Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #34

TITLE: Elemental Fire
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Fantasy

The bay mare tied to the rail drove away that nagging inner voice that waged a war between blame and guilt. She allowed me to forget … me. Vienna nickered as I scrubbed the winter coat from her body, leaving it slightly more prepared for the eventual hot and sticky western New York summer.

As her shedding coat flew in the spring breeze, so did the ache in my heart. My lips almost curled into a smile as she jostled my elbow, as eager to ride, to thunder across the countryside as I was.

“Hey! A little patience, maybe?” I lifted my ancient saddle onto her back and for once, she didn’t sidestep. Maybe we had made progress. Vienna was my first horse and while no one would describe her as well-trained, I loved her Arabian beauty and the dreams she’d fulfilled. Desires whispered to my mother at bedtime. Vienna became my fourteenth birthday present to myself. My only present. Happy Birthday, Brook.

I pressed my forehead against Vienna’s, determined to focus on her and the present, not the pain that had gnawed at my insides since that December day four months ago. My hand wound through her thick mane and found her favorite itchy spot. She leaned into my hand while her lower lip quivered. Nothing else mattered for a glorious minute.

Guilt and anger fell away as I settled into the too-big saddle. Vienna claimed my attention, prancing down the driveway, ignoring all but the sharpest tugs on the reins.


  1. I love this. It's a very excellent slice of a moment, but I feel like this is moving slowly. I like it, don't misunderstand that, but I think it could be shortened. I kept expecting an explanation of the guilt and anger, but it never came. I don't know about other people, but I find it hard to empathize with someone suffering emotionally without knowing the events behind that suffering. I do wonder about the circumstances of her buying a horse for her 14th birthday, but I don't know how old she is now, so I don't know what sort of bond she should have with her horse.
    I'm curious, and curious enough to read on. Good job.

  2. Agree with Rena. I'd almost like to see your MC and her horse galloping across the fields (instead of describing the desire to do so) - apparently, your MC's relationship with the horse is going to become a theme (hopefully).

  3. The main thing I was thinking as I read this was when is this happening? Is it modern day? How long has it been since her fourteenth birthday? You present some good questions by referencing her guilt, but for me, I'd like to feel more grounded in the scene.

    Good luck to you! :)

  4. Not a lot happens here. The MC's feeling bad about something in the past, then rides off on her horse. Perhaps say what that something is. Not knowing isn't the hook that will draw people in. It's knowing what happened, and then wondering how and why.

  5. I felt like the horse was overdone in this opening. She loves her horse and finds release - that's great, but I got it in the first couple of mentions and then it got repetitive.

    The mention of four months ago doesn't tell me anything that would encourage me to read on.

  6. The opening sentence really confused me and took more than one re-reading to completely grasp whether the horse was literally or figuratively drove something away. With the way it was phrased as well, I originally thought it had something to railroads ("mare tied to the rail drove away")

    As it is, the text is too vague, which makes it hard to know what's really going on. It comes across as flowery and not just descriptive.