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First Page: Unnamed Paranormal M/M

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***

He looked like the chicks who always died first in slasher movies, Colin reflected as he rubbed gloss onto his lips in front of a grimy storefront window. The napkin like, skintight black dress he wore hit mid-thigh and rode up with the slightest movement of his hips. He tucked the gloss into his bra and adjusted the smooth, gel inserts. Colin fluffed the blond curls on the wig he wore, and preened for all the world as if the deserted, trash filled street were his personal catwalk.

Bells tolled the hour eleven times a few miles to the west, temporarily muffling the sounds of drunken revelry just a few streets over.

If he were lucky, the revelers would keep to the brightly lit, well-populated thoroughfares and not interrupt his business. Hell, if he really got lucky, he'd probably have more clients than he could handle after tonight. Halloween was a boon for his kind of business.

A cheer went up and sounded like the participants were moving off, toward the center of the city, and taking the noise with them.

He could feel a pair of eyes watching him, tracing his form.

Colin smiled at his reflection, smoothed his hands down the sides of the dress, and began a slow, deliberate sashay down the sidewalk. He alternated between scanning the sidewalk ahead for any dangers capable of bringing him down in the stilettos strapped to his feet, and checking the pools of   streetlight for movement.

Nothing and no one moved behind him but he could still feel the weight of a considering stare   travel up his legs and linger on his ass.

He felt the kiss of cold steel against his inner thigh as he gave a suggestive roll to his padded hips.

There! Colin felt a heavy pulse of movement before he heard boots scrape against the pavement in a heavy, hurried stride.

He glanced over his shoulder and saw no one in the lights behind him, but the footsteps persisted.
Colin stepped off the sidewalk and trotted across the street, careful to avoid any pools of light. He moved like a doe at the first scent of a predator.

The boots matched his pace and now he could hear excited breathing ripple out toward him.

The streetlights became brighter. One dead lamp gave a pop like a firecracker going off and the bulb guttered to life.

Colin hugged the wall, keeping to the shadows. The left heel of his stiletto caught in the teeth of a small metal grate, almost felling him. Colin yanked the heel out and stifled a curse as three of the rhinestones dotting the base and heel, fell off. There went his refund.

A couple blocks ahead, bright lights and the sound of laughter beckoned from the avenue.

Colin turned down a dark alley and raced to the back.

"Looks like you're a little lost," a voice said from the mouth of the alley.

At the end of the alleyway a wall of bricks stood stalwart against further passage.

The voice continued, "Come out of there. I'm not going to hurt you."

Colin reached beneath the hem of his dress and withdrew from a pouch strapped to his thigh, a small vial of thick, nacreous fluid. He palmed the vial and fixed his eyes on the vacant pool of light at the mouth of the alleyway. He could hear the impatient tapping of one booted foot, the sing-song voice promising safety if only Colin would come out, come into the light.

"Okay, please don't hurt me," Colin recited while he unstoppered the vial and poured the liquid onto the floor.

"What's that?" the voice said slowly, speaking as if transfixed.

The liquid hissed as it mingled with the dirt and pieces of refuse scattered in the alley. It spread a basketball sized circle that illumined a small patch of the floor. Then it steamed and gave off a vapor, like a lick of warm, fetid dog breath.

His lips turned up in a grimace and one foot poised to enter the cloud of vapor, Colin caught a gold flicker of light from the corner of his eye as it winked in and out like a firefly.

"Sonofa-‘" his words were lost as the vapor snaked around him and swallowed him whole. When it cleared seconds later, he was gone.

***

Interested in participating in First Page? If you are an author, either aspiring or published and want to participate, send your first page to jane at dearauthor.com.

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

15 Comments

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  2. Marcella
    May 15, 2010 @ 06:28:17

    I like this voice! That’s all I want from a first page: no info dumps, nothing that feels contrived – I just want to get a feel for the voice.

    For the first time after all these 1st pages, I’m interested in reading more.

    The only sentence where I struggled a tiny bit with the order (might be because English is not my mother tongue) was

    Colin reached beneath the hem of his dress and withdrew from a pouch strapped to his thigh, a small vial of thick, nacreous fluid

  3. Tracey
    May 15, 2010 @ 06:56:07

    Not bad. I wouldn’t read it myself, as men cross-dressing is a decided turnoff for me, and there was a great deal of description of Colin’s dress, rhinestones, heels, etc. But I’m sure that many women would find this quite sexy.

    The only criticism I have to offer relates to the last paragraph. Thanks to ambiguous pronouns, I’m not sure who disappeared, Colin’s target or Colin himself.

  4. theo
    May 15, 2010 @ 09:57:15

    Though this is not my type of read, I do see minor, nitpicky things that would be a turn off for me if it were.

    Colin…Colin, Colin, Colin. I think many of the sentences can be better phrased so you don’t need to keep using Colin’s name repeatedly throughout. Since we have him and the antagonist, a little rephrasing would make it easy to know who is who in this.

    Bells a few miles away wouldn’t be loud enough to muffle revelry a couple streets over. We have a church with HUGE bells about two miles from us and even on a windy day, they’re barely over a whisper at this distance. A train whistle might be a bit louder, but again, at ‘miles away,’ it doesn’t work for me.

    This might sound stupid, but if this is M/M and you’re going to make it sexy at all (which I would think it would have to be since you make it a point of telling us it’s M/M) my first thought reading your opening paragraph about the skintight dress is what about the bulge between his legs. If the dress is skintight, that would show. I know, dumb, but that’s what went through my head. You describe the gel inserts, the way the skirt hikes up with his movements, made me wonder what he did to hide that.

    Lots of “pools of light” in this one.

    He’s hoping for ‘more clients than he can handle’ and yet, I have no idea for what. Drugs? Sex? Whatever it is, why would he disappear at the first person to come by? I’m confused really on what’s going on, what the premise is…all I have is a cross-dresser who wants clients for something and yet wants to stay away from groups of people, stay in the dark, and run from anyone who comes by.

    Too much backstory can cause a reader to set the book aside, but too sparse at the beginning does the same thing. This just didn’t work for me. Sorry.

    Kudos for putting it out there though and good luck.

  5. Darlynne
    May 15, 2010 @ 10:18:38

    I do like your voice and see potential here, but I agree about too many references to “Colin.” And I was completely lost about who stepped into the circle and disappeared. If Colin disappeared, then why was he trawling for “clients” and carrying some kind of (I’m guessing) knife attached to his thigh? What was the point of his charade: fighter of evil, lure or … ?

  6. Sally
    May 15, 2010 @ 10:27:30

    I thought this was very interesting and I wanted to read more.

  7. Maili
    May 15, 2010 @ 12:56:48

    “He looked like the chicks who always died first in slasher movies”

    I don’t get this. What does a chick-who-died-first usually look like?

    The description suggested the chick-who-died-first is a curly blonde in a skin-tight black dress in heels. What kind of slasher films have you been watching? :D I can only think of one that fits the description: Dressed to Kill, but the certain blonde in this film was a serial killer.

    On a serious note, it’s generally accepted that the first to die in a slasher film is either a black guy or a girl – regardless of how she’s dressed – who’s seen on screen shagging her boyfriend, e.g. the so-called “slut”. Is this what you were aiming for? That Colin dresses like a slut?

    Although the line seems a throwaway, it had me spending a few seconds trying to figure out what implication it meant to have. Vulnerable? Sexy? Sluttish? TSTL? Prostitute?

    Girls who die first in slasher films aren’t usually vulnerable or prostitutes. In addition to being willing to shag their boyfriend at any time and anywhere, they tend to be obnoxious, assertive, loud, or self-centred. In short, I found the comparison confusing. Sorry.

    “He felt the kiss of cold steel against his inner thigh as he gave a suggestive roll to his padded hips.”

    Wouldn’t be more comfortable and easier to have a gun in a handbag or beneath one of his padded hips? Having a gun between thighs would have anyone – male or female – walking like John Wayne, surely?

    Lastly, who is the one who disappeared? I can’t tell if it was Colin or the voice owner.

    Thanks for letting us share our opinions, and good luck!

  8. Susan/DC
    May 15, 2010 @ 16:59:45

    Minor points, but they pulled me out of the story a bit: Doesn’t nacreous refer to pearls? Somehow it doesn’t seem like the kind of word someone would use in thinking to himself. Unless the fact that the liquid was shiny is relevant to the story, I’d leave the word out. Second, Colin refers to the “floor” of the alley. Since alleys are usually outside, wouldn’t it be the ground or pavement or some such rather than floor? As I said, these are minor quibbles, but when I find myself thinking “who talks like this?” more than once in the space of one page, then I’m more likely to put the book down instead of continue.

  9. gwynnyd
    May 15, 2010 @ 21:23:03

    For all the nitpicks that people have found, I found the voice intriguing and opening very skillful. I don’t even usually like m/m, but I found this intriguing enough that I would continue reading – if only to figure out which “he” was swallowed whole and if that was the same “he” who was gone.

  10. Nastassia D.
    May 15, 2010 @ 22:43:02

    I liked this first page , sounds like a book I would like to read . I do agree that ‘Colin’ is used a lot, but I wasn’t bothered by it.

  11. DS
    May 16, 2010 @ 10:25:15

    I think I would keep reading.

    A couple of things though– I really hope I am right that the “business” he was engaged on was deliberately kept ambiguous and was going to be something interesting–

    I think I would leave out the one sentence paragraph with the reference to the kiss of cold steel. More vulnerability leads to more suspense.

    How did he know the scrape he heard was of a boot– as opposed to any other footware?

    How did he know that he had lost exactly 3 rhinestones when he pulled his heel loose from the grate?

    Don’t know how much the author knows about deer, but the first sign of a predator usually means the tail goes up and the deer takes off. If the deer is uncertain then the deer doesn’t know it’s a predator for sure. The image of vulnerability works though.

    I would describe the fluid as it pours from the vial not while it is still unseen in the vial– {“thick” and “nacreous”). I don’t have a problem with nacreous as a descriptive word. I’ve seen liquids– hair conditioner for one– that could be described that way.

    Agree with the bells and the distance and the floor of the alley.

    In spite of all the nitpicking, I still think it has potential.

  12. Shae
    May 16, 2010 @ 11:14:11

    Thanks for sharing!

    I was confused, as mentioned above, about the identity of the person who disappeared. I thought to myself that nothing significant happened in order for either person to have to disappear.

    I also agree with the deletion of the word nacreous. You went from nacreous fluid to basketball sized hole. Just a thought.

    Intrigued yet confused.

  13. evie byrne
    May 16, 2010 @ 15:02:18

    My first thought when reading this was, “Oh, thank God. Something different!” I think this is an excellent beginning with a great voice and good pacing. I hope you will continue with it.

    I’d agree with what others have said about there being too many reps. of his name, and also about that last bit being a little muddled.

    The one thing I’d add that I noticed was that there seems to be a subtle discontinuity in the language you’re using. It may well be on purpose–the meaning to be revealed later–but fwiw I saw a split between a contemporary vocabulary: chick, slasher film, basketball, ass, etc. and a more historical/fantasy/formal vocabulary: revelers, nacreous, refuse, felled.

    Best of luck with it!

  14. LL
    May 18, 2010 @ 08:37:05

    I thought this was well-written. I do have a question, though. Who is the audience? Is this written for gay men? For bi-people?For straight women? I have been curious for a long time about the proliferation of M-M romance novels. As a reader, I have read and enjoyed many “literary” novels about gay men or lesbian women, but I probably would never read a romance novel in which the main couple was not heterosexual. I think it is because I read romance for a certain emotional high and erotic thrill that I can only get by identifying with a heroine and her desire for a man. When I read romance novels, I suspend my critical judgment to a large extent. Remove the emotional-erotic pull, and I would find most paranormal and historical romance plot-lines beyond ridiculous. I would be too removed from a story with a bi or homosexual storyline to enjoy it. It wouldn’t “work” for me on that level. I’d rather read a novel like Edmund White’s, A Boy’s Story – or Radclyffe Hall, for that matter.
    I realize that other people may feel differently and I am very curious.
    When I read this excerpt, it doesn’t seem like it is written for men. Am I wrong?

  15. author
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:15:47

    @LL I wrote it to be read by anyone who cared to, not with a particular gender or segment of the population in mind–I imagine that will come during the editing stage of things. Like Stephen King says, write for yourself with the door closed, edit with the door open…or something to that effect.

    A large portion of the m-m romance reading public certainly seems to be straight women (i’m not one of them–a straight woman, that is) but gay men, lesbians and other members of the human race do read them as well. It’s certainly understandable that you wouldn’t enjoy m-m romance since you say that you read to identify with the heroine. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of het romances for you to enjoy.

    Thanks to everyone who commented. I’ll certainly keep your words in mind as I revise. Thanks Jane and the rest of the dearauthor folks for this opportunity.

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