Friday, August 3, 2018

Hands-On Friday: A Day to Boldly Go Where No Writer Has Gone Before

Well, except the last time we did this! Good morning, friends!

Today is all about you! We're not putting even one promo in this post, because it's not about us... It's about you.

It's "Hands-On Friday", a day when we look at what you've done...

A "sneak-peek", if you will...

And then we rip you to shreds in front of God and everybody.

(Wait. This is SEEKERVILLE!!!! We would never do that!)

Okay, back it up. Hit pause....

Back to the sneak peek thing.... So we look at the paragraph or concept you post and we tell you what we think... how you might want to strengthen it. Why it grabs us... or why it doesn't.

Must you be brave?

No! Of course not.

Should you?

Totally up to you.

But I'm here to tell you that courage is a mainstay in this business. Rejection is the norm. Not the exception. Reader reviews that pull at your work are part of the current normal, so unless technology is to suddenly disappear (there's a story basis for you right there!) you need to pull up those big kid panties and get on with things because there is nothing easy about this business... except the writing part, which we love!


So there you have it.

Do not feel pressured. Do not feel like you have to do this. But if you do, we'll give you an honest (but nice!) reaction.

The world won't end. (well, okay, it could, God hasn't shared his Armageddon timeline with yours truly, but it will not end because of a writing blog. Guaranteed!)

And you might get some insight.

Here's what you do: Post in the comments. You may post either a story concept (A paragraph or two about your book, how you see it, what it's about.) OR....

Your opening two paragraphs of your story.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. (I love that line, but I know you're shaking in your boots right now... And I might be kind of laughing. Or not!) ;)

It's Friday morning, August 3, 2018.

Do you know where your manuscript is?

Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing inspirational romance and women's fiction from her pumpkin farm in Western New York where it hasn't rained but once in two months and she's hand-watering nearly 900 mums that she will then sell in a few weeks... She calls it mum therapy.... and mum workout. Either way, when she's not writing beautiful, award-winning stories she's either working on the farm, hanging with grandkids or baking something wonderful... you can friend her on facebook, visit her website ruthloganherne.com or follow her on Twitter... @RuthLoganHerne. Where you can also follow us here at Seekerville! @SKRViLL

169 comments:

  1. I can't believe I'm first.

    I will admit no one else has seen this part of one of my stories. I honestly want opinions on how I can make it better. At first I had her eyes bugging out in fear but since it is in her view point she wouldn't see that so I took it out and tried to replace with something better

    Here it is. My title is Unexpected Betrothal

    The next morning Melissa woke up before Jackson. Not wanting to wake him, she slipped outside to enjoy a cup of tea on the beach. It was a glorious morning. The waves rolling onto shore were melodious. Sea gulls flew over head. Sandpipers played on the beach.

    She could sit and enjoy this marvelous scene forever.

    A hand suddenly covered her mouth. “Don’t you dare say a word or scream I have a gun. You will do as I say.”

    She trembled in fear.

    Silently she prayed. “Lord help Jackson to know what is happening.”

    Men grabbed her.

    She was forced into scuba gear.

    Who are these men? What are they doing here? Where are they taking me? I can't swim! Lord, Please Help!

    Melissa struggled to get away, but they were much stronger and had a gun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is actually not at the beginning of the book

      Delete
    2. Well, this is a gripping scene in more ways than one!

      Wilani, what a lovely improvement in your story telling abilities... first let me say that out loud, you've stuck with this biz and practiced regularly and it's given you a marvelous uptick!

      Okay, here are some thoughts, do with them as you wish. Use them. Toss them. Print them out and have a ceremonial burning party. Always your choice!!!!

      I love that we start out sublime and then wham!

      Here are a few changes I would suggest:

      Melodious waves rolled to the shore before slipping back, one beneath the other.

      And I'd add a link between the description and Melissa with an action on her part. She sipped her tea OR She drank in the quiet beauty OR The pastoral scene softened her senses while the sand warmed her toes... something to bridge between the setting and staying there forever....


      After the hand covers her mouth, have her feel the cold barrel of the gun in her side. Keep his words minimal. Evil men say little because it's less to convict them later. And I'd use Jackson as their leverage. She doesn't know they don't have him locked up, so they'd use that to control her.

      Something like: "Say a word and lover boy dies." The gun pushed deeper into her side, the cold, round barrel smooth against the thin cotton of her shirt. "Do what you're told and you buy him time. How much depends strictly on you."

      Now scuba gear... that's too vague. I'm thinking wetsuit, the whole enchilada, and that would be impossibly difficult.

      A mask? Oxygen? Explain exactly what they're doing so the reader sees and feels things as Melissa does. Don't go into too much detail. Keep it short, crisp, staccato. Let fear mount in both.

      But SHOW THAT FEAR.

      Right now... show that fear because it's a real, clawing thing at this moment. Prayer is fine, but we need to FEEL LIKE OUR LIVES AND HERS ARE IN DANGER.

      So sharpen that sword, chop some words and let us experience the chills. The horror. The visual. The smell of bad breath, old chili powder, body odor, damp sea grass. Make us feel all that's going on...

      Terrorize us.

      Delete
    3. I REALLY LIKE IT WILANI. It made me feel and worry.
      Yes the wet suit, all I thought was, 'she'd sceam when they uncovered her mouth, so using Jackson for leverage solves that.

      Another thing and this is just brainstorming. I am probably wrong because the lovely pastoral scene is calm and lulling so being grabbed is shocking.

      BUT another way to go is maybe set the scene in a more menacing way.

      A storm at sea. The distant rumble of thunder. Waves higher...or she is thinking they will soon be higher.

      She could even see a couple of men out jogging toward her. Think little of it.
      Maybe look up and see danger at the last second.
      Then WHAM! They grab her as she passed.
      The only reason to do all this is, it's a GREAT scene and it's so FAST.
      Draw it out.
      Have her FEEL that hand on her mouth. Like Ruthy said, set scent, feel, sound, all in there, but don't linger over it, just have her hit with it as they drag her.
      The roar oft he waves are the voices of vicious men.

      Delete
    4. What Mary and Ruthy said :D

      And also, I literally jumped when the guy grabbed her haha! Totally wasn't expecting that at all - great job setting that up :)

      Delete
    5. Thank you so much. I loved your changes and can see it will make it stronger.

      Thanks for your encouragement as well.

      Delete
    6. Mary, the tempest scene would work, too... in a different kind of way, wouldn't it?

      I love both!

      Delete
    7. Yes, Wilani, you really pack punch here. From the serene to the frightening. Great job.

      My first thoughts also went to the gun and, even more, the scuba gear. Have her feel the gun. The weight of the scuba tanks, which would also play into her fear of not being able to swim. She was going to sink and drown for sure.

      Delete
    8. O, eeep! Exciting scene! Thank you for sharing it with us!

      Delete
    9. Eeep! Cue the creepy organ music and pass the popcorn, I'm ready to find out what Melissa has gotten herself into!

      Delete
    10. These have all been so helpful. I've been gone most of the day, but able to check in often to see responses.

      Now it is like I don't want to stop working on that scene and the ones immediately following . But I know I do need to eat something.

      A couple months ago I was thinking I would never get to the point where I would have something ready to present to a publisher, but now while I am still not to that point but feel that just maybe I might be ready at some point. Thanks for the boost of encouragement.

      Delete
  2. Yay Wilani for going first! Can't wait to see your feedback. Definitely would not want to be forced to go scuba diving if I couldn't swim. Actually, I'm too scared to go scuba diving and I can swim!

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  3. I love it when Seekerville gives feedback on openings. Fun.

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  4. Good job Wilani! OK - I'll be brave - as long as I can fake it from this side of my computer. These are the opening paragraphs of a story I hope is published someday:
    Kansas Flint Hills 1894
    Why should she have to go out in the middle of the night with a blizzard raging to look for corn whiskey? Uncle Zeke’s cantankerous mood wasn’t improving and that leg wound must be paining him something fierce. Resi Schultheiss donned her threadbare shawl, grabbed a lantern and set out for the barn.
    No stars. Just blackness mixed with swirling white. Where was that rope? Her gloveless hands found the guide rope strung from the cabin to the barn and she gripped it, praying her fingers wouldn’t grow so numb with cold she couldn’t feel its rough texture. The sooner she could make it to the barn, find the jug and return to the cabin, the sooner she could crawl back into the cot with Mama’s patchwork quilt to still her shivering.

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    Replies
    1. Oh my stars, you know how much I love historicals!!! Cindy, this sounds like so much fun. Rage on, blizzard!!!!

      Okay, I'd flip the opening sentence and instead of asking why, have her doing it and not one bit happy about it. That gives the reader an instant chance to know her... to see her... feel her.

      Resi Schultheiss was about to face a raging blizzard to retrieve some of the devil's own liquor from her cantankerous uncle's not-so-great hiding spot in the barn, and she wasn't one bit happy about it.

      (Is there someone else in this scene, Cindy? Her mother? Sister? If there is someone else besides Uncle Zeke and his bad leg, I'd probably have them either give her a look or chastise her softly... something to draw them into the moment and segue into leaving the building. If not, no worries!)

      Have her tug her shawl on... no donning when she's mad and facing adversity! :)

      Have the blackness engulf her, swirling with whiteness. Show the reader the comparison. She wouldn't look for stars in a blizzard. Have the black night and the storm be a struggle and have the struggle double team her.

      Why gloveless? Tell us. Too poor? Lost? Did she give them away and no time to knit more? That will build the readers' images.

      Have the rope cut into her hands. Have it burn against the cold and you've got another opposite. The black and white the icy cold and the friction of the rope to skin.

      People would miss the barn in these storms. One slight slip and lose the rope and your life is at risk...

      How did Uncle Zeke get wounded? Doing something good? Or not so good?

      That would either add to her endeavor or detract from it.

      This is the perfect scene to set the mood for who she is, what's going on in her life... I love it, it just needs more detail to draw us in so we know Resi in a couple of paragraphs... before we get to know her in a book!

      I'm so glad you did this, Cindy!

      Delete
    2. Ruthy is so much better at this than me!!!
      I saw her suggestions and thought, Yeah, great idea.

      I might make some opening statement that is very dramatic, launch the book with a great opening line.

      Something like.

      Risking her life to fetch her uncle his whiskey was just the last straw.

      cliche alert.

      Ma had said many times Uncle Zeke and his corn whiskey would be the death of her. Now it might well be the death of Resi Schultheiss.

      Only a fool went for a walk in a Kansas blizzard. Resi Schultheiss decided that described her pretty well.

      I've rewritten this a number of times and still am not all the way sold on them.

      Where's her father? Maybe he died from corn whiskey? Or died in a blizzard? That would up the stakes.

      Maybe Uncle Zeke is frightening more than cantankerous when he wants his whiskey....

      Delete
    3. You've got Flint Hills Kansas at the top of this but that's not enough to firmly set the scene, that need to be in the body of the book and right up front.

      No stars on this viciously cold Kansas night. Just blackness mixed with swirling white.

      Delete
    4. Cindy, I love this opener! And I love everything Ruthy & Mary suggested (Can I just say that this reminds me why I'm a reader and not a writer or editor? I would never have thought of these tweaks but they'll make it stronger for sure!) I can't wait to read more, Cindy!

      Delete
    5. Mary, you saw what I was going for... the opening line grabber would do it. I want to know her and this situation right off the bat... is she stoic and hardworking? Or does she want to kick people in the face????

      Delete
    6. Not much left to add, Cindy. Ruthy and Mary have it covered. Great opening, though.

      Delete
    7. I agree with Carrie -- these suggestions are just awesome and such a great hands on lesson. Love the start to your story, Cindy, especially basking in the blizzard conditions since it's so sweltering hot here I'm remembering snowstorms with fondness now. :-) I want to know more about Resi and now my mind is playing out all sorts of scenarios for what happens next.

      Delete
    8. Good job, Carrie. I'm worried she'll lose her way in the storm!!! Oh my!

      Delete
  5. Good morning Ruthy! Can I be absolutely CRAZY and post the first two paragraphs of a completely raw story I just started last night? It's an adventure/fantasy in which the world will crash under mysterious "natural" disasters and the heroine must solve the puzzle and save the world--despite pirates and dragons and hurricane force winds. Ok... I admittedly need to work on the elevator pitch...

    Here we go...

    The salt breeze wafted from the gulf into the tiny coastal village, bringing with it the fresh scent of changing tides and summer promises. The last of the sea ice had dwindled away and drifted south, ushering in the chirping of dolphin pods. Whimsey Gaston’s bike lay discarded at the top of a dune. A trail of footprints cut through the sand down to the shore where her toes tickled the lapping edges of waves spreading along the beach and ebbing away into the depths. She pulled her knit sweater over the goosebumps on her shoulders and hugged away the early morning chill and nervous excitement, her gazed fixed unblinking on the horizon as the sun winked its bright edge above the waves and shot oranges and pinks through the clouds above.
    She smiled.
    Winter had been long. Spring had been volatile. Tempers were short, words clipped, smiles brief, jobs efficient. Now, though, now the people of Weys could relax, ease into the warmth of monsoons and breezes, dance in the downpours and camp in the clear nights. There would be Saga Nights—the smoke of bonfires chasing children in circles as sages chanted line after line of history and myth. There would be the sweet savor of bisap juice on the lips, pulled from the burgundy blooms of the summer trees, and the tart crunch of stripped shoots, boiled to make them chewable and barely digestible.
    And no more shoes.

    ...
    I'll be back with coffee. Have fun shredding! ;)

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    Replies
    1. IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN A WOMAN SAVING THE WORLD!!!??? Go Megan!

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    2. Haha! Thanks Mary! I agree! :)

      Delete
    3. I really liked that Megan. Love the scene you're setting.

      You might want to break up long paragraphs into two or more parts.
      Beyond that I just get almost no sense of where you're going, not without your sentences of explanation before.

      But this is early enough to not be necessary
      It's good.

      Delete
    4. MEGAN! I love that first line so much - "The salt breeze wafted from the gulf into the tiny coastal village, bringing with it the fresh scent of changing tides and summer promises." Beautiful! Loved that whole scene - looking forward to more!

      Delete
    5. Thank you Mary and Carrie! That's so encouraging! I'll have to remember to think about breaking the paragraphs up a bit when I go through it later. Thanks for the tip, Mary!

      Now I'm just bracing myself for the ripping to shreds part that I'm sure is coming...haha ;)

      Delete
    6. Well... Ruthy hasn't come back yet so.... ;)

      Delete
    7. Okay, I'm going to start with a minimal change that I think has maximum results...

      I'm thinking this over.... if this is YA, some do start out waxing sentimental sweetness before the evil empire takes over and slaughters millions and blows up Alderon scenario....

      Or they jump into the horror and then let the reader glimpse the bucolic before through the heroine's eyes...

      She remembers the pastoral scene.

      The scents, the sounds...

      But she's fighting for her life, so she can't dwell on them and the whole thing sucks the teen reader into the abyss of fantasyland, knowing she must, she must, she MUST succeed.

      Or all will perish.

      Delete
    8. So there are two ways of looking at this lovely piece... If you leave it with peace and harmony about to be shattered first, I'd move the sentence about her bike to first... So we meet her first. Then wax poetic....

      Which is very nicely done, by the way...

      And I'm chop some words... sea ice dwindling and drifting... I'd get rid of dwindling, the other paints the picture...

      Ixnay the trail of footprints... she's at the shore, gazing at the horizon, so she's not looking at the footprints behind her, right? Be a little simpler, maybe... Just go to her toes in the sand, lapping water, etc....

      "gazed fixed unblinking..." Lose one or the other, right? If she's unblinking, her gaze is fixed and vice versa... that tightens the imagery for the reader. You want it to weave into their being like a Navajo tapestry, each piece making just enough sense to paint a picture and bring tension. Too much and it wrinkles. Too little and the weave gaps.

      Delete
    9. The second paragraph is about as perfect as they come... I'd get rid of the word "ease" is all, relaxing implies the image.... but what a wonderful paragraph, Megan!

      Okay, I'd probably RAIN DOWN HOLOCAUST on them first, and while she's cowering in the pitch black, beneath a thin canopy of leaves or an outcropping of rock, have her wonder at how much had changed in 8 short hours (or something like that)

      Utter destruction is SO MUCH FUN!!!!

      Delete
    10. Megan, this is a beautiful opening. I'm wondering if it's too beautiful for the horror that is coming. Perhaps you could hint at the coming doom.

      I couldn't help laughing when I read this as you described the story. "Under mysterious "natural" disasters and the heroine must solve the puzzle and save the world--despite pirates and dragons." All I could think of was that this sounds very much like life with young boys. ;)

      Delete
    11. haha Mindy!! Laughing... love that!

      Delete
    12. I have nothing to add, except I can't wait to read the story.

      And I am laughing because of this: "a completely raw story I just started last night"!!! Do we need an intervention???

      Delete
    13. Oh Ruthy, you’re awesome! So much good feedback to work with here. Thank you!!!
      And Mindy—some of this *might* be inspired by my life with an adventurous, outspoken 4 year old girl and her thrill-seeking, mischievous 2 year old brother! Lol And Jan, you know me too well. Intervention at our next ACFW West River meeting?

      Delete
    14. I love your heroine's name -- Whimsey -- perfect for a dragon slaying kind of girl! And the ambiance of those first two paragraphs. I love the calm-before-the-storm start because it makes a reader feel the impact of the wretchedness to come all the more. Plus, since a reader knows she's reading a fantasy with pirates and dragons (eep!) it's kind of a delicious feel to read the sweet stuff knowing that any second...kaboom!!! (hope a reader's input is okay!)

      Delete
    15. Absolutely Kav! Any and all input is helpful! Thank you!

      Delete
    16. I love it Megan. But I want the beautiful day to continue. :)

      Actually, a line that foreshadows what is to come will add eery anticipation. Perhaps something about the calm before the storm, without using the cliche.

      REALLY. NICE. WRITING.

      Delete
    17. Meg! This is fantastic. Just yesterday? I'm so jealous! And an intervention sounds like quite an addition to our regular peaceful meetings :)

      Delete
    18. Great idea, Debbie! It's always good to get outside perspective. I know what I've foreshadowed and feel the coming trouble, but it's still ambiguous enough that for fresh eyes it doesn't set the eerie mood of impending doom yet.

      Glynis--Jan called me out on my ADD idea jumping above! (And in front of all the Seekers... cue the blushing. Lol) But this one was so strong I had to sit down and see where it led! I'm so bummed I missed our last meeting. I totally spaced it! I look forward to next month :)

      Delete
  6. Thanks Ruthy! Really appreciate your input and suggestions!

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    Replies
    1. And you still love me. :) And me, you. The world as we know it has not changed!!! ALL SURVIVED

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  7. Rip you to shreds?
    Imagine my surprise that there are ANY comments!!!

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  8. Congratulations to the brave souls who have shared their work!!! I KNOW how mind-numbingly hard it is to hit that "publish" button...and then to wait for Ruthy's sage advice...

    But let me encourage you if you're thinking of posting but you're wondering if you're brave enough: It is Seekerville posts like these that spurred me on to publication.

    It's an opportunity to get your feet wet in a safe harbor.

    Think of it as a trial run, and then hit that publish button! We're all here to cheer you on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly!!!! This biz is not for the faint of heart.... Be big. Be bold. (Be quieter than I was as a newbie, my foot in mouth disease is well-chronicled)...

      (not kidding...)

      SHOCKER!!!!

      Delete
  9. Good morning, Seekerville! Here's a story I had an idea for. It's more an outline of how I want to set it up, not necessarily the first paragraphs as they will be. What do you think? Rip away...

    Why can’t she remember things? Like the date, what time it is, Daddy said the cable is out. How long has that been? A day? A month? Time just runs together. She wished she could wake up enough to figure out what was going on. She looks out the door and sees a scared dog in the bush outside. She’s got black curly hair and blue eyes. She gets her some food. She doesn’t run away. She gets a brush and brushes her hair. She calls her Lulu. It’s going to be okay. We’re both going to be okay. God’s got this. How do I know this? Someone had told me, but who? My head starts hurting so I come back inside and sit in the living room to watch a movie. Suddenly I feel a prick on my neck. I’m so sleepy. I rub my neck with my right hand. Is that a bump? Those pillows look so inviting. I’ll just lay here a minute. And dream.

    I wake up shaking. The dream seemed so real. A scream. A fall. Blackness. So dark. What happened? And who is that in my dream screaming? It sounds like…no, it couldn’t be. I’ve never screamed like that before. I would remember that. Wouldn’t I? There’s something I need to tell mom. But I can’t remember what it is. Where did she go? Why can’t I remember? Slumber takes over again.

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    Replies
    1. Well this is extremely exciting and scary, Sally.

      Wow, poor girl.

      My only comment, completely useless at this early stage is I wasn't sure if the dog had curly dark hair or the heroine did. But you'd fix that.

      Delete
    2. Wow! That was riveting, Sally. Like Mary, though, I needed clarification between her and the dog. Easy enough to fix. Simply refer to the dog as "it."

      Delete
    3. This is an invigorating example.... And because you're slipping in and out of tenses and timing and thought vs. actuality, it's tricky in a blog post.... that's where the italics come in handy, isn't it?

      So this is her in a fugue state of mind, back and forth... You want a name up front, quickly.... too many she's floating around, person, dog, mom... you want the reader to float with her, not the words and ambiguity. That you want clear to them...

      Sally, you caught collective interest!!!!

      Delete
    4. I am making strawberry jam as I mull these.... it's hot and sticky in here but it smells amazing!

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    5. Ooohhh --- this one is eerie, kind of a Gothic feel. I'd definitely want to read a story like this -- I have so many questions that need answering!

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    6. I'm hooked! And worried about the heroine!

      Delete
    7. Thanks so much for the feedback!

      Delete
  10. By the way, I brought nourishment!

    Donuts for those who love them (they're virtual - no carbs, no calories) and coffee for those who can't function without it.

    There's also a nice pot of Earl Grey and some blueberry muffins made the keto/THM/no grain/no gluten way.

    Help yourselves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Morning Jan! I'll grab one of those GF muffins and pretend the carb-free, calorie-free donuts are also gluten free. ;)

      Delete
    2. Load up, Meg! You don't even have to share with the Munchkins!

      Delete
    3. Jan, I'm here for the muffins and tea.

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    4. I'm in! Muffins and a hot cup of tea would be the dream right now.

      Let's have a tea party!!!

      Delete
  11. Thank you all for this wonderful opportunity! <3 I'm working on my second Love Inspired-length contemporary romance (and about halfway through the first draft). I don't even have a title yet! Quick blurb: "He filled the head trainer position at her father's thoroughbred stable that she always longed for. But she's the key to his success at Dunwoody Stables. Will keeping his job mean losing his heart? (or some version of this...) Thank you! :)


    Emily settled the scratchy wig on her head, adjusting the coarse material above her eyebrows. A kaleidoscope of giddy voices slipped under the half-closed door of the small bathroom in the corner of her classroom. The finger-print smudged mirror reflected her matching excitement about the culminating event for her third-grade students—The Yesterday Show.

    She stroked the long black braids laying over the front of her faux buckskin vest and beaded blouse. A rough denim skirt and shiny boots weren’t exactly what Sacagawea wore in 1805 while trekking across the country with Lewis and Clark, but it would have to do in the present-day Midwest.

    “Ms. D, I wanna’ see you. Why’s she takin’ so long?” Brianna’s chair scraped the floor.
    “She’s gonna’ be a princess.” Marcus didn’t sound excited about the prospect.
    “No, she’s going to be that Indian lady, Sacagia.”

    Sacagawea. Poor Rachel Schroder had struggled with the famous Native American woman’s name during the two-week American History unit. Emily scrunched her nose at the wig’s musty scent. She dabbed the corner of her eye, wiping at a thick smear of eyeliner then pressing her lips tight to even out the nutmeg lip gloss.

    How odd she appeared, glammed up to look more like a woman who’d most likely never known makeup or artifice or vanity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kerry! How fun!! Oh the things that teachers do for their students in the name of education <3

      This is wonderful! i'm immediately engaged and grinning (always a great way to start off a story) but I also sense a bit of underlying sadness in Emily? I could be totally wrong and would look forward to finding out, were I picking this up as a book with lots more chapters to read ;)

      My only suggestion (and please defer to the writing experts instead of me, should they contrast) is this sentence stops the flow a little bit:

      She stroked the long black braids laying over the front of her faux buckskin vest and beaded blouse.

      Instead, maybe something like "Stroking the long black braids that lay over the front of her faux buckskin vest and beaded blouse, she gave her reflection a rueful grin. A rough denim skirt... etc."

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much, Carrie! You're so intuitive. There is an underlying disappointment she's feeling in this scene. She just found out her father hired a new trainer...who will be walking into her classroom in another page or so (bringing his niece, though Emily thinks it's his daughter for the first chapter).

      Great suggestion about that sentence. Thank you!

      Delete
    3. I can't wait to read the rest! :D

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    4. Is it weird that I want to know why she's so glammed up?

      Kerry, this is a great opening. And I think our Carrie nailed it regarding the underlying sadness and the braid. Good job to both of you!

      Delete
    5. Kerry, so nice to see you here!!! And you're welcome, sweet thing! (this is what I say to people to make them think I'm nice. That I'm kind. That I'm empathetic and understanding... and that I want what's best for them...)

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

      And then I turn into the Ruthinator.....

      Okay, I really can't Ruthinate this except... I think your heroine's angst or regret has to be a little more obvious to the average reader.

      CARRIE HAS INCREDIBLE RADAR!!!!

      Most folks are not that well-read, so amp it up slightly.... Let the average joe see and feel that hinted regret... so that when he walks in, and she reacts, it makes perfect sense to the reader.

      I love this set up, and the kids are super adorable.... you know I love kids!!!!

      Delete
    6. I love Love Inspireds. :-) And I'd buy it just from reading your book blurb. Love that opening scene, picking up on the excitement of the kids waiting to see their teacher and thinking that possibly this is going to be the first glimpse the hero is going to get of her and wondering how that first meet is going to go...I'm giddy just thinking about it.

      Delete
    7. Ruthy IS nice and kind and understanding....ignore the bullwhip!!!

      Delete
    8. Nice, Kerry!

      Blurb suggestion: "...the job she thought was hers."

      Tn the line about her clothing: "...but THEY would have to do in the present-day Midwest."

      Tell us just a little something about Briana and Marcus. Children in her riding class, no doubt. But add a bit more. And make sure they each get their own paragraph. (In dialogue, each speaker gets his or her own paragraph.)

      And as has been mentioned, I'd give the reader a little hint at the conflict or the pain of not getting the job she thought was hers.

      BTW, the editors should love a story set in a riding stables! Good for you!

      Delete
  12. It looks like my name didn't appear in the header. Not sure what happened. So sorry! It's Kerry Johnson. :)

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    1. Wow, Kerry! You did a great job with this opening scene. We know so much about the main character: her heart for her students, her interest in history, even her location in the Midwest.

      Thanks for sharing!

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    2. We pay Jan extra to be the nice one.... ;)

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    3. Wait...I'm being paid for this?

      I know, I know. "The check is in the mail."

      #storyofmylife

      Delete
  13. OH how fun!!!! Here's the opening of a story I'm working on. And I have thick skin....rip away!!!

    Jaycee Garland burst through the front door of the large Victorian style house. “Nana! Nana—”
    “You’re tracking mud all over the floor.” The elderly woman appeared next to her.
    Jaycee pressed her hand to her chest. “Are you okay? Where’s Poppa?”
    A blast of cold air swirled through the hallway. Nana Elaine closed the door. “Would you like some hot chocolate? There’s fudge, too.”
    There was always fudge. But that was beside the point. She held up the screen of her smart phone revealing her grandmother’s last message. “What’s wrong? You said there was an emergency.”
    The woman squinted at the tiny screen. “No. I said I needed you right away.”
    Jaycee sucked in her cheeks. “When you put nine-one-one after your message, it means there’s an emergency.”
    “Yes. But I put a smiley face after it.”

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    1. LOL! I love this opening!

      The only change I would suggest is the line, "The woman squinted at the tiny screen." I'd use something a little more specific than 'the woman.' Something to give us a few more details about the character.

      Maybe something like, "Nana squinted, her glasses perched on the top of her head, forgotten again."

      You know the character well, so use this opportunity to show her to us!

      Thanks for sharing, LeAnne!

      Delete
    2. hahahaha i'm laughing out loud! I can already tell I'm gonna love Nana ;)

      LOVE Jan's suggestion too. I would also give a bit more of her personality in this sentence: "The elderly woman appeared next to her."

      Does she have her hands on her hips? Is she tsking? Is she already reaching around Jaycee to shut the door? Is she waving her hands at the mess? Is she giving her a 'classic Nana' look? I don't know but I bet you probably saw her doing something in your head when you wrote that sentence - let us see too! :)

      Delete
    3. I'm laughing too, LeAnne. I can just imagine Jaycee's frustration.

      My only comment is that until you got to the part about the smart phone I thought this was the opening of an historical. Perhaps it was the Victorian house that sent my mind in that direction.

      I want hot chocolate and fudge.

      Delete
    4. I love these suggestions!!!! Can't wait to jump back in Thanks so much!

      Delete
    5. I am in agreement with all these guys, but I am already in love with NANA ELAINE and Jaycee!

      I want the fudge.

      There was always fudge.

      Now that's my kind of house, right there.

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    6. Send the fudge to: PO Box 1291, Rapid City, SD

      Thank you.

      Delete
    7. Bwahahahahaha! Best line: “When you put nine-one-one after your message, it means there’s an emergency.”
      “Yes. But I put a smiley face after it" I'm thinking this nana is going to play havoc with Jaycee.

      Delete
    8. Loved it LeeAnn, yeah, I'd definitely read on. Great opening. 'There was always fudge.'
      That strikes me as soooooooooooo funny.

      Delete
    9. Love the set up...and Nana! What a cutie! I bet she's got a cake baking in the oven. I can almost smell the rich aroma.

      Shall we brew a pot of coffee and wait for the cake to come out of the oven?

      Delete
  14. I love all this creativity! I have a noon event at church but promise to return to read all the great excerpts!!!

    Yay, Seekerville! You...WE ROCK!!!

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    1. Total agreement. Totes Magotes! (I don't know what this means, but people say it like it's a normal fun saying... Copy catting.

      Delete
  15. Okay, I have struggled w/this opening. I always confuse my readers. Any help would be appreciated!

    The windshield wipers screeched in eerie rhythm as Annie Morgan’s death-grip tightened on the steering wheel. She refused to let off the accelerator. If the guy in the jacked-up truck was still following, he’d make his move now that she was in a remote area.

    Her low-beams reflected off the wet pavement and the faded yellow lines disappeared as she maneuvered through the sharp s-curve over forty miles per hour, a speed much too fast for this road. Water blasted the side of her compact car.

    Bristling with tension, she fought to keep from running off the steep embankment. Trees whizzed by in a watery blur. Centripetal force dragged her into the left lane, but she managed to hang on until she could get the car back on the right side of the highway.

    Every heartbeat pulsed through her body.

    The rearview mirror revealed only rain and darkness, no headlights. Maybe she should slow down a bit. She peered over her shoulder. Four-month old Chloe was sound asleep.

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    1. Wow! That had my adrenaline pumping, Connie! But then when I realized she had a 4-month-old in the back seat, I was a little angry with her for driving recklessly! But it's not confusing at all. She's been followed and is now wondering if he's going to catch up with her. I think it's great! The only thing that made me pause was the word "centripetal". Do you mean centrifugal? [So, I just checked on Dictionary.com and saw that centripetal is the opposite of centrifugal. I learned a new word! Just wondering, though, if your average reader will get tripped up by that word? Not sure. Your call.]

      Delete
    2. Tense! and then zing! You up the tension with the baby in the back seat! Wow!

      Simple feedback: I wasn't confused. I could tell what was going on.

      One suggestion -

      At the end of the first paragraph you say "he’d make his move now that she was in a remote area." I'd be more specific. Give the area a name or a characteristic to bring your readers closer to Annie's world. "Dead Man's Hill" might be a little over the top, but maybe something descriptive that will help your readers see exactly what you want them to see.

      Great job, Connie!

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    3. Melanie, I hadn't thought of that. Actually, I've never heard of centrifugal, or if I did, I wasn't paying attention in class.

      Love that idea, Jan.

      Delete
    4. Wow, this is totally gripping. I held my breath and then gasped at that last line! I mean, if she's willing to take those kind of risks with a baby in the backseat you know things are desperate. Love this!!!

      Delete
    5. Connie, for those like Mel who feared for the baby, try adding a line or two conveying Annie's angst over doing such a thing with the baby in the car. And then, maybe, "She would do anything to protect her child."

      Delete
    6. Excellent, Connie. Except I don't know what centripedal force it. did you mean centrifical? Probably not. So that's outside my vocabulary.

      Delete
  16. Well...this is exciting and terrifying!
    Here's the opening of the historical romance I'm working on.
    Cades Cove, Tennessee
    Early spring, 1854

    Instead of the warmth of a man returning home, a chill settled in his bones, along with an ache he’d thought long healed. Eli Benjamin’s grip tightened on the reins and his stomach pinched in a way that had nothing to do with hunger. Only a moment before he confronted the life he’d abandoned. After all these years, the scene was still familiar, as if frozen in time. Shrouded in the heavy lingering mist of morning, an aged and battered snake rail lined the Benjamin farm. Aside from the missing tool shed, most of the outbuildings appeared intact. Weathered, but standing. The roof on the far side of the barn sagged with the weight of time. The chicken coop had planks pulling away, rebelling against the nails meant to secure them to the frame. Seven years ago the buildings had been maintained and sturdy; but they were battered and worn now. A little like him. Except the two-acre vegetable garden, though bordered with a bowing rail appeared like Ma—God rest her soul—cared for it. His lips twitched. Julia’s hatred for dirt couldn’t keep her from necessities. If the state of the garden indicated anything, the spoiled woman had grown into a skilled farmer’s wife. A glimmer of hope.

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    1. Sorry...my layout is uhmmm...a work in progress. *covers eyes* *Hangs head*

      Delete
    2. Girl, you had me at Cades Cove & historical romance #myhappyplace #bothofthose #inoneplace #plusLucyNel #yesplease

      Delete
    3. I love how descriptive it is, Lucy! Very vivid.
      All you really need are a few paragraph breaks.
      I would also suggest maybe a tiny "introduction" for Julia--especially if she is his love interest--something that will help us see more clearly what he sees. Maybe something like this:

      The two-acre vegetable garden, though bordered with a bowing rail, appeared well cared for, as if Ma herself—God rest her soul—was still tending it.

      His lips twitched. Julia’s hatred for dirt apparently hadn't kept her from making sure she had food to eat. If the state of the garden indicated anything, the spoiled woman had grown into a skilled farmer’s wife.

      A glimmer of hope.

      Now I want to read on. I want to know--Is she Eli's wife? If not, why does he care? I'm also curious about how a spoiled woman overcomes her hatred of dirt to become skilled at gardening. Well done!!!

      Delete
    4. Oh, Lucy, this is absolutely beautiful! I totally feel his emotions, every step of the way. You have an artful skill with the way your present emotion and action, binding them together.

      (That means I liked it!)

      So is this a reunion romance??? I want to know where he's been? Was he in jail? Was he fighting a war? Was he earning money to take careof his family????

      The only changes I'd make are little ones. I'd lose the "but" between the sentences and separate them so that "They were battered and worn now." is its own sentence.

      And then we jump right into the garden, but we're talking buildings... not "farm" in general, so I'd adjust that segue to be more smooth. And to do that, I might flip flop the sentence with the vegetable garden, putting the bowed rail first. A simplistic style change, but in keeping with the time period and his reflections.

      The only thing I'd definitely lose is "His lips twitched."

      I'd have something soften inside him... or a flicker of expectation. The twitching lips make me think of laughter. This guy isn't laughing, right?

      And the rest is too dear to let that one line make it more common.

      Does that make sense?

      I'm so glad you braved the day!!!!

      Delete
    5. Congratulations, Lucy! You hit "publish!" Now you can breathe again, right? :-)

      And no head hanging allowed! Chin up! Treat yourself to a donut!

      You have a lot of good stuff here, but I would tighten it up a bit.

      Something like this:

      Eli Benjamin’s grip tightened on the reins and his stomach pinched in a way that had nothing to do with hunger. After all these years, the scene was still familiar.

      Shrouded in the heavy lingering mist of morning, the aged and battered snake rail lined the Benjamin farm. The outbuildings appeared intact. Weathered, but standing. Plank siding on the chicken coop had twisted away, rebelling against the nails meant to secure the boards to the frame, and the sagging barn roof was witness to the seven years that had passed since he abandoned this life.

      Battered and worn. A little like him.

      Except the vegetable garden. It was still bordered with a bowing rail, just like Ma—God rest her soul—had cared for it. His lips twitched. Julia’s hatred for dirt couldn’t keep her from necessities. If the state of the garden indicated anything, the spoiled woman had grown into a skilled farmer’s wife.

      A glimmer of hope.


      One thing to watch for (and I do this all the time!) - You state that "the scene was still familiar, as if frozen in time," but immediately tell the reader how it had changed. Like one of my editors says, you can't have it both ways!

      One more thing - this is a great opening! You've given us tons of information about the character and setting in this first paragraph, as well as a hook to make us keep reading!

      *one more thing: In my example of how you can tighten this up, I left out the comment about the missing tool shed. If that is important to the story (or his backstory), leave it in, by all means!!

      Delete
    6. Beautiful imagery -- I can tell that this is the kind of story you feel your way through and I love those kinds of stories.

      Delete
    7. Lucy, you've set up the story well and painted a great picture for the reader.

      Delete
    8. You've already received great advice. I was going to suggest a slight change to the opening sentence...

      Instead of the warmth Eli Benjamin should have felt returning home, a chill settled in his bones, along with an ache he’d thought long healed.

      Really nice writing, Lucy! Good job! I want to read more.

      Delete
    9. Jan's right about breaking it into smaller paragraphs, but I think you said you were going to.
      From what Jan broke up, I thought this:

      The farm had always been tidy, things in good repair, when his ma was alive. Now it was battered and worn. A little like him.

      Delete
    10. You all are so incredible! Thank you for the excellent suggestions and kind words. It was in paragraphs in my Word doc. But when I copied it from my phone to the website it took out the formatting...and it was after my bedtime����

      Delete
  17. Oh, how fun!! Ruthy, I love that you're having a hands-on day! I'll have to try to catch up soon. I've had a writing marathon this morning and just now got online (yay me for resisting the temptation of the Internet!). :)

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  18. Hi Ruthie,
    Thanks so much for posting today. This is an awesome opportunity and I welcome as much critique as you're willing to give.
    This is the opening scene from my completed manuscript that I'm editing and rewriting for submission. My story is about a case of mistaken identity and a series of mishaps leading to happily ever after (setting is Quebec City thus the French).

    “You want me to what?!” Charles Tessier exclaimed pressing the cold piece of plastic to his ear.
    The line crackled as a circular saw squealed against metal in the background.
    “Hold on..” The deep voice on the other end faded with the sound of heavy boots clomping across a wooden floor. Charles rubbed his temple as he listened to the movement coming from his twin brother, Justin, a slam of a door shutting out the noise.
    “You there?”
    “Ouais Justin.” Charles raised his voice in frustration as his eyes scanned his desktop scattered with sketches, colours, and empty coffee cups. His temple throbbed as he mentally reviewed Justin’s request, his unfinished work screaming at him for attention.
    “I need….you…go….cafe….email her later. I don’t…..number….call. ” Justin’s voice garbled as muted voices could be heard.
    Charles slapped his palm on the table and shook his head.
    “I’ve got work to do.”
    More shuffling.
    “I…broken….main….fix…water….how long.”
    The plastic was hot against his ear as he struggled to hear his brother’s voice on the other end.
    “You’re cutting out.” The sound of Charles’ own voice filled his tiny office yet did nothing to improve the situation. The line clicked before filling with dead air.

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    Replies
    1. Wait...you can't leave it there!!!!!! Love the Canadian setting!!! This story passes my 'read the first page' test when I'm at a bookstore and trying to weed my pile of potential books into a selection that won't break the bank. I'd definitely be taking this one home.

      Delete
    2. There's a lot going on here, Lee-Ann. I can feel Charles' frustration mounting and the background noises enhance that. The only question I have though is about those background noises. He could hear those clearly, but when his brother speaks, he's breaking up. Was it not breaking up before?

      Delete
    3. Small point...tell the reader what the "plastic" is. A phone, right? Or a cell or a mobile.

      Writers often talk about anchoring the reader at the beginning of a scene or chapter or story. I would like a bit more about where Charles is. In his office, which also has a sawmill? Or does he hear the saw that's near his brother? Give a few more details so the reader sees the two brothers in their own settings.

      You created lots of tension between the brothers! Good job!

      Delete
    4. Thanks so much everyone for your feedback! Yup - holding a cell phone, background noises from job site on other end of the phone. And Kav - thanks for your feedback too. You would be my target audience so the fact you weighed in helps! And I'm glad I hooked you...hahahaha.

      Delete
  19. Hope it's okay that I added comments too -- from an avid reader's perspective. I just started before thinking it through and I realized that these snippets were meant for critique by the professionals the Seekerville bloggers. By then I was half way through and couldn't stop. Sorry about that!

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    Replies
    1. You're fine, Kav. As far as I'm concerned, the more feedback, the better.

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    2. I always love your feedback, Kav!

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    3. Kav, your opinion is as important as ours! Thanks for adding your thoughts!

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    4. Kav... that's what we're all about! I love that folks jump in! All are welcome, just like that sweet hymn!!!

      Delete
  20. This is a story concept I've been working on, based on my own testimony:

    What happens when you fulfill your lifelong dream, but lose yourself in the process?

    My protagonist, Genesis, is a bored accountant who follows her dream to write and publish a romance novel. Unfortunately, in the process of writing, she is led away from her values in order to fit in with the "successful" authors. How will God teach her that worldly success is empty and meaningless, while reaching hearts with the message of faith will give her true fulfillment?

    Matt, a good friend from church, is disturbed by Genesis' new obsession with writing, especially as it pulls her away from church activities. He fears she is facing spiritual warfare, something he experienced himself as a former member of a rock band. Although he knows he's redeemed and forgiven, he never discusses his past, and wrestles over telling Genesis in an effort to help her get on the right path.

    My theme Bible verse is Matthew 16:26 - What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

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    Replies
    1. I like what you've written, Ann! Don't make it too preachy. Seems readers turn off if the faith is too in their faces. But you have lots to work with and hero Matt can show through his own example.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, I dropped the e in your name. I'm a Deborah Ann. I sometimes forget there's another spelling!

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Debby! Good point on not being too preachy! I will work on that.

      Delete
    4. I like this but the beginning feels like backstory, and maybe that's how you mean it. More a synopsis than an opening. But a great conflict.
      I've heard publishers don't like the heroine's to be authors. At least not to do it too often. So there's that.

      Delete
    5. Thanks, Mary. Yes, this is a synopsis. I didn't know that about heroine's being authors. Seems kind of fussy, but I'm not a publisher! It's my own story, so I'd rather not change that part. If big publishers don't like it, I can always indie publish, (which I've already done 3 times).

      Delete
    6. Anne, hit them with your best shot from the get-go.

      I would make her a bad girl... hanging with all the great sexy authors, rolling in big bucks, loving her morning mimosas and evening cocktails... and still unhappy. NYT bestseller, Publisher's Weekly frequent visitor.... and still unhappy.... Award winning! Fan mail!!! And still unhappy....

      If you begin at the heights and then crash her whatever way you choose, you begin a whole new world for her.

      This has such lovely, fun potential!

      Delete
    7. Thanks, Ruth! I was never rolling in the bucks (in fact I believe my lack of worldly success was a hint to me I was not pleasing God), but I definitely hung out with the sexy authors and read their trashy novels. And I wasn't happy...

      Delete
  21. Hello Seekerville! Thanks for this ... fun? ... opportunity! So, here are the first few paragraphs of my new novel Too Wonderful (women's fiction):

    ***

    My mama tried to kill me on the day I was born. She didn’t believe in love and she thought if she could get rid of me, she could get rid of the evidence of what she hated. For all I know, she still hasn’t learned the difference between love and sex. So she squeezed past protesters and waddled into the back room of Doc Huston’s clinic. Every person in that room wanted me dead.

    But I didn’t die. I struggled and squirmed and made little squeaking sounds until they put me in a closet. They left me there for three days. Or so I was told. Every few hours, someone opened the door and let in just enough light to see if I was dead yet. Eventually I stopped cryin’, and they waited. On the third day, I whimpered just enough and Widow Hayes, who ran the dry cleaners across the street, heard me. No, she didn’t have super-human hearin’. She was visiting her friend who worked at the clinic, Nurse Coswell, when I called out. Hearing my cry, she took me home to the humid, three-room apartment above her business, fed me, raised me, and taught me how to be a good, hard worker.

    Widow Hayes named me Mara ’cause she told me I’d have a bitter life. “Some people ain’t meant to be loved,” she said as she put extra starch on Mrs. O’Hare’s sheets. “The sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be.”

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    1. I'm already cheering for Mara! I can't wait to see her overcome.

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    2. What an opening, Sharyn! Good job! You hooked me, for sure.

      Delete
    3. Wow, Sharyn.
      This is really powerful. I would definitely read on.

      Delete
    4. My only critique is, should this be up front. Or should it be backstory to be revealed at some crucial future point in the story.
      I like it as opening but it would make a huge REVEAL moment.

      Delete
    5. Thanks, everyone!

      Mary, that is definitely something I've considered! At the moment, I'm focused on getting the story down & trust I'll get a better idea of whether to keep it here or move it once it's written.

      That said, this is so vital to her story & who she becomes that, at this time, I feel it needs to be told chronologically. If it helps, here's the basic storyline for the novel:

      As a result of the abortion attempt, Mara has health issues, the worst being severe migraines. However, the migraines bring with them what she feels is a gift -- it allows her to see when two people belong together. After high school, she decides to use her gift of matchmaking & ends up working for a food truck, traveling from festival to carnival to fair, serving funnel cakes & making matches.

      However, thanks to what Widow Hayes told her, she believes the gift is hers only because she's unloved. So she travels from town to town, bringing soulmates together. But she has to put her past behind her and discover her true self before she can embrace a love of her own. With that in mind, I feel establishing her mindset at the beginning sets up how she handles her gift ... & the young man who loves her. :-)

      Again, I might change my mind about all of this once I have more of it written. If you have any other thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

      Thank you!

      Delete
    6. Sounds intriguing and something that caught my attention right away! Hope to see it someday on the shelf at my local bookstore!!

      Delete
    7. Love, love, love this. A classic women's fiction opening, an overcomer in the making, this is wonderful.

      Mary makes a good point... it could be woven in... but it can be an opening, too... an in-your-face I'm a survivor type opening.

      Brava!

      Delete
  22. Oh what fun! Here's the beginning of my Snow White retelling that I'm working on... And thanks for the opportunity!! :)

    While elegant men and women danced in the background, Otto Wagner gently tugged on his stubborn daughter’s arm and propelled her unwilling feet forward. “Adelaide, may I present to you King Nikolaus Snow and his daughter Gisela.

    “How pleased to finally meet you,” Adelaide smiled stiffly but politely at the king and his charming daughter. “Father speaks often of not only your charm but also your brilliant war tactics.”

    Bursting into the conversation, the bubbly young Gisela proclaimed, “You are beautiful!”

    “Yes indeed,” the king murmured, mesmerized as he took in Adelaide’s simple beauty, curly angel-blond hair, chocolate eyes, pink lips, and fair skin. “You are as beautiful as an angel.”

    “Thank you, kind sir,” Adelaide blushed deeply.

    And with that look, Otto believed Adelaide had the king wrapped around her finger.

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  23. What a great day this is. Very cool opening.
    I want more.

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  24. One for the Price of Two - twins so identical their parents can't tell them apart. also, first in a four book series (all about twins, all friends with the others) also a departure for me from my usual genre, wading into romance & comedy!
    first scene is a memory from seventh grade...

    YOU GOT GLATHETH!” Meredith’s words were still tangled over the new hardware in her mouth.
    “Well you got braces.” Elizabeth retorted.
    “It’th not like I wanted them.” The offence of it—and the discomfort—was still fresh in Mere’s mind, and in her mouth.
    “At least I can take my glasses off.” Bethy squinted as she proved her point. “Can’t do that with braces!” And she stuck her tongue out at her sister.
    “It’th not my fault!”
    “Girls!” Beverly Crispin scolded. “Maybe me and your dad can tell you apart for a change,” she snarked over her shoulder as her tennis shoes squealed on the polished tile floor.
    “What are we going to do?” Mere whithpered when they had climbed in the far back of the van. “And don’t thay thuck it up buttercup.” She huffed. Then moaned. “I’m going to flunk my hithtory tetht tomorrow.”
    “Well I have a math test on Friday!” Bethy hissed. “And you were supposed to take it for me.”
    Mere snugged her arms across her chest and glared out the window.
    “I’ll help you study,” Bethy whispered. “But you have to show me this stupid math, too.”
    “Hmpth.” Mere’s whisper dribbled down her chin.

    The cloud of sulk hovered through chores and supper, both twins stewing over their upcoming tests. And the dread of having to take their own test their own selves.
    Bethy had always loved reading. Had, in fact, earned the purpled framed lenses from her excess of the activity. Her affinity for words had penned several clever stories; Bixie the Bear and Pixie the Puppy were two of her first stories, and two of her favorites. The stories had grown with her, becoming more sophisticated with each pass. Her latest, Animal or Beast, had won the school district award for writing.
    Mere, on the other hand, was all about the numbers. Numbers and science. Math fairs and science experiments were, to her, fun activities and not at all the burden of homework.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Robin - good start! Just a word of caution though, in your summary you mentioned that these twins are so identical that their parents can't even tell the difference. I'm a Mom of identical twins and to me my girls look completely different. Any Mom of multiples will say the same thing about their children. From the backs it can be hard to tell but then each one has their own walk or are slightly taller than the other or are wearing different clothing -there are ways Moms can tell from the back. You're right on though about them having different personalities and abilities. They are two individuals who just happen to share the same DNA. If you ask my girls, they think that they don't look anything alike. This is a GREAT interview to watch from a Canadian tv show host who just had identical twins. She interviews a bunch of IDs and it gives you a lot of insight into how twins view each other which can help as you develop the relationship between the twins in your story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvYuvL6U3bw. Hope that helps....

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    2. Robin, I'm so glad you tried this! And what fun, I love twins and triplets, the whole montage of crazy sibling stuff!

      Okay, so here are a few things... whose point of view are we in? Mom's? It's blurred because the girls are whispering in the back of a big van, but mom is hearing them... or are we omniscient? Like God-view? That's a tricky one to do and keep the reader clear about what's going on.

      I love the girls, so typical! And this is romance, but it's mom and dad... so who are the romantic protagonists? That confused me a smidge, but either way, this looks fun.

      One bit of advice... I'd soften the number of times you use the substitute spelling for the braces-caused speech difficulties, and here's why... A little is good. Too much is mind-boggling. So if you use it once, and then refer to it other times, like "despite Mere's efforts, she lisped the phrase, and didn't look one bit happy about her lack of success." Just something to show the problem is ongoing (until it isn't!) and then use regular spelling...

      I'm so glad you stopped in today, woman of courage!!!

      Delete
    3. Hullo Ruthy, and thank you so much for your feedback and comments!

      i've always been fascinated with twins and multiples! this story has been simmering for a LONG time.

      my first series i wrote omniscient (without realizing) and it worked well. second series is first person, which evidently is my "voice" (so i've been told.) not sure that will work for this story since the fun is in the confused reactions of others (to their pranks.)
      this scene is a flashback, and then the story will cut to current day, and the romance is Bethy and Mere's - they both marry twins, but not twins to each other; hence the series!

      Lee-Ann, thank you so much for your input!! i plan to chat with twins and moms of twins for accuracy - and some real-life antics. the title comes from an off hand comment the mom makes, "It's like we have one daughter." to which the dad replies, "Yeah, but i'm sure paying for two." or some such! LOL i will check out the link you provided!

      Wilani, i am hoping to have this out some time next year - am working on a Christmas novella (cutting it close for this year!!) and kids' stories - neighbor kids have asked me to write them stories! and my granddaughter (12 years old) is wanting me to write stories for her as well. this is a change of genre for me, so i'm treading lightly - at the same time, i can't wait to get my "romancedy" feet wet!!

      thanks ladies, so much for your comments!!

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    4. ps - a) i have twin nephews but they are not identical; b) always wanted twins but it didn't happen; and c) always wished i *WAS* a twin, but, well....

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  25. Thank you for this opportunity to get feedback on this opening.

    To Pursue a Passion
    London, June 1913

    “Go home, tramp!”

    Marcella Whitney turned her shoulder, trying to shield herself from the disheveled heckler in front of her, his insult cutting deep. Behind him a mob of men fingered stones and made as if to throw them. Cella cringed and raised a hand to her face, her legs trembled. She couldn’t lose her nerve now.
    Cella’s tormentor persisted, gesturing toward the broad stairs and the door leading into the House of Commons. He sneered, narrowing his eyes. “You think they’ll give you the vote?” The man with the sweep of his arm struck at the wide brim of her black hat. It went flying and landed in the dust several feet away. Long dark brown hair tumbled around her shoulders and down her back. A strong wind whipped the strands across her face and into her eyes, and she dropped the placard she carried. Her hands shaking, Cella bent to retrieve it, determined to stand her ground.
    The heckler got there first. Trapping the sign with his boot, he pointed a gnarled finger at the words. “Votes for Women,” he jeered, a taunting smile on his face. “Idiot!” He lifted his foot off the poster. And then he spit on her.
    Cella bit her lip, holding back tears. Then she took a deep breath and wiped her cheek with a gloved hand. Picking up the placard, she raised it over her head and with the other hand adjusted a sash over one shoulder and repeated to herself the meaning of its colors—purple for dignity, white for purity, and green for hope. There was something energizing and worthwhile about being part of a group that gave a voice to untold numbers of women afraid to speak up.
    The lone constable at the corner sauntered over to where Cella and her fellow-demonstrators stood, swinging his truncheon. A lump rose in her throat. Even the police had mauled suffragettes. This one didn’t seem inclined to use his stick. At least not on her.

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    1. Pat, I love this scene.... I love writing about women's rights and suffrage, and I'm always amazed that rights for women were respected in the pioneer west long before the gentrified eastern U.S. gave the vote. What a bunch of namby pambys!!!!! Doesn't it amaze you that it was just over ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO?????

      So this is good and solid, but I'd make a couple of slight changes...

      I'd move the "His insult cut deep" to be the second line, and I'd describe him. "The wretched man's insult cut deep" or something to show him to the reader right off.

      I'd separate "Her legs trembled" from the sentence before, and maybe use a more visual term... "Her legs weakened. Lax, then firm, it took effort to make them obey. To make them move as fear gripped her." (something along those lines)

      I'd delete sweep of his arm because it's tighter without it... we know it's him and if he hits her hat off, we know the arm was involved....

      I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE HER REACTION! I'M CHEERING FOR HER! YOU CAN PROBABLY HEAR ME FROM THERE!!!!

      So wonderfully done!!!

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    2. Yes, I can hear you cheeing for Cella!! So true about the western territories. Wyoming gave full voting rights to women as early as 1869. If you live near Seneca Falls I'm not surprised you're so supportive of votes for women. I can picture you marching along with my heroine and other suffragettes down the streets of New York City in the big parade of 1913 and later joining the demonstration in Washington. All courageous women.
      Thank you, Ruthy, for those suggestions that will only strengthen the scene.

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  26. Okay there is a version of me that Is sick to my stomach as I do this but I also really want feed back and forward motion. So here goes:

    The air in the room felt thick and heavy,with many bodies packed in a small space trying to find different avenues of escape from their personal realities. Jareth took it all in as he sat in a booth on the outer edge listening to a local mogul pontificate on the burden of caring for this society. Thankfully Jareth was especially gifted in keeping his outward demeanor jovial, while seeming compliant, with a desire to help. Otherwise his lips would have curled in disgust. Off to the side long legs sheathed in stockings and a skirt that barely covered, caught Jareth’s attention and jerked his head up to take in the face attached to those legs. A round tray was held firmly to her hip but did not stop her from bending provocatively as she laughing, took the order from the table nearby. She caught him studying her and turned her head. She looked him straight in the eye for a moment. Jareth’s gaze intensified as he sensed something deeper in this beautiful woman than the seductive siren she was putting out there. She raised a brow, gave him a wink and turned back to the table she was working with currently. This all happened in seconds but Jareth could tell something was different. He forced his attention back to his companion thanking Wheyan for the momentary distraction from this garbage. He glanced over at the neighboring table to get another glimpse of her only to have his breath stolen again as he is now captured by dark hair curling down her back past her waist to hips curving perfectly into those legs. He shook his head and again tried to put his focus back where it needed to be. His companion looked at Jareth and the retreating figure of the girl and gave a deep chortle knocking him on the shoulder, without skipping a beat in his litany.

    Ailin called out her drink order as she passed the bar, set her tray on the edge and stepped into the kitchen. She leaned up against the wall for a moment to slow her beating heart. What was that all about. Those eyes, they felt like they had looked right through her. She ran her hand through her hair and took a deep breath. Her manager came by and settled a hand on her hip, sidling up next to her.
    “Everything all right”
    “Yeah, just needed a moment, you know how it gets out there.” She leaned into him a bit, careful to keep it professional but at the same time keeping the doors of attraction open. She touched his arm and looked up at him.
    “Thanks for checking, I’ll be fine.”
    He quickly moved on with a squeeze of her hand. “You let me know if you need anything.” Emphasizing anything.
    She smiled. Her revulsion of self was growing by the day. This persona she had developed was disgusting to her and she did not have the love and acceptance that had originally driven her down this path. But no time to ride this pony now, she had work to do. Independence meant more than any inner conflict plaguing her and this job gave her that to some degree. At least as much as anyone could get in this city zone

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    1. My name is Julie btw and I call this Shadowed Wasteland.

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    2. Your storytelling ability is amazing. It is solid and I can see exactly what you're doing here, and it's captivating...

      The mechanics need work. By mechanics I mean timing, spacing and sentence structure. There are a lot of run-on sentences that smudge the meaning behind the story. Break things up a little. Space them out. Make periods and incomplete sentences be your new BFFs. :)

      Here's an example:

      The air in the room felt thick and heavy,with many bodies packed in a small space trying to find different avenues of escape from their personal realities

      Tainted air filled the speakeasy. Too many bodies. Too much smoke. Too many scents and smells and way too much noise. The combination weighted the atmosphere. They'd come en masse, crowded together, searching an escape from their personal realities.

      When you take a great scene like this, don't be afraid to use your creativity to paint the picture for the reader. Employ their senses... involve them. Make them care. Make it so you're not just telling a story... you're immersing them in the story.

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    3. Ruth, Thank you so much for your input. The Spirit has been making me aware of my grammatical problems lately. It is permeating everything I write. I have daughters who are reviewing my work. What you have said aligns with what He has been pointing out to me in what I have read here and in authors I love. Thank you so much. This input was just what I needed right now. I just ventured out recently so this gives me a boost of confidence to move forward and a direction to focus on for the moment. Thank you for doing this.

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  27. Guys, I had to work tonight.... will carry this over to morning! I have not forsaken you!!!! Nor have any of us! :)

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  28. Hi, I'm kind of new here. I wish I had seen this earlier, because I just hit publish today on the third in my contemporary Christian Romance series, Love is Patient. I have shown this first chapter to two editors and a beta reader, so it's pretty much done. But I would welcome any suggestions or feedback for the next uploading of edits. :)

    CHAPTER 1: DREAMING


    I flipped through the pages of the bridal magazine yet again, from one dog-eared page to the next, dreaming and desiring. I imagined myself in the long, white, heavily embroidered, strapless wedding dress, complete with flowing train and fluffy veil.

    I saw myself sauntering down the aisle, two flower girls in front, strewing pink and purple rose petals for my high-heeled pumps to tread, adding two girls behind me to hold my magnificent train.

    I glanced again at the price, and that vision broke into a million disappointed pieces. $300 was the most my budget would allow for a dress. But none of these new ones were less than a thousand!

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    1. Oh, this is so much fun!!! Did you know that I was a bridal consultant for 8 years at a wonderful local store called Bridal Hall??? I loved that job... and I waitressed for 11 years before that, so I've taken a lot of what I got paid to do to raise my kids and use it for story research!

      DOUBLE WIN!!!

      This is well done, Lila. Great name, by the way.

      So she's engaged at the book's start? What's the story about? I'd love to hear more.

      One bit of advice is to minimize exclamation points... I do that by only letting excitable old people use them or excitable children... which allows me to keep the grown up love interests from going over the top, and sets my kids and fussy old ladies (laughing!) apart from the other characters... it's a great technique and brings individual characters to life...

      The only thing I might suggest (since it's already published) is to think about changing up the pacing and sentences a smidge, but I think you're fine either way.

      Here's what I mean.

      First, where is she? On a bus? A train? A waiting room? We don't know where she's browsing and so the reader is left wafting....

      First person is a fun twist!!!! (I do use exclamation points all I want in Seekerville!!!!)

      Second paragraph... I saw myself sauntering down the aisle. Two flower girls sprinkled pink and purple rose petals for my high-heeled pumps to tread. Two matching girls followed behind, holding my magnificent train above the pastel trail.

      Most brides with trains liked the visual of the train or a cathedral veil trailing down the aisle behind them... so using girls is different. Something to think about, and it's clear this girl has given thought to her wedding.

      I'm so glad you braved this and best of luck with your sales. I hope you come around some more!

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  29. Hi Ruth:

    Oy vey! This post is overwhelming! Next time I'm going to have to prepare a few days in advance. I think next time you should have a two-day spot on Monday or Wednesday.

    BTW: Promos are never intrusive if they are for books that are on sale for a limited time. I think a lot of fans look for these.

    Vince

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    1. I agree!!! I had to carry over because I couldn't stop farm work long enough to get back or stay online long enough to answer, LOL! This is so much easier in the winter, but it's so much fun to play with folks right here in front of the world! :)

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  30. I love reading all the excerpts!
    This is my work in progress. It is Historical/Biblical Fiction.
    What if one of the spies Joshua sent into Canaan to scope out Jericho, was actually the one Rahab marries as she is grafted into Jesus's line?

    Grey silk. Loose enough to be suggestive when she bent over, tight enough to draw the attention of all the men she’d pass. Rahab rubbed perfumed oil on her arms, and looked at herself in the brass mirror. The image was not fuzzy enough to distort the hollow look or dark circles under the eyes of the girl in the reflection. Rahab grimaced at herself and reached for her cosmetics. She despised the attention they brought her, but had to hide behind something. That was better. Men couldn’t get enough of her when she applied it just so. Not that they would be able to identify what made her eyes look so smoky. She braided sections of her hair leaving most of it to tumble freely as it chose. She looked better than the queen. She kind of hoped the king would send for her tonight. It would be better than the alternatives. She pursed her lips and sighed, checking herself over for injuries. None that would keep her from working. Unfortunately. She listlessly made her way into the outer room and to the window. The mysterious forms had moved closer. By now she could identify that the two forms were definitely men. They moved too strategically, too methodically to be animal. They had been creeping closer all morning. Slow enough to avoid detection. Except they hadn’t counted on her memorizing every curve and swell of the land.

    Now the question was, who were they? There were only two of them, couldn’t be a raid. She had heard rumblings of distrust towards Ai... but this really wasn’t their style.

    Rahab varied between working at her loom, the pile of rope, the flax on the roof for what seemed like hours, but when she went back to the window the men had hardly covered any ground. Eventually they started to merge towards the same path, and she could make out the cloth of their tunics. She had never seen it before. Could it be? She’d heard rumors from the last couple years of the terrifying defeats of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og. The God of the Israelites was no force to be reckoned with. She scanned the horizon, somewhat relieved to see no one else. Just the two men.

    She really should tell Karfur. She’d be charged with treason when he found out she’d known. Not that it mattered. She was already dead.

    She smiled.

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    1. Well, this is gripping... And look at you, in Biblical fiction. Quite captivating...

      I'd suggest a hint of the mysterious men earlier... they seem to come out of nowhere in her consciousness, and yet she'd noticed them earlier... and is concerned.

      Love the getting ready... and sad for her, too. :(

      Men are pigs. (sighing)

      Not all men, of course, but too many!

      This confused me, the loom, the rope, the flax on the roof??? Then what seemed like hours... then the window... So she got ready for the evening hours early? Would that be typical?

      I'd suggest cleaning up the timeline... lovely writing, Lila!

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  32. Here are the opening paragraphs from my work in progress.

    Sofia sat at the bar, watching the festivities. She was wearing a new dress in honour of the occasion. With her hair and makeup expertly done, she appeared younger than her thirty-eight years. Her confident style accentuated her curvaceous beauty. Usually, Sofia would be circulating among the guests. She had already turned away several attentive males eager for her company. Tonight, she was not interested.

    It was nine-thirty, on Friday the twenty-fourth of September. Her younger sister Evie was dancing with her new husband, Sebastian Romano. The bride was radiant with happiness. The newly-weds had only known each other for two months. Sofia predicted it would take even less time for the shine of her sister's infatuation to tarnish. The reality of being married to this man would open her innocent eyes to the terrible mistake she had made. Evie was devoutly religious and had insisted on a virginal wedding. Romano had told her family he would preserve her chastity only if she married him promptly. During the ceremony, he had publically demonstrated his impatience to possess her. Romano held her close since then. A powerful man like Romano had voracious appetites. Her naive sister would soon have her eyes opened.

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    1. Good morning, Christine!

      POOR EVIE!!!!! I want to rescue her!!!!

      Okay, here are two things... if you're in Sophia's pov would she think about her curvaceous beauty? An onlooker would, but would she think that about herself?

      And this is the wedding, right?

      I'd have some more fun with this reception for the opening.

      A snappy back-and-forth conversation could tell the reader all of this and show us more about Sofia, too. Maybe an aged aunt who's wise and outspoken...

      Or a girlfriend, ready to speak plainly about this whole thing.

      Totally a great option to bring the reader right into this opening, BOOM!

      Something to think about as you play with this. Your talent for storytelling shines through. I'd just switch it to a more active opening, less passive.

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  33. Thanks Ruth. I will take some time to think about your suggestions.

    Sofia is feeling isolated because she is the only one who disapproves. She has none of her friends at the wedding, and no aunts either. This chapter is called A Sister Scorned. I have been very focused on her isolation without thinking about the viewer, or the other participants.

    I do manage to get her to spill a drink all over the minister who presided over the wedding a few paragraphs later, making sure he doesn't forget her :)

    In another scene we meet Sofia's friends. The five women have spent most of their lives preparing to meet Mr Right, and assuring themselves they are desirable. Yet between them they have had 14 marriages, and Sofia has a reputation for always settling for Mr Wrong.

    Thanks for the feedback about my storytelling )i(

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  34. I'd love for you to take a look at the first two paragraphs of my WIP. Thank you so much.

    Though the June sun warmed Nadia Maguire's face, she shivered then tilted her head. Why didn’t the birds chatter? The deadly quiet surrounding the immaculate grounds of Oak Mountain Memorial Graveyard tied her stomach into thorny barbs.
    If not for Jon's name, etched into the granite headstone, she'd deny her husband had been laid to rest six months prior. He'd played tennis, jogged every weekend, and belonged to every social club in their town then he was gone.

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  35. Please take a peak at the first two paragraphs of my book. I would appreciate any reaction, retort, response or reply that you may want to share with me. I'm pretty new at this and only have 1 published short story under my belt. So here goes:

    My name is Clare, and I’m a journalist. Why does that particular grouping of words always make me think of an AA meeting? I write news articles for a newspaper. I deal in facts; I deal with other people’s issues, stories, events, heartaches and journey’s. It’s all about other people. That’s the way I’m built. Telling other people's stories are what appeals to me. So when my boss, at the Washington Post, tells me that he has a special project for me, I jump at the opportunity. That was mistake number one. He wants me to do a series of stories about ME. My family; our history; our ups and downs and heartaches and celebrations. And…it must “entertaining.” Yep, that’s the exact word he used. Agreeing to it, I made the epic mistake of thinking this would be a piece of cake. As I sit here staring at the blank screen and blinking cursor, I now understand why people curse! I don’t, but I get it. I suppose the real question is why is this project making me so nervous? Well, maybe I’m not certain I want the whole world to know about the Donovan Tribe. Or maybe, I’m just not ready to open up about myself. That’s more realistic. Well, I am committed. There is no backing out now. Grabbing my notebook, I start jotting down facts. The basics, right? Names, dates of births, number of siblings, number of moves, school days, first boyfriend, best friend, first date, first car, and on and on… Data gathering. Step 1. Check. No problem, right? My boss Bob was not happy. He said something along these lines to me:
    “If I wanted to read a genealogy of your family, Donovan, I would have looked it up myself. I want a story! You’re always telling me you’re a storyteller…so tell me the story of you and your family. Make me laugh; make me cry; make me FEEL something. You’ve been a journalist for a long time; and you’re good at your job or you wouldn’t be here. But for this project, I need you to be the teller of a GREAT story. Your story. So, get busy, Donovan, and don’t bother me until you’ve got something real.”
    Ouch…That was the longest conversation my boss had ever had with me. It’s now or never, Clare Donovan. As a reporter/journalist, I am keenly aware that a strong background is needed to set the foundation. Closing my eyes, I try to envision what the spring of 1982 might have looked like in a place called Cheverly, Maryland.

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