Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Quantum Fires: The Sibyl Reborn
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Captured by an astral thug after three-thousand years, a disembodied imp glared at its captor, a bully who pestered the dead to resume their spiritual journey. No one knew the futility of arguing better than the imp. Even so, its nature compelled it to try.

"I don't want to live again. No one ever listens to me, so what's the point?"

The enforcer bore a ghostly resemblance to the Greeks who pillaged Troy. It challenged the imp with an impossible task as it marched the prisoner into an astral forest. The imp tried to stamp a non-existent foot when the bully nudged it toward a tree.

"Absolutely not! I've got a right to be dead. What's the climate have to do with me? Pray to Zeus if you don't like the weather."

Poked by an ethereal spear, the imp yelped and scrambled up a trunk. Now a human but still an imp, her new incarnation produced the old frustrations for twenty-one years until she discovered a secret: Trees of Life respond to thoughts.

Three days after her twenty-second birthday, the imp sat perched on a summit in Central Colorado with her eyes closed and her legs entwined in a lotus. She struggled to envision a crowd of supporters at her first pro-green demonstration, but a whim polluted the spell: She wished she could save the planet in a week or less without skipping her favorite hikes.

Unable to stifle the fantasy, she released the image and hoped for the best.


  1. I love the imp!

    Some suggestions:

    - The first paragraph, imo, isn't very hooky. Too much telling or something. What got me interested was the line "I don't want to live again."

    - There are a quite a few paragraphs with opening sentences formatted like this: Captured or something else, this and that happened. Maybe mix things up?

    - The second to last paragraph confused me. Is it a flashback? I'm not sure.

    Hope that helped. Best o' luck to you!

  2. though i was a bit confused, this oozed voice. so great job.

  3. This confused me. The action is happening too fast for me to understand what's going on. I don't get much sense of setting. There's a lot happening, but I don't understand it in the way it's presented.

    I really wanted to get the enforcer's side of the conversation. Without it, the imp's second comment doesn't make sense.

    The last three paragraphs don't make sense, particularly the part after her 22nd birthday. There seems to be a transition missing. How did the imp go form getting poked with a spear to sitting in a tree?

    I agree the voice is strong, but I'm not hooked.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I'm really not quite sure what's going on. I see the potential for some cool characters, but right now I just don't get it.

    For instance, how does the enforcer bear a resemblance to the Greeks that pillaged Troy? There were thousands of Greeks at Troy, and I don't get how one person could look like every one of them. Also, what's an ethereal spear? It's not really clear from this intro.

    Again, however, I think the characters do have potential. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I'm really confused by this. It feels like little snippets of the past, but as a reader, i don't feel grounded in any of it. To me it almost reads more like a synopsis with some dialogue. Having said that, imps aren't well-represented IMO in UF, so you have the potential for a very interesting hook based on character alone, but this page didn't hook me yet.

  6. Thank you ALL for your comments and encouragement! Beth, I see exactly what you're suggesting regarding sentence variation: great point! Thank you! It's clear this passage might be too confusing as presented to serve its purpose: as a very short prologue that casts the environmental activist who appears on the first page of Chpt 1 as the reborn Cassandra from the Trojan War, an 'imp' who's forced to once again battle her spiritual bane, denial, to avert climatic change.

  7. I'm afraid too much happens in this short space for me to have any real idea what's happening. Now, I admit I don't read much fantasy, but it feels like you're trying to cram a whole lot of world building as well as the entire 20 year lifespan of the imp into 250 words.

    Whooa! Slow down! Let us get to know the imp, and the world more slowly, so we have time to grasp it.

  8. I think I might have been less confused if the task the enforcer gave the imp was given as dialogue.

    But as it is, once she went up the tree, I had no idea what was happening--and I do read a lot of fantasy.

    I suspect you'd be better off to start with chapter one, get the reader to like and feel sympathy for your main character, then work in the past lives.

  9. I also thought there were too many sentences that began with a dependent clause. (For example: Three days after her twenty-second birthday, the imp sat perched on a summit) I had a hard time following the action, but I did get a strong sense of personality here.

  10. I thought the opening could do more for you if the astral thug was allowed to speak. Then you'd have converstaion, and the imp's dialogue would make more sense, because then you'd have responses.

    On the other hand, I wondered why you needed it. Perhaps just start in the present, and let the fact that she's an incarnation of Cassandra come out as a surprise. That's a hook. As is, you're kind of explaining what is going to happen, and it would be stronger if you just let it happen so the reader experiences events as they unfold.

    And finally, if you have to explain it, it isn't working.

  11. What is an astral thug and an astral forest? This is not an area I'm very experienced in, so maybe it's just me. But is the imp disembodied and thus has no body, or is it in the body of a human? I'm afraid am I'm confused and would leave this to other agents who know the world better.

  12. If I need to explain these things, as a writer that's very bad. But since I clearly do, this is it:

    Cassandra appears on the opening page of chapter one as an environmental activist who kicks a "no trespassing" signpost out of frustration because no one attended her protest in the Rockies. Plus, she scrawls graffiti on the sign that accuses the world in general of being in denial. I wrote the prologue to establish her as a franchise heroine, who's actions stem from a spiritual compulsion to battle denial, and to cast her in a sympathetic light.

    And astral thug, astral forest, and disembodied imp?

    The Trojan princess is dead. Her impish spirit has evaded rebirth for 3,200 years (since Clytemnestra cleaved her head with a battle axe). She exists on an astral plane--pure energy and consciousness where thoughts coalesce at the quantum level.

    Caught by a spirit whose sole purpose for being is to force other spirits to continue their spiritual journey (through rebirths), the imp is forced into a ghostly forest--the trees are 'trees of life' that represent possible incarnations--and forced to endure another life.

    Before being forced into the tree, the enforcer challenges the imp to attempt a task that somehow concerns climate and the weather.

    In her twenty-second year, Cassandra discovers creative visualization (trees of life respond to thoughts). Thus, after her protest in chapter one almost leads to tragedy, she turns to metaphysics to battle her bane, leading to catastrophic consequences for herself and her loved ones while offering hope for mankind and Earth.

    I've scrapped the prologue. Thank you for revealing its flaws!