Saturday, May 28, 2011


Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend with BBQ's, parties, and fun. We had a wet day in Chicago, but tomorrow forecasts sun ... let's hope so.

This weekend is the Made of Awesome Contest at Shelly Watters blog. Click here to visit other entries. Any suggestions to polish our first page entries would be greatly appreciated.

Here is my first page for THE BLINDED GARDENER my Y/A Contemporary Novel @58,000 words.

Meeting Danny changed the only life I knew — a living 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. The halls cleared with the slamming of doors. As I wandered about searching for my classroom, I heard someone approach me from behind. I turned and spotted a blonde guy walking up the center of the hallway. He completely ignored me. Long bangs fell over his eyes as he loped past me with a kind of natural ease.

“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 glanced 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 just an average dude.

“You better move. Conners loses it when you’re late.”

I rushed to catch up to him. His hand overshot the banister. On the second swipe, he made contact and climbed the stairs. 

“What’s your name?” he asked, a slight quiver in his voice. 

He never turned back, not even when he spoke.
“Aidan,” I said, as I caught up to him at the top of the stairs.  

Thank you for taking the time to give me your suggestions. Have a great weekend.


  1. I read this in an earlier incarnation and I love the work you've done on it! Best of luck in the contest.

  2. Like Heather, I've read your earlier drafts of this page. You have improved it 200%. Great job. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend. I got my Followers back, gaining four and losing four -- I feel like I'm in Congress! LOL.

  3. Michael: I, too, can see quite a difference in this version. Well done.

    Let me know if you should ever decide to self-publish, Lemon Twist Press is now doing Kindle conversions.

    Have a great weekend.

  4. YESSS!!!!

    I'm still waiting . . .

    And now I see such awesomeness I'm even more eager.

    I hope you get lots of sunshine tomorrow Michael.


  5. A slight curl formed on his lips as he faced me...
    He never turned back to face me, not even when he spoke...

    Small error there, easily fixed.
    I am a little confused on the tall kid too.
    He loped past me with a natural ease, yet, His hand overshot the banister...
    I am assuming he is on some kind of drugs but the reactions don't seem to fit.
    Good luck in the contest!

  6. I like this opening very much. You got a lot of background info in without being 'telly'. I particularly liked the way you alluded to the blond guy being drugged, but never actually said it. My only bobble was that the guy "loped". That's a run, like a gallop, and I don't think you mean that (and I don't think the guy who almost missed the railing would be in any shape to run anyway).
    Good luck!

  7. Hi Michael. Like others who've read this before I notice it's so much better, but there is still room for improvement as there always is. I'm going to copy/play with it and send it to you if I get time. I know you really want this the best you can get so I won't be shy and just say nice things.

    Like the offer from WTRyan about self pub???

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend all you Americans! I get to celebrate Queensland Week form June 6 onwards. A whole week of BBQs and other celebs.

    Nice that I can comment again. I sorted it out, techno whizz that I am.


  8. I haven't read this before, but I can relate to being the new kid at school over and over again and it really does suck. You have a wonderful idea for a story and I would love to find out more! Good luck and happy memorial day. We don't celebrate that here, just another cold any rainy day.

  9. Oh forgot to tell you Nowitch is up and revised, I think it turned out, even with such few players this time :)

  10. I think you guys took our sun - at least it showed up for one day, I guess! Tomorrow Jacob turns 5 and we're having a family picnic, so please send it back in the AM!

    You already know I don't love the bangs thing, so I won't say that again (haha). But hmm, what do you think about the comments that he seems like he's on drugs? Do you want that impression or not?

    Last, you have a typo in "What's you name?" and with all the descriptors you have - deep voice, southern accent, his height, his bangs, his eyes, loping, etc. - I don't think you need the dialogue tag showing a quiver in his voice. It would be nice if we knew a little more about Aidan, maybe??
    erica (btw, Christy can't log into blogger, we have no idea why, but if she's gone for a few days, you know why)

  11. Hi!
    A few comments on your entry.
    First and foremost, the writing is good!

    -I haven't heard teens use the word "dude" in a long time.
    -"his hand overshot the banister..." I don't get this descrption. I think this word space could be used for a detail that's more telling about the character or the descrip of the school. (was it a richly carved wooden banister that would indicated that he's at a posh school, or a cheap metal one with peeling paint to suggest he's at an older public school? something like that maybe?)

    Good luck with the contest!

  12. Interesting opening scene.

    Consider tweaking your opening a bit. You have a word repeat in the first sentence: "life" and "living."

    It seems to jump out of that thought and into another, but I'm left wanting more information about being a punching bag.

    Best of luck!

  13. I love the idea of the first line but I thought it was a little off. I agree withe the above to change living to the life so that it makes more sense. I love how you used the word loped it is very descriptive. I would definitely keep reading and I already feel for the character. Good luck :)

  14. Hi, Michael,
    Love the new kid at school scene. Instant tension! However, I think your opening sentence doesn't give the scene justice. "Meeting Danny changed the only life I knew — "a living punching bag." Who is a living punching bag? I tripped over this. After that first sentence, however, things moved smoothly and I got right into it. I didn't get an under-drugs image with Danny's description of freakishly blue, unfocused eyes. I know I've met guys with eyes like this. They can stun you for a second. :) But then when he misses the banister with his hand, I question whether you meant to imply he was under the influence with the comment about unfocused eyes. If that's what you intended to do, good job!

    I would definitely keep reading. Thanks for sharing! Good luck!

  15. i feel like a new school starting off a story is largely overdone these days. i feel the tension here, which is kind of nice and unique, but the cliche set up leaves a lot to be desired for me. the dashes in the first two sentences really jarred me, too. i think you have some great, unique characters, but to really highlight that you might want to throw them into a different first scene.

  16. This is fantastic, Michael. I like how you don't overload us with information, but there's enough for us to connect straight away.

  17. Well done Michael. I hope I didn't disappoint you by not being available on Sat.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  18. I really enjoyed this, Michael. I especially loved the first half of you opening sentence (thought the other half could be reworked, kinda left me hanging.)

    Good luck with your contest.

  19. Hey Michael, this is exciting. Okay, here are some thoughts:
    line one: 'as' a living punching bag (to make it grammatically correct)

    line 2, get rid of the emdash and use a comma instead. You can get away with that and it avoids repeating the formatting of the first line.

    para 3: 'saw' instead of 'spotted' because since the halls are empty it wouldn't be difficult at all to see someone walking up the hall. Also, if the blond guy is loping when he gets to Aiden, he either needs to be running when Aiden first sees him, or you could say 'Long bangs fell over his eyes as he broke into a lope and passed me . . . etc.'

    para 5:freakish blue eyes that glanced 'toward' me,(comma) unfocused

    Good dialogue! Nicely set off w/description/action

    Thanks for letting me play!

  20. I like this a lot. Just a couple of things you might like to look at: firstly, not a huge fan of the two em-dashes in the first two lines. Kind of overkill.

    Also, I don't think you need to tell us he has a quiver in his voice. Trust your reader to understand from the descriptions.

    I'd definitely read on.

  21. I remember your first sentence from that first sentence contest I think it was... :)

  22. I adore this. Wasn't it also your ABNA??? I really like the sound of it. Great style~ :o) ((hugs))

  23. Good luck Michael - this is such a strong first page - and thanks for the design tip just when I needed it yesterday - loads more storage = tidy desk. wooohoo :)

  24. So punchy! I've read from this before and this version put the reader immediately into the atmosphere!

    I SO want to read this book, Michael.

  25. Michael, great description! Very vivid. The first sentence threw me off, tho. I read it a few times to try to get the right flow of it, and I know what you're saying, but I'm wondering if you may want to reword it. You have two hyper dashes one right after the other, which could be a bit much. What if you changed the first sentence to read: "My life as a human punching bag changed once I met Danny." Or something like that. Just a suggestion.
    You definitely have my interest tho, and I'd have to read more!
    Best of luck!!! :)

  26. Tight, clear writing. It's always fun to read from a male POV. The only thing that gave me pause was the first line--I wasn't completely sure who was the punching bag: Danny or the life?

    I enjoyed this first page!