Wednesday, October 14, 2009

12 Secret Agent

TITLE: A Little Salty
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Waking up on my thirtieth birthday next to nothing but my snoring dog was not in my grand plan. Later on, my truck had a flat, and my mother invited me to dinner. That says it all.

Granted, my sister had to go as well, since we share the day by eight minutes, but her life is slightly more charmed than mine. All her little ducks seem to fall in line for her. My ducks just get pissy and argumentative and end up making a mess.

From our parents, I got a gift card to Bath & Body. My sister, Gino, got our grandmother’s opal bracelet to wear at her wedding for something old.

It’s not Gino’s fault, though. She can’t help that she got all the good karma. I got the better a**.

Two days later, my thirty-year-old a** was sprawled over my couch when the phone jolted me out of a coma. I tripped over an afghan, limping from the couch on a half-dead foot, cursing as I answered.

“Are you ready?”

Gino. Sometimes I don’t love her so much. I wedged the phone into the crook of my neck.


“To go. Were you sleeping?”

The pins and needles assaulting me said I was. My bathroom mirror agreed. My curly auburn hair had escaped the clip I normally keep it twisted up in. It flopped out in all directions like unruly corkscrews.

“Must have passed out on the couch,” I said on a yawn. “My hair looks like rodents have been chewing on it.”


  1. I like your voice. Witty.

    You might find a better way to describe her hair. From what I've heard looking in the mirror is trite. Maybe you could compare her hair the same way you do her backside.

    I'd read a few more pages.

  2. A little hooked. I like the flow of the piece and the MC voice.

    But, it would have to go somewhere fast. I'm a lover of women's fiction and I've read this novel a million times. Lucky sister vs. unlucky sister.

    I would read on to see if it offers an unique spin.

  3. Like the MC's voice. She is witty and sarcastic, which, besides brown paper packages tied up with string, are two of my favorite things!
    I don't read chic lit much, so I've probably not read this fortunate/unfortunate sister pair before.
    I'd read on because I like the voice, girl.

  4. I like your voice, but I need her to stop whining about her twin. What are her good qualities? I would read on to see if I like her enough to read a book about her. Best of luck!

  5. Except for thinking "that's a boy's name" every time I see "Gino," I'm hooked. At least for now. I will soon need a sense of the story going somewhere, of a problem that will get worse if it doesn't get solved or some conflict that can't be avoided. But for now--good job!

  6. You didn't offer me anything here.

    She wakes up and goes to mom's for dinner, but you don't spend any time there. You blow through the event.

    Then she wakes up two days later and answers a phone.

    I don't know anything about her, except she's jealous of her sister, she's a twin, and she's 30.

    Perhaps drop her in the middle of a scene where something is happening or a problem is introduced. You need a bigger hook, I think.

    And does she keep her phone in the bathroom? She wakes up and answers the phone, then she's looking at herself in the bathroom mirror.

    Needs a bit more work, I think. Good luck!

  7. Her a** is sprawled over her couch? That's one might big a**. That really bugs me. Her body can be sprawled out, but not just one solid part of like her rump.

  8. You've got great voice and real humor going for you, but I agree with the others to put your MC in a situation.

  9. I don't know if Gino is all that fortunate of the two if she's stuck with that name. It reminds me of an Italian butcher or a deli owner.

    I have to agree with Barbara on all counts, including humor and voice going for you..

  10. The voice hooked me, but I was disappointed to see that nothing much happened on this first page. The voice might keep me reading. How long will depend on the story that emerges.

  11. I think you have to nix the mirror part, it's not a good way to start a book with your MC looking in the mirror to see a mess of hair. It's cliche. And if after several lines we're at "two days later" is that really where the story starts?

    I would like to be more vested in the story - and as of yet I don't have any idea what it's about.

  12. Sorry, not hooked. This particular genre really has to offer something unique and intriguing right away for me. I just didn't see it.

    Good sense of character though!

  13. You have a really nice feel for your MC's voice. She's witty and sarcastic, which is good. However, beware a character who is too whiny. This MC is bordering on bitter, which is not a good quality for someone with whom we're about to spend 400 pages. I like the humor, but you might need a bit more humor to soften the bitter edge.

    As an opening page, I don't think this works for a number of reasons. From the writing here, I think you're perfectly capable of crafting a terrific opening scene, so I recommend you try to do that. The operative word is SCENE.

    A scene takes place in a specific location, and contains action and dialogue. Right now you kind of bop us all over the place. The first four paragraphs are internal monologue, telling us a bunch of backstory (two days ago). Then you go into what is apparently the present. But even in the present, it's taking too long to see that something's happening.

    I think you need to find where the story starts, and put us there.

    Watch your "telling." The last line of the first paragraph is unnecessary. If it says it all, you don't need to tell us it says it all. Make sense?

    Also, watch your sentence construction, as I noted a few awkward uses of words. "next to nothing but my snoring dog" tripped me up and I had to read it three times. "Share the day by eight minutes" doesn't make sense, although I know what you mean.

    Also, be careful of your scene construction and be aware of what your reader is picturing. MC is sprawled on the couch, she answers the phone, and in the next line she sees her hair in the bathroom mirror. You lose your reader with small continuity errors like this.

    You have some really good lines and a good use of humor. I like the good karma vs. the good a**. I love the line about the ducks!

    I'm not hooked, but I'd give you lots of encouragement because you have a nice way with words and I think you can do this!

  14. I liked the voice but the hopping from one day to the other confused me. If you ground the scene in a single place and time, we'd get a better sense of the MC's predicament.

  15. Holy crap, this SA is giving some great critiques. I think the people who entered this one are very lucky to be getting such detailed feedback!

    Anyway, onto my critique.

    I don't think this is the best place to start your story. You have her waking up, then fast forwarding to dinner, then it's two days later and she's sleeping. Most agents don't seem to like stories that start with characters waking, and you've got this happening twice. Where is she going with Gino? Can the story start there?

    As SA said, you've got some great lines so it's probably just a matter of finding the right place for starting the story.

  16. I concur with the SA here (great comments by the way)

    I only want to add that you have some fabulous lines here. The duck reference is especially good. Loved it.

    I would read on - if only for the sarky voice