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I lost my writing partner during To Drown in Ash, and it rocked me.

Emma

She was with me every single morning, before the sun came up, sneaking glances at me. As long as I was typing, she was happy. She hated how long it took for me to make coffee, because it meant we weren’t working.

Emma is that little black lump between my feet, twelve years ago, as I struggled through my pre-req courses to get into university, an old man at 36 desperate to change his life, while a puppy rooted herself into everything I would do for the rest of her life.

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Emma was getting older, and our whole family knew it. We made the typical allowances, that slow regression of the tide of life that signals terrible choices. But we ignored them, I ignored them, for longer than I probably should have.  We lifted the food bowl up onto a block so her neck wouldn’t hurt when she ate. We carried her everywhere so she wouldn’t jump off furniture. We even bought her a playpen to keep her safe, her vision long gone and her hearing almost nonexistent.

Emma wasn’t just my dog. She was so much more. She heard the early dialogue, and sneezed her disdain if it was cheesy. (Emma loved cheese, just not in her dialogue). She was my first audience for verbal reads. She was my timekeeper, who told me when I had been at the keyboard too long. And not long enough.

She was my kids’ best friend; a sibling and confidante. She was our guardian, who fiercely chased every animal, no matter what size, off her deck and out of her yard. Some people mock poodles, but man, let me tell you, they are tough, smart, ridiculously brave, and unconditionally loyal pets.

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I’ve often heard about folks saying how hard a pet’s death hit them, and never understood it. Until I lost my writing partner.

I think you can almost sense it in To Drown in Ash. The time I had to decide that terrible choices had to be made. Ash is about loss and fracture, and was written while Emma waited for me, sleeping and peeking at my back, to make sure I was there and still writing. I was avoiding the decision. I did a lot of that in the early drafts of this book, until our team wouldn’t let me, and made me face the facts. That things could not continue. Emma and I knew it, too. That avoiding choices was costing her too much pain. Mostly out of fear of what it would cost me to lose her.

We took her for one last walk to her favourite park. She hobbled and thought about chasing her favourite ducks. My wife and I gave her her last ice cream, and she devoured it, cone and all.

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The next day, we took her to the vet. They were incredibly kind to us. We were given all the time we cold need to say goodbye.

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They were incredibly patient while Old Man Laybolt tried and failed to hold it together.

She finally sighed her last, and I heard relief finally come from her little spirit. Her only concern was that she was still doing her job. She kept checking on me, with little flicks of her eyes, right into the end.

I’m a nurse. I’ve seen my share of death. Even come to learn to understand and embrace it. To learn that it’s a sacred moment, and a truly spiritual experience that can not be understated. Its impact on our small journeys here in this life are immeasurable. Things of such magnitude have learning for all of us.

Here’s what Emma taught me. Be unconditionally loyal. Be brave. Be ever-striving to take care of your pack. And live. Live every day for your ice cream and those you are lucky enough to contribute to.

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Some say that people should strive to be the person their dog thinks they are. I agree. But I’d add to that.

If more of us strive to be more like our dogs; honest, loyal, protective, endlessly curious about others, and fearless, the world we live in can only get better. That’s what Emma taught me.

To take naps when you can. To love unconditionally. Handle strangers based on their body language. Always be on duty. Watch your people.

That, and to keep working until its over.

 

 

 

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To Drown in Ash: Book Two goes LIVE!

It’s been a long time coming. People have been waiting patiently. What a great problem to have; folks telling you to hurry up with your next book.
Well, the wait is over. To Drown in Ash, Book 2 of The 10th Lunen Regiment trilogy, is now live on Amazon.

Snowstorms, three years of 5 am sunrises, and a lot of real, actual tears (you’ll know EXACTLY when my ugly manbaby tears hit the keyboard) went into this one. If you enjoy it, please let me know.

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As always, a huge thanks to Dylan Edwards for his incredible cover, endless patience, and therapeutic upload support. And to everyone that pushed me further to make this the best book I’ve ever written (See acknowledgements).

Here’s the link:

 

If your Canadian (high five!), here’s your link:

https://www.amazon.ca/Drown-Ash-Lunen-Regiment-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B07G6XP3YM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533992398&sr=8-1&keywords=To+Drown+in+Ash

Annnd here’s the link for my UK fans:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Drown-Ash-Lunen-Regiment-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B07G6XP3YM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533993126&sr=8-1&keywords=To+Drown+in+Ash

 

 

 

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A team of Atlantic Canadian writers and Newfoundland’s EnGen Books crack three bestseller lists!

Chillers from the Rock, the third volume in the modern From the Rock series, hit #1 Bestseller in 4 different categories on March 18, 2018: a full 10 days before its release. The categories include Vampire Thrillers, Werewolves & Shifters, Vigilante Justice, and Hot New Releases – Thrillers. As of this writing it has reached […]

via Chillers from the Rock becomes an Amazon Canadian Bestseller in 4 categories: Vampire, Werewolf/Shifter, Vigilante Justice, & Hot New Thriller Releases! — Engen Books

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Great News! KDP FINALLY reveals your historical sales!

Not sure if you noticed (the savvy among you probably have), but KDP quietly rolled out their new reports format!

I’ve wondered since I started with Kindle Direct Publishing why they could not plot out the master sales list for the titles Indies publish. Not only would it make for great nostalgia during those cold, isolated months of dead sales, and drive writers forward after seeing that, yes, there once was a day when you were knocking it out of the park (regardless of numbers; in this day and age, all readers are precious readers, in my opinion), but it’s important to be able to look back and see what you’ve accomplished in total.

At least, my accountant thinks it is.

Well, wonder no more!

screencap new archived database KDP

KDP’s new Historical Report gives you every single sale monthly since you started publishing, and every single KOLL page read. This enables you to accurately track total sales, identify trends, and total your copies sold and free titles distributed since the dawn of KDP-time.

The new format also sets up by sales period, and lists all royalties earned by country in total, which immediately gives you your best selling countries. The report still offers the month-to-date tables, but now provides a payments and pre-orders tab, all  in one header.

Slick, easy to use, and all in one place.

A huge development for Indie writers everywhere!

Stop looking at my short blue poles. I was busy writing.

Go check our your new KDP report page! What do you think of it?

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One Day.

There are many kinds of people who make up our world.

There are people who  fight. They grab each day by the throat and don’t let go until they get that day done.

There are people who pretend. Who make it look like they can do the things they cannot so that the world will applaud them. But the world never applauds anyone, not in any real way, and their hearts are destined to break.

There are people who burn. Who carry a furnace fuelled by bitterness because life has flowed around them like a river, and they cannot bend the currents to their will. Steam and noise ensue, and peace is a laughable dream.

There is another kind. There are quiet, shy people who hate storms. Who try, every day, to stand, walk, and even carry others with whatever power they have, which varies every day. Whose tools get lost or break or were never in the toolbox, or the storm has whipped them away, lost in the wind and sound and terror. But every day, they try.

They get up, in the face of panic and fear, and they try. Some days they are beaten before they even open their eyes, and the trying takes too long, and it’s hard.

But somehow, they do it. And life and the world do not record their battles, don’t call their names, don’t applaud. Sometimes, it only announces their failures, which feeds the opinion of the ignorant. The world expects perfection while it takes away their tools. The world demands more while it pressures you with less.

Less money for your work, less support for your children, less respect for your thoughts, less power for your person, less safety for your travels, less consequence for your violation.

It presses down while screaming to get up. And it is hard.

But these people, in the storm, they still try.

These people are called Mothers.

I’m lucky enough to have one for a partner. My wife’s tools are being plucked away by the storm piece by piece. In the cruellest irony, by an invisible disease that very few people will ever understand. They see the vibrant, shining soul that she is, and rejoice in her radiance, and never see her storm. She refuses to show it to anyone.

She’s such a Mother that she’ll be one to those who are not even hers. She’ll take on the job for those in pain out of sheer mercy and grace, and never asks for recognition, or control, or any reward at all.

She will simply because it is Right.

She’ll step into the deeper storm, knowing some of her tools are missing.

Because that is what Mothers do.

My own mother should have folded under the storm a thousand times. Sometimes, the storm was me.  Other times, it was the world, trying to crush her. She would have none of that.

I am privileged. Both women made me this man.

We get one day.

One.

To tell them that we get it. That we see them. That we appreciate them. That they are valued. Loved. That we know. That we can never properly thank them, but on this day, we will try.

To my Mom, all I can say is Thank You.

To my wife, I see you. I know. And I see the storm. I hate it, and I wish I could crush it; wither it, so that it did not trample you. But I can’t. I will always offer my hand, even when you refuse to take it. Because you fight ten times harder than I do.  Even now, as two young men who you gave birth to, who you taught how to temper my cold spite with your warmth and love, prepare to step away from you and make their mark, two standing examples of your success, you find yourself wanting in their forging. You did it. You mastered it. You won. I love you. I Thank You.

To every one of you reading this who are Mothers, I Thank You. The world will never applaud. Not the way it should. But maybe, having a day that tells you we know you’re important is a sign for you. That we see you, and that we care.

Thank You.

 

Happy Mother’s Day.

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New Graphic Novel Project! Concept Sketches for The War!

While work continues on the editing of To Drown in Ash, I have exciting news!

Several months ago, during a shameless binge on Tom Waits songs and headline rage, I smashed out a script for an idea for a graphic novel. After pitching the concept around to several parties who generously cheered me on (and several rewrites), my buddy Dylan Edwards read the script and agreed to use his incredible artistic skill to turn it into A Thing!

Behold,some of the early concept art for The War!

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That is Sam.

Sam is driven.

We’ll be releasing more info and images as the work progresses. Early input on the project has been alarmingly positive. And Amazon’s graphic novel platform appears tailor made for Indie projects by two guys who’ve dreamed of doing this since high school.

More cool sketches to follow in the coming weeks and months as this takes shape.

Stay tuned!

 

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How Trump Did It, Part 2: The Beginning.

 

How did this happen?

Well, like most enormously important events, it did not start in a vacuum. President Trump’s victory happened slowly, evolving over several years. I’ve found that this Frontline Documentary from PBS does the best job of explaining this phenomenon’s history. It is worth watching.

The Divided states of America contains what appears to be critical information about the history of Trump’s rise to power, through the GOP’s devastation, rebirth, then its infiltration, and eventual implosion.

Reminds one of watching lava form. Each cooling layer pooling slag upon which fresh lava cooks through and burns over to form the new political foundation.

It’s a long one, so you may need several bags of popcorn. And, perhaps, depending on your politics, a pillow to scream into:

http://www.pbs.org/video/2365934009/

If you’re reading this from Canada, here’s an active link  (For some STRANGE reason, PBS Frontline no longer runs its content streaming into Canada. Which is weird. It did last year…):

Do yourself a favour, and watch both part 1 and 2. It’s a comprehensive, detailed saga that brings us right up to the election.

 

Next time, on The Desk:

How Trump Did It, Part Three:

The Quiet Machine: My mother-in-law’s keen catch, The Antidote Writer’s Collective,  Michal Kosinski, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica.

 

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