Weekly Update: August 13th – August 19th

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Wow, what a week!  I will admit that while I managed to get a lot done, most of it was focused more on getting my home in order than it was on writing, reading, or business, in general.  It has been crazy.  Many of you know that my husband decided to move out at the beginning of the month, and while everything has been cordial between us, it has still been a bit stressful because he is having to move out around his work schedule.

Which is fine.

But, it has left my home in a bit of an upheaval.  He decided that he wasn’t going to remove many items from the house itself because Seth doesn’t like change, and furniture missing would be a big change for him.  I did tell him that he needed to take the bed and one of the dressers from the bedroom.  He bought the bed for his sleeping tastes, so it made sense for him to take it.  As for the dresser, we had two, and I don’t have that many articles of clothing.  I don’t even half-fill the one that he left here.

But that was personal stuff.  I managed to squeeze in a little work this week on something other than cleaning up the house.

Reading

Fortunately, the books I wanted to read this week were either a) on my cellphone or b) small and easy to transport.  When I wasn’t vacuuming the carpet, scrubbing a horrendous pet stain out of the carpet, or dusting cobwebs from the walls, I used my rest time to read.  I read Ad Astra by Kevin O. McLaughlin, A Warrior’s Journey by Paul B. Thompson and Tonya C. Cook, and A Hero’s Justice by Paul B. Thompson and Tonya C. Cook this week.

I don’t know how I managed to get all of these books read while I was resting in ten minute spurts, but I closed up and put down the last one Friday night around 11:00 PM.  It was probably all the late night reading because even after working all day, I was unable to wind down and sleep like I normally do.  Oh well, reading is good for me anyway.

 

Writing

Writing did not happen anywhere as much as I wanted it to this week.  I’ve had “Outline The Selkie” on my task list for three weeks now, and I still haven’t gotten to it.  “Draft The Siren’s Song” has been on it for two weeks.

But things have been crazy.  Between the separation and all that going on, the kids have also been winding up because school starts back in a week.  They are trying to squeeze in the last of their summer hurrahs.

Hopefully, this week will be better.  I have “The Selkie” on my list again, but it’s right at the beginning of the week during my “light” times, so it should get done.  “The Siren’s Song” is on the list as well, but it is closer to the end of the week, so if the kids are completely berserk by that point, it may get pushes into next week when the kids are no longer in the house.

Business (In General)

For this, I got a lot done.

For the most part, I have finished setting this blog up on the new domain.  I still have to fill out the side widgets, but the site is functional, and I feel that it looks good.  (Let me know if you think it sucks.  I’m new at this.)

I also consolidated all my work back on Amazon.  Even after taking everything wide, I was still only making sales on Amazon.  And with them wide and through an aggregator, I was unable to do coupons or any other free promotion, so I pulled them about two weeks ago.  I spent a few hours this week updating the interiors and relisting them in Amazon’s KDP Select.  At least now, I can use the 5-Free-Day promotion that Amazon offers its indie authors.

What Are You Reading? – August 19th

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What are you reading this week?

Last week, I flew through Ad Astra and A Warrior’s Journey.  I even found my copy of A Hero’s Justice, and I read that as well.  So I am all caught up on the books that I needed to read from the last week or two, and I am ready to start anew with two more books this week.

This week, I am reading After Math from the Off the Subject series by Denise Grover Swank and Alliances by Paul B. Thompson.  This book is from the Dragonlance saga, Elven Exiles series, volume 2.

I have had both of these books for a while now.  After Math has some good reviews, but it’s not a genre that I usually read, so I am not certain about what to expect from it.  Alliances, on the other hand, is a fantasy novel, and since it’s Dragonlance, I know I will gobble it up in no time.  I am looking forward to it because it is also a Dragonlance novel I have never read before.

This week isn’t supposed to be anywhere as crazy as the last couple of weeks have been.  I should be able to get through both of these books and complete all my writing tasks this week.  That’s the plan, anyway.

What are you planning to read this week?  Did you read a book last week?  Let me know in the comments below!  I love chatting about books.

If you would like to see more books that I have read and reviewed, please visit my Book Reviews.  I try to review every book that I read, but time constraints make it hard for me to leave a full review for all of them.  I also will not leave or share a poorly-rated review.

The Last Smoke: A Short Story

The Last Smoke - Cover

 

The Last Smoke: A Short Story

John hunkered down further in the snow-filled trench as a gust of wind ripped through the fortified passage. Next to him, his buddy William did the same, blowing in his gloved hands to warm them against the chill. John sighed. All he wanted to do was curl up with his little girl and read her T’was the Night Before Christmas before he tucked her into her bed. Instead, he was huddled in a trench in frozen France, and he was surrounded by enemy soldiers.

He was almost frozen himself. Snow had been falling since the wee hours of morning, and his trench coat, trousers, and shirt were soaked through. He wished he could move. At least he could warm up that way. But if he accidentally exposed himself over the top of the trench, it would give away their position. And it would likely be the end of him.

He gripped his rifle and prepared to fire a couple of rounds.

William slid a round into his rifle and smiled at him. “It could be worse, you know? It could be this cold and raining. At least the snow gives us a little time before we feel it.”

John smirked then steadied himself.

He hated this part. The part where he had to peek over the edge, fire a round or two, and hope that he would be lucky enough to pull everything he showed the enemy back into the trench when he was done.

He took several deep breaths and nodded to William that he was ready. They both crouched at the edge of the trench and fired blindly into the white expanse.

Rolling himself back down into the trench, he hunched over himself to build up body heat.

William bumped into him as he dropped into a heap beside him. “Just a little while longer, Johnny. Then we can head down to the rest of the group and curl up beside a barrel fire until our skin turns read. You got any papers on you?” He dug around in his pockets, searching for his tobacco.

“They are probably wet. I’m soaked through.” John leaned to his side and pulled his papers out of his back pocket. They were wrapped in leather, but even leather soaks through after a while.

William took the folded leather and set it in his lap with his tobacco tin. He peeled his wet gloves from his hands and untied the string holding the leather closed. Running his index finger against the edges of the papers inside, he gave John a grin. “Middle ones are dry.”

“Hurry up and roll one then. I’m freezing,” John grumbled. He wrapped his hands around the barrel of the rifle, siphoning the last of its warmth into his damp gloves.

William set to work, sprinkling the tobacco on a dry rolling paper then rhythmically rolling it between his thumbs and fingers to pack the tobacco tight. He folded the leather pouch back up and handed it to John to tie closed.

John wrapped the strings around the leather and tied it tightly before he shoved it back into his rear pocket. The movement exposed his wet backside to the frigid air, sending a chill through his body.

William tapped the end of the cigarette on the lid of the tobacco tin to pack the tobacco even tighter, then he closed the tin tight and slid it inside the interior pocket of his trench coat. Pulling a box of matches out of the same pocket, he placed the tip of the cigarette in his mouth. He fiddled with the box with his cold fingers until he was able to push the end of it open, and he pulled one of the tiny sticks out. Striking it quick against the barrel of his rifle, he lit the cigarette and snuffed the match out in the snow.

He took two long puffs then passed it to John. “You know, I’m starting to wonder if we are even shooting at anyone. We ain’t had a shot returned in two days.”

John shook his head, taking the cigarette. “They’re out there. Just because we can’t see them and we haven’t heard them, don’t mean they aren’t biding their time.”

William chuckled. “I bet they packed up and left once the snow started coming down hard. They probably decided that if it got this cold up here, we could have it.”

John smirked and took a long draw on the cigarette. The smoke was warm on his throat, and it tickled it slightly, but it did little more to heat him up. He passed it back to William. “They’re out there. They’re probably just waiting for a clean shot before they let us know where they are.”

William tucked the cigarette in his mouth, letting it dangle as he talked. “I’ll prove we’re alone. If no one returns fire after our next shots, I ‘ll stand up and roll us another cigarette.” He looked at John, his face full of certainty. “I’m telling you, there’s no one out there. We’re just shooting at the snow.”

John pulled a bullet from his ammunition pouch and loaded his weapon. He frowned. He did not want to agree to such a stupid bet, but he knew that no matter what he said, William was going to do it. Once William set his mind on something, he did it. If anything, trying to talk him out of it only made him want to do it more. John bowed his head against his weapon in silence, hoping that William would just let it go.

“You ready, Johnny?”

John looked sidelong at his friend, doing his best to ignore the “I’ll show you” grin on his face. He gave William a nod.

William adjusted the cigarette in his mouth, and they both crouched at the edge of the trench again. They each fired a single shot into the falling snow.

Rolling back down into the trench, they kept low, listening. No shots were returned.

“Told you,” William said with a triumphant smile on his lips.

John put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Just wait. They may still be trying to determine where the shots came from.”

William shook his head. “I’m telling you, Johnny, there’s no one out there. The officers just have us out here to make their superiors think they are working. We’re freezing while they’re down there by the barrel, eating and staying warm.” William took one last puff on the cigarette and snuffed it out in the snow. He placed the part he did not smoke in the pocket of his trench coat.

“Give them five minutes, Will. Just five,” he pleaded with him. He did not want to beg, but he would stall for as long as he could.

“Fine, I’ll give ‘em five minutes, then I’m going to roll a victory cigarette, and we are going to march down to the other end of this trench and park our asses by that fire. The commissions can come down here and fire at the snow if they want to appear busy.”

John snorted and closed his eyes. He hugged the warm barrel against his chest and rocked side to side to create as much heat as possible. And he prayed. He prayed for a single shot to ring out, anything to prove that they were not shooting at nothing—anything to make his friend give up his stupid idea.

The minutes ticked by much too quickly. John counted the seconds and knew that he had run out of time.

“Gimme your papers, Johnny.”

He pulled the leather pouch from his seat pocket again and passed them to William.

William propped his rifle against the side of the trench and stood up. Swiping his arm across the snow at the top of the trench, he created a flat spot to wrap and roll his cigarette.

“I told you, Johnny. We’re gonna be sitting next to the barrel in about ten minutes, finally warm, finally dry. Them officers think they got us fooled.”

John could not say anything. He gripped his rifle and watched his friend, praying hard and fast that even if there were soldiers out there, they were hunkered down in the trenches next to their fires and not paying attention.

William pulled a small stack of papers out of the leather pouch and flipped through them to find a dry one.

John’s gaze darted to his friend as soon as the single shot broke the silence.

William’s head jerked back, and his hands stopped moving. He appeared frozen for a moment, gazing off at something in the distance. Then he fell, crumpling into a heap.

John sat, frozen in shock, as his best friend’s body collapsed into the snow.

A gust of wind whipped through the trench, picking up the cigarette papers and scattering them over the snow, but John could not do anything but stare.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more free stories and excerpts by my various pen names, please visit my Library.

What Are You Reading?: August 12th

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What are you reading this week?

I will be honest and say that I did not finish both of my books from last week.  I seem to have mislaid one of them.  There has been a lot of packing and moving things around this week, and I think my book got moved from where I put it in the process.  It will turn up, and I will just have to read it once it does.

I finished A Crabby Killer on Wednesday, and I enjoyed it.  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get around to reading it, but I’m glad that I have gotten the chance to read it now.

A Warrior's Journey: CoverThis week, I am reading A Warrior’s Journey, from the Dragonlance: Ergoth Trilogy, by Paul B. Thompson.  It is the first book in the series.  I would have read this one last week, but as I said above, we have been doing a lot of packing up and moving things around, and I did not know where this book was until the middle of the week.

Ad Astra: CoverI also have Ad Astra by Kevin O. McLaughlin on my reading list.  It is the first book in the Adventures of the Starship Satori series.  Kevin is in many of my writing groups online, and when I saw his book was up for grabs during a free promotion, I picked it up.  If you are reading this, Kevin, I’m sorry it has taken me this long to get around to reading it.

Both of these books should be quick reads for me.  They are both in genres that I absolutely love (fantasy and science fiction, if the covers didn’t give you a big enough hint), and this week should be moderately quiet, so I should be able to lose myself in a good book.

So, what are you reading this week?

New Cover Reveal: The Daily Prompt 2017: September

It’s that time again!  A new month, a new collection of writing prompts.  And what better way to create excitement then to reveal the new cover for the newest collection?

The Daily Prompt 2017: September is expected to come out in a couple of weeks.  This collection will contain thirty prompts that I have written up for September, each one designed to inspire.  Look for this book on Amazon.

Update Your Bookmarks!

We have a new web address!

Update your bookmarks with my new website address: http://www.jccauthon.com

With this new address comes many new plans, including more content for you to enjoy, individual pages for each of my pen names (so you won’t have to scour the internet to find them), and much more.  Keep your eyes peeled for new announcements as new projects roll out on my site.

What Are You Reading?: August 5th

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I’m taking the time this week to really enjoy two fiction books.  One of them is a recent publication, and the other is a trade paperback that I picked up years ago from a library book sale.

A Crabby Killer is from the Mooseamuck Island Cozy Mystery Series by Leighann Dobbs.  A Crabby Killer is the first book in the series, and I have been looking forward to reading this one for a while.  But, I’m a stickler for reading in the order that I bought the books, so this one had to wait.  But, since I now have three piles of books to read, and this one happened to be on the top of one of the piles, I *ahem* decided that I could read this one now.  I can’t wait to crack this book open this week!  

A Hero’s Justice is from the Dragonlance: Ergoth Trilogy by Paul B. Thompson.  It’s book three in the series.  I read the first two of the series years ago, and I may not remember enough about them to really get into this book, but I have had this book for a long time, and I really should finally read it.  It’s been out so long that Amazon didn’t even have a paperback version of it up for sale anymore.  I had to link to the audio version.

I would have added a third book, but we have a lot going on this week, and I’m honestly not certain that I will finish these two books before next Saturday.  We shall see.

What is on your reading list this week?

Book Review: The Royal Dragoneers


The Royal Dragoneers by M.R. Mathias

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It took me a while to read this novel, and it wasn’t because it was bad. It was long. If it had been a regular, printed copy that I was reading, I would have been done a lot sooner, but because it was on my Kindle, it took me a while longer to read it.

It was a very good novel. The story was believable and gripping. The characters felt real, and I found myself wanting to know more about them and caring about what happened to them.

The only issue I honestly found was that I felt like there were too many characters to follow. Near the end of the book, I had to go back a few times and search for the names of the people in the scene so I could figure out who I seeing the story through. I think that if it had been limited to Zah, Jenka, and Rikky, the story would have been easier for me to follow. Even the Prince’s point-of-view would have been expected.

The moment the story jumped into the point-of-view of Linux, I found myself overwhelmed and not really sure where I was in the timeline because it was jumping characters so much and jumping back and forth through the timeline a lot. Something just happened in the previous character’s point-of-view, then the next point-of-view that is introduced may be telling about actions that occurred twenty minutes or as much as an hour before. It got a little confusing.

Otherwise, it was an epic story. Great read.

What Are You Reading? – July 29th

I almost forgot this post–again!  Life has been so hectic lately that keeping up with weekly habits has fallen to the wayside.  Daily habits–yeh, I got those handled, but if it’s something I have to do weekly, I am currently forgetting them with regularity.  I’m hoping my new bullet journal fixes this problem for me.

Anywho, this week, I will be reading two more books.  K9 and the Missing Planet by David Martin and 5 Secrets of Story Structure by K. M. Weiland.

 This is the final book in the K9 series, and though they are intended for children to read, they have been fun to read.  I love anything Doctor Who.  And I mean anything.  I grabbed most of the Doctor Who series recently, so I will be reading a lot of them this year.

5 Secrets of Story Structure is a freebie that I got for signing up for K. M. Weiland’s newsletter, and her website and newsletter are an amazing source of writerly advice and information, so I have enjoyed reading those.  I’m expecting the same feeling when I read this book.  That and hopefully some insight on how to structure my novels.

So, that is my reading list for the week.  What are you reading?

New Release: The Daily Prompt 2017: August Workbook

The Daily Prompt 2017: August Workbook is now available at Amazon.com!  Like previous editions from the Workbook series, this paperback consists of all thirty-one days of August with lined pages provided for each prompt.  You can use these pages to write a few quick words on the prompt to get the words flowing for the day, you can use them to brainstorm larger ideas for the prompt, or anything you wish.  I hope that you enjoy this month’s edition.