Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Secret Agent #44

TITLE: Candy, Murder, and Just Desserts
GENRE: Mystery

Monday morning I paced the floor of my dress design salon for plus-sized women, which I called either Cookie's Queendom or Florida Fashions, depending on how mad I was at my boss. Unable to figure out why my employees weren't beavering away, completing gowns for our spring fashion show, I passed rows of unused sequins and spangles, which for some unknown reason smelled of baked apples.

"These should be attached to frocks, to make them sparkle," I said in the most compassionate voice I could muster under the circumstances.

No one even looked up from their work tables. Were they perhaps doing the crossword puzzle, playing online solitaire, or revising their profile for an online dating service?

"Attention, minions. These Angelskin, Satin Gloss and Dance crepe luxury stretch fabrics should all be pinned around these gorgeous mannequins, standing by, ready to display my award-winning designs. Why isn't anyone pinning?"

Still no response. This felt like a strawberry Twizzler moment, but I had none handy.

While the Venice, Florida weather report of sunny and warm blared at me from the tiny pink radio on my desk, I scrutinized my employees.

Instead of cutting fabric, Theo Grumsbak, my head cutter looked up from his work table on the other side of the room and winked at my favorite model, Flora.

Convinced that a new adventure, or at the very least, a juicy affair, could be afoot, I switched from slave-driver designer mode to amateur sleuth.


  1. I'm a bit confused and curious about this one so I'd read a bit further.

    I presume the POV if female and that she's either invisible or a ghost?

  2. The first paragraph feels like you're trying to include as much background as you can, but it kind of overwhelms me as a reader. If you could slip those details in a little more subtly, I think the story would be easier to ease into.

  3. I love this! Everything is drawn out well with good pacing, bringing us into the designer's frustration and makes the readers curious as to what's going on.

  4. Minions? Something about that was cheesy.The character said "my salon" but she has a boss? I read this twice and struggled both times. It was hard for me to become hooked.

  5. I loved your title and really wanted to like this. Unfortunately, "Cookie's Queendom" struck me as being a bit of a derogatory statement for someone working with plus-size fashion. That and a couple of other word choices ("minnions" and "my award-winning designs") made it hard to really get into the scene, especially since there really doesn't seem to be anything important happening. The POV character comes across as a bit full of herself(himself?)

  6. A bit too much detail all at once, but I like the setting and the voice. Tighten it up a bit and I'd read more.

    I assume the baked apple smell is explained?

    Love the line about a "strawberry Twizzler moment."

  7. I like the setting here and the pacing feels right. I also stumbled over her studio and then she has a boss, so that isn't very clear. While I love a lady with attitude, I don't feel much sympathy for her; she's standing around yelling at her staff while she (presumably) does nothing. If this is the intention, to show her as a domineering, unsympathetic woman, then good job. But it can be tough to drag this out too long if we don't have a "save the cat" moment. I would make sure something redeeming gets in there soon so readers can side with her, even if she has attitude.

  8. I was left confused because too much was being included for me ot digest. I did not understand how she was beholden to a boss but had employees nor how a store could change names. I wanted to like her (because it makes it easier to read on) but her dismissive attitude towards her employees was not attractive. I also thought the ending was a bit too pat - in what way does a guy and a girl winking at each other immediately send her into sleuth mode? I guess ultimately what is needed for me to want to go on is focus - as well as a hint that she had some redeeeming qualities underneath the prickly and condescending exterior.

  9. As a retail manager, I hate the passive aggressive way the person is trying to catch her employee's attention. Doesn't really capture at slave-driver designer mode, but that being said, I really liked the voice in this.

    Not quite sure what a Strawberry Twizzler moment is.

    Also, how close is she to her employees when she's scrunitizing them? Why can't she see what their doing? Why the questions about crosswords, solitaire, profiles?

    I would read further, based on voice alone.

  10. I was confused. Firstly by the fact she refers to it as her salon - but then has a boss. Then I didn't understand why she was talking to her staff and no-one was listening. This isn't something that normally happens in a work environment.

    Overall it just didn't seem realistic and I didn't connect at all with the main character as she seems really full of herself.

    Sorry, but I wouldn't read on.

  11. This one wasn't for me. The MC owns her own salon but has a boss? She's running a business without an established name? She talks to her employees like they don't know what they're doing - explaining what sequins are for, calls them minions, and doesn't act like a business owner at all. She, and the set up, just weren't believable.

    There's also no hint of a mystery. SHe goes into sleuth mode at the end, but we don't know why. We have no hint as to what she's suspicious of. A new adventure tells us nothing since we don't know what her old adventures were. Perhaps get a hint of a real mystery on that first page.

  12. I really loved the title. Even the Oxford comma.

    The opening comes across as 'told' rather than shown, which can be fixed.

    Sadly, I disliked her attitude. I find it hard to relate to a supervisor who treats who employees with anything less than respect. I'm sure your MC has many positive features, but unless you give us at least a hint of these in the opening, the reader will find them unsympathetic and after that it will be an uphill battle to get the reader to care about what happens.

  13. These opening paragraphs read more like the middle of a story than the beginning – by starting on a Monday morning, and with a very deliberately quirky voice, I had a bit of a difficult time connecting with the narrator. A dress shop is a great setting, though, and the tension between the narrator and her employees is interesting.

  14. I love the voice and the setting. I do believe though that the first sentence could be tightened up more to deliver a stronger impact.