Tell How You Broke A Bone and Win a Book!

Writer and Blogger extraordinaire, Lydia Sharp, is hosting a fantastically fun contest over on her blog.

(Click here for contest rules and to enter)

Have you ever broken a bone? Seen anyone else break one?

Simply tell the story (extra points for adding humor) in 300 words or less and you’ll be eligible to win Hannah Moskowitz’s debut novel, BREAK.

Contest ends in two days so hurry!

Writing Contest News!

Lydia Sharp generously hosted a writing contest over on her blog, The Sharp Angle. Writers sent in their first 500 words of their WIP and Lydia would pick the best one.

Oh, and she also offered A FREE CRITIQUE of those 500 words!

As you can imagine, she was quickly flooded with entries. Here are the stats (I took this directly from her blog)

Total Entries: 83
At 500-ish words per entry, that is 41,500+ words read and analyzed in my “free time”, in less than two weeks.

Yep, she created a monster with this contest!

And I am pleased beyond words to have been chosen as an “Honorable Mention”.

Lydia has mentioned she may consider doing this contest again sometime this summer so get your first 500 polished and ready to go, because she gives a seriously awesome critique!

Here is my critique from Lydia… (Her critique is in bold and at times she underlined my work for emphasis)

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Every week Kate stood on the same front porch, her hand poised inches from the door, willing herself to finally do the unthinkable—walk away without knocking. However, during the hesitation, her courage inevitably fled. {nice tension}

            Wednesdays were a long-standing tradition, and one she couldn’t disrupt.

            Steeling herself for what she would endure over the next two hours, Kate rapped her knuckles against the door. Familiar footsteps clicked toward the other side of the entry and she forced a smile as the door opened to reveal an overdressed, overfed, overbearing woman. {love how you used repetition in that description. beautiful.}

           “Katherine Davis, how dare you appear at my doorstep looking like some commoner? Get that bonnet on your head this instant!”

            Her smile faded. “Yes, Aunt Victoria.”

            Kate pulled the velvet cage over the her mass of auburn hair secured in a knot at the nape of her neck, knowing full well she’d only remove it after stepping across the threshold. {I can feel her frustration here. very well done.}Under the guise of propriety, her aunt had tortured her for years.

            From etiquette during afternoon tea to running a household, Aunt Victoria enforced her opinions over Kate’s every move. Recently she’d expanded her teachings to include the fine art of manipulating men. Snaring a husband was the ultimate goal.

            Kate followed the perfume cloud into the parlor. {another excellent description} Cream and gold wallpaper, the best her father’s money could buy, adorned each wall. Marble-topped tables stood between overstuffed chairs and a matching sofa. Polished mahogany frames held paintings of stern men and sweeping mountain ranges. A buffet displayed a china tea set adorned with red roses.

            Taking a seat on the sole wooden chair in the room, Kate prepared for the upcoming interrogation. The bitter spinster didn’t disappoint.

           “I assume your servants are behaving better after my lecture last week?”

           After discovering muddy footprints on the front porch during an unannounced visit, her aunt had lined up the household staff and disparaged each and every one. Three left the room in tears, and one quit on the spot. {oh my}

            Kate merely nodded.

           “Good. They have to learn to serve their betters with more respect.”

            Kate poured herself a cup of tea and reached to add {I would just say added here; the act of reaching isn’t necessarily important} a small pastry to her plate. It was early morning, but she’d already been up for hours without breakfast.

            “Don’t take too many sweets. They’ll ruin your figure.” Ignoring her own advice, Aunt Victoria placed three on her own plate and then settled back against the upholstered sofa. {love this!} “Did you enjoy the Ladies Society meeting about the new library?”

            “I didn’t attend.”

             At this, her aunt’s tone hardened. “Securing an invitation required delicate negotiations among the most influential women of this town. Your position in society is not guaranteed, Katherine, so I trust you have a good reason for embarrassing me—again.”

            Undaunted, Kate met the narrowed eyes with ease. “I needed to review a contract and finalize the monthly profits and losses.”

            Wrinkled hands flew into the air with dramatic frustration—a gesture that would have been far more impressive had Kate not seen it nearly every week. The familiar rant began, as always, with an exaggerated sigh.

           “It’s a wonder I even bother with you anymore. As for your father, he should have hired a bookkeeper long ago instead of forcing the task upon his only daughter.”

I would definitely keep reading. Your depiction of character is superb, and the tension here is constant. And, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m in love with your use of description.

I really feel like I’m living in this scene and I honestly care what happens to Kate. You’ve made me feel real concern for her in just a few pages.

So well done, Christi. I should be asking you to critique my work, not vice versa. Seriously. 

Thanks again, and good luck with this!

Guest Post: Lydia Sharp

Today marks my 100th post on this blog.

For my 50th post I had my husband host  and to celebrate today’s spectacular milestone I’ve asked blogger extraordinaire, Lydia Sharp, to host.

Lydia and I met last December when we both won a coveted guest hosting spot on the blog, Pimp My Novel. Her article, Ideas that Sell Are Not Always Groundbreaking, showcased her immense talent so of course I wanted her for my 100th post!

And now, without further ado, here’s Lydia…

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

I was an extremely shy child, all the way through high school. My mother, I remembered, used to tell stories about how wild she’d been in her younger years. This wasn’t difficult for me to imagine because, in her older years, she didn’t seem to be any less wild, or any more wise, just… older. The middle daughter of three (I have an older brother as well, but for the sake of the female reference here, we won’t count him), I am the one that most resembles my mother. But, obviously, I’d been blessed with my father’s socially awkward personality.

This posed a problem for me growing up. I had striking physical features (voted “best eyes” in sixth grade, just saying) without the typical flamboyance to bring me to my full potential, which is, of course, the ability to get whatever I want, as my mother (usually) did.

Her cure for this was to force me into situations where I had to speak up. This, of course, terrified me to tears, or sometimes just made me freeze, like a possum playing dead, hoping she would feel sorry for me and take over the task, whatever it happened to be. And, as I can see when I look back on it now, these were not overly-complicated things she’d ask me to do. They were all simple, such as going up to the fast-food counter to ask for a drink refill.

Still, there were times when I just couldn’t do it. And I’ll never forget the words she said to me one day while I sat across from her at a table, staring into her big brown doe eyes that looked just like mine except for their color. She said, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

So I did. And from that day on, that was all I had to tell myself to get the job done.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had major issue with speaking up and/or defending myself when necessary. And, even as an adult who now has no trouble ordering food from a drive-through window or face-to-face with a waiter, I still want to vomit at the thought of giving a public address of some sort. But if I need to, I will. I feel the fear and do it anyway.

By this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with writing. Well, actually, it has nothing to do with writing, and everything to do with rejection. Yep. The R word. The word that can single-handedly make an otherwise talented writer give up on the craft altogether, or question his/her well-practiced skills to the point of destroying their hard work. Or, the most common, is that pesky little R word makes perfectly nice people turn into industry-hating monsters. “Down with the system!” they cry, when what they’re really thinking is, “Why aren’t I good enough?”

That, my friends, is a question that I liken to a coconut (odd, I know, but just hear me out). Coconuts are delicious, are they not? But have you ever tried to crack one open? It takes time, a great deal of effort, and an analyzation of technique that involves trial and error until you finally succeed. So when you ask yourself, “Why aren’t I good enough?” you’re trying to crack this coconut, and it’s damn hard to get it open, but once you do, the pay-off is downright scrumptious.

I’m coming up on my two-year anniversary of when I started writing toward publication, which isn’t that long, really, when you think about it. But I would attribute at least some of my small success to constantly trying to crack that coconut. How can I improve? What can I do to make this better? Or, when I’m sure a story is great, but still getting rejections, I ask, Am I pitching this to the right people?

That last one is probably the toughest, and is what makes this business so frustrating at times. Market research helps but we can’t read people’s minds, and we can’t control what other submissions they are receiving at the same time as ours. And this is why many in the industry say that getting published or “making it big” is a result of luck.

Luck? No. I refuse to believe that.

It’s easy to say that things come about for intangible reasons when you can’t see everything that has led up to it, the “behind the scenes”, so to speak. From an outside standpoint, it certainly does give the impression that someone is an overnight success, but I know that’s not the case, because I’m currently living those “behind the scenes” moments that no one else sees.

As of the time I’m writing this, May 2010, five months into the year, I have zero acceptances on my short story submissions. Zero. And every last one of those rejection letters threatens to drag me into a writer’s worst nightmare, the pit of Non-Writing Hell, or the Let’s Give Up Writing For Life Club, and those are both scary, scary places to be.

Even scarier, though, is getting up the nerve to throw yourself in front of the firing squad again by sending out more submissions, because every rejection you add to your pile is like another twist of the knife in your heart of dreams. I prefer to view them as notches in my belt, or rites of passage, telling myself, I’ve gotten this far, I’ve earned these heartaches, and I’m still standing on the ground, I haven’t fallen, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Sometimes that isn’t good enough, though. Sometimes all I can tell myself is, Feel the fear and do it anyway. So I do. And so far, it’s worked; I’m still going. This is not an insurmountable task we writers are striving to accomplish, and as long as you keep trying, you never truly fail.