Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Secret Agent #3

TITLE: From the Farthest Heights
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Much like the mud that had flooded and broken her radio, Ro Kylar had a habit for sneaking into places she wasn't allowed. But unlike any other day, that same radio turned itself on.

Reining her black stallion, Onyx, from his gallop to a halt, Ro untied it from her saddle. It screeched with static as she twisted the tuning knob, searching for a steady frequency. When the static cleared, an accented male voice said, “They be looking for you.”

A tingle of fear coursed through the length of her spine. Staring at the radio, Ro felt like a teetering vase on the precarious edge of her luck. She hesitated, then turned up the volume knob and waited. No other words came. Compelled to ask, she whispered to the speaker, “Who?”

Static returned, shrieking above the murmur of wildlife in the surrounding woods. Ro adjusted the frequency until the same voice said, “ The council.”

A sudden gust of wind billowed around horse and rider, raising goose bumps along Ro’s arms. “You can hear me? How?” she asked.

The wind grew stronger, spreading a heavy fog across the dirt lane ahead and behind them. When she looked down, Onyx’s legs and ground beneath had disappeared. Her horse flicked his ears back and forth nervously.

Ro stiffened, sucking in a quick breath, at the sound of rustling leaves. A large hawk sprung from the brush in a flurry of feathers. It keened and flew at Onyx.

He whinnied and bolted, throwing Ro from her saddle.


  1. I like what you've got here. Your descriptions are clear, and I'm interested in finding out why the radio turned itself on and especially who is talking to her.

    In the first paragraph, I had assumed it was a radio where you hear music, and then was confused at first how she could hear it on the horse. Maybe you could mention it is strapped to her leg or call it a two-way radio or something. Also, you don't need a comma after "quick breath".

    Otherwise, great job! Good luck!

  2. I liked how you set the scene. You create a very strong sense of place.

    I don't quite understand Ro's internal logic. This is the first time her radio turns itself on and talks to her, but her reaction is immediate fear, not confusion. I feel like I'm missing something here.

    I'm not sure I buy the teetering vase as a metaphor a teenager would come up with. The voice didn't feel strongly like a YA voice.

    I'm super curious about what's going on with Onyx's legs and the ground disappearing. I definitely want to know what's going on. Good inducement to keep reading.

  3. I like that you immediately start with a bit of a mystery and with some action. Nicely done.

    "Ro Kylar had a habit for..." should that be "had a habit of?"

    I'm unclear what the radio looks like, and what kind it is. Is this a small hand-held two-way radio? A boxy am/fm style? Would Ro have reasonably expected the speaker to be able to hear her?

    In the 4th paragraph you say that the static shrieked over the murmur of wildlife - most wildlife will fall silent when they hear a sudden noise as a survival tactic. Unless the creatures are all predators, and likely not even then, or unless their nature is essentially different from creatures most people are familiar with, it feels a bit off that they are being so loud.

    Hope this helps and good start to your story!

  4. I'm confused from the first sentence. The radio is broken? But Ro keeps it? The radio is broken? But it works?

    I don't think your opening line, mud gets into places it shouldn't is working for me as an opening image. It prompts confusion that distracts me from falling into your world.

  5. I really liked your first sentence, but then right away the second one threw me off. It seems like you're trying too hard to have that parallel language rather than sticking to the point.

    You definitely have a sense of mystery built up by the end of this page, but the pieces feel rough, from the vase metaphor to the disappearance of Onyx's legs. (??)

    I didn't at all get the sense of your character's age, though. She could have been 16 or 30 or 60, so I'd recommend really strengthening her voice, to ground us in the story and in the character.

  6. While I'm intrigued enough to read more, I'm also confused. Most of the issues have been mentioned above (I agree with all of them). I think having the query along with the first 250 would be very beneficial in your case. And, if you're querying traditionally, the agent will always ask for the query.

    Good luck!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. You've set up an intriguing mystery with the radio, the disembodied voice et al, but this needs to read smoother and be better grounded. It would be better to start with Ro out riding when she hears a voice coming from the broken radio tied to her saddle. Is it a walkie-talkie kind of thing or what? And why does she bring a broken radio with her when out riding her horse? You need some brief explanation or grounding.

    And I agree about the vase simile. Find something that might work better for teens. I do like the way you're using the weather to build an atmosphere of

  10. I thought your second sentence doesn't really relate to the first sentence. And why would she take a broken radio with her on her ride? Of course, it may have gotten broken on her ride, but we don't know that. Perhaps just show her riding and the radio turns on by itself? Or start with the scene where the radio breaks (if it happened during her ride) which will set up the radio's importance. Or simply forget about it being broken and just have it turn on by itself.

    When the voice on the radio talks to her, might she react with some disbelief.

    I wondered why she was surprised whoever spoke through the radio could hear her. Why would she ask the question if she didn't hope they could? And how does she feel when she's told it's the Council? Is she at a total loss as to why? Did she think that's who it would be? How does she take this news? Does she want to run and hide? Does she want to take them on?

    You might change most of your 'Ro's' to 'she' or 'her.'

  11. This left me a bit confused. Some of the imagery was odd or awkward. I didn't understand the character's reaction to what was happening. I'm not even sure what was happening. This needs more work.