Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #27

TITLE: Nadia's Treasure
GENRE: YA Historical Fiction

It seemed as though she had only just landed into the feather tick, when her mind became cloudy. The air in her room was too hot to be comfortable, but not so much as to make her move off the bed to open the window. Thoughts swirled through her mind like autumn leaves in a whirlwind, all around the mystery of the note. Papa had written it, no doubts there, but the meaning behind his words was what bothered her.

"Be careful. Watch Nadia."

Those two phrases would not leave her alone. Careful of what? And why did she need any extra watching? Nacogdoches was not what anyone would consider a dangerous territory. It was hardly a settlement, and Texas wasn't at war anymore--at least, not the last she'd heard. Watching was for nursery children and mischievous boys, not an almost sixteen-year-old girl who could take care of herself. Did he think she might get lost in the trees, or run off and get married behind his back? The local boys were not that impressive.

The other words on the note reference to a captain, and a place that she had never heard of (Campeche, or some such) made no sense. She'd read it at least a dozen times and nowhere did the note explain why he had left. Her governess might know, but old Mrs. Greens queer behavior was a mite dodgier than usual. Truth out of her would be too much to ask at this point.


  1. The writing is fine, but there's nothing that really draws me in. The opening action - landing on a feather tick, thinking about a note - is just ho-hum.

    Not hooked.

  2. Since my sister-in-law and her family live in Nacogdoches, I couldn't not comment on this one. ;)

    So, I see the potential for a hook here, but it needs to be polished before it really shines. The first paragraph is descriptive without really moving, up until the mention of the note. Maybe you could start with that.

    The second paragraph does some good work establishing the historical setting, but I was kind of confused about who was supposed to be doing the watching until I got to the final paragraph. It would clarify things to mention straight off that the note was written for the governess.

    Finally, phrases like "mite dodgier" are fine for setting up a historically appropriate voice, but it needs to be consistent. Most of this excerpt had a fairly modern voice to my ears, up until the end.

  3. The first paragraph talks about the weather and that really isn't a detail that draws me into a story--unless it's the perfect storm.

    The note has the potential to be intriguing, but we only see that it says : "Be careful. Watch Nadia." Then two paragraphs later other words in the note are referenced, which is confusing.

    I think this has the potential to be interesting, but maybe this isn't the best starting point for the story.

    Thanks for sharing. Best of luck!

  4. Not hooked, sorry. It read like a page from the middle of a book and not the start of a novel. You lost me on the second paragraph, There was nothing here to keep my interest.

  5. I think you may have packed too much in here - Papa, Nadia, Nacogdoches, war or not-war, captain, Campeche, Mrs. Green and her odd behavior - without giving us much to care about (because you haven't let us know the main character). And a bit odd that you explain what is in the note, instead of just quoting the whole thing.

    And, okay, we're confused. Where is Papa? Why does she have a governess?

  6. Sorry, I'm not hooked. I think your premise is really interesting, and I probably would read on just because of that, but this first page just didn't grab me.

    I agree with other commentators that you should start with some more action.

    Good luck! And definitely keep working on it--I think you have a promising story.

  7. I am not sure that I am interested. I would give it some more time, but this is not quite compelling to me.

  8. I've been keeping my eye out for more historical fiction lately, so I do like this entry. I am confused by why someone of obvious money would leave with only a note. I'd read on, but a teenager might not. Make it "a mite" more compelling and you'll have us.