Friday, January 10, 2014

Living RunAway

Our last First Impression for the month comes from  Tammy Theriault who is offering up the first page of her YA novel, LIVING RUNAWAY. Do go see what Dianne Salerni thought about this page, and please offer up any suggestions or comments you might have for Tammy. Next month First Impressions will be back and if you'd like to see your first page here, I urge you to submit. We still have two openings left...

Chapter 1
            “Mom?” I called out, tossing a stack of envelopes towards the kitchen island, spreading them like wings in midair. “I got the mail!”
            Walking to my room, ready to dump another bad year of school, I heard a distant smack to the fake tile echoing against rose colored walls.
            “Crap.” I turned, finding half the mail spread out on the linoleum. “Seriously? Could this stupid day get any worse?”
            I gathered up the pile, placing it back on the counter just as a manila envelope peeked out from the clutter.
             “Mom?” I called out again. “I’m home! Half day, remember?”
             “I’m in the bathroom!” She yelled from down the hall.
            I quickly pulled the large envelope out and turned it over. My name was typed on a white label, but with no return address. I flipped it over a few times more to find the sender, but all I could see was a round bulge sliding up and down inside.
            And it was for me.
            “Yes!” I said,dropping my backpack on the floor. “Finally.”
            I stared at the envelope held in my now eager hands, anticipating what was inside, knowing Mom had told me to stop going through the mail. But this was different. This was the one I was waiting for.
            I smiled, ready to tear into the gift and see what Dad used as his I-didn’t-forget birthday present.
            I tore open the flap, trying to think where Mom said he went for his business trip this time. Where ever this was from, I was more stoked that he remembered my eighteenth birthday was coming up. Through all his recent late night drunken stupors, drowning in bourbon, late night TV and what he called the stresses of a new management job in sales—he remembered.
            Reaching half way inside, I pulled out a pink sparkly card announcing my birthday had arrived. I opened it to find nothing more than a typed note.
            “Happy Birthday, Emily. I’m sure Daddy would’ve loved to see his little princess.”
            I read the line again, unsure of why “see” was capitalized, but dismissed it, throwing the card on the counter. Shaking the envelope upside down, readying my hand beneath it for my present, a cold Saran Wrap wad fell into my palm, trickling bits of red juices from its open creases. Nice description.
            “What the…”
            I squinted hard to see inside of it without opening the plastic wrapping, trying not to get more of the liquid on me. But all I could make out was something round…with a pink limp stem…and a dark…blue…iris.

First Impression: Huh. What is going on here? Girl about to turn eighteen receives what she hopes will be cool b-day present from her erstwhile, hard drinking dad gets a limp iris instead. What does it mean? Why did her dad send her this? And why does her mom want her to quit going through the mail? I am very curious! 

The only thing I might add to this page is a little more about our narrator. It sounds like this is the last day of high school for Emily which means she's about to graduate and move on into adulthood. What are her thoughts? Does she have plans? Hopes? Dreams? I don't need all of those, but I'm one of those readers who connects more with character than the plot (though I want that to be interesting and fun, too...), which means I need something to connect me to Emily, make me care about her, make me want to follow her and see what's next.  

Now. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? How could Tammy make this better? You know we like comments so I hope you'll offer yours :) 


  1. She got his eye in the mail - whoa! What a way to plunge right into the story. Excellent start, Tammy!

    1. omg - I didn't realize it was a human iris!!!

  2. I'd probably start the chapter with some description of the girl coming in, not with the dialogue from the start. And there were too many bad words in one sentence for my taste at the very beginning - crap, stupid.... no need for that.
    The rest is too creepy for a YA novel, but you all already know I do not approve of morbid things in books for teens and kids.

  3. Interesting story premise, and a great page one hook.

  4. And thanks to all of you for coming to comment!

  5. I already commented on Dianne's blog, but it cracked me up that you didn't realize what kind of "iris" was in that envelope, Marcy.

    I think this is a super start to a story. It certainly caught my attention. (Or should I say... "eye"?)

    1. I can't believe I didn't realize it either! Maybe the pink stem threw me...but really, pink? Not to mention the liquid...!

  6. Great start to the story. I left my comments on Dianne's blog.

  7. This definitely brings up a lot of story questions which is great and has me wondering. As soon as the weirdness with "see" in the note was mentioned, I suspected the father had been kidnapped or something!!!

  8. I also commented on Dianne's blog, but I agree that something, even a little snippet more about the narrator would give the reader greater understanding and reason to care about what's going on -- not that receiving a human eye in the mail is something to blow off!

  9. Despite the technical flaws, (overuse of -ing verbs, repetitive sentence structures, missing commas, incorrect capitalization -- the "She" in the dialog tag -- and a misspelling, "halfway," to name a few), I liked the voice, the combination of dialog, action, description and backstory, and I think the mystery of the b-day gift is a good one. Very intriguing. Good luck!


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