Friday, March 25, 2011

An Announcement and a First Page

No interview today (spring must be a busy time in the publishing world, as agents have been taking a little longer to get back to me), but I did want to let you know about next week's interactive interview with Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. Ms. Marini will be here to take your questions next Thursday, March 31, and we'd love to have you here, too.

Also, I thought I'd share a bit of the new, new Bob with you. This rewrite has been consuming me, and I'm happy to report that I'm just as excited about it now as I was when I first started. So without further ado, here's the new, new first page (so far):

Wynn High School had to be the snappiest-looking hellhole in the country’s entire public school system, but then, what did they expect from a high school that had started out as the snappiest-looking casino on the Strip? Everything was decades old, from the leaky roof to the even leakier plumbing, but thirty years ago, so they said, it had all been really nice. The desks were leftover nightstands from the tower suites upstairs, and the golden details in the frescoes had supposedly been painted with actual solid gold.

Of course, the frescoes were all so pockmarked they were completely unrecognizable, and Adair was pretty sure actual solid gold wasn’t actually paint-able. Still, she liked the idea that Wynn was sort of a metaphor for her life. Once upon a time, it had all been pretty posh, but now everything about it pretty much sucked.

Adair sank into her threadbare seat in what had once been called Encore Theater but was now known as Plunkett Auditorium, so named because Mr. Plunkett was the first principal who’d been brave enough to use it since the Last Recession. The others had been too afraid of creating a Toothless mob, but that, of course, had been before her time.

The mood in the auditorium was trippy, all nervous anticipation and pent-up energy. The teachers, transplanted sharks from the southeast and northwest quadrants, probably thought they were excited to find out who would have the chance to hang out with all the rich people at Old Man Hermes’s annual Symposium for Kids and Old People on Biomedia, Nirvana, and Discovering Just How Screwed You Are Because You Don’t Have a Wingtooth (or something like that).

Little did they know that Adair wanted to do a whole lot more than hang out with Old Man Hermes and his brainless sharks.

I'm still smoothing things out, of course, and I'm not entirely convinced that this is the absolute best place to start, but I do like the imagery in these lines and this first taste of Adair's voice. If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. And if you'd like to share a snippet of whatever you've been working on, I'd love to hear that, too.


Huntress said...

The first line is great. Love the opposite comparisons and I would read on, turn the page. I felt like I was there.

Isn't it amazing the sweat and blood we shed to express ourselves? LOL Then we come back for more punishment. *shakes head*

As far as snippets go, this is the first paragraph of my wip, YA UF

He felt restless, edgy. It smacked of trouble and he didn’t like it. Fortunately, walking among humans took his mind off it and besides, prowling the mall had its pluses. He could check out the merchandise and kill time.

And since he wasn’t hungry, nothing would come of it.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I like the imagery. I've all ready got a good sense of the kind of person Adair is, just from this little snippet. I like the idea I'm getting of an "all that glitters is not gold" kind if thing. I'd love to see more of this.

Anita said...

This is a spectacular first page! I love the setting; so unusual. It's interesting because in my WIP, my high school is set in a rennovated building that used to be something else, too. But it's not a casino. That's brilliant, BTW!

Adair sounds like a very sympathetic heroine. You've already pulled me in by her secret. Something happened to take away all the poshness of her life, and she's obviously reeling from the change.

Excellent details: leaks everywhere, fancy nightstands for desks, and gold frescoes. The glimpses of beauty in spite of the decay will make a great parallel to her character arc, no doubt!

Anita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I love it, Krista! How horrible to have to use nightstands for desks!! You've done a good job setting the scene and we do get a strong sense of Adair at the same time. Excited to read more of the new-and-improved someday! :)


Esther Vanderlaan said...

Great work!
Here's my snippet :)

Shahrazad’s father stormed into her room. “Shahrazad! Give me your dinars! All of them! Now!” Shahrazad gasped. She had never seen him this way in her entire life. “Now!” She hastily pulled out her box, and with shaking hands, unlocked the box. She handed him her dowry, or at least the beginning of it. Her 10 golden dinars shone in the light from the lamp.

Liesl said...

Krista, the voice is really jumping out on the page now. I think this change is the right direction. I can feel the vibes!

Krista V. said...

Great last line in your snippet, Huntress. I did find myself wondering what "it" was and thought maybe you could clarify that in the first paragraph? Just a thought.

Thanks, Kayeleen! That's the main point of a first page, I think - no matter what it says or doesn't say, it should make you want to read on.

Wow, what lovely things to say, Anita. (Feels a little weird calling you that instead of raven1:) ) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Amy, I just may have to take you up on that... :)

Esther, I love that last image you leave us with, the dinars shining in the light of the lamp. You might try using a more hard-working verb in place of "hastily pulled," like "jerked" or "yanked." Then you can cut the adverb and not lose any meaning.

Thank you, Liesl. That means a lot coming from you, because I think your characters' voices are always strong.

Esther Vas said...

Thanks for the tip. They are always welcome.

Esther Vanderlaan said...

Sorry, mistake there.

Penelope Wright said...

I love the first page! Wonderful stuff, good sense of voice.

Just a couple things that popped out at me: In the second paragraph, the words "actual" and "actually" both occur within a few words of each other. I'd delete one of them.

The other thing was in the fourth paragraph, I wasn't sure who the "they" referred to, when you say "[the teachers] probably thought they were excited..." I think because the sentance was pretty long I got a little lost, and didn't automatically assume that the "they" meant students. (You would think I'd know that because in the first paragraph I'm told we're in a high school, but I'm not that bright.) :)

Myrna Foster said...

I like how Adair's anger propels the description.

Caryn Caldwell said...

I LOVE it! You set such a nice scene and really pulled me into the action. I loved the line you ended on, though it was a mean thing to do because you left me hanging and wanting to know more. Somehow, though, I think that was your intention... :-) Well done!

Krista V. said...

Esther, you're welcome. And I still misspell my name sometimes, too:)

Penelope, thanks for your feedback! The repetition of "actual" and "actually" was intentional, but I can see how it might be off-putting for some readers. And I hate it when I can't tell what the antecedent of a pronoun is, so thanks for pointing out that trouble spot. I definitely don't want any of that in my own writing!

Myrna, Adair certainly has a lot of anger, doesn't she? :)

Thank you, Caryn! So glad it drew you in!

Jen Daiker said...

Just found your fabulous blog after I spent sometime on Query and you had shared a link to your interview with Rosemary Stimola! It was very enlightening and I enjoyed it a ton!

I look forward to future stalking on the blog and on twitter (I'm @jenunedited so you don't freak out!)

Krista V. said...

Thanks for dropping by, Jen! You're welcome back here anytime:)

Lynne said...

Lots of crafty world-building & crisp images from word one. I love your MC's name, and paragraphs 1-3 are brilliant. LOVED them.

I had to re-read paragraph 4, several times. Here are my thoughts (and feel free to disregard :D):
Line three: the word "they"--
The subject "they" references is unclear. I'm guessing the audience, but the way the sentence is written, arguably "they" may refer to the teachers/sharks, and sentence 1 of this paragraph doesn't define the audience, just the mood. I think you can clarify/tighten these two sentences and not lose any of Adair's awesome voice.
(Also note: You use "they" in paragraph one, which is the sort-of general teenage use of "they" in a generic way, and it differs from your use of "they" in paragraph 4...Just be aware. :D)

I don't know if that helps, but that was my initial impression. Overall, I liked it, and I'd read it. Shoot, if I were an agent, I'd request it. :D

On that note--how's the querying going? I've been rooting for you on QT (I'm Gatorwriter). You've helped so many of us with your awesomesauce blog & agent interviews...I so want you to have agent success!
Good luck with new Bob-

Bittersweet Fountain said...

I really love Adair's voice here and especially her alternate names for the Symposium. It reminds me of how my friends and I talk about the conferences we go to, like the IEEE Conference: aka, an excuse for grad students to go skiing.

Quick question: I know you're focusing to a more Adair centric story, but is there still going to be a Seth POV? I only ask because I really like him and would miss his perspective.

And for kicks and giggles, here is the first paragraph of my current new YA UF WIP:

My parents are arguing again. They forgot to put up the ward against eavesdropping, and it's really hard not to overhear them yelling at each other. I think about clearing out of the kitchen and going to the music practice room, but the twins are both in here, watching me with their large, silver eyes. If I act upset, they will get upset. I have to stay cool. So I keep struggling with my math homework as my parents scream. About me.

Krista V. said...

Lynne, thank you for your kind comment and thoughtful feedback. Your suggestions on those pronouns are duly noted. I'll have to play around with those.

Mandy, Seth is still a POV character (and I still think of him as a main character), but he's the secondary MC now. The first few chapters of the manuscript I just flip-flopped, so Adair now has chapters one through three and Seth chapters four and five, and so on.

(Great excerpt, Mandy, by the way. I especially liked that second line. Gives us a sense of the fantastical elements without bashing us over the head with them. Nice job.)

Krista V. said...

Oh, and Lynne, I just realized I didn't answer your question! Querying is going well (although I've kind of taken a step back from it since I've been working on this revision). I now have seven agents waiting to see this revision, and that makes me all kinds of excited. How's querying going for you?

Lynne said...

Oh, Krista, so glad to hear you have 7 opportunities still open! Yea!
As for me, I tabled my first book that I was querying. (YA Magical Realism) I queried 50 agents, got 2 partial requests. Unfortunately I shot myself the foot by querying too soon *wince*. I didn't give my MS the best chance bc I never let it marinate, had too high a word count at the start and all in all, it wasn't ready. Got lots of " no thanks, send me something else." I wrote a second book (a post-apoc YA), but then had a brain-flash that the market on that is a wee- bit full. So I wrote a third (YA, not sure what call it, it takes place largely in a parallel dimension). I'm polishing, revising, hoping to get it to my betas next week and start querying by may 1. I still love my first MS -- and I've largely rewritten it-- and I'm hoping if I land an agent for book three, they'll at least look at book one too. :D Long answer, but I know your publishing journey has been winding too, and like you, I have kids (4) and *gasp* a life outside writing (although sometimes I forget when I'm on a WIP roll :D). Your blog has been a HUGE help for me, and although I've rarely commented, I lurk. thanks, Krista! I really liked your Bob excerpt & am praying one of your requests to revise & resubmit is the one! :D

Escape Artist said...

Hello. These are some things that hit me first off without a lot of in other words just immediate gut stuff. When reading snappiest looking casino on the strip? I felt like I wanted one more line before the everything was decades know something like...
She half expected chip girls in sequinned skirts and ostrich plumes handing out their schedules.
I really liked the voice and the imagery of the old casino school.
I wish I could offer more, but I'll pop in again. It's very late here, so I'm off to bed.
Good luck with it. I really did enjoy reading.
Nice style.

Krista V. said...

Lynne, glad to hear you're working on a new WIP that you're totally excited about. It's always hard to trunk a project, but when you start to see that writing on the wall, I think it's best to make a clean break and move on. I have two queried manuscripts in the closet and many, many more that I started but didn't feel strongly enough about to keep pursuing. I've been stuck on Bob for a while now, but I have a few other ideas that I'm excited to put down on paper once I figure out where he's going to end up.

Escape Artist, thanks for forgoing sleep to give me some feedback:) I'm glad you liked it, and I'll definitely take your thoughts into account as I continue to revise.

Perri said...

Great first page! I'm looking forward to reading the rest someday.

Krista, I've passed on my Stylish Blogger award to you. Come by and pick it up when you have a chance!

Krista V. said...

Perri, I hope you get to read the rest someday, too:) And thank you very much for the award!