Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #23

TITLE: The Pendant of Power
GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

A dozen Madagascar hissing cockroaches lurked inside Colin Thurgood’s locker. I stood ten feet away and pretended to listen as Anna Williams talked on and on about her weekend. My heart pounded with anticipation, and beads of sweat dotted my forehead.

Colin pulled his bag from his back, placed it on the floor, and turned to his locker. Time seemed to slow as I watched him enter 6-17-5, a combination it had taken me a week to crack, and reach for the door handle.

Anna stopped talking as her gaze followed mine, as she looked from my eyes to Colin’s locker, and back again. The lock clicked, and the locker opened. A carefully placed, plastic tub of two inch cockroaches smacked Colin’s shoulder. He snarled as he flicked at the insects skittering down his blue t-shirt.

Screams competed with the first bell. Kids scattered in every direction. Anna’s brown ponytail bobbed up and down as she rushed off. Doors slammed and I realized that Colin and I were the only ones still in the hall. The cockroaches hadn’t made him run and scream. Once again, he proved he was better than me.

Colin lunged for me, but the sound of Principal Thompson’s voice stopped him. “What’s going on?” The lumbering man walked up and looked at me. I shrugged. Fortunately, Colin shrugged as well.

“Something caused all that screaming. Jon, tell me what happened.”

I shrugged again. “Nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me!” Thin wisps of smoke began to curl from his nose.


  1. Yep. Absolutely. This works for me. I'm hooked. I see that it's fantasy, and I get a hint of it when the smoke curls from the principal's nose.

    You've hinted at a conflict here (using "once again") and drawn on it without explaining it. I see that the MC planned this for a long time.

    The only nit I have and it's really small is I wonder if the MC would notice Anna's brown ponytail. Seems an adult might note but perhaps not a MC of this age? Small nit.

    Great job.

  2. Ewwwwww. Gross!!!! This gives me the heebie jeebies!!

    I am definitely intrigued by the last line about smoke curling from his nose... I would read on!

    However, I'm trying to figure out if this is some kind of friendly rivalry, or if Jon was really trying to do something mean. I think the line that confused me was "once again, he proved he was better than me." I think someone who was trying to be mean and vindictive would be more bitter about not getting a reaction... ya know, like a sore loser. Rather than all posh and politically correct about the matter ( : Maybe try and rewrite this to reflect his feelings on the matter, and his intentions in pulling the prank (was it for fun, or to be mean).

  3. Loved this. The only suggestion I have is have is to have more of a reaction from Jon when the cockroaches his. What is he feeling? Glee? Is he laughing? Give me something to feel with him.

    I love the possibility of a prank rivalry and would totally love to read more.

    I'm unsure of the smoke coming from the teachers nose. I see this is a fantasy so maybe that's normal and he's part dragon or something... But if you enter a contest that only allows the first page I'd cit it at "Don't lie to me!" because without an explanation (which I assume comes after) it's a bit off putting.

  4. (I meant, when the cockroaches "hit" not "his" (or hiss). Just wanted to clarify :)

  5. I thought you could give us some clue as to why Jon is playing this prank on Collin. Just for laughs? Revenge? And maybe give us his reaction at his failure. Disappointed? Afraid Collin might kick his butt? What's behind the prank?

    You might also cut the first sentence, that way the reader has to read on to find out what's going on. The cockroaches will come as a surprise to the reader as well as your characters.

  6. The writing was good, but I felt like you were telling me up front what was going to happen. I'd be inclined to cut the entire first paragraph. Show us what happens instead of warning us with a tell.

  7. This is a good opening. We would like to know why the main character is pulling pranks on Colin. They don’t seem to like each other, but right now it could come off like the main character is mean. We don’t really understand the “smoke began to curl from his nose” ending, but we suppose this is where the fantasy element comes in, which while exciting, is a confusing place to end.