Because she’s my crit partner, I’ve been a little pickier with her than my usual volunteer. But Ash knows this is a smorgasbord. She’ll take what she likes and leave the rest.
My comments are in red. Hers are in blue. Please add yours at the end of the post! A critique group is only as strong as the eyes around the table. We hope you’ll add your voice to the discussion.
Flirting with Werewolves (Book One in the Flirting with Fangs Series)
Mia: Ashlyn is a master at putting together a winning premise. This quartet of stories is a “paranormal Cheers.” When she sends in her proposal, she’ll include short blurbs for the other stories in the series along with her first three chapters and synopsis for the first book.
“You’ll meet your true love soon. In fact, he could be the next man to walk through that door.” Psychic Sadie aimed a nod in the direction of the bar’s Charles Street entrance.
Mia: With your typical economy of words you’ve given us a sense of the setting and let us know that this story will have paranormal elements. However, since bars are often pungent and noisy places, I’d love to have more of my senses engaged.
Aimed a nod is a little clunky. How about just nodded in the direction?
AC: Point taken…both points, actually.
Wanda Helgason gazed at the door expectantly. It swung open and a tall, blond, broad shouldered hunk of a man breezed in. Oh no. It couldn’t be.
Mia: Oh no. It couldn’t be. is Wanda’s direct thought so it should be italicized.
AC: It was…don’t know what happened.
Mia: Cut and paste gremlins strike again. I’ll leave the comment in though, because part of RPT is showing other writers glitches that may be present in their WIP too.
“One night Nick? Are you kidding me?” She burst out laughing.
Mia: I think I’d capitalize Night too to help indicate it’s all part of the guy’s nickname.
AC: You got it. One Night Nick it is.
Sadie shrugged a shoulder. “You never know…”
Mia: What else would she shrug? Before you smack your forehead a la “I-coulda-had-a-V8″ over this, let me share that in a recent pass through one of my manuscripts I had my hero removing the blindfold from the heroine’s eyes. Well? Where the heck else would the blindfold have been?
AC: This isn’t a head-desk moment. She shrugged one shoulder instead of both shoulders. I’ll change the word a to one and it should work.
Wanda picked up her tray. Having delivered Sadie’s white Russian, she returned to work still chuckling and shaking her head.
Mia: Capitalize White. It’s part of the drink’s name.
AC: As you know, grammar is not my forte. One White Russian coming up!
“What put that smile on your face, beautiful? Besides seeing me, of course.” Nick grabbed a stool and sat on it backward. Even with the stool’s height, his big shoes hit the floor and she noticed his powerful thighs bulging under his blue jeans. That wasn’t the only bulge she thought she saw.
Mia: You don’t have to tell us she noticed. We’re in Wanda’s POV. What she sees, we see.
AC: Good reminder. Thanks.
Wanda knew her regulars and Nick was a good tipper. She’d play nice, even though the omen sat uncomfortably in the back of her mind. “Just something Sadie said. I think I’ve served her one too many.”
“Well you haven’t served me at all, girl. I’m parched.”
“What can I get you?”
“Whatever Sam Adams you have on tap.”
“Coming right up.”
Usually Angie would get Nick’s beer, but the bartender looked engrossed in a conversation. Wanda lifted the part of the bar that flipped up and strode in. “It must be your evening off. You’re not in uniform.”
Mia: I’m hoping the uniform means he’s a cop instead of a hamburger flipper at a fast food joint. But then a cop wouldn’t ever come in to drink in uniform…
AC: LOL. Yes, he’s a cop. (Or was…he just quit.) Cops do visit bars to see that all is well from time to time—he’d never order a beer on duty though. I can make it clearer by saying, “It must be your evening off since you’re not in uniform and you’re ordering a brew.”
Nick frowned. “Yeah, kind of.”
Something told her she shouldn’t pursue that subject. She simply grabbed a frosted mug and held it at an angle under the tap like Angie had shown her. It created less froth and made room for more beer.
Mia: These little details show us Wanda knows her business. However, I’d like something more specific than a nebulous something warning her off the subject of Nick not being at work. The set of his jaw. A tick of the muscle in his cheek. Something physical she can read as a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
AC: Another good suggestion. Will do.
When she set it in front of him, his cocky smile had returned. “Ah, you’re a good girl. I’d sing Brandy but you’d probably run the other way.”
Mia: Gotta love a guy with a cocky smile!
“Yeah, thanks for not doing that.” Wanda played the song in her head, Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be… She scurried away, mumbling, “Well, I gotta get back to work.”
Mia: This makes me wonder why you didn’t name her Brandy. I don’t get why he’d sing the song to her otherwise. You might show her irritation with getting that “earworm” stuck in her head. Maybe a joke about if she had a nickel for every time some drunk sang that song to her, she’d never have to hustle for tips again…
AC: ROFL! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. I’m changing her name to Brandee. (Spelled differently to avoid confusion with the spirits.) Now I have to change Brigit’s name. (Secondary character in this book and heroine in the next.) They’re too similar.
Mia: Important point! Names that are too similar are confusing to readers.
Wanda grabbed a clean rag and wiped down a table that didn’t need it. Nick watched her, unabashedly admiring her rear end. She quickly moved on to another empty table and made sure she was facing him. As soon as she bent over to reach the surface, her V-neck dipped. She caught him gazing at her cleavage like he might drool and she snapped up straight.
Mia: We have a little POV bobble here. We’re in Wanda’s POV for the first sentence, then in Nick’s head for the second. You can fix this by having her feel the sizzle of his gaze as he unabashedly admired her rear end. Of course, she’ll need to see him at it to make the fact that she sensed it ring true. Maybe she could notice his reflection in a well placed mirror. It would also give her reason to make sure she faced him for the next table.
AC: I disagree about the POV. Have you ever been unabashedly checked out? Believe me you don’t need to be in the other person’s POV to know exactly what they’re thinking. LOL
Mia: That’s true if she was facing him. He’s checking out her rear. Unless she has eyes in the back of her head so she can see him doing it, we’re definitely his POV. (As you all can see, Ashlyn and I go around about some things. But it’s ok. We respect each other’s writing and ultimately the author of the work makes the final decision.)
Good Lord. Why can’t he turn around?
Nick stood, left his beer on the bar and strolled over to her. He leaned down so he could whisper in her ear. “When, Wanda?”
Mia: Nick doesn’t strike me as a stroller. How does the guy move?
AC: Nah, he’s a stroller. A very laid-back beta wolf.
She tried to look casual. “When what?”
Mia: But her insides are jumping. Even though she’s rightly wary of him, this guy pings all her buttons. I’d like to see a little more of that.
AC: Good idea. I’ll make her jitter.
“When are you going to let me show you the time of your life?”
Mia: Not wild about that pick-up line. Is Nick our hero or should we look for someone else? If Nick’s the hero, I’d like a bit of genuineness in his attempt to pick her up. He’s a bit of a bum right now, but that’s ok. I know your heroine can rehabilitate him. However, I hope you’ll give us another reason to like him besides his obvious good looks fairly soon.
AC: Oh, you’re just giving me a hard time because I rag on your Alpha heroes. LOL. Here’s the next bit…maybe it’ll help.
“Look, I know your reputation. I’m not interested in one night, Nick.”
He crossed his arms. “At least I’m upfront about it. I won’t say, ‘I’ll call ya,’ and then leave you to wonder why I didn’t. Do you need a commitment for a night of fun?”
AC: Here’s what he’s really doing…He doesn’t want to hurt women by leading them on only to dump them if and when “the one” comes along. Remember, he’s a wolf and they mate for life.
Mia: Ok. He’s being honest. I can support that. Thanks for being my volunteer this week, my friend.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. How can Ashlyn improve her opener?
While you’re thinking about it, think about ordering her latest book: THE VAMPIRE NEXT DOOR.
Apartment for Rent. Normal Need Not Apply. This old Boston brownstone is not known for quiet living…first the shapeshifter meets his nurse, then the werewolf falls for his curvy lawyer, but now the vampire is looking for love with a witch who’s afraid of the dark…and you though your neighbors had issues!
This story received a coveted 4 1/2 STARS and a Top Pick from RTBOOKReviews. Claim your copy today.