Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #10

GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy

That day my name became untrue. I could no longer be called fortunate.

I was with Papa, picking lavender, tying it in bundles for Maman’s tinctures. My frock clung to my chest from the heat and Papa’s ring hung like a stone against my neck. Only yesterday he gave it to me, slipping it off his thumb where he always wore it.

He was nearby, singing his fée song to the flowers, the barley and the wheat. He sang in their language, saying goodbye. Adieu songs.

Tomorrow he’d ride to Versailles to petition the King about the edict.

He held up a perfect stalk of lavender. “I will miss this place, Fortunée.” He nudged the bees back with his hands.

“You will return,” I said.

“If the King is merciful.”

I stared at his face, making a picture in my mind: his eyes bright with being among the plants, his arms red and shiny with sweat, his tunic and breeches caked with dust.

It’d been a fortnight since Maman and Papa had told my brother, Bertrand, and me, but still I could not quite believe he was going to leave us.

“I will not be gone long,” he said. “I am sure of it.”

I said nothing. I was thinking of the trip Maman, Bertrand, and I had ahead of us while Papa traveled to Versailles. How the three of us would stay in a cottage near Paris while Maman attended a Baroness.


  1. I like this!

    But I feel like the father contradicts himself: a fortnight ago he is reassuring them that he is sure he will not be gone long. But in the present, he seems to be more doubtful: he will return if the King is merciful. Has something changed in between?

  2. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    I love how you give a sense of place and time right away, while also creating emotional conflict. I'd definitely keep reading.

  3. I remember reading this somewhere online last year. I really like this opening, with time and setting woven in so naturally. The only suggestion I have is the opening line; the first line reads awkward to me given the word "that." We don't know yet what it's referring to, so it might read strong to name "that;" Today my name became untrue. December 12 my name became untrue. My birthday... you get it.

  4. I like the feeling of time and place in this.

    One thing confused me. The sentence, "I stared at his face, making a picture in my mind." So you mean trying to memorize his face? It sounds like she's either blind and trying to remember what he looks like or she's picturing him someplace else.

    Otherwise, I like it.

  5. Ahhh, I see. I was trying to figure out the thing about the father contradicting himself because it does seem that way. But you mean that the trip won't be long and he'll find out if he get's to stay in his home, to "return", or not. Am I reading that right?

    :) Either way I really like this! You really do incorporate the sense of time and give us a vivid picture with ease. It feels authentic, not at all strained. I'd keep reading.

  6. I thought you did a great job with this. You've created a nice voice, tone, mood, and atmosphere. You made me feel like I was really in France. ANd except for the first sentence (which I'd suggest cutting) this is an example of first person POV done right.

    I also thought there was a contradiction here, as pointed out by the first commenter. But perhaps both the MC and her father doubt he will return and are just taking turns reassuring each other? If that's the case, make it evident.

    Nicely done!

  7. Very nice opening, although I might omit the opening line, or place it elsewhere. You do a nice job with the setting, and the voice is spot on. I am hooked, and would be eager to see what happens in Versailles and in the cottage near Paris. I’d love to know what the hook of the story is.