The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

Devil’s Gambit in audiobook format is now available at these direct links:


Nook Audiobooks




And if you’re a library subscriber, it’s available at:

Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Follet, 3M/Bibliotheca, Mackin, Odilo and 3Leaf Group.

Please check it out. I’m sure you’ll find it worth a listen.

The book should be up on Audible,  Amazon and iBooks by next week. I’ll post the links once I’ve got them.


It’s been a long time coming but my first thriller Devil’s Gambit makes it’s way to audiobook next week. As soon as I have the links to the distribution, I will be posting them up but staking out the book’s Amazon page would probably not be a bad idea.

Findaway Voices have done as cracking job with the book production and distribution and I can’t say enough good things about what the narrator Edward James Beesley has brought to the reading and in fact the entire soundscape of the book.

In the meantime, to whet your whistle, here’s a sample of the book for you to check out.

For the next big motorcycle trip I’ll be heading back to my original province of BC. Where I and some others will be having a go at the Vancouver Island Grand Loop.  A roughly 50/50 split of dirt road and paved highway around Vancouver Island.

My Panniers took a real beating on my trip out to Moab, UT this past summer and to be honest, the extra weight was an issue on certain part I tackled. Enough so that on the Schaefer Trail / Potash road day, I rode with just the top box and was glad I did.

I made the decision to go with a soft bag system around the beginning of the year and then put a month or so of study and reading reviews before settling on the Dryspec D78 Modular Packing System. Which consists of one 38L Dry Bag and two 20L Dry Bags which all mount to the tail of the bike.

It’ll mean some reconfiguration of my current load out but nothing too serious. The Strom gets loaded on a truck headed for BC on the 23rd.


The first step was removing my top box and its mounting plate. I also took the time to mount the new Rotopax 1 Gal. Fuel Cells on the backing plates I fabbed up last week. This is a much narrower configuration than with the hard cases. You can see my old tall screen against the wall.


Then I mounted the 38L Bag. I tried a cross mounted position to start but wasn’t that happy with it and opted to go with the lengthwise mounting option. The strap based mounting system is easy to work with once you get your head around it and is easy to remove. Something that will be nice once I’m on the trip proper.


And this is the final configuration. I’ve mounted the side bags high because I’ll be strapping my 10L Dry Bags that I’ve had for years to the frame between the Fuel Cell and the 20L bags or I may strap them across the back of my passenger seat because they do make a nice back rest. My other 50L Dry bag which holds my Tent, Camera Tripod and Sleeping bag, I’ll be strapping across the top of the 38L bag. At least that’s the plan we’ll see how it works out as I dial this new configuration in.

This trip is going to be a lot different than my excursion through Colorado and Utah. Weather is going to play a major factor. Where last year was dry, this trip could well be extremely wet. Which creates its own issues on some of the roads we’ll be riding. Considering the mix of off road skills in our group, things could be challenging.

That of course, is half the fun.


Photobombed by a friend riding through my shot. Lucky for me I was able to adjust focus enough to get him.

Yesterday was an open house at Twisted Throttle out in New Dundee. I’ve gone for the last few years because our club’s president has close ties to the ownership out there and we always held one club meeting at this event. As these guys cater to the Adventure Bike community it was good for them and us and as . everybody knows, it’s hard for anybody on a bike to go to a place that sells things for bikes to not leave with something. I got off lightly yesterday as I only picked up a pair of earplugs ($41.95 CDN) I was looking at. We won’t talk about the luggage system or the new Rotopax fuel cells I bought online from these guys the month prior ($699.00 CDN).

It’s a fun event and this year they had test rides for BMW and Honda at the event. I’ll admit Honda’s CBX 500 is appealing to me especially with the Rally Adventure package as it’s moving towards my ideal bike size for adventure touring but I’d prefer it in a V-Twin over an inline twin but I realize that’s splitting hairs. Anyway, I didn’t opt for any of the test rides for a couple of reasons. One, I’m not ready to buy a new bike yet and two, I’m still not a fan of group rides with guys I don’t know and especially not keen on rides with guys I don’t know on bikes they’ve never ridden before. Just my personal biases. None of the rides had any issues that day and as you see in the pics, we’re all mostly old farts anyway.

Still, any day you can stand around and bullshit about bikes with other motorcycle freaks is a good day and I decided on using my Lensbaby Twist 60 to capture some of it for a few reasons.

  1. I’ve always loved how rich the colour capture is of Lensbaby optics and the twist 60 is no different. Images really pop.
  2. This lens has great bokeh and a large central focus.
  3. Its 60mm focal length gives me almost 100mm of equivalent focal length on my 7Dmk2 so I can shoot the more personal shots and be far enough back from my subjects to keep things natural.
  4. It’s a tricky lens to use as it’s manual and I like tricky.

The comparison shot: Taken with my Sigma 17-70mm at 17mm / F2.8 Not a bad shot but it’s pretty standard and far from exciting. Now I’ll admit, I’m shooting wide so there’s not too much drama to be had in the shot.


Now here’s a similar shot with the Twist 60. To me it feels a bit warmer and the edge focus adds a bit of energy into what is essentially a static shot.


Same goes for this shot too. The one thing you’ll find with the Twist 60 is you’ll have to play around with your shutter speed and ISO to get the right exposure. I find it tends to shoot one to one and a half stops under. For the record, the bike I’m interested in is the front left one.


Get close, then get closer…


Here’s where that lovely background swirl really starts to focus your eye to the image.


This is the sort of thing that to me shows what riding bikes is all about. At least from a community standpoint. We all have different happy places.


My friend Tim wanted a shot of him with the Africa Twin he was going to ride a little later.


A 73 Laverda (with a 74 fairing) and its proud owner. Another reason I love going to these things as you never know what bikes are going to turn up.



What I like about this Triumph is the addition of anachronistic pieces to what is essentially a modern motorcycle.




And here’s my Strom minus the panniers and leaned out with a new windshield. The four holes in the plates on the box mounts will be taking the new mounting spots for the smaller 1 Gallon Rotopax fuel cells I plan to bring on the upcoming trip to Vancouver Island in June. The ride to the event let me see how the bike felt with the new rubber and windshield and fine tune a few small things.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I really can’t say enough good things about the Twist 60 as a lens. Even its price point is pretty good.

Now a bit about the books (you didn’t think I wouldn’t bring them up did you?). Devils Gambit, the audio book has finished primary recording and is currently under review. It should be available on all audio book sales platforms in about a month. I’m very excited to see how it sells as the narrator and I are bringing something a little different to the table in the listening experience as far as audiobooks go. I’ll be posting up a few samples in the coming weeks.

Devil’s Ante, the sequel to Devil’s Gambit is in the final edit stage prior to going out to my Beta readers today. If you’d like to be on my Beta reader list email me or message me on this blog and I’ll add you to the list. Please include the format you’d like to receive the book in.

The Big Backyard which will be my follow up motorcycle travel book to Two Wheeled Maniac  will be available early Fall. As I’m now working in Vellum for my ebook layout and publishing needs, it’ll have a lot more photography included than the first book and will focus on the big and small trips I’ve taken since the last book and a few of the things life throws at you along the way.

As always, you can check out my books at my Author page


As I’ve said before, I’ve always loved the world represented in miniature. As much as I love taking these pictures at this event, I’d love it even more if I could take these types of shots under ever tighter controlled circumstance where I could light them properly and shoot from a tripod. Still the artistry, in the weathering and the attention to detail of each of these pieces is astounding and I’m so very glad to see that scale modelling continues on to preserve and present history because much like when I write a book, just as much research goes into each one of these scenes or models.



A 144 scale model of the Aerocar built in Malton


I’m guessing this is the bigger version that never went beyond the drawing stage.



A Sterling III, the aircraft my Grandfather was shot down in. This was in the young modellers category. A very nice job of what I’m told is not a great kit.



I love the work that has gone into this figures face. Tanks were a hellish bit of kit to be inside and were often disabled by shellfire or mechanical failure. Inside temps could rise above 40C and they often stank of exhaust and fuel. All of that comes across from this figure’s expression.


I thought the work on this sub diorama was exquisite.



A great figurine ruined by the shortcomings of my 7D Mk 2s focusing issues. 



I love the scarf.

Sorry for the delay in posting this. I’m trying to keep up on the blog but with so many irons in the fire right now, it’s tough. Devil’s Gambit the audiobook is almost done and we’re getting ready to start the production process on the audiobook version of Reliance. Devil’s Ante is back from my editor and I’ve got a bit of work to do there before it can go out to my beta readers. We’re close so very close.

My Grandfather (far right) In front of one of the aircraft he serviced. This particular Lancaster has just flown it’s 100th mission.

Tomorrow is 100th commemoration of the battle at Vimy Ridge, considered to be the battle that moved Canada from the status of a dominion to a full fledged country in the eyes of the British Empire. Right now I’m reading Tim Cook’s book, “At the Sharp End,” a history of Canada’s involvement in the first world War from 1914 to 1916. It is a great book and one I wish had been around when we were studying Canada’s involvement in the first world War when I was in school. The book has many first-person accounts of life in the trenches. The unfortunate thing for many of the people’s recollections are being used is they are posthumous from that period. I don’t think that many of us can even conceptualize the wholesale slaughter of the first world War. Slaughter that was confined for the most part to a narrow but wide ribbon about 20 miles deep and hundreds of miles long. I’ll be honest, I can only read the accounts in short bursts.

My wife remarked this morning after watching a historical drama about a very small story but a very interesting person that there are millions of stores like that out there remain untold, unseen, known only to a few wider through word-of-mouth or access to some small text are told. I’m currently writing a screenplay set in the latter days all of the second world war about just such a story. The kind of true story I had no idea existed until it was told to me. It was a kind of story that when you hear it you know it needs to be told in a bigger arena. The kind of story that when it’s presented to you, you know this is something you have to seize and run with. I wish I could tell you more but the rough draft is almost done and I’ve got a fair bit of rewriting to do before I can present it to a producer. And then there’s another part of you but wonders why take the time to create new stories when are so many other great ready stories to be told and the answers of course life rights. And the fact that period pieces tend to scare Hollywood executives.

Well that plus the fact that I’d do enjoy creating brand-new stories from nothing. It used to amuse me greatly when I’d be hired to write a screenplay or I optioned a spec. In some ways it felt like a bit of a con. Somebody was paying me a decent amount of cash for something that I’d literally thought up out of thin air. Strangely enough I don’t feel the same way about my books. Probably because it’s my money I’m spending to get the damn things produced. Money I spend gladly though. You don’t want to put out an inferior product, especially when the platforms are out there for you to succeed in that respect.

So here’s an update on the current works as a stand: Devil’s Ante is about halfway through its edit and should be back in my hands by the third week of this month. Reliance, starts its audiobook journey in two weeks. Devil’s Gambit is in the last quarter of the creation of the audio files. My narrator Edward James Beesley is fantastic and the added audio production he has brought to the project only makes the book better. I’m looking forward to working with him on the sequel. And last night I revisited Augmented and did some work on that manuscript. I’m also preparing myself and my motorcycle for the trip out West to do the Vancouver Island loop. This trip will become the backend of my next motorcycle travel book currently titled, “The big backyard-more tales from a two-wheeled maniac.”

Heritagecon was last weekend and as has been the case with everything for me this year, I’m a bit behind posting stuff up. The model builders convention is held at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton and has grown significantly over the years. Enough to the point that people were commenting on it this year.

The con is broken down into a large vendor section and the model competition itself. The competition is all ages broken down into categories of type and age.  More than a few of these modellers have moved past the hobby stage into art in miniature. I must admit, I’d love to be able to photograph some of these works in a more controlled environment than the chaotic space between the tables. So if any of the guys who were displaying their work at the show see this and would like to do that, drop me a line.


I just so happened that the first table I stopped at was the SciFi and Fantasy display. I thought this airship from the Anime, “Last Exile,” was really well done.

I’ve always enjoyed the Science Fiction based models and wish there were more of them around when I was making models. Of course, I could have learned how to scratch build but I’ve never really had that level of patience.

The Space 1999 Attack Eagle, was a stunning build also.


As was this Spinner from Blade Runner. LED lights have also done lots to bring a level of reality to any build.


I’ll admit, I had a hard time finding a lens I was happy to shoot with. I switched between my work horse 17-70mm, my 10-20mm and even my 40mm. Light was an issue and I ended up shooting fairly high ISO which with Cannon’s noise suppression isn’t that big a deal and I’ll admit, I’m not that fussed about noise in my images these days as I like a bit of tooth.

0P8A87680P8A88160P8A8820 And while the above looks like it’s out of a Steam Punk extravaganza is actually a design by Clement Ader called L’Eole and is steam powered. He managed to get it eight inches off the ground for 165 feet but couldn’t sustain flight as he had little if any control over the craft.


Lastly we have the rocket ship from, “When Worlds Collide.”

More from the show to come.

Now to update the writing side of things.

Devil’s Gambit continues to show steady sales in the UK store, which is a nice surprise after being in print for over two years now. The sequel Devil’s Ante is sitting with my editor and he’s working diligently to make it the best it can be. I’ll be sending it to my Beta readers in the next month and a half or so.

Devil’s Gambit – The Audio book is almost all in the can and we hope to have the audio side of things locked up in the next few weeks. Apparently when you write a book over 120,000 words long, it’s takes some time to record it. Edward James Beesley, the man, the voice, the master, has done a bang up job on my book. So good, I’ve already booked him for the sequel Devil’s Ante. Now that I have a company in the US to do my audio work. I’ll be pushing hard into that arena with everything I have. While, self publishing your own audiobook isn’t exactly cheap, I think it’s money well spent in the long run and it gives you access to a whole new series of readers.

You can check out my books here.


I know I’ve been remiss at posting as of late but with good reason. I’ve been finishing up the rough draft of Devil’s Ante. Originally it was slated to go to the Editor on April 20th. “Plenty of time,” I thought. Then two weeks ago, my editor contacted me and let me know he’d had a project drop out and a slot had opened up in his schedule in March. March 20th, which if you look at a calendar is this Monday.

I’m not a fast writer at the best of times but I was so close to the end I figured I could lose the four extra weeks. Heh.

So today and tomorrow, I’m finishing up the final big fight scene and the epilogue. Monday morning the MS heads to the UK for a month. After that, it goes to my beta readers. If you’d like to be on my Beta list. please email me at

Have a great weekend.

Steve Abbott


I thought I’d give you an update on the progress of Devil’s Gambit, the audiobook.

As previously stated, I’m doing this through and they’ve been great to deal with. So much so, I’ll be creating an audiobook of Reliance next and will most likely be doing Devil’s Ante in the next few months as well.

We’re about halfway through the book right now and I’m very happy with the chapters to date. My reader has a great voice and delivers the story very well. I’d love to be sharing some of the samples with you but of course can’t just yet. Once the finished product is in my hot little hands (so to speak) I will be doling out some samples for you to check out.

It’s not a totally painless task as you, the author do have to go through your manuscript word by word as it’s read to confirm the accuracy of the audio product. I tend to do this once a week because it’s easier for me to get into my editor headspace to do this. As I’m doing a bunch of chapters at a time, this can take a couple of hours. This is what you get when you write a 110,000 word book.

I do like that Findaway handles the initial set up and then leaves you and the voice artist to get on with it for the middle bit. They’ll be stepping back in at the end to handle the distribution side of things and unlike my ebook and Createspace versions of my work, I will be going wide with the audiobook.

I hope to have the audiobook version out by the end of Spring. More on a fixed date as things shake out.


Right now Devil’s Gambit is back in the top 100 in a couple of related categories in on Amazon UK.


The recent boost is the direct result of a positive review the book got the first week of February. It only goes to show how much reviews matter to the independent author. So to that individual, I thank them for their words and for taking the time to write something. It really helps.

The UK was a bit slow to start compared to the US site as far as sales but for the last year, it has been my strongest selling market. This sales boost is really welcome right now as it comes very close to my finishing the sequel to Devil’s Gambit, Devil’s Ante and the release of Devil’s Gambit in Audiobook format.


I apologize for the time it’s taken to get a sequel out and I hope in the end, it will have been worth it for those of you who have been waiting. I will try harder to increase my output.

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