Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Secret Agent #24

TITLE: A Love To Kill For
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Alex knocked four times, and a viewfinder slid open. “Someone ordered a Bloody Mary?” she said, her passphrase to get in. The viewfinder shut, a bolt was drawn back, and the door opened inward.

Habitually, she went upstairs to Adriano’s office. Donny, a broad, muscular type with dark hair and a tan, greeted her in the waiting area with a wide smile, gesturing for her to take a seat on the leather sofa. Her hand relaxed from hovering over the knife hidden at her hip; she never went anywhere without it. After taking a seat, Donny did the same, uncomfortably close to her.

“How’s college?” he asked, being friendly. She often wondered whether Donny had a thing for her.

Don’t mix business with civilian life, don’t mix business with civilian life, don’t mix . . . “Fine. And business?”

“Good. I’ll be seeing your old man in a week.” Alex’s heart leaped. She had a hard time pretending not to care when her father was mentioned.

“That so? Just on business or vacation?”

“A bit of both, but you know I can’t tell you more than that.”

“Of course.” His eyes floated to the “Trophy Wall” where obituaries of the Martello’s enemies were displayed. Most prominent was the yellowed newspaper clipping of the exposĂ© Brian O’Connor, Jr., had written on the Martello family. Alex looked away from it. She often read the article, cried over it, considered how different her life would be if her father had never written the stupid thing.


  1. I like how you incorporated inner thoughts of the character along with their dialogue, "Don't mix business with civilian life.." The fact that you chose to write in the third person is also something I admire, being that first person is so commonly used. It makes me want to read more, to discover how you will use the third person to its fullest effect by discussing many more future characters and their subtle, inner-monologues. Also, I would describe the office a bit more, in terms of what it looks like, feels like, etc., especially if you wanted to create more of an atmosphere, whether it be a dangerous feeling, a comfortable feeling, or something different entirely, especially if the characters find themselves there later in the book.

  2. Intriguing. Why can't he talk about the father? Why is the article on the "trophy" wall if he wasn't killed for writing it? Curiouser and curiouser. Makes me want to keep reading!

    One picky thing I didn't like was the use of habitually. It takes me out of her voice. If you want to establish that she's been there a lot, you could say, "Once again..." or something. And it might be better to put the mention of her hand on her knife as she climbs the stairs for the sake of tension.

    Good job! : )

  3. This doesn't sound like YA Contemp to me. I agree with the word Habitually, it sounds startchy and out of place.

    Not too sold on this. Not yet. I think it could be cleaner and tighter. It's really close though for me.

  4. I'm intrigued. I think another line edit would help. Not sure if you need the father's full name mentioned, but that's being nitpicky. I have a lot of unanswered questions, like why is she there on business and why does she have to remind herself of that if she's not interested in the guy.

    It feels a little Veronica Mars-ish to me...and that's a good thing.

  5. I like your opening, with the "Bloody Mary" secret password, but there wasn't much else to draw me in. You give a few intriguing lines--'don't mix buisness...' and mentioning the knife at her hip, but you didn't follow through with a hook. I have no idea, yet, what the story may contain, or why I should care about the MC. Perhaps a little more about Alex and her immediate cares would help, and you could save the bit about her father for a little later on.

    Good luck.

  6. It looks interesting and I kind of get an edgy mystery feel from the dialogue and the narration regarding the characters as well. I’d read on a few more pages. I loved her inner thoughts, it's a great way to get to know the character in third person.

    When she talked about carrying a knife, Donny can’t expose too much info to her, the trophy wall of obituaries of enemies, etc. I got a sense of maybe a mob story here though I’m unsure. As a reader, I’m a little confused as to what’s going on. Who is Adriano? Who is Alex? Why haven't I felt a connection with the MC yet?

    I also think you can tighten up your writing a bit. Less telling, more showing. My critique partner drilled that in me. ;-)

  7. The start to this almost reminded me of Urban Fantasy and I had to remind myself it was contemp. Gutsy beginning--sounds like it's going to be a big story.

    I was a little confused with all the name dropping, but I was interested in how this girl got mixed up in the "business" and how her father writing an article about the family changed her life.

  8. Oh, I also meant to add... No floating eyeballs! Try using gaze, focus, or attention.

  9. Nice twist at the end. I was expecting her to be a Martello. But this is just vague enough that I can’t tell if Donny and Adriano are the Martello’s, or if they’re people out to get the Martello’s. It could be taken either way, and I think the reader should know one way or the other. There are also a few awkward sentences, and I wondered about calling the peep hole a viewfinder. That seemed a bit weird. And you might want to cut ‘habitually.’ Also, if the wall is covered in obituaries, why is the expose up there?

  10. Good beginning. You give us just enough but have restrained from explaining everything right off the bat. I like Alex, she's tough but fallible.

    Maybe rethink your genre--it is technically contemporary but can also be described as espionage, suspense, thriller, depending on the story. It's hard to tell without seeing the query. But it sounds very Ally Carter's Heist Society.

    I'm hooked enough to keep reading.

  11. All of these comments are fantastic, thank you so much! The use of "habitually" has been nagging at me, too; it's definitely gone after this next round of revisions. And Heather, thanks for the tip on the floating eyeballs!
    To the Secret Agent: I wasn't really sure if YA Suspense/Thriller are really subgenres. Later, there's a romance, but there's a lot of tension surrounding it, too, which is standard fare for the YA Contemporary genre, so I thought it fit well. But I'll definitely look into a better genre fit before querying. And I'm a big fan of Ally Carter, so thanks for the compliment!