Lest We Forget

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

 

In Flanders Fields

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Remember, Remember the Chill of November

October passed so quickly that it’s left us stunned by a damp, chilly, and downright gray November. It also seems to have made the crew responsible for rehabilitating our street, driveways and front yard vanish. I haven’t seen them since they replaced most of our and the neighbors’ interlocking stone edges and walkways last week. We, along with half a dozen others are still waiting for the paving company to return and finish our driveways – hopefully before winter. Our snow-removal operator won’t like clearing a driveway that’s half small gravel, half asphalt with a two-inch height difference between both halves. Perhaps that’s why none of us have seen him put up his usual edge markers when they’ve already sprung up on neighboring streets. But since traffic cones, signs and a backhoe are still sitting idly by the curbs, I know that at least the prime contractor has to be back.

I apologize for almost two weeks without a blog post or other sign of life, but revising and finalizing The Warrior’s Knife kept me fully occupied. It’s now much more to my editor’s liking and will go off to my proofreader this weekend. The whole revision process has been a fresh learning experience. It showed me the dangers lurking behind the keyboard when an author jumps into a new genre with a different voice. As I’ve mentioned before, this novel isn’t military science fiction or even space opera. It’s a murder mystery set in the 26th century Decker’s War universe. And although it has plenty of intrigue, aliens, and an exotic interstellar setting, it has no fistfights, no gunplay, let alone combat or war. So take heed. If contemporary murder mysteries aren’t your thing, The Warrior’s Knife might not be either. But if you want a good cop story with a sci-fi twist, an engaging protagonist, and a tale that builds until it hits an explosive conclusion, try it.

At this point, it should hit the bookstore shelves by the end of November. It’ll be available at all major ebook retailers (though it will not be available in Kindle Unlimited), as well as in paperback. I’ll email everyone who’s on my subscription list when it’s out.

And now on to the next project….

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Endings

It’s been a week of endings around here, some good, some sad. The city’s contractors have laid down the first coat of asphalt on our street, meaning no more mud and dust, and they’ve begun preparing front yards and driveways for rehabilitation. Whether they’ll manage to complete everything before winter remains open to question. I’m also almost done revising The Warrior’s Knife. After a few intense discussions with my editor two weeks ago, I’m making a number of changes to improve the story and kick it up a notch. As the first of a new series, we’re both anxious that I get it absolutely right. Of course, that means publication is delayed until November, or even possibly early December.

However, our lingering summer is finally over. The furnace came on this week for the first time since spring; the days are getting noticeably shorter and the breeze downright cold. And yesterday, we found out that Gord Downie, the lead singer and lyricist for the quintessentially Canadian band The Tragically Hip passed away at age 53, his brain cancer finally claiming victory. Like millions of Canadians, I was glued to the TV for The Hip’s final concert in Kingston last year, knowing that once the last note faded away, they would never appear on stage together again. Rest in Peace, Gord.

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Life’s Twists and Turns

Exactly three years ago, on October 8, 2014, I published my first of now nine novels, Death Comes But Once (Decker’s War Book 1). At the time I didn’t have much of a clue about anything and had no intention of turning this first foray into ebook publishing into a series, let alone write four sequels, with a fifth in the planning stages.  I didn’t even come up with the series name, Decker’s War, until the following spring. In the intervening three years, I’ve had occasion to revise this first effort several times as I applied the lessons I learned while developing as a writer, so both Decker and I have come a long way.

But no one could have convinced me three years ago that I would walk away from a successful career a year and a half later by taking early retirement and turning scifi writing into a full time career (my fourth!). And now I’ve published nine novels in three years,  and three more planned for 2018. Funny how that all happened. In 2014, I had no idea things would end up this way. Now, I can’t be happier that they did.

So here’s to celebrating the third anniversary of Zack Decker’s first appearance on the military scifi scene. May he keep finding fans for a long time, because I don’t intend to stop writing.

decker1-ebook

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The Things We Learn

This summer, I’ve learned more interesting stuff looking out my home office window than I would have if I were still working in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy. Today was a case in point. With the new water mains installed and connected, the contractors hired by the city have now begun the arduous process of returning our street and hopefully our front yards to their previous state. As of yesterday, all of us on the affected section of the street have had to park around the corner as the workers installed guidelines and dug trenches on both sides to lay new cement curbs, in preparation for repaving our lovely little avenue.

For some reason, I expected the arduous installation of plywood forms into which cement would be poured. Not so fast, old guy. Technology has marched on. They now have a machine that swallows cement straight from the truck and spits out a continuous concrete curb. In the space of one afternoon, they were able to do the opposite side of the street, meaning tomorrow they’ll do ours, and hopefully by the end of Friday, we’ll be able to park in our driveways again. And next week? Paving! After more than three months of dust, mud, gravel and gunk… real black pavement. It makes me hope our front yard will once more be reasonably ready for winter. I took a picture of this concrete curb laying machine. Fascinating.

Watching roadway rehabilitation hasn’t kept me from working.  I’m more than 15,000 words into the fifth Dunmoore adventure, Without Mercy.

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The Sun of Autumn

After blessing us with the coldest, wettest summer in living memory, Mother Nature finally realized she had some catching up to do and is giving us an overly warm, and dry start to the fall season. We’re finally enjoying actual July-style weather, which is passing strange when the leaves are already turning. I can but hope that this late warmth also heralds a later start to winter. The water main replacement on our street is finally done, and we’ve been reconnected to the underground drinking water supply, but there is still a lot of rehabilitation work to come – new curbs, repaving the street, and fixing our front yards and driveways to return them to their original state, etc. I hope the city’s contractors will complete the task before the first snows. I’ll be glad when it’s over. The constant dust, which reminds me so much of life in an Army training area (the Lawfield Road corridor in Gagetown, for example!), won’t be missed, least of all by my sinuses. That’s the one disadvantage of working from home. I get to experience everything in real time.

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Author Unplugged

Last week, Mrs Thomson and I took a few days off from our respective travails and indulged in an impromptu visit to one of our favorite places so we could leave the surface behind and blow bubbles over pristine coral reefs.  It was our first time there during the off-season (we usually go in the spring), and we experienced the eerie quiet of a place less than one quarter full.  But the lack of visitors meant the staff could pamper us all the more, and we were glad once more to see faces that have become very familiar over the years.  The water was almost bathtub warm and I dove without a wetsuit all week.  And, of course, we over-ate, over-slept and generally indulged in the gentle art of farniente.

In a departure from my usual underwater pastime, I shot video exclusively and took not a single picture.  It was just as well that I did, since we encountered so many nurse sharks that I lost count.  This fine specimen bade us a fond farewell on our last dive, almost precisely beneath the boat.

Nurse Shark

The image is an extract from the video I shot of the encounter.  You can watch said video on You Tube at the following link Nurse Shark.  And yes, in case you’re wondering after seeing the video, it passed within a few inches of me, close enough to touch.

I even managed to write a whole chapter of Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5) on the airplane while flying to our destination, but couldn’t muster the energy to do more.  I’ll be getting back to it shortly.

And now to enjoy the weirdly late summer’s warmth we’re experiencing in my portion of the Great White North.

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Filed under Siobhan Dunmoore Naval Science Fiction Series, Underwater Marvels

A Passing

I just found out that one of science-fiction’s greatest authors, Dr Jerry Pournelle passed away today at the age of 84.    He was without a doubt a giant in his field, an intellect that outstripped almost every other writer of his time, and a storyteller without peer.  Dr Pournelle was also the one who introduced me (and no doubt every other mil scifi author writing today) to the military science fiction genre with his John Christian Falkenberg stories.  The very first mil scifi story I read as a teen was his novel West of Honor.  From that day on, I was hooked.  Pournelle’s CoDominium universe became a major influence on my scifi reading tastes, and decades later, on my own writing.  Without Dr Pournelle’s influence, Zack Decker and Siobhan Dunmoore wouldn’t exist, and neither would Eric Thomson.

Rest in peace, sir.

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A New Direction

I’ve just finished the first draft of my tenth novel, the opening installment of a new series I’ve decided to call Quis Custodiet, taken from the Latin Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes, which means “Who will guard the guards themselves?”  It’s a question attributed to the Roman poet Juvenal in his work Satires, and is nowadays used generally to consider the embodiment of the philosophical question as to how power can be held to account.

This new series is a spin off from Decker’s War and features Commonwealth Constabulary Chief Superintendent Caelin Morrow, the head of the Rim Sector’s Professional Compliance Bureau (PCB). The PCB is the Constabulary’s internal affairs branch, handles Armed Services cases requiring outside investigators, and takes care of political corruption matters that can’t be entrusted to regular law enforcement agencies. No one likes the PCB, which is also known, for obvious reasons, as the “Firing Squad,” but everyone knows they’re the last of the incorruptibles. When the PCB charges people, you can be sure they’re guilty and when they clear you, no one will doubt your innocence.

This is not military science-fiction, but a police procedural/murder mystery series set in the 26th century.  However, Morrow and her investigators will often find themselves embroiled in matters involving the politics surrounding the Commonwealth Armed Services, including Decker and Talyn’s own branch, Naval Intelligence. The first installment, which I’ve now titled The Warrior’s Knife, occurs in parallel to the Decker’s War story Howling Stars and features a guest appearance by Commander Hera Talyn, operating without her usual partner Zack Decker, as the prime suspect in the murder of a trade envoy from the alien Shrehari Empire. Before long Chief Superintendent Morrow will find herself pulled into the murky universe of covert operations where Talyn’s ruthlessness and dedication to the Fleet reign supreme.  Needless to say, the conflict between PCB incorruptibility and Naval Intelligence’s views that the ends often justify the means will be most interesting.

The Warrior's Knife

In a departure from my nine previous novels, this one is written in the first person, meaning the entire story is told by Caelin Morrow herself.

As usual, the first draft is about to undergo a stringent revision before landing on my editor’s desk, so don’t expect to see it before some time in November, likely later in the month rather than earlier.

I’ve not neglected Siobhan Dunmoore.  Outlining of Without Mercy is almost done, and I will be working on the first draft shortly, though I don’t see it hitting the virtual bookshelves before 2018.

 

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The Final Sounds of Summer

The third Siobhan Dunmoore adventure Like Stars in Heaven has been published in audiobook format.  You can get it here:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

Will further adventures come out in audiobook?  I don’t know.  When I signed the audiobook publication contract with Tantor Media, only the first three Dunmoore novels had been published in ebook & paperback formats.  I’d like to see the latest installment, Victory’s Bright Dawn and the next books in that series eventually turn into audiobooks, as well as the entire Decker’s War compendium, but we shall have to wait and see.

In the meantime, our rainy summer that wasn’t quite a summer is delivering another deluge from the skies this morning, turning our construction zone street into a muddy quagmire.  There’s no longer any drainage and there won’t be until they put in the new storm drains and repave.  I’m glad I managed to walk the dog before the heavens opened up — again!  Here’s the view from my office window.

Street 22AUG17

If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of Black Sword (Decker’s War Book 5), here’s a bit from a kind reviewer:

Absolutely excellent!! […] An adventure that will keep you up all night to find out what happens.

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