Friday, October 26, 2012

Look: An Eye on My Writing, and Yours

Hi, everyone! I'm back!

Let me tell you this: Recovering from sinus surgery is an interesting process. And when I say interesting, what I really mean is that it took more out of me physically than I expected, and that it was more intense of a process that the doctor conveyed. I'm doing well and feeling good now, but I was out of commission for a while, and that's why I didn't blog last week. Life happens, even to writers and bloggers.

This week, I'm back to share a piece of my young adult urban fantasy, what I'm calling a blend of King Arthur and Stephen King. I'll be finishing the draft during National Novel Writing Month, and then I plan to edit it and shop it to agents next year.

In the meantime, I thought it'd be fun to participate in the Look Challenge, a blog share that has apparently been popular as of late. My friend and fellow blogger, Kristin Nador, posted on it yesterday, and I thought I'd meet her challenge and post an excerpt from my novel.

Before I do, let me give you a little tip if you're writing a book right now. Try this challenge in principle, even if you don't post your writing online. Here's why: When I pulled up my current draft and searched for the word "look," I was amazed and perhaps a little embarrassed at how often it came up in my writing. I swear, I'm wondering right now if I know words other than look. I do, of course, but man! It seems to me that word searches like this can help us identify lazy areas of our writing... the places where we tell too much, instead of showing the action. I'll be searching for "look" in my drafts from now on, and seeing where I can be more descriptive or creative than I'm being right now.

But... In the meantime, here's that look (pun intended) that I promised you at my young heroine, Shae, who has just received a set of letters from her father, who has been incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital for years. Enjoy! And feel free to share in the comments a link to your own blog if you'd like to participate in the Look Challenge for yourself.

 * * * * *

“You’re losing it, Shae,” she told herself. “Pull it together.” Shakily, she put Sloan's creepy calling card on the bed and picked up her father’s latest letter. With careful fingers, Shae slit open the envelope and reached in. Her fingers hit something hard. Odd.

A key bounced out onto the soft bedspread. It didn’t look at all familiar. What was it for? And for that matter, how did her father get access to a key? Wouldn’t that be off limits? Maybe the inmates really did run the asylum—literally. Swearing softly, she set the key next to Sloan’s card, a mystery to be solved later. Maybe Sloan would even answer her question if she asked about it.

No. What was she doing even thinking about asking him about it? “You’re really losing it,” she said, more firmly.

A pinch of anxiety pressed its claws into Shae’s spine as she pulled out her father’s final missive, written on what appeared to be scraps of construction paper, possibly from some ridiculous attempt at art therapy, just like the first one. Jagged, ripped strips of pink, green, and blue paper had been taped together, and the handwriting was sloppy, as if her father had been forced to write it in haste. The letter read:


Need to see you as soon as possible. Must make plans for your birthday. You will be free of the fools who know no better. Free to do as fate requires of you. It is urgent that you choose the proper path, and soon. Come as swiftly as you can, as soon as you get this letter. Don’t delay.

Don’t let yourself be followed. He’s watching, and he knows everything. Take precautions! Beware of those who speak promises. Share your secrets with no one, and be ready to fight for your life at all times. The hounds of hell stalk the unwary, but I have raised you to know better. You know what to do. I pray you will do it well.

I trust you have kept up your training with diligence, but there is much more to teach you. Be prepared for a test when you arrive. It is imperative!

2101 E @ Post. Stam. Lilly.

Your father

Swallowing her bile, Shae read the letter again, hoping another pass through would help her comprehend it, but it only made her father’s arrogant demands stand out all the more. Not even a please. Or a miss you. Or I love you. Ire rose in her like volcanic lava.

“God…” she spat. “Bastard!” She crushed the letter.

* * * * *

Stay tuned for news when I finish this book, because I'm going to celebrate and I want you to join me. I'll do the same for your writing projects. In fact, fellow writer Jimmy Garcia is stopping by next week to share about his writing and his new novel, so be sure to stop by next week. After that, I'll be doing a series of posts on taking and giving feedback on our writing, including some thoughts on ways to work around Amazon's penchant for deleting reader reviews of self-published books. It'll be good, so keep an eye for it.

See you next week!

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. Excerpt from work-in-progress used by permission of author. All rights to blog and excerpt reserved.


  1. So glad you're feeling better from your surgery. Thanks for taking me up on the challenge, and your excerpt is great. Makes me want to find out what happens next!

    1. Thanks, Kristin. And glad to hear the excerpt made you want to read more. Music to my ears!

  2. Nice work! That's a great tip to look for "look." It's an easy crutch word. I created a Wordle graphic the other day of a short story I'm working on, and was fairly shocked to discover "just" and "like" figured so prominently. I'd just like to think I'm more literate than that. ;)

    1. Hi, Brandy. Thanks for sharing the idea to use Wordle graphics. I was wondering how to create a list of my personal overused words, and that's a good way to do it.


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