Wednesday, November 4, 2009

36 Secret Agent

GENRE: Women's Fiction -- Romance

"How does one save a life though the mail?" Cat muttered to herself, "UPS, FedEx or just standard parcel post?"

She contemplated her options for a moment. Finally, she folded the letter into the envelope provided by the hotel, slipped it into a cardboard overnight envelope and addressed the package to her niece. Cat paused by the door as she searched the entry table, a basket and finally the floor for her keycard.

Catherine Harper Sullivan, best known for her tall tales written for children, found herself at a crossroads. Even before she’d been her niece’s guardian she’d been the daughter of her heart. Now she was a grown woman and stirring the pot after so long was risky. Her niece, Lillian Harper, was a beautiful, talented and resilient woman and it was time she believed it. If she would open her heart to what Catherine had to say it might give her the courage she lacked. She had no great wisdom to impart as she neared her 70th year, but what she knew could change Lillie’s life if she was brave enough. Sometimes you have to look to the past to have the future you deserve.

Finally locating her key, Catherine stuffed the envelope under her arm and stalked out the door to find a drop box for her package. "I don't know what you were thinking when you picked me," she muttered toward the heavens.


  1. Hate to be blunt, but this did nothing for me. If she's really saving Lillie's life I at least want some hint of what is endangering her. And if she's not really in mortal danger but just not living up to her potential -- well, then I just don't care enough to keep reading on.

  2. I liked the opening paragraph and the ending paragraph. The second paragraph tells us nothing, other than Cat is careless with her key. The third paragraph does too much telling. It's an info dump. Pull out the one or two sentences that are key and get rid of the rest. You can weave it in later when we actually care about Cat and Lillian.

  3. What Shannyn said exactly. Paragraph beginning with Catherine Harper Sullivan is an info dump. Break it into slivers and ease those slivers in here and there, but not too close to the beginning.

    I liked the first paragraph and last paragraph quite a bit -- fun and funny. Add a tiny bit of the stuff from para 2 to the last and you are on the right track.

    Not hooked yet, but keep working! :)

  4. I laughed at your opening, and I liked the second and last paragraph.
    I agree with with the others about the third-too much info so soon. Find a way to put that somewhere else in the chapter, or the next page.
    Good luck and keep going!

  5. “Now she was a grown woman and stirring the pot after so long was risky. Her niece, Lillian Harper, was a beautiful, talented and resilient woman and it was time she believed it.”

    2 Sentences, 4 (count ‘em) uses of the word ‘was’. A sure sign that something is wrong.

    Also some clumsy writing – ‘best known for her tall tales written for children”. Try “ known to thousands for her imaginative children’s books” or something like that. But do we even need to know it right now?

    Not hooked. Sorry.

  6. Catherine seems like a nice character, but I don't connect with her here. There just isn't enough hook here.

  7. I'm thirding Sharynn's comments. First two and last paragraphs are good, but the third is a big infodump and there's some awkward writing in there. In the sentence, "Even before she'd been her niece's guardian she'd been the daughter of her heart", who does the second 'she'd' refer to? The niece or Cat?

  8. Not hooked.
    I wish there was more to grip in your opening. Instead, I am flooded with Too Much Information. I can’t find action, confrontation, or suspense in your submission.

    The opening line is intriguing but awkward. I suggest fewer adjectives, like ‘beautiful, talented’ niece and more action. The adjectives slow the story. I don’t ‘care’ enough about why a life will be saved or how it will be accomplished.

    Give it another whirl; try again from a different perspective.

  9. The first line is nice and the concept might be too, but that third paragraph needs work. Check out agent Rachelle Gardner's blog post from last week on backstory and you will see what the problem is. Authoress has a link to her blog over on the side. It's called Rants and Ramblings.

  10. The second paragraph is strictly an info dump and this pulls the reader out of the story. I don't think we need to know all this up front. It can be filtered in throughout the first few pages. I also think we need to know what the life-changing package contains.

  11. I loved the saving the life through the mail. After that I didn't care again until the end. I admit that I'm still curious as to how she's going to save Lillie's life.

    Cut out the unnecessary stuff (as others have suggested) and get us into the good stuff. ;-)

  12. I'm with the others on most of this. I like elements of it, the lifesaving mail and the detail of her losing the room key, but I wonder about the genre. This reads more like a mystery to me than romance.

    And more importantly, whose romance is it, the aunt or the niece? Whose story is it?

    I like the line: Sometimes you have to look to the past to have the future you deserve. This might make a good opener too.