Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friday Feedback: Putting Our Writing Fears On (the) Line

This is me.
Sometimes I'm upside down.
First of all, TGIF, and welcome to my TeachersWrite! campers! (And hi to my regular readers, who I love and adore. :))

Star Wars and Steinbeck
guide two teens on a journey
to keep a promise
to their dying friend.
<--- This is me,

and


this is my book ----------------------------->



and,

THIS

*motions around the place like she's Vanna White*

is Friday Feedback.

Are you ready? Well, good. Buckle up for safety, and let's go!

As Kate Messner and Jen Vincent (Teach Mentor Texts) and I geared up for Kate's Uber-Awesome Virtual Writing Camp, I read a lot about fear. About how scared or intimidated many of you are to put your words -- your creative souls -- out there for all the world to see.

Well, duh, people?! ;)

I'm not going to repeat all the true and wonderful things Kate already said here, except to say I agree wholeheartedly. Each of us is pretty much scared every time we hand a draft off to a friend; every time we submit to our agents; everytime we go out on sub to a publisher. And, don't get me started on waiting for the Kirkus Reviews! Or when our book goes sailing off into the big, cold, cruel world. . .

All I can offer is what my mom used to say to me growing up: "Feel the fear and do it anyway!" (<--- I'm pretty sure that was the title of a book she read, but it helped).

Because if you don't, you're never going to get published, and you're never going to know what it feels like to have your words and your stories out there, to have readers connect and feel moved.

FYI, it feels good! It's worth all the fear and rejection.

And, I remind you of my mantra: "ART IS SUBJECTIVE." Not everyone loves my book (I know, I know, hard to believe. . . ). Not everyone loves my voice. Not everyone gets the story I was trying to tell:

Michelle, if you happen to be here, I love you for this review. No worries. :)

See? :) At least she got some sleep. ;)

But seriously, it's okay. Not everyone loves The Great Gatsby or Hatchet or Harry Potter, either. Yes, that's true. Not everyone loves Harry Potter. And, btw, I've told my writer friends this: if everyone did love my book and my writing, if everyone gushed and there was never a negative review, I would never believe the good ones.

So. Enough of that. Let's get to Friday Feedback!!! (please click that link and read that post if you don't already know what we do here, and what the rules are).

As some of you know, I recently sold my next YA manuscript to the wonderful Algonquin Books -- a ms currently called "Frankie Sky." Since I'm steeped in revisions for my editor, I thought I'd throw up a section I was working on yesterday. This is the very end of Chapter 7.

As per our rules, feel free to tell me if it hooks you (it's the end of the chapter, so the hope is you'd want to read the next), and what works and/or what doesn't, and why. If you want the same feedback (from me and any readers who may chime in), please post your brief excerpt in the comments as well.


And, fyi, in the weeks to come, there will be some special announcements for my #TeachersWrite crew about a few fun perks and bonuses for participating in Friday Feedback.

So, stay tuned here, or on my facebook author page.

Thanks for being brave.

- gae







My heart races as I walk toward Peter at the door. Did he rat on me? I rehearse the story about Michelle Greenhut in my head. This is all I need, to have to tell Mom what I’m doing here, and why. To explain what I thought Dad was doing.

Peter yells for me again. “Seriously, Schnell, I don’t have all day! You’re wanted inside, pronto!”

I pass Mrs. Merrill’s cabana, second-to-last, the end closest to the rear entrance of the Club. Cabana #2. There’s no sign of life in there. Either I missed her come out, or she’s dead or napping inside. With my mind on Simon, I’d lost all track of watching for her.

When I reach Peter, I don’t like the look on his face. Smug, like he’s happy to see me get hanged. Then again, he’s the one who let me in here. I could take him down, too, if I want to.

“What’s up?” I try not to sound guilty or scared.

 “Search me. I don’t ask questions. You’re wanted inside, is all. Mr. Habberstaad’s office. First door there in the corner.” He waves me through. I walk quickly, not looking back, trying to keep my mind from freaking. “That’s it,” he calls when I reach the dark wood door, gold name plate, black engraved letters. H. Habberstaad.
I turn back to Peter. “Just knock,” he says. “He asked for you. And good luck. Dude owns this place, you know.”
- gae


p.s. all: I will be in the city Friday evening/night at a screening for the Fat Kid Rules the World movie, book written by one of my YA idols, K.l. Going, then taking my usual Saturday a.m. long swim. So you may not get feedback until later Saturday and Sunday. I promise it will come!

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If you like this post, please check out my books HERE and/or at your favorite local bookstore. 

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99 comments:

  1. I have to say, I am curious! What is the problem here? How bad will the "trouble" be, and what exactly is she afraid of being ratted on about?

    I may be older myself, but the voice sounds authentic. "What's up?" and the "freaking out" are just how my students talk. *grins*

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  2. Okay, and for the next chunk of the story I've been putting on the chopping block (grins). I also went back and changed the current chunks of the story to present tense, and left this flashback in past tense.

    (hope this chunk isn't too long for this purpose, but I wasn't sure where to split it)

    “Meghan!” Cassie whispered my name and then giggled softly. “Don’t move. Don’t … even… breathe.”

    I sat motionless under the weeping willow in her backyard. I felt the tickling touch of the leaves on the back of my neck, but I knew better than to ignore her demands. We might be best friends, but her temper was quick to flare and I’d had my feelings hurt too many times to defy her when she was in this mood.

    Lying on her belly just a few feet away, with her sketch pad shielded from my view, Cassie chewed on one of her new pencils. Yellow, bright like the sunshine, the color she insisted on using for my hair. Even at six, though, I knew my hair was mousey brown. Mousey brown, and always tangled.

    “There, you can move now.” I started to unfold from the ground and leaned toward her to get a peek at the drawing. “Not yet, Megs! I still need to draw me, you know.” Thoughtfully, she selected just the right shade of red from her pencil set, and scribbled swiftly on the page.

    That shade of deep red delighted her, because it was the exact right color to draw her hair in the sunlight. She said it just like that, too, every time. I stretched out under the willow tree, staring up at the small bits of sky I could see through the leaves, and pushed my fingertips into the soft dirt.

    “Now, Megs! Come and see!” Cassie was breathless, panting slightly with exhilaration

    Swiftly I darted to her side, eager to see what had her so excited. My jaw dropped open, just like in the cartoons, and I whispered.

    “What…. Cass…. What is that?”

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    1. I like the dialogue at the beginning. It hints of danger, in this case from a red-headed temper. I want to know what Cass drew!

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    2. I'm really curious as to why Cassie wants Meghan's hair to be blonde. The colored pencils are a great metaphor for the ways these characters "color" their worlds and the way Cassie remakes Meghan. What is it about Meghan that bothers Cassie?

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  3. Oh, and I already spotted some things I don't like about that chunk (chuckles)

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    1. Maria, thanks for your feedback. What works for me in this little piece of yours? Well, really all of it, but esp. how wonderfully we get to see these girls both physically and emotionally through the choice -- and choosing -- of colored pencils. I love the opening line of dialogue and I love the hook at the end. So much so that I may be a tad frustrated if you don't tell what WHAT THAT IS!! :)

      Keep going!

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    2. At first, I thought she was telling her not to move because there was a bee on her shoulder or a snake ready to attack her...and then I kept reading and realized she was drawing her and relaxed a bit...and then I got to the end and wondered what she drew into the picture. I was freaked out again! These girls do seem to know each other so well. :)

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    3. I love that too, Jen. That these girls know each other well DOES come across... :)

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  4. Krista DendingerJune 8, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    Ok, I'm hooked and want to read the next chapter to see if she gets in trouble. I also want to read what happened before to see what she thought her dad was doing!

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    1. Thanks, Krista. :) No excerpt for you here?

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  5. Yep, I'm definitely curious! I am wondering what her Dad was up to, why that would possibly have her in trouble? Thanks for hosting this, by the way :-)

    I would love some feedback from you guys on the quick write that I did for yesterday's assignment! Here it is:


    After yesterday afternoon, I had to understand what would happen to my uncle. I couldn’t get any answers out of my dad; right after the cops pulled away Uncle Mike, my dad called up his buddy, Doug, and they went on one of their weekend “fishing trips,” which my mom had long ago taught me was a nice way of saying my dad was going on a two to three day pill binge. My mother had also always said that a library had an answer to any question you might have, so I thought this would be the best place to start. Yeah, maybe I could just walk in and say, “Hey, Ms. Price! I came to see if there were any books that could tell me what would happen to someone who just got picked up for not paying child support. Oh, and he was already on parole for a drug charge. Can you help me out with that today?”
    I wiped my palms on the front of my jeans, but as I lifted them up to push the doors open, I saw that, in wiping them on my jeans, I had simply smeared grease all over my hands. Great. Now not only would the librarian probably make a huge deal because I came in the library voluntarily, but I would now leave a permanent mark on anything I touched; I would brand the library and everyone would see and know I was there, and then every single one of my friends would make fun of me for life. I might as well let them see me sashaying out of the girls’ bathroom while I was at it. I hesitated outside the door for another minute, deciding if Uncle Mike was even worth the potential humiliation. I sighed, put my head down, and pushed the door open, waiting for Mrs. Price to begin the ticker-tape celebration of one of “those kids” coming into her library without a teacher dragging them there. I kept a covert eye on her as I walked by the big desk where she was working. I kept waiting for her to notice me, jump up and exclaim to the world how glad she was I came to read one of her dusty old books, but she didn’t look up.
    What? How could she not notice me? I am six feet tall and covered in motor oil. Who does she think she is, just sitting there? She should be grateful that I even came in here! She should jump and exclaim to the world that I was there, though … honestly … I really didn’t want that kind of attention. Maybe she just didn’t hear me. Or see me. That had to be it. So, I coughed a little. What? I had a tickle in my throat. Shut up.
    Finally, she looked up and smiled warmly when she saw me, and after all of that expectation and build up and sweaty palms, all she could say to me was: “Hi, Ethan. What are you looking for this morning?”

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    1. Hey, Sasha, welcome to Friday Feedback! I like this piece that you wrote for yesterday's assignment, and since I know it's pretty rough, I'm hesistant to suggest any edits/revisions except that sometimes its fun to do so for illustrative purposes, so I will only on the first paragraph (see below) ... but, first, what works and what hooks me: So, what works is that you have some great layers of story here going on -- the dad is a mess, the Uncle is a mess, and this kid is going to get (and, thus, give us) some answers! We want them, which means you've hooked us. It also made me chuckle to read, "How could she not notice me? I am six feet tall and covered in motor oil." I also LOVE the line about branding the libary (and, in fact, in my revision tried to make it stand out more because it's funny AND it tells you a lot about this kid!) Hope it's okay I played with yours... :)

      What isn't quite working yet -- or is making me struggle a little -- is how much information is packed into that first pargraph... my mind had to work hard to sort out the Uncle (and whether it was he or the dad who was taken away) and the Dad and then Doug and mom are thrown in there. This could be a real simple fix -- omitting minor words, inserting more punctuation and/or breaking up sentences. And because it's so wordy and packed, the voice made me think girl, so I was a bit suprised when I saw the name Ethan at the end. BUT having said that, I think there is also an immediate assumption by a reader -- myself included -- that when I see a girl post, I assume she is writing a girl MC. Annoying of me, especially since so many of MY ms's are from a male POV. And, yes, the same things happens to me via my readers. I do think however, that it could be fun to go back and pull out any excess words/details to make it feel more "boy" -- teen boys especially tend to be creatures of fewer words than needed, especially descriptive ones, not more, although there are always exceptions to that rule too.

      Again, probably too much feedback for a really good piece written only a day ago, so still fresh in the draft stage. I am definitely hooked and would (please) like to know what will happen to the Uncle and the Dad. And mostly, poor Ethan who seems about to throw his body in front of the fan. ;)

      Below, a FAST minor edit for illustrative purposes only:

      After yesterday, I had to understand what would happen to my uncle. I couldn’t get any answers out of my dad; right after the cops pulled away Uncle Mike, my dad called to say he and his buddy, Doug, were going one of their weekend “fishing trips.” Mom had long ago taught me this was a nice way of saying Dad was going on a three day pill binge.

      Since mom also taught me that a library held an answer to any question, I thought this was the best place to try to get answers. But how to ask? I couldn't just walk in and say, “Hey, Ms. Price! I came to see if there are any books that will tell me what happens to jerks who don't pay child support. Oh, and he's already on parole for a drug charge. Can you help me with that today?”

      I wiped my palms on my jeans, but when I pushed the doors open, I saw that, in wiping them, I'd simply smeared the grease, not removed it. Great. Now not only would the librarian probably make a huge deal because I came in the library voluntarily, but I would now leave my permanent mark. I freaking branded the library.

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    2. by the way, Sasha, I forgot to say KEEP GOING! Yes, I must. And, yes, you SHOULD! :)

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    3. I loved the tension between wanting answers and not wanting to be seen/hoping for attention--but not too much--by the librarian. I especially liked the line about whether Uncle Mike was worth the potential humiliation.

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    4. I like the incongruity of having a "dirty" kid in a pristine library. I'd like to see this contrast a bit more in your details about the library and its orderliness in comparison to the physical and familial disarray of the boy.

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    5. Thank you all so much :-) The feedback is wonderful! Gae, I so appreciate the time you took to offer a revised version. And thanks for the encouragement to keep going. This is the first creative writing I have done in years, and I was so hesitant to post it. I mostly did it because I knew I would be out of the house all day and couldn't obsessively check for comments :-) Ha!

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    6. Yay for being brave! So awesome. I love it. I agree with Gae that I totally thought your MC was a girl. I was thinking about it the whole way and looking for clues and then had decided it was a girl until you said Ethan at the end, too. That would be my biggest advice, to clarify that. But I agree that I love the boy wanting answers and going to the library but knowing he'll have to divulge some not-so-wonderful part of his personal life to gain some clarity. Totally different story, but reminds me a bit of Doug from Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt.

      Glad you are here!

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  6. definitely hooks me---I want to know more about these characters--especially what happens past Habberstaad's door!
    I loved the line
    “What’s up?” I try not to sound guilty or scared.
    because it puts me in the character's head. I feel the anxiety, the talking yourself into sounding normal that happens when you want to come off so badly as nonchalant, but are feeling anything but inside!

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  7. and now to be brave...this is just my quick write from yesterday's Teacher's Write post---but I promised myself I'd be brave, so here goes...knowing it is no where close to perfect....deep breaths, deep breaths...

    If it hadn’t been for the noise coming from the cafeteria, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to look up. I was deep into my rereading of The Canterbury Tales (the Miller slays me every time!) and truly, why bother when I know the Usual Suspects, as we call ourselves are already here—we’ve said our hellos and are now all tucked into our own little places each doing our own thing. Lunch is much better spent in the library for some of us. Trust me.

    But the loud cacophony was so jarring, I did, in fact, look up. And quickly down again. Big Mike? Really? In the library? I stole another sidelong stealthy peek, hoping my stillness (and long bushy hair) hid me well enough that I remained relatively invisible. Like a stealth library Ninja! Sometimes I really crack myself up—man, the Miller has nothing on me.

    Yes, it was definitely Mike Bradbury. He looked around nervously as he entered quietly, despite the chaos of the cafeteria (what brain trust built this school, I ask you? The cafeteria right next to the library? Utterly ridiculous.) Was he alone? I don’t think I had ever seen Big Mike without his entourage. The Wolf Pack, they call themselves—all football players, all loud and usually obnoxious with their I’m-so-cool attitudes. I’m fairly certain he has never seen me at all. I don’t rate a blip on that group’s radar. As if they knew what a blip was. Or a radar.

    I decide it would be best to keep a bit of a watch here—is there any doubt he is up to no good? I mean, really. He’s probably here on a dare or something. Oh yeah! Out of the corner of my eye I see Mrs. Jenkins, the librarian come out of her office. This will be interesting. Get him Mrs. Jenkins! HA!

    “Hey there, Michael. Great to see you. How’s your day going so far?” Mrs. Jenkins said.

    Huzzah! Throwing him off guard, I’m guessing, by being so nice and friendly—“Good plan, Mrs. Jenkins, good plan,” I silently cheer!

    “Hi, Mrs. Jenkins. Um…” Michael stood there, sort of staring at the floor. What in the world was going on? Had aliens taken over this kid’s body? “Um, you know that last book you gave me…I was just wondering…”

    “You bet, dear. I was just in my office unpacking a box of books—and you came at just the perfect time. I know how much you loved the first two, so I made sure to put this one back for you as soon as I unpacked it. Michael, I think you’re really going to enjoy this one. Be sure to come back and let me know what you think.”

    “Yes, ma’am. Thanks,” he said with a sheepish grin.

    The Great and Powerful Michael Bradbury a secret reader? Who knew? I must admit I’m a bit stunned.

    “See ya, man” he whispered, looking straight at me as he walked by, tucking his book into the backpack he carried over one shoulder.

    Huh. So much for flying under the radar.
    A concept he seems to understand after all.

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    1. Hi, Mrs. S! Welcome to Friday Feedback. :) ( love this piece -- it basically stands on its own as a mini short story. I love that we get to have our impression of Mike through your narrator and then feel our surprise with her when his secret nerd is revealed. :) There is lots of great humor in here too which makes your protag instantly likeable. Great stuff. Keep going!

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    2. that wasn't bad, right? Are you breathing now?

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    3. yea! breathing again...thank you for the feedback...yippee!

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    4. This made me laugh! I loved sharing the narrator's surprise that Mike was a secret reader. My favorite line--like a stealth library ninja.

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    5. As a fan of Chaucer, love the allusion to the Miller's Tale. Seems fitting given Michael Bradbury's secret reading life. BTW, Bradbury is a great name; will we learn that he's related to Ray Bradbury? Also, love the ninja imagery. The one thing that bothered me is a kid getting to take a book right out of a box that had just arrived. I can't see that happening w/out the book first being cataloged by the librarian. Am I being too nit-picky?

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    6. Thanks for the feedback, ya'll! Glenda, Bradbury just an homage, no relation to the character--although I do like that idea, too. And, no--you are not being too nit-picky, however...as a middle school librarian I can tell you I do that ALL the time for kids that I know are waiting on pins and needles for "their" new book. By the time the box reaches me, I've already downloaded the marc records via email and I usually buy the books already processed, so really all that's left to do is stamp it and write the barcode number in it. Easy-peasy and quick. :) BUT...I love and appreciate the thought put into this---keeps me on my toes!

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    7. Hooray! I love that people are sharing even thought these are very first drafts. It's great to get such quick feedback - isn't that what we want do to for our students, too? It feels good, right?

      I love that your MC finds sanctuary in the library but at the same time is keeping an eye on everything going on in the library. For a second, I thought it was going to turn into a mystery with the MC collecting evidence, but I love the stealth reader. I'd love to see if you decide to continue with this.

      Bravo for sharing!

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    8. One thing I think is hard is when someone reads a logistical type detail -- e.g. the book out of the box too fast -- and feels from their perspective it couldnt happen when we as a writer know it could. This happens quite a bit - we even know as readers of published works that it does, where we go, that could never happen. In fact, I just had it happen a few months ago on a major point with a ms I submitted to my agent. He commented that he didnt think an exchange between a therapist and a patient could take place. I went to a therapist I know to get clarification and she said it could absolutely happen and in fact had a name in terms of technique. NOW my decision as a writer is to decide what I want to do with it. I can keep it in as is, or I can do something to clarify... either way, it's good to take the info for what it's worth -- and think about what you as writer want to do with it in the revision stage. Hope that babble made some sense. Even minor.

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  9. I mistakenly commented on a post from a few months ago, so I'm trying again here. I really like the present tense; it works really well here. It gives me a sense of the immediacy of this character's conflict, as if I'm a spectator behind her eyes. Love the concise writing style--definitely works for the contemporary setting--and the narrator's authentic voice.

    ***

    Here's mine (disregard if you already read it on the other thread). It's a piece of flash fiction for my blog in which every entry is exactly 100 words long. www.1hundred-words.com


    Callie sees the hitchhiker in the distance and thinks I shouldn’t pick him up. But when she nears him, he stops walking and turns to her, then climbs in the car.

    “Where you headed?” she says.

    “East.” He nods in that direction. “Mind if I smoke?”

    “Uh. I’d rather you didn’t.”

    He puts the cigarettes in his pocket, but after a few miles, he takes them out again. “You’d rather I didn’t, but kin I smoke?”

    She shrugs. “Oh. I guess.”

    He rolls down the window, flicks ashes outside. When he finishes his cigarette, he lights another, then a third.

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    1. Jan, welcome to Friday Feedback! Thanks for posting here AND there. ;)

      I've only read here. First, what a great HOOK you have for your blog... i love that 100 words. Makes me curious to go and check it out *keeps Friday Feedback blinders on for right now... *

      As for this piece -- really nothing to say about hook since it's short and stands on it's own except that by its very nature -- hitchhiker story -- there is an instant sense of unease which is good. And you maintain it. Do a great job of making this guy concern us -- makes us worried that this girl has made a bad decision. Or, maybe he's just a jerk. ;) Keep going!

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    2. Wow! I'm impressed you can pack so much into just 100 words.

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    3. Fabulous conciseness and tension. The hitchhiker feels dangerous. Is he in a rush? Does he have to jog to the car or did Callie stop close enough to him that he didn't have to walk to the car? Why didn't Callie hesitate? This snippet reminds me of "American Salvage," a fabulous collection of short stories. Is the hitchhiker a grotesque? In short, I love this piece.

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  10. Gae, I just spent an enjoyable 15 reading your blog. I love your voice, your wit, your honesty. Your newest book is in the trunk of my car in the crate I brought home as my summer reading. I haven't had time to sort a stack because I've been having so much fun immersed in this writing camp, but when I get to it, your book will be on top.

    I've read some amazing snippets of writing from campers this week. A little nervous for feedback because I've never attempted fiction. It's short, but here goes:

    I tighten my grip on the backpack and push my way through the double doors into the library. I’d shout “Sanctuary!” if I didn’t think everyone would notice. Being noticed is something I try to avoid. It's not that I don’t like people. It’s more that when people inch their way into my life, someone always gets hurt.

    I shake the hair out of my eyes and move toward the rear. I know I’ll find what I’m looking for. I always do. Kate leans against the romance shelf with a book in her hand. She’s supposed to be re-shelving. It’s her job as the 5th period aid, but she’d rather read than work. Just another thing that makes us so different.

    "Kate, you need to take this from me,” I say as I hand her the backpack. Her eyes flicker for just an instant before she aims those green accusations at me.

    "Not again, Ben. You promised.”

    It had been three years since I’d found trouble. Three years since we’d had to run, lie and cheat just to stay alive. No wonder my sister was angry.

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    1. I want to know more! What's in the backpack that he has to ditch it on Kate? What kind of trouble did they find?

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    2. Great line: "I'd shout 'Sanctuary...'" It's like shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theater. So much in this marries the predictable w/ the unexpected.I really like the sentence variety, too. I want to know from where these characters ran and whether or not they will run again.

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    3. inquiring minds want to know more! can't wait to read more

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  11. Amy, thanks for all the nice words, and welcome to Friday Feedback! I want to give lots of words back, but the bottom line is I really like this piece of yours and dont have anything to say other than it hooks me, I love how much info you pack into a short scene and I love the line "... before she aims those green accusations." Obviously, the hook is there at the end. Good stuff. Fiction here you come! Keep going! :)

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  12. Bravo, Gae! What a compelling "craft in process" dialogue/support you have going here. Kimd of makes me want to try hamd at YA as a creative exercise. You lead with a sure hand, with humility & kindness....xo

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  13. Thanks for such a nice compliment, Lori! I believe you are about to try your hand at writing at least a piece of a YA anyway... ;)

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    1. ;) INDEED!!!! and for me, it's right up my alley. but if I ever do write YA "straight up" I certainly have the best role model

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  14. by the way, I CAN spell. I trust you "auto-corrected" my auto correct in my first comment

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  15. This is a back story to the novel I'm working on. I tried to keep it short! It is a fantasy novel about a girl named Lira.

    - - - - -
    “Wilma! I’m here!”

    Lira smiled when the old woman opened the door of her cottage. In a heartbeat, she was engulfed in a warm and comforting embrace. The trials of the last few weeks melted away and Lira felt safe and welcome.

    Wilma stepped back, holding the young girl at arm’s length. “Goodness child, you have grown up.”

    “Oh no! I don’t want to be grown up. Grownups have problems and I’m not ready to deal with those problems.” As she was lead into the cozy kitchen, sunlight filling the room with warmth through the open window, Lira poured out her problems.

    “Gage had to leave. He died after two days on the road, his horse threw him.” Lira sniffed, biting her lower lip so that she wouldn’t burst into the tears that had been part of her everyday existence since the news had arrived.

    “My child. I’m sorry. He’s the second one to die isn’t he? I hate to say this, but you might bad luck. Stay away from the men until you’re ready to be married.” Wilma’s voice offered her comfort even though the words were harsh.

    “It’s hard Wilma. I already have men trying to get me alone. They are too persuasive and when I’m with them I feel so wanted and loved. I know I should wait, but I can’t.”

    “As you have grown up, you have grown beautiful. You have something that makes men desire you. Suppress that and they will leave you alone.” Wilma made it sound so easy, Lira just laughed.

    “I can’t change who am. Unless you have some trick to teach me, I’m in trouble.” Lira sighed. At least while visiting her dear friend she would be safe.

    “I do have a trick and it’s about time you learned it. It’s not as hard as the cleaning magic you have already mastered.” Hearing Wilma’s words, Lira opened her mouth to protest, but was not given a chance to speak. “Don’t deny it. I know these things. This bit of magic can’t be detected and it will protect you as long as you need it.”

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    1. I'm intrigued by her bad luck--that the men attracted to her die. What happened to the first one who died?

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  16. Now for a deep breath....Here is what I wrote yesterday for the free write. It's a new character who has shown up in the novel I've been working on forever. I'm not sure what role he plays, but used the free write to get to know him. Today I may write more and see what happens.

    Mother and I sat quietly by the fire. I yanked the needle through the rips in my skirt and glanced over at Mother. She sat with a lap full of dried bloodroot in her lap. She had been sorting them, but now her hands were still as she stared at the dancing flames. I swallowed back the questions that burned my throat about the red cloak that now lay stuffed under my mattress. If I asked, she might look to see if I had put the cloak back in the trunk as she asked. I still hoped that she would forget about it.

    I glanced up at light tapping at the door. Who would come so late? Eager to be done with my mending, I stood up. Before I lifted the heavy bar that held the door shut, I called out, “Who’s there?” After the events of last night it wouldn’t do to fling open the door too hastily.

    “Please, miss, can you help me?”

    I could barely make out the words of the soft whine, but I felt the undercurrent of desperation. I lifted the latch and cracked open the door, stopping it with my foot. A boy stood before me. Tufts of hair stood out in all directions on his head, and his bare toes curled in the mud. I recognized him as one of the children from the village. Like me, he usually hung back from the pack of children that ran together through the streets and fields. He stared down and asked again, “Can you help me?”

    I opened the door wider and motioned for him to enter. ”What do you need help with?” I asked.

    He stepped inside, still looking down. Now that he was inside I could see the frayed hems. His wrists and ankles stuck out too far. As if he could feel my glance, he tugged at his sleeves. ”It’s my pa,” he whispered. ”He won’t get out of bed. He shakes and moans and grabs at things that aren’t there. He’s never been sick before. I don’t know what to do.”

    Behind me, mother set aside her bloodroot and rose to stand beside me. ”How long has Henry been sick?” she demanded.

    “Since yesterday morning, ma’am,” he said. He looked up at Mother and grinned shyly. “Pa always said to come to you if we ever had trouble. I just didn’t think trouble would ever find us.”

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    1. Hi, Kay! I agree with Nanette - the bit about the mother recognizing the boy's father -- Henry -- is so intriguing. Immediately makes you wonder what is going on (hook!). The images of the bloodroot and the red cloak are strong. A good sense of setting/mood/period in this piece. Keep going!

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  17. Nice. It develops a lot of the characters. Mother is obviously known to help people. The fact that Mother recognized the boy so quickly is equally interesting, especially since the daughter doesn't identify him specifically.

    The red cloak intrigues me too. Great voice !

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  18. Nannette, Welcome to Friday Feedback! Your piece is intriguing and I have the same questions Kay has which means hook. :) I love the paragraph that shows Wilma's harsh answer still bringing comfort to Lira... so interesting. The answer would only take me, Gae, aback, so the fact that Lira handles it tells the reader a lot. I am intrigued to know why Lira has a bad effect on her suitors and what the tricks she will learn are.

    I am curious if you intend your opening dialogue, "Wilma, I'm here!" to be funny in how it evokes memories of the Flintstones, or if you're too young to know the reference and dont intend it. Fred used to walk in the door and yell, "Wilma, I'm home!" so I initially thought this piece was going to be far different because of that... food for thought if you didnt intend it. Anyone else reading read it this way?

    And this para confused me: Oh no! I don’t want to be grown up. Grownups have problems and I’m not ready to deal with those problems.” As she was lead into the cozy kitchen, sunlight filling the room with warmth through the open window, Lira poured out her problems.

    It seems contradictory which, if intended, I'm craving you to tell me so, "Still..." or "despite this..." kind of thing. And maybe find a way to finesse the triple use of the word problems.

    Good work! Keep going!

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  19. For those posting, I may not chime in again until late tomorrow. Do NOT read into my silence. I have places to go and people to see. I'll be back soon! Happy posting. And happy weekend!

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  20. Maybe everyone could Write into your silence and meet back here tomorrow with the results ;)

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  21. I'm really enjoying Friday Feedback. Thank you, Gae. Okay, here's part of my writing from Thursday's prompt:

    “Super Senior”

    I’m standing in the schedule pick-up line behind a kazillion other people who should have picked up their schedules last week instead of waiting until today. Looks like I’m going to be late my second first day of my second senior year.

    Yep, I’m a SUPER SENIOR. Embarrassing. I know. But what can I say? I f*%#d up last year. It probably started the day I turned 18, February 29. I leaped right over the rest of my senior year. Telling a high school senior “You can check yourself out legally when you turn 18” but not telling that kid he has to ACTUALLY attend class and hand in the work…well, that sucks. I mean, it’s not MY FAULT that I didn’t know excusing myself from class didn’t excuse me from class work.

    Now here I stand in line with last year’s juniors and a couple of other dorks from my class. “Dude, don’t these people know the deadline to pick up schedules was last Friday,” I hear a familiar voice drone behind me. “There should be some perk for repeating senior year. I mean, we are the ‘big man on campus,’ right? That’s what my dad says they called the jocks back in the day.” It’s comments like this that made Geoff turn to Justin at least once a day in English last year and blurt, “You’re an idiot.” Really. You could count on Geoff mumbling that line pretty much like you could count on the principal promising to enforce the school rules or the student body president promising to get more kids involved in student government.

    Justin’s biggest problem last year… Geeze, now that I think about it, what wasn’t a problem for Justin? Take going to the library, for example. That was pretty often in English. Ms. Stoll always put a note on the door telling us to meet in the library. She must have thought we’d get there BEFORE the bell rang and have more time to work.

    STALL. That’s what we did. Justin was either the grand poo-paw of stallers or just didn’t know where the library was after three years of high school, which was completely possible since students in this school TEACHER SHOP the way the Kardashians make money without having any observable talent...."

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    1. His reasoning about why he flunked sounds so familiar. I could see some of my students pulling a line like that. I wonder what the past history between Justin and the narrator is and how Geoff plays into it.

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    2. Glenda, as promised by you ;) this piece is chock-full of humor and a bit of wonderful snark. I love the voice of it and really get a sense of these kids through this short piece. You definitely capture that HS voice dead-on. Fun stuff! Keep playing with it!

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  22. I'm hooked! Curious about how this cast of characters are all connected. Dialogue is something I feel really unable to write well - the dialogue in your excerpt sounds authentic. How do you do it?

    Here is my excerpt:

    They told Cleo in the dining room. Soft light of morning ruined. “You’ll get along without her.” Dad said. Mom chimed in “It will get easier with time”. And as great grandmother has (had?) often said herself “This too will pass” . Cleo couldn’t be sure any of it made sense. What was the point of a love that would only last as a memory? Some days Cleo couldn’t recall what had been eaten at breakfast or the last time she wore her favorite t-shirt.. Now she is expected to remember the smell of cookies in the oven - those snickerdoodles were unlike any other cookie. Cleo doubted that her mind could possibly replace all that her senses were attuned to when she was with great grandmother. The physical absence was the really confusing part of this situation. The house was still standing and great gandmother’s chair was in the living room. Gardening shoes set by the back door and a coat was hanging by the door. What really scared Cleo the most is how important her memories of past events would be. How many things had she already forgotten that could have made the future more full of GG?

    The pastor would be by soon. His wife would bring something good to eat, so there was that. But then they would have to listen to more words about how GG was in a better place - as if this other place was any more tangible than the memories Cleo was busy stringing together in her head. The pastor went on and on about streets of gold and no sickness and all Cleo could think about was the whereabouts of the shoebox of pictures. Those pictures would hold a magic key to the years. Had those albums been spared in mom’s recent “we need to clean this house up” project?

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    1. Ernie, I really (really) love this piece. For some reason, this really resonates with me: "The physical absence was the really confusing part of this situation. The house was still standing and great gandmother’s chair was in the living room." The longing is palpable there. And, this: "The pastor went on and on about streets of gold..."

      I also LOVE the way it opens. This: "They told Cleo in the dining room. Soft light of morning ruined." Just so lovely. The staccato voice of it (which offsets the more descriptive stuff that follows) (though you may have to fix that dangling "Dad said." sentence...

      as for the question about dialogue (and thank you) I think the hardest part with dialogue is to get it to not read totally cliche in instances of drama and trauma (when we do tend to all say the kind of stuff we say -- as you face with your dialogue here). The best you can do with it is make sure it fits your character's voice and, like so much else in writing, I think the key is ultimately revision. I often go back to dialogue on a third and fourth pass and can't believe what utter crap it is. Get some distance from it and read it with a fresh eye (this is a general comment NOT in relation to your dialogue here). The best way to figure out what needs fixing is to GET AWAY FROM IT long enough to see it anew. Anyway, GREAT stuff here. Keep going!

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  23. There's such a strong sense of loss and longing. I like the line about Cleo stringing together memories and how she frets about the box of photos that can help her hang onto the memories of her great grandmother.

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  24. Gae, I was so nervous about posting my writing I forgot to respond to yours! I am most definitely hooked. What is the narrator in trouble for? What is Peter's role? How is Mrs.Merill involved? I can't wait to tell my future students who will love the Pull of Gravity that they can look forward to a second book!

    Thanks for all your wise words and warm encouragement!

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    1. Kay, thanks! it's not a requirement to provide me feedback, so no worries. I love how you are ALL chiming in to help me out here with the various excerpts! Thank you!!!

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  25. Your piece is immediately interesting, starting so many questions. I at first thought it was a girl & Peter is the brother. I still think P is the brother, but there is no hint of gender. So, who is it & why is he/she so anxious. There is talk of being ratted on, the words dead and take him down, too are used, indicating crazy & violent behavior, but why? And then, at the end, Peter doesn't seem bad, at least his words aren't. If I read this beginning, I would ant to move on to the next part fast!

    Here is my writing. I skipped the prompt to work on my WIP. Thanks.

    This furthers info about my character that I introduced at the last quick write, so I elected to write this in third person, but am still toying with the voice. Should she tell the story or not? I will try it both ways to explore.

    Josie remained in her seat after math class, waiting to talk with the new girl, who also was still there. In fact, the new girl, Marta, was slouched down as if she hadn’t the energy to get up and leave. Josie thought it would be good to give a welcome to this new girl from another country. Now, she wanted just to give the poor girl a hug. Her drooped with exhaustion. And no wonder, it probably had been a long day, her first day.
    Josie knew that was how people felt good, when they were paid attention. And she enjoyed making people feel good. Her great smile and quick hellos were a natural part of who she was, and others benefitted from her greetings. There were few people in the town who hadn’t had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Josie Brown. But this time, something held her back. The girl’s body seemed to be wary even to a friendly gesture. Time passed. Josie hoped her friends were still waiting for her. It was Friday afternoon. Plans had been made.

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    1. Hi Linda! Hooray for sharing your writing! I'm working on my WIP, too. :)

      I remember having a hard time starting a conversation with a stranger - even if a stranger was a classmate. I've gotten much better at it, but when I was young it wasn't easy. Your story reminds me of that hesitancy in making a new friend and in not knowing how things will turn out. I love the idea of a new student from a different country. I wonder if your MC will end up having an issue with this new friend and her "old" friends. I'm ready to read more! :)

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    2. Thanks Jen. I think a 'good' girl has more problems sometimes than we usually think, having taught a few through the years. It makes me feel good that you thought of that. I don't yet have a real plan, but it is about those good girls' self-images. Have you posted any work yet? There is so much & I just finished school today, so will have more time to read now.

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    3. Linda, welcome to Friday Feedback! :) I'm not sure I can do a better job than Jen has commenting here. So, since it's my blog (;)) I took the liberty to grab your piece for a brief edit. Please ALL understand that when I do this, I am doing it fast -- a first stab, if you will -- to show how some quick and simple word removals or changes can really punch things up or make them more emotional... to show you how, when the words are already there doing their job WELL, sometimes just pulling a few out will really make what you've already done, shine. AND I KNOW that these pieces are rough and that you may find your way there yourselves... but it's just a great opportunity to demonstrate:

      Josie remained in her seat after math class, waiting to talk with the new girl, who also was still there. Marta, was slouched down as if she hadn’t the energy to get up and leave. Josie thought it would be good to welcome this girl from another country. She just wanted to give the poor girl a hug. Her (face?) drooped with exhaustion. No wonder, it probably had been a long first day.

      Josie knew people felt good when they were paid attention, and she enjoyed making people feel good. Her great smile and quick hellos were a natural part of who she was, and others benefitted from her greetings. There were few people in town who hadn’t had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Josie Brown. But this time, something held her back. The girl’s body seemed wary, even to a friendly gesture. Time passed. Josie hoped her friends were still waiting for her. It was Friday afternoon. Plans had been made.

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    4. and, sorry, can't edit my own comments. The comma isnt needed after Marta in that second sentence.

      Linda, would love to see you play with this between the third it's in to first... they feel so different. I actually like this in third, but it would be a fun exercise. IMHO, third has a distance to it, while first has an immediacy. Keep going, great stuff here!

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    5. oops, and one last thing, I think you have a great hook there in those last few lines -- we see Josie is up against something that may cause her to act differently than her nature... okay, on to the next!

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    6. Gae-thanks for all. I appreciate the time! I will put the two pieces (mine & your edits) side by side & try to learn from what you've done. It's exciting to play around with how I want others to get in to this character.

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  26. Gae~
    You're killin' me with these Frankie Sky
    snippits! What has Dad been up to???? Ahhhhh!!!

    Okay. This is the "for now" beginning of my YA WIP. I've actually revised it about six or seven times now and I'm sure it will not be the last. And btw, the story begins on a day that's different. :)

    Alice means well, I know she does. But sometimes I just want to pop her one right upside her head. I know she’s my best friend and everything, but sometimes her meddling is more than I can take. Like that one time she tried to fix me up with her cousin, or that other time she tried to hook me up with her boyfriend Tommy’s cousin. Now she’s trying to get me to go out with this guy name Chris. Am I so pathetic that Alice thinks I can’t find a boyfriend on my own? And what makes her think I want one right now, anyway? Sheesh! Can’t a girl just chill on her own anymore?

    I am jolted out of my thoughts by the pounding on the bathroom door that can be none other than my brother Jamie trying to assert his manliness. He’s not very successful or convincing, and I am able to ignore him with little effort. He gives up relatively easily, which is unusual for him. He is generally much more persistent than that. As I ponder this uncharacteristic behavior, he again assaults my concentration with another barrage of pounding on the bathroom door.

    “The more you pound, the longer it’s gonna take me!” I shout out to him, loud enough to be heard over the sound of running water.

    Jamie pleads through the closed door: “Come on, Lauren! I gotta go! I’m dyin’ out here! Cut a brother some slack and hurry up!” The sound of the shower can’t drown my brother’s pathetic cries for mercy. Can he be any more pathetic?

    “All right, all right! I’ll be out as soon as I can! Don’t get your panties in a bunch!”

    Man,I love being snarky. Normally I would not hurry things up, out of spite, but for some inexplicable reason, I am feeling generous toward my brother this morning—probably due to a brain malfunction caused by sleep deprivation or something. I sacrifice my hair’s deep conditioning and skip the shaving of my legs; I can always do that later. Besides, I don’t have anyone to shave my legs for. Not right now anyway, but if Alice has her way…

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    1. Sharing a bathroom with siblings/family is something lots of people will be able to relate to - I love it. I have this sense that she'll regret not shaving her legs...? Definitely hooked. :)

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    2. Micki,

      not great surprise to me that your piece is snarky and hilarious! I expected no less from you and got it. Everything Jen just said. And, because it's Sunday am and I'm totally overcaffeinated at this point and really can't help myself... I'm doing another 5-second edit on yours (okay, fine, more like 5 minutes)... take what you like and utterly disregard what you don't... I'm just a huge fan of less is more and how, for ME (subjective!!!) it makes already great material shine:


      Alice means well, I know she does. But sometimes I just want to pop her one right upside her head. I know she’s my best friend and everything, but sometimes her meddling is more than I can take. Like that one time she tried to fix me up with her cousin, or that other time she tried to hook me up with her boyfriend Tommy’s cousin. Now she’s trying to get me to go out with this guy name Chris. Am I so pathetic that Alice thinks I can’t find a boyfriend on my own? And what makes her think I want one right now, anyway? Sheesh! Can’t a girl just chill on her own anymore?

      I'm jolted from my thoughts by the pounding on the bathroom door that can be none other than my brother Jamie trying to assert his manliness. He’s not very successful or convincing, and I'm able to ignore him with little effort. He gives up relatively easily, which is unusual for him. He's generally way more persistent than that.

      As I'm pondering this uncharacteristic behavior, he assaults my concentration with another barrage of pounding on the door.

      “The more you pound, the longer it’s gonna take me!” I shout, loud enough to be heard over the sound of running water.

      “Come on, Lauren!" Jamie pleads, "I gotta go! I’m dyin’ out here! Cut a brother some slack!” The sound of the shower can’t drown out my brother’s cries for mercy. Can he be any more pathetic?

      “All right, all right! I’ll be out as soon as I can! Don’t get your panties in a bunch!”

      Man,I love being snarky. Normally I would not hurry things up, out of spite, but for some inexplicable reason, I'm feeling generous toward my brother this morning—probably due to a brain malfunction caused by sleep deprivation. I sacrifice my hair’s deep conditioning and skip the shaving of my legs; I can always do that later. Besides, I don’t have anyone to shave my legs for. Not right now anyway, but if Alice has her way…

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  27. Duh! I had a Justin moment *giggles* and forgot to respond to your passage, Gae. Since this is my first time participating in Friday Feedback, I read the rules and your revised opening, which makes me even more curious about Peter. I wander who Mr. H. says, "That's it" to. I really like the dialogue. I want to know who else is in the cabana. Maybe because I haven't seen all the past snippets or haven't read the MS, but I feel like I missed something between the opening paragraph and Peter yelling. I'm intrigued. Peter seems like an instigator. Is he? or Is he protecting the speaker?

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    1. Thanks, Glenda. This is the end of Chapter 7, so, yes, very out of context... you have missed a bunch. That's why this exercise has it's limitations... when we show just bits of our work, no one can really tell the whole context. Still, it's fun (I hope!) and the main point is to highlight the gems and encourage one another. :)

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  28. Did the opening suck me in?

    Yes and no. The first sentence was...expected. I don't want to say cliche, but it didn't snag my interest as much as the sentence, "I rehearse the story about Michelle Greenhut in my head." Perhaps moving that sentence to the beginning of the scene will lend the urgency you need while still putting us in his thought process. That said, the rest of the sentences are all valuable to the build-up and definitely belong, just that one sentence might find a happier home at the beginning.

    What do I like? I like the walking and getting closer to the door as a lead-up to confrontation, as a device to drop hints and build tension. Classic and well-placed. Frankly, this whole scene smacks of good noir, like a Veronica Mars lead-in.

    What do I not like? The phrase, "try to keep my mind from freaking." It just doesn't ring true - it sounds awkward. I don't know if it's not specific enough (Isn't his mind already on overdrive? What does a "mind freaking" look/sound like? What are the repercussions if it does?) Is he worried that he won't be able to be calm enough in front of the boss to think clearly?

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    1. Thanks for the feedback! Some of the confusion may be that you missed my note that this is the END of Chapter 7, not the beginning. :) Perhaps to your later dismay, it's not noir at all, but hopefully that means there's some tension. Thanks for the other comments -- will absorb them! :)

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    2. Gae-

      Gah! I'm as bad as my students! So eager to read the piece, that I neglected the full directions. Sorry about that. I think as the end of a chapter, it definitely makes more sense in that order.

      I have to admit, I'm a little bummed that it doesn't have an overall noir intent, as it is one of my favorite flavors of fiction and I never see enough of it in YA/MG. The suspense and even some of your language choices had that same flavor, so I was squee-ing a little at the thought of a whole book written that way. Ah well, intended or not, it intrigues me enough to want to read on.

      Thanks for your patience, and I look forward to next Friday's installment.

      Jess

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    3. Jess, you may have just found your niche (if you hadn't already). I assume YOU are writing a noir YA?! ;)

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  29. Hi Gae,

    I am curious about your excerpt as I am about your swimming. I swim about 1.5 miles a day/5 days a week. I swim only in the pool and save open water for triathlons only.:) Are you a USMS swimmer? Enough about me. I thoroughly enjoyed the excerpt.

    Aspects that I enjoyed:
    - The little foreshadowing hints about Dad (although I guess that you could have explained about Dad in a previous chapter)
    - Smooth and believable dialogue - “Seriously, Schnell, I don’t have all day! You’re wanted inside, pronto!” I could totally imagine this conversation happening - it happens outside of my 6th grade doorway each and every day.
    - What does Habberstaad want? I am hooked! I can't wait to read the rest - I will wait impatiently for it to hit the bookstore.:)

    What doesn't work for you and why? I am a little confused, but that is because I have only read a small part of the story (a small part of a chapter). From what I have read, I predict that you strongly developed the characters, setting, and plot of the story in the other chapters.

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    1. Hey, Andy, nice to see you here! :) As for the swimming, I'm definitely not a masters swimmer, though I have mastered a lot of my own fears the past two open water seasons! ;)

      Thanks for the nice feedback. Glad it's hooking you. Looking forward to reading yours...

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  30. Here is chapter 11 of my MG manuscript (revision stage):


    “You know what we want. We want revenge. Revenge for you and your grandma wrecking our beach party last week.” he says and kicks my bike off the road.

    I fall off the bike, but put my hands down to break the fall. As soon as I’m on my feet, which is instantly because of the fear that is piercing through my body, the tall kid is off his bike and directly in front of me. Before I can even move to get out of the way, the he punches me in the stomach. I curl over and put my hands over my face, but it only partially blocks a hard kick to the face. His kick puts me onto my back and the other boys grab both of my arms while the kid throws three more punches that each connect on different parts of my face. I can taste blood in my mouth, and the swelling is already blurring my vision in my right eye. The boys pull me off the ground and hold me in front of the tall kid.

    He spits in my face and says, “You think that you’re a tough guy, walking the beach with the pretty little blond girl. I don’t want to see you with her again. She doesn’t want to hang out with a little wimp like you. Her and I were getting to be close friends, if you know what I mean, before you showed up this summer. This beating will make you go away.”

    His hand grabs my chin, he forces me to look him in the eye, and continues, “Let your noisy grandma know that this is payback for not minding her own business. Also, tell her that she’s next.” As he is saying ‘next’, he kicks me in the stomach so hard that I hit the ground and struggle to catch my breath.

    Before he leaves, he says, “Remember, stay away from Kalie and tell your grandma that we’re coming for her.”

    Thank you for reading and for Friday Feedback! I hope that you had a good swim!:)

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    1. Andy, tough but good piece here. :( Poor kid. Since, I'm on a roll (?) doing a FAST revise. Especially when there's an action/fight scene, I often think it's important to minimize words. Removal of just a few can really make the tension higher? You tell me. I'm not always right, you know... True story.

      “You know what we want. We want revenge. Revenge for you and your grandma wrecking our beach party last week.” He kicks my bike off the road.

      I put my hands down to break the fall. As soon as I’m on my feet, which is instantly because of the fear that pierces through me, the tall kid is off his bike and directly in front of me. Before I can get out of the way, he punches me in the stomach. I curl over and cover myself with my hands, but it only partially blocks a hard kick to the face that rolls me over. The other boys grab my arms while the kid throws more punches that each connect with different parts of my face. I taste blood (just pointing out, you wrote "in my mouth" but where else would we taste blood?! ;)), and the swelling already blurs my vision (who cares which eye, really? ;)). The boys pull me off the ground and hold me in front of the tall kid.

      He spits in my face and says, “You think you’re a tough guy, walking the beach with the pretty little blond girl. I don’t want to see you with her again. She doesn’t want to hang out with a little wimp like you. Her and I were getting to be close friends, if you know what I mean, before you showed up this summer. This beating will make you go away.”

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    2. Thank you for the feedback! I must be honest; this is my first fight scene. I needed to test my character's newfound confidence with an unexpected problem that can be connected to earlier in the story. I think it sounds much better with less words and it creates more tension, which I am looking for to keep my middle school audience intrigued and reading.

      Off to make revisions - thank you again!

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    3. Andy, SO glad! That's always my ONLY point in doing these quick revisions: to show you that the words are there and working and that you can really do just the tiniest polish to make them start to shine! if they werent there, then my two minute revision wouldn't be any help at all! And if this is your first fight scene, kudos! I've never done one (!) but I know they are hard!

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  31. You are a brave one offering to read all of these and offer feedback. I think that is even more brave than posting writing here. This piece is a response to the writing prompt about a kitchen scene:

    You could see it in the hunching of her shoulders and her downcast eyes. Feel it crackling in the air. Waves of fear rolled through her that night as he raged. A torrent of words flooded the kitchen -berating, questioning and threatening her. A pan sailed through the air narrowly missing her, leaving a dent in the wall. Every part of her body tensed, but all the while, her hands methodically continued picking up dishes to wash and rinse, wash and rinse, wash and rinse.

    She shrank into herself and into her mind keeping her eyes focused on the soapsuds and dishes. She hoped for peace as her eyes welled with tears. She hoped for safety as her hands shook. Maybe the storm of anger would burst in a fury and fizzle out quickly, unlikely though that seemed at the time. The mantra kept running through her head, "It'll be over soon, it'll be over soon, it'll be over soon." She just wanted to be invisible so he couldn't see her fear or tears. Tears always made the anger escalate though she didn't totally understand why.

    Years later she would wonder if her tears made him feel guilty. If it turned a mirror to him. Made him remember his own childhood and realize that he had passed on his own nightmares to his little girl giving her a legacy of fear and distrust. She would wonder if that knowledge pained him. Had he been aware of how people close to him dreaded his intensity and rage? She would wonder how it felt to be so consumed with fury and overcome by extreme emotions. She would wonder if that emotional demon inside him was the main reason he chose to die, and most of all, if there could have been a way to vanquish it before it was too late.

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    1. LL, we'll see if I can keep it up with the amount of wonderful stuff pouring in, but it really helps ME and MY writing to participate in this exercise! So it's a win-win, I hope. :)

      Your excert is painful and lovely. It's a very narrative piece, almost free-standing feeling, so I'm not really hooked or not hooked so much as really enjoyed reading what it is -- the repetition works well for me, and I really sense this woman's pain. Keep going!

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  32. I really like this and related to it, perhaps I was in trouble too much as a child ;) Your writing is so clear. I didn't find my mind wandered anywhere when I read and, well I'm tired and have had two glasses of red wine. Ha!

    Here is my submission. I have been wanting to write about Fish for while, but had to much fear to start. I used this assignment and will from here on out to craft something that might happen to Fish one day. Maybe I'll have to piece my book together at some point, but for now it's all about perspective.

    Fish slipped in to the library through the four inches of open door between the computer lab and the library. The silence in the hall chased her through the door more quickly than she would have liked. A white heat spread through her face as she scanned across the round tables and stacks. Empty. She took a deep breath and held it. Then she let it out slowly. The relief spread through her body and relaxed her muscles. She had maybe 20 minutes before they would notice her absence in the lunchroom. Fish pushed her brown hair out of her eyes, skooched under Mrs. Rash’s enormous wooden desk and pulled the chair back into place. Finally she sucked in her stomach and slid the book out of the front of her purple corduroys.

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    1. Kimberly, love this and love the name Fish! Maybe because I'm a waterbaby, but it makes me instantly drawn to her. :) Love the sentence "Empty." as offset by the longer ones around it. Builds good drama and feeling. Looking forward to reading more of what happens to Fish!

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    2. Thank you so much. I feel so excited by so much great feedback. I already feel like Fish is someone I need to care for and share.

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  33. Holy cow! There are lots of people chiming in for Friday Feedback today! I love it! I'm going to go peruse and see what people are up to, but wanted to post my own before I forget! I'm trudging away through my WIP so this is still first draft and in the meandering middle...but it's something!

    From the other parts of Frankie Sky that I've read, this sounds different but very intriguing...sounds like she might be in deep trouble...and for some reason, I'm envisioning Weekend At Bernie's after the part about how still the cabana is! I'm definitely curious to read more! *mwah!*


    ***


    Sarah pats the tree stump next to her and smiles. Before I sit, I kick off my mini-heels and let the cool grass hug my toes. My eyelids flutter closed and I take a cleansing breath. I sigh and drop onto the wobbly stump and lean into Sarah.
    “You okay?”
    “Yeah, why?”
    “I didn’t know how you would react to Hayden being here.”
    “He’s here?” I sit up, frantically looking around at the faces around me, wrenching my neck around to look back at the crowd near the house. I had been so caught up in greeting everyone and running around helping my mom that Hayden hadn’t even crossed my mind. Now I scan my memory of the last hour and a half…I do remember seeing his parents talking to my dad but I don’t remember seeing Hayden with them. My head is still nonstop, turning this way and that like a frightened bird and I’m sure Sarah can see my eyes widening by the second.
    “Relax. Your dad sent him and Eliot out to get more ice.”

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    1. Jen - I love your description of how she reacts when Sarah tells her Hayden is there. I can see it clearly.

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    2. Jen, first of all THANK YOU for all your amazing, insightful help with Friday Feedback. Not sure I'll be able to do this without you!

      Secondly, love this piece and, yes, how girly it is. You do girly WELL! Love the feeling of true, deep, comfortable friendship you get in the opening lines and then the switch to panic and maybe even some betrayal as she realizes Hayden is there. Great stuff. Now, go back and count how many times the word "around" is in there and revise... ;)

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    3. Poop. You know, I totally reread and only counted it twice...and then had to slow down and do it again to notice it four times. Around how many times do you think is too much to use 'around'? When I get around to revising I'll look around for the word 'around' and then send it to you to read, if you are around. :)

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    4. Can't believe it took me until Monday to make the time to come back and read your chunk, Jen!

      What works best for me? The little detail of her kicking off her shoes and sticking her toes in the grass. I don't know this character yet, but that one little bit speaks to me (though I'm not "girly" enough to know what mini heels are!)

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  34. I like the use of dialog here, Jen, sounds just like teens. Nice opening, satisfying, but then that name, Hayden, appears, & on the two words, anxiety appears. Using the word 'wrenching' makes it happen along with 'frantically'. It all goes together to make me want to know what is going on, why this Hayden is such a problem? You got a lot in in these few words.

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    1. Thanks, Linda! Dialogue is really important to me because sometimes I read/hear it in a book and it sticks out to me as sounding funny. I appreciate your feedback!

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  35. Here is the beginning of a middle grade story I'm working on:

    You see them everywhere. Those signs with the missing cats. I know some of those kitties turn up, but how about those that never do? Not in the shelter, not at a neighbor’s house, not even picked up in the street by the animal control guy. They had to be somewhere. But I just never imagined in a million years that they would end up on that island. It seems beyond belief, but I’m telling you, it’s true. I got mixed up in this whole thing before I even knew what was happening. Not to mention that I pulled Melvin into it, too. Now he’s ruined for life. If I knew it would turn out the way it did, I would have never followed that yellow van.

    I’m not an adventurous kind of kid, just stick to my internet games or hang around the house bugging my mom, or make up lies to see if my little brother, Sam, will fall for it. I must have been bored that day I was looking out the window. Maybe I was coming up with a real whopper to tell Sam. I can’t remember exactly. I happened to lock eyes with this little orange cat on the sidewalk, and then I couldn’t stop watching him. He was super cute. And real scampery. Running up trees and pouncing at nothing, then chasing his tail in circles. He was so funny. I was dying to have my own kitty.

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    1. Diane, welcome to FF! Super like this little piece -- feels very unique and intriguing. . . it also feels middle grade vs. YA. Yes?

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    2. It's middle grade, and thanks, Gae! Is it ok to post middle grade, or even picture book here?

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    3. Yes! Absolutely! Though I am no picture book expert! I wish I was. Would LOVE to write a picture book! So Kate might be a better person for feedback on that. But, yes, I was just trying to make sure the voice was what you were hoping. It is, so KUDOS!

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  36. Here's a quick snippet from my very, very new WIP#2:

    Izzy and Matt slouched against her locker, him leaning on her, pressing her arms at her sides, kissing her hard enough that they were the only ones in the hallway or maybe the school. Izzy’s torso crumpled in but she didn’t care—Matt’s weight rebuilt her, and if her hair got messed up, so much the better. It gave her that loved/smeared look she wore like a crown. Matt’s girlfriend. Matt’s skin and lips and hair and legs.
    The bell rang and they unhooked from each other.
    “Meet me at my car after 7th?” Matt asked, even though they met there every day.
    “’Course.”
    A raised lecherous eyebrow from Matt and they were off, in different directions but in concert, movements mirroring each other the way of longtime dancing partners.

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    1. Lisa, welcome to FF! Sensual little piece. I like. ;)

      Some unique ways of putting things that I also like. We do get that deep sense of teen lust and losing oneself in another -- or gaining ourself in another, maybe. The only think I subjectively have an issue with is the word lecherous, which feels contrary to the deep but good lust feelings going on here - and TO ME connotes a sort of dirty old man feeling. But maybe that's just me. Others feel free to chime in. Keep going! Good stuff.

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    2. I like it too but there are a few parts that make me feel like it's semi-abusive - like her arms pressed to her sides, how her torso crumples in, and does she love him or love the reputation for being with him? And then lecherous, too. I guess my question is, are you going for a maybe unhealthy relationship here, or do they really have a great thing going and are super in love? You have the sexual tension, definitely, just not sure if we like Matt or not and if we are supposed to like Izzy with Matt.

      I hope it's okay to say that...I think having someone read and let you know what they read from your words does really help to decide if you were able to send the message you meant to send. And this is just a short part so we have no idea if we like Matt or not. I say definitely keep going and just keep in mind how we interpret your description of Matt. :)

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