Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May Secret Agent #39

GENRE: MG Contemporary Fantasy

I looked in wonder at this little old lady squinting at me with the greenest eyes I’d ever seen. “Who are you, my fairy godmother, or something?”

“Your’n? No. And a faerie’s about the worst choice for a godmother you could possibly pick. Don’t you read?”

“Of course I read.” I lifted my chin. “The complete Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson—”

“Piffle and poppycock!”


“Those’re mostly bedtime stories for children, girl. But who told those stories to the Grimms, eh?” She winked and cackled.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re a hard nut to crack, Cat Brökkenwier, and no lie.” She crushed another walnut in her hand. “Sprites and brownies and elves! Goblins! Trolls! They’re all real. Or were. Most have gone a’hiding.” She pointed a gnarled finger at me. “’Cept you know how to find ’em.”

I just stared at her, the hair on my neck standing up. “How?”

“Because you’re one of ’em.”


They say, “Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.” Yeah, they might’ve mentioned that before my dreams came true. Before I found out what I really was.

Because life was a lot simpler when I was just a normal twelve-year-old girl – well, normal- ish. Instead of castles and princes and faerie folk, my ordinary life was filled with homework and a little brother and the family plant business. And all I could think about was being somebody else.

I picked up a colored pencil from the floor beside me and squinted at my medieval studies homework.


  1. My mind automatically went to Artemis Fowl.

    I like the reveal - that she is one of them. I would keep reading.

    "Little old lady" is such a common phrase that you may want to spice it up by trying to find other words to describe her. Let your reader know that you will not be using cliches - that your story will be new and inventive.

  2. Great hook! I love it as is, but I can't help but wonder if it would be improved if the order was switched.

    What if you start with- They say, "Be careful what you wish for..." and then after "all I could think about was being somebody else" slip into telling us about how she found out she was somebody else.

    I'm kind of curious about where she was and how she came upon the old lady. Good Luck!

  3. Hmmm. I like the writing although the two different styles flummoxed me. Introduce the scene with the old lady or cut it. I can only *see* with your words and your character's eyes. I have no idea where, or when they are.

  4. This is well written. But I was disappointed the first part ended, as I was hooked and wanted to follow that scene further. The second part seemed to cut to a later time, with your MC looking back and reflecting on that earlier moment. To me, that makes the first part back story, which I find less interesting -- it's not about the action and conflict of -now-. If it continues in the vein of the second part, I think you risk losing readers you've just hooked. Even if the second part gets better, which it probably does, they might not turn that page. And you want them to turn that page!

  5. I agree with the first part being much stronger. I'm not sure if it's the dialogue or the little old lady's voice is stronger, but I would have like to read more like the first section. Would it be possible to continue with that and not jump back. It may flow better that way. Thanks!

  6. I agree. Stay with the first part and let it take you forward.

  7. I am a fan of this genre, but this felt a bit disjointed. I think the first and second parts could be combined and stay in the style of the first part. But I also think you need to be wary of overused terms like "cackled" and "gnarled." Also, just because she's "one of them," why would that mean she knows where to find them? And nothing I read in their conversation would lead to the conclusion that Cat is a "hard nut to crack," so it would be good to explain that as well.

  8. I felt a little thrown into this story in the first part. Who are these characters, where are we, why should I care? There was no build up for me. I was much more intrigued by the second part, though you'll want to be careful with too much telling. I would recommend starting with the second part and working into the first part.

  9. This is well written, but I wonder if the first portion is geared more towards an adult reader than a middle grade reader. Kids are familiar with fairy tales from TV and picture books, but they probably don't read The Brothers Grim or Hans Christian Anderson versions for fun, if they even know that's who wrote those stories. They'll be intrigued that this girl is a fairy tale creature, so start with that.