Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #42

TITLE: Crossing Lau Dai La
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Dragonfly fairies fluttered through Linh’s mind.

Linh pictured them making her house as beautiful as Vietnam’s ancient imperial palace. Jade dragon statues and yellowish-red doors would glitter a welcome to each room instead of the mismatched junk cluttering their home. The fairies could even teach her tricks with bamboo sticks and help them grow a bamboo grove in un-sunny Dublin—until Mom snapped off her thoughts one evening.

“Are you listening to me?” Her voice was stern.

Linh blinked as the mental movie dissolved. She scanned the drab living room No fairies. Oops. “Uhhh—”

“You’ve been daydreaming.” Mom shook her head. “I have to go to work now.”

Linh’s insides churned. She grabbed Mom’s arm. “No, don’t leave! Can you not work at night like you used to?”

Tears sprung from the corner of Mom’s eyes. “ Con oi, I can’t lose my job, or I won’t be able to make your favorite pho.” Her voice cracked. “Who’ll make it for you if I don’t work?”

Linh nodded, mouth tightening. The tip of her bangs dipped into her eyes. “No one but you, Mom.”

Brushing her bangs aside, Mom kissed her on her forehead. “I’ll be back from the restaurant soon. Just heat up pho in the microwave for supper, okay?”

Linh said yes, and Mom left the house. The car engine roared on the driveway. Linh swallowed and looked at her feet.

Eeek! Eeek! Small peeps came from the walls.


  1. Vietnam and Dublin. You've got a really interesting multi-cultural twist here. I know that because I've read your query.There is something delicate and poignant - a strange girl in a strange land in a lonely house. You're capturing it but I'm not sure if her daydreaming is the best way to start. I'm thinking there should be something more concrete - like if there are really dragonfly fairies in her house maybe have her hiding one, trying to control it before her mother sees. Random ideas there. Thanks for this, it's very original.

  2. The multicultural aspect is wonderful and you have really made me feel for Linh and her mother.

    I'm glad you got the sound in the wall in before 250, too. You've left me guessing.

    Good luck!

  3. I am also intrigued by the cultural mix in this. Linh sounds like an interesting character and I would read on to see how the fantasy element develops.

    The dialogue sounded a little stilted to me. Was this intended to reflect Vietnamese speech patterns?

    It would be nice to have some clue as to why Linh doesn't want her mother to leave, but I realize you can't do everything in 250 words.

    Good luck!

  4. Like what I'm reading here. Love the mult-cultural element. And will we see a mix of Irish and Vietnamese fairies or fantasy? I'm hooked, especially with the sounds in the walls. (Even though I'm wondering if it's just rats/mice...that would make me cling to my mom's arm and beg her to stay home!!!)

  5. I liked this. Something different. I'm not sure where its going, but I'm willing to see, so I would certainly read on! Nice work!

  6. I love this idea of Linh being in Dublin but not liking it and wishing she was somewhere else. I was confused though but the dialogue and what was happening. Of course it is only a small section and maybe if I kept reading it would be clear.
    Good luck.

  7. Both Ireland and Vietnam have a rich cultural tradition of faeries and magic, so I'm interested to see where this goes.

    I stumbled on the line "can you not work at night like you used to?" The negative phrasing makes it ambiguous. Did she mean "Can you stay home at night like you used to?" or "Can't you work at night like you used to?"... although I can guess at her actual meaning.

    Otherwise, good job!

  8. I felt this was a little choppy. It feels like you are telling and not quite showing what's going on. i.e. "Are you listenting to me?" Her voice was stern...Using body language, rather than telling us her mom's tone would be better. Showing vs. Telling is one of the hardest things to master, in my opinion :) The dialect didnt' seem to be consistent - the mom's dialect seems normal, but Linh's seems more cultural ("Can you not work at night...") I would think the mother would have a stronger cultural dialect than her child, but with only 250 words, I'm not sure of their background. You also missed a period ( . ) at the end of room 'She scanned the drab living room No fairies.' Make sure you check and recheck your grammar and punctuation. With a little tweeking, this could be quite a magical story. Best of luck!

  9. I agree with a poster above that this seemed a little choppy.

    A suggestion for your first line: Remove the first sentence, and make the now-second sentence first:

    "Lihn pictured dragonfly fairies making her house as beautiful as Vietnam's ancient imperial palace."

    It seems as though you've spent a lot of time making this a beautiful story. Good luck!

  10. Agree with liking the multiculural aspect. I'd love to see how you pull this off. Its clear you have a command of the culture. I feel like I'm really there.

    Also agree, that maybe the daydreaming isn't the best way to start it off. Of the suggestions, I like the idea of her hiding the fairies from Mom.

    Speaking of Mom, the character goes from stern to crying to affectionate awfully fast. I think poor's Linh's head would be spinning.

    There's a minor typo in the fourth paragraph " She scanned the drab living room No fairies. " Just needs some punctuation.

    You've got a really unique story here, something that I think will stand out from the crowd. I hope you have great success with it.

  11. I agree, the cultural mix is different and could be interesting, but it’s a bit melodramatic for me. Agree with Samantha’s suggestion about the first line. Then end the 1st para with “…grove in un-sunny Dublin.”

    In a new para, skip to: “'Are you listening to me?' Mom’s voice snapped Linh out of her thoughts. The vision of her beautiful house dissolved.” Then Mom: “You’ve been daydreaming again.” Although why should that matter? Is there something Linh is supposed to be doing while Mom’s at work? And if Mom’s not working at night anymore, is this daytime? Why isn’t Linh in school? The reference to heating up supper (I’d love to know what pho is) suggests this is evening, but the “at night” confused me.
    I think we need a hint earlier of why Linh is scared. And to know that it’s the first evening of Mom’s new schedule. Otherwise, all the emotion doesn’t make sense.

    Knowing this a fantasy set in Ireland, I’m pretty sure the “Eeks” aren’t coming from mice. ;) Good luck!

  12. This opening has some potential, but will be stronger if you make your character introductions more consistent. Linh's mother seems to run hot and cold--stern one moment, loving and tender the next. Why is she so angry that Linh has been daydreaming? And why is Linh so desperate for her mother to stay, if she'd rather fantasize than listen to her?

    I do like how you transition from Vietnam to Dublin--it's a nice, natural shift, easily illustrating why Linh might prefer to daydream than consider her actual surroundings.