Space Opera With a Twist

Month: May 2016

A Walk in the Woods

Today, we had our first walk in the woods for 2016. Nothing too complicated, a simple 1.5hr hike in the Gatineau Park. It was also the first hike since the day when I decided to take early retirement and focus on writing. What a difference! I can still recall my state of mind late last summer, on this very same trail, when I knew that the next day would see me back in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy, fending off dragons and battling orcs. It was nice to simply enjoy nature today, without worrying about work. My commute tomorrow morning will be measured in meters and my boss will be looking back at me from the mirror when I brush my teeth.

I took this picture along the Lauriault Trail, just above the waterfall.  It was just cool enough to be comfortable on an otherwise sweltering day, and the bugs didn’t bother us too much.


Fatal Blade has been out for five days now and seems to be doing well. In another two months, Like Stars in Heaven will join it.  At the current rate of progress, I should have the manuscript in my editor’s hands by the end of June.  Perhaps I’ll be able to celebrate the one year anniversary of my decision to retire with the publication of the fourth Decker’s War adventure this coming November.

Decker Rides Again!

Fatal Blade (Decker’s War Book 3) has finally hit the virtual bookshelves at Amazon.  The paperback version will be available later this week as well.  My editor said that, in her opinion, it’s the best Zack Decker adventure to date!  As with all my books, it is available to read for free by Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The link below will take you to your Amazon store.

Fatal Blade

I’ve begun story-boarding the next Decker’s War novel, titled Howling Stars and hope to have it out before the end of 2016.  In the meantime, I’ll wrap up Like Stars in Heaven.  I can sense Siobhan Dunmoore getting impatient at having taken a backseat to Decker and the main, if not climatic action is just a chapter or so away.


Done (Hopefully!)

After a week of 12 hour days, Fatal Blade (Decker’s War Book 3) is done.  I’ve just sent the manuscript to my editor for one final sanity check after incorporating her comments, getting it proofread and making sure the last little bumps in the prose are truly and well smoothed out.  Hopefully, it won’t take her more than a few days to read and give me the go-ahead for publication.

Fatal Blade

I feel strangely at loose ends right now, as if I’m having trouble giving myself the rest of Saturday off after working seven days a week for so long, the writing and editing interspersed with home maintenance and renovation tasks (of which there is still an impressive quantity).  Perhaps, this being the Victoria Day long weekend and thus the official start of the warm season in our part of Canada, we might go for a hike in the woods tomorrow or holiday Monday.  But I know the temptation to get back to Like Stars in Heaven will be too strong to resist for long, and the ideas for Decker’s fourth adventure are already struggling to escape.
When the boundaries between hobby and job blur, as they have for me, it’s sometimes difficult to find an ideal balance, but I wouldn’t change my life for anyone else’s right now.  I’m still living the dream.

Alternating Author

All parts of the process to produce a novel aren’t created equal. I thoroughly enjoy imagining the story and writing the first draft, I even enjoy the first round of editing when the rough spots get sanded down and the final product begins to emerge. The part I like least is the one I’m going through right now with Fatal Blade, the final bit of polishing before proofreading. By now, I’ve run through the entire novel three times and I’m getting impatient at finally publishing…yet I’m still finding a few little bumps in the prose that need adjusting, so there’s no skipping to the next step. Of course, Like Stars in Heaven is still waiting for me and the list of things to do around the house keeps lengthening, so this week I’ve tried something different – alternating between work on Fatal Blade and repairing the deck. I’d do a chapter of the book, then go outside and tear out a rotting plank, replace it with a new one, come back in, do a chapter of the book, go outside and replace a rotting plank, and so forth, alternating between two very different tasks (interspersed with the usual, i.e. walking the dog, running errands, etc). It’s increased my productivity to the point where I’m working more hours per day than I used to when I still had an office job. At this rate, I’ll have to put out the ‘dumpster in a bag’ over the weekend because I’ve piled up enough old lumber to fill it. It means I’ll need to get another one for the basement reno, which has languished now that it’s warm enough to do the outside work, but seeing visible progress with the to-do list is satisfying, especially since I’ve been able to combine that work with finalizing Fatal Blade and not get sick and tired of doing either task.

Progress is good – staying fresh and motivated is even better.

Time Flows

One of my favourite groups is The Alan Parsons Project, a progressive rock band that graced the charts between 1975 and 1990 (yes, I’m dating myself again). I have all of their albums. Arguably, their best work is The Turn of a Friendly Card from 1980. It’s certainly the one I listen to the most. Arguably again the best track on that album is “Time”. I’ve had its refrain going through my head in the last few days, perhaps because I’m seeing the effects of time up close around the place Mrs Thomson and I have called home for the last nineteen years:

But time / Keeps flowing like a river / To the sea

Many years ago, after we had our home’s original deck in the backyard replaced – I can’t remember exactly when, but I’d say almost fifteen years – I built a pergola out of red cedar on one side, to provide some shade from the afternoon sun and give our honeysuckle plants something to grow on. I noticed a distinct deterioration in the structure over the last year or so and this winter, the winds caused some pieces to break off outright. It was time for the pergola to go. A few days ago, Mrs Thomson and I, crowbar, hammer and saw in hand, demolished what I’d so lovingly built and not before time.

The wood had rotted to a degree I’d not even imagined and one of the four metal post supports had completely rusted through, no doubt helped by my male dogs using said post as aiming point. It had been holding up only because of the posts on either side of it. One strong gust of wind, I suspect, and I’d have been picking up debris and not doing an orderly deconstruction.

Sadly, that’s not the end of it. The deck itself needs partial replacing. Several of the planks, also western red cedar, have begun rotting but we need to stretch our deck’s life out by another 2-3 years until we’re ready for the major addition we’ve planned. So I’ll be spending the next few days tearing out the bad planks and replacing them with less expensive pressure treated lumber. Considering that each plank is held down by sixteen nails (after all, they’re 12 feet long), I’ll be getting a good workout pulling the old nails and hammering in the new ones. I’m not looking forward to it, but like the song says, time keeps flowing and I’ve no choice but to flow with it. The only place were one can fight the passage of time is in science-fiction and even then, it rarely works out well.

If the deck were the only project for 2016, it might not be so bad, but it’s only one among many. Step by step, I guess. One task at a time.

At least my main job, writing novels, is still moving along well. I’m about one third done incorporating my editor’s comments for Fatal Blade. We had a good discussion yesterday about the opening pages where she convinced me that the prologue I’d added during the first re-write was not only unnecessary but detracted from the flow. Of course, I’ve downed tools on Like Stars in Heaven until Fatal Blade goes through the final round of editing, but I was two-thirds done with the first draft as of last week.

April Showers, May Flowers

So far, May, even though in its infancy, has been a productive month. My editor is done with Fatal Blade and I’ll be incorporating her comments over the next few days.  It’ll be on the electronic bookshelves, ready for Decker fans, in a few short weeks.

I’m two-thirds done with the first draft of Like Stars in Heaven. Although still unspectacular, progress is steady, and if the past is any guide, it will begin to increase exponentially as I get closer to the explosive action that triggers the story’s climax. The draft should be ready for my editor by early June.

More interestingly, I was interviewed this week by Brandon of Build Your Author Career via Skype about my trek from corporate drone to full-time author. He’ll be publishing a transcript of the interview on his website and I’ll make sure to post a link here the moment he does. Thanks, Brandon. It was a lot of fun!

The gas grill and my Big Green Egg got their spring cleaning this week and both are now ready to help me create culinary sensations with flame and smoke, something I’ve been looking forward to as the weather slowly grows warmer. Of course, the list of chores around the property grows longer as well. Good thing my new job allows me as much personal time during the day as I like, just as long as I put the requisite effort into my writing, which, you may rest assured, I am. At this rate, I think a fourth Decker’s War adventure for late 2016 is becoming a distinct possibility.