Monday, June 3, 2013

Hope...(and My First Dear Author Critique)

Hope is what fuels my writing. Aside from writing because I just plain love writing, I write because I hope to write my stories the way they deserve to be written. I write because I hope that this was what I was put on this earth to do. And I write because I hope that someone somewhere in the world will like what I write.

So. I wrote a chunk of a novel last year (with the rather unimpressive title of "Death Wish") and decided to submit its first page to Dear Author's First Page critique feature in February to see if there was any hope in my writing. I totally forgot about it until I got an email yesterday saying that my first page was up for critique! The community over at Dear Author have taken me to task (wonderfully, might I say) here:

I am truly grateful to Dear Author and its community for giving me hope. I couldn't ask for more.

Oh, and here's my first page for the Dear Author submission (and it's not the most brilliant thing):
I rolled my shoulders and assessed the wraith in front of me. The thing howled like an enraged gust of wind. It was trapped within the circle of containment I’d just cast. There were only two ways it could go now. Back from wherever it came from or through my Rifter.

The Rifter’s blade was a fine curved one, similar to that of a Japanese Tachi, except that it was made of tempered glass, shorter and ├╝ber light. If I were to whack a human being with it they’d probably sucker-punch me after snapping it like a twig. But on a wraith? It was lethal. If I so much as touched the essence of the wraith with its blade, it would turn into a pile of ash-gray powder. Literally.

The wraith was floating too high up, six feet off the ground. Mind you, at five-feet-six, even if I jumped, I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of attaining its glowing essence, which was around where its top would be if it were tangible. From afar, the wraith looked like a ball of shiny with a spider’s web thrown on it. Up close and personal, the wraith’s body – if I could call it that – had a quietly smoldering quality to it, undulating like a cape made of fine silvery smoke from burning incense. Deadly smoke.

Some unlucky people confused them with benign spirits and as a result their souls now belonged to the dark prince of the Down & Under, good old Luc himself. A wraith literally sucked the soul out of you, given half a chance.

I blew at my bangs. Okay, let’s do this. Focus. That was the first step, Wes had taught me – that’s my godfather, but more on him later, after I made non-sniffable cocaine out of my spirit friend here. I took a deep breath, shut my eyes and started counting. One. Two. Three. And so on. I could feel the wraith drifting downward, closer to me. I paid it no mind. Now, imagine. Thin tendrils of airy white smoke escaped from my finger tips in my mind’s eye. I waited for the smoke to condense into the thicker texture of morning mist in a forest. I was ready. My eyes snapped open. Finally, channel.

My fingers sent a blast of cold air toward the wraith. The eerie air surrounded the thing and drew it closer to me, like a mini-tornado would. That’s what I loved about Aero. Closer. My other hand held the Rifter’s cloth-bound wooden grip, neither too tight nor too loose. Still closer. The coarse black cloth was good for clammy palms, I’d been told – not that my hands were clammy. Okay, maybe just a tiny bit. Now. I went at the wraith with all I had, running the Rifter’s blade through it.

I missed, barely grazing its intangible mid-section. Dammit. Timing was everything in spellcasting. As the Aero effect faded, the wraith went up and howled, as if the blade had singed it. It had. Then the wraith came back at me with a vengeance. I dodged past it and pivoted to face it. My gaze glued on it, I retreated, adopting a defensive stance.

I closed my eyes for a few, held out my fingers and sent another blast of cold air – this one more powerful. The air began to take shape, slowly etching into a distinct form. A falcon.


  1. Believe in yourself. Say you write because you KNOW that writing is what you're supposed to do. Half of doing is believing, even foolishly.

    What I would have said on Dear Author:

    Be careful about starting a novel with intense action. We (the reader) don't know the character and therefore don't care about her/ him. We don't care about the stakes. And so we don't feel the proper suspense.

    Choppier paragraphs will help the action flow faster. Think of it as a film. In a movie you get single shots--a fist impacting a face; shuffling feet; a knee in the gut--in quick succession. You can't see every detail in a fight. Only fractured images, sensations. The rest is lost in the fury.

    I love the voice. It's got attitude. I think this is a strength in your writing in general because I liked the voice in Graceful as well.

    (Also, did you see Stiefvater's blog post on procrastination?)

    1. Ms. Sara Seay, your critique comments have been duly noted and are highly appreciated :) Seriously, THANK YOU for your unwavering support. Yes, I did read Stiefvater's post on procrastination - it seems we all share a common condition. Oh, and how we'd both love to go to that procrastination rehab program, haha!!