View from Flores, El Petén

Writer’s Guilt – My Greatest Nemesis!

I am plagued by a constant case of writer’s guilt. Never heard of writer’s guilt? Well, read on…

View from Flores, El Petén

View from Flores, El Petén. Peaceful right? Well, less than 24 hours later our van crashed into a police car…next to a military outpost. Next thing I knew, soldiers were swarming us and I was being directed into an ambulance. Ahh, Flores…

This is Day 5 of my humble little “open novel” experiment for Ice Storm, aka my “Development Hell” book. Yesterday, I edited the 18,000th word of the second draft. Just 72,000 words to go. Good lord, that seems like a lot. Especially since yesterday was a pretty tough day. I’m officially through the easy stuff. From here on out, it’s going to be a battle. I hope to edit another 3,000 words tomorrow. Then I’ll be taking a few days off.

Writer’s Guilt – My Greatest Nemesis!

And that brings me back to my first point. I’ve been writing fiction for a number of years now. But for a variety of reasons, I don’t have much to show for it. I’ve written countless scenes. And I’ve learned a lot about writing and myself. Still, I’ve only published one book (shameless plug: it’s called Chaos!). Because of this, I have trouble taking time away from writing. When I do, I get writer’s guilt. It’s this gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that I haven’t actually earned a break. It’s brutal, similar to the guilt I used to feel when I didn’t do my homework on time. Actually, scratch that. I never did my homework on time. Heck, I didn’t pay attention in a single class until I got to Business School (Umm…hi mom and dad…). But that’s another story for another time.

The worst thing about writer’s guilt is that it’s ultimately self-defeating. Doing things, going places, living life…these things enhance fiction not detract from it. Plus, breaks can be enormously helpful when it comes to recharging mental batteries. But my brain doesn’t really care about such things. So, I get writer’s guilt before vacations. I get it before holidays. I get it before day trips. I even get it when I’m not actually missing any of my writing time. Weird huh? Oh yeah, I often get it well in advance of the actual break. And the guilt continues well after I’ve already taken the break. Strangely enough, I usually do fine during the break itself (note to self: take longer breaks).

So, with a break coming up, you might think I’m feeling a severe case of writer’s guilt. But so far it hasn’t happened. Famous last words right? But truthfully, that’s a big deal for me. I’d like to think it’s because I’ve got a plan in place to finish Ice Storm. But maybe my brain is just tired of harassing itself. Regardless, I’m pleased.

Other Stuff

I feel like a broken record here. But the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. And the Chaos paperback is still on-sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Get it while it’s cheap!

Capturing a little lightning...

Development Hell to Development Heaven!

Wow, it was quite the storm here the other night. Torrential rain. Loud, ripping thunder. Blinding flashes of sheet lightning. Truly awe-inspiring stuff. As a result, I’m feeling a bit more contemplative than usual today. By the way, I didn’t have my camera handy during the storm. The accompanying picture is actually from another storm (way back in 2011).

Capturing a little lightning...

Capturing a little lightning…

This is Day 4 of my humble little “open novel” experiment. Let’s start with a quick update on my “Development Hell” novel, Ice Storm. Yesterday, I edited my 15,000th word of the second draft. I’m guessing I’ve got 75,000 words to go. The next 15,000 words should be a little tougher. Then things get really tough. Then a little easier. Then tough again.

From Development Hell to Development Heaven!

I’ve talked about Ice Storm’s development hell over the last few days. But to sum up, I wrote seven unfinished drafts over the course of four to five months. Finally, I got tired of spinning my wheels and combined the drafts, forming a story out of the various pieces. The result was less than good. However, the story had lots of potential. Last week, I spent three nights trying to pinpoint what was holding it back. I came up with two major problems and two minor ones.

  1. Scenic Confusion: The scenes felt strangely out of order. Sort of like I’d tossed them into a blender and let them splatter out over the pages.
  2. Passive Hero: Cy Reed was not driving the action. Instead, things sort of happened to him and he reacted accordingly. When he makes a fantastic discovery near the end of the novel, it felt unearned.
  3. Side Story Issues: Chaos was light on secondary characters. Ice Storm is far more ambitious. Several of the secondary characters have their own stories that unfold over the course of the novel. For the most part, I liked these side stories but felt I didn’t wrap them up well.
  4. Cartoonish Events: Cy Reed’s universe is supposed to be a little over-the-top. His world is filled with lost treasures, deadly monsters, and strange science. But it’s all grounded in reality. The mysterious artifact at the heart of Chaos, die Glocke, is fully explainable by modern science. Ice Storm was different. I strayed from reality and got a little too cartoonish at times. Hell, it strained even my credulity.

In retrospect, none of this surprises me. As I mentioned, I crafted Ice Storm out of multiple drafts. It was only natural that scenes get out of order, motivations get obscured, etc. Fortunately, these problems are manageable. Here’s what I did. I took a sheet of paper and divided it into six boxes. Then I divided Ice Storm into six sections, one for each box. In each section, I gave Cy an overall goal. By the end of the section, he either accomplishes the goal or fails and is forced to improvise. This leads to the next section and the next goal. It worked like magic for me. Cy is now driving the story rather than being driven by it.

Then I divided up my individual scenes and put them into the various sections. I had to throw a few away (hmm…maybe I’ll do a “Deleted Scenes” section after Ice Storm is published). And I’m going to have to create a few to replace them. But most of my scenes found a much better home. Now, it feels like there is a more logical progression of the story.

The division of sections also helped out with the side stories. I took each secondary character and figured out what part of their story would be told in each section. It also helped with the cartoonish elements. I was able to eliminate two particularly cartoonish elements merely by reordering the scenes. I also took the opportunity to reground the story based on the principles of Cy Reed’s world.

So, there you have it. Development Hell to (possible) Development Heaven all in a matter of three days!

Other Stuff

The link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is still broken. And the Chaos paperback is still on-sale for $13.25 at Amazon. Incidentally, that price may go up soon. I’m thinking about participating in Amazon’s Extended Distribution program. But the only way to make a decent profit off it is to raise the Amazon paperback to a higher price, say $17.95. I’ve been mulling this over for awhile. Still, if you’re thinking about buying a copy, now might not be a bad time to do it.

Ice Storm Development Hell

Let’s talk about Ice Storm Development Hell. The “first draft” (read yesterday’s post to see what I mean by this) came in at 85,000 words, or 340 pages. I’m in the process of editing it and reached the 12,000 word mark today. So, I’m still on schedule. Sweet. Then again, this part of the book happens to be in pretty good shape. It’s the next 73,000 words that are going to give me fits. So, not so sweet after all.

Come on that all you've got???

Come on snow…is that all you’ve got???

Ice Storm Development Hell: Not just another Cop Novel!

Ice Storm is the second novel in the Cy Reed universe. Cy Reed is an urban archaeologist turned treasure hunter. I used to feel a little silly writing about a treasure hunter. I mean, come on…treasure hunting is hardly a real profession. How many full-time treasure hunters are out there anyway? But that’s sort of the point. Fiction (and not just literature) is dominated by the usual suspects: cops, lawyers, doctors, bureaucrats, etc. They’re a dime a dozen. Does the world really need another novel about a world-weary, rule-bending, alcoholism-recovering, family-failing, overworked cop? Actually, maybe so. For some reason, readers gobble those up like crazy.

But as for me, I don’t have much interest in conventional characters. I prefer characters who operate on the fringes of society and respectability. I think it opens up a lot of interesting story lines and points of view you don’t see in most novels. Take Cy Reed for example. He’s got one foot in the world of archaeology and the other foot in the world of treasure hunting. His former colleagues view him with disdain. His new ones view him with distrust. He doesn’t really fit into either world and probably never will. At the same time, his position on society’s totem pole affords him an unusual outlook. He sees the hidden flaws in the archaeological industry. He thinks antiquities laws are wrongheaded and do more damage than good. And he views smugglers, looters, and black market dealers in a rather positive light. In short, he defends the “undefendable.”

My first book in the Cy Reed Universe, Chaos, takes place in Manhattan. It’s a good old fashioned treasure hunt set in the middle of the urban jungle. Rather than mountains, Cy climbs a skyscraper. Rather than venturing into forgotten caves, he explores abandoned subway tunnels. When it came time to write a sequel, I considered writing another urban-based adventure, perhaps in a different city. But it had a “been there, done that” feel to it. So, I decided to take Cy in a completely different direction.

Ice Storm takes place in Antarctica, which in many respects is the exact opposite of Manhattan. There are no paved streets, few buildings, and very little in the way of permanent population. Manhattan is a bustling metropolis. Antarctica is mostly lifeless tundra. And yet, Ice Storm is very much about life. I’ll return to this point over the coming weeks, but suffice it to say a lifetime isn’t enough for Cy Reed to accomplish all of his dreams. As you might’ve guessed, I have that in common with him.

Other Stuff

By the way, the link to buy Chaos at Diesel (see sidebar) is broken. Don’t know how that happened but I’ve been told it’s in the process of being fixed. Oh and Amazon lowered the price of the Chaos paperback to $13.25. Apparently, I still get the same commission. So, you can save a whopping $0.70 and I still get full payout. Good deal!

Get me out of this Development Hell!

Check out that chart over there. What? You can’t read it? Okay, click on it. That should help.

My Writing Schedule - April 2013 - September 2015 (Yes, you read that right!)

My Writing Schedule – April 2013 – September 2015 (Yes, you read that right!)

This is my writing schedule. I created it last month. You see, I have a tendency to write books straight into development hell. I’ll write 50,000 words (200 pages) of a novel. Then I’ll conclude I made some crucial error. I’ll start to rewrite. I’ll add new chapters and eliminate old ones. Ill get maybe 30,000 words into a second draft before I realize I made another set of crucial errors. So, I’ll rewrite again. And again. And then again.

The result is an incoherent mess, filled with various parts from various drafts. Eventually, I give up and move onto another story. And then I go through the same process all over again. I think it happens because: a) I’m a perfectionist and fiction, by definition, will always be imperfect; and b) I tend to rush into stories before I’ve really had proper time to brainstorm them.

I’m determined to break the cycle. So, I created a schedule for my next four books and set some rules for myself. I’ve also started to storyboard future novels (that’s the reason I’ve got four books on the schedule). The basic idea is to extend the creation period as well as separate creation from editing. If I do it right, I think I can write a novel every eight months. That’s two months apiece for brainstorming, writing, editing, and publishing.

  • Brainstorming: Far too often I rush into a story only to find I don’t like where it’s going. The characters seem thin, the story feels off. So, I want to lengthen my pre-writing creation process.
  • Writing: I write 2,000 words per weekday and 1,000 words per weekend day. So, 12,000 words per week. That means I can write about 100,000 words (400 pages) over a two month period (I consider 75-90,000 words to be my sweet spot).
  • Editing: I’m going to need two months to edit my current novel. But going forward, I’d like to reduce that time and instead, place more trust in my creative work.
  • Publishing: This is all the other things that go into publishing a book…soliciting suggestions from outside readers, formatting the book, and creating a cover.

So, where do we stand? I started my current book, tentatively titled Ice Storm, back in December 2012. After spinning it off into development hell, I resurrected it. Basically, I took pieces from seven (!) different drafts and shoved them together. I finished this on May 16. For the sake of simplicity, I’m considering this to be my first draft.

It’s not very good. In fact, it’s exactly what you’d expect from shoving seven different drafts together. But it has tons of potential. Over the last few weeks, I’ve developed a plan to realize this potential. It’s going to take some work. Generally speaking, the first 15,000 words are almost perfect. Another 15,000 words will have to be replaced completely. The remaining 55,000 words will require reshuffling and minor to major editing.

I started editing on May 18 at a rate of 18,000 words per week. It’s slower than I’d prefer. But like I said, Ice Storm needs a lot of work. I got to 9,000 words yesterday. If all goes well, I should be able to finish this draft by the end of June. I’ll spend July tightening it up. I’d like to give it to my first reader (Hi Julie!) by August. I plan to publish it by the end of September.

Either Ice Storm will turn into a spectacular book or it’ll become a train wreck of epic proportions. Regardless, you’ve got a front-row seat to watch it all go down. So, stick around. It’s going to be one hell of a ride!

The Future of Guerrilla Explorer?

Change is a good thing…I think.

David Meyer

Here I am!

Back in 2011, I was hard at work on a novel, which I eventually published as Chaos. I’d already decided to self-publish it. But I had no clue how to sell it. So, I followed the path taken by many other authors. I started a blog on May 21, 2011 called “The Life of a Thriller Author.” I updated it regularly, writing about the business of writing. I created a Twitter account and reached out to authors. I started following blogs written by those same authors. In short, I immersed myself completely within the community of on-line authors.

And that was a problem. I came to believe that authors, by and large, were too insular. They were so busy talking to each other that they didn’t have much time left over for their readers. So, on June 28, 2011, I shut down “The Life of a Thriller Author.” The next day, I launched Guerrilla Explorer. For almost two years, I’ve written articles on mysteries of history, lost treasure, and strange monsters. It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. However, I’ve begun to question it as well. Guerrilla Explorer requires a lot of time and research. It often distracts me from my real goal, which is to write fiction. Plus, I’m not sure it’s doing a good job connecting readers to my fiction.

So, I want to try an experiment. I want to write about writing again. But this time, I don’t want to write about the business end of it. I want to write about creation. I love talking about creativity. It’s one of my greatest passions.

For the next few days, I’m going to give you a front-row seat to the development of my upcoming book as well as future projects (I work on three or four books at a time). I want to talk about my inspirations. I want to show you my character sketches. I want to unveil my storyboards. And since fiction is always influenced by life, I want to open up that door to you as well. That’s no simple task. As my closest friends can attest too, I’m notoriously close-lipped.

I don’t want to give away major plot points. But I would like to give you an inside look at how I create stories. If it goes well, I’ll expand the experiment. If not, I’ll switch back to the usual stuff you’ve come to expect from me. But ultimately, I’d love to use this site to give you greater access to the worlds I create. In the future, that could involve short stories, contests, comics strips, video games, etc.

So, stick with me and let’s see where this goes. Change is a good thing…

I think.

Chaos by David Meyer

Happy Guerrilla Explorer Day!

Happy Guerrilla Explorer Day! It’s hard for us to believe it, but Guerrilla Explorer has now been in operation for a full year. We thought we’d take a break from our normal routine to tell all of you a little about where we’ve been and where we’re going. So, let’s get started!

Chaos by David Meyer

Guerrilla Explorer – Year in Review

Guerrilla Explorer launched on June 29, 2011 with our first two articles, A Manifesto and The Hunt for Bin Laden’s Corpse. Over the last twelve months, we’ve published over 360 articles on a wide variety of subjects, most recently on the Baltic Anomaly late last night. Our monthly traffic has grown ~1,600% and our average daily traffic is now in excess of our entire traffic for the month of July 2011. In addition, we fulfilled our goal of annual traffic in the six figures by a wide margin.

On the publishing front, we released our first novel, Chaos, on October 17, 2011. Although it’s been out less than a year, we have it on good authority that across all channels, Chaos ranks in the top 2% of all books sold, including both self-published and traditionally-published books. We’re quite proud of that success. Hopefully, the upcoming sequel will do even better. If you haven’t picked up your own copy of Chaos yet, we encourage you to do so and tell us what you think.

What’s Next for Guerrilla Explorer?

Going forward, you can expect the same high-quality articles on the topics we’re so fond of here at Guerrilla Explorer. There aren’t a lot of on-line magazines devoted to things like mysteries of history, lost treasures, monsters, and strange anomalies. So, we think we’ve carved out a unique niche for ourselves. With that being said, it’s become apparent to us that some changes are necessary. Here’s a few of them in no particular order…

  1. A New Format: For most of this year, we published Guerrilla Explorer as an ordinary blog. Recently, we’ve begun experimenting with magazine-style looks to better display our content. Our current format is a step-up, but we’ve got a ways to go. So, expect at least one more change in the near future.
  2. A New Home: It’s become apparent to us we’ve outgrown our little home on Blogger. Blogger is an excellent, easy-to-use service. However, it doesn’t really offer the same type of freedom and personalization found on WordPress. We’re not exactly eager to transform our library of content, but we think the upside outweighs the downside. There will probably be some hiccups along the way, so please bear with us.
  3. A New Community: While our content and repeat traffic has grown substantially, we have yet to fulfill one of our key goals…establishing a true community for all you Guerrilla Explorers out there. So, we plan on making some tweaks this year, which will hopefully change all that.

Those are just a few things we hope to improve here. Of course, none of it will happen right away but we hope to have made major strides by this time next year.

As far as our book publishing segment is concerned, a sequel (not a direct sequel though) to Chaos is underway. The first draft was completed several weeks ago and the second draft is about 30% done. This book is actually the first of a three-part miniseries, starring archaeologist-turned-treasure hunter Cy Reed. It’s similar to a serial novel, but each installment will be long (300 to 400 pages) and self-contained (i.e. they will have their own beginnings and endings).

We’re also considering publishing some of our non-fiction content here on Guerrilla Explorer in book form. If there’s any interest in this, let us know!

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks to all of you for your support thus far. If you wish to contribute to Guerrilla Explorer, our doors are open for individual guest posts and articles on the various subjects we cover. Just drop us a line.

Thanks again!

The Baltic Anomaly: What is the next “Anomaly”?

The mystery behind the Baltic Anomaly continues to deepen. While we wait for samples to be analyzed, it seems like a good time to look at some other exciting Baltic Anomaly-type expeditions coming up over the next year or so.

The Newmac Expedition (June 26, 2012)

The Newmac Expedition consists of five young explorers who plan to search the deepest jungles of the Republic of Congo for…you guessed it…a dinosaur! The expedition has raised almost $30,000 and hopes to discover the source of a mysterious mythological creature named the mokele-mbembe. For decades, eyewitnesses have reported sightings of this odd animal. While most scientists doubt it exists, some cryptozoologists think it could be a sauropod, which resembles a brontosaurus.

The Earhart Project (July 2, 2012)

On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan vanished while attempting a circumnavigational flight around the Earth. Their disappearance is one of the most famous mysteries of all time. For more than two decades, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has searched for them, focusing most of its efforts on tiny Gardner Island.

On July 2, 2012, the 75th anniversary of Amelia’s and Fred’s disappearances, TIGHAR will venture back to Gardner Island, hoping to once and for all solve this enduring mystery.

The North Pole Inner Earth Expedition (July 2013)

The Hollow Earth hypothesis proposes the Earth is, well, hollow. Once a fairly serious theory, it has lost almost all credibility in the eyes of mainstream science since the late 1700s.

However, a fervent band of believers still exists. Apparently, they are launching an expedition to the North Pole region in July 2013 to search for an entrance into the Earth’s interior.

“The science is real. The story is more than 5,000 years old. The legend says that at a certain place above the Arctic Circle, there exists an oceanic depression or an entrance into the Earth. It’s a place where the maritime legend claims sea level isn’t level anymore.”

“The discovery that the earth is hollow would forever shatter our long-held beliefs about how planets are formed. More importantly, however, discovering life beneath the earth’s crust could potentially provide us with new tools that would allow life on the surface to regain environmental balance, harmony, and possibly even peace. These prospects make the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition the greatest expedition in the history of the world.” ~ North Pole Inner Earth Expedition Web Site

Unfortunately, we’re a little skeptical of this trip. Scratch that. We’re very skeptical. This trip was scheduled to begin as early as 2009 (here’s a business plan to that effect). Also, we can’t help but notice that the trip is asking for massive donations to the effect of $350,000. So, this could very well be a hoax. But we’re holding out hope.

The Guerrilla Explorer Expedition (201?)

Once upon a time, the entire world thrilled to the exploits of arduous journeys into the unknown. Henry Morton Stanley’s search for Dr. David Livingstone. Sir Edmund Hillary’s venture to the highest peak of Mount Everest. The Race to the North Pole. The Moon Race.

But after generations of explorers and the rise of satellite technology, the world often feels small and lacking in mystery. Mankind has ventured to the four corners of the Earth, the deepest parts of the ocean, and into space. What could possibly be left to explore?

The Ocean X Team’s expedition to the Baltic Anomaly as well as the expeditions listed above hark back to some of those fascinating adventures from days gone by. The truth is there is so much out there still waiting to be discovered. Space remains virtually unexplored. And new discoveries are made everyday across the world. We here at Guerrilla Explorer do our best to showcase as many of them as possible.

We can’t make any official announcements yet. But we’re working on some expedition concepts of our own. So, stay tuned…exciting days are ahead!

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

Chaos Book Cover

Six Months of Chaos!

Exactly six months ago, I published Chaos, an action/adventure novel along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. It deals with all the things we love here at Guerrilla Explorer…forgotten history…stolen treasure…strange science…and the “lost world” of tunnels under New York City. So far, I’ve been thrilled with the reception, both in terms of customer feedback as well as the nothing short of phenomenal sales Chaos has enjoyed across the globe. For those of you who’ve been asking, a sequel is coming soon…very soon!

Chaos by David Meyer

Megalith’s Review of Chaos

With that in mind, I just wanted to thank Megalith for their recent excellent review of Chaos. Megalith is the go-to site for action / adventure novels so this particular review means quite a bit to me. Here’s a taste…

Chaos is the debut action-adventure novel from author David Meyer. The story follows the exploits of Cyclone “Cy” Reed, an archaeologist running from his past. Reed is hired to solve a mystery but he gets much more than he bargained for.

Chaos has all the elements of a top-notch adventure story. Cy is an engaging hero who finds his way in and out of lots of perilous situations. Meyer paints an interesting back-story of lost Nazi gold and Die Glocke, a doomsday weapon sought by a powerful villain. By setting the action in tunnels beneath Manhattan, Meyer has chosen a locale that might not be the norm for action-adventure, but is remote and “wild” in its own way, and he populates it not only with human threats, but dangerous creatures as well. The plot moves at a steady pace and gains momentum leading to an action-packed conclusion. Also, the book is written in first person, which I don’t normally read, but I found I enjoyed…

Please read the rest here. And thanks Megalith! For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please consider picking up your copy of Chaostoday at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

The Black Swan Heist?

On May 18, 2007, Odyssey Marine Exploration flew 17 tons of salvaged gold and silver coins to a secure facility in Florida. Now, five years later, U.S. courts have forced Odyssey to hand over this treasure to the Spanish government. What is the Black Swan Heist?

Odyssey & the Mysterious Black Swan Project?

Odyssey is a publicly-held marine salvage company. In other words, it’s a treasure hunting firm. Back in 2007, Odyssey completed a top-secret salvage expedition known as the Black Swan Project, uncovering some 17 tons of coins and other artifacts in the process. The operation is believed to have cost two million dollars and taken numerous years to complete.

Almost immediately, the Spanish government filed a claim on the treasure, arguing that the Black Swan was actually a Spanish vessel known as the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which sank in 1804. Five years of court battles and drama followed. At one point, WikiLeaks even got involved. A secret cable revealed the American ambassador to Spain offered to help the Spanish government recover the treasure from Odyssey. In exchange, Spain was asked to compel a museum in Madrid to return a $20 million painting to a California family that claimed it had been stolen by the Nazis.

The Black Swan Heist?

In September 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Odyssey in a highly questionable decision. In February 2012, Justice Clarence Thomas, acting on behalf of the U.S. Supreme Court, declined to hear the case. As a result, Odyssey is being forced to hand over the Black Swan treasure to the nearly-broke Spanish government. And in a slap to the face, the firm won’t receive any compensation for its work (leading many treasure hunters to suggest Odyssey return the Black Swan treasure to the ocean and make the Spanish government pay for its own recovery).

I don’t want to get into the minutia of the case here. The international laws governing shipwreck salvaging are murky and highly tilted toward governments over individuals. Suffice it to say the Black Swan wreck was never conclusively proven to be the Mercedes. And even if it was the Mercedes, that means that the vast majority of the coins were owned by merchants and not the Spanish government. Spain claims it had reimbursed the merchants back in the early 1800s and thus, was entitled to the treasure (interestingly enough, it has yet to provide any proof of this compensation).

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

From my point of view, this is a short-sighted decision that will have long-term ramifications (something I discuss in my novel Chaos). Going forward, treasure hunters will have little to no incentive to report their findings to the world. The black market for antiquities will grow. The treasure hunting field will attract a greater number of reckless and unskilled individuals. Thus, salvage work will be done with more haste and less care.

As I see it, the Black Swan treasure falls under the homesteading principle. There are three possible owners of the Black Swan wreck. The dead (or their descendants), the “community” (supposedly represented by the Spanish government), or Odyssey. First, the dead merchants can no longer claim ownership. In addition, the merchants basically stole the metal for the coins from the Incas making it extremely unlikely the original owners can ever be traced (although some Peruvians are making their own claim). Second, the Spanish Culture Ministry has no legitimate claim to the treasure. Governments cannot legitimately own private property, since everything they have (including tax dollars) has been, in effect, taken at the point of a gun.

Overall, I would argue no one owned the Black Swan wreck prior to discovery. Odyssey, on the other hand, is the rightful owner of its own labor. By salvaging the Black Swan, the company added its labor to the treasure and thus, became its rightful owner.

I’m a treasure hunter. Yet I also consider myself an amateur archaeologist. As such, I’m very sympathetic to the concept of “historical preservation.” However, I don’t think that “stealing” artifacts from the treasure hunters who recover them is the best way to achieve that goal. Instead, I tend to favor the idea of privatizing archaeology.

“In other words, if “archaeological entrepreneurs” were able to sell their wares freely, they would have greater incentive to do better work in order to fulfill the demands of their customers (i.e. museums). Also, in the absence of antiquities laws, private owners would be more likely to share their artifacts with researchers, especially since subsequent research might increase the value of the artifact in question.” – David Meyer, Is Treasure Hunting Immoral

I realize I’m in the minority on this issue. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Freedom has vastly improved the lot of mankind over time. I believe it could do the same thing for the field of archaeology.

The Finest Goldsmiths of the Ancient Americas?

Around 300 AD, a mysterious civilization in Colombia began to sculpt an incredible array of items out of gold. Eventually, these people would become known as the finest goldsmiths of the ancient Americas. Who were the Tairona?

The Chaos Book Club

So, today we have a Chaos book club bonus for you. Chaos is an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

Who were the Tairona?

The Tairona were a group of chiefdoms who resided in parts of Colombia from 200 AD until 1600-1650 AD. During this period, they “established over 250 masonry settlements across an area of 2,000 square miles.” This includes the famous Ciudad Perdida, or “Lost City.” Ciudad Perdida was unknown to the outside world until it was discovered by treasure hunters in 1972. When artifacts from this site began to appear on the black market, local authorities investigated and found the city in 1975.

Unfortunately, information about the Tairona people is scarce, limited to some archaeological sites and a few references written by their Spanish conquerors. However, we do know that “they aggressively repelled the Spanish when they attempted to take women and children as slaves in the first contacts.” This led to great losses among the Spanish and ultimately, “a more diplomatic strategy” for disarming and taking control of the locals.

The Tairona people were, in my estimation, the finest gold workers of the pre-Columbian Americas. Their caciques (an example is pictured above) are particularly impressive. These gold cast pendants depict people in richly detailed attire and headdresses. While the subjects are unknown today, they are thought to be chiefs or warriors due to their tough facial expressions and aggressive postures.

Chaos by David Meyer

Chaos, Gold, & the Tairona?

One of the opening scenes in Chaos takes place at a recently discovered Tairona archaeological site on an isolated plateau in the middle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. My hero Cy Reed is there to retrieve a cacique. Unfortunately for him, others in the area will do anything to stop him.

At the bottom of the hill, I glanced over my shoulder. Every single worker, male and female alike, raced after me. It was a strange, disconcerting sight, like being chased by an army of angry lemmings.

I sprinted uphill and grabbed my climbing equipment. As I slipped into the harness and secured my weapons, I snuck another look behind me. The workers were right on my tail. I didn’t have much time.

I didn’t have any time.

I stuffed the cacique into my satchel and ran forward to where my climbing rope was still anchored to the boulders below. With a savage cry, I leapt off the cliff. As my feet left the ground, a single thought raced through my mind.

What the hell am I doing?

The hunt for the cacique plays only a minor role in Chaos. But it’s important nevertheless. First, it connects Cy Reed to the mysterious Beverly Ginger, who has her own plans for the cacique. And second, it marks the first domino in a series of incidents that drives treasure hunter Cy Reed back to the one place on earth he truly fears…New York City.


Chaos Book Club