Thursday, October 16, 2008

26 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Travelers
GENRE: YA contemporary fantasy

The memories flashing through my mind were not my own. I recognized them, but they were not familiar; like old photographs, they were worn around the edges and the colors muted to sepia tones. It wasn't really me in any of them.

The only thing I knew for sure was the time-travel that had dumped me here had not been my idea.

The place was familiar—the musty smell of rotting hay in my grandfather's barn was one I knew no matter where, or when, I was. Sunlight streamed through the chinks between the rough boards behind me, catching the swirling dust in its rays.

Stepping forward, my breath caught in my throat. I was not alone. I'd known someone else was here, but it wasn't until I saw a man sprawled in one of the stalls that it became real. I edged forward quietly, though he couldn't hear me. It wasn't until I was standing over his prostrate form that I understood why; two small holes pierced his shirt, oozing blood onto the bare earth below him.

My scream rattled through the rafters above me.

My hands hit the ground with my knees; I winced against the sudden pain. Burns on my fingers were starting to blister white and throbbing. I had no idea how I'd gotten them.

No, that wasn't true. I looked back to where I'd been standing and could see the gleam of a muzzle in the dust. I'd been holding the gun, just seconds before.


  1. Oooh, I liked this. The first line had me with memories that weren't his (or hers, I guess). I was a little confused about the breath catching in his throat if he'd known someone was there. Why wouldn't it be real until he saw the person? If he can sense someone, he can sense them. I think the breath catching might come when he sees the bullet wounds, but that's just me.

    But I loved it. The tension was there from the beginning and I'd definitely read more. :)

  2. Wow, so cool. I love this already. Very hooked.

  3. Very nice. Hooked for sure.

    It was labeled as YA contemporary, yet the voice felt like that of a sophisticated adult rather than a modern teen. Perhaps that is the case because of the time-travel component.

    The imagery is beautiful. I especially liked the sun catching the swirling dust in its rays.

  4. I started editing mid-page.

    You repeated the phrase "it wasn't until" very close together. That flipped me right out of the story.

    The opening sounds good, but I'm wondering if it will work for your target audience. The character sounds older and reads like an adult. You can have adults in YA, and maybe the MC is an adult. But this came across a bit formal for what I expect in YA reading.

  5. Intriguing, though a bit Quantum Leap, IMHO. Maybe cut down on some of the physical descriptions though so you can get to the action/tension quicker.

    Also, FYI: "prostrate" means "lying down with your face towards the floor. "supine" means your back is one the floor.

  6. I like the voice, though I'm not feeling YA or modern vibes. Be careful about the repetition of "it wasn't until" in the fourth paragraph. Jarred me out of the narrative. The pace picks up towards the end. I'm not a hundred percent hooked, but I'd keep reading for a few more pages.

  7. Hooked on this one. You can tell from the first page that this author knows how to build suspense, and it reminded me of Quantum Leap, which was one of my favorite shows. My only critical comment is that I didn't like the scream. It seemed a little forced and unwieldy.

  8. I'm intrigued... so it's body-hopping type time travel. Cool!

    Yes, I would definitely read on. It might be a little cliche - nice person hops back into the body of somebody who is awful, and has to live that person's life and so forth... it is cliche, but it's fun every time.

  9. Hooked, but: The sentence "The only thing I knew for sure was the time-travel that dumped me here had not been my idea" is where you turn it into more of an adult novel for me. Some nice imagery and sense of place and nice building tension. The scream is a little over the top. I could see desperate sobs, or seeking the door or "No No Nononono" or what have you, but the scream just seemed a bit much UNLESS she knows who was shot. Also, notice confusion over your character's gender. Some of us are saying "he", I just said "she".

  10. Liked this a lot! Didn't remind me of Quantum Leap, though I guess I can see why some people say that.

    I would definitely, definitely keep reading! :-)

  11. I'm hooked by the situation--the incriminating evidence around the narrator of something she (he?) has (or hasn't?) done is amazing.

    A few of your details are great: the musty smell . . .rays of sunlight catching swirling dust.

    A few were a bit more confusing. I didn't quite get the recognizing, but not familiar. And I'm not sure why the narrator's catching her (his?) breath in what seems like surprise when s/he knew the man was there.

    I love the way the blisters appear and then s/he looks back and sees the gun, though.

    I definitely want to know more

  12. Yes--it feels a bit jerky and could use a bit of smoothing out but overall I'm intrigued by the time travel and her holding the gun in the end. Sounds like a lot of fun!

    Good luck,