Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Character Sketches and a Review!

My daughter's friend Rachel recently launched her own artistic design business. Pretty ambitious for a high school student, huh? Her dream is to someday work in Disney Animation Studios, and as she prepares for college, she's working on expanding her portfolio of art and character design.

So, I hired her to draw THE EIGHTH DAY characters for me to use on my website. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was really impressed. Not only is Rachel talented, but she worked with me through several drafts to get each character right.

What do you think?
Character Art by Rachel Gillespie at Artistic Expressions

You can help Rachel out by liking her Facebook page, Artistic Expressions. I know she's eager for more work, so if anyone is looking for characters drawings, send Rachel a message and tell her Gabbey's mom sent you!

Additionally, I have to share a link to THE EIGHTH DAY's first blogger review. Thank you, Leandra Wallace, for your glowing praise -- and for the recipe to a scrumptious dessert that wouldn't last long at Jax and Riley's house.

From Leandra's review: "If there's one MG book that you pick up in 2014, this should be it. And for those of you that might not venture far from the YA lanes, TED is actually a bit of a cross-over."

I'm so glad she said that! Some of you may already know TED originally started as a YA manuscript and then morphed into a MG adventure series. But one of the holdouts from the YA version is Riley ... whom Susan Kaye Quinn has told me is swoon-worthy. I'm pleased that Leandra, too, thought the book will have a cross-over appeal to YA readers. I hope she's right!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Eating an Elephant

Thanks for all the kind words of encouragement last week when I was bemoaning my slow progress with this WIP. I love the support in this community!

I'm still creeping into the climax of my WIP. When it comes to action scenes, I tend to choreograph everything down to the last detail (including what people who aren't even in the scene are doing off-stage). I write bloated, over-long descriptions, extraneous dialogue, describe every motion, gesture, and expression of each character.

Then I go back and start slashing things out. Each successive draft will pare the excess words away until I have a taut, fast-paced scene.

(Then later on, my editor will point out that it's not as taut or fast-paced as I think it is, and I'll find scores of other words that didn't need to be there!)

I confessed at The Practice Room recently that I was worried about writing an upcoming battle scene -- a larger battle involving more people and more physical geography than I've ever attempted before. Maria Mainero suggested I read G.R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.

"Oh," I said. "I actually read that over Christmas break!"

"And ..." she prompted.

"Um, I skipped over all the battle scenes."

So there you have it. Personally, I don't want to read about sweeping, epic battles between armies. I only care what the main characters are doing during the action.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So, how should I write my battle scene? Centered around my main characters, what they do, what they see, what they feel. I'll take it one bite at a time and fight my instinct to choreograph every action of the ensemble cast and shove those things into the narrative. If' it's something I would skip over as a reader, then it probably shouldn't be in there!

That's the plan, anyway. How do you tackle scenes that seem TOO BIG to write?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paperback Covers

The paperback version of The Caged Graves will come out this August, and when it does, it will have a new cover. I showed it off on Facebook and Twitter last week, but in case you didn't see it:


What do you think? I love it.

I admit I was nervous when they said I was getting a new cover, because I LOVE the first one. The girl is the striking image of Verity Boone as I imagined her, and I want to stroke and pet all the shiny gold curlicues around the title. (In fact, I have.)  Also, I saw what happened to Code Name Verity when it went to paperback.



There's no connection between my book and Wein's book other than the name Verity, but I just cringed over the new cover. I searched the internet, trying to find the story behind the change, and I think it had to do with a New York Times review saying the first cover looked like a lesbian version of 50 Shades of Gray. But ugh, how was a pastoral landscape supposed to be better? Too far in the other direction!

Anyway, back to my book. This new cover makes the photograph of the caged grave more prominent. (It's my husband's photo, in case you didn't know. Bob gets another photo credit!) And I think there's a greater atmosphere of mystery in this new version. That's what The Caged Graves is, a mystery in a historical setting.

While I'm talking cover switches, let me just mention the new paperback cover for Tiffany Schmidt's debut book, Send Me a Sign. Tiffany is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet (I know. I met her. And not just on the internet, either.) I'm delighted that her new cover is an improvement over the old one!



Can you think of any cover changes that you've particularly liked or disliked?

Don't forget -- my Anniversary Giveaway is still running until the end of this month. Enter for more chances to win! Also, Marcy and I have 3 spots open in February for a first page critique. Make a good "First Impression" with editors, agents, and readers!

Monday, January 20, 2014

7 Reasons Why I’m Psyching Myself Out

Daughter #2: A classic portrait of "WAH!"
I’ve been fretting a lot because the first draft of Book 3 in the EIGHTH DAY series is not coming as easily as I’d like or as fast as I want. I know I’ve complained a little about it here on the blog, but that’s NOTHING compared to all the whining my family has had to put up with!

Rationally, I know there are very good reasons for the trouble I’m having. It’s difficult to stop beating myself up, though. After all, I wrote the first draft of Book 2, THE INQUISITOR’S MARK in six weeks. Six weeks! I started working on Book 3 at the end of July. It’s going on six months now, and I haven’t completed a full draft.

Here are some reasons why this book is evolving slower:

1. I wrote THE INQUISITOR’S MARK after the acquiring editor for THE EIGHTH DAY had retired but before I was assigned a new editor. THE CAGED GRAVES was finished, but pre-release promotions hadn’t started. It was literally the only project on the table for me, and nothing else happened while I was working on it.

2. Since I started writing Book 3, I’ve been interrupted to proof-read THE EIGHTH DAY and make editorial revisions on THE INQUISITOR’S MARK twice.

3. Additionally, every couple weeks there’s a new shiny thing cropping up to distract me: ARCs for THE EIGHTH DAY, cover flap blurbs for THE INQUISITOR’S MARK, a new paperback cover for CAGED GRAVES, and would you believe the cover blurb for the paperback version of EIGHTH DAY, which hasn’t even released in hardback yet!

4. When writing Book 2, I had to blend a new cast with the characters from the previous book.  When writing Book 3, however, I have to blend another new cast with the characters from two previous books. That’s a lot of characters needing parts – or reasons for being absent from the story. (Maybe I should have killed more of them off?!?)

5. TED established rules for this fantasy. TIM established even more rules. I now have to live with all those rules in Book 3, even when they are inconvenient.

Daughter #1: A classic portrait of "STUCK!"
6. When I wrote TIM, it was full of inconsistencies, plot holes, and unsatisfactory explanations. But I didn’t notice most of them until I was finished. Then I fixed them. Then my editor saw lots more. And I fixed them, too. But I can’t seem to muster that essential blindness for the first draft of Book 3. I fixate over every plot hole, and I can already hear my editor’s questions in my head – even though she will never see this terrible version of the story!

7. This is the third book in the series, and possibly the end. The climax (which is where I'm at) needs to be BIG – bigger than the other two. And the falling action needs to wrap almost everything up, while still leaving enough wiggle room for the series to continue if it’s successful. My first editor asked me to plan a 5-book story arc, and it’s hard to un-see that vision and think of it as a 3-book arc now, but that’s really what I need to do in order to get it right.

So, that’s it – all my excuses why it’s taking so long to write this book. And while I can’t do much about the distractions (as if I’m going to ignore cover designs when they come in?) or the complications inherent in writing the third book of any series, what I can do is remind myself over and over that THE FIRST DRAFT IS ALLOWED TO STINK.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Atomic Weight of Secrets: An Interview with Eden Unger Bowditch

Over my Thanksgiving break, I planned to do a ton of writing and revising. What I did instead was get sick and stare blankly at my laptop in a miserable stupor. Eventually, I gave up, opened my Kindle and started reading a free sample of The Atomic Weight of Secrets, by fellow Project Mayhem-er Eden Unger Bowditch. Not only did I quickly forget I was feeling sick, I promptly downloaded the full book, devoured it, then contacted Eden about an interview.

Eden’s book – an alternate history, steampunkish version of The Mysterious Benedict Society – is a wonderful middle grade adventure. The full title is The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black (Book 1 in The Young Inventors Guild series), and as it just so happens, the second book in the series, The Ravens of Solemano or The Order of the Mysterious Men in Black, released just this fall.

A synopsis for The Atomic Weight of Secrets:

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world's most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had. But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

Gathered from all across the world, the children are taken to a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can t give them answers.

How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives? And why haven't their parents tried to contact them?

Whatever the reasons, the situation is clear: The children and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they're going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn't even know they were all working on an invention that will change the world forever.

1. Eden, what was your inspiration for The Young Inventors Guild? I’ve always loved science and invention. When my eldest was reading the Harry Potter books, he (and we) LOVED them but he felt disappointed that magic wasn’t real. To me, magic IS real! Science and invention are a different kind of magic. The Young Inventors Guild characters appeared. They were there, in 1903, an incredible time of invention. So I let them create the scene and I told the story.

2. Tell us the story of your journey to publication. It was a completely sideways adventure. When people ask me about getting published I have to admit I’m the last person to ask since nothing was normal about it. First, I did speak to a couple people in the publishing world about it. Everyone said that I really needed some brooms and magic wands if I wanted to get it published. This was certainly discouraging so I just retreated and began to write. Second, I was living in Cairo and a friend of mine, author Jonathan Scott Fuqua, read what was then the outline/bones of the first Young Inventors Guild book I had been writing. He asked if he could show it to his publisher, Bancroft Press. He did and about four hours later they called him to say they wanted a meeting. Since I was coming back to the US in a few weeks, we made a date and they made an offer. I worked with a wonderful editor and The Atomic Weight of Secrets… was born. It was slated to be released on the Ides of March (15 March) 2011 which was right in the middle of the Egyptian Revolution. When The Ravens of Solemano… was slated for 13 September, 2013, my publisher actually changed the date when they realized it was Friday the 13th!

3. How many books are planned for the series? What can you tell us about them? I am presently writing the third book. It will take place mostly in Cairo. It is in the third book that we truly understand the mysterious men in black and why they are that way. We find out the reasons for all the secrets. The third book is to be called The Strange, Round, Bird…The plan is for a trilogy.

4. Each of the children in the Young Inventors Guild has a unique backstory. Do you have a favorite among them? Was there any one character who gave you difficulty or didn't come out the way you expected? That is hard to say- a favorite child? Goodness!! Each child, as you say, is so different. It’s funny, though, because I’ve had a few readers who were fathers of strong and stubborn girls. Without exception, they have always noted Faye as the favorite character. Mother’s of awkward, talented, funny sons choose Noah. Little sisters select Jasper who is a wonderful big brother- and I had one of those. Each of the characters is special to me and I have great affection for the kids and Miss Brett. That said, both Wallace and Faye have broken my heart. It is hard to watch a character suffer. Wallace is so fragile I have sat writing with tears coming down. And Faye, well, I wish she would just be nicer. And, hopefully, she will. But her nature is what it is and I cannot make her be someone she is not.

5. I was startled when historical characters appeared in the book, although afterwards I chastised myself for not seeing that little twist coming. Can we expect more cameos by famous people later in the series? Absolutely. In The Ravens of Solemano… you will find one of my favorite inventors of the age!

6. Tell us a little about life in Cairo! The best of it -- and the more challenging aspects of it. The people of Egypt are warm and kind and inviting. It is an ancient land with ancient customs and much has not changed in generations. The food is lovely and there is so much magic and history. We were all excited about the revolution, but it is not a simple thing. It was scary having tanks in front of the house and having to blockade the doors. But the patience and work required to make the country better has taken most people by surprise. It is hard to see a country of people who struggle to make their country function. Having freedom in government demands great responsibility and freedom is not something most Egyptian people understand since they simply have not had it. Caring for their own antiquities, keeping the streets clean, being healthy…these are all struggles. But Egypt is a place that will forever be in my heart.


Eden, thanks so much for visiting here today! Good luck with your series! And blog readers, this is a book I can highly recommend. You can check out Eden’s website or on Facebook and find The Young Inventors Guild series at your favorite book sellers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Four Years of Blogging

I started In High Spirits on January 8, 2010 with a post called Optimism in a New Decade. It was just a few months before the release of We Hear the Dead, and WAY too late to build a platform of readers before a book launch – but I didn’t know that at the time! For a long while, my only readers were my husband, my sister … and then Katie Mills, aka CreepyQuery Girl. I’m not sure how I snagged Katie, but I do remember her as one of my very first readers!

It’s been an interesting journey since then, and a lot of cool stuff has happened in the last four years. There have been disappointments as well, but that’s the way of this business and life in general.

To celebrate how far I’ve come, I’m hosting a raffle this month – giving away one of everything I’ve ever published. The giveaway is open to anyone in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, or the European Union. I’ve decided to hold separate raffles for each item, rather than have just one and stick a winner with something they don’t want or already have.

The Anniversary Party door prizes are signed copies of:
  • We Hear the Dead + my very last WHTD t-shirt
  • Visions 1 and 2 : pulp fiction anthologies including my two adult short stories, Necromancer (horror) and Greydeere (fantasy)
  • The Caged Graves + a caged grave t-shirt
  • Very Superstitious: a charity anthology including my YA short story, Bloody Mary (historical horror)
  • An ARC of The Eighth Day + a set of temporary tattoos that go with the story


 To all my readers, thanks for making the last four years so amazing! I look forward to the next four ... and more ... with excitement and anticipation!


Friday, January 10, 2014

First Impressions: LIVING RUNAWAY

Our third submission for First Impressions in 2014 is a YA Contemporary from Tammy Theriault, titled LIVING RUNAWAY:

 “Mom?” I called out, tossing a stack of envelopes towards the kitchen island, spreading them like wings in midair. “I got the mail!”
            Walking to my room, ready to dump another bad year of school, I heard a distant smack to the fake tile echoing against rose colored walls.
            “Crap.” I turned, finding half the mail spread out on the linoleum. “Seriously? Could this stupid day get any worse?”
            I gathered up the pile, placing it back on the counter just as a manila envelope peeked out from the clutter.
             “Mom?” I called out again. “I’m home! Half day, remember?”
             “I’m in the bathroom!” She yelled from down the hall.
            I quickly pulled the large envelope out and turned it over. My name was typed on a white label, but with no return address. I flipped it over a few times more to find the sender, but all I could see was a round bulge sliding up and down inside.
            And it was for me.
            “Yes!” I said,dropping my backpack on the floor. “Finally.”
            I stared at the envelope held in my now eager hands, anticipating what was inside, knowing Mom had told me to stop going through the mail. But this was different. This was the one I was waiting for.
            I smiled, ready to tear into the gift and see what Dad used as his I-didn’t-forget birthday present.
            I tore open the flap, trying to think where Mom said he went for his business trip this time. Where ever this was from, I was more stoked that he remembered my eighteenth birthday was coming up. Through all his recent late night drunken stupors, drowning in bourbon, late night TV and what he called the stresses of a new management job in sales—he remembered.
            Reaching half way inside, I pulled out a pink sparkly card announcing my birthday had arrived. I opened it to find nothing more than a typed note.
            “Happy Birthday, Emily. I’m sure Daddy would’ve loved to see his little princess.”
            I read the line again, unsure of why “see” was capitalized, but dismissed it, throwing the card on the counter. Shaking the envelope upside down, readying my hand beneath it for my present, a cold Saran Wrap wad fell into my palm, trickling bits of red juices from its open creases.
            “What the…”
            I squinted hard to see inside of it without opening the plastic wrapping, trying not to get more of the liquid on me. But all I could make out was something round…with a pink limp stem…and a dark…blue…iris.

Gasp … HOW HORRIBLE! At first I saw iris and I thought flower. I thought he sent her a flower. Then I realized …

This is bad. Was he kidnapped? Is it even his eyeball? This is clearly a threat to Emily as well as to her father – who I’m betting is not really a sales executive.

Backing up to critique the page, I think there are a number of things that need to be made clearer. A small, unimportant one – but it is the first thing that happens – is throwing the mail on the counter. What I think happened is she threw the mail at the counter, the envelopes hit and fanned out, and slid right onto the floor. This could be stated more directly. There’s no reason to get into fake tiles or the color of the walls.  Additionally, having the mail fall on the floor doesn’t seem a reason for Emily to exclaim, Could this stupid day get any worse? It’s a minor annoyance, but if she’s had a bad day, then elaborate here – or drop it altogether.

Next, her mother had told her to stop going through the mail. Why? The horrifying delivery she just received is an excellent reason for her mother not to want Emily opening the mail, but is there another, perfectly mundane reason?  Is it that Emily is looking for validation and attention from her absentee father, and the mother hates seeing her disappointed? In that case, rather than Emily thinking: This is different. This was the one I was waiting for. – she ought to be thinking: Ha, Mom! I was right. He didn’t forget.

Finally, on a more practical note – if this really is an eyeball, could it survive going through the mail in an envelope? I honestly have no idea how hard or squishy it might be, nor do I want to know!  A box might be better, although I realize that wouldn’t blend in with the mail and would have caught Emily’s attention earlier. How about a padded envelope at least?

Readers, what feedback can you give? Tammy, thanks for sharing your chilling first page with us. Readers, you can find Tammy at her blog, and don’t forget to stop by Mainewords for Marcy’s impression of this page.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First Impressions: ELSBETH AND THE CALL OF THE CASTLE GHOSTIES

Our second submission for First Impressions comes from co-authors J Bean and Chris Palmer for the third book in their Cape Cod Witch MG fantasy series: ELSBETH AND THE CALL OF THE CASTLE GHOSTIES:


THE CALL

Present Time, Scotland, the Castle

Durst was not upset about being dead.
But he was upset, and mightily so.
His homeland was threatened.
Not for the first time over the ages. But past threats had come from fierce soldiers he had fought with hot passion and honor. While the danger now came in the smooth words and slippery smile from the one known as “Gorgeous.” And though Durst was now a cold ghost, it chilled him.
From a rough-hewn cavern beneath the dungeon, Durst’s vaporous form rose up, high above the tower walls. Below him the castle’s grey stones gleamed softly in the weak moonlight. A fog lifted slowly from the rocky cliff that bordered his land and overlooked a restless inland sea.
An owl swooped past in search of prey. A lone wolf howled. And other creatures of the night went about their quiet business.
This land must not be destroyed!

***

Strengthened now, Durst returned to his solitary chamber deep underground.
He rubbed the flat edge of his stone knife, back and forth, back and forth, against his pale blue cheek.
Done with thinking he stabbed the blade into the air, and a single crash of thunder quaked the Highland dark, summoning two other unearthly forms of the castle. In their own times and in their own ways each of them had devoted their living days to these lands -- the proud mountains and their valleys of sweet heather, on which even a god could lie and rest his head and drink from bottomless clear lakes.
The ghosts shifted in the small space, uncomfortable together. They were not friends. But they were bound by a love of their homeland that could not be bounded by a short earthly life.
Now they needed one from the living world. One with the purpose ... and the magic ... to protect this sacred place.
Durst took up the length of sapwood from the sacred alder tree on which he had carved the old symbols. He cut the final notch of a simple flute.
The three touched, and a white-gold energy glowed and grew until their shimmering forms blazed in cold fire.
Durst’s ancient ghostly lips met the living wood. He breathed in all their hopes and fears, and sent forth to the Four Winds a sweet, sharp song. His command was clear: “Carry here the youngest of the clan. The youngest Thistle.”
A future was cast.

There are several lines in this opening that could be tweaked for clarity. For example: summoning two other unearthly forms of the castle. To me, that reads as two ghostly forms of the castle itself, not two ghosts from the castle. I was also unclear on the phrase Strengthened now, which begins the second section. I am assuming Durst was strengthened by his love of the land, but I think this could be stated directly. Also, rubbing a stone knife across one’s cheek seemed a strange way to think things over, even for a ghost! And since I knew this was a ghost, I wasn’t sure if it was a corporeal knife or one as ghostly as Durst himself.

That said, the conflict in the story is very clear from this beginning. We’ve got a threat to an ancient land, three ghosts who don’t necessarily get along, and the summoning of the human who will save them … who I’m guessing is none other than our heroine, ElsBeth, the little witch from Cape Cod.

There is wonderful descriptive language here to invoke the setting of the story, but I think the adjectives and adverbs are a little heavy-handed. They overwhelm the reader. Stripping out a few would make the scene more crisp. I’m not one of those adverb-haters; I use adverbs all the time. But I do end up cutting many of them in the end because they clutter up the description.  I also have a tendency to lay on the adjectives in a liberal manner, sometimes using two or three for one noun. Eek! In revisions and editing, I go back and choose the strongest one, then ruthlessly cut the rest. As for hot passion in a MG novel … best not to go there, even if it’s not that kind of passion, lol!

Chris and J Bean, thanks for sharing your first page with us! You can learn more about the Cape Cod Witch series, which has been very well-received, by visiting their website. And don’t forget to stop by Mainewords for Marcy’s feedback on the same page.


I’ll be back on Friday with a third installment of First Impressions!

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Impressions: 27 DAISIES

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome, 2014!

I’m starting off the year with First Impressions posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m also planning to celebrate 4 years of blogging this month with a GIVEAWAY of one of everything I’ve ever published. Come back next Monday to learn more about!

Today, I’m sharing the first page of a YA Contemporary by Christy Hintz, titled 27 DAISIES.

CHAPTER ONE--SHELBY

Mom is at the stove.  I stop, confused.  She doesn’t turn, and for three seconds I wonder who this woman is and what she did with my mother.
            “What…what are you doing?” I ask.
            She turns and smiles.  She actually smiles.  “Making spaghetti.”
            When I don’t speak or move or breathe because I am afraid of this moment, afraid maybe that if I move I will smash it into a kazillion teardrops, she says, “Doesn’t spaghetti sound marvelous?”
            It does.  I can’t believe it but it does.  I bring my backpack to the room I am using to sleep in and do homework in and hurry back to the kitchen.  I take out milk and find French bread on the counter.  I slice it up with a bread knife that has never been used and spread butter and sprinkle garlic and find parmesan cheese to grate.  Mom hands me a baking sheet, and she is
            humming.                                                                                                                   
            I look at her again and examine her hair—did she cut it?  Her eyelashes are wearing mascara and it is not smudged black underneath her eyes.
            I sit and she serves me my food.   We don’t pray, but she asks, “How was your day?”
            I shrug my right shoulder. 
            The spaghetti is sweet and peppery and there are pieces of tomato and onion.  It tastes like—
            “I always loved your dad’s spaghetti sauce.  We still have six jars to use.  We’ll save them for special occasions.”
            I stop mid-bite and wait for the torrent of tears. 
None come.              
She twists noodles around her fork and eats them. 
            “What’s the occasion tonight?” I ask.  It’s been 10 months, 27 days since we’ve really looked at one another, since I’ve seen her smile or talk with this…this spark of life. 
            Her wide eyes look at me, see me.  “I’ve been waking up feeling better, like a black veil has been lifted and the world brightened.”  She looks away, at the refrigerator, or somewhere in her mind.  There is a brightness to her face.  I don’t recognize the emotion.  “Someone took the 215 pounds off my shoulders that has been pushing me down.”
            My heart hits my stomach and the impact echoes.

Someone took the 215 pounds off my shoulders that has been pushing me down.

Wow, that is quite a line, and it overturned my first impression of what was going on in this scene. I thought the mom was grieving for a husband who’d died. Now I’m wondering if he left her for another woman. (But then again, if that’s what happened, why wouldn’t she throw his homemade spaghetti sauce in the trash, rather than save it for special occasions?)

This first page whets my interest in the mother – who is fully described – and definitely I want to know what happened to leave her in a state of depression, and what snapped her out of it.

However, I don’t feel very connected to the main character, and that’s the biggest thing I think the author needs to work on to improve this page. I’m not suggesting the author start in a different place or make the mother less important. However, I would like to see more internal thoughts from the main character.

Why is she using a room for sleeping and homework, but doesn’t call it her room? Where does she normally expect to find her mother when she comes home? What was on her mind before she entered the house and saw this startling change? How does it affect her? These are just some of the things that might be woven into the existing scene so that readers connect with her better.

Character, Voice, and Conflict. I’ve been told those are the three top things an agent looks for in the opening pages of a YA novel. Conflict is here – some type of dysfunctional family turmoil. There’s a good beginning to Voice.  But the Character herself eludes me on this page. Readers, what do you think? What would you like more of (or less of) in this scene?

Christy, thanks for sharing your first page with us in the first month of the new year! You can find Christy at her blog, Erica and Christy, and don’t forget to stop by Mainewords for Marcy’s feedback on this same page.