Wednesday, August 09, 2006
New Beginning 59
“Only one of you? Where’s the backup?”
Constable Lacey McCrae looked at the bar owner, and past him at the thirty or so patrons huddled on the tavern porch. No bloody noses, no ripped clothing, just a lot of farmers in their shirtsleeves. On a porch, at midnight, at minus thirty-three degrees Celsius, in the teeth of a near-blizzard. The wind hurled another handful of icy pellets at them. They shivered. Lacey zipped her regulation heavy parka a bit higher at the neck.
“I got a call there was a fight, but I don’t see any fighters. What’s the problem?”
“Problem?” The barman’s nostrils flared. “You think I’m out here for the fresh air? Jimmy Littlecrow is sitting in the wreck of my bar while all my paying customers are freezing their asses off on the god-damned porch. And they send me one scrawny GIRL to get him out. Jesus H.!”
Lacey rolled her eyes and strode past the pantywaists and into the saloon. The place looked like a garbage scow after a mortar attack. Floorboards pulled up, furniture destroyed, mirrors shattered. Jimmy Littlecrow was leaning against what was left of the bar. He shrugged.
"Okay, Jimmy," Lacey said, "put the beer bottle down, and come quietly. This is three times this month! Do you have any idea how much . . . I give up.
"Just get your Teddy bear and let's go. She scooped him up, and took him outside and buckled him into his safety seat, pausing just long enough to tell the farmers, "Okay, pussies, it's safe now."
Opening: J.E. Barnard.....Continuation: Kate Thornton
Posted by Evil Editor at 7:06 PM
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Love the opening. Sets just the kind of tone I like. There's going to be action and there's a whup-ass woman gonna handle it. oh yeah.
BTW, nitpicking: How long could people survive in 30 below temperatures in shirtsleeves? It could just be zero, couldn't it?
Liked the continuation, too. Babies do scare men! And with a name like "jimmy littlecrow" this was a sure-fire add on.
When I was living in Alaska, I'm quite sure we would have faced a violent guy in a bar rather than go outside in shirtsleeves at that temperature. It's agonizing right away and will kill you fairly quickly. (And people didn't tend to wear light stuff like shirtsleeves when it was that cold--too much chance of a draft from an open door.)
But the situation gets my attention nicely, and the writing is smooth. You may just need to run your cold-weather details by someone who comes from that climate.
Generally liked this very much--the voice, the idea that the one guy inside drove the others out (this isn't Fear Sweeney after the Guinness and cabbage, is it?)
30 below Celcius sounds colder than simply "30 below," even though it's not. Why Celcius? Is this Canada? I got the feeling the "30 below" was an exaggeration in Lacey's thoughts, but adding Celcius sort of grounded it as a real temperature. And that just seems too cold, as marykaye said.
Or you could go the other way. Thirty below, Kelvin. Now THAT would be cold.
Overall, very good beginning. Seems a bit sassy and rough, and I expect some humor along with the action and suspense. Looks good.
I like it!
Boy, you'd think Alaskans would be tougher than that. I agree, -33C is damn cold. But as someone who was born and raised in Alberta, Canada, I have to tell you, there are plenty of times I carried garbage to the curb in my shirtsleeves in that weather, or stood waiting while my dog took her sweet freaking time making duty. They'd be wearing flannel shirts or sweatshirts, anyway--still qualifies as shirtsleeves, I think. Unless they're all in their bare feet (again, something I've experienced--don't ask) it's not gonna kill them to stand out there for a while. Especially if they're huddled in a circle.
Now, passing out in a snowbank in that kind of weather--well, have you ever seen a guy after both gluteal muscles have been surgically removed? Literally froze his ass off.
I like it, also. But, I agree that you should raise the temperature to, say, +30 F (whatever that is in C) to make it more believable. I've read enough of kis' posts to know there ain't many as tough as she. -JTC
"Thirty below, Kelvin. Now THAT would be cold."
Thirty below kelvin? That would be impossible. Zero kelvin is the coldest possible temperature, defined as the state at which molecular motion stops.
Things get weird (in real life) at very close to zero kelvin, but yanno sci-fi writers do weird things with time and space, why not temperture?
Ditch the Centigrade, which is an insult to everyone. Fahrenheit forever!!
The thing that always makes me think, 'wow, it's cold' (and this is from someone who also grew up in northern Canada, including but not limited to Nunavut and various parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta) is the fact that the snow squeaks when it's that cold. For me, that would be a telling detail--Perhaps if Lacey stamps her feet while looking at the farmers, then the snow squeaks as she walks forward?
I would keep reading, for that kind of detail. Plus I want to know if anyone gets frostbite.
word verification: vtagl. Almost vital. Like the time my dad fell into a crack in the ice of the Arctic ocean, or my sister took her dog for a walk and his tail froze ...
Liked it a lot - nice, sassy opening.
As for saying Celsius - it threw me for a moment, until I reread that Lacey is a Constable. That, in my mind, means England, Canada, etc. A bit jarring, maybe, but if you're going to pitch this in those countries, I don't think it's a problem (not having stood for very long out in frigid weather, I'll pass on commenting on that).
Yeah, -30C makes your ears kinda crispy, but you can survive a few minutes.
Good luck getting the book sold in Canada (Hullooooo, any Canadian agents out there? Anyone?), but if it was sold in the States, a few adjustments to "Americanize" it probably wouldn't hurt.
My own work is riddled with Canadian spelling, but if pushed, I'd switch it to American, I guess.
Ditch the Centigrade, which is an insult to everyone. Fahrenheit forever!!
*shaking head sadly*
It's just such a shame--a whole nation of misguided people. There's a certain perfect purity to the centigrade temperature scale: water boils at 100, freezes at 0, +40 is really hot, -40 it really freaking cold. So simple, so beautiful.
People tell me it's 50 fahrenheit, and I honestly don't know what the hell they're talking about. 50 F. What does that mean?
Oh, and if this is Canada, and we're talking a native guy, most natives I know (lots and lots) don't have last names like Littlecrow. They've got last names like Jack or George or Mack or John or William. Or Wadhams or Sharky or whatever. It could be regional--I've never been to any of the territories, but I always thought names like Runningwater and Redcorn were more common in America.
I could be wrong.
kis: your example is a poor one, as -40 is the only temperature at which Farenheit and Celsius agree!
Yes, that is the only thing I remember from high school chemistry.
Anyways, here's a suggestion for the author: how about just say "30 below" and let the reader fill in the blanks as they prefer. "30 below" sounds freaking cold any way you slice it. 'Course, I live in Florida.
I am aware that they converge at -40--that's the only time I know what anyone's talking about with fahrenheit. Freaking coooold. But for all I know, -30F is actual shirtsleeve weather.
Absolutely reading on. Great opening. I'd agree that you just lose the word celsius and sail on.
Where are the next 150, I wanna see what this chick does with Jimmy Littlecrow (who could be from south of the border for all we know right now).
Well begun and I want more. I love this genre: scrawny-chick-with-a-badge-and-a-gun lit.
Love the opening--agree with the other posters about clearing up the temperature thing, but I would certainly read on. Love stories with kick-ass heroines.
Coldest I've ever experienced was 40 below, farenheit, in Wyoming and Montana one January. Straight temp--not wind chill. When you take a breath, the hairs inside your nose freeze.
You can likely handle straight temp that cold for a few minutes in your shirtsleeves, but add snow/ice/wind and that's a dangerous combo for exposure.
Thanks to all of you for the encouraging words. I'll change the temperature reference to a straight 'twenty below' and let the reader decide how cold that is where they are. When they find out about 250 words later that it's January 1992 in rural Saskatchewan, there shouldn't be any mental readjustment needed... I hope.
I'd post the rest of Page 1 for those who kindly (and I hope truthfully) suggested it. But then we'd risk the slippery slope of expanding 'contributions' (like what happened with Electra's Crap-o-meter, which has such long submissions nowadays that I never have time to read them at one sitting, much less comment intelligently).
Thank you, O Evil One, for allowing me this feedback opportunity.
I loved these opening paragraphs. I would definitely keep reading.
Changing the temperature to a generic -20 sounds like a wise move. At a minimum, it will reduce the risk of shock to readers in Florida and other tropical places.
Omitting both "C" and "F" saves readers who belong to the other system from asking that eternal question: "How much is that in real cold?"
For those who noted that 33 below, C., is probably not as bad in F, you're right. Apparently, -33 C. is equivalent to -27 F.
Regarding the comment about surnames: in western Canada, I've met some First Nations people who have surnames like Johnson or Brown; some who have francophone surnames; and some who have surnames like Wolfleg or Two Horns or Running Rabbit.
My grandfather was a Bernard on the Miq'mak reservation in Nova Scotia. French name. Most of the Cree in this area have last names the same as first names, like George.
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