Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #33

GENRE: YA light sci-fi

Mid-May, and it was already hot. And wet. Sweat pasted the few strands of stringy blonde hair that had escaped my ponytail to my damp neck, and I tried not to stir up dust as I walked fast down the old dirt road.

Today was my last day working with Dr. Green, the only large-animal vet in Dabb Creek, and it wasn’t much different from my first. Except on that day it had rained. Stormed more like it, and Doc had said to meet him at Mrs. Blalock’s barn. My boyfriend Jackson and his best friend D’Lo had to tag along, of course. They didn’t think I’d go through with it, and I think even Dr. Green was skeptical, which was why he’d said I’d have to palpate the widow’s best milking cow before he’d agree to make me his assistant.

Palpate. I knew what that meant. Fancy word for sticking your hand up a cow’s backside to see if she’s pregnant. They didn’t think I could do it because I was so little. Years of stretching and drinking milk had only got me up to five-foot tall, but I climbed up on that stool, set my jaw, and plunged right in.

“Make your hand like a wedge, Prentiss.” Dr. Green stood close by me, holding up Elsie’s tail. His man-sized plastic glove went all the way over my shoulder to my neck, and it was slathered in lubricant. It kept me clean, but I was getting the full experience of hot, smelly cow butt.


  1. The voice in this is great. I love the last line. I did notice a few sentences that are pretty long and might work better if cut into two sentences instead.

  2. I also enjoyed the voice, but I think the sentences works well with their length.

    Though, one minor inconsistency threw me off. On a humid day, there likely wouldn't be any dust coming from a dirt road. While it was Prentiss's thoughts that brought it up, it was enough to make me stutter in reading the first line.

    I can't say I was hooked, but this would at least get me to read the next page.

  3. Love the voice. Like it. Good stuff~

  4. You have a good writing style, and I like your voice, but I'm not seeing any hints of sci-fi. I realize it's only the first 250 words, so hopefully you'll get to the sci-fi aspect pretty quickly.

  5. I don't know why this is getting so few comments. I liked it. The voice definitely feels YA ("hot, smelly, cow butt"--ha!), and you do a great job of telling us who your protagonist is through action, rather than simply telling us. I already know Prentiss is determined, interested in large animal veterinary medicine, and has a very rural, unsqueamish sensibility. Well done.

    My only nits to pick are that (a) as David mentioned, a dirt road wouldn't be dusty on a wet day, (b) you introduce a lot of names in the second paragraph, so I might leave Jackson and D'Lo unmentioned until they actually speak up, and (c) this doesn't yet feel like sci-fi to me. That last one isn't really a problem--it's only page one, after all--but if you didn't include a hint at the sci-fi element within the first five pages or so, I might put the book down. As of now, though, I'd gladly keep reading!

  6. I would agree that the voice is excellent. My only complaint is tht the first paragraph kept losing my attention to the point where I had to re-read it three times and force myself to stay focused, but once I got past it I liked where it was going. Great job!

  7. I agree with the comments above that you did introduce alot of your MC in only 250 words, and without 'telling' it. The voice was good, the style was clear, it was a nice read.
    I too would like a hint of sci-fi in the passage, but I know it's not always possible to do in 250 words! Good luck!

  8. I really liked this. I work at an agricultural college and palpated a cow for the first time last year so I totally related and loved the smelly cow butt line!

    I did not find the first paragraph that compelling. Perhaps start with the strongest part of this piece: the story about the cow. In fact, I just read your third paragraph again and I think it would be an AWESOME way to start. Something to consider anyway :)

    Good luck with this and I hope to see this on the shelf some day so I can read about what else Prentiss gets to do!

  9. Ok, I have the grossest image in my head right now LOL. So nice voice and good imagery. I think you could scrap the first paragraph. Starting with the second has more of an impact.

    I also think eliminating a few "had's" in the second paragraph would make the writing more exciting and flow better. ex-Except on that day it rained. ...his best friend D'Lo tagged along, of course.

    You are off to a great start and I am very curious what the light sci-fi elements will be. Good luck!!

  10. I like the writing in this entry, but I have to take the author's word for it that it's light sci-fi (which I like): it's not at all in evidence here. But this is an interesting way to open the story, and I'd read more.