Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No, wait! I like this query better!

And I posted it on this very blog back in October of 2011, before I even started writing The Freezer. For some reason, it's better than any of the four (or five?) queries I've written since then.

What do you think? (Yes, you.)


The world is about to die a violent death at the hands of a rogue planet. The last escape ships have gone, leaving billions of people knowing the exact date and time of their demise. Society is coming apart at the seams. Violence is spreading. Food is disappearing. There's one month left.

Thane Ryder turned down a seat on a spaceship to stay with his six-year-old daughter Mandy, and he intends to make her final days happy. He'll stay in his home and refuse protection. He'll feed his enemies and treat them like friends. He'll plant a garden, clean the house, and teach Mandy to ride a bicycle. He won't pick up a gun or show any of the fear gnawing away at his insides.

And if keeping his daughter from feeling that fear means building a spaceship out of an old freezer, he'll do that too. If she sees the lie in his eyes, maybe he'll even learn to believe the impossible: that their crude spaceship will work, that it will carry them away to find mommy, who left—and was lost—on a scout ship.

Whatever it takes to hide the fear. It's only for a month.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Writer's Voice Entry: The Freezer

Thane Ryder would move mountains to keep his daughter happy, but it wouldn’t lengthen Mandy’s six-year life.

A rogue planet is on a collision course with Earth. Only a few thousand people will escape on ships destined for a new world. Thane’s wife Dawn piloted one of the first ships. Thane and Mandy were supposed to follow on a later flight.

But the Evacuation Authority disqualifies Mandy, dooming her to die with everyone else. Torn between a wife whose distant vessel has mysteriously lost contact, and the daughter who needs him more than ever, Thane decides to stay.

If shielding a child from the troubles of a dying world is difficult, keeping her from seeing his despair is impossible—almost as impossible as their dream of seeing Dawn again.

But Mandy knows Thane helped build the big interstellar ship that carried Mommy away. Why shouldn’t he be able to build a much smaller ship for only the two of them? Glad for the distraction, Thane plays along with her plans and builds a spaceship from their old chest freezer.

A pretend spaceship can't save them. It's impossible. Then, impossibly, Dawn speaks to Thane from lightyears away, and she says otherwise. Maybe it's a hoax. Maybe he's insane. Or maybe the walls of possibility have moved.

THE FREEZER is a science fiction novel, 72,000 words long. The themes and tone will appeal to fans of Ray Bradbury’s novels.

I have a degree in English and work as a technical writer for a robotics firm, where I translate engineer-speak into English. I also have experience raising little girls.

Mandy sat in the middle of the living room with a balloon in her mouth, her small round face turning red as she tried to blow it up. It sputtered away. She gave me a look that resonated with my thoughts and threatened to shatter my composure. I turned away.

It was Mandy’s sixth birthday. When Dawn flew away, Mandy was four. She’d be sixteen before I saw my wife again, touched her face, felt her breath.

For now, she was gone, piloting a ship named Hope, the Esperanza—alive out there, but dead to me.

Mandy had helped me clean the house that morning. We vacuumed, washed windows and dishes, did a real good job. We emptied it of dust and dirt, of fingerprints and smells. Now it was full of emptiness, vast and draining.

“Daddy,” Mandy called behind me. “I need help.”

She thrust the spitty balloon in my direction and blinked tearful brown eyes. If ever a girl could wrap me around her finger, it was my Amanda.

I gathered and banished the tears from my face and hurried over to her, avoiding her eyes, hoping she wouldn’t notice.

“It helps if you stretch it out a bit first.” I wiped the end of the balloon.

Mandy nodded, watching.

“I’ll get it started for you.” I put a little breath into it, enough to get past the first part, the hardest part. “Now you finish it up.”

She reverently took the balloon, pinching her fingernails white to keep it inflated.

p.s. I just rediscovered an old query that I like better, and I'd like to get your opinion.