Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Longer Segment from "Timeshare" / NaNoWriMo Update.

I began officially writing my fourth book (which really needs a title, doesn't it?) on November 3rd.  Last week I shared with you a finished paragraph from the sub-plot of the book, a story I'm calling "Timeshare" in my notes.  I doubt I'll end up naming each chapter of the book, but I had to name the Word file something.  Anyway, I'm thrilled to announce that I completed a working draft of "Timeshare" last Friday, which was my entire goal for National Novel Writing Month.  I can't share it all here, since it's 14,200 words (45 pages) and needs some editing and rewriting, but I wanted to give you a longer and more concrete excerpt from it - specifically from a part I feel is completely finished and will remain word-for-word when the book is released next year.

Before you read, here's what you need to know.

1) A "theriopolis" is a city on a colossus's back.  In Greek, "thirio-" means "beast" and of course "-polis" means "city."
2) This snippet takes place very shortly after the paragraph from the previous blog post.  Sean Bellamy - the main character of "Timeshare" but not of the whole novel - has developed and implemented a vacation plan so 27 residents of our wandering colossi can get away from it all on a camping trip.  The destination is the OKO South Tower in the Moscow International Business Center in mid-July through early August, because life on the theriopolis gets a little claustrophobic or mundane.
3) Due to the very selective nature of which cultures and histories have survived in such a small population, Sean is more familiar with the Hawaiians' spin on cabin fever, which they call "island fever."
4)  This story takes place 82 years after we left - or "ascended" from - the surface of the Earth.

*     *     *

Word escaped Triton’s city hall and buzz generated quickly.  In a few months, half of the theriopolises and all their posh socialites had heard of the idea and were throwing riches at Triton and Proteus for the chance to be the first vacationers since the ascension.  Amazingly, the faint-hearted gentlemen and dainty young ladies who won the bids for the trip underwent all the travel without a hitch.  Over the next several months, these travelers spent considerable time working their way from the other leviathans – including Proteus, Galatea and Naiad – to Triton, where Sean had hired an assistant to provide them with their packs.  Each pack held three weeks’ food, several gallons of water and a sleeping bag scavenged from the surface years before. 

And today was the big day – August 3rd.  Sean Bellamy waited shoulder-to-shoulder with Mayor Pulaski of Proteus to welcome the first post-ascension vacationers back from their trip.  Sean figured there was more glory waiting for him in the pickup than the drop-off, so he trusted his assistant, a young Triton resident by the name of Alan Vaughn, to get the vacationers onto Moscow’s skyscraper by himself while Sean left for Proteus well in advance.  Now, waiting at the docks for Proteus to lumber up to the Moscow International Business Center just 20 days after the tourists landed, Sean was brimming with excitement and pride in his work.  He’d had a brilliant idea that not only helped save the theriopolises from another bout of Island Fever but could incorporate a whole new branch of their lifestyle.

From the lookout tower behind them, they heard a young boy shout “Moscow dead ahead!”  The excitement grew to a fever pitch.  Musicians banged on drums that sounded throughout the late morning sky.  Children chased each other in games of Tag through the crowd.  The cigarette vendors announced they were offering free pouches of herbs to the travelers upon their return.  Mayor Pulaski laughed and patted Sean on the shoulder.My God I’m going to be rich, Sean thought.

The dock workers readied a 15-foot ballista to fire to the tower.  They’d done it a hundred times before.  Two workers cranked the handle near the seat at the back of the ballista, bringing the string back until the limb itself bowed backwards and clicked into its set position at the latch.  A third man, already seated and waiting, was handed a long, arrow-shaped grappling hook trailing nearly a quarter-mile of rope behind it.  He placed it under and between his legs, into the flight groove on top of the long barrel.  The poorly-named “string” that ran from one end of the limb to the other – and would project the hook on its path to OKO South – was more of a thick belt of rope than it was a string, but the name had always stuck.  All that remained, as they knew from experience, was to await the order.  When the hook fired and caught on the tower, they simply reeled it in on the spool and let the travelers strap onto the ropeway and climb back across.

As they neared the cluster of towers, OKO South came closer and closer.  Just as the harbormaster was ready to give the order to fire the ballista, something in the crowd changed.  The onlookers at the front, who had surrounded and cramped the dock workers eagerly, got quieter.  Their raised hands lowered and their faces fell.  Each row of people stopped jumping, stopped shouting, stopped cheering one after another.  The drummers stopped their music, stood and stared at the tower.  Sean and Mayor Pulaski were the last to realize something was wrong.  One drummer dropped his fat drumstick and it rolled noisily downhill, clanging and clattering towards the stage.  An eerie silence enveloped the crowd, but eerier still was the sight that awaited their approach atop OKO South Tower.

Birds cawed and crowed.  Why are there so many birds? Sean thought.  The mayor charged up through the crowd, pushing people aside until he reached the balcony, its low railing chipped with dozens of marks from previous grappling hook attachments.  He borrowed a pair of binoculars from a nearby gawker and glassed the rooftop.

27 bodies lay on the roof.  

*     *     *

 What'd you think?  Comment below or on the link you clicked to get here, and share with your friends!  See you next week!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Timeshare" - First Details Revealed!

I'm humbled and honored to announce that since starting this blog in late September, it's earned over 300 views.  Wow!  I hope to continue to deliver enticing content and information leading up to the release of my fourth novel sometime in late 2016.

Also, I'm sorry I didn't do this post on Writers' Wednesday (yesterday) as promised, but I got caught up in getting some writing done on the sub-plot of this project.  It seems to be going along swimmingly, reaching 10,050 words in just two days.  Before I get too excited, I should say that I don't think I can write every day this month.  The doctors tell me I'm supposed to keep my left pinky taped to my left ring finger 24 hours a day, but in order to write I've been removing the tape for three to five hours each day (on top of my usual tape removal to shower and do dishes etc).  I should probably slow down and wear the damn tape, meaning I'd have to take a couple days off at a time.

So here's why I'm having a hard time doing that.  Remember in my last post when I talked about specifying where exactly the titans (on whose backs my characters built their cities) were roaming the planet at any given  moment?  My secondary story in the book, which has the working title "Timeshare," involves the largest beast, Triton, dropping 27 people off for a summer getaway atop Moscow's OKO South Tower - one of the skyscrapers whose roof stretches above the 1,000-foot fog ceiling.  Since it takes Triton over four months to circle the globe, it's a given that these people would have to be picked up by a different colossus who traveled near the same group of skyscrapers (the Moscow International Business Center).  Using the data from the maps I posted last month, I plugged numbers and found the following information, which was crucial to writing the section of the book I'm now completing (the "Too Long; Don't Read" summary is in bold).

Triton travels 48,057 miles around the world. At 15 mph with 52 one-hour stops, it takes him 135.645833 days (135 days, 15 hours, 22 minutes). Triton circles the Earth 2.69083091 times per year. Moscow is 50.6% of the journey from LA back around, at 24,338 miles. If we ascended at 7 a.m. Pacific time on March 23rd (and call it Year 0, Day 0, hour 0), then in Year 82, Triton would pass into Moscow on Year 82, Day 114, 18 hours and 37 minutes. This is July 15th at 12:37 p.m. local Moscow time.

Proteus travels 24,206 miles around the world. At 15 mph with 23 one-hour stops, it takes him 68.1972208 days (68 days, 4 hours and 44 minutes). Proteus circles the earth 5.35212426 times per year. Moscow is 20,557 miles around from Dubai, Proteus’s point of departure. Dubai is +12 hours from Los Angeles, so if Proteus departed simultaneously with Triton, he left at 7 p.m. local Dubai time. Moscow is one hour behind Dubai. Proteus would return to Dubai at Year 82, Day 8, Hour 14, Minute 04 (March 31, 9:04 a.m. local Dubai time). He’d arrive again on Year 82, Day 76, Hour 18, Minute 48. It would then take Proteus 1,390.4666 hours (57.936108333 days or 57 days, 22 hours and 28 minutes) to reach Moscow after this. Proteus would reach Moscow to pick up the tourists on Year 82, Day 134, Hour 17, Minute 12 – August 3rd, 11:12 a.m. local Moscow time.

Therefore, the gap between Triton's drop-off and Proteus's pick-up is 19 days, 22 hours and 45 minutes.

Without giving too much away, I'll only say that this 20-day span of time changes the life of Triton resident and would-be travel agent Sean Bellamy in a huge way.  The story begins in the year 81 P.A. (Post-Ascension) and ends 18 years later, in 99 P.A..  If you have questions so far, I promise they'll be answered another time.  For now, here's a rough cut of my favorite paragraph a few pages into the story.

     Sean stopped just once while he walked to the docks.  All along Proteus’s back, there were small man-made outcroppings with balustrades on either side of the city and he made his way to one of them.  He looked out over the horizon and saw a comfortably familiar sight.  It was the same view he’d seen every day of his life:  the horizon split into halves, with the blue daylight offset by the reddish earth.  It was partly cloudy today, but the clouds were spread out enough that the sun shined brightly despite them.  Below the sky, the rust-colored red orange fog sat mostly still.  82 years prior, that fog had driven mankind from living on the surface to living on the backs of the 13 colossi that emerged along with it from the depths of the sea.  In his youth, Sean had heard hushed stories about what happened to the humans who didn’t live in a theriopolis like he did.  There were plenty of tall tales about whole tribes of people living on the dirt.  They were child warriors with a life expectancy of less than 20 years, living in villages inside skyscrapers just below the 1,000-foot fog ceiling.  His older relatives also talked about other people who lived in underground fallout shelters, and others still who had tried to develop floating sky cities.  There were as many urban legends as there were relatives, it seemed.  Since there was no way to separate the truth from the fiction, these stories were often as frustrating as they were fascinating.  And although Sean always denied believing in such fairy tales, whenever he found himself enjoying the view near a city he’d always lean forward a bit and squint, keeping an eye out along the top of the haze for feral adolescents carrying babies of their own.  He’d never admit it, but the old stories stuck in his mind.  I’m just looking because I know I won’t see any people like the ones in the stories, he thought.  It’s so stupid.  Sometimes he almost believed himself.

Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned.