Monday, March 21, 2011

Critique Contest with Guest Judge Judith Engracia! Let the Critiquing begin...and Entry Number 1

I'd like to thank Judith Engracia for being so gracious and offering to judge my critique contest.  Judith has a great book blog, if you don't already know about it and she works as a literary assistant at the Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency.  Judith is currently building her client list.  

Judith's Bio....
Judith is a literary assistant at Liza Dawson Associates, handling audio rights and digital publishing. She graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in English and History on a full presidential scholarship. Prior to joining Liza Dawson Associates in 2010, she interned at Random House and a number of literary agencies, including FinePrint Literary and Nancy Coffey Literary Management. She is currently building her client list and looking for all types of fiction, especially middle grade, young adult, urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance. When she's not reading, she is either training for her next martial arts test or causing mischief with her Siberian Husky, Grendel.

If you will remember, I asked that each of you critique at least ten entries if you entered this contest.  Hopefully this will give everyone some constructive feedback that they can work with.  Judith will be reading all the entries and choosing two winners by Saturday.  I will announce the winners on Sunday.  She will be emailing those two winners and requesting the first ten pages of their ms and she will be critiquing them.  Now if Judith happens to fall in love with a piece, I'm sure no one will mind if she asks me for an extra email address so she can contact you.  Right?

(If you are looking for my Show Me the Voice entry click here.)

Entry Number 1
 Title: The Blinded Gardener

Genre: Y/A contemporary

Meeting Danny changed the only life I knew: a breathing punching bag.

Once again, I found myself at a new school. My third in the past two years. It sucked having a dad in the military.

The final bell rang. As I wandered in the hall, I saw only one other guy besides me.

Maybe he can tell me how to get to my classroom?

He seemed unaware of me. Long bangs fell over his eyes as he loped passed me with a kind of natural ease.

“Hey, dude. Could you tell me how to get to room 305?”


  1. I really like the set-up. You learn a lot quickly. I definitely want to find out if this is Danny and what he does that changes the mc's life.

    The biggest comment I have is that so many short sentences together left me a little breathless. I felt like I was rushing through.

  2. I like the title!!!
    Agreed with Janet, the sentences should flow a little easier. Also, perhaps a bit more descriptive.
    Good luck!

  3. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Take care

  4. It's interesting reading all the entries. Thanks for sharing, and I like yours too, Sharon. Well done!

  5. I like it... the only sentence that left me hanging was the first one:
    "Meeting Danny changed the only life I knew: a breathing punching bag."

    I know you’re going for a hook quickly, but it left me wondering who Danny was, and also, what life did he know... changing schools a lot? Or is it being a punching bag?

    If you expound of whom Danny is; then maybe will understand the “breathing punching bag” part.
    All in all, I would continue reading, it has me attention.

    Maybe it could read:
    My daily life of being a human punching bag, all change the day I met Danny.

    Just a thought, good luck, and never stop writing.

  6. I like the way you give us so much information in such a small space! The one thing that threw me out of the sequence was 'final' as in final bell. To me that sounded like a bell for dismissal at the end of the day. Maybe just bell??? Anyway - nicely done!

  7. I do like the first sentence. Not only am I wondering who Danny is, but I'm wondering how and why he changed the MC's life. That little bit of foreshadowing is intriguing. MC's thoughts are appropriately "brooding teenager", but I didn't think breaking them up into so many paragraphs worked. Although the first sentence I believe should be a stand alone--it gives it more punch.

    I, too, was confused about the final bell. Its been many years since I was in high school, but I remember a first bell gave students a five minute warning to get to class, and then a second bell gave the teachers permission to mark us tardy if we weren't in our seats, or at least have a foot in the door.

    Overall, this sounds interesting, but from the few words here it sounds like its going to be dark.

    Have fun writing, Entry Number 1

  8. First of all, just a typo: it should be "loped past me" instead of "passed me."

    Overall, I like it. I think the choppy short paragraphs and sentences may make it seem more juvenile than you were intending. Also, is the fourth paragraph meant to be the MC's thought? Will it be italicized? If not, it threw me because it's in a different tense than the rest.

    Other than that, strong entry. These are just nitpicky details. :) Good luck!


  9. Sorry, got to add the same. The short sentences left me wanting more...depth maybe. Fill it out a bit and you're off and running.

  10. The way you have woven the MC's interest in Danny it leads this reader to wonder if there will be a romantic relationship between the two boys.

    The MC describes Danny the way a girl would describe him, noticing his bangs in his eyes and his loping walk.

    I could be all wrong here, but the military dad, who would not accept a gay son would make perfect sense out of the breathing punching bag line.

    Anyway, it sounds intriguing and a definite change from the cliched new kid at school story.

    Good luck!

  11. I liked the voice, but the first sentence was kind of was akward for me. Maybe you could rephrase it some how to make it flow more easily like the rest of your piece. I kind of like the rhythm. I would change the word loped doesn't sound very ya. I would keep reading. :-)

  12. Great opening! The sentence "Maybe he can tell me how to get to my classroom?" is in the wrong tense, tho. In the same regard, "Could you tell me how to get to room 305?" sounds better as "can you..." I also think your first sentence sounds a bit off, but it is sooo close to being perfect.

    Good luck and great start!! :)

  13. I liked your entry but if I could just make two suggestions. The very first sentence left me more confused than intruiged and you say 'me' a lot. Honestly, other than that I thought you did a wonderful job!

  14. Your first line is awesome! Wow, I love that! I tend to agree with some of the other posters that said that it might flow a bit better with something to break up the short, clipped sentences, but really nice job!!