Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hone Your Skills Blogfest!

Rosie C. at East for Green Eyes and Charity at My Writing Journey are hosting a new Blogfest! Check out the other participants and give them feedback.

Here's the idea:
  1. On March 16, post a short story around 750 words, no more than 1000, in any genre you like.
  2. Read and give a critique for the person before and after you in the Linky List (and as many others as you can/want to). When you critique: a) find at least two things that really work, and b) at least two suggestions for how it can be tightened or improved.  
  3. (Optional) When you post on March 16, list one or two (online) journals where you plan to submit your piece after making revisions.
I appreciate any and all feedback on my short. This was written in 2010 and submitted to a Women on Writing Fiction Contest. I've tweaked it a bit for this post, but it's pretty raw. I call it Could've Looked, Should've Listened. Enjoy, and comment away!

They found the vampire dog just outside Close City.
That’s the last thing Jeffrey said to me before I tossed my sneakers in a bin at Security. This beast, the third we’d heard about, took a bullet in the neck while draining a chicken. After hearing my husband’s exaggerations about this dog-wolf-bear monstrosity, I refused to look at the pictures he seemed hell-bent on showing me.
I sprinted to make my connection after the Dallas flight and sat beside an enormous man with deceptively light body odor. I thought it was me, and while he chatted with the grandma across the aisle about an increase in the coyote population, I fiddled with the buttons above the seat and gave myself a discreet sniff. Certain my armpits smelled like Bath and Body Works, I settled into the half seat left after the man’s belly situated itself.
The jolt of our landing shocked me awake, my heart running five minute miles. Rain beat on the porthole of a window, and I rubbed my swollen stomach. I hailed a cab in the pouring rain, but the poor driver didn’t speak a syllable of English. He kept turning his head to ask me about a chupa-something. Around the seventh time, I snapped that I didn’t even like Taco Bell and could he please drive faster.
If the nightmare I was looking into now was any indication, I must’ve upset him. This was not in my briefing.
The gnarled hole of an entrance was two feet taller than my five foot five but very narrow. If I reached my hand in, I was positive it would disappear into blackness thicker than dear Aunt Ruthy’s homemade syrup. I looked over my shoulder when I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching me, and the baby decided that moment to jab a knee into my kidney. My hand flew to the opening of the cave-like place to steady myself and landed in something wet. I snatched my fingers back, pulling a string of mucous-like drippings with it. I somehow swallowed back the vomit that rushed up my throat.
After two, deep breaths, I tugged my courage around me like a Snuggie and stepped into the darkness, the silky horror of spider webs immediately netting across my face and tangling in my black curls. I jumped forward with a shriek and clawed at my face as the smell of decay accosted me. This time, I couldn’t help it. The meager contents of my stomach splashed into the water beside me.
Wait. There wasn’t supposed to be water.
Something brushed my leg.
I ran to the left, wrapping a protective arm around my middle, and my shin bumped into something solid. I crashed to the icy floor. My free hand fumbled for whatever tripped me while my eyes darted back and forth, trying to find whatever was stalking me. I touched something at last and followed its curvy contours until I felt silky skin, lips, eyes…blinking eyes!
I leapt to my feet, held my belly, and sprinted the way I came. Around the water, through the webs, out the opening, across the parking lot, and through the double doors. I slammed the key card in front of the skinny blond at the check-in desk.
“I demand to speak to the manager about my room!”  
Her eyes widened when she saw my bulging stomach, and a smile slithered across her blood red lips. “I’m the manager.” Her voice could seduce a priest.
“There’s a…a woman, I think, and water…spiders…” Her hungry look silenced me as the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Before I could blink, the girl’s loveliness disappeared, and she changed, no, transformed, into a disfigured, dog-like thing with a hunched, hairless back that reached up to my belly button. It turned its crooked snout and yellowed fangs toward me, took a loud, panting sniff, and jumped.
My name is Jewel Ceray, and my darling Jayce was born three months later. He would always be safe from me, from the pack, but as my sharp, shining eyes followed Jeffrey into the bedroom, I wondered if my baby would be the only one.

That's it! The hosts of this blogfest asked for a listing of where I plan to submit this, but I have no plans at this time. I've never even thought about online journals... This short was an on-a-whim idea based on another idea (an adult novel about a thirteen year old Jayce, actually). So, read it, comment, critique. I appreciate any and all feedback!

And my Spring Forward and Help! event ends Saturday. I know we can make a difference for those affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and continued threats in Japan and the Pacific!



Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

You have great descriptions (I love the annoying taxi driver). I was pulled in by the rabid dog, and I was pulled in again by the fact that she was pregnant.

As for what didn't work: I don't know what's going on in this story. First she's at security with her husband, then she's on a plane and her husband's gone, then she's on a taxi, then she's in a cave, then she's in a hotel, and then she's at home with her baby. I don't know what her "briefing" was, why there was a cave in her hotel room, why the manager transformed, and what "the pack" is.

On the bright side, I very much want to know all these things. It sounds like it could be an incredible story.

Charity Bradford said...

Hi Marie! Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

Once again Teralyn beat me to the punch. You do have wonderful descriptions. I loved the scene on the plane where the MC sniffs herself not sure if it is her or the man beside her. I didn't understand the phrase "deceptively light body odor" though.

I love the suspense that you build with the short sentences and paragraphs that jump through time. The problem I had was that nothing seemed connected. It didn't flow from one to the next in a way that helped me understand what was really happening.

It almost read like a bizarre dream. A cool creepy dream though.

RosieC said...

Hi Marie. This is just a note for now to tell you that I'll be reading your story in the car on my way out of town. I'll post my comments later tonight. Thanks for participating! :)

Myne Whitman said...

I agree with the others, the story does seem a bit disjointed, though I assumed the husband told her that on the phone. But from after the taxi to running to meet the hotel manager, what was going on there?

The last paragraph, is she thinking of eating her husband? *shivers*

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

Oh my gosh, I would so read a book about a woman eating her husband to save her baby. I know it's morbid, but that would be awesome.

Jane Isfeld Still said...

OK did she eat her husband lol I missed that. I join the list of other confused readers. I really like the humor, taxi driver, the surprise that she was walking into her room. Lots of unexpected twists but no idea where it was going. Still great writing. :)

Aleeza said...

i like this! very gritty stuff--the whole dog vamp thing. i agree with the others though. i wasnt really sure what was happening some of the times. maybe you could tighten it up a bit by showing up where exactly she's headed.

Fourth Grade Teacher said...

I liked the story's premise, and you included great details. Transitions would have been helpful, although having a word limit might have made that difficult. The jumping does work in its way, though, except for the confusion about the scary darkness place. I went back to see if it was her hotel room. But if she's remembering these events after she's been changed, then they would more likely be jumpy memories. Fascinating story. Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

RosieC said...

Ah, this is what happens when I'm late getting around to everyone's entries...

So, here's what I thought was happening: the MC is in some kind of supernatural task force, and she's been sent to fight the vampire-dogs. Logical problems with this are a) she's pregnant, and seriously so to be putting herself in such a risky situation and b) she's alone. She should have a partner (her husband? whoever) with her. Why is she alone?

Second part of what I think happened: she got attacked by the vampire-dog, but it didn't kill her. It changed her, and it changed her baby. She's not eating her husband, but wondering if she'll get pregnant again and have another vampire-like child. No?

That being said, my coming up with that reading required my inserting a lot of information that isn't necessarily in the story. I love the concept, and I think you've given us a nice twist on an vampire tale. I think you could clean this up, tighten some spots, give her a partner, and this would be a fabulous short that you could send anywhere (if you decide to do so).

Good luck! And thanks for participating. :)