Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Secret Agent #20

GENRE: YA Contemporary

It's been more than two hours since I e-mailed God.

I'm on my way to my job in the school cafeteria, biting my nails and starting to worry.

Not even a thunderbolt or a milk-turned-into-cheese miracle to let me know he's listening.

In the hall by my locker, two girls in skinny jeans bump into me, they're so busy yakking about the prom.

Forget about the prom. All I can think about is my e-mail. Maybe I shouldn't have put that part in there about how I'm about to get expelled because Jennifer McDonald stole the answers to the psych quiz and put them in my locker. Never mind that I'm getting detentions for a year.

No help in sight, I slog into the cafeteria and hope it isn't the hell it usually is. A room full of mean kids and a Gestapo dietary supervisor can make any day worse than crossing the Red Sea.

This demeaning job is the only one I could get, but I need it real bad if I want to go to college. My dad's not made of money, you know. I mean, he tells me this every day, so I guess it's true.

"Stop daydreaming, Sara. Put on this hairnet. You're not allowed to get any hair in the food.”

Oh, oh, it's my boss, but look who's talking. It's Ms. I-Taste-The-Food-And-Never-Wash-My-Hands Schroeder.


  1. I really connected to the voice and found it very intriguing that she "e-mailed God." I would definitely keep reading!

  2. A few things:
    1) "It's been" should be "It has been" although this would read better as something like, "More than two hours have passed since I emailed God." This is a great opener otherwise!
    2) I like the voice overall but I don't totally buy this line: "Not even a thunderbolt or a milk-turned-into-cheese miracle to let me know he's listening." Is she actually expecting a thunderbolt or is she trying to be sarcastic to herself here? And where would this milk be turning into cheese? In the hallway? I can see what you're trying to do here but I think this line could be stronger.
    3) "you know" is kinda talking to the reader and that pulls us out of her head.

    Good luck!

  3. The opening line is great! Overall, I like this. I think it's funny, and I love funny books. It reads a little young to be YA, though, imho. The very-short paragraphs may have something to do with it.

    Best of luck!

  4. Great first line! But then I'm afraid you lost my interest. I would've liked to get back to *why* she emailed God and why she thinks it might work before the end of the page. Also I agree with the poster who said the tone sounds more MG than YA.

  5. Great opening line, but what I wanted to know was *why* she e-mailed God. WHat does she hope He can do for her? What's her problem?

    But then you go into her job, her dad, mean girls, etc., and the promise of that opening line fades away and I lost interest.

    Perhaps stick with the e-mail. Maybe even tell us what she wrote. Get us involved. The e-mail is your hook.

    ANd it did sound MG to me, too.

  6. I like your voice and it's light, humorous tone. I'm trusting that we'll get back to the email soon -- it's a great hook that leads us through the beginning here -- we're all wanting to know! That she has to work behind the counter with the Gestapo Dietary Supervisor gives the familiar cafeteria scene a fresh twist. I would definitely read on.

  7. Intriguing, but it sounds and feels more MG than YA ... maybe because it's so exaggerated: calling the cafeteria hell, equating mean kids and a dietary supervisor to the Red Sea, and mentioning the Gestapo along (in one scene you've invoked biblical images and Nazi Germany - not just overkill but mixed imagery). And the "My dad's not made of money, you know. I mean, he tells me this every day, so I guess it's true." sounds like something a nine-year-old would say.

  8. I agree with Girl Friday and Barbara. It's a great opening; it's like an anonymous-group-meeting line, and I wouldn't change the wording. However, the list of her problems and the introduction of too many character confused the main issue. What is her emergency now? Why did she email God now and not yesterday?

  9. Ooh yeah, I like the title, "Almighty Sara". Yup I'm sold, LOL.

    Seriously, I loved the opening sentence.

    The voice is terrific too! :P

  10. I liked the first line too. Didn't get the cheese with the thunderbolts. I know what you're going for, but the cheese part doesn't work for me.
    I won't repeat some of what's been said above.
    The premise is great though. Keep going!

  11. Loved your opening line -- made me smile all the way through the piece, wondering where it would take us. (Guess I'll have to read on to find out! And I would.) Thought her voice was very authentic. I only questioned the "room full of mean kids" bit. Does that mean that everyone at her high school is mean? Yikes. What about a friend or two who give her a nod when they pass through the line? This gives the impression of clever girl in the school from hell with mean kids, mean school staff. (Not quite that bad, but I hope you see what I'm getting at. Again, probably this comes through later on in your story.)

  12. Just a couple of things that haven't been mentioned.

    'Not even a thunderbolt or a milk-turned-into-cheese miracle to let me know he's listening.' I think 'He's' is usually capitalised when referring to God.

    'You're not allowed to get any hair in the food.”' Made me think this was her first day on the job, otherwise her boss wouldn't need to say that. Perhaps just something like 'put on your hairnet.'

    I would like to read more of this.

  13. I like the first line, too. I did wonder, however - if God is reading an e-mail, the line about wondering if he's listening throws me. A nit-pick.

    I do like the voice, but this line here, "...but I need it real bad if I want to go to college." made me suddenly feel like the MC was younger.

    I'd also cut the hair in food line and stop at hairnet.

    I like the idea of a Bruce/Evan Almighty-goes-teen with a female MC. I'd be interested to read on and see where it goes. Thanks for sharing!

  14. What I liked: Strong opening line that raises lots of questions. Decent voice.

    What needed work: I felt the quick line breaks were a little jolting, and made the sample feel pretty young. Also, I didn’t feel like there were enough descriptions for the opening—Sara moves quickly from the hallway to the cafeteria without much detail about the girls or her surroundings. You can have more descriptions, especially in YA.

    Would I keep reading based on these sample pages? Sure.