Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sci-Fi Sale

My techno-thriller The Immortality Game is on sale for just .99 on most sites. I have a Bookbub ad scheduled for Saturday the 8th, though for some reason they agreed only to run it in Australia, the UK, Canada, and India. I went ahead and put the book for on sale even in the US on Amazon and GooglePlus. In the aforementioned countries you can find it for sale on Amazon, GooglePlus, Kobo, and iTunes. If you know anyone who enjoys this type of story, please help spread the word. The sale will last through the 13th.
Artwork by Stephan Martiniere

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1st Place in Nassau Cup Invitational Chess Championship 2017

What a fantastic result I had in chess these past two weeks! A new sponsor has taken interest in trying to strengthen Bahamian chess and organized the inaugural Nassau Cup Invitational Chess Championship at the beautiful Old Fort Bay Club on the west side of New Providence island. All the top players from the Bahamas were there, and to show just how tough the field played against each other, the national champion Kendrick Knowles finished in next to last place.
I started very well with three straight wins. I had a tough loss in the fourth round to FIDE master Cecil 'Carver' Moncur, where I should have drawn the endgame but played it too passively. Then I won the next game to finish the first weekend with four out of five points.
Beating Bahamas National Champion Knowles in round 3
I started the following weekend well, too, with a win over CM Elton Joseph to move to five out of six, but then I hit a slump by pushing too hard. I lost two games in a row where in each of them if I didn't push so hard I could have drawn. I was still in first place due to how hard everyone was battling, but now it was by only a half a point over FM Moncur. But in the next round I handily beat FM Moncur to nearly put it away, and I finished it off with a win in the final round to complete the event with seven out of ten and clear first place.
Beating FM Moncur in the penultimate round
On the final weekend, Cuban Grandmaster Renier Gonzalez  was a special guest and watched all the games and analyzed with the players between rounds.
Me with Grandmaster Renier Gonzalez of Cuba
Even former US Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady stopped by to watch for a bit! This was the biggest prize I have ever won before, and it was in a gorgeous setting. I couldn't be happier except if I had just not lost those three games.
Grandmaster Gonzalez, me, and the sponsor

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What I Read in 2016

At the end of each year I do a summary post of what I read throughout the year. I find it interesting to see my reading habits, and to make note of what the best books were each year. I read 52 books each of the past two years. Not quite that many this year, though close at 47. I use a standard five star rating method with five stars meaning I loved the book so much I intend to re-read it throughout my life, so there are rarely any five star books.

1. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill *** and a half
2. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss ** and a half
3. Lock In by John Scalzi ****
4. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson ****
5. Deadwood Gates by Steven Erikson ****
6. Nova by Samuel Delany ** and a half
7. Just After Sunset by Stephen King **
8. Turning Angel by Greg Iles **** and a half

9. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey ****
10. The Bone Tree by Greg Iles **** and a half
11. True Evil by Greg Iles ****
12. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson ***
13. The Dragon Chronicles by mix of authors ** and a half
14. Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey **** and a half

15. Dr. Sleep by Stephen King ****
16. If At First... by Peter F. Hamilton ***
17. Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey ****
18. Imperium by Robert Harris ****
19. Conspirata by Robert Harris ****
20. Darkness Weaves by Karl Edward Wagner ***
21. Warship by Joshua Dalzelle ** and a half
22. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ****

23. Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clark *** and a half
24. Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson ** and a half
25. A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney ****
26. Future Imperfect by Keith Laumer **
27. Kick by John L. Monk ****
28. Intrusion by Rosalind Minett ****

29. Infiltration by Rosalind Minett ****
30. Seed by Rob Ziegler ***
31. Beyond Redemption by Michael Fletcher ***
32. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by various authors ***
33. Wastelands 2 by various authors ***
34. The Song of Albion collection by Stephen R. Lawhead *** and a half
35. A Serpent in Eden by James Owen **
36. Hell in the Pacific by Jim McEnery ***
37. Inferno: The World at War 1939-1945 by Max Hastings *** and a half
38. The End of All Things by John Scalzi ***
39. Shakey: Neil Young's Biography by Jimmy McDonough ***
40. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson *** and a half
41. Fatal Crossroads by Danny Parker **
42. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell ****

43. Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell ****
44. The Archer's Tale by Bernard Cornwell ****
45. Vagabond by Bernard Cornwell ****
46. Heretic by Bernard Cornwell ****
47. 1356 by Bernard Cornwell *** and a half

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Life Keeps Moving Right Along

With Facebook being so easy for doing instant updates, I find it difficult to keep up to date on the blog, especially during big life changes. My family departed Baku, Azerbaijan in July. We spent a month and a half in Beloit, Wisconsin helping our eldest son Anton get settled into this freshman year at Beloit College. Follow the progress of his new rock band Tortuga on Facebook!
Goodbye lunch for Anton
Anton quickly met some musicians at the college and formed a band called Tortuga
Sadly leaving Anton behind for the first time in our lives, we went on to Washington DC for a week before heading for my new posting in Nassau, Bahamas. It has already been an interesting couple of months here.
Typical view on New Providence, Bahamas
First we had the biggest hurricane in living memory hit us. Hurricane Matthew was Category 4 when it struck Nassau. I lived in my office for four days, which wasn't fun. Our house was mostly okay, except for the back yard and having to throw most of our cold/frozen food away.
The hurricane left downed trees and power lines all over
Then I played in the Fall Classic chess tournament, which was a qualifier for the national championships. I took 2nd place and qualified, so this coming weekend I'll be starting the double round-robin National Championships of the Bahamas.Wish me luck!
Playing in the Fall Classic 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Curtain Drops

I have been so proud of my two sons these past two years in Baku, Azerbaijan, as their music talents have truly blossomed. They were fortunate to have two teachers at their school who were enthusiastic and talented musicians. Having these teachers gave the opportunity to bring out talent in the students that might otherwise have gone undiscovered. My son Anton already loved bass guitar before we came here, but my younger son Alex only played piano. It was only by watching the bands in action here that Alex decided he wanted to play drums.

The two teachers had always had a 'teacher band' at the school, and until this year they had never had a student join them, but they decided to have Anton join their band this year, and they half-jokingly called themselves 'Anton and the Ants' for all of their performances. The core members were my son Anton and the two teachers, but as the year progressed they more and more often had other student musicians and singers rotate through for various songs.

The videos on this post are from the very last concert of Anton and the Ants, at the Sunset Cafe in Baku on June 14. We are leaving Baku in a couple of weeks, moving on to our next posting (and Anton to college!). It was a fun and bittersweet performance, knowing these fast friends would not play together again.
It was especially wonderful to have both of my sons play together, which doesn't happen very often. Below you see Anton on bass and Alex on drums.
On a side note, I'm running a giveaway of some Kindle versions of my novel The Immortality Game. Sadly it's only valid on the US Amazon, but if interested, CLICK HERE!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Brainwash Them Young!

It has been a great couple of days for my family. On Friday the 13th my sons both had activities--Alex started a track meet with his school team and Anton's band (Anton and the Ants) held a concert at the Harbour Tap and Grill. The concert was great, and we got a call early on that Alex had won a gold medal in the 400 meters and was on his way to join us. When he arrived, the band called him up to sit in on drums for two songs. Now my wife and I had been begging our kids to play together for the past couple of years and they just never have, so this was the very first time we ever saw them play music together! I wish I had recorded more of the songs, since so many of them were great.

The next day was Anton's 18th birthday, and Alex had the rest of his track meet to contend with. He was in four more events--the long jump, the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and the 4 x 400 meter relay--and he won silver in all of them!
In the evening after cake and presents, we watched some old video from when the boys were very young, and we cracked up over this little bit of Alex singing Beatles songs. It reminds me that I instilled a love of great music into the boys from their earliest days, and that is paying off beautifully with their musical talent nowadays!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Anton and the Ants - Live in Baku!

I'm so very proud of my two sons. At their school's Battle of the Bands a few months ago my oldest son's group won first place while my younger son's band took second. Besides the school bands, my older son Anton has another group made up of teachers from the school. They call themselves Anton and the Ants. Yesterday they did a concert at the Sunset Cafe here in Baku, doing about twenty songs for an appreciative audience. It was fun watching all the kids dancing around.
Advert for the concert
I didn't have anything to record with except my iPhone, so the quality of the couple songs I recorded isn't the best, especially since I was too close to the bass speaker and too far away from the guitar speaker, but I still think it sounds decent. Here is the group playing Iggy Pop's Real Wild Child.