Author:

Russell Blake

At long last, the eleventh book in the bestselling The Day After Never series is finished, edited, proofed, and is live on Amazon!

I don’t want to say too much about it and give anything away, but it was tough to write. So tough that about halfway through I tossed the draft I had, and started again from scratch. I’m so glad I did, though, because what came out the other end of the sausage machine was infinitely superior to my original idea.

So stop whatever you’re doing and head over to Amazon and pick up your copy today. No time like the present, and nobody’s getting any younger. Hope you enjoy it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GF7YYH3
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9 Aug 2021, by

Cheap and Easy

Somebody asked me about costs in Mexico, specifically in Colima, where I spend a lot of time these days.

I just ate breakfast. 3 eggs, scrambled with chorizo and cheese, beans on the side, with tortillas. A bottomless cup of locally grown coffee.

Cost was $4.25 USD. My friend had two giant quesadillas with chorizo inside, and coffee. Came to about the same.

Last night had a couple of beers at my favorite watering hole. $1 apiece. Pricier places may go as high as $2. Depends on the mood.

My electric bill for two months with AC running constantly in my office and all night in my bedroom: $100, or $50 a month. Gas runs about $15 a month for the water heater and dryer and stove. Water about the same.

Rent for 3BR, 3 bath houses in gated communities run from $500-$800, unfurnished. On the street, more like $400 and up.

My favorite soda is 50 cents per liter. Or about $1 for a two liter bottle. A taxi ride 3 miles across town is about $2. My cell phone with unlimited US and domestic calls, and 2 GB of data, is $10 a month. I’m on wireless everywhere I go as all restaurants have it, so I rarely exhaust that, at which point I re-up for $5 to last the rest of the month.

Homeowner’s dues on an 18 hole, 5 star golf course are about $175 a month. Gym and club membership, including two pools, two restaurants, a bar, pilates, spin, karate, aerobics classes is $125 a month, including all the golf you want to play per month (I don’t play, but still, WTAF). A visit to the hospital ER costs $25. About the same for a specialist in private practice, although you can go to a doctor next door to the plentiful pharmacies and pay $2-$5 for a general practitioner who will write a prescription for whatever ails you. And the meds will cost you next to nothing. A two tablet dose of Ivermectin costs $4. A month’s supply of blood pressure meds $10. And so on.

To say that life is inexpensive is an understatement.

Crime is non-existent in Colima, the capital city of Colima State. Which is confusing, because Colima State has a high murder rate due to cartel activity in the port city of Manzanillo, over an hour drive away, and Tecoman, which sits near the border of Michoacan and is a contested town for narco-trafficking (the cartels shoot each other’s street dealers in the bad areas on a daily basis, which is very much like Baltimore or South Chicago or Compton or Hunter’s Point or East Palo Alto or any other city’s drug dealing neighborhoods).

Colima City is 45 minutes from there, but key is that it is far inland, so off the narco-trafficking route up the Pacific coast, with really only one highway in and out, so no way for the bad guys to escape if they’re being bad. That, and in a city of 400K, everyone knows who the scumbags are, so it’s hard to be anonymous when committing crimes. Plus it isn’t a college town, so not a lot of young males between 17-22, which is the demographic that commits most petty crimes and drug offenses. Those folks go to Guadalajara, two hours away, for university and to get out of the small town as soon as they can, so there aren’t the unemployed youths that get up to no good in many cities.

Been here over a year, and loving every minute of it. Not because it’s a bargain, but because it’s a nice place to live. I’m in Guadalajara maybe 8 days a month, and in beach towns for relaxation about 5 – 7 each month, so I mix it up between the big cosmopolitan city and toes in the sand. With the money saved due to the cost of living I can easily afford a trip to PV or Barra Navidad or Nuevo Vallarta or Punta de Mita or Cabo every month without stretching the budget.

If that sounds amazingly idyllic, well, it is.

In other news, I managed to get banned from Facebook for three days by posting an opinion piece that conflicts with the official COVID narrative, including citations from official sources. It appears social media doesn’t want anyone questioning that narrative, and is working with the MSM and the world’s governments to quash any rational skepticism showing that the narrative is pure malarkey. You can find the post that got me banned, as well as several others you might be interested, at my new Russell Blake Uncensored site.

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I’m pleased to announce that I have created a new blog that will be devoted to non-authorly things that can get one censored on big tech platforms where only official narratives are allowed.

That blog is aptly titled Russell Blake Uncensored, and can be found here. You might wish to bookmark it or sign up to be notified whenever I post a new one. I’ll be covering all the topics I’m hesitant to address on my FB page for fear of anonymous “fact checkers” deciding to memory hole me for wrongthink, which is happening increasingly all over the world.

This page will continue to be dedicated to topics of interest to authors and readers of my action adventure fiction.

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5 Jun 2021, by

Ten Years In

Hard to believe that ten years ago I published my first novel on Amazon kindle. Since then sixty-something books have gone under the bridge, and I’m grateful that I’ve managed to develop an audience for my work, such as it is.

The self-publishing landscape has changed so radically in that ten years it’s almost unrecognizable. Back in 2011, you got free organic visibility from Amazon in a host of ways, so discovery was relatively easy via free first books in a series, or via bookbub, or by pricing low, or by including a novel in a bundle with other authors. It was the Wild West, and like all gold rushes, everyone involved knew it was destined to end.

And end it did. Nowadays, ebooks aren’t new, or news. The novelty of getting a tome for a few bucks isn’t a viable discovery tactic. Likewise, free doesn’t do much, as there are millions of ebooks out there, many of them free, or worse, perceived as free (value-less) via subscription services. The also-bought widget on Amazon is constantly being changed, and disappears periodically, so that discovery tool is iffy at best. Which leaves advertising, or more appropriately, pay-to-play, which is how most retail businesses operate once they are mature, which the ebook business is.

Most authors don’t have the money, or the time, to mount effective advertising campaigns that will earn them more than beer money, if that – partially due to a glut of the desperate who will gladly bleed cash just to get their labor of love seen. Which means in an auction system like Amazon’s, the price to advertise rises until it isn’t a money maker for most. Even a few years ago you could see double the money on ad spend, but over time that dropped to 50 cents of additional revenue for every dollar spent, and then 25, and then…well, you get the picture.

After ten years, I’ve slowed my production to a trickle, partially because during this time of pandemic-driven social upheaval I find it difficult to concentrate on writing the next one, as it seems trivial and meaningless compared to what is happening in the real world. Just keeping up with the daily flood of new information and revelations seems to be a full time job, and it’s hard to immerse myself in the page when the world seems to be headed for a train wreck of biblical proportions. So I’ve spent much of my time digesting info and writing social commentary on my FB feed, which I’m going to stop very soon in favor of a new blog where censorship won’t be as big an issue as the major tech platforms, where anything that diverges from the groupthink consensus of the official narrative is branded fake news and censored lest folks actually get multiple viewpoints to consider…and make the “wrong” decision.

As to writing, I’m working on the latest Day After Never, and when I’m done with it, I’m seriously thinking about taking six months or a year off to focus on other things. I have numerous projects vying for my attention, and it just seems that with the body of work I’ve created, there’s no shortage of Russell Blake material to read. I’m considering extending my “Retirement Secrets of Mexico” non-fiction into a series of Retirement Secrets books, to include other locales of interest to folks who are researching expatriating, but again, the time involved may not be worth the ultimate reward. I have restaurants, construction projects, an expat community I’m helping with, a crypto project I’m exploring…all of which take up time, leaving precious little for writing.

That said, I can’t imagine not writing, as it is an integral part of my life and personality. So it will be a hiatus, not an abandonment. And I may do a co-writing project with an author whose work I enjoy, so anything can happen, and my hiatus may turn out to be extremely short lived. We’ll see. One thing I’ve learned after a decade as a vocational scribbler is to never say never, and to expect the unexpected. I periodically am approached by production companies about developing one of my series, but have resigned myself to low expectations on that, as Hollywood tends to talk big but is easily distracted, and so far has yet to come to the table with anything worth serious consideration.

I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of good friends during this decade of publishing, and more than my share of enemies and critics, which goes with the territory anytime you experience success. I consider myself fortunate to have an eclectic bunch of fellow travelers I would have never known had I not sat down at the keyboard and begun my first story, and for that I’m eternally grateful. As to my enemies and critics, as always, they can bite me, and I plan to live to dance a jig on their forgettable cold dank graves.

So that is my state of the union at ten years in. I believe the next six months will be some of the strangest and most dangerous of my lifetime, and my plan is to concentrate on preparation and projects with huge payout potentials while I decompress from the grind of producing a novel every six weeks, which pace I maintained for nine years. My gut says I’ll be happier generating a couple novels a year that interest me rather than treating it like a job, which I have for too long. It is a job, and it’s one of the best in the world, but I’ve been asking myself for some time do I want to live to work, or work to live, and it seems sensible with time my most precious limited resource, to spend more attention on the living part, and less on the working part. I’m sure I’ll get pushback on that from some readers, but truthfully the old bear doesn’t know how many summers he has left to come out of the cave, and nobody ever lay on their death bed wishing they’d worked more (cliche, but true).

I’ll post more info on my new blog, tentatively titled “The New Mexican,” shortly. It will be a hodgepodge of my usual politically incorrect views, of expat thoughts and tips (after living in Mexico 16 years), of societal commentary, of economic topics I find interesting, of crypto musings, of pandemic reporting as events unfold, etc. In other words like my FB feed used to be, before every third post received a warning label or a threat to block. Watch this space for more on that, but probably not until I finish Day After Never 11.

So in summary, it’s been a hell of a decade run, and I plan to continue as before, but at a more sane pace, with an emphasis on enjoyment, not on production. Because all work and no play…

Well. You know.

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A new interview with yours truly just went live. For those wondering about my murky past, or whose shirts I wear, or whether I put the toilet paper on the older inny or outy, this one’s for you.

In it I share my collected wisdom from decades on the planet.

Which means it’s a short interview most should be able to manage in a couple minutes.

Here’s the link.

Enjoy.

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The sixteenth installment (eighteenth if you count the two prequels, which you should) in the bestselling JET series is now live, and it is a doozy (the technical term in literary circles).

As with all JET books, danger lurks around every turn and nothing is as it seems. In this chapter, she and her family are betrayed and must risk everything in order to flee to safety from adversaries who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Those who enjoy Jet’s no holds barred approach to conflict resolution should find it satisfying, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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Right on schedule for the American election, comes a tome packed with essentials on how to expatriat to Mexico, and what destinations I find the most appealing.

It turned out quite a bit larger than I had originally envisioned, but I wanted to flesh out many of the sections so they would anticipate likely follow-on questions arising from the information presented.

Whether you have toyed with the idea of retiring in paradise, but never felt you had sufficient info to make an informed choice, or are just curious about what life south of the border could be like, this books was written with you in mind. In it I present eight of the locales I consider ideal, for different reasons, although all have in common safety, affordability, weather, infrastructure, health care, and general quality of life.

I hope you find it as interesting as I found writing it to be.

Available at all booksellers, and in paperback within 48 hours or so.

Here’s the Amazon link.

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My magnum opus, Retirement Secrets of Mexico, will be going live October 30th, and I’ve uploaded it for preorder on Amazon and will be listing it for sale on all other platforms as of that date.

The book offers eight virtually unknown Mexican dream destinations where one can live in safety and comfort on every sort of budget – from a nominal $1400 a month for a couple, to triple or more (the objective of the book is not to list the cheapest places in Mexico, but rather the best combo of value, safety, infrastructure, lifestyle, healthcare, weather, etc.).

It also does a deep dive into every aspect of Mexican life and all one would need to know in order to evaluate whether it’s for you. Chapters cover banking, health care, crime, renting and owning, building, starting and operating a business, immigration and visas, taxes, expat groups, culture, language, infrastructure, automobile ownership, and so on.

My goal was to create a guide that answered every question I’ve heard over my 16 years of living here, and to offer my thoughts on the best ways of dealing with challenges one will encounter. It originally started off as a non-fiction 30K word tome, but wound up at double that. Go figure.

Anyhow, if you want to order it in advance, you can do so at this link on Amazon. Paperback will be forthcoming maybe a week or two after the Oct 30 drop date.

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14 Aug 2020, by

My Other Jobs

I’ve been asked to talk a bit about my other jobs, aside from being a working novelist.

I have several businesses in Mexico, and a publishing company in the EU.

The publishing company is self-explanatory – it publishes my novels in the US, Canada, and the EU (other than countries where I’ve sold the translation rights, like Germany and Bulgaria and the Czech Republic). The Mexican businesses are not as obvious: I have a custom home design and construction firm in Cabo San Lucas, and am the owner of a chain of restaurants in Guadalajara.

The design and build business is called BuildCabo.com – it specializes in larger custom homes in higher-end communities in Baja, Mexico. It has built dozens of these sorts of houses over the last 14 years, many of which are on the beach or in luxury areas like on the golf course in Puerto Los Cabos (a marquis development in San Jose del Cabo), as well as in Zapopan, Guadalajara. If you’re curious about the work, you can go to the website and select “projects,” which will bring up a selection of the various styles I’ve designed and built.

I’m also considered an expert on Mexican building, and wrote a construction column for the Gringo Gazette in Cabo for years, and published a how-to book titled “This ‘Ol Casa – Building in Baja 101,” under the name C. Phillip Osso. It covers a multitude of do’s and don’ts involved in the construction process in Mexico, where there are virtually no codes, no building inspectors, and no licenses or certification to speak of for builders.

The restaurants are named Peku (the sound a chicken makes in Mexico, sort of like a “cluck” but with Latin flavah), and are a California chicken concept much like Chic-Fil-A. We have three locations at present, and after the virus is over, plan to expand to 8-10 in Guadalajara, and franchise over the rest of Mexico. The Facebook page can be found here. The places throw insane levels of profit due to having fine-tuned food costs and processes, and see well above the 33% net that is the standard for restaurants of their type, making them attractive for franchisees (they were barely break-even when I bought them). Best of all, they cost less than $100K USD to build out and equip a location, so I have no doubt they will be in hot demand once we open them up for franchising (we already have a waiting list for several areas!).

The other projects I’ve been working on are an Argentine Gelato franchise for Mexico (for which I’m currently headhunting gelato chefs in Buenos Aires), and I’m also helping with the home design, construction standards, and overall look and feel for a subdivision in a five star, 18 hole golf course community. I’m very excited about both these projects, although I’ve been sworn to secrecy until they’re ready for launch, so that’s all I can say about them for now.

That’s what I do when I’m not writing. So those who are annoyed that it’s taking 3-4 months for a novel instead of 6 weeks, just understand that none of this happens by itself, and time management only allows so many hours in a day for any of my responsibilities.

I also have been known to drink too much tequila and hang out with women of questionable character, but that’s par for the course given my primary vocation.

And don’t even get me started on the ugly rumors that periodically surface about me. I mean, seriously. You throw one dead hooker off a bridge, and suddenly you’re pigeonholed.

Not fair, people, not fair.

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It’s been exceedingly difficult to get into writing, with the virus calamity and the projects I’ve been working on, but I’m chipping away at a new JET, and making slow, if steady progress. You would think things would have slowed while in quarantine, but nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the projects is a new “Retirement Secrets of Mexico” book wherein I reveal what I believe are the best buys South of the border. Taking into account housing prices, crime, cost of living, taxes, banking, health care, lifestyle, infrastructure, visas, weather, amenities, proximity to cool stuff like beaches or other wonders, etc. I’ve already finished a companion book that came in at 180 pages, titled “Escape to Baja,” that highlights the charms of Baja, Mexico, but the more complete tome will take a while. I think it will be of value as folks age, tire of being taxed to death, and want to live out their lives in locales that are affordable, safe, and generally chill. I’ve got properties in three of the five areas I plan to highlight, so I put my money where my mouth is.

Obviously I consider these the best places I’ve found because I could live anywhere but chose them and remain in them, although there are other locations in Eastern Europe and the Far and Near East that also are strong contenders, as well as a few in South America. Perhaps those will the the topic of a third book. Remains to be seen. But for now, my focus is Mexico, where I’ve lived for 16 years, have started or bought into six businesses, and where I’ve had the time of my life. So whether it’s toes in the sand beach living, European style cosmopolitan vibe, golf resort lifestyle, expat haven immersion, or a combo of all these, I’ll have something for everyone, although for my money there are a couple of clear winners, with one that 99% of Mexicans, and 99.999% of Gringos have never even heard of, being a top standout.

Another of the projects taking up my bandwidth is a chain of Argentine style gelato stores in Mexico, where there is a massive Argentine expat population, thousands of Argentine restaurants, and no Argentine gelato outlets. I plan to change that. But there are a lot of moving parts – sourcing a master chef, buying the equipment for a manufacturing hub, writing an operations bible, etc. I’m in the headhunting stage, but have a business plan that’s both aggressive and unique, and I have high hopes.

So not enough hours in the day between all this, and writing, and designing and building homes.

I should probably feel blessed at the embarrassment of riches life has dealt me.

But sometimes I just feel like a 30 hour day would be more practical than one with 24 hours. Oh well. Be careful what you wish for!

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