Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #34

TITLE: One of Darker Blood
GENRE: YA Fantasy

The baby blue sky was bright even without the assistance of the sun, which rested behind a lone cloud. Sea birds flitted and sang in the chilly breeze. Fay leaned her upper body out of her burrow’s lid, sighing at their carefree nature and happy song. Everyone said that they were the most beautiful birds in the area, that they made perfect pets for royalty. But what did that matter? The noise of their wings flapping annoyed her. She picked up a nearby rock and nailed one right in the chest. Ten points for the artful nosedive, but the landing sucked.

“Come eat your breakfast, Fay.”

Fay huffed and closed the dreadful, salty air away as she skulked back to the table. “My potato is shaped like a foot.”

“Fay,” her father warned.

“No, really, it has five toes and everything…” She poked each toe with her finger. “No, it has seven. Close enough.” She made her potato foot skip merrily around the rim of her plate.

“Don’t play with your food, honey. Come on, now, you’ll be late for school.”

Fay sighed heavily. “Do you think they need potato-foot dancers in the circus?”

“For the last time, you’re not joining the circus.”

“At least I’d fit in there.” She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket labeled Why my life sucks…and scrawled Circus request rejected, yet again. “What good is turning sixteen if you don‘t even get to do what you want?”


  1. Hmm, I want to like this, but I'm not sure what kind of story this is going to be. I know the genre is fantasy, but I'm not getting a sense of the fantastic to come yet.

    Second, the mood, with the baby blue sky and the flitting birds that you begin with belies the mood of the mc (who reads to me as being of MG age, not YA), who is obviously sick of them. The darkness of the title also seems at odds with the opening description.

    Third, I'm confused by the setting details you've given (burrow, pets for royalty), because they give the sense of an epic fantasy world, while the language (sucks, late for school, joining the circus) makes it seem more modern-day.

    All in all, I'm more confused than intrigued, and wouldn't read on.

  2. I thought the MC seemed more MG than YA, too. I was a bit startled when she was sighing at the carefree birds singing happy songs, then she nails one with a rock. Maybe if the tone had been more sarcastic, it wouldn't have caught me off guard. I'm having a hard time getting into this one.

  3. To me, the tone of the first discriptive sentences didn't go with the main character's attitude. I also wasn't drawn to the main character. I'd love to have a reason to like her dispite her attitude.

  4. The line "Do you think they need potato-foot dancers in the circus?" threw me off; it doesn't really make sense. She doesn't have actual potatoes for feet, so wouldn't she (potentially) be more of a "potato puppeteer)" or something?

    Also, it's hard to like a main character when she throws rocks at birds who have a "carefree nature and happy song" because their flapping their wings irritates her, or a main character who complains that her food looks like a foot. The fact that she thinks her life sucks because her parents don't let their underage daughter join the circus (and the fact that she writes it down, presumably keeping a list of all the things that make her life awful) doesn't help, either.

    You do a really excellent job writing your MC's voice, despite the fact that it might be hard for the reader to sympathize with her at all. (If that's what you're going for, then it's great. If it's not, you might want to rework this or add a reason why she's irritated enough to throw rocks at animals.) I also liked your writing style.

    Good luck!

  5. The first paragraph is kinda funny (though violence towards animals as a kid is a sign of a sociopath). The "potato-foot dancers" thing is kinda funny (though Becca makes a good point). The "Why my life sucks" book is kinda funny. It feels like it could be good, but it's not quite there yet.

  6. I really like the second half to this, did make me laugh, but I don't think the start quite catches the right tone. With a bit of tweaking I think it would work.

  7. I don't know--I loved it. I actually laughed out lout with the "Ten points" sentence. And then the snide remark about her breakfast! :D Great characterization of Fay(on this first page, anyway). I like her already. *but you are treading a thin line--gleefully killing animals is a fast way to alienate readers. Ps, I am a HUGE animal lover.
    -What does "Fay huffed and closed the dreadful, salty air away" mean? Might be a typo, but I don't know how to 'close' air....oh wait, after awhile I understand. She shut the LID!
    -I wasn't confused on the potato-foot dancer remark
    -indeed, this first page doesn't set the stage for the genre/setting/time period. But hey, it's only the first page. Personally, the voice is enough to keep me going. The cover, and the sinister title, would clue the reader in.
    -I think this is one seriously maladjusted 16-year-old. One of darker blood, perhaps? Is Fay one of darker blood? Is she going to snap?
    *my favorite first page yet, out of...4 or 5? I would be interested in reading more. Check my blog.

  8. I almost didn't make it through the first three sentences here, because I thought that it was just cliched description and a sign of bad writing. But I'm glad I pressed through, because I ended up loving the voice and the character once she nails the bird with the rock.

    I think I understand what you're trying to do here with the opening--present us with a perfect little Disneyfied setting that your spunky heroine can quickly shoot down. Kind of like the opening of the South Park movie, when the kids are singing about their lovely mountain town, and then the other people show up and start cursing at them. That can work visually in a movie, but it's hard to pull off in print and isn't really working here. I think that we need to have Fay's unique viewpoint on this world right from the first sentence.

    I'd agree with the others who say that it feels more MG than YA, and I'm also confused by the title, which sounds too dark for what feels like a Princess Bride-esque world once things get going.

    But the breakfast exchange cracked me up, and I'd totally read on to get to know Fay better and see where this is going.

  9. I pictured this girl closer to 13 than 16 and I actually liked the scene with her hitting the bird with the rock on a beautiful day. It says a lot about her. My only issue with this one is that I am not seeing this as a 16 year old girl.

  10. Kill two birds with one stone (no pun intended): axe some but not all of the (admittedly) corny sky, seabird, etc descriptions in the first few sentences. Juxtapose the baby blue sky or whatever with something world-building, like however the landscape appears in this world. (other burrows, lids, etc) As it stands, I picture some kind of Tatouine/Mad Max-y place.
    -still my favorite (besides mine, of course)

  11. I liked Fay and her quirky take on life. I liked the surprise that came after the cliched blue sky and the singing birds. I'd suggest showing her throw the rock, showing it sail through the air, and then bean the bird to make it more vivid.

    I did think she sounded more MG than YA, and I would have liked something more plotwise than that she doesn't fit in, but I'd give you a few more pages. It's the fact that she's atypical that draws me in. Combine it with an interesting plot and you've got me.

  12. I admit, I laughed at her hitting the bird. I liked her voice, too. The lack of obvious fantasy elements didn't bother me at all. There were hints (living in a burrow, for example). I agree about the age of the MC. What makes me feel she's younger than 16 is the desire to join the circus. That's a dream I associate with younger children. But I enjoyed this, and I'd read on.

  13. The creepy title and the flippant tone of the writing are very at-odds with each other. The voice also sounds too young for YA; more along the lines of MG. And I’m afraid at this point, all I want to do is give Fay a smack. I have short patience for spoiled characters, so I need reason right away why I should care to follow their stories. I didn't get that here.