Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #32

TITLE: Snow, Blood, and Envy
GENRE: Young Adult Paranormal

Evil eyes stare at me. Ugh. Where does he find these women? I blow on my freshly painted teal nails.His lips keep moving. She keeps staring. I nod, pretending to pay attention. Come on. The last bimbo's introduction took less than two minutes.

Then his mouth forms an unbelievable word.

I rip my earbuds out."Did you say married?"

My father actually grins."Yes, married." He lifts the woman's hand to show me a ridiculously large diamond.

Whoosh. My stomach tightens.The pulse of drums echoes in the silence. Boom, boom, boom--the fast tempo matches the accelerated beat of my heart. With each thump, the diamond grows, expands, and fills the distance between us. I tear my eyes from its bright twinkle and demand, "When?"

"We leave for Fiji in a week."

My jaw drops."How long have you been dating?"

"Almost a month," he says, gazing down at her.

I gawk at her, at them staring at each other.Though younger than my father, she isn't young. Lean with long hair and sharp features she's the perfect match for his tall sophistication. Standing amid the suede furniture, modern art, and bronze sculptures, they look like a magazine ad. The glossy print in my head pictures expensive, unattainable perfection.

I fiddle with the buttons before turning my iPod off. " that's great," I manage to reply even though distress rushes under my skin, through my heart, and threatens to erupt out of my mouth in the form of four letter words.


  1. I like the voice in this, and that would probably keep me reading. I like the scene but there's not really anything happening in it that makes me feel like I need to know what happens next.

    After reading through to the end, the opening sentence seems off to me. I'm guessing the evil eyes belong to the girlfriend, but there's nothing else in the piece that implies she's a bad person, so I'm not sure where the first sentence comes from.

    Also, this sentence: The glossy print in my head pictures expensive, unattainable perfection.

    I think pictures should be "features" because a print can't really picture anything, but it an feature a picture.

  2. I liked this scene, I think I'd keep reading just because I'm curious and I love the voice. In any case, it worked ;)

  3. I like the writing, but I'm going to be overly picky because I love YA paranormal and I like to see some hint of what the paranormal element will be—just a hint, mind you—early on. This opening feels just plain "normal". Not a bad thing, but it just doesn't stand out story-wise so far from a lot of YA I've read.

    Again, though, good voice.

  4. Good voice, though not a fan of present tense. The evil eyes thing confused me, too. I'd keep reading.


  5. I like this beginning. You've captured the expected boredom-turned shock of (who I assume is) the teen-MC.

    Though you have introduced nothing of the paranormal element yet, I would hope to see it before the end of the chapter, which I would definitely read.

  6. Your narrator confuses me. In the first paragraph, she's saying Girlfriend is an evil bimbo. But a few paragraphs in, she basically says Girlfriend is beautiful and perfect for her dad. I was enjoying this piece until I got to the second to last paragraph. Best of luck.

  7. Excellent voice, great flow, and wonderful characterisation. Love the viewpoint character. Like the comparison of the couple to a glossy magazine, really portrays the dad as a top-level consumer and results-driven acquirer of stuff. We immediately know what his priorities are.
    Really hoping that the protag has to go to Fiji with them and this turns into a mythical paranormal tale. This girl really will be on her own with these two.
    Great 250!

  8. I liked this, but found parts of it confusing. Like the evil eye thing that you opened with, for instance, threw me a little.

    Overall, though, great voice and flow so I'd definitely keep reading :D

  9. I really liked this, I love the MC's voice and given the title I'm imagining a Snow White retelling. I definitely want to read on.

    Great job!

  10. I'd read on for the voice. Good job.

  11. I like this and would definately keep reading. I agree that I would like to understand more about the evil eyes and the perfection, but it's well written and a strong start.

  12. I agree, great voice, very accessible and believable. It kept me reading. I would suggest more on the the eyes - what is staring back at her that warrents her reaction? Since it appears dad has had many girlfriends/maybe even wives in the past, you could compare contrast this one with the others just to futher develop and further explain her reaction to the latest. Good luck!

  13. I love the voice, but like some of the others, I'm not a fan of that first sentence. I felt this:

    "Whoosh. My stomach tightens.The pulse of drums echoes in the silence. Boom, boom, boom--the fast tempo matches the accelerated beat of my heart"

    was a bit too much. I love the image of the diamond growing.

    The image of I get of the soon-t0-be step-mom in the beginning is completely different than what I feel toward the end. I think it could work this way if the narrator sees something in her father she hasn't before. Maybe he looks genuinely happy. Maybe she never noticed how unbimbo-like this new woman is.

    I don't really get a sense of urgency from this. As a paranormal, I would expect something strange to happen. The first page is sort of an introduction to your book and the reader should know from it what he/she is getting into. From this, I have no idea it is a paranormal.

    I do love the voice though, and I imagine something paranormally awesome happens next. Even if it's just a mention of something that makes the reader step back and say "Woah, I want to know what's up with that!"

    But overall, I think you did a good job. I think voice can be hard to master and you did a great job with it.

  14. A good start and great voice here, which reeled me in. My only suggestion is to make it clearer that this new woman might be a problem earlier on--she glares at the MC in disapproval or something? But otherwise, great job.

  15. There is so much description of what she is seeing in the room and what is going on with her guts. If you need this scene, I'd rather be in it in a more immediate way, rather than being told about it.

    I also don't love stomach tightening, jaw dropping, distress rushing through skin, and the like. I would rather see the emotion of shock (or horror, or terror, or whatever this is) through dialogue and action. And I think that this stuff is slowing you down.

    In fact I question if you need most/any of this at all. If you are setting up her storming off/running away from home/fighting with him, or whatever, you could recap this in one sentence. "Five minutes ago I was introduced to my new stepmonster. Now I am _______." (Hitching a ride on Highway 23, for example.)

    And I don't get what the problem is - aside from the fact that they haven't been dating for long, the chick sounds like she is age-appropriate and lovely. If the daughter knows something that we don't know... let us in on it!

    I'd keep reading to see when it is going to get paranormal.