Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Once and Forever Magic
GENRE: MG contemporary fantasy

The hint of a whisper.

At first, Elena thought it might be trees sighing or a faucet turned on somewhere else in the house. But there was an eeriness about it that made her look up and listen. The sound grew louder, as if coming through a long tunnel. Then it burst out, filling the room.


Elena almost dropped the empty pickle jar she was preparing for a science experiment. Her knees wobbled, and she leaned against the kitchen counter.

El-e-naaaaaa…” The whisper swirled around her.

Then it was gone.

She ran to the window and nudged aside the white lace curtains. On the lawn, her ten-year-old brother Connor was tossing a plastic bag in the air and attacking it with a stick.

“For the king!” Connor cried, slashing at his flimsy opponent. “Victory is ours!”

“Did you call me?” Elena shouted.

“No.” Connor impaled the bag.

“Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

Elena glanced at the woods beyond Gram’s yard. Not even a squirrel stirred. She turned toward the long, dirt drive that wound up from the road. Gram’s car was still gone. They were alone.

She crossed the kitchen and peeked out the swinging door to the living room. The solid stuffed chairs and mahogany tables sat undisturbed. Only the familiar tick-tick-tick of the grandfather clock broke the stillness. Elena breathed in the smell of old books and fireplace ashes, forcing her shoulders to relax. See? It’s nothing.

Unclenching her fists, she returned to her experiment.


  1. This is very good. I love the description of the sound: "trees sighing," "faucet running," "through a long tunnel," and then "bursting out." I can hear it. Very creepy. Well done!

    I love what the brother is doing. Very realistic (and cute).

    If I were her, I'm not sure I'd be able to relax so easily. Especially with no grown-ups around. You might have her come up with some explanation to convince herself like, The fireplace flue must be open. It must've been the wind. Or something concrete to blame it on since you used such powerful imagery that it can't be brushed off as nothing. (Just my opinion.)

    Great job! Good luck with it!

  2. Nice voice and I like the immediate tension. 'Peeked out the swinging door' seemed a little awkward.

    Good luck with your project!

  3. I loved much of this. I just felt like she'd need a reason to relax, something that could explain away the noise. But...maybe I'm just a nervous Nellie.

  4. Some great descriptions here, and a deliciously creepy mood! The only thing I wonder (and this could just be personal preference) is whether you might consider starting earlier, when things are "normal", so I have a better sense of where Elena is and what her world is like. But that could just be me... ;)

  5. Sounds cute to me! Love the mysteriousness of it.

  6. Excellent. Love the start--except for the word 'eeriness'
    That felt like telling to me.

    I'm not sure about the 'hear that' Since the sound is no longer audible why would Connor know what she's talking about. I would if 'hear anything weird' and he respond with 'Like what?' -- but that's being nitpicky.

    I'm also not sure about the unclenching since her shoulders have already relaxed.

    Either way though, it's a great setup for your story.

  7. I like the title and the first paragraph.

    With the voice whispering her name I lose a bit of interest, simply because it feels like a cliche. I'd really like it if the voice whispered something odd instead of her name.

    In the end I'm not hooked by this even though the writing is fine and the story makes sense. I don't have a strong enough interest in the character or her problem. Hard to drag someone in with so few words. The trick is to give the character a way of looking at things or a voice that surprises me and makes me think I'd like to get to know her better.

    Maybe slow down a tad and give me a glimpse of her life and her mindset before she hears the whisper calling her name.

  8. OK, you have me intrigued. I like this opening scene because of the tension you create. I don't know the character yet, but the fact that she and her brother are alone is enough to make me care. And throughout the scene I learn more about Elena--stuff that makes me like her. She's not over-reacting; she's working on her experiment on her own, so she's conscientious; she's being cared for by her grandmother, so she might have a single parent who is working or absent parents.

    I'd keep reading just to find out what called her, but I think you're creating a character I'll want to follow.