Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Secret Agent Contest #42

GENRE: Contemporary YA

Five months ago I got the flu, right smack in the middle of summer - bikini season, not flu season - and back then, I actually believed that was the worst possible thing that could ever happen to me. I had reached the point where I could smell food without puking, but I was still too weak to sit up straight. Clearly, I was better off on the couch for one more day than
sliding out of my chair while I failed another one of Mr. Cromwell's biology quizzes.

So there I was, lying on the couch, trying to decide if I should play it safe with more toast or risk it all on a frozen pizza, when this woman with spiky, fake-blonde hair and over-inflated lips appeared on my TV. She told me I needed to think about anything that might be missing from my life. She said I should make a list of all the things I desired the universe to send me. I sat up long enough to make my list. It was short because my life wasn't all that bad.


1. A Bigger Bedroom
2. An Awesome Boyfriend


Looking at me now, you might think I got just what I wanted. I have a bedroom that's almost twice as big as the one I had then. And I even ended up with a pretty amazing guy. But I lost everything that mattered up to then. Blondie Big Lips didn't mention that possibility.


  1. She lost it all to get her list? that's a hook. But maybe we shouldn't know that she got what she wanted.

    Was she in summer school? I was surprised that she had a quiz smack in the middle of summer. "Smack in the middle" may be to too cliche to start.

    Who is this blonde woman? Is it an informercial? An otherworldly being who grants wishes like in the film "Big"? Maybe we should hear the woman talking instead of the MC telling us.

    Good start, but needs some work, I think.

  2. I got confused in the first paragraph because she said she got sick in the middle of summer and then mentioned staying home and avoiding a biology quiz. I couldn't tell if that was the present and being sick was the past, or what.

    I like Kendra's voice and your premise sounds interesting. I'm not quite hooked, but I'd definitely read on.

  3. I thought it was really good. A little cliche in young adult is not a bad thing. Its help the readers relate.

  4. I liked this. I'm not even sure why, could be the voice, but I'd read on. I want to know what she's lost and what she'll gain. Good start.

  5. I too like this. And part of me isn't sure why. But it drew me into the scene, which I think is perfectly written for the genre. Good job.

  6. I was confused about the timeline too. I think you could get the point a lot quicker. Make the description of the flu shorter, (you could probably combine those first two paragraphs) I like the last paragraph the best. It makes me want to keep reading. One other thing: I remember Nathan Bransford recently saying that far too many novels start with "If only I had known this I wouldn't have done that." You might want to look that up and see if it applies here. Good luck!

  7. Your last line made me laugh out loud. Very funny.

    I'm just a little disappointed, but not totally, that this started with backstory for the set-up. It works here, at least for me, but I don't know how agents feel about it.

    But the voice is great and I do want to know how she loses everything to get the bedroom and the boyfriend.

  8. I liked this up until the last paragraph, which is too much of a summary for me. It also takes me out of the story - which I thought was in the present - when Kendra suddenly jumps to summarizing things after the fact.

    But I would read on!

  9. I'm torn on this one. I'd like it better if you reworked it so that her watching television was sort of happening in the now. As it's written, it feels like backstory, which is a tough sell at the beginning of any story.

    Good luck!

  10. The timeline confused me, and I didn't like the way you started summing up everything that was going to happen in the last paragraph. Giving away the ending before the story's even begun is not a particularly great thing to do, because I already know everything falls apart so it takes away the joy of discovery when I read on.

    Nice voice, though. And I quite liked the list, but I'd like to see greater motivation for her actually completing it.

    Maybe start somewhere else that isn't as much backstory, and develop a scene?

  11. Was Kendra taking a summer bio class? Is she in an advanced class or retaking one? This question pulled me right out of the story.

    Your last paragraph seems to sum up what the book will uncover, so I'm wondering if you want to reveal that so soon.

    But the voice is good. I can see a teenaged girl here.

  12. I liked this, even though there was some backstory and telling. You did it well enough that it didn't matter. I didn't mind finding out that she got everything on her list - it made me wonder how, and how getting her wish made everything else disappear. The only thing that threw me was the timeline, as others have mentioned. If it's the middle of summer, why is she skipping biology?

  13. This really didn't do anything for me. I think the voice is good, the problem for me is that I don't have enough attachment to the protagonist to care about her list or not.

  14. I wondered why you're telling us the story after the fact? Why not stick her on that sofa and let us see how miserable she is and watch the infomercial with her?

    And why tell us how it all turns out? Now I don't have to read it. It's a 'be careful what you wish for' story.

    You've created a nice voice for your MC, and probably a fun story. Show it as it happens and it'll be a lot more entertaining.

  15. Oh boy. Well, there are a lotta list books out there. I am not sure that this is breaking new ground. But I am definitely interested enough to read a bit more, at least - you got me with the last paragraph.

  16. Totally hooked! I especially love the voice. I like the last paragraph until losing everything that mattered up to then - maybe, "But I lost everything else that mattered." Just a picky thing, I know. (Need a beta-reader?)