Here we are again — All Hallows’ Eve, when the souls of the dead roam among us. Blink and it’ll be Christmas. Halloween is not something Mrs Thomson and I observe, but to me it always seems to have symbolized the delimitation between autumn and pre-winter. After all, it is just about halfway between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. By the last day of October, most trees have shed their leaves, the first snow flurries have made their appearance, our snow clearing service has installed driveway markers, and our property is prepared for burial under a snowy shroud. For some reason tomorrow, the first day of November, or All Hallows according to the liturgical calendar, always feels very different from today even if the weather is the same. Go figure.
Progress on Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7) in the last two weeks has not been what I might have wished. In part it’s because life intervened. It happens. But mostly, after much cogitation and discussion, I decided on a better way to tell the story, and that means stepping back to reassess progress to date. So it won’t be coming out before Christmas. Late January is now a more realistic date. Oh well…
The fifth Siobhan Dunmoore adventure has been out for almost two weeks now, so if you haven’t picked up your copy yet, what are you waiting for? In the meantime, I haven’t been idle. As of today, the first draft of Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7) is 25% complete. I’m hoping to finish it before Christmas, a very real possibility at this point, since the year is winding down and outdoor activities are drying up, which leaves me with more time to sit in front of the computer and write. Of course, before we know it, our little part of the world will once more fall into a long winter’s nap under a blanket of snow. Where does the time go?
Some days, I wonder who’s in charge. Is it the writer or the main character in my books? It looks like my friend Zachary T. Decker, of Decker’s War fame gave an unauthorized interview during which he spoke (or since this is direct from the 26th century – will speak) of himself, his life and his loves. You can read the transcript on this fine 21st century website:
Major Zack Decker in conversation
Today is the day where Canada and other countries celebrate work through idleness. Labour Day also marks the unofficial end of summer in our Land of Ice and Snow, even though its official end is almost three weeks away, and warm, wonderful weather has been known to linger well past Thanksgiving in some parts. And by that, I mean the Canadian Thanksgiving, which falls on the second Monday in October – not the American version which is less than four weeks shy of Christmas!
However, I won’t be idle today, not after taking a break since finishing the first draft of Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5). I started revising it a few days ago, and have the first 10 chapters done so far, but my editor won’t be ready to receive the manuscript until much later in September. That means publication might slip into the first or second week of October. But published it will be.
And while I was taking a break from Dunmoore #5, I wrote the first three chapters of Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7) just to set the tone, since I’ll be jumping into it the moment Dunmoore #5 is with my editor. Not to forget my forays into starship modelling. If you’re following my Facebook page (and why wouldn’t you?) you’ll know I recently completed a model of the Eagle 1 Transporter from the 1970s scifi series Space 1999. Right now, I’m in the process of completing another starship model from the same series, a Hawk Mk IX, which appeared in only one episode of the first season. But it’s a lovely little space fighter. I’ll post a picture on Facebook once it’s completed later this week.
But back to celebrating work by not doing anything!
If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve likely read a book or two that I’ve written. You may recall my occasionally mentioning some variation of the “starburst, swords and anchor” insignia of Siobhan Dunmoore and Zack Decker’s Commonwealth Armed Services. I finally got around to designing it as a further branding of my military science fiction series. The Navy insignia worn by Dunmoore, Hera Talyn (when she’s in uniform) and other naval personnel is the “starburst, swords and anchor” insignia, minus the swords. Army and Marine Corps personnel wear regimental insignia, of course, until they become general officers and wear the “starburst, swords and anchor” insignia, minus the anchor. As a first design effort, I’m rather pleased by it. Once I’m sure I like the insignia, you might find it included in future book cover designs.
Incidentally, the starburst with anchor and no swords or motto scroll forms the basis of Navy chief petty officer rank insignia, while the starburst with swords and no anchor or motto scroll forms the basis of Marine Corps and Army sergeant major rank insignia. By the way, if you’re not fluent in Latin, the Fleet’s motto is “Through boldness to the stars”
And since I’m on a roll, I also came up with the Commonwealth Constabulary insignia. Its motto is “Let justice be done.”
And in other news, all of my novels are now available in hardcover format.
And it’s live! As of writing this post, the ebook is available on Amazon, Apple, and Kobo, but is still in the process of getting published on Google Play and Barnes & Noble, with more retailers to follow. The paperback is out on Amazon already.
Click on the image below for the links to the various ebook retailers.
My editor has begun her review of No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6) and I should see the first round of comments within days. I think it’s safe to say it’ll be published this month, hopefully before the contractor starts work our our downstairs bathroom and I find my environment less conductive to the authorly arts. I’ve now been instructed to take a day or two of rest, so I can recover from an intense week of 10-12 hour days revising the novel. We’ll see. I’m not very skilled at the fine of doing nothing. Which I suppose is reflected by my decreased time watching the boob tube in favor of reading, although Netflix is being annoying and putting up further shows I want to watch, especially Scandinavian noir cop series, or further seasons of shows I’ve been watching. But soon enough, I’ll be turning my attention back to the fifth Siobhan Dunmoore installment. I’d like to see it out by early summer, as do her fans, I daresay.
I’m pleased to announce that I just finished writing the last words of No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6). Yep, I’m done. Now for a few weeks worth of editorial massaging and proofreading, but there you have it: Eric Thomson’s eleventh novel. It came in at about the same length as the others, meaning a slice above 400 pages, or just short of 110,000 words. Decker fans will learn a bit more about our fun-loving, hard-fighting Marine’s past, and perhaps even get a hint about his future, or at least a possible future. The story picks up several months after the fallout from Black Sword, but it is self-contained even though some familiar names and faces from the previous installment make a return visit, because as will become apparent to those who read No Remorse, fighting Decker’s War is growing beyond the ability of one man and his partner, no matter how skilled and determined they may be. And that’s as much of a teaser as you’ll get for now.
As they say in the ad world – look for it at your favorite retailer in late March.
Last week I wrote about stubborn characters, and since then, I’ve had another altercation with my creations in No Remorse. I wanted Decker to meet with an investigator working a case involving someone close to our favorite Marine. When one of Decker’s friends tried to set up a meeting, the investigator’s superior, a very minor character with no speaking part, unexpectedly denied permission. Huh? That was a first. My characters have never refused to obey me this way before. Of course, it sent the storyline spinning off into an unplanned but so far exciting direction. The mind of a writer indeed works in incredibly strange ways, and that’s one reason I’m happy to fly by the seat of my pants rather than obsessively outline. I’m discovering the story, just as readers will in a few weeks after it’s published. But things are moving. No Remorse is at the two-thirds mark now, and with things happening at an ever-increasing rate, as they usually do at this point in my novels, my productivity is up.
And on that note, back to work. When I downed tools last night, Decker’s enemies have him in their grasp, and he is on his way to an uncertain fate, wondering whether he’ll be able to stop a disaster that could spell the end of peace in the Rim Sector.
As a novelist, I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, meaning I make the story up as I go along — within general plot parameters, let it be said — rather than outline, develop the outline into chapters, etc., etc. I tried it once with the help of some nifty software to keep things disciplined and bored myself to tears. That novel was Victory’s Bright Dawn, by the way. When I attempted a repeat with Black Sword, I gave up early on and returned to my usual seat of the pants writing, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The curse part surfaces when I’ve either written myself into a blind corner, or I can’t come up with what happens next and spend a lot of time staring out the window. The blessing comes when new characters suddenly appear unplanned, or when characters do or say something unexpected, spinning the tale in new and exciting directions. I suffered from both in recent days. A new, mysterious, and interesting character unexpectedly crossed Zack Decker’s path, but in my desire to make something of this character right away, instead of letting it percolate through the story, I cursed myself into a blind alley and lost a day’s worth of work. Then, the next day another character, this one planned, had a fascinating and lengthy discussion with Zack Decker, changing some of my plans. Although this happens with every story I write, whenever my characters take over, it’s always an interesting if not downright enjoyable experience and the cast of No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6) is making me live through that again. What I find really pleasant in such cases is that I make a lot of progress because the words seem to fall on the page by themselves. When I go down a blind alley, and my characters no longer cooperate, productivity becomes painful and slow. And we all know how stubborn a guy like Zack Decker can be, right?