Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #34

TITLE: Finding Zuza
GENRE: YA urban fantasy

There were currently three things wrong in Zuza’s world. One, it was her last year to be kissed for the first time. If she turned sixteen before this happened, she would die of embarrassment. Two, her papa was trying to replace her with the spawn of the housekeeper. No explanation needed there. And three, some tattooed punk was following her.

She walked faster.

Three frat-boy-looking guys lounged on the porch of a chopped-up Victorian, probably taking a break from hazing recruits. They called out to her.

“Hey, beautiful. Want some beer?”

“Ewww, no,” she mumbled without looking up. They were statutory-rape-creepy, but she cut them some slack because she did look older than fifteen. She’d been into heavy makeup since her papa’s wedding. Raccooning her eyes each morning took the edge off living in a house with two lovey-dovey people.

She blew past the Victorian and turned the corner. Footsteps followed her. A breeze rustled her curls like an approaching cold front. She wondered if people would see it as especially tragic if she were murdered only blocks from her papa’s office. Maybe he would even feel guilty. No, his new wife would squeeze out her wrinkled turtle-baby early to distract him from her memory.

Zuza maneuvered her pack so she could reach her back pocket. She pulled out a stick of gum and chewed it furiously. A peppermint high, familiar and reassuring, filled her as she trotted across the road. There was no sense in dying with bad breath.


  1. I like your voice. The statutory-rape-creepy line is funny. A few things confused me. She seems too old to be calling her father papa. I would think she'd refer to him as father based on her current attitude toward him. The bit with replacing her with the spawn of the housekeeper was confusing. Did her father marry the housekeeper? Why is she calmly walking to her father's office and chewing gum if someone was following her? That seems odd. Everything else I loved. I would read on.

  2. Loved this! The voice is incredible. The only thing I was just a bit confused by is if his new wife is the housekeeper or if he's impregnated two women at the same time. I'm assuming not, but you could clarify it just a bit.

  3. I agree with the comments about the housekeeper/second wife.

    I would also add that if some "tattooed punk" was following me and I was thinking that he might kill me, I might at least consider hanging out with the Frat boys for a bit until he left. Just a thought.

  4. There's too much going on here. First, you have a 15 year old girl calling her dad "papa" which just seems strange, not in a good way, to me. Then you have a quick injection of some malice towards "papa" because he's trying to replace her with a housekeeper but then you move right into someone following her, then there's guys yelling at her from a house, then she talks about her makeup, then you describe the air, then some more malice towards the "new wife" which I'm assuming is the housekeeper? Then you end with chewing gum and expecting to die .. It's just too much hopping all over the place, especially for just the first opening paragraphs. Try to keep consistency in each paragraph.

  5. LOL! Die of embarrassment. Love how you switched that up on us. But it seemed like mixed messages at times. Turtle baby--*snort* Great voice!

  6. Love the voice here. I'm even more intrigued that this is a fantasy. I like the scene. I get a good idea of the MC through her rambling thoughts and I am very curious about who is following her. I think you've done a great job here. Good luck!!

  7. Holy crap! You managed to inject so much voice into so little text! I love how you weave tidbits of info about the MC so seamless into the scene.

    I agree with Kate that it's a bit jumpy, but I still really like it.

    Good job!

  8. I really liked this beginning. In addition to clarifying the housekeeper's spawn, I might also suggest rewording your second sentence. I had to re-read it a couple of times to catch your meaning. Overall, great work.

  9. I liked this. The sarcasm is light-handed and funny and very fifteen year old girlish. I understood the spawn line right away. But since others found it confusing you might say something like "...spawn of his new wife, their former housekeeper."

    It sounds a little "Buffy the vampire slayer" to me, which I loved. I'm guessing that's why she cuts the frat boys some slack and expresses no particular fear at the following footsteps. She sounds like a girl who can defend herself if necessary.

    I would definitely turn the page.

  10. It is an interesting voice, though I have a couple of suggestions for the first paragraph: I'd change the second sentence to "One, she was still waiting for her first kiss." And I might try to shed light on the line about her father's replacing her with the spawn of the housekeeper, since, contrary to the next sentence, I didn't understand what was being suggested 'til the 6th paragraph (and even then it was just a guess).

    I also found "frat-boy-looking guys" awkward--maybe make it "frat guys" or "fratty guys"?

  11. Sorry, playing cheerleader again and not really helpful, but I think this is great! Yes, it needs a few tweaks as mentioned, but I laughed all the way through.

    I'm fine with "papa"- I think parent names depends on ethnicity/upbringing. A friend insists calling his wife "Mama" means she's hot, but I think it sounds backwoods. But KIDS calling their parents "Papa & Mama" brings to mind old-world Europe, like with an Italian or German flavor. Immigrants would keep such designations.

    I'd probably call our statutory rape creeps "Loser frat boys" in real life, but don't know about book life. And there is no sense in dying with bad breath!:)