Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Secret Agent #1

TITLE: Saving Emmaline
GENRE: YA Contemporary

The Dialysis Treatment Center has had the same depressing statistic on the wall for the past three years.

There are roughly one hundred thousand people awaiting a kidney transplant in the United States.

And of that vast pool of Unfortunates, approximately seventeen thousand of us will hit the jackpot each year. I was not mathematically gifted. I was actually an aspiring author. But my dad had done the math for me, and apparently my odds weren't great. Another Treatment Center fact:

Thirteen people die a day waiting on a kidney.

My rookie year I worried a lot about that one, so I started doing things like counting heads at the center. Thankfully, our facility had five that kicked it by June. My mom said it had a lot to do with the mind. That most of the Unfortunates in here were older and had already given up on life. So every morning on our way here, she would fire up the car, put on some Gloria Gaynor, and we’d both sing at the top of our lungs, but mostly I would, about Surviving my dying ass the whole way here.
Three years in this place and I have yet to hit the jackpot. So I quit thinking about stats and outliving Rose, the sixty year old widower across from me, who had brought me an apple every day for the last year, and started focusing on more uplifting things, like my hot Nephrology Nurse, Donald.


  1. Wow! We really get a feel for the stakes from the first line: dialysis = kidney treatment, and that means the mc's life is in danger. Great job! The depressing statistics really adds to the tension in the scene, while also showing the character's voice as she discusses these facts. Only suggestions: watch the run-on sentences, and the voice changes a little towards the last two paragraphs. At first, your mc sounds thoughtful and insightful, but towards the end, she sounds bitter and angry. Is she supposed to be both, or is the bitter supposed to come out sooner? Well done creating the stakes, though! It's really clear the reader should be worried about whether or not your poor mc survives

  2. I enjoyed the voice of this piece with the matter-of-fact kind of resignation but still some fight left. One treatment center fact comes in its own paragraph and after a period, while the next one comes in its own paragraph but after a colon. Maybe keep those consistent, one way or the other. The capitalization of Unfortunates almost made me think it was futuristic, like that's a government appointed category for people who need kidney transplants.

  3. Yes, you definitely nailed the stakes for your MC. I also find the voice an her problem engaging.

    The tense is tricky here, with the little bit of backstory, but you want to be careful with your use of had and would/could. You might consider tightening this up by breaking up some long sentences. Even though this is in first person, watch out for the overuse of 'so.'

    The poster slogans might be a little punchier if reorganized: In the U.S., roughly 100,000 people await a kidney transplant. / Every day, thirteen people die while waiting for a kidney.

    This might call even more attention to the waiting game the MC is playing and her shortage of time. Is there a slogan that would call out/be relevant to her youth, to give us a better idea of her age?

  4. You've gotten some good feedback on other things, and your voice is great, so I'll just point out one thing that jumped out at me: Rose is a widower? If she's a woman, shouldn't she be a widow? Only men can be widowers, I think.

    Great first page!

  5. Wow. Just wow. This was great. The writing, story and emotion in the voice stuck out to me. I always love when something snatches my attention and this one sure captured mine and made me want to read more. I could paint the character in my mind and instantly had the sensation to whip out a box of tissues. I sure hope this has a happy ending and I liked the nice transition from the sadness of reality to focusing on her hot doctor. Great job.

    Thanks for entering!

  6. Agree with previous commenters that your voice is awesome. I love that your narrator is snarky while looking death in the face, and I love the little details, like the bit about Gloria Gaynor, that really makes you feel like you're there.

  7. I thought the idea behind the page worked. The mc needs a kidney and will die if she doesn't get one. The stakes are clearly made evident. But nothing happened on the page. A woman talked.

    Perhaps give us a scene. Show her in the center interacting with perhaps Rose or the nurse. Let us see Rose give her an apple. Or let us see someone's deteriorating condition. What you've given us is an explanation of what your story will be about, rather than giving us story, which would be much more compelling.

  8. I like it, I think the set up is great and this could be a really deep kind of book.

    I thought the "13 people die a day waiting on a kidney" sounded awkward and my mind kept changing it to "13 people a day die waiting on a kidney".
    The use of widower is confusing since if Rose is a woman she would be a widow. Saying widower and I am wondering who that is.

    Also the line about her being glad that 5 people "kicked it by June"...I get it, but that made your MC seem very selfish. After three years you would be she would have developed some relationships and camaraderie with these people. Seems a little cold-blooded.

    And lastly, your last sentence I found a bit confusing to parse the first time, and I read it like Rose was the one who had started focusing on uplifting things.

    I think your writing is really strong, but just wanted to point out the few times I was momentarily caught on something since that is why we are here right!

  9. This is fabulous. Great voice, nice tension, likeable main character. I would absolutely turn the page.

    Good Luck,


  10. I think you did a great job setting the stakes for your character, and I like the fact that you use a matter-of-fact voice to capture her. She's clearly scared but trying to push through it; a great example of showing, not telling.

    I got pulled from the story when I read that the MC is an aspiring author. I always think "author avatar" when I read that in a manuscript, especially so early on. Though since it didn't seem to bother anyone else, you could probably pass that off as one of my reader quirks.

    Nice job!

  11. Love this! The voice just jumps right off the pages and made me long for more. The stakes are immediate and well-incorporated into the page. The only thing that pulled me out a little was the line about the MC being an aspiring author. It felt a little too telling in that moment. I think it would flow very easily to cut that bit and combine the "I was not mathematically gifted, but my dad had done the math for me...." lines. And then show the aspiring author bit later! Great job :)