Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #20

TITLE: Epicenter
GENRE: Adult Paranormal Romance

The drum beat pulsed through the single-room shack as strong and steady as a heart. Deolina, Vodun of Petro, felt the pounding in her veins as a call to war. A war she couldn't win. With the exception of the drummer, she and Grann were alone. No followers this night. No distractions. They'd come together as the greatest priestesses in Haiti—one of dark, the other light—to fight an evil that could kill them both.

Rolling her shoulders, Deolina tried to shake off long-legged spiders of fear that crept up her spine and skittered through her cornrows. Candlelight couldn't bar darkness from clawing at the shack, but she didn't need light to see what was coming for them. Deolina knew. We're too old to stop it.

"Hurry, Deolina!" Grann cried.

They'd been sworn enemies for fifty years and never once had she seen terror raging as a wild thing in Grann's eyes. It was like finding Satan frozen on a popsicle stick—she didn't know whether to cheer, or run. Remembering the horrors in her visions, she ran to sprinkle cast-off-evil powder inside the windowsills.

The drummer eased to a rhythm soft as blood drops on dirt.

"Can we save her?" Grann's voice could've come from a chicken being strangled.

Deolina sucked in a breath of smoky air. "Who's gonna stop us from gettin' our mojo on?"

"Fix the future?"

Hell could freeze. "Crank it up, bongo-boy. Me and my sista got us some evil a**-kickin' to do."


  1. I'm not entirely sure what's going on in this, but the writing is good, and you have created some good tension in this scene. I also like that you have set your story in Haiti. It seems like the most obvious place in the world to put a paranormal novel, but it's also under-utilized.

    I only have one thing I didn't like, but others may love it, so it's just my opinion. The phrase "voice could've come from a chicken being strangled" sounded like you were trying to hard to come up with a clever descriptor. Your other descriptive phrases were spot on.

  2. I really like the idea of dark and light priestesses working together. I get a sense of their voice in this snippet. The drummer is an awesome foil. I liked the phrases: soft as blood drops on dirt and long-legged spiders of fear.

    Two things that popped me:
    The name Grann makes me think of grandmother. So, when I saw they were sworn enemies, I thought I'd read the name incorrectly.

    The descriptor (title?) "Vodun of Petro" popped me out the story. I thought, "What's a Vodun? Where's Petro? Do I need to remember this to understand the rest of the story?"

    Could you work it in later?
    But then again, maybe it's me.

  3. I liked this because you took me to another place. Not just Haiti, but to the world of Voodoo.

    I had the exact same problem with Grann as Durango did. I immediately assumed it was her g'mother and that she was old.

    I would have liked a bit more atmosphere here. The drum works nicely but I thought you could use more. Perhaps add more detail to the scene. A fire or lights, and what 'tools of the trade' are they using?

    The piece also focuses on how Deolina feels and doesn't really go into what she's doing, and I think adding that could help. All we see is that one line where she sprinkles powder on the window sills. What are they doing there? Are they making potions, voodoo dolls, casting spells, goin into trances to speak to the dead? Give us a sense of what they are doing. Fighting evil is too broad. Put us in the moment.

  4. A few too many similes/metaphors in a row at the end of this. Not a big fan of the dialogue at the end, either. But I do like the "native" voodoo vibe running through this and the conceit of sworn enemies coming together to fight an evil larger than them both.

  5. This one is mine.

    Thank you for commenting, everyone. I really appreciate it!
    Secret Agent, I will cut down on the similes at the end. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Just to answer the questions asked: Grann is called Grann by everyone and is the actual granmother of the young woman who is in trouble in the story. Both of the priestesses are in their seventies. This piece ends just as the priestesses start to chant and Deolina falls into a trance. Perhaps I need to bring that up sooner.

    Thanks again!