Black Ops Aviator Series News June 2022

Black Ops Aviator
Short story 1970 Clark AB

Could you (do you) live alone?

I’m getting used to not having a dog in the house after my daughter and her pitty, Indo, moved out a while ago.
And now my husband has gone to visit his family in CA for a few days so it’s just me roaming around our big, empty house.

My sleep is better alone, even in a king-sized bed.
The Oura ring has recorded two excellent days of sleep and I’ve even remembered a couple dreams.

A schedule helps. Though I’m free to do whatever I want almost whenever I want, I still wake-up to a 6:30am alarm.
Before other alarms remind me of things I want to do including Peloton yoga classes, breakfast smoothies, and my writing and publishing business.

So, I like both, having a few days to do-my-own-thing and then welcoming my (noisy) husband back home.

What about you? Are you ever or often alone?

So, I’m back to daily writing and working on launching the indie publishing business.
I attended an indie author/publishing conference in Madrid earlier this month before going to Portugal and northern Spain on a biking vacation. 
You can read a bit about that in another post on this site.
Now it’s time for me to review the info and contacts I made in Madrid and execute on the plan.

The writing business requires lots of reading 

I’ve been a reader, in many genres, my whole life so that’s the part I’m most comfortable with.
Yesterday I found a Vietnam Veteran’s site that had seven pages of books written by and/or about the guys’ 1960s and 1970s wartime experiences.
Most were published eight or ten years ago but a couple authors are still actively writing, online and in novels.
Plus I got a few of the books, mostly in print, that seem like they’ll help me recreate a believable story for my characters in 1970s SEA.

But, for ‘fun’ fiction reading, I started a Steven King novel that was recommended and I purchased (as a used hardcover) earlier this year.
It’s titled 11/22/63 (the day JFK was assassinated).
A time-travel tale set in 2010, it’s pretty easy to pick up and read a small snippet as the chapters are broken up into numbered scenes.
At 849 pages, it’s a big book so we shall see if I can finish it this summer.
My next trip is in the car. My husband will pilot and I can read while he drives. 
So it’s probable, if I’m invested enough in the characters.

Via my Libby app, I’m finishing an audio version of George Orwell’s historical fiction book, Burmese Days.
More research on SEA that was recommended by a travel writer who had been to Myanmar which we used to call Burma.
Turns out, it’s set in Calcutta, during the British Empire days, not really in SEA.
I’m not sure it’ll be much help with the Burma portion of the BOA series, but it’s free and I can listen while driving or walking. 

Next, I’m switching to a biography (another audio via Libby) by Walter Isaacson, Code Breaker.
This one’s about the scientists that developed the DNA editing tool CRISPR.
Biotech is obviously a game-changer for the 21st century and I’d like to know more about the people involved. 
And my husband might like to listen too, while he drives us around CO. 

I am off again, soon, meeting up with kids/grandsons and my sisters in the cooler climates of Colorado and California. 
I’ll take my mobile iPad/keyboard and see if I can get some scenes for the novels drafted.

That’s what I’m up to, what are you doing? 
Reading anything good? 

’til later, Leah

PS: I don’t get to my emails every day but if you have anything you want me to see, drop a line to my:
address and I’ll get back to you ASAP. 


Travel Log Spain & Portugal 2022

Porto to Santiago Coastal Route

Nice to go, nice to return home.

Visiting a new place, with a different culture, in a different time zone, is invigorating and exhausting. But, once back home, the opportunity to reflect on the experiences is as rewarding as the pre-trip planning.

Maybe more so for me this time. The Camino bike tour portion, shown on the map route, was my newly retired husband’s first experience of planning an adventure trip for us. He’d been saying he wanted to do multi-day bike tours, primarily in Europe, for a few years, but he had limited, time-restricted vacation days, so it remained a wish-list item.

Then, I booked a writer’s conference in Madrid and insisted that he join me. His suggestion was to add a bicycle trip up the northern Portuguese and southern Spanish coasts. We’d follow the pilgrim’s route to the cathedral where Saint James’ bones are kept. Though he was born and raised Catholic, neither of us is seeking anything more than an adventure. But, the well-trod path offers the infrastructure to allow even the novice traveler a safe and pleasant journey.

A well-marked trail.

Late spring offered nice weather, warm but not hot, mostly sunny, and oodles of spring flowers and foliage. A myriad of hotels, cafes, and bars line the route. Daily mileage could be long or short, on-road or off. Breaks any time, as long as the target hotel was within range.

He found a company specializing in booking the bikes, hotels, and luggage transfers for self-guided riders. We packed an extra duffle bag with the padded seat I need to ride multiple days in relative comfort, our rinse and wear bike outfits, including fluorescent yellow and fuchsia long-sleeved shirts I wore over t-shirts for sunscreen and visibility on the roadways.

And it worked. The tour company, Camino Ways, did a perfect job of delivering the rental bikes, booking the hotels he contracted for, and shuttling our luggage between them each day. Some stops were in city centers, some country manors. Some were better than others, but when you’re only there only overnight, anything clean and safe is good.

We chose the riding track – some days dodging walkers on unpaved paths, sometimes cars on the highway, occasionally through small villages and farmer’s fields. With our data-enabled phone maps, we never felt like we were lost. A quick map stop and off we went to navigate amongst unmarked trails and roadways. Sometimes on a pre-planned route, sometimes discovering the path. We took long lunches to avoid the mid-day sun, carried drinks and snacks, and chatted with other travelers at roadside cafes. 

And, should we poop out, trains run parallel to the Camino. We spoke with a buddy group on their sixth day out who was seriously considering making the final leg into Santiago via train. We didn’t find that necessary (I rode a battery pedal-assist bike, and my husband trained via a week’s worth of 25-30 mile daily rides) but it’s nice to know it’s an option. And yes, after arriving at the cathedral, we happily dismounted and turned in the bikes before booking our return to Madrid via train and then flying home. 

Nice to go and nice to be home, safe, healthy, and with another adventure in the books. 

Reading this month…

I’m spreading my book reviews around between my site, Substack and Goodreads.
This one I posted on Goodreads since I read the paperback book a couple weeks ago:

I enjoyed reading this story. The dual protagonist structure and short chapters let me dip in and out over the course of maybe a week. Towards the end, I really did want to know what happened to each character. I enjoyed my visceral emotional response at a couple of points in the last quarter.

I’m not a romance reader but I appreciate a realistic portrait of consensual sex which was woven through the contemporary portion of the book. The non-consensual sex was a bit veiled which I imagine is realistic for a child victim’s adult memories. It’s a big, socially destructive topic that I’m pleased to see fiction addressing.

The settings are also a compelling element of the story – I really do have to get to New Zealand! I’m only vaguely familiar with surfer culture, so if there are disparities (are women really accepted as legit wave riders or strictly bikini babes), I don’t know, but it frames this story nicely. More than a beach read, less than literary fiction, if you have the time and like tales of family drama, I recommend it.

A Writer Reads: All This Could Be Yours (from )

I’m taking a couple of weeks to recover from some surgery, so catching up on reading novels in the women’s family drama genre is this week’s major accomplishment.

Jami Attenberg’s 2019 novel, her 7th, published by Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt, arrived in my mailbox last month and rose to the top of the reading pile. She’s obviously a rather successful, traditionally published novelist, so I expected to both enjoy her storytelling and glean tips for writing in the genre with All This Could Be Yours:

All This Could Be Yours by [Jami Attenberg] It’s a mother/daughter multi-generational tale set mostly in New Orleans where Attenberg lives. Alex, the late-thirties protagonist vs Barbara, the late-sixties antagonist, plus an adolescent daughter, Avery, form the female triangle. Victor, the criminally cruel father/husband, introduced first, serves as the fulcrum they rotate around.

Alex joins her parents in N.O. after her father has a fatal heart attack. Jumping between present and past, she decides to review her nuclear family’s history, in an attempt to chart her future. The cover depicts the device, Barbara’s storage unit, used to secure the family’s assets. The women’s journaling is another device used to hide and reveal the family’s secrets.

Many other characters make appearances. There’s a missing brother, a sister-in-law, an ex-husband, friends, a cousin, lovers, and even the coroner who does Victor’s autopsy. New Orleans also acts as a character with Attenberg imbuing the story with its history, climate, and culture. Additional settings, from Connecticut to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Alabama add to the mé·lange.

While I found several scenes useful to my current writing project, in the end, as a reader, I was confused. Alex doesn’t seem to make much progress along an arc. Barbara is freed from the marriage she enslaved herself in but reverts to her previous life (sans Victor) without much personal growth. We skip ahead years to watch Avery and her cousin transit through teens and twenties in a stereotypical fashion.

The theme, if I can call it that, seems to be the harm men do to women, or is it the poor choices women make about men? Not real uplifting, even if true. I rather like the way it’s structured, with sections labeled as a day’s segments, Morning to Midnight.

Anyone else read All This Could Be Yours? Or other Jami Attenberg novels?

Happy to hear your thoughts, Leah

Also posted on:

Thinking about character arcs, making stories and protagonists more interesting to modern readers. Via Tex Thompson’s zoom class for the Houston Sisters in Crime writer’s group today.

Starting a 3rd draft of “The Switch Tree” this week has me figuring out how to reorg, add, and subtract scenes to get this story and our hero, Charlotte, to the end. Planning to send this version to the beta readers this spring so, hop, hop.