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Open Mic with Author Lauren Bjorkman

January 28, 2010

Welcome back to Open Mic!

First, I owe you guys an apology. I got through some of your pieces last week, but not all. I’m working on three different writing projects right now, all with uncomfortably close deadlines, and it’s made it tough for me to juggle all the non-writing stuff that I enjoy so much.

But I continue to be AMAZED at the quality of the writing I see here each week. You guys are so talented, and I just know we’re going to see more than one of you published at some point.

As usual, please limit your piece to one 300-word excerpt and be sure to comment at least one other piece if you post one of your own.

I had so much fun hosting author Jennifer Brown last week, that I’ve lined up another Guest Commentator for you this week! Author Lauren Bjorkman has graciously offered to participate and will be commenting each entry through Sunday night.Enjoy it, cause next week it’s back to just you and me, bay-beee!

Lauren’s book, My Invented Life, has garnered praise from SLJ, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, among many others. Check it out! 😀

Roz and Eva are sisters, friends, and rivals. Roz fantasizes about snagging the lead in the school play and landing sexy skate god Bryan as her boyfriend.

Sadly, a few obstacles stand between her and her dream. For one, Eva is the more talented actress. And Bryan happens to be Eva’s boyfriend. But does Eva have a secret life with her cheerleading partner? Inquiring minds need to know.

Roz, who prides herself on random acts of insanity, hatches a scheme to get Eva to open up. The plan backfires, and Eva is furious. Roz finds herself neck deep in her invented life.

When Roz meets a mercurial boy with a big problem, she begins to understand the complex feelings beneath the labels. And she gets a second chance to earn Eva’s trust.

My Invented Life is a YA novel set in a small California town during the rehearsal of “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare.

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124 Comments leave one →
  1. shannon hamling permalink
    February 7, 2010 8:46 pm

    aww…thanks guys. I really appreciate it.

  2. February 3, 2010 6:49 pm

    wow, im not sure what to say either, except that i really like it! 🙂

  3. Ayla permalink
    February 2, 2010 7:17 pm

    hmmm… i dont have anything to post 😦

    stupid writers block!!!!

  4. Shannon Hamling permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:25 am

    Hello again. I do not have anything from my WIP. However, I took some time to put to together this poems. Well really dig it up from my saved emails to my high school journal! hope you enjoy it.
    ___________________________Shannon Hamling_____________________________

    “The Little Interruptions”
    Yelling and screaming
    Make it all stop
    We have vaccines and medicines
    Well write one for the clock
    I’m not saying don’t go
    I just can’t watch the first steps
    As time slips through my fingers
    I can’t find the right grip
    There’s nothing I can do
    Nothing I could say
    The Clock mocks me this way
    Tick Tock Tick Tock
    Sh! Clock Shush!
    Oh buddy
    Oh pal
    Please silence yourself
    For just a little while
    Spotlight?
    Alas! Check
    Audience?
    All Eyes
    Right, Ready, Steady…
    Tick Tock
    Oh for love of sanity
    Doctor rid it of me
    Whatever it says
    Don’t listen
    It’ll twist you just like those ugly hands
    One’s an hour
    The other a minute
    A bipolar menace
    three twenty
    three twenty-one
    My speech still unspoken
    I want to break you and stay broken
    My three words still unspoken
    My objective was set
    Now I’m not entirely sure
    I wished to tell you something
    Before my argument with the time keeper at the door
    Okay here it goes
    I…
    tick tock
    Love…
    Tick tock tick
    You…
    boom, boom
    When did my pulse come into play?
    Now while my heart torments me
    The Clock tortures you
    Take heed I think the doctor may be in on it too

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 9:04 am

      Shannon! This is amazing. I LOVE it. SUCH interesting metaphors. It feels almost… frenzied as it reaches the end. In a GOOD way. Like I can feel the inner turmoil of this person as she reaches the point of her confession.

      Very, very well done, hon! Come back again, okay?

      MZ

  5. Jake permalink
    January 31, 2010 11:40 pm

    This is the begining of a story I’m writing. Please leave comments. Thanks

    Aaron Ian White is a twelve year old boy who has a very ordinary life. He is a very good athlete and he plays football and basketball for his junior high team. Like many boys he has a secret crush. He unfortunately has annoying twin sisters. He has average parents who are very good at their jobs. He has a cool friend who is closer to him than the brother he never had. Aaron does okay in school. He is not the best student but he is the worst either. He would rather be outside than inside. He has a job that he likes working at. He is comfortable with his life and is loving many moments of it. It is a shame that he doesn’t know his life is about to change very dramatically.
    Aaron was not someone who read a lot of books. He usually avoided reading as much as possible. So when his sixth grade teacher Mr. Edwards told him he to turn in a book report to be eligible to play football Aaron put on a look of disgust and tried to think of what book to read. Mr. Edwards said, “There are a few conditions. (Aaron did not look happy.) First off the book has to be over 200 pages long. (Aaron gave an inaudible groan.) Second, the report has to be 75 words or more. (Aaron gave a soft groan that Mr. Edwards couldn’t hear.) And lastly, you must turn it in, in the next two weeks. (Aaron let out a groan that Mr. Edwards could hear.) Now no complaining otherwise if you don’t do the book report you will not be able to play football in two weeks. All right class, have a nice night and see you tomorrow.”

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 9:02 am

      Hi, Jake! So glad you joined us!

      I really love all the information you’ve given us about your character. It’s obvious you put a lot of thought into his personality, background, interests, etc., all of which are really important to creating a sketch that will allow you to write well-developed characters.

      What I would suggest is to ask yourself what the first IMPORTANT thing is that happens in your story, and begin there. If it’s the book report, give us some of this information in a scene with dialog and movement. This allows the reader to be in the story and avoids the possibility they they might tune out.

      As an example (and I don’t know your story like you do, so this is just a way to demonstrate what I mean);

      He knew he was doomed as soon as Mr. Edwards gave the assignment.

      “This book report is due next Monday.” He made his way down the aisles of the classroom, dropping a piece of paper with the report guidelines on all our desks.

      I thought I’d groaned inwardly, but I guess I wasn’t that quiet, because Mr. Edwards stopped at my desk with a raised eyebrow.

      “If you want to play football, you need a good grade on this report, Aaron.”

      Aaron rolled his eyes, leaning back in his chair and trying to look bored. It wasn’t that he COULDN’T do it. He just didn’t want to. Between girls [or guys, if that’s the direction you’re going] and football, reading wasn’t exactly high on his list of priorities.

      Okay, so again, this is YOUR story. It probably wouldn’t read anything like this, Jake. But hopefully this gives you an idea what I mean. In this short passage, you’ve managed to SHOW the reader a lot of what you were TELLING them in the first pass. Does that make sense?

      I’d really, REALLY love to see more of this, hon! I hope this helps, and I hope you come back to post!

      MZ

  6. laurenbjorkman permalink
    January 31, 2010 4:54 pm

    Wow! So many creative word choices and sensory details! I especially like the tinder shadows a shiver beyond the road. I also love the line, “Such blue in gentle confrontation.” Very well done. You may want to reconsider procumbent, though. It stopped my in my tracks. Especially among so many words I enjoyed.
    arms laden
    well-trodden boards
    towels spread
    briney chill
    All of these word pairs made me want to go to the beach with you!
    Bravo.

    • rosylee permalink
      February 1, 2010 7:17 pm

      Thank you, Lauren!

      Shiver and such blue.. were my favourite lines, they were those big grin I love you lines as soon as I wrote them :))

      I will definitely rethink procumbent. It’s a tricky one and not often used I know. It didn’t occur to me that it might halt the reader.

      It’s such a lovely beach too. We discovered another bay not five minutes away that was even more beautiful and utterly deserted – all of this in the height of summer here in Oz!

  7. rosylee permalink
    January 31, 2010 2:48 am

    A trip to the beach, anyone?

    Bunker Bay

    Tinder shadows lean against sticky tarmac,
    a shiver beyond the sugar loaf road.
    Dark-wood natives burgeoning —
    nature’s verdure beckons in
    shallow decline toward the bay.
    With arms laden,
    we pick a path
    ‘cross well-trodden boards to mellifluous
    sands, the thrum of crickets
    bringing up the rear.
    Towels spread
    among the sea-bank’s procumbent throng
    then skirt the briney chill.
    Such blue in gentle
    confrontation,
    a tentative step,
    and wavelets kindle at our knees.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 8:48 am

      Rosy! This is incredible.

      Incredible!

      You make me think differently of things I’ve seen and heard a thousand times. At the same time, I feel melancholy, almost as if this is a memory.

      Especially loved;

      Such blue in gentle
      confrontation,
      a tentative step,
      and wavelets kindle at our knees.

      Gorgeous!

      MZ

      • rosylee permalink
        February 4, 2010 8:58 pm

        Thank you, Michelle 🙂

        Very glad I had my notebook with me on my trip to record this stuff.

  8. Brandi permalink
    January 30, 2010 1:37 pm

    This is my first time posting on here, which is a big step for me because I’m on of those little worry-warts whose always afraid something will happen with their work. So yeah, this is a poem a wrote awhile ago. Any feedback would be great 🙂
    _______________________________________________________________________
    You’re supposed to be the one there holding my hand through everything
    Never questioning my ways, just always believing in me
    But ever since that faithful day when I finally confessed to you
    That deep down inside I’m not your baby girl; I’m filled with thoughts of darkness
    You never seem to be the way you used to be.

    You’re supposed to be the one that helps me through the tough times
    Comforting me when I start to fell down in the dumps
    To make sure that I’m okay in everyway
    But now everything seems so much different when I’m around you
    It’s almost as if there has been a wall that came up that you put up to keep me away
    You won’t even let me come within a hundred feet

    You’re supposed to hug me tight even when I tell you my deepest secrets
    Never once thinking ‘Is this what I should be doing’
    Just remembering that I’m your child no matter what
    But no matter how hard I’ve tried to show you
    That even though I’m sad inside, I’m still here
    Your sixteen year old blue eyed girl.

    You’re never supposed to scream at me for small and trivial things
    Somehow though, you always find a way to find my fault in everything
    It’s almost like you’re trying to find a reason to scream at me
    To find the smallest thing wrong with what I’ve done
    Never once remembering all the pain that it’s causing
    You never stopped to think, “Am I hurting my baby girl.”

    You’re the one that’s pushing me to want to feel the pain
    The exhilaration of the cold hard metal across my skin
    Even if it does break the pact that I made with a friend
    But even if I screamed it in your face what’s happening to me
    I doubt you’d even listen for one minute
    Your to absorbed in what you think is the most important thing in life (which definitely isn’t me)

    You’re going to listen to me now
    Hear all the pain I have inside me that I kept hidden from you
    Now it’s time for you to learn every deep and dark thing
    That was once filled with light and happiness
    But no matter how much I can tell you right now
    You’ll never fully understand everything inside my head

    You now only have one last thing to hear from me
    The one thing that I had always dreaded to tell you no matter how bad things got
    I always tried to keep this little secret from you
    Even when you used words that made me want to scream
    But maybe I’ll just wait awhile and deal with the pain I have
    You can keep your nasty words and actions; I have my own life to live

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 30, 2010 4:22 pm

      This…wow…left me breathless. I love the way it flows…Poems don’t always have to rhyme and this one was completed smoothly without that particular factor….No worries….I love your work and am looking forward to reading more from you….

      • January 30, 2010 8:37 pm

        oh my gosh, that is absolutely amazing. it made me cry. its filled with so much emotion. i can relate to it in some places, and its just… wow, absolutely amazing… and no need to be nervous ’cause thats just… WOW.

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 30, 2010 10:43 pm

      The power of this piece is in its raw emotion. You pull us into the moment–the tumult and pain–of your character with stream of conscious writing.

      I found the beginning especially intriguing, and wondered if the narrator was aware that she hurt her mom with her words, “I’m not you’re baby girl.” Or if she saw the irony that after she said those words, she wanted to be her baby girl again. If so, you may want to make more of this.

      I was a little unclear, though, whether she was cutting herself or killing herself. In either case, you do a fabulous job of building to a crescendo and tragic end. Very moving!

    • Brandi permalink
      January 31, 2010 12:30 am

      Thanks guys 🙂 It means so much that you guys like this. I actually wrote this off my own experience to my father. I’ve always wanted him to understand that I do have depression and that sometimes he just needs to react to situations better when I’m around so that it won’t cause me to feel the pain all over. It’s like I want him to treat me like his little girl sometimes, but at others I need my independance. And to make it clear, it’s cuting not sucided…which isn’t much better but yeah. Again thanks so much it’s so awesome to know so many people enjoy my writing 😀

      • Brandi permalink
        January 31, 2010 12:32 am

        and I fail at hitting backspace as well… I also meant to say it was meant to be ironic that wanting both and saying it, but feeling another way….(and I may have to kill my laptop.. lol)

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 8:45 am

      This is very powerful in its raw emotion, Brandi. You express with heartbreaking truth the conflicted emotions of being a teenager – both wanting to be someone’s “baby girl” and wanting to grow up. It’s a push-and-pull that I think most teenagers feel, and you’ve described it perfectly in this piece.

      Very nice job, hon. I hope you’ll come back and share again!

      MZ

  9. January 30, 2010 12:20 am

    Yay for Lauren Bjorkman! I met her at a signing here in San Francisco last month and will be giving away a copy of her book soon!

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 30, 2010 10:00 pm

      And yay for the talented and exuberant Daisy Whitney. I met her 🙂 and would love to give away her book, too!!! When does it come out?

  10. January 29, 2010 7:20 pm

    Ok umm, not really sure what this is, just kinda wrote it not too long ago, and kinda nervous, haha…

    Let us have some fun
    under the burnin’ sun
    while we say hi!
    And wish that like a kite we could fly,
    and live our life.
    Sharp as a knife
    we say goodbye
    after we try for light
    in a never ending night.

    Any comments are welcome!

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 30, 2010 10:03 pm

      Song lyrics! That’s what I think this is. It has a bouncy rhythm, and a lively mood. I could imagine it to a melody like the song The Waters of March.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 8:04 am

      I agree with Lauren! This sounds like a song. I always admire people who can write poems and lyrics, because I suck at both! This feels really fun and upbeat – something you’d listen to in the summer that would take you back to that time and place every time you heard it.

      Nice!

      MZ

  11. January 29, 2010 7:16 pm

    aww, i love it!

  12. laurenbjorkman permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:01 pm

    Such a great letter! At first I thought she was longing for someone she couldn’t have. I love the surprise that she doesn’t dare give this letter to the boy she has! The way your summarize the order of events is wonderful, and gives me a full picture with only a few words. The tiffany box line is fab-o. Nice work!!

    • January 30, 2010 11:36 pm

      Thank you soo much! I love recieving positive feedback from others, especially writers from who I can how to better my writing. This is something for real though, something that I now realise I need to give to someone, or atleast anoter version of this letter. It would help me to let go of an ex-boyfriend and gain one who, I think, would be better for me right now. 🙂

      • michellezinkbooks permalink*
        February 4, 2010 8:01 am

        Sounds like you could use some Not-So-Old-Fashioned Advice.
        😉

        MZ

      • February 7, 2010 7:40 pm

        Yup, that’s for sure.

  13. January 29, 2010 2:54 am

    Not my best piece, but something that I’m happy with. Comments?

    dear you,

    i took tonight to write you a stupid love letter, but i don’t think i have the guts to give it to you. i’m holding this note in my hand, starting to crumple the frail paper to prove how strong i am, but i stop. i need to write this, even if just to keep in a sealed envelope underneath my mattress. it’s safe to say that i was shot by cupid. and there’s nothing you can say or do to make these feelings stop.

    forget everyone, they don’t need to know any of this. how we’ve spent nights watching sci-fi reruns on tv, ordering in some pizza and just hanging out. how you told me that your heart belonged to another girl. how i stole your heart back from her and you gave it to me in a tiffany box.

    are we moving too fast? are we moving too slow? it’s been two weeks since i was dumped, twelve days since you comforted me. ten days since you told me that you liked me, eight days since we went on that date. two days ago we were at your place, and you made your intentions clear enough.

    now it’s midnight and i’m on my way out to work the night shift at the local corner store. you know where that is, where i fell asleep during your shift two weeks ago. you didn’t want to wake me, you said that i looked cute.

    i guess this is it, then. i’ll take my heart back from that other boy and present it to you, shiny and new. promise you won’t break it?

    • January 29, 2010 1:12 pm

      I like this 🙂 I can tell that she’s had her heart broken, and she’s afraid to start something new.
      ‘i’ll take my heart back from that other boy and present it to you, shiny and new. promise you won’t break it?’ <– love this! ❤

      • January 30, 2010 11:18 pm

        Thanks! I love to hear when people like my writing, it strokes my ego, lol.

    • Sapphire_Dani permalink
      January 29, 2010 3:52 pm

      I love love LOVE this piece!!!!! If its not your best piece, then i can’t wait to read something that you put your heart and soul into!!!! WRITE ON!!!!

      • January 30, 2010 11:32 pm

        Thank you! I just came up with it one day, didn’t develop the idea much, besides my own feelings and whatnot.

    • Brandi permalink
      January 30, 2010 1:30 pm

      I love how it’s something a lot of girls can relate to (I know I can right now). Truely beautiful 🙂

      • January 30, 2010 11:33 pm

        I actually just wrote this up one day after I was going through some things, issues between two guys, one that I wanted to leave behind but was afraid to and another that I didn’t know how he felt towards me.

    • January 31, 2010 2:05 pm

      I like contrasting images in this: “starting to crumple the frail paper to prove how strong i am”

      Also the listing and counting of this: “it’s been two weeks since i was dumped, twelve days since you comforted me. ten days since you told me that you liked me, eight days since we went on that date. two days ago we were at your place, and you made your intentions clear enough.”

    • Jake permalink
      January 31, 2010 11:30 pm

      Wow! That was a great letter. I know a couple friends who are going through this same thing. So many people can relate to this. Keep writing things like this. Good job.

      • February 2, 2010 7:09 pm

        Thank you! I love hearing it when people like my work. =) Makes me feel awesome and want to write more for you all.

        But yeah, like I’ve said before, most of my work on here is either based off of personal experiences or is something that most people can relate to.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 8:00 am

      This is SO sweet and heart-felt. The sincerity is obvious, and it makes me feel like I know this girl, even though that would normally be impossible through such a short piece.

      Keep writing from your heart, hon!

      MZ

      • February 7, 2010 7:40 pm

        Thank youu Michelle!
        That means a lot to me 🙂

  14. Sapphire_Dani permalink
    January 28, 2010 9:58 pm

    Well…this week’s not a story or a poem….It’s more like a monologue I did as an assignment for Drama class….Read and critique please….Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

    Think…Sleep…Dream

    It’s a mystery, isn’t it? Sleep. What happens to us, for real? It’s said that when you fall asleep, you are really somewhat in a trance. From what I know, you dream every second of the night that you are asleep. Those dreams that a person remembers are often of something he or she thought of just before falling into the trance of sleep. Also, a person may be close the being awake and so remembers the dream when he or she awakens.

    What is sleep? What is dreaming? T’s a mystical, fantastical parallel universe that everyone creates in their mind.

    Have you ever seen your body asleep but swore you were awake? Do you know about Out of Body Experiences?

    Think…Sleep…Dream…

    25/01/10
    Mikela Ariel Khan

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 4:57 pm

      Fascinating piece. Dreams are so interesting. Chuang Tze said, (and I paraphrase) “Am I Chuang Tze dreaming I’m a butterfly, or am is the butterfly dreaming it is Chuang Tze?”

      I like “Tis a mystical, fantastical parallel universe that everyone creates in their mind.” Taking it one step further, “Tis a mystical, fantastical, parallel universe we visit every night.

      I think your only dream for part of the night, though. More intense dreams in the early part of the night, and harder to remember, and more dreams after you’ve satisfied your bodies need for rest.

      I like how you frame the piece with “Think…sleep…dream” I tend to think a lot before I fall asleep, so I this progression feels genuine.

      Thought-provoking monologue. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jake permalink
      January 31, 2010 11:27 pm

      That is something that always makes me think and wonder. I think it was written really well and it was explained nicely. Great piece.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      February 4, 2010 7:58 am

      This definitely makes you think about sleeping and dreaming. I can see where it would be a good concept for a monologue! Did you actually perform it?

      MZ

      • Sapphire_Dani permalink
        February 6, 2010 5:14 pm

        nope…nopt yet. like i said, it was an assignment for drama class…I’m only 13 btw..

  15. January 28, 2010 9:19 pm

    Hi everyone, it’s my first time here, so I’m both nervous and excited. This is an extract of my WIP, about a girl named Cora (I really need to change her name, I had no idea, NO idea, so many people were naming their characters Cora!) who thinks she’s got the ability to see the futute through her dreams, but she later learns, her power’s so much greater than what she thought. Here she’s talking to Ben, after he helped save her from some people who’re after her.

    Any comment is highly appreciated!
    Thanks!
    ————–

    “What is your freaking problem?” I scream at his face. I don’t care about Andrew and Morgan, don’t notice them until their presence’s no longer strong. Good, they’re gone. Now I can kill him if I want to, and there’ll be no one to stop me. “What have I done to you, to make you hate me so much?” I say, throwing my hands up in the air.

    Why doesn’t he move? Why is he still sitting there, with his cup of tea in his hands? He should be up in front of me, screaming at me for ruining his life!

    “You have ruined it,” he says. The outburst had weakened my defences, and now he could see the inside of my brain. Again.

    “Please, tell me what did I do! I am in the dark here! I swear it was done unconsciously done, but if you don’t tell me what’s…”

    “You exist.” He gets up so quickly and takes me by my left arm so fast, I get dizzy again, and lose control of my mind. It tingles where he touches me. He moves up a pace. His face’s just an inch away from mine. “You condemned us all the day you were born,” he breathes into my face.

    And I’m spinning out of control one more time. Because, if he’s saying such a horrible thing about me, shouldn’t he be furious, instead of feeling attraction? Or is that just me? Because no matter what he’s just said, I still think of him as the most beautiful man in the world. But feeling like that was of no use, if the object of my attraction can’t care less about me. And yet, standing so close to him, breathing his shallow and quick breaths, felt like the most natural thing in the world.

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 4:49 pm

      It’s always challenging to open yourself up to critique. Congratulations on taking the plunge! There’s a lot of tension in this piece. I especially like the part when the tea drinker reads her mind. Maybe there’s a way to make that even more obvious to the reader? Putting the word “have” in italics?

      I’m not sure why she’s so angry with him. Especially since she understands he’s upset with her for ruining his life. So she does understand what his freaking problem is? Of course, I don’t know what just came before.

      Since she knows she ruined his life at the end of paragraph two, I don’t understand why she’s asking him what she did. Again, it’s probably just that I don’t have the whole context!

      I’m quite intrigued with the idea that her birth alone condemned them all. That’s huge. And I love your premise. It has so much potential.

      • January 29, 2010 8:11 pm

        I promise it all makes sense when read in context, and there ARE italics in it, I just didn’t know how to use them in a comment 😛
        Thanks for reading!

    • January 31, 2010 2:01 pm

      My Grandma’s name is Cora so when I needed a name for Hank’s wife, that name popped into my head. Don’t change it. If the name belongs to her, you may find changing the name will only hurt your story and writing. Might sound kooky, but my characters pick their names and if I try to change them, I get hit with writer’s block until I go back to the original name. 😉

      The line: “You exist.” is such a powerful line.

      Why did he save her? This piece begs for answers because we are being dropped in. Curious to see other bits to piece them together.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 31, 2010 10:55 pm

      One of the things I love most about this piece is the authentic dialog. Having three teenagers makes it very easy for me to spot unrealistic dialog, but yours is done very well. I especially like the dialog in this piece;

      “What is your freaking problem?” I scream at his face. I don’t care about Andrew and Morgan, don’t notice them until their presence’s no longer strong. Good, they’re gone. Now I can kill him if I want to, and there’ll be no one to stop me. “What have I done to you, to make you hate me so much?” I say, throwing my hands up in the air.

      I can see two young people having just this kind of interaction.

      Thanks so much for sharing, hon! I hope to see more from you.

      MZ

  16. January 28, 2010 9:19 pm

    This is a piece from a story called Mansion Made of Twigs. It’s a realistic Cinderella story set in the late 80’s/early 90’s. This is a scene from the beginning right after Caitriana (our Cinderella)’s mother’s funeral. Benedicto, her father, comes in to comfort her.

    INT. CAITRIANA’S ROOM. NIGHT.

    A couple weeks after the funeral, Caitriana sits in the bay window in her room looking at the full moon and the stars. Benedicto enters and turns on the light, revealing a moderate sized room with a cushy, canopy bed, a dresser with a mirror on it, and posters of various pop artists and movie stars on the wall. She turns and faces her father with a face full of tears.

    BENEDICTO
    My poor baby! It’s going to be
    alright. We’ve got to be strong!

    CAITRIANA
    You don’t understand! I feel like
    a part of myself died with her. I
    grieve for Mama, but I feel like
    I’ve lost so much more than that.
    I’m grieving for my old life, and
    I fear my new life will be so much
    harder.

    BENEDICTO
    Mija, I know. I too feel a void
    in my life where your mother used
    to be. We got to stay strong the
    best we can, continue living life
    as normal as possible. Mama
    wouldn’t want us to wallow in
    grief the rest of our life. She’d
    want us to live life as much as
    we can. (beat) Do you know Velna?

    CAITRIANA
    Your secretary?

    BENEDICTO
    Yes. She is being evicted from
    her apartment, and I offered to
    help her out by letting her stay
    here.

    CAITRIANA
    Here? So soon?

    BENEDICTO
    Yes. I can’t let her and her
    two daughters be homeless.

    CAITRIANA
    I don’t know….

    Benedicto gives a heaving cough, and Caitriana is worried.

    BENEDICTO
    (seeing her look)
    I’m fine, mija.

    CAITRIANA
    Oh, Papa!

    She gives him a hug, and they both cry.

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 4:37 pm

      A love the idea of a retelling of Cinderella in modern times. And I love the name Caitriana. In fact, all your names are excellent. Velna! And how you’ve formated this like a play.

      Since the story is so familiar, though, consider a twist to the plot that will change it enough from the original to keep your readers guessing what will happen next.

      The way you describe grief as losing part of yourself is wonderful, too!

      They say “mija” in my town, too, btw. I live in New Mexico. 🙂

    • January 31, 2010 1:55 pm

      I love the Cinderella story so I’m excited about a retelling of it. Like Lauren I love all the names you’re using. Having lost my own mom, I judge the way grief is handled in stories (although I realize I shouldn’t since everyone grieves differently). I liked the way she described the loss of her mother as losing herself and her old life. It’s honest and true. Well done.

      I’m interested in what you’ll do with a modern twist on the fairy tale. What sorts of adventures and mishaps will Caitriana get into?

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 31, 2010 10:50 pm

      I love the idea behind this piece! An inventive take on the fairy tale, and I especially love the Spanish spin. I love this Intro, too;

      “A couple weeks after the funeral, Caitriana sits in the bay window in her room looking at the full moon and the stars. Benedicto enters and turns on the light, revealing a moderate sized room with a cushy, canopy bed, a dresser with a mirror on it, and posters of various pop artists and movie stars on the wall. She turns and faces her father with a face full of tears.”

      I can really SEE it, and I imagine that means quite a lot in a script.

      It’s really refreshing to read something in this format, Dana! Hope to see more from you!

      MZ

  17. Lily Stone permalink
    January 28, 2010 9:10 pm

    Porphyria, beautiful poem.

    *This is the beginning of a possible project that I’ve been itching to start..
    I am very amateur, so bear with me! Lol.

    The shadows of my room dance along my walls, mocking me, while I lay in my bed. I wonder how ironic it is that when we’re little, we fear so much-but when we grow older, those “childhood fears”..what? Disappear? Mine haven’t. I still feel uneasy when my arms and legs hang off my bed, still question if that noise I hear could be coming from my closet. I wonder why it is, then, that most adults pretend not to be afraid? Don’t they realize that then, the bitterness sweeps over? Why do we as humans think it necessary to be in constant control? As if that’s even possible. Cleary, as you’ll later learn from my story, that’s not true. What liars we all really are to ourselves.
    Restless and grown tired of my book; I rise and go to the old desk in the corner of the room. In my mirror I see a ghost looking back at me. Most say I’m beautiful. That I could model. That I have the face of angel. That one day, I’ll break every boy’s heart. Well, that day has yet to come. Until then, I’m left with my porcelain skin and two rosy cheeks, met with a straight nose that slopes to two plump lips. Large, brown eyes dart to and fro, and my eyebrows..Oh, my eyebrows. One is pointy in all the right places, which sometimes makes me appear elegant, sophisticated. Then we meet my other brow, curvy like a circle. I let down my dark hair, which is in ringlets at the moment, and admire the wild look I’ve achieved by letting it dry on its own. The old Scarlett would’ve dried it immediately, and straightened it or curled it. Then again, the old Scarlett wouldn’t be in this state, either. Fuck.
    With a sigh I return to my bed, my mind spiraling downwards in a state of sheer frenzy. I reach down under my mattress; feel my heart beat slower, and smile when my fingers brush my best friend, my razor.

    • January 29, 2010 3:05 am

      I can really envision the character that you have created, as if she’s stepped out into the real world. I especially like the “childhood fears” part, because I still fear silly things from when I was a child and I know that they’re not something I will grow out of anytime soon. 🙂

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 4:29 pm

      I love the idea that bitterness comes from pretending you’re not afraid. And the part with the asymmetrical eyebrows made me laugh. Although the overall tone of the piece is serious. This touch of humor, and the bit where she is pleased about her wild hair is an excellent foil to your final dark line. Yikes!

      Is this the very beginning? If so, you may consider adding a little action to break up her musinsg. Maybe she hears a loud thump and goes to investigate?

      A total off the cuff suggestion, so don’t feel you need to take it.

      Great story!

      • January 29, 2010 7:08 pm

        Wow. The way you write is just… wow. I really wasnt expecting that ending either! Wow, its really great.

    • January 31, 2010 1:50 pm

      Ha! I still don’t like to have hands or feet dangling off my bed and I’m definitely in the adult category. 🙂

      Your descriptions of the narrator are great. I get a nice image of her. I thought this was going in one direction, but the last line took a very different turn.

      Interested? Yes I am!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 31, 2010 10:46 pm

      I really love this kind of in-their-head narrative, Lily. I feel like I’m RIGHT THERE.

      No, that’s not quite it. I feel like I AM your MC, and I somehow intimately understand what she’s feeling. Especially in this part;

      “I wonder how ironic it is that when we’re little, we fear so much-but when we grow older, those “childhood fears”..what? Disappear? Mine haven’t.”

      Really lovely. SO glad you shared and I rally hope you come back!

      MZ

  18. January 28, 2010 8:29 pm

    @CatherineHaines

    Wow that was a powerful 300 words! I love the conversation between these two.

  19. January 28, 2010 8:26 pm

    This is another snippet from my NaNo09 piece. I’ve already submitted two – the start of the prologue with a dying Sorcha and then Nathan in the grey cemetery – and so here is piece #3. It’s a faerie story set in Victorian times.

    ———–

    “You know what I think you should do about this, brother?” Dubhán asked. Trouble, and his love of it, gleamed there in the dark depths of his eyes. “I think you should take inspiration from the old days. Before the humans started forgetting about us, forgetting what they owed us. Before we were born.”

    They both looked like young men – impossibly beautiful young men, but still just young men – of four-and-twenty or five-and-twenty, but this was truly a case of appearances being deceiving. And yet not. Both faeries were over a hundred years old, older than any human, but in the world of ageless fae they were not much older than the girl sleeping inside the house, completely unaware of the supernatural situation right below her window.

    And that suited Ciar just fine.

    Dubhán made a gesture with his hands, and out of the darkness appeared a small, shining girl. She was only a few inches high – or rather, long, as she lay on her side, as if asleep. There was very little adornment on the illusion. The features of the face were woefully generic, but it was clear who it was supposed to be.

    “If you appear to her, she will not deny you. Call her to the dance and she will be yours forever. She will be helpless to escape.”

    A second figure appeared in the small-scale illusion, this one wreathed in shadows and smoke, a stark contrast to the shining girl. He crept across the scene, as if the air below him were solid crowd, and stooped to kiss the sleeping girl. She sat up and reached for him but he retreated, beckoning her to follow.

    “And what if she refuses to come?”

    A cruel smile twisted Dubhán’s beautiful features. “Well then. You’ll just have to be very convincing.”

    • January 28, 2010 9:23 pm

      Loved this! And you know what, it reminds me of the Vampire Diaries, it looks like a talk between Damon (who, here, would be Dubhán) and Stefan (Ciar, maybe?), about Elena (sleeping girl).
      Anyway, loved the dialogue. I’d love to read more!

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 10:07 am

      “Trouble, and his love of it, gleamed there in the dark depths of his eyes.” Fabulous line! This makes him both appealing and dangerous in just a few words. I enjoyed the illusion, also. And how you see Dubhan’s less attractive side at the end. Great job!

    • January 30, 2010 5:20 pm

      Wow! I absolutely love this. I want to read more. No. I need to read more. Your writing is clean and wonderful. Good luck to you because on this piece alone, I know you’ll be published one day! 😉

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 31, 2010 10:44 pm

      Jesus, Catherine. You are talented. Your work has the perfect balance of lyrical beauty and reserve. You give us JUST ENOUGH to appreciate it, leaving us wanting a little more without going too far.

      Brilliant. I’d put money that we’re going to see a book with your name on it in a bookshelf inside of three years.

      MZ

  20. Rhia permalink
    January 28, 2010 6:22 pm

    I’m not sure how much reading of everyone else’s I’ll get to tonight (I’ll backtrack, I swear! And I’m get SOME read tonight.) but I really wanted to share something. This is my first time, even though I’ve been meaning to post since it started. (Unless I did post and forgot about it. Terrible memory sometimes.)

    Anyway, this is the preface to the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 09. I pretty much hate the rest of the story right now, but I still kind of like this bit.

    The night was dark and filled with rain, clouds obscuring the moon. As the light from her candle flickered in the howling wind, a woman hunched over a letter, her quill scratching furiously over her parchment. She quickly sealed the letter into an envelope, and gave it to the man waiting beside her to deliver. She paused for a moment, composing herself, willing away her angry and frightened emotions.

    Standing up from her chair, she straightened her skirt, and left the small, relatively quiet tent she was encamped in to the chilly night air of her traveling home.

    “Welcome!” she cried out to the crowd of people gathered in front of her, “to the Carnival Illure!”

    • January 28, 2010 10:42 pm

      Nice extract! I can definitely feel the emotions going on here. What did she just write to make her so upset? I’d also love to know more about this Carnival! What does she do there, what’s her job?
      You got me with this 😉

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 12:55 am

      You have a lot going on in a short scene. I like that the setting is a tent. So unusual. And you give a sense of urgency to your character’s writing with the scratching, and the howling, and the man waiting by to take it from her. Nice sensory details. And I was totally surprised by the last line, and wanting to know more. Bravo!

      • January 29, 2010 7:04 pm

        You write really well, with really great visuals 🙂

    • January 30, 2010 12:11 pm

      Standout lines for me: “her quill scratching furiously over her parchment.” I can hear the quill scratching on the parchment.
      “willing away her angry and frightened emotions.”

      In such a short space you’ve sparked a lot of interest and questions. Who is this woman? What is so important that she’s writing so quickly? What is she writing? To whom? Who is she? And what’s happening at the Carnival Illure?

      🙂

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 30, 2010 5:53 pm

      So glad you decided to share, Rhia!

      I really like the darkness in this. It has a brooding, Gothic undertone, and I LOVE all things Gothic. It also has a classic, high-fantasy feel. Very timeless.

      I especially love the atmosphere in this piece;

      The night was dark and filled with rain, clouds obscuring the moon. As the light from her candle flickered in the howling wind, a woman hunched over a letter, her quill scratching furiously over her parchment.

      I’m immediately carried to this place, and I feel this woman’s URGENCY through the page.

      Wonderful job, hon! Hope you come back to share again!

      MZ

  21. January 28, 2010 5:59 pm

    Poem written on 2-11-08

    Untitled

    You’ve wasted the best of me
    With remorse hiding no where.
    Something felt so real,
    Brushing against me–
    For that fleeting moment.
    What am I do to?
    I have no strength, no bravery–
    I will stay put, until all
    Hope abandons me again.
    The darkness will eat me alive,
    And I will never become–
    The angel with black wings.

    All comments are appreciated. : )

    • Rhia permalink
      January 28, 2010 6:37 pm

      Nice. 🙂

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 12:51 am

      You start this with such mystery, “You’ve wasted the best of me.” What a great line! Maybe you can echo this later in the poem? I love the image of darkness eating you alive. Creepish! And how you foreshadow the angels wings by using the word “brush” earlier. Very nice.

    • January 30, 2010 12:06 pm

      Really like these lines: “Hope abandons me again./The darkness will eat me alive,”
      The darkness will eat me alive….What a brilliant image! I love that.

      I’m horrible when it comes to critiquing poetry. I either like something or I don’t. And I like this. 🙂

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 30, 2010 5:50 pm

      Porphyria… I love your poetry. It always moves me.

      I especially love this;

      “Something felt so real,
      Brushing against me–”

      You give physical movement to something intangible. Lovely.

      In that same piece, the “something” detracts a bit from the power of the passage. If you can find another word to describe what that something is, I think this part will have even more impact than it already does.

      Adore it!

      MZ

  22. January 28, 2010 5:10 pm

    Same story as always (the one about the religious cult). Any feedback, including constructive criticism, will be greatly appreciated! And thanks to Lauren for participating this week! It’s so exciting that other authors are getting involved in this. 🙂
    –Erin

    ~~~

    Elizabeth took a deep breath, getting up the courage to share the news that she knew had to come out into the open. It was now or never. “I got accepted into Drighton.”

    Mom barely blinked an eye before turning and facing Elizabeth with a concerned look on her face. “Do you think that’s the best idea?”

    “Yes, I do. I can be closer to Jacqueline and closer to the Children of the Rose.”

    “Again, do you think that’s the best idea?” Elizabeth squared her shoulders, but didn’t answer her mother. The tense silence continued for a few seconds, before her mother added, “Your hair is out of hand. Why don’t you get it cut?”

    “I’m not getting my hair cut. Pastor Simon says God told him that women should revert to the ways of dress that existed during the Biblical times. That means wearing modest clothes, showing little skin, covering our heads, and keeping our hair long.” Elizabeth sat down in the chair and took the bread off the top of the sandwich, looking inside. She found a couple slices of bologna and a piece of cheddar cheese staring back at her. “I can’t eat this,” she said simply, putting the bread back on the sandwich.

    “Why not? You love bologna and cheese sandwiches. You have since you were five. What’s wrong with it?” Mom asked.

    “It’s bologna and cheese,” Elizabeth said, staring directly into the eyes of her mother. “Like all the other Roses, I’m a vegan. Bologna and cheese both come from animals. I can’t eat it.”

    “Jesus, Liz, just break the stupid rules!” Evalynne cried.

    Elizabeth shot a glare at her sister and said sternly, “I can’t break the rules. That would be sinning. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to go to Heaven, thanks.” She looked with disgust at the sandwich and stormed out of the room. “I’m not hungry,” she called back.

    • Rhia permalink
      January 28, 2010 6:37 pm

      Hmmm… I don’t think I like Elizabeth as a person, but your story seems to be very easily related to. Very realistic.

    • January 28, 2010 10:24 pm

      When you start saying:
      ‘Mom barely blinked an eye before turning…’, this tells me that the narrator’s talking about its mother, but then when you change to: ‘Elizabeth squared her shoulders, but didn’t answer her mother.’ it feels like it’s not the narrator’s mother anymore.
      I don’t know if the narrator’s talking about its mother, or if she’s just Elisabeth’s.

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 12:46 am

      Interesting premise! I am a big fan of the “unlikable” character, or the main character who makes bad choices. Because it lets you explore an issue from an entirely new angle. One way to keep your audience interested in an “unsympathetic” character is to make them likable in some other area. I do this with Roz, in My Invented Life. She can be self-centered, and obnoxious, but many readers relate to the sadness she feels when her sister shuts her out. And her overall enthusiastic approach to life.

      I was a tiny bit confused about who was saying what. This can be easily remedied with a few strategically place “she said”s.

      Consider placing some of the dialog out of the quotes, so Elizabeth thinks some things without saying them aloud.
      eg “Pastor Simon says God told him that women should revert to the ways of dress that existed during the Biblical times.” That means wearing modest clothes, showing little skin, covering our heads, and keeping our hair long.

      I hope that wasn’t too much feedback. Overall, I’m intrigued!

    • January 30, 2010 12:04 pm

      Who’s Jacqueline? That’s what I thought immediately. I’m so curious how Elizabeth got involved with the Children of the Rose.
      I’m enjoying the snippets you’ve submitted over the last few weeks. You write very well and are able to pull the reader in quickly. Well done!

      • January 30, 2010 3:36 pm

        Thanks everyone for the comments! 🙂

        Danielle–Yeah…I should probably stop jumping around my manuscript like that. haha I keep on finding snipets from different parts of the novel and posting them instead of sharing in a more chronological order.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 30, 2010 5:46 pm

      I’m LOVING this story, Erin. It has a great concept, and I’m already kind of freaked out about the Children of the Rose (perfect name!) thing. This interaction between Elizabeth and her mom feels really authentic. The dialogue is realistic, too, which is a big deal for me in reading YA. I’m actually feeling ALARMED while reading this, which is a very, very good thing.

      My suggestion is for the following paragraph;

      Elizabeth took a deep breath, getting up the courage to share the news that she knew had to come out into the open. It was now or never. “I got accepted into Drighton.”

      As soon as I read, “Elizabeth took a deep breath,” I KNOW she’s feeling anxious. THAT is good writing. You’ve SHOWN the reader what’s going on and how your MC is feeling with very few words. Then, in the next line, you take away from that feeling by extrapolating. Trust your writing to speak for itself and your reader to FEEL what your showing them.

      All you need is this.

      Elizabeth took a deep breath. It was now or never. “I got accepted into Drighton.”

      Really loving this, Erin! Keep coming back, Sweets!

      MZ

  23. Bantiarna permalink
    January 28, 2010 5:00 pm

    “my invented life” seems to be a book I should read. well after finishing all the books on my desk that want to be read of course. Thanks to Michelle that you do this and to Lauren that you are willing to read and comment.
    After I decided last friday that I should post an excerpt out of one of my stories here I managed to choose an exerpt. This is the beginning of a story called “Memories”. The name doesn’ match very well until now but I have no better name so you just have to take it like this. I would be happy about constructive criticism and please don’t be so harsh with grammar and spelling mistakes as I’m no native speaker but I’m trying to improve my english all the time.

    White flashing light, pain and then darkness, painless darkness, eternal darkness.
    I opened my eyes, trying to escape the dream, to see the light again. I couldn’t. There was no light, there weren’t even any people. There were just sounds. Somewhere beside me there was a static beeping and there were voices where I believed to be my feet. I could even hear some birds or was it just a flute ensemble? Maybe all those sounds were just part of the dream? What else it could be other than a dream? Not reality. If it was real I would be able to see, to look around and to find out where I was. I tried to move, perhaps it was that what would end this dream. The voices at the bottom of my bed (or whatever it was I laid in) changed, they now had a surprised undertone. There was the sounds of steps coming closer and then a voice speaking, a trained soprano’s voice recognized the part of my mind that was responsible for…well for what? I was no musician and I only had a very faint idea what the difference between a soprano and someone else was.
    “Are you awake, Miss? How do you feel?”
    What kind of question was that? I was captive in a nightmare! How should I feel? Again I tried to wake up but nothing changed. I still felt the body warmth of someone and still I couldn’t see. Slowly I realized that this was real. This was no dream, no dream could be as real as this.

    Thanks for reading (and hopefully commenting)

    • January 28, 2010 10:19 pm

      I like this, I actually wrote a short story similar to it.
      The only thing I’ve got to say is, that I’d change:

      ‘I opened my eyes, trying to escape the dream, to see the light again.’

      to:

      ‘Trying to escape the dream, I opened my eyes to see the light again.’

      To me, it just sounds better this way, more fluid. Just a thought. 🙂

      and:

      ‘I still felt the body warmth of someone and still I couldn’t see. ‘

      to:

      ‘I still felt the body warmth of someone whom I couldn’t see.’

      You don’t want to repeat words (still) in the same sentence, when you can put another with similar meaning.

      • Bantiarna permalink
        January 29, 2010 4:58 am

        you’re right. The sentences sound better if written like that. Thanks.

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 29, 2010 12:29 am

      This premise is truly terrifying… to be awake and yet unable to see or move! I like the stream of consciousness in the first line to evoke the dreaminess. And your use of music is intriguing.

      When you say static beeping, I imagine a hospital bed. But then she hears a flute ensemble and birds, perhaps. This adds a touch of beauty and mystery. Nicely done!

    • January 30, 2010 11:56 am

      Scary idea waking up and not knowing what’s going on. I like the line: “I was captive in a nightmare.”
      Your use of music in this piece is nicely done! Thanks for sharing.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 30, 2010 5:37 pm

      I’m so glad you decided to participate, hon! I think your English is marvelous. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to write in language other than my own.

      I really enjoyed reading this! It has a stream-of-consciousness feel that works very well here. It allows the reader to really be in the MCs head, feeling her confusion and terror.

      Great job! I hope you come back – I’d love to see more!

      MZ

  24. January 28, 2010 4:49 pm

    Yay, another author! I have both POTS & My Invented Life on my shelf. I really gotta get a jump on those. Anyway, here’s more of my WIP ..

    I picked up the phone. Thinking it was one of our distant relatives calling to wish us a Merry Christmas, I answered.

    “Hello?”

    “Is this .. is that you, Polly?” a scratchy voice whispered. My stomach plunged.

    “Why are you calling?” I demanded angrily.

    “It’s Christmas. I’m not allowed to call my family on Christmas?”

    “No,” I spat. I was already venomous and angry, and my lips were fueled with the ammunition of hurtful words and bitter insults. But before I had the chance to voice them, the phone was snatched out of my hand.

    “Craig?” Mom asked. I gasped at the bare hopefulness in her voice.

    “Mom, hang up the phone. This is supposed to be a happy day,” I snapped. I didn’t bother lowering my voice. I intended for him to hear it. Mom narrowed her eyes at me and I immediately shrunk back.

    Her scowl was vicious and downright scary.

    “I’m glad you called,” Mom murmured softly. My head spun dizzily as I watched her facial features soften at the sound of his voice. After a few seconds, she glanced over at me, her eyes hardening at the mere sight of me.

    What was happening?

    Was she really picking him over me?

    “Mom,” I pleaded, wrapping my fingers delicately around her wrist. My head was pounding and I just wanted to grab a mug of hot chocolate and curl up next to her like we always did. I just wanted her to choose me. “Please.”

    Her glare intensified. My heart dropped to my knees.

    Her choice was made.

    • Bantiarna permalink
      January 28, 2010 5:07 pm

      I really like how you write. Especially Polly’s thoughts. The way you write them down it lets Polly seem very fragile, very unsure of herself. Almost as if she never experienced how it is to be really loved, to be sure that you are loved whatever happens, whatever you do.
      Oh and this last sentence of your excerpt. It’s great!

    • January 28, 2010 5:18 pm

      Wonderful! I can really feel the tension and conflict in this scene. I really feel for your protagonist as she’s hoping that her mother will choose her. And I think the dialogue that we witness is very believable. I can really see this whole scene playing out before my eyes. Keep up the good work!

    • January 28, 2010 5:19 pm

      Katie-
      Thanks for sharing more of your WIP. You’ve definitely have me interested in what’s going on. Why is the mom choosing the hubby over the daughter when we know that he’s a killer? What’s been going on? Does she not believe Polly? Very interesting. =-)

      Great lines: “I was already venomous and angry, and my lips were fueled with the ammunition of hurtful words and bitter insults.”

      “I just wanted her to choose me.” <–Love the innocence and sadness in this line.

      This part is kind of unclear to me.
      "I picked up the phone. Thinking it was one of our distant relatives calling to wish us a Merry Christmas, I answered."

      Perhaps: I answered the phone thinking it was one of our distant relative calling to wish us a Merry Christmas."

      Danielle

    • January 28, 2010 6:01 pm

      Wow, I love this. I haven’t really been reading any of the prose but mostly focusing on the poetry thus far. I really like your style of writing and am excited to read more. If it isn’t too much to ask, is this inspired by a personal or friends experience?

    • January 28, 2010 9:33 pm

      Agree with the above – you can really feel the tension and the emotions in this scene. And it’s a really good end, strong and definitely lets us know what’s going on in a few words.

    • January 28, 2010 10:10 pm

      I can totally imagine this scene in my mind, both of this characters’ expressions. Nice work!

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 28, 2010 11:38 pm

      More dialog, yay! I didn’t realize who was calling until I read the other comments. Yikes!

      I especially enjoyed the metaphor you used for her explosive anger, “my lips were fueled with the ammunition of hurtful words and bitter insults.” Very appropriate!

      And your dialog demonstrates how POV really affects a scene. It seems that Polly’s mom is being really insensitive. But Polly’s reaction shows such a deep sense of betrayal, I wonder if more is going on. Why would a mom be so seemingly callous?

      This intrigues me.

      • January 29, 2010 6:57 pm

        The way you write is awesome! Polly seems so full of anger and grown up, but then she sounds so… innocent and fragile. I would really love to read more.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 30, 2010 5:34 pm

      I like the voice in this. It’s very direct and serves this piece well. You’ve done a good job making me feel the rawness of Polly’s emotion, and I can really sense her desperation and sadness at the end.

      Nice job, hon!

      MZ

  25. January 28, 2010 4:47 pm

    Hi! This is from the same story I’ve submitted pieces from previous two weeks. Any feedback would be fabulous! Thank you as always, Michelle! Thanks Lauren for participating this week. I look forward to reading your comments!
    Sorry for the formatting.
    ~danielle~

    “Stay back, young man,” he says, from behind the screen door.
    “I’m not here for you today, sir. You still have time. I just want to talk to you,” I say. This isn’t going as well as I hoped. Maybe this was a bad idea.
    “Just talk?” He asks, staring at me with his light green eyes.
    I sense that he’s scared of me, but also intrigued. It’s not every day you meet Death and he only wants to chat. I suppose that’s a new thing. It’s a new thing for me. I don’t normally go around warning people of their impending doom. I believe that’s a major rule breaker.
    “Yes, sir. Just talk.”
    I approach the porch and take the first step up. He cautiously watches me through the screen door. I’m curious why he doesn’t slam the front door in my face.
    “You can’t step foot in here if I don’t invite you, son,” Mr. Williamson says.
    “Mr. Williamson, I’m Death, not a vampire. I can go anywhere I please,” I say. “But I would prefer to be invited inside.”
    “Hank, who are you talking to?”
    “No one, Cora,” he answers.
    “I’m hardly no one, Mr. Williamson.”
    “She can’t see you, right? It’s not her you want so she can’t see you.”
    “She can just like you can. She won’t know I’m Death unless one of us tells her,” I explain. I’m not entirely sure of the rules myself, but I’m pretty certain people don’t know that Death walks with them unless it’s nearing their time. Most people don’t sense my presence until it’s too late and I’m already there reaching for them. Hank is different.
    “Well, I’m certainly not going to tell her that Death is standing on the porch,” he scoffs. He’s warming up to me. I can be charming. I think.

    • January 28, 2010 4:56 pm

      Okay, so we had a discussion about this right, and I said I may love death for this one very line “Mr Williamson, I’m Death, not a vampire, I can go anywhere I please” it just oozes snarky goodness and makes my heart warm for Death, even relate to him. I think this may be my favourite line, in fact it is. I am in love with this line and want to marry it and make lots of snarky good line babies. Bravo, I love this, your writing never fails to inspire me and suck me in. I love you dude!

    • Bantiarna permalink
      January 28, 2010 5:14 pm

      “I can be charming. I think.” I really love that one (or two).
      and I love the “Mr Williamson, I’m Death, not a vampire, I can go anywhere I please” too. I don’t want to marry it like Carla but it’s still nice. Like one of those guys that look really good and are charming but you never would like to marry because you are sure they can’t be as perfect as that all the time and would surely turn into a monster after marriage xD
      Go on like this.

    • January 28, 2010 5:16 pm

      This is a great little slice of dialogue. I can really feel the tension between these two characters and what I read as slight frustration on Death’s part that this conversation isn’t going easier. Also, I really liked the little things that added a bit of humor to the situation, like this:

      “Well, I’m certainly not going to tell her that Death is standing on the porch.”

      Not going to lie…I snickered to myself a little bit when I read that. Good job!

    • Rhia permalink
      January 28, 2010 6:31 pm

      I really like this! I want to read more of it, I guess I need to go find the posts…

    • January 28, 2010 9:30 pm

      I pretty much agree with the rest here. Love the dialogue. Nice job!

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 28, 2010 11:29 pm

      Writing dialog is one of my favorite activities! And reading it, too! There’s so much to love here. I agree with the others that your line, “Mr. Williamson, I’m Death, not a vampire. I can go anywhere I please,” is brilliant. Fun snarkiness. But I also like you you soften it with, “But I would prefer to be invited inside.” Because that line gives Death depth. He can do what he wants, but he wants to be liked by humans, too.

      I also like that Mr. Williamson is intrigued. Can you think of a way to show that with dialog?

      And I love how Death is breaking the rules, and doesn’t know how it will all play out. That adds a lightness to what could be a very dark situation.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 29, 2010 4:31 pm

      I really love how you’ve given something (or is it someONE) as ominous as Death a personality. It’s eerie to be inside his head, though you’ve managed to make him empathetic as well. I think making an inherently UNsympathetic character somehow sympathetic is one of the biggest challenges in creating truly multi-dimensional characters, but you’ve done it in very few words here.

      I have little to add, except that if you eliminate words like “believe” in the following sentence, you’ll find that it has more impact. Even if you changed it to;

      “That has to be a major rule breaker.”

      It suddenly has more “oomph”. Can you see it?

      But I’m LOVING where you’re going with this concept and character, Danielle. I’m really very intrigued.

      MZ

      • January 29, 2010 6:53 pm

        Wow. Your writing is amazing! i love the characters, especially Death!

    • deetee76 permalink
      January 30, 2010 6:27 pm

      Thanks everyone for reading my piece and commenting. It’s much appreciated!

      Danielle

    • January 30, 2010 6:29 pm

      Thanks everyone for reading and commenting on my writing. I greatly appreciate all the feedback!
      🙂

  26. January 28, 2010 4:35 pm

    I just want to apologise, because I always seem to be the first one here, I swear, i’m not stalking this post or anything!! hee 🙂 Okay, my invented life looks ace and the cover is lush, so thanks again Michelle for having Lauren on too, you both rock!!

    Okay, this is from the same story as last week, the same characters, but at a different point in the novel:

    I dreamt of Finn that night, my damaged heart taking me to the only place it wanted to be. We were stood in my front garden, holding hands under a starless sky. The moon beamed down on us like a spotlight, illuminating my small garden. A soft breeze stirred my hair, each strand kissing my cheeks like a lover. I could feel the dewy damp of the grass between my toes. The feel of his skin on mine. I looked at our hands, my breath hitched in my throat, pure bliss sung in my veins.

    Neither of us spoke. We lay down on the grass, our body’s like liquid; graceful and sure. We watched the night sky turn slowly to dawn; faint pink bleeding into the sky. I thought about what it would be like to really touch Jamie, run my hands through his hair, kiss the freckles on his nose, lick his lips. Things I didn’t allow myself to think about when I was awake. I sometimes wondered if I had forgotten what touching someone really felt like and what I felt in my dreams was a weak echo of what it is truly like. That’s what scared me the most.

    Thanks!! 🙂

    • January 28, 2010 4:50 pm

      Oh my gosh, you write so beautifully. That was so romantic! *gushes*

    • January 28, 2010 4:56 pm

      I think we are stalkers to this here blog, my friend.

      Nicely done as always, mon pip! 😉 I love your visuals. Favorite lines: “A soft breeze stirred my hair, each strand kissing my cheeks like a lover. I could feel the dewy damp of the grass between my toes.” “We lay down on the grass, our body’s like liquid; graceful and sure.”

      “We were stood”…. change to “We were standing” or “Standing”

      Hm.. Finn’s name changed to Jamie in the last paragraph.

      And hey! Why didn’t I see this earlier this week? Huh? Huh? 😉

      • January 28, 2010 4:58 pm

        dude, this is why I should’ve sent it to you first…….who is Jamie, I have no clue where that’s come from?! and kudos to the “standing” thing, I totally agree…..this is what you get writing scenes after 10 hours in work on 4 hours sleep :-p

    • January 28, 2010 5:12 pm

      I know I say this every week, but it’s true every week…your descriptions are so amazing! Your writing style is so beautiful. This excerpt was wonderful and I greatly enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    • Rhia permalink
      January 28, 2010 6:26 pm

      That is very beautiful.

    • laurenbjorkman permalink
      January 28, 2010 11:17 pm

      The first word that came into my mind when I read? Evocative. Your sensory details are beautiful and subtle. I can feel the coolness of the dewy grass between my toes, the moonlight caressing my skin, and the delicious proximity of the love of my life.

      My favorite line is this one: A soft breeze stirred my hair, each strand kissing my cheeks like a lover.

      Nicely done!

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 29, 2010 4:24 pm

      Wow, Carla… This is very romantic and then, at the end, you manage to weave a bit of melancholy into it.

      Especially love this part;

      “I sometimes wondered if I had forgotten what touching someone really felt like and what I felt in my dreams was a weak echo of what it is truly like. That’s what scared me the most.”

      It’s so REAL. I feel like I’m inside the innermost thoughts of a real person.

      VERY nicely done, hon!

      MZ

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