Monday, October 29, 2012

You decide: Woohoo or Boohoo

Recently, I've been lurking around on the Miss Snark's First Victim blogsite, trying to improve different aspects of my writing and hoping to score some interest from an agent.

So far,
But I'm not giving up.

This morning, the discovery of my first real rejection by an actual literary agent left me completely crushed. See, I'd entered a Secret Agent contest over at MSFV and posted the first 250 words of my story. Any Joe Schmo could leave comments and the Secret Agent would also. If s/he was interested, s/he would ask for more. Sadly, she did not love it. Or even like it. She said it was the worst possible way to start a story and had absolutely NO interest in reading more.

[insert snot-nosed crying and moaning here]

I was shocked. I really thought I had something...amazing. Not the snoozy bore she said wouldn't even encourage her to turn past page 1 (although others said they would definitely read on). I read all her comments on the other contestants' entries and found only a few harsher comments than what she wrote for me (and I agreed with her on most of those).
So, after my initial pity party and woe-is-me moment, I picked myself up, wiped away the tears and snot, and took another look at page 1. Keeping the suggestions of the other commenters in mind as well, I tried to see the story through fresh eyes. What I found shocked me.

They were right!

The issue most readers were having was something I'd been holding onto as the last reminent of the very first draft of my story (back when I was calling it Lily). I have now (for the bazillionth time) revised the first, oh, 400 words and really like the new version. I don't know if the Agent would feel the same (I doubt it), but hers is only one literary agent's opinion.

What is your opinion? Below is the revised first 250 words. (Okay, it's actually 257 words but I couldn't just leave it in mid-)

Abduction was never supposed to be part of the best weekend of my life – neither was dying – but then things seldom go according to my plans.

The weekend started out decent, at least. I stepped off the bus and out into the promise of freedom Friday afternoons held. I moseyed across the suburban road, happy to be home and even happier that Saturday was finally only one day away.

As I got closer to the front door, my daydream of how different this birthday would be from previous ones was interrupted by Mom’s voice. She was in there, toiling away to remove the imaginary layer of dirt she swore coated everything no matter how recently she’d cleaned it. A smile crept up my lips as I gripped the door handle. It was almost time for my ball and this Cinderella had handed in her broom for the weekend.

“Oh!” I cried as I stumbled forward. Strong arms caught me. Intending to apologize for my uncommon clumsiness, I looked up at the stranger holding me and inhaled sharply. “Do I…know you?”

I narrowed my eyes, trying to place his completely foreign yet uncannily familiar features. Tightening his hold, he glared at me, his brilliant green eyes reflecting the sunlight in an unusual halo around his pupil.

I tried to pull away from his grip, away from him and his measuring gaze. “Let me go,” I breathed. He scowled and pulled me closer. He leaned his face into my neck and, like an animal scenting its prey, he inhaled.

So, what do you think? Woohoo or Boohoo? And, if you care to compare, you can click here to read the other boohooed submitted version. Thanks for any feedback! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: SEND by Patty Blount

SendSend by Patty Blount
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a fan!

When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I tried to win a copy on several blog sites. Before I knew if I'd win, I begged my library to buy this book. They used to honor my requests right away, but for the past year or so, they've been denying most of them due to budget cuts. I was shocked when, two hours after I sent my request, the librarian in charge of adding new books to the catalog contacted me and said to look for it in mid-September. Well, it didn't come in until the end of September, but they did get it and I was the first to have their copy in my hands.

And I LOVED it!

The very first sentence grabbed me, and I knew I was in for a ride. And what a ride. Dan/Kenny is such a likeable character. You know he's supposed to be the bad guy, he messed up and is messed up after all, but you can't help but empathize with and sympathize for him. The secondary characters are well done, too. The mysteries behind everyone's lies continues until the very end, wrapping you up in their troubles and sorrows.

This story is about actions and consequences, mistakes and forgiveness. It's about bullying. Bullying doesn't have to physically push someone in the ground or take their lunch money or give them swirlies or wedgies. It can be done easily, thoughtlessly, and with just a word or a look. Or the click of a SEND button. In this electronic/digital age, the cyberworld holds whole bunches of new issues and problems for our kids to grow up with and deal with, cyber-bullying being one of the big ones. I'm constantly reminding my kids to 'think before you act' in the attempt to help them figure out their life and how they want to live it. The thing is, how many of you would have ever imagined posting an embarrassing picture on the internet would result in someone's death? That by laughing at someone--and getting others to laugh along with you--you were essentially pulling the trigger or tying the noose or dragging the blade or any other number of things people do to end their pain? Could you live with that guilt?

SEND is an amazing story that takes you on one boy's journey through his search for redemption and forgiveness. It's thought-provoking and masterfully done.

And I still want a copy to call my own. I'm trying to win one of the two copies up for grabs on Goodreads as of the posting of this review. If I don't win, this will be one book I plan to purchase to add to my collection--to reread for myself and to share with my kids as they get a little older.

**This book contains quite a bit of foul language (several f-bombs), mentions drug and alcohol abuse, and has a non-explicit sex scene.**

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: Hidden (Firelight#3) by Sophie Jordan

Hidden (Firelight, #3)Hidden by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe I have a thing against the end of a story...especially trilogies. Quite often, it seems the second book is just filler OR the final book just doesn't hold up to the awesomeness that was book 1 and book 2. Sometimes both. Now, I loved Firelight and Vanish. And I really, really wanted to love Hidden just as much. Unfortunately, I didn't.

One thing going for this book is that it is a quick read. After spending nearly a month trying to finish a 354-page book, I was able to finish this 260-page book in about 5 hours. The major problem was that most of story was spent going back and forth: caught then free, caught then free, caught then free; be with Will, let him go, be with Will, let him go, be with Will, let him go. It became kind of tedious. I wanted Jacinda to hurry up and get back to the Pride, but even then the same things happened. I also felt that there weren't any real twists or surprises to this story. There is one semi-surprise near the end, but it wasn't all that shocking. Several of the characters from book 1 and book 2 make a reappearance in book 3, but their parts are very limited. Also, there was one injury/death at the end of the book which I felt was not clarified (see, I don't even know if the person actually died or not).

All in all, I enjoyed reading this end to the series but it isn't one of my favorites by Sophie Jordan. The story does wrap up most of the issues Jacinda faced and has a mostly happy ending. If you've read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, I would recommend reading this to finish out the series...just don't expect to be blown away with the amazing awesomeness that was Firelight.

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