Friday, June 4, 2021

OPEN CRITIQUE DAY!!!!!

 GOOD MORNING!

For those of you who are new, today is a day when you can post a small part of your work, an opening or a page or two and (GULP!) we'll tell you what we think!

Feel free to give us a little explanation in your comment.... but it's okay if you don't do that, too. Sometimes writers feel the need to over-explain!

We're all on deadlines so we'll be back and forth today... and this is Ruthy, we're planting on the farm, so if you have to wait a little bit, that's okay... have some tea. Grab some coffee, eat a doughnut...

IT IS NATIONAL DOUGHNUT DAY!!!! Also spelled NATIONAL DONUT DAY!!!!!!

:)

We're looking forward to seeing what you've got! 


36 comments:

  1. This is the beginning of a short story:


    Finley’s eyes scanned the rows of book after book. It was like a vanilla latte with fresh whipped cream for the soul. All the stories ready for reading.


    The notes of soft classical musical danced in her ear, and she took in the scent of endless written pages mixed with roasted coffee from the cafe.


    “You always get that weird look when you see books.” Maya, Finley’s best friend, said.


    “I can’t help it. All the endless possibilities.”


    “You sure it’s the books?” The left side of Maya’s lip curled up.


    Since it was early evening, Finley had peace she wouldn’t run into him. Every time she saw him, her heart fluttered, stomach twisted, and knees buckled. Yet she’d never spoken a word to him.


    “Books are my first love.”


    “I like reading, too, but that look doesn’t cross my face.” Maya and Finley stood in line at the coffee counter.


    “What can I say?” Finley shrugged.


    “Don’t make a scene, but guess who’s at two o’clock.” Maya exaggerated a wink.


    “Two o’clock? What?”


    “You know, the position behind you.”


    Finley turned around and jumped at the site of him.


    “I told you not to look.” Maya grabbed Finley’s shoulder. Finley put her hand up to her face like she was trying to hide.


    “Why are you embarrassed?”


    “My mind goes blank every time I’m near him.”


    “Covering your face won’t help.”


    The barista called their names to come get their orders. Finley wrapped her hand around the piping hot latte, feeling steam float up, warming her cheeks.


    “You’re blushing.” Maya nudged her. “Seriously, ask him for a specific book and strike up a conversation.”


    Finley blew on her coffee. She skimmed to see where he was. She’d go in the opposite direction.


    “It’s how you get things started.”


    “I’m going to look at fiction.” Finley turned heading towards the time when he foot stubbed something hard. Her coffee cup wobbled, sloshing her coffee over the side.


     “I’m so sorry.” Finley knelt and pressed her napkin down on what she hit. It was a thick, black shoe.


     “Don’t worry about it.” A deep voice said. His deep, coffee-colored eyes stared straight into hers.


    Finley gasped, and her heart sped up. She searched for words, but let out a little squeak.

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    Replies
    1. Tonya, you left me wanting to read more of this. I did get a little lost when she said, "I'm going to look at the fiction." I wasn't getting the picture the way I was prior. Also, why was she not worried about running into him in the early evening? Maybe give a quick reason. And why does he rattle Finley so? Perhaps you could give a little hint. I think you're off to great start, though.

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    2. I agree with Mindy! The dialogue hooked me right away and I want to read more! Also, I had a hard time picturing the location. At first I thought it was a bookstore, but when you mentioned the barista, I got a bit confused. Could you maybe add a few sentences to set the scene?

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    3. And then along comes Ruthy to RUIN EVERYTHING!!!!!

      Sigh....

      Okay, Tonya, this is sweet... very sweet. But it's not compelling. The talent is there, right there!!!! But you've dropped me into a view of a sweet girl, her sweet friend and rows and rows of books....

      So then I'm thinking "Oh, yes, there's about to be a love interest and she can barely take her eyes off the books or him or books or him...:

      That means it's predictable and I'm not saying this to be mean but to be direct... have her knock over a shelf of books. Or can the bookstore, make it a hardware store and he drops an entire gallon of Formula D for deep rich color onto the new floor she just installed and it splashes everywhere while flooding the new laminate floor.

      You're too talented not to up the action. Think "Non predictable" when you're looking at the story. I want to feel why it's impossible for them to get together from the moment they meet... or if it's not a romance, a reason why her life is in tatters... so we can see her rise above and fix it. You are allowed to hate me.

      :)

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    4. Thank you, Mindy and Meegan. I will work on making it more clear and grounding better.

      Ruthy, I don't hate you! Im glad you pointed it out so I can think about it and tweak it. I really hope to improve.

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    5. Tonya, total props to you for involving the senses so well. What she sees, what she smells...can you have her run her fingers along the spines, or feel the heft of a solid tome, or touch the marbled endpapers of a leather-bound classic?

      If Maya said, "I wouldn't be so eager to see someone who broke my heart...not once, but twice." the story would go from sweet and predictable to making me ask all kinds of questions. :)

      Delete
  2. This is the opening of my WIP. I really want to know if it's interesting enough that a reader would want to continue. Thanks!!

    Sacha held the card in her hands, fingering the thick edges reverently. Then she realized how ridiculous that was. It was simply a piece of paper.

    Inhaling sharply, she silently berated herself for this emotional nonsense. She flung the party invitation onto the table and stood. She needed coffee.

    As she poured the steaming liquid into her favorite cup, she chided herself again. He wouldn’t even like the invitations, she knew. He would roll his teenaged eyes, tell her that’s not the way people do it anymore, and chuckle with what she hoped was affection. Then she would tell him that’s what’s known as “vintage” living and he would shake his head, hitch the backpack up higher onto his shoulder, give her a quick side-hug and walk away. She would continue to fill out invitations and he would let her, not because he knew these were the last ones she would send for him—because he did not know that—but simply because he loved her.

    She would keep any tears to herself.

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    Replies
    1. Glynis, good job here. I would suggest moving the part about "the last invitations she'd send for him" to the beginning, then fill in the other information. That will keep the reader wanting to know why they were the last ones she'd send and that will keep them reading.

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    2. I love this.... I would lessen the descriptors in the opening, it's a little adjective rich for me.... and I wouldn't tell the reader that it was the last invitation.... I would keep that to myself and just drop hints. Mindy's idea is good, too... to play that card immediately. But I tend to like stringing it out, giving the reader a chance to emote with the person in a time-friendly pace...

      So you have TWO OPPOSITE opinions... and neither is wrong. It's all in the method and goal.

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    3. Thanks, ladies! I appreciate both your comments.

      Delete
    4. Hi, Glynis...my only tweak for you is to use the highlight feature on your WORD program and highlight how many times you use the pronoun 'she' in this short opening. How often do you begin a sentence with 'she'? Can you vary your sentence structure and mix it up a bit? That keeps the reader from being lulled into a predictable pattern, something that can make them put a book down, even though they can't quite put their finger on what felt 'off' for them.

      Delete
  3. The fluorescent lights stung Ava’s eyes. Sounds of people shuffling across the concrete floor echoed and she saw racks of shirts, pants, and dresses everywhere. Daywear isn’t what Ava came for. That would’ve been simple. The item on Ava’s list struck fear deep in her heart, sent a shiver up her spine and created a war with her thoughts. Ava needed a new swimsuit.


    For most people, a beach vacation brought excitement, but the idea filled Ava with pangs of dread. She imagined what it would be like to have fun in the water, but thoughts of her ample thighs and chubby arms trampled the sunshine.


    Past the lounge wear racks, Ava mustered up the courage to march to the area with swimwear. It met her with bright colors, patterns, strings, and ruffles all twisted around hangers, often bigger than the suit itself.


    “I hope I don’t see anyone I know.” Ava whispered. Should she pick out a cover up first?


    The metal racks screeched with each hanger that moved across it, like nails on a chalkboard taunting her. A two-piece held up by a tie-able string would not cut it. Ava moved on to the next rack. They were one pieces; their straps were thick, and the stomach covered, but nothing for the legs. It seemed like each of them was a dark, solid color. Very boring, but they held the ability to look slimming. Maybe even help blend in.


    A deep voice cackled from afar that held a gravelly tone. Ava looked up and scanned the store. He could not be here, could he? She swallowed hard, stepped to the side, and strained to listen closer. What was he doing in a woman’s clothing store?


    Her breathing quickened, and her eyes dashed for an area to hide. She sidestepped the middle row before letting out a squeal and jumping back.


    “Did I scare you?”

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I feel Ava's pain, Savannah. I think most women can relate to her angst. You've got a good start, putting us into the character's head, except for that first paragraph. You want your opening to pack a punch, so I'd suggest starting with this line: “I hope I don’t see anyone I know.” Then keep us in her head. "Squinting against the fluorescent lights, Ava made her way deeper into the department store, to the one section she'd avoided most of her life. The mere thought of trying on and purchasing a swimsuit struck fear in her heart. So why had she signed on for a beach vacation?" Do you see the difference? Let the reader experience the trauma with her. Also, there was one word choice that had me curious. "A deep voice CACKLED from afar..." If the cackling came from someone Ava doesn't like, then cackled is fine. If this is the HE that's going to be our hero, you might want to choose a different word. You're off to a great start. Can't wait to read more.

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    2. Thanks! I copied your notes :) the guy isn't the hero, so i think cackled is ok.

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    3. Man, I feel for her! 100%. Totally.... I agree with Mindy's advice above. I'd also suggest getting into her head a little more. Set her up with the reader. If weight is a problem, make it a problem. If it's more self-image, make that a problem. Women will totally relate... something like this. (Just to give you the idea of what I mean, make her absolutely relatable to all of us!)

      She wanted a Slimmer-ific. Nothing else would do. She was on a woman's quest for a bathing suit that trimmed the waist, covered the butt, lifted the chest and streamlined the dimples and creases that twenty well-known guaranteed diets hadn't touched.
      She wanted... perfection.

      Delete
  4. This is the beginning of a YA

    Luna leaned against the closed front door, her mind racing to retrace her steps the night before.


    She and Tenley hung out at the graduation party and said their goodbyes. Luna looked for Ethan, but never caught him long enough to speak her mind. On the ride home, she told Tenley how much she regretted that. Tenley said it’s now or never. Even if he didn’t feel the same, Luna would know she gave it all she had. So, she pulled out her phone, took a selfie, and snapchatted her feelings to Ethan.


    She was sure she remembered it correctly. So why was Cooper here saying he felt the same?


    Luna picked up her phone and opened Snapchat. There was her message to Ethan. Except no! Her breath caught in her throat. She sent the message to Cooper. Her stomach twisted like a pretzel.


    Tap. Tap. Tap. Cooper knocked on the door again. How long could she leave him waiting? She knew her answer; she didn’t have feelings for Cooper. Her heart has belonged to Ethan since ninth grade, but telling Cooper to his face after that Snapchat was cruel.


    She swallowed her pride and opened the door. Cooper’s face broke into a wide smile and he held out the bouquet of gerbera daisies.


    “Thank you.” Luna took them with a clenched jaw. 


    Luna looked at Cooper. She’d known him since first grade. Their families were friends and they’ve always palled around. She never saw him as boyfriend material. But there he stood, his dark eyes looking right at her. He ironed a polo shirt to wear with jeans. Luna knew he didn’t do that without reason.


    “It’s such a nice day out, let’s go sit on the porch.” Luna set the flowers on the coffee table and headed out the door. Had it been Ethan who showed up, Luna would  be embarrassed wearing a tank top and nylon shorts. It never phased her around Cooper, though.


    They each took a seat. Cooper leaned back and relaxed. Luna curled up her legs, sitting Indian style. Her mind filled with jumbled thoughts of how to approach the situation.


    “I have to admit, it shocked me getting your message,” Cooper said. “I thought it would be a graduation meme, but after I read it and thought for a minute, it made so must sense.”

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    Replies
    1. Oh, poor Luna. And poor Cooper. I like everything here, Felicity, except for that second paragraph. It's backstory that slows down the rest of the story. I'd suggest taking the really important info from that paragraph and sprinkling it in later. But start with the need-to-know info. "How could she have made such a mistake? It was Ethan she'd had a crush on forever, not Cooper. Yet Cooper now stood outside her door with a bouquet of flowers all because she'd sent her Snapchat message to the wrong guy. How could she have made such a mistake?" Right off the bat we know what happened and we feel her angst. Oh, I hope this is a sweet friends-to-lovers story. :)

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    2. Mindy, thank you. I'll go back and see how I can sprinkle. When I was going through it yesterday, I kept asking myself if the second paragraph was too much telling, but wasn't sure how to change it.

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    3. I agree with Mindy... too much backstory but an idea ripe for developing!

      You might want to drop the reader into the story a little quicker.

      Luna Marie Baker Snap-chatted the wrong guy.

      What could make this worse?

      She'd poured out her feelings like water on glass, ready to fish or cut bait because the whole unrequited love thing was an absolute drag. And then hit send to the wrong guy.

      Only now...
      She swallowed hard, knowing who was at her door.
      Now she'd have to face her mistake. Deal with her carelessness. Deal with... him.

      That's just an example to show you what I'm thinking. YA readers have VERY LITTLE PATIENCE and a great solid beginning opens the door for page turning.

      Thank you for being here today!!!! I'm so proud of you, we know it takes guts!

      Delete
  5. Bianca grasped the steering wheel so tight her knuckles were white pulling into the parking lot. One moment she tingled with excitement, and the next she had nausea from uncertainty. She picked up her phone to text her friend Sarah. 

    Bianca: wish me luck.


    Sarah: text me if you need an out. Be safe.


    Bianca: We’re at a full park, in broad daylight. I think it’s going to be ok.


    Bianca flipped down the driver’s seat mirror and checked her makeup. She never thought she’d meet a guy she met online. For so long it sounded insane, but it’s become more normal these days and worth a try.


    For a month Bianca and Aiden emailed. Then they started texting multiple times a day. The next step was seeing each other in person. Bianca said he’d know it was her by her red, wavy hair and yellow shirt with white capris. Aiden told her he’d wear navy blue shirt and Mets baseball hat.


    The sun sat high in the sky, illuminating the entire park. People were out walking the trails, running with their dogs, and groups playing basketball. Others stayed in the shade at picnic tables under the pavilion. There were enough people around. Spotting no one she expected as Aiden, Bianca put on her sunglasses and got out of the car to sit on a bench. 


    Beneath her sunglasses, Bianca scouted everyone coming in the park and watched where they went. Over time, no one approached her. She checked the time on her phone. Ten minutes later than they agreed upon. Ten minutes isn’t that bad, but she re-checked her text messages to make sure.


    She leaned back on the bench, feeling the breeze tickle her face. Minutes went by and still no Aiden. Could he have arrived through another entrance?


    Bianca surveyed the park before heading to down the walking trail. She took in the bright blues and purples of the flowers lining the sidewalk. A butterfly fluttered, touching down on one flower before moving to another. 


    “Watch out.” A deep voice yelled.


    Bianca looked up and jumped back as a frisbee flew by her face, barely missing it. A large yellow lab bounded in front of her after the frisbee.


    “Did it hit you?” A man in a baseball hat rushed to her side.


    “No.” Bianca looked him up and down. A baseball hat. Check. But a green shirt. She looked back up at the hat. It was a Cowboy’s hat, not the Mets.


    Bianca cringed and stepped back when the dog jumped up on her.


    “Goldie.” The guy pushed the dog down. Bianca stepped further away as Goldie followed her and the guy pulled Goldie back. “She’s drawn to certain people.”


    “Is she?” Bianca put her arms in front of her waist. Not only did she dislike dogs, she had a task to do- find Aiden. She didn’t want him to think she stood him up.


    “I’m Bennett.” He walked beside her as Goldie kept Bianca’s stride. She wanted to make a scene in hopes he’d leave. Bianca turned and looked at him. He took off his sunglasses to reveal crystal blue eyes. They were oddly familiar.

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    Replies
    1. Paige, this is definitely the kind of story I like to read. But the opening is a bit too slow. Too much backstory that can be filtered in later. I'd have her walking through the park, looking for the Mets hat. Show her anxiety and excitement over the first meeting and then maybe have her texting her friend when the guy yells for her to watch out. Her almost being hit and coming in contact with Bennett is the start of the story. Because I'm assuming he's the hero. If he's not, then he shouldn't have such a prominent role. And I love Goldie. Dogs, kids and old people are always great catalysts for bringing people together. Can't wait to read more.

      Delete
    2. Im glad you like it, Mindy. Im going to rewrite it with your suggestions.

      Delete
    3. Paige, how about if you start with the no-show?

      How she put herself out there and then she's texting and the Frisbee dog incident occurs.

      He didn't show.
      Bianca shoved down a whole nest of feelings, starting with rejection, rejection and more rejection. She'd deal with those later.
      Right now she needed to get out of the park, pretend she hadn't been waiting to meet someone who sounded perfect online--
      She stood, pretending nonchalance.
      Maybe he'd been hit by a car. No, a train, like that cute rom/com movie.
      Not dead, mind you.
      Dazed.
      Memory gone.
      Doesn't realize the love of his life is waiting just blocks away.
      (You get the idea, if we start with her disappointment, the reader locks into her emotions, her mistake, a hint of her past, etc.)

      Remember, this is just a suggestion! But I think more immediacy draws your reader right in.

      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on our stories! This is the first page of my book set in the 1920s.

    Bertie watched the train until it disappeared from view, feeling a sharp snap in his chest when it was completely gone. Hope had abandoned him hours ago and left a shell composed of worries he could not solve on his own. He picked up his worn carpetbags and began walking.

    Dusk was approaching, casting the streets of Sacramento in an eerie purple glow. Bertie knew his grandmother lived around here somewhere, but it had been years since he last visited her. He had no idea where to start looking or how he could find her.
    Well-dressed couples passed Bertie, entering and exiting the various restaurants, diners, and lounges that littered the city. The men wore wool dress coats over their crisp black suits. The women, on the other hand, chose not to wear coats, sacrificing comfort to show off their sparkling evening wear.

    Bertie looked down at his old, tattered coat hanging on his body. Ma had bought it for him years ago when she noticed her son shivering in a hand-me-down coat during early morning chores. Pa did not want to waste money buying a new wool coat for his youngest son, but Ma had insisted. The coat had lasted through those mornings, but it now looked like it belonged to a beggar. The cuffs were frayed, the front and collar stained from sweat and dirt, and mismatched buttons were sewn down the front in a crooked line.

    When Bertie noticed people staring at him, he began walking faster. He felt he did not belong in this part of town. Besides, he did not have much money and knew the places the couples were visiting would not offer him a cheap meal.

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    1. Meegan, your writing is beautiful. I think what's lacking here is Bertie's GMC. We know he wants to find his grandmother, but why? We need a reason to cheer him on and to want to follow him on his journey. You want to grab the reader's attention right away by letting them know what the character wants, why they want it and what stands in the way of them achieving that goal. That's where the story starts and is what sets the reader on the journey with the character. And I'm guessing you probably know the answers to those questions, they're just not relayed here in the opening. Once those elements are stated clearly, I think you'll have the beginnings of a great story.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Thank you, Mindy! You're definitely right about stating Bertie's GMC right off the bat. I do this a few paragraphs after the snippet I shared, but I still need to work on the pacing. I've been struggling to write Bertie's character for years, but I know his story needs to be told! I need to do a major character revitalization with Bertie, and I'll start by mapping out his GMC. Thank you again!

      Delete
    4. I agree with Mindy... beautiful, classic style, almost poetic... I love it. But I'd delete that first sentence right off... No train watching. None...

      You create that angst in sentence two... beautifully.

      Hope abandoned Bertie Chivers hours ago.
      The train was gone. He was here, unseen. Unknown.

      (that kind of thing... immerse the reader into Bertie's life....)

      I love the carpetbag, the moving down the street, etc. I wouldn't have him look down at his worn jacket... he knows what he's wearing.

      He's moving on, understanding he's out of his element... And that's beautifully stated.

      Delete
    5. Thank you so much for your comment, Ruth! I will definitely apply your suggestions.

      Delete
  7. Kimberly BurkhardtJune 4, 2021 at 12:38 PM

    This is the beginning of one of my WIPs.

    Maddock, Illinois
    Mid-August 1878

    One person. One person stood in the way of her future. Samantha Baxter let out an unladylike sigh. Stares from the other customers standing in line judged her. She didn’t care.
    “Next please.”
    Finally.
    “How can I— Oh, it’s you, again.”
    Samantha narrowed her eyes. “Yes, it is. Are there any letters for me today?”
    The man rested his cheek on his hand. “You’ve been coming here every day for the past two weeks and every time it’s the same old answer.”
    Her shoulders slumped. It didn’t come. When would this torture end?
    “Let me just take another look.” He turned and thumbed through the letters on the counter.
    Samantha tapped her polished fingernails on the counter. Please be here. Please be here. The plea kept rhythm with her tapping.
    “It’s your lucky day.” The clerk turned, waving a white envelope.
    Samantha snatched the letter. With a quick “thank you”, she rushed out the door.
    Her gaze landed on the small park across the street. Weaving through the people on the sidewalk, Samantha dashed across the busy street and into the solitude of the park. She clutched the letter closer and followed one of the few paths that curved through the small park.
    Large red oaks and maples towered overhead, giving cool shade to the unbearable heat of the afternoon. She told herself it was the reason for her sweaty palms.
    She slid onto an empty bench along the path. The letter rested in her lap. The urgency from earlier turned to insignificance. What if they said no? What would she do then? Her finger traced the sender’s address. “Please be good news,” she whispered.
    With a steady breath, she tore the envelope. The letter rustled as she unfolded it. Hands shaking, Samantha scanned the contents. They wanted her. They really wanted her.
    She jumped up from the bench and stopped short of bumping into an elderly lady. “I’m sorry, ma’am.”
    The woman tsked and shook her head in disapproval before continuing her stroll. Samantha shrugged it off. Nothing was going to dampen her mood.
    “Miss Baxter, are you all right?”
    Samantha turned to find her lady’s maid standing behind the bench. “Violet, I didn’t see you there.” She snatched the letter behind her back.
    “I’m sorry. I know you said to stay in the carriage, but you left the post office in such a hurry, I thought something might be wrong.”
    “I’m the one who should apologize. I just needed a little privacy and couldn’t wait until we returned home.”
    Violet nodded. She eyed the letter behind Samantha’s back but said nothing.
    “We should get going. I want to stop by Father’s bank before we head home.”
    “Yes, Miss.”

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    Replies
    1. Well written, Kimberly, but I'm having a hard time connecting with/cheering for Samantha because I don't know what it is she wants. She wanted that letter, but why? Goal, motivation and conflict are crucial in opening scenes because they set the stage and draw the reader in. You need to let us know why this letter is so important. And then what will happen if the writer of the letter doesn't want Samantha? Once the GMC is established, readers can then connect with the character and connection is what makes them want to keep reading, so we want that connection to happen ASAP.

      Delete
    2. Kimberly BurkhardtJune 4, 2021 at 1:12 PM

      Thank you for you input, Mindy! I do go more into Samantha's GMC in the next few paragraphs I just didn't want my critique piece to be too long. I might see if I can't work it in sooner though.

      Delete
  8. This is the beginning of a short story I'm working on.

    On every other day of the year, Jasmine Reeves loved her job at the Highland Library in the acquisitions department. She’d been thrilled to land a job in the beautiful building downtown. Walking through the glass double doors every weekday, smelling coffee brewing at the tiny cafe in the lobby, spending her time among thousands of books, she loved it all. Just not on her birthday.
    There was not much worse than fluorescent lights and spreadsheets on what was supposed to be the best day of the year. Jasmine had hoped to be sleeping late or brunching with friends right now. But instead she’d used up her few days of paid time off for Christmas vacation and a last-minute road trip to see her college friends for their spring break. They were all finishing up their senior years and she was working a real, adult job with no breaks for spring, summer, fall, or winter.
    “Jasmine Reeves?”
    Jasmine’s gaze shot up from her computer. The long list of acquisitions for the library had her eyes crossing. Maybe that’s why she thought she saw a giant bouquet of roses and tulips and peonies walking her way.
    A young woman wearing a black polo shirt peeked out from behind the flowers. “I have a delivery for Jasmine Reeves.”
    “I’m Jasmine.” She rose from her swivel chair and took the glass vase from the woman’s outstretched arms.
    “Would you sign here?”
    Jasmine carefully set the vase on her desk—it was heavier than it looked—and signed the delivery receipt.
    “Okay, thanks. Have a great day!”
    “Wait—” Jasmine called after the woman, but she was already gone. Who in the world had sent her flowers?
    She hadn’t exactly kept her birthday a secret, so there were a lot of possibilities. There must be a card or something inside the bouquet that would tell her who sent the flowers.
    She searched through the red and pink blooms for a moment before finding a little white envelope with a note inside.
    “Happy Birthday to a beautiful and captivating woman. I hope your day is as lovely as you are.”
    She flipped the paper over to the back. There was nothing else. No signature. She couldn’t even make a guess based on handwriting since the message had been printed using a computer.
    Captivating. What an interesting word. It almost sounded romantic.
    She’d started the morning feeling very disappointed to be working on her birthday. But these flowers sure made the trip to the office worthwhile. If only she knew who'd sent them.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, we love surprise suitors! And stalkers, LOL!

      My goodness, this could go either way. So here's what I'd suggest to pick up the pacing: Have her walk in and the flowers are already there.

      She can lament her choice of careers/jobs/school briefly, but the flowers are the focus of this scene, and her reaction to them.

      And in this day and age, I think any woman who is uninvolved with anyone would get a touch of concern over a note like that.... from an unknown.

      Something to think about?

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the great suggestions, Ruthie! I didn't think about her being concerned. I'll have to add that in for sure.

      Delete
    3. Hope you're open for a late edition...Here's my first page for a cozy mystery entitled, AN INTERVIEW TO DIE FOR

      Brittany hit the submit button, then pushed her plush leather chair back from the laptop on her desk. Closing her eyes for a moment, she shook her head and sighed. How many more of these insipid fundraiser gala stories will I have to edit for this paper? Five hundred? A thousand? It’s always the same cast of characters only older than when I was in high school and thought it would be wonderful to have my picture in the paper for these affairs. I had no idea how dreary they could be. However, she was now the Editor-in-Chief of the Weekly Sentinel, which required her to be at most of them or find a good reason to pawn them off on one of her reporters.
      This was her purgatory for the grave error of not double-checking her sources on a hit piece for a politician she despised that got the Indianapolis News sued for libel. Fired from her job, the few options available included starting at the bottom again doing obits, working for The Enquirer or similar scandal sources, or taking her dad’s offer to run their hometown’s newspaper so he could retire and enjoy life rather than only write about it.
      Her eyes drifted to the picture on the oak credenza at the side of her office. She wore her high school graduation gown with her parents on either side of her proudly displaying a sign which read, “Future Pulitzer Prize Winner!” Back then she couldn’t wait to leave this ‘burb and go to college and make a name for herself far away from home. Fifteen years after her high school graduation, she did succeed in making a name for herself, just not the right one. And that brought her back here where her life started.
      “OMG, I can’t believe it. Grayson Matheson is going to be Grand Marshall of the Founder’s Day parade. He is such a hottie. I’ve seen all his movies.”
      Brittany’s eyes widened at the squeals of delight coming from the staff bull pen. How could that be? She bolted out of her desk and leaned by her door. “Where’s this change of Grand Marshall coming from? Past-mayor Reynolds was announced for that position weeks ago.”
      “Mayor Reynolds’ dad had a heart attack and he’s headed to Florida to be with his mom. Since he doesn’t know when he’ll return, he told them to pull in someone else. And the mayor got Grayson.” Her style reporter fanned herself as her face showed a Cheshire cat grin.
      Brittany turned and shook her head. No doubt that suggestion came from Daniel Brokowski, the Mayor Pro-Tem. He was part of Grayson’s squad back in high school. For some reason, they still kept in touch. He was one of the few people that Matheson didn’t let the back door slam on him when he got the call to Hollywood. She was one of the many that got that treatment 14 years ago. She’d rather see him dead than back in town again, but she’d keep a professional attitude about his visit for the sake of the newspaper.

      Delete

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