STANDING IN THE STORM, The Many Worlds of William Alan Webb

We Sleep At Night Because America's Armed Forces, Police and Fire Fighters Never Do

Son of a Pitch

Standing The Final Watch
Adult
SF / Thriller
89,000 words


15 February, 2016
Dear Agent ,
Innocents abroad in post-Collapse America face slavery and death, until Nick Angriff and the Seventh Cavalry ride to the rescue.
The terrorists who slaughtered General Nick Angriff’s wife and daughter fulfilled their leader’s purpose, by leaving him one mission in life: to kill the killers.
Obsessed with revenge, Angriff needs a new reason for living before anger eats him alive. Miraculously, a higher duty calls, except nothing about it is divine.
With no loved ones to miss or mourn him, he agrees to command Operation Overtime, an elite military unit stored in suspended animation against the possibility of national collapse.
He awakens after sixty years to find the United States government destroyed, with a bizarre religious sect dominating the wreckage and enslaving the survivors. Resurrecting America becomes Angriff’s sacred duty.
Before he can save others, however, he must first stay alive. Angriff quickly discovers opposing plots within his brigade, including one to assassinate him. They are remnants of the extremist politics of the dead U.S.A., still fighting old battles, and he’s a target for both sides.
Without knowing friend from foe, Angriff leads the last Americans into the wasteland of North America, armed only with their guts, their wits and a determination to rebuild the United States.
STANDING THE FINAL WATCH, complete at 89,000 words, is a stand-alone science fiction thriller that can also be the first in a series, with book two already completed. This novel should appeal to fans of John Ringo’s Ghost series, David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers and Dan Abnett’s Warhammer 40,000.

 Chapter 1
October 12th
Lake Tahoe sparkled under a high sun in a cloudless sky. Somehow, the vultures wheeling high above the water knew Winslow Buffer was about to die. Mary Buffer, however, did not. From the warmth of the tour boat’s passenger lounge, she was delighted to watch her chubby CPA husband enjoying himself on their first vacation since Emily was born. The red-haired toddler stood on tiptoes and waved at her father. Her breathed frosted the glass. Winslow stood at the bow rail, despite the cold spray, and waved back.
Out of the chill, Mary was content just to watch Winslow act like a little boy. He often told her about his fantasy of feeling wind over the deck of a sailing ship cutting the clear waters of the Caribbean, and she assumed that’s what he was doing now. She certainly hoped so; her husband was a workaholic and deserved a few hours to dream and play.
Mary heard the muffled buzz of a speedboat closing on the port side of the tour boat, and glanced to her left, but there were people in the way. It was no big deal, Tahoe was covered with all kinds of boats. She looked back at Winslow in time to see something metal hit the deck and bounce toward him, stopping near his feet. It seemed vaguely familiar, but her mind did not recognize it before the blast of the grenade ripped him apart.
 

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5 Comments

  1. Katie – Your awesomeness is on display for all to see. Thank you!

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. Your comments on my hook echo what I've heard from most before, but it's always good to get reinforcement. Like all of us, I'm busily collecting rejections.

    Thank you! If you read this, could you send me a link to your blog?

     
  2. Hey! This is Katie dropping you your freebie critique!
    While seeking advice is always for the best, remember to stay true to your voice and your concept. If the suggestions don’t fit, don’t use them! Hopefully I will give you something you can use that will help you earn that coveted contract!

    Innocents abroad in post-Collapse America face slavery and death, until Nick Angriff and the Seventh Cavalry ride to the rescue.
    —This is solid. You could probably tighten it a little, but it's direct and to the point, giving a good hook.

    The terrorists who slaughtered General Nick Angriff’s wife and daughter fulfilled their leader’s purpose, by leaving him one mission in life: to kill the killers.

    Obsessed with revenge, Angriff needs a new reason for living before anger eats him alive. Miraculously, a higher duty calls, except nothing about it is divine.

    With no loved ones to miss or mourn him, he agrees to command Operation Overtime, an elite military unit stored in suspended animation against the possibility of national collapse.

    He awakens after sixty years to find the United States government destroyed, with a bizarre religious sect dominating the wreckage and enslaving the survivors. Resurrecting America becomes Angriff’s sacred duty.

    Before he can save others, however, he must first stay alive. Angriff quickly discovers opposing plots within his brigade, including one to assassinate him. They are remnants of the extremist politics of the dead U.S.A., still fighting old battles, and he’s a target for both sides.

    Without knowing friend from foe, Angriff leads the last Americans into the wasteland of North America, armed only with their guts, their wits and a determination to rebuild the United States.

    — Honestly, I think what you have is pretty tight. You have a good hook, you lay out the direction and drive for the MC, and the stakes are clear. Well done.

    STANDING THE FINAL WATCH, complete at 89,000 words, is a stand-alone science fiction thriller that can also be the first in a series, with book two already completed. This novel should appeal to fans of John Ringo’s Ghost series, David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers and Dan Abnett’s Warhammer 40,000.
    —Just a side note, you won't need this paragraph for Son of a Pitch.

    Chapter 1
    October 12th
    Lake Tahoe sparkled under a high sun in a cloudless sky. Somehow, the vultures wheeling high above the water knew Winslow Buffer was about to die. Mary Buffer, however, did not. From the warmth of the tour boat’s passenger lounge, she was delighted to watch her chubby CPA husband enjoying himself on their first vacation since Emily was born. The red-haired toddler stood on tiptoes and waved at her father.

    Her breathed frosted the glass. — I think this should be "Her breath frosted" maybe?

    Winslow stood at the bow rail, despite the cold spray, and waved back.
    Out of the chill, Mary was content just to watch Winslow act like a little boy. He often told her about his fantasy of feeling wind over the deck of a sailing ship cutting the clear waters of the Caribbean, and she assumed that’s what he was doing now. She certainly hoped so; her husband was a workaholic and deserved a few hours to dream and play.
    Mary heard the muffled buzz of a speedboat
    –Passive. Try something like: The muffled buzz of a speedboat growing louder as it drew near caught Mary's attention.

    and glanced to her left, but there were people in the way.
    –As a hint, if there is a was or were, the sentence is more often than not passive. Try to write out as many as you can.

    It was no big deal, Tahoe was covered with all kinds of boats. She looked back at Winslow in time to see something metal hit the deck and bounce toward him, stopping near his feet. It seemed vaguely familiar, but her mind did not recognize it before the blast of the grenade ripped him apart.
    —What a way to end! but what do these people have to do with the query? Just something to think about.

    I hope that helps!

     
  3. Mark – Thank you for your comments! Based on the first 250 words I can understand why you don't see Hammer's Slammers or Abnett's work, but there is no back story involved here. None. It is all part of the continuing narrative.

    Dana – Thank you, I think your points are very well made and quite helpful. Made my day, as they reflect about 25 different people who have read this, with 24 agreeing with your assessment.

    Anyway, thanks again to both of you!

     
  4. The query jumps around a lot and left me confused at several turns. IMO it would be best to present things in chronological order from Nick's POV. As it stands, I'm left assuming that Nick, his family, and the Terrorists are all in the post-apocalypse era until mid-way through the query.

    I like Hammer's Slammers and WH 40k (although I'm more of a WHFB guy myself) but I can't see much common ground between the two and even less common ground between them and what you've just shown me in the query. Comparables are great, but IMO it's better to skip them than have them misfire (as they are for me in this case).

    I get what you're trying to do with the first 250, start out really idyllic, then BOOM! but it's not working for me. IMO it needs a bit of a sense of building wrongness to get some tension going, preferably from the first line of the story. When I started it, I thought Winslow must be dehydrated, perhaps wounded, crawling through the desert, because vultures aren't psychic. Then it turns out he's on a boat and in perfect health. It really hurts the flow of a story when I build one set of images in my mind only to have that scene yanked away to be replaced with another. I can't immerse myself in the story because I never know what images will be shattered.

    Also, since the story is all about the post-apocalyptic world, I think it would make the most sense to start there. Let Nick's back-story be back-story, it gives color and meaning to the story, but it doesn't have to all be spelled out in this detail.

     
  5. Good morning, William! The book sounds so exciting! Suspended animation is almost like a more realistic time travel!

    I found your query to be concise and interesting. I was confused on the second sentence, however. You say, "fulfilled their leader’s purpose," but whose leader are you referring to? I read that as Nick is the leader of the terrorists, or that the purpose of the leader of the terrorists is to kill the killers? Just double check that wording, and otherwise everything sounded great.

    I also love that the prologue is a completely different POV. I'm actually interested in Mary, too… Is she law enforcement or military? Her attentiveness to her surroundings gave me that impression.

    Good luck on the contest!

     

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