Status Report

Status Report

Where have the last six months gone?

It’s been a whirlwind of activity here… both with the book and life. I’m happy to report that I sent the newest tale of Malcolm’s adventures to my editor… and it didn’t suck! I’ve had a very hard time judging if this book would work and I was thrilled to get objective feedback about the book. My editor assured me that the book was in pretty good shape, but needed some tightening up and to explore the world more fully, which was something I thought might need work. To that end, I spent a weekend in an RV at a local KOA for my annual writing retreat and concentrated on it for two and a half days. Here’s a picture of my home away from home:

I’m still making tweaks for the next two weeks, but I’ve decided that other than copy editing changes, I’m going to send it out to beta readers at the end of September. I hope to take the feedback and get the book ready for publication by the end of October, so that it be available in time for Christmas. I still need to decide on a title, but be on the lookout for future announcements!

Music, Music, Music

As if I didn’t have enough going on between working full time and working on the book, music consumed me summer. From May, I played in four concert bands and two Big Bands. This translated to something like four parades, twelve concert band concerts, 10 Big Band gigs, and playing in the orchestra for a musical (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)! That doesn’t count rehearsals, that’s just the actual performances. Things have settled down on the music front for the time being, but rehearsals start soon to prepare for the Holiday season!

Roam If You Want To

We also did some travelling this summer (besides the writing retreat). At the end of June, the whole family spent a week in Lake Placid, our last family trip together, as my daughter has now left for Nova Scotia. My wife and I spent a long weekend in Canandaigua – originally to see Pat Benatar in concert which was cancelled. Instead, we took a cooking class at NY Kitchen where we made our own dinner. After spending the morning wondering around downtown Canandaigua, we stopped at a distillery owned by a winner of the Discovery Channel show Moonshiners and at a farm stand where we picked up blueberries.

Our big trip will happen later this month when we travel to Nova Scotia for my daughter’s wedding. We’re taking our time getting there and we plan to spend a day in Bar Harbor, Maine on our way home.

That’s all for now. Expect radio silence until I return from our excursion to Nova Scotia!

Happy Journeys!


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The Long and Winding Road

The Long and Winding Road

And before I knew it, almost a year had passed, and no updates to my blog…

Where Have I Been?

The last several months have been very busy as, with my sister, we cleaned out our childhood home and got it ready for sale. It’s been a long process, but I think we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve been slowly working on the new novel, spending my time revising the next Reluctant novel. I still don’t have a title yet because I can’t find one that resonates with me. The revision process has been slow and arduous, but I have completed a draft that is fairly readable. I spent most of the time on my annual fall writing retreat revising it.

Right now, I’m shopping for an editor to help me whip the book into shape because I’m at the point where I honestly do not know if it’s good or not. I enjoy reading it, but I’m looking for an objective opinion on the book because I can’t judge it at this point. I will say that in my search for an editor that the initial response has been encouraging.

As a result, it’s likely that the book won’t be ready for publication until later this year. I usually try to publish in June, but I hope I can have it ready in the October – November timeframe, but don’t hold me to that. I’m also looking at refreshing the covers for The Reluctant Captain and The Reluctant Agent, which I will probably do with the launch of the new book. While I love the current cover art, they don’t really match the style of other books on the market and I hope that a new cover will make them more attractive to new readers.

While I wait to get the new book edited, I’m going to start on the next Reluctant book. My original plan had been to start a new series featuring Nigel Sinclair from The Reluctant Agent, but I have an idea for Malcolm’s further adventures so I’m going to strike while the iron is hot.

What Else Have I Been Up To?

As the pandemic restrictions have loosened, I’m back to playing trumpet again. Right now, I’m a member of four concert bands and two big bands. I know that if I wasn’t at band rehearsal as often, I would have more time to write, but playing regularly honestly helps keep my sanity. In my current job, I work from home so band rehearsals are a chance to get me out of the house. And I’ve rekindled my love of swing and jazz which I’ve realized I missed playing.

The other project I worked on this year has at least a tentative link to Malcolm. In my dad’s garage, he had an old radio (an RCA 5T1 complete with vacuum tubes) that my great-grandmother had painted canary yellow. The radio had been in my dad’s garage for as long as I could remember. I stripped it and refinish it. Since my electrical engineering skills have long since atrophied (and I’m pretty sure we never covered the vacuum tubes in Electrical Science), I decided against trying to repair it. Instead, I turned it into a Bluetooth wireless speaker. I gutted the internals and replaced them with a Bluetooth amplifier and a single speaker capable of stereo output. I’m thrilled with the result and frequently use it while I’m working:

That’s the current news for now. My cat reminds you that my books are available (see the links on the right):

Until next time,

Happy Journeys!


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It’s Always Darkest Before They Turn On The Lights

It’s been a very long two months since the last time I updated the blog…but hey, it’s only two months instead of two years!

In Memoriam

As I mentioned in my last article, my father’s health has been declining. Since I wrote my last post, he was in the hospital twice. He returned home from his most recent stint in the hospital but passed away the next morning, April 21. Although my father graduated college with an Associate’s Degree in Dairy Technology, he ended up working for a pharmaceutical company and became an analytical chemist, retiring as a Staff Scientist. I found out during his calling hours that whenever anyone needed to figure out to do something, he was always the one who figured it out; that’s a talent I believe I inherited from my dad. He was a lifelong musician, playing the alto horn (think a baby baritone that sounds more like a french horn) in a number of community bands and even a Dixieland combo. I attribute my love of music to him – I remember going to concerts when I was a kid and I couldn’t wait until I could play in the band; something I’m doing to this very day. And lastly, he was the one who started my lifelong obsession with Star Trek. I remember Sunday afternoons watching it with my dad when I was young. Recently, we had started re-watching some of the episodes when I went to visit him in the evening. Although, as one of my college friends said after my dad’s service, I probably would have been obsessed with it anyway, given my college friends. But my love of Star Trek and science fiction is traced back directly to my father.

My father, like my mother, was a voracious reader. When I was younger, he read a great deal of science fiction and westerns. As he got older, his tastes turned more towards mysteries and thrillers. He was a big fan of my books – in fact, when he was at a rehab facility last fall, he had me bring copies of my books so he could re-read them. I’m saddened that he won’t get to read this book; although it’s finished, it’s not in a state for anyone to read yet.

Here’s a picture of the two of us from 2020:

Speaking Of The Next Book…

With my dad’s health, my time to work on the book has been extremely limited. I have managed to go through and get rid of the most egregious typos, spelling, and grammar mistakes. I’m at the point where I really need to read through the book again and work out issues before I fine-tune everything. I should have more time to devote to it, but I also have to start dealing with my dad’s affairs. Time will tell when I can complete this.

That’s all from me for now. Hopefully my next missive will contain happier news.

Happy Journeys!


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The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Author

The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Author

Our mid day tea was interrupted by the ring of the doorbell. I roused myself from the chair and hurried to the door where I found a striking young woman. “Is this the home of Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective? I wish to engage him to help me find a missing author. I apologize for being so forward. He’s been missing for two years and I have no idea what happened to him,” she said. “I forget my manners, I’m Joan de St. Leger.”

She was a striking young woman; auburn hair, bright green eyes. “Have we met before? You look familiar to me,” I asked as I ushered her into the house.

“It’s possible; I work for Mr. Mycroft Holmes in the Foreign Service,” she said.

“That must be it,” I said. “This way.” I led her up the stairs to Holmes’ drawing room. “This is Miss Joan de St. Leger. She is asking for your help in finding a missing author. What did you say his name was?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t. His name is Michael Tefft. The last missive I had from him was over two years ago and I fear the worse.

“What is your relationship to this author?” Holmes asked.

I’m a character in his novels,” she replied. “I’ve been waiting two long years to find out what will happen to me.”

– From the non existent story “The Case of the Vanishing Author”

It won’t take the great deductive mind of Sherlock Holmes to find out where I’ve been for the last two years.

The answer is: Life has kept me busy.

When last I updated this blog, I was trying to decide what to work on – an anthology of horror short stories or the next novel in the Reluctant series. I actually wrote three stories, three quarters of another, and plotted out a fourth. But in the end, I came back to Malcolm, and Joan.


The week of March 18th, I suddenly found myself working full time at home and then just a day later, making an emergency trip to Canada to get our daughter back from college before the border closed. All during this, I also needed to check on my father on a daily basis. While you would think that this would mean more time to write because I no longer had a daily commute and no outside activities, I found I actually had less time.

But I wrote when I could. I managed to take a writing retreat in 2020, staying at Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel – owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s!

In March 2021, I left my employer for a new position as a Technical Solutions Architect for a software company. I hadn’t been happy in my old job and it had become obvious to me that there were little to no opportunities to do something new at that job. The new job has been challenging, but also very demanding on my time, making it even harder to find time to write.

In August of 2021, my family and I went to Trekondoraga (a recreation of the Star Trek Original Series sets) and I got to live out my fantasy of being a Chief Engineer on the Enterprise:

In October of 2020, we joined all of the people who got quarantine pets, a beautiful cat named Jazz (it was supposed to be Jasmine because we thought when we got it, it was a girl. However, a visit to the vets told us otherwise, so he became Jazz). I was never a cat person before, but now I’ve become one of those people that obsessively reads about cats that have been rescued and thriving in new homes. Here he is in all his glory:

I was able to get away for another writing retreat in 2021 – this time to Honesdale, PA ( in the Poconos) where I got a tremendous amount of writing done and really moved the next novel towards completion.

Which I’m happy to say, on January 6, 2022, I completed the first draft of the next Reluctant novel:

So What’s Next?

I’ve been letting the novel sit for a few weeks and I’m just beginning to start reading through it, so that I can figure out what needs to rewriting. I really hope that I can get this novel published this year, but between my job and looking out for my father, I’m not sure if it will happen. But I intend to work on it, bit by bit, much like how I wrote it.

I hope this solves the Case of the Vanishing Author to your satisfaction. I plan to offer more frequent updates, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men….

Until next time,

Happy Journeys!

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There And Back Again

There And Back Again

Where the heck have I been for the last four months? After months of semi-regular blogging, nothing.

After the launch of The Reluctant Agent, I thought I was gung-ho to start the next book in the Reluctant series. And I was. I wrote the first chapter fairly quickly and things seemed like they were on their way.

Until they weren’t.

Admittedly, I have been busy over the summer. Band season was in full swing and I typically played in at least 2 concerts a week. But I had time to write, oftentimes having hours at a time.

And I couldn’t bring myself to write.

Almost any activity seemed preferable to writing. I simultaneously looked forward to and dreading writing.

And it seemed pointless.

While my sales of The Reluctant Agent were great at the Sherburne Arts Festival (and I’m so grateful to everyone who purchased copies), I’ve sold only single digits of copies since then. I tried playing with Amazon Ads to boost sales – the first attempt ended with no impressions (so it cost me no money), the second attempt garnered some impressions and two sales, but that’s it. I tried to set up a signing with a local book store and after providing my information, I heard nothing. I emailed them twice more and got no reply. An attempt to sell my books at another local store has likewise been answered with silence.

I began to wonder: what’s the point? I felt like the more I pushed, the less the universe cared. I spend all of my free time trying to fit in writing. Was it really worth it?

Fast forward to this past weekend…

Cabin in the woods

This past weekend, I went on my (nearly) annual writing retreat. I set myself up in the cabin in the picture. Since I had driven two and a half hours to get there and spent real money to rent the cabin, I felt like I really had to write whether I wanted to or not.

And so I did. I wrote on and off from 3:30 Friday afternoon until about 9:00 that night with a break for dinner. The next morning, I wrote from 9:00 to 9:00.

I just kept at it and at it and while I can’t say I wrote a ton of words, I made substantial progress. However, something more important happened:

I remembered why I like writing.

It’s the act of building the story, of researching the stupid little details I put into the book that brings me joy.

With the lead up to The Reluctant Agent, I was busy with editing, building the cover, creating the print and ebook editions, and marketing. Everything about the business of writing, but not the actual writing.

And when all of that work seemed to result in nothing, I got discouraged. I wasn’t consciously blaming my lack of success, but it certainly fed into my ongoing battle with Imposter Syndrome (see this post for more details). If all that work wasn’t achieving results, why bother?

The answer came to me this weekend: the success is in the act of creation, not the selling of the creation.

Now please don’t mistake what I’m saying: I very much want my books to be successful. I want everyone to buy copies of my books. But the reason I do it is for the creation – the process. I confused the success of the product with the success I had already achieved – writing a book.

So now what?

I think I have my writing mojo back.

For the first time in forever, I was eager to write a blog post. Tomorrow night, I’m looking forward to spending more time writing. Because that’s where I get the joy in this.

That being said, tomorrow, I have an opportunity to sell my books at an Art fair at work. I would love to sell out of the supply of books I’m bringing, but you know what? Even if I don’t sell anything tomorrow, I still get to come home and write. And that sounds pretty damn good!

Happy Journeys!


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A Peek​ Behind the Curtain

I was at dinner with my father-in-law and I told him I was in the middle of publishing The Reluctant Agent . He asked, “How do you publish your book?” to which I replied, “With a lot of cussing.” (Note: That is no exaggeration…more on that later). I’ve been thinking about that ever since, and I thought I’d share what I do.

1. Finish the damn book – This means getting the book edited, proofread, and proofread again.

2. If you’re using something other than Amazon for print, get ISBN numbers – If you only use Amazon for print, you don’t need an ISBN number for your book. Likewise, you don’t need an ISBN number for e-books. But if you use another service, you WILL need an ISBN number.

3. Format the book – Here, I have a bit of a secret weapon. I use a piece of software called Vellum that only runs on a Mac. It does all of the heavy-lifting of formatting my Word document into something that looks professional. I didn’t know about it during the first printing of The Reluctant Captain and the difference between the two editions is night and day. Vellum costs approximately $200.00, but I think it’s some of the best money I’ve spent as a writer. There is also a free alternative at One drawback to both of the tools is that you don’t have complete control over the formatting (for example, I wanted to use the cover font for the chapter titles, but that wasn’t possible). The reedsy tool only has three choices of book styles, while Vellum has anywhere from 3-7 styles for each element of the book.

4. Create the print and e-book versions of the book – I opt to try to sell my book in as many places as possible, so I have to come up with e-book versions for Amazon, Apple, Nook, and Kobo, as well as the PDF for the print book. Here is the other reason that Vellum is worth it – I can push one button and generate all of these formats AT ONCE.

5. Create the cover for the e-book – This is relatively easy. Once I have my scanned cover art, it’s pretty straight forward to make the cover for the e-books – the only trick is making sure you have the correct size, resolution, and format for each platform.

6. Create the cover for the print books – This is where the cussing occurs. To produce hardcover and paperbacks, your cover has to fit in a specific template provided by the printer. In my case, I use Amazon for the paperback version I sell on Amazon and I use IngramSpark for a wide distribution paperback and the hardcover edition. Each platform has its own requirements for size, positioning, print resolution, and format. The only tool I have for this is GIMP, an open source tool that pretends to be like Photoshop. It is not very easy to use (selecting and copying a section of a picture seems to only work on a whim). So that’s the beginning of the cussing. Then you upload it. And it’s often rejected immediately because the resolution wasn’t correct or it’s the wrong format. So you fix it and re-submit. And it works…except you get an email in a day or two that tells you that something is too close to the edge or not close enough, and it’s back to the drawing board. To give you an idea, I have 9 copies of The Reluctant Agent hardback cover on my computer. As you can imagine, there was a whole lot of cussing going on!

7. Upload the files and information to all of the platforms, set your prices…and wait – You would think after writing one hundred thousand words for the novel, writing the sales description would be easy…and you are wrong. It is tough. On some platforms, you have a limited number of characters (not words) for your description. But eventually, you wade through it and if you’re lucky, everything is accepted in a couple of business days. If not, you’re back to any step between 3 and 6…and repeat ad nauseam.

In the end, it really is worth all of the cussing. I’m very happy with how the hardcover editions of both The Reluctant Captain and The Reluctant Agent look. They look like real books! Which reminds me…the links to buy The Reluctant Agent are over there on the right. You can also sign up for my occasional newsletter. It’s an easy way to keep updated on what I’m doing!

Until next time,

Happy Journeys!


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