Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Secret Agent #34

GENRE: Paranormal YA

Carly knew something was off about the old man the moment she first spotted him. He peeked out from behind one of the towering flower arrangements dotting the funeral parlor, twitching his head back and forth, like a rat sniffing at a trash pail and hoping not to get caught.

She sized him up. Little bits of white lint covered his wrinkled black suit like thistles. He wasn't exactly well put-together. Maybe he was a priest. She quickly nixed that idea--no collar. Besides, what kind of priest hid behind flowers instead of shaking hands or praying? He was nothing like the other mourners at the funeral, either. He didn't kneel on the padded velvet footstool beside Nonna's casket to pay his respects. And he didn't offer the requisite sad, pitiful smile Carly had grown accustomed to seeing in the last three days.

She kept her eyes pinned on him as she stood behind her father, leaning against the wall, hoping not to be seen by her mother or Aunt Marjorie. Good grief, those two had been sobbing all day. Marj had bits of Kleenex stuck to the end of her nose. No way was Carly getting within a six-foot radius of that pity party. She didn't need to be reminded of the obvious, thank you very much.

Besides, watching the old dude was by far the best entertainment she'd had all day. She needed something to take her mind off the fact that her grandmother was in that wood box.


  1. Totally interested! Loved the image of grieving Marj with bits of Kleenex stuck to the end of her nose. You did well presenting a teen trying to distance herself from a highly emotional time, and her personality comes through to make that believable. While the Kleenex observation is consistent with the character we see with this excerpt, "old dude" doesn't seem as in place; it makes your MC seem disrespectful, which I hadn't sensed from the other parts--but that's easily changed. Good job!

  2. Totally hooked. I agree with The REALLY Real Curious Crow about the "dude"

  3. At first I wasn't that interested by the creepy old man wandering around the funeral parlor. But then, something told me to go back and read it again. Well now I'm hooked and I want to know what's going on!

    I like the voice here and the fact that Carly's is distancing herself not only from the grieving relatives, but also from the emotional trauma of the loss of her grandmother. Nicely done!

  4. Like it. I'm intrigued by the old man, by the setting, and by the tone. I agree that "old dude" seems a little out of place, but otherwise it's solid writing, good descriptions. The last line really clinches it for me, hinting at Carly's vulnerability that she's keeping at bay.

  5. Your protagonist's character definitely comes through loud and clear, and I think she sounds authentic. But I think there's too much exposition. I would cut out all but the first sentence in the second paragraph, maybe moving the last sentence elsewhere, for example.

  6. This didn't work for me. To me, it came off more like she was bored to be there, not that she was trying to take her mind off Granny. Her eyes never fell on the casket, and she
    didn't think of Granny at all, not until that last sentence.

    I also wondered how she saw little pieces of lint on the old dude's clothes. The man is hiding behind 'towering' flower arrangements. I can buy that she'd see bits and pieces of him through the spaces between flowers, maybe catch his movement, but is she really going to see little bits of lint on his suit? She's also standing behind her father, which limits her vision even more.

    That sentence might also be reworked (standing behind her father), as it can be read as her father leaning against the wall, which would make it difficult for her to stand behind him.

  7. you have obviously self-edited very thoroughly here, as your language is clear and descriptive, without going overboard. i was drawn to this story and the little old man!