Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #1

TITLE: August Moon Madness
GENRE: YA Paranormal

Auggie clicked off his head lamp and rolled his bike into the rack. He hooked the U-lock in place and snapped it shut. Voo-Doo Charlie's eighteen-wheeler sat in the far corner of the lot. Auggie walked towards it, feeling like he was moving slo-mo in the hot, wet mouth of a dog. He cursed God and Oklahoma summers. Ninety-five at eleven at night. He uncapped his water bottle and poured it over his head, slipping off the sash he'd tied around his dirty-blond dreads. He set the bottle on the step of the cab and knocked. Two long raps, three short knock-knocks plus one code word: Magic.

He heard the door lock unlatch, then pulled the handle and climbed into the cab.

"Mister Auggie," Voo-Doo Charlie smiled. "My favorite customer."

Auggie shook Charlie's smooth, pale hand. "How you been?"

"Fair enough." Fa Eno. His Cajun accent made him sound like he had a mouth full of rice and red beans. "Got some good stuff for you tonight. Black-take-back candle, road-opening hoodoo." He reached into the space behind the seat, yanked a box forward and set it between them. "Got prosperity powder. Dolls." He tossed those aside. "You don't like them dolls."

The dolls creeped him out. Their hair looked like it came from real humans. Everything else Charlie sold half intrigued him, but Auggie hadn't come out of desire. He'd come to buy out of obligation.


  1. There's a lot to like in this piece, and I'd definitely read on a few pages to see where it goes. One of the things I love the most is that you don't try to type the Cajun jargon out phonetically. You give us the real words so we can understand them, with enough of a hint of his accent that the reader can fill in the real sounds as they go. Beautiful.

    The only thing I can recommend to turn this from "good" to "great" is to set the mood up front. If Auggie's come to buy out of obligation, I'd expect some hint of his emotions up front, and it wouldn't be a stretch to add those in the first paragraph. Is he nervous? Anxious? If you attribute his sweating to his emotions despite the extreme heat (like he'd be sweating from nerves even if it was below zero outside), that would set the mood a whole lot better that just describing how hot Oklahoma is. Use everything in the scene to set the mood and add to tension. If I know Auggie's nervous in paragraph 1, then I'll really want to read on to the end of the first page, when I learn about his obligation, and then I'd be really hooked.

  2. I really like this. Love the "walking slo-mo, in the het, wet mouth of the dog. Voo doo Charlie intrigued me right away.
    I agree with the first commenter about setting the mood. We don't get any of Charlie's emotions. I don't feel like he's nervous. It seems like he's been there a lot. How is he feeling?

    Nice job - I'd read on.

  3. Sorry - I meant Auggie's emotions not charlie's

  4. I really liked the overall feel for this one. The “feeling like he was moving slow-mo in the hot, wet mouth of a dog” and “made him sound like he had a mouth full of rice and beans” are really fantastic lines. Those right there would keep me reading, wondering what else might come along.

    I do think that the first paragraph needs to be smoothed out though. You’ve got a lot of small actions going on, a lot of “he hooked”, “he cursed”, “he uncapped”. You could combine some of those to make it move faster, maybe build up some tension since he’s going to see a voo-doo dealer.

  5. This is really nice. I get the feeling that Auggie is resigned to go see Charlie right from the beginning - there doesn't seem to be fear, anxiety, or dread and this makes it even more intriguing to me. It is as though he's going to the store to buy a gallon of milk - he needs the milk, but he doesn't really want to go to the trouble to get it. This is helped by the fact that he's only 'half-intrigued' by Charlie's wares and 'creeped out' by the dolls. It all seems so comfortable and familiar to him, which makes me want to know more about what sort of trouble he's gotten himself into.

  6. Very nice setting and characterization. I could see it all nicely. Only suggestion I have is maybe smooth the first para so there aren't so many sentences starting with "He."

    Otherwise, nice work. I like it! :)

  7. I agree with everyone. This was well done. I did get the sense in the first parg that it wasn't quite there, though. I think K. Cooper hit it on the head. The mood is missing. Show us how he feels about being there through his actions. It feels just a bit too matter-of-fact.

  8. I like this, especially from the second to last paragraph onward. With the Cajun accent the words get their own flavor too.

    I would suggest a little variation in your sentence structure. Especially the first paragraph is very formulaic and as a result the flow is off.

    I also think the beginning could do with a little more feeling, because it sounds somewhat detached to me. On the other hand it fits the dry, hot night. And I like it. I'd read on.

  9. I agree with above. The first para seems long and has too many "he" in it. Over all, the pace is very good. I would only suggest changing some sentences in the fist para. Nice job!

  10. I call the first five sentences ‘play-by-play’ writing. Too little activity, too many words saying it. I would start your first page with ‘Ninety-five at eleven’. THAT is great.

    You can edit and cut some of the words in the previous sentences and roll them into the narrative later.

    Your descriptions of the emotions are great! You really nailed that. As a reader, I can feel what Auggie is experiencing.

    I would probably read more.

  11. Thanks for the feedback! Super interesting and helpful to have fresh eyes on this. I appreciate it.

  12. The first paragraph does read choppy. Not every action needs to be described in such detail. Jumping right into the story is much more interesting.

    I enjoyed the by play between the characters. Would love more of your protagonist's emotions and insight.

    Would definitely read on to see where this exchange was leading.

  13. Love the title and concept. Nothin like a voodoo man selling somethin the MC can't handle. And your setting was nailed.

    Maybe its just me, but in the last line did you mean to say pay off an obligation? If he came out of duty or habit, it isn't cvclear to me. Something to think about.

  14. I agree with the others that the beginning is a bit too clipped, but as it moves forward, things smooth out. As for the purchase out of obligation, I believe the tone is set - he's been there before, has picked up a few things he found interesting, but this trip involves a necessary purchase. The last sentence provides a good hook *because* his mood doesn't indicate any sort of nerves or trepidation. Like he's a man on a mission - and the mission itself, not the purchase - is the intrigue.

  15. I'm a huge sucker for voodoo and cajun magic, so this is right up my alley. I love the stifling heat, it makes for a wonderful setting. Your MC seems very likeable.

    I though the 'dog's mouth' metaphor was cute, if a little gross, but in that way it did it's job! Heat is thick and wet and just...ick.

    I would love to read on.