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Title: Length, Draft and Language: Brief Summary: Sub Genre & Keywords: Known Issues: Critique Requested: Critique Tolerance: Experience & Goals: Method of Communication: Anything else? Excerpt/Link: (1500 words or less.)
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Length, Draft and Language: Currently at 51,000, but still working on it, English Brief Summary: Matt, a young college student, is left homeless after an apartment fire. He is offered a place by Steve, his boss and owner/operator of a local bakery. Matt is surprised to meet the other colorful characters in Steve’s life. The story follows the six friends as they navigate different challenges in their lives. Love, loss, aging, family, identity, birth, and death. Steve, Baltazar, Matt, VIc, Patrick, and Sadie have all been turned aside by their families of origin and come together to form their own family of choice. Sub Genre & Keywords: Romance, m/m, f/f, light BDSM Known Issues: story isn't quite finished, I'm working on a few scenes and filling some gaps Critique Requested: spelling, grammar, flow, general notes Critique Tolerance: I'm ok with constructive criticism. Experience & Goals: I've done some short stories and fan-fic, but this is my first big work. Not sure about my goals. Method of Communication: email or NaNo Anything else? Please note subject matter! It's not wall-to-wall sex scenes, but the ones that are in there are significant. Excerpt/Link: (1500 words or less.)
Matt hitched up his backpack as he reached the landing and took a couple of steadying breaths. His lungs still felt a bit weak, even if the nurse who had discharged him claimed that he was ‘as good as new’. He could still feel the smoke deep in his chest. With another deep breath to gather courage, he reached out and knocked on the blue painted door. He waited a long moment, shifting his weight from foot to foot, adjusting his grip on his duffelbag. Should he knock again? He wondered. How long was it polite to wait before giving a second knock? Especially at 4:30 in the morning. What was the protocol? He shifted nervously. Was Steve expecting him today? Would he already be awake? Had he forgotten? Matt looked around the little alcove, back down the stairs. What if Steve wasn’t home? What should he do? Sit here and wait? Go down to the shop? Maybe Steve was already at work. He did say come to the apartment, didn’t he? Should he go back to the hospital? He could feel the anxiety building at the back of his neck. A bead of sweat traced down his spine to the waist of his jeans. There was no backup plan. If Steve hadn’t offered to let him stay, Matt wouldn’t have anywhere to go. Except, well, except move back to Ohio. Which would mean dropping out of school. Another failure, listening to his parents’ lectures about his choices… He shook himself free, took another breath. Ordering himself to calm down, he reached out to knock again, a bit louder this time. Then, thankfully, he heard an answering movement behind the door. And a few seconds later, the sound of someone fumbling with the deadbolt. He was so relieved that he was prepared to throw himself into Steve’s arms. He smiled as the door opened. “Oh man, I thought you’d…” He trailed off, mouth hanging open. The man blinking sleepily at him from inside the apartment was not his short, middle-aged boss. No. Most certainly not. Matt’s brain practically short circuited as he got an eyeful of a good-looking stranger with rumpled black hair and a long, lean torso. Wearing blue flannel sleep pants. And nothing else. They each stood staring for a moment, until the mystery man quirked up an eyebrow and said, “Well, good morning.” He gave the greeting a wry, almost flirty humor. Matt was quite sure that he blushed from the roots of his hair to the soles of his feet. “Ohmygawd! I am so sorry.” He gushed. “I thought that this was… I mean, Steve said…” The other man just grinned. “Steve, huh? Well, that explains that.” Even though Matt was sure he hadn’t explained anything. “Come on in.” He added, stepping back and opening the door wider. Was this Steve’s boyfriend? Or just… what? Was it some weird joke? Did Steve even live here? Or had he just sent him to a friend’s place? Surely he would have mentioned that, right? Matt stood frozen as his mind sputtered. Until the stranger spoke again. “Come on. I don’t bite.” He invited Matt in with a small jerk of his head and a friendly smile. Matt blinked at him and finally started moving forward. The man leaned around him to close the door, then turned and placed a gentle hand on Matt’s back to usher him in. Through his embarrassment, Matt did notice how good he smelled, and the sleepy warmth radiating from him. “Go ahead and put your things down here.” He gestured toward a small bench in the entryway. His voice was low and smooth; Matt was reminded of a great cat, like Sher Khan from the Jungle Book movie he remembered from his childhood. They were still so close in the entryway, the sound practically rumbled down his spine. Matt shook himself a little and deposited all of his worldly possessions. He sighed a bit to see how little it was. His host shot him another half smile, the left side of his mouth pulling up enough to produce a dimple on his cheek. He steered Matt over to a kitchen area with a light touch, again on his lower back. “So what do you need most? Food, shower, or bed?” He asked, gesturing at a barstool as he rounded the kitchen island. “Are you another early riser?” He asked, mock accusingly. Matt became aware that he hadn’t said a word to this very nice stranger. He must look like a total idiot. “No, not really.” He finally stuttered. “I mean...” He sat down on the stool and mentally shook himself into gear. “I mean, I’m not really an early riser. Not usually. Not until I got this job.” This earned him another dimple-popping grin as the man began pulling things out to make coffee. Matt watched his long-fingered hands as he filled the glass pot with water, inserted the filter, and measured ground beans into the drip basket. “Not… not that I mind getting up early. You know.” Matt continued. “I really like the job. I’m learning a lot about baking. And Steve’s great. A great boss.” He babbled to a close. “Yeah.” There was an answering chuckle. “He’s a pretty great guy.” There was a great warmth and fondness in his voice. He finished with the machine and clicked the switch that set the water gurgling. He turned back to Matt and held out a hand. “I’m Baltazar, by the way.” Matt reached forward reflexively to shake hands. “Baltazar?” “Baltazar Wilde Adams.” The handshake was delightful and strong and over far too quickly. “That’s a heck of a name. I’m just Matt. Matt Preschel.”
Title: Cake Language Length, Draft and Language: 50,452, 1st draft, English Brief Summary: Mugetsu is a baker trying to make ends meet and just trying to live his life. Over the past couple of months he notices a strange man coming in everyday and staring at him. One day while emptying the tip jar, the man finally introduces himself. There is a slight problem though, mystery man, Lumiere is mute. These two get to experience the hardship of a language barrier as well as the hardship of being an openly gay couple, but who ever said love was easy? Sub Genre & Keywords: m/m, homosexual, romance, hardship, discovery Known Issues: I have never written a story like this, so I'm aware it might be rough. Critique Requested: How can the plot be improved? Is the character development okay? How can I improve my continuity? (Anything you would like to comment on as an extra is fine too!) Critique Tolerance: I can take some harsh criticism, but more constructive criticism would be much appreciated. Experience & Goals: This is my first novel. I've written short stories and things for the Young Author's competitions in the past, but this is my longest one. I would eventually liked to publish this novel. Method of Communication: Email works with me or snail mail! Anything else? Some language, small hate crime, sexual content, homosexuality Excerpt/Link:
It was a few days after my last attempt when it happened. I had just put the finishing touches on a birthday cake for one of our regular customers when I felt the hair-raising stare bore into me. I reached for a box and couldn’t stop myself from meeting his gaze. The man’s face spread into a pleasant smile as he raised his hand and shook it back and forth; a wave.
Struck by the first attempt at communication from the man, I numbly waved back, my eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Why did he wave? I wanted to slap myself with the cake box now held in my hand. Waving isn’t something that should be questioned; he’s just trying to be friendly.
When I rationalized this, my nerves disappeared; I was being ridiculous.
I took that thought back the next month. I was emptying the tip jar to divide amongst the workers when the man walked over and put a twenty right into my hand. My mouth dropped and I gazed in bewilderment at the generous donation.
My face burned at the note he had skillfully placed in my hand. Beautiful calligraphy stretched in neat lines across the little paper.
“Money cannot buy love, but your sweets work quite nicely. How do you pronounce, ‘Mugetsu’? Your lovely admirer, Lumiere Bero”
The man who had all but stalked me now had a name for his face: Lumiere Bero. Granted, it was a beautiful sounding name for the handsome man, but that wasn’t important.
My eyes narrowed and my lips pursed. “It’s pronounced ‘Moo-get-sue’, Mr. Bero,” I said calmly. He smiled happily and wrote down a message on a scrap of paper he pulled clumsily from his pocket.
He slid it over to me and I read the message: “Just ‘Lumiere’ is fine, Mugetsu. If it isn’t too forward of me to ask, would you be interested in accompanying me in a cup of hot chocolate?”
I sputtered uselessly at the note. A date? Three months of nerve-racking staring and stress over a date? All I knew of this man was his name and his flirting abilities, which were better than anyone’s attempts beforehand. What would we talk about? But Lumiere hadn’t talked yet, and while his handwriting was beautiful it would boost his chances if he actually asked me out loud. Though, maybe he was sick.
“We don’t even know each other,” I started, not looking him in the eye, but instead at the tip jar. “Besides, shouldn’t a date wait until you’re well again? I don’t really want your cold.”
Lumiere’s brow furrowed in confusion before his eyes widened. He pulled the scrap piece of paper back over to him and scribbled a quick message before handing it back to me looking sheepish.
The message as a simple one, but its contents shook me. In neat script, two words were written: “I’m mute.”
Now, I don’t know about you but I have never met a mute person in my life. Granted, I knew I shouldn’t yell at him in an obnoxious voice like other ignorant people, but other than that I was lost. How do you respond to that?
“Oh,” was my intelligent reply. He smiled nervously at me, trying to gage my words from my face. Trying to salvage my intelligence I continued. “Well, I’ll be sure to bring a notebook on our date then.”
I have never seen someone’s face break in such a beautiful way as Lumiere’s did. He smiled with his whole being, cheeks dimpling, eyes crinkling, body relaxing; it was one of the most perfect things I had ever seen. Look at me, not even gone on a date with him yet and I was already waxing love poems about him like some preteen crush.
after my last attempt when it happened - you need to explain what you mean by last attempt.
I took that thought back the next month - I don't understand when this is - back the previous month or forward to the next month
at the note he had skillfully placed in my hand - need better word or explanation, I don't understand how it was skillfully placed.
had all but stalked me now - seems too big of a jump to go from a friendly wave to stalking. Use less strong word than stalking
Three months of nerve-racking staring and stress - You only mentioned one month of waving. If this was three months of flirting, try opening with stranger handing the note, flash back to the previous waving, then forward to continue to read note.
Overall this feels rushed. We need more details so we can picture the scene in our minds. Suggestions: smell of bakery, actions to decorate cake, how are you feeling - rushed, tired?, quick description of man, etc.
Overall, the narrator seems very young and naive. The stranger seems older, more educated, more sophisticated. If this is intended, keep going.
This is a great first draft. It's so awesome you got to 50 K! Congrats!!!! Keep going!!!! Good luck!!!!! Get to the end with a bang!
Title: (working on a few ideas) Length, Draft and Language: 322 pages. on draft 2 ish. Brief Summary: I'm terrible with summaries - In an attempt to spice up her mundane life, Marissa begins acting again and lands a small role in a major motion picture. On set she meets the devilishly handsome Andrew Reed who soon sets his sights on her. Amidst struggling to keep from falling for his charms she is hit with the news that her best friend is being abused by her husband and conspires to help her escape. Will she be able to resist Andrew and keep her friend safe from further harm? Sub Genre & Keywords: Romance, thriller, Known Issues: I'm sure there is a lot of fluff in the story that does not need to be there. Some repetition, and probably some grammatical errors still. I have done a first edit, removed some stuff, checked for spelling and grammar, and made sure the time line works. Critique Requested: Does the story flow? What could be removed? Is it even interesting enough to put more effort into it to polish it up? Critique Tolerance: I'm thick skinned and friends will not tell you something sucks. If the story is worth the effort I want to make it shine, so lay the critique on me! Experience & Goals: I've written short stories, wrote for the college newspaper, and even dabbled in a few short scripts. This is my first full length novel. Method of Communication: email, whatever ... Anything else? There is a little harsh language and I may have stepped over the erotica line once. (just once I swear!) Excerpt/Link:
It was spring, or at least that is what the calendar proclaimed. Dormant trees, dead grass, and the colors gray and brown that paint the surroundings certainly did not insinuate spring to me though. Personally I think the word spring a romanticized lie to give hope to New Englanders that sequentially warmer weather and blue skies will arrive shortly.
I yearned for the enormous green fan like leaves of the towering queen palm trees covered in hanging moss idly soaking up the mid-day sun. Those trees never really provided much shade at all, but it was the kind of beauty I grew up with in Florida, never changing from season to season. I had to constantly remind myself that there were several prominent reasons I left the state to begin with. Monotony was a bore anyway right, who wanted summer year round?
Boston was a city that offered me a new life, handed me a sufficiently paying job and a cozy three bedroom home to call my own. It also captured that small part of me that loved to indulge in history.
I had walked the painted footpath that marked the freedom trail, the same one that Paul Revere rode out on that faithful night on the eighteenth of April in 1775. I had visited the Old North Church that hung the lanterns of which signaled his ride. The beautiful old statehouse built in the Georgian style architecture sat in the heart of the city and was a major stop along the freedom trail. I could imagine gathering around it in 1776, where large modern glass buildings now stand, to listen to the Declaration of Independence being read from the white washed balcony. Faunal Hall, which to this day still houses market stalls for small successful vendors, boasted its significance in the revolution as a meeting hall for patriots to gather and discuss the stamp act and other British laws. No Taxation without Representation came from this second story meeting hall.
I would imagine myself laced up in my corset and bustled dress, strolling through the town while I walked the historic cobblestone State Street to work. I always wondered though, were the women of the early days as cold as I was now walking to and from work and the train stop? They had to have worn several more layers than I could even imagine.
I sat with my chin in my hand counting down the minutes till quitting time trying to appear as if I was concentrating on the spreadsheet in front of me. In actuality I was trying to keep my mind occupied. Was it my imagination or did the clock actually stop working? The hands on the clock began to sway into pictures of ocean waves and the numbers appeared as a flock of seagulls in front of me.
Outside the rain swirled between the building of my office and the next. It had been raining like this for three days strait without a reprieve.
It was spring, or at least that is what the calendar proclaimed. The Dormant trees, dead grass, and grays and browns of my the surroundings certainly did not insinuate spring to me, though. Personally, I believed the word spring to be a romanticized lie created to give New Englanders the hope that sequentially warmer weather and blue skies would arrive shortly.
I yearned for the enormous, green, fan-like leaves of the towering queen palm trees, covered in hanging moss, idly soaking up the mid-day sun. Those trees never really provided much shade at all, but it was the kind of beauty I grew up with in Florida, where the seasons never changed. I had to constantly remind myself that there were several prominent reasons I left the state to begin with. Monotony was a bore, anyway. Right? Who wanted summer year round?
I tried the edits to show up as red, but it didn't work. I'm also not sure, but it could be "who wants summer year round?" as the narrator is taking a break almost from the story and the character is thinking to themselves. Something like, "Who wants summer year round?" I wondered. or I thought.
"Who wants summer year round?" I wondered to myself, or I thought.
So I continued with edits:
Boston had offered me a new life, handed me a well- paying job and a cozy three bedroom home to call my own. It had also captured that small part of me that loved to indulge in history.
I had walked the painted footpath that marked the freedom trail, the same one that Paul Revere rode out on that faithful night on the eighteenth of April in 1775. I had visited the Old North Church that hung the lanterns which signaled his ride. The beautiful old statehouse built in the Georgian style architecture sat in the heart of the city and was a major stop along the freedom trail. I could imagine gathering around it in 1776, where large modern glass buildings now stood, listening to the Declaration of Independence being read from the white washed balcony. Faunal Hall, which to this day still houses market stalls for small successful vendors, boasted its significance in the revolution as a meeting hall for patriots to gather and discuss the stamp act and other British laws. No Taxation without Representation came from this second story meeting hall.
I imagined myself laced up in my corset and bustled dress, strolling through the town while I walked the historic cobblestone State Street to work. I always wondered though, were the women of the early days as cold as I now was now walking to and from work and the train stop? They had to have worn several more layers than I could even imagine.
I sat with my chin in my hand counting down the minutes till quitting time trying to appear as if I was concentrating on the spreadsheet in front of me. In actuality, I was trying to keep my mind occupied. Was it my imagination or did the clock actually stop working? The hands on the clock began to sway into pictures of ocean waves and the numbers appeared as a flock of seagulls in front of me.
Outside, the rain swirled between the building of my office and the next. It had been raining like this for three days strait without a reprieve.
the colors gray and brown that paint the surroundings certainly did not insinuate spring to me though. - leave out that paint the surroundings and I'm not thrilled with the word insinuate.
The beautiful old statehouse built in the Georgian style architecture sat in the heart of the city and was a major stop stop along the freedom trail. - this is a fragment to fix. Either add to previous sentence with edits or include verb. Some fragments are OK, but this isn't.
I always wondered though, were the women of the early days - confusing - needs punctuation change maybe?? I always wondered though: were the women
between the building of my office - between my office building
for three days strait without - for three days straight without
I'm still a little confused by the second paragraph. First line says you yearn for palm trees, but then monotony is a bore. It seems conflicting - you miss home is one thought, and don't miss the bore of year-round summer.
Need to punch it up - too much description and not enough showing me a story. There's no incentive to keep reading because all the reader really knows is it's dreary spring.in Boston, she's from Florida, and she's bored at work somewhere and for some reason. Give me some meat to chew on now and entice me to read further. Mentioning love of history is OK, but put the freedom trail description later on.
So think about her motivation to be in Boston, what is job, what is her plan, is she disappointed in more than the weather and why, etc. Put in details that really give a vivid picture to the reader in as few words as possible. How can reader relate to this storyteller?
Something like: The endless summers of Florida had frustrated me, but compared to this dreary spring in Boston, it was heaven. I was counting down the minutes till quitting time because _______. Had the clock actually stop working? It's hands began to sway into pictures of ocean waves and the numbers appeared as a flock of seagulls in front of me. Man, did I miss Florida! (Or whatever is important to know.)
BTW - for me, my first page is always my worst;I rewrite it about twenty times before it's even close to what it needs to be. YOU CAN DO IT!
Congrats on 300 + pages!! Keep going! Keep editing and don't get frustrating by the words you take out because you are probably making the words you keep in stronger and more succinct. Best of luck to you!!
Thanks Nelle, this is the same feedback I've gotten from a few people. I've deleted about 90% of my first chapter and created a new one. It's almost a completely different story due to all the changes that went along with the new first chapter haha. My goal page range is high 200's so I've got plenty of room to chop. I'm down to 314.
Title: One Night Length, Draft and Language: 71,006 words, 224 pages, 1st draft Brief Summary:Best friends. One a protector and the other the protected. They are in love, but it isn’t until an embarrassing end to two failed marriages that what they feel comes to light. Now that they are finally together it becomes clear that their attachment to each other, may not be a healthy one. Has she ever really come to terms with her past? Has his overprotectiveness prevented her from finding closure? Can they fix themselves so they can find the happy ending they always wanted? Sub Genre & Keywords: Romance, Drama Known Issues: this is my first draft so I don't know yet Critique Requested: How does the story flow? Are their any holes I didn't plug? Does it need something? Need less of something? Critique Tolerance: Bring it! I want to hear it all! Experience & Goals: This is my first full length novel Method of Communication: email works best. Anything else? This is an Adult Romance novel, so please keep that in mind before choosing this book. RATED R Excerpt/Link:
He was mad! This wasn't fair! Why did he have to share his room with some stupid girl?
He hated girls. They were gross, and they didn't like to play in the mud or watch speed racer. Why was his Mommy being so mean to him? Usually, she was the bestest Mommy in the whole wide world, but right now he hated her. Well, he didn't hate her, but he was mad.
He was supposed to be a big boy and pick up his toys so his room wasn't messy when they got here. Instead, he was sitting in his dinosaur chair with his arms crossed, kicking his toys across the room. He didn't care if his room was dirty for SOME GIRL. He liked his room like this with his toys all out where he can play with them whenever he wanted without having to dig them out.
She was probably just like all the other girls in his class.
Wearing stupid pink fluffy stuff that was dumb.
She probably had all those dumb trolls with the weird hair, and the girly ponies too.
She'll want to play Barbies, and watch girlie cartoons.
She'll hate Transformers and G.I. Joe, he just knew it.
Stupid girls, didn't know what good toys and cartoons are. Maybe, he could just move out. He could live with Johnny across the street.
That would be so much fun. He loved it when Mommy let him stay overnight there. They got to stay up late and eat candy. Once, Johnny's Mommy let them take all the cushions off the couches, pillows, and blankets; and turn the whole basement into a fort. It was so COOL! If he moved over there then he wouldn't have to share his room with some stupid girl who wore pink and played with trolls and dolls!
He looked up when he heard his Mommy let out a breath at the door his room. She wasn't happy with him, but that was fine; he wasn't happy with her. But he hated when she was upset with him. One time she yelled at him for kicking his soccer ball in the house after he was told not to and it broke some picture frames. Mommy had been upset, and sent him to his room. He hoped she didn't yell at him now. He hated getting yelled at.
She didn't yell at him though. She crouched in front of him and gave him that look he knew meant she was upset with him. "Charlie", her voice didn't sound angry or upset at him, but he knew he wasn't in his room doing what he was told to do, so he knew his was in trouble. HE was mad, but he didn’t like being in trouble. He just looked at her. "Charlie, why are you not picking up your toys?"
"I don't want some stupid girl in my room!"
She let out a sigh as she studied him for a minute. "Charlie, do you remember what I said yesterday?"
His Mommy had told him last night that she was coming. Mommy had a talked with him about it forever, like 10 minutes long. Told him to be nice to her, and the she was hurt and wouldn't be able to play with him so he had to be careful.
He didn't care, he didn't want to play with a girl; he didn't want her in his room either. His Mommy told him that she was staying with them for awhile, but not forever and that she would sleep in his bed while she was here. The only cool thing about that, was that it meant he got to sleep in the top bed of his bunk. His Mommy usually only let his friends sleep up there, and he always loved it up there because it was SO HIGH!
"I don't care!"
"Charlie, I know you don't want to share your room, honey; but Sara is hurt and needs a little extra care. Can you, please be the big boy that I know you are, and help your Daddy and I to help her?"
Her voice grew more firm with him, it was the voice she used with him when he knew he didn't have a choice, "Charlie, she is staying in your room. Please, do as you’re told. I will make up the beds and you can pick up your toys so I can vacuum".
She folded her arms in front of her and said the words that told him he was going to be in real trouble, like the kind of trouble that meant he would lose things he liked. "Charles Daniel Ellison! Do you want me to tell your Father you’re not being a big boy?"
His eyes widened, but he wanted to say he didn’t care, but he did. He did care. His Daddy had promised to take him somewhere super cool this weekend if he helped his Mommy today and he wasn't doing what he said he would. If Daddy found out he wasn't helping Mommy, then he wouldn't get his special guy time with Daddy. The last special guy time he had, Daddy took him to a baseball game. There was hot dogs, lots of people screaming, and Daddy told him about running bases, sliding home, and what a fly ball was. He couldn't risk losing his special guy time. He loved his Mommy, but Mommy was girl and didn't like doing guy things, that's why Daddy said it was their special time because it was just the two of them.
"Fine!" he stood up and starting putting his toys away.
His Mommy gave him a small smile, "Thank you"
After the house was clean, Mommy made a chocolate cake for Sara. She said that girls always love chocolate, especially when they are hurting. He was a little mad that Mommy didn't make the cake for him, so he said that was stupid, but Mommy said he would be glad he knew that one day, and then she laughed.
When the doorbell rang later, Mommy made him sit in the kitchen. He didn’t like that, he could hear her talking to another lady and wanted to meet her. He couldn't make what was said, but she talked to her for a while. He knew he wasn't supposed to get up, but he couldn't help it; he didn’t like sitting in the kitchen by himself and Mommy never stayed at door this long.
Peaking around the corner, he saw a lady that was shorter than his Mommy, and dressed in what Mommy called winter clothes, that were dirty, which was weird because it wasn't even Halloween Month yet. She was shaking and crying, and had her hands on the shoulders of a ... a... well he wasn't sure she was a girl. She didn't look like the girls he went to 1st grade with. She had a cast on the arm he thought his Mommy said was the right arm, but he couldn't be sure. She didn't wear any pink fluffy dresses, just clothes like his only they were too big for her and had holes; his clothes were thrown out when he ripped holes in them. He couldn't see her face, all of her messy, inky black hair was covering it.
The lady bent down to face the girl like Mommy had to him earlier when he refused to pick his toys up. Only, she gave the girl a hug, and left.
Sara, Mommy told him her name was, never moved.
She didn't seem to want to move, and Mommy just stared at her with this look she got when Grandpa went to heaven. He didn't know what happened, but he didn't like it when his Mommy was sad. This girl looked sad too, and Mommy was trying to talk to her, but she wouldn't say anything.
Mommy said Sara was hurt.
Mommy said girls like chocolate when they’re hurt.
He didn't know why, because he hated girls, but he didn't want his Mommy and Sara sad.
So, he marched up to Sara and grabbed her hand that wasn't broke and tried to pull her to the kitchen. She jumped, and her face came out of her hair as she gasped and tried to pull away from him. He frowned, she looked like Johnny after he got into that fight with brother.
Did she get into a fight too?
It didn't matter, he decided, cake was in the kitchen.
"Come on," he said, as he moved behind her and forced her to walk to the kitchen, "Mommy, made chocolate cake to make you feel better"
Title: As Fierce A Flame Length, Draft and Language: 89,500 words, roughly 161 word.doc pages, English Brief Summary: Smuggling threatens the American navy's efforts to better the British on the waters of the Great Lakes. Navy officer Tanner Jacobs goes undercover at Emma Preston's father's shipbuilding company in upper New York. They butt heads and deny their attraction until the war heats up and forces them to choose what is most important to them. But with the battle about to begin, will they have another chance to let their hearts be free? Sub Genre & Keywords: Historical Romance; War of 1812 Known Issues: too much history? not enough sex? Terrible style? I've read a gajillion novels in my day and I think I'm on track, but hey, that's just me. Critique Requested: Style, tone, pace, whatever comes to mind Critique Tolerance: Right in the gut. I can take it. Come at me bro. Experience & Goals: I'm a first-time writer, this is my first novel, but I plan to continue to write regardless of whether this 'novel' gets anywhere; I want to have my work published someday. Definitely. Method of Communication: email please Anything else? I'm not under any illusions of grandeur here,but I believe I have a talent and want to hone it. Excerpt/Link: (1500 words or less.)
By the first week of October, the leaves on the trees around Sackets Harbor were just beginning to change color, their dark greens slowly transforming into bright yellows and deep reds, the woods along the roadside blazing in the colors of a sunset sky. The last of the straggling employees at Preston Shipping were filtering out through the front gates to make their way back to their homes after another busy day. Emma slid the ledger back onto the shelf above the file cabinet and turned to call for her father in the next office when the sound of a carriage approaching reached her ears. Preston came out of his office and crossed to the outer door, looking through the glass of the small window as the horses pulled up just outside. Opening the door, Preston waited for the courier to dismount from the seat of the carriage.
“Mr. Joseph Preston, sir?”, asked the young man wearing a navy uniform.
Preston schooled his features to remain calm but his gut twisted at the portent of this courier on his doorstep.
“Yes lad, I am.”
The young officer reached into his shoulder bag and withdrew a small package, reverently passing it to the older man, saying, “I’m sorry Sir.”
As Preston took the brown-paper-wrapped box from him, the courier climbed back up onto the seat and the carriage pulled off out of the yard. Slowly Preston turned back into the office to face Emma, knowing too well the expression he would find in her eyes. He was not mistaken. Her lower lip trembled as tears spilled from eyes wide as saucers and full of pain. In two strides he was at her side and enfolding her in his arms, his own tears building behind his eyes as she sobbed against his shoulder.
“Come my dear, let’s go home.”
Together they walked out of the office to where George was waiting with the carriage. Once she was sitting on the seat of the carriage, Preston gently placed the small parcel into her lap where she slowly covered it with her hands, her knuckles turning white from her grip. In silence, they made their way home.
It was days before Emma finally emerged from her room to join her father and step-mother for breakfast in the dining room. Preston was dismayed to see the drawn look of her face, the dark circles beneath her eyes. Miranda poured her a cup of tea and set a plate of toast and jam in front of her, saying softly, “Eat a few bites my dear.”
Since the night that they had received the parcel from the naval courier, Emma had remained in her bedroom and her father fought against his desire to go to her and comfort her, but Miranda convinced him that his daughter needed time alone to come to terms with her loss. For the first day the lilting notes of the music box could be heard now and then, floating down the stairs to the foyer below. It was after the second day when there had been no sound from the room at all, that Preston began to worry. Miranda reassured him that each time she had checked on her, Emma was quite well and that, yes, she had been eating a little at least, and no, she still hadn’t opened the package but it would come in time. Watching her now from across the dining table, Preston thought that she seemed a little more at ease than she had at first, and he was pleased that she ate most of her breakfast.
He was just about to ask her how she was feeling when she looked up to meet his gaze. Preston offered her a gentle smile and Emma returned it, albeit sadly, and then she sighed and, looking back down at her plate, said quietly, “It was his pocket watch, some medals and…” she stopped to swallow down the emotion in her throat, “…and my letter.”
Beside Preston, Miranda hid a small sob in her kerchief and Preston reached over to pat her hand comfortingly before looking back at his daughter and placing his other hand over hers as well.
“Emma my dear, I know how much it hurts, to lose a loved one, but trust me when I say that it will ease in time. I believe that Tanner would not be pleased to know you are grieving so for him.”
Emma glanced up at her father and Miranda, seeing the love and concern in both their faces, and she brushed away the tears from her eyes as she nodded and said, “I know. You’re right of course. I just… it’s …”
Her heart twisted again as the regrets of the past came forward in her mind once more, causing her throat to tighten, her voice a pained whisper.
“I wish I had told him.”
Rising from his chair, Preston knelt down beside Emma and hugged her tightly as he said softly,
“He knew, Emma. He knew.”
She nodded against his shoulder, hugged him back and then quickly rose and left the dining room. Sitting back down beside Miranda, Preston sighed.
“Poor child, it’s going to take longer for her than I had thought.”
Next to him, Miranda reached out to caress his cheek with her fingertips.
“She has a lot of love to help her make it through, my dear.”
Smiling at the woman he had made his wife, Preston knew that together they would see Emma past these dark days and that brighter ones would soon come.
his desire to go to her and comfort her, but Miranda convinced - run-on sentence. Need to make two: and comfort her. Miranda succeeded in convincing him that his daughter
That's it!!!! YIPPEE!!
Excellent use of details to show a lot in just a few words. I can totally see the scenes. You sparked my interest to read on. Great plot and historic setting. It's awesome! I think you're well on your way!!
Since it's only 1500 words, I don't understand the bottom line about sexual references, though! LOL.
Title: Eden's Wall Length, Draft and Language: 208 pages, 103,645 words, English -complete- Brief Summary:
When Princess Sera's mother perishes, her world falls apart. She discovers not only that she's an elemental, but that she passed the cursed ability to her young sister Ava as well. When Ava stirs up commotion and is discovered, the girl is taken, leaving Sera to try and save the child before she's passed into Umbrage to be destroyed. Leaving the life she always knew behind, Sera travels into the hostile territory where fate brings her face to face with Alaster, the dreaded Prince of Umbrage.
Despite being royalty, Prince Alaster was exiled from the Umbrage Castle. Hated by his father and forgotten by his mother, he grew a thick skin quickly and learned to fend for himself. Life as a warrior made him hard and he felt prepared for anything until a whirlwind of a female poisons him for capture. He soon finds that Sera makes him feel weaker than any weapon could achieve and he strives to earn her trust as he transitions from enemy to ally.
A bond quickly forms between the unlikely pair and just when love begins to take them both, Secrets unfold that change everything.
Is their love strong enough? Sub Genre & Keywords: Fantasy Known Issues: Grammar isn't one of my strongest points and I'm sure there are typos and such. Critique Requested: I would like to know what I can improve on and if the story and it's characters have any merit. Critique Tolerance: I'm pretty thick skinned but please understand that I'm only a human and to be human is to error. Experience & Goals: This is my first novel, I spent two years and two Nano's working on it and I hope to self publish it and make a name for myself. Method of Communication: Email would be the most appropriate, so if you're interested just Nano mail me and we can go from there. Anything else?Thank you! Input on anything is such a treasure to an author of any kind, I'm no different. Excerpt/Link:
Alaster was disappointed when he saw that Sera didn't see his final victory over the beast, and what a magnificent animal he was. He rubbed his hands through the amazingly soft fur and heard a low rumble as he approached her. He froze but she just smiled at him, “it’s alright, he’s only purring.”
“Purring?” He gave her a confused look, raising his hands from the cat’s fur.
“Yes purring. It’s a sign of affection and it means he likes you. You can put your hands down.” Sera said gently. He placed his hands back into the thick fur over the cat’s massive shoulders and the rumbling grew louder. Alaster smiled, “you know I can hardly believe that it’s possible to tame such a beast.” Sera shook her head slightly, “oh he isn’t tame, his heart still runs wild. He is only respectful of you now. They trust us when we see them first,” she turned her head to face him, “or if we save them from danger.” She placed her hand over her mouth and had a giggle, it was the first time he’d heard her laugh and by god the little mink was straight poison herself. “You know Prince, for such a brave warrior, that saber had you shaking in your boots.” Her giggle grew to a contagious laughter as he heard his own deep chuckle join.
“Well he isn't your average feline Sera, and those claws are sharp. In fact I'll have the scars to prove it. Oh,” He grabbed the cats fur and the animal stopped moving, “my daggers, I have to return and—” Sera held out his weapons, close enough to show him, but not nearly close enough for him to grab. He was just happy to know that they weren’t left in the mud back there. Those two weapons were the only ties he had to his mother’s love.
“I'm sorry but I'm not going to return it to you, I'm sure you understand that.” Alaster waited for the impending anger to course through him at the fact that she held his most prized possessions, but it never came. It was nice to see a face instead of the blinding red of rage. “I understand. Why is it that they trust you if you spot them first?” “That’s simple. It’s because we have the advantage over them. We have that slight moment before they turn their heads to find us, and in most cases if we wanted to harm them, we could before they even noticed us. But when we don’t take that opportunity, they know we aren’t going to harm them.”
“Do you? Power and destruction doesn’t always need to go hand in hand you know.” She leaned her body down onto her large cat and smoothed her hands over its body, its head lifting in pleasure. “Respect can get you further then power ever could,” the cat shook its head and roared lowly in agreement, “it’s a good thing for a future king to keep in mind.”
Alaster stared down at his saber and watched the fur shimmer with each step the animal took, “back home we have wolves we tried to capture. But we were so forceful with them that we ended up killing a few dozen, and the ones we did subdue lost their spirit and died within days of being kept captive.”
Sera came beside him, placing her hand on his cheek, and forced his eyes to hers. “If you can drop your weapons, the wolves may surprise you. It’s a primitive instinct to know when someone means no harm.” She stopped both cats in their tracks. “These Sabers used to be hunted for their hides and so they know about men and their swords. They rarely trust anyone with a weapon and you handled yourself exceptionally out there. He trusts you fully, I can see it in his eyes.”
He felt light from her touch and her words spread through him. Grabbing her hand, he glared at her angrily and threw it to the side. “You will never touch me again now that I ‘m healed.” When she looked into his eyes he searched for any sign of deception but only found sincerity. He saw the brief hurt on her face as she straightened her body and then he watched her trot off in front of him. They remained silent for the remainder of the day’s journey. She lit him up inside like no one ever had. He wondered what was happening, yet deep down he knew they were connecting somehow. But still the curiosity of why she took him burned bright.
Thank you again, and thank you Nano for keeping dreams alive <3
Title: Immaculate Perfection Length, Draft and Language: 50,017 words, first draft, English Brief Summary: This novel follows the antics of 5 college sophomore dance-aholic friends as they each search for Mr. Right. Sub Genre & Keywords: New adult (college characters); Contemporary fiction Known Issues: It's a first draft, there could be major plot holes, it could be totally lame/unrealistic. Critique Requested: Honesty! I'm looking for critiques of the overall content and structure, is it fun, is it readable, are there any plot holes? Could this be a sell-able book? Critique Tolerance: Fairly durable; I know it is no beauty (yet). Experience & Goals: First novel, first time WriMo. I'd love to be a published author! Method of Communication: NaNo email (then regular email) Anything else? Excerpt/Link: (1500 words or less.)
Chapter 1: Material Girl
“Only the boys who save their pennies
Make my rainy day.”
Long blonde hair, styled for dancing? Check.
Shoes that will let me dance all night? Check.
Immaculate perfection in between? Check!
Deanna took one more twirl in front of the mirror, locked up her dorm room, and headed downstairs to where the others would meet her. Work hard, play hard: that was her motto. And she knew just which one of those she wanted to be doing on a Saturday night!
Carrie was already waiting in the lounge, along with Rosa and Miranda. As always, Tom would be last. Still, they could start to decide where to go without him. Deanna smiled wide as she approached and said, “Hey there!”
“Looking good, as always, Deanna,” replied Carrie. They had done well together last year as freshmen roommates, and were looking forward to keeping up their Saturday Night routine now that they both had singles.
As Carrie tossed aside her wavy brown hair, she looked down at her phone, then back up at the group. “So, three frat parties of note tonight: Sigma Chi, SAE, and, of course...”
“The Tri-Delts!” everyone chorused.
“Definitely save the Tri-Delts for last. Definitely. It makes sense to hit SAE first, just from a route standpoint, but otherwise it doesn't matter to me,” added Deanna. The Tri-Delts were known for being half business majors, and all were wealthy.
“I'm all for saving my energy for the dance floor! Where's Tom at? Is he still coming?” Rosa had trained as a dancer for her entire childhood, but decided it wasn't going to be her forever career, so she came to school for biology. However, she didn't miss an opportunity to go out and dance whenever she could, and Deanna was the perfect ringleader for that; Deanna truly did play hard, and Rosa enjoyed these weekend jaunts tremendously.
Miranda piped up, “I saw Tom as he disappeared into his room to get ready. He's definitely coming! I'm sure he'll be down soon.” Miranda was the one who first came up with the idea of having him join their group. He had a lot in common with them: he loved dancing, he dressed sharply, and he was looking for Mr. Right. The real benefit to all five of the friends though, was in their collective ability to fend off drunk frat boys by having someone along to dirty dance with, someone who would not get the wrong idea. Occasionally he even needed to dance with one of the girls, if he was being pursued by a drunk chick who clearly couldn't tell he was gay. There was also the benefit of having a guy with the group as they walked home through the city streets at 3 am; they were much less of a target. As awesome as The Arrangement was, it did mean that they generally had to wait for the sharpest dresser of the group to be ready.
“Ladies!” came a voice from around the edge of the lounge.
“Tom!” they all called back.
“Have you already chosen the order of events for the evening? I bow down to your expertise, especially since I am late. Again.” He shrugged, then looked to Deanna. “Hmm?”
“SAE, then Sigma Chi, and ending at the Tri-Delts. Sound good to you?”
“Yep! Sounds like a great evening, as usual,” Tom smiled. “Let's hit it!”
The SAE party went as expected, especially since they were there at only 10 pm: a little slow. Even so, it was fun to loosen up after a tough week of studying and classes and to feel the stress melt away on the dance floor. Like always, Deanna knew all of the words to every song they played, both the new ones and the classic ones. She may not always sing in key, but she made up for it with enthusiasm and facial expressions. The friends stuck with soda and water, and the SAE guys, while all pretty nice, didn't make a lot of passes at them, because they had not yet screwed up the courage to do so. It usually took two beers before anyone would dare to sweet talk Deanna and her friends.
After an hour of dancing, catching up on the highlights of the week, and generally getting into their groove, they spilled out into the crisp autumn air and headed over towards Sigma Chi, laughing boisterously the entire way. The party was in full swing already when they got there, and they fit right into the crowd.
Rosa started to draw attention with her dance moves; no one can top a former dancer at a frat party, and she reveled in the attention. Unlike most people, she always knew where every part of her body was and where it was going, and with her training in flexibility, she had the ability to do moves that others only dreamed of succeeding at. Deanna loved this about her, and loved being able to show off her friend, even if that meant stepping aside and bowing to Rosa when a particular song struck a chord in her soul and made her want to show off. They had a strict policy, too, about how much information Deanna could pass on to the curious admirers that Rosa collected at parties, as well as secret signals that let Deanna know when Rosa was interested in meeting those who were asking about her. The system worked, to perfection.
A bit after midnight, the group bowed out of what had genuinely been a fun party, and danced their way along the street to the Tri-Delt house. After checking each other's looks, and primping in the rear view mirrors of the cars parked along the way, they headed in.
Once inside, Deanna led the group to the drinks room. “We meet back here at 3 to go home, right? I'll check in on everyone on the hour, every hour, to make sure we're all still game for staying. If you intend to stay here, or to be someplace unfindable at the rendezvous time, please do let one other person know. There's two guys from my English class here; I'll probably be able to get us intros through them, if you'd like to stick with me and make the rounds before hitting the dance floor.”
“Great!” Miranda also liked being in charge, but was more than happy to abdicate the responsibility when Deanna was in full-tilt organizing mode. “I'd like to meet some of these guys, too, so I'll stick with you for now. Let's find your friends!”
In the end, the five stuck together until Deanna came across Brent and Travis, who went on to introduce them to more of their friends. Travis was especially keen on checking all four of the girls out. Then they each chatted and danced at their own pace, working the various rooms in their own special ways. Around 1:30, Carrie tapped Deanna's shoulder, winked, and disappeared up the stairs with a fellow that Deanna didn't recognize. Deanna smiled; she'd definitely be seeing Carrie again at 3, but not a moment sooner.
On the next round of the dance floors, Deanna found the rest of the others having a good time in various common area rooms. Rosa was yet again the center of attention in the room with the DJ. Miranda was shooting pool in the game room. Tom was in the kitchen, chatting animatedly with some of the other party guests. Satisfied that everyone was still having a great time, Deanna went back to the main dance floor and joined Rosa. They even had the chance to do their rehearsed cheesy 70's dance when an old classic came on!
3 am arrived, and the group met up once again in the drinks room. Carrie looked a bit ruffled, but definitely content, and the others were all sweaty and tired, but in an exhilarating sort of way. They agreed that now would be a good time to leave, as they'd all like to be asleep when dawn broke, and the party was starting to wind down anyway. “Too much slow dancing at this point,” quipped Rosa.
It had been a really fantastic night! Three excellent parties, lots of good music and dancing, and only two instances of invoking The Arrangement, once for Miranda and once for Rosa. Tom even met someone who had a friend he'd like to introduce him to, which doesn't always happen at the more preppy of fraternities.
Once they arrived back at the dorm, they headed off in their separate ways to their rooms, and Deanna, for one, hit the bed and sank immediately into a deliciously deep sleep.
Length, Draft and Language: 55,000 words so far, I anticipate around 70,000 words. 1st draft Brief Summary:
Evangeline Salvatore is certifiably crazy. She even has the papers to prove it. Alone and depressed, she decides to end her life until an interfering priest, interrupts her plans. Visual and auditory hallucinations make her question everything about this mysterious stranger, and yet she begins to trust him.
Remiel is a fallen angel who has been exiled from heaven for pulling one too many pranks. The only way he can get back in The Boss’s good graces is to save Evangeline from killing herself. The Boss, who has a decidedly wicked sense of humor further complicates the task by sending his lost, bad boy angel in the guise of Father Remi Blackson.
A cross-country trip makes Evie and Remi question everything they believe to be true and turns their world upside down.
Can a forbidden love be sustained against the odds? Who will be saved in the end?
Sub Genre & Keywords: Romance, Humor, Supernatural? What IS my subgenre? Known Issues: Two people (friends) have said it is too hard to suspend their beliefs to read (meaning sacrilegious) Critique Requested: I welcome all critiques. This is my first time to write 1st person, how did I do? Do I maintain POV? Any grammar issues? Do I show not tell? Critique Tolerance: Anything but flame Experience & Goals: I have six completed manuscripts. Turned down by 1 publisher, contest entries that have been “close” but not quite placed Method of Communication: nanoemail me and I’ll send you my email addy Anything Else?: I’m pushing boundaries. There will be sex. She does think he’s a priest. God plays golf and has a sense of humor. If these things bother you, you may not want to read it.
“Don’t jump.” His warm baritone voice fills the air with something akin to the energy felt before a lightening storm. The hairs on my arms stand on end.
“What makes you think I’m going to jump, Father.” I make no attempt to hide my derision, hoping my rudeness will make him turn around and leave. It worked like a charm with my mother. I’ve managed to push her clear across the country.
“Let me rephrase. Please don’t jump, I can’t swim,” he confesses with a small smile. “Do you want to have to explain my death as well as your own?” His green eyes seem to dance with amusement, which lights the match to my anger. The wind picks up and ruffles his naturally highlighted brown hair that is in serious need of a trim.
“Since I don’t believe in God or the hereafter, no explanations would be necessary. You’re boring me, so just leave me the hell alone and go do your good deeds elsewhere.”
His bark of laughter throws me and I narrow my eyes and stare at him suspiciously. Is he laughing at me? A wall of paranoia flies up to both guard and mock me. I glare at him. “What’s so funny?”
“I haven’t been accused of doing good deeds in a long damn time.” A rumble of thunder rolls in the distance and a strong wind shakes the trees around us. A storm is brewing.
“I would think that’s your business.” I raise one eyebrow and look pointedly at his collar and the cross glinting on his chest from the dim light on the bridge.
He runs a finger along the inside of the collar as if it’s too tight. My warped mind wonders what it would be like to have his fingers run along my body. I shake my head to rid it of the ridiculous image. He frowns. “Ah, yes... this. It is a bit ironic.” He cut his eyes toward the sky with what could only be described as a look of annoyance before settling his intense gaze back on me. Shit, this guy may be almost as crazy as I am. “Come on, let’s go. You can buy me a drink.”
“Excuse me?” My mouth falls open. Buy him a drink?
“Vow of poverty, crazy girl.” His arms sweep out in a self-deprecating manner. “So to thank me, you can buy me a drink.”
“I’m not crazy, and what do I have to thank you for?”
He raises one eyebrow and his smirk more than shouts out his skepticism. I huff with annoyance.
“Okay so I’m crazy, whatever. What do I have to thank you for?”
“Why, for saving your miserable, worthless life, of course.” He throws an arm around my shoulders as if he's my damn BFF and begins walking me toward the end of the bridge. Strangely, I feel safe in his casual embrace and my anxiety—that has been my constant companion for two years—lessens. This in itself is terrifying. I don’t know how to function anymore except in full-blown panic mode.
“What makes you think my life is miserable and worthless?” I shrug away from the unwanted embrace, more than annoyed he’s verbalized the obvious. My life is miserable and worthless. To be precise, it’s downright pathetic.
“Why were you about to jump?” He pats his pockets and frowns. “Hey, you got a cigarette and a light?”
“Ew.” I wrinkle my nose with disgust. “No, I don’t smoke. It’s a nasty habit.”
A grin spreads across his face. He’s much too handsome to be a cleric. Angular cheekbones and a strong, clean shaven jaw underneath those intense green eyes. He looks more like a model for Abercrombie & Fitch than a priest. I bet he has a huge cult following of unsatisfied, female parishioners who love to go into detail in the confessional about their non-existent, fantasy-filled sex lives.
“Not nearly as nasty as Sister Winifred’s habit, but that’s another story. We all have our vices, don’t we? Tell me Evangeline Lourdes Salvatore, what’s yours?”
“I go by Evie—” I stop short and cross my arms in front of my chest, narrowing my eyes at him. “Wait—how do you know my name?”
“It’s my business to know. So what are your vices? Tell me all about them, and if they’re really good and juicy, in minute detail, please.” Chuckling, he grabs my hand with his large, warm one and tugs me toward the end of the bridge. I sputter with indignation, sounding like the dying desk fan at my station at the Curl Up 'n Dye Salon.
Former station, I’d quit yesterday.
“Your business? I’m none of your business! What kind of sick bastard are you?” I pull away from him again, and my pulse pounds in my ears as the copper taste of fear floods my mouth. For the second time this evening, I’m afraid and shiver. Trying to be discreet, I back up a step.
It’s after midnight, and I’m alone on a deserted road in rural Florida with a handsome stranger who knows my name. This is the stuff of a really bad, teen horror movie. They’re out to get me again. I squelch the thought as my survival instinct kicks into super-drive. Which when I think about it, is kind of crazy since I want to die.
“Leave me alone.” I’m not sure if I’m speaking to him or the voices in my head. Don’t panic and don’t be like every dumb girl in an old slasher movie and turn your back on him. Trying to act nonchalant, I scan the ground frantically searching for anything that can be used as a weapon. Dammit, why did I leave my purse with pepper spray in it at the edge of the bridge? Stupid, because you didn’t plan on ever needing a purse again...
“Take the frightened gazelle look down a notch. I’m not going to hurt you.” He shoves his hands in his pockets and continues down the bridge, humming of all things, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.
For some strange reason, I believe him. Maybe it’s the collar. “So says every sociopath in every low-budget, slasher movie ever made,” I grumble, following him like he’s the damn Pied Piper of Hamlin.
“Evangeline, if I’d wanted to hurt you, I would have done so already. I’m here to save you.”
The snort I let out would make my mother twinge with disgust. Snorting ranks right behind gum chewing in her unladylike behavior list of no-no’s. “Seriously. Tell me how you know my name, Father...?” Please don’t say you’ve heard the gossip...
“Blackson. Remi Blackson. But you can call me Remi. And like I said, it’s my business to know. Aren’t you a parishioner of Our Lady of Sorrows?”
This time I laugh at the absurdity of his statement. A parishioner. As if. “I haven’t been to church in a long time, Father. I attend St. Mattress on the Springs, I’m a sinner of the worst kind.” I’m not bragging. It’s a well-known fact. Ask anyone in the godforsaken town where I’ve lived my entire twenty-one years. If you can call it living... maybe existed would be a better word.
“Ohhh...good!” He yanks his hands from his pockets and rubs them together in the worst over-acted imitation of a stage villain I’ve ever seen, making me smile in spite of myself. “The worst kind of sinner is my favorite. You might even say it’s my specialty. So come on evil Evie, tell me, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Consider the confessional booth open and in business. I promise to go light on penance and heavy on absolution.” He nudges my shoulder with his as we walk toward the end of the bridge. I shake my head, refusing to answer.
“Spoilsport. Okay, but just know I’ve probably done far worse myself.”
I roll my eyes in a childish manner. “Yeah, right. Like what, drink a little too much of the sacramental wine? Trust me, whatever you’ve done can’t compare.” I spit the bitterness out with a mixture of shame and anger. Before I realize it, we’re standing next to his car and he’s picked up my purse on the way.
“Evangeline, sins aren’t a game of one upmanship. They’re mistakes. And I’ve made plenty of them. I haven’t always been a priest, you know.” He opens the car door for me. As I slip past him in to the car, the nostalgic scent of fresh cut pine boughs and cinnamon assaults my senses. Damn if he doesn’t smell like Christmas in August. He shuts the door, and I reach over and switch the ignition so I can roll down the window.
“Now what?” My voice trembles a little, which pisses me off. Why is this priest affecting me so?