Thanks to everyone for entering the YA book giveaway this last week! Congrats to the winners I've already contacted, courtesy of random.org:
1. A LONG, LONG SLEEP: Irene!
2. THE HUNGER GAMES COMPANION: Tangynt!
3. STARTERS: Tinkerbell the Bipolar Faerie!
4. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE: Alexia Chamberlynn!
I would also like to announce that due to me moving next week to sweatingly hot Chico, California, I will be on blog vacation for 3 weeks! I will reappear July 10th (yep, a Tuesday for that week). Sorry I haven't been active in the blogosphere lately, and I'm sad to miss your latest bloggy news, but I've been busy with yard sales, packing, and other moving prep.
Today's first page excerpt is a YA paranormal by Alice Fleury that is more horror than romance. The title is A Certain Presence. Please add your helpful feedback below!
A black bird perched on the sign painted with the words: Fortune $5. He strutted and twitched and eyed the people outside the tent.
My best friend Bree had maneuvered herself to the front of the line. She hadn’t noticed I’d fallen behind. Kate wouldn’t like this. Not that I would tell her. It was cooler under the tree. A lake breeze blew stray hairs that tickled my face.
“Gen.” Bree jumped out of line. Her pink streaked hair straggled along her shoulders. “C’mon.” She pulled me inside. “We’re next. And you owe me five bucks.”
To our left a table displayed baubles and herbs. Decks of Tarot cards and booklets about psychic phenomena were for sale. Business cards with Madame Nadine’s information lay in a porcelain hand.
Smashed grass created a path to gauzy fabric draped from poles. The curtain parted and a woman walked past me and Bree like she was dazed.
“Come.” Madame beckoned us. Her bracelets clinked with the graceful movement of her arms. “Come.” Candles flickered on a red tablecloth casting shadows behind her.
Bree stuck her hand out. “Me first.”
Madame’s eyes shone like black marbles and her red lips smiled. She cupped Bree’s hand in hers. “Ahh, a long life line.
Smoke snaked from the candle flames accumulating in the space between us. Madame’s and Bree’s words became murmurs, their bodies’ silhouettes. My neck prickled and chills ran down my arms. “Genevieve.” A translucent figure whispered my name.
1. Opening Line. The opening line speaks of something unusual going on, and is attention-getting. It's possibly somewhat cliché to have a raven hanging around as an ill omen (or a witch's familiar?), but it's interesting nevertheless.
2. Things that threw me off.
Bree's maneuvering to the front of the line. There was previous mention of a tent and some people, but the line seemed to appear out of nowhere. I also got confused by Bree pulling Gen "inside" and then mentions of grass like they were still outside.
Bree vs. Kate. First Bree is introduced, and then the paragraph immediately switches to a mention of Kate. More info would be nice to tell who she is, or else the mention of Kate separated more from Bree.
Kate vs. temperature/breeze. It was cooler under the tree. A lake breeze blew stray hairs that tickled my face. These lines didn't seem to mesh with Kate's disapproval; are they connected? I expected to read more about Kate, or have those things relate to her. These could be bumped to a new paragraph, or a transition phrase added.
The dazed woman leaving tent vs Madame Nadine. Since it was Bree/Gen's turn at the tent, I assumed the woman emerging was Madame Nadine, and she was going to greet them. That threw me off momentarily.
3. A wordy sentence: Business cards with Madame Nadine’s information lay in a porcelain hand. Tighter: Madame Nadine's business cards lay in a porcelain hand.
4. Two ambiguous sentences: Smoke snaked from the candle flames accumulating in the space between us. Also: Candles flickered on a red tablecloth casting shadows behind her. Is it the smoke that is accumulating, or the candle flames? Are the candles casting shadows, or the tablecloth? It sounds like the latter in both instances, which I don't think is the intent. A comma would help, but rewording might make the intent even more clear:
Smoke snaked from the candle flames, and accumulated in the space between us.
Candles flickered on a red tablecloth, and cast shadows behind her.
5. Shouldn't Bree or Gen pay Madame? A short phrase or even a single word added would take care of this: Bree paid, and stuck her hand out.
6. No end quote, and no possessive needed: “Ahh, a long life line. Need end quote mark. Madame’s and Bree’s words became murmurs, their bodies’ silhouettes. There is no possessive involved with bodies, just a plural. The word "became" is implied: …their bodies [became] silhouettes.
Kudos and Overall Thoughts: Nicely creepily paranormal in tone, and I like the whispered voice at the end. Despite the minor confusions as I read, the page flows well and makes for an intriguing start. I like the smoke "snaking," and the way Bree's hair (and thus a bit of her personality) is described without stopping the action. I'm very curious as to what will happen next, which is a good thing!
What praise or comments can you add to help Alice refine her work?
Have you ever had your fortune told via palm reading?
If you have a blog, when's the last time YOU treated yourself to a blog vacation?