L’homme Theroux Pre-Orders and Mustache Removal

I put L’homme Theroux to bed a couple of days ago.  Even though I spent longer formatting than I had expected, I seem to have things trucking along.  As of this moment, L’homme Theroux is available for pre-orders on Amazon and Smashwords.  There will be others in the next few days.  I’m toying with the idea of releasing chapters here, so if you have an opinion one way or the other, let me know.  My guess is that everyone likes free and sneak peaks, even if it’s only five days early.

Kinda looks like Steve Buscemi But it's Hitler
Kinda looks like Steve Buscemi
But it’s Hitler

But this brings me to my next problem.  The novel is done.  Complete.   Finished.  Fin.  Acabado.  And even though I have the outline for the next book in the Coureur des Bois series sitting next to me, I feel a little bit at loose ends.  Partly because I decided to take a few days rest before diving into Little Crow’s War.  I spent three months devoting every spare minute to my creation, and now that I have pushed it out into the world, I’m not sure what to do with myself.  Sort of an “empty nest” feeling.  Maybe I can fill my time Photoshopping out moustaches on historical figures?

Pre-order at Amazon and Smashwords. Available October 2014
Pre-order at Amazon and Smashwords.
Hits shelves October 12, 2014

I want to give a special thanks to my cover artist, Dydee Nichols.  She created the cover with only the vaguest of terrible concepts from me.  She took it a completely different direction from what I thought I wanted and created a cover far better than I had imagined.

One thing that struck me as odd was how long proofreading took.  It was a full three weeks.  I know that I am a slow reader, but Jesus-tap-dancing-Christ, it took forever for me to finish proofing.  I’m sure there will still be little things I missed.  And then the bugga-boo with formatting.  I had forgotten all the silliness involved.  Mark Coker at Smashwords has a pretty good guide for writers that makes the uploading easy.  Fortunately, once L’homme Theroux was in shape for Smashwords, it was also in shape for Amazon.  I literally replaced “Amazon Edition” for “Smashwords Edition” on the title page and licensing statement, and was ready to go.

I would suggest writers become familiar with how styles work on their individual version of Word before delving into the formatting for publication.  I spent a whole lot of time finding the functions in my particular configuration of Word.  Despite all the frustration over two days of formatting, it went through clean the first time, and that is what is important.  I’d rather put in the work on the front end than have to play cleanup later.

My Next Victim
My Next Victim

Now, where the hell is that photo of Joseph Stalin?  He’s next to get his mustache lopped off.


Free sample chapters of L’homme Theroux available on Smashwords.

Order at: AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & NobleApple iBooksTxtr


Thrilled Beyond Words

I just received the cover art for L’homme Theroux and I am tickled salmon-colored.  The release date is October 12, 2014.  Mark your calendars and tell all your friends.  And fear not, I will continue posting.  I do not want to be one of those bloggers who only flogs his book.  Then again, perhaps I am already.  You have to make that call.

Follow me with one of the multiple ways available (Look at the top with those little chain thingies marked “connect”) for when the novel goes live.  I am currently working out how to organize release of sample chapters on this blog.  Kind of like dealing crack.  I give you a little for free to get you hooked.

A special thanks to my cover artist, Dydee Nichols.  She’s on Facebook.  You really should take a look at her work.

Available October 2014
Available October 2014

When a trade negotiation at the Theroux family trading post turns deadly, young Thomas finds himself forced into a role for which he is not ready.  With the help of his uncle, the Métis youngster must venture through the frontier wilderness of the Saskatchewan territory to the only slightly more civilized Cumberland House to complete his father’s work and return home to take his place as head of what remains of the Theroux clan.

Natural and man-made dangers stalk Thomas at every turn and bend of the North Saskatchewan as he negotiates the wild river, evades fellow Indians bent on repaying a Blood Debt, and sets in motion a love triangle which threatens to ignite an Indian war that would annihilate what is left of the Gros Ventre tribe.

The process of producing a product, such as a book, is fraught with self-doubt, and authors have to have particularly thick skins when it comes to taking criticism.  We create a product and lay it bare for the world to judge.  Like any artistic endeavor, we ask the consumers of our products to judge our work and validate it by handing over their money.  And for the few writers, artists, etc. who claim to produce their product for its own sake, I say “more power to you” and a blog is the place to do that.

However, I write with the profit motive in mind.  I like art in all forms, but I always keep in mind that while I enjoy writing, the product must be marketable.  Part of the process of achieving that marketability is taking my lumps when people do not like my work, either on its own merits or due to a personal dislike of me.

So as part of the process of feedback (really, a nice word for “criticism”), let me know what you think of the cover.

Gettin’ All Emotional and Shit

L’homme Theroux just went through the first round of edits.  Now, it is off to the Beta readers.  I can only use the plural in the most technical of senses because there are only two.  Of course, my wife is one of them, so I will have to prod her to be sufficiently hard on me.

If anyone else is interested in participating in the creation of L’homme Theroux, please contact me.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I absolutely hate editing.  It is the sort of nit picking, minutiae work that causes me to drink.  I have a theory that writers seem to commit suicide more often than the general population specifically because of editing.  How many writers have killed themselves while writing?  It always seems to be during editing.  That explains all the posthumous works.

I might have been able to send the novel out when I completed the first draft nearly two weeks ago, but I wanted to fix any big problems that jumped out at me.  No reason to give my Beta readers the softballs.  I want them to work.

The cover art should be in my tobacco stained hands by Friday.  I have every confidence I will love it and begin plastering it all over the place.  I have only the vaguest idea what it will look like, since I gave my artist a summary of the novel, a couple of themes to incorporate, and told her to go to town.

Now that someone besides me gets to see what I have worked on for two and half months, the nerves are setting in.  I hope it is well-received because no one wants to be told they suck at something that has taken so much effort.  It’s also taken sacrifice.  Any time I would have spent watching TV, farting around on the internet, socializing with friends, or reading for pleasure, has been virtually non-existent since July.  On the other hand, there is a part of me that wants to be put through the wringer.  The last thing I want is to be yet another example of crappy self-publishing.  This is an opportunity for me to show my skills.

Dirty Talk in the 19th Century

I’m currently editing L’homme Theroux, as you probably know from my continual babbling.  I am a third done with the first round of edits.  The next step will be to get it out to my Beta readers.  As I slog through this drudgery, two things have occurred to me.  First, is that I do not like editing.  I just finished writing the damn thing, and now, I have to read it?  Crap.

On a side note, I have noticed I like parts I wrote more recently than parts I wrote earlier on.  My suspicion is I have knocked a lot of rust off my skills writing this novel.  Hopefully, as I progress, there will be less rewriting to be done.

The second thing I noticed requires a little background by way of spilling a secret.  I am a writer who reads very little fiction.  However, I read a metric ass-ton of non-fiction on various topics of interest to me.  As I have to sometimes work in areas that prohibit electronic devices, there are days like today where I am left with only old-fashioned, traditionally bound, printed on paper books to while away the hours between bursts of things going haywire.

A friend of mine recently read The Count of Monte Cristo and passed it on to me when he finished.  As an author, I should probably discourage this practice, but I plead a War Zone Exemption.  I am halfway through, so please don’t spoil it.  Despite its antiquated prose style, my knowledge of the basic plot from movies, and halfhearted attempts to read it in school, I thoroughly enjoy the story.


With themes such as revenge for wrongs, personal justice, and perseverance when all seems lost, The Count of Monte Cristo appeals to the teenager in me who still feels compelled to read Call of the Wild every few years.  And that got me to thinking about the Young Adult Fiction category again.  I’ve written before about the violence in L’homme Theroux and acceptable limits in Young Adult Fiction, but let me summarize what I have read in the first half of this book.

The Count of Monte Cristo has:

  • Shooting deaths and multiple stabbing deaths
  • Suicide and contemplation of suicide
  • Slavery
  • Drug use, opium and hashish mixed together as sleeping aid (so perhaps it was prescription abuse)
  • Attempted infanticide
  • Mob violence
  • Guillotine deaths
  • Transvestism of a teenage boy (Of course, that was just to lure Albert into his kidnapping)
  • Civil war, usurpation of power, and violent overthrow of government
  • Neglect and abuse by prison officials that would be prosecuted today
  • Sexual innuendo, including flirting at the Roman festival where women taking off their masks is the 19th century equivalent of women flashing their boobs at Mardi Gras in New Orleans

I understand in the context of the novel’s time period and the time it was written, both being pretty much the same, some of these things have a different hue to them than they do to us today.  However, knowing what I do about Victorians, many of the topics listed above were more taboo to them than us, even if the topics were familiar.  Dumas went to pains illustrating why things like suicide, slavery, and infanticide were, while well-known during the time period, just as horrific and outside the bounds of society as they are to us today.

Just for grins, I visited Amazon and found the exact same Bantam Classic edition I am reading (ISBN-10: 0553213504).  The age range is listed as twelve and up.  The grade level is seven and up.  There is no arguing The Count of Monte Cristo is not a classic.  We would not still be reading it and torturing students with it 170 after it was written, if it was not.  And depending on your definition, it was not written by a dead white man, so that should thrill the Liberals.

So, comparing all I’ve listed above with my misgiving about acceptable topics and levels of sex and violence in Young Adult literature, I still come back to my original two guidelines to qualify for the Young Adult category:

  1. The protagonist is the same demographic as the reading audience.
  2. The reader has to be able to see himself in the character.

These two are really the only constants I have be able to figure out.  I’ve wracked my brain and spilled a lot of ink over this subject, and these are the best I can come up with?  There has to be more.  This cannot be all there is to it.  Will someone please set me straight?  I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something really important in what is very likely my oversimplified view of this subject.

L’Homme Theroux First Draft Complete

CdBandIndianFor the nineteen people who have been following me on the various social media I use (Hint:  They are listed at the top), you already know I am writing a novel.  L’Homme Therouxa coming of age action/adventure story set in the wild frontier of the Canadian territories in the mid-19th century, is the first book in the Coureur des Bois series.

I finished the first draft yesterday afternoon.  Actual writing took 63 days for the first draft, not including the month I spent outlining it and the second book, Little Crow’s War.  I am shooting for publication no later than October 12, 2014, and will no doubt be reminding everyone between now and then.  The first stop will be Smashwords and their distribution network.  Followed by Amazon, as quickly as I can figure out their process, and anyone else who will have me.  My goal is to make it available on as many platforms and outlets as I can manage.

So now is time for the Shameless Self-Promotion Plug:

When a trade negotiation at the Theroux family trading post turns deadly, young Thomas finds himself forced into a role for which he is not ready.  With the help of his uncle, the Métis youngster must venture through the frontier wilderness of the Saskatchewan territory to the only slightly more civilized Cumberland House to complete his father’s work and return home to take his place as head of what remains of the Theroux clan.

Natural and man-made dangers stalk Thomas at every turn and bend of the North Saskatchewan as he negotiates the wild river, evades fellow Indians bent on repaying a Blood Debt, and sets in motion a love triangle which threatens to ignite an Indian war that would annihilate what is left of the Gros Ventre tribe.

This is what I have so far for the back cover blurb.  Any comments, critiques, or suggestions are always welcome.  Thanks for putting up with this bit of self-promotion.  A regular post will follow shortly.

I Caught the Epilepsy Over Labor Day Weekend

As I wrote the last chapter of L’homme Theroux, I realized it was missing a couple of subplots that would fully flesh it out.  Essentially, I begin a subplot originally slated for Little Crow’s War, the second book, in L’homme Theroux.  It gives an important character time to develop more fully (and more time for me to torture her).

The second subplot was accidental.  Neither it nor the new characters were in the outline.  I added them as an afterthought as I wrote the first scene in which they appeared.  As I neared the end of the book, their potential was clear.  These two chicks became real important real fast, and now I will to have to see how they may or may not fit into the second book.  It is like discovering a branch of the family you didn’t know existed a week before Halloween and having to rearrange Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’m unsure at this point what will become of these girls, but I like them.  I like them as much as the character I had to kill off.

And that is what has been giving me fits all weekend.  I had to go back and develop these two as fully fledged characters when I realized their importance.  The last thing I want is a one-dimensional character, and to understand their actions later in the book requires them demonstrating why they are the way they are.  All of which has me reconsidering previous thoughts.

For some time, I have been wrestling with the concept of what makes a Young Adult novel and what are the acceptable levels of violence (and to a lesser degree, sex).  As near as I can tell, opinions are all over the board and no two are quite the same.  Everyone has their limits, and I come away reminded of an old expression;

“Anyone kinkier than I am is a pervert.”

And I think that is the real issue.  We measure the world with ourselves as the standard.  Everyone is their own yardstick.  That’s great for the “We Are The World” types, but I prefer to have some hard-and-fast rules to break and strict guidelines to violate.  How in the world can I be out of bounds when everyone in the stadium keeps re-chalking the field?

My two big take-aways for what qualifies as Young Adult fiction are:

1)  The protagonist is the same demographic as your audience – I understand that adults, whatever age that now begins due to extended adolescence, frequently read Young Adult literature.  They are free to do it, but I don’t see the attraction.  Then again, I can find things to bitch about in a Ken Burns documentary.  Ultimately, the main character should be somewhere in his teen years, old enough to have a certain clarity in perception of the world, but still be mightily confused and finding his place in it.

2)  The reader has to be able to see himself in the character – I suspect this is why the list of acceptable topics in Young Adult literature is so broad.  Violence, sex, drug abuse, human trafficking, incest, bullies, molestation, etc., etc. are topics a teen either faces, could face, would like to face, or knows someone else who does.  It also explains my childhood reading habits.

With the above in mind, I am reasonably confident as long as my characters are roughly the same age as my readers, and those readers can easily see themselves as the protagonist, I am safe writing just about anything.  Which as a parent is a little disconcerting since that renders the Young Adult label virtually useless as a tool for exercising good judgment regarding suitability for my children.

I am Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva

Having begun my academic career as a History major and being a confessed History Nerd of the First Order, I have a visceral reaction to anachronisms.  I’m also not fond of blatant inaccuracies in media, but that’s another post.

I try to write what I know, but nobody knows (or can remember) everything about every topic.  I undertook L’homme Theroux just under two months ago knowing there would be a fair amount of research to both aid my memory and learn new things along the way.  These references are also in the Page section for easy reference later.

The first draft will be complete in a few days, and then on to the editing.  Having never edited a project this large, I know not what new and creative tortures await me.  But I do know what sorts of tortures await my characters.  That is the fun of being the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of worlds.

Here are just a few of the more interesting resources I consulted to write the most accurate book I could.  Where there are factual errors in the novel, keep in mind they could be there purposely.  Altering the laws of physics or time isn’t my style, but I might have fudged a few locations or place names for the sake of the story.

Geek out, fellow History Nerds.  I’ve divided it into sections.


Oh, Canada

Canadiana.org – Provides digitized access to Canada’s documentary heritage.  In English, that means they scan and make available a huge library of historic books, magazine, documents, newspapers, etc.  For my purposes, documents on the Fur Trade were invaluable, but all periods are represented.

Historic Canada – Canadian History from before first contact with Europeans to the present day.

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan


Run!  Indians!

Canada’s First Peoples – That’s what they call their Indians.

Native Languages of the Americas:  Preserving and promoting American Indian languages – Everything you ever wanted to know about Native Indian languages.  Really?  It’s still OK to say “Indian”?  I thought I was going to catch Hell of using it extensively in the novel.


Super, Duper Coolness for History Geeks

Out of this Century blog by Ben Miller – This blog is fantastic.  I hope Mr. Miller never stops.  It is well written and thoroughly researched with wonderful period images.  Anyone writing historical fiction is doing their writing a disservice by ignoring his webpage.  It contains heaps of tiny details that will bring life to your writing and help you avoid anachronisms.  You really should follow him.

In Mr. Miller’s words:

This blog is a chronicle of the past. Its aim is to bring to light the forgotten customs, traditions, individuals and events that have shaped us as a people and a culture, or were simply remarkable in their own right…including fascinating, surprising, and shocking bits of arcana which offer us a more vivid picture of the way that things were, and help us imagine how it might have felt to live in those times. It is history for history’s own sake.

White Oak Society – I squealed like a little girl and now wish I lived in Minnesota.  They specialize in living history from the 15th Century, 18th Century, and the Viking period.  How the Vikings got mixed in, I’m not sure.  And they host rendezvous, too.

Their blub and event details on the rendezvous event:

White Oak interprets a North West Company fur post circa 1798 in the upper Mississippi River valley. Our rendezvous covers a broader range of historical eras and is considered a “pre-1840” event.  The different time periods will be segregated so as to avoid confusion by the public and to enrich a given time period’s authentic feel.

This year’s event included primitive archery, voyageur games, a Paddle Dance, tomahawk throwing for all ages, knife throwing, spear throwing, and children’s games.  (Silly me, I assumed tomahawk, knife, and spear throwing WERE children’s games.  Children of all ages.)

Museum of the Fur Trade – Dedicated to preserving the history of the North American fur trade, located in Chadron, Nebraska.  Really the only reason I have to visit Nebraska again.  I will make a special trip from my heavily fortified compound in an undisclosed location to experience this place.  I might even take the kids, unlike the White Oak Society Rendezvous.  That would ruin a good time for the wife and me.

They publish “When Skins Were Money: A History of the Fur Trade, mentioned in a previous post.

Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky Mountain West – Not really the same period or geographic region as L’homme Theroux, but very similar in tools, techniques, and circumstances.

Women of the West Museum:  Homesteading a Sod House – There is far more to building a sod house than you would think.  That is assuming you want it to remain standing.  I’m not much for the “girl power” silliness, but I hold a special place in my heart for those wind chapped, leathery faced women who followed their husbands into the wild and helped him carve out a society.


Disturbing Scenes in L’homme Theroux

Theoi Project – Explores Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art.  A comprehensive, free reference guide to the gods, spirits, fabulous creatures, and heroes of ancient Greek Mythology and religion.

Nails, nails, and more nails – Appalachian Blacksmith Association, Glasgow Steel Nail, and John Poole writing for Building Moxie.

Take a wild guess as to why I had to research 19th century nails.  Then, read the book for find out.

Robert McGee – You can’t have a novel about trappers, Indians, and the frontier fur trade without some scalping going on.

Get Thee to a Hattery!
Get Thee to a Hattery!