Sunday, March 20, 2011


Hi, everyone. Well this certainly has been a busy week for me. This is my seventh post and fourth Blog Contest this week!

Show me the voice is amazing. Agent Natalie Fischer will be giving several critiques. Brenda Drake is hosting and wants all of us to help each other polish our first 250 words. How awesome is that!

At the latest post your polished excerpt to Brenda @ with contest in the subject line, no later than 12 AM eastern on March 22nd. So you have all day Sunday and Monday to get it perfected! Don't be late. This is something you don't want to miss! There is still time to enter so sign up on Brenda's site here. Oh, this must be an excerpt from you COMPLETE ms: any genre.

I would also like to wish Brenda A wonderful Birthday! I know it's not until the 22nd, but it is the weekend before the big day .... so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRENDA!!!!!

My entry is from my newest novel The Blinded Gardener. If you'd like to read more check out my top ABNA link.

Name: Michael Di Gesu

Title: The Blinded Gardener

Genre: Y/A Contemporary
Chapter One

Meeting Danny changed the only life I knew: a breathing punching bag.
Once again, I found myself at a new school; the third in two years. It sucked having a dad in the military. 
The final bell rang. Alone, I wandered the hall until I heard someone approach from behind me. I turned and spotted a blonde guy walking up the center of the hallway. He seemed unaware of me. Long bangs fell over his eyes as he loped past me with a kind of natural ease.
Maybe he can help me out? “Hey, dude. Could you tell me how to get to room 305?”
A slight curl formed on his lips as he faced me. He tossed his head. Platinum fringe shifted to the side and revealed freakish blue eyes that stared at me unfocused.

“I’m heading that way.” His deep voice held a trace of a southern accent. He turned and continued his long strides. 
I envied his height: well over six feet and me a few inches under. 
I rushed to catch up to him. 
“What’s your name?” His hand overshot the bannister. Swiping again he made contact and then climbed the stairs.
At the top, he hung a right and grazed his shoulder on the wall. “Damn it,” he muttered. 
He coasted down the hall and stopped midway. “Here you are.” He faced me and lowered his head. By the way, I’m Danny.” He turned and walked away,
I shook my head and wondered. What’s his deal?

I hoped you enjoyed this excerpt. I would appreciate any suggestions for improvements. Thanks.


  1. Great writing Michael, but I have to confess (and it's probably just me)I don't really get the first sentence.

    Is he referring to his life as a breathing punching bag? Or Danny? Maybe it would work better if you said "he was a breathing punching bag", or "I'd never encountered a breathing punching bag"? Just a suggestion. Otherwise, I love it!

  2. intriguing opener.

    My thoughts were the same as Gina's on the first line the first time I read it. I went back and looked a second time and it made perfect sense, but be careful of a line that requires that kind of double-take.

    Good job, and best of luck!

  3. Great character introduction. Nice work on the dialogue and flow. You could tweak the first sentence a little to make it more clear. There were a few things that I got hung up on. Is it important that he brushed his shoulder on the wall? And when he asks what his name is you say, 'Swiping again..' I'm not really sure what that refers to. Minor fixes on a good piece of work!

  4. Hey Michael,

    The 1st 2 paragraphs are telling and could probably be incorporated in a different way elsewhere. Starting with "The final bell rang" is intriguing and gets us right to the action.

    You do a good job of describing Danny.

    Minor, picky thing about word choice: If his eyes are unfocused then he can't be staring at Aidan.

    I think you can solve the problem Heather mentioned by moving the dialogue to the end of that paragraph, so he misses the banister then makes contact first, then asks the question.

    Yeah, I'm intrigued by where this is going, how Danny changes Aidan's life and what Danny's deal is. It sounds like he's on something.

    Good job and good luck in the contest!


  5. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Michael! Since I'm one of the judges, I'm not critiquing, but wanted to say I love how this is coming along. You have some wonderful suggestions here. I can't wait to read what you do with them. :D

  6. Great excerpt. I'm with the others on the first line. If you're trying to say that she's abused, perhaps leave out the 'breathing' part because we'll assume that.

  7. Hey Michael,

    I've read this on more than one occassion and think it is wonderful each and every time. I do however feel like you could drop the internal thoughts, it is in first person narration and we are therefore, in the MC's head.

    it is redundant for Aidan to say: Maybe he can help me out? and then to ask for help.

    See you around.


  8. Michael, I understood your first line completely. I would have perhaps put "living (or walking) punching bag."

    But you are not me. Listen to instructive comments, but in the end, trust your instincts. They will not let you down.

    Ernest Hemingway ripped away at F. Scott Fitzgerald's works. But his were masterpieces -- just as Hemingway's were -- just different.

    Can you imagine Hemingway's version of THE GREAT GATSBY?

    Can you imagine what Hemingway would say of my lush prose? Brrrr. Gypsy is rolling on her back, holding her stomach snickering. Sigh.

  9. You have a good voice here, but at the beginning it is a bit telling. You need to hook the reader by showing the character rather than telling the story.

    I also agree with Roland that the first paragraph would be better as a "walking" punching bag because it is a bit confusing at the moment with "breathing".

  10. I think you're in my crusader group - and I'm this blogfest too. Cool!

    Great first line! Breathing punching bag - in three words we know A LOT about this character already and his attitude!

    And I love how you show the guy's blindness without ever saying it, and that Aidan is clueless about it.

    Huh, I read it a second time and can't find a thing to nitpick about. A good sense of both characters right away.

  11. haha @Roland, I DARE Hemingway to rip your work; nothing I've sampled of yours ever drove me into depression, and your lush prose is like a banquet for the imagination. I have to take Prozac before opening a Hemingway novel. Oh wait...I don't have any Hemingway novels. Never mind. ;-)

    Michael, I really liked this. I understood what you meant by the first line, too. I might've worded it "a living, breathing punching bag" but that's just my personal preference. Critiques are so subjective, and Roland is right--you have to go by your instincts. I swat down quite a few suggestions from my beta readers and haven't regretted it yet. ;-)

  12. Thanks, Sharon, for the kind words about my writing and my instinct advice to you. Thanks to Cheree, too.

    Michael, you are a good writer. You and I both can become better writers by listening to others and incorporating what makes sense to us. In the end, our book should be OUR book, for good or for ill, written OUR way. So that others could read a page out of a new book we'd written without our names, and say, "Hey, Michael (or Roland) wrote this didn't he?

    Have a healing Sunday, Roland

  13. I don't know what your hook is yet, but I think that's okay b/c the voice is pretty strong. And that first line is great.

  14. Michael, that was perfectly delightful. I was with him every rushed step of the way.

    This is a strong beginning and I would be curious to know what type of friendship they will forge.

  15. Great first line, I understood it but would also understand if you chose to clarify it. Nice voice, I think you have a great start!

  16. Totally has me wanting more! Good luck Michael!

  17. I think you could get rid of the first 2 sentences. :)

    I would read on, for sure, to find out what his deal is :D

  18. You have had a busy week, Michael, especially since you're on vacation! I agree with Jodi, you could lose the internal thought without sacrificing any meaning. Have a great week and say hi to Christy for me if you run into her!

  19. I think it's the word "breathing" that tripped me up with the first sentence. Changing it to walking and I think it's a great opening!

    There is a little repetitions with thoughts and then dialogue/action, but other than that, I think is great. :)

  20. What a hoot, now that is a hard one, so many great characters to choose from. I think I would really like Fred and George, but admire them from afar. I really like Neville Longbottom, or maybe I'd hang out with Peeves. :O)

  21. I used to change schools alot though my Dad wasn't in the army. I liek the description of Aiden you really get a feel for his height and lolloping gait. :O)