Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bouncer Post #85

Genre: YA Steampunk
Word Count: 70,000


London is a city of progress. Gleaming buildings rise above a foundation of human suffering so the wealthy can avoid the filth and camaraderie of the lower classes. Graceful airships glide overhead while steam-powered coaches share the streets below with their horse drawn predecessors. For a street rat like Maeko, all this progress simply means that she has to be smarter and faster to evade patrol officers on their new steamcycles. Picking the pockets of the well-to-do to keep from going hungry is riskier and more exciting than ever.

Then she finds Macak, a cat with a clockwork leg. Her interest in the unusual feline leads her to the discovery of a dead mother and child and to a family torn apart by the accusation of their murder. Macak’s owner, the only man who can prove their innocence, has gone into hiding in fear for his life. As if outsmarting the police, the murderer, and a private detective weren’t enough of a challenge, she will also have to convince the two boys vying for her affection to set aside their rivalry and help her find Macak’s owner. Maeko is about to discover just how much a lowly London street rat can accomplish.
I am an associate member of SFWA and a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. My fiction credentials include semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future 2ndQuarter 2009 contest and a two-part adventure story published in the November and December 2007 issues of Cricket magazine.
First 250:
Maeko wriggled herself further back into the narrow space behind the big metal ashbin, shoving between the wall and the rusted metal with her hands and feet. Her fingers dug runnels in generations of slick grime that coated the surfaces, fighting for purchase while she gagged on the sickly stench of rotting waste. The sharp exhale from the steamcycles warned that the Literati patrol had pulled into the alley. She froze, her heart pounding loud in time with the rhythm thrumming through the back of the pub. The brick wall vibrated with the dark mixed beats of a band of Pirate musicians.
Crushed like an ant between the Lits and the Pirates until nothing remains but a tiny smear in the dirt.
The rhythmic new music pulsed through her and a shaky smile danced across her lips.

Not crushed, protected. The heavy beats were her sanctuary, drowning out the sound of her labored breathing.
The music also masked the officer’s approach so that she startled when he lifted the ashbin lid. When it crashed back down, she jumped again, her heart slamming into her throat and pounding in her ears so loudly that she barely heard the music now. Myriad cockroaches, dislodged from their rusty abode, ran over one hand and up her arm. Her muscles tensed as she resisted the desperate urge to sweep them away, staying still while they explore her shoulders, neck, and face at their leisure. The tiniest whimper squeezed free when one bloated bug poked about in her left ear, but the sound drowned beneath driving drumbeats.


  1. Your query needs better focus. Not sure what a clockwork leg is or what it has to do with anything (except the title), but the first 250 are beautifully written--lots of sensory detail, fairly disgusting…

    "You're in!"

  2. I enjoyed this, but I kept confusing Macak and Maeko because the names were so similar. Just a thought.

  3. Thanks Bouncer Blue Nimbus! I'll see what I can do to improve the focus going forward. :)

    And thanks for the comment, Elizabeth.

  4. I loved it and would like more please. The clockwork leg is an inventive idea. Thumbs Up there. Great storytelling and compelling even at 250 words. Excellent!

  5. Great job! You're in (again)!