Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #18

TITLE: Watch Out for Menehune
GENRE: Young Adult Paranormal

Marisa screamed as a gecko skittered across her toes.

"It's just a gecko," her sister Violet told her.

"It's just a gecko," Marisa mimicked, rubbing her toes against the beach towel in case there was still some lizard on them. "That doesn't mean I want it touching me with its gross lizardness. Or my stuff." She looked around wondering if she had drawn attention with her screaming, but the small beach a few blocks from grandma’s was fairly empty, just like it had been the last few days. This trip to Hawaii was sure starting off slow.

“They eat bugs.” Violet looked around, probably hoping to apologize to the lizard.

“I am not a bug,” Marisa said.

“Are you alright?”

Marisa looked over and saw a really hot guy wearing a shirt with a wave who had brought his tall, muscular – but not in the body building way, more like the soccer player or maybe surfer way – over to make sure she was okay. Because she had freaked out over a lizard.

“Yeah.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder. “I was just startled.” Geckoes looked to be about as common as squirrels were back home and since this guy had the look of a local it didn’t make sense to be freaked out. Although squirrels didn’t usually run across her feet.

“Good,” the guy said. “Aloha, I am Lohi’au, or Lo.” He held out his hand. “You are from around here?”

Marisa shook his hand. “Marisa.”


  1. Screamed as gecko ran over her toes, it's a gecko...yeah we already know, the reader is already checking out.

    You write well so surprise us. And avoid the cliches, your hawaiian surfer dude is not very surprising right out of the box, not hooked yet. cillo

  2. You're missing a word here: "who had brought his tall, muscular - over to make sure she was okay".

    Other than that, it's okay. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. It has potential, but I think you need to get the reader to empathize with Marisa more right away, instead of her just coming across as the typical girl who screams at lizards.

    Good luck!

  3. From this small excerpt I feel like Marisa is prissy and a little snotty to her sister. That doesn't do a lot to draw me in. I would also prefer more sense oriented descriptions (smell of the ocean) vs. physical (blocks from grandma's house). Even when the hotty shows up, rather than a generic "he's hot" description show us her thoughts about his muscles, tan, hair, eyes, whatever.

    Good luck!

  4. Form rejection. The voice is too "like OMG" for my taste and I found the description of the hot lifeguard cliche. I also think there's a dissonance between the author's voice and Marisa's; if this is a third-person limited novel the narrative should be in the same tone as her voice.

  5. "In case there was still some lizard on them" made me laugh.

    I stumbled over some of the description -- "wearing a shirt with a wave" doesn't make a clear picture in my mind. In that same paragraph, I think I'd like to know how she feels about drawing the attention of hot guys in such an embarrassing way. Also, the way Lo introduced himself seemed kind of stilted. Is that deliberate? If English is his second language, it would make sense.

    I'm curious to know what the paranormal element of this is, and Hawaii makes an interesting location for this kind of story.

    P.S. I'm thinking of keeping a file of "Prove you're not a robot" verification words. They all seem like they'd be good fantasy names or sci-fi jargon. This one is ooducter iciatest. If that breaks down in your ftl drive, you're stuck.

  6. (Abbe has stolen my captcha-pilfering idea--I totally agree.)

    What I like:

    The locale. Hawaii is an interesting setting with plenty of potentional. The introduction of the "Hot Guy" right away. " case there was still some lizard on them." That line was witty and full of voice.

    What I think needs work:

    It needs editing.

    I think the narrative focuses on some really irrelevant details (the wave on the guy's shirt, that geckos seem to be common, etc.) Practice word economy and show what's important.

    It's sort of bland. It's *paranormal,* it's in *Hawaii,* there's a *hot guy*... but all you're doing with this opening is girl gets freaked out by lizard on otherwise boring vacation and then has a boring conversation with a hot guy (even though I don't have any idea what he looks like).

    Spice it up. Find a more interesting place to start.

  7. I think it might be stronger if you started with the fact that she's in Hawaii. Is it spring break or are the girls visiting their grandma for another reason? The fact that it's a slow start to the week is interesting.

    Here's an idea (just my two cents):

    Marisa had been in Hawaii almost a week and the most excitement she'd experienced was a gecko attack.

    "You scream like a little girl," Violet said and adjusted their beach blanket. "Lizards are harmless, and they eat bugs."

    Marisa didn't need a science lesson from her little sister. Especially now that a seriously hot guy was headed in their direction.

    "You alright?" he asked.

  8. Hey, guys, this is mine and thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated. And yes, English is not Lo-hiau's first language.