Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #10

TITLE: The New Eden Chronicles
GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction

Theresa’s a kicker. Mama and I struggle to hold her down so the medics can find a vein and fill a vial with her blood. I feel like a monster, wrestling down a seven-year-old while her hot-poker screams skewer the space between my ears. But once the needle’s in, the thrashing subsides and her hazel eyes glaze over. The thin red stream shooting up into the glass is beautiful. As we let her go, I tap the back of the chair where she sits four times so the results will be negative. Theresa scowls then stalks off. In a few minutes, she’ll be bragging to everyone about her ordeal.

Just 12, Sarah would rather die than act like a baby. She practically jumps into the chair, though her arm quivers. She closes her eyes and turns away, her lips mashed together as the needle finds its mark. When the medic caps the full vial, she beams in that self-satisfied way she’s adopted. Four-year-old Rachel doesn’t understand enough to be afraid. We promise sweet treats and a new dress for her ragdoll if she’ll behave—it works like a charm. In his cradle nearby, David sleeps through the commotion, too young to be tested. Because I’m 16, I’m past the danger zone. To my siblings’ disappointment, there’s no big sharp needle for me.

Josh’s blood is the last to be collected. His calm amazes me. Instead of looking away or crying, like most 10-year-olds would, he watches the medics with curiosity.


  1. I liked the beginning, it's a little bit creepy (in a good way!) and the bit about the MC tapping the chair makes me wonder, and want to know more.

    However, I think I would have preferred if you expanded a little bit on the MC before talking about her other siblings(?). It became a little bit drawn out, like a list? You've piqued my interest in the beginning, but then I was skimming the information about the other siblings.

  2. Oh yes, give me more!

    Love the opening, love her little ritual of tapping 4 times. Great voice. There is an underlying tension that belies the MC's calmness, and I need to find out what is causing it.

    Well done!

  3. I would definitely read more, but I agree that I want more of the MC, and more of the problem of the novel almost right away. Why keep the conceit of the novel hidden? Why not just say what they are testing for (even if you don't fully explain what it is until later).

    Tied into what Sescha was saying, I feel like this happens too fast. Everything sprints forward without letting me really get a handle on what's going on. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't even have scenery to imagine. Other than the chair (at first I thought they were wrestling her to the ground) I have no idea where they are -- a hospital, a home, the front yard -- and no idea really what people look like. I think you should give the scene room to breathe.

  4. I'd like to read more! This is quite good.

    I'm a tad confused when she taps the chair four times. I assume it's for luck, but for all I know now positive is good.

    250 words just isn't enough...

  5. This is an interesting beginning, and I like the first para, although I had to read the bit about tapping the chair a couple of times to understand what you meant, so maybe add a word or two to clarify. The problem is that it then degenerates into character soup. Does the family really need to have six children? And if it does, do we need to be introduced to them all at once, like a list? It was just too much for me, for a first page. The writing is fine and the premise seems interesting, but I'm afraid the deluge of people put me off.

  6. I wasn't even going to read this, but your first lines grabbed me. Wow, this is creepy in a good way.

    I love your word choices.

    Only one suggestion: make the last line a better hook.

  7. I agree the story starts with an intriguing hook that should draw me in, but yet it didn't. The main problem I had with this opening is the voice does not feel like a teenager is talking. Announcing everyone's age and referring to them as siblings felt like a mom talking, not a sister. I think you need to substitute more teenage-style descriptions / observations of these brothers and sisters to set the voice of the novel.

  8. I very much like the first paragraph. We are right away thrust into the action there. And this is great: "...her hot-poker screams skewer the space between my ears."

    I do wonder if you should try and find a way to introduce all these characters/siblings differently, more organically. I felt like one after the other was coming at me and do we really need to meet all of them in the first 250 word? I would also have enjoyed a hint of the setting...are they in a hospital? A makeshift clinic?

    Good luck with this.

  9. Very nice! I get a great sense of this family, and you show us who they are instead of giving us physical descriptions.

    Just one suggestion - I tap the back of the chair where she sits four times so the results will be negative. Perhaps change it to – I tap four times on the chair where she sits . . . . – only because I stumbled over the sentence, wondering why would she sit there four times.

    Loved the ‘hot-poker screams skewer!’ Nicely done!

  10. I love the premise. I'd read a bit further.