Here are the entries that stood out for me.
Iggy had grown so much in the past few
years. On the day his brother was murdered, she had a round little face and a
Campbell’s kid smile, a tight shock of wiry curls crowning her head like a
halo. Now, her face had lengthened and fleshed out. The chubbiness was gone,
replaced by the soft supple curves of adulthood. She had Frankie’s light brown
eyes, but everything else about her belonged to her mother. Her squat, athletic
frame, her cocoa-tinted skin. Even her dimples were her mother’s.
“I swear, Uncle Donnie,” she said,
flashing the dimples as she skittered a nearly empty gallon of milk across the
counter. “You’re worse than a kid. How come you’re always putting stuff back in
the fridge empty?”
I'd cut the first sentence cause you
really don't need it. You have "now her face had lengthened and fleshed
out" which conveys the same info.
And I'm perplexed by his brother when
Iggy is given female pronouns.
Twelve-year-old Calvin Jones speaks
with birds. The doctors think what Calvin hears is caused by his brain tumor.
His parents believe his imaginary friends are simply vivid childhood fantasies.
Maybe they are.
But Calvin has a secret. Not only does
he converse with them, but he soars wing tip to wing tip.
To ascend into the sky means no
school, no bedtimes, no responsibilities, and no chemo.
The birds say, “To fly is to live.”
And to soar forever as a bird is Calvin’s dream, but returning to humanity may
be impossible once committed.
Which is either bird-brained or a
bonus. Calvin’s not sure, but life with cancer—stinks.
I'd cut the fourth sentence: maybe
That's implied already. No need to put
it on the page.
And I'd cut the last phrase: but life
That gives the reader something to
Someone comes to stand beside me. I
look up and do a double-take.
He looks like Sebastian. Same
cheekbones and deep brown eyes, hair just a little more sun-blanched on the
edges. This must be the brother. He’s tall and lean like my human, but he’s got
an artistic musculature to his torso, arms folded as he watches Sebastian on
stage. He’s dressed like he fought with a bear but changed shirts on the way:
his plain white T is clean but his jeans and boots are scuffed, and I think I
catch a waft of pine needles and sweet grass. If a tree trunk rammed into this
brother, I bet the tree would stop.
Excellent character description here!
Hollis was tall, but gravity and
anxiety stole a few inches, knocking his stature from six foot one to five
eleven. He smiled halfway, only his right cheek ticking up, when he saw me wave
him over. He skulked towards me, like a ghost in a room full of mediums. He
hadn’t yet grasped that billionaires at a gala were hard to hide.
He looked so much better than the last
time I’d seen him. The black suit he wore was impressive, so I didn’t have the
heart to point out the ink stain on his collar. I was, however, curious as to
how it got there. With Hollis, there was always a story.
Cecilia Ortiz Luna
I’ve concluded that my parents’ DNAs
caromed against each other haphazardly during my conception. I possess none of
Dad’s German propensity for precision engineering, none of my Filipino mother’s
talent for singing. I’m not sure where I got the stomach for malt whiskey,
super spicy food, and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Appearance-wise, though, people who’ll
find me wandering in the woods will know which set of parents to return me to.
I inherited Dad’s Aryan facial bone structure, six feet height, his halblaut
speaking voice. The rest of me? All-Mom. Dark brown eyes, black hair, fair
skin. Even that chin mole.
Luckily, my genetic mashup apparently
worked for the only segment of society whose opinion mattered to
nineteen-year-old me — them lovely girls of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore.
Very nice description here!
There was something in the way that
Violet carried herself as she crossed the bar, and the confidence she had in
every interaction. The wave and waggle of her fingers to someone she knew, the
flirtatious eyebrow raise to someone she did not. How she froze a whole table
of conversation by leaning in to whisper in one person’s ear for just a
heartbeat. Travis had been around many cocky frat boys and finance jerks, but
Violet was genuine in her self-assuredness. It was magnetic. But even more than
that, it was the effortlessness with which she swiped two people’s wallets,
extracting the money and returning to original pockets without breaking her
stride or getting noticed by anyone else that captivated Travis’ attention.
Nice character twist here.
In the midst of this maelstrom stood
she, a prisoner of the inevitable, the window for her escape quickly slamming
shut, precious seconds ticking away. Standing in her way… her target, who had
turned the tables, and now led their dance. Upside-down and firmly in his
clutches, she fought off the combined effects of the blood rush and the punch.
I am screwed, Zola thought. Royally
On the bright side, a premature death
would excuse her from yet another interminable debriefing session.
Of all the perilous scenarios she had
envisioned, and the attendant escape techniques she'd devised, “Mid-Waltz
Extrication” never had come to mind.
"I shouldn’t have had that last
drink," she mumbled.
“The last drink wasn’t the problem. It
was the six before that,” said The Voice rudely invading her head.
I'd cut or move that first paragraph
and start with I am screwed, Zola thought.
Mitch thrives on the graveyard shift
in a world most living people avoid—the morgue. He’s rail-thin, with
white-blond hair and a pasty complexion. Honestly, there are corpses with more
color than Mitch. Rumor has it he moonlights at a local funeral home when he’s
not in the morgue, so it’s possible he never sees the sun. A lack of Vitamin D
won’t be the ultimate cause of his demise, though. He’s a decade younger than
me, but I’ll outlive him unless he gives up his pack-a-day habit.
“You’re the boss, Doc,” he says easily
whenever I ask him about a case. “I just do what I’m told.”
It’s a game we play almost every time
we work together. We both know who’s really in charge.
I'd cut those first two lines, or move
them, so that you open with the real grabber: Honestly, there are corpses with more
color than Mitch.
Maggie put down her book and rubbed
her eyes. A pale beam of streetlight leaked around the blanket that partially
covered her lone window, which was frosted by an icy ooze of January air off
the East River. In the yellowish light it looked like frozen urine, and being a
basement window, it could have been. She pulled the bedcovers further up and
glanced at her growing library of 193 books, every one of them stolen. On top
of everything else, she thought, I’m starting to look and feel like a mole.
I suggest starting with that last
sentence: I'm starting to look and feel like a mole. It's much grabbier than all the exposition.
There were two entries that really stood out to me:
By the summer when I was seventeen, my
hormones were on a collision course with my common sense. I had been looking
for someone whose primed animal instincts were all wrapped up in a fine pair of
faded Levi’s, someone with a sweet talkin’ smile, someone whom mothers feared
and sweet young thangs dream about, at a time when the local high school boys
seemed gawky and crude. The moment I saw him I knew, in that heart-thudding
second, he was the one. He had a casual perfection about him. His lean body
moved with the fluid, hypnotic grace of a jungle cat, which fueled my nightly
oh yes yes yes
young woman was on the wrong side of the road, hitch-hiking, wiggling
her thumb as though unsure this thing worked. He couldn't tell her age,
but maybe 20.
As he slowed, she dropped her hand, eyeing the
truck without expression. She was wearing a little white sweater,
skinny jeans and clunky high-heeled boots, all soaked. Everything about
her shouted 'I don't belong here―I don't want to be here.' So what the
hell was she doing here, trying to hitchhike on a rainy November
“Should we offer a ride, Betty?” he asked. The
old dog offered no opinion. “But why would she get in a truck with the
likes of me?” He stopped, rolled down the window, and leaned out. She
did not move. “Hey, there,” he said, smiling.
oh sweet mother of god, yes I want to
Rather than dawdle any longer trying to choose just one, how about we have two winners this time!
Kitty and BobW, drop me an email and let me know what kind of book you'd like to get as a prize.
I'm now crawling back (sloooowly) from vacation.
It was a luxurious couple weeks without deadlines or To Do lists but holy hell, the incoming query mailbox: