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Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Fight

Here is the first excerpt for Hostage. Its a paranormal romance/horror. Let me know what you think. And don't be shy about it. I'm a big girl, I can take it. ;)

Ivy grabbed her keys and was out the door. She drove around to bars and several clubs looking for gigs. Surprisingly, everyone was all booked except for one bar. It was The Quarter Mug, on State St. Just like Steve said.
The owner didn’t seem to care who Ivy was or what kind of music she played. That sent up red flags, momentarily. As Ivy sat at the bar with the owner standing across from her, a wind of nausea punched her in the gut. The man was of average height and size but there were things about him that set her nerves on end. Even in this cold stale bar the man’s pale white flesh was sweating. Those eyes, they were blood shot and seemed in vain. He seemed so stressed and desperate.
“Half an hour. Tonight at 10:30.” he said letting his eyes roll over Ivy carelessly. “$150.00.” He finished.
“I’ll be here.” Ivy told him, and then left. All the way back to her apartment Ivy had this illness in her mind. That place was going to make her angry tonight. Ivy already knew, but she ignored it because musicians are only financially sound when they have contracts.
Ivy was there ten minutes early. As she stood leaning against the wall at the entrance, Ivy already felt the irritation she knew was coming. There was a couple of inebriated business men, if you could call them that, on stage singing ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’ from NSYNC into a Karaoke machine.
Ivy put two of her irritated fingers to one of her irritated temples to rub away the thought of walking away from a $150.00 gig.
There were several large groups of heavy drinkers who had probably been here since they got out of work. They were all out of hand, grabbing waitresses anyway they could. Spewing profanities without reason and of course, there was always that one ass hole that sticks out above all the rest.

The owner caught Ivy’s attention from across the room. He motioned for her to claim the stage with a look that said, ‘Well, what the hell are you waiting for?’
Wonderful, Ivy thought to herself. “He’s going to leave it up to me to kick these two drunken idiots off the stage.” Ivy grumbled under her breath. She tucked her jacket into the crook of her arm and headed to the stage. She figured she’d better keep all her things close for a quicker exit.
Ivy climbed the steps to the stage and stood at the top until the clock read 10:30 exactly, then she approached the oblivious pop star wanna-be’s. Ivy held her body strong and prepared for battle. She walked right up to them with one eye brow cocked and waited for eye contact.
The two unsteady gentlemen wore suits that were ragged and missing pieces. One man was about 5'10" and wiry. The other was a couple inches shorter and even more inches rounder. They were sweaty and tired and looked fairly surprised at Ivy’s presence.
“Can you?” the chubby one said drunkenly. The other one cocked a grin that implied a quest for sex.
“Yes. You can get off my stage.” Ivy said gently.
Your stage?” the chubby one mocked. “I don’t see yer name on it.” he said stumbling a bit, and puckering his fat lips.
“You’re on my time, and my time is on this stage,” Ivy said calmly then added with a ferocious intensity, “So get the fuck off!” Her rude advance seemed to rattle the two men. They gave her dirty looks but backed down with a vengeful expression.
After assessing the crowd Ivy decided to make a few changes to her set. She pulled up a stool, set up the mic and began singing a set of rock songs she had come up with. Taking one look around this room it seemed metal would be a little too controversial. At least rock was more open-minded.
About 15 minutes in, Ivy could hear the two drunken pop stars hollering obscenities at her.
“Get off the stage!”
“No biker bitches allowed!” another one yelled.
It seemed the more they hollered and complained, the more the other groups of sloshed alcoholics wanted to chime in.
By the time her half an hour was up Ivy couldn’t wait to get out of there. The whole damn place was in an uproar. The last thing someone in the center of attention wants to be is booed by a whole bar full of people who can’t remember where they parked their own cars.
Ivy ignored the name calling and everything else on her way to the owner. Ivy got shoulder pitched twice and elbowed in the side once on her way to get the money. Even with all of her attitude, her hatred, and her instincts, Ivy still thought it the wiser to walk away until she no longer could.
“You knew this would happen.” Ivy said to the owner when she got over to him.
“Angry alcoholics drink more and remember less. Means money to me.” he replied handing her the money. “Better hurry, lady.” he added pointing to the crowd who seemed to be increasingly irritated.
Ivy got out of the bar fairly easily. She parked just around the corner, not far, but out of sight. First lesson in a life style like hers was, never leave your only means of transportation where any angry drunks could find it. As Ivy cleared the corner she very nearly collided with the two men she had kicked off the stage. It looked like they’d been waiting for something. Or someone.
“Well, well, well! Lookie what we got here.” the taller one said glaring at her nearly tripping over his own feet. Chubby chuckled menacingly.
A reflection of light at his side caught her eye. The chunky man was holding a small switch blade at his side. His raspy dark comb over was tussled and sweat beaded down to the tip of his nose.
Ivy’s heart was working over time. Somehow Ivy kind of saw all this coming so it wasn’t that big of a shock. Instead, she felt the anger, the madness from inside that drove her.
“Did you really think we’d just let you leave without saying, Bye, Bye?” the tall man said, hunching over with an exaggerated laugh.
As horrifying as she knew she could be, Ivy decided to let them see the beast they had just unleashed. With as evil a tone as Ivy could summon, she spoke clearly with snake eyes and clenched teeth, “Do you really think you’ll win?”
At that, the chubby man lunged at her with the knife. With all her anger hanging off of her flesh, Ivy grabbed the man’s arm diverting the blade away from her and then head butted him in the nose. Just as soon as his nose shot blood, the taller man jumped at Ivy’s back pulling her away from his buddy. His hold restrained her arms just long enough for the chubby one to muster up more energy. He repositioned the knife and took a sloppy shot at her kidneys, but Ivy was sober, therefore quicker and smarter. Ivy wiggled away fast enough so that the fat bastard missed her but wound up burying his blade into his buddy’s hip, the tall man howled in pain.
“You bitch!” the pudgy man yelled coming back at her with his knife over head, he swung it irrationally through the air, slicing and slashing over and over as he ran at Ivy. Her madness wouldn’t allow her to back down. His arm came down with lightning speed and caught Ivy’s forearm when she reached up in attempt to stop him. The pain was searing. With his other hand he grabbed a fistful of her hair. Ivy could hear him muttering drunken slurs she couldn’t understand under his breath. Before the blade could find her again, Ivy twisted her body and kneed him in the nuts. As a reflex, his arm shot down, viciously driving the knife into her abdomen, and then he dropped to the ground.
 The taller man, still howling and holding his hip, got up and quickly limped in Ivy’s direction. “I’ll fucking kill you, you cunt!” he screamed, spitting saliva all over himself.
With what little energy Ivy had left, she put as much muscle into her punch as she possibly could and landed it into the man’s left eye, knocking him clear off his feet.

The burn of torn flesh and muscle from two separate parts of her body seemed overwhelming. The cuts must have been deeper than Ivy thought because she was starting to get dizzy. Within seconds, Ivy’s knees buckled, but right when her body should have hit the ground, it didn’t. Ivy just felt two big strong arms around her and heard a voice say, “I’ve got you, now.”


  1. Kara,my Dear,please keep going!I am now very much Intrigued & Interested.I loved It!Tina

  2. The story is already written. I just want to make sure it's up to expectations or whether it should be improved or edited somehow. Thanks Tina! You're the best!!

  3. That's really good. I didn't want it to end yet. I can't wait for more of the story.

  4. Thank you Rach! That's the idea! I'm really happy with what I'm getting back so far! I could always juice up a fight scene but I'll wait and see what else people say. :) THANK YOU!

  5. When you have more that you want comments on just post and I will read for sure. :)

  6. I read this at the incredibly wrong time. I'm hopped up on energy drinks and avoiding my own work in progress. :P

    And unfortunately for you, Kara, I've grown quite fond of you through our Twitter banter. So you're going to get the full brunt of my critiquing abilities. Feel free to delete this comment!

    I'm not quite sure what genre this is aiming for. As you probably know, I'm a deluded aspiring young adult author, so my experience leans towards that. If this is an -adult- paranormal/horror/romance, then it might be that my comments should be taken with a grain of salt. I'll try to keep my thoughts to be general, not genre specific, though!

    First, I -love- this story already. I have no idea where it's going plot-wise, but it doesn't much matter because you've got an intriguing character doing intriguing things. In general, when someone reads the first chapter of a book, they'll have read the back cover blurb, so they know where it's going. When you're getting feedback like this, folks tend not to have that benefit. Despite that, you've got me curious about what's going to happen with Ivy (love the name choice, by the by) and that's a huge win right there. You could have the best plot ever but if your characters aren't compelling there's no investment. I've set down purchased books permanently because the characters didn't do it for me. I'd be willing to pay to find out what's going on with Ivy.

    That being said, I felt a little cheated here. You've got a character with some qualities that are intriguing but you focus a great deal on what she's doing instead of who she is. It was like watching a movie on fast forward. Some gentle fact dropping here and there might let us connect more. For example, I have no idea how old Ivy is supposed to be. Am I supposed to feel like she's someone my age and thus could be a friend or sister or what have you, or is she younger? For all I know she's pushing into her high forties and this is actually a story about her midlife crisis. I desperately want to connect better to this character but I'm not sure how to and I'm a little worried about doing it improperly right off. The next chapter could start off with the sentence "Ivy was a 60 year old transexual with one leg." Not saying that's not who she should be, but I can tell that this character is unique, I just want to know how.

  7. Some other questions that might be good to answer in your first chapter:
    *Where are we? Boston? Jersey? New York? LA? London? Sydney?
    *What time of year is it? Winter in Boston is different from Winter in LA.
    *What kind of musician is Ivy? Is she carrying around an amp and electric guitar? Acoustic? Is she just a singer with a CD of music? A switchblade is dangerous, but an electric guitar upside the head makes for a brutal weapon. ;)
    *Physical description of Ivy. You're working with third person so you don't have the hang-up of a first person narrator having to awkwardly meander around physical description. Same situation as the above point in knowing basic details about her. If I'm picturing a redhead and later I find out she's blonde, it'll be a disconnect.

    Basically, you've got your story here. I'm hungry for some characterization, description and connection. You've got it here and there, but not quite enough. Especially when it comes to Ivy. I have two metaphors I like to use for my writing:
    A) What you've got here is a skeleton. You've got the foundation on which everything else is going to be built. A solid story. You've got a strong character which is your muscles and organs and whatnot. So you can function. Now you need to get the skin and such on it. A body of bones and muscles is functional, but not pretty. I couldn't hang out with someone who was only muscles and bones. They'd be bleeding all over my furniture. Gross.
    B) If that doesn't do it for you, you can look at it in my personally applicable woodworking metaphor. You're building a bookcase. You've got your wood nailed together and you can put your books on it and it'll work. But it's not much too look at. I didn't notice much I'd cut out, so you don't need to do any sanding here. But you should pick out a nice stain to make the wood really pop. Make your story look nice. :)

  8. Now to nitpick:
    *I'm no musician, but I know a few. $150 for a half hour sounds like too much. But that might have to do with the location. Find yourself someone who plays the bar scene just to be on the safe side. You might have done this already and I'm just ignorant, though! :P
    *I was a little thrown off by a fellow wearing a suit -and- carrying a switchblade. Maybe a pen-knife or something like that? If you want to stick with the switch blade, check your location's laws. If you're in Massachusetts I'm 99% sure that switch blades are illegal which says a few things about the situation.
    *Grammar Nazi. Your general mechanics looked spot on, but your dialogue tweaked me. Periods only go at the end of the sentence, so when you have: "Dialogue being said," he explained.
    Put a comma instead of a period. If it doesn't have a dialogue tag then a period is fine. Or if it ends with a ! or ? Also, be careful of dialogue tags:
    "They can be difficult," he spoke.
    Is awkward. I noticed at least one of those up there. If it's clear who's saying it, the dialogue may not need a specific tag. There's nothing wrong with having dozens of said's on a page. As long as you don't litter adverbs after them, anyways. :P
    *Your opening sentence isn't quite enticing enough. If not for my trust in your writing ability, I might have put this book back on the shelf. Everyone picks up keys. I could go and pick up my keys right now. What makes your story special? Maybe Ivy has a knife attached to her keyring. Maybe they're sitting on a spare tire in her apartment (who keeps a spare tire in their apartment?!). One tip I've gotten for opening lines is to cut the first paragraph you wrote. This could work for you. "The owner didn’t seem to care who Ivy was or what kind of music she played." What owner? Is Ivy a DJ or musician? It adds a bit of mystery at your first sentence. Though, your opening sentence should always be active. Have your character doing something or something being done to your character. So your initial sentence is correct in theory but limp in delivery.

    There were a few random other thoughts I had, but Google doesn't let you highlight and make notes of blog posts...and it's too late at night for me to recall what they were...If I didn't agitate you too much with my critique here, I'd be more than willing to toss this into a Word document so I can mark-it up proper.

  9. As I said at the beginning of my comment, take this (and every critique you get) with a grain of salt. I don't know what your next chapter is, I don't know exactly what genre you're aiming for, I don't know what the story is about! There are a lot of unknowns on my part, so my observations might be completely pointless. With my own work, I find that about 1 out of ever 5 critiques has -anything- worthwhile. Most of them have things that are flat-out wrong. I had one person comment on my first chapter that I had my character switching between drinking whiskey and bourbon continually. I had to make up my mind which one they were drinking. I'd like to think that most people would know better...

    But you've got yourself something here. I'm excited to see more about Ivy. Hell, your title has me intrigued. Hostage? Is Ivy the hostage? Will she be taken hostage by these two drunks? Or will she be taking someone hostage? Is Hostage going to be a metaphor rather than literal? Please don't keep us waiting too long to find out.

    Though, be warned, publicly posting too much of an unpublished manuscript is not a good idea. First you've got the issue of someone potentially swooping in and stealing your ideas and second you're giving the public a sneak preview of a work in progress. Think of it as viewing -only- the deleted scenes of your favorite movie. The first few versions of a couple opening chapters is probably fine though. Not to mention you're only going to be inspiring folks to become fans already. :P Got one right here.

    Hopefully I don't wake up to you cursing me via Twitter... :\ Gah...If you're reading this, I decided to click the 'Post Comment' button.

    (Sorry for the multiple comments. Blogger doesn't take kindly to longer comments. I had to click 'Post Comment' THREE times. Damn. I've got courage right

  10. Holy smokes! Okay, here's the part where you're (Ian) ganna kill me. This was NOT the first chapter of my story. It was a random scene I picked out of it. I just wanted you all to see a sample of my work and tell me what you think of it. But your comments are fantastic. You mentioned a few things that are definitely going to make me look back at some parts of this scene.

    As far as 'more' goes. Less is best. This is a full manuscript which I'm looking to publish. I don't want to give too much away, but just enough to make people want to buy it. :) I will be copyright-ing it soon so I'm not too worried about thieves.

  11. Huh...Well there's an hour of my life I'll never get back. ;)

  12. LOL!! Sorry Ian. I guess I should have mentioned that. :)