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Mommacrit February 2007

CRIT ALERT!!!   “Because Mommacrit has been inundated with submissions, the Crit Me! Column will close to submissions until further notice. Mommacrit thanks those writers who sent bribes with their submissions – unfortunately, the chocolate melted. Mommacrit will continue to post honest critiques on work previously received, with or without chocolate.”





First Page by B.Davis - one writer who dared send work to Mommacrit!



From the novel, Thomas Jefferson Loves Emily Dickinson



“All good Americans, when they die, go to Paris”—Thomas Gold Appleton [1812-1884]


            Whimsical with reincarnation, Fletcher Denson insisted he was Thomas Jefferson, and Sister Amadeus was Emily Dickinson. He plied her with the poet’s words, Wild nights, wild nights! Were I with thee, wild nights should be our luxury!

Sister Amadeus channeled Emily’s response, Say it again, Saxon! Hush, only to me.

She was the lone woman ever to enter the Fletcher’s quarters on the upper floor of the gardener’s cottage at the Dominican convent of Notre Dame de Fischermont. Then, it was to battle the dark alien he carried in his lungs. Back from the cordial grave I drag thee.  He shall not take thy hand. Nor put his spacious arm around thee. 

Ungrateful, he was. “All good Americans, when they die, go to Paris,” Fletcher had said, complaining she was merely delaying his departure. So smug. As though St. Peter had issued him a golden passport. But she had no doubt he was there now. In Paris.


            The key to Fletcher’s rooms disappeared with his demise, resulting in the inconvenience of summoning a locksmith. Sister Amadeus had the lost key. She used it for secret visits on occasion when seeing the gardener leave. She watched his Deux Chevaux beetle down the cobbled Rue de la Croix to Chaussee de Bruxelles. Turning north, to scuttle towards Brussels.  But soon after Fletcher’s death, the gardener moved, fleeing memories and reminders.

            Now, Sister Amadeus visited whenever she wanted, still surreptitiously. In his tiny bedroom, she took communion from Fletcher’s hiking boots. Scarlet laces binding her heart. She would raise a boot to her face - inhaling the intimacy of leather and perspiration. She would thrust a hand in. Her fingers sought the depressions his toes left. Finding them sent small chirping creatures up her arm to tumble into the cavity behind her breasts.

Finally, she would slip her feet into the boots. Fletcher climbed the arterial trellises of her calves and thighs, and she gave her virgin self, recalling Emily’s passion. Intact, in Everlasting flake. Oh, Cavalier, for you!




Reaction from Mommacrit


First off, has B.Davis followed the guidelines?


Send Mommacrit the first page of your story or novel. It must be less than 501 words. Label it clearly with its title, your name or a nom-de-plume, and its genre.”


B. Davis sent less than 501 words. B. Davis sent the title. B. Davis made no mention of genre. B. Davis did not include her/his name or a nom-de-plume in a clear label. Mommacrit’s assistant found it on the email.




Mommacrit’s Nits



Has B.Davis sent Mommacrit a hook, a page to lure a reader into buying the book?


Mommacrit’s first reaction was “Huh?” Her second reaction was “Boot fetishist?”

Mommacrit had to read this excerpt over before grasping what it was all about. Most readers won’t do that. Watch what happens in book stores and libraries:


1.  Quick skim.

2. “Huh? I don’t get it!”

3. Snap the book shut.


Has the hook worked? Is Mommacrit intrigued enough to want to read on? Here’s a shock, folks. Yes. B. Davis has obvious creative talent. Mommacrit would definitely turn the page to see if the obfuscation clears. However, Mommacrit would simply skim the next couple of pages and quit for sure if obscurity prevailed.


There are some intriguing images in B.Davis’s writing. Finding toe depressions in Fletcher’s boots “…sent small chirping creatures up her arm…” There’s  “…the dark alien he carried in his lungs…” and climbing “…the arterial trellises of her calves and thighs…” But what about the fragmentary sentences? Are they all necessary? Do they contribute to clarity or slow the reader down? “Turning north, to scuttle towards Brussels.” can be easily, more clearly written, as “It turned north, to scuttle towards Brussels.” When you choose to write “He was ungrateful.” As “Ungrateful, he was.” you make Fletcher sound like Yoda from Star Wars.


Quotes? Mommacrit wouldn’t use them in a hook. This is where you’re trying to pique the reader’s interest, grab their attention with your active writing. Quotes from Dickinson’s poems obviously have a place in this story but slow the first page down. If you use quotes, check them first. “Intact, in Everlasting flake. Oh, Cavalier, for you!” “Cavalier” is, in fact, spelled “Caviler”. Don’t assume Mommacrit’s an idiot; look it up.


Even writers of literary fiction must realize they have two slender chances to attract a reader – the blurb and the hook. If the reader doesn’t “get it”, the writer won’t get it either.


What do readers want? Not to see how smart you are. In a nutshell, readers want a good story. The blurb and the first page must convince the reader this is going to be worth his time and money.


Mommacrit’s advice, should B.Davis choose to heed it, is this: put your ego aside when you edit your work. Ask yourself, as a reader, does this contribute to the development of the plot or does it distract? Remember, the delete key is there for a reason.