Adios to a Friend

I said goodbye to Gypsy this morning. She was fourteen and was always a loyal and loving companion. She was an awesome cat.

We rescued her along with four siblings from one of our out buildings in 2008. We gave away three and kept Gypsy and her litter brother, Dobie.

She was a feisty kitten. We’d feed all five all at once and she was always first to the feast where she’d lay claim to “her” pile of food, straddling it and hissing and spitting; it was hilarious.

She’s been an exemplary cat , very opinionated and headstrong. Example, when she was still a kitten I found her sleeping among the branches of the Christmas tree.

She loved her naps and spent a lot of time snuggling with me.

Most of all I’m going to miss her kisses. That’s right. Miss Gypsy (as I often called her) absolutely loved to give me kisses, right on the lips.

Adios, my sweet girl, I’m already missing you.

Thomas Fenske is an author living in North Carolina.


With the release of Harmon Creek coming in June I wanted to fill in these last few days with something. Then it occurred to me: FREEBIE!

Get it here:

I have to admit that I’ve been surprised that THE HAG RIDER is almost universally liked. It appeals to both adult readers and YA readers.

Yes, it’s about the Civil War and yes, it’s about a Confederate soldier, but it’s also about his struggle to come to terms with his conflicted viewpoints. And through it all, he is protected by a slave witch hired by his best friend and mentor, another slave. His allegiance is not to the South, it is to his soldier brothers for whom the war is camp duty and friendship.

Give it a try. It’s free May 18-21.


Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC. His next novel, Harmon Creek, is due out in June 2022

Help me help a friend with her celebration

Today at 12PM EDT my friend and fellow writer Staci Morrison will be hosting an event on Facebook to celebrate both the one year anniversary of the inauguration of her MILLENNIUM epic fantasy series AND the publication of the fourth volume in that series, Sword OF THE SPIRIT.

Congratulations to Staci … four books in one year is quite an accomplishment!

I’ll be participating at 1PM EDT with some information about my own books … You can join at 12 for Staci or you can join at 1 to see what I have to offer. Other authors will be participating. There will be drawings for free books and some other stuff as well. I’ll be giving away a copy of THE HAG RIDER!

Click here to join the fun >> on the event link for Millennium Madness << Click here to join in the fun!!!

Remember, it starts at 12PM EDT!

Getting Published – 3

I was in new territory. I had a contract with a small independent press. Very soon I received the edited copy, which meant I had to do something I’d never done before. Now you should know that I had worked with personal computers since, well, since the very beginning. I cut my teeth on WordStar on an ancient CP/M machine. If you don’t know what that is, it’s not surprising. We’re talking old, old stuff. But it was a good intro into word processing and I’ve progressed in that regard since then. I’ve used probably a half dozen word processors. There is no secret that Microsoft Word is the apparent standard, it’s the best overall. Cost is an issue, I know, but you should understand that IT is what the publishing world wants to use. Sure, there are converters and such, but when you get that edited copy back, IN WORD, you’re going to want to be able to work IN WORD.

The edits are embedded in the text using a built-in feature. I knew this was there, I’d been using Word for twenty plus years, but I’d never used it, so I had to teach myself to do so, like yesterday. I was under the gun. They had given me, a fledgling, less than one month to devour all of the prerequisite steps and jump out of the nest. I’m a quick study and I quickly ran through the edits, approving suggested changes or altering as I went along. You have to alter in the edit mode, so the editor can in turn approve your changes. It’s a partnership at this point. The process is tedious, but after a couple of quick back and forth operations, both the editor and I agreed on the manuscript.

Then I waited. Well, not completely. Then I hastily filled out a form from the publisher. It contained a lot of things I’d never even thought of and I tell you this now. Think about these things before you are ready to submit. You should have a few ideas about cover elements before you ever get to the publishing step. You should also be well-set in your concept of genre, something I sort of glossed over. It is surprising to see aspiring writers with no sense of genre. Literary fiction? That’s like setting up your friend with a blind date and saying they “have a good personality.”

I concocted a dedication and “acknowledgment” mention. You also need to come up with meta-tags. If you don’t know what those are, do some research and think about them NOW. Then the dreaded tag lines and descriptions and blurbs. They also want review quotes, but that’s just like rubbing it in for a new author. Reviews? It’s not published yet. Anyway, these short descriptions are the bane of many an author. We can slam out 90,000 words but are stumped by conveying the gist of the story in a mere 200. (Hint: practice the elevator pitch, you are trying to convince someone to read your book while going up a few floors in an elevator). I struggled but completed the task.

A rushed cover design was submitted to me. Early on I had figured I’d be self-publishing and had secured the rights to an awesome photo, taken in the same general area where the action of the novel takes place. The cover was presented to me. It looked good. I approved. Another step was complete.

While all of this was taking place the copyeditor was going over the text. In a short time, I was soon sent a PDF of the actual book, with the cover, a title page, copyright page, dedication, and then the book itself. In publishing terms this is called a galley. It looked great. I was flush with a sense of accomplishment. Then I read the fine print. I had to review it. Quickly. Time was short. Earlier I mentioned that the edits were tedious. They were nothing compared to the galley review. Line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter. I found perhaps 40 or 50 errors, all of which I detailed in a separate Word document called an errata, copying the line as it appeared, followed by a new line with the correction. This was my first time. It took me almost three days because it is brain numbing work the first time (takes me less time now).

I made a big mistake in this process, compounded by another after the fact. One, I didn’t know one should review EVERYTHING. I reviewed just the manuscript portion. Trust me. Review everything. I’ll tell you why in a moment. The second mistake came when I received the corrected galley as an attachment. As it happened, I was working full-time and I got really busy at work, so I felt confident that all was done and the book would be published on time. Here’s a word of advice: ALWAYS CHECK THE CORRECTED GALLEY. Go through your errata list and make sure each and every correction has been made. Even now, after five published books, I know to review the corrections, and with every book I find a few minor errors were made in applying the corrections, usually one or two. This re-check takes a few minutes and it is well worth it. But this first time, I didn’t know that. I skipped it. More on this soon.

Publication day came and that was when it finally dawned on me that the most daunting task of any author had come to a head. These days I describe authorship this way. Writing a novel is hard. Revision is harder. Marketing the sucker kicks me in the ass. It’s as true now as it was then, except then I had absolutely no clue on how to proceed. See, with a big trade publisher, they’ll shepherd you through the process. They spend money on it and do a lot of background. They invest in the product. But even then, YOU have to do a lot yourself. With a small indie publisher, it’s pretty much up to you. First timer? You have to build from the ground up. So I did what anybody would do in 2015. I googled it. Oh, a web page? I can do that. I had a web page before most people knew they even existed. Facebook book page? Easy. Slowly I built an infrastructure, even this blog was part of that process (although I’ve changed the name a couple of times).

Still, sales were slow, mostly friends and family. Then I got the first bad news. My name was misspelled on the title page (but thankfully not on the cover). I was in horror. It was actually my mistake or two mistakes. In my rush to fill out the author form apparently, one pesky key had stuck and omitted itself from my name. I hadn’t read it over. Then, in the galley review, well, remember when I said check EVERYTHING? I should have caught it then. Yes, we can hope that others will catch things down the line, but ultimately, the blame comes down to me for not completely reviewing the galleys. Guess which thing I check first now? Anyway, if you bought one of those early paperbacks you have a collector’s item. The publisher agreed to fix it. Luckily with Print-on-Demand paperbacks, the damage is minimal and ebooks are easy.


Readers were reporting more errors. Lots of errors. Familiar errors. This time it was the publisher’s fault. In their haste they had uploaded the wrong file, the UNCORRECTED galley. Again, if I had checked the galley after the corrections, I would have seen it immediately, page one. This one was trickier. They didn’t believe this could have happened. I spent a week convincing them. They had already corrected the name and they had a policy of not wanting to correct every little thing. After all, they had new books for the coming month to work on. In the meantime, I had ceased my lame marketing attempts waiting for the corrections. Finally, they took a look at what I was sending them and realized I was right and it had been their error. Double-checking the galley is not even suggested, that’s my own new rule. Finally, 3 1/2 weeks in, I had the corrected book in print. There were a few other hiccups with the book, but from then on, I considered myself a successful author.


Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. You can find information on his books here:

Countdown to Penumbra – 3


There are three days until the release of Penumbra!

Today I’d like to share a little bit about the story. This is the fourth installment of the Traces of Treasure Series and, like the others, it involves a search for a treasure. The first three eventually became a trilogy, one story led directly to the next. I fooled myself into thinking they could each stand-alone, and to some extent, I guess they can, but they are definitely tied together. Penumbra, though, is a story unto itself. We have the same characters, but we are not as concerned about their past exploits this time. Events move quickly and although there is some sense of their community of friendship, they are too busy doing what they are doing to bother much about the past.

What they are doing is trying to find the lost boyfriend of an acquaintance of cafe owner Smidgeon Toll. Of course, the pendulum of fate has made another pass: HE was on a quest for a lost treasure. In order to find him, Smidgeon and her boyfriend must enlist the aid of their friends to first get on his trail, then discern more about this treasure he was after. Along the way, they encounter a huge, centuries-old mystery, confront a crew of bad guys who kidnap and murder their own way in pursuit of the loot. New friends join the quest as well, including Ximena, who I mentioned a few days ago.

Another new friend is Bea Welbourne, a special collections librarian at a nearby university. Bea has no reason to become involved, but she’s intrigued by the tale she’s heard and is even more intrigued by the trail of clues she manages to uncover. She’s no stodgy librarian, she is smart, fit, and can hold her own out in the wilderness. When told she doesn’t need to help them, she simply responds that she enjoys a bit of excitement. She certainly gets more than she bargained for.

I don’t want to say too much more, because I’m getting into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, there are many veiled layers concealing the core of this mystery. All the pieces fit together, but it takes a while for our hardy crew of treasure-hunter, investigators to a conclusion.  It is full of twists and turns, with criminals lurking and popping up when you least expect it. And there are several supernatural things complicating matters at several turns. Oh, and the cover? You’ll see all of that in the story.

If you haven’t read any of the other three books, don’t despair … you can read this one first if you want, but be warned: you’ll end up wanting to read the other three.
Penumbra will be released on August 1. The Kindle edition is available for pre-order on Amazon right now.


Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.
You can get more info at

Countdown to Penumbra – 4


There are four days until the release of Penumbra!

How about another review?

Diane Bylo is co-owner of the Tometender Book Blog. She is an awesome book-reviewing machine. I just checked her totals on GoodReads and Diane has at this moment, 6490 reviews posted.  By the time you go check, it will most likely be more!
She took a chance on my first book, The Fever, and has reviewed every one of my titles since then. I told her I thought this was the best book so far, and she agreed.  Here’s what she had to say:


Thomas Fenske’s writing, his characters and the scrapes they get into always remind me of simpler times and dare I say the family television of yesteryear? PENUMBRA is the latest in the Traces of Treasure series and it combines mystery, mayhem and a touch of the unknown as Sam, Smidgeon and their friends take time off from the diner and head to the hills for adventure.

This time out, Sam isn’t at the top of his game, so when someone Smidgeon met before seeks her help in finding her missing boyfriend, the plot thickens as the whole truth comes out. There is treasure buried in them thar hills and isn’t that just right up their alley?

Whose treasure is it? How can it be found? Who knows the secret to finding something buried centuries before? Who will live to uncover the truth? Who is scamming who? Hang on tight, this down-home mystery has Sam and company up to their pickaxes in deceit and the supernatural and you are going to love it as old friends return, once again!


I’d like to remind you that Penumbra is available for Kindle pre-order at Amazon. For paperbacks, you’ll have to wait for the pub date.


Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.
You can get more info at

Weekend Coffee Share Musings

A tranquil moment at Reed’s

If we were having coffee today we’d probably still be relegated to sitting six feet from one another at some outdoor venue. These are sad times for coffee shares. Actually, I just got the news that Reed’s Coffee & Art, my favorite local coffee spot, is closing this weekend. It is another casualty of the ongoing pandemic.

If you think about it, coffee shops, despite the huge markups for fancy drinks, struggle to make any money anyway. Locally, they didn’t have to close like bars were forced to do but that difference of people hanging out seems to have tipped the scales against them. I feel guilty that I haven’t been a good customer the past few months but then again, I’m pretty much a medium cup, black coffee kind of guy.

I may have mentioned before, I was a part-time barista for about eight years so I am pre-disposed to not spend the extra money on … oh, how can I put it … extra milk. But, that’s just me. I made awesome lattes and cappuccinos. I occasionally bought pastries from this shop, but not since my diabetes diagnosis. Basically, I had become a low-end customer, but they still treated me like I was one of their best and it was a welcome quiet port in the storm of daily life. Oh, and they had good wifi. I even managed a bit of writing and revision, sitting and sipping.

Here’s to Reed’s Coffee and Art, in Mebane. Adios, you will be missed.


Thomas Fenske is an author living in NC. You can find out more about him and his books at
PENUMBRA, book 4 in his Traces of Treasure series will be published August 1!



Stay home &amp; 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:
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:

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 …”

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.

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.