Monday, July 9, 2018

First Impressions - Hotel Room



Well, it's been a while since Dianne and I have done this, but out of the blue someone emailed me wanting their first page critiqued and who am I to refuse a fellow writer in need? So, without further ado, I present Selena's first page from her work in progress.




HOTEL ROOM

She woke up with a splitting headache and a muddled mind. Without opening her eyes or trying to form a coherent thought, she pushed her head deeper into the soft pillow and sent a silent prayer to the heavens for the pain to go away and let her sleep a little longer. Unfortunately, it took only seconds for a nagging feeling to appear in her stomach, telling her something was wrong. Peeling her eyelids open, she took in her surroundings. The city lights coming through the large floor-to-ceiling window were enough for the sleek lines of the furniture around her to form a disturbing picture in her head. A hotel room. She was in a hotel room. An expensive one at that, if the leather armchairs positioned by the coffee table and plush curtains framing the window were anything to go by. At the same time, she noticed the silky feel of the sheets covering her body and realized she was naked. Panic made her lift her head up with the jerk, and she immediately regretted the move since blindingly sharp needles of pain pierced her brain. Firmly shutting her eyes, she let her head fall back down and waited for the onslaught of nausea to pass. She really was in a hotel with possibly the worst hangover of her life. The good news was that the room was still dark which meant the morning didn’t come yet. Nobody was in bed with her or even in the room, so she didn’t have to get up right this second. Her brain will would probably offer some information about the last night events at some point, so there was no need to panic. She allowed herself to relax just a little bit and sunk sank into the softness of the bed trying to decide on the a course of action that will would get her out of this room and home. Preferably as soon as possible. A headache wasn’t going anywhere, and she didn’t have any painkillers so the shower should probably be the first stop of her escape route. That will clear her head enough to find her stuff, leave the hotel and find a cab that will drive her home. Well, it appears that forging the plan wasn’t so hard after all.

My thoughts: First off, I would give her a name. It's hard to connect with someone who doesn't have a name and the goal of the first page is to pull the reader in and get her to connect with the character. Like so: 
Sasha woke up with a splitting headache and a muddled mind Without opening her eyes or trying to form a coherent thought, she pushed her head deeper into the soft pillow and sent a silent prayer to the heavens for the pain to go away and let her sleep a little longer.
It's much easier to feel sorry for Sasha than some unnamed person. 
The second thing I noticed was that our narrator isn't too alarmed at finding herself in a high end motel room, naked no less, and has access to painkillers, although she doesn't have any on her. This leads me to make certain assumptions about her. Is she a call girl? Does she often drink too much and end up in strange people's beds? 
Last but not least, a first page needs to do something to make the reader want to turn the page and read more. The question of how this character got where she is isn't enough, in my opinion, but mostly because the character is so nonchalant about it. She's not worried so why should the reader be? 
With that said, if there's a reason our character had so much to drink, I suggest that information be conveyed sooner to give the reader more impetus to turn the page. I would also suggest that she feel some regret. Not necessarily for ending up in a hotel room for a one night stand, but for having drank so much that she can't recall. That's not a good thing, and even an alcoholic would be remorseful - and want to get the heck out of there as fast as possible. 

Selena, thank you for submitting your first page, and I hope my thoughts have helped. Readers, if you have anything helpful to add please do, and don't forget that Dianne is critiquing this page as well so head over to her place to see what she had to say. 




Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Unfairness of Life

Today I'm here to tell you about the utter unfairness of life. I'm sure you've heard about it. In this case, instead of a person who has been faced with the unfairness of life, it is a dog. My dog. Jonah.
This is what he looked like approximately 11 years ago when I brought him home.

Two weeks ago he went blind, apparently due to high blood pressure which caused his retinas to detach suddenly. He's on medication now but needs more tests to determine the cause of his high blood pressure. Unfortunately these tests are not within my budget at this time. More unfortunate is that barring a miracle, Jonah will not get his sight back.

This is the unfairness of life. That a dog like Jonah, who is the most easy going, friendly, good natured dog you can imagine to suddenly not be able to see his ball or the water he so loved to swim in or his beloved dish (yes, he's a lab so he loves his dish because that holds the beloved food) just about kills me. He has no idea why his world suddenly went dark.

The stairs are hard. He isn't a young dog any more so I have to hold him back to make sure he doesn't fall if he missteps. I have to make sure the cellar door is shut when he's downstairs. I have to find new words to help him understand how to navigate, and he has to try to learn them.

And Jonah? Still just as good natured as ever. Gobbles up his food (and his medicine hidden in a lump of peanut butter) as fast as ever, follows his nose around the yard, and still manages to find the litter box occasionally and help himself to the treats. Honestly, it's probably more sad for me watching how well he takes this new life he's been given, a life that will be perpetually in darkness.

This is the unfariness of life and why I haven't been around much. Now excuse me while I go fill a Kong with peanut butter and dog kibble to entertain the best blind dog in the whole world.

Monday, May 21, 2018

I am here today helping C. Lee McKenzie who sadly lost her husband Thursday night. Her book came out two days before on Tuesday so here I am, presenting SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...


C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.

Links:
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes
Amazon
Kindle
Foyles
Goodreads


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Pawn Shop

As some of you may recall, I work at a pawn shop. A lot of people come into our shop and ask what that means. What IS a pawn shop? How does it work? Basically, a pawn shop is where you go with an item of value to get a loan on it. Let's say you have a tool of some sort and the current market value is $100. We would loan about $40 max (because if you don't come back for your item we have to try to sell it for a profit) and the end of 31 days you come back with $48 and get your item back. Or you can pay the monthly interest of $8 and carry it over for another month. If you're smart, you'll get your item out right away. If you don't, you'll eventually pay more than your item is worth.

The shop I work at is called Mainely Pawn & Antiques, because we don't just do pawns. We also buy and sell antiques and vintage items. And yes, we get a ton of extremely cool items in, as evidenced by the photos that follow...

Insulators in the foreground. The Amber one is my fave.
 
Yup, that's me :)
Vintage Gaming Stuff
Oh, yeah, we have baseball cards
Love these old clocks
Need a locker?
In the mirror you can see the ass end of our mascot, Brody, an Australian Labradoodle. He's the most mellow dog
And Toys!!!


As you can imagine, it's a pretty fun place to work at. In other news I have not watched anything since the last time we spoke, I'm almost done with the third book in the Shades of Magic Series, and a new character has made himself known to me in my WIP.*

So. What's new in your world?

* It's like, hey, by the way, I'm barging into this story and no, I can't see the snow on the mountains because I'm blind so you're going to have to make some adjustments in the way you describe things. Oh, and the name is Edward, Margrave of Sontheim.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

The problem with horses



my horse in Skyrim


The problem with horses is that you have to keep track of them.

Horses? What horses? I'm talking, of course, about the horses in my WIP, who not only help my characters traverse long distance in shorter times but also allow them carry more stuff, like weapons and armor. Without horses, my characters would only be able to travel about 20 miles a day, unencumbered. A horse, however, allows a person to travel up to 60 miles a day, again, unencumbered*, a big difference, especially when your characters are going from one end of the Duchy to the other. So. I need the horses. But. Then I have to keep track of them. Like the other night I had my characters heading down to the docks and about to find a place to stay for the night when I remembered the damn horses. So then I had to make sure I saw the horses taken care of before proceeding with the rest of what happens that night.


Meanwhile, bought Black Out and All Clear by Connie Willis, reading A Gathering of Shadows, book two in the Shades of Magic series, watched all but the last episode of Lost in Space on netflix and upped my highest game score on words with friends aka scrabble to 551.


* how do I know this? Dungeons & Dragons :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Excuses

Possibly some of you may have wondered where I've been. Possibly. For those that did, I offer the best excuse ever. I've been writing. For now the only thing I will tell you about it is the title: THE EXECUTIONER.

Aside from that there are a million things I've been thinking about telling you. Like the fact that I did actually read three books in March, per my goal. The third book I finished was A Man Called Ove, which I highly recommend. It gets five stars in my book, PLUS it has what I consider a perfect ending, ie, the right ending for the story (which is purely subjective, of course).

I also wanted to tell you about Ready Player One, the movie. I reviewed the book, here, and was very much looking forward to seeing what Spielberg would do. Sadly, I was disappointed, and my brother, who listened to the book on audio, agreed. They changed a lot, and for no reason either of us could discern. If you haven't read the book then I think you would like the movie. But if you have...well, it's a maybe.

Equally important is the fact that as I write these very words an event is happening you may not know about. What is it, you ask? Why, listen, friend, and I will tell you...it's called WriteClub

http://www.dlhammons.com/



...and I was a slush pile reader I'll have you know. What did that mean? It meant reading a whole lot of 500 word pieces of fiction and then trying to pick the best. No easy task but it was fun, and now the results of my hard work - along with all the other slush-pile readers - are being posted to determine who's the best. So. Go check it out and vote!

Last but not least is a British Show on Netflix, called Retribution. It's only four episodes, but...I'm giving it the Amazon five star rating of approval. It also has a perfect ending. Have you seen it? Watching anything good? Checked out WriteClub?

I'd say I'll be back soon, but, when the muse calls...
I'll leave you with a Sanibel pic

There were a lot of these flowers at one of the places my son and I walked. Extra pretty. No idea what they are.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Good Morning, Midnight - a review

One thing I love about a vacation is that I read a lot. I finished one book while I was in Sanibel, read two more, and started a fourth. Last week I told you about the book I finished. This time I'm going to tell you about the second book I read, Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.


This book was compared to Station Eleven (which I really liked), prompting me to buy the kindle version. The story is focused on two characters, Augustine, a brilliant astronomer posted at a research center in the Arctic, and Mission Specialist Sullivan aboard the Aether on its return flight from Jupiter. When alarming news reaches the Arctic outpost, all the scientist evacuate except for Augustine. Not long after he discovers a child and finds that the airwaves have gone completely silent. In space aboard the Aether, Mission Control has likewise gone silent, leaving Sullivan and the rest of the crew wondering if they can still can get home, and what will they find when they get there.

I was very invested in the mystery of what happened. Why has the whole world gone silent? Who is the child and how did she get there? Will Sully get home and find her daughter? The problem was I didn't like the characters enough. Augustine got no sympathy from me. As he considers his youth while he wonders what has happened, it's obvious he was a dick. Brilliant yes, but almost sociopathic in his his dealings with other people, especially women. Sully, on the other hand, was a much more likeable character and I wanted her to get home, but I still didn't love her like I do some characters, like Kell in A Darker Shade of Magic - I'd totally hang out with him, Sully and Augustine? No thanks.

My final complaint is a spoiler so I'm going to be non-specific. Not all mysteries are solved. If they had been maybe I would feel more satisfied. But I also suspect the author felt that that was the whole point because other reviews of the book loved that everything wasn't resolved. 

At any rate, excellent writing and I would still give this book a thumbs up.

Finally, I've heard a rumor of temps in the 50s this week and I'm wicked psyched.