Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #22

Title: Halo and the Boomerang Effect
Genre: MG Fantasy

A small starburst appeared near the top of a decorated Christmas tree and began to spin, picking up speed on each rotation. Then it fizzled, like someone had opened a soda can. The starburst brightened, and a girl the size of a snowflake jumped out of the light, onto a pine needle.

“Great, golly, goodness!” Halo yelled. “It’s good to be back!”

She glanced through the white pine, hoping to see or hear someone. When no one called out, she ignored the fear growing in her chest. This was her twelfth appearance, so Halo knew she might be the first arrival. No need to worry.

But she might be alone. Stranded in a foreign tree.

Her heart beat sped up. That couldn’t be true. Surely, she was back inside the house at 1414 Winslow Drive with the rest of the miniature tree people, the Treeples. She crossed her fingers and raced along the branch, ducking under a tin soldier ornament. At the end of the limb, she stopped to catch her breath beside a ceramic gingerbread boy with blue icing buttons.

Outside the tree, tall windows framed the front wall of a familiar living room. Halo grinned as she studied the brick fireplace. Right smack in the middle of the mantel stood a photo of Charles and Eloise Johnson, the magical humans who created the Treeples. One, or both, had decorated the tree, unknowingly launching the appearances of Halo and the little people.

“Yes!” Halo punched the air.


  1. Love the premise! The opening line can be tightened a bit. I personally don't like the verb "appeared," and you have an echo of it in the next graph. You mention at the end of the line that she "began to spin" so maybe start with her spinning, instead of appearing? I'm also not sure you need "decorated." You go on to describe the gingerbread boy, so you're showing that the tree has ornaments on it. Keep the tension high, so don't have her ignore the fear growing in her chest, or say/ think "no need to worry." Have her fear and worry grow, and we'll fear and worry with her. "This was her twelfth appearance" -- if you get rid of 'appeared' in the opening line, then this word isn't an echo. She's done this a dozen times before, but being in a different tree is not possible? If it's a fake tree, perhaps? If so, I'd indicate that, maybe when she comes to the end of the limb? A wonderful premise!

  2. This premise is intriguing! Watch out for too much exposition/backstory right up front, though. For example, she wouldn't think "the miniature tree people, the Treeples," right? She would probably just think something like "she was the first Treeple (Treeperson?) to arrive."

    Same with this line: "One, or both, had decorated the tree, unknowingly launching the appearances of Halo and the little people." Instead of dumping this on us right away, what about just dropping the information that they created the Treeples and then showing (rather than telling) that the Johnsons aren't aware of them?

    I'm intrigued and would definitely want to read on to see if her friends show up and how they interact with the humans.

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  4. Cute premise and their name Treeples is even cuter. I would have liked to have gotten a small hint of what's to come. Which I know the book copy would give and in some cases the title might as well. But my curiosity is peeked and I would read on. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I like the title, but I'm a little confused. Treeples and small creatures in Christmas trees seem a bit young for MG. Maybe you could forshadow a few future adventures, or mention the last adventure. I assume, since she's so glad to be back and waiting impatiently for the others, that she just came from something dangerous or scary or something. Maybe bringing that up early would engage MG readers a bit more. The first paragraph sets an interesting voice. I don't like the "Great, golly, goodness, though. I think it's a bit young for MG. Maybe not for younger MG. I tend to read older MG/YA. But, I want to know how the people created Treeples just by decorating a Christmas tree!

  6. "Then it fizzled, like someone had opened a soda can. The starburst brightened" If it fizzled, could it then brighten? Also, I wouldn't say "tree people, the Treeples," I'd leave out tree people and let us extrapolate. Cute idea.

  7. I had a hard time connecting to this. There’s a fair amount of telling in this opener and not as much establishing of character and tone as I would like. By the end of the section we know who Halo is and exactly where we are, but this doesn’t really help me understand her better.

    We’re told that she is frightened about being alone but I don’t think that’s coming across emotionally for me yet. If the narrator put us in her shoes and gave us the scene from her perspective (rather than describing her from a human-scale POV) I think that would help to establish the voice and intrigue more effectively.

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