Friday, July 24, 2015

#YayYA Entry #16

Name: Rachel Stevenson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Title: (working title) American Leprechauns

35-Word pitch: Snow traps Sean in a hotel with his father's leprechaun kidnappers and the witch whose head they want for ransom. She knows his dad’s location, but if Sean spares her, the chauns take his friends.


First 500 words:



Lights smeared down Taylors Road’s rainy asphalt. Sean Campbell climbed out of the Miura, gripping his iPhone as his sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass. 

If he’d ever gotten close to swearing, it was now. He leaned over the back, scanning the crumpled bumper and the guardrail hugging the Lamborghini’s flank. Just below swung a drop and a muddy creek’s open throat.

I would’ve died.

His life flashed before his eyes, followed by his dad’s face.

I still might.

Another car with a Tea Party sticker parked along the shoulder, and its rain-freckled window scrolled down. A dark, lipsticked face poked out.

“Y’all need help?” the lady asked. Country music whined from behind her.

Her eyes danced over Sean and the Miura. No surprise there. It was a 70’s automotive Fruit Loop, and he was six foot five. He ran a hand through his fiery hair and shivered.

“Did you see a red Lotus? Without tags? It ran me off the road.”

“Ran you off?”

“Tried to kill me.”

“Holy Toledo. You all right? You call the police?”

“About to.” Sean gestured the damaged Miura. “My dad’s the one who’ll try to kill me next.”

He scrubbed rain off his touchscreen, but didn’t get further when it rang.

Courtney.

“That the cops?” the lady in the other car asked.

“No.” Sean scrunched his brow. Courtney hated calling anyone. “Hello? Courtney? What’s up?”

Frenzied static gasping punched through the speaker. “Sean… Sean, where’s your dad?”

“Should be at home, why?” Sean nodded dismissively at the lady in the other car. She nodded back and pulled back onto Taylors Road’s kudzu-curtained way.

“He’s not. Did you take the Miura?”

“Yeah.”

“The Civic’s still in the driveway, the key under the mat’s gone, and the house is locked down. I peered through the window and it’s utterly trashed. There’s graffiti on the walls and everything.”

Sean blinked summer rain out of his lashes. His imagination tried to register her words and choked. “You’re not serious.”

“Yes, I’m not kidding. You need to get over here. I don’t know what happened, but your house is wrecked and your dad is freaking gone.”


***********


“See, look.”

Sean tripped through spiderwebs and behind the untrimmed azalea bushes. He slammed his palms against the dripping glass, peering through tangled blinds and his own reflection. Courtney sided against him, bumping elbows, accidentally tapping her glasses on the frame. Inside, furniture, food, and wires cluttered across the carpet, sprinkled with pillow stuffing and broken photo frame glass. The television was facedown, and on its back stuck a lopsided photo of Sean and his dad. His dad who was gone.

“What the heck,” was all he managed to blurt, scrambling in his jeans pockets for his keys.

“But look at the wall,” Courtney insisted.

Sean could see. Red ink slashed the eggshell surface.

“Bás go MacCool,” he whispered. “What?”


“I pulled it up on Translate. It’s Irish Gaelic,” Courtney said, displaying her rhinestone-cased phone. “It means Death to MacCool.”


30 comments:

  1. Hi Rachel, You've got a smooth read here with some intriguing developments. I'm only giving the above-and-below entries a first read tonight, but I'll give more feedback through the weekend and in the week to come.

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  2. Pitch: I wondered whether there was some way to state more directly that the leprechauns demand that Sean kill the witch for them? It took me a couple reads to get that totally clear. Otherwise I think this is close!

    First 500: Nice scene-setting - immediate sense of the rainy nighttime road and a nice swift start to the action.

    There are a couple details / turns of phrase that confused me at first (e.g. "Her eyes danced over Sean and the Miura. No surprise there. It was a 70's automotive Fruit Loop..." - not totally sure I'm interpreting her reaction correctly here. Amusement? Surprise? I like the automative Fruit Loop but I'm not sure what it means; colourful?) Any way to work in a quick summary of who Courtney is - friend, love interest, relative...? How old is she compared to him - is she a peer?

    I enjoyed the references to his dad's anticipated reaction to the accident. "I still might" - hee. Not sure you need two of them in such a short space, though.

    Other phrasing quibbles: Courtney saying that she "peered" in the window doesn't seem quite natural in dialogue. "You're not serious" and "I'm not kidding" clash a bit in such close proximity. "Courtney sided against him" - typo for sidled, maybe? "sided against him" makes me think she's taking someone else's side in an argument as opposed to standing close beside him.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments! This is a first draft so I'm really grateful for them. And thanks for joining us! :D

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  3. Hi, Rachel. I’m intrigued. I love leprechauns and anything Irish. The pitch is a bit confusing, but I have a terrible time writing pitches myself. Think main character’s goal (what he wants), his obstacles (what’s standing in his way), and the stakes (what happens), if he doesn’t reach is goal, and see if this helps in writing a pitch. I have a few editing suggestions that you can use or not, to your liking. Good luck!

    [The pitch is a bit confusing. Is Sean’s dad a leprechaun? Is he? How does a witch fit into this scenario? Who are the friends these “chauns” will take? Can you make this clearer?]

    [In the paragraph near the beginning, I think Sean is out of the car, but the part where you wrote He leaned over the back, makes me think he’s still in the car leaning over the back to see the damage.]

    [swung a drop loses me. I know what you mean, there’s a long drop, but how can a drop swing?]

    [I would’ve died. Maybe I could’ve died would be better.]

    [Wouldn’t his life have flashed before his eyes earlier, when the accident happened? Also, this is a cliché. Try to avoid using clichés.]

    [How could he see the window as rain-freckled if it was scrolled down?]

    [I take it the music is coming from a radio, but how is it whining from behind her? When I think of Country music, the word twang comes to mind.]

    [As he scrubbed rain off his touchscreen, it rang.]

    [His imagination registered her words and he choked.]

    [spider webs] [behind the untrimmed azalea bushes is confusing. Would crawled behind the untrimmed azalea bushes sound better?]

    [Is Irish Gaelic overstated? I’d just say, It’s Gaelic.]



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    1. Thanks so much for your comments! As this is a first draft, I really appreciate them :D Thanks for entering! :D

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  4. First Impression:

    The writing here is really well done from a technical standpoint. No grammatical errors, which is always the first indication of someone who knows her craft!

    Critique:

    As has been mentioned, the bit about his life flashing before his eyes is pretty cliched. Another way of phrasing the concept would better showcase your writing abilities.

    "Her eyes danced over Sean and the Miura. No surprise there. It was a 70’s automotive Fruit Loop, and he was six foot five. He ran a hand through his fiery hair and shivered." This sentence is a bit confusing. I get what's going on but rewording would help with clarity.

    "Frenzied static gasping punched through speaker" There's a lot going on in this phrase. Simplify for clarity of meaning.

    "She nodded back and pulled back onto Taylors Road’s kudzu-curtained way." Cut one of the uses of 'back' so you don't have it twice in the same sentence.

    "His imagination tried to register her words and choked." This sentence is personifying the MC's imagination, and it reads a bit strangely. Could different word choices help with that?

    "Courtney sided" should read "sidled"

    Concluding Thoughts: For an unfinished first draft, this is really smoothly written. There are a few technical points to fix up, but you've got action and a strong voice right off the bat. This has the makings of a great story, Rachel!

    And thanks for hosting us all :)

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    1. Thank you so much, and you're most welcome!! :D

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  5. Hi Rachel,

    Intro to critique:
    First, allow me to say thank you for being so brave as to put your work out there for praise and criticism, and thank you for hosting #YayYA. It’s never easy to send writing efforts into the world, and it’s even harder to do it when you know people are going to be reviewing it with a fine-toothed comb.

    Also, please remember that this is your work, and mine is only one opinion. So, take what you like and leave what you don’t.

    I’m also going to try something different on this critique than I have on the others. When I see some technical edits that need to be made, I’ll put them directly in the text in [brackets] so that you know it’s mine and you know exactly where the edit should be made. I think it’ll allow me to focus more on the story, plot, characters, etc., rather than on the copyediting.

    Pitch:
    I’m going to focus on your 35-word pitch first.

    “Snow traps Sean in a hotel with his father's leprechaun kidnappers and the witch whose head they want for ransom.”: There is something very interesting about leprechauns holding this man hostage in order to get a witch’s head, which I’m assuming they expect Sean to deliver from the next sentence.

    “She knows his dad’s location, but if Sean spares her, the chauns take his friends.”: From a plot standpoint, this seems like its building quite a story structure. 1. Sean delivers the witch’s head to the leprechauns, and they release his father. 2. Sean spares the witch, who leads Sean to his father, but then his friends get captured. The real question I see is why would Sean spare the witch? I think you can trim what you’ve got and make room to add that tidbit somewhere in the pitch, because that’s the real crux for Sean.

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  6. (Critique continued from above)
    Entry:
    “Lights smeared down Taylors Road’s rainy asphalt. Sean Campbell climbed out of the Miura, gripping his iPhone as his sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass.”: Great imagery right off the bat, and I like this line. Whether or not it’s the real start of your story remains to be seen. Also, one technical thing here, “Taylors Road’s” (with the “s” on the end of “Taylors”) is very awkward, and every time I read it in your excerpt it hung me up. Any reason it can’t just be Taylor Road?

    “If he’d ever gotten close to swearing, it was now. He leaned over the back, scanning the crumpled bumper and the guardrail hugging the Lamborghini’s flank. Just below swung a drop and a muddy creek’s open throat.”: Again, great imagery, but don’t forget the basics. You said he “leaned over the back,” but I wondered, “The back of what?” Also, the first sentence is passive in this paragraph, so consider dropping it altogether or revising. Lastly, the last sentence is missing a subject. Consider revising to something like this: “A drop swung just below to a muddy creek’s open throat.”

    “I would’ve died.”: This phrasing is odd. It should say “could’ve” rather than “would’ve”. Would have is used in the main clause of a sentence with an opening or closing “if” clause, such as “If the car had broken through the guardrail, I would’ve died.” Without the “if” clause, you should use “could’ve” instead.

    “His life flashed before his eyes, followed by his dad’s face.”: Honestly, I’ve been in an accident where my life literally flashed before my eyes, so this does happen. However, in writing, it is very cliché. Consider removing, or make it more powerful by saying that Sean expected his life to flash before his eyes, but instead, all he saw was his father’s face. That makes an immediate impression on the reader of how important his dad is to him.

    “I still might.”: This makes me think he’s injured, or possibly scared of the people in the car with the Tea Party sticker. If he isn’t injured, you may want to move this to some other place in the story. If he’s scared of the people in the Tea Party sticker, then you should revise the description of the car, and focus on what it is that makes the people scary.

    “Another car with a Tea Party sticker parked along the shoulder, and its rain-freckled window scrolled down. A dark, lipsticked face poked out.”: Although new, rain-freckled and scrolled sound odd. I can’t help but think rain-speckled and rolled works better, as your reader expects it. I liked the “lipsticked face” though. I know it’s not a word, but it’s one of those creative license things that introduces new words to the English language all the time. So, I’d keep it.

    ***
    “Y’all need help?” the lady asked. Country music whined from behind her.
    ***
    For the dialogue above, you’ve perfectly described this woman, who she is, and nearly where she’s from—all while building the story. Great work!

    “Her eyes danced over Sean and the Miura. No surprise there. It was a 70’s automotive Fruit Loop, and he was six foot five. He ran a hand through his fiery hair and shivered.”: I literally gasped when you called the Miura a Fruit Loop. Yes, the colors were very fruit-loopish, but the Miura is a gorgeous car. I’m offended [just joking] on the premise that Fruit Loops sit on Wal-Mart’s shelves and the Miura would cost about $150,000 today if it were in production. Okay, that Segway probably wasn’t necessary, so let me get back to the critique. The third sentence in this paragraph is passive, so consider revising into active voice. Andddd, I’m going back to the Segway. You know Miura’s had very interesting colors. I’d love to know what color the car is.

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  7. (Critique continued from above)
    ***
    “Did you see a red Lotus? Without tags? It ran me off the road.”

    “Ran you off?”

    “Tried to kill me.”

    “Holy Toledo. You all right? You call the police?”

    “About to.” Sean gestured [to] the damaged Miura. “My dad’s the one who’ll try to kill me next.”
    ***
    For the dialogue above, I’m thinking, “Hmmm, Miura? Lotus? Where exactly are they?” It sounds like a ritzy town, but I’m only seeing a dark, deserted road in my head.

    “He scrubbed rain off his touchscreen, but didn’t get further when it rang.”: Scratch the comma. He is the subject for both “scrubbed” and “didn’t get,” so the comma shouldn’t be used.

    ***
    Courtney.

    “That the cops?” the lady in the other car asked.

    “No.” Sean scrunched his brow. Courtney hated calling anyone. “Hello? Courtney? What’s up?”

    Frenzied static gasping punched through the speaker. “Sean… Sean, where’s your dad?”
    ***
    For the dialogue above, this reads smoothly, but I think you should cut “static” from the second-to-last sentence.

    ***
    “Should be at home, why?” Sean nodded dismissively at the lady in the other car. She nodded back and pulled back onto Taylors Road’s kudzu-curtained way.
    ***
    For the dialogue above, I think the last sentence can be absorbed into the previous one. For example, “Sean nodded dismissively at the lady in the other car, and she nodded back, pulling back onto Taylor Road.” Also, kudzu-curtained is a great adjective, but I don’t think Sean would be paying enough attention to notice that here.

    ***
    “He’s not. Did you take the Miura?”

    “Yeah.”

    “The Civic’s still in the driveway, the key under the mat’s gone, and the house is locked down. I peered through the window and it’s utterly trashed. There’s graffiti on the walls and everything.”
    ***
    For the dialogue above, I’m beginning to feel a rise in tension, which is good, but I feel like I need to know who Courtney is. Right now, she’s just some girl who knows Sean and his Dad closely. Is she a cousin? A friend? Sean’s girlfriend?

    ***
    Sean blinked summer rain out of his lashes. His imagination tried to register her words and choked. “You’re not serious.”
    ***
    For the lines above, I’d combine the first two, which will make them stronger. Also, I’d looks the “and choked” phrase. If he’s still having trouble grasping it, I don’t think he’d be at the choking point yet.

    ***
    “Yes, I’m not kidding. You need to get over here. I don’t know what happened, but your house is wrecked[,] and your dad is freaking gone.”
    ***
    For the lines above, I’d leave out the “Yes,” altogether. It sounds confusing. Just say, “I’m not kidding.”

    ***
    “See, look.”: I imagine Courtney is saying this, but as there is a break in the story here from one scene to the next, you should add a dialogue tag.

    “Sean tripped through spiderwebs and behind the untrimmed azalea bushes. He slammed his palms against the dripping glass, peering through tangled blinds and his own reflection.”: Again, you have great descriptions and imagery, although I don’t think “dripping glass” works. It sounds like the glass is dripping, when obviously it’s the rain streaming down the glass. Also, I’m now wondering how he got there. Was the Miura not totaled?

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  8. (Critique continued from above)
    “Courtney sided against him, bumping elbows, accidentally tapping her glasses on the frame. Inside, furniture, food, and wires cluttered [across] the carpet, sprinkled with pillow stuffing and broken photo frame glass. The television was facedown, and on its back stuck a lopsided photo of Sean and his dad. His dad who was gone.”: When you use “sided,” it makes it sound like Courtney took the side of an argument again Sean. I think what you meant to use was “sidled,” which means to inch next to something else, in this case, Sean. Also, I would remove the comma after “elbows” and add the word “and” between “elbows and accidentally.” The word “stuck” sticks out to me, in the sentence about the television, which is written in passive voice. Consider revising to something like this, “Sitting cockeyed on the back of a facedown television, a frame outlined a picture Sean and his dad—his dad, who was gone.”

    ***
    “What the heck,” was all he managed to blurt, scrambling in his jeans [jean] pockets for his keys.

    “But look at the wall,” Courtney insisted.

    Sean could see. Red ink slashed the eggshell surface.
    ***
    For the dialogue above, “jeans” should be “jean.” Also, combine the last three sentences into the dialogue tag. For exampled, “…Courtney insisted, pointing at the red ink slashed across the eggshell surface.” It makes it stronger and it directs Sean and the reader to the message.

    ***
    “Bás go MacCool,” he whispered. “What?”

    “I pulled it up on Translate. It’s Irish Gaelic,” Courtney said, displaying her rhinestone-cased phone. “It means Death to MacCool.”
    ***
    For the dialogue above, I know what you mean by “Translate,” but some people may not. The more universally known reference is Google, so if you say the following, it widens your audience: “I Googled it. It’s Irish Gaelic for ‘Death to MacCool.’” Also, Sean said Courtney doesn’t like to call anyone, yet her phone is rhinestone-encased. This seems at odds with what little we know about her. Remember, we still don’t know who she is in relation to Sean yet.

    And one last overall suggestion: Not to be chauvinistic, but you have a male MC, and I’m married, I have two boys in middle-school, and a brother, father, father-in-law, and two brothers-in-law. I’m also the only female in a very male-dominated environment through my work with the military. From my experience, men don’t tend to be flowery in their description in general. They tend to be more straightforward when describing something. It seems you use a lot of adjectives, which don’t really sound masculine, but as we are seeing this from Sean’s POV, I feel like this is something that needs to be addressed.

    And one last overall comment: You have an amazing way of describing a scene that brings it to life immediately. I know that this is at complete odds with what I said above about the male perspective, but I do like your writing and I think that you will be able to strike a delicate balance that works for this story.

    Closure:
    Thank you again for giving me the chance to review your piece. I would definitely keep reading at this point, as honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read a modern story about leprechauns, so your pitch has intrigued me. Also, you’ve got a lovely way of creating images in your reader’s mind, and I like that, too. Again, feel free to take or leave my suggestions. I always just write anything and everything I can think of.

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    1. Thank you so very much for your detailed comments! I really appreciate it as this is a first draft. On your comment about Taylors Road, I agree that putting Taylors Road's is clunky: I hesitated when I wrote it down, TBH, but I didn't change it because Taylors Road is a real place in South Carolina. I've stood right where this scene takes place :D Maybe I'll find a better way to put it.

      I also see what you mean about the male POV. The very original version of this story had a very very male voice. Part of the reason for the switch was my own writerly voice changed, but also because Sean went from being an engineer student to an artist. All the same, I'll definitely keep that more in mind as I continue writing this draft!! Thanks again and thanks for entering :D

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    2. Possible rephrasing of "Taylors Road's" for your consideration: "...down the rainy asphalt of Taylors Road." Just a thought :)

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  9. Hello Rachel!

    Thank you for hosting this awesome party! My comments are subjective so take it or leave it. First off I love your concept. Anything with leprechauns is bound for a good read! There are just a few suggestions which may help clarify and help with pacing.

    The Pitch: I agree stating how his father's involved with the leprechauns would clear this up. I also think you need to say what they want Sean to do a more directly in regards to the witch. Why is she important?

    First 500: Your description for the most part is spot on. I like your voice and I can see myself enjoying the MC in the entire book!! Just a few little suggestions:

    Lights smeared down Taylors Road’s rainy asphalt. Sean Campbell climbed out of the Miura, gripping his iPhone as his sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass. [Although I do love this description, I think a puncher opening may be needed to really draw in the reader. I had to reread this a couple times to realize what you were trying to convey here.]

    I would’ve died.
    His life flashed before his eyes, followed by his dad’s face.
    I still might. [For a snapper idea, maybe try: I wouldn't have died. His father's face popped into his head. I still might. As someone said, the part about his life flashed before his eyes does sound a bit cliche. A pesky detail we all fall victim to! :-)]

    Another car with a Tea Party sticker parked along the shoulder, and its rain-freckled window scrolled down. A dark, lipsticked face poked out. [I would think about rephrasing this. It sounds like his car also has a Tea Party sticker, unless this is what you are trying to say. If so disregard. Also, how can he see the rain-freckled window if it's scrolled down. I do like the detail of the dark lipsticked face!!]

    “Did you see a red Lotus? Without tags? It ran me off the road.”
    “Ran you off?”
    “Tried to kill me.”
    “Holy Toledo. You all right? You call the police?”
    [This dialogue sounds very head bouncy to me. I'd cut some of the questions out for pacing and clarity.]

    “No.” Sean scrunched his brow. Courtney hated calling anyone. “Hello? Courtney? What’s up?” [Again, I would get rid of the questions. Maybe keep "What's up?"]

    Frenzied static gasping punched through the speaker. “Sean… Sean, where’s your dad?” [Here I would cut one of the Seans or even just go with "Where's your dad?" Get right to the heart of the conversation.]

    “Should be at home, why?” Sean nodded dismissively at the lady in the other car. She nodded back and pulled back onto Taylors Road’s kudzu-curtained way. [This is the second time you mentioned Taylors Road. Maybe take one out and reword.]

    Sean blinked summer rain out of his lashes. His imagination tried to register her words and choked. “You’re not serious.” [This sentence is off and I think it's the part about his imagination. I think for clarity you should say "He tried to register her words, choking.]

    “Yes, I’m not kidding. You need to get over here. I don’t know what happened, but your house is wrecked and your dad is freaking gone.” [Again, head bouncing. Dialogue where one character says one thing, and then the next one answers is to spot on. Real conversations rarely sound like that. People drop words, mumble and sometime don't answer at all. Think about what you are trying to get across in regards to tension, backstory, and pacing.

    I like how you focus on the the bumping of Courtney's glasses on the window. It draws you into what happening. Good job!

    Overall, you are heading in the right direction. Your description is awesome, I could learn a few things from you. The dialogue needs some rehashing, but otherwise good job! Again, thanks for hosting this!

    Monica M. Hoffman #12








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    1. Thank you so very much for the comments!! And you're welcome :D i'm glad you entered!

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  10. Hi Rachel!

    Pitch: The pitch’s first sentence threw me and I had to read it a couple of times to understand who wanted whose head. A quick tweak can make that clearer.

    Good luck! It’s a terrific draft.

    [Less wordy?] Lights smeared down Taylors Road’s rainy asphalt as Sean Campbell climbed out of the Miura, gripping his iPhone. His sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass.

    [LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the alliteration in “his sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass.” Your descriptions are vivid and you use powerful language to convey those images. I am a fan of the italicized inner thoughts. I use them as well, but I have been told the same thing by our panel here. It’s a matter of choice to use or not to use italics for those deep, inner thoughts. We’ve all seen it used successfully in writing. Not sure if I am going to change mine, but I am seriously considering it after the feedback I’ve gotten.]

    Another car with a Tea Party sticker parked along the shoulder, and its rain-freckled window scrolled down. A dark, lipsticked face poked out. [The Tea Party-stickered, country music playing, heavy lipstick-wearing woman is a great comic break in the tension but you dive right back in with the phone call. Nicely done. BTW-what’s she driving? Cars seem important to the MC. He should notice.]

    “Y’all need help?” the lady asked. Country music whined from behind her.

    Her eyes danced over Sean and the Miura. No surprise there. It was a 70’s automotive Fruit Loop, and he was six foot five [Does this reference the car’s color or style]. He ran a hand through his fiery hair and shivered.

    “Did you see a red Lotus? Without tags? It ran me off the road.” [Your choice of cars is interesting. A Lambo, a Lotus, and a Civic. Makes me wonder about money and where it came from.]

    Courtney. [I’d like to know more about Courtney when he gets the call. Who is she to him?]

    “That the cops?” the lady in the other car asked.

    “No.” Sean scrunched his brow. Courtney hated calling anyone. “Hello? Courtney? What’s up?”

    Frenzied static [phone static? or reference to her breathing?] gasping punched through the speaker. “Sean… Sean, where’s your dad?”

    Sean tripped through [spider webs] and behind the untrimmed azalea bushes. He slammed his palms against the dripping glass, peering through tangled blinds and his own reflection. Courtney sided against him, bumping elbows, accidentally tapping her glasses on the frame. Inside, furniture, food, and wires cluttered across the carpet, sprinkled with pillow stuffing and broken photo frame glass. The television was [face down], and on its back stuck a lopsided photo of Sean and his dad. His dad who was gone.

    “Bás go MacCool,” he whispered. “What?”

    “I pulled it up on [Google?] Translate. It’s Irish Gaelic,” Courtney said, displaying her rhinestone-cased phone. “It means Death to MacCool.” [If they are both supposed to be Irish they would probably recognize those words as Gaelic on their own although they wouldn’t know what they meant.]

    [I love anything Celtic. I’ve written a Celtic YA and I am a lecturer on Celtic History at our local college. Go Gaelic! I have to ask: Fin MacCool? Does he make an appearance????]

    I have to agree with Katie on the masculine vs. feminine voice. Working in a high school, I know boys who are lucky to give one word answers. I had the same struggles dealing with the male characters in my ms. They are blunt, curt, and frequently crass. Few observe the world around them the way Sean does but that could be his exceptionality as an artist. He would have a greater sense of place.

    As a Celtic history nut, I would love to read more. Thank you for putting all of this together!

    Kelly (#17)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments, and YES! This is a continuation tale for the major characters of old Irish mythology, focusing on Finn but also featuring Cu Chulainn, Scathach, Morrigan, etc. In fact I might pick your brain for accuracy as the book progresses :D

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    2. You probably already have them, but I can suggest some great books for reference material. I'd be happy to send you some titles.

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  11. Hey there, Rachel! (Jamie #19)

    I see you've been given quite a bit of feedback at this point, so I'll try to keep my remarks brief.

    General Notes: You do have a way with words! While I agree that a male MC would tone down the description, I think you can get away with a good 'middle ground' because it's 3rd person. If it were 1st person? Not so much. But 3rd person gives you a bit of leeway, IMO. I make a point to tell everyone to be wary of overusing adverbs! As a fun exercise, search your MS for words that begin with 'ly', and see how many of them (excluding adjectives or words like 'belly') you can remove or replace. It'll strengthen you as a writer and encourage you to be more creative in your descriptions (which you already seem inclined to be).

    Other than that, these are the two things I had thoughts on (and haven't been addressed by others.)

    I would drop iPhone and just say "phone." Specifics date your MS. In ten years, when we have whatever the hot new thing is, you don't want people chuckling at your "ancient" tech.

    In response to "You're not serious," I'd have her say, "Yes, I am!" (Or something.) Because I agree that Courtney's current reply feels off.

    Thanks for letting me look at this and also for hosting! Hope my (few) comments help you some, and good luck!

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    1. Thank you so very much!! And thanks for entering :D

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  12. Snow traps Sean in a hotel with his father's leprechaun kidnappers and the witch whose head they want for ransom. She knows his dad’s location, but if Sean spares her, the chauns take his friends.

    My take on the pitch. First, Chauns?! So awesome.
    The pitch isn't working for me personally, because the awesome is trapped behind slightly ordinary. Snow traps Sean...(I'm on board, this feels contemporary, maybe Cozy mystery) with his father's (yup definitely Contemporary or Cozy...) LEPRECAUN KIDNAPPERS? ( What the QUA?)

    I'd suggest changing this so the speculative comes as SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Like Shaun is stuck between the Leprauns who kidnapped his father, and the witch who knows where his father is. The Cauns want the Witch dead, and if Shaun doesn't kill her, his friends are next.

    Essentially I'm saying I don't care about the snow, or the reason why he's trapped. I just care about the situation.

    500: The rain-freckled window is probably the prettiest description I've ever read. So gorgeous.
    I think however you have a touch too many creative descriptions here. Some of them aren't adding clarity, like calling the car a froot loop. What does that mean? Also I've never heard of a Miura? Is that something you've invented, or an actual brand of car I just haven't heard of? I'd suggest either adding a sentence of description showing us what a Miura is, or else changing this to something more people would recognize.

    Also the opening action isn't clear to me. A Red lotus just ran him off the road? Was his car damaged? Is there broken glass? I'd suggest starting a tad bit earlier, maybe with his reaction instead of using your first few paragraphs to tell us something that happened in the past, stick us in the here and now.

    Hope this helps. Your first draft is WAY stronger than my first draft. :)
    ~Sheena #11

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    1. Thank you for your comments! It's always suer helpful when people tell me where they are confused :D

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  13. Hiya Rachel :)

    35-Word pitch: Snow traps Sean in a hotel with his father's leprechaun kidnappers and the witch whose head they want for ransom. She knows his dad’s location, but if Sean spares her, the chauns take his friends.

    So I get a bit confused, if they're all in a hotel together why don't the chauns take her head themselves? :) Having said that, the idea of a leprechaun based book is awesome!

    First 500 words:



    Lights smeared down Taylors Road’s rainy asphalt. [ Could you just switch a few words around since people are saying it's clunky to get rid of the 's? Maybe Lights smeared down the rainy asphalt of Taylors Road. :) ]

    Sean Campbell climbed out of the Miura, gripping his iPhone as his sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass. [love sneakers -crabgrass]


    His life flashed before his eyes, followed by his dad’s face.

    I still might. [love this]

    Another car with a Tea Party sticker parked along the shoulder, and its rain-freckled window scrolled down. A dark, lipsticked face poked out. [should there be a comma after car or do they both have Tea Party stickers?]

    “Y’all need help?” the lady asked. Country music whined from behind her.



    “Holy Toledo. You all right? You call the police?” [you're building a very nice image of the lady, I can totally picture her]

    Courtney. [who is Courtney to him?]

    “The Civic’s still in the driveway, the key under the mat’s gone, and the house is locked down. I peered through the window and it’s utterly trashed. There’s graffiti on the walls and everything.” [I feel like the fact that the house is trashed would be right what she'd get to, and then explain that the car and key is still there.]


    “Yes, I’m not kidding. You need to get over here. I don’t know what happened, but your house is wrecked and your dad is freaking gone.” [she doesn't quite respond with the tension need in this situation. One would assume a teenager would be tripping out about coming across something like this. like Hurry the bleep up and get your butt home now, kinda tripping ;)]

    ***********


    Courtney sided against him, bumping elbows, accidentally tapping her glasses on the frame. [really like this imagery]

    Love the mystery you're already building in just the first few pages and would read on because it's something new and different to me. The way you describe things really pulls me into picturing them in my head right away. I think you've got the beginning of a great story :)

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  14. Hey Rachel. For hosting this I thought I'd say something real quick. The voice has a nice Noir tone to it, and I think anything you can do keep those shades of grit going would advance this particular story. It may help from time-to-time to add a couple of jagged sentence fragments. (I know it is bad English). I particularly love them after a long sentence.

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    1. Thanks!! I do like to use those. I should use them more :D

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  15. I'm having to post this in two parts because of it's size. Sorry

    I like the concept and I like going with Leprechans, it’s not something you see everyday. I do think the story may be starting in the wrong place. It wasn’t till the end that you got a sense of what was happening. I love that there’s Gaelic in it and your imagery works well. Just make sure the descriptions are necessary to the story and not detracting from it.

    American Leprechauns

     Snow traps Sean in a hotel with his father's leprechaun kidnappers and the witch whose head they want for ransom. She knows his dad’s location, but if Sean spares her, the chauns take his friends. (The pitch is confusing. I’m not sure why but at first read I thought ’Snow’ was someone’s name. It’s not too clear what’s going on. The dad’s in the hotel or is it sean and the witch? And do the leprechauns have his dad or his friends or both?)

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  16. Lights smeared down Taylors Road’s rainy asphalt. (I’d switch these two sentences. Lead with action not description) Sean Campbell climbed out of the Miura (I admit I didn’t know right away what a Miura was), gripping his iPhone as his sneakers sloshed in saturated crabgrass. 

    If he’d ever gotten close to swearing, it was now. He leaned over the back, scanning the crumpled bumper and the guardrail hugging the Lamborghini’s flank. Just below swung a drop and a muddy creek’s open throat.(rework the sentence)

    I would’ve died.

    His life flashed before his eyes, followed by his dad’s face.(just seems weird that his life flashed before his eyes after he was out of the car looking at the damage)

    I still might.

    Another car with a Tea Party sticker parked along the shoulder, (skip ‘Another’ makes it seem like there’s already someone there besides him) and its rain-freckled window scrolled down. A dark, lipsticked face poked (switch out poked for something else) out.

    “Y’all need help?” the lady asked. Country music whined from behind her.

    Her eyes danced (danced seems like an odd choice for looking at a wreck) over Sean and the Miura(you could prob just say car). No surprise there. It was a 70’s automotive Fruit Loop, and he was six foot five. He ran a hand through his fiery (go with wet or damp bc of the rain, save the color for later) hair and shivered.

    “Did you see a red Lotus? Without tags? It ran me off the road.”

    “Ran you off?”

    “Tried to kill me.”

    “Holy Toledo. You all right? You call the police?”

    “About to.” Sean gestured the damaged Miura. “My dad’s the one who’ll try to kill me next.”

    He scrubbed rain off his touchscreen, but didn’t get further when it rang.

    Courtney.

    “That the cops?” the lady in the other car asked.

    “No.” Sean scrunched his brow. Courtney hated calling anyone. “Hello? Courtney? What’s up?”

    Frenzied static gasping punched (stiff descriptors) through the speaker. “Sean… Sean, where’s your dad?”

    “Should be at home, why?” Sean nodded dismissively at the lady in the other car. She nodded back and pulled back onto Taylors Road’s kudzu-curtained (too much description, comes off stiff, I’d just skip) way.

    “He’s not. Did you take the Miura?”

    “Yeah.”

    “The Civic’s still in the driveway, the key under the mat’s gone, and the house is locked down. I peered through the window and it’s utterly trashed. There’s graffiti on the walls and everything.”

    Sean blinked summer rain out of his lashes. His imagination tried to register her words and choked. (Put the dialogue between the sentences)“You’re not serious.”

    “Yes, I’m not kidding. You need to get over here. I don’t know what happened, but your house is wrecked and your dad is freaking gone.”


    ***********


    “See, look.”

    Sean tripped through spiderwebs and behind the untrimmed azalea bushes. He slammed (the word ‘slammed’ seemed too forceful) his palms against the dripping glass, peering through tangled blinds and his own reflection. Courtney sided against him, bumping elbows, accidentally tapping her glasses on the frame. Inside, furniture, food, and wires cluttered across the carpet, sprinkled with pillow stuffing and broken photo frame glass. The television was facedown, and on its back stuck a lopsided photo of Sean and his dad. His dad who was gone.

    “What the heck,” was all he managed to blurt, scrambling in his jeans pockets for his keys.

    “But look at the wall,” Courtney insisted.

    Sean could see. Red ink slashed the eggshell surface.

    “Bás go MacCool,” he whispered. “What?”


    “I pulled it up on Translate. It’s Irish Gaelic,” Courtney said, displaying her rhinestone-cased phone. “It means Death to MacCool.”

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments, I appreciate it!! :D

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