Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #15

Title: Edge of Never Been Before
Genre: Women's Fiction The mere possibility that the cougar was in Amelie’s vicinity gave her a shiver of exhilaration; it wasn’t clear who was stalking whom. Everyone is someone’s son or daughter, and the spirit-cat had inherited its otherworldly ways from its mother, just as Amelie was born with the earth medicine secrets of her mother and grandmothers.

Following the trail through the Slender Forest, she breathed deeply, savoring the aroma of pine needles blanketing the ground. The trees formed a canopy that all but blocked the breaking light of day. Only hardy mosses and earthy mushrooms survived in the darkness. But this place of serenity was not her destination.

On the porch the previous evening, she’d had a long-overdue conversation with her mother.

“Why don’t you go for me tomorrow morning?” her mother said, as if she invited her daughter to participate in a secret practice every day. Celia Waters walked the path each morning before the sun crested. On the outcrop in the middle of nowhere, she met her spirit-cat and the unseen energies that guided her.

“What? Why?” asked Amelie, remaining still but wanting to pace. “That’s what you do.”

“I thought you might want to.” Celia shrugged in a way that was not as nonchalant as she tried to seem.

Since Amelie had turned eighteen the previous spring, the invitation had been offered a few times. She always found an excuse to put it off, afraid meeting the spirit-cat would tie her to the life of a healer.


  1. I really liked the first sentence. But then the momentum seemed lost. If someone has a cougar in their vicinity, I'd feel like things could get very scary, very fast. Instead, after that amazing first line, you go into explanation mode, then give us a dose of imagery and then backstory. All the time I'm wondering, what about the cougar?? I'd like to see more action right off the bat.

  2. Your opening sentence is great! The second sentence feels like it has too much exposition, especially for the first page. I don't think you need to explain this upfront, you could move it to later.

    I also feel like it's a bit risky to have a flashback on page 1. If you want your story to start in the middle of the action--which I agree with--then you may want something exciting to happen before you go back and have your flashback. If the flashback starts on the first page, then the reader may wonder why you didn't just start the book with the conversation with her mother.

    I'm a big fan of cats and I'm intrigued by the main character's magic.

    Hope that helps! Good luck.

  3. I agree with the above comments. Your opening sentence rocked, but then the paragraph sorta stalled for me, a bit. It seems like you have an amazing story here. I'm intrigued by Amelie's magic, where she's headed, and why she doesn't want to be a healer. I just think you can maybe better carry the momentum from the first sentence a bit further. Best of luck!

  4. I have to agree with the other comments: You have a great starting line with an immediate sense of danger -- don't abandon it! I'd stay in the moment and play it out, maybe have Amelie give an occasional throw-away thought like "I can't believe mom made me do this" or "This is why I didn't want to be a healer" to get us into Amelie's head and start sowing those exposition seeds.

    Side question: Is your story Women's Fiction? Because I did a double-take when you revealed the spirit animal, which I figured would put your story in the realm of Fantasy. Of course, this is likely me having a very poor understanding of what falls under Women's Fiction...

  5. I love a story that opens right in the middle of the action, but I find the first paragraph here disorienting. The line about everyone being someone’s son or daughter feels vague—it took me a couple reads to understand Amalie is referring to the cougar, and it doesn’t really clarify her mission or state of mind in that moment.

    The imagery is rich but doesn’t provide any context clues; it feels like we jump too soon into a flashback that also feels stronger on atmosphere than on context. I’d need this opener to be more grounded to really sweep me up.

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