Friday, May 31, 2013

Whip It Good Blogfest

Raise your hands if you know the song Whip It! by Devo.

Okay, raise your hands if you sang along to it when it was first released. Huh. Who wants to admit that? Yeah, my hand is still raised, sorry to say.

D.L. Hammons and Elise Fallson are hosting the WHIP IT GOOD BLOGFEST, in which participants share details about their current WIP. I was a little hesitant to sign up, since my current project is pretty far along, but D.L. encouraged me to join in and share the details, so here goes ...

WIP Title: The manuscript originally started with the title GRUNSDAY, but was renamed THE EIGHTH DAY by HarperCollins with my full support. I got to keep the term Grunsday within the story, but the new title is more dramatic, as befits a fantasy series.

Word Count: With some embarrassment, I can share that the word count of the first draft was 99k. Yikes! The word count of the current version is 62k. Yes, that IS a lot of cutting. I put on my Grim Reaper robe for that word-slashing.  Although ... you know what's funny? In my editorial revisions, I had to put back a lot of stuff that I had previously cut and take out other things. Apparently my sense of what to delete and what to keep is a little off!

Genre: MG Fantasy

How Long Have You Been Working On It: The original story idea has been bothering me for a couple years. I started the first draft in April of 2012 and a had a draft to share with my agent by September. I did a round of revisions with my agent (which involved changing the audience from YA to MG), and the manuscript sold in October of 2013 to HarperCollins in a 3 book deal. I am currently awaiting the a third round of editorial notes before the book goes into copy-editing. The second book in the series already exists in draft form, but changes will have to be made so it aligns with the revised version of Book 1.

Elevator Pitch: A boy discovers an extra 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday and a mysterious girl hiding in the house next door who exists only on that secret day.

Synopsis: When seventh grader Jax Aubrey wakes up to a world empty of people, he does what anyone would do: assumes it’s the apocalypse, ransacks the local Walmart, and fortifies his guardian’s house against zombies. When he wakes up the next morning to a normal Thursday, Jax wonders if he’s lost his mind.  But his 18 year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, also experiences Grunsday, an extra day squeezed between Wednesday and Thursday.  Jax learns that some people exist only on Grunsday, including the girl who’s been hiding in the house next door for the last 35 years -- her life skipping over seven days at a time like a stone skimming across a pond.

A mysterious girl who knows nothing of the regular world? Jax can’t think of a better way to spend his extra 24 hours than trying to befriend her.  But Evangeline is the key to a 2000 year-old spell with its roots in Arthurian legend. Jax’s guardian is her reluctant jailor, sworn to keep her out of the hands of those who would use her – and kill her if he can’t. When Jax accidentally leads a pack of human bloodhounds to their door, it comes to a terrible choice: face a real apocalypse or sacrifice Evangeline.

Are You Looking for a CP or Beta Reader: No, not for this project. But I love, love, LOVE giving feedback to others. See the sidebar for information about First Impressions, which I do every month -- or come back next week to see it in action. And I'm also offering a 10 page manuscript critique as part of Project Middle Grade Mayhem's 700 Follower Celebration.

This is a HOP! Follow along:


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sad Doggie, Bad Doggie

So many of you expressed your concern about my dog last week, I thought I'd give you an update. Sorcia had one small cut on her leg which almost healed on its own TWICE, but she kept gnawing at it and tearing off our bandages. When it became infected, we had to take her to the vet, which resulted in antibiotics, steroids, antiseptics, and the Cone of Shame.


Yes, she does look sad and dejected, doesn't she? But the fact is, she's going to have to stay in that stupid thing until the fur grows back, because every time we take it off, she slinks out of our sight and starts gnawing on her leg again.

Once, when we took it off so she could eat her dinner, we took our eyes off her for just a minute, and she re-opened the wound. Now, a member of the family is assigned to WATCH her eat and stick the cone back on immediately.

She already answers to "Sorcia" and "The Dog" and "Beetlejuice" (long story, don't ask). Now she also answers to her new nickname, "Cone Head."

In other news, I was very thankful and appreciative to the staff at the Exton, PA Barnes and Noble for helping me launch THE CAGED GRAVES -- and very grateful for all the friends, family, and co-workers who came out to support me!



I also was very excited when Huffington Post Books posted my article on caged graves, the Fox sisters, and several other creepy mysteries. If you haven't already seen it, I'd love it if you could "like" the article or pass it along!

I'll be back on Friday, participating in the WHIP IT GOOD BLOGFEST, hosted by D.L. Hammons and Elise Fallson. (Yes, I remember the song. Yes, I am that old.)

And you know what? By the time you read that Blogfest post, I'll STILL have a week and a half left of school. (sob, sob, sob)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Launch Week in Recap

So last week was the “launch week” for THE CAGED GRAVES, although the launch party itself only happened last night. (And I’m writing this on Saturday, so I can’t see into the future to tell you how it went.) But this was what happened last week:

MONDAY:

I had editorial revisions due to HarperCollins, but no sweat on that. I had already sent them in on Sunday night. I was more worried about the bridal shower we were throwing for my co-worker after school. I don’t think we fooled her. She saw through our ploy for getting her out of the way while we set up, and she told me afterwards that I didn’t look her in the eye or speak to her all day. But she was happy and excited anyway, and she loved the money tree we made for her honeymoon fund.

TUESDAY:

Release day for THE CAGED GRAVES, which I celebrated by … going to work, just like any other day. Really, Tuesday was ridiculously normal, except for the dozens of congratulatory Tweets that lit up my phone all day. Thanks, everyone!

Oh -- and there was also an astonishing sight at recess duty: something that looked like a rainbow ring around the sun. After one of my co-workers googled it on his phone and assured us it was NOT a sign of the apocalypse, kids and teachers all enjoyed the beauty of it.

Phew. It would stink if the world ended on my release day.


WEDNESDAY:

A special treat from HarperCollins arrived in my in-box – a sneak peek at the proposed cover for THE EIGHTH DAY. I had asked if I could share it with my class, since they have been following the development of this book from the first day of school. Both reading classes were over-the-top excited at this preview and were literally shouting over one another, trying to give me feedback for the HarperCollins design team. And the design team was thrilled by their enthusiastic response.

No, I can’t show you the cover yet. Sorry. :D

THURSDAY:

Reviews for THE CAGED GRAVES have been appearing all week on various blogs. By Thursday, some of my favorites can be found at Read My Breath Away, Books Take You Places, and MissPrint.

Sorcia goes to the vet for an infected cut that she won’t stop picking at and comes home with a battery of antibiotics, steroids, disinfectants, and the Cone of Shame.

FRIDAY:

I panic right before I have to leave for work. Sorcia is listless, and I realize she can’t even get a drink of water with that stupid cone on her head. The day is supposed to be hot, and I’m afraid she’ll be dehydrated. I impose on my brother-in-law, Larry, to check on her during the day, and I go to work unhappy and miserable, wondering if I should’ve taken a sick day to stay home and watch the dog sleep. 

I feel guilty for the better part of the day, until my husband arrives home from his business trip and texts me that the dog is perfectly fine. She actually CAN drink out of the swimming pool (just like always), and he suggests that her listlessness in the morning was a big ol’ act – a sulk-fest because she didn’t like the cone. He might have been right, or maybe the steroids had perked her up in the meantime.

So, that was my glamorous week. How was yours?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gina's Review: TUNNELS


It has been awhile since my daughter Gina visited the blog to review a book. But she wrote this post for me as a Mother’s Day present, and I am thrilled to have her here today. Gina’s enthusiasm for the Tunnels series caused me to read the first book, too. I’ll share my thoughts at the end.

Gina’s Review

The series Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams follows the story of Will Burrows. His family is not quite normal. He and his father are always away digging, his mother is always glued to the TV, and his 12 year old sister runs the household.  One day after a fight with his mother, his father disappears.  The police don’t really care enough to find him, so Will takes the matter into his own hand. He soon discovers a tunnel leading to an underground world called the Colony. There is a whole city of people there, and they are controlled by the Styx. The Stxy are like the police down there, and are very strict. He and Chester are not welcome and are taken to prison. Will manages to get out, but the Styx are after him and Chester is still a prisoner.

In the other books of the series, Will descends deeper and deeper into the Earth. He and his team of friends must stop the Styx from taking over the Earth.

I would recommend this story to someone who likes a fast-paced adventure story. However, book one starts a little slow, but don’t despair, it gets better. If you get confused when the point of view changes, be aware that these books change who they are following approximately 79 times per chapter. But, overall I think this is a good series.

Gina is right. The first book starts out slow. I think I would have put it aside if Gina hadn’t encouraged me to keep going. Interestingly enough, this book breaks one of the supposed MG “rules” – no adult POV. In the first 2 chapters, over half the pages are written from an adult POV. Now, I am always very skeptical of these writing rules (no prologue, no adult POV, no adverbs …) and I can point out many successful MG books with adult POV chapters. (Septimus Heap #1 and Artemis Fowl, to start with …) So, I don’t think it’s the adult POV that makes the beginning of Tunnels slow – it’s the extensive description of places and characters that appear only briefly in the beginning of the story and end up being of small importance to the plot.

Gina is also right about the POV switches. The third person narration head-hops at a dizzying pace. There are many paragraphs that start in Will’s head and end in Chester’s head – or vice versa – which made it hard to keep the boys straight. This continues throughout the book. In one sentence, a character is called “the Styx girl” because we’re in the head of someone who doesn’t know her. In the next sentence, she is identified by name – I guess because we are in her head – and in the next sentence she is called something else in the point of view of a third character in the scene. I found this jarring.

Gina has been reading through the series non-stop and is now on the last book. “Each one ends with a cliff-hanger,” she says – which is another broken rule for MG. Will I continue reading? I’m not sure. I don’t think I would, except for one particular character whose story contained such a shocking I-didn’t-see-that-coming twist, I might have to read on just to see where that plotline is going! And then, who knows? I didn’t get hooked on the Percy Jackson series until Book 2.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Survive Killing Your Darlings

Just so you know, I wanted to find a picture
of Brutus killing Caesar, as that seemed more
appropriate, but I couldn't find a good one.
We all have to do it at some point. Maybe it’s a realization you’ve come to on your own, or something your critique partners have pointed out. Sometimes it comes as part of revisions from an industry professional, such as an agent or an editor.

It’s a favorite scene – plot thread – line of dialogue – maybe even a character. But it’s got to go for the good of the story. What do you do?

The only way to get over killing your darlings is to write new darlings. Don’t strip away elements and leave your manuscript ravished and scarred. Even if the whole purpose of cutting is to reduce word count, you still have to patch the hole. And it doesn’t have to be an ugly patch -- the kind where you slather in goop, let it dry, sand it, and paint over it.

Make it beautiful. Make it witty. Re-envision that scene or write a better line of dialogue. If you have to cut a character, take a tiny shred from that person and implant it into somebody else. Write something you love more than the thing you cut.

Earlier this week, I turned in what had to be my eighth draft of THE EIGHTH DAY. (Which is kind of fitting.) In every successive draft, I know I cut something I loved, something it was painful to let go of.

Darned if I can remember what they all were, because I love each new version better.
Maybe we need to stop talking about “killing our darlings” and refer to it as “paring back unnecessary branches and encouraging the growth of award-winning blooms.”

Now, if only I can remember that as I face some necessary bloodshed (and rebuilding) in my draft of the second book of the series ...

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's All Good, Right?


Today, I have revisions due for a manuscript, and tomorrow my second book releases (although it’s already out in some book stores as seen here). It is also the last four weeks of the school year, and somehow it has managed to become “report card” time again, when I SWEAR I just did report cards.

I’m excited about my manuscript and my book and the promise of summer vacation, but right now I notice that excitement and anxiety are very similar.

I’m having trouble sleeping, and I burst into tears rather easily.

I love, love, love the revisions I’ve made to THE EIGHTH DAY. I’ve fallen in love with this manuscript all over again, but once in awhile (aka, once a day) I have an attack of insecurity and wonder if my editor will feel the same way. I planned a book launch party for THE CAGED GRAVES, but now I’m wondering why I did, because – while I want my book to get lots of attention – I’m nervous when the spotlight falls on me. And since the third trimester of our school year was mostly composed of spring break and 3 weeks of state testing, I don’t know how I’m supposed to have enough new grades to justify a trimester grade.

As for this blog, I’m determined that the content will not change into a vehicle for self-promotion during the book launch. I want to keep blogging about the craft of writing, the journey of publication, teaching, and life. So, if I get swamped and can’t produce a post worthy of reading, I’ll just skip. Okay?

I’ll visit your blogs when I can. I’ll have more time after June 11. I hope you guys will still be out there, since I know some bloggers take a summer hiatus – just when I finally get time off work to play …

Anyway, wish me luck on all my stuff. I keep reminding myself that I’ve already done things I never thought I could do: live radio shows and an on-stage reading of my book, dressed in steampunk costume, in front of the strangest audience ever. (Walking up on stage, I actually thought I might pass out from nervousness – although it might have been the corset.) Compared to that, anything the next few weeks might hold must be a cinch.

Right?


Thursday, May 9, 2013

QUEST OF THE HART: An Interview with Mary Waibel


Mary Waibel, one of my wonderful beta read partners, is here today talking about her debut novel, QUEST OF THE HART – a reverse Sleeping Beauty tale in which a princess must rescue her sleeping prince.

1.  Can you tell us about your path to publication? 

Like many, I wrote a book, polished it up, and queried waaay to soon. Not to be deterred, I wrote another. This one I spent more time on, refined it, really researched the agents and sent it out. I had several requests for fulls, but no bites. Deep down, I knew there was something off in the story, but couldn't say what. (It's still in my pile to go back to and fix.) So, I went back to my first book and did a total rewrite. The final product is alike only in character names and the idea of a princess rescuing a prince. This time, when I queried, I included some small publishing houses in the mix. I got requests for fulls from two. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. When the offer from Muse came, I was one week away from going out on my own and self-publishing. I'd researched it a lot while waiting. Quest of the Hart released with them on April 19th, and Charmed Memories, a companion novel, will release in August.

2. What is your writing process like?

Are you a pantster, plotter, or something in between? I'm pretty much a panster. I'll have an idea or a character come to mind, and I'll spend time thinking about what I want to happen. I mull it over while I'm driving, in the shower, doing laundry (can't tell you how many great ideas I get swapping clothes from the washer to the dryer!), and as I'm drifting off to sleep. I've learned at night to think in big picture things, not specifics of dialogue, as I can't remember it, and if I'm trying to go to sleep, I don't want to jot it down in a notebook. When I've thought of enough to get somewhere in my story, I write a first draft. These are always short and bare bones on description. I spend a lot of time going back and fleshing out my scenes once I have a frame of sorts. And yes, my drafts can change so much from one to the next that it seems like a completely different story.

3. Which character in QUEST OF THE HART was most fun to write about?

Did any of them surprise you? I had the most fun writing Arabella, the villainess. I'd never written from the POV of the bad guy before, and it was fun to see where I could go with her. The two sisters, Maeryn and Deirdre, surprised me. They had a bit more backbone than I anticipated when I started out with them.

4. What part of the story challenged you the most? 

How to show Kaylee falling in love with a prince she barely knew who the reader barely gets to see, as he's under a sleep spell for most of the story.

(That IS tricky, and now I’m wondering how Mary pulled it off. She doesn’t say, and I guess there’s only one way to find out …)

5. What else would you like to tell us about QUEST OF THE HART or your next book, CHARMED MEMORIES?

Quest of the Hart is a reverse sleeping beauty, where the princess goes on the quest to save the prince. It's told from two points of view, the heroine and the villainess, and is available from MuseItUp Publishing.

Charmed Memories follows Kaylee's brother Trevor. After learning the girl he loves might be the missing princess he's to marry, Trevor vows to recover her memories and prove she belongs with him.  It will release in August from MuseItUp Publishing


Monday, May 6, 2013

First Impressions: BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL INC


We are finishing up First Impressions this month with a page from Pk Hrezo. Yay, Pk! We love
having you back! This time, she brings us a YA light sci-fi titled BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL INC.

When people hear I’m remotely homeschooled in the year 2069, two things happen: first, they pause, wait for me to say I’m joking. When that doesn’t happen, their eyes glaze over with forced courtesy and they smile, nod inwardly, cringe at their social faux pas because if I’m not allowed to attend school centers, then I must be special and they just aired it out in the open. Not special as in gifted intelligence, but the other kind of special—the euphemism for those socially awkward weirdos and cataclysmically disruptive doofuses. Sometimes I play along, stare intensely at them til sweat beads on their foreheads, you know, make them shift in their own clothes while guilt wells up from their core. Always good for a laugh.

Truth is, I’m hardly what you’d consider challenged. Okay, so I’m better online than I am in person—ninety percent of teenage America is too. But contrary to popular (and presumptuous) belief, being homeschooled from remote locations doesn’t always mean you’ve been assigned there from the school board because of social disorders. My isolated northern Alaskan station is by choice—my parents run their business here. And there’s not a soul today who wouldn’t jump at the chance to trade places with me. Mark my words. Take that to the bank, and all that jazz.

My screen flashes with a call and I point to my screen, gesture to answer. Been waiting for this one. VIP customer my parents say. More VIP than usual, which would make him VVIP. In other words, he’s made of money and Mom and Dad want some of it. “Butterman Travel, Incorporated. Hello, Mr. Van Nuys. What can I do for you?”

A silver-haired man with nice skin (rich skin) fills the video screen. Distinguished appearance, but regret taints the twinkle in his eye. I know the type. We get a lot of them. Old farts with more money than life could ever let them spend, desperate to fix some gaffe from their past that either got them punked or punked someone else at some point. And when they’re this close to heaven’s door, time is the one thing they can’t buy.
Unless they come here.

I enjoyed the voice of the MC in the first paragraph – very unique and fun-filled. I thought the voice wavered in the second paragraph, however, especially at the end with phrases like Mark my words. Take that to the bank, and all that jazz. By the end of the second paragraph I was wondering how many people she encountered who didn’t already know who she was and why she was remotely homeschooled, if she lives in an isolated Northern Alaskan station. Who asks? The customers of her parents’ business? Kids she meets online? (And when she says people, does she mean adults, kids, or both?)

I also wondered how remotely homeschooled was different from regular homeschooled and how other teens are educated in 2069, but I figure that’s something to learn later. Not on the first page. Just as an editing note, it should be assigned by the school board, not from the school board.
I’m assuming the gender of the MC is female, but I have no reason to do so. Gender could easily be cleared up on the first page by having the MC say, “Butterman Travel Incorporated. Anna speaking.” (Or Hank, or whatever.)

I also wonder what makes her (or him) so certain there’s not a soul today who wouldn’t jump at the chance to trade places with me. Is the word today significant? As in, a very important event is happening in Northern Alaska today? Or her parents’ business is so thrilling, anybody would want to be a part of it? And how well known is it? Does everybody know about it?

So, other than the end of the second paragraph and the unresolved gender of the MC, I have no objections to this page – but lots of questions. Hopefully my “first impression” of what’s going on will guide Pk in fine-tuning of this page to nudge readers in the direction she wants them to go!

Pk, thanks for sharing your page with us today. You can find Pk at her blog, and don’t forget to check out Marcy’s feedback on Mainewords.

I’ll be back on Thursday, interviewing Mary Waibel, author of the newly released Quest of Hart.

Friday, May 3, 2013

First Impression: PEACEFUL ACRES


Our second submission for First Impressions this month is PEACEFUL ACRES, a YA magical realism manuscript by Jennifer Kirkeby.

As soon as the front doors slid open, I fully expected my nose hairs to disintegrate from the sharp smell of pee and Lysol. That’s how I remembered it from when I saw Grandma in one of these places. God was that depressing. Sad and lonely faces in all stages of decay, slumped over in wheelchairs or forever condemned to hospital beds while staring off into space. And they were the lucky ones. Give me a semi-truck coming eighty-miles-an-hour straight at me any day of the week.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the lobby. Not only did it look like an expensive hotel, but once I stopped holding my breath, the only smell I noticed was the faint scent of some kind of flower. Of course I still wasn’t convinced. After all, this was my punishment, not a vacation.

“David Ackerman?” said the girl behind the desk.

“Yeah.”

“Welcome to Peaceful Acres.”

As she walked towards me, I was hit by unworldly beauty. I don’t mean she was just hot, she was pure perfection. A goddess. Long brown hair and matching eyes. Confident. Spectacular smile. I mean spectacular. I looked at her name tag. Danielle Oleander. She offered her hand as she introduced herself, but if it wasn’t for that name tag winking at me, I probably would have forgotten it. She smelled like lilacs. And had that music been playing since I walked in?

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

At first I thought she was talking about my hand she was still shaking. Then I realized she was looking closely at my right eye.

“No. Well, a little.” I tried for sympathy in case she wanted to take care of me.

She let my hand go. “Sounds like you were lucky. Your mom said it was quite a car accident.”

“Yeah, it was.” Great. What else did my mom tell her? That I had totaled my sister's car on purpose?

“I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Thanks,” I squeaked.

“Follow me, David.”

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Well, the first line certainly caught my attention, and there’s a lot of voice in that first paragraph! These sentences gave me pause, however: And they were the lucky ones. Give me a semi-truck coming eighty-miles-an-hour straight at me any day of the week. Clearly he thinks it would be luckier to have a quick death than to linger in a nursing home, so I would reword that section.

Other than that, the only thing I suggest addressing is the unspecified age of Danielle. Her poise and the phrasing of her greeting, as well as the mention of David’s mother, made her seem like an adult. But he calls her a girl. Is she his age? Slightly older? Or a grown (but hot) woman?

If she is his age, I’d like her to behave and sound more like it (even if she is confident), and I’d also like a hint at why she’s working the desk here. Does her name tag say “Volunteer” perhaps? And if she is a teenage girl – volunteer or employee – would David’s mother have spoken to her directly about his “punishment” or would this have been arranged through someone higher?

I definitely want to know why David crashed his sister’s car on purpose!

One last thing I might mention is the title. (Although I hesitate to bring this up because authors are very attached to their titles, including me!) PEACEFUL ACRES doesn't evoke a sense of conflict for the story -- rather the reverse of conflict. I'm wondering if something different might better catch an agent or editor's eye.

Readers, any comments? Jennifer, thank you for sharing your page with us! Jennifer can be found at her blog, and don’t forget to check out Marcy’s feedback of the same page at Mainewords!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

First Impressions: A WOMAN'S WAR

Did anybody miss First Impressions last month? I did! So I'm happy to bring you the first page of Mary O'Donnell's YA science fiction/dystopian manuscript A WOMAN'S WAR.


Lysa managed a comforting smile as she lay in the hospital bed with small tubes winding around her. Even as the world burned in war, she was still only thinking of me. I looked away from Lysa and stared at the window. I was grateful to the tubes since they gave my sister needed nutrients. Mentally I knew that the tubes acted the same as roots do to for a tree. However, they made my skin crawl to see them hooked up to my sister.

Instead, my eyes strayed to the other patients in the ward around us. There were a few wounded soldiers who moaned in their beds. One soldier had two bandaged stumps for legs with red blood painted edges. An old woman stared ahead out the window, her eyes were glazed over, and complexion pale. Each new breath the old woman took was a small miracle. Lysa, in contrast looked as if she could easily get up and walk out of the hospital. Her cheeks were rose colored and her breaths were still strong. The tubes that were connected to my sister, keeping her alive were the only signs I could see that Lysa’s strength was failing her.

Lysa was always the strong one who never needed a man to carry a thing for her, or to make a living. Her strength was amazing to me. Lysa’s husband went missing in action in the war after she became pregnant. Since she refused to blubber or complain about her hardships, I was the only one who could tell that she had taken the news hard. I understood, however, that some wounds were personal. When I asked her why she didn’t talk about her husband, my sister told me that true grief was done in silence.

I like the first two sentences, which convey a very concise description of these sisters’ relationship without stating it outright. Lysa is the sick one, but she still looks out for her younger (I’m guessing) sister. The following sentences could be rearranged to express this vivid image of the tubes without unnecessary “telling” statements. Something like: The tubes attached to my sister made my skin crawl no matter how I tried to convince myself that they were like the roots of a tree, providing life-giving nourishment.

In the next paragraph, I suggest making each patient her eyes fall on a little more individual and memorable. As stated, they are pretty generic. I do like the strange fact that Lysa looks stronger than any of them, but in fact she is one of the sickest people there. It makes me wonder what is wrong with her.

In the third paragraph, I would eliminate the first two sentences because they flat out tell us things we’d rather see for ourselves. Instead, find a sentence that transitions between Lysa’s false image of strength in the hospital bed versus the real strength she has shown in the past. Describe her reaction to her husband’s disappearance – how it looked to others, and how the sister knew better what was in Lysa’s heart.

Readers, what do you think? How else can Mary paint a vivid picture of these sisters and draw us further into her story?

Mary, thanks for sharing your first page here today. Mary can be found on Facebook, and don’t forget to check out Marcy’s review of this same page on Mainewords.