Tag Archives: Updates

The Perceval Series — an Update

It’s been nine (9!!) years since I published Perceval’s Secret, the first novel in the Perceval series. Have you had a chance to read it? (smile) Before its publication, I had outlined the series for five novels, and the arc of Evan Quinn’s story over those five novels. The work on the remaining four novels has continued over the last nine years, even as I dealt with serious health issues (that often stopped the writing) and working fulltime at an office job. Nothing unique there. Most writers write when they can while earning a living at other things, raising a family, or, yes, dealing with serious health issues. I thought it about time to write a status update on the series as well as what I plan for the next year or so.


I recently typed “The End” on the last page of the first draft of Perceval’s Game, the fourth novel in the series. This is a major accomplishment considering I wrote it only on weekends since July 2020. A year ago, I needed major surgery and did not write anything during my recovery, but I thought a lot about the series, the fourth novel in it, and amazed myself over and over thinking about my creative commitment to this project. But I don’t particularly want Evan Quinn showing up in my dreams and scaring me as he did years ago when I almost made him an auto mechanic! He is quite insistent about telling his story. As I was finishing the last chapter of the 4th novel, ideas for the 5th novel kept popping into my mind, including the first chapter. So, I need to do some “cleaning up” on PG and prep notes for the rewrite before doing some prep work for the 5th novel that will include notes, character list, concert programs for Evan, and making certain that I write down everything in my head before putting it away. The title of the 5th novel will be Perceval’s Choice. The novel’s locations will be Paris, France, and Vienna, Austria.


The second novel in the series, Perceval’s Shadow, has been fermenting for at least five years. I cannot remember when I first put it in its oak barrel. My plan for at least the next year is to work on the third draft (I hope the last), have Beta readers read it, and then contract with a professional editor to go through it. I’m looking forward to spending time again with the characters in this novel, especially Pierre Levade. It would be especially lovely if it’d be ready for publication by March 2024. I plan to publish this novel as both an ebook and a paperback. And, while I’m at it, I’ll probably publish the paperback version of Perceval’s Secret as well. Launching the second novel will be a good time to launch the paperback of the first novel. What about audiobook versions? I’m still thinking about it.


I finished the first draft of the third novel in the series, Perceval in Love, set in Helsinki, Finland, Vienna Austria, and St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2020. I remember at the time I was quite surprised that it did not end the way I’d been thinking of it ending from the moment I began it. But Evan Quinn had other ideas. That’s fine. It’s his story. It would make sense to write the second draft of this novel after publishing the second novel. I’ve put that in my barrel of possibilities to ferment. I could also write the first draft of the 5th novel and finish the series (woo-hoo!). For the next year, it will remain fermenting in its barrel until ripe for work.


Essays: I continue to write essays for various markets, although as I’ve pushed harder on the fiction, the nonfiction side of my writing life has slowed. I have no plans to stop writing essays.

Music Memoir: This nonfiction book, as I have been sketching it, will be a series of personal essays chronicling how music has affected my life. I’ve been writing notes on various essays for the last two years as well as looking at the structure. I’ll probably start writing when the essays are ready to burst out of me. In the meantime I’ve been thinking about resonant vibrations, “hearing” a composer’s musical voice for the first time, and how much I enjoy the impish side of Beethoven.


Oh, my! Was I ever surprised. A co-worker this past week made a comment to me about reviews for Perceval’s Secret at Amazon, but it didn’t register right away. When I finally checked Perceval’s Secret at Amazon, I was surprised to find three new reviews. Three! That may seem like nothing to most people, but these reviews came all on their own, without marketing on my part. And they’re good reviews.

I love hearing from readers. It would make me so happy to hear from more readers. I appreciate it takes time and thought to write a review as much as I appreciate hearing from readers.

So, if you’ve recently read Perceval’s Secret, please let me know by writing a review at Amazon and/or GoodReads.

Thank you, Readers!

Mind vs. Body

In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic arrived in my state, my city, and my life. Not having had prior experience with pandemics, I really had no idea what would happen, like the rest of the world. I knew, however, that I was terrified of contracting the virus, getting extremely sick, and dying. Looking back now, I know that I was fortunate in the boss I had at my job, and in understanding enough about my health status and viruses to take the steps I needed to take to protect myself. As an employee, I was grateful to receive paid leave. As a writer, after the initial week of confusion about what just happened, I knew exactly what to do to pass the time until I’d be allowed back in the office. I wrote and wrote and wrote, completing the first draft of a novel and beginning the first draft of another novel. What I wrote had nothing to do with the pandemic or life in lockdown, although I realized that I would need to somehow mention it in my novels set in the near future.

During the last 26 months, I’ve fared well. The coronavirus left me alone (or was terrified to come near me because of my strict adherence to the precautions) although it touched people I know. My introversion helped me cope with being cut off from people in general, friends and family during lockdowns. I’ve gotten vaccinated and then boosted, as recommended for a member of the high risk category. It is tempting to think that someday the virus will be eradicated, but I personally don’t believe that will happen in my lifetime. There’s too much vaccination reluctance in America and other parts of the world. The virus will continue to mutate in order to survive. I could still contract the coronavirus, but I’m not nearly as terrified as I was two years ago for two reasons: 1) effective vaccines, and 2) effective treatments.

I may have been successful in protecting myself against the coronavirus and dealing with the social effects of the pandemic, but the psychological effects will linger. For example, before the pandemic, I would not have felt that comfortable wearing a face mask of any design. Now, I feel uncomfortable without a face mask, or being among people who aren’t wearing face masks. Before the pandemic, I spent little time thinking about the distance between me and other people in situations. Now, I continue to be careful to social distance whenever possible, and I notice when others are not being careful. The pandemic has made me paranoid. Is it a healthy paranoia? Or is it the beginning of a new psychological syndrome related to the pandemic?

Other health issues have continued to plague humans as well. People are still having heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, broken bones, cancer of all types, influenza, and more. During the last 26 months, my pulmonologist and I have been watching a nodule in my right lung first grow for a while and then stop. I’ve had two colonoscopy procedures to dilate a bowel stricture that was threatening to cause a serious blockage. Then the last dilation procedure failed a month or so afterward and I took the difficult decision to have major surgery to remove the stricture. I stopped writing, any kind of writing.

When the body is in physical distress, the mind focuses on survival. It’s difficult to wrench the mind away to concentrate on being creative or imaginative. I’ve learned that it’s far more productive and healing to use my imagination to visualize successful healing and recovery. Creative endeavors must wait. Which is not to say that I haven’t thought about the novel I’m working on — the fourth Perceval novel — and other writing projects. Those thoughts have flitted in and out of my mind like butterflies, never alighting on anything. Accompanying those thoughts is an image of Ludwig van Beethoven in bed during his final weeks, still composing or trying to, even though his body was starting to shut down. Bela Bartok composed his brilliant Concerto for Orchestra during his final year of fighting leukemia. I wish I could discipline my imagination to work for me even when I’m sick.

Ideas abound. A sure sign that my body is feeling much better. I’m not yet ready to open up the chapter I was working on before the surgery, so I’m writing here, and I’m working slowly on short essays to stretch my writing muscles. The coronavirus didn’t get me. Instead, I’ve endured a successful major surgery, hospitalization, and recovery. Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean it’s not important to take care of the body’s other needs, other possible illnesses.

Take care of yourself in support of your creative imagination.

Writing Updates

This year has continued to be a particularly challenging one for the United States, and with the pandemic still raging, for the world. I just read this week of two new variants of the SARS-CoV2, and one is even more contagious than the Delta variant. While I received my J&J vaccination last March, I am thinking about getting either a Pfizer booster or the Pfizer full vaccination in the next few weeks. As I wrote before, the coronavirus is here to stay and will mutate at will. It’s up to us to take measures to protect ourselves from it now and in the future.

In July, I left my day job at the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners and began a new job at the Minneapolis Community & Technical College. I’ve cut my commute down to 20 minutes each way but that means less time for reading on the commute. I only recently emerged from the initial job training and returned to a hybrid of work in the office and teleworking, then hunkering down at home and staying away from people (as my pulmonologist insisted that I do). Over the summer I also had to replace my laptop, printer, and modem. At least my health has remained fairly stable this year and my writing has gone well.


I continue to write on weekends, working on the fourth novel in the series, Perceval’s Game. I’m over halfway through but finding it somewhat difficult to get back into my writing mind on Saturdays. I continue to write notes for the last novel in the series, and any thoughts I have about the previous three novels. One character in the fourth novel is named after a friend who chose to have a character named after him in a fundraiser I ran a couple years ago. I recently updated him on the character’s development.

I had planned to launch at least two marketing campaigns, one in the first quarter and one in the third quarter, this year for Perceval’s Secret but did not. Posting the Aanora story did bring more sales for the novel, however, although sales remain disappointing.

The second novel in the series, Perceval’s Shadow, remains on the shelf for the moment, fermenting. I will eventually find a professional editor that I hope will stay with me for the entire series, but to work on the second novel first. I’m still thinking about gathering some beta readers and have talked with a couple people about doing it. Depending on what I learn from the editor and/or the beta readers will determine how I proceed with that novel. I don’t think it’s ready yet for publication, but just how much more work it needs is the big question. And Perceval in Love continues to ferment.


This sci fi novella remains at the Fan Fiction website until next August. I did a bit of a push for it before it was scheduled to be taken down this past August. Then I decided to do some editing and cleaning up, and that actually bought me another year on the site. Yay! If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here. I had a blast writing it!


For most of this year, my essay writing (as well as blog writing) waited in the wings for attention. I finally worked on an essay I began last year and I think it’s about ready to send to the editor. I have been working sporadically on a collection of essays about classical music and how it’s affected my life. The working title is Music and Me. I’ve been writing down ideas as they come to me but haven’t yet begun writing the essays. I’ve decided that I’m committed to this project, so one way or another, I will finish it. Writing essays makes a nice break from fiction.


Reading as much as possible and as widely as possible is an essential part of a writer’s life. I read science fiction, espionage thrillers, mysteries, and the occasional nonfiction. Since the America in the Perceval novels is an autocratic dictatorship, I was most interested to read Masha Gessen’s Surviving Autocracy, an examination of Trumpism, the damage it’s done to America, and what needs to be done to repair the country and society. Other standouts this year: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre, Still Life by Louise Penny, and Forever Young: a Memoir by Hayley Mills.


I’ve been terrible this year about writing at this blog. A part of me feels guilty about that, but I need to focus on the fiction in my limited writing time. I think a lot about this blog, and write down ideas for posts. So who knows? I may be able to squeeze in more posts as time goes on…..

End of Year Updates

The year 2020 will be remembered as a particularly difficult one for the United States, and with the pandemic still raging, for the world. Right now it feels like the year has lasted 12 years rather than 12 months. My emotions have ranged from normal, everyday stuff to sheer terror in March when the coronavirus appeared in my state and city. There’s been a lot of frustration as well. And now there’s hope with two vaccines approved for emergency use and vaccinations already underway. I know that we still have several months if not another year of being diligent about precautions and careful, until we know just how long the vaccine will protect us. But for now, my life remains a hybrid of work in the office and teleworking, then hunkering down at home and staying away from people (as my pulmonologist insisted that I do).

My writing this year has gone well, although I haven’t written as many posts at this blog as I had hoped to write. My focus has been on the Perceval series. Being on paid COVID leave from mid-March to mid-July provided me with the opportunity for uninterrupted time to write and I took advantage of it. I finished the first draft of the third novel, Perceval in Love, in June, then spent time closing out my work on that novel and preparing for work on the next novel in the series, Perceval’s Game. It was wonderful to have the time to think, to work through world-building tasks such as what America would be like in 2050, and to daydream scenes. I had not planned on finishing the third novel this year, so that has been a particularly pleasurable accomplishment. And I began the fourth novel. When I returned to my office work, I reverted back to writing on the weekends. To date, I have finished six chapters and begun the seventh.

I also worked on marketing Perceval’s Secret and garnered more reviews at Amazon as a result. Sales still remain disappointing, but at least it is selling. In 2021 I will probably launch at least two marketing campaigns, one in the first quarter and one in the third quarter.

It may also be time to secure the services of a professional editor for the second novel in the series, Perceval’s Shadow. It has been fermenting all year. I’ve also been thinking about gathering some beta readers as well. Depending on what I learn from the editor and/or the beta readers will determine how I proceed with that novel. I don’t think it’s ready yet for publication, but just how much more work it needs is the question.

Of course, I “published” the Aanora novella at the Fan Fiction website. I have heard nothing but positive responses to it which makes me happy. I enjoyed writing it, and I hope readers enjoy reading it. If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here.

My essay writing took a back seat to my fiction work this year, as well as my blog writing. I began a couple essays that I can finish in 2021. I didn’t even read as many books as I normally read during a year, although part of the reason was choosing long books instead of short ones. I’m still reading Thayer’s Life of Beethoven and learning a great deal about the man and his life, and I continue to be astonished by the power of his music.