Sunday, January 27, 2013

January Test Run #10

TITLE: Synthesis 
GENRE: Women's fiction 

The dim restaurant light and the candles’ glow let the freckles on Valery’s cleavage dance. 

“How they might taste, those sassy freckles on that skin delicate like rice paper?” Emmy wonders and immediately drowns the question in a swig of Chablis. It joins the other rebellious Valery-regarding-questions grumbling in Emmy stomach, adding to the nausea that’s been tormenting her all evening. Emmy doesn’t understand why she keeps staring at Valery’s boobs, like a dog in front of a treat that’s out of reach. So far she’s never been interested in boobs other than her own.

Tom makes a corny joke and Valery throws her head back and laughs, loud and high-pitched. Emmy doesn’t like it when Valery drinks too much and gets like this, fake flashy and flirtatious. Who is she trying to impress? Tom, her husband for nine years? “The boys”, as Valery calls her friends Jack and Martin, who are visiting from Los Angeles and are engaged to each other? Certainly not Emmy, that’s for sure.

Disapprovingly Emmy gazes at Valery’s open mouth and feels ashamed, because all she can think of is that she would love to kiss those tantalizing lips, even though they are too small for her taste. Emmy has a thing for juicy lips, at least when it comes to men.

“Are you okay?” the too-small-lips suddenly inquire and the latent irritated tone startles Emmy. The question is aimed at her. “You’re oddly quiet today.”

Does that mean she usually talks too much? Emmy feels small and inferior, like so often in Valery’s company. 

January Test Run #9

Title: The Girl From Tanya's Dream
Genre: MG Paranormal

"NO!" Tanya called out as she sat up in bed.  

Her flannel pajamas clung to her back like a magnet to the fridge. The
fear racing through her body turned her stomach into a pile of knots.
It couldn't be anything but a dream, could it?

She stared at the magazine on her nightstand that she'd been reading
before bed. It said  that if you dreamt something more than five times
it ended up coming true. And if that was the case, then trouble had
come knocking on her door.

While the sun peeked around the curtains, Tanya turned on the lamp
next to her bed and reached for the journal on her nightstand. Her
fingers traced the stitching on the spine of the brown leather book.
Three weeks ago, it'd been a gift from her mother for her eleventh
birthday, April the thirteenth. It happened to be the third time
Tanya's birthday had fallen on a Friday. The first being the day she'd
been born. While this last birthday had started out just like all the
others, it didn't end that way. That night the dreams had started.

The first dream haunted Tanya, etched in her memory like words into
marble. She'd had the same dream twenty-one nights in a row. It had to
be a record of some sort.

After the first week she began to jot the dreams down in her journal.
Four different dreams repeated themselves, but only the first one
occurred nightly.

January Test Run #8

TITLE: Brothers On The Rim
GENRE: YA Thriller

“Wait, where are you going?”

“Remember the short cut? Mom used to tell us to follow the white trillium flowers if we ever got lost; they wind along the creek through to Mr. Potters,” Artie reminded me.

“Art—hold up.”

For a little guy he sure was fast on his feet. You’d think the wet grass would slow him down, but not Artie. What he lacked in strength he made up for in agility. I, however, do slip, and catch myself before I’m flat in the mud. I reach Artie at the edge of the ravine. The Trillium flowers line the creek and the creek winds upstream from the ravine. Art stands, staring out over the drop; the cold wind wears on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

It takes a minute for Art to figure out what to say. I know he’s thinking about Mom. 

“Ah, nothing.”

He knows I know.

And like that, I let it be. There’s an understanding between us, like a secret language, we’ve had to use to conceal our communication when Dad’s around. Our father has very little reserve for our “flights of fancy” –Dad’s words, but most probably, originally, Mom’s words.

We ramble back through the thicket of bare branches, through the buds on the verge of bursting open for the new spring. My breath floats around me. Somehow I’ve gotten ahead of Art. I turn to see if he’s listening; I’ve been talking on and on.

January Test Run #7

TITLE: The Only One
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Shae Mackenna inhaled deeply as she walked down the cinder-block hallway, skates blades cushioned by the rubber carpeting underfoot. The slightly musty tang of brinewater, punctuated with strong overtones of rancid hockey equipment told her she was home.

She let out her breath as she arrived at the players’ bench, stepping towards the closed gate that kept her on the wrong side of the ice. She waited to make eye contact with any of the men out on the ice. After she rapped her stick over the boards, one finally looked her way.

“Hey,” she called out through her helmet cage. “Can I play?”

The nearest players glided to a stop in front of her, open-mouthed, red-faced and puffing. They looked at each other, each waiting for someone else to answer her question.

“I said: Can I play?” Shae asked again, drawing out each word enough to be clear but not so slowly as to insult them. She puffed out her chest a bit, looking several of the guys straight in the eye. It was a minor detail that ice level was a few inches lower than the bench area; right now, she needed every inch she could get.

“Look, no offense, sweetheart…” started one of the chubbier, shorter players, which Shae met with a scoff. Calling her sweetheart was only something her father could get away with. It wasn’t cool from a total stranger, especially some out-of-shape plug.

“What’s the big deal?” she asked, keeping her tone casual. “Gimme five minutes. If I can’t hack it, I'll leave.” 

January Test Run #6

TITLE: The Shadow Service
GENRE: Urban fantasy

They have sent another one. Antonio glanced at the warning from the deputy minister and absent-mindedly shredded the note with his pale fingers.

A few years ago such a memo would have filled him with something akin to excitement. But quite frankly, the spies had disappointed him. It had been absurdly easy to control their minds, although he always felt vaguely guilty exercising his powers. After all, as a former Jesuit priest, he had once stood on the side of the church.

Antonio sighed and dropped the feathery strips of paper into his waste paper basket. He peered at his nails. They were far too long, more like pointed talons. He made a mental note to pare them before he went out for the night.

He checked his watch. It was almost 10 a.m., but you would never know it. The windowless office was cast in perpetual gloom.  The weak light from the solitary desk lamp and soft glow of his computer screen provided enough light to reveal walls as bare as a monk’s cell. It would seem old habits were hard to break. Except for the framed photo on his bookcase, the Persian carpet blanketing the floor was his only concession to adornment. In fact, the rug proved quite useful; it hid the green carpeting that spread across government office floors like creeping mold.

Antonio scanned the staff meeting agenda on the desk before him. He straightened his tie and smoothed back his hair. With the grace of an athlete, he rose from his desk and stretched his limbs luxuriously. It was time to meet his latest adversary.

January Test Run #5

TITLE: Shadowcatchers
GENRE: Upper MG Fantasy

Zane slouched in the shade of a stall, casually eating a fig, while he watched his prey move with purpose through the market. The man seemed anxious to keep out of the sunlight that was drenching the market in heat and light, but whether it was to keep cool or to protect his shadow, Zane didn't know. Either way, he'd have to be careful.

Zane finished his fig and double-checked the sketch in his hand, just to be sure. Same fair hair and beard, same gray eyes, same snaggle-toothed smile. It was definitely him. Zane peeled himself off the wall and slipped across the sandy square towards his mark. In the middle of the square, some rogue chickens escaped their cages and squawked out into his path, looking for food. He side-stepped them clumsily and checked to see if his stumble had called attention to him, but no one seemed to have noticed either him or the birds. Just in case, he moved down a few stalls and pretended to study the clay pots on display.

The man he was hunting walked past without even a glance. Zane took a pinch of Silkshade powder from the pouch on his belt and made ready to use it. When the man stopped to buy some sad-looking turnips, Zane slipped up behind him and dropped the powder onto the ground. Deftly, Zane sneaked his foot forward, simultaneously removing a handkerchief from his pocket. Now for the tricky part.

January Test Run #4

GENRE:  Paranormal Fantasy

It was the beginning.

The rebirth of the auld fused together with the new.  Of time gone backwards then brought forward sparkling to those that believed in magic.

I was chosen to journal all that was it and what it was to become – New Avalon.  A township of mystical, magical people set on the wondrous path of resurrecting an old place in time where peace, unity and the ways of the gods and goddesses were worshipped and revered. The witches of SalemMassachusetts and the world over have had enough.  Persecution still exists even though the witch trials ended decades ago.  Outsiders don’t understand, and probably never will.  It’s easier for them to frown upon, cast angry glances, or fear the witch then it is to take the time to understand.  

Longing for the days of auld where magical abilities were honed and used in society, witches far and wide stood together and directed their energy to those in Salem who raised it - a protective, luminescent, energy sphere.  The time had come to bring it all back.  And, that is just what happened.  

As most do here, I remember the night it happened. The awe and fear as the elemental forces passed through me.  The wonder and thrill of having my sixth sense opened and attuned to everything around me. To feel alive and know that what was happening was a good thing. And, for some time, it was good.  I say was because time has a way of changing people and their ways.  

January Test Run #3

TITLE: Knolls Hollow
GENRE: Fantasy

Frank Delaney follows his usual morning path, his long gray trench coat trailing behind him, almost catching in the spokes of his old black bike.

“Mornin’ Mr Delaney.” Tom Farlene says with a mischievous smile and a brief nod of his head.
“Hmm…” Frank responds begrudgingly as he whizzes by, the early morning sunlight bouncing off the gleam on the top of his balding head.
Tom smiles and gives a gentle nudge to the young man standing next to him on the bridge, expecting no more of a response from the cantankerous old fool.
“Do you have nothin’ better to do Tom Farlene?” Ellen Richmond yells from the stunted doorway of her childhood home, furiously wiping her jelly stained hands in her graying housecoat. 
Tom chuckles to himself before returning to watching the pebble that he just kicked across the narrow street with a fierce intensity.

Frank dismounts the bike, rubbing his hand along the old saddle, refraining from spit shining before leaning it carefully against the tired walls of the local grocery store. He studies the empty village road, his blue eyes hidden beneath the mask of unruly gray eyebrows. He eyes Tom Farlene skeptically, ignoring Ellen Richmond’s friendly waves before burying his hands deep inside his pockets and stepping inside the dank, musty corner shop.
“Frank!” John Kelly greets him from behind the deep counter, his wide smile failing to hide the pitying look he gives the old man. 

January Test Run #2

TITLE: Dreamcatcher
GENRE: YA Speculative

The first things I notice when I come to are the rough pavement against my right cheek and the taste of copper coating my tongue like a layer of fresh paint. My head’s pounding and I want nothing more than to hurl—preferably on the idiot driver of the minivan that just hit me. Then again, the pavement right before my face is looking pretty good too.
My head hurts worse than when Remy starts playing that dumb rap station so loud it makes the entire second floor of the house vibrate. Angela thought it was an earthquake the first time he cranked it up while she was over. That was entertaining.
I laugh at the sheer patheticness of it all—I get hit by a car, and the first thing I do is think of my brother—and my stomach turns over, squirming against my breakfast. It’s as I go to sit up, rubbing at my temples and feeling the warm, slick moisture slide over my fingertips, dripping red across my vision, that I finally do feel my stomach lurch enough to force the vomit up and out of my throat, and then I am heaving across the pavement, only vaguely aware of the ambulance siren in the distance.
It’s as I’m throwing up that the woman behind the wheel of the minivan finally realizes she hasn’t killed me and comes rushing out to make sure I’m not going to die anytime in the near future, either.

January Test Run #1

TITLE: Dear Katherine
GENRE: Science Fiction (adult)

My life began the day I turned eighteen and fell off a planet for the first time. Up until then I hadn't started living--I had just existed.

I had left school set on visiting every one of the one hundred and fifty inhabited planet in the Tetracoil Galaxy and fourteen years later I was very close to achieving that goal. By the time I arrived on Millanos, I had fallen on and off most of those planets and had sped through the one hundred and forty two wormholes between them. Even though all planets were unique in their own way, I didn't think anything could really surprise me anymore. I was ready to show off that I understood the galaxy better than anyone who lived in it. I was ready to display that expertise with an eye-catching tattoo.

But the local artist sent me back to my drawing book when he said what I showed him was beyond his skills. Apparently they didn’t use robots on this planet. I wasn’t going to wait until the next one. There were only eight planets I hadn't visited and I didn't know if body art was popular in any of them. They hadn't taught that kind of stuff in school and I had failed to find a tattooing station in the last three planets already.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January "Test Run" First Page Critique Round--Call For Submissions!!

***The submission window is now closed.  Thanks to everyone who entered and be sure to check back tomorrow 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 January 23 at 9:00 AM EST until Saturday, January 26 at 9:00 PM EST, I will accept submissions. I will post them on January 27 here at KTCROWLEY.COM for critiquing. 

Please send submissions to ktcritiques [AT]

In the subject, please state "JAN TEST RUN”.

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 your 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 25 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.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"The Hangover" Critique Participants--Comments Are Still Open!

Just a quick and friendly reminder: If you are a participant of Round 1 or 2 and have not completed your minimum of 5 critiques, the comments are still open to do so.

Remember, even if you think your feedback isn't needed, post it anyway; it is needed and beyond appreciated! Let's keep this as fair and equal for everyone involved, especially those who have already posted their 5 critiques, one of which may be of your work.

Thanks so much, everyone, for entering and making these two rounds successful. You all rock!

Stay tuned for January's critique round announcement (on here, Facebook and Twitter) and the first blog post of 2013.