Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yet Another Ambitious Seafaring Suspense Novel?

Last year beginning around Feb., I began TITANIC 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic, and I tried to do my best to keep a running blog or log or diary of progress, success, failures, steps going forward, steps going back...various stages of development of the novel and a running commentary....

Well now after the success of completing TITANIC and now that it has been up for sale on Kindle for some time, I went seeking a new project that was equal to the task of being on a par with Titanic, as I feel Titanic, my Titanic with its various layers, interesting characters, and its new theory of the crime that absolved the iceberg and took Capt. Edward Smith off history's shady pedestal.

So where to go, what to do... After taking a break from the heavy-duty writing, I did a quick book 4 in a horror series I had penned as Geoffrey Caine years back. Always wanted to work again with Dr. Abraham Stroud, arecheologist and vampire/werewolf slayer, so BAYOU  WULF came into being while I allowed something more major, bigger, more ambitious to percolate and it came to me -- Go Find The BISMARCK.

Go after the Bismarck just as Dr. Robert Ballard did not rest on his laurels of finding the Tianic, where she sat on the ocean floor. Ballard next set his sights on The Bismarck, so why not do the same, only give it my special stamp. Give it intrigue, make it compelling, bring in Hitler, get into his head a bit, get into his obsession with the occult and what that might have to do with the ill-fated Bismarck.

And how can I get an Alastair Ransom-type character during WWII aboard the ship to act as hero?  Would he be German or British? Would he have help or act as a loner?  And what about alternating chapters with a current day or futuristic tale of divers going into the now wreck -- as I did with Titanic, only while making it 'somewhat familiar' making sure it is uniquely its own story?

These WHAT IF questions form the backbone and skeletal makeup of story, and they represent the first "percolating process" for the imagination. They help me SEE scenes, picture the moment(s), imagine the dialouge and scenes and characters.  I imagine the principle characters about a country store cracker-barrel or in this case the ship's galley -- of course aboard the largest battleship ever built to that date, Bismarck's Galley was likely two or three huge rooms needed to feed a crew of some two thousand.

In any event, I want to do my best again for youZ guyZ -- to do a kind of Julia & Julia Journal but this one is not about cooking food but cooking up an imagination emporium--another word for a helluva novel. So am making this ANNOUNCEMENT here and now -- GONNA NEED A TITLE...SO THERE WILL BE A TITLE CONTEST.

Am  GOING to need some 'throwaway' characters - extras willing to die on the Bismarck, but this time German names will be in order for the most part. There will be a slew of other names during the telling of the modern dive to Bismarck story, however, so I will be asking for volunteers -- you give me the green light and I will kill you off in brutal fashion in the story I am tentatively calling BISMARCK 1941 - 2012 or Bismarck 2013.  Much depends on how soon I can get the novel penned as to that significant date.

So am putting out the call to NAME the story contest, and seeking Extras willing to die for the cause.

I will be posting these needs on facebook, twitter, driving people here and there. For the time being if you'd care to read on here are the opening scenes so far. PLEASE tell me what you think in the comments section.

Here is the excerpt in very Rough Form:

                   B I S M A R C K   2013

May 5, 1941 aboard the Bismarck

Adolph Hitler smiled and rocked on his heels, 5’10 in his British-made Wellington boots; he smiled and turned his head in all directions from the bridge of the deadliest battleship ever to set sail on the high seas—Bismarck. He’d come aboard with heavy security, and Lt. Commander Peter Dorfmann had noticed the box—a wooden crate marked as canned fruit, ostensibly a gift for Admrial Lutgens. Hitler’s entourage plied directly to the Admiral’s quarters first, deposited the gift, and had returned to inspect the rows upon rows of sailors lining the deck to greet him, after which came the speech-making.

Dorfmann, well aware of the fidgeting among the ranks now, did his best to set an example, staring up at the fuehrer with a look of pride affixed to his face. He did so while his eyes wandered to the other officers aboard that he could see from his vantage point. There was X whose adoration for Hitler could not be matched. Not far from X, stood X, who was equally excited to greet the leader of the Third Reich who had graced the ship with a blessing now, ending with, “I pray not for you men of Bismarck, for many will die to achieve our ends. I pray not for the Bismarck herself.” Hitler’s voice had gone to an uncharacteristic whisper at the microphone that covered most of his blunt features. Peter wondered how the man could say such things and not a single grumble from the men aboard this ship when Hitler ended with, “I pray for der reich, the Fatherland!”

This sent a cheer up among the men so loud that it sent seagulls a mile away scurrying.

Bismarck, named for its architect Johan Bismarck, had been originally christened and launched amid a crowd of thousands who’d swarmed into the Hamburg shipyards of 14 February 1939 to celebrate the launch of Germany’s grandest battleship. Cheers had filled the air that day, and Peter had been on hand, in his uniform, under orders to be there among the onlookers, giving the Nazi salute as the ceremony came to a close and the giant warship groaned and slowly slid from its gantry and into the water for the first time. At the time, Peter hadn’t a clue that he would be enlisted to be among Bismarck’s crew.

So why now, two years later, with almost the entire continent of Europe save Russia and Spain under Nazi control, was Hitler here, aboard, carting oranges and apples to Admiral Lutgen’s quarters?

Peter was born curious and he was raised cynical.

As for Hitler, Adolph, Peter privately called him, Peter could hardly believe the events that had led Hitler from a failed soldier, a failed artist, a failed family man to this—his prominence as the leader of the Third Reich, but it must be destined, it must be fate, a higher power to which, someday, Adolph might perhaps bow to give thanks. As for the battleship Bismarck, her guns the most enormous ever devised, Hitler smiled even wider now, no doubt at the thought of the power beneath his feet, at the adoration of the mariners, and at Admiral Gunther Lutgens introduction. Not that the Fuhrer needed any introduction.

Still the introduction went on at length, followed by a welcome aboard from Captain Johan Lindermann, who kept it short. Peter thought he detected a minute and quickly covered smirk from Lindermann.

Still with Hitler basking in it, the long and winding introduction, filled as it were with praise for his leadership and vision for the Fatherland, finally closed, and Adolph, feeling a twinge of his childhood fantasies bubbling up, raised his hand to the two thousand men aboard Bismarck and shouted, “Seig heil, sieg heil.” To which the men responded in one voice, two replies: “Sieg Heil,”—to Victory—and “Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!”

And so it went on. It went on long. Every proud young seaman in the Der Deutbchen Krietgsmarine stood on the decks, arms raised in the now well-known Nazi salute, and when the combined nearly two thousand men raised their voices, shouting Zeig Hiel, Zeig Hiel, it felt as if Bismarck herself shook with the reverberation.

May 5, 2012 at the wreck site in the Irish Sea

The black undersea cosmos at these depths could not be calculated for its sheer impact on the human psyche. Ryne Muellerheim slid in behind Horst Baderfitz as they closed in on the sunken Bismarck, encased as they were in the underwater marvel of a mini-sub, the Blitzmariner, of modern German design.    

Both divers could trace their ancestry back to the men on the shipwreck they were racing toward—the infamous German destroyer, Bismarck. They moved through the deep like a wave, hardly noticeable even on the radar screens manned by people who expected to see them, the captain and crew of Victory, the seagoing salvage ship that meant to take what it could from the bowels of the sunken WWII battleship.

They had little interest in anything else such as precisely how or why she sank as history dictated her demise quite thoroughly, although some scholars questioned the odds of a direct hit on her rudder by a single torpedo fired from a plane like some gift from the gods of the British fleet and ample vengeance for the sinking of The Hood, the Lusitania, and Titanic’s sister ship, Britannic—all of which had been sent to the bottom by German engineering of one kind or another.

Ryne and Horst watched out the portals, marveling at there being no wake, no bubbles, nothing to indicate they were here. They traveled much as a shark or dolphin. Absolute silent running in what amounted to a high-tech titanium shark, a sleek, space-age designed undersea craft created specifically for this, the most ambitious salvage of a dead ship at such depths in all of history. They meant to make a fortune along with that history.

The Bismarck sat at the sea bottom in the straights of the Irish Sea in a deep valley floor. It would be 4,570 meters or 15,000 feet to the surface should they encounter any problem. In other words, miles to the surface once they exited Victory and dared enter Bismarck. The two men had seen graphs depicting the depth, putting New York’s Empire State building on the bottom for comparison alongside Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Toronto’s CN Tower—all dwarfed to the size of a needle on such graphs. It was a miracle that Robert Ballard had ever found Titanic, and even more of a miracle that he’d located the Bismarck in 1989 at such depths. All thanks to the advanced underwater sonar developed by the US Navy.

A school of krill suddenly engulfed them, the cloud so thick as to blot out sight.

Damn, it’s like a white out in Upstate New York!” shouted Ryne, who’d spent some time in America.

Horst nodded. “Like million diamonds blinking down on—” but he didn’t finish before the implosion of Victory, killing everyone aboard instantly, the two German divers and George Fleet, the man at the controls. They never knew what hit them aside from the krill storm but Victory had slammed into Bismarck like an airplane hitting a mountainside. The krill had blinded Victory’s pilot long enough for Bismarck to kill them all.

At the surface, everyone aboard The North Star—an oceangoing scientific and salvage ship, those at the monitors sat stunned, aghast at knowing the expedition was over, doomed to failure. One man had noted the sudden cloud on the radar screen that had engulfed Victory and the three men inside with the suddenness of a storm at sea. At the last possible moment, Fleet, steering the sub, had shouted out the word ‘whale’. Where there was krill, there was whale. He’d most likely—though no one would ever know for certain—cut away from the whale to avoid hitting it only to crash into Bismarck rather than make a soft landing aboard her.

Rob Walker
Titanic 2012

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kindle is King and ahhh...Walker

Finally, I am on a level playing field with all the major writers as I am taking up just as much space on the Kindle Shelf as any other author, no matter the name. Thanks and praise be to Kindle. Honestly, every chance I get, I push the Kindle reader as every time a Kindle dedicated eReader is sold, I hear a Ka-Chinging in my ear. I have posted posiive on Kindle on my facebook, pushed it one twitter and on chat groups as well as my blogs. Definitely, the thing for all of us to do - just as we should all be pushing LITERACY...

The Kindle has reKindled more readig in America than any other device known to man in modern times. Just recently, I pushed on an article that explained that the kinde is the top selling gadget of all gadgets that people WANT - such news is good for us all.

Frankly, after working with some 8 or 9 different publishers and as many agents over the years, guess who has been my best partner in crime and books? AMAZON, yes, and I kiss the ground CEO Bezos walks on as he, more than any publisher on the planet, had done more for WRITERS than anyone anywhere. When did an Indian like me (part, very small part Cherokee) ever get such a great "contract" or Treaty from a white man? A 70/30 split favoring this Mississippi born hybrid? WOW and come on!

Plus, and this is a huge plus with anyone who had gone the rounds with NYC publising -- plus I can't reject myself! I send it off to my publisher, who is  now ME, and I get special treatment - last five book length works, no rejection, no returns to speak of, and no remainders! No 'special events' or 'special sales' for which I earn nada, zip.  No waiting on a vauge, questionable royalty check filled with mysterious bookkeeping that revolves around an antiquated system of withholding author payment on basis of the dreaded RETURNS. No waiting a year and a half to see the book take shape and get 'clothes' and back copy and pricing while you have no say-so in any of it.  Gone are those days.

In point of fact, there are so many pluses to becoming an Indie author that I placed up my last five titles without the bother of taking them again to an agent or a publisher, washing my hands of the entire system and replacing it with me, myself, and I.  A dream come true for this ol' country boy.

Rob Walker
Find me on Twitter, facebook, KDP

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Your website is your calling card, like your business card, so you want it to be as attractive as possible, and when you hear back from people who have visited your site, you want to be responsive, to make changes to it if it makes sense to do so.

My website has a great look thanks to my son's graphic art genius.  Not long ago the folks at First Turning Point reviewed this website, and as a result I had changes made.  Even more recently, having had enough complaints about its opening with sound/music, I squelched the sound and replaced the one youtube with another video that could be turned on and off with a button.

Go to First Turning Point to see the initial review of the site.  Find it here. Let me know what you think of this author's site. Drop me a comment.  Here is where you can find the review.  Below that is the website url itself.