Free Critique Friday - Laura Diamond

This week Laura Diamond was brave enough to let me post her first page. Laura and I met through the online writing community and I've had the priviledge of critting her entire manuscript! (well, honestly, I'm not done yet, but I'm still working on it - promise Laura!) Anyway, Laura and I happen to have written manuscripts with very similar premises, so there was an instant connection. It's been interesting to see how our stories have varied despite the similarities. She's a talented writer and it's been awesome to work with her.

Although she's had other crits on this manuscript, I think her revised first page is a good reflection of her amazing talent mixed with a little bit of my input.


A siren signaled a warning. I drew Sammie to me and stared at the dim outlines of bunk beds and chairs, scanning the darkened room for movement. The other Anemies—outcasts based solely on their low red blood cell count—huddled in pairs on their mattresses, crouched lower, as if curling into living meatballs would prevent the Sharpies from finding them, tearing them out of their beds, and burning them alive.

The siren’s call came to a crescendo. My heart hammered a traitorous beat while I tried to deprive my lungs of oxygen. Breathing lowered my ability to hear the stealthy movements of the Sharpies. I squeezed my eyes shut, praying the horrid sound of the raid call passed us by. It didn’t.

They’re stopping here, Justin.” Sammie huddled closer to my chest, trembling.
“Shhh.” I smoothed my little sister’s golden hair. Maybe this was our time to die. Surviving three years beyond our parents was unheard of anyway, especially with the Sharpies raiding sanctioned safe houses.

Safe houses. What lies they spread. Nowhere was safe. How could you hide when they heard your heart beating, when your scuffling movements sounded like thunderstorms, and your decay oozed out in waves. No matter how much you tried to cover your scent, they could still smell fear. The building was rife with it. . No wonder they hated us. Our stench. Our weakness. Our frail humanity.

Screams echoed from the first floor as our strong hold – a converted school building – was breached.

“To the roof, like I showed you,” I hissed in her ear.

A boy, no more than seven, grabbed my arm. “You’re not going out there are you?” I could feel the tremble in his hand and I suddenly felt sorry for him. He was in the worst place possible right behind the door. It was obvious he had no family to help him. Not that it mattered. His life was about to end anyway.

“Come with us.” Sammie extended her thin, pale hand.

“No. We go alone.” Sure, I felt bad for the kid, but he’d slow us down and then we’d all end up dead. No way I’d sacrifice my sister for some stranger, even if he was a child. Besides, it was hard enough keeping two mouths fed, let alone a third.

A siren broke the night’s tense silence. I jerked my head from the nearly flat, musty pillow and listened. The sound grew louder. Son of a bitch.

“They’re stopping here, Justin.” Sammie huddled closer to me, trembling.

“Shhh.” I smoothed my little sister’s greasy hair. Showers came far and few between. So did luck. Hell, maybe this was our time to die. Really, how many more times could we escape a raid?

Our room had no door and the only light came from a low voltage bulb halfway down the hallway. I stared at the dim outlines of bunk beds, searching the murky space for movement. The other Anemies—huddled in pairs to maximize space—crouched lower, as if curling into living meatballs would prevent the Sharpies from finding them, tearing them out of their beds, and burning them alive.

“I’m scared.” Sammie’s shrill voice cut through the others’ whimpers. How could they call our refuge—an abandoned two story building that was once a high school—a safe house? Safety didn’t exist. Neither did hiding. How could you hide when they heard your heart beating, when your scuffling movements sounded like thunderstorms, and your decay oozed out in waves?

“You have to be quiet. It’s important to wait for the right time.” I grimaced at the salty, dank odor of sweat emanating from my pores. No wonder they hated us. Our stench. Our weakness. Our frail humanity.

The siren’s call came to a crescendo. My heart hammered even faster in response. Please let it pass us by.

It didn’t.

The shrieking of old hinges and splintering of wood followed the bellowing sirens. Screams erupted from the Anemies downstairs. A whoosh of compressed gas mingled with the yelps. The smell of gasoline burned my nose. “They brought flamethrowers,” I murmured.

Sammie buried her face into my chest. Her body shook with sobs.

“It’s okay, we know what to do, right? We’ve practiced this a million times,” I soothed her, but found little relief in my words.

WOW! Right? What a great example of taking a crit, applying what works and TRUSTING YOUR INSTINCT! *Claps* Nice job Laura!

Good News:
Laura entered her revised pages into an agent contest and she WON! Yep - Laura is getting a 25 page critique by the fabulous Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. I'm not jealous. At. All.

CONGRATS Laura! You deserve it!
And thanks for letting me share your story today!
All the best to you, my friend!

Now it's your turn! Post your query letter or a tag line for your manuscript in the comments and I'll select one to critique. Then your original and revision will be posted here in the coming weeks.


Amie Kaufman said…
1. Wow, I want to read more!
2. You have the golden touch with these revisions, they all go on to great things!
3. Mine will be coming once my query letter is, well, not horrifying. Maybe some of that golden touch will rub off on me!
Terri Tiffany said…
Wonderful! The voice came through so much better!
Unknown said…
Great revisions. I was hooked immediately.

I won a 10 page crit by Joanna Volpe (supposed to be hearing back from her any day now). You've got to love those agent contests. :)
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Amie!! :D
Rose Cooper said…
Wonderful revision, Laura! It pulled me right in--I so want to read more. Congrats on winning the contest too!

Terrific post, Amie! Love these Friday posts :)
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Cool ... here is my query letter. If you choose mine please stop by my blog and let me know. Thanks!

"A scientific breakthrough of such magnitude it could radically alter the future of humanity—for better or worse—is in the wrong hands."

Stealing from renowned M.I.T. Professor of Physics, Nicholas Fischer, a group of graduate students has used his discovery to open and utilize Einstein-Rosen Bridges … wormholes. Their leader, Nick Fischer Jr., has convinced the group to assassinate a number of powerful politicians and World Bank executives, who were privy to the discovery, to prevent them from using it for their own New World Order agenda and egregious profits. Using wormholes for swift, traceless, attacks and exits, they execute the first mission. Fischer Sr. is arrested for the murders, having been framed by his son.

Chase Manhattan, man of danger, and part of a new breed of modern-day discovery seekers, desires to settle down. He’s met a beautiful woman he hadn’t seen since high school and seeks a long-lasting relationship. Ready to leave crime-solving behind, he’s taking a position as an associate professor of physics at UC Irvine. His idyllic plans are interrupted when he uncovers the diabolical scheme. He knows only he can prevent more murders and prove Professor Fischer’s innocence. The death toll mounts. Chase and friends must battle a skilled team of misguided zealots on both coasts in a desperate race to control or destroy that which threatens life as we know it. The M.I.T. group soon realizes Chase and his friends have the ability to thwart more killings. They put him directly in their crosshairs, on top of the target list of assassinations.

BREAKTHROUGH, an action, suspense-thriller set in Boston, MA, and Orange County, CA, weaves together cutting edge discoveries in physics and technology with greed, murder, and mayhem. This novel addresses potential larger social issues to address if Einstein-Rosen Bridges should move beyond the realm of mere possibility. BREAKTHROUGH will appeal to fans of Dean Koontz, Dan Brown, Stephen King, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I have a BSB in Information Systems and an MBA in Global Management, and have worked for some of the world’s largest banking institutions such as General Electric, Deutsche Bank, and E*Trade Bank. This background enables me to impart a knowledgeable and particular complexity into this unique thriller.

I chose to submit my query to you because you have an established record of success with Publisher’s Marketplace. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I have included the first three chapters. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Stephen T. Tremp
Pendragon Inman said…
Um Wow! That was... well, an awesome read. I think i stopped breathing within the first sentence and i haven't started again yet. Eeeesh, what great writing.

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