Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Worth the Risk
GENRE: YA fiction

I hate road courses. I really hated the one I was driving right now.

The Oklahoma City Sportscar Course’s advertising called the track “the crown jewel” of Junior Circuit racing. Okay, so it looked cool on their billboards. Picture a wide asphalt track twisting between red and white striped curbing. Lush hillsides dotted with colorful tents. Spectators waving black and white checkered flags. Today, the sky arched over us like a bowl, and the wind whipped the smells of Oklahoma clay, frying potatoes, and funnel cake into my face. For a fan, at least, this track was just short of perfection.

For a driver like me—not so much.

Saying I was driving the worst race of my short career was like saying July in Oklahoma is a teensy bit warm. The closest I’d been to the front was right after race start. I drove a handful of laps in eighth, two slots behind my teammate Alec Elie.

Alec soon left me eating his dust, and I’d been losing ground so fast I might’ve been driving in reverse. I was now fifteen cars back, according to my brother Rick’s terse commentary on our two way radio. Worse, race leader Taylor McAllister was dangerously close to putting me a lap down. Just staying fifteenth each time around felt like a major victory.

Smoke puffed from the tires of the yellow car I’d been following for the past few laps as he swerved into the nearly 180 degree Carousel Turn.


  1. We know one thing about the MC-- he/she is a race car driver. I recently looked in B&N for racing novels for teens, and I couldn't find any, so that's good for you. What would be even better if your MC is female, but we don't know that right now.

  2. I'm intrigued by this, always have been a race fan, the action is great and you do a great job of introducting the story.

    I'd read on!

    Like the previous comment, I'd kind of like this even more if the MC is a female. It's rare enough to really make it stand out.

  3. Just Another YA AuthorJanuary 16, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    I don't think I would read something like this, but it's a good start.

  4. I'm guessing this is YA contemporary? I like the setting and I think the unique angle of race car driving is a definite plus. I agree with the other commenter, if this is a female MC it would be so cool (like Catching Jordan). I'm curious why the first line is hating road courses, and I don't see that explained. Is it the type of course? I'm note well versed enough in race cars to know if it's just the course the MC hates or racing in general. Just pointing this out that a different first line may better serve the story. Other than that, good luck with this unique premise. I'd love to see a query on this to know what the MC's struggle is.

  5. I see a real contrast in comments from whether a MC is male or female and I thinkit is worthy of note. I am a black woman who is no stranger to being left out of popular culture but I thought we had got beyond all that. Now, it seems in this particular genre of literature (YA) that women as a gender need to show their dominance over men. This is not what we fought for all these years girls! What we wanted was equal representation not supplantation - i.e. as women and females we broght a totally new way of thinking that should have been celebrated. But, this has not happened and women are laregely to blame. INstead of new ways of thinking all we have is women who have taken the places of men and repeated the same nonsensincal things they did - i.e. Catniss, Lizbeth Salander, (whoever the girl is in that odious NBC series REVOLUTION, etc.
    The poijt as srtong females was not to show men we could take their place and do the same things they did but to take their place and show we had another way of thinking,,,of being...that is what makes us strong females....not just saying well we can do everything the boys can do...but that we can do it better! IN stead, what we have is just us taking the placeof Rambo with Rambette......oh so disappoinitng!

  6. I thought you could do a whole lot more with this opening. He's (or she's) driving a race car and you don't show any of it. Where is the roar of the engine, the sweat under the helmet, the smell of rubber? Why not show him actually driving the car, trying to pass the other drivers, falling behind. Let us hear his brother's voice on the radio. Show his frustration. All the MC does here is chat with the reader (who does not exist for him.) Put him in the race and let him drive.

  7. I really enjoyed the narrator's voice. I'm not into racing, and this doesn't sound like something I'd pick up and read, but the voice kept me interested, so I read the entire thing and was intrigued.

  8. First of all, I would like some clue as to whether this is a male or female POV, as a female race car driver would be fresh. However, this opening is all telling. I agree with Barbara that there is so much room for sensory showing of the track, rather than telling us about it. I also agree with the comments that you tell us that the MC hates road courses. As opposed to what? Why? I’d also like to see this in present tense, which would make it feel much more immediate and exciting. Interesting concept, but I’m not hooked.