Wednesday, January 13, 2010

27 Secret Agent

TITLE: The Third Tower
GENRE: Mid-grade fantasy

“You don’t know what it’s like. Not knowing if you’re like your mom or dad.” Jasmine knew she shouldn’t have said it the moment it came out of her mouth. She shouldn’t have called her birthparents that—her Mom and Dad. They weren’t. Not really. She didn’t even know them. But even though she was eleven now, she still couldn’t stop thinking about them and wondering who they were.

Her mother, standing in their kitchen cutting fruit, held the knife in the air for a second. It clunked against the wooden cutting board as she sliced a strawberry.

“I just wish I knew who’s tall like me. Or who likes swimming. Stuff like that,” Jasmine said, hoping she was explaining what she meant better.

“I do too, honey. But at least you have the baby pictures of yourself at the orphanage in China.”

The sweet scent of roses from a nearby vase mingled with the fruity aroma of strawberries. The sun, streaming into the window overlooking their backyard, cast a rainbow on the counter. Jasmine stared at the rainbow as she gripped the small photo album her mom had made for her. It contained the only information she had about the first year of her life.

“I know,” Jasmine said. It’s just—”

“We’re so lucky to have even that. If I hadn’t thought to send the orphanage a camera.” Her mom moved to hug her.

Jasmine stepped back.


“No. You don’t know how it feels!”


  1. The MC's motivation feels uneven to me--at first she is apologetic and hesitant to offend her adopted mother; at the end she is lashing out at her. Also, the mentions of the different moms and dads are hard to keep track of. Is this the point where your story starts or can you begin with pivotal action and work some of this in as backstory?

  2. This looks interesting. I'd keep reading, I'd like to know how being adopted from China fits into a Middle grade fantasy.

  3. The first paragraph caught my interest, but I didn't get a clear sense of the character in the rest of the sample.

  4. Jasmine sounds very confused - which you are effectively conveying if that's your intent. The problem is, I've found, editors and agents don't like that much.

  5. I also found mentioning the two different moms and dads a little confusing. Your premise sounds interesting, but I feel like I'm not getting enough of the story from this first page. Maybe you could give a hint of the fantastical early on to give the reader a sense of what's to come.

    I really enjoyed the different senses you evoked in the paragraph starting with the scent of the roses.

  6. I would have enjoyed the scene more if I had know she was in the kitchen with her mother before she said the first line of dialogue.

    I like the details of what they are doing and the smells.

  7. Great job with the sensory details. A lot of nice, vivid descriptions there.

    Her emotions didn't come off as consistent, one minute not wanting to hurt her adoptive parents, and the next being mean to her adoptive mom. I felt she should have been one way or the other.

    And I wanted to see the fantasy aspect, or a hint of what might come. If I didn't see the genre listed with the title, I would imagine this was a story about finding birth parents and all that entails. And maybe it is, just with a fantasy element added. But I did want to see that element.

  8. Nice imagery with the rainbow & sunlight. I'd love to see how this scene develops into a fantasy story--so many places you could go (who are those "real" parents? why was she left at an orphanage? ooh, the possibilities!) Even though teens are notoriously hormonal, her moods shift a bit too quickly, esp. with no real catalyst.

  9. I like your descriptions and I'm compelled to dislike her adoptive mother for some reason. The mention of moms and dads had me a little confused, as I wasn't sure who Jasmine was referring to. A little cleaning up, I think, and this would be a good beginning! I'd keep reading.

  10. I really liked this. Loved the imagery (sweet scent of roses, sun streaming into the window, etc.). I felt connected with the MC right away.

  11. Not hooked. I'm adopted, actually, and though I've heard adopted kids often feel this way, I never did. So it's hard for me to relate.

    I can't help but wonder if it would be more interesting for Jasmine to feel guilty about the fact that she doesn't wonder more about her birth parents, and then have that feeling drive the narrative somehow. But that's just me thinking out loud - it probably wouldn't fit into your story. Anyhow, good luck with this.