Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Secret Agent #47

TITLE: The Culloden Immortals
GENRE: YA Romance with speculative twist

I always failed at ordinary.

Ordinary wouldn’t give me weird, freaky, come-true dreams or a scar that ached when something god-awful was about to happen. And ordinary would’ve snuggled under the warmth of my down comforter, especially on a rain-soaked Sunday. Instead, I dashed down the stairs with iPod in hand, prepared to hammer out six miles in under forty-two minutes, all the while praying the twinge in my scar was weather related.

Mom sat at the kitchen table, reddish-blonde curls boinging in all directions. She squeezed her forehead, like trying to stave off a headache. Without looking away from the paper, she handed me my phone. “Sweetheart, do us both a favor. Humor your father with a response.”

Dad’s text read: Love the hills and they’ll love you back. Before I’d finished reading his pre-workout advice, the phone chirped again. Be one with the mud.

“He's obviously bored,” I said. “Maybe he should consider buying a newspaper.”

Mom pointed to the headline of the Sports section: WMSU Football: Coach Siefert Under Fire after 23-3 Loss.

I skimmed the article implying Dad’s contract wouldn’t be renewed next year.

Tiptoeing around his potentially foul mood, I tapped out a quick reply: Got it Dad. Have a safe flight. Love your mud-loving, puddle-jumping machine.

As I tightened my ponytail, pins and needles prickled the two-inch scar between my thumb and wrist. Dr. Gruen said scar tissue after my post-snakebite surgery caused arthritis, but I’d connected the dots – my scar only hurt when a freakish incident lurked nearby.


  1. i like the opening except that right off the bat you said a scar with no description. with sacar=danger i thought of Harry Potter. that's not a good thing. perhaps put the scar info (on the wrist) earlier. but even so, i'm still afraid HP will come to mind.

    otherwise, nice writing.

  2. Interesting concept. It read a little fantasy-esque at first to me with the scar and dreams, but then moved into contemporary without batting an eyelash. Loved the exchange with her dad. You set the family scene up well.

    Would have loved to have known her name by this point but that's just a personal preference of mine. All in all, this is good. Strong sentences and verbs, great pacing. Good job!

  3. Fun entry with a likable character! Love the whole "ordinary" bit at the beginning.

    I have to say this, because I know you've probably been over the first sentence a million times, but I'm wondering if it should be either, "I've always failed at ordinary" or "I always fail at ordinary." I read it a few times because it just didn't feel quite right. Could be just me. :)

    In the third par. is there more to the text from her dad? Because we do read the whole thing...could it be "after" she'd read it?

    So the whole newspaper people read them anymore? Or should they be talking about an on-line paper?

    You might want to put a comma after "Love," because I first thought she was saying she loves his machine, rather than that she was signing off.

    I'm not sure if pins and needles can "prickle" something (as a verb). Could it just be that the scar prickles? Or the scar gets pins and needles?

    I hope these comments are helpful. A good entry, and I would read more!

  4. Yeah, I got the whole Harry Potter thing right off too. I almost think the last paragraph should be your first. Agree with above comments. Comma after Love, your mud...and have the scar tingle or the scar prickles with pins and needles. Play around with it but I think starting with the scar would be a better hook.

  5. Good opening. Your narrator comes across as a real person

    The line, "He's obviously. . . . . ." read a little strangely. Maybe "Why is he texting me now?"

    'Article that implied' rather than 'article implying'

    'surgery had caused' rather than 'surgery caused'

  6. Good start. Harry potter did come straight to my mind when I read your first paragraph and I agree with Kathleen that your last sentence would work better as your first.
    'Tiptoeing around his potentially foul mood' seems a bit long to me. Overall I liked it.

  7. Your first sentence is a winner, but I do agree that the scar immediately brings Harry to mind. Could you add that it's a semicircular scar of have her rub her hand the first time you mention it? Good luck. I also like the dynamics between your MC and her parents.

  8. The scar in the first paragraph was insta-Harry Potter for me. I love your writing, and I love the coach dad. My husband and I often talk about how hard coaching must be on the family. I would want to keep reading.

  9. I do think it's a fun intro and your character seems like a likeable one. However, personally, I find it a bit tiring to have a character that says "I always failed at ordinary." It reads like like she wants to be normal and sucks at it instead of just owning it. Again, these are just my personal preferences speaking, so feel free to ignore this part.

    Aside from that, nothing to point. Your writing flows nicely and the concept is intriguing enough that I want to read more!

  10. Great voice. You were able to give a lot of information without weighing down the story line. I love that she is an athlete and felt her tension over her dad’s potential job loss. Also felt the pressure she must feel at having her dad as a coach. I’m intrigued.

  11. What was most interesting to me here is the idea of the daughter of a university football coach; how his competitiveness might affect his daughter, how she might either reject or embrace that. I saw some glimpses of that here. The ability to predict, or know, when something bad is about to happen feels familiar, even with the snake bite. A couple things left me guessing, or felt convenient. How does her dad know that she’s about to go on a run? She mentions a newspaper and then her mother happens to be reading one. I wondered why she doesn’t assume the prickling is a harbinger of her father losing his job.