Friday, November 30, 2012

First Page Friday

I'm so excited at all the new entries we have for First Page Friday.  If you would like your first page critiqued, just submit your double-spaced 12 pt. font page to

As always, thank you to the authors who submit and to the editors who critique.  I have learned so much!  See you next week.

The Entry
by Chas Hathaway 

What is it about sinking one's teeth deep into the sides of a number two pencil that is so satisfying? Is it the feel of the crushing wood, or the crackly sound it makes?
The recess bell rang. I scolded myself for not watching the clock more closely. Pocketing my pencil, I was out the door with a gym-ball, jacket, and a sonic-boom (I may have knocked over a desk) before my sixth-grade teacher had even turned from the whiteboard.
I was on the playground, smugly tossing my dodgeball into the air and catching it, before any other kid made it out the door. For the seventh recess in a row, I would be the first girl to be it for the Nigel Elementary Daily Dodgeball Tournament. I smiled as the second, third, and fourth kid bumbled out of the building, each looking around as if expecting a bear attack.
            I decided to be generous and wait until at least ten kids were out of the building before going in for the kill. I didn't want to lose the advantage of being first, but it was always more fun when a bunch of kids were part of the action (and of course, watching me win).
“Five. . . six. . . seven. . .” I said as each kid zipped out the door, running for cover.
With a splash of white swirls, I found myself sprawling to the ground, a welt instantly rising on the back of my head, grass and stars spinning in front of me.
“Well, if it isn't Lindsey Barchopious. Guess you weren't first today!” came the words of a snorty voice I knew all too well. I turned and saw Barney Pendleton retrieving his own gym-ball. He must have left class before the recess bell to make it out before me. What a big fat cheater. Not to mention his ball must have been way overinflated.
I looked around quickly. My ball had been nabbed by a classmate who was now chasing a kid half his size.
“Looking for something?” Barney said.
I turned back at my bushy headed, freckle-faced attacker. He had his ball, but in his other hand, he held up my favorite #2 pencil. It must have fallen out of my shirt pocket when I got pegged.
“You're in so much stinking trouble, Barney.” I said, “Give it back now!”
He laughed, and put the pencil in his back pocket. “What are you going to do, cry on me? Boo-hooooo!”
Then his eyes widened as I ran at him.

Angela and Heidi's Comments

What Works Well
What a spunky character with spark. Her narrative voice is fun and energetic, and should appeal to the middle reader age group. You’ve got strong details and specific descriptions that leave a vivid impression in the reader’s mind: sonic-boom, freckle-faced attacker, bear attack, zipped, nabbed. Right from the start, you establish a light-hearted tone that conveys a great sense of humor: “I may have knocked over a desk, I decided to be generous…before going in for the kill, I smiled as the … kid bumbled out … looking as if expecting a bear attack.” Energetic and funny is the way to go. You’ve definitely got a flair for it.

Conflicting Messages and Deep Thoughts
Chewing on a pencil, especially for satisfaction, seems a bit at odds with the ball of energy that erupts as soon as the recess bell rings. Is Lindsey really the type of person who would be a pencil chewer? On top of that, she is waxing philosophical about it. Not that kids her age don’t have some pretty deep thoughts. But she strikes us as a girl of action, not one who meta-analyzes why chewing on her pencil makes her feel so great.
And why is she so attached to this particular pencil? Readers who pick up a fantasy book will have some pre-conceived ideas. They will be looking, at least subconsciously, for clues that reaffirm that they are entering a fantasy world. Even if the initial setting seems normal enough (recess, dodge ball, the school bully), readers will be searching for the point where normal intersects with the fantastical. By emphasizing the pencil, they may even assume (either correctly or erroneously) that there is something unusual about the pencil. Is it a literal good luck charm? Does it have magical properties? Like you can’t make a mistake on any test you take with this pencil? (Although if I had a pencil like that, I certainly wouldn’t be chewing on it.)
Now I haven’t read past the first page, so I don’t know if my assessment is accurate. Of course, readers won’t either, at least until they get past the first page. But I guarantee that at least some of them may think along those lines, and when they get to page two or three or ten, and it turns out the pencil was just an ordinary pencil, they will be disappointed.

No Clear Problem
Other than her dodge-ball nemesis, we have no clear sense of a problem. The importance of using the first page to hook your reader (and also your agent or your publisher) is a reality in today’s publishing world. The heart of every story is a problem, and even if you decide it doesn’t serve the story to present the main problem right out of the gate, it’s helpful to either give a hint of troubles to come or start with preliminary problem – sort of an opening act for the main act.  At first glance, this story seems like it’s going to be about Lindsey’s run-in with the dodge ball bully. Bullies are a great proxy until the main problem reveals itself. Just make sure that you intend it to lead to THE problem.  Diane Duane uses this approach very nicely in So You Want to be a Wizard. The main character in that middle-grade fantasy is running away from mean girls who want to beat her up. It isn’t the main problem of the novel, but it’s a good starter problem, and is the catalyst that leads our heroine into bigger, juicier problems. (She hides from the bullies in the library and comes across a magical book that eventually leads her to other time-space dimensions.)

Odd Names
Unusual names can be a mixed bag. Lindsey’s last name is definitely an attention-grabber, but it looks intimidating enough that younger readers may gloss over it if they don’t have an idea of how to pronounce it. If you keep it, you may look for a way to work the pronunciation into the text. You may also consider having the bully deliberately mispronounce it so Lindsey can correct him. No bully with any self-esteem would miss the fact that her name starts with the same sound as barf. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste.

In Closing
You’ve got an intriguing main character who sounds like someone you’d want on your team. If adventures, especially magical ones, are around the corner, she seems like the type to face them with spirit and maybe a little sass. No fading wall-flower, she’s sure to be in the middle of any dust-up, whether it’s with a bully or someone from the supernatural side of the fence. Details with zing and a touch of humor promise a fun story for the readers. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Making of A Book Lovers Basket---A Picture Journey

So, if you're just joining us, here's the recap:  my new novel All Fall Down is currently on a blog tour (it ends on Tuesday) and you can click here for all the stops if you want to.  Some of those interviews and top ten lists were FUNNY (if I do say so myself.) Also, the book is on sale for Kindle users through tomorrow.  And I'm offering seven prizes for the tour.

Two of the prizes are Book Lovers Baskets.  This consists of a hand-tied lap blanket, my favorite hot chocolate mixes, and a print copy of my book.  This is what the last one I did looked like:

 But, I thought that the drink mixes looked very far away so I tried again and put them closer to the book

But then I noticed that the flash was reflecting in the book.  So I tried again and angled the camera.

This one didn't turn out too badly.  You can't see the back of the quilt as well, (and yes, I have done "guy" ones, but I loved the ladybug one for this particular winner so that's what I did.)  I never heard back from that winner, though, so maybe she hated it. Or maybe she was so overwhelmed with basket love as soon as she set eyes on it she couldn't speak or type.  (I choose the second one.)  But I really do hope she got it and she's enjoying it this winter.  :)

And in case you were wondering what my children were doing while I was busy finishing the quilt and taking pictures, here's a hint.  My little boy loves markers.  A lot.  And he apparently wanted a fake tan.

That's not as easy to get off as you might think.  Luckily, he's normally wearing pants and you can hardly see the faded marker now.

So, if you would like to have this amazing prize that I pour my heart and soul into just for you, you can go here to enter the rafflecopter giveaway and read the latest interview about my inner writer workings.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let's Do This!

Okay!  It's time.  Meet me back here in fifteen minutes with your word count.

Ready, set, GOOOOO!!!

We're Sprinting in Fifteen Minutes---You In?

Okay, I spent my time on the treadmill and walked a mile and a half so the creative juices are flowing.  I am SO ready to sprint at 8.  Hope to see you there!

We'll check in at the blog every fifteen minutes, like usual.

Come on.  You know you want to.

Doing a Half-NaNo . . . Want to Join Me?

Want to see a great review I got this morning that made my whole day?  Go here  I can't seem to get the smile off my face.  :)

Well, as most of you know, I'm not going to win NaNo this year.  It was my first experience with it, and I learned a lot about myself and my writing capabilities.  I'm grateful for that.

I do want to at least accomplish a goal I've set for myself for writing in November.  Last week I set it at 25,000 words by midnight on Nov. 30.  Which is this Friday.  I currently have just over 19,000 words.
Which means I need to write about 2000 words a day until Friday.

In order to meet that goal, I will be sprinting tonight at 8 p.m. Mountain Standard.  I hope we can get some people to join us.  It's so much fun when there's someone else cheering you on.  We meet here and write for fifteen minutes, check in, then write again for fifteen minutes until the hour is up.  You get the idea.  I hope you come and I hope you can set a goal for yourself to reach by Friday. (You could put it in the comment trail for accountability if you like).  You know how I love to have people doing it with me.  It helps me feel like I'm not alone.

So make a goal and let's do it by Friday.  And come sprint with us tonight!  It'll be fun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Calling A Flagrant on Hawaii Five-O Last Night

Before I dive in, I wanted to let you all know that you have an opportunity to win my new book, All Fall Down by going to Linda Weaver's blog, reading my amazing interview, and leaving a comment.  Or you can go read Books are Sanity's review here and enter the rafflecopter for two Book Lovers Basket and/or a copy of my book.  Easy peasy!  You know you want it for Christmas . . .

Hawaii Five-O last night was flagrantly teasing me.  Did you SEE all the scenery shots they used?  My eyes were practically bugging out.  I want to go there so bad.  *le sigh*  I love you Hawaii.

But then, on top of the scenery tease, they put on CARLOS BENARD and gave him a gun with action scenes.  *swoon*  Seriously, Hawaii Five-O writers, you are going to kill me with your goodness.

So, I get all the gorgeous scenery (for Hawaii and Carlos) and then they give me Alex O. in scenes with Vanessa Marcil where she's completely defiant and totally in his face.  Some of the scenes between those two were crackling with tension.  Loved it.  When she called Steve on his mommy issues, I seriously laughed at the look on his face.  "Have you been checking up on me?"  Vanessa played the psychotherapist so so well.  Those two were awesome and I was seriously hoping for a different ending so she could be a regular.  I would have LOVED to see her and Steve again.  *one more sigh*

The downer is still the mother story and how wandering it is.  You know what would have made it awesome?  I was thinking about this.  I love Christine Lahti overall, but don't you think Lena Olin would have made an incredible Doris McGarrett?  When she was in Alias, she was so amazing at the double-crossing mom/agent/kickbutt sort of woman.  I would have loved to have seen that.  Especially since this storyline thread is here to stay apparently.  Hopefully they get it out of the weeds and start to have it make sense.  Torturing some old guy to tell her who else knows she's alive?  Really?  Makes no sense.  Dragging Catherine into her secret mess is also a horrible idea.  It's going to end badly, I'll tell you that.  But I'm willing to sit through it if we get more action Catherine with Carlos.  That made it all worth watching.  *Julie rewinds it one more time*  Oh yeah.  Definitely worth watching.

Do you ever have a secondary storyline in a book/show/movie that doesn't thrill you?  Do you skim/fastforward/sleep through it?  Or grit your teeth and bear it?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: Spinster's Folly

I was a little hesitant to pick up this book because it's the fourth in a series, (The Owen Family Saga) but I've been reading a lot of historicals lately and this one looked promising.  Marsha Ward is known for her attention to detail and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could read this as a stand alone and really get into the characters even though I hadn't read the previous three books in the series.

It's the story of a family in the Colorado territory, trying to make a go of it,  The oldest daughter, Marie, is afraid she will never get married because there aren't a whole lot of suitable young men for her to consider.  There's a neighboring farmer's son, whom her father chooses, a cowhand who is sweet, but not of her class, and a sophisticated man from town who professes his love.  Marie's choice takes her in unexpected directions and down a path of danger.  It really is a riveting story that takes you back to the time period.

I think Ms. Ward did a wonderful job on her descriptions and on making the characters come to life.  There were a few instances where our heroine seemed a bit naive and I guessed the ending pretty accurately, but I really enjoyed the journey.  It was a quick afternoon read and it immersed me in the lives of this family.  I wasn't sure I liked westerns per se, but Spinster's Folly showed me that I really can like a western--especially one as well-written as this one.

Here is the back copy:

Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely than wedded bliss. Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate, but Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son. Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers. This fourth book in the Owen Family saga is infused with potent heart and intense grit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

First Page Friday---A Day Late, But Not Short

Thank you for your patience.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

And without further ado, here is the First Page Friday critique.  See you next week!

The Entry
by M. Clark

Amazonas, Peru

For what seems like the hundredth time this morning, the gears grind, the bus lurches, and I experience near-death as we round another hairpin curve. Somehow, the bus miraculously doesn’t careen off the cliff, and I don’t die a fiery death. Bug-bitten and exhausted, I stretch and yawn and try not to look out the window. With napping not an option, I reach down and unzip the outside pocket of my backpack and take out my guidebook. Seriously? On the page I randomly open, there is a warning. Since this is one of those guidebooks favored by adventure-seeking, adrenaline-junkie types, it practically screams at me with its large print: DO NOT GO TO THE VALLEY OF THE VIPERS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

Apparently, this valley is a haven for criminals, fugitives, and drug traffickers, all with a complete disregard for basic human rights. Nevertheless, after ten months, two weeks, and however many number of days, I’m not the same girl and oversized warnings in out-of-date guidebooks don’t scare me. Ten months, two weeks, and however many number of days. The length of my father’s disappearance. Besides, I’m not headed to the Valle de las Víboras. Not yet.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

What I like most about this piece is that the narrator has a distinctive voice. First-person narration is popular these days; the adult and youth fiction markets seem awash in “I” narrators. Some are more memorable than others. In this case, the author has created a central character who seems, at least at first glance, smart, sassy, and independent.

The writing itself is generally quite strong. The prose has a nice rhythm and—I’m sure some of you know what I’m going to say next—it would appear that the author has read parts aloud to himself or herself to gauge the flow.

There is some repetition in the final paragraph regarding the length of the father’s disappearance, and I wonder if minor recasting of the text would tighten up the prose and improve flow. You might try something like: “Nevertheless, after ten months, two weeks, and however many days—the length of my father’s disappearance—I’m not the same girl, and the oversize warnings in out-of-date guidebooks don’t scare me.”

In the first sentence of the paragraph, I’d consider toning down the laundry list of unsavory characters. I think that just the word “criminals” would convey your meaning here. A general note to all writers reading this blog: Always be on the prowl for places in your manuscript where you can trim excess words to tighten it up. Publishers often require a certain word count range for their submissions, but you want to make sure you hit that target the right way.

I found the mention of Valle de las Víboras to be a bit confusing. I know enough Spanish to deduce that this is the aforementioned Valley of the Vipers, but the average reader might not. You might want to introduce this phrase earlier, when you first mention the Valley of the Vipers in the first paragraph. Perhaps you could say something like: “Because this is one of those guidebooks favored by adventure-seeking adrenaline junkies, it practically screams at me with its large print: Do Not Go to the Valle de Las Víboras under Any Circumstances. [new paragraph] Apparently, this valley, better known as the Valley of the Vipers, is a haven...”

Overall, though, I think that is an effective opening. It sets up the ominous Valley of the Vipers as a key location and tells us exactly what we need to know about the narrator: that her father has disappeared and that this disappearance will likely be her primary driving force. And, if this first page is any indication, this girl will be no damsel in distress as she undertakes this quest to find what she has lost. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shreditor Thanksgiving Weekend

Welp, both me and Ms. Shreditor have Thanksgiving brain (she's doing family stuff and all eight of my kids are home and I'm defending my board game titles) so I hope you will check back this weekend for this week's Shreditor column.

Thank you so much and I hope you're having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

In this past week, my aunt died, my health has taken a turn for the worse, and my son had major surgery.  But I found that the closer to Thanksgiving day I got, the more I concentrated on how grateful I am for the knowledge that this life is not the end, that I am grateful to have people around me to help take care of me when I'm sick, and how my family all gathered to help take care of my son and the little ones at home.  I think true gratitude really is in the attitude and how you look at things.  And today, my heart is full.

So, for all my bloggy friends I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with loved ones, laughter, and really great food.  And that you find the attitude of gratitude in your heart.

              HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNo Isn't Going to Happen So Instead I'm Going To . . .

Before we get to it, I have to share this with you.  It was so funny!  Karlene over at Insplasher "interviewed" me for the blog tour.  Click here to see how mean I was.

Well, this month did not go as planned.  My NaNo word count is only at just over 18,000.  I'm sort of sad that I didn't do more, but happy I did as much as I did.  I don't want it to be a total NaNo bust, though, so, I'm going to make a new goal for myself.  I'm going to try to do a half-nano and get to 25,000 words before the month is out.

Who's with me?  How are you doing on your NaNo word count?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some Days I Want to Give Up, But Nathan Fillion Keeps Me Going

I know I usually blog about Castle and Hawaii Five-O on Tuesdays, but I have to get something off my chest first.

Sometimes I want to give up writing.  It's hard to find time for it, only to stress over it, and pour your heart into it and wonder if it's any good.  It's hard to have people give you harsh reviews on something you love, and it's hard to have people write you mean emails when you're just trying to do your best.  It's true, I'm not the best writer in the world, (unless you're talking to my parents, family, or my best friends and fans) but I love my stories and most of the time I love sharing them.  Please, if you're ever tempted to write an email or a cutting review, remember there's a real live person on the other end of that who will read it, obsess about it, and maybe even cry over it.  So, be gentle.  Be kind.  You can be honest, but be constructive.  Do unto others and all that.  (There is always an upside to writing, of course, and I do love that there's balance, but sometimes the bad is hard to take.  I apologize if this sounds like whining, but I really did need to get that off my chest.)

*deep breath*

Okay, Castle.  Last night's show felt a little reminiscent of the 3XK storyline, but I still liked it.  Castle is very resourceful and I love the dynamic between him and Beckett.  I love that he calls her Kate.  I love how the sparks still fly when they're together and the arguing about the parents was funny.  Even Gates is starting to fit in better.  Although my son that was watching mentioned to me that you don't need a code on a phone to make an emergency phone call.  So, oops on that I guess.  But Castle's effort to decode the password was funny.  Oh, and I found this on Facebook last night.  I think it will definitely help my sagging word count (and sagging spirits) if I hang it by my desk.

Let's just look at that a little longer, shall we?

*le sigh*  Maybe I should write.  Nathan Fillion (aka Castle) wants me to.  No matter what anyone else says.

Oh yeah, Hawaii Five-O.  Dang good last night.  I love kick-butt Kono, and the guys worrying about her. Poor Chin.  He's had a tough couple of months.  But all's well.  Super Steve took care of business and Kono mopped it up.  (Those masks the kidnappers wore were seriously creepy.  *shiver*)  And did you recognize the actor that played the dad?  Bueller?  Bueller?

I seriously love Monday nights.

So, do you have a picture that motivates you as well as the one posted above?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review Checkin' It Twice

I apologize for being late with my post today.  It was my birthday over the weekend and I partied hard every day and had a chocolate hangover this morning.

But I am excited to tell you about a book that got me into the holiday spirit.  Those of you who know me, you know I feel annoyed by Christmas music when it starts long before December and I feel all Bah Humbug until we're at least past Thanksgiving.  But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Checkin' It Twice.  It's a compilation of short Christmas stories and has something for everyone's taste.

I liked that some of the stories were spiritual, some were fun, some brought a tear to my eye, but all of them were ones I could read to my kids and we would walk away feeling good.  I'm always on the lookout for new Christmas stories we can add to our yearly Christmas readings and this one definitely had a couple that fit us.  I tried to choose my favorites, but honestly, they all had something to love about them.

It was a cute book full of Christmas cheer and it definitely got me in the Christmas spirit.

Here is the back copy:

Can Santa learn a lesson from the Savior?
Can a foreign exchange student help you see Christmas a little more clearly?
Do things really look better from a distance?
And just how many holiday ornaments does one woman need?

Get in the Christmas Spirit with Volume 2 of award-winning stories from LDS Publisher's 2010 and 2011 Christmas Story Contests! Sixteen short stories from popular LDS authors to help you remember the reason for the season!

Buy on Amazon or find out more at the website

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ms. Shreditor Goes to the National Book Awards

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the National Book Awards Finalists Reading. I thought that, in lieu of a critique this week, I’d talk a bit about the experience.

The National Book Awards are always on my radar. I try to read the Pulitzer and National Book Award fiction winners every year. These awards are on every publishing professional’s radar, but getting nominated is no easy feat. Some five hundred books are submitted in each category, and only five become finalists. Those five hundred submitted titles aren’t even a fraction of the number of published books in a given year. This year’s awards were particularly special for me, because an editor I know beat those insane odds and saw a title nominated.

So there I sat in the New School auditorium, within spitting distance of the twenty nominees whose books made it from their hard drives to one of the biggest stages in the American book world. Each nominee read a short excerpt. It isn’t until you hear an author read his or her work out loud that you realize you’ve been reading it wrong. There are cadences you’ve missed as your eyes scanned the page, subtle sleights of pen that you can’t pick up on unless you’re actually hearing the words. This is particularly true of the poetry. No matter how you read it on the page, it takes on new meaning when the poet reads it as he or she intended it to sound.

What struck me about the authors in all categories was their sheer virtuosity with language. As they read their work aloud, I could tell that they’d read it aloud to themselves as they wrote it. Their prose knew when to stop and start and stop again; their em dashes and commas became the literary equivalent of musical rests in their compositions. They understood how their words would sound, how they would resonate, how even a single word or phrase could be monumental to the story at hand.

It’s dizzying to consider all of the pieces that had to fall in place, just so, to bring these books to the top of the heap. It’s not just that the writing was daring and beautiful and intense; the books also fell into the right hands at the right time. And this is the single most important thing I can convey to you in light of this experience: Even for these literary masters, it took time for their books to see the light of day, to fall into the right hands at the right time. When you submit, the odds can seem against you. I’m sure most of the authors in the room that night never thought that their titles were going to rise from the stacks to become permanent fixtures in American literature. Before they were dazzling audiences with their words, these people sat bleary-eyed in front of a computer or notebook and agonized over every sentence. Most of them faced rejections. Some of them probably considered giving up.

In other words, they were, and still are, just like you.

It’s the authors who keep plugging away at it who increase their odds of making it to the top of that slush pile, or scoring the high-profile agent, or piquing a top editor’s interest. So please keep writing. Perhaps even more importantly, keep reading. And, whatever you do, don’t let those odds daunt you. If you’re reading this blog, you likely know someone who has scored a book deal or self-published a book. So you know it’s not impossible. It is, however, hard work, so step away from this blog now and get back to your work in progress!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Re-Gifting Yay or Nay & Coughing Through a Blog Tour

Well, just when I think I'm getting better, the dang cough comes back with a vengeance.  I think it's related to my muse, who seems to come and go with varying strengths.  It has taught me that typing while coughing is difficult.  *sigh*

Anyway, I've been hinting at this blog tour I'm doing for All Fall Down and today I wanted to post it here so you could all join in the fun.  (I've had three stops already!) And if that wasn't enough, I also got a bonus review from Rebecca Talley here.  It's my birthday this weekend, and so far, I'm feeling like it's raining presents.  Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed my book.  It is greatly appreciated.

Here's the full tour:

Blog Tour Schedule

November 12: The Book Bug - Kickoff + Giveaway
November 13: I Love to Read and Review Books :) - Review and Giveaway
November 14: Getting Your Read On - Review and Giveaway
November 15: Literary Time Out - Review and Giveaway
November 16: The Book Bug - Author Guest Post and Giveaway
November 19: Geo Librarian - Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway
November 19: LDS & Lovin' It - Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway
November 19: Jinky Is Reading - Review and Giveaway
November 20: Inksplasher - Review and Giveaway
November 22: Happy Thanksgiving!
November 23: Gamila's Reviews - Review and Giveaway
November 26: Brooklyn Berry Designs - Review and Giveaway
November 27: Books Are Sanity - Review and Giveaway
November 28: Debbie's Inkspectations - Review and Giveaway
November 29: The Book Bug - Review and Giveaway
December 3: Bloggin' Bout Books - Review and Giveaway

And if you wanted to participate in the giveaway for:

  • (2) "Book Lovers'" baskets which include a copy of All Fall Down, a hand tied lap blanket, Julie's favorite hot chocolate mix, and a copy of Janice Sperry's Christmas novella, The Candy Cane Queen
  • (3) Print copies of All Fall Down
  • (2) Ebook copies of All Fall Down
You can enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you enter.  I already know I have the best bloggy friends around, but hey, Christmas is right around the corner and you could win an early Christmas gift for yourself.

Which brings me to my question of the day.  If you buy or receive as a gift a physical book (as opposed to an ebook), and read it, do you ever re-gift it?  Is that considered bad manners or are books okay?  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ready, Set, Go!

Are you ready to sprint?  Meet me back here in fifteen minutes and we'll see how you're doing.  Ready, set, GO!

What I've Learned From NaNo So Far & Word Count Wednesday

Have you clicked on The Book Bug yet to enter the contest for a Book Lover's Basket? Hurry and do it!

So, this is my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I'm doing okay.  I've got over 15,000 words and while I don't know if I'll make the 50,000 word goal, I'm happy with what I've learned from NaNo so far.

I've learned that I can turn my inner editor off and just write.  I haven't gone back to edit anything since I started this NaNo novel.

I've learned that writing sprints are very motivating for me and even when I have no idea what I'm going to write, my muse shows up and my fingers fly.  We're doing another one tonight at 8 p.m. if anyone wants to join us.

I've also learned that no one talks to me.  For some reason I had the idea that there was a NaNo community and people would buddy me and talk to me.  But sadly, I've not had anyone talk to me.  It's a little lonely.  Maybe I just imagined that this would be more of a cheerleading type joint effort to get that 50,000 words.  Maybe my expectations were too high.  But, no matter, since I have my bloggy friends to talk about it with, right?

How did your word count go this week?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Castle, Hawaii Five-O, & Book Tours, Oh My!

Before I get into my thoughts on last night's shows, I have some very exciting news for you!  My book, All Fall Down, is officially on tour!  I'm thrilled because this is my very first official blog tour and I have to say, Lexie Hogan has done an amazing job.  But why should you care about that, you ask?  Well, in addition to hearing what others think of the book (you can go to I Love to Read and Review Books for today's stop)  there are SEVEN prizes being given away and you have a good chance of winning.  Two of them are Book Lover's Baskets with a lap blanket hand-tied by me, but also my favorite hot chocolate, a copy of All Fall Down AND a copy of Janice Sperry's new Christmas booklet, The Candy Cane Queen.  You can click on The Book Bug to enter.  So, don't wait!

All right, on to last night's shows.  I want to start with Hawaii Five-O because wow, it blew me away last night.  (With the bombs, get it? Haha.  Sorry.)  Anyway, we have a terrorist cell on the loose in Hawaii and one bomb has already gone off (and killed the bomber.  Which was so gross that they showed the parts.  Ew).  Anyway, the race to save the Secretary of Defense, the finding of Farouk, really kept up the tension.  But the highlight of the show was Danny sharing his 9/11 experience with Steve and the impact it had on his life.  Scott Caan was incredible in that segment, his anger, frustration, and true sorrow showing in every movement.  It also explains a bit about his approach to cases when you consider that his partner was murdered right next to him.  And he named his daughter Grace after her. Awww.  Love, love, love last night's show.  The bro-hug between Steve and Danny after they don't die from the bomb was great.  Those two have such a wonderful friendship.  There's no way Steve would have left him to die, but I see why Danny would want him to leave, in order to live and be able to take care of his daughter since he couldn't.  *le sigh*  (As an aside, did you hear that Alex O'Loughlin and his girlfriend had a son last month and they announced his name.  *drum roll*  It's Lion.  Lion O'Loughlin.)  So, to sum up, incredible show last night and great insight into our characters.

Castle was also good.  Esposito totally stole the show mugging for the cameras.  The look on Ryan's face each time Espo did something else over the top was a riot.  "That shirt looks really tight. Did you change?"  "I um, spilled something on it."  Haha.  *wipes tear*

Castle was his usual self, throwing out theories, trying to pull Beckett out of her shell.  Her shying away from the camera was metaphorical in a sense, and Castle brought that out when he talked about her walls.  Loved that.  His little face touch being caught on camera was cute, too.  Captain Gates still annoys me, she's still a bit too phony, but it's getting better.  Lainey saying how worth it was worth it to come down was great, too.  Everyone did such a fantastic job with the storyline, it was fun to watch.  And the case itself had so many twists and turns it kept me riveted.

So, all around great night of TV for me.  Did you watch any of it?  What are you doing with your Monday nights these days?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review & Interview Secrets of the Red Box

I'm excited to be part of a blog tour for Secrets of the Red Box by Vickie Hall.  This was an interesting book for me.  It wasn't one that kept me up late at night reading, but there was a steady thread of tension that kept me coming back to it.  It's like a large mud puddle, once you step in it, you are softly sucked in until you lose yourself (or at least your shoe) in it.

The main character, Bonnie, is running away from her secrets, her deeds, and her life.  She's suffered a lot through an abusive childhood and her choices haven't been the best since she reached adulthood.  She runs away to Omaha where she meets a family that is the epitome of everything she wished she could have had as a child.  Her lies begin to unravel and her old life comes back to haunt her forcing her to face what she's done and who she's been.  The question is, can she overcome it?

We also have a parallel story with our hero Glen.  We are introduced to him as he's serving in World War II.  He's doing his best to survive and help his friend Charlie survive as well.  The horror of war has scarred him and the experiences he has there are particularly well-written.  I actually found myself wanting to skip over some of Bonnie's story to get back to Glen's.  But once he's home, the story picks up with the two of them as they try to heal from their emotional wounds.  

There was a lot of great imagery in the book and I enjoyed how much the secondary characters fleshed out the story.  It definitely could have used a good edit, but the author does have a gift for turn of phrase.  I would classify it as a slow suspense, one you'd want to read on a snowy winter afternoon.  

I was lucky enough to snag an interview with the author, Vickie Hall.  Some of her answers surprised me and that's hard to do with all the authors I know.

1.  What inspired you to write this book?

An event that happened to my father. I can't reveal that event without tipping my hand to the plot! But it was something I thought about over the years and decided it should make a pretty good story.

2.  If you had to describe the book in eight words, what would you say?

A riveting tale of deceit and redemptive love.

3.  Can you tell us what your writing process is?  Do you write daily?  Morning?  Evening?

I'm a combination of a plotter and a pantzer. I plot the basic story line, the beginning, middel and end. Then I write by the seat of my pants for the rest.  Because I work a full-time job, I write at night and on the weekends. I try to write every day and miss it when I don't.

4.  If you could be one of your characters, who would you be?

I think it would be Irene Orton. She is a loving, gentle soul who influences Bonnie (the protagonist) with her sweet example. She's a loving mother and wife, and a wonderful friend to Bonnie. I want to be more like Irene.

5.  What is the best writing tip you ever received?

Years ago, I was reading about Charles Dickens. He offered some writing advice that has been with me ever since (in fact I did a needlepoint picture of it and it hangs in my office): Make then laugh, make them cry, make them wait.

6.  What are you working on now?

I'm working on a fun project now about a fake medium in 1910 Baltimore who receives a visit from a murdered man's ghost and gets pulled into finding his murderer. It's light and funny and quite different than anything I've written before!

7.  If you weren't a writer, what would you be?

It would still have to be something in the creative field. I write music and have always wanted to score a movie - that would be awesome. If not that, I would love to be a graphic artist. I dipped my toe into this pool, with designing the cover for Secrets of the Red Box!
8.  What is something unique about you that your readers don't know? 

I have what is called a pronated hip. This allows me to turn my right foot 180 degrees to the back so it looks like my foot was put on backward! Pretty unique I'd say!

Thank you so much for the interview, Vickie!  

Here is the back copy for the book:

Bonnie has secrets to keep - secrets with the potential to destroy lives, including her own. Running from her destructive and pain filled past, she recreates herself, believing she has escaped the damning evidence hidden in the red box. When her former life is revealed by a cruel twist of fate, Bonnie faces losing everything, including Glen, the only man she’s ever loved. But is Bonnie the woman he thinks she is? Set against the backdrop of the 1940s, Secrets of the Red Box is filled with intrigue and suspense - sure to keep you guessing to the very end!

Purchase Link: Amazon 

Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway for
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card or $25 PayPal Cash from Author Vickie Hall + copy of Secrets of the Red Box (US - Paperback, Kindle ebook - International)
  • Paperback copy of Secrets of the Red Box (US only)
  • Kindle Ebook copy of Secrets of the Red Box (International)

Author Vickie Hall

Vickie is a native of Utah, but growing up, lived in the states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska. When she's not writing, she's composing music, or shopping with her sister. She loves animals of all kinds and camping with her family. Her favorite pastime is watching old movies on TCM, and unashamedly has a crush on Cary Grant.

Links: Blog * Website * Facebook * Goodreads

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembering Veterans

I just wanted to post on this very special day and thank those who serve our country.  I am so proud of everyone who makes the choice to do something larger than themselves in protecting the rights and freedoms we all enjoy.  My grandfather lived through two tours in the Korean war, was awarded many medals, including one from the President of the United States, but he didn't let the horror of war define him.  He came home and volunteered for veterans' organizations to help others, and in the year of his death he was voted Volunteer of the Year for all the work he'd done for his community.  That's the example I would like to follow.  Paying it forward.  Doing my part.

So, today, I would like to honor all veterans who have given of their time and have sacrificed much.  I hope to honor you in return by volunteering, supporting, and doing what I can to make sure veterans are not forgotten.

We remember.

Friday, November 9, 2012

First Page Friday

I am so glad to have Ms. Shreditor back.  As you know she was without power because of Hurricane Sandy and to tell you the truth I was worried for her.  But all is well, she is safe, power is restored, and First Page Friday is back.  Welcome back, Ms. Shreditor.  I'm glad you're safe.

We have one spot left in November's First Page Friday so if you submit today, you can have it critiqued the last Friday in November.  So hurry!  Tell your friends!

And thank you to Kristen for her submission and for Ms. Shreditor's hard work.  See you next week!

The Entry
A Second Chance
by Kristen Morie

The day the world ended started just like any other.

 I fought to keep my eyes open during calculus at eight in the morning. That weekend had been fun, but I probably shouldn’t have stayed up so late each night. The obnoxious flickering bulb above my head in the lecture hall wasn’t helping.
Then again, it was college. I was supposed to have fun and stay up, wasn’t I? And fall break was starting. I would get to go home tomorrow on my first vacation after starting at the University of Rutland, in Vermont.
 “Hey, Raquel.”  
 I regarded the guy next to me sleepily, surprised that he knew my name. He clearly hadn’t shaved in a while, and he was staring at me with wide eyes. “What?” I whispered back. The professor droned on about derivatives.
 “Is it bad if your heart beating makes your vision flicker?”
 I stared at him for a second before it clicked. “That’s the bulb.” I pointed up, stifling a laugh. “Not your heart.” Although it was probably bad that his heart was beating that fast, but I figured he was freaked out enough.
He looked up too. “Oh.” I sighed, wondering how high he was, and went back to fighting to stay awake through Calculus and the writing class that followed. Gray skies shone through the windows. I missed the sun.  

I didn’t see the sky again until I entered the academic quad, heading over to the dining hall for lunch. I was planning on meeting my roommate Elsie, who was going to bring over Matt. I grinned at the thought of it. Matt was a great-looking guy, and it was about time I found a boyfriend in college. Being alone was starting to suck, parties or not.

My phone rang in my pocket and I was about to answer it when someone shouted. I looked up, as everyone else was.
 “What the hell?” the bearded guy said aloud as he left the building behind me. The sky pulsed green.
“Tornado!” a girl shouted, a midwestern twang in her accent. Do we even get tornadoes in Vermont?
Then fire and ash struck from the sky, a boulder the size of a car slamming the ground next to me.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

The first sentence certainly makes a big splash. It lets us know right off the bat that something big is on the horizon, but it feels somewhat cliché. As I read this first page, my developmental editing instincts kicked in and I found myself restructuring the page so that the story opened with the fire and ash falling from the sky. The existing first sentence is a generic scrap of foreshadowing, but the fire and ash are vivid. Of course, restructuring in this fashion would eliminate the classroom scene, so it’s a tough call to make, especially if the bearded guy is going to be a central figure later in the story. If you decide to keep the structure as is, rework the first sentence so that it stands out on a shelf of other post-apocalyptic YA fiction.

This first page makes effective use of minute details. The flickering bulb is a really effective device. It reads to me like a subtle harbinger of the imminent chaos, and I like it much better than the “end of the world” anvil at the beginning of the chapter. There’s also the “tornado girl” and her midwestern twang. (Note: You can delete “in her accent” in that sentence. It’s implied in the “twang.” Similarly, you can delete “aloud” from “said aloud” when the bearded guy speaks. Again, it’s implied by the word “said.”) Infuse the story with lots of details like this. They make for a much more immersive reading experience.

I’m assuming that the University of Rutland is a fictional setting. If memory serves me, the only college in Rutland is the College of St. Joseph. (Incidentally, I drove through Rutland just a few weeks ago.) I initially questioned the idea of a fall break, as this wasn’t the norm back in my day. Some quick research told me that a lot of colleges have been adding them, though, so I learned something new!

Consider doing more to root your reader in the setting. As Raquel is walking across the quad, mention the Green Mountains or, if it’s early October, the fall foliage or the first frost. (Also, in case any readers wanted an answer to Raquel’s unspoken question in the second-to-last paragraph: A tornado touched down in Vermont earlier this year. It’s a rare event, but even the northeast isn’t immune to twisters.)

Lastly, I think that Raquel needs more dimension. All we know about her is that she’s stayed out late partying and that, for reasons unclear, it’s “time” for her to find a boyfriend. If readers are to connect with her character, I think she has to aspire to something more than a romantic relationship. She has to bring something of her own to the table for two reasons: 1) to differentiate her from the sea of nondescript heroines in the YA marketplace, and 2) so that any romantic relationship in her future doesn’t fall flat. There has to be more at stake for her internally than a vague desire to find a boyfriend. It goes without saying that you care deeply about your heroine, so the name of the game is bringing out the pieces of her (both good and bad) that will resonate most deeply with readers. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Motivational Quotes for Writers

So, most of you know I've been struggling a bit with my NaNoWriMo word count.  But last night, as I dragged myself to the computer desk (I'm still sick with this rotten cough and cold) I thought to myself, this is going to be horrible.  I have nothing in my brain and my outline looks ridiculous.  But I sat there, knowing that Debra Erfert was also sprinting with me and I'd have to account to her in fifteen minutes.

So I started writing.

It was slow going at first, I only got 494 words in the first fifteen minutes, but after that, it's like my brain turned on and the words just started flowing out of me, the slow trickle turning into a river that started moving faster and faster until by the end of the hour I'd written two chapters and over 2600 words.  I was so happy, you can't even imagine.  And the next scenes were crowding into my mind that I know today will be a good writing day as well.

It's funny how a little jumpstart and some accountability can change things.  (Thanks Debra!  I hope we can do it again next week!)

Another thing that always helps me is getting out some of my favorite motivational quotes.  I am sharing my top eight with you today.  Please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments.

"Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strength.  When you go through hardship and decide not to surrender, that is strength." - Anonymous

“Really great people make you feel that you, too can become great.” Mark Twain

"Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul." - Douglas MacArthur

"The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE.  Keep this constantly in mind.  Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat." - Napolean Hill

"Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it." - Horace Mann

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” -Mark Twain

“To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.” -Anne Rice

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” -Ray Bradbury

There is just something inspiring about reading quotes like that.  It makes me think I can really do this.  I hope you feel the same.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ready, Set, GO!

Okay, starting now we're going to sprint for one hour, but come here and check in at fifteen minute intervals. See you in fifteen!

We're Sprinting in Eight Minutes---Come Join Us!

We're sprinting in eight minutes, which means that we'll be checking in with word count every fifteen minutes.  I know I need a little NaNo jumpstart and I think this will be just the thing.

Come join us!

NaNo Check In--How You Doin'?

Well, it's been a fairly productive week.  I've logged over 8200 words and I was doing so good until Sunday came.  I never write on Sundays and I didn't this last weekend, but come Monday, I was struggling to get back into my story.  I'd marched forward so well until then, I assumed that would continue.

Monday I ground out two more chapters, but Tuesday left me with no motivation.  Today I've been hemming and hawing and trying to sit down and write something coherent.  So far, it's not been pretty.

So, here's my question to you---when you have momentum going, then something stops it, how do you get it going again?  And also, how are you doing with your word count so far?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Oh Castle You Were Doing So Well . . .

Well, I had nothing but gushing praise for last week's episode, but this week . . . meh.  I called who the killer was in the beginning (although I didn't see the best friend's boyfriend's crush) and Castle was acting like a first season man-boy.  It was also a little rehash of when Beckett was investigating the soap opera case and she was a fan, but was embarrassed about it to Castle.  Too much of the same.  Come on, writers, I know you can do better.

Like, when is Castle going to find out how much of a fan of his books Beckett really was and how reading his novels got her through her mother's death?  (As we found out from her old boyfriend). That could be such a fun and emotional show.  No need for Castle to look so goofy all the time.

And the thing with Alexis being barely dressed and Castle seeing her?  Felt so throwaway.  I was embarrassed for that one.  Oy.  And where can I start with Ryan's wardrobe choices from last night?  Just no.  Please stop with the weird jackets and vests.  Last night hurt my eyes to look at him.

The only redeeming quality to me about last night's show was the final scene.  That little dance in Castle's room and the mask was HILARIOUS!  In that one little scene they made the whole show feel like less of a drain.  Other than that, it wasn't one of my favorites.

Do you hate when shows rehash old themes from previous episodes?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review: The Reluctant Bachelorette

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson is billed as a romantic comedy and it really is.  I loved the shenanigans, the main character and the setting.  It's a really fun, light-hearted read.

We first meet Taycee Emerson who runs a flower shop in her hometown.  She loves her job, but her hometown full of farmers is slowly dying so her best friend comes up with a fundraising plan of doing a bachelorette show---and surprise! Taycee is the chosen star of the show.  Everything probably would have been fine until her high school crush Luke Carney strolls back into town and onto the show.  The hijinks begin with Taycee doing everything she can to get him thrown off and Luke not taking it lying down.

Even though there is a lot of sigh-worthy romance, there are also family situations and secondary characters who round out the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance.  (I also loved the cover and when she had people voting on her website, this is the one I chose.  It matches the story so well!)

Here's the back copy:

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge. But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are You Brave Enough to Post A Page From Nano?

Jon Spell made the suggestion that we post the first page from the Nano novels we're working on.  Some said no way, it was unedited stuff that they couldn't post.  Others said, sure, why not.  So I'm opening up this thread for anyone who wants to post a page from their Nano novel for others to read/comment on.

And here's mine:  (Keep in mind it's my raw, unedited NaNo work.)  :)

Colby got out of his car and shut the door, leaning against it for a moment.  He was exhausted.  They’d been on a domestic violence call that had turned into a hostage situation that hadn’t ended well.  All Colby wanted to do was crawl in his bed, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to close his eyes.  The image of the wife dead in her living room would live with him for a long time.
            He pushed off and started up the walk to his house.  He’d never dreamed he’d still be living in his childhood home, but when his parents had died, they’d left it to him and it provided an inner security for him that he’d never been able to recreate anywhere else.  He took the steps up to the front porch two at a time, but stopped.  Smoke.  He could smell smoke.
            The tiredness in his body melted away as his heart began to beat faster.  Vaulting over the small wall that surrounded the porch, he went around back.  The smell got stronger the faster he moved and he realized it was coming from the old Carney house next door. 
            Colby crossed the lawn and pulled open the screen door.  The Carney family had moved out of the home years ago and several different renters had been there since then.  With Colby’s crazy work hours, though, he had no idea who lived there now.  He banged on the front door.  “Hello? Is anyone home?”
            There was no answer.
           The smell of smoke was stronger now and Colby circled the house.  He hopped the fence and saw the flames from the side window.  The kitchen was on fire.  Fishing his cell phone from his pants pocket, he quickly dialed 911.  Assuring himself that emergency personnel were on the way, he crept closer, peering in the windows.  The smoke was thick and flames were licking the oak kitchen cupboards that old man Carney had spent hours refinishing himself.  The fire was greedy and was making its way toward the ceiling. 

Okay, I showed you mine, now let's see yours.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

First Page Friday

As all of you know, Hurricane Sandy blew onto U.S. soil this week and left thousands without power, heat, and basic necessities.  I have many friends and some family on the East coast and I've been anxiously monitoring their well-being.  Ms. Shreditor is one of those friends.  She still has no power, but has found shelter and is okay.  My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this storm.

Because of her situation, Ms. Shreditor was unable to do First Page Friday this week, but Jordan McCollum graciously stepped in.  I appreciate everyone who has helped make this blog feature a success.  I hope you tell your friends about it.  We still have one opening in November.

On to First Page Friday!

The Entry
by Karen Edwards

Journal Entry: Tuesday, December 14
The kid looked like a dog sh*tting razor blades and no wonder; it was nut-numbing cold out there last night. Mid-December, thirty-seven raw degrees and raining, and here’s this kid in jeans and a nylon windbreaker, head down, staring at his shoes.
I was worried for the kid, that’s why I pulled over. This was in Bad Axe past the tracks, at the corner of Oak Street and Vine. I opened the driver’s side window half-way and called out, “Hey!”
He looked up and I waved him over. He crossed the street and stopped two feet from my van.
 “Are you okay?” I asked. I tried not to look at the snot running out of his nose.
 He took a step closer. “Maybe. Are you a cop?” Shivering.
“Nope,” I said. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” he answered, hands shoved deep into his blue jean pockets, brown hair plastered to his head.
He didn’t look all right to me.
“Do you want to come in for a minute to get warm?” I felt sorry for the kid; that’s why I offered.
“You sure you’re not a cop? You have to tell me. I think it’s the law.”
 “I’m not a cop,” I said. “Hop in.”
“Okay, then.” He walked around the van to the passenger side, climbed in and pulled the door shut.
 “It’s not the law, you know,” I said, cranking up the heat. “Cops work undercover all the time.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot.” He smiled and rubbed his hands together in front of the heater vent.
 He looked all of fifteen, not that it mattered because I wasn’t going to do anything. Wouldn’t. For one thing, I don’t mess with jail bait. For another, I prefer the ladies.
I waited for him to say something else and finally, he did.

Jordan's Comments

The Good

This piece has great voice! It grabs you right away and gives the reader a sense of "authority," that this character (and the author) is confident in himself, and in his story (I'm assuming the narrator is a man) and how to tell it. You set up an interesting situation here, and I really want to know what the kid says next!

I love this mode of storytelling. As a journal (as with a letter), this is classified as an epistolary novel, which gives you license for all the interpretation and introspection your readers can stand ;) . The challenges with an epistolary novel, however, are that some readers find recounting of full scenes less realistic in epistolary fiction (though by and large few have a problem with it). It can be also difficult at times to switch or differentiate between the mode of hindsight/reflection and recounting in-the-moment thoughts.

Since he's obviously writing about this after the fact, we know that the narrator survives to write the tale, which might be somewhat problematic since readers might have a hard time believing the character is ever in true danger if he lived to tell about it. I mention this specifically because it feels like you're setting up a mystery or suspense novel with the setting and the voice, although that may not be the case, and often the main character's jeopardy plays a big role in that genre.

I just wanted to note that I especially liked the voice when the character says "Wouldn't." It feels so natural, because that's how so many people speak.

The only real line edit problem I noticed is the echo structure between "I was worried for the kid, that’s why I pulled over." and "I felt sorry for the kid; that’s why I offered." It's fantastic for a character to have regular patterns of speech and turns of phrase that we can recognize in their voice--but using them so close together here feels too repetitive.


Obviously this is a personal decision, but be aware that some readers (even in the national audience) are offended by swearing, especially in the opening line. Perhaps those readers aren't who you want in your audience, and you might be setting the tone of the piece. If you're going to turn off a portion of your potential readership in the opening line, just be aware of that possibility.

I want to be able to assume that the narrator isn't a pedophile without being told that. The problem with stating it out right in this way is that it can almost come off as if the narrator is "protesting too much." One possible way to handle this might be through dialogue with the kid, since I'm sure if this is contemporary, that at least crosses the kid's mind. Then simply "I prefer the ladies." I believe the default setting for most adult men (although we can't be sure of the narrator's exact age) isn't under-aged girls, and the need to specify that comes off as if it's actually crossing his mind. Since the narrator has the benefit of hindsight here, 

One other challenge with all first person stories is working the character's name in early. I'm hoping/assuming he'll introduce himself to the kid soon, so we can have a name for both characters. No matter how well we know the character's voice, there's always a little something extra that comes from anchoring that voice into a person with a name and a physical appearance. And that's always a challenge in first person!