For the rest, I thought I would read through my WIP. I finished the re-write last week, but haven't gone through it line by line to ensure it makes sense all the way through. I've read 83 pages thus far today, and guess what? I'm bored. I really don't think it's such a bad story, but I did cut a lot to get it under 60,000 words. Has it suffered? I don't know. I know there is an unwritten rule to set it aside for a few weeks before reading it again. Maybe I'm still too close to it. But I want to get it out to beta readers and if it sucks before they see it, then what's the point.
So help me my blogging friends. In an unprecedented move, I've decided to post the first 838 words. I figure if an agent is going to like it or not, it will be decided that quickly. I actually think the first chapter is pretty good. It's the next 80 pages that lag. At least to me. Sorry it makes for a long post, but I need to know if I'm wasting my time.
“Skully? You finally awake?”Not waiting for a response, the quartermaster burst through the hatch.Well, this can’t be good, thought Skully. He was in his hammock, strung up above some stacked crates, a small desk turned on its side, and a lone chair—there was no room for anything else—in the cramped cabin next to the captain’s quarters. Wishing he were anywhere else.Pirates were surprisingly cordial to one another, but several weeks of boredom on an over-crowded ship led to a few fights. The quartermaster doled out justice. That could mean lots of things. Nothing pleasant.Gladwyn was big. Giant big. With dark skin, rippling muscles and strange circular scars. He never wore a shirt, either because he didn’t own one, or they didn’t come in his size. He had an enormous head with yellowing eyes. His hair and beard, like spongy black cotton, circled his face.“I didn’t do anything,” Skully said, sitting up too fast and banging his head on the bulkhead.“Now, who said you did?” Gladwyn asked. “I asked a simple question.”Skully’s life stopped being simple the day they started calling him Skully. Normal went on holiday. Complicated moved in. Became a constant companion. Along with a rather vicious case of seasickness.The lines across Gladwyn’s giant forehead softened. “I have been worried about your ear. It was bleeding again last night.”Beneath tattered bandages, what was left of Skully’s ear felt like it was on fire. The hammock swung back and forth. The ceiling swayed. He squeezed his eyes shut. His hands were shaking and his legs felt weak. His stomach lurched amid the constant rolling of the ship. The inescapable stench of a hundred men, months past bathing. The putrid stink of rancid water, rotting fruit and moldy bread.Wishing he were dead, Skully leaned over just in time, scattering chunks onto Gladwyn’s boots.So much for wishes.The dead didn’t get sick. They didn’t do anything. Except die. That, he knew firsthand.Gladwyn looked up from the mess at, and on, his feet. Puking, it turned out, wasn’t widely tolerated by pirates. Something of a shame, then, that Skully now lived among them. Not that he had much choice. But Gladwyn did not scowl. He did not frown. Or yell. If anything, he almost looked amused.“Where are we?” Skully asked.“Somewhere in the middle of the crossing, I estimate,” Gladwyn said. “A little closer than yesterday, but still weeks away. Of course, I have only made the journey one time, so I cannot be certain.” Gladwyn shuffled across the tight space, to open the porthole. He stuck his head out and inhaled deeply. “The captain wonders if there is anything you wish to tell him.”“No.”The captain. That was not what he’d called himself a week ago. It left Skully a bit untrusting.“Are you feeling alright?” Gladwyn asked. “I can give you some more unguent.”“No way. I don’t need any more of that.”The first night aboard, Gladwyn had mixed up a strange concoction that numbed Skully’s ear and sent his mind wandering. It took a few days to recover.“My apologies,” Gladwyn said. “I may have overestimated the dosage. I do not usually treat children.”“You’re not a very good doctor”“I am not a doctor. A healer—maybe. How do you feel?”“Hungry.” He wondered if it was because he’d thrown up, or in spite of it.“You should get some grub.”Grub was the right word. In the week since he’d come aboard, Skully had yet to eat a decent meal. Or anything that resembled a meal. What passed for food on a pirate ship would not have been served in a prison back home.“I’ll be there in a minute,” Skully said. “I just need to…just give me a minute.”Once Gladwyn had gone, Skully climbed out of his hammock, avoiding the vomitty mess. Wind whistled through the porthole, followed by the crash of waves. A gray-blue wake, topped with white foam, trailed the ship. Skully dragged the chair to the porthole for some fresh air. Kneeling with his arms on the ledge, he watched the rolling swells.Never before in his twelve years had he claimed to be a pirate. Nor had he said his name was Skully. But that’s what they were calling him. So that’s who he’d become.Skeletal nickname not withstanding, Skully was all too alive. All elbows and kneecaps, he had pale skin and blonde hair that he used to keep quite neatly combed. He had been a stay at home kind of kid, who wore fancy clothes and meandered, unnoticed, among his grandfather’s high society friends. Mostly because his grandfather insisted he avoid less desirables—those who existed beyond the grounds of the grand mansion known as Admiralty House.His grandfather, Admiral Alban Ironskull, would certainly not have approved of Skully traveling with the most despicable excuses of living creatures—as he had often described pirates. Okay, so maybe they weren’t all missing limbs and trailing bloody entrails. But Admiral Ironskull wasn’t just any Navy admiral; he was The Admiral, and knew what he was talking about. There was no questioning his word. Of course that, along with everything else, had now changed.