Friday, November 30, 2012

(1) Historical Romance with paranormal elements: SYLVAN LEGACY

GENRE: Historical romance with paranormal elements

When half-elven Katherine Sinclair in Regency-era London heals another debutante in front of the man she loves, she jeopardizes their relationship and makes herself the target of an ancient brotherhood that feeds on magic.

The horse's hooves thunder across the hillside, and my heart pounds with each bunching of his muscles. My hair breaks free of its pins, pale strands sweeping across my cheek. Though the wind breaks through the thin barrier of the breeches and tall boots borrowed from my brother’s wardrobe, the smile never leaves my face. Mild discomfort is a small price to pay for a ride unhindered by the thick skirts of my riding habit.

I glance at Robert, who is keeping easy pace with me.

"Careful, dear sister," Robert calls out, the wind snatching at his words, "I'm gaining on you."

I laugh. "Serenity will refuse to jump this next bank, just as she always does."

I press my booted heels to Orion’s sides, and a little thrill jolts through me as he charges forward. His excitement bubbles over my skin, making it hard to distinguish from my own. Magic derived from the warmth of the sun cloaks us both, its invisible golden bands connecting us until we are nearly one creature. He floods my mind with his every thought: the way the light layer of snow gives way beneath his hooves, how crisp the air smells when he takes deep breaths, the light pressure of my weight on his back. The mare behind him is on his mind too, a speck of awareness I take advantage of; it tells me how close I am to reaching the creek before my brother, therefore winning our little race.


  1. I love the action, the motion here - it really feels like I'm along for the ride.

    I'd watch your dialog, though - "just as she always does" feels very stoic and formal for someone in the midst of a thrilling ride. I know you're going for more formal, period-appropriate dialog, but that still feels a little over the top.

    The imagery is great, though - I can see her hair, her pants, the tall boots...I like her already.

  2. I like the writing, time period, and genre. :)

    But this first page left me a bit flat because there are no story questions here. I don't expect to have the main story question introduced on the first page, but I would like to see some hint of a problem or stakes.

    The job of a first page is to make us want to turn the page. So far, the only questions are whether her brother's horse will refuse the jump and she'll win the race. But those aren't stakes because we have no sense of why we should care.

    These don't have to be big stakes. Even a simple, "If she won, maybe he'd stop teasing her about abc for a week" might be enough. But since we don't know why she cares (what would even the basic "bragging rights" mean to her?), we don't have any reason to care ourselves.

    I hope this helps!

  3. I would read on here. I think the enjoyment of the ride is enough that I want to keep reading but I agree that there would have to be more conflict soon. I feel like this is falling victim to the problem of not being able to show just a little more of the story - I want to read the rest of this opening.

  4. Beautiful writing. I agree that I'd like to see at least a hint of the stakes in the first page. I also feel like for paranormal, I like a hint of that as well.

    Romance is my genre, although I haven't read much historical, but I think 1st person present tense is fairly unusual. It seems more common in YA than romance. I think it would read more like a romance if we were in 3rd person past tense.

    Like I said, beautiful writing though, and I would keep reading, at least for a bit, to see if the action picks up soon.

  5. Regency era + elves + magic + horses--Like!

    As for the tense, it is definitely not as common to read first person present in romance, but I have read a few. Given this is more genre romance, I think it can work.

    Lots of great description here, but I'm wondering if that last paragraph can be thinned a bit so we can get to a hint of where the story is heading. I know 250 words is incredibly tough to convey plot details without dumping too much, but a clue to where they're going and why would work, or if they're out riding for fun, are they avoiding something else? That sort of thing.

    Best of luck!!

  6. (First, this logline sounds familiar. Did someone pitch this to me, or did I do an advanced read at a conference?)

    My initial reaction to this regards the tense. I, personally, dislike using the present tense for anything historical. I simply don’t understand it, and it trips me up. Rather than provide immediacy as in a contemporary story, it holds me back. So I would suggest the author experiment with changing the tense. I’m also not sure how I feel about a romance in first person. It’s not the standard, and if the hero’s POV is used as well, I caution again dual first-person.

    Otherwise, I think the writing is vivid, and I’m curious about the narrator’s connection to her horse (though the POV of “he floods my mind with his every thought” feels a bit off to me) and the extent of her magical abilities. I hope we get to the debutante-healing soon to kick the story into gear.

  7. I like the action here and there writing is vivid so I could definitely envision the scene.

    I'd like to see more tension here, to know immediately what the conflict of the story will be. I'm intrigued by the magical element with the sentence, "Magic derived from the warmth of the sun cloaks us both.." but the rest of the passage focuses on the race with her brother, which is fairly low stakes.

    The dialogue issue is a tricky one in historical novels--this does feel a bit formal, but that could work if that matches the tone of the rest of the novel. If not, it might be a good idea to tweak it so it flows easier.

    Overall I'm definitely interested--I'd keep reading to see when the conflict pops up!

  8. I like the ease of your writing - it flows well, like the imagery of the horse ride.

    I agree with the others about the conflict. Need to inject some or suspense to keep the reader interested.

    Also, the first person POV works fine. Victoria Holt, possibly one of the top historical writers of all time, usually did first person.
    Good luck!

  9. I love the description! That is definitely a strength with this first page. I agree with everyone about the conflict. Maybe having her foot slip or the horse slow down in caution to predict some kind of trouble. I was a little taken aback by the first person POV at first, but as I read I kind of liked it. It's different, and different is sometimes good. I'd definitely read on.

  10. I'm hooked. I already love the idea of a woman escaping her riding habit. And you do a good job of getting the setting down. If I had any criticism at all, it's that in the last paragraph I got a little lost. I wasn't sure who was 'flooding her thoughts' - the sun, her brother, or the horse (which was my last guess). Other than that, great start. Good luck!