Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #19

TITLE: The Lady Caller
GENRE: historical romance (steampunk)

Tinsmouth, Devon, 1870


Vera froze the instant she heard his voice. No one had called her by her real name in ten years – and no one else's voice had ever caused her mouth to go dry quite like his did. Once upon a time she would have sworn she’d never forget him, or the sound of his voice, but spending the last decade in London must have ground down her brain. The memories rushed back. Even now, with her old home so close she could taste the raw tang of tin in the air, Cole’s voice had the power to turn her mouth to dust.

Vera squinted down the tunnel, but the faint starlight filtering into the tunnel’s mouth was coming from behind her and she could just barely make out his silhouette. He hadn’t changed that much – still those massive shoulders, that purposeful gait. Had he always been so menacing?

She took a deep breath and tried to will the sudden tension out of her system. Somehow, in all the time she’d spent dreaming of this homecoming, she had managed to convince herself she was ready to face Cole again. She couldn’t afford to be wrong.

Cole stopped, close enough for Vera to make out the shock on his face. He was looking beyond her, up the tunnel to the gaping hole in the once-solid wall which had protected the town of Tinsmouth from the outside world for the last quarter-century.


  1. I'm sorry but much of this passage is back story or telling.

    Consider simply getting us into the action. Tell us where Vera is and what she is doing. Frankly, the gaping hole in the tunnel is more interesting as an opening than her former relationship with Cole at this point in the story. Much of their background and how she feels about him would be better placed as her private thoughts once they get talking.

  2. I agree with Margot that exposition at the beginning is a tough sell, but I think your smooth writing and authentic voice make up for it. And you're doing a good job of keeping it brief. And that teaser with the wall separating the town from the world; awesome! I'd definitely read on.

  3. The last paragraph is what really grabs me. I wonder if it might be better to start with that, then get in some of the MC's feelings. Maybe even just rearranging the order of your paragraphs, maybe cutting down a bit on the back story, would work(?)
    But that last paragraph...great! :-)

  4. I don't mind the slower pacing here, though the others do make a good point that this feels weighed down a bit. Maybe cut the paragraphs starting with "Vera squinted" and "She took a deep breath," and move right to Cole interacting with her. Those other observations can be woven in once they have some dialogue.

  5. I think this is probably a good place to start. The issue, I think, is that you're not allowing the story to happen. You keep stopping it to get in back story, which kills the pacing.

    --Vera froze (the instant she heard his voice.) Cut this. It's all implied.

    --No one had called her by her real name in ten years – and ONLY Cole’s voice had the power to turn her mouth to dust. (You could cut the rest of Parg 2)

    You could also cut all of pargs 3-4 and replace them with a line or two of him approaching her and her reaction to seeing him, then she sees the look of shock on his face and turns and sees the hole. Because that hole, it seems, is your hook, although it isn't clear (to me) if it's something new that neither of them were aware of, or if it's been there a while and only new to cole.

  6. I'm really intrigued by this setting, and I like that we meet Cole right up front. The pacing didn't bother me here, but there is a lot of backstory. I'd continue reading for a bit to see how their past affects their interaction here in the tunnel. (And also to find out more about this tunnel!)

  7. The story is very slow paced, but I find the setting interesting. I agree with some of the earlier "telling" comments. It feels weighted down and heavy until the last paragraph.