CONTEST WHINING: Well, my rating went up a LITTLE!

NOTE: American LJ Idol entry is the previous entry. My intro is still here–scroll down. This entry is contest whining.

I’m still in the running at the Gather.com First Chapters Contest. If you’d like to go rate my chapter *ahem*, it’s up at the Little Rituals chapter page. But when you try to click on a star or put in a comment, if you’re not a Gather member, they’ll take you to a registration page. I have not had any spam or mail from them since I joined, so that shouldn’t be a problem, but it is a consideration (sometimes you just don’t want to give out your e-mail address.) Some people have gotten sixty votes or more! However, please don’t feel pressured. They told us to go pimp publicize the contest and get people to vote on/rank our chapters, so that’s what I’m doing.

_Abigail’s Dragon_, by our colleague , is still hanging in there with a fairly good score. (See, I’m being fair in hyping that chapter as well as mine.) I also liked a couple of the other higher-rated stories on the site. However, a few of the highly ranked stories have flaws that I believe would keep them from being pulled out of the slush at most literary agencies. The biggest flaw that seems to fly right past most readers, though, is the problem of starting too much “in medias res.” We as readers need to identify with the main character before we can sympathize or care much about what happens, so when the first line is, “Hurry! Run for your life!” and is about someone being pursued, that can work against you. After all, you are supposed to ramp up tension and anticipation across the book, and after this kind of opener, tension is necessarily going to drop. If you kill off that first character immediately, it’s going to be the “Mars Attacks” effect–some readers (me) will throw the book against the wall in frustration. It’s a high-wire tightrope act. However, many online readers seem to like those kinds of openings.

It’s kind of neat the way I keep getting comments from people I don’t know and didn’t contact. I hope they are hitting the star for a rating of “10,” though, because I need it to pull that average up. They’re only taking the top 15 entries on to the next round. *gloom*

*sunlight shafts through clouds* Although I did get cool comments from most everyone. Okay, y’all already know/suspect that Dennis is a little in love with me* my long-time friend and critique partner, and might have been a LITTLE biased because he was already an advocate for LR to begin with, and I begged Jack R. to go over there from Writing2 (a mailing list I’ve always been on) and rate it, but he also e-mailed me with a long list of questions and things that I can use to improve the next book–basically, he talks about a plot engine to drive a story rather than character quirks, and since he’s on the staff at a Canadian TV show, he should be listened to. It was really cool that he went over to vote! But most of the commenters are people who ran across the chapter on Gather, apparently. They cared enough to post, so that’s cool.

* [Only kidding.]

I have to stop checking my ranking. I mean, if my chapter doesn’t make the cut, it’s not the end of the world. (That’s a song by Skeeter Davis that was covered by Herman’s Hermits, and is still one of my favorite wallow-in-misery songs–has been since junior high. I inherited the Peter Noone crush from my older cousin, who donated her records. I’m not THAT old.)

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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