Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hook Victorine #11

Here's the first 400 words from Secrets in the Shadows, by T.L. Haddix.

As dawn reached its fingers out over the Midwest, the sun creating pink trails that stretched toward the rivers and fields, the woman’s sleep was disturbed by haunting images of quiet violence. The dream started innocuously enough, as she was walking through a sunlit meadow, the warm summer breezes gently teasing her hair away from her face. As she turned her face toward the sky, eyes closed against the glare of the sun, a sudden chill coursed across her skin, and a shadow fell across her face. Opening her eyes, she was startled to see that ugly black clouds had covered the sky from horizon to horizon, roiling, churning things, filled with a malevolence she could sense in her core.

I like the author’s writing style. The descriptions are poetic, and yet I don’t feel like they’re overwritten. The thing that I would warn against is beginning with a dream. I know I’ve already covered that. If you didn’t read my other post about it, here’s the recap. Starting with a dream is done a lot. And I mean a lot. This is the fourth book in my Hook Victorine that has started with a dream. So, just be aware it’s done quite a bit. I won’t mention it again, I’ll go on and let you know if I’m hooked based on the premise of the story.

I also feel distanced from the character, in this narrated point of view. I’d rather be in her point of view, know her name, and feel what she feels. This is something else I see a lot, and I personally dislike it. However, this is just my opinion, so you might find others who really like that distanced point of view in the beginning.

Turning, she ran toward the house, the place that had always been a safe haven. As she reached the worn steps, she stopped, hesitating and confused. A growing sense of unease was moving through her, telling her to not open the door, to not go in the house. Unable to stop her body, she watched as she raised her hand and opened the door, stepping over the threshold and into the gloomy darkness.

I would suggest a little bit of tweaking here. “A growing sense of unease was moving through her,” I would change to “A growing sense of unease moved through her.” I am curious as to why she’s feeling this unease. I’ll read on to see what happens.

Suddenly, as dreams often do, she was in another place, but still aware of the growing storm outside the windows, as well as of the fear that was growing inside her body.

Just a nit pick here, but earlier she had a growing sense of unease, and how the storm is growing and the fear is growing. I might suggest a rewording, it just jumped out at me. As far as the story goes, I like the sense of fear, and I’m wondering what is going to happen next.

It was night, and the lightning was flashing, but all she could hear was her heartbeat and the sound of her own breathing.

Another nit pick. Instead of saying “It was night,” I would show that it’s night by describing the dark. Also, the lightning was flashing is passive, I would make it more active. Here’s what I would do to tweak it: “The lightning flashed across the pitch black sky, but all she heard was her heartbeat and the sound of her own breathing.”

Her pulse was racing, pounding in her ears, and her breath was sawing in and out of her lungs as though she had run for miles.

Her pulse raced, pounding in her ears. I’ll stop taking out the passive ‘was’ phrases, I’m starting to annoy myself. I’m picking at nits. I’ll keep reading and let you know if I’m hooked.

As she looked around her, she discovered that she was standing in her own room, now faded and gray, the surfaces covered in dust. Staring at the bed, she realized there was someone in it, cowering under the covers. She could see the bedspread shaking with tremors, and she knew that whoever the person was in the bed, they were terrified. A dim light slowly grew across the bed, light from the hall that was quickly extinguished as whoever had entered her room closed the door rapidly behind them.

I don’t think I like someone coming in the bedroom at night. I think this might be a predator of some sort. It gives me a very creepy feeling. If this is what the author is going for, they’re doing a great job.

As her breathing and pulse quieted down, she was finally able to hear the sounds outside her body, and as she listened, heavy boot steps made their way across the room from the door.

Yep, I don’t like the guy with the boots. Okay, here’s my assessment. I would keep reading to see if they creepy guy was going to kill the person shaking in their bed. If this turns out to be a story about the molestation of a child, I wouldn’t continue to read. That’s just my personal preference though. I don’t like to read about horrible things happening to children. But on the upswing, I do think the author has done a good job with creating a creepy mood for this book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Winners!

Thank you everyone who entered my contest!  I put everyone's names in a bowl and my daughter drew three of them out.

And the winners are... Kippoe... Stormy... and Linda!


Now I just need your email addresses.  Just click this link, fill out the form letting me know you won, and I'll send you the .prc file of my book.

Thank you!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Free Kindle Book Giveaway

Hi everyone!

I'm giving away three free Mobi (.prc) files of my book, Not What She Seems.  This can be read on your Kindle.  (You are not obligated to review it after you've read it.)

The only thing you have to do to enter, is post a comment on here!  I'll throw all the names into a hat and draw one out tomorrow the 3rd of August.  I'll do the drawing in the afternoon, and then announce the three winners.  You have to use your name when you post, obviously.  Then you send me your email address and I'll email you the book.

Not sure if you'd like my book?  Here's the blurb:

Steven Ashton, a billionaire from New York, and Emily Grant, on the run from the law... and when they meet he can’t help falling for her. What he doesn’t know is that interfering in her life will put his own life in danger.

Not What She Seems holds you in suspense from the moment you begin down the path of murder and romance.
When billionaire Steven Ashton couldn’t stand his high society social life anymore, he left the stress of New York on a vacation for his soul. The need to meet real down to earth people lead him to a small Nebraska town he remembered visiting as a child. He didn’t want to lie about who he was, but he couldn’t exactly tell them the truth.

Emily could have easily fallen in love with Steven, under different circumstances, but her past was catching up with her and she needed a new life. If the authorities found out about her, she could lose the one thing that meant everything, her four year old son.

Not What She Seems is approximately 67,000 words long. (326 pages in paperback.)

This book is a "sweet" romantic suspense, appropriate for all ages. 

Leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing.

Thanks for participating!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hook Victorine #10

Here's the first 400 words from Eland Dances, not yet published, by Philip van Wulven.

I have no cover art, since it's not yet published, so I'll just jump right on in.

Chapter 1 - Welcome to the Jungle -

I froze in the chair. There was a lion right there in the room, on the other side of the table.

Hmm, interesting beginning. It makes me wonder… what kind of room? A dining room, since there’s a table? I’ll keep reading to see.

Just what I’d been warned about, but hadn’t believed.

So unlikely, even in Africa. Here, in Heathrow, in a bar that smelt of stale beer, cigarettes, and damp socks, it was plain unbelievable.

Ah, a bar. This is interesting. I’d like to see the lion a little better, does he look like he’s going to strike?

I tried not to move. Maybe he’d ignore me.

No such luck. His shoulder muscles bunched and his eyes blazed red as he looked at me.

Perfect. This is just what I wanted. You’ve got me hooked. I want to know what he’s going to do now.

Avoid eye contact. Don’t challenge them. I looked down at my beer.

Since it’s just one lion, I’d say, “Don’t challenge him,” but that’s nit picky.

“I'm in charge at the loony bin, Pete. My cabbagepatch. Like when the loonies get the s***s I take care of things. Fix 'em up. They're always so friggin' grateful.”

I’m a bit confused. Who is speaking? And why are they speaking so casually with a lion in the room? Don’t they see the lion?

I looked up and saw just plain old Big Sid hunched forward over the formica table, pint in paw, with the light from the ‘DEPARTURES’ sign outside the bar reflected on his bottle-bottom thick specs.

Ah, I fell for it. There’s no lion… only Big Sid. Well, of course I’m relieved for the MC, but also disappointed. I was hoping for a tense lion charging moment.

His shoulder length blond straggle was backlit by light reflected off the mirror behind the counter, so just for a moment his silhouette, combined with his attitudes, had shown him as what Gran called a man possessed by a lion spirit.

He chugged beer, burped, and carried on. “The doctors think they know it all. Nobody else could do their job. Bloody power freaks don't want us to do medical stuff, even simple things. They keep it all complicated. Keep it all scientific and that. I mean, look at how they treat someone who's dehydrated. Simple, all they need is fluids in them.”

This is mildly interesting to me, the voice is good. I’m still not as hooked as I would have been if there were a real lion about to charge. But I do like the writing style. And of course, everything I say is just my personal opinion.

I looked down at my mug and tried to keep my face expressionless, but couldn't help thinking, ‘Power-freak yourself. Bloody predator. Everyone’s just prey, ego-food on the hoof to you.’ I wanted to say that, but I knew there was no way a guy like Sid, five years older and a foot taller, could let me score any points.

So I played along. “Go on then. Tell us, Sid. What's wrong with how they treat that, then?”

“They stick 'em in a bed, with needles and tubes and one of those drip things. Scientific. Now we all, us orderlies, we know that's not needed. Then too, we like to keep things cool, you know. There's stuff that's better kept quiet.”

“Now why would that be, in a nice place like the Hertfordshire Psych.?”

Hmm, now that part is interesting to me. What should be kept quiet? This implies that bad stuff is happening over there, and it would make me read more. Great! My only suggestion would be to move that part up. I’m not sure the whole lion fake out is needed to grasp someone’s attention. But you did hook me in the end!

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