Tag Archives: summer

The Sounds of Summer

Summer in the northern hemisphere will officially arrive twenty-four minutes past midnight on June 21st, but my first sounds of summer have officially been released.  I’m talking about No Honor in Death (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 1) in audiobook format.  It’s available as of today on

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

Hoopla

Recorded Books

The next two installments of Dunmoore’s adventures, The Path of Duty and Like Stars in Heaven will come out in audiobook format later this summer.  Stay tuned – I’ll let you know when that happens.

In other good news, Black Sword (Decker’s War Book 5) is 80% done, so that’s another summer release coming at you.  So far, I’m liking my 2017!

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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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Fickle Nature

Mother Nature’s a fickle one, even at the best of times.  Last week, it was cold, rainy, with plenty of Spring flooding in my part of the country.  For the last two days, it’s essentially been mid-July, where the temperature, sunshine and humidity are concerned, yet the leaves haven’t fully erupted from their buds yet.  But, starting tomorrow, and at least into June, temperatures will be several degrees below the average for this time of year.  Go figure.  I love the heat.  Mrs Thomson, not so much, which means she won’t complain at the cooler temperatures.  Now if it could only stop being so windy!  The May rains have ensured a bumper crop of dandelions and other weeds, but spraying or burning them in anything more than a light breeze is asking for trouble.

I suppose I should start thinking about where we’ll take our first hike of the year this coming long weekend.  Mrs Thomson will probably want a reasonably flat trail, but it’ll have to be on higher ground.  Many, if not most of the good ones meander around ponds, bogs and outright swamps, and water levels are still high, meaning they might not even be open.  If all else fails, a long walk through the neighbourhood will have to do.  At least that kind of an urban hike allows us to gaze in wonder at the massive single family homes around here, most of them very tastefully designed.

Progress on Black Sword (Decker’s War Book 5) has been steady – I’m past the 25% mark – although I’ve stopped writing seven days a week, reserving Saturday and Sunday for home renos, to give my fingers and brain a break.  I’ve also visualized a good opening scene for the fifth Siobhan Dunmoore adventure, but have nothing more than a very high level idea of what the story will be.  Hopefully, I’ll get a starship-sized burst of inspiration at some point.

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Mid-August Melancholy

I have always found mid-August to be a strange time. Summer has run two-thirds of its course, the days are still warm (sometimes too warm) but the nights are getting cooler if not downright chilly, while the later sunrise and earlier sunset become distinctly noticeable. The surest visible sign of mid-August in this part of the country is finding all that moisture coating the car when you get up in the morning.

Though I have not attended classes in over thirty years, I still get that melancholic feeling when I contemplate the beginning of September nearing at high speed. Funny how the imprint of the past still influences the way in which I see certain times of the year. It is as if life is somehow in suspended animation from late June to mid-August, even though I have not had a summer of complete and utter leisure in forty years.

There are still a good two months of golf left, and even more weeks of hiking before the first snows, yet we stand at the halfway mark between our last scuba diving trip and the next one, and at the two-thirds mark between last Christmas and the coming one.

A lot has happened since the last time I contemplated the strange feelings mid-August always evokes, yet some days, all these life changes still seem surreal, and charting the next twelve months is a bit like trying to predict the weather. I know what the general trends will be, but the details? How many books will I write and publish? What will I accomplish on the home renovation front? What other things will I discover in this life free from the demented bureaucracy? I will let you know in twelve months.

One thing I know for sure: this summer has been and will continue to be as active as every previous one. However, this is the first I spend working on my own terms since I became an adult, and yes, I still get a kick out of listening to the rush hour traffic report on the radio, happy in the knowledge that I’ll no longer have to suffer through the commute.

Once I get Like Stars in Heaven back from my proofer and beta reader, sometime in the next week or two, I can finally wrap up the third installment of Siobhan Dunmoore’s adventures. In the meantime, the fourth Decker’s War is over half completed. Excellent progress, considering the previous episode came out a little under three months ago (where have those three months gone!?!).

But, as I look out the window on this beautiful, sunny Monday morning, I can only feel grateful for my life.

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Food, Furniture and the Future

I’ve been happily cooking sous-vide meals for two weeks now, producing superior steak, lamb chops, pork chops, wild boar sirloin, salmon, haddock, shrimp and chicken. Today, I’m doing my first long immersion cooking stint – 10 hours – to produce duck leg confit. This morning, before I even had my coffee, I prepared the bath, fired up the immersion heater, seasoned the duck legs and vacuum sealed them in a bag. Interesting to be preparing supper at breakfast. If this works out, then the next thing will be to make ribs sous-vide. That would be a two day immersion. But not only is the texture and tenderness of the food worth the wait, it also allows me to make the rest of the meal at leisure, since sous-vide only prescribes a minimum and a maximum cooking time, which means I have some, or even plenty of leeway.

Since I’ve started to work full-time from home as a writer, I’ve known that I needed to make my working environment more congenial and conducive to good health. Yet another study said that sitting all day in an office is as dangerous as smoking. I believe it. I can feel it in my back, my butt and everywhere else after a long session of writing, even though I walk my dog every day and try to intersperse work with other activities.

Yesterday, I finally got around to cleaning up a lot of the crap that had been accumulating in the home office over the years and clear some space. That meant I had room to replace an old desk, used as repository for computers and peripherals, with a proper sit/stand table that would allow me to raise it up so I could work standing for part of the day. It didn’t come cheap, but it not only gives me the ability to vary my posture at will, it also gives me more room to work comfortably. In case you’re wondering, Ikea came to the rescue for this one. It’s motorized, so I can adjust the height at a touch of the button.

I’m about one third of the way through my editor’s comments on Like Stars in Heaven, and the fourth Decker adventure sits at almost 48% complete, so even though it’s hot enough in my now updated home office (we have no air conditioning!) that I often work just wearing swimming trunks – the joys of self-employment including a very lax dress code – progress has been steady. I still expect to see Like Stars in Heaven published by the end of August and Howling Stars by early November.

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The Best Laid Schemes

As you know, I’ve been forced to do some basement renovations due to a bit of water intrusion earlier in the spring. Today, the tear down finally got to where I thought it had come in – figuring I’d find a minor matter quickly fixed before rebuilding. But things are never as simple as one hopes.

This is in the basement part of what we call the annex, where one day a four season sunroom will sit. Right now, the annex is only basement, with a flat roof a foot or so above ground level and simple wood deck on top of that, a deck on which I cook BBQ and we enjoy the summer.  It’s a bit like a bunker that way.

It was put in by some previous owner thirty years or so ago and he’d finished it in late 70s, early 80s style to provide space for a laundry room and workshop. I suppose he ran out of money after putting in a fully serviced additional foundation and never got around to building the planned extension above ground. I knew I wanted to spruce it up and bring a number of things up to code and make it more livable at some point, preferably after a new above ground structure sat on said foundation. The water intrusion forced me to act now.

Sadly, taking down the paneling and then the insulation, I discovered that the water was coming through a rotting piece of the roof, i.e. under the deck I just finished fixing to extend its life until we build that sunroom in 3-5 years. And that means the deck needs to be scrapped so the roofers can take out the current roof, replace the rotting wood and the re-roof the thing. After which, since we’re not ready to build the sunroom yet, I have to build a new deck, as cheaply as I can. The current deck was built for us out of red cedar over 15 years ago. I’ll build the replacement with pressure treated lumber and do it myself. At 25 feet by 12 feet, it’s not exactly small so I’ll try to stay cheap, seeing as how its lifespan is expected to be short.

I’ll be completing the tear down this week, while I get estimates for the roofing work and a dumpster big enough for the remains of the deck. After that, I’m at the mercy of the roofers. Until that’s fixed, i.e. the rotting wood removed and replaced and a new roof in place, I can’t rebuild the basement annex.  It needs to be fully protected against water intrusion again.

Fortunately, this came at about as good a time as possible. It’s the middle of July, which gives me plenty of time to get everything done before winter, when I must have fresh insulation in place. I have my full days to work on the project while my editor finishes up with Like Stars in Heaven and I’m over a quarter done with Decker #4.

As Robbie Burns famously said, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley.”

And when they do go ‘agley’ as the Scottish bard so pungently puts it, I’m thankful for our ‘oh shit’ fund in the bank, money set aside exactly for these kind of unforeseen expenses.

Such is life.  Full of unexpected wonders.  Mind you, there’s nothing like an immediate problem to get a professional procrastinator like me going at full speed, so there is a silver lining to that particular cloud.

A good thing I’ve been watching reno shows on TV every evening for the last few weeks (Mike Holmes, Leave it to Bryan, etc).

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June is Bustin Out All Over

Yesterday, we did our weekly trek through nature, this time at the northern edge of Gatineau Park, and though the temperature was 31 degrees Celcius, it felt quite pleasant in the shade of the trees and under a light breeze.  Flowers everywhere, dragonflies buzzing, birds chirping and running through my mind was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s June is Bustin Out All Over from the musical Carousel.  We ended up walking for two hours, covering about 7 kilometres of woodland, open glades and over hill and dale, as it were.  Of course, the rest of the day was spent in lazy repose, our fifty-something bodies having given their all.  As a result, I didn’t quite reach my word count goal for the first draft of Howling Stars, but since I’d written over 5,300 words on Saturday, I forgave myself for only writing 1,100 words on Sunday.

Flowers as far as the eye can see:

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And the remains of a tree:

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But, it’s Monday and back to work.  Zack Decker’s latest adventure won’t write itself (sadly).

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Time’s Passing

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.

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Renewal and Progress

The good weather has finally hit the Great White North, and I was able to take advantage of it by doing my first ‘hike’ of the year yesterday, walking home from work. I hadn’t taken the bus for a long time, and I was pleasantly surprised by how peaceful I found not having to drive in that morning, even if the trip took almost twice as long. The walk home, of course, took much, much longer – it is 10 kilometres after all – and though my pace at the outset was the usual 6 kilometres per hour, about half-way there I’d slowed down considerably. Surprisingly, I’m not stiff or sore this morning, which is good news when you’re no longer in your forties. I do look forward to hitting the trails with my photo gear in a few weeks. I miss being out in the woods, where the biggest noises are the wind in the trees and the woodpeckers doing their thing.

A great thing about walking the route I usually drive twice a day is that I can see things I normally wouldn’t notice as I zip by in my car. It gives me a new appreciation of how nice this city is, and allows me to connect stories I hear on the radio with actual places. There was a controversial place that opened last week on one of the streets I use to commute, and I didn’t locate it until I walked by yesterday, giving me a nice ‘aha’ moment. I intend to do this walking home thing at least once a week, on days where I don’t need my car to drive to meetings all over town, and the skies won’t open up to soak me. Of course, having a bus card, I can always hop on the next one if for some reason walking becomes not so nice. Hopefully, all this low impact walking will help me rid myself of the keg I seem to have developed in my midriff.

Progress on my books has been slow but steady. The first re-write of The Path of Duty is fifty percent done. I hope to have it fully done by the weekend after next, so that my editor can critique the story before we go into the rounds of proofing. I’ve also got almost a third of Cold Comfort written, but it’s been uneven progress. I think with the warmth and sunshine, I’m finding it harder to spend my spare time in front of the computer, and it’ll only get worse as we move into summer.

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