A few minutes ago, I wrote ‘The End’ at the bottom of the final page of Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5). It’s the first draft, of course, so there’s plenty of work still left, but finally getting it done, eight months behind schedule, is a nice feeling. As with the others in the series, it comes in at about 400 pages in the print edition. I’ve promised myself a weekend of relaxation, far from the computer and the art of writing, before plunging back into things. And just so I keep that promise, I’ve given myself another spaceship model kit to build over the weekend, though not one from the Siobhan Dunmoore or Decker’s War universe, but from a vintage TV science-fiction series I still remember with nostalgia. It, more than anything else, got me into imagining my own stories. I’ll put up a picture of the model once it’s built.
What comes after Without Mercy? If you’ve been paying attention to my blog and website, you’ll have noticed the book cover for the next Decker’s War adventure, titled Hard Strike has been posted. That’s what I intend to work on next, before plunging into Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight, the sequel to my most recently published novel.
But for at least the next few days, I’m stepping away from writing to enjoy life a little.
As we do every now and then, Mrs Thomson and I took a week off from our real lives to go scuba diving at an undisclosed location. This time, we spent a week on a liveaboard dive boat in the sunny south and while not exactly far from land, we were far from any distraction. For the first time in years – since the last time we were aboard the same boat in 2014 actually – we were disconnected from email, the internet, social media, tv and every other distraction, annoyance and what have you of modern life for seven days. Very refreshing! So if you were wondering why I’ve been quiet lately, that’s the reason.
We saw plenty of my favorite fish, the reef shark, and my second favorite, the nurse shark. When I get around to working on the video I took, I’ll post a really neat shark swim-by on the Sanddiver Books youtube channel. There’s nothing like a curious 7 foot long reef shark coming within touching distance. On a less joyful note, the place we visited was struck by two hurricanes last year, one of which went straight over a few beloved reefs near an uninhabited cay. Those reefs were almost completely destroyed by Mother Nature. The difference between 2014 and this year was stunning. It’s as if a giant scraper turned lush life into an underwater moonscape. They will recover thanks to being in a protected area far from human habitation, but it might take more years than I have left on this Earth before they’re back to the way I remember. Thankfully, the reefs around that cay were the only ones so hard done by. Those on the islands’ leeward sides survived almost intact.
However, the hospitality, cheerfulness and hard work of the boat’s crew was unchanged even if all of them save the captain and the cook (a legend in his own right in the diving business) were new to us. Although we did five dives a day, enough to burn off calories, I’m sure I gained weight from all the food. And of course, below is the obligatory scuba diving author pic, taken last Thursday. If you look closely, you can see how bare the reef is, courtesy of two hurricanes in a row. I was the only object of interest for Mrs Thomson’s camera on that dive!
I did put Without Mercy aside for the week, although by the time we left, I was a tad over 75% done. That should turn into 100% for the first draft in the next two weeks.