Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #36

TITLE: Vesuvius: Re-loved
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

I looked down at my hands, and they were not my pale, freckled ones. These were the hands I had always wanted, stronger than mine with glorious olive skin. One held a copper knife, the other a loaf of bread, and they sliced the way I usually danced—like they were born to do it and then practiced, a lot.
The world lurched and stood still, like time and space disappeared. We met each other’s eyes—this woman with the capable hands and I—except I saw from inside her eyes, so it was more like we traded places. Or I was in two places at once.

Through the small, glassless window, we shared a view of a vegetable garden, a wall of mortared stone, and a green hump that would have been laughed out of Colorado if it dared call itself a mountain. The hump was a mountain to her, though, so it was a mountain to me. I experienced along with her as she perceived me in the same way, and certainty took hold from her toenails to her scalp.

Something terrible is about to happen.

The earth shook again, and the bread-knife sawed into my index finger. Pain yanked my attention back to my mother’s kitchen like falling from a history book into a Martha Stewart catalogue, and bleeding all over the pages. Crimson blossomed on my freshly sliced white bread.

“Rachel!” Leonardo’s deep voice shouted as a chair clattered to the floor in the dining room.


  1. I'm intrigued yet confused. I'm guessing this has happened to the mc before; otherwise, if it were me, I'd be freaking out around about now. And I'm not referring to the earthquake.

    The cutting her finger part sounds like me. :D

    I'm intrigued enough that I would keep reading until the end of the chapter.

    Good luck!

  2. I'm thinking she is physically in present time but somehow mentally/spiritually in a past place, like a vision from a past life, only someone else's? Maybe this needs a touch of clarification. I love the descriptions, felt like I was there. If this is the first time such a thing has happened, as the MC I'd also be freaked out, so we may need to see that.

    One this I would add is where it says the world lurched and stood still, I'd add "then" before stood. Otherwise its contradictory to me as a reader.

    Good job, I'd keep reading!

  3. I'm confused as well. I thought there were issues of pov but then I realized she was watching someone else. Maybe clearing this up would up the tension. But I love the idea of shifting from one reality to another. So yes, I would read on.

  4. I'll echo the other comments that the story was confusing and hard to follow. Maybe have a more recognizable transition between the two times/places. Make sure the reader knows which one we are currently inhabiting before launching into other details.

    Speaking of other details, try to focus on the inhabited body before revealing details about the inhabit-er. Just mention that the hands aren't hers instead of talking up the pale, freckled ones. Even mentioning the dancing brings us out of the scene of getting to know the olive-skinned girl. Save all that information for when we're not trying to figure out what the hell is going on and can get to know the actual narrator a little better. And I don't think anyone is 'born' to slice bread or goes out of their way to practice doing it.

    This might just be personal preference, but I wouldn't have a character named 'Leonardo' in the present. It's a more classical name that makes me think more of history which compounds your issue with transitions. Or it makes me think of Ninja Turtles, adding even more confusion.

  5. My two cents:

    Pretty sure this is a dream sequence and the main character, Rachel, awakes from the dream while falling in a chair in her parents' dining room.

    Based on the title of the story, it sounds like the dream sequence is somehow connected with the rest of the story, which is good to know.

    I would encourage beginning the story in a different scene.

  6. Hmmm, interesting. I like the idea of her seeing through someone else's eyes and confusing her identity. very cool.

    I was confused too, but if I keep on reading, it might be clarified. Or maybe that's the mystery that you wanted. I would turn the page out of curiosity.

    P.S. I agree about the name Leonardo! Leo is popular with babies right now, though... :)

  7. There are some nitpicks over sentence construction and grammar, as the others here have already pointed out. "I experienced along with her as she perceived me in the same way, and certainty took hold from her toenails to her scalp." had me confused, because I don't know what exactly is "taking hold from her".

    I'm also not sure about "re-loved" as a word. It's not something I usually encounter, so it had me thinking for awhile as to what it could mean in context to what you've written.

    All that aside, I'm very curious as to how you're going to continue with this! Sounds very promising!

  8. I love the idea of a YA novel set in ancient Pompeii or Herculaneum. I'm guessing your MC is experiencing a moment where she is inhabiting the body and partially the mind of a girl in one of these towns. But I agree it needs more clarity. I also think it needs a moment or two in which the reader can ground themselves before we have the out-of-body experience. Perhaps you could show the MC slicing bread at home in Colorado, then have her look down at her now-olive hands, instead of starting with that action. I'd definitely read on though.

  9. I agree with the others that this opening is a bit discombobulating...the metaphors/similes are creative, but they're often confusing, too, or at least their language is a bit too loose (Rachel's hands sliced the way she danced, like they were born to do it and then practiced a it or lump it, our readers' brain is hearing that her hands were born to slice and that her hands practiced a lot, which is an awkward construction). If you could simplify your language ("pain yanked my attention back to my mother's kitchen like falling from a history book into a Martha Stewart catalog"...clever, but more distracting than it is clarifying) this would sing a bit better, I think...