Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Secret Agent #48

TITLE: Black Rose
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Inside the crowded club, the smell of humans hung heavy in the air. Behind the counter, I stood with my back to the customers waiting for service, bit my finger and held it over my coffee cup. Three round red drops of blood plopped into the dark liquid below. I licked my finger, sealing over the two puncture marks and turned around to watch the room. As I sipped the coffee, the scalding liquid hit my stomach with the force of a cyclone. The infusion of blood would make sure it stayed there.

People swung and gyrated on the dance floor to the hypnotic sound of salsa music. Sweaty and panting, they came and stood at the counter demanding water, beer, munchies and just a bit too much attention. Their scent permeated everything. My clothes, my hair, even the gleaming mahogany of the bar. The monster inside me threatened to uncurl, wanting to luxuriate in the smell. Inhaling deeply from my coffee, I shut my eyes, concentrating on the slightly acrid odor. You don’t feed from humans, I told myself, the ever-deriding voice inside my head stern and edged with anger. The voice—sounding way to much like my master—taunted me, telling me I was a fool to think I could run a club catering to humans.

When I opened my eyes, Nikolai reclined on a barstool across from me—a trick only he could pull off and make it look comfortable.


  1. You had me at "the smell of humans." You began to lose me when I figured out this was a vampire story--because that's not in my mental bookshelf at all--but you kept me with "the club catering to humans." I think the long description of their smell in the next paragraph works well for your genre, but I'm not sure if the phrase 'monster inside me' isn't a tiny bit cliche'. I loved the way you chose "uncurl" for that sentence, and I feel like there's probably some more specific phrase that would match that word and seem just slightly less used. That may be a nit--I hope it helps a little.

    I liked the introduction of Nikolai. You summed up his character for me in just that one sentence. I like it! I'd read on just out of curiosity. I don't know if I'd buy the book--because again, it's not my genre--but I'd stand in the bookstore and leaf through before I made that decision.

    Thank-you for sharing with us! = )

  2. So far the premise is intriguing. I had questions though. Like, why if there are people waiting for service is she standing there drinking coffee with her eyes closed? And why would three drops of her own blood keep her from throwing up the coffee? That doesn't seem like a significant amount. And why drink coffee anyway if it makes her sick? For the scent? To mask the smell of the humans?

    Just curious. Which I guess is a good thing because I would want to keep reading to find out. : )

  3. I definitely like the use of "humans" in the first sentence; it lets me know right off the bat that your character is non-human in a descriptive way. I also like the use of scent in the second paragraph. Very descriptive in a good way.

    Personally, I don't think of salsa music as "hypnotic" but that's pretty subjective.

    All and all I think that while this is well written, it teeters on the edge of cliche. The "monster inside of me threatened to uncurl" feels a little stale.

    That might be the downside to writing a vampire book right now though. We're over saturated.

  4. I appreciated the tension in the scene and the writing is good, I just couldn't find anything that pulls me to read on. I instantly thought of True Blood (vampire-owned club). However, it may be that I'm just over vampires at the moment.

  5. I liked your descriptions, and agree your opening line really works. I'd also look at changing "monster inside me". Personally, I will never be over vampires, hell, I just read the latest Sookie Stackhouse book.

  6. I like the general scene, and the intro of Nikolai, and I agree with the general sentiment about "monster inside me." Not that you can't get there with a vampire character, but it's a cliche to start there.

    My big problem (a nit, really) was "I stood with my back to the customers waiting for service" It took three times through to realized that it was the customers who were waiting for service. Once I figured that out, everything fell into place. She's turned her back on the customers for a second so they don't see how she's doctoring her coffee.

  7. Loved the first line and introduction to Nikolai. You lost me in the description though. It just went on a little too long. I'd tighten it and bring Nikolai in more quickly and it'd be perfect.

  8. I was hooked at the first line. I'll never get over vampires....the hardcore kind anyway, not wimpy vamps. Your first 250 words leave me interested and wondering about the MC. Great opening. I'd definitely read more, though I di agree the description went on a bit longer than necessary.

  9. Well, I was intrigued by putting your own blood in the coffee - it spoke to me of strange magic. Then it became a vampire story, and I understood.

    I like that the MC's trying to run a club catering to humans - that's very interesting, especially as it doesn't appear to be a ploy to for easy food.

    On the whole, well-written. My main issues are 'the monster inside me' which is commonly used. I feel like it would better suit a werewolf story than a vampire one.

    I'm going to disagree with the others that liked 'the smell of humans hung heavy in the air'. I think it reveals too much. The blood in the coffee was much more subtle, and much more unusual. I'd have preferred it to start there.

    That said, really good job in a tough genre. Good work.

  10. I'm not into vampire stories, but despite that, it held my attention. I felt like I was in the bar with the MC.

    I do agree with the coffee comments, however. I assume the MC wants to keep his/her identity secret and is drinking coffee to fit in? But if it's a crowded bar, and people are drinking, no one is even going to notice what the MC is drinking. Especially if there's a line and people want to be served.

    Great start. I'd definitely read on.

  11. Unfortunately, this didn't hook me. I was more confused by the character and what was going on than desire to know about her monster inside. She's waiting for service, but she has coffee, but she is the club proprietor. Is she the one serving? Is so, she seems bored, but the club seems busy enough for her not to be standing idle.

    You've deviated slightly from the normal cliches of the genre, but seems more confused than unique. Salsa music instead of heavy bass club music. Monsters inside usually refer to shape shifters, but I'm pretty sure she's a vampire--this also isn't clear.

  12. Interesting. I’d give it a few more pages. You might turn that first sentence around. The smell of humans hung heavy inside the crowded club. Starting with prepositional phrases usually weakens a sentence and you want that first sentence to be strong. And I wondered about Nikolai reclining on a bar stool—not because it sounds impossible, because you did add that it was a trick of his—but because the bar is crowded, and wouldn’t people be tripping over, or bumping into, his extended legs and head? And if everyone is clamoring at the bar for drinks and food, why is she ignoring them and standing there with her eyes closed, basking in their scents? That would be my hesitation in reading on. I like the premise, but the logic isn’t there.