Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #19

TITLE: The Present is Past
GENRE: YA Mystery

For Ro, order is the only control against chaos, and it comes with the price of her sanity. No one understands this better than her big sister Athena. Athena and Ro tiptoe around the unsolved mystery that scarred them both early in their childhoods. When Athena vanishes, Ro is determined to find her at any cost. Even if it means remembering.

It was pitch-dark. Enclosed. They could have been in a closet, maybe in an overturned box, under a bed. Wherever they were it was dark. The two sisters couldn’t see so they clung to each other tightly. The big sister’s auburn curls entwined with the younger sister’s ebony locks, much like their fingers were laced together.

“Do you think she’s asleep?” the younger one asked.

“No, I don’t.”

“Do you think we can get out of here?” Her voice quivered.

“No. Not for a long, long time.” The older sister answered and squeezed her fingers hard. The younger sister relaxed into the pressure, feeling worried but safe. The darkness swallowed their small frames, huddled together like shadows scared of reality’s bright glare. Finally, the older sister screamed.

Fourteen years later

Ro was a fine example of a person trying to be good. Despite it all. Or maybe because of it all. Either way she tried. No more than two drinks a night no matter how sharp the wind blew through the poorly insulated thirteenth-floor apartment she called home. Never more than one sick day a month from her roach infested high school and absolutely only one crying jag per week. Usually she scheduled this in after a phone call with her father. One had to have limits, however self-imposed: to cope, to manage, to survive. Or so Ro thought.

Why it was so important to be good was something any person suffering from depression, anxiety and a crushing obsessive complex would understand. But Ro knew no one else with this constellation of traits. Her sister understood. Athena and Ro were tight, maybe because of the murder. They never spoke of it. In fact, they told people their mom died of cancer.


  1. I like this and would read on.

    he only lined that tripped me up was 'Finally the older sister screamed.'

    It kind of comes out of nowhere. They're there being quiet, and then she screams.

    Maybe move that to a paragraph of its own for pacing and impact.

  2. Logline: It sounds like this book begins with Athena disappearing which makes the main character Ro. If so, concentrate on her goal (finding her sister) and her obstacles (remembering her past? possibly some tangible ones too?)

    Good luck!

  3. Love the title, and the logline works great.

    I agree with the first comment above, the line about the older sister screaming had no lead up to it, and jarred me out of the story.

    Really liked this and would read on.

  4. For the logline, I have no idea what's going on. It's nicely written and mysterious, but I have no idea what this story is going to be about... except that Athena disappears and to find her, Ro must risk her sanity by remembering? There's not enough here to help me connect Ro's sanity, Athena's disappearance, and the blocked out memory together.

    "Finally, the older sister screamed" seemed random. There has to be something that causes it and that part needs to be included.

    The only thing in the narrative that caught me off guard was the beginning of the last paragraph--any person suffering from ... would understand. Which means, I don't understand, so I'd actually like some sort of indication about why she feels the need to be good. But she knows no one else... except she does know her sister... so that seemed like strange phrasing.

    The revelation of the murder was interesting.

  5. I found the logline confusing, but it intrigued me enough to read the excerpt, which is beautifully written. I agree about the scream coming out of nowhere, and the last paragraph was disjointed. Easy fixes.

    Good luck!

  6. I agree with others that I'd like the logline to actually tell me more about the story. The author needn't worry about giving too much away.

    The older sister seems to be the one holding it together. So, maybe a line about her losing grip might lead us more naturally into the scream.

    I do like books that hint at the awful that happened years ago and how it shapes the protag today. However, the depression line threw me off.

    Maybe something like, "As was true with others who suffered from depression..."

    I'd watch the use of "was" throughout. Could strengthen by using more active voice.

    Would like to read more.

  7. I do like your premise, but the prologue part felt a little in need of buffing. Referencing the girls by "the younger one" and "the older sister" felt way too detached, so unless there's a really good reason for not using their names, maybe you should. Also, I was a little confused as to why the girls didn't know where they were--under a bed or in a closet. Are they lying down? Sitting up, standing? Tied together? A few more clues would help there. The hair color drop was a little awkward, especially considering the pitch-dark surrounding, but you pulled off enough tension to keep me interested.

    I would keep reading.

  8. You lost me at "The big sister’s auburn curls entwined with the younger sister’s ebony locks, much like their fingers were laced together." This sort of writing points at itself, and not in a good way. The language is working too hard. It's the wrong detail for the moment and it suggests to me: this writer isn't quite in control of what she's about to tell. Or it could be a pet peeve of mine and be quite fine for everyone else...