Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #11

GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

Tonight is a Magus Moon, unnaturally large like a balloon about to burst. Crimson bleeds from its curves into the sky: a trick of the light, people claim.

Such a menacing sight shouldn’t loosen the jumble of knots in my gut, but it does. Magus Moons have existed longer than I’ve been alive. I’ve grown used to them. We all have. Parents lock their doors, keep strict curfews, and never allow their children into the woods. For as long as Statfield remembers, a kid between the age of three and fourteen disappears every five years. Like clockwork, and all during a Magus Moon. The last child vanished seven years ago, and the reins have loosened. Teens relish the red hue it casts. We’re too old to be taken by the boogeyman, and we have less to fear now that we don’t have to worry about losing a sibling.

This truly is the perfect night for a party. The backyard pulsates with energy. The crisp night air mixes with the food sizzling on the grill. Music blares around us, pierced only by delighted shrieks. I’m not friends with the guy hosting, but damn he’s got the perfect spot: a lake house at the edge of the woods and miles away from neighbors.

Beside me, my best friend, Jenny, runs a hand through her mass of dark curls. “You ready, Zo?”
My head bobs. “Yup. Besides, we have to be here. We couldn’t be the only cheerleaders to not show up.”


  1. I really love the mood this casts - the only thing I don't really understand is why they don't have to worry about their siblings, that line doesn't really work for me. Since the teens could have siblings that are 6 or something, no idea.

  2. I love the first three paragraphs! The similes are mesmerizing, particularly comparing the moon to a large balloon. But my favorite part is when you mention children vanishing during a Magus Moon. I definitely want to know more.

    My only criticism is the last paragraph. The change in tone is sudden, and maybe you could mention first why Zo is there in the first place? And give her some voice? Anyway, your idea is awesome!

  3. Additional notes that aren't in the genre tag: f/f (loose) retelling

  4. I love the atmosphere here, but for me I felt I wanted it to start with 'The backyard pulses with energy...' to launch us into the story, then somehow incorportate the moon and its lore. Eg you could show the moon in the pool reflection, or hanging above the party. So it doesnt' feel like you telling us so much, but blending it into the action. Hope this helps.

  5. I agree with Mel. I wanted the party first, and then the bit about the moon. As is, it feels all the work you put into thst moon is tossed away when the party is intro'd. By doing the party first, you have the advantage of making it turn creepy by the end of the page, a guaranteed page turner.

    I did have a problem with the no sibling line. Have all the siblings been taken? Have women stopped having children? Is every kid in town over 14 or under 3? Maybe some clarification there.

  6. I had the same problem here with another entry - fantastic opening drawing me into a potentially fascinating story, only to be let down that the first scene is typical teen party.
    There must be a better place to start, that doesn't kill the mood and momentum

  7. The first few lines were gorgeous -- BUT they made me think this would be a straight-up fantasy. The talk of barbeques and "guys" and "cheerleaders" made me realize this is a contemporary fantasy. Maybe tweak the opening to fit more with the voice?

    I love the world you created! I'd be eager to know more about what's taking children and how the main characters are going to have to deal with this force!

  8. I love the title. This is a great intro! I’d absolutely keep reading. I love that there’s just a hint of something unusual lurking on the edges of an otherwise average Saturday night. Since it sounds like this is paranormal firmly grounded in a realistic setting, I’d consider playing around with the paragraph about this disappearance a bit; I wouldn’t mind a version that hints that maybe it’s all just a coincidence, or just bad luck, or something to indicate a somewhat dismissive attitude, shrugging off the dangers. The reader will of course know something sinister is afoot, but I wouldn’t mind playing around with the possibilities in this very early scene, perhaps hinting that while the older generations used to think there was some sort of curse, the teens know better… or do they… just a thought.
    It doesn’t make sense that no one has younger siblings/cousins, unless there are no kids left in this town at all? Wouldn’t they still be slightly creeped out by the idea that any kids go missing, even if they’re not siblings? Seven years isn’t really that long ago. If they’re 17 now, they’d be 10 the last time a child was claimed. If you’re 10 and you know you might be taken, and the adults all hide you away—that would be utterly terrifying! So it seems unusual to suddenly be blasĂ© about it a few years later because you know the boogeyman is coming for someone else. All this to say, it’s a great hook, but keep playing around with the reasoning.
    I found the dialogue at the end a bit confusing. It sounded like they were already at the party, like she’d just arrived and was admiring the view. And Jenny didn’t say anything about them not going, so it’s an odd response to insist they must go; it felt like you maybe just really wanted us to know they were cheerleaders right off the bat. You can let the reader discover that more naturally in time.

  9. I love the title and the concept. I agree with the others about tweaking the party a bit. I love the first lines for the hook, but maybe you can show how unnatural it could a bit more without using an adverb. To have it as PNR, I think you need to develop it a bit more and do some reading on the subject.

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