Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's Broken? #6

TITLE: Null City
GENRE: NA Fantasy

Intro: Super powers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. But when forces try to destroy Null City, Gaby, a (technically) dead accountant, teams up with the teenage daughter of the Prince of Hell to protect the City. It just would have been nice if someone told them the only one who can help is Gaby’s ex — the angel she killed.

Gaby glared at the double doors barring entrance to the Presidential Suite. Over the past hour, she'd knocked, called, tried the house phone, and automatically straightened the paintings lining the elegant hallway. Despite muffled voices inside, the brass-bound doors remained closed.

Her brand new employee handbook was clear: missing a client appointment was an excellent way to get fired. But it never mentioned breaking and entering. She'd checked.

Her foot tapped as she weighed options. She could go back and try to explain to the agency. Or give up and take the twins back to Null City. After twenty-four hours there, hellhounds become poodles, demons join the PTA, and a harmonia like Gaby would become... what? She'd promised Dad: no more B&E despite the advantage of her harmonia gifts. But that was before he and Mom died in a war nobody outside Null City ever heard of. Her foot slowed. Sorry, Dad. She pulled out her father's torque wrench and favorite hook pick. Moments later the lock's tumblers hit the shearline with a subtle click.

Didn't break a friggin thing, Dad: I'm just entering. She eased the door ajar a careful half-inch. “Hello?”

“Luic leMuir.” Leaning against the jamb with one arm blocking the doorway, he ignored her outstretched hand.

Don't say it, she admonished her squealing inner-Gaby. He doesn't need to know you have every song he's ever done. Or that you take your showers to the sound of that voice…

Her own voice was an octave higher than normal. “Gabrielle Parker, CPA."

Under her spellbound gaze, one of his eyebrows lifted. “Well, Gabrielle CPA, I wasn’t expecting you to be so …” He deliberately eyed her, from the pale hair pulled back into what she hoped was a sophisticated chignon but suspected was a lot closer to a granny-bun, down her mother's suit which her sister Carey insisted made her look much older, finishing up at her sensible low-heeled pumps.

Her brown eyes narrowed, starry-eyed adulation shriveling before the cooly amused glint in his blue eyes.

“You're an accountant? You look...” His beautiful voice trailed off.

Like someone dressed up in her dead mother's ten-year-old conservative librarian suit, she silently finished for him.

“Are you any good?” Another beat. “At accounting?”

Her chin came up. You think an angel's face and some gold records gives you a be-mean pass?

“Are you any good?” She tilted her head, taking in the long dark hair, mustache and beard, tie-dyed vest over a shirtless chest, and leather pants. “At singing? I couldn’t carry a tune in a paper bag, but I’m the best accountant you’ll ever find.” Shut up, Gaby! She mentally groaned at the vision of the $52.79 balance in her checking account. At this rate, breakfast and lunch weren't the only meals she'd be missing.


  1. How far into the story is this excerpt? I have a lot of questions, but I suppose those answers might have been earlier in the story!

    I like the characterization of both Gaby and the angel! Both personalities come off well. I am a little confused by what's happening in the sequence, though. She heard voices through the door, but the only one standing there (as far as I can tell) is this angelic singer. Maybe it would help if we got a description of what she sees when she opens the door and enters the room? A physical description of him (I'd love to know how we can tell he's an angel) and anyone else who might be there? Or of the phone he just got off?

    Was the door actually locked? Did she try opening it? Does this guy not finding it weird that she just came through a locked door? Um, just some questions. :D

  2. I thought the interaction between Gaby and Luic was great. The mix of insecurity and defiance in Gaby's character makes her very likeable.

    I had trouble buying the set-up, though. I assume there is something before this to explain who Gaby works for and why she was sent to the hotel, because if she's only there to do Luic's taxes, I find it hard to believe that she would wait around for an hour or that she would break into his room. Even if it's her first day on the job, why wouldn't she call her office and tell them what's going on? If she did, and if her boss told her she had to see Luic at all costs, then maybe the B&E would be justified.

    And a minor point: if he's standing right inside the door when she opens it, wouldn't the door hit him?

  3. The voice is great. I love “Her brand new employee handbook was clear: missing a client appointment was an excellent way to get fired. But it never mentioned breaking and entering. She'd checked.” I think you do a great job of showing Gabby’s personality through her actions and dialogue. I also like the interaction between her and Luic. I’d like to know what he looks like sooner though. If she is infatuated with him, wouldn’t she take in everything about him, not just his voice? Also, I’d like to see some sort of reaction to the fact that she just broke into his room. I think it’s a little extreme to break in instead of telling the new boss that the client wouldn’t answer the door. (But I like that about her!) I just think she needs a better reason to do it.

    A tiny thing, she opens the door “a careful half in” but somehow he’s leaning against the door jamb, blocking the door. Does he pull the door open and glare at her? How do they end up face to face?

  4. Great voice! At first I thought this was a first page, but there area lot of things mentioned all of a sudden (twins, Null City, harmonia gifts, parents) that threw me off.

    I liked her dialogue with Luic, but if she knows so much about him, wouldn't she think about him (and what is going on in the suite) before she tries to open the door? The first paragraphs implied this was a random client. The agency would have given her enough details to know who he was. Her inner fan girl would be rocking from the start. And at least debating whether she would be interrupting something she did not want associated with his beautiful voice.

    Good luck!

  5. I really like the interaction between the two characters. The third paragraph is a little too much. if you made that short and more to the point the entire excerpt would make me want to read further. I really want to know what he is thinking when he looks at her!

  6. There are some little bits to pick at, but overall question is one of pacing. When she thinks about how she promised her father no more B&E, that could use some detail about her relationship with her father, or how her harmonia gifts would help with lockpicking. As long as the details are interesting, they won't slow down the story.

    What does slow it down is the description of her "librarian" clothing. Since the clothing is not interesting, you could only mention the details when you have to, such as the pumps when she's entering the suite, or her suit when she sits down.

    For a little comment, since she is the viewpoint character, the scene should not mention her brown eyes. People do not go around thinking what color their eyes are when meeting someone.

  7. Love the opening paragraph. Though the word "automatically" doesn't seem necessary. I would also lose "brand new" on the handbook.

    You lost me in the foot-tap paragraph after the twins sentence--it seems like backstory (I could be wrong).

    And I enjoyed that she was starstruck, but I feel you could cut after his line "You look" to keep the flow.

  8. I had trouble finding anything to critique here, honestly. I'm intrigued and want to read on!

  9. I like the world you created. I want to read more.

    My only issue is with the terminology. I feel you are using jargon a bit too much in the sample text. Example B&E (what is that Breaking and Entering? did I just wander into a Harry Dresden Urban Fantasy?) Would the word "Burglary" work better here and connect with many readers vocabulary sweet spot?

    Also is it necessary to talk about TWO tool types to open the lock instead of one tool that while mysterious in function is less cumbersome to describe?

    It's ok to use MacGuffins but bringing a tool chest of MacGuffins seems overly confusing... unless your name is Alfred of course.


  10. There's not a lot here to complain about. I'm a little confused, but that's because of the lead-in, because this obviously isn't her ex or any of the other characters you mentioned in it.

    She has a strong character which works well with her questionable decisions (Breaking and enter first, think later?), but that's fun. I'm not sure what critique you were looking for: all my questions stem from what THIS scene is supposed to be about, rather than what the lead-in mentions, a short-pitch for your book.