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First Page: Unnamed Contemporary Romance

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"Don't move your lips when you talk," her sister said from under the blanket in the back seat. "They might be watching you."

Valerie Kane's grip on the steering wheel tightened as she turned into the dog park's empty lot. Through stiff lips, she answered, "We're here." She pulled into a spot as far from a light as possible, shifted into park, and killed the engine. "I'm a little nervous."

"Is your hood up?" Monica asked.

She looked out the windshield. "Hood?"

Her sister heaved a sigh. "On you, not the car."

Oh, crap, she needed to focus. She tugged the drawstrings of her hooded sweatshirt. "Yeah, it's up." She looked around to be sure they were still alone and caught a glimpse of the lights of the Las Vegas strip twinkling blissfully in the distance. A tingle of anxiety ran through her. "Are we doing the right thing?"

Her sister reached between the seats and gripped her arm. "We don't have to do this, Val. If you have any doubt, just start the car and let's go."

Taking a deep breath, she zipped up her hoodie. "No. We promised. I can do this." She pressed the unlock button on the doors then glanced back. Monica was well hidden and was lying on the bag containing their cousin's blackmail payment.

Her sister whispered, "Just go really fast and get back here. Wait, first roll down the windows, so I can hear you if you scream."

Scream? There was no reason to scream. Was there?

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. thegalwiththehoe
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 05:19:54

    The prose is good and obviously there are lots of intriguing questions I would like an answer to. Well done with the “starting with action” part.

    There is one major thing that is putting me off: I can’t tell the tone and atmosphere. Is it a funny light-hearted romp? Or is it more serious with some humour thrown in? I can’t tell which keeps me from getting into it. If you can fix this, it could be a great first page.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. liz talley
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 06:19:59

    Nice first page. Yeah, the tone was a mixed bag. It feels dangerous, but yet there is a lightness. Nothing necessarily wrong with that if it’s not RS.

    Couple of suggestions:

    Strike “Blissfully” – not the right word for Vegas lights.

    If the sister is scared, she’d want the window cracked – not all the way down.

    And shorten the dialogue – “If you don’t want to do this, Val, just start the car and go.” – crisper dialogue fits the urgency of the scene.

    Otherwise, I’m very intrigued. Wish there was a page two. :)

  3. Danielle D
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 07:13:41

    I’m interested in reading more!

  4. DS
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 08:41:49

    Yeah, I like this one.

  5. Darlynne
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 09:28:15

    I liked it, too, and am hoping it continues to be funny. Do you have more that you could share?

  6. PatF
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 09:39:39

    I would read more!

  7. Renda
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 10:11:06

    Would like to to read more. Do get rid of “blissfully.” It made me wince.

  8. Amanda
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 11:23:49

    Definitely interested in reading more!

    I wonder about your placement of the reveal of blackmail payment, if you don’t want to hold that for a later page, but it does work where it is depending on where you go from here – which I’m not sure where, because as has been pointed out, the tone wavers back and forth. If it’s serious, some nerves on the narrator wouldn’t be amiss.

  9. Sao
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 11:26:00

    Really good. Tint, gripping. I don’t think I’ve rea a first page where I had noing o say except where’s the rest.

  10. Sao
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 11:27:10

    Really good. Tight, gripping. I don’t think I’ve read a first page where I had nothing to say except where’s the rest?

  11. Vanessa Jaye
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 12:07:26

    I would absolutely read on. I like a mix of humor and darkness and I’ll assume that the book blurb will give an accurate feel for the tone of the story

  12. Bren
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 12:18:15

    I liked it too, but I was confused on the time of day it was. If she’s afraid of being seen talking, then it implies daytime. But if the lights on the Strip are twinkling, then it is night. A little clarification there and this page is good to go!

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  14. DM
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 17:20:55

    This starts in action, and that’s great. It puts you ahead of the pack. What you need now is someone with advanced editing skills, who will catch the small stuff, and help you fine tune scenes.

    Over-writing like this:

    “She pressed the unlock button on the doors”

    is hard for casual readers to spot. But what you really want to say is:

    She unlocked the doors.

    Your readers will do the math. Comb your work for fiddly stuff like that, eliminate it, and see how much faster your readers turn pages.

    Otherwise, what you’re missing here, the thing that will take this from journeyman work to a home run, is your character’s want. For us to really care on a deep, page turning level, we need to know, at all times, what Valerie Kane wants. Starting in action is great. Now figure out how Valerie Kane views this action. What does she hope will happen tonight? What does she fear will happen? Convey this to the reader, so that we know from the top of the scene, and we won’t be able to put this down.

  15. Goddess of Blah
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 06:40:10

    the writing style is good. Not overly dramatic. The right balance. But the ending (i.e “Scream? There was no reason to scream. Was there?”) could do with a TINY bit of work… sounds far too much like Rachel Gibson’s style of writing. But otherwise its good.

  16. okbut
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 09:07:48

    Thanks for submitting, always like stories that start with dialogue.

    Just a few nit picks, the hoodie focus emphasis is redundant, this is a night drop in last Vegas, in a dog park parking area?

    Had to reread to make sure who was saying what to whom. Good beginning premise for a romance, but could be shortened and include more action on the first page. So far, we have 2 nervous women sitting in a car…

  17. Fern
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 08:22:14

    It was fun! I would read more. I liked the combination of humor and tension, and the hood-hoodie worked for me. Good comments by DM, though.

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