#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 3: HANGING

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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 3:

Title: Hanging
Category and Genre:  Adult Supernatural Thriller
Word Count: 80,000

Query:
Ruth’s phobias have ruled—and ruined—her life. She dropped out of veterinary school because of a snake. She hasn’t slept in the dark in twenty years, since she was four. Desperate to conquer her fears and looking for a fresh start, she relocates to Wisconsin. There, she begins a new graduate program in Water Resources Management. With three classmates, she embarks on a field trip to Lake Chevinette, where two logging crews have vanished in the past.

Arriving at the site, Ruth finds the lake has strange qualities: the water is dark, but she cannot filter out particles; the plankton net reveals no life whatsoever; and an equipment cable, at least a hundred meters long, fails to reach the bottom, then gets caught and is lost. One of the girls has visions of smoke-shaped creatures gliding over the surface. She falls in, and, although Ruth rescues her, she vanishes when back on shore. With no cell-phone signal and the sun progressively dropping in the horizon, Ruth must either abandon her missing companion and live with the guilt, or continue to search after the darkness she dreads falls.

First 250 Words:

Madison, Wisconsin, September 25, 2015

Ruth lit a new tea light in the perforated lantern by the window. A beacon in the darkness of her studio apartment, the candle projected stars onto the floor and part of the wall and would last a few hours—usually until she awoke.

She changed into an old nightgown, its seams thick from the many times she had stitched them. Yet she couldn’t persuade herself to discard her thirteen-year-old birthday gift from her grandma.

Ruth lay on her stomach on the open futon with the laptop in front of her and opened the email from Barb. She copied the words “Lake Chevinette” and pasted them into the search box. Would the images be as breathtaking as those from Sparkling Lake?

But she found no images. In fact, the resulting links all seemed irrelevant. The text at the top of the page added to her disappointment: “Did you mean: Lake Chevrolet.”

The only Chevrolet she knew was the car. Did a Lake Chevrolet actually exist? Had Barb misspelled the name of the lake in her email?

A slight change in spelling produced: “Your search – Lake Chevinnette – did not match any documents.” Bullet point suggestions followed. “Make sure that all words are spelled correctly,” read the first one.

Ruth sneered. Wouldn’t it be great if I knew the correct spelling? Those bulleted pearls of obvious advice also included: “Try different keywords.”

So she did: “Lake Chevinette Northern Wisconsin.” To no avail. Again, no matched documents.

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:
Ruth’s phobias have ruled—and ruined—her life. (I like this as a hook!)

(At –insert age-years old Ruth –then give us a description, let us get to know who she is, what she is doing, what she wants.) She dropped out of veterinary school because of a snake. She hasn’t slept in the dark in twenty years, since she was four. (I like these little details.) Desperate to conquer her fears and looking for a fresh start, she relocates to Wisconsin. (Why there? What does she think she can find there? What drives here there?) There, she begins a new graduate program in Water Resources Management. (Is this her dream? To work in that field?) With three classmates, she embarks on a field trip to Lake Chevinette, where two logging crews have vanished in the past. (They go there…why? When she begins a graduate program…she learns of people who have vanished…and what? She needs to go find them, find what happened? Why?)

Arriving at the site, Ruth finds the lake has strange qualities (Instead, maybe…At the site, the lake has strange qualities.): the water is dark, but she cannot filter out particles; the plankton net reveals no life whatsoever; and an equipment cable, at least a hundred meters long, fails to reach the bottom, then gets caught and is lost. One of the girls has visions (visions, as in dreams? Or she thinks she sees?) of smoke-shaped creatures (THESE SOUND SUPER COOL!!!) gliding over the surface. She falls in, and, although Ruth rescues her, she vanishes when back on shore. (What? *gasp* Dude. Love that!) With no cell-phone signal and the sun progressively dropping in the horizon (why does it matter if the sun goes down? Because of that fear? Tie that in here!), Ruth must either abandon her missing companion and live with the guilt, or continue to search after the darkness she dreads falls. (Who is this companion? Why does she care?)

*This is very intriguing! I love weird and creepy! I do want more set up of the mc. And show me the emotion/motivation that drives her to move, to study what she studies, to go to the lake.

She wants to live free of her fears? Right? That is what drives her? What stops her? Give me the obstacles. Weird things at a lake? Nice, but what really stops her. Her phobias? Tie that first line into the whole thing. These strange happenings at the lake…what do they have to do with her phobias? What do they mean? How is she moving to what she wants?

Can she handle the fear to save a life? Make sure you keep that theme in the query.

Now the bonus question…if she is afraid of snakes and the dark, why the supernatural element? If she has no phone and her companion gets hurt, and she is dealing with the outdoors and the fact it will be dark…why does the supernatural have to be there? Why does the companion disappear? Why does she think she can save her from something she can’t understand? Why not leave and come back?

After reading the first page…the relocating to Wisconsin seems to be backstory and not necessary in the query. We need to know she is in a graduate program…and the inciting incident…that she was sent an e-mail referring to a lake she can’t find. How does she find it? And why go?

First 250 Words:

Madison, Wisconsin, September 25, 2015

Ruth lit a new tea light in the perforated lantern by the window. A beacon in the darkness of her studio apartment, the candle projected stars onto the floor and part of the wall and would last a few hours—usually until she awoke. (From your query, I know she’s afraid of the dark…give us more of that here. Phobias rule her life? Right? And aren’t there other lights on? What else can she see? Set me in the scene.)

She changed into an old nightgown, its seams thick from the many times she had stitched them. Yet she couldn’t persuade herself to discard her thirteen-year-old birthday gift from her grandma. (Nice character building here. Maybe more…why keep it?)

Ruth lay on her stomach on the open futon with the laptop in front of her and opened (watch repeat of the word “open” in this sentence) the email from Barb. (Her computer…more light to fight the dark.) She copied the words “Lake Chevinette” and pasted them into the search box. Would the images be as breathtaking as those from Sparkling Lake?

But she found no images. In fact, the resulting links all seemed irrelevant. The text at the top of the page added to her disappointment: “Did you mean: Lake Chevrolet.”

The only Chevrolet she knew was the car. Did a Lake Chevrolet actually exist? Had Barb misspelled the name of the lake in her email?

A slight change in spelling produced: “Your search – Lake Chevinnette – did not match any documents.” Bullet point suggestions followed. “Make sure that all words are spelled correctly,” read the first one.

Ruth sneered. Wouldn’t it be great if I knew the correct spelling? Those bulleted pearls of obvious advice also included: “Try different keywords.”

So she did: “Lake Chevinette Northern Wisconsin.” To no avail. Again, no matched documents.

*Nice start! If this ms is about fears…I’d intro a bit in here. And maybe a bit of unease at the lake not existing. Set up the tone of the ms. Set up the theme.

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!

 

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#SonofaPitch #TeamRarity Entry 2: THE MANHATTAN SWINDLE

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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 2:

Title: The Manhattan Swindle
Category and Genre: Adult Thriller
Word Count: 154,000

Query:

From Libyan villages to high society New York, from childhood sweethearts to enemies feuding over an oil cartel, The Manhattan Swindle follows Harry and Lilah.

As teenagers, Lilah and Harry escape an attempted abduction and survive a run across northern Africa, but their paths diverge once they return to New York. Harry joins their families’ oil trading business, planning to make it big enough to destroy the driller who’d ordered the kidnapping to force the sale of the company. Lilah, on the other hand, is determined to move on. She heads to Harvard Law School and still hopes for a future with Harry.

Then, he introduces her to his mentor, Senator Temple. The senator and his family are American aristocracy, with a penchant for plotting incessantly, hating virulently, and loving unwisely. They have one adversary in common with Harry and Lilah: the driller behind the abduction. Temple tries to manipulate Lilah into marrying the heir to his family’s oil empire to join their companies in a de facto merger, tempting her with the leadership of the illegal cartel. If Lilah agrees, she will lose Harry, but the cartel she leads will be big enough to annihilate the enemy who devastated her life and his. If she refuses, their enemy will remain a threat to Harry’s business and, eventually, his life.

 

First 250 Words:

January 1974

Egypt-Libya border

The blades of the search-and-rescue helicopter thwacked the sticky, salty air above the Mediterranean coast. The choppy engine was loud enough to drown out even thoughts. Hot wind gusted into Temple’s face and eyes as he leaned out from the open cabin, squinting at the steep, sparsely-vegetated cliff marking the border between the two countries.

Trucks and vans and cars bound for Alexandria were lined up along the Halfaya Pass. Libyan soldiers swarmed their side of the border and paid no attention to the American chopper hovering one thousand feet above the ground.

“Aren’t they supposed to ask us for identification?” Temple hollered into the mouthpiece, swatting at his billowing shirt.

His headset sputtered. “No one cares as long as we stay in Egyptian airspace,” said the pilot. “They’ve gotten used to us.” The operation to find the two abducted teenagers had been in effect for months.

Temple grimaced and withdrew his head into the cabin, not looking forward to the conversation he was expecting to have with the teens’ families when he landed.

Gaddafi—the Libyan dictator—had denied responsibility for the kidnapping of the ambassador’s daughter and her friend. But he refused to let American personnel within the country’s borders to conduct a search. Instead, he presented to the U.S government the mercenaries involved in the crime, claiming to have apprehended them after an exhaustive hunt. The criminals insisted the hostages had escaped, the boy having killed one of the guards.

Since then, beyond one phone call weeks back suggesting they were on their way to the Halfaya Pass, no one had heard from either the boy or the girl.

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:

From Libyan villages to high society New York, from childhood sweethearts to enemies feuding over an oil cartel, The Manhattan Swindle follows Harry and Lilah. (The way the sentence stands it leaves me hanging…you can rearrange it…The Manhattan Swindle follows Harry and Lilah from Libyan villages…)

As teenagers, Lilah and Harry escape an attempted abduction and survive a run across northern Africa, but their paths diverge once they return to New York. (The ms starts with them being rescued…So maybe…After being kidnapped then rescued in the African plains…friends Harry and Lilah head back to life scarred but hopeful…or something.) Harry joins their families’ oil trading business, planning to make it big enough to destroy the driller who’d ordered the kidnapping to force the sale of the company. (I like this sentence ending at “kidnapping”, don’t know if we need to know all the details of the driller’s evil intentions when the ms focuses on Harry and Lilah.) Lilah, on the other hand, is determined to move on. She heads to Harvard Law School and still hopes for a future with Harry. (Good set up of characters. We know what they want.)

Then, he introduces her to his mentor, Senator Temple. (When Harry introduces Lilah to his mentor Senator Temple…What happens? How does this change what they want or their goals?) The senator and his family are American aristocracy, with a penchant for plotting incessantly, hating virulently, and loving unwisely. (Do we need this info in the query?) They have one adversary in common with Harry and Lilah: the driller behind the abduction. (Ah! Okay! Nice!) Temple tries to (tries to? Or simply manipulates?) manipulate Lilah into marrying the heir to his family’s oil empire to join their companies in a de facto merger, tempting her with the leadership of the illegal cartel. If Lilah agrees, she will lose Harry, (does she have Harry? What will she lose here?) but the cartel she leads will be big enough to annihilate the enemy who devastated her life and his. If she refuses, their enemy will remain a threat to Harry’s business and, eventually, his life. (Nice stakes! If this is dual POV…what about Harry? What choice does he face? Or is this omniscient?)

*Nice query! Focuses on main story line. I would love a bit more character description. Who is Harry? Who is Lilah…maybe mention she’s the daughter of an ambassador? Ambitious? Hopeful? How old? How long between time lines of teenagers and adults? Does the ms flip between two time lines or tell the teenage story first then jump to the adult story? I remember this one from last time! Welcome back!

 

First 250 Words:

January 1974

Egypt-Libya border

The blades of the search-and-rescue helicopter thwacked the sticky, salty air above the Mediterranean coast. The choppy engine was loud enough to drown out even thoughts. (Love this!) Hot wind gusted into Temple’s face and eyes as he leaned out from the open cabin, squinting at the steep, sparsely-vegetated cliff marking the border between the two countries.

Trucks and vans and cars bound for Alexandria were lined (word choice to replace “were lined”…sat along… lined) up along the Halfaya Pass. Libyan soldiers swarmed their side of the border and paid no attention to the American chopper hovering one thousand feet above the ground.

“Aren’t they (the Libyan soldiers?) supposed to ask us for identification?” Temple hollered into the mouthpiece, swatting at his billowing shirt.

His headset sputtered. “No one cares as long as we stay in Egyptian airspace,” said the pilot. “They’ve gotten used to us.” The operation to find the two abducted teenagers had been in effect for months.

Temple grimaced and withdrew his head into the cabin, not looking forward to the conversation he was expecting to have with the teens’ families when he landed. (Oh…He thinks they’re dead…doesn’t he?)

Gaddafi—the Libyan dictator—had denied responsibility for the kidnapping of the ambassador’s daughter and her friend. But he refused to let American personnel within the country’s borders to conduct a search. Instead, he presented to the U.S government the mercenaries involved in the crime, claiming to have apprehended them after an exhaustive hunt. (and we trust them…riiiight.) The criminals insisted the hostages had escaped, the boy having killed one of the guards.

Since then, beyond one phone call weeks back suggesting they were on their way to the Halfaya Pass, no one had heard from either the boy or the girl. (Intriguing! I feel like I’m in the helicopter. Though I don’t know Temple…What does he have to gain here? What is his motive for searching? But missing teens…I would have to keep reading to know what the heck happened!)

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 1: TWO TAILS OF AMAYA

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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 1:

Title: TWO TAILS OF AMAYA
Category and Genre: YA CONTEMPORARY FANTASY THRILLER
Word Count: 69,000

Query:

Sixteen-year-old Amaya is the new girl at Radley High. When she’s adopted by the Mavericks back in Japan, she steps into a brand-new life. A life living as a human with two human parents. A life taking her across the ocean to live in a new country. And strangest of all, a life where she is no longer looking over her shoulder, worrying who is hunting her. But the transcendental Japanese fox’s elation is shattered when she learns she’s sitting in a dead girl’s chair.

Students begin to gossip about the hit and run. Some claim the town’s beloved lacrosse team may have been involved. Amaya keeps her distance from the gossip. After all, she fled Japan to get away from death, to forget about her family’s murder. But then she befriends Sam Warren, brooding loner with a sexy tattoo, and the only human resistant to her mind-altering powers. When the dead girl’s best friend starts to point fingers at Sam’s brother being the driver, Amaya and Sam set out to find the truth.

Amaya’s forced to confront her past when members of the lacrosse team are killed by a demonic wolf—the same wolf who killed her family after she brought shame to the God of Lightning. As the clues pile up and the wolf closes in, Sam and Amaya are drawn closer together. Amaya longs to tell Sam she’s a fox spirit, but in her experience, humans only see her as a demon. And she’s not ready to lose him. But revealing her true self might be the only way to stop the wolf from killing the first boy she’s ever loved.

 

First 250 Words:

The tumultuous, smoky grey clouds hiding the pale morning sun perfectly reflect my dark mood. It’s bad enough starting a new school in December, but walking there on the coldest day of the year because mom’s mini-van wouldn’t start… not fun. I shove my hands deeper into my pockets. If I could change into my fox form, I’d be warm and farther along in my trek. But I can’t risk any humans finding out what I am. An oncoming gust causes loose snow from the ground to become tiny missiles, and I squint to retain any vision.

I’d been looking forward to starting my first American high school, even if it would be as a junior, since we moved to Minnesota five days ago. The anticipation tingled through me like electrical sparks, gathering in my toes and making me too anxious to sleep most of the night. And this morning, it built to the point I became nauseous from all the butterflies swarming in my stomach.

Afton is a new start. A fresh start. There’s no longer a need to run. Or look over my shoulder. No need to watch my every step and sniff the wind for signs of danger. Fear no longer dictated my actions.

I could finally be happy.

Except instead of today being a triumphant new start, I’m slipping on the frozen sidewalk, my arms flailing about like a spastic ballerina as I attempt to avoid biting it in front of suburban commuters on their way to work.

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 make 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

YA CONTEMPORARY FANTASY THRILLER…okay, I have a little issue with all the genres, I know you want to let us know what is in it, but I have no idea what I will be reading. To me it seems Fantasy…if it is a scary-ish thriller…Dark Fantasy…OR maybe Magical Realism, if it is basically magic infused into reality. There does seem to be a set fantasy world behind it, with the mention of the God of Lightning, so that would make it fantasy.

Query:

Sixteen-year-old Amaya is the new girl at Radley High. When she’s adopted by the Mavericks back in Japan, she steps into a brand-new life. (Ummm, adopted and moves to Japan? Adopted while living in Japan? Where is she? Is the adoption part of the story? Don’t know if the query needs this as the story starts after they have moved…when was she adopted, as a baby? Do we need this in the query?) A life living as a human with two human parents. (OH! WHAT? She’s an alien?) A life taking her across the ocean to live in a new country. And strangest of all, a life where she is no longer looking over her shoulder, worrying who is hunting her. (ALIEN HUNTERS?!??!!?) But the transcendental Japanese fox’s (OH WAIT WHAT? Not an alien…THIS IS COOL! But I want to know sooner, cause I was confused.) elation is shattered when she learns she’s sitting in a dead girl’s chair.

*For me, the hook of this ms is the fact that she is a spirit fox hiding as a human. Consider starting with a one sentence hook…Amaya, a Japanese spirit fox, hides as a teen girl, but living a carefree existence proves impossible as a deadly foe from her past follows her halfway around the world. Maybe?

After that hook…new para and go into your mc…

Adopted and new to America, Sixteen-year-old Amaya doesn’t mind being the new girl because she can finally stop looking over her shoulder, worrying who is hunting her. Tell us what she wants…to live a normal life? To escape her past? To live as anything but who she is? Does she want to be a human? To be happy? Only…she lands in the center of drama…in a dead girl’s chair.

Students begin to gossip about the hit and run. Some claim the town’s beloved lacrosse team may have been involved. Amaya keeps her distance from the gossip. After all, she fled Japan to get away from death, to forget about her family’s murder. (THEY WERE MURDERED?!?!?! BY WHO WHAT HAPPENED? Do we need to know this in the query?) But then she befriends Sam Warren, brooding loner with a sexy tattoo, and the only human resistant to her mind-altering powers. (SHE HAS MIND-ALTERING POWERS? Love that, but how do these powers impact the story, her life? AND HOW CAN HE RESIST THEM? What does that mean to the story?) When the dead girl’s best friend starts to point fingers at Sam’s brother being the driver, Amaya and Sam set out to find the truth. (Because she cares about Sam and he loves his brother? What’s driving her to do this?)

Amaya’s forced to confront her past when members of the lacrosse team are killed by a demonic wolf (YOU HAVE ME AT DEMONIC WOLF! Why is he killing the lacrosse team? Why isn’t he going after Amaya? Wouldn’t he go after her? Is she afraid he is after her? Is she doing things to protect herself?)—the same wolf who killed her family after she brought shame to the God of Lightning. (Ah! This is how the family died…) As the clues pile up and the wolf closes in, Sam and Amaya are drawn closer together. (As friends? Romance?) Amaya longs to tell Sam she’s a fox spirit, but in her experience, humans only see her as a demon. (Okay…her big decision…reveal herself or not. What is the big moment that she has to decide?) And she’s not ready to lose him. But revealing her true self might be the only way to stop the wolf from killing the first boy she’s ever loved. (Is he part of the lacrosse team? Is the wolf just going after the team still? Why is the wolf after Sam?)

*I feel like there is a lot in this query. Focus on the main story. The main conflict. Stick to the main story. Is it fighting the wolf? Is it solving the crime? What drives her through the story? As a spirit…has she been around forever…is she 16? Set up Amaya…you give us age and who she is. I was confused as to where she was. Give us what drives her. What does she want? Then she is pulled into solving a crime AND there’s a demon wolf (I love demons btw) How do those two things connect? What is driving her to get involved? What about the wolf? What is the big decision moment? You have stakes, but I am confused as to why Sam is in trouble. Why isn’t she in danger?

 

First 250 Words:

The tumultuous, smoky grey clouds hiding the pale morning sun perfectly reflect my dark mood. (Nothing wrong with this opener, I am wondering immediately why they are in a bad mood…though it was a bit wordy to read, tumultuous and smoky and grey…are the clouds really tumultuous? Or are they ominous? Can clouds be tumultuous?…a suggestion…The heavy, grey clouds hide the pale morning sun, a perfect reflection of my dark mood.) It’s bad enough starting a new school in December, but walking there on the coldest day of the year because mom’s mini-van wouldn’t start…not fun. I shove my hands deeper into my pockets. (Of…a bit of description here can give us insight as to who this is…old, worn coat? Puffy pink coat with fur?) If I could change into my fox form (Oh! Intriguing! Maybe a bit more about this…), I’d be warm and farther along in my trek. But I can’t risk any humans finding out what I am. (Is there anyone around? Can the mc look around…knowing that if anyone saw them change, they would freak out? How have people have reacted before? Connect what is happening in mc’s head to environment, seat us in a place. Houses around? A street? How far is school?) An oncoming gust causes loose snow from the ground to become tiny missiles, and I squint to retain any vision. (You can make this sentence stronger…gust launches loose snow like tiny missiles…)

I’d been looking forward to starting my first American high school, even if it would be as a junior, since we moved to Minnesota five days ago. The anticipation tingled through me like electrical sparks, gathering in my toes (Nice!) and making me too anxious to sleep most of the night. And this morning, it built to the point I became nauseous from all the butterflies swarming in my stomach. (Nice! I can feel this!) (The first sentence in this para doesn’t do much for me…too much info just told to me…who is “we”, where did they move from? I like the last part…how this anticipation and excitement is being thwarted by the weather…by Minnesota. First day of a new school…as a junior…where is she from? What is her former school experience? Is this going to be different? Any little details can pull us in more.)

Afton is a new start. A fresh start. There’s no longer a need to run. Or look over my shoulder. No need to watch my every step and sniff the wind for signs of danger. Fear no longer dictated my actions. (Love this! Great)

I could finally be happy. (Nice)

Except instead of today being a triumphant new start, I’m slipping on the frozen sidewalk, my arms flailing about like a spastic ballerina as I attempt to avoid biting it in front of suburban commuters on their way to work. (LOL! Great visual!)

*Good start! First day of school. New home. New start…and she can change into a fox and she’s been running from danger…INTERESTING! I wonder about her background. I wonder about what she was running from. All things that would keep me reading.

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! See you around on Twitter! #SonofaPitch is a fun place. #TeamRarity rocks!

 

 

#SonofaPitch…Something Awesome this Way Comes

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This week, round one of Son of a Pitch, writers are helping each other by giving thoughts and a bit of love to their fellow wordsmiths in preparation for round two!

But today I want to prepare everyone for what will take place here, on my blog next week. It shall be epic. Round two. *cleans blog until it’s shiny shiny*

On Friday those interested in feedback for their queries and first page of their ms will submit their entries, all info is on Katie’s blog. On Monday, the first 50 lucky people to enter will have their words posted on one of five blogs and will get feedback from those of us honored souls who get to read and share our thoughts.

The theme is My Little Pony. Now as previous #TeamMaleficent and #TeamDarkSide…this is a little different for me, but who doesn’t love My Little Ponies. I had some as a kid.

I still have some. SOOOO…

Announcing #TeamRarity! You wanna join my team. You do.

 

She’s a little bit of a drama queen and all about fashion, so not really like me at all, but a super funny unicorn.

(Yeah, Rarity…but a little fighting is good. Like demons and stuff.)

Gorgeous white with a purple mane and tail, this is the perfect unicorn kid-me dreamed of meeting.

Still dream of meeting.

Next week…ten posts will go up, each one celebrating an entry and having my critique. Please DO NOT comment unless you are one of the participating Son of a Pitch critiquers or the author. I will do my best to monitor…I’ll be watching. So play nice, kids.

Disclaimer…I do not know everything. I will never know everything. My comments are my opinions only and can be disregarded. If it doesn’t work for the manuscript, don’t worry about it.

I will be honest.

I will give reactions, some of which might seem a bit odd, but just go with it. Kathy’s brain does silly things sometimes. But I do believe that getting initial reactions from readers is important, so we know how our words are/can be interpreted.

I love love love to comment. Everything and anything that pops into my head usually gets written down. It makes for great fun. Trust me.

If you want to rewrite and repost any revisions in the comments of your entry…DO IT! I will get to those too.

I will read through all of the entries.

At the end of the week, I will vote for my favorites. The voting will be done in the comments, so everyone will know. Voting is subjective. NEVER FORGET THIS. My brain will be drawn to what it is drawn to and has nothing to do with the words being “good” or not. I will have to pass over many fabulous things and choose.

 

I bit about me.

I love…

Horror. Love creepy! Love dark! Love weird! The right word choices can set a great tone and mood.

 

Fantasy. World building. World building. World building. Give me all the worlds!

 

Magical realism. Bring the incredible to reality. Oh yeah.

 

YA. Teenagers are my favorite.

 

 

Please find me on Twitter! If you are on #TeamRarity or not. Follow all the crazy fun on #SonofaPitch and #TeamRarity. I love to make new writer friends!

There it is. Son of a Pitch is so close now! I am taking the next few days to get my life in order and mentally prepare for the reading, for the insanity, for the FUN! See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

#SonofaPitch Begins

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One year ago, I joined the wonderful event called Son of a Pitch, created by the wonderful Katie Hamstead. You can find her on Twitter here…and follow #SonofaPitch there too!

What. A. Fabulous. Time.

So I did it again last February…

And I am back! Go here to read about this month’s spectacular schedule, the post about the blog hosts and critiquers, and the post announcing the publishers participating in the final round. I am preparing for SO MUCH reading and critiquing queries and first pages.

Let’s celebrate writers helping writers. Today is the first week of Son of a Pitch! You can read Katie’s post here. Not mandatory at all to participate in next week’s round, where the critiquers read and then vote for their favorites, this week lets those who want to enter read and critique each other’s entries.

Writers are the best when it comes to helping. We all know what it’s like to struggle with words, to stare at blank screens, to read and re-read words that end up sounding like a whole lotta non-sense. We’ve all live in the land of the unknown, the darkness of the query trenches, the limbo of publishing. Seriously, are we nuts, insane, completely bonkers?

Yes. Yes, we are. And it’s the best.

Every person who enters, but be fast, because she takes the first 50, gets feedback from more than one person. Feedback on your query and first page. Want to take the critiques and rewrite, then get more feedback? Yup. We do that too.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the connections I have made doing this. I LOVE LOVE LOVE celebrating when great things happen to those I met during the weeks of word madness.

Next week will leave me tired and slightly dizzy (last time, I learned to keep good notes about all the entries), but very happy. I will stalk the entrants on Twitter. I will be pretty active on #SonofaPitch, so say hi!

If you want a bit of feedback, if you want to make some new friends, join Son of a Pitch! Enter your words. It’s so much fun! This week, reach out to your fellow entrants and read fabulous words…leave comments…HAVE FUN!

For the fun will continue next week. I am a blog host…again. So later this week I will post about that. My team name…what will happen on my blog…what words I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read, my strengths and weaknesses, and maybe you can join my team!

A great big, huge THANK YOU to Katie for setting this up and asking me to be involved. It is my pleasure and honor.

Scared of the Suckage

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I’ve started writing a new book!

I am so excited to tell Ember’s story of how she finds Nowhere. I love this whole idea! I love the characters. I love the setting. I love the tone. Adventure. Creepiness. So many emotions.

I know where the story is heading. I know the overall theme. So much is all figured out and the stuff that isn’t, well, it will show itself when it’s ready.

So, this…

Right?

Not exactly. More…

Yeah.

BUT WHY?!?!?!?!! Kathy…why?

I’ve been staring at the screen. And yes, blank pages that wait to be filled is frightening. I hate first drafts. But I know what the next scene is…I can see it played out in my head. Yes, translating the movie in my mind to words can be tricky, but not stare at the screen forever tricky.

So what is keeping the words from pouring from my fingertips?

Well, fear.

Fear that I won’t be able to link all the characters, the stories, the feelings. Fear that I won’t be able to tell this glorious idea that has been growing in my head in the right way, the best way…

That I will mess up what I think is a fantastic idea.

That I won’t be able to infuse the tale with the right amount of creepy and humor. That  I won’t be able to pull off the voice I want (because this is middle grade and VOICE IS EVERYTHING!). That I can’t tug this thing free from my mind and slam it on the page and make it real.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here. I’m scared it will suck.

So I admit it. I embrace it. I am scared.

What do we, as writers, do about that?

We take a breath, relax, and write anyway.

I’ll say it again.

Take a breath.

Relax.

Write. 

Have fun. Create. Don’t let these terrible expectations take away the reason we write, don’t let it steal the joy.

Because fear isn’t going to keep me from telling Ember’s tale. I’m going to pour all the words I can get into my first draft. I’m going to add all I can, get the story out. After I have a draft, I’ll worry about fixing it. I’ll sculpt the pile of words into what it wants to be.

Fear isn’t stronger than me.

 

Kathy Reads Women’s Fiction: A Tale of Leaving the Zone of Comfort

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So, if you know me, you know what I like. Creepy. Magical. Scary. Fantastical. Weird.

I read fantasy, dark fantasy, magical realism, and horror. I read YA and MG.

Kissing isn’t my favorite, but boy do I like demons and magical worlds waiting to swallow you whole.

But sometimes…sometimes, it’s good to step out of your comfort zone. As scary as that sounds.

I just finished reading The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock. She’s on Twitter, go find her.

I’ve been following Summer for a long time on Twitter and FB and have met her at Midwest Writers Workshop…so, when her debut book released, I was intrigued. When I saw it, sitting there to buy at Midwest Writers last month, I bought it. When I asked her to sign it, her face lit up like Christmas…seriously if you ever get to go up to an author and ask them to sign their book, DO IT!

Anyway. I knew this book was VERY different than what I normally read. VERY DIFFERENT kinda doesn’t even cover it. But, I gave it a shot.

I struggled in the beginning. I doubted that I would finish it, the character voice was good, there was plenty of conflict, but I was unsure. There were other books calling to me. So I told myself to get to the halfway mark and see. And somewhere in the middle of a story about fixing broken vaginas and baking cupcakes, I began to care. I finished it yesterday with a smile on my face. Well-written. Great characters that I could relate to. There was kissing and a love story. Oh my. But I bought that love story, it felt real. There were great friendships, people I wanted to be friends with. But more than that. An emotional journey was hidden beneath the folds of snark. Emotions I understood.

In the end, I enjoyed the book.

So, just goes to show you that climbing out of your happy rut can be a good thing. The world is bigger than my rut. I did know that. I do know that. As hard as it is to stride into the land of different, it’s necessary to do. To remind ourselves that we are more than likes and dislikes, that we are more than this one color we wear. We are complex beings, who need to feed all the parts of ourselves.

Try something different. All that can happen is it doesn’t work…or maybe it will.

I mean, sure, I pulled out a YA horror book to read after, but…yeah.

Pantsers and Series: Take Two

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So, I have a blog!

I nearly forgot.

I had a great summer. We went to Glacier National Park and hiked some great trails! We went with the Spirit of Woodlan (the Woodlan Jr/Sr HS marching band) to Washington DC to see them march in the Fourth of July parade! I attended Midwest Writers Workshop! I hung out with my kids! I did some writing, short stories are fun!

But now it’s back to a bit of routine. The kids are in school…freshman and sophomore this year. A new marching band season has begun.

And…I have started writing a new series.

A series, Kathy? You thought I had learned my lesson, right?

Well, I did. Kinda. My last series, the one that got completely out of control, the one I had to tame…yeah…it was interesting and that was the path it had to take. This series The Nowhere Books is different. For one, I know it’s a series. I am planning it as a series. DOORS…was written as a standalone years before the idea of more entered my mind.

I had the idea for Nowhere years and years ago, but it remained an idea only until the beginning of this year, when it became more.

The Nowhere series will be four books, middle grade (meaning for ages 8-12, I will focus more on upper middle grade) and horror. Yes! Horror! I want it creepy. But full of hope!

The series revolves around a class of sixth graders. So the main characters in each book will be in that class. So as we go through book one, the main characters for books two and three will be there. Book four will bring those three main characters together for the final battle. Yes, we must fight the evil.

I know the main characters for each book. I know the themes for each book. I know the basic story lines for each book. I know the big overall story through the series.

HOLY MOLY! Did I plot? Did I leave my pantser ways behind? Not really. No. Pretty sure I can’t just stop being me. So many things I don’t know. And I won’t until I write them. That’s how I work. I like it! I know enough to link things together. I know enough to be able to plant seeds for the next book and the next book and the next book. Hopefully that will (mostly) save me from what happened last time.

Hopefully.

And can we talk about middle grade?

I am so excited! Words. Chapter titles. The voice for MG is SUPER important. Adventure, but with good meaty emotion. I want to tackle some important issues. I want to portray a world of acceptance, of diversity (oh my, I used THE word). Yes. I know. A word of Twitter threads and preaching and yelling and rules. But to paint a picture of the world as it looks is very important to me. I will do my best.

Here’s to a great day. To me getting into blogging again, cause I did miss it. To all of us out there doing our best.

 

 

Pantsers and Series: A Tale of Writing

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Yesterday I finished revisions on Doors, the first in a three book series.

I have posted before about how after writing books two and three, book one was, well, a mess.

Truth, Doors was written as a stand alone. When I began drafting book two, then book three, some stories hadn’t been told. Some worlds hadn’t been built. There were secrets. SO MANY SECRETS!

Until I finished the first draft of book three, when all the information had unfolded.

I don’t plot. I don’t plan. When I have tried, I have failed. It just doesn’t work for me. So to write a series, I have to write the series, let it evolve, learn as I go. Then fix everything.

My Bryn is a powerhouse. A survivor. I didn’t even know what she could do until book three.

Somewhere in book two the Dorn announced themselves as a non binary race, pronouns they/their. Their world, their purpose for being was also revealed as I wrote book two, and, holy moly, are they important!

The Gether world has a history, one I didn’t know until book two when I returned. A war. An outsider. A jewel. Hints at all of this had to be added, a few key characters had to be brought in book one.

The Darkness. He appeared in book two. He snuck in and took control and made book two a bit dark and AWESOME! But he wasn’t what I thought. Only while drafting book three did I really hear him.

The Doorman. I love him, but he surprised me. That’s all I’m saying.

Languages. I made up so many worlds, I stopped keeping track. Every world has their own rituals, their own way of speaking. As I went through book one, I learned how I messed them up. Suddenly the nots were speaking like the Neathers, what a mess. I think I straightened it out. Maybe.

The ending. When I started book two, I had an idea of where Bryn’s character arc was headed. I was wrong. Slowly she let me know what she wanted, she let me know she wasn’t going to choose what I thought she would. And we all know fighting characters is insane.

Book one is about believing.

Book two is about doubt.

Book three is about choices.

I am so happy with how this series went. My mess of notes and strange brain made it a frustrating journey, but the whole thing will come together. I got this.

There is no way I could have known all the secrets. Even if I had sat and planned the trilogy, I would have been wrong in the end. Writing is a process for me. I have to learn with the characters, grow with the story. Let all the creativity flow. This is how I work best. I will never fight it. I will never question it.

I was afraid when I began revisions for book one. I have a habit of overthinking. I worried that I would panic. What if I mess it all up? What if my editor takes one look at the revisions and laughs at me? Seriously.

Then I let it all go, gathered my thoughts and dove in.

I had a great time! I am so happy with it. In a couple weeks, I will hand it off and wait for fresh eyes to show me all the possibilities, all the places to make it better. EDITING TEAMWORK BABY. I am super excited for the next step in the publishing journey!

I’ve done the best I can. This is enough.

Tomorrow we leave for vacation. A week of camping in Glacier National Park in Montana. I will leave Bryn and all her doors at home. I will let my brain digest everything in peace, to make sure nothing else pops into my head.

So now I shall go clean and pack and panic at leaving. I will go run around and hopefully get things done. Hey, I blogged. Point to me.

To Fit or Not to Fit…In

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This week is going to be a bit crazy, with preparing for vacation…cleaning and packing and gathering all the camping things…band practices, a softball game, dentist visit, writers group, and revisions, I was perfectly happy ignoring my blog. Then I read Cassandra Chandler’s blog today and it stirred a memory in my head. Go read her post 11 Years on an Alien Planet. It’s short…I’ll wait.

I was different than the other kids. Though I never really knew it. I tried so hard to to be like everyone else, to fit in, that I never truly appreciated me. My own uniqueness was lost to my need to be like others, to the voice in my head screaming that I should be like them.

I still fight this.

Though now that I’m in my forties, I really don’t care as much.

As a kid I read a lot of fantasy. I watched a lot of fantasy. I wanted to live in a fantasy. However, in all those fantasies, the warriors were men. Well, I had a character in my head…another me, if you will. Her name was Tyra and she was strong. She was independent. She was a woman of few words. She was a warrior. The story of how she found and gained her sword…a special sword…was a tale of adventure and danger.

I lived in my head so much, I thought I had been born on the wrong planet. Unlike Cassandra, who thought she was an alien, I thought a portal would open up and take me home…the difference between a sci-fi geek and a fantasy nerd, I suppose. Not that different really.

That portal never came…except it did. Kind of. I am a writer. All the worlds in my head live on the page, in the imagination. Maybe I wasn’t born on the wrong planet, but on the exact right one, the one that needed me to share what’s in my brain.

Embrace your weird. Embrace what makes you unique. Never think you don’t belong, because maybe you’re in just the right place.