Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #55

TITLE: Welcome to Coventry

Avery Desjardins and her mother watched as the flames and smoke poured out of the small country store. A white crucifix was painted across what was left of the front door and underneath it was the message: 'May God Save Your Soles.'

Avery sighed. They could have at least spelt 'souls' right. She doubted this was done because they had made some kind of fashion faux pas.

She knew it hadn't been a good idea to open up a neo-pagan book shop right smack in the midst of the most radical Baptist region in the country. She had tried to tell her mother, but Natalie wouldn't listen.

Avery turned and put an arm around the slender woman by her side. Tears made clean trails through the ash and soot on the woman's cheeks and Avery squeezed her shoulders protectively. The sound of sirens came from somewhere in the distance.

* * *

"I'm sorry Avery." Her mother said for the fifteenth time as they continued to pack their belongings.

"Mom, stop saying that! It's not your fault."

Natalie continued to fold clothes but was tight lipped. "I should have listened to you. And the cards. All the signs were there but I was just soready to settle, you know?"

Avery rolled her eyes. "I know mom." "Me too."


  1. There are some nice touches here, like the misspelling of the word "souls."

    I'm not sure I buy the radical Baptist part, though. I live in the Bible belt--Baptists everywhere--and and I have a hard time seeing Baptists doing something like that. There are other radical groups that might do that sort of thing, but Baptist doesn't ring true. I could be wrong.

    Also? If it was a shop, which undoubtedly wants customers, why move in where it's going to be hard to find those customers? I don't mean to be nit-picky; it's just that you may have a really cool story here, and the setting needs to be very believable from the beginning. Right now, I'm not believing it.

  2. I'm interested, but not hooked. Not yet. Avery's reactions seem at odds with the situation, unless that's who she is and it's important. Also, who is "the woman" If it's her mother, you should just say so.

  3. The writing is good and flows nicely, but I just can't see Baptists doing something like this. Maybe some strange cult (like the one that pickets the soldiers' funerals), but absolutely not any mainstream Christian church. Also, a crucifix is a three-dimensional cross with Jesus hanging on it, and it's mostly used in Catholicism and other "old" branches of Christianity. Baptists and other newer Protestant branches tend to use plain crosses.

  4. I think that you have an interesting story here. I also agree that I don't think that typical baptists are going to set fire to a bookstore, but you do mention they are radicals, so maybe that's all right. Overall, I think that I would give this a chance. BTW: Is it spelt or spelled? When I see spelt, I think of wheat.

  5. I agree, I have a hard time seeing Baptists doing this to a bookstore. There are plenty of pagan bookstores near me, and they've never been vandalized. People do crazy stuff in the name of religion, but I'd assume Baptists would leave tracts on their doors or pester them about coming to a potluck.

  6. I liked this, and thought it was different. I am assuming the dynamic between mother and daughter is the daughter is the responsible one and the mom is a bit crazy, hence the use of the mom's first name and the daughter comforting her instead of the other way around. It was show instead of tell, which is good.

  7. Needs a little revising. I noticed some typos and missing commas. I was also a little confused when the sirens came in. I like the idea though.

  8. ACK! What if your reader is a Baptist? LOL.

    This is interesting but I cannot say I am hooked. Editing-wise, you need to check your passive voice/double verbs (“was done” and “Was painted”).

    Also, improve the flow. As an example: “At least they could have spelled ‘souls’ right.” Or “Under the white crucifix, sloppily painted on the front door, was a message…”

    There are ways to improve the general feel of progress in your beginning and most of it has to do with sentence structure, etc.

    The reference to a specific church group does leave me kinda twitchy, though. Good luck.

  9. Anna already made my comment @ crucifix vs. cross. :) It's a "hook"-y scenario to start with, but needs some revision to really pop, I think.

  10. I like it and see lots of potential. For me, I didn't think she was saying that a Baptist group had done it. She was saying she is in a Bible belt where a lot of people may not agree with the store, including the Baptist. Anyway, I'd tighten and rework. Good luck.

  11. I like it and the beginning is intriguing enough that I'd keep reading. :) Like Shelley said, I didn't get the impression that the Baptists had done it but that they were in an area surrounded by people that would have reason.

  12. Like every one else has mentioned a great premise here, but I'm not completely hooked either. I didn't get a clear feel for your MC accept that she told her mom this was not a good place to open a neo-pagan shop. In fact, I almost identified more with the mom. A little tightening.

  13. Same here. I loved the premise. I liked the switch in roles - child taking care of mom.

    You might take another look at the writing. Instead of - flames poured out of the small country store, (kinda bland) give us a better image of a raging fire. And look at word choices. Water pours. It's a downward motion. Flames rise in an upward motion. Maybe give it another revision or two.

    And is she angry at all about what happened? Frightened? She seems to have an - oh well - attitude. Again, look at the writing and word choices.

  14. Intriguing premise. I have no idea where you are going with this, but I'd be interested to find out. I would also suggest that you make Avery more compassionate toward her mother. Even if she knew the shop was a bad idea and doesn't believe in psychic stuff, having her behave superciliously diminishes her likeability.

  15. I like that you opened with an action scene; however, it was too short. I almost would have preferred beginning with their packing and discussing the fire.