Wednesday, January 14, 2009


TITLE: Damage Control
GENRE: Young Adult

I don’t hate them. They probably didn’t know that house was my inheritance. Or that it was the last thing that kept me from going completely insane. But now the Bakers had crossed the line. They legally stole my house and inherited a paparazzo, hell-bent on their downfall.

“Lena, what are you doing on the roof?” my younger sister asked.

I dropped the camera lens from my face, and glanced down at Ivy, who looked incredibly out of place in her skull tank, ripped jeans, fishnet stockings, and dark make-up against the wooded backdrop. She had her hands on her hips and was frowning. Shifting my weight to one side, I tried to shove the camera behind my back, nearly losing my balance on top of our garage. Even though this part of our house was only one story, the collision with the concrete driveway underneath was not very high on my to-do list.

“Taking in the view?” I answered.

“Not spying on the neighbors?”

Only on their moving van.

“No,” I said, holding up my camera. “If I were, I wouldn‘t be using this.”

Though it’d been working pretty well for the past few hours. Ivy threw her weight to one side, narrowing her eyes.

“Oh come on,” I yelled. “They went into their van over three hours ago. They haven’t even come out for air.”

“Ever think they don’t want an audience?”

“It isn’t like they can see me.”

“Right, because standing on the roof isn’t obvious…”


  1. I do really like it, but the last line of the first graph throws me a bit.
    Love the description of Ivy.
    I'd keep reading.

  2. I liked it. Hooked!


    I think I might put this as one of my top 5 favorites.

  3. I like this premise! Love idea of Lena standing up there with her camera, spying. And of the neighbours stealing her house. But a few things still confuse me: what are the neighbours doing - just sitting motionless in the moving van? I need a few details clarified. YOU can see it all in your head, but we readers need to be absolutely clear. But you have the makings of a voice here, and I'm liking your characters who are quirky and fresh.

  4. Your writing is great. I'm very intrigued as to how/why they took Lena's house and what she's going to do about it. I'd keep reading.
    I don't understand how, if they they took her house, she's still standing on it, while the neighbors are moving in?
    And I agree with Sarah that "paparazzo hell-bent on their downfall" doesn't really make sense.
    But I'd forgive you all that and keep reading!

  5. I'm afraid I wasn't hooked. I found the dialogue confusing. Why did Lena try to hide the camera, only to pull it back out? What does "If I were, I wouldn't be using this" mean? In other words, how does having a camera mean she's not spying on the neighbors? And "Though it'd been working pretty well for the last few hours--" The camera had been working? Why wouldn't it have been? Or it had been doing a good job of spying? And have the new neighbors been in their van for three hours? If so, how has the camera been doing a good job? Of what? Nothing to take pictures of that I can see, you know? I would quit reading because I keep being pulled out of the story to try to figure these things out. They'd be easy to clarify, though, I think.

    But the first-person voice is delightful--I already like Lena and want her to get the house back.

  6. Great voice and interesting situation! I don't get the stealing the house thing, but I suppose that will be explained (or I'm just dense, a possibility). I'd definitely keep reading. Good luck!

  7. I'd keep reading. I like the premise a lot--nice and different. But it felt like the dialogue stalled rather than gave more of the story. I think you could make a bit more out of the second half, pulling us deeper into the story.

    Thanks for sharing this, and good luck with it.

  8. Interesting intro overall, but I was thrown by one basic question...if 'those' people stole her house, her inheritance, then where is she take photos/spying from. I might think a tree, but she's on a roof and her sister is there too. I'm sure there's a good explanation...I hope so.

    I like your author's voice and writing style, but I don't like strange plot holes like this early on.

  9. I think you're off to a great start. Your dialogue rings true. I would be interested to find out what happens next.

  10. Liked it. I'm hooked. :) Good writing.

  11. I would definitely read more. Good job! :) I was a little confused about these two lines. "Though it’d been working pretty well for the past few hours. Ivy threw her weight to one side, narrowing her eyes." In my head, I kept wanting to put them together with a comma. I was confused for several reads, and I'm still quite sure what the first sentence means. Other than that, I'd totally read on.

  12. I liked this, and would keep reading to find out the answers to the questions everyone else asked.

    Great job!

  13. I loved this. I'm hooked. I would definately read on.

  14. I really liked this, great voice. I was a little confused in the first paragraph about the paparazzo -- took me a minute to figure out you meant her (it’s probably just me!). I loved your opening sentences.

    The description of Ivy is too heavy -- maybe go with something more pithy (“whose Goth make-up and fishnet stockings didn’t mesh with the woodsy backdrop.” Ok, so not great, but you get the idea.)

    I would separate this sentence: “Though it’d been working pretty well for the past few hours. Ivy threw her weight to one side, narrowing her eyes.” It’s confusing. I’d move the first part up to where Lena is speaking.

    Overall, I would definitely read more.

  15. I thought this had a lot going for it. I'm wondering why the neighbors would sit in a moving van for three hours, and why she would consider the house they've bought to be hers. Nice set up!

    A nit -- she's supposedly been taking pictures for some time, but of what? The neighbors have been in the van for three hours.

  16. Doesn’t hook me…
    Because the first and third paragraph feel like a lot of info dump. The rest of it is sort of interesting, but not enough to hook me into buying/reading the book.

  17. I agree a info dump on Ivy. Gee I hope I havn't done that.

  18. Not sure I'm in love with this. I'd read on to the end of the chapter to see what's happening, but nothing so far has really grabbed me or stood out as something new and fresh.

  19. You write very well and have a fresh idea here. Your first paragraph confused me, but the rest was great!

  20. Their body language was the sae, the both leaned to one side.

  21. I couldn't get into this. I don't know might be a genre thing, it might be something else. It's not the writing or your sense of voice. I just didn't find myself hooked the way I wanted to be!

  22. I love the title, and you have a strong voice. I'm hooked.

  23. I'd read on. It's well written and I'm interested to find out why she's so worried about these neighbors, if they really stole her inheritance.

  24. I like this, but I'm a huge nitpicker for details, and some of yours bother me.

    I just don't like that the house is the LAST thing that kept her from going insane. Maybe the ONE thing, probably just me. Other than that, I love your first paragraph. Sounds very teen.

    Then I have a problem with her dropping the camera lens from her face. The lens is on the opposite side from her face. Why not something like, "I lowered my camera"?

    Unless sister is a MC, I think we have bogged down the story with too much detail.

    Then I agree with others about the three hours with the moving van thing.

    But even though this sounds really negative, it isn't intended that way. I think this sounds like a great story, and I like Lena already. She's gritty and tenacious, and I love those character traits.

    So, basically, hooked me.

  25. I liked this...good dialog. Three hours in a moving van without coming out? I'm hooked.

  26. I like the younger sister better than the MC.

    Throwing an unusual word (paparazzo) in the first paragraph stopped me.

    I wanted to know more about the house stealing, and you seemed to let that drop, at least in these 250 words.