Wednesday, October 14, 2009

28 Secret Agent

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

A night without a date or lover was rare for Holly, and when she heard the phone ring, she ran down the hall to answer. Unfortunately it was her mother.

“I signed the lease this afternoon, sweetheart,” Leah said. “You’ll change your mind, I just—”

“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not moving in with you after graduation?” Holly ground her teeth. It was a new habit, something she first noticed a few weeks ago. Last year a neurologist said her mother, not a brain tumor, was the cause of her headaches, and now she prayed jaw pain would be the worst of her physical problems this semester.

“You’re not staying in Boston. I forbid it. You’re moving back to Chicago and that’s final. It’s about time you show a little respect, young lady. Remember who supports you.”

“You forget nurses are employable.”

Prone to mood swings, Leah’s anger turned to tears. “Please don’t tell me you’ve already lined up a job somewhere. Please don’t break my heart.”

“I’m hanging up on the count of three. One—”

“Don’t do this to me.”

“I’m hanging up now, Mother. I have to study. Two—”

“No. Please.”

“Three.” Holly slammed the phone on the hook, slumped into her chair and massaged her jaw. She couldn’t take it any longer. She had hoped becoming a nurse would help cut the cord; the guaranteed job was why she selected this major. It was clear now that escaping Leah required more. A husband, perhaps.


  1. Not quite hooked. Why does her mother want her to move back home so bad? This has potential, but it didn't pull me in quick enough and I was having a hard time sympathizing with the two characters. On the other hand, I adore your title! :)

  2. It reads smoothly, but I find the main charachter's reaction to her mother a little harsh and makes her unsympathetic. I'd read on to see what Holly planned. Best of luck!

  3. I don't really believe a neurologist would blame her mother for her headaches - I mean I know it's a joke, but it doesn't quite come off.
    By the title, I think we're in stereotype Jewish mother territory here, which is a turn-off for me.

  4. Like the others, I feel as if I know where you're going with this - Holly the heroine trying to break away into her own life without mom. But I also agree that it seems harsh. We know nothing about Holly yet except that she has a lot of men (or women, whatever :)) on retainer. So, for me, if you gave me more to love about Holly prior to the phone call OR made the mother 200% more terrible, this would work better.

  5. I have to agree with the previous comments, I have an idea of where you're going with this, but I'm not convinced. Holly seems quite tough and able to cut her mom off easily, so we're not seeing the inner struggle that I think she's supposed to be going through - maybe we need to see her struggle more, fight her weakness to give into her mother, and that would make me forgive the way she slams the phone down.

  6. I didn't connect with these characters as much as I might like. I also felt like it was a huge leap for this student (because she hasn't graduated yet, right?) to conclude that the only way to get her mother off her back would be to get married. I had other worries on my mind in college!

  7. Chalk another one up in the like-the-smooth-writing, hate-the-main-character category. Because my dislike for Holly is so much stronger, I'm going to have to say that I'm not hooked.

  8. This reads like chick lit to me - not what I think of as women's fiction. If it's a book about a husband hunt for a young professional, I would not read on. But perhaps I'm not your target audience. I think many young women would relate to Holly - but if the protag in your story is just 22 - unless it's an epic where she grows up - this is very young and she'd have to be extraordinary to hold the interest of an adult.

  9. I am hooked...The push and pull of the mother/daughter relationship is one that a lot of people can relate to. When people see themselves in books of fiction, they just want to read more -- great job.

  10. Holly's dilemma between her mother and her life is interesting. I want to read more.

  11. I like this - determined, maybe self-centered? young woman trying to break free of over protective and guilt inducing mom ... what's next for Holly?

  12. I liked this. I could relate to Holly and I thought it was funny and interesting. Pulled me right into the story

  13. The MC seems to already have enough strength to end her relationship with Mom, if that's what she really wants. I mean, she hung up on her mom and didn't feel the least bit guilty.

    And the fact that she thought a job or marriage would solve the problem was a turn off for me. It didn't make her appear too intelligent.

    On the other hand, nice writing. But as someone before me said, it's not enough.

    Not hooked.

  14. Unfortunately this didn’t draw me in for a number of reasons. First, the title might be a little too obvious, perhaps giving too much away.

    The first sentence with “without a date or a lover” seems to have nothing to do with the remainder of this scene, which is really about Holly’s ties to her mother. I wonder if the information about her love life or promiscuity should come later.

    Third paragraph: in order for it not to feel like a bunny trail, need to tighten it up. Eliminate the sentence “It was a new habit…” and also the words “Last year.” It will read smoother that way. The last sentence in the paragraph brings in the idea of “physical problems this semester” which raises a question. What is she talking about? I’m not sure if this is a good thing, or if it’s better to leave this until later.

    “Prone to mood swings” is unnecessary telling. Leave it out.

    I lost track of who was talking. Maybe you could have Holly include “Mom” in her line when she says “I’m hanging up on the count of three…”

    I do like the implied story in the very last line: A husband, perhaps. Maybe this is going to be a fun story about trying to find a husband?

    In any case, I’d have to see more to know if I’d be interested.