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First Page: RESCUED BY A ROGUE paranormal romance

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.


Chapter 1

Maven cursed her sister for the thousandth time. With plenty of alone time to dwell on her abandonment, the offense grew by the hour. Adding insult, the straps of her ill-fitting backpack pinched her shoulders, new boots rubbed her heels raw, and a sodden film of dew and sweat dampened her as if it had rained all morning. Her discomfort fueled her bitter train of thought.

So, yeah, this trip? Worst. Idea. Ever. Not that Brie had given her much choice. Their joint photography venture barely eked out a living for both of them, so when her sister ran off in pursuit of her ex, Maven wanted to throttle her. Brie had assumed Maven would cancel the commission for wildlife photos. As if they could afford to lose the job. As if Maven couldn’t handle it without her. Bitch.

The anger faded a second after it flared. To be honest, it wasn’t like Brie to ditch her obligations for a man. Ditching was Maven’s forte, and she’d had this coming to her, as many times as she’d bailed on Brie. The justice of it didn’t lighten her mood one speck.

On the bright side, the situation reinforced her argument that they needed to cross-train. Only Brie didn’t have Maven’s love of digital art and urban exploration. Unfortunately, Maven hadn’t picked up any of Brie’s wilderness survival skills either.

How hard could it be though? Surely not more difficult than urban photography. At least, that’s what she’d thought a few days ago. Two days into the hike, the score was now Wilderness—4, Maven—0. She’d already picked the wrong trail, one for expert backpackers, and then she’d promptly lost her trail map. She’d brought too much gear, too. The pack weighed nearly as much as she did. And the kicker was waking in a sopping bundle of sleeping bag because she didn’t bring a cover for her tiny tent. How the hell could Brie actually enjoy these photo trips?

Still, she was smart and tough enough to deal, and she couldn’t very well leave her cameras and lenses. As long as she kept track of the barely-there trail and stuck with it, she’d be fine for navigating. Only a few days of hiking and she’d be where Brie had planned to shoot before her sister’s skank hormones pulled the old invasion-of-the-body-snatchers.

Maven scowled, her fingers tugging at the torture devices serving as pack straps. She’d never lost her mind over a man, especially one she’d already left behind. No regrets. Never look back. Live life in the present. That was her thing, but not so much how Brie operated. Her sister hated to be alone. Living alone forever didn’t scare Maven though, not as much as living in lifelong misery like their parents.

As if reading her mind, the wind kicked up, slicing a chill through the thin layers the salesman swore were perfect for the savvy backpacker. Maven stopped and tilted her head. She never knew wind could actually howl. It was at once eerie and beautiful.

Another sound reached her over the wind, giving her a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature. And then she heard it again, the shrill scream of a dying animal. Or maybe it was giving birth. She hoped. Yeah, right, because lots of animals gave birth in September.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Ros
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 04:33:30

    Not a critique but an observation about First Page Saturdays. I only read and comment if it’s a genre I normally read, which is to say mostly contemporary and some historical m/f romance. I can’t remember the last time a First Page Saturday fell into that category. There are a LOT of paranormal/urban fantasy/steampunk etc. entries. I’m really curious to know whether this is a DA bias for some reason or whether this reflects the submission/acquisition process in real life. Does anyone know?

  2. Jane O
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 07:23:32

    1. What Ros said.

    2. But since this could be a contemporary as far as the first page goes, I’ll comment anyway.

    My first reaction is that it is taking too long for something to happen. Her sister bailed on her and she is miserably uncomfortable hiking in the wilderness. I think that could be established in a lot fewer words — maybe just skip paragraphs 3-7 and put in any needed information later. I’m not a big fan of explosive, action-packed openings, but by the end of this I’m getting tired of her whining.

    On the plus side, I do like your writing.

  3. Brigid Kemmerer
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 07:25:07

    I’d bet this is reflective of the submission process in real life. Paranormal/Steampunk/UF/etc. are hot right now, so a lot of people are writing them.

  4. Brigid Kemmerer
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 07:28:20

    Well, I’m a dolt. I should also remark on the opening. :-)

    I love the writing. Nice imagery, nice flow to the words. However, as Jane O mentioned, I think a few paragraphs could be cut so we could get to some action a little earlier. I think some of these details could come into play later. She’s alone, she’s in the woods, something spooky is about to happen.

  5. Marianne McA
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 07:30:18

    I’d have put it down when I got to the sister’s name. I know that’s not fair, but it’d just annoy me the whole time I was reading. Sorry.

  6. JenMcQ
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 07:40:34

    I thought the writing was very strong, and the voice was intriguing enough to keep me reading, even though Paranormal generally seems to be a Do Not Finish affair for me these days. There were enough contemporary/suspense elements in this opener that I would have definitely kept reading.

    Like some of the other commenters, I also felt like it took a while for something to HAPPEN, but I was very happy with the hook the author ended on. I think trimming some of the frustration the main character feels over her sister’s ditching could occur without losing the flavor of what happened, and it might hold the reader’s interest better to get to that fabulous hook.

    Wish I could read more!

  7. DS
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 08:01:05

    I’ve got TSTL vibes. No wonder their business is in trouble if they drop everything every time one of them gets involved with a man. I guess it’s too much to hope that a bear would eat the heroine.

  8. theo
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 09:59:28

    Maven cursed her sister for the thousandth time. With plenty of alone time to dwell on her abandonment, the offense grew by the hour. Adding insult, the straps of her ill-fitting backpack pinched her shoulders, new boots rubbed her heels raw, and a sodden film of dew and sweat dampened her as if it had rained all morning. Her discomfort fueled her bitter train of thought.

    This starts to me with a definite historical feel, the phrasing of the first two sentences has that until the introduction of the backpack. It was a slap. I’m sure that’s just me, but if this is contemporary, start it that way. The second paragraph screams present time. If this is a time travel, you need to make more of a distinction between the heroine who is contemporary and the hero who is historical. (I’m making assumptions here and we all know what they mean, but that’s the overall feel I’m getting from reading this.)

    That said, I agree with the others. I know more about the sister than I do about the character who I think is supposed to be your heroine. I want to care about the heroine. Unless the sister figures prominently, and I don’t think she’s going to, I don’t give a rat’s patoot for her other than that she would abandon your heroine. Cut, cut and cut some more.

    As to DS’s observation of TSTL, I got a bit of that impression too. If your character isn’t, then give her more reason to be continuing without a trail map, overloading her backpack and not putting a cover on her tent (and as a side note, color me stupid here, but when I rode, I would camp at night and never heard of a cover for my tent). You say camping is her sister’s forte but the only thing you mention is the salesman’s comment on many thin layers of clothing. If she started this without the expertise of her sister, use that. The salesman sold all of this stuff to a woman who has never camped in her life and not knowing, she believed him would be much easier for me to take than the TSTL feeling I’m getting now.

    As to the bear, I’m willing to give the Hn a few more pages before I start looking for him ;o)

  9. Darlynne
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 10:06:40

    I liked the voice very much and would have been happy to keep reading. The title made me think “historical,” which it certainly isn’t. And “Maven” yanked at me every time I read it, but I started to like it by the end. Thanks for posting.

  10. dm
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 10:16:50

    Clearly Brigid and I read a different entry, because I couldn’t find any imagery. I have no idea what a single thing in this scene looks like. I have no idea where this character is hiking or what the terrain is like (Antelope Valley? Green Mountains? Yorkshire Moors?).

    If your character is a photographer, even if she does not specialize in wilderness photography, this is a problem. Because her business is seeing, and we’re in her point of view, so we’re seeing through her eyes. And she is not a keen observer of herself or her surroundings.

    The lack of specifics screams lack of research, and leads to a lack of authenticity. Even if your readers aren’t any more knowledgeable about professional photography or hiking than you are, your heroine should be, and if she isn’t, even if your readers can’t pinpoint the reason, they will find the text lacking.

  11. coribo25
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 10:20:45

    The author writes well, but I’d have issues here with the characterisation.

    I’d prefer less telling and bit more showing from the pov character. Have her do and observe things, like actually curse in the first line, and stop to examine her scrapes and blisters. She’s also coming over as a caricature. Maybe pick a few things she got wrong rather than pile it on and make her look terminally dim. There would be perhaps a few things she didn’t realise, like the effect of walking long distances in new boots and the importance of having an up to date trail map. At the moment she’s bumbling around the wilderness lost, with the wrong kit and not a single clue. Not a bad scenario in itself if the genre is paranormal chick lit and its her designer boots and pink vuitton backpack that are cutting into her. I’m not getting a true sense of the character. She’s made a huge hash of the hiking trip, yet considers herself smart and tough and is still thinking, how hard can this be rather than hell, I am so in trouble here. Scowling at this point feels like petulance rather than extreme discomfort. Thank heaven for the rogue in the title, she’s going to need him, and soon.

    Best of luck with this.

  12. Allie
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 10:58:02

    Maven doesn’t seem like anyone I want to get to know. Every other thought is something mean or very sarcastic, and I just don’t go for that. The writing is good but the mean/sarcastic stuff ruined it for me. A little here and there is fine, but this entire page is filled with it. I’m a hiker and I’m not buying that she went somewhere to buy her gear and dealt with a salesperson, either. Here in the land of REI, there is no way they’d let you out the door with a backpack that didn’t fit or a warning to use LAYERS and not just ONE LAYER. And if she lost her map, I want to know how. And like someone above mentioned – what kind of woods is she in? If she’s in woods? I assume she’s in the woods somewhere? Is she so clueless she can’t name a single kind of tree or plant she sees? And “Brie”? Isn’t that a kind of cheese? And did I miss the paranormal part?

  13. Debbie
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 11:14:04

    I liked it enough that I’d be willing to keep reading past the first page. I didn’t think there was too much detail, perhaps because I’d probably feel the same way about hiking. I could commiserate with the character. I agree that the title made me think it was historical initially. Who calls anyone a rogue nowadays?

  14. Lori
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 11:16:21

    I like the voice and felt comfortable with the writing. There’s skill here and it shone through.

    I agree that cutting needs to be done and I also agree that the heroine needs to be less TSTL. Also the names of the women just don’t work. Brie is a cheese. Make it Bree. And Maven is just … no.

    I’d love to see this again but after it’s trimmed and polished. I think the quality of the writing promises an interesting story.

  15. Courtney Milan
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 11:39:08

    First–your title makes me think it’s a historical romance. I don’t know why, but “Rogue” just sounds like one of those historical-title-signifiers, like “duke” or “rake” or “libertine.”

    Second, the writing is fine, although it takes a while to get to the point.

    But–as someone who has backpacked, and who knows people who do, this is failing the verisimilitude test. Not because she’s stupid–but because I’m not buying that this is the way it would feel to be stupid in this way.

    As someone who has been outside in a leaky tent in a rainstorm (thanks, Mom and Dad–I was 10) you don’t wake up in the morning in a sopping sleeping bag. You wake up well before the sopping point; you wake up when it starts to seep. You think, what is that cold thing? And “Oh fuck, is that water?” And “why is there so much water in this tent?”

    It’s uncomfortable and painful and cold cold cold–like, “never get warm until you take a hot shower” cold–which she cannot do right now. Plus, if your sleeping bag is wet, your clothes are wet. And it doesn’t look like she’s got decent gear, so her wet clothing isn’t just a bother, it’s a threat to her life.

    I believe that even smart people are stupid enough to make her kind of choices (witness: Mom and Dad and the leaking tent), but a lot of these details don’t ring of proper backpacking discomfort to me.

    If Maven’s that ignorant, I’d actually be willing to bet that she can’t get a backpacker’s stove lit–because that shit’s not easy, especially if there’s a wind, and it looks like there is. If Maven’s that ignorant, is she bringing enough water/water bottles? Is she filling them up? Can she stomach the taste of water from the wild? (Contrary to the TV commercials, mountain springs very often taste like mold.)

    By my count, she’s two days into a hike where every scrap she owns is wet, she probably hasn’t had coffee or warm food in days, and she’s probably dehydrated. All that adds up to her being utterly cold in a way that you can’t understand until you dunk all your clothing in ice water, exercise for three days on a starvation diet, and then go stand outside in a 40 degree wind for a day. You’re not just cold. You’re bone cold, and borderline hypothermic. You could very well be hypoglycemic.

    Right now, this reads like it was written by someone who has gone on a long hike, and is extrapolating backpacking to an even longer hike–your feet hurt more, you get more uncomfortable. But a failed backpacking trip is a totally different beast of pain.

    The other part that’s not ringing true to me is her sister. It sounds like her sister just bailed on her, as in in the last few days.

    It looks like Brie is the one who knows the outdoors. Why the heck didn’t her sister help her buy a pack, show her how to adjust it, explain to her how it should feel (if you’re wearing it right, the weight rests on your hips)? Why didn’t Brie tell her not to buy her crap from Walmart? (I assume that’s what happened, since in any reasonable outdoor store, they fit your pack to you and know how to explain what layers you need.)

    Her sister should have made her break in her boots and taught her about proper layering. She should have helped her pack.

    Even more to the point: Her sister bailed on her for a dude, knowing that meant her urban sister who had never before been backpacking would be going on a solo trip?

    No. Just…no. Solo backpacking trips fall in the “you can die” category for experienced outdoorspeople. You don’t do that shit to anyone you care about, ever. If you’re a backpacker, you don’t let this happen to someone you love. If they have to go and you can’t, you find a replacement. Because that is just wrong.

    The writing’s not bad, but this set up does not sound right to me.

  16. Lynne Connolly
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 12:54:18

    I started reading because I thought it was a historical. Nobody says “rogue” these days, do they?
    There is far, far too much backstory, My eyes started to glaze over. Start with the first and last paragraphs. Leave out the rest and show it as you go along.
    “Worst. Idea. Ever.” I am so over that trick, of making words into a sentence. And the sarcasm is very off-putting. Who cares if she doesn’t?
    I’m with Courtney on the whole backpacking thing. It just doesn’t ring true. I used to go on walking holidays in Derbyshire every spring, and even there, if you get wet, you risk dying of exposure, and one of the first rules is not to do it alone. You either set up a call network or you do it with someone else. So Maven is stupid to the point of complete idiocy.
    Maven is an odd name, and then to have a sister named after a cheese just adds to that. Did you mean “Bree” as in short for “Briana”?

  17. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 14:05:42

    I have to echo @Courtney Milan on the details feeling wrong. For starters, I don’t think you can even BUY a tent these days (even at WalMart) that doesn’t have a fly. You don’t need anything special to make a tent rain/waterproof these days; they COME with that.

    And like Lynne and Courtney, the title made me think historical, so even though I knew from the “paranormal romance” in the post title that it has paranormal elements, I was expecting historical paranormal. Titles are important as they set certain reader expectations. In this case, the title gave me entirely inaccurate expectations.

  18. Tasha
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 17:47:56

    I agree with some others that you’ve got a combination of things here that don’t work. The MC’s tent leaks, and her backpack doesn’t fit, and her clothes aren’t keeping her warm. Fine. I could maybe go there, except . . .

    Your MC is a photographer going on a photo shoot, which means she’s got some expensive equipment with her. While I can accept that she didn’t outfit herself properly, I find it very difficult to believe she would go out without a good backpack guaranteed to keep her cameras, lenses, etc. nice and dry, not to mention well-cushioned in case of a fall. And if she found someone who could help her with that, how does the pack not fit properly (bearing the weight on her hips, not her shoulders)? And how did that salesperson not ask about her tent?

  19. Author
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 20:49:36

    Thank you, DA readers, for the fantastic feedback. I’ll absolutely have to change the title. I don’t normally read historical and it didn’t occur to me initially that it’d be taken as historical (wow, I really should have caught that). The rogue in the story is a shifter who has gone rogue, reverting to his animal form. What can I say? I think in paranormal terms;)

    I intend to edit the way her backpacking woes are presented with more showing and less backstory. However, the situation she’s in is quite realistic. I have experienced all of her woes, especially when I was a beginner. Even as an experienced backpacker, I’ve worn packs that were perfectly comfortable for my husband but not well suited to me. Unfortunately, you don’t really figure that out until you’ve hiked with 60lbs of gear for several hours. Also a fly won’t always save you from a water leak, especially if it’s assembled improperly. Happened to me just a month ago camping at the coast, and I had the fly on correctly (wish I had used the sealant–it was a new tent). I did awaken in the morning to a wet sleeping bag. Maybe it would improve the story to only pick out a couple of issues instead of all that could go wrong that did go wrong for her.

    I’m kind of attached to Maven’s name, but after the feedback, I’m changing her sister’s. I’m honestly not sure if those of you who didn’t care for Maven would change your mind if you read further. She’s obviously not knowledgeable on backpacking but she’s not dumb either. She handles and cleans a fish with competence a few pages later. Perhaps I shouldn’t start with her in a bad mood. Maybe more worried? After all, her sister’s acted completely out of character and left her in a tough spot. She assumed Maven would simply cancel the job, not head into the wild alone. This definitely gives me a lot to address in editing. I appreciate your time in reading and critiquing.

  20. Heather
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 21:33:24

    I love paranormals, I would not continue reading this. The Maven strikes me as TSTL. She knows nothing of the outdoors yet goes off by herself. Also I didn’t like her when it was mentioned that Maven had a tendency to ditch on her sister. So neither one of the sisters is dependable? No thanks. I wish the author luck and hopes she has fun as she continues her (or his) writing


  21. dm
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 23:17:34


    However, the situation she’s in is quite realistic.

    I read that sentence and winced. I can remember uttering something similar in an MFA workshop many years ago. I insisted my story was fine the way it was, just needed a little editing, because “it really happened to me.” But nobody was buying it. And that particular project never sold. I still have it, gathering dust in a drawer. It wasn’t until I heard someone else say the same thing about their work, that I really understood: I hadn’t channeled my experience into something that felt authentic to my readers.

    After all, her sister’s acted completely out of character and left her in a tough spot. She assumed Maven would simply cancel the job, not head into the wild alone.

    One of the pleasures of reading is discovering well-crafted characters. When your creations behave “completely out of character” they feel like puppets, jerked around by the strings to suit the author’s convenience. When characters do something shocking, it has to be earned. It can’t happen off stage, or before the action, or right at the beginning of the story. Character introductions are first impressions. You only get one shot at it. In the story you have written, Brie is the kind of woman who will abandon her sister in a tough spot. No amount of explaining is going to change that impression, because character=action, not explication.

  22. Emily
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 00:50:10

    Maven strikes me as incredibly stupid (this name makes me feel like the author is trying to convince me she is a maven or an expert while she acts like anything but … ugh). The point at which she has no map but she keeps going just makes me throw up my hands (and if I had a copy of the book, I’d throw that, too). Entire groups of experienced backpackers die doing crap like that. Just disappear into bush/forest/mountains forever. If the job is worth enough that it would have paid both Maven and Brie together, it should be worth enough for Maven to pay someone familiar with the trail to take her up. Even if she thinks she can hike up herself, as a professional photographer she has extra kit beyond the backpacking basics, some of which is very heavy and some of which is bulky (tripod, very long lenses etc). You mentioned this, but no reason she couldn’t have brought someone else along to guide her and help with the load.

    I also have trouble believing a professional photographer would keep going when something was leaking. Each piece of her kit is potentially worth several thousands of dollars, and none of them are covered under warranty if they sustain water damage. Even if she’s only taking one camera body up with her and trying to travel basic, she’s probably got three (maybe two) high end lenses with her, and if she’s really not experienced with nature photography she might overload to make sure she has everything she’ll need. Is this one job worth the tens of thousands her kit might be? She might not expect the rest of her stuff to leak, but she probably didn’t expect the tent to leak, either, and the whole scenario is new to her. If she’s not concerned about the kit because she’s been in different but equally rough situations, please tell me that. I feel like I’m worried about her kit more than she is, and it’s her living.

    I’m sure there are ways Maven could have gotten into this situation. Maybe she had a guide and he fell off a cliff. She tried to get down but the trail was blocked, or by now she’s genuinely lost and hoping to get to the top of the mountain, or whatever, so she can see where the trails go back down. I don’t know, though, because on the first page it looks like she got there just by thinking she’s way more badass than she is, and not bothering to make herself or her gear safe in any way. There are so many paranormals out there these days. For books which look so much like all the others (every paranormal qualifies in that category for me, although obviously many others feel differently. I’m more of a mystery reader) I read the first page, one page in the middle, then I decide. You don’t get a whole chapter to convince me Maven wasn’t really born with rocks for brains.

    I’d also like to see a more visual story-telling style from a POV character who is supposed to be a visual artist. I can’t even tell if she’s in a rainforest or on a barren mountain slope. Photography isn’t just a cute career for a romance protagonist. A really good photographer, or other visual artist, sees the world a little differently even when they’re not working. When a book really does this it makes me very happy.

  23. Liza Lester
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 01:35:30

    I also got the impression that the author had never been backpacking, and I think dm has hit on the essential problem with the writing. It doesn’t matter that the author knows all about backpacking, or that she didn’t intend her character to come off as whiny and TSTL, if she hasn’t transmitted her intentions through the page.

    I wasn’t planning to comment, because, as Ros said, this story isn’t my bag. Most of the prominent tropes here repel me, and I don’t empathize with the chatty, suffering, so adorably bumbling narrative style. But then I thought, f’ that. You don’t want to throw away readers so easily. I will read tropes that I don’t like if the author takes them in a new and interesting direction, and compels me along in a creative voice. The same is true of unlikeable characters.

    I voluntarily backpack in rain and snow, but I have had many a whiny internal monologue while toiling through unhappy conditions, mentally raging at my companions. Those monologues are internal for a reason. I don’t even inflict that shit on my journal. You would have to be a brilliant writer to bring it off.

    So my advice: don’t pigeon-hole yourself. Write to a bigger audience than the paranormal fans who like city girl bumbling in the woods plots. Use popular, familiar tropes, but spin them your own way–with style as well as plot. Surprise me.

    And thanks, author, for chiming in. Your comments made the discussion interesting.

  24. Loreen
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 01:57:48

    I think you should start with Maven doing something competent – perhaps sneaking up on a photo shoot. Right now I do not get the sense that she is a very good photographer or a competent person in general. She certainly does need to be rescued…

    I was hauled all over the Sierras on 10 day backpacking trips as a child and I have to agree that the details do not seem authentic. Personally, I would not have patience with a character who was idiot enough to head out into the wild without knowing anything about what she is doing. I would be more sympathetic if she had been out with her sister many times and thought she could do it, but is now realizing that she had relied on her sister more than she had thought.
    I haven’t seen many women solo-backpacking in the US. It may happen, but I usually run into solo-men and women in at least pairs. Frankly, I would be worried about running into crazy backpacker men out there by myself. They are more dangerous than the bears…
    I would like to know more about why she thought it was worth risking her life to do this on her own.

    Also, it really turns me off that she would call her sister a bitch at this point. It would be fine if we had seen the sister and agreed with that assessment, but at this time it seems hostile and bitter.

  25. BlueRose
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 02:03:23

    I liked your voice, I liked it was a story about photographers (being an amateur one myself) And I get the crap backpacking/camping experiences, I’ve had enough myself.

    And here in NZ we have LOTS of people who are unskilled and unprepared throw themselves into the great outdoors and get into silly situations and need to be rescued, so I find that quite believable. What I find somewhat difficult to get is this faith that she can go into a shop and be properly outfitted by shop staff – like that *ever* happens in reality?

    But my biggest issue is her camera gear, like another poster I saw NO CONCERN about her camera gear in the intro and we know she is wet. And we know she is carrying lots of gear. I happen to know fairly personally what a backpack with a camera, 2-3 lenses and a flash weighs, not to mention the tripod. And also how much room its taking up on your back. Im seriously struggling with the concept that one person could safely pack in enough camera gear to be useful *and* enough gear to stay overnight safely.

    Oh and I liked the names, tho Maven is pretty hard core as a name. Maybe change Brie to Bria or something similar?

  26. ec
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 02:36:51

    “Maybe it would improve the story to only pick out a couple of issues instead of all that could go wrong that did go wrong for her.”

    This will not fix the story. No one would hike alone with crappy equipment like this. If they do, they are TSTL. My first thought: you were in this situation? Huh.

    “I shouldn’t start with her in a bad mood. Maybe more worried? After all, her sister’s acted completely out of character and left her in a tough spot.”

    No one is here to write it for you. We’re telling you we hate the character and the voice. It won’t matter what mood she is in.

    “chatty, suffering, so adorably bumbling narrative style”
    “if I had a copy of the book, I’d throw that, too” Does any of this ring a bell?

    I hope you weren’t expecting 5-stars for this “polished” manuscript. In the shape it is in now I would give it 1.5.

  27. yttar
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 06:18:45

    I just wanted to add that my best friend from college’s middle name is Bree. Like the cheese. And she likes it because her favorite kind of cheese is Bree.

  28. Nat
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 06:58:39

    I stopped reading at ‘Worst. Idea. Ever.’ It could just be me, but there is only one paragraph to get into the character’s head before this, so using these short sentences for emphasis mean nothing to me.

    Also, a question for the grammar people on here – with the sentences:

    Maven cursed her sister for the thousandth time. With plenty of alone time to dwell on her abandonment, the offense grew by the hour.

    The use of her in the second sentence refers back to ‘her sister’ so I was confused at the beginning who was abandoned.

    Is this a pronoun confusion or not? Anyway, it put me off. I will admit that the name Brie made me think of cheese, and I didn’t have a problem with the name Maven. Also, the first line needs work, it kind of generic.

  29. Lynne Connolly
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 08:32:54

    The cheese is Brie. The person’s name is Bree, and it’s often short for Briana.
    So all that needs to change is the spelling.
    Maven is a very odd name, and I wonder what kind of parents would saddle children with names that would make them the butt of jokes at school.
    Yes, Nat, it’s pronoun confusion, and something my editor dings me with. Because I do it, too.
    Author, it boils down to this. If you want to have fun with your story, carry on. If you’re ready to hone it to send to agents and publishers, it needs more work.
    There is nothing wrong in writing a practice story, in fact, I’d say there was everything right in it. This is also a place to get great feedback, because many of the people here are readers, and aren’t interested in writing or the skills involved. They just want a good read.
    I did like the idea above that although she started the journey competently, with a guide and adequate kit, a series of disasters has left her with no guide, the wrong backpack and inadequate protection against the elements. Things happen to even the most experienced backpackers and nature can never be entirely predicted.
    I also agree that she should be very worried about her camera equipment. Even if this was a practice run, and she’s carrying only the most basic of equipment, that’s still a big expense and a lot to carry.

  30. Ann G
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 14:20:37

    When I read the title, I thought it was an historical paranormal, until I read the word backpack.

  31. SAO
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 03:19:30

    I agree with many of the comments made by previous commenters.

    What I note about this opening is that it is basically a sit-‘n-think. For most of the scene, Maven could be anywhere, whining about her sister. In fact, she is almost anywhere, as I don’t know if she is high in the Rockies or traipsing through the Everglades.

    Next, you depict Maven and her sister as being inconsiderate and irresponsible, regularly leaving each other in the lurch to chase guys. Why should I care about them? The irresponsibility you describe makes me feel her current predicament is entirely her own fault. She sounds like the kind of person who is so busy flirting with the salesman that she isn’t paying attention to his competence.

    Show Maven in the middle of some really great shot. Make her passion for her job the reason that she drops the map and lets the wind carry it over a cliff.

    A litany of errors (wrong clothes, inability to set up tent correctly, wrong trail, lost map) makes her look incompetent and stupid for not turning around. One error (lost map, say) can seem minor but cause a chain of problems more realistically.

    Brie is cheese. Bree is a name.

    I’m not keen on TSTL women who need to be rescued, so I’m kind of turned off by the title.

  32. FunnyGirl
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 15:18:38

    Many of my comments have been said, so I’ll just chime in with the biggest flaw to me: the names. There is no way I’d read a book with “Maven” as the heroine, unless it’s an X-Men book. Brie is just the icing on the “ugh” cake. This is actually the reason I read few contemporaries, because it seems as if all the names are “Jayde” or “Sherridan” or “Tawney” Or “Tanner” or “Chase” or such. If your heroine is hovering anywhere near 30, she’d might be a Kim, Jennifer, Kristin, etc. What is wrong with names a bit more likely for the birth year? I can take one really odd/modern kindergartner name per book, but not ten. (I say this as a woman with an odd family name, but who had four Jennifer friends growing up.)

    Now to stop being a complete jerk – I loved the voice :) and good luck!

  33. Kelly L.
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 16:06:49

    I’m a Kelly, I’m 33, and sometimes there’d be 3-5 Kellys in my classes and even more Jennifers. (The Jason stats were absurd.)

    If she’s closer to thirty, that makes her my next oldest sister’s age, and those girls were Katies and Jessicas. (My theory is that their parents already had a Kelly or a Jennifer, and that they thought Katie and Jessica sounded good with the older daughter’s name, respectively.)

  34. JenM
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 16:54:37

    I’m a bit late, but I really feel that I need to chime in to reinforce what a couple of other posters have already pointed out regarding the photography equipment. My spouse is an amateur photographer, so I know exactly what the bare minimum rig is for a serious photographer on any kind of shoot. Hubster has a specially modified backpack, the size of a full daypack, to carry one camera body, 2-3 lenses, assorted filters, batteries, etc., a jacket, gloves and hat for those pre-dawn and nighttime shoots, and a lightweight, titanium tripod. This backpack weighs about 15-20 lbs on its own and this is his minimum kit. There’s no possible way he could carry backpacking equipment along with his rig, not so much because of the extra weight, but because you can’t just jumble the camera equipment in with all of your other equipment. The lenses and camera all require lots of padding and space to prevent accidental damage, and this doesn’t leave much room for anything else in your backpack.

    Because of this, it’s utterly impossible for me to contemplate him going out on a solo photography/backpacking trip. Dayhiking, yes, backpacking, no way. There’s got to be at least one other person along to carry all of the survival gear. I’m sorry, but this scenario just doesn’t work.

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