from the desk of the ink-splasher.

I checked Amazon over the weekend, and it looks like Lines of Departure is available for pre-order in all formats (Kindle, paperback, and unabridged audio) for the January 28th release. (Terms of Enlistment will also be released as a new, “Director's Cut” edition at the same time and in the same formats.)

I know that a lot of you were hoping for an earlier release, but after comparing the Before and After versions, I am quite glad that 47North got their hands on the novels. It went through several editorial passes by very experienced and sharp-eyed editors, and the version about to be published as a 47North novel in January is quite a bit better than the original. In addition to tightening all the nuts and bolts, they suggested several changes that, in retrospect, make it a stronger novel. I'm very happy with the end result, and I think that if you like Terms of Enlistment, you're going to really like Lines of Departure.

In other news, my friend Peter has a new book out. It's a non-fiction memoir of his former profession as a prison chaplain. Peter is from South Africa, and he has had a rather interesting life. Go check out his publication announcement and pick up Walls, Wire, Bars, and Souls if it sounds interesting to you. (Peter also has a military science fiction novel out on Amazon, called Take the Star Road.)

This concludes the self- and friend-promotion this morning. Now I have to get back to work on that novella so I have something from the Terms of Enlistment universe to offer up before Lines of Departure comes out. (I expect to finish Measures of Absolution this week, and because I've been editing it on the fly, it should be available on the Kindle and directly from me by next week. Because the novella doesn't fall under my contractual restrictions regarding distribution, I can offer the EPUB and PDF versions directly, just like I did with Terms of Enlistment before it got picked up by 47North.)

Busy week ahead. I guess I best get to it, then…


dadcation again, and a request for a friend.

I get to spend a good chunk of today’s Dadcation at the tire place while letting them perform the biannual ritual known in New England as the Changing of the Tires. Because the all-seasons on there are down to “questionable” status after almost five years, I’m having snow tires put on, which means my wallet will be lighter by about $450 when I get out of here.

Luckily, we have the change budgeted in, and we usually don’t break out into cold sweats when we have to replace some essential item in the household. We also have killer health insurance—benefit of the wife’s position at a local hospital—so medical expenses are never really in the back of our minds either. That makes us pretty lucky in today’s economy. (Gold-plated health plans are a pretty rare thing to have for writer-types.)

Some people don’t have great health insurance, or indeed any insurance at all. My friend Tamara recently came down with basal cell carcinoma, and her health insurance is pretty much a sticky note on her laptop that says “Don’t get sick.” I know that a lot of the folks reading this blog also read Tamara’s blog over at View From The Porch, so I’m going to put out a request for you to go over there and see if you have some change in the couch cushions that you can dump in her PayPal account to help her cover the expenses that go with being restored to cancer-free status. There’s a “Donate” tip jar button there, so it’s quick and easy to contribute a few dollars to repair the Snarkolator and keep the snark flowing.

(Like my friend Matt says: if you have enjoyed Tam’s wit over the years, you’d take her out for a dinner if you had her in the neighborhood, right? Just buy her the dinner in advance to make sure she’ll be around.)

I thank you in advance. More later, when I’m not dying a slow heat death in an overheated tire store lounge. At least they have WiFi so I can publically document my slow desiccation.

taking a breather between storms.

I’m at the Fancy Bread Place, part of my weekly Dadcation ritual. (For those of you just tuning in, that’s when I get to leave the house for a morning once a week without kids in tow.) Two days ago, we attended a friend’s wedding over in the White Mountains, in a location that required us to do a lap of northern New Hampshire because you can’t get there from heah, at least not in a straight line. The wedding was lovely, though, and I’m glad we went.

Tomorrow, said friend and her husband are coming up to Castle Frostbite for a Halloween party. They’re bringing three little girls for a sleepover with our kids. We’ve done that before a few times, and it’s always fun, but LOUD. Five kids in the 3-8 age bracket can work up an amazing din. So right now I am enjoying a bit of quiet and calm before heading back to the Castle to get it ready for tomorrow’s festivities. There will be home-made “Bones of the Dead” cookies, mummy cupcakes, cocktail weenies, Halloween candy, and a bunch of, uh, special parenting sauce for the grown-ups. Tune in again on Sunday, when our intrepid correspondent live-blogs his hangover.

(I kid, of course. Our intrepid correspondent doesn’t get hangovers.)


team munchkin wrangler’s 2013 european tour dates.

My brother’s 40th birthday is in February, and we’ve been waiting for an opportunity to visit the family again, so we decided to roll two birthday parties and a family get-together into one and go over there, kids and all.

I just booked the tickets, and boy howdy, does it cost a chunk of change to fly two adults and two kids to another continent. We’re flying from Boston to Amsterdam (the most convenient large airport from my brother’s place), with a stopover in Iceland because we’re going by Icelandair, and their 757s don’t quite have the legs for a transatlantic hop. I was hoping for a longer layover so we could maybe do some looking around in Reykjavik on the way, but it’s just an hour-long pit stop to refuel that Viking long-plane, and I’m sure we won’t be able to see more than the inside of the terminal at Keflavik International.

This will be interesting. We haven’t been back to Germany since 2005, when Quinn was ten months old and Lyra was still in the planning stages. Now the kids are seven and five, and they’re old enough to a.) not be a nuisance on the plane, and b.) be aware of the trip and able to remember the event. Quinn is actually turning eight on the day of our arrival, so he’ll get a little birthday party in Germany.

We’ll be in Germany for just a little under two weeks, which should be plenty of time for family business and some sightseeing. I’m planning to take the wife and kids on day trips around the area, and there’s a lot to see within just a few hours of my brother’s place. Amsterdam is only two hours away, so I suspect we’ll go there for a day—I haven’t been to A’dam since at least 1995, and I’m really looking forward to going back there.

My brother has three kids in the five-to-ten bracket. We’re bringing our two. That’s five children of kindergarten-to-fifth-grade age under the same roof for almost two weeks, and a birthday bash thrown into the mix. I’m sure we’ll be just fine, and I know it will be a lot of fun, but you can also bet your caboose that I’ll be taking the maximum allowable quantity of New Hampshire-bought hooch I can get into Europe duty-free.

a shack of one’s own.

Neil Gaiman has one.

Roald Dahl had one.

So did Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Dylan Thomas, Virginia Woolf, and a bunch of other famous inkslingers.

I am, of course, talking about a writing shed. The idea for one (or the obsession with it, however you want to look at it) has been firmly planted in my brain for a while now, and my desire for one of my own grows stronger as the distractions in the house get more frequent.

I have the main computer set up at the standing desk in the living room, but I can’t really do any work there that requires focus. Not only am I in the middle of all the house ruckus generated by two kids and four dogs, but I’m also accessible to everyone. So a little writing shed on the property away from the house a bit sounds more wonderful with each passing year. I mean, I put up an 8×10’ chicken house, and we had the handyman attach a 10×12’ run with a proper roof. If the chickens can have such a spacious condo, why shouldn’t I be able to mark off a flat 8×8’ patch of ground somewhere on our ten acres and then put a little private hut up in that spot? No plumbing, no Internet, no electricity—well, maybe an extension cord for a space heater for the winter—but otherwise nothing but a desk, a bookshelf, and a spot for ink bottles and such.

Two weeks ago we went over to some friends for dinner. They have a little 8×8 playhouse on their property which our friend built for his daughter. It has a properly high ceiling suitable for adult use, it has a proper door and windows, and it’s just big enough for a couch and a play rug—the perfect size for a little writing den free of distractions and cat-waxing opportunities.

I asked him how long it took to build that little playhouse.

“Oh, that just took me two days,” he said.


I told him about my desire for a writing hut of my own, and lamented my lack of carpentry skills. He said he’d be glad to help me with it. So I offered him all the beer and pizza he cares to consume in exchange for his assistance. Now I just need to stake out a suitable spot on the grounds of Castle Frostbite, and then sell an extra freelance article or short story to get together the play money for the lumber, but then Project Writing Hut is a go.

weekend recap.

My old school friend Joerg stopped by for the weekend. He is on a business trip to Ontario, and he had the time to visit with us for two days, so I did my best to play New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. On Saturday, I took him for a drive down to southern NH (with a stopover at Chez Vachon in Manchester for a poutine lunch), and on Sunday we just relaxed at the house and caught up on stuff over good food and a fair amount of flavored ethanol.

(Joerg was my desk neighbor in high school, which means I’ve known him for almost thirty years. When we were driving around, I asked him if that means we’re getting old, and he emphatically rejected the notion.)

The kids were out of the house all day yesterday. Trusted friends of ours took their grandkids to Water Country for the day, and they asked if our two wanted to tag along, which they did. So we had a quiet house yesterday, which was actually a little unnerving.

Thanks for all the kind words and condolences regarding our Miss Guinevere. She will come home in an urn early this week at some point. It’s still strange not to see her come into the kitchen at feeding time, or walk by her corner where she usually napped under a blanket and not see her snoozing there. But it was her time, she was in horrible pain, and in the end, we did her a kindness.

This morning I’ve already sent my friend on his way back over to Ontario for a fun week of business meetings. Now I get to put away laundry, clean the house again for tomorrow’s play date, and get a thousand words or so in on the work in progress. I KNOW, THE GLAMOUR, RIGHT?

Oh, and we humans put a nuclear-powered car on Mars last night. How cool is that? Science—it works.