Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #38

Title: The Blood Barrier
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

The fact that there’s a Sender staring at me through the window of my door immediately makes me want to punch things. And by things, I pretty much mean any part of her body. I’m not picky— as long as she feels it then I’m winning.

Sparrow taps on the glass just to let me know she’s watching me, and disappears. I need to get out of here. Today. Now. The words tumble through my head, tripping over each other in urgency. A cadence that builds and ebbs like the tides of the sea. It’s pulling me out again. The Front’s grasp kept me locked and collared for three weeks after my last escape attempt. Three weeks without feelings.

How do you escape the only life you’ve ever known?

When I glance outside my room, Sparrow’s stupid lizard-face glares back at me. “Haley, where do you think you’re going? Mutant.”

That one word. That tiny little label, is the cause of all my grief. She’s so lame— we’re all frecking mutants here. Sparrow thinks she’s all that because she’s already part of the Elite army. Yippie-frecking-do. Her ego's gonna be her downfall. I can't wait till she's mine. Visions of her death ease me.

“Bite me, Lizard-breath.”

Sparrow’s face turns green, and I back away laughing. But my attempt to slam the door is a joke. It slowly creaks on its hinges, lessening the effect tenfold. Sparrow’s laughter echoes through the empty bedroom. “That’s what I thought, Cadet.”


  1. Hello!

    Wow, this is dripping with voice. A huge well done. It's a little hard for me to get a grip on what's happening here -- an effect I usually associate with Sci-Fi, not UF -- I think because there are so many names and things going on that it's hard to keep up.

    In particular, the line starting 'The Front's grasp' -- just makes no sense to me and I would struggle to get past it. I'm also not sure why a lizard woman is called Sparrow?

    Anyway, I really like the energy and, again, the voice. I'm definitely intrigued by the suggestion of an academy/army of some kind.

    I would definitely, for sure, cut or rephrase the line 'How do you escape the only life you've ever known?' which could be on the back of far too many spec fics.

    Anyway, good work and good luck!

  2. Wow--great voice and very strong writing! I have a couple of itty bitty critiques: I would like "Visions of her death ease me" better if you used "put me at ease". Maybe just a personal preference though. . . Also, I think "tiny little label" only needs one descriptor, not both. Great job though!

  3. Hi, your story opens up nicely with some interesting conflict and urgency. I have a few style suggestions. In the sentence –as long as she feels it – I would change it to what it is, my blows. That’s an in general thing. It is a lazy word.

    In the line “Haley, where do you think you’re going? Mutant.” Try cutting some of the words from “where do you think you’re going.” to make Mutant pop out better. It’s a rhythm thing. Read it out loud.

    The Visions of her death ease me is pretty dark. Really? Or is that hyperbole?

    Does her face really turn green, or is this hyperbole? Being a fantasy, I must assume it really turns green.

    Good job, and best wishes

  4. I have essentially the same critiques at Vicorva above. There is just a ton of voice here and that moves it along well. But all of the names/identities introduced so soon do leave you reeling a bit.

    You may want to develop just who the MC and the antagonist are inside of the 250 before moving into all of the Elites, the Front, etc. Best of luck to you!

  5. I like how you start right into the action. Your reference to all the groups and people who the main character knows, but the reader does not, threw me a little. He (or she?) has a lot of anger- violent anger. And why doesn't the door slam as intended? Did something get in the way? I thought Sparrow was at the window when she tapped on the glass, so my thoughts didn't take me to a door.

    I like the visual of the characters and the variety is a good change of pace. Keep it up!

  6. This is really interesting and I really wanted to know more! I did find myself tripping over the situation a bit, as there was a lot of new words and explanations, some of which I think could be sprinkled in later to make the opening a little clearer. Also, the sense of space confused me some: the window and bedroom in their orientation didn't seem really clear (though of course, this is only the first 250, so it's impossible to really settle everything in such a short space).

  7. I love this beginning, and it would definitely make me read more, which is of course, its goal. I love the character and the voice. I, too, was tripped up by the setting. Is Sparrow outside a window, then quickly materializes out of the door? It sounds like a fairly secure room, yet they are talking to each other easily so at one point I thought maybe Sparrow was in the room, although on rereading I don't think that anymore. I don't might the new vocab. I know that will be explained, but the question "how do you escape the only life you've ever known?" seemed out of the blue to me, more like back cover copy and less like something someone is likely to be thinking to themselves. Also, I don't get why Sparrow asks where she is going, when she's locked up? So I have some questions, some of which I'm sure will be answered soon, but I do love the voice and the MC and the setup is definitely intriguing.

  8. thanks everyone :) it says the window of my door. I meant it to be like a door with glass windows in it. I guess I could work on the wording to make it more apparent :)

  9. Dropping us right into the action and an entry that’s really dripping with voice. I love it! (Another, as Thor would say, though I’m not going to break any glassware in here.) The “Mutant” in the one dialogue feels like a throwaway line rather than being the most important word spoken. I’d separate that out since, clearly, Sparrow is a mutant but she’s on the outside. Also Sparrow asks where Hayley is going but Haley hasn’t moved at all so what gives Sparrow the cue to ask where she’s going? Also on word choice, “lame” doesn’t seem to fit with the venom in the rest of the paragraph. Lastly on the door slamming — I see that you meant she slammed the window closed.. but we never saw it open! Was it open to start the scene and Sparrow reached in? Or did she open it to talk?

    One other nitpick thing — frecking is very close to fracking as used in the Battlestar universe. Not, I don’t feel, something you need to change, but just wanted you to be aware if it was something you weren’t aware of already!

    ALL of that being said, I’d definitely read on!

  10. My suggestion would be to go through this and make sure you are writing what you mean.

    Cut the first parg. Your MC is talking to someone who isn’t there. (Me) She should only talk to other characters in the story, and you can get in the MC’s need to punch Sparrow in the next parg.

    I’m unsure what ‘It’s pulling me out again,” means. Literally, the words are pulling her out, but that would be ‘them’ not ‘it’s’ so I’m unsure what you’re referring to. And pulling her out of where?

    Parg 3 – replace you and you’ve with I and I’ve.

    Parg 4 – Is her door in her room or are they two different places? And you just had Sparrow disappear, and now she’s there again. Perhaps say she returned. And all Haley is doing is looking out the window. Why would Sparrow ask her where she thinks she’s going?

    Parg 5 – frecking = freaking? Frigging?

    Parg 7 – If the door has been open all this time, why did Sparrow look in through the door window instead of the open doorway?` And why did Haley look out the door window, instead of the open doorway? If she just opened the door, show it happen.