Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Our second submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Christy Hintz. EVERGREEN is YA Contemporary.


Everything looks perfect.  Strings of red lights drape across the ceiling and dangle from the center of the gymnasium, cloaking all the dancers in crimson.

Everything sounds perfect.  The music is upbeat, the bass a perfect volume, not that crass loud overbearing beat that makes everyone's ears bleed and heart hurt.  Not like last week's prom at East High--which naturally I crashed to be sure I didn't overlook any details.  Nope, my prom is nothing like that.  Everyone is laughing and having a good time.  I circulate, smiling at my classmates, nodding at their dress and accessory choices.  The food table is topped off. The chaperons are keeping their distance.

I approach a girl standing at the foot of the bleachers. I tap her bare, brown shoulder.  "Where have you been?"

She's wearing a strapless, short black dress, one electric blue heel and one emerald green heel.  Her nails are each painted a different color of the rainbow, and today her eyes are a natural brown.  A thick strand of her black hair matches the electric blue shoe.

"Bathroom."  She turns toward me.  "I sat on the seat and everything."

"Ew."  I fumble through my purse.

"What are you looking for?"

"Sanitizer." I hand her a bottle.

She doesn't take it, but asks, "And what, pray tell, shall I do with it?"

I steer her toward the hall.  "Spread it on the back of your thighs."

She ducks out from under my hands and moves back toward the dance floor,
laughing.  "You really are crazy.  Remind me again why I love you."

"Why wouldn't you?"  I put the sanitizer under her nose for one last try.

She shakes her head and I return it to my purse with a huff.

"I promise to wear sweats to sleep in later.  My germ-covered legs won't touch anything in your house."

"What about our toilet seats?" I watch as a girl in a mermaid dress takes the last water bottle from the refreshment table.

"Man.  I'll shower when I get there. Okay?"

"Fine." I gesture to the transformed gymnasium. "It's all fantastic, right?"


Ms. Fulton, the only teacher not charmed by my straight A+ average and over-abundance of extra-curriculars is glaring at me from ten feet away like something's gone amok.  All the other teachers patted my back and congratulated me on successfully orchestrating the prom-week festivities, parade, and dance.  Not her.


I love the contrast between the two characters. I love how you show the narrator is extremely OCD as opposed to telling us. Her friend's description gives us great insight into her personality as well. 

There are just a few things I think will improve the page. 

The food table is topped off, but a few lines later, someone takes the last water bottle. Besides the water disappearing too quickly, I don't think the narrator would ignore that and keep talking to her friend. She'd fix it or delegate someone to fix it straight away.

"I approach a girl ..." Can you say her name? It's first person, and judging by their exchange, they're best friends. She wouldn't think of her friend as "a girl."

I'd also like to see a transition between their conversation and Ms. Fulton, even if it's just her friend gesturing toward the teacher or looking in her direction.

I'm not sure what the novel is about, but I think that's okay. You've set up the characters well, and I think it will be fun when the narrator's perfect world is knocked askew. Thank you so much for sharing your page with us. Good work!

Make sure to head over to both Mainewords and Dianne's blog to see what they thought of EVERGREEN. You can find Christy on Twitter as @ericaandchristy and visit her blog at

Monday, May 2, 2016


Our first submission for First Impressions this month comes to us from Kristen Zayon. OVERLAND is a Young Adult Post-Disaster Adventure.


It was a seemingly innocent thing, that first flicker. We were sitting in the Anchorage airport waiting for our flight home to Cordova when it happened. The lights trembled once, twice, then went out completely. If it hadn’t been daytime, the blackness would have been absolute. There were none of those emergency back-up lights shining in the corners, no glow from someone’s iphone. Anything electrical or computerized was just finished. We heard what sounded like a few distant explosions, then an eerie silence. We looked at each other and around at the other passengers. Everyone was stabbing fingers uselessly at their phones, laptops, the kiosk computer terminals. A murmur of voices rose, as everyone began to speculate.
Some of the airport personnel arrived with good old-fashioned battery powered or crank operated flashlights. The intercoms weren’t working either, or the little cars they sometimes drive around, so they were busy hoofing it from gate to gate, letting everyone know as much as they did, which was not much. There appeared to be a blackout that was at the very least spread across the Anchorage Bowl and Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and was most likely statewide. Perhaps it went even further. Nobody knew because communications were gone along with everything else; even old school land lines.

We hung out in the airport for a few more hours, until the time of our flight had come and gone. Eventually, someone announced that all flights were cancelled for the day, or until the power came back on. We left the airport to go back to the hotel we had just checked out of that morning. We had to walk, because anything with a motor was simply not running. Something major had happened, we knew. Power outages don’t affect cars. Solar flare? Nuclear bomb? We noticed smoke rising in several spots over the inlet, and remembered the explosions we had heard immediately after the outage. The planes. They had all crashed. I started feeling sick to my stomach.

We were in Anchorage for the state cross country running meet. For the first time ever, both the boys and girls teams had qualified, so we’d taken the ferry to Whittier and made the short drive to Anchorage. There were seven guys, six girls, and two coaches for the three day trip. By the time we were supposed to return, a storm had moved in to Prince William Sound, cancelling the ferries, so we had to book flights back to Cordova. This was always a hazard in Alaska when traveling in remote areas. Then we couldn’t all get on one flight at such short notice – it’s a small plane – so eight kids and Coach Ron were on the first flight, while the rest of us waited for the next one with Coach Casey. 


I like this premise. It's eerie, and I really want to know what disabled everything. I think if you add more specifics, you can make it even more foreboding.

- Do a search for the word "was" and take it out whenever you can. That will take away some of the passive feeling of the piece. 

- Tell us what is, not what isn't. ie "none of those emergency back-up lights ..." With this statement, I can't tell if the lights are in the corners, but not working, or are just not there. Tell us what's there. 

- "I started feeling sick to my stomach." Can you make this more specific? Tell us what it feels like.

- Show more details so we can really be immersed in the setting. When you talk about the cars they drive in the airport, can you show what happened when one stopped? Did the driver fiddle with some switches? Did he get out and kick it? Anything with a motor was not running. Are the streets filled with abandoned cars? What are the people doing? Are they panicked or are they quiet?

- I don't think we need all of the details of the track meet yet. Take us from the narrator feeling sick to their friends on the crashed planes. Name someone, and make the narrator feel the loss of that person.

I found myself really engaged in your first page, and I wish you lots of luck! 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 OVERLAND. You can find Kristen on Twitter as @AKLibraryChick