Tag Archives: writing

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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No Fooling this April 1st

Tantor Media now have me listed as one of their authors, which makes our contractual relationship even more official, I suppose.  You can find my author page here:

https://tantor.com/author/eric-thomson.html

My books aren’t listed under the “Coming Soon” heading yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

I’ll be getting my editor’s comments on Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) by tomorrow, but she finds it my best and best written to date.  She’s certainly happy with the quality of the manuscript.  Once I’ve absorbed her comments and made the appropriate changes, it goes to my beta reader/proofreader (you know who you are) in a week or two, after which, once I’ve finalized everything and through the magic of ebook publication it will be available to all Siobhan Dunmoore fans – paperback version to follow.  I’ll apologize in advance to those hoping to read it via Kindle Unlimited, but I shall not be enrolling the novel in that program.  I’m still not confident that Amazon is treating authors enrolled in Kindle Unlimited fairly.  That means it will be available via iTunes, Kobo, Nook, etc, as well as Amazon (purchase only) on the day of publication, which should cheer those who don’t buy their reading material from the almighty Zon.  If you’ve signed up to my mailing list, you’ll get an email telling you it’s live the moment that happens.

Now if only spring could liven up a bit!  Yesterday’s dump of snow, hopefully the last one of the winter, did nothing to buoy my spirits.

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Spring Sunday Blues

The calendar says that today, March 26th, is part of Spring, yet outside, it’s white, wet, damp and miserable.  Mrs Thomson and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood today instead of heading for the gym (a speed skating competition this weekend is making finding a parking spot at the recreational complex a tactical problem worthy of a special forces team), and it felt like one of the worst days of December in this fair town, where the humidity, Winter and Summer, amplifies the extremes.

You may have noticed that blogging has been light of late, but I have the best of excuses – finishing the revision of Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4).  The manuscript is now with my editor and so far, she likes it.  I’ll be jumping  back into the fifth Decker’s War adventure in the coming weeks.  Its Act I is well along, and as I was chatting with Mrs Thomson over supper today, I realized that one of the plot twists I’m planning was inspired by the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies, which I’ve seen so many times, I can quote lines verbatim.  Funny how such things happen.  No, it doesn’t mean I’m turning Decker into a farce, but one of the leitmotifs of the movies seems to have infiltrated Decker’s universe.  I’ll let the readers figure it out once the novel is published later this year, but I can say that the foundations for said leitmotif were laid in the last two Decker’s War novels.

I hope those of you in the northern hemisphere are having a better Spring than we are, and to those in the southern hemisphere, may your Autumn not suck.

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Good News

I just realized that I haven’t put up a blog post in two weeks, but there’s a very good reason – I was focusing entirely on Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) and yesterday, I completed it. Now come the inevitable rounds of revision and editing. I intend to start the first run through next week, and provided my editor can free up space on her calendar later this month, it may hit the bookshelves by the end of April. Those of you who have signed up for my mailing list will receive an email from me the moment Victory’s Bright Dawn is available for purchase.

In the twenty-four hours or so since I wrote the last word of Victory’s Bright Dawn, I started seriously storyboarding Decker’s War Book 5, tentatively titled Black Sword. It will see Zack Decker and his partner Hera Talyn pulled into a vortex of treachery and betrayal on humanity’s planet of origin, good old Earth itself, and this time the threat will come from within the Fleet itself.  Barring any unforeseen complications, a late Summer publication date is quite possible.

Finally, I’ll be announcing an exciting new development concerning the first three Siobhan Dunmoore novels, hopefully within the next week or so.

 

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Schroedinger’s Starship

I am more of what we scribblers call a “pantser” than a “plotter” meaning I fly by the seat of my pants when I write, relying on high-level plot points, storylines and desired outcomes to guide me rather than planning a novel down to individual chapter and scene details. My mind simply won’t let me do otherwise. Sometimes, it takes me down dead ends, but mostly, it allows me to set my characters free to do their thing and I’m often pleased when they take me down unexpected rabbit holes. It does mean, however, that I’m frequently confronted with decisions that force me to choose between two separate paths, each driving the story or part of the story in a different direction.

I faced one such decision point the other day while working on the fourth Siobhan Dunmoore novel and it suddenly occurred to me that I had stumbled on the science fiction writer’s version of the old Schroedinger’s cat dilemma. Part of the plot involves finding a starship carrying purloined naval stores and Dunmoore lands in a particular place with her shuttle but can’t determine whether said starship is there or not until she gets out of the shuttle and is able to examine her surroundings. Because chores were calling, I had to stop writing at the point where she’s about to disembark, still not knowing myself whether she would find her elusive quarry. At that moment, I realized that not only would Dunmoore and I have to wait until she opens the hatch and disembarks to find out but that until then, the starship may be simultaneously there and not there. Schroedinger’s starship – all in a day’s work for someone who writes by the seat of his pants.

And no, I’m not telling you how it turned out.  Read the book once it’s published.

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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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No Rest for the Wicked

Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4) has been out for six days now, but I haven’t been sitting idle. Quite the contrary. I’m fast approaching the halfway mark on the first draft of A Splash of Blood and, as some might have noticed, I’ve posted the blurb and cover for the fourth Siobhan Dunmoore adventure, Victory’s Bright Dawn. I’ve also written the opening chapter as a way to get my creative juices going. On top of that, I have the high-level storyline for the fifth Decker’s War novel sorted out and ready to go once I finish the two books I’m currently writing. I managed to publish three novels in 2016 and aim to do the same in 2017, which shouldn’t be much of a stretch since I already have two of them in progress.

I apologize for the fact that the paperback version of Howling Stars hasn’t come out yet. I’ve had a few production issues to sort out, but it might hit the Amazon shelves later today or tomorrow ­­ – I hope.

Update 7 December 2016: The paperback version of Howling Stars is now available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/1537515640/

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Musical Memories

Since quitting the bowels of the demented bureaucracy, I’ve kept a bit of background noise, both at home and in my truck, by sticking to a pleasant, advertizing-free radio station. It not only keeps me amused but makes me thankful, during the morning and afternoon traffic reports, for no longer having to endure the foibles and stupidities of people who shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel.

Because of the political garbage permeating virtually everything in the last few weeks, I’ve switched my radio allegiance to a station broadcasting classical music instead of opinions, editorials, and other idiocies. It’s as much a matter of taste as it is a question of health. I quit the bureaucracy to escape a life dominated by high blood pressure and bathing in politics would only keep me popping pills that much longer. In the process, by listening to the soothing sounds of masterpieces from a past that didn’t exude the unpleasantness of Anno Domini 2016 (although it had unpleasantness of its own), I rediscovered a pair of gems that aren’t as well-known as they should be.

The first, a little melody deserving so much more recognition is called “Vltava” by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. It is better known by its Germanic name, “The Moldau.” The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic and is commonly referred to as the Czech national river. I was first introduced to Smetana’s enchanting composition by my mother at a very young age and even now, almost five decades later, it still evokes unexpected emotions. One of the few memories I have of being a small child is asking my mother to play the Moldau. The last movement in particular still touches me in a way few musical pieces can.

The other piece, Ottorino Respighi’s symphonic poem “Pines of Rome,” is an understated musical gem that doesn’t get much airtime, so I was enchanted to hear it on the radio a few days ago. I can’t quite remember when or how I was first introduced to it, save that it hooked me immediately. I suppose having studied Roman history in large part through Edward Gibbon’s seminal work “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” gives it a greater significance in my eyes.

Listening to both compositions, I can easily visualize the influence Smetana and Respighi had on their modern musical descendants, in particular those creating soundtracks for the movies. They’re not the only ones, of course. Gustav Holst, for example, has inspired such great contemporary composers as John Williams of Star Wars fame, among many others, but if you listen carefully, you’ll find that the two underrated composers whose works I’ve rediscovered still resonate long after their deaths.

And no, my life hasn’t been all classical music or home renovations (though the workshop rebuild is finished!). My final revision of Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4) is almost complete, and publication is but a few day away.

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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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A Science Fiction MacGuffin

In the realm of storytelling, a MacGuffin is, per Wikipedia “a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place, or person. Other more abstract types include money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force. The MacGuffin technique is common in films, especially thrillers. Usually, the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act and thereafter declines in importance. It may reappear at the climax of the story but sometimes is actually forgotten by the end of the story.”

Alfred Hitchcock was, for many, the master of the MacGuffin.  Think of the statue in The Maltese Falcon for example.

primary_hitch-thumb-400x296-59428

As a fan of Hitchcock’s movies, I became aware of the idea of a MacGuffin well before I started writing novels, and I try to figure out if there’s a MacGuffin in any given story when I develop its outline. In other words, find an objective that draws the protagonists and antagonists along to a satisfying conclusion without really being important to the plot. However, up to this point, I’ve not published a story with a MacGuffin in the Hitchcock sense and I’d actually say that they’re not particularly common in sci-fi, especially military sci-fi, though one could argue about a couple of well known tales.

Right now, I’m almost 90,000 words into Howling Stars (Decker’s War Book 4) and therefore inching ever closer to the climax and last night it struck me out of the blue – Decker is pursuing a MacGuffin that’s almost exactly in line with the definition I quoted above. It’s a first for me. The realization came as I was formulating his first encounter with the object of his pursuit since I set things in motion more than 80,000 words ago. Of course, Decker’s War isn’t pure military sci-fi, when you get right down to it. It’s a mixture of military, thriller, espionage and sci-fi.

I’m pretty pleased with myself right now. Though Decker’s single-minded quest propels the story along, what he does and sees along the way is the real development within the Decker’s War arc and further details his view of a Commonwealth sliding into tyranny. Thus, even if he never catches up to his MacGuffin, the events in the story and their effects on wider arc would remain the same. But have no fear, he will find the object of his pursuit as early as today or tomorrow, and it will come as a surprise.  Or will it?  Once you get to read it, come this November, you’ll know what I mean.

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