My Writing Work on “Sendero Rojo: The Path of Blood” #1 The setting.

Although this is an action/adventure novel it is also a novel of historical fiction about the Cocaine drug wars, the lives of the narcotraficantes, the local peoples and the DEA and military men and women who spend their lives trying to hunt down these destroyers of lives and nations.

The history side of the book comes from the sixty or so Latin American newspaper articles that I personally collected from the 1970’s through 2006 while living in South America. These documents describe incidents of drug manufacturing, drug running, drug interdiction and drug slavery in a variety of localities of Latin America. The incidents form the framework upon which I built my story, set in the terrorist ridden mountains, cities and jungles of  Peru during the late 1980’s.

This is a period with which I am quite familiar in that I, my wife and two children lived, traveled and worked there from 1986 through 1990.

The fictional side of the book comes through the linking of these separate incidents with fictional characters, localities and modifications so that they fit into a logical story line and are fleshed out by my imagination to make them whole. The characters within the book are totally of my imagination and bear no relation to any persons in real life. Readers who are well acquainted with certain aspects of the geography of Peru may note that I take some liberties with places in order to tell my story. Hopefully these liberties occur smoothly enough so that only the keenest of observers  will pick up on them.

The other Latin American areas woven into the story, including Chile, Ecudaor and Venezuela are also areas wher I and my family have lived, worked and traveled considerably. My hypotheses linking all of the incidents together formed gradually during these years to give a bird’s eye view of the world of international drug trade.

And so the story begins with the innocent life of a young girl living in the high Andes near Huraz, Peru. This life is shattered by the kidnpping of her father and fiance by terrorists to be taken as slaves to work in the jungles making basic cocaine paste at a drug camp.

The young girl is then forced to leave her home and flee to the metropolis of Lima where she ekes out a living as she attempts to find a way to bring about the release of her fiance and father from their bondage.

Back from a great Diving Trip in Curacao

Hey, it’s been almost a month since I posted – sorry, it was such a great diving trip that my writing got kind of way-laid.  Additionally, I picked up a viral computer bug that packed up my computer and I had to reformat the entire disk.  Fortunately I had a back-up, but you know how long it takes to set everything up again if you have ever had this happen.  I can’t believe the number of updates to the programs I am running since I first put my laptop into service in 2003.  Now I will only use it for my off-line work and do my on-line work through the newer model. …Back to the dive trip.

My wife and I both took a Padi Diver Rescue course for the first six days that we were there in Curacao.  An excellent thing to study. It certainly makes you aware of a lot of things that we all tend to get sloppy about after diving for a number of years such things as: predive plans, knowing the area, slow assent and even as important the slow descent when going do. Checking equipment BWRAF before you go in, use of non-resucitation oxygen systems and getting someone ashore and removing equipment….on and on, but it really improves the confidence in diving and doing it right.

If you are in search of a great diving site and place to stay, go to Waterside Apartments in Boca Sami, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles and take a look. Right on the water, we’ve been there over 12 times already in the past 10 years and are booked in again already for next year. Rudi and Tina are outstanding hosts!

We did 24 dives on this particular trip – all over the island, but about 2/3 in Snake Bay (Shlang Baii in Dutch) just in front of Waterside.  The perfect place to see rays, turtles, scads of fish and wonderful corals.  Other sites that are always our favorites – but not on weekends – are: Blue Bay – The Wall, Behind Electro-Curacao, Mari Pon Pon, Varsan Baii, Klein Knip, The tugboat – don’t miss swimming under the old piers at the end of the dive for big barracuda, West Point, Punta Mari, and Boca Sami Bay to name a few.

Equipment Rentals and Classes are easily found at nearby Wederfoort Dive and Blue Bay and Waterside has air tanks available at the regular price right at the Apartments so you just hang your gear in the locker and set up for dives in Snake Bay by walking in from the back door.  Great! See you there!

Book Review: A Flaw in Forsyth’s “No Comebacks”

No Comebacks by Frederick Forsyth (4.5 – 5 Stars)
Forsyth is a master on the same level as Wilber Smith when it comes to being a raconteur of tales. In the same was a Smith, he picks an area of the word he knows best for this set of short stories an pulls the reader in from the first paragraph. Of the ten short stories, I actually have three favorites and a fourth that I loved although it has a slight flaw which may never have been pointed out in previous reviews.
First, a bit about my three favorites without giving away the stories:
“Comeback” which is the first in the compendium is by far the best, showing us the flaws in the reasoning behind the plan to set up a murder for hire. Well done, right down to the last lines that hit the reader far between the eyes.
“The Emperor “wins my second place vote in this series, mainly because of the description of the fight to bring in the fabulous Marlin. Here is descriptive writing at it’s very best, capturing the full imagination of the reader right down to Murgatroyd’s bloody hands and the throes of death displayed by the monster. The final stages brought tears to my eyes. Truly the mark of a fabulous writier!
“Used in Evidence” brings out again the Master Tale Teller in Forsyth. He had me hanging on the ending for the old man wondering what the final evidence would show, right up to the last line. Remember to count your chickens.
The final great story “There are no Snakes in Ireland” is a mastery of showing human relationships and how different cultures react and perceive the same bits of information. It is also a model for remembering that racism can build up angers and tensions that have a comeback on the perpetrator of a prank. The one flaw is actually only obvious to a snake handling biologist who might have used a bit of tobacco or pipe tar to kill a snake in a manner that leaves it totally relaxed. By the time our snake had been in Big Billie’s tobacco contaminated pocket for even a few minutes, it would have been long gone from nicotine poisoning. But my telling you this isn’t a spoiler, since that’s not the end of the story.
Enjoy the read. You’ll learn why not to blackmail some “little people” and you’ll laugh at the consequences of greed and philanthropy. A great book to tell your buddies about!

Who Says Religions Can’t Work Together! Mission 4/1 Earth

One of the really big myths being foisted off on us by media is that there can’t be any interreligious cooperation between groups like the Abraham origin religions including: Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith groups because they are so different.

Are they really so different? No, not when you get truly earnest mission oriented proects to save something like good old Mother Earth. The folowing groups are just a few of the religious groups working to make humanity aware of our need to protect, change life styles and work together to influence our governments to get off their behinds to focus on collectively stopping major pollution, greenhouse warming, and the cessation of exploitation of natural resources is fragile environments such as the Artic, S. China Sea, and Rain forests of Africa, S.American and S. E. Asia.

Here are a few of the movers and shakers in this worldwide movement. You can add more to the list simply by a bit of web searching. If you can’t find your religious group, be prepared to ask, “Why don’t we(that means your religious group) give a damn about the unsustainable condition that Humanity is putting our global spaceship in?” “Why don’t we care that we are drowning our earth in our own defecation?”

Look them up ! Read about them and become a part of mission for your Earth!
United Church of Christ’s “Mission 4/1 Earth”
The Jewish Climate change Campaign
Muslim Seven Year Action Plan on Climate Change
The Evangelical Climate Initiative
American Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Jewish Climate Initiative
“Green Muslims”, Eco-Islam . . .

Peace! Rick McBee

Book Review “The Shape Shifter” by Tony Hillerman

Shapeshifter by Tony Hillerman  (Three Stars)

This is a slow moving, but well written tale from the Navajo Reservation once again immersed in Hillerman’s own detail oriented world of Officer (now-retired)Lt.  Leaphorn and his protégé and sometimes competitor Sgt. Chee.

In almost laconic fashion the author lays out his plot of the shape-shifting ex-CIA monster who has a bone to pick with three accomplices who are just getting out of prison, having served time for the CIA man’s plot. Perhaps they will rat on him, perhaps they will recognize him for what he is, a changeling who has once again assumed a new identity in order to work his criminal wiles  on the unsuspecting Navajo population to do them out of an antique Shape-shifter rug. 

With a bottle of special-forces maraschino cherries laced with quick acting cyanide or other chemical our villain blithely tops off his Vietnamese cook’s cake decorations for those who seem to be getting too close to the truth.  Leaphorn narrowly escapes in his own slow moving bumbling but clever ways as he innocently follows a lead to our man in an investigation of stolen buckets of Pinion Pine sap from granny’s house.  Fortunately he doesn’t like fruitcake!>)

Chee stumbles through a nearly squelched engagement to help Leaphorn and the cook hunt down the monster in the hills bordering N. Mexico and Arizona. The ending although justified, shows how it’s probably best that old Leaphorn has decided to retire.  Tampering with and concealing evidence anyone? Hmm, alls well that ends well unless they find the hidden body. Of course for Hillerman that’s always food for one more novel.  Not as much of the Navajo lore in this one as I like.

Book Review – “Coyote Waits” by Tony Hillerman

Coyote Waits  by Tony Hillerman  (Four Stars)

Hillerman does this one up pretty well in a long winded tribute to the cunning, evil and almost man-like attributes of Coyote who, “ always waits outside and is always hungry.”

The tale telling is well scripted in the part where old Pinto tells his tales of the Witches’ lair outside of the Ship Rock section of the reservation.  The tale pulls together well, showing how Coyote lays for even the most innocent of us through taking our own avarices to the extreme whether these be for drink, greed, money, power or even Sgt.Chee’s  embarrassment at being found out to have been negligent in assisting his partner.

The  convolutions of the tale twist like the ropey Pahoihoi lava cave in the outcropping where Butch Cassidy and his partners finally meet their end at the hands of pursuing Indians of the past century. Treasure awaits but so do the pitfalls of a rattlesnake infested witches’ caldron of lies and counter lies. Once again a has been CIA agent falls prey to his own cleverness to not tell the truth to the inquiring perceptive thoughts of Sgt. Chee. 

Love again creeps into the tale with the renewal of an old flame between Chee and the girl who went off to college and the simmering underground affair that seems to be working between Leaphorn and one of the professors who is helping with the case.  Will Leaphorn take the long awaited trip to China with his new found love?  What is the mysterious white painter on the cliffs trying to achieve with his lovelorn vandalism?

The section on familial and clan relationships is very interesting. It reminds one of the problems the ancients in the Bible got themselves into trying to marry or not marry between different clans. In oral tradition histories one can never be too sure, so best to marry from across the reservation with a clan that you aren’t related with at all, of course that marriage messes those relationships up for the offspring. There can only be so many permutations of this before it comes back around. Hopefully Hillerman will elucidate us on how many generations need to pass before your kids can marry back into the clan you or your wife is from.

The ending was a bit sloppy on corpses. Really, Tony the good Prof. should have smelled pretty high by the time he is found.  Don’t want to be  a spoiler here. So enuf is enuf.

E-Shell: Seashells of the Caribbean work 1

Today as I begin to get ready to go diving in Curacao in a couple of weeks, I pulled up my manuscript of the E-shells of the Caribbean that I have been putting off finishing while I worked on marketing my Civil War book, “Rough Enough.”  Can’t let the old classification stuff get rusty! Boy it’s amazing how quickly the list of things to still complete seems to multiply every time I take one last look through the book.  Of course part of this is because as an interactive smart-book, which allows you to jump back and forth and from one key to another, it is beginning to be a morass of little buttons or highlights that all have to work properly in order for the book to be as completely useful  to the biologist, collector, malacologist or week-end explorer, as it can possibly be. It’s a challenge and I think I may float a draft in a couple of weeks just before I head for the Caribbean and then see if there are any glitches picked up by a select group of users. Then I can do repairs and get it online for the world.

Below you can see the underside of a great West Indian Top Shell showing the deep umbilicus and the typical black or deep brown blotches so typical of this shell. Note the pretty red dots; they are encrusting coral and not a part of the shell itself.  This particular shell used to be a major food item on many of the islands in the Caribbean. These top shells has been cleaned out by over zealous hunters in many places and so are now rare on some islands, but giant piles of shells (middens) can be found where these shells were harvested for the meat. This particular shell came from a heap on the West coast of Aruba in the Netherlands Antilles. My largest shell of this type came from the South West beaches of Barbados where it had been thrown high up by a storm.

Shell Retakes-18

Review: The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story – by Elliott West

Review: The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story – by Elliott West
Here is a long but very well researched look at the whole concept of the Nez Perce War: giving and overview of first contacts with whites, congenial relations, willingness to work to solve problems followed by a gradual betrayal by the US government and their officials to the point where a peaceful people are literally driven into a war. <br /><br />Spend a good week or so reading this book. Take it slowly, get out a map and follow the campaign, check out the sizes of the reservations and the way land was literally scalped from the tribe and then follow the movements of the last bands of resistors who went with Joseph on his epic attempt to find a new home where his people could live peacefully.<br /><br />Read the statements of the two sides and realize that these political conversations of two parties of people viewing the world through different colored lenses of experience and tradition make human communication a morass of misunderstandings is so real today as we move from our own tribal world into the world of nation-state and globalism.  <br /><br />I will cherish this book as I have know the story since childhood but never before taken it to the depths that Elliott West presents so thoughtfully and eloquently. I wish I had read this before I wrote my own book, “Rough Enough” as it certainly would have featured as one of my references.
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What Books is Rick McBee working on now?

I have had several close contacts ask me when the next book is coming out now that they have read “Rough Enough.” 

When I’m not up to my ears in skiing, diving, orienteering and trying to keep up on the Civil War scene, I’m working on three other books at the moment.  I’ve listed these below and as soon as I figure out how to open up labels on this site and make it a web page (I don’t suppose any of you are ever challenged by computer work? Hmm.), I’ll have a tag for each so you can follow along with chapter and verse.  Back to the books.  Three of them separated in genre and interest:

1. “Following the Blue Bucket” will be the next section of Richard Clow’s Life taking him from the gold mining fields of Deadwood, SD. across Wyoming by wagon with his wife and young daughter, Cora into Idaho where they settle outside Montpelier, ID. and set up a sheep ranch, the CBR ranch. When the ranch goes bust they move on to Granite, Oregon and mine gold again and make enough to then move on to the Willamette Valley where they farm successfully until about 1905 when the move to Mapleton, OR and run the Mapleton Hotel and mail boat on the Siuslaw River near Florence, OR.  Due out late in 2014. It may have to be closer to historical fiction than straight history because of the scarcity of information in some places coupled with his run-ins with several historical characters that are rumored in the family and probable but so far undocumented.
2. “Sendero Rojo: The Path of Blood” due out late 2013 or early 2014 is an historical fiction on the South American Drug Wars based on some fifty references which I collected in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela while working in those countries for 17 years.  It follows a young woman and her fiance as they are separated by a kidnapping high in the Andes. Maria struggles to survive on the streets and in the slums of Lima Peru while Huascar fights for life as a slave in a drug manufacturing camp deep in a hidden valley of the upper Amazon river. Escaping, Huascar succeeds in crossing the Andes to rescue Maria from poverty in Lima and bring her back to their home area of Huaraz in the mountains.
3. “E-Shell: Seashells of the Caribbean” due out mid 2013 is an interactive computer guide to identifying over 200 seashells of the Caribbean from the coasts of Florida to the shores of Venezuela. Based on over 13 years of collecting and identifying shells from the Caribbean, this book is unique in having lots of smart items to jump from  seashell keys to pages with their photos and descriptions. The macro-photography brings the seashells up right in front of your eye with arrows to key identification points, whether it is a giant conch from Panama or a minute purple janthina shell from the shores of Curacao.

I hope you’ll enjoy following these books as I move forward in my writing.

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