Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties


 
http://www.capecodlittlewitch.com/
Happy Wednesday all and welcome to our second edition of First Impressions for the month. Today we have the first page of an MG book by Annie Palmer (writing at J Bean Palmer) and Chris Palmer. They happen to live in my home state of Maine, and if you click on the pic you can check out the first two books in The Cape Cod Witch Series. Dianne Salerni will also be critiquing this first page so do go over and see what she had to say. Meanwhile, here is page one:


THE CALL

Present Time, Scotland, the Castle

     Durst was not upset about being dead. Dang, I would be!
     But he was upset, and mightily so.
     His homeland was threatened.
     Not for the first time over the ages. But past threats had come from fierce soldiers he had fought with hot passion and honor. While the danger now came in the smooth words and a slippery smile from the one known as “Gorgeous.” And though Durst was now a cold ghost, it chilled him. (The editor in me wants to reword this paragraph like so:
Not for the first time, but past threats had come from fierce soldiers he had fought with hot passion and honor. Now the danger came came in the smooth words and a slippery smile from the one known as “Gorgeous.” And though Durst was now a cold ghost, it chilled him. 
      From a rough-hewn cavern beneath the dungeon, Durst’s vaporous form rose up, high above the tower walls. Below him the castle’s grey stones gleamed softly in the weak moonlight. A fog lifted slowly from the rocky cliff that bordered his land and overlooked a restless inland sea. I might cut one of the adverbs in the paragraph; probably slowly because I like the way the first sentence reads as is.
     An owl swooped past in search of prey. A lone wolf howled. And other creatures of the night went about their quiet business.
     This land must not be destroyed!
***
     Strengthened now, Durst returned to his solitary chamber deep underground.
     He rubbed the flat edge of his stone knife, back and forth, back and forth, against his pale blue cheek.
     Done with thinking he stabbed the blade into the air, and a single crash of thunder quaked the Highland dark, summoning two other unearthly forms of the castle. In their own times and in their own ways each of them had devoted their living days to these lands -- the proud mountains and their valleys of sweet heather, on which even a god could lie and rest his head and drink from bottomless clear lakes.
     The ghosts shifted in the small space, uncomfortable together. They were not friends. But they were bound by a love of their homeland that could not be bounded by a short earthly life.
     Now they needed one from the living world. One with the purpose ... and the magic ... to protect this sacred place.
     Durst took up the length of sapwood from the sacred alder tree on which he had carved the old symbols. He cut the final notch of a simple flute.
     The three touched, and a white-gold energy glowed and grew until their shimmering forms blazed in cold fire.
     Durst’s ancient ghostly lips met the living wood. He breathed in all their hopes and fears, and sent forth to the Four Winds a sweet, sharp song. His command was clear: “Carry here the youngest of the clan. The youngest Thistle.”
     A future was cast.


Aside from the few places I marked, I really like this beginning. Especially Durst who is mightily upset about being dead. That made me laugh, and I think kids will find it funny, too. I also like the way the danger is described so minimally (smooth words and a slippery smile) and so chillingly. If I'd gotten this book as a kid, you can bet I'd be turning the pages. 

But what do you folks think about this first page? Interested? Care to offer any suggestions? You know we like comments around here so I hope to hear your thoughts. And a big thank you to Annie and Chris for submitting :)

14 comments:

  1. I think that first line is awesome. Those are always the most difficult.

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  2. that's a great first sentence! Most people would buy the book based on it.

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  3. It's a GREAT first line!!!

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  4. And Happy Wednesday to you.

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  5. This is co-author Chris Palmer. Thank you Marcy for posting! And thank you to all who commented.

    When we thought about the first line and the beginning, as a comment, we found wed already written it, somewhere in the first draft (or some draft, over the three years we wrote it). But our attention came back to this as the actual beginning of the narrative. And we liked it, too!

    Thank you again for the comments!

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  6. This is co-author Chris Palmer. Thank you Marcy for posting! And thank you to all who commented.

    When we thought about the first line and the beginning, as a comment, we found wed already written it, somewhere in the first draft (or some draft, over the three years we wrote it). But our attention came back to this as the actual beginning of the narrative. And we liked it, too!

    Thank you again for the comments!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is co-author Chris Palmer. Thank you Marcy for posting! And thank you to all who commented.

    When we thought about the first line and the beginning, as a comment, we found wed already written it, somewhere in the first draft (or some draft, over the three years we wrote it). But our attention came back to this as the actual beginning of the narrative. And we liked it, too!

    Thank you again for the comments!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is co-author Chris Palmer. Thank you Marcy for posting! And thank you to all who commented.

    When we thought about the first line and the beginning, as a comment, we found wed already written it, somewhere in the first draft (or some draft, over the three years we wrote it). But our attention came back to this as the actual beginning of the narrative. And we liked it, too!

    Thank you again for the comments!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think it's a great first line too. So unexpected! There are some places I would tighten and clean up a bit. That paragraph about the past threats seems like backstory and it may not even be necessary. I'd rather know about the current threat.

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  10. The first few lines are a great hook, but after that it descends into adjective peppered "telling" and never recovers. Think of a way to show the conflict from Gorgeous with people, dialog and action.

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  11. I left another comment over at In High Spirits, but now that I reread it I'm wondering if I wouldn't like to know more about "Gorgeous" up front. What kind of a threat is Gorgeous that it warrants such emotion and the summoning of so much power? Nice start! Christy

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  12. Thank you everyone for commenting! I appreciate it! And I'm sure Annie and Chris appreciate it. Tomorrow I'll have installment #3 of First Impressions and I hope you'll all come back :)

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