Sometimes Brains Forget

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I am working on a horror short story…

Yes…another one…

I saw a call for submissions and I CAN’T RESIST. 1,000-8,000 words…pfft…I can do that.

Deadline is the end of the month…YES THIS MONTH I KNOW!

I had an idea…I let it simmer…I started writing because there’s not a whole lotta time left. SO IMMA JUST GONNA WRITE IT NO PROBLEM.

Or, yes, problems.

I thought I was just writing it. I thought I was going with the flow. But I couldn’t have been because I kept going back to the beginning…fussing and overthinking. I had a list of lines to include…of images…of stuff…

I kept trying to order them, to…

OMG I WAS TRYING TO PLOT!

Well, no wonder I was having so much trouble. My brain and plotting aren’t friends. They are mortal enemies!

So I set aside my list and went back to the story. I quit trying to shove all the ideas down my poor story’s little throat and let it decide where it needs to go. Pantsers gotta pants. That sentence makes so little sense…AND I DON’T CARE.

I don’t have a complete first draft…BUT I WILL BECAUSE I HAVE NOW RECOGNIZED, NAMED, AND DESTROYED THE PROBLEM.

But…I’m sure this isn’t the last time this happens. Sometimes brains forget. Sometimes brains fight their nature and overthink. Sometimes brains try to trick us.

Silly, evil brains…

So we learn and move on.

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#Amreading UNWIND…When Books are More Than a Story

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Years and years ago, after picking up a few books at the library, I discovered the author Neal Shusterman. I first read his Dark Fusion books and loved them.

Then I found Downsiders…

and became a Neal Shusterman fan. I searched the library for his books, reading all they had. Here are some… go find more here. Have I read all of his books? Nope. But I am working on it.

All of them are fantastic! Don’t forget Bruiser…or Scythe. Have you read them? WHY NOT?

When I came across Unwind…

and…

Seriously. So many feels. So many thoughts. So many mind altering ideas.

Well, it’s the first in a series…so I set out to read the rest, but the rest hadn’t been written, so I set them aside because I WANT TO READ THEM ALL IN A ROW.

I have four…however, there is a fifth I have to buy…waiting for me to immerse myself in the stories.

My sister and her family came to visit over Labor Day weekend and my niece approached me and said, “We’re reading Unwind in school.”

Me:

“UNWIND…NEAL SHUSTERMAN’S UNWIND? THAT IS ONE OF MY VERY FAVORITE BOOKS! HAVE YOU STARTED IT?”

My niece might have been a little scared by my outburst, but she knows me, so she got over that. My sister then filled me in on the e-mail the teacher sent home about the book to prepare the parents.

This is no ordinary story, kids. The parents needed to be prepared.

This is a book that can spark a million discussions, that can change perspectives on…so many ideas.

Because of this very thing, my sister decided to read it too. Well, she has devoured the series.

Unwind takes place in a future where there was a second civil war between the Pro-life and Pro-choice camps. This book deals with the laws that were set up to stop that war. This book deals with kids trapped within these laws. This books deals with big questions.

And it does it well.

IT DOES IT WELL.

A beautifully written book. Great characters. A fabulous overall idea that hits you right in the heart.

Bravo to the teacher that decided to let her eighth graders read it. Bravo to the teacher for informing the parents. Bravo to the parents, like my sister, who picked up the book themselves ready to talk about it with their kids.

I hear a lot of people talking about the books they want to read, books taking place in a world they want to live in, books showing a society they want to be a part of. Maybe books should show us a better world, maybe art show show people what is possible. But so many things are possible. Not good…not bad…just possible.

Is the world in Unwind one people want to live in? Probably not. The laws enacted to stop the war…are problematic. Are hurtful. Are scary.

Unwind is disturbing. One chapter in particular really made my head spin.

But it made me think. It made me see the world differently. It affected me.

Good books should do that. Good books don’t have to show us a world we want, but show us what is possible, make us face what could happen, make us stare at what humanity is capable of and question.

In the questions, we grow, we learn, we become better.

Unwind did this for me. It puts humanity on display.

What do you believe?

Why?

Maybe it’s time to look at the whys.

 

The Crazy Wonderfulness of #SonofaPitch

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Last week I participated in the writing event/contest Son of a Pitch. People submitted their entries, including their query and first page. This blog was a host for ten of them! Go #TeamRarity! I read and critiqued 51 entries. I read and critiqued I have no idea how many revisions. It took a long time. I enjoyed every moment.

Let’s talk for a moment about feedback. For Son of a Pitch, everyone gets some. Maybe one person dropped by your entry or five…but there was some. Better than none.

Aside: We, the feedback-givers, don’t have a set amount we have to critique. Some of the critiquers have more time to so this than others. Some people feel comfortable looking at certain categories or genres. We do the best we can.

We are leaving our opinions. Not directions. Not even answers. We comment, hoping one of those ideas will spark inspiration. That the author will have an AH-HA moment and know what is missing. If no AH-HA moment…then those comments weren’t for you.

I do know how critiques, especially if you get three or more, can mess with your head. Can make you feel like you’re failing. Can send you along the path of OH-MY-GOODNESS-WHAT-WAS-I-THINKING-I-CAN’T-WRITE.

This is NOT what we want. Yes, feedback is overwhelming…so many ideas, so many comments (some of which can contradict), so much you suddenly feel like you have to change. I HAVE BEEN THERE! WE ALL HAVE!

But, no. You don’t have to change anything.

I know that round three was fast approaching and if you were chosen to go on, then you had to have a pretty polished query and first page, so revisions were flying. But relax. Perfection is not a thing. What would be a great query for one person, isn’t for another.

Take all the information in. Let your creative brain chew on it, spit out the things that make no sense, and see what does. You have time. You can do this. In the end, listen to YOUR mind. This is YOUR story. No one knows it like you. Trust yourself. Believe in your process and in your talent.

No one will give you clear answers. We offer choices. You have to come up with the answers.

I know…’but please! Please just tell me what to do!’ The world of art is wonderful. And frustrating.

BUT WONDERFUL!

Last week was a blur. I hope you made friends. I hope you learned something. I hope you feel a little more confident. Because putting your work out there, not just in a query, but ON A BLOG, is incredibly brave. Listening to what others think is a big step.

I voted for seven, five to move on to round three and two as back-ups…for tie-breaking purposes. Voting is not my favorite thing.

I tried to vote for different genres and categories. To give the publishers looking at the entries a variety. Believe me, I wanted to vote for all the dark and weird ones. I did. Luckily other people voted for the ones I didn’t.

Let’s talk about the voting. Let’s remember how subjective this is. I had piles…yes…no…maybe…maybe leaning to yes…SO MANY PILES I WAS DROWNING.

Why were things in a no pile? Not for me…query was too confusing…I wasn’t pulled in…just not my thing.

Maybe piles…those were weird and numerous…I like the concept, but the query didn’t give me enough to know the story was there. I like the writing, but, once again, the query didn’t confirm the story arc. The query and writing were fine…and the author did revisions that improved them. Most of the time I was seriously confused. I could easily vote for all the things I wanted to read, but this wasn’t about me. This was about the publishers coming to look at them. They want different things than I do…last time they asked for more romance to get through. Romance…not really my thing. So I struggled. So I basically lined up all my notes and eeny-meeny-miny-moed it.

Not getting votes is heart-breaking. Just know that it could have been that the dart I threw landed on the one next to yours. Publishing is a strange place. So much depends on luck. So much is waiting and questioning. So much is just never giving up.

I hope everyone left last week with a stronger query. I saw a lot of them! NOW GO FORTH AND USE THEM!

Some of the people in round three will get requests. Some won’t. Some of the requests might go somewhere. Some won’t. All will go on to query. These contests help, but if you look at the number of people who get published because of them versus the amount published because of simple querying…I think querying wins.

Son of a Pitch is over…for me.

Kinda.

Round three of Son of a Pitch has begun. You can go see all the entries here, but do not comment! The comments are reserved for publishers and agents who want to request. AND I WILL BE WATCHING. I will be begging people for updates.

And I will be back for the next Son of a Pitch.

Until then…KEEP GOING! KEEP DOING YOU! KEEP LEARNING TO LISTEN TO YOURSELF! TRUST YOURSELF! And even though it’s hard…LOVE THIS CRAZY WRITING JOURNEY!

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 10: RULES OF THE DRAGOS

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 10:

Title: RULES OF THE DRAGOS
Category and Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 70,000
Query:

Give eighteen-year-old Ava Dracaena a sword and someone to swing at, she’ll excel beyond every expectation set. But put her in charge of making decisions that can change the way her clan lives, expect disaster. Ava thinks with her heart and not her head, which more than one person in the clan has told her is the practice unfit of a leader. Now if she could only get her parents to see her reason for turning down her birthright as clan leader.

The chance to show her father just how strong a protector she is never comes. Ava’s world is shattered with the murder of her sister and disappearance of her parents. Topped off with a declaration of war from the enemy clan, she no longer has a choice of whether or not to lead. Ava wants to protect her clan, and the only way to do that is be the leader she’s not sure she can be.

Because death, kidnappings, and self-doubt aren’t enough, Ava’s finding it difficult to get the dark-souled leader of the enemy clan out of her thoughts. She shouldn’t want anything to do with him, but she finds herself drawn to his darkness, determined to find the light she senses is buried deep within. If she goes to war with his clan, she may end up losing her soulmate. And if they don’t fight, the enemy will follow-through on a promise made centuries ago and forcefully take her people under their control.

First 250 Words:

I, Ava Cecilia Dracaena, do not accept my birthright as the next Dragos Clan Leader. I pass this honor to my sister. In exchange for my title, I request of the Dragos Guard and Clan Leader to amend the laws preventing women from training to be a member of the elite group of protectors. Guard General Braylen Negrescu, with your permission I request to officially join the trainees who will soon compete for their spot on the Guard.

A gust of wind pulled the paper off my lap where I’d balanced it on my knees. As it floated to the ground,  I ran my hands over the tops of the grass, smiling at the way the tips tickled my palms. No need to chase after it, I’d memorized exactly what I wanted to say weeks ago.

The crisp air filled my lungs. Insects all around chirped. We’d finished training twenty minutes ago and rather than head back home, I sat in the grass near the edge of a cliff overlooking the river below. Tomorrow I was supposed to give a speech to accept my birthright as Clan Leader. Instead I’d prepared one to denounce the title and instead give it to my sister.

As I gathered my towel, water bottle, and bag my phone vibrated in the side pocket. We weren’t supposed to have them, but what our trainers didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE:

Query:

Give eighteen-year-old Ava Dracaena a sword and someone to swing at, she’ll excel beyond every expectation set. But put her in charge of making decisions that can change the way her clan lives, expect disaster. Ava thinks with her heart and not her head, which more than one person in the clan has told her is the practice unfit of a leader. (Ugh. I’m sure that makes her feel fabulous…*cue eyeroll*) Now if she could only get her parents to see her reason for turning down her birthright as clan leader. (Okay! MC is set up, we know her and what she wants! Where are we? Earth?)

The chance to show her father just how strong a protector she is never comes. Ava’s world is shattered with the murder of her sister and disappearance of her parents. Topped off with a declaration of war from the enemy clan, she no longer has a choice of whether or not to lead. Ava wants to protect her clan, and the only way to do that is be the leader she’s not sure she can be. (And obstacles to what she wants! Great! And dude, too bad for her…)

Because death, kidnappings, and self-doubt aren’t enough, Ava’s finding it difficult to get the dark-souled leader of the enemy clan out of her thoughts. (Oh dear, drawn to the bad boys…I understand.) She shouldn’t want anything to do with him, but she finds herself drawn to his darkness, determined to find the light she senses is buried deep within. If she goes to war with his clan, she may end up losing her soulmate. (Soulmate? How does she know this?) And if they don’t fight, the enemy will follow-through on a promise made centuries ago (What promise? This is too vague.) and forcefully take her people under their control. (Is the taking them under control the promise? How will they do it? With magic? With swords and shackles? Let us know what evil waits. And stakes! Check!)

First 250 Words:

I, Ava Cecilia Dracaena, do not accept my birthright as the next Dragos Clan Leader. I pass this honor to my sister. In exchange for my title, I request of the Dragos Guard and Clan Leader to amend the laws preventing women from training to be a member of the elite group of protectors. Guard General Braylen Negrescu, with your permission I request to officially join the trainees who will soon compete for their spot on the Guard.

A gust of wind pulled the paper off my lap where I’d balanced it on my knees. As it floated to the ground, I ran my hands over the tops of the grass, smiling at the way the tips tickled my palms. (Wait! Her paper! She doesn’t react to it blowing away? We went from a letter to the grass too fast for me. See it float to the grass…let us feel what she does about it, then let her touch the grass, let her think about what those words mean…is this a big deal, what she’s about to do? At first I had her inside, by an opened window…then there was grass. So she’s outside, sitting on the ground? Set the scene. Let us see it.) No need to chase after it, I’d memorized exactly what I wanted to say weeks ago. (Ah, she doesn’t care that it blew away! I’d like this reaction right away. And she’s nervous? Excited? Scared? Running her hands over the grass and smiling…how does she feel? That letter is pretty big stuff, yet she seems at ease?)

The crisp air filled my lungs. (any smells in the air that can let us get to know the world? Any of her reactions to the scents to let us get to know her?) Insects all around chirped. (What kind of insects? How do they sound? Is this another world? How is it different, unique?) We’d finished training twenty minutes ago (Is she sweaty? Was it good training, training for what? Swords?) and rather than head back home, I sat in the grass near the edge of a cliff overlooking the river below. (Let us see the river, let us hear it.) Tomorrow I was supposed to give a speech to accept my birthright as Clan Leader. (Is this a tradition? She had reached a certain age?) Instead I’d prepared one to denounce the title and instead give it to my sister. (we read the speech, so we know…give us her feelings about it.)

As I gathered my towel, water bottle, and bag my phone vibrated in the side pocket. (A water bottle and a phone? Surprised me! I might need more worldbuilding. Talk of leading clans and joining the guard and training…my brain instantly imagined a no tech fantasy world. Where are we?) We weren’t supposed to have them, but what our trainers didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

*Good set up of a story full of possible drama and tension, but I am missing the emotion. She seems calm about what she is about to do. Is it no big deal? And the world…I have no idea where we are. Earth? If not Earth, give me details to show me where we are.

 

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

Thank you so much for being a part of Son of a Pitch!

Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

Be sure to join us on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is super fun! #TeamRarity rocks!

 

 

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 9: TALES OF THE RASHA LA

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 9:

Title: TALES OF THE RASHA LA

Category and Genre: YA, Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 58,000 words

Query:
…and since it was their turn the monarchs told their own story, a tale of lost children returned to earth as butterflies on the wings of the Fyrstellia, the falling stars.
For when the Lord of Light granted men a mortal lifespan He founded a halfway house in the nearby heavens as well, where angels could bring the fallen and tend their spirits until they were ready to enter the Light. For most it was only a short stay, but not for the children.
“They don’t want to go on”, reported the Keeper of the Halls. “They want to go back”.
Here are two that did–‘Rasha La’ such monarchs call themselves—-together with an account of their journey into Mexico, caught up along the way in the fortunes of the fairy people on earth.
The main characters, monarchs of that little-known subspecies, are recently arrived in the wildwood: Yero and Boca, a girl and a boy.
You’ll find them sheltering overnight in a thorn bush and awaken early with them to an awareness of predators in the trees above—-a roost of hungry crows—-some wary of the monarch toxicity, some not. Debate ensues about the butterflies’ edibility and the Top Crow calls for a review of the old ‘Warnings’.
They’ll survive this peril, one of many, but a greater threat is about to overtake them: They are the last monarchs of Northern Autumn. They have delayed their migration too long and are about to be overwhelmed by the change of seasons.

250 words:

A thorn bush was perfect. It was already dark in the woods and the wandering monarchs knew that a veil of thorns was better protection overnight than their own reputation. They couldn’t have chosen a worse perch, as we shall see. But they were young, just passing through, and unaware of local customs. A brisk shower awoke them in the wee hours, but otherwise the night passed quietly until early dawn when…
Splat!
A drop hit one of the butterflies, jarring her awake. She fumbled around in the gloom and poked her companion.
“Boca! Wake up. It’s raining again”.
He tried to ignore her. “Lemme be, Yero. Fold your wings”.
Splat!
Before she could do so the next drop landed on her back and dribbled down her leg. That was the end of her patience. She folded her wings tight and poked him harder.
“It’s raining! I’m moving!”
That brought him awake, bewildered. He felt perfectly dry.
Splat!
The third drop split on her neatly folded wings and trickled down both sides. She yelped and tip-toed away through the thorns in search of leaves to perch under. Boca followed in the dim light.
By good chance there was a canopy of leaves close by. The tough buckthorn bush had thus far ignored the frosts of autumn, retaining most of its green leaves even now on the doorstep of winter.

The new perch was much better. Occasional drops splashed harmlessly off the canopy now and all would have been well except for a strong, fetid odor.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE: 

Query:
…and since it was their turn the monarchs told their own story, a tale of lost children returned to earth as butterflies on the wings of the Fyrstellia, the falling stars. (The beginning of a hook here…I would cut the first part of the sentence go with the second part. A tale of lost children, fallen angels, the Rasha La, returned to earth as butterflies…to do what? To face what? Hook us here.)
(Intro our mcs…Yero and Boca, a girl and a boy, fallen angels waiting to be ready to enter the light, only they want to go back, to life, to earth…this sets up the mcs and what they want)
For when the Lord of Light granted men a mortal lifespan He founded a halfway house in the nearby heavens as well, where angels could bring the fallen and tend their spirits until they were ready to enter the Light. For most it was only a short stay, but not for the children. (This is worldbuilding and gets in the way of your query.)
“They don’t want to go on”, reported the Keeper of the Halls. “They want to go back”. (This isn’t a mc…this is a detail not needed in the query.)
Here are two that did–‘Rasha La’ such monarchs call themselves—-together with an account of their journey into Mexico, caught up along the way in the fortunes of the fairy people on earth.
The main characters, monarchs of that little-known subspecies, are recently arrived in the wildwood: Yero and Boca, a girl and a boy. (I want to know what they want, what is their goal? Then add in what they face to get there…a journey through Mexico, how does that hinder them? The fairies, what do they do?)
You’ll find them sheltering overnight in a thorn bush and awaken early with them to an awareness of predators in the trees above—-a roost of hungry crows—-some wary of the monarch toxicity, some not. Debate ensues about the butterflies’ edibility and the Top Crow calls for a review of the old ‘Warnings’. (Last sentence is unnecessary detail for a query.)
They’ll survive this peril, one of many, but a greater threat is about to overtake them: They are the last monarchs of Northern Autumn. They have delayed their migration too long and are about to be overwhelmed by the change of seasons. (What is their goal? What are they doing on earth? What are the stakes? If the seasons change, what happens to them? How much time do they have?)

*A beautifully written query, though it needs a bit more to make it a working query. A little too much detail and not enough of the big picture. I am very intrigued by your concept! I have a feeling the writing mirrors that in the ms, so YEA!

250 words:

A thorn bush was perfect. It was already dark in the woods and the wandering monarchs knew that a veil of thorns was better protection overnight than their own reputation. They couldn’t have chosen a worse perch, as we shall see. But they were young, just passing through, and unaware of local customs. A brisk shower awoke them in the wee hours, but otherwise the night passed quietly until early dawn when… (Oh…)
Splat!
A drop hit one of the butterflies, jarring her awake. She fumbled around in the gloom and poked her companion.
“Boca! Wake up. It’s raining again”.
He tried to ignore her. “Lemme be, Yero. Fold your wings”.
Splat!
Before she could do so the next drop landed on her back and dribbled down her leg. That was the end of her patience. (Why? Is she just impatient or have they been in this situation before?) She folded her wings tight and poked him harder.
“It’s raining! I’m moving!”
That brought him awake, bewildered. He felt perfectly dry.
Splat!
The third drop split on her neatly folded wings and trickled down both sides. She yelped and tip-toed away through the thorns in search of leaves to perch under. Boca followed in the dim light.
By good chance there was a canopy of leaves close by. The tough buckthorn bush had thus far ignored the frosts of autumn, retaining most of its green leaves even now on the doorstep of winter. (And it being close to winter is…bad? For butterflies, right?)

The new perch was much better. Occasional drops splashed harmlessly off the canopy now and all would have been well except for a strong, fetid odor.

*I am interested in the odor! What is it!?!? A couple of butterflies, hmmm…I like the voice, but I want a hint at something bigger. A hint at what they are doing? At their goals? What is this book going to be about? Two butterflies in the rain is nice, but what of the journey? A bit of emotion…worry about where they have to go, a touch of anxiety, or excitement…something to connect me to what is about to happen. Why do I care about two butterflies in the rain? I just need a little bit more.

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

Thank you so much for being a part of Son of a Pitch!

Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

Be sure to join us on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is super fun! #TeamRarity rocks!

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 8: SALVATION

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 8:

TitleSalvation

Category and Genre: Adult, Suspense/Thriller

Word Count: 75,000

Query:

Small town journalist Tom Coster is chasing a story 30 years in the making. The story: The untold events that went on behind the doors of now-shuttered Salvation Home for Wayward Children. Tom, however, has a hidden motive behind the article he wants to print. He hopes the story draws out his cousin, Dianna Lane, who disappeared from the troubled teen home those 30 long years ago, or the person he suspects kidnapped her; The former owner of the compound, Marcus Taylor, who went off the grid around the same time.

The further Tom digs the more attention he gains, and from those who would rather Salvation Home’s troubled past remain out of the public eye. It becomes clear to him the depths of depravity those who come after him will sink to. After all, the narratives people weave for God to be on their side have no boundaries when it comes to madness.

First 250 Words:

At first, the icy steel floor was a welcome reprieve. Then her bleeding welts began to scream.

“Esther, git off th’ floor.” the man standing over her demanded. “Y’ain’t gon’ bleed t’ death. Y’got ten mo’ah swats comin’.” She looked up at him, looked him in the face, and found a gaze that was unrepentant and just as cold as the floor. “Esther” struggled, her legs shivering as she made the attempt to stand.

“Please,” she whispered, her voice trembling, “please…Brother M-Marcus, no more…”

“Shut it, girl.” the man said. “Assume th’ position, an’ repeat Proverbs 23:13.” “Esther” did as told, despite her body pleading for her not to go through with it.

“W-withhold not c-cor—agh!” she screamed, as the cane, a twisted and evil implement, came across one of her already opened wounds. She could feel the wood, jagged and tattered from years of use, cut into the back of her legs. Another strike, and she doubled over, doing her best not to vomit from the pain.

“Don’ you get sick all ovuh, child.” Marcus growled. “Eight mo’ah, then we git you all nice an’ cleaned up.” He chuckled, and his attempt to make it sound light-hearted instead turned it into the most soul-crushing sound in the world. “Now, git up, and git back into position!”

But “Esther” couldn’t manage it. Her body wouldn’t obey. Once before she had been in a similar situation: Her back tensed, the scars there already beginning to hurt through sympathy.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE:

Query:

Small town journalist Tom Coster is chasing a story 30 years in the making. The story: The untold events that went on behind the doors of now-shuttered Salvation Home for Wayward Children. Tom, however, has a hidden motive behind the article he wants to print. He hopes the story draws out his cousin, Dianna Lane, who disappeared from the troubled teen home those 30 long years ago, or the person he suspects kidnapped her; The former owner of the compound, Marcus Taylor, who went off the grid around the same time. (Nice! Good set up. I wonder why? Why is he so committed to finding the answers?)

The further Tom digs the more attention he gains, and from those who would rather Salvation Home’s troubled past remain out of the public eye. (Give me what they do to stop him. Give me what obstacles he faces, details that will stand out and be remembered.) It becomes clear to him the depths of depravity those who come after him will sink to. (this is vague) After all, the narratives people weave for God to be on their side have no boundaries when it comes to madness. (an interesting line, but it doesn’t give me what he faces, it doesn’t give me the moment he faces a big choice, it doesn’t give me the stakes. What happens if he uncovers the truth? Is there a moment when he thinks that maybe he shouldn’t?)

First 250 Words:

At first, the icy steel floor was a welcome reprieve. Then her bleeding welts began to scream. (Nice!)

“Esther, git off th’ floor.” the man standing over her demanded. “Y’ain’t gon’ bleed t’ death. Y’got ten mo’ah swats comin’.”

(New para) She looked up at him, looked him in the face, and found a gaze that was unrepentant and just as cold as the floor. “Esther” (Love the name in parentheses!) struggled, her legs shivering as she made the attempt to stand. (Any sights, sounds, smells to add a bit to the scene? What is she wearing?)

“Please,” she whispered, her voice trembling, “please…Brother M-Marcus, no more…”

“Shut it, girl.” the man said.(what does he look like?) “Assume th’ position, an’ repeat Proverbs 23:13.” “Esther” did as told, despite her body pleading for her not to go through with it. (With what? What is the position?)

“W-withhold not c-cor—agh!” she screamed, as the cane, a twisted and evil implement, came across one of her already opened wounds. She could feel the wood, jagged and tattered from years of use, cut into the back of her legs. Another strike, and she doubled over, doing her best not to vomit from the pain.

“Don’ you get sick all ovuh, child.” Marcus growled. “Eight mo’ah, then we git you all nice an’ cleaned up.” He chuckled, and his attempt to make it sound light-hearted instead turned it into the most soul-crushing sound in the world. “Now, git up, and git back into position!”

But “Esther” couldn’t manage it. Her body wouldn’t obey. Once before she had been in a similar situation: Her back tensed, the scars there already beginning to hurt through sympathy.

*Oh my heavens! Someone needs to get this Marcus guy and possibly, maybe murder him. Yup. This is not what I expected after the query…In the query I only heard of Tom, so I am a little thrown. But I realize this is the possibly the past, possibly what happened to the lost cousin Tom searches for. Is this a prologue?

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

Thank you so much for being a part of Son of a Pitch!

Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

Be sure to join us on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is super fun! #TeamRarity rocks!

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 7: WHEN THE PAST KNOCKS

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 7:

Title: WHEN THE PAST KNOCKS
Category and Genre: Adult psychological thriller
Word Count: 83,000
Query:

The night Blake can’t remember is the one he’ll never forget.

Businessman Jeffrey Blake is confident he left his juvenile habits of binge drinking and drugs in the past. And besides juggling a healthy mix between his new GM position and his wife and two daughters, he is successfully hiding a two-decade-old felony. Until his boss is killed

Blake finds evidence in his possession linking him to his boss’ death, but his muddled recollection of the murder night leads him to consider he could be an involuntary accessory in the crime. One memory, however, awakes: he was blindfolded and gagged by a stranger, and his family and friends’ safety threatened should Blake seek any help. In fear for their lives, he only hints at his dilemma to his friends, as he doesn’t trust anyone, dreading the assailant isn’t a stranger—or that the murderer isn’t himself.

When text messages warn him of future killings, Blake condemns himself for his inability to prevent more deaths without ending up in jail. Then, the company VP goes missing. Pressure mounts when Blake’s weak alibi prompts a detective to dig into his past. Tangled in lies, brooding about why he has become a target, Blake seeks solace at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Finally, a clue kick-starts him. If he doesn’t take the reins into his hands, or risk even a wrong move, he’ll never be able to prove his innocence to the police—and to himself.

First 250 Words:

Thursday – Day Two

Sometimes it’s wiser to forget a day than to try remembering it, but being wise was the least of Jeffrey Blake’s worries.

He clenched his fist, fearing the knife at his throat would prick his skin. Or worse—kill him. He wanted to get out, run away, run for his life. He couldn’t move. I don’t want to die.

A blunt voice rattled him, crawled under his skin. “You’re responsible.”

Blake cracked his eyes open.

The season’s first brisk morning breeze streaming through the window raised his hair; something wasn’t right. His head felt as if it had collided with a concrete wall at full throttle, his brain derailed. A memory gushed back: the knife. Instinctively he threw a hand to his neck, stifled a cry as he felt a scab.

Heart in his throat, he tilted his head. She was asleep, purring next to him. Last thing he needed was throwing his wife into the same panic streaming through him. With care he peeled back the blanket, the sunrise throwing enough beam onto the pillow—blood. He flipped the pillow, tiptoed in haste to the spacious granite en-suite bathroom, held his breath as he braced himself to check the mirror, his discovery proving his fear: a cut, not big but big enough to notice.

“What the fuck happened!” His eyes darted from side to side, from ceiling to wall, and stopped—yesterday’s shirt was sticking out of the laundry basket. He yanked it out, examined it.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE:

Query:

The night Blake can’t remember is the one he’ll never forget. (Like this as a hook!)

Businessman Jeffrey Blake is confident he left his juvenile habits of binge drinking and drugs in the past. And besides juggling a healthy mix between his new GM position and his wife and two daughters, he is successfully hiding a two-decade-old felony (What did he do?). Until his boss is killed. (Nice character set up! What does he want? To continue this way?)

Blake finds evidence in his possession (a bit vague…what does he find? How long since the death?) linking him to his boss’ death, but his muddled recollection of the murder night leads him to consider he could be an involuntary accessory in the crime. (Why is his memory muddled? I thought he left the drinking behind?) One memory, however, awakes: he was blindfolded and gagged by a stranger (How does he know it was a stranger? Did he see them?), and his family and friends’ safety threatened should Blake seek any help (help for what?). In fear for their lives, he only hints at his dilemma to his friends, as he doesn’t trust anyone, dreading the assailant isn’t a stranger—or that the murderer isn’t himself.

*This para gets muddy. We should learn what gets in his way of his goal, of living his nice life. Suddenly thinking he killed someone, finding time he can’t remember would do that! Does he wake up confused one morning? Does he remember what happened up until the lost time? Was he drinking? Does he immediately recall his life before? Does finding this “evidence” trigger the memory of the night he can’t remember? When he finds evidence, he struggles to remember what happened. Is it possible he killed his boss? A fuzzy memory surfaces. Being blindfolded. Being gagged. But by whom? The lives of his friends and family are threatened…if he seeks help, but for what? What do these kidnappers want from him? I like the end sentence…that he fears being the murderer.

When text messages warn him of future killings, Blake condemns himself for his inability to prevent more deaths without ending up in jail. (What do they want him to do? What is he not doing to prevent the deaths? They are killing people…why? How does it link to him?) Then, the company VP goes missing. (Is he worried they will blame him?) Pressure mounts when Blake’s weak alibi prompts a detective to dig into his past. (Uh oh.) Tangled in lies, brooding about why he has become a target, Blake seeks solace at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Finally, a clue kick-starts him. (What clue?) If he doesn’t take the reins into his hands, or risk even a wrong move, he’ll never be able to prove his innocence to the police—and to himself. (Stakes…What is the big moment where he faces a choice? If he can’t prove his innocence…what specific thing does he fear? What about his family? Is he losing them?)

*I don’t get why they take him, what they want from him? They threaten his family, but why? What is he supposed to do? What drives him through this? What does he want? What about stakes? Will he lose his life? His family? Will he end up in jail? The secret felony…how does it link to the story?

First 250 Words:

Thursday – Day Two

Sometimes it’s wiser to forget a day than to try remembering it, but being wise was the least of Jeffrey Blake’s worries. (Like this!)

He clenched his fist, fearing the knife at his throat would prick his skin. Or worse—kill him. He wanted to get out, run away, run for his life. He couldn’t move. (Why can’t he move? Any sights, sounds, smells? Can he see? Set the scene.) I don’t want to die. (italicize “I don’t want to die” and put it in its own para…as his thoughts.)

A blunt voice rattled him, crawled under his skin. “You’re responsible.” (Nice! Creepy!)

Blake cracked his eyes open.

The season’s first brisk morning breeze streaming through the window raised his hair; something wasn’t right. (What? Is there a lingering panic? And he opened his eyes, so I expected to see something…but he feels a breeze…what does he see? Sights that don’t match with fuzzy memories? Or does he feel the breeze, a breeze that doesn’t go with what he’s feeling…then opens his eyes) His head felt (stronger word than felt…throbbed?) as if it had collided with a concrete wall at full throttle, his brain derailed. A memory gushed back: the knife. Instinctively he threw a hand to his neck, stifled a cry as he felt a scab. (make this stronger…as his finger bumped over a thin scab.)

Heart in his throat, he tilted his head. She (She who?) was asleep, purring next to him. (A cat?) Last thing he needed was throwing his wife into the same panic streaming through him. (Oh! His wife! Description of her please when he looks at her.) With care he peeled back the blanket, the sunrise throwing enough beam onto the pillow—blood. (Sentence is a little awkward. The sun throwing enough beam to illuminate a spot(a big spot, little line of?)—blood.) He flipped the pillow, tiptoed in haste to the spacious granite en-suite bathroom, (the familiar scent of his wife’s perfume? The towels on the floor in a heap? Give us little details to build character.) held his breath as he braced himself to check the mirror, his discovery proving his fear: a cut, not big but big enough to notice.

“What the fuck happened!” His eyes darted from side to side, from ceiling to wall, and stopped—yesterday’s shirt was sticking out of the laundry basket. He yanked it out, examined it. (AH WHAT?!??!?!!? WHAT IS ON THE SHIRT!?!?! Interesting start! I am already dying to know what happened!)

*We need the query to match this. I’d take out the “Until his boss is killed” in first para. Start second para…when he wakes up with blood on his pillow and a scab on his throat, the fuzzy memory of a knife and a voice might not be a dream…then put in when he learns his boss is dead…now the fear he has that he can’t remember…that what if he did something…what is it he remembers…

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

Thank you so much for being a part of Son of a Pitch!

Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

Be sure to join us on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is super fun! #TeamRarity rocks!

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 6: HOMEGROWN

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 6:

Title: Homegrown

Category and Genre: Adult Thriller

Word Count: 82,000

Query:

DALTON, an eighteen year old from Washington D.C. suffering from depression since the death of his father, has come to the attention of ISIS recruiters. He and many others like him worldwide are being radicalized to perform atrocious attacks against the enemies of the Islamic State.

AAZAM, an ISIS Commander, has set in motion a plan to attack the International Coalition in their individual homelands. He will use Dalton and the other homegrown terrorists to make the West pay for their interference.

When Dalton’s mother, GAIL, realizes his involvement with the fanatical group, she will turn over heaven and hell to rescue her son before he does the unthinkable or gets himself killed.

First 250 words:

Ninety seconds; do or die. Glancing at the scoreboard, Dalton saw he had less than a minute and a half left to break the tie for the State Hockey Championship. The cold from the ice gave no relief as he shook the sweat from his eyes. His chest pumped like billows from exertion, using the break that the off-side gave him to recover. This is it. We either end it here or take a chance in sudden overtime. Got to get the puck out of our zone. What would Dad do?

He looked up in the stands and the empty seat beside his mother played on his mind. Not like Dad to miss a game this important.

“Okay guys, let’s do this,” Dalton said, the letter ‘C’ on his jersey heavier than it had ever been. For a seventeen old, it was a heavy responsibility, but he shouldered it well.

“Jaxson, we got this,” he yelled to the goalie. Jaxson shifted nervously on his skates, banging each post with his stick to center himself to the net, trapper raised at the ready.

The linesman slid up to the left faceoff circle, scanning to see if the players were in their positions.  Both Dalton and the opposing centerman faced off; muscles tense, sticks quivering.

The puck dropped and Dalton scooped it behind him to Daniel. As the puck rebounded behind the net, Dalton didn’t hesitate but, left his opposite standing there watching the play.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE:

Query:

DALTON, an eighteen year old from Washington D.C. suffering from depression since the death of his father, has come to the attention of ISIS recruiters. He and many others like him worldwide are being radicalized to perform atrocious attacks against the enemies of the Islamic State. (this final sentence is an omniscient POV and doesn’t seem to fit. If this is Dalton’s POV, let us meet the ISIS recruiters through his eyes…what draws him to them. What does he want from them, for himself?)

AAZAM, an ISIS Commander, has set in motion a plan to attack the International Coalition in their individual homelands. He will use Dalton and the other homegrown terrorists to make the West pay for their interference. (this final sentence gives us what you said in the previous para’s last sentence in the POV it belongs in…good set up here.)

When Dalton’s mother, GAIL, realizes his involvement with the fanatical group, she will turn over heaven and hell to rescue her son before he does the unthinkable or gets himself killed. (Good character motivation here, but a bit of description, who is she?)

*You have three POVs set up, the mother needs a bit more description. Dalton needs a bit more set up with his desires, what he wants, the other two have clear goals, clear motivations.

Now bring them together. Now how do they link? How do their stories come together? What do they face. What obstacles? What are the stakes for each as they face final decisions? From this I assume this ms has three POVs…

 

First 250 words:

Ninety seconds; do or die. (Nice opening!) Glancing at the scoreboard, Dalton saw he had less than a minute and a half left to break the tie for the State Hockey Championship. (make this sentence stronger, up the tension…Dalton glanced at the scoreboard. Less than a minute and a half to break the tie…) The cold from the ice gave no relief (relief from what?) as he shook the sweat from his eyes. His chest pumped like billows from exertion, using (this is confusing because I connect the action to his chest) the break that the off-side gave him to recover. (How is he using the break? What is he doing? What does he see, smell, hear? Set the scene.) This is it. We either end it here or take a chance in sudden overtime. Got to get the puck out of our zone. What would Dad do? (Like these internal thoughts! WHERE IS DAD? SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?)

He looked up in the stands and the empty seat beside his mother played on his mind. Not like Dad to miss a game this important. (And he’s…upset…confused…worried?)

“Okay guys, let’s do this,” Dalton said, (there are others around him? Who?) the letter ‘C’ on his jersey heavier than it had ever been. For a seventeen old, it was a heavy responsibility, but he shouldered it well.

“Jaxson, we got this,” he yelled to the goalie. (The rest of the team are not near the goal?) Jaxson shifted nervously on his skates, banging each post with his stick to center himself to the net, trapper raised at the ready.

The linesman slid up to the left faceoff circle, scanning to see if the players were in their positions.  Both Dalton and the opposing centerman faced off; muscles tense, sticks quivering.

The puck dropped and Dalton scooped it behind him to Daniel. As the puck rebounded behind the net, Dalton didn’t hesitate, but, left his opposite standing there watching the play.

*I like the hint that something is wrong…Dad not being there, maybe make this stronger, let him react to it. Set the scene a bit more. Overall, I like it. I don’t know much about hockey, so some of the terms are unknown, but I can get the feel for what it means.

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

Thank you so much for being a part of Son of a Pitch!

Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

Be sure to join us on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is super fun! #TeamRarity rocks!

 

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 5: HAZELWOOD

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 5:

Title: Hazelwood
Category and Genre: YA, Dark Fantasy
Word Count: 96,000

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Roma Hazelwood’s coping with a disturbing secret involving Brie, her five-year-old sister’s, death.

When mourning the one-year anniversary of Brie’s death, Roma’s shocked to see Brie standing over the corpse of their abusive, psychosis-induced mother, slumped in a tub overflowing with blood. Brie doesn’t seem to remember why she’s drenched in their mother’s blood. But Roma does.

On the run, Roma struggles to clean up the bloody trails that are left behind after Brie’s violent outbreaks while balancing her own mental health. As if answering her prayers, Roma receives a phone call from a woman named Veralyn, offering Roma and Brie sanctuary on a remote island. It seems too good to be true.

It is.

Thrown on an island inhabited by Faeries, both alive and dead, Roma struggles to face the fact that Brie might never have been human from the start. With Veralyn’s unsettling fixation on Brie becoming more aggressive, Roma’s behaving recklessly and desperately, struggling to keep Brie safe. So when Roma’s offered help, she’s to decide if the Faery, Machaos, is trustworthy after he’s saved her life on the mainland. All while her mental health is declining to a terrifying, familiar low.

If Roma fails to evade everything that’s threatening Brie’s existence, not only will Brie be taken from her, but Roma may cave to her dark desires to make another attempt to end her life.

First 250 Words:

At five years old my sister, Brie, was beaten, strangled, and held underwater.

I know how she died, I know who did it, because I was the one who buried her body one year ago to the day.

Soft, blonde bristles dip into the coat of blue and black paint, swirling the colors together. My brush moves across the canvas, dragging thick, blue sludge-like streaks behind it.

Ugh.

This isn’t working for me.

I sigh, settling the paintbrush on my easel and then I take a step back, my eyes fixed on my canvas.

After the past year, it’s clear to see I’ve let myself go in more ways than one. Not only am I fifty-two pounds heavier, but my depression’s compromised how I paint. Degrading my natural talent to a mediocre dollar-store quality. Today is different though, a bigger distraction than what depression has to offer. Today marks the first anniversary of the worst day in my life.

I spent weeks in my apartment – that ought to be a closet – after Brie died; planning how to end my life.

I considered hanging myself, but a rope would’ve broken from my hefty, plus-size, bodacious self. My C.A.S. worker ensured the landlord drilled my windows shut as well. All to avoid me from trying to jump off my balcony.

Great for my safety, but horrible for my sweaty pits in the summer.

I’ve thought about bleach but what if I live through it? That’s going to be rough.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE:

Query:

Seventeen-year-old Roma Hazelwood’s coping with a disturbing secret involving Brie, her five-year-old sister’s, death. (Intriguing!)

When mourning the one-year anniversary of Brie’s death, Roma’s shocked to see Brie standing over the corpse of their abusive, psychosis-induced mother, slumped in a tub overflowing with blood. Brie doesn’t seem to remember why she’s drenched in their mother’s blood. But Roma does. (Okay…ummm…confusion. Brie’s dead. But standing over their dead mother? A ghost?)

On the run, (On the run from what? The police?) Roma struggles to clean up the bloody trails that are left behind after Brie’s violent outbreaks while balancing her own mental health (details, what does she struggle with?). As if answering her prayers, Roma receives a phone call from a woman named Veralyn, offering Roma and Brie sanctuary on a remote island. It seems too good to be true.

It is.

Thrown on an island inhabited by Faeries, both alive and dead, (OH I LIKE FAERIES VERY VERY MUCH! What is it like there? Chaotic and evil? Wondrous?) Roma struggles to face the fact that Brie might never have been human from the start. (OH WHAT IS SHE!?!?!?) With Veralyn’s unsettling fixation on Brie becoming more aggressive, Roma’s behaving recklessly and desperately, struggling to keep Brie safe. (Or keep people safe from Brie? Or keep her safe from this Veralyn?) So when Roma’s offered help (help for what exactly?), she’s to decide if the Faery, Machaos, is trustworthy after he’s saved her life on the mainland (saved her from what? How?). All while her mental health is declining to a terrifying, familiar low. (So she’s been depressed before?)

If Roma fails to evade everything (Too vague! WHAT IS THREATENING BRIE?) that’s threatening Brie’s existence (who is she really? Does Roma discover what? Does what her sister is make her second guess fighting for her?), not only will Brie be taken from her, but Roma may cave to her dark desires to make another attempt to end her life. (Those are good stakes. But why…why is Roma driven to do this, to save her sister? And I am still confused by the whole, Brie died a year ago thing.)

*I am struggling to understand. The first sentence is throwing me off. Brie is dead…a year ago…but this is the story of how Roma protects her? How Brie is violent (possibly a changling? A ghost? A zombie?) and Roma covers it up? But she’s dead? Is this the story of why Roma kills her sister? I am very intrigued by the faeries! Who is this Veralyn? What does she want? Who is Machaos? What is it that keeps Roma protecting her sister? What kind of help do they get on the island? Does that help?

First 250 Words:

At five years old my sister, Brie, was beaten, strangled, and held underwater. (Nice opener)

I know how she died, I know who did it, because I was the one who buried her body one year ago to the day. (AND YOU WON’T TELL US WHO? Kinda mean. That event could certainly leave a scar, a wound that never healed….)

(need a transition here from the memory to the present) Soft, blonde bristles dip into the coat of blue and black paint, swirling the colors together. My brush moves across the canvas, dragging thick, blue sludge-like streaks behind it.

Ugh.

This isn’t working for me. (Don’t need the “for me” Does it usually “work” and work to do what?)

I sigh, settling the paintbrush on my easel, and then I take a step back, my eyes fixed on my canvas. (which looks like what? Details, feelings…)

After the past year, it’s clear to see I’ve let myself go in more ways than one. Not only am I fifty-two pounds heavier, but my depression’s compromised how I paint. Degrading my natural talent to a mediocre dollar-store quality. Today is different though, a bigger distraction than what depression has to offer. Today marks the first anniversary of the worst day in my life. (I think this para could be more powerful, if we hear those internal thoughts, the ones fueled by depression the ones that tell her how awful her painting has become, the ones that tell her to chuck the paint at the wall and never touch it again, or tell her to sit in a corner and cry, the ones that say chocolate will make it better. Show me the depression and its effect. Show me the empty plates of food she shouldn’t have eaten. Show me paintings she has done before…how much netter they are. Does she know she’s let herself go? Being aware of that is interesting…she must have fought depression before, must have been to therapy? There’s a lot I want to know, a lot of inner things.)

I spent weeks in my apartment – that ought to be a closet (you mean it’s very small?)– after Brie died; planning how to end my life.

I considered hanging myself, but a rope would’ve broken from my hefty, plus-size, bodacious self (earlier it was letting herself go by gaining weight, now she seems proud of it, or has she accepted it? Or is she hating herself and being sarcastic?). My C.A.S. (For those of us who do not know…maybe spell it out?) worker ensured the landlord drilled my windows shut as well. All to avoid me from trying to jump off my balcony (awkward wording here…to keep me from jumping from my balcony).

Great for my safety, but horrible for my sweaty pits in the summer. (Ew.)

I’ve thought about bleach but what if I live through it? That’s going to be rough. (I’ve thought…or I thought? still thinking of suicide? Or was this a while ago? Why tell us how she thought of ending it? Does she still think up ways?)

*I am left unsure. The mystery of how the sister died is interesting, but I know nothing about the sister…what was their relationship?

How painting helps, it’s therapeutic, but not today. Had she been doing better, until today. Why did she choose to live? Why is she going to choose to continue to live? Where is this going?

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

Thank you so much for being a part of Son of a Pitch!

Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

Be sure to join us on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is super fun! #TeamRarity rocks!

#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 4: SCRAPETOWN

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Son of a Pitch round two has begun! This week my blog will be dedicated to the authors of these amazing entries.

Comments are for the Son of a Pitch critiquers and authors only! All other comments will be deleted, them’s the rules peeps.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites…I think five…I should check that.

Onward!

Welcome to Team Rarity!

Entry 4:

Title: Scrapetown
Category and Genre: Adult Horror
Word Count: 82,000

Query:

Ghosts in the mirror aren’t stressful enough, so thank god Clare Monroe also lives with anxiety, Georgia summers without A/C, and quicksand feelings for her best friend Isobel. At least she knows the scrapes are harmless, half-sentient remnants trapped in reflections . . . until one of them eviscerates a friend minutes after Clare left him alone.

A necromancer stalks her adopted city of Atlanta, able to manifest scrapes and bend them to his will. He knows about Clare’s hidden gift, her unrealized potential—and how to win her undivided attention. When the killer turns his eyes (living and dead) on Isobel, Clare sees no choice but to embrace her own unsettling capacity for necromancy.

She finds an unexpected ally in bayou warlock Remy Leignon, whose snark might hide a kinship Clare has craved through years of obsessively hiding her abilities. But as they race to trap the enigmatic necromancer and Clare finally explores the true scope of her power, the line between survival and ambition begins to blur.

First 250 Words:

The dead thing in her closet whispered low and cigarette-rough.

Sprawled on her back, whiskey swimming in her head and floaters in her eyes, Clare Monroe tried not to notice.

Glass crashed from the living room; a sloppy curse. “Nothing broke!” Isobel called, then burbled something between a belch and a giggle. Couch springs squealed as she collapsed back down, the sound cutting right through the closed door between them.

Clare shut her eyes. Ignored that too.

Concentrate on your breathing. A siren wailed out towards Emory. More sly grumbles from the closet, the scrape’s voice catching on her cotton sheets like fingernails on skin. Don’t think about it. Attention gave it power.

Don’t think—

Too late.

Clare rolled over and stared at her closet. A slurry of Spanish crept around her mattress, welling up around her naked calves.

Unsteady footsteps and a rusty hinge marked Isobel’s journey to the bathroom; the shower turned on. Clare honed in on the dead thing’s voice so she wouldn’t listen for the soft flump of clothes hitting tile.

“No puedo respirar, no puedo…”

“Go away,” Clare whispered.

Her white closet door shone dully despite the lack of moonlight. (No light at all, nothing to turn innocent glass or metal into a reflective surface where a scrape might creep.) Behind the door, underneath the towel tacked over the mirror, the thing that had most likely been a stroke victim named Luis Delgado let out a wet and gravely sigh.

Now for my thoughts.

But first, a reminder, I am not an expert. I am a writer. My comments are my opinions. If any of these strange wordy things that pop into my brain and onto the page make sense for YOUR ms and makes YOUR writer’s brain spin with all the inspiration, YEA!!! Use them…run with them…let your creative brain go! If reading one of my insanely odd thoughts just makes you shrug and sparks no new idea, forget it! YEA!

I am here to help YOU make YOUR ms the best it can be. I do not want to rewrite it. I do not want it to be something else. Your words should be yours. I WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME!

Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to post any rewrites in the comments. I will be happy to answer anything and read revisions! Anything I can do to help get the creative juices flowing.

CRITIQUE:

Query:

Ghosts in the mirror aren’t stressful enough, so thank god Clare Monroe also lives with anxiety, Georgia summers without A/C, and quicksand feelings for her best friend Isobel. At least she knows the scrapes are harmless, half-sentient remnants trapped in reflections . . . until one of them eviscerates a friend minutes after Clare left him alone. (Wait…OMG…Scrapes? Mirrors? I LOVE THIS IDEA! However, this beginning confused me a bit. I had to reread it. What about starting with a hook like… Scrapes, the half-sentient remnants of people(?) trapped in reflections, are harmless. Or not. Then go into the next para with To –add in what she does? Or some tidbit about her-Clare Monroe, the stress of ghosts in the mirror is only made worse by anxiety, Georgia summers without A/C, and quicksand feelings for her best friend Isobel. At least the scrapes can’t hurt anyone. Until one (describe it a little give us a small detail we’ll never forget, A CREEPY TERRIFYING DETAIL!) eviscerates a friend minutes after Clare left him alone. Left the friend alone…in a room with a mirror? Left the scrape alone? What exactly happened? That was a lot…I know…I got very excited about this idea and couldn’t stop.)

A necromancer stalks her adopted city of Atlanta (maybe tell us she lives in Atlanta before, then here just give us the necromancer stalking the city), able to manifest scrapes and bend them to his will. (OOOOH! I like this guy, sounds fun.) He knows about Clare’s hidden gift, her unrealized potential—and how to win her undivided attention. (How does he know about her? AND UNREALIZED POTENTIAL? Dude. This sounds like the ms is in his POV as well as Clare’s, right?) When the killer (wait…killer? Who is the killer? The necromancer? No…the scrape/killer who murdered her friend?) turns his eyes (living and dead) on Isobel, Clare sees no choice but to embrace her own unsettling capacity for necromancy. (which does what to her?)

She finds an unexpected ally in bayou warlock Remy Leignon, (he seems thrown in here. Does she seek him out for help? Does she happen upon him? How does he enter the scene?) whose snark might hide a kinship (kinship…as in someone to understand what she can see? Someone who can help her learn how to control it? She didn’t want to learn, to really understand her power until Isobel? And now she needs to know?) Clare has craved through years of obsessively hiding her abilities. But as they race to trap the enigmatic necromancer and Clare finally explores the true scope of her power, the line between survival and ambition begins to blur. (Stakes here. What is her final choice she faces? To survive, learn enough about her power to get rid of the killer and save Isobel? Or become powerful to save Isobel? What? If she gives into the power what happens? Will she not save Isobel? Why is the call to power, this ambition so strong?)

*I got a little lost. Clare…her gift. The scrape who kills her friend. A necromancer, who wants to win her attention, but why? For what purpose? And a killer? Who is that? Okay…The necromancer is using scrapes to kill…he wants Clare for something and threatens to kill Isobel so Clare will…what? Give in to the power she could have…so he can what, use it, steal it? I need a better sense of how all these things connect. Is the ms in multiple POV? If so, I’d like to see in the necromancer’s head. See what he wants. If this is just Clare POV, make sure you show us the necromancer through her eyes.
First 250 Words:

The dead thing in her closet whispered low and cigarette-rough. (LOVE! I’M IN LET’S GO!)

Sprawled on her back, whiskey swimming in her head and floaters in her eyes, (Love this!) Clare Monroe tried not to notice.

Glass crashed from the living room; a sloppy curse. “Nothing broke!” Isobel called, (Who is Isobel?) then burbled something between a belch and a giggle. Couch springs squealed as she collapsed back down, (Clare can’t see this, right? She can hear the couch and imagine how the sound happened, if she has a crush on her, now would be the time to give us a hint…Clare imagines her falling onto the couch, her cute drunk smile, the way her hair is probably a mess, a wonderful mess) the sound cutting right through the closed door between them.

Clare shut her eyes. Ignored that too. (Ignored the sound of Isobel? Why?)

Concentrate on your breathing. A siren wailed out towards Emory (Emory? Who or what? Where is there a siren?). More sly grumbles from the closet, the scrape’s (because I read the query, I know what this refers to, but uncertain whether I would connect it to the mention of the dead thing earlier… can add a bit before it… the closet, the remnant of a life, the scrape’s) voice catching on her cotton sheets like fingernails on skin. Don’t think about it. Attention gave it power.

Don’t think—

Too late.

Clare rolled over and stared at her closet. A slurry of Spanish crept around her mattress, welling up around her naked calves. (Nice!)

Unsteady footsteps and a rusty hinge marked Isobel’s journey to the bathroom; the shower turned on. Clare honed in on the dead thing’s voice so she wouldn’t listen for the soft flump of clothes hitting tile. (Because hearing that would, what? Make her think of what she doesn’t have?)

“No puedo respirar, no puedo…”

“Go away,” Clare whispered.

Her white closet door shone dully despite the lack of moonlight. (No light at all, nothing to turn innocent glass or metal into a reflective surface where a scrape might creep.) Behind the door, underneath the towel tacked over the mirror, the thing that had most likely been a stroke victim named Luis Delgado let out a wet and gravely sigh. (Love it! Creepy and fabulous!)

I hope some of that, maybe just one little thing, helps!

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Thank you for sharing your words!

And may the road of revising and querying and publishing be a great one!

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