Friday, May 4, 2012

First Page Friday Plus Last Day of the Party and Four Great Prizes to Win!

So as to not mess up our First Page Friday schedule, I am included the piece and the critique in our prize blog.  I hope you don't mind!  Be sure to read to the very end. :)

(Oh, if you're new to the blog today, we have a cool feature here where you submit the first page of your manuscript and two incredible editors critique them every week.  More info is on the sidebar.)

The Entry
by Gina Denny

 A stake dance isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but my parents insist that I get out and make more friends. They say high school is supposed to be fun, and that it’s time for me to stop moping and get used to my new surroundings.

My family moved to Glendale five months ago when my parents decided they wanted a bigger house. We are only eleven miles from our old house, but the move put us in a different stake, different schools and a gated neighborhood. Basically, a whole different world. And I’m still not sure how I fit into this world.

“Elisa, please. Trust me. You’ll be fine.” Lily says to me.

Easy for her to say. She’s lived here her whole life. This is her world. So far, she's the only friend I've made, and she happens to be in my Mia Maid class, seminary class and freshman algebra class.

Lily and I walk into the cultural hall much too quickly. Part of me wants to just hover by the door, observing, before I walk into the room, but Lily doesn’t seem to agree. She walks in as if there is absolutely nothing to be scared of.

“Why are there so many people here?” I hiss to her as we approach a group of girls from our ward.

“This is a tri-stake dance. Didn’t I tell you?”

“No.” I say quietly. Now there are three times as many people to face.

I don’t know what I had really been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this. The lights are all off, except for some colored flashing lights coming from in front of the DJ setup on the stage. A smoke machine is pouring smoke from the corner, and a long table is set up with bowls of candy and some cheesy Halloween decorations on it.

And not one single person is dancing.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

I’m having some trouble getting my bearings in this piece. Although the first sentence mentions a stake dance, it doesn’t actually tell us that the narrator is at one; thus, it feels disembodied from the rest of the sample. Immediately thereafter, we hit upon a short information dump about the circumstances that have led Elisa to this point, immediately followed by dialogue from Lily, who is presented to us as if we somehow already know her. I’d recommend revising the dialogue tag to identify her as Elisa’s friend right off the bat.

There are compelling elements here. Perhaps the meatiest bit of this entire sample is the sentence that reads: “And I’m still not sure how I fit into this world.” It tells us a lot about Elisa in very few words. It tells us that we’re reading the story of a girl who is out of her element in the suburbs. To add fuel to the fire, she’s found herself in the most awkward of teenage social situations: the dance.

But I think the readers need more to go on if they’re to follow Elisa across hundreds of pages of narrative. What sets her apart from other young adult heroines in this same storyline?

Lastly, be careful not to let your secondary characters outshine your heroine. Lily commands this scene, and she strikes me as more interesting than Elisa herself. Perhaps it’s because Elisa comes off as so passive, a trait that afflicts too many young adult heroines right now, and I find myself craving more self-assured heroines like Lily. Of course, this amounts to personal preference, but because there are already so many passive heroines in suburban YA novels, it’s important that a character like Elisa make some sort of lasting impression from the get-go. It’s important that she establish strengths and interests of her own so that Lily doesn’t have to hold her hand throughout the entire story.

Thank you Gina and Ms. Shreditor!

Can you believe the party is coming to a close?  My throat is still hoarse from karaoke, I definitely have a chocolate hangover, but I really did have fun.  (And I'm not playing board games with some of you people anymore.  You are brutal!)

Today is the last day for prizes and then I will tabulate all the entries and announce all the winners on Monday!  I hope you've had as much fun as I have.

 The first prize being offered today is a 30 page critique from Danyelle Ferguson.  She is a published author of  (dis)-Abilities and the Gospel and is a respected editor.  She looks innocent in that picture, but she knows her stuff and will give you a solid critique.

Here's a bit more about her:   Danyelle discovered her love for the written word in elementary school. Her first article was published when she was in 6th grade. During high school, she placed runner up in the Pennsylvania School of Excellence for Arts program, specializing in creative writing. Since then, she's won several awards for her poetry, short stories, articles, and other writings. Her work has been published internationally in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. Her book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel, was released in May 2011.  You can go to her website here to find out more.

  The second prize being offered today is Monique Bucheger's middle grade book, The Secret Sisters Club.  Here is the back copy:

Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie and Tillie, want to be sisters. Tillie's divorced mom plus Ginnie's widowed dad could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie form a secret club. They come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’.

Before long, Tillie seems happier about gaining a dad than a sister. Ginnie suspects Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’ Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her real mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about.

When Dad discovers she has the journals, he takes them away. Ginnie needs to figure out what the big mystery is before her relationship with her father and her best friend are ruined forever.

Doesn't that sound fun?!

The third prize being offered is Fay Klingler's Mother's Day gift booklet, Daughters of God---You Have What It Takes!  Here is the back copy:
At times, women of all ages struggle with how to confidently follow the plan of happiness and distinguish between those things that are important and those that are not.

Daughters of God—You Have What It Takes! is an inspiring message of hope: “No matter what season in life, you do have the power to succeed. You have what it takes!”

And here's a little more about Fay!   Author and illustrator Fay A. Klingler is an award-winning creative and technical writer. Her most recent book release—A Woman’s Power: Threads that Bind Us to God—can be purchased at Amazon and all LDS retail outlets.  For more information on Fay and her books, you can visit her website here

And the last prize being offered is a double whammy---a book of your choice (go to Shirley's website here to choose which one you might like.  They are all so amazing and it will be hard to choose!)  but Shirley has also offered a first chapter critique and if you know Shirley, you know that that is an amazing prize!  But if you look closely at her picture you will see that she is the type of person that everyone needs to critique their work.  Firm, yet fun. :)

So here's what you have to do for entries:
1.  Tweet or Facebook the final day of the contest
2.  If you haven't already, go vote for your favorite Flash Fiction entry on Wednesday's post.
3.  Tell me what book you're currently reading.  
4.   If you wanted an editor to know one thing about you or your writing, what would it be?
5.  Bonus Question:  What famous person did I meet when I was twelve years old?

I hope you all had fun.  I know I did.  Thank you all for participating and partying with me.  And thank you to all my incredible prize donors.  You are all much appreciated!  Come back Monday and see who won! 


Kate said...

1. FBed about last day of contest.
2. Already voted.
3. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. She is supposed to be the founder of Romantic Suspense so since that's what I write, I thought I should try her books. Slow start. I've started and stopped twice now. We'll see if I finish.
4. I want an editor to know I will work hard to make my manuscript the best it can be. I want feedback that will improve my writing even if it means tearing everything apart and rebuilding. I can handle the truth. (I hope!)

Gina said...

Thank you, Ms. Shreditor! These are all things that are addressed later in the MS, but thank you for pointing out what's missing on the first page!

I knew I would benefit from a good shred, and I thank you for it :)

Debra Erfert said...

I Tweeted and Facebooks about today being the wrap-up party day. That counts as 2 points--right?

I already voted

I'm reading Julie Wright's "Olivia."

The one thing I would want an editor to know about me? I guess . . . I write from my experiences, which is rather scary considering what my books are about.

Bonus Question: I soooo have this down. And as soon as I answer it, anybody who reads it will have it too. Should I send it to your on your personal email so I don't give it away? Oh, heck! I'll just let everyone else get the bonus question too.

You met (and I'm so jealous) Princess Diana! Now I should get double points for remember that question from when you asked it on the Frog Blog. hehehe

Debra Erfert said...

I liked the first page today. For whatever reasons, I didn't get lost from the Stake dance. And I so feel for the mc having to go to a new ward/stake.

Thanks, Gina for submitting, and Ms. Shreditor for the great critique.

Melanie Goldmund said...

3. I'm reading The Body in the Thames, a historical mystery by Susanna Gregory, set in London in 1664.

4. One thing I would want an editor to know about me is that ... my mind goes blank every so often and ... what was the question again?

Debra Erfert said...

Mel, bwahahahahahahahaha. . . . .

Jon Spell said...

3. I guess I'm currently reading Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham. I've been reading chapters for a while now and I love the little writing insights.

I almost don't want to admit this, but my mom is going to recommend a Nicholas Sparks novel for me, because I'm really curious as to what a man writing romance sounds like. (Because I don't have enough unfinished writing projects.)

4. That maybe, just maybe, I might, um, use a few too many commas in my writing.

5. Points go to Debra, so I'll just mention the famous person I met when I was 12: Grand Master Song Ki Pak. He's the dad of one of my best friends from high school, and that year, in 7th grade, I got to see him pull a car with a rope in his mouth. Oh, and he's like a 6th level black belt and teaches Tae Kwon Do. Ok, so he's not like, world-famous, but he's relatively well known.

Melanie Conklin said...

I also found myself waiting . . . waiting . . . to find out where I was going in the story. I wasn't sure which details I should try to hold fresh in my brain for the coming scenes, which makes me feel like I'm missing something, or forgetting it, right off the bat.

The more I learn about writing, the more I realize that the stories that really grab me do so boldly--they tell me why I care and where I'm going pretty much right away. That's something I'm still practicing hard myself! Best of luck :)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Julie - You're not the first person to point out how innocent I look. Sigh. Maybe I should scowl more. But never fear, all of my clients live in awe and respect of the incredible purple editing pen. (Yes, purple is soo much better than red. Less blood dripping that way.)

Happy bloggie birthday, Julie!