martes, 31 de enero de 2017

Mystical Ryoanji Temple


Keeping up with the tourist attractions I enjoyed in Japan that helped inspire An Ominous Book series, I am going to introduce you to a very awesome zen temple in Kyoto. A lot of people don't find Ryoanji as interesting as other temples in Kyoto. I guess considering the sheer amount of tmples that city has, there is indeed stiff competition.




It doesn't help that Ryoanji just happens to be located a few blocks away from the epicly awesome Kinkakuji. I guess a modestly decorated temple that has a rock garden isn't as photogenic as a temple covered by gold.




By making a turn to a side street from Kinkakuji and crossing some outdoor garden decoration shops you will see a rather devoid parking lot with just a small ticket booth to go inside. If you didn't know this was Ryoanji you would have possibly passed it by without even realizing it.


Once you go inside, you are greeted by several nice but modest gardens with perfectly pruned pine trees and a few cute bamboo fountains. The actual Ryoanji temple looks more like a rather pleasant middle sized house with the ever familiar wooden sliding doors and tatami mats.




And then BAM! You indavertedly bump into the famous rock garden that has puzzled zen priests for centuries. Apparently no matter where you look from the viewing deck, you are supposed to be unable to see all 15 rocks at the same time. I believe I managed to count 13 on one side.



I have been to Ryoanji on two occasions and it was always filled to the brim with locals. I will presume Kyoto does get a bit overloaded with tourists during the autumn koyo season. When you get tired of being surrounded by lots of people, there is a miniature version of the garden to stare at real close, really spiffy.


Maybe Ryoanji isn't as enticing as Kinkakuji or Kiyomizu-dera, but the entrance fee is cheap, it's just a few minutes away from Kinkakuji, and worth a quick look. I'm certain the garden would be awesome to enjoy if you had it all to yourself. If you want to do just that, either don't go during koyo when tourists are at maximum capacity in Kyoto or go reeeeally early.


sábado, 28 de enero de 2017

Awesome book giveaway promos

Hello everyone!

Today An Ominous Book is participating in its very first massive author giveaway via Instafreebie. The theme in this particular giveaway is diverse protagonists meaning a main character in all of the books are either an ethnic minority, disabled or LBGT.

It is revealed very early in the first chapter of An Ominous Book that Spaulding despite his physical appearance is a mixed race elf from a long deceased human ancestor. While he retains the full physical appearance of an elf, his left eye has slight heterochromia which easily brands him as a mortal among his people which is something he has always hated about himself.

He knows fully well he is different from the immortals of his nation because his father Noeru was already elderly when he was born and perished while he was growing up.

I personally liked the idea of writing an elf fantasy based on the perspective of a hybrid that not only has to put up with the discreet tints of racism because of his mixed heritage, he also knows from personal experience that his youth is limited which drives a lot of the plot of the story.

In later volumes of my series, we get to see what happens when pureblood elves have children with demonic humanoid beasts known as harlequins. It is hinted in the 4th novel Diaspora that harlequin elves are treated like outcasts by a lot of humans because of their strange physical appearance.





My book is currently running in two other really great clean YA and fantasy promo giveaways. Why not take a look? There are a lot of really great books running right now!


 Fantasy promo







viernes, 27 de enero de 2017

An Ominous Book #1 Free Friday and Saturday



Today is Friday and with that a lot of people are giving away copies of their ebooks to attract much needed new readers. The relations between the US and Mexico are really bad lately and due to the strength of the US dollar, I am earning much less money than when I graduated from med school several years ago.

If I could get an increased viewership of my books with positive word-of-mouth, I could earn a much-needed supplemental income that will help me as an upcoming resident. (Medical books don't come cheap)

So enough of the boring stuff, click on the link below and take a look at how Lord Spaulding must meddle with the uncomfortable truth that he has surviving distant human blood relatives and all of the trouble he stumbles upon to bring them back to their country before King Salman and the fearsome Äimite guard finds out!






Yes, I have the books on paperback as well although there is no promo for them. They indeed look great BTW. The links for the paperbacks are in the right side menu of my blog.

jueves, 26 de enero de 2017

An Ominous Book #6 Quandary has a cat lover

Did you know that Lord Ivero, the blind cousin of Lord Adinjandanir loves cats? He's the first and so far only character in An Ominous Book Series that owns a cat. Of course, Ivero is a bit of a strange person and he gave his cat a ridiculous name: Mister Misifus!

He utterly confused the poor Äimite guard that had the misfortune of keeping a watch over him after he fainted in Lord Spaulding's palace who didn't understand what a Misifus was.

Later in the novel when Ivero and Kintero are arrested to be used as hostages by Spaulding in order to entice the Grey Clan in locating Tioja, we get to enjoy two scenes where Misifus appears in the spotlight. We know that Misifus is a cinnamon colored shorthair that loves to be cuddled and treated like a king!

I'm certain Ivero's cat would look just as adorable as the kitty in the photo below.


Has the cute kitten enticed your curiosity to read Lord Ivero's adventures? Quandary is available via Kindle Unlimited!




An underrated elf adventure

I'd like to write this brief post to put some much deserved publicity for an underrated elf fantasy series from an author named Charles Stuart. I was casually roaming on twitter when I bumped into an ad for his book series titled "Running with the Elves" and became immensely curious to read it.

I really enjoyed his book even though it's vastly different from my own. In Running with the Elves, his elf society is in cultural decay and the few remaining are for the most part youthful peasants that have little knowledge of their culture and heritage. It's a stark contrast to An Ominous Book where The Elf Kingdom is probably the wealthiest and most prosperous nation in the world that has to maintain tight immigration controls.

The two protagonists of Running with the Elves are Justin, a 17 year old human peasant and his best friend Finn, a young adult Elf in his 50's that occasionally visits Justin's village to barter mushrooms for other basic items. Finn trusts Justin well enough to invite him to a hidden cave in the forest where young Elves have secret parties. Justin ends up meeting the mysterious and beautiful Rannelia and instantly become infatuated. Finn however isn't pleased and warns him not to set his hopes too high because Rannelia is likely to break his heart.

Meanwhile Finn's father, the ever wise Eos who is a council member of his home village of Rille has the premonition that in a few weeks, a space ship with a mysterious alien race will return to bring any willing Elf and other magical races to an unknown place to save their species. All of the Elves have noticed the sun is changing and they are starting to lose their immortality.

While the Elves in the village have to choose between leaving their home behind to an uncertain rate or remain in Earth and become mortal, someone has been secretly murdering dark haired male elves. Finn, Justin, Rannelia, Eos and two other allied Elves Wen and Ryl must locate the culprit before the entire village is killed before the Star People arrive.

The first two books will be free for a few days, I'd highly suggest you take a look at them, write a much needed review and hopefully convince Stuart to write a third volume sometime because I'm vastly curious to read it myself. ;)


The book is currently in the top 1500 free at Amazon.com, let's try to push it higher!




Stuart loves UFO's and wrote a Non Fiction UFO book that is also currently free for a few days.

miércoles, 25 de enero de 2017

Merida the white city

I went to the capital of Yucatán in the mexican peninsula almost 2 years ago for a medical convention. Lest to say, even though it was merely February the city was dreadfully hot. It makes Cancún seem like a temperate forest. I can only imagine how miserable the city becomes in August.

Lest to say, I wasn't impressed with the airport. Hard to imagine Merida's airport is international because it's so tiny and unimpressive. There aren't a lot of places to eat and to make matters even worse, insufficient places to sit down.

Travel to the city is pretty straightforward, the airport is close to the city in the south side. I've heard there are inexpensive city buses but I arrived almost at midnight and had to settle for a ridiculously priced shuttle. Normally they'd split the cost between 8 people, but everyone on my flight either left on taxis or they had private hotel cabs awaiting them.


Merida has more than it's share of small churches. I was in a rush to visit Izamal and didn't spend any time entering the lesser churches. I don't really understand why such a small city has 3 different bus terminals but it is confusing. Mérida has a lot of tourist help booths and I thinbk they should give tourist a pamplet with the different bus comapnies/routes of each terminal. I wasted a lot of time walking to the right terminal.

I ended up riding a Mayab which is pretty much a chicken bus. I guess Izamal is so off the beaten track despite it's "Pueblo Mágico" status that ADO doesn't go there. However, after an uneventful 45 minute trip I reached Izamal all right and was greeted by a pleasant sleepy town with buildings that are decorated with the Vatican heraldic colors: gold & white.

Izamal was visited by Pope John Paul II in the 1990's and the locals began to paint everything gold & white to conmemorate the village. It surely gives the village a nice vibe.



Hard to believe such a picturesque little town isn't on the itinerary of most tourists. I think Izamal is far prettier than Valladolid.


Izamal's insignia church in itself is this fantasyland of amazing architecture with a heavy inspiration on Vatican symbols. I simply loved snapping pictures of the church.



If any tourist that stops by didn't know this tidbit already, there is a really nice John Paul II statue right outside of the church.


Izamal's main church is rather large and it's divided into two separate parts. The Virgin of Izamal has a smaller and more private room. This photo s of the main church on the inside.


Wandering the many halls of this large and empty church are colorful facades that are being invaded by the relentless humid weather.


I don't include photos of the small staircase that reaches the private room, but after paying a very modest 10 mxn fee to a church volunteer you have access to a spiffy museum that includes a lot of interesting things. There were a handful of tourists wandering in the lower parts of the church, but nobody wanted to pay the 10 pesos and I had erverything all to myself.


If you are wondering, Pope John Paul II sat on that chair during his visit in 1990. It's really amazing to be able to stand right in front of a piece of history and had everything all to myself. Hard to believe Izamal doesn't get tourists if the place is so awesome.



This is the private upper room where the Virgin of Izamal is located. If you visit the main church you will notice Izamal's figure is right on the top of the photo. The church staff can turn her face around to face the main room or the private red room in the back. I believe the day I visited she was facing the main room. The private room has a stack of papers with letters from visitors. I myself wrote something and she did respond. ;)



Izamal church is an entire maze although I personally liked this oddly shaped staircase going back to one of the plazas. I wasn't however all that pleased that tourist carriage horses were just standing in the 80 F heat without some shade or water.


Izamal isn't just famous for it's church and odd spanish Vatican inspired architecture, it used to have a strong Post Classical era Maya presence and has a total of 9 pyramids scattered all over town, many of them in ode to a different animal. Kinich Kachi-koo is the largest pyramid in the town. Maybe it isn't nearly as impressive as Chichen-Itzá, but you can climb the pyramid to the top and pretty much have it all to yourself. It's a shame by the time I climbed to the top the sun was at it's most merciless. The view from the top is okay, Izamal isn't a large town.


The next day I went to downtown Mérida and took some photos. Mérida's main church is really impressive. It's very hard to take a clear shot of the entire building up close because it's so large. 


The inside of Mérida's main church is quite nice with elegant pillars and a ciircular conical structure on top.



Being the oldest Catholic church as such in the entire continent (near Holbox is an even older catholic parish in ruins) means a lot of people have died during it's more than 500 year history. At some point in time they started burying people right beneath the building. Stepping on tombstones everywhere is a sort of disturbing experience. Reminded me of the 3rd Indiana Jones film.




Right next to the main church is a very ancient house that was owned by the Montejo Family. A mexican bank purchased the house at some point of time but they turned it into a museum with free entry. Luckily I showed up when there weren't a horde of tourists on Mérida's official bus tour and had the house almost to myself.




That particular room with pink walls and angel statues gave me the creeps. I think I had a nightmare with that room at one point of time.



The Casa Montejo also has a very pleasant garden but tourists aren't allowed to walk on it.


While there are some thing that I disliked about Mérida overall it's a nice city. It's such a shame I was there for less than 2 days and didn't get to see much. I have been stalling going back in part because plane tickets are so pricey but I might go see it someday. I'm starting to miss their bacon stews.

Sign up for the official mailing list of An Ominous Book

I'm a newbie author and I am not afraid or ashamed to admit it. There aren't a lot of people in Mexico that go the whole 9 yards to write not 1 but 6 100,000 word fiction novels and much less people with busy day jobs.

Because I am going to start a medical residency where I'll be expected to work 36 hour shifts and nearing 100 workweeks I won't have the time to be spamming subscribers. But if you choose to join, you will get exclusive background information such as character profiles, artwork whenever I have the time to draw and tidbits of unfinished novels such as the 7th book that I'm still missing around 30% of the text.

I might even consider giving out special prizes if I can afford the postage stamps. ;)


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domingo, 15 de enero de 2017

The end of an era: Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus and is Black Jaguar White Tiger the sollution?

The end of the world's biggest animal circus it feels like the end of an era that I still got to live (that makes me feel old). I was probably around 15 years old when I saw this particular circus live in Mexico City. It was a spectacular and very well produced show. Perhaps the clown jokes were a tad bit too old fashioned for my taste but the colors, acrobatics and wild animals were still quite a sight.

I knew fully well that these animals are rather cruelly treated for the initial training, but at least this specific circus didn't purposely mutilate their animals like sawing off their jaws and declawing such as the seedier mom & pop mexican circuses. An argument many people that directly work with these animals is that while they agree the animals usually live in closed enclosures while they are traveling, the animals are always given something to keep their minds alert and entertained. Compare that with zoo animals that live in closed enclosures without any sort of stimulation. The animals looked well-fed and I didn't see abuse.

I can agree that changing human tastes and an increasingly vocal animal rights movement is rightfully pushing circuses away from using large wild animals. On the other hand, think this circus could have continued to exist by using better alternatives such as trained dogs which are easier and cheaper to carry around without the need to promote illegal breeding or poaching mothers in their natural habitat to steal the babies. They could even use shelter dogs that are clearly mutts to appease people that are also against breeding purebloods just for the sake of it when mutts can perform tricks equally well and would otherwise be euthanized.

I really do think the circus could have changed to dogs and still garner a great show without charging hefty fees for tickets. If operational costs were an issue, just have a fixed show in Las Vegas and do a few tours to major foreign capitals. Maybe offer deals with hotels & airlines to bring the tourists to Vegas. It would probably be far cheaper than getting sanitary permits to bring dozens of large animals across borders. I remember the grandiosity of this show very well, the tickets were definitely not cheap, this is the kind of show that you aim at middle class and rich audiences. The kind of family that has 3000 MXN to spend on a show like this most likely has valid tourist visas to visit the US if you know how to market the convenient weekend Vegas family vacation getaway.

While I am indeed glad that these animals will be given a dignifying retirement, it saddens me that hundreds of hardworking people including acrobats, clowns and technicians will be out of a job.

What about the mom & pop circuses?

I sometimes did summer camp in Parque Naucalli growing up and in the mid 1990's a smaller circus would always camp in the premises with big animals. Unlike the Ringling & Barnum circus, these shows didn't have the Hollyood type budget for the fancy lights & pricey costumes. While I did feel uncomfortable seeing the big cats in boring cages while I walked around the camp as a kid, the animals never looked abused and the staff treated them well. The animals never suffered from heat stroke or other ailments.

I will however fully condemn the horrifying treatment of the circuses to their animals that visited the Riviera Maya. It's freaking 90 F outside in Playa del Carmen in July with 100% humidity and these shoddy circuses would keep their big animals in tiny enclosures roasting away without tossing cold water on them. I still spotted these circuses of dubious repute in 2015 right when the new mexican law banning usage of big animals in circuses was passed. This last time I was in town for a brief visit last August I didn't see them camping in the usual empty lot.

There are many very small low budget circuses that visit rural villages in Mexico. They didn't show up this year in the village in the boonies I currently live. These circuses are the only source of entertainment in villages that have crappy cellphone service, hideous pseudo high speed internet and "sometimes" 1 functional tv station for the vast majority that don't pay for satellite tv. The cost of attendance is barely 1 USD. I never went inside to see the shows, but you can hear them blasting the sound all over the village. I was initially worried such a low budget show would use animals but the cheap costs of attendance and small crowds quieted my worries by merely sticking to comedy skits from clowns. They don't even get jugglers for these shows. I guess you get what you pay for and in these villages the cellphone service is so bad that kids in these rural places just don't have any other form of entertainment.

In a way I feel like it's an end to an era. While I am again glad for the wild animals, I do sincerely fear for the trainers that are now without a job and without other marketable skills. Many people have affirmed the death of the circus wasn't even mainly because of the animals' plight to begin with, it's that kids these days are too busy rambling nonsense on instagram (Jayden Smith anyone?) and watching political rant videos on youtube. I guess it's just the change of the times and I lived through the switch.

---

What will happen to the animals?

Good question. The holier-than-thou animal lovers cheered for the animals and didn't care that many mexican circus animals ended up euthanized the next day because facilities were at full capacity already. Good job!

I was reading on the internet about a big cat shelter in Mexico City known as Black Jaguar White Tiger (never heard of it before even though I grew up in this town). They get the high five praises by articles such as this one below:

http://eleconomista.com.mx/entretenimiento/2016/10/23/black-jaguar-white-tiger-lider-manada

The article seems to bombast the project as the godsend of the angels claiming without any form of veritable proof that the animals are well taken care of and have their vet visits. It just claims with starry gullible eyes that the owner of the sanctuary has all of his permits from the SEMARNAT.

Now, I am a mexican and I'm perhaps just very cynical because I've seen the circus acts of professional con artists a tad bit too many times. After the fiasco and massive animal genocide of the Tajamar project in Cancun that was made possible with shoddy permits (and a very, very big bribe.. errr... contribution to the Quintana Roo SEMARNAT), I have little trust in them. If you haven't heard because there isn't any A-List Hollywood actor that went to protest, Malecón Tajamar is an alley in the marshland in the hotel district of Cancun that was prime real estate. Shoddy developers that couldn't care bull squirt about real-life threats such as hurricanes or methane gas explosions that kill people for stupidly building hotels on top of swamps had been greasing their hands with very important members of mexican political royalty over 10 years to bribe them enough and obtain the permits.

The catch?

The SEMARNAT only gave them the permit *IF* they transplanted the wild animals, many of them endangered species to another part of the swamp. The jerks chose to ignore the protests of the locals and with the protection of local Cancun cops, they destroyed with bulldozers 1 hectarea of marshland... and then buried the animals alive. Now, I know that crocodiles are not cute & cuddly tiger pups, but being buried alive is a really crappy way to die. Just look at these articles below makes me cringe.

http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2015/11/151126_mexico_cancun_113_menores_tajamar_justicia_jp
http://ecoosfera.com/2016/01/activistas-llevan-animales-muertos-al-ayuntamiento-y-juez-suspende-la-destruccion-del-manglar-tajamar/

Yes, the first link is not a joke, it's pretty damn real. Before they destroyed that valuable piece of marshland and murdered the poor wild animals, a group of public school children in Cancun wrote a petition to stop the permits from going through. A blood sucking lawyer wanted to sue the kids millions of pesos in slandering fees. It's like some sort of hollywierd dystopian fantasy flick because it's too ridiculous to be true.

But don't worry, the squeaky clean mexican government did a recent raid a few days ago and claim there are no dead animals. Maybe they should dig deeper and see the croc skeletons.

http://informativoturquesa.com/profepa-no-encuentra-animales-muertos-en-malecon-tajamar/

So there you go, this and an infinite other cases of shoddy laws with no regard for the welfare of Mexico is a common ocurrence down here. Returning to the Black Jaguar White Tiger sanctuary, I don't see a lot of unbiased articles of ordinary joes actually visiting the place. The owner only allows hot shot celebrities to pose photos with the cuddly pups. This angers me.

If you have ever been to Playa del Carmen and visited Quinta Avenida like I have several hundreds of times, sooner or later you will spot some dude that has a chained jaguar pup or an endangered monkey that offers you to take that perfect photograph for a fee. Gullible tourists with good intentions still fall for this trap without knowing that these animals are obtained *barely* but *still* legally. Locals complain the animals are locked up in tiny carrying cases without anywhere no move and suffer from thirst in 90 F heat for hours & hours but the government still allows them to operate. Many better minded tourists that know this is cruel have complained... only to fall to deaf ears because there is a law in Mexico when non mexicans are barred from protesting or else risk being kicked out of the country.

Maybe this sanctuary is good, but given I'm just a sheer mortal nobody, I have never been granted the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory gold ticket to go inside. What I do know is that the owner doesn't neuter & spay his cats. He doesn't have an unlimited amount of space in his ranch and just allows the animals to breed out of control. I don't see a lot of articles complaining about that.

http://www.jetsettingonadime.com/tag/eduardo-serio/

While I'm certain someone like the author of this article had good intentions, does he realize white tigers are a genetic anomaly that come from inbreeding brothers & sister tigers? To think this sanctuary is accepting white pups to be breeding out of control just seems sort of wrong. And then he allows these animals to get too close to a human.

What if these animals rip someone's face off? Mexico doesn't have a lot of plastic surgeons and the few that do exist here have never performed a face transplant before. I can just smell a lawsuit coming.

viernes, 13 de enero de 2017

Looking for reviews of An Ominous Book

I just got a really awesome package in the mail today: a proof copy of the physical versions of Books 3 and 4 of An Ominous Book. I am really impressed at the speed that Amazon sent them, they claimed they wouldn't be arriving for another 2 weeks and I merely purchased them around 10 days ago. Awesome! The physical books haven't appeared on Amazon yet, but I'm certain it will happen soon. They look awesome.





I'm fixing the final touches of the physical versions of books 1 and 5. I have been awfully busy at my job and I got ill not from one ailment, but a total of 3 ailments this past week. I'm used to having problems with my asthma but the other two really lowered my energies to proofread the 5th book sooner. I still haven't even begun the final proofread of book 2 yet. Damn illnesses that show up from nowhere.

Why didn't I start with book 1 like normal humans would?

Simple, because I sent cash to get an ISBN for book 1, but it's been 6 weeks and I haven't gotten any news from the mail if my request was approved or not. Screw it, let's just get the book out there before I start my resideny in a few weeks!

While I get my 1st book approved which should be during this weekend, why don't you take a look at An Ominous Book and write a review? Readers don't know this, but reviews are super important for authors, even if the review is really awful it entices shoppers some curiosity to at least give the book a chance.





I'll probably make a gazillion times more cash when I finish my Anesthesiology residency, but I love to write and hope more people enjoy An Ominous Book.

The best part???

I'm offering the first two chapters of the first book of the series on instafreebie FOR FREE. No virus, no catches, just give the book a chance and be super awesome and write a review on amazon or the book's official listing in goodreads.com.

Check out the link for your copy of the book on: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/mLBnt

Be sure to share with your friends!!!