Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #13

TITLE: When Disaster Strikes
GENRE: NA Contemporary Romance

Out of all the things parents could force you into—stealing, murdering, eating liver—going on a cruise wasn’t really one of the worst. I tried to remind myself of that as I sat in our Costa Concordia stateroom, fisting the bedcovers in my fingers.

I could see the shadows that were my parents rushing around the large room, opening drawers, closing them. From what I had gathered from my parents’ reaction and my own minimal vision, the ocean view room was quite a sight. Besides the two beds, there was also a couch, coffee table, dresser and TV.

A weight settled beside me on the bed and I heard the zipper of the suitcase as my dad pulled it open. Yes, even blind I knew it was my dad.

If there’s one misconception about being legally blind, it’s that you can’t see anything. Though I can’t make out features or details at all, I can usually see shadows in the general shapes of things. Plus, you kind of get to know your parents’ presence after awhile. My nonna calls it a sixth sense—the way my other senses are supposedly heightened because of my blindness.

I don’t know if she’s right, though. Which is sad, really. Because it means after two years of being blind I can no longer remember what it feels like not to be.

“Did you bring my blue dress shirt?” my dad called to my mom.

“Yes, it’s in the other suitcase.”


  1. Wow! Costa Concordia, especially with a blind MC. Right from the first three paragraphs, I expect tension and danger. I also love the detail of using "nonna."

    I don't think you need the italics in the first sentence, especially since it makes me think the MC actually hates being there, but it isn't touched on again. I do wonder about "my own minimal vision" and "quite a sight," I feel like the MC appreciates the view, so I'm not sure how that fits together. Would it be possible to show what she sees? Or if it doesn't fit here, then maybe it comes later. Anyway, best of luck with this!


  2. I like the irony straightaway - gorgeous views and an opulent room on the cruise ship that the unfortunately blind MC cannot appreciate. Also, the mere mention of the ship’s name does make me expect tension and danger as Laura Rueckert’s critique states. For most of us who know what happened to the ship in real life, the MC’s blindness in this situation is already a problem. It's fiction firmly rooted in fact, as it puts us in the days leading up to the disaster on a real cruise ship; it makes it easy to “suspend disbelief” and go for the ride (no pun intended.) Lots of internalization is justified as it makes us feel, along with the MC, that life is passing us by because of her handicap. It’s really sad when we find out, she wasn’t born blind and has had to adapt to her handicap. Just a suggestion, “fisting” has a sexual connotation and is largely used in that context. Perhaps change it to palming the bedcovers (if she is merely observing) or maybe gripping it (if she is meant to be frustrated to be there.) Thank you for sharing! The writing is beautiful and I’d read more.

  3. Your opening paragraph made me laugh! I'm legally blind--correctable--but still, I experience the shadows briefly every day. So I am really engaged, and want to read about this character. And yes, there's plenty to see. You simply can't function independently in the blind state. Basic things are hard to do--but those helper senses! You can hold a glass under the tap, and hear when it's nearly full. I hope this gets lots of agent love! For what it's worth, every time I read fisting or fisted, no matter who writes it, I hate it. That's my only complaint. Best wishes!

  4. Can I just tell you how much I loved your opening line? Probably because I sympathize with the whole parents making you eat liver concept. Worst thing ever.
    When your MC first mentioned shadows I originally thought maybe the walls were partitions but then we see that your MC was blind. I loved it! Your writing paints the perfect picture of what's happening. I'd be interested in knowing how her cruise turns out. Break a leg!!

  5. I think the setting - a cruise ship - is a wonderful for setting for romance. So much could possibly happen.

    "Couch, coffee table, dresser and TV" isn't "Quite a sight". It's typical. What makes the room spectacular? A TV the size of a small elephant? She could run her hand from one end to the other. Add more sensory detail to show how her 6th sense takes over, because that's REALLY interesting. Don't just have her sit on the bed. Have her explore her world.

    I think you might mean "fingering", not "fisting".

    "I could see the shadows that were my parents rushing around the large room, opening drawers, closing them". At first read the verb "rushing" made me think this might be a thriller - people packing in a hurry to escape. But then I realized they were actually unpacking.

    There's a little bit too much backstory about being blind and not enough driving the story forward. Readers aren't as interested in her dad's blue shirt as they are in what this character wants or fears or dreads.

    Good luck! Lots of potential here.

  6. Starting out with parents in the first line makes me think YA not NA, since NA is often distancing oneself from parents and being (or trying to be) an independent adult. Further on as we learn it’s a family vacation on a cruise ship, this helps explain the presence of parents more. But for this to truly be a New Adult romance, the parents are going to need to play a minimal role. We need to see the MC being a new adult, as well as making sure the romance is the driving force of the story (which is too hard to tell from the sample alone). You’ve definitely picked an interesting setting and intrigued us with the twist that the heroine is blind, with danger looming on the horizon.