Wednesday, July 15, 2009

20 Secret Agent

TITLE: Love: Free of Conditions
GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction

My first summer at Penn State went by entirely too fast. In a few short weeks, I began to realize that my southern accent was a secret weapon. Strange, because I was the same plain girl that left Mississippi, and her crazy mother, without a second thought.

But up here, I was a novelty, something to be admired.
Must be a northern thing!

It was the weekend before my freshmen semester was to start and I didn’t have to work at the Deli. Perfect weekend for boy hunting! They were replaying an old gushy movie, Jerry Maguire. I talked the girls into going, but only if I promised to go to the Deli afterwards.

I spent my summer working there and knew there would be a slew of boys to pick from. There were always football players in the restaurant!

A date or two, before school started was all we wanted.

We walked up the steps to see the movie and my roommate, Casey, started waving to a group of people sitting on the stairs. There were three guys, one playing the guitar and at least seven girls hovering around, listening to the music.

I half smiled and looked at Stacey. We had seen this group earlier in the summer. They were hovering, just like before, over this guy playing the guitar. He never lifted his face before, not until Casey yelled out his name.

“Wes Deluca!”

He looked up from his guitar and his blue eyes locked onto mine.


  1. Why is her southern accent a secret weapon? Does it attract the college boys? Does it make people underestimate her - btw, what's her name?

    Also, since I'm from the North, but now live in the South . . . never heard of someone referring to someone from the south as a 'novelty thing'. In fact, when I returned to visit, my accent was more often made fun of then anything else.

    Personally - the story needs 'something' more. Based on the first 250, I really wouldn't read more. Where's the conflict? The drama? What's so special about this unnamed character that's going to want me to read more.

    There's definitely potential here. Polish it up, make it shine!

    Best of luck.


  2. I'm different from commenter #1... I immediately assumed the accent attracted attention in a good way, the way girls like French accents and others like the Aussie accent. And for me, the idea was an unusual start for a book, and so it intrigued me!

    But then you jerked me out by going back and setting the scene. Filter the scene in more subtly and jump us straight to a scene that's compelling and interesting...something that makes we want to know all this background information, rather than shoving it at me before I'm interested.

    The "There were three guys..." sentence needs to be deleted. It's too telling, and the next paragraph gives us the same scene information, only in her POV.

    Why did his eyes lock with hers, when she's not the one that said his name? It's natural to look toward the source of the voice that said your name, and that wasn't her.

    Am I hooked still? Not really.

  3. I'm not quite sure what's going on here. The first two paragraphs hook me - though I think they would read better as one - but then the switch to talking about her job/need for a date is jarring. Perhaps moving straight into a conversation where the accent works its magic would be more effective?
    Also, why are they all up at college before the semester starts? Is it only British freshmen who all go back on the same day? That I'm asking this at all instead of focussing on the story suggests that the hook needs to be more consuming.

  4. I am interested to see where this is going. College age protagonists are tricky. I would say that the voice here is more YA than adult.

    Not hooked yet.

  5. I'm not hooked yet.

    As an adult, I'm not sure I would read a book with the voice of a college student as the narrator unless something grabbed me immediately.

  6. Giggles***

    The southern accent thing is true. Or more to the point, if you have a southern accent it immediately makes people think you are a comfy nice and charming person. :]

    Is Jerry Maquire gushy....? o_O

    Lemme see... This seems to be a college book which is in that nebulous place between YA and Adult and usually put over in the adult stacks.

    I do like the voice, but not entirely hooked. Probably would like to see the back of the book.

  7. I understood the accent thing also and loved it..

    I would read on, especially to find out about the crazy mother.

  8. When you said 'first Summer' I assumed this was the first summer AFTER Freshman year, because I don't think most people spend the summer before Freshman year at the college. But then it's 'the weekend before my freshman semester' plus she already has all these friends so I'm totally confused.

    Your second sentence is much stronger than your first, so I;d switch it up.

    If this is adult fiction... as an adult, I'm not interested in the boy hunting eighteen year old protag, at least not as is. She seems a bit vacuous. I want to be charmed by a charming Southerner.

  9. The voice of this is confusing me a bit. The story feels more YA than adult fiction, but the looking back narrative voice doesn't feel YA to me. So I'm left scratching my with more pages, if the reader is intrigued, the genre and voice might smooth out and become clear. But just from this, I really don't know what to think. Except it also doesn't feel literary to me.

    So, smooth writing and well-written and it sets a scene and time very well, but after reading it twice I'm sort of left thinking, well, so what?

    If the narrative voice is that of a contemporary college-age protagonist throughout the book, then I fear this will fall in that strange place where it feels too old (and quiet) for YA, and not mature enough for a marketable adult readership. But, I'd call it YA and try to make it clear it stays in that first year of college (or how ever much of college) and focus on her as an 18-19 year-old, and see.

    But if the narrative voice is looking back here, from a solidly adult perspective, I'd find a way to make that clear in this bit - some detail to give the sense of nostalgia or lessons learned, so that the reader can be assured that the plot and perspective will not remain college age.

    good luck.

  10. I wanted one consistent thread here. I liked the accent bit, and having moved from the south to the north in high school, I agree that can be true.

    I too was confused by it being the weekend before freshman year, yet this girl already had a job and friends in her new college town. The voice sounded more YA than adult to me. Other than starting college, I'm not sure what this is about.

  11. I agree with what Kathleen said about the accent paragraphs being good, but the following paragraphs being jarring.

    I'm another person who is confused by the fact that this girl hasn't started college yet, but already seems to have made friends with her roomie and has a job that she's been at for a while.

  12. I like the first paragraph. I'm interested in this girl who left her southern roots behind. After that, I'm kind of wondering what's happening - the Deli kind of threw me off - why would she have to promise to go there after the movie? I also can't visualize a movie theater with stairs and people sitting on them.

    I love the blue eyes and the guitar, so I'm curious, but I think the middle part needs to be tighter. I think you could show more of this, also, through action and dialogue.

    Good luck!

  13. I found the excessive exclamation points a little distracting.

  14. I'm not hooked because the time line confused me: first summer at Penn State, but she already has friends and a job and it is right before her first semester as a freshman? That isn't a normal college experience, so if she moved up early to work and is not living on campus with a few other girls as well, you need to give us that info right away.

    Doesn't seem like literary fiction, but I wouldn't slate it in YA either because of the age of the protagonist. To me, this seems a little adult commercial--maybe even chick lit?

  15. Hmmm, this is a hard call. I'm interested but not sold. There are some difficult things to get my mind around, like the Deli thing -- in one place it sounds like she's been persuaded to go to the deli and then it seems like she set it up so she could go there to pick up some guys. That's confusing.

    I think I might be interested in reading more after you do another revision.

    Good luck.

  16. Not hooked. The title itself made me think I was going to be taught a moral lesson.

    And as I read, there was just too much that seemed illogical to me, all pointed out by previous commentors.

    This needs something more. I can't offer suggestions because I have no clue as to where it's going, except that it seems it will be a romance.