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I See Creatures

I thought I’d share with you the pictures of a few of the many wonderful creatures we encountered under the sea last week.  This seahorse was barely ten centimetres tall.

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This banded jawfish had a head no wider than a five cent coin.

Banded Jawfish

While these tritoniid nudibranchs living on a gorgonian sea fan were the size of rice grains.  The white strands are their eggs.

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Return to Reality

Blogging has been non-existent for the last two weeks because Mrs Thomson and I, joined by a few good friends, have been on our annual springtime scuba diving expedition to warmer climes.  I took the picture below a few days ago during the rise of a spectacular full moon over the Caribbean Sea.  If I ever write a murder mystery set in the tropics, I have my book cover!

It was, as usual, a splendid outing, with some of the best reef diving in the western hemisphere, great company, plentiful food and a lot of fun.  The only fly in the ointment is the local airline in the Caribbean failing to load one of our bags on the flight from our undisclosed paradise to the local hub from which we flew home yesterday.  Unfortunately it contained the most vital (and costly) components of my underwater photography rig.  I’ve been promised that it would be put on a flight back to Canada today, and so I wait with bated breath for a call from our airport to tell me I have a bag to pick up.  Failing that, I’ll no doubt be facing a protracted discussion with two airlines and a few insurance companies, followed by the process of reassembling a rig when some of the parts are no longer in production, something I hope to avoid.

I’ve received comments and corrections from my proofreader for the first third of Victory’s Bright Dawn so far, and it only being mid-April, I’m still confident it will be published by the end of the month.  Watch this space, or if you’ve subscribed to my email list, watch your inbox.

UPDATE April 16, 10:00 AM.  Just returned from the airport with the missing  bag that made a long trip by itself yesterday.  All is good.  The underwater photography will continue.

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Embracing Change Part 2 – The Mailing List

I’ve finally been convinced that it’s time to join the year 2017 and offer my readers the option to join a mailing list which will allow me to inform them directly of new book releases, special offers and other things of interest.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop blogging here and it doesn’t mean I’ll be deluging email in-boxes with frequent newsletters either.  It just means that anyone who wants to receive news about my books once in a while without visiting this blog or my official author website now has another option.  If you’re interested, this link will take you to a sign-up page.

Sign up for Eric Thomson’s Sci-Fi Worlds mailing list

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Embracing Change

The other day, the last of the three Siobhan Dunmoore novels published so far, Like Stars in Heaven, left the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, which required exclusivity with Amazon under some fairly onerous terms. As a result, starting tomorrow, Monday, February 13, 2017, it will join the first two in being available across a wide range of retailers. I was able to remove it from KU two weeks early after a fruitless discussion with Amazon concerning their interpretation of what was to my eyes a pretty nonsensical restriction.

I mentioned in a blog post last month that I was one of many authors who had become less than enchanted with Amazon’s management the KU program and it has been getting increasingly more arbitrary and often chaotic for authors. That’s over and above the issues surrounding the payment of royalties, the prevalence of scammers abusing the program to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, etc. Since the first two novels of the Siobhan Dunmoore series have done surprisingly well outside of the Amazon ecosystem up to now, I’ve resolved to reduce my dependence on Amazon’s capriciousness by removing the entire Decker’s War series from KU at the end of this month. It will remain available for purchase on Amazon, but as of early March, it will also be available to readers who get their ebooks from iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other ebook retailers around the planet. Hopefully, those who enjoyed Siobhan Dunmoore might want to give Decker’s War a try. Though set in the same universe, but at a later time, Decker’s War features a different kind of protagonist and storyline.  It’s also more lighthearted, if not everyone’s cup of tea.

I think it’s worth noting that Mrs. Thomson and I subscribed to KU as readers until last autumn, when we decided we were wasting both money and time by wading through the increasingly dense pile of unreadable sludge on offer, only to find that what we actually wanted to read wasn’t available in KU. And that’s not even mentioning that we were paying to support a program which wasn’t doing authors justice yet rewarding scammers. I think that if I can’t justify using KU as a reader, it behooves me to stop supporting it as a writer and give my work wider exposure beyond Amazon.

Will I put further Siobhan Dunmoore and Decker’s War novels in KU for a 90 period after their publication, 90 days being the minimum enrollment period? At this point, I don’t know. I intend to keep an eye on how the KU issue develops or degenerates as the case may be, and that includes Amazon’s efforts in defeating the many scams without punishing honest authors. But I suspect that once I’m completely free of the unreasonable restrictions Amazon imposes on writers for the privilege of seeing their books in Kindle Unlimited, I’ll think twice about putting any new work at Amazon’s mercy.

Speaking of new work, the first draft of Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) passed the half way mark a few days ago, and I’m really pleased with how it’s shaping up. At this rate, we might be looking for a mid-Spring publication date.

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Author Interview

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by One Stop Fiction.  You can read it here https://onestopfiction.com/interviews/eric-thomson-author-interview

Many thanks to Kathryn Bax and the One Stop Fiction team for their efforts.

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Winter’s Critters

In honor of Groundhog Day, I tried to send my dog into the back yard and find me a groundhog, so I could determine whether or not it sees its shadow. But, it’s cold outside, with lots of snow and my five-pound terrier had orthopedic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago, so he told me to forget about it and assume that winter will last for another six and a half weeks, i.e. until March 20. He’s also not a fan of burrowing rodents larger than he is.  Definitely a smart little fellow.  Would that some humans show such common sense.

I finally took my cross-country skis off the rack and slapped them on earlier this week. Thanks to the freeze-thaw cycles that bedeviled our January, the trails weren’t in great shape, and I rediscovered muscles long thought to have been lost in the mists of time. But even though it was frigid, the sun was shining, the chickadees were chirping, and all was good. I could have instead been stuck in an endless meeting about trivial matters deep in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy. We’re supposed to get some more fresh snow in the next few days. I hope that will improve the trails because I’d like to go out again next week.

Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) is past the one-third mark, and progress has been fantastic, at least in my eyes, seeing as how I’m the master procrastinator.

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The Winds of Change

Turning the leaf on an old year and embracing the new is a pretty good time to make changes in one’s life – the symbolism alone is worth exploiting. Thus, a few things are in the process of changing at Sanddiver Books, the imprint for all of my works. Since July 2015, the ebook versions of my novels have all been sold exclusively via Amazon, so that I could take advantage of the program that places them on the electronic shelves of Kindle Unlimited (KU). Unfortunately, in the last six months or so, many authors, including me, have become less than enchanted with Amazon’s management of author royalties under KU. It used to make financial sense to give Amazon exclusive rights to sell my books. Now, not so much.

As a result, No Honor in Death (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 1) is no longer available to borrow via Kindle Unlimited, though it remains available for purchase on Amazon. However, it is now also available for purchase at over a dozen more retailers, including iTunes, Kobo, Blio, Barnes & Noble to name the larger players and a few subscription services such as Scribd. This will allow my books to reach a much broader audience, especially in my own country, where Kobo has a larger market share than Amazon. The other two Dunmoore novels will follow suit as their enrollment period in KU expires, one in mid-January and the other in late-February. For now, I don’t intend to take the Decker’s War books out of KU since, for some reason, they seem to have suffered less from Amazon’s follies and foibles, but that may change if Amazon continues to tinker with KU to my financial detriment, while publicly denying that there is an issue.

Although the first three Dunmoore novels will have left Kindle Unlimited by the time the fourth installment is published later this year, I intend to enroll Victory’s Bright Dawn in KU for the first 90 days after its publication. That way, Dunmoore fans won’t be unduly inconvenienced by Amazon’s handling of the author issues with the program. After that initial period however, it will join its predecessors on the shelves of other retailers, since I don’t intend to give Amazon a longer-term exclusive right to sell it.

Mind you, all of the above may change by 2018 if Amazon improves conditions for authors willing to hand it exclusive rights in exchange for being allowed to participate in KU, but based on its behavior in the second half of 2016, including the denial that it has made any changes, I’m not holding my breath.  Amazon has shifted the rules of the KU game to the detriment of authors, without bothering to warn, let alone inform us, and so I have taken steps to reduce my dependence on Amazon by declining to keep at least one of my series in KU.

In the week since No Honor in Death has been available for purchase through more retailers, it has sold over a dozen copies outside the Amazon ecosystem without any advertising on my part, thus introducing new readers to Siobhan Dunmoore and her loyal crew. We’ll see how much more of an audience Siobhan finds once the rest of her adventures meet the wide, wide world beyond Amazon, but it’s an encouraging start.

Another change for 2017 will see the paperback versions of all of my novels available through book retailers other than Amazon, since only ebooks are covered by the Kindle Unlimited exclusivity requirements.

And now, with the annual Christmas scuba diving trip behind us, it’s time to finish the first draft of A Splash of Blood before plunging headlong into Victory’s Bright Dawn.

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Sci-Fi & Fantasy Ebook Sale 7-8 January

If you’re looking for some good science-fiction and fantasy ebooks at a reduced price, you may wish to check out this sale (click on the image):

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My debut Siobhan Dunmoore novel, No Honor in Death is one of the featured books.

Enjoy.

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Happy New Year 2017

Count your blessings instead of your crosses.

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes.

Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears.

Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full times instead of your lean.

Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth.

Love your neighbor as much as yourself.

And may we be alive this time next year!

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An Author’s Christmas

I’ve just noticed that another year has flown by without warning ­­– in two weeks, we’ll be celebrating Christmas 2016! And what a year it’s been. I’ve taken early retirement from my day job to write full-time, managed to release three new novels without going insane, and reentered the home renovation hobby (not that I had a choice, but I’m pretty pleased with my work so far). In fact, I’ve taken up the reno torch to the point where I’ve resolved to re-do one or two rooms per year until I’ve upgraded our entire house. My health has significantly improved, as has my physical fitness and thanks to a reorientation of my diet, along with my daily hour of cardio training, my weight is going down for the first time in years.

Blogging will be light over the next few weeks – even full-time writers enjoying the ‘work from home’ lifestyle need to take a break now and then, but I suspect I’ll keep plugging away at the first draft of A Splash of Blood, which is now a little over half-way done. Provided things work out as planned, it should hit the virtual shelves by the end of February.

If you enjoy my books and would like to give me a little Christmas cheer, consider leaving a review on Amazon. You have no idea how much a few kind words mean to an author who gets no other feedback. It also encourages me to write more adventures involving the characters you’ve come to love. If you’ve already done so, thank you!

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