Before I share another event from my recent research/vacation trip to Sri Lanka, I want to thank everyone who took time to vote for The Academy at the Cover War competition last week. With your help, we won! The Academy is now Author Shout’s “Book of the Week”. What’s really exciting is that runner-up, Cassandra Morgan, contacted me after the competition. We were neck-to-neck the entire week. I believe only three votes separated our two books. It could have gone either way, I think. I’m now looking forward to reading her novel: Chartile: Book 1: Prophecy https://www.amazon.com/Cassandra-Morgan/e/B01KKK9618

That said, it’s time to return to Sri Lanka.

June 23 2017 - Visit to Pidurangala

Just outside Dambulla there’s a rock on top of which lies the remains of an ancient fortress called Sigiriya. It has a remarkable history (and is listed on UNESCOs World Heritage site) which means it attracts a lot of tourists. So we didn’t visit Sigirya (or the Lion Rock as some people call it), but chose an alternative rock – Pidurangala Rock. What an experience!  

It took us about 30 minutes to get there by tuk-tuk from our hotel. When we arrived, we seemed to be the only ones there. With the exception of monkeys that is. Heading to a small booth where we were to pay the entrance fee, our driver cleared his throat and pointed at my head. “Hat” he declared. I reached and touched the straw hat resting on my sweaty sculp. “Oh yes,” I laughed. “I got it in Vietnam a few years ago. It’s very good.” The driver shook his head. I could tell he was uncomfortable, and then he spoke so softly I barely heard the man: “No sir, this is a temple. You must remove your hat. You can put it on when you start climbing the rock.” Boy did I feel like a schmuck.  

 

We paid our entrance fee and began our climb. We didn’t get far before it felt like we were entering an Indiana Jones movie. There was even this wooden sign, next to a broken ladder, saying “No Entry”. I bet Mr Jones would have entered. We didn’t of course. Instead we followed a narrow trail that took us up towards the top, passing massive boulders and gnarled trees.

I had to stop ever so often to take a photo or write down some thoughts for book 2. It was quite inspirational to stand there, listening to the sounds of unfamiliar birds, and feeling the heat press against my body while I imagine one of my characters move up the trail.

 

Lying Buddha

With the exception of three people heading down, we met no one on our way up. Near the top, we came to a lying Buddha, with inscriptions form 600-700AD. There was also a small pond with fish (and a snake).

From here, the trail became harder to tread. We even had to do some serious climbing to get up on a few boulders. And then all of a sudden, we stood at the top, looking out over the world. It was indeed a stunning view. We could see Sigiriya, with a long line of tourists walking up the stairs towards the top. Below, a carpet of green stretched out over the surroundings. It was great, but in the end, it was the hike up that truly made this a fabulous and very creative visit.

Sigirya Rock


Just back after a four-week adventurous vacation in Sri Lanka together with my family. Traveling around the country was fantastic. Of course, for me this trip wasn’t all play and no work. I needed to do a bit of research for my next book in the Eagle King’s Academy Series. Still, we had a fabulous time, and to keep our families updated, I wrote several emails along the way, describing our adventures. Now that I’m back, I thought I might share a few of them with you.

So let us begin with day one - June 20th 2017

C.C. Monö book research
On our way to Dambulla

Hi everyone,

We’re now at the restaurant by the pool and have just ordered lunch. It seems Wi-Fi is only working here and at lobby, so I’ll keep it short.

It’s been a loooong flight. (We travelled from Sweden to Amsterdam, from Amsterdam to Kuwait, and finally from Kuwait to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka). We touched down at 6:45 local time, exhausted and yet we had several more hours of travelling to do.

We collected two of our bags and then stood like idiots while we waited for the third one. We waited and waited, until eventually we had to accept that it had been lost. Great. The bag contained all of Cindy’s clothes, as well as the kids’ swimsuits.

At the baggage claim, a tired (and certainly bored) woman informed us that the bag was probably in Kuwait. And, she added, there would be no more flights from Kuwait until the following morning.

Tired and annoyed, we went down to the arrival hall where we found our taxi driver waiting for us. He was going to take us to Dambulla, a small town situated northeast of Colombo. It was a five-hour drive. I don’t remember much since I slept most of the way, but I do remember seeing a lot of palm trees and rainforests. It’s so green here!

Oh, here comes our food. Got to go. Will write you soon.

Chris.

View from the restaurant

4 hours later…

All right. After lunch we took a tuk-tuk to the centre of Dambulla, a twenty-minute drive from our hotel. While the driver waited for us, we ran into a few stores and bought four t-shirts and a pair of shorts for Cindy, plus swimsuits for her and the kids. We also bought some sunscreen and a few other things, all of it for about 500 kr (about 60$, which was a total rip-off if you ask me. The swimsuits were butt-ugly. Apparently not many people buy swimsuits in Dambulla. The shop clerk seemed amazed when he found them in the back room, but even he seemed unimpressed by their appearance. Had we not been so desperate to cool ourselves in the pool, I’m sure those ugly things would have remained unsold for eternity.)

Traffic here reminds me of Africa where it seems the only rule is that there aren’t any rules. Everything is so green and we’re enjoying the warmth. Our hotel room is okay. Not really what we had expected based on the photos we’ve seen, but hey, the pool area is great.

We’re all tired. I think we’re just going to have some dinner and call it a day.

Love you all

Chris.

Tuk-tuk to town
Dambulla

That was all I wrote that day. I will soon post the next letter.



A few months ago, I was approached by Sandra Dennis, a bright Canadian who is setting up a library in Ecuador. She was wondering if I would be willing to donate a copy of my book. She wrote: "I have been inviting some of my favorite authors on leadership / followership to send a book for me or one of the next student cohort to take down for part of the new library. Last year’s class took down medical supplies for use after the earthquake and this year we will take down books to start a library."


I said yes, of course, for this is a project I truly believe in. Books are so much more than just a story or holder of information. They are creators of thoughts, ideas and dreams. They can change our perspectives and inspire us to act. They can give us hope when we need it the most, and comfort us when our hearts ache. Books are magical, not because of their content, but because they encourage us to think. They offer us choices, and with choices comes freedom.

 

All human being should learn how to read and everyone should have access to books. Keep up the good work, Sandra! I look forward to hearing more about your exciting project!

Military library ecuador
Library in Ecuador


Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stories. My parents would read to me before bed and I’d vanished into some magical world where nothing was impossible.

By the time I was eight or nine, my parents started encouraging me to read on my own. I gave it a try but found myself struggling with the reading. I had the same problem at school. The other kids read faster and spelled better than I did.

We travelled a lot while I was growing up. By the time I was fifteen, I’d spent 2/3 of my life in Africa, but no matter where we lived or what school I attended, I struggled with my reading and my spelling.

I was nineteen when it was confirmed that I am dyslectic, but by then I’d started reading. It began when I was around twelve. It was summer and we were living in Sweden at the time. My father said I had to practice my reading and sent me to the library. A kind librarian asked me a few question about my interests, and picked out a book that got me hooked from page one. I can’t remember the title of the book, but it got me reading. I read several books that summer and it changed everything.

Now days there are audio books and computers to help with the spelling, but I still love that feeling of opening a book and throwing myself into a new mystery. I’ll never be that person who consumes two books a week, but hey, isn’t a good story is best devoured slowly?



Yesterday a reader sent me a message on facebook. She was visiting Stockholm and took the underground when lo and behold, she spotted a little note with a familiar logo on it.  Having read the book, she took a picture of it and sent it to me. Let me tell you, it brought a smile on my face, especially since I'm not the one who put the note there.  🙂

ccmono, surprise


You may not know this, but I’ve spent the past 10 years trying to understand why our society is obsessed with leadership. Billions of dollars are spent on leadership development every year. What difference has it made?

There are many aspects of leadership that are interesting. For example, did you know that scholars can’t even agree on what differentiates a leader from a non-leader? It’s true! In other words, we don’t know what a leader is! So how do we know that leaders are important?

Meanwhile, we’re about as interested in followership as my 95 year-old grandfather is about heavy metal, i.e. not at all. This is also peculiar since the whole idea about leadership is to lead followers. Things are improving though. When I first started, there was only one book on the subject. Now days there are plenty more, although I’d say most of them are just books on leadership but with a different title. They still regard the world from a leadership perspective.

Anyway, three years ago I was giving a lecture on followership at the University of Linköping in Sweden. We were having a break and I was looking out the window when I got an idea. Why not write a suspense novel about these issues, I thought. Then I hesitated. Memories from English class emerged. I remembered being forced to read books “with a meaning” that were so boring I’d rather spend the rest of my life watching the darn thing decay than finish reading it. Nonetheless, nine months later, while on a trip to Borneo with my family, I began working on the synopsis for the Eagle King’s Academy series.

C.C. Monö in Borneo
It was during a trip to Borneo that Chris began working on the Eagle King's Academy series


So this is my first post on http://www.ccmono.com. To be honest, I'm somewhat surprised to see that it works. For a while, I thought the technological gods were out to get me. Actually, I'm sure they were. They must have had a hoot when I pressed some weird button and lost everything I'd done for the past week. Nevertheless, it seems they've grown bored with me, and I guess they've moved on to find some other poor bastard to bother. Let me tell you, whoever you are, you have my deepest sympathies. If it's any consolation, we all appreciate you taking one for the team.

Anyway, since this seems to be working, I might as well take the opportunity to mention that if you want a free copy of The Academy: Making of a ruler, there are a few copies available on: https://instafreebie.com/free/vYPwj

Now don't panic. People haven't discovered the book yet (or this blog), so no need to rush.

Well folks, I better stop here. I don't want to jinx anything by writing too much.

Cheers!

 
 
The Academy book