Friday, November 7, 2014

First Impressions - Nightstand

Our final First Impression comes from Christine Danek, who makes our third repeat offender! Hopefully that means Diane and I are doing something right if peeps keep coming back for more, right? Anyway here is the first page of
Author Dianne Salerni is also critiquing this first page so don't forget to check out her thoughts here.  


   The sheets are slightly chilled when I stretch my hand under the pillow. I crouch over her and lay my palm as flat as I can so I don’t disturb the sleeping child. The moonstone (what moonstone? Is it in the narrator's hands?) light casts a bluish hue all over the room and across the side of my clients (client's) face. Her features are small, delicate, and her hair is either brown or red. It’s hard to tell in the dim light. An ink black streak runs through her natural color. I’m not sure how the sorceress has gotten to her because this is the first tooth this little girl lost. Poor thing was left in an orphanage in Rhanem. Her room is bare except for a bed and a tiny table with an oil lamp. And the blanket and curtains are tattered and dirty. A greasy smell rises from her. She hasn’t bathed recently. 
   There it is.
   My fingertips rub across something hard and tiny. Her tooth. I slide it out and plop it in a small black bag marked Mirim Clemins. (I wonder if this should be in italics? Does it mean something special?) On the back of the suede pouch is my name—Piper Stev. I have to burn this as soon as I get back to the cove so the sorceress doesn’t get a hold of it. I tighten my jacket belt. The straps to my small crossbow itch under my sleeve.
   Gently, I slip a small gold coin under her pillow. For a moment, I watch her breathe. Her chest rises and falls. She’s so innocent. Too bad she has to grow up with Sorceress Anel’s nonsense. (the word nonsense makes me thing this sorceress isn't terribly dangerous. If she is, I might use a stronger word) I don’t normally linger this long watching, but there’s something about her. I’m drawn to her. Part of me wants to hug her, hold her tight, and let her feel safe--even take her with me. But I can’t.
   I’m supposed to be in and out just like my mentor taught me. I release a quiet breath. The fur around my collar sways when the air hits it. The wind outside rattles the glass on in the window. The clouds take on a reddish tone as the deeper night comes. I haven’t seen the sun in years.
   As I turn, something slips across my mouth. Hot, sweaty and rough. A hand. I hold a yelp in my throat. The smell of leather rises between me and my captor.
   “Don’t say a word.” A low male raspy voice whispers in my ear. He pushes me toward the closet.

My thoughts: First my apologies (again) for being late although this time it had nothing to do with power outages - or maybe it did since my brain simply forgot what I was supposed to do last night BEFORE going to bed. Duh! Anyway. This is an interesting first page, a little bit creepy and a lot curious. Who's the little orphan girl? Is she important? And who is our narrator? The tooth fairy? That was my first thought except in the book Daughter of Smoke and Bone teeth have a more ominous use which makes me wonder whether the same is true here. I also want to know who this sorceress is. Is she someone to be feared?

I like the atmosphere (good use of senses - we get sight, smell, and sound to help us 'see') of this first page and the mystery of what's going on but for me what's missing is more of an emotional connection. All we know about our narrator is that he/she steals teeth (unless she is the tooth fairy in which case she's merely making a trade), hasn't seen the sun in years, and is a little bit worried about the orphan girl - but not enough to do anything about it. I want to know more about how our narrator feels about what he/she is doing. Is it a job? Does she have to do it? Does she like doing it? Is there an alternative? Something else she thinks about? I don't think there needs to be a lot added here, but I'd like something to help me know who this narrator is, how she thinks, feels.

All that said, I would definitely turn the page to find out who the person is taking our narrator toward the closet! Yikes!

Readers, what do you think of this first page? Any comments or suggestions to help Christine?


  1. Great atmosphere. Now I want to know who grabbed her.

  2. This is really intriguing...a play on the tooth fairy? My only comment is that there are a few places where things drag as the narrator tells us what she/he is thinking..."I don't normally linger this long...Part of me wants to hold her..." There are feelings here, and a connection, but I think there could be a way to write this that doesn't tell us everything, but shows us. There is really good description of place and senses in this page.

  3. I haven't read the first incarnations as they appeared here, but I think this is coming along nicely. Just a bit more tweaking and it will be where the author wants it.

  4. Thanks so much, Marcy! This is so helpful and I can't wait to dive back in and make it stronger. Thanks to Liza, Robin and Alex for their thoughts to. Very helpful. Thanks so much!

  5. The writing itself is fine, and at the end, I definitely want to continue reading to find out who pushed the narrator into the closet, but the setting doesn't ground me. I don't know where I am, when I am, or who the narrator and child are. I'm sure all these questions will be answered later, but as a beginning point, I feel lost.

  6. I most definitely want to know who the captor is - and what his intentions are.

  7. she lost me with the tooth LOL

  8. Agreed on the moonstone. Maybe say something like "The moonstone in my other hand casts [. . .]" or wherever it is. I do question how much we need to know about the little girl. Will she come into play later? Will her details be important concerning the narrator's characterization? Is her history why the narrator is lingering? Otherwise, that section could probably be trimmed a tad, and the hand could come around her face. Maybe she could let us know then she lingered too long? Of course, if the little girl is important (or her history), none of my comments matter!

  9. I enjoyed this! Excellent atmosphere -- full of ominous creepiness. I also liked the characterization and how you wove in the backstory. It wasn’t overdone, but was just enough to whet my appetite. The moonstone thing confused me as I first though that was what was under the pillow. I was also confused by the word “client.” Client implies the child hired her, but as she’s careful not to wake her, the child obviously has no idea what’s happening, so isn’t a client in the usual sense. Perhaps you could use charge, case, target, subject, or assignee. The hook at the end was great. Good luck!

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  11. I know I want to keep reading. Nice job, Christine. And Marcy's suggestions should make it stronger.

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