Saturday, June 25, 2011

CONTEST TIME!

I am entering my first page (250 words) into a contest. It is on Shelley Watter's Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book blog. The judge is literary agent Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency. She sounds like a fabulous agent, so I am super de-duper excited! I am submitting from my novel REMAINDERS (aka CRIMSON - still going back and forth)

So, it's time to make this baby sparkle! All feedback welcome...

Title: REMAINDERS
Genre: YA romantic thriller with supernatural elements
Word Count: 90,000
Entry:

The books reeked of salt and rotting fish. I kind of liked it. Colorado libraries back home only carried the scent of aged paper and dust. Not nearly as charming.

I continued to browse, finding the search as satisfying as the read. It was definitely better than choosing between name brand cream cheese and the cheap stuff. Running errands for Mom really bugged, but it at least gave me an excuse to get out. Alone.


I finally had a driver’s license this summer. The picture had turned out dreadful, but fortunately, a glamorous photo wasn’t a requirement for the freedom it offered. Well, a little bit of freedom. Mom didn’t let it flow freely, but every ounce she let leak, I soaked up like an old sponge. Anything to make my life less vanilla.


Movement near the end of the aisle caught my attention, and I watched as a teenage boy sat by the window to read, bright colors parading over the comic section. My gasp brought his interest from the paper to me. Strings of black hair fell over his forehead, screening his sunken eyes, and the bones in his face stuck out sharp beneath skin that could snap. An invisible darkness hung around him, so flawless I could almost taste its putrid flavor.


But there was more. Something ran deeper, radiated from within. Something I sensed more than saw. He was…different.

I could feel it.

His eyes bore into mine, but I couldn’t look away. I just wanted to gawk as my finger longed to slowly trace his bony features—make sure he was real.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment...

13 comments:

  1. I'm curious as to why the books smell like salt and reeking fish. It's an interesting description, but the questions raised are never answered. As a reader I'm left to make my own, (probably wrong) conclusions. I'd love to see this first paragraph expanded just a bit.

    Your last sentence has a lot of visceral power to it. I'd be tempted to move it in front of all the other descriptions of the boy, because it makes their connection more immediate. She doesn't analyze and describe his features, but instead she just stares into his eyes and wants to touch him. Electricity!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have some great sentences, here, and a powerful image, but I agree. Begin with the image.You're not in Colorado, but where are you? Give your reader a sense of time and location right away. I don't feel grounded.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Melinda!

    Okay, so I find myself disagreeing with many peeps and their comments today! :) It's the first 250 words folks, who knows what the next sentence may bring?

    Your opening sentence immediately makes me think she's somewhere other than Colorado - somewhere near the ocean (I live in Seattle, so I know that smell WELL!). Why everyone wants to be told so much, right up front, vs. diving into the story, is beyond me. Isn't that the entire point of reading?

    I digress. :)

    You had some great visuals here and some really good lines ("less vanilla" :)). I do agree with Sarah's comment in moving your last line - but I'd move it between these two sentences:

    "An invisible darkness hung around him, so flawless I could almost taste its putrid flavor.

    [His eyes bore into mine, but I couldn’t look away. I just wanted to gawk as my finger longed to slowly trace his bony features — make sure he was real.]

    But there was more. Something ran deeper, radiated from within. Something I sensed more than saw. He was…different."

    This does make their connection more immediate, but it also ends your submit leaving us asking the question of how she can feel it? Where is that going to go? What can she do? And ultimately, making the reader want to turn the page!

    Good submit - very interesting read! And I'd turn the page for sure.

    Best of luck in the contest!

    P.S. - Per your comments on my site, slow start or not (we've all been there!) your blog is off to a wonderful beginning!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I can understand having a slow blog as well!

    I loved your opening line. At this point I don't need to be told exactly where your character is because my mind is reeling with trying to figure it out on my own, and also why she left Colorado.

    I like the comment about the life being less vanilla, but is being around books with her car really something that exciting and different for her? Or is it comforting, much like vanilla?

    When she gasps, I'm not sure why. It's only a few sentences later that I figure out. You may want to switch this around.

    Love the comment that he's "different". Makes me want to know exactly how...and turn the page!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The dark stranger.
    I like that something's changed for the narrator. (I don't know if it's a him or her or what name. Assuming it's a her)
    But it didn't quite draw me in.
    I felt there was a lot explanation of who the narrator was. It was well written, but I didn't care. I wanted something to happen.
    I got vanilla, cream cheese, fish. It felt a bit random to me.
    You might want to consider cutting the first 3 paras, then adding a bit on the end. Or add some setting details. I wasn't sure where there were.
    Does something happen with the dark dude? Or is it just staring? Maybe start with the action.
    All those details in the first 3 paras are good but they feel a little misplaced.
    Start with the conflict, and then build from there.
    I do want to know who this dude is!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ahh, the first steps of freedom as a teen. Only to be hauled back to reality by a parent. Something a lot of people can identify with. I liked this a lot.
    The only thing that surprised me was the boy on the first page. Is he the romantic element? It seems really early to introduce him, if so. But it could work. I suppose if you hadn't written him in you'd be getting comments like, "Where's the love interest? Is this really a romantic thriller?" LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I liked that you didn't tell us where the character was set - this is a good trick to keep the reader turning the page to find out. The way you set it up with the reference to Colorado and several mentions of the mother' over protectiveness made me think that they were running from something (stalker, death of the father or abusive father/step-father?).

    You write well and the protag's voice was great. I like the way she described her lack of freedom, without being a bitter about it or a grudgy/whiny teen (i hate that kind of character).

    Cool last line. Makes me think she's daydreaming or imagining him.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the comments everyone! I really think your help will make this better!

    Yes, it is the love interest, and he is barely introduced here and then shows up, completely different, later on. But the whole story is really based on this odd fist encounter. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey lovinlife! Little late to the party, but great start here. Your writing is lovely and very evocative. That said, I only have two suggestions.

    1) The first is I'd search for a different opening line, a hook with a little more of a punch. You're opening with a slow start here, which is great, you're building a mood, setting the tone and setting rather than wham bam action - which works well for suspense. With that in mind though, foreshadowing and what the suspense is building TOWARDS is just as important. Think of it like being on a roller coaster. It usually starts out really slow...everybody pressed back into their seats as the cars slowly clank their way up the steepest part of the coaster, at an inclined angle. Not much is happening compared to the sharp drops, sudden turns and even upside down loops that are coming - it should be boring in comparison to those parts. But its not, because the whole time we're inching up the tracks, we know those sharp drops are coming up ahead and we're tense in anticipation. That's what I'd like to see more of on your first page. We get that its suspenseful from the tone that you've set, but there's no real sense of what we're building towards to really tighten our chests in anticipation. You said in your comment above that the love interest is going to show up completely different later, but that this odd first encounter sets everything up. Well, allude to that. Give us a hint that's coming, even if we're meant to be surprised by his reappearance later. The first line of your novel is primo real estate - you don't get a better chance to make an impression than with that. Make it about the story...not the books in a setting that most likely has little to do with whatever else comes next.

    In fact, a number of things you could play around with that might also help with my other suggestion...

    2) I would suggest reading the part where she first sees the love interest aloud to yourself, and see how it flows. To me, it came off jarring, and didn't quite fit in the flow of the rest of the page. I think you might actually be undercutting the power of his first impression on her by having her gasp aloud and have such a visible reaction. Using that to introduce a love interest is similar to using 'suddenly' to segue into an action scene, or cuing loud, ominous music in a movie to convey that the killer is right behind the main character. If you weave him in a little sooner though, and allow her discovery of him and his uniqueness to be more of a gradual thing, I think it might read better.

    For instance, if you opened with her describing the books and the smell just as you do now, but instead of talking about how much she loves it, you could make it about how much she SHOULD love it and how it would normally have her complete attention, but instead she can't stop looking at the boy over in the comics section, trying to pin down just what exactly is so different about him, and why can't she stop staring?

    Anyways, those are just my two cents, and COMPLETELY subjective of course. Make of them what you will, or disregard entirely. Either way, you have a lovely start here to what looks like a very intriguing story. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is what I'm posting...

    The books reeked of salt and rotting fish. I kind of liked it. The libraries back home only carried the scent of aged paper and dust. Not nearly as charming.

    I continued to browse, enjoying the search as much as the read. Cream cheese was my next stop. Running errands for Mom really bugged, but it gave me an excuse to get out. Alone.

    New, shiny driver’s license. Back pocket. Me? Stoked. But mom? Not so much. The picture had turned out dreadful, but fortunately, a glamorous photo wasn’t a requirement for the freedom it offered. Well, a little bit of freedom. Mom was still pretty stiff, but I would take anything to make my life less vanilla.

    I turned toward the end of the aisle where a teenage boy sat by the window reading, bright colors parading over the comic section. He was watching me. I froze.

    His eyes bore into mine, but I couldn’t look away. An invisible darkness hung around him, so flawless, I could almost taste its putrid flavor. But at the same time, I just wanted to gawk as my finger longed to slowly trace his sharp features—make sure he was real.

    Strings of black hair fell over his forehead, screening his sunken eyes, and the bones in his face stuck out beneath skin that could snap. He was sickening, but tempting, too.

    There was more. Something ran deeper, radiated from within. Something I sensed more than saw. He was…different.

    I could feel it.

    Thanks for the help everyone! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Okay, fixed a few things. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice changes. :)
    Couple little nits still:
    You say he was sitting and reading, but he's actually watching. Consider changing "reading" to "holding" (the comics).
    That para that starts "There was" is very vague.
    Consider replacing weak words like "there", "something", "it" with something more concrete.
    Really liked the voice!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Melinda! I know you're a newbie in the blog world and so am I. Therefore, consider yourself tagged. Please visit my blog for details and the five questions that are begging for your answers.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...