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First Page: unpublished manuscript – contemporary

First Page: unpublished manuscript – contemporary

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


Fall had arrived early in western North Carolina, bringing with it invigorating breezes. But inside a tatty office building in downtown Asheville, The Bugle’s stuffy newsroom reeked of press ink, abandoned pizza boxes and drugstore cologne spilled months before by a despairing City reporter as he packed up his belongings. Dust coated darkened light fixtures and broken file cabinets. Cobwebs draped over forgotten spaces. And in a lonely conference room, Senior Copyeditor Ginna Bristol sneezed as she sat across from her boss, who, scratching out what must be his two-hundredth cat doodle on a yellow legal pad, allowed a “gesundheit” before continuing on about the future of the newspaper.

“So, you understand,” he finally said, lifting his eyes from the artwork, but not quite meeting her own.

She internalized a sigh. “Understand what, Lenny?”

“Ginna, please,” he said. “It’s not about good or bad work. It’s about… journalism. Democracy. I mean, making sure this newspaper continues. For that to happen, well, without one particular person, will anyone really notice?”

“I’m totally lost.”

Unblinking, he tapped the pen with a single, final thud and looked directly into her blue eyes. “You’ll find another job.”

She flopped back, nearly tipping over in the frail office chair. When he lurched forward to steady her, his red pen struck hard against the table, soared and targeted her heart.

Frowning, she looked from her white shirt to him. “Lenny! For crying out loud!”

“I’ve heard club soda… .”

She rose from the wobbling chair. “I’m being laid off!?”

He stood and shakily re-capped his pen. “It’s not personal.”

“Sensei! Why’d you dump this hot mess on me?” Renée, a Junior Copyeditor at the adjoining desk, called out when Ginna returned.

Newsroom staff was about a quarter the size it was just a few years before, but everyone had bunched their desks together in the center of the large, open room. Safety in numbers, maybe. The click-click-click typing of all those still-eager, or desperate, reporters and editors created a cacophony in Ginna’s ears. She squinted at her co-worker. “Huh?”

“Sensei! This freelancer’s story. It stinks.” Renée watched her for a moment, then took a bite of apple. “What’d Lenny want?” she said with her mouth full. “Man, what a toadface.”

Ginna’s head pounded, along with her eardrums. She opened a desk drawer as a nearby reporter asked her, again, how to type an em dash. She gave her head a quick shake. “Don’t. Re-write the sentence,” she said and grabbed her bag from between a stack of old newspapers and reference books.

Renée set down the apple, stood and ambled to Ginna’s side. “He’s not making you work another double, is he? That piece of … .”

Ginna grabbed a bottle of ibuprofen from her purse. Empty. “I need some air.” She brushed past Renée and headed for the door.

Renée followed. “Word. But when you get back, I need you to edit the story behind me. It cannot go to print like this or The Toad will axe me.”

Voice cracking, Ginna said over her shoulder, “Watch it, Grasshopper. He’s going to hear you one of these days.”

 

On the sidewalk outside of the building, the man she ran smack into apologized to her, presumably because he couldn’t imagine what else to say to a woman with tears streaming over her cheeks. Steadying herself after the crash, she peered ahead at Battery Park Avenue, which appeared coated in petroleum jelly. She spotted her car and ran to it. “It’s not personal,” she croaked as she yanked open the door. Boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, the Civic responded. “Oh, shut it,” she said and tossed her purse on the passenger seat. But the car didn’t listen. “Dammit!” Fumbling with the key fob, she pressed button after button while from inside her bag her cell phone trilled. “Oh, for fuc… ,” she growled.

She pressed her fingers against her temples and willed the noise to stop and then, just like that, there was quiet. She leaned her head against the cool glass of her door window and closed her eyes. “Dammit. Dammit. Dammit,” she said softly. A few moments passed before her cell rang again. She retrieved it and glanced at the screen. “Not now, Renée,” she whispered and declined the call, but it only rang again. Her best friend, Melinda, this time. She took in a deep breath before answering.

“Hey.”

“Congratulations!”

“Come again?”

“Renée called me.”

So much for confidentiality. Renée must have spouted off to Lenny, who then filled her in.

“News really does travel fast. I only found out like thirteen minutes ago.”

“They’re wankers, but they just did you a favor.”

“Sure. Who needs a paycheck? Or a career?”

“Dude, this is an opportunity.”

“Mel, this is a rejection. And you know what day this is? Makes it even worse.”

“Um. August 29th?”

Ginna’s father had died fourteen years ago. Aside from the sadness over his death, his illness had ended graduate school for her, though Mel never understood why. But Ginna had had responsibilities. Mel was right, though. Long in the past. Of course, it was also the anniversary of her divorce. One year.

“Hold on. You’re not talking about the end of the un-love affair?”

“OK, OK.”

“I mean, the job, yeah, I can see the sucky parts of that ending. But your marriage?”

“I said OK, Mel.”

“Seriously, that outfit you wore to Carly’s birthday party is reason to mourn. But Darrin?”

“Hey! I just lost my job, you jerk.”

“That job was bullshit and you know it. As was your marriage.”

“Is this the kind of counseling you give your clients?”

“Only the ones I’ve known for twenty years. Look, I have some time. Let’s grab a coffee at Izzy’s.”
Ginna sniffled.

“West End?”

“No. I want to be somewhere else.” She paused. “Like really somewhere else.”

Daily Deals: Erotic, New Adult, and Young Adult for $2.99 or under

Daily Deals: Erotic, New Adult, and Young Adult for $2.99 or...

The Amazon Kindle Daily Deal for Romance is Bent by H.B. Heinzer for 99c. I think I might start including these every day because not everyone goes to Amazon for the Daily Deal and they have one each day for romance. 164 reviews, average 4.2 stars. Published by Montlake. If you’re wondering why so many reviews it is likely because Amazon either put the book in the Vine program and/or gives you a discount for other books if you leave a review. That’s why Montlake books have so many reviews.

Blurb:

There’s one thing Julia Wilson has learned in life: you can’t push aside your own dreams for anyone. Newly divorced, Julia returns to the small hometown she swore she’d left forever. She plans on enjoying the cheap rental a friend offers and staying there just long enough to figure out her next steps in life.

But before long, Julia realizes she’s made a big mistake.

A decade ago, Micah Anderson promised Julia forever but broke her heart right before she left for college. Now, Julia’s back in town, and he’s going to have to tell her the truth about why he left her—it’s impossible to hide a twelve-year-old child when you live in such a small town.

Can Julia forgive Micah and start anew? Should she try to make a relationship work if Micah’s past becomes a threat to her safety? Should she follow her dreams if it means giving up on a second chance with her first love?

Bonds of Trust Lynda AicherBonds of Trust by Lynda Aicher. $ .99

From the Jacket Copy:

After ending her passionless marriage, Cali Reynolds is eager to live out her forbidden fantasies. Her first step is attending new members’ night at The Den, the most exclusive sex club in town. Perhaps here she can find a man who understands her desire to be dominated…

At first, Jake McCallister thinks Cali has come to his club for the wrong reasons. But when he discovers she is seeking fulfillment after years of denial, he’s intrigued—and takes it upon himself to initiate her into the pleasures she’s been missing.

Her first encounter with Jake is everything Cali has always craved, and more; she’s not prepared for the feelings he inspires in her. And Jake is just as surprised by his overwhelming attraction to Cali. As their play intensifies, so does their bond. Now, Jake doesn’t want anyone but Cali—but is he ready to officially claim her? And will she submit to being his forever?

78,000 words

“Lynda Aicher’s Bonds of Trust just might be a must-buy for Fall 2012.” —RT Book Reviews

I read this and I didn’t love it but it’s not bad either. For 99c I’d recommend you pick it up.

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Every Last Cuckoo by Kate MaloyEvery Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles’s sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone.

As grief settles in, Sarah’s mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years they spent raising their three very different children; and her childhood during the Great Depression, when her parents opened their home to countless relatives and neighbors. So, when a variety of wayward souls come seeking shelter in Sarah’s own big, empty home, her past comes full circle. As this unruly flock forms a family of sorts, they—with Sarah—nurture and protect one another, all the while discovering their unsuspected strengths and courage.

In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who gracefully accepts a surprising new role just when she though her best years were behind her.

Both Library Journal and PW say that the writing is lovely and would make an excellent book club selection but that the latter half isn’t as powerful as the first half.

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Kiss Kiss Melissa BrownKiss Kiss by Melissa Brown. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Fall In Love with 12 full-length novels in one limited edition set by some of today’s hottest romance authors, including USA Today Best Selling Authors, J. Sterling, Tara Sivec, and Tiffany King.

Melissa Brown- Bouquet Toss
Jillian Dodd- That Boy
Priscilla Glenn- Back to You
Tiffany King- Unlikely Allies
Michelle Mankin- Love Revolution
Charles Sheehan-Miles- A Song For Julia
Michelle Pace & Tammy Coons- The Perpetual Quest for the Perfect Life
Andrea Randall- Ten Days of Perfect
Tara Sivec- A Beautiful Lie
J. Sterling- Chance Encounters
Michelle Warren- Protecting Truth
Ashley Wilcox- Waiting on Forever

These e-books would cost over $40 if purchased separately.
This set will be be available for a limited time, so get yours today!!

This is a pretty good collection of novels if you are interested in seeing what some of the top names in indie publishing are writing. Many of the authors write New Adult and others just straight up adult romance. I think that these are all contemporary novels.

In the indie world, Priscilla Glenn, Tiffany King, Andrea Randall, and Tara Sivec are fairly big names with large followings.

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Some summers are just destined to be pretty  Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

Some summers are just destined to be pretty

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

PW writes “Han (Shug) realistically balances Belly’s naïveté with her awareness of the changes the years have brought (“In some ways it was even harder being the only girl back then. In some ways not”). Anecdotal chapters of past summers are interspersed, rounding out Belly’s character, her attachment to Susannah and her desire for the boys to include her.”

This is the first of three books and yes, it’s an ongoing love triangle. (I read the blurbs for the other two books)

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