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Next Life in the Afternoon

Great New Review

October 11th, 2012

Someone recently reviewed the book and left this review:

This is a very good book for people who like spiritual as well as travel adventures. Here’s a man who decided to try and become a Buddhist monk and shares what he learned about a country, a culture and a religion; but his greatest discoveries are what he learned about himself. With many books you drop them quickly because you just don’t care about the characters, but the author reveals a profound, if quirky, sense of humanity. His observations of subtle cultural differences and his sense of the absurd separate him from spiritualists who know all the answers and travel writers who try to impress. This is someone we can all identify with: a determined, but sometimes fragile,human being in a strange land on a quest for truth and understanding. And just when he lulls you into the story line, he brings fresh insights that make you think and feel. Do not read this book all at one sitting. Let it come to you like the revelations came to the author.

I do not know who Gardener is, but was excited to read this and hope you are excited to read the book and will leave your own review!


Next Life in the Afternoon is Available in Paperback

September 28th, 2012

The labors of this effort were long and tiring but definitely worth it. You can buy a copy of the book here:

Next Life in the Afternoon is now Available for Your Kindle

September 7th, 2012

The book is done and published! The print copy will be available soon. I just need to get the print proof to be sure everything is on the square before I release it. Here is the link for Kindle:

Publishing is Imminent

January 26th, 2012

I have finished the manuscript and am now at the point of hiring an independent publisher, as well as paying for some other publishing-related expenses. I am looking for new ways to fund this project, so please consider donating to the cause at IndieGoGo.

Brothers in Faith and Coffee

February 15th, 2010

More editing. I am on the final round of editing, currently working on chapter two and came across this passage, which I think is a bit of a gem, at least to me. The cool mornings were warmed with the taste of sweet, strong, rich coffee. This time six years ago I was in Thailand. It’s still a bit hard to believe that I was there and that I am so close to being done with my manuscript.

Each morning Gak and I went to have coffee together at an open-air market near the temple. People wandered by from stall to stall, buying produce, meat and dry goods as we sat on stools at a folding table – one of many that looked like it could collapse at a moment’s notice. I tried not to put more weight on it than was absolutely necessary. Gak would order for us, although I am sure I could have mustered the Thai word for coffee. “Song cafe,” he would say to the vendor. Two coffees. We would take a seat in the busy open-air market and warm our hands on the outside of teacups while the coffee was being made.

When it arrived and we took our sips, he would ask, “Dee mai?” Is it good?

Dee mak,” I would respond. Very good. Gak would slap the table with amusement and laugh. I worried about being covered in scalding liquids, figuring that eventually the table would fall.

This interchange went on every day for almost a week and Gak never tired of the amusement I seemed to bring merely from my attempt to speak his language. Between sips of coffee and the occasional verbal interchange, we sat and read the newspaper. Actually, Gak read the paper while I looked at it, its pages covered in a beautiful yet mystifying script whose meanings and tones I had yet to master. The pictures were interesting and always told stories in their own way. Despite the repetition and rut we must have been in, Gak and I felt comfortable with each other – brothers in faith and coffee, twin Buddhists who sat among the busy market workers, drinking coffee, only yards away from a butcher’s shop, where pig heads, organs and cuts of meat were on prominent, unrefrigerated display.

Meditating in the Extreme Heat of Nakhon Pathom

January 26th, 2010

I am almost done editing chapter one and came across this small passage about meditating in the scorching sunshine. I can remember it like it was yesterday, even though it has been nearly six years.

We meditated there under a blanket of heat, the air thick with moisture and heavy like wet gauze. The sun drilled into me and I felt the heat intensely. Sweat beaded on my body and my shirt clung, wet and heavy, to my back after only a few minutes.

I sat tall, legs crossed beneath me and focused on the in-out of my breath. Sitting and breathing like that made me think of Jack Kornfield, the meditation master and former monk, who taught about following the breath. He said to inhale and to feel the cool air stream enter through the nose and to exhale, feeling the warm air from the body pass through the same orifice. That guided meditation he delivered was apparently geared toward people who were not sitting in the midday heat of Thailand. What is a person supposed to do when the air coming out of his body is cooler than the air going in?

The Cutting Room Floor

September 21st, 2009

I am now in the process of editing the book. The bulk of the writing is done. In fact, I’d say all the primary material is there and what I am doing now is changing some phrasing and making lots of cuts. This is a tough process and has to be goal-driven, with the ultimate question being whether or not a section moves the story forward. After putting the manuscript on a shelf for a while, it is easier to make this distinction but it is still a tough decision to extract a well-written bit of text. It feels like making a decision to lay someone off. It’s not always that an employee has done wrong or done a bad job, but that he or she does not fit into the big picture for the company for some reason.

So I guess I am handing out literary pink slips. It’s a tough job to make these cuts but ultimately an important one. As good and fun as it seemed when I wrote it, when I was having my mental vomit through my ticky-tappy fingertips, some things had to go.

The flight to Chicago was uneventful, which is often a good thing when it comes to air travel. Boring is good, if annoying. The types of things that make air travel exciting and riveting are the types of things best left handled by professionals and not even thought about – things like safety issues or equipment maintenance concerns. Thank goodness the airlines employ people to keep not only terrorists but also things like snakes and panhandlers away from the friendly skies.

Yeah, editing really is an important step.

Back to Writing

August 3rd, 2009

Ancient Buddha statue DSCF0261Sometimes it seems like I have stopped writing because I have not made substantial progress on this book. The truth is that I work as a writer and thus have not stopped writing but have simply temporarily switched projects. For the last many months I have been spending more time on the work I do every day – writing about candy. I suppose that makes sense, as the candy industry pays me to do that and forgoing a place to live in exchange for working on my book probably isn’t a good idea.

However, I never abandoned this book and have been making slow progress on it for a while. Not long ago I printed out the first two chapters so I could work on editing them in hard copy form and have been slowly chipping away at that rough ashlar and have come a long way. The first chapter is nearly complete, at least as a stand-alone product. Eventually, I will have to see how it fits into the whole and helps to make a unified product, but for now I will consider it done.

This is pretty cool to see – the first part done. Looking at the printout, although I still have a long way to go, it really does look like a book is evolving from all this. Time to get back to the grindstone with this. Time to find a publisher too, now that it is really shaping up well.

Back up and Running

January 9th, 2009

I fixed the problem with the images on the site, as you can see, since now they are visible. That’s always the best situation – when things look and work the way they are supposed to. Now the trick is to get the writing done. I am currently editing the chapter on Udon Thani, at page 8 of 17. It is slow going but coming along. My original goal was to have it all done by the end of 2008 but now I am shooting for the end of this month.

Time to find someone in the publishing world to help me with the next steps.

Yeah, it does look different

January 7th, 2009

I just moved this site to a new server because my old hosting company seemed to have more downtime than uptime and now my regular theme is broken. It’s a mystery to me because I am using the same theme on a different site with no problem. Anyway, I hope to have that fixed before too long. We will see how it goes.