New Release!

If we were trying to have coffee today I’d no doubt be all excited! It’s release day for my latest novel. PENUMBRA.

Some people make a big deal about release day. For me it is a bit anticlimactic…okay, it’s official. Distribution is a little wonky today too. This month my publisher is expanding the print copies into a new supplier. We have been exclusively Amazon for a while. Now Amazon will provide print copies sold on its platform and the new supplier will be able to more easily provide copies to bookstores and libraries.

Of course with anything new, the publisher had no real guidance into how long the new books would be in limbo. When they are available, they’ll be available. To make matters worse, the print copies on Amazon are delayed as well.

It’s a good thing I didn’t plan anything big for release day. Today’s big “release” activity? I cut the grass!

Ah, but you can still buy the Kindle edition today. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D7267W7/

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. Check out his web page at http://thefensk.com

Countdown to Penumbra – 1

Penumbra-IIOkay, tomorrow is the big day!  I know, I’ve bothered you all week, but I just wanted to be sure I got the word out.
This will mark three books published in 10 months.  It’s not quite as amazing as it sounds.  For one thing, for a number of reasons I had a three-year-hiatus in publishing, well, except for my companion cookbook.  So, this pretty much puts me back on track for a book a year. It amounts to the four books of the Traces of Treasure Series, and the stand-alone historical novel The Hag Rider (my other Summer of 2020 release).

I managed to cobble Penumbra together in a little over five months, from the first page to the final revision and signed contract. My first book, The Fever, took close to three years.  Writing is like any other journey. There are left turns and right turns, and any number of hard stops.  One encounters bumpy roads and pitfalls.  Actually, in writing, we create a lot of bumpy roads and pitfalls.

Anyway, thanks for coming along for the ride.  There will be more to come, most certainly. I have assembled quite a crew of characters who are meant to take this series forward, but I probably won’t feature ALL of them at the same time as I did in Penumbra.

Look for Penumbra on Amazon tomorrow, in Kindle, KindleUnlimited, & paperback.  I’m working on getting copies into some bookstores as well but with my small publisher, this is a work in progress.

The kindle link is HERE.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina
You can find out more about him and his writing on his web page: www.thefensk.com

Countdown to Penumbra-5

Penumbra-II

There are five days remaining until the release of Penumbra!

Today, I’d like to share one of the pre-release reviews.  Marianne Reese is a fellow author and book blogger. Please visit her Amazon Author Page to learn more about her. We found each other through a Facebook author forum and have been fans of each other ever since. She’s an awesome writer … check out her books.

She even has a cameo in the third book of the series, Lucky Strike. She read an early version of the manuscript and mentioned that she actually lived in one of the locations for a short time; it coincided with the timeframe of the book! So I stuck a scene with her in there, stranded with a flat tire and helped by one of the protagonists. It added a little compassionate depth to his character and allowed me to honor the support and help she’s given me over the past few years.

This review is located on goodreads.com.

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This is the fourth book in the Traces of Treasures series, and like the first three, it did not disappoint!
Sam and Smidgeon, along with their friends, are at it again on the hunt for a treasure, but who’s the true owner of the much sought after cache?
Friendship and faith collide with evil as the mystery unravels in this page-turning story.

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Short and sweet.  More to come.  Penumbra is available for pre-order at Amazon!

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.
You can get more info at http://thefensk.com

Countdown to Penumbra-6

Penumbra-II
Six Days to Go!

With less than a week to go before publication, I’m going to let you in on a few of the surprises in my August release, PENUMBRA.

For the first of these surprises, I’d like to introduce you to a new character, Ximena.  Well, actually, she’s not quite a new character. We’ve met her twice before, in the first two books of the Traces of Treasure Series. She was a young girl in The Fever, a passenger in a car Sam encountered at a gas station in Fort Stockton Texas. She served as a translator for her aunt, an old bruja woman who discerned the danger surrounding Sam’s life and gave him a small stone that contained the power to help protect him.

After surviving the troubles in The Fever, Sam managed to lose track of the stone and danger followed him again in A Curse That Bites Deep because of its absence. The old woman sensed this and perceived the peril that Sam faced, so she looked him up to warn him. The young girl, now a few years older, served as the driver for her aunt.

In Penumbra, this girl is now a young woman of about nineteen. Her aunt recently died, passing the torch of responsibility to her young charge, who we learn is Ximena (pronounced Hi-men-a). Although new to brujeria, she does not take this duty lightly.

Brujeria is a form of spiritual belief akin to witchcraft in Latin American cultures. Ximena has been well instructed, and as we will find out, possesses perceptions and powers that go far beyond even a loose interpretation of normal.

Consider this passage from Penumbra, when Sam is about to encounter some of the bad guys unarmed.

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..the phone rang again.
“Smidgeon?”
“Sam! Where are you?”
“We just pulled into Carlsbad. Ximena made me stop and call you.”
Smidgeon’s heart skipped a beat. “What?”
“She suddenly pointed at a payphone on the side of the road and said I needed to call you right away. Is there anything wrong?”
“I just got off the phone with Holly. She told me that Earl called and let her talk to Dave. He’s in Carlsbad with Earl and Ding. She is supposed to come by herself along with the paper and meet them at a small store on Lea Street at 5 in the morning. She said it is on the west side of town.”
“I have the paper.”
“I know that. I was just fixing to call Mule to ask him what we should do when you called.”
“Call Holly, and tell her to stay put. I’ll handle it.”
“Sam, how can you face off with Earl and Ding? You don’t even have a gun.”
“I have Ximena.”

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She’s young and she’s short, about five feet tall, but she’s already proven that she can handle herself in a tense confrontation.

What can she do?  What does she do?  Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

Penumbra, the fourth book in my Traces of Treasure Series, is an adventure mystery that continues the adventures of Sam, Smidgeon, and Lance, along with a few other friends and characters.  Yes, the ghosts are back as well, more ghosts than you might expect. The first three books in the series are basically a trilogy, but this continuation of the series is quite capable of standing alone.  But I have to warn you: after reading this one you will be hooked; you will definitely want to go back and read the other three.  Just saying …

It will be available on August 1 at Amazon in Kindle, KindleUnlimited, and paperback.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. Find out more at http://thefensk.com

Two-Week Countdown

You've never read a Civil War tale like this! (1)If we were having coffee today, somehow, somewhere, I’m sure I’d mention the upcoming release.  My latest novel, The Hag Rider, is due out in two weeks!  Once all the writing and revisions are done, the editing and resulting changes are in, the copyediting and final review of the galleys are done, and the cover art is approved and ready … then an author must wait.  And wait.

If you self-publish, you can go ahead and push it out.  If you have a publisher, you wait for them to work it into their schedule.  It’s good, it teaches patience. It allows you to get a few pre-release reviews too, and in some instances gives you the ability to put in a few last-minute corrections your sharp-eyed early reviewers spotted.

So here we are … two weeks to go.  I’m working on some promotions but it is still just a tad early … I need the buy links to be in place.  I think that will be soon.

It’s got five good reviews now … check the book blurb and the reviews for The Hag Rider here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53125987-the-hag-rider.

Wait, what? What the heck is a hag rider?  Okay, we’re friends, so I’ll crack the door open a bit.  The entire story is loosely based on my great-great-grandfather, who enlisted in the 26th Texas Cavalry at the tender age of fifteen.  He listed his date of enlistment on his Confederate Pension application in the 1920s.  In fact, I think he flubbed his birth date (he was already in the initial stages of dementia at that time), but enlistment dates were checked against existing records (of which there were a surprising number).  If we took that date he would have been fourteen, but I prefer to use the birth date on his death certificate, which would make him fifteen.

I don’t know anything more about his service except his affirmation on his application that he never deserted.  There is, however, a very nice, if brief, sketch of the 26th Texas Cavalry written by its commander, Xavier DeBray, a French-trained military officer who relocated to Texas.  The 26th spent most of its time patrolling along the Texas coast and participated in the retaking of Galveston on January 1, 1863; it had been occupied by the Federal blockade fleet the previous October.  Later the 26th participated along with other forces trying to stop General Butler’s Red River campaign in 1864.

I read a lot of soldier biographies, where one gets a better sense of the war. So many people focus on the officers and the elites.  I then decided to scan for his name in an electronic version of The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.  It is a huge work, comprising many volumes.  It usually takes up two or three shelves in the library stacks.  It has the records from both sides, action reports, orders, all sorts of stuff.  Officers from both sides participated in cataloging all of the information over a number of years.  Anyway, I searched for his name, John Benson, and got a single hit.  A John Benson, origin unknown, was released from Fort Lafayette in NYC in the Spring of 1863, for exchange at City Point VA, which was a common thing in 1863.

I knew it was almost certainly NOT my ancestor but still … I wondered to myself, “What if?”

As I did more research, I began to formulate a believable scenario … my problem: how to get young John from Texas to NYC so he could be repatriated to the South in the spring of 1863.  This was the spark that gave me the idea for the entire story.  I think my fiction works and is believable.

Anyone who has read my other books knows, I love to put a subtle bit of paranormal into all my stories and this one is no different. The Hag Rider is the person who helps John, who is usually known as Jack in the story. He is sometimes called Captain Jack — a nickname foisted upon him in jest by his mentor, an old man, a slave, who teaches him a lot about life in the early part of the story. The Hag Rider is an old woman, a mixed-blood with some Native American and white ancestry, but her black ancestry has kept her a slave. She’s a hoodoo trick doctor, and an aquaintance of the old man.

When young Jack is attracted to the hoopla surrounding secession and aspires to enlist, the old man falls ill with grief.  He hires Vanita, the trick doctor, to protect Jack throughout the war.  Her weapon of choice is called hag riding.  It was a folkloric explanation of the time for night terrors; people would assume they’d been hag-ridden by a paranormal entity sitting on their chest. In Vanita’s case, she uses it as a way to instill something akin to a post-hypnotic suggestion in an effort to aid young Jack.

It is written as a Civil War memoir.  Yes, Jack serves for the confederacy but he is no fan of slavery and is quite confused by the many issues bandied about. Once in the cavalry, he feels honor-bound by his duty to his fellow soldiers and his unit.  He is captured and transported to that prison in NYC (the details work themselves out logically), then makes his way back across the south to his unit. Along the way … he finds that Vanita is following him every step and coercing help as needed through her tremendous power.

All initial reviews are very positive.  People seem to really engage with the story. It is not pro-Confederate; if anything it is anti-slavery, although, in the context of the story, Jack admits there is nothing much he can do about that institution except treat everyone he comes across decently, as his mentor always taught him.

I tried to write through him and show the war as a product of the times, in a matter-of-fact style, just like many of the other memoirs I read during research.  As Vanita tells him, she’s looked ahead and seen the outcome and knows the South is going to lose and understands that this war is a necessary thing to get rid of slavery once and for all.  She tells him she’s helping because he is going to be fighting to lose. Word of caution: don’t mess with Vanita Valine.  Seriously. Just don’t.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. Keep checking his web page for information about The Hag Rider … this is a book everybody will want to read, it’s not quite like any other Civil War story you’ve ever read and is suitable for YA as well as anyone else.  http://thefensk.com

STAY HOME & READ

 

Stay home & read (1)

I know a lot of people are stuck at home right now.  What a great time to catch up on your reading! The safest way right now to get new books to read is to embrace eBooks; they provide a wonderful combination of low price, easy online shopping, and immediate delivery.

Wait, you don’t own a kindle?  Amazon has you covered: https://amzn.to/39U6Rno
All you need is a tablet, iPad, computer, or even a phone.

To help get you started, I am offering the first novel of my adventure-mystery series on sale for 99 cents, from March 31 through April 6.
Get it here: https://www.amazon.com/Fever-Thomas-Fenske-ebook/dp/B010U5K1PI/

Be safe. Stay home and read!

 

 

What a Month!

coffeeshareAnd it ain’t over yet!  Not quite.

If we were having coffee today, well, hopefully, we wouldn’t be, would we?  Maybe we picked up to-go coffee at the drive-through and we’re talking in the parking lot like two cop cars comparing notes, me in my car and you in yours.

I’m sorry that I’ve been out of touch.  I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on, not one, but TWO novels.  In this case “finishing touches” means working through the changes from the editing process (third-party editors) and then working through the galley approval process, for one at least.  I still have that to complete on the second one.

My historical novel, THE HAG RIDER will be out in June.  It is set in the civil war and involves a bit of paranormal activity.  More later, but I can assure you my history degree came in quite handy while I was researching this one.  Hey, I’m finally working in my other field of study!  (I have a degree in English as well … so I’ve put that into use too).
The fourth installment of my Traces of Treasure series, PENUMBRA, will be published in August.  Still working on this one.  Same characters, plus a couple of new ones, a new mystery to unravel … early reports indicate this one surpasses all the others.

In other news:  COVID-19, Coronavirus, or as I like to call it, C19.

Demographics at this early stage of the game are useless. This is why I get tired of the endless talking heads on 24-hour news. We’re not even getting other news. How many people know a whack-job was stopped from bombing a hospital in KC last week? Not many. It’s true, look it up.

Here’s a statistic: A virus like this has the ability to spread exponentially. If unchecked, it WILL spread exponentially.  It can be like an out of control wildfire. Social distancing is the firebreak.
ANYONE can get this disease. Young, old, healthy, sick, male, female, and no matter the race and ethnic background.  It does not discriminate. Do not draw conclusions from the talking heads … if it gets into you, you have no idea how your particular metabolism will react to it.

The only defense against it is for people to refrain from socializing. Period. You can protect from the required occasional need for shopping by strenuous adherence to common sense: keep your distance and no face touching prior to effective hand cleaning or sanitizing. I keep sanitizer in the car

Yes, probably more people won’t get it than get it. A high percentage of people who get it survive it. Our fatality rate is small compared to Italy, but in Italy, it is at least 10% … it is what happens when the hospitals are swamped and they run out of supplies and equipment. A high percentage of the people who survive but are hospitalized do so because of respirators. When they run out, the fatality percentage increases. It will happen here too, in most areas. Also, when protective gear runs out, more health professionals get sick.

One other thing: yes, people who have some underlying condition have a real problem surviving. But a LOT of people get sick and die of this who had nothing else wrong with them. The truth be told, it will be years before the demographics on that are known. I don’t want to flip a coin on this thing …

“Let’s be careful out there …”
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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC.  Remember, ebooks are the safest books to shop for and read and they are immediately available, virus-free!  I have a specialized page with links to my books and some handy tips into joining the ranks of electronic readers.  My books are also available in paperback, but right now … well, I hope nobody coughed on them.
http://thefensk.com/fd.html

Work From Home!

 

workfromhomeIf you are able to, please work from home.  If you have never worked regularly from home, I “telecommuted” for the last twelve years at my last job and here are some tips for success I suggest you review.

Have a special work “place” in your home … another room like a spare bedroom is ideal. In my job, we HAD to do this and the door had to be lockable (gov security stuff)

Keep to a daily/hourly routine. (although my job was more like “hey, you can work 24 hours a day”). You need to police yourself.

My company had a special work-related instant messaging that worked great for co-worker interaction. If you have that, great. You might want to use FB messaging if nothing else.

I had a dedicated ip serviced phone/phone line, but you may not have that option. Skype might be a work option. It does not have to be video skype. It’s another good option for messaging too.

Learn to work from PDF copies because you’ll soon find yourself buried in pieces of paper if you print (and you’ll need extra supplies). In my last years at work, I had printer cartridges go dry because I printed so rarely.

I saw on TV someone suggested get dressed like a normal workday. I’d say that is optional unless you video conference.

Some people may want to do video conferencing, but I’d say voice conferencing is good enough. BUT, research screen sharing apps if you ever need to have someone look over your shoulder.

Most important: keep liquid beverages at least an arm’s length from your laptop/keyboard. Lean away from your workstation to sip. Hardware support is much farther away when you work at home.

Keep the TV off.
Do your work.
Get into a routine.

It all seems like common sense but for me, it required a learning curve. It’s a great and convenient option, so don’t squander the apparent freedom of it. Remind others at home that you are, in fact, at WORK.

It is hard to do at first but if you stick with it, it becomes normal.

New Year/New Game

coffeeshareIf we were having coffee today, I’d be beaming.  “It’s on me,” I’d say.  “Go ahead and have a pastry too.”

Several developments have cropped up on the author front.  For one, December was one of my most promising and successful months ever. We’re not talking about a big moneymaker yet, but a very good free book promotion on my first novel, The Fever, resulted in a definite uptick in sales for the other two books in the trilogy.  I also saw a distinct spike in the number of pages read on KindleUnlimited.  In this case, readers pay a monthly charge and they can read any of the books contained in the KindleUnlimited program. The royalty is a bit reduced but then again, these folks are a different market too, prolific readers who aren’t going to buy individual books.  I tend to focus on the “prolific readers” part of that equation.

A while back I dusted off an old manuscript I wrote five years ago; it was still a rough draft.  I pitched it to an agent at an author conference I attended and was invited to submit it.  It was a lark.  I mean, I already have a publisher who likes my writing.  I wondered if maybe I could step it up a notch.  I quickly worked it up and submitted it.  No word in seven months.  I even requested an update a couple of times, within the timeframes on the agency’s website.

Nothing.

Disheartened, I considered self-publishing.  It is indeed a viable option. I requested quotes for the various stages of pre-publishing work.  The costs are high.  I was willing to invest the money, but I also decided to do a little pragmatic introspection.  I already had a relationship with a small publisher, Wings ePress. It’s a small step up from self-publishing, but in many aspects, it is very similar. In the end, I decided to submit the manuscript to them.  I am happy to report that I have now contracted to publish this new novel, The Hag Rider.  It is not part of my published series, it is a stand-alone historical fiction book with a strong paranormal component.  I’ll give you more information about it in the coming months.

Right on top of that, I’ve been actively working on a new installment of my Traces of Treasure series.  I just finished the first revision pass.  It is working up very nicely and in a very short time.  I can see that my story development and writing is getting better with every project.  I did something this week I’ve never done. I enlisted one of my trusted beta readers to give the manuscript a quick read … after the first revision.  I have always waited to complete the second revision to do this.  I got a glowing report.  Very encouraging.  I still want to complete a second revision, but if I still feel the same way, I’ll be submitting it very soon.  (Oh, geez, I’m committing myself now).

Anyway, I’m hoping my progress continues into the rest of 2020, but I do know that editing and manuscript reviews of two different novels in quick succession is going to be a challenge, and it will take time away from new writing.  And working on two books in quick succession is confusing … “Wait, is this Sam or is this Jack?”

Anyway, I’m stoked.  Go ahead and order something else.  What do you have on tap in 2020?

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC. Get more information about him and his current books here:  http://thefensk.com