Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Fear and Critiques--Even Seasoned Writers Fear the Red-Penned Reaper" Guest Post

Hey, everyone!

First, thanks to the writers and readers who've participated so far in this month's critique round.  There are, once again, some amazing entries and I hope you're all spreading the word (after leaving your own critiques, of course) to help these writers get the feedback they deserve.

Speaking of critiques and feedback, I have a guest post about said topic over on author PW Creighton's website.  I would love for you to check it out, leave your thoughts, and tell your friends about it.  Here's the link:

I'd be lying if I said I didn't stress over what to write about when I was asked to guest post.  It's funny; I have no issues posting on my own website, but ask me to post elsewhere and I shake in my boots.  Hopefully you'll find it useful and I hope his readers do, too.  I'm still suffering residual nervousness, haha.  So your support, like always, is appreciated! 

While you're there, make sure to check out his site.  PW is a wonderful writer and blogger, and he's someone I have much respect for.  I very much enjoy his posts and appreciate his friendship in the writing community.

That's all for now.  Hugs and inspiration to each of you.  <3

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Test Run #7

Title: The Changeling
Genre: YA Paranormal
I came home from the hospital on the anniversary of my sister’s death. Mom kept chatting away with nervous energy, fingers tapping on the wheel of the car as she drove. I didn’t recognize the way she took. Then again, this would be the first time I saw the new house, bought 3 years ago.

“I got you registered for school last week,” she said bringing me out of my thoughts.


“I got you registered for school. Eleventh grade.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I asked.

“You have another week before school starts, so you’ll have time to prepare.” She cast a quick glance my way. “Besides, Dr. Morris said you should get used to a normal routine and what’s more normal for a sixteen year old than high school?”

I shook my head and turned to look out of the window again. Normal for me was very different than most teenagers my age. I knew as soon as I stepped foot in the school everyone would know me as the crazy girl who spent four and a half years in the nut house.

“So you talked to Dr. Morris about this?”

“Of course I did, honey,” she said to me, not a little exasperated. “I’m not going to do anything that would-”

“Send me to Nutsville again,” I finished for her.

“Hey, Dr. Morris has said time and time again that the emotional trauma you went through would have left it’s mark on any young girl.”

May Test Run #6

TITLE: Listen to Me
GENRE: YA contemporary with magical realism

As he sinks slowly into the chair across from me, he looks just like a doctor should -- greying hair, a well-trimmed beard with badger-stripes framing his lips, and wire rimmed glasses his wife must have chosen. They're far too tasteful compared to the awful polyester shirt and pants he's wearing. On the plus side, his smile seems genuine.
"How are you feeling about today, Stacy?" His voice is too loud for the muted tones of the room -- all earthy browns and soft corners. It's his office, but he's tried to make it look like a living room -- complete with a coffee table squatting between us and lamps on the varnished surfaces at our sides. Too bad the external door has a combination lock. Kind of kills the good-time vibe.
He's waiting for an answer. I start to shrug, then freeze in place until the razors of pain ease. My stitches are all out now, but the hard pink lines spiderwebbing across most of my upper body are just a pitiful attempt at healing. Underneath I am still many layers of mangled nerve endings and fractured flesh.
Doctor hears me catch my breath and his eyes snap to mine. All that beguiling disinterest is an act. He is measuring me.
"Pain?" he says, softly this time.
"Yes. But it's not so bad. I just moved wrong." It burns and crackles under my skin until I want to scream.  But I won't tell him that.

May Test Run #5

TITLE: Threads
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The soldiers boarded up the doors of Flynn’s house and set it on fire
in the night.

Climbing through the cracks of the splintered door, Flynn grabbed his
two-year-old sister Mena from his mother’s battered hands and ran
through the flames, knowing the cracks were too small for his parents
to escape. He flew down the blazing streets of the snowy mountain town
and struggled to stay upright amongst the bloody slush beneath his
feet. A monstrous army, dressed in bronze and green, trampled through
the streets between the houses and snatched up the people running from
their burning homes while those still trapped in their houses screamed
and thrashed against the walls.

Flynn gagged on the smoke, held Mena closer to his chest, and skidded
onto the last street of the town, ducking under an arrow and slipping
on the ice. Another arrow flew by his face as Mena sobbed into his
shoulder. Her hands clutched his neck and hair, and the last image of
his mother’s bloody hands stuck in his mind. Flynn swallowed back a

Laughter rang out behind him. He turned and saw his elderly neighbors,
dead and splayed out in the dull red snow filling their basement
doorway. The laughing soldiers kicked the bodies back into the
smoke-filled basement. Flynn blinked and turned away. Skidding across
the ice, he twisted his body and darted between two shouting soldiers
standing between him and the safety of the woods. Mena screamed.

May Test Run #4

TITLE: Running From Shadows
GENRE: YA paranormal

The giant oaks of the Red Forest loomed above me. Unease prickled down my spine. Something else was in the woods. Lurking in the shadows. Watching me. I froze mid-step, ice in my veins. Peered into the darkness with my breath caught in my throat.

Haven slammed into my back. “Greta, seriously?”

A shiver rippled through me. The thing in the shadows had taken my attention so completely I’d forgotten that my two best friends trailed behind me. What was that thing? Had I imagined it?

When I didn’t answer she stomped in front of me. “Don’t just stop like that.” Haven smoothed a loose strand of pink hair behind her ear. “Damn. Maybe I should take the lead.”

“Whatever, girl.” I risked a quick glance over Haven’s shoulder toward the shadowy figure. Gone.

“What are you looking at?” She followed my gaze.

Jill joined us, her blond hair swaying over her shoulders as she bobbed her head up and down. The giddy smile on her face said she might start clapping at any second. “Ooh, I hope it’s something witchy and dangerous.”

Jill was ecstatic to cast a spell with us. Haven hadn’t ever asked her and I’d never been skilled enough to lead a circle. Until now. I took a deep breath. Was I crazy for needing to do this? For wanting answers? Part of me had always felt carved out. Missing. Today, I was hoping to find a reason.

“Probably just a deer. Come on.” I gave Haven the let’s-move look and marched past both of them. Leaves crunched under my feet and a cool breeze nipped at my cheeks.

Haven raced up to my right side. “You do realize we’re gonna have to hike out of the woods in the dark, right?”

“It’s okay. The spell has to be done at sunset,” Jill chimed in on my left.

“How does she know that and I don’t?” Haven stopped walking. “She’s not even a witch.”

May Test Run #3

TITLE:  Jumpers
GENRE: Horror

“Rain, rain, go away.  Come again some other day.”  The two girls’ half-sang, half-chanted as they held hands and skipped through the field on the way to school.  They stopped short when they came to the fence that separated the old red brick building from the woods.   

“Whatcha think?” Amy asked smiling mischievously at her friend.  “You want to go check it out?”

Lily stared at the dark woods.  Her stomach began doing all kinds of nervous little flip-flops at the thought of going in there.  It was against the rules, everybody knew that.  Bad things happened in there.  Children went in but never came out.  At least that’s what Marty had told them when Amy asked why no one ever played in there. Marty was the bravest fifth-grader she knew and even he didn’t go in there.  She looked at Amy and shook her head. “I’m not going in there.  You know what happens.  Besides it’s against the rules.”

“Rules schmooze.  I don’t believe what they say anyways.  It’s just a story the big kids tell us to try and ruin our fun,” Amy said as she climbed over the fence.  “Come on.  Let’s check it out.  We won’t go near it or anything.”

“Amy come on, come back.  If anyone sees you we’ll get in big trouble.”  She watched Amy begin tromping into the woods.  “Amy.  Please,” Lily pleaded as she looked around to see if anyone saw.

“You know what Lily, you’re a chicken.  Bwak bwak.”

“Am not. I just…,” Lily stopped and looked down at her feet as hot tears threatened to fall.

May Test Run #2

TITLE: Institutionalized
GENRE: Contemporary YA

That last rum and Coke was a big mistake. I gripped the aluminum ladder. The world swirled around me. I burped and the sickly sweet smell made me gag. Mom would be so proud. I giggled at the thought, letting loose with one hand and swaying a little.

“Damn it, Sara, hold on with both hands up there,” Dylan called from below.

“Shhh,” I held a finger up to my lips and looked down at my date. “I got this.” I adjusted the plastic crown that had slid to the side of my head. I smoothed down the fly-away toile of the dress I borrowed from my sister Sam, straightened my shoulders, and started climbing. Man, is this thing wobbly. I started giggling again. I tried to choke it off, but ended up snorting instead. That only made me laugh harder.

“C’mon! You’re gonna wake up your parents.”

I sighed. Dylan was getting tiresome. He’d been awesome at the Spring Fling dance. He’d told me that I was beautiful and the kissing – oh, my God. I could’ve done that all night. My heel slipped on the metal rung.

“Ahhh!” I hugged the cold metal. It felt soothing on my cheek. Everything was spinning.

“Shit!” Dylan said. “Are you all right?”

“Mmm, hmm.” I clung to the flimsy ladder, still swaying. “Gimme a minute.” Looking up, I could see I was halfway there. My sister’s light was on. She had called me about two hours ago freaking out. I didn’t know why.

May Test Run #1

Title: Seven Days
Genre: Horror

Todd Stowman groaned. 

His eyelids fluttered open, and his vision was blurry.  Somewhere in the room, water dripped into a pool in a constant staccato of plips and plops.

Todd squinted to try to bring his eyes into focus,  as much as he could in the dim light anyway.  The only illumination was a bare incandescent light bulb that flickered and sputtered, casting odd shadows all around.  The whole room stunk of mildew mingled with rot.  The walls, as much as he could see them in the wavering light, were slick with moisture and glistened with black mold.  Where there wasn't mold, Todd saw bare concrete, pocked and pitted with the passing of time and the action of water.

He found a patch of bare concrete and stared at it for a long moment, trying to cut through the static in his brain.  It was as if he were lost in a fog, with no beacon to guide him. The more he focused though, the more the fog began to lift.  And as the fog in his mind began to recede, he became aware of a throbbing pain in the back of his right hand.  When he tried to life it to get a look at what might be wrong, but he met unyielding resistance.  He tried to lift his left hand as well, but met the same resistance. 

Realizing that he wasn't able to move made lucidity shoot through him, as if someone had injected caffeine directly into his brain.

May's Critique Round

Just a quick post to say that I've extended the submission window until 7 PM EDT tonight for entries as this round has been more quiet than usual.  I probably shouldn't have picked a long weekend to open it on, ha ha.

I was asked why I offer these rounds.  Simply, these critique rounds are to help out my fellow writers.  It's an opportunity I give to each of you to get your work out there and grab valuable feedback that is only going to improve your story (and your writing) by allowing other writers and readers to tell you things about your work you may not see.  I'm a big fan of critiques, as they've strengthen my own work and given me insight from a reader's point of view, something that not every writer gets.  The readers are the ones who will ultimately decide the success of your finished work, so taking advantage of their opinions is a crucial step to perfecting it, especially for those planning on publishing. 

So don't miss out!  ;-)

Thanks to those who've entered this round and previous rounds.  Your writing amazes me, and I'm happy to offer you a venue to display your art for open eyes. 

Hugs to all. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May Test Run Critique Round *Call for Submissions*

****The submission window is now closed.  Thanks to everyone who entered and be sure to check back soon for the entries!***

This critiquing round will be a “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 Thursday, May 24 at 10:00 PM EDT until Sunday, May 27 at 7:00 PM EDT, I will accept submissions. I will post them later that evening (between 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM EDT) right here at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing.

Please send submissions to ktcritiques [AT]

In the subject, please state "MAY 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.  Your screen name is the name you'll use to critique others in the comments.) 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.  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.  Also, if you're not a follower of my blog, please do so, so I can continue to offer rounds like this to help writers like you perfect your work.  :)

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