Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #4

TITLE: To The Bones
GENRE: MG Historical

           “Stay here,” I said, and flipped the lead rope around the post. Boomerang snorted and twisted his ears. “Now wait a minute.” I pointed at my mule, right between the eyes. “We have a deal. Don’t you forget it.” Boomerang bobbed his head. “And wish me luck.”

           Straightening myself up tall, I took a deep breath, and tamped the pockets of my vest. My sketchbook was there, nestled safe. The breeze twirled away a billow of dust and I glanced up, the skin on my arms prickling. Not a cloud in sight to temper the stifle. Well. No more putting off. Straightening my hat, I took a deep breath, then marched up the steps and through the swinging door of the Como Station train depot.

            My boots clicked across the planks. Keep them in a steady, confident rhythm. But not too fast. Don’t want to seem desperate.

            Mr. Simms in Medicine Bow had told me to come out here looking for work, that there was plenty of pack hauling to do in these parts. He’d smirked a little, which made me wonder, but I really needed the work, so I’d come. To a train station in the middle of nothing.

            I reached the ticket window, my heart thumping like jackrabbits. A man with thick black hair stood at a counter in the room behind, sifting through papers. He didn’t look up, so I took off my hat and cleared my throat.


  1. Hi there... this definitely sounds like a cute story. As far as critiquing, I was just a little lost in the first paragraph. My suggestions would be to separate his words and Boomerangs actions by new lines in the first paragraph to help clear up who is doing or saying what. And maybe you could move it up a line that Boomerang is a Mule. ex: Boomerang snorted and twisted his long mule ears. Because until the next line, I don't know whether to visualize dog ears.. horse ears... etc. Good luck!

  2. This is an adorable start to a wild west tale. I love the mule's name. I want to know more about this treasured notebook and why it's so important. I'm sure if I were given another page or two all would be revealed. Best of luck!

  3. This starts off with a strong sense of place. Great description and an apt similie (heart thumping like jackrabbits.) I want to know more about the narrator and I'm sure much is revealed in the next pages. For now, it would be helpful to know the age and gender of the narrator. I assume it's a child since this is MG, but the line "I really needed work" could be read as something an adult would think. Maybe when the narrator gives that pep talk, it could end "Don't want to seem like a desperate kid" or something like that that reveals more about him/her. Would love to read more!

  4. Nice start. We meet the MC right away, and you get the problem on the first page. He needs work. You could perhaps do with more setting. Maybe show us that lonely depot out in the middle of nowhere, maybe show us the mule. But I liked the MC right away and would read more.

  5. love the name Boomerang for the mule. Nice use of action tags. In par one: need to indent for Boomerang's response.
    Hx details are strong to place the reader into the time period: pack mule, train station, boots/hat, sketch book, plank boardwalk,...Wondering about the MC: male? young boy? age? set in the west? pre or post Civil Way? Name of MC? Could you work these details in by giving Mr. Simms dialogue and he could address the MC by name?
    I would be interested in this ms and wish you the best of luck with it.

  6. After the first paragraph of this one, I am immediately reminded of "Spirit" and Senor Carrots and his owner. While that is a good market connection, I do fear that it's going to bias the voice in the wrong direction because as it goes, I feel as though I'm getting confused as it branches away from the initial connection. I thought we would stay with the horse/donkey theme, but then we move to sketchbooks and a train depot. Also, with the hat straightening and the fact that the character is looking for work, beyond the first paragraph the age and considerations of the character seem older than MG.

    There are some minor editing issues in this one, too, that make me wonder if how thoroughly it's been edited. Nothing overwhelming, but something that, as an agent, I might jot down as one that will take more time in submissions prep.

    Things I liked:
    • sense of plot progression
    • I'm curious where it's going

    • age confusion, especially for MG
    • voice expectation thrown off by first impressions