First 250 words of Dadewalker: Book One of the Innocence Saga (again)

Shelley Watters of Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book? is hosting another first-page blog hop contest. I’ve entered one before, the Made of Awesome contest. This one is celebrating Shelley’s one year of blogging, and because it’s a YA specific contest (and because I got an awesome response last time), I’m entering the same opening page of Dadewalker, Book 1 of the Innocence Saga. If you’re revisiting, thanks a lot for your previous comments You guys totally rocked and helped change the opening pages to something I feel is stronger, and a little more informative! If you’re new, feel free to leave a comment below.

Check out the rules posted on Shelley’s blog, and also the links to the other contestants.

Title: Dadewalker
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Word Count: 65K words.

I am not a protector of the innocent. I am a punisher of the guilty.

That’s one aspect of my ancestry. My banshee blood screams for the sins of others.

The pounding of hooves got louder, and I could hear the men – the Storm Riders – bellowing at the top of their lungs. It was no match to my banshee keen, but it was still loud – and terrifying.

“I won’t leave you,” Laysa said, her eyes wide. “You didn’t leave me.”

The Riders came into view over the hillock, whooping their war-cry and swinging their swords, their horses frantic and foaming at the mouth, hooves tearing up the soft earth. Tagodan by my side growled horribly, his hackles raised, lupine teeth exposed. Laysa panicked, and shoved me. “Run!”

But I couldn’t run. Not anymore. My injuries, blood loss, and the weight of my unborn baby were just too much.

I planted my feet and prepared to meet the Riders head on. They jumped off their horses and came at us, swords drawn.

Tagodan leapt at the Riders, teeth bared. I quickly lost sight of him among the sea of brown hair and glinting blades. The scent of their sin made me dizzy.

I twisted my palms down to the earth, and thought, Winter.

The temperature dropped immediately and the icy wind cut through the warm summer’s day. Snow that burned to touch whipped through the air and ice crusted at my feet.

But it wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t protect the innocents.

If you want to find out more about Dadewalker, Book 1 of the Innocence Saga, you can check out its page here and the sequel, Darkwalker, here; information on the two main characters here and here; my tension blogfest entry from Darkwalker, here; you can follow me on Twitter or fan me on Facebook for regular updates, or subscribe to this blog using the button in the sidebar.

30 thoughts on “First 250 words of Dadewalker: Book One of the Innocence Saga (again)

  1. Kristi Belcamino says:

    Love, love, love this! Great writing, great description, great tension and world buliding. Flowed and I ripped through it. By far one of the best entries! I have zero suggestions for improvement! Good luck!

  2. Susan says:

    You put me right there in the scene! I love the action-packed start, too. I truly have no suggestions. I think this is great.

  3. J. N. Khoury says:

    I love the tension, the immediate urgency, and especially the first two sentences. But I’m unclear on the characters. What is Tagodan? A wolf? A werewolf? Not enough info yet. Also, you classify it as YA, but the MC is pregnant. I’m sure you clarify this later on, but it she a teen or an adult? Is it really YA? Again, I’m sure with more to read I’d know, but from this brief scene I can’t tell. The writing is great, though. Wish you luck! Happy writing!

    • Lissa says:

      Yes, it really is a Young Adult book. Plenty of YA books address pregnancy and even have it as part of their plot (Twilight, Wither, Bumped, among others). I want to keep the mystery of what exactly Tagodan is until the next few chapters, but I have placed a clarification in thanks to your comment.

  4. T.F.Walsh says:

    Tension was great, and loved the MC’s abilities… very cool. They are hunting a Tagodan – some kind of creature – have no idea what it is so far, only that it is nasty – don’t know why yet, but would love to know.

    Would love to know more.

    • Lissa says:

      I’m so intrigued that’s what you got from my first page. It’s not entirely accurate, but it’s interesting to see what you got from it nonetheless. Thank you.

  5. louisa says:

    This is fantastic writing which builds great tension and hooks the reader from start to finish. I can only say that there were a lot of characters to keep track of: Laysa, Tagodan, Stormriders and the protagonist.

  6. Sarah says:

    Very exciting and the words you use are vivid. I’d love to know more. My only suggestion is replace “got” in the third paragraph with “grew”. A personal style thing. But, I like this a lot! Good luck. :)

  7. Erin L. Schneider says:

    As everyone else has stated, you’ve got the tension part nailed! Great scene building here – and I’m assuming the Tagodan is either a wolf or dog of some sort, but it’s not what the riders are hunting…they’re hunting her. I’m sure more details will be provided as you turn the page, which is exactly what I’d want to do, to find out more.
    Solid job on this – best of luck in the contest!

    • Lissa says:

      You’re spot on – they’re not hunting Tagodan. He’s a wolf (at the moment). They’re hunting the MC. I’m so glad this is enough to get you to turn the page. Thank you!

  8. Riley Redgate says:

    The mood here is phenomenal. I have a few line nitpicks for ya:

    “The pounding of hooves got louder, and I could hear the men – the Storm Riders – bellowing at the top of their lungs.”
    You can increase immediacy by cutting ‘I could hear’. It’s a filter between your MC and the audience.

    One more: “Tagodan by my side growled horribly”, grammatically speaking, should be “Tagodan, by my side, growled horribly…” But I think it’ll flow better as “By my side, Tagodan growled,” or “Tagodan growled horribly by my side,”.

    One broader thing: I was thrown by the abrupt tense change from “My banshee blood screams…” to “The pounding of hooves got…”. I don’t know if you’d consider changing those first few lines to simple past tense – I think it’d make a smoother transition, but it might put that punch your voice has at risk.

    Overall, a clean and intriguing read indeed. Your prose is a pleasure to experience. Best of luck!

    • Lissa says:

      Yes, I see your point, but I can’t change the opening lines to past tense without risking everyone then asking, “She used to be a protector of the innocent, what does she do now?” That’s why it has to be in present tense. Thank you for your comments, I have applied some of them.

  9. Miranda Hardy says:

    I couldn’t get over the pregnancy. It seemed really dark from the beginning. The tension was good.

    • Lissa says:

      Couldn’t ‘get over’ the pregnancy? Teenagers have been getting pregnant since the dawn of time. Why is it so hard to read about?

  10. MarcyKate says:

    There’s a lot that’s awesome about this – especially the mood and descriptions, but I have a couple nitpicks for you:

    1) It’s only 250 words, but 5 characters are introduced: the MC, Laysa, Tagodan, The Storm Riders, and the unborn baby. I found it a bit overwhelming, though others may certainly disagree.

    2) The first lines being present tense, then turning into past is jarring for me. Also, the fact that she’s speaking in present tense and then is thrown into a fight scene, kills all the tension of the fight for me. If she’s speaking in present tense about a past scene, then we know she survives, thereby cancelling out the stakes. I’d strongly recommend you change it to all past or all present tense.

    Overall, I definitely enjoyed this and I’d keep reading! Sounds exciting :)
    Good luck!

    • Lissa says:

      It’s written in first person, so I don’t expect anyone to think I’m going to kill my main character in the opening pages.
      Thank you for your comments, I have applied some of them.

  11. Elizabeth Arroyo says:

    I like this. I think, maybe, cutting out the two named characters and keeping the focus on your MC may make the scene run smoother. Just a thought. Overall I like this.

    • Lissa says:

      Thank you, but I don’t want to spring on the reader on the second page that she’s not facing this threat all by herself. Thank you.

  12. Beth Yarnall says:

    I liked the tension too, you do that well. I did wonder why if she had these powers, did she wait until The Riders were on them to use them? Could she have slowed them or stopped them if she created winter sooner? You have it listed as a fantasy, but it also seems to have paranormal elements as well. You have me interested in the world you build and what will happen to the protagonist.

    • Lissa says:

      Hi Beth, you ask a good question. Perhaps you’re not a fantasy reader, but generally there has to be limits to one’s power and in this context, my MC cannot reach far enough to stop the Riders before they are upon her. She’s also mentally and physically exhausted, which I believe I address in the text.
      You’re right, there are very strong paranormal elements but primary it’s a young adult high fantasy, and agents don’t like to be assaulted with too many genre crossovers. I market it as a YA high fantasy but I proudly include paranormal elements as well as a little romance.

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