Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #20

TITLE: Emma's Heaven
GENRE: Adult Up

Two years ago, Megan forgot to breathe. Ever since, her life had been on pause. If there were a rewind option, she'd wish this day away.

She closed her eyes, clenched her jaw and counted to five. Her white knuckles gripped the doorknob as she struggled to turn it. With a steeled determination, Megan took a step through the open doorway. A bright light blinded her as she entered the room. It wasn't a day for the sun to shine, not in this room.

The carpet under her feet tickled her bare toes. Megan glanced down at the floor.

An envelope lay at her feet. Where did this come from?

She picked it up and turned it over. Her eyes stung as she stared at the writing on the card. Bold, cursive writing stood out against the white paper.

Happy 5th Birthday Emma. Love, Daddy.

Tears fell onto the envelope, white smudges soaked through the paper.

She'd forgotten to get a card.

A car door slammed outside. She walked to the window and saw Peter's car in the driveway. He's home early. She leaned her head against the window. The grass needed to be cut, and her gardens were a mess. If it weren't for the tulips, the garden beds would be empty.

The heavy tread on the stairway announced her husband's presence. She waited, silent, unable to call out to him. He stood in the open doorway. She didn't turn her head.

She didn't want him to see her swollen eyes.


  1. I'm definitely interested to read more. Especially with the book called Emma's Heaven and Emma not being the main character (at least I don't think....)

    However, for some reason it reads kind of choppy to me. I'm not sure why or how you could change it, but you may want to keep that in mind.

  2. Too many fragments of information
    that don't seem to connect. Confusing. I'm not hooked.

  3. I'm a little confused here. I feel like the story would have a stronger start at "She closed her eyes...etc" You slip into present tense a few times but otherwise everything is in past tense. There's something mysterious and intriguing going on here, but it's a little too confusing for me to read on. I think it might just a matter of being careful not to be too mysterious :-)

  4. The first paragraph confused me at first. The rest of it made more sense when I read it without that. I also wasn't sure why she "forgot to get a card" because I assumed Emma was dead. The thing is, we only get 250 words, so it's possible this, and the other commenters' questions, are clarified in the next couple sentences and we just got cut off early. I liked the imagery of the mourning parents.

  5. I would suggest taking another look at this. You're words aren't saying what you want to convey.

    Her white knuckles are having trouble gripping the doorknob. Perhaps it should be fingers? Then she steps through the doorway, but hasn't yet opened the door. The garden was a mess - and yet, if there were no tulips, it would be empty. So how do tulips make the garden a mess? Her husband's heavy tread announces him, but actually it was the slam of his car door that anounced him.

    You have an interesting story, but things like this can prevent it from being taken seriously. Perhaps revise to be sure you are writing what you mean.

  6. She's dead, the parents can't let go. A good story, but what made this day any different than the last two years. With 250 words, I'd recommend retooling to get an "inciting incident' into the first 250 not only for future contests, but generally for very busy agents. I can almost see the agents pulling their hair out. (not over your writitng which is very good, but over being overwhelmed, and then they drop a polite no.

    Just a small point: You had writing twice in the 5th para. Try dropping the first one. She stared at the card. It looks better.

  7. I liked the first line...but I did think that Megan was a ghost for a minute there and she was the one picking up the card, etc. I would still read on.

  8. A lot of intriguing details, but I'm afraid there are too few of them to hook me. I feel like I *almost* have all of the pieces I need to figure out what's happening here. But there's not enough. What makes this particular day worse than, presumably, the day her daughter died?

  9. Agree with comments above.
    Good, but slightly confusing. For eg: Happy 5th Birthday Emma. Love, Daddy.
    She'd forgotten to get a card.
    If it's from Daddy, isn't he the one who forgot the card?
    If there were a rewind option, she'd wish this day away.
    Not sure if you mean the day two years ago or the day the story is set.
    Definitely got potential - just tighten up your prose.

  10. I'm afraid I don't really know what's going on here and the way it's presented is not ultra appealing to me in terms of drawing me in to read more.

    Now some of the theories put forth by the commenters above sound pretty interesting and could be true based on the title--perhaps Emma is dead. Whose story is it? Megans? Emma's? Megan and the husband? It seems like women's fiction also.

    I also question whether the mother of a dead child would really forget a birthday. I tend to doubt it. And why wouldn't she want the husband to see her swollen eyes? aren't they sharing their grief?

    I just feel like delving a little more into what Megan is really feeling might draw the reader in more on this first page and help build what could possibly be a very interesting story.