Monday, July 22, 2013

1st 5 Pages July Workshop - Sadd Rev 2

Name: Donna L Sadd
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure/Fantasy
Title: OCEAN'S EDGE- The Mystical Underwater Adventures of Katie Stone

"Finny! Flop Man!" Katie Stone called out to the sea. She splashed water on her tanning arms and pouted. It was only a matter of time before those pesky freckles, everybody else thought were cute, reared their ugly heads across the bridge of her nose.

With each outgoing wave, she stood still and let her feet sink further into the wet, foamy sand at the shoreline of her home, East Ashley Avenue, Folly Beach, South Carolina. Wow! Would the rest of the summer be as fab as this beautiful morning?" Content to see her best friend standing waist deep in the surf, she smiled remembering all the summer days they shared growing up. "Woot, woot, the seventh grade is history and we have all summer in front of us, Paulie! The kids should be here any sec, now," said Katie.

Paulie's midsection lifted, then her back nudged forward, as cool waves of the Atlantic Ocean came and went. "It's totally roasting out. It'll sure be 'cool' taking a ride on your dolphins...get it- cool, wet?" joked Paulie who let out a wry chuckle, squinting at Katie back on the shore. Look how nice the sun reflects off her shiny, short red hair. "Any day now guys."

Katie let Paulie's usual lame joke go in one ear and out the other, as she trailed her toe in the sand along the shoreline. "Have you ever wondered about these bubbles left along the ocean's edge when the waves break on the shore and then leave? Can air go under the sea? Could creatures breathe under the surface?"

"You're weird; they're just stupid bubbles. Creatures breathing under the surface, MEH. Fish do it every day," replied Paulie.

"No, I meant people, like from another worl..."

"Hey, here they come!" Paulie interrupted.

Signaled by the glistening silhouettes of two bottlenose dolphins whose beak-like snouts jutted in the air and beckoned, the girls quickly dove and swam out to meet them. Quick to duck behind Finny, as Flopman performed his signature spin and a flop move where, with a splash of his tail, he still managed to swamp the girls with a torrent of sea water. They laughed and choked and choked and laughed until they got their bearings again.

"I call Finny!" Paulie shouted as she grabbed Finny's smooth rubber-like dorsal fin with both hands and hung on and as the dolphin aimed towards the horizon. KAK, Paulie spit the salty sea from her mouth as she adjusted her grip to keep her head above water on the large, grey dolphin. "I swear this girl could pull a ship; she's so strong."

Giggles erupted when salty sprays of water rhythmically hit Katie's face as the dolphins sailed through the shimmering waves. She scanned the waters for a resident friend and beamed a bright smile when the familiar round shadow approached.

Hi, Caretta!" said Katie as she greeted the large Loggerhead turtle. "Flipper still flipping okay, Baby?" Caretta popped her head up and nodded, displaying a born-with sweet smile. Katie took the three-foot round turtle's flipper in her hand and examined it. "Just checking, though you'd never know that you were ever injured as a baby at all."

Finny and Flopman slowed their paced to accommodate the slower Caretta, as the girls chatted in tow.

"Do you miss your dad yet?" Katie asked as her hand smoothed across Finny's slick back.

"Are you kidding?" Paulie frowned and swatted at a wave. "Why would I miss him; he's never around anyway."

"Well, he's still your dad−"

"Let him stay at New York headquarters; Mom's a pushover when he's not around." Paulie's frown deepened. "Though it does suck not getting to go somewhere cool this summer. I had my heart set on Nepal this time around because Dad's UNICEF mission was to work to empower girls. Anyway, you've got me all summer, mi mejor amiga."

"Drop us off at the beach now, guys," said Katie. Finny and Flopman instantly pointed towards shore. "Let's pick up where we left off with the shell collecting; I'm tired of Mrs. Ziffleman winning. What do you say we bring home the "Folly Beach Sea Shell Collector of the Year" trophy this summer?"

"I say, let's hope our summer will have more excitement in it than just beating Old Lady Ziffleman. I want to have an adventure! Can't we just have one cool summer?" Paulie whined as she kicked at the water walking back up to shore.

"I don't think there's too much adventure to find, but we could still have fun," said Katie as she bent down in the water's wake, grabbed a handful of sand, and inspected it for shells. "We can go to the library and do some follow-up research on the Atlantis myth that we studied."

Paulie rolled her eyes and flopped in the sand, "Oh, come on Katie. We just got out of school and you want to stick your head in books again? You're not hiding out in books this summer, Girlfriend!"

Katie winced. She can read me like a book, but I'm, I'm just not the adventurous type. Katie turned her back, knelt in the sand and made like she had found an interesting shell to stop the conversation.

Rabat, Morocco- Africa

Standing at the bow of one of his father's small sardine boats, off the coast of Gozo, a small fishing village, Adisa worked to pull his net from the magnificent clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean. "It's snagged," he mumbled in Arabic, then kicked off his sandals, looked at his watch, and dove into the sea.

Mindful of barracudas, Adisa worked to free the net from a small formation of rough fossil coral, as tiny seahorses danced by him. Captivated by a meandering octopus, his eyes followed it to discover something glimmering on the white sandy bed. Feeling a sudden sharp stabbing pain in his chest, he scooped up the object and net and rushed to the surface.

He popped his head out of the water with a huge gush of breath, and immediately looked at his watch. "New record! I held my breath down there for three minutes this time!" he exclaimed as he climbed back on the boat and collapsed on deck.

He held out the rounded chunk of red rock, and as he examined it, the rock warmed in his hand. This rock is special.

Bolivia, South America

As Katie and Paulie searched for shells, and Adisa sat mesmerized by his peculiar red rock, a girl in Bolivia dug for relics for her father's tourist business.

Pilar unearthed a peculiar smooth and shiny black rock from the ground near the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku. "What a beautiful, shiny rock! Mama told me this type of crystal offers protection and is powerful in contacting spirits," she said in Spanish.

"I'm keeping it! Papa would laugh at me if I brought him back a rock as a relic anyway." She shook her head and laughed at the thought of her father trying to sell a rock. "Even stupid tourists wouldn't be that stupid!"

Pilar's eyes bulged when her brilliant black rock glowed in her hand.

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Katie shook the shell strainer as she lifted it from the water that rushed in then eased out over her outstretched legs. Sopping wet sand plopped into the water and splashed her cheeks, then dripped to a stop until all that remained were bulkier occupants of the sea. She checked each piece and skip-tossed the rejects.

"Throw it all back, Katie; it's just a bunch of rocks," griped Paulie, who took to scrutinizing Katie's catch because she was not having much luck finding prized olive shells, or any other shells worth keeping for that matter.

Katie lifted the strainer to toss the contents. "Hey, take a look at this," she said as she took something out of it and waved Paulie closer.

She held a bright white rectangular rock, no bigger than an inch wide, half an inch tall, and about a quarter of an inch thick, whose rounded edges Katie naturally surmised had been worn down from centuries of the ebb and flow of the sea.

"This looks like a carving of an ancient structure, like something I've seen in a book somewhere," Katie said, as she zeroed in to notice several huge columns that stood at what seemed to be the entrance of a grand edifice. "It's like something waits inside, but it's all shadowy," she said as she tried to peer deeper.

Katie's heart beat faster as her stomach fluttered. This is no ordinary rock.

Just then, Paulie exclaimed, "OMG, Katie, look the rock is glowing!"

Katie, Paulie, Adisa and Pilar all gasped simultaneously as their stones glowed in their hands.

Katie and Paulie stood transfixed as white light streamed from the stone and exploded in the space before them. They rubbed their eyes as two figures appeared in the light. A tall brown boy stood on the deck of a small, blue wooden boat, and stared at something red and glowing in his hand, and a petite tan girl wearing colorful clothing and a brimmed hat, stared at a shimmering black object.

Images of Katie and Paulie were held in Pilar's and Adisa's light beams, along with the other.

"What's happening here?" asked Katie as she turned to see Paulie fall faint in the sand.


  1. Great job. I am amazed at how far you have come. I still think it could use some polishing. The biggest issue I see, and I am by no means an expert, is spots where I think the voice sounds too mature for mg. I've tried to point them out below.

    Good luck,

    Tanning arms sounds odd to me, tan arms or arms already turning brown?
    Pesky freckles reared their heads sounds cute, but across the bridge of her nose sounds too old for middle grade
    Voice~I think there are words or phrases that seem too old for mg. Examples are wry chuckle, bubbles along the oceans edge - wouldnt a seventh grader say something simpler? Another example torrent - not sure this is a mg appropriate word.

    Though it does suck not...this back and forth seems contrived and not like an actual conversation 7th graders would have. Could you try putting in details in the form of internal thoughts in between the things the girls say?

    Statement starting she can read me...should that be italicized? Threw me that it was an internal thought.

    Sudden stabbing pain, if this is because he needs to breath, shouldnt the pressure build slowly? Becoming stabbing when it was unbearable?

    Rock as a relic- again this sentence doesnt feel mg to me

    1. Gotcha on the maturity thing, KD. My next step will be to grab a bunch of MG reads and see how far I'm off. I have to figure the difference between getting the right age-speak and not dumbing down.

      "She can read me like a book," was italicized, but it got lost in formatting I guess.

      Good call on chest pains.

      I will work on the all the points you've suggested here, and have greatly appreciated your kind input throughout this workshop.

      Good luck to you! :0)

  2. Hi Donna!

    Good improvements!

    Though I think some extra details could be withheld, like the exact address almost ‘East Ashley Avenue, Folly Beach, South Carolina’

    Bringing the info about Paulie’s dad into the conversation is much better, but the conversation drops after Paulie says she’ll be there for the summer. It almost gives the hint that Katie doesn’t care or doesn’t know what to say? Maybe have her be like “Great! We can have plenty of fun here.” Or something?

    Much better with the languages too. =) Maybe add something to the part where he looks at his watch, I was wondering why he did that until I read more. Maybe something like “He checked the time on his watch” I had thought he was thinking about taking it off for a moment, maybe he was debating on if it was waterproof of not.

    Also, I thought Pilars comment about stupid tourists was really funny. :P Maybe because I was shocked, but I laughed.

    I think the speaking could use a bit more work. Getting speech down can be really hard. Something like “"Have you ever wondered about these bubbles left along the ocean's edge when the waves break on the shore and then leave? Can air go under the sea? Could creatures breathe under the surface?"” Sounds a bit too old and mature. Maybe something more like: “You ever wonder about these bubbles on the shore? Like, can air go under the sea? And could things breath under the water?” Well you could do better, but things like that. Improper sentences I guess?

    Besides that, this is such a huge improvement from the first posting. HUGE! :)

  3. Thanks Ellie. I was so preoccupied with trying to do better on POV, I can see where I could have done better elsewhere. I will certainly work through your suggestions.

    I appreciated your candor throughout this workshop.

    Best of luck to you with your story, which seems to be well on it's way!


  4. You're doing great!!! It's much clearer. I love the last line. Good place to leave the first five. Here are a few suggestions:
    1. You have to separate the first paragraph so that we get one person speaking in each one. Right now, it's very confusing.
    2. Think when you write dialogue. Ask yourself if you would say something in conversation or out loud. Do you normally tell someone (even a dolphin) you know that they hurt themselves years ago? Probably not. Fit that in more naturally another way. Same with the word "kids". Would kids use that word to describe anyone (again even dolphins LOL). And would a girl say all that in Spanish when finding the stone? Or would she think it? Then you don't have to specify the language either.
    3. I feel like you can probably get away with staying in Katie's POV and not even use the others yet. Can't we be introduced to them by the vision? I think we'd still get the idea. And if you NEED to swtich POV later, you can, but see if you really do or not before you go there. It's a tricky thing to do. Just my two cents. :D
    GREAT WORK. FAB STORY! Good luck!!!

    1. Thanks, Lisa, your points are well taken. Grabbing books at the library this weekend to nail down teen-speak, POV's, etc.

      I really need to do much more reading on POV and figure out the best way to approach the story and to show not tell.

      Thank you for your patience, and kind suggestions throughout the workshop. I've learned tons! :0)

  5. Donna,

    Wow huge improvements. This is good, and I can tell you are really getting the feeling of the story. This version is a lot tighter than last week too, which is good.

    A few little things:

    On this the end quotes don't have a beginning.

    With each outgoing wave, she stood still and let her feet sink further into the wet, foamy sand at the shoreline of her home, East Ashley Avenue, Folly Beach, South Carolina. Wow! Would the rest of the summer be as fab as this beautiful morning?"

    I believe you swtiched tense here, it should This was no ordinary rock:

    Katie's heart beat faster as her stomach fluttered. This is no ordinary rock.

    Finally when you are dipping into the internal thoughts, it still feels a bit awkward. I know you said the formatting was off, with the italics, but actually the thought structure feels awkward, For example "She can read me like a book, but I'm not the adventurous type" Is that really the thought she'd have as a 7th grader? Just something to think about.

    Good job overall. This has come a long way. I can tell it's going to end up to be a great story!


    1. Thanks, Mim; I've appreciated all your suggestions and will work to fix the ones above. Good luck to you with your story! :0)

  6. This is definitely on it's way to being fully polished! And I'm glad to finally understand what the other two characters are saying. One big thing I'd like to comment on, though, is dialogue. It's already been mentioned, but I think reading some middle grade books might help with tone and believability. There are some instances in which the dialogue didn't sound natural. Try reading your work aloud, too. That helps.

    Here are examples--

    "Flipper still flipping okay, Baby?" (Baby isn't a term I'd see a 12/13 yo say, in reference to someone their age).

    "I had my heart set on Nepal this time around because Dad's UNICEF mission was to work to empower girls. Anyway, you've got me all summer, mi mejor amiga." (I think you could shorten this piece of dialogue by taking out the empowering girls comment. A 12 yo wouldn't be overly interested in the cause of UNICEF. I think a young kid would be more interested in the travel aspect. Just have Paulie mention she was hoping to go to Nepal.)

    "Creatures breathing under the surface, MEH" (It might be better to leave the MEH out)


    "Katie winced. She can read me like a book, but I'm, I'm just not the adventurous type. Katie turned her back, knelt in the sand and made like she had found an interesting shell to stop the conversation."(This is confusing. Why is there first person POV now?)

    Other than that, GREAT JOB!

  7. Yep, I've got a standing date at the library. I'm just too stiff with the dialog and know that reading other novels definitely will help. I wish I could rent a teen for a few weeks!

    Cassie, thanks for taking the time with my piece over these last few weeks. Pointing out specifics and offering suggestions on how to fix them, really helped.

    Much luck with FADE; I think you've got a winning premise going for you! :0)

  8. Hi Donna,

    You've come SUCH a long way! Fantastic job. You've demonstrated that you can really internalize and incorporate suggestions, so really, I think that the date at the library is going to be the the biggest thing. Read a wide variety of MG, a combination of fantasy and contemporary, so that you know what is possible in the genre, but try to keep it to recent publications. Here are some suggestions:

    A FACE LIKE GLASS by Frances Hardinge.

    THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen

    WONDER by R.J. Palacio


    A THUNDEROUS WHISPER by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

    LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead

    CADDY'S WORLD by Hilary McKay

    Your librarians will undoubtedly have a whole slew of additional recommendations for you!

    Good luck with this. You've got a great idea and you're learning quickly!

  9. Thank you so much, Martina. I went to the library yesterday, and was happy to know today, when I saw this, that I had "Wonder" in my pile of checked out books! Your other suggestions are already plugged into my Goodreads' TBR list.

    I cannot say what participating in the First Five Pages workshop has meant to me and my writing. I kick myself that I wasted a first revision with an info dump from my first NaNoWriMo, but everyone put me in check fast.

    I started flying from there! Won't forget y'all- EVER. :0)