Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #46

TITLE: Operation Witches
GENRE: MG, Contemporary

I knew Shannyn was going to lie before she opened her mouth. It was the hesitation, then the fake, toothpaste commercial smile—a look she’d perfected in the last two months since we started middle school.

“I can’t come over Friday.” She glanced back at the boys climbing off the bus. “I promised my sister I’d help at the pep club bake sale.”

My belly clenched. “We’ve been planning this night for ages.”

“We could watch India next weekend or the weekend after that.”

Unbelievable! Shannyn of all people knew that India Rodriguez couldn’t be put off.

I hurried to catch up as she started the short walk home. “Remember when Wall of Flame left the theaters? You said we’d stay up all night watching it the day the DVD was released.”

“That was last year.”

“So?” I held my breath as I jogged alongside her. She had to say “yes.” She had to come over and have a blast like we used to. Then things would go back to the way they were before middle school—when Shannyn was Shannon with an “o,” not a “y,” and we were best friends forever.

“Listen, Beth. I forgot. That’s all. Why can’t we do it another night?”

My super psychic lie detector went off again. She didn’t forget! She was trying to get out of spending the night with me. Or maybe . . . My heart did a belly flop right down to my knees. “No way! You’re going to Katelyn’s party, aren’t you?”


  1. Ugh, middle school sucks! I remember those days of being ditched!
    I enjoyed this excerpt and only had a few moments of question:

    1. Would a middle schooler say "planning this for ages?" It sounded older to me and I would have thought they'd say "forever".
    2. Is this contemporary or fantasy? I see up top it's labled Contemporary, but the "super psychic" and the title give the impression of there being fantasy elements.

    I love the paragraph that has "When she was Shannon with an 'o' and not a 'y'"

  2. Beth's voice is spectacular - really strong and relatable. My only quibble is this: I'd have appreciated some sort of explanation, however brief, of who or what India Rodriguez is. That's really it, though. I liked this a lot :)

  3. That was Great! I would definitely keep reading! You too me back to my middle school days!

  4. Very fun. I feel for her. But be careful, sounds like she could easily get whiney, (whiny?) and would not be as likable.

  5. This is a perfect example of why middle school sucks. I really like your first line. You do a great job showing us this deteriorating friendship. I was taken out of the moment when your MC mentioned India Rodriguez. I'm assuming this is the star of the movie, but it's distracting.

  6. This is a great picture of the evolution of friendships and the trauma of middle school. I really enjoyed it.

    If you could say what India was, would be helpful.

  7. Love the first paragraph and the "with an 'o,' not a 'y,'." We get a good idea of how both girls fit in their world in these first 250 words. I too was thrown off by the part about India Rodriguez. Maybe skip it and go with something like, "You said we’d stay up all night watching Wall of Flame the day the DVD was released."

  8. I totally relate to your main character right off the bat. I've so been there in middle school. This is a kind of story I would read on, purely because I sympathize with the main character. You don't have a major hook but your character could do the trick.
    I think you could make your opening sentence just a bit stronger. Try: I always knew Shannyn's lies before they left her mouth.
    I'd read on. Good job and good luck

  9. Great opening sentence! Grabbed my attention straight away. If I were you I'd work on trimming down your dialogue as you can probably say what needs to be said in less words. Add some more narrative so the reader learns about the dynamic of the friends directly - what do they look like, how do they stand etc...

  10. Ah! The joys of the elementary to middle school transition. I teach 8th grade, and you nailed the conflict faced during those years of metamorphosis. Shannyn is a great representation of those girls desperate to re-invent themselves by shedding their former images and friends. And through Beth you've shown the anger and hurt of those friends left behind. Love the opening line. Definitely had my attention right away. Great job and good luck!

  11. I just had to pop in and say I loved that first line. Lying is always an exciting set up for the story, and I could get an idea of the whole scene just from that line.