Wednesday, August 19, 2009

45 Secret Agent

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Sidney looked down at the pleat on his pants and began to pick at a tiny piece of lint. "Is that the final offer?" he asked without looking up. He stretched his legs out in front of him, relaxing his six foot frame before assuming an attentive pose.

Grant hesitated a second before clearing his throat and continuing. "Yes. There weren't any problems." He pushed the portfolio across the desk and then leaned back in the chair. "I'd say that one more meeting should finalize it. Just give me the date you'd like it finished by." He took off his glasses and looked down at the portfolio. "Can I say something? Obtaining the controlling interest in a dance company, a financially stagnant dance company, isn't a smart investment."

Three secretaries came into the office and began to lay out materials for a meeting on the large conference table across the room. Sidney watched as each of the women deposited agendas, portfolios, and water glasses in front of the twelve seats. They finished their task and two of the women walked out. One stood at the door, waiting for Sidney to acknowledge her.

"Yes, Rebecca?" he asked.

"Is there anything else, Mr. Rutherford?" Her smile suggested more than a professional relationship with him.

"Conference call to Tokyo, please."

"It's already been arranged, sir."

"Thank you," he replied, returning her smile. He watched her walk out and close the door. The faint scent of her spicy perfume lingered in the air. It was faint enough that only he could smell it and appreciate the memory of the sweet taste of her blood that it triggered. He looked back at Grant and frowned. "Now, what was your problem? Oh yes, the dance company. This is more than a business venture, Grant." He glanced toward a neat stack of newspaper clippings and reached for one with a picture. The photo was of a young ballerina holding a bottle of champagne in one hand and a pair of toe shoes in the other. He turned it toward Grant "This is why I want the dance company. I want it for her."


  1. Well written with good imagery! I would definitely read on although Mr. Rutherford so far seems a bit of a cad. Good job!

  2. You need to make it clear whose viewpoint we're in ASAP. I had to read most of this before I realized we were in Grant's head.

    "Is that the final offer?" is confusing and a weak way to start a story off. And the person buying makes the offer, not the person selling.

    In a law office, no secretaries would walk into a private professional conversation like this. It would be unprofessional.

    As this stands, I can't see any reason why someone would keep reading. Someone is buying a dance company for some girl, and the lawyer is a vampire, and we should care why?

  3. Actually, I kind of liked the voice here. I knew we were in Sidney's head (right?), though there was a moment where I worried I was looking at this from the wrong person's perspective. It's the line where it says, "One stood at the door, waiting for Sidney to acknowledge her." The only way we know what she's waiting for is if we're in HER head, which we're clearly not. You could clear up all the confusion by saying, "One stood at the door, waiting." And in the next line, where you have "he asked," just say Sidney asked.

    I am a secretary in the financial industry, and I set up for meetings like this all the time. If I knew my boss was okay with it, I'd work around a meeting. It depends on the circumstances of who he was meeting with, and why. In no way would I stop reading here because of that.

    I also think you're allowed a bit of liberty with a paranormal romance. Keeping secretaries in bland skirts with frumpy hair and equal rights just isn't sexy (come on, it's not). I think you're okay with how that's written.

    I dunno, I liked it a good deal. Rutherford sounds sexy. I say, bring on the next page. (But for sure fix the POV issue.)

  4. I thought this seemed long and it is. It's actually 356 words not the 250 allowed.

    Sorry - just think it's important to note for those that followed the rules.

  5. "...began to pick at a tiny piece of lint."

    I would jusy say '"picked" and drop the "began to pick." You can't do a lot of picking with a speck of lint.

    "Grant hesitated a second before clearing his throat and continuing."

    I would just say, "Grant cleared his throat." OR "Grant hesitated." They both convey about the same thing, so there is no need to say it twice.

    Perfume that "lingered in the air" is a cliche. Can you say it another way?

    I agree with the last comment about lawyers and meetings. Once upon a time I worked in a law firm (UGH), and if the clock said it was time for a big meeting with 12 people, I certainly would have walked in, probably with a light tap on the door. I wouldn't change what you wrote.

  6. Am I hooked? Yes. I'm intrigued about the relationship between Sidney and Rebecca. Definitely intrigued by the references to the ballerina and the dance company.

    Didn't notice it was long, but I can understand why you posted over. Otherwise, we wouldn't have known about the little ballerina.

    My advice? Tighten it up.

  7. I liked this, despite the fact that it did take me a bit to figure out the POV. One thing - "conference call to Tokyo" sounds generic and made up to me. When my boss wants a call, it's with a company or a person, not with a city, KWIM? Half the time he doesn't even know what city the other end is in. And reads as a very formal office where the assistants call the execs by Mr. - just my secretarial opinions :)

  8. Hey! I remember this from QT! Okay I'm cheating a bit since I read your query, but unless Rebecca's super-duper important I think I'd cut her out until a few pages in to hook the reader with the ballerina situation more. Other than that...what the other guys said.

  9. A cluess humann not understanding why a vampire wants a dance company full of sweet young things? Smartly ironic. I like it and would definitely read more.

  10. 350 words by my count.

  11. This guy is definitely a vamp and he feeds on his secretaries. Which reminds me a little bit of a manga with the same plot.

    I'm not entirely hooked, but likely because this isn't my thing.

    The writing seems fine. The pov was obviously Sydney's the entire time....

  12. I'm going to come down as 'not hooked' simply on the basis of the 250 word limit. Bless the authoress' heart, but pushing that limit is unfair to her and her rules of engagement and to other entrants.

  13. I wasn't hooked, sorry. Maybe because it opens with a business meeting. I'd prefer something juicier for paranormal romance.

  14. I thought there were significant problems with point of view and overwriting, and skimmed after "call to Tokyo," mostly because I lost interest and partly because I sensed the submission was long. My biggest problem was that I didn't get a good sense of the protagonist's voice/p.o.v.

    There are also too many small details in the first two paragraphs. I'm a big believer in Strunk and White's number one rule: "omit needless words." For example, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, "hesitated" and "clearing his throat" seem to have the same purpose.

  15. So this is long. And pretty boring until the last few sentences. The Secret Agent, I noticed, didn't even make it that far. Maybe you could give us a taste of the paranormal element in the first one or two paragraphs, because otherwise this is just a business meeting.

    Speaking of the paranormal element, it sounds like we've got a vampire here. Unless your vampires are especially different (and unless you effectively communicate that point), I probably wouldn't read much further, anyway.

  16. I obviously missed the overstep on length with this submission; the fault is ultimately mine. The author made a cut-and-paste error and it was not her intention to flout the rules.

    In future, please email me privately if any of you notice an egregious rule breakage going on. I am always open to fixing things and admitting my errors! Honestly; I'm not THAT mean. =P

  17. I agree with the others--it could be tightened significantly.