Williamsburg Book Festival 2022 Appearance!

Come see me at the Williamsburg Book Festival in Williamsburg, VA on October 1! I’ll have an outdoor booth and, depending on the weather forecast, maybe a DOG WITH ME!!! Come see a dog! If I can have a dog with me, weather permitting, it will likely be Aggie The Fierce Rottweiler, the cover dog of First Watch! Maybe she’ll even paw-tograph your copy of First Watch that you buy at the Williamsburg Book Festival!?!!

No promises. Many possibilities. You’ll have to attend to find out!


On To the Next!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve started drafting the third book in the Civil Dusk series already! In this story, tentatively called “By Appointment Only,” Hugh meets with the spirits of Skara Brae to get his dian-stane fixed. They tell him to journey to New Hampshire in the USA, where descendants of theirs journeyed and built a settlement 4000 years ago. But how will he find it in a country to which he’s never been? Perhaps a local guide can assist!

Stay tuned for a completely unique story that’s already a page-turner! And in the meantime, get your copies of Civil Dusk and First Watch; links in the Buy My Books link above!


When I’m writing, I commonly leave myself brackets around words that I either need to go back in the typed document to fact check, or that I need to find a synonym for. In the pictured case below, it’s a fact check. I hand write my drafts and my first line of editing is when I type my written sections up, usually a chapter at a time. Do you do this? If not, it might help! For me, it gives me permission to keep writing and not stall my progress with a word check.

First Watch update!

I am officially past the halfway marker in writing First Watch… I’ve got 21k words typed! My goal is around 40k like the first book in its series, Civil Dusk. Appropriately, the plot is coming to the big climax and I just drafted the big reveal. I’m so excited! Publishing goal for First Watch is Spring 2021.

Cooking up Style

Okay, we all know those ice breaker questions are stale and overdone. But I’ve come up with a new one that I reckon you, dear readers, should be able to dazzle. So: how would you describe your writing style, in terms of food prep?

Are you classic and traditional, like a steak dinner? Are you edgy and fresh, like a quinoa poke bowl with sriracha? (Foodies, is that spelled right?) Answer in the comments with description and bonus points if you put a picture with the food too! I need dinner ideas!

For me, I rather think I’m a Velveeta meal box with ground bison, served with a glass of cabernet sauvignon and followed by a cup of fresh ground coffee:

This is because my style is unassuming, yet surprisingly rustic and entertaining, made up of influences from other authors but uniquely my own. Plus, give it time and it gets poetic.

Author Interview Series – Dave Lee

This is the first in what will be a monthly installment series. I seek to interview independently published authors regarding their debut novels and the process they followed to bring them to life.

We start with Dave Lee, of HCS Publishing, whose debut novel “Country in Ruin: 1865” was published on March 1, 2013. His responses are marked with D. Any comments I had to add are in italics.

N) How long did it take you to finish your first book? 

D: It took roughly a year to write and about three months worth of editing. Just to write that seems impressive to me as I’ve been writing the sequel for nearly 4 years now. I should probably omit that but at least folks will know that these things are a serious labor of love.

Not omitted, because it’s true! You might have a book that takes an eon to complete compared to another. But never give up.

N) How long did it take you to publish your first book?
D: I had already developed our process for publishing during the process of getting my daughter’s books out there so my book only took about 2 weeks. During the course of writing the book, I imagined the cover so when it came down to doing it, I had a good idea already.
N) Did you consider trying the traditional route? Why, or why not?
D: I did actually and had little to no success. I did receive one offer from a traditional publisher but it was pretty terrible so we decided to go the self publish route. As for why, I don’t think it was because no one wanted it but rather that no one was willing to gamble on a Steampunk book. Traditional publishers are struggling with the changing world and therefore I decided to take advantage of that and the opportunities self publishing offer. There were still gaps though, which is what led us to establishing HCS Publishing.
N) If so, why did you change your mind and independently publish?
D: I really wanted to do things our way and I really wanted to establish a business model for HCS Publishing that was, to my knowledge, extremely rare. HCS Publishing is a non-profit publisher where the authors keep all of their sales profits. This should show that we value our authors more than anything else and that what we publish is truly something that we love and believe in. Why else go through the work when you aren’t getting paid?
N) Do you formally outline?
D: I didn’t in the first book but am doing so in the second. Perhaps this is why the story is still being written three years after starting while the first only took 1. I see value in it, especially with a complicated plot and global scope but it is easy to get lost in the organization. I assume that I’ll get better as time goes on but that remains to be seen.
N) The bit about “the popcorn,” did you know that would happen? 
D: The scene, much like the majority of the book, happened organically. It was more silly fun than anything. Some time later, while at a convention, a notable author suggested that I come up with an inside joke for signing books as it would hopefully spark interest in the reader and provide an “ah ha” moment when they got to it. I thought this was a good idea and chose to use the popcorn scene as my inside joke. So, consequently I sign all books with “I hope you like popcorn”.
N) Do you like your antagonist? As in, would you hang out with them?
D: Normally I favor antagonists that blur the lines between good and bad. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a Vader fanatic. In this story though, I chose to keep him as despicable as possible. There are parts where you sympathize with his family and those that care about him and try to steer him in better directions but I’m a firm believer in consequences of one’s actions. Regardless of how noble he thinks his intentions are, things rarely go as we plan and his actions compound on themselves, keeping him an antagonist that I’d rather punch in the face than hang out with.
There is a literary theory that claims strong antagonists also need to be sympathetic to the reader to some degree, hence my question. Dave Lee has truly mastered this dichotomy of love and hate in Country in Ruin!
N) Is this the story you Wanted to tell, or the one that Needed to be told?
D: I suppose it is the story that I wanted to tell rather than anything else. It started as back stories for props I made and then grew a life of its own. I’m pretty stubborn as my wife would tell you so if I determine it is something I want, it becomes something I need and consequently something that I will do. So in summation, to answer your question: both. 😊
N) Any last words?
D: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about myself. Certainly a topic I like talking about. 😊 For more information, I’d ask folks to check out HCS Publishing at www.hcspublishing.com There is no shortage of great stories for people to check out, this book being only one of many.
Curious? You can purchase “Country in Ruin: 1865” at AMAZON.COM in Kindle and Paperback versions. And be sure to visit HCS Publishing’s website above for more great titles as well as how to invite Dave Lee to present at your next event.