Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Team Loser
GENRE: Upper Middle Grade Contemporary

The early morning light hit the small, old houses in my neighborhood until they glowed like pastel jewels. Two tiny birds perched in the mimosa tree outside the kitchen window and sang like they were in the opening credits of a Disney movie. Gramp’s scrambled eggs were a perfect bright yellow so I scooped them from the pan, and onto his plate.

“Come and eat before I throw it away,” I yelled.

“Corbin Webster, do I look like a track star to you?” His cane made crabby thunks on the worn linoleum but he had to duck his head to hide a smile. He might fool the salesmen at the front door, but I knew better. Gramps put the great in great-grandpa. If it wasn't for him, I’d be in some random person’s foster home.

“I don’t need any eggs,” he said. “Coffee is fine.”

“You’ll eat them and like it.” I tried to sound stern instead of worried. “Besides, there’s plenty.” If I didn't watch him, he’d starve himself to make sure I didn't go hungry. “Mrs. Sanchez brought over a dozen this morning when she dropped off the suit. She said her chickens lay too many for her to eat.”

“That’s different.” He picked up his fork and shoveled some into his mouth. “It would be a crying shame for food to go to waste.” I finished my coffee and carried my plate to the sink. He whistled low. “Dang boy, you look sharp. Turn around.”



18 comments:

  1. Great opening and I already like the relationship you've established between Grandpa and the MC. Your descriptions are lovely and you do a great job putting me in the setting. Look at your first two sentences again. May want to change one of them around so you don't use "like" twice in a row. I assumed your MC was a girl based on the things "she" observed in your first two sentences. Also, I assumed your MC was older than MG because he seems so mature in his thoughts about looking out for Grandpa. Might need to find a way to make him seem a little younger even though he has a lot of responsibility. LOVE Grandpa's dialogue!

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  2. Great character development, especially with the grandfather. The first paragraph is has 2 similes and that feels heavy. I would suggest using one or the other. The Disney one comes across stronger in my opinion.

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    1. Thank you, Ely. It's always good to have new eyes on things.

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  3. I agree with the previous comment that trimming the imagery in the first paragraph would make this even better. I also think the dialogue could be tweaked to make Corbin sound a bit more MG. But otherwise, I really enjoyed this. The Disney reference in the opening tells us right away that this isn't going to be a happy/Disney sort of day and then you subtly weave in a little backstory (poverty/foster care) to let us know that Corbin and his Gramps are in a precarious situation. Nicely done. Enjoyed their relationship and your description of Gramps too. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks so much, Julie! I really appreciate you taking the time. Also Julie's rock. :D

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  4. I love the easy relationship already created and the dialogue was terrific. I agree with the other comments that the narrator felt a bit old for MG, though - especially him drinking coffee.

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    1. Thank you! I'll cut his coffee then. (We are a coffee family. My kids get to have it when they're 10. I know bad parenting *grin*)

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  5. Okay, I like this. A lot. As much as I enjoyed the imagery in the opening paragraph, it's a bit much for one. I'd suggest slipping the last sentence with the eggs somewhere else, if not cutting it.

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    1. Thank you Ashlyn. I'll give it another look.

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  6. I really love this! You've created such a great dynamic between Corbin and his Gramps. Like others, the tone seems more YA to me than MG though.

    I also loved the Disney reference and would advocate for keeping that in!

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah! (I do love Disney.)

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  7. Dear #1

    I love the relationship you immediately set up between the boy and the great grandfather, especially how the boy tries to manipulate the old man, and he allows him to think he does.

    Good characterization.

    If I had to choose something to suggest, I’d advise using ONE strong adjective, instead of two weaker ones to describe your nouns. The opening paragraph seems to be overwritten. I’ suggest eliminating early, small, tiny, and mimosa for a tighter writing.

    Also, I believe you should add an s in Gramps’s.

    I’d definitely read on.

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  8. Oh thank you Gayle! I hates the 's and the s's and all of those :D

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  9. I'm pulled into your mc right away. Puts the "great" in great - grandpa, and so caring about his grandpa that he's pushing him to eat. Nice!
    The setting kind of had me confused in the first paragraph. If it's a really poor neighbourhood, like the rest of the piece describes, going for the "old but kept up with another coat of paint and some pansies out front" feel rather thAn pastels, which gave me the more idyllic feel, might help.

    Good luck with querying your story!

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  10. I like Corbin and his grandpa -- they have a very sweet relationship. For some reason this is making me think of The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer.

    In your opening paragraph, you have two similes in a row. This is the second — Two tiny birds perched in the mimosa tree outside the kitchen window and sang like they were in the opening credits of a Disney movie — and it's not as lovely and evocative as the one before it. Use figurative language sparingly, and only when it's as lovely as your pastel jewels.

    I would certainly keep reading this. I'm curious (and nervous) about what will happen for Corbin and grandpa.

    Overall, lovely work!

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