Wednesday, April 15, 2009

31 Secret Agent

TITLE:Quest for the Holey Cheese
GENRE: Middle grade fantasy

I nibbled on a barley crumb clutched between my claws and glanced sideways at Silver Whiskers. The withered old rat lay in a lump next to me. His gray cheeks sagged, and his whiskers drooped in the dirt of the peasant’s hut.

I reached out and poked his dark furry chest to check for life. Looney old rat.

“Finkus,” he said in a raspy voice, his claws grasping the air.

“What?” I asked, quite tired of the whole ‘I’m dying’ routine.

His eyes, haunted by shadows, begged for an answer.

It was the same unspoken question every day. I scooped up another crumb and sighed. “Reginald still hasn’t returned.”

Silver Whiskers hung his head. His body quivered, and he groaned in the effort to inch forward. “Come close.”

I hobbled toward him, dragging my stubby leg across the reeds.

“Fink, you’re the only one to stay by me.”

“Only because—”

“Sh, youngster, don’t interrupt.”

I rolled my eyes. Even in his dying moments, ole Silver Whiskers had to scold; and, of course, it had to be me. I cursed the crippled leg that kept me prisoner in this hut, enslaved to his endless ramblings.

“You have proven yourself....” His body sagged, and a long, rattling breath pushed out from his belly.

I crept forward, curious. Despite the rejection of that bitter, bitter day, a part of me, deep down, longed to know the secret behind the quest—the one I hadn’t been picked for.


  1. This was written smoothly with just the right amount of detail- it neither bogged down the story nor felt too barren. And the secret quest at the end is a great hook.

  2. This was written good. The only thing I noticed was that at the beginning he was close enough to reach out and poke him, but later he hobbled toward him, dragging his leg as if he was farther away. I'm not into fantasy, but if I was, I would probably read on.

  3. I simply enjoyed this a great deal! I liked coming in immediately as something other than human. It pulled me right into it, without any hitch or snag in my reading. Neatly done!

    "I nibbled on a barley crumb clutched between my claws and glanced sideways at Silver Whiskers."

    I'm definitely in on this quest! I loved Watership Downs, Rabbit Hill, the biography stories with the mouse over Ben Franklin's ear (or whatever it was) Sign me up.

  4. I think this is really well written. I love the character, Finkus and I love how he calls the other one a loony old rat.

    I also want to know the secret behind the quest. I don’t have any negative comments at all. I would buy this book. I’m definitely hooked.

  5. I liked this. The flow of dialogue was written well.

    I would read on.

  6. 3 CommentsClose this window Jump to comment form
    DebraLSchubert said...
    This is not my genre, but I think it's a compelling start. The relationship between Robby and his mom (I assume Robby is a "he") and the question of when and if his powers will arrive are great hooks. I also get a good sense of Robby and Adrial's personalities in a short amount of space. Good work. Best of luck!

    April 15, 2009 1:05 PM

    ldpauling said...
    Pretty good. I'd keep reading. Though, maybe get in there that its a boy, because I was picturing a girl, so it surprised me when the mom called him Robby.

    Why does he have such an American name, while she has a magical name like Adrial. No wonder he can't do magic. :)

    April 15, 2009 1:06 PM

    Dorothy said...
    Lost my whole crit trying to go back to look. Well, here goes again. I love the title. I also love the voice of the young caretaker, not by his choic of course.

    One thing I'd do is drop the dark from furry chest because you've said silver whiskers and gray cheeks, so don't confuse me with dark. Got the picture okay.

    Another thing I'd do is, drop the whole "What?" line and add next line to "Finkus?" Then, insert in Fincus's line, after 'sighed', the part of him being tired of the whole dying routine.

    Nice work. Whatever the story is, kids of MG age will love it, I think. I suspect you'll make it something that relates to their lives. Good luck

  7. This was fun; you've got a great sense of humor and I loved the loony old rat line. I also loved how he was tired of the whole dying routine until I realized that Silver Whiskers is really dying. Sounds like he's just a crazy old rat but still I do wonder if you're making your MC appear too cold and heartless right in the beginning. I'd keep reading though because you've got a great voice and write well.

  8. I'm intrigued. I'd read on.

    I like the way you described the rats. Good, fitting details that brings us into their world.

    Consider me hooked.

  9. Hooked! Loved the voice and want to read more! Especially about the quest he wasn't picked for.

  10. I enjoyed this. My only issue was that at the start you said that he was tired of the "I'm dying" routine which made me think he wasn't really dying...

    But then I discover that he is. So I think I'd just add a sentence at the top that says something like, "although he WAS dying, he sure milked it for all it was worth." Or I don't know - something like that.

    But I would read on.

  11. I loved this. I thought the writing was excellant and I was immediately sucked into the story. I enjoyed the interplay between the characters and feel like I have a good sense of the characters. I'd definitely read on! Also, I love your title.

    Great job and good luck!

  12. Very nice start. Tiny nit: not sure a kid would 'curse' his leg. I really liked the bit about MC being sick of the whole dying routine. Perfect for MG.

  13. Kids love animals who talk. They'd be hooked. I'm hooked on your imagery, description, did I mention dialogue. Bravo.

  14. Cute<:

    Novels with animal protags usually make me glaze over. Definitely not my thing.

    I do appreciate three things:

    1. storyworkings
    2. voice
    3. the rats aren't wearing clothes.

    Random note: Did you know in certain places, rats are considered extremely lucky and are given a high spot on the zodiac. There are budhist temples where rats are worshipped. And people go out of their way to eat food that the rats at these temples nibbled on.

  15. Really nice start. I don't read a lot of MG, but this has a really nice MG feel and tone. I was a little confused by the last sentence, but overall, this was a great start.

  16. I'm not a huge fan of anthropomorphic stories either, but you've got a good voice for Finkus so I might be tempted to read on a bit more.

    That "quest" part did put me in mind of the Rats of NIMH.

  17. Wonderful writing. I'd keep reading for that reason alone. You write like a pro.

    Good luck!

  18. I'm quite familiar with this, but I think it's solidly written and I like Finkus' voice. I also like the wise old rat, and the idea of the quest. The thing I go back and forth on is the repeat of "bitter" - not 100% sure how I feel about that. But good work.

  19. I really liked the voice and thought this was really well written. I'm also not really into animal's talking, but that's just personal and the writing is really good.

  20. I'm hooked and I don't even like rats. Great voice.

  21. Hey look! Someone's rolling their eyes again!

    I'm afraid I'm not a natural fan of anthropomorphism. Based on that, and just these 250 words, I would not read on, even though the "looney old rat" line is a nice one.

  22. This probably isn't something I would choose to read, but you did a nice job with this. I like the details you've presented about your characters, the voice and the question you've raised about the quest.

    I'm not sure, but I think maybe that ; after scold should be a comma.

    (My word ver is questert. Weird.)

  23. I'm not a big fan of animal stories either, but then I'm not your target audience. I was a little intrigued by the quest, and definitely liked the fact that the MC wasn't picked for the quest.

  24. I liked the pace of this and although I queried the word stubby as a POV issue, but reading on justified it.

    I liked the voice and premise and would read on.

  25. The end got my curiousity and I would read a couple of pages to learn the secret but otherwise I wasn't hooked. The first thing that put me off was the barley crumb. Perhaps crumb was meant in the figurative way (a tiny piece of barley), but barley's a grain and it doesn't crumble, I don't think. Also, the mc isn't very sympathetic which turned me off a little too. I do like the writing style.

  26. I liked this and I know my 10 year old son would LOVE it. He loves talking animals and has a strange obsession with cheese. Keep writing. Keep querying. Wishing you the best.

  27. If I were an agent, I would ask to see more, but I'm not 100% behind it.

    Funny, yes, but not compelling. What's at stake has to be as important as the punchlines--see Terry Pratchett.

  28. Unfortunately, the anthropomorphized rat thing has been done a lot lately (think Ratatouille and Firmin), and they've been done much more compellingly. Sorry, not interested.

  29. I’m compelled to add something. I’ve had the privilege to read the whole of this story, and I must say that it’s one of the funniest rat stories I’ve ever read. The characters are hilarious and I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished it. It really tickled my funny bone. I only wish that I could write as well.