Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Burning for You
GENRE: Romantic Suspense / Thriller

Waiting made him antsy, as if someone cracked a stick against his cage all night long.

Face slick with sweat, Sheriff Adam McClelland paced, wanting badly to end this call. Any vacuum in his crazy-ass schedule allowed him to think, and he didn’t want to think.

Might as well keep his hands busy. He withdrew a cigar from his pocket and lit it, his one-per-day indulgence. He exhaled smoke, his gaze roaming over the barn, garage, shed and his patrol SUV on the gravel drive. Tranquil here. Moonlight filtered through the canopy of shade trees, while Mexican music floated in the humid air. Corn stalks rimmed the property like chlorophyll walls. Make that godforsaken tranquil. Isolated. Old man Grayson might as well live on the outer ring of Saturn.

When the screen door clapped behind him, he jumped.

“Um, sorry to keep you waiting.” The old man trudged across the parched front yard, a quaver in his voice. “Didn’t expect that phone call.”

“Bad news?”

“Naw.” Sam tugged at his collar. “Someone who always wants money.”


Sam laughed, loosening up. Although he lived modestly, Sam Grayson defined ‘easy mark.’ Whether church ladies looking for donations or kids peddling fundraiser candy bars, first door they knocked on was Sam’s.

Adam got down to business. “There’s some minor damage to the front bumper. Likely won’t meet her deductible, though. Maria couldn’t get a read on who tried to run her off the road, no plates, no car make or model.”


  1. I like this excerpt. Active writing and lots of sensory details. But I'm a little lost. I realize this is only the first page, but I had to read it twice to try to figure out who is who.

  2. I agree with seaaircarol that it took a little effort to orient myself to who was speaking. But I thought your use of figurative language was very well done. Loved the opening simile.

  3. this was an interesting read for me- although I fear for where it may lead. Will this be another help-me-find-out-who-dun-it-while-we-fall-in-love story?

  4. Loved it, except for the first line. It sounds like the main character actually spends time in a cage of some sort at night. But next line tells us this is the sheriff. Rewrite a tad and you've hooked me completely.

    I really loved "godforsaken tranquil." Elegantly explains both the main character and the setting.

  5. I like the set-up and the descriptions. I also enjoyed the characters thus far and would like to see where you go with this.

  6. I really enjoyed this entry. I agree with the 'cage' comment. It made me stop and reread. The rest had me hooked. I wasn't confused wit the dialogue, and the ending hook made we want to read on and find out who Maria was and why someone wanted to run her off the road.

  7. I'm confused by what's happening, but like some of your descriptions.

  8. I don't understand why Adam is so antsy about waiting on Sam. I like the feel of the scene, even Sam when he comes out and the two of them talk, but the whole why didn't make any sense. It seemed like it might be something deathly serious, like he's waiting to shoot somebody, but it's for a fender bender?

    I would recommend cutting "Might as well keep his hands busy." It only slows down the story and adds nothing on top of that.

    Would definitely read more.

  9. The cage line kind of threw me too, like it was missing the rest of the metaphor. The rest read smoothly for me, with exception of the larger paragraph, and "might as well keep hands busy." i would suggest taking that line out, and just show him with the cigar, a quick view of the setting, and then have the other character walk in.

    This reminded me a bit of Elmore Leonard's style; he's gotten a lot of attention lately because of his passing; his writing is sparse, a little gruff, and strangely eloquent. Highly recommend to get a sense of his flavor.

  10. I thought the opening line didn't work. It implies the MC's in a cage, and later, we learn he's the sheriff.

    A vacuum allowed him to think and he didn't want to think. And yet he wants to end the call. Wouldn't the call keep him busy and keep his mind off things?

    You give us a lot of description, but I don't get a sense of where he is. Mexican music made me think southwest, but a canopy of shade trees made me think of somewhere greener. Maybe also give us a bit of description of the old man's home.

    I wanted to know who Marie was in relation to the sheriff and/or the old man, and if this accident is just another in the sheriff's day, or if it's something more.

    I did get a good sense of the sheriff, the type of man he was, as well as Sam. Nice job with characterization.

  11. This is a solid opening, and Adam has a great voice. The reader gets a solid sense of the community that Adam is operating in with the details about Sam’s status as an easy mark. The second sentence is a bit confusing – he wants to end the call, but he doesn’t want an opportunity to sit and think? Other than that, a good opening.