Oct 4, 2009


Click here to read the original query. (Originally posted as Vanishing Iron)
Click here to read the revised query.
Click here to read the first three pages (original submission).

Chapter 1

Choices surround us. We are faced with life altering decisions on a daily basis. However nothing could have prepared me for this. I did not truly believe that such things existed. I've read about them, I've studied them, but they are things of fairytales, legends.

This beautiful vampire has given me power over my own death. A choice. His kiss is earth shattering. His eyes could move mountains. Somehow I gained his attention, and he has gone through great lengths to be with me. I've tried to escape him, to run away, but his force is much too great. He has a power over me like a moon orbiting a planet. Our destinies have been intertwined, and I cannot break free. My body aches. My heart yearns for the one I love. Blood still spills out of the two small holes that have been pierced in my throat. I can either close my
eyes and drift away, or drink his blood and live forever.

This is my choice, and this is my story.

Chapter 2

Pure evil is staring back at me from my full length floor mirror. I may even be afraid of myself. My eyes glow a very bright crimson with black around the edges, as if the fire inside had burnt the curved periphery. I look like I have not had a "bite" in weeks. My skin, which is normally
pale, is almost iridescent now. The jet black pixie haircut is arranged in little spikes that spell trouble. The menacing grin is complete with two sharp fangs over my scarlet red full lips that look poised to wreak havoc amongst the unsuspecting city's people of Atlanta, Georgia.

The town won't be that unsuspecting considering the rest of the people at DragonCon will also be dressed in costumes ranging from Star Trek to Night of the Living Dead. In addition to the wig, glitter, and contacts, my costume is complete with a red tank with three holes sliced across
the front, a black leather floor length trench coat with three waist-high silver buckles, a black leather mini skirt, and black leather high heel boots that cover my knees but leave much of my thigh to be seen. Dare, I say it… I look hot.

This will be my second year to attend the huge convention/party that is Con. Last year, I went as plain old me, and in a crowd of freaks, the normal person is the weirdo. I, a Con virgin, walked among the pirates, wookies, zombies, and even got to pet a real live functioning R2-D2. To
call DragonCon a convention would be an insult. It is a place of worship to all geeks, freaks, and nerds, and a source of entertainment to anyone else who dares to enter. This year, we plan to submerse ourselves in this magical wonderland.

I am in the midst of trying to add a little more dark shadows under my eyes to give myself the true undead look, when the doorbell rings. It must be Christian, my best friend, who/ is /a true fanatic. He is the reason I even started attending these types of things and unlike me, he
is a fan of it all. I slide down the banister to get to the door. Safer than taking the stairs in these boots.

I fling the door open, and there he stands. We both let out a scream and begin cackling at each other. No one is really scared, we are just that silly. Christian is a yicky-ucky zombie, complete with a tattered, stained, once-white shirt, pants that actually look like they had been buried, and suspenders. His normally perfect hair is dirty and a total mess at the top of his head. His skin has been painted a weird grayish green, and his mouth is bloodstained. No one would recognize this scary critter as my normal, calm, clean-cut best buddy.

"Felicity Johnson, you look a-freakin-mazing. I would have never thought that you, of all people, could pull this off." I should be offended, but he is quite right. Everyday me is not sexy, not scary, and definitely not a vampire.

"Well, hello Pot, I must be the kettle," I say with a laugh while opening the door for him to enter.

Christian stands at about six foot and can best be described as cute as a button. His dark brown hair, the color of tree bark, comes out in front of his face in a wave. His skin, when not covered in goop, is a nice golden tan. His face is clean shaven and smooth, and is small and angular. Although today he is wearing contacts, his nose normally holds his silver rimmed glasses. Behind them peer soft green eyes.

"Hey, listen to this," I say, letting out a very non-intimidating version of a snarl. "I've been practicing."

"Um, keep practicing; you sound like a drowning kitten."

I look at him with my pouty lip showing. I at least sound like an angry kitten, not a completely helpless one.

"Hey, Fee… I…I…," Christian stutters. Great, this cannot be good. "I may have kinda invited Mike."

Way worse than not good. Mike Fletcher is Christian's best guy friend who is nothing like him. More like his alter-ego. Where Christian is sweet, understanding, and everything a girl looks for in a best friend, Mike is a chauvinistic, egocentrical, pig-headed jerk. I cannot tell you how many times he has tried to randomly grab my breasts. It is a mystery to me why they are even friends. Well, they were fraternity brothers at Georgia, and from what I hear, that bonds you for life. Lucky me.

"Why, in the name of everything holy, would you do that?" I ask as I look down, feeling very exposed. It's one thing to look this way in front of Christian and tens of thousands of random strangers, but Mike will never let me hear the end of it.

"He swears that he will be good, and he is excited about meeting some of the celebrities, and /he/ is even dressing up," Christian says, looking a little proud of himself.

"Is he meeting us there?"

"No, he is meeting us here." That's it. I am going to have to kill him.

"Are you telling me that you gave Mr. Grabass my address? Christian, what were you thinking?"

"You are totally over-reacting. Just calm down. He's not that bad."

The door bell rings, and I jump ten feet in the air. Just wonderful. I don't have time to tone down the outfit. I am stuck dressed as sexy vampire with only a piece of wood separating me from my nemesis. Might as well get this over. I sling open the door.

"Hey sexy lady, where's Felicity?" Mike says with a wink. I just turn on my heals and start to walk away, when he adds, "What's eating her? Wish it was…" I punch him in the stomach before he can finish that thought.

"Dude, you said you would behave," Christian states, as he turns his head and looks at Mike like a puppy dog.

"Man, that's before I knew she was going as Sexy Fee." He looks at me and tries to turn on the charm. "Felicity, I am just kidding. I think it's cool you got all dressed up. You look really nice and very realistic. Can I lick your fangs?" He almost had me believing that for a minute.

"Absolutely not, but I do love your costume," I say, changing the subject.


FictionGroupie said...

It is a little hard to give a detailed critique via the comments box, so I'll give overall. The issues that probably stand out the most for me are that there is a lot of info dump type description instead of it being worked into the action and there is a a good bit of telling instead of showing.

Also, even though I know that your chap 1 started out as a prologue, it still reads like a prologue. It's also reminiscent of the twilight prologue. So make sure your REALLY need it.

If you would like for me to give a more detailed critique, just email me fictiongroupie(at)gmail(dot)com and I can critique it in Word, then send it to you as an attachment. I'm no expert, but I'm part of a critique group that doesn't let me get away with much so I'm used to looking for these issues in my own writing. :) Good luck!

AjFrey said...

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Donna Hole said...

Well, shoot. I'm going to do this in two posts (maybe three) because I spent the last couple hours working on it and don't really know how to cut it down to the character count. So, here goes:

Let me start by saying if I browsed this novel in a book store, I would buy it based off the first two chapters. That second chapter is really catchy. I liked the pace, the jaunty and mischievous tone, the casual banter of dialogue. The personalities of the three really come alive in your dialogue. And the POV remains first person

There are some areas I think you can tighten.

1. Her description of her look in the mirror is flat, factual. You start off well with “Pure evil is staring back at me . .” but the statement loses its grip on the reader with “the jet black pixie” and “the menacing grin”. Make these “I” statements in keeping with the POV. There’s too many similes (metaphors?) in the description and it distracts from the actual look.

Maybe instead of just describing her looks, you could add how she “feels” about the costume. How unusually sexy and free. You’ve set up her character as conflicted, as perhaps having an identity crisis, from Chapter One, and showing her guilty feelings about how “hot” she looks will build on that trait. Don’t state she thinks she looks hot, he description and feelings will “show” it, as well as the reactions of the two men who enter the scene.

I like the statement “I may even be afraid of myself” but I’d make it the last thing she thinks before the doorbell rings.

2. I realize in the first few paragraphs you are giving us setting, but the mention of the DragonCon convention amidst the description of Felicity’s “scariness” dampens the tone you are setting. Leave the destination a mystery until Christian arrives, and you can integrate the convention (along with how she got involved) with his character. Give him some dialogue that shows not only his level of obsession but describes the atmosphere. Let them talk about their experiences.

3. You have two descriptions of Christian: One in costume when she opens the door, and another about what he normally looks like. I don’t think at this point we need to know what he normally looks like, and you summed up the difference quite well with “No one would recognize this scary critter as my normal, calm, clean-cut best buddy.” Another reason for not spending much time on his looks is because you kill him off (or at least he “disappears”) pretty early in the story, so we need to know more about their relationship than his appearance.

4. There are too many cliché phrases and repetitions. Cliché examples include: dare I say, I look hot; cute as a button; these types of things; jump ten feet; like a puppy. Repetitions, not only of word choice, but of concepts: sling open the door; vampire, and sexy vampire; puppyish looks or actions; the hair, the lips, the Con. We get it that they are going out in costume and completely out of character. Don’t keep telling us; you’re showing us in your descriptions. Keep the neutral phrases/descriptions to a minimum. Descriptions that start with “the” anything are dragging down the pace of the scene. In my view, you have some very intriguing, original phrases that make the clichés stand out even more because I know you can do much better.

Donna Hole said...

Phrases I really loved: I slide down the banister to get to the door. Safer than taking the stairs in these boots. "Well, hello Pot, I must be the kettle," "Are you telling me that you gave Mr. Grabass my address?”

There is also a conflict in terms, for lack of better phrasing on my part, in her vampire snarl. She states it is “non-intimidating” thinks it is at least “angry” sounding. Looking at him with a “pouty lip” is response enough; you don’t really need the rest of the tag. And in the description of Mike its “egocentric” not “egocentrical”. And what’s with the “/he/”?

Sorry this is long. I’m really trying to wrap it up.

My final comment is on Chapter One. It doesn’t read as a prologue to me, it reads as a query pitch or book jacket blurb, and is in complete contrast with chapter 2. Chapter one is dramatic, heart breaking; chapter two is flirty and rebellious. For the contrast to work, I think it needs to be more about the “reasons” behind her choice, not just a description of the vampire’s powerful hold over her.

In this first chapter, though she tells us she’s made a choice already, you hint at indecision in your closing argument: I can either close my eyes and drift away, or drink his blood and live forever. I also get a sense of - flux? - in the time tense. Nothing specific there, it just feels like it is sometimes in present, and sometimes in past, but I think it is actually in the future. A foreshadowing of the “choice” to come.

Throughout her description of her fate, there is a sense that she is unhappy with her choice, unsure about whether she truly had options. This is reinforced for me because she describes her vampire lover as too powerful to get away from, though she has tried, but you do not “show” her thoughts and feelings; what, besides his supernatural charisma, draws her to him despite the danger. I get a sense that she feels obligated to be with him because of his sacrifices for her, but is not in love. Certainly not the type of enduring love that would last for all eternity.

This chapter begs the question: In the sequel (if there is one) does she again attempt to escape him, and who would be her savior?

I’m going to say that I don’t think the story needs this chapter, or prologue. It is beautiful and passionate, but maybe written more for the author, to remind her of where the story is to go, how it is to end? I like that it is short; almost abrupt. I really liked the end: This is my choice, and this is my story.

I am looking forward to seeing more of this novel. It seems like a very good read to me, something I would enjoy immensely. I have not read the Twilight series - maybe because I saw the movie first, and didn’t like it. Shame on me, as I know the book is always better than the movie, but I haven’t been able to get interested in the series. But I’m not getting the sense that this is a YA novel and if that’s the case, then I’d advise you not to model your novel at all against THAT novel.

There is plenty of adult vampire fiction out there with moral themes, if this the direction you are headed. Think Lestat; think Underworld. Look for the novels with the sexual undertone, if that is really where you’re going. I think Sherrilyn Kenyon might be a good place to start reading, if you haven’t already read everything you can in the adult paranormal.

Good Luck;


AjFrey said...

Thank you so much, Donna! I'm shelving the prologue for a while. And seeing what responses I get. I'm afraid that the novel will be too jarring with out the fair warning, but I'll let it ride without it for now. This round of edits has been so productive that I'm putting the querying on hold for a while. I ended up adding a few scenes. Hope you'll check out my blog.