Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #9

TITLE: Love Elopes (and Other Ways to Avoid My Mother
GENRE: Women's fiction

Where are the people who are always running those theoretical medical experiments, diagnosing strange conditions with even stranger methods? Because I need to know. Can one actually develop an ulcer from mother-anxiety?

Today my stomach says yes.

"I'm going to throw up," I say, turning back. "Let's just go."

But Job stops me and knocks on the door. "Remember last night, what you said. You're thirty, you're happy, you're done with the mind games."

"I changed my mind."

He spins me around, leaning down to mutter something in my ear, but the door swings wide and there stands my mother, grinning stupidly from ear to ear. She pulls me in and kisses both of my cheeks. Has she gone blind? This is me we're talking about--right? Not any of the daughters you're proud of, and certainly not the one who's just returned from a sensational Hawaiian honeymoon.

But that's what you get, I suppose, when you name your kid after the patron saint of both chastity and gardeners. She should've known what she was getting into.

"Agnes, dear," Mom says as she propels me to the living room.


I'm seized by a roomful of relatives who pull me in with hugs, kisses, and applause. Actual clapping. I stand there like an idiot, stupefied, certain I've stepped into someone else's home.

Though knowing my family, this could just be an elaborate stunt to punctuate the fact that I haven't shown my face for an unacceptably long time. In this case, about two weeks.


  1. Oh, I like it! I'm hooked, I'd definitely keep reading. The only suggestion I have is to perhaps cut the first two lines. I was skimming until I got to "Can one actually develop an ulcer from mother-anxiety?" That's such a great line, it can stand alone. Other than that, it was great!

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  3. I agree with Bethany Elizabeth. That's a great first line. I'm hooked too. You packed a lot in a few words.

  4. I read the mother-anxiety line to mean that Agnes is a mother worried sick about her child (shows you where my head is). What would have helped clarify would be if we knew earlier where Agnes and Job were in front of her mother’s front door. Also, I’m confused about whether she lives with her mom – I’d think not, but there’s that line about her stepping into someone else’s home… (isn’t that, in fact, what she’s doing?). Perhaps I’m being too literal, but these small hiccups kept me from being fully immersed in this scene.

  5. I was also confused about where Agnes was - I had assumed in her own house. But this is an easy fix. But otherwise the piece reads very well.

  6. This didn't work for me. I was as confused as Agnes. After reading the whole think twice, I don't get what the problem is. I get that she doesn't get along with her mom so this welcome is a surprise and shock, but what I want to know is why? And you never get there. Perhaps let us know why there's a problem between the two of them?

  7. I'm definitely curious about this family and I want to read more! It's clear this protagonist has a sense of humour. You can tell a lot about her insecurities in a short amount of time. I would start the story at "I'm going to throw up". I also wonder if the lines about returning from a honeymoon and the fact that she hasn't been home for a while is a case of 'telling, rather than showing' These seems like things that could be explained or implied through dialogue and the other characters behaviors towards her in the upcoming scene.

  8. I really liked the sense of humor in this piece. Loved the voice too. And nearly any story about a nutty family and the nuances of the relationship within is interesting to me. And if I've any unanswered questions here, I trust that you're going to get to the answers in good time. Loved it. Thanks.

  9. Fantastic! So funny, and so much like real life it's almost painful. And the title is wonderful, too.

    My one critique: "patron saint of both chastity and gardeners." I think the statement about how her name affects her would be stronger if you left out the gardeners, unless it's important to the story. "That's what you get when you name your kid after the patron saint of chastity" would make a really memorable line.

  10. Chazley, I cannot agree! I think 'patron saint of both chastity and gardners' is priceless! It's a pefect mirror image of this character and the conflicts within. IMHO, changing it would be a mistake.

  11.! There is a little room for smoothing, editing etc., but this is really, really good. And the names are awesome. I would love to read more of this.

  12. I really enjoyed this but personally wasn't a fan of the first line. I liked the second question much better - but agree with someone above that I wasn't sure if your MC was the mother or daughter. How about mother-induced anxiety?

    I also was a little unclear where Job and Agnes were when the conversation took place. I also wondered if you needed the second rhetorical question: "This is me we're talking about - right?" I'd drop the right and make it a statement. And instead of using 'you're' in the next sentence, I think it would work better as
    "Not any of the duaghters she's proud of..." That would keep us firmly in POV.

    I like the inclusion of the origin of her name. Nice touch and sounded very natural, although I'm not yet sure whether chastity and gardening are in direct opposition to Agnes' true character?

    I like the cynicism Agnes is feeling and would definitely keep on reading :)

  13. loved the title.
    i wasn't sure whose house she was at either, until i went through it.