Monday, December 17, 2012

Hangover Round 1 Entry #17

GENRE: MG Contemporary

What do you do when life hands you a bunch of apple boxes? You move. Again. Soon to be 8thgrader Jayden relies on her wit, humor, and frustratingly quirky family to make this lonely and boring summer one she will never forget.

“Hey Jay-Bird, are you in there?” I heard Dad holler into the house from the garage, “I need you to come out here and give me a hand.”  Ugh, what now.  I put a bookmark between the pages of my book, tossed it aside, slipped on my sandals and headed out front.
            Dad’s truck was parked in the driveway and the back was filled with empty apple boxes. I stopped in my tracks and my heart sank. Oh man, here we go again 
            “Dad, does this mean what I think it means?”
            “Do you think it means we’re moving?” he replied with a tinge of his usual sarcasm.
            “Well, it’s the first thing that came to mind.” I sassed back.
            “Then yes, oh Observant One, you are correct.”
            Apple boxes.  It’s always apple boxes.  Occasionally a banana box finds its way home, but mostly apple.  They are the perfect size, he says.  And they usually have cut out handles – makes them easier to carry.  He also worked at a grocery store, which made them easy to come by.
            “Already?” I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air. “We haven’t even been here six months.”
            “The landlord is putting this house up for sale,” he said as he dropped the tailgate. “We’re not going to sit around and wait for him to kick us out.  Mom and I found another place not too far from here and we can move in right now.  Might as well get it over with.”
            How far is not too far? I sighed loudly and grabbed a couple of boxes. 


  1. I enjoyed this a lot. A couple of minor quibbles:

    There are some phrasings that seemed awkward or repetitive. Here are two examples:

    Example: "I put a bookmark between the pages of my book" The sarcasm-generator in me piped up, "Well, where else would you put it?" You could just shorten it to "I tossed my book aside, slipped on my sandles, and headed out front."

    Example: After "I stopped in my tracks and my heart sank." I think you could cut "Oh man, here we go again" and jump straight to "Dad, does this mean..."

    Punctuation-wise, I noticed several comma errors which, in some cases, created run-on sentences (example "Mom and I found another place not too far from here[,], and we can move in right now." It certainly didn't make your work illegible, but it may be something you want to look for.

    As always, this is all just MHO, so please use or disregard as you see fit.

  2. I enjoyed reading this and would definitely read more. I like the voice and am curious as to how the move turns out and am anxious to get to know the family. The logline makes me curious about the family, however the mention of apple boxes seemed a bit confusing, as I didn't get the connection. After reading the opening lines I do get the connection between the apple boxes and moving, but for someone who hasn't read any of the story yet it might seem confusing. Good job and good luck!

  3. This is really good. In the 1st paragraph it seems like there is a shift change. 'Put' feels present, and then it's switched back to past tense. 'Placed' may work better.

  4. Nice to read a children’s book that isn’t sci fi fantasy. Kids also need other well written genres. It’s almost brave to run counter to popular mode and write a realistic contemporary story. Good for you for this fine effort. Beginning with a line of dialogue before any characterization or location is established is a bit dangerous. You’re plunging your reader into so much that’s unknown. Write a sentence or two that tell us something about Jay-Bird (love the nickname,) maybe about how she’s looking forward to going to the town carnival with newly made friends, or exploring a part of the town that she’s just discovered, or hoping to win the science fair next month. Mine are awful ideas, but you get the point. Place Jay-Bird in the community that her parents plan to rip her away from. Then you’ll create immediate sympathy for her. (I think this is a girl, and that’s another bit of info we need right away.) Father sounds a bit snarky and I’m not sure I like him, but maybe that’s the point. Jay-Bird has to survive in a world Scotch taped together by parents who aren’t well put together at all. I like the tone, the intimacy, and I think your readers will like this quirky, feisty heroine.

    1. I sincerely thank you for that much needed dose of encouragement...and if only I had come up with, "Jay-Bird has to survive in a world Scotch taped together by parents who aren’t well put together at all."

  5. I like this. The first line of the logline is great, but I wonder if this part, "...relies on her wit, humor, and frustratingly quirky family to make this lonely and boring summer one she will never forget." could work harder for you. Loglines are not my forte though, so I could be full of you know what.

    I don't think you need to embellish the speaking attributions (I know there's a word for that, but I can't put my finger on it right now.) So instead of "he replied with a tinge of his usual sarcasm" I'd use "he said." And I'd leave off, "I sassed back" altogether. Let the dialogue do it's part for you.

    I've also been told that the parenthetical asides (like "oh man, here we go again") are sometimes better left off, but I kind of like them. Of course, I'm not published so what do I know? Anyway, good job.