Excerpt: Chapter One
Robert Slocum casually tossed down a shot of whiskey, pursed his lips at the bite, and followed it with a swallow of cold beer. He didn’t drink much, and he hadn’t today. The single shot with its beer chaser was simply part of a routine he always followed before meeting a client. Throwing a few bills on the counter, he nodded at the bartender and walked towards the exit.
It was late, well after midnight, and a mix of drizzle and sleet had just started to fall. No matter, his car was only half a block away. He stepped onto the poorly lit sidewalk, and had gone no more than ten paces when something struck him a savage blow to the back of the head.
He felt himself falling, slowly corkscrewing towards the concrete walkway, as if in slow motion. Powerless to stop himself, he crashed to the ground as darkness slowly engulfed him. The faint perception of something tugging at his clothes, and distant voices, were among his last memories as he slowly lapsed into unconsciousness. Two pairs of practiced hands went through his pockets.
One of the two muggers stood up and beckoned for his partner to follow.
“Let’s go, let’s go!”
“Wait a minute, there’s something else here. Got it!”
He tightly gripped a flat, rectangular object as he dashed towards their car, jumping in the passenger side as his partner slid behind the wheel. The doors slammed and the beat-up Buick pulled away from the curb with a roar. Five minutes later they were well away from the scene of the crime.
“How much we get?”
The driver alternated between watching the road and glancing at his partner.
“Mucho. Looks like over seven hundred. And this thing.”
The Latino sitting in the passenger seat examined the device he had taken off their victim.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know. Something electronic. A calculator.”
The Buick hit a pothole as they passed a local strip mall.
“You’re gonna bust your car. Hey, Chico, we got credit cards, too!”
“Bueno. Let’s head over to the projects and hook up with the guys. With that much cash we can all get off.”
“What about the rest of the stuff?”
“Keep the credit cards. Dump the calculator. We won’t be doing no math.”
The two laughed hilariously as the electronic device was tossed from the car. It flipped end over end, described an arc through the night sky, and buried itself in a snow bank on the side of the road. The car disappeared into the night.
It sat there for a whole day, covered by dirty gray snow, until finally the temperature hit the mid-fifties. As the day warmed, the corner of the dull black device was slowly revealed. Cars raced past on the nearby highway, oblivious to the electronic marvel slowly emerging from the dingy ice. But the marvel was less in the electronics than in the information contained in the unit. To the boy who reached down and plucked it from its frozen grave it was simply a treasure, and he ran gleefully home with his new toy.
From the Author
Every book you write or publish teaches you a lesson. My first book, Palm Sunday, taught me the value of outlining. This lesson emerged after one of my characters played a pivotal role several chapters after his own death.
In addition to assuring that the dead remain dead, outlining lets an author know what they are writing towards. In this regard it can be helpful to first create the story line.
The story line is an actual line, starting at zero and ending at the estimated page count. Write in major events that will take place at various points, then fill in the gaps with other events or milestones. Think about the spacing of events and flow of the story. Once you start writing, this lets you focus on how things will unfold, as opposed to what will happen.
It also helps keep the dead, dead.
Boiled Linseed Oil and Soot
The organized flow of information in the western world can arguably be traced back to the invention of the moveable type printing press in 1439. Its inventor, Johanne Gutenberg, chose a mix of boiled linseed oil and soot as his ink, but we've come a long way since then.
The inexorable flow of data across the centuries has progressed from leaflets, to books, to copper wires, to fiber optics and beyond, but this explosion of communication comes at a price: the organized violation of our privacy.
Communications are now largely Internet based, and database technologies exist that facilitate rapid accumulation and mining of vast quantities of digital information. Social freedom is a democratic imperative, but if privacy of communication is violated on a national scale, that freedom is at risk. How could this happen? Why? Who might be doing this? What happens to our data when we press Send?
As a former computer programmer, author, and citizen, I wrote Palm Sunday for both entertainment and education, but it also comes with a warning: They know what you're saying...
It was the telephone wires that did it. Wherever I went the wires were there, and I found myself constantly wondering if Internet traffic was traversing those wires even as I watched. This in turn led to the question:
where is the Internet?
The wires made me think about the infrastructure, the miles and miles of pathways that data followed from point to point. If data was indeed flowing across the wires as I watched, how hard would it be for someone with the technical know-how to intercept it?
Why would they do it? How, exactly, would they do it?
These questions occurred to me at the same time that I was thinking about writing a novel, and the end result, quite naturally, was a technological thriller about the organized violation of our online privacy, called Palm Sunday.
Title: Palm Sunday
Author: William R. Vitanyi, Jr.
Format: Ebook, Trade Paperback
Page Count: 360
Publisher: Aventine Press (TP),Bayla Publishing (Ebook)
Availability: Kindle, Nook, Online
eBooks from Bayla Publishing
$2.99 for Kindle
In this techno-thriller, a hidden agency is secretly data mining all online communications to create a "societal profile". This snapshot of the national conversation is the result of scooping up virtually everything communicated online by everyone. If you send it, they store it.
The Official Guide
to Office Wellness
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100 office workers pose on, over, and in their desks and cubicles to demonstrate animal-inspired techniques designed to alleviate office maladies. Winner of an IPPY for humor.
Gift one to your favorite office worker!
Secrets of a
$4.99 for Kindle
The mysterious world of massage therapy is the backdrop for this humorous, sizzling story of new love. Angie, a professional massage therapist, encounters Marcus, a writer of mystery novels. Sparks fly as they are tested by dark characters in both their lives. Caution: contains spice! Written by a professional massage therapist.
$2.99 for Kindle
Cubicle humor with a twist. State worker Clint Palmer has spent far too much time in the box, and his cubicle weariness has now been honed to razor sharp indifference. Then one day he learns of a grant that could fund his dream company, but to qualify he must get fired from the State.