Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Five Minutes
GENRE: YA Paranormal Romance

Delilah watched the beach light up with glowing embers from her cigarette ash. The wind carried her ashes through the ruckus of drunken football players and flirting cheerleaders. In Urbanna, Virginia the coolest parties always happened after a football game and they always involved quarterback, Chase Mitchell.

This was Delilah's world, full of music, excitement, and curiosity. A gust of wind caused a mist of salt water to spray her body. It left her skin glistening in the firelight. The cops would arrive soon. They couldn't let teenagers get too drunk next to the dark ocean. Small towns kept secrets, but an accidental death was too much to hush up from the outside world.

Hot breath suppressed the coolness of the water on her neck. The warmth of the strong body standing behind her made her wonder when she'd ever take that final step - the last edge to her sexual curiosity.

"Babe, pass me a beer."

Delilah bent down and grasped the cool glass from the ice chest. She popped off the bottle cap like an expert, but secretly she never had the guts to try even a sip of the golden liquid. Over the summer, she watched her friend Brittany strip after getting drunk. Now Brittany avoided all social gatherings. Delilah had no fear of her own body; all those years of cheerleading toned her up, but the idea of stripping in front of half the town's population was not appealing.


  1. This kept my interest and I'd want to read on. It made me wonder when the paranormal part would come in!

  2. Great sense of immediacy, really nice sensory writing. The only thing that pulled me out of it was the first sentence of the second paragraph. I don't think you need it; we're seeing all that through her experience. Terrific job of weaving in details about her and the town without telling. And we get a good sense of her inner conflict.

    Nice work! Best of luck!

  3. Could be hooked. I agree with Michelle about the second paragraph's first sentence - you show all that stuff very well, so there's no reason to tell us.

    But the third paragraph is where I got a little confused. I don't understand that last sentence: "The warmth of the strong body standing behind her made her wonder when she'd ever take that final step - the last edge to her sexual curiosity." What's the last edge to her sexual curiosity? And what do you mean by "edge"?

    And for some reason, it wasn't until this very last read-through that I realized she's wondering when she WILL (or would, in past tense) take that final step. Maybe it's the extra "ever"?

    Lastly, you should add a comma after "Virginia" in the first paragraph, as cities, states always have commas AFTER the state names as well.

    Good luck with this.

  4. Nice start. Good luck.

  5. I'm having a real hard time imagining that a cigarette could light up a beach, and I'm not fond of golden liquid. Otherwise, I think it's an absolutely fabulous start.

  6. Oddly enough, though I'm a non-smoker, I kinda like the fact that Delilah smokes, only because we rarely see it in YA. You might get flak for it for the example it sets or whatnot, but it's authentic, and teens aren't that gullible/impressionable.

    A few parts didn't feel like teen voice to me -- like "ruckus" and "her sexual curiosity" and "golden liquid" -- and the last paragraph could become didactic, depending on where it goes from there. But it isn't yet.

    I'm curious to see where the paranormal comes in.

  7. I liked this and would definitlely read on. The voice is great for Y/A.

    Just a suggestion: You could change the word beer to stubby or brew, then change the words, 'golden liquid' to beer.

    "Babe, pass me a stubby."

    Or "Babe, pass me a brew."


    She twisted the cap off like an expert, but she'd never had the guts to try even a sip of beer.

    You could also leave off the words 'of beer' and end it with sip. Then leave the other paragraph with the word beer.

    Good luck with it.

  8. I agree that a cigarette wouldn't lit up a beach. Also, I didn't like the dialogue line. Maybe because I hate the word "babe" but I think "pass me a beer" almost sounds too polite for someone who has been drinking. I like the MC though and I'd keep reading.

  9. I'm the author...

    I think I'll change the words "light up" in the first sentence to "sparkle". It gives the right imagery that I was trying to convey.

    I love everyone's comments so far! I had a number of agents tell me they loved the premise of my novel and my voice, but they wanted to know Delilah before all the strange paranormal things started to happen. I guess from the comments, I've done the trick.

    Thanks everyone!

  10. I think that everyone mentioned the things that stood out, the cigarette not lighting up the beach - though I under stood what you were attempting to convey. And I agree with cutting "this was Delilah's world." I think you can show it better than just saying it. But I love stories set in the south -the south and Virginia Beach I assume. I'd read more.

  11. I think you got some good feedback. The gold brew and other references similar to this just doesn't give me the feeling of what a young person might refer. Golden liquid.. things like this. So I might sum up my thoughts and reflection in that though the sentiment is there, you just haven't caught the voice of youth. It's too adult and just not youthful.
    Don't be hurt. I think this is simply what I interpret the others are saying and you really only have to watch anything currently on television to pick up colloquial modern kid-talk.

  12. I feel like a few words and phrases tip off the fact it's an adult trying to sound like a teen, especially "sexual curiosity." That's just NOT something a teen would say to refer to themselves or their friends.

    I'm on the fence about the voice, though I did enjoy the vivid descriptions and smooth flow of plot.