About Me

My photo
I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cast Your Vote Tuesday

This week as the name implies you get to cast your vote and pick your favorite story beginning. Below are are pasted two different beginnings to the same story. Vote on the one you like best and tell us why in the comments section of the post. At least once a month, you will get the chance to help a lucky author craft a stronger story start. So, if you have a story beginning that you need help with let me know via facebook, twitter, or email. I'll post approximately 250 words of your story opening here on my blog for others to vote on. For that entire week you will be able to follow along via viewer comments and see which story start wins. So read on and enjoy and don't forget to vote for your favorite!

Story Beginning #1

Anthem paced back and forth across the room that had been her home for the past ten years.
Where is he?” she thought. The emotion she felt reverberated around the room with the mind-speak directed at her mother, Queen Miranda.
Anthem sat down on the stool at the bare wooden table facing her mother. She glanced around the tower room. A bed, with a lumpy straw mattress, sat against one side of the room. A tiny table, with a wash basin and pitcher, sat next to the bed. The only other furnishings were the table and the two stools where she and her mother now sat.
 “Caw, caw,” the ravens crowed outside her solitary window. Damien used them to spy on her. Even with bars on her window, he didn’t trust her not to find a way to escape.
A worn rug covered the only door into the room, a trap door that was enchanted. Only the maid, who brought her meals, her mother, and Damien, could open the door by touch. Anthem had tried numerous times to figure out how to overcome the enchantment, but touching the door gave her such a painful headache that her nose bled.
Projecting her thoughts Anthem asked, “Where is he mother?” 
“Close I think,” her mother projected back to her. They dared not speak aloud, where the ravens could hear, about the one who might be able to help Anthem break free. Damien would know.  

Story Beginning #2

Anthem gripped the bars on the window as she peered down at the village below. A very young child was crying and its mother rocked back and forth crooning for her to stop. The tiny girl fought her, wanting to be put down. Anthem imagined it was something the mother just couldn’t do until they were safely home again. As a dark, hulking shape approached from behind, Anthem tried to shout a warning to the mother. Nothing came out but an inarticulate cry, as Anthem watched the ogre grasp the woman’s shoulder and turn her roughly around. The woman shrieked as the ogre ripped her child from her arms and shoved her away.
             The child’s scream echoed up to Anthem from below, as the little girl held out its arms to its mother.
            The woman got back up and fought with the ogre, pulling at its arms. Anthem couldn’t hear her words but she could tell the woman was begging for her child.
            The ogre roared. His angry words too mumbled for Anthem to hear. He shoved the woman down again and this time she stayed in the dirt, sobbing.
            Anthem felt tears track down her cheeks.
“Caw, caw,” a couple of ravens crowed from the eaves just above her window. They flapped their wings when she glanced at them. One cocked its head, and a faint reddish glow seemed to flash in its eye.
Rage filled Anthem. She couldn’t speak aloud, but she could still make noise. Infusing her voice with all the rage she felt, she shrieked from her tower window, filling the air with a piercing sound. The ogre dropped the stolen child in order to cover its ears against it. The hateful ravens took flight cawing in disgust. Anthem saw the woman dash forward and grab her baby, then run away before the ogre was able to recover. Shaking its head the ogre looked up toward her tower and shook a fist in the air.


  1. I'm drawn to the first story start.

    I like the tight focus of the Rapunzel-like chamber in the tower and the clarity with which the thought-communication is shown.

    The nose bleed is a strong image--I feel like I'm in the skin of the MC. And I'm curious about who Damien might be.

    The writing needs to be cleaned up a bit. There are four "sat" echoes in the third paragraph and four "door" echoes in the fifth. Some punctuation typos elsewhere.

    In Beginning #2, it's not as clear who/where Anthem is and why.

    I don't quite get a clear picture of the child and need more shown not told.

    Whose inarticulate cry is it--Anthem's or the ogre's? Then the woman shrieks and the child screams. Lots of noise-making going on.

    There are a few POV discrepancies and more echoes: ogre, child, woman, it, its. Beginning #1 is stronger and more economical.

  2. This is hard--I like both. I think the ogre is a more exciting beginning and pulls the reader in, but I also think Jocelyn makes some great points on why number one is better. I see the four sats in the 2nd paragraph, although they did not stand out to me until I reread it a second time, but I would substitute some words in there for sat. I wonder if there is a way to combine them--or move the ogre part--maybe you did that already?

  3. Thanks, Margo. I will definitely watch the sats. :P The ogre part is in the first chapter just a few words further into the original version. Then I decided it might be a better beginning--more exciting. Someone read it at first pages for the conference I went to this fall and thought it was too dark and disturbing for a beginning. So I thought I'd take it to the people, so to speak.