Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #16

TITLE: 'Til It Happens to You
GENRE: Young Adult

I breathe slow and deep, trying to catch my breath. The ceiling fan moves the air made warmer by our thrashing about, slowly cooling the sweat on my body. The room has a certain scent that I couldn’t have placed a short month ago but now is as familiar as my name. JP’s smoking fails to improve the air quality. I steal his cigarette, take a few quick drags and pull on my clothes. He smiles and lights another.
Completely at ease naked, sprawled across the blankets, he sighs and asks, “Where are you going?” The blue plastic ashtray on the end table looks like a whale. I grind the cigarette into its blowhole.

“Some of us work for a living.”

“You could try depending on the kindness of strangers.”

“That only works for pretty people like you and Blanche DuBois.”

“You’re beautiful and you know it.”

“You have to say that.”

“I don’t say things I don’t mean.” He looks up at me with heavy-lidded, dark brown eyes and gently kisses the back of my hand. My everything tingles. “So I’ll see you later?” I nod. The answer’s always yes. His arms wrap around me, fingers tickling my belly, pulling me to the bed. I jump up, fighting the urge to stay there. I give him a quick kiss goodbye, wishing for the thousandth time that his confidence was contagious. Being with him should be a dream come true but I’m scared crapless. How long before he completely sees through me?


  1. Nice imagery with the fan and the smoke, but especially the blue ashtray and the "blowhole." Nice touch.

    I was confused by the Blanche DuBois reference. At first I thought you meant Blanche Deveraux from the Golden Girls and I was super excited. My only concern is a YA reader might not know the character Blanche DuBois. Then again, it's a nice nod if they do...

    "My everything tingles." Yup, perfect! I think does a great job of capturing a woman's insecurities. I'd want to read more to see if she grows into her confidence!

  2. I absolutely got--and loved--the Blanche DuBois reference (though I'm the wrong age group).

    "My Everything tingles."

    That's my favorite line. Such a nice way to position her feelings of attraction and affection against her lack of confidence.

  3. Well the writing is very strong. You conjure up a conjugal scene with great skill. I like the focus ont he small details like the whale ashtray and the cig smoke and the smell that has now become familiar to her. It's really first rate writing. Problem: YA - again the streetcar named desire reference. Not only will most of your audience not get it (at all) the belief we have to suspend in this scene is that both male and female get it - because it is he who says "the kindness of strangers" (quoting streetcar) and her who knows that he is quoting Blanche Dubois. So either there are a pair of very literate cuddle bunnies or it won't work. It CAN work if in the very next page you explain it as in - So I guess you're wondering who BD is? then launch into a reason why these 2 kids both know it and use it. Maybe they are rehearshing that play etc. I think it would be saved only through that. Two crits - the equation of pretty people like you (talking to the guy) and Blanche Dubois doesn't make sense. He's a guy. Second - the scene is so beautifully written that the "Crapless" part atr the end totally yanked me out. But, really great stuff as a whole.

  4. The imagery is vivid and evocative. It left me wanting to read on to find out who the guy is, why does she lack confidence and what's she hiding. I'd definitely read on.

  5. I loved the whale-shaped ashtray and grinding the cigarette into its blowhole. You've included good details and description through your main character's perspective and have really nailed the voice.

    I also wonder about the Blanche DuBois reference. It may not work for your readers unless you give some idea as to why these characters are so familiar with "Streetcar". The second sentence in the first paragraph felt awkward to me at "moves the air made warmer..."

    Good internal struggle for your main character.

  6. This probably isn’t for me. While the writing seemed strong, I have a hard time representing YA books where the sex is casual. It may not be, in this case, but I can only go on what I’ve read here.

  7. While it is well written, I felt like I had just picked up an adult romance or possibly a gritty adult thriller, not a YA.
    The beginning scene offers no hint of her insecurities, so to have them pop up near the end of the page is confusing.

    I'm not sure I'd try to market this as YA unless the story changes significantly.