Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #15

TITLE: I Fate When That Happens
GENRE: YA paranormal

It's taken me a few years to figure out that the smell of Greyhound bus doesn't change. The nasty goop they put in the toilet at the back of the bus is the same sweet and sickening stench I should expect by now. Even so, my saving grace is the rear bench seat and the heavy roar of the motor that's built into the rig just behind it. It's enough to shake the mental Etch-A-Sketch clear when I need to forget another slice of my life.

The autumn scenes that whip past my window are blurred by greasy forehead smears and a minefield of fingerprints. I have to wonder who those passengers were and what they were looking for as they pulled into their destinations. How good was it, the life that they bargain shipped themselves into? Did the life that lie ahead of them beat the one they left behind? I wish I knew the answers.

I take the platinum bracelet that my mother gave me off my wrist. The lone ruby charm catches the fall sky and the colors mix to a bloody ash as I toss the thing in my duffel bag. I've been reluctant to surrender it; I remember the moment when she gave it to me on a distant Christmas. But that part of my life is gone, too, and I have to stop pretending there will be a happily ever after for the two of us.


  1. The first two paragraphs dont flow well. I think they can be simplified more.

    Or maybe deleted. It seems like there is nothing that cant be said in one sentense. Nothing interesting happens until the 3rd paragrah. Might as well just into the action.

  2. There's a lot of great imagery here and I get a good sense of the character's voice through her descriptions.

    I would definitely read on to find out why she's on the bus and (has been so much in her life it seems) what she wants to erase from her mental Etch-A-Sketch. (love that!)

  3. In the first sentence the should be a "the" before Greyhound.

    It's a little dull to me, but then again this is only the first 250 words.

    Good luck with SA!

  4. For the most part, I think this is good writing and scene painting. As someone who grew up on a Greyhound between Louisville and Nashville, I can say you did a good job nailing the experience, smell, droning engine sound, etc. I did stumble over the phrase "bargain shipped." I know what you mean, but there may be something that nails it better.

  5. I like the language and voice here. A lot. "mental Etch-A-Sketch" is awesome as is "greasy forehead smears." One correction: Did the life that LAY ahead of them... (instead of lie.) Anyway, I would definitely keep reading. Nice work.

  6. I'm not hooked, but you do have some great imagery here. The beginning is a little slow though and I wonder if you are starting in the wrong place.

  7. I'm thinking along the same lines as Kelly Hashway. Why start on the bus? Great description of the bus sounds and smells, but who cares? The story (I'm guessing) won't happen on the bus. They don't matter.

    The second parg. is about people we'll never meet. Again, why should we care?

    The third parg. has the meat in it. The bracelet with the stone and that last line - the two of us - are the things that caught my attention. Is she pregnant? Is she running away with someone? And will that bracelet hold magical powers since this is paranormal?

    I can't suggest where to start because I don't know the story, but
    wherever you start, don't start it in her head. Put her in a situation with at least one other person which allows for action and dialogue and movement. Don't worry about the back story. You can always get it in later.

  8. Love the title; love your style of writing and great phrasing of things (Etch-A_Sketch, minefield of finger prints.)

    Does it need more action to hook a YA reader? I'm not sure--that's not my genre. But I really love your style!

  9. I like the imagery throughout but one thing is jarring to me: why is she on a bus when she's got a platinum and ruby bracelet? Seems that a family (mother?) who could afford to give her daughter something like that would be able to afford an airline ticket. But maybe that's explained later on...

    Good luck! :)

  10. I really like this. The voice is fresh and actually made me think of a boy protag until the mom's bracelet. I think that "bargain shipped" would work better if you hyphenate it. Nice!

  11. I like a lot of this and think is has potential. I want to know why she's on the bus. I think it can make sense that she has an expensive bracelet, but still use a duffel bag and a bus. I'd think about the opening line a bit. It didn't draw me in. I really sat up with the last paragraph. Also, some descriptions are really long. "The lone ruby charm etc." I don't care too much right now. Just, "I tossed it in my duffel bag," is enough for now. Best of luck!

  12. There's a lot of internal dialogue in here, but we don't know where your MC is going or why. Maybe you could tie that into your second paragraph, show us more clearly the relationship between her feelings about the other bus passengers and her fears about her own future.

  13. This is a great opening. I like the MC's voice and her observations of her surroundings. The mental etch-a-sketch is a great image. The last paragraph really hooks in the reader because it leaves us wondering about the bracelet, the relationship with her mother, and the life that she's leaving behind with this bus trip.

    Great work - good luck with SA!

  14. Cute title. I'm curious and the writing is nice - I like 'bargain-shipped' - so I'd read on. Maybe 'life' should be 'lives' in those sentences though, since you're referring to plural passengers.

  15. I really liked the voice and the imagery in this one, even if it felt a tad bit slow. (Not everything has to start with a bang, though I am fond of explosions. O:)) I'd read on!

  16. I liked this, but I would prefer if it was trimmed down a bit so we could get to the action sooner. My suggestions (which you are obviously free to take/ignore, especially depending on the SA advice):
    The fact that the smell on the Greyhound bus didn't change wasn't a hook for me. Wouldn't all buses have a smell in common? The Etch-a-Sketch bit was much stronger, and I think that should be your start.

    The next par had some great imagery but I think the point was a tad labored (at least for a first page - this is valuable real estate). The two questions in this paragraph basically say the same thing, so I think you could just have one of them, and the last sentence is a bit redundant. If she's asking these questions of herself she's obviously wishing for the answers.

    I liked the last paragraph, and it started to flesh out the conflict a little. I didn't think there was a problem with a girl owning a platinum bracelet being on a Greyhound bus - the family has clearly fallen on hard times. I think it's a good detail to include because it suggests that life was once a lot easier.

    I liked this and there's some really good writing here so I'd read on.

  17. I think you have two wonderful paragraphs of description; however, I also feel they're misplaced. It's essential to set up a sense of place and time but you also need to hook me in the opening paragraphs.

    I would definitely keep reading because I enjoy your voice and descriptions, but if the action didn't pick up after a few pages, you would probably lose my attention.

  18. Author here~

    I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback. It was consistent overall and I'm pleased that my writing was well received (regarding voice/description).

    I see very clearly what needs to be carved here, so mucho appreciado.

    This is actually a paranormal thriller so I'll tighten it up and get this baby moving.

    Best of luck to all who entered. You have to play to win.~