Monday, June 3, 2013

first impressions - SECOND DEATH

Today I want to thank Gwen Gardner for submitting the first page of her novella, SECOND DEATH, a YA Paranormal Cozy Mystery. It's the sequel to Givin' Up The Ghost, which is available to purchase here. You can find Gwen at her blog. My comments will be in purple and I hope you'll add your own and/or pay a visit to Dianne Salerni who is critiquing this same first page on her blog. If you would like your first page critiqued, just check out the instructions on my sidebar, top right.

“Are you sure this is the right address?” Badger scanned the tall buildings scowling down on us, and in particular the one we stood before. An old Victorian industrial covered with centuries of grime and soot, the rusted lock melded closed, the key long gone. Love this short description which instantly gives me a picture of the place in just a few words. 

“Bloody hell,” Simon whispered. “You don’t expect us to go in there?” His voice cracked at the last.

I shone my flashlight down at the paper in my hand and nodded. “This is it all right. Can’t you feel it?”
Simon gaped. “I’ll tell you what I feel. I feel this is a bloody daft idea and any sane person would be at home in bed in the middle of the bloody night.” He jammed his hands into jeans pockets, his blond hair a fluffy cloud against the dark and mist. He shot me a mutinous glare through amber-brown eyes.

I had to agree. The gray fog-filled street looked a friendlier alternative to the dingy, decrepit building. But insane or not, we had to go in. Never mind that we were going to hell for breaking and entering, not to mention the possibility of jail time.

“Hey, can you lot keep it down a bit?” Badger hissed. “I don’t fancy going to jail tonight.” With a last covert glance over his shoulder, Badger pulled a pair of bolt cutters from under his jacket. One snip snapped the lock in two.

I held my breath at the resulting echo, announcing our indiscretion down the street like an old gossip. “Come on, let’s get inside before anyone sees us.” I struggled with the door handle before it came free. Another loud screech echoed down the cavernous street. We quickly stepped inside. The dark corridor was silent as a long neglected grave. The only sound, my heartbeat in my ears.

“I’ll go first,” said Badger. “Indigo will be with me.” He entwined his fingers with mine in a tight grasp. “You take the rear, Simon.”  

 Simon mumbled to himself, but loud enough for us to hear. “Yeah, thanks a lot. ‘Cause you know they always grab the last bloke in line in those scary movies and he’s never seen or heard from again. Unless of course, he’s a zombie.” I'd probably write this like this: "Yeah, thanks a lot," Simon grumbled, "'Cause you know..."

“Shhhh. I can’t hear with you back there grumbling.I sputtered and flailed both hands around my head trying to rid my lips and face of clinging cobwebs as we made our way down the corridor. This dialogue tag feels a little awkward to me, esp. the word sputtered, which I associate with someone who can't quite get the words out because they're too upset or defensive. Also there should be a comma after grumbling, not a period.
“I don’t look good in blood, all right?” he hissed back. 

Okay, so not a whole lot to crit. There's a couple of spots I might reword but that's really just preference, or style. I like that I can hear the English accent so know that our setting is likely England. I do wonder if it's necessary to have read Givin' Up The Ghost in order to know who Badger and Indigo are. Does SECOND DEATH stand on its own or is the series meant to be read in order? The only thing that bothers me a little is that I don't know who these characters are except by what I read in the blurb at Amazon, so I wonder if a small explanation somewhere in here, telling the reader Who Indigo is and what she and her pals are planning. This might actually increase the tension if the reader knows that something even more awful than jail awaits them if they're caught. Of course, I also realize that all this might shortly be explained was I able to read on. Which I would have. In fact, having read the blurb I now want to read the first book first and then work my way through :)


Oh, and I just have to mention that James Garcia Jr.'s' book, Seeing Ghosts, releases today... 


Congratulations James!


  1. No, it was really clean.
    After reading through all of her snippets she posted for the Challenge, I think it's possible to read the second one without reading the first. Something about Gwen's characters is just familiar and comfortable, and it's easy to slide into the story at any point.

  2. love the cover for SEEING GHOSTS

  3. I might suggest flipping the first paragraph so that we begin with the character instead of the dialogue. But this feels like a cozy mystery with some great images and intriguing hints of conflict.

  4. Hey Marcy, thanks so much for having me here today! I appreciate your input. I will definitely go over the dialongue/tags more closely.

  5. Thanks, Alex. Doing the Challenge actually helped with writing the novella.

  6. Martina, I can see your point and will definitely consider switching it up.

  7. The English accent definitely comes through in the writing. That's a difficult thing to accomplish. Shows the writer has a lot of skill.

  8. *blushes* Thanks, Michael! I read a lot of English mysteries, so I do try to mimic :)

  9. Yeah except for your few crits, I didn't really see a lot wrong with that page either. :-)

  10. I really like this! Commented over at Dianne's so I'll talk about something different here. :)

    Marcy, I have to disagree about the comma after grumbling. She's not sputtering the words. She's sputtering and flailing to get the cobwebs off. At least, that's how I read it! And I thought it was a great description. Maybe sputtering isn't the right word, but how do you describe what you do with your mouth when you feel cobwebs on it?

    1. Oh! That's an excellent point, Joanne. And I'm glad you disagree because it shows why it's best to get multiple opinions on your work. I also think your explanation makes sense.

    2. Thank you Joanne and Marcy. I did mean she sputtered while trying to get the cobwebs off her face. I should make it clearer.

  11. Wow, terrific voice and atmosphere. Right offhand, the only thing I'd change is the first sentence. Not sure dialog is the best way to start. Maybe the setting sentence first, followed by the dialog.

    Otherwise, great job! I'd definitely keep reading.

  12. Thanks, Susan. I think someone else mentioned that, as well. It's an easy fix :)


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