Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #8

TITLE: The Secret at Seachase
GENRE: MG Mystery

I don’t need a giggling bunch of high-school girls in mix-and-match bikinis to tell me I look silly.

They think we’re dumb kids. They don’t even know that this long-handled duster-looking thing I’m pointing at the Gulf is a special microphone that blocks the howling wind noise. We’re using professional stuff, and going for a three-thousand dollar prize, and that’s worth a whole bunch of weird stares.

Megan shoos them away from our movie set.

Alyssa pretends not to notice. She keeps her dad’s camera focused on her big brother, who’s floating on his long board just past the breakers.

The perfect wave builds, lifting Justin and his board. He catches the surge and pops to his feet, riding ahead of the white crest, all the way to the froth.

“What’s next?” I ask.

Director Alyssa squints at the sun, then shouts to Justin, “One more.” To me and Megan, she says, “We have to be sure we’ve got it. In My America, everything has to be perfect.”

That’s when I realize what’s wrong. “Where’d Madog go?”

Alyssa shrugs.

Megan glances toward the village. “Don’t worry, Ellie. He’ll come back.”

“If he were a grown up dog, maybe.” I toss the fake-fur covered microphone at Megan and take off before she can say anything.

I run as hard as I can, but my legs are zingy. I have to find my puppy before something bad happens.




Even a barrier island like Maydock can be dangerous.


  1. This is sweet. I enjoyed the voice - it felt MG right away. However, I thought I was reading from a boy's POV, and not a girl until her name was called.

    I do wonder how old Justin is, though, to be an adept surfer - or how long he's been surfing. Honestly not super relevant to the story right this moment, more just reader curiosity.

    I don't usually like present tense POV, and I didn't even notice it here. THAT is the best compliiment I can give.

  2. I like the voice of this. I also appreciate the sense of urgency when she realizes the dog is missing. All the stuff about winning a prize with her friends disappears from her mind immediately, which shows us where her real priorities are. And those priorities are ones we can sympathize with, so they make her relatable and likable. Well done.

  3. Nice job! The paragraph describing Justin surfing is nice and tight. Strong MG voice. Good tension at the end.

    "a giggling bunch of high-school girls" sounds like what someone older would think, not younger. Maybe: "a snooty bunch of high-school girls to make me feel silly."

    "Alyssa pretends not to notice" right after "Megan shoos them away" made me think Alyssa was one of the high school girls.

    “What’s next?” I ask. Maybe add "...after Alyssa stops filming."

    "Director Alyssa" is awkward. Maybe say, "Alyssa, the director of our little indie documentary, pretends not to notice" in the fourth paragraph. That solves the problem of confusing her with one of the teenage girls, too.

    "That’s when I realize SOMETHING’s wrong" might sound more accurate.

    The fake-fur-covered microphone stopped me. Could put that in the first description of the microphone (special fake-fur-covered microphone that blocks the howling wind noise).

    Madog, Megan, Maydock--too similar.

  4. Jacqueline YeagerMay 14, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    I think this is a fun premise. I like the idea of a bunch of middle schools friends making a movie.

    I'm not sure about the voice or the first line. It sounded too old for MG. I also thought there was too much telling in the second paragraph.

    I can tell that the movie is very important to the MC (although I though she was a boy at first). I love the shift in her focus once she realizes her puppy is missing. Nicely done. I also love the description of Justin on the surf board. That was spot on!

    This needs to be tightened up a bit but it has great potential. I would keep reading. Good luck to you!

  5. Sounds like a fun read but I do think that it still needs some tightening to get it where it needs to be.

    I thought that the MC's name got lost in all the shuffle. It's almost like too many characters were introduced too quickly. I hate saying that because usually it doesn't bother me, but in this instance I actually had to go back and search for Ellie's name.

    The opening line, in my opinion, reads too old for MG. I think someone earlier mentioned it and I agree, that it sounds like something an older kid would say, not a MG'er. It makes it sound like the MC is a boy, not a girl.

    One question that I have is: why would Ellie's legs feel zingy. I didn't really understand what you were trying to convey with this line.

    Of course this is all just my opinion. I think this has great potential! Keep up the great work!

    Good Luck!

  6. Terrific flow. Nice pace and wonderful voice.

    A fun start to what looks like an engaging story...

    All the best.

  7. I liked the set-up. Making a movie is something you don't see in many MG's, and a $3000 prize is a good incentive for them to stick with it, even when the problems of the mystery start to arise.

    You might mention the puppy a bit earlier, so we know it's there. ANd it does seem to get lost too quickly. Perhaps build the movie making scene a bit more to establish characters, and then have Ellie notice the dog is missing.

  8. Love the MG voice.The video project is a fun idea for the group of friends - more focused than simply hanging out. The dialogue sounds natural and authentic; the action is lively and visual. And I love how Ellie drops everything to race off and find her missing dog -- compelling and dramatic.
    I really wanted to turn the page to find out what happens next! :-D
    Deb Mc.

  9. I liked your first sentence. That really did a good job of introducing us to the voice of the main characters. Also, I really like the premise of a bunch of middle school kids making a movie together.

    However, after that I get a bit lost. The whole thing seemed a bit disjointed and random and I don't really get a good sense of scene or what's going on.

  10. I'm hooked. Love the voice and language here.

    I don’t need a giggling bunch of high-school girls in mix-and-match bikinis to tell me I look silly.

    I agree with the other comments about tightening the first line to make it really rock.

    You also might consider cutting "They think we’re dumb kids" and jumping right to "They don’t even know that this..."
    You'll quicken the pace that way and really show how your MC feels.
    Great work!

  11. Great set-up, and I like the voice here. I'm fascinated by an MG ( and a mystery to boot!) centering around budding film-makers. Reminds me of Super 8.

    I wonder if "In My America, everything has to be perfect." feels a bit authorial? Would Alyssa need to say the name of the movie in this moment? It feels like something the author wants us to know, rather than something Alyssa really needs to *say* (they all know the title, presumably).

    I'd be interested to learn more about Ellie's relationship to Madog. It's telling that she completely abandons the shoot- which we know is important enough to be worth enduring weird stares- to run after her pup.

  12. Secret Agent, Authoress, and the rest of the MSFV community: Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Your encouraging words are priceless, and your thoughtful questions and will help me make this manuscript shine. I've learned from all the submissions. This format has been the closest experience I've had to a creative writing workshop since college. Thanks again. I'll look forward to the next time!