I can’t believe January is already gone. It seems that time has both dragged and flown at light speed in the last twelve months. Come March, it’ll be a year since I set up the basement gym so I could keep on exercising after the city shut down the recreation centres where I’ve done my cardio and weights since retiring to become a full-time writer. Strange to say, I miss being around people when I do my sessions. The TV just isn’t an adequate replacement for being around other fitness-minded retirees. Besides, it suffers from the 999 channels and nothing watchable syndrome. I do enjoy watching cooking shows on the Food Network, but there’s not much of interest until later in the day.
With the onset of February, winter has truly settled in around here, even if the sun is shining brightly. It was minus 22 degrees Centigrade when I went out to put the garbage bins on the curb earlier this morning. Looking at the forecast, it appears that our usual late January, early February thaw will be a dud this year. Instead of 4-5 days of above freezing temperatures, we’ll get one day, this Friday, before plunging into the deep freeze again. Mind you, the cold doesn’t keep us from taking 20-30 minute walks around the neighbourhood, for fresh air and to avoid going stir crazy. And yes, I wear a puffy, knee-length parka and Yukon hat with the earflaps down when we go out. It’s not elegant, but it is warm.
On the writing front, Ashes of Empire: Imperial Echoes is just about at the three-quarters completion mark, and wonder of wonders, the seventh Siobhan Dunmoore story is slowly fermenting the back of my mind. Since it’s fermenting faster than the third Ghost Squadron and Constabulary Casefiles installments, I might even give it a try once Imperial Echoes is off to my editor, hopefully at the beginning of March.
And neither is Ashes of Empire: Imperial Night but both will hopefully be finished at the same time. The weather service is warning that we could get up to half a meter of snow (for you folks still using the imperial system, that’s almost 20 inches) between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning, which would make it the biggest dump of this winter. We had one like it last year, and when it was over, I had to put on my snowshoes so I could get to the side of the house and make sure the gas furnace intake and exhaust pipes weren’t buried. Bad things happen when they’re buried, such as the furnace going out and needing a technician from the gas company to restart it. Which, of course, would mean no heat until he shows up. Since this dump is supposed to come over the space of 36-48 hours, I think I’ll go out and check tomorrow afternoon. But the larder and wine cellar are well stocked, so if the roads are crappy, I can admire the fresh white landscape through my office window and wait until Friday. Mind you, the weather service buggers up its prognostications on a regular basis and storms of the decade have turned out to be damp squibs. Hopefully, it’ll be the last one. We can already feel spring’s arrival. The days are getting longer, the sun shines brighter and sits higher in the sky, and we’ve had above freezing temperatures this week. Of course, the idiotic daylight savings time change is coming up in a week and a half as well.
I’ve passed the 60% completion mark on Ashes of Empire: Imperial Night. The going has been a little slow in the last week or so because I’ve had to spend a little more time than expected coming up with a ton of details about the Order of the Void. It plays a huge, if not central part in this book, as you might guess from the cover image. But progress is steady, and I’m almost finished with the second of what will be three parts (as opposed to the first two books in the series, which were split into two parts). I’ve named them Part I – Into Darkness, Part II – Moonrise, and Part III – The Hour of the Wolf. They may change by the time the book is finalized for publication.
And now back to work. Peace, fellow humans.
Fun fact: today, February 2nd, 2020, aka 02.02.2020, is a palindrome day if you write your dates dd.mm.yyyy (or mm.dd.yyyy, as xromad helpfully pointed out!) It also means January 2020 went by in a blur. Where did it go? At least we get an extra day this month, for all the good it’ll do slowing down the passage of time. They do say the older you get, the more you perceive the passage of time as accelerating.
January was reasonably productive month. Ashes of Empire: Imperial Night is one third written. Some time today, I’ll wrap up Part I and begin Part II. Funnily enough, current events are mirroring one of the subplots in the book, though I can’t remember whether I stumbled upon the idea first or picked up the initial hints of what was happening on this planet and ran with it. But it allows me to further develop one of the overarching themes I explore in Ashes of Empire.
And this is the cover:
Enjoy Palindrome Day, or as I like to call it, another cold, gray, snowy day in the Great White North.
Mrs. Thomson and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to an undisclosed scuba diving destination after two weeks without thought of work, writing, or anything other than emptying the mind and recharging the body. As usual, I found it took at least a week for me to accept the notion that doing nothing other than read, watch Netflix, or laze about (when not diving) were acceptable uses of my time. It didn’t take anywhere near that long for the local mosquitoes to accept me as their preferred meal! But now it’s back to reality, snow, ice, cold weather, and complaining about it all in good old Canadian style.
To my surprise, my editor is already deep into working on Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7), and says she’ll get back to me with her comments sometime next week, so it’s definitely coming out this month. I suppose I should buckle down and see that the various formats, covers, and sales channels are ready. But fear not, work on Imperial Twilight has begun. I worked on the outline during the trip home using a good old notebook and pen. The way I see the Ashes of Empire universe unfolding, with its multiple threads, it’ll take a bit more planning and a bit less seat of the pants writing. But the scope it gives me to tell stories!
And now, back to work. I wish everyone a prosperous 2019. As a mischievous sage once said, ‘May you get what you want, not what you deserve.’
We Canadians like nothing better than to complain about the weather, but this weekend, we had snow, freezing rain, rain, and fog after a gray week, so I think I’m just a bit entitled to grumble. This morning again, just like last Sunday morning, the damp fog closing in on our part of town transported me thirty years into the past and to a different continent. At this rate, I’ll probably be happier once real winter settles in with minus twenty degree centigrade temperatures – no rain, no fog and more chances of sunshine. Of course, after a few weeks of minus twenty, I’ll be complaining again.
In just over three weeks, it will be Christmas. Another year gone. Where it went, I couldn’t say. My brain tries to ignore the passing of time but my body feels it, even though I’m at the gym six days a week, exercising harder and more regularly than I did in my forties, or even my thirties. Being my own boss these days helps me get out there and pump iron instead of sitting in endless, futile meetings where, when all is said and done, much will have been said and precious little done. I don’t miss those days at all.
Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7) is in the home stretch. I’m at the 85% completion mark and intend to see it done by the end of the coming week.
The return from our trip to warmer climes has dumped us into one of the more notable cold snaps in recent memory. It’s a small mercy that our part of the Great White North escaped the snow “bomb” that left North America’s east coast with more white stuff than anyone wants. Fortunately, warmer days are in the forecast (relatively warmer, but still well below the freezing point), perhaps even warm enough to risk the odd cross-country ski run without courting frostbite. At least I still have a few warm memories to fall back on as I venture out into our sub-arctic world to take care of the odd errand. Though I confined myself to video during our trip, my lifelong dive buddy took pictures, including a few of me, such as this one:
Trust me, the fish and sea critters were a lot better looking!
I’ve made reasonably decent progress on No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6) since our return last Monday – the first draft is now 25% done, but it’s been a wee struggle to get my mind back into full-time author mode. Being self-employed does not insulate one from the usual post-holiday impulse to procrastinate. But with no other outings or events on the horizon for the remainder of this winter, I’ll have nothing to distract my focus, except watch heavily bundled people walk by outside. Mind you, as much as I’m not a fan of winter, or cold weather in general, I would likely find life in an environment where the seasons are stuck on summer to be just as enervating. Sort of how spending a few weeks on a tropical island sounds nice but living on one full-time could quickly become stale. The grass may be greener on the other side, but a life where one sees only green grass would likely seem too stifling, at least for an easily bored soul such as mine. And that’s why I always heed the ancient bit wisdom that cautions you to be careful what you wish for, since you might get it!
Mrs Thomson and I spent the countdown to midnight on an airplane flying the last leg of the long, twenty-one hour journey home from an undisclosed location where we spent two weeks scuba diving, relaxing and eating way too much. We saw a few fireworks from up high, but it was an otherwise uneventful slip into 2018. Considering the blanket of extreme cold that seems to have smothered a wide swath of the Great White North, I’m sure uneventful was the norm rather than the exception, what with authorities cancelling outdoor festivities all over the place. And now, back to reality…
The coming year will have plenty to keep me gainfully employed as a writer. Three novels are on the schedule, all of them outlined and the first of the three already 20% written:
- No Remorse (Decker’s War Book 6)
- Without Mercy (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 5) and
- an as of yet untitled 26th Century murder mystery featuring Chief Superintendent Caelin Morrow
Speaking of Caelin Morrow, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of The Warrior’s Knife (Quis Custodiet No 1), look for it at your favorite retailer. The reviews on Amazon.com have been uniformly positive to date.
A Happy New Year to all my readers. And for those living in the grip of Old Man Winter, stay warm!
We got a foretaste of winter earlier this week, with an inch or so of snow over a layer of freezing rain. I hope it wasn’t an omen of things to come. Scraping ice off the truck isn’t my favorite morning activity. It’s gone now, but the weather people are forecasting “a wild ride” for this winter, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Thankfully, the street rehabilitation work is done, with a few final landscaping touches awaiting next spring.
While I’m finalizing The Warrior’s Knife with the help of my editors, I’ve started on the sixth installment of Decker’s War, after writing myself into a dead end with the fifth Siobhan Dunmoore adventure. Decker #6 is tentatively titled No Remorse and picks up the story a few months after the events in Black Sword, with Decker and Talyn’s enemies actively seeking revenge on them for exposing the conspiracy. Dunmoore fans, fear not. I’ve already started remapping the storyline for Without Mercy and it will come out in the first half of 2018.
For those of you living in the US and Canada who’ve not yet tried Decker’s War, the omnibus edition containing the first three adventures (Death Comes But Once, Cold Comfort and Fatal Blade) will be offered at a substantial discount by Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iTunes as part of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales — all three books for the price of one, from now until next Monday.
Last Friday promised to be the best, and with daytime temperatures forecast to be above zero for the next two weeks, possibly one of the last good cross-country skiing days of the winter. We received almost forty centimeters of fresh snow during the week, and the sun would finally poke out from behind the clouds. But wouldn’t you know it, I came down with a bout of the flu. I could feel something creeping up on me for a few days, but by Friday morning, it had become clear that not only was skiing out of the question, going to the gym as per my usual routine was out as well. As I write this on Sunday morning (day three without going to the gym), it’s already three degrees above zero on a February 19th in the Great White North, and for all intents and purposes, the Spring melt has already begun. Both Mother Nature and I are experiencing a bit of a fever, it seems. Mind you, I’m not complaining about the weather. I’ll never be a winter lover. And the sooner the snow is gone, the faster my little canine companion can go out on walks again. He needs the exercise to rebuild the muscles in his rear leg after last months’ operation. Running around the house just isn’t enough anymore.
Thanks to my bout of flu, productivity has taken a bit of a hit over the last few days, but I’m nonetheless pleased to have reached the two-thirds completion mark for the first draft of Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4). I think mid-March is beginning to look like a good time for my editor to clear her calendar. It also coincides with another significant milestone – we’ll be making our final mortgage payment and the place we’ve called home for the last twenty years will be entirely ours. I think we’ll crack a bottle of the finest French bubbly on that day which, at this rate might see us freed of another winter’s snow.
In honor of Groundhog Day, I tried to send my dog into the back yard and find me a groundhog, so I could determine whether or not it sees its shadow. But, it’s cold outside, with lots of snow and my five-pound terrier had orthopedic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago, so he told me to forget about it and assume that winter will last for another six and a half weeks, i.e. until March 20. He’s also not a fan of burrowing rodents larger than he is. Definitely a smart little fellow. Would that some humans show such common sense.
I finally took my cross-country skis off the rack and slapped them on earlier this week. Thanks to the freeze-thaw cycles that bedeviled our January, the trails weren’t in great shape, and I rediscovered muscles long thought to have been lost in the mists of time. But even though it was frigid, the sun was shining, the chickadees were chirping, and all was good. I could have instead been stuck in an endless meeting about trivial matters deep in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy. We’re supposed to get some more fresh snow in the next few days. I hope that will improve the trails because I’d like to go out again next week.
Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) is past the one-third mark, and progress has been fantastic, at least in my eyes, seeing as how I’m the master procrastinator.