Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #10

TITLE: The Secret Life of Mindy Palmer
GENRE: Young Adult

It's three months since Mindy died, and every time I pass her room it whispers, "Come inside, I have things to tell you".

Until today I have always hurried by, in the same way you walk quickly to avoid talking to homeless people in the street.

It has taken me this long to glue the pieces back together, to be able to say my sister's name out loud. Three months to feel my heart beating again, to build up the courage to try to find out how Mindy really died.

My stomach churns as I creep through the darkened doorway and open the curtains to let in the last light of the day. Mindy's ghost is everywhere. It's in the perfume of the coat hanging on the back of the chair, the gold edged debutante photo on her desk, and the rush of memories that bite at my cheeks like a cold wind.

I can't breathe in here. My sobs follow me out the door, to my room where I grab my laptop. I stumble into the kitchen and bang the computer down on the table. Somehow, being in the middle of the house makes me less alone.

I lower myself into the soft nest of the chair and turn the computer on. Fear glues my clothes to my skin and it feels as if claws are ripping at my heart. I gulp back tears, tap a staccato beat on the keyboard and wait for the browser to load.


  1. Hooked. I like that the title character is actually not the MC and the comparasion to walking like you are avoiding a homeless person crossing the street.

  2. Love it! Now I want to know how Mindi died too. So I'm hooked!

    The first paragraph hooked me.

    Good luck!

  3. Death is a very difficult topic in YA, but the narrator has an interesting voice that makes it all seem tragic and fascinating at the same time. The first paragraph works very well and I'd keep reading.

  4. I'm interested in the death, but I'm kind of distracted about the MC telling us how she feels. I think it would be interesting starting from the second sentense where she avoids the room. Maybe parts of the room can inspire some of these feelings you are telling.

  5. Definitely intrigued -- I want to know how Mindy died.

    For some reason, the MC's stomach churning didn't sound right to me.


  6. Hooked. I'd read more for sure.Not the biggest fan of the first sentence, but the rest is great. Very intriguing, great voice and a promising story.

  7. I like it. A lot. Very strong start. Hooked.

  8. Love the descriptives used and immediately I am wanting to know more. This is the kind of set up that gives the reader an appetite to find out turn that page.

  9. I love the first sentence! It immediately hooks me in and I want to know more about why the narrator is so ill-at-ease. There is also a feeling of tension about what is going to unfold in this story. So yes, I would keep reading.

  10. I like the first line, too, and your metaphorical language is great! The room that whispers, the memories that bite my cheeks. Nice. I think you went over the top a bit with, "it feels as if claws are ripping at my heart." I don't think that's necessary since we already have a good handle on how she feels.

    Nicely done. Best of luck!

  11. OOOOooo! How DID Mindy die?

    Would you consider opening with paragraph 3? Great voice/tension/conflict!


  12. Nice! I'm hooked. I like the menace associated with the phrase "Come inside, I have things to tell you."

    I like how the descriptions of Mindy's room evoke emotions in the protag and you killed many birds with one stone. Described the room and let us know how the protag feels, showed us the room was closed and curtained but untouched, showed us that Mindy is old enough to have attended a Deb. Now that's making your words work for a living!

    Like "soft" nest too.

    Complete trust a good story follows.

  13. The first line is really great. I see the makings of a fine writer here, for certain. But I'm going to have to disagree with everyone else here. I'm not hooked.

    Do I want to know how Mindy died? Of course I do. But I know we'll get to that eventually, so that fact alone isn't enough to make me want to read more.

    What I want to know is this: Why did the narrator choose this particular day to try to go into Mindy's room? What is it that drove her into the room? I think we're missing out on some very telling details here that could give valuable character insight. I wanted to slow the moments in Mindy's room down just a bit more, to feel that thundering moment when a character makes a decision that's going to forever change the course of her life.

    It's the old writing 101 mantra: Every story begins with a change. And this is a great change to being with. And I love the paragraph about gluing the pieces back together, and being able to say her sister's name out loud. But I still wanted more from her. I wanted more of a visceral connection to what she was feeling in Mindy's room.

    I would definitely read more. But I'll be expecting the main character to deliver in a big way in the pages that follow.

  14. I like it and I think you have a great title but I'm having one disconnect:

    When I'm reading this I think the implication is that she's going to find something out about Mindy on her laptop. I think that's implied in this excerpt, but I can't think of what a person would find out about someone who had died on their "own" laptop. Now if it were Mindy's laptop, that would be different.

    If she's not going to find out anything about Mindy on the laptop, I would just leave that part out of here then. Now if she went in Mindy's room and took Mindy's laptop, that might provide some great tension.

    I do like it and would keep reading. Finding out about Mindy's secret life sounds compelling. Good luck.

  15. Thanks everyone for your positive comments and constructive suggestions - especially Secret Agent.

    I got up at 1.45 am to submit my entry and it was well worth the lack of sleep.

    I love the Secret Agent contest on this blog. It's such a fantastic opportunity to learn about writing and get useful feedback to help me improve my craft.

    I will definitely take your valuable suggestions on board as I work on my next draft.

    D.W. (Author)

  16. I could sense her fear and desire to find the answer about her sister's death. Your use of the simile pulls me into the story.

  17. I would definitely keep reading. I'm with the MC right from the get-go. I feel as if the first para, while really strong in itself, doesn't quite gel with the rest of the piece. So... maybe it isn't needed at that point?