Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #47

TITLE: The Power of Her Hand
GENRE: YA paranormal fantasy

Olivia Black was busy failing her Calculus test when she noticed the new guy staring at her hand.

He was sitting across the aisle from her, his eyes locked on her glowy, ethereal, see-through right hand and the pencil that hovered between her fingers, never quite touching them.

Olivia slowly set her pencil down on her desk.

His eyes tracked her movements, still staring.

What was with him? So she had PSS of the right hand. Psyche Sans Soma was a rare birth defect, but most people had at least heard of it. There was tons of stuff about it on the internet, and Sixty Minutes had done a whole segment on it for Christ's sake. So what was this guy's problem?

Rumor had it he was a transfer from some big city school. Maybe it wasn't her hand he was staring at. Maybe he had something against Goths. Could be he'd transferred to the smallest high school in rural Illinois precisely to escape black-haired, black-lipped, leather clad girls, and here he was stuck sitting next to the only one in a hundred mile radius. Anyway, the guy seriously needed to stop staring. It was starting to freak her out.

Olivia curled her ghost hand into a fist and flipped him off.

He raised his eyebrows and finally looked away, but she didn't miss the smirk that played across his lips as he did.

Why were the hot ones always such cocky, self-absorbed idiots?


  1. You can make the second sentence stronger by starting it with, "He sat..."

    This is interesting, but the anger feels forced. Maybe tone it down and show annoyance instead?

  2. I am intrigued.

    Two minor things re: the "Rumor had it" paragraph.
    1. I love the sarcasm in it, but this sentence tripped me up: "Could be he'd transferred to the smallest high school in rural Illinois precisely to escape..." Maybe change "Could be" to "Perhaps"?
    2. I love the idea of a Goth girl being the MC, and would rather be shown that she's Goth, rather than told. How people react to her and such.

    Would definitely read on, though. And I love the name Olivia Black.

    Good luck!

  3. Love her attitude. I also liked how you embedded worldbuilding info within context. Nice.

    I'd read on.

  4. I love the voice in this, and I would read on.

    My only suggestion is to rearrange the paragraphs in this order:

    Olivia Black was...
    He was...
    What was with him?
    Olivia slowly set...
    His eyes tracked her movements...
    Rumor had it...

    I say this because for those two small paragraphs ('Olivia slowly...' and 'His eyes tracked...') I was uncertain if I should be concerned about her hand or not. Once she says 'What was with him?' I felt secure and grounded again, which kept me tighter with the story.

  5. Great voice and I like the concept of a disease that makes your hand go invisible. Interesting. I agree with Melissa about being told the MC is a goth girl though. That whole paragraph is telling. You can reveal mystery boy's backstory later along with the MC's goth status.

  6. I like this, but for some reason I wanted this to be in first person. I think it would make it much more immediate. I am interested by the whole invisible hand thing.

    Good luck!

  7. Love the voice. Unique character it seems, too. Would like to read more.

  8. Interesting premise, but the writing is a little passive. I'd like the opening lines to really zing.

    I'm also not a huge fan of calling her a Goth girl since that feels like a lazy shortcut to showing who she is.

  9. I like this. I like her attitude and voice. My son has a skin disorder that was featured on 60 minutes several years ago, and he gets stares and comments from strangers pretty often. I could see this paranormal "skin disorder" as if it was in the real world. Kudos!

  10. YES, Loved it!

    Here's why.
    It starts with action, and then mystery and then the tension about who he is and why he's staring builds.

    I want to read more.

  11. I would totally keep reading.

    I sort of agree with Lanette about the anger seeming a bit forced, but I would say rather that "freak her out" was perhaps the point that seems too strong. I really like that she flips him off, though. Maybe "It was starting to bug her" or something similar?

  12. I read a TON of fantasy/paranormal YA and I gotta say, I love the premise with this one.

    I'd definitely read on. I enjoyed your voice and the fact that I'm crazy curious who he is, let's me know I'd request more for sure.

  13. I would read on, you've got my interest. The opening line says so much - busy failing, but not concerned enough to concentrate solely on the test. Agree that second para could begin 'He sat across...' I don't feel the anger is forced - she's failing a test, and it's obviously not the first time someone has stared at her hand. The info in the 'Rumour' para could be trimmed back and the info put in later, maybe in dialogue, eg. 'Rumour....against Goths. Anyway, the guy...freak her out.'

    I think this is a strong start, and I love Olivia's attitude coming across right away. There's a real promise she's not going to be a passive victim in whatever unfolds. Good stuff.

  14. I'm curious, too...but about that glowing I do need to read more!

    I like the way you started with a common event (failing a maths test) then launch into mystery with the hand stuff. You keep it grounded and real with references to life as we know it, but weave uncertainty through it. An intriguing start.

  15. The 'Rumor' paragraph threw me a bit as well. I got sidetracked on a line of thought that went something like, "She thinks of herself as a Goth? Do Goths these days do that? I thought they were more likely to say 'Don't label me! I'm not a can of soup!' At least that's what my sister says. And why would someone transfer schools to get away from Goths?"

    I think that some of that paragraph could be deleted, and we could learn about Olivia's Gothness (is that a word?) gradually over a few pages.

    I also think that the line "It was starting to freak her out" could possibly be deleted. The fact that she flips him off is eloquent enough. And very cool.

    Other than that paragraph, I think it is a good beginning, and I'd want to read further.

  16. an intriguing concept - and character - I'd love for the story to stick more closely to her idiom - it gets a little careful? passive? in places and that seems to erode the tone of the story. Even so I'm hooked.

  17. I'd definitely read on - it's a really interesting concept and different from the other things I've read, so I want to know where it's heading.
    Some really good feedback from others here!

  18. I love how the opening sentence gives the reader so much information in an understated, but intriguing manner. Without even thinking about it, the reader knows her name, where she is (a classroom), her approximate age, that a new guy is in the class, and that he’s staring at her hand, and that his very notice of her hand must mean there’s a reason to stare; also, that she’s either not good in calculus, or that she is good in calculus and there’s something going on that’s making her fail the test. It definitely makes me want to keep reading, and as I learn more about her personality, and the new guy’s personality, I want to know what’s going on with her hand, and if there’s going to be something between the two of them. As far as her reaction to him, I think it works well, and is not too extreme, because it shows the reader that she is sensitive to her “difference,” because in reality, a new guy seeing someone control a pencil between glowing, see through fingers would be an unusual sight; so it’s good that Olivia is not perfect. That makes her character believable, and the story worth reading.

  19. I would read on. I'm intrigued by her PSS and her voice.

    Good luck. :)

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Accidentally deleted my other comment. Doh! I just wanted to say that I love Olivia's dilemma. That is the thing that was sucking me into the story. I wanted to know more about her hand!

    As far as feedback, I find the internal monologue conflicts with a third person story.

    I also would like to see more action and less talking about it.

  22. I actually had no idea what PSS is. I wouldn't mind if you explained it somehow - though I'm sure you probably do that later. I would keep reading.

  23. I agree with other commenters on the goth label; maybe show it in a way rather than have her reflect it.

    Interesting premise, I'm intrigued and would keep reading. This draft reads like work was put into it to get those essential details known up front. Nice work!

  24. I think the premise is great and the writing is strong. You give a lot of info in a nice, efficient way. I'd definitely keep reading. Nice job!

  25. Hi,
    This was an interesting idea but I felt the 'illness' needed to be explained a little from the outset - I found myself trying to figure out what PSS was and had to read further before it was explained.
    I am interested to know what is going to happen though - obvious attraction between interesting characters and a freaky disease, got to be a recipe for success.
    Good Luck.

  26. I have a bit of a problem with this, but it's very much a personal one. For a novel, I find there is too much information in this short sample - I prefer both the plot and personalities to be slowly 'unwrapped' throughout the work.

    That said, I admit I'm swimming against the tide here, and I don't read YA.

  27. I thought the writing was fairly consistent with a certain type of YA that is everywhere and so would probably sell - female MC with a chip, mysterious and alluring new boy, something to hide and discover. etc. I think it was an interesting focus on such a small thing as a hand and I liked that. However, I actually laughed out loud at the end when she said hot guys are cocky and self-absorbed idiots because everything in the 250 from her perspective was - yes - cocky and self-absorbed from her perspective. (I mean thinking anyone even cared enough about Goths to move?) I am not sure if that was intentional humor - if so, bravo. I love books where the MC is unable to realize how they appear to others.

  28. Oooh, that was a fun opening. I love the voice. She's got attitude but not off-putting. Manages to share details in an effortless way.

    And the ghost hand had wow-factor. I like how you establish it's normal in this world, not so much by "internet" but by the 60 minutes segment.

    You should consider renaming the novel "Ghost Hand". :-)

    Good luck!

  29. I think it's a strong start that hooked me in as a reader and the idea of the etheric hand is 'fresh.'

    Potentially the Goth information is a distraction (when it seems clear he is in fact looking at her hand) but overall I feel the intro works well.

  30. I'd read on--strong voice and writing.

  31. Cool about the PSS. I like this. I like her sorta cocky on this first page. I'm imagining that things go downhill very fast on word #251 for Olivia.

    But I worry about the fact that it's only her one hand that has the PSS. Is it enough to sustain interest through an entire novel?

    But hey, you got me wondering. ;)

  32. Thank you all for the amazing and constructive input that has already made the novel stronger.

    And thank you Secret Agent for the encouraging words. Happy to answer your wonder anytime;)