Space Opera With a Twist

Month: February 2016

Drowning in Stuff

The other day I brought home all the stuff that had accumulated in my office deep in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy over the last seven years, in preparation for my final departure from the nine-to-five life.  I was shocked to realize that I had so many pictures, certificates, gewgaws, etc that I managed to fill the back seat of my pickup truck.  That’s what happens when you stay rooted in one spot for a long time, I guess: you accumulate, decorate and make your environment cozy and comfortable.  Of course, I now have a pile of things I can’t possible hang up at home, seeing as how we’ve lived in the same house for almost two decades and have accumulated, decorated and otherwise filled up the available wall space.  I swapped out a few of the ‘I love me’ wall hangings in the home office and replaced them with the underwater critter pictures that used to hang in my work office, but that just shifted the problem of too much stuff sideways.

I still remember with fondness the days when, as a young, freshly commissioned and still unmarried officer, I could load all my worldly goods in the back of my Honda Civic hatchback and head to my next assignment.  Nowadays, some of my more troublesome nightmares involve the notion that we have to pack for a move because we’re scheduled to head overseas tomorrow and haven’t started yet.  I generally wake up very tired after one of those nights spent dreaming about filling boxes with all the crap we own.  I’ve promised myself I’d spend a few hours each week over the next year or so getting rid of the stuff we own but haven’t used in years.  Of course, Mrs Thomson and I may disagree on some things, but I have my ways.

In the meantime, I’m within 2,000-3,000 words of the half way mark on Fatal Blade – Decker’s War Book 3 thanks to steady daily progress, even if it is sometimes achieved closer to midnight than noon.

Music and the Stars

I’m an unabashed Queen fan when it comes to music.  Freddie Mercury’s premature death in 1991 deprived the world of one of the finest voices in rock, but the band soldiers on, as they have since 1970.  One interesting fact that few folks who aren’t Queen fans know is that lead guitarist and founding member of Queen, Brian May, earned a PhD in Astrophysics in 2007 and is properly addressed as Doctor Brian May, CBE.  He was also Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University for five years.

And there you have it: a legendary rock guitarist who is arguably smarter than 99% of us out there.  A musical star who is also into the real stars.  For a sci-fi writer like myself, it’s fascinating that one of the musicians who inspires my imagination and whose music helps drive my writing actually knows so much more about the universe I use as a backdrop for my stories than I ever could.  He’s also composed a number of Queen’s hits, including my favourite Who Wants to Live Forever for the soundtrack of the fantasy movie Highlander.

Progress on Fatal Blade – Decker’s War Book 3 has been tremendous over the last little while.  I’m rapidly encroaching on the half-way mark and I am increasingly confident that the first draft will be done shortly after Easter.  At that point, it’ll go to my editor and I’ll get back on the third Dunmoore adventure.  I hadn’t planned on writing the books in that order, but I have to go with the flow and the flow was with Decker’s War.

Morale Attack

Those of you who’ve been in the military will get a kick out of this one.  If you’ve never been in the military, replace ‘officer’ with ‘manager’ and you’ll get the flavour of any large bureaucracy.  Enjoy.


Snowy Hypnotics

I’m not a big fan of winter at the best of times but I admit there’s something hypnotic about watching fat snowflakes come down in thick drifts.  We’re due to get around 40 centimetres (about 15 inches) today and it’s been coming down non-stop since before dawn, so for once I can believe the forecasters.  They’re saying it’ll end up being the biggest snowfall we’ve had around here in a single day since 1954!

There’s already enough white stuff on my pickup truck to make it look like a mound of snow with blue sides (a picture is in my Facebook feed if you’re interested).  The neighbour’s Prius is completely covered.

Sadly, the hypnotism of falling snow is a distraction when I’m trying to write.  My back is to the office window when I’m at my computer, but I’ve found myself turning around constantly to stare out at Old Man Winter doing what he does best.  I’m definitely happy that I’m not experiencing the commute which, based on the reports I hear from the radio, is very ugly.  Needless to say, progress on Decker’s War 3 today has been less than stellar, although since I’m already a third done on a book that’ll come in at around 350 pages, I’m doing good for something I started only a few weeks ago, and I’m sure I’ll be doing some more writing once Mrs Thomson and the dog are sound asleep.

Illusions and Delusions

I’ve gone on a binge of Scandinavian TV shows lately, the most recent being the original Swedish cop series Wallander.  I had watched the BBC version with Kenneth Branagh and was very interested in seeing what the Swedes had made of it.  Of course, like so many non-English language shows, the offering on Netflix was in Swedish with English subtitles, but the acting was compelling enough to keep me watching.  After a number of ninety minute episodes, I developed the delusion that I was actually beginning to understand Swedish but it turned out to be the characters using English to communicate with non-Swedes (presumably sub-titled for Swedish TV), English apparently being the lingua franca when Scandinavians want to speak with Russians, Germans, etc.  But all joking aside, I did notice that there are a number of Swedish words that are almost the same in German (which I speak) and some which presumably ended up in English via the Viking invasions of Britain during the Middle Ages.

As I was watching episode after episode, I began to get the strange feeling that Krister Henriksson, the actor playing Kurt Wallander, eerily reminded me of someone else.  Finally, during an episode where he was wearing aviator sunglasses, constantly taking them off and putting them back on, it struck me: he was the Swedish David Caruso and I was actually watching CSI:Ystad.  It was quite the illusion.

I haven’t neglected my writing – the binge watching comes once I’ve wrung out pretty much every word from my brain.  The new Decker’s War adventure is almost one third done and moving along at a good pace.  As well, my new website is growing with the addition of fresh information about my universe and characters.  This morning, I added a page of biographical notes on Zack Decker, with Dunmoore’s bio coming in the next few days.

Since it’s very cold today (30 degrees centigrade below zero), thanks to a polar vortex, I’m stuck indoors and will spend the day at my computer, driving Decker and his partner towards the turmoil of colonial rebellion.  I guess a cold winter’s day is a good time to watch Swedish cop shows as well.

Announcing a New Website

Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I’ve established an author’s website to which I’ve migrated most of the static content that used to reside on this blog.  Both sites are linked, of course, with the website showing a feed of the blog and as you may have noticed, the blog now shows a link to the website.  I will continue blogging here, but I invite you to visit my new website.  While I’ve got the basics set up and running, I’ll be adding more features to the site in due course.

Check it out:


More Music

Last month I described how some musical pieces have inspired my writing by helping my mind’s eye see the scenes I want to create.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m running full steam ahead with the third Decker’s War adventure these days since the successive scenes that bring it to the climactic second half of the book just keep coming, some of them late at night!  Interestingly enough, even though the story doesn’t much involve pirates this time, the piece that’s been driving my imagination in the last few days is this soundtrack mix from Pirates of the Caribbean.  It’s become the driver for the story from where I’m at just about now until the end of the first half.  As you can imagine by the tempo, there’s a fair bit of fighting involved, as one would expect with Zack Decker.  The quiet life will never be for him.

When will my current Decker marathon end and my work on the third Dunmoore adventure resume?  I have no idea.  If I’ve learned anything over the last year or so, it’s to go with the flow and don’t fight where the characters and my imagination want to take me.