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First Page: Unnamed PNR

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Lucy rose from the loom and with an enormous stretch attempted to unkink her spine. Outside, the Midsummer’s Eve celebration was in high gear. The strains of a terrible rendition of Mustang Sally drifted in through her window. No one wanted to be the one to hurt Phil’s feelings by suggesting that maybe this year the band shouldn’t get back together. Or maybe no one was ever sober enough to realize how terrible his band really was.

A knock sounded on her open door. Audra stood in the doorway looking like a tipsy fairy queen with her flower crown hanging askew in her blonde curls. She clutched a bottle of champagne in one hand and a chocolate frosted cupcake in the other.

“You missed it,” Audra said. “Charles tried to jump the bonfire and singed his dangly bits. Also, I think Jane and Emma are back together because they’re making out in the bushes.” She lifted the hand clutching the cupcake. “Plus Bethany made cupcakes. I’ve eaten like seventeen of them so it’s all kale juice and chia seeds for me for the next couple of days.” She took a bite of the cupcake. “But so worth it.”

“Sorry, I really needed to finish this.” Lucy gestured toward the tapestry on her loom.

Audra drifted closer. “Is that you?” She pointed at the dark haired woman pictured clasping the hands of a golden haired man in a forested glen.

Lately the scene dominated Lucy’s dreams. Finally she’d woven it in the hopes that pinning it down on a tapestry would remove it from her brain. It was probably nothing more than a random image generated when her sleeping brain was mucking about. But still, Audra’s innocent question made her uneasy. “Why do you say that?” she asked.

“I don’t know, just something about her,” Audra said. She made a waving away motion with the cupcake before changing the subject. “I’m here to make you have fun. How often do we celebrate being witches? Most of the time it’s just a lot of hiding. But tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999. But 1999 B.C., not AD– you know, before all those nasty rumors about consorting with the devil started.” She punctuated her speech with a swig off the champagne bottle.

Lucy was tempted to kick off her shoes, get drunk,and run wild with Audra. The Coven rarely got together as a whole, and most of the witches present she only saw a few times a year. Members of the Coven of the Sword, of which her father was the leader, tended to pop in and out, staying various lengths of time. So the majority of the year, she rattled around with just her father in this huge mansion that had once been a private school.

Rumor had it that the school had actually been more of a warehouse for the troubled children of the wealthy. A place for kids whose parents would rather throw money around to make them disappear than deal with any behavioral issues. It certainly accounted for the ten foot high wall that surrounded the expansive grounds. Plus, it was in the middle of nowhere, perched at the edge of a cliff that plunged into the ocean. But that expanse of land, sea, and sky was also perfect for witches.

But as much as she wanted to join the revelry outside, the greater part of her was drawn to a building set at the far edge of the property, well away from the bonfires. She’d visited it multiple times since the night its occupant was escorted in in chains. Enough that simple curiosity should have long been assuaged.

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. wikkidsexycool
    May 11, 2014 @ 08:13:08

    Hello Author,

    Thanks for having the courage to submit your work. I really enjoyed this and YES! I’d read on. Right now I think Audra overshadows Lucy, and its too bad you can’t give Lucy a few of Audra’s lines or a bit of her playfulness. Lucy seems destined to provide the backstory or be the sensible one, which could lean her toward Mary Sue territory. So I’d be mindful of inserting a supporting character who appears stronger on the first page than your heroine, at least in my mind. I hope you post a short blurb on the premise, and I wish you all the best with this.

  2. SAO
    May 11, 2014 @ 08:18:51

    Your writing is smooth and your description good. Too good, in fact; my spine felt sore with Lucy’s, which is not the feeling I want when I dive into a book.

    I suspect your story starts when Lucy goes to the far edge, why not send her there in para 1?

  3. theo
    May 11, 2014 @ 09:14:21

    Your writing is smooth, I agree. There’s not much happening here though. Lots happening outside, but not here. Just a conversation in a doorway. And a lot of thoughts that are backstory. And right now, I’m liking Audra more than your MC. I’d read on a few more pages to get a better feel of the MC, but I have to mention one thing. If your hero is Tapestry Guy, I read a book a few years ago (I want to say Kenyon, but I don’t think so, she was in an anthology titled Tapestry and no, not Dragonswan) where the hero was the man in the tapestry. I can’t remember if the Hn went back in time and found him or if he stepped out of the tapestry, but it was one of the two. Just sayin’…

  4. Kate Sherwood
    May 11, 2014 @ 09:25:03

    I’d keep reading.

    There were a few times when I felt a little off balance – in the first paragraph, the loom made me think of antiquity, then Mustang Sally brought me to the more-or-less present. And I’m not really sure what age our heroine is – again, the loom makes me think she’s fully adult, but she’s still living with her father…

    I don’t think this sense of being off-balance is a bad thing, really – I mentioned it in case it was something you wanted to run with! There are a lot of juxtapositions on this page, and it might be interesting to play with them more deliberately.

    Other than that – there are a few little awkward spots – you can probably rewrite that last sentence to avoid the “in in” if you try, and if you’re putting the periods in B.C. you should probably put them in AD too.

    But those are nitpicks. I agree that this MIGHT be better if you started further into the page, when Lucy goes to the far edge of the property, but this page didn’t scream “Starting in the wrong place!” at me like some first pages do.

  5. Shaya
    May 11, 2014 @ 10:09:50

    The writing is good, but I think it could be better and smoother with a little further attention. So far, I’m not seeing much of an original plot. The people-in-a-tapestry (or painting or statue) thing has been done before, the witches’ coven on the edge of a cliff has been overly done, and the strange man in an odd building has been done. I would need something original either in the book’s blurb or within the next page or two to keep me reading.

    The seventeen chocolate cupcakes jolted me. I would be behind a bush upchucking them, not bouncing around eating another one. That was the only place that completely pulled me out of the story. Maybe that’s just me and other people would have no problem eating that many. I just wanted to point it out because it was excessive enough for me to make me stop, reread, and cringe at the thought.

  6. Author
    May 11, 2014 @ 14:21:35

    Thanks everyone for commenting, I really appreciate it.

    Some common feedback seems to be that my secondary character is taking over, which is something I was afraid of. She’s actually the heroine of my second book and is a lot of fun to write for. But I guess that’s why they say writers should “kill your darlings”.

    The hero is actually a demon locked up at the edge of the property. He’s a bit of a snarky bastard, so maybe I should start with when the heroine goes to visit him. It’s the beginning of the action because he breaks out and takes her with him. (It’s probably a cliche too, except the demon is actually isn’t a demon- or that could also be a cliche. :) )

    Again, thanks for reading/commenting!

  7. Willaful
    May 11, 2014 @ 14:41:39

    I was a little thrown off by the coven leader being a man. All the covens I know are completely women-centric. That may just be my own experience, however, and different elsewhere.

  8. Patricia
    May 11, 2014 @ 22:21:47

    I liked this quite a bit and would keep reading, but there are a few changes I think you could make that would improve this page. The whole paragraph about the school’s rumored history can go. It yanked me out of the moment and isn’t clearly related to what is going on right now in this scene.

    Also, the conversation between Audra and Lucy has a bit of an “as you know, Bob” quality. Is Audra seriously going to tell Lucy that being a witch usually involves a lot of hiding or review the history of demon/witch rumors if they are both experienced witches already?

    In comparison to Audra, Lucy comes off as a bit of a stick in the mud here. It would be nice if we could see/feel more clearly why she finds this tapestry so compelling that she would skip out on the party of the year. She even thinks to herself that it’s “probably nothing,” so maybe she just doesn’t like fun? I didn’t understand her motivation here and need to experience more of her inner life to really get her.

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