Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Beginning 499

Josiah wolfed down a sandwich, then worked his way through a bag of chips, staring absent-mindedly at the bottom half of the pyramid visible from the open tent. He glanced up, noticing for the first time the two girls that had come in for lunch as well. They were college students, lucky enough to be working with his uncle for a few months. Smiling at him, they turned back to each other.

“So handsome! He looks just like a little Dr. Keeper.”

“Oh, and those eyes! He’s going to be a lady killer, I can see it already.”

Josiah blushed furiously as the two moved out of hearing range. He hated the way adults had of talking about you like you were an idiot and couldn’t hear them. From behind him came a sing-song voice. He rolled his eyes.

“There once was a young man named Josie; his cheeks were delightfully rosy. When’er he went by, the girls would all sigh, and toss him a beautiful posy.”

“Hi, Darah,” Josiah said with a sigh. “Your dad was looking for you.”

“Of course,” she continued, ignoring his greeting, “posies wouldn’t really be all that flattering. After all, they were used to cover up the stench of dead bodies during the plague. But Josie is a hard rhyme, now, isn’t it? Why couldn’t you have an easy name, like Frank, or Tom?”

“Well, my name isn’t actually Josie. And you didn’t answer my question.”

She posed with her hands under her chin, blinked exaggeratedly at him, as if flapping her eyelashes the way some moms did when he walked past, and said, “This character Josie is dense. The things that he says make no sense. Wants answers to questions, he hasn't yet mentioned, which leaves all the readers incensed.”

Opening: Kiersten.....Continuation: BuffySquirrel


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

"Of course," she continued as if he hadn't spoken, "if your name was Frank it would rhyme with stank, and if it was Tom, it would almost rhyme with dumb--"

Josiah took the fork and stabbed her in the eye. The steak knife went up her nostril. Dusting his hands, he marched off into the desert heat. Best desert he'd had in weeks. --writtenwyrdd

none said...

Your limerick is much funnier than mine, EE. I bow to the master!

Kiersten White said...

Buffy, that made me laugh. Thanks. In changing some things around, I took out Josiah's question, and now that doesn't make sense. I'll fix it immediately.

Kiersten White said...

It now reads, "Did your dad find you?"

Evil Editor said...

I didn't think it was funnier, I just couldn't find evidence that Josh was a nickname for Josiah.

Kiersten White said...

Hey, what was EE's limerick?

Also, open to comments, criticism, ridicule, flogging, even compliments.

Evil Editor said...

p.1: Sould that be "absently," rather than "absent-mindedly," which would imply he's forgetting things?

p.4: Maybe "like you weren't there" or "like you were deaf" might be better than "like you were an idiot and couldn’t hear them." Many idiots can hear just fine.

P.7: I'm finding Tom only slightly easier to rhyme than Josie. Maybe she should say Josiah's not easy to rhyme. Or change Tom to Jack.

p.8: As mentioned in the continuation, what question?

Evil Editor said...

Buffy's limerick was:

'There once was a carnie named Josh
Who talked a whole load of bosh
He said he'd asked questions
'Bout things that weren't mentioned
D'you think he went soft in the wash?'

I reworked it because I didn't think Darah would call him Josh, and I didn't know a meaning of carnie that would apply to him.

writtenwyrdd said...

There are a few things to tweak, as EE mentions, but I thought the opening worked. It set the scene, told us a bit about Josiah's feelings about his situation and established a conflict with an annoying girl who is also there. We know it's YA or mid-grade, too. It was a nice voice that drew me in and I would have read more.

Kiersten White said...

Seriously, EE, that's a great limerick. I wish I could use it in the book...alas, Darah is not as clever as you are.

And I'm making all of your suggesting word changes. Thanks.

Anyone else? I'm very hard to offend, I promise.

Kiersten White said...

And WW, I would have ended it, "Dusting his hands, he smiled. 'Looks like I'm already a ladykiller.'"

none said...

Fair enough. The carnie thing was a guess--I guess I guessed wrong, I guess!

Julie Weathers said...

Kiersten, this is the opening I read the other day that grabbed me. I like it very much.

The things EE pointed out are the only things I noticed. Abesntly is much better. Also the thing about idiots hearing fine.

I like witty YA writing, so this appealed to me. You have a very nice voice.

Good job.

writtenwyrdd said...

Hey, I was trying for the only lame pun I could think of! He was in the desert, he'd finished off lunch with killing the annoying maiden...it's his dessert. Get it? Seriously bad, I know...

Robin S. said...

Hi Kiersten,

You've got a nice fresh voice here - and you drew a good picture!

What age range are you going for?

Loved that buffy/EE combo plan.

Kiersten White said...

JYA--anywhere from 11-14. Kind of upper middle grade, so it's hard to define. Josiah is twelve, and Darah is thirteen. I've thought of making them a little older, but then the interaction with Tut, who is nine, wouldn't be as believable.

And thanks, everyone! I made EE's word changes (and fixed the question that was not a question, although I almost wish I didn't so that I could use EE's limerick...). Now I'm just bitter that I can't get EE's edit on Brenda Novak's site. Oh well.

I'm so glad that you like the voice, too. Like they say, that's one of the things you really can't change. Whew!

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hi Kiersten:

Nice voice. Just a couple of other nits.

1st graph:

Can he not see the whole pyramid from the open tent? Or should that be through the tent's opening?

If he's looking out and he glances up, where's he looking that he didn't already see the girls? Would he consider college-aged females "girls"? Especially when he refers to them as adults in the next paragraph?

Don't think you need to say he noticed them for the first time, which is ambiguous. Could mean it's the first time he's ever seen them, but then how would he know they're college students working for his uncle? But if they have just come in to eat, wouldn't they have had to come in through the tent's opening and wouldn't have Josiah seen them?

Are they really turning back to each other and smiling at him simultaneously?

Maybe something like:

Josiah wolfed down a sandwich, then worked his way through a bag of chips, staring absently at the base of the pyramid visible through the tent's opening. Two women blocked his view as they hurried in for lunch. College students. He recognized them as the pair lucky enough to be working with his uncle for a few months. They smiled at him, then headed for the meal line, glancing back over their shoulders as they went.

(Hopefully this isn't a dupe. Blogger isn't being kind to me today.)

Julie Weathers said...

Yes, EE's edit is in much demand. I've been lusting after the gaming laptop. Well, lots of things, really, but that makes me drool.

It will be interesting to see if things fire up towards the end of the auction. I'm guessing EE will go quite a bit higher.

talpianna said...

Then my Uncle Josiah
Lit the great 'Frisco fire
Ran off to Hawaii
With the O'Leary cow

---"Anatole of Paris," Sylvia Fine

Dave Fragments said...

Hard to rhyme? Try:

'There once was a carnie named Josiah
Who talked a whole lotta junk 'bout Myriah
He said he'd asked questions
'Bout things that weren't mentioned
Madonna, M Jackson and Uriah.

Sure it's nonsense, but she's only teasing him. If you don't like Uriah Heep, then Godiva works.

I presume the two college girls who call him cute and adorable are there to establish he's young.

Why so many words? And why such skimpy college girls.
Josiah Keeper wolfed down a sandwich and began working his way through a bag of chips when the coeds entered the tent. Silly college girls, lucky enough to intern with his Uncle for a few months and not appreciate the experience. For a moment, they obstructed his view of the pyramid.

They smiled at him. “So handsome! He looks just like a little Dr. Keeper.”

“Oh, and those eyes! He’s going to be a lady killer, I can see it already.” Josiah blushed and they giggled. he hated when adults talked like he didn't hear. Darah snuck up behind him. Her sing-song voice introducing her presence.

Add the limerick and the rest.

Kiersten White said...

Ah, but in fact they do enjoy the experience very much. One of them is a spy.

But that has nothing to do with this book, and will never have anything to do with any book unless I sell this one.

Thanks for all of the input, and I'm so glad to see that this generated limerick fun.

Whirlochre said...

You got riddim, which counts for a lot. This is very easy on the ear and my guess is you could write out a phone book and make it sound interesting.

I like this a lot.

My only niggle is that the 1st line seems overloaded. And I'm struggling to niggle, even with that.

Chris Eldin said...

I like this, but it feels like a chapter opening rather than a book opening (not that there's anything wrong with that--I've done it a couple of times!)

I'd read on...

Kiersten White said...

It's a book opening, Chris. I originally started with a ten-page chapter based at Josiah's mom's funeral, but oddly enough the tone of that didn't work well in a middle-grade novel. Wonder why...

So I started in the middle of the next chapter, and let the reader figure things out as they go along. Like why Josiah demands answers for questions he never asks. (Okay, I fixed that, so not really.)

And shucks, I just wish you were all agents! Then I might actually be getting somewhere.

WO, I do actually have plans for a phonebook. It's my next project.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love the voice! And I think you have enough comments on what needs to be tweaked. I get a feeling of middle grade from this, but a lot depends on the subject matter.