Hook Line & Sinker Blogfest

 

Justin W. Parente is hosting the Hook Line & Sinker Blogfest over on his blog In My Write Mind. Click on the link above to check out all the participants’ entries and friend Justin–his site is awesome! Here’s the challenge in Justin’s words:

Just to remind you, the theme of the blogfest is such: Please post a 1000 word (a few over is okay) sample of your hook. Preferably, chop it right out from the opening of your manuscript. I’d like to see the range of openings various writers have to grab attention. Can you establish a great character relationship in just those few words? How about showing the world? Whatever your hook is, post it for the fest and we’ll do the little jig around it (and give you comments along the way).

I didn’t want to use the same story I’ve been using for other blogfests I’ve participated in. So, I dusted off a story I had started because of a dream.I had planned to go back to it after I finish the project I’ll be doing for NaNoWriMo in November. I have several first scenes of stories that have come to me, and I write them, so I won’t lose the inspiration.I put them away  for when it’s their time to be written.This is one, so I hope you like it.

******************************

The color black is just not black enough. If it were blacker, maybe I could completely disappear. I flick a spitball from the sleeve of my black T-shirt, and it falls onto my jeans. I swipe it away and it lands next to my  Converse.  Yet again, a wad of paper hits me in the back of my head. Shit. I hate being here. 

Ms. Landon is so clueless; she never knows what goes on in her classroom. The marker squeaks angrily across the dry-erase board as she writes out a polynomial equation. Why Ms. Landon doesn’t wear Spanx or something is beyond me. Seriously, her cream-colored, polyester skirt is so tight I can see her lady lumps–and I mean cellulite, not Fergalicious curves–not to mention her panty lines. I’m no fashion critic, I wear the same thing every day, but even I’ve heard Oprah go on about how Spanx makes a woman’s curves smoother when my checked-out-of-life mother blasts the show while washing dishes.  

Math sucks. And not because I can’t do the work, but because it’s swarming with A-list maggots, and they all hate me. Another spitball hits the back of my head. This one is big and sticks to my hair. I reach behind my head and wipe it off . . . it’s not a spitball . . . it’s a snot ball. I drag my hand away and look at the slimy mucus slipping through my fingers as a chorus of giggles ignites behind me. Not giving the perpetrator the satisfaction of me freaking out, I raise my clean hand calmly and wait for Ms. Landon to acknowledge me.

“What is it, Rayne?” asks Ms. Landon, her hand rests on her hip and a cloud of red hair frames her face as she looks pointedly through her glasses at me.

I freeze.
“Miss Gray, what do you need?”
“Um . . . may I go to the restroom?”

“Certainly, but don’t dawdle, we have a lot to cover today.” 

I stumble to my feet and peer through the black strands of my overly long bangs at Parker, Mr. Popularity, the smirk still lingering on his face tells me the loogie was a present from him.

Parker glares at me. “What freak?”

Ms. Landon spins away from the board. “Mr. Davis!  This is your first warning. You don’t want to spend today’s game in detention after school, do you?”

“No ma’am,” Parker drones.

We all know she won’t act on that threat. No one puts the point guard in a corner.

I pass Jessica Harvey on my way over to the door, and she gives me a sympathetic smile.We were friends back in ninth grade, before the accident. She’s nice to me, but only if I cross her path. The jester is kind, so I return a grateful grin. I pull the hall pass off the wall and yank the door open. My cupped hand reminds me of the snot I hold. How can anyone be so cruel? I go through the mini-maze into the girls’ bathroom and immediately rinse my hand. Grabbing several paper towels and drenching them with water, I wipe the gunk from the back of my head.

I’m not Emo or Goth, just an introvert. I like people as long as they stay in their own space. My light brown roots scream against the ebony dye on the rest of my hair. The mirror hates me and I hate it. There was a time when I fitted in, when I wanted to fit in, when I needed to fit in, now I just want to hide. How do you face people when the vultures plastered the details of the accident over all the newspapers and media stations?  I hate him. I wished he had died.

Tears spill over my eyelids as I stare at the girl I don’t even know in the mirror. Her once happy life gone because of one wild night she couldn’t control. The lights flicker angrily overhead and for a second I think I see the girl I used to be. I blink once, then twice, and the girl who looks like hell is there again.

Shaking my head and cupping water in my hands, I splash my face. “God.  I’ve lost my mind,” I mutter and turn off the water facet. Grabbing a couple of more towels, I dry my face.

The lights flicker again and then blackout.

“Damn it.  What’s going on?” As if someone would answer my question, I add another. “The school can’t even pay their electric bills, or what?”

“I know, right?”  There was no mistaking Jessica Harvey’s voice. Throbbing like a strobe, the overhead lights came back to life.  “We’d better hurry back or Ms. Landon might make us stay after class.”

Wow, she hasn’t spoken this many words to me all year. I follow her out of the bathroom and down the hall to our classroom, dreading the lecture about only one person at a time going to the restroom from Ms. Landon.

We walk in and I rush to my seat. Ms. Landon smiles at us and continues writing her lesson plan on the board.  A finger pokes my back and I turn to face Parker.

“Hey sexy,” he says. “Are we still on after the game?”

What?” My eyes are wide.

Ms. Landon spins away from the blackboard.  “Mr. Davis!  This is your first warning.  Please keep your comments to yourself.” 

First warning?   I whirl around in my seat to face Ms. Landon.  What the hell?  Did Ms. Landon change while I was gone?  She’s wearing designer jeans, a green shirt, and a black, cropped blazer.  Her red hair is straightened and tamed.

“Turn to page twenty-two,” Ms. Landon orders.

I glance at my book and a strand of blond hair falls across my eyes.  My shirt isn’t black, it’s red and white, and instead of my jeans, I’m wearing a red skirt. A. Cheerleader’s. Skirt.  Without thinking, my hand shoots into the air.

“What is it, Addyson?” asks Ms. Landon, with her hand on her hip, she looks pointedly through her glasses at me.

I glance around the room, wondering whom she means.  As far as I know, we don’t have an Addyson in the class.

“Miss Gray, what do you need?”

“Um . . . may I go to the restroom?”

“Oh, all right, but don’t dawdle, we have a lot to cover today.”

Whoa.  Déjà vu, much?

**************************************
(This is a bit over 1,000 words here. I’ve posted the rest of the scene below in case anyone wants to continue.)
**************************************

I stumble to my feet and peer through blond strands of bangs at Parker, his lips twist into a sexy grin and then he mouths, I love you. I practically trip over someone’s pink and black, plaid backpack that is leaning against my desk and dash for the door.

“I think she’s sick,” I hear Jessica say to someone. 

What the hell is going on?  What the hell is going on?  What the hell . . ., runs through my head as I sprint to the restroom. I scurry around the mini maze and stop cold between the stalls and sinks. Sitting on one of the sinks is the loveliest pixie of a girl. Glittery yellow hair falls to the middle of her back, and the outer corner of her green eyes tilts up toward her temples. Her outfit looks made with more than a dozen rose petals in a variety of colors. She kicks her legs back and forth and her cupid lips pull into a smile.

“Hello, Addy . . . I mean Rayne.”

I gather my composure and go to the farthest sink from her. “Halloween’s been over for a week, now.” 
I don’t need to wash my hands, but I do anyway, since I only came in here to get away from everyone while I have my breakdown. That’s what it is, right?  It has to be, I’m not going all Sybil, like in that movie we had to watch in Psychology. I thought I was just clinically depressed, but I could be going mental . . . who even knows when they’re mental? We all can think we’re sane, but really, we might not be.
My eyes travel to the mirror, and she stares back at me, the girl I used to be.  She’s five-foot-six, blond with brown doe-eyes, wearing a cheerleader outfit, with the same stunned expression on her face as me.  I hate her.  I buried her a long time ago, underneath the black cloud of clothes and hair dye.
“So, you ready to talk?”asks Pixie Girl.
I pull my eyes from the mirror and settle them on her. “Okay, so what’s happening to me? I have Dissociative Identity Disorder . . . you know, multiple personalities, don’t I? And you’re one of my personalities, right?”
Pixie Girl jumps off the sink. “That’s just plain silly.”
“I’m Silly?  Right.  Look who’s talking? Do you always wear flowers for a dress?”
“I don’t know . . . you made me up.” She twirls around and the petal skirt rises.
“Oh. My. God. I am insane.” My eyes travel across her. “You look so real.”
She comes over and slaps my face–hard I might add. “Does that feel real to you?
My hand covers my cheek and I nod.
“I am real,” she says. “I was just fooling with you. Listen, the bell’s about to ring and there goes our privacy.  Rayne, I’m your guide. You see, I sent you into the body of yourself in a parallel world to your own world.  This girl’s name is Addyson. She’s perfect . . . well, pretty much perfect. Maybe it’s too perfect. You know, it can get tiring trying to maintain that level of perfect.
“You, on the other hand, well . . . you’re drab. Nothing matters to you anymore and you spend all your free time in your room zoned out on your computer or reading or just staring at the ceiling. I’ve never seen anyone stare at a ceiling so much. I’ve seen your ceiling and it isn’t much to stare at.”
“You’ve been in my room?”
Duh,” she hisses. “Pay attention. Both you and Addyson have two weeks to figure out why you’ve been switched. Something bad is going to happen in two weeks. I’d tell you, but the higher beings don’t give me all the details. All I know is that your lives depend on it.”
“Why switch us?” I’m feeling annoyed now. “Why don’t they just warn us and let us figure it out in our own worlds?”
“If only it was that simple, I’d be in Barbados with Dain right about now. It’s like this, you both are blind to your own particular dangers, so if we switch you, then you can see what she can’t see for herself and vice versa.”
Riiighhht,” I say, slowly. “I’m going with insanity. I’ll go home, go to bed, and when I wake up in the morning all of this would have been a dream.” Without another look at Pixie Girl, I walk back out the mini maze, through the hall, out of the door and head down the street to my house. It’s too freaking cold outside to wear a skirt.
The dream feels real, not only does the breeze flip my hair around, but also, I can smell Mrs. Dowdy’s pumpkin bread baking. Every week after Halloween, she bakes bread with the insides of her carved pumpkins. The hag doesn’t even share the wealth.
Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to click the picture in the sidebar to sign up for The Never-ending Scene (or cliffhanger, whatever) Blogfest for a chance to win a ten page novel critique and a synopsis critique or $50 gift certificate towards edits from CA Marshall, editor/agent intern/author extraordinaire. There’s also runner-up prizes. Check out my interview below to get know CA Marshall better. I look forward to reading everyone’s entries! 
 

15 comments to Hook Line & Sinker Blogfest

  • It does draw you in. Don’t we all wish we could slip into an alternate universe where we had made all the right decisions?

    Great entry. Come read mine. Being rebellious and all, I made it a bit different.

  • Hi,

    I loved getting lost in this and read to the end, and would have read on and on!

    So yes it was a classic hook line and sinker read. Brilliant in presentation, too 😉

    best
    F

  • Hook(s) – Something happened to Rayne. What? The switcheroo. Why?

    Line – A pixie guide! With a flower dress!

    Sinker – What happens next? Does Rayne get to relive her mistake and this time try to avert it?

    I loved it! Didn’t notice the length! Sounds like a killer book!

  • yeah i read it to the end too, good luck with Nanowrimo am participating too but the pantser in me does not even know what she is writing yet

  • That first part reminded me of the worst about school. It’s amazing the cruelty students can inflict on one another.

    Then some flicking lights and everything changes. Definitely an intriguing beginning. I enjoyed it.

  • I also read all the way to the end, so the first 1000 words obviously had a good hook! This is a cool idea 🙂

  • While I seriously had gag reflex at the snot ball, I loved this. It pulled me right in & the surprise is well worth the read. The premise is great, the writing is excellent.
    Patti

  • Brenda: This is really good, I mean it. Your voice really shines and I have an instant attachment to the character. This really hooks. I would read more. If I picked this up in a bookstore, I would buy it.

    I am very impressed.

  • Brenda–

    I am not a reader of present tense, actually avoid it at all costs, but this sucked me in and I didn’t care if it was past or present. Great hook. I finished the post and would have continued to read through to the end of the book –if it were here.

    Your prose flows amazingly well, and I really cared about your character.

    Thanks for the read,

    Jodi

  • Great hook. The seamless slip into the alternate universe was awesome and drew me in… but the time limit and suspense hooked me. So do they each have to find one another somehow? Interesting. Great job.

  • Great hook! Love the story concept!

    No writerly critique at all, it’s perfect if you ask me.

    Tessa.xx

  • Interesting. The voice does sound out in this. Kind of funny how both our main characters have a similar last name, oh how the universe works. 😉

  • As with most that left comments, I too read til the end. My only critique is from the first part..when Jessica Harvey is also in the bathroom..when did she actually come into the bathroom? As one that has had MANY conversations with myself in the girl’s bathroom, I find it odd that Rayne would continue to talk out loud knowing someone is also occupying the bathroom.

    I did cringe at the parts about the spitballs and snot ball *gag* and was reminiscent in all the cruel acts either inflicted on me or those that I had done on others so I can’t be too bitter about mean people!

    I think Rayne turning into Addyson is a great hook..I think in the end Rayne will appreciate the life she has now and learn to get over herself and the situation she was in.

    P.S. Parker is GROSS!!

  • Thanks everyone for your kind comments. This was sort of rough before I edited it for this blogfest. I too think the snot ball was gross, but it comes from my own experience while riding the bus back in high school. One came flying through the window and hit me in the back of the head. LOL Anytime someone makes a loogie sound my stomach turns.

    Parker is the bad guy in both Addyson’s and Rayne’s story. So WritesMyLife Parker is gross. Also, when the lights go out Rayne is now in the alternate life of Addyson, so Jessica had gone in with Addyson in this alternate universe. Addyson and Rayne are the same girl just in alternate universes. The reason their names are different is because of choices from their parents. It comes out as the story unfolds.

    Again thanks to everyone for such a fun blogfest!

  • This was a really good start! I’m eager to learn more about such a strange yet very interesting occurrence, and the fact that your character is endearing doesn’t hurt.

    My one bit of advice that has not already been mentioned is this:

    “Another spitball hits the back of my head” doesn’t really flow well right after “Math sucks. And not because it’s swarming with A-list maggots, and they all hate me.” I would add in one more sentence of some sort so it can be better eased into.

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