Thursday, May 31, 2012

Friday Feedb... Ah, Who Am I Kidding? :)

Me *cough* writing today...
Okay, so I am TOTALLY distracted by summer.

You may not think it's summer yet, but my regular (daily) open water season has started, my pool is open and (as of Saturday) will be swimmable, and the weather has been in the 80's.

See? Summer.

That's what I'm saying.

I don't care what the date says.

Or that I have a gazillion other, non-summery things to do.

I'm not a total slacker in the writing department, if I am a bit schizophrenic.

My writing spot today...

I was working on that new thing (that I was posting bits of here), but I am meeting my new editor in person next week (!!!) and panicked that I should probably be focused on all things Frankie Sky, so went back to my revisions on that.

I'll post a little "Frankie" for Friday Feedback this week and open the floor (or comments as the case may be) to you all just posting whatever you want - since I'm clearly scattered and brain-vacationing this week.

Before I do, here are two pieces of news:

Adorable Kate who is a force to be reckoned with
in MG writing
The first: For those of you who haven't seen me tweeting and/or facebooking this, starting NEXT WEEK, Friday Feedback will be an integral part of a very cool project for teachers -- a Virtual Summer Writing Camp -- being run by uber-awesome Picture Book, Chapter Book and Middle grade author Kate Messner (Over and Under the Snow, Sugar and Ice, etc...),

I will be collaborating with Kate along with amazing teacher and blogger (Teach Mentor Texts) Jen Vincent, who you may remember from HERE.

So hopefully, on Fridays during the summer, you'll find LOTS of posting action here, and I'd love you to chime in, following the basic Friday Feedback Rules: Post no more than 3 - 5 paragraphs (3 if long, 5 if short) and we will tell you:

• Does the piece "hook" you and make you want to keep reading? • What works for you, and why?

• What doesn’t work for you (if something doesn't) and why?

The second bit of news: I've seen a sneak peek at the THE PULL OF GRAVITY paperback cover! It's different and it's pretty awesome. It's too soon to post it -- plus, they're still tweaking some stuff -- but I really like it and it's making me pretty excited! I'll bring you a glimpse when I can.

Anyway, scattered or not, it is FRIDAY FEEDBACK, so get your excerpts out, and go ahead and tell me what you think of this little bit from Frankie, Chapter 5:

My hand moves reflexively to my throat, to my half of our shared heart pendant, but, of course, it’s not there. At the start of high school we agreed they were babyish, and not to wear them anymore.  

Still, the empty spot makes me nostalgic for the way things used to be.

Like this one time at Lisette’s house. We’re like 13 and it’s a long weekend, and I’m sleeping over a second night in a row. So, it almost feels like I live there. I remember this – how I keep thinking, I can pretend I live here, and I’m a Sutter now, not a Schnell. I have two older brothers who love me, and not a baby brother who has drowned.

Anyway, for most  of the day we’ve been playing this really dumb game we love even if we’re probably too old to still be playing it. The game is that we’re grown-up and married, and we have jobs and make-believe husbands. When we’re done with work, we come home and cook and clean for them and pretend talk to them the phone. We even pretend to make out with them, and, once, Lisette even pretended to have sex. I didn’t pretend out in the open, but I did in my head, which was exciting, even if I wasn’t brave enough to act it out like ‘Zette was.
- gae


  1. I love this, and am anxious to read more! I totally remember playing house as a kid and having a pretend husband. Thankfully, my real life husband is pretty great. :)

    Here's another excerpt from the same WIP:

    Whenever we went up to Pike’s Peak, either by cog train or Uncle John’s Jeep Cherokee, it reminded me of being on my daddy’s shoulders when I was little. Standing on the summit was like standing on the mountain’s shoulders—I always liked the view from Daddy’s shoulders—but the view from the mountain’s shoulders was breath-taking.

    When I was at the top of Pike’s Peak, I could see all the way to the end of the world. Up there, I climbed into God’s lap and whispered all my secrets into His ear. No judgement. No worries. Just peace and understanding. I would tell God things I couldn’t tell anyone else. I would talk to Him about the things I didn’t understand, like why my Grandpa Wright died and left my Grandma Wright all alone and so incredibly sad. I asked Him why my brother was so mean to my baby sister sometimes and why some people thought it was okay to hurt others. Why it was okay to hurt me. Why did he have to hurt me?

    I stop typing. I can’t do anymore. Not today. It’s starting to be too much. As my heart races, I can feel saliva pooling in my mouth before it disappears. My head pounds and my ears ring and my swollen eyes burn. I try to stop the flashes of memory that cause a knot to form in the pit of my stomach. As the knot tightens, my stomach churns. I think I might vomit.

    1. I agree! I like how you describe things at the beginning and how wonderful everything sounds...and then the last paragraph made me realize things aren't the same and things are actually probably pretty bad now. I am so curious how things changed. I would definitely read on!

  2. Wow, Micki, what a switch from the first lovely evocative paragraphs to the last brutal one. Such wonderful imagery, and feelings we can all deeply understand. Keep going.

  3. Gae: I like this, for the simple reason that I remember playing house as a kid. Maybe not as intensely as they are though....
    I also would like to know the story behind the drowned brother, so that definitely caught my attention!

    Micki: I really like this, it reminds me of family vacations that I take, and more that I want to take. I like how you can really capture the emotion in the story.

    Small excerpt, I don't know what to call it...Garden of hope maybe?

    Emotions wither break and float away. Improper watering stunts a regrowth. As seeds of hate are planted, he becomes a monster. Those weeds are planted deep like weeds, uprooting is the only option. A gentle hand finds his bud, and nurtures it well. The hand sprinkles hope, love, and happiness. They become his ray of sunshine, his breeze, his water. Special soil infused with medicine will help, it says. He regresses and wonders, a pill a day just to stay happy amongst this sea of weeds? Does my flower even show through all the grey?

    1. I agree with Gae that this sounds super poetic. It could totally be written as a poem. Lots of imagery and metaphor!

  4. Caroline, this is one of my favorite things of yours that I've read. The simple poetry of it. That first sentence... there's a mix of fancy, practicality and pain. Whatever this is, it's good. Keep going. <3

  5. Caroline, I really like this! I like the solid imagery and range of emotion. Yes! Keep going!

  6. Gae -

    I agree with CarolineKimberley about being intrigued by the drowned brother reference. Since it's partly into the book, I'm wondering how much information we'll already have about the situation - if we got the story all at once or in little snippets along the way.

    I also love the locket. The fact that they had a BFF locket that they "decided to stop wearing" gives me a nice feel for how long they have been friends. It makes me curious about whether or not they were both ready to "grow up" or if one of the friends wanted to be more grown up than the other..

  7. And now, the next snippet of my story from last week.

    “Bill… bill… junk mail, bill.” I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck. I needed that promotion at work now, more than ever. So much for ignoring those files and plopping down in front of the television tonight.

    One envelope slipped out of the pile and fluttered to the ground. Oddly enough, my address was handwritten in a lovely, flowing script. Intrigued, I snatched it up and carefully ripped it open. Inside the envelope were a childish drawing, a faded photograph, and a brief note.

    Dear Meghan,

    It has been years since we spoke – years since you were like a second daughter to me. I am finally moving on with my life and leaving the house where you and Cassie so often played. I came across these pictures, and the good memories came flooding back.

    Please, if you can, come visit me one last time. I have some things I know Cass would want you to

    “Aunt” Deirdre

    The drawing was a simple one, and I remembered it well. Cassie had loved to doodle, and insisted on hanging it in her room well into high school. Even the possibility of having a boyfriend see it on the wall hadn’t convinced her to take it down. Seeing it brought it all back, and I was six again.

    (I wasn't sure if I should put this up or jump into the next little bit, which is a flashback. Overall, though, I only have about 800 words done so I decided to stick with this bit)

    1. I have been thinking a lot lately about past relationships that just aren't part of my life any more - of friends from middle school, friends from high school, etc. It's interesting how people come in and out of our lives. I love the mystery behind what happened to Cassie and what the relationship was with her. Keep writing!

  8. Maria, this is a lovely excerpt and a good job of hook: why is she getting this note now... we all want to know! We even are now wondering not only about Aunt Deirdre, but Cass -- who is she? Where is she? Has something happened to her?

    Because I'm about to (hopefully) have lots of teachers here from Kate's Virtual Writing Camp... i wanted to use your sample to show something I've been working on in my own writing -- which is eliminating any minor words that tell things that can already be implied by the other GOOD writing about it: so I took the liberty (which I will do here only once in a while) to edit the first part of your excerpt in the slightest way to show how, if you remove a few unneeded words (again, unneeded only because you've done a good job with the other writing around them), you can get more bang with your buck (impact) with your words. SO, here you go:

    “Bill… bill… junk mail, bill.” I rubbed the back of my neck. I needed that promotion at work now, more than ever. So much for ignoring those files and plopping down in front of the television tonight.

    One envelope slipped out of the pile and fluttered to the ground, my address handwritten in a lovely, flowing script. Intrigued, I snatched it up and carefully ripped it open. Inside: a childish drawing, a faded photograph, and a brief note.

    (what I removed: the "sigh" because it's implied by the bills and the rubbing of the neck, the oddly enough because don't we all know now how odd and meaningful it is to get snail mail written in such a flowing script?! and just some extra words (?) in that last part because I think it gives it more umph).

    Now, here's the thing -- you may not all agree with these edits and that's OKAY!!! In fact, feel free to let me know. But the point is to make us all think about our words and which have impact and make our writing sing vs. any that might slow it down. THIS is what I am doing now when I go through my revisions on Frankie Sky and wanted to share that with you. BTW, this is NOT something you need to do in a first draft -- DON'T slow down and worry about this. It's just to point out food for thought LATER!!! xox - Gae

    1. I love when Gae does these kinds of edits. She did it once for me and I felt so much better seeing how easily she makes things so much more concise. (And it's okay for you not to agree) but in my opinion, it sounds much more powerful this way. So interesting! Of course - don't forget that you have to write something first and put it out there for someone to be able to give you this type of feedback. (I'm so super-conscious about hurting people's feelings now that people have expressed how scary it can be...).

    2. I agree, Jen. When I go back and "tweak" more I'll play with pulling down the word count. I do tend to over edit through my first draft too (which is a reason I take FOREVER to get anything on paper). I edit in my head, I edit as I type... blech.

  9. btw, I can't edit these comments, so that was supposed to say "other good writing AROUND it" not "about it" :) grrr. ;)

  10. Yes! Thanks for the positive comments :)

    That is what I try to KEEP myself from doing as I write the first time, but I always do when I go back through my writing. I enjoy writing free verse poetry (did a whole month worth during April) and paring down to the minimum is essential in that writing form.

    That's a great example. I struggle a LOT with not editing as much I write (which is why everything I write takes me so DAMN long to write)

    I have some more done, and I think I've gotten myself slightly unstuck and may actually be able to write a few more hundred words this weekend. I'm looking forward to summer to be able to get things written down AS they occur to me, so maybe I'll get something done.

    I also want to pull out a story I wrote 12 years ago, but I'm terrified that my perspective today will make me realize that it sucks. I'm pretty sure I'll still like the core of the story, so revising and editing could make it usable. *chuckles*

  11. Me, too, Maria... struggle with NOT editing WHILE I write. It is the thing than can STOP us from getting a manuscript done, so it's important to learn NOT to, I think. At least sometimes. And I KNEW this was rough, but it spoke to me and I do want to try to offer some helpful crit here and there where I can. And this was a perfect opportunity, but also why I stressed it was an excercise for LATER not now. :) Maybe, I'll get the whip out toward the end of the summer (and hand whips out as well) and we'll each post a "polished" piece vs. rough, and we'll see how the editing goes then. My revisions for "Delivery and Acceptance" of Frankie Sky are due 9/1... so it will be a good opportunity for me too! xox

  12. I can't wait for FS to come out. I love your writing. I love all the things about you. If I lived by you, my ass would be up swimming with you every day. Instead, I write in the quiet of my house and run with the dog.
    And yay, you meet your editor! Fun trip or work trip?

  13. Christa, it was both. Isn't it always fun to meet our editors, but a working meeting too. :) And I feel the same about you. <3