Strictly Commercial In SE Asia

Three weeks is not a normal lapse of time between blog posts for me. I try to blog at least once a week, anyway, but from November 9th through November 23rd, I was on my first real vacation since 2015.

The destination: my wife’s native Thailand. This was my fifth trip to the Land of Smiles, and the longest. While there, I had time to sit around, decompress, and just generally recover from the daily stresses and strains of running a business.

I would have blogged while there, and fully intended to, but I did not realize that my password for what I call the WordPress back end of my site wasn’t sitting there already. (I have my iMac, iPhone, and Notebook synced, and have many passwords to sites already set up.) To my surprise, I couldn’t log in since I didn’t have the password with me. I was out of luck.

There wasn’t much to blog about anyway, at least not related to the writing life. But I did find some things to contemplate while there. Watching Thai TV, and understanding no more than an occasional word, I was struck by the odd combination of Western and Eastern companies.

Esso. Samsung. Kellogg. Isuzu. Air Asia.

And something called Kelly Serum. More on that later.

Wait a minute: Esso?

Yes, they have Esso gas stations in Thailand. I haven’t seen one here in the States in years, though they may still exist. It was just odd to see them advertised on TV, too. Every expectation you have is subverted there anyway, though, so what the heck.

The other companies are mainly Asian, though there is certainly a plethora of Western influence around, even though most people there don’t speak English. I’m talking Mr. Donut, KFC, McDonald’s and yes, Starbucks. Nothing like hearing a Thai person who doesn’t speak much English besides Thank you enunciating “Iced Caramel Macchiato Venti.” No, seriously, there’s nothing like it.

As for Kelly Serum: well, that’s some sort of lifting and rejuvenating formula. It looks about as shady as what you’d see from an MLM company that just launched last week. It reminded me of another trip, just a couple years ago, when I saw commercials for a pill to make women’s breasts bigger. You can’t believe this stuff even when you’re watching it. Aren’t there laws against this sort of thing? Evidently not.

So, back to the States and the daily grind. Ah, Thailand, I look forward to your funny, humid embrace again.

But I’m Too Busy to Blog!

If you're like me, you're a committed writer: maybe you keep to a rigorous writing schedule, or maybe you have actually written a full-length book or books. Chances are good that if you're reading this, you're also a blogger. Maybe you even have a blog like this one....
trigger

Why Trigger Warnings are Bad for Everybody

Recently I almost got into a Twitter skirmish about trigger warnings, or TWs, as they say in the trade. One of my followers asked the Twitterverse their opinion on them, and I gave mine. In essence, I said I don’t believe in them. While trigger warnings originally...
game of thrones

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when...
serial

If You Don’t Write in a Serial Format, Good Luck With Amazon Classifications

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my grizzled, cynical old heart—adjusting to the nightmarish landscape of book classifications. Some writers have no problem with this stuff, and hey, more power to you. But as I wrote in What I’ve Learned In Six Years of...
mask

COVID-19, Discipline, and an Uncomfortable Freedom

Last week, my wife and I did something we hadn’t done since March of 2020: we walked into a supermarket without wearing masks. This might not seem radical, but a word of explanation is in order here. My mother, who turns 86 this coming May, lives up the road from us...

How Do You Write About Sex—Seriously, Irreverently, or Not At All?

“Writing about sex is like engaging in sex: it’s hard. Or, it should be.” —Sean Murphy   Today I want to talk about fictional scenes where characters either discuss sex or engage in sexual activity. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, because I’m working...
forget

Writers, Don’t Forget to Write It Down!

It's happened to the best of us, right? You have a great idea, and you really should write it down. After all, you don't want to forget it. But it's well past midnight, and you're in bed. In fact, you're getting sleepy...very sleepy...your eyes are starting to --...
racism

Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write a new novel addressing the rampant intolerance, Islamophobia, and racism in America today. I really didn’t. My novels always start with a character, or characters. Sometimes their actions get pretty hectic right out of the gate;...
Twitter

6 Twitter Tips for Authors

Those of you who follow my blog probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. Now that I’m closing in on 25K followers, I feel like I’ve got a little experience I can share that will be helpful. And with that, here comes today’s blog...

Self-Care for Creatives

Today's post is not about coronavirus, because—let's face it—aren't we all sick of being bombarded with news and info about it all day, every day? The situation is getting worse, and will be for a while before it gets better. Duly noted. However, I do want to give...
Travel Feeds the Soul

Travel Feeds the Soul

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

I wish I could say I’ve always loved to travel. Maybe I’m good at being in a different place; the getting there is sometimes a whole other story.

Traveling to a foreign locale can be exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating…and absolutely life-changing.

Some of the most impactful moments I can recall in my own lifetime have happened when I was literally 9,000 miles away from home. I remember a trip to Southeast Asia in the late 1990s. My girlfriend at the time was with me, and she made a point of telling me not to give money to the ‘street urchins’ – tiny, often half-naked children who would walk up to you and beg for money.

I heeded the advice until one day in the city. We were strolling along an empty boulevard when a girl of perhaps two toddled up to us, hands outstretched. I pretended to ignore her, but surreptitiously pulled out a bill of the local currency and dropped it behind me…out of view of my cheapskate girlfriend. The bill was worth maybe thirty cents American. I’ll never forget glancing over my shoulder to watch this tiny Asian baby pick it up and stretch it out, holding it to the sun as if she’d never seen such a thing.

Fast forward almost twenty years, and I’m heading over to a different part of Southeast Asia with my wife. We’ll be visiting her family there, and I’ll be celebrating my first real vacation since December 2014…long overdue.

I think I’ll focus on being a good traveler on this trip: no fixed plans, and I’ll try to be less intent on arriving than I usually am. Yes, I expect screaming babies on the 14-hour flight from Houston to Tokyo; I know I’ll be surrounded by over a hundred people, doing what they inevitably do on a flight like that (snoring, farting, arguing…humanity at its least lovable); and I know the airports will be no fun at all.

But I’m ready for it. I’ll have disposable earplugs, a neck pillow, an iPhone. And the “problems” I’ll have, such as they are, will be first world problems. When I arrive, I can enjoy the fruits of travel. I can unplug, relax, play, forget about work for a little while…and just have fun. And when I return, energized, my creativity will hit another new peak. That alone should be enough to make any travel inconveniences worthwhile.

recovery

Recovery 202? Long-Term Sobriety Is Possible

So, the plan for today was to write a post about recovery. Unfortunately, I’m in a different kind of recovery mode today—recovering from a sinus infection. What that means for you, the reader, is I’m going to keep this short. Really short. I took my last drink 30...
manuscript

Top Five Things to Check Before You Turn Your Manuscript Over

This week's blog post is for my writer friends. Everyone has a checklist of things they know they need to consider before publishing. When it comes time to turn that manuscript into a book, it's all too easy to get caught up in marketing considerations or thoughts of...
guest blogging

Guest Blogging: To Post Or Not To Post

So it’s Monday, and as always my calendar says “New Blog Post Due.” My mind, on the other hand, says, Add a quick blog post. This is slightly different, because I have a couple afternoon appointments, and not enough time to write a post between them. Can you say...
wrap

… Aaaaand That’s a Wrap

​How many of you will be glad to wrap up 2020? Can we have a show of hands? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Man, oh man, did anyone have a great year? I suppose a few billionaires were sheltered enough from the storm, or profited heavily from the work-at-home trend, that...

Who You Gonna Call? or Being Your Own Tech Support

I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going...
shoemaker

“Shoemaker, Stick to Thy Last!”

I always try to help my fellow indie authors by passing on my experiences. Among the most important, in my mind, is don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find your niche, and stick with it. This might not be the greatest advice if you’re already a...
staycation

The Big July 4th Staycation

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” —Eugene Ionesco   I'll admit it: last week’s blog post was pretty much non-existent. All I posted was a flag picture and a headline, “Happy birthday,...

A Journey with A Few Heiresses

Way back in 2016, I got a guest spot on a blog called Writing in the Modern Age by an author named Marie Lavender. Of all the writers I've contacted online, Marie has to be the most prolific – more than 20 books published over the course of 15 years. Marie and I have...
giving

Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea

​Free books—who doesn’t love that idea, right? Me. I don’t love that idea. In fact, I think it sucks. Now, you might wonder: why, Mike, are you so against free books? I mean, don’t you want more people to read? You’re not against libraries, are you? No, I’m not...
Biden

If There Ever Was a Time to be Apolitical, This Isn’t It

Anyone who has read a handful of my blog posts, or better yet, my fiction, probably has a pretty good handle on where I stand politically. I’ve been known to rail against the orange monster in the Oval Office from time to time. In fact, I wrote back in 1994 that...