Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #22

Title: The Dolphin Nexus
GENRE: MG Magical Realism

A streak of iridescent silver flickered past the port side of the tour boat. Waves of eager on-lookers rushed to get a glimpse at the elusive shape. All except Irene. She shuffled starboard.

Typical tourists. She tried to forgive their silly ‘oohs.’ These in-landers didn’t observe dolphins daily like she did.

"Well, folks," said the yellow‑toothed tour guide. Locals called him Captain Crunch, but Irene reserved Jimmy’s nickname for when she wanted him to leave her alone. "That there’s a sight we don’t see ev’ry day.” His cheeks crinkled around his gray eyes as he aimed a wink her way.

I do. She offered Jimmy a tiny smirk. A pod used the cove behind her house as their private vacation spot.

Casting her gaze to the deck, she glimpsed lobster-red shins sticking out of black-socks-in-sandals. British, she guessed. Looking over her shoulder to where Jimmy stood behind the helm, she pointed to the sandals and mimed a monocle. Jimmy lowered the mic to keep from snorting into it.

Sandal-socks told his son, “Budge up, Johnny. Your sister fancies a look.”

Behind the dad’s back, she mouthed: Ten right today. Jimmy gave her a thumbs-up before resuming his usual spiel.

Seventy-eight tourists correctly pinned to their countries so far this summer. Not bad for August.

Sandal-socks held his little girl up to see over the side. “Now, Emma, stop your whinging and see the fish.”

Fish? No, that’s a mammal. Irene silently corrected him. From the Delphinidae family to be specific.


  1. Oh gosh, the farther I got into this, the more I liked it. The voice here is so great. I love Irene's descriptions of tourists. "Sandal-socks" I can picture so well :) Her sarcasm and humor definitely wins me over.

    Wonder if you should flip the two sentences after "I do." ? To me it made more sense to mention the pod between her house right after she says that, and then have her smirk. See what you think.

    Also, maybe consider a different opening line. What you have now is fine and sets the scene, but the voice is so great farther down that the opening almost seems bland in comparison. I think if you could open with some sort of sarcasm/snark, it would set the stage for Irene's stellar voice and hook your reader from the get-go.

    Nice work! I enjoyed the read!

  2. I agree with Amanda, i loved reading this! Irene's voice feels so spot on and I love the setting so far. I liked the opening paragraph, I see where Amanda's suggestion comes from though so if you could work in some snark that'd be really awesome I think, but it's good the way it is too.

    Maybe it's just me but the part where she mouths "ten right today" confused me at first and made me pause to fully understand it. Might just be me but just wanted to point it out as it could confuse others too and the last thing you want is someone pausing out of confusion on the first page.

    Good luck!

  3. I enjoyed reading this, too. It did take a second thought to figure out the "ten right today" - and the "pinned to their country" could be taken literally - that the tour company had a world map with pins in to represent where people had come from.

    I liked Irene's internal dialogue - although there was bit of snark in her "forgiving in-landers their silly ooohs." If she loves the dolphins dearly I'd think they were a site she'd always love, always feel a bit in awe of.

    And sadly, you do hear parents telling their children stupid things, day in and day out, at zoos, museums, parks, etc - very realistic. Good work!

  4. Great voice.

    I don't think 'observe' quite fits it though even if she is a little geeky.

  5. This is so full of voice, I’m absolutely loving it to pieces! I don’t feel like your opening line does much for you, however, as the voice really comes out further on down. ‘sandal-socks’ is particularly fantastic. What tripped me up a bit is how socks-in-sandals equated to British for her (as that’s, sadly, an unfortunate fashion choice found the world over). I love the idea of having this quiet contest to figure out country of origin for the vacationers.

    The only thing I’m missing is why she’s on this boat and why she has such familiarity with the Captain. If she loves dolphins so much, why does she go to the opposite side of the boat? (Also, bit of blocking there, if she’s moving starboard while everyone else is moving port, how is she still near folks?)

    I do love my know-it-alls in MG and it’s something I’d keep reading!

  6. This was a nice opening. A bit slow, but not everything has to be fast and loud. And you did a nice job developing Irene’s character. I feel like I have a good sense of who she is.

    I did wonder where we were. Florida? California? New England? And I also wondered what kind of tourist boat this was. Did they go out to see dolphins? In which case, it doesn’t make sense to say “There’s something you don’t see every day.” Because you would expect that they would if that’s what they’re there for. And if they’re not going out to see dolphins, what are they out there for? Whales? Fishing? Island hopping? A tour of the harbor?

    And I wondered about her attitude. She doesn’t seem to like tourists. She’s making fun of people. Why is she there?

    Despite that, I’d read more. I feel like you'd come through with the answers.