Book Jacket

 

rank 5315
word count 62030
date submitted 09.04.2012
date updated 06.08.2012
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy, Young A...
classification: universal
complete

The Keeper

Kristen Lusk

A book of magic, action, and love, The Keeper follows three best friends as they fight to survive after obtaining powers from a magic jewel.

 

In The Keeper, the first fantasy novel of a projected series, eighteen-year-old Meg Callahan and her friends, Emma and Vivian, have one goal: stay alive.

During a college party, Meg discovers a mysterious jewel in the woods. Ignoring Emma’s pleading, Meg takes the jewel; it is a decision that changes the girls’ lives forever. Soon, the three friends learn the jewel contains enormous power, and they aren’t the only ones who know about it. Through muddled visions, Meg leads the girls to Olivia Nathaniel and the Council of Good, an organization created to defend others with magic potential.

Things grow complicated when the girls return to college. With so many unfamiliar faces around, suspicion sets in, and the girls wonder who they can really trust. After a close encounter, they retreat to the Council in hopes of improving their skills. Not only do they gain knowledge about their abilities; the girls also gain the attention of members who have ulterior motives.

 
rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login

 

tags

college, evil, fantasy, fiction, good, jewel, literary fiction, love triangle, magic, party, powers, survival, versus, young adult

on 11 watchlists

38 comments

 

Text Size

Text Colour

Chapters

1

report abuse

Chapter One:  Meg

 Meg Callahan stood on the lawn of the Brookridge University campus with her two best friends, Emma Dawson and Vivian Jones. The girls had been inseparable since childhood; after graduating from high school the previous year, they rented an apartment together and attended the same college. Tonight, the three friends were enjoying a party on campus celebrating the beginning of spring break.

“You guys, in less than one hour we’ll officially be on spring break!” Meg cheered and threw her hands in the air to celebrate. 

Emma laughed, and the curls on her long, blonde hair bounced. “Yeah, but if you really think about it, spring break began when our last class ended.” 

Meg rolled her eyes. “Leave it to Emma to go all technical on us,” she said to Vivian, who shrugged in response.

It was a Friday night in March, and the air was cool and crisp. A slight breeze drifted through the air, carrying with it the sounds of the celebration. In the distance, music blared from the speakers of an expensive stereo, and a few students danced along to the rhythm. Clusters of people stood around in circles, shouting to each other over the noise.

Meg stood on the outskirts of the crowd with her friends, taking in the scene. The vast area of grass they stood on was known among alumni as The Lawn. On any given day, students could be found socializing, studying for a test, or eating a meal underneath the many oak trees lining The Lawn.

For the more active students, a concrete walking path led into the woods surrounding the property. Photography majors occasionally walked the trail, looking for objects to capture, but most visitors chose to use the campus’ built-in gym to exercise. Meg and her friends enjoyed walking the trail, listening to the birds, and spending a few minutes in nature without other peers distracting them. Tonight, the woods were empty. Everyone was celebrating the beginning of spring break, and Meg wanted to remember as many details as possible.

She wanted to remember the hour and a half it took for her to finally pick out the perfect outfit for tonight. Deciding on a shirt was the easy part. Meg’s favorite color was pink, and she loved how it looked with her long, flowing brunette hair. Meg had searched through her closet in the small apartment she and her friends shared and found the one she was looking for. A pink Miss Me shirt adorned with rhinestones was paired with her favorite Hollister blue jeans. Her outfit wasn’t over-the-top, but Meg had Vivian for that.

Viv chose to wear a purple form-fitting dress with black tights that brought her long, supermodel legs to attention. Around her neck, she wore a piece of jewelry she had made herself. Smooth, black beads made up the necklace itself, but in the middle, two paintbrushes were joined together with wire to form a cross. Meg had been there when Viv spray painted them black. Just like her personality, Vivian always found a way to make an outfit original.

To Meg’s left, there was Emma. Clad in black Bermuda shorts and a white pinstriped button-up shirt, Emma was the more polished girl in their group of friends. It was she who had planned a trip for the girls the next day. Emma was a self-proclaimed perfectionist who lived by to-do lists and schedules. Somehow, her tactics worked because Emma had a 4.0 GPA in all of her classes. Meg was just grateful Emma could help her with her class work.

“Not to ruin the mood, but if we’re going to leave by eight ‘o clock tomorrow morning, we probably shouldn’t stay out much later,” Emma hinted, tapping on the faceplate of her watch. 

Meg, who hated being told what to do, was about to remark when she felt an all-too-familiar sensation. She was being watched; Meg was sure of it. Looking over her long eyelashes, Meg’s eyes scanned the lawn full of students, searching for her secret admirer.

Her eyes landed on a tall guy who stood only a few yards away. His thin frame leaned against a nearby tree, and his tan arms were crossed over a red tee shirt. Meg couldn’t help but notice the muscles in his arms as her eyes made their way to his face. Surrounded by short, black hair cropped around his face, a pair of hazel eyes stared back at Meg.

Never one to shy away, Meg flashed a smile at the boy, revealing straight teeth only braces could produce. She turned to Vivian and Emma and twirled her silky, smooth hair, using her arm to block her mouth just in case the boy tried to read her lips.

“There's a guy over there who is totally gorgeous,” Meg whispered to her friends. “Where?” Viv asked, scanning her green eyes over her outfit. She used her fingers to scrunch up her black, bob-cut hair.

“He’s over by the trees,” Meg said. “Don’t be obvious, though. He’s looking over here.” Meg glanced briefly in the boy’s direction, but she noticed he was gone. She dropped her hand from her hair and openly began to search for him, her green eyes squinting across the crowded lawn. Where’d he go?

“I don’t see anyone,” Vivian said, looking back and forth at the crowd. “Maybe he realized you saw him and decided to hide.” She didn’t mean any harm, but Meg’s face turned a deep red anyway. Viv had a problem with controlling herself. Her mouth was like a loose cannon. As soon as a thought entered her brain, it usually found its way out of her mouth.

Meg sighed. She was tired of being ditched by boys. After all, only one week before she was scheduled to move to college, her long-term boyfriend broke up with her. Meg was crushed, and since then, no one had caught her attention. Nobody, that was, until tonight.

“One minute until spring break!” a student in the crowd yelled, and everyone began counting down the seconds until midnight. “60, 59, 58…”

It was in that moment Meg saw it; an orange glow had appeared a few feet away in the woods. As she watched, the light grew brighter. Meg nudged Vivian with her elbow, “Do you see that?” she whispered to her friend. Vivian followed Meg’s gaze. “Whoa,” Vivian responded.

“I see it, too. Do you think it could be a fire?” Emma asked.

Meg couldn’t take her eyes off the strange light illuminating from the woods. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” she said with a firm voice. She didn’t have to ask her friends to join her; it was expected. The three girls always stuck together. 

They made their way through the row of oak trees lining The Lawn and were soon standing on the path leading into the woods. The number of college students around them now was sparse. Most of the crowd had gathered in the center of The Lawn and was too busy cheering to notice the glow illuminating in the woods, or the three girls walking toward it. Instead, the unaware group continued to count down the seconds. “39, 38, 37…” they chanted.

The girls walked a few feet into the woods and noticed the glow was deeper in the woods, away from the path. Watching where they were going, the friends stepped off of the trail and followed the glow to a fallen branch on the ground. As they drew nearer, Meg, Viv, and Emma realized there was not a fire like they had suspected. Instead, the glow was coming from a small object on the ground. Nestled in the grass, against the decaying tree branch, sat a gem with the most beautiful shade of orange Meg had ever seen. It was the gem that was glowing in the night.

The girls were shocked. What was this strange object? 

Meg didn’t speak for a while. All she could do was stare at the peculiar light. While Meg gazed, she felt a sudden urge to pick up the gem. “I want to look at it closer,” she said and bent down to pick up the gem.

Emma threw her hands in front of Meg, blocking her. “Wait!” she warned, finding her voice. We don’t know what this thing is. It might be dangerous for all we know!”

The three girls stood in silence for a second and looked at the light. Once again, Meg felt compelled to pick the object up. “I’m sure it’s fine,” she assured Emma. Meg looked at Vivian, knowing she would agree with her. “What do you think, Viv?”

Vivian shrugged, but her gaze never left the jewel. “Well, you know what they say: finder’s keepers…” Meg smiled. She was glad she could count on Vivian to agree with her. “Exactly,” Meg stated and leaned over the gem. “5, 4, 3…” the crowd counted.

The moment Meg’s hands touched the jewel it turned the brightest shade of orange and immediately transformed into a white light. Little beams of light shot out from the gem and hit each of the girls before they realized what happened.

Then, Meg blacked out.

 

All at once, hundreds of voices began talking to Meg. She couldn’t understand what any of them were saying, and the voices turned into a thunderous roar. An image tried to reach the surface, but Meg’s conscience was too focused on the voices, which had combined together. Now, they sounded like waves crashing against the shore. Meg’s body began to roll as she tried to focus on the image in her mind, but the further she reached, the more clouded it became.

“Meg!” a voice shouted through the waves. Meg stirred at the voice; she recognized it. “Meg!” the voice called again. “Are you okay?”

Meg opened her eyes and saw Emma and Viv peering over her. Vivian’s hands were on Meg’s arms, shaking them nervously. Her gaze changed to Emma, whose eyes were filled with fear and relief. Whatever emotions she was feeling didn’t deter her from speaking to Meg. “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” she persisted.

It took a second for Meg to realize the other voices in her head were gone. Had she imagined the whole thing?

“I’m fine,” Meg said, deciding she should answer her friend before she had a heart attack. “Just a little confused.”

Well, you aren’t alone on that one,” Vivian said. “What was that?” Her voice cracked, giving away her uneasiness. She looked down at her chest where the beam of light had entered, but nothing was there. 

“I don’t know,” Meg said. “Did y’all see the beams of light hit us when I touched the gem?” She looked at the jewel, but it was no longer shining in her hands. Instead, it looked like a normal piece of jewelry. Meg wondered if the light from the gem had entered into their bodies, and instantly, she felt powerful.

Vivian began to respond, but Emma cut her off. “Of course I saw the light! What just happened? Who knows what kind of damage that could have done to us? Thank goodness you woke up! I was about to call 9-1-1!

Meg and Vivian looked at each other, and then returned their gazes back onto Emma. Something had happened to the girls when Meg touched the gem. Emma would never be that bold to them on any other occasion. She was the one who always kept the peace among the three best friends.

Meg remembered the feeling of power she got while holding the gem and wondered if maybe the other girls felt something when the light hit them, too. A strong feeling of certainty overcame her, and she knew it was true. The girls had received some sort of powers.

“Did anything happen when the light hit y’all?” Meg asked, even though she already knew the answer. “I had a strange feeling come over me, and I thought maybe you guys might have felt something, too.”

Vivian was the first to speak up. “I just felt a rush of energy come over me. It’s hard to describe. I just feel very… open.”

Meg nodded her head, and she and Vivian looked at Emma, waiting for her response. “I told you not to touch that thing!” Emma said. “Now y’all are feeling weird, and once again I was right!”

She must be scared, Meg thought. “Emma, did you feel anything?”

Emma was quiet for a second, and then she sighed. “Of course I did,” she said in a hopeless voice. “Can someone please just tell me why instead of freaking out about this all I can do is feel excited about it?”

Meg and Vivian smiled. They were both relieved that Emma was okay with what was going on, even though they still were pretty unsure themselves.

“I can explain,” Meg said, “but I think this is something we should talk about at home where we’re alone.” She nodded her head toward the party where the students had begun talking in lower voices again since the excitement of midnight had already passed.

“Alright. Let’s go,” Emma said. Meg pushed the jewel inside the front pocket of her blue jeans and pulled her favorite pink shirt down over it.

The girls walked at a casual pace away from the woods just in case someone had seen the orange glow, but their efforts weren’t necessary. Nobody even noticed when they reentered the crowd. Emma already had her keys in her hands, and Vivian was trying to convince her to pick up some food for the ride home. 

Meg was following behind them when she glanced over at a group of people laughing and having a good time. Her heart felt like it sank when she recognized a face in the middle of them. The cute boy she had seen earlier was listening to a girl in a miniskirt, looking away and seeming uninterested in the conversation. She wondered if maybe he was looking for her.

Meg wished she could stay and meet the boy. She knew the exact moves she would have used to get him to walk over to her. Then, Meg would have found out his name. Maybe they would have talked all night. She might have liked him.

Meg shook her head and turned back toward her friends. None of that was possible now. There were more important things going on. For a second, Meg regretted picking up the gem. It felt heavy in her pocket. What if the jewel got in the way of everything she wanted? 

Meg looked once more at the boy. It probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway, Meg thought. Then, she got into Emma’s car without another glance back.

Chapters

1

report abuse

To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
LM Fowler wrote 723 days ago

Kristen, a great YA read, I love your simple flowing style. Not my usual genre but the pace and clarity of your story telling has me completely engaged as a reader.

Good work, high stars from me.

Linda
Threads of Time

maradjen wrote 730 days ago

This is very good. I found no errors in the spelling, and as far as punctuation goes, you are better at it than I myself am. The one thing that I would suggest is that you combine your paragraphs better. You have done the same thing that I myself am having to go through over seven hundred pages of my own novel to correct.

There is really only one thing I might suggest. In paragraph four, when you mention "last" fall, it might fit better, in the context of the paragraph and situation, if you used "the previous" fall instead. It reads better.

That thing is setting each little action in its own line. If you would like, I might be able to share my pitifully small amount of knowledge that I have gained through working with my new copy editor with you. It isn't much, as I am still learning, but learning I am. It seems that that old saw about "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" might not be quite as valid in my case.

You may reach me directly at words2ponder@gmail.com. I am fifty four, female, and not into games.

I just rejoined this site, after pulling over forty chapters about two weeks ago, due to non-response. Only twenty four comments in three months. I know my story couldn't have been THAT bad.

Once more, I truly like this story, enough that I am going to watchlist, bookshelf and star it. You will have the dubious honor of being the first book i do that with.

My own story, THE IHMAYRAN CHRONICLES, is fantasy. You can find it by clicking on the name link on this comment, just as i did yours through the forum.

All I ask is that you respect my efforts as a writer by leaving a comment to let me know you were there, and what you think of what you read, just as i have done here on your own. I will, as I said, watchlist, bookshelf and star your book, but only for three days from the day this comment is being made. If i have not had a response by then, the watchlist and bookshelf will be pulled.

maradjen

Terence Brumpton wrote 730 days ago

I like the characters in this and how they develop well. Its realistic in how they are different but know each other well. the story flows well. I noticed one part which didn't read right but that was it. Its well written and a good book . Worth a read if you have the time

Jim Darcy wrote 739 days ago

Engaging, well -told tale that immediately involves the reader and keeps them reading . Should find favour with your target audience :)

J Greene wrote 336 days ago

A good start to a novel. Good character descriptions, though you might want to show the differences between the girls instead of tell them. I think this would be a good reading level for young girls. Wonder what is going on with that jewel.....?

D. Anastasia Paul wrote 392 days ago

So, I've only had a chance to look at your first chapter so far, and I have liked it.

The story is good, captivating. It also moves along nicely. The college life was very believable (I'm currently on spring break hehe)

I think it needs a better hook. It starts with the history of the girls right away, which, though important, doesn't make me feel like I need to keep reading.

Also, there are a few parts that I think you could show, other then tell. This would make the reader feel the anticipation that the characters are feeling. One part that stood out was when they went into the woods after the red light "the girls were shocked." I would like to know what their shocked looked like. It could be a good place to show different character traits as well, depending on how each of them reacts.

All in all, interesting plot. Though the beginning didn't get me, I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. I look forward to reading more and figuring out what's going on with Meg...and that handsome man.

D. Anastasia Paul wrote 392 days ago

So, I've only had a chance to look at your first chapter so far, and I have liked it.

The story is good, captivating. It also moves along nicely. The college life was very believable (I'm currently on spring break hehe)

I think it needs a better hook. It starts with the history of the girls right away, which, though important, doesn't make me feel like I need to keep reading.

Also, there are a few parts that I think you could show, other then tell. This would make the reader feel the anticipation that the characters are feeling. One part that stood out was when they went into the woods after the red light "the girls were shocked." I would like to know what their shocked looked like. It could be a good place to show different character traits as well, depending on how each of them reacts.

All in all, interesting plot. Though the beginning didn't get me, I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. I look forward to reading more and figuring out what's going on with Meg...and that handsome man.

Jaclyn Aurore wrote 416 days ago

Ok i'm not sure if this is a YARG but i think it should be, so i'm treating it as one :)

hmm, ok so i wouldn't have noticed this if Emma didn't say anything, but why is spring break official in less than an hour if their classes are already over? wouldn't it be official right this minute? Does spring break start at a specific time? i had no idea...

"with her long, flowing brunette hair" - she is a brunette, her hair is brown... so it should be "flowing brown hair"

oh i like the back and forth in POVs per chapter, and have a particular attachment to Vivian - which i didn't get in Meg's chapters, so this is quite nice.

and i also like that they found this jewel in the first chapter and the story immediately starts... no beating around the bush with filler

good job!

Jaclyn x
My Life Without Me
YARG: http://authonomy.com/forums/threads/103435/young-adult-reading-group-yarg-iii-/

Kmaria wrote 425 days ago

Kristen!? Where have you been ? :) put your book on my watchlist! Let me know if your still active :)

Sincerely
KmM

Kmaria wrote 425 days ago

Kristen I have added your book to my shelf :) where have you been though?! I want tour book to so well because I have enjoyed it so far! But I want to make sure you're still trying to "make it happen"? Let me know. Thanks!
If you are active- maybe take a look at my spinel be uploaded chapters of Gypsy if Vilda this weekend :) or any others you have missed :)
Sincerely,
KMM

Kmaria wrote 425 days ago

Kristen I have added your book to my shelf :) where have you been though?! I want tour book to so well because I have enjoyed it so far! But I want to make sure you're still trying to "make it happen"? Let me know. Thanks!
If you are active- maybe take a look at my spinel be uploaded chapters of Gypsy if Vilda this weekend :) or any others you have missed :)
Sincerely,
KMM

Kmaria wrote 432 days ago

I have read the first two chapters. Great so far! Starting off with instant adventure and mystery. I really enjoy it and the tone you have used reminds me a little if my own story, yet still different. Very polished. :) thumbs up. I'm looking forward to finishing it! And I would if course love If you could take a look at my novel. :)

Charlotte Elise wrote 436 days ago

Hi Kristen,

I've read the first two chapters of The Keeper and I like the sense of adventure your story has. It seems like it could get a little dark too, which is always good, and there might be some power struggles between the three girls. That's the sense I got from these opening chapters, anyways. I like that the girls all have their own personalities, although Vivian's is the least prominent at the moment.

CHAPTER 1
I read a couple of comments from other people and someone suggested starting from paragraph 5 may be better, and I have to agree. It's a good paragraph for tone and setting, not that there is anything wrong with what comes before it, but you could easily weave that information in.
- you describe the feeling of someone watching Meg as familiar, but I was curious to find out why it was all too familiar. Perhaps it's something we find out later?

CHAPTER 2
- There were a few changes in point of view in this chapter. For example, Meg was grateful for Vivian's suggestion to get food, and Meg tried to gauge Emma's reaction.
- saying she nodded her head isn't necessary as nodding is something you do with your head.
- Vivian thinking of questions to ask the gem is a little out of the blue, even though we know the gem was talking to meg before, as there was no lead up to the idea of asking it questions.

A couple of things I noticed in both chapters was the use of the word y'all. There's nothing wrong with giving characters particular dialects, but as you haven't mentioned where this story is set, other than the school, it seems out of place.

Several times I noticed more than one person's dialogue in a paragraph. Give everyone their own paragraph for new dialogue.

And there were also a few paragraphs where you double mention someone's name or the gem. When Emma is studying the gem then you say she silently asks the gem a question, the continual mentioning of the gem breaks the flow of the story. As its in the same paragraph, we know what she's referring to. Sometimes 'it' works just fine. There are names repeated in this way too, and the woods in chapter 1. Read it aloud, that's how I catch this sort of thing in mine.

I hope this all makes sense. I like the story that is forming here and will definitely try to come back and read some more.

Charlotte Elise.
Saving Isondier.

J.S.Watts wrote 560 days ago

An interesting premise.

Had you thought of beginning Chapter one at the fifth paragraph, it might make for a good opening?

I think this would make a good book for young teens, but you might like to think about ensuring the story progresses through action and dialogue. We need to see the girls doing things and intereacting and get to feel what they are feeling. In other words, maybe a little more show and a little less tell?

J.S.Watts
Witchlight

Debbie Coope wrote 604 days ago

I have read the first chapter of The Keeper, a YA, fantasy fiction. Overall this is a good start to introducing your characters and their environment (college). At the end of the chapter we have the girls linked with the mysterious jewel; the focus of the story. There were a few things that I noticed during my read that I hope are helpful.

I wouldn't repeat the fact it's spring break in the opening paragraph and dialogue. Just mention it in one.
How do we know the sound system is expensive?
o'clock
It's nearly midnight, but can see the hazel eye colour. I wondered about the lighting on The Lawn. Also there's a glow in the wood. Is this bright enough to guide the girls, or do they need a torch?
The crowd being too busy to notice and the unaware group seems like repetition.

I feel the girls need to define their characters through dialogue and action, which will help build up the layers in your story.

I have rated your book and will keep you on my WL to read and comment further.

Debbie

kata wrote 610 days ago

Hi there,

Ok I've read chapter one and really my thoughts match a lot of very helpful comments you received below. Despite the fact that the storyline so far is good, the writing seemed flat. You do over explain a little, telling when you should be showing. You could use more description to set the mood, and use more dialogue to define and contrast the girls characters rather than using what they wore and simply telling us. much better to show us with dialogue and action.

As Meg's POV, you can't explain what the other two characters are feeling, eg- The girls were shocked. We can only know Meg felt shocked, but we can't assume Emma and Vivian were unless it is described, eg Emma gasped or Vivian squeaked in surprise. You can't decide the emotion for another character, it is the authors voice and we only need Meg's POV here.

The examples from Ellie and Tod below are very good advise, you should make the amendments offered, eg why did Meg feel powerful? There has to b a reason!

I'm intrigued to know how Meg thinks she can explain what's happened to them. It's supposed to b mysterious but she's already worked it out?

At the moment although I like the girls friendship and the fact they are having the adventure together, I don't lik them yet. You haven't really given us anything to help us like Meg yet. The scene where she describes the all too familiar sensation of being watched made her appear a bit vain. It kinda annoyed me to be honest, maybe she could be excited about it, or shy, so we can be excited for her?
I will read on and try to give more examples.

Kata
Twell

Melissa Koehler wrote 611 days ago

Hi, I'm here for my part of our swap read. Sorry it has taken me so long to return the favour.

I really like the way you write. Everything feels very polished and I can see that you've worked hard on this. It's refreshing to see that come across in someone's writing. I especially like how you have three very different girls as your main characters. I like how we know what they're like instantly. I also really like how the jewel is found right in the first chapter. I hate when books have a slow start and I feel like you have set the pace well.

One thing I wasn't exactly a fan of though was your long pitch. It felt overwhelming to read something so detailed. Now I'm not an expert, but I would suggest maybe cutting a few things out and leaving enough unanswered questions to make people want to read more. Maybe don't give us so much information at once.

And one other thing that I thought I would point out is that at times, I found the dialogue to be a little forced. Sometimes, it didn't feel completely natural. I would suggest just taking a look at it and maybe play around with their phrases; see if there's something that sounds a little better.

Other than that, I really enjoyed what I read. I'm intriuged enough to read on and find out all about this mysterious boy and jewel. I think you've got a great story and I wish you the best of luck with it.

Hoping to hear more feedback from you,
Melissa :)
Gut Instincts
Not So Sweet Sixteen

DWBrown wrote 627 days ago

I like the way you added in the mysterious orange crystal; your writing is strong and I believe the YA crowd will really enjoy it. didn't notice any grammar mistakes either... many stars for this novel.

ChristineRees wrote 659 days ago

Kristen,

Hey! I know it’s been a while since we made our read swapping agreement, but I’m finally here to fulfill my end of the bargain! Alright, so I’ll stop talking about that and get down to commenting on your writing.

First, I like the way you introduce your characters and give them each their own flare. It’s great when you have friends that are all different from one another with varied personalities to help give the plot some twists and turns, maybe even a few confrontations or personality clashes.

Second, I like the mystery behind the gem. It’s alluring and the curiosity to learn why light shot out of it ate me up as I continued to read! Good hook. Also, the mysterious boy and the last paragraph of the first chapter are good hooks as well. I really like the line "What if the jewel got in the way of everything she wanted?" Some foreshadowing perhaps?

Third, I quite enjoyed the use of “ya’ll”. Suddenly, I pictured all of the girls with a slight Texan accent, which is different from most of the stories I've read. It’s good, and makes it unique, something to help you remember it.
Very good beginning, so highly starred from me.

I look forward to seeing what you think of Spark!

Christine Rees
Spark

Chipper10 wrote 666 days ago

A great read. One thing that might help is to vary the ending of each chapter so each of them can be surpring to the reader. Its good to have a cliffhanger but of using a cliff hanger of montion. I suggest you use a cliff hanger of a fact about a charcter instead.

Best wishes,
Chipper Newman

Neville wrote 667 days ago

The Keeper.
By Kristen Lusk.

I started to read this book some time back but got waylaid at the time.
It didn’t have a book cover then but was a thrilling read all the same.
I’ve come back to read more and have found a book with an excellent cover that’s well suited to the storyline, and any errors at the time, edited out...It’s even better now!
I do wish you well with your book, Kristen, you’ve tried hard and it’s paid off.
Love the book—Highest stars for this!!
Will shelve soon as I can!

Very best regards,

Neville. The Secrets of the Forest – The Time Zone.

JMF wrote 668 days ago

I've revisited the first chapter so far. You have done a good job of taking on board your comments, well done! I do tend to agree with Tod and Ellie about you still having some unnecessary explanation in there, (explaining exactly what is going on, rather than letting the reader ascertain what is happening from the action.)
I also agree with Ellie's comment about the three girls' characters. I think you need to work some strong differences in there. Perhaps one can be really timid about going into the wood to investigate, perhaps one is headstrong and impulsive and the other is practical and down-to-earth. I think you have done this a little, but you could do more of it.
Perhaps also use a few more descriptive words to describe the event with the gem. A little more about the orange glow, did it shimmer and shake or was it steady, was it so bright they couldn't see or a dull, soft light. What did it feel like in her hand? Was it heavy, light or feel like nothing is there? Again, you have done some of this, but I think you could milk it further.
I notice you have entitled this chapter Meg, is this because you intend to use her viewpoint in this chapter? Most of the time you succeed, but I do feel the narrator's voice creeping in on the odd occasion, e.g.'music blared from the speakers of an expensive stereo' - how did she know it was expensive?
You have worked hard on this and with a few small changes you could make your work even stronger. I hope you don't feel I sound overly-critical. I certainly don't mean to, I hope you will find my comments helpful.
I think this is a good story for the YA market.
All the best
Julia
Shadow Jumper

EllieMcG wrote 668 days ago

YARG The Keeper

I've read four chapters so far, and I think this is a polished, well-plotted book. It reminds me a bit of Chronicle. It's really refreshing to see three girls with such a fine friendship. I don't think we see that often enough in YA books. One thing I'm worried about is that I don't see enough difference between the three main characters. Emma stands out, but apart from clothing choices, Vivian and Meg don't seem to have very different personalities. You may want to consider adding a bit more individual flair to each persona, to make them each a bit more unique. 
There were a couple of nit-picky crits I came across:
the curls on her long, blonde hair bounced - this could be simplified and clarified to: "her long, blonde curls bounced"
" Meg wondered if the light from the gem had entered into their bodies, and instantly, she felt powerful" - this confused me a touch. When exactly did she begin feeling powerful? And how does she feel powerful? I'd like to know more about this - be more specific about how she's feeling, rather than just telling me she feels powerful, of that makes sense.
The only other thing I would say is that I agree with Tod's suggestion that perhaps you explain a bit too much exactly what is going on, rather than allowing the reader to pick up on what's implied. You do a great job of showing us what's going on, so you don't really need to repeat it in dialogue or narrative. 
Otherwise, this is really well done. The style is smooth, and easy to read, which will be perfect for the YA genre. Highly starred.
Ellie
Paragon

DWBrown wrote 669 days ago

First Chapter down and I'm impressed with your writing already. Good story, good flow...
I'll continue on...

Tod Schneider wrote 692 days ago

Greetings,
I've taken a quick look at your first chapter, and have some thoughts.
First, you've got a good story here, and you launch us into an interesting discovery pretty quickly, so high marks on those points.
Critique-wise, I think you go overboard explaining what people are thinking, and I think that works against you. Let the story just SHOW it, rather than feel the need to TELL it. A handful of examples:
The girls were (cut: shocked. What was this strange object?)(insert: intrigued)
"and hit each of the girls (cut: before they realized what happened.)
Did y'all see (cut: the beams of light hit us when we touched the gem?) (insert: that?)
Meg and Bree smiled. (cut: They were both relieved that Emma was okay with what was going on, even though they were pretty sure themselves.)
I hope that's useful. Showing instead of telling is way high on the list of novel essentials.
Best of luck with this!
Tod
It appears you have an interest in kids' literature. If so, I'm hoping you'll take a look at my novel, The Lost Wink.
Thanks!
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

Rani Lee wrote 695 days ago

Hello there.

A while back, you asked me to read and comment on your project. Here I am. Note that this will mostly be my opinion, and you are free to ignore any suggestions. I haven't done this in a while, so don't shoot me if it turns out I'm garbage at it ;)

I like what your first piece of dialogue manages to accomplish. It's sets up a time period, and already, I can imagine things about the story. I'm not a big fan of starting stories with dialogue, but if you're going to do it, I think you've made a good choice as far as what is there.

There's a lot of good stuff in here. The friendship dynamic with Emma, Bree, and Meg is good. I think it was a nice choice to have the three girls discover the gem instead of just your MC. That should give ample opportunities to explore plotwise. The mysterious boy and the mysterious gem are also good points. As well as the trip the girls are about to take.

As far as a first chapter goes, your formula is perfect, plotwise. The narration could use a stronger push. Everything seemed a little flat. Why not get creative with the descriptions? There were several instances when I noted that there could have been more used, like when you describe the powerful feeling in Meg. Or when you describe the boy. It really could have used a metaphor or something to help bring everything to life and make it a vivid portrayal of both the girls and their stories.

The set up is great, though.

I wish you luck and happy writing :)

Sharda D wrote 711 days ago

Hi Kristen,
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Well done. In particular, you write dialogue with real style and flow, there were a few niggles for me, but nothing terrible!

Here are the notes I made as I was reading, feel free to ignore them, they are just thoughts :

Nice start, straight into action & dialogue. Dialogue feels very easy and authentic.

You write dialogue very well but at times I felt the narrative voice feels too formal for a book about college students. Try putting some of the relaxed and humourous quality of your dialogue in your narration and you'd be on to a winner. Even though this is a third person narrative, you still need to make the language the same as the character whose point of view you're in. I felt that some of the language wasn't in keeping with Meg. E.g “college classes” (wouldn't she just think of them as 'her classes') “enrolling”“particularly exciting for the girls”, “orchestrated”, “self-proclaimed perfectionist”, they all felt a little too much like the author not Meg.

I’ve read a lot of YA/romance in the past few weeks on Authonomy, and it seems that everytime a female protagonist sees a boy he is “cute”, “hot” or “gorgeous” closely followed by some observation about muscles and hair/eyes. It’s all starting to feel a little generic, they don’t feel real, and it seems a little objectifying! To avoid this get a real photo of a real boy and describe exactly what you see, suddenly the boy will seem more 3D!
Again, I like the dialogue when they see the jewel e.g. “Retro” and “Maths geek”

A very enjoyable read, well done.
5 stars from me,
Sharda.
P.S. I think we were doing a reading swap, so please take a look at mine when you have time.
http://www.authonomy.com/books/42835/mr-unusually-s-circus-of-dreams/

aurorawatcher wrote 720 days ago

I'm here for our read-swap, Kristin. Your writing is clean -- no grammar or spelling errors that I could see. Your paragraphs are a bit choppy. You might consider combining some of them to make your writing flow better. The characters are well-developed and quite distinct from each other. The boy could use some more description. His disappearance suggests mystery. The gem adds a sci-fi/fantasy/magic aire to the story that would intrigue me to read further were I a teenager who didn't have too many read-swaps to return. I will hold your book on my watch-list and try to come back to read a later chapter. Overall, this is a good start that could use some improvement, but has a lot of potential. Lauri (Lela Markham, The Willow Branch)

LM Fowler wrote 723 days ago

Kristen, a great YA read, I love your simple flowing style. Not my usual genre but the pace and clarity of your story telling has me completely engaged as a reader.

Good work, high stars from me.

Linda
Threads of Time

maradjen wrote 730 days ago

This is very good. I found no errors in the spelling, and as far as punctuation goes, you are better at it than I myself am. The one thing that I would suggest is that you combine your paragraphs better. You have done the same thing that I myself am having to go through over seven hundred pages of my own novel to correct.

There is really only one thing I might suggest. In paragraph four, when you mention "last" fall, it might fit better, in the context of the paragraph and situation, if you used "the previous" fall instead. It reads better.

That thing is setting each little action in its own line. If you would like, I might be able to share my pitifully small amount of knowledge that I have gained through working with my new copy editor with you. It isn't much, as I am still learning, but learning I am. It seems that that old saw about "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" might not be quite as valid in my case.

You may reach me directly at words2ponder@gmail.com. I am fifty four, female, and not into games.

I just rejoined this site, after pulling over forty chapters about two weeks ago, due to non-response. Only twenty four comments in three months. I know my story couldn't have been THAT bad.

Once more, I truly like this story, enough that I am going to watchlist, bookshelf and star it. You will have the dubious honor of being the first book i do that with.

My own story, THE IHMAYRAN CHRONICLES, is fantasy. You can find it by clicking on the name link on this comment, just as i did yours through the forum.

All I ask is that you respect my efforts as a writer by leaving a comment to let me know you were there, and what you think of what you read, just as i have done here on your own. I will, as I said, watchlist, bookshelf and star your book, but only for three days from the day this comment is being made. If i have not had a response by then, the watchlist and bookshelf will be pulled.

maradjen

Terence Brumpton wrote 730 days ago

I like the characters in this and how they develop well. Its realistic in how they are different but know each other well. the story flows well. I noticed one part which didn't read right but that was it. Its well written and a good book . Worth a read if you have the time

Mindy Haig wrote 733 days ago

Hi Kristen,
I just finished chapter 6 and I think your story is creative and engaging!
I had a little trouble with the voice of the story because you tend to have more than one person talking within a single paragraph. I also think you should give a little more description of Devin. They refer to him as 'the boy' which initailly led me to think he was younger than they were.

BTW, as an Austin Resident, I know the UT Tower is only lit orange for certain occasions, the night before spring break would most likely not be one, though Texas Independence Day (March 2nd) is one of the days. The Campus is in the center of the city so there are not really woods, but there are plenty of parks.

If there is anything I can help you with, Just let me know, I worked in the Capitol in Austin for a few years, so I know a bit about the city and the tunnels below it.
Mindy
The Wishing Place

Chipper10 wrote 739 days ago

well written and to the point. I liked Bree, Emma and Meg. Unquie and fresh. I liked how you used what the characters were saying in order to show us the scene. You did a good job with that.

Backed.

Best wishes,
Chipper Newman

Jim Darcy wrote 739 days ago

Engaging, well -told tale that immediately involves the reader and keeps them reading . Should find favour with your target audience :)

Kate LaRue wrote 739 days ago

Kristen, here for our swap. I've read through chapter three. The idea of the girls getting powers from a gem they find in the woods is interesting. However, I think you need to slow the pace down. Before the reader even has a chance to get to know the girls, they are suddenly given powers that they have to figure out and learn how to deal with. We need a little more back story, we need to feel some connection to these girls before this drastic change. Play up the party scene a little more, make us feel like we are really there, and show us the personality of each of your characters through their interactions with each other and the other people at the party. Maybe let Meg actually approach the cute guy she was ogling and be shot down so we can see how she handles it. You do a lot of telling about the girls, Emma is a perfectionist, Meg was recently dumped and therefore insecure with guys, and Bree is unpredictable. Show these qualities rather than telling and we will feel a deeper connection to your characters. I was a little distracted by the mention of the girls' wardrobes, particularly brand names. Though what they choose to wear can reflect their personality, I'd rather have something a little more tangible to show me who they are inside.

I was unconvinced by their reactions to the gem and the light hitting them. The whole sequence there was a little anticlimactic. If you wanted a dramatic effect, you could even have the girls black out, or maybe just Meg, and show us the vision she has while she's out. Show the other two girls' differing reactions to the light and Meg passing out, then maybe bring out the realization that they've all gained some sort of power slowly. I just found it unbelievable that the idea that the gem gave them powers was immediately brought up and accepted when the powers themselves didn't manifest immediately.

Another issue I noticed right off was POV. Third person omniscient is hard to pull off when you constantly switch between characters as far as whose head we are inside. Try to stick with one character's POV per chapter, or at least per scene. Don't switch POV in the middle of a scene, as this can be confusing for the reader. For myself, it helps me connect to the character if I'm inside their head for the whole scene/chapter. You can show the personalities/thoughts/reactions of the other characters through their actions and words while staying firmly within one character's POV.

These are just my honest opinions, and I hope you can find something useful here.
Kate

rikasworld wrote 740 days ago

It's nice to read a YA fantasy with an all girl cast. The way the girls talk sounds authentic and I like the way you develop their discovery of their powers. I was a bit surprised that Bree was going to drive as I had the impression they were younger than that (maybe that's just my age talking!)
Hope you have a great time here and the book goes well!

JMF wrote 742 days ago

Chapter two
So the gem has given the girls magical powers and it now becomes clear that they need to find out what it is and who it belongs to. Your story would benefit, I believe, from being told from one point of view at a time. At the moment the reader bounces between the feelings and thoughts of each girl and it detracts from the storyline and becomes tiring for the reader. If you want to include points of view from each girl you need to separate parts of the story, either by chapter breaks or some type of break mid-chapter.
I hope you find this helpful and good luck with your writing.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

JMF wrote 742 days ago

Hi Kristen
I have read the first chapter so far and will come back for more. Your pitch attracted me to read your story, so well done for drawing the reader in. My initial thoughts are:
A good idea for a story with believable dialogue between the main characters. I think this is a strength. Well-pitched for a YA readership, although I don't know how old the girls are - if they are at university, does that make them 18 or older? They talk as if they are a little younger and I wonder if you should change their ages. You may want to canvas opinion amongst other YA writers.
There is a certain amount of repetition of phrases in this first chapter- for example "pick up the gem". I think you tighten the writing up a little to get rid of these and perhaps look at the part about the gem more closely. This needs to be more gripping. Perhaps add a few emotions and show expressions on the girls' faces to emphasise, what is after all, a pretty extraordinary event. A bit more tension would add a lot to the story.
I couldn't find any punctuation errors or typos, great job.
All in all a good start. I'll add another comment when I've read more.
Well done and good luck with your writing.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

KoriBates wrote 742 days ago

If a strange beam of light hits someone, I don’t think their voice would be calm and steady. The other girls are obviously shaken, so I’d assume Bree would be too. I’m also a little confused. If they found this random jewel out in the woods, how would Meg know how to explain what was going on? Also, why would she already be wondering if she gem would hold her back from everything? When the gem falls through their hands, I’m having a hard time figuring out why they’re acting like it’s a run of the mill thing to happen. I'm not drawn into your descriptions of what's going on and when the visions are mentioned, if you described them, maybe we could start to feel connected to the character. It definitely does have potential, though and your dialogue is probably the strongest part of what I've read so far. I think the story of it is a good start, but it does need some work.

Neville wrote 743 days ago

The Keeper.
By Kristen Lusk.


I think the book is Ideal for the Y/A market especially for the girls since they are the main characters of the book.
Exciting time as Emma, Meg and Bree discover the mysterious jewel from the light shining in the woods.
You give a good description of the atmosphere of a typical college party; the girly banter comes across very nicely.
Both pitches say it all without giving too much away—all it needs is a well thought out book cover.
Can’t see much wrong with this really having read the first chapter, it’s a good read so far.
I will get back to it for more when I can.
Many stars for now!!

Best regards,

Neville. The Secrets of the Forest – The Time Zone.


Jannypeacock wrote 743 days ago

Hi Kristen,

I came across this by accident and started reading because I thought your pitch was really gripping. The first thing I have to say is I think you have the tone for a YA novel spot on. I have two teenages nieces that love this genre and I know they look for the light almost bubby style and that’s exactly what you have here. It’s almost as if your story is friendly (if that makes any sense).

You have great dialogue which seems very appropriate to the girls ages. There were points where the girls conversation was almost cinematic and I think this is very important when writing for young readers. It’s not easy to pull off but you do it well.

Emma, Bree and Meg are good characters and I can see the story being easily fleshed out by their strong personalities. My only concern here is that I’m not sure about the wobbly POV. I was a little disjointed from the story because I was never too sure whose head I was in. It seemed to skip between all three girls? I personally don’t have a problem with this (it’s actually something I struggle with too) but I’ve learned the hard way that publishers frown upon it. I’m not the best to offer advice on this but I’m sure some of the more experienced writers here will know if it’s a problem or not.

I think you have the bones of a very exciting story here. Although the premise isn’t entirely new you have a lovely fresh voice (Some Stephanie Myers reflection, but there’s not harm in tapping into a readymade market)

Best of luck, I hope you do really well with this.

Janny

melissa_simonson wrote 744 days ago

Hi Kristen,

Here for my part of the read swap. I got through 3 chapters, and I'll comment below on each one.

Chapter 1
The Beginning

Something I immediately noticed was that I couldn't picture Emma, Meg, and Bree in my head because you never told me what they look like. I didn't have much to go on with description, either -- the best I could do was picture a kegger.

The dialogue, for the most part, seems true to their ages and genders. Except this one line that bothered me, "....look at the unusual writing..." Unusual seems like a strange word a young girl would use when pointing out an oddity to her friends. I don't know, maybe that's just me.

I found the scene where Emma, Bree, and Meg discovered the jewel to be very unbelievable, and perhaps happened too quickly. I would certainly expect three used-to-be-normal girls who picked up a magic jewel that shot light beams at them and subsequently gave them crazy powers to be, for lack of a better description, freaked the fuck out. Perhaps you could spend a little bit more time in the first chapter introducing us to these girls, etc, because as it stands now, we just barely met them and now they have powers. Maybe work on drawing these girls out, painting them for the reader- you did these briefly, with little descriptions of personality characteristics, but I would have liked to know them a little better.

Chapter 2
Unexpected Changes

Here was when I started to notice something -- (I haven't read to the end though, so maybe I shouldn't comment, but ehhh what the hell) I think it is going to be very difficult for you to balance having three main characters while maintaining the integrity of each. Even now, after reading, I have a hard time remembering their names. I only remember Meg's because she was the bossy one.

'Coke' should be capitalized.

"...when she lifted the gem to give to Bree her mind protested..." reads awkwardly to me for some reason.

A Vision Of Truth

I was sort of surprised here to find that all the girls lived together, but I think that lends back to one of my earlier comments; you should give us more backstory, spend more time in the first chapter explaining these girls to the audience, letting us know more about them before just throwing us into this magic power thing.

I don't think ever so slightly needs to have hyphens between each word.

You say Meg has visions, but they aren't described enough to pull the reader into them with her. I want to see what Meg is seeing, but I couldn't because I didn't have anything to go on. It kind of yanked me out of the narrative.

Overall, I think the strongest points in this work are the dialogue. I think the plot has promise, and could be intriguing, but there is a lack of charaterization to your three main characters. It is almost too fast paced (from what I can tell from the three chapters that I read). It reads easily enough, and I gather that it is marketed for younger readers.

I hope I could be of some help, and that you take my comments in the spirit they were intended. I like honest reviews, and I hope you do as well, because they're meant to help your work become even better.


Melissa

1