Wednesday, June 5, 2013

QK Round 2: The Fisherman vs. Zone Tripper

Entry Nickname: The Fisherman
Title: The Fisherman
Word count: 90K
Genre: Adult Literary Suspense


Everyone Jude Fisher has ever loved is dead. His parents, his three best friends, the love of his life—they’ve all gone to their untimely graves. And Jude has killed them, every one. It’s a curse: when he loves someone, they’re laid low. It never fails. They always die.

THE FISHERMAN pits the world-weary, 22-year-old Jude against the ultra-violent Lucas Moordenaar, a depraved killer who murdered Jude’s parents a decade before, triggering the boy’s tragic malediction. When Lucas is about to be paroled, Jude embarks on a relentless, three-day mission from Minnesota to upstate New York, where Lucas sits in prison, waiting for him like some terrible spider. Jude must stop the man who birthed his curse from going free: if he doesn’t, he’ll be forever doomed to walk the earth, killing anyone unlucky enough to become his friend.

Jude trips through trains, buses, city streets, and country roads on his spasmodic journey to Greenvale State Penitentiary, haunted by his dead loved ones. He is tortured especially by the apparition of his lovely Angela, whose death wounded him worst of all. Her dying wish was that Jude seek out the man that murdered his parents and learn the truth about his curse. Jude won’t let her down: he will meet this monstrous evil face-to-face.

First 250 words:

The question I get most since they chucked me in this hole is this: Are you sorry for what you done? Everybody asks me, when they find out what I done. And its sorta an interestin question. It sets me to thinkin.

See, there are probly a few who are sorry. The two pukes I wasted in here for starters. If you could ask them now, which you cant, they would most definitely wish I hadnt squirted up into the system and trickled down and out the shitpipe into scenic Greenvale State Peniten-shee-ary.

Its like I always says: you dont cross Big Luke. Some learnt that little factoid harder than others, but they all learnt it. Tell the truth bout them pukes I dusted, the both of em deserved what they got. Anyone I ever waxed deserved it, matter of plain fact. They was in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing, all of them.

But the little kid, you see, the reason I landed here—he maybe didnt deserve what he got. But hell, I still aint even answered the questionI done my share of crazy shit, but I always meant to do it. Always did it with purpose. But with the kid, I didnt mean for none of it to happen the way it did.

And I might tell you too much over the next few pages. I might tell you all about shit I done thatll make you want to puke. Hell, you might even grow to hate me a little. You wouldnt be the first.


Entry Nickname: Zone Tripper
Zone Trippers
Word count: 90,000
Genre: Adult SciFi


Owen MacIntyre already lost his wife to cancer and now his daughter is missing. But he can’t just file a missing person’s report—Eve is infected with Zone Tripper’s disease, which causes people across the globe to involuntarily swap souls en masse. Eve’s body remains at home, serving as a revolving door for other zone trippers, while her soul leaps into other trippers all over the world.

In quick progression, Eve finds herself in a Chinese slave laborer, a blind French woman, then in a dying woman. Only a train stop away from home, Eve’s soul jumps once more and she hasn’t been heard from since.

Owen struggles with the strong personalities rotating through Eve’s body as he continues to search for Eve’s soul, using the website he co-creates with one of Eve’s visiting souls, Humberto.

Meanwhile, the world has segregated itself into two camps—the trippers and the statics. The survival odds for zone trippers are falling fast, with horrific conditions waiting on the other side of a bad trip.

And to further complicate their fates, a tasteless reality show, Identity Theft, debases victims on international television while zone-tripping serial murderer, called the Infinity Killer, has put other trippers in his cross hairs.

Owen must risk his own safety—and soul—before he loses his daughter for good. But how do you find a missing person when it's her soul that's left?

First 250 words:
Home is where the heart breaks, my wife had always said.

She wasn’t wrong.

The garage door opened its jaws and swallowed my car whole. Each time I pulled into the drive, it’s a fist to the gut. My daughter Eve’s Toyota sat in the third bay, seemingly miles away. A small ghost of an oil stain marks the center spot.

Walking out to the bricked mailbox in the frigid March air, I leafed through today’s bills, which included a tuition payment. I had agreed to pay for Eve’s frivolous photography degree, but only if she factored in a few business courses, achieved stellar grades, and lived at home.

Photography is a hobby. Taking pictures isn’t a career. How many times had I told Eve that?

A junk mail letter with Penelope’s name caught between the tuition statement and a flyer. I stopped rifling and swallowed hard. Shouldn’t this have stopped by now? It had been three years. Ironically, it was an ad for life insurance.

Viewing the house from the outside made it seem emptier. Penelope had stood here almost every day, gathering the mail—until she was too sick to walk outside. The house held 5,200 square feet of broken memories. Her fingerprints could still be seen on her vanity mirror but her absence echoed from every corner. Her love seat held air, her bedside table sat naked, and her painting studio was empty now except for dust. Every night I forced myself to enter this tomb for Eve’s sake.


  1. This comment is reserved for judges' votes

    1. Victory to ZONE TRIPPER.

      Because the writing is good in both, this one really came down to concept for me and I just found Zone Tripper's to be so ripe with possibilities that it really captured my imagination.

    2. Victory to Zone Tripper!

      I love the concept behind Zone Tripper. And must admit The Fisherman is too dark for my taste. Also, I'm not a fan of stories that start with scenes that don't include the main character.

    3. Victory to Zone Tripper! Love the concept and voice. The Fisherman's query was not as clear and I didn't connect well with the voice.

    4. Victory to Zone Tripper

      I love both of these, but I can't get Zone Tripper's out of my head. I really want to read it.

    5. Victory to Zone Trippers for a clearer query. Both first pages are masterfully written so great job to both of you.

    6. Victory to Zone Tripper

    7. Victory to Zone Tripper

      Both sound like interesting reads!

    8. Victory to Zone Tripper.

      I think I said it in round one, but Fisherman, your premise just wasn't very clear to me. Your writing is awesome, though! Good luck!

    9. Victory to Zone Tripper
      Fisherman - I think your story has great potential and your voice in the 250 is very strong. As others have said, there's vagueness about premise in your query.
      Zone Tripper - as I said in Round 1, I found your premise intriguing and your voice poignant. Good work!

    10. Victory to the Fisherman.

      Zone Tripper, I love your concept, but Fisherman has this amazing voice and his concept feels like a beautiful expedition into the literature of place.

    11. I can't vote due to conflict, but good luck to both entries!

  2. The Fisherman- What a premise! And so dark, which usually puts me off. But I caught up quickly in the tension of your query and your 250 delivered a unique voice which compelled me to read on. Style of language written in 250 was believable but not easy to follow smoothly. The biggest question I have is how. How do the people Jude loves, die? Give me a little more of a hint. It seems a bit vague. Of course, I don't read much adult literary suspense, so disregard if not applicable. I so want Jude to kick this Lucas in the head. Good luck!

    Zone Tripper- Unique premise. I like it. Your query and 250 flowed effortlessly and I could read it all day. Besides the compelling stakes, I like the trippers vs statics conflict. I do find myself wondering how smoothly the rest of the story will flow. Will we get multiple povs from Eve's soul? How is the tripping triggered? Can you give an example of a zone trip in progress in query letter? You are clearly a gifted writer and even as I ask these questions I would want to read on to find out. Good luck!

  3. Tough, very tough. I guess I’d have to go with ZONE TRIPPER, but only because of the POV confusion with THE FISHERMAN (see comment). Otherwise, dead heat!

    THE FISHERMAN. Such a distinctive voice! Great job of writing Big Luke’s thoughts in dialect, the way a semi-literate person might write his own story down. A couple lines could be deleted to tighten: “Everybody asks me, when they find out what I done.” “Its like I always says.” And maybe I watch too much Law & Order but I felt like he should have said, “I didnt mean for none of it to GO DOWN the way it did.”

    About POV: The query indicates the story is about Jude Fisher, but the first 250 are in Big Luke’s POV. If the novel goes back and forth between the two main characters (which could be really interesting), the query should indicate that.

    ZONE TRIPPER. What a great concept! I tried to comment on your story in the first round but clicked on the wrong kind of “handle” and then couldn’t get back to change it.

    Love the first line! The writing is tight and evocative, but deleting several lines (“Photography is a hobby” “Viewing the house from the outside made it seem emptier” “The house held 5,200 square feet of broken memories”) would tighten it even further. In the last paragraph, I’d add the word “Inside” at the beginning of the second line.

    RE the query: Like one of the posters in the first round, I wonder how Owen knows what kind of bodies Eve swaps into. If they swap one to one, he’d learn about it through the other personalities who take over her body, but it sounded like a cosmic fruit-basket turnover.

  4. I commented on both of these in the first round. I'll just say here that if I had to pick, I'd go with Fisherman, because the writing in the first 250 shows more polish. Even without apostrophes.

    Zone Tripper, I love your concept, and if I were picking solely on the basis of which book I personally would enjoy the most, you'd win.

  5. I think it's a shame you are going head-to-head in this contest. Both are so, SO strong in terms of writing and premise. I have absolutely no doubt you'll both garner agent interest.

    If I was to cast a vote now I'd go for The Fisherman: if only to balance out the votes for what I feel are equally strong entries.

    I would wish you luck in the rest of this contest and in querying, but I truly don't think either of you need it!

  6. The Fisherman: I was totally hooked by the first few sentences of the query. But as I read on I started to wonder if his 'curse' was an actual curse laid on him by Lucas or if Jude was killing the people because Lucas put him on that path or if Lucas had killed them all before he was put away. I think if you could clear that up the query would be stronger. The first 250 tripped me up because of the POV shift and the misspellings. I'm assuming this was intentional, but if they're not consistent it looks like errors over choice. For example, the lack of apostrophes and -ing seems purposeful but 'questionI' looks accidental.

    Zone Tripper: What a cool idea! A guy on the hunt for his daughter's soul as it ping-pongs across the country! I'd totally read that. My biggest concern is that you give us too much detail in the query with the game show and the two camps. I almost think that keeping the focus on the soul getting swapped and Owen's mission to find it before it's too late would be better.

    Awesome job to both of you!

  7. The Fisherman: The voice in your 250 is so strong and genuine. I wished the query was a little bit more true to Jude's voice and the writing in the 250.

    Zone Tripper: Fantastic concept. I'd be really, really interested to see how this plays out. In the 250, I'm curious: Is he looking through the mail while walking to the mailbox or back from the mailbox. I think I might've missed the logistics when I read it.

  8. Fisherman - this story definitely has loads of potential. I was surprised after the query to start the 250 with the killer, but it actually made it more interesting. I'm not sure how it would feel to have him narrate the whole book though because it wouldn't feel like Jude's story, and if he doesn't then i'm not sure what the point of him starting it would be.

    Zone Tripper - Amazing premise! I would definitely read this. The trip to the mail box seems like a bit of a mundane spot to start when there is all sorts of cool stuff that cold happen. It doesn't feel like it sets up the pace the query seems to have.