First Impact: DRUID'S MOON by Deniz Bevan

It's time for another First Impact Critique, where we take a look at your queries, first pages, back cover copy, and more. You want to make an impact right from the start. We're here to help you do that.

BUT BEFORE WE GET THERE, I neglected to announce a winner for January. That winner is . . . . . . . . . K Callard! E-mail me at, and let me know if you'd like the gift card or the critique.

The rest of you remember, anyone who offers their comments this month is eligible for either $10 for Amazon or B&N OR a 20-page critique from me.

If you'd like to submit your first impact material, send it to Details here.

This week we have the first page of a paranormal romance from Deniz Bevan. My overall thoughts are at the end. As always, this is all just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

First Page
“’The Curse of the Octopus,’” Lyne read out loud, translating the runes as she went. The vellum crackled in her hands, even inside its plastic covering.

“Octopus? Are you certain of that?” Professor Ronald peered over her shoulder. His brows rose as he read, lips moving. “There seems to be a mark here,” he muttered, and tilted the sheet towards the light coming from the entrance to the cave.

The rest of the team was outside, tiny figures in the distance, kneeling on grass and mud. Lyne had been continuing her excavations near the well at the far end of the site, when she’d uncovered the crumbling parchment. She’d raced back to the cave to tell Professor Ronald and gather up the protective covering and other tools. Once the Professor was satisfied there were no other sheets, and not even so much as a lead case to hold the lone parchment, she’d followed him to the cave, eager to be there as he speculated on the meaning of the inscription.

She worked out the next two lines under his pointing finger. “Beast brought forth by man’s blood / the mound-keeper repays the sacrifice, but shall sense the wind.”

If she didn't speak them aloud, maybe
they should be in italics.
She hadn’t spoken them aloud, but a thrill went through her at the words. There was violence inherent in their tone, even if she had no idea what they meant.

Adam's Thoughts
The language geek in me is loving this.

Honestly, this whole opening sounds really good to me. The writing is solid. The mystery draws me in immediately. And the last lines she translates hint of an exciting story to come.

If I had to nitpick on something (and I do, cuz why else are you here?), I'm wondering how a single, crumbling parchment survived after having been buried for (presumably) so long. Maybe this is something unusual that you deal with later (you did call out the fact that wasn't so much as a lead case, for example), but it made me wonder.

Also, if the vellum is crackling in her hands, doesn't that mean the "crumbling" parchment is crumbling even further? It makes me wonder about their archaeological practices at this particular dig -- not that I'm an expert or anything.

What do the rest of you think?


Steve MC said...

I'm interested in anything to do with archeology, and so I love this setting and how it starts off with the scene and then explains what's going on.

In the first line, you don't need "out loud" or "as she went." And you might show that they're in a cave in the first paragraph, since I pictured them in a museum.

Not sure why they're looking at it in the cave, though, since she found it outside by the well, and it doesn't sound like the cave is their base of operations if there isn't much light.

Also, you could cut "pointing" in "pointing finger."

To sum up, I'd be scared to read on, but I would.

Matthew MacNish said...

I think this is awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

There are a couple of logistical things that gave me pause: second paragraph, they're seemingly IN the cave. Then, third graph, Lyne discovered the parchment "at the far end of the site," and "raced back to the cave," "followed him to the cave," and so on.

None of this is that important, in the grand scheme of things, and you can probably skip a lot of this stage direction type stuff, but I'm a visual, map-obsessed person, and if you mention all this stuff, I'm going to do my damnedest to make sure I can picture properly.

Problem is, here, I cant.

Otherwise, this is awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...


That's all I've got. :)

Laurie Gienapp said...

Very nice!!! And now for something really nitpicky... I don't normally get hung up on names, but I keep coming back to Professor Ronald. Perhaps it's just me, but it's distracting. I find myself thinking 'is that his first name? If it's his last name, is it pronounced just like the first name?'

Patchi said...

This is really good and I would definitely turn the page. I was also caught on the ave and the crackling parchment--but not enough to stop reading.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Deniz, this is sooo good. I love it.

Angela Brown said...

Deniz had me at Curse of the Octopus. I must admit that a lack of knowledge in regards to standard procedures at a dig allowed for easy suspension of disbelief, though it's always good to make sure things follow close to SOP if possible for those who are aware. Other than the part that is quoted but not said aloud, this is great.

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks Adam! I should have the characters emphasise the fact that finding the MS like this is definitely *not* normal - and there's a Very Good Reason for its presence, that will be revealed later. Hee hee!

Thanks maine! You're right, in later edits I've emphasised the cave aspect a lot more.

Thanks so much Matthew and Susan! I'm trying to edit this thing as hard as I can cos I can't wait to query it!

Good question, Laurie. It's meant to be his last name, but if it's going to trip people up, I'd better take another look...

Thank you Patchi and Michael and Angela!

KayC said...

My only issues with this were 'visual'. You initially have the vellum in Lyne's hands, but then the Professor tilts the sheet toward the light. I would get a clearer image if he nudged Lyne's hands to move the sheet into the light (which is what I'm assuming he does).

When the vellum crackled in her hands in the first paragraph I would have expected her to soften her grip to try and prevent further cracking.

'When she uncovered the crumbling parchment' made me think that it was falling apart in her hands as she picked it up, but then we find it's not that crumbling after all because it was able to be put into a plastic cover and in tact enough to be read fairly easily. Personally, I'd use something like stiff, or starched, or something you would expect to crackle when you moved it.

I would take out the reference to following the Professor back to the cave. It threw me out as I think I'd already assumed that's where they were.

Overall, I'm just being nit-picking. This whole first page is great and I would definitely read on.

Sarah Meral said...


I love everything that has to do with runes. Runes are mystical to me and I love mystical :).

Melodie Wright said...

I'm a huge fan of archaeological digs so this premise hooked me.

But that third graph is a whole bunch of telling. Work that info into dialogue later IF you need it. When I read it w/o that graph, it works just fine for a first 250-word hook. Your goal is to keep up momentum, not kill it with untimely telling. Good luck!

Deniz Bevan said...

Thank you Sarah and Melodie!
I am, I am... I think in the latest edit I shortened all that telling, and moved the rest :-)