Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #19

TITLE: The Keeper
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

He watched me the entire time I was moving out of my house. Of course, I had no way of knowing he was there. Or that he existed, for that matter.

No one ever does.

I assumed that the noises I heard were the inconsolable echoes of an emptied house. They could have been anything: a mover making sure a closet was emptied; my uncle double checking that everything was locked up; even my imagination after a sleepless night. After all, I looked and there was nothing there.

Uncle Mike and my brother John were already waiting by the car. I went back inside to find my phone charger. Or so I lied. It would be my last time ever in these rooms; they deserved a proper goodbye. And me? I needed closure for sixteen years of living.

I navigated each room deliberately, running my fingers across the walls and woodwork in a desperate attempt to remember every detail. It was pointless. My home already felt unfamiliar. The rugs and furniture were gone now and the mahogany floors overtook the rooms like an eclipse. Eerie shadows from the light fixtures bounced from wall to wall searching for the family that hung there before the For Sale sign. The rooms even smelled different- woodsy and fresh, like soap and rain-kissed leaves.

Each time I entered a room, it echoed as if someone was following me, stopping just outside the door to wait for me.


  1. Very stalker-like yet I wanted to keep reading. Very nice. :)

  2. This makes me want to read more, so yes, I'm hooked. It is just slightly eerie while at the same time light enough for YA. As the reader, I'm just waiting for that dark knight to appear out of the darkness.

  3. I like the details. And definitely a sense of impending doom. The last sentence is great. You've set it up so we don't know if it is just an echo or some otherworldly thing following her.

    I did want to hear more about the noises you mention in paragraph 3. What do they sound like? When did she hear them?

    But great scene setting. :)

  4. Very intriguing. You set the spooky and ominous tone nicely.

    I think you can eliminate the adverbs "deliberately" and "desperate" in the fifth paragraph (agents hate adverbs!). The sentence reads the same without them.

    Also watch the sentence "My home already felt unfamiliar." This is telling, not showing. Can you rephrase it? And how can a family hang on a wall- I pictured four people hanging on hooks by the backs of their collars. I know you meant to say "pictures of the family."

    The last sentence wrapped it up well and reminded me that someone is watching the MC. Nicely done. I'd like to read more.

  5. This is wonderful!

    It pulled me in and kept me engaged, providing me with enough questions to keep me reading.

    I would definitely read on.

  6. I'm going to break with the rest of the pack and say I'm not hooked. The scene isn't immediately engaging, and I stumbled over the writing in a few places.

    A few examples: The switch to present tense in the second paragraph seemed unnecessary to me.

    "I navigated each room deliberately, running my fingers across the walls and woodwork in a desperate attempt to remember every detail." The words "deliberately" and "desperate" seem at odds in this sentence. One implies slowness, the other franticness.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  7. I have to agree with Krista V. I'm not immediately hooked. There are a few awkward turns of phrase, and several sentences tripped me up, slowing down the pace of the reading. The third and fourth paragraphs especially kept me from feeling hooked. A little bit of cleaning up and clarifying, though, and I think this would be a great beginning.

  8. A little eerie and just this side of slow - but I'm intrigued, and would keep reading.

  9. I'm with the not hooked. I couldn't figure out when she noticed she was being watched, or when she surmised it was something unseen. The first parg could be after the fact with the MC telling us about it, or it could be happening as she moves around the house.

    And when she goes to say goodbye to the house, I had the same problem. Has she realized yet that there's a ghost or something watching her? Perhaps make that clearer. Is the story happening as we read it, or is she telling it after the fact?

    I also didn't get why she needed closure on living 16 years. It seems you don't really mean what it says. It feels like you perhaps mean she needed closure on whatever the events of the past 16 years were?

    The tone and mood were great. It definitely has that eerie something-isn't-quite-right feel to it. Perhaps after introducing the subject of a ghost, you could continue on with it?

  10. I like your descriptions of the now-empty house. You've imbued them with emotion.

    I would have preferred you not give away the "secret" of the mysterious thing that makes noises.

    But otherwise, good job.

  11. I value all these opinions and suggestions. Thank you everyone for the input!

  12. This feels a bit sleepy to me. I'd continue reading, but I would be looking for something to happen soon.

  13. Not much happening here. I think the echoes are important, but it's hard to tell.

  14. I loved this. It pulled me in slow and easy, and left me wondering why she's moving out of her house, why her uncle is there instead of a parent, who's following her and where she's going to live after that. Good job!