Drum Roll, Please…

Drum Roll, Please…

It’s time for the official unveiling of the new cover of The Reluctant Agent!

When Can I Get the Book?

The Reluctant Agent will be released on June 8th!

I’m also happy to announce that The Reluctant Agent is available for pre-order on Amazon (ebook), Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo. The paperback version will soon be available for preorder on Amazon as soon as I deal with a cover issue.

I have a handy dandy link right here that will take you to the e-book format of your choic: books2read.com/u/brpLB7

I will also be at the Sherburne Arts Festival on Saturday, June 8 where you can buy copies of The Reluctant Agent and The Reluctant Captain in hardcover or paperback editions and I will be happy to sign them!

Membership Has Its Privileges

Members of my newsletter got to see the cover first – see, membership does have its privileges! And speaking of my newsletter, I’m running a contest open only to members of my newsletter. If you want to enter, you have to be a member, but that’s easy…all you have to do is sign up over there on the right.

I’m giving away a signed copy of the hardcover edition of “The Reluctant Agent” Here are the rules:

††1. In “The Reluctant Captain”, I hid a number of Easter eggs (references to pop culture or science fiction) in the book. The winner of the contest is the person who finds the most Easter eggs. For example, a character’s name may be a reference to another character in a book, show, or movie. In the event of a tie, I will draw the winner from the entries with the most Easter eggs.

2. Mail your entry to mike@reluctantauthor.com

3. Only one entry per email address will be allowed. If you send two or more emails from the same email address, I will only accept the first email. If you want to subscribe on more than one email address, more power to you!

4. If you send two or more emails from the same email address, I will only accept the first email. If you want to subscribe on more than one email address, more power to you!

5. All emails must be received by 11:59 PM on May 31, 2019.

6. I will be the sole arbiter of what constitutes a correct Easter egg reference.

7. Once the results are tabulated, I will email the winner for shipping information.

8. If there are no entries, I won’t give anything away. So, it’s better to enter something than not.

As of this writing, I’ve received zero entries. There’s still time to sign up and enter!

That’s the exciting news for now.

Until next time, Happy Journeys!

Mike

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Spring Awakening

I hope this finds you well! Spring still hasn’t overcome Old Man Winter’s grip over Central New York, as evidenced by the snow falling on my way home from work last night. It’s not completely out of character for our area, but I have honestly had enough.

Spring is a time for growth and rebirth. I have many exciting events popping up like the Russian forget-me-nots that seek to overwhelm my lawn every spring. They are:

Cover for The Reluctant Agent – I’ve got the art back for the cover of The Reluctant Agent and I love it! I need to get it scanned so I can finish the overall cover design, but I promise I will be unveiling it soon!

The inaugural edition of my email newsletter went out – At long last, I kicked off my email newsletter! While I didn’t think it was that bad, I did manage to have three people unsubscribe. I’ll be posting another one very soon; so if you want to join the fun, the link to join my email newsletter is on the right over there. It’s painless and I promise not to fill your inbox!

Editing is nearly complete for The Reluctant Agent My editor is in the home stretch of editing my book. I’ll give it a once over when all of the edits are complete and it should be ready to publish.

I’ve started plotting out the next yet untitled Reluctant book – I’m trying something different and I’m actively plotting out the whole book before I start, instead of having just a rough outline and winging it (my usual approach). I was influenced by two books I’ve read in the last several months: 2000 to 10,000: How to write faster, write better, and write more of what you love by Rachel Aaron and The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. The gist of Rachel Aaron’s book is the best way to be able to write quickly is to plan what you are going to write before you start so you have everything you need (including research) when you start. The Story Grid is a methodology for objectively analyzing a story. Although it’s primary use is for editing, the information about story structure that it provides is really helpful in laying out the book. My hope is that by spending more time up front laying out the story and completing the research, I’ll be able to complete the next book much faster. We’ll see how this experiment nets out.

What’s next?

There’s more stuff to come. The unveiling of the new cover, the kick off of a contest to win a signed copy of the hardcover edition of The Reluctant Agent, and its eventual release!

If you are interested in entering the contest, you can avoid the rush and sign up for my email newsletter just over there to your right. It’s (mostly) painless and it will give you a chance to enter the contest and be the first to know when the new book will be available.

Until next time, happy journeys!

Mike

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Long, Long, Long

Long, Long, Long

It’s been a VERY long month since I last wrote.

First, The Good News

Today I received the first print of the hardcover edition of The Reluctant Captain! Forgive the bad picture:

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye

My mother, Myrtle Tefft, passed away on February 21. My mother was an intensely private person, so I’ve only alluded here to the fact that her health was failing. Although it wasn’t a surprise, it was a shock that she went so quickly. Thankfully, she passed away in her sleep.

I owe much of who I am to my mother. My mother was born in 1930 in London, England and grew up during the Blitz. My mother was tenacious (which is the polite way of saying she was stubborn) and never afraid to stand up for herself if she thought she was being treated unfairly. I get those traits from her without a doubt.

Although my mother immigrated to the States in 1958, she kept many traditions from England alive. Until I went to college, I drank tea far more extensively than coffee, starting on tea with large doses of milk and sugar. Every year, my mother made Christmas Pudding and, for my birthday, Steak and Kidney Pudding (Note: For my American friends, a pudding means a steamed cake – in the case of Christmas – or pastry in the case of Steak and Kidney. It is NOT the pudding we eat out of cups). On Sunday dinners, if we had roast beef, we always had Yorkshire Pudding (popovers). We would often play an English pub game called Shove Ha’penny. The board is a slate with several lines engraved on it. You would “shove” English Ha’pennies (half pennies) and try to get them in between a set of two lines. It’s rather like shuffleboard.

With this comes a change for me. For nearly the last year, Mom was either in a hospital or nursing home at distances ranging from 10 to 50 miles. I tried to visit as often as I could (about every other day). As a result, most of my evenings were taken up with travel. Now, I have to adjust to having time and knowing what that really means – my mom is gone. I’m still coming to grips with it. I’ve found ti hard to conecentrate on anything. In fact, this is the most meaningful amount of writing that I’ve done since she passed.

I know that I will make peace with this, be able to move on, and start writing again. My mother would want that. She often asked me how my writing was going when I visited her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t have time to write because I was visiting her, so I would say, “It’s going,” or some other non-committal answer.

Before I sign off, I want to share one of my favorite pictures of my mother and I. It was taken on Mother’s Day in 2015;

Until next time, Happy Journeys!

Mike

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What’s Going On?

What’s Going On?

Only a few weeks between blog posts? It’s a miracle!

Things have been a whirlwind as I have a number of things going on with books. I sort of feel like a squirrel on coffee; darting from thing to thing. But here’s what I’ve been doing:

Learning Vellum – Vellum is a program that easily formats manuscripts into ebooks and paper books. It does a fabulous job of formatting and making the book look attractive. The great feature is that you click one button and it generates all of the formats at one time. One drawback (but not for me) is that it’s only available for the Mac. There’s not much to learn about it, but it is such a big time saver. Here’s what the new first page of The Reluctant Captain looks like now:

The Reluctant Captain Hardcover Edition – I’m trying my hand at publishing this in a hardcover edition using IngramSpark to do the printing. The current paperback version is printed via KDP which is part of Amazon. I’m hoping that by moving to Ingram for the hardcover (and possibly paperback), I could get my book in honest to goodness bookstores!

Republishing the Ebook and Paperback Editions of 
The Reluctant Captain – Using my new found skill with Vellum, I intend to republish the ebooks and paperback editions with a reformated interior and updated covers to indicate that The Reluctant Captain is Book 1 of the Reluctant Series. I think it’s safe enough to say that now that the release of Book 2 is on the horizon.

The Reluctant Captain – Using my new found skill with Vellum, I intend to republish the ebooks and paperback editions with a reformated interior and updated covers to indicate that The Reluctant Captain is Book 1 of the Reluctant Series. I think it’s safe enough to say that now that the release of Book 2 is on the horizon.

Secret Agent Man

And speaking of Book 2, what’s up with that, you ask?

The book is with the editor right now. She hasn’t flung the manuscript back at me in disgust, so I think it’s going well. The current hope is to get the book back from the editor by the beginning of April and aim for a mid to late May release. This will be dependent upon a number of things and I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up with an actual date. Stay tuned for more details because I am going to try to do blog more often.

That’s all for this post.

Happy Journeys!

Mike

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2019 – A New Hope

As usual, I’ve been delinquent in providing an update. First of all, a (belated) Happy New Year to one and all! I hope that 2019 is a year filled with wonder and love for each and everyone one of you!

What’s New Pussycat?

I successfully survived the holiday season. In my alter ego as a musician, the holiday season is incredibly busy; this year was busier than most. I played in two tree lighting ceremonies and five concerts between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When a proposed Christmas Eve service fell through, I was disappointed, but mostly relieved.

This was balanced with spending time visiting my mother in a long term care facility that’s about an hour and a half from my house. I’ve been taking my dad down there 2-3 times a week after I get home from work, so with the aforementioned concerts, December was a bit of a grind and I’m glad it’s done.

What’s Up, Doc?

What is on tap for 2019?

  • The Reluctant Agent – This will be the year that The Reluctant Agent finally makes its appearance in the world! My book is in the hands of an editor and I can make plans for the release of the book. Come back for more announcements, or better yet, subscribe to my email list over there on the right. I will start sending updates via the mailing list.
  • Updated versions of The Reluctant Captain – Without going into too much detail, I’m going to be releasing an updated version of The Reluctant Captain. I’m not changing the story, but I am updating the formatting. My hope is that I can make the book available to find in actual bookstores! Stay tuned for more updates…or sign up on the mailing list.
  • The Untitled Horror Anthology – I think that this won’t see the light of day this year. But, hope springs eternal!
  • Begin work on the next book in the series – My desire is to have another book in the Reluctant series sometime next year. That’s a lofty goal considering it took me almost four years to get The Reluctant Agent to the point of release.
  • Upgrading my author skills – Besides doing more writing, I’m working through some courses in my spare time. I’m taking a video course on how to use Scrivener (my new writing software) and I’m going to be taking another video course on podcasting. While I’d love to podcast, that is not in the cards any time soon.

We’ll see how much of the list gets done, but I’m definitely focusing on the first two items in the list.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor…

I don’t like the hard sell, but I’m hoping you can do one or two things to help me get ready for the launch of The Reluctant Agent:

  • Join my mailing list – I promise that I won’t bombard you with email – in fact, to date, I’ve sent out zero emails. But I would like to keep people up to date on what’s happening and it would be a big help!
  • Review my current book – If you’ve read The Reluctant Captain, I would love it if you added a review on Amazon, Good Reads, or the platform of your choice. Reviews are a big help both to me as an author and as a way to get more attention.

Until next time…

Happy Journeys!

Mike

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Thanksgiving

It’s certainly been a crazy year and particularly, the last few months. The one good thing about Thanksgiving (besides eating yourself into a food coma), is that it makes me think of the things for which I am (or should be) grateful. 

Things For Which I Am Thankful

  • My Family – I thankful for my family, particularly my wife and son. They put up with me when I’m writing and when I’m stressed out and overtired.
  • My Job – I’m thankful for a reasonably stable job that provides for my family. Having been through times without a job, I realize how fortunate I am.
  • Music – I’m thankful for being able to perform music. I hate practicing, but I love playing. Although this time of year, it can get a little crazy (7 concerts within the next month).
  • Writing – I’m thankful that I’ve been able to finish another book and I’m well on my way to finishing the first draft of another.

I know there are many things I’m not remembering. What are the things that you are thankful for?

A Holiday “Tradition”

And what would Thanksgiving be if I didn’t bring out my Thanksgiving story…


The Call of Cthurkey

by Michael Tefft

(with apologies to H.P. Lovecraft)

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human stomach to tolerate the most obscene combinations. Cooking shows on the Food Network strain in each direction to inspire more and more strange combinations, but so far, none that our stomachs can’t handle. But someday, we will find the combination of foods that will surely drive us mad.

My knowledge of such a thing occurred this Thanksgiving. As was tradition, we assembled at the house of my parents. In the morning, we gathered in front of the television to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as was our want. I could smell a strange odor coming from the kitchen; at once delicious, while at the same time repugnant. Strangely, my mother would not let me help in any way with the cooking, saying simply she was trying something different and wanted to make it a surprise.

After some time, I asked my father if I could borrow his computer to check the hockey scores as cell reception was nearly zero at my parents’ house and my fantasy hockey team was not going to run itself. He grunted from his recliner and I went to my former bedroom, now the home office.

As I brought up the browser window, I noticed that one of my parents had left the browser brought up in a page full of strange and arcane recipes. As I read the page, I looked in horror at combinations of gelatin formed into translucent prisons for meat, vegetables or fruit. As the dread rose along with the bile in my throat, I read the “Comments”. And buried in the comments was a link to what was described as the most forbidden food combinations put together. The link simply read “Crockernomicon”.

With some trepidation, I moved the mouse and with a deep sense of foreboding, clicked the link. The site loaded; I immediately felt like I had stumbled on some lost and forbidden lore. I saw recipes for Jellied Chicken Loaf, Shrimp Aspic Mold, and Pickle Stretcher Salad. The more I read, the more my stomach gurgled and I swallowed hard to force down the rising bile. And then at the bottom of the page was a link to “A Truly Unique Thanksgiving Treat”. To my horror, I realized that the link had been already visited. With trembling hand, I clicked the link.

At the top of the page, I saw the phrase “In his tureen of Gr’vy, Chturkey waits for dressing”. Before I could read any more, my sister came to the door to tell me that the feast was ready. I closed the browser before I could finish looking at the screen, sure that I saved my sanity.

I followed my sister to the dining room table and froze. Before me lay a tableau out of a nightmare. A collection of abominations that would destroy a man’s sanity covered the plates and serving trays. First, a transparent green tower trapped what looked like coleslaw within its shiny emerald walls. Nearby, a translucent white mound with flecks of red and green; the whole thing wobbling as the plate was handed from person to person. More and more of these transparent or translucent concoctions were handed to me. I knew what was expected and with rising dread, I scooped the various congealed food onto my plate. As I stared at the utter horror awaiting me, I was snapped from my daze by my mother’s voice. “Now for the main course.”

Nothing that I had seen in my life prepared me for the horror that arrived on the platter. On a bed of brussels sprouts that looked like the spawn of the Triffids, lay a true abomination. A fully roasted turkey with the tentacles of an octopus and the legs of a crab stretched the limits of sanity of my mind. This could only be one thing: the dread Cthurkey. Nothing I had seen in the Crockernomicon had prepared me for this. My father took his electric carving knife and hacked into the monstrosity. When asked if I wanted white meat or dark, I asked for white in fear that I might be eating turkey stained with the inky blackness of the octopus.

I ate and soon the strain was more than my brain could handle. Dinner became a blur. I must have passed out as I awoke alone on the recliner in front of the television, dimly aware that a football game was playing. As I tried to shake the horror of the feast from my mind, I kept hearing  the words from the dread Crockernomicon in my mind:

“In his tureen of Gr’vy, Cthurkey waits for dressing”

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Mike



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Bits and Bobs

Bits and Bobs

Again, over a month vanishes and I haven’t posted anything here. I’ve had a busy month writing-wise and I haven’t had much time to document much of it.

In My Solitude

On October 19, I a couple of hours to Saugerties, NY for a mini writing retreat. I got there about 2:00 PM and after getting unpacked and settled in. Here’s a picture of my cabin:

I did take a brief break on Saturday to travel to Woodstock and get cupcakes from Peace, Love, and Cupcakes to bring home for my family. They were epic!

It was productive and I wrote over 7000 words that weekend which is a respectable total for me.

One of the coolest things that happened was I was looking for something to watch while I ate a late supper and I stumbled upon a horror movie show called Creature Features on the public access channel. It’s based in California and is reminiscent of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. The cast introduces the movie and comments before and after each commercial break. The movie that night was Daughter of Frankenstein. It made me nostalgic for a show in my youth, Monster Movie Matinee. This was particularly serendipitous as I was working on a horror anthology where a show like this will play a central role.

 “Shouldn’t you be working on book #2? Who do you think you are, George RR Martin?”

The above is a quote from one of my college roommates. No, I’m not consciously emulating George R. R. Martin’s penchant for not finishing the Game of Thrones book that everyone wants. I’m in the process of getting The Reluctant Agent edited by someone who isn’t me. My goal is to publish the book sometime in the Spring of 2019. In the meantime, I still want to write and I’m not quite ready to tackle Book 3 while wrapping up Book 2. So I decided to try my hand at horror short stories. Given the time I have available, it’s easier to work on a short story that’s going to track around 5000 words than it is to try to dig into a new novel. My hope is that after I finish up The Reluctant Agent, I can have this horror anthology edited and work on Book 3 of the Reluctant series. I hope to release the horror anthology September 2019.

Miscellaneous Writing Learnings

Last time I wrote, I said that I was experimenting with software called Scrivener to write my next work and use it to outline and plot my horror anthology. I have absolutely fallen in love with using Scrivener for a large writing project like a book. It keeps everything you need to write right at your fingertips and helps you track your progress. I actually attended a webinar on how to use Scrivener faster. I learned so much. One of the things I learned was that you can use emojis as icons for your writing pieces. And since I was in the middle of a short story that wouldn’t work the way it was structured, I turned most of the status icons to the “Pile of Poo” emoji to tell me I had to rewrite it:

Ever the model of maturity…

I’m working my way through the software and I am positive that this is going to be the tool of choice for my writing from here on.

This turned into a much longer post than I intended. I guess I had a great deal to share.

Until next time…whenever that will be….

Happy Journeys!

Mike

PS – Since we have somehow decided that the Christmas season begins the day after Halloween, I just want to say that books make great gifts…particularly my book…which you can conveniently purchase through the link on the top right of the page…

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