Author Topic: Aspen Haunt Intro  (Read 3124 times)

Offline amylake

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Aspen Haunt Intro
« on: January 28, 2006, 11:05:23 AM »
Okay.  Gulp.  Jumping in.  This is the intro to Aspen Haunt, a supernatural mystery.  I am presently querying agents - we all know how critical they are - so would greatly appreciate ANY feedback, positive or negative.  (Hope it's not too long - 900 words)  There is one 'off-color' word, which I bl**ped out.

Thanks,

Amy

Aspen Haunt

      He finds himself awake. 
      He has been living, no, living is not the word— the word is . . . existing—he has been existing in a world of darks and pales, a world devoid of cold or heat, fear or pain, hunger or thirst, reason or rhyme. 
      He has been existing in a dream and he finds himself, now, gazing through a window.  Thoughts that form, wraithlike, at the tip of his mind, are dismissed because of their complete irrelevance. 
      Now a question takes shape that has some bearing.  He asks of himself, “What am I doing here?”
      White lightning illuminates the garden below, and he catches a glimpse, the haziest glimpse, of a memory. 
      Something is coming. 
      The thunder that follows the flash is soft, malleable.  He wants to reach out and touch the sound.  He looks to his hands, long, fine hands, and knows that once, before, they did. . . something else.  An impression of the word “wonderful” comes to him, and then a dull, deeper than death ache. 
      Turning from the window, he walks across the hardwood floor.  The floor feels different than before; it is oddly insubstantial under his gait.
      He moves from the room to the staircase, and runs his fingers along the fine, smooth wood of the balustrade, vaguely troubled by a thought/feeling/memory that there is something he must tend to.  As he glides down the stairs, he becomes aware of a quickening, a flicker of anticipation in his breast.
      He has called something. 
      Something is coming. 
      There is a purpose to his being here. 

 
Introduction

      I have just about as much sympathy as the rest of you for those folks who remain in a haunted house even after doors have opened and closed by themselves, bathtubs have filled with blood, televisions have begun to switch channels right in the middle of the Frasier episode where Niles is going to do it with Daphne, and every one of their unfortunate house guests has been gruesomely and graphically murdered. 
      “They deserve to die,” I always say.
      That said, my only fragile excuses for not abandoning the Flynn’s Lake House five minutes after my arrival were that I was exhausted from a hard day of travel, my feet hurt, I liked the wallpaper in the kitchen, and I had nowhere else in the world to go.
 
      My name is Jade Baptiste.  I’m a female musician who’s been playing for more years than I care to count or acknowledge.  I’ve had some success.  I'm the blues-belting guitarist with slanted eyes and waist-length tresses, both of palest sea green, who rocked your socks off in the mid-eighties.  You may remember me or, if you're anything like me, you may not remember the eighties at all.  You can find my albums in any major record store, usually in the bargain bin, or at garage sales.   
      I’m five-foot eight, thirty-four years old, and weigh one hundred twenty pounds.  I recently grew my hair out to its natural color, sort of a chestnut, which I still wear long.  Born and raised in Marin County, I moved to Los Angeles when I was twenty.  My younger sister, Murielle, and I live in a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills, a stone’s throw from the Bronson Caves.
      About a year and a half ago I decided to put a new band together, “Jaded.”  The band was my baby, my brainchild, nurtured with blood, sweat, tears, and the last remnants of the fortune I had amassed during my brief flirtation with fame.  My intention had been that the band would carry me from the dregs of has-beendom back to some degree of celebrity.  I rounded up the best players I could find and the sexiest front person, Mollie Woodward. 
      Mollie stands six feet tall in her bare feet.  She has huge violet eyes, breasts that rise like magnificent mountains from a tiny rib cage, long flawless legs, and a wild mane of Ultra Platinum Blonde (TM) hair that looks like a halo under stage lights.  (It looks like Fried Hell in the daylight, but who ever sees her in daylight?)  She towered above the audience night after night, breaking hearts with her fierce beauty.  The exquisite handcrafted guitar that one of her many “friends” had presented her with glistened beneath the spotlights; its mother-of-pearl inlaid neck flashed with stunning iridescence. 
      Although Mollie was a bona fide crowd pleaser, there were a couple of drawbacks to having her in the band.  For one, we had to keep her instrument’s volume off so no one in the audience would know she played with the finesse of a jackhammer.  For two, she sang as flat as road kill that had been run over, some nights repeatedly, by a Mack truck. 
      But it was okay.  We had a good soundman and a pitch adjuster on her microphone. 
      Dudley, a well-known studio guitar player, had just come off the road from a U.S. tour with The Sprockets.  I grabbed him for our project.  He promptly fell in love with Mollie’s eyes and Grand Tetons.  The two of them pulled some lame, deceitful, backstabbing, ratty maneuvers, and finagled me out of the record deal and subsequent tour I had spent perfectly good blood, sweat, tears and cash lining up.
      Devastated, I went home to Murielle, who gave me some constructive criticism.  I wasn’t wild about what she had to say, and responded with harsh words.  She told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t want to see me for a while.
      S*** happens.  Get over it.
      I got out of there.



Offline Foxy

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Re: Aspen Haunt Intro
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2006, 01:39:43 PM »
Hello Amy

I really liked this. It is well written and easy to read. I think the overall tone is great and the underlying humour of your protagonist comes through without it feeling forced. I immediately took a liking to jade and I want to know what happens to her... nothing too horrible I hope.

If I was submitting this to agents I wouldn't include the first italicised part because a bunch of text in italics is uncomfortable to read. You can always put it back once you've got representation. I would want to try to grab an agent's attention straight away and if you remove the first part I think you'll do that because Jade will do the work for you. But that is just my opinion.

A couple of minor points, and again this is just my opinion, other more experienced people on here may disagree with me. I think that "the rest of you" from the opening sentence of the second section: "I have just about as much sympathy as the rest of you for those folks..." sounds a little too conversational. And I would think about changing the second use of the phrase "blood, sweat and tears", it's repetition so soon after its first appearance really jumped out at me and pulled me out of the story.

I really liked this a lot and I hope you post some more of it soon.

Patrick
My novel, Trinity, available from Amazon.
UK http://tinyurl.com/7fq8rzt  US http://tinyurl.com/7ecvkom

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Offline Rebecca Anne

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Re: Aspen Haunt Intro
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2006, 09:57:43 AM »
Hi, I just noticed that you started out in present tense, then past, then present, and ended up in past.  Was that intentional?   The italicized piece caught me up right away. I especially liked that part.   Nice work, I enjoyed reading it.
Rebecca Anne

Offline Foxy

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Re: Aspen Haunt Intro
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2006, 10:20:44 AM »
Can't say I noticed any tense jumping in this. Sure, the first italicised part is is third person present tense and the second part is in first person past tense and remains in past tense throughout... or am I missing something here?
My novel, Trinity, available from Amazon.
UK http://tinyurl.com/7fq8rzt  US http://tinyurl.com/7ecvkom

Blog: One Loose Cannon http://wp.me/2fgNI

Book Covers and artwork: http://patrickfox.crevado.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PatrickFox_

Offline amylake

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Re: Aspen Haunt Intro
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2006, 08:53:02 AM »
Thanks very much for taking the time to critique this intro.  Sorry it took me so long to respond.  Buried in work these days.

Foxy - interesting what you say about the italic section at the top.  Don't know if you caught it, but the 'person' whose POV it is is the ghost in the story.  I use italics throughout the book to connote when he's interjecting his thoughts.  RE: conversational tone - hmmm.  I'll certainly take another look. And very good that you caught the 'echo' - the use of 'blood, sweat and tears' twice.  I'll look at that too.

Rebecca Anne - interesting observation on the tenses.  Yes, they do go back and forth.  Yes, it's intentional.  Hope it works.

Foxy - I seem to remember having read some of your work and really enjoying it.  Rebecca Anne - have you posted any of your stuff yet?  I'll look for both of you.

Thanks again for your comments - they are greatly appreciated.  Have a wonderful day.  Talk soon.

Amy

Offline gub2000

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Re: Aspen Haunt Intro
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2006, 06:07:33 PM »

Amy,

I like this. I want to know what happens to Jade. I'm also curious how she got boxed out of the band she formed. Certainly this sort of thing happens in the music biz. It's like the comment you left for me. This is showing me a world I am not familiar with. The closest I came to being a musician was in grade school when I made a good impression of a cat getting its tail slammed in a door with my violin.

I like your description of Mollie and her place in the band. I was free surfing the web this morning (like free writing except well, surfing the web) and I came across an article about the Sex Pistols. To paraphrase, it said Jonny Rotten was heart of punk rock but Sid Vicious was the look. It went on to describe how they wouldn't even turn Sid's bass on during shows because he was so bad.

I liked the mystical opening. But it was awkward shifting from that style to Jade's first person conversational style. Also, I thought the opening line of Jade's first person account was too much to swallow. I don't mean it was not working. It was like biting a piece of steak that's too big for your mouth. Maybe you could cut it up into smaller pieces.

Finally, don't apologize for using colorful language. Since you read my piece, you know what I'm talking about. But with that said, I haven't come across any else's work on this board that has any curse words. So what do I know? Maybe I'm just a foul mouthed idiot. My point is, I don't think anyone on this site is going to post anything just for shock value. This is a writer's web site. This is the last place a writer should self censure for fear of offending. If we can't lay it all on the line in this forum, then where can we do it?

<stepping down from my soap box>

gub2000

ps. Grand Tetons - HA!

Don't ever ever give up - Winston Churchill

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