Thursday, July 17, 2008

#97 SECRET AGENT Are You Hooked?

TITLE: French Impression
GENRE: Mainstream

"Allo? Allo? Who is this, please?"

Miriam Roche thought the voice on the phone sounded vaguely
familiar. She glanced around
the ornately decorated hotel room.
The man lying asleep next to her was the suave
Frenchman she'd met last night.

Miriam didn't recognize the black
cell phone in her hand, nor did she remember
reaching across Raoul's sleeping body to answer it. Over two decades
of working for a global company, twenty-four years of motherhood, and
five agonizing years of late-night phone calls about her husband's
condition meant she wasn't capable of letting any phone go

"Allo? Where is my husband?"

Miriam stared at the cell phone with horror, as she recognized the
voice as her new French boss. She felt a
brief impulse to say the five words that were
supposed to be useful in every situation, "Excuse me for disturbing
you." She didn't think they would help.
She fought her growing panic, hitting
the end call button to stop any further words.

As a flood
of memories from last night returned to her sleep-befuddled brain, she
tried to piece together the
events since she'd arrived in Paris.
Her ability to think
wasn't helped by the wave of guilt
for having betrayed Jay. Her husband had only been dead a year and a
half. She was supposed
to be starting a grand adventure, not waking up after having sex
with a married man.


  1. I'm sorry, but this didn't quite hook me. I just have a few suggestions. If she's in france, shouldn't her boss be speaking in french? Not in english with an accent? Also, I'm not sure why the five words 'excuse me for disturbing you' are supposed to be useful in every situation. They wouldn't be the first thing I thought of saying in any situation.

    Hope this helps!
    It probably didn't hook me because I don't read this genre at all. Good luck!

    Emily H

  2. Yes!

    I thought the situation of waking up in bed with a strange man and then discovering he was your new boss' husband was fantastic!

    I certainly would read on!


  3. No, I'm sorry.

    But that's because it isn't my type. Also the formatting got messed up a little.

    It IS well-done though, and the character shows up well and sympathetic.

  4. This is fun! I'd definitely read on. Wow, Miriam really stuck her foot in it, didn't she? Nice job!

  5. Dead husband. Waking up with a married man. What's not to love. Yes, I'd read more.

  6. Yes. I do have to warn you though, you will receive flack for the whole waking up at the start of a novel.

    I do like the whole thing of not realizing why you answered the cellphone, maybe it had the same ringtone or something, but just the answering the phone and not knowing who it was and waking up halfway through the conversation is always something to fret about.

  7. I liked it. However I have a problem with this line.

    She felt a
    brief impulse to say the five words that were
    supposed to be useful in every situation, "Excuse me for disturbing
    you." She didn't think they would help.

    If she answered the phone, why would she even think about saying this? It confused me..

    I would continue reading though.

  8. Not just yet. There's potential here, btu the execution just feels forced, like you're trying to jam as much backstory into the 250 word space as possible. We don't need to know right now that her husband is dead, or that she has five children, or even her reasons behind answering the phone. Focus on the phone call and the implications/guilt of sleeping with a man married to her boss. That's where the potential for conflict lies.

  9. The first time I read this, ages ago, it hooked me -- and it continues to do so. I actually liked the line about the five words that should be helpful in every situation, although IMO you could say that when she learned French she was taught the five words, but somehow the teacher didn't tell her what to say in this situation. Or something like that, so that the comment makes a little more sense.

    I semi-agree with the comment about leaving out her backstory about WHY she answered the phone. It sets up part of her guilt: she has a dead husband who she feels she's betraying; but then the rest isn't super-pertinent to the opening of the story.

    Overall, yes, I'm hooked. :)

  10. Oh yeah, I'd read on. Good voice, good setup.

  11. No -- but I think it's more a preference of genre than the opening itself. The writing feels tight, but neither Miriam nor the situation hook me.

  12. I would probably read a little further before making a final judgment about whether to buy the book. The main character sounds like someone I would sympathise with and I would like to know more about how she ended up in this situation.

    The dialogue did bother me a bit. Surely the woman would be speaking French? And, if so, then the writing would translate directly and not into french-accented english... I might be missing something, though.

  13. Not hooked.

    Would love to read about an adventure in Paris especially given the MC's background, but the subject matter and genre is not my thing.

    The writing was tight, though, and I agree that the woman on the line should be speaking french when calling her husband.

  14. Sorry: pass. I don't care for the genre. Also, the phone conversation confused me. If he had called her, why was she apologizing for... *confused*

  15. Not entirely hooked. I like the premise of waking up in bed with her boss' husband, but then I got lost in the back story, which I think might be more effective later on. (It's important for readers to know that Miriam's husband is dead and that she answered the phone as a gut reaction, but I think cluing us in at this point lessens the panic and tension Miriam must be feeling at this juncture. It's just my opinion, but I think playing up the panic and tension would make a more effective "hook.")

  16. Well, no. I like the situation but it begins with a phone call and her waking up (or rather, she just woke up), which I can't stand--it's too over used, IMO.

    Good luck,


  17. Hehe, I like Miriam and her voice. It could stand paring down and de-backstory-ifying a bit, but I like it overall :)

  18. Hmm, close here. There's a lot I like (including the much debated "essential French phrase") but there are other points mostly related to backstory that work less well for me ("Her ability to think
    wasn't helped by the wave of guilt"). I'd probably give it more pages because I'd be curious about what led to these events (and this is one instance where waking up felt like a fine way to start the story).