Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Secret Agent #27

TITLE: Divination
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Riches, love, and death. That’s all they cared to hear about. All anyone wanted from my tarot cards and me. No matter where our caravan traveled, the townspeople came in droves, traipsing through the wilderness to our shoddy camps, desperate to have their fortunes told. Like a swarm of angry bees, they’d buzz in and out our vardos, tossing fistfuls of pennies in our hats, hoping to learn the secrets of life, as they called them.

I called them falsehoods. Dirty, little lies. But, perhaps, I was too blunt.

“Tell me, Madam Taliya, why am I not rich?” they would ask me. Or: “How can I make her fall in love with me?” Or: “When and where will I die?”

Riches, love, and death. Always in that order.

Foolish gaujos.

But I wasn’t above making a dime, and I certainly wasn’t going to tell them the truth— that the cards were just a guideline, a prediction of events should their course not change. That wasn’t what the customers wanted to hear. Wasn’t what they were paying for. No one wanted to be told they were poor ‘cause they were a worthless drunk. Or that they would never find love ‘cause they had an insufferable personality— one they likely inherited from their equally insufferable mother. That implied a portion of the bad luck was their own doing, their own fault, and worse yet still, that they could change it.

Change. Such a filthy, rotten word. I learned never to mention it ‘cause change sounded hard.


  1. Oof, right aff the bat I'm curious about the main character. She seems really angry and spiteful and I wonder why.
    I'd definetely be interested i reading more, even just to find out why she's so 'blunt.'

  2. Riches. Love. Death. Love the pattern of words, which I am assuming will continue throughout the story. I'm interested in how this becomes fantasy, although I'd guess it has to do with seeing into the future.

    Definitely something I want to read more of!

  3. Definitely interested in the MC you've got here. I like her and how blunt she is. It's refreshing. Good job! I'd definitely read on!

  4. This reads like an adult novel. Don't think a teen is a Madam. Suggest starting with the tarot cards and bit of the conflict.

    Great idea though, and love the MC.

  5. Can't remember where I saw this before, but I remembered it, and I still love it! Your MC seems to have a mature voice, but it works. Good luck!

  6. I will agree that the voice sounds too mature to be Young Adult, but I do love the depth of the main character. Have you considered moving this up to New Adult? I also feel that the opening scene would benefit from an actual interaction between Taliya and her client, rather than the ambiguous "... they would ask me." Then her emotional response would be grounded by action/reaction. Love the opening line.

  7. Would definitely read more, and I was ok with the voice sounding a little mature, given her circumstances. But I did pause at the word Madam.

  8. I would agree, the voice doesn't sound like YA, too mature or something, but the character is interesting so I would probably read on to see what happens next

  9. While I like the voice here, this opening is a long commentary about others, as opposed to a description of what is actually happening *right now*. I was waiting for you to jump into something like, 'I knew the guy walking towards me now would be no different...' but it never came.

    I would personally prefer a novel that got to the present action at least halfway through the first page. Otherwise I start thinking, 'All right, enough social commentary, get on with it."

  10. I think it is well written and I would read on because the voice is great.

  11. All right you got me. I want to read more.

  12. Great introduction to a different culture! The only changes I’d suggest are: Delete “That’s all they cared to hear about” and just say “That’s all anyone wanted from my tarot cards and me” and say “they ask” instead of “they would ask me.”

    The rest is wonderfully written! I’m willing to wait on the immediate action, provided it’s on the next page, but maybe YA readers want it sooner. It does sound like an “older” voice.

  13. This is a very compelling opening, but you're relying too much on exposition. I'd suggest you get into some action after the line "Foolish gaujos." Show us an example of how/why she feels contempt for these people! Then you can get into more of her explanation later--just break it up to make the storytelling more dynamic.

    Nitpick note: the customers calling her "madam" makes her seem older than a YA character. A simple line of explanation would help establish her age, or her annoyance at being mistaken for being older.

  14. Those people? Gaujos are us. :) The MC is Romani. BTW, aren't fortune tellers at any age called madams?

    BTW, I'm not the author, but I recognize the term.