Announcement: the second installment in the TIME TRAP series by my old pseudonym Sean Dalton is now live on Kindle. Am I proud? You betcha! As proud as the day the book was first published by Ace Books and appeared on a bookstore shelf.
Under the Sean Dalton name, I wrote six TIME TRAP novels altogether. This second book is a Western, set in 1887 New Mexico. It’s called SHOWDOWN. Once again, the protagonist Noel Kedran finds himself reluctantly involved in the problems of people who could affect the future. The showdown comes between Noel and his evil twin Leon, who’s as determined to destroy the future as Noel is to save it.
Twenty years ago, when I first wrote SHOWDOWN, I was heavily influenced by my love for the southern New Mexico desert near the U.S./Mexico border. I drew on the dialect and colorful expressions of my grandfather, who began working as a cowboy on the famous Ladder Ranch when he was a teenager. He grew up in the wild days of WWI, Pancho Villa raids, and Prohibition. Later, my grandfather acquired his own ranch and spent his life as a cattleman. I didn’t want to set the book in the early 20th century, however. I wanted to deal with a far more dangerous era, before NM statehood, before the Apaches were confined to reservations.
The six TIME TRAP books were written during a two-year span, with deadlines falling every four months. That’s not much time to plot, research, write a rough draft, and polish. Each volume is only 70,000 words, designed to be fast-paced and filled with adventure.
Presently, I’m rather slow getting the old backlist converted into electronic editions, but to paraphrase Mr. Spock in one of the better STAR TREK television episodes (“City on the Edge of Forever”), I’m dealing with “stone knives and bearskins.” The TIME TRAP novels were written originally on an elderly IBM computer with dual floppy disk drives and only 64K of operating memory, exactly enough to boot the machine when I switched it on. At the time, I couldn’t afford a new computer and so I worked daily with the prospect of the motherboard failing at any minute. Despite my IT consultant’s dire warnings, the motherboard held up just fine.
Now, because I have no electronic version of the manuscript, creating an e-book involves cutting the spine off a physical copy (something someone else has to do for me as I can’t bring myself to decapitate my own novel), running the loose pages through a scanner, converting the gobbleygook result into first Acrobat and then a Word document, carefully proofing the sometimes bizarre errors created by the scan, and then formatting the whole thing for uploading to a Kindle version.
Yeah, there are people I could hire to take care of all this for me. But I’m a novelist of the old school. It’s my baby. My name–in this case, my pseudonym–is on the cover, and I aim to make sure it gets all the care and attention I can give it. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect. I’m haunted by the prospect of having overlooked some word with the letter “h” converted by the scanner into the letter “b.” Or vice versa. So I pull favors, and borrow access to scanners, and pull more favors, and thus far I’ve been assisted by a wonderful group of friends willing to share their technical expertise.
My goal is to get #3 up much more quickly than SHOWDOWN, and then to proceed until all of TIME TRAP is up. After that, I’ll tackle the other Sean Dalton series, one that’s pure space opera all the way. This project has to be accomplished between new books and additional obligations, but slowly and surely it’s getting done.
One other thing … please accept my apologies for the irregular posts lately. I’m in my sixth week of coping with walking pneumonia. It’s proving to be much harder to shake off than I expected, but I’m getting there! As the misery abates, my brain fog is clearing. Probably due to breathing better.
Meanwhile, I hope all of you found something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. I had my father with me, and SHOWDOWN was finally proofed and ready to upload. What more could a writer ask for?
Other than a new book contract, perhaps? 🙂