Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

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LaylaF
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Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by LaylaF » October 18th, 2010, 5:56 pm

Hi.... This is my first chapter of a light-hearted, young adult adventure/fantasy. Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated!

CHAPTER ONE

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are certain days when it’s best not to get out of bed in the morning. Some days it’s better if you pull the covers up over your head, tell the world, “no way!” and go back to sleep. But, the problem is you never know if this day is one of those days until it’s too late, way too late.

And, since I’d spent the first sixteen years of my existence living a pretty normal, if not somewhat mundane life, it never occurred to me to consider a day in bed as the safer, saner, more preferable alternative. However, by the time I learned that being born into the Stokes family made my odds of living what most people would call “a normal life” pretty slim, it was too late...I’d already gotten out of bed.

It started innocently enough, the day my mom decided to phone Granny to tell her about the Summer Science Fair and Exposition that was happening at our school. She knew that Granny would be interested, having been married for forty years to my dearly departed Pop-Pops, a somewhat famous, and even more eccentric, scientist and inventor who always liked things that had to do with the new and unusual. Anyway, it was early on a Saturday morning and we’d just finished breakfast...

“I’m worried,” Mom said, putting the phone down, “I keep calling Granny Stokes, but she doesn’t answer. It’s just not like her not to answer the phone; she usually gets it on the first ring.” She paused a moment. “Samantha,” she turned to me, “would you go out to Granny’s and do a house check on her? I want to be sure she’s okay.”

“I don’t want to go. Let Samuel do it,” I quickly responded. “If Granny’s dead and lying on the ground rotting somewhere, I sure don’t want to be the one to find her.”

“Oh c’mon,” admonished my mother. “I need your help on this. And besides, it’s really your turn to go visit her Samantha, but if you want, I’ll have Samuel go with you just in case.”

“Just in case? Just in case what? Are you kidding me? I don’t want to go either; the whole thing is too creepy!” Samuel threw in.

Even though Samuel was my twin, he was five minutes younger than me and a whole three inches shorter and I have to admit, he was pretty much afraid of everything in the whole wide world, even his own shadow. In fact, I’d say the only thing the two of us had in common, besides our genetic markers, was our dislike for finding dead bodies, especially if it was our Granny’s.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” my mom responded. “Listen kids, I have an idea, why don’t you both go and take some chips with you? You know, make it a party. I’ve got some of those barbeque ones that Granny likes so much. I think she’d really appreciate it.”

“If she’s alive,” Samuel mumbled under his breath.

“Just don’t let her know that you’re checking up on her,” Mom continued pretending not to hear Samuel’s remark. “In fact you can take Bookers with you. Granny always loves to see Bookers.”

Sam Bookers lived two houses down from us; and with our two moms being best friends and all, the three of us played together since we were in diapers; we started kindergarten together, lost our first tooth together and, well, you get the picture. We were known as the three Sams, Sam cubed, or Sam to the third degree. And for obvious reasons we always called him Bookers.

Granny Stokes adored him.

In fact, everyone adored Sam Bookers.

I have to admit he was a real charmer; the kind of guy who, when he walked into a room, voices hushed and heads turned. And no matter what was happening around us, he always managed to stay cool; which, when you think about it, was a feat in and of itself, since, at our age it’s extremely difficult, if not completely impossible to achieve maximum coolness (unless, of course, you’re someone like Campbell Sommers or one of her awesomely cool friends).

Anyway, on this day, in the heart and the heat of a gorgeous summer morning, the three Sams, bound together by family, loyalty and friendship, found ourselves standing outside of Granny Stokes’ somewhat dilapidated ‘American craftsman style’ bungalow home.

At first glance, her house looked like one of those historic homes that they always show on the home and garden channel (not that I watch that stuff) with its ‘gabled roofs, deeply overhanging eaves and exposed rafters’, looking all architecturally cute and awesome. It’d be one of those homes that you’d wish you could live in, when in reality it’s kinda dark, creepy and musty smelling inside. Especially if the ‘someone’ who lives there owns two huge obnoxious parrots, three excessively demonstrative cats, and a chunky, overindulged pot bellied pig named Cynthia Malina.

Although it only took us five minutes to walk over to Granny’s, we stayed outside, sitting on the curb for about half an hour staring at the house, looking for signs of life and discussing our game plan. We had our “what-if” scenarios all lined up and well rehearsed; and of course, Mom called at least three times during our strategizing to get a status report.

“Who’s going in first?” asked Bookers.

“Not me,” stated Samuel decisively. I could tell there would be no point in arguing with him on that matter.

“I have an idea,” I suggested looking over at Bookers, “Since you’re not technically family, and therefore not as emotionally invested, I think you should go in first, followed by me and then, you last, Sam, especially since you’re the youngest and all.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Samuel, “and it’s not because I’m the youngest; that has nothing to do with it. I just don’t delight on the macabre idea of finding my dear sweet granny laid out on the floor with flies circling above her head and worms coming out of her mouth.”

I could tell he would be hanging far behind us and probably wouldn’t even go in at all until the coast was clear; and the ‘dear sweet granny’ routine, well I wasn’t buying that at all.

“I’m game,” said Booker enthusiastically. “I’ve always wanted to find a dead body, so for me this is as good a time as any.”

I could tell he was getting excited about the idea, and, ah, maybe even a little hopeful. Bookers had the kind of confidence that most of us only dreamed about. It allowed him to dress casual preppy when everyone else was dressing punk. He could always be found sporting a high-end, v-neck, pull-over sweater worn over a freshly laundered bright white tee. His pants were scruffy jeans, tight around the butt with holes in the knees, and penny loafers, no socks; and wherever he went, he walked with a swagger as if he owned the place. And then there’s his eyes, those magnificent blue-green eyes that...

The phone rang. It was Mom again, “Any news?”

“No.”

“Have you even gone in yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? For Pete’s sake, Sam; the longer you wait the worse it’ll get!”

“Okay,” I assured her, “We’re going in right now. I’ll call when we know something.”

We all took a deep breath and armed with a bag of barbeque chips, we slowly began our approach towards the front steps. We were on red alert, ready for anything.

Suddenly, we heard a strange sound coming from the side of the house! We all jumped; screaming and falling back into each other.

Then...

“snort, snort, snort”

All heads turned, it was none other than good old Cynthia Malina, waddling along, in her pot bellied way, snorting quietly to herself, completely unaware of the panic she’d just caused. We started to laugh nervously, but our laughter quickly diminished as we took another look...red, wet, goopy gunk was all over her snout.

“Oh, no!” whispered Samuel. “It’s blood!”

We slowly approached Cynthia Malina...she was licking her lips (if pigs have lips) and snorting around more than usual.

“This can’t be good,” Samuel continued.

Very slowly, we bent down, peering closely at the pig. Bookers, always in the lead, reached out and swiped his finger across the red goop covering Cynthia Malina’s snout; he sniffed it, then popped his finger in his mouth and sucked it off.

“Holy crap, Bookers!” I screamed.

“Mmmmm. Ketchup. Not blood.” Bookers was smiling.

The pig was not impressed; she gave us a snort, turned away and started rooting in the dirt nearby. Luckily, she was oblivious to the unopened bag of chips we were carrying or she, for sure, would have eaten them all by herself without giving Granny a chance to taste them and...Oh, yeah, Granny...forgot about that...

“Okay, guys, let’s go and get this job done,” I tried to sound confident and authoritative, a real leader, but my legs were shaking.

Booker had the house key; he put it in the door knob and turned the lock. He slowly and deliberately opened the door. Sam and I were right behind him, all stacked up like a deck of cards.

The door creaked open.

“Granny?” we all said in unison, “Graan-nee?”

We heard a muffled sound; it seemed to be coming out of the bathroom. It sounded like Granny, but in a weird sort of way. I was sure that she had been attacked and tied up, mouth taped over, like in one of those home invasions that you always read about. Although, I have to admit, looking around her living room, nothing seemed particularly out of place; or at least no more than its usual chaos. The parrots, Yin and Yang however, saw us and they began squawking and flapping their wings... “Granny’s in trouble! SQUAWK! Granny’s in trouble!”

We slowly approached the bathroom; the muffled sounds were getting louder. Walking close together like a string of beads, we were bumping and stepping on each other, trying to take steps in unison, all the while missing the beat; our goofiness only surpassed by the dread of what we might find.

Bookers was the first to stick his head in and around the bathroom door; he took a peek inside and we heard him exclaim...

“Granny?!” his mouth fell open as he disappeared around the corner.

I was next to look, “Oh, Granny!”

Followed by Samuel, “Geez, Granny!”

“Get me the heck out of here!” she was yelling.

Muffled as it was, we could tell she was still very much alive. But all we could see was her backside covered in a bright green polka dot dress, red and white striped leggings, and thick black army boots; but that wasn’t the crazy part...she was bent over, her head and shoulders stuck deep within the toilet bowl. She was lodged tight against the seat and couldn’t get out. She was cursing and wiggling; madder than I’d ever seen her.

Granny was always getting into or out of trouble and this summer was clearly going to be no exception. She’s the kind of character that, if you could tell your friends about her, they’d say, “no way! swear? wow!” and then they’d shake their heads in disbelief. It really wasn’t her unconventional thinking, colorful language or offbeat clothes that made her so unique; or for that matter, her wild red hair that grew in strange little clumps and stuck out straight from all different and distinct parts of her head. It was more of an attitude, an indescribable devil-may-care-kiss-my-you-know-what, attitude that would scare the flying beans out of any cop who might have the misfortune to stop her for reckless driving or robbing a bank or something.

“Hold still, Granny dear,” Bookers was talking in his calm, ‘I’ll take care of everything’ voice. And Granny, hearing him, finally stopped wiggling and struggling. He ever so gently worked at it until he carefully lifted her head out of the toilet. Thankfully the bowl was empty, not even any water in it.

“What happened, Granny?” I asked dumbfounded.

We tried our best to muffle our laughter.

“Aw, sugar!” said Granny. “I was trying to get my ring out of the toilet, I dropped it down the bowl, and then I lost my balance and slipped right in. Luckily, I had turned the water off first and emptied the bowl or I’d be dead by now.” She looked at us suspiciously, “You thought I was dead, didn’t you? Your mother sent you here to check up on me didn’t she?”

“No, Granny. No. Honest. We were just coming for a visit. Look, we brought some barbeque chips, the kind you like.” Samuel was holding the bag up, hoping that would make our story more believable. Granny looked at him warily and snorted, “Humph”. She reached for the bag of chips and sat down on the sofa and started munching them like a little kid.

“Ahhh, don’t you want to clean up first?” I asked.

“Clean up? What for? You think I’m dirty?” Granny was getting testy again.

“Your head was in the toilet Gran!” Samuel had no patience for her.

“Tough, you’re not my mother,” Granny harrumphed again. I put my hand on Samuel’s shoulder in an attempt to say let it go. He looked up at me and shrugged.

By now, Cynthia Malina had sniffed out the barbeque chips and came waddling in to have a taste. Granny was delighted to share with her. The two of them sat on the sofa, munching and snorting away, until all the chips were gone.

Then Granny jumped up and said, “Guess what I’ve been up to?”

We glanced at each other, no one wanted to ask; but apparently it didn’t matter, we were going to find out anyway.

“Come with me,” Granny whispered mysteriously; and motioning with her finger we reluctantly followed her back to the rear of the house.

Stopping at the top of the stairs that led to the basement, she reached out and grabbed the rickety handle, slowly opening the door as a loud mournful creak resonated throughout the house. We could hear Yin and Yang squawking a warning to us in the distance. It was pitch black down there, we couldn’t see a thing; looking at each other again, we hesitatingly began to edge forward, dreading what we might find deep within the hollows beneath her home.

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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by wordranger » October 18th, 2010, 10:50 pm

LaylaF wrote:Hi.... This is my first chapter of a light-hearted, young adult adventure/fantasy. Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated!

CHAPTER ONE

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are certain days when it’s best not to get out of bed in the morning. Some days it’s better if you pull the covers up over your head, tell the world, “no way!” and go back to sleep. But, the problem is you never know if this day is one of those days until it’s too late, way too late.

And, I wouldn't stary this sentance with And since I’d spent the first sixteen years of my existence living a pretty normal, if not somewhat mundane life, it never occurred to me to consider a day in bed as the safer, saner, more preferable alternative. Wow, that's a long sentance. I'd consider chopping that down a little. At least two sentances... I have a bad habit of doing this too, and usually catch most of them by my 20th revision.However, by the time I learned that being born into the Stokes family made my odds of living what most people would call “a normal life” pretty slim, it was too late...I’d already gotten out of bed. Get rid of the quotes here. I think we get the meaning without them. One of the agents, it may have been Nathan, said things like this annoy them.
It started innocently enough, the day my mom decided to phone Granny to tell her about the Summer Science Fair and Exposition that was happening at our school. She knew that Granny would be interested, having been married for forty years to my dearly departed Pop-Pops, a somewhat famous, and even more eccentric, scientist and inventor who always liked things that had to do with the new and unusual. Another long sentance. Try reading your stuff out loud. If you cannot say it in one breath, shorten it. Your reader can get out of breath, too... and lost in such a long sentance. Anyway, it was early on a Saturday morning and we’d just finished breakfast...

“I’m worried,” Mom said, putting the phone down, “I keep calling Granny Stokes, but she doesn’t answer. It’s just not like her not to answer the phone; she usually gets it on the first ring.” She paused, a momentand then turned to me “Samantha,” Get rid of this tag and add it to the first one. Too many tags slows down your dialog. she turned to me, “would you go out to Granny’s and do a house check on her? I want to be sure she’s okay.”

“I don’t want to go. Let Samuel do it,” I quickly responded. “If Granny’s dead and lying on the ground rotting somewhere, I sure don’t want to be the one to find her.”

“Oh c’mon,” admonished my mother. Get rid of this tag, too. It's just her and her mom talking. I think it's unecessary. “I need your help on this. And besides, it’s really your turn to go visit her Samantha, but if you want, I’ll have Samuel go with you just in case.”

“Just in case? Just in case what? Are you kidding me? I don’t want to go either; the whole thing is too creepy!” Samuel threw in.

Even though Samuel was my twin, he was five minutes younger than me and a whole three inches shorter. New seantance. Drop the AND I have to admit, he was pretty much afraid of everything in the whole wide world, even his own shadow. In fact, I’d say the only thing the two of us had in common, besides our genetic markers, is "besides our genetic markers" necessary here? it messes with the pacing. was our dislike for finding dead bodies, especially if it was our Granny’s.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” my mom responded. “Listen kids, I have an idea, why don’t you both go and take some chips with you? You know, make it a party. I’ve got some of those barbeque ones that Granny likes so much. I think she’d really appreciate it.”

“If she’s alive,” Samuel mumbled under his breath.

“Just don’t let her know that you’re checking up on her,” Mom continued pretending not to hear Samuel’s remark. “In fact you can take Bookers with you. Granny always loves to see Bookers.”

Wouldn't the Mom be a little upset with her kids for talking like Granny might be dead? It's like she really isn't listening to them.
Sam Bookers lived two houses down from us; and with our two moms being best friends and all, the three of us played together since we were in diapers; we started kindergarten together, lost our first tooth together and, well, you get the picture. We were known as the three Sams, Sam cubed, or Sam to the third degree. And for obvious reasons we always called him Bookers.

Granny Stokes adored him.

In fact, everyone adored Sam Bookers.

I have to admit he was a real charmer; the kind of guy who, when he walked into a room, voices hushed and heads turned.
I have to admit, he was a real charmer. He was the kind of guy who walked into a room, and people's heads turned.--just a suggestion And no matter what was happening around us, he always managed to stay cool; which, when you think about it, was a feat in and of itself, since, at our age it’s extremely difficult, if not completely impossible to achieve maximum coolness (unless, of course, you’re someone like Campbell Sommers or one of her awesomely cool friends). Wow, your long sentances are killing me. I would suggest reading through everything and seeing where you can cut these back. Long sentaces can be your friend, but too many is overkill. Mix it up a little. Some long, some short. I am sure you probably don't even realize you are doing it. Go back and read everything... I am sure you'll be surprised.
Anyway, on this day, in the heart and the heat of a gorgeous summer morning, the three Sams, bound together by family, loyalty and friendship, found ourselves standing outside of Granny Stokes’ somewhat dilapidated ‘American craftsman style’ bungalow home.

At first glance, her house looked like one of those historic homes that they always show on the home and garden channel (not that I watch that stuff) with its ‘gabled roofs, deeply overhanging eaves and exposed rafters’, looking all architecturally cute and awesome.This reads like it was the first time she's ever seen the house. It’d be one of those homes that you’d wish you could live in, when in reality it’s kinda dark, creepy and musty smelling inside. I like this sentance. Good description. Especially if the ‘someone’ who lives there owns two huge obnoxious parrots, three excessively demonstrative cats, and a chunky, overindulged pot bellied pig named Cynthia Malina.

Although it only took us five minutes to walk over to Granny’s, we stayed outside, sitting on the curb for about half an hour staring at the house, looking for signs of life and discussing our game plan. We had our “what-if” scenarios all lined up and well rehearsed; and of course, Mom called at least three times during our strategizing to get a status report.

“Who’s going in first?” asked Bookers.

“Not me,” stated Samuel decisively. I could tell there would be no point in arguing with him on that matter.

“I have an idea,” I suggested looking over at Bookers, “Since you’re not technically family, and therefore not as emotionally invested, I think you should go in first, followed by me and then, you last, Sam, especially since you’re the youngest and all.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Samuel, “and it’s not because I’m the youngest; that has nothing to do with it. I just don’t delight on the macabre idea of finding my dear sweet granny laid out on the floor with flies circling above her head and worms coming out of her mouth.” These kids are sick in the head. Honestly, I don't like them, anthough, this may be what you are looking for.
I could tell he would be hanging far behind us and probably wouldn’t even go in at all until the coast was clear; and the ‘dear sweet granny’ routine, well I wasn’t buying that at all.

“I’m game,” said Booker enthusiastically. “I’ve always wanted to find a dead body, so for me this is as good a time as any.” I like Booker, though. For some reason, this works for him.

I could tell he was getting excited about the idea, and, ah, maybe even a little hopeful. Bookers had the kind of confidence that most of us only dreamed about. It allowed him to dress casual preppy when everyone else was dressing punk. He could always be found sporting a high-end, v-neck, pull-over sweater worn over a freshly laundered bright white tee. His pants were scruffy jeans, tight around the butt with holes in the knees, and penny loafers, no socks; and wherever he went, he walked with a swagger as if he owned the place. And then there’s his eyes, those magnificent blue-green eyes that...
You started this descrition great, and then went into a long sentance on the end and lost me. I may not have noticed this if there weren't so many long ones before this... just a suggestion to tighten that up a bit.
The phone rang. It was Mom again, “Any news?”

“No.”

“Have you even gone in yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? For Pete’s sake, Sam; the longer you wait the worse it’ll get!”

“Okay,” I assured her, “We’re going in right now. I’ll call when we know something.”
Great set of dialog.
We all took a deep breath and armed with a bag of barbeque chips, we slowly began our approach towards the front steps. We were on red alert, ready for anything. Nice. I like it

Suddenly, we heard a strange sound coming from the side of the house! Kill the exclaimation point. It really doesn't work unless it is in dialog. We all jumped; screaming and falling back into each other. We all jumped screaming, and then fell back into eachother. Not sure if this is any better, but the original reads a little weird.
Then...

“snort, snort, snort”

All heads turned, it was none other than good old Cynthia Malina, waddling along, in her pot bellied way, snorting quietly to herself, completely unaware of the panic she’d just caused. We started to laugh nervously, but our laughter quickly diminished as we took another look...red, wet, goopy gunk was all over her snout.

“Oh, no!” whispered Samuel. “It’s blood!”

We slowly approached Cynthia Malina...she was licking her lips (if pigs have lips) and snorting around more than usual.
I'd make this: We slowly approached Cynthia Malina...she was licking her lips... do pigs have lips? and snorting around more than usual. Not sure if this is gramatically right, but I like it. It's funny.

“This can’t be good,” Samuel continued.

Very slowly, we bent down, peering closely at the pig. Bookers, always in the lead, reached out and swiped his finger across the red goop covering Cynthia Malina’s snout; he sniffed it, then popped his finger in his mouth and sucked it off.

“Holy crap, Bookers!” I screamed.

“Mmmmm. Ketchup. Not blood.” Bookers was smiling. Funny!
The pig was not impressed; she gave us a snort, turned away and started rooting in the dirt nearby. Luckily, she was oblivious to the unopened bag of chips we were carrying or she, for sure, would have eaten them all by herself without giving Granny a chance to taste them and...Oh, yeah, Granny...forgot about that... Too long a sentance

“Okay, guys, let’s go and get this job done,” I tried to sound confident and authoritative, a real leader, but my legs were shaking. This doesn't really sound natural

Booker had the house key; he put it in the door knob and turned the lock. He slowly and deliberately opened the door. Sam and I were right behind him, all stacked up like a deck of cards.

The door creaked open.

“Granny?” we all said in unison, “Graan-nee?”

We heard a muffled sound; it seemed to be coming out of the bathroom. It sounded like Granny, but in a weird sort of way. I was sure that she had been attacked and tied up, mouth taped over, like in one of those home invasions that you always read about. Although, I have to admit, looking around her living room, nothing seemed particularly out of place; or at least no more than its usual chaos. The parrots, Yin and Yang however, saw us and they began squawking and flapping their wings... “Granny’s in trouble! SQUAWK! Granny’s in trouble!”

We slowly approached the bathroom; the muffled sounds were getting louder. Walking close together like a string of beads, we were bumping and stepping on each other, trying to take steps in unison, all the while missing the beat; our goofiness only surpassed by the dread of what we might find.

Bookers was the first to stick his head in and around the bathroom door; he took a peek inside and we heard him exclaim...

“Granny?!” his mouth fell open as he disappeared around the corner.

I was next to look, “Oh, Granny!”

Followed by Samuel, “Geez, Granny!”

“Get me the heck out of here!” she was yelling.

Muffled as it was, we could tell she was still very much alive. But all we could see was her backside covered in a bright green polka dot dress, red and white striped leggings, and thick black army boots; but that wasn’t the crazy part...she was bent over, her head and shoulders stuck deep within the toilet bowl. She was lodged tight against the seat and couldn’t get out. She was cursing and wiggling; madder than I’d ever seen her.

Granny was always getting into or out of trouble and this summer was clearly going to be no exception. She’s the kind of character that, if you could tell your friends about her, they’d say, “no way! swear? wow!” and then they’d shake their heads in disbelief. It really wasn’t her unconventional thinking, colorful language or offbeat clothes that made her so unique; or for that matter, her wild red hair that grew in strange little clumps and stuck out straight from all different and distinct parts of her head. It was more of an attitude, an indescribable devil-may-care-kiss-my-you-know-what, attitude that would scare the flying beans out of any cop who might have the misfortune to stop her for reckless driving or robbing a bank or something.

“Hold still, Granny dear,” Bookers was talking in his calm, ‘I’ll take care of everything’ voice. And Granny, hearing him, finally stopped wiggling and struggling. He ever so gently worked at it until he carefully lifted her head out of the toilet. Thankfully the bowl was empty, not even any water in it.

“What happened, Granny?” I asked dumbfounded.

We tried our best to muffle our laughter.

“Aw, sugar!” said Granny. “I was trying to get my ring out of the toilet, I dropped it down the bowl, and then I lost my balance and slipped right in. Luckily, I had turned the water off first and emptied the bowl or I’d be dead by now.” She looked at us suspiciously, “You thought I was dead, didn’t you? Your mother sent you here to check up on me didn’t she?”

“No, Granny. No. Honest. We were just coming for a visit. Look, we brought some barbeque chips, the kind you like.” Samuel was holding the bag up, hoping that would make our story more believable. Granny looked at him warily and snorted, “Humph”. She reached for the bag of chips and sat down on the sofa and started munching them like a little kid.

“Ahhh, don’t you want to clean up first?” I asked.

“Clean up? What for? You think I’m dirty?” Granny was getting testy again.

“Your head was in the toilet Gran!” Samuel had no patience for her.

“Tough, you’re not my mother,” Granny harrumphed again. I put my hand on Samuel’s shoulder in an attempt to say let it go. He looked up at me and shrugged.

By now, Cynthia Malina had sniffed out the barbeque chips and came waddling in to have a taste. Granny was delighted to share with her. The two of them sat on the sofa, munching and snorting away, until all the chips were gone.

Then Granny jumped up and said, “Guess what I’ve been up to?”

We glanced at each other, no one wanted to ask; but apparently it didn’t matter, we were going to find out anyway.

“Come with me,” Granny whispered mysteriously; and motioning with her finger we reluctantly followed her back to the rear of the house.

Stopping at the top of the stairs that led to the basement, she reached out and grabbed the rickety handle, slowly opening the door as a loud mournful creak resonated throughout the house. We could hear Yin and Yang squawking a warning to us in the distance. It was pitch black down there, we couldn’t see a thing; looking at each other again, we hesitatingly began to edge forward, dreading what we might find deep within the hollows beneath her home.
I think you need to do a really deep edit on this. I am not sure any of the characters are really believable with the exception of maybe Bookers. Another problem... This is the whole first chapter, and I honestly have no idea what your story is about. You say it is a fantasy/adventure, but I really don't get any adventure out of it. I think you may be able to shorten up the beginning and get to the chase right outside Granny's house, and try to speed things up a bit. I think the adventure is about to begin when Granny shows what she's been up to. Don’t make the reader wait to long to see what is great and fun about your story. They may get bored and put your novel down and buy the one beside it.

Also, read your dialog out loud and ask yourself if it sounds right. The only character that you seem to have a good grasp on is Bookers. Build off of that. Decide who the rest of them are and help them evolve. I think you have the BASIS of something here, but you need to spend some time "loving" it a bit so it reads as fun and interesting as you see it in your mind. Happy editing!
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My Novelette LAST WINTER RED will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in December, 2012

Take a Step into My World and Learn From My Mistakes http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

LaylaF
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Joined: August 17th, 2010, 12:11 pm
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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by LaylaF » October 19th, 2010, 1:39 pm

Thanks for your comments, wordranger. They were very helpful. I do like to write with long complicated sentences followed by short ones. I guess it's because it's the way I like to read. It's not that I didn't edit it, it was intentional. But it may not be appropriate for the age group. So, that's good to know that it bothered you.

Also, it was helpful to hear that you didn't know what the book was about yet, and that was one of my biggest concerns. More happens, of course, in the second chapter and I've toyed with the idea of combining the two into one chapter.

And yes, the kids are snarky, but they're supposed to be, but I don't want that to keep someone from reading more, so I'll have to give that some thought.

It's funny that you liked Sam Bookers...but, not really surprising, because EVERYBODY likes Sam Bookers! LOL

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by notw » October 19th, 2010, 5:46 pm

I agree with wordranger that it is hard to get an idea of what the conflict may be here. I did however enjoy reading your opening paragraph and the way you ended the first this chapter. One thing I might consider is starting off with them outside Granny’s house that way you are getting straight to the action. Anyway that is just my own personal opinion. :) Good luck!

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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by LaylaF » October 19th, 2010, 5:56 pm

Thanks Notw. It's interesting that you suggested that I start w/the action outside of Granny's house. When I first developed this story in my mind...that's how it started...but when I went to write it...well, you can see what happened.

Thanks so much for your thoughts! I really appreciate hearing them.

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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by Emily J » October 21st, 2010, 7:48 pm

LaylaF wrote:Hi.... This is my first chapter of a light-hearted, young adult adventure/fantasy. Any and all comments would be greatly appreciated!

CHAPTER ONE

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are certain days when it’s best not to get out of bed in the morning. Some days it’s better if you pull the covers up over your head, tell the world, “no way!” and go back to sleep. But, the problem is you never know if this day is one of those days until it’s too late, way too late. i like this opening, it made me smile and established your voice right off the bat, some people might say start with more specifcity, but I liked this opening paragraph

And, since I’d spent the first sixteen years of my existence living a pretty normal, if not somewhat mundane life, it never occurred to me to consider a day in bed as the safer, saner, more preferable alternative. However, by the time I learned that being born into the Stokes family made my odds of living what most people would call “a normal life” pretty slim, it was too late...I’d already gotten out of bed. nothing wrong with long ass sentences, but putting two back to back is a bit trying on your reader, considering breaking down one of the 2 sentences here

It started innocently enough, the day my mom decided to phone Granny to tell her about the Summer Science Fair and Exposition that was happening at our school. She knew that Granny would be interested, having been married for forty years to my dearly departed Pop-Pops, a somewhat famous, and even more eccentric, scientist and inventor who always liked things that had to do with the new and unusual. again, too many long sentences, this one feels like a run on, break into 2 sentences Anyway, it was early on a Saturday morning and we’d just finished breakfast... ellipses are a pet peeve of mine, and these aren't needed, why not just jump in, *suggestion* "It was early on a Saturday morning and we'd just finished breakfast when Mom said "I'm worried," and put the phone down."

“I’m worried,” Mom said, putting the phone down, “I keep calling Granny Stokes, but she doesn’t answer. It’s just not like her not to answer the phone; she usually gets it on the first ring.” She paused a moment. “Samantha,” she turned to me, “would you go out to Granny’s and do a house check on her? I want to be sure she’s okay.”

“I don’t want to go. Let Samuel do it,” I quickly responded. be careful of non-said dialogue tags, this one stuck out to me “If Granny’s dead and lying on the ground rotting somewhere, I sure don’t want to be the one to find her.”

“Oh c’mon,” admonished my mother. “I need your help on this. And besides, it’s really your turn to go visit her Samantha, but if you want, I’ll have Samuel go with you just in case.” this dialogue feels a bit stilted as though the mom is explaining more than would be required when talking to her daughter, shorten maybe?

“Just in case? Just in case what? Are you kidding me? I don’t want to go either; the whole thing is too creepy!” Samuel threw in.

Even though Samuel was my twin, he was five minutes younger than me and a whole three inches shorter and I have to admit, he was pretty much afraid of everything in the whole wide world, even his own shadow. In fact, I’d say the only thing the two of us had in common, besides our genetic markers, was our dislike for finding dead bodies, especially if it was our Granny’s. again, two long sentences back to back, though I do like the humor coming across here

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” hmm, while there's nothing wrong with Pete's sake it strikes me as a bit generic for what is clearly an unusual family, i think you could have fun here with a strange and outlandish interjection, just a thought tho! my mom responded. <-- and again, i think you may have a few too many non-said dialogue tags “Listen kids, I have an idea, why don’t you both go and take some chips with you? You know, make it a party. I’ve got some of those barbeque ones that Granny likes so much. I think she’d really appreciate it.”

“If she’s alive,” Samuel mumbled non-said tag under his breath.

“Just don’t let her know that you’re checking up on her,” Mom continued non-said tag pretending not to hear Samuel’s remark. “In fact you can take Bookers with you. Granny always loves to see Bookers.”

Sam Bookers lived two houses down from us; and with our two moms being best friends and all, the three of us played together since we were in diapers; we started kindergarten together, lost our first tooth together and, well, you get the picture. <-- two semi-colons in one sentence? i think this is a sure sign of stringing too many clauses together, again, long sentences are ok but only in moderation We were known as the three Sams, Sam cubed, or Sam to the third degree. And for obvious reasons we always called him Bookers.

Granny Stokes adored him.

In fact, everyone adored Sam Bookers. see! these short declarative sentences are so refreshing, like a glass of lemonade!

I have to admit he was a real charmer; <-- you could use a period here instead, the kind of guy who, when he walked into a room, voices hushed and heads turned. And no matter what was happening around us, he always managed to stay cool; you are starting to abuse the semi-colon which, when you think about it, was a feat in and of itself, since, at our age it’s extremely difficult, if not completely impossible to achieve maximum coolness (unless, of course, you’re someone like Campbell Sommers or one of her awesomely cool friends).

Anyway, on this day, in the heart and the heat of a gorgeous summer morning, the three Sams, bound together by family, loyalty and friendship, <-- that was at least two too many embedded clauses found ourselves standing outside of Granny Stokes’ somewhat dilapidated ‘American craftsman style’ bungalow home.

At first glance, her house looked like one of those historic homes that they always show on the home and garden channel (not that I watch that stuff) with its ‘gabled roofs, deeply overhanging eaves and exposed rafters’, <-- why is that in single quotation marks? and why is the comma outside the quotation mark? looking all architecturally cute and awesome. It’d be one of those homes that you’d wish you could live in, when in reality it’s kinda dark, creepy serial comma and musty smelling inside. Especially if the ‘someone’ who lives there owns two huge obnoxious parrots, three excessively demonstrative cats, <-- heehee and a chunky, overindulged pot-bellied, and i think you should drop at least 1 of these adjectives pot bellied pig named Cynthia Malina.

Although it only took us five minutes to walk over to Granny’s, we stayed outside, sitting on the curb for about half an hour staring at the house, looking for signs of life and discussing our game plan. We had our “what-if” scenarios all lined up and well rehearsed; and of course, Mom called at least three times during our strategizing to get a status report.

“Who’s going in first?” asked Bookers.

“Not me,” stated non-said dialogue tag Samuel decisively. I could tell there would be no point in arguing with him on that matter.

“I have an idea,” I suggested non-said dialogue tag looking over at Bookers, “Since you’re not technically family, and therefore not as emotionally invested, I think you should go in first, followed by me and then, you last, Sam, especially since you’re the youngest and all.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Samuel, “and it’s not because I’m the youngest; that has nothing to do with it. I just don’t delight on the macabre idea of finding my dear sweet granny laid out on the floor with flies circling above her head and worms coming out of her mouth.”

I could tell he would be hanging far behind us and probably wouldn’t even go in at all until the coast was clear; and the ‘dear sweet granny’ routine, well I wasn’t buying that at all.

“I’m game,” said Booker enthusiastically. “I’ve always wanted to find a dead body, so for me this is as good a time as any.”

I could tell he was getting excited about the idea, and, ah, maybe even a little hopeful. Bookers had the kind of confidence that most of us only dreamed about. It allowed him to dress casual preppy when everyone else was dressing punk. He could always be found sporting a high-end, v-neck, pull-over sweater worn over a freshly laundered bright white tee. His pants were scruffy jeans, tight around the butt with holes in the knees, and penny loafers, no socks; and wherever he went, he walked with a swagger as if he owned the place. And then there’s his eyes, those magnificent blue-green eyes that... ellipses! my mortal enemy, tho actually i think it works here

The phone rang. It was Mom again, “Any news?”

“No.”

“Have you even gone in yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? For Pete’s sake, again with the sake of pete, still think we could throw in something more unusual Sam; the longer you wait the worse it’ll get!”

“Okay,” I assured tag her, “We’re going in right now. I’ll call when we know something.”

We all took a deep breath and armed with a bag of barbeque chips, we slowly began our approach towards the front steps. We were on red alert, ready for anything.

Suddenly, we heard a strange sound coming from the side of the house! We all jumped; <-- this semi-colon should be a comma screaming and falling back into each other.

Then... ellipses!!! *shakes fist* and I don't think these are needed

“snort, snort, snort”

All heads turned, it was none other than good old Cynthia Malina, waddling along, in her pot bellied pot-bellied way, snorting quietly to herself, completely unaware of the panic she’d just caused. We started to laugh nervously, but our laughter quickly diminished as we took another look...red, wet, goopy gunk was all over her snout.

“Oh, no!” whispered Samuel. “It’s blood!”

We slowly approached Cynthia Malina...she was licking her lips (if pigs have lips) hmm, i have to think if you are looking at a pig you know if they have lips or not, maybe instead "what passes for lips on a pig" just a thought and snorting around more than usual.

“This can’t be good,” Samuel continued.

Very slowly, we bent down, peering closely at the pig. dont think you need very or closely, and i think peering implies a closeness Bookers, always in the lead, reached out and swiped his finger across the red goop covering Cynthia Malina’s snout; he sniffed it, then popped his finger in his mouth and sucked it off.

“Holy crap, Bookers!” I screamed.

“Mmmmm. Ketchup. Not blood.” Bookers was smiling.

The pig was not impressed; i do feel you may be over-using the semi-colon, i think you could vary your sentence structure more she gave us a snort, turned away and started rooting in the dirt nearby. Luckily, she was oblivious to the unopened bag of chips we were carrying or she, for sure, would have eaten them all by herself without giving Granny a chance to taste them and...Oh, yeah, Granny...forgot about that...

“Okay, guys, let’s go and get this job done,” I tried to sound confident and authoritative, a real leader, but my legs were shaking.

Booker had the house key; he put it in the door knob and turned the lock. He slowly and deliberately opened the door. Sam and I were right behind him, all stacked up like a deck of cards.

The door creaked open.

“Granny?” we all said in unison, “Graan-nee?”

We heard a muffled sound; it seemed to be coming out of the bathroom. It sounded like Granny, but in a weird sort of way. I was sure that she had been attacked and tied up, mouth taped over, like in one of those home invasions that you always read about. Although, I have to admit, looking around her living room, nothing seemed particularly out of place; or at least no more than its usual chaos. The parrots, Yin and Yang however, saw us and they began squawking and flapping their wings... “Granny’s in trouble! SQUAWK! Granny’s in trouble!”

We slowly approached the bathroom; the muffled sounds were getting louder. Walking close together you already used a simile to describe the kids pressed up against each other and i liked your other one more like a string of beads, we were bumping and stepping on each other, trying to take steps in unison, all the while missing the beat; our goofiness only surpassed by the dread of what we might find. this struck me as weird, goofiness surpassed by dread

Bookers was the first to stick his head in and around the bathroom door; he took a peek inside and we heard him exclaim... ellipses! ack, again, dont think you need them here either

“Granny?!” his mouth fell open as he disappeared around the corner.

I was next to look, “Oh, Granny!”

Followed by Samuel, “Geez, Granny!”

“Get me the heck out of here!” she was yelling.

Muffled as it was, we could tell she was still very much alive. But all we could see was her backside covered in a bright green polka dot dress, red and white striped leggings, and thick black army boots; be aware you are using a large number of semi-colons but that wasn’t the crazy part...she was bent over, her head and shoulders stuck deep within the toilet bowl. She was lodged tight against the seat and couldn’t get out. She was cursing and wiggling; madder than I’d ever seen her.

Granny was always getting into or out of trouble and this summer was clearly going to be no exception. She’s the kind of character that, if you could tell your friends about her, they’d say, “no way! swear? wow!” and then they’d shake their heads in disbelief. It really wasn’t her unconventional thinking, colorful language serial comma or offbeat clothes that made her so <-- drop "so" unique; or for that matter, her wild red hair that grew in strange little clumps and stuck out straight from all different and distinct parts of her head. It was more of an attitude, an indescribable devil-may-care-kiss-my-you-know-what, attitude that would scare the flying beans out of any cop who might have the misfortune to stop her for reckless driving or robbing a bank or something.

“Hold still, Granny dear,” Bookers was talking in his calm, ‘I’ll take care of everything’ voice. And Granny, hearing him, finally stopped wiggling and struggling. He ever so gently worked at it until he carefully lifted her head out of the toilet. Thankfully the bowl was empty, not even any water in it.

“What happened, Granny?” I asked dumbfounded.

We tried our best to muffle our laughter.

“Aw, sugar!” said Granny. “I was trying to get my ring out of the toilet, I dropped it down the bowl, and then I lost my balance and slipped right in. Luckily, I had turned the water off first and emptied the bowl or I’d be dead by now.” She looked at us suspiciously, “You thought I was dead, didn’t you? Your mother sent you here to check up on me didn’t she?”

“No, Granny. No. Honest. We were just coming for a visit. Look, we brought some barbeque chips, the kind you like.” Samuel was holding the bag up, hoping that would make our story more believable. Granny looked at him warily and snorted, “Humph”. She reached for the bag of chips and sat down on the sofa and started munching them like a little kid.

“Ahhh, don’t you want to clean up first?” I asked.

“Clean up? What for? You think I’m dirty?” Granny was getting testy again.

“Your head was in the toilet Gran!” Samuel had no patience for her.

“Tough, you’re not my mother,” Granny harrumphed again. I put my hand on Samuel’s shoulder in an attempt to say let it go. He looked up at me and shrugged.

By now, Cynthia Malina had sniffed out the barbeque chips and came waddling in to have a taste. Granny was delighted to share with her. The two of them sat on the sofa, munching and snorting away, until all the chips were gone.

Then Granny jumped up and said, “Guess what I’ve been up to?”

We glanced at each other, no one wanted to ask; but apparently it didn’t matter, we were going to find out anyway.

“Come with me,” Granny whispered mysteriously; and motioning with her finger we reluctantly followed her back to the rear of the house.

Stopping at the top of the stairs that led to the basement, she reached out and grabbed the rickety handle, slowly opening the door as a loud mournful creak resonated throughout the house. We could hear Yin and Yang squawking a warning to us in the distance. It was pitch black down there, we couldn’t see a thing; looking at each other again, we hesitatingly began to edge forward, dreading what we might find deep within the hollows beneath her home.
So first of all, I really liked your voice. It was consistent and humorous. I do think you can improve this by maybe just switching up your sentence structure a little bit more maybe having a few less semi-colons and a few more shorter sentences.

In terms of content, the one thing that struck me was that these characters are 16? They read a bit young to me, more like 13. This passage felt more MG than YA to me but maybe just because YA these days is pretty edgy.

But it did make me laugh! I think you have a great voice.

LaylaF
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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by LaylaF » October 21st, 2010, 11:27 pm

Emily J.

Thanks so much for your comments. I was LOL reading them...your comments have a great voice! (notice my ellipses again? LOL)

No, seriously, I had a great time reading your reviews. Great input. They say the first step to recovery is admiting your faults. ;-)

And, I'm pleased that you liked my voice. It's something I was working hard on achieving in this particular work.

I had fun writing it, although I wasn't sure if the humor would be appreciated.

I will take your comments to heart. Thanks again.
L
Last edited by LaylaF on January 6th, 2011, 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by krschulteis » October 29th, 2010, 9:23 pm

I'm sorry I don't have much by way of constructive critisicism; I was laughing too hard to concentrate. Maybe that's a good thing except I don't think I'm your intended audience. It's been a long time since I was sixteen. Yet, the writing flowed well and others have pointed out items you might find useful. About the only thing that threw me is the casual indifference in the grandchildren to potentially finding their grandmother's dead body. I have to assume that farther into the book, the familial relationships are explained.

However, I appreciate the unintended warning. I am definitely going to make sure the toilet seat cover is down every time I take my ring off.

Good luck.
A fute without holes, is not a flute. A donut with a hole is a Danish.

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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by Aurlumen » November 5th, 2010, 5:55 pm

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are certain days when it’s best not to get out of bed in the morning. Some days it’s better if you pull the covers up over your head, tell the world, “no way!” No* and go back to sleep. But, the problem is you never know if this a* day day is one of those days until it’s too late, way too late.

You change tenses here. Not sure if that is a good idea. If the first paragraph is something the MC has written down in a journal or something (s)he's thinking then I can sort of see it working, if you specify it.

And,Don't need a comma here since I’d spent the first sixteen years of my existence living a pretty normal, if not somewhat mundane life, it never occurred to me to consider a day in bed as the safer, saner, more preferable alternative. However, by the time I learned that being born into the Stokes family made my odds of living what most people would call “a normal life” pretty slim, it was too late...I’d already gotten out of bed.

It started innocently enough, the day my mom decided to phone Granny to tell her about the Summer Science Fair and Exposition that was happening at our school. She knew that Granny would be interested, having been married for forty years to my dearly departed Pop-Pops,I would put like a dash here a somewhat famous, and even more eccentric, scientist and inventor who always liked things that had to do with the new and unusual. Anyway, it was early on a Saturday morning and we’d just finished breakfast...Use of the elipsis here makes the reader thing something is about to happen but there isn't.

“I’m worried,” Mom said, putting the phone down, “I keep calling Granny Stokes, but she doesn’t answer. It’s just not like her not to answer the phone; she usually gets it on the first ring.” She paused a moment. “Samantha,” she turned to me, “would you go out to Granny’s and do a house check on her? I want to be sure she’s okay.”

“I don’t want to go. Let Samuel do it,” I quickly responded. “If Granny’s dead and lying on the ground rotting somewhere, I sure don’t want to be the one to find her.”

“Oh c’mon,” admonished my mother. “I need your help on this. And besides, it’s really your turn to go visit her Samantha, but if you want, I’ll have Samuel go with you just in case.”

“Just in case? Just in case what? Are you kidding me? I don’t want to go either; the whole thing is too creepy!” Samuel threw in.

Even though Samuel was my twin, he was five minutes younger than me How old are they? the audience wants to know if they're reading about kids or teenagers and a whole three inches shorter and I have to admit, he was pretty much afraid of everything in the whole wide world, even his own shadow. In fact, I’d say the only thing the two of us had in common, besides our genetic markers is this really the phrase you want to use? genetic markers?, was our dislike for finding dead bodies, especially if it was our Granny’s.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” my mom responded. “Listen kids, I have an idea, why don’t you both go and take some chips with you? You know, make it a party. I’ve got some of those barbeque ones that Granny likes so much. I think she’d really appreciate it.”

“If she’s alive,” Samuel mumbled under his breath.

“Just don’t let her know that you’re checking up on her,” "Mom continued..." is a new sentence, therefore you should put a period after 'her' in the previous one. Mom continued pretending not to hear Samuel’s remark. “In fact you can take Bookers with you. Granny always loves to see Bookers.”

Sam Bookers lived two houses down from us; and with our two moms being best friends and all, the three of us played together since we were in diapers; we started kindergarten together, lost our first tooth together and, well, you get the picture. We were known as the three Sams, Sam cubed, or Sam to the third degree. And for obvious reasons we always called him Bookers.

Granny Stokes adored him.

In fact, everyone adored Sam Bookers.

I havetense change to admit he was a real charmer; the kind of guy who, when he walked into a room, voices hushed and heads turned. And no matter what was happening around us, he always managed to stay cool;misuse of semi-colon. you only use these when the next clause is a complete sentence. what you could do here instead is get rid of 'which' and just start a new sentence which, when you think about it, was a feat in and of itself, since, at our age another missed opportunity to mention their age it’s extremely difficult, if not completely impossible to achieve maximum coolness (unless, of course, you’re careful. don't want to use contractions in places like this. it could read as 'you are' when it should be 'you were' because you want to stay in the past tense someone like Campbell Sommers or one of her awesomely cool friends).

Anyway, on this day, in the heart and the heat of a gorgeous summer morning, the three Sams, bound together by family, loyalty and friendship, found ourselves standing outside of Granny Stokes’ somewhat dilapidated ‘American craftsman style’ bungalow home.

At first glance, her house looked like one of those historic homes that they always show showed* tense change on the home and garden channel (not that I watch tense change that stuff) with its ‘gabled roofs, deeply overhanging eaves and exposed rafters’, looking all architecturally cute and awesome. It’d be one of those homes that you’d wishyou wished you could live in, when in reality it’s another one. it was* kinda dark, creepy and musty smelling inside. Especially if the ‘someone’ who lives lived* you really have to be careful of the tense changes. even if readers don't catch them they might sometimes notice that something feels off when they're reading here owns two huge obnoxious parrots, three excessively demonstrative cats how is a cat demonstrative?, and a chunky, overindulged pot bellied pig named Cynthia Malina.

Although it only took us five minutes to walk over to Granny’s, we stayed outside, sitting on the curb for about half an hour staring at the house, looking for signs of life and discussing our game plan. We had our “what-if” scenarios all lined up and well rehearsed; and of course, Mom called at least three times during our strategizing to get a status report.

“Who’s going in first?” asked Bookers.

“Not me,” stated Samuel decisively. I could tell there would be no point in arguing with him on that matter.

“I have an idea,” I suggested comma after suggested looking over at Bookers, “Since you’re not technically family, and therefore not as emotionally invested still dont know how old they are unless I missed it, but they sound young. honestly I'm picturing like.. 12 year olds.. would she really use the phrase 'emotionally invested'?, I think you should go in first, followed by me and then, you last, Sam,--too many commas here."I think you should go first, followed by me and you last Sam"-- especially since you’re the youngest and all. I know he's technically younger but I don't feel like 5 minutes is enough for her to use age rank against him, seeing as how they're twins.

“Sounds good to me,” said Samuel, “and it’s not because I’m the youngest; that has nothing to do with it. I just don’t delight on the macabre wording here, too. age appropriate? idea of finding my dear sweet granny laid out on the floor with flies circling above her head and worms coming out of her mouth.”

I could tell he would be hanging--is 'lagging' a better word?-- far behind us and probably wouldn’t even go in at all until the coast was clear; and the ‘dear sweet granny’ routine, well I wasn’t buying that at all.

“I’m game,” said Booker enthusiastically. “I’ve always wanted to find a dead body, so for me this is as good a time as any.”

I could tell he was getting excited about the idea, and, ah, maybe even a little hopeful. Bookers had the kind of confidence that most of us only dreamed about. It allowed him to dress casual preppy casual-preppy when everyone else was dressing punk. He could always be found sporting a high-end, v-neck, pull-over sweater worn over a freshly laundered bright white tee. His pants were scruffy jeans, tight around the butt with holes in the knees, and penny loafers, no socks; misuse of semi-colon again. watch out for this. it's not interchangeable with a comma and wherever he went, he walked with a swagger as if he owned the place. And then there’s there were* his eyes his eyes, those magnificent blue-green eyes that...I think a dash would fit better here since her train of thought was cut off. I also feel the description of his clothes was a bit over-kill. does she need to be that specific? they get the idea.

The phone rang. It was Mom again, “Any news?”

“No.”

“Have you even gone in yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? For Pete’s sake, Sam; the longer you wait the worse it’ll get!”

“Okay,” I assured her, “We’re going in right now. I’ll call when we know something.”

We all took a deep breath and armed with a bag of barbeque chips, we slowly began our approach towards the front steps. We were on red alert, ready for anything.

Suddenly, we heard a strange sound coming from the side of the house! --no exclamation point--We all jumped; screaming and falling back into each other.

Then...

“snort, snort, snort” Wouldn't put quotation marks here if it's an animal making this noise.

All heads turned, it was none other than good old Cynthia Malina, waddling along, in her pot bellied way, snorting quietly to herself, completely unaware of the panic she’d just caused. We started to laugh nervously, but our laughter quickly diminished as we took another look...red, wet, goopy gunk was all over her snout.

“Oh, no!” whispered Samuel. “It’s blood!”

We slowly approached Cynthia Malina...she was licking her lips (if pigs have tense change lips) and snorting around more than usual.

“This can’t be good,” Samuel continued.

Very slowly, we bent down, peering closely at the pig. Bookers, always in the lead, reached out and swiped his finger across the red goop covering Cynthia Malina’s snout; he sniffed it, then popped his finger in his mouth and sucked it off.

“Holy crap, Bookers!” I screamed.

“Mmmmm. Ketchup. Not blood.” Bookers was smiling.

The pig was not impressed; she gave us a snort, turned away and started rooting in the dirt nearby. Luckily, she was oblivious to the unopened bag of chips we were carrying or she, for sure, would have eaten them all by herself without giving Granny a chance to taste them and...Oh, yeah, Granny...forgot about that...

“Okay, guys, let’s go and get this job done,” I tried to sound confident and authoritative, a real leader, but my legs were shaking.

Booker had the house key; he put it in the door knob and turned the lock. He slowly and deliberately opened the door. Sam and I were right behind him, all stacked up like a deck of cards.

The door creaked open.

“Granny?” we all said in unison, “Graan-nee?”

We heard a muffled sound; see here it's used correctly. the next clause is a complete sentence. it seemed to be coming out of the bathroom. It sounded like Granny, but in a weird sort of way. I was sure that she had been attacked and tied up, mouth taped over, like in one of those home invasions that you always read about. Although, I have tense change to admit, looking around her living room, nothing seemed particularly out of place; or at least no more than its usual chaos. The parrots, Yin and Yang however, saw us and they began squawking and flapping their wings... “Granny’s in trouble! SQUAWK! Granny’s in trouble!”

We slowly approached the bathroom; the muffled sounds were getting louder. Walking close together like a string of beads, we were bumping and stepping on each other, trying to take steps in unison, all the while missing the beat; our goofiness only surpassed by the dread of what we might find.

Bookers was the first to stick his head in and around the bathroom door; he took a peek inside and we heard him exclaim...exclaim in surprise sound better? or say he shouted out in surprise. the elipses not necessary.

“Granny?!” his mouth fell open as he disappeared around the corner.

I was next to look, “Oh, Granny!”

Followed by Samuel, “Geez, Granny!”

“Get me the heck out of here!” she was yelling.

Muffled as it was, we could tell she was still very much alive. But all we could see was her backside covered in a bright green polka dot dress, red and white striped leggings, and thick black army boots; but that wasn’t the crazy part...she drop elipsis start she as a new sentence. was bent over, her head and shoulders stuck deep within the toilet bowl I don't see how this is possible or even realistic.. She was lodged tight against the seat and couldn’t get out. She was cursing and wiggling; madder angrier? than I’d ever seen her.

Granny was always getting into or out of trouble and this summer was clearly going to be no exception. She’s the kind of character that, if you could tell if you told* your friends about her, they’d say, “no way! swear? wow!” "No way! Swear? Wow!" Capitalize and then they’d shake their heads in disbelief. It really wasn’t her unconventional thinking, colorful language or offbeat clothes that made her so unique; or for that matter misuse of semi-colon., her wild red hair that grew in strange little clumps and stuck out straight from all different and distinct parts of her head. It was more of an attitude, an indescribable devil-may-care-kiss-my-you-know-what, 'devil-may-care, kiss-my...." attitude that would scare the flying beans out of any cop who might have the misfortune to stop her for reckless driving or robbing a bank or something.

“Hold still, Granny dear,” Bookers was talking in his calm, ‘I’ll take care of everything’ voice. And Granny, hearing him, finally stopped wiggling and struggling. He ever so gently worked at it until he carefully lifted her head out of the toilet. Thankfully the bowl was empty, not even any water in it.

“What happened, Granny?” I asked dumbfounded.

We tried our best to muffle our laughter.

“Aw, sugar!” said Granny. “I was trying to get my ring out of the toilet, I dropped it down the bowl, and then I lost my balance and slipped right in. Luckily, I had turned the water off first and emptied the bowl or I’d be dead by now.” She looked at us suspiciously, “You thought I was dead, didn’t you? Your mother sent you here to check up on me didn’t she?”

“No, Granny. No. Honest. We were just coming for a visit. Look, we brought some barbeque chips, the kind you like.” Samuel was holding the bag up, hoping that would make our story more believable. Granny looked at him warily and snorted, “Humph”. She reached for the bag of chips and sat down on the sofa and started munching them like a little kid.

“Ahhh, don’t you want to clean up first?” I asked.

“Clean up? What for? You think I’m dirty?” Granny was getting testy again.

“Your head was in the toilet Gran!--comma after toilet--” Samuel had no patience for her.

“Tough, you’re not my mother,” Granny harrumphed again. I put my hand on Samuel’s shoulder in an attempt to say let it go. He looked up at me and shrugged.

By now, Cynthia Malina had sniffed out the barbeque chips--she could smell them from outside the house?-- and came waddling in to have a taste. Granny was delighted to share with her. The two of them sat on the sofa, munching and snorting away, until all the chips were gone.

Then Granny jumped up and said, “Guess what I’ve been up to?”

We glanced at each other, no one wanted to ask; but apparently it didn’t matter, we were going to find out anyway.

“Come with me,” Granny whispered mysteriously; and motioning with her finger we reluctantly followed her back to the rear of the house.

Stopping at the top of the stairs that led to the basement, she reached out and grabbed the rickety handle, slowly opening the door as a loud mournful--comma after loud-- creak resonated throughout the house. We could hear Yin and Yang squawking a warning to us in the distance. It was pitch black down there, we couldn’t see a thing; looking at each other again, we hesitatingly--hesitantly-- began to edge forward, dreading what we might find deep within the hollows beneath her home.

~~~~~~
Overall, I see the humor the kids have toward their grandmother... But despite that I feel like the whole thing takes too long to get to the point. Nothing really much happens throughout besides them THINKING over and over how to approach the grandmother's house, etc. And then when we finally get there we're expecting something spooky perhaps or SOMETHING and all it is is her head somehow stuck in a toilet. I would also suggest to speed things up as well or make something exciting happen or something unexpected that would make the audience not mind the wait for the story to start. Also how the other reviewer mentioned that you still don't get an idea what the story is about, you could make the chapter longer and have more stuff happen, more info released or something like that. Anyway good luck!

LaylaF
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Re: Samantha Stokes and The Fantastical Journey

Post by LaylaF » November 7th, 2010, 3:12 pm

Thanks to everyone who commented. I really appreciated getting a fresh perspective on this. You've all given me alot to work with and I'm now in the process of making revisions. thanks again, :)

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