Friday, April 30, 2010

I Did It! I Did It! Oh Ya ya ya!

Creepy Query Girl does a 'happy dance'.  I just got home from a very early expedition to the testing center to see if I'm one of those lucky few capable of passing the written exam for the french driver's permit.

Seriously, it was like studying to pass the bar.  But.....I did it!  Words can not express how relieved I am to have that over!

Now I can dedicate even more of my time to sitting on my arse in front of the computer.  Except when I have to go sit my arse in front of a steering wheel and figure out a stick shift.  When will the french get with the program and make all vehicules automatic?

Anywhoo, Thanks for all the well wishes:)  I've got stock pile of awards to give out but I think I'm going to take a day to go revisit all of your wonderful blogs and assign accordingly.

K, I'm going to go 'stay away' from my finished ms, and revel in my victory over the french bureaucracy:)

I hope you guys have an awesome Friday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How I Roll (Ahem, Revise)

I got a great question from Zoe Courtman about what my revision process is like.

Truth be told, I didn’t learn how to ‘revise’ anything until almost a year after my first MS was written.  Before then, I’d usually do a ‘reread’ and think it was a ‘revise’. 

For me,  Revision means you have to revisit EVERYTHING- dialogue, narrative, plot, description, character development, etc…and weigh it all very carefully. 

For example- I just finished a 50k YA romance/chicklit. (Yes!  It’s done!  Wooooh) I’m in LOVE with my characters and the story.  So for right now, I’ll probably do a few ‘rereads’ and just change anything that sticks out.   I’d also like it to be a little longer- around 60k so if I see any way to make this possible- if any scenes come to me that might add something important to the story, I might try and fit them in.

Then it will have to be put away for at least two weeks to a month.  
Seriously, I know that I will get nowhere if I don’t take some distance from this thing.

Once it’s given enough time to rest, I will go back with my ‘editing mind.’- ie- look at my manuscript from the angle of a professional and try and pretend ‘it’s not mine’.

Is the pace too fast?  To slow?  Is it clear whose speaking?  Are the descriptions too long?  Not indepth enough?  Could this sentence/word be cut?  Or would something fit better?  Have I repeated ‘shook his head’ ten million times?  I try and be as critical as I can. 

Then I get down to my list of annoying words.

Then it’s ready to be submitted to my critics group.  These wonderful people will help me repeat the above process but from their four very different viewpoints.  They make me revisit and question EVERYTHING and I hate them and love them for it.  Because in the end, they help me transform my work into something the ‘every reader’ should like.  And hopefully that will get me one step closer to finding an agent who will want to represent it and a publisher who will want to publish it.

So, all of that is what I have to look forward to for at least the next three months.  And then, and only then, will I craft a query letter and start shopping her around.

I’m posting this because it took a long time for me to learn to be patient. But now that I’ve gotten a clue, I’m really looking forward to making this the best it can be!  Why rush?

Also, just wanted to give a shout out to Talli Roland who got the news that she's going to be published!  Congrats Talli!

Finishing the First Draft

I'm about two scenes away from finishing the first draft of my YA contemporary romance and to tell you the truth, I'm putting it off.

I've been writing like a mad woman for the last two weeks because come Monday, it's back to work and I know I won't have a much time to put towards it.

But now that I'm down to the drawing line I'm starting to get that 'feeling.'  You know what I'm saying?  That feeling that comes when you know you're about to write the last line of the last paragraph and you get this rush of 'woah, I just created something.  From start to finish.  I have a whole book on my hands now.'  It's intense.  And you're the only one in your own little universe that sees the enormity of it.

So, that's where I'm at today.  I've been putting a lot of thought into these last two scenes.  They probably won't take me much more than a couple hours to write, but I want them to be as close to perfect as I can get them.  And then I'll probably put it away for a while (yeah right).

I hope everybody has a great Wednesday!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ode to Shakespeare

I have always been an absolute fan of Shakespeare.  I devoured all of his plays throughout high school and college.  I had a poster that contained the whole of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ written in tiny script and I memorized entire scenes by heart and recited them for the entertainment of friends and family.  ‘Hey Katie (yes, cause nobody in real life calls me Creepy, thank god)- give us Act four, Scene five!’- I had weird friends.

Can you believe Shakespeare is credited with introducing 3,000 words to the English language?  Just another reason why he’s my idol.  I love words.  Just read my first MS and it becomes increasingly clear.  The first draft was a tad (ok, about 40k) overwritten.

But it made me wonder- Do any of you ever make up words when you’re writing? 

I have a tendency to know which word I want to use, know vaguely what it means. I know it fits cause I’ve seen it used before- but the spelling or pronunciation just isn’t coming to me.  So I write it down as close as I can get it and wait for spell check to fix it for me. 

Sometimes this doesn’t happen. 

There’s a red line underneath. But when I right click, it gives me no option that resembles what I’m looking for.  I think ‘shit- now I’m gonna have to go Google it.  Or else just leave this ‘fake’ word I’ve come with.’  -  I have chosen the second before.  My Microsoft Word still insists that ‘frumped’ is not a word.  Screw ‘em.

Has this ever happened to you?  What new words have you introduced to the English language:)?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Power of Imagination

When my husband sits down to read my MS, he often starts laughing. 

The problem is, my MS is not a comedy.

But he starts laughing because he sees the story, he sees the characters. But what he doesn’t see, in all of this, is me. 
He constantly asks himself ‘Where the hell does she come up with this stuff?’

And I tell him- It’s almost as though it’s not me who writes it at all.  It’s like I’m watching a movie in my head and just recording what happens.  How people look, how they move, what they say, etc….

Hubby thinks it’s cool.  But he still wonders if I’m not slightly insane. Which leads me to the question-
Do some people just have more imagination than others?

Now there was a time when this might have been a question I would have simply asked God.  But he's often busy, so I went to the next best thing-  Google.

And this is what I found.  According to Wikipedia-

‘Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. Imagination is the work of the mind that helps create fantasy. Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; it is a fundamental facility through which people make sense of the world, and it also plays a key role in the  learning process.’

So basically- Everyone has an imagination.  If you didn’t you wouldn’t be able to use logic, understanding.  You wouldn’t be able to acquire knowledge.
But I still can’t help the feeling that for some people, that’s ALL it’s used for….

And I thank god for this muscle, this power that allows to imagine anything we want, when we want.  And for those people who dared to imagine things that they had never seen, and never heard and bring something new into the world.
Here are some of the best imagination quotes I found throughout my query-

“I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”- Albert Einstein

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

“All men who have achieved great things have been great dreamers.” -
Orison Swett Marden 

“Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed.” -
Joseph Addison 

“Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.”- 
Jessamyn West 

“I am imagination. I can see what the eyes cannot see. I can hear what the ears cannot hear. I can feel what the heart cannot feel.” -
Peter Nivio Zarlenga 

“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.-
Duane Michals 

“I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.” -
Ursula K. Le Guin 

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.” -
Theodor Geisel 

“I never did very well in math - I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally.”- 
Calvin Trillin 

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” -
Pablo Picasso 

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” -

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” -
George S. Patton 

“Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.”- 
Simone Weil 

“Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity.” -
L. Frank Baum 

“Imagination rules the world.” -
Napoleon Bonaparte 

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” -
Carl Sagan 

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's a Beautiful Friday

And if I could, I would stay in bed writing on my laptop all morning long.  I love the feeling that comes when your wip is practically writing itself and you just sit back and enjoy the ride.

But alas, I have to get my arse out of bed and study.  For the French driving exam. 

As most of you know, the French have free health care.  It’s a wonderful system.  If you work, you get a social security card with a chip in it.  You swipe it when you go to the dr’s office and the visit is recorded and sent to the SS office for reimbursement of your 25 euro co pay or however much you paid for x rays, or hospital services.  Pharmaceuticals are basically free or mostly covered with prescription and what isn’t is paid by your second health insurance that many jobs provide.  

And then there’s the Center of Family Allocations.  Without this system, I doubt I would have had three children.  Did I mention they pay you when you have a baby?  Yes.  You get a bonus.   You get another bonus every September when your children go to primary school.  Mother’s day is a huge deal and many families gather around the matriarch for the festivities.

All of the above comes at a price.  The health care and the family allocations, as well intended as they are, cost a lot of money and France’s government is in debt up to their eyeballs.

So how do they manage to stay afloat? 

Well, their process for obtaining a driver’s license is a start.

In order to be presented for the written exam, you have to join a driving school.  It costs three times as much as it does in the U.S.

Then you have to go to ‘class’ which is basically a room with a bunch of chairs and dvd player and you answer multiple choice questions with a remote control that records them.

These multiple choice questions are based on images that might or might not show you the answers.

There are often two questions within the same question, each with their own set of answers and if you get one part wrong, the whole thing is wrong.

It is designed so that you FAIL.  One third of people fail their written exams the first time around.   Then they have to pay AGAIN to spend another eight months studying.

Same goes for the driving exam.  You fail, you wait, you pay,etc….
All of this makes the French government quite a bit of cash.

And then once you manage to get through their system, they unleash you into the jungle that is ‘french drivers’.  
You WILL have an accident.   If they can prove it’s your fault-
You go back to driving school.
Getting the picture?  Sorry to rant and rave, but I swear, this is the only thing that bugs me about living in France.  For now.  It has a tendency to change on some days.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scenes with a Mind of Their Own

Has this ever happened to you? 

I sat down last night to finally write this scene that has been going through my head since I started my work in progress.  It was there from the very first outline, and it was supposed to be a definitive scene where two of my main characters get together.  In my mind, I’d always imagined this scene as mildly romantic and more than mildly hot.  It’s YA, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to go too into detail, but I wanted some warm blooded heart pounding in any case.

SO, I’d done a dry run of how this scene was supposed to go, over and over again in my mind and last night I finally got to the point in the book where it takes place.

I started writing and…it was like something else just completely took over.  I ended up with a final product that was so far away from what I originally imagined.  The scene turned into something much more emotional that I had intended and instead of a hot romp in the hay with a ‘eureka, I want you!’ moment, the characters share this really emotional scene where she blubbers into his shirt and he consoles her.  Of course, their feelings for each other are plain, but They don’t even KISS!  Wtf?

I mean, I’m happy with the scene and the kissing will come, I was just completely taken by surprise at how it played out when I had spent so much time writing it differently in my head.

Have you ever imagined a scene one way, and then have it take on a mind of its own once you sat down to write?

Why do you think this happens?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thank You Julie Andrews

I believe that everyone has an inner muse.  When you’re writing out narration, you hear a distinctive voice in your head.   You see and hear the words before they appear on the page.  Maybe you can even hear how your character’s voices sound, their intonation, and you try and capture it best you can.

And for me, for my very first novel, that voice belonged to Julie Andrews. ‘Sound of Music’ Julie Andrews to be exact.  – Not to be confused with ‘Mary Poppins’ Julie Andrews.

Yes, those very first lines of the very first pages, I felt lost.  I knew the story I wanted to tell but it had been so long since I’d sat down to write, that I didn’t know where to begin.

“Right then!” A distinctive English voice popped into my head. 

“They say the day Gretchen Grey was born, strange things began happening around the Grey household.”

“They did?”


“Right then.” And with a confirming nod, I started to type.  Julie led me through the first three chapters of my book and when I really got rolling, and the words were coming fast and my fingers tappedity tapped a mile a minute, Julie twirled and whirled around my bedchambers (cause she refused to call it a ‘bedroom’) in creative bliss.

When she had given me the entire backstory for my book, she started to fade and dwindle as I took over the action and progression of the characters she helped me create.

And some time later, yes, I was obligated to remove the backstory altogether to be sure the reader was thrown right into the action.  But I keep it very close to heart and at least I know one other person is aware of all that took place before the ‘real’ story came into its own.

So thank you Julie Andrews!

Did anyone else have a distinctive ‘muse’ ?

Spreading Some Bloggin Loooove! Award Time Baby!

When I started this blog two weeks ago, I never anticipated how awesome and welcoming the aspiring writer blogging community would be-  You guys totally rock!  So here's to some of those fabulous bloggers who took the time to come stop by when there was no one here but me, my blog, and my writing forum friends who followed out of pity. 
We reached 51 followers last night while I was asleep!  Holy Shit!  I'd invite you all over for some champagne and foie gras but with the volcano ash cloud hovering over Europe, I doubt many of you could make it:)  The day I reach 100 though, I'm totally throwing a Query Spoof Contest, so keep your eyes peeled!

Thank so much Stina Lindenblatt for awarding this 'Awesomeness Award' to me last week!  She's throwing an awesome contest on her blog to celebrate reaching 100 followers so check it out!

I'm passing this on to:

Thanks to Zoe C. Courtman for awarding me the 'Prolific Blogger' Award!

I'm passing this on to:

Clara- who's a fiesty brazililan from my critics group!  Show 'er some love!

Thanks so much to Jen for awarding me the 'OH MY BLOG' award!

I'm passing this on to:

Thanks so much to Stina, Jen, and Zoe for thinking of me and Congratulations to all the winners!  I also wanted to add that Mary McDonald will be hosting a guest interview by John Hemry on her blog today at  The Write Stuff.  Be there or be square.

Now, lets go give these awesome bloggers some loooove!

Monday, April 19, 2010

For Me, It's Romance

I love YA.  I write YA.  But if there was another genre for me, I think it would be Romance.  
Actually my current wip is YA romantic-chicklit and I’m just loving working with the elements.
When I was 16, I found my mother’s ‘Harlequin’ series buried in her bookshelf.  With the exception of one book ‘Desperado’ (not Diana Palmer but an older book with the same title), the books nor the genre managed to keep my attention for very long….hmn.  I wonder why.  Big difference ten years later, when the kids start accumulating and the marriage anniversaries fly by. 

Suddenly the Romance genre takes on a whole. new. appeal.

And so, like I always do when I find a genre or an author I really like - I binged.

Big time. 

And in my experience, I discovered three different kinds of Romance:

1.       The cute, funny, witty, lighthearted stuff that makes me smile.

2.       The kind with heartbreaking or intriguing back story that gets me totally involved with the characters individually before they get together.

3.       The kind whose characters share an ever elusive deep-rooted love (you know, the eyes shining, tightness in the chest kinda thing) that makes me look over at my husband on the couch as we’re stuffing popcorn and feel as though our marriage is suddenly inadequate.  I try and stay away from those now.

Rachel Gibson got me hooked on number one and after her I just searched out other authors with the same contemporary genre.  Susan E. Phillips got me hooked on the second.  Deborah Simmons got me hooked on the third with her ‘Devil’s Lady’ – which is an older book but well worth the read.
And then there were what I refer to as the ‘J’authors:

Julie Garwood
Jude Deveraux
Johanna Lindsey
Judith McNaught

Seriously- why do so many romance author’s names begin with ‘J’?  In any case, they’re all awesome in their own way.

It’s true, once you read enough romance, the plot lines do start to meld together, but then something will come along and completely knock you off your feet.  For me, this was Lisa Kleypas’- ‘Sugar Daddy’. A perfect mix of the three kinds listed above and totally original.  If you haven’t read it.  Do.
And it’s books like this that keep me hooked in.  I will be a Romance Reader (and maybe even a romance writer) for the remainder of my days.

What is your ‘other’ genre?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Did You Start Writing?

Whenever I’m reading a good book, I love to turn to the author’s bio and see what it is that drove them to write the book in the first place.

Some people write their whole lives, from childhood onwards. They find their passion for words at early age and their imaginations outlet through the creation of stories.

Others write about a life related revelation that they wanted to share. There are teachers and professionals that finally decide to sit down and write that book they’ve had in mind before their careers took over.

My reason for writing sounds pretty bland in comparison.I started writing for one reason and one reason only-

I ran out of books to read.

My whole life I’ve been a cronic binge-reader. From those early experiences where I discovered our school had an entire room of books.

In middle grade, I spent entire summers working (for free) at our town library and entering reading contests. I devoured whole series of Sweet Valley High and The BabySitters Club, not to mention most of RL Stines more gruesome endeavors. (Goosebumps was for wimps)

Early teens brought on Christopher Pike and LJ Smith, and any other paranormal YA I could get my hands on. I read and read and read until one day…..I had read everything our library had to offer. (We lived in a small town - an old Victorian from the historical district doubling as the library)

There was no back then. I scanned the bookshelves at the ‘Waldenbooks’. (No Borders or Barnes & Nobles had arrived in town either)

And so, at fourteen, I decided to write my own frick’n book. I needed the escape and if I couldn’t read it, I’d write it.

It was easier than I thought. Years of absorbing hundreds of books made it easy to scan my mental files and pull out vocabulary that I had never even used in real life. I wrote two books over that summer. I didn’t complete either of them and they both topped out at about 60 pages. But whenever I needed a ‘fix’, I’d go back to them and get lost in the story I created. It was almost as fun as reading.

As most of you know, I live in France. For the first few years, motherhood took up most of my time. But two years ago, I went an another ‘book binge’, reading everything our local ‘entertainment & music’ store had to offer. Which, in English, wasn’t much.

What do you think happened when I ran out of books to read?

Yes sah. Here I am. Again.

This time it’s different.

Writing is a craft I always took for granted and only now am I really learning the dynamics that goes into creating top notch work.

All my life I’ve been blessed with a variety of gifts, with the exception of one-


My parents were professional musicians and blessed me with a natural ear for music and a singing voice that makes my mother weep. But did I ever think of pursuing it? Hell No. Just singing with the school choir was tiresome and I had nasty stage fright.

I was insanely flexible and athletic and enrolled in gymnastics from a very young age. As soon as the schedule had me going every day after school, I quit. Nadia could keep her freak’n medal.

I was prima ballerina in all our community ballet recitals. Not once did I ever think- ‘This is what I want to do with my life!’

I changed majors in college four times. - Four. Times. Education, Art History, Music, French- I couldn’t decide and I didn’t care. I loved learning about all my interests equally.

But with writing? I’ve finally found something worth fighting for. I not only love it, but I’m constantly striving to improve- like an Olympic medalist training for the finals.

I’ve finally found my ‘thing’- that elusive Ambition.
And I’m not going to let it go.

Why did you start writing?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

'I'm Not Connecting With This'

Pretty much every writer who has received a rejection on a full or partial manuscript has seen this elusive comment in some form or another as the reason behind it all.

It’s like the equivalent of going on a first date, leaving after the main course and when you arrive at the door the man says ‘I’m sorry, I’m just not that into you.’

Now, I am a pretty ‘by the rules’ querier. I’ve never contacted an agent after a rejection or asked for feedback.

But after sending out a full or partial and receiving the form rejection, I have to admit that my fingers itched to write back, begging and pleading on virtual knees - ‘Please! Please! I’ll pray for your children! I’ll pray for your grandchildren! I’ll kiss the ground you walk on if you could just please tell me WHYYYYYYY? Any crumb of insight or knowledge would do!’

I’ve never sent this kind of response. (I swear!) Being the level headed woman I am. I have wanted to, though, and it took two or three days of sheer will power and restraint before I could just ‘let it go’ and move on.

Which brought me to the question:
What does it really mean when an agent says ‘I’m not connecting with this.’ ?

I think agents choose to include this in their form rejections because it’s unspecific and puts the fault on the agent rather than the writer. Every agent is different. They all have different tastes, preferences, imaginations and insights. It’s true that what doesn’t appeal to them might very well appeal to someone else.
However, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s
CYNSATIONS’s blog has been, for me, the bible into the subconscious of the literary agent’s world.

After reading various interviews that explain what makes an agent choose to pursue a manuscript and take on a new client, I came to the realization that ‘Not Connecting’ probably means the following:

-There might be technical problems with the writing

-Too little description.

-Too much description

- Characters aren’t ‘visible’ or ‘believable’.

-Not enough action

-Too much action

-The story isn’t unrolling how they’d imagined after reading the query.

And then there are cases when everything is ‘fine’-
The writing is up to par, the characters are believable, the action palpable BUT the agent doesn’t see his or herself spending umpteen hours working on this manuscript.
It’s not that they think it’s poor. It just isn’t what THEY’RE looking for.

It literally is like looking for a mate. If you’re going to invest time, effort, and money in someone, you aren’t going to want to just ‘settle’ because they meet criteria. You’re looking for the looove.

And all too often, it’s the loooove that’s missing when an agent says ‘I’m Not Connecting With This’.

So keep up hope queriers. People don’t fall in love with a new person every day. Agents can’t be expected to either. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. All it takes is hard work, a will to succeed, and a little bit of divine intervention.

I truthfully believe that there’s an agent out there for every manuscript. Call me an optimist. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be her

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bare Bones of the Matter

First of all, before today’s post, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of the awesome bloggers who were kind enough to follow and comment on my ever-so-new blog! I feel like I’ve been welcomed into the ‘blogging aspiring writers’ community with open arms and I’ve found so many generous and funny people, and a myriad of interesting and informative blogs in the last week. Which leaves me wondering- Why the hell didn’t I start blogging sooner? Anyways, I’m up to 22 members! We could have a ‘cocktail party’ up down in heah! Woooh!
As for today’s post. Until that long awaited day when my fairy god agent decides to descend from their throne in the sky and upgrade me from creepy querier to creepy client, most of my posts will probably center around the revising and editing process, cause for me, it’s never-ending. I fear even if my book was published, I’d open it and say ‘Oh shit. I forgot to take out that extra ‘place annoying word from list here’.

As most of you already know,
Miss Snark's First Victim puts on a fabulous Secret Agent contest where you submit your first 250 words of a completed manuscript. Contestant’s entries are put up for free criticism by fellow writers before being chosen for a critique from a secret agent. ‘Oooh!’ I thought. Unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough to get through the veil of security guidelines. What can I say? I’m a newbie. It kept telling me my word count was too high. Before I had finished trying to submit, as an exhausted lump on the floor, I had managed to strip the opening sequence of my book down to its bare bones.

Low and behold- whenever a writer strips their manuscript down to its skeleton, it often reads better! We don’t like to believe this. Our choice in adjectives and adverbs and sentence structure is what gives us our style, right? RIGHT?? In many cases, yes. In most cases, it’s what covers up our style and what readers end up digging through to find the story. In this case, I’m going to let you guys be the judge.

Here is my original opening sequence:

Gretchen Grey stood on the stone steps of her childhood home. Her grip tightened into a white fist around the handle of her umbrella as she waited for her parents to arrive.
She felt like death incarnate, draped in black from head to toe. A wide brimmed hat sat upon her toffee colored locks. She tugged at the black wool traveling cloak that fell across her shoulders and hid the simple robe that lay beneath. The pattern of color was broken only by her smooth olive complexion, paler than usual on this occasion, and a pair of striking grey blue eyes. She might have been beautiful, with a small delicate nose and well defined mouth, but she was often told that something in her eyes made others uncomfortable.
At this particular moment, Gretchen’s eyes were staring blankly ahead, taking in the London townhouse where she had spent most of her thirteen years. It had been so well kept when she was younger; the handsome residence of a young American businessman and his English wife. The hired help had once hustled and bustled about, making sure the outside foliage was trimmed and that the season’s flowers were planted.
Gretchen looked now upon the thick green ivy that crawled up the dark brick and nearly covered over the panes of the downstairs windows. The large leaves cast shadow around the entrance, running on towards the outer corners, almost reaching the top floor panes. Looking at it from afar, it seemed her home rested in the palm of a giant murky green claw.
A lone woman appeared from within and opened her umbrella against the pelting rain. “Gretchen, child! There’s no reason to wait outside.”
Gretchen tore her haunted gaze away from the house. “You know that’s not true.” She answered softly.
Mira frowned and shot the girl a worried glance but nodded once.
‘My, how she’s aged,’ Gretchen thought grimly. Mira had been her nursemaid and nanny since birth. And ever since Gretchen had known her, the woman’s beauty and vitality had been one of the few constants in her life. But in the last year, it seemed as though her dear friend had aged beyond reason. Her once glorious red hair was now streaked with white and tied into a stiff knot at the back of her head. Her dark green eyes were now sunken and lined by fine wrinkles.
“They’re coming now,” Mira said and gave Gretchen’s shoulder a gentle pat. The sound of heavy steps and subdued voices came to them from the interior. And then her parents emerged.
Several men dressed in dark wool trousers and coats carried her mother’s casket out first. It was a dark mahogany, richly etched with gold. Gretchen imagined that her mother would have approved. She always loved fine things and had an eye for detail that many admired.
The group of men carrying the casket was followed out by a second group. Her father’s casket was almost identical to her mothers, though a bit longer. Her father had been a tall man, after all. Gretchen’s breath caught in her throat, and her hand flew up to clutch Mira’s as it rested on her shoulder.
‘This is all my fault.’

And here is the Bare Bones of the Matter:

Gretchen Grey stood on the stone steps of her childhood home. Her grip tightened into a white fist around the handle of her umbrella as she waited for her parents to arrive.
A woman appeared in the doorway and opened her umbrella against the pelting rain. "Gretchen child! There's no reason to wait outside."
"You know that's not true,” she answered softly. Her haunted eyes glanced up at the chambermaid.
Mira gave her shoulder a gentle pat. The sound of heavy steps and subdued voices drifted towards them from the interior of the London townhouse.
Several men dressed in dark trousers and coats carried her mother's casket out first. It was a rich mahogany, etched with gold. Gretchen imagined her mother would have approved. She always loved fine things and had an eye for detail that many admired.
The group of men carrying the casket were followed out by a second group. Her father's casket was almost identical to her mother's, though a bit longer. Her father had been a tall man, afterall. Gretchen's breath caught in her throat and her hand flew up to clutch Mira's as it rested on her shoulder.
‘This is all my fault.'

What I learned : By saving the clamoring details and description for later on in the story, I can make the opening to my book ‘hook’ a lot faster and get right into the action. I don’t have to give up anything, just rearrange and strategize.

What do you think?


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