Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Dragonfly: The Beginning
GENRE: Women's Fiction

When Cynthia Marshal was a teenager she devised seventeen ways to kill her mother. Forty years later both of them were still going strong. It wasn't so much that she wanted her mother dead . . . just gone. Red sticky fluid seeped through the bottom edge and dripped onto the kitchen counter. "Damn it." Cynthia smacked the off button of the whirring blender, lifted the leaking glass container from its wet nest, and held it over the sink.

Stupid girl. You're never going to get it right.

She grasped the sopping bottom and twisted it tight.

How many times have I told you . . .

If only she had an off button for that cursed radio in her head where her mother had taken up residence and was broadcasting 24/7. She plunked the slippery container onto the gray tiles, and Minou, her calico cat, jumped up to lap at the generous puddle of strawberry juice and yogurt. Hot tears pushed themselves out. "Damn it. Get a grip, woman! You're fifty-two--fifty-three--years old for heaven's sake." She yanked for a paper towel and pulled the whole roll into the spreading pool of her breakfast drink.

You always were sloppy.

She slapped the tap on full and stuck her hands under the gush. The cold water on her face made her gasp, blocking out her mother's voice, but when she caught her breath . . .

You'll never amount to anything. You--

She slammed the tap off and the cat flattened its ears


  1. I loved the beginning- the 17 ways to kill her mother and then both of them still going strong-hooked.

    You lost me a bit with all red goop dripping out the bottom. I thought it was blood, and I wondered what it was dripping out of.

    The mother's comments were a bit confusing at first. I thought her mother was actually speaking to her, and then got caught up in the formatting.

    I think there was a bit too much blender action. I know it highlights her feelings of inadequacy, but less glop would have been good.

    I love the "Off button for the cursed radio". Most of us have some kind of voice track we'd like to do without. This immediately drew me into sympathy with Cynthia.

    Not sure where it's going at this point, but I loved the beginning.

  2. This has me intrigued...I'm not sure if this woman is having a slight nervous breakdown, going through menopause, or just experiencing an "I've had it" moment, but I'm interested to know more about the mother/daughter relationship.

    The only thing I can see is that you give us a page worth of information, when you could say the same thing with less. I'm not sure that cutting a ton is always the point with women's fiction though, as emotions are so important. Good job, I liked this :)

  3. The opening two sentences hook me.

    Like divawrites, I wondered at first if the red stuff was blood, especially with Cynthia wanting her mother gone.

    Although I feel for Cynthia, I can't help but wonder how she functions with that cursed radio in her head. If it nags her this much over something so trivial, forty years of that nagging would have driven her crazy. Wouldn't she have done something about it by now?

    I don't normally read this genre, but I hope my comments were useful. Good luck!

  4. Nice opening sentences. They grabbed my attention, but then they're followed by dripping red fluid which I also thought was blood. You don't say from the bottom edge of what. Except for that, it was written well and everything was clear to me.

    From the opening, what I get is that this will be about her coming to terms with, or learning how to let go of, her relationship with her mom?

    I don't read women's fiction so I don't know what the MC's are normally like, but she doesn't come across as a strong woman if she falls apart so easily. But then maybe that's what the story's about? Her growth?

    Not sure if any of this helps, but it's not my genre.

  5. I liked this.
    The first two lines were killer-- sorry didn't even mean the pun.

    I got it. We're SUPPOSED to think it's blood--like it was really the mom's blood, we're to wonder if the MC really did kill her, but mom's going strong only in that wretched Norman Bates' mom kind of way-- but then we find out it's just something seeping from the blender. You tricked me.

    Oh, I forgot this is women's fiction... I'd probably read on some more even though this is not really a genre I seek out.

  6. I loved the first two lines but you lost me a little after that. I don't think you can keep a device like this up for very long without annoying the reader. I'd read on but I'd want something to break the harshness soon.

    At first, I thought the MC was literally possessed by the spirit of her judgmental mother, an idea which I found endlessly entertaining. Maybe I'll write that book :).

  7. Love love love the first two lines but I'm afraid this lost me a little after that. The analogy with the blood confused me and I had to re-read that to figure out what was going on. This has a strong start but doesn't quite deliver.

  8. Loved the first two lines. The third line reminded me of Family Guy though. Stewie says almost the exact same thing about Lois. He says "It's not so much that I want Lois dead ... it's that I just don't want her to be alive anymore." Anyway, I thought it was funny and a good opening.

    I think you need to work on the paragraph breaks. Like in the first paragraph, the red sticky part should be the start of a new paragraph. The same goes for when you have dialogue. This made me work harder to figure out what was going on and pulled me out of the story.

  9. I got the whole supposed-to-think-it's-blood thing and it didn't bother me at all. It struck me as kind of odd for the genre, but it didn't bother me. (I will also admit I just don't know much about the genre. It's not what I read.)

    Since I read mostly SFF, I am convinced Cynthia is sharing headspace with her mom.

    The cat is a female (you said calico), so why is she an "it" at the end?

  10. I think the red sticky fluid being in a new para would make it work as a blood metaphor but not be quite as jarring coming after the prior sentences. I loved the opening lines. I am intrigued at where this is going... is she about to commit murder?

  11. The opening is great. It definitely hooks the reader in. Start a new paragraph at "Red sticky..." and that will keep from confusing people.

    The mother's comments are interesting BUT if you overuse it, it's going to get annoying fast.

    Why is she talking to herself, why not just stay that in her own head. In real life most of us talk to ourselves much less than what is written in fiction.

    How does the title fit into the story? Is there are a reason it's not just DRAGONFLY? Having "The Beginning" attached to it makes it sound like a series - and a fantasy or paranormal series at that.

    I'm interested in the character, but I'm not hooked. And I actually think it's because of the mother's voice - seeing that much of it when it was just a spill from the blender makes me think "not for me."