Space Opera With a Twist

Tag: The Path of Duty (Page 1 of 2)

And……. We’re Done

I’ve just submitted the new Dunmoore novel, The Path of Duty, to Amazon for publication as a Kindle ebook.  It could take until tomorrow or even Tuesday before it’s available in all markets.  The paperback version should be available by Tuesday.  It being the Sunday before I return to my day job after two blissful weeks on holidays, feeling like I was retired already, I have a few things to take care of, now that the novel is wrapped up and on its way to the ebook shelves.

I just want to publicly thank two lovely ladies without whom this novel wouldn’t have seen the light of day, i.e. my editor and my proof-reader.  You two know who you are and  I love you both to bits.  Thanks for everything!

UPDATE 17:40hrs, July 26….  Looks like the ebook is live on most Amazon sites.

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Amazon UK

Amazon Deutschland

It might take a few days before the “Look Inside” function appears on Amazon.  In the meantime, you can read the first two chapters on my site: The Path of Duty – Chapters One and Two


Almost There…

Update – 25 July 2015 – 20:00hrs (8PM, or eight bells in the dog watch) – The final review of the manuscript is 2/3s done.  Barring any emergencies tomorrow, it should be hitting the Amazon ebook shelves at some point between late Sunday evening and early Tuesday morning.  I have no control over that part of the process.  The paperback should be on the shelves by Tuesday morning.


My proof-reader finished with The Path of Duty last night and I updated the manuscript accordingly this morning.  I need to do one more read of the novel, to make sure nothing egregious jumps from the page and then it’ll be ready for publication.  Another couple of days at most.  I said I wanted it out before I returned to my day job next Monday, and I think we’ll manage it, even though I intend to return to the golf course tomorrow.  Once the book is live on Amazon (ebook first, paperback version a day or two after that), I’ll post the news here on my blog.

White Balls and Black Keyboards

Yes, I’m still on holidays, and no, my proof reader isn’t quite done yet.  How long before Dunmoore Book 2 is ready, you ask?  About eighty pages were left to proof as of last Sunday, so I’m expecting a email with the last comments any time now.  In the meantime, I’ve been committing violence on little white balls with high-tech clubs, and I’m happy to say that this morning’s round went much better than Monday’s.  Perhaps it’s because, with the stress of work finally draining away, I’m no longer holding my clubs as if they were the necks of people I want to choke, but as they should be held.  Suffice to say that the second half of this morning’s round saw good distance and accuracy for the first time this season.  I’ve also put a good 17,000 words into the second Decker’s War novel over the weekend and it’s already past the half-way point.  I’ll likely get back to it tomorrow, now that I’ve decided on how the next act will unfold.  That being said, if I could just keep from trying to slice my fingertips off with that fancy (and very sharp) new kitchen knife I recently acquired to process all manner of vegetables, I’d be in pig heaven.

I’ll leave you with a short video clip culled from the Astronomy Picture of the Day archives.  It’s truly worth a look if you want some science-fictiony inspiration.  Enjoy:



I’ve been asked where we’re at with Book 2 of the Siobhan Dunmoore tales, a.k.a. The Path of Duty, so here’s the state of play.  The line-edit should be completed in the next day or two.  Then, the printed proof gets shipped out to my proof-reader for a final check.  Once she’s done, the manuscript will have to be updated because there will be typos – there always are typos.  When I’m happy that we’ve got as good a product as we can make it, I’ll announce the publication on my blog.  My aim is still to have it in my readers’ hands by the end of July, if only because I desperately need a break from writing and editing.  I’ve been through the manuscript five or six times in the last month and I still have at least one or two more passes to make, so you can well imagine that I’m getting to the point where I’ll be happy to get it done and move on to the next book, or maybe play golf instead of staring at a computer screen at home on top of staring at one for my day job.

Happy Independence Day to my American readers.  Enjoy the fireworks, concerts and BBQs.

Addendum July 9, 2015, 11:30.  The edited manuscript is on its way to the proof-reader and should arrive in the next few days.

The Path of Duty – Teaser

As I promised some time back, I’ve posted the first two chapters of the next Siobhan Dunmoore novel.  Keep in mind that while the novel has undergone content editing, it’s still undergoing line editing and has not yet been proof-read, so you may find a few mistakes here and there in the sample, but rest assured they’ll be sorted out in the next few weeks as we head towards publication.

Sample Chapters


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.

A Poster That Says It All

Like most drones surviving deep in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy, I’ve had my share of bosses and leaders.  After years of getting mostly the latter, I’m now facing much more of the former, with all the attendant rise in stress, and as fate would have it, this little gem appeared in my facebook feed today…


I don’t know who put the list together, but he or she speaks the complete and unvarnished truth.  It’s sad to say that even in my Army days, even in an Army that spent almost fourteen years chasing the Taliban across the Afghan mountains, I’ve encountered enough ‘bosses’ to make me wonder how the various officer schools could fail to produce a full 100% output of ‘leaders’, but fail they did. Happily, ‘bosses’ make for excellent military science-fiction fodder as antagonists against our protagonist ‘leaders’.  The trick is to avoid turning the ‘bosses’ into caricatures. Even the few genuine sociopaths among the civilian or military brass aren’t one dimensional villains, but complex people whose psychological makeup and experiences have made them the folks they are.  I remember years ago (probably verging on two decades) reading a mil sci-fi series that started off well.  It was written by two veterans of the US military and they had a certain style that appealed to me, until that is, they created a villainous ‘boss’ that defied believability.  I stopped reading the book in question – number five or six in the series – right there and never touched anything by those authors again.

It’s hard to resist putting your own prejudices, dislikes and sometimes outright hates on paper, but as an author, I have to remember that they’re mine, and likely won’t resonate with the majority of readers who haven’t lived through my eyes.  Hence, even the bad guys and gals need to be believable in their own way and since no one is fully good or evil, the best characters remain somewhat ambiguous in their motivations and psychological traits.  It’s a tall order, and one that I struggled with while writing The Path of Duty.  Happily my editor liked my characterization of Dunmoore’s antagonist.  There’s a series I’ve been reading and for which I’m currently awaiting the next installment, where the author delights in his depiction of the villains in the most caricature-like way.  The story is good enough to carry one through the broader strokes (and I’ll privately admit that he caters to my own prejudices), but funnily enough, though I sometimes want to try and depict some antagonists this way even if it’s just as a throwaway to satisfy some baser urges, I can’t.  The Decker’s War sequel Cold Comfort is giving me the same problems and it’s much more fertile ground for roughly drawn bad guys.  Make of that what you will.  I’ll be looking forward to another week of fun, fun, fun wondering where the leaders are.

Mid-Week Musings

The daily grind seems to have a surprisingly deleterious effect on a person’s sense of wonder and awe. Where I could once look at a riotous sunset or a cherry tree dripping with blossoms and feel humbled by nature’s glory, I now feel more of a sense of “meh” and carry on doing something else. Of course, that something else often involves suppressing the negative effects of a Dilbert-like experience at work, by flooding the senses with numbing activities such as binge-watching Netflix, compulsively building scale models or eying that half-empty bottle of Pinot Noir, all of which have only temporary effects and soon require ever more to keep the mind from dwelling on things that are the antithesis of wonderful.

The damp, cold, autumn-like weather of late has kept us from heading for the hills on the weekends to immerse ourselves in the renewed depths of nature, in places where we’re far from the noise of passing cars, unlike the last outings that were closer to home (and the city). This coming Sunday, I hope that we can finally head north and reconnect more meaningfully with the landscape to clear our minds, and hopefully restore some of that awe for the simple beauty of the woods along some of the more unspoiled trails. If we do go, it will be in the Blue Beast 2, seeing as I’m picking it up on Friday and leaving the original Blue Beast in the hands of the dealership for disposal. It has served us well and will be fondly remembered – for about thirty seconds after I drive the new truck off the lot.

In between, I’ll be working some more on The Path of Duty, and I’m happy to say that in the last week, I was able to work through my editor’s comments on the first nine chapters. Hopefully I can do as much between now and next Sunday night. Although I doubt my books generate anything like a sense of awe, at least I can work to prevent them from being awful.

Weekend Fun

Our pickup truck, affectionately known as the ‘Blue Beast’, is turning 13 this year, and its age is showing badly. It has served us well and we’ve driven it down to Florida and back more than a few times over the years. Sadly, the engine is sounding rough, the exhaust even rougher and rust is sprouting its red stains. I suspect that if we brought it to the auto mechanic, we’d be facing a few thousand dollars in repairs to keep it going for another year, and at some point, you have to cut your losses.   We’d already been planning on replacing it, and had been putting aside some cash to do so, but hadn’t quite decided on timing. Saturday, we bit the bullet and headed to the dealership to buy the next ‘Blue Beast’. Even though we had make, model, options and everything figured out ahead of time, it was an exhausting three hours, only thirty minutes of which were spent on the test drive, by the time I signed our savings away. Considering how little I got as trade-in value for the old ‘Blue Beast’, it was clearly at the end of its road. I’m waiting for the call to tell me when I can exchange old for new, seeing as how they didn’t have the exact pickup I wanted on the lot and had to get one shipped in. Hopefully, the next truck will serve us just as well and just as long as the old one – longer even. That pretty much took care of Saturday, so I didn’t get anything author-related done. I did serve up a pretty good veal Oscar for supper though.

Sunday, on the other hand, was pretty productive. I got another four thousand words down on Cold Comfort, and could have written even more since I’ve pretty much got all of Act Two mapped out, but chores won’t be left undone. More importantly, I got the first batch of comments back from my editor on The Path of Duty. In speaking with her, she’s happy with the storyline and figures I’ve pretty much nailed what I wanted to nail. She also raised a few points that I knew were questionable when I sent her the manuscript, but happily she has suggestions to sort those out. It’s always great when your editor can confirm that yes, the feeling you had about a particular passage being iffy was correct. All in all, she liked the story, and said the final editing, once I’ve incorporated her comments, should be fairly easy. Now I need to embark on the second re-write, so progress on Cold Comfort will be slow. I still hope to have the second Dunmoore ready for publication in early July, but that means I have to put in the hours after work and on weekends, which is getting harder with the good weather having finally arrived.

Curses! Spoiled Again

As a lot of folks nowadays, Mrs Thomson and I have succumbed to the siren song of Netflix, the online streaming service that is slowly edging out network and cable television. Browsing through the massive selection of movies, documentaries and series, I stumbled on a large number of old tv shows I used to watch thirty or more years ago. Curious and a little nostalgic, I began to watch a few of them, just to see if they held up over the years and could still entertain me. I was expecting the sillier ones to feel dated, if not outright dumb, but to my surprise, they actually put a smile on my face. I don’t know if it’s because they evoke memories of a time in my life that seems simpler in hindsight (I wish I could tell my younger self to enjoy those days a bit more), or because they exuded an optimism or naivety that seems harder to find nowadays, but pure escapism after a frustrating day in the bowels of a demented bureaucracy is oddly therapeutic, especially when it comes without advertizing and on my schedule and not some network executive’s. My only complaint is that having all of the episodes of a given show available at the touch of a button is an invitation to binge watching on a scale that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. And before anyone says it, I know: that’s a personal problem, but it’s a fun one to have.

For those who want to keep track of more important things, like sequels, my editor has told me I’m getting the first review comments on The Path of Duty later this week, and I’ve completed Act One of Cold Comfort, all ten chapters of it, over the long weekend, which means I’m a little over a third done on the first draft.

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