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Author Topic: Middle 13 Challenge - Entries
genevive42
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The voting is now complete.

[u]Winners[/u]

1st Place #10 – Hostile Takeover – 17pts - genevive42
2nd Place # 7 – First Kiss – 13pts – Meredith
3rd Place #9 – Shipwreck – 12pts – Meredith

Thanks everyone for playing. We had some great entries.

Happy New Year!!!! Keep those fingers tapping!

[ January 01, 2014, 11:22 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #1

How to Seduce a Cyborg

"What are you trying to do?" Joe asked.

"I'm smiling."

Joe shook his head again. That expression seemed to mean a lot of things for the mechanic. He tapped some controls on his arm mechanism and the tool on his index finger retracted only to be replaced a moment later by a magnetic beam tip.

"Hold that expression," he said, pressing the beam against her face. Camille felt the hum of the tool resonate through her cheek as he slowly drew a line around her mouth. He stepped back to look, then moved in close again and made two more short lines. When he stepped back, he nodded in satisfaction.

"There. Now you won't look like some mecha-monster from a low budget horror vid."
********
Comments:

The first time I read this I was a little bit confused, but a second read-through sorted things out. The unattributed “I’m smiling” was likely the culprit, since I had no idea who was speaking. That probably is not a problem in the full text. A nice moment is depicted here, and I am definitely made curious about the pair, especially given the title. My only note would be that the next to last paragraph is pretty heavily salted with the pronoun he. Loved the last line.

**
I didn’t know if there were two or three characters. Is the mechanic Camille? Are they both robots? I doubt if I’d move on. In the flow of the story, these issues would be automatically resolved, but as a 13 line snippet, I would be too confused.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:24 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #2

The Captain’s Coat

His hand now reaches up and rubs his roughened chin and then his face is scratched. As obdurate as the basalt cliffs off of Zider's Hook, he stands unmoved as the wind freshens and the deck begins to roll with the swelling of the seas.

I touch the desperation of the damned. I yearn to feel the feathers that will blossom from my arms and turn into the wings that will take my body and soul from their malodorous midst. My heart beats in my throat as my demise draws near. What other lure at my disposal can I bring to bear? The point of my Second Mate's sword pierces my shirt and I feel the scarlet liquid of my life drip down my back. And there I see salvation in his deed.
************
Comments:

Some really dramatic prose here, and you’ve created some well-drawn images in my mind. The first and second paragraph did not seem to go together. The first paragraph reads as third-person POV, while the second is in first. I realized after reading that the first was probably an observation from the viewpoint character of the second, but it was not a clear transition. Also, the very first sentence seems quite awkward to me. Who is doing the scratching? I am truly intrigued about the narrator, though, and I’d certainly read on to find out what happens next.

**
First off, the word 'now' is unnecessary in the first sentence. The pov switch is offputting and the two paragraphs barely seem to go together. Overall, the action doesn’t intrigue me. He is so ready to die, why should I care? I think a scene leading up to this might be more compelling.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:24 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #3

Camping Trip

I took a deep breath and plunged into the dark water.

The fake Nessie was about 12 feet long from nose to hump. It had been carved out of old styrofoam coolers, the pieces lashed together with willow twigs and covered with hardened brown clay. I couldn’t help but be impressed at the craftsmanship. It was really well-done, and the eyes of the floating joke seemed to study me as I inspected it.

My teeth started chattering pretty quick, so I swam in and got dressed in front of the fire. Thomas had made us baked beans with Slim Jims, and it tasted like four-star food to me. We stayed up late looking at the brilliant stars, smelling the spicy scent of hemlock trees, and listening to the loons.

When I woke up the next morning, Thomas was gone.
*********
Comments:

So, there seems to be two points of interest here: the Nessie replica and the disappearance of Thomas. Can’t really tell here which one is the key item, or whether they are even related. You have some nicely evocative descriptions, but I definitely feel dropped in the middle, wondering about who the narrator is and where Thomas has gone. What is their relationship? Lots of questions raised.
If the hook is about Thomas, we don’t even know who he is. The model of Nessie is very interesting though and that premise would draw me in to read more. I must admit… I’ve never had baked beans and Slim Jims before. It wouldn’t occur to me that they would be good together.

**
Nice descriptions, but I have no idea what this is about, the disappearance or the fake Nessie. I don't know if Thomas being gone is significant or if he just ran down to the convenience store for more Slim Jims. The 'teeth chattering' paragraph is mostly unnecessary and doesn't add to this snippet.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:24 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #4

Oops, My Mistake

“Your friends.” This was going to be hard to say. “I buried them in Timmor’s Cave to get even.” Lela looked into his eyes. This crisis had to turn Spielberg back into the man she loved!

“What?” All she got was a furrowed brow and more hand wringing. “You’ve killed them. What am I going to do?” His eyes had filled with terror. Were those tears?

“What are you going to do? You’re going to help me dig them back out," she said.

Spielberg backed up. “I can’t do that. They’d kill me!” He shook his head and ran into his quarters. Lela heard the lock click. Her feelings for Spielberg died with that little sound.
**********
Comments:

This is intriguing and confusing at the same time. If she’s killed them, how can they kill Spielberg for digging them back out? I’m hopeful that the full story makes this interchange seem perfectly logical. Right now, I’m thinking that Lela is a murderer and Spielberg is a wuss, and I’m not feeling sympathy for either. I’d wager that reading the full story will prove me wrong about at least one of them.

**
After a second read I realized that 'I buried them', probably meant 'I made sure they were trapped in the cave', thus they are able to be rescued. However, I can't say I care for either characters. There's not much to draw me in here.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:26 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #5

Hunting Ghost Aliens - a middle grade novel

An unspoken urge drew their attention to the dais and throne. This was where the alien skeleton had been found. The throne was the only thing not entirely dark, but inlaid with a rich blue-green stone that shimmered with iridescence. The outline of the alien's body rested, etched by time into the blue surface. A queer shiver shot from the top of Carmen's spine and ran down to her tailbone. That alien was about the same size they were.

"If they evacuated, why did they leave someone behind?" Derek asked, though it was obvious he didn't expect a real answer. They could speculate though.

"A sacrifice?" she suggested.

"To whom?" he answered.
*********
Comments:

I had lots of fun imagining what brought Carmen and Derek to this point. It certainly feels like an important moment, which middles should always contain. Some of the phrasing seemed strange, like the outline resting. Was the skeleton there at the time, or had it been removed? Liked the questioning at the end, even in this little bit, your protags are engaging.

**
I liked the setting -- appropriately spooky. I wouldn’t expect a sacrifice to be on a throne, however. I’d read on.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:27 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #6

Bad Day at the Lab

“Hey, Skyler, it’s okay,” Aidan said. “I really doubt the eggs are going to hatch. We probably don’t have anything to worry about.”

The pretty blonde scientist lifted her chin. “I heard the supplier talk about them, too, Aidan. They breathe fire and they’re carnivores. And, by the way, my name is Stacey.”

“Right,” Aidan mumbled. “Stacey. Sorry.”

The group spent another several minutes debating possible solutions to the present problem, but, in the end, everyone except Aidan retreated to the safe room. Aidan went to the stasis lab.

The 18 eggs looked intact. About the size of a football, each egg had vibrant and varied coloration, and they differed slightly in weight and shape as well. Aidan scanned yet again the single page of instructions that had come with the clutch of dragon's eggs.
***********
Comments:

Dragon eggs in a lab? This is a what-the situation, and I hope that the first part of the story makes it seem possible. If Aidan is the main character, he seems like a bit of a doofus so far. I’d read on, though, to find out if the dragon’s eggs hatch, and to see if Aidan becomes heroic. I’m a sucker for dragons.

**
I’m hooked. Dragon’s eggs? Instruction sheets? With the title one can guess the mayhem that will follow.

**
There's talk of the 'present problem' but what is it really? They ordered the dragon eggs, right, spoke to the supplier, they have instructions – so what are they worried about? And what makes them think they won't hatch? If I ordered dragon eggs and they didn't hatch, I'd be upset. Unless they were for breakfast, of course. Anyway, I might read on based on the idea but my confusion from the writing doesn't give me confidence.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:28 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #7

First Kiss

Ailsa sucked in a deep breath for courage and put her lips to his.

His mouth was warm and soft beneath hers. A frisson went down from her lips all the way to her toes, spreading heat along with it. As natural as a rosebud opening in the sun, her lips parted. His did, too, moving slowly against hers. His arms came up to hold her close to him. He tasted of salt and faintly of some sweet wine he must have drunk while she was dancing and of a titillating essence that was all Sav. She wanted it to go on forever and at the same time felt she couldn't catch her breath. She needed air. She needed time. This was all moving much too fast. She sat back, breaking off the kiss. "Oh."

Sav searched her face. His shoulders sagged. "No good?"
*********
Comments:

Great romantic moment. My favorite part was actually not the kiss itself, but the bit about the wine Sav must have drunk while Ailsa was dancing. I think I liked it because it gave me some non-kiss information, but I’m sure there’s plenty of development in the first part of the story. Reading this, I imagine that the story is primarily a romance, but I wonder what the conflicts are? I like both characters I’ve met, and I’d read on to see if they end up together. I’m guessing they do.

**
Good description of the kiss and a better description of the false interpretation by the male. This middle thirteen seemed richer in detail than the others… more emotional. I’m not a romantic, but I thought this did the trick of keeping the reader interested.

**
Really well done. Romantic without being gooey. Excellent hook at the end to keep me reading.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:30 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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Entry #8

Order of the Eidolons

One more thing that Asher found disturbing, even in his distraction; according to many of the websites and blogs he found, The Order of the Eidolons, and several similar cults existed before the appearance of the creatures. Large numbers of the members of many of these cults, so the bloggers claimed, disappeared the same day the monsters appeared. Some of the cults believed the creatures were gods to be obeyed. Others, like the Order of the Eidolon believed they were saviors of mankind that needed permission—and devotion—to act. The cult’s detractors, of course, saw the things as demons or invaders. Asher himself had never really formed an opinion about them; like most people he’d been terrified when they appeared but as time passed and the monsters simply stood and did nothing, they faded into the background of life.
************
Comments:

This seems very expositiony, and I’d have expected more immersion in the action during a story’s middle. Asher doesn’t interest me as a main character from this passage, but hopefully he will have already captivated a reader by this point. The monsters are intriguing, but I want to actually be taken to where one stands, not just be told about them. Obviously, the creatures need to wake the heck up, and then the party will get started. Will they be for good or evil? That, I’d like to find out.

**
This was a data dump. No character no current plot. It does place the story in the present with the websites and bloggers and that is an interesting juxtaposition.

**
Interesting. The concept that there are monsters/beings that landed and have been here so long without movement that they've become part of the scenery is intriguing. I'd read on based on the concept alone.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:31 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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genevive42
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Entry #9

Shiprwreck

Aric dropped the auskjer and reached his shaking arms for the sail. The wind was driving for the shore and the sail would get him there faster. Solid ground, the promise of a fire, any kind of shelter. It was all he could think of.

With the sail up, the faering skimmed over the rising wave like a skate over ice. Aric clung grimly to the steering oar, ignoring the water that began to slosh in the bottom again. He peered forward through the curtains of rain, trying to spot any hazard in time. He had to fight against exhaustion to keep his mind focused. He was getting stupid with the cold.

His attention narrowed to the rocky shore ahead. Not far, now. Aric failed to notice the waves breaking off to his right until too late. That had to be a submerged rock.
*********
Comments:

Really good job putting me in the middle of a very tense moment. You conveyed Aric’s desperation very well, and I got a strong sense of being on a ship in the middle of a dangerous storm. Two things I’ll mention are the first sentence and the last. In the opening, do we really need to know that he reached his shaking arms? What else do we reach with if not arms? The last sentence, and the one before it too, pulled me out of close third and into omniscient. I like Aric, and I want to see what happens next.

**
This is such a cliffhanger, that you’d have to continue. Is Aric going to avert disaster? I was offput by the foreign term ‘auskjer’ which slowed the flow for me. If this was a first 13, I’d call it a big distraction. As a middle 13, there would be more context in the story. Action and peril are always good hooks.

**
Nice cliffhanger. I would probably keep reading because of that but this snippet doesn't give me any sense of what the story is actually about. I might read just enough to find out what happens and if something intriguing doesn't draw me in, I might be able to put it down with just having read a good action scene.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:32 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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Entry #10

Hostile Takeover

The diameter of his mystic circle was shorter than his height so he couldn't stretch out, the only saving grace being a log he could lean against. The small clearing in which he resided led quickly into dense jungle. Animal sounds abounded, critters scurried or leapt between the broad-leafed trees. These were the kind of sounds they put on those stupid relaxation machines. Relaxing my ass. Tom looked tensely into the jungle. How many of the creatures making those sounds might kill him?

Whatever that circle was, it not only kept him in, but everything else out. He'd watched more than one mosquito's dive turn into a kamikaze mission. He was trapped in a giant, supernatural bug zapper.
**********
Comments:

I liked the way the details sort of contradicted each other. First we’re in a magical circle, so I’m thinking wizards and sorcery. Then, the circle is in a jungle full of animals, not your typical wizardy setting. Next, a reference to relaxation machines completely blows my adjusted view of the world I’m in. I think that made the passage surprising in a good way. The sentence about the machine and the one after it sort of breaks the wall a bit, though; the majority of the writing was a somewhat distant third, but those two jumped towards first, much more personal. Loved the line about the kamikaze mosquitoes.

**
The picture presented was fun to build in my mind. The word ‘resided’ stopped me for a minute. I think it interrupted the flow as a first 13 because it didn’t seem to go with not being able to be stretched out. I’d suggest a different word if this was at the front. This could be a fantasy and the protag being protected by a spell until the work bug zapper placed a contemporary setting into my mind. As a middle 13 this isn’t a big deal at all. I’d read on to see how he got where he was.

[ December 30, 2013, 09:33 AM: Message edited by: genevive42 ]

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Owasm
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Thanks for putting this on, Trina and congratulations to the winners!
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wirelesslibrarian
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Congrats to Trina, and to Meredith for snagging two of the top three spots!

This was a fun challenge, and it definitely made me think about my own middles. (Resisting the urge to throw out a bad waistline metaphor here.)

Happy 2014! I wish good words and a good year to everyone.

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legolasgalactica
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Meredith, I wonder if they weren't from the same story.?
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legolasgalactica
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Corrin, it's a shame your entry was disqualified. I really liked it.
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by legolasgalactica:
Meredith, I wonder if they weren't from the same story.?

Nope.

"First Kiss" is actually from MAGIC AND POWER. (And no, she doesn't end up with Sav. [Smile] )

"Shipwrecked" is from THE BARD'S GIFT (due to be published on January 30th by me). Since it had appeared in the query and blurb threads, Torolf's name was changed to Aric for purposes of this challenge.

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