Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #8

TITLE: Secret Knowledge
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Tonight Mossy would stand by the Lammas' fire. She would recite the words, take the candle, then walk into the darkness alone. Tonight everything would change. Tonight she would find her future.

Mossy blew out a breath and pushed herself from a jog to a sprint. One thing was certain, if she didn't stop worrying about tonight and start focusing on running, her future wouldn't include varsity cross-country.

A pair of varsity runners passed Mossy on her left. She willed her legs to move faster, but her muscles tightened and she dropped to the back of the pack. By the time she reached where the jogging path started up the forested hill, she was a good fifty yards behind the team.

As the other runners disappeared over the hill's crest, Mossy stopped running and hunched over in the middle of the path, hands on her knees, dizziness pulling in around her as she struggled to catch her breath. Of all days, why did practice have to start today?

The thud of a runner's footsteps came back down the hill toward her. "You okay?" Bethany's voice asked.

Mossy looked up at her older sister. "I feel like I'm going to puke."

"I told you to pace yourself."

"That's not it." Mossy took a gulp of air to steady her voice. "I keep thinking about tonight."

"Why don't you skip the rest of practice?" Bethany nodded at the forest, toward the direction of their house. "Take the short cut home."


  1. I was a little confused the first time I read this through. I didn't realize unti later that she was running in a race (or practice).

    I would intigrate the two thoughts together, alternating between the race and her thoughts of 'tonight'. Just needs to be a little clearer. But the idea of what she was going to do that night IS intriguing.

  2. I'm hooked! You established a great tension w/the night's ritual and her trouble running. As a runner, I got that. Nice sister intro. I like it; would def. read on~

  3. I was confused with this story. At first with the different names - Mossy, Lammas - I thought other world, but then we are jumped into varsity running and a sister named Betsy. As well, we jump back and forth from what sounds like a very ordinary running practice to forested hills and secret rites.

    I am a little intrigued at what you have set up here, but i think there needs to be a little more clarity from the get-go so the reader knows what to expect.

    I guess half-hooked would describe it as it stands.

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  5. I'm intrigued at what you are setting up here, but I am wondering if you could start with action to grab the reader more.

    I was wondering if you could start with paragraph four and this would go straight to the action and immediately alert the reader to the fact that something is not quite right with Mossy, and then you could go on to show the reader why.

  6. I totally thought that I knew where things were going in the first paragraph, and then I read the second, and I was jarred. This is not necessarily a *bad* thing.

    I think it would be interesting to read about a world that was just like our own, except for one pivotal fantasy element, but I think *maybe* on this one you need to ease us into it more. The juxtaposition of Mossy, Lammas, and varsity cross country is just too great to be introduced so quickly.

  7. I'm hooked. ;-)

    The disparity between varsity running and Lammas fires is jarring, and I would be tempted to introduce the fantasy element more slowly (instead of as heavy foreshadowing in the first paragraph).

    Your second paragraph would work well as the beginning, and then you could work in details about the Lammas fire later (making us want to read more in order to find out what's so important about "tonight").

    I love the idea and would gladly read more.

  8. I agree with previous comments that the first paragraph doesn't quite match with the rest of the writing sample--I don't think that's the perfect placement for it, though I do understand that it's important to hint at the fantasy element right away. Compelling so far, and I'd definitely read more.