Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #7

TITLE: Season of Evernight
GENRE: MG Fantasy

The glossies arrived in Violette’s apartment every Sunday. A great stack of stories, scandal sheets and the latest fashions from Paris, Violette devoured them with a dish of sugared madeleines. Every so often she would lean across to Mena, pointing at a photo or an advert, sugar dusting her lips as she spoke in hurried reverence.

Violette adored Sundays. No school and her best friend Mena's company, she baked trays of madeleines for them both. Sometimes she chose to dip the madeleines in chocolate, sometimes with a tang of lemon curd, but always a little sugar dust - to make their Sundays all the sweeter.

‘Have you seen this one, Mena?’ Violette asked, trailing a finger over the butterfly wings adorning a girl in one of the glossies. The colours were a weave of yellows and greens, lilting at the tips in golden splendour. ‘That girl is the cat’s meow.’

Mena hunched over, whistling low and they both giggled, as if sharing a secret. No one dressed like that yet, not in Pensilva anyway, but Violette knew they were on the edge of something quite wonderful when she gazed at the glossies. She was more than ready to take that leap.

Violette’s apartment was a small shabby place, all crooked and worn like an old leather boot. She had lived there with her mother for every moment of her twelve and three quarter years


  1. Your description and world-building in just these first 250 words is absolutely stellar! I'm so drawn into the world already.
    I don't really have anything to critique here (ah! sorry!) except for maybe a hint that all is not right/something is going to happen. We have Violet's thought that she's at "the edge of something quite wonderful," and I love that phrase. I know this is only 250 words, though! So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't feel any stakes here or any idea of what Violet wants, but if that happens right away after this then you're good. (: I realize that you can't fit all of that into a tiny excerpt, anyway, but it did stand out to me.
    Regardless, I'd want to keep going just because of the delightful world you've already pulled me into!

  2. Wonderful opening! I love the description of the madeleines. Made my mouth water! I'm wondering if the phrase "hurried reverance" works for a middle grade voice. I'm interested in whatever leap Violette is ready to take. So I think you do a great job of setting the stage and creating an interesting character in just a short period. The last paragraph here might be a bit of backstory. Great job overall!

  3. The imagery is stunning!! I think the only suggestion I could make is to say "She loved Sundays, because it meant no school, instead say "A day off from (grade she's in, 6th 7th? and then you don't have to include her age at the end. It tells the reader her age right from the start. Otherwise BRAVO!

  4. This passage is deliciously atmospheric. This is the kind of story I'd like to read while sitting on a porch swing with a light summer's breeze blowing. I have not one suggestion that hasn't already been mentioned. Fantastic story! I hope to pull it off the bookstore shelf in the near future.

  5. The imagery and lush detail of your writing is glorious. I don't yet know anything about the stakes, but honestly I don't care! I already know so much about the world, and the world is interesting enough to draw me in. Lovely job!

    (Btw have you read The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, this is reminiscent with the scandal sheets, and fashions and sugar sweet treats. And I say this as a good thing!)

  6. My favorite part was her shabby apartment and it was like an old boot! Imagery on point! Great opening. Good luck!

  7. I love the atmosphere in this! It's very sweet and rich (like her madeleines? ;) ). I love Violette's optimism and her enamorment with the beautiful and it makes me wonder how that's going to get her in trouble as the plot moves forward. I like that you mention they're on the edge of something, as it makes me curious about the future and whether Violette's right about it being something wonderful.

    Good job!

  8. I enjoyed this and am intrigued to read more. Just a quick thought... The second paragraph talking about her baking kind of threw me off. Is the story centered around her baking? Seemed to kind of stall things between the first and third paragraphs, since I finished the first paragraph wondering who Mena was. Maybe the first paragraph could use "home-made madeleines," and then explain that Mena's her best friend elsewhere??

  9. I thought the first two pargs had more of an adult tone than MG, and it all felt a bit distant. Perhaps consider showing us the scene as it happens in real time to give it more of a middle grade feel and make it more active.

    Parg 3 did have a MG feel to it already, but it interrupts the story to give us backstory.

    I agree with everyone else that the imagery is nice, but to me, it comes at the cost of story. Perhaps try to get a hint of a problem on the page.

  10. I am intrigued by this story and would want to keep reading. Definitely a girls' read. I'm wondering about the genre/age group: the MC is 12 3/4. I think the world and the activities would fit older mg category/young YA category. Some of the vocab would need explanation for a 4th or 5th grader: glossies, reverence, madeleines. The cat's meow was an expression that was popular in the late 50's . Does it fit the story?
    Young girls love to look at fashion magazines. I'm wondering why the glossies are dropped off at Madeleine's apt. every Sunday? does her mother work for the magazine? Is her mother the photographer? I don't think I understood this. Are we in the real world, since you mention Paris? or are we in a fantasy world of Pensilva? Is there a dad on the scene? just reader questions that can stir ideas for you. The best of luck with the ms.

  11. I would have liked to have the age of this one established earlier on, as I was afraid this was an older character until the very last paragraph. I liked the writing, and I like the baked goods and fashion magazines appeal, but even with that last paragraph telling me the character is not yet 13, I feel like this one is going to have a little girl with grown up motivations. Which could work, but just as easily may not. This is one I'd like to see the synopsis of and read more, though, especially because it's upper MG, which I like.

    Things I liked:
    • writing quality
    • unique voice

    • assumed motivations seem out of character for age