Thursday, July 17, 2008

#95 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

Title: Blaze Jeremiah
Genre: Women's Fiction

Wrapped in the scent of camphor and holy candles, Blaze Jeremiah
drifted in the place where dreams and prayers were one, letting the
soothing sound of the saints brush her ears like a lullaby.

Saint Anthony, pray for us. Saint Benedict, pray for us. Saint
Bernard, pray for us.

Her mother was at work, at a brand new job in a brand new place. But
she might come home early like she did that night last week, waking
Blaze to lead her across the chilly hallway from Myrtle's apartment to
theirs. She might come home alone, calling Blaze "Baby" and fussing
with the blankets on the sofa bed. Blaze snuggled under Myrtle's
homemade afghan, wishing tonight would be like that.

Saint Dominic, pray for us. Saint Francis, pray for us. Saint Leo...

A sharp sound sliced the room, silencing the prayers.

"Lord Jesus." Myrtle struggled from her knees. The sound repeated.
"Gunshots," she said, hastily crossing herself.

Blaze clutched the afghan to her chest. There was shouting now, and
she could sense the panicky fear beneath the sounds as they jumbled
and bumped one another. One voice separated itself from the confusion.

It can't be. She's at work.

Blaze ran to the window, ignoring Myrtle's warnings to stay back.
"Mom. It's Mom."


  1. This is supper picky, but Blaze Jeremiah does not work for me as a name. It seems clumsy and doesn't roll off my tongue well. While it won't make me put the book down, it just warranted notation, I guess.

    The first few paragraphs didn't do anything for me. They seemed pretty normal, although they did quickly characterize Blaze's beliefs.

    By the end of this snippit, I was hooked to read at least a little more. This cound be interesting, to see how the gun wounds impact their lives (and if Mom lives).

  2. I'd keep reading.

    The language choices (drifting, soothing, prayer, lullaby) quickly conjure a secret safe world of a little girl while the prayer itself implies that there's a much harsher world outside. With the sound of a gunshot, we're thrust into it almost immediately.

    That kind of efficiency would make me turn the page.

  3. Yes-no-ish...

    I think this is well done. Poor kiddo.

    Um... probably only suggestion is making it clear what "sound of the saints" thing was. I imagined that Myrtle was reciting the Litany of Saints (possibly), but you need to make that clear.

  4. depending on the cover text I might keep reading. It's all so subjective, because to me at least a hook involves more than just the first 250 words. A combination of the cover, the jacket copy, then the first page will hook me. I keep reading otherwise ho-hum first pages because other aspects of the book appeal to me.

    If this were a short story I'd keep reading. But I'd want whatever appealed to me in those first two things to show up within the next 250 words.

    Best of luck to you!

  5. Lots of tension here, and the voice is engaging. I'd read on.

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  7. I'm on the fence. It's an interesting set up, but the sudden appearance of Myrtle (there's never an earlier mention that Blaze isn't alone in the room) pulled me out of the narrative.

    Also, the pacing at the end feels much too rushed. Soem additional sensory details would help, IMHO.

    Last thing. I'm guessing that Blaze is a male (since Jeremiah is a male name, and I'm assuming it's not a last name). If so, then the pronouns here confused me: But
    she might come home early like she did that night last week, waking
    Blaze to lead her across the chilly hallway from Myrtle's apartment to theirs. Who is leading who?

  8. Not for me. It might be a preference of genre, but nothing here quite hooks me. The gunshots and Blaze thinking she hears her mom intrigue me a little, but without knowing more about the plot, I doubt I'd read further.

  9. A no for now.

    The second half caught my interest, but the first half was confusing. Who is Blaze? How old is she? Where is she? In a church? At home in bed? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing if Mom came home early?

    I'm not saying that I need all of these questions answered right off the bat. But I needed a little more context. When I find an opening to be unclear, I worry I'll feel that way through the rest of the story too.

    If you tightened up the first three paragraphs and let us know a little more about who our MC is, then I'd be a yes.

  10. I don't think I'd read further. I didn't like the religious opening - on the one hand it sounded like catholicism but also like they were meditating. But that's a personal preference thing.

    I think I would probably have given it a yes if it had started at "A sharp sound...".

  11. I like the prayer. I like the details about the afghan. I don't like whatever it is you're doing with the tense. It's switching or I'm not reading it right, or something but it throws me and is enough for me to pass.

  12. Hooked.

    It started rather shaky until I figured out that she was at Myrtle's place saying her bedtime prayers. Then the gunshots and the fear of her mother being caught up in the crossfire...I'd read on to find out what happens.

    Blaze Jeremiah is a strange name and sounds masculine. I'd clarify her age, where she is, who she is with, and what time it is; the story might read smoother once all the facts are down.

  13. Not hooked. A lot of gerunds, and I got the impression that Myrtle wasn't praying when she said my Lord's name. Made me angry.

  14. I think I'm hooked? I had to go back and re-read, so I was confused. 1. Blaze Jeremiah is a strange name and sounds masculine so you'll need a way to define her age and sex in a way that's believable if you're going to keep that name. Also, I started off thinking she was an adult because the name sounds non-childish. Maybe she needs a nickname and we can find out the real deal later. 2. I'd love to know if the litany is music, which is what I thought at first, or a spoken prayer. 3. Didn't realize Myrtle was with her and only caught on during the second read. From the gunshots on was a fast, scary read and that's where you got me interested. Good luck!

  15. I'm hooked, but I didn't really feel that way until the very end. I'd like to know earlier on that Myrtle, and not Blaze, is the one reciting the saints. Until Myrtle suddenly appeared out of nowhere, I thought Blaze was reciting them in her head.

    The word choices are superb, the voice is great and the last two grafs just reeled me right on in. :-)

  16. No, sorry, but it's not a genre I'm interested, and while gunshots intrigue me, nothing else really grabs my attention here.

    Good luck,


  17. Yes, I'd keep reading--there's a really great sort of rocking rhythm to this and while I would like to know Myrtle is in the room earlier, and "Blaze Jeremiah" is a bit clunky especially coming as it does right up front, there's a strong voice at work here and I would want to keep going.