Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #25

TITLE: Discord
GENRE: YA Paranormal

The ocean is restless tonight—waiting for another sacrifice. My eyes stay glued to a spot about thirty feet out. I know whose bones lie beneath that turbulent surface, deep down amongst the rocks, even if no one else does.

Sometimes when I’m sitting by my window like this, staring into the Atlantic, my heart aches for home. For Croatia, where I would lull myself to sleep at night looking out my open window and across the Adriatic—waters that look like a blanket of snow at sunset.

We lived there for nearly ten years. It was home. And we were happy.

I unlock my arms from around my knees and fold myself off my bed. The darkness of the house surrounds me as I move downstairs, the carpet silent under my feet. I pass by the living room, still illuminated by the flickering light of the television. Dad sags in the recliner I never see him leave, though he must. Sometimes his clothes are different. I pause in the archway.

“Dad, did you eat dinner?”

He lets out a breath that could only be some kind of attempt at a grunt and holds up a half-eaten bowl of popcorn.

“Popcorn isn’t food, Dad.”

His eyes don’t leave the television. I shuffle off to the kitchen to make him a sandwich. He hasn’t spoken a word since he scattered my mother’s ashes into the ocean three years ago. He just sits in that chair, in that always dark room, mindlessly staring at the television.


  1. You had me at the first sentence! I have so many questions, but in a GOOD way, like how does she know whose bones are in the ocean? And the situation with her dad is awfully sad. We see her taking care of him here, and I wonder if she's ever frustrated by that.
    I just read it again, looking for nitpicks so that I can feel helpful...What about looking for some different sensory imagery to use when she gets out of bed to move downstairs? The house/situation feels generic, other than the ocean view, and maybe something different could spark even more interest? But honestly, this feels pretty solid to me.

  2. This was a very good opening.

    I liked the imagery and the emotion that I sensed from the first sentence. I liked her mention of missing Croatia and her sense of longing for it.

    I also liked how I got a glimpse of her relationship with her father. You were able to show both her family situation and the history of her mother passing away with very few words while still evoking a sadness from the scene. Well done.

  3. I don't know if you mean it or not, but you've imbued this 250 with a subtle darkness. From what I'm reading, I expect to have lots of darkness. If that was your intent, Well Done. (if not, that's something to look for in revision).

    What I like is how you describe the world. Yes, there is a lot of background, but there's a sort of tension building up from all the loss of the past. Well done, and good luck.

  4. I liked this, but it sounded very familiar. There was a mermaid book I read many years ago that starts almost exactly like this. Not that being similar is good or bad, just saying.

    As it is, I like the opening. It seems haunting. But I wondered if you mean the mom was the one she though of when she said she knows whose bones are out there. If mom was cremated and her ashes tossed out there, there wouldn't be bones. unless there is someone else out there, which is intriguing...

  5. This. Is. Awesome. I love it. I love your writing. I love your MC already. I don't really know what it's about yet, but I don't care. I want to read more and more and more!

    The only sentence that caught me was the one where her dad lets out a breath that's supposed to be a grunt. That seemed a bit much for me -- I would've been fine with him just holding out the popcorn without the whole breath thing.

    This is beautiful and I wish you so much luck!

  6. I liked the voice here and haven’t seen a YA novel set in Croatia (though they aren’t there at this point in the story, I hope they go back), so that looks really interesting to me. A few thing give me pause: that she never sees her father move, yet he does – if they live together, it seems like she might have seen him move at some point over the course of three years? Three years is also a very long time for someone not to speak. So, I’m not feeling sure of this character yet – perhaps she’s just prone to some exaggeration, or these things are in fact true, or she’s unreliable. I’d make sure you’re giving the reader just the right sense of your MC in this opening.