Saturday, January 8, 2011


Hello my blogging friends. First, I would like to thank you for your encouragement. For those of you who don't know I am currently in the process finishing the remainder of my WIP. 

THE BLINDED GARDENER is a Y/A contemporary. This is the first time I have written in this genre. The subject came to me in a dream. I decided to do a few pages and entered them in Tessa's Outside of the box blogfest.

Many of you had liked the edginess and realistic feel of the beginning, so I decided to turn it into a novel. I am hoping to enter it in the ABNA contest in just a few short weeks. Thankfully I am down to the last 14000 words. It has been a tough go and I am now in the final stretch. Please send out good feelings to me so that I can finish and still have time to edit. We are a wonderful community and your support means everything to me.

I would like to leave an excerpt and would appreciate your comments. Thanks again and good luck to the other contestants who plan to enter ABNA.

Here it is for your approval another page from my current WIP. Please realize that this is a FICTIONAL, hard edge story full of disturbing incidents. Those of you who are sensitive to physical and mental abuse please do not read this excerpt.

Within fifteen minutes, I pulled into the driveway. Dad rented a three bedroom vintage colonial for us. Mom split a few years prior. She wanted to take me with her, but Dad’s threats frightened her. After twenty years of abuse, she had enough battle scars to know he meant it. I still had until the end of the school year before my escape. 
I made a deal with the devil to hang with him until then. One thing I can say about him, he kept his word. Good or bad he carved his word in stone. Nothing changed it. I could thank the military for that. But for nothing else.
Grabbing my backpack, I raced up the front stairs two at a time. I pulled my keys out of my front jeans pocket. 
The keys fell out of my hands, crashing hard on the cold cement. “Shit!”
I scooped up the keys fumbling for the right one. “Got it.”
No sooner had I put the key in the door and it flung open. A strong hand gripped my arm pulling me into the living room. 
“Dad, I can explain —”
“Save it!” He shoved me against the wall. His rancid breath tearing my eyes. “What did I tell you about coming home on time?” 
“I know Sir, but —”
“Why do you disobey me?" His dark eyes bulged out of their sockets.
I waited for the blow.
Nine more months. Hang on Aidan. It’s just nine more months. Gingerly I picked myself off the floor. I heard my breathing, raspy and short. Another cracked rib. It’s not the first, but I hope it’s the last.
“Tough it up you pussy.” He picked up his glass from the coffee table, swirled the ice around, and took a sip. “I got a hell of a lot worse from my father.” He glared at me. “Get out of my sight.”


  1. Wow, Michael, this is powerful stuff. I was immediately taken into the scene and now want to read the whole thing! You said this is based on "real"? things happening? To you? God, I hope not. I am indeed sending good thoughts so that you will finish up and get the editing done in plenty of time. Remember to BREATHE!

  2. Edgy YA can end being brilliant and I think your story has a shot at being that. Best of luck finishing on time to enter! You can do it, I'm certain of it!

  3. Seeing the rate at which you are writing this, Michael, I know that you can finish it in time for the deadline. But remember to really polish those first 3000 words which they want to read should your pitch be accepted. And I pray that it will be.

    Your excerpt is powerful. As a victim of parent abuse (stepfather), I know how deep those scars can run. You know that I am in your corner, Roland

  4. Hey, I work with at-risk families every day and have done so in all the tiny communities I've lived in over the years. Shit like this happens every day, everywhere (and you know I never swear, so I really mean it!) so never worry about writing about it.

    Don't push yourself too hard, Michael. This story can be told and edited and given its shot outside of ABNA. If you make it by the 24th (or the 30th or the 6th, if it's open that long), great. If not, maybe even better things will come of it. You owe it that shot. :)

  5. I am sending you encouraging thoughts to finish - and to edit. I really hope you do well in the pitch round.

    This is intense. Has a good flow to it too. Check yourself for mechanical errors (proper quotation marks and punctuation), and sentence structure before submitting.

    This is totally engaging. His character conflict is well developed, the setting description just right. I felt like I was sitting peering into the lives of these two as the scene unfolded.

    Very good Michael. I enjoy your writing style; it works well with this subject matter. This may be a new type of writing for you, but you write it well. It fits.


  6. You've chosen a subject that many YA readers can, unfortunately, relate to. Mental, emotional, and physical abuse are often hidden and having a book who's characters suffer the same things gives hope, as well as someone to relate to, even if they're fictional.

    Great excerpt. Sending you good vibes full of energy and hope; I believe that you can do it!

  7. I immediately want to know what deal he made with his father. So, you got my interest :)

  8. Wow...I felt involved straight away, very powerful and engaging writing. Your style is strong and clear and I believe it will suit this genre. Wishing you the best of luck with it.

  9. Michael, good luck. With all the hard work you deserve it. I hope you reach your deadline and get your story entered in the contest. It is a powerful story. Stay with it! On another note, it is amazing what blogfests can bring out of us!

  10. Yikes! Powerful stuff! No kids should have to live like this... but so many do. Good luck with finishing this up in time for the contest. You've got a powerful story going on here.

  11. Great job! I could feel the fear Aidan felt and was apprehensive getting to the end to find out what happened to him.

    Keep up the good work. Can't wait to read from start to finish. I think you're right, this may be your foot in the door.

  12. Well written Michael. Here is my critique. Deal with the Devil is cliche and may be enough to make you lose. I'm not sure since I'm not familiar with ABNA. How much detail do you want? It needs more tension in my view. Short sentences build tension. How did it feel emotionally when Dad hit her, how did it feel physically? Tie that together. Good luck.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  13. Little housekeeping: "gripped" not "griped". (Spellcheck doesn't catch those things.) I would agree with Nancy that "Deal withe Devil" is cliche. The first two paragraphs could be developed more and switch some of your info around a bit it feels too choppy... or fill it in a bit more. Same with when the dad hits him-- oh and "Why do you disobey me?" You might try something more subtle. Abusers are masters at turning the situation around so that they look like the ones who have been victimized- they are not always so outright controlling-- that would be a nice touch here. Otherwise looks like great stuff!

  14. Wow! Michael. This is wonderful. Deep and disturbing but great at the same time. It's often hard to walk into a new genre but you seem to be doing just fine.

    What's the significance of the title? Email me the answer to that. :)

    Keep going youre so close.


  15. I love edgy! This is gonna be a good story. I do agree the first couple of paragraphs read a little choppy. Try varying short and long sentences. You need short in the right places to provide the punch of the intensity... but you also need some longer ones to even it out.

    But I got a good sense of Aidan's character. Good luck, I know you can finish!! And now I'm off to google ABNA....

  16. Hi Michael - thanks for stopping by my blog today - but in the same sense SHAME ON YOU! You've got work to do finishing up your fabulous story.

    I saw the comments about choppy sentences at the beginning, but honestly, other than possibly blending those first two sentences into one (... into the driveway of the three bedroom vintage Colonial ...(or some such)) I thought it read just fine.

    If you are looking to get rid of cliches, consider losing the "out of their sockets" and leave it at "bulged."

    I loved, loved, loved the paragraph w/ the italicized sentences. It's perfectly handled.

    I'll pray for focus and wisdom for you as you finish up and edit, and for wisdom on the part of the judges to see your talent.

    Bonne chance!

  17. Michael: Sorry it took me so long to come by. First dance class after winter break is a bugger. I'm still wating to "love" the Tango!

    Now, to your story. This has the potential to be a powerful and gripping book. You need to find a "language" that makes us feel like we have our ear up to the wall.

    Example: If I were eavesdropping, would I hear a military type guy who is three sheets to the wind say, "Why do you disobey me?" Sounds too formal. After the young fellows excuse, dad would probably yell something as simple as, "But!" or "But what?" or "I don't wanna hear it!"

    Your opening sentence could be stewed down to sound more urgent and give us a hint that it is not a good thing.

    "I was only fifteen minutes late." then start a new paragraph before you tell us about the house.

    If you want to avoid the "devil" cliche but still want to use "devil", you could try this:

    "I owed the deveil until then."

    I agree that you do need to describe the physical pain of being hit. I still like the part about the broken ribs, but it should be the "matter of fact" aftermath. Tell me the pain that got you the broken ribs without just saying "it hurt."

    I'm not too sure about using CAPS. Do some checking.

    Sorry for going into editor mode, but you asked me to come by so I wanted to leave you with something constructive. This is a very good beginning. Polish, polish, polish and it will be fabulous.

    Best of luck.

  18. Very powerful! (and you were right, short enough I could manage on screen--I'm such a baby)--but seriously--this sets up a really compelling relationship for wanting to read more. I think you've done a great job!