Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Secret Agent Contest #2

TITLE: Time and Again
GENRE: YA Contemporary

Ashley paced around the crowded living room resting her eyes on the package looming their beige kitchen counter. In hot bold black letters, it read Pemerson Lawyers. The room grew smaller as she patrolled through every corner. All the tossing and turning gave her a splitting headache but what mattered stayed inches away from her in the sealed envelope. Spiraling deeper in thoughts, she plunged into self-doubt. Could the notice be for me? Did I relapse and not remember? She hadn’t been part of any foul play at school. Maybe a few clashes with her former clan but that’s nothing worth calling the lawyers over.

Ashley's opinion held no mass in front of the Windrip Town women, they had their own sense of righteousness. The thought of being publicly called out yet again dried her throat and the urgency to know what the package held consumed her. As the flickering lights of her mother’s blue Ford Fusion beamed through the window behind her she dove at the counter.

Without thinking, she opened the carefully packed brown bundle delivered by Randol Myers, Windrip’s local postie less than an hour ago. Ashley pulled out a few pages, frantically looking for any hint as to whose ruin it dictated. She needed the whys and wherefores or maybe just a name to rule her out of danger. The doorknob clicked, and Ashley stuffed the papers back within seconds and turned to face her mother.

“Mom! You’re here.” The dry mouth didn’t let her voice out.


  1. I'm a little confused by this one. On the one hand, I think there's some great foreshadowing of the possibility of impending trouble here, so that's good. However, I think the internal monologue slows down the urgency of what is taking place.

    Ashley seems interesting, if not troubled, and I want to know what's up with her, but I think it's strange that she seems to notice her mother's car lights, and then open the package anyway.

    If I had to suggest anything, I would say to be careful of misused words. A package can loom on a counter, but not loom a counter. And I'm not sure black can be a hot color.

    Other than that, I wish I had more because 250 words is not nearly enough to evaluate a story.

    I can't wait to see what her mom says...

  2. This opens with a nice mystery as to what's in the package and why Ashley fears it has something to do with her. Also, you've worked in some info about her 'relapsing' which makes me curious as to what she could have relapsed into. And then mentioning her old 'clan', so she has a history with trouble. Good job of adding some back story without an info dump. One thing I noticed is the change in POV. The first few sentences are in 3rd POV, but switches to first mid-way through the first para. If it's Ashley's IM, I think it should be italicized (maybe it didn't transfer when you pasted it) or kept in 3rd POV. Also, I would change 'tossing and turning' to maybe 'fidgeting and pacing' or something like that, since 'tossing and turning' usually refers to sleeping.
    Otherwise, I like this opening. It has just the right amount of tension and I would keep reading. Nice job!

  3. While authors can't copyright titles, do you really want to compete with one of the great tales of all time, beloved by YA audiences if not necessarily aimed at them - Jack Finney's Time and Again.

  4. I thought tbere was a lot of good stuff here. We have a mystery package, a possibly troubled teen, a clan, town women who never bode well. So there's lots to pull me in.

    I did want to know if she saw anything on the pages she looked at, or if it was a total failure.

    The writing could be stronger, so you may want to give it some more attention. But I'd still read more.

  5. There’s something interesting brewing here, but unfortunately I left this section confused. I think part of this has to do with the language in the first paragraph where Ashley is patrolling the room, but also tossing and turning, it was difficult for me to understand what she was doing exactly and that threw me off for the rest of the section. Some interesting seeds are planted here with the hits to the envelope holding information that could ruin someone and that Ashley’s mother wouldn’t want her looking and the mention of a clan, but as I had a hard time placing myself in the moment and understand where and when I was, they didn’t hold as much sway as I would have wanted. Make sure you are hooking your reader with clear information so the they know exactly where they are and with whom, they need to be settled so that they become invested in what is happening.

  6. I thought there was way too much writing here...just have her dive into the package! All the thinking and describing just bogged everything down and I also question some word choices...that said I think there could be an interesting story coming. I think it needs maybe another edit so that it can really shine.