Friday, November 28, 2014

(14) Contemporary Romance: LIKE LIGHT REFRACTED

TITLE: Like Light Refracted
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

When recovering alcoholic and cancer survivor Annette Miller takes charge of a historic Minnesota lighthouse, she gets more adventure than she bargained for in artist and fellow AA member Nils Egeland. But opening up to love exposes old wounds, and when a family crisis strikes, she must come to terms with her past to preserve her sobriety and her first chance at happiness in years.

If there was anything more perfect than cruising down Highway 61 on a June morning with The Boss on the stereo, Nils had yet to discover it. Oh yeah, he believed in a promised land. Here it was: Lake Superior glistening on the left, trees leafing up the hills to the right, and the dark flank of Palisade Head rising against a blue sky in front of him.

He couldn't have asked for a better day to start the paintings he owed Thordahl. Good thing. He'd already lost the first two weeks of tourist season; if this project was going to pay, he needed to get those prints into the Split Rock gift shop now.

At Silver Bay, he turned off the highway and climbed the long hill to High's Diner. Nothing had changed here while he was gone. The poster for the high school musical still hung in the dusty front window, a month after the show had ended. Pete Hakala still hadn't fixed the side panel on his F-150 from when he clipped that deer in November. Lazy S.O.B.

"Egeland!" Clint Hansen waved from their booth.

Nils limped forward, his bad leg stiff from yesterday's drive. Da**it. Summer and Springsteen notwithstanding, right now, he felt about as beat up as Hakala's piece-of-s*** truck.

He slid into the seat across from Clint, next to Jeff Palo. "When did you get back?" the pastor asked.

"Last night." Under the table, Nils massaged the old break. "Drove straight through from Ottawa."


  1. I'm intrigued by your logline, and I'd be interested to see how Annette and Nils' story unfolds, but the first 250 held a couple of problems for me.

    I've struggled with making driving scenes work in my own writing, and similarly, opening the novel with your hero in the car as a way to introduce the character and setting doesn't work well for me. I was thrown in the third paragraph, as well, since I pictured the hero still driving in the car when Clint calls out to him from the booth inside the diner. If you add a few words showing the reader that Nils has parked and walked into the diner, that would help.

    I also had a hard time with the number of named characters on the first page. Nils, Thordahl, Pete Hakala, Clint Hansen, and Jeff Palo. I wonder if there's a way to delay introducing some of those names until the reader orients herself in the story a bit more. Regardless, I hope the feedback here helps!

  2. You've given us a wonderful sense of setting, mood, and character without it feeling like that's what you're doing, so way to go! Unfortunately for me, that achievement has used up your allotment of words and I'm frustrated that I can't have another 100. That's a good thing, though, right?

    Not every novel starts with blazing action. (Also a good thing.) You've used your words well and there's no fat, but I'm not as far into the scene as I'd like to be. Too bad for me.

    I find nothing to criticize, but I will say that your use of swear words is perfect for this character and given that, I'm highly intrigued that one of Nils' buddies is a pastor. Tell me more! Good luck. Your work looks interesting and atmospheric.

    (Oh, one tiny thing--"Sliver Bay" may be what you intended, but my eye kept trying to change it to "Silver Bay." For what it's worth.)

  3. I was drawn in to comment by your logline, very intriguing premise. So I was a little surprised that the opening is about Nils and not Annette. This doesn't matter at all, though I am wondering if you have written in alternating voices/POVs. And I definitely want to read more to find out how they meet!
    I like your sparse use of language, and I find Nils likeable. You have portrayed him in a very real way. I definitely want to read more. I do agree with a previous poster that you have a lot of names up front--not only the names of the characters, but also the place names. Sometimes this can be confusing.
    Good luck and congratulations!

  4. I agree with the other comments about having a lot of names to take in a short amount of story. I liked the details they presented: the client he owes the paintings to, the friend who never fixed the truck, etc. Perhaps some of the names and places can be introduced as the story is told so they don't come at the reader all at once.

    I agree that you should add a little bit to have Nils transition from his car to inside the diner. Without the transition, it's confusing to the reader.

    That said, given Nils' return to where he used to live and his limp, it appears he will have an intriguing backstory. The meeting with Annette should be interesting.

    Good luck!

  5. I loved the longline, and the voice in 250! That kept me reading even when I was a little confused. The other posts have pointed out the number of characters and why I found it confusing was there wasn't explanation into who they were. Maybe adding a little description there would help the reader.

    Good luck!

  6. The atmosphere of your first paragraph is pitch-perfect. Music on, warmish air, beauty all around. I like it very much.

    I do think that--even though you say "notwithstanding" his mood does seem to change rather too abruptly the moment he arrives. I feel like it should take a second for that 'cruising joy' to wear off.

    Curious about his bad interesting detail. Either way I like your setting, and I wish you the best of luck and lots of bids!

  7. I can picture the drive, and it certainly sets the mood.

    The line "Nothing had changed here while he was gone" took me out of the story. I guess I expected this line to mean he'd been gone for years, but you've suggested otherwise. Maybe it feels like years to Nils?

    You've painted Nils as an interesting character, and I would love to see how he meets the challenges you throw at him. Good luck!

  8. Oh, yay, a romance. :) Love these. And I like Nils, especially since you paint him imperfectly, which makes him interesting. It's good that he's flawed, that he has an old leg injury. I'm eager to get to know him.

    I'm not sure starting out with him thinking to himself in the car is a good way to begin, and his good mood is shattered so abruptly after Clint greets him, and rather happily, too. This threw me off.

    All the little details are nicely done: the bay, the high school poster, the dented car.

    I also wondered how he was going to get prints into a shop "now" when he hasn't started on the paintings yet.

    Good luck!