The Season of Lent

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Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I was raised Catholic, so this time of year was always a big deal. As Catholics have many rules, the season of Lent seems to have more. Lent is a time of self-sacrifice, to look inward. To fast. To pray. All to get ready for the miracle of Easter.

The church is pretty good at telling us how to live. Pretty good at throwing the word sin around. Pretty good at reminding us how our eternal reward is waiting…if we do what we’re supposed to do. Pretty good at judging those who don’t live according to their teachings. I’ve learned that the church can be pretty closed-minded. And yet preach peace on Earth.

Well, I believe that no one group of people get to tell the world what is the “right” way to live. I believe that peace comes from acceptance.

As a goodie-two-shoes ruler follower and as a kid, so for years I did what was expected. Yet as I got older, I began to question. Why am I doing this? Why am I following these rules? What exactly does it mean to me? If I am doing these things only because the church tells me to…what am I gaining? How is this bettering me, how is this bringing me closer to God, to my faith?

That’s what all this should do. Grow our faith. In whatever it is we believe.

What we choose to do should make us stronger.

However, when I didn’t follow the rules, I felt a lot of guilt. So Lent became this terrible season where I either did what I was told and ended up with a head full of questions or played the rebel and ended up with a heart full of guilt.

As Lent approached this year, I wanted it to be different. I’m tired of feeling guilty. There’s no reason to live up to other’s expectations. Only my own. God did give me my own mind for a reason…I should use it.

Easter is a time of hope, of renewal. So I am focused on that.

I will use these 40 days to grow my faith in me, to make myself the best version of me I can be. Even though I won’t be following the church’s rules, by listening to my heart I think God (or whoever is up there) will be proud of me.

My energy will be directed to creating better, healthier habits. And not eating right and exercising, but mental health. By carving time for all the things that will help me be a stronger person, I will push away all the things that hold me down.

By the time Easter arrives with all its glory, I will be on my way to the best me I can be.

One set of rules for everyone doesn’t work. We’re all different. Whether you celebrate Easter and Lent or not. Take time to grow your faith, to believe in yourself, to allow yourself to be the person you were meant to be. Drive out the darkness and open yourself to the light.

That’s what Lent is to me. That’s what Easter is to me. I’m finally ready to allow myself to live it.

 

#Magicday…Breaks

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I’m not talking broken dishes…or bones here. But time for yourself.

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After last weeks crazy Son of a Pitch schedule, I took time off from words, form thinking about them, from writing them…everything. I kinda zoned on the TV and watched the shows I love…I was a bit behind.

I am good at taking breaks. I am good at doing nothing. I excel at relaxing.

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But not everyone does.

My husband works two jobs, Monday through Friday he is gone at 7am and gets home around midnight. He finally got a job where he has weekends off! Yea! Except he takes the weekends to do all the things! We have a big old house that we have been remodeling for 15 years, and though most of the huge projects are done, there are still little things here and there…moulding mostly. He’s building a magnificent wall shelving unit for our bedroom! It’s fabulous. So he’s always doing something. Last weekend he couldn’t seem to focus on anything so he ended up sitting in front of the TV, napping, and playing video games.

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He kept looking at me and saying, “It’s just a lazy weekend.”

And I would smile and say, “YEA!”

Except, he wasn’t saying it because he was happy about it. He started referring to himself as a lazy bum. He felt bad for not finishing one project or the other.

Me: What do you HAVE to get done?

Hubs: Well, the moulding in the upstairs bathroom…

Me: And if it doesn’t get done today?

Hubs: Then it will never get done!

Me: Just because you don’t do it today doesn’t mean it will never get done. It’s okay to sit.

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Look at me being the voice of reason! Or perhaps the voice of laziness? Whichever…it’s all good.

Last night, he turned to me and said, “Well, I truly did nothing all weekend.”

I straightened my shoulders in pride and replied, “You work so hard for us…for all that we have. You should sit sometimes and enjoy the life you have built. Sitting in the house without running around working on it. Playing video games with your son instead of watching him play as you pass. Laughing with all of us instead of being too busy.”

Living doesn’t mean working, well not all the time.

Pretty sure when I’m facing whatever comes after this life, I won’t be wishing I had cleaned more, worked more, or made more money. Sometimes living is about being in the moment, really seeing what you have and enjoying it. We all get back to work. We all have a purpose, meaning things to do…bills to pay…ways to leave our mark on the world. But what is it worth if we never sit and take all the magic in?

You might miss something fantastical…

 

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#SonofaPitch…Thoughts and My Votes

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As the second round of Son of a Pitch wraps up, I sit here smiling…tired and my mind a bit frazzled, but very happy.

I read 51 entries, which included a query and the first 250 words of the manuscript. I hosted eleven of them on this little blog! It was an honor. I read some once, others…after revisions were posted…twice, and some more than that. I gave all my opinions. I squeed at some of the words. I smiled at others. I gasped. I laughed. I sighed. From horror, to fantasy, to sci-fi, to romance, to women’s fiction, to literary…YA, NA, and adult…everyone brought something different to this event. Everyone came to learn. Everyone united to help.

Son of a Pitch is my favorite writing competition. Everyone gets feedback. Everyone participates. Everyone is involved. #sonofapitch has been my favorite hangout these last few days.

I am so proud of how hard the critiquers worked! I am so proud of how hard the participants worked to listen, to absorb, and then took the comments and revised! Seriously, some of these queries went from confusing or vague to clear, concise, and unforgettable. How many first 250 passages went from pretty good to HOLY WOW GIVE ME MORE PAGES NOW!

Today is the day we, the critiquer/judges vote. I will post my vote in the comments of my chosen five. Yes, five. And I get to pick two alternates, which will remain secret for tie breaking purposes. I am going to post my winners and links to them here. In a second…

For as I write this I still haven’t quite decided. This isn’t a whose query is better, who used the best words kinda thing. There’s no formula. This is all subjective. And I, being me, am drawn to certain things. The weird. The magical. The creepy. So even though plenty of words were pretty darn shiny, though so many queries made me want to read the manuscript, I will choose what I am drawn to. Everyone will. That’s how art works, an untamable beast.

Okay…I might have figured this out. Let’s not be shocked that my chosen are YA in the horror, suspense, and fantasy genres.

In no specific order…

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From #TeamDarkSide…

ASHES, ASHES… Go read it here.

I chose this one, because I COULD NOT STOP THINKING OF IT. The premise just stuck in my head. The first 250 had me…AH, PEOPLE, THE WORDS. The revised query…really good! Chills. Baby. Chills.

 

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From #TeamDarkSide…

LUCID… Go read it here.

Yes, another one from my team…I might be prejudice, so shoot me. But again, the premise! The query might still need help, but it’ll get done. The first 250 had me. I was so sad when I came to the end. The character Marlowe is super intriguing. She could be one of my favorite evil characters!

 

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From #TeamRebels…

THE BOOKSHOP… Go read it here.

Dude. I am a sucker for a unique fantasy. And if you know me and what I have written, a sucker for ways into other universes. Again, the concept made me bounce in my little chair…or large sofa. The first 250 was intriguing and mysterious. I want the whole story.

 

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From #TeamDarkSide…

NEFFERS… Go read it here.

Really, Kathy. ANOTHER from your blog? YESSIREE! I like horror. The idea of these Neffers, made my creepy, dark soul shiver. After the first line of the query…I WAS READY TO GO! The query has evolved, and is much clearer. The first 250 had so much weird! How could I not love this.

 

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From #TeamRebels…

SILVER AND ICE… Go read it here.

The query was good when I read it, but the author has improved it. The idea of silvertongues…those who can control minds with their voices…YES PLEASE. The first 250 set up the mc, promised me a cool world and HELLO QUEEN WHO IS SO COLD ICE CRYSTALS FORM ON THE FLOOR. Dude.

I went back and forth on quite a few. Reread many queries and first words. But had to go with the ones that had left the biggest impression on me. Now we wait to see who makes it into round three and will get their chance in front of the publishers participating. *bites fingernails*

Just because the entry isn’t in my top five, doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I liked a lot of them. We have done a lot of work over the past few days. Everyone should feel proud. I am proud.

It has been an honor to be involved, thanks to Katie for inviting me! I hope all my new friends keep in touch and tell me how all the words are going.

That is the end of my crazy Son of a Pitch week…or few days…or whatever. I have no idea what day it is. I had a great time.

 

NEFFERS…#SonofaPitch: Entry 11 #TeamDarkSide

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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 11!

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Title: NEFFERS
Category and Genre: YA Horror
Word Count: 75,000
Query:

Fifteen-year-old Del will do anything to save her terminally ill younger sister, Addie, including amassing a pile of dead bodies in an abandoned Texas field.

When Del stumbles upon a mortally wounded man, he hints at the existence of a Fountain of Youth which possesses the power to heal anyone willing to pay its price of human sacrifice.

Del forces her family to trek into the dangerous Texas hill country seeking access into Eternum, home of the Fountain. If the injured man’s dying words hold truth, Del can resurrect her recently deceased father and save Addie.

The Fountain demands Del ceremoniously kills Addie. When she refuses its price, the townsfolk throw Del to the Neffers, beastly protectors of the Fountain. Del learns the Neffers are prisoners, not protectors, of the Fountain, and they begin evolving her into one of their own in return for her agreeing to help them escape.

With the arms-length help of Addie, Del devises an escape plan until she realizes Neffers survive by drinking the blood of sick children like Addie. Unfortunately, the men of Eternum, including her father, hold an even darker secret than the Neffers.

Del must decide between freeing the Neffers on the human world, so she can stop the men of Eternum and be reunited with Addie or lose the last remaining piece of her humanity and watch as the men of Eternum sacrifice children for their own benefit and her next meal.

 

First 250 Words:

The toe tag on the decapitated body read: IF FOUND, CALL (512)555-5813, so Del pulled out her iPhone.

“I’m not afraid of you,” Del said, circling the decaying corpse. She maintained a perimeter outside the buzzing flies and fluid soaked ground but breathed easier knowing it wouldn’t answer her. “I’ve seen other dead people, you know.”

Seen. Created. CollectedSame difference.

The bright Texas sun played spotlight for the headless body starring center stage. Nothing else in the barren field warranted a second glance. Del spied a turkey vulture gliding in a copycat pattern around the body. She reached down, snatched a piece of gray limestone from the dirt, and launched her projectile skyward at the hideous black bird.

“Get outta here, dumb bird! He’s mine!” Del’s temples bulged purple veins with each scream. The vulture settled into the lone oak tree populating the field and voiced its displeasure, but, for now, Del owned her prize uncontested. A prize needed, not wanted.

She sneered at the corpse. “He’d eat you if I let him, but you’re my entrance fee.” Del flipped her head toward the unstained wooden boards under the Live Oak. “And them.” Dead bodies were a one-way ticket to life in jail for most, not a bloody precursor to salvation.

Del chewed her last unbroken nail to a jagged nub before dialing. She figured most people would be afraid to call, but most people weren’t in her situation.

What if no one answered?

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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:

Fifteen-year-old Del will do anything to save her terminally ill younger sister, Addie, including amassing a pile of dead bodies in an abandoned Texas field. (OMG I’m in! Only what is the purpose of all the bodies?)

When Del stumbles upon a mortally wounded man, he hints at the existence of a Fountain of Youth which possesses the power to heal anyone willing to pay its price of human sacrifice. (Hints at? What exactly does he tell her? Because seems like she knows a lot.)

Del forces her family (Who is her family? Mom, Dad, other siblings? Why bring them?) to trek into the dangerous Texas hill country seeking access into Eternum, home of the Fountain. (Access into Eternum? Is this not on Earth? Is this in another plane?) If the injured man’s dying words hold truth, Del can resurrect her recently deceased father and save Addie. (It can heal and bring people back from the dead?)

The Fountain demands Del ceremoniously kills Addie. (That sucks! Kill the one you want to save!) When she refuses its price, the townsfolk (What townsfolk?) throw Del to the Neffers, beastly protectors of the Fountain. Del learns the Neffers are prisoners, not protectors, of the Fountain, and they begin evolving her into one of their own in return for her agreeing to help them escape. (The Neffers sound cool! Prisoners? Why? And why does she have to be one of them? How are they different from humans? Does she meet them on her search for the fountain? Do they keep people from finding it?)

With the arms-length help of Addie, Del devises an escape plan until she realizes Neffers survive by drinking the blood of sick children like Addie. Unfortunately, the men of Eternum, including her father, hold an even darker secret than the Neffers. (Her father is in Eternum? And she wants to free the Neffers…until she finds out they drink blood? The men’s darker secret is very vague…)

Del must decide between freeing the Neffers on the human world (On the human world? So she was somewhere else?), so she can stop the men of Eternum (from doing what? Let us know the stakes) and be reunited with Addie or lose the last remaining piece of her humanity and watch as the men of Eternum sacrifice children for their own benefit and her next meal. (You lost me at the end here. Okay, wait… The men of Eternum use the fountain to get sacrifices for their secret purpose and to feed the Neffers…who they keep prisoner? For what reason? Del can set the Neffers free (how?) and stop the men and keep Addie… or lose Addie to stop the men?)

There’s a lot in this query, I got a bit overwhelmed. Though, there is so much that intrigues me! This Eternum and Neffers! I want to go! Just need a bit of focus. You’re trying to tell us everything, cause it’s cool, why wouldn’t you want to tell us?

Del…she wants to save her sister, the pile of dead bodies is interesting, but I don’t know what it has to do with saving Addie. Del will do anything to save Addie, Del’s character motivation. When she hears of a Fountain of Youth, that can save her, she goes! Show me what Eternum is, where it is…maybe the obstacles she faces to get there. Then I want to moment where she must choose between saving her sister or not, when she has to possibly give up her dream to stop more evil. Focus on Del’s story.

 

First 250 Words:

The toe tag on the decapitated body read: IF FOUND, CALL (512)555-5813, so Del pulled out her iPhone. (Dude. Good first line.)

“I’m not afraid of you,” Del said, circling the decaying corpse. She maintained a perimeter outside the buzzing flies and fluid soaked ground but breathed easier knowing it wouldn’t answer her. “I’ve seen other dead people, you know.”

Seen. Created. CollectedSame difference. (Love!)

The bright Texas sun played spotlight for the headless body starring center stage. Nothing else in the barren field warranted a second glance. Del spied a turkey vulture gliding in a copycat pattern around the body. She reached down, snatched a piece of gray limestone from the dirt, and launched her projectile skyward at the hideous black bird.

“Get outta here, dumb bird! He’s mine!” Del’s temples bulged purple veins with each scream. The vulture settled into the lone oak tree populating the field and voiced its displeasure, but, for now, Del owned her prize uncontested. A prize needed, not wanted.

She sneered at the corpse. “He’d eat you if I let him, but you’re my entrance fee.” (Entrance fee to what? AH! Not that you should tell me here, cause you shouldn’t.) Del flipped her head toward the unstained wooden boards under the Live Oak. “And them.” Dead bodies were a one-way ticket to life in jail for most, not a bloody precursor to salvation.

Del chewed her last unbroken nail to a jagged nub before dialing. She figured most people would be afraid to call, but most people weren’t in her situation.

What if no one answered? (OMG WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?)
I love this. I love the tone, the mystery. I love the writing. There’s something sinister and weird happening and I’m ready to go. I’d keep reading. Oh yeah.

 

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!

 

THE SPIDER MAN…#SonofaPitch: Entry 10 #TeamDarkSide

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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 10!

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Title: The Spider Man

Category and Genre: (YA/Horror)
Word Count: (63,000)

Query:

In The Spider Man, honor student, track star, and reluctant medium Tressa Murphy knows that lonely ghosts are everywhere. She also knows that they can never, ever touch the living. Except that Jenner can. Jenner, the sexy wall-climbing ghost who has haunted her family for years has been visiting her at night and together he and Tressa have been breaking all the rules.

For Tressa, keeping her confusing secrets under control is becoming impossible as the malevolent spirit of Jenner’s abusive stepfather rises from the river to terrorize her, and Jenner’s whispered invitations to join him on the other side are sounding more and more tempting every night. Only when Tressa embarks on a road trip to face the truth about Jenner’s last days does she begin to understand her family’s history and the extraordinary possibilities of her own life, as well as the dangerous forces conspiring to end it. Only when she embraces her responsibilities to those who are living can she find happiness with Silas, the fellow artist who loves her, and break away from the dead boy who would destroy her.

 

First 250 Words:

Jenner wasn’t always a troubled ghost with tendencies toward madness. Once he was a boy who did what it took to save his sister. Please remember him first for the fact that he was good. He was very young but his heart was a hero’s heart and that part of him never died.

When they were sixteen Jenner’s twin sister Ellen had taken to wearing jeans and heavy boots to bed at night and blocking the door with her dresser. It was made of oak and a good shield against danger. Ellen felt safer with the door barred since their mother’s boyfriend Nolan moved back in.

Nolan was not good.

He sometimes left their mother for long stretches when no one would know where he was. Those were oasis times when Ellen and Jenner forgot that he existed the same way children who get over the stomach flu forget that they were ever sick. Lately Nolan was around all the time like a nausea that would never lift. He drank whiskey and swore at their mother. He leered at Ellen and when no one was looking found excuses to brush his body against hers.

Ellen and Jenner hated him.

Mom’s hand shook around her cigarettes as ash drooped off their ends. Jenner stayed out of the house as much as possible. To Jenner, Nolan was a source of quick, sharp kicks from steel-toed boots and the smell of engine oil.

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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:

In The Spider Man, honor student, track star, and reluctant medium Tressa Murphy knows that lonely ghosts are everywhere. (I’d cut the beginning of this sentence and add in her age… “Honor student, track star, and reluctant medium, (insert age) year old Tressa Murphy…” And I LIKE GHOSTS!) She also knows that they can never, ever touch the living. (Because if they do something terrible happens or because they physically cannot?) Except that Jenner can. Jenner, the sexy wall-climbing ghost who has haunted her family (So not just Tressa knows of him?) for years has been visiting her at night and together he and Tressa have been breaking all the rules. (what rules are they breaking and why…what drives her to break them?)

 

For Tressa, keeping her confusing secrets (what secrets? Why does she have to keep them under control?) under control is becoming impossible as the malevolent spirit of Jenner’s abusive stepfather rises from the river to terrorize her (why is he terrorizing her?), and Jenner’s whispered invitations to join him on the other side are sounding more and more tempting every night (OH NO TRESSA! What is driving her to consider death? Jenner’s dad or other things?). Only when Tressa embarks on a road trip to face the truth about Jenner’s last days (Wait, she’s going to find where Jenner lived and died? Why?) does she begin to understand her family’s history and the extraordinary possibilities of her own life (what possibilites? What family history?), as well as the dangerous forces conspiring to end it (What dangerous forces?). Only when she embraces her responsibilities to those who are living can she find happiness with Silas (who’s Silas? You can’t just throw him at me at the end here! AH!), the fellow artist who loves her, and break away from the dead boy who would destroy her.

I love ghosts! I love evil ghosts! I would read this. But the query is vague. Tell us what Tressa can do, her “powers” and why she does it. Tell us her secrets. Tell us her fears. Tell us what she is willing to do to get what she wants. Tell us the pivotal moment where she has to decide between life and death. Is it when she faces Jenner and his father? Give us Silas earlier, so we know she has something to fight for. Show us the life she could lose.

 

First 250 Words:

Jenner wasn’t always a troubled ghost with tendencies toward madness. (Love!) Once he was a boy who did what it took to save his sister. Please remember him first for the fact that he was good. (This sentence takes me out of the story…don’t know how I feel about it, like breaking the fourth wall) He was very young but his heart was a hero’s heart and that part of him never died.

When they were sixteen Jenner’s twin sister Ellen had taken to wearing jeans and heavy boots to bed at night and blocking the door with her dresser. (When is this? What year?) It was made of oak and a good shield against danger. Ellen felt safer with the door barred since their mother’s boyfriend Nolan moved back in. (Oh no.)

Nolan was not good.

He sometimes left their mother for long stretches when no one would know where he was. (you can tighten this sentence up. “He would disappear for long stretches.” Might be all you need.) Those were oasis times when Ellen and Jenner forgot that he existed the same way children who get over the stomach flu forget that they were ever sick. Lately Nolan was around all the time like a nausea that would never lift. (Nice!) He drank whiskey and swore at their mother. He leered at Ellen and when no one was looking found excuses to brush his body against hers.

Ellen and Jenner hated him.

Mom’s hand shook around her cigarettes as ash drooped off their ends. Jenner stayed out of the house as much as possible. To Jenner, Nolan was a source of quick, sharp kicks from steel-toed boots and the smell of engine oil. (Nice!)

This is probably a prologue? Because after reading about Tressa in the query I expected to be in her head…but this is interesting. I don’t mind prologues, if it is info we need and there is no other way to give it to us. Jenner’s story is heartbreaking for sure. When you introduce him as a ghost later, we’ll know all about him and Nolan. No mystery. If that’s what you want, go for it.

I wonder if the entire ms omniscient POV?

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!

 

 

TRADING STITCHES…#SonofaPitch: Entry 9 #TeamDarkSide

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

starwarsdarthcrush

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!

starwarsmaulpace

Onto entry 9!

Title: TRADING STITCHES
Category and Genre: YA Horror
Word Count: 81,600
Query:

With every near-death incident, the men in fifteen-year-old Marc Cheeks’ family are rewarded with increasing superhuman strength, but a darkness grows on their soul as well.

Alcoholism consumes his father. Insanity institutionalizes his uncle. Cancer stole his grandfather. Following a near-fatal stabbing, Marc fears what darkness awaits him.

After his dad commits suicide to escape a deep pit of depression, Marc enlists the help of friends and his crazy uncle Lester to decipher his father’s last words, “It doesn’t have to be a curse.” A cryptic family journal offers Marc his only lead: a person defined as a curse-ending soulmate. Uncle Lester has his own theories on a cure, but he’s not willing to share with Marc and defers to the written pages.

The journal teaches Marc methods to cheat death and grow stronger, but pieces of himself slip away into violence and apathy. He’s becoming the worst parts of his father and his uncle, and the collateral damage includes a body count. Forced to make a desperate plea to Lester, Marc discovers his uncle believes he can ultimately cure his own insanity by killing Marc.

To save himself and his friends, Marc must defeat an uncle more dangerous than crazy and find his soulmate before the family curse claims another victim.

 

First 250:

I slouched low in the dry cracked leather passenger’s seat seeking refuge from judgmental eyes.

“Did I really need to starch this shirt?” I yanked the collar’s fibers away from the spot on my neck rubbed raw.

“I don’t know, Marc.” Dad fluttered his whiskey chapped lips and leaned his shoulder into the driver’s door. “That’s a question for your mom.”

He only mentioned Mom when he didn’t want to answer a question.

Wasn’t there some rule people didn’t use a kid’s dead mother against them?

Dad didn’t get the memo.

I cringed as our Nissan’s balding tires skidded into the school’s gravel parking lot. The truck’s rickety fender clung by a single rusty screw, a painful daily reminder of the past four years. It begged to be fixed, but Dad ignored it.

He sought refuge in denial.

I rolled my eyes at the wave of students who parted twice as wide as necessary to safely let us drive past.

Idiots.

It used to be no one would accept a ride from us, but now they wouldn’t even get near the truck.

We jerked to a stop and Dad leaned back pinching the bridge of his crooked nose. “Do other dudes hear you talk like this? It’s gonna get you beat up.”

“How’s that different from any other day?” I picked at the exposed yellow padding brushing against my thigh.

“Guys pestering you?” His stare followed a cheerleader’s skirt.

“It’s called bullying.”

 starwarskylowalk

 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:

With every near-death incident, the men in fifteen-year-old Marc Cheeks’ family are rewarded with increasing superhuman strength, but a darkness grows on their soul as well. (With every of their own near-death experience or with those they cause or with the experiences in general? If it’s their own near-death experiences…how many times can one almost die? And they want superhuman strength…why?)

Alcoholism consumes his father. Insanity institutionalizes his uncle. Cancer stole his grandfather. Following a near-fatal stabbing, Marc fears what darkness awaits him. (Dude. That sucks. I LOVE IT!)

After his dad commits suicide to escape a deep pit of depression, Marc enlists the help of friends and his crazy uncle Lester to decipher his father’s last words, “It doesn’t have to be a curse.” (why do they always have to wait until they’re on their death bed to offer answers? So unhelpful) A cryptic family journal offers Marc his only lead: a person defined as a curse-ending soulmate. Uncle Lester has his own theories on a cure, but he’s not willing to share with Marc and defers to the written pages. (Marc defers to the pages or Lester?)

The journal teaches Marc methods to cheat death (Okay, it’s them cheating their own death? So is part of the curse being constantly almost killed?) and grow stronger, but pieces of himself slip away into violence and apathy. He’s becoming the worst parts of his father and his uncle, and the collateral damage includes a body count. (I don’t think you need the first part of this sentence and maybe combine… “violence and apathy, that leaves a body count.” Who has he killed? On purpose? Accidental?) Forced to make a desperate plea to Lester, Marc discovers his uncle believes he can ultimately cure his own insanity by killing Marc. (Oh snap.)

To save himself and his friends (why are they in danger?), Marc must defeat an uncle more dangerous than crazy and find his soulmate before the family curse claims another victim. (Is he slightly worried about this soulmate finding thing? I mean they’re not just waiting down the street with a sign.)

I have read this before! This is intriguing! I do wonder, why get stronger? Is the lure of strength overpowering the need to find a cure? What drives Marc to fall deeper into darkness for strength? What is it that finally makes him decide to find the cure? What is the pivotal moment where he has to decide? Does he face his uncle? What happens if he can’t find his soulmate? What happens if his uncle kills him?

 

First 250:

I slouched low in the dry cracked leather passenger’s seat seeking refuge from judgmental eyes.

“Did I really need to starch this shirt?” I yanked the collar’s fibers away from the spot on my neck rubbed raw.

“I don’t know, Marc.” Dad fluttered his whiskey chapped lips and leaned his shoulder into the driver’s door. “That’s a question for your mom.”

He only mentioned Mom when he didn’t want to answer a question.

Wasn’t there some rule people didn’t use a kid’s dead mother against them?

Dad didn’t get the memo.

I cringed as our Nissan’s balding tires skidded into the school’s gravel parking lot. The truck’s rickety fender clung by a single rusty screw, a painful daily reminder of the past four years. It begged to be fixed, but Dad ignored it.

He sought refuge in denial.

I rolled my eyes at the wave of students who parted twice as wide as necessary to safely let us drive past.

Idiots.

It used to be no one would accept a ride from us, but now they wouldn’t even get near the truck.

We jerked to a stop and Dad leaned back pinching the bridge of his crooked nose. “Do other dudes hear you talk like this? It’s gonna get you beat up.”

“How’s that different from any other day?” I picked at the exposed yellow padding brushing against my thigh.

“Guys pestering you?” His stare followed a cheerleader’s skirt.

“It’s called bullying.”

 I love the voice. I love the details. I love the emotion from Marc. And his dad is awesomely awful. I have a mc I am willing to follow. I would love a bit in here about his dad…if he’s changed…how he’s changed. And a bit of fear from Marc about how that could wait for him too. A hint of the horror to come. Great job! Think it’s been redone since I last read it.

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!

LUCID…#SonofaPitch: Entry 8 #TeamDarkSide

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, , , , ,

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

starwarsmaulhood

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 8!

starwarsani

Title: Lucid

Category and Genre: YA/Psychological Suspense

Word Count: 98,000

Query: 

The Diana Banesbury School for Exceptional Young Women is one of the last surviving members of its kind—a rigorous ivy and brick institution intended to propel its few lucky, wealthy students straight to the Ivy Leagues. So when popular, charismatic megalomaniac Marlowe Brady decides to stop sleeping, everyone notices. But when chronically depressed loner Gwyneth Rosewood decides to stop sleeping, eating, drinking, and living altogether, no one does. No one, except Marlowe, whose unwanted intervention lands them both in the school’s infirmary, where another student offers an unconventional solution to Marlowe’s insomnia: lucid dreaming, the ability to control one’s dreams.

Along with two students from the infirmary, the four form a club in the pursuit of lucid dreaming, and at Marlowe’s insistence, move into an abandoned classroom in the woods around the school where they can dream undisturbed. But as they learn more about their own identities and each other, Marlowe’s behavior becomes strange and restrictive, and Gwyn begins to suspect she has ulterior motives for bringing them together. As Gwyn leads the charge to uncover Marlowe’s motive and past, Marlowe works to maintain her control over the three of them by using gas lighting and manipulation to render them incapable of discerning reality from dream. To prevent the end she’s planned for them, the three girls must work together and find a way to wake themselves from her influence.

First 250: 

Marlowe Brady lay awake at three in the morning in the fourth bed in the first of two rows in the Goldfinch dormitory of The Diana Banesbury School for Exceptional Young Women. It was November ninth. She was wearing silk pajamas, and doing fairly well considering the circumstances. The circumstances were that she’d been awake since November sixth.

In the first fifty hours, nothing very interesting had happened. But during the fifty-sixth, a fly landed on the bulb of the green shaded lamp on her bedside table.

At first, Marlowe tried to watch it without turning her head, by shifting her eyes as far in its direction as they’d go. But this gave her a headache, so eventually she resigned to face it, pressing her cheek against the pillow, her dark hair falling over darker eyes.

People didn’t tend to believe that insects had free will, or made decisions, but Marlowe had never doubted. Sometimes she would mentally urge the fly to move in one direction or the other, and most of the time it wouldn’t. But on the rare occasion that it did, she became re-invigorated by the illusion that her will had been so strong that it’d been unable to resist, that it was the sheer force of her own thoughts that pushed it back onto the heat of the glass bulb when it wandered off. She indulged in the idea that this small living thing would burn itself alive if she wanted it.

Not that she did.

starwarssidiouscompletetraining

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: 

The Diana Banesbury School for Exceptional Young Women is one of the last surviving members of its kind—a rigorous ivy and brick institution intended to propel its few lucky, wealthy students straight to the Ivy Leagues. So (I’d delete the “So”.)  when popular, charismatic megalomaniac Marlowe Brady decides to stop sleeping, everyone notices. But when chronically depressed loner Gwyneth Rosewood decides to stop sleeping, eating, drinking, and living altogether, no one does. No one, except Marlowe, whose unwanted intervention lands them both in the school’s infirmary, (They end up in the infirmary…why? An unwanted intervention? That is a bit vague. Did Gwyn try to kill herself? Is everyone worried about Marlowe and that Gwyn tried to commit suicide?) where another student (Is this student important? Give her a name?) offers an unconventional solution to Marlowe’s insomnia (I thought she decided to stop sleeping. It’s insomnia?): lucid dreaming, the ability to control one’s dreams. (Why did she decide to stop sleeping? And now why would she want to start sleeping and control her dreams?)

Along with two students from the infirmary (who are they? Why are they joining?), the four form a club in the pursuit of lucid dreaming, and at Marlowe’s insistence, move into an abandoned classroom in the woods (There’s a room in the woods?) around the school where they can dream undisturbed. But as they learn more about their own identities and each other, Marlowe’s behavior becomes strange and restrictive, and Gwyn begins to suspect she has ulterior motives for bringing them together. (whose POV? If we’re with Marlowe. She doesn’t become strange and restrictive, she is driven to do what she needs to because of her desires. Is this ms multiple POV?) As Gwyn leads the charge to uncover Marlowe’s motive and past, Marlowe works to maintain her control over the three of them by using gas lighting and manipulation to render them incapable of discerning reality from dream. To prevent the end she’s planned for them (What end?), the three girls must work together and find a way to wake themselves from her influence. (And if they don’t escape her what will happen? What do they have to face to escape?)

I have POV questions…the beginning set up Marlowe, but the end was more Gwyn. If there are multiple POVs set up each character and what they want and what they will do to get it. The other girls in the club…are they important enough to name? Is this Marlowe vs Gwyn? What drives them to try lucid dreaming and what drives Marlowe to manipulate?

This ms sounds so cool! The premise is intriguing! Lucid dreaming. Manipulation. Sounds dark and awesome, like quite a ride! I would so read this.

 

First 250: 

Marlowe Brady lay awake at three in the morning in the fourth bed in the first of two rows in the Goldfinch dormitory of The Diana Banesbury School for Exceptional Young Women. (anyone else there? Sounds? Smells?) It was November ninth. She was wearing silk pajamas, and doing fairly well considering the circumstances. The circumstances were that she’d been awake since November sixth. (I’d combine those last two sentences, just hit us with “fairly well, considering she’d been awake since November sixth. BAM! And that’s crazy.)

In the first fifty hours, nothing very interesting had happened. (What is driving her to stay awake? Let us know her character by telling us if this is voluntary about what she intends to achieve.) But during the fifty-sixth, a fly landed on the bulb of the green shaded lamp on her bedside table.

At first, Marlowe tried to watch it without turning her head, by shifting her eyes as far in its direction as they’d go. But this gave her a headache, so eventually she resigned to face it, pressing her cheek against the pillow, her dark hair falling over darker eyes.

People didn’t tend to believe that insects had free will, or made decisions, but Marlowe had never doubted. Sometimes she would mentally urge the fly to move in one direction or the other, and most of the time it wouldn’t. But on the rare occasion that it did, she became re-invigorated by the illusion that her will had been so strong that it’d been unable to resist, that it was the sheer force of her own thoughts that pushed it back onto the heat of the glass bulb when it wandered off. She indulged in the idea that this small living thing would burn itself alive if she wanted it.

Not that she did. (Oh…but maybe she did.)

Dude. A great start! I am very interested. I love being in Marlowe’s head and learning how she likes to manipulate. This is definitely not going to lead anywhere good! I like the writing and tone.

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!

 

THE INSURRECTION…#SonofaPitch: Entry 7 #TeamDarkSide

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

starwarssidiousdestiny

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 7!

starwarskylo-ren-gif

Title: The Insurrection

Category and Genre: Adult Thriller

Word Count: 105,000

Query:

Lilah and Harry are looking forward to college in a few months, but abduction by mercenaries and a harrowing escape across North Africa change their plans.

Ten years later, using smooth charm and cold calculation, Harry builds a new cartel to destroy the oil driller who had ordered the kidnapping. Helping Harry is Temple, the man who rescued them. Three powerful families, all with agendas of their own, join the alliance. Lilah will be the puppet leader through whom they control the world’s energy supply.

But, Lilah is no one’s puppet. As oil cartel boss, she knows how to wield power and make enemies toe the line. She will annihilate Temple, now the president of United States, to maintain control of her business empire and save Harry’s life.

First 250 words:

January 1974

Egypt-Libya border

The blades of the search-and-rescue helicopter cut through humid, salty air one thousand feet above the Mediterranean. The steep escarpment came into Temple’s view, sparse vegetation between ridges. His headset sputtered over the roar of the engines.

“Senator,” said the pilot, “I think that’s Lilah.”

Gripping the door-frame, Temple leaned into the wind and surveyed the scene below. Vehicles bound for Alexandria were stalled on the hilly pass by Gaddafi’s border patrol. The soldiers had separated the men from the women, holding them at gunpoint away from the caravan. Temple strained to spot the girl. “Where?” he shouted into the mouthpiece, blinking away the gritty sand in his eyes.

“Not with the crowd, sir. Check the port side,” the pilot said. “She’s wearing something yellow.”

There. Temple saw her. A figure running between boulders, her robes fluttering behind. Lilah was at least a couple of hundred feet from the group under inspection, concealing herself behind the limestone formations. She looked up at the chopper for a second before plastering herself to the side of a rock. After weeks of reconnaissance, they’d finally located one of the abducted teenagers. “She’s hiding from the border patrol,” Temple muttered. “What about the boy? There were two kids.”

“Probably with the caravan. Let me—” The pilot stopped, cursing. “We have a problem, Senator. Look.”

One of the soldiers had detached himself from his team and was following Lilah. If she got caught, there was little a single search-and-rescue chopper could do to help.

 starwarsdarthrulegalaxy

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:

Lilah and Harry are looking forward to college in a few months, but abduction by mercenaries and a harrowing escape across North Africa change their plans. (Does the ms start here? Or in ten years? If the story starts in ten years, this opening is backstory. You can weave it into the query, as motivation. Start us off with the story we will be reading.)

Ten years later, using smooth charm and cold calculation, (how about working in the first para here? Ten years after being abducted and escaping across North Africa,) Harry builds a new cartel to destroy the oil driller who had ordered the kidnapping (How did he learn who it was?). Helping Harry is Temple, the man who rescued them (And Temple is also a friend? A business man…why is this guy helping?). Three powerful families (Three families? Other than Harry and Temple?), all with agendas of their own (agendas for…revenge? And against whom?), join the alliance (What alliance?). Lilah will be the puppet leader through whom they control the world’s energy supply. (Throwing Lilah in here, threw me off. Is this a dual POV ms? If so, intro Lilah separately, give us who she is and what she wants, then link the two together?)

But, Lilah is no one’s puppet. As oil cartel boss, she knows how to wield power and make enemies toe the line. She will annihilate Temple, now the president of United States (whoa, when did that happen? What was he before?), to maintain control of her business empire and save Harry’s life.

Harry wants revenge for having been kidnapped. What does he have to do to get it? What is in his way?

Lilah just wants to keep her business?

Why is Harry’s life in danger? From whom?

Are Harry and Lilah still friends? Are they working together?

What is the final decision each has to make? What are the possible consequences of their choices? Do they find the man who kidnapped them? Why did he kidnap them? Is Lilah after revenge too? And what about Temple? His POV begins it…what does he want?

 

First 250 words:

January 1974

Egypt-Libya border

The blades of the search-and-rescue helicopter cut through humid, salty air one thousand feet above the Mediterranean. The steep escarpment came into Temple’s view, sparse vegetation between ridges. His headset sputtered over the roar of the engines.

“Senator,” said the pilot, “I think that’s Lilah.”

Gripping the door-frame, Temple leaned into the wind and surveyed the scene below. Vehicles bound for Alexandria were stalled on the hilly pass by Gaddafi’s border patrol. The soldiers had separated the men from the women, holding them at gunpoint away from the caravan. Temple strained to spot the girl. “Where?” he shouted into the mouthpiece, blinking away the gritty sand in his eyes.

“Not with the crowd, sir. Check the port side,” the pilot said. “She’s wearing something yellow.”

There. Temple saw her. A figure running between boulders, her robes fluttering behind. Lilah was at least a couple of hundred feet from the group under inspection, concealing herself behind the limestone formations. She looked up at the chopper for a second before plastering herself to the side of a rock. After weeks of reconnaissance, they’d finally located one of the abducted teenagers. (Is Lilah one of the abducted teens? Or is she on the ground helping?) “She’s hiding from the border patrol,” Temple muttered. “What about the boy? There were two kids.”

“Probably with the caravan. Let me—” The pilot stopped, cursing. “We have a problem, Senator. Look.”

One of the soldiers had detached himself from his team and was following Lilah. If she got caught, there was little a single search-and-rescue chopper could do to help. (NOOOOO! RUN LILAH!)

Good start! I think I need to know a bit sooner that they are looking to two teens who had been abducted…that Lilah is one of them. For some reason I read it as she was part of their team and doing something for them on the ground. Right after “I think that’s Lilah”…give me who she is and that they are looking for her…and for how long maybe.

I love the descriptions. The sights and sounds really make it come to life.

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!

 

PRISONER OF FATE…#SonofaPitch: Entry 6 #TeamDarkSide

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

starwarsdarth

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 6!

starwarssidiouslaugh

Title: Prisoner of Fate

Category and Genre: Adult Fantasy
Word Count: 160,000
Query:

When most people have a mid-life crisis, they buy a fancy carriage. When Komak Cer-Marin has a mid-life crisis, he teams up with a murderer and a possessed healer to stop death itself.

On parchment, Komak has everything a man could desire: status, wealth, family. In reality, status and wealth taste hollow, and he would cheerfully murder his brothers if his hands stayed clean. When enigmatic traveler Sedhan Saphadzar offers Komak the chance at an undying legacy – the creation of an artifact that halts death itself – Komak can’t resist its lure.

But destiny doesn’t come without problems. Sedhan is wanted for murder, with dragonriders hounding him, and he’s hiding something worse. A possessed half-elf healer joins them to flee her heritage, even as she furthers their ends. When their preparations go awry, Komak must decide if a legacy justifies the crimes he’s committed or if he’s willing to stake his life for morals he didn’t know he had.

First 250 Words:

“Sedhan Saphadzar, to speak with Komak Cer-Marin, the lord’s son,” the man said for the seventh time – once to the guard on the bridge across the lake, once at the entrance to the city, once at the outer wall, twice at the first gate, once at the keep entrance, and again here, at the door to the audience chamber.

The guard by the door, like all the guards before, cast him a dubious glance, and Sedhan could almost hear the man’s thoughts. Sedhan’s accent was rich with the unmistakable lilting of the hills of Old Marin, but something still gave the guard pause. Perhaps it was the color of his hair – a dark auburn more common to the deserts of Baerga, lightly dusted with silver and cut short in the style common to travelers. He was lean but muscled, and his face was handsome, if sharply angular. He wore simple traveling clothes, not distinctive to any land, with a plain cloak and linen shirt of the same inky black as his eyes. He carried no weapons, a fact he demonstrated by keeping his cloak back over his shoulders.

Unable to find anything off-putting, the guard grunted his consent. Sedhan pushed the door to the audience chamber open. As he stepped through, he touched the frame and chanted the threshold rite again, as he had whenever in view of a guard or member of the House.

starwarskylo-ren-gif

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:

When most people have a mid-life crisis, they buy a fancy carriage. When Komak Cer-Marin has a mid-life crisis, he teams up with a murderer and a possessed healer to stop death itself. (OMG I’m in.)

On parchment, Komak has everything a man could desire: status, wealth, family. In reality, (I think you can cut “In reality”) status and wealth taste hollow, and he would cheerfully murder his brothers if his hands stayed clean. (HA! Love that! Way to show his character.) When enigmatic traveler Sedhan Saphadzar offers Komak the chance at an undying legacy – the creation of an artifact that halts death itself – Komak can’t resist its lure. (Sedhan is offering to help Komak create this artifact…not find it? Komak is lured to the power this would give? Halts death for …just the person who has it or everything?)

But destiny (He thinks his destiny is to do something big like halt death…this is what drives him?) doesn’t come without problems. Sedhan is wanted for murder, with dragonriders hounding him, and he’s hiding something worse. (Are the dragonriders after him because of the murder or something else? Dragon riders make me happy! But the “hiding something worse” is too vague, doesn’t pack any punch.) A possessed half-elf healer (OH! I likey possessed characters! Does this one have a name?) joins them to flee her heritage (What heritage? What is she fleeing?), even as she furthers their ends.(She’s helping them to help herself? How does it help her, by giving her a means to get away from her life? But does she care about what they are doing?) When their preparations go awry, Komak must decide if a legacy justifies the crimes he’s committed or if he’s willing to stake his life for morals he didn’t know he had. (What preparations? How do they go awry? What crimes has he committed? I need to see what he wants…what gets in the way…how he changes, these morals he didn’t know he had…then what the choice is. Does he have to decide to either create this artifact or not? Does he create it and have to decide to use it? How is his life at stake? You lose me with this last paragraph. And I wonder about 160K being a bit long…even for fantasy…though fantasy is tough because world building. Just a thought.)

After having read the first 250…I am a bit confused that it was Sebhan’s POV. This query sets up Komak’s POV. Whose story is it? Or is it omniscient POV?

 

First 250 Words:
“Sedhan Saphadzar, to speak with Komak Cer-Marin, the lord’s son,” the man said for the seventh time – once to the guard on the bridge across the lake, once at the entrance to the city, once at the outer wall, twice at the first gate, once at the keep entrance, and again here, at the door to the audience chamber. (I am confused with POV here. First I thought it was the guard, who was listening to the man…then I realized it must be the man…but who is the man? I like the having to repeat the sentence over and over…protocol. Lol. And the man…is he annoyed at having to say it? Is it routine? Has he had to do this before to see the same leader or a different one? Put us in his head. Is he anxious to get to speak with Komak? Is he nervous? Excited?)

The guard by the door, like all the guards before,(A bit of description here.) cast him a dubious glance, and Sedhan could almost hear the man’s thoughts (his thoughts? Or his doubts? Or how the guard must be pondering the individual before him, questioning if he should allow him in?). (Oh, the man is Sedhan!) Sedhan’s accent was rich with the unmistakable lilting of the hills of Old Marin (Is that good? Would the guard not like that?), but something still gave the guard pause. Perhaps it was the color of his hair – a dark auburn more common to the deserts of Baerga, lightly dusted with silver and cut short in the style common to travelers. (Would that hurt his chances of getting in?) He was lean but muscled, and his face was handsome, if sharply angular. (feels like omniscient POV) He wore simple traveling clothes, not distinctive to any land, with a plain cloak and linen shirt of the same inky black as his eyes. He carried no weapons, a fact he demonstrated by keeping his cloak back over his shoulders. (Can Sedhan look down at himself…or brush some dust from his shoulder or straighten his shirt so we can see what he has on without being told what he looks like? Does he usually carry a weapon? How badly does he want in? Is he worried they won’t let him in? What are his intentions? I want a hint of something, so I can be worried or scared or excited. I want to be drawn in with a promise of something.

Unable to find anything off-putting, the guard grunted his consent. (With omniscient POV we would certainly know what the guard thought…if it is Sebhan’s then he can think that he must have passed inspection because the guard let him through. And Sedhan is…overjoyed? Is this the final door keeping him from his goal?) Sedhan pushed the door to the audience chamber open. As he stepped through, he touched the frame and chanted the threshold rite again, as he had whenever in view of a guard or member of the House. (Why? What does the chant do or mean?)

I am dying to know more about Sebhan. The chant suggests magic, which makes me curious. But I need more emotion to draw me in, more tension to pull me into the story. We don’t have to know his intentions, but a feel for if he’s up to no good or going to try to manipulate…what is in this for Sebhan?

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!

 

DEADLY DREAMS…#SonofaPitch: Entry 5 #TeamDarkSide

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, , , , ,

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

starwarsani

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 5!

starwarskylodarkgenerous

Title: Deadly Dreams
Category and Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 70,000

Query:

Penda’s International Society has been protecting humans and supporting psychics since the 600s. Spencer is Lynch is one of Penda’s most dangerous combat operatives. He’s near indestructible and highly trained. When new recruit, Veronica “Ronnie” Danson, moves into his home Spencer knows he’s met his match. She’s smart, funny, and beautiful and he’s determined to make her his. Just as Spencer thinks he’s getting somewhere, one of their housemates is killed. Spencer’s determined to find her murderer and throws himself into the investigation, uncovering far more than he expected.
Ronnie’s been thrown into a world of magic, psychics, and terrifying other races. Now her friend is dead and she fears she might be next. Ronnie’s dreams offer clues that could lead them to the culprit but revealing them could expose her own secret. Ronnie’s secret might cost her everything. Her freedom. Her love. Her life.
First 250 Words:

Birmingham, UK

It was happening again but this time it wasn’t a dream. Ronnie’s chest tightened as the now-familiar barista locked up the coffee shop for the night and turned to walk towards her. Ronnie had witnessed his fate so many times but still didn’t know how to stop it. She struggled to move her feet, to keep him from crossing the road. She tried to shout out to him, to warn him, to do anything to get his attention. No sound came out.

She stood rooted to the spot, silently reliving her nightmare.

The gigantic beast staggered out of the alleyway, pale skin sallow, black eyes darting around.

Was he looking for her?

The beast stumbled towards the barista.

Surely she would wake up now. Except it wasn’t a dream. It was real.

She couldn’t stop it. Panic clawed at her chest. Her breath came in short gasps. She couldn’t even close her eyes.

The beast struck out at the barista, knocking him to the ground with one hard swipe of its hand. Blood pooled on the ground around the barista’s head as the beast let out an inhuman wail, revealing six rows of sharp teeth. It reached down, lifted the limp body and threw him against the wall. The beast lumbered forward, swaying slightly.

The world seemed to fade away until all Ronnie could see was the nightmare in front of her. She didn’t hear the van approaching or see people spilling out of it.

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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:

Penda’s International Society has been protecting humans and supporting psychics since the 600s. (You had me at protecting humans and supporting psychics…because I want to know protecting from what cool monsterish things!) Spencer is Lynch (Spencer Lynch without the is?) is one of Penda’s most dangerous combat operatives. He’s near indestructible and highly trained. (I don’t think you need this last sentence…I think the “most dangerous combat operatives” does it. And what does he want? What does he do?)

Here…I’d set up Ronnie…who she is and what she wants…

When new recruit, Veronica “Ronnie” Danson, moves into his home Spencer knows he’s met his match. She’s smart, funny, and beautiful and he’s determined to make her his (love at first sight?). Add in a line about Ronnie…what she thinks of him. Just as Spencer thinks he’s getting somewhere, (Or just when their relationship begins?) of their housemates is killed. (Link the roommate to being Ronnie’s best friend) Spencer’s determined to find her murderer and throws himself into the investigation, uncovering far more than he expected.
Ronnie’s been thrown into a world of magic, psychics, and terrifying other races (like what? Give a bit of what we’ll see, what makes your ms unique. And thrown into the world how?). Now her friend is dead and she fears she might be next. (Why would she think she was next?) Ronnie’s dreams offer clues that could lead them to the culprit but revealing them could expose her own secret. Ronnie’s secret might cost her everything. Her freedom. Her love. Her life. (why? Why is revealing her secret so dangerous? How will it endanger her life? You mention psychics…are her dreams like that and isn’t that normal? Or are her dreams different?)

Interesting! I am drawn to Ronnie’s story more…these dreams interest me…are they her secret or is there more? I expect a dual POV ms. For me, it makes sense to set up each character, who they are and what they want, a para for Spencer, then a para for Ronnie…then bring their stories together at the end. When Spencer meets Ronnie…when Ronnie meets Spencer…then big terrible murder happens and stakes! I want to know what they want. What drives them through the story? I also want to know what they do. Protecting humans…means what? Do they fight and kill monsters? Do they simply track them? And what about the psychics? What role do they play? After reading the first 250…maybe start the query with Ronnie’s story since the ms starts with her?

 
First 250 Words:

Birmingham, UK

It was happening again but this time it wasn’t a dream. (Maybe a stronger first line would be… This time it wasn’t a dream.) Ronnie’s chest tightened as the now-familiar barista locked up the coffee shop for the night and turned to walk towards her. (bit of description of the barista, just a brushstroke, something distinguishing? And the shop? What does it look like? Any other little details? Why is she there? Anyone else around? What time is it?) Ronnie had witnessed his fate so many times but still didn’t know how to stop it. (Had she been trying to figure out how to stop it? Witnessed it in a dream?) She struggled to move her feet, to keep him from crossing the road. She tried to shout out to him, to warn him, to do anything to get his attention. No sound came out. (why can’t she move or speak? Frozen like magic, like in her dream? Or is she that afraid?)

She stood rooted to the spot, silently reliving her nightmare. (Does she often have nightmares that then come true? Is this the first time she sees her dreams come true?)

The gigantic beast staggered out of the alleyway, pale skin sallow, black eyes darting around. (Since we haven’t seen this monster say… “A gigantic beast…” Does he smell? Sounds?)

Was he looking for her? (If she has dreamed this, she would know what the beast was going to do…why does she think this?)

The beast stumbled towards the barista.

Surely she would wake up now. Except it wasn’t a dream. It was real.

She couldn’t stop it. Panic clawed at her chest. (You had her chest tightening earlier…so maybe not use chest here.) Her breath came in short gasps. She couldn’t even close her eyes.

The beast struck out at the barista, knocking him to the ground with one hard swipe of its hand. Blood pooled on the ground around the barista’s head as the beast let out an inhuman wail, revealing six rows of sharp teeth. (Nice. I like this beast.) It reached down, lifted the limp body and threw him against the wall. The beast lumbered forward, swaying slightly. (Is it going for the barista again? Or where is it going? Heading to Ronnie?)

The world seemed to fade away until all Ronnie could see was the nightmare in front of her. (Oh, it is coming for her? So if she dreamed this, she knows she’s next? Why go somewhere in real life where she is attacked in her dream? Why is she there?) She didn’t hear the van approaching or see people spilling out of it. (Just one of my pet peeves, maybe, but If she doesn’t see the van…why are we seeing the van? Is this close POV or more omniscient?)

I like the paranormal! I like monsters! I like strange scary dreams that suddenly happen in real life! So I am intrigued and would keep reading…though, I wonder why I care about this monster out killing a random barista? Why are we seeing this with Ronnie? I want to know her better…What does she want? Are these dreams new? Is seeing a monster in real life weird for her? I know…it’s just one page! What do I want everything? No…just hints.

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!