Janet Sumner Johnson
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Show Me the Voice Blogfest

Mar 20, 2011 Uncategorized 22 comments

 The Show Me the Voice Blogfest is hosted by Brenda Drake over at Brenda Drake Writes . . . under the influence of coffee.

The idea is to polish up our first 250 words before entering them in her contest. The prizes include critiques from Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Literary Agency. Totally awesome! You don’t have to participate in the blogfest to enter, so go check out Brenda’s blog for the details! And be sure to check out the other entries. You can find the list here.

So here are the first 250 words of The Peanut Butter and Jelly Friendship, a middle grade contemporary novel. I’d love to hear your comments!

When they’d first started the cemetery, Annie always hoped for rain. She thought it was more dramatic. But common sense won out. Rain turned the holes into mud baths.
Fortunately, today was perfect, clear-sky burial weather. If she had to wait any longer, it would be too late.
Annie eavesdropped from the top of the stairs. Her brother Matt and a friend droned on about healing plants for Boy Scouts. That’d keep him out of her hair.
She tip-toed down the hall and peeked in her mom’s room. Busy with bills. And Kate was out of the house. Perfect.
Still, to be safe, she sneaked the phone into the hall closet where her sister’s faux fur parka would muffle the sound. She speed-dialed 7 and let it ring once, then hung up and called again. Their secret code. It rang twice before Jason answered.
“It’s me.” Annie was all business. “I’ve got a body count.”
Jason hedged. “I don’t know. My parents are talking to this lady, and . . .”
“Jason, you’re ten. Find a way. This is important.” Without waiting for a response, she hung up.
Jason wouldn’t find a way. Annie knew. She’d just have to go to his house and get him, like usual.

After listening at the door for several seconds, she slipped out of the closet and replaced the phone. In seconds, she extracted the pre-packed bag from under her bed then ran down the stairs.


22 Responses to “Show Me the Voice Blogfest”

  1. Joanne says:

    I like this, you got me from the first sentence. Started a cemetery? For what? A people cemetery? Pets? Stuffed animals? I want to know, so the first sentence had me read on. Annie is definitely a girl on a mission, and is taking Jason along with her. It's got good energy going on, too.

  2. Great hook! Does it count if her voice shows in her actions? I think so, you have only those two lines of dialogue, but I still feel this girl's deviousness, determination and frustration with her friend. The only thing that jarred me was the "IN seconds" at the end, but that's really minor. Oh but wait. Is it normal for a hall closet with coats to be on the top floor, because it says she goes down the stairs… again, that's really minor.

    I would definitely keep reading to find out more about this girl and her body count!

  3. I like it. I get a strong sense of her from just this short excerpt. I might consider switching the first two paragraphs (but if I did, I'd nix the word fortunately).

  4. I'm definitely hooked. What intrigue! What's this cemetery? What's the body count? Great job.

  5. Steph says:

    Middle grade voice is so hard, and you have done a really nice, authentic job here! Good luck to you! This is great!

  6. Cheree says:

    I love your first sentence, you have a really good hook here. The voice is fantastic.

  7. 'I've got a body count.' What?! Okay, I'm definitely reading on, because I need to know what happens next. (Also a big fan of 'Jason, you're ten'.)

    I love the sense of practicality I get from Annie–that she used to hope for rain, but frankly it makes a bog of things, so she's switched to a new definition of 'perfect burying weather'.

    I love the secret code and the muffling of the phone. I was all about acting like I was out of a mystery book when I was that age.

    I'm looking for something to nitpick, because I want to be helpful… but I just love it, sorry!

  8. You definitely had my intrigued with the cemetry and body count part. Love the voice and love the part: "Jason, you're ten. Find a way." Too funny.

    Great job! And good luck in the contest. 😀

  9. Love it! Great MG voice – full of fun. Can't wait to know what they're burying! 🙂

  10. She is a full personality in the first page, that's wonderful. Determined, strong, on a mission. Good dialogue – very natural. The reader loikes her immediately.

    I had to read the first paragraph twice to try to figure out exactly what you were talking about, but once it made sense, the whole story hung together very well.

    Good job!! And good luck!

  11. I like Annie's voice, take charge, no non-sense. I have to admit the first sentence confused me and I had to read it several time. It wasn't until I read some of the comments that I understood that Annie and Jason had "started" the cemetery. Maybe it was the use of the word "they"- I was thinking of someone else (a committee or town) not "they" as in Annie and Jason. I'd want to read more.

  12. Fantastic voice for a MG! Her voice shines through loud and clear. Mischeivous little sprite, aint she? I mostly just want to know what the hell started a cemetery means and what she's up to! God job!

  13. I loved this. Strong voice, great first line.I would keep reading!

    Great job. Good luck with the contest!


  14. Shallee says:

    I agree with the others, catchy concept and engaging voice. Nice job!

  15. Guinevere says:

    I was a little confused about what was going on here – the healing plants, the starting of the cemetery. But I'd read on because I do really like the voice here. "Jason wouldn't find a way" tells me so much about Annie, Jason, and the dynamic between them – I love it.

  16. Stopping by from the blogfest. Great job. I would read more!

  17. This is great, Janet! Really catches my attention and makes me want to know what happens! I like the title too. Thanks for sharing about the blogfest also.

  18. I would definitely keep reading- I'm totally intrigued.

    Well done!

  19. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss janet! wow for sure im liking this. i like all that secret stuff and i like annie cause shes "all business." you got me hooked on that cemetary and body count stuff. for sure i could wanna read more.
    …hugs from lenny

  20. Lynn says:

    Very good. Got me hooked instantly.

  21. I love this! Is it a pet cemetery? I'm curious! I want to know more 😀 Great job!!


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