Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Indy 500 #7

Title: Aral-Kahn
Genre: Fantasy

Benson  Wood was still wreathed in its summer finery, even though the year was lurching ever closer to the fall transition and the cold deadness of winter.  The morning was warm and clear - the sun only shared the sky with a few wispy clouds and the ghostly half disk of the moon.

It was a morning much like any other, Zyn Emerling knew, but she couldn't shake the expectant feeling that had been with her since she woke early that morning.  The fact that she woke early was odd enough - the rare occasion that it happened her father always told her, only half jokingly, that the Devil must be shivering his hooves off in Hell. 

As if the signs and portents of her sleep cycle weren't bad enough,  another strange happening  that morning lead Zyn to believe that the day was cursed from its beginning, and that maybe she should have heeded her lazier instincts and simply stayed in bed for the day.    Once she had dragged herself out of bed and dressed, she opened the drawer of her nightstand, looking for her locket.  It had been a gift from her father, after her mother's passing thirteen years previous, and Zyn wore it every day without fail. 

Today she went to put it on as she had every day for more than a decade, when the clasp snapped.  Zyn was so surprised that when the locket fell, she wasn't quick enough to catch it.  The locket flipped open, revealing her mother's portrait, which her father had paid a local artist a fortune to render in such minute detail.

Her father had offered to take it to a friend of his, the jeweler who had made it and carved the intricate floral designs on the outside, but Zyn declined.  She didn't want to be parted from it, and she didn't have enough time before she was supposed to meet Laurie on the trail to take it to the jeweler herself.  She'd planned on taking it herself once she and Laurie got back to town.  In the mean time, Zyn found herself constantly patting the pocket of her dress where she'd put it for safe keeping, just to make sure it was still there.

If Laurie noticed her friend's new tic, she didn't say anything.  But then for Zyn, and anyone else who knew her for that matter, that wasn't much of a surprise.  Laurie's powers of observation weren't exactly legendary, after all.

Even so, it baffled Zyn that the woman couldn't feel the oddness hovering in the air.  Maybe it's just me? Zyn wondered.  Yet the forest was silent, save for the rustling of leaves and pine needles in the spare breeze, Laurie's voice, and the soft shuffle of the pair's footsteps on the dirt footpath worn by centuries of feet.  No birds sang, and there were no small things scuttling among the tree branches or through the brush.  It was as if the small things of the forest knew something was coming, and they were hiding until it passed.

April Indy 500 #6

GENRE:  MG Historical

For the tenth time my metal hoop clanged to the ground, and I heard Dad's voice saying, “Hoop rollin's an art, Jamie. I used to roll mine to school and back every day without it falling.”

I swung my hoop over my shoulder. A rusty nail snagged my bibbed overalls as I jumped from the porch. Maude wasn’t gonna like that. Rain splattered my sore toe as I raced across the yard and headed toward the road. I stopped to look back and a whiff of sassafras on the rain started my stomach to growling. Maude often made us sassafras tea in the winter.

Dang, that

I chewed the inside of my cheek, remembering the reason I left the house so early. Tyke Whyte, the banker had pounded on the door before breakfast, his fist bulging with papers. I’d listened from behind the door until he started yelling at Maude. Then for the very first time, I wished I was grown.

I lifted my chin and stepped out from behind the door, ready to punch him in the nose. Tyke stopped me in my tracks, waving his finger in my face and shouting at Maude. “There. That boy’s a prime example of why you’re behind on your bills! That boy should be working, carrying his own weight instead of lazyin’ around all day, wallowing in the river . . . And the trash. Hmh. Nothin’ but scum . . . That‘s what you‘re raising!”

A wave of heat surrounded me. Sweat covered my forehead. My blood must be boiling, like Eli talked about. I tightened my fists and stepped forward.

Maude must have known what I was thinking, because she stepped between us, motioning me to go back up stairs. I stood my ground, glaring at him, the way Maude often did before she swatted me with a willow limb.

Maude drew her eyes down until her eyebrows met. “Get up them stairs, if you know what’s good for you, young man!” The words hissed through her teeth.

My stomach tightened into a knot. Had she turned against me too? I swallowed and headed for the back door. My fingernails cut like knifes into my clenched fists.

Dad burn-it. She should have let me hit him. If he took the orphanage, where would we live? I tried swallowing the lump in my throat as I sneaked out the screen door.

Why did trouble seem to follow some folks? Dad shouldn’t have left, I shouldn’t be an orphan, and Ol’ Nickel Head should get what’s coming to him. Nothing seemed fair anymore.

I gazed upward. I couldn’t see the mountain tops for the morning haze that surrounded them like a fuzzy, gray crown. There was something inspiring about the mountains and the music bouncing from them. Still a cold, emptiness  followed me everywhere, constantly reminding me of my loss.

If I could, I’d be a mountain with my head in the clouds hearing nothing but music.

April Indy 500 #5

TITLE: The Hourglass Bridge
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Di couldn’t decide whether to run away or wet herself.  Thankfully, being paralyzed with fear made it difficult to do either.

There’s someone in my house! The realisation struck her again. Locked in a silence pierced only by the ring of her nervous system in her ears, she stared at the miniature, wooden hourglass on the bookshelf. It didn’t look particularly scary, standing on a lace doily next to a bowl of potpourri, but those things had been there five seconds ago.

The hourglass hadn’t.

Coby? She grasped at a desperate hope as the last, silvery grains of sand trickled through the rough, glass shell. No. Her brother was upstairs, oblivious, while she was alone with a potential robber, axe murderer or raving lunatic for company. Or maybe even all three.

She pressed herself against the wall to cover her back, throwing panicked glances up the hall in both directions. The skin on her right arm prickled, where, only an inch away, the wall ended for the world’s creakiest stairs. If she went up to check on her brother, she’d cut off any means of escape. But if she tried searching for the intruder, she couldn’t move anywhere without leaving the rest of the house open for them to sneak around.

Di locked her eyes on the hallway phone. And something crashed to the floor above her.

Coby! She dived around the corner, without considering who she’d meet or how she might defend herself, and found Coby standing at the top of the stairs. He raised his hands in surrender.

“Before you go mental,” he said as a cricket ball rolled out behind him, “that vase was ugly anyway.”

“Uh-huh.” Di couldn’t even process his words. “Where did this come from?” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder.

“What?” Coby craned his neck to see beyond her. She turned to follow his gaze. The hourglass was gone.

“That’s impossible.” Di groped across the doily and checked behind the bookshelf; on the floor; and even in the gap between the shelves and the grandfather clock. “There was an hourglass right here – a little antique thing. I swear.”

“Ooookay…” Coby raised his eyebrows. “Forget the vase, you’re mental already,” he added, kicking the ball into his room and disappearing after it.

“But— I—”

Ignore him, said a voice in her head. Sure he’d caught her creeping through the house with a butcher’s knife two weeks ago, looking for what turned out to be nothing more than a mouse in the pantry, but that didn’t make her crazy and neither did this.  No, she was just seeing things after last nights’ study chewed into her scheduled seven and a quarter hours’ sleep. Di yawned and checked her watch – and the sight woke her faster than being drenched in a bucket of ice water. How could it be that late already? Ironing Coby’s shirt had stuffed up her routine a bit, but by this much? The bus would be there any minute.

April Indy 500 #4

Title: Girl of His Dreams 
Genere: Paranormal Romance
Vincent was sitting at Julie’s kitchen table. She had her tarot cards out looking into his future love life. He thought it was a little silly but he indulged her. Vincent considered himself a good looking man. At thirty seven he was in excellent shape, running five to ten miles every day. He was six foot two with short jet black hair and chocolate brown eyes. He dressed wellbeing a lawyer at a big law firm afforded him a comfortable lifestyle. Vincent just could not seem to find that perfect girl. That’s why he was sitting in his best friend’s kitchen having his tarot cards read. Vincent watched as Julie flipped another card and placed it face up on the table.
Julie was fun to be around but she wasn’t really his type. She had long strait blond hair, bright blue eyes, and pale skin no matter how much sun she got. She was slender and tall at five foot seven. She stayed in shape going running with him at least three or four times a week. He just never really thought of her as more than a friend, a really good friend yes but always just a friend.
Julie’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “Vincent. Hey, earth to Vincent.”
“What... Oh sorry guess I was wool gathering.” He said with an apologetic smile. “So, what do your cards say? Am I doomed to walk the world alone?”
“No, as a matter of fact they say it’s time that you find love.” She stated with a sweet smile. Julie got up and moved behind Vincent. She then snipped a lock of hair from him with a pair of scissors she had laying behind him on the counter.
“Hey! What did you do that for?” He complained as his hand moved to the back of his head to feel what kind of damage was done.
“Oh, relax I didn’t take that much see.” Julie said as she showed him the small snip of hair. “Now when you go home tonight I want you to lie down and think about the girl of your dreams. Concentrate on that thought as you drift off to sleep. Over the next three nights you’re going to dream of your mystery girl and on the third night she will be revealed to you.” Julie explained as she placed his hair into a small velvet pouch.
“I’m going to dream a girl up?” Vincent asked with a skeptical look. “That’s it I’m checking your incense sticks. I think someone might have laced them with something.”
Julie laughed at the joke and sat back in her seat across from him. “Laugh all you want, but I’m casting a spell tonight and you my dear are going to go dream walking. Now go on you did say you needed to run some errands before you could go home.”
“Alright I’m going and I’ll see you in a few days. Who knows maybe I’ll bring the girl of my dreams to meet you.” Vincent joked as he got up and walked out the door.

April Indy 500 #3

TITLE: Here Comes the Sun

I should have known from the amount of diet coke I drank that I would have to pee as soon as I stepped on board the plane. And of course I can't use the bathroom while the plane is still sitting on the tarmac, because that would look asinine. I can just imagine what my classmates would think. “Oh look, there goes Tooty Fruity. She has to pee already. Didn't she know about the bathrooms in the airport?” And I do. I used them. But my bladder is the size of a walnut, unable to bear the strain of sixty four ounces of sweetened, zero calorie pop consumed in approximately fifteen minutes.

So here I am, my legs tingling because I'm crossing them so tight, staring obsessively at the giant red X above the bathroom door, willing it to turn green. I fight back my tears as I shoot my head into the aisle every three seconds to check on the status of the bathroom. I don't see my classmates. Don't notice if they're staring and leering or ignoring me as usual. I just see the small aisle connecting two bathrooms, and giant X's above them both.

“Here Tooty Fruity,” Meredith whispers as she bumps my arm. My lower half screams at her as I whip my head back in my seat.
My nickname. It's short. Sweet. And totally humiliating. And as I size up Meredith, I realize in her flat eyes that to her it's just a name. I doubt she even knows my real name anymore. Because even though we've attended the same high school for almost four years now, this is the absolute first time she's ever talked to me. I'm not kidding. She's part of the so-called “popular crowd” - I stress the air quotes on that one - and I am, well, not.

I blame my nickname. And the awful Brunettes that created it.

Meredith has really short blonde hair and pretty typical blue eyes. And she's holding out her hand to me, cupping it a little as if not to spill whatever is inside. I'm sad to admit that my first thought is that I'm prepared to unzip my jeans and pee in her hand. Because quite honestly, at this point, I just might.

“Take this. It'll help you sleep.”

I look from what appears to be her empty hand up to her face, dubious as to why all the sudden she wants to talk to me. Sure, we're going to be sitting next to each other for the next eight hours as we cross the Atlantic, but we once sat next to each other for nine months during Sophomore year geometry and she never said a damn thing to me. I try to cock an eyebrow at her, but most likely, I probably just look surprised. “What is it?
She rolls her eyes at me and sighs, as if I just asked her to conjugate a verb. “A sleeping pill. Duh! We're all taking them.”

April Indy 500 #2

TITLE: Tainted
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Something was terribly wrong. Mum rubbed at her neck and glanced up at the wall clock. She did it all during dinner. Lines creased my dad’s forehead ever since we sat to eat. He never frowned.

“So,” I said, “what will it be tonight?”

“Is it a Saturday?” Mum asked, her lip twitching.

“Yes,” I replied and stared down at my empty plate, avoiding my reflection in the glass dining table. On the first Saturday of every month, all three of us sat in the lounge, watched a movie, and ate popcorn together. Mum exchanged a quick glance with my dad and I frowned a little. Even the lingering scents of saffron and garlic, though my favourite, emphasised how wrong everything was. They normally cooked a barbeque.

“I think we forgot to pick up a movie from the video store,” Dad said. “Sorry Aisling.” I suppressed my sigh and feigned a smile. Never had they forgotten before, not in the six years since the tradition started. 

I dropped my knife and fork together on my plate with a loud clatter. Mum’s leaf green eyes darted in my direction and she exhaled heavily. She never startled that easily before. Even dad shot me a quick glance.

“Can we play a board game instead?” I asked. Again, both of them exchanged looks, their eyes looked haunted. My stomached contracted into a tight ball.

Mum gave a short nod. “Sure honey. Why don’t you go grab one and we’ll clear the table.”

“Great,” I said and forced a smile. All the bedrooms were up on the second floor, the collection of board games sat on a shelf in the spare room. 

Even though I knew something bothered my parents, I started up the staircase regardless. I only got to the third step when the power went out.

Instinctively I gripped the stair rail and took a deep breath. There was no storm, no rain, and no sound of a substation exploding.

“Mum? Dad?” I called out, and reached out until my other hand hit the wall. I didn’t hear their response, and I couldn’t hear them moving in the kitchen. Repeatedly in my mind, I kept telling myself it was ok, the power would come back on in a second. I heard my jaw pop and stopped biting the inside of my cheek.

“Have you guys found the torches? Candles, even?” I called again, and silence met me. Keeping one hand on the rail and the other flat against the wall I slowly felt around with my left leg. It connected with solid ground and I took a step backward. When I went to repeat the process, my foot encountered something, instead of air.

I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Mum? Dad?” No response but warm breath tickled the back of my neck. Goosebumps prickled down my arms. My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness and my flight response kicked in. I tried to sprint up the stairs, only to kick a step and stumble.

April Indy 500 #1

TITLE: Tears of the Children
GENRE: Contemporary/Fantasy

Douglas Butler knew the time had come, and he released his daughter. He held her by the shoulders and looked into her jewel-green eyes, knowing it’d be the last time. “No matter what comes, I want you to know I’ll be here for you, okay?”
She didn’t respond, and only blinked at his cryptic message. “Okay, An?” he repeated, his brown eyes boring into hers until she nodded her acceptance of his promise.
“Good. Now,” he said, willing the thickness of his throat to go away so he could get through this moment he’d been dreading the last 18 years. “What I want to show you is right here.”
Analisa watched as he walked to the edge of the clearing, next to an old, nearly decrepit oak tree. All the trees around them were hundreds of years old, as the forest seemed to never have been touched by an axe nor a chainsaw. It seemed, Analisa wondered, completely untouched.
The tree her father motioned her over to seemed like one of many, tall, so wide around that she knew she couldn’t get her arms fully around. Its base was slightly cracked open, moss and old bark and exposed roots creating a bowl. Her dad was pointing into that depression, so she followed his direction and crouched next to the hollow of the tree.
“Dad,” she said, not turning her head, “What am I supposed to be looking at?” He didn’t answer, and Analisa reached her hand out. The early morning and swirling fog made the shadowed hollow dark. She was hesitant to just stick her hand in, but then, as her fingertips touched the edge of the bark as it curled back into itself, a spark of light  lit inside the hollow.
Analisa sunk to her knees at the base of the tree, the knees of her jeans dampening on the cool moss. The teardrop of dew winked again at her, the flash of light seemingly coming within.
“Dad,” Analisa breathed, “Did you see that?”
When her dad didn’t respond, she turned around to look at him. But he was gone.
“Dad?” she asked, looking around the clearing. He wasn’t there. “Dad!”
She thought she heard a faint crunching of retreating footsteps, and opened her mouth to shout for him again, but another sound came to her, one that froze her to the core.
A child’s scream. She knew it was a child’s scream. Whether it was from pain or fright or just a general squeal, she couldn’t tell. The teardrop. She begged it to come again, to dispel the thought that it was real, and maybe just a figment of her imagination.  It came again, and as Analisa was staring directly into the shadowed crevice, she saw the teardrop pulse with light as the scream came again, echoing and faint, for sure, but definite.
It called to her, the light and the voices, and before she knew it, before she could stop herself, second guess herself, Analisa reached out to the teardrop.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April "Indy 500" Critique Round--Call for Submissions


This critiquing round will be dubbed the "Indy 500".  This is for anyone's first 500 words.  Whether your manuscript is finished and polished, it's a work-in-progress, or you only have the first few hundred words, 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 and give previous readers of your work a further peek at where your story is going.   

From Monday, April 23 at 6:00 PM EDT until Tuesday , April 24 at 6:00 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] gmail.com

In the subject, please state "APRIL INDY 500”

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 500 words (format it the way you normally would).  Please do not stop in the middle of a sentence.  If it goes over the 500limit by a couple of words, that's fine.  If you stop at say, 489 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 500 and you could lose some of your 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 different manuscripts, 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 crowleykt@gmail.com.

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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm Finally Back!! Did You Miss Me? ;-)

So I've been absent for a bit.  I had made all these plans for the blog back around the New Year and now we're in April and I haven't had the pleasure of implementing most of them.  But I have wonderful reasons for falling behind.  I've been hard at work writing, brainstorming and forming connections with our wonderful writing community.  I stepped back and really evaluated where I am in my writing career and how I feel about my current road mark.  But the biggest reason I've been a bit of a ghost is because I'm pregnant again!  

Yes, I've been blessed with another little one.  A boy, due in September.  I found out in early January and was a sick, nervous wreck up until a couple weeks ago.  I'm still suffering from morning sickness and fatigue, which is what mainly sidelined me to begin with, but it's not 24/7 like it was my first 4 months.  I'm not complaining, though; it's all worth it.  We are beyond excited and our son (who turned 2 yesterday) will be the best big brother!

Obviously this means my priorities have changed a little.  Over the next few months I'll be preparing my family and home for the new baby while busting my hump to advance my writing to the publishing level, or at least close to it.  And I will be implementing some of the promised new features.  

First up will, most likely, be my post on loglines.  I've had plenty of time to research and read loglines, watching them develop from rough to perfect, and it was quite the learning experience--one I feel will benefit all of you.  After that I'll host a logline clinic/critique session for anyone who wants to perfect theirs.  This will be the first in a series (I hope) of novel pitch package development I'd like to host.  Perfecting your novel is just the first step in the process; perfecting your pitch package is what gets that perfected manuscript to the agent's desk.  I'll talk more about that soon.

I'm also excited to announce that my blog will be expanding to a website, as I've talked about doing forever now.  In addition to helping my fellow writers mold their crafts through informational posts and crit rounds, I'll be offering some professional services like beta-reading and critiquing.  I love reading and working directly with writers, so this is something I'm thrilled to finally offer on a broader scale.  

This month's critique round will be announced shortly, so stay tuned to my Facebook and Twitter feeds for the information and call for submissions.  

That's it for now.  Get excited, because I certainly am!  <3