Rate/Review this sample from my Work-In-Progress:

My work-in-progress is a stand alone noir crime fiction novel called In Pocket. The pitch/blurb:

If only Wolfgang hadn’t picked the pocket of the fat woman…

Nomadic pickpocket Wolfgang gets blackmailed into teaching his craft to the mysterious Lilith, a young woman with no aptitude whatsoever to become a pickpocket. Wolf figures the easiest way is to go with the flow and instruct Lilith in the art of emptying other people’s pockets, but even he could never foresee the dreadful things that follow…

IN POCKET is a standalone novel with ties to Martyn V. Halm’s Amsterdam Assassin Series. Follow Wolf as he gets entangled in a possible fatal web of violence and deceit, where nobody is who they seem to be and everyone has a hidden agenda.

I passed out. For an instant, I think. Just long enough to lose my bearings. I remember I was running. From someone. Or something? The back of my head hurts. Guess I hit the wall behind me. Without opening my eyes I feel the bricks, damp and cold against my buttocks.

My legs feel like they’re asleep. Without tingling—the usual pins-and-needles sensation is mysteriously absent.

A bad sign. I think I can forget about running. Or even getting up.

I open my eyes and blink a few times to focus. The wall across from me is less than two meters away. An alley. To my left, a dead end. To my right, plastic garbage bags leaning against an overflowing dumpster. I’m in a cul-de-sac.

Street lights flood the entrance of the alley with sickly orange light that touches my grubby sneakers. I listen, but don’t hear anyone else, just my own raspy breathing. I’m alone.

My left hand touches my belly, comes away wet.


Raise my hand to my eyes, but it’s too dark too see.

I peer past the dumpster, but all I see is a cobblestone quay and a canal. Can’t see which one. The street sign is missing. Or was never there at all. Not all dead-end alleys here have names.

I go through my pockets to check my possessions, but I seem to have none. Money, gone. Keys, gone. Straight razor—

I look at my pants, dirty and smelling of urine. I look at my hands, dark with street grime. And it all comes back. Why I’m wearing these dirty clothes. My possessions aren’t gone. I left them. I only had the two-way radio and the gun.

They’re both gone.

All I’ve left is the small carton in my inside pocket…

I take the pack of cigarettes from my inside pocket, open the lid and brush my finger over the filter tips. And the metal wheel of the butane lighter. I breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t know what would be worse; no cigarettes, or cigarettes and nothing to light them with.

I shake one from the pack and light up. My hands automatically shield the bright flame to prevent giving away my position. In the light I count the contents. Seven left, not counting the one I just lit. And a folded piece of tinfoil with the small white envelop beside it. I won’t use it unless the pain becomes too bad.

I glance at my left hand. The sticky stuff covering my palm is red. I lower the lighter to see my belly. The lower half of my shirt is dark with blood. In the weak light the blood looks black. I touch the mess gingerly. Three holes. Bullet holes.

The lighter sputters and dies. As the flame goes, a ghost-flame shimmers on my retina. I shake the lighter by my ear. Sounds like there is still some fuel left.

I cup the glowing tip in my hand, return the pack and lighter to my inside pocket, and blink to restore my night vision.

A shadow glides over the walls as someone passes the mouth of the alley. I watch from behind the trash cans, unable to draw in my numb legs sprawled amid the refuse that litters the bricks.

The shadow flicks over my sneakers and disappears from view.

I listen to the receding steps.

I don’t want to be found. Not after what I did…

I drag on my cigarette. No idea what time it is. If I’m still in Amsterdam’s old quarter, I should be able to hear the bells from the myriad of churches. And pinpoint my location.

I take a last drag and extinguish my cigarette against the bricks.

The numbness in my legs worries me. Maybe the bullets hit my spine.

In the distance a church bell chimes.

Once. Twice. Silence.

That sounded like the Oude Kerk, but I’m not sure.


Two in the morning.

Five hours till dawn.

A whole night to die in.

And muse about the events that got me in this predicament.

If only I hadn’t picked the pocket of the fat woman…

I’d love to hear what you think, so please comment below. Also, before I will look for a publisher or publish In Pocket myself I will need beta-readers to make sure the story is as good as I can get it. So stay tuned!

If you want to read the next sample, wherein Wolfgang targets the Fat Woman and set in motion the chain of events that lead to his predicament, send me an email at katlasieltjes@yahoo.com with ‘password sample?’ in the subject line.



10 Comments on “Rate/Review this sample from my Work-In-Progress:”

  1. Luccia Gray says:

    Great blurb. Concise and alluring. I wonder why you chose to write ‘couldn’t never’, unless it’s Wolfgang’s way of speaking. I love the way the extract is written, not a single word out of place. It’s intriguing. I want to know about the fat woman… Just picking now, but there’s one line I find out of place: ‘The street sign is missing. Or was never there at all. Not all dead-end alleys here have names.’ Somehow, in his condition and at night, I can’t imagine him even trying to find the name of the street on a sign! And anyway, if he knows the city so well, he might not need to even look. I liked the recognition of the bells for location and time, very shrewd.


    • Thank you, Luccia. It’s a work in progress, and this is the opening chapter, subject to small changes.
      The ‘couldn’t never’ should be ‘could never’. I’ll edit that right now.

      The story will go from Wolfgang in the present time thinking about everything what happened to him that resulted in him ending up grievously injured in the dead-end alley. The chapters that tell the story are in past tense.

      I’m still not sure whether I’ll look for a publisher or publish this story myself. I will be looking for beta readers for this story, but I’ll mention that again when the time is right.


      • If you want to read what happens when Wolfgang meets the Fat Woman, you can send an email requesting the password to the protected blog post containing the first two chapters.


  2. I’m hooked, and impatient for your new work to be published. 🙂


    • I’m sorry, your comment is too short. Please elaborate. 🙂

      I wonder if I should also post the first scene (the one where Wolfgang meets the Fat Woman), so it’s clearer how the story progresses.


      • If you want to read what happens when Wolfgang meets the Fat Woman, you can send an email requesting the password to the protected blog post containing the first two chapters.


  3. Martyn, I liked this very much. Since I reserve squee for Katla, however, I won’t squee over this.

    What I loved: the grit of the scene; the teaser, all the asides [like about the cigarettes – I know of smokers who would empathise with the “what’s worse” bit].

    What I didn’t like was the use of present tense. This is more a personal preference than a statement on whether or not it “works”. You did it quite well. I just don’t like it.

    My only concern in the piece is that a man who has been gut shot three times is still so lucid. Knowing your skill as a writer, it doesn’t concern me insofar as I know it will be justified/explained, but in this moment, it made me raise my eyebrows.

    Naturally, I will want to be kept apprised of your progress in this WiP . . .!


    • Hi Roberta,

      I PM’ed you the password for the secret blog post…

      As to the present tense–90 percent of the book is in the past tense, as Wolfgang tells us how he ended up in the alley. Only the alley scenes, which are interludes where Wolfgang ruminates on his present state, are in the present tense.

      I hope that assuages your fears of having to read a whole book in First Person Present Tense.

      Part of why Wolfgang is still so lucid while grievously injured is related to his drug addiction. Regular use of heroin changes the pain receptors in the addict’s brain, so that has a direct effect on how pain is experienced.

      Love to hear what you think of the first chapters…


  4. […] is the rewritten beginning of the novel (old version is here), which is written in present tense. The rest of the novel is in past tense, except for the […]


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