Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #10

TITLE: Pomegranate Seeds
GENRE: Women's Fiction

There are two things I remember very clearly from the house on the beach where we lived until I was six years old. The first is the sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks in our backyard. The second is the day my sister Sarah drowned.

The house was on Highway One, about half an hour south of San Francisco, and had been built in the early 1900’s by a famously eccentric Berkeley professor. We lived there until right after my sixth birthday, when my parents announced that we were moving to Spain. They began to pack up the house that August. As the stack of boxes in the living room grew, the house became suffused with a quiet excitement. My mother’s smile became brighter, my father’s laugh more frequent. The only one who wasn’t happy was my sister.

Sixteen, and anything but sweet, Sarah was convinced that my parents were trying to ruin her life. When she was home, my mother’s eyes would turn stormy and they would scream at each other so loudly I could still hear them with a pillow pressed over my head. When she was gone, which happened more and more often as the summer went on, I followed my mother from room to room like a kitten tracking a square of sunlight across the floor.

That afternoon, the afternoon Sarah drowned, was clear and sunny and almost hot.


  1. It's good. I know you're starting with backstory, but the writing is tight and I like the voice. The writing reminds me of Sherri Wood Emmons.

  2. I'm intrigued. Good writing, interesting scene set, and maybe I was hooked because having lived near San Fran and loving the area, I have an immediate image in my head. I'd read on.

    If I had to nitpick (and this is hardly a major issue) is the last sentence. Repeating "afternoon" seems a bit clunky. Or maybe it's just a similar phrase to the end of the first paragraph. Anyway, great start!

  3. This page really grabbed me. I like the voice and you describe the characters really well. I know that the sisters are ten years apart and that there are things the narrator witnessed then that she is likely only understanding on looking back. I loved the description of the narrator following her mom like a cat. I also liked the repetition of 'afternoon'in the last line. It worked for me. The whole page did. Thank you.

  4. You do a wonderful job using detail. It's all relevant and impacting. I love the tone and it's immediately interesting. I'd keep reading! One tiny thing: to cut words and make your 1st sentence punchier, and also to avoid starting with an empty phrase like "there are", I might rephrase the first sentence to "I remember two things very clearly from the house on the beach." "Where we lived until I was 6" is told later, and I think it weakens the first sentence. I love your word choice and your characterizations are great, in my opinion. :) Love it!

  5. sad. not something i'd normally read (unless the siter comes back as a ghost :), but a great opening. i'm intrigued despite it not being my cup of tea. loved the line, "...I followed my mother from room to room like a kitten tracking a square of sunlight across the floor." Wonderful imagery.

  6. Hooked after first paragraph - although I think it could be tightened up a bit. This is the kind of book that always appeals to me, so I would keep reading. I like your detail, but there is some repetition. For instance, you mention twice that the narrator lived at ocean house until 6 yrs. Also, when you mention that Sarah was 'gone' in 3rd para, I thought you meant dead. Say another way? Good job. Love the title.

  7. In P2, you mention the MC's mother's smile, the father's laughter, and the sister's unhappiness about the move. What about the MC? How did he/she feel about it? I feel the MC is an observer and not a participant.
    And I don't get a clear mental picture whether the MC is a boy or a girl. Perhaps a girl, since this is Women's Fiction?

    I'd like to know more about the MC before he/she tells of the sister's drowning. Just my opinion.

    I don't understand P3. "When she was home..." "When she was gone..." Do you mean gone, as in after the sister died?

    And if it means the sister was gone from the house "more and more often" during the summer, what does that have to do with the MC following his/her mother from room to room? I like the kitten reference imagery, but this sentence just doesn't make sense to me.

    Also, lots of repetition here.. more and more, room to room, that afternoon, the afternoon.

    Sorry to ramble on. Just trying to help, really. I think with a tiny bit of editing, this opening could be really good.

  8. I like this. You bring us into the story gently, but it makes me want to read more. All teenagers fight with their parents, but it feels like this is different somehow.

    I'm also curious why they're moving to Spain. There's good voice here and I'd keep reading for sure.

  9. I like this a lot. I would keep reading. My only suggestion is to cut the first sentence of the second paragraph after San Francisco. But even that is being very picky.

  10. LOVE the kitten sentence that ends the third paragraph.

    I get the sense that the parents see the move to Spain as a new start, something that will fix or alleviate underlying tension. Nice juxtaposition against a teenager's expected angst at such a big change.

    I'd definitely read on.

  11. I like this, although it starts with backstory. You do repeat the "until I was six" twice in the first two paragraphs - don't think you need to tell us that again. Also, I agree with Katie that you really have the MC as an observer - how did she (he?) feel about the move to Spain? We know she didn't like the shouting, but nothing about how she felt about Sarah either.

    I'd keep reading, though :-)

  12. i like this a lot and want to read more, but the first sentence is a little unwieldy for me. may tighten it. great set up with teenager and international move and i want to see where it goes.
    nitpicks: too many sixes in first page. thought eyes were screaming at each other in 3rd para.

  13. Great opening paragraph. Way to hook me with your third sentence!

  14. I think you'd be better starting with the last sentence, but deleting "That afternoon,"

    Then go into some action instead of all back story...Good topic, though...and I would read more.

  15. I like this. The second paragraph flows well and I like the context it gives, even if it's backstory.

    I think your first 3 lines could work together for a stronger impact. See if you can combine them and remove filler words that aren't adding to it. All the elements are there, it just isn't quite as strong as it could be yet.

    The two things I remembered most about my family's beach house was hearing the ocean's crash against the rocks, and the day my sister drowned.

    Something to this effect. Take what you will from my critique, I think you have a great start.

  16. I know women's fiction can take a little longer to get started, but I still don't know what this is about. They move and her sister drowns but, at this pace, both will be accomplished by the end of the second page. It's nicely written, but I'm not invested in the family or MC. Right now as I look at it, the first paragraph emphasizes the house. I'm having trouble believing the whole story is about a house she only lived in until she was six though.

  17. I think this has a nice opening and reads like solid women's fiction. I think there is a bit of polishing to do but on the whole, it's definitely intriguing. I'm curious to see where this is going. Nice start.