What’s In a Name? What’s NOT?! (Also: Upcoming Sale!)

First off, the boring stuff: There’s going to be another Single’s Awareness Day sale!  And this time it spans the entire weekend, because after last year’s embarrassing debacle I elected to play it safe.  So if you’re looking to find a deal on Probable Outcome or grab a free copy of The Trap, head over there now!

And now that we’re done with that…

What I am about to say may shock some of you.  Particularly readers of my books.  I know it may be hard to believe, like some kind of cruel joke, but I assure you it is the shameful truth.  And that truth is… I suck at naming characters.

…Hey, HEY!  Stop laughing and start staring in shocked silence, damn it!

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PSA and a quick update

Just wanted to warn everyone who may have visited the main series site at http://www.shadowsoftime.info that the page was apparently hacked a couple of days ago and had some malware installed. It doesn’t appear to have been anything serious and the problem’s already fixed, but you may want to run a quick scan of your computer just in case. I apologize for any inconvenience there – I try to run a clean site. You may still be getting alerts from Google for a few days though if you do decide to drop in until it’s reviewed by their staff. Visitors to this blog don’t need to worry about anything, as it’s hosted on the wordpress servers instead of mine. Why? Well, because theirs run the program faster and I’m impatient. Plus it’s handy for situations like this.

In other news the final proofs for Probable Outcome should be arriving by the end of the day – which hopefully means that you can start placing orders by the end of the week. Watch this space for possible discount offers for anyone wanting to get an early copy.

Probable Outcome update and preview of Titan’s Fall

Hello everyone! And by everyone I mean those few who are still around.

Just wanted to give a quick update.  The corrected assets for Probable Outcome have been sent in and accepted, so that’s moving forward again.  Even better is the fact that as of today the Third Edition of the Kindle E-book for Probable Outcome has gone live on Amazon.  This one basically just adds all the corrections and minor tweaks to the plotting and prose that were made in the print version so that they match.  The differences aren’t major at all, but there are a few paragraphs of new content in there.  So if you recently picked it up and haven’t started reading it yet you may want to download your copy again to see if you can grab the updated version.

The second thing I wanted to mention is of course the preview. 

The way I work is at times a little, for lack of a better term, schizophrenic.  Generally when I finish a manuscript the first thing I do is launch straight into the next one, allowing the newly finished work to sit for a month or two before I come back to it and begin the revision process in earnest.  By then I’m usually at the point where I’m no longer impressed by my own brilliance and able to see all the areas I royally screwed up much more clearly.

A significant plus side to this has been that I’ve always got a good chunk of material for the follow up already done by the time the book is being released, meaning I can generally throw in a bit of a teaser for the next book in the series at the end.  Unfortunately I decided not to do that this time.

The reason is fairly simple.  Probable Outcome is very long, and manufacturing costs for it were driving up the estimated list price.  As such the decision was made to cut out pretty much everything that could go to keep the page count down, which sadly included the preview.  Overall I’d call it a good decision as it dropped the price by almost $4.00.  We’re still at a higher price point than I’d like unfortunately, but hopefully discounts and the like should be able to address that problem at least partially in the future.

And, seeing as I have this nifty blog thing now, I see no reason why we can’t have our cake and eat it too.  So here’s a quick (spoiler free!) taste of what you can eventually expect in Shadows of Time – Titan’s Fall.

 

Prologue

April 10th, 1912
11:08:19 AM
Coordinates 50°53’31”N, 01°23’53”W
Southampton Docks, England

“Clear the way!”

At least twenty people in the crowd turned their heads at the frantic shout.  The twelve who it was actually aimed at somehow pressed themselves into the mass of humanity around them just far enough to create a narrow corridor for the over laden baggage cart wobbling towards them.  A few stewards suddenly appeared at either side of it and slowed it to a stop, carefully pressing themselves against the bags stacked up to keep them from falling while the man driving it regained his footing.

“Did you let the missus do the packing, mate?”  Someone called out.

The joke elicited some half-hearted laughter but most had already forgotten the incident and rejoined the mass of people making their way towards the gangplanks.  The Southampton docks were never what anyone could consider quiet, but today they were so full as to be positively chaotic.  More than a few people were surprised to find that even in the face of the cool spring breeze rolling off of the ocean they were sweating in their warm clothes simply from the body heat generated by thousands of people all pressed together in one space.  In addition to the passengers and crew normally present the shore was lined with photographers, reporters, and local residents all eager to see the excitement centered on the Olympic-class behemoth currently floating off their shore.  More than a few swelled with pride at the knowledge that the marvel of engineering before them was made possible only by the hard work of the loved ones who currently served aboard her.

To the passengers, the crew of the ship was almost mechanical in their efficiency as they somehow turned the mass of bodies into neatly ordered lines as they boarded the ship.  But more than a few dockworkers watching might have been quietly snickering to themselves at the strain their practiced eyes observed on the faces of everyone working had they not been equally swamped with their own duties. 

Had it been any less busy someone might have noticed that one of the massive wooden crates being lifted into the cargo hold had a shipping label which was identical to another crate that had been loaded earlier that morning.  The crane operator might have also noticed that for a box that was supposedly filled with machinery it seemed to sway quite freely as the loading crews pushed it into position for the long voyage.  But instead they were thinking of the pile of other boxes waiting on the shore that had to be brought aboard before they could get underway.  The crate was pushed into a corner, lashed down, and quickly forgotten about as they moved to get ready for the next one.

Soon the last of the cargo was stowed and the crew departed to tend to other duties.  No one lingered to watch the otherwise unremarkable box as it began to creak and buckle.  Then there was a sudden crack as the planks making up its structure bowed outwards.  A gust of wind whistled through the surrounding cargo as the crate trembled in place before lapsing back into stillness.  A few moments later the tip of a crowbar emerged from the interior and began pulling at the planks until they gave away to reveal a man cautiously peering out into the hold.  As he surveyed his surroundings his caution quickly turned to elation.

He dropped the crowbar into the crate and took a few small steps into the cargo bay.  He spun in place for a moment as he took everything in, running a hand through his blonde hair which was just starting to thin.

“Come on!”  He laughed triumphantly and spun around to face the crate from which he had emerged.  “Get out of that box and take a look at this!”

One by one, four other figures appeared at the hole in the crate.  A young woman carefully extended a leg out into the cargo bay and jumped backwards into the arms of her nearby companion as she felt the solid deck beneath her.

“It’s real!”  She laughed wide eyed as she looked up into the face of the man cradling her.

He smiled and leaned down to kiss her forehead, briefly caressing the shining untarnished ring on her left hand.  “Only the best for you dove.”

The other two occupants, an elderly man and a middle aged woman, quickly evacuated the crate before the young couple could overwhelm them.

“Of course it’s bloody real!”  The blonde man stomped the heel of his boot against the deck.  “Did you think I planned to take your money and cheat you out of what you paid for?”

The elderly main raised his hand.  “Actually—”

He was interrupted by the sound of the bolts in the cargo bay door sliding back.

“Shit!”  The blonde man gathered the other two up in his arms and pushed them towards the couple fawning over each other in the box.  “Hide!”

The sound of footsteps echoed in the hold as the man carefully rearranged the removed planks to hide the hole in the crate. 

“Hello?”  A thickly accented voice called out.

Everyone held their breath.

“Oi!”  Another voice called from further away.  “What are you doing in there?  Hold’s supposed to be closed up.”

“I thought I heard someone talking,” the first voice called back.

A second pair of footsteps entered the room.  “Don’t see anything.  Do you?”

“No,” the first voice admitted.

The second man sniffed.  “Probably rats.  Little blighters get everywhere.”

“I suppose—” the first voice hesitantly began.

“Good!  It’s settled then.”  The second voice began to recede.  “Now let’s close the hold up and get about our jobs before an officer catches us lollygagging down here.”

The people in the crate waited breathlessly as the footsteps receded and the door clattered shut once more. 

“That was close.”  The blonde man wiped his brow and reopened the crate.

“We should get changed out of these clothes,” the elderly man suggested.  “There was a rigid class structure in place during this period.  We shouldn’t be questioned as much if we’re in the right costumes.”

“Yeah.”  The blonde man nodded.  “That’s a good idea.”

“What do we do then?”  The young man eagerly inquired as the women shuffled their way back into the crate to begin changing.

“Right after the ship leaves there’s going to be a near-collision with another ship called the New York.  There should be plenty of confusion then.  We can use it to slip out and join the rest of the passengers.  If anyone asks, just show them these.”  He dug his hand into a pocket and pulled out a small cardboard envelope and waved it in front of his face.

The old man’s eyes widened as he slowly reached for the envelope.  “Are those real?”

“Of course.”  The man opened the envelope and placed one of the tickets inside in the man’s outstretched withered hand.  “Real is what you paid for.”

The old man stared at the ticket clasped in his hand as a smile stretched itself from ear to ear.  The man withdrew another ticket and handed it to the young man hovering over his elder’s shoulder to stare at the piece of paper clutched in his hand.

“Do you have any idea how much this would be worth back home?”  The young man breathed.

The blonde man frowned.  “Right now it’s worth £30.  Back home it would be worth a minimum of ten years room and board in a minimum security jail.  So keep those little souvenirs to yourselves.  You’re here for a vacation, not relic hunting.”

“Anyone who could afford your prices wouldn’t need to,” the old man mumbled as he slipped the ticket into his pocket. 

“What was that?”  The blonde man demanded.

“What?”  The old man cocked his head to the side.  “I talk to myself sometimes.”

“You’re sure this is the right ship?”  The younger man interrupted.

The blonde man turned to him.  “Sorry?”

“What if this is just another similar ship?”  The man persisted.  “Everyone I went to before you told me that this trip was too risky.  I want to be sure I’m not being scammed.”

“They told you that because compared to me, everyone else is a hack.  I’m the only one good enough at what I do to get away with it.”  The blonde man pulled the planks aside and stepped out into the hold again, waving the young man along behind him.  “Here, look at the shipping labels.  They all say RMS Titanic.  Satisfied?”

The young man nodded.  “Very.”

“Good.”  The blonde man slapped him on the back and shuffled him back into the crate.  “Now stop asking questions and enjoy your vacation.  I’m not going to have my reputation ruined by an unsatisfied customer.”

Well, I have a blog now.

Hello internet. 

So I suppose I can check off yet another one of those things that people tell me I’m supposed to do to market myself.  Blogging.  Yay.  Now I get to actually do even more stuff that isn’t really writing that people aren’t going to read.

So I suppose I should probably go into some details about what this blog is actually going to be about.  Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone who is even remotely aware of who I am that, yes, it’s self promotion.  That’s what 90% of blogging is really, and I don’t see any point in denying that.  But I don’t think that necessarily means that I can’t have a bit of fun with it too while desperately trying to convince you to buy Shadows of Time books.

Which leads me into the next bit I’m going to talk about.  As everyone who as sent me e-mails in the past year since I released Probable Outcome on Kindle will no doubt be pleased to hear, I have finally relented and releasing a copy of the book in print format.  And even better, the book should be released within a week or so.  Because I procrastinate a lot when it comes to doing this kind of stuff, and because I hate finding out that the next book I’m looking forward to is actually a full year away (I’m looking at you David Weber, George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan… oh, wait, Wheel of Time is finished now.  Never mind.) at least as much as you do.

Unfortunately, as often happens, I currently find myself having hit a bit of a snag.  See, when I woke up this morning, I was determined that I was going to get this thing done.  I’d proofed all 800 some pages of the book, had some greatly improved cover art, redone the blurb on the back, and had a marketing strategy in place.  It was time to bring it all together.  Which is exactly what I did, which is why right now someone is reviewing all of it to make sure it’s printable.

Unfortunately they have no idea whatsoever that I just five minutes ago found a typo on the back cover.  There’s a word I’d like to use to describe my reaction to that, but I’d like to avoid getting cross listed with search results for adult content on the first blog post.

So yeah, not really my finest moment.  But rather appropriate.  The original Kindle release of the book was plagued with errors (as many of you who picked it up know) due to my constantly switching between computers running different versions of Word.  Half of what was supposed to be italicized wasn’t (which is really important when the use of italics are meant to indicate when someone is talking through a cranial mounted transceiver as opposed to out loud where everyone can hear what they’re saying) and words tended to relocate themselves almost at random.  Some even appeared several places at once.

The result of this is that I have now had to completely re-read my monster of a novel at least a dozen times by now just to confirm that nothing got missed.  Generally this takes about a month, during which my output of new content for the upcoming SOT3 slows to a trickle.  All of a sudden George R. R. Martin looks to be moving absurdly fast from where I’m standing.

So to summarize: I’ve got a blog, Probable Outcome will be coming out very soon, and tomorrow I am likely to make a proof-reader feel extremely frustrated when he signs off on what should be the final proof only to have me immediately veto it in favor of a version where the only change is that there is one more P on the back cover. 

Spell check, kids.  It saves lives.