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 – 2

penumbra-web

There are two days until the release of Penumbra!
It is the fourth book in my Traces of Treasure Series.

I guess it is time for another review!  Bonnye Reed is another prolific Goodreads reviewer with almost 2900 reviews posted. She’s reviewed several of my books and I am gratified that she has so far liked my work:

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I am pleased to refer Thomas Fenske to friends and family. He writes a tight, intriguing story set in the desert southwest – or as we know it, God’s Country. His characters are contrary but honest, and his background and scenic descriptions are spot-on. The addition of mystical and possibly unhappy spirits is an added bonus. I have enjoyed everything I have read from Thomas Fenske, and this is another five-star effort.

Penumbra is stand alone, the fourth in the series Traces of Treasure. Sam and his girlfriend Smidgeon along with several of their friends get drawn into another intriguing search for missing treasure. They travel over the desert SW, driving from Van Horn, TX north into the White Mountain Wilderness north of Ruidoso, NM, and back around and through the Mescalero Reservation and Tularosa, Alamogordo, and several trips through Roswell – back in the age of payphones and Roswell without aliens everywhere. It was a good trip, very nostalgic and satisfying. It was also back in the ago of mandatory 55 mph all across the US, but the drudgery of travel in that time period is left out thank goodness. Most of us remember that all too well. .

Mixed into Penumbra is a posse of good friends, conscientious law enforcement, polite, helpful people, and excellent food – I enjoyed that part of traveling back in the day. You will, too. And the bad guys are satisfyingly bad. Definitely a win-win novel.

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I am blushing when I read such high praise. You can judge for yourself.
Penumbra will be available on Amazon Saturday, August 1, in Kindle, KindleUnlimited, and Paperback.  Pre-order Kindle NOW at Amazon!

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.
You can find more information about him and his writing at http://thefensk.com

Countdown to Penumbra – 3

penumbra-web

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.

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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-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

Weekend Coffee Share Musings

reeds
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.

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

Publishing Anniversary!

thefeverfreebieIf we were having coffee today we probably still wouldn’t be sitting at a table inside, but I’d be telling you about the upcoming anniversary.

No, silly, it’s not my wedding anniversary. July 1 is the publishing anniversary of my first novel, THE FEVER. It is hard to believe it has been five years. What was developed as a single story has turned into the Traces of Treasure Series … three books out now and more to come!

It is quite an astounding thing when a writer metamorphoses into an AUTHOR. For one thing, nothing can quite prepare you for the need to market yourself AS an author. You’ve been slaving away, tweaking sentences and paragraphs for years, coddling a mismatched set of letters into something that is hopefully legible to the teeming masses.

In my case, I had spent almost three years writing and revising THE FEVER before I submitted it to the small publisher Wings ePress at the suggestion of a fellow writer. After a polite nudging from the editor about a problem with the narrative (meaning there was just too darned much narrative), I spent another two months correcting that problem and actually changing a major part of the plot to accommodate changes I had made. Imagine my surprise when I received a contract along with the astounding revelation that they wanted to fast-track the book for publication in ONE MONTH.

This is the literary equivalent of throwing a child into the middle of the lake to teach swimming.  Publishing requires a number of steps that must be followed in order and there are handoffs between author and editor along the way. Covers have to be designed and approved, minor editor tweaks need to be reviewed and sometimes discussed and finalized. Then the copyeditor cleans the whole thing up, after which the author gets the “almost” final copy. The galley.  I need to go over every word in the entire book with a fine-toothed comb.

In subsequent books, I’ve had the luxury of a week to ten days to work on the galley. For this, my first book, I had just a few days.  It involves painstakingly reading the book to find any tiny error that might have been missed.   Sometimes a sentence has to be reworded to correct a spacing problem with justification. It is tedious because you are working from a PDF file, copying the offending line, then adding a corrected line with errors/corrections highlighted (at least with this publisher).

Once they make all the corrections they send you the final galley.  I figured, “Well, that’s it. In a few days, I’ll have a book!”

Experience has taught me there are two problems here.  First, checking EVERY SINGLE WORD in the book does not mean just the novel part of the book. It means the cover, the front matter, the title page, the copyright page … any manner shape or form of ink that appears between the covers right down to the biography and back page. The second problem arrives with the corrections. When the author gets that corrected galley, it must absolutely be checked that all the corrections have, in fact, been made.  The problem? I did not know to do either of these things.

The book was published and I was making sales.  Then I started to get a few polite emails pointing out some errors.  Quite a few emails, actually.  Familiar errors.  Errors I was pretty sure I had caught. Some glaring and embarrassing errors too, like my name was misspelled on the title page and in the biography (this was my fault and I should have caught it on the galley but didn’t check either).

I bought the books to double-check against the corrections I submitted.  NONE OF THEM had been done.  Frantic, frustrating communications with the publisher followed and they couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the fact that they had uploaded the UNCORRECTED GALLEYS.

I was told, “This is the first time this has ever happened!”  What the executive editor surmised was that she hadn’t saved the copy after making the corrections.  More on this later. The corrections were all made and new editions of the book were uploaded, although for some reason most of the errors persisted on the Kindle edition for another two years.  Publishers concentrate on the publication, not on the correction.  Anyway, that was my first real lesson in publishing. If I had simply double-checked the corrections, most of that would have been avoided.

Oh, I mentioned, “more on this” … I recently completed the galley review of the upcoming fourth novel in the series, PENUMBRA.  I poured over the galleys (every single word) and turned in quite a few corrections.  I got the corrected galleys and proceeded to double-check. Uh-oh. Not a single change had been made. Yes, the current executive editor had done exactly the same thing, not saved the corrections.  Like deja vu all over again!  Oh, I’ve learned to triple and in some cases quadruple check the corrections. I’m happy to report that PENUMBRA is in excellent shape and I think it is my best book yet!  It is due out in August.

I chalked it all up to inexperience on my part and what I call “Fenske Luck.”  The celebrate this anniversary, I’m offering the Kindle edition of THE FEVER for FREE through this weekend!  Go check it out, read the 38 reviews, and maybe grab a copy.  I’ll admit, it is definitely a first novel … each subsequent novel gets better.

To get THE FEVER … click >>>—> HERE

Warning: it is addictive … you WILL want to read the next three!

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Thomas Fenske lives in NC but he writes mostly about his home state of Texas!
You can find out more at http://thefensk.com

Let’s talk

If we were somehow having coffee today I’d probably be in a hurry to get back, so here is a truncated narrative on my views of all the current issues.

Masks. Wear them. It is NOT a political statement. It is NOT an action based on fear. If you are a conservative like me, yet think that means you are anti-mask, understand this, if it helps. I consider wearing a mask to be an extension of my second amendment rights. Period. I will arm myself however I wish to protect me and my family. Period.  If you don’t wear a mask on principle, I hope you at least wash your hands after going to the bathroom, but I don’t hold out much hope.

Black Lives Matter.  Of course they do. This choking stuff? Where did that come from? It’s obviously a bogus tactic. Here’s the deal: if someone is being choked to keep them from continuing to struggle, it is completely counter to human nature. Not being able to breathe is one of the strongest fear responses ingrained into every human being. Can’t breathe… must struggle.  It is a counter-productive tactic.

To the ‘all lives matter’ people: yes, of course they do too, and I’ve seen a lot of videos of the same thing happening to all races (and the same thing above applies) but you have to understand that the highly disproportionate numbers of these cases involve blacks.  Period. And for what? a counterfeit bill?  Another guy in Texas didn’t dim his headlights? No one faults police for reacting with force when someone points a gun at them. The cases people are protesting weren’t like that. They were convictions, trials, and executions for infractions that should in no way involve execution. I think people have a right to be worked up. Enough is enough.

What about the rioting and looting? Wrong.  Never a justified response. There is a big difference between protest and riot. It doesn’t help the valid cause people are marching for … not at all.  Kudos to the brave souls who worked to stop it.  It could very well have escalated into something no one wants to experience.

Military bases named after Confederates, and Statues honoring them? I’m from the south, and I have a degree in history so I can add a little perspective. Grant has a great observation on this in his memoir (an awesome book), reflecting on the surrender of Lee:  “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

We, in the south, were influenced by teachers themselves influenced by a flawed narrative known as “the lost cause.” It involved rationalizations that do not hold up to historical scrutiny, in my opinion. Most of the monuments are extensions of the lost cause mentality and were erected to displace shame. The fort namings are an extension of this … no doubt something to placate the suspicions of placing “US” forts on southern soil by naming them after southern “heroes.” Oddly, some of them were awful military leaders … Hood and Bragg?  People call Grant a butcher (part of the lost cause narrative) but Hood literally squandered his army in fruitless frontal attacks. Sigh.  People say “they” are taking away our heritage. No, our heritage was the enslavement of human beings. In realistic terms, by pushing the nation to the point of secession and war, the south ironically fast-tracked abolition. Slavery would have persisted for decades without the war. The south was never going to “win” … the best they could hope for was a stalemate and even if that had happened, they’d find out their expected European markets had sourced raw materials from other more stable sources and continued border conflicts would have bankrupted them pretty quickly.

In closing, understand that change takes time. I know, there has already been a lot of time wasted, but attitudes and habits need a lot of nudging to get them in the right place. Shoving them in place usually doesn’t work. Patience and persistence. We all have a long way to go. It doesn’t have to take a long time, it shouldn’t, but it will take time.

 

New Release >> THE HAG RIDER

You've never read a Civil War tale like this! (1)I’ve just released my fourth novel, The Hag Rider. It is historical fiction set during the Civil War and because of that setting, it covers subject matter that can generate an emotional response in many people. In normal times I’d let it go at that and leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions. But because of the nature of the book, I want to offer just a little more introduction.

It is written as a Civil War memoir from the viewpoint of a Confederate cavalryman, who was just fifteen-years-old when he enlisted.  Early in the book, we met Jack, a broken boy in Texas who runs away. He manages to discover parental love and wisdom through Moze, an enslaved man who in essence becomes his family.  Moze is anxious and reluctant when Jack is enticed by fiery secession fever and decides to enlist, to join the Civil War campaign. Concern for Jack leads his mentor to seek protection for his young friend through the only source available to him. A local witch,  Vanita, who is also a slave, embodies a source of mysterious power in spite of her life situation. Jack makes his way through the violent and confusing time of war, with her help, and through his reflection on lessons gleaned from Moze’s discourses about dignity, respect, and humanity.

Yes, it is set in the south during the Civil War, but this book is far from a glorification of the antebellum era.  At its core, it is a soldier’s story told through young eyes. Jack is against slavery and he strives to overcome the prejudices of the time while at the same time knowing he is a product of those times.

The Hag Rider is available from Amazon, in Paperback, Kindle, and KindleUnlimited.
Buy it here>>>–>>https://www.amazon.com/Hag-Rider-Thomas-Fenske-ebook/dp/B088QX1LHW

WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were in some way able to meet for coffee today I’m sure we’d be drawn to the events of the past week. The overbearing question is, why are we still at this point? Frankly, it amazes me that we haven’t figured it out yet … Rodney King put it plainly:

“People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

It was a profound statement from a guy whose suffering at the hands of heavy-handed police officers was broadcast far and wide. Yet this continues and continues and continues.

Frankly, I have only had good experiences with law enforcement, even when I was on the short end of their efforts. I have always found them polite and supportive. Frankly, I am white.

I grew up in the South. I grew up knowing two branches of racism. I did not grow up in a blatantly racist home, I grew up in a home that more practiced paternalistic racism. Many people don’t see any difference but understand, I did not grow up thinking poorly of people of color. Sure, we had a black maid. Believe me, I knew a LOT of kids whose families wouldn’t hire a black maid, they had white maids. My folks hired a black contractor too, to build an addition to our house. In many ways I think my mother wanted to provide jobs and opportunities where she could.

When I was about eight I was with some friends riding our bikes around a nearby shopping center (the early 60’s, right?). It was a hot day, and I was thirsty and I saw a water fountain so I stopped to get a drink. My friends were horrified.

“What are you doing? You can’t drink from there!” he said, pointing at a sign on the fountain. “Colored Only!”

I just shrugged and took a drink. “You can be arrested for that,” I was told. I look back now and can only say, “Yeah, right.”

I wasn’t raised to really care about such distinctions. Am I perfect? Nope. Bias is a deep wound that is not easily healed but you know what? I’ve always been aware of it and I try to keep myself on an even keel and rise above it.

A few years ago I worked in a convenience store and this cemented my overbearing current view of blacks: they are just folks, like anybody else. They work, they love, they hurt, they cry. Just like me. Just like you. When you look at someone in this country, you need to not see white or brown or any other color, you need to see a person who deep inside is pretty much just like you.

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Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC … his novel THE HAG RIDER will be published on June 1, 2020. More information: http://thefensk.com