Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #12

GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance

The scent of lilies always reminded me of her, and every month I placed fresh ones in front of the headstone. I blew out the candle I lit every visit and stared at the engraving, wishing it would disappear, that it would all just disappear.

The cemetery was small. Ray wanted something more lavish, but Mom wanted to be buried near Dad which made sense. She even planned the whole thing. What woman plans her funeral? But then again, she wasn't like anyone else I knew. No matter what happened, she always smiled and made our place a home. Home. She took that word to the grave. She was my home.

Pink tinged the sky, reminding me of the hour. A sudden breeze blew through my thin shirt and whipped frizzy curls into my face. I shuddered, blew a kiss into the wind, and walked to the only thing that still gave me joy.

I trailed my fingers along the Mustang and opened the car door. Every time I slid into the leather-bucket seat, the pounding in my head faded and then disappeared within the sound of bass pumping from the stereo. The ‘stang growled as I turned the ignition. The nearby caretaker scowled and I waved. It wasn't my fault this baby had a V8 engine.

I still needed to go to the market before it closed. A new duty I inherited after Mom passed, but I didn't mind having an excuse to stay out of the house.


  1. Lovely first line (I also like 'What woman plans her funeral?'). I get a good sense of the sadness the MC feels for the loss of her mother; I also find her easy to connect to. I would definitely keep reading :)

  2. I really got drawn in to this story. I liked all of it until you got into the car info. Which I am sure is just me because I am not really into the car scene. i wanted it to connect to the other part of the story and maybe it does later. Like it was her mom's or she used money from her mom to buy it. I wanted a connection and not a random car note. But as i said it is early in the story so there could be more coming. Over all I would read on!

  3. I don't get a sense of a hook. What is the MC's journey?

    Also, you call it a romance, but it only talks about the MC's dead mother. Maybe bring in something about romance earlier?

  4. I also was drawn in by this--YA contemporary is what I like best. In such a short excerpt, we tend to get real picky about details; it does seem like the paragraph about the car could be moved elsewhere, and we could get on with what the character is doing next, and how her mother's death is evident in her every day current life, rather than more reflecting. The final line, for example, gives us a sense of her taking over some parental duties that a kid usually wouldn't have at her age. I think you have a good start and I would keep reading. I'm sure the romance will show up, even though it's not on the first page. :)

  5. I like YA contemporary stories and I thought your beginning is good. I feel like 250 words is not enough to develop everything and I'm a patient reader, so I don't mind if everything's not set up.

    The only issue I had with the car paragraph was that it seemed like the narrator had a different voice. She sounded more gruff and almost rebellious in that paragraph and more sad and soft-spoken in the others. That might be the point, but it sounded like two different characters. Maybe just replace a few words? I didn't mind the placement of the info. It just didn't flow with the rest.

    But I'd keep reading :)

  6. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    It's a nice reflection on how the MC views her current situation, but it isn't the best way to start the story. There is no tension here or any hint of a coming conflict. I have no reason to keep reading.

  7. Though the writing is pretty and professional, I perceived no conflict or tension in this. I think the story is more literary than commercial, and that's great. I haven't read a lot of literary fiction, but the literary novels I have read were potent with style and language. I'm not sure I sense that here, but I wish you the best of luck!

  8. The beginning drew me in. I liked the MC. I felt for her. I liked your descriptions and language. And then we jump to the car, and the writing and the voice change, and it changes abruptly. It feels like a total disconnect from where I just was. The two sections are so different, the jump from one to the other is jarring.

    I think you could perhaps transition us to the car a bit more slowly, or just put the scene somewhere else.

  9. The lyrical poignancy of the first 3 paragraphs is undermined by the fourth, The justaposition of the MC's sadness about the mother's death with the gushing joy of a car takes me out of the story. Also, one small nit was the reference to "Ray" - who is that? The fourth paragraph just seems to be a "one of these things just doesn't belong" thing like on Sesame Street. It makes the MC's sadness seem shallow because at least there's a cool car to make life bearable.

  10. This is a lovely, emotional opening, but , as others have noted, the transition to the car, and, what seemed to be a very different voice, was abrupt. I also was bothered by the fact that the car (a thing) could make her happy, when she’s just told us how sad she was about her mom’s death. I think that you need a different place to open the story, and weave in her sadness about her mom as you tell the story. Unfortunately, I’m not hooked.