Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Post V-Day TT and another opening evaluation

EotF Status

Assumed rejection from Firebrand.

Another rejection from query; one still out.


T.C. Status

word count: 5,454


FwM Status

word count: 2,387


Previous Goals:

  • another color poem
  • synopsis for EotF - been too sick to focus on this (head fuzzy) but progress made
  • figure out why my copy/paste has suddenly gone on strike... (was working fine just a few minutes ago!)  - fixed, but by magic rather than deduction
  • finish TC chapter four - my goal for today, but if my head won't wrap around it then I won't punish myself for finishing it later this week


Goals for this week:

  • work more on synopsis, so I can send out next batch of queries
  • finish color poems in progress (green and violet) 
  • submit a batch of poems
  • get extra rest so I get better (awful sore throat, aching body, etc) 


Color poems complete: yellow, orange, blue, black, red, brown, and white. I'll probably do a gray. Maybe pink. Can't think of more after that. 11 poems is not enough for a chapbook. Hmm. I have an ART poem that would accompany these well. I'll have to decide what else to add to "My Palette of Color."


Edited to Add: Forgot to mention Valentine's Day! Wrote a Valentine Villanelle for my husband. Saturday we went and saw Push. Awesome show. Lots of action, kept me guessing, and was consistent with the rules it set. Plus, hottie Chris Evans. We'll be buying the movie when it comes out on DVD.


Another Secret Agent contest has come to an end. Here's my new opening (number 41) and results.


The opening (EotF):

Marian knelt by the small stream, watching the puddle jumpers. The blue sparks danced just out of reach as she dipped her hand in. The only sounds were the trickle of the stream and a pair of birds singing courtship.

She stood and wiped her hands on her long tunic. Why were the trees so silent today? The crying in Oak Tears was something that belonged only to her. Since a young age, Marian had heard what no one else could. Now the familiar ache's absence left her feeling strangely alone.

"Marian... Marian." Her sister came into view, cheeks flushed and dark hair loose from its braid.

"Terra, what's wrong?"

Terra stopped to catch her breath. "Mother... needs help... Glenna... baker's wife... having baby."

Marian gasped. "Has it been ten moons already?"

Terra shook her head. "Only eight and a half. Mother is over there now. She needs an ointment made and fresh water."

Marian didn't need to hear more. "You get a bucket from the well. I'll make the ointment and meet you at Glenna's."

Marian knocked on the door as she entered the room. Her mother looked up from her tea preparation at the hearth, sighed in relief, and motioned her daughter over. A ribbon held her dark brown hair out of the way. She handed Marian a ribbon to do the same.

Glenna squatted at the end of a worn bed. Her husband sat directly behind her, ready to brace her during her struggles.


Comments: 18

Hooked?: 12 yes; 3 no; 3 on the fence, would read a bit further to decide. Much better ratios than the last two times (6/8/10 the first time, and 3/6/2 the second). Apparently opening with this scene works much better.


Problems Cited by Readers:

- confusion about ten moons comment
- confusion about crying in Oak Tears/2nd paragraph in general (biggest issue, with 8 comments)
- puddle jumpers reminds of Star Trek
- opening elements seem unrelated (crying, etc then birthing)
- not enough hook (doesn't stand out)


What I can fix from the problems:
- Change name of puddle jumpers (not a Star Trek fan myself, so didn't make a connection.)
- Work on 2nd paragraph to remove confusions
- Make character/story more compelling on first page?? somehow?? Hoping it was more of a taste thing, as I did have many positive comments.


What Won't Change:
- not going too in detail about Oak Tears crying, as it comes up again at the end of same chapter. Besides, need some intrigue, can't answer all story questions.
- I'll allow readers to discover the connection between the opening threads as they read the rest of the chapter
- mention of ten moons long pregnancy. shows this is otherworld. As reader reads more, will learn their calendar is based off the moon (each month or Moon is 4 weeks or 28 days, one moon cycle). It's not even inaccurate week-wise for a human. 40 week pregnancy is standard, which is 10 of their moons/months, and nine of ours.


Most Helpful Comment:

Tara Maya said...

I think this is really important to the story: Why were the trees so silent today? The crying in Oak Tears was something that belonged only to her. Since a young age, Marian had heard what no one else could. Now the familiar ache's absence left her feeling strangely alone.
Unfortunately, it's confusing. You have be as explicit as possible.
"The crying in Oak Tears" -- Who or what is crying? Are the trees crying? Is there a disembodied sound of weeping and crying?
Since a young age, Marian had heard what no one else could.-- This is perfectly clear. Good.
the familiar ache's absence -- This is less clear. "Ache" sounds like something Marian would be feeling herself, not a description of something outside her, like the sound of crying. When she's in the grove of Oak Tears, does she ache too?


The secret agent (later revealed to be Kristin Nelson) said this about it:

The writing is quite solid in this entry but I can't help but feel that this introduction to the story is very ho-hum in terms of the genre of fantasy.
Over the years, I've read hundreds, maybe even thousands, of fantasy sample pages. This isn't going to stand out.
Now I like the crying in Oak Tears so that is interesting but not necessarily enough so.
The key with fantasy is to nail the character in the opening pages and I rarely see that done in unique way. Most writers rely on the worn familiar in the genre.
So what I'm saying is that this writer probably has possibility but this isn't getting the job done.


On a side note, Kristin form-rejected my query just 10 days before. At least she said my writing is solid and has possibility. Hopefully my opening will stand out more for another agent. If I can get them to read pages, that is...

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