January 2014 Critique Corner

January Critique Week

Here they are…The January Stories!  

It’s story time at swirl and spark… let the critiquing begin! We have five story openers written by five amazing writers. Each story opener is posted separately with its own comment box. Just go to the post below this one to see Story # 1. Keep scrolling down to see each of the other stories after that. Over the next week, if your story is posted on the site, please be sure to make a comment about each of the other stories. Also, be on the lookout for comments from our blog readers, and from swirl and spark too. If you don’t have a story posted today, you can still make comments (even if you’re over the age of 18). I’m sure each of these writers would love to hear what you think!

Remember to keep the critique comments positive. Begin with something you like about the story, add a suggestion if you have one, and end with something else you like about it too. Give as much detail as you can. So scroll down and enjoy the openings of these stories. You’re definitely in for a treat!

But before we do, let’s hear it for our January swirl and spark Authors: Cecilia, Kara, Mackenzie, Riley and Jordan!!  **creates thunderous applause**   Thanks for submitting. So many writers will benefit from your reading your words!

And… one last thing… break out the virtual hot chocolate (or the real stuff if you can). It’s a chilly week for January Critique Week and sending a mug of steamy yummy-ness to you is my way of saying thank you… to our amazing writers, to those who stop by the blog to read, to those who’ve taken the time to tell other writers about the site (and critique week), and especially to those who leave comments for our writers. I appreciate all of you. Just remember to add the whipped cream!   

Okay, now you can scroll down to read. 🙂

January 2014 Critique Corner

January 2014: Story # 1

Title:               Finally Getting It

Author:           Cecilia T.

My brother wouldn’t let me into his treehouse, ‘cause it was no-girls-allowed. Him and Jimmy and Cheeser and Suzon-not-Susan were all afraid that I’d be better at doing boy things than they are, I bet.

Girls don’t do boy things not because we can’t, but because we aren’t stupid enough to, and that’s a pretty important distinction but the Super-Secret-Special-Spies or whatever they were calling themselves that day didn’t get it.

And all that was, well I wouldn’t say fine but it was in the grayish muck between okay and lame, and that was good enough to live with.

Until a couple days later when I saw them unrolling the rope ladder down to let Rosie Anderson in. The girl across the street who was obsessed with horses and even had a pony of her own called Ladybug, even though it sure wasn’t anywhere near red-with-black-polka-dots, but Rosie was dumb like that.

She was the kind of girl who wore princess dresses to school, the fancy kind with netting and fur trimming and sparkly shoes to match. Even when it wasn’t Halloween, and if I tried to pull that kind of thing I’d get laughed outta second grade but girls like Rosie got away with a lot more than girls like me did.

I stood under the tree even though I didn’t care, course not, I was just curious. I heard them initiating her into the Super-Stupid-Sorry-Excuse-of-a-Club circle, with the handshake they got from that ancient movie and the chant that made no sense, ‘cause they had their own made-up language that sounded a whole lot like Pig Latin.

January 2014 Critique Corner

January 2014: Story # 2

Title:               Half- Breeds and Other Liabilities

Author:           Kara B.           

            Whoever said Hell was a burning pit of torment never met my family. The real Hell was showing up at my annual reunion, hiding from my less-than-savory relatives, and playing nanny to a demonic five year old.

            All kids can be demonic. In the case of my family, it was literal. Though my sister, Lillian, wouldn’t fully evolve to demon status until she was twelve or thirteen, she still had the same nasty tendencies as the rest of the family. There was the occasional bone snapping, tantrum of demonic power, and draining of emotions and souls that filled her day.

            Me, not so lucky.

            She pulled on my gauges, and I swatted her hand way. She rolled off me and onto the grass. “Mihael, you have holes in your ears!”

            I wanted to rip her arms out of their sockets. Instead, I tried to be patient.

            “Those are called gauges, Lillian,” I said in my best I’m-not-about-to-disembowel-you-voice. “Pull on them and we’ll be having a very different conversation.”

             She yanked on my ears again.

            “Ouch! Daughter of the Devil!” I cussed. “Don’t make me take you home earlier.”

            Patience is not a virtue of mine.

            Lillian’s look implied she did not believe I’d follow up on my threat.

            “My money is on the kid.” My shoulders tensed at the laughter in the voice.

            Great, spectators.

            My sister, Kenzie, was smiling as I managed to wrench my neck from under Lillian’s grasp. Maybe she boiled a kitten or something.

January 2014 Critique Corner

January 2014: Story # 3

Title:                   Star Story        

Author:               Mackenzie N.        

Star was a very cared for dog. she got 2 full meals a day and a good amount of exercise time. after she had been with the owner for a while. the old owner had got sick. so the dog did not get as much care. so the owner gave star to a vet to take care of star while she was sick. and when she got better to come and pick her up. As weeks went on the owner had never came back to pick her up. then finally they got a report that the owner had died and sence star could understand human words she got sad when she heard that her owner had died. also she did not understand any other owner except for her old owners sister: kate and avery or her old owners brothers: jason carter and corey. and sence none of the brothers or sisters came she never had another owner . although star lived for many many years for as many as 12 years with 2 surgeries and she died by having to be put down . one last thing star was a golden retriever. 

January 2014 Critique Corner

January 2014: Story # 4

Title:                     Untitled

Author:                 Riley

It’s been a while since Callie and I have sat like this. We’re on the porch, and she’s holding my hand, and my head is in her lap. My tears are staining her skirt, and she’s probably looking down at me wondering what happened.

But I can’t tell her. I can’t bring myself to whispers the words that will no doubt fall into existence and then exist, because words like the ones I’m thinking have a lot of power in this world. Sentences like the one that has circled my brain for days on end tend to make mountains crumble into piles of stones and oceans evaporate into nothing.

He’s gone, he left, I don’t know what to do—

I don’t know how to say it so that Callie won’t melt into an ocean of her own tears. My world has already slid off of its axis, and she’s the anchor that is holding there, before it’ll fall off completely.

But the word slip out of my mouth, and we sit on my porch in the sunlight while the clouds bring rain through our minds.

January 2014 Critique Corner

January 2014: Story # 5

Title:                      Untitled         

Author:                  Jordan M.

She walks into the room and immediately, all eyes are on her. She can feel the stares, hear the whispers.

She purses her lips tightly, metaphorically throwing away the key.


She walks through without a sound, and turns around when she reaches the exit.

He’s watching her, but it’s not like she hadn’t known he would.

She watches him and he watches her and she can’t look away from his green eyes.

His eyes follow her as she walks away and she doesn’t look back.

January 2014 Critique Corner

Calling all Critters!

It’s almost here! January Critique Week. Next Wednesday, I’ll be posting the beginnings of several great stories…all written by writers ages 18 years or younger.

It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for everyone in the Swirl and Spark community to improve their skills at crafting a great story opener. Besides, reading someone else’s words, and reading what other writers and readers have to say about them is a great motivator too.

Even if you are not one of the awesome writers who have submitted their work, you too can benefit from the critiques. I encourage anyone who stops by the blog next week to read the story openers and give your feedback.  I’m sure the authors would appreciate any and all constructive comments!

So, like I said…Calling all Critters out there~  If you like to read, and especially if you like to write, please join in on the fun… even if you’re over the age of 18. Swirl and Spark is a place for kids and teens who like to write and want to improve their craft and I know there are so many writers out there who can help make that happen. If you have a tip for them or some words of encouragement, we’d love to read it.

Also, if any of you are still thinking about submitting your work, please do! There are still several open spots. Just go to the Critique Corner tab for instructions. They’re pretty simple!

Thank you to all the writers so far who have submitted their work. You’re amazing and talented and I can’t  wait to post your openers on the blog!

As for me, I’ve already been inspired by the great writing I’ve seen to revise the opening paragraph of my middle grade novel. I thought it was pretty good before. It just wasn’t amazing. But I’m working on it! Maybe one of these days I’ll share mine with all of you!

So until then, Happy Wednesday! I’m ready to snuggle under a blanket, drink some tea and critique the stories I’ve gotten so far for January Critique Week. 🙂