Wednesday, January 14, 2009


TITLE: Varuna Kannon and the Caluminar's Cave
GENRE: YA Fantasy Adventure

Hey, get OFF ME,” cried the thin man. Hands pushed him out the smoky doorway and he staggered into the humid night air.

A balding muscleman wiped his hands and reached into his pocket to retrieve a cell phone. “And don’t ya come back until ya got money, Charlie. Ya bum!” He flipped the phone open. “Hey, hun…”

“Great,” Charlie muttered. He fingered a fresh tear in his already threadbare, over-sized jacket. He glared over his shoulder at the yellow-lit entrance to Wimpy’s Tavern. “Calling me a bum? Why don’t you look in a mirror!”

“Whadya say?” The goon lowered the phone from his ear.

“Nothin’.” Charlie scurried down the road’s paved shoulder, muttering under his breath. That dive used to be respectable before it got rebuilt after the Big Hurricane. Now he figured it was too highbrow for the likes of him.

Charlie’s eyes narrowed and scanned the ground for loose change. A glint of silver from a corner up ahead looked promising. Once under the streetlight, he saw it was only flattened bottle cap stuck in mud.

“Dang!” He kicked at the cap and got a clump of crud on his shoe.

Dejected, shoulders hunched, he thought about his next move. Maybe I can scam a couple of bucks off one of the night-crawlers, he thought. He straightened his jacket and looked for cars before setting across the West Saint Bernard Highway.

He’d have to cut through the military cemetery to get to the night-crawler’s usual hang out.


  1. Hooked, but is the "bum" a teenager?

    I'm guessing he is the MC.

    Good luck!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. To answer you, Sarah, the bum's the MC of this scene but not the book. Also he's not a teenager...I will have to look into the clarity of that point.

    Thanks for the feedback so far, ladies.

  4. This doesn't feel like YA, largely because the content so far is adult. Also, I'd rather know that the thin man is Charlie right at the get go--is there a reason you don't introduce him right away?

    The dialogue is great and the description is well done. I'd read on a bit to see where this goes.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I'm interested about the night-crawlers, but not quite hooked. I think the dialogue is holding me back a bit - like I've heard it before. It is effective in setting the picture of a drunken slob getting thrown out of a bar, though I guess he would only be a drunken slob if he had money.

    It is good writing. Try cutting to the action part of the scene, especially if this is a throw-away character.

  6. Your writing flows beautifully, I think, with excellent pacing and a good mix of action, dialogue, description and a little back story. I'm not yet seeing it as YA, probably because you call Charlie, who I assume is the MC, a "thin man." And I'm wondering if "night-crawlers" is used in its usual sense of referring to bar-hoppers, or if it's something different, since this is a fantasy... so, lots to wonder about, which is a good thing.

    That said, this doesn't quite hook me, possible just because it's not (so far) my kind of story, which of course is no reflection on your writing.

  7. Hooked!

    Great voice.

    [ETA: after reading your comment, Jarucia, I'm a little concerned. In this page, I felt real sympathy for the bum--I am afraid I would feel cheated if this was the last time we saw him, or if the rest of the bookwas from someone else's POV. It may not play out that way in the book, though.]

  8. For Beth and others...again, I appreciate your support:) THANKS!

    I know I'm taking a chance by placing this chapter first (it was first, then fourth, then first again).

    I am glad you all like the voice, etc. That's good. His is one of four shown in this book, but only one of them (and not Charlie's) is then main voice. The other three make brief appearances.

    Gads, I'm feeling paranoid. If I hadn't already had a bunch of people read beyond the first page and tell me it works, I'd probably be tearing my hair out right now.

  9. Can't say I'm hooked, but that's because it's not my kind of book. Good writing though.

  10. I like it. I don't have a prob with not seeing characters that start a lot. And I don't mind books that start with a character who is not the MC. James Patterson does it all the time.
    Well written.
    I do think I need a little more to be totally hooked, but I'd keep reading and see where it takes me.

  11. How old it the protagonist? If Charlie is the 'thin man', I'm not sure if this will hold a teenager's attention.

    I do like the name Varuna. Maybe she's the protagonist and this is just a prologue?

  12. I'm not hooked on this one, but I think that's because it's not my kind of thing. Good luck with it!

  13. Hmm, interesting premise but not quite working the magic for me. I'm not visualizing Charlie (or his age) or the world he's inhabiting. There's a lot going on here. I'd prefer to open with something clearer and more focused; maybe a single strong moment when Charlie faces a night-crawler (whatever that may be). I feel the night-crawlers may be the key to me feeling more engaged, because actually I do really want to know what those things are!

  14. Kind of hooked. I think if thise weren't fantasy, I might not be inclined to continue. I like the hints on setting that are in there and I like the image of a muscleman at a place called Wimpy's. I'd read more.

  15. I’m on the fence…
    Because Charlie seems interesting, I like his retort to the goon, and it smells of adventure, but it didn’t really grab me and pull me in. It was alright and I’d prolly read a bit further to see if I liked it though

  16. I thought this has possibilities. I got the impression Charlie was a throwaway character who may die at the hands of the night crawlers, and then the story would segue into the MC and what the swtory is all about. So while I'm not hooked, I would stay with you a bit longer to see if my guess panned out.

  17. I agree that the writing is good, but I'm still on the fence. I like Charlie's voice, and I'm intrigued by the night crawlers--should that be capitalized, btw? I'm just wondering how it fits in to YA.

  18. Sorry, but not hooked. I've got no idea what's going on or who is talking to who for the first 125 words or so. Plus, the tension doesn't seem strong enough to carry through an entire plotline.

  19. I'm really not so fond of this opening. The writing is there and I like the character (even if he isn't the MC) but I'd much rather see something different. Maybe show Charlie trying to break into some place and getting the boot or even trying (and failing) to pickpocket someone? The guy-coming-out-of-a-bar scene does feel like something I've read too many times and I think you've got so much going for you that you're wasting what could be.

    Right now, not hooked on the opening but would be with the same character starting somewhere different. Good luck with this!

  20. I absolutely love this one. I'm hooked. Charlie is an interesting character. The only thing that bothers me is Charlie seems old. It reads more like a adult novel, not a Y/A book. I still love it though and I believe young people would read it. I found none of it boring and loved the voice.

  21. A continued thanks to you all! I considered this piece really polished, but I can see where bits of clarity could be added here and there.

    I'm already at work on it.


  22. Well written, good scene setting. but I'm not hooked. Nothing that made me want to keep reading. It doesn't cross me as a kid story at all.

  23. At first I wasn't sure who "he" was. I like the overall flavor of this, Jarucia, and think you really have a chance with it. Secret Agent's tip about having Charlie meet with an earthworm is genius! I hope you will take her/him up on it. All in all, good job!

  24. Odd that you'd focus on such a looser type guy at the beginning. Is this the MC or just someone to lead us to the MC?

    I'd read a bit further to see if the story goes somewhere.

  25. Is the MC an adult? Title OD... maybe something simpler and not so hard to pronounce?