Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Would You Read On? hosted by Diana Flegal

We welcome your comments today. Scroll down for last weeks author reveal.

Chapter One

The thrumming in her head started at the Essex County line and crescendoed into a pounding by the time she'd reached State Route 74. She wiped one hand, then the other on her jeans and gripped the steering wheel of her rented SUV. She was in control. She was Emily Hazard, assistant art director at an award-winning New York City advertising agency. Not Emily Hazard, the klutz-queen jinx-deluxe of Schroon Lake Central High School.

She drove through Hazardtown, the four corners community in New York's Adirondack Mountains that her ancestors had settled two centuries ago. Little remained to show the bustling logging town it had once been. A new name on the diner told her it had changed ownership again. The gas station convenience store proclaimed Souvenirs Here in a big red, white and blue roadside sign. Kitty-corner, the Community Church sat as it had for the past one hundred and fifty years with its double entry doors that had originally separated the women parishioners from the men. As a teen, Emily had made a point of entering through the men's door. The newish brick volunteer fire department building occupied the fourth corner. Ironically, the old clapboard hall had burned down when she was in college.

Paradox Lake came into view on the left. A patch of blue nestled in the greens and browns of the hardwoods and mountains surrounding it. Her heart beat double-time. As she came around the curve to Hazard Cove Road, a mama duck and her ducklings waddled onto the highway. She hit the brake pedal and sensed the pickup truck behind her before she heard the screech of its brakes. The truck touched the back bumper of the SUV and nudged her forward just short of the little family.

Last weeks First Page was bravely submitted by author Cindy Sproles. Her agent is excitedly shopping around her manuscript.


Timothy Fish said...


Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, dear. I wonder what this story is about. Could we add some internal dialogue, or a more compelling conflict than a family of ducks, say a wild, angry dog trailing a leash with a young child chasing after it?

As it is, I would say no.

Timothy Fish said...

I don’t see a problem with the ducks. They serve their purpose as the save the cat moment. I would guess also that the automobile wreck is the means by which the male lead is introduced. It also provides an introduction to the conflict between the two (guessing again).

I like that this page begins with the conflict between who she is and who she was. Anyone can identify with that conflict. No matter how successful you become, the people back home will always think of you as the kid they grew up with.

Melissa K Norris said...

I liked the town observations, they showed us tid bits of the character.

A line or two about why she's coming home (conflict) would fit well here.

I have to say Hazardtown made me think the Dukes of Hazard and I pictured her driving The General in daisy dukes.

But I would keep reading.

Timothy Fish said...

Now that you mention it, Hazardtown does seem like a poor choice for a name. And now that I think about it, Hazard seems far too loaded for last name. Maybe something less visual, like Harwell, Hambel, or Hammond. The village could be called Harwell Hill, or Hambelville and it would still get the point across that this is her family's town.

I don't think it is necessary to say why she is coming home. It actually helps if you make the reader wait for a while before their questions are answered. But I kind of thought that was the reason for saying she is the art director. If she isn't coming home in the capacity of an art director, then it is pointless to mention it.

Shauna Renee' said...

I had the same thought about the name of the town. I don't have a terrible issue with the ducks, except for the fact that coming around a curve on a highway makes one wonder if you could really stop in time.

But I do identify with going back home and dealing with old views and labels. I don't think there's been enough of the story shown to know for sure why she's going back--obviously it's causing her distress. I'd like to read more about it!

Davalyn Spencer said...

I would read on ... because paradoxes abound. Not just in the name of the lake, but in the name of the town (hazard or haven to ducks and women?), the way she feels coming "home," the firehouse burning down, the double doors to the church and the protag's insistence as a kid to walk through the "wrong" door.

I see it, feel it. Oh, yes, I would read on.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I have mixed feelings about this one. I would probably put it down and come back (maybe) another day and give it a try.

Why? It seems a bit slow, and I am not feeling on top of the world myself today. I would give it a second chance. (If I remembered.)

That's the risk of putting down a book. Will you, or will you not pick it up again?

Katherine Hyde said...

I like the voice, and who wouldn't identify with the conflicts inherent in coming back to your hometown? I would read on. Especially as I'm pretty sure some interesting relationship will develop with the driver who just ran into her.

christine harper said...

It did not grab me and pull me in. No, I wouuld not read on.

Jennie Dugan said...

Yes, I'd turn the page. I wanted to keep scrolling. Without analyzing it too deeply, I think I like a femal character who made a point of going in through the men's door when she was a teen.

Timothy Fish said...

To me, saying you would come back to it is very close to saying that you would read on. I loved Cynthia Voigt’s Tillerman books. They had similar pacing to this one, but there were a few I hung onto for a few weeks before I even cracked the cover. It was all those kids could do to keep their heads above water and I had to be in the mood to read them.

This book doesn’t appear to be a heavy as those. (Few books are.) But I like the pacing. Maybe it’s because that little town reminds me of home. It’s the wrong state and my home town is too small to fit the description, but I can think of a few towns near where I grew up that are very similar.

Maxine Chase said...

I would definitely keep reading. Her name is Emily Hazard and is returning to Hazardtown. Sounds like her family is one of importance which makes me wonder why she left and why she returned. The author does a great job describing a small town and really captures the setting. I'm intrigued.

Anonymous said...

I would keep reading. I love the author's voice, and she's really captured the insecurities that creep up when we're facing the past. The name Hazard suits this woman perfectly.

Ursula said...

You bet I'd keep reading. I like the voice and I'm always up for small town homecoming stories, they're always charged with past conflict, so I know it won't be a meandering story because it has a built in hook.

As to the name, here's a few up by me and in other NYS areas that make Hazardtown pretty darned normal: Niverville, Brainard, Haynersville, Lillydale, Coeymans hollow (pronounced CWEE-mans), Cropsyville. It's fairly typical for towns at the foothills and in the Adirondack and upstate areas to take founding family names. In fact, if you want to set a story up there, you have to really get creative to not wind up using one that already exists. Like someone else said, it easily tells me as a reader Emily isn't just anyone returning anonymously to a hometown she left for what ever reason, this is a charged and loaded homecoming, so it promises right out of the gate which as a reader, is exactly what I want to see. I don't read on when the author obscures the story hook, because it tells me the rest of the story will be weak.

Millie Samuelson said...

Super first page! So much info cleverly communicated! By the last sentence, I already WAS Emily. And I LUV that kind of story. So YES, I SURE want to read on. . . :-)