The Saga Continues

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

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.

April Showers

There’s nothing better than a Canadian spring when we’re blessed with torrential rains while the ground is still partially frozen and can’t absorb the extra water.  They’re predicting floods in our area, and I’m not surprised.  Fighting to keep the water away from our home’s foundations is a common struggle this time of year, no matter how well I reworked the grading the previous fall.  Water will find its lowest point, and if that’s the basement, then I need to figure out how I can stem the tide.  Mind you, this past winter’s thaw and freeze cycles were the most brutal in years, and that’ll do a number on homes and landscaping alike.  I have more than a few repairs waiting for me once this weekend’s wet weather lets up, not least reworking the drainage on one side of the house where our and our neighbour’s downspouts discharge water within a short distance of each other.  Maybe I should take up hydrology as a hobby.  I’m certainly learning a lot about it these days in an effort to keep the basement dry.

At least the wee little dog is getting his daily walks again.  Or I should say his daily sniffs.  We don’t cover much distance — not surprising since he’s about to turn twelve — but his nose gets a workout.  After all, he has several months’ worth of doggie Facebook and Twitter to catch up on.  And with the spring thaw, the aromas around here are just wonderful if you’re a canine.  Not so much for us humans, though, even if our noses can only pick up a fraction of what a dog’s can.

And in other news, Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight is nearing the 90% completion mark, so we’re still on schedule for an early summer publication date.

Signs of the Season

I suppose winter is now officially over, even if there’s still plenty of snow on the ground — our snow removal contractor just took away the driveway marker signs which have adorned our front yard since last November.  I tried paying his invoice for the extra work stemming from our massive snowfall this winter via PayPal, as he prefers, and ended up so annoyed I cursed out loud. Listening to me go on didn’t do much for my wee dog’s nerves. Thankfully, his understanding of human sounds is rather limited, otherwise I think he might end up scandalizing neighborhood canines with salty language learned from his human.

But back to bloody PayPal. First, they held my payment for over a day, then reversed it without explanation, leaving me to mail my contractor a check.  When I asked PayPal why they did that, their customer service responded with a simple apology for any inconvenience. Not a word of explanation.  Argh!  This wasn’t the first time they screwed around with transactions in recent months and left me without explanations or recourse. I had to shut down my online ebook store because they started holding up customer payments, leaving me with understandably frustrated buyers and in one case, out of pocket. I’ll be shutting down my PayPal account as soon as I sort a few things out, since I’d rather not do business with incompetent, useless, thieving buggers who still hold money owed to me but refuse to release it.

Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight is now at the two-thirds mark and, as usual, I expect my daily output to increase now that the end is in sight.  The goal is to have the first draft done by the end of April, then take a week off before preparing it for my editor.

Sunshine Musings

Spring may have sprung and the snow/ice pack is slowly shrinking, but you wouldn’t know it based on temperatures and windchill this week. Yet the bright sunshine is ever so nice. And strong. Migraine strong. But who am I to complain? Soon enough, my wee little dog will be able to take his first walk around the neighborhood for 2019. Mrs Thomson and I took our first on Sunday rather than head to the gym for an hour of cardio. Funny how things can change in the space of six or seven months. In our area, the first wave of home building dates back to the nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties, with newer houses springing up around them in recent decades as large lots were subdivided and patchy neighborhoods grew to merge into a single quasi-suburban area.

Nowadays, a surprising number of those early homes are being razed, their foundations dug out and the latest in construction techniques applied to dazzling new houses worth many times what their predecessors could command. We unexpectedly came across one rebuilt property on Sunday where an older family home stood last fall. It was another sign of the turnover that will eventually claim everything around here dating back to the last century, since none of the houses were actually built for the long haul and become heritage buildings preserved for posterity. I don’t know what that says about modern construction. You’re free to make your own conclusions.

Seeing as how our own house was built in the early 1970s, I can imagine that in twenty or twenty-five years from now, when we finally downsize and move into something more manageable for creaky old folks in their late seventies, someone will buy up our property only to demolish the house and build a mini-mansion on the lot. As we ambled along on Sunday, Mrs Thomson and I wondered whether any future renovations with a view to resale were even worthwhile, or whether we should simply strive to make our surroundings more congenial and not worry about what the property will look like twenty years from now. We didn’t buy this place to make a profit on resale but to live in, and perhaps live out our days in. Not worrying about resale value does put a different spin on priorities, so long as it remains in good shape, healthy, and able to ward off the worst our weather can produce.

Meanwhile, Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight is now past the halfway mark and chugging along nicely. I think we’re realistically looking at a June publication date, but it’s unlikely to slip any further. And I’ve reopened the ability to comment on blog posts. So far, no spam attacks. We’ll see if it stays that way.

March Mildness

It seems spring has finally sprung in our part of the Great White North. And with St Patrick’s Day tomorrow, it’s not before time – so long as I don’t run into any leprechauns asking me if I’d be interested in 50 Shades of Green. And hopefully, even with all the heavy snow that accumulated this winter melting away, our basement won’t spring a leak or two.

You’ll be glad to know that work on Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset is accelerating. I’ll hit the halfway mark in the next day or two. The chances of it coming out in May remain good, though publication might slip into early June, depending on my editor and her availability.

Finally, if anyone has tried to comment on this blog in the last week and been unable, it’s because I’ve had to shut comments off. My spam filter was getting slammed with garbage from ugly little gnomes inhabiting the internet’s most odoriferous swamps. I’ll leave commenting off for a little while longer, until their spambots move on to other victims. However, commenting on my Facebook page remains open.

And that was all of my news. Happy spring equinox, everyone!

A Bit of Clarity

In my last blog post, I mentioned I had creative issues with where Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight was going. I’m happy to report those are now sorted out. Work has resumed and the first draft is now a little over one third complete, after making the necessary changes to set the correct course. But I wasn’t idle in the interval. While I let my subconscious figure Imperial Twilight out, I managed to write the first three chapters of my next project, one which I’ll keep under wraps until it’s done.

I only wish Mother Nature would sort herself out just as quickly as my writing muse. We’re in March and the temperatures are still well below freezing. In fact, so low it could still be January even if the sun says spring is two weeks away. And right now – drum roll – it’s snowing again. This winter has been one of the most challenging in many years. I’ve never seen such a thick layer of ice everywhere and my poor wee dog can’t even remember what a walk through the neighbourhood feels like. I think we’ll all be happy when we can consign the 2018-19 winter to the history books.

Finally, if you’re both a scotch whisky and Game of Thrones afficionado, check your local liquor store for a new blend called White Walker. It’s easy to recognize – the bottle is covered in a white and blue sleeve, and the face of the Johnnie Walker gent on the label has been replaced by that of the Night King. As of writing this blog entry, I can’t tell you how it tastes. The bottle is still chilling in the freezer, as per the distiller’s instructions.