Wednesday, April 15, 2009

15 Secret Agent

TITLE: Tie-Dyed Blue
GENRE: Middle Grade

“Blue! Get your butt over here!” I shout into the darkening sky. Darn horse, running off like that. “Come on! It’s gonna rain.” Why didn’t he stay down in the valley? Safe.

Thunder rumbles through my West Virginia Mountains. My horse trembles. I lean over his neck. “Easy, Neon,” I whisper and watch his ears swivel back to me, listening.

Lightning crackles and zigzags above us. One long bolt breaks into a zillion splinters lighting the whole sky. I see Blue up on the ridge and watch in horror as he glows like a jewel in the brilliant flash. His long mane and tail stand out straight from his body. Then his legs buckle. He’s down!

The heck with safety, everything, except Big Blue. I push Neon into a gallop and we charge up the ridge.

Blue’s sprawled in the dirt not moving, head twisted. Odors of burnt hair and flesh fill my nose.

I jump to the ground and wrap my arms around his neck. “Blue, wake up! Wake up!” Raindrops mingle with my tears. More rain falls, buckets of it. I hunch over his head to keep the water from his nostrils

Finally, the storm rolls away, but rain still spits from the black sky. Blue blinks. His eyes flutter open. Way deep in the black of his eyes a weird yellow light flickers. I look closer. They’re glowing like a fourth-of-July sparkler.

“Blue, what’s that lightning done to you?”


  1. Ooo... I definitely want to read on. WHAT HAPPENED?? Cool!

  2. You definitley have the MG voice down, and I would totally read more to see what happened to the horse!

  3. I never got into horse stories, but isn't there a Big Blue in every one? Other than that name, you've got a great voice and excellent pace.

  4. It's an interesting story, I would read on to see what happens. I would join those one and two word sentences you have with the sentence before them. I would say he glows in the brilliant flash and take out 'like a jewel.' And I don't exactly understand the sentence. . The heck with safety, everything, except Big Blue. You have the beginnings of a good story.

  5. I loved the short choppy style. I want to know what's up with the horse. I even liked the present tense. Hooked.

  6. Great story. My 8 yr old daughter would love to read this.

  7. This is an exciting beginning. I would read on.

    "the heck with safety, everything, except Big Blue". Work with this a bit.

  8. What HAS the lightning done to him?

    I think you do a good job creating excitement in the opening.

    Good luck. AK

  9. Some rough spots in the prose, including a few places where it doesn't exactly sound in voice, but for girls who like horse books, this could take it to the next level. I'd read a few more pages...

  10. I'm hooked. Great voice, and I love the description of Blue's eyes. Glowing like a fourth-of-July sparkler. Perfect.

    Good luck! :)

  11. I think I've seen this before, but I really like the improvements, including the new title. Great job!

    I'd cut 'He's down.' It seems redundant.

  12. It was a bit confusing when she was looking for Blue, but then was on a different horse. I wasn't sure if it was the same person at first. I wasn't hooked - until the last sentence. Now I'm hooked!

  13. Hooked! You know what I enjoyed... I read so much description that reads like "here's description!! because books need description!" But your scene with the lightning and such was well done and didn't scream "description!" to me, even though it was. I actually crinkled my nose at the burnt hair. And I loved that the WV mountains were hers. Great!

  14. I think this could use a bit of work . . . could you change the beginning to:

    Lightning crackles and zigzags above us. One long bolt breaks into a zillion splinters, lighting the whole sky. I see Blue up on the ridge.

    "Blue, get your but over here!" I shouted. Darn horse, running off like that. "Come on. It's gonna rain."

    Thunder rumbles through the West Virginia Mountains. My horse trembles . . . etc.

    Then go with Blue getting struck by lightning.

    I think it would be an improvement and keep the action and pacing consistent.

    Just my opinion though. =D

  15. Not entirely sure about this one...

    Part of my deal is it feels a little rushed. Might need to back us up and give us a reason to feel TRAUMATIZED about this horse getting struck by lightning. Also give us better idea of setting as well as your protagonist.

  16. It's well written, but I'm not hooked. Parts of it feel overwritten to me, and there's some tense problems that kept jarring me out of the narrative.

  17. I like it. It's always hard to judge something so short, but I'm interested in more, what happens to the horse, the girl. Being struck by lightening is scary, but it seems to have left the horse in some sort of altered state I'm curious about. Thanks for that!

  18. I like the premise here, that a beloved horse gets struck by lightening and it changes him. It's got some mystery, and horses. Good combo.

    For me, I didn't really like the present tense. And even though you have nice details about the smell of the burnt hair and the girl covering the horse to protect his nose, I didn't really feel her anguish myself. I can't really put my finger on what was missing. Maybe something on what she is feeling - heart pounding in throat, difficulty breathing, some sense of panic? Just my $.02.

    Good luck!

  19. Intriguing, however the writing could be tightened up a tad.

    For example, I thought she was without a horse because Blue had run off. Then she is on Neon and I had to change my 'mind' so to speak.

    "through my West Virginia Mountains. My horse trembles" Lots of 'my'. Why 'my' West Virginia?

    "The heck with safety, everything, except Big Blue." I get what you mean, but it isn't coming across as well as it could.

    Interesting premise. I'm curious!

    "bolt breaks into a zillion splinters lighting the whole sky" I really like that.

  20. While well-written, this doesn't entice me to read further. I can already imagine what happened, and though I could be wrong, in my mind, I've completed the story already, so I don't need to read more.

    I was also confused about the two horses, but liked the "my" mountains.

  21. The two horses confused me at first as well. I was glad to learn Blue wasn't dead!

    Nitpick: There's a period missing after "nostrils."

    I am curious to find out what happened to Blue, but I didn't like the question "What's that lightning done to you?" The line about the fourth-of-July sparkler was a tantalizing hint, and then the question just fell flat. I wanted to see Blue do something unusual!

  22. This didn't really hook me but
    a)I'm not into horses
    b) I'm not in your target audience
    c) I think I've seen this before so I know what happens to the horse, so I'm not enticed by the mystery to read on.

    The bit about Neon confused me too, because when we found out Blue had run off, I assumed she didn't have a horse.

  23. Nice writing.
    just 2 pickies here: period after nostrils.
    Finally could be more precise, maybe less than an hour or minutes later.
    I didn't like her already sitting on Neon just waiting for a problem to occur...better she saddle up when she sees Blue heading for trouble.

  24. I really like the voice in this! The only suggestions I have are to put a comma after splinters in the third paragraph and to remove the word way in the second last paragraph. Great writing!

  25. It's a very interesting premise, but I just don't like present tense as a story telling medium.
    I see I'm the only one in that camp though. I guess it's just me.

    Nice job otherwise.

  26. I thought this was well written overall, but a few things bothered me. The last line didn't sound right, maybe "Blue, your eyes, what's wrong?" or something like that. Or maybe nothing would be best. I might read another page or two but for some reason this doesn't interest me - it might be the horse story - not into those in years!

  27. Good drama to start things off, but the cliches kill it for me. "Buckets" of rain, the sky spitting, use of the (made up) word "zillion." There are better words that could have been used that would really make a big difference in creating compelling imagery. Sorry, not hooked.