Monday, December 16, 2013

1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Leclerc Rev 2

Name: Sylvie Leclerc
Genre: Young Adult paranormal fantasy
Title: Crossing the Twin Maze

August 22. It was our birthday, mine and Moira’s, my twin sister.

We did not want to spend time on the streets where traffic was bumper to bumper for four miles. Summer was almost over in Cape Cod and the tourists were on the move. We did not want to go to Eastham; the quaint little town had pulled us deep into the mecca for artists and the punk  predominant subculture this season. I was too twitchy about them.

We decided to stay in the camp. It was called Camp Wellfleet, an abandoned military training facility.

“Check this out!” yelled Moira, pushing the fuselage of a drone painted red lying on the beach. “These morons have built a kids’ camp on a minefield!”

“What is this?” I asked, puzzled. “Some kind of torpedo or what?”

Moira crossed her arms and Mike, her boyfriend, stooped forward for a better view. “Get out of here!” he said. “Is that thing still lethal?”

Moira shook her head in disbelief, pulled a huge garbage bag she kept in one of her leather jacket’s pockets and put the rusted torpedo in it. The studs on her jacket gleamed. Moira brushed a few dyed blond strands over her messy black bun. As she bent over, her snub nose shaded a thin line of lip gloss and bony chin. She wore the ear cuffs in the shape of a bow and arrows I gifted her for our sixteenth birthday.

“You’re gonna recycle that thing?” said Mike, laughing.

“The hell, I’m going to recycle it. I’m gonna shove it down the throat of the military. That’s what I’ll do. Do you know that the military is recruiting high school kids as part of the No Child Left Behind Act campaign? It’s like the video games and all that crap.”

“Whoa!” said Mike, putting his arm over her shoulders to calm her down. “That’s enough with all the fire, Moira.”

She shrugged him off. “That’s enough? You think you can talk to me like that! What the…” She pushed him away rudely then snapped the plastic bag and left, the bag moving to and fro like a pendulum.

Mike raised his hands up and said, “When she’s got it, she’s got it, your sister. I don’t know what’s with her since she met these guys in Eastham.”

“Yeah,” I said, slipping out of my ethnic sandals. “She sure has a different look and a different mindset.”

“And her temper!”

“Pfew! Believe me I know all about it,” I said.

He reached the sand and scooped up my sandals like a bouquet of glimmer painted flowers. I let a handful of pine needles fall from my hands.

“I… Uh… I can carry them,” I said, my hands reaching the delicate laces.

“Nah,” he said, his arm stroking the soft part of my arm. “Your hands are full.”

Hairs along my arm rose instantly and I cleared my throat in embarrassment. “I can wiggle a finger.”

His smile left me breathless. It was not the little half a-s-sed smirk he often gave to Moira that made them look like they were up to something. No, it was a full out teeth smile that contrasted with his island type.

“I thought your hands were full with all these shells you’re carrying. Is that another project?”

“No, not really. Well... yes. I wanted to write messages on the inside of the shells for my sister. It’s all the rage now. I actually wanted to put them in my shoes, but you can carry them… if you want. Well… I mean, thanks.” My heart made a few flips in my chest.

What was I thinking about, me and Mikey, together! It’s true I had a serious crush on him, but no way was I going to act on it. He was out of my league, and with my sister.

We walked slowly to the line of twisted pitch pines that sank the dunes in place. The sun was high in the sky and they held a lot of intermittent shade. Moira had joined a group of friends and she listened to their chat, the plastic bag still dangling at her feet, a few yards away. They were eating the remaining crumbs of the birthday cake Cheyenne had gotten from the town. Moira sucked the tip of her fingers, nervously licking the frosting.

 Mike pointed at Moira with his chin and said, “She’s totally out of control. I don’t know, maybe she’s going through hormone growth or something. What do you think, Janna?”

“Me?” The effect of his scent on me. My head was in a whirl. It was much better than the scratch and sniff samples in the local drugstore. “Uh… Listen Mikey,” I said, pulling away from him. “Moira is my sister. I could never…”

As my senses overpowered me, I became conscious of little details: the warm wind ruffling the sand into dunes around me; the distant sound of waves crashing along the beach; the sunlight streamed though the treetops. Bathing me in dappled shades, the shades my best friend had warned me about, the shades where the shadow people liked to rest, up to her.

That’s when a man whispered in my ear, "Janna."

I bolted up and threw my hand in the direction I heard the voice, but no one was there. A distant squirrel startled away with a twist of rust, but not the voice.

“Janna, listen.”

“Oh no, no, no!” I moaned. I was psychic, so ghosts typically liked to take a hike in my head. “Who are you and why are you in my head? Leave me alone.”

Mike stared at me as if I had sprouted seaweeds in my ears.

Since I couldn’t drown the voice out, I put my hands over my ears.

“Watch out for Moira,” he said, so close I could feel his breath dislodge hair from the side of my face. I closed my eyes.

I wish you away.

The voice stroke me again, loud like a thunderbolt, “Janna, are you all right?”

I opened my eyes and saw Mike, his face very close to mine. He held my face between his warm hands and his lips brushed the side of my lips.

I looked in the direction of the cabins that separated the beach from the road. Some of the windows in the cabins were lit up where the girls had switched room lanterns that made colorful strings of lights. The bunch of high-schoolers who had registered for summer camp this year were probably  either talking, playing games or napping. The group who was with Moira glared at me and Mike, and my sister’s face turned livid with rage.

Icy sensations rippled along my body, tensing my muscles.

The intimate voice filled me, like it was coming from some imaginary earphones. It warned me, “Don’t make her angry.”

“Quit stalking me!” I cried, so loud, Moira’s group stood up. Moira gestured them to stay put. They hushed comments among themselves. Cheyenne walked straight toward Mike. I could hear them having a huge argument. She was Mike’s half-sister.

I ran to the cabins with my eyes half-closed and my hands over my ears and butted into Moira.

“Janna! Are you all right?” she said, a smirk on her face. “What did this jerk do to you?”

A moist breath blew onto my neck. I wiped it off with my hand. “I… I don’t know.”

“Look at me!” Moira said, forcing my hands away from my ears.

“Did you see anyone around?” I blurted out. “I mean a ghost or something... or… or a hidden one? I mean…” I did not make any sense.

She watched me, concerned and angry at the same time. “You know I can’t see them. Darn it! You sound like they’re after you or something.”

I pulled my cell out of my jeans’ pocket and texted my best friend:


“Who are you texting?” asked Moira, a stern look on her face.

“Reen, of course. Listen, Moira. Nothing happened there. I swear.” Her face froze, her gaze striking a dangerous spark. “I mean, yes… It’s not what you think.”

“I’m cool,” she said. “I know you didn’t mean anything. I’m not angry at you,” she said slashing the tree line with her icy gaze. “What was it that you were yelling at? Mike?”

“No, no,” I said, my throat so dry I licked my lips in an attempt to get some moisture in. “There was this voice. But that wasn’t a ghost. It was just a voice and I could feel its presence. It wasn’t an entity. It wasn’t a person with a blurry face and it wasn’t making noises like ghosts. It was a… a person! An invisible person!”

She stared at me for a moment and then put her hands on her hips and yelled, talking to the air, “Hey, big guy! Stop screwing with my sister’s brains and come meet her evil twin.”

The group of girls laughed behind Moira, their lips upturned in contempt.

“I swear Moira. I heard someone,” I said, holding onto her tee.

She pulled my hands free from her T-shirt and an old iron union jack held in place by safety pins.

“Damn, Moira! I wish I couldn’t see or hear all these guys.” I looked away, screwing a piece of drifting wood into the sand with my foot. “Actually, I only heard him, which is even creepier.”

“Poor Janna,” she said, pinching her lips, doing a good imitation of myself. “I’m a psychic. I can do all those cool things, like getting ghosts to warn me about things, saving lives and all that. It’s so unfair. What a wimp!”

        “Stop being a bitch!” I yelled, angry.

“What did he say this time?” asked Moira, crossing her arms.

“He said your name.”

“Omigod!” said Moira with excessive force.“Hey, big guy, come and sweep me off my feet!”

She pulled a chain out of her tee and whirled it around her fingers. A crooked cross shone on her tanned skin.

“Don’t tell me you’re still wearing this?”

“Of course, I do!”

“You look like you’re straight out of a history book. And not in a  good way.”

“Piss off!” she said. “And Mike is going to hear from me. He’ll regret he even washed off here. Where is he anyway?”

“Cheyenne took a hold of him.”

Reen opened the door of her cabin and I got distracted. I waved and she walked toward us. Her long skirt made the sand twirl around her like small sand devils. She wasn’t bad ass or anything, but Moira flew every time she was about.

“I’m gonna find them. And if you hear that voice again, you tell him to go back haunt those shades,” she added.

Moira turned around and left in search of Cheyenne and Mike.

“Are you okay?” Reen asked when she reached me.

“I’m all right. A little freaked out,” I said, hugging her.

“Freaked out why?”

“I think I got myself a spirit companion.”

“A djinn?” That’s what Reen referred to them as. “No kidding. Are you sure?”

“Why would I joke about this? He touched me, and he… he is… warm! And he told me to stay away from Moira.”

“Really? Wow!”

“I hate this, you know…. being a psychic. I’m so freaked out. It’s not a gift, it’s a tic toc clock.”

“I know,” she said, tightening her hug. Of course, she didn’t know. Nobody did.

I pulled away and said, “Do you mind getting my sandals. I don’t think I can get near those trees anymore.”

Reen curled up the edge of her mouth and tilted her head to the side.

“You’re all emo, you know that? Whatever you think right now, it’s just because you’re scared. It’s a gift, Janna. Nobody is asking you to share it. But think of the ways you can use it to help people. You can help the police find kidnapped people or do what those guys do in the TV series Psychic Kids.”

I ignored her reply, dropped to the ground and hugged my knees. “Well, the gift has gone all berserk on me.”

“I know… I don’t like spirits one little bit more than you do. But this voice? It’s like he was trying to help. Anyway, it’s not a ghost, it’s a djinni. Anyway, djinn are not all bad. Some are good spirits...”

“Or something. Right. You say that ‘cause it’s not stuck in your head.”

“I guess.”

“Don’t you know that spirits can turn nasty?” I asked.

“You sure?”


“Well, he didn’t turn nasty on you, right?”

“Yeah… but maybe it’s because I didn’t let him in. He’d be all over me if I did. ”

I watched the parking lot nervously, afraid of seeing my twin sister coming back.

“Did you see Mike?”

“No!” She stared. “Why? Something happened?”

I shifted nervously. “Moira thinks I kissed her boyfriend. Well, technically he kind of kissed me.”

“Really? Is that even possible?” Reen razzed. “I mean… he cares so much for her.” I gazed knowingly at her. She paused. “Oops. I’m glad I don’t have a twin.”

I shrugged. “Duh. It’s not like he thought I was Moira or as if it was dark. He can’t be into me... you know… ”

Reen waved her hand in front of her face. “Okay, stop… ew.”

“The worst is, Moira’s gonna be a pest from now on. If she ever turns her evil side on… She’s been so violent recently. And she’s wearing this swastika around her neck. She knows it makes me cringe, but she’s like trying to go all punk on me.” I made an imitation of her. “I’m rebellious, blah blah. Everybody should scream at the world. It’s not a swastika, but the hammer of Thor, a spinning hammer. The hammer that strikes for truth, that protects against all evil.” I pelted the sand nervously. “She knows my parents would kill me if they knew I let her wear that. It sounds like a bunch of hooey to me.”

Reen turned around and stared at the cabins. “Uh… She’s back.”

I stared back at Moira. She had this wicked flame all about her gaze and Cheyenne was with her, whispering something, holding something in her hands.

“Are they coming back for the kill?” I asked nervously.


  1. Sylvie,

    I love the idea of twins--especially the fact that one is psychic and the other isn't. You've also set up tension that makes me want to know more about what's going to happen. Brava!

    There were several points where I was confused and had to go back and reread to try to figure out what was going on though. I think that can be smoothed out by adding some introspection and tiny tidbits of backstory here and there. Example: Ever since Moira started wearing a swastika she's started acting weirder and weirder. OR I can't tell Moira about the voice. She gets so angry when I tell her about voices she can't hear. Basically, give some context about what they're saying. Not long passages of backstory, but more to go with the dialogue or action.

    Also, add more of Janna's reactions to what's going on. Her internal reactions help readers get to know her. Why does she fight being psychic? The way she reacted seemed like it was new, but clearly it's not new. Later we learn that the being itself is different. Give us more of a sense of what is weird for her, and what is normal. Her internal reactions will do that. Not too much. It's a detail here, a line here, and a few lines there.

    Another place that can use some more development are action beats with the dialogue. You do much of this well, but having the characters do things as they're talking helps ground the reader in the setting. What are they doing? It seemed like it was light out at the beginning of the passage, but then we saw lights on. Was there a sunset? How big was the torpedo. I pictured something huge, but then it fit in a garbage bag. What else do they see?

    Often our minds are thinking of things and noticing things all while we're doing things---and all while having conversations. That context will bring the camera lens in closer and help us feel grounded in setting, empathize with a character that has different gifts from ourselves, and understand what's going on.

    You've already built a great premise and set a great scene. Clearly, the twins will have more tension and possibly danger. I'm intrigued to find out what happens next. Good job with this!


  2. Hi Sylvie,
    I like the contrast between the two sisters. It sets the stage for conflict; yet, by how they've interacted, we know there are some positives to their relationship. My only suggestion is to slow down. It feels like you cover so much, almost too much, for my taste. I needed more hints or time before the boyfriend kissed her.

    Mikes reaction to Moira finding the torpedo seems realistic, but then no one seems to care. Their non-reactions threw me.

    I'm interested to know what happens next, though I suspect Mike is in trouble with Moira and she's going to do something real bad... Which reminds me, I would have thought she'd have gotten mad at her sister at least a little.

    I think slowing the pace down, setting up some of the events, would help me follow easier. You write well. Good job.

  3. Thank you Kelly,

    I will work in tiny details that will give more information about the setting and Janna's feelings. I think that will be very important for the rest of the story. Thank you for suggesting this.
    That's a big help :)

    And thank you Kim,
    Yes, I think what leads to the kiss is not introduced enough. And also why Moira is not madder. I will work this in. You're right, Mike is going to pay dearly for that.
    I'm happy you joined the workshop.

    Happy writing :)

  4. Thanks, Sylvie.
    I'm glad to be here, too! Now back to writing and trying to fix my problems : )

  5. I wanted to say thank you to Kim, Martina, Kelly and especially Paco.
    Thanks to your help, I was able to come up with a good first chapter. This beginning was very tough for me to write and I am very grateful because my novel is now ready for querying.
    May you be successful in you writing :)