Tag Archives: weekend

Lazy July Sunday

It’s been an extraordinarily wet, rainy and chilly July in our part of the Great White North, but the last few days have brought us weather closer to normal, and today is shaping up as one of those summer Sundays I look forward to all winter.  Of course, the drier weather has a downside when your street is being ripped up for water main replacement — dust.  Every car that passes raises a big cloud, and those who drive like moronic maniacs raise clouds visible for kilometers, redepositing the dust all over our houses, cars, properties, etc.  It reminds me of nothing so much as the dusty dirt roads that crisscross the military reservations I’ve come to know during my younger years.  For those who, like me, remember spending their summers eating dust in the Gagetown training area every time a deuce, APC or tank rolled by, you’ll know what I mean.  That’s what our quiet residential street feels like these days.

There are moments where I wish I could put a spike belt across the street and teach the ignoramuses a lesson in giving their neighbours some consideration by driving more slowly rather than racing to the next intersection.  But their turn will come next year.  Right now, the city is doing the first 300 meters of the street, the part on which we live, however I already see the subtle signs that the city is preparing to do another section next year — the same signs I saw last year on our segment.

I wish the work would be over soon, but we’re looking at another 4-6 weeks, if not longer, before the street is repaved and things back to normal.  And tomorrow morning, like every weekday, we’ll be woken at precisely 07:00hrs by the beeping of heavy machinery backing up.  I can’t fault the guys who are working this project.  They routinely put in 10-12 hours a day and it’s not uncommon to hear heavy machinery still hard at it after supper.

What won’t take another 4-6 weeks is the work to publish Black Sword, the latest Zack Decker adventure.  It’s in the midst of the second round of editing right now, and should come out of that within a day or two, leaving only proofing and final cover design.  I’d say, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’re looking at publication before mid-August for sure.

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And On Labour Day We Rested

As you know, I’ve been subjected to forced renovations in the last while and I’m finally making headway on the reconstruction. The most important and labour intensive chunk, insulating the ceiling, was finished yesterday. Tomorrow, I start on the walls, and that should go very quickly. With any luck, by this time next week, the entire area will be insulated, covered with the requisite vapour barrier and the seams taped down, and that means it’ll be ready for the colder weather that’s just around the corner. The rest of the reconstruction I can do at leisure over the next few months, over the next year if I want (and Mrs Thomson is willing to let me get lazy about it). With that big first step completed, and with Like Stars in Heaven (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 3) coming off a good first week since it appeared on the virtual shelves at Amazon, we decided to celebrate work by hiking on a nice little six kilometer trail off the city’s west end.

We saw the usual, of course: chickadees, jays, squirrels, etc. But what struck us was the chipmunk population explosion. I’d seen a few more than usual around the house of course, and one elected to burrow by the garage, but they were everywhere along the Jack Pine Trail, and not the least bit put out by humans. In fact, a few came close enough to pose for portraits.

Chipmunk1

I also had a staring contest with a blue jay, and I’m not talking about the kind that plays baseball.

Jay1

The early September sunshine felt wonderful, though I’m already seeing changes in the quality of the light that hint at the approach of fall.  As well the morning fog is becoming ever more frequent, another sign that the season is on the decline.

Driving through the city, to get to the trail and then back home, I was reminded that I’d not been downtown in almost five months, after spending the better part of my working life there. I don’t miss the commute one single bit, especially when listening to the morning and afternoon traffic reports. I am indeed fortunate.  Yes, I’m still living the dream…

Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4) passed the three-quarters completion mark yesterday, so it’s looking good to land in my editor’s hands at the end of the month. As for Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4, I’m toying with some story ideas, but nothing definite has come to me yet, though I already know what the opening sequence is going to be (hint: it involves a lot of shooting!). By the way, if you haven’t yet downloaded a copy of Siobhan Dunmoore’s latest adventure, check out Chapters 1-4 or go to your Amazon store.

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Variable Speed and Good Tunes

Some stories are easier to write than others. I cannot quite explain it, but even though my Siobhan Dunmoore and Decker’s War series are set in the same universe, just not in the same era, and both are military sci-fi themed, I still find myself chugging along at full speed with one and at a slower pace with the other.

For example, Decker’s War #3 came out at the end of May, and here I am, three months later, with Decker’s War #4 two-thirds done. It only took me six months from the publication of Decker’s War #2 to publish #3, while it has been 13 months now since Siobhan Dunmoore #2 came out, and I am still not quite ready to publish #3, let alone figure out the theme for #4.

It may in part have to do with the fact that I was a ground pounder in my military days, and not a sailor, and thus find it easier to visualize Decker’s stories. After all, one of the most widely known pieces of advice for novice writers is ‘write what you know.’

I am still hoping to wrap Like Stars in Heaven up by the end of this month and have it out on the electronic bookshelves before August 31, with paperback version to follow soon after. However, the roofers should be doing their thing this coming week, which means a bit of disruption for two days, then the long, painful work of reinsulating that part of the house, and I hate doing insulation. Nevertheless, I have to get it done before the weather cools and heating season starts, otherwise, I am blowing money through the walls and ceiling.

Back to Howling Stars on this gray and rainy Sunday. At least I still have the memory of last night’s final Tragically Hip concert, broadcast live from Kingston, cheering me up. You would never figure Gord Downie has terminal cancer, the way he hustled through a full set and three encores. I will leave you with a link to my favourite tune, which they sang during the first encore last night, Blow at High Dough.  Yes, the video is just a bit dated (okay, very dated), but the song still resonates over a quarter of a century after they first performed it.

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The Hills Are Alive

With the sound of tiny flapping wings.  Lots of flapping wings.  Gatineau Park was obviously hosting a butterfly convention this weekend.  They seemed to be everywhere, such as here:

Butterfly

We also saw ladybugs getting frisky, in public!  Gasp!

Ladybugs

The view, as usual, was splendid.  That’s the Ottawa River in the distance.

Lookout

A lovely 7 kilometre hike to end the Canada Day long weekend was just the right thing for us.  Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind… at least for Mrs Thomson.  For me it’s back to revising Like Stars in Heaven.  I’m about three-quarters done as of right now, so it should land in my editor’s inbox this coming Tuesday.  Then, I need to get back to the renos I started a few weeks ago – while working on the first draft of Howling Stars of course.  I hope all my Canadian readers had a great Canada Day and to my American readers, have a great Fourth of July tomorrow.

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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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Decisions Made

Funny how things tend to order themselves sometimes.  While Mrs Thomson was working in the garden, I spent the entire weekend at my computer, re-working The Path of Duty.  No hike, no hobbies and other than a few errands to get me out of the house, no glimpse of sunshine or breath of outside air.  Contrary to the previous weekend, the urge to work on my book trumped the urge to head for the woods.  Sunday afternoon, around 4PM, Mrs Thomson decides she needs to go to the garden centre for more mulch and asks whether she should use the old sedan or the brand new truck (duh – the truck of course!).  At that point, I’d been working for six hours straight and was somewhat buzzed by it all, so I decided to drive her in the Blue Beast 2, just so I could be present when the clean, shiny truck bed lost it’s cherry to half a dozen dusty bags of chipped tree bark.  I’m glad I did.  With only thirty pages remaining, I had stopped at the onset of the climatic battle to drive to the garden centre and when I got back home, I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to do the last few chapters justice.  There is a limit to how much you can accomplish in one day, and I’d hit that limit.  I think one or two evenings of work, and we’re ready to get a hard copy proof ordered for the all-important proof-reading by fresh eyes.  For those of you impatient to renew your acquaintance with Siobhan Dunmoore and her crew, take heart – we’re almost there.

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Decisions, Decisions

When you’re a writer who also has a full-time job and some time-consuming hobbies (not to mention catching up on your sleep), deciding what to do with your available hours becomes something of a dilemma. With another weekend looming, I’ll be facing it again. Winters aren’t so problematic, or at least last winter wasn’t. With the record cold in the Great White North, we didn’t get a single weekend where we felt like going cross-country skiing – something to do with the -20 to -30 temperatures and exposed flesh, even if it’s only part of the face.

But now with summer almost here, the urge, nay the need to get ourselves into the woods for a few hours each weekend and drain the stress toxins of the previous week becomes paramount. Add to that the necessary chores and the desire to simply goof off, the hours available for serious writerly stuff dwindle fast. I’m half-way through the second re-write of The Path of Duty, and falling behind schedule.   Last weekend, I only managed to complete half of the amount of revising I wanted to do, in large part because we decided that I desperately needed to go hiking on Sunday. And I will desperately need to go hiking again this coming Sunday. We’ve even selected the trail already. I’ll try to do a lot of the chores after work on Friday, so that I can spend most of Saturday on the manuscript, but it never quite works out that way. I’ve been spending at least a little bit of time every day lately reconnecting with another hobby, simply to change pace and keep my mind off work-related garbage, and that too has to factor into the decisional dilemma. We’ll see how this weekend turns out.

I’d really like to be ready to ship a printed proof to my proof-reader by the end of the month so I can meet my July publication date and at this point, I have three weekends left, days when I’ll be inside staring into a computer screen while Mrs Thomson is outside enjoying her garden. She keeps telling me I’m doing this because I enjoy writing fiction but sometimes I think that I’m merely expressing a repressed masochistic streak.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend doing something you like, wherever you are on planet Earth.

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