Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Mending Heartstrings
GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Kane walked out of the private back room of Nashville’s Fiddle and Steel and headed straight for the bar. Every so often, he’d still try out his new material at their open mic nights. But tonight, the initially warm reception of the regulars had fizzled out as he played. They hadn’t really responded to any of his three songs. He needed a beer.

A couple of the regulars greeted him, and Kane paused to exchange pleasantries. The laid-back atmosphere of the bar put everyone at ease, which was a huge part of the reason Kane tried out his music here. The locals who knew him weren’t intimidated by his relative fame, and he wasn’t a big enough deal yet for the occasional tourist to recognize him.

When he finally reached the bar, he flagged down Cody, tearing the younger man away from a pretty brunette who was probably underage. He greeted Kane with a subtle lift of the chin.

“How’s it going, man?” Kane asked.

“Just got better,” Cody answered, looking over Kane’s shoulder.

Kane followed his gaze to a group of girls who’d just walked in but turned back after barely a moment. They hadn’t heard his failed songs, so maybe one of them would be up for some fun later. First, though, he really did want that beer. “Get your mind back to your work, boy,” Kane scolded with a smile.

Cody’s mama hadn’t raised an idiot. “You just want them for yourself.”

Kane grinned. “It’s no competition.”


  1. I was interested in what I read until the girls entered the bar. Somehow something shifted for me. I'm not sure. I wanted something else...the girls maybe a bit later.

  2. Living in Nashville, I was intrigued by the opening hook. I wan't totally sold on his comment about the girls being up for fun later after he quickly turned away. I would have thought he would stare at them more.
    Being married to a musician, I think that though he would be down a bit by the reception he received on his songs, he wouldn't count that as a reason girls wouldn't be into him. Girls trolling bars on Broadway rarely notice if a song has gone over well or not. They tend to be starry-eyed at any of the performers on stage, regardless of their ability.

    Just my humble observations.

  3. I'm having a hard time getting engaged in this - I think it's because I can't get a sense for what the main character is feeling and wanting. Whether he's upset about his music failing, or if he's more worried that a girl will see his music fail and he won't get laid.

    Over all, it's well written and the dialogue flows, I think it's just lacking emotion.

  4. I feel like the explanation of the crowd not responding to his three songs just slows down the writing. Just saying it had fizzled out and that he needed a beer tells us all we need to know.

    While I like the friendly parry and riposte, I think there could be a stronger line than "Get your mind back to your work, boy." Maybe something about them being a little bit old for him or something.

    Speaking of age, I definitely was thrown off by him mentioning the underage girl, then looking to a (supposedly) different group of girls and thinking about having a go with them. I got confused and thought initially he was going after a group of underage girls. Definitely needs some clarification.

    Would read a bit more.

  5. Yay contemporary romance! I like how the first paragraph immediately sets the scene. The only thing not needed is that last line about needing a beer, because we already know he's heading to the bar, and the reader can infer he needs a beer after no one responded to his songs.

    The line "paused to exchange pleasantries" feels dated to me; unless this is a much older man, then maybe. Just taking that out makes the pace read more smoothly; a couple regulars greeted him. He liked the laid back atmosphere, etc.

    For pacing, I would also suggest taking out "when he finally reached the bar." Was it a long walk? I don't think we need to know that. Just: He flagged down Cody, then maybe show what he orders or something.

    I also agree about the girls line feeling a little off. I'm with this guy on feeling dejected after his songs don't go over well. Now he sounds like a skeeze wanting to have some fun later. He might want exactly that, but maybe showing him notice a girls legs with a miniskirt and cowboy boots (Nashville staple) will show us that without hitting us over the head with it. A little more subtle. Also, we already know he wants the beer, I would cut that last reference unless it's important to dwell on the fact he doesn't yet have it.

    I'm a sucker for a good contemporary romance, I like the Nashville setting and the failed musician looking for love. I would watch to make sure your character continues to be relatable on that first page.

  6. I didn't think there was a lot here. A guy in a bar picking up girls. Perhaps try to get in some tension or at least get the hook on the page. This doesn't leave me asking any questions.


  7. Nice voice and very smooth, commercial writing. It would be nice to see more of a sense of Kane’s connection to his music, and why the lukewarm reaction of the bar patrons bothers him so much, otherwise he comes off as a bit of a jerk.

  8. Thank you, everyone, for your feedback!