First Page Redo – “One Night in the Hill Country” – Response to Feedback at Flogging the Quill

One Night in the Hill Country medFirst Page Redo –

“One Night in the Hill Country” –

Response to Feedback at Flogging the Quill


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A novella, “One Night in the Hill Country.”


Original fiction, photo-memoirs, and poetry by Felipe Adan Lerma

Available via subscription, direct purchase, or library.


“the intent of this blog is to incrementally build a body of thought that works toward integrating various topics, yoga, fitness, and the arts – it’s a process…”


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First Page Redo –

“One Night in the Hill Country” –

Response to Feedback at Flogging the Quill


September 26, 2014

Category – Thrillers

Related Articles :

Flogging the Quill : First Page Critique – “One Night in the Hill Country”

Advantage Amazon KDP – Reporting Time to Authors

“One Night in the Hill Country” – A Cozy Thriller?


First Page Critique of “One Night in the Hill Country”

Despite my trepidation, I placed a portion of my first chapter up for public critique at Flogging the Quill.

Ray Rhamey, the pro who hosts the Flogging page, plus hosts a similar regular monthly feature at Writer Unboxed, also provides a detailed analysis.

Constructive beyond expectations is my conclusion about my experience!

Below is my comment reply to Ray’s and two other folk’s comments, plus my redo of my first chapter’s first page.

Please feel free to go to either Ray’s page featuring his critique of my work, or here on my site, to add, suggest, or comment in general about the whole experience and suggestions. As always, constructive please. 🙂


As appears on Flogging the Quill :

I wanted to thank Ray, Cindy, and Perry for taking the time to provide the feedback. It has given me invaluable pointers. I also very much appreciated some equally valuable positive take-aways: Ray’s notation that the story (vs the craft) almost made the piece work for him; Cindy pointing out she could feel the tension; and Perry pointing out how the scene might work in a movie (cinematically).

The first and probably most important item to fix first was the apparent jump in pov. My intention was that it was all from a deep to not so deep pov of Tara’s. If it was 1st person, it’d be more apparent, so it’s my job to make it work in 3rd person, if that’s what I want to keep.

“Hesitant. Fearful. Hearing the protestors down the street like a funeral procession. Break in POV…”

So I’m thinking, something like this:

“Tara recognized her own feelings in the girl’s eyes. Hesitant. Fearful. Probably hearing the protestors down the street, like a funeral procession. Ready to bury her hopes.”

The metaphors and similes are a little trickier. Some folk really like them, some don’t. I myself have read one of James Patterson’s books, where most of the similes really worked, but some felt out of place. So I understand. But as a writer, they give me a way to add feeling that is reflective of the how the characters are feeling in the scene. So anyway, a tough one. Definitely something to keep working on. (smiles)

The question of using Shirley Temple is, I very much realize, touchy. My limited experience tells me that newly arriving immigrants either are fighting to retain an image of themselves from their old country that’s important to them; or, struggle desperately to fit in with what they seen of American culture via limited exposure (old movies, tv, etc). In the latter, they are trying not to look white or blond, but perky and loved. More stuff for me to work on 🙂

Finally, re “‘Yet, hiding it well…’ Hiding what well? If Tara thinks she’s an illegal immigrant and hiding that, then we need more of a clue than a pronoun with no antecedent. The reader needs to know what’s going on. The detail about her brother was tantalizing, but unclear. If there were a little more, something such as ‘would want her to bring to him,’ would strengthen the suggestion of jeopardy or troubles ahead for the girl.” – I added a little more, but was afraid to cross the line into too much info too soon, plus I have another ref to Rolf and the girl near the end of the chapter.

There seems to be, in lots of the reviews here and on several other sites, where readers are either saying there’s too much info or not enough. That they want to be tantalized, or they want to understand more quickly. Realizing there’s this balance going on among readers, for me, is surprising and kind of liberating. It lets me know I can work on the section more freely, yet remind myself to, ultimately, default to my own sense of how I would have liked to have come across it. Very challenging fun stuff 🙂

So below is my tentative remake.

I apologize for the long comment, but do encourage anyone to re-comment with more feedback.

I think, besides the act of writing itself, submitting my first page to Flogging the Quill has been one of the most helpful and productive ventures I’ve tried. Thank you all so much!


Redo :

Parked in the shadows of a row of western style buildings, built for tourists, Tara spied the girl, barely a teen, if that. She started to cross the border town’s roughly paved street. Then stopped.

Tara recognized her own feelings in the girl’s eyes. Hesitant. Fearful. Probably hearing the protestors down the street, like a funeral procession. Ready to bury her hopes.

Yet, the young girl hid it well, thought Tara. Remembering to flick her hair, gaze upward, as if unfazed, walking about. Definitely with her bearings about her. Definitely someone the right age her brother would want to join the others she’d found. Rolf will be proud of me, smiled Tara.

Down the flat street, dusty as a barren riverbed, the immigration rally picked up momentum. Bullhorns chanting, heading their way.

Tara stepped out and shoved the old pickup truck’s door closed. Just loud enough to catch the young girl’s attention, yet not alarm her.

Sharp dark eyes, wary, yet unafraid, peered back at Tara. The girl looked like a Mexican version of a young Shirley Temple. Pixie, full head of curls softening the wide bright eyes. Stretching slightly, Tara mimicked the young girl’s motions, glancing upward, feeling the hot sky, unwavering, above them. Peripherally, Tara saw the young girl begin to saunter, loosening her shoulders.

The child grinned, then hid it. Tara heard the marchers, a slow motion flood of bodies, now half (snip)

The original text of the above is also posted on the article in Flogging the Quill.

Thanks so much!


Eight Chapter Sample (10%)

One Night in the Hill Country medFor an eight chapter, 3000 word sample, please see my post : One Night in the Hill Country, a Thriller : 3000 Word Sample .

This work is in Pre-Order for an October 19th release.

Links are provided in the above post to :


This work will also be available on Kindle Unlimited.


namaste´- con dios – god be with you

Sheila & Adan
Sheila & Adan


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