If we were having coffee today, I’d catch you up. The holidays, am I right? I was also busy working on the fourth book in my Traces of Treasure Series.
Truth is, I’m about posted out. I had a great post yesterday, and I confess I was originally going to re-edit the beginning and update it as today’s weekend coffee share, but today I hesitated. It’s a good post just as it is.
It’s about a seal encounter at the Outer Banks in NC last week. Christmas was good with our family, but this encounter put a cherry on the top of the holiday.
It was a rare and amazing encounter. Read about it here:
Beyond that, book sales have picked up after a very successful promotion in December. “Picked up” is a relative term. But it is definitely a blip in the right direction. I’ve declared 2020 to be the Year of THE FEVER! Catch it! The trilogy awaits.
We decided to spend Christmas at the beach this year. It was glorious. We rented a nice oceanside beach house on the Outer Banks, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, taking advantage of off-season prices. I took a number of sunrise photos. It was only natural because I got up early every day. I took the photo above the last morning. Nice, huh? Look on the left side, near the waterline. I didn’t see this when I first took the photo.
As I admired the view, I finally noticed it. At first, I thought it was a large piece of driftwood. Then I figured it was a large dead fish. Then I noticed what looked like whiskers.
“Oh, great,” I thought to myself, “A dead seal on our last day!”
I kept trying to comprehend what I was seeing; then it happened. The tail flippers moved ever so slightly.
“Even better, a dying seal on our last day.”
The tide was coming in. I checked it on-line. High Tide was in about an hour. I could see the waves extending a little more up the sand every few minutes. The seal raised its head once.
Then a flock of seagulls came up and started a wide circle around the deck and the shore, including the seal. In my mind, they were focused on the body.
“I’m not going to stand here and watch breakfast being served.”
So I tromped out into the sand, in my shorts and croc-style clogs; not my sand footgear of choice. I was intent on at least inspecting it with a bit more detail before I called somebody. It was a bit chilly and the sand at the end of the deck was deep and loose, so I made my way toward the body with some difficulty. Somewhere between fifty and a hundred feet from it the status changed. Forgive me for being less-than-accurate because what happened next greatly diverted my attention.
My approach caused the seal to suddenly perk up. It looked up, then turned toward the water. It looked back and then started its funny seal-walk toward the waiting waves. It wasn’t dead or sick … it must have been sleeping!
I fumbled with the phone in my pocket and quickly fired up my camera, and caught these shots of the rush for safety.
The entire sequence of events took maybe thirty seconds. It was a rare and remarkable nature sighting and for me, it seemed to last much longer.
Finally, all that was left was this:
I saw it one more time, about twenty feet out, its little head poking out of the water, probably wondering what the heck happened and who the heck had barged into the room.
Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about seal sightings along the North Carolina coast. In the winter, seals move south, down the coast. A few go as far as NC, some even make it down to South Carolina. It’s a rare thing to see, but not unusual. A lone seal like this is not unusual either. The young ones, probably teen-agers in seal years, often take off on their own. Being on the beach like this is not unusual either. It’s termed “hauling out” … and it is considered quite normal for seal behavior.
I did the wrong thing by approaching him. I had no idea. It turns out there is a number to call to report sightings … they would have told me what to do: just keep back and watch. This one was probably waiting for the tide to be the alarm clock. I did report the sighting after the fact, which is another thing they say to do.
Anyway, it was a great last day, and it was an awesome bookend for the year 2019.
Happy New Year.
BTW: Here’s a link with resources;
… I wish I had this available at the time: NOAA Link
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. Make 2020 the year you catch THE FEVER … read it and the other two books in the trilogy. You won’t be sorry. http://thefensk.com
If we were having coffee today, I’d have to admit the error of my ways. Yes, that’s right. I’ve been wrong for quite a while. I’ve only been fooling myself thinking my second and third novels could function as effective stand-alone reads. Oh, readers can follow them just fine I suppose but more and more I have come to realize, to fully enjoy them, one needs to read them in order. What I have created here, ladies and gentlemen is a trilogy.
The Fever sets everything up. A Curse That Bites Deep is quite simply a continuation of the same story. Lucky Strike is connected too, in that the events of second book serve as the primary catalyst for what happens in the third.
Like a lot of authors, I tend to think THIS STORY when I’m writing. In a series, using the same characters, it is far too easy to expect that everyone remembers the history, the nuances, and the trials and tribulations the characters have experienced along the way. Yes, the plot is unique but the characters and the way they react are deeply related to one another.
I’m currently working on a fourth book, but from the start, I’ve been trying to make the plot and resulting events more dependent on the situations contained in THIS STORY. So far, I think I’m succeeding. We’ll see.
So, sorry for the confusion. You were confused, trust me. I know this because I was confused. IT’S a TRILOGY! A TRILOGY, I say!
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in central North Carolina. You can check out the TRILOGY at http://thefensk.com … just be forewarned, I don’t mention trilogy at all on my website. Yet.
If we were having coffee today, I’d offer you this piece I wrote on The Pie.
In the early 1990s, I was a moderator on what was called a USENET newsgroup; the newsgroup existed specifically for users to share recipes. Before the web, USENET was basically THE internet. It actually worked a lot like facebook does today, with forums, posts, immediate access, and worldwide access. But it was all text. It was pretty much self-regulated too, by a cadre of computer professionals who helped form the early beginnings of the internet. It was a fascinating time to be internet savvy.
Anyway, a guy who was starting up a new recipe web page contacted the moderators and asked us to send him some recipes so he could flesh out the beginnings of his website, recipezaar.com. He wisely did not want to just steal recipes, he was looking to create a recipe sharing site where people could freely exchange.
Sometime before that my wife Gretchen had seen an intriguing “Amish” Buttermilk Pie on a recipe segment of a local TV station. All she managed to do was copy down the list of ingredients. I used similar custard pie recipes to figure out the procedures and baking specifics. We loved it. But shortly after that, we lost the list of ingredients before we had recorded them elsewhere. They were scribbled on the back of some envelope.
At one point I put out a request for buttermilk pie recipes on the newsgroup.
I bet I gained ten pounds testing the various recipes that were shared but not one was as good as that original. Just when everything seemed hopeless I opened a cookbook and … there was the envelope!!!!!!
I did two things … made a pie to verify that yes, this WAS better than all the others, and then I wrote it down in several places. By some serendipitous accident, this was the precise time this gentleman was requesting recipes so I submitted it, as sort of a fail-safe. I forgot about this for about four years until a friend of mine noticed it on recipezaar and asked me about it. He said it had a bunch of positive reviews. I hadn’t even registered as a user yet … but I got signed up and got the recipe attached to my profile. Fame at last.
This has continued to this day, but recipezaar was sold at some point, at least twice and possibly three times. The original recipe has survived intact, along with all the reviews. It is now the foundation of food.com.
All through its life, it has generally turned up first in searches for “Buttermilk” or “Buttermilk Pie” … and there is a reason for this. Food.com no longer prints recipe numbers but the previous websites did … this recipe is #56, which I am sure is used as a unique database identifier (I am an IT guy). A search with no other criteria will turn them out in numeric order. This is still the case. If you look at the link I provide below, you’ll still see “56” … this is 56 out of over five hundred thousand recipes.
Now … a couple of years ago I concocted a free promotional cookbook … a companion book to my novels and I decided to include the buttermilk pie recipe (with minor modifications).
In the past month, I have heavily promoted the cookbook, most of that on Twitter. So a few days ago when I received a message on Twitter about the pie I assumed it was from one of my thousands of new readers (seriously, this promotion month has been pretty good).
I probably confused her with portions of my response because I referred to other recipes and asked for a review. After a few messages back and forth she informed me she got it from food.com! With my big promotion, I didn’t even think about that location!
I call the recipe in the cookbook “The Best-Danged Buttermilk Pie” and it is listed as a customer favorite in the fictional cafe. I even mention that fact in the latest novel, LUCKY STRIKE.
I’ll tell you this … get it from the website or get it from the cookbook, I don’t care. Just GET IT. This pie is that awesome.
What’s so lucky about Lucky Strike? Considering the theme of vengeance and the ensuing deep-seated criminal conspiracy, not so much. In fact, we see several crimes in the pages, including threats, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and murder. What’s it all about? Well, that is the big question, isn’t it?
The story doesn’t depend entirely on information from the previous two books in the Traces of Treasure series, but having that firm background certainly doesn’t hurt. Of course, Sam Milton returns along with his paramour Smidgeon Toll. Lance Norton, one of the main characters in the second book, is part of the story as well. The story also introduces an old lawman, a private investigator named Mule Hollis, who is following a parallel trail that leads directly to our heroes.
Still, I think a fledgling reader can enjoy the book as a stand-alone but here is a brief primer. The first book involves Sam Milton’s long obsession with a lost Gold Mine. As he becomes increasingly desperate, he gets careless and the book follows his struggles with the situations he finds himself in. The second book follows up with a seeming curse that throws a cloud over all the characters and introduces several ghostly associates who have a deep interest in what transpires, as one person after another falls victim to a hidden killer.
So much happened in the second book, it had to have made the news. The bad thing about news coverage is that it sometimes attracts unwanted attention. That’s what happens in Lucky Strike and the repercussions are profound.
An innocent search for some answers to what at first seems to be a small mystery results in a series of desperate acts and the villainous activities eventually involve everyone as they all scramble to make some sense of the situation.
Wait. What about the ghosts? They’re back as well, but they are also confused by the dire situation.
Various twists and turns lead Smidgeon on a long quest from Texas to North Carolina, collecting a confusing array of clues she must somehow piece together.
All the while a mysterious stranger creates havoc as he follows his own trail of vengeance, crime, and destruction.
Add it all up and … well, it doesn’t sound too lucky, does it?
Do you think you can figure it out?
If we were having coffee today I’d be telling you about last night’s reading.
That’s right, for the first time anywhere I took part in a reading in a local bar. This reading was associated with another author event this weekend, a local author fair at the library.
The bar event was called “Noir at the Bar” and, for the most part, featured readings about crime or mystery. Many pieces were short stories. I cobbled together a few scenes from my first novel The Fever. The timing was short, less than ten minutes, so I was probably a bit pre-occupied with time so I tended to rush a little. Seriously, twelve or fifteen minutes would have made a big difference for me. And the lighting was a bit splotchy, with some kind of revolving color wheel, which probably bothered me more than others. I wouldn’t say it was one of my best speaking engagements but it certainly wasn’t even close to the worse.
It seemed well-received though. I was the only author who presented my work with commentary, others just read. I was given a lot of positive feedback on using that approach, so that was good.
Saturday’s event will be more standardized, a hodgepodge of local writing talent from many facets of the writing community will all be crammed together into a room in the library. There will be readings there too, but mystery writers were asked to shift to the bar event because the main event was basically overbooked.
Getting into the trenches and getting the word out is just another one of many things an author must do. I need to do more of it.
Thomas Fenske is an author living in NC. His latest novel, LUCKY STRIKE, will be officially published next week (You can pre-buy now). To celebrate that, the Amazon/Kindle edition of his first novel, THE FEVER, is on sale for 99 cents through September 30.
You can find links to all of my books at http://www.thefensk.com/main.html
If we were having coffee today I’d have a couple of things to share.
First off, I’d apologize. I really don’t want to bore you with book news two weeks in a row. Sure we had Hurricane Dorian threatening our doorstep and all, but where I live in NC it wasn’t an issue. Much different story farther east. But anyway, I simply MUST share some book release news.
My new book, Lucky Strike, has always been slated for a publish date of October 1. A local author event late in September has complicated those plans a little. The Kindle edition is still slated for an October 1 release, but my publisher has graciously allowed an early release of the paperback version.
Restaurants often have what is called a soft-opening, an invitation-only chance for them to work out operational kinks. This is kind of like that … I am calling it a soft-release of my book. I guess that’s a bit ironic, considering the fact that it is a hard copy, but what it means is that you can buy the paperbacktoday from Amazon.
This will allow me to have copies on-hand for the author event, but it also allows readers who want that paperback to get them right now! Woo Hoo!
Of course, you can pre-order the ebook too … it will be delivered to your kindle device automatically on the official release date of October 1.
If we were having coffee today I’d be telling you all about my big Labor Day Sale this weekend on my current backlist.
With the third novel in my Traces of Treasure series due out in a few weeks, I thought this would be a great time for the teeming masses to catch up on the first two books. Both ebooks for The Fever and A Curse That Bites Deep are on sale through Monday 9/2 for just 99 cents on Amazon (99p on Amazon UK).
Of course, for your convenience, you can buy the paperback versions from both sites — but they aren’t on sale. That’s out of my control.
Don’t sell ebooks short though, they have a lot of advantages. You can carry an entire library around with you. You can easily read in the dark. You can adjust the text size. They are less expensive. They save paper. You can buy and get them 24 hours a day. There are free reader apps for almost any device.
The biggest comment I get is that people like to hold a book. I got over that limitation by buying a nice folio cover for my tablet … it feels like a book, it really does, and the apps have a flip page function and you don’t even have to lick your fingers.
What excuses do you have for not buying a nice ebook for a great price?
Thomas Fenske is an author living in NC. More information on his books can be found at http://thefensk.com
If we were having coffee today I’d be wondering about the little ironies of life. If you’re like me you’re seeing reminisces about the forty-second anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. Forty-two years. What’s the irony? Elvis was forty-two when he died!
Note: if you are a die-hard Elvis fan you best move on to the next paragraph. I was never one of his biggest fans during his life. I appreciated his place in the history of American music, to be sure, and I even liked most of his movies. But in his later years, he had become almost a caricature of himself. It was no illusion, and later accounts of his life support that notion. At the time, most people I knew pretty much considered him as almost a joke and we were not far off the mark. He was sheltered, pampered, catered to, all while he was pretty much sewing the seeds of his own destruction. He still managed to put on a hell of a show though, but let’s face it, the information age would have totally destroyed him.
Actually, I’m gratified that his image was rehabilitated … it survives now, after 42 more years. If he had lingered around with the same excesses and abuses for another ten or fifteen years, I doubt his image would have survived as long as it has. Hopefully, he would have rehabbed but it doesn’t sound like his cadre of enablers was ever going to let that happen. I won’t say that death was a good career move for him, but, well … forty-two years later Elvis is certainly not a joke.
Life is full of these little markers. On my forty-second birthday, I happened to go to the grocery store and noticed one of those little “buy alcohol” signs with the year of birth on it. I realized that day that it had been twenty-one years since I turned twenty-one! I think that was the first time the concept of old-age seemed to dawn on me as a creeping glacier of inevitability.
What sort of life-markers do you like to note?
So, kudos to you, Elvis. You did all right, buddy.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC. The release date of his latest novel, Lucky Strike is inevitably creeping closer … look for it sometime next month!