Of Mice and Indoor Plumbing

One of the most important inventions of the modern era can also be the most destructive.  No, I’m not talking about nuclear power or the internal combustion engine.  I’m talking about indoor plumbing.

Yesterday, I got up at my usual time, just after six thirty in the morning and heard a sound like static coming from downstairs.  Had the TV or the radio come on by itself?  The moment I walked into the kitchen, I knew we had a much bigger problem on our hands.  The hissing sound was that of water escaping from somewhere near the kitchen sink.  The floor was awash and as I rushed into the basement to turn of the main water supply valve, I found our finished basement, complete with TV nook, hobby workbench and an extensive collection of scale models under a sustained rain shower from various parts of the ceiling.  The leak must have started in the middle of the night for so much water to come from what turned out to be pinprick holes and it had to be one of the few nights when I didn’t have to get up at oh-dark-thirty.

With the main valve shut off and Mrs Thomson roused from her sleep, we began recovery operations — she in the kitchen and I in the greater disaster area downstairs.  Thankfully, I’ve owned a pair of wet/dry shop vacs for years, and was able to suck up many liters of water in a very short space of time.  With buckets under the most active drip holes, I turned to rescuing some of my prized models.  Hobby grade basswood and water don’t get along.

Once things were under control, I tracked down the source of the leak, isolated it from the house’s plumbing system and turned the main back on.  A mouse had chewed through the dishwasher’s water supply hose — a hose sheathed in braided metal no less.  As you might imagine, I declared war on said mouse and the house is now replete with various traps designed to immobilize and kill the destructive little critter.

Fortunately, we had things under control within the hour and mostly dry by the end of the day, but the damage was done.  Our lower kitchen cabinets took a beating, which means we’re looking at another remodel in the next few years, even though our current kitchen is only ten years old.  The drywall of basement ceiling suffered in places as did a number of my handmade scale models.  All that means I’d better keep writing so we can sink more money into the house.

Water is vital to life and indoor plumbing is a blessing, but there’s no denying that it can be destructive.  I shudder to think what would have happened if we’d been away for a few days and I hadn’t bothered to shut off the main water supply valve as I normally do.  And as for tiny rodents with teeth capable of chewing through all sorts of tough materials…

In the meantime, I’m slowly progressing on Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight.  The first draft is just over 15% written.

Advertisements

Mapping the Story

While my editor is pushing through with Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7), I’ve been writing Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight and this afternoon, I hit a point where to continue, I needed a schematic map of the wormhole network connecting Lyonesse to the wider Coalsack Sector so I didn’t trip all over the story.  If you’ve read Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset, you’ll know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, why not?

Thus, today, instead of writing, I designed.  MS Powerpoint might not be the first tool one thinks of for producing a network schematic, but it did the trick.  I deliberately stuck to making it a partial map of the Coalsack Sector, because a full map would be overwhelming – both for me and you.  All the important star systems and the links between them are there.  If you’d like to see what it looks like, I uploaded a pdf version – just click on the link:

Wormhole Network – Coalsack Sector (Partial)

I’ll probably include it in Imperial Twilight as an appendix, but since my books aren’t printed in color, I’ll need to revise the scheme just a little so it’s easy to differentiate the five types of star systems in black and white.

As for when Hard Strike will come out, that still depends on my editor.  But it’ll be by the end of this month.  All of the administrative niceties are geared up. I just need to finalize the manuscript.

New Year, New Challenges

Mrs. Thomson and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to an undisclosed scuba diving destination after two weeks without thought of work, writing, or anything other than emptying the mind and recharging the body.  As usual, I found it took at least a week for me to accept the notion that doing nothing other than read, watch Netflix, or laze about (when not diving) were acceptable uses of my time.  It didn’t take anywhere near that long for the local mosquitoes to accept me as their preferred meal!  But now it’s back to reality, snow, ice, cold weather, and complaining about it all in good old Canadian style.

To my surprise, my editor is already deep into working on Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7), and says she’ll get back to me with her comments sometime next week, so it’s definitely coming out this month.  I suppose I should buckle down and see that the various formats, covers, and sales channels are ready.  But fear not, work on Imperial Twilight has begun.  I worked on the outline during the trip home using a good old notebook and pen.  The way I see the Ashes of Empire universe unfolding, with its multiple threads, it’ll take a bit more planning and a bit less seat of the pants writing.  But the scope it gives me to tell stories!

And now, back to work.  I wish everyone a prosperous 2019.  As a mischievous sage once said, ‘May you get what you want, not what you deserve.’

Winter is Here

It seems like Mother Nature decided to give up on autumn in our part of the Great White North a few weeks early this year — it’s only mid-November and we’re already in winter’s frigid grip.  Fifteen centimeters of snow fell last Thursday evening into Friday and this morning, it’s minus thirteen degrees Celsius although there’s a lovely ice fog blurring the sunshine.

At least productivity has been good lately.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about needing to reassess where I was going with Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7).  I’m happy to say taking a step back improved the story line considerably and I’m now almost caught up again — yesterday I passed the two-thirds completion mark.  Since I’m taking a break from writing for a while over Christmas and New Year’s, I expect to send the manuscript to my editor in early January, when she’s back after her own holidays.  Then, I intend to start work on Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight, the first of a planned 3-4 novels in 2019, which will include a sixth Siobhan Dunmoore and a second Quis Custodiet.

A New Series is Born

Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset, the first in a new series has hit the bookshelves.  Set in the same universe as my other series, but a thousand years after Decker’s War, it tells the story of a desperate attempt to stave off the darkness threatening to smother humanity’s interstellar empire and send civilization back to the Stone Age.

Imperial Sunset Ad

You can get the ebook via this link: Imperial Sunset

And in paperback via this link: Imperial Sunset

If your favorite retailer isn’t yet listed on the Books2Read page, it will be soon so check back later.  The hardcover version will also be available within a day or two.

 

A Rising Tide

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that Siobhan Dunmoore was whispering in my ear again after a long silence. Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t so much a whisper as a scream. In the last seven days, I’ve written a full quarter of Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5). That’s around 100 pages! And I’ve done so while also revising Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset. I’m not sure what caused this sudden surge of productivity, but I’m going with it. If I can sustain the pace, Without Mercy will be ready for my editor in late June or early July, and that could well mean an August publication date, or for those who keep score, two books this summer, what with Imperial Sunset due to hit the shelves in late June or early July. If I can sustain the pace.  Sometime in the next week or so, I’ll add a synopsis to the Without Mercy page, but you can already see a mock up of the book cover.

And I’m Once Again Done

I finished the first draft of Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset today.  The first draft clocks in at just over 400 pages, but that number will vary thanks to the many rounds of revision I and my editor will make over the next couple of weeks. As I previously indicated, this new series will not consist of standalone adventures like my others, but will form a multi-volume saga covering a large cast of characters and a long period of time.

And while I’m not working on Imperial Sunset, I will be turning my attention back on Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5).  Hopefully, the storyline rethink will work this time.  I know there are a lot of fans who want to read more of her adventures.  In the meantime, you can check out the Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset page here: Imperial Sunset.

Idle Hands are the Devil’s Workshop

It’s been a busy week in Thomsonland.  The first draft of Imperial Sunset (Ashes of Empire #1) is almost 90% complete, which is no mean feat, as my carpal tunnel flareup can testify.  And — drum roll please — Siobhan Dunmoore has started whispering in my ear, so once Imperial Sunset is with my editor, I’ll return to Without Mercy, but with a different storyline than the one I’d originally envisaged.  All things going well, we might see it hit the shelves this autumn.  No promises, of course.  A writer’s muse is one of the most fickle things ever and mine seems to take pleasure in messing with my inspiration..  She sends me more ideas than I can deal with, then vanishes as I’m part way through a draft.  But not right now.  I’m even ignoring spring’s glory outside in a concerted effort to finish Imperial Sunset, except for my dog’s daily walk.  He refuses to let me off the hook and for that, I’m thankful.  Now if I could only stop the flow of words come bedtime.  Mrs Thomson finds my clacking the computer keyboard after ten in the evening a bit much.

Winter – Redux

Another Spring, another deep freeze.  The calendar might say April, but the thermometer says January.  What the 90 kilometer per hour wind gusts say is something else altogether, but our neighbourhood survived the last thirty-six hours with no visible damage, unlike others.  I’m sure the migrating Canada geese we’ve seen overhead for the last week or so are mighty confused.  My dog certainly seems to be.

At least the bathroom renos are just about done.  The final fixture came in today, so all that remains is two small finishing touches.  A big shout-out to the folks at Distinctive Bathrooms and Kitchens for a great job.  I can’t recommend them enough.  And since I like hanging around the tradesmen when they’re working so I can watch and I’m not shy about asking questions, I learned a lot of little tricks and techniques I’ll find helpful when I’m doing my own work.  I owe a big thanks to all of them for patiently explaining their work and indulging my enthusiasm.

And when it comes to my own trade, that of storyteller, I’m happy to report Imperial Sunset (Ashes of Empire #1) hit  the one-third, or 33.3% completion mark today.  That’s almost 140 pages or 11 chapters in two and a half weeks.  Not too bad, if I say so myself.