Wednesday, September 9, 2009

2 Secret Agent

TITLE: Daisy Parker, Almost the Daughter of Calamity Jane
GENRE: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

I was hiding in the hay loft when I heard her ride up. If I pressed my eye right up against the crack between the planks I could see a figure on horseback. I squinted at her, she was someone familiar.

Mrs. Coffey had long ago stopped calling me. Before breakfast she’d caught her husband trying to pull me to him in the kitchen. As soon as he let go I ran to avoid the slaps sure to come my way and not his. I’d planned how I’d bite and kick anyone who tried to drag me down. I’d been six months with the Coffey’s since my mother’s death. I’d been too stunned at first, but I’d had enough.

The sound of arguing came from over near the house.

And as the woman strode closer I could make out the words. “What do you mean you don’t know where she is! She’s in your care ain’t she? What cause you give her to hide anyway?

“Daisy, can you hear me? It’s Jane!”

Jane, Calamity Jane, an old friend of my mother’s. I didn’t know then how their paths ever crossed. My shy, worked-to-death mother and this heroine of the Old West, known for helping in any calamity or causing one wherever she went.

I came down that rickety ladder so fast I missed the last couple rungs and fell into Jane’s arms.

She set me on my feet. “Daisy, I just heard about your Ma and I came to see if you was all right.”


  1. My first impression is I'd cut the second paragraph. When you said 'Mrs Coffey had long ago' I immediately assumed long ago meant months or years, which then confused me when I read the next part. I get the feeling the stuff about the mother's death and living with the Coffeys, plus the husband's abuse attempt, will come up again a bit further into the story. I think you'd be better off leaving the reader wondering why she is hiding in the loft and concentrating on the action at hand.

  2. I'd have to agree with Bron on this one.

    However, I like your dialog!

    Good Luck!

  3. I first thought she was a boy. I guess it's the way she spoke of the woman on horseback, but it could just be me.

    I liked your dialogue, and the way she fell down the ladder.

  4. There's no connection between the first and second pargs. You may want to add some kind of transition there.

    As the woman strode closer - to what? Mrs. Coffey, the house, the barn?

    Then she slides down the ladder right into Jane's arms. But Jane never entered the barn. And she didn't know where Daisy was, so why would she be in the barn?

    I didn't get a sense of plot. Right now it seems like it will be about her life with Calamity Jane. I'm thinking the abuse thing won't come into play if she leaves the Coffey's, which leaves me wondering what the main problem will be.

    An intersting premise, but it needs something more, IMHO.

  5. I want to like this, but I think this needs just a little nudging and expansion.

  6. I'm not sure about the second paragraph. It breaks up the flow and feels like telling. But I'm definitely curious to see what happens next.

  7. I would defenitely want to read your story (being a history lover myself) but I'm not crazy about the opening so far. I think it has potential, but isn't quite ready.

  8. Historical do still sell in MG, so I would ask to keep reading. Particularly if Calamity Jane is involved.

  9. It flowed badly for me. I was hiding when I heard her (how do we know it's a her?) If I... I could see a figure (that we already know is feminine somehow) on horseback (that lets me know ride up was more appropriate than drive up, ok), I squinted at her (her again, too?), she was someone (do we need that word, we're pretty sure she was someone) familiar.

    I wouldn't read more. To me it feels like a first draft, though I might be interested once the second or third draft was done.

  10. I would read more, but it does need a bit of work to tighten and make the prose flow better. I especially had a difficult time with the paragraph that starts: "Jane, Calamity Jane..."

  11. Seemed a little disconnected - it wasn't immediately clear that Jane had entered the house. The phrasing of "my shy, worked-to-death mother" was also a bit awkward.

    I was surprised by the immediate and obvious reference to abuse in MG, but I haven't read much MG fiction lately and don't know if it's common or not.

  12. Not really hooked. I like the idea of a book with a historical figure like Calamity Jane, but the writing didn't draw me in.

    Also, "Coffey's" in the second paragraph shouldn't have an apostrophe. The apostrophe implies ownership, and you're only referring to multiple Coffeys here.

  13. I'd probably like this because of the time period and Calamity Jane.

    A lecherous man in a MG novel - I didn't care for that, but maybe that's just me.

    I think this may work better if you begin where Jane questions what caused Daisy to hide.

  14. I like this. The second paragraph gave me some trouble and I'd consider revising it (that first sentence pulls me from the build up in the first one), but I do think the info is important here (helps us feel for her right away).

    Maybe arrange it something like this:
    I was hiding in the hay loft when I heard the hoof beats. Before breakfast, Mrs. Coffey'd caught her husband trying to pull me to him in the kitchen. As soon as he let go I ran to avoid hte slaps sure to come my way and not his. I'd been six months with the Coffey's since my mother's death and I'd had enough.
    The sound of arguing came from over near the house.
    If I pressed my eye right against the crack between the planks I could see a figure on horseback.

    Or something like that to still give the info, but weave it in better.

    Definitely hooked on this though.

  15. This was too confusing for me. the info in the second paragraph was hard for me to ingest - had to read several times.

    then there's arguing by the house (which needs closed quotations) and the next dialogue is Jane talking to MC, but no sign that we're away from the argument, so at first I thought Jane's sentence was part of the argument.

    I also assumed that the argument itself might be between someone and the horselady character, as I didn't have a picture of anyone else who would be arguing.

    not hooked, but get this straightened up and I would be. It's a nice premise with plenty of conflict.

  16. This sample was interesting to me.

    I do think it could flow a little better, with a little more sense of the tension in the MC. I'd agree that the 2nd paragraph's information could be revealed interspersed later, focusing the reader on the action at hand. Maybe it could be in the MCs thoughts or be revealed in dialog following this scene.

    I'd read on a couple more pages to see how the story unfolds.

  17. I agree with the other posters that the second paragraph is confusing, plus sex is a definite no for me in MG. YA, no problem, but the age group of MG is just too young for MG to hint at sexual advances.

    I usually like historical fiction, especially Westerns, but this just didn't hook me.

  18. This is good - you could tweak a bit here or there, but it flows well, and in very few words you've given us a good idea of what this determined little girl is like and what she's been through.

    I don't find anything mildly confusing about it, and from the title alone, it's clear this is a girl.

    Small fixes, yeah. Like, you could say "as the woman strode closer, I could make out her words" to make immediately clear who's speaking.

    I'd definitely keep reading.