Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Surprise Agent Invasion #41

Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 58,000


Sixteen-year-old Olivia is sick of being shuttled around from one lame foster home to another. So when she gets placed with overly friendly Derrick and emotionally constipated Denise, she braces herself to muddle through one more year until she’s out of the system for good.

Then she meets fun-loving Sam and her mysterious friend, Z. How the hell can a couple of kids living in a group home afford a kick-ass car and street bike? She soon discovers that their affinity for computer hacking extends further than just breaking into the school system to change their grades. After escaping an attack by her foster father, Olivia is reluctantly immersed into their world of online crime. To make things even more complicated, she finds herself falling for the manipulative Z.

When Z discovers that Olivia’s grandfather is alive, not to mention wealthy, he knows he has to let her go to protect her from the cruel ringleader, Bill Sykes. But after Bill discovers her secret and kidnaps her, Z and Olivia must find a way to escape before they both end up dead.

First 250:

Nothing reflects the personality of a home like a doorbell. Buzzing for the no-nonsense, cathedral chimes for the snobs, light sing-songy bells for the artsy-fartsy—I’ve heard them all. As Julia releases the button and the cock-a-doodle-dooing ends, my first impression of this home is that the owner might be insane.

The door opens and an unsmiling woman with short, mousy brown hair greets us with a raised eyebrow.

“You must be Mrs. Carter.” Julia thrusts her pudgy hand toward the lady. “I’m Julia Winters from Child Welfare.”

Mrs. Carter looks at the hand for a moment, as if trying to decide whether it’s safe to shake, then slowly offers hers.

“This is Olivia, the young lady you’ve been expecting.” Julia’s open-palm gesture is like announcing, “ta-da!” Mrs. Carter just presses her lips together. I’m guessing she’s in her forties or fifties, although she might look younger if she’d attempt a smile.

Julia’s eyes bounce back and forth from her to me like she’s watching some invisible tennis match. She clears her voice. “May we come in?”

Mrs. Carter opens the door wider and we step inside. A sickeningly sweet odor almost knocks me over. For some reason, I think of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy is drugged by inhaling the scent of poppies. My eyes burn with the overwhelming shock of blue floral country d├ęcor. And yes, there are the roosters the doorbell promised. They fill every space – clocks, paintings, pillows. 

This isn’t a home; it’s a museum for old ladies.


  1. Interesting update on Oliver Twist! I thought the query was really intriguing. There's a lot of potential in this plot.

    The first page, though, didn't really grab me, though the writing was really quite smooth and professional. The rooster doorbell ring was funny and oddball, and the whole intro was one of those horribly uncomfortable socially-awkward moments. But the moment was not about your main character. It was about the home owner. I want to get into your main character's head in these opening moments. You've done a good job creating a really terrible-sounding place to be, but I need to care about your M.C. so get us into her, and let's talk about decor and doorbells after doing that!

    Good work! You've got a lot to go with here and updates of classic stories are hot. Good luck!

  2. I found the voice felt a little young for me. I'm thinking starting at a different point in the story might help you too.