Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #19

TITLE: Suspended State
GENRE: YA paranormal suspense

It isn’t the cold that makes me shiver. It’s the wolves. I can’t see them amongst the trees, but I can hear them. The cries are haunting and desperate; one long wail after another.

“What are they doing out here anyway?” I ask. “It’s a ski resort. It’s not like we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“I hear them all the time, but they don’t ever both anyone,” Wes answers.

“If you say so.” I nod and silently add being a wolf dinner to my list of current fears, right behind tumbling down the mountain like a crash-test dummy and breaking at least a dozen bones.

But Wes is as sweet and understanding as I had hoped he would be. “They’ll leave us alone, Lauren,” he says, squeezing my hand. “I promise.”

As the chair lift carries us higher up the mountain, I look down and see our skis dangling thirty feet above the snow. It’s about the only time I can relax and focus on Wes. It feels good just to be sitting next to him.

“Look,” he says, pointing to the valley. “Best view ever.”

He’s right. It’s breathtaking. I can see for miles. Thousands of pine trees, some covered in snow, some not, all scattered against a backdrop of sparkly white snow and perfect blue. Not a cloud in the sky. The valley looks so peaceful from this height that it almost makes me forget I was freaking out before until Wes asks, “Have you ever seen an avalanche?”


  1. I'm not really sure about this one. I'm not a skier, but I think if you're on a commercial slope you probably don't have to worry much about wolves.

    Also, towards the end, you say "it's about the only time I can relax and focus on Wes" and then instead of describing Wes, or Lauren's realtionship to Wes, Wes points out the view and you describe the scenery again.

    I'm not sure I would read on. Sorry.

  2. I thought there was a good mix of action and description here, but you could probably be more judicious about what to focus on in that last para (I'd elim the "no cloud" and "peaceful valley" parts).

    I also got the sense that this is the first time Lauren and Wes have met. If that's the case, you may want to play that up a bit more here as that could also be a good hook for readers... Best of luck!

  3. I like this. I would read on. (And I am also not a skier.)

    I like Lauren and can identify with her fears. She has a great voice!

    And I absolutely love the last thing Wes says! That's what really got me.

    Well done and good luck!

  4. I had a hard time getting into this. It's probably partial due to the fact I've read so many werewolf books and that's where it looks like this one is going. If it is a werewolf, how's it going to stand out? And so much of it is tied to the wolves, I'm having a hard time deciding if I like the rest of despite them.

  5. I'm definitely intrigued by this - I want to know more about Wes and Lauren's relationship, and why the wolves are lurking!

    I do think you can tighten this up a bit. A lot of your descriptions speak for themselves and don't need extra modifying sentences. For instance, you can trim down the following two snippets (I've put brackets around words I'd cut):

    “If you say so.” I [nod and silently] add being a wolf dinner to my list of current fears, right behind tumbling down the mountain like a crash-test dummy and breaking [at least] a dozen bones.


    [But Wes is as sweet and understanding as I had hoped he would be.] “They’ll leave us alone, Lauren,” he [REPLACE HE WITH WES] says, squeezing my hand. “I promise.”

    Good luck!

  6. I actually love the last line. I want to read more just b/c of that. It may not lead to anything, or it may be a premonition of things to come. Either way it hooked me to want to keep going. Nice job and good luck.

  7. I'm not sure about this one. Wolves are so rare in the US (if this is where it is set) that to see and or hear them would not be commonplace. And they avoid places with people even when they are present so factually it is just wrong to have Wes treat it as a normal occurence. Also, the MC comes across as such a wimp that it would be difficult to carry on for me. Also, you have a typo where you have Wes say "they don't ever both anyone" - you mean bother obviously. If this were a comedy and she has unnatural fears of everything then it could work on that level - i.e. all her fears are realized (like she is the unluckiest person in the world). But, as it stands now, she sounds very much like a small child and I am sure she is supposed to be a teen. I suppose I would have to see a query to see where this was going because it is not clear yet to me.

  8. The first line made me think of the book Shiver by Maggie Steifvater. I don't think that is a positive - usually agents are looking for works that are different from what's already out there. If your book is nothing like Shiver then consider changing this line so your readers do not make that association.

    There are a few "rules" for openings, especially in YA (not that rules can't be broken). One is to start with your MC and you do that. The other is to start at a point where the MC's world changes. Start where the problem is made clear. I don't know that you really do that here. I think the wolves are more foreshadowing than an introduction of the main problem. If that's wrong then I think they need to take more of the focus here.

    I didn't like the exchange between the MC and Wes until the last line. It was too generic and didn't show promise of any tension or problems to be worked out. The last line makes me think he likes to tease her which promises some interesting dialogue in the future.

    I might read a few more paragraphs since the last line was interesting but I can't say I'm really hooked yet.

  9. You've done a really strong job of establishing the setting. If I can see where we are, and clearly, I am more likely to want to keep going. It makes me feel like the writer really knows what he or she is doing with the story, even though I know nothing about what to expect (though I figure wolves will play a part). I'd read more.