Leveling Up - self-published writer to best practices author, part 1

Wish me luck! I'm taking my first public step in my new journey to become a bona fide author. This evening I'll be going to a critique group (first ever) and sharing the opening chapter of the write-a-novel-in-a-month story I pulled from Amazon in order to turn it into a 'real' book. Let me know what you think ... constructively, if you please. *wink*

Here's how it starts:

Chapter One – The Red X

Peyton Trent was as memorable as parsley garnish.

His father had gone to innovative lengths to ensure he remained that way, quashing his occasional brainstorm, censuring him whenever he dared show a glimmer of promise, even uprooting the family and moving if Peyton became too chummy with his classmates. The fourteen-year-old considered all the fuss unnecessary. It’s not like he resisted being pedestrian—far from it. He’d worked hard to cultivate a bland fa├žade and to avoid personal interaction. The tactic enabled him to float through life unnoticed and without conflict. More important, it helped maintain the fragile amity at home.

The bulk of his boxes packed, he hunkered down inside his raggedy blanket fort and unfurled its privacy flap. His gaze caught on the only adornment that remained in his bedroom, a marked-up calendar blazoned with a definitive red X. There was no getting around it. It was moving day … again.

As always, the sight of the red X tied Peyton in knots. He looked away and shut the flap, grabbing his side to massage his pancreas. Logic dictated it was his pancreas that was knotted. Given that he couldn’t quite pinpoint where in his torso the discomfort lay, coupled with the fact he didn’t know what a pancreas was or where it was located, he felt confident in his diagnosis.

With greater care than usual he arranged his little green plastic soldiers. Their impending battle was to be the last waged at their current coordinates. As such, he intended to make it one for the annals. He’d outdone himself with the latest addition to his arsenal of custom-built war machinery – a self-arming and repeating catapult. His entire collection of marbles sat lined up beside it, positioned at just the right angle for automatic loading and firing.

Itching to get the carnage underway, he took one synthetic combatant in each hand. “Ready to face your fate?”

Just then the steady beat of boots parading through the house came to a halt.

Peyton knew from experience the silhouetted figure looming in the doorway would brook no procrastination. He held his breath, hoping to go unobserved.

“Junior, for cryin’ out loud. I already asked you to pack up. You’re not going to make me ask again, are you?”

“No, sir,” Peyton muttered, emerging from the security of his quilted war bunker to brave the hostile elements.

“What do you have going on in there?” his father asked, pulling back one of the fort’s blankets to expose the upright broom that served as the shelter's primary support. “What if I’d been looking for that broom, Junior?”

“Sorry, Dad.”

Lieutenant Trent grabbed the broom handle and tugged, causing the structure to collapse unceremoniously and the rows of artillery marbles to scatter across the linoleum floor. When the sound of rolling glass balls ceased, he walked atop the heap of mismatched covers and handed Peyton the broom. “Here. Looks like you’ll be needing this after all.”

And just like that, before Peyton could wipe out so much as a single squadron, his war was pre-empted. . . .

Read the rest of the chapter here