Some Rest for the Wicked

Mrs Thomson and I just returned from our summer scuba diving trip to an undisclosed location.  It was our first time at this particular place, though not our first time in that area, and since it is owned by the same people who run our favorite, we had a great holiday.  The diving was good and the water warm enough we didn’t need our wetsuits.  The food was plentiful, tasty, and filling, and the folks – both the dive and resort staff as well as our fellow vacationers – were wonderful.  I raise my martini glass to all you wild and crazy people.  By the way, this was the view from our balcony…

20190817_084212

The break, though only one week long, was much needed by both of us.  There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in another realm to restore the soul.  But reality beckons and I need to put the final push on When the Guns Roar (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 6) starting tomorrow.  I was past the halfway mark when we left and though I was communing with reef fish and critters, the back of my mind kept working away at Dunmoore’s latest adventure, so it won’t be difficult to pick up where I left off.

Advertisements

Those Lazy, Hazy Days

I just love those lazy, hazy days of summer.  And the fact our home has air conditioning!  This year, Mrs Thomson went all out with a vegetable garden.  And though it’s small we’re enjoying bumper crops of yellow and green beans, beets, tomatoes and of course my favorite: strawberries growing on plants in hanging baskets.  It all tastes so much better than store-bought fruit and vegetables.

Funnily enough, the local wildlife hasn’t been going at our garden, even though we seem to have more wild rabbits than usual in the neighbourhood.  Not a doggie walk goes by without seeing a few, and most days, I can spot at least one hopping across our front yard.  I’m sure the local foxes are enjoying our rabbit population explosion.  The one my dog and I saw the other morning certainly seemed well fed.  And not a bit shy.  The fox and I stared at each other for a few moments, separated by the width of a residential street, before going on our separate ways.  One of the few upsides of my dog’s advancing years is his failing eyesight and hearing, otherwise he might see all the critters who live among us humans and try to chase them.  For example, the other day, we passed within a few feet of a fairly large rabbit who, as his sort will, froze in place before my dog noticed and nervously eyed us going by.

If you’re wondering whether the lazy days of summer are having an effect on my progress with the sixth Siobhan Dunmoore adventure, the answer is perhaps.  I’m not writing as fast as I’d like, but the first draft is 40% done, and that means an October publication date is still quite likely.

Now back to fun in the sun

Wings of Summer

I’ve taken a break from writing in the last few days to recharge my batteries and enjoy the summer.  But it’s a rather sedentary mini-holiday.  Twenty-two years ago, shortly after buying our current residence, we planted a red maple in the back yard.  Today, it’s a towering shade tree with enough room beneath its leafy branches for a rustic patio, complete with table and recliners.  That is where I’ve spent the last few afternoons, reading, watching birds, small animals and insects enjoy our urban glade.  You see, years ago, we decided a standard, sterile, neatly bordered lawn wasn’t for us.  Especially not with three small terriers in the family (sadly we’re down to one now).

As a result, we turned the yard into the sort of woodland mini-meadow you might stumble upon deep inside one of our nearby nature parks.  Shrubs, bushes and small trees, punctuated with all manner of flowers, vines, and other plants thrive in semi-anarchy along our ancient, gray cedar fence.  And since our neighbourhood is over forty years old, adjoining back yards also boast mature trees of every description.  Sitting under our red maple I can easily picture myself elsewhere.

What I really like is that it’s the sort of space which attracts small wildlife, bees, butterflies and the like.  Birds in particular enjoy the bath and feeders set up at the patio’s edge.  In the last few days, I’ve taken countless pictures at close range, though the birds are less shy than the resident chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits, content to pose while taking a drink or pecking at seeds.  I’ll upload a few of them to my Facebook page, so if you’d like to take a peek, the link is in the menu to the right.

At this point, When the Guns Roar (Siobhan Dunmoore #6) is 20% written, but it’ll be a few days yet before I go back to work.  We waited so long for summer, I owe myself and Mother Nature some quiet time away from the keyboard.  Besides, a writer who doesn’t feel fully motivated to spill words onto the page doesn’t bring forth his best work, and our backyard refuge is so enchanting at this time of year…

Happy Birthday Canada!

O, land of blue unending skies,

Mountains strong and sparkling snow,

A scent of freedom in the wind,

O’er the emerald fields below.

 

To thee we brought our hopes, our dreams,

For thee we stand together,

Our land of peace, where proudly flies,

The Maple Leaf forever.

 

(Chorus)

Long may it wave, and grace our own,

Blue skies and stormy weather,

Within my heart, above my home,

The Maple Leaf forever!

 

O, Maple Leaf around the world,

You speak as you rise high above,

Of courage, peace and quiet strength,

Of the Canada that I love.

 

Remind us all, our union bound

By ties we cannot sever,

Bright flag revered on every ground,

The Maple Leaf forever!

 

As sung by Anne Murray

Instrumental version

The Whims of a Writer’s Mind

I mentioned, a few blog posts back, I was working on a new project.  Well, wouldn’t you know it?  Last Thursday, while I was at the gym, sweating it up and trying to work through the project’s next few chapters, my brain instead presented me with the outline of the sixth Siobhan Dunmoore adventure.  Not just a story idea, but the entire high-level plot, enough to fill several pages once I returned home and put it on paper.  Talk about a novel experience. 

I usually get a notion of what I’d like the theme to be or dream up a McGuffin and develop the storyline from there.  I never come up with the whole plot at once and don’t know how this happened.  But I took it as a sign and dropped my project in favor of our old friend Siobhan. 

I’ve written the first three chapters so far — the adventure’s opening scenes.  How long will it take to complete?  No idea.  I’m aiming for a late September publication date, but that will change as I manage to either sprint or end up dragging my feet for whatever reasons. 

I’ve tentatively titled it When the Guns Roar (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 6).  It picks up a few months after the conclusion of Book 5, with Iolanthe part of Task Force Luckner and Siobhan chafing under Rear Admiral Petras’ command.  And yes, her old enemy Brakal will play a significant role.  I leave you with a little teaser — the book’s cover, or at least the tentative cover. I find having one to look at early on helps me focus.

If you’ve not picked up a copy of Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight yet, what are you waiting for?

The Saga Continues

You can purchase the ebook from your favorite retailer via this link:

https://books2read.com/Imperial-Twilight

At the time this blog post went live, some of the retailers aren’t showing it on their electronic shelves yet. Just check back a little later. It will eventually appear. The paperback version is already available on Amazon, and will be available from other bookstores in a few days, as will the hardcover version.

UPDATE: As of 16:20EST on 12 June 2019, it is finally LIVE on KOBO!

Technology’s Circle of Life

I realized the other day that our current home server is eight years old, on its second set of hard disk drives and likely to experience issues any day now.  After all, hard disk drives have a finite lifespan, and the current ones are already approaching senescence.  By now they hold over two terabytes of data — not just the writing and publishing business files, but years of underwater and above water photographs and underwater videos.  Clearly, it was time for a refresh, preferably replacing the two HDDs with solid-state drives (SSDs), not an inexpensive proposition since terabyte-sized units don’t come cheap.

But lo-and-behold, our local computer supply store offered 2TB SSDs on sale last weekend, so I picked up a pair.  However, instead of putting them into our current server’s tired, wheezing old box, I transformed one of our older PCs, which wasn’t seeing much use, into a Linux server with the SSDs.  Since the server software I’ve been using since 2011 no longer does what I need it to, I took on the challenge of learning enough about Ubuntu and Samba to set up the new server with both hard drives linked in a single logical volume.  That gave me over three and a half terabytes of storage space, more than the old server offered.  Then came the data transfer…

Copying 2.2TB of data from the old server to the new one is proving to be a lengthy, multi-day process, especially after a middle of the night power outage and a hang up.  As I’m writing this, I still face another twenty-four hours or so of data transfer to complete before the new server is ready to take over.  Watching the grass grow or paint dry is positively exciting compared to this.  Then, of course, I must run the initial, full backup to the external drive from the new server.  But once that’s done, hopefully I won’t experience server issues for several years, though Mrs. Thomson and I desperately need to go through the photos and videos and delete the ones we’ll never look at again.

And in other news, my editor is almost done with Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight, so I should see her notes soon.

May Flowers

Finally, we’re seeing a bit of normal spring warmth, and yes, the flowers are blooming in our part of the Great White North. Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight is also in full bloom on my editor’s desk as of this week, and since she likes what she’s seen so far, a June publication date is more and more certain.

If you’re wondering about my next project, then I’ll have to disappoint. No, it’s not the next Siobhan Dunmoore. I’m not quite ready to start work on book #6. Instead, it’s another idea that’s been germinating in the back of my mind for a long time, and now that I wrapped up the Decker’s War series with Hard Strike, I can finally slot it into the work plan. But I’ll keep the details to myself for now, if you don’t mind. I wrote the first 10% several weeks ago, when I took a break from Imperial Twilight because of creative issues and will plunge back in later today. I’ll only mention that it’s not military scifi and doesn’t take place in Decker’s Commonwealth or Jonas Morane’s empire. In fact, it plays out a little closer to our time than Dunmoore’s. I’ve titled it Third Eye. Perhaps it will be a standalone, or perhaps it will spawn a series. I don’t know just yet. But if you read Imperial Twilight when it comes out, you may get a tiny hint as to what the title means.

If you’ve joined my mailing list, expect an email sometime next month informing you that Imperial Twilight is out.

Splashing into Spring

Mrs. Thomson and I just returned from our annual spring scuba diving trip to an undisclosed location featuring some of the best coral reefs in the western hemisphere.  As in previous years, we traveled with good friends, enjoyed good times, and dined on good food.  The fish were pretty neat too.  Here is a yellow-headed jawfish with a mouthful of eggs.  No, he’s not eating them.  That’s how the species carries its offspring until they hatch.  This specimen is about 10 centimeters long, and yes, I took the picture.

But now, we’re back to reality.  I’ve begun the process of revising Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight while Mrs. Thomson returned to her day job.  At least the weather did a quick turnaround while we were away.  We went from jacket and sweatshirt temperatures to t-shirt season in the space of a week.  Last night, I even fired up the Big Green Egg for the first time in 2019 and grilled some chicken souvlaki skewers while enjoying a cold beer on the patio. Life is good!

So It Has Been Written

So it shall be done. I finished writing Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight shortly before lunchtime today. Right now, it’s coming in at around 420 pages. But that will no doubt change once I revise the draft and polish it for my editor’s gimlet eye.

I intend to take a short break from writing now, perhaps a week or so, but no more than two, before starting the hard work of revising and editing. With the weather improving and the snow gone, there will be no end of things to do around the house anyway.

Where does it take the saga from when we last saw Jonas Morane? You’ll just have to wait a few weeks until it’s published. Suffice to say, the story picks up exactly where Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset left off, and yes you should read it first, if you haven’t already.