Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Secret Agent #48

GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

A chisel, a hammer, a wrench. A sander, a drill, a power saw. A laser, a heat gun, a flaming torch. Nothing cuts through the bangle. Nothing I conjure even makes a scratch.

I had to try, just to be sure. But the silver bangle encircling my wrist can’t be removed. It was smart of my mother to secure it in the middle of the night while I was asleep, unable to protest.

Though my Jinn ancestry means magic has always been inside me, the rules don’t allow me to begin drawing upon it until the day I turn sixteen. The day I receive my silver bangle. The day I officially become a genie. Today.

I slam my newly acquired accessory against my bedroom closet, leaving a rounded indent on the wood door. The pristine, gleaming metal mocks me. For the rest of my life, I’ll go where I’m told, perform on command, and do it all without question.

Screw that.

Barefooted, I can’t kick the pile of tools without impaling myself. I settle for shoving the saw and catch a reflection of myself in the blade. Right, how could I forget? I race to my bathroom and fling open the door. At the mirror, I inspect all the ways my body has been altered while my mind was unable to resist.

Unlike the human world in which we live, sixteen is the age when we Jinn become adults and our indentured servitude to the Afrit who rule over our Jinn world begins.


  1. Ooooo! I love this. I don't think a story has been done from the genie's perspective before. Maybe it has, IDK. But I love the twist anyway. And the fact he's a rebellious genie is even better. Sounds like a fascinating tale.

  2. I really like this. I don't think I've seen this particular angle for a YA yet as far as writing about genies. I love that he is reluctant, that you're giving us a peek into the mythology here with them not becoming Jinn until 16.

    There's enough here that I'd read on, absolutely.

  3. I love the concept here. You start us with some good action and I love the MC's rebellious attitude. The only tiny critique I would have is the last paragraph, which reads like info dump to me; doesn't seem like something your MC would be thinking. Is there another way to reveal the history of the Jinn to us? Through later dialogue maybe?

    Either way, I'd keep reading :)

  4. I agree with the others. I've seen other bits of this before, and I like what you've done with it. I notice that the other commenters think the MC is male - I thought female (was it mentioned in a previous version?). You might want to make it more obvious.

    Also, I can see you're setting up a "description of the MC while s/he looks in the mirror" scene, which has (unfortunately) become cliche.

    I think you've done some great work on this. Good luck.

  5. Last line needs a comma after Afrit and world. I read it a couple times and can be clarified with the commas.

    I like the story and I am intrigued to find out more about this mc and what she plans to do. I think the writing is solid and flows well.

    One sentence, about the way she physically changed, needed to show me how she changed. Yes, the old show don't tell advice.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  6. Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold)January 16, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    If only we had 260 words. The next sentence explains how Jinn bodies are altered when they receive their powers, and you know it's a girl as well!

  7. I'm a big fan of the idea behind this story. What are the changes!?!?!?!? I really loved the opening with all the tools. It caught my attention. The one thing I questioned was how she used those tools to break the bracelet she couldn't get off of her arm. If she can't kick the tools without getting hurt, how can she blow torch a bangle on her arm without getting hurt? Something to think about and maybe clarify. Great work! I'll keep my eye on this one!

  8. This is the first I've seen this. It is interesting with world set up and voice. The listing of the tools went on a little long for me, but I like the two sentences after.

    You mention wanting ten more words, so we can see the changes, etc. I think you can find them in the second-to-last paragraph. I wonder if you can't even get rid of that para altogether. i don't care if she is barefoot or if catching a glimpse of her reflection makes her run to the bathroom. I think you can accomplish this better than through a mirror.

    Otherwise, tight writing, good voice and an interesting premise.

  9. I love the premise!
    If she was able to conjure the items why did she want to kick them out of the way? Couldn't she just make them disappear again? Or was it just that she wanted to kick something? Just curious.

  10. Great beginning to the story. I really like this one and would read to see what happens next. In the next to the last paragraph it would help to show some of the ways her body has been altered. Otherwise, great job. Good luck!

  11. I assumed it was a female MC just because of the genre (terrible, I know) but I realised reading the comments that I was assuming. But I can't see an easy way to work that in gracefully in a first-person scene where the character is alone either. Really, 250 words isn't much, I don't think it's a killer to have to wait till the 260th word. :p Besides, if this were a book on the bookshelf I'd already know the name and sex of the character from the blurb. So I don't think it's a problem.

    Love the premise. I was wondering whether the mother was also a Jinn but that would keep me reading. :)

  12. I really like this and would read on. But I think you could cut the third paragraph, and even the last one too. It's clear from the fact that your character has conjured tools that she is magical and I like the idea of leaving some mystery as to why her mother has put a silver bangle on her and why her body has changed overnight.

  13. I loved your voice with this and was immediately interested in the story. One problem I had, and it's not a biggie, is the listing of tools at the beginning-could it be condensed somehow? Just a thought, but nicely done!

  14. I want to know what the changes are too! I loved the voice and would read on.

  15. I love this-- very original take on y/a fantasy-- I don't think I've read any about Jinn yet. I like the tone, the way it begins in the middle of the actions and the narrator's frustration. I'm curious what happens next.

  16. The entire thing is told. Perhaps start with 'showing' her trying to get the bangle off. Show her trying to saw it, burn it, whatever, instead of telling us. And who is she talking to? Who is she explaining things to? She's in the room alone. You're talking to the reader instead of letting the story happen

  17. I had to chuckle at Lanette's comment, because I'm actually working on a story from the genie's POV too (dont worry author, our stories are totally different, mine's MG for starters).

    I liked the first para with the list of tools. Different, and ceetainly catchy. The short sentences give it a sense of urgency. And I loved the "screw that". Succinct and very appropriate.

    I'd read on.

  18. This rocks...Screw that- love it! Well paced, good description/intro. Way to go...of course that last paragraph leads somewhere, I might just suggest tidying it up a bit.

  19. WOW this is such a great intro!!!

    Everybody else has said it but looking back I noticed your use of "conjured" in the first paragraph. At first I brushed over it as a metaphor but now I see that the MC could have actually done that. So cool!

    Also, indentured servitude...doesn't that imply that after so many years our MC will be free? Yet earlier they say "for the rest of my life"? Perhaps you could eliminate the conflicting implications so as to eliminate confusion.

  20. I love this new take on the Jinn world. I love the personality of the MC – the anti-Jinn!. Great voice, great way to bring us into the story. I am hooked!

  21. Oh my, am I ever hooked!

    You have a couple of really compelling elements here--teenage genie coming into his powers, rebellious attitude, but also a sort of defiant helplessness. And the fact that his mother is in on it was even more intriguing.

    The third sentence was a tiny bit distracting--I think you had enough examples by then to make your point, and mentally I was ready to find out what those tools were applied to. Other than that, it was smooth reading for me.

    I would absolutely keep reading this.

  22. Forgive me if this is forward, but are you/were you looking for critique partners? I didn't get a chance to go through all the crit dating service posts, so I don't know if you had been looking or not. But would you be interested in exchanging info? I write YA SF and you can find my contact info at

    Again, really enjoyed this excerpt :)


  23. I like all the questions you've raised here! I agree that some of the explanations could be cut because her actions explain that enough (which is difficult to do, so great job!).

  24. Cool premise--I only know of jinns/djinns from TV's Supernatural... :) The writing is strong and the introduction is compelling. Love it!

  25. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments. This has been a terrific experience and I am grateful to have had the chance to receive so much feedback!