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.
April 10th, 1912
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.”