3rd SR Crapometer #44

Dear Miss Snark

The Island of Flowers is a 100,000 words thriller. It is unusual in featuring a female serial killer, and I hope this premise intrigues you. (I'm pretty much over serial killers. They're mostly boring and have been done to death--so to speak).

Murder on a small South East Asian island reverberates over the island and across the world into the lives of five people whose lives were devastated by a similar murder eight years before.

In London, DI Alastair MacDonald is about to retire in despair. His friend DI Gil Dudley still has questions. Gil´s wife Rosalie slips into madness over a festering secret. And Nora Stretton, back from Canada, is a cauldron of unresolved anger. (that isn't a paragraph, it's a collection of captions)

On Pulau Bunga, the Island of Flowers, Stefanie Lindrum discovers a hidden life is no guarantee the past and a killer won't find her out. Kusnadi, the new military commander who's no stranger to grief himself, meets disillusion and betrayal as he investigates. Alastair
becomes a rogue cop playing a double game on the island.

Resolution of past and present bring a mix of peace, danger or final loss as the full cast gathers on the island.

I´ve had two short publications, (those are the only thing I'm going to pay any attention to and you should of course name them in a real query) a judges' commendation in a national novel competition, and a short-listing in a national romance novel competition. I served two years on the judging panels of [national awards] for published [fiction genres], and have many acknowledgements in published novels. I teach occasional creative writing classes.

I´m married with adult sons, and semi-retired after an eclectic career in nursing, temping in a wide variety of organisations (including Public Prosecution), and transcription of post-graduate degree projects. (only tell me about your adult sons if they are Mr. Clooney)

Yours truly

so, you tease up my interest by telling me there's a female serial killer, and then you never mention it again. Snarl.


Sarasayang, 7 October 2005

The old woman's eyes are stone white, blind as justice. Trachoma, trichiasis, cataracts, glaucoma? Stefi's seen too much of it and knows there's no real help for a poor padi farmer's elderly mother. No help in the medicine bottle she feeds carefully into the old woman's hands, either; but in the lack of expectation yet simple pleasure for both in the exchange, there´s
mutual recognition they've both reached a place of resigned acceptance. (let's start with the fact that Justice isn't blind, she's blindfolded, there's a difference. Then let's diagram that last sentence)

"This big bottle, Nenek," Stefi respectfully addresses the old lady,"put a drop in each eye at night and in the morning."

"That's what he says?"

"That's what he says."

"I'll remember it." Nenek unscrews the lid, smells Didit's concoction and makes a face. "Ahh - it smells terrible."

From her squatting position on the wide ledge that leads into the one-roomed house on its stilts, her workday sarung tucked neatly around her slim form, Stefi gazes at the surrounding padi fields lying hazy under the sun as she sips from a long glass of fresh coconut milk and
soft pulp. The grandson who shimmied up the palm for the coconut when she arrived is now a far-off darting figure among the rice stalks.

"It looks worse," she murmurs.

"What? Speak up, Nona."

"It looks bad."

Nenek screws the lid back on and tucks the bottle under her kebaya, next to her skinny chest. "And the other one?"

Stefi feeds the smaller bottle into her hands. "Smear this cream on your eyelids at night."

"Where are you from?" the old gal grumbles. "I can hardly understand you."

"Rub it here -" Stefi touches Nenek's eyelids " - at night."

"Oh, all right." She fishes around in the lap folds of her sarung and brings out two ripe mangoes. "Give these to the Doktor, Nona. I can't pay him today."

"Terima kasih, Nenek."

The old woman looks briefly disconcerted that Stefi doesn´t expect her to justify herself.

"Don't drop them." Her hands seek and grasp Stefie's. She places the fruit carefully between them and gives one of Stefi´s arms a dismissive squeeze, then yelps, her fingers exploring the soft down there. "You're a foreigner!"

"Yes, Nenek."

"No wonder I couldn't understand you, I thought I was going deaf too!

A foreign girl...Why do you have hair on your arms?"

"I don't know."

"How come you´re working for him?"

"It just happened."

"You don't know much, do you? I suppose you came here to see the lake?"

"I still haven´t seen it."

The old hands seize her face and explore that too. "You came here to see the lake and you end up working for the Doktor." She clucks her tongue. "You´re not very bright. Anyway, the lake is too expensive. What colour eyes?"


"I wish I could see it. And your hair?" The gnarled fingers pat the usual local bun at the nape of Stefi´s neck.

Even if that old woman sets Stefi on fire in the next five seconds I going to say no. This needs a good critique group.


Anonymous said...

How can you write a synopsis about Alastair MacDonald, Gil Dudley, Festering Rosalie, and Nora Stretton and begin the novel with Nenek and Stefi ?

And what does this old womans cataracts have to do with the story of a serial killer?

marie-anne said...

There has never been a recorded case of a female serial killer. The experts vehemently disagree about Eileen Wournos. THere are women who commit multiple murders but that doesn't make them serial killers. THere is a really big difference between a real serial killer and someone who kills more than one person even if the MO stays the same. I hate it when people don't get that right.

Anonymous said...

Small pet peeve, but glaucoma, cataracts, trichasis, and trachoma look totally different. Glaucomatous eyes look totally normal, trachoma gives a white cornea, cataracts a white spot in the pupil but a clear cornea. bottom line -- you're going to have readers who are experts in whatever you write about. Unless you want to suggest your MC is an idiot/uneducated/lying/lazy, it doesn't help to start your novel off with factualy incorrect information.

Lou said...

Thank you for the snarking, Miss Snark! Thanks to others for comments also!

Lou said...

Thank you for the snarking, Miss Snark! And thanks also to others for comments!

dunstable said...

I kind of like the sample, the writing shows some snap, but I don't have any interest in the vast plot allluded to (I can't quite say "described") in the query. There certainly does seem to be a chasm [in a park] between the two.

MaryKaye said...

The writing's pretty vivid; I might well keep reading. But I can't get anywhere with the query. Even if there are a ton of main characters, can you focus on just one or two?

Fahim said...

A tiny correction, it's "paddy farmer" and not "padi farmer" :)

Anonymous said...

Didn't like the query. Hate the title.

Kind of like the opening pages.

I like the exotic feel (but then I live on a Pacific island, but not Palau or Pulua Bungi). I like how the foreign words are woven into the text. I wonder about giving medicine that isn't going to help.

If the blind woman is just an excuse to introduce Stefi, I'll be pissed. I expect Nenek to be important, too, because she is on page 1.

Obviously, Miss Snark's comments weigh much more than mine.