Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Creating the HOOK

Re-write of Chapter 1. I've rearranged the order of the chapters so the books begins during the mission to Djibouti. Now I'm trying to get the first page exciting enough to hook the reader.

CHAPTER: Somalia Two Years ago

“Tally Ho!” I heard the pilot shout above The Village People singing YMCA into my headphones. The Navy helo carrying us fell from the sky while my stomach took up residence in my throat. The desert sand raced to meet us and at the last moment Lo Ball, the kamikaze flying this tin can, feathered to a kitten gentle touch down. This was the third touch and go he’d performed, all to confuse the Somali rebels out there waiting for us.

Three hours ago, I’d been sleeping in my rack.

“Yo, Bones. Get your butt outta bed. We gots us a boondoggle.” My roommate JB shook me.
I had stretched out in my upper bunk, staring at the steel pipe six inches above my head. Another day aboard the USS Carl Vinson, CVN 70, and I well into my daily power nap before afternoon sick call. I was at sea on a Westpac tour, bored senseless with get up, eat, go to sick call, send the deadbeats back to work, walk around, take a nap, see more gold bricks, train corpsmen, eat again, nap some more, go to bed. Repeat tomorrow.

By way of introduction, I’m Commander Jake Matthews. When asked what I do for a living I tell strangers that I spend my days talking to naked women about sex. As a gynecologist that’s true, but it always garners attention. At 5’ 4” and 130 pounds, I was too small to be a pilot. Just as well, since I hate to fly. My wife Julie would like for me to wax the hair on my back. I consider shaving my head sufficient depilatory activity. My passion is scuba diving.

The Carl Vinson is one of the Navy’s nuclear aircraft carriers and I was her newest GMO, general medical officer, assigned to a year of sea duty with six thousand men. I had just completed my surgical internship and OB/GYN residency, illustrating Naval intelligence at its finest. I should be in a hospital, but here I was, anchored in the Arabian Sea, sweltering, with nothing to do. Not a woman for a thousand miles. Once a day we weigh anchor, float around for an afternoon while the pilots practice take-offs and landings, then drop anchor and sweat some more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


My memories of English class in school are nightmares of diagramming sentences. Now, as I work on this first novel I find I need to learn rules. Rules such as "Don't use 'ly' words; its, it's, and its'; do I write "Hello, this is the Matthews's home" or "Hello, this is the Matthews' home" or Hello, this is the Matthewes home". I'm going to cop out and answer, "Yah? Wadda ya want."

Good news though-- I found an editor who taught English in schools for years and promises to be brutally honest as she edits the manuscript.