I’m halfway done with my latest project, We Dare (Ghost Squadron No. 1) and so far, so good. If the stars align and my editor can pounce on it the moment I’m done, it might even be out in time for Christmas. And since my experiment with making the sixth Siobhan Dunmoore book available for pre-order worked so well, I will likely do the same for this one. I’ve pretty much settled on the cover design, as you can see:
What’s the story line? Here’s the current iteration of the text you’ll eventually find on the book’s product page, on the back of the paperback version and the front inside flap of the hardcover version:
The Marines of “A” Squadron, 1st Special Forces Regiment, also known as Ghost Squadron because it strikes unseen and vanishes without a trace, are humanity’s foremost black ops specialists. They will do whatever is required to protect humanity anywhere in the known galaxy. With the Commonwealth increasingly unstable thanks to venal politicians, greedy financiers, and power-hungry revolutionaries, they don’t lack for missions.
When an undercover Constabulary officer vanishes after uncovering a massive cartel-run human trafficking operation, the Commonwealth’s interstellar police force calls for help from the Armed Services. Because the cartel’s operations could upend the delicate political balance between the older core worlds and the more recently colonized outer star systems, Ghost Squadron gets the job. Its mission: find the missing Constabulary officer and choke off the growing slave trade bedeviling humanity’s perilous galactic frontier.
Ghost Squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Thomas Decker, spent the last ten years as a naval intelligence agent. His job was thwarting plots and terminating the Commonwealth’s internal enemies alongside his partner, a trained assassin. Now, with several hundred of the deadliest Marines ever fielded at his back, Zack Decker is about to change the course of history.
And on the first Monday in September, we celebrate work by being idle. The concept of Labour Day has always amused me, but nowadays, these statutory holidays make little difference in my life. If I’m driven to write, I’ll write. Mrs Thomson, who still works in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy on the other hand, quite enjoys them.
Labour Day is the unofficial end of summer in our part of the world, and in the last week or so, it certainly seemed that way. The nights are getting chillier, the sun sets earlier and rises later, and the sky is taking on that autumnal luminosity which we recognize but cannot quite describe. Mrs Thomson’s vegetable garden is just about done for the year – a few green tomatoes remain, but nothing else. Where has the summer gone? It started so late, after an awful and awfully long winter, followed by a cold and soggy spring. Will we get an early winter as well? Speaking of winter, another sign of the season’s passing landed in my email inbox the other day. Our snow removal company’s contract for the 2019-2020 season. Let’s hope we won’t need their services until well into December, but the way things have been going in the last few years…
I’ve written three quarters of When The Guns Roar (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 6) and should be typing those two words every writer loves, The End, in the next two weeks. After that? Well, the next installment in the Ashes of Empire saga, Imperial Night is on the menu. And perhaps the start of a new series covering events in Zack Decker’s later career when the Commonwealth slowly becomes that empire we’ve learned to hate in Ashes of Empire. I was playing with a book cover idea for the first installment yesterday, to flex my graphic design muscles and take a break from writing. The result is below. And that, as they used to say, is all the news that’s fit to print in my little universe.
The final tally in my war against mice is five in mousetraps, and one which died from poisoned bait. I think that’s it for now since I haven’t caught any more mice or seen evidence of mouse activity in recent days, but I’ll be leaving traps out on a permanent basis and check them every morning.
The other war that’s over is one which has been close to my heart for the last four years. If you’ve read Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7) you might have noticed how I brought Zack Decker full circle and wrapped up a lot of his story. Yes, it’s the last Decker’s War adventure. You may also have deduced from his distant descendant, Brigid DeCarde, whom you met in Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset, that Zack still has an illustrious career ahead of him. Does this mean I’ll never write of our favorite Marine Pathfinder again? No, but for the next while, I intend to concentrate on continuing the Ashes of Empire saga, write the next Siobhan Dunmoore, and work on a project that’s been fermenting in my brain for a long time.
However, it’s entirely possible Zack Decker could return in a fresh series which will chart his story through the messy dissolution of the Commonwealth and the formation of the empire as he rises up the ranks. Perhaps I might call it Decker’s Empire or something of the sort. But that’s not for 2019.
In the meantime, progress on Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight remains slow but steady: I’ve reached the 25% completion mark.
Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7)
Amazon also has the paperback version.
Other retailers will have the paperback and hardcover versions in the next few days. As always, if your favorite retailer isn’t listing it just yet, give it a day or so. Some are slower than others.
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.’
Last night, I finished revising Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7) and sent it to my editor. With Christmas coming up next week, I don’t think she’ll get to it until after New Year’s Day and probably not until the second week of January. But the holidays won’t impede a late January publication date, so I’m not worried.
I now intend to put the pen (or to be more accurate, the keyboard) aside for two or three weeks to recharge the batteries. As usually happens once I finish a book and send it to my editor, I find myself drained. A good thing I have an agreement with Mrs Thomson that I don’t work or even think about work at this time of year. But come January, I’ll dive into Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight.
Since this is likely my last blog post of 2018, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Count your blessings instead of your crosses.
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes.
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears.
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full times instead of your lean.
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth.
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.
Yesterday, I wrote the final sentences of Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7). When I’m putting down a first draft, I rarely know where my characters will take me and the story, and this time was no exception. Hard Strike‘s ending surprised me quite a bit. Until a few days ago, I had no idea it would turn out as it did, but perhaps I should have seen it coming. This is Zack Decker we’re talking about. His adventures always have a twist. I won’t say anything more. You’ll just have to read it when it comes out in the new year. I still have a few weeks of revising before my editor takes over sometime around mid-January. And then there are the holidays. I have an agreement with Mrs Thomson: the two week period around Christmas and New Year’s Day are non-working, even for a sometimes hyperactive author.
What comes after Hard Strike? For starters, my next project is Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight which I hope to see published around the late April, early May time frame. Then, the sixth Siobhan Dunmoore of course. And I’m mulling over a fresh idea that doesn’t involve the Commonwealth/Empire universe featured in each of my books, but that’s still in the embryonic stage.
If you’ve joined my mailing list, watch your inbox sometime late January 2019 for the announcement that Hard Strike has hit the virtual and physical bookshelves.
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.
Our weather in the last few days has been passing strange. It’s almost as if Mother Nature is giving us a preview of the coming winter — a weather version of a movie trailer. We got a dumping of snow sufficient to bring out our snow removal contractor, freezing rain, bitter cold and today, a thaw. And even though everything is still white, our part of the Great White North is smothered in a thick layer of fog right now. A gray, damp, foggy Sunday, just the right mix to evoke old memories.
As we do regularly, Mrs Thomson and I were driving to our gym for ninety minutes of much needed exercise this morning. Once on the brief stretch of highway, I remarked how this dense, chilly fog reminded me of one particular winter when we lived in what was then the Federal Republic of Germany thirty years ago, during my tour with Canadian Forces Europe (CFE). The Rhine Valley, in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg where CFE had its bases, was and probably still is famous for its damp, foggy weather, especially in winter. That particular February, we spent the entire month fogged in. The only times I saw the sun was when I visited the Langenhard training area which sat at higher altitude and therefore above the fog layer. Looking out over the valley from up there was a thing of beauty! This morning, our drive through a brief stretch of farmland bordering the highway, reminded me vividly of driving on the A-5, the autobahn running the length of Baden-Württemberg right to the Swiss border during that February thirty years ago.
In other news, I’m moving right along with Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7). It’s now more than three-quarters done.
It seems like Mother Nature decided to give up on autumn in our part of the Great White North a few weeks early this year — it’s only mid-November and we’re already in winter’s frigid grip. Fifteen centimeters of snow fell last Thursday evening into Friday and this morning, it’s minus thirteen degrees Celsius although there’s a lovely ice fog blurring the sunshine.
At least productivity has been good lately. A few weeks ago, I wrote about needing to reassess where I was going with Hard Strike (Decker’s War Book 7). I’m happy to say taking a step back improved the story line considerably and I’m now almost caught up again — yesterday I passed the two-thirds completion mark. Since I’m taking a break from writing for a while over Christmas and New Year’s, I expect to send the manuscript to my editor in early January, when she’s back after her own holidays. Then, I intend to start work on Ashes of Empire: Imperial Twilight, the first of a planned 3-4 novels in 2019, which will include a sixth Siobhan Dunmoore and a second Quis Custodiet.