Wednesday, October 14, 2009

8 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Miser Who Bought The Farm
GENRE: Mystery

I’m embarrassed to admit my most vivid memory of that night was of ten minutes in the library with Nick Ransom. In my defense, three of those minutes were damn good minutes and I had no idea the murder of a colleague was only a few hours away.

I was taking refuge from the well-dressed and well-heeled at a party for the Ballantyne Foundation when Ransom eased into the library. I recognized his smooth skin and edgy features. He looked like Batman. Christian Bale Batman, not the other one in the gray leotard and blue underpants.

“Ellie Lisbon,” he said and kissed my cheek. “I’d heard you were Director of the Ballantyne.”

“Well, Nick Ransom,” I said. “How disappointing. I thought you were dead.”

He leaned back on his heels and smiled. “No, not dead yet. Though a sniper in Rio came close.”

I smiled back, but my stomach sizzled and popped as old memories flipped my life like a pancake. I was unprepared and nearly speechless.

Nick Ransom, my college major. I loved him for one whole semester. We rounded three bases over five dates and would’ve slid home on the sixth had he not left me waiting in the rain a week before Christmas. He left a seven word message on my answering machine two days later: “Not our time, Red. You take care.” I never saw him again.

Until now.


  1. I like your voice. I can see why a few minutes in the library with Nick would overshadow everything else.

    Intriguing that she thought he was dead and I want to read on to find out the rest of the story.

    Good luck!

  2. I like this quite a lot. I'm not crazy about the stomach sizzling and popping sentence, though. It's not a sensation that maps to anything a body feels, in my experience, and flipping a life like a pancake just sounds awkward.

    Other than that, it moves, it mentions the mystery, it sets up the characters nicely.

  3. Like it, all except for the stomach sizzing bit.

  4. Hooked. The first paragraph tells me what is to come. I also like the voice and tension between Nick and Ellie.

    Not fond of the "we rounded three bases..." sentence. I would probably clean it up.

    Instead of telling us Ellie was unprepared and speechless, how about showing it? Maybe she played with her fingers, ran her hands through her hair, or left her mouth opened?

    Overall, I would read on.

    Good job!

  5. Overall, this is well-written with good voice.

    I didn't warm up to the "but my stomach sizzled and popped as old memories flipped my life like a pancake" part though.

    And I'm confused about the timeline. From the wording, the library scene is in the past. Then you tell us how she knew him years before and that he stood her up a week before Christmas. You say, "I never saw him again. Until now." but that doesn't seem to be true since she saw him in the library and that isn't "now."

    But as I said, this is good writing.

  6. Like the voice of the MC.

    I was a little confused on the tenses. Felt like she was recalling the past, but then there were events even further in the past.

    I'm definitely hooked on the Christian Bale Batman! Can picture Nick instantly. Yummy!

    Maybe go with different adjectives on how seeing him made her feel.
    I like flipped like a pancake.
    Maybe show how she was unprepared and nearly speechless instead.

    I'd keep reading.

  7. I'd keep reading. I like the voice of the main character and the intrigue between her and Ransom is tantilizing.

  8. Recognizing his smooth skin and edgy features doesn't say a lot. Don't most people have smooth skin? Maybe something more specific here?

    I agree with Linda, in that you've taken us through three different time periods. You could remedy it by cutting the first parg, but then you'd have to get the murder in somewhere else, or save the last flashback for later.

    But the writing is good and you introduced two interesting characters who I'm assuming will have to work together to solve this mystery and who will end up falling in love during the process. I'd read more.

  9. I'd read on. Your voice is good and the dialogue is very good. I won't repeat what the above have said about the confusing timeline, but I really like this. Best of luck!

  10. I agree with the others about the timeline shift and the odd stomach thing, but other than that, I'm hooked!

    Love the sarcastic wit, I love anything that can both intrigue me and make me laugh. I enjoyed your opening lines, very witty and clever and set the tone. Love the batman comment about not being the one in the blue leotard. LOL.

    You have a great voice and I want to read more.

  11. My only quibble is that if she really thought he was dead, her reaction to his appearing in the library would be stronger. Less clever word picture, more WHA—?

    Otherwise, hooked. Would read on.

  12. Hooked. I like your voice and the characters. The 3 timelines in one page is a bit much, but it didn't confuse me.

  13. My favorite line was "How disappointing. I thought you were dead." Great dialog, pacing, and word choices.
    It reads smoothly without trying, which is a plus.
    I agree that I'd notice more than smooth skin, like maybe his profile or other physical feature, eyes maybe?
    Overall, this is the strongest and most readable of the entries I've read this month.

  14. The time shift did give me pause, but I'm definitely hooked! More, plz!

  15. Hooked. I had no problem with the timeline shifts; I thought you handled them well.

    I liked the sizzling and popping stomach and the life flipping like a pancake, but I wonder at using both metaphors in one sentence.

    I did wonder at the "Nick Ransom, my college major." Wasn't sure if I understood that right. Is she saying that she "majored" in Nick, meaning she concentrated solely on him? I can buy that, but for only a semester? If she's just teasingly calling him her "college major", I'd expect that to last for nearly the duration of college.

    Great voice and, as I said, I'm hooked.

  16. I like this a lot, and I'm definitely hooked. The line "Nick Raonsom, my college major." made me chuckle. Excellent timeline hopping! I don't really care about the murder of the colleague, though...

  17. Absolutely hooked, I really liked the promise of humour regardless of how dark this story might go.
    My only quibble is the ... rounded three bases... the way it's worded, sounds like they only had 5 dates and that things fell apart before their 6th. If Nick was her college major, if they dated an entire semester, how come so few dates?

  18. I'm intrigued. I like your voice and humor.

  19. I felt that this read very smoothly and was a good lead in to what I'm sure is a fantastic remainder of a story.

    Only one conflict with your main character: her cool confidence when a supposed dead college flame walks in and when she says she's 'unprepared and nearly speechless.'

    I'd stick with the cool confidence. It lends a nice spy quality to her character and lets us know she's not to be messed with.

    I'd definitely read on!

  20. This is definitely good enough to hook me to read more. As others have noted, the voice is strong and compelling. I like this narrator, and I also like this Ransom dude. Sounds hot!

    I'm usually not crazy about opening lines that have the "all I remember..." thing, because it can be a bit cliche. BUT I like yours, mostly because the second sentence is really great. Makes you wonder about those three minutes, plus gives us the information that there was a murder.

    Right away Ransom seems slick and very smooth, the way he speaks, the way he kisses her cheek. I can really see this guy.

    The dialogue fits perfectly as well. Her line "How disappointing" is appropriately cool and flirty.

    I didn't mind "sizzled and popped" as some of the others did; I thought it was a nice vibrant description. But I'd lose the next line, "unprepared..." etc. You don't need to tell us something that's so easy to show.

    You can deal with the problem of the time periods by changing "Until now" to something like, "Until that night." Then you're still talking about that one night, as you have been from the beginning.

    Great opening, I'd keep reading!

  21. One more thing - I really don't like the title at all. Seeing that first makes me think I'm not going to like this book.

  22. I'd read on.

    I loved her voice and especially the last paragraph.

  23. I know I'm late, but I wanted to say that I like your writing and the idea.

    My only problem with it is how it moves backwards, though. We start in some sort of present that is after the murder. Then we back up to when Nick walked in and we play in forward a little bit...and then we back up again to the semester she'd loved him and he'd left her.

    The first one didn't slow me down too much...mostly because we only had one sentence in the "future" (murder a few hours away), and you prepared us for hearing a little about those minutes from the first sentence. The second, however, really slowed me down. I think it would make a better start if you slipped in a much more subtle hint of her loving him and being dumped up where he eased into the library. If that was the first time she'd seen him since he dumped her, then that is a VERY natural place for her mind to flash back. Something like:

    "Ransom eased into the library. He had the same smooth skin and edgy features he had when I'd loved him in college, and he looked just as much like Batman as he had when he'd left me waiting in the rain."

    As it is right now, your "Until now" is a nice cliffhanger for this contest, but it doesn't lead on. Where does your next paragraph go? Does it jump back to their conversation? Does it jump forward to the murder?

    I don't know of course. Maybe you needed some sort of a cliffhanger ending right here, and this works great for that.

    Good luck!