Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Noble Princess, by Molly Boehme

It's probably no surprise that I have some offspring who write. Many of you already know that my oldest daughter Maggie recently signed with Danielle Burby (we share an agent!). But it's my youngest's work I want to showcase today.

I'm not sharing this because of any special level of talent--there isn't one. Yes, she's bright and well read, but what I love about the story is the fact that she quite unwittingly wrote a badass YA heroine.  See for yourself:

The Noble Princess 
Once upon a time, there lived a charming princess whose name was Autumn. She lived in the most beautiful castle with splendid rooms and a lovely garden.
Autumn was learning all the proper things a princess should know, like dancing and curtseying and many more graceful things. Autumn did not enjoy it, though, for secretly she wanted to fight with soldiers and lead battles--very surprising behavior for a princess. 
One day she had a talk with her best friend--and brother, too--Forest. Forest was two years older than Autumn (who was sixteen). They both had raven black hair, and while Autumn had brown eyes, Forest had forest green eyes. Autumn pleaded with her brother to teach her to fight and defend herself, and reluctantly, after many tears from Autumn, he agreed. So every night they crept to the training chamber and practiced.
A year later, Autumn was doing her princess things when the alarm bell sounded. The castle was under attack! Her mother tried to usher her into the safe hiding spot, but Autumn pulled away and started running to her room. She pressed a hidden panel in the wall where she had been keeping her training armor and hurried to put it on.
The soldiers tried to stop her as she went running past them to the front doors, but she would not stop. With a battle cry, she launched herself at the leader of a giant army--the greatest and most feared leader of the seven seas. She stopped suddenly as she realized who she was facing, then charged. The soldiers, encouraged by her bravery, yelled and fought. What seemed like hours later the war was over. Autumn's kingdom had survived.

What I mostly want to point out is that I have never sat down and taught Molly how to write a strong female character.  She knows the premise of my upcoming novel, but I haven't allowed her to read it yet (she's not quite 11, so I'm making her wait; mom's prerogative). I'm sure my storyline of girl-dresses-as-boy-and-runs-away-to-the-army inspired Molly's story in some way (and she did steal one of my character names!).

I'd also like to think, though, that she unconsciously drew from her own life. She has two brothers, so in addition to growing up with dress-up and Barbies and ballet, she has also climbed trees, played "war" with her (mostly male) neighborhood friends, and learned to shoot an arrow with the miniature bow her hunter brother gave her one Christmas.

My favorite part of Molly's story? This: The soldiers, encouraged by her bravery, yelled and fought. Not only is our heroine strong and brave, but she ENCOURAGES OTHERS TO RISE TO THE MOMENT. A true leader!

In her little-girl way, Molly has touched on the beauty of a strong leading lady who isn't harsh or angry or trying to be something she isn't--she just knows what she wants, works hard, and then leads others to victory, going against everyone else's expectations of her.

I'm a proud mama. And yes, I did ask Molly's permission to post this today. She says she is honored. Good thing, because I'm honored to be her mom.

Thanks for indulging me. Here's to raising up the next generation of writers, one pink-inked, scribbly story at a time!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Talkin' Heads Critique Guidelines

Here you go -- 15 dialogue-rich excerpts for your sharp eyes!

Is the dialogue natural-sounding (do people really talk this way)? Is there distinction between character voices? Does the dialogue move the scene forward?

Have at it!

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.

Talkin' Heads #15

TITLE: Invisible Me
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

(no lead-in provided)

“I wonder who that is.” Mom washed her hands and dried them on her apron as she headed to the door. “Oh.” She sounded confused. “Hello, officer.”
Officer? My stomach tightened and I slid off the barstool.
“Are you Mrs. Roberts?” a male voice said.
My eyes widened. Didn’t I know that voice?
“And is that your Volvo?”
I definitely knew that voice. What was he doing here?
“Yes, it’s the one my daughter uses for school. Why?”
“Was she driving it recently?”
“She only got home a few minutes ago. What’s this all about?”
“Well, Mrs. Roberts.” He drew in a breath. “The station received several complaints of that car in town, apparently driverless.”
What? But the raincoat. I was so careful.
I felt the top of my head. It was hot. Of course. I was sweating during that intense drive.
The sweat from my head must’ve gotten to the hood. What a fool I was. I pressed my hand against my throbbing chest.
Mom snorted. “You’re joking, right?”
“I’m afraid not, ma’am.”
“There must be some mistake. That’s impossible.”
“Whatever the case, I’d like to speak with your daughter.”
“Okay.” She sounded skeptical. “Let me get her for you. Ana.”
What do I do? He can’t see me. I tried to flatten my messy hair. But he literally can’t see me. I bolted up the back staircase just before Mom reached the kitchen.
I crept along the upstairs hallway and struggled to slow my breathing. I was about to press my sweaty palms against the wall behind me but stopped myself. It wouldn’t help matters if I made part of the house disappear.

Talkin' Heads #14

TITLE: Elvish Has Left the Building
GENRE: Adult Hard-boiled supernatural mystery

(no lead-in provided)

I stood when she walked into my office. Regardless of how I felt about Eleanor Steele, she was a lady.  I’m too much the Southern gentleman to disregard my upbringing.
   “What can I do for you, Mrs. Steele?” I managed to ask without snarling at her.
   “I’d like to hire you, Mr. Drago. Again.”
   We sat. “You have a tribe of government spooks, and I do mean spooks, already on the payroll. What do you need with me?”
   “We often use outside contractors. It helps us keep our hands clean.”
   “Aside from me and a few vampires, nobody has a clue the Supernatural Investigations Bureau even exists, much less has hands to worry about keeping clean. Not even whichever department it is that your funding is hidden in. Who is it this year? Agriculture?”
   “Housing and Urban Development,” she answered. “Would you be willing to come out to the house and discuss this opportunity with the Colonel?”
   I snortled. “At least this time you did ask beforehand.”
   “That was very considerate of us, I’m sure you’ll admit.”
   “If forced to, yes.” I checked my chin for stubble and decided I could go one more day before changing out my razor blades. “My rates have increased.”
   “That shouldn’t pose any impediments. Chances are good that we’ll be sub-contracting you out to a third party at some point.” She twitched a brief smile at me. “That will save the tax-payers some money.”
   “As if that was ever a consideration,” I said. “For you, anyhow. Don’t tell me you’ve misplaced that mummy I helped you reanimate last fall.”
   “As far as I know, Kha-Set-Mespha is safely hidden away, exactly where we put him.”

Talkin' Heads #13

TITLE: The Third Gift
GENRE: MG Fantasy

(no lead-in provided)

Ducking her head, and fending off the sun with a hand, she didn’t see the youngest member of the crew, Caleb, as he walked past her carrying a load of finished lumber. She tripped, and then raised her head just in time to hit the underside of a board. “Ahhh,” she said crossly.
The firm bonk tipped the long piece of lumber. Caleb lost his balance, caught himself, and looked back with a frown. When he saw Marisi the frown disappeared. “Oh, Miss. I, uh, I’m…”
“It’s okay.” Miss. Not Missy. She liked the way that sounded.
“Real, okay?” asked Mogul as he directed deck traffic.
“Yes.” She rubbed her head. “And, really, it was my fault.”
“Then both say, sorreee.” said Mogul.
Caleb ducked his head until he was staring straight at the teak decking, “Sorreee.”
But Mogul only shook his head. “Do again. Look at Missy Marisi when you say.” He pointed to his eyes. “Eyes window of the soul. How she see your soul, see your sorreee, if you don’t look at her?”
A red blush bloomed from his neck to the top of his ears. Caleb took a deep breath, raised his head, looked directly at Marisi and said, “Sorreeeee.”
She blinked in surprise. His eyes were so dark she always they thought they were brown. But they weren’t. They were as deep blue as the ocean’s depths. “S-s-s-sorreee,” she stammered back.
“All good. Now, done.” Mogul clapped his hands.

Talkin' Heads #12

TITLE: The Flame Dancers
GENRE: MG dystopian future

The 12 year old school-leavers are waiting to take part in the Trials, hoping to be accepted to train as one of the privileged Flame-Dancers. Among the trialists are members of the subclass Toilers.

Extract:  Imogen squeezed Josie’s arm. “Remember … Zip it,” she warned.
“Don’t worry. I won’t utter a single word,” said Josie.
“You just have,” pointed out Emmalina.
“You know what I mean,” Josie said. “I’m only going to say nice, positive things that nobody could object to.”
“Like don’t the Toilers look nice and tidy?” said Deeba. “But oh look - their plaits are tied with string, poor things.”
“There’s one with a sash!” said Emmalina, goggling. “How would he get hold of that? Oh wow! He’s got a brown armband! Guys - brown armband - you know what that means don’t you?”
“Shuddup, don’t look, they’ll see you,” hissed Josie.
But the tall, pale-faced Toiler wearing a yellow sash had spotted them. He flushed scarlet and covered the armband with his hand. Josie turned away quickly. She’d have like to look a bit longer, to see if the girl from the Burning was there but then the boy would think she was staring, like Emmalina.
 “I’d love to know why he’s a Toiler,” Emmalina said, still staring. “He must have done something terrible.”
“It might not have been him, it could be someone in his family,” said Josie. “Anyway, we’ll never know.”
“I bet that Brother by the door knows,” said Emmalina.
“Emmalina! You can’t just ask,” said Deeba.
“Why not? We should ask. He could be a murderer for all we know.”
“Of course he couldn’t,” said Josie. “Emmalina no…!”
“Yes,” said Emmalina, setting off towards the door.

Talkin' Heads #11

TITLE: Let the Canyons Weep
GENRE: Adult Historical

Jesse was abused by her now-dead brother & is having violent nightmares about him, endangering her pregnancy. Old Katie, using the Celtic power of insight, tries to relieve her fears.

The spell grew deeper as the old woman caressed the girl's temple. A memory encroached upon the empty spaces the poppies had left behind, making its way into Katie's consciousness as their spirits joined together.
“Mama,” the girl whispered. “Mama.”
The old voice soothed her, the gentle fingers continued their circular journey. The girl moaned softly and, turning to the old woman, wrapped an arm around her waist, held on to her as a baby would.
“Mama.” The stress was gone from her voice.
“Yes, my dear. I am here.” Katie resumed her caress, circling the girl's temple with light fingers. Time passed, and still her hand did not stop, did not tire. The girl twitched.
“What is it, my dear?” This is the moment. She has found the flaw in her happiness. “What has frightened you?”
“Oh, Mama, it was Russell.”
“Hush, macushlah. He cannot harm you. I am with you.” The tense little body relaxed and Katie ventured a new question, “What has he done?”
“He hurt me. Mama, don't let him hurt me.”
“No, macushlah. Tears stung the old lady's eyes. “None shall harm you. You are safe. I am here.”
“But Evelyn...”
“Has Evelyn harmed you?” Katie did not believe this could be so.
“Oh, no, Mama. Only Russell... oh, don't let him, Mama. Don't let him hurt Evelyn.”
“Evelyn is safe,” crooned the old woman. “You are safe, also. I will protect you. There is none who shall harm you. None who shall harm Evelyn.”

Talkin' Heads #10

TITLE: Dust after Slaying
GENRE: NA Urban Fantasy

Dee, a homeschooling mother, slays the occasional vampire that comes her way. She and her friend Hope follow a map that may lead to the source of the vampires.

Dee was grateful they were walking on grass that didn’t crackle too much, since it was still soft from September rains. “I suppose now I should start waving my flashlight around for no reason as we walk, the way all those stupid people do on TV shows where they’re hunting vampires or werewolves.”
Hope brought the smartphone closer to her face. It was finally lit enough to show she was frowning. “You really watch the werewolf stuff?”
“I guess there’s not as much on TV about werewolves as there is about vampires. But those novels in bookstores with threatening covers—eyes filled with contempt, strange tattoos, edged weapons—and those are just the women!”
“Doesn’t it bother you that they portray werewolves and other such things as sexy nowadays?”
“Sex sells, sister.”
Hope came to a dead stop. “This makes no sense. The path we’ve been following from this map keeps going straight. But you can see where the trail we’re walking on goes.” She gestured to the left, where the trail curved.
“Isn’t that just some tiny blip your map doesn’t show?”
“No, this trail we’re on doesn’t curve back to match the online path. You can see why.” She pointed to the steep hillside ahead of them. “Are we supposed to climb up and hike cross-country?”
“The answer is in front of your face.” Dee pointed with her flashlight.

Talkin' Heads #9

TITLE: Curse Of Climate Change
GENRE: MG Contemporary Fantasy

(no lead-in provided)

Natalia continued kicking stones, feeling the warmth of the sun on her back. Miguel joined her kicking small stones. They both love playing soccer at school.
“You are quiet today,” Miguel said.
“I’m thinking about helping my mother today and doing homework,” she said. “And Diaro de Chiapas rejected my short story.”
“But last time the newspaper published your story about the coffee plantations in Chiapas,” Miguel said. “Just keep writing new stories.”
“I want to write a story about a special woman, but which one?”
“Maybe you can write about La Llorona,” Miguel suggested.
Natalia loved meeting ghosts, except one. She didn’t want to meet La Llorona. No way. That would bring nightmares and make Natalia crawl under bed.
 “Hmm,” Natalia said. “It’s scary to write about her. I want to write about someone brown and chubby like me. But, I’ll send my story about seeing ghosts to the newspaper.”
“Good luck. It’s amazing that you’ve seen ghosts. I didn’t see any. Do you still see them?”
“All. The. Time,” she replied. “But …”
“But what?” he asked.
“The ghosts talk to me but I don’t hear their voices. Their lips move and their mouths open, but no sound.”
“Do they hear you?”
“I think that they do,” Natalia replied. “When I talk to them, they talk back. Last time when my grandmother came, I put a paper and a pen on the table and asked her to write what she said. She tried and tried to pick up the pen, but could not.
“Ghosts are like clouds,” he said.
“My parents believe that I see ghosts. Papa said that it’s part of our Mexican culture.”

Talkin' Heads #8

TITLE: The Academy (working title)
GENRE: MG Middle Grade

A politically precocious 11-year-old presents her case before her new principal hoping it will make her popular with her classmates.

Principal Gardner waved the three stapled sheets of paper. “What is this, Isabella?”
 “It's a petition from two-thirds of the sixth grade for tacos,” Isabella said.
“Okay,” Mr. Gardner said, stretching out the word like a lazy cat. “Requesting what exactly?"
“According to the State Department of Education, Ronald Darby is a C-rated school with overcrowded classrooms, below average math scores, and suspiciously smelly water fountains. That last one's my opinion, not the reports.” Mr. Gardner crossed his arms, and Isabella rushed on. “None of that takes away from Darby’s sense of community, though. Today, that community rallied around what some would say is Darby’s finest asset.”
She paused for effect like the old YouTube videos she’d studied of Senator Ted Kennedy on the Senate floor.
“And that would be our tacos."
“Our award-winning tacos according to the Florida State Legislature.”
Principal Gardner leaned back in his desk chair. "While I appreciate a newly matriculated sixth-grader being so well-informed, it still doesn’t explain your petition.”
“Right.” Isabella launched her argument. “Logically, since the first day of school fell on a Tuesday, we expected tacos, sir. We got Sloppy Joes instead. During my investigation—”
“Your investigation?”
“Yes. I visited with the Food Services Manager. She said since school began on a Tuesday this year, the Food Service department still considers it the first day of the school week. A culinary Monday, so to speak. So..."
"No tacos.”
“Correct. The petition requests regardless what day school begins, the time-honored tradition of Taco Tuesday be upheld. For student morale, of course.”

Talkin' Heads #7

TITLE: Dream Keeper
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Jade has been tasked with keeping an eye on Ash, the new student in the College. They cross paths on the stairwell.

I studied him carefully. “I’m perfectly aware there are Renegades out there who flout the rules and create an imbalance in the dreamworld.”
Ash’s face froze into an incredulous expression that lasted for several seconds. “That’s what they’ve told you?”
“It’s common knowledge.”
“Common inside these walls, maybe.”
I pressed my mouth together, dislike for this boy weaving through my stomach. “Well, as long as you’re here, you might want to make an effort to fit in.”
Ash raised an eyebrow. “All I need is to find the Master tower.”
“Because my brother’s a Master, and I want to see him.”
His brother?
“You can’t see him.” I laced my words with as much patience as I could muster. “The Master students are cloistered. We only see them in passing.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“You should know this,” I said. “If he’s been here all this time, surely you’ve visited him each year.”
“No, I haven’t.” Ash blew out a stream of air. “I’ll have to see for myself.”
I bristled. “You think I’m lying?”
“No.” His voice was strangely gentle. “I think you’re convinced that everything’s normal here, but it’s not.”
Who did this boy think he was? “What’s your brother’s name?”
I stared. “You’re Darion’s brother?”
“You know him?”
“Yes. But you won’t be able to see him; he’s already moved to Masters.”
Ash smiled. “I’m sure I’ll find a way.”  He started down the stairs.
“You can’t make your own rules,” I called after him.
Then I set my teeth and followed him.

Talkin' Heads #6

TITLE: The Bug Collector's Bucket List
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Cousins, K.J. and Becka, barely know each other thanks to a long-time disupte between their mothers. They're on a road trip, doing their late Grandpa's unfulfilled bucket list.

“So, uh . . . were you and your brother close?” K.J. asks.
   I freeze, goosebumps arising on my arms. It’s like she knew I’d been thinking about him. “Not especially,” I say because it’s the truth.
    “Oh. . .” Obviously my answer wasn’t what she was expecting.
    “But if you mean, do I miss him, the answer is yes. I do. He annoyed the crap out of me sometimes, but I loved him.” More than I ever let on.
    K.J. frowns. “I always wished I had a brother. I think we’d be close. You know, if I had one.”
    “Yeah, well if I’d known my brother was gonna die, I would have made an effort to get to know him better. But that’s the problem, you don’t know these things.” My stomach clenches with this admission, and I swallow back the lump trying to form in my throat. I should have been a better sister.
    K.J. nods thoughtfully. “True.” Another beat of silence. “So do you ever talk to your dad?” she asks.
    What is this? A game of twenty personal questions? “Not much,” I admit. “I see him a few times a year—usually around holidays and stuff.”
    “Does your mom talk to him?”
    I tolerate my father, but I still think he’s a gigantic jerk for what he did to my mom. It’s funny because Mom seems to blame her sister more than him for the affair. My dad and I just never bring the topic up. It would be way too awkward with him.


Talkin' Heads #5

TITLE: Run Or Be Dragged
GENRE: Adult Romantic Suspense

Nick and Elena are sitting at the table in a moving RV, and have just discovered the driver implicated them in armed robbery at their last stop. The driver is Nick's cousin, Elena suspects they're part of the mob.

“I’m sorry,” Nick said softly. “I had no idea he was going to do that.”
I shrugged. It didn’t really affect me after all. “I won’t tell anyone what happened when I get home. You don’t have to worry about me turning him in.”
Nick shifted in his seat. “You know you’re coming with us, right?”
“What?” I spluttered. “Why? The cops don’t even have my name!”
“They’ve got your face and that’s all they need to find your name,” Nick said gently.
“But you said your Dad could work it out!”
“That’ll take time. At least a week, maybe more.”
“But—but,” I stammered, unable to mount a good argument.
“I don’t like it either,” he grumbled. “If you’ve got a better idea I’d like to hear it.”
Using my arms as a cushion, I laid my head on the table and tried to reason my way out of this. I was dead broke, there was no way the cops would believe I wasn’t in on a robbery scheme. Telling them I’d been abducted might help if Nick backed me up, but would he? What was my other option? Would ‘lying low’ even work?
Nick patted my back absently. “It’ll be alright. You won’t go to jail, I’ll make sure of it.”
I was not reassured.
“Well, you’re taking it a lot better than I expected,” he said, after a minute. “I thought you were gonna try to bail out the side door again.”

Talkin' Heads #4

GENRE: Adult Mystery

Hotshot arson expert Draymond “Dino” Bernadino helps an old friend (Chief Sinclair) investigate a baffling series of devastating fires plaguing her city. They have just met with the Mayor.

Dino shook his head and fired off an action list for the Chief’s assistant. “Execute every mutual aid agreement to ensure you have full coverage for your crews at all hours. Secure non-essential utilities. Keep your lines charged.” He ticked off a number of other items before eyeing Chief Sinclair. “You trust the guy? Need me to call the Governor?”
“The Tips scene isn’t secure yet, but I’ll take the Mayor over there so he can get his picture on TV. Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky.” She winked. “One last thing. You still a hard ass? Do everything by the book?”
“Of course,” Dino said. “Rules save lives.”
“No exceptions.”
“Good, because we have to stop the idiot behind these fires. I’m putting you in charge of my fire investigation teams. And I want you to lead the Arson Task Force. Start here at Kinkaid, then check in with Tips Command.”
Dino scratched his head. “I think ATF would rather I serve in more of an advisory capacity. This is still your investigation. I’ll work with your Fire Marshal.”
“That’ll be tricky, since I fired him two weeks ago.”
“What about—”
Chief Sinclair waved her hand. “I’ve already cleared it with your boss. He was delighted you’d accepted a leadership role. I can scrape together five investigation teams today. North Charleston and Summerville Fire Departments will kick in more later, if needed. Keep me in the loop.”
“Glad to see you haven’t lost your ability to persuade people.”

Talkin' Heads #3

TITLE: The Blue Jay
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Liz and her brother Kyle have been pulled into her imaginary world. In this scene they're talking to a mysterious stranger who is explaining how they got there.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Kyle said, “parallel worlds, as in plural?”
The old man chuckled. “Yes, Kyle. Your sister wasn’t the first person to have her stories come to life, and I dare say she won’t be the last. There are many worlds existing side by side. They, and the people in them, are as real as you are, but they were born from fairy tales.”
I sat back, my mind reeling. Other worlds? For the second time in the last couple of days everything I knew came crashing down. First, my imaginary world had risen into existence around me, cutting me off from everything familiar, and melding my brain with a character I had made up. Now, apparently, that was somehow normal.
“You mean—” my voice squeaked out of existence. I cleared my throat. “You mean other people have...done this? Who?”
The old man looked thoughtful. “That is not for me to say,” he said finally, “I think I must respect their privacy in this instance.”
He saw the look of devastation on my face and smiled. “But I will say this. Some of them are famous, while other are largely unknown, and some even younger than you. Some entertain the world with their stories, and for others the stories have never left their own private thoughts. There are a few who have entered and explored their worlds, as you have, but most live out their whole lives, never knowing that an entire universe owes them its existence.”

Talkin' Heads #2

GENRE: Adult Mystery and Thriller

UN Sec-Gen asked a favor from his assistant to have a try and befriend his teenager son to catch up with his mind after reading a suspicious status hailing ISIS on his social media. The assisstant got carried away by associating the boy to Turkish Cyprus after his imposing will.

          Gothic style mosque! Give me a break! 
         Gritting his teeth, Adrian muttered, “St. Nicholas Cathedral”
          “What! Really! Was that its previous identity?” Niandhra exclaimed as she got the answer to her conundrum.
          “Muslims" Adrian exhibited crazily angry eyes, "are the masters in obliterating existing sacred identities and replacing them with theirs”
          “And what about Selimiye mosque?”
          “You mean St. Sophia cathedral? Just another house of worship they simply hijacked and rose up their signature minarets onto.”
          Silence fell as Niandhra struggled with the truth about Adrian’s claimed feelings. “You know, Muslims are not that bad” she tested him.
          “And how do you know that?”
          She hesitated before saying in a low tone of embarrasement , “My husband is a muslim”
          Adrian turned to examine her intently.
          She felt his cruel judgmental eyes all over her reassessing from a scratch every bond they have shortly developed.
          “Just after taking the city from the Venetian, he gave their commander, Marcantonio Bragadin, the pledge of amnesty. And you know what he did after that?” Adrian's fists balled into angry rocks again “He flayed him alive”
          “Who?!" Niandhra choked, "Mustafa Pasha this ex-Nicholas Cathedral is now named after?!"
          “Who else but Muslims dare doing so with cold blood.. going afterwards and disfiguring the artistic edifice it had been into the mongrel it looks like now”
          “My husband is a Shiite” She snapped without much thinking before incoherently adding, "They call it civilisational pairing sometimes!"
          Adrian giggled.

Talkin' Heads #1

TITLE: Saving Time
GENRE: Adult Science Fiction

A time travel cop meets a beautiful thief on the Titanic, but his mission fails. To his surprise, he meets up with the woman on his next mission at a tavern.

Carl took a sip. “That’s why I’m here. It’s what I trying to stop.” He grimaced and put the cup down. “Horrible.”
“It tastes just fine to me.”
“That’s because you’re used to this stuff. I’m not.”
“Coffee is better in the future?” Julia asked.
“Yes, and speaking of the future, what the hell is going on? How did you end up here?”
Julia put her cup down. “I didn’t go topside when you told me to. I followed you but tried to stay far behind. I almost lost sight of you at one point but caught up by the time you went through the slit and disappeared. I ran up to it, stuck my hand inside, and … found myself here.”
“Here? In Philadelphia?”                  
“Yes. Why, is that unusual? ”           
Carl rubbed his chin. “If you followed me in, you should have arrived in the future with me, except you were sent here. I would say that’s very unusual. How long have you been here?”
“About five months.”
“Five months,” Carl repeated to himself. “How have you survived this long on your own?”
Julia took another sip. “I had a few dollars, which covered me for about a week. And then … I … you know… .”
“Yeah, you employed your special pickpocket skills.”
“Hey, I needed to eat, and there are a lot of people around here with money. Then I met a doctor who told me about needing help at the hospital and I volunteered. Now I stay there."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Call For Submissions: Talking Heads

Hello, everyone!

Ready for some in-house critique? Let's have another round of Talking Heads, where we focus on dialogue.

Let's face it--dialogue can be tricky. It needs to sound natural while still moving the plot forward or revealing important things about our characters.

The best check for natural-sounding dialogue, in my opinion, is reading it out loud (I highly recommend this!). But another check is to let other eyeballs read the ramblings of our characters.

So here you go!  The details:

  • Submissions will be open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Thursday, August 16 (tomorrow!).
  • Submit an up-to-30-word lead-in plus 250 words of dialogue-rich story. (Look for a passage that is more than 50 percent dialogue.)
  • Submit HERE.
  • This will be a lottery; the bot will choose 20 entries at random after the submission window has closed.
  • Entries will post on Monday, August 20 for public critique.
PLEASE NOTE: The lead-in is important because it will help us to understand what's going on in your scene. If you want the most helpful feedback possible, please don't neglect to include this!