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Son of a Pitch, round 2, begins! Welcome to Team Dark Side.

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Eleven posts, for eleven entries. Four other blogs are hosting more! The comment section is for Son of a Pitch authors to leave their thoughts. So please do not comment unless you are a Son of a Pitch author. Thank you!

Onto entry 3!

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Title: Ashes, Ashes
Category and Genre: all ages, literary science fiction
Word Count: 72,000

Query:

Joshua Samson Loys is writing a novel about drug-running teens captive in a prison city, captive in a city of walls that house only the most high-profile criminals.  In a world of guns, bullets, and alcohol, his protagonists, character-versions of himself and his friend Alexa, struggle to fight the addiction of the drugs they sell, and fight to stay alive through gang wars and ruthless gang hunts: risking their lives to find a way to escape the prison city.  But…just as the drugs are an addiction for “character” Joshua, so the novel is an addiction for real-life Joshua; and, as the days wear on, “real” Joshua struggles to keep fiction straight from reality, to defy the drug of his words.  Just as his characters struggle to find their escape from the city, so, too, Joshua must learn how to set himself free from his prison of ink and paper.

First 250 words:

He knows the sound of gunshots the way he knows the sound of his own heart.

The familiar crack of the gun, the rancid smell of gunpowder filling his nostrils, the shout of a voice that isn’t his.  Nowadays, he’s come to expect it the way he’s come to expect the incessant metronome of his heartbeat, the way he’s come to expect his parents’ absence (because they are gone, gone forever, and they’re never coming back).  He lives by the sound of his heart, drumming its way through minutes and hours and days (and weeks, if he’s lucky), and so, too, he lives by the staccato refrain of the guns, by the harsh shout of strangers’ voices.

Today is worse than most days.  The kitchen didn’t have much food left for him, and his sister ran off somewhere, and hasn’t showed up since.  And he misses her.  As much as he hates to admit it, he actually misses her, arrogant spoiled brat that she is.  So, like always, he takes a sip of water, watching the little particles swim as he swirls the glass.  It won’t take long until he feels better.  That realization is oddly comforting.

It burns on its way down.  It burns, so intense, so sharp that the pain is almost enjoyable, like some strange form of release.

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And now my critique. Yes, I am doing it right now, if you don’t want to read my thoughts, stop here.

First, a disclaimer…

Hi, my name is Kathy. I am not a writing god or expert. I will tell you what works for me and what doesn’t. I will put in honest reactions. Please take the comments that make sense to YOU for YOUR ms. Please disregard any comments that aren’t relevant. I will ask a butt ton (seriously I don’t know exactly how much a butt ton is, but it’s a lot) of questions to spark your creative brain. Any questions that I ask that give you an AH-HA moment run with all those ideas! The questions that don’t send lightning to your mind…ignore. Please listen to all the other wonderfully talented people who will stop by.

Thank you for sharing your words. Your words are important. You are awesome!

 

Query:

Joshua Samson Loys is writing a novel about drug-running teens captive in a prison city, captive in a city of walls that house only the most high-profile criminals.  In a world of guns, bullets, and alcohol, his protagonists, character-versions of himself and his friend Alexa, struggle to fight the addiction of the drugs they sell, and fight to stay alive through gang wars and ruthless gang hunts: risking their lives to find a way to escape the prison city.

(I’d make this a different paragraph, feels like moving into the obstacles/stakes part.) But…just as the drugs are an addiction for “character” Joshua, so the novel is an addiction for real-life Joshua; and, as the days wear on, “real” Joshua struggles to keep fiction straight from reality, to defy the drug of his words.  Just as his characters struggle to find their escape from the city, so, too, Joshua must learn how to set himself free from his prison of ink and paper.

I really like this! The premise is super intriguing. Reminds me of Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, which I loved.

Calling it literary sci-fi…there is nothing in this query that says sci-fi. I think it’s just literary. And all ages? Ummm…have to see what others think, but definitely cross category. I can see YA and adult reading it, but not MG.  

I feel like I know more about “character” Joshua than “real” Joshua and I would love a few sentences about him. I wonder too about starting with “real” Joshua, his life…how old is he? What does he do in real life that he is escaping from?…and lead into that he is writing a novel. Then give us “character” Joshua…and name him, unless Joshua refers to him as “character” Joshua, but I think knowing his name is important, as he is a main character. Then end with the last couple of sentences.

I’d read this!

 

First 250 words:

He knows the sound of gunshots the way he knows the sound of his own heart. (awesome opener!)

The familiar crack of the gun, the rancid smell of gunpowder filling his nostrils, the shout of a voice that isn’t his.  Nowadays, he’s come to expect it the way he’s come to expect the incessant metronome of his heartbeat, the way he’s come to expect his parents’ absence (because they are gone, gone forever, and they’re never coming back). (nice bit of detail about his life)  He lives by the sound of his heart, drumming its way through minutes and hours and days (and weeks, if he’s lucky), and so, too, he lives by the staccato refrain of the guns, by the harsh shout of strangers’ voices. (I like the repetition of the heart relating to gun shots. Love the writing style and voice!)

Today is worse than most days.  The kitchen didn’t have much food left for him, and his sister ran off somewhere, and hasn’t showed up since.  And he misses her.  As much as he hates to admit it, he actually misses her, arrogant spoiled brat that she is.  So, like always, he takes a sip of water, watching the little particles swim as he swirls the glass.  It won’t take long until he feels better.  That realization is oddly (why oddly?) comforting. (The particles in the water confused me at first, I thought maybe his water was dirty, as if this world was post-apocalyptic…then I realized that it was a drug, I think. Maybe this could be clearer.)

It burns on its way down.  It burns, so intense, so sharp that the pain is almost enjoyable, like some strange form of release.

You’ve hooked me. I’m dying to know where he is…why are there gun shots all the time? What is this world? Worldbuilding…I’d love a bit of detail of the kitchen. Sights, sounds, smells. Can he see outside?

For the author of this entry…Feel free to comment on what I have said and you can certainly post revisions!

Again, THANK YOU for participating. Sharing your words and opening up for critique is difficult. We all are here to help you make your ms as shiny as possible. Good luck with all the writing!

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