Wednesday, October 14, 2009

37 Secret Agent

TITLE: Christmas In the Smokies
GENRE: Romance

“Let’s see if I have this right.” Tina Cole leaned back, gave the stump a once over.

“Think so.”

“So, what you’re saying is . . .,” she shook away wood shavings, and dislodged a splinter stuck between the strap and her heel. “With this thing you call an axe, I’m supposed to hit the log and split it in half?”

“Right.” Hank Gordon smiled, folded his arms over a rock-solid chest, then gestured with a thumb for her to pick up the axe. “The log, not the stump.”

Not that she could tell, but she was a guest in his home. So when did hospitality kick in? Tina gritted her teeth. So the axe wouldn’t cut into her long thin skirt, pulled it tight between her legs to form pants. She eye-balled the stump again. Okay. There was no reason to work herself into a stew since the man’s intention was for her to handle the chore. Alone.

How hard could it be to split a log? Hank was intent she carry her own weight and she would. Still, what harm would it be to try to appeal to his sense of macho-man logic once more?

“Shouldn’t you at least cut a log so I can see how it’s done?” Tina scraped her teeth across her lower lip, then grinned in spite of the situation when she thought of her sister. Wouldn’t she be horrified if she knew where her sister was and what she was doing?


  1. I didn't think starting with dialogue worked, since there's no possible way to know who is saying, "Think so."

    Also, some of your reveals are kind of in reverse. I had to think about "a splinter stuck between the strap and her heel," because there are axes with straps on them.

    And you mention that she's a guest in his home, which kind of implies that the scene is happening in the home too ... which is a weird place for a stump.

  2. Not hooked. The concept and characters seem pretty generic.

  3. Not hooked. Confused about who spoke "Think so" but also the story line. Starting out with cutting wood? Without a set-up as to she is and why she's there and who Hank is, you didn't grab me.

  4. I'm confused by the "Think so." comment. Doesn't seem to relate to anything.

    This is a common theme--city girl meets country boy. It can be done well and with freshness, but I don't see that here. Maybe another opening scene...arriving at his house or something instead of chopping wood.

    It has potential. I think lots of people can identify with feeling like an outsider.

  5. I would clarify who says think so.
    I got lost on her thinking of her sister, and then what would one of the sisters think about where the other sister was.
    Maybe using a name in there.

    ...Tina scraped her teeth across her lower lip. Then she grinned. What would her sister (insert name) think ... etc

    Keep up the work.

  6. Well, I'm the odd man out I guess - the dialog doesn't throw me and we figured out who was speaking pretty quick. It does seem like the characters fit some well established molds right off the bat, but I assume that if you twist the story in a new way, the cover copy would tell us that so we'd be expecting the unexpected.

    That would be my concern, that the story does go some unexpected places.

  7. I was confused by "THink so." Also, I have too many questions: she's a guest but is asked to chop wood in a skirt and sandals? Who wears sandals in the winter (when else do you need wood chopped?) I'm not sure if I'd read on. Good luck!

  8. Not hooked. Not pulled into the story.

    Chopping wood not enough to make me keep reading.


  9. Nothing grabbing me so far. Sorry. The "think so" made me wonder if there'd been more there that had been edited out?

  10. I liked the dialogue and light banter. I thought it set the tone of a romantic comedy. I agree that the line "Think so" needed to be anchored. Tina and Hank seem to be polar opposites so seeing how they might come together for a HEA would keep me reading.

  11. "she be horrified if she knew where her sister was and what she was doing?"

    Watch your pronouns. Who is she in this sentence.

    Also, I find it hard to believe anyone doesn't know what an axe is or what it's used for.

  12. Not hooked. I'm okay with dialog from the start--who doesn't like to eavesdrop on the people at the next table?--but Tina and Hank aren't saying anything that pulls me in.

  13. I liked this. I know right away it's a woman out of her element and that Hank might be a love interest. The dialogue flows nicely with the narrative.

  14. Not hooked. Neither the premise nor the writing pulled me in. I didn't think there was anything terribly wrong with it, it just seems kinda bland.

    Maybe if we knew why she was there? This obviously isn't her element. Who is Hank? How does she know him? Why doesn't she leave?

    Give us something that gets us involved in her situation.

  15. I had no problem with the dialogue opening the scene and thought the dialogue itself was cute.

    Is there a missing pronoun in this sentence? "So the axe wouldn’t cut into her long thin skirt, pulled it tight between her legs to form pants."

    I'd probably read a few more pages, but there's not enough right here to suggest a twist on the familiar country boy/city girl story.

  16. I think this scene is a bit too banal to garner much interest. Chopping wood isn’t inherently interesting; and even though I can see the game that Tina’s playing, I don’t feel any sparks between these two and there’s nothing to make this chore feel less like a chore.

    Other readers had trouble with not knowing who spoke “Think so” but I honestly have no idea what that line means right there. It’s a non-sensical response to “Let’s see if I have this right.” Or maybe I’m just dense, but it just doesn’t follow for me.

    It’s confusing that she’s apparently a guest, yet being asked to chop wood.

    The reference to the sister in the last paragraph feels out of left field. I think we need to stay right here in this scene for now.

    But as it is, there’s nothing that feels intriguing about this. The most important thing, if you want a wood-chopping scene to be interesting, is that we need to immediately see the sparks fly along with the wood chips. Good luck!