Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #12

TITLE: All the Time in the World
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance

Deirdre Lyttle has all the time in the world.

Sometimes, it’s a terrible burden.

They say time is a relative concept, used to push the world along, a measurement of self-worth and importance. Deirdre closes her eyes, feeling the clock at work.

April 3rd, 2029. 7:20 pm.

She has a day planner, a watch, an alarm clock, a daily routine, all tools to keep her life in order.
Except time isn’t natural. Animals don’t use planners. Trees don’t wear watches. Fish don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve. Only humans chart the days ahead, which means they alone suffer in a scheduled existence. They recognize someday, printed on a distant calendar, that their lives will unexpectedly end, and they’ll be gone.

But the question will remain: Did they make the time count?

Deirdre thinks about her mother, a woman who uses her time well. There’s rarely a moment where Michelle Lyttle hasn’t locked herself in the drafty basement, beneath the light fixtures that blink and buzz, welding panels together, so her exploratory vehicle can withstand Mars’ frigid temperatures without cracking.

Michelle says being a good engineer requires hard work and vision. You cannot be afraid to get your hands dirty, to burn the tips with a soldering iron or give yourself a jolt as you test the live wire. But to be a great engineer, you need perseverance. And time.


  1. The prose is very strong here, but the date confuses me, since you say this is contemporary fiction. Setting the story in the future makes it seem like it will be science fiction. If that isn't important to the story, you could do without the year and just say "April 3rd, 7:20 PM." I also wanted to say that I love the concept of her mother being an engineer for Mars rovers!

  2. I couldn't decide if I liked this or not. The voice is very distinct and seems somewhat robotic and distant. But it's done well. Do I want to read from that perspective for a whole novel? I don't know.

    I don't know if they are on Mars, or it's just that her mom works on vehicles that will end up there.

    I don't know anything about deirdre except that she seems obsessed with time, which may be important on this world/time/place. But then it says this is contemporary romance, yet nothing here points to that.

    Whatever it is, it's done well, and I'd keep reading if it was labelled SF. But it just feels too odd for me if it's really contemporary romance. Sorry. I just don"t know how to take it.

  3. The opening line is great. It hooks me right away, but then the next paragraphs meander. I feel like we're with Deidre at first then we're pulled out of her story in the next paragraph about animals and fish and humans. It feels distant. In the next two we're told about her mother. I think you need to stay with one theme right from the beginning and even though it's third person, you can still make it a close, intimate narration, if you stick to Deidre's story. Tell us more about Deidre, so we care about her and want to read more. Good luck!

  4. I was intrigued by all the talk of time and the uses of the natural world, but it became overused and bit boring by the time I got to her mother. Her work as an engineer is interesting and important to the story, I'm sure, but you've already crammed so much information into the first 250. I wanted something to happen, especially after the philosophy. Instead, she just sits thinking about her mother. It's well-written and I want to keep reading and get to know the character better. Some restructuring would make your first 250 a lot better.

  5. Huh. I like the way you pull the measuring of time and recording of dates out as unnatural, yet at the same time directly give the reader a date and time that this is taking place. While the idea that humans are the only ones concerned with time is not a new one, having this as the beginning immediately makes me wonder if this is going to be a novel that offers new perspectives and takeaways that reach into the reader's world. Followed by the setting and character's interaction and concern with it, as well, is just lovely. I am still curious, though, why the daughter has all the time in the world; is that literal (fantasy, and the reason it's so important to put right in the first line) or figurative (the date added adds to my fantasy speculation).

    Unfortunately, what throws me is the genre this is tagged with. Unless the 2029 is a typo, then this is clearly not contemporary. Also, when I first read the part about the vehicle withstanding Mars' temperatures, I thought you were saying that she and her mom were *on* Mars, and thus my comment about the character's motivation and the connection with setting. However, as I read through again, I realize I misinterpreted that, and she is probably on earth and her mom is an engineer making a little explorer to send to Mars. Of course, then again, if that's the case, then if she's doing so in her own basement, maybe the 2029 is not a typo, and we're again pulled away from the contemporary.

    I do like this, but I do think this beginning could be made bit clearer so there aren't so many questions right from the get-go.

    Things I liked
    • promise of perspective takeaways
    • possible engineer protagonist (we know her mom is, and it sounds like she might be learning, but that's not certain by the end of the partial)

    • genre uncertain
    • POV distant