12.27.2006

HH Com 500

DESPERATE PAGANS / Mainstream fiction

Bored, middle-aged Wiccan witch Charlotte Daven gets her two wishes: A great guy rocks her world and her dull small-town existence livens up when someone gives her a medieval spell book written in a mysterious magical language, making her the center of attention in
her coven.

But the ‘great guy’, a handsome, charismatic Native American New Age writer is not what he seems, and worse, he’s a big ho. When the spell book is stolen, Samantha tries to forget about the writer shagging his way through the coven while she and a young Wiccan friend try to reclaim what’s rightfully hers. Meanwhile, she’s having wild screaming sex at night and she’s not sure with whom, because it sure as hell isn’t the cigar-store Indian! Could things possibly get any worse? Well, yes, when she finds herself pursued by every Satanist and black magic freak on the planet after they read about the spell book on her blog. Leading the pack is a Christianity-hating Norwegian ‘black metal’ band with exceedingly nasty plans to destroy the world’s clergy - if they can just get to that book first. Charlotte must face not only her own internal demons but the very real ones she never believed in – until the book's ancient charms were turned upon *her*.

This isn't a hook. It's got this. and that is not a good sign.
Start over.

23 comments:

Inkwolf said...

Well, I think it sounds like a fun book, anyway! :D I'd read it.

JPD said...

DESPERATE PAGANS / Mainstream fiction

JPD

Kate said...

The main character's name changes from Charlotte to Samantha and then back to Charlotte again.

stick and move said...

I was intrigued by the first paragraph, and my first thought was that it sounded fun, until I got to the second paragraph.

Keep in mind that I don't read this genre (which I take to be chick-lit thriller/fantasy kinda thing?) so my comments should be taken with that consideration.

Author, I like your style if it doesn't become "over-the-top" cutsie. I was buying into the MC, but in the second paragraph she starts to sound not so bright, announcing the existence of the spell book on her blog, and in my opinion you could drop the cigar store Indian comment, it feels forced. I wasn't very enthralled with a black metal band as the antagonist, either, but again, not my genre.

Your writing has a nice energy that gets my attention, and I'm sure you've got a solid story. The protag might not be ditzy in the book at all, probably isn't, but the query leaves me feeling the MC is weak and unless it's comedy, you probably don't want that.

With all that and two dollars, you can borrow two more and get yourself a latte at Starbucks. Good luck with it!

shannon said...

If light comic relief is what you're aiming for, it sure sounds like a "rollicking" good ride.

If it's not, definitely start over. Your language choices - words like "ho" - would need to change. You'd want to downplay the use of "blogs" and the pursuit "by every Satanist and black magic freak on the planet". For starters.

But reading it again I can't see it as anything but a humorous piss-take (i.e. spoof) of Wicca, cults, Satanists, "black metal" bands (whatever that is), New Age writers etc. That said, Snark has a really good point, and you need to let go of all the stuff you love about your story, dig out the core character and plot and start there, without getting side-tracked.

Anonymous said...

It's got the bold look of a particular brand of kitchen faucet (re: the link)???

delilah said...

I like the undermount model - altho I'd prefer it in stainless steel.

Anonymous said...

I and a bunch of my Wiccan friends were at first angry and then started laughing too hard to breathe at all the things that are so terribly, ridiculously WRONG with the writer's premise. Not gonna make any friends with that one, sorry.

jamiehall said...

I found a bunch of things in it that I stumbled over. Especially:

The first sentence is 48 words long and convoluted.

You've got some unintentional alliteration going on in the character labels: Wiccan witch, Native American New Age. It makes me feel like I'm reading a kid's book about Bobby Badger and Susie Squirrel.

Anonymous said...

.... It's got a soap dispenser?

Someone hit me with the clue gun. *G*

Anonymous said...

On a more serious note - For one, lose the word "ho". I've never heard of a New Age Native American male prostitute, but I'm sure one exists - but that's just not a word to throw around unless it's in somebody's jive-talking dialogue. Also, I'd beware of stereotypes. "Cigar store Indian" is a great way to alienate a few hundred thousand people, and I'd also make very sure of my Wiccan research.

You've got a fun, glibe tone of "voice", but have care that glibe doesn't inadvertantly slip off into racial or cultural insult. Keep trying!

P.S.
Word verification: ermyztha. Sounds like a good name for a Dark Lord, don't it? *G*

Virginia Miss said...

I agree with Inkwolf; it sounds like a fun book, but the hook's a mess.

Some word, phrases, and sentences that didn't work for me:

a big ho.
Samantha???
because it sure as hell isn’t the cigar-store Indian!

If you want to keep all the descriptions for the great guy, try New Age Native American writer.

Do you need to call Charlotte a "wiccan witch" or will one or the other suffice (or can we just figure this out for ourselves when you tell us she's in a coven)?

Anonymous said...

KOHLER! you invoke KOHLER!
hahahahahahaha...

everything but the kitchen sink
maybe
everything including the kitchen sink

A Paperback Writer said...

Okay, I'm not the agent, so don't listen too heavily to my comments, but I was highly amused with this and would definitely flip through chapter one to see if the book were good or not.
I'm not the pagan here, but I strongly suspect my pagan friend would be highly amused with this also. I think I'll e-mail her.
Good luck, author. Try a re-write. It just might get somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe because I'm a Wiccan/pagan, but I just LOVED this! It totally hooked me, I wasn't at all offended - and I would definitely want to read this book! Writer, if you dare, ignore everything and stick to your guns, er, athames (in-joke, folks). I don't know about the market for it, not sure if agents would appreciate it, but maybe you could contact Lewellyn with it. Good luck and Blessed Be. I think it's a riot!

Inkwolf said...

Gee, the 'big ho'line was the first thing to crack me up...the first hint that this was a farce. The 'Cigar Store Indian" I thought was meant as an indication that he was faking being Native American as well. (Possibly I misunderstood.)

If the Wicca stuff is inaccurate, as someone says, you may want to rewrite them just as cultists or occultists...

Confused said...

Ok, So the whole wild screeming sex part is a bit too much for me. First of all you have no focus, you are trying to add too many plots and sub-plots, and where in the HELL did the wild screeming sex crap come from?

December Quinn said...

Yes, the "screaming sex" part really threw me as well, since it seemed she'd ended things with the New Age Native American guy. ("New Age Native American" bugged me, btw, because chances are a Native American interested in pagan religions has plenty of people to teach him the actual religion of his ancestors. Calling him "New Age" is kind of insulting.)

And yes, the phrase "Wiccan witch" is necessary, because not all witches are Wiccan, despite the best efforts of some Wiccans to make people think that's so.

This could go one of two ways for me--either it could be a lot of fun, or it could go that same bland "white magic good and the Goddess is all pure love" fluffy-bunny way of so many books with Wiccans as protags (especially books that just call them "witches" without specifying). I hope it's the former.

writtenwyrdd said...

The line "cigar store indian" was off-putting. The rest of it was great plot stuff. I think that if you edit the blurb so that you stick to the main issue, which seems to be the stolen book, you can hint at ho boyfriend troubling her coven relationships, satanists, and the consequences of not figuring out the problem.

I am wondering if you realise that there really aren't that many Satanists out there, and the trouble such stereotypes may bring? I would suggest you perhaps rethink the name of your evil and give it a facelift from the tried and overdone. Satan is so overrated for this type of book because he/she/it has been done so often already.

Other than that gripe, I like what you show here. I'd definitely want to read it if it is as entertaining as your plot elements indicate it might become.

writtenwyrdd said...

"I and a bunch of my Wiccan friends were at first angry and then started laughing too hard to breathe at all the things that are so terribly, ridiculously WRONG with the writer's premise. Not gonna make any friends with that one, sorry. "

I read anon's post after I did my first post.

I'm Wiccan myself and I didn't take offense, because it didn't seem to poke fun at the religion any worse than any other comic novel pokes fun at any religion.

If you can't take a joke, you're taking it too seriously.

Janet Black said...

Goes to show, you can't please everyone. I think your idea is sound, but you need to stop glossing over the most interesting part of your story, the characters.
Your hook does sound too flip and cutesy. Get more earthy. Dig into the innate. Stop trying to use clever descriptions. Makes it sound too chic lit. I think the others are right when they say the cigar store Indian comments might be insulting to some Native Americans. I also find it confusing that your protagonist has a spell book, practices witchcraft but didn't believe in demons until all this happened? Well, whatever. I'm no expert on witchcraft - and I wish you good luck with this project. The book might be great but you need more practice writing your hook.

Eden said...

Another witch here. Saying "wiccan witch" in the first sentence kind of told me that the writer is probably using this as a gimmick. If you're going to invoke something as real-world as Wicca or witchcraft, then tangle it up with fantasy nonsense, I don't see how it's going to work. You've turned off a huge portion of your built-in audience. Just my $.02.

Frenchy said...

Hi guys, I'm the author of DP, for better or for worse. I thank you all for your comments. Good catch on the name change, guess I should use "Search and replace" next time, huh? Someone hand me the clue gun, please!!!

I knew Miss Snark was gonna hate my hook when she posted the "formula" for a good hook. So I figured, hey, if she at least doesn't rip my concept to shreds I'm probably doing okay. She didn't, so I'll take a backhanded positive where I can find it and start rewriting the hook ;)

For the record, I'm a Pagan myself, so I'm intimately familiar with Wicca, New Ageism, Native American "shamanism" (a misnomer) et al. I said "Wiccan witch" to position this as something other than Harry Potter or Bewitched-style witch. The magic Charlotte believes in is Wiccan magic, without the SFX and magic-out-of-nowhere of fantasy fiction magic. She will be as surprised as anyone else to find that there ARE in fact demons in the world.

I don't make fun of Wiccans or Pagans, although I *do* have a go at various personality types - "fluffybunny" witches, humorless feminazis who base what they know on crap "nonfiction", and people who mix up various religious traditions (in this case, Native American) with each other, adding a dash of New Age practices. All I will say about the "cigar store Indian" is he has a few "truth in advertising" issues.

I do appreciate everyone's comments - thanks for being frank even if you didn't like what you read (y'all have me thinking I'm generally on the right track, and my critics have me thinking I should definitely revisit a few of my "little darlings"). I know Miss Snark, who is probably on her way to Bellevue right now in a giant gin pail, doesn't have the time to perform in-depth critiques, so I find your comments (ALL of them) quite valuable. Good luck with your own work!!!