Friday, November 11, 2016

On The Block #6 - KYTE'S REVENGE 9:50 AM EST

TITLE: Kyte's Revenge
GENRE: YA Contemporary Speculative Fiction

When Kyte escapes from a boy who tries to rape her, he dies in a freak accident that suggests she put a bilongo on him. But Kyte asked Mama Jo for revenge, not a killing spell. Now Kyte must use the powerful Santeria she’s learning from her grandfather to prove herself innocent.

A dozen people file into the cabin, each carrying an ebbó. They hand their offerings to me as they enter. Fruit. Polished pebbles. A bottle of rum. I place their ebbós on a cloth-draped table. Painted statues of saints crowd its surface. Candles nest on plates, and a stone face with eyes and mouth made of shells sits in the place of honor at the center.

One by one, the men and women make their way across the oaken floor through patches of sunlight. Some nod or speak my name as they pass. We all wear white to show respect. Strings of colored beads hang around our necks.

The people wait patiently for their spiritual leader, their high priest. These followers of Santeria call him Babalawo.

I call him grandfather.

Pride fills my heart as I watch. Baba is kind and wise. He helps so many people. He sits in a chair in the middle of the room and Señor Ortega stands behind him.

A woman named Aleta approaches Baba with timid steps and swollen eyes. She dips into a deep bow.
“Stand, Daughter,” Baba says. “How can I help?”

“My man don’t love me no more, Babalawo.” Tears glisten on her face, trail down her cheeks. “What can I do? I can’t bear to lose him.” She sways on her feet.

I rush forward to steady Aleta. She looks so lost my heart melts.

She grabs my hand and blinks. “Gracias, Kyte.” She turns to Baba and bows again.


  1. The scene is definitely captivating, and full of good imagery. However, I'm wondering if this story is starting in the right place. If I hadn't read the logline, I wouldn't know the problem because there aren't any hints about the conflict that the MC faces and it is difficult to understand where the story is headed.

  2. The logline includes terms, Santeria, bilongo, that I'm not familiar with. How soon after the attempted rape (days, weeks) did the boy die? When reading the first page, I expected the scene to be related to the death of the boy. Although interesting, will the first chapter tie into the main problem of Kyte trying to prove she's innocent? (Anonymous Sherry S.)

  3. The promise of a fresh premise always excites me. While I don't mind starting the story with setting, I think it's important in YA to showcase your character right away. We see her place something on a table, but then it's all about her grandfather and then the woman who seeks his help. Give us more of Kyte's emotions/thoughts/etc. earlier. Has she done this a thousand times? Is it the first time she's helped with the ceremony? I feel far away from her. Is this first scene the right set up for the story? Just my thoughts. Good luck to you!

  4. Love the different magic here, and not the same anglo stuff. I trust the terms of Santeria will be defined in the story. I would love to get a little bit of foreboding here: maybe she's excited that "the boy" will show up, or perhaps she dreads it. Or maybe something that ties her future attack to the woman who is worried about her man going astray. Her thoughts about the woman and her pining. Even though she helps she could be thinking that the woman is weak, or wonders if she'll be like that one day with the boy she likes. Just a few lines. Cheers!

  5. You know I like this premise! I liked the excerpt too, but I would have liked more of the MC in there. Either her doing stuff or more of her internal thoughts.

  6. I agree with the other commenters. This opening scene could be much stronger if we saw it throuģh Kyte's eyes. As is, it reads almost like a report. She's telling us what happened, what the room looks like, but we're not getting her take on it.

    Is this the same old stuff for her, and she's wishing she could be out with her friends? Or is she really into it, and does it so she can learn from her grandfather? Get in her thoughts and feelings so we get to know who she is.

  7. This is so different, and I love it! But because it's totally different, it was hard for me to engage because I didn't know all the terminology. Is there a way to incorporate what the terms mean without hitting the reader over the head with it? For example, I got the gist about the eppo being an offering from what Kyte did with it. Could the scene maybe slow down a bit while Kyte reacts to these things?

    I found the sentences were all very short and it started to feel a bit disconnected from the character. Maybe vary the length a bit more as you tell us about Kyte. I really liked how you introduced that the Babalawo is her grandfather, but until then, I felt no connection with her. Bring her voice into the scene right away, so it's about her.

  8. This is very good.

    Rephrase your opening paragraph so you don't use ebbó alone in the first line. Probably better to put it in the second line, where you can gracefully slide in an explanation.

    Your pacing is dead-on; you've built a strong scene. In general, the trend in YA is to more quickly establish the narrator and the issues involved, but I like the slow build here. (Soon you're going to need to let us know more about the narrator and your main story, but this is strong.)

  9. I adore this idea. Your pitch did contain words I didn't know, but you wrote it in a way that I got the point and was still intrigued.

    Your writing is clean and crisp, but not what was needed in this scene. I felt a definite lack of engagement. I had no sense of where we were, what the place felt and looked like, what the people themselves looked like. A wizened old man whose white robe is yellowing with age handing over an offering that tells us something about who he is brings a unique personality into the room and sets him apart from the young teen behind him who is growing too fast for his robe to keep up with and has an offering very different from the old man's.

    These details, and the way your character responds to the individuals, tells us so much that was missing here. You can create atmosphere, mood, and setting so easily by putting in the kind of details that would naturally flow from a brief description of a few of the people coming in, what they bring, and how they interact with your MC, which is KEY in characterization.

    It also gives you opportunity to clarify the setting. Is there smoke from incense that makes the old man cough? Does the teen have paint flecks on his hands and the smell of paint thinner that clashes with the smell or mood of the room? Does the prim looking woman behind him make a noise of complaint?

    This is a great place to start but actually take us there, ground us in it, and don't rush through it as it's done here. You don't have to describe everyone, but a select few could accomplish worlds of good. This could be a fascinating scene and set the tone for a great book with some attention to the details, both sensory and in the individual interactions.

    Best of luck to you!

    Leah Petersen

  10. I love this! Starting bid with 20 pg.