Wednesday, March 18, 2009

33 Secret Agent

GENRE: YA Mystery

In one moment, Brooke celebrated how the warm sun on her skin was lifting her mood. In the next, she lay sprawled on the sidewalk, deciding that her most memorable summer was shaping up to be one that she’d rather forget. As she stared at the massive black Lab sitting on top of her, she wondered, how would Heidi Klum handle this?

Of course, the supermodel would be safely inside the spa enjoying her facial, because her aunt would never bump her from the schedule in the first place. So, Brooke concluded, she’d better figure things out for herself.

“Get off me,” she gasped. Brooke shoved against the animal’s chest but the dog had the upper paw, so to speak. She craned her head toward the resort’s lodge, and a younger, blonder version of Heidi Klum glided into view.

Although Brooke’s cousin wasn’t remotely related to the celebrity, Shelby’s burgeoning modeling portfolio proved she had potential. And their resemblance also explained why Brooke was suffering from Heidi Klum on the brain.

“Bad girl, Mindy!” Shelby scolded, pushing the canine away.

“Thanks,” said Brooke. “I didn’t know you guys had a dog.”

“Dad brought her home after he watched a Minnesota Bound marathon, saying a dog would be perfect for our resort. Mom thinks it’s the worst idea he’s ever had.”

Mindy blended into the resort’s ambience as well as a rampaging Peewee hockey player in a figure skating competition. Which, Brooke realized, was something she could also say about herself.


  1. I'd tighten the opening line and making it more direct:

    "In one moment, Brooke was celebrating the warm sun on her skin. In the next, she lay sprawled on the sidewalk. What was supposed to be her most memorable summer was shaping up to be one that she’d rather forget."

  2. I'm having trouble with the disconnect here. Brooke is "gasping" cuz this giant dog is sitting on top of her, which implies the dog on her chest is more than a nuisance... it's actually making it hard for her to breathe.

    In that sort of case, pushing the dog off would be a reflex. Yet she lies there ruminating about Heidi Klum and facials.

    I think this needs to be rearranged. Have her push at the dog immediately after he knocks her down (she can gasp then, the wind could be knocked out of her), struggle unsuccessfully to get free.

    Then, when she's trapped, but not unable to breathe, let her ponder about Heidi Klum and facials and this being a summer she'd rather forget.

    I'd either cut the "figure things out for herself" sentence or give Brooke a more innovative way to try to get rid of the dog than pushing it. That doesn't require a lot of "figuring out".

    I think with a little editing, this opening could work quite well. "In one moment, Brooke celebrated how the warm sun on her skin was lifting her mood. In the next, she lay sprawled on the sidewalk." would make a terrific first paragraph.

    Good luck!

  3. I had a little trouble with the opening too. A little tightening and rewriting and you will be good to go. I really like the way her thoughts wander a bit, it makes it real.

    Good Job!

  4. I find the rampant alliteration distracting: "remotely related", "Shelby scolded", "portfolio proved ... potential".

    I'd also split the "Dad brought her home" sentence into two. It seems a little lengthy, especially for someone who is concentrating on pulling a dog off of someone else.

    I do like the voice, though. Maybe a little meandering, but still interesting.

  5. I agree this needs to be tightened up a bit, and Brooke shoving the dog off should be her immediate reaction. Also, is the dog panting doggy-breath in her face? Drooling on her? Dirty, wet paws on her new shirt? You could make the opening even funnier, and more awkward.

    I loved this: "Mindy blended into the resort’s ambience [ambiance] as well as a rampaging Peewee hockey player in a figure skating competition. Which, Brooke realized, was something she could also say about herself."

    It made me wonder why, so I'd definitely turn the page to find out.

  6. Another vote for tightening up -- and I too thought the last paragraph was great. Best part of the excerpt. ("Rampaging" is the perfect verb to use for a Peewee hockey player.)

  7. Not hooked... I'm sorry.

    I have three big dogs. They don't just jump on and sit on people. She wouldn't be thinking about the weather and all that other stuff because the dog would be doing the welcoming frenzy thing. Lots of tongue and drool. ;]

    And I'm not sure about using famous people in books...

  8. I really liked the peewee hockey metaphor at the end. I like the joke about the dog's paw too. I didn't know who Heidi Klum was but I understood when you started talking about models. I think it would capture a young reader's attention more if the pace was quicker--more action, less thought.

  9. I stumbled slightly on the first sentences, because of the 'ins'. I think you could tighten from the start by deleting those: 'One moment...The next.' And I agree that those sentences could be tightened in other spots too.

    Other than that, love the lolloping dog, although I agree that she would be showered in licks. LOL 'upper paw'! (I don't think you need 'so to speak')

    A bit of a tighten and I think this will be leading into something hilarious!

  10. Not quite hooked, sorry. The opening feels overwritten to me. Also, there's no clear "hook" since you reveal it's a dog early on--and not a dangerous dog. T ease us with the overall plot of the novel, through action and tension--give us a question we'll want answered by the end of the novel, right up front.

  11. I'm not sure how old Brooke is that a Black Lab would be capable of knocking her over. Also, Labs are pretty friendly dogs and usually don't bulldoze people.

    Otherwise, the writing is light enough for YA. Good luck

  12. I'm not any kind of expert, but I think your voice is good for YA.

    Others have already mentioned the details that could use tightening, but aside from the nits picked, I like the voice, the tone, the pacing. I'd read on--not forever without a plot/conflict, but certainly a few more pages!

    Oh, and for CB, labs are so strong and enthusiastic, one could knock over Gov. Arnold if it got excited. Unless it's one of the mellow ones I've never had ;)

  13. Too much Heidi Klum--most of the second paragraph could be cut. Dogs really don't sit on people's chests--they wiggle too much. You need to make it much clearer, to get to the cool grain of a story: She's at her aunt's, she has a gorgeous cousin, they have a dog, something's going to happen (probably having nothing to do with the dog, which is fine).


  14. Sorry, but I'm not hooked at all. I don't sense any mystery here, or get any sense of it going anywhere. Of course what do I know (rhetorical question)? This is only 250 words.

    I definitely think it needs tighting up so we get to the hook sooner . . . whatever that might be. For example, cut out the second paragraph. It's slowing things down. The fourth paragraph doesn't add to it either. You could easily mention that the Heidi Klum look alike is her cousin in the third paragraph.

    Good luck!

  15. Too many mentions of Heidi, but I'd read more...250 words is not much to go with and not every story has to start with an explosion. Like the humor in the voice and yes, could use a bit of tightening as others suggested. I'd read more!

  16. I thought this was well written. It flowed along without a hitch. Loved the references to Heidi Klum. Hope it gets published before they all forget who she was.

    There's an air of mystery that I can't quite point out, but I want to read on to find out why this girl is at her aunts spa and how her cousin fits into the plot.

    The first sentence doesn't make me feel she's been too surprised, is my main quibble. If she were forced to the ground by a huge dog, it might be a greater shock.

  17. I liked the last paragraph, but thought the bits prior to it should be rewritten. The idea may or may not be interesting - great looking cousin (sister, friend,etc.) with not so great protag. That seems overused, but if there's a new twist soon, I'll keep reading.