Recharging the batteries

I had a nice opportunity to get away for a week with the family recently. COVID made things a little weird – but half-empty airports and beaches aren’t all bad. It was nice to get a break, and it was my kids’ first time on a plane. Time seems to sneak up on you. The first time I flew, it was before the TSA, so my grandparents took me straight to the gate and put me on, and I had someone waiting for me at my connection and final destination. Doesn’t work that way anymore, and it was definitely an experience getting a teenager and pre-teenager through security. Herding cats comes to mind.

We didn’t do anything big, and sometimes, not having to worry about being on a schedule is the best break at all. The nice side benefit to free time is being able to get some things accomplished, and I certainly did that.

I read three books, finished writing one of my own, and started a short story. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Peace Talks, the latest Dresden Book, came out a few days before we left on our trip, and I really wanted to savor it. To enforce a bit of self-control, I downloaded the two prior books in the series, Cold Days and Skin Game and read those. The timing worked out just about right, and I was ready to start the new book on day one of vacation. And … I finished it on the same day. Needless to say, Jim Butcher had no problem holding my attention. Was it worth the multi-year wait? Yes, but with a caveat. It seems that the manuscript for the book was so darn big that the publisher had to split it in two. There’s a cliffhanger, but it’s not a horrible one, especially considering it’s only a two-month wait until the next release. A must buy for fans of the series, and it develops the characters and relationships in some interesting ways.

The Stranger in the Woods was definitely a shifting of the gears compared to the other stuff I read on the trip. It’s a non-fiction book about a man named Christopher Knight who walked into the woods one day and lived there, with next to no human contact, for nearly three decades. The story of how Chris survived, his mindset, and the fallout from his eventual capture was fascinating and a little sad. A captivating read if you have any interest in camping, hiking, fishing, etc.

I can’t give Dean Koontz’s Devoted an unbiased review. Full disclosure, I’ve read every book he’s written and personally consider him to be one of America’s most talented living writers. The fact that is very much a spiritual and possible actual sequel to Watchers, one of my favorite Koontz novels, made the reading experience that much more exciting. His cast of characters is endearing, as always, the villains are pernicious and topical, and the conclusion is incredibly satisfying. I really, really hope that he continues this storyline and expands the connections to Watchers, but even this will remain a standalone, he’s crafted another fascinating world.

As for me? I wrapped up the submission draft of The Sacred Radiance and handed it off to the publisher. I’ve gotten some great feedback from the beta readers, and I’m excited for you to read it.

I was invited to provide a story for an upcoming anthology, and a backstory I’ve referred to in the Pax books but never fully expressed seemed to fit the bill. I’m in the process of writing it now, and I’ll be sure to announce when the anthology will be released. In this short, we follow Pax on one of his earliest cases, as he visits the home of a serial killer with a very serious ghost infestation.

Once that short is complete, I plan on diving right into Paxton Locke Book 5, The Dragon and His Wrath. If everything goes to plan (and these days, that’s a 50-50 proposition at best) books four and five will come out in relatively close proximity.

And that’s it! Hope your summer is going well. Keep reading – I’ll keep writing.

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