Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | November 15, 2015

The Paperback Is Now Available!

For authors who deal with Amazon: timing is important.  If you want your book available in digital, audio and paperback—plan ahead if you’d like all three versions available at the same time.

The digital version, if formatted properly,will be available almost instantly. The process, with the paperback (through CreateSpace) takes more time. If the book is correctly formatted, the proof copy will be available in about ten days.  You must then approve the copy and, again, wait.  As they say, “…three to five business days.”

If your audiobook (through ACX) meets standards, there’s a seven-to-ten business day waiting period.

Give yourself plenty of time.

Here’s the title story:

I have some excellent news! Amazon now has the paperback version of The Shepherd Left Behind available!

Now we’re waiting for to release the audiobook version, narrated by Charles Kahlenberg.

The little fable has already garnered one five-star review!

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | November 4, 2015

The Paperback Book Cover and An Audiobook Sample

The project is quickly coming together.  Enjoy the eye and ear candy!

Here’s the paperback book cover, designed by Marion Sipe.


And this is a brief sample from the audiobook, narrated by Charles Kahlenberg.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | October 18, 2015

New Versions of The New Fable for Christmas Are on The Way

Last year, during the Christmas Season, I published a story, in serial form, on this blog. I called it A New Fable for Christmas. It was quite popular so, this year, I’m going to publish it in Audiobook, digital (Kindle, with Nook available by special order) and paperback.  I plan to have at least two internal illustrations in the paperback version.  The new title will be The Shepherd Left Behind.

When you read the Christmas story in the second chapter of Luke, the story of the shepherds says, in verses 15-18 (NIV).

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.”

Luke’s gospel is silent about whether the shepherds left anyone to guard the sheep.  They wouldn’t have left them alone and unguarded; after all they were living out in the fields just to tend them.

The story is about a nine-year-old boy, Joshua, who was left alone to watch the sheep while the others went into Bethlehem to see the Christ child.  He is not alone for long, an angel named Jude has been sent by Gabriel, to stay with him and comfort him.

Charles Kahlenberg, who narrated the audiobook version of the book, Overload will be the voice on this audiobook.  My son,  Michael Drinkard will provide internal drawings for the paperback version.  The covers for all three will be done by Marion Sipe who created the cover for my book, Warrior’s Psalm.

Check back as the season approaches (Christmas decorations are already on sale in Sam’s and other stores), for special announcements. I hope to be able to present the cover soon.

I’m looking forward to sharing all three versions with everyone.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | October 17, 2015

Another Piece about Autumn

Shakespeare, of course, said it best.


Gray Autumn


That time of year thou mayest in me behold

When yellow leaves or none, or few, do hang…

Shakespeare, Sonnet 73


When I first knew that fall had finally come,

I understood—I had lied in summer.


Gray clouds cling like blown, wet hair,

hiding mountains across the lake—

whose autumn colors

I had said

would be the season’s glory.


I’d said that my eyes,

having drunk their fill of sun and green,

thirsted for scarlet and gold

against the sunset of shortening days,


knowing the Winter Solstice

comes striding like a dark, tall wind

whose passing stirs the limbs

and trembles leaves still clinging to naked branches.



when nightfall comes,

spilling among the trunks,

filling empty spaces to top the leaves

burying fantasy colors in a cloak of black,


I hear my summer lie echoing

like a night cry

among skinny barren limbs,

knowing the blank, white of winter


will finally erase detail,

blur all specifics,


perhaps, a reaching tendril of green

touches the long fingers of a new sun.


Thomas Rowe Drinkard

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | September 23, 2015

Advice to Poets about the Beginning of Fall

I wrote this several years ago, because I’d been seeing poets/writers using images and words about Fall that they “stole” from other writers/poets.  No plagiarism, just unconscious repetition.

Happy Autumn, folks.


Autumn Caveat


“It’s mornings like this;
The stingy sun trying to hold back
Even the warmth of its reflection
Flashing cold fire in the lake.
When November leaves drop in sudden gusts,
Like a red and yellow flock of birds
Swooping at once to ground.
Or even nights:
When winds reach wet hands
To take you spinning with random paper
Down back street gutters, under straining bridges
To clogged rivers.
It’s this:
The time of year, along with spring,
When poets must take care
Not to sing the same songs
Stolen from tribal memory.”
–   Thomas R. Drinkard

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 31, 2015

A Book I’m Pre-ordering

I usually won’t pre-order a book.  In the case of The Promise in Plan B, my order is already on file with Amazon. The book won’t actually be available until September 15th.

When Plan A, our original pathway that we’ve expected to take us to the finish line fails. We cannot allow it to let us fall.  We must have a fallback position. Following is a synopsis from the publisher, Shorehouse Books.

Donna Cavanagh

3104 Shirlene Rd

Eagleville, PA 19403




Mary I. Farr Offers Inspiration and Hope with The Promise in Plan B

(St. Paul) – Life offers us plenty of opportunities. We construct our life plan—our Plan A, but life is never so simple.  It tests us with setbacks, dead ends, hellos and good-byes. To put it simply: Sometimes, we get stuck. However, The Promise in Plan B (Shorehouse Books, 2015) confronts fears about these changes and obstacles and encourages readers to develop a new life path.

“It strikes me that living Plan A falls into the category of urban legend. Rarely do we meet someone whose life has followed a blessedly predictable path to success and happiness,” notes author Mary I Farr, a retired pediatric hospital chaplain, teacher, and motivational speaker who has devoted more than 30 years to exploring the worlds of hope, healing and humor. “Yet we tend to label each stumbling block we encounter along the way as a personal flop. We (or perhaps the culture that surrounds us) often view upsets and do-overs as results of our ineptitude, a failure to properly manage goals. I’m convinced that this reaction to a disrupted life is frequently inaccurate and nearly always unhelpful.”

Farr changes that perception in The Promise in Plan B which is grounded in the reality that life tends to be a series of interruptions, and we each possess a wealth of resources to initiate, investigate, and recreate the way we travel through our shifting courses. Unlike predictable job skills, these resources emphasize resilience, courage, imagination, humor, curiosity, and more.

Farr includes personal stories and profiles of people from all walks of life who have faced challenges, despair and unforeseen obstacles but in the midst of the turmoil recognized their Plan B. The Promise in Plan B explores themes of grace and gratitude seasoned with a generous dose of wit. Each chapter includes a Consider This section which contains questions and observations designed to encourage readers to open their hearts to new ideas. Farr also added journaling pages at the end of the book for those who would rather explore their reflections solo.

Noah Vail, Farr’s well-known equine alter ego whose book Never Say Neigh has garnered numerous accolades is also present in The Promise in Plan B.

“Noah Vail has always been about determination and never giving up,” Farr explains.  “He is comforting, funny and inspirational in his own right, and a perfect addition to this book.”

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Farr completed her divinity studies in the Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, Wisconsin where was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1983. She received her Master of Arts degree from St. Catherine University in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. She is the author of five books including the critically acclaimed If I could Mend Your Heart and Peace: Intersections Small Group Series.     new mary image

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 30, 2015

Editing As You Work

Today, I managed to complete the first draft of an intense action chapter.  It’s only five pages of normal text, but I’m pleased. My dear friend and mentor, Anne Carroll George (RIP) said five good pages were enough.  Much of the action in the chapter, including details, I’d “written” in my head before I started stroking the keys.

Of course, once I typed in the first lines, I started trying to polish as I went. That’s one of the stages of self-editing for me. Then I told my editor (my Wife, Marge) that I’d written a scene she’s been anticipating. She’s wonderful with her patience about my writing. Lucky me.

As I read from the screen of my laptop, I had to stop several times to add words; delete words and correct punctuation.

I’d read, in books on self-editing, that reading  one’s work aloud forces a different perspective. Yep. It works.

Now, a slightly different take on novels read aloud.

I subscribe to .  The first audiobook was free and I pay a painless $14.95 a month to be able to download audiobooks from their library.  Since I have several books of my own on the site, I like the idea.

Marge and I have made some long drives in the past few months. Listening to a good book makes the miles slide under the wheels more quickly.

But… yes, there’s a qualifier. I found that the work of a couple of authors (no names) I’ve respected does not translate to audio. I don’t mean the work wasn’t read well, it simply wasn’t prepared for a listener. Some phrases that a reader may have simply ignored kept popping up to became hopelessly redundant and annoying.

That’s yet another reason for novelists to read their work aloud before handing to a narrator. Once the narrator has completed reading the book, the author should feel obligated to listen to every minute and edit those needless repetitions.

Yours for good reading and listening.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 29, 2015

Learning from the Masters

I learned a valuable lesson, a few years ago, from a writer who I consider one of the masters of modern fiction, James Lee Burke.

I was writing my first novel, Piety and Murder.  The tale is told from the first person point of view.  I hit a situation in the novel where the protagonist wasn’t present in an important piece of the action. His buddy had to tell the story from that scene.

What to do?

I remembered that Burke had used a simple, very effective technique to have the telling of his story transferred from the original narrator to another.

Here it is.

“This is the story he told me.”

It worked. The reader isn’t confused about the speaker.  In my book, the principal protagonist is on the phone with his buddy, the man who tells him about the scene he’s just witnessed.

This technique has a limited, but elegant, use.

Have fun, Writers!

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 22, 2015

Introducing a Major Character — in a Few Words

Just as the first line of a novel is vital as a hook to draw readers into the book, the introductory description of a major character, whether protagonist or antagonist, is vital to the book.  It should be early and succinct.

One of the best I know is from the late Robert B. Parker’s Brimstone, a western.  The principal protagonist is Virgil Cole, a gunfighter.  His sidekick is Everett Hitch, a former Civil War officer and West Point graduate. Hitch narrates most of the book and the dialogue between the two carries the story.

Everett is telling, in the first few paragraphs of the book , about entering a saloon in a new town, for the first time.

“He wasn’t special-looking. Sort of tall, wearing a black coat and a white shirt and a Colt with a white bone handle. But there was something about the way he walked and the way the gun seemed to be so natural. People looked at me sometimes, too, but always after they looked at Virgil.”

Good, huh? Parker was a master at bringing his characters to life. This short description illustrates his craft.


I’ve tried to emulate Parker (and others) in my writing.

In the novel, Overload, the principal protagonist, Frost, is introduced when his buddy Ferguson talks to him on the telephone.

They agree to meet and then…

“He was gone. I didn’t hear the click.  Frost was like that sometimes—most of the time. He wasn’t rude unless he intended insult, then it was plain.  He was a minimalist with words. Each word or phrase he offered wrapped a thought, like paper enclosing a package, good or bad. ”

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 21, 2015

Original Book and Sequel

One of the most successful book/movie series of recent history is arguably the Hunger Games trilogy.  It was originally conceived as a YA (Young Adult) book, as was/is the Harry Potter series.

I’ve published the first novella in my YA Science Fiction trilogy, Warrior’s Psalm (which, by the way is Psalm 91). It’s available as both a Kindle book and an audiobook, masterfully narrated by Shawn Hughes. I’m now working on the sequel. The same characters are, of course, in both. The second novella, though, focuses more closely on a minor character from the first.

In my experience with the novella, I’ve discovered that the piece should open with action in progress; draw the reader into the story quickly and then move—with little pause in the action—toward the climax.

Here’s the opening of the second novella, tentatively titled Beneath His Wings.  Following that is an excerpt from Warrior’s Psalm to explain who the evil woman, Tapja is, from the first book.


From Beneath His Wings


Commander Mikhel Moren, leader of the Decider’s Guard of the Order of Protectors unconsciously listens to the sound his gleaming black boots make in the deep gray carpet.
To an outside observer, there is little more than a faint tread as the officer’s soles compress the fabric and a minute hiss as the fibers spring back.  To Moren, the sound is like marching to the beat of muffled drums to stand before a firing squad. The brush of his silver-gray trousers—one leg against the other—is like the scrape of stiff brooms sweeping spent cartridges.
He has been summoned to the private office of the Senior Decider for Sector 3, Commandant Vladim.
The walls of the hallway glow a pale green today, a color that some consider soothing.  Today, for all the color’s calming properties, Moren’s pulse sounds like timpani inside his ears.
He pauses, breathes deeply and exhales as he taps on the Decider’s door.
“Enter!” the voice is like sound of the steel teeth on a hunter’s trap slamming shut.
Moren opens the door and, standing as tall as his frame will allow, strides into the office, stops three paces in front of the black steel and glass desk and renders a stiff-armed salute to the man sitting behind it.
“Sir, Commander Moren reporting as ordered.”
“So, Moren, have you come with the answers you promised? You’ve had the forty-eight hours you wanted.”
The man sitting in the massive, black leather chair is almost handsome. He has brown hair, cut in traditional military style— pale blue eyes and a square, clean-shaven jaw. His mouth, he holds in a grim, flat line, is like a gash below his nose—cut by a sharp sword. He wears a close-fitting black, high-collared tunic with silver buttons and piping. The black is appropriate. The man was the consort of the Decider’s executioner, Tapja. He is no less casually lethal than she was.
“Sir, I have examined the recordings that were made when Lady Tapja confronted the prisoner we held in a cell below. I have the infocarrier here.”
Moren removes a thin, round black rod from his jacket pocket. As he moves across the office, the light from above reflects from his bald head, revealing a thin sheen of perspiration.
“If you’ll permit, Sir, I’ll display the scene for you now.”
Vladim leans back in his chair, steeples his fingers below his chin and nods toward a blank wall, without speaking.
Moren inserts the infocarrier rod into a steel panel near the edge of the wall and touches a square pad.  A scene appears, covering the entire wall’s surface. The image appears three-dimensional, as if viewers could walk inside.  It is the inside of a  prison cell. A man sits up on a cot watching as the door from the ceiling drops. The woman, Tapja, led by Moren, descends.
Her voice echoes in the cell as she points a long, quivering index finger, topped by a crimson nail like a bloody spike, at the prisoner. She aims it like a weapon.
“You!  You’re not a common stinking drone from the foul city. I felt your mental voice. You are the one who hurt me! I am Tapja! I am a Decider and executioner. You will die a slow painful, burning death and I will be there to watch and listen to your howls. You have tonight to consider the pain that awaits, while I gather strength to attend your execution.  I will delight in your misery!”
She spins to go up the stairs, but trembles in weakness on the first step. Silently, Moren helps her ascend.
The scene fades and the wall becomes blank again as the Protector officer removes the rod from the panel. His fingers are unsure and the rod quivers as he puts it away.
“You’ve only shown me evidence that the Lady Tapja knew who the prisoner was. You haven’t justified keeping your command—or escaping execution for dereliction of duty.”
“Sir, Lady Tapja ordered me to drain the prisoner of information and then scramble his brain. I can show you the scenes in which I, with my technicians, tried to accomplish those tasks. The machine would not drain his mind, so we simply scrambled him,” Moren says.
“No. Explain why you were not with her when she went to Elation City—the stencher’s town—to, ah, supervise the prisoner’s burning.”
“Sir, the Lady was angry that we couldn’t extract information from the man. I was planning to travel with her to the city, but she ordered me to stay behind.”
Vladim stands and walks around the desk, stopping almost within arm’s reach of the officer. He is easily over two meters tall and looks down at Moren by several centimeters.
“What happened to her at the execution site?”
With difficulty, Moren fights off the instinct to back away from the Decider.


Excerpt from the first chapter of Warrior’s Psalm

The two young progagonists are observing a baffling scene in The Hive.

With no possibility they can be seen from the ground, Freya and Kalev jog through the trees and underbrush at the crest of the ridge, toward the sound as it rises in intensity.
As the two near the point of the mountain above the Hive, the words become clear.
“Plant food! Com—post! Com—post! Plant food!”
Over and over the rhythmic chant rebounds against the rock cliffs rising above the Hive like heaving waves breaking against a rocky shore in a storm.
Suddenly the chant goes silent.  Within seconds, a clamor of cheers punctuate the end of the earlier calls.
“What’s that all about?” Freya.
Though the chance of their voices being heard is virtually nonexistent, she stays in silent communication.
“Let’s crawl to the edge of the cliff and see,” Kalev.
The Hive is a dense city made up of scores of high-rise buildings forming a squared “O.”Growing plants cover the flat tops.  The open space is about a hundred yards on each side. Though the promontory on which Kalev and Freya lie is towering limestone, the Hive is only a few hundred feet below.
People are jostling in the square, shoulder-to-shoulder around a black metal box with a shining top.  They are dressed in identical gray shirts and trousers. A lane through the crowd, leads west under the buildings to a narrow exit road.  Parked near the reflecting box is a black vehicle six or eight times the size of the Hive’s Lectrics. The packed crowd avoids the paved area.
Beside the huge car, facing the box, are two people; a man and a woman, dressed in black robes that reach their shoes. Hoods on the robes are thrown back. They stand, spines straight and chins lifted; as unlike The Hive masses as timberwolves among animal shelter dogs.  An armed silver-uniformed Protector stands beside each of them. These two are Deciders.
The woman, tall, narrow faced, with dark hair, wide mouth and imperious black eyes raises her right hand.  All crowd noise stops. In the silence, her amplified voice rebounds from the cliffs.
“Let any who would dissent remember!”
The male, tall, brown-haired and square-jawed stands beside her with arms crossed. A thin smile curves his lips. He raises a signaling hand.
The crowd, as one hoarse voice, responds.
“Yes, remember!” then goes silent.
The two Deciders turn toward the car. Protectors hold two of the eight doors open. The male steps through one door and disappears.  Just as she is about to enter the vehicle, the woman pauses.
She turns toward the mountain where Freya and Kalev lie. She lifts her chin and shifts her gaze like a questing predator. After several still, ominous seconds, she enters the car and a Protector closes the door.



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