Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Secret Agent #17

TITLE: The Letty House Mystery
GENRE: MG mystery

Kerry O’Hara jolted awake. The sharp, pounding pain in her head made her catch her breath. She was so dizzy she grabbed the edge of her mattress and felt sure she was going to throw up. Kerry gingerly patted the top of her head, certain there must be blood but there was nothing. That’s when she got really scared.

Kerry’s terrible gift – that’s what her mother called it – her terrible gift made her feel the pain suffered by anyone in her family. Not the normal bumps and scrapes her younger sisters and brothers collected every day but serious pain, like her sister, Essie’s, appendicitis and her mother’s migraine headaches. She had never suffered discomfort for anyone outside her family and that’s what worried her so much now. Which of them could be having such terrible pain?

Moonlight through the windows of her wide attic bedroom outlined her twin sisters in their double bed. The seven-year-olds sprawled in their pink flowered underwear clearly pain free even in the August heat trapped under the room’s slanted ceiling.

Worried now that her parents or her brothers might be sick, Kerry swung her legs over the side of the bed but voices from the open windows next door drew her attention.

“Come on, come on, Letty, quit fakin.’ Wake up,” said a hoarse, deep male voice.

“I think you hit him too hard, Brogan,” said a second voice, high and whiney. “I don’t think he’s going to be able to wake up.”


  1. I like Kerry from the beginning--you make her immediately sympathetic with her concern for her family. I also like that you've started right in the middle of the action, but I wonder if you might be able to better show the reader what Kerry is feeling. Here are some lines in particular that I felt might make your opening stronger if they were shown instead of told:

    That's when she got really scared.
    Worried now that her parents or her brothers might be sick…

  2. Oooh. I really like this, the empathy gift. And the mystery surrounding who got hit and why. I'd read on.

  3. I thought you set the situation up nicely and it ends on a mysterious note. Maybe show that first parg. Let her wake and feel the pain herself. Don’t tell us about it. Show her being wobbly from dizziness or show the room spinning. Let her actually gasp for breath instead of telling us that’s what she did. Show us her fear. Showing makes the situation more real and will pull the reader in quicker.

  4. Love this~ great job establishing both the character and a conflict. There's no way I wouldn't turn the page!

  5. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of books that open with the main character waking up, so when I read the first sentence, my eyes started to glaze over a bit. I'll give this one a pass, though, as there's a good reason for it that might not be accomplished another way. I might suggest changing the first sentence, as it does come across as cliched.

    Also, cut out the repetition in the second paragraph. There's no reason "terrible gift" needs to be there twice. It just bogs the flow of the sentence down and seems like a typo.

    I do like the concept, her trying to figure out which family member is in trouble. But dialogue of the last two paragraphs feels a bit hokey.

    So while I see potential, there's enough that needs work that I wouldn't request to see more.

  6. I found the information about her terrible gift to be very telling. I would prefer to have this information built in while she checks on her family, rather than as an info dump in the first two paragraphs.

  7. Interesting concept, but I agree with the others' suggestions.