A Spaceship for Hire is now available on Amazon

The third in my Galactic Smuggler’s series, “A Spaceship for Hire” is now live and available on Amazon, for both print and Kindle e-reader.

I think you’ll be really happy with “A Spaceship for Hire”. I’m really excited about it; it’s a fun read.

Book 3 in my Galactic Smuggler’s series

Book #3 picks up where “Coffee to Go, With a Spaceship” leaves off, continuing the story of Jack and Donna and their nice alien friends.

Exiled from Earth and unable to return home, Jack makes a living running a small cafe on a distant planet at the edge of the galaxy. But when marauding space pirates start raiding galactic trade routes, Jack and his alien friends find themselves cut-off from the rest of the galaxy.

It looks like Jack is soon to be out of business and out of money, and with war spreading he’s unable to go for help.

Help eventually comes from a very unlikely person: Donna, his ex-girlfriend. She’s learned how to fly an old alien spaceship that’s been abandoned in the woods behind her farm, and agrees to help Jack and his friends out.

Jack really, really, doesn’t want to go back into space, but he’s got no choice. Jack, Donna and a band of alien friends leave in Donna’s spaceship to go for help.

Along the way, the unlikely couple discover that they still have feelings for each other. But before they can start living their happily-ever-after, they first have to fight off space pirates, stop an inter-galactic war from spreading, and try to find their way back to Earth for another load of coffee.

This is a ride you don’t want to miss!

Drop me a line and let me know what you think. Now, go find some friends and have a great day!

Today’s good mood brought to you by coffee!

The days are short and the nights long and dark this time of year. To compound the dreariness, we haven’t seen the sun for two weeks. In my part of the country it’s been continuously wet and cloudy, with lots of rain and dark grey clouds. It can be a struggle sometimes to keep one’s mood upbeat.

So to help lift our moods, in today’s blog I thought I’d share some fun facts and happy thoughts related to the world’s most awesome beverage.

Today’s Happy Thought

We’ve always known that coffee drinkers are generally much more interesting and intelligent people, especially when compared to tea drinkers. I think we can all agree that’s just a simple fact.

Today’s good mood brought to you by coffee

But there’s more! The really great news is that coffee drinkers also live longer!

It’s true. There is now scientific evidence that drinking coffee improves your chances for a longer life than the non-coffee drinking crowd. According to researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death.

According to Peter Kistler, head researcher at the Institute, “moderate intake of ground, instant and caffeinated coffee should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle…”

Amen brother! Your preaching to the choir now!

For today’s happy thought, have a look at the full CNN article: Coffee drinkers live longer!

🙂

But wait – there’s more. Not only do we live longer, but according to Healthline there are several other health benefits.

  1. Coffee boosts your energy.
  2. Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Supports brain health. (No surprise here. We’ve suspected all along that coffee drinkers are smarter.)
  4. Promotes weight management.
  5. Coffee is linked to lower rates of depression.
  6. Protects against liver conditions.
  7. Improves heart health.
  8. Lowers risk of death from cancer.
  9. Enhances athletic performance.

You can read the full article here: 9 evidence based unique health benefits of coffee.

Now go and have a great day!

You’re welcome!

What’s better than a good book and a cup of coffee?

When real life mirrors apocalyptic sci-fi

I had a strange experience with life imitating art while writing Octavia Seven.

Octavia Seven is my time-travel romance about Octavia, an anthropologist from the 23rd century who travels back to our time. Her mission was to study life in our day before a killer virus wipes out humanity, leaving very few survivors. She was supposed to just conduct a few studies then return to her own time before the pandemic starts. But of course in fiction it can never be that simple, and she meets Jake, falls in love, and that’s when things start to get complicated for her. Jake can’t return with her, and she can’t stay with a killer virus on the way…

The real thing is never as much fun as fiction

I finished the first draft well before Covid-19, long before there was any hint of the real pandemic that was about to hit us in 2020.

I set the manuscript aside for a bit, fully intending on going through it a couple more times before sending it off to my proof-reader.

However, before I could finish the manuscript and get it to my proof-reader, Covid arrived and a real pandemic started sweeping the world. In those early days of covid, we had no idea how bad it may get, but as the bodies started piling up I lost all interest in my story, and I stopped working on it.

A bit too close to home

In my fictional story, I even had the virus starting in China. It was a bit too close to home, and I dropped the project, not knowing if I would ever finish it.

During those first few months of covid it felt like we were living in some kind of sci-fi plot, and I lost all interest in apocalyptic movies and fiction, because, well, it felt like we were really in one.

This is what it felt like in 2020

We got through it, and thankfully it didn’t turn out to be an apocalypse. Last year things started to get back to something more akin to normalcy, and over time I was able to gain some perspective on Octavia Seven.

I dusted off the story and got back to work on the manuscript. I really loved the characters and the story and felt like it was worth publishing, so I finished my re-writes and sent it off to my editor for proof-reading.

But I made some edits to the ending.

Who needs an apocalypse? They’re really not all that much fun…

I’m really not a fan of apocalyptic fiction any more. We have grandkids – I won’t tell you how many because the overall number is a bit ridiculous, but let’s just say we have several adorable grandkids who are still pretty little. Four of them are five and under. The thought of them picking through the ruins of a devastated Earth, scavenging to survive and hunting rats for their next meal, absolutely horrifies me. Only people who don’t have kids could possibly enjoy writing that kind of garbage.

So after living through Covid, I re-wrote the ending of Octavia Seven. It’s now a time-travel story about how love can change history for the better.

I’m a huge fan of happy endings. Who needs bad endings that leave you depressed? If I wanted to be depressed, I can read CNN for that.

You’ll likely need some cookies while reading your favorite fan-fiction. My favorite chef, Jenn Segal, has some fantastic cookie recipes. Check out her website here. Go and bake some before sitting down to read.

Have a great day!

Canuckle Daily Word Puzzle Answer. What’s Your Best Guess?

It’s official, I’m a Canuckle nerd (nerdle?/Cannerdle?). In today’s blog I’m finally coming to terms with that and admitting it to myself and the world. My wife is already planning to have friends and family over later tonight for an intervention.

Canada’s favourite word puzzle game

I love Wordle, the 5-letter daily word puzzle game that’s taken the world by storm. And the Canadian version of it, Canuckle, is just as much fun for Hosers like me. For those of you who may not know, Canuckle is a Wordle spinoff with a Canadian theme – 5-letter words like BACON, CANOE, MOOSE, KAYAK, MAPLE, BACON, SYRUP, BACON, … etc, etc. You get the idea. (Oh, did I mention bacon?)

Wordle in 1! 

It’s true. A couple of weeks ago I finally got the coveted Wordle in 1!

On May 4, the Wordle answer for the day was TRAIN. Fun fact, it was also the word of the day for a Wordle spin-off, Canuckle. I did Canuckle first, and got it in 3. Then I turned to Wordle, and thought, what the heck, I may as well use TRAIN as my starting word. And BAM! My first and only time getting Wordle in 1.

You have to be a Wordle addict to appreciate the excitement, but I rode that high for a week!

Wordle in 1 on May 4, 2022

The Best List of Canuckle Word Puzzle Starting Words

Since I got hooked on Canuckle a couple of months ago, I started keeping a private list of words which I think are very good candidates for future Canuckle answers. In today’s blog, I’m sharing my list with other Canuckle addicts. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Maybe we could start having meetings in church basements…

I claim no insider knowledge. This list is simply what I believe to be likely candidates for future Canuckle answers. I’ve made a note next to some of the words explaining why I think they make good puzzle answers.

You can find the list of my best Canuckle puzzle starting words here!

The Real Answer History Archive

Just in case you’ve been missing out on the fun, I’m also maintaining a complete archive of past Canuckle puzzle answers, starting with the very first puzzle back in February 10, 2022.

If you are a fellow Canuckle nerd, feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think.

A little coffee humor to lighten your day

This is how I feel if I get up in the morning and there’s no coffee…

In today’s blog I thought I’d share a humour meme I created this morning. The idea came to me when I found this retro photo of a screaming woman on the internet and thought – that’s how I’d feel if I got up in the morning and there was no coffee. Any true coffee lover will easily relate to the humour in this image.

The first thing I do when I get out of bed is head downstairs into the kitchen and start the coffee. And then I stand there and wait for enough coffee to appear in the carafe to pour a cup. Fortunately my coffee maker has a ‘pause ‘n pour’ feature, otherwise it would get rather messy.

In nice weather I’ll take my coffee and laptop outside to the back deck and listen to the birds while writing or reading the news. Unfortunately in Canada the weather is crap 9 months of the year, in which case I go into the living room, turn on the gas fireplace, and sit next to the fire.

I can’t imagine starting the day without coffee. I’m not sure how non-coffee drinkers do it, but I think the government should fund a research program to study them. We need to find the answer to how they function, if not to confirm they’re human.

I find it very relaxing to make humorous memes, especially if they are coffee related. Kind of goes with the territory when your ‘thing’ is escapist adventures featuring coffee loving alien smugglers.

Here are a few more humour memes I’ve made.

Have a great day.

Why we need pulp fiction now more than ever

The dangers of doomscrolling

I’ve been spending a lot off time doomscrolling since Russia launched its brutal and unjust invasion of Ukraine, and I can’t recall when I’ve ever felt angrier with what I’m seeing in the news.

With the war in Ukraine, the global pandemic, the climate crisis, severe weather events, and the election cycles in America that never seem to end, there is no shortage of bad news to doomscroll through.

As a writer of escapist pulp fiction, I wondered if anyone would still be interested in the kind of light-hearted novels I like to write. Why would anyone want to read stories about aliens coming to Earth looking for coffee? How could I spend my time writing about such frivolous topics with all the truly serious crap hitting the fan around the world?

So for a while I stopped work on my current project – a sequel to my humorous sci-fi series about aliens who love coffee. I didn’t feel it was the right time for writing light-hearted escapism.

It’s a very good time for light-hearted escapism

But then I thought about how popular dime novels were during the American Civil War, which featured escapist adventure stories. And during the Great Depression cheap adventure stories in the form of ‘pulp’ fiction were hugely popular.

Dime novels became very popular during the darkest years of the Civil War

During the dark days of the Civil War and the global depression, people needed the break and low-cost escapist novels came into their own as an industry.

We are in a similarly dark period now, and it’s precisely in times like this that low-cost escapism is needed more than ever. We all need to take a break from doomscrolling and find a way to unplug from everything that’s going on and relax. Pulp fiction, escapist adventures, humorous sci-fi – whatever kind of reading you prefer – is a legitimate form of recreation. So I’ve taken up my pen once again and resumed writing.

Support a worthy charity

However, I still believe we should try to do what we can to help and not ignore what’s going on in the world. As a result, I’ve made some personal changes. Instead of doomscrolling, I’ve cut back drastically on my news consumption and started doing something practical. I started giving.

Recently I did some research into charities dedicated to assisting the people of Ukraine. The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail have both published lists of reputable charities supporting Ukraine.

Charities supporting Ukraine:

Don’t ignore what’s going on, but I think you may find it more rewarding to spend less time doomscrolling and more time doing something practical. I think one of the best ways most of us here in Western Europe, Canada and America can do that is by donating to charities supporting worthy causes.

Oh, and spend more time reading great adventure sci-fi about aliens who like coffee.

And that’s my rant for the day.

My New Time-travel Adventure is Here!

The girl from the future…

What does a girl do when she can’t tell anyone where she’s really from?

I’m excited about my latest novel – a fun blend of love, romance, dystopian future and time travel. It’s about Octavia, a woman from a dystopian future who has traveled back in time to our own day. She’s here on a mission: study us and learn how we lived prior to a deadly plague that almost destroys human life and brings on the dystopian world she grew up in.

Octavia never had a family, never knew a mother or father – she was raised on a eugenics farm by robots and impersonal guardians. She arrives in our time and meets Jake, the loving single father of an 11-year old girl, and it’s not long before they fall in love. For the first time in her life, Octavia becomes part of a real family. But she can never tell Jake that she’s from the future – how could he possibly believe it? And that’s not the only secret she has to keep from him.

But falling in love was not part of her mission plan, and the secrets she carries about herself and the terrible future awaiting them soon threaten to tear them apart.

I actually started writing this in 2016, thinking it would be fun to write a story about a world-wide pandemic and time-travel. I finished it prior to 2020 under a different title, and then covid-19 broke out. When covid-19 hit, I no longer felt like promoting a novel about a plague. Reading and writing stories about an apocalypse is fun until it starts to feel like you are really in one. So I shelved the project for a while.

In early 2021 I dusted it off and re-read it, and sent it to an editor for professional proof reading. I like the story and now that it looks like we are getting to the end of the covid-19 pandemic I feel good about publishing it.

It’s a fun, clean read with a feel-good ending. I’m a huge believer in happy endings… I mean, why read a book that leaves you depressed. I can go to CNN for that.

I hope you like reading the book as much as I liked writing it. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Available on Amazon

Octavia Seven Book Review

Epic Honduran Roast from Oddfellow Coffee Roasters

Coffee farm in Honduras

It’s 6:30 AM, and I am just finishing a 3rd cup of coffee I brewed with a Honduran roast from Oddfellow Coffee Roasters. Oddfellow is a local roaster in Brantford Ontario that I ‘discovered’ last winter at the Brantford farmers market, and I’ve been hooked ever since. What I like about Oddfellow is not just the amazing flavour of his roasts, but that the owner, Ryan Wlodarek, buys direct from just a handful of small growers in Honduras, El Salvador and Brazil.

Today I am going to talk about his Honduran roast, because Honduras holds a special place in my heart – especially when it comes to coffee. But I’ll get to that momentarily, after I rave a bit on Oddfellow’s coffee.

Ryan at the Brantford Farmer’s Market

Oddfellow’s Honduran Roast is semi-sweet and fruity, with a hint of toffee and citrus and easy on the stomach. He buys the beans directly from Finca La Fortuna farm in central Honduras.

Finca La Fortuna is run by Delmy Regalado, a 2nd generation farmer who inherited the land from her father. Originally it was a sugar plantation. Perched 5000 feet above sea level, this farm receives amazing tropical heat, sun and rain fortified by cool nights. Perfect conditions to produce some of the most sought after beans on planet earth. The beans must work harder at higher elevations to develop and ripen, lending to unique fruity and sharp sweet characteristics. The blend is made up of Pacas, a natural mutation in the Bourbon bean and Typica, one of the main varieties of Arabica coffee.

I love this coffee from Oddfellows, not only for its incredible flavour, but because, as mentioned, I have a soft spot for the country it comes from.

Coffee has been part of my morning ritual for my entire adult life, so it is safe to say that I’ve enjoyed thousands of cups of coffee over the years, yet there is one cup I had more than 3 decades ago that I still remember with vivid clarity.

I was in Honduras for a short visit, not as a tourist but to help an organization setup a computer system. The family I stayed with in La Ceiba knew a local farmer, and one afternoon they took me out into the countryside for a visit. The family was very hospitable, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon visiting under the shade of a palm tree. It was not long before they served coffee, with cream and sugar.

The coffee, of course, was excellent, but I soon learned that the most amazing thing about the coffee was that the family produced absolutely everything that went into it. They roasted the beans from coffee plants they grew on their own small farm. They also grew their own sugar cane and made the sugar that went into the coffee. And the cream came from their own cow.

Later, the farmer asked me if I would like a cup of water. I said yes, and he motioned to his young son and pointed to the palm tree we were sitting under. The young boy scampered up the tree, picked a coconut, and came back down with it. He gave it to his father, who used a machete to slice off the top and handed it to me. I drank from it, feeling like I was a supporting caste member in The Jungle Book movie.

That afternoon was three decades ago, a coffee experience I have never forgotten. Oddfellow’s Honduran roast transports me back to that afternoon every time a brew a fresh cup using the beans from Delmy’s farm, Finca La Fortuna.

Oddfellow Coffee Roasters has some of the best roast I’ve ever experienced. Their website is still under construction and Ryan tells me it will be ready shortly. When it is, I will add the link to my List of Best Coffee Blogs. In the meantime, you can reach him by email at oddfellowroaster@gmail.com.

Have a great day. Stay safe and stay sane.