Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #31

TITLE: A New Day
GENRE: YA contemporary romance

My mom was making us move back to Vespa, Wisconsin, whether I liked it or not. And I definitely did not. Yet here we stood, watching the moving van drive off and loading the last of our stuff into the trunk of Mom's car.

"Well, there's something to be said about working for a successful realty firm," she said while slamming the trunk shut. "They sure have an efficient moving crew. Time to move on, kiddo."

Resisting the urge to say something she'd make me regret later, I kept my mouth shut. As agreed, she took shotgun. My sense of direction was so inept that even the most expensive GPS systems had trouble keeping up with me, but I did know my way to the interstate. Sneaking one last look at the house I called home for six years, I bent down and picked a black-eyed Susan from alongside the garage and pressed it inside my book. We were on our way.

"It's a junk food extravaganza, Kenz," she said shortly after we left, pointing at the back seat. She was in full-on perky mode, the one she used while selling a house. "I don't want to stop right away, so I filled a cooler with our favorites. Doughnuts, potato chips, string cheese, iced coffee, diet soda, fruit juice, I don't even know what. Want anything?"

"I'd better wait. My stomach's not going to keep much down. Puking on my lap is not how I want to remember this day."


  1. My first thought: if there is anyway to start the story without a move, I'd try to go for it. I don't know about anyone else reading YA, but I am sick to death of books opening with an unwanted move. It's become so cliche that my answer to, "Are you hooked?" would be an automatic no because of that.

    That said, the voice is strong and I like the last line about puking into her lap especially. However, I did have a little trouble establishing their current location - both the immediate position of the car and what sort of town they were moving from - just from this passage. Dropping a hint or two would help a bit, I think.

    All in all though, the writing is pretty good.

  2. I like the writing--it's very well done. But I agree that opening with an unwanted move is a bit cliche. I almost moved on because of the first sentence--I think you could strengthen that a bit to make it less cliche and draw us in faster. Other than that, I like it :)

  3. My favorite sentence:
    "She was in full-on perky mode, the one she used while selling a house."
    The writing is neat and clear.

    I would read on.

  4. Strong voice and writing. I don't mind the move, because I think so many YA's can identify with it. I did kind of want to know where we were headed in the story. Is the move the major conflict? I wanted more of a hint of where we might be going on the storyline. But I would read more. Nice.

  5. I like the voice and you're a good writer!

    But is there any reason you need to show us the MC leaving her old town? Maybe start the novel with her arrival in her new place?

  6. I liked the voice and really loved that the MC picked a flower and pressed it in her book. Why she was driving confused me though, especially if she has no sense of direction.

  7. I was also confused about her driving, maybe you were using that as a device to establish age? However, that was the only moment I wrinkled my brow. The voice was strong and clear, there wasn't too much antagonism between the mother and daughter, just enough (the too much is also getting cliche, but is very relatable and often true.) And the humor in the end was the clincher! I would definitely read on!!

  8. The writing is good but I was also put off by the 'teen moving' story, not because she's moving, but because that's all she's doing.

    There are no hints here as to why. Did her parents divorce and now mom can't afford the house? Did she get a job transfer? Are they going to take care of an elderly grandparent? Telling us why they are moving will add characterization and give us clues as to who these people are.

    And then perhaps say why she doesn't want to move. Is she leaving a good friend beind? A boyfriend? Did something horrible happen at the other house? Again, adding the info gives us insight into your characters and their lives. It also hints at problem and plot.

    If you get that info in, your 'teen moving' story becomes more than a 'teen moving' story.

  9. The first three paragraphs don't do much work at characterizing or establishing tension; they could be cut. I'd be more intrigued if this started with "It's a junk food extravaganza..."

  10. I loved the last line and the little moment when she presses the flower as a keepsake. :O)