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First Page: Omega Rising paranormal romance

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He was tired of killing. To be more precise, he was tired, period. A fatigue so cold and pervasive that his bones ached despite the unusually warm April day, his usual sharp anticipation of ridding the world of another blight numbed. For months he’d been traveling nonstop all over the country and now was more than a month overdue for the mandatory base time for all enforcers. His tranqs were left in his well hidden truck two miles away per orders of the big boss, Darrell Issing, a prick but still his boss. This was another silver mission, meaning only silver bullets needed for this job. Extermination.

Through the scope he could see his target arriving home from his job at the nearby bank, harried and juggling three bags filled with groceries. The man kicked the car door closed, turned and squatted to embrace the whirlwind that flew down the house steps into his arms. Agent Nathan Rivers swore under his breath but never took his eyes off the target, frowning as the tremor returned in his left hand. Swearing again, he relaxed his hand and flexed his fingers before again cradling the rubber grip, all without moving his eye from the scope. The man swept the boy, who looked to be only six or seven, into his arms, eyes darting around nervously before running into the house, groceries spilled and forgotten in the driveway.

Roy Delgado might be only a bank teller, but he was still coyote, and obviously finally felt the danger stalking him. The agent didn’t mind eradicating the magic users or the Lost, shifters who lost control over their animal. That was his job and he was damn good at it. While following the target with his weapon from window to window in the small house as Delgado frantically shut the blinds, he tried to dismiss the unease that remained after he completed his last two jobs, the wolf in that godawful dusty town in East Texas and the female Omega, a foul shifter/mage abomination, just outside Aiken, South Carolina. The first a silver, the second the more common DI, or detained interrogation. His job was to get the Omega onto the plane alive to be questioned by Issing himself. For what purpose he didn’t know and didn’t care. In the Endless War between shifters and magic users he was just an Enforcer, a tool, to ensure victory for all his kind. He lost no sleep over his job. He preferred his swifter justice – death – for the Omegas over Issing’s new mandate of detainment but he followed orders.

His mind rolled again to the handoff at the airport. Again, he replayed the small popping sound. He had turned and the shock wave of the second fiery explosion knocked him to the tarmac.

He wasn’t sad. He wasn’t shocked. Casualties were expected. It was the expression on the Omega’s face he kept replaying. Serene. Without a doubt she caused the explosion despite her power nulled by the silver net. No, it wasn’t guilt he felt. He was the top assassin in the EA, after all. It was the disturbing break in the pattern.

He ignored the sweat pooling on his back. The air was humid and still, a thunderstorm threatening in the distance, the bloated black clouds creeping from the west easily visible if he were upright in the flat Indiana terrain. He felt the impending storm, the very weight of the air pressing him further into the dirt. He had been in lying in this spot concealed by thorny brush for three hours, waiting, thinking, trying to pinpoint his disquiet.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Kate Sherwood
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 05:33:12

    I like a lot about it, but I feel like there’s almost too much.

    There are some really punchy sentences, but you don’t really give us space to enjoy them. I’d try to shorten the paragraphs and break things up, and maybe cut out some words. Like, for your opening, I think there’s two paragraphs at least – the first one about being tired, the second one about the tranqs in the car and the silver bullets. A lot of other paragraphs could be broken up similarly. And for the first two sentences, I think you could simplify to:

    “He was tired of killing. He was tired, period.” or “He was tired of killing. He was tired of everything.”

    And just for drama, maybe that can be it’s own paragraph. The construction is a bit of a cliche, but I don’t think it’s any MORE cliched than the original construction, and I think the shorter phrasing has more impact. There’s other places where I think you could effectively cut back a little as well. You don’t want to overdo the starkness, but this is a pretty dramatic scene and you’ve got some dramatic phrasing… you don’t want it to get lost.

    Honestly, I think I’d skip most of the backstory, at this point. It interferes with the drama of the current scene. Let us wonder why this tired, jaded man is about to kill the father of a young boy, rather than telling us all about it, breaking up the flow of the current story.

    I’m not sure about the POV in the last paragraph, telling us what the agent could see if he stood up. Maybe we’ve been in omniscient all along, and it just FELT like we were in close third because the omniscient narrator had chosen to zoom in on the agent? Give it a look, at least, and see what you think.

    Missing a word somewhere in “despite her power nulled”.

    And I think I’d like to see the agent’s name used a few more times. There’s some pronoun/antecedent fuzziness you could clear up (like: “His job was to get the Omega onto the plane alive to be questioned by Issing himself. For what purpose he didn’t know and didn’t care.” – not crystal clear WHO didn’t know or care), and using the name more might help us imprint more on the character.

    Overall, I like the setup and a lot of the writing. But for my taste, less would be more.

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  2. Carol McKenzie
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 05:47:46

    Hi Author, and thanks for sharing.

    This reminds me somewhat of Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series in premise, with Special Ops killing Magic users.

    There’s something clunky with the writing that leaves me confused after some sentences. I think you’re trying to cram a lot of information in an ‘Oh, by the way’ manner in each sentence, so we know everything we need to know right away.

    “This was another silver mission, meaning only silver bullets needed for this job.” You’re telling us why he’s using silver bullets. Show us instead.

    “Another shifter who’d lost control; another silver bullet in the chamber.” (not the best…)

    Your first paragraph has six sentences and a word, and you cover his mental state, where he’s been, that he’s overdue at base, his boss is a prick, something about ammo and the intent of his mission.

    There’s a fine balance between giving us all the information right up front, and trusting us as readers–and your own writing–to wait to figure things out.

    You have an instance of out of sequence action (there’s a more technical name I forget at the moment) along with a lot of information crammed in two sentences:

    “Through the scope he could see his target arriving home from his job at the nearby bank, harried and juggling three bags filled with groceries. The man kicked the car door closed, turned and squatted to embrace the whirlwind that flew down the house steps into his arms.”

    The guy really isn’t coming home from his job at the bank (you tell us later he’s a bank teller, so this is superfluous); he’s coming home from the grocery story. Later you have spilled groceries on the ground. But here, you’ve got him embracing the…whatever…that’s flying down the steps. We can assume it’s a child, but here, a bit more clarity would help. In a paranormal, a whirlwind could be anything from that child, to another shifter, to an actual whirlwind. Again, it’s a fine balance.

    So Mr. Delgado would have to spill the groceries, then grab his son, then leave the groceries to head to the house.

    This reads like a point of view break: “He ignored the sweat pooling on his back. The air was humid and still, a thunderstorm threatening in the distance, the bloated black clouds creeping from the west easily visible if he were upright in the flat Indiana terrain.”

    He can’t really know if he could see the clouds or their color. He’s been lying down for three hours. You know he can, but he can’t and neither can we. You could write “If he stood he could probably see the bloated black clouds blotting out the sky” or something like that. But the sentence, as is, is convoluted.

    Would I read on? Maybe. There’s a lot of back story on the page that distracts me from the immediate action. I’d like it more, I think, if he does whatever he’d going to do to Mr. Delgado; shoot him or not. Telling me about his boss, about his other kills, all takes the tension out of the scene, takes away from a man who’s been lying in wait for three hours and whose kill has finally arrived. I want the tension of the moment, the adrenaline rush he must feel, the sense of anticipation. Or, since he’s numb and tired, the ennui he’s feeling and how he feels about that. All the rest, the boss, the explosion, all that can show up later, fed to us in little bites where it’s not taking away from the here and now of your story.

    There’s something interesting in the new trend of military paranormal. I wasn’t liking it at first, but the more I read, the more it grows on me. You’ve got something interesting here: the battle-fatigued solider (I’m assuming that’s what he is) in the midst of a supernatural battle. It could be cutting edge stuff.

    ReplyReply

  3. hapax
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 08:29:25

    Like the two commenters above, I love the set-up, this incredibly tense scene (is he really going to shoot the father of that little boy? I honestly don’t know, but I get the feeling his choice either way is going to be pivotal in setting in motion the rest of the plot!) … but I kept getting thrown out of the moment by the ‘splainy backstory.

    I know that so often the comments on the first page imply that readers want the characters, the setting, and the entire plot sketched out on the first page, but that’s not really necessary. What we want are the hints that will draw us into the story, and we’ll trust you to supply the rest when we need it.

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  4. SAO
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 09:18:45

    This was intriguing and Nathan having a crisis of conscience and not wanting to kill would be interesting. However, I was turned off by his casually exterminating creatures, who haven’t been proved to be bad. While Nathan calls the Omega “foul,” in a war, blowing up an airport when you are being caught by exterminators is not a sign that the creature is evil.

    In fact, Nathan’s “it’s my job to kill them, I’m good at it, and I’m following the orders of my boss, the prick” attitude left me in doubt that his targets were bad. He has no concerns, apparently, about killing the father (one presumes) of a small boy in front of him. Nothing I read suggested that the boy complicated the “job.” Or that the rules of the job require a consideration of what’s going to happen to the kid. In fact, Nathan can’t quite pinpoint his disquiet.

    I can pinpoint mine: extermination. Hitler did it. When Nathan “doesn’t mind eradicating” various creatures, including a bank teller with a son who loves him; when he “loses no sleep over his job;” when he “wasn’t sad” and “it wasn’t guilt he felt” when plenty of people are killed; when “he preferred swifter justice — death” for the Omegas, but “he followed orders, I see Nazi parallels. If that’s your intention and the blurb on the back of the book says he’s going to have a change of heart, I’d be in. With just this page, I’m out.

    Writing issues:
    You have a tense scene on this page, cluttered up with random bits on drugs in the wheel well, and musings about a previous job. Is Nathan really thinking about the Omega when he has a bead on his target? You lose all the tension of the scene when you cut to backstory.

    You had some POV breaks that confused me. In the second line of the 3rd para, your use of “the agent” made me think Roy, because we’d been in Nathan’s head and he’s unlikely to think of himself as “the agent.”

    Given that this is a paranormal, I didn’t get that the ‘whirlwind’ was a boy. Boys are less likely to run into parents’ arms, by age 6. Particularly if they live with them. So, when you mentioned the ‘boy,’ I thought he popped out of nowhere.

    ReplyReply

  5. theo
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 09:26:09

    I might read on if you can eliminate the repetition and the backstory. By repetition, you tell us early on he’s damned good at his job, then later, that he’s the top assassin. Don’t waste words. Tell us he’s the top assassin in the beginning.

    Cut this:

    the wolf in that godawful dusty town in East Texas and the female Omega, a foul shifter/mage abomination, just outside Aiken, South Carolina. The first a silver, the second the more common DI, or detained interrogation. His job was to get the Omega onto the plane alive to be questioned by Issing himself. For what purpose he didn’t know and didn’t care. In the Endless War between shifters and magic users he was just an Enforcer, a tool, to ensure victory for all his kind. He lost no sleep over his job. He preferred his swifter justice – death – for the Omegas over Issing’s new mandate of detainment but he followed orders.

    His mind rolled again to the handoff at the airport. Again, he replayed the small popping sound. He had turned and the shock wave of the second fiery explosion knocked him to the tarmac.

    He wasn’t sad. He wasn’t shocked. Casualties were expected. It was the expression on the Omega’s face he kept replaying. Serene. Without a doubt she caused the explosion despite her power nulled by the silver net. No,

    We don’t need it. Stay in the tension of the moment. Snipers are trained to eliminate everything Except. The. Target. Everything else is out of mind once they focus in on the target. You’re setting up the tension and tossing a child into the mix which makes pushes the stakes even higher, then you pull us out of the tension of the moment with him thinking about past things.

    You also have some logistics problems as others said with the groceries and clouds, but these things are easily fixed.

    I think you might have a good story here and with some tighter editing, I’d read this, but as written, I’m not sure you wouldn’t be tossing extraneous stuff in here and there and that’s very frustrating to a reader.

    ReplyReply

  6. Marianne McA
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 10:26:35

    I normally wouldn’t read anything where the hero or heroine is an assassin, but I’m open to this because in this universe, maybe there is no alternative.

    I liked the first paragraph except for ‘His tranqs…’ I don’t know why he’s thinking about them at that moment. If he wanted to have the option of using them, or glanced at his equipment and absentmindedly registered the space where they normally would be, it would make sense that he had that thought – but as it is the thought is disconnected to everything else.

    In the third paragraph, using ‘The agent’ instead of ‘Nathan’ seemed oddly distancing, because we’re really experiencing this from his pov, and most people wouldn’t think of themselves that way. There was a bit much back story there – you can imagine him thinking over the last two assignments while he waited for Roy to arrive – but it’s odd that he’s pondering them as he tracks his target.

    For me, the long-term hook is that this weary but competent man is disturbed by a break in the pattern, but can’t quite tell what’s disturbing him. And the short-term hook is that you’ve made Roy sympathetic, so I need to read on to be sure he survives. But you almost lose the (really compelling) short term hook in the welter of extraneous detail.

    I’m not 100% sure I’d read on at the moment, but it’s almost there for me. I’d like it better with a little less back story on the page, so I can be more caught up in Roy’s terror.

    ReplyReply

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