Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Gallop
GENRE: YA thriller (horror elements)

Long Beach Island was supposed to be a magical place. That’s what real estate and travel agents told tourists, anyway. Come to LBI for your vacation, and all your dreams will come true. Soak up the sun and let your cares float away.


Maybe it was just that I’d lived on the mainland for so long, or maybe it was that being on the island meant coming to work on my dad’s boat — it wasn’t anything special. And with the first fingers of winter creeping over, it felt like I’d never get the chill out of my bones. Nothing magical about that.
November winds whipped frigid salt—scented air into my face, pushing against my scooter and seeming to urge me away from The Tern. When I finally pulled into the parking lot, Rick Camarda waved from his favorite position: slumped against the front wall of the restaurant to wait for the owner to arrive and unlock the door.

“Hey, Mackenzie,” he said. He hadn’t smoothed down the cowlick that kicked up his short, dark hair, like he’d just woken up and rolled into work without a shower. “What’re you doing on the island in the off-season?”

“Noah didn’t tell you? We’re moving,” I said, flicking the key in the ignition and removing my helmet. The scooter engine sputtered off, leaving only the raspy—shrill call of seagulls and the occasional rumble of a car engine to block out the sound of the ocean a few blocks away.


  1. I'm sold! The internal dialogue, the actions, the descriptions are all great. I'd definitely read on. Great Job!

    Good luck!

  2. Great voice! I especially love this line--> "with the first fingers of winter creeping over, it felt like I’d never get the chill out of my bones."

    I'd definitely read on to see what happens and exactly what kind of 'horror' elements you've got in here. So, yeah. I don't have anything I'd change in this opening. Nicely done!

  3. Love the voice and the descriptions.

  4. Wow, loving it! I would read this, and there's not even a dead body in the first 250! I'm so jealous. You're going to do great.

  5. Love it, and YES I'm hooked. Descriptions so vivid I can taste them.

  6. Descriptions are definitely good. You have a gift for setting a scene. But having said that, I'm not entirely hooked. I was looking for some sort of a hint at the horror element of the story. However, 250 words isn't much, and you are clearly a good writer, so perhaps this is more about my expectations than the piece itself. Good luck with it.

  7. Also liked this line: "with the first fingers of winter creeping over, it felt like I’d never get the chill out of my bones."

  8. I think you're a great writer. I have to admit that I wasn't hooked by the first few sentences, though. Maybe there's a more vivid way to kick start it?

    I do like the "fingers" part too!

  9. Excellent feedback -- thanks! The original opening of this started with a variation of the "first fingers" line. Just goes to show what happens when I second guess! Thanks to the comments, I think I'll go back to the original opening.

    Thanks again!

    -#40 author

  10. Love the descriptions and the narrative. It sounds a bit older than YA to me though, but maybe that's because he has a scooter and his friend goes to work. But still, love how you set up the scene, though I'm now curious as to what kind of horror is gonna spring from this.

  11. The atmosphere you create is amazing. I would definitely read on.

    I assumed Mackenzie was a girl because of the way s/he thought of Rick but I notice of the reviewers thought s/he was a boy.

    I think 'it wasn't anything special' is misplaced as it describes the island not the boat

    Good work

  12. I dig it! I like the tension between how dismissive of the atmosphere Mackenzie is and how potent (and pleasant) the atmosphere is in the writing itself (it may not be sunny, but there's ocean and salty air and seagulls...kinda lovely, no?) It makes me want to figure Mackenzie out, it makes me think she's both a special person and in NEED of something special to be happy...