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

First Impressions: PORTAL

Thanks for the great response to Marcy Hatch’s first page on Friday!

And now it’s my turn. The first page of my WIP is appearing here and at Mainewords today.  I put this project aside to work on my revisions and line edits for THE CAGED GRAVES, but when I get back to it, I’ll probably do a major overhaul on the 55k words I wrote before moving forward. So feedback is very welcome!

This is the first page of PORTAL, a YA historical adventure.

When Aunt Eggletine suggested again that all their problems might be solved if her niece would just considermarrying her fourth cousin, Ardeth hurled a breakfast roll across the table.

Eggletine Meriwether ducked the airborne missile without spilling a drop of tea.  “Really, Niece!” she said. “For someone who doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from, you are quite reckless with your pastry.”

She had a point, but Ardeth chose to address the other matter. “It might solve yourproblems, Aunt, but I’d be the one married to him! A Harrison! Named Micajah, no less!”

“One shouldn’t judge a person by his name.”

Her niece raised her eyebrows. Eggletine Zylphia Meriwether would say that. “For all I know, he’s short and fat and bald.”

“For all he knows, so are you. And still he makes the offer.”

Ardeth sniffed. She was a catch.  Hadn’t that prince in Arabia offered her father a fortune to add Ardeth to his harem? “Hair like a field of wheat and eyes like limpid pools …” That’s what he’d said—and she only fifteen at the time!  Of course, when the prince went on to describe her figure, Erasmus Meriwether had clouted him in the nose.  They’d been lucky to escape in their hot air balloon, considering all the commotion that caused. Some of those flaming arrows had come awfully close!

“He’s blood kin.” Ardeth returned her attention to the subject at hand. “Our children would have two heads.”

“I doubt you share more than a drop of blood between you.” Aunt Eggletine polished her breakfast dish with her own roll. “Your children would be perfectly hale and hearty—not to mention wealthy.”

Of course, that was the point. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been a marriage offer at all.

“My grandfather picked him for me.” Ardeth delivered what she knew to be her most powerful argument. “That’s reason enough to avoid him.”

23 Responses to First Impressions: PORTAL

  1. SA Larsenッ says:

    Hot air balloon…whoa. I agree; can’t see that being a speedy escape.

    The language you’ve used really sets the scene. Your MC has a strong voice, but she seems ornery and even snooty. If that’s what you intended, then bravo! (I kind of felt like smacking her, though. lol)

  2. Sarah says:

    Hahaha–your dialogue is so sharp, Dianne. It has this sort of restrained ferocity to it, and I love that. The only thing that tripped me up was the repetition of Eggletine’s name, with the addition of an extra name each time, like I was being reintroduced to her three times in this one page. That’s extremely minor, though, and I’d love to see where this story goes!

  3. Linda G. says:

    I love, love, love that opening line!

    And then it just gets better. Great voice, and you know I love the funny!

    Seriously, I would read this in a heartbeat. 🙂

  4. I love this! My favorite line was: “For someone who doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from, you are quite reckless with your pastry.” That cracked me up.

    Cant’ wait to read the rest of the book. 😀

  5. Lydia Kang says:

    What a great exchange between the two! I loved reading this. 🙂

  6. mshatch says:

    Still love this exchange 🙂

  7. Chris Fries says:

    I stumbled a bit over that opening sentence, but I loved the aunt’s first quote.

    Actually, all the dialogue is wonderful!

    The bit about the prince and the punch in the nose and the escape in the hot air balloon seems a little distracting and over-the-top, especially for an aside. I think it detracts from the immediate scene, especially during this all-important opening.

    But the tension and drama and conflict are well-established, and the ending line adds a lot of interest: I’m curious to know more about Ardeth and who this grandfather is.

    Bottom line — I’d keep reading!

  8. I loved this, and really had to dig deeply to find anything to nitpick. The dialogue is spot on, and your name choice, perfect. The only word I stumbled over a tad was “clouted.” It certainly fits, definition-wise, but wouldn’t the word “punched” be just as effective? And did Arabs use flaming arrows? Knowing your propensity for doing research, I trust that they did, but I found that surprising. Loved this beginning! Please get back and finish it ASAP!!

  9. I have to agree with the other comments. Your dialogue is sharp and witty and I love all the extra thrown in (arabs, grandfathers, hot air balloons) They make me want to keep reading!

  10. This is historical, yet referencing a roll as a missile feels modern.

    There was one point the narrative felt like it shifted from close third to omniscient third:

    Ardeth sniffed. She was a catch. Hadn’t that prince in Arabia offered her father a fortune to add [her] to his harem?

    The names are tripping me up a little. I know you were poking fun at one of them, but there’s a lot that’s tongue tying. It makes it hard for me to recommend a book when I forget the character names.

    Otherwise, the dialogue sounds very witty and I love the premise!

  11. DL Hammons says:

    Your writing is so fluid and easy to read. The dialog all sounded so natural. KUDO’s!!

  12. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love your voice throughout this bit! Very strong – I’ve got a great sense of characters, setting and plot already! 🙂

  13. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love your voice throughout this bit! Very strong – I’ve got a great sense of characters, setting and plot already! 🙂

  14. Susan Oloier says:

    Your voice is grand and dialogue snappy. My two cents: I would start with the line “Ardeth hurled a breakfast roll across the table.” Then fill in from there. I truly want to read this book based on your opening page.

    BTW…I used to teach. I no longer teacher for the reasons you mentioned. It’s very sad what education is coming to.

  15. Maria says:

    A fun read. I won’t rehash points addressed in other comments, except to agree, too many names. I was thrown off at “Erasmus.” I mis-read it as the aunt’s name, and so the whole paragraph confused me. Even now, I’m assuming Erasmus is the father, but not entirely sure. The “limpid pools” line kind of stuck out oddly too.
    I love the hot air balloon. . .

  16. Alicia C. says:

    I love all the comments! Yes! The Dialog is awesome. Very easy to read, flow is great. Snappy. Only thing that struck me was the name thing. So. Many. Names. On the first page. I guess I question how many people do we really need to get introduced to Right Now? I love the names themselves…but there are quite a few of them, all at once. I would most definitely turn the page, as the set up is one that interests me. Well done!

  17. I like it. It gives us tons of information about the characters(whom I already like very much), the setting, dilemma and a taste of what we’re in for. Good stuff!

  18. I’m sorry, I’d love to have something to constructively comment on but I loved the whole thing as is. I’d like more 🙂

  19. Pk Hrezo says:

    Dianne, this is so fun! Really really fresh and real. I stumbled on that opening line too… and I think I know why… I’d switch it to say “When Aunt Eggletine again suggested ….” even then, something feels a but to wordy with it. But only the first part. Not sure how to whittle it down.
    Anyway, I LOVE the name Eggletine. too funny!
    I’d keep reading this as well. Such a great tone!

  20. I loved it, period. The pastry line really made me laugh out loud. LOVE it.

  21. Thanks for the comments, everyone! I will be giving the opening chapters of this one an overhaul soon, and the feedback is invaluable, as always!

  22. farawayeyes says:

    “For all I know he’s short, fat, and bald.

    For all he knows, so are you.”

    What’s not to love here?

  23. Ooh Dianne you are GOOD girl, at your historical! Love the names and the MC’s sassiness. The only thing I’d suggest is italicizing the word “again” in the first line (or deleting it), because I tripped over it and thought that would be the solution.