Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #24

TITLE: The Psychic Evolution of a Girl Named Debby
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

The baby nurses and nurses and my breasts are swollen and leaking with warm, stinging milk. She cries and cries--it never stops--not with pacing, rocking, singing, nothing. I want to scream, "Shut the f*** up!" but that would make me a bad mother.

The wails are endless and without reason--she's a damn howler monkey. I download the lyrics to a bunch of vintage lullabies, like "Hush Little Baby," (Please, dear God, hush already!) and "Lullaby and Goodnight" and I threaten to send her to the orphanage, which disgusts my husband. He's lucky I'm not threatening to throw her out the window.

And my two-year-old tugs at my skirt--a mini while I still can--and whines for "snackies." I hate that f****** word.

I pray to God, Buddha, Jesus and Barney to save me.

I haven't slept in three days, and I feel like I've had a traumatic brain injury. I'm in a walking coma and can barely make sense of my surroundings, most of which are pink and covered with curtseying princesses.

My eyes stick together when I blink and my hands shake when I try to smear lipstick on my brittle lips. I look at my husband and wonder what happened to my Prince Charming. I


  1. Maybe it's because it's nearing the end of summer and the kids have been bickering a lot lately, but I loved this. I feel for the poor mom. Love the line about praying to Barney. I'm not crazy about the title, but it's hard to tell if it fits with such a short excerpt.

  2. I think the writing here is excellent. I'd definitely read more.

  3. I don't have any children and I love this! I'd pray to Barney too if it got the baby to calm down. Great voice. Yes, I would keep reading.

    And rock that mini as long as you want, honey!

  4. Not hooked, although I must admit you've definitely got voice. The MC gave me no reason to spend another three hundred pages with her. Does she have postpartum depression, or is she just naturally pessimistic?

    And dropping the F-bomb twice in 250 words feels a bit like overkill.

  5. I would keep reading. This sounds like the real struggle of a woman who understands that society expects "perfect" mothers who probably don't exist.

    I didn't understand why she was suddenly putting on lipstick when she's nursing the baby? Maybe it's just a general example of her sorry state of mind, but it read like action and confused me. Good luck!

  6. As a mother of two, I can certainly empathize with the MC. In fact, her voice reminds me of a few other moms who happen to be some of my favorite people in the world! However, I do think I would like to see something in the first 250 words that not only makes me understand where she is coming from, but which also endears her to me. I need to know that despite the frustrations she is obivously feeling, she really does love her children. Best of luck and thanks for sharing!

  7. The title holds promise and the writing delivers on most of it.
    I find myself hooked and want to read more.

    I agree with the comment about the f-bomb. We don't know the MC yet, and "Shut up" and I hate that word" are strong enough feelings without the expletive. It just pushes her ever so slightly towards unlikable just at the point where we really need to root for her.

  8. This has great voice, and definitely addresses the struggles many women can relate to, but I would have liked her to me a little more endearing, too.

    The first sentence confused me a bit because it read to me like the baby nurses are leaking, too. (But that just might be me.)

  9. The first sentence and the part about putting on lipstick confused me.

    I love the voice. Her thought about her husband and tossing the baby out the window made me chuckle. She's obviously a new mother and frustrated. As long as she doesn't hurt the baby, this will keep me reading.

  10. Woah. I'd stop reading and want to get as far away from this book as possible. Why would i want to keep reading about this angry, depressed, swearing, mean person? Why would I want to spend MONEY on reading more?

    "The baby nurses" made me think you were talking about RNs that take care of babies - I had to read that first sentence multiple times to figure it out. :)

  11. I liked it and would read more simply because of the subject. I think a lot of women have those same thoughts at one time or another, but they're thoughts you can never express, otherwise you are a horrible person. Men walk away from their children every day and nobody cares. If a woman does it, she is a monster.

    Okay, back to the story. I also had trouble with your opening line and had to read it several times to get that nurses was a verb and not a noun.

    The f word didn't bother me and I don't think it would until I saw your MC actually do something mean and nasty as opposed to just thinking it. That would change the meaning of everything.

    And I, too, wondered about the lipstick and the mini skirt. It seemed she was in the middle of a day at home in chaos, and the skirt and lipstick suggest this is all happening as she and her husband prepare to go out for the evening? If so, make it evident from the start.

    There is also no inciting incident here. Yes, she's in the middle of chaos, but her hubby isn't reacting in any way, nor is her son. Is she in danger of 'losing it'? Will her marriage break up if she doesn't learn to control her emotions? Something should be at stake, otherwise it's just a woman ranting and venting internally.

    I'd read more to see where you're taking it, but if she was like this through the whole story it would too much, I think.

  12. I love the voice in this piece - and the emotion. The reader can really feel exactly what your character is going through.

    There's some great humour and slice of life stuff here, but I did want to know a little bit more about where the story might be heading.

    Love the title of this piece.

  13. You go on TELLING and TELLING and I'm not seeing anything because you're not SHOWING me anything, and that doesn't hook me at all. There's a lot to play with here, the scene, the over tired mother, the over tired baby. Paint a picture for us with words, get us in that room with her, let us feel her desperation to please and love and get the hell out. Make it so WE, the reader, gets how tired she is and we also want to yell, against our every being, QUIET! to the baby. Do that and we're hooked

    and breastmilk doesn't sting...pick a different word. it's wet, it's warm, it's sweet, but sting? no.

  14. Falling into the category of TMI (hence the anonymous post), I always felt a stinging sensation when my milk came in.

  15. Hooked! The voice is great, I can really feel this mothers desperation.

  16. Your main character is really hard to like. She’s miserable, and I know they say that misery loves company, but the overwhelming sense of wretchedness would be easier to swallow if you lightened her voice with a bit of humor. The situation itself is sort of funny (or maybe it’s just that I went through this in the not too distant past?). She hasn’t slept in three days, yet puts on lipstick and a mini-skirt to breastfeed? I think you are trying for some humor here, but it’s not quite making it on the page. Consider adding some positive emotion to the text to counterbalance her desire to throw her child out the window. Every mother feels this way, yet very few of us actually defenestrate our children. Showing her conflicting emotions will help readers more easily and quickly connect with her.

  17. why the h did she have another kid if the first one made her so miserable? i don't like this woman. now, i can relate to frustration of kids, believe me, but this doesn't sit with me well for some reason.

  18. If this were required reading for every eight grade girl, we'd probably get the teen pregnancy rate to nil.

    I don't particularly like your MC but she leaps off the page. So much so that I want to give her advice (like call the pediatrician because howling most often has some reason-reflux, ear infection).

    So, if in the course of this book, she puts some big girl panties on under that mini and deals with the consequences of her actions (cause no child learns the word/concept of constant snackies by themselves) then I'd want to read this story and I'd be rooting for her because I can definitely relate.

  19. This was too funny. The MC is a mess, but she's still got a sense of humor. The lipstick and mini-skirt work for me--she's trying to keep up the appearance of being super woman, even while she's falling apart on the inside.