Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #20

TITLE: The Serenity Killer
GENRE: YA psychological thriller

I will die in seventy-eight years, three months, and two days, surrounded by people I love. At least I assume I love them. I haven’t met them yet, so it’s hard to say for sure, but I do know that ninety-four years is a long time to live. Not everyone is this lucky. In fact, most people are not.

“Haley,” my mom says as she sets a glass of orange juice down in front of me. “Have you heard a single word I’ve said to you?”

With wide eyes, I glance up. “Um…” This is the part where I should continue talking, but I know I won’t win any points by telling her I was pondering my own mortality. Like most people, my mom tends to frown upon the discussion of death before breakfast, so I say nothing as usual.

She narrows her eyes and stares at me as if she’s trying to access my mind. “What’s going on with you?”

Well, for starters, I’m a freak, but since this answer is also among the taboo subjects of breakfast table topics, I opt for action instead of words. I roll my eyes at her. This seems kinder than telling her I witness her death almost every day. At least, it’s kinder to me, because I want to discuss her death even less than I want to see it. And, because no righteous deed goes unpunished, my silence elicits one of her award winning sighs.


  1. Your voice is spot on. Love the humor. The prose is seamless. Definitely want to read the rest of this. I wish the bot would've have let all these awesome entries in. I'm not going to have a chance! :)

  2. I also like the voice here. I'm curious how she knows her death date, and would read on to find out. It did make me think paranormal or sci-fi rather than thriller, but I'm possibly over-thinking! I'm also curious how she witnesses death every day and her mother doesn't know.

    While the writing is sufficient, there is a cliche slant to this opening; it's not as obvious as waking up and looking in the mirror, but I've seen a lot of YA contemporaries begin with getting breakfast and starting the day. Just something to consider regarding crafting a dynamic opening. If there is another spot that might show character interaction that is a little more engaging than kitchen stuff.

  3. Your voice here is excellent. The opening is great and I'm immediately hooked. I agree with previous comment about opening your story in bed and waking up. You could convey the same thing with your MC skipping breakfast and throwing attitude while she/he is on their way out the door to school or to hang out with their friends. Otherwise, I'd totally read this.

  4. Good hook with the first sentence. How does she know that she'll die at this particular time? I need to know.

    I like the previous suggestion about throwing attitude out the front door to skip the breakfast thing.

    I love that she calls herself a freak, but then the paragraph is slowed by describing her reaction to her mom before going back to why she thinks she's a freak, and then back to her reaction. Maybe keep them separate and it'll flow better.

    I'm intrigued by her visions and want to know more. Good luck!

  5. I meant: to throw attitude as she's going out the door. Sorry.

  6. Love the voice! I would definitely keep reading.

  7. A really interesting premise here - a girl who can see other people's deaths. But the telling aspect waters it down a lot. Perhaps consider showing us the vision she has of her Mom's death and how it affects her. It could make a much stronger opening than having breakfast and running off to school.

  8. I really like the voice and humor here. The writing flows nicely and pulled me right into the story. I'd read on.