Stephen Phillips

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I've been writing as a hobby for a long time.  I've decided to get serious.  I've finished three novels so far but am lost when it comes to publishing, querying, and editing (I edit myself but I can only do so much).  Online forums weren't working for me.  I'm an introvert and an agoraphobe so I have no life outside my writing room and my immediate family (my brother and our aging mother.  However, I see the need for personal interaction and the ability to Q&A with others involved in all aspects of writing.  An online presence seems to be my best option.  Have I said too much?  Probably.  My first novel busted 130k.  My second hit 200k.  See the pattern?

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Stephen Phillips Discussions
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Since I've had to bail on The Cloud series for now, I'm working up a new novel to stand alone.  This…
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  •  · I totally agree with your comment about the long section of the car and garage.  It's good to get so…
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It's been a week since my agent 1-2-1 with Holly Dawson and now I feel I can fully relate my experie…
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  •  · Hi Jane, thanks for your comments.  Brilliant that you have done the self edit course! I've tried to…
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Well, it's been a rough winter so far.  The isolation in this part of the US has been really tough a…
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  •  · Thanks.  I've gotten the query and synopsis written.  I'm letting them stew for a bit (since I'm mak…
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Well, I've been here before.  A lot of great suggestions have been given and I tried following them …
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  •  · I forgot to mention you can do it replies with the paper clip button down below the text.  Welcome a…
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Okay, so, someone told me the hardest part of writing a novel is writing the novel. Did they not tr…
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  •  · I agree that it is a step in the right direction and it is a lot more engaging but I think this can …
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I meant to do this a couple weeks ago but thanks to work furlough and a broken unemployment, I ran o…
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  •  · Hi Stephen. I'm really glad to have made a small contribution to your edit, which is a huge improvem…

I totally agree with your comment about the long section of the car and garage.  It's good to get someone else's opinion on it just to be sure.  I bugged the crap out of me.  I want Frank to be dedicated and methodical even on his last day.  The break thing introduces that he's already undergoing treatment so that'll stay.  It weakens his otherwise impressive combat skills.  But getting there felt a little too... boring for me.
And yeah, filtering. My public enemy number 1. Fortunately, as you guessed, this is first draft. I didn't do much editing here, focusing on spelling, punctuation, and grammar so people reading it wouldn't be looking at a hot mess. The filtering will tend to stay in the first draft until the rewrite. It's just how my brain works for some reason. The filtering will die a slow and painful death in the rewrite.
If the voice is working and I'm getting through with Frank's character, I've succeeded, although a little too well. I've added your notes to the draft. Scrivener is a wonderful tool and I can't thank the person who recommended it enough.
Thanks, Kate.  You're efforts and opinion are always appreciated!

For reference, here is the working query I've got going for it to give you some context.


Frank Bishop, an army sergeant who lost his wife and child to a drunk driver while on his last tour in Afghanistan.  Six years later Frank, a Seattle cop, loses his job when he pulls over the same drunk, two days out on parole and drunk behind the wheel, and nearly beats him to death in a moment of enraged grief.  Now, seven years later, the unkindest cut of all.  Frank, now a lowly security guard, is diagnosed with advanced stage Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  For Frank, there can be no God.

Razili, one of the 144,000 marked for salvation before the apocalypse can begin.  Blessed with immortality and cursed to eternal conflict with the forces of Hell, she is the last of the chosen, all that stands between humanity and the end.  Razili, who looks almost exactly like the wife Frank lost 13 years before.

On Frank’s last night at work, he stumbles upon an insane melee as Razili fights against her demon enemies.  He jumps in and helps fight them off.  Now, with Razili critically injured and the hosts of Hell hot on his heels, Frank must put aside his faithlessness and find a way to keep Razili alive even as his own health fails.  If he can’t, the forces of Hell will be unleashed on an unsuspecting world as the apocalypse begins.

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Since I've had to bail on The Cloud series for now, I'm working up a new novel to stand alone.  This is the opening chapter of The Last Chosen, an action thriller (still nailing down the exact genre). Frank's the hero. I've tried to hint at every element of his personality and background, sometimes overt (his attention to detail, work-ethic), sometimes subtle (references to weaponry used indicating military and police background). As always, need honest and brutal, but fair, feedback. Your opinions are always important and appreciated!

WARNING: Graphic language appears below.

Frank Bishop arrived early.  He usually did.  Traffic into downtown wasn’t an issue except on the weekends.  Frank only worked weekends when he needed overtime.  He’d worked a lot of weekends recently.

Frank had already replaced his civies with his uniform by the time the off-going shift started arriving.  They entered by ones and twos looking tired.  Each greeted Frank in turn.  None could quite meet his eyes.  He greeted them back.  And didn’t take it personally.  He made them nervous.  Like death standing in the room with them.  Not far off, either.

Robert arrived, the last of the swing shift crew, dragging D’ante behind.  Poor kid looked dead on his feet.  Not that Robert looked much better.  Working the light rail was a bitch.  Uniforms attracted angry people like flowers brought bees.

“How’re things, Frank?” Robert asked, stripping his uniform shirt off.

“They’re going,” Frank said.

“Chemo all set?”

Frank gave him a glance, a nod.  “Monday.”

“Give it hell,” Robert said.

“You gonna kick that lymphoma’s ass, Frank?” Billy called from his locker.  Billy’s gut pushed out from his uniform shirt like a strange pregnancy.

“It’s leukemia, dipshit,” Robert said.

Frank lips curled in a slight smile.

“Well, saw-ry, boss,” Billy said, hiding his face in his locker.

“Frank’s a tough motherfucker,” Angel said.  The thin Mexican dreamer had worked with Frank the longest.  His accent was thick.  His head wasn’t no matter how he tough tried to talk.  He was six months from a master’s degree in teaching.  Then he’d say goodbye to this shit job and be in the classroom.  That’s what he told everyone, anyway.  “He don’t take shit from nobody.”

“You learn how to talk like that in school, Angel?” Jake asked.  “Or was that your mom.”

“Hey, get off mom’s,” Angel retorted.  “I don’t wanna have to get back on yours.”

Guffaws broke out, Jake’s loudest among them.

“Seriously, brother,” Angel said, dropping the heavy accent.  “We’re going to miss you around here.”

A chorus of yeahs with a fuckin’ A thrown in.

“I’ll miss this place,” Frank said.  “Maybe not you guys…”

He got another round of laughs.

Robert came over, sat next to Frank.  He put a hand on Frank’s shoulder.

“Seriously, man,” he said.  “We’re rootin’ hard for you.  This isn’t your last day, okay?”

Frank pulled the Seattle Mariners ballcap from his head, revealing smooth scalp beneath it.  He’d shaved it in anticipation of losing it, just to get used to the feel.

“Bobby,” Frank said.  “This isn’t something people come back from.”

D’ante, half-stripped of his uniform, looked over.  “Hey man, you gotta think positive.  You gotta have hope.  Miracles happen.”

Robert sighed, shook his head.

Frank’s eyes fell on the photo taped to the interior of his locker.  Mary and Vicky.

“Miracles died with God,” Frank said, not bothering looking at the twenty-year-old.  

He grabbed his cloth beanie, slapped the locker door closed, then headed for the exit.  From the hall, he heard Robert chewing D’ante’s ass up one locker and down another.  He wanted to tell Robert not to bother.  Why ruin the kid’s hopes?  But then, hope never amounted to anything anyway.  He left them behind and went to the staging office to get his night started.

Frank punched in the code for the key box, took his usual key 4, then secured the box again.  He had his choice among the five patrol vehicles but why break seven years of habit on his last night?  

Outside, a few stars poked through Bellevue’s light pollution.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Miracles might be dead but wonders never ceased.  Four was parked beneath the light pole nearest the door, just where it should be.  Angel knew Frank’s choice and never missed a beat in providing it.  A double tap on the fob unlocked all the doors on the Ford Escape.  Frank opened each one in turn, driver’s, passenger’s, finishing at the hatchback, where the clipboard and paperwork waited, also as usual.

Frank took a blank Vehicle Inspection form from the notebook tucked into the side panel, attached it to the clipboard, and made a second tour of the Escape, jotting down every irregularity.  After noting a minor scratch across the PacSec logo on the passenger door that hadn’t been there yesterday, Frank checked off the form, signed it, and put it in the Completed Forms section of the notebook.  Satisfied, Frank resecured the SUV and returned to the office.

Inside, he collected his standard Motorola and affixed a lapel mike.  A battery check showed full charge.  Frank grabbed an extra from the charger.  Never be without a radio.  It had been drilled into him early, in a different career.  He never forgot.  A freshly charged Maglite and the night shift android cell with tour tracking software completed his gear.

Back in the car, he queued the mike on his radio.  “Dispatch, patrol 4.”

“Standby, patrol 4,” Susie’s voice came back.

Frank started the Ford and settled in for the wait.  Shift change occurred across all staff promptly at eleven.  The dash clock confirmed his watch’s reading of 11:01.  Susie would just be sitting down, logging in.  A minute clicked passed before Susie piped back in.

“Patrol 4, go ahead.”

“Patrol 4 at base.  Mileage 144,000.  Fuel at 3/4.  Beginning patrol.”

“Copy, patrol 4,” Susie said, all business.  When next she spoke, her tone had softened, unlike her normal radio voice.  “Hey Frank.  Everyone here asked me to say how sorry we are.  We’re going to miss you.”

Although against company regulations for radio chatter, Frank didn’t correct her.  He knew his departure and, more, the reason behind it, had hit people hard.  No one liked to be reminded of life’s mortality.

“Thanks, Susie,” he said instead.

“We’ll all be praying for you,” Susie said.

Frank shook his head.  He keyed the mike, released it without speaking.  No use making a bad situation worse.  He took a breath, released it, then keyed the mike again.

“I’m sure I can use all I can get,” Frank said.  He returned to business.  “Departing base for Expedia.”

“Copy, patrol 4,” Susie said, tone returning to normal.  “Base to Expedia.  Stay safe out there.”

Frank smiled.  Most dispatchers offered similar sentiments.  As though patrolling parking garages on the night shift offered anything other than boring driving.

“Will do,” he replied through his smile.  “4 out.”

Frank drove out from base to I-90 and took the westbound on-ramp.  He pegged the cruise control at 60 and settled the company vehicle into the center lane for the trip from south Bellevue across Lake Washington.  At the interchange on the west side, he took the feeder to I-5 north, bypassing his three downtown patrols.  Changing up the patrol order was as ingrained as always keeping a spare battery.  For the rare occasion that it mattered, Frank wanted to be unpredictable to any criminals with an eye on his properties.

Frank left I-5 and took 50th west.  This would take him to Elliott Bay through Ballard instead of downtown, another tactic he used to stay unpredictable.  South on 15th brought him across the drawbridge and into Elliott Bay.  As usual, he waited ten eternities for the Galer Street Flyover light to let him turn left.  On the other side, he radioed the start of his first patrol.  Susie came back with her usual crisp acknowledgment.

The Expedia Complex, once home to a biotech company, dazzled the eye with its rich outer decor and lush landscaping.  Frank had only seen it twice in the three years he’d been coming here.  All the money and time spent beautifying the place meant zilch once the sun went down.  Still, three parking garages needing patrols meant he kept a job when others might not.

Frank drove each floor at the posted 5 mph limit.  20 cars occupied space enough for over 3,000.  Frank recognized all but one but since it was parked in with the other personals of the on-site security, he bypassed it.  At each designated tour point, Frank exited the Ford, used the android to take a picture and record his presence, then resumed his patrol.  A lot of co-workers complained about the tour system.  Frank used the opportunity to stretch his legs.  43-year-old legs needed a hell of a lot of stretching.  His co-workers would find that out.  Eventually.

Finding nothing amiss, he used his personal cell to call the on-site security office.  The company android had no call features, just data programs.  The GSOC (Global Security Operations Center) supervisor answered, offered her own words of comfort and farewell, and accepted his all-clear report.  She wished him a speedy recovery.  Frank thanked her and hung up.  The last of the well-wishers until morning shift change.

Finished with the site, Frank crossed the flyover and turned south on Elliott.  Elliott took him directly onto Denny Way for his second patrol, a 5-story public garage.  He arrived just after midnight and used his magnetic keycard to bypass the ticket arm.  Once inside, he radioed his arrival.

Cars filled the first floor, late night city visitors and bar hoppers mostly.  He stopped, hit his tour point, then coasted serenely through the garage’s empty middle floors.  On five, year-round residents of a nearby condo building parked their vehicles.  Frank splashed the light from the Ford’s door-mounted spotlight on each car carefully.  At one million candlelight power, it erased every shadow.  Frank knew the tenants noticed; he’d received two dozen calls and letters of appreciation from the tenants who saw him working from their building two blocks away.  Frank hit his tour mark at the elevator lobby on five, radioed out, left.

He finished his first full run by hitting the parking garages on 3rd then the Boren Avenue public garage serving Swedish on First Hill.  Afterward, he took his first break sitting in the Ford.  He ate a protein bar, drank water, and scratched absently at the pheresis bandage.  The catheter dimple itched for days after treatment.  Much as he didn’t look forward to chemo, at least he wouldn’t have a catheter line shoved in his neck like some weird technological vampire.

He radioed his break finished and his destination as the garage on 3rd.  Never repeat the order of patrols.  Another tactic to stay unpredictable.  He drove down Seneca to 3rd, took a right, went past Pike, and turned into the garage on his left.  He immediately saw something amiss.  The lights were out.

Frank knew the power was on but looked around just to be sure.  Every building surrounding the garage remained lit.  The bar across the street sent out thudding waves of bass.  He called dispatched.

“Go ahead, 4,” Susie came back.

“Arrived 3rd Avenue garage,” Frank said.  He glanced at the gate arm.  The red light on the card reader still shone.  “No lights on.  Power for the gate arm is working.  No power outage in vicinity.”

“Copy, 4,” Susie replied.  A short silence followed.  Patrol 1 tried to break in.  Susie snapped for him to stand by.  Frank sighed.  Patrols should know better.  Don’t interrupt comm traffic.  “4, proceed with patrol.  Use caution.  We’re contacting maintenance.”

“Acknowledged,” Frank said.  He knew damn well maintenance wouldn’t bother answering the phone at 1:20 am.  No matter.  He had his spot.  He could light up a building ten blocks away with it.  “4 beginning patrol.  Out.”

Frank tuned out Patrol 1’s immediate radio chatter and badged himself into the garage.  He rolled through the ground floor without hitting the tour station.  He’d be writing an incident report anyway.  He’d explain the discrepancy there.  While full of cars, the level had nothing else of note.  Same with the second and third levels except no cars.  As soon as he crested the ramp to four, Frank night took a sharp left turn away from routine. 

Someone had smashed a Toyota parked near the ramp.  The front end was folded in like it had hit a power pole at a significant rate of speed.  The windshield was a webwork of cracks.  The passenger door hung open, drooping toward the concrete.  The other was simply gone.  The car itself lay askew of its parking spot by about three feet.  Someone had tooled it bad.  Frank stopped the Ford and called dispatch.

No response.

Frank cued the mic several times.  It chirped as usual but nothing came back.  Only the open hum of a dead line.  While he stared at the base unit, checking the channel, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye.  He looked up in time to see a shadow flit across the passenger side-view mirror.  It disappeared into the dim recesses of the central garage before he could make out any details.

Frank’s alert level increased.  He scanned the entire area around the patrol vehicle, even shifting the transmission into reverse to use the back up camera.  Nothing but darkness around him.  The lights of the city seemed to fall flat against it, leaving the garage in total shadow.  Even the Ford’s high-intensity LED headlamps looked diluted.

Frank felt familiar anxiety building up, something not felt in a long time.  The surge of adrenaline just before the shit hit the fan.  Whether carrying a AR-15 in the sweltering heat of Afghanistan or a 9mm during a chilly Seattle rain, it never changed.  He welcomed it like an old friend long thought dead.

His eyes told him nothing so he powered the driver’s side window down three inches.  Faint heavy bass from the bar below drifted in.  Something else.  A grunt, then a cry.  Someone in pain.  The cry turned into a scream that cut off mid-utterance.  Then, a sound he didn’t understand at first.  Metal on metal, like pipes banging together.  It sounded familiar but his mind couldn’t make the connection.  The sound came from the passenger side, deeper within the structure.  Frank checked his surroundings one more time, then fully lowered the passenger window.  Huffing sounds.  Grunting.  People fighting.  More clanging sounds.  His mind came up blank again.  Frank knew what the noise was somewhere.  He just couldn’t find it.  Another cry, again cut off.  Then, a woman’s scream of pain.

That jolted Frank into motion.  He dropped the transmission into drive, switched on the spot, and gunned the gas.  The sounds were coming from the other side of the concrete divider wall.  He’d have to go to the end of the structure and come around the back side.

As the SUV lurched forward, a figure dashed across the headlight beams.  It happened so fast with Frank so absorbed in listening, he nearly missed it.  All he caught was a male, hunched over, carrying a metallic object in one hand.  Seeing what the man carried finally unlocked his brain’s attempt to solve the metal sounds.  Also why he couldn’t figure it out.  It just didn’t seem plausible.  Not in this day and age.

The man carried a sword.

The SUV reached the end of the row.  Frank slowed, turned the wheel, and guided it around the concrete divider.  The sweep of the Ford’s lights illuminated a chaotic melee 30 feet ahead.  For a moment, Frank could only stare, his foot leaving the brake, allowing the Ford to coast forward unchecked.

In the center, a woman standing with her back against the concrete divider.  Surrounding her, six figures moving in a dancing half-circle.  The woman held a sword in her right hand.  She raised the other.  He heard a sound he placed immediately: the coughing belch of a large-caliber handgun being fired through a professional-grade silencer.  One of the six fell, joining three other bodies lying in various poses of death.  The remaining five recoiled.  Frank saw four of the five carried blades as well, though none as long or bright as the woman’s.

As the brightness of the spotlight hit the group, they froze as if on cue.  Heads turned.  Frank saw snarls of anger on the assailants.  When he saw the woman’s face, Frank stamped on the brake hard enough to lock his seatbelt.

Dark hair flowed down her back, raven in the harsh light.  Bronze skin.  Smooth, gentle face.  Slim build on a tall frame.  It couldn’t be.

“Mary,” escaped his lips in a sigh.

He no longer saw the sword.  Or the gun.  He saw only the woman he loved, surrounded by attackers ready to kill.  Frank slammed the transmission into park, unlatched his safety belt, and opened the door.  He had to save her.  What happened in the intervening years didn’t matter.  That she hadn’t aged a day didn’t matter either.

Nor the fact that she’d been dead for 13 years.

Fantastic news.  I'm glad things worked out so well for you.  To have things done so meticulously feels good, especially when you're starting out.  I'm still struggling with the confidence myself being a novice and having someone so extremely in the know give honest and (sometimes) brutal feedback can be what is necessary to boost you to the next level.  Good luck with your revisions.  Sounds like you've got what you need to succeed.  (Nah, I'm not a poet, I just rhyme sometime!)

1) We're chaos incarnate.  At least for now.

2)You must read every little word on every single.... sorry, that was my asshat twin talking.  There's no hard and fast rule set here.  Picking up a reading should be based more on your desired type of story and your confidence in giving positive feedback in a constructive way.  If you're working it like a job, you're probably missing the point.  Try reading someone's submission.  If the first page doesn't grab you, try someone else's.  Feedback comes more from your ability to give it than from your ability to read 10,000 words a month.

3)We search by repeating ourselves ad infinitum ad neaseum.  However, at the top of your page, next to Jericho Townhouse, you'll see a magnifying glass.  It's the search engine for our little forum.

4) Sadly, those options aren't present at this time.  Perhaps in the new system Jericho is working on.

Hope this helps.

Welcome from the guy who shows up rarely and leaves comments in a whimsical fashion.  I get the idea of genre changing.  My first work (sad as it was) fell into fantasy.  My second work is supernatural horror.  My third, which was to be my opener, is sci-fi.  Now, the sci-fi is on the shelf as it is a 5-part series opener which I've been told isn't the best way to try and start a career so I'm back to the supernatural horror which I'm editing down from 200k words to (I hope) 100-120k.  Hope you have all the success with your genre jump and your new novel.

Yeah, I'm a little late.  Been away for a while doing my thing.  I'm about as regular online as a constipated rhinoceros.  But, welcome!  

I understand how you feel exactly.  I felt so nervous in the moments leading up to each appointment time.  It got even worse when the phone didn't ring.  The first time was the most crushing because I wasn't aware of Holly's illness.  I thought, 'Oh, man, is my work that terrible?' But when the phone call finally went through, I found that I didn't have to ask any questions at all. When you get your 1-2-1 session, the person you're talking to, at least in my experience, knows exactly what you want to ask long before you knew you wanted to ask it. These people are consummate professionals. They would have to be for Jericho to enlist them. They've done this work many times over. Your best bet if you do chose to go through with a 1-2-1 is to simply say 'hi, how are you?' and then let the professional do their work. Write down any questions you have in the days leading up to the phone call. If the agent hasn't actually answered all of them, then you can ask them. Remember, the agent gets your work well ahead of your meet date. They study it, tear it apart, and prepare for the call. You should too. I wrote down eleven questions for Holly. I ended up asking one. And I had a feeling I knew the answer. She just confirmed it.
As for my finished novel, it is shelved but not forgotten.  It will be a good stepping stone for me to get out of the beginning of my career and into the long term.  Thanks for the encouragement though.  I can never get enough of that.  I'll probably post the first chapter of my new novel soon.  It's written already.  I'm working on the revision now.  I've got to get it down from 200,000 words to a more workable length.  I'm 6 chapters in and cleared out 18,000 words so I'm on track.  Good luck with your digital publishing.

I did forget one thing (which I figured I would do).  Holly managed to find me a comp title.  I've had the hardest time trying to figure out a comp title that would work where a male protagonist lived in a society where humans and mutations were separated by hate while hiding his own special abilities while living in a post apocalyptic world shrouded by a religious fanaticism (yeah, it's that specific).  Holly actually found one.  The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, which I'm reading right now.  She also gave me a pointer toward the Mortal Engines quartet for style and voice, saying my writing and setting led her to think of that.  So, yeah, even more greatness from an already stellar session.

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It's been a week since my agent 1-2-1 with Holly Dawson and now I feel I can fully relate my experience.  I wanted to take the extra time to sit and percolate properly as the experience was new and quite a lot to take in.
First off, just getting together with Holly turned out to be quite the challenge. Our original appointment date came and went without contact. I received an email half an hour later from Jericho saying that Holly was quite unwell. Several attempts were rescheduled and ultimately failed due to the ongoing health issues but neither Jericho nor Holly would give up. A week later, we were finally able to have our sit down on the phone and I have to tell you it was worth the wait.
Holly shredded my query (which was exactly what I needed) and helped me to tone it down to what it needed to be. She also corrected my only mistake on my synopsis (which I had actually already corrected on my own in the intervening week; I messed up and didn't actually answer all the plot developments properly) and gave me an honest, critical review of my writing. She addressed tone, voice, style. She was so in tune with the writing, she managed to pick up the ultra-subtle fact that there are actually two voices (in a 1st person narrative) because the voice telling the story is doing so by narrating the memories of the person the 1st person narrative is about. And she got that in 5,000 words. Holly was even straight enough to tell me that it might be best, despite how well the story was written, to shelve it. Trying to start a career with a 5-novel story might not be the best approach. She had enough guts to tell me to that, which I respected just as much as everything else she did. It told me she wasn't just pandering for me. She really had my best interests at heart. So, the novel, though it is complete, will sit on the shelf while I write a single, stand-alone novel to kickstart a career.
In a 15 minute phone conversation, the level of professionalism, courtesy, and skill Holly brought to the table was enormous. I can not recommend the Agent 1-2-1 service enough. If you haven't tried it and you're just stumped on how to get your novel package ready for the agenting process, use it. Even if you end up waiting a week longer, it'll be worth it.
Thanks to Holly and to Polly from Jericho for not giving up on the session.  It was awesome!

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Well, it's been a rough winter so far.  The isolation in this part of the US has been really tough and my ability to get online has been spotty at best.  I've been hard at work though and have finished my rewrite (again), fashioning my story based on JW online courses and the fantastic feedback from my peers here.  Now it's time for the all important query letter/synopsis.  I'm tackling one at a time (since my brain is still kind of mush from pushing out 117,000 words in three months).  If anyone would be kind enough to offer their opinions, I would be grateful.  I'm wanting to go through with the Agent 121 on the JW side but the feature isn't working at the moment (it seems to be stuck in December), so that gives me time to sharpen up.  Most appreciated.

Dear (Agent Name)

I am seeking representation for my first novel Clouds of Separation, an 117,000 word science fiction novel exploring prejudice and self-doubt in a post-apocalypse setting.

“You’re a monster.”

It’s all Micah has heard in the ten years since he awoke from his encounter with the Cloud, memories locked behind a dark curtain in his mind, body mutated by the Cloud’s cruel touch.  His home village of Skykom fears him for how he looks.  He fears them for how they treat him.  But he awoke with something else: the power of the Blessed, a thing no man on earth has ever possessed.  Micah fears the power inside him even more for it only comes when he is angry or fearful.   To use it would make him the monster they believe him to be.

When a new Cloud attack devastates Skykom, Micah flees into the unknown ruins of the world, seeking a new home where prejudice and fear don’t exist.   Instead, he finds the Norads, a brutal race of mutated conquerors who will stop at nothing to learn the secret of Micah’s powers.  Trapped in the ruins of an ancient city, Micah finds himself caught between two societies, separated by a century of hate, suffering beneath the Norad’s cruel hand.  Micah must find a way to bridge the gulf between them and embrace the power that lies dormant within him before the Norads destroy them all.

While I have no writing credits yet, I belong to and have benefitted greatly from the Jericho Writers workshop online writing and drafting courses as well as the Jericho Townhouse conversation forums where I’ve been able to work with my peers to enhance my understanding of the craft.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,

Stephen Phillips

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Well, I've been here before.  A lot of great suggestions have been given and I tried following them but my skill and knowledge weren't very good.  So, I headed over to the JW portion and began taking the online video courses. Thanks to HB's great narration and instruction, I now understand so much of what people have been trying to politely pound through my thick skull.  My narrative has been met with the same basic critique: voice and showing vs. telling.  I didn't have the voice and I did far too much telling.  So, I went back to the drawing board, opened a brand new document and started over fresh, using the suggestions coupled with my new found knowledge (thanks JW!!!).  But before I go overboard, I'd like to see if I'm on the right track.  So, feedback on the first section would be eminently appreciated.  Just a shave over 2,100 words so it shouldn't take long but I've tried to put Micah's voice fully into the story and show the world around him through his eyes rather than telling it through my own.

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Stephen Phillips
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