Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Excerpt from the Book!

Welcome back, my lovely readers.  Looks like you fine folks have honored me with over 100 views in the last week, and all I can say is - Holy shit!  Thank you!  Part of that is likely due to my appearance last week on the podcast The George and Tony Entertainment Show, which can be downloaded right here.  All in all we spoke for over an hour and George ran me through a hell of a set of questions, Inside the Actors Studio-style, starting with my background and leading up through all three of my releases and this next book (which is still untitled).

But enough about me!  You're here for science fiction, and I will not disappoint.  This week in production was all about Sao - the mysterious and largely unknown prison-colony-turned-lawless-society colossus.  I added about 3,500 words detailing its 99-year descent into horror and if I may toot my own horn, I really believe in how its history all came together.  I think it's damn believable.  However, it's pretty crazy stuff and chock full of exciting things I don't want to reveal, so I don't have an excerpt from that chapter...

I do, however, have a few hundred words for you from earlier on in the book.  It's pretty self-explanatory; the only setup it needs is that the male lead, Detective Leon Adler, is waiting at Doc Frazier's outpatient clinic for the doctor's apprentice, named after contest winner Breanne Dibble.  Enjoy!

Leon was still at least an hour early for Breanne’s autopsy results but he couldn’t bring himself to wait any longer.  He sat in a chair in the waiting room and impatiently, but quietly, tapped both his feet on the floor.  He took off his hat and set it on a side table next to him.  The crisp breeze of the air conditioning soothed his discomfort and he found himself swimming in memories of his childhood. 
As a boy, he ran outside and played with the other kids until nearly suffering from heat exhaustion.  He returned home, nearly collapsing onto the sofa next to his mother while his father prepared dinner. 
“Mama, why’s it so hot in here?” 
“Because it’s hot outside, sweetie.” 
“Oh.  But why can’t it be cold like at Doctor Frazier’s?”  Leon continued catching his breath, the sweat cooling his forehead. 
“Well sweetie, a long time ago before you were born, there used to be a way to catch the sunlight and use it to power machines that played music and turned lights on inside the house and –“ 
“-and kept the air cold?” 
“Yes, baby, some machines kept the air cold when it was hot outside.  Then, one night when I was still growing in Grandma’s tummy, some bad men had come to Triton and many of the other giants that people live on, and they waited until everyone was asleep and they broke all the solar panels that –“ 
“What’s a solar panel?” 
“It looked like a flat board or door and it was the device that caught the sun’s energy and made all the machines work.  So now the air won’t be cold when we want it to.” 
“They should not have done that; it was mean.” 
Leon’s mother stroked his hair and blew gently onto his face, the redness in his cheeks fading.  “Yes it was, honey.” 
“So they missed the sun catcher at Doctor Frazier’s?” 
“Well, no; he got a new one just like the doctor’s offices in the other towns.” 
Leon’s mother chose her words carefully.  He was too young to understand reduced prison sentences and fishing and Red Lung, regardless of what rumors or off-handed comments he’d heard from his friends or their parents, respectively. 
“There was just one time when you were a tiny baby, when someone was able to get some more solar panels from down on the ground.  They had to try a lot of times but they found several boxes of them.” 
“Will they find more so we can make the air cold again?” 
“I don’t think so, Leon.  Now why don’t you get washed up for dinner?  The water will feel nice and help you cool down – you’re old enough to fetch it from outside now.”
“But Mommy, why did the bad men break all the sun catchers?” 
His mother and father exchanged glances.  His mother took a deep breath and began speaking but Leon’s father interrupted her. 
“Because they were crazy people.” 
“Why were they crazy, daddy?” 
“They’re crazy because they’re from Sao, and everyone from Sao is crazy.” 
His father paused.  “Your mother told you to wash up.  Go do it.” 
The sound of a door opening jolted Leon back to the present.  Eventually Breanne exited the adjacent check-up room, preceded by a teenage patient nursing what looked like a sprained wrist. 
“You rest that hand, Billy, and you’ll be off the bench in no time.” 
The boy thanked her and left.  She gestured towards the door he’d just closed.  “Street hockey.  Come on back, Detective.  I’ve undressed her and put her into cold storage; let me brief you on her clothing before we fully perform the external examination.”

What do you think?  Share on social media and let's keep #WanderingCityBlues going!

Total word count:  38,510.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Flying West.

I'd already figured out where I wanted Psamanthe to land as she circled the globe on an endless flight.  I knew the distance between her perches and why she chose them - I even knew how fast she'd be flying.  What I didn't know was how long I wanted her to stay at each location and how long it would take her to circumnavigate the globe.

So I decided on four days, which is just enough time to clean and cure fish - more on that another day.  After much calculation and effort, I've determined that Psamanthe's complete global journey will take her 57 days, 21 hours, 25 minutes and 42.85 seconds.  Why so exact?  Because the murder mystery my detective is pursuing necessitates him traveling via Psamanthe to a location I can't reveal at the moment.  In order to figure out if that's feasible (and when), I needed to know down to the hour when Triton and Psamanthe would cross paths in Year 99 in the late summer.  Psamanthe travels east-to-west and Triton travels west-to-east, but they have very different routes.  As it turns out, Detective Leon Adler will disembark Triton at Hermitage Towers, Paris, on August 14th in the late evening.  He'll spend just three days atop the towers before Psamanthe perches on them on August 17th around 11pm local time.

Yes, I actually mapped all this out.  Yes, the book will be better for it.  Yes, I will find a reader who cares about that.

This week I added 2,000 words to the book on top of figuring out Psamanthe's migration patterns.  I wrote a couple scenes involving the follow-up to two character deaths and seguing into a piece I've already written.  So now instead of having one section of the book hanging out like an orbiting satellite of some kind, it's been reeled in and what I have written can be read all in a row.  Whew.  Interestingly, I feel I'm nearing the halfway mark in the book.  I've got the rest of it planned out in my head pretty thoroughly, so all that's left is to get it down on paper.  I'm tremendously excited to go into detail about the immigration process on and off a colossus, and even though I have a really exciting story about an immigration officer I think I'll save it for another book.  Maybe a sequel, maybe a prequel, who knows?  But Leon has to see three more colossi (including Psamanthe) before the book can end, and I've got pretty specific plans for each of them, so it should be all downhill from here.

Famous last words?

Word Count:  35,153

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

One Day in the Valley.

Since last #WritersWednesday or #WanderingWednesday (or, hell, #TheriopolisThursday), I finished a massive foil chapter in the new book.  This chapter takes place in Ghettobelly, a housing project that hangs down from Triton's torso via cables that run up and over his back.  It's like a Baby Bjorn but pitiful...well, more pitiful I guess.

The chapter, however, is anything but pitiful.  It's full of action and plot advancement and, finally, the crazy reveal that's been in my head since I came up with the idea for the book.  I also manage to kill off two more characters (bringing the current death toll to 31 so far) and reveal some more about the ramshackle add-on housing that's been brought up from the surface in the last 99 years of the world's history.

Most exciting, however, is the first use of a dialect of English I'm using for this chapter.  Leon faces off with a villain named Jeremai who speaks this dialect and it's been really fun writing for Jeremai so readers can parse through his vernacular.  He bounces between third and first person at his own convenience, does away with most linking and prepositional words, borrows from other cultures' non-Western use of verbs and so on.  He also sees his own people as a superior race to the rest of humanity, referring to themselves as "eaters" and everyone else as "meat" (which you may or may not take literally).  Although I can't give you any excerpts right now (every line is pretty full of story spoilers), I can promise you it's fun and bizarre.

Coming up next is a scene immediately following a character death that compromises Leon's sense of integrity and duty to law enforcement, then a long scene I've already written and it's off Triton to another colossus!  We're really moving now; stay tuned.

See you next week!

Total word count: 33,112

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Spaces in Between.

Following my daughter's pinkeye, I ended up getting some kind of nasty throat infection and being unable to sit up or talk for the better part of the week, let alone write.  Yeesh.  I'm through the worst of it now, but progress is a bit slow-going.  I hope to make up for it next week, and I'll tell you how.

So let's look at what I did this week first.  This week I went back and added a few extra details to "Timeshare" to foreshadow some of our female lead's backstory, because I have a kick-ass idea I'll be returning to later in this book (and fully in its potential sequel).  Then I wrote an in-betweener scene that leads from a cliffhanger I'd finished recently into an unexpected encounter with an early villain.  There was a bit of writer's block working on this scene, because I'm committed to entertaining you with every single word that comes between the front and back covers, but I had to get from Point A to Point B with this particular scene and I found myself basically narrating "And then this happened.  And then that happened.  Then this other thing happened.  Also this too."  And I won't do that to this story I'm trying to tell you, so I had to go back and fix it.  I'm honored that every person who buys one of my books honors me with $10 to $15 of their hard-earned money, hence my commitment to providing you the best book I can write.  Plenty of this book has written itself quickly and almost effortlessly, but when I hit a snag I want to stop and fix it before moving on rather than settle for less and push through a couple shoddy chapters.

Writing fiction for the first time, I've learned a lot about trying to balance story with characterization but also keeping things moving along without getting monotonous or slow.  I try my best to transition between exposition, narration, action, internal monologue and dialogue between multiple characters.  It's a good challenge, but since I'm learning as I go, it often takes longer than I'd like.

Having said all that, I'm proud to say that I worked my way through the weeds and produced a strong transition from one high-energy story point to another.  Rather than make a dry scene of narration, I worked in an interesting conflict between two characters to give better insight into their motives.  Sound good?

So getting back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this week's blog, I feel confident that the last couple weeks' slow progression will be countered by some very smooth sailing.  The next big moment I'm writing is a classic on-foot chase scene between a bad guy and the good guys, some stuff I can't spoil for you then a really exciting 3,700-word part I've already written that ends with my characters traveling to a different colossus from Triton, where the main story has taken place so far.  Stick with us for this one more week and I promise some cool insights/updates next Wednesday.

Thanks for reading!  See you soon!

Weekly theriopolis jam:  Gustavo Santaolalla - "Home"

Total Word Count:  30,058