Dec 31, 2010

Query Critique #5 - Under The Covers

Under The Covers by Susie

Query:


If you discovered your husband was a criminal, would you try to protect the love of your life, or would you turn him in? Which would you choose if protecting him could cost you your life, but turning him in could cost you your career?

In “Under the Covers,” DEA agent, Clara O’Cleary (deep undercover) strives to dismantle the notorious Irish Outfit, and must keep her professional life secret from her husband, Caleb. But as Clara dives further into her undercover case, Caleb shows heart-wrenching signs of infidelity, straining her once-passion enthralled marriage into a dysfunctional relationship. Clara utilizes her investigative skills and the support and humor of her girlfriends to uncover the truth of his infidelity. But she’s not prepared when she discovers Caleb has more dangerous secrets of his own, jeopardizing her undercover position, and her life. Now she must find how to save her case and keep from being targeted, while saving her marriage in the process.

“Under the Covers” is a completed 70,000 word contemporary romance set in Dallas, where a married, undercover federal agent dodges the dangerous machinations of a vicious crime syndicate, while uncovering the secrets of her husband and rekindle the passion in their estranged relationship. This story is targeted for the Contemporary Romance or Romantic Suspense genres.

I am a new stay-at-home mother after six years in a full-time sales position. I belong to the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group in the Dallas area and have been a long-time enthusiast of romance fiction novels. I am impassioned by and love writing intricate storylines with intriguing twists and realistic characters (including their flaws).

Per your submission guidelines, I have included the first chapter of the manuscript. Please let me know if you would like to see the full manuscript and I will happily send it. I appreciate your time and thank you for considering ‘Under the Covers.’

Redline:

If you discovered your husband was a criminal, would you try to protect the love of your life, or would you turn him in? Which would you choose if protecting him could cost you your life, but turning him in could cost you your career? [I’ve yet to find a literary agent who openly says they like rhetorical questions in a query… so starting yours off with a paragraph of them, probably isn’t the best first impression]

In “Under the Covers,” DEA agent, Clara O’Cleary (deep undercover) strives to dismantle the notorious Irish Outfit[is the outfit called the “Irish Outfit”? this sentence doesn’t exactly make this clear], and must keep her professional life under cover assignment a secret from her husband, Caleb. But as Clara dives further into her undercover case, Caleb shows heart-wrenching signs of infidelity, straining her once-passion enthralled marriage into a dysfunctional relationship. [I don’t know if straining is the right word here, it reads a little oddly.] Clara utilizes her investigative skills and the support and humor of her girlfriends to uncover the truth of his infidelity. [I feel like she’d use her investigative skills to uncover the truth of his infidelity and the support and humor of her girlfriends to cope. It’s not really clear how her girlfriends’ humor is going to help her uncover the truth] But she’s not prepared [I’d start this sentence as : “She’s unprepared…”] when she discovers Caleb has more dangerous secrets of his own, jeopardizing her undercover position, and her life. Now she must find how to save her case and keep from being targeted, while saving her marriage in the process. [I’d suggest rewording this as: “With this discovery, Clara must find a way to save her case and keep her cover, while saving her marriage.” It gets rid of some passive voice, it drops “in the process” which always sounds stilted to me, and it gets rid of “Now” which, as a sentence starter always feels like it comes with a bullet point to me.]

“Under the Covers” is a completed 70,000 word contemporary romance set in Dallas, where a married, undercover federal agent dodges the dangerous machinations of a vicious crime syndicate, while uncovering the secrets of her husband and rekindle the passion in their estranged relationship. This story is targeted for the Contemporary Romance or Romantic Suspense genres. [A lot of this paragraph is redundant. This should just be the stats portion of your query. I’d get rid of most of this and just have it say: “UNDER THE COVERS, my contemporary romance novel, set in Dallas, is complete at 70,000-words. This novel will also appeal to lovers of romantic suspense.” You cut out the continuation of the plot, which shouldn’t be in this paragraph, and you cut out the repeat of contemporary romance. Also, Titles should be in all caps. Quotation marks denote poetry… I believe.]

I am a new stay-at-home mother after six years in a full-time sales position. I belong to the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group in the Dallas area and have been a long-time enthusiast of romance fiction novels. I am impassioned by and love writing intricate storylines with intriguing twists and realistic characters (including their flaws).

Per your submission guidelines, I have included the first chapter of the manuscript. Please let me know if you would like to see the full manuscript and I will happily send it. I appreciate your time and thank you for considering ‘Under the Covers.’ [you never need to tell an agent that sample chapters or fulls are available. Sending them a query does that for you, and you don’t need to repeat the title again. I always suggest ending your query with a simple: Thank you for your time and consideration. Simple is usually better.

Notes:

You use “undercover” a lot in your query. I understand why – being that it’s part of your title… but it gets repetitive quickly and starts to kind of slap you in the face. I’d find ways to switch out that word.

There are some issues with clarity and vagueness here. I’m not sure about the Irish Outifit – is that their name or are they just an Irish outfit… and the rest of it is just kind of unclear as to what exactly is going on. Try to give some actual examples… instead of saying “Caleb has more dangerous secrets of his own” tell us what those secrets are or might be.

I hope this helped. Thanks for participating.

- Amy

Dec 30, 2010

Last Day Of The Year

The phone sat dormant beside her. It rang twice in the last three hours. The fact that she was still there was a joke. What was the point of a receptionist when there was no one to receive?

Clicking through the news articles in the local periodical’s website, she sighed, looking once again at the short hand of the seemingly immobile clock above her. It was officially the longest day of the year… the last day of the year. Company policy dictated she stay. As far as she was concerned the company policy makers could shove it.

Those were just thoughts. She cast a glare to the security camera trained on her. Imagined herself flipping the guards off and returned to scrolling through the articles about new year festivities planned around the city. She could care less. She just wanted to go home, curl up with a good book and some cocoa. The powers-that-be and the fact that she couldn’t afford to lose her job kept her glued to the swivel chair.

Tapping her pen on the cold granite desk, she looked at the clock again.

This day would never end….


Dec 29, 2010

The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott

One of the gifts I got for Christmas this year was a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s The Inheritance. I’ve never read this novel, but I love the story (I’ve owned the made-for-tv-movie version of the story for a while) and I’m excited to start reading today!

Here’s a little background on the novel and it’s author…

Ms. Alcott:



Born in November of 1832, Louisa May Alcott is best known for Little women, a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood in Concord Massachusetts. Alcott never married and was a proponent of women’s suffrage, becoming the first woman to register to vote in Concord. She died of a stroke in Boston in March of 1888 at the age of 65.

The Inheritance:



Louisa May Alcott, wrote this, her first novel, in 1849, she was 17-years old. The novel wasn’t published until 1997. At 147 pages, the novel is not long, but this classic tale gives an insight into Ms. Alcotts unconventional upbringing and how early literary influences shaped her writing.

Blurb from penguin books, 1998 – The Inheritance

“… the captivating tale of Edith Adelon, an impoverished Italian orphan who innocently wields the charms of virtue, beauty, and loyalty to win her true birthright. A long lost letter reveals her secret inheritance, nothing less than the English estate on which she is a paid companion. But Edith is loath to claim it – for more important to her by far are the respect and affection of her wealthy patrons and the love of a new found friend, the kind and noble Lord Percy.”

If you enjoy classic literature as I do and have not yet read this novel, please take the time to find a copy.

Dec 28, 2010

Everybody Loves "Free" Stuff!

I’m giving something away! Isn’t that fantastic?


Here’s the deal.

As long as I get to at least 100 followers by January 31st, I’ll be giving away 1 copy of my novel, Duty and Death, for every 25 followers.

(That's right, you'll get one of these! Girl not included)

Here’s the breakdown:
And so on…

 At the current rate, each of you only needs to get 2 and 1/3 people to follow in order to reach that goal  (I don't know of too many 1/3 people, so I'd shoot for 3 , just in case.)
Now, to be elligable for the prize, all you have to do this:

  • Become a Follower (if you aren't already)
  • Tell your friends to follow me too – so we can get to that required 100!
  • Post a comment on this or any future post until January 31st. (the comment has to include a mention about the contest so I can keep track of you)

Extra Credit: (Make sure you add the address for these so I can make sure you get the extra credit)
  • Dedicating a blog post to this contest
  • Adding my button to your blog
  • Follow me on twitter (@abkeuser)
  • Tweet about the contest!
  • Creating a face book link to this post
  • Follow my FB page (make sure to say “Hi” there)

If you'd like to read the first chapter it's up in the "Novels" tab. Thanks for participating!

As you read this I’m Elbows deep in ________.

This is the normal-ish sequence of writing a book.

1. Come up with concept
2. Do a little research and start writing
3. Write and Write and Write
4. Begin to hate novel
5. Love novel again
6. Finish first draft
7. Let novel sit a while (usually a month for me)
8. Content edit
9. Send to editor
10. Input editor’s changes
11. Send to betas

Today we’re going to talk about step #8. Content Edits.

I’m about 2/3rd’s done with my content edit of novel #5. Sometimes I really hate this step. Its where you find and then fill all the little holes you’ve left. Catch any grammatical or spelling errors you can find and just generally tighten the story/de-confuse-ify it. (Just ignore my made up words)

At 71,000-words, this is the shortest novel I’ve ever written. I wrote it in 20 days. That was how I spent August 2010, my own personal WriMo. Usually my content edit is 90% cutting and 10% adding. This time around, I’ve only cut a few things… but it also feels like I’ve been adding less too.

I’m trying to decide if that’s because I’ve gotten better at keeping away from the things that aren’t necessary to the storyline… or if it’s because this novel doesn’t actually have enough of a plot to expand on.

Don’t get me wrong, 71,000-words is a perfectly acceptable length for a novel. I’m just used to my 90,000-word+ first drafts that it’s a bit awkward for me.

Do you have a specific order in which your novel writing progresses? Is there a word count at which you feel more comfortable?

Dec 27, 2010

Jen Daiker Is Having A Contest

Jen Daiker is a bit of a wildcard in the blog world.




January 20th will be her 1 year blog-o-versary, and she’s already past 1000 followers. How does she do it?

Well, I’m not exactly sure, but the point is. She’s over a thousand followers and that means she’s giving away free stuff. You have a chance to win a gift pack (including either, Books, bookmarks, magnets, etc. or Bath salts, soaps, candles, lotions, galore)

Head over to her blog for the rules, and join in on the fun.

Lulu - What Fun You Are!

As I mentioned last week, I recently printed out a bound copy of my novel for my dear mother for Christmas. I'm sure most of you can imagine how exciting it is to have a copy of your novel (that actually feels like a novel) in your  hands.

Because of this, I've decided that I'm going to make myself a bound copy of the novels I've "finished" for my own reading pleasure and occasionally as a loaner if someone wants to read one of them (sorry, that only applies to phoenix residents).

So I went to start formatting on Lulu.com, because its the quickest and easiest way to get your mss formatted correctly for printing at ASU. But the best part of this service is making your cover. I have to tell you... this is so much fun. So I spent a few hours reformatting Duty and Death... because I'm the type of person who has to see it in nearly every Font to make sure the one I've got is the perfect one... luckily, there weren't too terribly many to choose from.

So after a few days of finagling... here are the covers for my first 3 "finished" novels*.



(Duty and Death - YA Fantasy Intrigue)

(Forfeit Souls - YA Urban Fantasy)

(For the Birds - YA Epic Fantasy)


*(None of these novels are published, nor are they currently available for purchase.)

So, what do you think?

Dec 24, 2010

Query Critique #4 - Spark

Spark by Darcy


Query:

Dear Ms. Agent:

Pretending her father’s disappearance hasn’t left a gaping hole is becoming as automatic as breathing to seventeen-year-old Ember Carroway, but breathing is about to get tougher than rawhide with the emergence of two magnetic love interests, and the revelation of her own mystical ancestry.

Should dodging cupid’s arrow become an Olympic sport, Ember gets the gold. That is, until mysterious newcomer Cade arrives, holding all the allure of a Krispy Kreme to a Weight Watchers disciple. Then there’s sexy, uncomplicated Kai, whose attention getting tactics range from mud wrestling to an accidental boob grab. All this pales in comparison to the shocking discovery that the two opposites share a common bond—they are Elementals.

Ironically, so is Ember. Which proved to be as surprising as her first period.

Elementals are humans of Nymphi descent possessing rare gifts to manipulate earthly elements. As Light Bearers, Ember and Kai have the ability to heal by channeling life energy, while Cade’s talents seem as ambiguous as his past. The trio must work together to stay alive and avoid eternal damnation from the hungry creatures that draw near. Ember may just have a shot “out” of hell if she can survive a murder of maniacal crows, an amnesia-inducing forest, and the ghastly Depascors bent on siphoning her life. The phrase “kiss of death” has never been so literal.

SPARK is a YA paranormal romance with dollops of humor completed at 85,000 words. This novel will appeal to those enjoying the imaginative, romantic, and often dangerous worlds of Melissa Marr and Becca Fitzpatrick.

I am a member of the RWA. I would be delighted to provide a full or partial manuscript upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Redline:

Dear Ms. Agent:, [This is a letter, you shouldn’t use a colon here.]

Pretending her father’s disappearance hasn’t left a gaping hole is becoming as automatic as breathing to seventeen-year-old Ember Carroway, but breathing is about to get tougher than rawhide with the emergence of two magnetic love interests, and the revelation of her own mystical ancestry. [This is a long sentence – you can ask anyone who knows my writing, I love using long sentences – but I think you should break it up a little. That being said, “a gaping hole” is a bit common and marginally vague in this use. Later on you talk about her dodging cupids arrow… perhaps you could say “hasn’t torn her heart in two” or something to that effect. I’m assuming that her father’s disappearance (which I read as abandonment) has been the reason that she’s standoffish about relationships. Also, I don’t like automatic, maybe you could use something synonymous that isn’t such a choppy word. I like the connotation you get with rawhide, but I think that “tougher than rawhide” is an awkward use. I don’t think of rawhide as tough, I think of it as hard (and slobbery when we’re talking about a dog treat) and I don’t get difficulty from rawhide… what if you changed it to something like “but breathing is about to get tougher than chewing through rawhide with the emergence…”?]

Should dodging cupid’s arrow become an Olympic sport, Ember gets the gold. [This sentence structure feels awkward to me. Mostly because you’ve got something that is hypothetical “should dodging… become … Olympic sport,” followed by something that does happen “Ember gets the gold.”This could be fixed by saying “Ember would get the gold.”] That is, until mysterious newcomer Cade arrives, holding all the allure of a Krispy Kreme to a Weight Watchers disciple. Then there’s sexy, uncomplicated Kai, whose attention getting tactics range from mud wrestling to an accidental boob grab. [uncomplicated, mud wrestling, and accidental boob grab, don’t really go together in my opinion. The latter two sound a little like complications to me.] All this pales in comparison [I’m not really getting the connection to the above things paling… I might change that to “She is shocked to discover…”] to the shocking discovery that the two opposites[See my notes for this] share a common bond—they are Elementals.

Ironically, so is Ember. Which proved to be as surprising as her first period. [Okay… this has a bit of an eew factor. Unless there was something remarkably surprising about her first period (which should be noted, if there is) I might find something else to put here.]

Elementals are humans of Nymphi descent possessing rare gifts to manipulate earthly elements. [This sentence seems like a disclaimer. If you feel this is really necessary, I’d reword it to sound less clinical, but if you’re okay with ditching it, I’d suggest doing that and simply starting the next sentence with, “As Light Bearer Elementals.] As Light Bearers, Ember and Kai have the ability to heal by channeling life energy, while Cade’s talents seem as ambiguous as his past. [See notes] The trio must work together to stay alive and avoid eternal damnation from the hungry creatures that draw near. [I don’t really get what pulls the three together or what is drawing these “hungry creatures.”] Ember may just have a shot “out” of hell [is she in hell? Wouldn’t that technically mean she’s dead? You might want to clarify this.] if she can survive a murder of maniacal crows [Are the crows being murdered? Are you suggesting that a group of crows is called a murder? Should this be “survive being murdered by maniacal crows?], an amnesia-inducing forest, and the ghastly Depascors bent on siphoning her life. [I have to say… with this sentence and the next, the Depascors seem a little like Dementors.] The phrase “kiss of death” has never been so literal.

SPARK is a YA paranormal romance with dollops of humor completed at 85,000 -words. This novel will appeal to those enjoying the imaginative, romantic, and often dangerous worlds of Melissa Marr and Becca Fitzpatrick. [I’d leave off the dollops of humor. Your query doesn’t really point to the mss being humorous, and I’d let the agent decide for themselves if they think it’s funny after they’ve requested a partial.]

I am a member of the RWA. I would be delighted to provide a full or partial manuscript upon request.

[I always suggest to make this its own, stand alone sentence.]Thank you for your time and consideration.

Notes:

The number one thing that I see as a problem with this query is that I have no real sense of plot. What is the conflict? Where does the story begin, what is the problem and how are they going to solve it? Those three questions need to be answered in order for this query to be clear.

The name, Ember, seems a little strange (in an earlier query you make it seem as though her mother knows... wouldnt she be a fire elemental with a name like this?) Also, Light is not technically an element. Just sayin'

“…the two opposites...” – in the paragraph this sentence ends, you give us a brief description of both Cade and Kai (each time I type/read these names together I go to Cobra Kai)… but there’s nothing in those descriptions that screams opposites to me. They’re Elementals… Give us a hint to their different traits in how they are… You say that Kai is a “Light Bearer,” is he also bright… comforting… extremely pasty? Cade’s ambiguous talent could be hinted at too (I’m going to pretend he’s a fire elemental for my purposes) does he have hot, passionate embrace that threatens to melt her? Is he hot headed? I could go on…

“the ability to heal by channeling life energy” – from this query I don’t understand how the ability to manipulate light is conducive to healing through channeling life energy. Perhaps you could explain that a little… or, you could leave that part out of the query and simply designate them as light bearers… since this ability isn’t brought up in the query again.

Dec 23, 2010

Charity Case


For this week’s RWH post I decided to do a little experiment, and I need all of your help.
This week’s prompt is Charity. So I guess you could call me a charity case.
I’m posting the first sentence (okay, it’s two, but one of them is only a sentence) and then I’d like you all to continue adding to it. I’ll pop in to add to it from time to time too!
Hopefully this doesn’t go horribly wrong, I’m hoping my experiment is a success!
********
Charity?
To Gina, Charity meant not scarfing down all the rum balls at the mandatory company Christmas party.

Dec 22, 2010

The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Not S. Morgenstern



(THIS IS NOT A REVIEW)

Blurb: What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince in the world – and he turns out to be a son-of-a-bitch?

First Line: The year Buttercup was born, the most beautiful girl in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette.

We’ve all watched the movie.


If you haven’t, go buy it now. Don’t rent. Own.

I remember being in stitches as I watched this the hilarious movie in my homeroom in middle school. And I still love it today. There’s just something about the line, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die” that will forever be with me.

But I have to tell you. I’m only 120 pages into the novel and I already like it more than the movie.

No, you don’t actually get the little rhyming scene between Fezzik, Inigo and Vizzini, the Sicilian, but I think the story is better in this format. I do suggest that any of you who haven’t read this, and have time, put this on your to-read pile.

A word of warning. Because William Goldman wrote this as though he was abridging the work of S. Morgenstern, there is a rather lengthy (33 pages in my copy - from 1978) introduction that is not marked as such. Having read it, I can tell you that it is entirely skiable. I’d jump ahead to Chapter 1 – The Bride.


Dec 21, 2010

Just Because It’s Fiction Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Be Real

Research.

Some authors do it (J. K. Rowling owned research), and some don’t. Some genres require more of it than others (Historical fiction demands it), and some don’t.

It’s fiction



So… if it’s invented, why do you need to make sure things are accurate?

Because the human brain is a silly organ, that’s why!

The point of a good book is to pull the reader out of their own world and in to yours, for however brief a time. But certain things will push them out of your world while they’re reading and telling them that a person contracted Lyme disease from drinking untreated water and go on to describe what is basically Giardia, there are undoubtedly going to be people who think you’re either lazy or a little low on the IQ scale. Neither of which you want.

My advice on research is this:

The internet is your friend. But it can also be your foe. Make sure you are looking at reliable sites and if you’re not sure they’re right, look for a second source to confirm it.

When should you research?

I think this depends on you. I do my research when it’s needed.

For instance, I wrote a graveyard scene in the second novel I wrote and didn’t do a lick of research. Why? Because I knew the graveyard I put in the book extremely well. It’s the graveyard that abuts my grandmothers farm, it’s where my grandfather is buried and I’ve been there a bazillion times. I didn’t need to research it, because I already knew it.


I believe the grave at the bottom of the picture is my grandfathers, but I'm not sure because of the angle.

In the same novel, I wrote about a house that doesn’t actually exist in the real world, but I didn’t let that keep me from making the house realistic. I knew the age I wanted the house to be and so I went looking for stately English manors that were the right age. I found what I was looking for in the Ham House. I did this after I’d written the house, so the few things I’d gotten wrong were changed in the next edit.




When I knew that I’d be writing about the Dead Sea, I did a bunch of research on it before I wrote anything. A lot of that research wasn’t added to the novel, but it helped me to write a realistic hyper-saline lake.



Do you research at a specific time in your writing process?

Dec 20, 2010

Lulu, HP, & ASU an Awesome Partnership

My mother goes through published novels with a red pen. It is one of the reasons she's edited all of my novels. (The other is because its free - can't beat that pricing.) And for Christmas, I decided I'd take advantage of a program at ASU to give her a bound copy of one of my novels.

In the ASU Bookstore, there's a nifty little service called "Sun Devil On Demand." It's primary function is to cut the cost of textbooks. HP partnered with ASU, Portland State University, (someplace in Kansas that means nothing to me) and Lulu to make on demand printing not so scary.

I did a lot of research on this before I went in, because I didn't want to end up with an ISBN. Especially as my plan was to only print one copy.... How would that look later if an agent or publisher looked for ISBNs under my name and found that I had sold one copy of a novel? Not good.

But there is no ISBN unless you request one. So I can breath a heavy sigh of relief over that one.

I went down to ASU on Friday and talked to the guys who run the press. The HP technitian  (who'd been away from home for 16 weeks to make sure that nothing went awry with the machinery) was from Oregon and we shared a laugh over the "Fog" warning that had been put out that morning. I had some issues with my formatting (gimme a break, this was my first time) but we eventually got it printed off, and...

I love it.

I have to admit that I was a little worried that the cover image would be all gnarly or something would just be off about it. And, though it is a little big (You get a textbook sized novel) I was a little sad that I didnt get to keep it for myself.




But I'm not too depressed. In January I have plans to make myself copies of the four I've "finished" so far so that I can potentially loan them out. We shall see.
Until then, the only bound copy in existance is currently in southern Oregon...

Dec 17, 2010

Query Critique #3 - Fractured

Fractured by Brandi

Query:

Dear Mrs. Agent,


When love hurts more than it helps, Meredith must walk away the man who abuses her as well as the one who helped piece together her heart. Unfortunately for her, the two are one and the same.

Spiraling from the loss of her beloved father, seventeen-year-old Meredith runs to college, determined to find a way out of despair. It isn’t until she meets Kaden that she feels hope. They spend long hours together, and she finds herself opening up to him in a way she never thought possible.

It isn’t until she finds out she is pregnant that she takes a hard look at her life and realizes things must change. She must make decisions for herself as well as her unborn baby. With any luck, she will come out stronger and learn who she really is.

FRACTURED is a 53,000 word contemporary young adult novel. It will appeal to readers of Cupala’s TELL ME A SECRET and Dessen’s DREAMLAND.

While FRACTURED is a fictional story, having been in an abusive relationship, part of Meredith’s journey was my own.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Redline:


Dear Mrs. Agent, [You should always use “Ms.” with female agents. Mrs. is appropriate if they are married… but it’s best not to use it and look like you’re assuming.]

When love hurts more than it helps, Meredith must walk away the man who abuses her as well as the one who helped piece together her heart. Unfortunately for her, the two are one and the same. [I’m not loving this line. It almost feels like you’re giving away the climax for me and I don’t really feel the need to read on. I would keep “Love hurts more than it helps” or some variation on that and work it into the query somewhere else, but you touch on everything else in this in the rest of your query. You can leave it all out.]

Spiraling [I think I know what you’re trying for with this verbage, but it’s not working in the sentence. It only serves to provide a spot lacking in clarity. If she’s depressed you can say “Spiraling into depression from the loss…” or modify it by the manner in which she’s spiraling, but I’d definitely change that.] from the loss of her beloved father, seventeen-year-old Meredith runs to college [the way you’ve put this makes me feel like she’s physically running to college right after her father’s funeral. You could say something like “escaping into academia, Meredith plunges herself into undergraduate life], determined to find a way out of despair. It isn’t until she meets Kaden that she feels hope. [Why? Give us some of his allure in this sentence, is he remarkably older? Is he devilishly handsome? Is he the professor who probably shouldn’t be “consoling” Meredith in that way? Why do we care about Kaden? (We don’t have to like him to care about him as a character.)] They spend long hours together, and she finds herself opening up to him in a way she never thought possible. [This is remarkably vague. Take the space you gain by ditching the top paragraph and give us examples, tell us a little about what makes her open up? It will give us both an insight into Meredith and Kaden.]

[I think that this is the best place to hit us (no pun intended there, honestly) with the abuse. We’re just settling into how in love they seem to be and then “Whammo,” everything is not as it seems.] It isn’t until [This is the second time in this very brief query that you’ve used this sentence starter, it becomes redundant in this small of a space. Perhaps change it to a simple “When”] she finds out she is pregnant that she takes a hard look at her life and realizes things must change. [a little vague again. Finding out she’s pregnant works great, but then “a hard look at her life” and “realizes things must change” they’re just a bit on the vague side, maybe you could say, “…she is pregnant that the bruise freckling he body take on a new color and she decides it has to stop.”] She must make decisions for herself as well as her unborn baby. [you could quantify how hard this decision is and the fact that she’s choosing to do it for her baby, here. I think it would add some more life to your character.] With any luck, she will come out stronger and learn who she really is. [I don’t like this. We get to this point and this final sentence leaves me feeling as though you haven’t actually written the novel. The way you’ve worded it is the real problem… it’s almost like you’re asking us if we think it’s going to happen.]

FRACTURED is a 53,000-word contemporary young adult novel. It will appeal to readers of Cupala’s TELL ME A SECRET and Dessen’s DREAMLAND. [I don’t know the specific rules on formatting for other people’s titles in your query, but I wouldn’t put them in all caps. Your title should be the only think in all caps. You should qualify these other titles though. Why would people who liked these novels like yours? Even if it’s obvious, you’ll want to put it in so that the agent doesn’t think you’re simply pulling random titles.]

While FRACTURED this is a fictional story, having been in an abusive relationship, part of Meredith’s journey was my own. [I might consider putting this in the above paragraph, between those two sentences.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Notes:



Fractured is the title of a novel written by Karin Slaughter, published in 2008. It’s a crime novel, but I thought I’d mention its existence to you, in case you wanted to consider changing it because of that.


Your query is short, which isn’t usually a bad thing, but in this case, you’re missing a lot of details and we don’t get a sense of the story or the characters. If you can add more detail, I don’t think that the length is going to be an issue.


I’m confused by where your story starts when I read this… What is the catalyst? The thing that starts the whole story rolling. Do we read her father’s death or is that back story. If it’s backstory, it’s fine as a footnote like it is now. Do we spend half of the novel in the midst of being battered? Or do we start at the lines on the pregnancy test. What gets this ball rolling? Make it clear.

I think that with a few tweaks and some more details, your query will be ready to go.



Thanks for participating!

- Amy

Dec 16, 2010

The Tradition That Trumps All Others


It’s Thursday and we all know what that means! RWH Day!





Okay, maybe that was a bit too enthusiastic. I’m not sure anyone reading this on a Thursday is all that enthusiastic about it.


Anywho, this week’s prompt was the word Tradition or this photo:








Or both. I started with just the photo and ended up moving on to do them both.


The Tradition That Trumps All Others

Standing next to the blazing wood furnace, Janice placed the last of the ornaments with special care, they were Bill’s mother’s and he would raise hell if they weren’t treated with the utmost of respect. He loved that woman. Why, Janice would never be able to guess, she was as rude as an ox and as needy as a nursing calf.


But this was the one time of the year Janice had to put up with her. She could stand three days. Couldn’t she?


As the gentle chime of the doorbell sounded, Bill rushed for the front door, leaving his mug to ring the coffee table. Janice nervously adjusted the fresh spruce garland that lay unassumingly across the mantle and straightened the stockings for the twelfth time. Bill’s mother, Freda, always found something wrong with the d├ęcor.


“Stop fussing Billy, I’m not so old that I can’t manage on my own.” Freda’s jingle bell jewelry and stretch velour pantsuit brought the same stomach twisting nausea Janice felt every year at Christmas.


“I do wish you would have let me get you, the roads are terrible tonight,” Bill said as he removed Freda’s coat and hung it on the hall tree.


Freda’s laugh sent a terrified shiver up Janice’s back as the hand, festooned with two inch long fake nails reached out to squeeze Bill’s arm.


“I think a professional driver is a bit better at dealing with this blizzard than you are.”Freda pulled her son into their normal embrace, the hunched, old woman reaching only to her son’s navel. She pushed him away and said, “Let me look at you.”


It was one of the many odd traditions that came with Freda. She would inspect Bill, find his attire sufficient, his color acceptable and then tell him I wasn’t feeding him enough. Then her attention turned to me.


“Janice, dear, how are you?”


This was not an omen. It didn’t mean that things had changed. She always worked her way up – to the point that I was ready to kill her – gradually.


“I’m well, Freda. I hope your flight was pleasant.” The smile plastered on Janice’s face was as cakey as the powder piled on hers.


“You know how flying is, or, you would, if you ever decided to come see me….” She looked disapprovingly at the tree. “But one can’t expect you to. I’ve given up all of my expectations for you. I gave that up the day I realized you weren’t going to give me a grandson.” She hissed the words low enough that Bill, who had settled back into his recliner, couldn’t hear her.


Janice felt the tightening in her chest, the lump growing in her throat. “Would you like some tea? We have peppermint, Lady Grey, and Chamomile.”


Freda’s scrutinizing eyes never left the tree. Her mouth turned down in disappointment as she plucked one of her ornaments from the boughs and moved it to another. “Oh no, dear. I don’t want to be any trouble. Besides, I only drink green tea anymore. You know that.”


Escaping to the kitchen, Janice pulled the mug from the cupboard and let it clink heavily against the granite countertop. It had begun: the tradition that trumped all others. She hated Christmas.










Dec 15, 2010

Why You Don’t Get Much of Anything Today

(This picture is from back in highschool, probably.... 7 years ago? Wow...)


My mom flew into town yesterday morning and so I’ve taken the rest of the week off to spend time with her and my brother and his family up in Anthem, so this is all you get today.

Tomorrow I’ll post this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt and Friday will see another Query.

Have a nice day

Dec 14, 2010

The Elusive Chipalope!

We stopped on Confusion Hill, the totem pole of circus bears waving their pennants guided us in. I walked through the gift shop, with that I have to pee wiggle. I squirmed past the jumble of carved Eagles, Bears and Moose stacked out back, barely noticing the fun-house mirror that made my hips look as though I’d gained 300 pounds in two steps.

The bathroom was sufficient, tough reminiscent of a campground. I didn’t sit on the seat.

And when I emerged, I took in the spectacle around me in what could only be described as curious awe. The proprietor, a wrinkled old maid, hobbled toward me, an expectant smile deepening the crevices around her face.

As I wait for Earl to return from the men’s side of the toilet hut, I smile as she tells me about the history of her establishment, the few weddings they’ve had their, the one, unfortunate accident and death, and the properties draw for chipalopes.

When the door opens and Earl comes towards us, the woman looks nervous. She chatters on about the chipalopes more before encouraging us to explore. We had no sooner turned our backs when I hear a strange chanting and turn just in time to see the old woman waving a knobby finger at us.

I let out a panicked squeak as my arms begin to sprout caramel colored hair and bone-like protrusions grow from the top of my head. In mere moments I’m disoriented on the ground. Earl is next to me and I turn to him for comfort.

To my horror, I realize the witch has turned us into the very chipalopes she spoke of!


(Note: While we did go to Confusion Hill, no humans were harmed in the making of the trip. We actually didnt even see anyone who worked there. The place seemed deserted.)

Dec 13, 2010

AmNo… Not Quite NaNo


I've written a few hundred thousand words.... Some of those thousands of words have come quickly and some have drudged on like nobody's business. So now I'm getting to work on my In-a-month-novel.

I did not participate in NaNoWriMo this year (I haven’t ever participated… but that’s not the point). I thought about participating for about 10 minutes and then decided, “Nah.” And here’s why.

From August 10th to September 9th, I wrote a 75,000-word rough draft of my 5th novel. If you know me, you know that I don’t write on weekends, so I wrote that draft in 20 days. Because I know that I have the discipline and the ability to write 50,000-words in 30 days, I chose instead to work on revising another project instead.

But I’ve been ignoring Novel #5 for ages now – I’ve barely looked at it since September. So I feel that I can commiserate with anyone who’s getting into the revisions of their NaNo piece, because I’m starting in on revising my AmNo (I think I might roll with that….)

When I first started writing, way back in 2006, the Idea of NaNo was nigh unfathomable to me… now the part of NaNo that takes place in November is not so daunting… it’s what comes after. As I sit here, looking at #5 and thinking to myself what a pain it’s going to be to do a content edit of such a quickly written novel, I can’t help but feel for anyone else going through the same thing.

So, to anyone who completed, or participated in, NaNoWriMo 13 days ago… I raise my red pen to you. Good Luck.

Time to dig in…

Dec 10, 2010

Query Critique #2 - The Lightning Path

The Lightning Path by Meghan

Query:


Dear Agent

Lily Bryant goes for a walk to a secluded meadow after work one evening, and meets an opinionated dragon named Skade. The two of them are equally surprised by the chance meeting, even though Skade is a lot more interested in humans in than she is in her own species. Her encounter with Skade awakens within Lily her innate magical gift, involuntarily suppressed since the deaths of her parents. Nervous and exhilarated after her conversation with Skade, Lily runs, literally, into Patrick Murray. He recognizes here for what she is – after all, he’s a clandestine sorcerer, too, with a particular talent for creating illusions.

Patrick helps Lily practice using her gift, and though she has a lot to learn, she’s glad her uncommon skills put them on equal footing. Patrick is defensive about his mysterious past, but a strong mutual attraction draws him and Lily together. As she embraces her new identity as an enchantress, Lily struggles to balance her job and her relationship with her family against the secret twist her life has taken. She comes to rely on Skade’s blunt wisdom, enjoying friendship with the prickly dragon.

The promise of happiness shatters when they meet Xander, an ambitious and dangerous sorcerer. His goals to rule the dragons and claim their hoards of treasure threaten the trio’s unlikely friendship, and Skade’s life. The precarious situation strengthens Lily and Patrick’s relationship, and their desire to keep each other safe increases the intensity between them. With Patrick’s support, Lily focuses all her energy on mastering her adaptable powers, determined to protect Skade, and the extraordinary new life she has discovered.

THE LIGHTNING PATH is a YA urban fantasy romance. It is complete at 99,000 words. Set in a fictional small town against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, THE LIGHTNING PATH is a stand alone novel with series potential. I hope it will appeal to you as someone who represents urban fantasy and young adult fiction.

In 2004, my short story was a winning submission for the Grant MacEwan Young Writer’s Scholarship. I am a volunteer writer for an online entertainment magazine called Press+1. I have an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies.

Thank you for considering THE LIGHTNING PATH.

Best regards,

Meghan



Redline:

Dear Agent,

Lily Bryant goes for a walk to a secluded meadow after work one evening, and meets an opinionated dragon named Skade. The two of them are equally surprised by the chance meeting, even though Skade is a lot more interested in humans in than she is in her own species. [This sentence is awkward to me, I can imagine that Lily is pretty interested in dragons, having (I assume) just found out that they exist. So saying that Skade is more interested in humans than Lily is isn’t a big leap, but it completely fails to answer the question of how she’s reacting to the dragon.] Her encounter with Skade awakens within [this wording is a little convoluted. Perhaps you could say, “Her encounter with Skade awakens Lily’s innate magical…”] Lily her innate magical gift [you might want to qualify this… what is the gift?], involuntarily suppressed since the deaths of her parents. Nervous and exhilarated after her conversation with Skade, Lily runs, literally, into Patrick Murray. [ I can see what you’re going for with “…Lily runs, literally, into…” but the way it’s set up makes the sentence very choppy. Also, I know someone named Patrick Murray in real life, his appearance here made me laugh.] He recognizes here for what she is – after all, he’s a clandestine sorcerer, too, with a particular talent for creating illusions. [This isn’t a very intriguing way to start your query. It reads like instructions. You want this paragraph to hook your reader (aka: the agent) and push them into the query. You might want to consider:


“Lily Bryant is just like every other student who’s graduated from high school: she has no idea where he life is headed. When a meandering walk leads her to a secluded meadow, the last thing she expects is to encounter a bossy dragon named Skade. Through interacting with Skade, the innate magical gift of (levitation? Invisibility? Turning pea soup into tomato soup?), suppressed since her parents (mysterious accident? double suicide? gruesome murder?) reawakens in her.


“Nervous and exhilarated, Lily runs home as dusk settles. In her haste, she crashes into Patrick Murray (the creepy kid from last year’s photography class?). A clandestine sorcerer himself, with a talent for creating illusions, Patrick knows what lily is the moment their hands touch.”


Now… I haven’t read your novel, obviously, so I’m making wild guesses there… but I hope that some of these suggestions will help get you thinking in a different direction.]

Patrick helps Lily practice using her gift, and though she has a lot to learn, she’s glad her uncommon skills put them on equal footing. Patrick is defensive about his mysterious past, but a strong mutual attraction draws him and Lily together. [These first two sentences are vary generalized. At this point you still haven’t told us what her “gift is,” so we can’t be sure what about them is uncommon. And “a strong mutual attraction” isn’t particularly alluring… you’re tagging the novel as a romance, “mutual attraction” isn’t necessarily what I’d consider to be a romantic descriptor. Give us some details.] As she embraces her new identity as an enchantress, Lily struggles to balance her job and her relationship with her family against the secret twist her life has taken. [The wording of this sentence is a little off. I think it’s the “… and her relationship with her family…” I would rewrite this as “Embracing her new identity as an enchantress, Lilly struggles to balance her old life with the magic threatening to seep into her everyday.”] She comes to rely on Skade’s blunt wisdom, enjoying friendship with the prickly dragon. [This sentence seems just tacked on… we haven’t heard about Skade since the first paragraph and then BAM! Dragon in the house! Also, “prickly dragon” brings up a tactile image in my head… if you’re going for something along the lines of “spiky” keep it… if you’re wanting something more like “crude” or “brusque” you might want to choose a synonym with a less touchy-feely connotation.]

The promise of happiness [What promise of happiness?] shatters when they meet Xander, an ambitious and dangerous sorcerer. His goals [“goals” seems like an understatement if we’re talking about a “dangerous” sorcerer… perhaps “His unrelenting desire”?] to rule the dragons and claim their hoards of treasure threatens the trio’s unlikely friendship, and Skade’s life. [This is the first time that you point out that Patrick and Skade even really know of each other’s existence. I would try to work that in to one of the above paragraphs if you’re going to keep it here] Their precarious situation strengthens Lily and Patrick’s relationship,[which we still don’t have a very good idea of] and their desire to keep each other safe increases the intensity between them. [You’re telling us about this intensity without ever showing it to us. If you want the agent to buy a fantasy romance, you’re going to have to give them both genres in the query.] With Patrick’s support [support is a non-physical word for me, I read it and I think moral support. If this isn’t what you’re going for, I’d pick a stronger word than support.], Lily focuses all her energy on mastering her adaptable powers, [once again, these powers are a great mystery] determined to protect Skade, and the extraordinary new life she has discovered.

THE LIGHTNING PATH is a YA urban fantasy romance romantic urban fantasy. It is complete at 99,000 words. Set in a fictional small town against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, THE LIGHTNING PATH is a stand alone novel with series potential. [#1. “Set in a fictional small town” isn’t necessary.. #2, I wouldn’t put that it’s a stand alone novel with series potential. Query the novel you’ve written and after you receive an offer discuss whether or not the agent also sees the potential for a series – that might be something to help you decide in the event that you have multiple offers. I would rewrite this, “Complete at 99,000-words, my novel is set in a small town nestled amid the Rocky Mountains.”] I hope it will appeal to you as someone who represents urban fantasy and young adult fiction. [I think you can cut this too… it’s not a personalized reason why you think they would like it, so it’s not necessary.]

In 2004, my short story was a winning submission for the Grant MacEwan Young Writer’s Scholarship. I am a volunteer writer for an online entertainment magazine called Press+1. I have an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies.

Thank you for considering THE LIGHTNING PATH. your time and consideration. [You don’t need to repeat your novel title.]



Notes:


Your title: I know that people are attached to titles, but I would honestly suggest that you change yours. #1. It is way too close to “The Lightning Thief.” And with the popularity that series has seen, there is a possibility that an agent or their assistant reading the title of your book might see it as someone trying to cash in on the name similarity even though your story is nothing like the story presented in “The Lightning Thief.” #2. There is no connection between the title and the novel… I don’t know how it relates to the story you’re trying to tell. So… unless there is a reason you absolutely can’t change it, I would. And if you absolutely can’t change it… find a way to make the query relate to the title.

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Dec 9, 2010

A Lost Moment Between Clarke And April

This week’s prompt from the Red Writing Hood is “first love.”




Write a short first-person story about your first love, or write a short fiction piece about a character’s first love.


I’ve chosen the second option. This is an excerpt that was removed from my first novel, and will likely never find a place in that novel or any subsequent novels hereafter. It is a scene involving two characters who, while they are not the main focus of the novel and subsequent story lines, play vital roles in the world that my MC’s inhabit. I hope you enjoy.

***

April emerged from the closet in her bed clothes, walking toward the sumptuously dressed bed.

“So, you’ve decided where you’re going to sleep, I see. Should I think it best if I sleep here on the floor?” Clarke turned from the flickering fire to gaze at her, a questioning hope filled his deep brown eyes.

With a smile, she crawled between the thick duvet and satin sheets and patted the bed beside her. “I am willing to share the bed. You’ve proven yourself trustworthy. I don’t expect you’ll attempt anything tonight.”

As Clarke climbed into the bed, April looked at him with a faint smile, her red curls flowing about on the pillow behind her head. “Alright then,” she said, a smile crinkling the edges of her eyes. “Tell me of one of your adventures.”

“What would you like to hear? I could not qualify any as a favorite so please, do not ask me to choose.”

She pondered that, searching the tanned lines of his face. “Tell me the thing that scared you the most in all your travels.”

Pausing a while longer than a moment, he stared at her, struggling with the truth he was about to tell. Leaning against the plushly upholstered headboard, he watched her to gauge her reactions throughout his recounting.

“Three years ago, the prince and I were forced to sit through the dreadfully dull coming out party for the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Mercer…”

“That doesn’t sound like a very scary adventure. In fact, it doesn’t sound like an adventure at all.” She pushed her lip out in a pout. “I was at that party and nothing that happened that night could be deemed ‘adventurous.’”

“On the contrary, it was one of the scariest nights of my life, I had to dance at least once that evening and if you will remember, I am not the best at dancing.”

Realization swept across her face. “I’d forgotten.” The questioning look returned to her face. “I had wondered why you would dance with me…” and then never speak to me again.

“You did smile at me.”

The laughing smile covering Clarke’s face tugged at the corners of April’s mouth. “Was that when you decided you favored me?”

Nodding, Clarke looked away. “As much as I would have liked to steal you away from the queen right then, I was Thomas’s companion and could not leave his service until he asked me to. So I waited, everyday falling more in love with you. It was easier than breathing.”

“You have been waiting three years… for me?” April gently rested her hand on his shoulder, pulling his face back to her. “How could you be sure that no one else would swoop in and steal me away from you?”

“I must admit. I wasn’t simply waiting. I’ve been the queen’s slave these past three years.”

“So, you did buy me after all?” April asked, looking hurt in the way all women can look hurt simply to goad a man.

Cupping her face in his hands, Clarke’s eyes burned into hers. “I would have traded my title for you, if needed.”

Staring back at him, April prayed that she did not look as terrified as she was. She said the only thing she could think of. “One has to hope that even the most unorthodox of pairs can be happy together.”

He let go of her and sunk back into the tufts behind him. “I truly hope that you will someday feel the way that I feel about you.”

He leaned over and blew out the one remaining candle. A gentle sigh filling the cavernous room as he rolled over and closed his eyes.

April stared at the man who could have chosen any woman in the country, the man who waited three years specifically for her. How could she deny a love as lasting as that? She leaned over and gently kissed the corner of his mouth. “It may not be as far distant as you think.”

Settling into the overstuffed pillow, April’s life flashed before her eyes, all of the events that lead her to this point, the secret that would make her worthy of his love. It was a secret she didn’t know how to tell.

The still, dark room was utterly peaceful in its silence, but April’s eyes would not shut.




*****

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Duty and Death You can click here, or find it in the Novels tab.

Dec 8, 2010

A Poem Of The Moment…

Not Writing


When the weight of the day presses in tight
And you can’t find a second to write,
Remember that words hold a power not always contained.
They’re often a burden and sometimes our bane.
Creativity bottled up for later,
Could result in penning the next terminator.
Take a moment to breathe
And you might be relieved.
Some days you don’t get a moment to write
Or tidbits are stolen next to dark firelight.



Stop by tomorrow for an excerpt from Duty and Death as part of this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt and don’t miss Friday’s Query Critique!

Dec 7, 2010

I like it, but…

As a writer, every once in a while, you hear those bittersweet words:

“I like it, but…”

90% of the time these words are followed by sound advice (we won’t get into the other 10 % right now) and as is the case now, I find myself staring the rewrite of two chapters.

I like it, but you lose a lot of the story’s momentum at the end. I like it, but I think you need to do two things to make your resolution a little more believable.

Sometimes I hate rewrites and sometimes I love them.

This one, I’m torn about.

I like the ending I originally wrote for the possibilities it presents for a potential sequel while at the same time providing closure for this novel. But I understand why the two readers who want the ending to change want what they want, and after a brief heart to heart with myself, I’ve decided that a change is for the best.

Today I’ll be pulling apart the last two chapters, figuring out what to keep, what to ditch, and what to add. I’m starting to think of this as transplant surgery with the added bonus of removing a malignant tumor… let’s hope I don’t kill the “patient.”


Dec 6, 2010

Bent – First Chapter


Here’s a link to the unedited first chapter of Bent, my Space western. The link will bring the PDF up in google documents. (I thought wading through 16 pages on the actual blog would be a little daunting.)

Bent Chapter 1

Feel free to tell me what you think.

Dec 5, 2010

My New Blog Layout

Tell me what you think of it.
I’ve changed this one and the one on my other blog.

Dec 2, 2010

A New Cover

Today, to distract myself from edits (I'd already met my quota for the day), I made another cover for Duty and Death.



Tell me what you think!

Dec 1, 2010

Deciding to Kill a Friend

So, I’ve been following the Red Dress Club for a little while, and have always wanted to participate in their Red Writing Hood prompts like Kristy at Pampers and Pinot… but haven’t.



I can say that no more. This week, due to the busyness of the holidays, the prompt was given with a challenge of flash fiction. (Meaning that the story had to be condensed into 100 to 2000 words.)The prompt is in the story and italicized. Hope you enjoy:


Deciding to Kill a Friend

Hershel and Josephine stared at me in reverent silence. They both knew.

I truly enjoyed spending time with them. I just had to decide which of them I would kill. No biggie, right?

That’s when Hershel turned his heavily lashed brown eyes on me. I could hear the silent pleading, though I couldn’t tell if he was begging me to spare his life or hers. That was the problem when deciding between two that couldn’t speak for themselves.

Josephine’s one light blue eye kept winking at me. It always did that, as if there was a fly or maybe some wool stuck in it. The tick had once been endearing, lately it annoyed. Maybe I’d kill her. She was high strung, a total drama queen, and I’d been trying to cut complication out of my life. I could always take that metaphor literally.

Hershel was calm, a quiet opposite to Josephine. She normally wouldn’t shut up. There were times before now that I’d wanted to shoot her. Hershel was an angel in comparison… but I’d get more money for him.

Sinking to the hay bale behind me, I ignored the scratching straw as it poked at my thighs and the small, exposed piece of skin over the waistband of my shorts. From where they stood on the opposite side of the barn, it was difficult to see myself getting rid of either of them, regardless of Josephine’s deficiencies.

It had to be done. One of them would die tonight.

“I’ll be having Lamb, Billy. Leave the Cow.”

Josephine fought the butcher’s assistant all the way to his van.



* Growing up around my two grandmothers' farms, butchering livestock was something that I came to terms with early. That being said, it was never easy when the particular animal being sent to fill your freezer was one that had it’s own distinct personality.