Monday, July 25, 2011

GUTGA - BlogFest First 200 words Entry

It's the last week of Deana Barnhart's Blogfest - Gearing Up to Get an Agent week. So this is the first 200 words of my Middle Grade novel, The Happy Kind. Looking forward to your feedback!

Thanks everybody but I went ahead and took the snippet down - I had great feedback but was starting to feel like my waters were getting muddied. It's the double-edged sword of having piles of readers!! But I TRULY appreciate each of you who took the time to read and comment. You're the best.



  1. Um, Jaye?? This is excellent. I have almost nothing to add here. Love the dialogue, love your characters. I guess, now I think about it, I'd like to have a line or two of setting. I thought at first that they were on a bus (no idea why), but then Kyana does that chest and hip thing (gorgeous--I could totally see it) and I lost the tendrils of setting I thought I had.

    Sorry not to be more help! Oh. She raised an eyebrow PERIOD, not comma ;P


  2. I love your voice! I'm ready to read more. :)

    P.S. I've left a reply to your comment at

  3. Thanks guys, I had a line about the moving van in her driveway to open it, but got some flack on how many books started with a kid moving so ditched it as the opening line. But I agree, I need to get some setting back in here. And thanks Michelle! I followed you, too.

  4. Hi Jaye:

    Like the others, loved your description of Kyana. My only suggestion is to somehow cut down on all the dangs. Bc it comes so early in your story, it threw me. I tried to figure out what Kyana was imitating - duelling banjos? - and then matching her dangs with the notes in my head. :)) That's just me, tho, I doubt your target audience will do that!

  5. All I have to say is this: Her friend is making fun of a hillbilly, but she plays the banjo and says 'ain't'? That confuses me.

  6. I enjoyed the bantering although I agree with Amber. Her friend playing the banjo makes her seem like a hillbilly to me.

    You should add a little bit of setting to the scene.

    Be careful with commas and periods. I’m kidding girl. should be I'm kidding, girl. She raised an eyebrow, should be She raised an eyebrow.

  7. Hi Jaye
    The dialogue is great, really gives the flavor of the characters right off the bat. I didn't at first get that the banjo imitation was the 'deliverance' banjo, nor why it might freak the MC out. Maybe mention that it was meant to be ominous (though in a kidding way).

    You mention Kyana's name a lot, and since it's clear that there are only 2 of them, I think you can substitute 'she' a few times.

    I also echo the comment about setting. Where are they? If MC is moving from the city, maybe place them in a vacant lot, squishing the tar that's bubbled up in the city heat (totally don't know if that's the setting or the season, but man did I love popping tar bubbles when I was a kid)

    Good luck!

  8. Hi JRo,

    Loved this! I have no critique points. The dialog felt authentic to me and it was nice and Southern feeling without trying too hard. I love this line, "She was the perfect blend of her dad’s Ethiopian angles and her mom’s Georgia curves."

    For me, the fact that it was a banjo impression, not a real banjo, was obvious. I'm not sure where the other posters are from, but as a Southerner myself, it all seemed very genuine. Without you saying so, I guessed that they are in Atlanta or another Southern city. And yes...a city Southerner would definitely consider rural Southerners hillbillies. I've had very similar (although more grown-up) conversations with my brother about me possibly moving from Austin to East Texas. ;)

  9. Enjoyed the humor and you nailed the southern accents. Would like a sense of their whereabouts, but other than that, it's great!

  10. I really liked it. The voice is great, the characters are great. I like the "dang, dang, dangs" though you could cut a few of them.

    I'm not bothered about not knowing more setting. Yes, the moving van is cliche, and we don't need it because the dialogue tells us what we need. What else could be happening related to moving? Someone disconnecting the cable? I don't know.

    Good job!

  11. Sharon - you nailed it. They're in Atlanta. And yes, there are degrees of acceptance, even among Southerners.

    So I'm going to add and switch a bit more and fix the little punctuation things so if you're reading after this comment, a few things are different! Thanks for stopping by everyone.

  12. Great voice and characters! I'm drawn in right away and curious about what's to come. I'd also like to know where they are currently, and by the plural use of mothers, I'm assuming her parents are a gay couple?

  13. Love this! I am also assuming she has lesbian parents, which would be cool and modern. Great job, and good luck with the contest!

  14. I loved the voice of your MC and her friend. I didn't need setting I was so caught up in the banter. So fun. Well done :)

  15. The banter was good but I'd clean up your first paragraph about the banjo imitation. At first I didn't think her bff was there and that somebody was imitating her imitation of the banjo. I know, very confusing, lol

  16. Your viewpoint character definitely has a strong voice here, and so does her best friend! They really captured my attention. This was a nice way to introduce a common theme (moving away).

    I loved your use of sound at the beginning, but I wondered whether a MG reader would think about annoying sounds in this situation, instead of being caught up in bigger issues and feelings about the move.

    I also felt that this line: "She was the perfect blend of her dad’s Ethiopian angles and her mom’s Georgia curves" sounded more YA than MG. Would an 8- to 12-year-old kid really care about another kids ethnic background? Iknow my 12-year-old wouldn't. It seems more like it's there to provide information than authentic to a kid voice, but maybe it's just my take on it.

    Kyana's last line of dialogue here is great. It sounds very natural and makes me want to read more! I hope she's still in the story after the MC moves away.

    Good luck with the contest!

  17. Thanks everyone! And if you're just stopping by, I"m sorry you missed it.

  18. Sorry I missed it, but thanks for your sweet comments on my blog! Exciting to be a new follower on yours!


Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'