Tag Archives: Renovations

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.

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Choosing Wisely

On this eve of Good Friday, the bathroom renovation is just about completed. A few items on back-order still need to be installed next week, but it’s usable again. And so nice. Modern looking too, compared to its earlier 1974 vintage incarnation. Over the weekend, Mrs. Thomson and I will have the agreeable chore of dusting and scrubbing the rest of the house. I’ve already done my office, which put me a little behind on my daily writing, but progress on my newest project has been excellent.

In the 9 days since I started writing Imperial Sunset (Ashes of Empire #1), I’ve put over 20,000 words to paper, one-fifth of the novel! And this at a time when tradesmen were working downstairs from early in the morning to late afternoon. It goes to show you that when I’m on the right track, my productivity is most satisfying. It also vindicates my decision to shelve Siobhan Dunmoore’s fifth adventure for now and move on to the next idea, since I was getting nowhere. The storyline for Imperial Sunset is already almost entirely formed in my head, and now it’s just a matter of fleshing it out and pounding the keyboard. As this is my twelfth novel, the fleshing out is becoming easier and therefore quicker. I foresee a mid to late June publication date.

And if you haven’t picked up your copy of No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6) yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!

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The Best Laid Plans

As regular readers of this blog might remember, since leaving the demented bureaucracy for the genteel life of a writer at large, I’ve been alternating periods in front of the keyboard with work on our more than forty-year-old house. I had a plan of sorts too — focus on a specific aspect each year, be it for work I’d do myself or work I intended on handing to a contractor. Of course, the moment you inform life you have a plan, life’s response will be: hold my beer, and watch this!

The other day, just as she was leaving for work, Mrs. Thomson called me to witness a growing water puddle in the downstairs bathroom. Turns out Old Man Winter froze a sink drainpipe running inside an outer wall shut. And that latest water damage in the same space, which hasn’t seen an upgrade other than cosmetic since the house was built back when I was still in grade school, means we need to move up the bathroom rebuild by a year or two. So much for my 2018 renovation plans, but there’s no real choice, not with the danger of mold growing thanks to this last soaking. And since this is work for a contractor, not a do it yourselfer like me, I must see what I can do at minimal cost with my own hands elsewhere on the property. Thankfully, we were able to hire the same excellent company that worked on our kitchen and other bathroom in years past. I suppose the price tag is an added incentive to publish more good stories.

No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6) is fast approaching the halfway completion mark, and as you may have noticed, its cover now features alongside the rest of them on this blog. After a brief moment of writer’s block the day before yesterday, the floodgates opened during my daily stint at the gym, and I can finally see precisely how all parts of the story will unfold, which always helps increase my productivity. At this rate, you can expect it to hit the bookshelves sometime in March!

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More Musical Inspiration

As I mentioned before, music is an important part of my inspiration to write, my muse if you like, and a great motivator when I’m procrastinating. I try to give each of my books a theme song, sometimes more than one, when I stumble across pieces appropriate for various parts of the story. It’s hard to predict what will trigger the muse, or what will crop up that meshes well with my writing. Case in point, the theme song for Black Sword (Decker’s War Book 5) has turned out to be a 1982 hit by the band Golden Earring, called Twilight Zone. Once you read the book (it will be out later this summer), you’ll see why I chose it. As far as musical pairings go, this one is the best so far.

I’m currently more than halfway through the revision of Black Sword.  With the greater part of this year’s home reno project done, I’ll be able to give it a sprint, so I figure my editor might see it in a week or so.

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Half-Way There

After the wettest and most miserable spring in living memory around here, we’ve had our first true day of warm sunshine. Summer seems to have finally arrived. Of course, the warm weather means little for my routine, if truth be told. I’ll still be walking the dog if it isn’t raining, only earlier in the day, because he doesn’t like walking on asphalt when it gets too hot, and I’ll still get my time at the gym. This year’s renos have been moving apace, and so far I’m keeping faith with my pledge to renew one room a year. I’m actually quite pleased now that I’ve done the workshop and the laundry room, and have made good progress on turning the basement rec room back into a livable space. The amount of junk that’s been trickling out of the house over the last 2-3 weeks is nothing short of miraculous. This coming weekend, our city is holding its semi-annual weekend of ‘put your unwanted stuff on the curb for others to take’. I’ll be filling the end of our driveway, judging by the amount of old furniture and light fixtures I’ve extracted from the basement. I know both Mrs Thomson and my dog are happy with the progress on decluttering Thomson Manor.

And yes, I have been working on Black Sword (Decker’s War Book 5) every day. In fact, the first draft is over 50% done and speed has been ramping up, as it usually does once I reach the half-way mark. I’ve also been giving further thought to the plot of the fifth Dunmoore adventure, tentatively titled Without Mercy. You may have noticed the book cover mockup.

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Almost There

We’re now within a day or two of Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) being distributed to the various retail outlets.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it will not be available through Kindle Unlimited, but it will be available on iTunes, Kobo, Nook, etc, at the same time as it comes out on Amazon.  The paperback version will  be published concurrently.  I’m probably as anxious for it to go live as anyone, after four months of intense work.  If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll get an email as soon as the new novel is live, so check your inbox over the next 48 hours.  The email will come from eric@thomsonfiction.ca, and will have links to the ebook on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and Nook.

In other news, I realized, 20% into Decker’s War #5 that I wasn’t writing the story I wanted to write, so I returned to square one.  Fortunately, about half of what was already written fits the proper story, so not all is lost.  I’ve been fleshing out the new outline over the last few days, while my editors were giving Dunmoore #4 a final go-over, and this time, I’m telling the right story, one I’ve been planning for the Zack Decker universe at some point anyway.  I’m aiming to have it out by mid to late summer.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Sunday reno work.  Can’t spend all my time in front of a computer typing away, can I?  Besides, it’s either swinging a hammer or a few hours at the gym, and I’d rather finish some of the work I started last fall.

 

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Inspiration’s Capriciousness

Inspiration is a fickle creature – perhaps the most capricious for someone embarked on a creative venture. I’ve been hoping to finish the first draft of A Splash of Blood by the end of this month, but seem to have come stuck at the three-quarters mark. In an attempt to get things moving, I wrote the ending, but that didn’t juice up my imagination. Thus, instead of sitting in front of a computer waiting for inspiration to strike, I turned my attention on the fourth Dunmoore adventure, Victory’s Bright Dawn, and fortunately, momentum seems to be building. I suppose I’ll keep plugging at it until I figure out how to cut the knot that’s tying up A Splash of Blood right now. Based on past experience, it could happen at any odd time, so there’s no point in forcing the issue.

I’ve also been thinking about the fifth installment of Decker’s War, and while perusing a gallery of images for the cover yesterday, I might have inadvertently changed my mind on what the tale will be. You see, I found a perfect image that fits with the series, yet it wouldn’t work with the original storyline I’ve been contemplating. Now, another idea that’s been kicking around in the back of my mind for several years might finally see the light of day, suitably modified to showcase Zack Decker. Of course, with two other books to finish before I start working on Decker’s War #5, I have plenty of time to change my mind, and no doubt my inspiration, fickle as it is, will take advantage of that fact.

That being said, I am glad to finally be back in the swing of things, after a week of post-vacation readjustment to my regular routine and our dear Canadian winter. Today is supposed to be “Blue Monday” the saddest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere, one would think, seeing as how it’s summer below the equator), but I’m not feeling sad. The sunshine, in the absence of wind, felt warm on my face when I went out earlier today and even though it’s only mid-January, the promise of spring implicit in the stronger sun and longer days cheered me up.

At some point, I’ll have to pick up the tool belt again and finish the laundry room, then turn my attention on the rest of the basement. Some of the construction material has been sitting idly in neat and not so neat piles since well before Christmas, ready and waiting for me to find my motivation. But as with writing, I’m not going to force matters. Inspiration strikes when it strikes, be it spinning tales, writing blog posts or paneling walls and absent pressure from outside sources, it’s best to let things occur when they’re naturally due to happen.

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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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The Magic of Hard Work

The basement annex rebuild is chugging along at high speed. The workshop walls have been repaneled with a nice pearl white beadboard that gives it a cheerful old-fashioned look, the baseboards are on, and today, I’ll start putting up the tongue and groove white pine ceiling planks. A couple of days work and I’ll be able to apply the finishing touches, i.e. the window and door casings, the crown molding, a lick of paint on the detail work and install new cabinets as well as a new door.

Once that’s done, all of the tools, supplies, etc. that are piled up in my ‘man cave’ will migrate back to a workshop that’s so much cleaner, brighter, safer and more inviting than it ever was. Once that’s done, I’ll tackle the laundry room, but probably not until January. At some point, I have to spend more time writing A Splash of Blood if I want it to see the light of day before the end of winter (the first draft is only a third done). Plus, I’ll be getting my editor’s comments back in a day or two, meaning whatever time I don’t spend renovating in the next two weeks will be spent finalizing Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4).  And no, I haven’t forgotten the fourth as of yet untitled Siobhan Dunmoore adventure. It’s stewing in the back of my subconscious.

Considering our house is over forty years old and ready for another renovation cycle, there’s enough work to keep me busy for a long time as I do one or two rooms a year. If nothing else, the physical work on top of my daily cardio routine at the gym is doing wonders for my health. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in years, and I’m losing the extra pounds! Our next scuba diving trip should see me able to spend even more time under water thanks to my much improved physical fitness.

UPDATE – My nail gun is officially my favourite power tool.  154 sqft of tongue and groove planking on the ceiling completed in five hours.  I get to start on the finishing touches tomorrow.

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Delusions of Adequacy

As readers of this blog will know, I’ve had to tear down a portion of the basement (that which we call the annex) due to leakage earlier this year. The pros came by several weeks ago to make sure the leaks don’t happen again. Since then, I’ve been rebuilding. In recent weeks (months?), I’ve concentrated on removing all the fiberglass insulation and wood turned damp, mouldy, mouse-poop infested and generally in violation of the building code thanks to a failed reno 20 years ago.  It’s amazing how long rot will accumulate before it becomes visible.

With fresh insulation and vapour barrier up a few weeks ago on the surfaces facing the exterior, that portion of the basement became ready for a Canadian winter. In the last few days, I’ve been rebuilding the parts that didn’t face the immediate exterior, replacing really crappy 2×2 framing (put up by a moron with delusions of adequacy) with proper 2×4 studs and rewiring it in accordance to code, where before it was an incompetent handyman’s disaster.

Take this as a plea from someone who’s not on his first house and not on his first reno: if you don’t know the local building code requirements for such basics as framing, wiring and insulation, put down the tool belt. As Mike Holmes likes to say, make it right. If you don’t know how to make it right, just don’t. Please, don’t. Call in folks who have a clue. That way, you won’t have to fight off the bad karma guys like me are sending out to all inept DIY wannabes as we fix problems that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place.

At least now, we’ll be getting workshop and laundry rooms that are not only up to code, but are also functional and good-looking. By the way, after my insulation efforts, those two rooms are the warmest in our 40+ year old house. I think that says something.  Once I’m done, I might just make the workshop my number one hang-out during the truly brutal January and February cold spells.

Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4) is currently under my editor’s red pen. I’ve not received an ETA on comments, but expect her to be done within the next two weeks. In the meantime, I’ve picked up the pen on A Splash of Blood once again, between bouts of framing, wiring and all the rest of the work needed to refinish the basement annex, but this time doing it right.  Between writing and building, life is good.  Using brain and hands in equal measure is a balance worth achieving.

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