Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #19

GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance

Bounce twice. Tuck into chest. Breathe.

It was a mantra ingrained into Gigi’s brain.

Practiced before each free throw and said aloud, those six words were supposed to calm her and bring her good results.

Thirty percent of the time, it worked. Somehow, three out of ten times she was called to the line, she’d been able to quell her fear of the spotlight and sink the ball in the hoop.

The rest of the time? Not so much. Had it not been for her speed and ability to bank a shot from anywhere else on the court, she might’ve never made it on the team.

But this mantra was the only thing she had now, walking up to the house.

The house. The famous beautiful farmhouse her parents refused to talk about. The farmhouse in the black and white pictures her dad could never look at without getting sappy and nostalgic. Except this version was dilapidated and worn, slouched against the horizon like a fat cat. And long gone was that happy, young Smith family with their dandelion tufts of curly, blond hair. Today, a platinum-haired woman in a blue polka-dot apron stood in front of it. She held a pale-faced older man almost twice her size by the elbow.

Neither bore a hint of a smile.

Her dad’s fingers found their place on her shoulders and massaged down just as he would right before a game.


  1. Without a reason to ground the first lines, they don't carry weight or ring true. At first I thought Gigi was in a basketball game, throwing a critical shot. I had to read on to understand the actual setting, that she's outside. Maybe you could rearrange the opening sequence, start with the house and her emotional reaction to it, before leading into her trying to calm herself. Otherwise, you're boucing around in time and place.

  2. I'm with JD above, unsure where the story's taking place. At first I thought she was at a game, which I later learned was basketball.

    Then she's at a house that should be beautiful but isn't (?), and people are missing. Then she's beside her dad. I had to read it through a few times to understand maybe these people are relatives?

    Anyway, I think it has promise, and there's a hint of mystery, which appeals to me. Best of luck with it.

  3. I agree with the notes above about possibly starting with the house instead of basketball. I love that Gigi is a basketball player and that creeps into her life outside of the sport. I didn't find the two different descriptions of the house confusing. It seemed clear to me the house was beautiful in the picture, but in real life it wasn't anymore.

  4. I like the mantra, and I see Gigi saying it as she approaches the farmhouse. I would leave out the third through fifth lines and weave them in later.
    Perhaps after the second line you can continue with ....Gigi's brain from years of playing basketball. Then continue with the house scene.
    My interest truly piqued with the last paragraph and I'd love to read more. The use of the word held in that last sentence could be less confusing. At first I thought she was holding the man. But overall the story intrigued me.

  5. I agree with everyone about the flow. I like this intro but it doesn't flow with her approach of the house...not unless she is actually telling herself to bounce twice as she walks up to it. It might work if her mantra was just "Breathe." Then, she could associate the panic she feels now with that she feels on the court.

    Otherwise, voice is great!

    Good luck!

  6. This does read choppy. Perhaps cut the whole beginning about the basketball and start at paragraph 7.

    The house. The famous beautiful farmhouse . . .

    You can get in the fact that she plays basketball by adding that word to the last sentence.

    Her dad’s fingers found their place on her shoulders and massaged down just as he would right before a BASKETBALL game.

    FRom there, you could even go back to the 'Bounce twice etc, and put that whole beginning at the end of pargs 7,8, and 9.

  7. We like that your main character is an athlete. The opening is good. We don’t have much of a sense of what is going to happen, but we assume (or hope) that comes shortly after this.