Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #5

TITLE: The Templars: Initiation
GENRE: YA Action / Heist / Secret Society

Why had I bothered searching Queen Frumpy’s bathroom? Only toupees and grey hair die. Frickin nuts. I slammed the cabinet and fled.

Mom's voice chased me. "Bus will be here in half hour."

Operation Hottie had already been sucker punched by Aunt Gwen’s sudden trip to Paris. Too bad her convertible hadn’t stayed.

Red hair streamed behind me as I sprinted toward my sanctuary. I slipped among the ancient oaks, the sunlight dimmed to a soft glow. A canopy of trees concealed me.

The duffle bag dangled from a branch near the stream as promised. I dunked my head, then teased the heck out of my hair with styling gel and a battery operated hairdryer. The clothes could’ve been used for torture interrogations. A tank top two sizes too small. Wedgie inducing skinny jeans tucked into heeled boots. I even applied makeup, following Aunt Gwen's careful diagram. The efforts were exhausting, but I needed Tony to see me as a girl. Not another buddy he chest bumped on the basketball court, but a perfume scented girly-girl.

When I entered the kitchen, a mug crashed to the floor. Coffee splashed my mother’s housecoat. "Alex, have you been mugged?"

Dad grimaced. "Muggers don’t carry lip gloss in the forest. This debacle has Gwenie written all over it."

I scooped up my backpack and grabbed a muffin. "So what if it does?"

Dad folded his arms, muscles bulging. "Rosenbergs don’t leave the house dressed like that."

"Dressed like what?" My green eyes pierced into his matching pair.


  1. Hello there!

    I really like the voice. The personality and slight snarkiness is something I'd like to read more of.

    I would love to read more and see how it develops into a YA Heist/Secret Society novel.

    Having said that I think (first cup of coffee here!) its hair dye? Also the red hair line doesn't seem necessary there-.

    One thing for me is that she runs all the way out into a forest(?) to change her appearance. I thought she would be going straight to the bus stop instead of returning home. I'm not quite sure I understand the point of it. Couldn't she have had her transformation at home as well, if her parents were going to see it anyways?

    Hah. But the conversation with the father sounds like something from my school days!

  2. GREAT voice. You're a born YA writer, probably Middle Grade would be excellent for you, too.

    One critique from me would be not to have your first person narrator describe her appearance that way.

    When I stare at someone, I'm focused on my own emotion and what I see, not what they see. I don't think about the color of own eyes.

    I think you used those bits about the hair and eyes to tell your reader what your main character looks like. In my opinion this isn't the most affective way to do so.

    Have her stop and look in a mirror and describe what she sees quickly or have another character call her by a nickname and she can tell us she's called that because of a physical attribute, something like that. Be like a ninja about it. Stealthy.

  3. I also like the voice! I thought it was really funny when her mom asked if she'd been mugged.

    But I had a hard time following the sequence of events. She's searching Queen Frumpy's bathroom, and then suddenly she's mentioning an operation being sucker punched by Aunt Gwen--I don't know how these things connect. Then she's changing her clothes in the forest? It's a little too fast for me to follow.

    It does seem like it's going to be a really fun story, though, and that the main character will be fun to follow.

  4. First, yes, I would keep reading because the voice is engaging and it moves quickly. There's drama from the get-go.

    However, those assets would be outweighing those elements that come off as clunky. For example, the self-description (as others have said, it's not really needed, and feels shoehorned in -- let it come gradually as the plot unfolds). Also, having Queen Frumpy in the first sentence makes the main character seem younger than she appears to be by the end of the excerpt (more ten-year-old than, say, thirteen to fifteen).

  5. HI.
    Your subject is a refreshing change of pace in YA.
    I agree with the others: GREAT voice, clunky self-description, dump Queen Frumpy as a name in YA, make the sequence of events clearer.

    Good lines and great word choices.

    Inverted action: first she should sprint toward sanctuary. Next her hair streams behind her.

    Clarify, clarify, etc.

    It sucks being at the bottom of the column. ;-) Glad I read to the end.

  6. It reads a bit choppy, but I’d read more. I don’t know who Queen Frumpy is. Queen implies a woman but the toupee implies a man. And then she’s suddenly outside without ever leaving the house, so you might add a transition there. You might also add a mirror to the duffel bag since she’s applying makeup.

    I questioned if she could do all that in less than half-an-hour, but that’s probably no biggie. And perhaps give us an indication of what she looks like. Is it sleezey and trashy, or is she a girl who has no idea how to do hair and make-up and just looks overall horrible.

  7. Thanks for the great critiques! I did a bit of last minute cutting to get as much of this scene into 250 words as possible, and it looks like I cut a bit too much if I'm confusing people. Already working on putting some of the transitions back in :)

  8. There's humor here, and I like that. Voice is important! I do feel, though, that your opening sentences are a bit too clipped. Did you do some shaving to fit the word count? I also notice a misspelling in the second sentence. Don't forget to proofread!