It had seemed like a good idea at the time. We had sneaked over the fence and waited in the shadows outside the football field lights for the right moment, the crowning of the homecoming queen, to turn on the sprinklers. The powder blue, Cadillac convertible rolled up in front of the bleachers and stopped at the podium where the superintendent of schools and high school principal stood ready with the crown. My ex-girlfriend was preached on the top of the back seat next to the captain of the football team. They struggled to negotiate their way out of the Caddy and up the steps.
After several years of work, Becoming Human is finally finished and the e-book version can be pre-ordered. As many of you know, Becoming Human is book two in the Almost Human Series. It has been a labor of love and I hope you enjoy my humble effort.
In celebration of finally finishing this work, the publisher has made the e-book version available at a discounted price ($2.99) until its scheduled release on December 14, 2018.
Pre-orders really help authors as they increase our ranking at outlets like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.
E-book, order here!
The pre-order price for an autographed paperback is $14.95, plus shipping and tax. Use the button below if you would like me to send you one when they are released.
I’m at the hardest part of writing a novel which, for me, is the markups: the back and forth with the editior and publisher. I know it makes the book better but it is a slow and tedious process. I’m fortunate to have a brilliant editor (http://www.tahlianewland.com) and pubisher (http://www.aiapublishing.com but still I’d rather be going on to my next book. We’re still on schedule for a Christmas release if I stay at it. This book will be renamed, Becoming Human, and we’ll save the title, More Than Human, for the last book of the trilogy/Almost Human series. Becoming Human will be placed at the distributor, Smashwords (http://smashwords.com, for pre-orders soon. It will go out to all the feeds like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc. Thanks to all you readers who have supported me in this journey. Almost Human has done better than I ever expected. Who would have thought this would be another chapter in my life? I love you all.
Just got back from a month out on the road. A follower on my blog, Patrick Early, sent me a link to the radio story version of “Hide ‘N Seek” that I did for NPR back in the early 80’s. I had forgotten I did this but here is a link: https://beta.prx.org/stories/11658/details …
Here’s the latest video posted on The Ride of My Life. I have a story in about the middle of the clip. Check it out!
The Decroos. My sister, Audrey Decroo and my dad, Ken,Sr. He will be 94 this September. He’s still hell on wheels. My dad is a true american hero. He lived through poverty as a boy, combat during WWII in the South Pacific and is a true product of the American Dream. He raised a family, worked hard in construction all his life and made sure my sister and I had a better life than he and my mom had. He and mom were married for over sixty-five years. I once asked him how that was possible and he said, “Learn to loose the argument as quickly as possible.” Mom and dad wrote to each other throughout the war and married shortly after and settled in California.
Dad is part of the generation who built this country. They stormed the beaches of Okinowa and countless other islands when they were kids (my dad was 17). Fought that war with the knowledge that they would only get to come home when it was won. The Decroos serve. He lost many of his high school friends on those beaches and islands. He was wounded (purple heart) and silently carried those injuries to this day without complaint. Those kids had no “safe places” but rather had to make them for themselves.
My dad taught me many things but most importantly to be an honorable man. He has always said if your decision is good for people and your motivations are pure then let the chips fall where they may. Dad and mom made my sister and me who we are; for better or worse when it comes to me.
When the last of them pass, our country will have lost our greatest treasure. They are the spirit of this land. His generation is a non-renewable resource that will be missed. Don’t get me started on my mom! I love you dad.
This short collection of stories is some of the events in my life, as a wild animal trainer, that inspired my novel, Almost Human. I’ve entitled this collection, Animal Days. I hope you enjoy my humble effort. Just click on the title above for a free copy. More Than Human the sequel will be released soon.
Headed to Bahia de Los Angeles in a week and a half! We’ll be working on our place at Campo Gecko and doing a little fishing. Most importantly, we’ll be unplugged so I’ll be able to work on the third book in the Almost Human series. What could go wrong?
Many years ago while traveling in the backcountry of Baja I learned an important lesson that I have carried with me ever since.
Several of us were on a fishing adventure slowly making our way down the old Mexican 1 which serpentines it’s way along the backbone of this wild peninsula. We were in the middle of one of the loneness and driest places on earth, the Vizcaino Desert, when I felt a hard jolt followed by a loud clanging. My jeep coasted to a halt next to a large Boogun tree, engine still running. My son, Sam, ran up the dusty road and retrieved the driveshaft. It is amazing at how quiet and empty the desert can feel when you are broken down in the middle of it.
After a little trouble-shooting we figured that we could limp back to the village of Catavina some miles away by engaging the 4WD, which still transferred power to the front wheels. And so we began a long and tedious trek back to that little pueblo.
Upon arriving, we searched for a mechanic to help us. Actually, this place had more abandoned dwellings than occupied. But as luck would have it we found a guy who had ran out of money and was stranded there waiting for an opportunity to continue his journey North and he was a mechanic—only in Mexico.
Julio examined the shaft by rolling it on the crumbling pavement of an old abandoned gas station to check its trueness. I remember looking at a peeling mural of a map of the peninsula with a star marking our location. We were a long ways from home. The station had shut down years before for lack of traffic. Since its closure, the only fuel available was gotten from fifty-gallon drums strained through a chamois. My attention went back to Julio, who was shaking his head while examining the broken strap. We would not be traveling far without a new one.
I began to worry when he shaded his eyes from the intense Baja sun and scanned the surrounding desert. Without a word, he abruptly left us and carefully picked his way through the cacti toward a line of wrecked vehicles. I watched him disappear underneath a rusting Chevy pickup with a cholla growing up through its missing hood.
Upon returning, he told me he needed 80 pesos to pay the man who “owned” it. Sensing I did not understand, he explained that he would have to salvage the pin bearings from it and further he would need to buy a strap from another “owner” of an old Ford rusting on the other side of the road. He smiled sweeping his arms across the desert encompassing at least thirty old, rusting vehicles and said, “This is my parts department.” The parts he needed would need to be salvaged off these abandoned wrecks.
Without any further discussion, he began to work. Using the tools we always carried on these adventures and an old rickety jack, he worked for a couple hours in the sweltering heat. First, he replaced each pin bearing one by one and than slowly jacked the shaft back up in place using a cradle he had made from pieces of wood he had sent the village children out to gather from along side the road.
By now, we had attracted most of the villagers; us being the best entertainment in town. I remember my friend, Fritz, teaching the game of chess from the tailgate of his pickup.
I asked Julio at one point how he was going to balance the shaft so it would spin true when reconnected to the engine. He smiled as he propped one end on a rock and took a small hand sledge and carefully lifted it a few inches above and struck it. He did this a couple of times more with care and precision. When he finished, he proudly said, “Hecho en Mexico!” Made in Mexico!
I paid Julio less than a hundred dollars for the whole job, which got him on his way and us as well. We continued our journey south to explore many bays and beaches without names that fueled countless campfire stories to this day. Years later, I passed that jeep on to my son and it still runs and has never needed any modifications to Julio’s repairs.
When you leave the frontiers and venture down the back roads of Baja there is no Auto Club to call, no machine shops, no dealerships, or Auto Zones to stop at. You only have yourself and the kindness of strangers. These strangers, the locals, are geniuses at making do with what they have. They live by the adage that necessity is the mother of all invention. It is what surely attracts me to these lonely places over and over.
When not writing and adventuring on my moto, I work as an educational consultant here in California. Doing that work in these times is not much different. We are bombarded with an endless stream of regulations and directives from the state and federal government that cost large sums of money to implement while we are asked to do it with less.
We find ourselves spending more and more time out of classrooms meeting the needs of outside bureaucrats who claim to have all of the answers. But when all is said and done, the solutions are in the talent we have all around us. The secret to our success is the same as Julio’s; use our own talent and ingenuity to solve the problem.
We need to invest in ourselves for a change. This of course, will not make the test making companies, “consultants,” textbook publishers, software designers and outside trainers very happy in their quest for billions of our tax dollars.
But in my experience, a good teacher who makes positive connections with children will out perform any program, any time. That is were I have always put my money because I am used to betting on winners.
I’m very excited. I was just picked up by AIA Publishing. They will be repackaging Almost Human with a new cover design and a complete re-editing (line, copy and proof) of the book. As many know, I was very unhappy with the previous edition of AH. Even though it sold well, I didn’t like the errors that ended up in the book. AIA will be publishing More Than Human as well and so look for a several book series. They have a stellar reputation and are very selective. I’m humbled to be pickup by them.