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Mommacrit June 2008

First page by F.Fuller, one writer who dared send work to Mommacrit.



Chapter 1


      Eva Conner took a tooth from her apron pocket and wiped it on a napkin before placing it in her mouth.  She hated the thing, but it was better than a gaping hole when she smiled.  She wanted a permanent bridge as soon as she could afford it.  But, the tooth was fun at times, especially around children like her little sister Maddy.  Called a flipper, Eva could make it swing up and down like a tiny door with her tongue, or better yet lay it on her lower lip and, with her mouth closed, creating a witch’s tooth.  Crossing her eyes along with the witch’s tooth sent Maddy into shrieks of laughter that ripped eardrums.


  It was six in the morning as she looked out the window of Gus’s Coffee Shop.  She noticed ice forming on the pane inside from the steam in the kitchen.  Twelve below zero in Chicago is colder than twelve below zero anywhere else of Earth, Eva thought, especially in February.


She came to work at five to help George Chu, the cook, prep for breakfast and to listen to his constant complaints and tales of woe, delivered in heavily accented English and rapid-fire Chinese.  George was a little fellow, always swallowed in chef’s regalia complete with a toque balanced on his ears.  The kitchen was his domain; even Gus entered cautiously.  But, George laughed a lot, and Eva liked that.


  The restaurant was open but empty of customers.  Eva looked out the big front window at the depressingly dark day, at cars chugging along Halsted Street, at steam clouds hissing from grates in the sidewalk, and at people hurrying to escape icy wind.  Scraping unconsciously at the ice with a thumbnail, she sighed, tears escaping her eyes and running down her cheeks, which she dabbed with a tissue.


"Okay, Eva, you can stop it now!" she whispered.  “It’s Valentine’s Day and you should be happy.” 


She turned back to her work, filling salt and pepper shakers; pepper was easy because no one used much, but salt, it seemed, was always empty.  Her first task each morning was to start two 50-cup coffee urns.  Next, she filled seemingly endless creamers, shot-glass sized jugs in which one ounce of cream was deposited one plop at a time from a stainless steel dispenser.  Then came butter chips, little saucers the size of silver dollars, on which a pat of butter was placed, and like the creamers, seemed endless.  She fished dozens of sweet rolls out of boxes, put them on plates in the pie case where they remained until pie replaced them at lunch.  She filled the ice chest; rolled well over a hundred service sets in paper napkins and placed them on trays under the counter.


Reaction from Mommacrit


First off, has F. Fuller 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.”


This first page is less than 501 words. It is labeled with what looks to be a novel title, For the Heart’s Treasure. It has the author’s name but quelle surprise! no genre. If the Momma were in a store, browsing books, she would need to work out the genre for herself. Hmm, For the Heart’s Treasure…Mommacrit is guessing here it is not a thriller, could be about pirates but more likely a romance. Maybe it is something that will curl the Momma’s toes and warm her up on those cold winter nights when she misses Poppacrit.


Does F. Fuller push Mommacrit’s magic button? Does F. Fuller write a damn good beginning and hook Momma into wanting to read more? Can the Momma feel some toe-curling coming on?


Even a picture of Fabio and some half-naked lady won’t save this one. Our hook has the heroine, Eva, plugging a gaping hole in her mouth with a fake tooth. Now call the Momma old-fashioned, but this is just plain off-putting. What will the next hook be? A detailed account of Eva’s struggle with painful hemorrhoids? A blow-by-blow account of her fight against intestinal worms?  Like a lot of readers, the Momma uses fiction as an escape. Sounds like Eva could do with one, too.


Just in case the Momma has made her first mistake in assessing hooks, she reads on. She discovers Eva must fill saltshakers, urns, creamers, butter saucers, ice chests. She must roll a hundred serviettes. She must…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


F. Fuller joins the legion of writers who can spell and who know where to put an apostrophe. Great, this puts F. Fuller above the legion of writers who can’t spell or apostrophize correctly. But it’s not enough. The mechanics of writing are important, yes, but a writer needs to master the big issues, too. Dialogue and action pull us into a story – later your character can introspect, if you must. You have only seconds to snag your reader’s attention.


Within seconds, the Momma’s reaction was “So what? Why should I care?”