I am participating in the It’s All In The Voice Blog Hop & Contest hosted by Between the Sheets. Here are some of the details:

A blog hop for feedback on your opening 250 words, and then a contest! Post your opening 250 words to your blogs, hop around and give feedback to others, spiff your words up and submit them for a chance to win! The blog hop is May 16th-17th. You can find more of the entries and details HERE.

My excerpt is the beginning of one of three “loaf” size stories (novelettes) from my upcoming book, “Road to the Colony” – Volume Two in The Bartonville Series. Thank you for stopping by and letting me know what you think!

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The chunks of bread sizzled as they browned in the melted butter. Daisy poked at the cubes with a stained, partially melted plastic spatula. The utensil had been in the kitchen drawer, among the bent silverware and dull steak knives, when she moved in with Gary. It needed to be replaced. Just like their relationship, it was too messed up to work properly.

The apartment looked like he still lived there alone. Other than some clothes and a storage box full of coveted yarn hidden in the back of the closet, there wasn’t much else that belonged to her. Gary wouldn’t allow even a hint of femininity in his apartment, so she wasn’t allowed to change anything in his flop house chic decor. Hell, having a live-in girlfriend didn’t even change his dating habits. She’d lost count of the number of times he came home in the middle of the night, smelling like he’d been dipped in a vat of cheap perfume and then steeped in the smoke from a carton of cigarettes.

The comforting scent of the toasting bread overpowered the usual musty odor of the apartment. At least dinner smelled good. If Gary didn’t want to eat it, then he could go spend his own money on something he wanted, chicken nuggets, a greasy burrito, whatever. How had she gotten saddled with buying and preparing all of their food the second after she moved in with him? Because she let it happen, standing mute, like a docile pony . . .

 

26 thoughts on “Road to the Colony Excerpt (It’s All In The Voice Blog Hop)

    1. Thanks, Karen. I’ve been focusing on polishing up my beginnings, adding in sensory details that will hook readers. Looks like I’m on the right track.

  1. I wasn’t sure at the very first line if this was going to hook me…felt kind of boring. But by the end of the first paragraph I was intrigued. Gorgeous metaphor with a nice set-up! I hate this guy already and, I’m very curious to know why a woman would accept this kind of behaviour from her guy. You got me! Next 250 words, please!

    1. I’ll take a closer look at that opening sentence. Maybe reword it or start with something else, to draw readers in right from the first sentence. I’m glad you like it. Thanks for your critique!

  2. Yes, I already have huge plans for Daisy, starting with packing her up and moving her out. Maybe hurting Gary if the opportunity presents itself. Consider me an invested reader. Nicely done.

    1. Your plans for Daisy may come true. She did make a mistake getting involved with Gary, but she has a feisty side that is just about ready to rear its head.

  3. Ha! I have that smae spatula! I like the detail of the bread in the first sentence. The despondancy, frustration with the relationship and with herself came out loud and clear. The olfactory touch was well done as was the feel and look of the kitchen. I want to read more.

    1. I think most of us have encountered those kinds of spatulas. 😉 I’ve been working at polishing all of the sensory details, so I’m glad you noticed them.

  4. Funny about Donna’s comment–I don’t think your opening sentence is probably the best hook that it could be as it doesn’t lend itself to any intrigue, yet, I still enjoyed it because I’m a foodie. I immediately thought…mmm…butter, bread in a pan. Add some basil and salt, homemade croutons. lol. So I was still interested. Your voice is strong and I detest this man!

    My only issue with this piece is that I’m not feeling much sympathy for the protagonist, despite the douchey boyfriend and this is why. I’m thinking, what kind of woman is that self-aware and realizes all of these things about her boyfriend AND can’t even have her own things in their shared place? She’s not even allowed to be herself. Any woman I know who realizes all of her boyfriend’s faults wouldn’t be there unless destitute, or for sex. lol. If it were me, I’d make the protag a little less aware to make this more believable and, ultimately, the protag more likable. She doesn’t seem sympathetic, she seems lazy or stuck, and those aren’t endearing traits. Now, much literary fic has characters that aren’t exactly endearing. If that’s what you’re going for, then my commentary is rendered purely subjective. 🙂

    But as for the writing and the voice–bravo! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your insights! I’ll probably rework this a bit. Daisy is actually the favorite character of many people that have read other stories in this series. It’s explained later, but she’s going through a crisis of confidence in this novelette. As far as why she’s with the loser, he’s the rebound boyfriend. A relationship she “fell” into for no other reason than she was wounded and too deflated to walk away from Gary.

      By the way, I try to add a lot of foodie touches to my writing. I even include recipes with every story. 🙂

  5. I really liked all the metaphors in this opening. I can see how she is in a worthless relationship and I want to know how/why that happened. I got a sense of setting and character, now if the next page gives me plot I’ll be really hooked. As long as she doesn’t stay passive too long, this would be something I’d read.

    1. Within a few paragraphs the lecherous boyfriend comes home and the pace definitely picks up. Also, the reason why she’s with him is also revealed soon after. She’s definitely not passive…or subtle!

  6. I can sense her frustration and mood very clearly in this opening, Janel. My suggestion would be to drive a bit more tension into the first line. Is there something about the bread and butter that can add to what is to come? Your voice is strong and leads me to believe that your protag will soon ditch her boyfriend. (I hope she does 😉 ) Good work!

    1. Another vote for altering the first line. 🙂 I’ll look into it. Maybe give more of a sense that she’s agitated and apprehensive about what Gary will think of the meal. Let me just say, a girl can only take so much and she’s very quickly reaching the limit as far as Gary is concerned.

  7. Gary probably thinks he has the ideal new girlfriend. She cooks, and hopefully it is better food than he normally would get, yet she doesn’t “cramp his style.” Of course, if he was really thrilled about her, he would be treating her a lot better.

    It seems like the die is cast: she is unhappy and he is not tempted enough try to help her feel better.

    So, the reader is left waiting for the next shoe to drop, because surely something must cause the dam to break soon.

    1. The other shoe does drop, just a few paragraphs after this ends. Let’s just say, Gary isn’t the brightest bulb in the lot. He doesn’t even realize what he’s done and honestly doesn’t care.

  8. Whoa. This must be good. You made me mad before I was halfway through. Great voice, but the ‘she’ and ‘her’ got a little old. What’s her name, anyway?

    1. The character’s name is Daisy. 🙂 I’ll take a closer look, I’m sure I can eliminate a few shes and hers. I know I can go a little heavy on those words.

  9. You have a great voice! You set up your story well. I get the feel that your MC has just recently become fed up with her boyfriend’s antics and she’s about to do something about it; she’s at her wits’ end. I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Well done and best of luck!

    1. Thank you! Yes, Daisy is about ready to “wake up” and do something about her less-than-ideal relationship.

  10. I agree with others that the opening line isn’t dynamic enough, but I did enjoy the voice. If she’s typically the type with a stronger backbone who’s just going through crisis, you might show her anger simmering a little more under everything. That might lead the reader to to realize she’s not just some pushover and that change is eminent. Just a thought.

    Also, you might want to introduce her to one of the other writers on this blog hop that has her character killing her boyfriend! Haha

    I really enjoyed the description as well and yes the firs thing I thought was “Hey, did she steal that spatula from my drawer?” Good job!

    1. I’ve already changed the first sentence for my final entry. 🙂 I think it fits the mood of the scene more. Yes, I saw the story about killing the boyfriend. Maybe they could be friends, LOL!

  11. I have those utensils! lol. Very relatable, good metaphor for Gary and the relationship. I like your voice, and premise. You have nice, clean lines (clear aim) with good pacing. I’d like to connect more with the MC, maybe understand what drew her to the present circumstances. I definitely want to know what her next steps are. Nice work.

    1. Yes, it seems that many people have “those” spatulas. Hopefully they don’t accompanying this kind of bad relationship! The reason why she’s with Gary is revealed soon in the story. I wanted the story to start with a “bang” instead of background and the bang comes soon after this excerpt. 🙂

  12. The first paragraph is great, love the analogy and I the sensory details throughout. The second and third paragraphs are a little telling for me. Instead of saying, “Gary wouldn’t allow even a hint of femininity in his apartment” maybe we could see her hang something frilly and then take it down immediately and then put it back up, or have her make a mental note to remove it before Gary returned. You’ve set a good atmosphere.

    1. I’ve never thought of her rebelling by putting up something girly. That would be a nice touch! It’s too bad the excerpts weren’t around 350 words, then a lot of questions people have had would be answered. 🙂

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