Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #14

GENRE: MG Contemporary

It’s three hours before the biggest audition of my life and Mom is slumped at the kitchen table, texting like her fingers are on fire.

Mom never, ever texts.

“You let me sleep in.” My eyes travel to the empty stovetop. I’m fine with cereal, but Mom usually insists on making a big breakfast, since she’s convinced that’s the key to a top-notch performance.
“Hi, Sweet Pea.” Mom drops her phone. Her mascara is smeared, and instead of her usual fashionable dress and bracelets, she’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans. “Thought you could use the rest. Want me to make toast? We’re out of eggs.”

“I can do it.” I shoot her a sideways glance. “Everything okay?”

“Absolutely. That was Dad. He’s meeting with students, but he’ll be at the audition.” She stands up and plants a kiss on my cheek. “He’s looking forward to hearing his favorite pianist knock the socks off the judges.”

My stomach turns into a soft pretzel. I love piano, but I’m not thrilled with the Mozart piece for the Young Artists camp try-out. Who wants to follow the notes and dynamic markings some dead guy wrote a zillion years ago? Jazz is way cooler. It feels like I’m flying when I make up my own rhythms and riffs, but I’m only allowed to do that on Wednesday nights from 3:45-5:15 when I accompany the Palms Middle School jazz band. The rest of the time, I’m stuck with Brahms, Bach, and boring Beethoven.


  1. Nice opening line, and I love - stomach turns into a soft pretzel! I also think you have a nice MG voice. The opening does a good job of letting us know that something is up with the mom, which makes me want to learn more.

  2. I like the voice here--feels age-appropriate and it held my interest. We know something's not quite right with Mom, which automatically builds some tension. I really don't have much in the way of a critique here. This entry just caught my eye. So nice job!

  3. I like your opening here. I'd love to know how the audition turns out and would keep reading for sure. The only critique I have would be to show us how she feels about her mom texting. We get that this is out of the norm, but I'm curious about your MC's internal reaction. Great job and good luck!

  4. I agree, nice voice here. You give us hints that something's not right with Mom, but I wanted to know more about how this made your MC feel. Does this add to her worries about the audition? I like the tension of the MC not being able to audition with the type of music she prefers. I can sense this is going to be an important thread.

  5. I like the rhythm of your words (i.e. Brahms, Bach, and boring Beethoven.) We know right away something big is happening for the MC today, and there's a possibility that something's wrong (her mom texting.) I think you give a good snapshot in this opening page.

  6. This voice is great for MG, which is very hard to accomplish. I can already see tension building and we know that something big is coming up for the MC. I would keep reading.

  7. I loved this opening--there's such great tension! But then the tension fizzles into a discussion of classical composers. The main character goes from almost-panic to bored and dreading a piano concert, which made me feel bored and dreading the piano concert.

    This author has some talent, and I'd read on to find out where this is going.

    Thank you so much for sharing!