First page review: Secrets of Love and War

FirstPageReviewWelcome to the Weekend Writing Warriors First Page Review blog hop. During the month of October, you can get feedback on what readers of the first page of your WIP or novel, published or unpublished — and, more importantly, give feedback to others. No more than first 1,000 words though. Don’t want to make this too onerous.

This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question. After reading your first 1,000 words, would a person continue reading it?

I’m presenting the first two (not one!) pages of a pretty raw WIP tentatively titled Secrets of Love and War. The first draft of this science fiction romance is done, but it needs a lot of rewriting. Here’s the opening.

Chapter One: Peace for All Species

The first sign of trouble was soul-shaking thunder at the exact instant Cynthia O’Connor’s wading boot kissed the surface of Twisted Lizard Lagoon. She stared stupidly. Her foot, too slender for most shoes, couldn’t possibly have caused the roar.

The sky was clear, so it couldn’t have been thunder. A sonic boom? She’d grown up with those nerve-shattering bellows at Dad’s pub near the spaceport on Kintle-Tilene, the home world she shuddered to think of.  But here? . Not even incoming spaceships were allowed to create sonic booms near this idyllic city. Might ruin Riksidia’s calm ambience of ancient, civilized beauty.

As she was turning to reassure the girl with her, another shattering burst demolished all thoughts. Then a third, fourth, fifth, sixth tore through her ears, until she lost count and the lagoon’s placid calm vanished as an army of ripples goose-stepped over it.

And that could mean only one thing.

“War comes?” shrieked her clan-sister, Kaushelle. The girl hunched over and covered her earpads with saucer-like hands. Riksids’ ears were less sensitive than humans’, but Kaushelle had just begun adolescence, which was just as uncertain and timid an age for a Riksid as for a human.

Cynthia reached for Kaushelle’s arm but lost her balance, instead. She splashed to the cold, soft mud, landing on her backside with face raised to the war-torn heavens.

With her ears and mind numbed, vision focused on the heavens. Flashes blossomed here and there, cute, innocent fireflies of light that vanished as quickly as they arrived.  Nothing threatening…yet. The sky above was an opaque sheet of clouds hiding behind the lacelike branches of a gourdwillow tree, with a bright green lorzential dangling from a branch. The rare lichen was as an excellent gauge of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide pollution, and since her current job was taking care of the park’s vegetation, she should note the lorzential’s location so she could…

No, no, stupid thought, irrelevant. More sonic booms exploded as the unseen enemy invaded the sky.

“So soon?” Kaushelle screamed. “Your people reach us so soon?”

Cynthia pulled one hand from the muck’s embrace, then the other, dripping a torrent of muddy water as she scrambled upright. “They aren’t my people, you are.” She was Riksid only by adoption, but that counted for more than sordid little genes.

“I meant no insult, but why here? The conflict is about your home world, not here. War was promised never to reach the capital.” The screech of sirens and the pounding of explosions put the lie to that promise. “What do we do, what do we do?”

Yes, what to do? For several heart-thumping moments, the cacophony of war drove rational thought from Cynthia’s mind. Then, as though thinking through pudding, she groped toward the only honorable goal.

Her public job was park curator, but her private role in the familium had always been childcare. In her selfish moments, she daydreamed of saving a child to repay the familium…and to prove she could handle larger tasks. So save Kaushelle. Get the girl to safety.

Her daydreams, though, were quieter than this.  Less dangerous, too.

That’s the current incarnation. What’s your verdict? Would you keep reading? Why or why not? Anything that helps me improve this piece is greatly appreciated!

Check out the first pages by other great Weekend Writing Warriors.



  1. What a great idea. I do enjoy your style of writing, Ed and I was drawn into the story. I did wonder if she’d really be thinking about rare lichens when warships were in the sky (even if it was her job) but it’s a great beginning and I;d certainly want to read on.

    1. Thanks for the idea about the lichens. I can certainly motivate her interest better. She was looking for the lichen for a couple days, and wouldn’t you know it, this is when she finds it . . . Something like that.

  2. I’d give it a shot, even though sci fi isn’t my regular genre. I’ve enjoyed your other work very much 🙂

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Kathy.

  3. chellecordero · · Reply

    Very scary and tense. I almost expected something to reach out of the lagoon and grab her. Your timing of the booms was well plaved, I could almost feel them resonate. I would certainly keep reading.

    1. I timed the booms well, eh? Maybe I should take up the drums!

  4. This captured my interest, I would want to keep reading.

  5. Andrea R Huelsenbeck · · Reply

    Yes, Ed. This is one I’d keep reading. You grabbed my interest with the first sentence. Nice job! I urge you to keep going with this.

  6. Very exciting, while giving us some interesting glimpses into your world. I’d definitely keep reading!

  7. A nice mixture of description, intrigue, and character introduction, Ed. I’d keep reading. I want to know if it is a war and how they are going to survive it if it is.

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