Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Unsurrendered
GENRE: Upmarket Women's Fiction

I fought my soul’s toughest battles within earshot of the strangers who knew me best. Smiling for the cameras, pretending to be some rock ‘n’ roll bad a** – it’s an empty endeavor when you’re frozen on the inside. Some days I wondered how I pulled off being Heather Montgomery when I felt so removed from myself.

It’s not that I didn’t like the job. Hell, there’s a lot to be said about the mind-blowing ecstasy you feel while delivering aural sex to a sold-out arena of screaming fans. But I spent a lot of long nights on the tour bus agonizing over the secrets my nightmares and drunken ramblings might reveal. It wore my patience as thin as the denim on the a** of a farmer’s jeans.

And Dave Vacanti did little to set me at ease. He sat across from me, guitar in hand, eyeing the magazine on the table. His voice sounded hoarse when he asked, “Aren’t you even gonna read it?”

I didn’t need to. The bold, block letters on the cover screamed at me: HEATHER’S MARRIAGE A SHAM! Beneath them, a candid photo showed me rushing through London’s Heathrow Airport with my son, a curly-haired preschooler, in tow. He looked exhausted, on the verge of a meltdown. My husband lagged at least three steps behind. And my scowl and unkempt mop of curls made me look like Joan Crawford’s red-headed stepchild. I could pretty much guess what kinds of lies were printed inside.

Reporters. Sons of bitches. Every one of them.


13 comments:

  1. I'd get rid of one of your a** references. Otherwise the prose works well.

    From this scene I get the idea that this character's got a secret she won't share with friends, and yet she's in the tabloids. This can't end well, and I'd kind of like to see it.

    Good job.

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  2. I LOVE your first line! The phrase "strangers who knew me best" gives a poignant impression of the loneliness that is fame. I would keep reading just because of this line.

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  3. You start with a paragraph that makes me want to continue. Set up and description are good. I can imagine the picture accompanying the headline. Well done.

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  4. I think your story starts here: I didn’t need to. The bold, block letters on the cover screamed at me: HEATHER’S MARRIAGE A SHAM! Beneath them, a candid photo showed me rushing through London’s Heathrow Airport with my son, a curly-haired preschooler, in tow. He looked exhausted, on the verge of a meltdown. My husband lagged at least three steps behind. And my scowl and unkempt mop of curls made me look like Joan Crawford’s red-headed stepchild. I could pretty much guess what kinds of lies were printed inside.

    Reporters. Sons of bitches. Every one of them.

    The rest is back story. But, what is MC's goal/conflict? I'd like to hear more about that.

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  5. I like the voice here and would keep reading. My continued reading is based, however, on the assumption that her big secret isn't that her marriage is a shame, which is possible what the end of this excerpt implies.

    I love that last line, though, and that alone would keep me reading.

    Question: Why does Dave get a full name here? If he's a friend, why wouldn't she just refer to him as Dave?

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  6. This is an interesting premise. I would keep reading for at least a few more pages to see where it goes. And the writing is solid.

    I agree with fictionwriter, though: start with the tabloids. Or maybe jump from your current first sentence straight to the tabloids. There was nothing wrong with the way the first three paragraphs were written; they just don't seem necessary.

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  7. Author of this PieceApril 25, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate your thoughts.

    Bridget - Yes, that. :-)

    Teresa - Thank you!

    Andrew - Your assumption is correct about her secret. Her marriage is not a sham, and I included Dave's last name because it felt right. But I wouldn't be opposed to changing it.

    fictionwriter & Rebecca - I originally wrote the opening scene like this and then changed it because I thought the same thing.

    But both my crit partners and I all ended up hating it with a passion because it changed the entire perception of Heather's mood/temperament throughout the rest of the scene. When the scene is written without the first couple of paragraphs, it feels as if Heather is just hating on the tabloids because they are making her look bad. You don't get the sense that she has something more to hide without the prose feeling forced.

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  8. After reading the author's comments I will not agree with the the other comments to start with the tabloid. If this is how the story starts, I can accept it. I found the MC to be non-sympathetic (so far). If this was not your intent, I would add some tiny sign of humanity in her.
    I would read on.

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  9. I agree that the voice is great and the subject matter very compelling because we all wonder about the secret lives of celebrities, especially the ones the gossip magazines constantly report on.

    Two questions for you, though:

    1) Why use a** if you're going to later say bitches? I'd either make the choice to swear, or leave the language out. Felt very off to be bleeping language in a manuscript. (Or was that done by the automated bot?)

    2) What is aural sex? The reader needs a bit more context on that one. I can't decide if she's a legit performer, who feels like she's pimping herself out on the stage, or if she actually is pimping herself out via some futuristic mind sex. Either would be interesting, but I'd need to know which it is.

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  10. Author of this PieceApril 25, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Jennifer - The bot replaced the letters. I laughed a little when I saw that. :-)

    Aural, by definition, is anything related to auditory and hearing. The MC is a musician.

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  11. The behind the scenes life of a rock star could be really interesting, and you had me with that first parg., but after that, nothing happens. She talks and talks and talks.

    Instead of having her go on and on, put her in that situation you opened with. Have her walk away from the cameras and get on her tour bus. Have her flop down exhausted in a chair and have Dave slap that newspaper down in front of her. Show what is happening to this woman rather than telling it, and that same scene will improve tremendously.

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  12. I loved "aural sex". :) But I'm also a musician. So...

    I agreed with fictionwriter and Rebecca, but I can see where you are coming from with the perception of the MC. Hmm...

    Regardless, I enjoyed this one and would read on.

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  13. I'd like a little more scene-setting rather than telling, but you do have a strong voice. That's good. The Joan Crawford reference dates your MC, though, making her seem older than she should be.so

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