Friday, May 3, 2013

First Page Friday & Ashes Ashes is Available on Kindle!

YAY!  My new book is finally available on Kindle!  I'm so excited for you all to read it and let me know what you think.

Click here for the Kindle link

Click here to add it to your Goodreads

On to First Page Friday!  As always, thank you to our authors and editors who spend so much time polishing and helping us all be better writers.

The Entry
Reigning Cats and Dogs
by Jane McBride

If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.  ~Woodrow Wilson~

I heard my front door slam open and I sent my fork clattering to my plate in alarm. Henry, my Great Dane, jumped up and we heard the frantic voice of my best friend, Kell Harris.

“Annie, I been robbed!”

Apparently she had expected us to be sitting in the living room and had attempted a dramatic entrance. Finding no one there, she came more slowly into the kitchen. Considerably deflated now, she said more quietly, “I been robbed.”

Kyle, my handsome fiancé, stared at her but I came out of my shock induced coma and leaped out of my chair.

“MMMwhat?” I usually don’t talk with my mouth full, but sometimes exceptions must be made. I took her trembling hands and began looking her over for bumps, bruises, and other signs of personal violation. With some effort, I swallowed my mouthful and tried again, “What happened?” Henry sat down casually near the table, thinking we might leave our plates unattended. He was hoping I hadn’t noticed, but I had. “Oh, go ahead, geez.” I dumped the remains of my plate into his dish and he smiled happily up at me before diving in. Kyle was up now too, and some long buried genetic male memory on the topic of chivalry had apparently come to the fore. He had been my knight in shining armor more than once and would look mighty fine on a big white stallion, but remembering to hold the door open for me on normal occasions was usually beyond him.

Ms. Shreditor's Comments

This piece opens with a Woodrow Wilson quote about dogs, and it’s an apt one. The heart and soul of this first page, for me, was the relationship between Annie and her dog. I like that he’s a constant presence in this scene, watching as Annie makes her melodramatic entrance and trying to capitalize on their distraction by sitting near the table. The quote suggests to me that Henry will be a major presence in this story.

One challenge here will be characterization. This piece drops some intriguing bits about each character (the dog-loving Annie, the melodramatic Kell, and the well-meaning but sometimes insensitive Kyle). These traits have the potential to turn these people into full-bodied, three-dimensional characters or cardboard cutouts. It will all depend on how they’re handled. Is Annie a perpetual attention seeker, or is there more to her behavior? Is Kyle just a good-looking fixture in the story, or will the story introduce more layers as it progresses? The first thing we learn about him is that he’s handsome, and this feels a bit gratuitous. Is this the most important thing we need to know about him from the outset? Isn’t it a bit contradictory to say that he’s forgotten the art of chivalry in one sentence and, in the next, that he’s been Annie’s knight in shining armor on several occasions?

I feel torn about the overall tone in this piece. Annie definitely has her own voice, but the narration feels stilted in places. For example: “Kyle was up now too, and some long buried genetic male memory on the topic of chivalry had apparently come to the fore.” I understand what the author is trying to achieve here—that snappy, snarky commentary that so many of us know and love in our fiction. But it doesn’t quite work here. If you read it out loud to yourself, it just doesn’t sound like how a person would speak or think—not because of the vocabulary level, but because of the syntax. Think about what you’re trying to convey—that Kyle’s inner white knight has been suddenly reawakened—and convey it as concisely as possible to maintain a snappy rhythm.

Again, this first piece suggests to me that the heart and soul of this story will be Henry. There is always, always a market for dog-themed stories. Make sure to flesh out these characters, particularly your narrator, in the early stages. The spotlight is on other people in this scene, so we don’t yet know much about Annie herself; she feels somewhat like a blank canvas. It’s okay if other characters steal the spotlight once in a while, but just make sure that none of them steals the show.


Jane McBride said...

Thanks for your comments. This is page one of the second book in the series. You did page one of the first book a couple of weeks ago (large stinky dog charging out of the closet and planting his front feet on Kell's shoulders). That book came out last September. This one came out in November. The comment about Kyle being handsome is gratuitous, yeah, I can admit that. I like thinking about his bad handsome self, so I think I sub-consciously threw that in there. Kell is usually melodramatic and all three of these people are pretty well fleshed out (I think) in the rest of the book. And, yes, Henry the dog is the heart of the story. He and Ann are my main characters. The beginning of each chapter has what I thought was an appropriate quote. when I got your comments on my other first page, I made and submitted revisions and had them in mind when I sent in a revision for the second book. I did try to make sure that this second in the series could stand alone, in case people read this one and not the first book, but these four characters were all well established in A Little Hair of the Dog. I'm working in book 3 and will probably be sending its first page on soon! Thanks for the help.

Debra Erfert said...

I love Great Danes. They have so much character. And Henry, so retrained, (I know he's big enough he could eat right off the table) sounds wonderful.

Debra Erfert said...

Oh, Julie, I've posted my review of Ashes Ashes on Goodreads, Amazon, and also on my humble blog, and then Tweeted the postings. Your book rocks!