Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Secret Agent #13

GENRE: YA Fantasy with Romantic Elements

I had dreamt about seeing my sister many times during the past six years, but not under these circumstances; not by force. What other choice did I have? Especially since my less-than-loving mother traded the house key for a new American Express card.

She didn’t care that it was my junior year of high school, or that my drawings had finally secured membership to the Fine Art Tutorial at the Institute of Art. Her immediate concern was my removal from the house.

I would’ve been less apprehensive about shacking-up with my sister if she’d had the decency to wait up last night. After driving south for nine hours, the welcome committee left the porch light burning and the front door unlocked. Apparently, our reunion wasn’t important.

During the drive, I had pictured the two of us lounging on overstuffed sofas, chit-chatting about life, love, and all the above. However, devastation hardened my heart when the wraparound porch was empty. I singlehandedly hauled both suitcases upstairs to a bedroom labeled Sutton with masking tape.

As I lay in this queen size bed, the realization of a new life in this unfamiliar place finally registered. I recovered yesterday’s rubber band from the nightstand—blonde hair still dangling—and twisted it around a half-knot at the nape of my neck. My nose greeted the spicy-sweet scent of hazelnut coffee drifting up the stairs, filling the space around me with an invigorating aroma. Realizing my sister must be awake, I headed downstairs to join her


  1. You've told us a lot about the situation in very little
    I've got teenager with blond hair and artistic talent. I didn't exactly get the part about exchanging a house key for an Amex card.

  2. I found the first line compelling, but the "what choice did I have?" and the line about mom muddled it for me; I'm not seeing the connection.

    I think the first line would be best followed up by either showing us a present circumstance (setting, interaction with sister, mother etc.) or a line of explanation of what meeting the sister means. The last paragraph for example, could be moved up to show the scene, and then maybe get some character interaction to show what's going on rather than explaining it all in the intro. The backstory with mom can be worked in as other things happen on the page.

  3. I think you have a really good start. This line in particular hooks me, because I don't get it - but the line is intriguing so I want to!

    "Especially since my less-than-loving mother traded the house key for a new American Express card."

    It's not the fastest start to a book but Overall, I like your MC and I'm intrigued. I definitely want to read more.

    Good luck!

  4. I thought this was a good start. What I'm getting is that we have a smart, talented girl here whose mom has maybe just sold the house, leaving her to make it on her own, so she's moved in with an older sister who perhaps isn't so thrilled to see her?

    Parg 1- What other choice did I have? means she only had one choice. Perhaps say what that choice is. Trading the key for an Amex card is vague and the reader has to guess at what you mean.

    Parg 4 - chit-chatting about life, love, and all the above. There is no 'all the above.' You've mentioned nothing but life and love. Perhaps be clearer as to what 'all the above' means.

    In the last parg. you might reconsider the sentence about her nose greeting . . . It's convoluted, and when did your nose ever greet anything? Keep it simple. Say she smelled coffee. ;-)

  5. You give a lot of information in these paragraphs, and it definitely gives me a feel for your MC quickly. I like the idea of the mom trading the house key for a new AmEx, but I think it could be a tough train to follow and would recommend a little more clarity around that line.

    I'm wondering why she and her sister haven't seen each other for six years, yet she's expecting a warm reunion. I'd love a hint of why they haven't seen each other, as I just assumed the relationship must be strained before her saying she'd pictured the lounging and chit-chat.

    I'd like to get a bit more of a feel for the house and her new room, even a couple more words. Old or new? Hideous wallpaper? The wrap-around porch is a nice touch, and I like the way you introduced Sutton's name (though does it need quotation marks?).

    This doesn't need much work from my perspective, so take all of this with a grain of salt. I'd read on without any changes. :)

    Good luck here!

  6. Really great writing! I especially liked "After driving south for nine hours, the welcome committee left the porch light burning and the front door unlocked."

    "As I lay in this queen size bed:" You switch to present tense here, which threw me. Otherwise, I really like it and would definitely read more! Nice job!

  7. Hmmm. I'm not sure if I like it or not. On one hand, I do like the matter of fact way the narrator tells us about losing her home. On the other, the whole page is mostly Tell and very little Show (something that happens to me often too when I write 1st person). I do think you're onto something here but maybe starting in the wrong place(?).

    The best sentence to start with (imho) would be "After driving south for nine hours..."

  8. Your poor main character – she isn’t faring too well in the family department. I’m a little confused on a few points. I’m not sure how her mom could trade the house for an Amex card. Even if she did, would she leave her daughter to fend for herself at such a young age? I’m not saying this couldn’t happen, just that it’s a long way from being a less-than-loving parent to getting rid of your child. We need a little more info on her mom here to make this believable. In the same vein, I needed a hint of why she hadn’t seen her sister for six years. Was it just because her sister didn’t want to see her, or can the sibling estrangement all be traced back to their mother?

    I would also recommend a quick check for passive phrases in your writing. Whenever possible, let us hear from your character directly how she is feeling.