Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #1

TITLE: This Side of Crazy
GENRE: Women's Fiction

The day I decided to kill my daddy started out normal on most counts. Mama agreed to take me and my baby sisters to the Biloxi library to check out more books to read during summer break. The three of us had already consumed a large stack of them, reading long into the sticky June nights.

Jessie, already downstairs in the kitchen, screeched that we'd run out of her favorite cereal and Mama told her in the sternest voice that plain old Corn Flakes would have to do. Bess, our housekeeper, offered to make pancakes but Mama shushed her, too. In my room, I slipped into a plaid cotton sundress and a pair of pink plastic sandals that squeaked when I walked and rubbed blisters on my little toes. The sound irritated Mama just enough to make those blisters worthwhile. Some might call this childish behavior for a 16-year-old but I took fun wherever I could find it.

Even though I hadn't eaten breakfast, I was eager to get on with our plans. I rushed out of my room and down the hall toward the bathroom so I could brush my teeth. What I saw stopped me short, the plastic of my shoes sticking fast to the floor.

Daddy stood perfectly still, a statue staring into the bathroom. He didn't respond to the squawk of my shoes, but as soon as Lily shrieked for him to close the door while she peed, he jumped as if jostled from
a trance.


  1. I love the opening line in this one. I think I would keep reading based on that alone.

    One thing that threw me off -- I assumed the narrator was in elementary school from use of the word, "daddy." So it was a little disorienting to find out she's a teenager. But that wouldn't stop me from reading.

    I wonder how long before the MC starts taking steps towards the murder -- or has she not yet decided she wants to kill him?

  2. Great opening line! The voice is distinct and strong but a bit young for a sixteen year old. However, I love it anyway, and you did a great job setting up the scene.

  3. Loving this! I NEED to read on--So hooked!

  4. Nice voice - although it sounds like the voice you'd find in a Middle Grade novel to me, eleven to twelve years old. Teenagers don't generally wear pink plastic sandals or sundresses, unless this is historical? Also, to begin with something as harsh as "The day I decided to kill my daddy..." I'd really like to see some hint of justification by this point. Ellen Foster has a similar opening line so you might want to pick it up.

    Edited to add - in re-re-reading that last graph, I'm wondering if she's alluding to molestation? If so, I didn't get that at first. Maybe just come straight out and say that he's watching Lily pee. That is fantastically creepy.

  5. The first line is a grabber and did draw me in, but it also immediately gives everything away.

    Perhaps consider starting with her getting dressed, then running down the hall to the bathroom and seeing Dad watching Lily. The hook would now be dad watching Lily, and you'd get lots of suspense out of it because the reader won't know how the MC is going to deal with the issue, which would also draw the reader in with lots of questions As is, I know she's going to kill him for it. The only questions are when and how.

    And I also imagined the MC to be younger (9-10). I was surprised to see she was sixteen. You might play with voice a bit. But all in all, nicely done.

  6. Favorite details: sticky June; shushing mommy; worthwhile blisters. This is already a very creepy compelling story. I wanna kill this dad character, too, and I don't even know him yet. The narrator makes my skin itch. In a good way.

  7. Thanks, everyone! It is historical (1960s - 1970s Mississippi) and I intended the 16-year-old to come across as younger than most teens, innocent, somewhat naive.
    But since everyone has similar comments, I may rethink her voice a bit.

  8. Liked it except for the phrase "Mama agreed to take us to the library." It just sounds odd. The "agreed" just sound off somehow. I'd have probably used different phrasing. But the story does sound interesting...I'd want to know why she was going to kill him, and what was the deal with him staring into the bathroom.

  9. Tiny thing. I would take out 'to read' in the second sentence. You don't need it, and you mention reading in the sentence after.

  10. I am hooked. It made more sense on a second read through - I got lost in the feeling of sticky nights so was confused that it was breakfast time. :)

    Jessie screeches and Lily shrieks - I feel turned off by these baby sisters. Could Jessie whine instead? Lily's shriek makes sense to me but Jessie's screech seems almost too much for her situation. Kids whine and I can clearly visualize a kid whining about food.

    You've created in my mind this perfect image of the Dad standing in front of the bathroom in his trance. Totally creepy and I want to keep reading!