Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May Secret Agent #59

TITLE: Charm Bracelet
GENRE: women's fiction

North Kensington Library
Notting Hill, London
March 1992 Midnight
The girl sat in the shadows weeping, her fingers edged with white as they clutched a copy of Jane Eyre. Stop crying, only babies do that. You're safe until tomorrow. She opened the hardbound volume, tilted it toward the light from the window, and began reading aloud. The sound of the familiar words calmed her, as did the precise, black letters and evenly balanced columns. Reading was better than the vodka her mother loved so much. Books never failed to soothe and comfort. Grateful, the girl took a pen out of her bag, turned to the very last page, and wrote in big, loopy cursive. Careful, future reader,
This is more than a simple story. For me, it's a portal to a better world, and if you love to read like I do, then we have a bond that lasts forever.

Or for as long as libraries exist.

Daisy xoxo

A half-smile lighting her face, she studied the signature for a moment. If Jane were real, Daisy thought, she wouldn't like my scribbling in this book. Concentrating until her brain hurt, she pictured the governess on the other couch, and a few moments later, there the lady was. A figment of Daisy's active imagination, completely unreal, and yet, having any sort of companion was better than being alone.


  1. Very intrigued to know why someone's in a public library in Ladbroke Grove (not really Notting Hill) at midnight. Not sure how much light would come through the window (from the streetlights? the moon?) And assuming Daisy is American from the use of 'cursive' and 'couch' - an English girl would say joined-up writing and sofa (possibly couch, but unlikely). And curious whether there really are sofas in North Kensington library, seems unusual for a British public library.
    Anyway, it's the situation which hooks me - I'd read on.

  2. Color me partially hooked.

    I suggest less words and more action in the beginning. Action-type words instead of physical. Less backstory.

    That said, love the line about the ' her mother loved..."
    Stuff like that creates questions in the mind and that leads to interest.

    The creation of more interest came in the '...figment of Daisy's active imagination..." That is good stuff, but you could lose the word 'active'.

    Good luck

  3. Sorry, I'm not following. I'd keep reading to see if there was clarification, but not much further.

  4. Loved loved loved loved LOVED it. Especially about how the book calmed her, and I like the protagonist already. I'm fascinated and want to know why she's scared of the next day, I want to know why Jane Eyre in particular is so comforting to her, and I want to know what the figment of her imagination says. :) Definitely hooked.

  5. Kind of hooked. I'd keep reading a little more, but action should start pretty soon. It seems like you are leading us into back story--something I wouldn't suggest for the very beginning.

  6. I'm confused. Is this YA? I thought the genres stopped at YA. Anyway, I like the opening, but I love books. I'm wondering if someone who doesn't have that same love would be hooked.

  7. huh. That first paragraph seems to be a bit of a muddle of things. we get a sense of setting, interior monologue (which should be in italics or something, bc it's rather disjointed otherwise). Good description of the book, then another disjointed detail about mom and vodka. I think you should chose one thing to accomplish in this first paragraph, whether it's scene setting or a sense of the protag's voice, then gradually work in the other elements. all smooshed together doesn't work for me. and i'm worried the love of books thing, while important to other writers, may not translate to a more general ya/mg audience. and beyond the book thing, where's the rest of the plot? you may want to make that apparent sooner than just a loney girl with mommy issues.

  8. Is this the right genre? Because it sounds more like YA than women's fiction.

  9. I think bluestocking pointed out the same things that jarred my reading. And to be honest I thought Daisy was writing some story in the margins - that piqued my interest. But, like Blue said, choose either setting or establish character's voice first. If the library is a character unto its own I suggest dropping all that at the beginning - and simply make the heading - Notting Hill, London, 1992 - and show us the rest.

  10. For some reason when I finished reading I had to recheck the title. While reading your excerpt I got the vague sensation that "Daisy Chain" was the title. Now granted I only have the excerpt to go on, but if the writing in the novel is the catalyst for the plot, it seems fitting. Just my random thought of the day.

  11. The last paragraph is what hooked me - maybe start with that? The formatting is a little jarring, but that's easily fixed. If I picked it up, I'd keep reading.

  12. I'd keep reading, too, although the use of "the girl" for Daisy is throwing off my sense of POV. Are we supposed to be in Daisy's thoughts? Does she refer to herself as "the girl"?

  13. Intriguing, but I'm also a book girl.

    Not that I can tell from this short excerpt, but if books come alive for this character, you should be aware of the British mystery The Eyre Affair.

  14. The writing is good and the information you presented is interesting. The vodka drinking mom and the fictional character that may prove to be more than fictional both piqued my interest, as did the - she was safe until tomorrow - line.

    But I kept getting pulled out of the story with questions I didn't think I should be asking. How does she manage to be inside a library at midnight? Did the book come from the library or is it hers? And why is she writing in a library book (if it is a library book?) And why bring up - you're safe until tomorrow - and not follow up on it?

    I should be getting lost in your world instead of thinking those things, but I wasn't. Perhaps get to the point of 'why' she was there in the first place, as opposed to just being there.

  15. This was a little difficult for me to get into. I would read further to see where it was going, but the switch in pov was jarring.

  16. Um...I don't rep women's fiction?

    If you meant YA contemporary from a girl's POV? that's totally different. If that's the case, I'm quite intrigued. While at first I question the reason for her being in the library at midnight, I assume that's part of the mystery that will unveil itself in due course.

  17. I was intrigued with her vivid imagination and her passion for books. I wonder if she can create many characters and how real they can be.