Monday, March 21, 2011

Show Me the Voice Blogfest and Creature Mondays

The awesome Brenda Drake is hosting an amazing contest. The amazing Natalie Fischer, who is now agenting at The Bradford Literary Agency, has agreed to be the judge for her Show Me the Voice contest.
Natalie is all about the voice and wants you to show it in your first 250 words of your finished manuscript. When critiquing each others' entries, look for voice and please keep your comments nice and helpful, not snarky.  

Click Here for more details
So without further ado, here are my first 250 words. Anny comments/suggestions/critiques would be greatly appreciated! This is a slightly different version than the one I posted yesterday, I hope this one is better!
Name: Nicole Zoltack
Title: Riona's Pen
Genre: YA Fantasy

Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since he confiscated a story I wrote during class yesterday. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

I guess I can't blame him, but wouldn't most English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? But no. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention. Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to English class today, and I walked there slowly.

The crowded hallway thinned out as kids slammed puke-green lockers and ducked into their classrooms.

"Riona?" someone called.

I turned and spotted Artex, the new guy. He smiled and waved a piece of paper in his hand. Wow, were his teeth white! "Hi." I smiled back, unsure why he was talking to me. After all, I was decidedly unpopular. I refrained from shuffling my feet. Good-looking boys always made me nervous.

He jogged down the hall to me, and a lock of dark hair fell across his forehead, giving him a tousled look. Oh, yeah, Artex was definitely attractive. "I think this is yours." He handed me the story I had started in Spanish class.

"Thanks." I shoved it into a notebook. "I guess I accidentally left it behind."

"You really wrote poor Roderick into a tight spot. Those bloody pirates are more than he can handle." He fell into step beside me.

My cheeks grew hot. "You read it?" Even though I dreamed of seeing Riona Streaming on the spine of a book, I didn't have the courage to allow someone else to read my writing.

And now for a new creature for Creature Mondays.
Credit for picture
The salamander is an elemental of fire. Thin, red, and dry-skinned, they are like wisps of a flame and have a wrathful disposition. Some say that salamanders look like lizards.

In the Middle Ages, salamanders were believed needed for fire to exist. Matches, flint, nothing would be able to lit a spark without a salamander. da Vinci wrote that salamanders ate fire.

Supposedly, salamanders are produced by fire. To become immune to being burned, one should smear themselves with salamander blood. It is believed that this notion came about from a real lizard that crawls out from its home within a log of wood once the log was burned. The lizard's name? You guessed it - salamander.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole! I think this hilarious. THe only thing I might change is saying that his hair gave him a tousled look. The hair falling is enough for me. Good luck with this!

Talli Roland said...

I love it, Nicole! Great voice and I really enjoyed the McMichaels in the first paragraph.

Donna Hole said...

Yes, good voice. We see a lot of the character and what is important to her. Nicely built.

I would suggest deleting "needless to say," The rest of the sentence is stronger without it.

I loved the salamander. Oh, he would be fun to use in a story. I can see the wizard now, washing the hero in salamander blood before sending him/her off to fight the dragon.



Kalen O'Donnell said...

Very cute opening! Great voice, felt natural for her. Good job!

And I'm following your blog now, love the idea of Creature Mondays. The salamander's a very underused magical creature, you've inspired me to use him more now, lol.

Anonymous said...

Hahah great opening with the teacher vs. student with powerful abilities.

Thanks for commenting on my entry and it really means a lot when you wrote that you (as a chemist) liked the science in my sci-fi

Anonymous said...

You have a fun voice! And I loved your opening paragraph (LOL). The only thing that I have to say, is that I think you might want to change the one line about a strand of dark hair falling into his eyes. Because one strand falling out of place won't give him a tousled look (smiles).

But other than that, I loved the voice. Very fun! Good luck...oh and I think I've seen you around on Totally 4 YA!

Thanks for dropping by my blog as well ((HUGS))

Christine L. Arnold said...

I like this! Love the voice. It's funny. And I'm interested to see where it's going!

I might change up the first sentence just a bit. I can't really explain it, but it read funny to me. I like the idea of it, but maybe something like "I was pretty sure Mr. McMichaels hated me after confiscating that story I wrote during class yesterday." Or something. Just so that we understand it's her perception.

Anyway, I really like this and would definitely read on!

Cherie Reich said...

I love the beginning. It definitely shows great voice. And, these type of salamanders remind me of Harry Potter. Now I want to play the video games. *laughs*

Margay said...

Oh, my gosh, Nicole, it's like you got inside my head somehow! Not that I wrote stories where my teachers were the bad guys, but that part at the end - totally me. I remember voraciously writing my whole life - and just as studiously trying to keep my writing to myself. Well, except for the stuff that was assigned in class. But the writing I did in my spare time, I was always afraid to let others read it. I think you captured that beautifully.

duwarr said...

I like this first 250 a lot more than the version you posted before. I get a much better feel for Riona's character and your opening has a much stronger voice.

Although, I did notice you changed the timeline for when she wrote the story about the goblin warlord. Last week makes more sense than yesterday. Hating someone ever since yesterday doesn't carry as much oomph as hating them since last week.

And, by the way, I loved that opening paragraph. It's probably my favorite out of all the ones I've read in this contest.

Great job!

Donea Lee said...

I agree, the beginning is great! A lot of humor and attitude right off the bat.

I thought maybe the following sentence, "Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to English class today, and I walked there slowly." you could show that she didn't want to go, rather than say it. She takes her time, feet drag, etc.

My only critique ~ I really enjoyed the rest. Best of luck in the contest! :)

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

This has come so far, Nicole! Awesome job. Apart from what others have already said, I would suggest that you reconsider using the last name Streaming in its current context because it creates confusion. It could be either a name or a verb.

I am so proud of you! This is awesome.


LTM said...

great flaming salamanders! That's a terrific beginning. Good luck w/it~ :o) <3

Margo Kelly said...

My questions on your 250 words: why do you start with Mr. McMichaels? Is he important to the story? If not, don't lead with him. It gives him too much importance.

Fun piece!

J.C. Martin said...

This was awesome! You depicted the wannabe writer so well! Great voice!

The only thing I have to point out: after the sassy and personality-filled writing at the start, "Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to English class today, and I walked there slowly" seemed a bit off. Perhaps it was the combination of passive ('was') and ending with an adverb. I recommend:

"Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to English today, and I dragged my heels as i walked."

mooderino said...

i thought you didn't need to tell us he hated her at the start since you show us anyway. Something like:

Mr. McMichaels confiscated a story I wrote during class yesterday. A story about an evil goblin warlord. Named McMichaels.

Shouldn't English teachers love students who wanted to be authors? But no. I was lucky he only threatened me with detention.

Letting the reader become aware of the problem is more satisfying to read, imo.

Charity Bradford said...

Nicole, awesome start. The only thing that threw me was the beginning.

"Mr. McMichaels hated me ever since" made me think he hated her for a long time, but then it's followed by "yesterday". Other than that I loved all of it! Thanks for sharing.

Deana said...

I am a sucker for love so the dialog really drew me in. I also liked the puke green locker bit. If I had one critique it would be some of the short sentence make the reading a bit choppy. I understand that anything goes with writing these days and it works in a lot of ways, so ultimately it is your call. Great job!