Thursday, February 26, 2015

First Page Critique #5

Hello, everyone! 
Here is another first page critique. I really hope you guys are finding these critiques helpful!

First Page: 

There are three types of people in this world: the oppressors, those running from the oppressors, and those unaffected by the oppressors. Guess which group counts me as a member? [This paragraph feel a little unfinished to me...I think it might help if there was a sentence to help the transition between this one and the next, so that it connects with the rest.]
The final bell rang. I’d have to make it home on my own today; his appointment [Whose?] was at 1:45, and I doubted he’d be back yet. I decided to try a new tactic. Instead of dashing out the front door at 2:19, like I did every other day, I lingered at my locker. [I like the voice/language here.] My heart pounded in my chest. Could I do it? Could I really slip past them? [I'm a little unclear here...the narrator (she/he? seems female) first says "his appointment," and here she/he is saying them.]
Right now, they’d be on the front steps of the school, waiting for me, searching for my face in the throng of students clogging up the entrance. Maybe they would find one of their other targets and forget about me for today. Maybe if I delayed long enough, either they would leave or he would arrive. [Is the narrator a target of bullying? How so? He? The one who had the appointment?]
I rearranged my notebooks and swept the junk at the bottom of the locker – gum wrappers and rubber bands and paper clips – onto the floor with my hand. [I think this is a nice job of showing something about the characters environment.] I took my phone out of my pocket and checked the time. By now, all but a few stragglers will have exited the building. I sifted through the coats and sweatshirts stuffed onto the hooks and found my old green windbreaker. Ha! So that’s where it had gone. I pulled it on and tried to stretch the sleeves down. No doing; three inches of boney wrist stuck out at the bottom of each sleeve. Whatever. I pushed the sleeves up to the elbows and headed down the hallway to the back door.
Most of the other students – the ones without after-school activities - had already left the school. It felt strange to be in the building; I was not an after-school activity person. A janitor walked by, rounding up little bits of trash and dust with his enormous broom. He kept his head straight, but his eyes slid over and gave me a quick glance; he knew I didn’t belong here. [Not a bad start. I think there are some things that need flushed out, such as why is the narrator is reluctant to leave this time? There are a number of things that readers could infer, so you'd want to clarify.]

Saturday, January 31, 2015

First Page Critique #4

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great holiday season. I know I am very late on a critique, and I'll do my best to post more often. Happy weekend!

First Page:

The shower gurgled behind me, draining away cold water and sweat. Beads of moisture on my legs turned warm as I stepped from the tub and relinquished myself to the heat. It was early June, but the cicadas were already blaring beneath the angry sun. It was the beginning of a remarkably hot summer.

I stood, damp in the doorway between my bathroom and bedroom, staring at the bed. Seven AM and my yellow lab, Scout, lay where my husband should have been. I tried to remember the last time I had seen him. Some nights he came home and stumbled into bed. Other times I woke up and found him face down on the couch. But on the nights that our ships never passed, I didn't know where he was sleeping. Buried under the weight of my own stubbornness, I tried not to think where he could have been.

Sweat was already beginning to form on my forehead. I took my towel and blotted it away, grumbling to myself as my air conditioner perched pointlessly in my window. My only relief from the heat had bit the bullet. So I stood naked before my closet, avoiding dressing and sealing in the heat, when I heard a knock at the door.

Wrapping myself in a towel, I thought irritably of my grandmother. I was sure she was standing on my front porch, bursting at the seams with coffee and gossip. She showed up some mornings to ride to work together, despite the fact that she claimed to have retired.

“Grandma, it’s open!” I shouted from the loft. Scout thumped her tail at the prospect of a visitor. When I didn’t hear the front door squeak, I looked at her and said, “I guess she’s going deaf.” She paced back and forth with her ears perked up in excitement. I closed her in the bedroom. She had a history of jumping, and I wanted to prevent a broken hip at all costs.

Tucking my towel tight around me, I headed down the stairs. My damp feet slapped against the wood floor as the knocking sounded again.

“I’m coming!” I shouted and reached for the door knob.

It’s funny that in those unsuspecting moments when we find our most sensitive selves exposed, we react in our truest nature. In my mousy haired, green eyed way, I was so taken aback by the person standing in my doorway that I must have looked like a forest animal, snuck into the nearest shelter, still soaked from last night’s rain. And I stopped, as if a passing car caught me in their head lights, shocked, yet unable to move.

A pair of eyes, balanced between gray and blue found me, naked beside my dryer worn towel. My skin tingled in the awareness of its exposure. His dark, disheveled hair threw a shadow over those eyes as they found mine. Work boots and dirty denim, covering long legs that led up to a broad torso, wrapped in a carelessly wrinkled white t-shirt. Tall. Tall enough to intimidate or comfort. He was a sleepy image, as if he’d just rolled out of bed. In my forest animal way, I blinked but didn’t move. This was not my seventy-eight year old grandmother.

“Oh!” I exclaimed, and pulled my towel tight over my chest. Though he quickly averted his eyes, I couldn't help but catch a hint of the devil in his smile.

“I’m sorry ma’am,” his low voice resonated. “I’m Tristan, farmer Carpenter’s grandson. I’m here to pick up the rent.” His eyes turned to me briefly before stealing back towards the ground.

Hiding my body behind the door, I said, “Oh, yeah. Of course. Um, just- just let me grab my check book. And clothes.”

A smirk flirted across his lips.


Not a bad start. I kinda felt a little lost at times, for example, I thought the couple sentences about her husband were a little jarring because we really don't learn anything else. (I know it's only a page.) I also wasn't sure what type of relationship she has with her husband, but it sort of seems a little strained--we learn that he's slept on the couch. So you might consider showing the reader a little more about her marriage. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

First Page Critique #3

Hey everyone! Here with another critique :)

Happy Friday!!!

First Page: 


I’m guessing you’re still up. Can you call me?

After sending the text, Kat Williamson set her cell down and combed the tangles from her wet hair. When the phone rang, she answered on the first ring and shut the bathroom door in case her boyfriend, C.J. entered the adjacent bedroom.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” her stepmother Jilly asked.

“Yes, of course I’m okay,” Kat said quickly. “I’m about to go to the first major social event of my life, and tomorrow, I’m going to attend a real royal wedding with a prince no less. How could I not be okay, right?” She sank down onto the closed toilet seat and groaned. “I am so not okay.”

She closed her eyes and took a couple of long, slow breaths while ordering her spazzy inner teenager to go away. “What if I do something stupid tonight? What if I trip going into the Abbey in front of the television cameras tomorrow? Half the world will be watching.”

“You’ll be fine,” Jilly said softy. “It’s just a case of nerves. It’s to be expected. This is your first real public appearance with C.J.”

“What if it’s my last?” Kat whispered, voicing the real worry that had been plaguing her for weeks now. “What if he’s only doing this to give me something to remember him by? He’s done with grad school in less than a month. He’s going home to Höhenburg. The fact that I haven’t been there yet since I came to Europe is pretty telling, don’t you think?”


“See?” Kat said, trying not to cry. “You know I’m right. Maybe I should break up with him first.”



Overall, I think the writing is pretty solid. However, I didn't feel there was much of an into., so I felt like I was kind of thrust right into the story. I would maybe suggest just a little more of a set up for the scene to help readers get grounded in the story/page(s)--maybe a little interaction between Kat and her stepmother?). Also, I was wondering why she thought C.J. might show up...it seems that it's kind of late because she says she guesses he's still up. And her stepmother seems like she's just appeared, which was a bit jarring. Not a bad start, though :) 

Friday, November 7, 2014

First Page Critique #2

Hey everyone! I hope you guys are finding these critiques helpful. Please feel free to comment. Here is critique #2. 

First Page:

Nobody could outrun Rosa Walker. She raced along the eight-kilometer loop that encircled Wirthlin Base, passing enlistees and fellow officers as if they were standing still. Many increased their pace when her blond ponytail streaked past, but each would fall back after a hundred meters or so, shaking their heads.

Seventy-nine meters from the broken tree to the water tower, Rosa calculated. Elapsed time, nine-point-one seconds. Average speed: thirty-one-point-two-five kilometers per hour. Twelve minutes to dawn.

The numbers were a constant stream, a flood that ceased only when she slept. Most of it she pushed aside like background noise, focusing only on the bits she needed. Right now she was more concerned with putting one foot in front of the other, with the slow burn in lungs and leg muscles as she pushed her body to the limit.

Above her, a glittering arc of asteroids crossed the sky--the white and orange rings of Pegasus Four. They writhed as a trio of tiny moons spun through at eccentric angles, shepherding them into complex, serpentine waves. The rings grew fainter with every passing moment, paling until they might have been one long cloud stretched across the sky.

Soon the slow burn became a fire that would not be denied, and Rosa reduced her speed. A breeze filtered through the trees to either side of this part of the loop, stirring the azure foliage and cooling her face. Wind speed eight kilometers per hour, north by sixteen degrees west. Dawn’s light cast a reddish hue across the sky, promising rain before nightfall.

Ahead ran the neat double file of Wirthlin’s Tactical Armor squad--a dozen men and two women, all with hair cropped to a centimeter or shorter. Each bore the winged egg of the Nidus Defense Forces across their white T-shirts and athletic shorts. A pair of officers led the file.

Rosa wet her lips with anticipation. This was her favorite part of the morning run--the final 500-meters. About a year ago the TAG squad started running it with her whenever they happened to share the road. No one ever beat Rosa to the training yard, but they made her push herself hard.

The younger of the two officers spotted Rosa coming up from behind and caught the attention of Captain Reynolds, a steel-eyed man with a touch of grey in his brown hair. Reynolds checked the traffic on the road and nodded his approval. Eager grins rippled backward through the squad.

Just before they reached their marker, a lamppost on the right, a familiar sensation washed over Rosa. It was an invisible wave, a subtle vibration that reminded her of sunlight filtering through a canopy of leaves. She didn’t know what caused it, or why nobody else ever seemed to notice. It was just something she took for granted, like the numbers that inundated her day and night.

The squad spread out across the road beside Rosa and the other officers. Ten meters to the lamppost. Five. The Tactical Armor squad took off like lightning, but Rosa stumbled. A second vibration had joined the first, new and unfamiliar. It had its own rhythm, more rapid and erratic than the first. Like a bonfire flickering on a hilltop.

The others had almost a forty-meter lead by the time Rosa shook off her surprise. The new vibration was distracting, an anomaly that demanded explanation. She couldn’t focus, and it cost her precious seconds.

Rosa reached the exercise yard in fifth place. She tried not to let her embarrassment show as she walked a cool-down lap around the yard, but it was difficult. She hadn’t run that stretch so slow since before her last promotion.


I think you have some good descriptions here. For instance, I really like the imagery in the paragraph about the asteroids. However, I didn't really feel I got a good sense of the setting/characters. Are we on Earth? For me, there seemed to be an abrupt transition between this paragraph and the other paragraphs. I know it's only the first page, but I think this paragraph is the only one that hints at the story being science fiction. Also, I felt there might have been a little bit too much emphasis on numbers (why are the numbers so important to her and how is she able to calculate certain things?), and I would have loved to see some interaction between the characters.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First Page Critique #1

Hey, everyone! Here is my first post for the first page critiques. Thanks so much to everyone who has already sent me one. I know it's only the first page, but I hope you guys will find this helpful :)

First Page:

My parents got married two weeks after they graduated from high school. One year later they had my sister Sherry. Two years after Sherry, Valerie was born. Three years after Valerie, I was born.

My mother had children relatively easily; so, following the classical human pattern, they decided to go after one more child, hoping, of course, it would be a boy. Disaster! My mother did get pregnant, and the child was a boy; but my mother got an abortion because the baby was literally killing her.

I am told my parents reacted very differently to this tragedy, and their reactions would affect my life far more than my sisters’. You would think my mother would have become depressed by this loss. She didn’t. After a period of mourning, she snapped right back. She regained her health and continued her life.

My mother’s sound mind and behavior was a good thing for my sisters and me, because my dad fell into the deep end of the psychic pool. He was like King David mourning the death of Absalom. He was inconsolable. Family and friends could not comfort him. Even doctors were of little help.

I am one of the people who helped him come out of his depression. It’s true, but it’s not like cute, little me came up to my depressed father and said, “Daddy, I love you. Won’t you smile for me again? There’s a beautiful rainbow outside the door.”

No, it didn’t happen that way. You see, my dad is a gung-ho golfer. He even watches it on TV for fun, and he dreamed of playing golf with his son. That dream was lost, but at some point my father must have said to himself, “Well, I do have three living children, and one of them does show some interest in golf. If I can’t play golf with my son, I’ll play golf with my daughter.”

So Daddy took me at an early age and turned me into a golfing fanatic, and as a little girl I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I loved the attention my dad gave me, and I loved it that my older sisters would not get near a golf club.

Daddy was an excellent teacher. He taught me the classic Byron Nelson/Ben Hogan golf swing. He always bought me the best equipment, all fitted for my size. Plus, he indulged me with golf outfits galore. (I later rejected dressing like a girl on the golf course—too much work.) When he took the family to Scotland and Hawaii, he spent a lot of his time playing golf with me. As a ten-year-old in Hawaii, I would astound strangers with my long, straight drives. I loved to hear them say, “Wow! Mozart on the links!”

Laying aside all this materialism and pride, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed being on a beautiful golf course with my father. There he would tell me the secrets of his heart, as if he were talking to himself. I learned his thoughts about God, his family, and the world. I knew—probably even before my mother—when Daddy’s business was good and when it was bad.


I feel that there is quite a bit of telling in the first page here. For instance, the reader doesn't really learn much about the other sisters (also, the narrator isn't yet named), or her mother (we only really learn that she was able to handle the death of her son better than her husband); also, many readers might not be familiar with Byron Nelson/Ben Hogan golf swing, so you perhaps you could explain its significance (does her dad think it's the best golf swing? where did he learn it?). We are given a lot of information within a few paragraphs, but it's only snippets. For example, the narrator mentions a trip to Hawaii in only a sentence. I do like the father's love of golf was able to help him somewhat recover from his loss, and that the narrator enjoyed spending time playing golf with her father, but you might consider working on showing the reader how this was a bonding experience for them. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekly First Page Critique

I will be hosting a weekly first page critique. If you would be interested in having your first page critiqued here on my blog, please email your genre and first page to me at jordy[at] thebookeralbertagency[dot]com. Please put First Page Critique in the subject line. I'm hoping you guys will find this helpful! 

Current Wishlist

Below is my current wish list for what I'd love to see in my inbox (especially romance!) You can also check my bio on our website here

Middle Grade

Action/adventure, sci-fi/fantasy, contemporary...anything fun and entertaining, with great character and world building.

Young Adult

I'm looking for YA in all sub-genres! Especially contemporary and thrillers, sci-fi/fantasy and anything with a strong romance. Also, I'm looking for YA that has a more mature voice...and I love characters with sarcasm, wit, some snark, but still be likable. And of course, looking for fresh stories, or stories with familiar elements but are unique. Some favorite recent reads:

Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole
Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter


Romance!!! Smart, sassy, fun, sexy romances!!! Contemporary, Historical (especially Regency), romantic suspense/thrillers (with strong romance)...

Some of my favorite Authors:

Karen Marie Moning
Kresley Cole
Gena Showalter
Teresa Medeiros
Sabrina Jeffries
Lisa Kleypas
Eloisa James
Lauren Layne