Wednesday, February 29, 2012


A picture is worth a thousand words, so ... keeping in mind that our back splash isn't installed yet and the kitchen island still needs painting ... here is our kitchen!

And here is our new sink! (There were actually dirty dishes in the sink when I took this picture, but it's so deep you can't see them. *Glee*)

For anybody local who might be reading my post, I just want to plug our contractors: Stone Masters Inc and Elkton Carpet and Tile.  I highly recommend both of them!

In other news ...
In March, Marcy Hatch and I will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of First Impressions by turning the tables and letting YOU critique US.  Friday, we'll post the first page of Marcy's WIP, and on Monday, we'll post mine.

Then, on Wednesday, PK Hrezo is bringing back the first page we critiqued in February, revised based on suggestions she received.  I don't mind telling you: I'm excited to see what she did with it!

See you on Friday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fun With Research

Along with the line edits and the revisions, much of the work I’ve been doing on my manuscript for the past couple weeks is checking for historical accuracy – making certain that this item or that detail was appropriate for the setting of my story.

I did a lot of this research while writing my first draft, of course, but I didn’t make a record of it.  Now it’s been so long since I wrote the first draft, I find myself repeating the research, just to make sure. (Lesson learned for next time!)

For example, I can tell you with certainty that cupcakes were an innovation of early nineteenth century Americans and valued for the time they saved in baking.  Originally they were baked in – what else? – teacups, although later in the 1800’s ramekins were used.

While researching what a young lady of means might wear as a wedding dress in 1867, I came across this fascinating article, originally printed in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1866 -- Dress Under Difficulties: American Civil War Fashions in the South During the Blockade.  It seems that making a dress from the household curtains was not so far off the mark.  

The article appears at The Ladies Treasury, an online magazine devoted to Victorian and Edwardian fashion.  There are other fascinating articles on this site that I would love to read … when my revisions are finished.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Status Report

1. Dryer. Check! The Salerni family now has clothes that are clean and dry, without having to hang them outside in the cold, damp February air.  (I did consider it.)

2. Kitchen sink and counter tops. Not yet.  Three more days of hauling dishes to the basement, and I'll have my new granite counters, my new awesome sink, and my new faucet. And I will love them and kiss them and pet them and call them George. (Anybody old enough to get that Looney Tunes reference?)

3. Line edits and revision. Coming along nicely. I'm on pg 132 and the stack of completed pages is slightly larger than the stack of pages to go. Of course, this is just my first pass. I'll have to read through it again on the computer to tweak it and make sure all requested revisions have been addressed.  And THEN I'll load it on my Kindle and read it for flow and pacing and consistency. And THEN I'll consider whether or not it's ready to send back to my editor.

Obsession is a harsh task mistress. But I am LOVING the changes and SO excited to see this book take shape. I miss you guys out there in the blogosphere, and I have been reading your blogs when I take breaks, but I'm often a too tired to think of a comment other than "Uhhhhh...."

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gina Review: A School for Villains

My 11-year-old daughter can't resist a villain, so I knew she'd like this book as soon as I saw it promoted on Marva Dasef's website.  After you read Gina's review, be sure to visit the site of Ardyth DeBruyn to check out her other titles.

A School for Villains (Dark Lord Academy) By: Ardyth DeBruyn  Reviewed by Gina Salerni

Danny had a perfectly normal and happy life, until his dad decided to send him to Dark Lord Academy to become a villain. He is soon carted off against his will and ends up at this evil school. Danny, newly named Zxygrth (Zex-ee-grith), meets some children who actually want to be villains. 

Zxygrth immediately tries to find a way to get away from this horrid school. He determines escaping is impossible so he tries to get expelled. But, getting expelled from a school for villains is harder than you think. Zxygrth kills a teacher in a prank gone wrong and gets rewarded for it! So, he tries being a good person. Soon, he gets into a whole mess of trouble involving a hateful teacher, a second-in-command minion, and a sword that wants to kill him.

I would recommend A School for Villains to someone who likes humorous books about being evil, like Vordak the Incomprehensible.  My favorite part is when a hero meets Zxygrth and wants to battle him, but Zxygrth just wants him to go away. I’d highly recommend this book.

Special thanks to Gina for writing this review, which she gave me for my birthday and told me to hold onto it until I needed it.  Since I'm knee-deep in revisions for THE CAGED GRAVES this week -- I needed it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kitchen Progress?

I promised I'd come back and show you pictures of my newly remodeled kitchen.

Yeah, well, we're not there yet. You might call this the halfway mark.

The hideous pink and blue tile floor is gone, and so is the seven-sided island with its incredibly ugly pink tile top.  (Look here to see what we tore out.)

I love the beautiful new earth-tone floor and the deep drawers in our new island (which still needs to be painted to match the cabinets).  But one thing we didn't realize was that when the granite people came in to make a template of our new counter tops, they had to remove the old ones ...

This used to be my sink.
... And the sink. The dishwasher is disconnected, too.

In the meantime, my husband secured folding tables and wooden cutting boards over some of the cabinets.  Isn't he clever?

The daughters are highly amused that they can now reach items in some of the drawers without actually opening the drawers.  But then of course, they're not the ones carrying dishes downstairs to wash in the basement utility sink.

We'll be living like this for almost 2 weeks total, before the new granite counter tops, sink, and faucet are installed.  My husband says it's the perfect environment for me to be editing and revising my historical fiction manuscript.  "It's just like the 19th century," he says brightly, as I load up pots and pans into a bucket to haul them to the nearest source of water.  Yeah ... right.

Oh, and did I mention the dryer broke this week?  No laundry happening here until the new one is delivered, so we'll be smelling like the 19th century, too.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's Hear It for Alpha Readers!

We all know the value of beta readers, who test out our completed manuscripts and provide the feedback we need to revise and whip them into shape. But I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the people who read our work as we write it. Sometimes they’re called critique partners, but I like to call them alpha readers.

What would we do without them? Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going on a first draft is my alpha readers cheering me on, bugging me for the next chapter, demanding to know what happens next.  Don’t get me wrong – they can be critical, too. They let me know if a chapter lacks enough emotional impact or if one of the characters has acted out of character. Their initial feedback after each chapter helps me gauge how I’m doing … and where I’m failing.

They put up with a lot, too.  I don’t know about you, but my story is constantly evolving in a first draft – and I write "fat." Alpha readers have to read scenes that will later be cut, sub-plots that will be snipped, and characters that disappear.  Names change, too.  Aloycius becomes Bert (because I got tired of typing Aloycius), and in the next draft, he might not even exist.  (Oh yeah, alpha readers, did I mention I might merge Hester and Bert into one character? That will give me, what? Hert? Bester?)

Anyway, I want to thank the alpha readers on my current project for prodding me on, even when I have my doubts: my husband, my daughters, Marcy Hatch, Krystalyn Drown, and my parents, who loaded half the manuscript onto their Kindle and took it with them to Aruba. I don’t dare quit now, even though I am, admittedly, a little stuck …

P.S. Since I wrote this post last weekend, I got myself unstuck. BUT, I also received editorial notes on another manuscript that same day, so I can't apply my new sense of direction to the WIP just yet.  Sorry, alpha readers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Editorial Notes!

So, my editorial notes for THE CAGED GRAVES arrived yesterday while I was on my lunch break.

It's not the first time I've received editorial notes -- I had them from Sourcebooks when we were working on WE HEAR THE DEAD and I get them from my agent Sara, too, when I submit a new manuscript to her. But these are notes from my new editor at Clarion, and it's my first time working with her.

I admit, when I see the email in my in-box, the first thing I do is glance at the stack of brown paper bags on my desk, the ones my students are going to use for their Valentine's Day card exchange.  Am I going to need one? You know, to breathe into, in case I hyperventilate?

Opening an email like this is scary. What will I have to do? What will I have to change? Am I capable of making it as good as it needs to be? A whole lifetime of self-doubt flashes before my eyes before I click it open.

I scan. Then I start over and skim. (Taking it in small glimpses seemed a good idea at the time.) Then I read it.  At some point, I push the brown paper bags aside and reach for my lunch, because I'm not hyperventilating and I'm not passing out -- and I can do this.

Will I have to kill some darlings? Yes. All of them? No! This isn't the final scene of Hamlet, with nothing but corpses littering the stage.  This is metamorphosis. This is clarity and focus. There will be changes, but most of the things I love aren't going anywhere and there may well be new darlings born out of revisions.

Is it going to be awesome? I think so.  I'm sure gonna try.
Can't wait to get started.

Monday, February 13, 2012

ORIGINS Blogfest

Thank you, DL Hammons, Matt McNish, Katie Mills, and Alex J Cavanaugh, for hosting this blogfest exploring the beginnings of our writing journeys.

I started writing stories before I knew how to write. My first book was  a picture book – 3 pages long and pasted together with Elmer’s Glue. The titled was penciled onto the cover by my father. It was a dragon-kidnaps-girl, boy-slays-dragon, boy-gets-girl kind of story.  In fact, that was the whole story.

I don’t remember a lot about the stories I wrote in elementary school, but I received a lot of encouragement from my fourth grade teacher, Mac Rayne, and my seventh grade teacher, Mr. Haney.  (As an interesting side note, I currently have Mac Rayne’s grandson in MY class. Nice how those things come full circle.) These stories were all hand-written in gray tablets, and sadly, I threw them away in a fit of self-loathing sometime in high school.  I wish someone had stopped me.

In high school and college I moved up to spiral-bound notebooks, along with manuscripts typed on onionskin and eventually stored on computer disks.  Some of them are dated; others can be sequenced by the covers of the notebooks. (Ahem … Empire Strikes Back …)

In high school, I submitted short stories to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. It only took a few rejections for me to give up trying. It was also in high school that I got my first taste of censorship: in my junior year, our Catholic high school literary magazine was banned because we printed a poem about abortion.  All copies were confiscated, and the teacher sponsor was reprimanded.  The principal called the junior and senior editors into his office to yell at us, and for the first time I realized he knew NONE of our names, even though we were the top academic students in his school.  (He knew the football players, but not us.)

I wrote all the way through college and grad school, although I never again submitted my work anywhere. When I first began teaching, I stopped writing for a couple years, and I had only just started again when I met Bob Salerni.  As our relationship developed, he became the strongest advocate I’ve ever had for my writing. In the early years of our marriage, he sent manuscripts on my behalf to publishers and agents. (By mail. This was the 90’s.) Nothing ever came of it, and when we had children, I quit writing altogether.

In 2004 I took it up again, plunging into a completely new genre for me: historical fiction. I started a novel based on the real life adventures of two teenage spirit mediums, and unbeknownst to me, Bob began researching self-publishing.  By the time I had the novel ¾ completed, he approached me with his plan.

I like to tell people I broke into the publishing field backwards. First I published a book (High Spirits, iUniverse 2007), then I received a publishing contract for that same book (retitled We Hear the Dead, Sourcebooks 2010), and then I signed with an agent, Sara Crowe.  During these very exciting years, I also sold a film option to Amy Green of One Eye Open Studio and wrote my very first screenplay!

Also during these years, I was invited by Mike Katz of Strider Nolan Media to submit short stories to his pulp fiction anthology Visions. I resurrected two short stories I wrote in graduate school – Necromancer and Greydeere – and they were published respectively in 2009 and 2010. One of the neatest things about that experience was seeing my characters illustrated by Mike Katz and C. Edward Sellner.

As 2012 begins and I look forward to the publication of my next novel, The Caged Graves, by Clarion in 2013 (add CG on Goodreads!), I think back on the girl who wrote all those stories on tablets and in notebooks. I wonder what she would think if she knew her dream of becoming a published author would come true – but not until she’d passed the age of 40.  Would she be excited – or would she think it was too long to wait? (I’m afraid my teenage self would think 40 was practically dead.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Leaving the Comfort Zone

I saw this image on Facebook last week. It was posted by Laurie Baum Olson and came to my attention via my old high school pal, Kathryn Kane. And it made me think.

Specifically, it made me think about two writing projects lurking in the back of my mind, which I’ve been reluctant to attempt because they’re outside my comfort zone.  In fact, I already made a half-hearted attempt at one of them last year and gave up after only a couple weeks of working on it because it was “just not for me.”

But if it wasn’t really my thing, why is the idea still hanging around, bothering me?

If I tally up all my completed and in-progress manuscripts – I’ve got 1 historical fiction, 1 historical mystery, 3 historical with a paranormal bent, and 2 historical with a science fiction bent.  See the pattern?

But one of the stories “bothering” me is a contemporary ghost story and the other is an urban fantasy.  The second one might even have the potential to be MG instead of YA, if I play around with it a bit. (My fifth grade students keep asking why I don’t write anything for them!) 

Both these projects are well outside my comfort zone. The contemporary setting intimidates me, because I know I have to nail the voice of modern teens instead of historical ones, and the world building I’d need for that fantasy scares the bejeebers out of me.

But this little graphic really got to me. I don’t know if there truly IS a place just outside my comfort zone where all the magic is happening. However, I’ll never find out if I don’t stretch and grow a little.

I’ve made up my mind to attempt one of those projects this year. 

What have you done to expand your comfort zone lately? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When Characters Choose Their Own Names

Who picks the names for your characters? You … or they?

I might have some say in the naming of minor characters, but my main characters are pretty headstrong. (Have you read about the time they drove my car?)

In my current WIP, my MC came to me in a fully formed first line, throwing a breakfast roll at her aunt for suggesting she agree to an arranged marriage with a distant cousin for the sake of an inheritance.  Of course, she didn’t have a name at the time, although I knew she was the daughter of an eccentric archaeologist and she’d traveled the world with him before his death left her destitute.

I started researching turn-of-the-century women’s names and made a list of possibilities. Then one day, I spotted (or rather my MC spotted) a name on my blog roll. Author Marva Dasef was doing a series of posts about characters in her Witches of Galdorheim books and Ardyth appeared as part of her post title. (Turns out her character was named after author Ardyth DeBruyn, but that’s another story.)

“That’s my name,” said my MC. “Change the Y to an E, though.”

“O-kay, I’ll put it on the list,” I said, not sure about the name Ardeth at all.

“Delete your list,” she said. “My name is Ardeth Meriwether. I won’t stand for anything else.”

Ardeth’s cousin turned out to be just as difficult -- no surprise, there!  I was trolling through websites with Victorian/turn-of-the-century names for men, when I came across one that listed common nicknames of the time period.  The nickname Cage caught my eye, but it was a shortened form of Micajah, which was just YUCK.

“I like Cage,” my character told me.

“You can’t have it,” I told him. “It’s too modern-sounding to be used by itself, and Micajah is awful.”  I googled up another list, and – would you believe it? – Micajah was on that one too, listed with its common nickname of Cager.

“That’s it,” the young man said. “I’m telling you; that’s my name.”

“Nope,” I said, writing down some of the other names on the list. “In fact, I’m leaning toward naming you Harrison.”

“That's my family name. I'm Cage Harrison, which has a nice sound to it.”

“But Micajah Harrison is terrible!” I objected. “No love interest can be named Micajah!”

“That’s why I don’t use my full name,” he argued. “Besides – think how Ardeth will feel when she finds out I go by the nickname Cage! Being cornered into an arranged, loveless marriage for the sake of an inheritance would make her feel pretty caged, wouldn’t it?”

He had a point. It was fairly poetic.  I gave in.

Am I the only person who gets run over rough-shod by my own characters? Please tell me I’m not!

Monday, February 6, 2012

First Impressions: MANIFESTED

The third First Impressions post for February is a YA adventure with magical elements titled MANIFESTED, by Margo Kelly:

Luke Michaelson sat alone at the small desk in his bedroom and methodically spun a closed pocket knife with his index finger. A family camping trip in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho sounded like a stupid idea to him, but Mom and Dad insisted this next week would be a great adventure. Dad expected him to help pack today, but Luke needed a few minutes alone.

With his thumb and index finger, he tugged at the stubborn blade of the pocket knife. Unable to open it, Luke reached across his desk and dragged the lamp closer. He gripped the casing of the knife tightly with his left hand and yanked with his right. When the blade flipped out suddenly, it surprised Luke, and he let go. As it slipped from his hand, the blade slashed the skin between his thumb and index finger.

Luke groaned, shook his hand, and then tried sucking the cut to alleviate the pain. Nausea swelled in his gut, but he refused to panic. When he withdrew his hand to examine the damage, no slice remained. He leaned forward and held his hand under the bright lamp. Light glinted off the opals he wore around his wrist, making him squint momentarily. But no cut remained. Nothing. He studied the alarm clock next to his bed: 10 a.m. Dad shouldn’t miss him for awhile yet. So, he hopped up, locked his door, turned up the volume on his music, and sat back down at his desk. He picked up his pocket knife; blood glistened on the edge of the blade. Luke examined his hand where the cut should have been. Nothing.

My first thought after reading the excerpt was: I don’t think a camping trip is where this story begins.

This story begins with a cut that heals by itself in seconds.  So, I wonder if Margo should start there – with the pain or the blood or an outcry from Luke when he accidentally slices himself with a pocket knife.  Why he was playing with it, what he was doing (or avoiding) in his room at the time – I think that could wait for page two.

If he experienced nausea or panic, then it must have felt like a deep cut, or there was initially a lot of blood.  Is he worried about fainting or needing stitches? And then, when he can bring himself to look at it – there’s no cut at all. Let’s feel his confusion and his disbelief at that point (unless this has happened to him before!).

The opals around his wrist are important, I’m guessing. (Granted, that’s a cheat, because when I asked Margo for a picture, she sent me an image of boulder matrix fire opals!) I am wondering how she can more cleverly get them into this scene, because as it was, I almost missed them.  Plus, boys don’t wear bracelets normally, unless they’re made of leather or cord. So, perhaps she should describe them as “the fire opals entwined in his corded bracelet” – or whatever it looks like.

After Luke realizes his cut is gone and he shuts his bedroom door to examine the knife, that’s when we can hear about why he was fussing with the knife to begin with and the camping trip he doesn’t want to go on.  

What do the rest of you think? 

Thanks, Margo, for sharing your intriguing WIP with us (not to mention making me covet some gorgeous fire opals). Be sure to check out Marcy Hatch’s critique of the same page on Mainewords.  Don’t forget, next month you’ll get to turn the tables on Marcy and me when we share the first pages of our own WIPs! Plus PK Hrezo is coming back with a revised version of her page, based on your feedback. Isn’t that cool?

Friday, February 3, 2012

First Impressions: THE PORTAL

Our second First Impression for the month of February comes from Larry O’Donnell, my brother-in-law and frequent guest poster.  This is the first page of his most recent WIP, a thriller titled THE PORTAL.

Chapter 1: The Release

It was one of those damp cold nights that only West Virginia seems to get.  It goes straight to one’s bones and stays there at least until the sun comes back.   I had been asleep for about three hours when my dog, Ralph, alerted me to the sound of rapping on my front door.  Arming myself with a five iron, I went to the door and flung it open.  There at my feet was Derek Sanders, one of a group of regulars who gathered on Wednesday and Friday nights for drinks at the Jeff Davis bar in downtown Port Anthracite.  I usually attended these gatherings, although I don’t drink anymore.  It is my only regular social activity, but I felt achy and the chilling weather decided me to go home after work.  Sanders was shivering in the cold mist and mumbling incoherently. 

“Jesus, Sanders, I nearly chipped your head back out to the street.”  As if I could hit anything with a golf club.  Instead of calling me on it, he pushed himself back up into a sitting position.
“We opened the door.  One of them got out.  We closed and barred it.  Too-late-to-stop-one.”  Derek gasped out the phrases and then sat up higher for a moment.  A low congested cough was the last audible sound he made as he fell over on his side in a fetal position. 

“Sanders!  Come on buddy, wake up!”  I couldn’t wake him and it was apparent that he was no longer breathing.  The last cough brought bright red frothy blood out of his mouth.  I felt for a pulse and found none.  Then I saw copious amounts of blood from several other places and I knew he was beyond any help I could give him.
A call to 911from the house of the Chief of Police resulted in a flood of State Police cars, ambulance, Paramedics, some Firemen, County Detectives, and Roy Biggers, the County Prosecuting Attorney.  Fifteen minutes later, the County Coroner, Doc Paxon, arrived. 

Now, Roy and I do not get along, not even going back to our time in High School.  It’s nothing specific, it’s just an oil and water thing.  We played on the same football and baseball teams but could never find common ground on anything else.  There was no competition between us, no argument over a girl, just a deep seated dislike of each other.  Oddly, just as it was when we played football, we could work together for a common goal but never cross the threshold of the other’s home. 

I’ll start with some small technical details: The opening paragraph uses past tense for things that happened that night and present tense for things that are always true. I think common practice would recommend keeping to the past tense throughout. (ex: It went straight to one’s bones and stayed there at least until the sun came back.)  There are also some common nouns that shouldn’t be capitalized, such as high school, firemen, and county detectives

I would hold back explaining why the narrator hadn’t been to the bar with Sanders on this particular night until the county prosecutor asks him.  If they don’t get along, it might make for a nice tension-filled moment later.

The cough with the frothy blood should probably come in the paragraph while Sanders is still talking, rather than when he has no pulse, and I would go for a more breathless feel to his words: “We opened … the door.  One of ‘em … got out.  Closed and barred it.  Too late … to stop one.”

I might also like a hint of what’s going on inside the narrator’s mind before everybody else arrives.  He’s the chief of police, and a death on his doorstep is going to activate the “business as usual” part of his persona, but still – this is somebody he knows.  Is he upset? Does he suppress it? Or, as chief of police in a small town, is he used to seeing death and disaster befall people he knows?  Just a line or two would help us bond with this character before the rest of the cast appears in force.

Now, as one of Larry's CPs, I’ve read more of this. I wish I could include the line where the county coroner questions the narrator about Sanders’s last words and exclaims:  “Did he mean the door?  They opened the portal?  Holy shit, were they crazy, drunk, or crazy drunk?” But you can’t fit everything on the first page. ;) I know Larry’s got a spooky thriller here, and beginning with a death on the police chief’s doorstep is not a bad way to start.

Thanks, Larry, for sharing your first page! Please be sure and stop by Mainewords today to check out Marcy’s critique of this same page.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First Impressions: THE 49TH PARALLEL

Today I’m bringing you a First Impression of PK Hrezo’s manuscript, a YA thriller titled THE 49TH PARALLEL.

Mom says I’m my father’s daughter.

She says I’d be willing to put my well-being on the line for anyone. She doesn’t mean it in the good way. Dad was a firefighter and made a career out of getting people out of trouble. There’s even a memorial for him, along with the other firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

He was a hero. All I am is a dare-taker who can’t even keep herself out of trouble, much less anyone else. That’s what Mom means. It’s what got me here in the most boring town in upper state New York for the summer, working in the public library. It was that, or change bed pans for old people in the retirement home—and I’m not about to work around human defecation all day. Besides, I like books. And I like them even more when my friends back in Manhattan can’t see me reading them.

Returning two books back to the cultural arts section, I roll the book cart down the aisle and across the faded brown parquet floor to the American History section. It’s quiet up here tonight, my first night closing alone, and I have to admit this big old place is kind of creepy. The third level skirts the transparent railing that surrounds the center staircase to the first level. From up here, you can see all the way down to the atrium floor, where the moonlight from the glass ceiling spills in like silvery rain.

It’s an impressive building for a suburban library outside Syracuse. Uncle Geoffrey says it was built back in the early 1960s for university students who lived off campus. Pre-internet days, back when libraries were the only place to study. Now it’s more of a landmark than anything else. Still, college kids trickle in for somewhere quiet to read. And it’s definitely quiet.

At the far end of the American History section I follow the decimal numbers to return a navy blue hardback book that looks like it hasn’t been read in years. It’s heavy and smells like my uncle’s basement: musty and old. The American Revolution is embossed across the front in pale gold. I scan the numbers on the binding again. It belongs on the very top shelf where I can’t reach without the ladder. Stepping back down the aisle, I snag the nearest shelf ladder and roll it over.

Glass rattles at the far atrium windows. It startles me, making me freeze in my tracks. Scanning the network of window panes over my head, beyond the shelves, I spy a couple of pigeons fluttering away, off the stone ledge outside. I’m such a dork. I’m from Manhattan—there’s no excuse for me being this jumpy. I’ve seen people mugged at gunpoint inside my very own apartment building, for Pete’s sake!

Being a huge fan of gothic mysteries, I have no objection to starting off a story in a creepy library, but in this case, I think I’m more intrigued by what this narrator did to get herself banished from Manhattan for the summer. Her father was a fire-fighter and a 9/11 hero who sacrificed his life trying to help others. Our narrator is like her father, but not in a good way, since she “put her well-being” on the line as part of a foolish dare.  With an opening like that, I found it hard to turn my attention to the library.

One suggestion I have is to intersperse the back story that landed her here with the description of the library itself in alternating paragraphs.  Maybe replay bits of dialogue between this girl and her mother, or include some comment by Uncle Geoffrey (with whom I assume she’s staying) about how working at this library will keep her out of x, y, and z sorts of trouble.

I’d also drop the paragraph giving the history of this building (for now) and work on conveying more of a creepy mood in the library itself. Give us more shadows, a bit of a chill, echoes and creaks as she rolls her cart around the third level balcony.

Overall, I think what I want most from this page is a little more building of mood and tone – a sense that exciting and surprising things are about to happen to a girl already prone to jumping in first and thinking about consequences later.

Thanks for sharing, PK! Be sure to check out Marcy Hatch’s critique of this same page on Mainewords today and visit PK Hrezo at her blog: My Fiction Addiction.