Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Makes You Stronger
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Tori eased down from the truck, careful to keep the weight on her right leg. Even though the bullet wounds had healed, the surrounding muscles and tissues protested when she stayed in one position too long. She was tired of being injured. Sick of being observed. She wanted to be anonymous. To live again. Maybe then the ache would go away.

“You’re expecting too much, Victoria. The wounds, both physical and psychological, are fresh. Give your mind time to absorb and accept it all.”

Hopefully a Montana vacation would push her in the right direction. No one here would demand answers or watch her with questions haunting their eyes.

“Well, howdy there young missy. Welcome to the Silent K. You must be the city gal Margie’s been telling me about.”

Young missy? Howdy? Really? Tori turned and came face to face with a genuine western stereotype.

Grizzled gray hair stuck out from under an old cowboy hat. A handlebar moustache drooped past his chin. His faded denim shirt sported one of those string ties and faded jeans highlighted the most bow-legged legs she’d ever seen. A huge gleaming silver belt buckle – showcasing a bucking bronco no less – set off the entire look to perfection. Wow.

He touched the brim of his hat, “I’m Bo Palmer, ranch foreman”

Tori stuck out her hand, “Nice to meet you Mr. Palmer. I’m Tori Carter. You’ve got a beautiful place here. Makes me feel whole just breathing in the air.”


  1. This is a great start. I think it would be stronger if you worked some of the back story of the first two paragraphs later on in the first scene. Letting us know her old gunshot wound aches as she hops out of the truck is a great glimpse into her past. Intriguing. Leave it at that until we're farther into the book. I'd read on though!

  2. This made me smile. I love your imagery and Tori's thoughts. Hope you continue to do this throughout the story.

    Need a period after "ranch foreman."

    My only suggestion is to give your opening line more punch.

  3. I read, “Well, howdy there young missy. Welcome to the Silent K. You must be the city gal Margie’s been telling me about,” and thought: Oh boy. Here we go with the stereotypes. Then I was so happy your MC recognized it as stereotypical. That was a good twist. Great job!

  4. Great beginning. There's a lot of history and set up given in these few lines. Good job!

  5. I really like the intrigue of the bullet wounds and the MC's sarcasm. I would read on as is, but think the opening would read better via editing out some of the passive voice. Suggestion:
    "Even though the bullet wounds healed, the surrounding muscle tissue protested when she stayed in one position too long. Tired of being injured, sick of being observed, she wanted to remain anonymous."
    Just my two cents ;)

  6. Take this with a grain of salt, but I think I would shift the truck reference down a bit. I immediately wondered which of a hundred types of trucks you might mean, instead of focusing on the injuries (which are quite intriguing and well described).

    I believe “Sick of being observed.” (which is a fragment) should be a phrase at the end of the previous sentence.

    Thoughts are generally either given all in italics and in present tense – first person, or are plain text, described in the same tense and POV as the rest of the narrative (in which case it should be contextually clear what they are). They do not belong in quotes.

    There is no attribution or tag or led in to tell me who is saying “Well, howdy.”

  7. This is good. I like the voice of your MC.

    The italicized thoughts sounded like she was remembering something someone--a doctor?--told her. If so, a reference would be nice. If not, then the thoughts sound a bit formal. Also, I think a lead in before the cowboy's first line would help that transition.

    Good luck!

  8. I'm intrigued. I like her voice and you've given just enough background to make me curious. I would cut the second paragraph, the internal thought isn't necessary. The third paragraph gives us enough and you can always rehash her therapy down the line. I would read more.

  9. I'm sorry but this isn't for me. As soon as I heard the ranchers first words, I was pulled out of the story. Even though she recognizes him as a stereotype, I wouldn't read any farther.

  10. Woo-hoo, cowboy romance! Bring on the hot young studs, or James Garner in "Murphy's Romance", I don't care!

    I like this. But I like romances with an edge to the MC. No helpless females for me, thank you. I like them smart and sassy.

    To make Mr. Literal happy, you could say Tori eased down from the pick-up, assuming it was a pick-up and not a semi. We just assume it's a pick-up by way of context, but if it's a 4WD, it would be higher and even harder for her to get down from. "Tori eased down from the truck, careful to keep the weight on her right leg. It was hard to do, considering the height of the 4WD vehicle."

    "Well, howdy there young missy." Need a comma in there somewhere. After there, I think. Or not. Nah, pretty sure you do.

    I don't mind the western stereotype. Then again, where I live, he's normal.

    I'm fine with the italics. I assume she's remembering something her doctor, counselor, boss or friend said. Bullet wound makes one think law enforcement, so she got shot while on the job?

    This reminds me of classic Jennifer Cruisie so far, and that's a good thing! Keep it up- I want to read more!

  11. I think you could tone down the stereotype of the rancher a bit without losing the effect. Unless the dude is an actor and he's supposed to talk and act that way.

    I just didn't connect. Sorry.

  12. The rancher was a turn off for me. I know she recognizes the stereotype and it's being played up, but it lost me there. Otherwise, the fact that she was shot would have hooked me.

  13. Tori's pov is definitely the attraction here. After I read Bo's dialogue I was ready to roll my eyes...but so was Tori. That's a great device to establish a relationship between the character and the reader. As for the opening paragraph, it drew me in with questions about her injury. That stated, I think there still some work needed here. Perhaps adding a bit more of Tori's character or backstory, or have her react to her journey to get to the ranch may help. Your description of Bo was nicely done.