Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #37

TITLE: Welcome to Duckworld
GENRE: MG Fantasy

“Mokie! What’s hiding in your mouth?”

Uh, oh. I’d been spotted. It’s hard to sneak past open doors when my nails click on the floor.

“Something’s hanging from your lip. Something shiny.” Emma paused. “Wait a minute. Is that my dance costume in your mouth? MY DANCE COSTUME?! GIVE IT HERE!” she shrieked as I ran past her.

I didn’t have Emma’s sparkly recital outfit in my mouth. It was something far more important. It was her future. And not just her future. It was the whole family’s future. Even mine.  Everything depended on what happened to the sticky wad I had in my mouth.

            I hit the back door before anyone could grab me, leaped into the back yard, and slipped through a strategically dug hole under the skirting around the deck.

“Mooooooookieeeeee! Come here, boy!”

My plan was working! When they don’t see me, they’ll think I jumped over the fence. They’ll never look for me under the deck.

Mrs. C's nervous flip-flops fluttered across the top of the deck. “Moooookie!”

Yeah. You heard right. Mokie, even when it's drawn out as long as a six foot leash, still rhymes with “Smokey.” Mokie is short for “Mokus” which is Hungarian for squirrel. I'm named for an animal that’s so stupid it'll run back in front of a car after it’s made it safely across the road.  No dog should have a name that makes “Bozo” sound smart.


  1. Love the point of view. I've read many times that you shouldn't start a book with a quote, since the reader doesn't know the speaker yet. For some reason, it didn't bother me at all. I fairly quickly figured out it was the speaker's owner, and speaker was a pet. One thing, though, I wasn't sure if Mrs. C is a different person from Emma. If not, you might want to stick with Emma for a while, just to avoid confusion on page 1.

  2. I love the last paragraph and the dog's voice. It took me a couple of reads to figure out who was who in the first couple of sentences. Also, you switch tenses from present to past.

  3. Okay, so at first I thought your mc was a duck, from your title, but then realized at the end, it was a dog. Love that, because dogs are great and I think dogs as mc's are great! I love the dog's voice in this opening. You add the suspense right away by saying the whole family's future was hanging from his mouth. What could that possibly be? Great tension! I would definitely read on! Nice job.

  4. I love the idea of a story from the dog's POV - nice! - and the line about Bozo is fantastic. I like how you show how smart the dog is through planning this in advance. I was unclear what Mokie did have in his mouth and why Emma thought it was her dance costume. The line "Something’s hanging from your lip. Something shiny." read too much like exposition to me. Great voice in the final paragraph.

  5. I really liked this line: "Mokie, even when it's drawn out as long as a six foot leash..."

    Still, I found it difficult to emotionally connect with this opening, which is complicated. I have to care about not just Emma’s future, but “the whole family’s future." But I haven't quite connected to them or to Mokie yet.

    Mokie refers to "THE whole family" rather than "MY whole family" which made me wonder if he's taken ownership of them.

    He's not in love with his name, and he doesn't seem to absolutely, unconditionally love his family.

    This may need a just a few tweaks to clarify Mokie's feelings toward this family. I can't tell if he's going to be a villain or a hero, and I'm not sure what the conflict will be. Maybe consider adding a tiny hint or clue as to where this story is going?

    It's cute though! I love the voice!

  6. Thanks to everyone for responding! I appreciate the thought and time put in to every response.

    Mokie is a complex dog. Although the story has magic, and ducks that can cast body altering curses, the story really comes down to Mokie's growth.The Secret Agent is absolutely right not to be sure if he is the villain or hero. And she's right to not be sure if the dog unconditionally loves his family. He does, but he has to find that out through a series of trials. He's self-centered and rambunctious - not your classic dog who is a ready-made hero instead of a dog who grows into being a hero. The humor comes from the dog's perception of events and his own ridiculous bent of illogical logic. The physical action is largely slap-stick - one would either like it, or not.

    And once again, thanks so the Authoress for hosting this event!