Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Our third submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Mason Matchak. THE BOOK OF LOST RUNES is adult fantasy.


The last man Shiloh ever wanted to see again stepped onto her airship.

Shiloh looked him over, wondered just how much ten years had changed him, and hoped she wouldn’t have to deal with him for long enough to find out.  “Lord Figaro,” she said, “welcome aboard, and thank you for choosing a Caldwell Company flight.”  The greeting was a habit, and helped Shiloh keep bitterness out of her voice.  She resisted the urge to check her schedule to make absolutely sure he was on it.

“Lord Edwin is fine,” he said, smiling at her, his teeth bright against his dark brown skin.  “Lord Figaro is my older brother.”

Of course, Shiloh recalled.  Edwin was the second son of the Brinmaar branch of House Figaro, and his elder brother must have taken over the merchant house’s business sometime in the past decade.  When last they met, Edwin wasn’t ‘Lord’ of anything.

“As you wish, Lord Edwin,” Shiloh said, forcing her voice into the practiced politeness she reserved for enduring difficult customers.  She did check her schedule then, tapping a few carved glass buttons on the runewoven bracer she wore on her left forearm.  The bracer was emblazoned with Caldwell Company’s red and gold logo, which clashed with the pale blue dress Shiloh wore, but there was little she could do about that.  After a moment, a few gleaming words appeared in the bracer’s largest crystal, confirming that Lord Figaro had indeed made a reservation for the evening.  There was no destination listed.

That wasn’t common, but Shiloh had dealt with wealthy folks who liked to think they were traveling incognito before.  She tucked a strand of her bangs back behind one ear; most of her wavy blonde hair was tied back in a simple ponytail that reached her waist, but she wore her bangs loose.  “Where do you wish to travel today, Lord?”

Lord Edwin glanced around the small airship as though it was his own.  He stood a bit over six feet tall, only a little taller than Shiloh herself, and wore a dark blue suit with beige trim, in what Shiloh figured must be the height of local fashion if he was wearing it.  His hair was tightly curled and trimmed close to his head, and she guessed he wore the neat mustache and goatee because he thought it made him look dashing, the same reason he wore a short, curved blade at one hip.

Sons of merchant families all seemed to have some of the same traits, no matter where they came from or how powerful their families were.  Or weren’t.  Shiloh frowned at another old memory, then waited by the airship’s wheel for Edwin’s reply.


Great start! I love the character descriptions. You've shown a lot of their personalities through their clothing and hair styles. There are just a couple of things that I think will bring tension to the story and help pull the reader in even more.

You did a wonderful job of showing that Shiloh doesn't like Edwin (the way she checks to see if he's really supposed to be there, the way she has to force her voice). However, I'd like a hint of why she doesn't like him. Were they a couple? Was it business? Giving that hint will add another layer to the tension.

If Edwin wasn't Lord of anything the last time they met, why did she address him as such? If she doesn't address him as Lord, and then he insists, then that adds extra impact to the sentences that follow.

Is Edwin the only passenger? Are Shiloh and Edwin the only people on the ship? If so, mention it. That will add more tension as well.

In all, you have a very interesting beginning. You've put a lot of questions in my mind (Where is he going? What happened in the past? Did he know it was her ship?) that would keep me reading. Thank you so much for sharing your work with us!

Make sure to head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see what they thought of THE BOOK OF LOST RUNES.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Our second submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Nathan Koronkiewicz. A LUMINOUS APPARITION'S RESOLVE is a YA Fantasy.


Life had begun in an instant, had changed over time and it was bound to change once more. This change would send shockwaves throughout the universe shattering everything and rewriting the path of history, as we knew it. Not one species would be safe from the wrath to come. From the midst of Garrett’s good intentions was the birth of a force of pure evil.

“A Hero, a mystical person, someone who sets the criteria of what is righteous. Each culture, each world, we all have someone who has once reached this title. Yet, why is it that my race has no one to call a hero of their own?” Looking out across my blank canvas, the pathways were as sleek as ever, the reflection of the stars below glimmering. My eyes drifted downwards, and I looked upon a lone planet in the emptiness of space.

 Taking my brush, I had painted the scene, which had unraveled before me.

 Sword and shield in hand, the man stood next to a flag of his people. His face filled with anguish and gratitude as he looked out across the battlefield. None of his comrades had remained, but in the distance, a flag of an empire was burning.

“A sole survivor, huh? He managed to accomplish his goal, but what was his price? Was it worth the blood spilt from the war to achieve freedom? I suppose it was for his people that he set out for victory.”

My feelings were mixed on the matter; I was intrigued by the concept known as heroes. How could it be that something known as ‘heroes’ existed in almost every world? But, each of these heroes differed from one another, their morals, their personalities and what they set out to accomplish. Is there some sort of connection between all heroes? Are they somehow drawn towards this concept? I don’t quite understand it, but if I could, I’d strive for it as well.

 I grasped my painting and took one last look at it. It was the birth of a hero in action, a marvelous scene, which depicted only one kind, the hero of war. I had come across many types of heroes in my time, but I had never witnessed a war hero. If I had to guess, it was a near perfect depiction to add to my collection.


To me, this scene seems to be about the concept of a hero and the MC's depiction of one in a painting. I loved the MC's thoughts, how there can be different types of heroes and what drives each of them. He/she seems to be a collector of heroes, which I find really interesting.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can make the opening clearer.

- The first paragraph doesn't seem to tie in with the rest of the scene. Go straight to heroes and the painting.

- Where is the MC? He/she seems to be in a spaceship, looking down on a devastated planet - "My eyes drifted downwards, and I looked upon a lone planet in the emptiness of space." Bring in some more details to ground the reader in the setting. 

- "Taking my brush, I painted the scene ..." Take out the "had." 

- I'm a little confused about the quotes. Is the MC speaking to someone or just saying the thoughts out loud? If the MC is not speaking out loud, then take away the quotation marks.

This is a good beginning, and I see some really interesting concepts in there. Thank you so much for sharing your work with us! 

Make sure to head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see what they thought of A LUMINOUS APPARITION'S RESOLVE.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Our first submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Angelo Michaels. CURSE CURSE is an upper MG Magical Realism novel.


 I knew the imposter wasn’t my sister.  Genuine or not, her appearance, her mere presence suggested that my sister might’ve still been alive.  There was no explanation in the discovery, no means to an end.  My sister was still missing even though the doppelganger was recovered.    

There were small tells, like Siena pulling on the wrong side of her razor straight black hair or tapping her left foot, instead of right, when annoyed.  I could see right through her because she didn’t have her defensive shield in place—her innate, inanimate ability to control her environment with her commanding personality.  Always the boss since she followed me out of our mother twenty-two minutes after I arrived in the world.  

Siena was always playing catch up.  Picking up on skills like walking, talking and writing, slightly before me—pushing her way to the front, barreling me over in the process.  It was easy for her because I was the timid, shy introvert.  She spoke for both of us, made the decisions and I just followed along. 

Surviving in her wake, but never thriving in her shadow.

Even now, entering adulthood at 18, the sea of time between then and now seems to have been absorbed like a sponge.  Those critical years of discovery, both of body and principle, meld together until they become one journey, one thought. 

All these years later the pain of losing Siena is still as fresh, the fear still as raw as the night she went missing. 

The night of our 13th birthday I was scared, petrified at the thought of never seeing Siena again.  Dragging around my half self for the rest of my days, the other half vanished, stolen in the night.  If she was dead than I didn’t want to live.  The world would cease to exist without her in it, but the globe continued to spin in the void so she must’ve been alive, somewhere out there.

I thought my mother, Genieve Grace, being a psychic, would’ve sensed Siena had been replaced when she returned.  Astrologist is her professional title.  Genieve gives Reading, lays tarot cards and plots star charts.  Her ability stems from a heightened intuition bordering on premonition.  She calls it the Wave because it rolls over her, compressing her thoughts until one trumps the others.

That’s why when Siena went missing I thought Genieve would’ve been more helpful.  More insightful in locating her and more cognizant, upon Siena’s return, that she wasn’t my sister. 

I knew it, and not just because she was my twin, but because we’re Witches. 


This is a great start. I love some of the details, like how Sienna is the leader, even though she's younger, and why the mother should have sensed the switch, but didn't. There are a few things, however, that I feel will tighten the beginning and bring forward the most important parts.

Since this is MG, you might want to cut the part about being 18. Telling a story from that far in the future can bring the story into young adult or even adult territory. The story happens when they're 13. Keep it there. 

I would cut or reword the line about Siena always playing catch up. It's more like the narrator is playing catch up, even though she's older.

The opening line feels strange to me, and I'm trying to pinpoint why. I think it's because Siena is actually the main focus of the chapter, so I feel like Siena should be the main focus of the opening line. More like, "My sister was replaced by an imposter," although I'm sure you can come up with something better than that.

Thank you so much for sharing your chapter with us! I love the idea, and I think you have a good grasp of how to show interesting details.

Make sure to check out Angelo's website at WWW.AM-AUTHOR.COMAnd head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see what they thought of CURSE CURSE.