Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #2

TITLE: The Mechanical Cosmic Seed
GENRE: MG Science Fiction, A fairy tale retelling

Jackie suppressed the urge to glance at the clock a second time as she waited for the perfect moment to launch her cunning plan, and not even rolling nausea or the spaceship's bumpy descent would extinguish her drive of going through with it.

To keep her composure, she squeezed her eyes shut and released a slow breath as her brother, being a jerk as always, piloted her beloved Milky Way. Just wait—in a few minutes, his smug smile would be replaced with blood-curdling screams. Best. Sound. Ever.

She tapped her toes along with the blinking of dials desperate for her finesse. Piloting Milky Way came to her like second nature, and yet, without her behind the wheel, all she could do was bide her time and buff the fingerprints from the dash until just the right moment. Malik and Mom didn’t honor the ship like she did. In fact, they treated her like a hunk of metal instead of family. But she didn’t feel this way. Piloting Milky Way gave her life purpose. Her plan would at no time put her baby in danger, but instead, Malik would have to admit that she, Jackie, could be the one and only master of Milky Way.

Her insides fluttered with the longing of regaining control of the ship. She’d give Malik one last chance to give her command the civil way before holy-haywire began.


  1. Why is her brother driving? How'd she lose control of the ship to begin with? What's their relationship dynamic? Why does she need an elaborate plan? I need to read more!!! haha. I'm also very curious as to what the story is retelling, I love retellings.

    The wording of the sentence 'Her plan would at no time put her baby in danger...' is a bit clunky, maybe just 'her plan wouldn't put her baby in danger' ? and get rid of 'instead', maybe say 'be forced to admit', 'is the' instead of 'could be'...just some thoughts :)

  2. I NEED to know what her plan is! Excellent job setting up tension in the opening. Also loving the voice, especially in the second paragraph. Jackie seems like a fun, driven main character. I'm getting heavy sci-fi vibes and excited to see how you weave in the fairy tale.

  3. Great opening. We know where we are and who we're rooting for. I like the spunky snark of Jackie. I'd like a clearer idea of her age. Do you think a middle schooler would use the word 'finesse'? How about, 'desperate for her touch'... something that still shows the connection between Jackie and her ship. I love this entry. Readers need all the female go-getters possible. Good luck!!!

  4. Jackie is sneaky and clearly has a plan about to happen, and I'm so in for that! I like the sibling relationship has been established early and seems combative but loving.

    fairy tale retelling in space! yes, please

  5. This is an intriguing beginning. As others said, I'm curious about the circumstances that led Jackie to lose control over her ship to her brother. It sounds like Jackie's someone who feels isolated and left out from her family so I'm wondering if they collectively had anything to do with it.

    The description of "blood curdling screams" almost makes it sound like her brother might get injured, which doesn't seem to be the case. Is it just that he'll think he's about to be hurt or killed that will induce them? It doesn't necessarily sound like Jackie wants to hurt him, just put him in his place.

    I'm also curious about Jackie's age. This is a middle grade story so I assume she's 12 or 13 but I don't get a real sense of that just yet. Hopefully it'll become clearer within a couple paragraphs so readers really get a sense of who Jackie is and how she views the people around her in this futuristic world.

    Great job with this fun opener!

  6. I love Jackie! She is driven to get what she wants, and isn't afraid to be creative to get there! Is there any way to insert a bit of dialogue from her brother in this beginning? Something that let's us know why she's been banned from piloting her beloved Milky Way and also shows us their sibling rivalry? P.S. I'm loving the voice in holy-haywire:)

  7. Good opening. I want to know more about Jackie's plan, as well as her relationships with her family and her ship. I want to know what the conflict is between them.
    A few of the sentences feel a little...overdone, maybe? me. Things like her "cunning plan." If it's her plan, she's probably going to think of it as cunning, so saying it is a little redundant. Or with "Piloting Milky Way came to her like second nature, and yet, without her behind the wheel, all she could do was bide her time and buff the fingerprints from the dash until just the right moment."---the subject of the sentence is switching because the sentence has so many clauses. ("Without her behind the wheel" sounds like it's from someone else's perspective, not Jackie's.) Since this is MG, it's important to make sure the readers can follow the sentence structure. Complicated is fine as long as it's clear.
    That being said, I love the descriptive voice here. It really gives a sense of who Jackie is, and it's fun to read. Nice job overall.

  8. This is a great opening! I'm excited to see her plan unfold for her brother. Sprinkling some dialogue, interaction between them would help ground the reader in the scene. Also, since she's 12/13?, you might want a quick explanation as to why she knows how to fly a space craft at such a young age. This has great potential to be an intriguing, fun MG sci-fi re-telling!

  9. Going off of what others have said a little:

    I would actually show her giving Malik a second chance with dialogue in the last paragraph. And I would also include why she is the one with the finesse to pilot the ship. I would also just include that Milky Way is the spaceship’s name. And maybe with that you can include why it’s named that. Maybe you can tie that in to everything. “I am the one who gave the ship the name Milky Way. I am the one who keeps her clean. Her system operational. I am the one who takes care of her.” And almost treat he spaceship like the MCs baby, right? I raised the ship, therefore I am the only one who can fly her. And I would also just give a one line explanation why she got this privledge taken away to begin with!

    Overall love the opening! And the world you’ve created, along with the aibling rivalry!


  10. I thought you have gotten 'the plan' on the page. Instead of using the whole page to announce she has a plan, she could have said what it was, or you could have shown her implementing it. You could even start with the plan in action. Get it on the page. I'm sure the plan itself is far more interesting than the announcement.

  11. A sci-fi fairy tale retelling is such a fun concept! I have just a couple of nitpicky suggestions. Since this is a spaceship, you might consider changing "behind the wheel" to something like, "behind the control panel". Also, could you squeeze in a line that lets us know why her brother is piloting the ship instead of her? Jackie has a great voice, and I love her confidence. I'd love to read this book!

  12. I just updated someone's file today who was looking for these, so seeing the genre sets my expectations up high on this one as well. I like "Mechanical Cosmic" in the title, but the "Seed" part throws me off a bit and lowers my interest. Not sure if that's too subjective to note, but I'm trying to share all my thoughts, so there ya go. I'm assuming the seed part may relate back to the fairy tale, but had I not read what the genre was, but if I were at the bookstore and didn't know it was a fairytale retelling, the title itself I think would have weighted against my having picked up the book.

    I'm torn with the first paragraph, because it feels like a run-on to me. It does capture my interest, though, so I would keep reading.

    Oh, sheesh. That second paragraph is a zinger. I loved how it started, but then I had a legit reaction at the end where a blood-curdling-scream could be seen as the best sound ever for a sibling. As I type this, I realize that's probably because it's not really a scream of terror, just surprise, but my first reaction was that the child I was reading about was totally evil. Not sure if that was what the author intended, but if it was, it worked.

    I did have to do a reading backstitch, as I call it, when it got to the part about the character's baby. I didn't immediately make the leap that we were talking about the ship.

    I like the dynamics being set up here. I would keep reading to see where it's leading.

    Things I liked:
    • marriage of modern interest (science) with proven interest (fairy tale)
    • nice pace and tension building
    • character dynamics being set up well

    • the word Seed in the title (I can't seem to get past that)
    • allowed for two reading missteps in a very short amount of time, which is not a huge deal in brevity but could be exhausting if it continues to happen throughout
    • pace was good, but I wouldn't say the voice stood out to me as overly unique (which I'd really, really like to find in MG)