Friday, October 14, 2011

First Page Friday

I am so excited to tell you that all of my fiction books are now available on Kindle! I noticed the last two were up yesterday.

My first three books were LDS romantic suspense, Through Love's Trials, On the Edge, and Time Will Tell, and they were spinoffs of each other (meaning a character was introduced in one and appeared in the other--they can be read stand alone.)

My second series of three books, All's Fair, Dangerous Connections, and Ribbon of Darkness are all finally together on Kindle as well! (You can find the links by clicking on the images in my sidebar).

In All's Fair, we have Brandon and Rachel's story, and are introduced to their co-worker, Tyler Winthrop. Dangerous Connections is Tyler's story, but we are also introduced to Ethan Barak in the book and Ribbon of Darkness is Ethan's story. Make sense? (Although just to reiterate, you can read any of them stand alone. You just have a bit more backstory if you read them in order is all.)

Anyway, All's Fair is only $5.59 on Kindle (Dangerous Connections is $9.99) and I was excited to see that my publishing company had gotten the last two up yesterday.

Are you ready for First Page Friday? Let's get to it.

The Entry
Death Comes to the Lunch Gentleman

by Jessica Patterson

I got a phone call this last week. It was from my childhood friend Billy who I hadn’t heard from in fifteen years, although from his blasé tone you’d think we talked every five minutes.

“Hey Mona,” I had to rein in a strong impulse to run out my backdoor and scurry barefoot through the dirt over to the ponds we’d both grown up loving. I was only stopped by the stubborn fact that I lived a thousand miles away from those ponds.

“Billy stinkin’ Wright. How the heck in the world for all that is good and holy are you? Geez I can’t believe I’m talking to you.”

“He’s gone Mona.” I can’t explain it physiologically, but I’m pretty sure all of my internal organs combusted and then ten seconds later, saints-be-praised, miraculously reformed.

“Does it feel different?”


“Just pretend you’re in touch with your emotions and feeling garrulous. What is it like not to have him there?”


“Just because you don’t choose to use it very often doesn’t mean I don’t know you know the English language Billy. Just answer my question. So there was no earth shuddering or volcanic eruptions or stars falling from the sky or thunder or at least some dark clouds?”

“The weather was fine.” I didn’t believe him.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

This week’s entry marks the first rewrite I’ve received since assuming the Ms. Shreditor role. I have reviewed the original sample and my critique (from August 19, 2011) so let’s get to work examining what’s changed and what hasn’t.

In my initial critique, I expressed doubt over the choice to begin with a phone call that happened a week ago. The rewrite also establishes that the phone call happened a week ago. Again, is it important that the phone call happened a week ago, or would it be better to begin the story at the time of the phone call?

I really liked this bit: “I had to rein in a strong impulse to run out my back door [note inserted space here] and scurry barefoot through the dirt over to the ponds we’d both grown up loving.” While I liked the original version, this one is somehow more poignant to me. It establishes not only vital details about Mona’s upbringing, but shared history between these two characters.

In the comments of my original critique, Melanie Goldmund made an important point: Make sure that dialogue tags line up with the speaker. In this rewrite, we have Billy greeting Mona and, a few moments later, telling her that “he’s gone.” In both instances, the dialogue is followed immediately by Mona’s introspection. For a split second, I thought that it was the narrator talking. A simple paragraph break here might do the trick and minimize reader confusion over who is speaking. You don’t want your readers to have to jump through hoops and reread a lot of text to determine who is speaking at any given time. That said, I like that this author doesn’t overuse dialogue tags like “he said” or “she said,” a tic that can be just as detrimental to flow.

There’s one addition that was a bit jarring to me: “Billy stinkin’ Wright. How the heck in the world for all that is good and holy are you? Geez I can’t believe I’m talking to you.” Read “How the heck in the world for all that is good and holy” out loud. Is this something that a young person would actually say? And is this the tone you want to set for the conversation? Is this the first impression you want the reader to have of Mona?

I’m still somewhat troubled by the cryptic reveal that “he” is gone. We don’t know who he is, but after a second read, I’ve decided that this adds an element of mystique that will keep the reader turning the pages. This is the beauty of a reworked sample: Sometimes, tweaks elsewhere can help other previously jarring elements to fall into place.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted to First Page Friday. If you would like to submit your sample, please follow the guidelines in the sidebar. See you next week!


Janice Sperry said...

I don't think one week is far enough back to warrant a flashback - especially if you're starting with it. Start with the phone call.

I held the phone in my hand and the voice on the other end made me feel like the last fifteen years hadn't passed by. (Only in your words)

I didn't like her greeting. It was too 1960s. I'm not sure I've ever heard a person use Geez in real conversation. But maybe that's because I'm from Utah and all we use is gosh.

I realize they were best friends 15 years ago but I think back to my childhood friends and if I got a line like 'He's gone,' I wouldn't have any idea who they were talking about. This is also confusing to the reader. Just say who it is.

Your voice is good. Your tone is good. Love the rest!

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful. You've got a great voice going for the character. For two people who haven't seen each other for such a long time there is, however, a bit too much familiarity bettween the characters. Their greetings are very familiar. The information they exchange is done in a way that conveys monthly if not weekly interaction between the characters (or even daily). You can either change their relationship as being familiar. Or you can change the dialogue/phone conversation to convey a sense of politeness rather than reaching out through the phone to high five each other. You may also want to convey the point of view character's frustration in trying to place the voice they are hearing, or maybe a forgotten name, and trouble recalling details from the past. Its just too familiar for two people who haven't seen each other for such a long time...

Sarah Pearson said...

That first line of dialoge jarred with me a bit, too. It just seems a little too long for a surprised reaction.

Also, Billy's dialogue ('Hey Mona' and 'He's gone') seem buried, I would put them on their own lines.

That said, I like this, and I would want to read on, well done.

Julie, all your books look so pretty over there on your sidebar - congratulations :-)

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Sarah, thank you! I thought so, too. :)