Show Me the Voice Contest Blogfest

I got a late start today, fighting a cold or allergies! Brenda Drake's Show Me the Voice Blogfest begins today, and I've already sent in my entry. We could either send it now, or wait until we got feedback and send it later; My book has gone through several betas and critiques so I felt comfortable submitting it now. But, in true blogfest spirit, I will still be making the rounds of those who posted their pages to give them some feedback.

I would have liked to submit my first 250 words from Crow's Rest, but the rules stipulate that your sample must be from a completed novel. So I submitted the first 250 from Spirits from the Vasty Deep (from the prologue, actually).

Name: Angela Jackson, writing as Angelica R. Jackson
Title: Spirits from the Vasty Deep
Genre: YA Historical w/ a ghostly twist

(From the prologue)

"Where are you taking me?" I tried to plant my feet, but Miss Bonney roughly pulled me into motion again.

"I'm taking you to the east wing, to put an end to this superstitious nonsense once and for all," she answered, holding my arm in an iron grip. "I will solve two problems with one fell swoop—get some use out of that room, and cure you of lying."

"But I don't lie," I said, my breath coming in puffs as I trotted to keep up.

Miss Bonney snorted. "I suppose you deny telling the other girls the ghost of the groundskeeper and his dog walk the gardens? Or that Tabitha's late grandmother wanted to speak with her? Some of those girls haven't slept in a week. You're nearly ten years old, Olivia, you're getting too old for such stories."

"They're not stories—there are shades all around us, all the time. And I told the others they didn't need to fear these spirits, they don't mean us any harm."

Miss Bonney turned left into a long gallery, raising her candle to get her bearings. Cold and disused, this wing of the school reeked of decay and mildew. Quiet reigned at this end of the building; all the students would be getting ready for bed in their dormitories by now.

My curiosity about the forbidden wing outweighed any misgivings—until we approached the door at the far end. "What is this place?" I whispered, trembling as
I felt the weight of a presence beyond it.

Looking forward to reading people's entries, and "meeting" some new writing friends!


Anita Saxena said...

I love this! You have introduced a very interesting ten year old girl and opened with strong conflict. I hope good things happen for you with this manuscript.

Stephanie Thornton said...

This is definitely a fun opening for MG, something I could see my daughter wanting to read in a few years.

Nice job!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks, Anita and Stephanie! It's actually a young adult novel; this beginning introduces her at 10 years old to highlight a specific ghostly encounter. The rest of the book, she's 17.

Tim Keen said...

This is a very good opening. Good work!

Anonymous said...

Oh I love this little girl already! You've done a fantastic job of showing her gumption and I'd definitely read on.

Also, I had a question about your comment on my 250 so if you have a moment I'd love for you to stop by and clarify which version you liked better.

How funny that the word verification is "liend" when your post is about a girl accused of lying :)

Christi Corbett

Unknown said...

Great opener. You have lots of voice here. You have introduced an intriguing character and I want to know what's going to happen next.

Margo Berendsen said...

Ah, an earnest, honest voice. I like it! (and it's a refreshing change from all the usual teen attitude - including my 250 words!)

One suggestion: "iron grip" is a cliche. So is "one fell swoop" but that one is okay because that defines Miss Bonney's voice, I like it in that case.

J.C. Martin said...

What a spooky dormitory wing! You raised a lot of questions that have really intrigued me! The voice is great. The use of simple words and short sentences help make it seem like we are in the mind of a 10-year-old.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks for all the comments (and follows), everyone!

I don't think I'm going to make it through all 100+ entries, so I'm going through them randomly (commented on about 20). I will at least return comments if you commented here.

P.S. If you have a blog design with light text on dark background, I can only read it if I select the text and paste it elsewhere. I'm not likely to do that for this contest, since there are so many entries.

Lori M. Lee said...

I think this is interesting, and I'd definitely read on. My only critique is this line:

I will solve two problems with one fell swoop

I'm not sure I believe anyone would say that.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks, Lori. The one fell swoop is a quote from Shakespeare, and as a teacher Miss Bonney would definitely be familiar with it. Shakespearean quotes figure into the book later, also.

amber said...

i like it. i'm interested and as far as i can tell the historical voice remains true. and i can totally see this little girl and her teacher during this little exchange

Susan Oloier said...

I love the suspense your first 250 words create. I did read in a well-known, agent-written book to never start with dialogue. Is there a way to start with Miss Bonney turning left into a long gallery, then move to your opening dialogue? I love getting a sense of place first.
Would love to read more!

Unknown said...

Ooooh creepy. The last line grabbed me by the throat and gave me chills. And I totally admire Olivia for sticking to her guns and defending herself. Clear character and conflict setup. So intriguing!

Also, why HAVEN'T we read each other's stuff? We should exchange sometime!

erica m. chapman said...

Ooo a ghost story! I love it already ;o) Intriguing start! Good description ;o)

Carol J. Garvin said...

This opens well. I definitely wanted to keep reading. I was surprised to find the character is only ten, however. The dialogue and internalizing seems to come from someone significantly older. I see by an earlier comment that she is 17 later in the story, but in this opening section I can't visualize a ten year old at all. There's good conflict and the suggestion of a very interesting story. I like how you write. :)

Good luck in the contest.

Trisha said...

This is a great beginning indeed. I'm curious about why she's being taken to this forbidden wing - and what she'll find in there.

Debra Gray-Elliott said...

Stopping by from the blogfest. No complaints here. LOVE IT!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Love this - I'm a sucker for starting with action like this. I can feel the tension and the foreboding feeling:)

Kalen O'Donnell said...

Well its a good thing you don't need my critiques because I don't have any for you, lol. I loved it, great voice and hook. Good job!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Wow, I logged on today to find even more comments! I guess I'm not the only one to need a few days to get through all these posts.

Thanks for the feedback and support, everyone!

Christina Mercer said...

This is such a great beginning "hook" for your story. Lots of tension and intrigue. What horrors lay behind that door!? (of I already know cuz I've gotten to read the whole story ;-))

Christie Koester said...

Sounds great! Good luck!!!

Ellen said...

Read this one before from AW, but I like it! Did you change it a bit? Seems more concise now; it flows very fast, which is great :)

Charity Bradford said...

Angelica, thanks for coming by my blog. I'm in the same boat and am now trying to at least return the favor.

You have a great start here. I love that she isn't afraid of the shades and then at the end of the piece there is something that feel ominous. It really adds to the tension.

I don't really have anything to pick at. Great start!

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