12.20.2006

HH com 198 (194)

Meet Holly MacLaren, ex-Navy fighter pilot, single mom, and a captain for Honolulu-based Mahalo Air Lines. Holly loves her work and is good at it. So when the crushing panic attacks begin, she’s at a loss to know why, or how to make them stop. Hypnotic regression reveals a number of past lives, each ending in tragedy. In her last incarnation she was Ensign Robert Strawn, the victim of an unsolved murder aboard the U.S.S. Arizona. The date: December 6, 1941. Soon after this discovery Holly’s therapist disappears, leaving a blood-spattered sports car atop the 1200-foot-high Pali Lookout. Meanwhile she and her six-year-old daughter, Skye, find themselves stalked by a U. S. Senate candidate, the son of a retired and much-revered admiral. As mother and daughter cope with this threat, their efforts take them on a spiritual journey—and a search for the truth behind one man’s heroism at Pearl Harbor.


Over over over the top.

First, an unsolved murder from December 6, 1941 is important..why? Do you know how many unsolved murders there are in this country every year? THOUSANDS.

Other than the location and the date, what's the significance?

Do you mean Robert Strawn is a hero of Pearl Harbor? Cause..Pearl Harbor was December 7, he's already dead.

You'll need to focus and sharpen this up more to hook me.

17 comments:

Writerious said...

It wasn't until 1993 that the Secretary of Defense allowed women to train as fighter pilots. Does that work with the timeline of your story?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of reincarnation, but that's personal preference. I wouldn't mind seeing more about the Senator that's after her and the secret abord the Arizona though. I think that's pretty juicy. If there's some evidence aboard the Arizona, I'd find a way to pull that into the hook as well.

#198 (194) said...

Yes. The story is set in the present, and Holly's been with the airline for almost ten years. In 1993 she was one of the first F/A-18 pilots.

Heidi the Hick said...

I was totally on board with the panic attacks. I get em too, only I'm not a pilot. Whoo boy I wanna read about that!

I was even going along with the past life regression therapy but the murdered therapist kind of lost me.

I wanna know about the single mother pilot with panic attacks! How does her problem relate to the past lives?

Hypergraphia said...

I think I can see where you are going with the "unsolved murder" that happens the day before Pearl Harbor; maybe unsolved because of what happened - who would continue trying to solve it, eh?

As for the rest, I think it could be catchy, take MS's advice.

And to writerious...there were women pilots in WWII actually who did fly American military aircraft. I doubt there were any who saw combat, or who were trained fighter pilots. I get the sense however, that this woman pilot is in modern day times. It's her past lives that were long ago. JMHO

Maprilynne said...

Um, I believe she was a man in the past life, not a woman.

angie said...

Clarity would help this hook a lot. You've got a story line that's jumping back and forth in time/lives, so making it clear is the only way to keep your reader from getting lost.

There's some good stuff here that a heavy edit could bring out to shine.

December Quinn said...

I remember this from Elektra's Crapometer. This is much, much cleaner! I liked the idea then, I like it now.

Writerious said...

And to writerious...there were women pilots in WWII actually who did fly American military aircraft. I doubt there were any who saw combat, or who were trained fighter pilots.

Yes, and some damn good ones, too (like Jackie Cochran, first woman to fly at the speed of sound). But none were allowed to be fighter pilots or fly anywhere near combat zones. Mostly they shuttled planes and cargo back and forth between air bases and assisted with the training of male fighter pilots (sometimes by towing a target that the fighters shot at, all the while praying that the tow plane didn't get shot). It wasn't until 1993 that women were allowed to train as fighter pilots for combat duty.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing it's one of those things where he was murdered the day before PH because he *knew* PH was about to happen and he would have warned someone, etc. etc. huge conspiracy to keep the fact that they knew a secret etc. etc., now causing the folks involved in said conspiracy to commit murder again to keep their secret...

Rei said...

Writerious:

I thought the exact same thing with the query when it was over at the crapometer. It's a bit clearer in this version than it was over there, but apparently some people still misunderstood the author's intentions.

Also on the crapometer, the people were concerned with exactly what Miss Snark was: that such an ancient unsolved case is going to be unaffected by a person thinking that they have a past life that implicated someone respectable's family.

Hypergraphia:

Yes, the WASPs. They weren't allowed to fly combat runs, but they did fly every aircraft the military fielded during the war (often to transport them). This freed up male pilots for combat. The WASPs played a special role in transporting craft that pilots viewed as dangerous. The commanders would make sure that the men saw (or at least knew) that a woman flew the plane over so that they'd be embarrassed to refuse to fly it.

#198 (194) said...

I appreciate Miss Snark's comments and those of the readers who've posted so far. Let me address Miss Snark's briefly, in case others have similar questions:

Over over over the top.

I don't know what this means, although in the context of the review, I don't think it's a warm fuzzy.

First, an unsolved murder from December 6, 1941 is important..why? Do you know how many unsolved murders there are in this country every year? THOUSANDS.

True. But only one of them happened to my protagonist, in a past life. This, coupled with the fact that she's ex-Navy and flies over Pearl Harbor several times a week, makes it special to her.

Other than the location and the date, what's the significance?

Everyone assumes that each of the 1,177 men whose names are on the Arizona Memorial's marble wall died in the attack. I'm raising the question: What if that's not true? What if one was murdered the night before? I think that if a story like this ever came to light, the 24/7 news networks would be all over it. And in my book, that is exactly what's bothering the would-be Senator.

Do you mean Robert Strawn is a hero of Pearl Harbor? Cause..Pearl Harbor was December 7, he's already dead.

That's the BIG mystery, all right. The answer is that Admiral Strawn isn't who he claims to be. He's the killer, Strawn's friend and shipmate, who was able to assume his victim's identity and go on to a glorious Naval career, becoming a national hero in the process. Today, in a world rife with identity theft, I'd think we could all relate to that.

But this level of detail gets us into the gray area of how much to reveal in a hook (as opposed to a synopsis). I'm afraid if I laid this all out in the hook, the comment might well have been "too much information--no reason left to read the book!"

If anyone out there has an idea about how to handle this dilemma, or any other suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear from you.

And thanks again, Miss Snark!

#198 (194) said...

hypergraphia and maprilynne,

Holly was, in fact, Ensign Robert Strawn, a male. To the best of my knowledge there's nothing in the reincarnation "rule book" that locks you into a particular gender (or, some would say, even a particular species!).

Twill said...

I got all that from the hook. The main problem I get from the story line is causation related.
1) What precipitated the panic attacks? If she actually took the Admiral or the Senator on a ride, perhaps that works as an incitement.
2) How in heck could Admiral and/or Senator Strawn find out about the hypno-therapist?
There is no way in heck a therapist would risk their license talking to someone his client thinks she used to be in a former life, much less that person's son. Big violation of professional ethics.
3) Why would anyone in politics think that a crazy who believes in past lives would have any effect on their career? You haven't made it in American politics until you have your first crazy stalker.

# 198 (194) said...

Twill said...

1) What precipitated the panic attacks?


The attacks stem from the long-repressed fears she knew at the violent ends of her past lives. (See Dr. Brian L. Weiss's Many lives, Many Masters for the nonfiction inspiration for this part of the story.)

2) How in heck could Admiral and/or Senator Strawn find out about the hypno-therapist?
There is no way in heck a therapist would risk their license talking to someone his client thinks she used to be in a former life, much less that person's son. Big violation of professional ethics.


You're assuming the therapist is ethical. But Dr. Patrick Henry Katayama III has traded his ethics for a gambling addiction that's left him deeply in debt to Honolulu mobsters. To bail himself out, he now adds blackmail to his resume--with poor results.

3) Why would anyone in politics think that a crazy who believes in past lives would have any effect on their career? You haven't made it in American politics until you have your first crazy stalker.

This is his first run for office, and he'd like not to take any chances. (Coincidentally he's running in Virginia, so he doesn't need any "Maccaca" moments.) Also, he heads a successful defense contracting firm that was founded by his father. He doesn't want the firm's image torpedoed, either. Finally, it's worth mentioning that the old man, worn down by a lifetime of guilt and regret (Bobby Strawn wasn't just his shipmate but his best friend), has been threatening to write a mea culpa memoir. So the son feels heat from all sides.

Again, Twill, if it were a synopsis C-O-M, I could work all this in. But when a plot's this complicated, how much do you reveal in a hook?

To quote the King of Siam, "'Tis a puzzlement."

aries said...

The most interesting part of the hook to me was the unsolved murder taking place on 12/6/41. Does the fact the murder was swallowed up by historical events make the crime any less significant? I think it's a pretty interesting question and one worth pursuing. I'm not interested in hypnotic regression and past lives, so the book probably wouldn't be for me, but the hook definitely contains a few interesting nuggets.

HawkOwl said...

I think your fighter pilot super-mom character would be way more plausible if you changed her name to Mary Sue.