Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dry Rivers, Saving Grace, & Plundered Booties

Okay I know this has been a miserable week of posts, but your loss is my gain since all of my recent creative efforts have gone to ... my actual writing projects!

Since I have no witty stories to share, or insightful words of wisdom I'm gonna talk about what I've been thinking about.

A River Without Water - This is the novel I am currently querying for and after the recent comments I am in the process of rereading the manuscript while trying to remedy a few problems recently pointed out. Here is a brief description that I sue in my query. If anyone feels compelled to comment let me know -- and don't be shy with criticism.


Fed up with running from the past, Lindsay Parker recruits a stranger to drive her cross-country to confront her father. As they travel Lindsay and the stranger, Blue Riggins discover a common theme to their heartache, as well as a growing attraction for one another.
Lindsay Parker has always run. As a young girl, she ran to feel free and alive. As a teenager, she chased glory in the track world. At seventeen, she slowed long enough for Rusty Hawkins to sweet talk her into the backseat of his Trans-Am. For the last nine years Lindsay has simply ran away. Away from one failed relationship after another. Away from her father in Oklahoma. Away from the abortion, she will never forget.
Blue Riggins is a man others envy for his stout physical stature, confident, firm demeanor, and ice-cool approach to adversity. A rodeo star turned pro poker player, he knows this entire persona is merely a bluff. The only real thing in his life vanished four years ago when his wife died in childbirth. Since then, he has allowed no one to get close, including his young daughter.
As they travel across the west, Lindsay and Blue face the rigors of the road, well-meaning but misguided friends, and meddlesome family members, but the truth awaiting Lindsay’s homecoming might be more than their newfound love can overcome.


My as yet untitled work in progress- I'm five chapters in, about 15,000 words of what will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 90,000, I think. Again a short description.

Sex is ruining Grace's life.

Her sixty seven year old nymph mother is about to get kicked out of the retirement village for loud and frequent love sessions.
Her fifteen year old son is dying for his first taste.
The barn cats insist on using the area beneath her window as their brothel.
And then their is her husband, Royce McEwen.

From Royce's bull semen empire, to his belief that there isn't any conflict between a man a woman that cannot be settled by a good roll in the hay. The problem is Royce seems to be in "conflict" with lots of women.


I'm not quite ready to add the major hook to this description, but I will say Grace's plans to remedy her sex quandary will definitely shake things up for all these characters. This WIP has been a challenge for me, but now I've introduced the characters, written a chapter in every POV characters perspective, and solved a few of the problems dogging me so I have hopes the pace will pick up.

Sick of reading about my writing world yet? Too bad I have one more.

Plundered Booty - This one is my anomaly. Plundered Booty is a 8,000 word short story I penned a few months back. Originally, it started out as an exercise to help me develop a more humorous tone to my writing. Despite the content of this blog I have a tendency to write dark -- too dark for the taste of some. Anyway, Plundered Booty will never be confused for Women's Fiction so that is why I say it is an anomaly.


I never meant the story to see the light of day but then something weird happened. I made myself laugh writing it. I finished the thing. I read it and thought now that's pretty good if I do say so myself. Then I let others read it. They laughed. Some said this is the best thing you've ever written. Then my friend Debbie Elliott-Upton through down a challenge. Flesh it out. I DARE YOU to turn it into a novel.

Now I've never been one to turn down a healthy dare so that too is in the works. I know the story and the characters but I am struggling to find the exact right starting place for Plundered Booty - The Novel. In case you're wondering it's a modern day pirate story involving car dealers, Caribbean Rum and ... well plundered booties. Here is the first line of the short story.

I took one look at her and knew she would cost one of the guys their marriage. I just didn’t realize -- that guy would be me.

So that is what's up in my world. Would love to hear y'alls initial reaction to any of these projects, good and bad. Remember, I once was a high school football referee -- in Texas -- where Friday night Football is king. There is nothing any agent, editor, or blog reader can say to offend. Trust me when I say I heard much worse out there amongst the painted lines of the football field, and that was from the player's grandmothers.

10 comments:

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Travis!

You have GOT to finish Grace's story. You said that you wrote plundered booty as an exercise to give your writing a more humorous tone but, as I see it, Grace's story can't be anything other than humorous, what with her mother and the bull semen empire and all.

As to A River Without Water, I am so happy that you got a nice critique along with your last rejection, but my caution is that just because someone says this or that would make it better, be sure that it would improve on the story you want to tell, not on the story they think you want to tell.

And remember, I am only querying my first novel, so I am the last to know anything.

Good luck. Terrie

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

You know what I'm going to say, but I'm repeating it anyway. My moeny's on "Plundered Booty." It is just the best writing I've ever read from you and I've read plenty of your excellent stories. I can't tell you how often in a critique group someone is told their story begins where they now have Chapter 4. Keep writing. You'll know when you get to the sweet spot.

alex keto said...

For what it's worth, maybe you could use this as the lead in your query and then go back to what you have.

As a young girl, Lindsey Parker ran to feel free and alive. As a teenager, she chased glory in the track world. At seventeen, she slowed long enough for Rusty Hawkins to sweet talk her into the backseat of his Trans-Am. For the last nine years Lindsay has simply ran away. Away from one failed relationship after another. Away from her father in Oklahoma. Away from the abortion, she will never forget.

Plundered Booty was very good and a lot of story for 8,000 words. I could see it as a novel. Do you think you can sustain the surprise ending even out at 70,000 or 90,00 words? That would be my only question.

The current WIP punches a bunch of buttons in woman's fiction, I should imagine. From that point of view, it may get snapped up quicker than the River Without Water which ran into some political buzz saws for no apparent reason at times.

So, you're two new works seem like they both are very promising. Follow your instinct on which one to pursue at the moment and which one you are most excited over. Being enthusiastic about a project seems to be the key.

Bluefingers said...

Grace gets her Booty Plundered....

Hey Travis,

You know my opinion. Both the new WIP and Booty are fabulous. Both of them have made me laugh out loud. Both of them, in my humble opinion, are the best you have written, at least in what I have read.

I have the same concern that Alex raises. Could you keep that wonderful ending to booty a surprise for 70K words? That in itself will be a challenge.

And as far as the bull semen...This is wonderfully fresh and new. Well, not the semen itself, but your story yes.

have a wonderful weekend.

Yours in words,

Me

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

The surprise ending of Plundered Booty can definitely work at 70,000 + words. There's room for lots of characterization within this framework. Okay, I'll be quiet now. Okay, so maybe I won't, but I'll try.

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks to all of you who have weighed in. My writing has needed a jolt of energy for weeks and this last week has finally been good.

jjdebenedictis said...

Errors in the first query:

Fed up with running from the past, Lindsay Parker recruits a stranger to drive her cross-country to confront her father. As they travelCOMMA Lindsay and the stranger, Blue RigginsCOMMA discover a common theme to their heartache,(maybe delete comma) as well as a growing attraction for one another.
Lindsay Parker has always run. As a young girl, she ran to feel free and alive. As a teenager, she chased glory in the track world. At seventeen, she slowed long enough for Rusty Hawkins to sweetHYPHENtalk her into the backseat of his Trans-Am. For the last nine yearsCOMMA Lindsay has simply ran(run) away. Away from one failed relationship after another. Away from her father in Oklahoma. Away from the abortion,(delete comma) she will never forget.


One sentence in the second sentence that makes no grammatical sense:

From Royce's bull semen empire, to his belief that there isn't any conflict between a man a woman that cannot be settled by a good roll in the hay.

This is a dependent clause with no independent clause attached to it. The reader is left waiting for whatever the sentence is really supposed to be about. You need to change the period to a comma and add the independent clause.

alex keto said...

At the risk of being pummeled for bad literary tastes, I would simply mention John Grisham's first novel, The Firm. In that, he managed to keep the ending, winding up on Cayman Brac with millions a surprise pretty much to the end. I thought of that ending in the Booty story.

Of course, the book was written in third person present going forward, not as narrator looking back. But that can be dealt with one way or another.

Jenn said...

I think everything you do is wonderful.

Travis Erwin said...

Commas are not my friend.

Thanks for the help. I can always use it.