Friday, November 11, 2016

On The Block #5 - THE FIX IS IN 9:40 AM EST

GENRE: Adult Legal Thriller

Jimmy Sullivan, a young lawyer appointed executor of a deceased fixer’s estate, must find the fixer’s hidden blackmail book and turn the tables on a Grand Rapids crime syndicate and a Detroit gangster that are willing to kill to get it.

I found out about the death of Harry Miles by text.

My ex-wife and I were squared off across a table at a diner on the east side of Grand Rapids off the Beltline.  It wasn’t one of those hidden gem greasy spoons, but it was convenient, and we had never frequented it during our time together.  Neutral ground.  I was winning our regular weekly argument when I received the text.  It threw me off my game.

“What is it?” she asked with a dose of actual concern when I didn’t respond to one of her barbs about my not being able to take care of some bills I had promised to cover.  She was right, of course, about the money being a problem, but that wasn’t really what she wanted to argue about.  She just couldn’t bring herself to argue about the other thing, and I didn’t want that, either.

I stared at the text.  It was from a blocked private number.  I had only picked up the phone out of habit.  That, and I knew that it would drive Michelle crazy.  The message from the unknown texter simply said, Harry Miles died today.  And then, as I watched, it buzzed again, and a new message popped up.  Just thought you should know…

I kept staring at the phone, but no more texts appeared.  I looked back to Michelle who had the little crinkles appearing above her nose that I knew so well, and I felt a swell of affection from the simple pleasure of being with her again.


  1. Fantastic first line. Hooked me immediately. Second paragraph did the same Great voice; quick and snappy. You may be able to tighten up some of the language in paragraphs 3 and 4, but that's nit-picky stuff. Would definitely read. Great job.

  2. I love your first line. Your whole first page impressed me.

    Your second paragraph is well-written, but it relies on "was" and "were" an awful lot. Could you take out the first "were" and just say your MC and his wife "squared off across a table at a diner" without changing the meaning? I think you can.

    I also think you can tighten your hook by changing "that are willing to kill" to "that would kill."

    Wishing you luck! Lots of people are looking for thrillers right now.

  3. Great first line and strong following paragraph. It establishes a likable voice.

    The third paragraph had some awkward sentences and a lot of commas. Perhaps break up a couple of the longer sentences into shorter sentences for clarity?

    I was engaged again by the fourth paragraph. Intrigued.

    In the final paragraph I was confused. Why was the MC staring at the phone in apparent shock, then experiencing a wave of fondness of his ex-wife? I would read on for at least another page or two to see if I continued to be engaged in the story.

  4. This totally hooked me from the first line. However, the logline kept bumping for me. One issue is mine (I had no idea what a fixer was so had to go look that up) but the last sentence doesn't flow for me. I think it's the use of "that" - on a Grand Rapids crime syndicate and a Detroit gangster that are willing to kill to get it.- because you're ending with the gangster, it sounds like it should be "who is willing to kill" although grammatically maybe either one works? Or maybe yours is correct, but it does bump. Not sure if I'd be the only one, though.

    However, the excerpt itself was amazing. Pulled me in immediately and kept me riveted. You convey so much about the characters in very few words.

    The only part that confused me a bit was the last line. You've got them squaring off in their weekly arguments, he's looking at his phone because he knows it will annoy his ex-wife, and then he feels a swell of affection at being with her again? They meet weekly, so it's not like he's seeing her after an extended break, right? I liked the somewhat "fond annoyance" you conveyed throughout the excerpt but the last sentence interrupted that flow a bit.

    Otherwise, WOW! I would totally keep reading this (and this is not my genre at all for reading or writing)!

  5. Yuppers, I still like this one! It's reads smoothly. No nits or picks from me.

  6. This is well written, but for me, there's no power on the page. When he reads Harry Miles has died, he has no reaction, so the reader has no idea if Harry was a good friend, a co-worker, someone Jimmy hated. We have no idea if it's a shock to him, a blessing, or a nuisance. He reads that text and goes back to thinking about his wife. So while we're being hit with a murder right away, it's just information. There's nothing attached to it.

    Perhaps give us his reaction to the news, that would give us a hint of how he feels about Harry, and/or who Harry was. That could add the bit of oomph the page needs. It's the only thing the page is missing.

  7. I like the logline, and I'm intrigued by the situation Jimmy is thrust into. However, unlike everyone else, I *hate* the first line. You tell us and then show us the same thing, and you don't need to tell us.

    I agree with Barbara above that I would like some sort of reaction. The text comes from an unknown number, but does Jimmy know who Harry Miles is? Is this a stranger her doesn't recognize, or someone he was close to? Very different scenarios there.

    Also, I'd like to know what the weekly argument is about. If they're divorced, surely it's not about bills (unless it's alimony or child support, which you should specify). Is it about custody of kids? Something more inane or irrelevant? You can include a bit more character here.

  8. Very very good. One caution: if the flippant, vaguely caustic voice doesn't continue throughout the book, tone it down a bit here.

    If this one doesn't get snapped up, give me a holler, and if the rest of the manuscript is this strong, I can steer you to some agents.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words and cool description of the voice! The flippant and vaguely caustic voice is a staple throughout.m

  9. Hooked!! I've loved this premise from every entry you've made. I can see how far this piece has come with all the rewrites. Love it. Great voice. Good luck. Publish so I can see how this story progresses (and ends). If you need a beta reader....