Friday, May 3, 2013

first impressions - Peaceful Acres



Our second submission for the month comes from Jennifer Kirkeby. You can find Jennifer at her blog. This is the first page of her YA novel, PEACEFUL ACRES. My comments will be in purple and I hope you'll add yours. Don't forget to check out what Dianne Salerni had to say at her blog, In High Spirits.






As soon as the front doors slid open, I fully expected my nose hairs to disintegrate from the sharp smell of pee (I think a boy would use the word piss) and Lysol.(Good sensory engagement) That’s how I remembered it from when I saw Grandma in one of these places. God was that depressing. Sad and lonely faces in all stages of decay, slumped over in wheelchairs or forever condemned to hospital beds while staring off into space. And they were the lucky ones. Give me a semi-truck coming eighty-miles-an-hour straight at me any day of the week. This, however, definitely sounds more male than female - imo.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the lobby. Not only did it look like an expensive hotel, but once I stopped holding my breath, the only smell I noticed was the faint scent of some kind of flower. Of course I still wasn’t convinced. After all, this was my punishment, not a vacation.Community service perhaps? What did he do? I'm curious...
“David Ackerman?” said the girl behind the desk.
“Yeah.”
“Welcome to Peaceful Acres.”
As she walked towards me, I was hit by unworldly beauty. I don’t mean she was just hot, she was pure perfection. A goddess.  Long brown hair and matching eyes. Confident. Spectacular smile. I mean spectacular. I looked at her name tag. Danielle Oleander. She offered her hand as she introduced herself, but if it wasn’t for that name tag winking at me, I probably would have forgotten it. She smelled like lilacs. And had that music been playing since I walked in? I'm no expert, but this doesn't quite sound like a YA guy to me. Let's hope some actual guys show up to offer their opinion.
“Does it hurt?” she asked.
At first I thought she was talking about my hand she was still shaking. Then I realized she was looking closely at my right eye. What's wrong with his eye? Bruised? Do you want to tell us here or save it? Just asking...
“No. Well, a little.” I tried for sympathy in case she wanted to take care of me. lol.
She let my hand go. “Sounds like you were lucky. Your mom said it was quite a car accident.”
“Yeah, it was.” Great. What else did my mom tell her? That I had totaled my sister's car on purpose? Ah. And why would he do that? I'm even more curious.
“I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Thanks,” I squeaked. Again, this sounds more like a girl than a guy. Not that guys don't squeak upon occasion but I think squeaking is more common among girls.
“Follow me, David.”
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. Famous last words.


My first impression is that this sounds more like a girl's voice than a boy's. But. I do like the voice. I get a good sense of who this person is by the word choices and inner dialogue. I also like the the hints of what happened before to lead up to David arriving at Peaceful Acres; an accident, possible community service, and some sort of injury. These things all make me want to read on and find out what happened and more importantly, why. Why did David crash his sister's car on purpose? The other thing that makes me very curious is the title. Peaceful Acres. I get a huge sense of foreboding, which is emphasized by the last line, "Maybe this won't be so bad after all," and I have a strong suspicion that it is indeed going to be bad. The question is, how? I don't know about you guys but I want to read on and find out!

25 comments:

  1. Voice is a mixture. It sounded adult at the beginning and in places more girl than boy. I certainly wouldn't notice the smell of flowers.
    Description parts are very vivid.
    And yes, go with piss.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. I appreciate your feedback! I'm definitely going with piss. ;-)

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  2. I do notice the smell of lilacs... possibly because I have a forest of it under my window :)

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    1. You're lucky, Dezmond. I'm looking at snow!

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  3. The voice had me confused and if its YA ...the voice needs to be a little younger.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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    1. Thank you for your feedback, Shelly. I appreciate it!

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  4. Scent is a really strong sensation to go with for description, but I wonder if having two such potent mentions of it all in the space of a couple paragraphs is too much? Just a thought.

    And, ooh, I hope you are enjoying Bring Up the Bodies, Marcy! Just as good as Wolf Hall.

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    1. Really good point, L.G. I will definitely think about that! Thanks!

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. I love it when authors appeal to many senses.

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  7. Thank you Marcy for your wonderful feedback! I'm so glad that you wanted to read on. I appreciate your critique so much. You gave me a lot of fantastic things to ponder as I continue.

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  8. Maybe I read too much paranormal but I thought we were going to find out this guy was dead and entering Hell, until we got to the "...your mom said..." part.

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    1. You are very intuitive, LD. It's not Hell, and David's not dead...let's just say Peaceful Acres is definitely not what it sounds like!

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    2. I had a feeling there was more to Peaceful Acres...

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  9. I love the sensory details. It does seem to have a mix of female and male voice--though I believe when I'm reading that it's a male perspective.

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    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I appreciate it.

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  10. Intriguing. I'd like to see some of the language tightened up. "I expected my nose hairs to disintegrate from the smell of piss/pee and Lysol, the aroma that gagged me when I used to visit grandma at one of these places. So imagine my suprise..." I was going to ask that you be more specific about the details...what kind of flowers did he smell...but he's a boy, would he know? But then he did smell "lilacs." Perhaps at the first flower mention, you can focus on another detail he'd be clearer on. Also, when he describes Danielle, he uses generalities. She looks like a Goddess? What what characteristics does she have that make her look like that? No, it doesn't have to be a complete image, brown hair, blue eyes, etc. But we need something more specific so we can conjure our own image. Perhaps the way she walks, or how her clothes fit her, or the dimple in her cheek...just more specific.

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    1. Thank you, Liza! Great feedback. I agree that there needs to be more specificity about Danielle.

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  11. This post by Livia Blackburne might help you with the male POV:

    http://blog.liviablackburne.com/2012/05/operation-chest-hair-part-i-in-which-i.html

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    1. Thank you, Patchi! I will definitely check out this post.

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  12. That is definitely an attention-getting first sentence, with the nose hairs disintegrating. :) Hmm, not sure most guys would know what lilacs smell like. I like the voice too; intriguing sample!

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    1. Thanks so much for the comments, Carol!

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  13. Mighty fine intro! I have to agree that most boys would have only a vague notion as to what lilacs are, much less how they smell. Flowers in general would work better.

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