THIS IS A TEST.  I REPEAT.  THIS IS A TEST.    In the event of a real endorsement or award, you will be instructed to tune into the Today Show and then directed to your nearest bookstore.*

NEWS FLASH!  NEWS FLASH!  DYNAMITE DEBUT NOVEL takes the literary world by storm.  Perhaps we are witnessing a parallel universe from a fugue state, or the natural endgame of our smart phone addictions, or a virally contagious redundant rash.

No matter.  The phenomenon is real, and having read the book myself, I can attest to the veracity of the claims and the truth of the accolades.  But enough about my point of view.  Here is what others are saying:

Nike Inc. – “You did it!  You did it!”

New York Times Book Review – “Perhaps the finest first effort we’ve seen in decades.  We’re in for years of delight.  Mr. Goodale, keep writing, please.”

Maine Lobsterman’s Association – “Goodale does for lobster what Melville did for whales. Finest kind.  Scarf her up.”

Elmore Leonard – “Wonderful sparse writing, if I do say so myself.  Years of reading pleasure ahead.  Kindle edition came through fine.  For some reason print version is not available here.”

Goodreads – “Characters spring off the page.  You want to cry when the book ends.  More.  More!”

Kirkus Reviews – “This is an engaging and entertaining look into New England life and coastal living.  Written with Maine “speak” and humor, it is a story about prejudice and set ways of life.  There is a love story.  There is a memorable dog.  And then there is Donny Coombs, a fifth generation lobsterman.  Jump right in.”

Lee Child – “If Reacher could fish!  Do yourself a favor and buy this book.”

Esquire – “Goodale has achieved something really difficult in fiction – to cast characters that are real and sympathetic, to paint honest love scenes that are light and cozy and funny, and then he throws in a dog you hate to love.  This world comes alive on these pages.”

Patrick Ruell – “Goodale takes the amorous approach.  He aims at the heart.”

AOL Recommends – “A lovely story and a promising debut.  Love story, dog story, class conflict and an in-depth (pun intended) portrayal of lobstering off the coast of Maine.  Clear, crisp writing, perfectly toned dialogue and a plot that kept me up at night.  I highly recommend this novel.”

Dashiell Hammett – “We have a fresh new voice!  Crystal, reminiscent of Elmore Leonard (Hi, Elm) with the dashes of humor and romance that reminds me of Hiassen.  That said, Goodale is forging his own space and I’m looking forward to more of his fiction.  Congratulations on a job well done.  (Hey Elm, what’s the deal with the “no print version” available?).”

Reginald Hill – “Hey Elm and Dash.  We still on for coffee?”

USA Today – “Diabolical neighbors, rotten fisheman, gritty dog, enraging protagonist with a sweet girl on his arm.  What lies beneath those blue bays?  All you have to do is turn the first page.  Then you are hooked.”

Publisher’s Weekly – “We do not review debut self-published authors.  What makes you think you warrant a review?  REJECTED REJECTED REJECTED. What were you thinking?”

Portland Press Herald – “You will love the characters and the snappy dialogue.  Cared so much that I’m still thinking of Donny and Shelly and Bert long after I finished the book.  And I miss Tut.”

Kindle Book Review – “The Kindle version came out super.  I hear the Smashwords edition is coming out tomorrow and that it sucks.  Our friends at CreateSpace are working on a heavenly print version.  Hold your breath”.

Smashwords – “Whatever!  Petty, petty, petty.  Cry me a river, why don’t you?”


There are more accolades, but let’s move on to the awards:


National Book Award – finalist.

Edgar – First Prize, 2014, fiction.

B.R.A.G. Medallion  – honoree.

Pulitzer – runner-up (the flag pole).

AIA Seal of Approval.

Olympic Gold Medal, Winter Games, literature/fiction category.

New England Book Festival – Grand Champion.

Upcoming Event: Fiction FisticuffsVacationland   vs. Inferno (Brown’s not Dante’s).  Goodale says, “No contest.”


* Most of the above endorsements by authors living or dead, or awards, are the product of pure fiction and are probing into the value of visualization.  It is true, however, that Steven King came to me in a dream last night and instructed me to do the above.

BTW – Know anybody who knows anybody who knows anybody influential in the literary world to whom you could recommend the book?  Come on, wrack your brain (which is obviously super fine given you’ve read this far).  As always, I hope you found this entertaining and I thank you for following this effort.


Welcome to Conundrumesque.com

The marketing playground for my up-and-coming ventures in Cuenca, and the ruminations that preceded the germination stage.

It is greater than God and more evil than the devil. The poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it you‘ll die. What is it? e the end of time, the middle of yesterday, and nowhere in tomorrow?
What is the beginning of the end, the end of time, the middle of yesterday, and nowhere in tomorrow?
A boy and girl are sitting together on a park bench.
“I’m a girl,” says the child with blond hair.
“I’m a boy,” says the child with brown hair.
At least one of them is lying.
Which is the boy and which is the girl?:
Nothing.  The letter E.  

By the Book

“I was right out straight, drove right up.  Liked to kill myself with all that work, had to sit down and rest a spell.  Come to find out I sat down on this book, see?  Turns out it was written by some guy lives downeast.  Turned the page and the cussid thing grabbed aholt of me and I had to glob around for hours till I got to the end.”

“What was it that got you so engrossed?”

“You got all these folks telling other folks how to live, like they got the super-secret, like they got the only book of rules to live by, but don’t seem nobody’s got it just right.    You got the lobsterman, quite a rig, fighting off this glomming neighbor fisherman, then it gets all spleeny and shit happens, don’t you know?  Then you got those that have, and those that don’t.  Story might rile up some folk but no one never died from a dooryard scrape, ‘cept maybe in a book.”

“You think the book will upset some readers?”

“No telling who the sensitive ones are, get all bent out of shape.   You got this group that looks down on that group, who looks down on those that are looking down on them – understand?”

“You mean people like me?”

“Ayuh.  You’re from away, but you ain’t all that pushy.”

“Well, thanks for that, I guess.  Is this book, Vacationland, written in Maine-speak?”

“Lordy no, it’s written so’s even you can understand.  Let me tell you.  It’s a story, finest kind.   I was you, I’d buy the book.”





Take my dog, please.  No, but really, you gotta hear about this little guy. Terrier, need I say more?  But he’s got it in spades, the nasty little bastard, that’s what the UPS guy calls him.  He likes to bite the UPS guy.

His name is Jack Shut-up Bower Goodale.  Shut-up, shut-up – because he owns the world and we are all invaders, even me, and he’s got to protect his turf.  He growls and barks and lunges and tears at things, just about rips the house down when the oil man comes up the drive.

He likes to ride in the car so he can patrol his territory, which is the whole world.  No way a dog on a leash on the sidewalk gets off without a lunging attack held back by auto glass.  You can barely see out any of my windows because of the slobber and nose prints smudged like paste on the glass.  Hey, why would I want to clean them?  He’s only going to do the lunging thing again.

Here’s a good example.  The little terror chased a squirrel up under my car.  The rodent tried to hide up in the hollows and Jack goes after him, gets to ripping everything in sight, pulls out all the wires and I gotta get triple A to put the car on a flat bed, take it to the shop so it will run again.  Mother of God, what a dog!

Just think about it – a wicked smart juvenile delinquent teenager in a dog’s body.  And the body – he’s solid like a bristly white mailbox filled with concrete.  Vet went to give him a shot and Jack was so tight with muscle, vet could barely pull any skin up to slide the needle under.  All that and I got Jack in a head lock so he wouldn’t tear the vet to pieces.

Besides patrolling in the car, he likes his toys.  The wife comes home from shopping with a new toy, what the hell is she thinking?  It’s a hard round ball that’s got this recording that goes off whenever the damned ball moves.  Like giving your kids a drum set for Christmas, for Christ sake!  So all day long he’s back and forth across the house with this ball just a screaming, like to drive you crazy.  So, I go to hide it (after I deal with the lock jaw, got to flip him on his back and grab his throat so he’ll let go). I hide it behind my back and drop it in the garbage can.  I’ve owned the dog, what? for three years? and I ain’t fooled him yet.  He flips the can over and he’s got the ball.  So, we do it all over again.

Finally I take him and the ball to Wall Mart, a walking dog diverts his attention and I get the ball in my pocket and take it into the store and throw it in their can.  I go back to the car.  He’s chewed half way through the way back shoulder belts, third seat in the Excursion.  Later, thinking what’s the big deal?  Get a new straps.  Costs me $100 dollars a side, they got to tear the back panels out and replace the whole system, the fancy retracting spool things.

So, you want to know why the hell I don’t just shoot him?  I love the little guy.  Talk about pizzazz!  When he was a pup we let him out one night and he goes around back and corners this skunk under the stairs, ends up dragging the poor little thing out by the tail, getting sprayed something fierce.  Jack thinks, so what?  That was two years ago and even today, when he gets wet, he smells like skunk, no wonder the perfume people study the lasting effect of skunk juice!

He is always on the alert.  He sits on a kitchen chair in the sun room that looks down on route 1 and barks at anybody walking by.  Half the time he’s got his nose in the air, sniffing, turns his head left, then right, head still up, sniffing.  There ain’t nothing that gets by him.

The wife get’s up at 4:30 in the morning to meditate, do yoga and let all four of our dogs out.  They get back in, and Jack comes back to our bed.  He loves to sleep, but God forbid you disturb him.  He’ll growl and go for you, all teeth, if you wake him up.  Even once the day’s started, he loves to go up stairs and nap.  It’d be my guess he is so strung out about his daily mission, he needs to get all charged up.

Say, you want to meet him?  I got him right out in the car.  I’ll go get him. Just kidding.

A Wild Ride


Ever wonder about the Saturday destinations of all those horses in trailers on the winding roads up and down mountains in Ecuador?  We’re all headed to join other eager horses for a “Paseo.”

The thrill woke me at 2:30 in the morning and I tossed and turned until I finally gave up and ate breakfast at 4.

At dawn, I opened the side-swing trailer back door and Bandolero, my liver- colored gelding quarter-horse, leapt the two foot rise with a loud clang.  We drove out and down the mountain dirt road and then up the erosion-gouged entrance to my friend’s ranch.  We loaded his white Arab stallion Sasu who immediately started to annoy my horse but was thwarted by a quick tie-off to the side.

We stowed Alfredo’s rain gear, tack, and saddle into the back seat of my crew- cab Chevy 4-by-4 pickup truck and off we went.  My trailer has a roof and forward compartments for accessories and is heavy by itself, but with the two big horses and the steady three-thousand foot climb out of Cumbe, my trusted truck began to overheat.  We stopped twice on the shoulder with the engine a needle’s width from the red zone.  She idled herself to cool-enough, and we lumbered on. Once up on the high plain, the road leveled and we cooled down and picked up our pace to 80 km/hr.

An hour and a half south of Cuenca, by the side of the road, we met up with the other Vaqueros.  Two cowboys sat at the dash of an older red Mitsubishi double cab pickup truck towing an open trailer with two calm horses (looking around); a black Trooper, open trailer and a single horse; and finally a snazzy new white Mitsubishi truck with two horses in an open trailer.  That made a nice convoy of men in cowboy hats in pickup trucks.

After another half hour we turned left and up a cement road into the little town of Ona.  We wove on small streets into a crowded central square which was readying itself for a celebration.  It was early, so the stage was vacant.  Streamers caught the breeze and the fire crackers didn’t bother the horses.  Nor did the fact that we were lost.  The correct turn was back a block.  We reversed, four competent drivers turning appreciative local heads.

We twisted and turned out a pot-holed dirt road for 5 km to our destination. Seven men, seven horses and one dog off-loaded at the ramshackle farm.  Chickens scattered, dogs barked and a small but stout horse tugged at his stake rope, excited by the new arrivals.  This pony-sized horse would be our guide’s mount.

This was a dry part of Ecuador and the wide open vistas scanned parched sloping mountains of scrub brush and occasional pastures.

Without delay, we saddled up and donned caped oil-cloth drover coats and cowboy hats.  All except me.  I’m relatively new to riding and I wear a polo helmet.  Also, I could only envy their coats.  And I figured that with all their rain protection, and even with a heavy overcast, it would surely not rain.

Bandolero is a calm horse.  I ride him two or three times a week.  We’ve been horse-and-rider for two years.  We’ve been on countless Paseos.  Sometimes he’s a little feisty, especially when I force him to the back of the group.  He thinks he’s a race horse and expects to lead the pack. And I’ve yet to cure him of his mounting dance.  When I’m a second from raising my boot to stirrup, he begins to circle to the left.  I need to hop hop.

This morning he was particularly dance proud, but I managed to get up in the saddle.  Once settled, the unsettling began.  He buzzed with energy, as if he had fire ants under the saddle, on the edge of out-of-control.   He made “frisky” look like a sleeping baby.  I had my hands full and my legs wrapped.

We were the first to follow Manuel on his diminutive horse up into the fields and Bandolero bucked and backed-up and side-stepped and threw his head.  I hadn’t thought to use a martingale to limit his head thrusts back into my forehead.  We managed to get up to the high road, where I thought I could burn off some of his energy.  We galloped up the 200 yard rise, turned and trotted back.  Twice.  This did little to calm my boy.  When joined by the other riders, I dismounted and took a lead rope and hooked it into the leather strap under his chin then through his girth and back.  At least now I didn’t need to worry about being knocked out cold by his wild head thrashes.

My dog Jack was along for the ride.  He is a mail-box sized, white, long-legged, rough-coated Jack Russell Terrier.  A year ago I’d run him over with my truck tire.  This resulted in a dislocated hip and an operation.  He was trampled a month ago on another Paseo.  He’d already managed to explore a briar patch and his snout, chest and feet were covered with teeny round green stickers. His legs were caked with mud.  He kept up nicely as we trotted along, running well off to the side, perhaps remembering his close brush with equestrian death, lying stiff legged with vacant eyes and blood in his mouth. (Another story).

We left the gravel road and climbed into the aromatic sage-covered hills.  So far, so good.  It was easy going and I was still on the semi-control side of my horse.  The trail led down to an open plain next to a river.  It was an opportunity to let him run, so I made the kissing sound that released him and we galloped full-out to the far edge of the field.

Then the trail got skinny.  Ecuador is vertical. We were at the low level of the day and rode the right side of the roaring river on a narrow ribbon of trail scarfed along the mountainside to a narrow open bridge 30 feet above the flowing water.  I dismounted and led Bandolero across.  We did the dance routine again on a rock slope with a precipitous drop to the river below.  In my frustration, I slapped him upside the head and he held still.

Imagine walking upright up a ladder but the rungs are irregular rocks and the voids are mud.  You’re on a horse.  We climbed and climbed.  All the horses lathered up, first white sweat foamed where the reins met the neck and where the bridles circled the ears, then they were soaked. Their nostrils flared with each heaving breath.

All of the Ecuadorian Andes seem to be 45 degrees or steeper. Sometimes the down-trail is so steep that you’re convinced that you and your saddle will be pitched over the horse’s head.  You can’t seem to lean back enough. Your horse’s front legs will surely collapse. You’re left with only faith. Your horse tucks his hind legs and slides.

Where there was mud, it was invariably deep.  Hooves buried and sounds sucked with each step.

The trails switchbacked and dropped dramatically at you elbow.  The line of horses lumbered up the narrow high-sided, rock-strewn trail, nose to tail until a straight stretch urged them to lope.  Don’t look down.

Two hours of this and Bandolero showed some calm.  It was unsettling to be riding a fidgety horse on the edge of a precipice, and the stress was getting to me.  I’d barely had time to look around to appreciate the majesty of my surroundings.  We occasionally broke and sat in pastures of soft grass as the horses grazed around their bits. We passed the cocktail bottle, ribbed each other and admired the scenery.

We rode up and down impossible trails.  These horses were used to this, but some were more sure-footed and confident than others. These horses faced rocks and mud and dramatic fall-offs and six inch channels to place their hooves.  The switchback’s turn was often slippery.  They clattered up.  It surprised me that more legs weren’t cut, scraped and bloody.

Bandolero was especially sure-footed.  He would stop and survey an obstacle then proceed according to his plan.  He was not bashful or scared, nor was he oblivious to the dangers a foot-fall ahead.  We crossed a stream without hesitation but the following horse shied and had to be pulled and prodded across.  She panicked midway and ended up splayed across the slick ledge.

We stopped for a scheduled lunch at Manuel’s father’s place; a tidy family compound with ducks corralled in a tiny pond to the left of the sweeping path running down to the house.  I unsaddled Bandolero so he didn’t roll on his back and wreak the gear.  I tied him to a fallen log.

Chickens scattered and dogs barked, again.  Scraggly Jack stood nose to nose in introduction, his tail vibrating.  We seven sat shoulder to shoulder, filling the table in the dark kitchen.  It was a lean-to addition with rough eucalyptus rafters, a corrugated tin roof and plank walls.  The hard-pack earthen floor sloped.  Shingles shimmed a gas stove.  Pots of soup and potatoes boiled on the burners.  Mother and daughter served the chicken-foot soup then plates brimming with the potatoes, feed corn on the cob, a fried egg and a slice of salami.  Sparse foodstuffs sat on raw-wood open shelves and an incongruously  modern refrigerator dominated the right wall.  We got red Jell-O served in cups for dessert.

The remainder of the ride climbed another mountain on seldom used jeep trails that joined the gravel road that led to Manuel’s house.

The truck warmed up but didn’t overheat on the two hour ride back to Cuenca.  We dropped Sasu and Alfredo, then made it back up the 4 kilometers to my place.

It was 8 o’clock; two hours dark. I turned on the stable lights and Bandolero jumped out and into his stall for grain, hay and water.  His work was done.

It didn’t rain.  I’m alive.  Jack is sleeping on the sofa.  My horse is stabled and unscathed.  I’ve earned a day off.

A Horse’s Horizon

A Horse’s Horizon

A Horse’s Horizon:

I ponied my 5 year old horse-in-training, Pampero, a black Lucitano stallion, up the mountain behind my reliable 7 year old steed Bandolero, a liver colored quarter horse.

Pampero’s delight, and his sense of wonder, caught my imagination. I was opening the world to him.

Pampero’s world has been limited.  A year ago he broke the coffin bone in his right front hoof.  His questionable recuperation (only half of horses so afflicted recover), required a year of relative quiet.  This was a task, given his youthful exuberance and the fact that he had two working testicles.

His life was confined to a stall for the first month.  In that time he learned the power of his weight and first broke the restraining chain and then learned he could leap the newly installed three foot stall door.

I then had to corral him in the pasture.  He would whinny and pace along the barb wire fence as I rode Bandolero up and away or drove the pickup truck with horse and trailer out the gate, distraught at being left out of the adventure.

So his world was limited to this spot of sloping land that looks down on the Tarqui valley.

Yesterday Bandolero lead and Pampero followed at the end of the lead rope I held in my left hand.  We ambled up the dead end dirt road and onto a mountain trail.  Pampero’s ears danced and his eyes were keen to every tidbit of life beyond his previous world.  He soaked it up, light on his feet, head swiveling to each new distraction – a tethered grazing cow, a growling darting dog, a puddle he suspected was endlessly deep.

The world was opening up.  I suspect his dreams were coming true.  His future includes wild rides in a trailer to be offloaded amidst other eager horses, then off on heart stopping trails into the high Sierra. I believe he feels complete and is now free to live the destiny of a horse. It makes my heart sing.