Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Word on my Forehead
GENRE: Young Adult

"Do Mormons drink hot cider?" I asked, as I dabbed my underarms with a t-shirt plucked from my laundry basket. I couldn't believe I was already sweating. "They don't drink hot drinks, right, but does hot cider count? I could put the stuff from the farmer's market in the crock-pot. Would that be lame?"

"Totally lame," Mimi answered. "We can heat up some tequila if they get too cold, though." She laughed and I rolled my eyes.

I leaned in to apply my mascara and Mimi slammed the vanity drawer she'd been rifling through and started buzzing around the room, touching everything and sharing the latest gossip.

"Jill said that Austin told everyone in gym he's going to bring a beer-bong tonight and Tyler was like 'Dude, you just wanna get Sarah Danners drunk but everyone knows Sarah's a freeze'." Mimi held a gray skirt up to her waist, considered for a moment, then threw it back onto the rejected pile on my bed. "Did you know Austin liked Sarah, Val? Anyway Hannah was watching and she seemed really bummed because I think she likes Austin, or maybe she likes Tyler."

I let Mimi talk. She didn't pause for breath anyway. My stomach felt jittery and sick with nerves. I'd be so embarrassed if Adam were the only one who showed up tonight. I wondered what he would be like outside of Trig. Would he actually ask me out? If we got married, would I have to become a Mormon?


  1. Nice...Definitely hooks you with that last sentence. I mean that's seriously a predicament isn't it!

    Great job!

  2. I was hooked on the first sentence, and super-hooked on the last. You might want to trim Mimi's monologue, or let us know right up front that it's not important. (At first, I was trying to keep track of it all!)

  3. I'm intrigued and would definitely read on! I like this idea of dating a Mormon and you hit the teen voice really well. The only thing I might consider changing is Mimi's gossip paragraph. Maybe you are trying to show that Mimi talks a lot, but her long run-on confused me. Since these are the first paragraphs, I thought these names and people might be important to the plot, but I got lost. When the narrator tuned her out, I realized these things were probably not very important, so now I wonder if they are necessary at all :-)

  4. Really like the last sentence and would want to read on.
    Not sure why she thinks Adam might be the only one to show up when Jill is talking about all the other kids that will be there. I assume the party is at her place, is she worried about the beer bong being there? Are her parents away? Why is she talking about hot drinks while she is sweating? Shouldn't the weather be cold? A few things made me wonder, but overall well done.

  5. This is a cute opening. Not sure I like the first act of your character being sweat wiping, but that's okay. I would also cut the "sharing the latest gossip" bit because you're telling us what the next paragraph shows us.

    If I flipped through this in the book store, I'd continue to read, though.

  6. I agree with above about chatty character losing me. If that material is not crucial to story then I'd trim it down some. If it is then sprinkle the info in later. Once I got past that I bought in. Reads easy and pulls you along.

  7. I thought this worked well. Nice writing, it reads smoothly, great dialogue. I agree about the chatty friend parg. It's probably enough to just say she shared the latest gossip and leave it at that.

    And I didn't get - I could put the stuff from the farmer's market in the crock-pot. Would that be lame?"
    I'm not understanding why it would be lame or even why she'd put it in the crockpot, or even what 'it' is. What is 'the stuff' from the farmers market? It's probably just me.

    Anyway, hooked! I'd read more.

  8. I really liked it. The part about the sweating seemed awkward with serving hot drinks later, but that's just me. I'm going to have to disagree with the group and say I liked Mimi's stream of gossip/ babbling. As a mom in a house that's flooded with teens on a daily basis, it was very familiar. It made the scene and characters more genuine. I loved the last line, too. Gives a peek into her innocence and sense of romance.

  9. totally hooked.

    I got confused over the relationship between hot tequila and cold (they) stuff from the farmer's market, but then I remembered my two teenaged daughters bantering, nevermind.

    I liked your stream of consciousness paragraph and the 'I let Mimi talk' didn't bother me. Quite the opposite: it fit the attention span of the two. The reader meanwhile is getting info in a very palatable way.

  10. I would like this if I hadn't read your query on AW query hell. Your writing is strong, but knowing how cliche the plot is makes me really sad.

  11. Anon, I have read the entire genre on my subject and I can assure you my book is not a cliche. But what you are telling me is that my query isn't ready. Duly noted.

    Thanks, everyone, for the helpful comments!

  12. I like this, especially Mimi, so I would hope she plays a large role in the story. I agree her monologue could be cut down a bit without losing the flavor of her rambling.

    otherwise, I'd keep reading. Nice.

  13. Loved the voice and the dialogue feels very real. I agree with the others, though, that I got lost with all the names in Mimi's gossip paragraph. It's very authentic and I don't want to see you lose that, but this early in the story I tried to keep track of all the names and relationships.

    Apart from that, very good! I'm hooked and would read on!

  14. I have to disagree with the other commenters who loved the last sentence. I thought it seemed so strange that a teenager would be wondering about marrying this guy and changing religions.

    And I didn't follow the hot drink part, either. Why so hung up on hot drinks when they're also talking about bongs and alcohol? Why isn't she worried about the Mormon with that stuff instead? Sorry, but it didn't work for me.

    I actually kind of liked her friend's rambley paragraph. The voice was good there.

  15. So I thought this was a little confusing actually. I think there was a bit of a disconnect between the Mormon discussion and her clear concern about it since she obviously likes this Mormon guy and the whole drinking and hot drinks (do you put stuff in a crock pot to make a drink???) and then with the discussion of the party and the beer bong etc.

    I kind of liked Mimi's stream of consciousness rant--it felt very teenager to me and self-absorbed although it reminded me slightly of a paragraph from Knuffle Bunny too about who Trixie's friends are adn this one and that one and this one and that one and...

    I think the MC can just tune her out. Which is basically what she does anyway.

    Why would Adam be the only one to show up tonight? Sounds like it's going tobe this rocking party?

    I think it seems like there's potential here both in writing and story but I just think it felt a little all over the place.

  16. To the SA: Sure, you can crockpot drinks. I mull cider (and occasionally wine) in mine all the time! :)

  17. Thanks, Secret Agent, for the feedback. I will be putting a lot of thought into this opening before sending it out into the world. And thanks to everyone else for your kind words, suggestions and support. :)

  18. This hooked me. Obviously our MC is nervous, thus the sweating and jitters mentioned. She likes the Mormon dude but doesn't know if he likes her, plus the Mormon religion is kept pretty secret, so most people don't know particulars. (For example, you can't go in a Mormon temple unless you are Mormon in good standing, even if your daughter is getting married in there.)

    My mom has made spiced apple cider in her crock pot since the dawn of crock pots. You pour in the cider and add the special bag'o'spices- first available at Farmer's Markets and now Trader Joe's and other specialty shops- and the crock pot warms it up and keeps it warm all night. Perfect for parties.Friends do it all the time, with and without alcohol. So that part made total sense to me. Maybe only cool climate areas do it? It's not something you'd do in Arizona, for example. But we do it all fall and winter.Yum!

    I loved Mimi's rambling. Some of my adult friends still ramble on like that. It gives me insight to both Mimi's personality and Val's and seemed very realistic.This sounds like a fun teen YA romance, thankfully without the usual vampires.

  19. Thanks so much for your comment, DJ! I really appreciate your reassurance that I wasn't completely in lala land when I wrote this.:) I'd never considered that hot cider in the crockpot might be regional and so confusing. It threw enough people off, though--along with the nervous sweating--that I do probably need to come up with something different.

    Your comments provided a welcome boost of confidence for me, though. :) Thanks.