Wednesday, January 14, 2009


TITLE: Illusions
GENRE: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

The water from the fountain splashed gleefully in its attempt to blind me with refracted sunlight. Despite its efforts, I could see the man clearly. He stood out from amongst the crowd, almost painfully out of place in his dark blue suit. The fountain, the entire city, teemed with tourists. With cameras in their hands and sneakers on their feet the tourists were easy to spot, yet they all blended with one another in the mass. That was exactly why I currently appeared to be a tourist in Rome.

Maybe next time I’m in Rome I can actually do some sightseeing.

My eyes tracked the man’s every movement. I catalogued every sneeze, scratch, and twitch. The man impatiently rubbed together the fingers on his right hand; I imagined the dry rasp of the repetitive motion. A petite woman moved up to the fountain next to him. As she tossed a coin into the water with her left hand, her right brushed against his.

I was actually rather impressed. A blink at the wrong moment and I would have missed the handoff completely. These people were professionals; these people were very good at what they did. Unfortunately for them, we were better.

“Be advised, subject has the package and is heading southeast out of the piazza.” I said and followed the man at a discreet distance.

“Copy that Chameleon. Continue as planned.”

The subject was justifiably cautious, checking for a tail at random intervals. Of course, he didn’t have a prayer to catch me following him. Spotting a tail is about recognizing familiar faces, unusual patterns, and suspicious behavior. All signs I do not leave when I am the tail.


  1. Well, I'm hooked. I love this kind of story. Can't wait to see it on my book store shelf. I'd buy it from the first 250 words.
    Great job.

  2. Hi,
    I would read on.

    Three nits:
    That was exactly why I currently appeared to be a tourist in Rome.

    Then in the very next sentence you mention being in Rome again. I think it's too much. Trim it back a bit.

    That's exactly why I fit in.
    The next time I'm in Rome maybe I'll actually get a chance to sightsee.

    These people were... These people were...
    Sometimes having sentences with the same words work for emphasis but these just distracted me.

    And the very last line:
    It intrigued me and I want to know why she doesn't leave these but (small nit) I AM is a bit too formal sounding. Most people would just use I'm.

    I'd love to know what's going to happen.

  3. Rewrite this without the phrasal repetition - it's all I'm hearing/seeing/thinking about here.

  4. Good mystery on the first page, I'm Hooked!


    Good luck!

  5. This is very intriguing and I would keep reading.

    Just one idea I'd like to throw out. I think it would be great to start off the story with this part:
    "A blink at the wrong moment and I would have missed the handoff completely." Then add the info above it later.

    Awesome job!

  6. I'm sorry, but I'm not agog. A spy story is always interesting (and quite commercial) but you need to get into this opening scene much more rapidly and sparely. I don't like the 'humanizing' of the water in the first sentence, and the Rome references just slow things down. Get in, get out, quickly and with punch - especially with this kind of fiction. The poster 'bleeb' has made a good suggestion. BAM! - go for it!

  7. It's interesting, but I'm not quite sold. It doesn't feel YA to me I guess. I do like the unusual locale, though. It's nice to see something different being utilized.

    Good luck with it!

  8. I agree with almost everything said here. The repetition would be much better if it were left out completely and "Bleeb"'s starting sentence would hold a lot more punch. I also had a problem about this being labelled YA. It doesn't feel YA to me and therefore, I'm put off. Sorry, but I'm not hooked.

  9. I like Ya espionage and this definitely draws me in. Before mention of Chameleon I was already thinking of the series Ally Carter is writing. With that one word the parallel comparison was complete. I'd check that out.

    Otherwise it is a good start.

  10. Not hooked. It needs more. I don't know who "I" is -- male, female, young, old. You didn't build any intrigue around the "package" or the man receiving it, i.e. could it destroy the earth, ruin democracy. control the weather--what's at stake here? And if it's paranormal, give us a taste/hint/clue of that right up front. We should have a sense of your character, his problem, and why we should care.

  11. I don't usually read these types of stories, so I'm not the best one to give feedback. But it occured to me that nothing in the first 250 words lets me know this is YA. Reading this, I would assume the MC was an adult. Anyway to let us know it's a teen?

  12. Wow, I liked this. The first line was a little confusing, but then after that I fell right into the narrative. Instantly I'm wondering how a teenager became a spy.

  13. Okay, completely confused here. I was excited to read this because I enjoy paranormal romance. But this came off as a spy novel. And yes, do check out I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter.

    I would probably read until the end of the chapter to see if it delivered in terms of the promised genre.

    I'm guessing the MC is a female since it is supposed to be a romance.

  14. This reads like a spy book. Cool. It sounds like great fun and I'm hooked. I'd read on to see exactly how it becomes romance and how it's a para. I'm not really fond of the opening sentences though.

  15. I don't usually read spy books, but it seemed interesting. Maybe a little tightening though.

  16. No sorry, I was expecting the water to talk or something, that put me off.

  17. I’m on the fence…
    Because the second half definitely interested me, while the first half only so-so did. The sightseeing line just distracted me. And if he’s trying to be discrete, why is the man wearing a blue suit? Anyway, I’d probably read on, but if I’d only read the first couple paragraphs I wouldn’t have.

  18. Interesting premise, but the language and narration don't match the urgency of the scene. Nor does the MC's voice really resonate with me or stand out as something unique or original just yet.

  19. I'm not hooked.

    It's interesting to start a romance with a spy scene.

    I think I'd like the action to start much sooner. You can probably edit this down to one paragraph, two tops.

    To drive home important points, pick the few, perfect words that will tell us what we need to know.

    "I was actually rather impressed. A blink at the wrong moment...good at what they did." Could be boiled down to: "The handoff. Fast as an eye blink. Impressive."

    YA paranormal romance is THE genre to write at the moment. Good luck!

  20. Great premise! I could tell right away that this was YA.

  21. Not so much. I'll admit part of it is the genre...paranormal and romance don't sit with me.

    It's well written and we jump right into the action, both important, but it wasn't a strong enough hook to get me over the genre.

  22. I liked this. the description was great. But is it a kid being a spy? it seems like an adult. still, I'd read on.

  23. I would read on, even though I don't think I've ever read this particular genre.

    I think others have given you enough advice on what to change, and if you take their suggestions and tighten this up - a lot - then I think it's good. But that's just mho.

    This may not sound like YA, but we have to remember we only have a first page here. It seems like we've gotten away from reading a book to escape into another world and just want instant gratification.

    Sorry, I'll get off my high horse now.

  24. after the reading the fountain splashed gleefully, I was done. Sorry, not hooked.

  25. Well, this is certainly a different start. Is the MC a young person? S/he sounded older to me.

    I'd read further to see where this was going.