Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index
GENRE: Contemporary YA

I check my phone again. Nothing.

“It’s the pants, the way they cling to him. Bulge in all the right places. His legs—”

“They’re like chick en.”

“—slender, sinewy thighs I could just—”

Oh my CHRIST. In the two and a half minutes we’ve been standing here, the women in front of me (at least twice my age, and probably a decade more) have gone from caressing their Hawk merchandise to cannibalizing it. Like it wasn’t bad enough finding half the school supplies plastered with Rush Hollister’s face—the key chains, the backpacks, the “I ♥ HAWK” pencil sharpeners—now my ears and helpless inner eye must bleed with this traumatic fanporn?

“—knife and fork and carve that glorious—”

I bury myself in my phone, willing reply texts to appear. I’m 98% sure that they won’t, but if I concentrate I can almost pretend I don’t hear words like “tender” and “cheek set” being slobbered in front of me.

When no new messages fly to my rescue, I thumb to the one I sent my supposed besties this morning instead:

Shopping at WA Square today. Want to grab coffee or cheesecake or something?

A simple invitation. No blame, no questions, no emotional outpour; just coffee. And/or dessert. But I review the words for the seventeenth time today and wonder if sending them was a mistake. Am I just making things worse?


  1. inimitableballerinaMay 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    This made me laugh out loud. I definitely ride the subway and bus with people like this, so while it's ridiculous it's completely real.

    The only thing I got caught up on was who Hawk was. I presumed he was made up, but then when I didn't get any other descriptors or information, I tried to Google search him (I got afraid I was behind the times). Maybe adding a sentence or a clue to help your readers know why he's being ogled at would help.

    Good job!

  2. I love the title and, if I saw it online, I'd give the book a browse. I did feel like things start too far into the story and I wanted to back up a pace. Perhaps give a touch of scene setting before the disembodied dialogue begins? I thought combining paragraph 1 with paragraph 5 before the dialogue might help orient the reader.
    Also, perhaps add in some sort of speech tags for the salivating women, ala 'It's the pants...legs-" the red-haired 50-plus woman said.

    I'm curious what happened between the narrator and her friends and if and how Rush Hollister will figure in to the story.

  3. I agree with Peggy that speech tags could help in the beginning. Also, is "chick en" a typo?

    I think the writing is quite strong (and I love 'oh my Christ', because I say it all the time...), but I'm not 100% sure where this book is headed. I am curious about what happened between her and her friends, but I'm not sure that curiosity alone would keep me reading. I think seeing the query/book jacket for this one would help! If it hinted at something exciting, I would definitely read on.

  4. I love the dialogue at the beginning, but I thought the MC was part of the conversation until I got to the fourth paragraph. I agree with others that a tag or two would be helpful. This certainly hooked me. Good luck with this!

  5. You had me at fanporn. :) But I do agree that some tagging early on would help lessen the confusion on the part of who's speaking. Or maybe just a sentence before the fan dialogue that would ground the reader. Perhaps something from the fanporn paragraph.

    I assume that this Rush Hollister person has something to do with the story; in fact, I'm really curious if Rush is the one texting her. I'm definitely intrigued and would love to read more!

  6. I like this opening and I like the voice, but the opening dialogue needs context. We have no idea who is talking, about whom they are talking or where everyone is. It's off-putting. I thought one of them was the MC, but no. Maybe add one more line after, like: And the women in front of me will not shut up. Something so we know she's eavesdropping. The rest is great and shows a lot of potential for conflict to come.

  7. Love the title! And the voice. But... I need to know more about what's going on before I get hit with unattributed dialogue.

    You start with "I", go into three bits of dialogue, then mention a "we."

    Tell us where "here" is. PLEASE!

    She's a YA, in line for school supplies behind women a decade older??

    I do like a lot of your lines: " my ears and helpless inner eye must bleed with this traumatic fanporn" and the whole last paragraph, which makes me want to read on to find out what the drama was that happened between the besties.

    Did I say how much I liked the title? And the voice?

  8. I thought the dialogue between the older women was fun, but I wonder if it matters. She's going to leave and we'll never see the women again. WIll the guy they're talking about show up in the story? If not, this scene might work better somewhere other than as your opening, and cutting it may allow you to get to your hook.

    I thought you created a great voice here, but I wanted more. This may not be the place to start.

  9. Firstly: that title is amazing. As is the phrase "traumatic fanporn." I don't get a sense of the general conflict, but that's okay. The voice is funny and interesting enough I'm eager to read on. I'm guessing the narrator has some personal connection to Rush? If so, you might make that a little clearer up front. But in any event, I'm intrigued enough to keep reading.

    I d agree with the comments above that the unattributed dialogue is a bit confusing, especially as we don't know whether the narrator is speaking aloud. For clarity, you might even open with the 'graph beginning "Oh my CHRIST" and follow it with the spoken exchange. Just a thought.

  10. The voice here is so great! Fanporn, lots of great stuff. Though I don't get who Hawk is, and I think showing the convo btwn the two ladies doesn't quite work in the intro since there is no context. Perhaps skipping what they actually say and going right to your MC reacting to it would help. Also defining what/who Hawk is.

    The voice is so good!

  11. I also just want to add that I LOVE your title! Well done!

  12. Congratulations on being a winner!