Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #23

TITLE: The Worst Summer Ever
GENRE: Young Adult

So I needed some bullets for my .22 and there was only one place in Tuckerville to get them--legally, that is. I crossed the road and was to the first of only two gas pumps the station had, when Mrs. Levey came walking out. I felt my body jerk, deciding if I wanted to turn around, but waited too long and she spotted me.

"Hey it's Hal, the bastard child stinking up my store."

Mrs. Levey obviously had a long memory from when my parents first hooked up, but had only started yakking her mouth about it the last few months. Her hair looked as if she'd touched the electric fence on her property and I could see stains on her flowery house coat as she slowly walked toward me.

"You enjoying that ride to Sumter, Mrs. Levey?" I kept walking past her to the door, not waiting to hear her answer. Who knows what she had wrong with her beside the stick up her back side. That better be some pharmacist mom had taken off with for me to be going through this. Since they'd left a few months before, everyone in town now had to drive thirty-two miles to Sumter to pick up their pills. Who knows why people were being all crotchety at me about it, like it was my fault. Whatever. I just wanted bullets.

The Levey's station looked as worn as it was old with its sagging roof and splintered frame.


  1. Loved the conversational tone of this MC! Totally wondering why bullets are needed and how this character is going to maneuver in this town that suddenly hates him (?--her? "Hal" could be short for "Haley", and this voice from a girl would intrigue me even more!) because of the "sins" of the mother

    Should "...stinking up my store..." be changed to "...about to stink up my store..." since Hal isn't in the store yet?

    Hard to get a feel (since it's cut at 250) of if the last sentence will flow as seamlessly as the previous, or if it should/could be incorporated somewhere into the paragraphs above it.

    Wonderful writing! I'd continue reading!

  2. This one caught my attention with the voice and mention of bullets, but I had to read the third paragraph twice to understand that the mom had runnoft with the town pharmacist. The repeated instance of "Who knows" in the same paragraph doesn't feel intentional enough to leave it.

    But I'd definitely keep reading, just to see what Hal's going to do when he gets his bullets. This also has that timeless small Southern town feel that could be modern day or sixty years ago, which I adore.

  3. I agree with Tere, the third paragraph was a little confusing. Making that situation clearer would be nice--especially if this is young adult. Speaking of which, just be careful about toeing that line between the older YA and adult, with all your language and guns and all that.

    Oh, also, "I felt my body jerk" doesn't really work for me--maybe something more like, "I stopped, deciding . . ." or just something a little more immediate and less awkward.

    Anyways, this is an intriguing opening and I'd like to find out more about WHY s/he needs these bullets. I love the atmosphere you've created already and it's easy to place myself into the scene. Good luck!

  4. Great setup without feeling like an info-dump. I'm not sure where the story is going to go, but I'd wager that Mrs. Levey plays a big part of the "Worst Summer Ever."

    I'd echo the above comments by saying be careful of the YA/adult line with content and conversation. At first, it took me back to my younger days and my first .22 rifle. With the whole town against Hal, I'm curious to see where you take this.

    Good luck!

  5. I liked this. I thought you gave us enough info to know what's going on, and you did it in an interesting way so it doesn't feel info-dumpy. I have a taste of what this kid's life may be like, and you've left the mystery of why he wants the bullets - a reason to read on.

    I did wonder who was minding the store, since Mrs. Levey is leaving, but it could really be anyone, so that's not an issue. And while I think Hal is a boy, I'd like to be sure. Maybe make it evident. I'd read more.

  6. I like this narrator, but from a sales perspective, if Hal is in fact male, that makes it a harder sell. You will need to have an incredible hook to make it work, so I hope you do!

    (Well, everyone needs an incredible hook, but it needs to be that much better with a male narrator.)

    I found, "that better be some pharmacist mom had taken off with for me to be going through this" to be quite confusing, like many others. While you are going for a conversational tone, and that can work, you have to remember that not every sentence that works in conversation works on paper.

    Also, I don't like paragraphs to start with, "so."

  7. i agree w/the above--if you start your book with SO, it sounds like you are posting a status on facebook. also (personal preference), just never a fan of using language like b-words for young adult audiences. but the bullet hunt is intrinsically interesting--makes you wonder WHY.