Wednesday, January 14, 2009

11 SECRET AGENT

TITLE: The Biggest Weirdo In The Whole Eighth Grade
GENRE: Middle Grade Urban Fantasy


How to be a Weirdo Tip #16: Write on your clothes–in Sharpie. Original artwork and poetry are best. Trust me, nobody talks to you when you’ve got bad poems on your pants.


I pop the top back on my marker and admire the new black butterfly I drew on my prairie skirt, when this new kid wanders into 1^st period English. He walks right past Haley and her posse, and they just about drop their pots of lip gloss. They twirl their hair and giggle, watching him weave through the desks, looking for a seat. Whispers float across the room.

I guess some girls would say he’s cute. Not me, though. I’m not even paying one bit of attention. Everyone knows "Loser Lily" is off in her own world, right? However, when Mr. Cute-to-some-girls comes closer, I really wish I wasn’t wearing my fake glasses and fuzzy mittens in class again. I sit on my hands, and he slides into the desk next to me. Then he smiles and says hi. Yeah, to me; the girl with a braid coiled on top of her head.

But I look away, because the sooner he knows it’s a bad idea to be friends with me, the better. For both of us. I stare out the window at the cornfield across from the school. The broken stalks poke through the snow like monster’s teeth. I shiver, even though the radiator is groaning and blasting right next to me.

50 comments:

ldpauling said...

The first paragraph hooked me. I loved the character.

But then, I thought she was wearing pants and she ended up wearing a prairie skirt. I got lost in her telling of what happened.

Maybe if you separated the larger paragraphs into more descriptive actions while keeping your character's voice that would work better.

I think it has potential. You seem to have a good grasp on your character.

GillianG said...

I loved this, I thought the voice was great and very YA. I wanted to know more about the MC and about the new boy! Great job!

Sarah Erber said...

Hooked!

I agree with the first two comments.

Wonderful job! Good luck!

alice said...

Hooked despite my antipathy to first person present. You have talent to get past that block!

I like this MC and her way of using everyone's opinion of her to tough it out. Reminds me of Meg in A Wrinkle in Time.

I also liked her lip-gloss snark about the popular clique.

ink wench said...

Love the voice, even though I hate present tense! What a great, quirky character. :-)

It sounds a bit older than MG to me, maybe upper MG? I'm probably not the most qualified to comment on that, though.

I'd definitely keep reading!

Gretchen said...

Great voice and sense of place and time, however have you considered putting in the dialogue with the cute boy sitting next to her instead of telling us about it? Would hook me faster...

Crimogenic said...

The first paragraph is awesome. Hooked.

Karen Duvall said...

Blogger just ate the comment I left, so I'll try to remember what I wrote.

Great character, great voice, hate the present tense, but that's just me. So only for that reason would I not read on, and that's no reflection the story telling, which is very good!

Agree with Gretchen about the dialogue, and the comment about the contradiction of wearing pants and a prairies skirt, unless she's wearing both at once? Need to clarify. Also, why sit on her hands when she could take the mittens off just as easily.

Good luck!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Hooked from the first sentence.

I agree with the others. Sounds late MG.

Can't say anything that everyone else hasn't already said.

Good luck and Great job!

Angela said...

Everyone knows "Loser Lily" is off in her own world, right? However, when Mr. Cute-to-some-girls comes closer, I really wish I wasn’t wearing my fake glasses and fuzzy mittens in class again. I sit on my hands, and he slides into the desk next to me. Then he smiles and says hi. Yeah, to me; the girl with a braid coiled on top of her head.


Hooked!! Voice shines through really well here.

I would place this late MG too.

'lip gloss pots' threw me off a touch. Pots--is that a British term?

John Zeleznik said...

I love the opening and hope that it is a stylistic choice you make throughout the book. I think that you need to break up the structure of the first few paragraphs, but other than that...I'm hooked!

Jarucia said...

Great title and very funny opening lines.

I could actually see myself reading this little gem right on through. Lily seems like quite a character and one that many young readers could identify with.

Nice work.

Ann E. Bryson said...

I love this too! Hooked.

Sally Apokedak said...

Wonderful voice, wonderful character--yes, the girl with the braid coiled on top of her head.

=0)

I loved it.

Melinda said...

I love this. I want to read more.

onetiredmama said...

Thanks everyone! The first part about the weirdo tip #16 and the pants is supposed to be in italics, but that messes with the Lovely Miss authoresses system. (each chapter would have a weirdo tip like that.) I guess it was hard to figure that out.
With her in 8th grade, I figured that was upper MG. Am I right about that?
I appreciate the feedback.

iwonder said...

Love it! Definitely hooked!

Liz said...

Loved the first sentence! I can totally feel myself as a teen girl here. The last paragraph is awesome. A lot of sensory here.

Anonymous said...

I loved it also, and thoroughly enjoyed the first person. When it get's published I hope I realize it, so I can pick it up.

Authoress said...

I find myself caring about this character and wanting to know her more. Guess you could call that "hooked!" Keep pruning.

Bethlene said...

I'm hooked. It's so funny. I would love to read more and find out what happens. Does she stay quirky? Does this new boy become her friend. Great voice.

mermensing said...

I am hooked, hooked, hooked!

The weirdo tip is a fabulous beginning. I laughed out loud: "..nobody talks to you when you've got bad poems on your pants."

"...a braid coiled on top of her head."

What a voice!

What a character!

Tell me more!

bleeb said...

This is so darn cute!

It hooked me even though I also have a hard time staying with a first person read. I will put a book right back down the minute I realize its first person, but this one definitely got me and I was looking for more!

Trish said...

Love it. I'm hooked.

Megs said...

*laughs at the title*

Ok.

You have this: 'you've got bad poems on your pants'

But she's drawing butterflies on her prairie skirt.

There seemed a mismatch here or something.

Anyway - I'm hooked, because MC sounds fun.

beth said...

HOOKED. Hooked, hooked, hooked. This is gold. It makes me want to go back to my own ms. and revise it more.

blodwyn said...

Yes, very much hooked. Excellent job. I would definitely read on. Loved the imagery on the monster's teeth - really sets up the genre.

Michael said...

I love this girl. I think it's her attitude, and that she's not afraid to share it with us. She seems quite natural in what she's telling us.

Hooked. This is my favorite so far.

ElanaJ said...

I really liked this. Totally hooked. BUT, I don't think it's MG...for real? It sounds YA to me. Lip gloss, cute boy...I'd read on to find out though. :)

Suzanne said...

I love the present and your protag, though I'm personally not a fan of present tense. The "how to be a looser" tips are way cool. (but I know severl teens who do that and aren't loosers, lol) I can visulaize her with her skirt, mittens and fake glasses. I can;t wait to read on and find out more about this spunky girl who dances to her own music. Good job.

CharlieBabbitt said...

I really liked this. Great opening with the bad poems on your pants. The fake glasses, fuzzy mittens, and braid on her head are fantastic. I’m intrigued about why it would be bad for both of them to be friends.

My only nitpick: first person present. It bugs me. I would definitely read on, but I think the present tense would get in my way.

Charlie V said...

Interesting way to begin… love the Weird tip. Got a little lost in the second paragraph and had to reread it a couple of times to understand what you meant. But the next paragraphs were great. Nice way to set the stage and introduce the characters. I can visualize the MC and I’d read on to find out why she acts the way she does.

But you contradict yourself a little bit. When you have the MC describe something, you can’t say she isn’t paying attention. She obviously is if she can give you the details…

onetiredmama said...

Thanks again for all the great, helpful comments. Just to clear up a few questions people have raised:

Charlie, when you say I contradict myself by saying she's not paying attention when she clearly is, I'm trying to show the reader that she pretends she doesn't care what's going on, and tells herself that, but so obviously does care.

And as far as the poems on pants vs. butterfly drawing on skirt, I mentioned in the weirdo tip that artwork and poems are best to write on your clothes. In this case, she's wearing a skirt and drawing artwork on it. (there is a reason for the skirt vs. jeans that comes up a bit later.) But it seems to have confused a few folks, so maybe I need to rethink it.

It's interesting to see how something that seems so clear to the author can be confusing to a reader. So thanks for all the thoughtful input. It's great to have so many fresh pairs of eyes looking at it.

Angela said...

HOOKED! Favorite one so far!!

Anette J Kres said...

Hooked me…
Because it’s got voice, charisma and spunk. I like this Loser Lily right off the bat and your tip at the start is great, as is your title. But I wish wish WISH you didn’t write in present tense. Present tense nearly always puts me off a book. It’s only your superb writing that makes me hooked despite the obvious downfall. If you have time, pop by my blog to at least let me know if there’s a reason you decided to take what surely looks like an excellent story and scar it with that foul tense. Please? And really, if you are looking for a critiquing partner, let me know. I’d love to read your story.

onetiredmama said...

I certainly hope SA weighs in on the dislike of first person present tense.

When I started writing the story it just came out that way! I've read some MG and YA in first person present tense that seemed to add the intimacy and energy.

But I didn't realize so many people hate it. Haaaaaate it. Definitely something to think about. Thanks for being so honest about it guys!

FlabberBabble said...

I'll be honest, I do feel like the present tense adds energy and a nice "in the now" sort of feel. It doesn't seem fair to say that one tense is greater than another when it comes to ALL YA. I liked this and would definitely keep on reading to find more about Lily.

Sarah Jensen said...

Hooked.
One of my favs!
good job.

Lori said...

I REALLY liked this. The narrator's voice is fresh and different, and I love that she's embraced the "weirdo-ness". I'd definitely read on!

Sheila said...

I somehow missed this one on my first pass. Really nice stuff here. I love how her actions contradict what she says - she says she doesn't notice him, and then describes him as what others would call cute. She acts like she doesn't care, but she does.

I'd read on, especially to see where the urban fantasy part kicks in. Love that shiver at the end.

Well done.

Secret Agent said...

Potentially nice and I'd like to see where you go with this. The opening 'tips' are a fun/impactful way in - though seems a bit odd to start with #16? Your sentence 'I pop . . . English' doesn't quite work because you've got 2 important things going on and each detracts from the other; you need to give the new kid his own sentence, I think!
Lily is already emerging as a character, however, and the last 2paragraphs are great.

danceluvr said...

This one I'd probably read further, just to see what happens.

I like how the MC describes the popular girls react to the new guy.

Sarah Jensen said...

One more thing, I'm not a huge fan of present tense, but I've read books where it's done so well, I don't notice it at all. I didn't notice it here, so the writing hid it. Not distracted by it at all.
And still one of my favs, and I've read them all.
:)

Zinzen09 said...

Love the writing here! Your voice is strong and quirky--I'm hooked by Lily right away. Also, the cornfield is an excellent way to give us a sense of place. One thing, though, which you might want to check out: At the high school where I work and the middle school my son attends, writing or drawing on your clothes is not a wierdo thing (especially for 6th-9th graders). In fact some of the really preppy, popular kids do it, much to their parents dismay. Could be a local thing, though. Just something to think about. Again, I loved the writing.

inkspatters said...

HOOKED. This is so quirky and wonderful.

Anonymous 64 said...

I think starting off with a tip is a fun way to draw readers in. This is a fantastic first page, and I would read on!

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the SA. It's perfect. I read MG and YA, along with my two teen daughters, constantly. I totally get into this. I adore the Weirdo Tip #16! If this were already out on the shelves we'd scoop it up in a heartbeat. And the first POV adds the mystery of what the guy is thinking! LOVE IT!!!! I would love to see the rest of the wierdo tips. SA she starts with 16 because it applies to her at that moment!!

Merc said...

Hah! I loved it. :D Nice voice, and I liked the excerpt form the book and her outfit. I'd read on for sure.

Good luck,

~Merc

Suzette Saxton said...

The present tense works, and you write it well. I agree with ElanaJ that this reads as YA instead of MG. I am 100% hooked, which is saying a lot, as I'm not usually a fan of this type of setting. I would definitely keep reading.

mjb said...

I'm intriqued between the sense of contemporary (title and opening paragraph) and something more historical with cornfields and braids on top of her head. I like the voice and would read more.