Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February Secret Agent #16


We're lying on my heart-shaped canopy bed, doing lopsided leg lifts, eating our way through a plate of gooey fudge, and arguing over what to do with our summer.

"Omigod, I got it! Let's get jobs on a cruise ship to Hawaii. We can learn the hula and see firsthand where Elvis made all those sexy movies," I say to Mitsy, my best friend.

Even though her name's Madge, I call her Mitsy, because she reminds me of my Great Aunt Mitsy who died years ago, but left me her opera gloves, satin cape, and a risqué diary about her escapades in Rome with a duke.

Mitsy lets her leg flop onto the bed, grabs my elbow, and flutters her eyelashes at me. "And just how in freakin' heck do you think that's going to fly with our parents, my dear?" she says in a fake English accent, tossing her blonde hair out of her face.

She sounds a bit like my great aunt, but looks nothing like her. This Mitsy reminds me more of a cucumber slice in her pale green jeans and top--a very slim slice--whereas everything I put into my mouth sticks right to my hips. She may be a cucumber, but in my red Capri pants and top, I look more like a stuffed pepper. A long stuffed pepper with curly brown hair. It’s depressing, but whenever I get
upset, I eat.


  1. You’ve got a lot of back story and character info right up front. If you stuck with the dialogue, the idea of two girls getting a summer job, and used that information later the opening would move faster and be smoother. You’ve got a good voice.

  2. I agree that there is a lot of back story here. I think moving that throughout the book would give you an opportunity to show us more about the girls, right now I'm not getting a feeling for either of them.

  3. I wonder about the time period - tone and imagery (leg lifts, Elvis, Rome with a lover, a girl named Madge) evoke an earlier time, while dialogue is from the here and now. I like the narration and the description of Mitsy. I also like the title.

  4. The writing is fine, but you might want to consider starting somewhere else, though.

    Imagine yourself in this situation. Your friend says, "Guess what? I went to England and met the Queen and was a ball girl at Wimbledon. And I met the boy of my dreams." You're dying to hear the story, then she starts telling you about doing leg lifts and how her friend Mitsy has the same name as her Aunt, but other than that, they're nothing alike. Wouldn't you be saying "Who cares! Tell me about Wimbledon and the Queen. Tell me about the boy of your dreams."

    Start with the incident that changes her life. Start with her going to England, or walking out on the Wimbledon court for the first time, or learning she got the job, or her first encounter with the boy.

    You might also skip the descriptions. We don't care that she's wearing red capri's because tomorrow she'll be wearing something else. It's not important and doesn't matter.

    Use your first page to grab your reader.

  5. Love the title :D

    But I agree with Barbara - what I expected based on the title alone is not what I'm reading so far. Is this really where the story starts? If it is, make that very clear from the beginning.

    Get rid of the backstory, the telling, and start with a scene that makes us want to read on. In fact, make it impossible for us to put it down. I for one would love to know more! :)

    (Randomly, the English accent made me LOL. The accent may be precisely that, the words - to me - are anything but. Perhaps that was on purpose? If not, have another look at your word choice :) )

  6. A bit too cute for me, and maybe seeming a bit more MG than YA. You're a good writer, but the breathlessness of this throws me.

  7. Some solid visuals here with your cucumber and red pepper references - thought that was cute. However, I'd drop the sentence about her hair color - just feels a little forced and that you're trying too hard to make sure you get your characters description in, up front.

    Love the title though and think you've done a solid job cultivating Mitsy.

  8. Intriguing title. I want to know why the book is called that from the get-go, however.

    I'm not a fan of present tense but that's not what distracted me. I felt there was too much backstory and set up. Friends figuring out what to do for the summer is not as exciting as them actually doing something. How they got there can so easily be explained in a few paragraphs later on.

  9. I like the cucumber/red pepper descriptions. :) I agree with the others that the exciting title makes me want you to get right to the story rather than this slow backstory and description beginning. Get straight to the action! :)

  10. Dang, Betsy said exactly what I wanted to say about loving the cucumber and pepper descriptions.

    I'm not convinced you've opened where the story starts because you've put them in a bedroom contemplating what to do with their summer. I want to see them after they've decided, especially if this girl gets to go to England. That'd be great.

    Good writing, but start me in the action.

  11. Most YA readers would not be too versed with Elvis, so that would limit your readership. I agree with others and the secret agent. It would be so much better if you start with her, an American girl, and oh my God how did she get here, running across the Wimbleton center court chasing down balls. The snooty but tall lanky, thick curly blodne locks English boy snaps at her to move her ass. You'd get your reader's attention and libido. God save the queen . . . for later or she might portend her future with a what's next, meet the Queen? You could also cover later in the book her unlikely beginnings in dribs and drabs for a much better flow.

    Your girl is so real here, you just got to start her right.