Saturday, May 28, 2011

Made of Awesome Contest (First Page Contest with Shelley Watters)

Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton, AB (setting of Nepenthe)

Here's my first 250 words (263 to be exact, since we aren't supposed to end in the middle of a sentence.) Can't wait to peruse all your blogs and read your first pages as well. Good luck and thanks!
Title: Nepenthe
Genre: Paranormal Romance (Ghosts)
Word Count: 99,500

The first time I met Michael, I had no idea he was dead. I was locking up my cafe for the night, taking a deep breath of mountain air to wash the scents of cinnamon and dish soap from my nose. When I turned around, he was standing there, so close behind me that I almost ran into him.

My heart leapt into my throat. I could swear he hadn't been there a second before, but he reminded me of a stone carving that hadn't moved in ages. His eyes stood out in stark contrast to his jet black hair, with irises the colour of faded blue jeans that had been washed too many times. They were bright though. Almost gleaming.

"Good evenin', Miss." He couldn't be much older than me—maybe late twenties at the most, yet his formality and slight Southern drawl were right out of an old Western movie. He was dressed in very current looking dark jeans and a white shirt, though, so he didn't look at all out of place.

He reached out and gently took my hand to shake it. "I'm Michael." At his touch, a surge of butterflies invaded my chest.

Kicking myself for ogling, which I never did no matter how good looking the guy was, I forced myself to return the handsake. "Kate," I said, barely managing to get the word out.

Michael took a step back, giving me some space. "I have to confess, I've been trying to summon the courage to introduce myself for some time now," he said, looking anything but nervous.


  1. I like this a lot. The opening line says it all. I'd keep reading and, most likely, I'd buy the book. Great job.

  2. Oooo, so intriguing. I think the voice and description are both very strong here. I would definitely keep reading. :-)

  3. LOVE the first sentence. I would definitely keep reading. I think the description is great, very vivid.

  4. Perfect first sentence. I would keep reading to see where this leads. Good luck! :)

  5. I'm going to play devil's advocate on the first sentence - not so convinced it connects to the rest. Just my opinion, but with all the weird stuff going on after the first sighting, Michael's definitely different. So the "I had no idea he was dead" seems a bit off - do you think anyone you see and talk to is dead?

    BUT YES - this is good!!! Just a quick comment on my first impression of it. Good job and good luck!

  6. A great hook, it's very intriguing. I want to read to find out more about Michael. I'm not sure if it's completely believable that she would tell him her name without knowing who he was and what he wanted. But that is probably my inner New Yorker talking. Definitely a good beginning.

  7. i am curious how michael can touch her if he is a ghost. i think that alone will draw me in to read more :) the line about butterflies borders on overuse, but sometimes if the shoe fits...

    by the way, i just did some yard work in cold rainy cleveland, and i would love a breath of fresh mountain air right now!

    douglas esper

  8. Beautiful use of sensory details and imagery. Made these first few words come alive.

    From the context of the story, I would think Michale is a zombie, demon,or vampire more than a ghost since they're stereotyped as transparent or non-palpable. I'm sure you've explained the technicalities later on though.

    He sure is dreamy!

  9. Good strong start here. For someone who tries to think of something to say to everyone. I got nothing.
    Good luck in the contest.

  10. Thanks so much for all the feedback! This contest is great.

    Michael is a ghost and his handshake is explained in the first chapter :)

  11. I love a good ghost-romance story! It sounds sooo good, I totally want to read it, now! *Squees*!

    The only thing I'd cut would be "The first time I met Michael, I had no idea he was dead." from the first paragraph. He introduces himself on the 1st page in the 4th paragraph.

    Great job and good luck with the contest!

  12. I loved the opening lines. They're very surprising and propel the reader on. I also liked the unusual description of irises/faded blue jeans. That was great! The only thing I didn't like was "My heart leapt into my throat". That seemed a bit over-used. (I struggle to take things like that out of my ms--it's a battle.)
    Good luck!

  13. This was lovely. My only thought was, is it night? I would be scared if some strange guy suddenly appeared and introduced himself and no one else was around.

    But, setting that aside, I enjoyed your descriptions and the dialogue was natural.

  14. This is a great opening - really sets the scene well. The only thing I could add is that, and this is a personal thought only, butterflies invading denotes something unpleasant. Outside of that - I would definitely want to read more.

    Good luck.

  15. Intriguing opening.

    My thoughts:
    At least three repeats of "was" in the first paragraph -- consider tweaking to remove at least a few of these.

    Also, how could see the color of his eyes so well? She was outside at night, right? That tends to make determining eye color a bit difficult unless there was tremendous lighting in that spot.

    Best of luck!

  16. The only part I was confused by/curious about was the handshake. Is his hand cold, warm, normal feeling? I think there are so many vampire novels out there (which agents are sick of) that you'll need to be careful to differentiate Michael from an Edward Cullen type of character. But I'm very curious to see what makes ghosts different and special!

  17. The eye description is unusual and pretty. The eyes must have been very bright, considering it is night. (It is night, isn't it?)

    The thing that strikes me is the British spelling, but an undead from the American south (a southern drawl out of an old Western)? It's pretty interesting, but also a little odd. I am assuming it takes place somewhere in England anyway. Colour uses the British spelling and I tend to think of leapt (as opposed to leaped) as a more British word.

    Anyway, pretty interesting start to a romance.

  18. Oh, this is gorgeous. I love the opening line so so much. You've used descriptions very well. The only thing I can suggest, is perhaps (if you think it fits better, after all, you know your characters better than I do) having Michael greet the MC with a simple, "Evenin', Miss." instead of "Good evenin'." To me (and I'm Australian so this may be stereotyping) it seems more American South.

  19. Hey, storytreasury, I'm actually from Canada, where we use the British spelling. This story takes place in a small mountian town in Southern Alberta.

    Thanks for the suggestions, eh! (lol)

  20. this is pretty obviously romance, and it's good that it's easy to spot your genre in the first page alone. clean writing, interesting characters.

  21. The picture you paint here is great - scents, sounds, colors are all very vivid! I'm a sucker for ghost stories, so I would definetly read on. Overall, it was really refreshing to read!

    Good luck!

  22. Wow. So awesome! Goodness!

    LOVED the opening sentence.

    Thanks for sharing. Good luck!

  23. Oooh, wonderful opening sentence that gets you hooked. But, aha! You have the same issue that I have: too many "was". Try, "as I locked the door" or simply, "I locked the door." And maybe "When I turned, I found him standing right in front of me and I almost ran into him."
    Also, between the first and second sentence, there's a gap in the flow of the story, like Erica and Christy said. Perhaps explain how you know, or think, he's dead. Or add you couldn't get him out of your head while locking up. I get the sense that your character found this out way later, and usually you want your reader to learn as your character discovers, so this segue could be tricky.
    Good job, intriguing story. =)

  24. Like everyone else, I love your opening line.

    One thing I would change: "faded blue jeans that had been washed too many times" seems a bit redundant.

    Other than that, I don't have any other criticisms. This flows well and is clearly well polished. Great job!

  25. I also love the opening line. It's great. I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said. I love ghost stories, so I would definitely be interested in reading more. Good Luck!

  26. I know the contest has already kicked off, but I wanted to leave a comment for you anyhow (just didn't get to it yesterday).

    I really enjoyed this submit - loved the opening line, great hook, right off the bat!

    Solid scene development and imagery as well. And since I write about teenage ghosts, I get the same kind of comments (how can they shake hands?) - which makes me wonder, why everyone thinks a ghost couldn't do "human like" things? I'm not sure why we're not allowed to use our imagination on what a ghost could / couldn't do...after all, aren't ghosts the reason for why things go bump in the night? :)

    And the "was" issue? Yeah, I've got that too. Ugh.

    Anyhow, I really enjoyed your submit and would definitely read on to see what happens.

    Best of luck in the contest!