Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Why I Walk The Camino de Santiago

On the eve of flying to Europe to walk my second Camino de Santiago, a five-hundred-fifty-mile trek across northern Spain, a friend asked why am I walking this a second time. And that is a difficult question. 

First of all, we are taking a different route. This time we follow the coast, rather than cut inland. Next, unlike so many religious pilgrims, I am not walking to find God. To find God you must look inward, not outward. I am not walking to attain Enlightenment or any other spiritual state of being. I am not walking to get or become anything. I’ve spent a lifetime becoming. I’m done with becoming. If anything, I would like to unbecome. 

I am walking the Camino to experience it—to see that area of Spain up close and personal, to mingle with the locals and the other pilgrims, to eat the food and drink the wine, to work through the blisters and the backaches, and to do all that while sharing the experience with Herman.

Will it make us stronger? I can’t say. That is not my goal, so it is unimportant. Will it bring us closer together? That is also not my goal, and therefore unimportant. My goal is simply to do it. To live it day by day, step by step, meal by meal. Herman and I will share this adventure, and hopefully we’ll be thankful each step along the path. 


While thinking about the why, I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages in literature:

The very posture of searching, the slow movement with head down, seems to draw people.
“What did you lose?” they ask.
“Nothing.”
“Then what do you search for?”
And that is an embarrassing question.
We search for something that will seem like truth to us; we search for understanding; we search for that principle that keys us deeply into the patterns of all life; we search for the relation of things 
one to another. . . .”
– John Steinbeck, Sea of Cortez

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Finished Editing One To Another

I’ve not posted anything in this log for a few weeks because I’ve been focused on finishing the edits and updates to One To Another, trying to complete the edit before we travel to Spain for our second Camino. Today, I’m proud to say, I finished editing. It’s a relief to know I’m going to walk the Camino without any unfinished business with that story.

Once I return from Spain, my focus will be to write a non-fiction account of my first, and possibly my second, Camino. I will want to go through One To Anotherone more time, with a focus on cutting out unneeded words. I assume it will take two months for the last edit, so I’ll be done with it in the fall. Then I will decide whether to send it to my publisher or not. We’ll see.

I was thinking I wouldn’t send it, but I believe the story is really good and well written. Perhaps it’s my last fiction. Perhaps not. 

Insight of the Day: It pays to focus on one thing at a time, and get it off your plate.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Surviving Immortality

Surviving Immortality. The story’s premise and its characters knocked about my head for three years before I ever put pen to paper. It started when I began studying what I believe are man’s most negative traits: lying, greed, and lust for violence. I wanted to explore these traits in story form, and I eventually got the idea of pitting these attributes against each other to see which is the most destructive.

The tale pits man’s greed against gun violence while wrapping the movement of the characters in a web of lies and half-truths hidden in chilling truths. By the time I finished I was surprised to find I had created an action thriller that pits innocence and integrity against unspeakable evil, all riding on the shoulders of a love story.

It’s the saga of a man who discovers the fountain of youth, a formula that will make old people decades younger and keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years. But he tells the world he will not divulge his formula until every gun, tank, battleship and bomb has been destroyed. When the world is free of all weapons, then everyone will live forever. And then he goes into hiding. Before he disappears, his gay stepson (the protagonist) accidently exposes himself to the treatment, becoming immortal. The stepfather takes his son into hiding with him. They become fugitives, carrying the most priceless gift in history.

But of course, not everything about the miracle formula or its inventor is what it seems. The innocent protagonist quickly becomes ensnared in a web of lies and half-truths, and he doesn’t know who to trust or which way to turn. 

In a world where humans must choose between security and immortality, which one will they collectively choose? The choice is not as simple as one would think. Which government will risk putting themselves at the mercy of all the other superpowers by abandoning their military might? Destroying nuclear war heads is one thing. Destroying all forms of defense is a whole different ballgame. And how many gun zealots would hand over their stash of AR-15s? And if not, would they organize and fight back in order to keep them? It’s a choice that could easily splinter our country and the entire world. 

On top of a planet torn apart by different factions, a chilling truth is uncovered… We are a species on the brink of an unprecedented environmental crisis. Climates are radically changing, forests are disappearing, lakes and rivers are being poisoned by pollution, our food is contaminated with lethal pesticides, and forty thousand species of plants and animals go extinct every year. That’s roughly one species every twelve minutes. And the worst case is the submarine disaster of oxygen-making plankton perishing in fouled seas. With current manufacturing and farming technologies, scientists agree this planet can comfortably support roughly four billion humans. We’ve now surpassed eight billion, and that number will skyrocket to twenty-one billion souls in the next twenty years. When that happens, famines will breed plagues to level the entire population. Wars over food and water will be the order of the day. Insects might survive, but not mammals, birds, fish, or amphibians. And certainly not humans. 

Our species is already racing toward annihilation due to over population. And to introduce immortality to eight billion souls at the current birth rate—with nobody dying to make room for new souls—would bring an end to civilization in the next few generations. Unless man changes his breeding habits, people living now could see the end of our civilization.

Surviving Immortality is a poignant commentary on human greed, mans’ lust for violence, and the effects our species is having on our environment. It’s a tale of a world gone crazy, driven to the brink of destruction by the promise of immortality, and of a gay man who realizes the courage, the will, and the compassion to combat the insanity, both within himself and outwardly. And as with all Alan Chin novels, there is a love interest. Along the protagonist’s journey, he finds more than he bargained for—a deep and abiding love that gives him strength during his darkest trials.

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is now available in paperback and all eBook formats, at

Dreamspinner Press Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Book Review: Willa Goodheart by Edward C. Patterson

Book Review: Willa Goodheart by Edward C. Patterson
Publisher: Dancaster Creative (March 1, 2019)
Pages: 335

Rating:★★★★★

Set in San Francisco in 1995, the story follows the joys and troubles of Willa Goodheart as she balances her new administrative assistant job with her family obligations of cooking and cleaning for her father and two brothers. But as events unfold, Willa is linked to a string of recent murders. She soon finds herself sucked into mysterious events that all seemed connected to the murder investigation. Grabbing the bull by the horns, Willa undertakes her own investigation, connecting the dots in an attempt to clear her name. But she soon finds more than she bargained for, like a few family skeletons lurking in the closets, and perhaps even a love interest. 

I know I can rely on a stimulating collection of characters whenever I open a book by Edward Patterson, and Willa Goodheartis no exception. Crooked businessmen, old Chinese fortune tellers, ritualistic cults, drag queens, crazy mothers, and crazier grandmothers fill the streets of San Francisco. And of course, Willa Goodheart herself is a fascinating character who is able to engage the reader throughout the story.

I’ve read several of Patterson’s books, but this is the first mystery I’ve read by him. He handles this genre with a deft touch, keeping the reader guessing until the last few pages. And even though it is a dark mystery, with characters being murdered left and right, the author brings his special brand of humor to every page, keeping the story light and entertaining. 

Lovely prose. Snappy dialogue. Enchanting characters. Fiendishly inventive. Edward Patterson has written an utterly delightful mystery. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Cusco, Peru

We’re now at 11,200 feet in Cusco. ....and we’re feeling it. Cusco is one of my favorite towns in South America. Wonderful restaurants, colorful markets, and lots of warm and friendly locals. It’s a great place to wander. This was my third time to this lovely place.
 La Catedral at Plaza de Armas. The first Catholic Church in South America.

 Plaza de Armas, Cusco.

 Jardin Sagrado and the old Palace, Cusco.

 The old palace at night. 


 Cusco local market.

Head cheese at the local market.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Sacred Valley, Peru

A return visit to the Sacred Valley. We explored some new sights but Ollantaytambo is still the hightlight. 
View of the Sacred Valley.

Market at Chinchero.

A Peruvian Street Vendor selling, guess what? Yes, Peruvian pan pipes.

Street in Urubambu.

Peruvian hairless dog.

A weaving demonstration.

View from the top of the Ollantaytambo Archaeological site.

Incan stonework at Ollantaytambo.


Ollantaytambo. The trek to the top isn’t too bad. It’s only about ten thousand feet elevation here.

Peru has over three thousand varieties of potatoes. This particular potato is said to test the skills of a prospective bride. If she can peel it successfully, she will make a great wife to some lucky man.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Machu Picchu, Peru

Not sure if the tightened entry regulations are doing anything to ease over tourism at the site. We were here three years ago and there seems to be twice as many people now. Still, we managed to get a handful of pictures with no other people view because we took them very late in the day.
An overcast day with rain threatening but it never came.
Incan stone work. 
Llamas at the top near the Inca trail.
View from the top.
Afternoon crowds at the site.  The new entry system has 600 people entering each hour with restricted routes.  
Afternoon at the site. We had two entries, with lunch outside between entries.
It’s usually less crowded in the afternoons.

View of the Sun Temple.
View towards the peak of Machu Picchu.

The main entrance to Machu Picchu. 
Built in the mid-1400s and inhabited for about a hundred years.


It really is an incredible place, but probably our last ever visit here.