Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #35

TITLE: The Wild Bird's Wings
GENRE: commercial fiction

They gathered at Jodie's parents' house after Grandpa Frank's funeral for a celebration of his life, but it turned into a celebration of his death. The people who actually liked him, his drinking buddies, weren't welcome and went on a pub crawl in his memory instead. The others, mostly bitter, cold women, offered their condolences to Grandmother Hester for the too many years she'd wasted on the wrong man. Hester was in her glory, the star of the show. She'd outlasted Frank, inherited his fortune and had the last laugh. A couple neighbours popped by as well, along with a handful of distant relatives Jodie had never heard of. Of course, perfect Aunt Anne was also there, along with perfect Uncle Barry and their three perfect children. Only Graham, Jodie's brother, was missing.

"How could he miss his own grandfather's funeral?" Hester asked repeatedly. "Honestly, Louise. What will people think?"

Louise had rehashed those same questions with both Jodie and Graham over the past few days. "He couldn't leave town, Mother. He had a work emergency." The pitch of her voice edged into dangerous territory. "And he was never close to Dad."

"Anne's children made it all the way from Washington." Hester's tone implied that Washington was at the end of the earth, rather than a quick hop across the border. Her gaze fell on Jodie. "And they are all helping. Even Douglas."

"Why aren't you circulating, Jodie?" Louise snapped. "For heaven's sake, do something."


  1. Liked this. I would definitely read more.

    Also, great title.

  2. I like this. Love reading a book where someone's death is at the beginning. It has me intrigued.

  3. I was very interested in this. The only thing I would suggest is to get us deeper into Jodie's point of view, show us her attitude more. "Perfect Aunt Anne and perfect Uncle Barry" is a great example of her attitude showing through, but I wanted to know more about what this day means to her.

  4. I really like this too, but agree with the above. A little more of Jodie's POV will ground me deeper into the story, but I am hooked.

  5. I liked this - nice writing and an intriguing opening. I would definitely continue reading. Great work, good luck, and thanks for sharing!

  6. Nice opening description of a funeral and how they can sometimes be contradictory or layered.

    I liked this excerpt and would keep reading.

  7. I personally hate novels that start with a funeral or dead body (mysteries), but you did a good job here. I probably would continue reading as long as it didn't morph into misery lit. Hard to tell with such a short blurb. That's just a personal preference though- this is good.

  8. I agree with the other critters about sticking close to what's going on with Jodie, but I think you did a good job. A funeral is a perfect way to show character relationships, weaknesses, strengths, etc. I'd keep reading.

  9. You hooked me with

    Hester was in her glory, the star of the show. She'd outlasted Frank, inherited his fortune and had the last laugh.

    THIS is a great opening line. The rest sort of drug it down the gutter for me. I don't have anyone to be invested in yet to care about funeral attendance and family drama. Who is the story about? Hester? Louise? Jodie? The bar crawlers? So many people mentioned and no sense of what the story is going to be about, keeps me from staying hooked.

  10. I agree with Lia Mack, but I have another problem and suggestion. Hester seems happy to be rid of her husband, yet she's upset that one of the grandkids didn't come to the funeral? It would be more interesting, and would seem more in character, if she said Graham was the only grandchild with any sense--precisely because he didn't show up.

  11. I wasn't hooked. They gather at Jodie's parents' house, not Louise's house, which makes this Jodie's story, but she doesn't say a word or do a thing in these 250 words. It's all Aunt Hester.

    And they don't seem to be celebrating Grampy's life or death. They seem to be picking apart the living.

    I don't know what the problem is or what Jodie wants. I have no sense of who Jodie is. There's no reason for me to read on.

    Perhaps revise with more emphasis on Jodie and the problem?

  12. i agree. the strongest line was about hester being in her glory.
    there are an awful lot of characters being introduced in the beginning of this to take the focus of the mc.

  13. Funerals are so much about appearances and bring out the best and worst in family dynamics. You just know that Hester cares more about what people will think about the missing relative than whether it actually matters if the person is there.
    In a couple of lines, Hester is established as a force to be reckoned with.

    More POV for Jodie would strengthen it, although I love the "perfect cousin Anne, perfect children line."

    Dialogue is authentic. Good start.

  14. I like this. I'm just a little confused as to what are Hester's thoughts and which ones are Jodie's.

    Of course, perfect Aunt Anne was also there, along with perfect Uncle Barry and their three perfect children. Only Graham, Jodie's brother, was missing.

    This thought feels like it's personal in that I feel it should be either in quotes or italics.

    I'm intrigued and would read more.

  15. I certainly feel bad for Jodie, stuck at a tense family gathering, taking the blame for her absent brother, accused of not being helpful or "circulating" enough. But nothing is presented that makes me want to know more about Jodie, her family, or her dead grandfather. I wish I could see the scene where Jodie goes off on these people, or maybe go on the pub crawl with her grandpa's drinking buddies. Not hooked.