Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #18

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

I knew what it was the second I heard the crunch and felt something shift beneath my shoe.

My stomach lurched.

I swallowed, tried to force down the lump in my throat. It didn't budge. A cloud of mist hovered in the frosty air under my nose when I exhaled.

Will they ever leave me alone?

Covering it with my foot again, I looked toward the neighbors' windows, then up and down the street. From what I could tell, no one was watching. With my back to the road, blocking the view just in case, I picked it up.

The flower commanded my attention, standing out against my light skin. Brilliant yellow, bright as the sun, same as always. It didn't help that it was the dead of winter in Shaver. Seeing a lively flower during such a bare time of year only made it worse.

My pocket vibrated, pulling me from my stare. The flower squished against my palm as I grabbed my phone.


"I'm coming."

I kicked at the brown grass, smooshed it into the mud with my toes.

"Where are you? Do you know what time it is?"

"I'm on my way, Eva. Just... stall or something."

"Stall? It's a bookstore, not a party! Hurry up!"

"I am! Give me -- " I looked at my phone. "It'll be less than ten minutes."

"Ten minutes?"

I waited, expecting to at least hear a quick happy birthday. The other end was silent. She'd already hung up.


  1. I'd read on for a while, but I've got some problems.
    I can't imagine that the act of stepping on a flower would draw the character's attention. And your initial use of the word "it" to refer to the lump in the throat confused me, as I thought you were still talking about the flower. I also don't see flowers as being a problem, or having anything to do with being late.
    So I'm confused. Not quite hooked.

  2. I really enjoyed the winter setting and the imagery of mud. The birthday aspect of the story hooked me. It's always lousy when someone (or everyone) forgets your birthday.

    The only thing I stumbled over was when the flower "crunch[ed]" beneath her shoe. Do flowers crunch? It couldn't be frozen because of the weather because it was warm enough for mud.

    Good job, I liked it.

  3. I'm just not sure what's going on here. Maybe more specifics would help. Otherwise, I'm not sure what's happening here and I'd like to know.

  4. Not hooked. I wanted to know who 'they' were, and since your MC knows, I should know. Why keep it a secret? Why not say who they are and what their connection to the flower is? Then I go - Oh wow! What a cool premise. I want to read more.

    As is, I have no ideas, no clues and no reason to care. A girl stepped on a flower and is late for her birthday party. I know there's more to it than that, but you're not letting me in on what it is, and you know, there are thousands of books out there where the author is letting me in. Who's book do you think I'm going to choose?

  5. I think this has some potential. I like the imagery of a bright yellow new flower in the pale stark winter idea, but I wouldn't use that it was in mud, use snow so it really seems out of place.
    Let us in on what's following her or showing up, so we're more concerned. I like the title with the mention of the odd flowers showing up. And it could even be the MC's name , I'm not sure.
    I'd give it some more pages.

  6. Considering that the title is FLORA, I'm guessing the flower is as ominous as your main character suggests. Fantasy characters who can control plants, perhaps? This intrigues me, and I think you'll want to clue us in a bit more right away.

  7. I was really excited to find out why the flower is so ominous and then you totally switch gears to a mundane phone call about getting to the bookstore. I'd read on but only if the fantastical element appeared quickly.

  8. I'm intrigued by the flower and who 'they' are, so I'd keep reading. And I'm fine with not knowing more about this yet--I like a little mystery at the beginning of a story.

    It didn't budge.-->At first I thought this was referring to the thing she stepped on, not the lump in her throat.

    You need dialogue tags on "I'm coming" and "Where are you..." I had to reread to figure out who said what.

  9. Flowers crunch? Probably, but they're less crunchy than gravel or the sound of shoes on asphalt.

    I like the idea of the flower making her so upset, but stepping on it as a hook just didn't work for me, because she understands the stakes -- but the reader doesn't. I'm not a fan of withholding information from the reader, especially when knowing why a flower would upset the MC would make the reader *understand* why she's upset. As it is, there's an unnamed they and a creepy flower in the middle of winter. (Also, wouldn't she have noticed the bright color against the winter landscape long before she stepped on it?)

    There's good stuff in here, but I didn't feel it's quite ready to fly yet.

  10. I like this one. I think that these flowers turning up in her life have some serious significance that we're just about to find out more about in the next few pages. I'd read on. Love the birthday aspect.

  11. Slightly confused with this. Are the flowers magical or do they have some special powers to upset her? Otherwise I think this can be spruced up to become more exciting.

  12. I'm on the fence about this one. Stepping on a flower didn't seem like a reason to be afraid, until you point out it's the dead of winter.
    The birthday aspect is obviously important, but it doesn't seem to have enough importance. If it's a Harry Potter-like trigger, then it needs more prominence.
    I'd probably keep reading to find out what will only take 10 minutes.

  13. I liked the premise of the flower in the middle of winter, but I'm not sure flowers can crunch. Also I wasn't clear on the why won't they leave me alone line, I'd spend more time with that. But those are easy fixes, and then I think you'll have a winner!

  14. I like this opening. There is that logistic problem of do flowers "crunch" but I think that's fixable. Right from the first couple paragraphs, the description had me hooked.

    I would expand on the "Covering..." paragraph to slow that moment down.

    For the dialogue, keep it as concise as possible, especially when it's a phone conversation.

    I would keep reading.

  15. Thank you to everyone for your feedback. I really appreciate it. Now I'm off to revise! ;)