Hard to believe, but we’re only a week away from Labour Day, which means summer is almost over – already. In some jurisdictions, today is the first day of school, in others, it’ll be next week. Looking back, I have no idea where it went. Granted, my month of July was very much given over to finalizing The Path of Duty for publication, but even August seems to have flown by with only a few outings into the woods and one round of golf. I’m beginning to develop the theory that time goes by faster the older one gets. I’ve been in my current job for so long that I forget in which year we did what. It doesn’t seem like all that time has elapsed and yet it’s been seven years! On the other hand, it means the roughly two and a half years I’ve got left before I retire from my day job and become a full-time writer should go by in a flash. But, one thing at a time. Even though summer is nearing the end, this week will be a scorcher and Mrs Thomson and I are planning on hitting the links on Friday. Of course, our annual scuba diving trip to an undisclosed location is also coming up fast. As it will coincide with our thirtieth wedding anniversary, this year’s will be special.
In the meantime, I’m almost done with the first draft of Cold Comfort (Decker’s War – Book 2). I should have it wrapped up by this time next week. Then, it gets set aside for a bit of maturing while I go back to the third Dunmoore adventure. Sadly, my second attempt at it also proved to be a false start, but I think I’ve got the right storyline now. All that to say, I’m still confident Cold Comfort will be ready for the planned end of October release date, while the next Dunmoore is probably going to come out early in 2016.
I never throw out anything I’ve written. I’m running a home network with a server that has a 3 terabyte hard drive array so space is never an issue. With the advent of Netflix in our house, the urge to download and store movies or tv shows has pretty much died down, which means I’ll likely never fill up the server by the time the current hard drives reach the end of their live span and I replace them with something that has twice the capacity for half the price. All that to say, I can afford to save every bit I’ve ever written, and that’s a good thing. You have no idea how many abortive story lines I’ve accumulated, not to speak of my earlier writing efforts which, whenever I look at them, make me cringe (three truly awful space marine novels I wrote many years ago, only one of which, the third in the series, might be salvageable, if I were so inclined). All this provides me with a decent load of ideas, characters, situations and even entire chapters I can mine for a story line that is working out. I did it yesterday for the second Decker’s War novel, retrieving a sequence of events from an attempt I abandoned last year and I will likely be mining the unsuccessful first iteration of The Path of Duty for the third Siobhan Dunmoore book. I suppose that every so often, it just isn’t time yet for a particular idea to crop up in a series, not because the idea is bad, but because it’s too early in the (hopefully) lengthy career of the main protagonist. I’m not a big fan of accumulating physical stuff, but when it comes to words, especially those stored in electronic form, I can be persuaded that a bit of packratting isn’t a bad thing. By the way, I’m just about three-quarters done with the first draft of Cold Comfort. The end game is in sight and Zack Decker is sharpening his pathfinder dagger in preparation for a very personal revenge.
When you work in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy, often the first and only thing you want to do when you get home is zone out in front of the television with a glass of wine, never mind that it doesn’t do much to alleviate stress or allow you to make progress on things that matter more than serving the dreadful lords of red tape. After being quite unsuccessful in getting myself to the point where I would exercise for an hour or two, three or four times a week, both as a way to bleed off the idiocy of the working day and maintain my health, I figured that perhaps by adopting a daily routine of less intense, shorter periods of exercise, I might have more success. So far, so good: it’s been almost three weeks and I’ve spent at least thirty minutes on the treadmill after work each day, and on weekend days when I’m not hiking or playing golf. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Well, it’s the first time since my younger army days that I’m consistently exercising every single day, and that’s quite an achievement for me. The secret to this current success is, of course, routine: come home, feed the dogs, work on a novel, get on the treadmill, make/eat supper, then flake out in front of the television or with a book. It helps, of course, that while I walk in place on the infernal machine, I can watch a good British detective show on Netflix. An unexpected side effect of establishing this new routine has been a more consistent output with my writing. Where I would often go for days between bouts of creativity, I’m now writing every day, even if it’s just a few paragraphs. As a result, I’ve reached the two-thirds mark on the first draft of Cold Comfort (Decker’s War – Book 2) and I’m about twenty percent done with the first draft of the third Dunmoore adventure. So let’s hear it for boring routine – it can make life better.
Our oldest dog, who turned fifteen in April, has apparently developed Canine Dysfunction Syndrome. It’s a not uncommon ailment of geriatric pooches. Call it the canine version of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately for us, it manifests in sustained barking in the middle of the night, for apparently no reason other than to feel alive, get the humans he can’t hear anymore to show they’re still in the house and maybe go sniff the air in the backyard. There’s not all that much we can do about it – at some point one of us is going to have to take some valium, either the dog or Mrs Thomson and I. Considering that he’s still healthy, other than being deaf and suffering some lameness in a rear leg, we could be living with the demented dog for a long time yet. Scratching the yippy guy behind the ears last night, it occurred to me that some day, I’ll likely be just as annoying to whoever ends up being my caregiver when I’m a senile old coot, and that thought did give my patience a boost. We don’t know how long he’ll be with us – I’ve always said that he’s the kind who’ll go fast, unlike his sister who we saw decline over the better part of a year before she reached the end.
I can’t say that the sleepus interruptus hasn’t impacted my writing because it has. It’s a bit harder to rev up the old authorly engines when you’re yawning all the time. Nonetheless, I’m almost one-fifth into the first draft of the third Dunmoore adventure. As with my previous books, I went down the wrong track at first, though this time I realized it much earlier than before. I guess it’s something that I have to do – start telling a story until I can figure out it wasn’t quite the story I wanted to tell, so that I can find the right one. When I was writing The Path of Duty, I didn’t get to the point of realization until I had 110 pages written, half of which I ended up having to toss out, setting me back almost a month. I always know when I’m not happy with what I’m creating: after days or weeks of frenetic work, things grind to a halt and no amount of self-prodding gets me going again. At least I seem to be getting better at not investing too much effort before waking up to the fact that I need to re-orient myself. I was only at page 65 when it dawned on me earlier this week that what I was writing wasn’t quite right, and I can reuse pretty much all of it with the appropriate modifications to reorient the storyline. I suppose I should be glad that an old dog like me can still learn new tricks, even if it takes me a while.
I seem to be doing better than I could ever imagine since I published The Path of Duty, and want to take a moment to thank all the readers who’ve downloaded not only my latest work in the last two weeks, but my earlier ones as well. I’m tickled pink at the idea that new readers are discovering and enjoying Siobhan Dunmoore for the first time. As well, this morning, I woke to the surprise of featuring among the top 100 best-selling science-fiction ebook authors on amazon.com. No doubt it’ll be a brief and shining moment, but it was immensely gratifying for the ego to see nonetheless.
Since success breeds success, I’m happy to say that I’ve just passed the fifty page mark on the first draft of Siobhan Dunmoore Book 3. I’ve still got months of work to do, but the encouragement I’m getting from readers is going to help move things along.
Enjoy your weekend. I’ll be heading for the woods again, to take a few hours far away from the city, my computer and any noise other than that made by the wind in the trees and the little critters in the undergrowth.
I must say that I haven’t had nice four day long weekend like this in a while. Friday I played a fun eighteen holes of golf and for the first nine, I was doing better than ever. Sadly I couldn’t keep it up, but still, this season has seen a distinct improvement in my skills. Yesterday, Mrs Thomson and I went for a nice hike in the woods, far from the noise and stress of city living. After that little trek, we stopped at a favourite gourmet store that had gone bankrupt last year but had since reopened under new management, a fact I discovered only last Thursday. Understandably we went a bit nuts in piling on the smoked fish, jerked fish, smoked nuts (yes….) and other exquisitely tasty stuff. Supper last night was a true delight.
As I mentioned in the previous post, inspiration for Dunmoore Book 3 struck, possibly in part because the newly published second volume is doing so well, as is the first volume, which seems to have attracted new readers. I’m now just under 10,000 words into the first draft, almost 10%, which is good work for a summer’s weekend. I’ll make no promises as to the publication date, but I’ve tentatively settled on a title (which may still change): Like Stars in Heaven (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 3).
Readers may have noticed that I explored different themes in books 1 and 2, and I’ll be exploring further themes in book 3. The Shrehari will be back as well – ornery, expansionistic and as strangely honourable as ever.
Since the publication of The Path of Duty (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 2) earlier this week, I’ve been toying with story ideas for Book 3. I already know how it ends, seeing as how I intend a change in her career trajectory, but I had only vague ideas about how we get there. Seemingly overnight, a story line has emerged in my ever fertile imagination, and I put down the first 4,700 words today. I think I’ll be working on the second Decker’s War book in alternation with the third Dunmoore book over the next few months, as inspiration and ideas grab me, but I think we can’t expect Dunmoore Book 3 until 2016. So far, Book 2 seems to have been well received, if sales are any indication, so that’s encouraging me to get going on the next one.
Enjoy the weekend. Summer’s almost half-way through (or winter for my readers in the southern hemisphere).