Monday, September 10, 2012

Entry #26

Name: Natasha Hawkins
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Tagline: 1.76 seconds. The time it takes seventeen-year-old Abigail Montgomery to plunge forty feet to almost certain death. 1.52 seconds. The time it takes her Watcher to pull her from its clutches.

1st 250 Words:
Here lies Abigail Montgomery. Devoted daughter. Sister. Dog-lover.

At least, that’s what I worry will be chiseled into the grave marker above my eternal resting place if I’m not careful. If my emotions get the best of me.

A musical sound tangles through the sea breeze and floats into my ear. “Don’t jump,” it says. A warm stir of air seals its plea against my temple like a set of pulsating lips laced with honeysuckle and citrus.

 “I won’t,” I whisper aloud, even though there’s not another living person on this deserted pier. The same pier at La Paz Beach that Gram and I would buy caramel popcorn each summer I came to visit Santa Flora. 

Carefully, I cross over the railings that are designed to keep people from accidently falling over the edge, and white knuckle the wood rail behind me. There is no false protection in front of me now. In fact, there’s nothing but the murky black of an unrelenting ocean; the dark, swirling water forty feet below taunting me. 

But I didn’t come here to jump. No. Death is the last thing I want. I came to the pier to remember Gram. To honor her memory. To feel close to her.

A residual warmness still lingers in the briny air despite the sun dipping below the horizon hours ago. Sorrow fills me as I think of the sun. Even though I can still feel my grandmother's love like the sun’s faithful warmth, unlike my Gram the sun will return in the morning, spread its arms and embrace the world with its comforting rays. Gram will not.


  1. I'm still a bit confused about what your novel is about. The tagline (which I'd shorten...maybe something like "Sometimes the difference between life and death is just .24 seconds." (I know that's not great..that was just off the top of my head) seems to indicate she either tries to kill herself or falls.

    250 words:
    While your language is beautiful, at times it got almost too flowery for much so that I had a difficult time following what you were actually trying to say amidst all the adjectives and imagery tacked on.

    Last "warmness" a word? And two sentences later you use "warmth" anyway..maybe another word in place of one of them?

    I'd also like to learn more about your MC in the first 250. I'd like to become more invested in her so I want to keep reading. I felt like I was hearing more about her Gram than her. Does she know who she is talking to in the beginning? Does she think she is imagining it? Does she even realize she answered? I'd like to have an idea about that (or even a hint).

    I think you have a good voice, and I'm interested to see where you take this.

    1. My tagline is really just a "hook"...I guess I didn't intend for it to tell exactly what the story is about.

      Here is what I could've/should've/would've put:

      Like most people, Abigail Montgomery has always had a Watcher—a trained guardian angel sent from Nevaeh—assigned to look after her. Unlike most people, she knows it. But, it's not until her seventeenth birthday—the day her grandmother dies—and she jumps thirty feet to almost certain death that she needs him.

    2. I like that one much better. :)

      Your writing is beautiful. I would cut "if I'm not careful." She doesn't sound like she is being careful. I'd also only refer to the grandmother as Gram, it sounds more teen like.

  2. I loved the tagline. I agree with Jodie above that it's a little confusing, but I think that that's an easy thing to fix with just a short intro and a little line edit, like: "In EVENING STAR, a YA urban fantasy, it takes 1.76 seconds for seventeen-year-old Abigail Montgomery to plunge forty feet to almost certain death. It takes only 1.52 seconds for Watcher to pull her from its clutches."

    That example doesn't have quite as much pizazz as yours did! I did love how you originally wrote it, though, and maybe you can use your pizzazz-y tagline for certain submissions and another more explanatory one (like my suggestion) for times when you need to be more explicit. The only thing I'd keep an eye out for are the pronouns in the last clause. The double appearance of the word "her" and the use of the word "its" were a little clunky. I'd fix those and then you're good to go! Great job!

  3. I loved loved loved your tagline. That's why I read your post. But I thought your 250 words were trying slightly too hard to be poetic. Some of it was really good, but it's hard for me to connect with her character when I'm trying to picture all that beauty and sadness in my head. Sometimes keeping things a little bit simple is the way to go.

    Good luck!

  4. Thanks SO much for the comments. I appreciate ALL the feedback.

    I do need to watch my pronouns!

    I'm a huge fan of Emily Dickinson and English Lit, so I do tend to get too poetic at times. I have since gone back and re-vamped my first 250 words to make the scene more clear and simple. Not all of the novel is written that way...I guess I was trying to convey the sadness--and beauty of the memory of her grandmother (like Amanda said)--and went a bit overboard. Thanks for bringing me back into the boat!!

  5. I loved the tagline. It hooked me enough to want to read the 250. Sure, I didn't really have a full appreciated for what the novel was about, but it hooked me and that's all that matters, right? Well done.

    I had one concern with the first 250. The first time you mention Gram, I thought it might be a love interest. I got to thinking, "this girl is going to jump because her boyfriend dumped her." Then you used the word "her" and I'm thinking, "is the girl gay?" Finally I realized gram = grandmother... duh! I don't know why this was so confusing, but it was. So I went back and read from the beginning and I realized I couldn't even tell if the narrator was a girl or a boy. I knew it was a girl because I had already read the tagline, but otherwise I wouldn't have known.

    So perhaps clean up those two things.

    And one other minor quibble. The word carefully. Can you replace the adverb with more description? I know some ly words are OK, but I think in the opening scene it would be better to eliminate them and use this as an opportunity to show how your character interacts with their environment.

    Thanks for sharing!

    (entry #21)

    1. Thanks for the input, Ella! In the first line of my 250 I say, "Here lies Abigail Montgomery. Devoted daughter. Sister. Dog-lover." Other than that, I guess I don't give a lot of other clues that she is a girl. I will go back and describe her so that it is more clear. Thanks for the feedback. It's important to know what is going through the mind of a reader. I appreciate your time!

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  7. Btw....I just wanted to clarify...I think your premise is fantastic, and if anything, that's why I tried to be a bit more specific on offering my opinions on anything to reconsider. I know I personally appreciate even when people tell me that kind of thing instead of just "I really liked it" Or "not for me" helps me to look at it from other viewpoints. But if I came across snarky, I apologize.

    When I brought up about the tagline, it's because I was taught that taglines were to be short..usually no more than about 8-12 words or so and are just more of a marketing phrase. LOGLINES on the other hand are different, they are a sentence or two that tell more of the plot. But I DID like what you had, and if I am off on how long they are supposed to be...then by all means...ignore me. I'm certainly no expert! =) I would greatly appreciate anyone's advice/critiques back..because I know I can use them! =)

    1. Thanks so much, Jodie. You're advice was very helpful. I also appreciate specific comments and welcome all critiques! And no, I didn't think you were snarky at all!! Actually, I believe you are right about taglines and longlines. I'm still a novice when it comes to all of this, but that sounds right.

      And, really, I think what I revised for my tagline in my previous reply to your other post would be considered a LOGLINE. Boy, will I ever get this right? haha =)