Query Fun

Let’s be honest, fun is not a word associated with query writing. Oh, I’m sure there are a handful of masochists out there who enjoy the endeavor of condensing a 100k word story into half a page, but I’m not one of them. I’ll go as far to say that I suck at it. That said, I am currently writing one, creating it for the purpose of submitting my psychological-crime drama-romance mashup, Harbortown. So, for some actual fun, I’m going to post the body of it here, so we may poke fun at its inadequacies, and then we shall see what I finally end up with.  Don’t be afraid to laugh. I laugh at my efforts on these sorts of things all the time.

Harbortown:

Harbortown is the story of, Rachel “Rehab” Rollins, a tougher-than-everything, forty-one-year-old detective, given notice that she is being forced to retire after the minimum twenty years of service. Never mind the fact that she has no desire to do so or that her body is breaking down on her after years of “enforcing the law” in the mob run town. The real issue at hand is that she must train her replacement and pass along the secrets of her success, secrets that have kept her alive in a place where half the population would prefer she was dead, secrets that Rachel had every intention of going to her grave with long before retiring.

Martin Falcone is just looking for a chance to perform the police work he loves doing. Growing up around Harbortown, it’s the perfect opportunity for the former Marine MP to prove his worth after being discharged from the Corps. Replacing local legend, Rachel Rollins, is a daunting task to say the least. Her history and body count would never make the Police Academy Training Manual, but Martin is okay with this. He fully understands that the law isn’t always as black and white as it seems, especially in the foggy recesses of the Town, but Rachel is far more than he bargained for. How does a cop, particularly a female one, get away with what she’s done? The near impunity with which she operates is baffling, and the more Martin digs, the more mysterious Rachel and Harbortown become. Everyone seems to be hiding something to kill for, and it’s all confounding Martin’s efforts to prove his worthiness by catching the baffling serial killer plaguing the area.

This 120,000 word, psychological-crime-drama-romance mashup, is the first book following the violent chaos of Rachel Rollins retirement, one man’s efforts to prove himself, and one woman’s striving to maintain her sanity as the world she built crumbles around her.

Effort #2:

Harbortown is steeped in the tradition of violence and corruption, run by the long-standing Fedelini and Torchio crime families. Twenty years ago, the first female cop in local history stepped in and turned the town on its head. Now, legendary detective, Rachel “Rehab” Rollins is being forced into retirement, and nobody is more put out by this fact than Rachel herself. Never mind that her body can longer take the abuse or that the mainstay of her diet has regressed to Percocet and whiskey. She must now divulge the secrets of her power to the grinning, gung-ho, former marine MP hired to replace her, lest he find himself floating face down in the bay.

Martin Falcone knew being a cop in Harbortown would be a challenge. He’d grown up around its crime-addled streets, and the Marine’s sense of law and order didn’t sit well here. Gaining the respect of the town, not to mention his coworkers was going to be difficult. He had not, however, expected the real challenge to be the cop he was hired to replace. Rachel had become the soul of Harbortown and it was not in a good place. In order to do this job, to gain the respect he needed, catch the serial killer plaguing the area, he needed to find out the secret to her power, and if Martin wasn’t careful, his efforts could ruin them all.

Effort #3:

A serial killer is terrorizing the women of Harbortown. The local mob is importing young, Russian women for prostitution. The DA wants her head on a platter. It’s all in a day’s work for detective, Rachel “Rehab” Rollins, except it’s been officially announced that she’s retiring in six months. Killers, mobsters, and government officials are cake compared to the idea of retiring at forty-one. Does anyone care that she’s the only one manning the gates between order and chaos? Apparently not, because the Chief has just handed her a squeaky clean, former Marine MP to train as her replacement. Six months wouldn’t train the Terminator to succeed at her job. Nobody could go through what she did to secure the stability of a town run amok with mob-controlled violence. Nobody had the sensibilities required to handle the lunatic asylum of Harbortown, and she was just supposed to turn over the keys to her secret vault to some hack marine? No way.

Martin Falcone was just looking to do the police work he loved, and what better place than the crazy town he grew up in? Harbortown was ripe with action, chock-full of criminal elements just waiting to get their butts kicked and put in their place. Nobody said it would be easy, but the options were limited when one got dishonorably discharged from the Corps. Sure, it would be a challenge, but he hadn’t expected the greatest difficulty to come from the enigmatic, questionably ethical woman he was brought in to replace. As his trainer, she was impossibly tight-lipped about what needed to be done in the Town. The more he pressed, the greater the roadblocks she threw down, but Martin was a marine, and marines don’t give up on anything. Figuring out this job meant figuring out Rachel Rollins, and he would leave no stone unturned in solving the mystery of the town’s legendary detective. If only he’d realized…

Update…and a song

Plodding along and obviously I’ve been terribly unmotivated/inspired to blog on any kind of regular basis. That said, proposal for a new project is finally done, a time-travel/adventure story. Hopefully will have that off to the agent in a week or two. I’m also about to dig into editing my crime drama, Harbortown. Still not sure what I’ll be doing with this story, but I need it in tip-top shape before I think of having anyone look at it. Finally, and I’ll toss a little tidbit about myself in here-I like to hum made up music to myself at work when I’m bored-I came up with a line which I thought was cool for a song, so I rolled with it and came up with one. Years ago, I did a bit of public speaking on the issue of domestic violence, educating people about the issue, which I still feel is a significant social issue today. This song is inspired by that issue and the herculean efforts women must often go through to get free of violent relationships. Hope you like it.

I’ll Keep Walkin

 

I’ll keep walkin, through this valley of broken bones

Where my soul is crushed beneath your feet

I’ll keep walkin, until I’ve stepped out of your shoes

I’ll follow a path out of here where I can choose

I’ll keep walkin, walkin until I am free

Free to have a life about me

(Chorus)

I’ll keep walkin, through this rain of tears

Washed away by all of our fears

I’ll keep walkin out of the wreckage of this storm

Keep walkin, because I need to be reborn

I’ll keep walkin, until I find a new home

Where I can live a life I can call my own.

(Chorus)

I’ll keep walkin, though the trees of life are bare

The leaves blown away by the howl of your wind

I’ll keep pushin through the gale of your voice

I’ll keep walkin, cause I have no choice

To keep walkin until I find a new home

Where I can live a life I can call my own

 

Chorus:

Well I’m walkin, walkin because I’ll be strong

Because I deserve a life free of these wrongs

I’ll keep walkin, because I’ll have a voice

A voice all of my own

A life that’s my choice.

Cause I’m walkin, walkin on my own

Where I can live a life I can call my own

And the experiment begins

I have two projects in the works right now, one a UF out on submission with my agent, and the other, a hardboiled romance, I’m debating what to do with. I bounce back and forth between wanting to try self-publishing with this title or pursing more traditional options. For the past year or so, I’ve been wanting to dig into the D.I.Y. elements of publishing that are now open to authors, and you can see by a post I made a couple weeks ago, that I’ve been pondering possibilities. Well, I’ve recently begun a piece of that possibility.

What I have written on Harbortown (about 50k) words to this point, I placed on Google Docs, invited about a half dozen reader/reviewer people I’ve connected with on twitter and feel could provide me with some honest feedback, and gave them the ability to comment directly in the document, much like you do with any Word document. The goal here is to work with a continuous feedback loop, using ideas/concerns/comments to develop the story into a stronger version than what I could normally on my own. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a very objective eye with regard to my writing, unless it sits for a couple of months before I look at it. The far more immediate feedback helps not only spur ideas and keep elements on track, what works well and what doesn’t, but it’s also inspiring to write more, when you have people involved in your work.

Given the scope of this story (I’m on pt 2 of 5, and currently at 50k), I will be doing this for a while, and may add some more commenters to the loop, depending on how well this turns out. It’s not exactly crowd-sourcing, but having interested people involved in you work, who you know will give honest feedback is a fabulous thing to have when writing. I know that some writers don’t like anyone to see their work until it’s done. They have worries that it will distort their process or stress them out or whatever the case may be. My brain doesn’t work that way, for better or worse. I thrive on the interaction, so I hope that this experiment will prove fruitful and I can build upon it. We’ll see how it goes.

Maps and Story

Below is a map of Harbortown, the fictional town of my side project currently going by the same name. I enjoy drawing maps, but wanted to see if I could find some place that approached what I was thinking of, and low and behold, I found it.

One of the coolest things about maps or any images you gather, is that they help to inspire the story. When I began this story, it started with crime that I thought would be cool, then developed more and changed focus when I created the main character, and finally morphed into a type of story when I figured out where I wanted to place things.

I wanted a foggy, seaside kind of place that would lend itself to a noir type setting. I scanned up and down the west coast with Google Maps until I discovered a town of about the right size and met the current, sparse needs of the story. I began to create places in this town, bad guys, good guys, neighborhoods, and so on. When you do this, you’re always wondering just how the main character fits into this place. If she grew up here, what would life have been like? What would have inspired her to become a Detective in a place ruled by crime? The more I began to flesh out the town, the more her life actually came to life. It inspired thoughts and story directions I hadn’t considered or thought of before. In short, maps are a great development device.

Sometimes setting is just that, a backdrop to contain the plot and characters, but when it feeds into the characters and helps drive the plot, it becomes a character all its own. Harbortown is becoming like that for me, filled with quirky, strange, and badass people. It’s going to be fun writing a story in this town and watch my characters interact with it. From Old Man Smoothie, the ice cream shop owner to Casper Winegarten, the coroner, who totes around a Scooby-Doo sippy cup full of $100 wine, the town is an inspiration and I hope to make the most of it.

So, if you are stuck on a project and unsure where to go or what to do, flesh out the setting where your characters live, bring it to life, and see what can happen. You’ll be surprised.

HARBORTOWN

 

One More Harbortown Snippet

Ok, after discussing some character stuff on this story with my wife (author Tracy Madison), I decided there had to be a prologue in order to establish some credibility with some of the heroine’s issues presented in the story. Again this is rough draft material, and I value feedback/comments (or I wouldn’t put it up here, lol), so please feel free. This is a fairly intense scene, and very personally female, which can be difficult to get into as a male writer. So, with that in mind, I hope you enjoy and I’d like to know if you like/dislike or feel like it entirely misses the mark. Happy reading/writing everyone!

Another Harbortown Snippet

Another scene/chapter clip from the side project. Again, this is rough action here, so there’s likely a couple errors or three in here. It’s for fun, feedback, and hopefully a bit of reading enjoyment. This story is perhaps even more noir and dark than Deadworld, but non-supernatural. Noir-Romance I suppose you could call it. Here, we see police work in action in Harbortown, and the fact that my heroine, Rachel is a little bit whacked and probably has some issues to deal with. Hope you enjoy, and of course, feel free to comment, positive or negative. It’s all good. Happy reading/writing everyone.

Only keeping snippets up for a week before taking them down, and it has reached that point, so this snippet is no longer available.