1.07.2007

HH Com Rd 2 - #20 (317)

Hook here


The first policeman on the scene noticed many strange things about the body.

For one, it was oozing green. Bodies rarely do that, not bodies this fresh. For another, there didn't seem to be a head involved. And while there were legs and arms – or at least arm-ish and leg-like appendages - he counted ten. Not the more usual four.

As more police swarmed the scene, taping off and photographing and putting things in little bags, they noticed stranger things. The dead Hydra – for Hydra it was (or had been) - wore a tailored suit. They found a Registered Mage card in a pocket. They assumed the card was his but he was hard to identify from the photo of his face, what with his entire cranium missing and all. The neck was a dead ringer, though. The unchewed bits. And this was the first Hydra anyone had ever seen wearing anything. Or carrying anything beyond bits of waylaid victims. Or who had not survived decapitation by growing two more, very annoyed heads.

The moment Inspector Willis arrived on the scene, she swore. The information she'd received from her superiors as to the body's probable identity she confirmed with a glance at the victim.

She knew what she was going to have to do.

And she didn't wanna.

This job needed expert consultants. Willis knew of only one firm with the murder investigation experience, the magical theory and any sort of security clearance to practice on a case like this.
She sighed.

She was getting used to them, she told herself.

She needed help, she told herself. She didn't know anyone more qualified or experienced.

The attempted rationalisation didn't help. Willis knew, deep down, that the pair of them were going to annoy her like the itchy nose of a manacled prisoner.

Willis wished she'd been wrong.

Colws the Halfling , founding member of 'Colws and Retraive: Magical Consulting', walked around the body with an intense expression on his face. He sang softly.

'We don't know why he ooze goo; But he do…'

His partner crouched by the body, staring at the Mage Registration card in its little plastic bag. The elf looked up and stared up at Colws. Willis waited - hoped - for the rebuke to come.

The elf grinned instead.

'It ain't because he choose to; He just do…' Retraive the elf sang back.

'I only know it's icky…'

'And that it's kinda sticky…'

And they finished together in frighteningly perfect harmony. 'We don't know why he ooze goo; But he do!'

The pair went into a refrain of 'dobedobee doos'. Willis sighed again. Yelling at the pair wouldn't help, though she really wanted to. Previous experience had taught that yelling would be taken as an invitation to weird her into submission.

The last time she had done so – during the autopsy of a murdered hobgoblin – it had started with an off-colour joke that she couldn't ignore. It had ended in an anatomy lesson of magical creatures, performed by marionettes fashioned from real organs. She shuddered, remembering the dance number : "I Feel It In My Guts : A Ballet Tribute to Appendicitis". The Coroner still kept a tape for training purposes.

Willis waited as patiently as she could for the elf and Halfling to finish. They noticed she wasn't reacting, shared a sardonic smile and ceased their crooning. The Halfling continued searching the scene. Retraive came over to talk to her.

'Sorry,' he said. There wasn't a trace of contrition that Willis could recognise.

'Forget it,' Willis replied. 'What do you think so far?'

'I have a few thoughts, but how classified is this?'

Willis's eyes widened for a second.

'I forget how quick you can be, sometimes. I was going to let you know after you'd had a look around. How'd you realise this was classified?'

'A few things,' the elf said, scanning the area for listeners. They stood in a cordoned-off alley. Some cops held back a very small crowd – it was early afternoon, but they were in The Rocks. This part of Sydney didn't get really busy until dark. Not on a weekday. More importantly, the crowd was some distance away.

'First,' Retraive continued. 'There are thirty, forty mages who legally require registration?'

'Thirty-seven at most recent count. I checked before coming out.'

Retraive nodded. 'Yes. But they're all famous and most are rich. They're almost all humanoid. This is like finding a horse with a pilot's licence.'


______end of 750 words_________

Oh, and because EVERYONE asks:
Colws is pronounced with the breathy Welsh w, more like a double o. Hard C, rhymes with caboose. Kuh'Loos would be pretty close. It's a short, hard and complicated name. Kinda like Colws himself.


Jesus Martinez on a raft, this is good.

I'd read 50 pages; if it didn't fall apart, I'd set a widget clock for Sydney time and call you up and ask for the full ms.

What works here: no backstory, just blam, right on in to the story. It's funny, it's VERY funny. It's cross genre (which makes my heart beat fast these days). There isn't too much going on, but there's enough to hold my interest AND entice me to expect more juicy stuff. It's fast paced, and ..can it be?...everything is spelled right!!

76 comments:

another kate said...

Love this. Love, love, love this. Want more. Now.

Have you published anything else? Where can we find it?

Katie said...

"Previous experience had taught that yelling would be taken as an invitation to weird her into submission."

This is thuper funny.

Anonymous said...

Argghhhh, this blows!! If anyone needed confirmation of snark's bad taste you have it now!

The writing is marginal, a tad on the pedestrian side for me. It screams with generic, bad tv visuals of what a crime scene looks like.

The concept is B grade movie material.

Please people, realize that snark gives great publishing industry advice - fantastic in fact, but know that her tastes are HER tastes.

merper said...

This is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like it, wouldn't buy it, but good luck author.

Just my own taste; I didn't like the voice, or the characters.

I'm sure there are people who do/would.

emerhal said...

lol this made me giggle, i read more

KD (the other one) said...

me too, Miss Snark, me too! PLEASE, author, be sure to keep us updated on publication of this! I so want to read it!

Do you have a mailing list?

Donna said...

My kind of story. I'd buy the book. The Australian locale doesn't hurt either.

Dave said...

This is so NOIR-ishly fascinating. Who are these non-human things and why are they part of the cops. I like the "itchy nose" I like the "ballet" and I know a horse with a pilot's license...
Well sorta, he's blind and pulls a cart full of kids every day - prancing, raising his knees high like a proud stallion.

I like the fact that there is no backstory, no explanations of who these characters are, and the fact that they are all characters - a little weird, a little bent and not too serious.

Emmy Voter said...

Hells yeah!

John said...

I'm curious about why you say it's cross-genre. It seems to be straight urban fantasy to me. Fundamentally, the story appears to be about magic and its users - of course, because we didn't have a full hook, it's hard to tell :-)

Having said which, I quite like it, but it would have to show something out of the ordinary in the first chapter or two for me, or be written very well.

Luc2 said...

This is funny, it has pace and is well written. I wouldn't read it. And why is cross genre so hot? Tastes differ, I guess.

LadyBronco said...

I would buy this in a heartbeat, and it's not something I would usually consider.
Bravo author, whoever you are!

Anonymous said...

If I were in a bookstore, picked up the book (with a great cover!) and read this, I'd buy it in a cowlus' beat!

(oh....the cross genre...my agent keeps telling me that my book is hard sellf because it is cross genre and that marketing people get confused)

Tattieheid said...

Brilliant. Please get it published I want to read it.

Anonymous said...

I like this.

Willis's eyes widened for a second.

'I forget how quick you can be, sometimes. I was going to let you know after you'd had a look around. How'd you realise this was classified?'


It took me a minute to figure out who was speaking this dialogue since it was on a separate line.

dancinghorse said...

anonymous 1, have you had some hard sledding in the comments on your own contribution? Your grapes are a tad on the sour side for me.

The writing in this sample is ready for publication. Like it or hate it, it's got the goods. (I like it. A lot. Author, could you please let Miss Snark know when it's published so we can all read the rest?

Novelust said...

I liked the ideas better than I liked the writing.

Anonymous said...

Woohoo! Most people love it and a couple who are on the fence or vehemently hate it. I've just been reading Michael Palin's published diarys. He quotes a friend saying that the only time you know a project won't work is when everyone likes it. I found myself in the odd position of cheering the naysayers.

And one of the dislikes missed the point entirely in at least two places. So I won't stress out over the negative comments as I'd feared I may.

Have I published anything else? A mixture of laziness and fear and an electrical storm a couple of years back wiping all copies of another completed Colws and Retraive novel and notes for a second mean... no. (Aforementioned storm also took a third, unrelated novel and a couple of short stories. For which I am eternally grateful and thank Thor daily for his literary taste.)

Mailing list? No.

Thanks everyone. I was hoping for some hints on where this wasn't working. But I'll gladly take the ego-boost instead. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes! The voice is fresh and the little song about oozing goo is so unexpected and bizarre that you are immediatley there, in this book, standing next to the character Willis.

This isn't my normal reading material, but I'm betting you can get this published. And I hope that you do.

Plus, I can totally see this being made into a movie, too.

Good luck to you and God-speed.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, well done.
For my own personal taste, I wanted more of the show-don't-tell type of story right at the first. In fact, I stopped reading because you were telling me everything. If it hadn't been for the comments of Miss Snark, I wouldn't have gone back to read again, even though I had really liked your hook.
However, you've obviously convinced Miss Snark, so it was probably just me.
Congrats again. I hope to see this on a bookshelf in a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

I'm a former Golden Heart finalist. If I judged this in the Golden Heart, I'd score it pretty low. The author repeats words and phrases, not for effect but due to sloppy writing. It didn't hold my interest past the first paragraph. The POV character calls herself Willis?

Sorry Miss Snark. I love ya, but I have to disagree on this one.

Heather said...

I was surprised that MS didn't comment on the repeated "she told herself" parts. I thought it was moderately interesting but needed a strong edit.

Heather

Laura Ware said...

ooo I like this a lot! I have no problems agreeing with Miss Snark on this one.

Word Doctor said...

Snark, I agree: this thing has some serious potential. I am a sucker for the Murder-Mystery-Sci-Fi stuff. I will say, however, either you or Jesus Marinez need to watch those mechanics...I almost lost the voice a time or two.

A Naughty Miss said...

heh heh This is hilarious.

Managing this sort of humor throughout a novel-length work seems like it would be a difficult feat to pull off. Kudos to you if you can do it!

I'd keep reading, but if the story didn't start to take off real soon, I'd put it back on the shelf.

...an anatomy lesson of magical creatures, performed by marionettes fashioned from real organs. Bwahaha! Love it.

Anonymous said...

I just love the fact that people who comment against the majority MUST be suffering from sour grapes. That accusation is getting really old, folks. Not every reader wants the same reading experience, and thank fuck for that. Imagine a world where Potter fans had nothing to read but Eco, and Easton Ellis fans had nothing to read but Lillian Jackson Braun. The suicide rate would go up, I'm serious.

On the other hand, athough I personally think this story is "snack food" quality writing, I don't think it's badly written. Maybe "Argghhhh, this blows!" doesn't realize there's a nice market for this kind of story, which seems both easier to write and easier to read.

I think everyone should unclench their buttcheeks.

(I do wish there had been a really well-written, serious drama in the bunch of hooks offered, so the selection here wouldn't seem so homogenous.)

AG said...

Of all the books that appear to have made second round, this is the one I'm most frantic to buy. Nothing deep, no thesaurus-vomiting, just a big rollicking story. Craving more. Will make up own tune for "We don't know why he ooze goo, but he do" while I wait. Please keep us informed.

Anonymous said...

Could the commenter who used the phrase "screaming with visuals" please roll back from the keyboard, close his/her eyes, and imagine me pointing and laughing? Thenk yew.

The Queen-a Athena said...

"I'm a former Golden Heart finalist. If I judged this in the Golden Heart, I'd score it pretty low."

Well, I'm a four time GH finalist, and I would give this top marks. It's fresh and funny and shows me everything I need to know to understand the action, all while throwing in an oldies tune that made me sing out loud. I loved it, my 17 year old loved it, and my 11 year old loved it. We're all OOZING for more!

Anonymous said...

Please don't use "weird" as a verb. Please?

j.c.

Rigor Mortis said...

No sour grapes here, I didn't enter the crapometer. I just have no idea whatsoever why anyone thinks this is good writing or a good idea.

Word Doctor said...

Hey, anonymous number (oh, hell...I don't feel like counting again), I love your comment. The butt cheeks do seem a little tight on here from time to time. Too bad, though; some of human kind's greatest ideas have happened "on the toilet."

Watch those big words, will ya? "Homogenous..." Reminds me too much of chemistry class!

Anonymous said...

Actually, the repeated 'She told herself...' was for effect. She's trying VERY hard to convince herself. Apparently the effect isn't working for some people. Will definitely revisit that. Thanks. If there were any other spots, please point them out.

And Willis is POV only for this first section. Though, yes, she does think of herself as 'Willis'. She's strong, smart but also a humourless woman and as such a very odd person. I like her a lot. Hell, her parents probably call her Willis.

Anonymous said...

I'm the "this blows" anon. Let me give a few examples:

1 - "For one, it was oozing green. Bodies rarely do that, not bodies this fresh."
(assuming these things ordinarily ooze at death, it would seem to follow that the fresher the better. In any event, its a trite silly 'sound bite'statement kinda like that guy who does the melodramtic voice-overs for movies.)

2 - "Not the more usual four."
('more' usual?)

3 - "As more police swarmed the scene, taping off and photographing and putting things in little bags, they noticed stranger things."
(detectives survey first, ie 'notice" then put little things into bags (which in itself is a cheap invocation of crime scene writing))

4 - "The unchewed bits." "Or carrying anything beyond bits of waylaid victims."
(Sorry, this isn't poetry and I prefer at least the semblance of a complete sentence. A few frags adds a little flava, but way way too many here - cheapens the writing.)

5 - "The moment Inspector Willis arrived on the scene, she swore. The information she'd received from her superiors as to the body's probable identity she confirmed with a glance at the victim."
(AiiieeeeyIIII! Awkward!)

6 - "she told herself." "she told herself."
(?)

7 - (The attempted rationalisation didn't help."
(gag)

8 - "walked around the body with an intense expression on his face. He sang softly."
(Can't do these at the same time. i challenge you to sing softly WITH an intense expression - go ahead try.)

9 - "The elf looked up and stared up at Colws."
(yikes)

I'll stop at nine. On the other hand, there are bright spots, and no the "manacled prisoner" is not one of them. Why not, you ask? Because its too close to the scene at hand, ie - had the criminal already been apprehended there and then? , Otherwise it would work in another context to describe annoyance.

But alas, I LOVE:
"And they finished together in frighteningly perfect harmony. 'We don't know why he ooze goo; But he do!' "

So, there are some elements, but the writing is far too cheesy and trite, and tries too hard to be cute, so that those few bright points get overwhelmed.

The genre is not my cup of goo, but if it were toned it down and better written, it might make a good kids book.

Jeb said...

The cross-genre murder scene is a great setup of the urban-fantasy world without any back story (except the dancing organs!). The visuals of the magickal team's previous 'wierding' put me firmly on the side of Willis, which is good if she's going to be the POV character throughout. I found the deliberate repetition of phrases for effect to be mostly good but occasionally overdone - nothing that can't be cleaned up in a quick pass with a blue pencil.

If the 50 pages had voice and pacing consistent with this opening, I'd buy the book in a heartbeat. Probably everyone in my family (spanning 35 years of reading tastes) would find something to enjoy about it.

xiqay said...

Miss Snark says there isn't much going on?!

There's a dead body. There's singing and dancing.

What do you want!

I found this entertaining.

Congrats, author. Strong writing pulls out strong comments. You're right about wanting naysayers as well as "love-its."

Anonymous said...

I love it when people who watch TV and read books (yanno, people who have never worked a crime scene) start pointing out silly errors in police procedure by making errors themselves. I love irony.

Like suggesting a detective is somehow not a policeman. Or that they "survey" first. Mebbe they do, mebbe they don't. Where I live, the DA's office works the crime scene because the police are so incompetent, they trample evidence.

People, it's the *ideas* that matter, not the nuances that can be fixed.

Now breath.

J said...

Really enjoyed this.

For the author, please keep in mind that the humour fantasy genre, for whatever reason, usually elicits terribly strong reactions.

For those of you who really hated it, what other humour fantasy/sci fi have you read (e.g. Terry Brooks Landover Series ,Aspirin's Mything Series, Piers Anthony's Xanth Series, Terry Pratchett's Discworld Series, HGTTG)? If you have read none, then it might just be the genre.

Keep up the good work good man/lady.

Bill Peschel said...

Anon, here's some suggestions for you to consider.

1. The success of this book's gonna depend on how well you created the world. How detailed it is, and (where explanation is needed), how to account for this mixed magic-contemporary world.

I'm not saying everything has to be explained. After all, Discworld spins just fine as it is (although Pratchett at one point mentions that in a universe of multiple worlds, somethings got to be on the far edge of the bell curve, so he does explain it. He just does it wittily.)

2. Since I just finished reading Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels, these notes are probably affected by comparisons to that series.

3. Follow the rule "Second draft = First draft - 10%" (not my brilliant thought, King expounded it in his "On Writing.") Here's a list of phrases from your work. Pull them and see if you like them gone: "For one" "not bodies this fresh" "For another" "and all" "Or who had not survived decaptitation ... (I have a suggestion for this phrase in #4)" "Willis wished she'd been wrong" "for a second" "at most recent count."

4. Third paragraph. Put the two sentences describing clothing together. They belong next to each other. The last sentence could be used for a bit of conversation later, since the reader will want to know how this Hydra was prevented from growing more heads.

5. I hate, hate, hate the word "wanna." Did you want your hero sounding like a four-year-old?

6. I'm not sure about the timing between her trying to rationalize hiring Cowls and Retraive and their appearance. An extra line break would indicate that time has passed.

7. "staring" and "stared" are used in consecutive sentences. Would suggest remooving the second one ("The elf looked up at Cowls")

8. "Willis waited - hoped - for the rebuke to come." Why would she? Especially when we learn later of the autopsy room incident.

9. Someone suggested that the "We don't know" song is based on a popular tune. Is that true? Which one? If it's an obscure tune, or one limited to Australia, that might not translate to other countries.

10. "weird her into submission" Since this is a magic story, I'm not sure if you meant weird as in strange, or weird as in enchanted.

11. Suggestion: instead of an off-color joke in the autopsy room, what about someone asking a medical question. That would connect with the answer (the "I Feel it in my guts" song).

12. The pacing in the "A few things" paragraph is interrupted by the extended description. We finally get some dialog going with some exposition, and it slams to a halt to let us know we're in Sydney and the police are holding onlookers back. Suggest moving these sentences ("Some cops held back ... some distance away.") higher.

13. "They're almost all humanoid." Almost all is not the same as all, so I'm not sure why a Hydra mage is so odd. Seems more likely they wouldn't recognize this one (since they're "all famous").

14. One more general point. Focus on adding specific details to this world. "Registered Mage" card sounds generic. (I supposed "driver's license" would as well, but this is a place where you can convey the flavor of the world: overly bureaucratic ("Australian Bureau of Magic DD-12/MAGE" card), or not ("magic license").

Other details: Any character tags about Willis? Right now, she's nothing except exasperated. "The Rock" doesn't convey anything to non-Australians. There's no details about where the body was found (in a park, on a bench, in a room, indoors, outdoors?). "The Halfling continued searching the scene." What was he doing? On his knees, feeling the carpet fibers, or waving a short sword around, hoping it will glow?

I'm not asking to add anything more, just add more detail to what you've got here.

Right now, what you've got is promising. I should be in love with this book -- I've read fantasy for years and you've made a good start. If you're feeling like you've been kicked in the nads after this note, reflect on this: I wouldn't give you this advice if I didn't think this piece wasn't worth it.

Whether you thing my advice is worth it, is up to you. Good luck.

Karen said...

Hmmm, methinks it is easy to slam a writer's efforts when hidden behind the safety of the internet. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there is something to be said for diplomacy. That said, I liked this very much. I'd buy it, I'd read it, and I'd probably laugh a lot while doing it. Keep us posted on when this will be published!

Katherine said...

I would buy and read this. LOL!

Anonymous said...

That bit about the ballet tribute to appendicitis is the funniest thing I've read in at least a week, if not a month. I laughed out loud -which I almost never do. I would SO pick this up.

McKoala said...

OK, it's not perfect. But I like it.

roach said...

"yelling would be taken as an invitation to weird her into submission."

Ahahahahaha! The whole excerpt was great but this was just laugh out loud funny.

Anonymous said...

As a reader of speculative fiction (but not so much comedy except for Douglas Adams)I found your 750 words creating a desire for me to read on and find out what happens next, but I would want more than just a comical murder investigation of a big bad anti-magic corporation.

As for the comments of some suggesting corrections - some I agree with, some I don't. If you were to get you manuscript edited by two different editors at that same time, they would agree on some changes, they would disagree on others and some would probably provoke fist fights.

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant! I hope it gets picked up by someone because I'm dying to know what happens next.

Anonymous said...

To Bill Peschel..

Thankyou so much. Will be making seperate notes of these points and reviewing (must admit that this is actually still at first draft stage. It suffered a bit to get a good point to end on in the 750 during a rushed and stressed flying edit. I thought 'Why not send? Worst that could happen is I'll get a few notes and can adjust during the drafting. It will save me time later.')

A quick read through what you've suggests a couple of points I disagree with already, but they've all been given with such a nice spirit of helpfulness I'm not going to ignore any of them. Even if I don't end up taking all the advice. (for example some of the points are addressed in the next few pages. Some of the odder word choice is there for - if not comic effect - then to enhance the comic timing of certain lines that follow. Point six - actually had a scene break that unfortunately Miss Snark's blog seems to have eaten. And so on.) But I'll still be going through the entire draft so far, looking for potential repeats of the potential issues you've raised.

Take note people - that's how you provide criticsim... Thanks again Bill.

And because I can't say it enough - thank you to all the people who loved this enough to say so.

Oh - and the song was 'I don't know why I love you (But I do)'. An oldie but goodie. Clarence 'Frogman' Henry. Also appears on the Forrest Gump soundtrack, if that helps.

Jen said...

Holy Moley - I really didn't like this at all. I'm shocked so many people do... Maybe it's me. Although, I will say the "doobeedoobedoo's" got a smile. (g) Other than that...NO thanks.

chimeralife said...

This is funny. I would definitely read the first few pages in the bookstore and if they kept up, buy it.

Keep us gigling and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

'Cause you wanna, that's why.

ec said...

The objections to the word "weird" remind of the title change on the the first Harry Potter book, "HP and the Philosopher's Stone" I've read that the US publisher thought American readers would stumble on the word "philosopher," not being aware that "philosopher's stone" is a centuries-old name for a longevity potion/device. If true, this reasoning strikes me as condescending and even a little insulting (even if they were right.)

"Weirding" was a completely appropriate word choice, given the setting and tone. Even in urban fantasy, there's almost certainly going to be archaic touches here and there.

yet another anon said...

Anon #(too many to count):I just love the fact that people who comment against the majority MUST be suffering from sour grapes.

It isn't the fact of disagreement that garners the accusation of sour grapes--it's the tone with which that disagreement is expressed.

writtenwyrdd said...

I loved this too, but I think it needs editing to tighten it up just a bit. And, conversely, I think we actually need more backstory--just a bit--to drop us fully into the scene. More cop stuff would probably do it. You have plenty of magical stuff.

This is very witty and I loved it.

ObiDonWan said...

huh, just feels too much like 'MEN IN BLACK' to me.

Jeaniene said...

I realy liked it. Thought it was a great example of "show, don't tell" and it's funny as hell. If I was browsing a bookstore and found this, I'd buy it. So would a lot of the other people commenting here.

And that's a point to remember, Really Harsh Critiquers. 'Can I sell this?" is probably the first question an agent asks, so just because it isn't *your* cup of tea doesn't mean it 'blows' or that Miss Snark has no taste. And P.S. - constructive criticism is one thing, being MEAN is another!

eleora said...

I like this as well. It goes to show you that even though Miss Snark doesn't rep. sci-fi/fantasy, she can still recognize something fresh and interesting (IMO.)

Sure there are nitpicks that could be made, but bottom line is that I want to read more.

Good luck author!

Pedro said...

Congrats Author. The only peeve I have is with MS comments

JESUS MARTINEZ ON A RAFT?????

WTF?

If this is an attempt at humor, pls splain it to this disgruntled immigrant.

Why don't we spread the love?

NORMAN GREENBURG IN A GAS CHAMBER
MARTIN L. KING ON A PLANTATION
TED KENNEDY IN A BAR
JANET RENO IN A BEAUTY SALON
CHIN SOW LING IN TIENNEMAN SQUARE
ABDUL ON A CAMEL
ROSA PARKS KICKED OFF THE BUS
JESUS MARTINEZ CROSSING THE RIO GRANDE
MARIA MARTINEZ SCRUBBING THE TOILET BOWL.

Clue Gun. Racism is racist, not funny.

Pedro.

Anonymous said...

I would read this book today. In fact, I wish I could.

Anonymous said...

Yet another anon said:

"Anon #(too many to count):I just love the fact that people who comment against the majority MUST be suffering from sour grapes.

It isn't the fact of disagreement that garners the accusation of sour grapes--it's the tone with which that disagreement is expressed."

To that I say: to be sure you're much more likely to get your point across without a pissy tone, but a pissy tone can indicate just about anything, including tightness in the skivvies, urine in the morning Cheerios, etc. etc. It doesn't have to mean sour grapes, which I see as an easy thing to throw out there if you want to immediately discount someone's opinion without due consideration. Kind of like: Youse can't spell, so therefore everything youse say is crap-ola! Nyaah! (another one of my favorite knee jerks)

Underwear check!

Bill Peschel said...

Anon,

Thank you for your kind remarks. I do understand that you know your work better than I do, and that some of my suggestions would be invalidated by soemthing you've written in later pages.

If you'll forgive a bit of armchair psychology, your response indicates a maturity that is promising. Receiving criticism and advice is never easy, and I suspect that's why some successful authors add a "no edit" clause to their contract.

(Aside, if you want to see what it's like to have your manuscript raped by copy editors, check out Piers Anthony's "But What of Earth?" Years ago, Anthony sold the novel, only to discover that it had been rewritten (violating his contract) and a co-writer added. He got back the manuscript and found it covered with comments, some of them rather nasty, by at least four editors. He published it all and added his own commentary on their comments. Even if you don't like PA, it's still funny as hell.

Best of luck with your book, really. If you sell it, let me know and I'll buy a copy!

Xopher said...

I know what I'm gonna have to do.

Buy this when it comes out.

Fortunately, unlike the POV character, I do wanna.

Cab Sav said...

Love the story. I'd read it.

Very Forgotten Realms though. I'd take a quick look at the Wizards of the Coast site to be sure you could get away with using the term halfling like this, particularly insofar as you have made Colws a traditional TSR-type halfling. I know there is no copyright on ideas, but I suspect Wizards of the Coast have some pretty strong protection on these character types.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I'd request this too. Needs editing? Sure, but a lot of first time novels do. It hooked, it's fun, I read it all the way through instead of stopping on the first paragraph. Urban fantasy's still selling well, and there's room for more if they're well written and have an original idea.
-Rachel Vater

KD (the other one) said...

Halflings have been around longer than the Wizards of the Coast. Tolkien calls hobbits halflings, and I imagine the race goes back farther than that. I doubt Wizards of the Coast paid Tolkien's estate to use them!

ec said...

Very Forgotten Realms though. I'd take a quick look at the Wizards of the Coast site to be sure you could get away with using the term halfling like this, particularly insofar as you have made Colws a traditional TSR-type halfling. I know there is no copyright on ideas, but I suspect Wizards of the Coast have some pretty strong protection on these character types.

Okay, this I can speak to, since I've been writing books set in the Forgotten Realms for, hmmm, about fifteen years now.

No worries--"halfling" is not a copyrighted term. It predates the Forgotten Realms, and was used by Tolkien as a synonym for hobbit. In some fantasy books, "halfling" refers to racially mixed people, such as half elves, but it more commonly refers to hobbit-like creatures. Halflings have become a staple of fantasy and can be found in books (i.e., Terry Brook's Shannara), video games (EverQuest), and cartoons (Order of the Stick). They are no more protected by copyright than are elves, dragons, or unicorns.

I really didn't get a Forgotten Realm vibe from this. The feel is completely different. It's urban fantasy, for one thing, and it's got a nice whimsical feel. The humorless detective adds an appealing touch of irony. Very fresh, very appealing, and very funny. I definitely want to read this!

Twill said...

Jesus yes. Love it, I'll buy it.

One glitch -

Willis knew, deep down, that the pair of them were going to annoy her like the itchy nose of a manacled prisoner.

Do manacled prisoner's noses bother her often?

Anonymous said...

Please don't use "weird" as a verb. Please?

Different strokes... Me, I loved 'weird her into submission'. I wish I'd thought of it.

Yes, this needs an edit (ex-editor here), but in the good way - the way where you can see exactly what's shining under the rough stuff, and how to polish it.

Twill said...

Having read through all the comments, I'd tell you that I disagree with almost every edit of the 9 that Anon outlined for you.

The Anon who started with point one about "Bodies rarely do that, not bodies this fresh". I thought that most of those passages gave insight into the character and the world, and a little tweak to the nose at the same time. I loved them.

The reference to "surviving decapitation" is a great example. Humans don't ever. Hydra, generally. Wizards, who knows.

Great read. You might consider checking out critters.org to get a few critiques on the full novel before you try to change anything. I've found them to be a big help.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Love it.

What's wrong with the off-color joke? I thought that was perfect.

Alley Splat said...

Love it too. I'd buy it if I found it in a bookshop.

Author, I hope you saw Rachel Vater's comment? Her website's http://www.lowensteinyost.com/agent_3.html

Lots of luck!

Anonymous said...

Rachel Vater?!?!?
Rachel Vater?!?!?
DAMNDAMNDAMNDAMNDAMN!
Ohh... Now I'm really wishing I had this thing finished!
Good bye social life! Goodbye other hobbies! Time to write!
Tell me... How often do small children really need to eat etc? Can I get away with feeding them quickly, once a day? From a big bowl on the floor? Or would that be bad? I'd ignore my beloved wife for the next few months as well, but she's more than capable of fashioning deadly weaponry from everyday household items.
Ohhhh. For a short-ish, fun book the aknowledgements section (assuming publication) is gonna be soooo long.

ver word - smenita: The conflicted feeling of having two seperate agents claim a theoretical interest in reading more of your novel (Yay! I should start querying!) while only having half a novel and a lot o' notes (Oops... No, I shouldn't.)

Anonymous said...

I actually almost skipped this one after the second paragraph; the description of the opening scene is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" to me. The murder victim is an antidiluvian who bleeds green and the story is clearly a fantasy mixed with a familiar detective subgenre (in Gaiman's Hugo Award winning story, a major character is probably Sherlock Holmes).

On the other hand, when I read Miss Snark's rave for the sample, I went back and finished it. The author clearly has a distinct voice and has set the story in a very different world. The victim is no ruling Old One, either. It would be hard for this book to find me without a review or excerpt, but having read it, I expect I might well wind up recommending it to friends.

Catja (green_knight) said...

Can it use editing? Sure. It read draft-y to me, and I'd recommend finishing it, polishing it, and *then* sending it out. The biggest danger in this genre are one-joke non-stories - they start great, they might be funny all the way through first time round, but they lack substance. There's a market for them, too, but I prefer something along the lines of Pratchett which is funny *and* deep.

That said, if I'd picked it up in a bookstore, I'd probably take it home. Or at least read a whole lot more of it. It gives hints of a complex world. It has *story*, in spades, and characters I want to read more of.

desert snarkling said...

As usual, all the people who really don't like this seem to be focused on the small-scale details. Which are the easy stuff to fix, and are less important than the big-picture stuff.

Forest, trees, and all that.

Berticus said...

I just have to comment on this. I laughed and generally I don't laugh at all when I'm reading.

I think the best word I can find for the pair is Rambunctious. :)

I want to know when and where its published and I would like a copy of the coroner's video.

-albert

Judy said...

This was great fun! Please reconsider putting up a mailing list or other contact method. I'd love to hear when this comes out!