12.28.2006

HH Com 519

A Spoonful of Sugar…A Pinch of Magic, 80,000 words, Women’s Fiction

Elizabeth Stevens is in a funk. Not only is it her thirty-fifth birthday, nor is it merely the one-year anniversary of being dumped by her ex-husband, it’s also the day she has to do the unthinkable. Elizabeth, co-owner of a Chicago bakery, has to bake the perfect wedding cake for her ex-husband. Yep, that’s right – and all because of one tiny little oversight. But, what Elizabeth doesn’t know yet, and is about to find out, is that she has Gypsy magic flowing through her veins. Unknowingly, she casts a spell that renders her ex-husband limp and unable to – ahem, perform – during his honeymoon. When she discovers the truth about the magic, she does what any red-blooded woman would do. She uses it.

Toss in one sexy cop (who she met while attempting to break into her own apartment), a loony grandmother (who repeatedly calls 911 with odd requests), a sister on the brink of insanity (issues…lots of issues), a gay male best friend who wants to sleep with her (just to test the waters), a beauty queen girlfriend slumming it (she’s thrown out all of her lipsticks) – not to mention a snake, a cat, and a mouse – Elizabeth’s life has gone more than a little kooky. Using her wits (what she has left), her magic (if she could just figure out exactly how it works), and her heart; Elizabeth tries to solve everyone’s problems while figuring out what she needs to be happy.

This is a terrible hook. It's got too many characters and not enough plot. I love it. Why? I don't know exactly, but there's something about "When she discovers the truth about the magic, she does what any red-blooded woman would do. She uses it." that makes me laugh.

I know this drives you crazy when I do this, but honestly, it's a subjective process and this is the best example of that we've seen recently.

Rachel Vater comments on this in her blog recently: lousy query letter/great pages.
The whole reason we're doing hooks here though is cause a LOT of agents aren't requesting pages or they're taking e-queries and you HAVE to be able to write a good hook (99.9% of the time) to get their interest. This one is that .01% exception.

26 comments:

Virginia Miss said...

Oh, this hooked me big time. I love women's fiction, and I really, really want to read this. I love the cake situation, the "limp and unable to - ahem, perform," and slumming by tossing out all her lipstick.

Author, if you'd like a beta reader, one who both reads and writes women's fiction, shoot me an e-mail (nemeth1006 at aol dot com).

I Said said...

It works for me: there IS a story here, the writing is very good, and the humor shines through. I don't even mind the character listing--it seems to serve as a more concise description of what will be going on in this adventure than describing the situations.

Bonnie Shimko said...

Usually when I get to the fantasy part, I stop reading. I absolutely hate, I mean really hate stuff that's not realistic. I love this. The voice comes through big time, I want to meet those characters and I love the main character already. This sounds like a future bestseller!

Yasamin said...

I was told by a few peoples that perenthasis abuse was soooo not good in a query or hook. They see it as a lack or structure or something.

this story sounds like hilarity ready to happen, i hope someone takes it seriously. i'm dying to find out what happens. ;p

Dave said...

It's funny and entertaining.

It's like - this is a trainwreck but it's all a trainwreck and she's funny and engaging and wreaking havoc on her Ex and I think it's a FUN trainwreck. I wanna watch.
:)

Anonymous said...

"I love it. Why? I don't know exactly."

Anyone who's been following your comments knows why you love it, Miss Snark. You're a sucker for kinky, kick-ass heroines. Gee, I wonder why.

LJCohen said...

I would so read this book. Sometimes a girl just needs to laugh, you know?

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh yes, a goofy romp! My favorite, especially with paranormal elements. The "she uses it" line was the hook for me, and I really wanted to see how all the elements you mention tie together.

Another gimme some 'o dat.

Anonymous said...

With today's entries, Miss Snark has just demystified the whole agent/query/hook process.

Think power shopping. Hunting for that perfect cocktail dress. You know what you want. You can see it in your head. The cut, the fabric, fit, flow. And color. Black. It must be black. And you shop and shop and try on eleventy seven versions of the same thing and suddenly, there it is. The drop dead gorgeous thing you absolutely must have and oh please dear dog, let it fit. Nevermind that it's winter white with seed pearls. (Seed pearls fercryingoutloud!) And though your original specifications still stand, it's this dress, right now, that does it for you. It's perfect.

Congrats, author. Well done. I like this too and am looking forward to your pages.

Undercover said...

The magic plus the name, Elizabeth Stevens, made me think of Bewitched: Elizabeth Montgomery/Samantha Stevens. I'm showing my age, aren't I?

Good luck, author.

Anonymous said...

Sounds fun and light-hearted. I'd try to weed out the parenthesis, but keep the voice!

roach said...

I'm starting to get a feel for the non-standard hooks that are successful. It seems that voice is just as important as the XYZ form.

I'm not a big fan of romance but I liked this hook. What did it for me was the fact that Elizabeth a) takes full advantage of her power but also b) wants to solve others' problems. It makes her realistic and likable and lessens the chances the book will be filled with self-pity.

So good job author!

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't get it. Sure, the first paragraph sounds interesting, but I thought the second paragraph read like a list of ingredients that needed explanation. The parentheses abuse was annoying. I saw it as sort of a sugar substitute, rather than the real thing.

Anonymous said...

:Tired editor perks up:

"If the writing is up to it--oh, hell, yes."

Inkwolf said...

I'd read this one...

xiqay said...

I liked this, too. I like the predicament of having to bake a wedding cake for the ex, and the unintentional retribution. Fun. The cast of characters sounds fun to me, too (I like the grandmother who calls 911 and the girlfriend "slumming" it).

I'd read this. Good luck.

old anon said...

Hey undercover,

I got that Elizabeth Stevens name, too.

Kat said...

This sounds very funny -- I love the idea of having to bake your ex's wedding cake. Makes me really look forward to said ex getting his comeuppance.

Lookin' forward to seeing the pages!

living this fantasy said...

You hooked me on this! I so wish I'd discovered I'd had the same power when my ex-husband dumped me for my 35th birthday! This will resonate with lots of women. Good luck.

Southern Writer said...

It's magic. I look forward to reading your pages. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

**Author**

Thank you so much for you comments! I can't wait to see how my pages go over, though that's a little scary too!

Again, I completely appreciate all of the comments.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a shirley jump book

Anonymous said...

Hooked me.
I look forward to seeing the pages.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Is chicklit dead or isn't it?

This reads exactly like chicklit to me. Why would anyone claim the genre's dead and then pounce on this?

Shouga Tea said...

It's all about flavor.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely want to read this, based on the "hook" and Chapter One. The "woo-woo" factor is a plus.