Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Agented Author #2


"Oh God please, make them stop!" Jayden thrust her fingertips against her temples as if she could tear the horrid visions out of her skull. But it was futile. Long after the police officer left, the imprint of him invading his daughter's room every night and the sound of her terrified whimpers was irrevocably burned into her memory. Eventually the vividity and hideous repetition would fade. But for the rest of her life, along with her worst visions, this one would flash abruptly behind her eyes like a bad commercial, leaving behind a chill in her soul and a bitter taste in her mouth.

Again came the temptation to end it all, to stride over to the dam that churned the waters of the Spokane River and jump. Oblivious to curious onlookers, Jayden sank to her knees on the cracked sidewalk.

The visions were getting stronger. The officer's hand barely grazed hers when she handed him her I.D. (he didn't think she was old enough for the paper wrapped bottle she carried) and she was pelted with vile images. It had been agony for her to keep a straight face as he questioned her. She wanted to hit him- no. She wanted to tear his balls off and make him suffer a thousandfold for what he did to that innocent child.

But there was nothing that she could do. He was a man of law and authority while she was just a crazy homeless twenty-two year old woman. Once he confirmed her age and finished harassing her, he left, free to rape and molest again; and Jayden Leigh was trapped with terrible visions of suffering that she could do nothing to prevent or free herself from.

"Are you all right, miss?" A gentle hand touched her shoulder.

Jayden looked up into the compassionate blue eyes of an elderly woman. "Yeah." She croaked, licking dry lips. "It's just a...migraine." She fell back on the same excuse for these situations though she was tempted to scream aloud the horrible transgressions she had witnessed.

The woman nodded, brushing a snowy lock from her forehead. "Don't you fret, dearie. I've just the thing for that!" she declared, reaching into her gargantuan red leather purse. Jayden began to protest but the matron cackled, "Ah-ha! Here you are, dear. Keep the bottle. My doctor gives me plenty of pills as it is."

The woman smiled bemusedly at the bottle of Excedrin. If only a little pill would cure her problem.

"And take this too. It looks like you've fallen on hard times."

"Oh no, Ma'am, I couldn't." She tried to return the twenty-dollar bill but the woman had already walked off and was getting into her Buick. Her eyes brimmed with tears at the woman's kindness. She pocketed the pills and money, picked up her bottle of cheap Chardonnay and resumed walking to her car, where she lived. She could always jump into the dam tomorrow. After all, it wouldn't do to waste the wine.


  1. Wow. This is intense. I had to read the first paragraph several times to figure out what was going on.

    Even if the police officer determined the MC was old enough to have alcohol, the open container is still illegal and it would be been seized. Then again, I'm assuming it was open.

    Overall, I found this intriguing. Good job.

  2. This line confused me.... "the imprint of him invading his daughter's" It took a couple of times to realize it was correct, the "him" and "his" were the same person. I'd try to smooth that line out a bit.

    And if Jayden isn't going to do something about the rape, you need to make sure she has something more important to do in the story.

    I'd read a few more pages.

  3. I think you could've amped up the tension in this by having it start with the actual interaction with the creepy cop rather than her memory of it. That way you could've included her visceral reactions and sense of danger as she wonders if she'll be his next victim.

    I agree with the commenter above who said she shouldn't ignore the rape. If you want her to be likable, she at least needs to feel remorse that she can't help the girl, or maybe she phones in an anonymous tip.

    A young, mind-reading homeless woman is a unique mc (at least I haven't seen one before). You can do a lot with this in terms of revealing how she got there and getting the reader to cheer her on as she rises up.

    Good luck!

  4. This is good, but I wonder if it wouldn't read better to start off with if you switched the first two sentences, so that instead of starting with dialog, you started with the action?

  5. Just popping in to say I loved this. Empathy for the MC, she's homeless. Intrigue, she sees the past actions of others when touched. Conflict, she's deemed crazy and therefore unsure or unable of how to use her gift.Suspense, will she or won't she kill herself? Love. Love. Love it.

  6. There are a lot of things I like about this. She's homeless because of her power, totally depressed over it, and sickened by what she sees in society.

    I wasn't quite as drawn in as I'd wanted to be. I liked someone's idea about starting this during her interaction with the police officer, that way we'd get to see her in action, not after the fact.

    I was also uncertain about the police officer. That's pretty harsh! It seemed more like you added that for shock value than anything. I do hope Jayden does something to try to stop him. Is that the plot of the book? It was difficult to tell. If that *isn't* the plot of the book, you may want to consider bringing it in sooner. I couldn't really get an idea of where this was going.

  7. I was disoriented in the first paragraph. Have you considered opening with Jayden debating about jumping over the dam, and why? By the time you establish what horrifies her about the police officer and her feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it, I think this will be very hard to put down.

  8. Very interesting set up! I think tho, this would be so much stronger if you show in order instead of explain after the fact.

    Start briefly with her staring down at the swirling waters and tying it in a metaphor to her life. Then immediately have the cop call out, and approach, showing her fear and desire to get away. This will ramp up tension. Show her trying to keep a personal distance, her avoiding contact with his when he asks to see her package, wishing she'd worn gloves today...all this will have the reader wondering why it's so obvious she's focus on avoiding skin to skin contact. Then he asks for her ID, their hands touch...and boom, she sees the vision, feels the girl's emotions. Then you can show her struggling to keep revulsion off her face and get this over with. To me, this would make a much more powerful 'reveal' of her gift/curse then showing the vision right away as your hook and forcing the reader to try and understand what is happening and where she is. That first para doesn't leave us with any sense of place, so it's confusing. In fact, I'm still abit confused on setting--I think she must be on a bridge not a dam as you say, because dams from what I've seen are pretty much off limits to just stroll across because of terrorism. You need to sign in for a tour, don't you?

    I suppose to she might not be on a bridge at all, but a walking path that takes her within sight of the dam. Again, it isn't super clear.

    The elderly woman seems to appear convieniently and then leave in her car. I don't know--consider having her walking her dog or something instead (if she is actually on a bridge or riverside path in view of the dam)--it feels more logical that she would be there, and as she passes the MC, she'll see the pain she's in and it will more logically flow that she would stop to help.

    Anyway, just my thoughts! Like someone else mentioned, I'd like to see her take note of the co's name and at least indicate she'll make an anonymous phone call to attempt to draw attention to the girl's plight, even though she suspects there's little hope anything will be done. This shows that at least she'll try.

    All the best,

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  9. I really love the premise of this. New type of MC. I think it would be stronger to play this out in a more real life order, vs going to the flashback or telling sort.

    Also in this part, "Long after the police officer left, the imprint of him invading his daughter's room every night and the sound of _her_ terrified whimpers was irrevocably burned into _her_ memory..." can almost make it sound like _her_ is the same person.

  10. I like this and would keep reading, probably buy the book, depending on how it continued.

    Paragraphing would help bring some clarity and drama to your opening. For example:

    "Oh God please, make them stop!"

    Jayden thrust her fingertips against her temples as if she could tear the horrid visions out of her skull. But it was futile.

    Long after the police officer left, the imprint of... bitter taste in her mouth.

    Now, make these first three paragraphs into three hard smacks that get the reader's attention. Use short sentences and sharp, vivid verbs. For example:

    "Oh God please, make them stop!"

    Jayden crushed her fingertips against her temples. "No more visions--please, no more!" [Clarifies the "them" of the opening sentence.]

    She sank to her knees on the cracked sidewalk [quickly orient the reader as where the character is when you open a scene ], the police officer's fading footsteps hammering the vision harder and harder into her brain. She'd tried not to touch him, but his hand had grazed her shoulder, had zapped the horrid knowledge into her soul. His invasion of his daughter's room every night. The child's terrified whimpers. Jayden covered her face, her fingers trembling...

    You've got a good opening hook. Work with it to grab the reader.

  11. I found this very confusing. Why not start with the officer's hand grazing hers when she hands him the ID, and then the visions start? It would make more sense, plus give us a dramatic contrast between the exterior officer (good) and homeless drunk (bad), and the truth of their opposite interiors.

    Interesting premise if you structure it right.