Wednesday, April 15, 2009

27 Secret Agent

TITLE: Sparks Fly Sometimes: Confessions of a Rock Princess
GENRE: Women's Fiction / Humor


I wanted to be a rock star from the minute I saw Laurie Partridge singing background vocals on "I Think I Love You." No matter how many times my older sister, Steph, told me it would never happen - not in a million years - I always believed my dream would come true.

I tapped my foot against the leg of the chair as I waited for my parents to get home. Ria and Morgan, who were 11 and 8, kept poking their annoying heads in the living room asking what was going on.

"Nothing," I said. "I just need to talk to Mom and Dad alone for a while. Is that too much to ask? If you guys steer clear, maybe I'll take you to the movies this weekend." That worked for about ten minutes until they discovered a new game; sticking their arms in the room, waving, and running away giggling like a couple of lunatics.

I looked out the front window and saw the car driving up the street. My foot-tapping increased to warp speed. “Breathe,” I told myself, “in and out, in and out.” Ria and Morgan were now camped out under the dining room table.

“Hi, Mom, Dad,” I said, as they walked through the door.

“Hi, Jen. Is everything alright?” said Mom. Dad gave me a kiss on the forehead.

“Yeah, fine. Hey, when you guys get a minute, do you think maybe we could talk?”

“Sure, honey,” she said. “Let me just set these groceries down, and we’ll be right in.”

“I’d rather do it in my room where it’s private,” I said, nodding towards Ria and Morgan’s “tent.”

“Fine, honey, we’ll be right there,” she said, glancing at my dad with that “uh-oh, something’s up” look.

39 comments:

Lisa and Laura said...

Ok, I'm hooked. What is she going to tell them? Did she audition for American Idol? Is she leaving for 6months to sing back-up for the Jonas Brothers? I'd read on to find out.

Katie said...

Hmmm... yes - I was glued from paragraph one. GREAT beginning. I am hooked.

Too bad we can only read a tiny portion...

Beth said...

I would definitely be interested to see what happens next!

ldpauling said...

hooked!

Tara said...

I like the voice. It's snappy and direct...but it reads like YA to me, not Women's Fiction.

Sea Hayes said...

I like it, especially the first paragraph, but I agree with Tara, it does read like YA.

Judy said...

Hooked.

Dorothy said...

Great writing and voice of MC. You do the younger kids wonderfully well. That's enough for me to read on, and I think it will be for many girls, too. No crits. Ready to turn the page.

Anonymous said...

Author here. I thought I might get the YA references (which I totally understand) so here's a little background:

This opening scene takes place when Jenny is 19, has just dropped out of college, and is about to take a huge step in her life. (I don't want to give away what that is!) I hope this helps.

Dorothy said...

P.S. After reading other's comments, I agree it sounds like YA. Maybe it's a cross-over.

IQOkie said...

I, too, liked it and would read on. My only crit would be that three of the narrative paragraphs begin with "I".

Indigo said...

Delightful! Would love to read the rest and see where it goes. (Hugs)Indigo

Locksley said...

Hooked.
Jen's voice is just right for a nineteen year old. You do have a cross-over to YA...young women's fiction if you like. Best of luck. Oh, it reminded me of my home, once apon a time.

Pickies...perhaps a little description of the chair type, front window (picture or bay?) might add a little more flavor...but there are only 250 words and so you've more than completed your job.

Scott said...

I like the voice.

Laurie Partridge? Even for women's fiction, that's a bit of a stretch reference. Would a 19 year old really make that reference? A 19 year old would have only seen The Partridge Family in reruns on TVLand - and those reruns did not last for long. Perhaps a more up-to-date female singer might add more impact and draw readers in. Just a thought.

I also got the impression of YA versus WF. The voice was good however, and I did like the first paragraph. I just think the reference to Laurie Partridge is . . . well, outdated and I was watching The Partridge Family when they weren't reruns. SIGH!

Anonymous said...

Scott, So was she (watching The Partridge Family before they were reruns). Like I said, this is the beginning of the book and it is women's fiction. This scene happens in 1980. You do the math...

PCB said...

Not hooked. Here's why: 1) the title. "Confessions of a Rock Princess" sounds YA. Disney has princesses; you might want to go with something else; 2) The intro sounds YA - and coupled with the title, I'd put it down after the first paragraph if I were looking for women's fiction; 3) phrases like "not in a million years," and "increased to warp speed," seem cliche - even for a teenaged narrator; 4) you only get one first sentence...are you sure you want the Partridge family in it? And if your character wants to be a rock star...I think it might be more persuasive if she were inspired by someone singing lead instead of "background vocals." How about Tina Turner? Alright, I'm also a big Tina fan, but basically, Laurie Partridge means nothing to me & I doubt I'm the only one. Also, I'm curious as to where the humor starts, but understand you can't necessarily pack that into the first 250 words. Thanks for sharing this and good luck!

sonja said...

I thought YA as well. I do like how you characterize the kiddies (the games, the tent under the table).

Lucy Woodhull said...

Author, I saw your note that this takes place in 1980, which was my first question (Laurie Partridge.) If you don't just come right out and say it's 1980, maybe a few more references to that glorious time and the confusion wouldn't be there? Reagan on the Tee Vee? Maybe the parents' car could be time-specific? Whatever. If that confusion went away, I'd have had no stumbles. I did like it!

Jean said...

I liked the confession at the beginning. It was strong and pulled me in. Seeing as it was women's fiction, I immediately thought okay, she's older, has her own kids and is lamenting her miss at fame.

Then I thought the kids were hers. But then they were acting like her siblings. Doh!

Then I read the comments and it all makes sense now.

The dialogue slows it down. Why doesn't she just pop out with it, siblings be damned? Maybe tell them she threw a handful of chocolate bars in the backyard to get them out of the way. The details of the parents is real, but it slows it down. You have a stellar beginning and snag the reader. Don't. let. go.

Because you let go of me with the dialogue, I probably wouldn't read on. It could be that I am tired and impatient--so take what I say with a grain of salt. (Or sugar, it tastes sweeter.)

Don't give up and don't let go! You can do it.
:)

Anonymous said...

To IQOkie, Locksley, Scott and Lucy - Thanks SO much for your input! I've changed the second paragraph to read, "Tapping my foot against the leg of the chair, I waited..." and the fourth chapter, "I looked out the big, bay window and saw their new 1980 Dodge Colt driving up the street."

These details help so much. I greatly appreciate everyone's time and input! I'll continue to check back and to make changes as needed.

Diane said...

I agree with Jean that the dialogue slowed it down. I think you could easily tighten that up. I think cluing us into the time period is a good idea too.

Anonymous said...

I'm hooked. Want to know what happens next. Good work!!

Emily Kokie said...

Nice voice and scene set up. I assume that in book format, the reader will know from the blurb that it is adult fiction, and therefore this has to be a flashback. But for subbing, I think you should somehow make it clear this is a flashback. add a first line that gives it the adult looking back feel, or tag it with a date, so it is clearly a flashback.

good luck. :}

Megs said...

Well... :]

I think I've seen similar movies and tv shows to this, but I don't think there are any books out there (that I'm aware of).

Solid writing here.

LoriStrongin said...

I like the set up and the character voice. Definitely on board with the this-feels-YA crowd. I did think the set up of the conversation with the parents went on a bit long, though. Any way the character could maybe just blurt out what she's about to say, rather than her and her parents dancing around it for 94 words?

Angie Ledbetter said...

Really hard to get a grasp with so few words, but if readers are thinking it's YA, that might put off possible agents too. Maybe you could reverse chaps 1 & 2 so you start off in the present, then immediately flash back? Love the writing and voice I sense coming. Rock/write on! :)

Alps said...

I'm torn with this one. I guess I'm wondering why she has to sit there waiting for her parents to come home and why she keeps shooing her sisters away when the parents aren't there yet. It just seemed like a lot of stuff was going on that wasn't necessary. It might be better to start it with "Mom, Dad, I need to talk to you!" when they're coming through the door. The info on the sisters is cute, but...

Anyway, just some thoughts. Good luck!

McKoala said...

I have mixed feelings about this. The sister 'business' seemed like a delay I could have done without, but maybe it will come together fast.

Amy Sue Nathan said...

To put Jen at 19 right away, when you write that Ria and Morgan are 11 and 8, you can change it up a bit to reveal how much younger they are than Jen, revealing everyone's age at the same time.

Just some thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't have a problem with the age stuff at all. The Laurie Partridge reference along with women's fiction told me that we are dealing with the yesterdays of the main character. And I personally liked that we got a feeling for the nerves Jen had before her parents arrived. If it had started without the little preamble, I think we wouldn't have known that she was nervous. I loved the tapping foot and corralling of annoying younger siblings. I did agree that a reference to Jen's age right off would be helpful.

I'm excited to find out what she is going to ask her parents and how it relates to her rock star dreams. I totally related with the nerves that we all had telling our parents something we feared they wouldn't approve of... or was that just me? Wait a minute... I'm in my thirties and still feel that way sometimes!

Great Job! Can't wait to see it in print!

Anonymous said...

Author here again: First of all, thanks so much for all the great comments. I'm humbled and thrilled at the thoughtful ideas.

A couple of folks mentioned a flashback, which this is not. It's the beginning of her journey. She's 19, so there's still that YA flavor to her speech and thinking. She's stepping into adulthood and grows up fast in the first chapter. I agree her age needs to be made clearer straight away, so I'm working on that as well.

Thanks bunches, I mean it!!!

Secret Agent said...

I think it's a little off. I'm not altogether keen on flashbacks to set up a story, or epic journeys (if you're starting with your MC as a teen and sticking with her for years or decades), but aside from that, I think the dialogue also feels awkward to me, or unnatural.

Sorry, not hooked.

Kathleen MacIver said...

I think your main problem is what everyone has said...it's not clear what age she is.

It's not enough to hop in here and explain it to you. You need to figure out how to write this beginning so that no explanation is needed.

Basically, I think the scene isn't anchored well enough. Anchor it, and it'll take off!

jerzegirl said...

I don't think I'd read on... I got the Laurie Partridge thing... and don't have a problem with that... Dialouge seems contrived to me..

Kez said...

I'm sorry but I found it flat and boring. Didn't know who Laurie Partiridge was. No sense of period. No sense of excitement. Dull dialogue. Wouldn't read on.

Melinda said...

Not hooked, sorry. Some of the dialogue felt stilted and unnatural to me, not how real people talk.

And the first paragraph seems too disconnected from the rest. When is your MC thinking this? I can't tell if it's supposed to be years later or around the same time as the scene that follows. If it is later, maybe start with a scene at this time, and then weave the 'waiting for Mom and Dad' scene in later as backstory. And even if you want to keep it like this, I think the 'waiting' scene could be much shorter/tighter. All the details with the siblings, while nice, don't seem that important here.

Anonymous said...

Author here - I want to thank everyone who stopped by and left comments. I've gotten some great ideas to tighten up the first page, and I'm deeply grateful. I wish you all the best of luck with your writing!

Susanne said...

I was confused over the time period, but then I realized (I think?) that this story takes place in the 70s, so I was okay. I thought the dialogue was stilted but I did think the tension was very well developed. I'd read at least a couple of pages to see what she needs to discuss. If this got a lot of editing, it seems like it has potential.

Jenny said...

Why read a book about becoming a rock star when half of the songs, movies and TV shows these days are about it? Unoriginality aside, the voice seems a little week to me. It's jumbled and flat, which makes for some really boring reading.