Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Broken Beyond The Meadow
GENRE: YA Historical Fiction

Closing my eyes, I could hear my mother saying, “Just pray, Clara. Pray, and it will all work out."

Maybe this time she’d be right.

There was no light in the sky when I made my way over the familiar stones to the Dunlap’s wagons. The newly-covered prairie schooners were near the family's barn, but my heart pounded like a drum in my ears. The air was thick with the promise of rain, pressing my best cloak against my cotton dress, sticking it to my skin.

Dear Lord, please don’t let them send me back.

A light swung near one of the wagons. Catching my breath, I froze in the middle of the damp grass. The silhouette waved, the light going at the same frantic pace. With a relieved sigh, I recognized my best friend Nancy.

I quickened my steps, holding my bundle of one extra dress, a blanket, and a likeness of my parents. I hoped fear didn’t show on my face. This had been Nancy’s idea, but now I felt courage draining out of me.

“This isn’t a good idea,” I said in a low whisper, just a foot from Nancy. “I should stay—“

“We aren’t doing this again, Clara.” She lowered the light near my face. “Do you want to see the West and have a real adventure, or do you want to stay here taking care of your ungrateful aunt and uncle for the rest of your life?”

I bit my lip. “This better work.”


  1. Love what I'm seeing of your premise so far. I already feel for Clara, I like that you're showing us her relationship with Nancy and hinting about her love for her (presumably dead?) parents. You've covered a lot of essential ground here. But I feel like the first two lines aren't really grabbing me for an opening. I think starting with "There was no light in the sky" would ground readers a bit more, and then maybe you could loop back to the line about praying a bit later. That aside, this is beautifully written and just my kind of book :)

  2. I love this a lot too. A pioneer kid hitchhiking in a covered wagon? YES PLEASE.

    My main question would be since this is your opening and obviously leading to some really good stuff-- do you need to mention what she's carrying? Maybe that could go some place later and you could build the tension up more or vaguely mention how she's clutching her bundle and tell us whats in it later?

    But otherwise, YAY! I'd read this!

  3. I really like this. Your writing drew me in right away and I felt invested in Clara immediately. My one comment is that perhaps you could move the first two paragraphs lower down in the section. I think the first two paragraphs would make a great opening, and then mention her mother and prayers later. You could even end on the "Maybe this time she'd be right." Oh, I just realized this is what Nicole commented! Well I think it would be an effective change :)

  4. Oops, I meant the SECOND two paragraphs (the third and fourth paragraphs) would make a great opening!

  5. I absolutely LOVE this premise. You've done a great job of putting me right into the time period with both your language and her internal monologue. Just your description of her cotton dress sticking to her evokes such a clear image! One thing to watch out for is filter words, such as "I hoped," "I recognized," "I felt," etc. These words distance the reader from your MC. Try to rework the sentences with filters to cut them out. For instance, instead of saying "I felt the courage draining out of me," you could just say "the courage drained out of me." Great job and good luck with this! I would keep reading - I love adventure stories and the frontier!

  6. I love historical fiction and love this piece. So many things that you have done right: details to set the time period, dialogue to show something about the character's background, faith, determination, desperation; use of five senses to deepen my sense of the setting. I agree with previous comment that I might start with descriptive par number 3 and then the mother's words and her prayer. But I would definitely love to read more.

  7. You did a really nice job here! By the end of this selection, I have a clear sense of your characters, the time period, what Clara's goal is, and the life she's leaving behind. You managed to pack in a lot of information without making it seem forced. In fact, it felt incredibly organic. Plus, who doesn't love stories about prairie girls heading west in covered wagons?