Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #50

TITLE: The Specter of Avery Hill
GENRE: YA paranormal romance

Even now, as they drove up Avery House's driveway, Ella was afraid to look at her dad. Afraid that if she even blinked or took a breath, he'd change his mind about letting her work there for the summer--that he'd force her to return home.

Dreams were like that. You'd work toward them, sneak up on them, reach out and they'd vanish. Like memories of a voice or of a smell, or a touch. Like a garden fading into weeds. Like ghosts.

Better not to breathe.

The driveway swung around an outcrop of moss-coated boulders and the inn appeared, a blur of gables and towers rising from a pool of cedar hedges, gardens and stone ruins.

Ella pushed up the sleeve of her sweater and touched her arm, letting her fingers trace where invisible hands had left bruises on her skin. She shivered as goosebumps prickled beneath her touch--and her grand`mere's words drifted back to her, a watercolor voice, a whisper she had to focus on to remember: "Each sighting, each touch, it is an invitation, a life from the past begging for you to uncover its story, to bring its petite histoire to light."

Dad pumped the brakes as the SUV thumped off the dirt driveway and up onto cobblestones which circled under the inn's portico. He squeezed the SUV past a van decorated with colorful bicycles, and parked behind a Land Rover.

"Ready, kiddo?" he asked.

Taking a deep breath, Ella rubbed the goosebumps from her arm. "Ready."

15 comments:

  1. Wow. This is great.

    "Like a garden fading into weeds."

    "a watercolor voice"

    You can really paint with words. And, you did so much here to put us in the scene and tempt us with what's going on with Ella. I was only confused because she seems to think she's going on a ghost hunt for the invisible hands that bruised her, but the opening says she'll work there for the summer.

    I love, love your descriptions of the scene, but got stuck on this: "a pool of cedar hedges." Where I'm from, there is cedar scrub (short, spare cedar trees)... but I suppose you could cut them into hedges. But I wouldn't term this as a "pool".

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  2. I liked this. I like that it's about ghosts. I'm also just confused about what her dream is exactly and what working at her father's inn has to do with the ghost hunting. But I suppose it's up to you whether you want to answer those questions now or later. Great job!

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  3. I agree with Courtney all the way. The 'pool of cedar' threw me out of an otherwise lovely description.

    Question: In the second paragraph, is it possible to loose the 'woulds'? When I re-read as: You work toward them...reach out and they vanish. It sounds better to my ear. (but this is not my strongest area). It's a great paragraph either way.

    Beautiful writing. I'm totally hooked!

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  4. I love that this seems like a ghost story, and the ghostly, misty language plays into that. VERY nice. I'd just give it another read-through/clean-up. Make sure the words are meaning what you intend them to mean.

    Best~ :o) <3

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  5. Liked this a lot. I wanted to keep reading to find out what she is "ready" for. Revealed a lot of information in an evocative way. Good job.

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  6. This has me wanting to read more. The ghost angle interests me and spooks me at the same time.

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  7. You have a lovely use of language here overall with some very vivid descriptions. Be wary of your use of the word "that". In the first three sentences, you have it three times. It's a crutch word (I use it too much as well which is why it stands out to me), so make sure you absolutely need it every time it pops up in your work.

    I'm intrigued by the ghost angle, but I'm also a bit confused. Was she at the inn when she was bruised and that's why she wants to work there for the summer?

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  8. I also agree with CourtneyC! What fun! Tell me more! I'm guessing Seleste has it right by assuming Ella received the bruises at Avery Hill and now she wants to ghost hunt. In my opinion, this isn't a point that needs spelled out in the first 250. In fact, it might be more of a hook to leave it dangling. Good luck!

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  9. Love the voice and your descriptions here! I'd read on.

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  10. You write really well. I loved the 'Better not to breathe" line on its own. I would read on.

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  11. Nice descriptions, except I'm not sure teenagers would use the words portico or gables.

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  12. Even now, as they drove up Avery House's driveway, Ella was afraid to look at her dad. Afraid that if she even blinked or took a breath, he'd change his mind about letting her work there for the summer--that he'd force her to return home.

    second sentence is missing a subject; she was afraid?; it's also very long. maybe break into two?

    I'd like to see this Avery House described right here.

    Dreams were like that. You'd work toward them, sneak up on them, reach out and they'd vanish. Like memories of a voice or of a smell, or a touch. Like a garden fading into weeds. Like ghosts.

    not sure what this has to do with the drive; seems very general and confusing.


    Better not to breathe.
    so, she doesn't need to breathe? she's not human and alive?

    not sure the driveway swung anywhere; did her father swing the car around an outcrop....?

    beware of inanimate objects acting.


    The driveway swung around an outcrop of moss-coated boulders and the inn appeared, a blur of gables and towers rising from a pool of cedar hedges, gardens and stone ruins.

    agree that teens might not know what gables are

    why is the inn a blur? is she crying? did her father pick up speed?

    Ella pushed up the sleeve of her sweater and touched her arm, letting her fingers trace where invisible hands had left bruises on her skin.


    if the hands were invisible, how does she know they left bruises?

    She shivered as goosebumps prickled beneath her touch--and her grand`mere's words drifted back to her, a watercolor voice, a whisper she had to focus on to remember: "Each sighting, each touch, it is an invitation, a life from the past begging for you to uncover its story, to bring its petite histoire to light."

    last paragraph is great!

    Dad pumped the brakes as the SUV thumped off the dirt driveway and up onto cobblestones which circled under the inn's portico. He squeezed the SUV past a van decorated with colorful bicycles, and parked behind a Land Rover.

    "Ready, kiddo?" he asked.

    Taking a deep breath, Ella rubbed the goosebumps from her arm. "Ready."

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  13. Hooked! Loved the descriptions. The voice is strong.

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  14. Very nice! I get a feel for your MC and her relationship with Dad. I get a feel for the hotel already and I haven't even been inside it. I know she's going ghost hunting and I'm wondering who the ghost was in its lifetime.

    I loved the added touch of making the grandmother French. It adds to her personality, and I haven't even met her. You've created mood and tone, the writing's great and you have have some really nice word choices here.

    The only thing I saw was this sentence.

    'Like memories of a voice or of a smell, or a touch.'

    I'd cut it because it felt like you gave us too many examples, and the garden gone to weeds and ghosts said it exactly.

    You've done it all, in just 250 words. Very nicely done!

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  15. Strong voice and a good set up. I personally like things with a little French flair, so that was nice. I'd read more. Enough said!

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