Papa Zulu’s 2nd Five Star Review!

papa_zuluWell folks, Papa Zulu has now been available through Amazon.com for just over a month. And thus far, two reviews have come in, and both are both highly favorable! I tell ya, it pays off to hold back on publication so you can make sure that everything is nicely polished and edited. And while I’m still waiting on a few more people to chime in on what they thought about the book, I am pretty happy with what people had to say so far.

Here are the reviews, with some minor omissions to make sure no spoilers were included:

(5.0 stars) So Good
By Rosie Reader

Lots of action and excitement once again; a great follow-up to Whiskey Delta! I hope there is another one in the series because I want more.

(5.0 stars) Excellent Sequel!
By S.O. “SO” (NY)

What can I say about this….except it’s an incredible follow up to Whiskey Delta! I almost wish I’d given WD a lower rating, just so I could rate this a higher one LOL. It picks up pretty much where book 1 left off, but it is written in such a way that if you didn’t read WD you wouldn’t be too lost. It’s not so much about the zombies this time, but the aftermath of that and the internal conflicts both within the Army and within each person.

(Spoiler, spoiler, spoiler)…

There are a few loose ends where the end of the book is concerned and to quote Braun “this can’t be the end…there has to be more…” His relationship with Saunders is brought to attention, there’s a traitor (or 2) in their midst, and his platoon might have a new leader.

You can check the full reviews by going to the books Amazon page, but I warn you, they do contain spoilers! And it might just be a coincidence, but I did notice a slight uptick in sales since the second review came in. So far, Papa Zulu has sold some 13 copies since publication, and Whiskey Delta and the unrelated Data Miners have even made some added sales. So, for obvious reasons, I am pretty happy right now.

And to my fellow indies, keep hammering those keys and pushing those books! Every copy we sell is a small victory and every favorable review is a big one. After all, that’s why we got into this business, isn’t it? To share what we love, think, and what inspires us, in the hopes that other people draw from it the same things we do.

Happy Anniversary!

fireworks1Today, I got an all=important notification from WordPress.com. It tells me that today is the third anniversary of this here blog, also known as storiesbywilliams.com. Yes, it was on this day, three years ago to the day, that I started this little enterprise in order to publicize my work, share what inspires me, and connect with other writers and bloggers out there.

And as with all anniversaries on this site, I’d like to commemorate this by sharing a few facts and figures, just to put it all in context context. Three years on this site has resulted in the following numbers:

  • 3 years
  • 1095 days
  • 8760 hours
  • 1576800 minutes

Or, to put it in terms of what I’ve actually done with that time, which seems much more relevant:

  • 410,057 views
  • 6,417 comments
  • 2,039 followers
  • 1,541 posts

And as usual, I would like to thank all those who helped make this possible. Since starting this blog, I’ve managed to publish all my works from 2004 onward. These include Source, the Legacies: Preludes collection, Data Miners, Whiskey Delta, and most recently, Papa Zulu. And in the coming months, I plan to release Flash Forward, and finish work on the long-awaited Yuva Anthology.

And, just as importantly, I feel I’ve learned a great deal, thanks to the personal and professional connections I’ve made. And wherever possible, I’ve tried to pass that experience and knowledge onward; and shall continue to do so whenever possible. This site is, was, and always will be about inspiration, and that belongs to no one and everyone.

So expect to hear plenty more from me, and be sure to make yourself heard as well – as often and as much as possible. Here’s to three years more, and to forever looking onward!

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200,000 Hits!

inspirationWell, well… another milestone has come, and it seems I missed it by about 48 hours! And that was after over a week of waiting for it to come. I am referring not only to reaching over 200,000 views, but also to the fact this blog is reaching the end of its second year. Just two months to go, and storiesbywilliams will be two! Ah well, I’m here now, and there are a few things I want to say to mark this occasion. Well, for starters, I would like to say thank you once again to all the people who have come by and made this milestone happen.

And then there’s the people who come by more than once, and on purpose. Those people deserves a thank you too! And third, there are the people who’ve come by, stuck around, and even offered supportive comments. Those people deserve an extra special thank you! Were it not of the enduring and consistent support of you fine folks – and you know who you are! – this blog would have flopped and gone under a long time ago.

fireworks2Yes, I know it seems like I’ve said this many times over now, but that’s the thing about marking milestones. They tend to kind of build up after the first few. First there’s your first 100 views, then 500, then 1000. After that, the milestones become fewer and farther between. But until you get into six or seven figures, they are likely to happen quite often. But I want to space things out a bit more, so I promise not to say anything until I reach 500,000 views.

Zombie_Apocalypse_by_geodexSo lets see, what’s next for this site? Well, I just published Data Miners, that was good, especially after three years of being in development. Pappa Zulu is also nearing completion, which will be nice because I plan to take that opportunity to go back, edit Whiskey Delta, and then release it! I foresee a zombie-fighting trilogy emerging, so stay tuned for more on that (still need a name for the third one though).

And of course, there’s Yuva, which needs to get finished and go through a full-on edit. And somewhere in between all that, I plan to restart my old idea, Apocrypha, my first real attempt at speculative sci-fi that wasn’t set in the distant future. Man, these next few months are going to be busy!

apoc_soldiersAnd I hope you all stick around to see what happens. And of course, I promise to remain a committed follower and viewer of what you have to say and will consider myself flattered that you choose to involve me in your adventures, stories and creative processes. After all, sharing makes for a more richer life experience, if for no other reason than because it lets us know we’re not alone.

This is what we do, people, and this is why we do it!

New Anthology Sample!

gliese 581Hey folks! In the past few weeks, I’ve been working diligently to get my “works in progress” pile under control. This included getting Data Miners off my computer and onto the shelves, but also to get this anthology known as Yuva moving again. I’ve done my best to get more writings on the project, and actually managed to get some writing done myself.

As a result “The Torch”, the first chapter in the story which acts as the prologue, is coming long and is almost complete. After some months of letting it accumulate dust, I finally managed to get the third section finished and plotted out how I wanted it to end. The following sample is the next half-section, which is the just shy of the final chapter. I hope you like it, and enjoy the not-too-subtle tech references which I have been researching of late and knew I had to incorporate. This is, after all, taking place in the near future…

For the sake of preserving some element of surprise and mystery, I won’t say exactly what they are or where to find them. Suffice it to say, I think that flexible, transparent computer tablets and commercial space flight will be a reality in the near future. Based on discussions that took place between myself and Khaalidah, this story’s co-author and a major anthology contributor, we also figured that orbital satellites would be island estates of the future.

In addition to orbital banking replacing “offshore banking” – a la Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Cyprus, etc – there would also be private estates in orbit where laws were laxer and people with money could do whatever the heck they wanted! It’s like international waters, but with the added benefit of low gravity and high-tech medical treatments which would never be legal planetside.

Anyway, no more spoilers! Enjoy!

*                    *                    *

From the spacious backseat, Muktari got quite the view of the Frankfurt skyline. The window’s active display matrix was sure to keep him apprised of what he was seeing as they passed along the Schaumainkai. The patterned lights – yellow, orange, white and opal – achieved a beautiful, glittering balance, drawing the eye and appeasing the senses all at once.

In truth, it wasn’t much different from the skylines of Dubai, Mumbai or Shanghai, or even London or New York for that matter. They all were a testament to the grandeur and excesses of humanity, how people could always be expected to build higher and higher when they had run out of room to expand sideways. Or, in other cases, to avoid pillaging the lands occupied by more traditional buildings and boroughs.

But this was always the challenge of such metropolitan centers. The inflow of capital, investment, new people and technological change; one always had to find places to put the new things. And places to put the things needed to dispose of. And every new age seemed to trigger a new wave of this process: redevelopment, rezoning, and redistribution.

The car veered left and began joining the highway. For many minutes, the skyline disappeared in the distance, replaced by the developments that ran south of the river. The window had a hard time keeping up, as there weren’t many heritage sites in this area, but plenty of modern buildings of note. He turned away finally, and began paying attention to his fellow passenger. She had shown up the airport to escort him, and he was beginning to sense this would become a pattern.

“You didn’t have to meet me,” he had said as soon as he reached the front doors.

“Escorts can be so impersonal,” she said. “Besides, my father doesn’t trust specialized talent to just anyone.”

“So I can expect you to be a noose around my neck then?” he said. He had been in a bad mood after the flight, admittedly. A restless sleep and an early morning flight was known to do that to people. And changing time zones and shuttling from one part of the Earth to the next was something he had been doing far too much of lately.

Now, seated across from her, he thought some polite conversation might be in order.

“So where is Mr. Harding flying me to?”

She looked up from her Tab and smiled. “To him,” she replied simply.

“To him? You mean to his private estate somewhere, or corporate HQ?”

She chuckled mildly and continued typing and stroking at her device. Muktari sighed heavily. He was hoping to be pleasant, but the way she was preserving the surprise was beginning to annoy him. Was it too much to ask that she help him plan his evening? If he were to be taken to yet another time zone and have to face the prospect of even more lag, he would like to know about it now.

“You know, I heard that Harding was not in the best of health lately.” He let the words hang, hoping to gauge her reaction. “I might suspect we were heading for the Swiss Alps, or perhaps some clinic in Brazil.”

She made a sideways gesture with her head, like a half shake. A denial perhaps, or an indication that she could not say either way.

“It would seem ill-advised for a man who was in the twilight of his days to still be chained to his desk.”

She appeared to be finishing up with her work and put the Tab aside. She looked at him furtively and said nothing.

“No?” he said, and nodded. “Very well, keep your secrets. But know that all this running around and pretense isn’t making me any more interested in what he has to say.”

She continued to stare at him, smiling in her usual way. It too was becoming very annoying.

“What?” he said at last.

“We’re here,” she replied, motioning to the window. Muktari looked out and spotted the strip that they were now parked upon. Less than a hundred meters to their right, a small Atmo was parked.

“We’re flying in that?” he said, gesturing to the craft.

She smiled.

“Where are we going?”

“To the stars,” she replied. “Have you been topside before?”

Muktari blanched. It was one thing he had assiduously avoided, and hoped to continue not to do in his lifetime.

“Well then,” she said, taking his expression to mean he had not, “you’re in for quite the treat.”

Data Miners Published!

Dataminers_3It’s finally happened. After three years of writing, editing and constant picking, I finally got around to pushing Data Miners through publication! As you can see, I decided to go with the black and green cover, which I feel highlights the lines of code best. And I also made sure there’d be print on the side. I feel there should be demarcation between the front and back covers, hope you agree.

And here is the precis I decided to go with on the back of the dust jacket. Hope it encapsulates the story without giving too much away:

“Prad is a member of the DeMarchy, an elite society of data miners dedicated to finding the patterns in chaos and exposing the lies that permeate our society. Or so he thinks. In reality, he’s a second-rate programmer working for a faceless company and obsessed with a woman he can’t possibly have. Until one day when a mysterious package arrives that plunges him into a mystery ten years in the making.  If he can crack the code, he just might be able to save his friends and himself.  If not, they’ll lose everything: their jobs, their freedom, and even their lives. Like everything else in Prad’s wireless world, the answer is out there, just waiting to be mined!

But to give my loyal followers are more in-depth survey, the book was inspired largely by the works of William Gibson and his exploration of technology and its effects on society. But for my own purposes, I wanted some serious espionage and spy thriller stuff, the kind of things people would expect from a techno-thriller. After all, one of the cornerstones of the digital age has been fears about the loss of privacy, the dangers of government surveillance, and the threat posed by insidious people with the wrong kinds of talents!

Add to that the concept of Democratic Anarchy, a west-coast libertarian perspective, and some real history – which I shamelessly exploited for the sake of fiction – and you’ve got Data Miners. In time, I will be producing the sequel, Data Pirates, which focuses on the darker side of hacking and libertarianism, and a finale, entitled Data Moguls. But those will have to wait for my current workload to cool down a little…

In the meantime, look for Data Miners on Amazon-Kindle! It will be appearing on my author page for the ebook price of 4.99, or for free if you’ve got a Kindle Select membership. My first full length novel is out, Yaaaaaay! Follow the links below if you want a copy:

Amazon Author Page

The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop!

Yeah, apparently there’s this new thing making the rounds known of late. Lord knows this here internet is filled with memes, but when you get tagged as part of a new one, you gotta go play. My thanks to Casey Sheridan for being the one to tag me, and now I go on to spread the word! Of course, it behooves me to post the rules of this particular meme. Here they are:

  • Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you (already done!)
  • Post the rules for this hop (in progress!)
  • Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog
  • Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

And now, here are the author questions which I shall begin to answer in sequential order:

  1. What is the working title of your book?
    Data Miners
  2. What genre does the book fall under?
    Thriller/suspense, but with some clear science fiction elements since a lot of it is speculative
  3. Which actors would you choose to play your characters for the movie rendition?
    C.S. Lee (who plays Vince Masuka on Dexter) as Yamal Pradchaphet, Lyndsy Fonseca as Agent Righetti, and Mila Kunis as Angela Thompson.
  4. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    A second-rate programmer by day and hacker by night finally stumbles onto a real-life conspiracy that is ten years in the making.
  5. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
    Self-published to begin with, with the intent that it will be represented at some later date
  6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
    Three y
  7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    If pressed, I’d say Neuromancer, Cryptonomicon, and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, the works that most directly inspired it.
  8. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
    Reading plenty of William Gibson and other thrillers about technological trends, cryptology and espionage.
  9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
    The book explores the mysteries of the human mind, with inspirations from Arthur Koestler, B.F. Skinner, and Gilbert Ryle; the concept of digital immortality; and several ongoing questions about what really happened to the Stealth Fighter that was shot down during the Kosovo War.

And last, but certainly not least, are the five people I want to tag next. Naturally, this is 100% volunteer participation, so if you can’t join, don’t worry about it:

Rami Ungar – http://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com
Nina D’Arcangela – http://sotetangyal.wordpress.com
Nicola Higgins – http://nicolahigginsfiction.wordpress.com
Lesley Carter – http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com
Margaret E. Alexander – http://addictivestory.wordpress.com

Thanks again to Casey, and hope everyone has a good week!

My First Attempt At Writing Romance

Hey all. Today I thought I’d share something from my editing pile that got me thinking. In my line of writing, I don’t get many chances to write romance. It’s not that I don’t want to; in fact, I’d kill for the opportunity to write some more smutty scenes! It’s just that science fiction and stories that focus more on the social and existential questions don’t call for a lot of love and/or sex scenes, not generally at any rate. Somehow, things like sex are expected to be just part of the background, unless the material truly calls for it.

Luckily, since I began writing modern-day fiction, I’ve found that opportunities for a little love play and eroticism have increased. Unfortunately, I found myself kind of fumbling with them since they just weren’t something I was used to. But I managed to soldier on, write them as best I could with an eye towards speaking from the female perspective (the plot called for it), and tried my damnedest to make it as hot as possible.

So today, I thought I’d share a sample chapter form the upcoming Data Miners that I dealt with all that. Occurring later in the novel, it is a scene where two FBI agents, while on assignment, have an opportunity to explore their growing mutual infatuation. As always, the timing is not quite ideal, but as we all know, things like love and attraction do not wait for ideal circumstances. The following scene is the first time they experience something more than the usual kinship. But first, some background…

Agent Nina Righetti (told from her POV) and Angent Winston Heinlein have just finished burning the midnight oil in the Boston hotel where they are staying for the night. Before coming to town, they had already been on their first “date”, which consisted of a quick meal before being forced to look into the possibility that one of their own was spying on them. At this point, they are of the opinion that their investigation might be the result of a total set-up, and that they are co-conspirators in bringing this to light. After finishing their little tete-a-tete, Winston is all set to head back to his room so they get some sleep before their early morning.

Enjoy!

*               *               *

 “Well… thanks for the late night dose of outrage. We must do this again sometime.”

Winston turns around in the doorway and laughs. The file folder hangs in his right hand, his jacket in the other and draped over his shoulder.

“Yeah, should have brought some food, I guess.”

“Hmm, yes, we seem to be good at that.”

“Good at what?”

“Mixing work with dinner.”

Winston blushes. “Oh yeah. We still could get dinner, if you’re not opposed to getting some overpriced room service.”

“Well, the bureau is footing the bill…”

Nina checks her watch. The sun is disappearing outside, and according to the concierge, the kitchen doesn’t close until eleven. But one look at Winston scraps that idea. His hair is disheveled and sticking up at the back, like an alfalfa sprout. Her own blouse is tousled and untucked, her hair no longer behaving. Through their little soirée, they managed to work up a bit of a sweat. Not the best circumstances for a second date, and in a cheap hotel room no less!

“Think it’s a bit too late for that,” she says. “I think I’ll just catch a shower and tuck in.”

Winston nods. He looks just the slightest bit disappointed.

“Right, I think I might too.” He gives his underarm a sniff, recoils comically. They share a brief chuckle. Then comes the pause, the nice, long, awkward pause as he stands there, neither one of them knowing what to say or how to break off this moment.

“Then I guess this is goodnight,” he says. Nina nods, and given a few seconds to ponder what to do next, puts out her hand. Winston gives her a funny look but takes it, shakes it heartily.

“Well, good night then, agent Righetti. See you in the morning.”

“Bright and early,” she says. Another pause. She notices his hair again and can’t stop fixating on the spike at the back. She can endure its presence no longer.

“I’m sorry, this is bothering me,” she says, and reaches out to flatten it. Her hands land on around his head, the warmth and slight tinge of dampness registering on her plans. She can smell him too now, the faint scent of aftershave and detergent punctuated by a little of his musk.

And now she’s completely still. His hair is fixed, but her hands are still there. She looks up at his face and is caught there, caught in the limits of his smell, of his embrace. She could pull away, but something is keeping her there. The feel of him, the scent of him, pulling her forward. She notices for the first time that they’re not green like she previously thought. There’s the small ring of hazel in there too, and they’re boring into her. She recognizes that look, imagines her brown eyes are staring back at him with that same expression.

She feels the touch of his lips then, warm and gentle against hers. They are locked there for what feels like hours, a tingling sensation spreading throughout her body. She can feel little else except for her panties melting away. That and her legs going wobbly.

And then… they pull apart, slowly. She’s embarrassed, at least until she sees the look on his face. It’s the kind of face Garrett makes whenever they’ve fucked. That happy, stupid vacant look a man gets after he’s come, but Winston also looks surprised. Happily surprised, like he wanted to kiss and is amazed she’d want to do it back. She suddenly has the impression that it was her who fired first, though it’s hard to tell.

Winston clears his throat. “Um… well… goodnight.”

She nods and puts her hand to her lips. With the return of normal sensation, she can feel the hot tinge of blood rushing to her face. Most of it appears to be returning from other areas of her body.

“Yes…” she says, clearing her throat. “Good night.”

Winston steps back, turns sideways, and begins to walk away. He stops, turns around, pardons his mistake, and walks the other way. She has to resist the urge to laugh. Watching him pace off, one would think he’s forgotten how. Either that or he’s been unable to maintain enough blood flow for both his heads. She watches him go a second longer and then seals herself back in her room.

Leaning up against the door, she can feel her face flushing again and again, waves of hot blood rolling over her. Her legs still feel a bit weak, prompting her to slide further down the door. The slight tang of sweat she was feeling before has become a lot more potent now. And it smells different on her too. No longer just stress and anger, there’s a new scent there overpowering them all.

I need… a shower… she thinks. A nice… long… hot shower.

Naturally, this is not the last time the two will have a romantic run in, but it was the first scene that I wrote of its kind. Ladies especially, I would like to know what you think of it. Does it capture the essence of a romantic encounter, as told from a woman’s point of view? If not, what needs to change to capture the hotness factor?

More on that front as the book nears completion. And stay tuned for my review of the new Batman movie as well. Processing, but expect it to hit the page by tomorrow morning at the latest!