Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #16

TITLE: Troy of Helena

“If Aunt Gutsy is so crazy, why are you dumping us there for the summer! Mom would never ...”

“... Aunt Guts...Aunt Gusty is not crazy. She’s just ...unique.” Dad’s eyes nailed mine in the rear view mirror of the Taurus as we barreled down the Interstate. “Look, Troy,” he said, “We’re lucky to have her in the family.”

“But we’re family now: you, me, Chloe. We should stick together.” How couldn’t he see that? I kicked the back of the passenger seat where my fifteen-year-old sister Chloe sat.

“There won’t be anything to do there,” I said. “No cable. No internet. No ...”

“No whining. Please!” Dad said. “You don’t know what I’d give to spend a month in the country.”

“So do it!” I said, but I knew he wouldn’t.

Augusta Burke was really my Dad’s aunt which made her my great-aunt. Only I didn’t think getting dumped on her farm for the summer was so great. I continued my protest with what I believed was a major point. “She smells.”

Dad sucked in his breath and held it. That’s what he does every time his boss Grimsby calls him at home.

“Show some respect,” he said finally.

Chloe looked over the back of the seat with a big smirk stretched over her perfectly straightened teeth.

“Shut up,” I said to her.

“What did you say?” Dad demanded. “If you don’t straighten up right now, I’ll turn this car around!”

“No, don’t!” Chloe begged.

I grinned. “Yeah.”


  1. I'd be interested to see where this one is going. At first, it seemed that the father is dumping them off at the aunt's because of an emergency, etc. Then it seemed as though they'd been invited for the summer.

    Initially, I thought Aunt Gutsy was a nickname based on personality, so I'd be interested to see how Augusta became Gutsy. However, Gutsy and the boss Grimsby have very similar names, which was a little distracting so early on.

    In addition, there are five people - Dad, Troy, Gutsy, Chloe, and Grimsby - introduced in this opening. Are they all necessary so soon?

    Overall, I like the hint of a conflict in this opening, and I'd read more.

  2. I liked this. And I love that title! I'd like to know a little bit more about Aunt Gutsy's quirks from the start, just to know what we're in store for here. You could easily have Troy describe a few after her dad says "She's just...unique." I'm interested to see where this is going and would read on.

  3. Great title. Good conflict.

    Unfortunately, Troy hasn't given me any reason to like him. That's a problem (easily corrected) as he just comes off like a whiny brat.

    I'll read on for a bit, but I need to at least have a morsel of the over-arching background on why they are here and what's at stake before I'm going to be hooked.

    The good news is, I'm fairly sure it's going to be a good one :)


  4. There's five ellipses in here. That's a lot for only 250 words. It's distracting. I'd suggest trying to trim it down to one, maybe two that you feel are the most important and fix the other sentences/phrases to not need them.

    I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by a few things that's here. There's a lot and back and forth dialog going on, and she's family, but then we're family. In fact, that 'we're family now' confused me the most. We're they not a family before? With that first bit of dialog, I'm assuming their mother died, but they were still a family before that, now their family is just a little smaller, right? Or did I miss something?

    So, I wish things were easier to read and a little clearer, but I think you've got some good bits. Like Aunt "Gusty" and how she smells. Doesn't every family have one of those? Also, the connection with the sister, kicking her chair and her grinning when her brother gets in trouble, are some nice bits. Showing the dad threatening to turn the car around makes me laugh. I think it says a lot about the character of the dad and how he maybe doesn't entirely get the parenting thing.

  5. The issues I had were addressed ^^^ so I won't repeat them.

    I liked this, and thought it was funny - especially the end about turning the car around haha.

    I'd read on.

  6. This has definitely pulled me along, an easy reader with strong dialogue and characterisation.

    One point, though; Troy isn't very likeable. He seems kinda whiny and spoiled. I wouldn't judge the whole book on this opening alone, but I hope he does something likeable soon.

  7. love aunt gutsy's name, and troy telling his sis to shut up even though she didn't even speak. you nailed that sibling dynamic. i guess you could make him more likeable, but i was right there with him. why should he want to spend his summer with no cable and away from his friends? i'd read more for sure! :)

  8. I'm already interested in the aunt. And at the same time, I want to know why Chloe doesn't want to return to "civilization". It looks like Troy might get involved in the women's funny schemes. So maybe cut down the complaining a little bit so we can meet the aunt sooner.

  9. Love the title! Love the names. Intriguing that Troy doesn't want to spend the summer on the farm but his teenage sister does. I'd read more!

  10. I was a little confused by the dad saying "I'll turn this car around." Isn't exactly what troy wants him to do?

    I also agree with the poster who commented that there are too many elipses in that short of a piece

  11. Love your title. It hints at something very interesting. Unfortunately the opening lines don't give much of an indication of what that might be.

    I like the interaction between Troy, and his sister, and I'm very curious about why a teenage girl is so anxious to be dumped in the middle of nowhere.

    I agree that maybe the whining could dialed back a smidge, but I disagree that Troy is unlikeable. Anyone who has spent long hours in the car with MG age kids knows that this is nothing compared to how whiny they can get sometimes. But you can show us a little of who he is, and what he's going to miss besides just the modern conveniences. I'm sure he had friends and big summer plans.

  12. GREAT setup! I'm totally hooked. Kids get stuck with kooky, eccentric aunt for the summer, there is always tons of fun to be had with that storyline.

    You have a great voice for both the mc and the dad. I would be excited to see what Gutsy is really like. I would definitely keep reading!