Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #12

TITLE: The Sirens of Falkeld
GENRE: YA Fantasy

"Kade, m'boy, ne'er fall in love wi' a mhara. They cannae be trusted."

"The mhara are just stories, Gaffer," I toss a ball to Agnes. She jumps, shying away, then nudges it with her wet puppy nose.

"Aye," Gaffer puts a weathered hand on my shoulder. His voice sounds far away. "But danae forget, boy, that thar's a bit o' truth in every tale."

I follow his eyes to the docks, where Da is checking his nets and testing the line. His gaze slips to the bay. He misses a beat, and has to retie a knot in the rope. "The sea is a tricky mistress," Gaffer mutters.

Gathering Agnes in my arms, I nuzzle into her downy fur and count to nine softly in her ear. It's my birthday today. We have a cake at home, with white, puffy frosting that looks like sea foam. I squeeze Agnes, and wish, for a moment, that I had a da like Brayan's, who ran a store and didn't love the sea.

Gaffer rises. "I'll be back, Kade. I moost 'ave a wee chat wi' yer da." He winks, messing my hair. Agnes nips at his heels as he walks away.

Da sees Gaffer coming and his Sea Eyes turn wary. Agnes finds a stick and brings it to me. I wrestle it from her while I watch Gaffer talk, even though I already know: Gaffer will not get what he wants. Nor will I. Not when Da has the sea in his eyes.


  1. I really like how you described Kade's father's love for the sea: how he looks up at it and has to retie the knot, the Sea Eyes, etc. The sea being a tricky mistress fits so nicely there.

    I feel like writing out the dialect for Gaffer as you have leads me to feel like it might be strenuous to read since I don't know how much of it there is. It might be a better idea to just flavor his speech with a few words rather than to spell out his accent so much.

    Maybe it's just me, but the cuddling with the dog and thinking about cake and frosting makes me feel like Kade is younger than I'd expect in a YA.

    Good luck with this!

  2. I like what you've done here, but I fear that it would be difficult to read an entire novel with such dialect, even as well as you've done it.

  3. Laura: I don't know what the protocol is on commenting on your own post, but I have a feeling that your comment might be an issue for a lot of people who read this… so I'll just clarify now:

    This is actually a prologue, nine years before the actual story takes place. So its good that the character "feels" a little younger. He supposed to!

    Also, I appreciate what both of you have said so far about the accent… its been a debate I've been going back and forth on, whether or not to have the accent so thick or not. I appreciate your input!

    Thanks, ladies!

  4. I have to agree with the dialect: throwing us into it so soon is rough.

    You have a great knack for showing us what the characters want. Your last paragraph was especially successful on that front. We learn so much about Kade's dad and Gaffer in that quiet moment. Nicely done!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this. I'm an American living in Ireland and the accent is similar to some of the regional accents here. Having said that, I would ease off it after the first two or three lines. We already have this character's "voice" in our heads and some of it is distracting to read, taking me out of the story. I love the line about the cake frosting being as white as the foam. Well down!

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  7. Sounds like everyone agrees: the accent is too much. THANK YOU for your feedback! I've been bouncing back and forth for a while on what to do about that. Your insight is much appreciated!

  8. This is lovely writing. The dialect needs to be toned down (not lost completely though). As it is now it slows the reader's momentum trying to sound it out and figure out what's being said. But other than that, just lovely.

  9. I liked this. I felt like I was by the sea as I read this. I don't have any problems with prologues, and I have no idea why they're suddenly in disfavor, but I do think this one doesn't work. It doesn't seem to be highlighting an important event from the past (but maybe's it's longer than this excerpt?) If it isn't, the same info could be gotten out in the course of the actual story in a flashback.

    And I agree about the dialect being difficult to read. Usually, if you pick a word or two to use in dialect, that can convey the accent pretty well. And using words like Da, Gaffer, and laddie, or lad help too.

  10. Barbara: yes, the prologue is longer that this small snippet. Two hundred and fifty is just an itty bitty amount of words when it comes right down to it!

    And actually, originally it wasn't a prologue, just a flash back. However, it wasn't working very well, and a critique partner suggested it might be one of the few circumstances that a prologue would work. So I tried it! And I loved it! The entire scene just works really well and sets up the motivation of the character nicely for later in life. Wish I could have posted the whole thing!

  11. Wow, I can hear the accent when I read your words. Nicely done!

    The one thing that jars me a little at first is I have no idea where your story's taking place. Maybe it'd be better to describe the docks in the second paragraph and move the puppy thing where the docks are? As it is, I feel like the playfulness of the puppy conteracts the mood you're going for with Gaffer's words.