Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #37


The scream shook the thin, wooden walls of the cottage. Luis Green's initial reaction was annoyance. His grandmother had a tendency to melodramatics.

The shriek sounded again. "Rhiannon!" Shrill and engorged with raw panic. "Don't jump!"

Luis ground his teeth. What the hell was she thinking?

He leapt off the bed and raced outside onto the beach.

"Rhiannon!" He yelled.

He tore across the golden sand. To the right of the tiny cottage towered the cliffs.

"Oh no," Luis groaned under his breath. "Not again."

He ran faster and as he ran he did something he'd promised her he would never do. He delved into her head.

"Rhiannon! Where are you?"

"Damn it, Luis!" Her furious and instant reply struck him like a slap. Relief sucked the adrenaline from his legs and he nearly buckled onto the sand. "I told you to keep out of my head!"

"Just tell me where you are!"

"Mind your own damn business." She slammed their telepathic connection closed.

He reached the cliffs and looked up. The crags stretched skyward, dark, jagged, treacherous. Rhiannon liked to climb them. She wasn't supposed to, Rene, their grandmother, had banned her - indefinitely. But when did Rhiannon ever do as she was told?

Luis searched the craggy face. Nothing. He looked back toward the cottage. The hot summer sun glinted off the tin roof of the water tower. Suddenly he knew exactly where his sister was.

"Oh, Rhie," he groaned. "Why, why, why?"


  1. The discovery of the telepathic connection midway through was an interesting revelation. Though I wonder about setting the thought-conversation in the usual quotation marks, which in dialogue nearly always indicate speech. I've seen all caps and/or italics (with no quotations) to denote telepathic speech. But I'm no expert in this genre so if this is an accepted form, keep it :)

  2. The cussing turned me right off. If there's that much in the first few graphs, what's the rest of the book going to be like? This is young adult, right?

  3. The cursing wasn't a big deal to me. But I do think you could do a bit more to introduce the dynamics between the characters a bit more to warrant the extreme emotional reactions everyone is having bc of Rhiannon's disappearance.

  4. There's a lot of emotion. But since we don't know or care about the characters yet, it doesn't really resonate. It is a nice bit of conflict.

    Between the telepathy and the pastoral enviorment I wonder how fantastical this is. I'd read on to find out what Rhiannon is actually doing but I need a bit more to be hooked.

  5. I think the cussing issue is less about the actual words (and personally, I think damn is fine in YA) and more about the modulation-- starting out at this pitch is okay if it's warranted but since we're just meeting the characters, we don't know if it is or not.
    I think the second damn could be cut, for example and the point would be the same just less (potentially) jarring to the reader. Temper it, is all.
    I think the telepathic connection is intriguing and sets up conflict immediately. I would read on!

  6. Okay, I didn't notice the cussing (oops! usually I don't read the other comments first), guess I'm immuned to it.

    I love intrigue of it and would definitely keep reading.

    The dialogue threw me because they weren't actually talking. I think telepathic communication might have to be italized. I'm not sure.

    Good luck!

  7. I didn't have a problem with hell and damn. I think Luis' use of them shows us the type of person he is, and most teens have heard those words before.

    The premise is interesting and drew me in about half way through. The opening didn't do anything for me, and it was the writing that turned me off. 'To melodramatics' rather than 'for melodrama', engorged, grinding his teeth, towered the cliffs. I was ready to give up.

    Once we got to the telepathy things picked up. The story caught my interest. But I did wonder why Rhiannon didn't just keep the telepathy door closed if she didn't want people intruding into her mind.

    Overall, I thought the story worked but could be polished a bit more.

  8. I had a hard time staying with this one. The immediate conflict is good, but it took me too long to figure out whose POV this was, and I still can't figure out whose scream woke Luis.

    This sentence in particular - "She wasn't supposed to, Rene, their grandmother, had banned her - indefinitely." It's too much. Try this, instead:

    "Rhiannon liked to climb them, even though their grandmother Rene had banned her indefinitely." Fewer words, gets the same point across.

    I'm intrigued enough that I want more, if for no other reason than to figure out what is going on. But I'm wavering, because there's too much bouncing back and forth from dialogue to scenery, and it's leaving me very confused.

  9. This was a hard read for me, it wasn't very smooth writing.

    The "jump" and "leapt" were too close of a connection, but were totally unrelated in the story.

    I wasn't sure who was speaking at first.

    I like the fact when he got in her head, she immediately shut him out. So there is history without backstory.

    Also I wonder if this isn't the real story, but just hint of his powers, with the real story to come later. I'd read a few more pages to find out if that was the case and if the writing smoothed out.

  10. In the UK 'damn' wouldn't be seen as swearing/cussing at all. I had to read back to see what people were talking about. personally I'd mix up the cussing a bit rather than sticking to one word.
    I liked your humour, and I liked the set up. I'd definitely read on.

  11. I like the setup, but like some other readers I got a little lost in the writing. It's pretty high tension, and I've found I get drawn in by books that start just before the highest tension. I love the telepathic communication.

  12. Why does her scream shake the cottage, when she's not actually in the cottage? Or ... was it the grandmother screaming? Is SHE in the cottage? So wait, who actually screamed, and where were they when they were screaming?

    Things like that put me off a book instantly.

  13. I got a little confused , was gma screaming or Rhiannon.

    I picked up more interest in the telepathy part.

    Good, someone with a potty mouth like me. Heck dang! (modified by the author to not offend, as if that ever bothered me in the past.)

  14. I'm with Angela - who's talking in the beginning? If Rhiannon doesn't want Luis to find her, then why is she screaming out to him?

    It also seems that he knows she's on the cliffs, so why does he ask where she is?

    I was also a bit jarred when he ran out of the house onto the beach. Obviously, it's a house on the beach, but I would add that in for clarity.

  15. I really like the second half of this--the telepathic connection and the 'why, why, why' hooked me. The beginning was confusing though. I couldn't tell who was shrieking and screaming Rhiannon in the second paragraph. And I didn't know if the 'she' in the next paragraph referred to the gran or Rhiannon. Once he goes outside, I was confused about whether the gran had been outside or yelling at the girl from inside the house. And if the gran is just being melodramatic, why does he seem so concerned about his sister?

  16. First: swearing in YA is fine. I didn't even catch the swearing in this one until I glanced at the comments and reread.

    For me, one of the real problems here is some of narrative voice felt more middle grade. The "wooden walls of the cottage," the melodramatic grandmother, the "golden sand," a sister who likes to climb...these all sound very fairytale-esque and thus younger.

    For YA and for this scene, the description is overused and doesn't flow with the tone of the story. Descriptions of the hot summer sun glinting off the tin roof doesn't match the sense of urgency of where is his sister?

    Also, as for characters, you've got mention of a scream and a melodramatic grandmother and then Luis shouts "Rhiannon!" That leads readers to connect grandmother to Rhiannon. So when I found out Rene was the name of the grandmother I was thrown.

    I'm not hooked here and I probably wouldn't continue reading.