Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #18

GENRE: YA Contemporary

I'm a "friggin' miracle."

My dad says so twice tonight. First, as I pin white stephanotis blossoms to the lapel of his tuxedo, then at the reception during our less traditional father-daughter dance. It's his wedding day, not mine.

In Dad's mind, my craptastic lungs, toothpick frame and piss-poor immune system make me miraculous. In reality, they're symptoms of cystic fibrosis. My body produces thicker mucus than normal. So I get sick. A lot. And I'll probably die before I'm thirty.

Miracle, my a**.

For now, I pluck a gazillion bobby pins out of Angela's hair. Blonde curls tumble down the back of her white linen suit. She does a final makeup check in the honeymoon suite's fancy-pants mirror before we head back to the reception for the happy couple's grand exit. There are rumors of a confetti cannon. Dad likes to put on a good show.

“Skylar, you're absolutely sure you won’t come to Mexico?” Angela asks.

Not this again. “You guys deserve a real honeymoon. Just take a ton of pictures, okay?”

She nods, bottle-green eyes radiant; like she still can’t believe they finally tied the knot after ten years. I'm so stoked for her. For all three of us.

“Let’s go, Mrs. Benson.” I dab a tear from beneath her eye before it smudges her flawless makeup. “Your husband is waiting for you.”

We race to the elevators.

Dad shakes his shaggy hair out of his eyes, revealing gaping holes in his earlobes where fire-engine-red, ten millimeter gauges usually reside.


  1. Great sense of character right away in this opening! Both the narrator and her father really shine through. I love how much we learn about them in just 250 words. The only line that threw me a bit was, "I'm so stoked for her." Because the narrator had sounded bitter earlier ("Miracle my ass, not this again," I at first read the line as sarcastic. It's sweet that it's sincere and she's truly happy for all of them, so yeah... just an observation that the line can be misread at first.

    Other than that--really love this! Great sense of character and I'm already invested in the MC's situation and would read on.

  2. I love your voice, especially the line about the confetti cannon--hilarious, plus it really gave me a good sense of who Skylar is.

    Like G.B. Skye, the "I'm so stoked for her" line did throw me at first. I wonder if you could reword somehow to make it clear that though Skylar tends to be sarcastic, this really is sincere. I also wonder how Skylar feels about her dad and Angela going to Mexico without her. Clearly she doesn't want to interfere with their honeymoon, but is she worried about being on her own for a while given her health problems? Or maybe excited to finally be on her own for a bit when her dad has always kept her close?

  3. This one is tricky for me because I immediately found it hard to get John Green's Fault in Our Stars out of my head. I find myself holding you to a much higher standard because of it... Trying to separate all that out, I did like this and aside from the already mentioned edits I don't have a lot. I think you might just want to tweak the very first line because it reads like the dad is saying HE is a frigging miracle, not the teen protagonist. Also, the gauges in the dad's ears really threw me but I assume you're about to say more about that after where we had to be cut off.

  4. The first four pargs are back story. It’s your MC explaining things to the reader, (who doesn’t exist in your character’s world. The MC shouldn’t be talking to the reader in first person present) Perhaps cut that and show she has Cystic Fibrosis some other way.

    The rest is done well, and I liked the fact that she actually likes her step-mom, but there’s no hint of a problem unless it’s just ‘my life with CF,’ so there’s no sense of where this is going. I’d give it a bit more time, hoping to get there.

  5. It's super refreshing that Skylar is happy about her father's second marriage--too often a main character resents/dislikes the soon-to-be-stepmother.

    This is just an opinion, but I feel like you break out the knockout punch too early--the line about dying before she's thirty. I almost feel like it would be better to build some equity with the character before dropping that piece of information.

    But I like the voice and the character, so I would keep reading.

  6. Why would we think it's her wedding day? That was my first thought, but upon rereading I realized it was referring to the "less traditional" dance. Unfortunately, there's a lot of confusion about what is happening when and why, and it only gets more so as the text progresses.

    Also, if you're going to swear, type out the words, if not, go with the fake swearing like you do with "craptastic." From the narrative, the mc comes across as bitter and trying to be edgy, so unless she's purposely waffling on swearing—trying to be rebellious but it's not really who she is—I'd suggest sticking with one or the other.

  7. Respectfully, the ** were added by Authoress. My manuscript said the word when I sent it in. It was censored for the blog.

    Thank you for your feedback!

  8. Ah. My apologies. Comment retracted. :)

  9. This reads easily and comes alive very well, nice work. The only things I didn't like were the somewhat heavy-handed description of her illness, which jarred to me. Perhaps just say that she's sick in a more vague way and get to details later on? And also I'm not sure I like your first line, perhaps rework the first two paras a little. Good luck!

  10. I really like your writing and the voice here. Great introduction to the MC, her dad and new stepmom IMO. The only thing that threw me was the "I'm so stoked" line that others mentioned. It seems at odds with the attitude/mood of the rest, and then I realized that I'm not really sure what the overall emotional tone is supposed to be. What is the MC feeling about all of this? IMO if you sharpen that, this will work really well. Just my opinion of course.

  11. Want to add that I respectfully disagree with Girl Friday's comment. I like the description of the illness.

  12. I would keep reading to see where this is going. I agree with the others that there were some mixed signals as to how she felt about her dad's wedding and the honeymoon invite. Her thoughts/feelings need to be clearer and more consistent for the reader.