Thursday, August 22, 2013

Write, Edit, Publish Bloghop: Vacation Theme

Halo, fine friends and welcome! This if my first run at this Write, Edit, Publish Bloghop and already I find myself needing to cheat. My life has overwhelmed me and writing and editing take TIME, so instead of writing something FRESH, I am going to post my Vacation themed first scene from A Flock of Ill Omens.

Only it’s a workcation… So that is cheating twice, eh?

But first: what this blog hop IS:

Hosted by Denise Covey, it is practice to polishing up our work (and getting feedback):

1. SUBMIT your name to the Inlinkz list below NOW if you wish to participate
2. CREATE your entry according to the monthly theme - August = VACATION. More info here
3. EDIT your entry until it sparkles
4. POST your entry on your blog/facebook on the dates shown - remember to state feedback preferences (full critique to general comments) and whether your work is copyrighted - ©
5. READ other entries, giving feedback as requested

Feedback I am seeking: Does this HOOK you (do you want more? You can have more if you do… offering this free—first in a serial), anything that confuses you? Rub you the wrong way? I have a copy editor with this now, so no need for typo level stuff, but I’d love impressions.

A Flock of Ill Omens (first 2 pages)

1. Sidney Knight: Lincoln City, Oregon: Sea of Birds

Sidney Knight knew some people were freaked out by seagulls. She'd had a college boyfriend she mocked for it. Sure, they were noisy and moved as a mob, chasing anyone who seemed open to sharing a snack. But she didn't mind them. Except these. These were silent, spread across the beach in an unnatural formation, sprawled past a hotel and two cabins before they clogged a small delta that released a stream or storm drain into the Pacific Ocean. These didn't chase anyone. Or move or blink. They were dead. She didn't need to get any closer to know that.

She'd come to Lincoln City for the weekend because she was facing deadlines for three freelance articles she'd pitched and her recently engaged housemates, Sarah and David, had been celebrating loudly for the last week. She couldn't begrudge them their joy; she loved them both. But she needed quiet to get her work done.

Finishing the second article had sent her out of the gale-force-free comfort of her motel room to wander up the beach for some fresh air. She'd always loved the Oregon Coast. It was rock-lined and tragic and the November wind and rains exaggerated the stories in her head, making her yearn for a day she could just sit by a fireplace writing fiction and listening to the wild coastal sounds. Sadly, the freelance articles would be a necessary supplement for decades, but even there, a wind-blown walk usually cleared her head. But not with those seagulls.

She turned and ran back to the hotel, the wind working against her this time. The endless flight of wooden steps seemed even longer than normal as she made her way to the motel office. She had to ring the bell. In fact, she rang it three times before the harassed-looking woman came out, drying her hands.

“Sorry about that,” the woman said, giving off an air that was more annoyed than sorry.

The wait had allowed Sid to catch her breath, or so she thought, until she tried to speak.

“Seagulls. Hundreds of them...”

“Well this is the sea,” the woman said.

“Dead. All of them.”


“I think it might be that avian flu they've been talking about—the new strain. We're supposed to call the authorities.”

The woman's irritation evaporated, replaced by alarm. She dialed the phone. Yes. Dialed, Sid thought. It was one of the quaint things about the coast. Not much got updated.

“Joyce? This is Milly up at the Sandpiper. We've got a dead bird problem.”

She listened for a while. Sid could hear the higher-pitched voice over the line. She couldn't make out many of the words, but she was unnerved at the long list of instructions Milly seemed to be getting. Finally, Milly said she'd try and hung up, looking a little desperate.

“I hate to ask it, but I need to put some barriers down there on the beach and Jim won't be back for hours. Could you help me drag the barrels down?”

“Um... the authorities aren't coming?”

“Joyce said we're about her tenth call like this, so not for a while. We need to make sure people don't go traipsing through them—the dead birds.”

“I don't think anybody would—it's awful!”

“You'd be amazed what people will do to avoid climbing up those stairs any more often than they have to.”


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It hooked me. I want to know why the birds are dead.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's what she gets for being a good Samaritan.

Was she on the beach by the public parking and Catch the Wind or down by Mo's?

Yolanda Renee said...

I've been to Lincoln City, Oregon. Great description, sounds like an awesome read!

Denise Covey said...

Hart, you sure hooked me. The only place my interest sagged a little was when the motel lady was on the phone. Perhaps some sharper dialogue?

I love your description of setting. That always hooks me...and the mystery of the birds is intriguing, especially since this isn't random -- it's occurring elsewhere. I'd definitely be turning the page.

And don't apologise for posting this. That's what this bloghop is all about. Posting from WIPs is welcome and I'm glad you were specific regarding what feedback you wanted.

Thanks for joining our inaugural WEP bloghop. I hope you can join us next month for MOVING ON.


Diana Wilder said...

Definitely a hook. I like the reaction of the landlady to the line: 'dead. Hundreds of them.: "Uh-oh," you think. "What's going on?"

Diana at About Myself By Myself

CA Heaven said...

That's fine. Cheating can be fun from time to time >:)

Cold As Heaven

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm hooked, for sure!

Teresa Coltrin said...


michelle said...

Dead seagulls?
Great setting, great opening... great hook!
Writer In transit

Beverly Fox said...

I absolutely adore this line: "It was rock-lined and tragic and the November wind and rains exaggerated the stories in her head, making her yearn for a day she could just sit by a fireplace writing fiction and listening to the wild coastal sounds." there's like a million images in that one sentence and it a lot aobout the character.

And I agree with Alex- it's a really good hook for the very biginning of the story.

Sally said...

Great story - can lead to much more.

Mark Koopmans said...

My gosh, if that's what you're sending in when you're busy, I can't wait to read your plenty-of-time-to-write stuff:)

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hart
Your descriptions are wonderful and the dead birds scary. I want to know why too. Well done.

Lisa said...

I'm with the others, I'm hooked, want to know why, and, this was very well written. Moved quickly, no boring spots and like the introduction to the heroine. Great read, thanks! I found you on Denise's blog hop and I'm glad I did.

Helena said...

First off, I'm sorry I'm late getting to your post, Hart. Second, what an exciting beginning! We've got a smart narrator, a world-weary, harassed motel owner who becomes alarmed, and a whole bunch of dead big birds which signals that something really bad is going on. There's even the menace of people who'll walk over those birds and spread the death to humans. An excellent start.