Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Location: United States

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crapometer Entry

Dear Miss Snark:

In my mystery-thriller One In The Corner, forty-five year-old Nicholas Colt, a cynical, down-and-out pool hustler and ex-cop turned PI, searches the streets of Jacksonville, Florida for a runaway fifteen year-old orphan girl named Brittney Ryan. He finds her, and collides head-on with the wealthy, powerful, and deadly forces who want her secret kept buried.

On a weekend visit, Brittney stumbles upon a horrifying secret in her former foster father's lab. Her life is in jeopardy. She runs away to brave it alone, and turns to "lingerie modeling" in an effort to gain enough money for passage to California and an anonymous existence. Her older sister (and now legal guardian) Leitha shows up on Colt's doorstep, unaware of the real reason Brittney ran away and fearful Brittney will be forced back into foster care if the police are involved. A former runaway himself and acutely aware of how the streets can eat you alive, Colt has a soft spot for wayward teens. Runaways are his specialty, and he'll do anything he can to keep an otherwise good kid out of the criminal justice system. He agrees to take the case. Through his investigations, Colt learns that Dr. Michael Spivey, Brittney's foster father before Leitha won custody, is part of an international group conducting illegal research. Spivey, on the verge of a breakthrough that would bring him fame and fortune, will stop at nothing--including kidnapping and murder--to achieve his goal. It's up to Colt to bring Brittney home safely.

Enclosed are the pages per your guidelines. The full manuscript is available on request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chapter One

My stepfather taught me two important survival skills: How to use a bait caster reel, and how to filet a bass. On August 16, 2006, I had gotten up at six A.M. and exercised the first; by nine, I was busy with the second. I wore khaki shorts, no shirt, a pair of topsiders and a ball cap that said Guinness. Typical north Florida fishing attire.

I scraped the scales off my third and final fish, looked up and saw a little red car turning from Lake Barkley Road onto my gravel driveway. It was one of those cars I call a Bic. Like the lighters, they're cheap and disposable. You buy one fresh off the lot, and by the time it needs new tires it's ready for the junk yard.

The car struggled up the hill and parked beside my GMC Jimmy. A woman got out. At first I thought she was wearing a hearing aid, but it was one of those cell phone things you clip to your ear. In the future, they'll implant a computer chip directly into your brain and you'll be connected to the world all day every day. I was hoping I'd die before anything like that ever happened when the woman said, "Is this where you live?" She surveyed my home sweet home--a 1964 Airstream Safari travel trailer--my ten year-old SUV, my blood-stained picnic table littered with catch-of-the-day carcasses.

She had an expensive hair style, clipped shoulder-length, brown with streaks of caramel. She wore a navy blue skirt and jacket and a thin white shirt, and some sort of shoes that didn't tread well on my sandy yard. I doubted she was old enough to drink.

"If you're selling something, I'm broke so don't bother. If you're from the bank, I'm really broke so really don't bother." I was six weeks behind on my car payment. I expected to wake up any day now and find Jimmy not there.

"I'm looking for Nicholas Colt, the private eye. Is that you?"

"That is me. Who are you?"

She stepped forward and extended her hand. I smelled her perfume, light and spicy. I opened my palms so she could see the fish grime. She frowned and laced her hands together against the front of her skirt.

"My name is Leitha Ryan. I need help finding someone, Mister Colt. Is that something you might be interested in?"

She had a doubtful look on her face, as if she were hoping I'd say no.


Blogger Dave said...

I have a few comments but I'd rather do it offline. Will you accept an e-mail from me?

6:25 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Sure Dave. novelistjude@netzero.com. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

In the query, if you want to have a first paragraph intro and then the second paragraph start with the beginning of the book, I suggest keeping the first paragraph more general. I was confused at first, because we seemed to be going back in time.

BTW, I really liked the opening of the second parqagraph of your query... any way that could be the opening?

- A fellow snarkling

10:30 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks Michele! I'll consider making those changes.

11:10 PM  
Blogger jude calvert-toulmin said...

hi jude! i'm jude too :) nice one putting your snark entry on your blog! :)

i will mail you with some advice about your query letter.

chapter 1 shows some promise imo. the writing is wooden and stilted in places (again, imo, only one opinion) but there's some nice lines in there, like:

> I was hoping I'd die before anything like that ever happened when the woman said, "Is this where you live?"

that's great.

your first page is imo better than most of the entries so far published on the crapometer, and im not just saying that cause its your blog. the query needs rewriting though.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Jude!

Nice name, by the way.

7:02 AM  
Blogger r2 said...

Jude, I don't know anything about query letters, but I sure liked your Chapter 1. Great writing. Feels a little like John D. McDonald to me. Really nice.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, r2! What a wonderful compliment!

8:38 PM  
Blogger r2 said...

So, when can I read Chapter 2?

7:37 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

That's the best compliment of all, r2, that you want to read more.

The query letter was just for practice, and the novel isn't actually finished yet. I just wanted to write a query as I would when it's ready to go out. I'm at the 23K words mark right now, and plan to have about 80K when it's done.

What I've posted here is only the first page or so of the first chapter. I think I'll go ahead and post chapter one in its entirity, if you want to take a look. Thanks!

9:01 PM  
Blogger Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I'm going to send you some stuff offline, too. Just some ideas. Never got my crapometer entry in due to work constraints, but wish I had!

2:45 PM  

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