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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | First Impressions: MINGLED

First Impressions: MINGLED

Our second First Impressions this month comes from Angela Brown, author of NEVERLOVE. This is the first page of her YA urban fantasy WIP, titled MINGLED.
Rubbing my parents’ gold coins for luck was a bad habit.
And a terrible idea. Their disappearance was proof enough. I just couldn’t stop myself. Until graduation, that’s all I had of them, all I could turn to when I needed to feel their presence the most.
I shook my head and slipped their coins into my pocket. Leaning into the hallway, I took in the dim lighting and shadows.
 Empty. Perfect.
Carpet muffled the clunky footfalls of my hand-me-down boots and the loud click from closing my bedroom door. I crept along the wall, listening for anything at all. No surprise I only heard my pounding heartbeat. The other kids were at school, the same place I should’ve been five minutes ago. Screwy alarm clock! Why didn’t it work?  Each step downstairs brought me closer to the first floor, closer to getting away from…
“Whitley!” The corners of my lips curled into a hurried grin.  “Didn’t expect to see you.” At least it was the truth.
She stood at the foot of the stairway, pinning me with narrowed eyes. A familiar gelatinous material molded flush to her ear, whisper thin. Her Collective Communications Tag. Unlike mine, hers included the virtual extension with the wrap-around lens fitted to the eye. A major upgrade overnight? Wonder who she sold out to get it?
This first page raises a lot of questions, which I’m sure the author did intentionally. Where is the narrator – possibly in a group home or the dormitory of a boarding school? Who is Whitley, and what is a Collective Communications Tag?
There are a couple things that could be tweaked. I really liked the first two paragraphs and the tantalizing information about the gold coins. But if her parents “disappeared,” why does she think she’ll see them at graduation? Because that’s the impression I got. Rubbing the coins for luck is a bad idea, because her parents disappeared. (The connection between the coins and the disappearance is implied, but not yet explained.) Then she says the coins are all she has of her parents until graduation, implying that at graduation she will have her parents back. If she knows they’re coming back, is disappearance the right word?
Regarding the Collective Communications Tag – if the narrator has one too (I’m guessing they are standard), then the earpiece is not the first thing she’s going to notice. It’s the upgrade lens that will catch her eye first, so the lens should be described before the earpiece.
That’s all I have. Readers, do you see anything else that needs to be addressed?
Angela, thanks for sharing your page with us! You can find Angela at her blog, and don’t forget to stop by Marcy Hatch’s blog to see her feedback on the same page.

11 Responses to First Impressions: MINGLED

  1. I didn’t get the impression that she’d get her parents back, per se, but that she’d get more back that connected her to them. Maybe after graduation, she’ll be old enough to inherit her parents things, move back to her childhood home, or investigate their dissapearance further? From ‘leaning into the hallway…-to-…heartbeat’ I feel like the descriptions could be tweaked a little- flow a little bit better. Using the MC’s clothes or physical surrounding as sentence subject makes things a little choppy for me when done too soon.

  2. Linda G. says:

    Oh, definitely intriguing! I like it. 🙂

    One (possibly over-picky) thing: the antecedent for the pronoun “their” in the second paragraph. It took me half a second to realize the reference was to the parents and not the coins.

  3. Dianne picked up on things I would never have noticed, because I love Angela’s writing style so much.

    “pinning me with narrowed eyes”

    I might have to steal that one. 😉

  4. Julia Tomiak says:

    I really like the idea of the coins, something physical linking your MC to her parents. I think we can all relate to that. I also like the questions you raise.
    I’ve had agents tell me to introduce a character first- get her “on the stage” before she starts talking. What do you think about getting Whitley in the picture first,fancy communications tag and all, pinning your MC down, before your MC speaks to her? I think it would be less abrupt.

    Good luck!

  5. Pk Hrezo says:

    I love the voice and feel of it. I think Dianne brought up some great points to consider. Nothing to add to it. 🙂

  6. Angela Brown says:

    Thanks so much for all the helpful feedback 🙂 So excited to take it all back to my MS and work to improve this first page.

  7. I would agree with your thoughts, Diane, but I don’t have anything to add. I think it’s an intriguing opening!

  8. Maybe I’m just getting tired and my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders, but I experienced a lot of confusion with the usage of the “theirs” and “thems” early on in this piece. It took me a while to sort out whether the pronouns referred to the coins, or to her parents. As Dianne said, the story’s onset raises a lot of questions, and the voice is strong enough to keep readers turning pages so they can find out the answers. Good job!

  9. This is very intriguing and the voice is very strong. I think you have a great start and agree with Dianne. I was a little confused where she was. I found the coins an interesting piece, but was also confused on the connection with the parents. Otherwise, great start and best of luck!!

  10. Gwen Gardner says:

    I love Angela’s writing. The impression I got was of some sort of group home, perhaps for older almost-out-of-the-house girls. The gold coins are intriguing. It reminded me of a fairytale, where she rubbed the coins and her parents disappeared. It sounds like when she graduates she’ll inherit other things belonging to her parents, perhaps revealing something else.

    Lots of intrigue for a first page. I think it’s a great. She reveals just enough to hook me. Since it was pointed out, the “theirs” in the beginning did slow my reading a bit. Easily fixed, though. Great job, Angela!

  11. Susan Oloier says:

    I’m like Linda. I get so enthralled with Angela’s way with words, that I don’t notice those details. But I didn’t get the impression that her parents were coming back either.
    It really is a great hook.