Monday, February 13, 2012

Yay! another blog fest.

So I signed up for Hook Line and Sinker over at In My Write Mind, and I'm a bit late posting for it (sorry). Things are crazy busy here, so don't worry if I'm not responding, I'll be back more towards the end of the day, I promise.

So the premise of Hook Line & Sinker is simple, do the first 500-1000 words of my WIP convince you to read the rest of the story (or at least chapter).

Here are some helpful questions to think about at the end.

  • Does the character have a personality you can fall into easily? Or at least one that you would like to learn more about?
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Too much setting or not enough?
  • Lastly, would you read more? 
Also, if you leave me a link, I'll return the favor even if you didn't sign up for the blog fest (but you really ought to go sign up.

So here's the first 990 words of WIP





A solid decade sat between me and the last time I’d slept in. My daughter, Allyson, poked me in the back, yanking me from happy-go-lucky dream land into the real world. And last night was a prime example of the real world: nightmares at eleven, cups of water at two, and now who knew.

“Mommy?” she whispered, without actually lowering the volume of her voice. 

The clock display blinked 6:15 at me. My muzzy mind took a moment to comprehend the numbers. The clock just couldn’t be right. 6:15 was only fifteen minutes before Jeff needed to leave for his Wall-Street-In-Albuquerque job. “Shit!” I said, suddenly coming fully awake. I slapped Jeff on the arm.

“Huh? What?” 

“Jeff, your alarm didn’t go off,” I said, flying out of the bed past Allyson. 

“Lori, I told you I have to be on time today.” 

I bit back my first response, and inserted my our-daughter-is-listening voice. “I thought you’d set your alarm,” I said. 

Jeff scowled at me. The tension in his shoulders rivaled the shocks on a monster truck. “If you hadn’t woken me up so much last night.”

“Excuse me,” I said in that warning tone. 

Jeff pursed his lips. “Well, you didn’t have to roll around so much.” 

“You mean after taking care of our daughters, I should be more respectful of your sleep time?” I asked. He didn’t deign to answer, he just went to the bathroom and closed the door. 

“Mommy?” Allison asked again. 

“What, honey?” 

“Katie had an accident,” she said. 

My stomach tangled into a knot. Katie’s accidents were never pleasant. I braced myself and stepped into the girl’s room. The smell hit me first, unmistakably number two. 

This is my life. This is why I flushed my career down the toilet, so I could clean up poop before I got dressed in the morning.

Without comment I began containment. I ushered Katie to the bath, and gathered up the dirty laundry. As I stuffed the fouled bedding into the washing machine, Jeff came in. He was straightening the tie on his immaculate suit. I had narrowly missed shit-smears and hadn’t brushed my hair yet. I wasn’t even wearing a bra yet. There should be a law that says you get to put on your bra before taking care of poop-splosions. 

“What did you do with my keys?” he asked. 

Clearly, I hid them from you so I could have more time with your glowing personality, I thought. No, Lori, be more charitable. It’s as hard on him as it is on you. Just because you get all the gross jobs doesn’t mean he isn’t tired from the girl’s antics last night.
 
“They’re in the fridge where the girls put them last night,” I said.

He opened the fridge and made the ah-ha noise of discovery. “Ah, alright, I’ll see you later honey.” Jeff took his keys and slipped out through the garage door without so much as a kiss, leaving me in my pajamas, shitty-shitty-bang-bang in the bath, a preschooler angling for a cake breakfast, and no chance of a shower before I have to leave for work at the labs. 

And to think, this is the life I worked so hard to get my Ph.D. for…

I won’t lie, mornings and I haven’t gotten along since I was a freshman in college, but somehow—with the help of a strong cup of tea—I managed to get both kids to their separate daycares and me on the road to the labs (sans shower). There’s one nice thing about having a research job: the dress code. I’ve never worn makeup (do you think anything less than a full face shield could hide the bags under my eyes anyway?), and we can wear t-shirts on occasion. Well maybe the others can’t, but I’m still a post doc, so t-shirt and jeans with a pair of converse for me. Yeah, I’m thirty-five and I have yet to get a real job, behold the power of science.
 
I can’t listen to “my” music with the kids in the car, so I cranked it up while I tried to merge into the line of cars. The traffic formed up into four lines, and I waited for the congestion to lift. Something caught my eye, and without meaning to, I looked straight up just in time to see a bright, blue light smash into the front end of the car. 

My world became noise and that flip-floppy feeling from a roller coaster. My brain caught up, and I twisted the steering wheel in my hands trying to regain control of the car. A flash of red caught my eye, and I looked up to see the line of traffic soar above me. 

Oh crap, that’s below me. I am flying through the air. In a car. 

But cars don’t fly.

Oh shit. I’m going to die. 

I thought I was supposed to see something right before I died. Don’t people get to see their life flash before their eyes? Don’t I get some opportunity to make peace with the fact that I didn’t take any of those high powered research jobs and sank my career in favor of actually having children? Is this the extent of my chance to repent? Aren’t I supposed to feel that feeling of ‘it was all worth it for my children’ right now?

Whatever, I’m still pissed Jeff didn’t put his career on hold. It’s not like he put eight years into getting his degrees. He got his MBA at some sort of weekend conference as far as I can tell. He paid some girl to type up his thesis. I’m the one who worked my ass off, and for that I got to raise babies, get puked/pooped/peed on every day. That’s what I got. And when I tried to get back into my career, he wouldn’t even entertain moving locking me into my go no where post doc job. 

So much for inner peace.

18 comments:

  1. You might want to try starting it with the moment the car hits, and doing the rest as flashback, interspersed with moments spread through the accident. It would grab attention quicker, and create more of a sense of everything leading up to that point.

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    1. Hi Stu,
      You bring up a tough decision. I'm always seeing this bandied back and forth, the start with action that is meaningless because we don't know the characters yet, or risk being boring by letting us get to know the characters a little bit first. I admit that I struggle with knowing how to strike that balance.

      thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I'm pretty sure I sympathize with Lori, but I'm not sure I like her yet, in the moments before the accident. And in the moment of the accident, there's so much regret that I'm left feeling almost ill, like I took a wrong turn with this character. Maybe if we're given a few beats of how beautiful the kids can be or something sweet Jeff did recently or what kind of career Lori gave up and how much she loved it, maybe then I might care more for Lori's survival. Because right now there's just so much acidity in this piece that I'm left more uncomfortable and sickened than hooked. It's such a shitty situation that she's in that I feel so bad for her, but I don't see much that's likeable in her--or anyone in this piece! So, if you want me to turn the page to keep reading, then I just might, but only to see if it gets better, because God help us if it gets worse.

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    3. Hi Rob,

      Yeah, I was concerned I was painting her a little too over the top, and I can see that I have. She's upset and regretful, but I can see that it's a little too much too soon. Without understanding the whole thing, I can see that the paragraph where she's pissed at her husband is too much. I'll definitely be revising that.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. It's very well written, but I agree with Stu, I think his idea would give more impact to the reader. :D

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    1. Yeah, that's such a tough call. Thanks for putting your two cents in though, I really appreciate all feedback.

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  3. I really liked the intro, because I am a stay at home mother of a 3 yr old and 1 yr old. So I loved the voice, and honesty!! Here's my critique

    Your dialogue has too many "said". Movement and expressions are great between dialogue and also I prefer to read words that convey the emotion. We know she "said" this because of the quotes, what I want to know is did she scream it, mutter through her clenched teeth- you get the picture?

    Example:
    “Excuse me.” (I jerked my hands to my hips) OR (I snapped).
    Jeff pursed his lips. “Well, you didn’t have to roll around so much.”
    “You mean after taking care of our daughters, I should be more respectful of your sleep time?” (I narrowed my eyes) OR (I snarled). He didn’t deign to answer, he just went to the bathroom and closed the door.----Do you see the difference? "I said" is fine as long as it is used sparingly.

    The other thing that caught my eye was--"...and I twisted the steering wheel in my hands trying to regain control of the car."

    This is an intense moment with a big reaction- so you need strong words to convey that. Example-- I jerked the steering wheel in the opposite direction. Breath hitched in my throat and my hands dug into the vinyl, every muscle instictively flexing for the impact. (I would love just a bit more intensity)

    Lastly, I have to admit the last paragraph left me know longer relating to the character. I love the comedy of "I'm flying, oh wait, man- I'm totally going to die. But for her to be mad at her husband disconnected her from me. As much as I loved the voice, and completely related to her!!!!!- I would never think angry thoughts at a moment of possible death. I'd be regretting that I snapped at my hubs-no matter how deserving it was, and regretting not playing in the tub with my baby because I was worried about cleaning a mess.

    It would be a perfect part to take a fun relatable character- and make us LOVE her. It can still be funny thoughts. Quirky- I wish I had worn that stupid clown outfit my hubs thought was sexy and done his silly role playing. haha- just throwing random things out there that coud paint a funny picture and we could still love her :) Please cut the last paragraph which left me thinking (okay now I hate her, what a brat)--I really liked her and the voice, so please let me keep liking her? :) I wouldn't be so persistant if I didn't really like her voice :)

    As far as a hook...YEAH, HECK YEAH. it had comedy, quirk, relatable characters and conflict. Plus a unique and fun voice. I really like this piece, and typically I prefer action and fantasy-- so great job!

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    1. Yeah, that last paragraph. I went back and forth about it for a long time. I wanted it in, I wanted it out. i threw it in to see if I would get your reaction (which I did) which means, I need to change it up. I can see that you really got the rest of it, which tells me that I should change that paragraph for certain. Thanks for the feedback!

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  4. I like Lori's voice a lot. I think it is very real and biting but with enough snark that you still like her. I like books told in first person conversation mode and I think it works here really well. Because of that, I don't think you need to differentiate her feelings from her thoughts (in italics). I would absolutely read on- not only to find out what happens with this car wreck but to find out more about Lori.

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    1. Excellent point about the italics, and I'm really impressed that everyone jumped right onto the things that I've been really concerned with (good job, guys). I went with the italics because I had a few readers for another one of my books complain that they couldn't tell if I meant her thoughts or if I was just really crappy at present tense vs. past tense. Thoughts are present tense, narration is past tense. This confuses people sometimes, and I was using the italics to clear that up (just in case). Although, come to think of it, that novel did have actual present/past tense issue, so it was probably confusing. I'll look into it here.

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  5. Ok, cool. I liked this piece but I'm gonna have to echo stu. I wasn't sure if she hates her hubby and their marriage is on the rocks or if she was just being a morning person. Of course that is one reason why I would have gone on... I don't have an issue with the word said unless its obvious who said. Didn't bother me. thanks!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mitch. Yes, the marriage is on the rocks, and that adds to the conflict later (this is not a story about an unraveling relationship).

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  6. Nice job. I like and relate to her struggles and questions about parent vs career. I understand her intra-marital struggles. So yes, the character grabs me. The only thing that's off is all the thought during this accident... I've been in an accident similar to this... not a lot of thought going on until much later.

    That said, I would keep reading.

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    1. It's funny you mention the thinking during an accident. I've been in a few, and I always have the most ridiculous thoughts going on in the heat of the thing, and I was trying to capture that, but I've already decided that the second paragraph of that sequence isn't working.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. been there! great story =)
    need ending!

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  8. Great story!

    There is an award for you over at my blog! :)

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  9. Well, I'm sorry to say that I'm not entirely hooked yet, and maybe it's because I'm not your reader. Lori's voice was interesting, but at this point we've got a woman who's trying to manage a life with two fairly young daughters, a husband who doesn't appreciate the sacrifices that she's made for her family and who sh'e starting to resent, and a post-doctorate position at a university that she feels is a little beneath her, and she's gotten into a bad car accident. There's probably a good story that comes from that, but I'm not sure yet if it's a story that I want to put my time and effort into reading.

    One thing is that I'm not sure yet is what kind of story this is - is it about Lori coming to terms with her life, or about fighting the husband for custody of her daughters in a messy divorce while recovering from terrible injuries in the accident? Or some other big issue that I haven't picked up on yet? What matters most to Lori? What has she got to lose?

    And, since education is important to her - what's her specialty?

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Chris, and you're right, from this snippet (the first few pages) it's hard to tell what kind of story this is about to be, and I can see where it might seem like it's about to be a very serious kind of story, and it's not. Importantly, you'd have been able to see this from the back of the book blurb.

      This is the story of a (young) middle aged frumpy woman who becomes a bad ass super hero. It's about all the bullpucky that gets swept under the rug in most super hero tellings. She has a family, a mom, a father, children, she has everything to lose all the time. She doesn't have conveniently absent parents, or anything like that. She's about to be going through a divorce, protecting her children, learning that being a super hero isn't all roses, parades and glory, all while saving the galaxy.

      The reason her education is so important is that it becomes pivotal to her super powers. Her specialty is geoscience, but I don't think I ever mention it because it isn't that important.

      So yeah, I can see how the tone of the first few pages are very different from the tone of the rest of the book, but I think it's important to know where our characters are coming from before we can make them suffer properly.

      Thanks for your feed back Chris.

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