Lindsey R. Loucks

Author of Romance and Other Scary Things

Honorable Mention Happy Dance

I entered the first 500 words of The Grave Winner into a contest hosted by Lydia Sharp over at and received an Honorable Mention! Yay! My insides are all fluttery! Every entry received a critique; here’s mine with Lydia’s comments in red:

We stood rooted in place after Mom’s funeral, just the three of us. The weight in my chest threatened to suffocate me if I looked at the lid of her gleaming casket any longer. I focused on the sky instead, at the black birds cutting across the wisps of clouds in a sharp V formation. The dull thump of my heart echoed the rhythm of their beating wings. They pressed on until the clouds took them from me. {love that description. Saying they “took them from me” feels like comparative imagery with the loss of the character’s mother. Very well done.}
            A different flutter out of the corner of my eye pulled me back to Earth. The movement took a few seconds to penetrate my numb brain until I realized I was staring at a girl. She crept in and out of the crumbling tombstones, her body thick with mud and grime. A dress, or the torn remnants of one, hung loosely from her scrawny frame. Her mouth sagged open as if she was about to scream. {ew, for real? That would make me scream. Good descriptions, though. You got a physical reaction out of me.}
            Darby, my little sister, stood next to me, and I reached out to touch her. I wasn’t sure anymore if any of this was real, if I was completely losing it, but Darby was real. Her ache was real. My hand slid over her bony, quivering shoulders and squeezed her closer to me.
            Inky black footprints followed the girl like a trail of burnt breadcrumbs. She stopped beside a tree and leaned her back against it.  More darkness pooled at her feet and crept up the tree trunk behind her. {I love that you got to this weirdness so quickly, no messing around. I’m definitely hooked.}
            Sweat trickled down the back of my dress. A sudden breeze brushed spring air over my arms and sent a faint smell of rotten hamburger meat past my nose. My stomach rolled, but the breeze and stink faded to nothing as quickly as it had come.
            The girl turned her head and looked at us. The whites of her eyes blazed behind the mud that covered her face. Her open mouth held the same black gloom that fell at her feet.
I gasped as recognition hit me.
            I knew the girl. Knew of was more like it. Her social circle was my social nightmare. Her name was Sarah, a popular cheerleader who committed suicide one week ago. {ack!} Poor Sarah, everyone said. She couldn’t handle the pressure of popularity and performing kicks and splits in front of everyone anymore. She’d sliced her wrists open to release her from those horrible demands.
            So how could she be here when she should be in the ground? I had to be hallucinating. My grief, the unbearable weight in my chest, was climbing up to press on my brain.
            But if Sarah really was standing over there by the tree, I couldn’t let Darby see her. That would be too much to handle in one day. I wanted to fold her into me or flip her glasses off her face. Instead, I willed Sarah to go away.
            Her darkness crawled up the earthy brown bark to the tips of the tree’s branches and ripped away the silky song of its leaves, leaving it empty and naked.
This is a big mess of awesomesauce. I love it. Sorry if my comments aren’t very helpful, but I honestly don’t see much to improve upon here. You’ve effectively pulled me into this very quickly. You have great voice and excellent description and a whole lotta intrigue. Superb.
Thanks again, and best of luck with this!

Thank you so much, Lydia!!


  1. I found you through Lydia’s contest comments and couldn’t resist coming over for a peek :).

    This excerpt really brought me into the world you’ve created and the storyline is intriguing. I’d keep reading.

    Christi Corbett

  2. Yes… more please! Totally hooked and DEFINITELY wanting to know more. Love the descriptions “trail of burnt breadcrumbs” and “darkness pooled at her feet and crept up the tree trunk behind her.” Wow!

  3. Great scene, especially that last paragraph.

  4. OMG!!! I remember some of my own “eww” moments while reading your work. I’m so happy for you. Congrats!

  5. Thank you so much for your postive comments!

  6. Undoubtedly, the awesomesauce is spot on! I’ve loved GW from the beginning! Well deserved.

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