Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Grab My Heart Critique Guidelines

The entries are up, so have at it! I couldn't help but notice the hefty amount of fantasy included here. (That's not a complaint! I mean, I write fantasy. Just an interesting observation!)

I won't be leaving critique, but I WILL be choosing my 3 favorites, each of which will receive a 5-page critique (privately). Look for that announcement tomorrow!

Guidelines for Critique on MSFV:

  • Please leave your critique for each entry in the comment box for that entry.
  • Please choose a screen name to sign your comments. The screen name DOES NOT have to be your real name; however, it needs to be an identifiable name. ("Anonymous" is not a name.)
  • Critiques should be honest but kind, helpful but sensitive.
  • Critiques that attack the writer or are couched in unkind words will be deleted.*
  • Cheerleading IS NOT THE SAME as critiquing. Please don't cheerlead.
  • Having said that, it is perfectly acceptable to say positive things about an entry that you feel is strong. To make these positive comments more helpful, say why it's a strong entry.
  • ENTRANTS: As your way of "giving back", please critique a minimum of 5 other entries.

*I can't possibly read every comment. If you ever see a comment that is truly snarky, please email me. I count on your help.

Grab My Heart #36

TITLE: Hunting Legends
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Raid has no idea he’s falling for the girl of his nightmares when Azrielle, a human-cockatrice hybrid with a lethal gaze, infiltrates his elite squad of teenage monster hunters. Her objective is to stop the rising body count—not flirt with the enemy. If her identity is exposed, she’s dead.

Fastest way to a guy’s heart is a bullet between the third and fourth rib. Knife works too, but it’s slower, messier, and requires close range. I don’t need either. I’ve got something better.

Static crackles over the comm in my ear as I tail a group of humans creeping through the French Quarter ruins. If they see me, they’re dead. Dressed in black gear, the Venators think they blend with the dark as if night vision goggles aren’t a thing, glowing green in the middle of the road through my NVGs. They should know better than to hunt us in our territory. No way they’re reclaiming this city. It belongs to Legends, ‘monsters’ like me. More than eighty miles from the nearest functioning civilization, light pollution can’t touch us out in the Dead Zone.

Clouds cloak the sky, hiding the moon and stars, threatening luke-cold January rain. Won’t be enough to drop the temperature. Sweat collects at the nape of my neck, humidity weighing down the air in my lungs. I miss snow and ice.

These humans are all that stand between me and freedom. Seven bodies left. I already eliminated the other two units. Kills still fresh in my system, phantoms of their dying heartbeats echo in my chest. Finish this one last mission and my service debt—or rather my father’s—will be fulfilled. Do this and I’m done. No more Shade and their self-righteous crusade of noble intentions that lead straight to the graveyard.

Grab My Heart #35

TITLE: How to Save a Friend
GENRE: MG Contemporary

Sixth grade was supposed to give Felicity bravery. It gives her a mess. The new president of the Northern States wants to deport the ‘Southies’, immigrants from the Southern States.

Then Felicity gets in the middle of it. She makes friends with a wisecracking Southie named Madrid. Staying friends requires bravery—or foolhardiness, with the imminent deportation.

But she can’t just walk away.

HOW TO SAVE A FRIEND is middle-grade contemporary fiction with a twist. It is 40,000 words.

            Some people say it began when the election did—when every person in the country heard and saw who was going for the top. Others say it started when the final candidates were picked, and the promises started to happen.

            For me, it started when I came to breakfast one morning, following the smell of scrambled eggs. My parents were smiling, and I knew what had happened. I knew before I looked at the newspaper dangling from Dad’s grip. I knew before I read the blaring headline.

In presidential election, the country chooses The Honest Way.

            It was my first real election, since I was seven during the last one. I was eleven then, my twelfth birthday drawing nearer as fifth grade drew to a close. But though I watched the men debate on television, I had no clue what was really going on. I barely knew who the candidates were, much less their campaigns.

            My parents had voted for him. They thought he was the best option, and fooled themselves into thinking that meant good.

            At my school, if the election came up at all, everyone would just say what their parents had said. Almost all the kids said their parents were voting for the Bard.

            The Bard was his nickname.

Grab My Heart #34

TITLE: Next To Me
GENRE: YA Gothic Ghost

What if you made a promise to someone but 170 years later, you broke it?

A small blackboard sign outside O’Neill’s Irish Pub, on the opposite side of the road, caught my eye. It read: Trouble sleeping?

“Ah! Yer man? He’s proving right popular there today. Straight on and down the stairs,” he said pointing straight ahead. “Now, would ye care for a pint or a bit of carvery?”

“No, thank you,” we replied in unison.

Cautiously we made our way down a set of narrow wooden stairs and noticed the door at the bottom. The lighting was poor, and the bulb emanated a reddish glow that reminded me of an Indian restaurant we used to frequent regularly on Lexington Avenue that had since shut down. God, how I missed that butter chicken dish.

I put my hand to my nose; the stench of urine was overpowering. Mom made a sick face and pointed to a sign saying ‘toilets.’ Ugh.

Softly, Mom pushed down the handle of the door and stepped inside the room, I followed her and spied a massive man with his back to us. Empty cans from a party the night before littered the floor and the room stank of stale beer.

His black hair was shaved to the scalp and his head was shaped like a full moon. He rocked gently back and forth in a trance-like motion as he talked to someone behind a pillar; hidden from view. I could hear her soft sobs and I watched as he comforted her. I felt awkward. We stood there for a few minutes until Mom decided the stench was too awful to bear and stomped over to a chair not far from where the others sat.

The man instantly swung around to face us.

Grab My Heart #33

TITLE: The Quicksilver Conspiracy
GENRE: Adult Fantasy

When 16-year-old Kira’s best friend dies, Kira - convinced she is still alive - goes to the castle where she disappeared to rescue her. But to save her friend, Kira must kill an undead spirit, a choice that will destroy the magic protecting their city and Kira’s one chance to erase a memory she is desperate to forget.

“Come on, G. No one is going to die tonight.” Jerril Menkaure made another swipe for the ring of cast-iron keys, her electric blue nail polish leaving a trail of iridescent sparks in the dim sitting room.
Her goyle’s ears flattened against his head, and he hopped backwards, barring the way to the locked door her brother had strictly ordered her to stay away from. In his hard, dark eyes, the reflection of candle flames flickered.

“Nothing terrible happened when you broke me out of my room, did it? No monsters showed up then.”

Talons clutched the key ring tighter to the goyle’s chest. A string of harsh, staccato chirps burst from his mouth.

“But nothing’s here now. It’ll just take us a couple minutes in the library. In and out. I promise. If you can’t smell it -”

A fierce hiss startled her to silence.

 “Yes, I know everything here stinks to you. But trust me, if it’s in there, it’ll smell worse than anything else. You can find it before she shows up.”

G’s eyes bulged, and with a snap, his leathery wings spread to their full span.

“So now you’re just going to leave me to do this alone? You know if Jord said to stay out, that’s a good sign this is where he’s hiding it.”

With an explosive pop, G shifted into a foot-high woman with long black hair, bloodshot eyes, and fangs curling over her lips.