Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #11

TITLE: Blemish
GENRE: YA Historical

Manila, Philippines, 1909

Lucito opened the mansion door to a gaunt stranger in police garb. Behind him, other policemen stood in a v, their backs to the evening street lamps and their faces in shadow.

"Is this the Garcia residence?" the man asked.

"It is," Lucito said. "How may I help you, Officer?"

"Inspector Sulpicio Paredes." He handed Lucito a card. "Here to see Maria Estrella Garcia."

It said "Policia de Sanitario" – the dreaded Health Police. The Garcias' head-servant re-read it to make sure, then stole a look at the policemen. One held a pair of handcuffs. The others carried rifles. Lucito composed himself, then said, "I'm afraid she is unavailable."

"Already in bed, at this hour?"

"Oh, no, Officer! She is hosting a ball here. For her seventeenth birthday."

"No wonder this blasted street is congested," the inspector muttered.

"Perhaps," Lucito suggested, "you'd like to speak with her father, Don Jaime, first?"

"Her seventeeth birthday, is it?" When Lucito nodded, the inspector said, "Very well."

"If you will please wait here." Lucito began to close the door, but the inspector jammed the butt of his rifle in the opening.

"My men will wait outside," he said. "I will wait inside."

In the mansion's ballroom, Maria Estrella Garcia -Maristella to her intimates - smiled to herself. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Pancho Villanueva watching her across the dance floor. She had successfully eluded him for the last hour. It served him right for being late.


  1. I liked this very much! Great set up--the Heath Police? what do they want with her? I'm fascinated. Great images right from the get go. I can see the officers back lit by the lamps. Just enough, not too much. Nice!

    The only thing that irked me was your insert--Maristella to her intimates. Not sure why. Just fell jarring? You can include that in conversation without explaining it, I think, easily. It takes away from the flow...

  2. Hmm interesting opening. I like the setting and time period, not something you see a lot of, and I'm intrigued. My main issue though is if its Maristella's story, we don't want to wait a page to be introduced to her. Your story should open with her.

  3. Very interesting - I'm half way hooked. I'm always fascinated by strange settings, but I didn't get much about the place. Shouldn't there be familiar smells or sounds that are disrupted by the arrival of the police? Insert more sensory details and this will be gold.

  4. Fascinating setting. The Health police thing sounds more like a futuristic dystopia, but there it is in 1909: I want to know more.

    Excellent opening paragraph. Lean, vivid prose. Jumps right into the story.

    I'm hooked.

  5. I liked the dialogue, very interesting. My only suggestion would be the adjective you used to describe the policeman: "gaunt" has a weak connotation. Judging by the lead policeman's actions, however, he is quite aggressive. Thus, I think that one adjective undermined his character. Other than that one minor thing, however, I really liked it.

  6. Hmm... OK! I like where this is going. I wish I had more words. I agree that the clarification of her name to her intimates breaks the flow. You could lose that. Otherwise, great opening, great start! Best~ :o) <3

  7. I love exotic settings and you did a great job of raising questions in my mind about what is going to happen. So for that, I'm hooked!

  8. You caught my attention right away with the foreign setting, and the writing is strong, too. I agree with Kalen in that if it's Marisella's story, perhaps start with her, otherwise, I'm wondering who your MC is. Lucito? The policeman?

    I also agree with Cat about including sensory details. You're giving us an exotic location. Make it feel exotic.

    ANd then, with the name Maristella, and the ball, I wondered if it might turn out to be a Cinderella story?

    I'd read more.

  9. Very intriguing, the writing is strong, I'd definitely like to see more of this. However, I do wonder who your MC is, and if it's not Lucito, I'd suggest you begin with whoever it is. Totally hooked, though. Good job!

  10. Start with Maristrella, watching the seen, hidden from view. If this is YA, the YA characters should be front and center from the get go. I agree, the mystery of the health police is very compelling!

  11. Watching the seen???