Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #44

TITLE: Feathers of Blood
GENRE: YA Dark Comedy

Beware the kitchen stairs.

Who knew chicken poop was slippery as grease? Hitting a clump of the green-grey goo on the last stair, my feet shot out from under me and I landed flat on my backside.

“Oh my goodness,” Aunt Agnes said looking down at me. “Are you all right? I’m so sorry! Murfee don’t rinse his boots like he’s supposed to – the stairs do get slippery. Company never uses the kitchen stairs. We ain’t used to visitors, but it is nice to have you here, sweetheart.”

Speechless, I stared up at her gentle smile.

“Murfee!” She hollered when the front porch door slammed shut, rattling me and the rickety kitchen cupboards of the ancient farmhouse. “You got to rinse your boots off! Poor Charlie slipped on the stairs.”

"Don’t care!” Uncle Murfee’s raspy voice echoed down the hallway. “Yer damn rooster ain't back yet! If he don't come in, I ain't fetchin' him!"

"Murfee, you know where he is ..."

"I ain't go'in git him, if that's what yer mean! That hill is cursed. They had no business diggin' up them bones!"

"Don't be silly. There's no curse. The Town had every right to relocate those graves. Just because you don't want a mall across the street doesn't mean the land is cursed."

"Well, I ain't go’in after him. Don't care what ya say! Ain't even got grass growin' over there ... what's that dang bird eating, huh? There's evil over there. Evil!"

Yup, I was in Hell.


  1. I love dark comedy, but I'm not seeing that on your first page. I realize that not everything needs to be shown so quickly, but when I pick up what is supposed to be dark comedy and get gross slap-stick, I'm not as inclined to keep reading. If the novel truly is dark comedy, then make sure it's consistent from the first page.

    Another thing was the dialogue. Some people are okay with heavy dialogue on the first page, but I prefer to get settled into the scene before there's a lot of talking.

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  3. Well, I liked it. Don't really know the definition of dark comedy. I think you have foreshadowed
    something ominous.

    My only concern is the words with all the apostrophes, I think you should probably limit Uncle's language to one or two. Too many can make for a difficult read.

    I would keep reading. I loved it.

  4. I'm liking this.

    The setup is laid out right there for us, and all of us fans of comedy horror know right away what digging up that dang cursed graveyard will mean.

    I'll bet that rooster is going to be a real problem later on.

    The dialect is okay as far as I'm concerned, but you're talking to somebody who just finished some Mark Twain and George MacDonald, so maybe my personal bar is a bit high.

    Make sure it's consistently used. A lot of authors tend to "drift" on dialect, with characters losing and regaining it.

  5. I found the phrase "rinse your boots off" odd. I have chickens and I would wipe my boots before I came inside, not rinse them (actually I'd personally take then off, but that's not the point).

    Also, generally if the chickens don't come in on dark it's because they have become fox fodder - so I find it odd that the uncle would suggest that the rooster is still up at the hill eating something untoward because that is not normal chicken behaviour. My dog might be over at the hill eating all sorts of horrid things - but not the rooster.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't find this opening realistic and I probably wouldn't read on because of it.

  6. I like it. It's different for YA. I also like it that the main character seems to be taking things ok, even though the situation seems not ideal for her - I've never liked whiny characters - even if they change, I hate spending too much time with them before they change.

    Anyway, you had me at curses and bones. I'd read on.

  7. While I liked it, I wasn't completely hooked, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's because I'm immediately immersed in conversation without knowing who, what, or where I am...there's nothing to to place me. Though I like the premise of curses and bones!

  8. I really liked your opening page. It's funny, and I liked getting a feel for the "folksy" characters. I think you've done a good job with the dialect- not an easy thing to do. And my interest is definitely piqued at the mention of relocated graves. I'd definitely read on!

  9. Hi author - Curses are always a good hook.

    For what it's worth, I've been told that using accents in dialogue is a no-no these days. It makes it more difficult to read (but not impossible) and makes characters sound like they're both uneducated and stupid. This is seen to demean whichever sub-culture you're portraying.

    But I'm no expert.

  10. The voice and dialect is great. I don't think you should change that despite what some comments said.

    It might just be me, but it seems like a lot of the last few lines of dialogue is used for info-dumping. I don't know if you should say so early why the hill is cursed. Just slowly reveal that it is.

    Good luck!

  11. While the interaction between Agnes and Murfee is amusing, I'd like to know a bit more about Charlie in these first couple hundred words. The poor guy barely gets a word in, and I assume he's our MC, so I'd like to meet him.

    My other concern is that the dialogue feels a bit heavy on foreboding exposition with the cursed hill and digging up bones. Could Agnes and Murfee wait a bit before bringing this business up for us to ponder? It feels rushed, when I'd rather meet the characters and familiarize myself with the setting.