WEDNESDAY’S WORDS

Truth be told, these are Tuesday’s words, but I adore applying alliteration abundantly.

This is from a 10 minute timed writing and is a little insight into the short story I’m working on, which I was just recently informed I will have to read in front of an audience. What?! Wish I’d known that before I started. Reading in front of my writing group is one thing, but reading my stuff in front of strangers? Eeehh…I don’t know about all that. I suppose it’s good for me, and I’m not one to turn down a challenge easily.

I like this piece, mostly because I’m trying to figure out WHY the owner of the house is the way he is. Is he just strange? Is he creepy? Is he sinister? Is he just doing the wrong thing for the right reasons?

I just don’t know yet. But, writing stories would be boring if we always knew the outcome.

The night closed in around him as he switched off the lights. Silent, the air still and full of must, he stood in the great room, listening. And if he listened with his entire being he could hear them – a tinkle of laughter, a sharp gasp of pain, a cry as welcome as a summer day.

The house hunkered around him, patient, waiting. Pine from the banisters, the roses on the table, soon they would mix with the tang of alcohol and the sweetness of sighed breath.

This was the moment he liked best, with anticipation thrumming through his veins like a thunderstorm. They would come, like sheep to the slaughter, wide-eyed, with fears and dreams as equally dark. They were his to shape like clay molded by careful fingers.

The man sat on the marble floor and as the cold seeped into his skin, he remembered the first time, when recognition had flickered on their faces.

He always remembered the first time.

He lay back, letting the sounds of the old house settle around him. The creaks were his friends, his family, a lover. For once they came, they never truly left. There were pieces of each person scattered through the rooms like trophies of a time long forgotten. He wrapped his arms around his chest and pulled each one in, a blanket that would carry him to the possibility of morning.

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed. So tell me – were you creeped out? Curious? I just wish this dude would tell me what he’s all about. 🙂

All the best,

Kacey

Aww – you made it to the bottom of the page! You deserve a treat. Here’s a poem I wrote:

Hope is yellow

and citrus flavored

like the slant of sunshine

on a sloping roof.

It’s sweet

with a sharp surprise

of tart and sting.

It burns,

bitter flame

with a desire

to consume.

Hope is yellow

and citrus flavored.

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MONDAY MORNING FICTION

It’s Monday, which means it’s a great opportunity to post a bit of fiction. Yesterday I almost posted another humdrum entry about how I’m stuck and frustrated. This happens about once a week, it’s not news. We’re writers, we have roadblocks, we overcome them (usually).

Recently I’ve come to the realization that writing is an extremely organic process. It can’t be forced. So I’ve been taking a lot more time to write in spurts, short exercises that have no direction or purpose other than to practice. I’ll be posting these on here in hopes of helping others and sharing. Sometimes I read other people’s short tidbits of fiction and find inspiration, so maybe I can share that with my readers. Or maybe it’ll just be a mess that doesn’t mean a thing. Such is the way of writing. Take it or leave it.

It’s impossibe- sitting here like this and knowing that I’m useless, shoved to the side, hopeless. You give everything, everyday, every ounce of yourself, all for nothing. There was a time, once or twice, perhaps long ago now, where I thought I meant something. That I was bigger than myself, someone with promise and a future, life laying before me like a colorful forest just waiting to be traversed. Yes, I used to have something called faith and dreams, as bloated as sponges. I would sit and daydream, forge a future of promise as those that are young and uninformed do. They allow themselves to hope, to aspire, to strive for the things they think they can do. For if you believe it, then it must be true.

Lies are the heart of life. It starts young, the untruths, they are small, harmless, mere rocks that impede us. As we age they become boulders and then mountains. And when an entire continent blocks our path we begin to question everything we’ve been taught. Because there is no open road, no path that will lead  us through this hell. There is only loss and grief and hopelessness and fear. Fear that we will never achieve greatness, never see our names splashed like colorful paint on black canvas. For we are the rocks, the boulders, the mountain. We are the very thing that sabotages our own existance. And we flail and flail and flail with no direction or purpose. We are blind. We are lost.

We are nothing.

There it is, a look into my head this morning. Additionally, here’s a photo of my manuscript I’m editing. It’s a glorious mess. I love it.

 

All the best!

Kacey

I REMEMBER

I have a bit of fiction for you on this dreary Tuesday. This is called “I Remember” and it’s an exercise from a short story class I’m taking that’s taught by my wonderful friend Mart. We had 10 minutes to write whatever came to mind, starting with I remember. Here’s mine.

I remember summer, when the August heat was dense and smelled of watermelons. The coast was packed with tourists and those tiny shops that sell junk that breaks within fifteen minutes. The town was laid out like a patchwork quilt, and from the highway the beach beckoned like a colorful flag, promising sun and sand and romance. 

And that’s exactly why I was at home, with the air-conditioning cranked and the windows locked up tight. If anyone asked—which they didn’t—I told them I was allergic to the sun. It was like a massacre on my delicate skin. Usually they’d call once or twice after that, then the blissful silence would come.

Don’t think that I’m a recluse—that’s far from the truth. I liked to consider myself two-steps-away antisocial. That is, if you stay two steps away from people and don’t make eye contact, they generally leave you alone.

Of course, I have no idea what any of that means, but there it is!

All the best,

Kacey

YOUR VERY FIRST SENTENCE

Today I’m looking into great one-liners, and no, I don’t mean pick-up lines, I mean the first sentence of your manuscript. What if your manuscript was judged solely on your first line? (Ack! Scary, right?) Would you make the grade? What works? What doesn’t? I’m sure there’s tons of great advice out there on how to compose a great first sentence. Much like the opening line of your query letter, it needs to be eye-catching and showcase your style. So as research, I hauled a whole bunch of YA books off my shelf for some good old investigation. Later, (after a few drinks,) I’m going to open up all of my manuscripts and give you the first lines. Then I’ll judge myself as well. And I heard somewhere that you’re your own worst critic, so we’ll see if I survive!

**I’d just like to point out that all of these books are young adult. I think that’s important.

On the top of the pile we have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. (Fantasy)

               “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

I love this first line and not just because I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series. I think it’s very sarcastic and captures your attention right away. Why, what do you mean they’re perfectly normal? What is “perfectly normal,” after all? Well played, Ms. Rowling. Grade: A+

Tithe by Holly Black (Fantasy)

               “Kaye took another drag on her cigarette and dropped it into her mother’s beer bottle.”

The first time I read this book, I was expecting typical YA, something meek and mild that skirts around major issues that teenagers face, but that first line really says it all. Kaye is smoking, her mother is drinking. This first line shows me the grittiness that follows in Tithe. I also think it shows the absolute nonchalance to the awful lifestyle she leads with her mother. Grade: I give it an A.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (Steampunk)

               “Finn had been flung on his face and chained to the stone slabs of the transitway.”

This one is a bit trickier. For one, it follows the typical Steampunk verbiage in that it uses way too many words. It doesn’t really give me any sort of emotion since I don’t really know who Finn is yet, though I am curious as to why he’s chained on the transitway (not that I know what a transitway is). It’s not my favorite first line. Grade: B-

The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Sci-fi)

               “The Healer’s name was Fords Deep Waters.”

I remember reading that first line and thinking “What the hell kind of name is that? What the hell, Stephenie, where’s Edward?” But…on closer inspection, it’s a great way to show the sci-fi nature of the book. How many people do you know that go by a name like Fords Deep Waters? I’m guessing none. All in all, it’s a success in setting up the book. Grade: A

Flip by Martyn Bedford (Sci-fi/fantasy)

               “Alex couldn’t have said what woke him in that morning.”

This is a terrible first line to what is otherwise a very good book (that I really enjoyed). This gives me nothing. It doesn’t have emotion, it doesn’t hint at the general voice of the book. Nothing. Blah. Don’t do it. Grade: D (And that’s generous.)

Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast (Fantasy)

               “Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.”

Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. Suddenly I’m having a bad day and there’s a dead guy at my locker. Wait, what? Dead guy? I’m so in. Plus Zoey talks like this the entire book, so it leads right in to her bubbly voice. Grade: A+

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Fantasy)

               “I walked into biology and my jaw fell open.”

This is a ho-hum sentence. All I can think is I don’t care!! Where Ms. Fitzpatrick finds her gusto is in the second sentence, which is, “Mysteriously adhered to the chalkboard was a Barbie doll, with Ken at her side.” My advice? Nix the first sentence, start with the second which is scandalous sounding and takes me right back to sex-ed. Grade: F (And only because she had that second, much improved sentence sitting right there and she didn’t use it!)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Sci-fi)

               “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

So it’s not the best first sentence ever, but it’s not the worst either. It shows us that the main character cares for someone, and that someone is not where they should be. It’s decidedly sad without even trying that hard. Grade: I give it a B.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Sci-fi/fantasy)

               “There is one mirror in my house.”

This sentence is…bland. It carries a little interest in that only having one mirror is a little strange, but not enough that I’d freak out on you. Knowing that the rest of the book is freaking amazing, I won’t judge too harshly. I would’ve like a bit more. Grade: C

Tempest by Julie Cross (Sci-fi)

               “How far back should I go?” I asked Adam.

This is another one of those indecisive sentences. It could mean like whoa! Time travel! Or it could be how far back should I look into this person’s history to support my pseudo-stalker habits? It has intrigue, for sure. Grade: I give it an B+.

Now it’s time for the real fun! The following are my first sentences. I’m actually pretty worried about this…

Antithesis by umm, me. (Sci-fi)

               “Reality flickered at the edge of my vision, bright and painfully demanding.”

I have to say, it’s just okay. Because you don’t know that “reality” is punny, it doesn’t ring out as awesome. It’s well-written, but doesn’t give any insight into the story or Gavyn’s personality. Grade: Sigh. I give myself a C.

Through the Reflection Pond also by me (Fantasy)

               “I picked up my pace as I rounded the ramshackle house and exploded into the street.”

This one is okay as well. The main character is running, which makes me think she’s either running from or to someone. I also like the use of “ramshackle,” it’s tangible kind of word that gives you a nice mental picture. Grade: B-

Stepping Stones (you’re seeing a trend. I wrote this one, too.) (Fantasy Romance)

               “Dawn broke across the sky, streaking it pink and orange as Onna pushed the engine of her G6 harder than she ever had before.”

I like and dislike this sentence with equal measure. I like the description of the sky and the impression that I get that she’s running from something. It has emotion, though I’m not quite sure what that emotion is. She’s in a hurry, but is it to or from something? Apparently it’s a running theme in my first sentences. Grade: B

Untitled (This is a project that has yet to be titled or finished, but I like the first sentence.) (Fantasy Romance)

               “Whoever decided that my life should be irrevocably changed on a Monday was a cruel person.”

This sentence has all the important ingredients. It gets us inside our main character’s head. She’s not just having a bad day, she’s having a life-changing day. And even so, it shows hints of humor in her voice. Grade: A (Yay! I finally got an A!)

NaNoWriMo (This is the project I worked on for NaNo in 2011. Also untitled and unfinished and shelved. Oh, the life of a writer.) (Fantasy)

               “I stumbled and fell hard onto my bed; it accepted me with a short, angry squeak.”

I dig personifying objects, so the second half of the sentence works for me. The first part leaves me wondering why the character fell. Was she pushed? Did she pass out drunk? Is she about to get it on? (Oh yeah, I went there, and only I know the answer.) Grade: A

Whew! I survived the massacre of my own work and came out smiling. I hope you find this entry as helpful as I did. Once you’ve made it past the first sentence, there’s still an entire manuscript to address. Each sentence is as equally important as the last, so I hope you’ll ask yourself if each and every sentence is the best it could possibly be.

After all, the first sentence of a book is like the opening line of song. If it’s good, it’ll stick with the reader long after she puts the book down. Just like when you hear “Just a small town girl…” Everyone knows exactly where we’re going and how great of a journey it’ll be. (Haha, I’m so witty.) So ask yourself, what does my first line tell about my story? Does it give emotion? Does it give mood? Does it set up my story?

So what are your favorite first lines? Do you want my grade on yours? Leave me some comments.

All the best,

Kacey

THE QUEEN OF DOING SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD

It’s Thursday!!

I’m not really excited that it’s Thursday. I swear. I’m not.

I AM excited that I’ll be promoting fellow authors coming up soon on my blog. That’s one thing I really love about the writing business, you get so much support from your peers. So be sure to watch for interviews and cover reveals, because they’re coming!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You know the REAL reason why I’m blogging? Because I’m supposed to be picking out an excerpt to read tomorrow at writing group. I am the queen of doing something else instead. Maybe when I’m done blogging, I’ll break out Through the Reflection Pond and do some skimming for something epic. Or MAYBE I’ll read something from Shade of the Poison Tree.

Herein lies the problem. I just can’t decide.

Or MAYBE I’ll read from Chase’s story. It’s only a prologue…but I like it.

I’ve come to a decision! No, no, not about that. About something else. I think I’m going to post little excerpts with all my blog posts. Everyone loves fiction, right? It’s something to look forward to, at least. Though I’ll probably have the same issue with that as I do with choosing stuff to read at club.

Story. Of. My. Life.

In other news, I think I might’ve come out of the depression for real this time. You want proof? I wrote 4,500 words in two days. That’s a DRAMATIC improvement. I’m finally enjoying writing again. That’s the important part.

Still no news on Antithesis. Hopefully soon I will have some details for you. Be patient, my pretties, you’ll be the first to know.

Now, it’s time for the excerpt portion of the show. This comes from the beginning/middle of Through the Reflection Pond.

“This isn’t fair!” I screamed it like a four-year-old, the only thing that could’ve made it worse is if I stomped my foot. To my surprise, Rowan clutched his head and groaned. He doubled over, fingers grasping fistfuls of hair. A guttural sound erupted from his throat, something that I hoped to never hear again; it was that terrifying.
“Rowan?” Everything around me snapped into sharp focus. I heard the grass sigh as it grew and a roar of thunder answered by a hissing crackle of lightening and the thrumming of the rain. My own heartbeat thudded in my ears, and galloping along with it, Rowan’s. Blood surged through my veins, rocketing into my fingertips. I felt powerful. And then the feeling dissipated like smoke in a breeze.
Rowan stood, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead. A thin stream of blood trickled from his nose and he lifted a shaking hand to it, surprised when it came away smeared with red.
“Rowan?” Panic seeped into my voice. He looked at me, puzzled.
“I think you just tried to give me a brain hemorrhage.”
“What?” I held my hands away from my body like they might suddenly transform into malicious creatures with minds of their own.
He pressed his palm to his forehead. “I have an unbelievable headache.”
“I didn’t…are you okay?” I reached out a tentative hand, afraid to touch him, worried that what he said was true. But my hand—it looked ordinary. The nail polish from the welcome ceremony was chipped. Pale scars from when I’d rollerbladed through a glass window dotted the back. I didn’t wear rings—I’d never been much for jewelry.
Rowan rubbed his hand on his pants. The sky opened up, rain splattering our faces. “I’ll be okay.” He strode to Sapphire’s cottage, not looking to see if I followed. I hurried after him, ducking my head against the rain.

And now, I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled program so I can do all the things I’m supposed to be doing.

All the best,

Kacey