Monday, October 29, 2018

Blue Monday Open Critique

Blue Moon Monday is back! Open Critique Day! Let's all work on your stories!!
Today if you came early to Seekerville it was SPOOKY!
So spooky you all oughta get a Snickers at the door!
But here I come, ghosting in to present
Blue Moon Monday!  
Post a paragraph, the opening, the blurb, whatever you've got in mind and we'll talk, critique and make fun of RUTHY.
Because c'mon that's just fun.
 

62 comments:

  1. And here I thought I was doing so well, not forgetting ANYTHING and planning December.... and then this....

    AY YI YI!!!!!

    I cannot be trusted, my friends.

    EEEK!

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  2. Maybe just you and me today, Ruthy, talking to each other. :)

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  3. I'm moving slow today and it seems everyone else is too! Okay, I'll be brave and share. This is the first couple of paragraphs from my WIP, a medieval set in England 2014. Put your red pen to it, pretty please.

    Ian McGowan’s heart sank as he topped the hill and viewed Whitfield castle. Even from this distance, he saw the sad state of the structure. No doubt time spent under siege of a catapult had marked the walls like one who had survived the pox.

    ‘Twas no wonder his sire and siblings passed on this poor piece of property. That, and the fact it stood on English soil. He cared not whether ‘twas Scottish or English. Land was land, and he would claim it and finally be lord of something of worth.

    Of little worth, ‘twould seem.


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    1. Somebody has come to play!!!! Happy dancing! This will teach me to travel around the country and pretend I have a brain!!!

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    2. Wait...we have to have a brain while traveling? Hhhm, mine always slips away with all the details of travel. lol

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    3. Oh be still my historical loving heart!!!! I love this.

      Sherrinda, I'd punch up that opening lines in one of two ways, I think.

      Whitfield Castle was way worse than Ian McGowan had been told, and his pain-in-the-neck siblings had told him plenty.

      Pock marks dotted the outer walls like bread left to rise too long. Gaping cracks snaked paths along stone fittings. Insidious ivy saw the possibilities and had taken adventage of the new nooks and crannies and had overgrown the lower walls seeking root-holds every few inches.

      I love the second paragraph and the closing of it... the promise of potential!

      But I'd punch up the opening paragraph to sound DIRE...

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    4. The worst of it is, it would have taken ten minutes to put up an invitation to critique and then I would have looked SMART!!! And on top of things.

      But why mess with reality now, I ask???

      :)

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    5. Ooooooo!!!! Yes, Ruth! I love that! Description and setting are so difficult for me. I always want to get to the action and dialogue. But your descriptive words painted such a picture...I love it! Thank you so much!

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    6. Sherrinda, my only reaction........because I love the idea of this, is.....I misread the opening. To me it said (fumbling here...um...)

      It said the castle had been hit by the pox. Like small pox. It sounded like......small pox hitting a castle left a mark even worse than a siege with a catapult.

      When I read Ruthy's take I realized the 'pox' part of your opening meant the marks left by the catapult. But you can see that the meaning slid by me. So make that clear.

      But I do love the idea of this. He wants that castle--mess that it s, and that land, but UGH England! :D But he's taking it anyway.

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    7. Mary, LOL, I can totally see how the wording was misleading! Haha. I think what Ruth offered up fixes the issue and ramps up the awfulness of his inheritance.

      Y'all, thanks for your help! I always need it! (((hugs)))

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    8. I love brainstorming this fun stuff!!!!

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    9. What does it feel like when your heart sinks?

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    10. LOL...James, it feels heavy, weighted with the work of all that mess of an inheritance. :) Thanks for pointing that out.

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  4. Sherrinda! I love it! I love me a good Scots/English tussle! :)

    I love that he's got a goal right from the get-go!

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    1. Thanks, Erica! It gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it). The castle comes with a bride who hates Scots. She hasn't heard about the inheritance and refuses to let him in. :)

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    2. This sounds like so much fun! So like some of Julie Garwood's early historicals. :)

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    3. It does have a Garwood kind of feel, doesn't it? Lock out those Scotsmen!!!!

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  5. Ok. I'm going to take advantage of this as often as you're willing to do it!

    Right now I'm buckling down to finish a story I want to have ready for the Genesis in March, but I have another story lined up as soon as that one is finished. All planned out, a few hundred words written, but that's it. (I promise, Jan, that's it. This really is sitting on the back burner until I finish the other one. Cross my heart!) It's literary, about two girls who escape a cult but in very different ways with very different results.

    Here are the opening paragraphs:

    My heart broke at her blissful ignorance.

    She flung herself right into the trap, entirely unaware of the life of pain that lay in front of her tiny feet. And I pushed her toward it. I had to. With the Prophetess at my shoulder, piercing into my cracked soul with those venomous green eyes, I couldn't waver or hesitate. So, I took little Diana's hand, smiled at her mother, and walked her to the edge of the pool. We treaded into the warm water. Wind rustled the oak leaves over our heads. Clouds shifted the light and covered the pond in shadow. Did the little seven-year-old Diana shiver? The chill pricked the hair on my arms as the water gently lapped the hem of my white robe.

    It was only a few years ago, but I barely remember being seven. Had I been this excited too? I remember Kate Lynn there, before her first vision, holding my hand just like I held Diana's now. The urge to yank her free of the water tingled in my chest and snaked down my arm toward the fingers grasping hers. What would I have done if Kate Lynn had pulled me away? Would I have resisted? What would happen if I pulled Diana away now? I fought the tightening muscles and spread my fingers apart, opening my palm and letting my arm fall to my side, the fingertips brushing the surface of the pool and sending out small ripples. The small girl's frame sunk to her waist as she stepped away from me toward the middle. Ned stood solemnly in the center of the water, hands pressed together in front of his chest, a frown etching pious lines at the corners of his mouth. His hands separated and spread toward Diana as she met him in an embrace. He pressed a kiss into her forehead and turned her to face me, and the congregation behind me.

    Her dark eyes found mine. I pressed my lips into a smile, praying it looked sincere and not like the mockery I felt it to be.

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    1. Wow... I didn't realize how long that was until after I hit "publish." If you only want to work with the first chunk of it, that's fine with me! LOL

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    2. Oh.

      Well.

      This draws the reader right into wanting to save these girls AND possibly kill Ned.

      I'm just saying, even though I'm a non-violent person, if old Ned is putting these children in danger, he and I need to have a go-around.

      And I'm fierce, by the way....

      BUT that's not the topic here, and Megan I would change very little of this right now... My advice on that might change later in the story, depending on how the timeline evolves, but this is a great opening.

      I would pare some words.

      I would replace "her" with Diana's in opening line.

      And I'd change "flung" because she's walking in... not jumping or flinging...

      I'd change tiny feet to little feet because if they're only a few years apart, then Diana wouldn't be "tiny" to her... but smaller, because she's younger.

      "Treaded into the warm water" is confusing because people tread water... but I think you mean walking into or advancing into the water, so I'd change that.

      I'd delete "Diana" from the sentence "Did the little seven-year-old shiver?" And I'd remove "gently" from the water lapping because it's already implied by "lapping".

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    3. I'd lose the "It was only a few years ago..."

      I barely remember being seven, even though it was only a few years back. Was I this excited? (Because she's thinking to herself, so I'd keep it in simple past tense.)

      I would separate the 'urge to yank her free' sentence into two sentences for strength and urgency.

      And I'd break the long sentence of her letting go into smaller ones....

      Diana's small frame sank to the waist as she stepped toward the middle. Trusting. Believing. Longing to be one of the chosen. (I'm adding this to give the idea of layering the evil and how desperately wonderful things can seem to a gullible child)

      Megan...

      This gives me chills.

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    4. Wow Ruthy! Thank you!

      And sorry to get you all riled up.

      On second thought, no I'm not. I'm pretty happy about that ;)

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    5. And I just saw your second comment. I LOVE the way you broke those pieces up. I'll note that and be sure to do it (or something like it) when I go back to this part. Thank you again!! Your feedback is invaluable!

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    6. Someday I am coming to your store for ice cream and we can talk writing in person... with Jan!!!! And anyone else who wants ice cream!!!

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    7. You're invited any time!!! I'd love to see you and treat you to some ice cream!!

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    8. I'm here! Do I dare brag...um, share...that I had lunch at Armadillos today? Savoring the last steamburger and pumpkin/caramel sundae of the year. It's going to be a long time until March 1st!

      Ruthy, I can't wait until you make it out here. I have your spot at Armadillos already picked out!

      And Meg, I loved your story beginning!

      Now, go work on that Genesis entry!!!

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    9. Jan, you had me at pumplin/caramel sundae. Yum!

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    10. I'm always up for ice cream at Armadillo's...and with Ruthy? That would be the cherry on top so save a spot for me!

      Meg-your writing always blows me away. This is beautiful

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    11. Glynis -- That's high praise! Thank you so much! I hope to see you Friday :)

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    12. Jan -- Yes ma'am. *salutes and opens up the Genesis WIP* ;)

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  6. this is an idea I have for a story but not sure where to begin and have some of it be back story. It is long I'll try to shorten it. I'm sure I've mixed tenses and grammar is not perfect since it is just my thoughts as I wrote them down. I don't even have a title yet.
    Ivory and George grew up in San Diego, California and have known each other all their lives. They both decided to go to a Christian University in Greenville, South Carolina. While at the university, they continued to be good friends By their sophomore year they began to date each other. He was studying to be an architect and she was in medical school to be a pediatrician.Even before they married they talked about all the children needing to be adopted. Their plan was to have children of their own but to also adopt.After they married.Life goes on both desire to have a baby but no baby comes.Three years later they begin running tests to find out why they haven’t conceived. Ivory’s womb is tilted making it next to impossible to conceive. George also had problems and was told that he would never be a father.They are both devastated and have to come to terms with this news.A year goes by as they pray about adoption and apply to adoption agencies.In the meantime theye learns of a baby through the missionaries in Arizona about a pure blooded Navajo due to be born in 6 weeks. She is a new Christian and wants her baby to be raised in a Christian home. The baby is a boy. Ivory is allowed to be in the delivery room and because she is doctor she is also allowed to assist in the delivery.They go through all kinds of red tape because of his native American heritage. They have to live in Arizona until the judge gives permission to return to their home in California. He is able to work from Arizona with his job but has to fly frequently back to California. Ivory is on maternity leave from her job.While in Arizona, one day Ivory tells George to pull over to the side of the road, the baby is turning blue. She immediately grabs the baby from the carseat and revives him. In all they go through a total of three adoptions all with unique difficulties and happy surprises.

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    1. Wilani, this has so much growth potential! Go you!

      I will give you advice I got from Marilyn Tyner and her sister Alice Wootsen when I was new:

      Pick one story and tell it well.

      That single bit of advice helped me to learn to focus on the story... and to make sure that I told the story for the reader's best enjoyment. There's so much we want to say as authors... but we kind of have to adopt Ecclesiastes 3 when we write and pick a time for every purpose... and story... under the heavens.

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    2. Thanks Ruth I am wondering if I develop it more into a series. I see your point. My niece has adopted 3 children two of which are native American so I have plenty of fodder

      I am thinking of starting where Ivory and George begin to notice each other as more than friends.

      Thank you for your input.

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  7. I was one of the early birds. By the way I am having a vertigo free day and loving every minute of it.

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    1. Wilani, I'm glad you're feeling good today. God bless you.

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    2. I'm glad, too! That's wonderful to hear, Wilani!

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  8. Here is the opening of a story I am currently writing. I have one phrase I am not sure about. Hope it isn't too long.

    “Look at all the gorgeous leaves. They are glistening in the early morning sun.” Jackie Abbot spoke to all the nature around her while snapping picture after picture of the autumn splendor on top of Lazy Bear Mountain in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.
    “Thank you, Lord for the majesty of your creation.”
    Jackie enjoyed being on top of the mountain. She loved this time where she could be alone with the Lord. She breathed in the fresh air.
    Jackie heard a motorcycle and the crunch of gravel from the road leading up from Punkintown, where she had lived all her life. Unfortunately there were no single men in her town that met her qualifications for marriage. He must be godly and must love the Lord with all his heart.
    As Jackie turned toward the motorcycle, she noticed the handsome man climbing off his bike. She wondered if this could be the answer to her prayers.
    Rob Hodges walked to the edge of the pinnacle. “Do you mind if I join you with this magnificent view of God's creation.”
    “Welcome to Lazy Bear Mountain. It's my favorite place.”

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    1. Wilani, this is just the way my head works, but if a biker pulled up to me, out alone in the wilderness, standing on the top of a cliff, I'd find an ominous thread there.
      Is that what you're going for?

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  9. I actually did come early to find NO new post! Nothing to share for a critique but I'm glad to find you back!
    Blessings!!

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    1. Connie, my bad! I forgot to post it for critique day... Duh on me!

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  10. Here's my first four paragraphs:

    Isabella de la Porta whipped her candy red BMW convertible into her reserved parking space. Leaving the top down, she grabbed her briefcase from the back and briskly walked to the private elevator. As she waited for the elevator doors to open she removed the scarf from her hair. Convertibles are great in the springtime in Atlanta but played havoc with her hair. The doors opened, and Isabella stepped inside. Pressing the up button, the elevator glided straight to the third floor of her salon and opened into the foyer of her office. Plush carpet, the color of a new bride’s blush, covered the floor. Rich burgundy leather sofas and chairs were scattered throughout. Isabella’s eyes swept the room one time and was assured that everything was in order.
    “Good morning, Fran,” Isabella spoke to her receptionist.
    “Good morning, Ms. de la Porta. Here are your messages and the Russell’s are downstairs in the lounge waiting for you.”
    “The Russell’s?” Isabella glanced at her watch. “Aren’t they early?”

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    1. I want that candy red convertible, Cupcake.

      SIGH.....

      Hey, lose the apostrophe at the end of Russells for me, please...

      And we've changed tenses here... past tense in opening sentences and then present (are) in sentence four.... And I'd probably shorten it to "Convertibles are great in springtime Atlanta"...

      And I'd alter the "Isabella spoke to her receptionist" to something else.... Maybe a completely new sentence.

      "Good morning, Fran." Isabella addressed her long-time receptionist as she crossed the wide foyer. (or something like that, darling, you know what I mean!!!)

      And why are the Russells early?

      And why are they there???

      AND WHO ARE THEY???????

      :)

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    2. I want that candy red convertible - that's why I put it in the story! Thanks for the tips on changing tense - my nemesis! You'll have to read the book to find out why the Russells are early, why they're there and who the Russells are (hint: old Atlanta $$$. Thanks, sweetie!

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  11. Edwina, I love the intro to Isabella. And 'the russells are obviously trouble. :) I've read on.
    I really love 'te color of a new bride's blush.' Nice phrase.

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  12. I decided I'd paste the opening to my WIP, currently titled Woman of Sunlight.

    Woman of Sunlight
    Bucksnort, Colorado, (near real-life Durango and the four corners area)
    Hope Mountain – November 1873
    Chapter One
    “You look awful.” Mitch Warden studied Ilsa’s face.
    Ilsa Marsden’s face was peppered with half-healed blisters left from having chicken pox.
    Mitch had given her the sickness. He’d brought it with him when he came home.
    Mitch wasn’t all the way healed—but he was two weeks ahead of Ilsa.
    She glared at him. “You look awful, too.”
    He didn’t really. He was mostly better. And truth be told, he was a good-looking varmint. Not overly tall, but tall compared to her. Dark blond hair. A nice square chin and brown eyes that made her think of a the rich wood of an old oak.
    But all that wasn’t a good enough reason to not to insult him back.

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    1. Haha! A good-looking varmint! I love it. And may I say that as an adult that got chicken-pox from her son, the visual on this...whew! Of course, I was six months pregnant when I got them so the blisters went where the heat was...my belly. Sad thing is, I couldn't get the soothing oatmeal bath high enough to get my belly in. Sigh....

      I like your beginning. Dialogue always sucks me in, especially when insults fly about. You are fabulous at that. And the color of his eyes...such a unique description. <3 I was thrown a bit by their names. Their last names "look" similar, so if you read fast like me, I read it the same and thought they were married. But I figured it out quickly and thought I might just be dyslexic for a minute. I do tend to flip numbers around at times.

      Looking forward to your next book! They are always such fun to read.

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    2. Mary, this is so much fun... and Ilsa. When does she punch him? Soon, I hope!

      Men.

      Sheesh.

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    3. Well, she saves his life in the first chapter--when gunmen come hunting him. After that, he's a little bit afraid of her.

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    4. Marsden and Warden is too much alike? Uh-oh. I take that really seriously.
      I wonder if it's too late to change it! No, it's not.

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    5. Mary, do not listen to me!!! You do not have to change their names!!! I'm sure no one else even thought anything of it.

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  13. This is the meet-cute from my WIP. I'm afraid it's a little too cheesy. (Also, sorry it's so long.)

    She hadn’t realized just how quiet it was until she heard a noise.
    Slam!
    Madeleine jumped and fumbled to catch her pencil and notebook. It was probably just a church member slamming the front door.
    “Hello?” Madeleine called out timidly.
    Silence. Perhaps she could yell a little louder.
    “Hello! Who’s there?”
    Silence again. Maybe she had made it up and no one was there after all.
    Thump.
    Nope, definitely someone there. She would have to investigate.
    Madeleine opened the nearest door to find something to use as protection, just in case. It was a children’s classroom, and they must have been studying the Armor of God because Madeleine found a long, wooden sword labeled “Spirit” at the front of the room. Brandishing the sword in one hand and her phone in the other, Madeleine reentered the hallway.
    Thud.
    She followed the source of the noises until she was fairly certain she was around the corner from the intruder. Madeleine took a deep breath and jumped out into the hallway, crashing into a tall man and accidentally whacking him with the sword in the process, landing on her rear end.
    “I’m so sorry!” As Madeleine looked up to see who she had hit, it was obvious this was not an intruder. The man in question wore a look of shock and confusion on his kind, freckled face. He yanked a set of earbuds out of his ears and pressed pause on his phone. He carried a mop in one hand and Madeleine noticed a rolling bucket spinning down the hallway away from them. He looked to be around her age—twenty-five tops—and he had a full head of auburn hair.

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    1. LOL, oh, I love this. Very cute meet, Sarah.

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    2. Sarah, this is funny... and a little tiny bit cheesy. But cheesy can be good in small doses....

      So I would shorten some of these sentences. Make them a little choppier.

      Madeleine jumped and fumbled to catch her pencil and notebook.

      Was it a church member who forgot to catch that old door in the wind?
      Or someone way more nefarious.
      “Hello?” Madeleine called out timidly.
      Silence. Perhaps she could yell a little louder.
      “Hello! Who’s there?”
      Silence again. Maybe she had made it up and no one was there after all.
      Thump.
      Nope, definitely someone there. She would have to investigate.
      Madeleine opened the nearest door to find something to use as protection, just in case. It was a children’s classroom, and they must have been studying the Armor of God because Madeleine found a long, wooden sword labeled “Spirit” at the front of the room. Brandishing the sword in one hand and her phone in the other, Madeleine reentered the hallway.
      Thud.
      She followed the source of the noises until she was fairly certain she was around the corner from the intruder. Madeleine took a deep breath and jumped out into the hallway, crashing into a tall man and accidentally whacking him with the sword in the process, landing on her rear end.

      She scrambled back. Looked up. Felt all shades of stupid because the auburn-haired guy-- young, good-looking guy, she noticed-- was wearing earbuds and carrying a phone. And nothing about him suggested mal-intent.
      “I’m so sorry!”

      Sarah, that gives you an idea of what I mean. You've got a fun, humorous side to your writing and polishing that sets you apart from so many authors. A lot of authors just don't know how to be actually funny...

      But you do.

      Thanks for doing this today!

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  14. Thank you so much! The shorter sentences help a lot.

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  15. From Active Waiting...
    On his way to work, he listened to Prosperous Souls. It still seemed like something was blocking him from the passion he had always had for this band, and the zest he had once had for living, and even the great uplifting messages John Stanley had in the songs. Was it because Tom was no longer in a band and didn’t have his long hair, which was what a lot of fans loved about him? If only his band could have been around longer and been famous...like Prosperous Souls. Then perhaps would his own soul would be prosperous? If so, he couldn’t begin to imagine the new money he’d receive from royalties. However, he was deeply in debt, behind on paying his bills. Some of it was due to being too stressed to remember to pay them on time. Consequently, a big chunk of his budget was wasted on late fees.

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    1. Faye, I just saw this... and I'm feeding a little one... so I will be back!

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    2. So here's what I would suggest, pretty lady...

      Have him turn off the music. Instantly you make the point that he's divested himself from the sound. The words. The music.

      Right now you're telling us what he's thinking. Doing. Mulling.

      Mulling can kill a story.

      Show his dissatisfaction or his anger.

      Toughen it up. Do it your own way, but here's an idea of what I mean.

      Music.
      Yes.
      He hit the button. Guitar and keyboard filled the air with up-notes. Bass. Percussion. And then the voice. John's voice. John Stanley, the singer songwriter that bound hearts to souls and souls to Jesus. A guy worth millions. At least.

      Prosperous Souls.

      He'd wanted that. Worked for it. Spent time and money and dedicated himself and his money on a cause that never came to fruition. He worked until he was in debt and drained and...

      He reached for the on/off switch.

      He didn't need John Stanley rapping about the trials and tribulations of life. The guy was rolling in dough. What he did need was quiet. And that was one thing he could control.

      He shut the radio off.


      Ruthy again: I'm not sure what your story is all about... discontentment, anger, change of life... but I think if we grab the reader with the character's real-deep emotions, we grab more readers... making them want to read further.

      I'm so glad you came over to work with us today.

      Wait.

      PLAY with us. :)

      Not work.

      Pshaw.

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