) by firing over their heads with rifles as they approached inspired my novel “Fame Island,” which was narrated by an Emmy winner and directed by a Grammy winner on audio, and is also an ebook “The Instant Celebrity.” Caldwell also allowed the Marines to park their helicopters there during the Grenada invasion. My fake game show scout protagonist was hired by a Powerball lotto winner to stage a Survivor type show in order to fool the corrupt governor of Union (who had fooled the citizens to get elected.) Howard Rosen, the lottery winner, had disappeared the moment of picking up his check because he intended to be famous for more than just 15 minutes by re-emerging a hero. Quotes by both Mark Burnett (Survivor and the Apprentice) plus Trump himself appear at the novel’s opening, Trump’s being: “People are impressed by fame. Think big, and live large.”  (This was all pre-Trump entering politics.) 

James Garner  

Palm Island

Finally, my first novel, “Postmarked for Death,” was endorsed by Clive Cussler (who owns the largest private antique car collection) and John Lutz (Single White Female movie), inspired by the Unabomber, with a postal clerk protagonist that listens to Rush Limbaugh while making letter bombs, and targets illegal immigrants and government offices providing ATM cards for them in Tucson. When I did a book signing for the hardcover (now an ebook at iTunes), the bookstore owner in Phoenix refused to mention it on the loudspeaker, and put me at the back of the store. He never read the whole thing. Neither did the Booklist reviewer, who later retracted his review when called on it (in an ending that no one could guess.) In the end of the “Why Done It” Calvin gets his just desserts in “a spectacular fashion.” So all’s well that ends well, and there you have it. Any questions?