What Would YOU Do?

Like the riddle in the Sam’s life, the idea for this story smoldered in my soul for thirty years.

It’s a “what if” tale:

What if happenstance introduced the notion of finding a lost gold mine into your life?

What if even the minimum of research proved that certain facts you were given were true?

What if everyone you knew thought the idea was totally nuts?

What if it cost you every cent you managed to save?

What would you do?

Would you worry about the weather, the fact that you must trespass, or the danger?

No, it would become your new normal.

I’ll tell you what you would do.

You would likely catch THE FEVER.

That is what this story is about.

How far would you go to feed your Fever?


#Weekendcoffeeshare – Flashback

img_6284If we were having coffee, I’d mention my recent flashback.  You see my wife has been a bit under the weather of late and I was just picking up a prescription for her.  Oh, thanks for asking, I think she’ll be okay, but I glanced at the prescription on the way to the car and saw what she was prescribed and I was transported back in time.

You see, it was 29 years ago that I participated in a drug study for that very drug.  Yes, I was a paid guinea pig.  I was living in Austin at the time, working a the University of Texas, and had long noted the regular advertisements in the student newspaper about drug testing opportunities.  Christmas was coming and money was a little tight and the prospects of  an easy $1200 seemed like a good idea.  Easy.  Yeah, right.

You had to be clean, drug-wise.  There was no problem with that.   Ah, but you also had to be CLEAN, drug-wise, during the entire study.  This was a little more intense.  That meant, of course, no alcohol, but it also meant, well, no anything else.  I mean caffeine, aspirin, cold remedies … nothing prescribed nor over-the-counter.  No caffeine included no chocolate too because it indeed has caffeine.

I passed the initial screening and passed the interview and so I had to begin decaffeinating myself.  The protocol was to go into their facility on a Saturday night to enforce a 12 hour fast prior to dosing.  It wasn’t like a blind test or anything, the drug was essentially already approved, this was what they called an absorption study.  They’d monitor our blood for traces of the drug before, during, and after the dosing.  It meant they needed a lot of blood draws.  Apparently not as many as some because we didn’t qualify for a vascular catheter where they would stick us once and grab a vial whenever they needed  No, we were stuck each and every time.  Once before the dose, then hourly for four hours, then every two hours for a few draws, then the interval increased.  Then, after 24 hours (and our 24-hour draw) we were released and had to return every day for the next six days for another 24-hour draw.  Then a week off.  This was repeated four times.  You had to complete the entire series of tests to get the entire payout … half of it was a completion bonus so if you dropped out it wasn’t quite worth it.

I have to admit that it was both interesting and grueling at the same time.  It was Autumn and we basically stayed in a big dorm and watched football all day.  They fed us okay.  We had to keep track of our trusty clipboards.  You got to know the guys who were ahead of you in line … it helped to notice that they were going to their next scheduled blood draw so you’d know you were up soon.  They did not like you to mess up their schedule and they’d hunt you down.

You became a bit of a connoisseur of phlebotomists.  Some were awesome.  Some, not so much, and you’d already be wincing inside when you turned down the hall and saw they were working.  The hourly draws were the worse … God forbid you got bruised on both arms.  We’d all try to alternate but if you got bruised on, say, your right arm, you might feel the need to double-up on the left the next two draws.  One phlebotomist told me it wasn’t so much the person as you might just get a needle with a tiny defect.  I didn’t believe him 100%.  One woman bruised me every time.  We developed all sorts of theories and techniques for avoiding injury, like slinking down in the chair to straighten out the arm and veins.  They would laugh and say that didn’t matter but I swear it seemed to work for me.

By the time we got to the every other hour intervals it seemed like a huge relief, and when it switched to every four hours, it was like heaven.  There was one at 18-hours when most of us would be asleep in our assigned bunks and they’d come wake us.  Seriously, the worst was the the six daily 24-hour draws because the facility was far across town from where I lived so I had to get up extra early (my scheduled time was 6:52AM) and drive all the way there for one stick, then go back home.

After Saturday morning we’d have a week off. There was still no caffeine or any kind of medication allowed during the off week between testing weekends.  Some people got sick and had to go on antibiotics … OUT.  Some just couldn’t take it any more … OUT.  There were pro-rated payments for participation but like I said, HALF of the amount was a completion bonus.

There were also other tests going on, but we were pretty lucky because for three of our weekends the place was pretty empty. That fourth weekend, though, the facility was packed.  And there were issues with thefts that weekend too.  It obviously wasn’t our group … we had a camaraderie, but there was friction with the new groups, and with the thefts there was a lot of paranoia.  With the tension, people were upset a lot of the time and we were all searched prior to leaving that weekend too.  My sunglasses were taken which was stupid of somebody because they were prescription.  I eventually found them in one of the dorms … I guess they weren’t interested when they found out they couldn’t see through them.

The very last Saturday, when we got our checks after our last blood draw, they also had pots of coffee, bottles of coke, and chocolate cake & brownies waiting for us.  It was an ordeal, to be sure, but like I said, it was interesting.

This was for THAT drug.  Huh.   Hope it helps her.

Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC.  Information on his novel, The Fever, is available at http://www.thefensk.com
His next novel, A Curse That Bites Deep, is due out next month!

Is It or Isn’t It?

Somebody asked me the other day about the headline on my website:  “Not Just Another Lost Gold Mine Story”

Well, beyond the obvious answer (it isn’t!) … there is a story behind the comment. 
I had entered The Fever in a contest where the winners would be considered for distribution to movie and television producers. Hey, I thought, The Fever would make a great movie! In fact, when I was first attempting to write the story, I seriously considered doing it as a screenplay instead. But in the early days I was just as successful in avoiding writing a screenplay as I was in avoiding writing a novel.  

Anyway, one aspect of this contest was that they would give you feedback on your submission. They did. They pointed out that it looked like a good story and all but it seemed to be “just another lost gold mine story.”

“Great,” I thought to myself, “I knew I should have rewritten Freaky Friday instead!”  

Oh, I’m fairly pragmatic about such things, and saw this feedback as more of a problem with my submission materials rather than the quality of the work itself. I think submissions like this are a bit like grant writing, there is an art to it and it is a skill I haven’t quite mastered, along with writing book blurbs and good headlines I guess. 

 But there you have it … I wanted to emphasize the fact that it ISN’T just another lost gold mine story. The hero Sam realizes he has become stagnated and his isolation is holding him back. He finally figures out that he HAS to change or he’ll never find what he’s looking for.  

I think that’s good advice … I probably need to change the headline and blurb to something new before too long.  

Thomas Fenske http://www.thefensk.com

Isn’t It Time You WON Something?

This is just a friendly reminder that there are still TWO COPIES (Kindle version) of my novel, THE FEVER up  for grabs on an Amazon Giveaway.  No purchase necessary, just go and enter for a chance to win.

What’s The Fever?  I’m glad you asked.

What if someone told you how to find a lost gold mine?
What would YOU do?
THE FEVER is about Sam Milton, and that’s exactly what happened to him. Now he is obsessed with finding it and it hasn’t been easy. Time, money, skepticism … he deals with all these things and, in the process, he’s lost friends, lost love, and begins to question his own sanity. Still he goes out … again and again, trespassing, risking his life, and his freedom … for what? He doesn’t know anything except the raw urging that tugs at his soul, driving him to continue.
How far would you go to feed your FEVER?

Click below to enter the giveaway … it takes just a second … and you don’t need a kindle to enter.


Amazon has a kindle app for just about any device.  Open up your world!


Sometimes Life Imitates Art

As I was reading this story:


I was amazed at the parallels between between this real-life drama and some of the situations I wrote about in my novel The Fever.  The novel was published long before the tragedy of this man’s disappearance but his apparent fixation with his treasure parallels the trail of obsession for the Lost Sublett Mine my main character Sam follows in the book.  As I explained while detailing Sam’s fictional quest, such an endeavor is extremely dangerous.   In Sam’s case, no one knew exactly where he was headed.  He almost died within the novel’s pages and I made it very plain, it would have been quite a while before anybody found him.  If ever.

My heart goes out to this family.  Even though I concocted and imagined a similar scenario, I can not help but feel sorry for their plight … I know how helpless they feel.  Here’s hoping that he turns up soon, hopefully alive and well.

The Story So Far …

img_5454I am often asked: what is The Fever about?
It’s about Sam. All you really need to know about Sam is that his life revolves around a cryptic riddle and the mystery of a lost gold mine.
Here’s a tidbit one of my readers recently shared.  Women love Sam.  Readers, I mean.  Men enjoy the story but women seem to get involved with it.
I have to admit, never expected that when I cobbled this idea together into a novel.
Back to the story:  As Sam struggles to solve the riddle, he knows deep in his heart that the clues will eventually lead him to his treasure, but his obsession has always resulted in frustrating dead ends and the danger increases every time he heads out into the unknown.
Still, he continues to trespasses over difficult terrain in all weather conditions, always seeking an elusive truth he knows is out there … somewhere.
His fruitless obsession has alienated family and friends and he even lost the woman he loved.   For what?  Something that is always just out of reach, somewhere beyond the next ridge or up the next gully.
As he manages to piece together the clues, his simmering gold fever begins to burns hot, unleashing a passion that drives him to make yet another hazardous trip into the rugged and remote West Texas wilderness.
The Fever drives him on … but how far will his lust for gold take him?
Go for the gold:  http://www.thefensk.com

Two Weeks In

IMG_4814-1Well, here we are two weeks into the new year … I guess it has finally hit.
So … Happy New Year?   Yeah, right.

I just got the royalty report on my novel’s first six months.   Well, that was a bit depressing, but hey,  I already knew that a first novel was going to be tough going.   But I didn’t know it was going to be this tough.  So I did what any self-respecting author would do … dug in and did a lot of work on the next one.  The sequel to The Fever is coming along nicely.

I did just complete a facebook ad campaign, the most successful one to date.  I’ve run a handful of them in the past.  Well, if success can be judged just by numbers.  Still, according to facebook, I got some information about the book in front of about 3,000+ people.  And 173 post engagements … like  people clicked the ad or liked it or shared it … all the possibilities listed in the ad manager.

So, the subject of this post is … BUY MY BOOK … uh, Please?     Not just for me.  It really is a good read.  Everybody who has read it has liked it.

If you are interested, here’s the link to my web page:
http://thomasfenske.weebly.com  … where I have links to all the pertinent sales sites.
All ebooks now on sale for $3.99
Amazon has a paperback at $13.95 …

Finding Treasure



It is such a simple word but the worlds that revolve around it are complex.

For example, here we are in the week between Christmas and New Years. It seems like a dead zone between the two holidays, like some kind of time vortex or something. I think that is probably because I usually take the entire week off … in fact, a lot of people do. This notion of taking this week off was a convenient concept when I was working out the plot elements in The Fever because the character Sam Milton was just a regular guy who needed a long block of time-off from work for his latest adventure.  For that reason, the climatic scenes of the novel take place right about now.

You see, Sam isn’t a gold miner, he is a part-time treasure hunter and in his ten year search to uncover the meaning of Slim Longo’s cryptic last words he has failed at every turn.
When he finally thinks he has solved one of the clues revealed by the dying man,  he knows he will need several days to renew his search.  For him, that means using the week between Christmas and New Years.  But this past week’s winter storm in west Texas has emphasized one of Sam’s biggest concerns, especially with winter hikes: the unpredictable Texas weather.

He always said he wouldn’t go out in the winter because it was a bad plan. Ah, but at this juncture, when he is on the brink of solving one of the clues, he decides he must go out as soon as possible, despite the season. Why?   Well … because he is caught in the grips of Gold Fever, and for Sam that trumps common sense.  Sure, he says he’ll abort the trip if the weather changes, but will he?
It isn’t even about any actual gold at this point. It is about the thought of gold.  The potential for a nugget or a few specs of color in a pan is all he can think about and the details get lost in the dream and when that happens … well, isn’t that why we keep reading … to find out, right?
How would you feed YOUR Fever?

There will be many cold winter nights ahead, warm up and read The Fever and find out how Sam got to this point in time and what happens next.


Many thanks to the Freddy Dodge Gold Recovery Facebook page for graciously granting me permission to use a photo of some awesome gold nuggets along with a few flecks of “color” … that’s the real thing, folks … “the stuff that dreams are made of …”