Wednesday, July 15, 2009

25 Secret Agent

GENRE: Contemporary YA

July 11, 2008

All these kids are so . . . wholesome.

I wish Mom hadn’t forced me to come to this place. She only wants to brag to her friends about me getting accepted into the program. “You have such a lovely, talented girl,” they’ll say—then turn around and talk crap about us both.

I’m a fraud. And this is prison.

These kids make me want to puke. Or maybe that’s the dining hall food. Will the directors send me home a week early if I claim dysentery?

Last night, we all sat around in the common room watching TV. One of those condom commercials with the pigs came on, and my body burned. Didn’t I laugh at this commercial six months ago?

Are the other girls staring at me? I can’t tell. Most of them sit behind me. I’m positive their eyes—all in sync— brand a scarlet “P” on my back. They’ve secretly called me out on my bulls*** lie.

It terrifies me.

If someone confronts me, I’ll keep lying.

There’s a dance tonight. I brought my prom dress. Perhaps it will zip if I’m lucky. Suck it in, hoebag . . . it’s not too obvious!


The fuchsia journal, littered with random doodles and sketches, was a heavy weight in my hands. I skimmed over the condemning words—hating myself a little more. My sloppy scrawl screamed at me, “Do the right thing!” Too bad it didn’t specify what that was.

I was dying to know.


  1. The journal part is a bit confusing--perhaps it's the formatting here. I didn't realize until I got to the second to last bit that it was a journal and then my only clue was the date at the top. I'm thinking: italics or something to let us know it's a journal entry?

    Also, I think it might be better to have her write: This feels like prison, instead of This is prison. I assumed she was actually in prison and had to read further to discern she wasn't. Giving us a sense of place may help. You give us such a good description of the journal itself--let's see where she is too. Right now I'm not sure if she's at boarding school, a dance class, some kind of camp?

    Overall good voice. Love the title.

  2. I like the intrigue, not knowing exactly where she is? Although I don't know if I like that it began with the journal entry. I don't feel connected to this character right away because her entries are so blunt.

  3. I agree that the journal bit is confusing - I assumed you were writing straight from the character's perspective. That said, this is hilarious! Kinsey is so convincingly misanthropic (I remember hating everyone in that kind of way!) and her observations are sharp in just the right way. I'd definitely read on.

  4. The voice was good for me, but I was also a bit confused by the journal part. I thought the story started on that day and that was just the MC's actions. It took a second for me to figure out what was going on. (I'm guessing in your actual ms this is differentiated somehow?)

    I'm interested to know more. I'd keep reading. Good luck!

  5. ya know what? I like it! it needs tightening up but I'd read on !

  6. I would leave out the journal entry part, but I am VERY intrigued in this story.

    I also don't understand what this phrase means: and my body burned

    But I am TOTALLY hooked... I would absolutely read on.

  7. I'm hooked. Journal was a little confusing, but I chalked that up to formatting. The voice is bitter and biting and seems quite realistic, and it's an intriguing premise.

  8. Yes, I'm hooked.

    I wonder if the letter or diary might be too oldfashioned. Make it a blog entry instead?

    Obvious the girl is preggers and freaking out - as strongly shown.

  9. I had no problem with the journal entry form, but I thought the whole thing would be in a journal style. (This is just a formatting issue.)

    I liked this a lot, and would definitely read more.

  10. I love the concept so far, but I hate the format--I personally loath YA books with journal entries.

    I found the time line a bit confusing in this section (did she write this today or a year ago?) but I suspect that would be cleared up shortly.

    That said, I liked the voice, and I like what you aren't telling us--I think it will pull readers into the book. I wish we knew what sort of program she was in though.

    I'd read more.

  11. I'm pretty darn hooked. The last 2 lines of the journal entry did it for me. :)

    I was confused when it switched from journal to, I assume, present day. I'm also confused by how much time has passed from the time of the journal entry until the present day, but i'm guessing you'd clear that up later?

    I saw someone comment about perhaps changing "this is prison" to "this feels like prison." I wouldn't do that, but that's just me. "This is prison" = much stronger.

    I'd definitely read on.

    Good luck!

  12. Other are a lot quicker than I am, because I had to read the comments to get that Kinsey was pregnant. Although I enjoyed her voice a lot, I finsihed the entry thinking what the he!! just happened?? Now that I get the preggers part, it makes a lot more sense. Maybe it's just me... I think what confused me was that her mom sent her to the program so she could brag - but that doesn't fit with the pregnant teen scenario. Did she really send her away to cover up the pregnancy, or does no one know yet? If there's anyway to make it more obvious that she's knocked up w/o actually saying it, taht would probably help dim-witted readers like me. :)

  13. I like sound familiar.

    If you ever go on Verla Kay's writers website, that might be where I recognize this.

    Anyway, GREAT JOB! Loved it!

  14. Hooked. I thought she had a great voice, and you let the story happen. You don't explain every little thing. You give your reader credit for having a brain.

    I generally don't like 'journal' stories, but you did this really well. I can believe a teenage girl wrote that, as opposed to a writer.