People always ask what I write.
“Sci fi,” I reply. “Novels,” I add.
They nod politely and make noises of feigned interest. My answer is a quicker conversation ender than Splash’s trombone. I’m sure these people imagine that I’m writing Star Trek/Star Wars mash-up fanfic. We must. Save. The Ewoks. Warp 10, Mr. Chewbacca. Raawwwhhhrrr. Or creepy trans-species alien erotica. (No example will be provided.) Why do I let them wonder?
I’m been reluctant to discuss my work for two reasons: one lame, one counterproductive.
Lame: I don’t possess the natural gift for against-all-odds self-promotion that would seem to be necessary to be a successful author. I hate to embarrass myself and don’t want to bore anyone. Hence, the five years it took me to start a blog.
Counterproductive: I never took the time to boil down my projects into seven-page synopses, let alone single sentences. I never had my elevator pitch ready. This was a mistake. I should have my pitch holstered not just for agents at writing conferences, but also to trade to the barista for my double-shot Coffee Americano, to mumble open-mouthed to my dentist, to amaze my kids’ friends. You never know who might publish you, who might someday be willing to drop $1.99 on Amazon for the ebook, or who might hand you a Hugo Award.
So here you go…the “dust jacket copy” for the novel I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo. Enjoy. Tell your friends. Coming soon to a fine ebook publisher near you. Guaranteed. (Sweat beads form on forehead.)
By M.H. Van Keuren
Martin knows every desolate mile of Eastern Montana’s highways. As a traveling salesman, his only companion is talk radio, especially “Beyond Insomnia with Lee Danvers.” Its reports of the paranormal keep Martin entertained—and hopeful that there’s more to the universe than selling screws and nails to far-flung, small-town hardware stores.
A bright spot in Martin’s routine is the complementary breakfast at a motel in Brixton, a junction town well past its sell-by date. But it’s not the watery coffee, day-old pastries, and pre-mixed waffle batter he loves. It’s Cheryl, the housekeeper who sets out the breakfast.
The townsfolk guard Cheryl jealously from the likes of Martin—who, to be fair, has more noble intentions than most. But Cheryl has room for only one man in her life, the ailing stepfather who raised her. As much as Martin dreams of rescuing Cheryl from her minuscule town life in the middle of nowhere, she steadfastly refuses to be in need of rescuing.
Martin’s chance comes when Cheryl’s car breaks down and he stops to give her a ride. To thank him, she bakes him a rhubarb pie, and he works up the courage to ask her out on a date. She agrees—but then she’s gone. Left town for a guy she met on the Internet, or so everyone says.
But Cheryl’s stepfather doesn’t buy it. He blames Martin for her disappearance, sending Martin on a search for the truth. What he uncovers about Cheryl’s family and Brixton’s history is far weirder than anything he’s ever heard on the radio. Especially if it’s true that Cheryl’s salvation lies in discovering a long-lost secret recipe for rhubarb pie—which might just be the best, and the most dangerous, pie in the galaxy.