Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 2012 Test Run #8

TITLE:  Crossroads
GENRE:  Fantasy
She was dreaming; she knew that.  The barren castle, the circular room, the bodies on the floor – all these things she had left behind days ago.  But her mind replayed them each night, breaking her heart again and again until she was sure she had no heart left to break.  She kept reminding herself it was a dream, except for one inescapable truth:  Captain Hunter was dead.

Gar’s growl woke her from the nightmare and she found herself looking up into citrine eyes set against a dark face.  Fearful, her mind sought that of her bear, seeing the scene through his eyes.  He stood behind her, hackles raised at the black wolf whose pearly canines were mere inches from her nose.  She felt the damp doggy breath on her face. 

She slowly raised a hand to the dark fur, looking for connection.  And she found it.  But the lupine mind behind the yellow eyes was strangely familiar, stirring memories from before her transformation.  Unsettled, she severed the connection and strangled the memories.

At the least, it means me no harm, she thought to Gar who huffed in agreement.

The bear sent her a vision, more like her dreams than his usual animal thoughts.  A ghostly woman in armor had told him to wait for the next companion.  Grandmother told you about the wolf?

A slick tongue shot out of the charcoal snout and stroked her chin, bringing her attention back to the golden eyes. Apparently the wolf was here for her.

March 2012 Test Run #7

GENRE: YA urban fantasy

It was the red leather box that grabbed her attention.
Stella ran her finger across the top, faded from being next to the
only window in the attic. She touched the copper latch. It popped
open, and she pushed the lid up.
An objected nestled on silk cloth laid in the box. It was a flute. A
wooden flute.
The design appeared to be the same as a regular metal flute—other
than the fact that where it was supposed to be metal, there was
oak-like wood.  Polished. Dark. It looked so smooth and inviting.
Leaning forward, Stella reached out and touched it—
“OWW!”  Sparks jumped out from it, and she stumbled back, clutching
her wrist. Streams of pain shot up her arm.
She howled and curled to the floor. Her arm shook and buzzed as
though she'd stuck her finger in an outlet. She clenched her hand and
shrieked as another wave of pain pulsed through her veins.
Then she thumped to the floor and blacked out.

Anything would have been better than this.
Stella stood in the doorway of the Victorian home and reached for
her godfather's hand.  Paris took it and squeezed.
“You all right?”  His words dropped like pebbles in the silence.
Stella nodded.
It wasn't true.
“Just seems so big,” she whispered. How stupid that sounded. Why be
afraid of a house when she needed to worry about the reason she stood
in front of it?
The house sat buried among a cluster of Alabama oak trees, Spanish
moss dangling from the branches. It stood huge enough where Stella had
to tilt back her neck to look up. Windows dotted the whole building.
She kept looking to see if anyone stared down at them.

March 2012 Test Run #6

TITLE:  Butterfly Girl
GENRE:  Upper MG (magical realism)
What in the world?  Madison rolled onto her side and shoved her hand against…
Ouch!  What she was lying on was part of her!  She sat up and whipped her nightgown over her head.   
Wings!  The spell worked!
She threw off the covers and ran to look in the mirror above her dresser.  Leather-like wings jutted out from between her shoulder blades and hung almost flat against her back, golden brown, with shiny green dots and swirls along the edges. 
Gently she unfurled them, first together, then one at a time.  Each wing opened and closed in sections, folding together like a fan. 
She pinched herself hard.  No, not dreaming.   
3 weeks Pre-Wings…
Madison drew a sharp breath and didn’t let it out for a long moment.  The writing on the postcard made her heart race.    
To Miss Madison Michaela McCoy-Lee. Each M oversized and curving high, like the hills of a roller coaster.  Happy Birthday!!!  I hope your 12th is the best year ever!  Hugs and kisses… Love,  Mimi. P.S.  We’re performing in Oregon this year – I’ll come for a nice long visit. 
Sure you will. 
She flipped the postcard over.  In big gold letters along the top of the card:  Ringman Brothers' Traveling Circus, with a picture of her mother, Mimi, waiting to be shot out of a cannon.  A wide swath of green covered each eyelid – stage make-up.  Usually her mom didn’t wear much make-up.  Or maybe she did, now.        
Madison folded the postcard in half, then shoved it into her back pocket. 

March 2012 Test Run #5

TITLE: Storyville
GENRE: Romance
New Orleans, Louisiana
Monday, October 6, 1902 

“Are you a virgin, Estella?”
The girl’s eyes widened at the question and her thin hands, already clenched together in her lap, whitened at the knuckles. The child squirmed in her chair and her gaze skittered around the room, bouncing from the crown moldings to the barge board floors to the enormous gilt-edged mirror that topped the marble fireplace mantle. It finally landed on the view of the deserted street through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Estella’s thoughts were written like words across her young face; she was trying to decide upon the right answer.

The girl stared at Trula’s chin and said, “No, Miz Boudreaux, course not.” Then, her eyes slid away. She was lying.

At least, Trula hoped she was lying. Had she ever been so young? Estella was hardly older than a baby. Perhaps thirteen, more likely twelve. Saints only knew what hell her home had been if she believed a whore’s life would be better. Trula leaned forward and caught the girl’s pointed chin between her fingers. She turned the young face from side to side. The child had thick chestnut hair in need of a wash and wide-set brown eyes flecked with gold. If she had a bit of meat of her bones, she’d be pretty. Still, unless she stumbled across a madam willing to sell her virginity to the highest bidder, the best an undeveloped child could hope for was a crib on Robertson Street where she might earn a few dollars a day.

March 2012 Test Run #4

TITLE: Numbered
GENRE: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian

The only thing moving is my heart beating and the blood pumping through my veins. I breathe without my chest rising or falling. Everything else sits as still as the dead; the mock grass, the fabricated shrubs, even the tree that I sit perched in, waiting.

Waiting. So much of my training has been waiting, patience. Sitting still for four, five, six hours at a time, training my muscles not to go numb, and my mind to stay alert. Sub-zero temperatures, over one hundred degrees, I’ve been through it all. Like now, for instance, waiting in this tree as I have been for two hours. It’s hot, at least over ninety, but I do not break a sweat. The smell of sweat could give away my location. I keep my breaths silent and shallow, regulating my body temperature. And I wait.

Movement flickers in my right peripheral, and I dart my eyes in that direction, keeping my head fixed straight ahead. There he is: my target. He moves silently from one tree and shrub to the other, almost imperceptibly. Had I not been waiting so long and become so familiarized with the environment, I might never have noticed him, and then I would have failed. Failure is impossible. Passing is mandatory. So much time and money has been put into my training, that if I fail, I would be putting the lives of my trainers at risk. And I would be letting down the Leaders.

March 2012 Test Run #3

TITLE:  Broken Wings
GENRE:  Women's fiction

The only leg I knew how to stand on anymore was the rolled fifty-dollar bill up my nose.  But that high doesn’t last very long and, before you know it, you’re not standing; you’re lying on a cold tile floor, wasted and depressed.  How many times have I been here? 

From deep inside my chest I felt myself crying out, reaching out through the darkness that held me prisoner. God, if you’re there, I don’t want to be this person anymore.  Everything’s a mess.  I can't find my way out.  Please, you have to make it right because I can't do this anymore.
Truthfully, I didn’t want to live anymore, but killing myself was a worse sin than licking a dealer’s nasty just to earn a little buzz.  I was already in Hell and the Catholic in me knew suicide was just a way to guarantee things wouldn’t get better.  I still had one brain cell left telling me that wasn’t the way.  But that one brain cell was fighting a losing battle.  There was no answering voice in my head, no Divine spark.  I listened to the hollow silence and fell into unconsciousness with vomit and tears drying on my face.

I felt a kick and swam back to consciousness, hearing David muttering the usual string of curses.

“Goddamn it, Rae.  I hate tripping over you.  Can't you pass out somewhere else?”  He shoved me aside with his foot, giving me a clear view of the underside of the toilet bowl. 

March 2012 Test Run #2

GENRE: Horror/Suspense
If the look of fury etched on her face wasn’t enough to tell him she was angry, the heavy stomp of her boots hitting the asphalt as she clomped away should do it.   “Damn him,” Diana muttered under her breath as she stormed across the parking lot to the empty picnic bench.  

She hadn’t wanted to take the damn motorcycle drive with Dave, and had only gone with him after he had yelled at her that all she ever did was write.  Which was true, but then again she was a writer.  Dave told her she needed to get out of the house and be with him more.  To appease him and squelch an impending fight she donned her black brain bucket, with the pretty peace symbol sticker on the back then slid her ass onto the back of his Harley and off they went. Dave hadn’t told her that his friends would be joining them, especially Sully.  That one friend annoyed the shit out of her and Dave knew it; probably why he didn’t say anything. 

Sully was loud, obnoxious and thought he was every girls dream.  More like nightmare, she thought.  He was your stereotypical biker.  The one all moms’ warned their little girls about.   Greasy, long hair, leather clad, tattooed, dirty piece of shit that rode a low rider Harley Davidson.  The one who would screw, tattoo and leave you by a roadside crying.    Yep, that was Sully, “love em leave em”, Smithson and Dave’s best friend. 

March 2012 Test Run #1

TITLE: Untitled

Through the silence of the thousand thousand landscapes of my mind, a voice calls out, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" It is my voice, but it is also the voice of every journey not taken, every task left unfinished, every lost opportunity.                                                                      It is the voice of a small, scared little boy who recoils in horror at the sight of the man he has become. I want to comfort him, but he is beyond my reach, and I could not bring myself to meet his eyes if I could find him.                                                                                         The hurt in those eyes is mine, but I cannot bear it. The disappointment in those eyes are also mine, and I can bear it no better.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The child in my heart of hearts is wounded. Scarred and torn, he can only cry out, and I can only listen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Test Run"---March First Page Critique Round Call for Submissions!!

The submission window is now closed. Please check back tonight, 3/29/12, for the entries!

This critiquing round will be another “Test Run” session.  This is for any first page.  Whether your manuscript is finished and polished, it's a work-in-progress, or you only have the first page, this is the time to test it out on readers and get some honest, helpful feedback and support from your peers.  If you've entered previous rounds, this is also a great opportunity to get feedback on your revisions.   

From Monday, March 26 at 6:00 PM EDT until Thursday, March 29 at 12:00 PM EDT, I will accept submissions. I will post them later that evening (between 7 PM and 8 PM EDT) right here at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.
Please send submissions to ktcritiques [AT]

In the subject, please state "MARCH FIRST PAGE”

This round I will accept all genres and it is one entry per person, per genre (So you can submit 1 adult 1 YA/MG).

Please list the TITLE, GENRE and your SCREEN NAME (I will not include screen names in the critique posts, these are for my purposes only) above your 250 words (format it the way you normally would).  Please do not stop in the middle of a sentence.  If it goes over the 250 limit by a couple of words, that's fine.  If you stop at say, 235 words, that's fine, too.
Your submission should look like this:

SCREEN NAME: Your Screen Name Here
TITLE: Your Title Here
GENRE: Your Genre Here

(Excerpt here.)

Please leave out "chapter one," chapter "titles", etc.  Otherwise, I may count them toward your 250 and you could lose some of your first page entry.

You will receive a confirmation email, but it may not be right away.  Only resend if you don't get one by the last hour of the submission window.  

Please check your submission(s) carefully for typos, grammatical errors, etc. before submitting.  Once the submission is confirmed by email, it is set to automatically post.  Once your post is up and has received a critique, I won't be able to fix it for you.  Double checking it first will ensure you're writing is critiqued appropriately.  ;-) 

If you enter, you must critique at least 5 other submissions (if there are only five, please critique all).  If you enter two first pages, please critique 10 (if there are less than 10 total, please critique all).  This is so it's fair for everyone involved. 

I will accept up to 20 entries.

That’s it!  If you have any questions, please hit me up in the comments or send me an email at

Spread the word please; the more, the merrier!  Let's fill up this round and help everyone involved get as much feedback as possible.

I look forward to seeing everyone's fabulous work and comments. 

P.S. I'll be back with a blog post very soon; I have lots to share. :)