Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Red Velvet Death
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

It occurred to me how stupid I looked brandishing a toilet brush while preparing to leap out at the intruder in my kitchen. The men's boxers and oversized Hello Kitty tee-shirt didn't help my cause much. I made a mental note to buy myself a baseball bat, should I live through the next few minutes. And maybe some grownup pajamas.

I'm not my brightest first thing in the morning.

I craned my neck around the corner and peered into the kitchen.

My newspaper was tented around the intruder. He hummed to himself, and a cup of coffee disappeared behind the paper. The humming paused for a sip, then resumed its tuneless refrain.

I was irritated, but also curious. I suppose I should have been more alarmed, but who breaks into a house with ill intent and stops to make coffee and read the paper? My guest turned the page, and my throat locked in mid-swallow. The chalky, bony fingers holding the edges of the San Francisco Chronicle were familiar.

I ducked my head into the hallway and leaned against the wall for support, gulping air. I knew those hands. I clutched the toilet brush as if it had the power to ward off nightmares. In the flash of a forgotten memory, I saw the hands grabbing at my closet doorframe, reaching to snatch out my eyes. My most terrifying childhood fear came back to me as the truth it was. I was five again, and monsters were real.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm definitely hooked. I love the voice of your novel. Very fresh and funny. A few things stood out to me though, the first being the massive amount of sentences starting with 'I'. The second is just some basic trimming to tighten things up, like the sentence 'I'm not the brightest first thing in the morning'. I'd lose it. It's telly and detracts from the great flow you have going on. The line, 'the newspaper was tented around the intruder', while inspired, took me awhile to get. In fact, only when reading the next lines could I deduce what you meant by that. But great work here and thanks for sharing it :)

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  2. Yup, hooked. Killer first line, and your voice is fantastic. I too would vary my sentence starts AND sentence length some, but the mix of tension and comedy as a tension breaker reads very naturally and is REALLY well done. I LOVE the end of the passage. First and last lines are excellent. Great work!

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  3. Whoa! AWESOME!!! No critique. Just AWESOME! I wanna meet this dude reading the paper, and maybe have dinner with him.

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  4. This was fantastic! Really want to read this book now... ;) I agree with the repeated I's at the beginning of sentences but that's a simple fix. I actually loved the "not the brightest" line--it made me laugh. A little word tightening around the reveal on the guy behind the paper and WOW.

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  5. Yeah, this cracked me up. Nice work. I liked the sense we get of the main character--I love that she has the guts to jump out with a toilet brush. And the title is great.

    I agree with the suggestion to bag the 'I'm not at my brightest first thing in the morning,' and the tented newspaper made me think the intruder was hiding under the paper (I'm not at MY brightest at, uh, noon, I guess).

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  6. First and last sentences were fabulous. I'm trying to figure out why she's going to attack said intruder instead of calling the police, especially considering her weapon, but I'm willing to play along because I'm horribly curious about where this is going. I will echo others to ditch the "I'm not my best" line. It feels...off to me. Like your initial or follow-up paragraphs used to be different, but you liked that line so you kept it anyway.

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  7. Great beginning, and I love the last line. I just hope there is no flashback coming...
    One thing tough, at first I thought that the intruder was wearing the Mrs-Kitty T-shirt. I wasn't clear about the fact that she hadn't yet entered the kitchen. You might want to clarify.

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  8. ew ew! This was super-creepy there at the end. I like it a lot. I was also cracking up at the opening description. Toilet brush... :D

    good luck! :o)

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  9. I liked the humor of this. Especially the part about holding the toilet brush as a weapon. I wanted to know who the intruder was, but not if the story goes into a flashback before revealing the intruder's identity like the last line makes it seem like it will. So I'd probably read ahead and keep reading if it didn't go into a flashback. But if it was a flashback so close to the beginning I might get annoyed. Otherwise I think you did a good job balancing humor with creepy.

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  10. I, too, feel a flashback coming on, and it seems it can't be helped because of the style your using (chatting with the reader). It's also the reason for all the 'I's.'. I'd suggest telling the story instead of chatting because each time you do chat, the story stops. (Nothing happens in parg 1 & 2.) perhaps show it as a scene rather than a monologue as you do in the following paragraphs. You can still get the humor in, and it keeps you in the story, and keeps the story moving.

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  11. middle grade writerMarch 24, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Like the humor, but first sentence and tented one seem pretentious. Also, I'd like to know a bit more about her and who she is. Also, wouldn't she seem some of the creature or is it smaller than a newspaper, and if so, why does she need a weapon?

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  12. I'm totally hooked. This sounds like it would be a fun read.

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  13. This looks interesting. But it suffers again from something I mentioned before. When you've got a stressful, time-sensitive situation, don't stop to describe clothing/appearance. There's an intruder in her house!! She's thinking INTRUDER INTRUDER INTRUDER! Not, hmmm, maybe I'll go shopping later, if I'm still alive. :)

    (I don't intend to be flip here--I just see this all the time. Get to the exciting stuff! Don't worry about what your characters are wearing!)

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  14. I had the same issue Secret Agent had. She seemed to be thinking too much about things other than the fact that she had an intruder in her house. However, I LOVED the toilet brush image. It so reminds me of being a scared teenager home alone one night with a strange man at the door, and all I had was an Breyer Horse. :-p

    Sadie Hart

    I love, love, love your last line here. You had me hooked on the first line, but sold on the last one. I'd love to read more, it's off to a great start. If you speed up the action a notch here, add in a little more tension before that last line and you'd have a killer first page.

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