Sunday, October 07, 2007

Help, please

I'm going to a conference this weekend for children's writers and illustrators. The writers get to bring one page, and the illustrators, one painting or drawing. These will be voted upon by the attendees, including agents and editors. There is no prize, other than, you know, the glory. :) I'm fond of glory.

Since I'm not an illustrator, I can't just take a completed work, like a painting, to be voted on. No. I can only take one double-spaced, Courier New font, type size 12, PAGE of my work. Obvy, that has to be one screamin, bitchin page.

I've narrowed it down to three choices, all from my Young Adult novel, The Earthquake Doll. Will you please take a few minutes to read each page and tell me which one you think I should take?


"How old did you say Rumiko is?"

"She is nineteen, Mother."

"She sounds like a very practical girl."

Isoko suppressed a smile at this description of Rumiko. She had told the family at dinner about Rumiko's enthusiasm for Western ways, but not the wilder statements concerning elders.

"Is she married or betrothed?"

"She isn't married, and she didn't mention a betrothal."

"Does she conduct herself properly, do you think?"

"Yes, of course." How irritating that Mother still seemed to be supervising her choice of friends. Had she not been acknowledged as an adult just this morning?

Mother patted the bun at the nape of her neck. "I'm sure I met her mother at our Widows of the War group. She seemed proper. I remember she mentioned having a daughter, but I did not know the age of the girl. Have you met her mother, as well, Isoko-chan?"

Isoko sighed. "I have not yet met her mother." She wanted to add, How could I? I only met Rumiko today? but thought better of it.

Mother sipped more tea. "Koji-san needs a strong-willed wife," she said. "One who would share his interest
[yes, it stops in the middle of a sentence]


Koji bowed to his aunt and said, "I am most grateful, Hisako-san, that you would do this for me."

To Isoko he said, "Now, please tell me all about her." He gestured for her to join him in the garden.

As soon as the screen closed behind them, he said, "Isoko-chan, I am your faithful cousin! Why did you not tell me of the arrangements?"

"I – "

"And why did you not tell me of her beauty?" He paced back and forth over the stone path. "I could not breathe when I saw her - heeiii! You should have told me."

"Koji-san, be calm. I could tell you nothing. It was forbidden. Besides, no arrangements have been made yet. Your mother wanted to meet her first."

He stopped pacing and his eyes widened. "It isn't final yet?"


"Oh, no – "

"You must be calm. Did you not hear that my mother will speak to them right away about a betrothal?"

"Sorry." He resumed pacing. "On this day I met my future wife." He gasped. "Isoko-chan! What is she like?"

Isoko bit her lip. "You will have to wait," she said, sliding the screen open again, "like any other groom."


Without a word, Tadashi picked Isoko up and carried her like the child she felt she was in his eyes. He looked down and smiled, his face so close to hers that she could feel his breath. She turned her head away, only to face his armpit. She should have turned the other way and pretended to look at the scenery. If she did that now, she'd have to shift her body around in his arms first, then lift her head up and face him again. Maybe she should just keep her eyes fixed on his armpit and thank him for carrying her.

"Are you comfortable?" he asked.

Isoko nodded. His voice was so deep and kind.

"Does it hurt very much?"


"Your ankle, does it hurt very much?"

"Oh! No." She could feel her cheeks burning.

"That can't be comfortable." He hefted her weight, turning her. "Put your arm around my neck. Better?"

"Yes." Isoko stared at the path ahead, heart pounding.

"We will be there soon," he said in that soothing voice.

They passed the last of the rice paddies. The lane broadened as they approached the village. The mist had burned off and the sun peeked out from the clouds. Market crops of squash, beets, and yams grew in a small field on their right. A fence surrounded the village mortuary and crematorium, a
[yes, it ends in the middle of a sentence]

So, which one grabbed you? Made you want to keep reading? Or at least was less ... sucky?