Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #11

TITLE: The House on the Hill
GENRE: YA Fantasy/Romance

“We’re rolling,” Dad said as Mom untied my blindfold. Although they’d shown me some vague pictures of the new house, even given me some clues as to its location, what they really wanted was to capture my first impression on video.

My mouth fell open as I scanned the large Victorian that my real estate agent-turned-wedding-business-owner parents had just purchased. Our new home. Business. Er, home business.

Beyond a few signs of neglect, mostly just peeling paint, the rest of the house was incredible. From its covered porch to the stained glass windows leading up to a peaked spire, the white two-story was a picture of turn of the century glamour.

I pushed my rhinestone-studded cat-eye glasses up on my nose and peeked at my parents. Mom wore her Bohemian print dress and dad his over-sized khakis. Glamour. Something my parents knew nothing about.

How were they going to make this work?

“Isn’t it romantic, honey? The perfect spot for a wedding business.” My mom sighed and slipped her arm around my back. “Wait till you see the view,” Mom’s voice lowered like a movie announcer as she spun me around. She guided me across the backyard to a sloping hill covered in tall grass. Beneath the hill, the rest of the town of Seaside lay guarded by a stone lighthouse and hedged in by the Pacific Ocean.

“Remember Holly,” Dad called from behind us. “Sometimes it takes a new venture to make life an ad-venture.”


  1. Great opening page. I can tell that I am going to like her "wacky" parents and an old Victorian home is a cool setting. I would definitely read more. Good luck!

  2. Sounds like a fun read. Love the bit of humor with "glamour!" That was so YA snarky. I have two teens so I know.

  3. You really give the reader great characterization of the parents. I can visualize them so clearly, and I want to keep reading to see what else they do, not only with their business, but also to their daughter! Your description is superb!
    I know this is only 250 words, and I'm guessing this is your first page, so I think it would be good to try and give a hint of fantasy in your first page. As it is now, it reads more YA literature/fiction. Is there something creepy or out of the ordinary about the house or town that could be mentioned?
    Great start. I would definitely keep reading.

  4. Good start. Very descriptive. I wouldn't know it is fantasy if not in the genre description but since I know it is fantasy my mind is racing thinking of what role the house has to play into the story.

  5. Perhaps consider reducing some of the description of the house, and slip in a hint of the story problem. You might also get in Holly's take on the move. Does she mind the move, hate it? Is she missing old friends or looking forwatd to a fresh start? try to get in the info that is most relevant to the story.

  6. I don't think teens spend much time with their parents, and usually complain a lot about being held back. This family sounds a little too cutesy for me. Agree with Barbara about showing more of Holly's take on things.

    Good luck with this!

  7. Overall, you have a nice set up. I would watch for some repetition, and perhaps do a little rearranging to reduce it. Example, the MC internally narrates that this is a home/business, and a few paragraphs later the mom explains it in dialogue. You could move that dialogue up and replace the internal narration, then you get a more active scene and nix the repetition. Then you are also showing the scene as she's guiding the MC around, rather than the characters not doing anything and the MC narrating. I'm not sure the paragraph about their clothing choices adds enough this early in. I would suggest replacing that with more thoughts about how the MC feels about this move and how it affects HER.

    Good luck with your story!

  8. Nice set-up with potential for a lot of humor! I guess I’m the only one who wondered about the time period. “Rhinestone-studded cat-eye glasses” seems to indicate the 1950s. “Bohemian print dress” seems from the 60s (I don’t know what “over-sized khakis” indicates). “Turn of the century glamour” (needs hyphens) indicates SOME time in the 1900’s, since Victorian architecture is hardly indicative of the most recent turn of the century. (Would a teenager even think in terms of turn-of-the-century glamour?)

    Also I didn’t quite picture where everyone was. I thought they were looking at the front of the house. Then Mom spun her around so they could walk across the backyard to look at the view. When did they go into the backyard? Wouldn’t they have seen the view (the ocean anyway) while going around the house? I can totally see having weddings in the backyard though, with that view as a backdrop.

    “Remember Holly” needs a comma. I thought Dad was telling her to remember a person named Holly.

  9. I really like the way you've built the scene, described the MC, and described how she felt about her parents.

    I would have liked a little bit more reaction from the MC on the house. You've only give us one line--"How were they going to make this work?" The point of the unveiling is for Mom and Dad to see what she thinks. So what does she think? What do they think she thinks?

  10. The voice here is decent, but it would be stronger if we saw more of Holly's reactions--to the move, the house, her embarrassing parents, etc. Right now she's a bit passive, and I'd like a better sense of who our first-person narrator is.