12.30.2006

RIP Brady Westwater

"So, when's the next crapomter?"
(Brady Westwater, comments trail)


Grandmother Snark: "Miss Snark?"

MS: Yes Grandmother Snark?

GS: There is a large steaming vat on my stove.

MS: Yes Grandmother Snark. I had to borrow your vat and stove after that dreadful misunderstanding with FDNY about New Yorker storage.

GS: There appear to be three people stirring it and mumbling.

MS: Witches. Imported witches.

GS: Funny, they look like Vespa riding thugs.

MS: Not surprising since they are Vespa riding thugs.

GS: And what are these items on the floor? A large hat? Spurs?

MS: All that remains of a certain Brady Westwater.

GS: ohhhhh, I've heard of him. Writer fella, isn't he?

MS: Was. He is now past tense.

GS: You vatted Brady Westwater? Why on earth?

MS: -pointing silently to macintosh screen-

GS: oh dear dog, he didn't.

MS: he did.

GS: he's lucky you only vatted him.

MS: Second choice was letting him read round two. He begged for the vat.

GS: Well, vat's that.

Crapometer Round 2

The pages.
We'll get to that next weekend.

If I've emailed you and asked for pages, you've got a couple days to get them in if you haven't. The ONLY people who should send pages are those who got an email asking for them. If you think you should have gotten an email, but didn't check your spam trap. Several people found Miss Snark missives trapped there.

Questions?
Email me or Killer Yapp.

Dear Dog in Heaven, we're done

Miss Snark staggers across the finishing line clutching her sanity in the weakest of grips.

this is IT.
We're done.

I'm NEVER doing this many again. This was madness.

interesting, educational and illuminating for me. Hope it was all that and perhaps more for you.

The blog is going to rest for a while.

If you've got a question, go ahead and start emailing again. I've got a pen full of backlog, and we'll get to that too.

HH Com 682

Zira has the rare talent to send and read emotions. Though her gift is dangerous to society and her soul unless strictly controlled, she rebels against the discipline of apprenticeship.

In a land with three human species, she falls in scandalous love with a yellow-furred man of the northern mountains. Her father banishes her to a mother she has never known, and then her mother sends her off on a journey with the sea people. There she contends with a lustful boat captain, murderous enemies, and her own ability to influence others against their wills.

Zira wants to use her Listener’s talent to ease the hostility between cultures. She wants to do her duty and have her passion, too. But the more she grows into her power, the more she must choose: her training or the people she loves.


This is a list of events, but there's no sense of plot. What's preventing her from using her talent?

HH Com 680

Godhood is a Bitch. Ariel Kane, a time-historian, does not age.

An alien technology intrudes Ariel’s routine time-skip back into pre-history. It ensnares and suspends her body between dimensions thus altering her subatomic structure.

Too late, Ariel realizes her bete noire, and must use her deified position. In order to remove a contaminated culture, the Theans, from the planet, she urges the rediscovery of space travel thus leaving Earth’s original time line intact.

Resettled on another world, the Theans no longer battle to survive emigration, but sacrifice themselves by the millions in endless war, to save their god, Ariel.

The CSS, Contingent of Sentient Species, blames the lost time-agent for deep riffs that are appearing throughout the Universe.

The mysterious anomalies consume entire sections of the Milky Way galaxy and CSS scientists propose that the lost time-traveler is to blame and must never reach her future self, or risk destroying all dimensions. Ariel must be terminated.

Tired of a longevity devoid of love and despising her corrupted humanity, Ariel proposes a treaty. The CSS agrees.

Her memories suppressed, she’ll enjoy a brief existence on Earth, as a college teacher then suffer a brain aneurysm.

In twisted faith --- Ariel Kane leaves behind a message, ‘A Whisper of Ages’ to her doppelganger, Riela Kane.

Riela struggles to maintain a coherent life and deep love for Jack Bannon, as horrid images and abilities resurface. Nothing, it seems, can stop Riela’s destiny – to reach her ‘point of origin’ where all futures will meet.


wtf??

HH Com 678

Garnet Gold and her husband Clyde are reporters jumping from newspaper to newspaper -- overworked, underpaid, and burned out. When Garnet’s grandfather Joe dies, he leaves Garnet his bait shop and house with a challenge to his nomadic heir: Fish or cut bait. Garnet and Clyde sell their meager possessions, buy a Harley and a truck, and move to central Arkansas, to continue running Joe’s Bait Shop and Boat Rental.

Six months later, Garnet questions her sanity as she realizes that she is now underworked but still underpaid. She is addicted to soap operas, checks out fishermen for America’s Most Wanted, and is crafting her way through the bait shop creating everything from a fishing fly shadow box to a decoupaged tacklebox. But her investigative reporting itch kicks into high gear when a former Miss Arkansas sashays into the bait shop and claims to have been Joe’s friend.

Garnet soon discovers she’s inherited more than one bait shop, Joe’s four poker buddies, and six aluminum Jon boats. She has also inherited a sixty-year-old mystery that the former Miss Arkansas threatens to unravel. Unfortunately, some things are better left alone. The beauty queen turns up dead. Worse yet, when Garnet begins to believe her grandfather’s death wasn’t as natural as it seemed, she finds herself a target of a person willing to kill to keep the past quiet.

Fish or Cut Bait is a 50,000 word cozy mystery. (short word count)


Generally people who are overworked and underpaid as newspaper people are so by choice. They've got college degrees (usually) and they LOVE what they do. Trading it in on a bait shop would require some precipitating event.

I'm as fond of raw fish as the next New Yorker but this one is as contrived as California roll.

HH Com 677 (247)

When the body of a woman is found at the bottom of the pit meant for the Las Vegas Centennial Time Capsule with a stake through her heart, and her canines ripped out, Detective Jace Winters and her partner, Gideon Jones, are called in to investigate. What looks like an illegal vampire killing turns out to be anything but when the victim ends up being human. When another body turns up and then another, Jace and Gideon know they have a serial killer stalking vampires and humans alike in Las Vegas.

With Christmas just around the corner, Jace has her hands full between working Homicide and finding time to shop for her twelve year old daughter, Rose. Jace just wanted to be a good mom and a good cop. She didn’t ask to become a vampire. Sleeping all day, and being forced to work nights aren’t the only problems she has because of it. She’s forced to deal with the Department of Supernatural Affairs and the government who have rules for vampires and the other supernaturals that walk among us. They’ve taken Rose away, and given custody of her to Jace’s cheating ex-husband. Her partner’s girlfriend wants him to switch to the day shift, so they can build a life together. And Denver Sinclair, her vampire mentor, a down-on-his-luck conman with a need to gamble not only with his money but his life, is in trouble again when he gets a pair of blood stained fangs in the mail.

Much as I love cross genre stuff (and am looking hard for the next Charlie Huston) this doesn't have enough zip to get my blood (ha) boiling. Sharpen it up. Focus-lose description and gain action.

I like this, but you're going to need to show me some plot.

HH Com 676

There is an old man sitting in a bed on Angel ward, telling stories. He says he has to tell someone, because he is dying. He says he doesn't care if you believe the tales are true or not, because he is not sure that half of them ever happened at all.

Reg Weldon fought in both world wars, or so he says, he also insists that he fought in two others as well.

He claims a lot of things...

"I was born four seconds before the strike of twelve on the 31st December 1899. As far as I know that makes me the last living person to born in that century. My mother, god rest her soul, she quite probably could have been the first person to die in the century that followed. Because no sooner had I taken my first breath, than she took her last."


This is a set up, it's not a hook. Why should we listen?

HH Com 675

In the fantasy novel Amethyst:

As daughter to Perdonia's most hated hero, Grace O'Toole has always been an outcast. But on stepping into Maurland Institute's room 309 one day, suicidal redemption beckons. She and her classmate Daniel Larke discover that the men truly behind the ancient Amethyst's theft-and her father's murder-are mages who've betrayed the Castelonian Church, seeking glory for another religious sect. And holy men can be vicious killers. Their faction is vying for political supremacy, and they're willing to butcher their way to the throne.

But in its quest for power, the mages' sect tries to siphon magic from the Abyss and accidentally cracks the seal. If the evil beyond the breach breaks free, it won't matter which religion controls Perdonia. Fraught with corruption and chaos, Castelonian leaders are helpless to prevent apocalypse. Only by unveiling the secrets of her father's death can Grace bring Perdonia salvation.


this is cluttered, clunky and confusing.

I'm not sure why people avoid straightforward sentences like: Grace O'Toole has been an outcast since the death of her father-Perdonia's most hated hero. THAT form brings our attention to the best phrase "most hated hero" and doesn't obscure it in a subordinate clause that we race by when trying to find the subject of the sentence. It also naturally leads to the next sentence (which is not that thing about 309) but is instead "she and her classmate Daniel discover".

Start over.

HH Com 667

When one person’s Reality shifts, everything changes to accommodate it, which means sometimes people were never even born. When Kevin Nichols’ Reality disappears, he finds himself in a house that is not his home, missing a wife he never met, unknown by friends and co-workers. He shouldn’t exist in this version of Reality.
And he’s not alone.
Kevin wants his Reality back. He’ll do anything to reclaim it. What if that means killing the woman he loves? What if he’s wrong?

Well, reality bites, it's true.

Not specific enough to hook my interest.

HH Com 665

A steel-toed boot nudged his injured arm, causing the man to wake with a start, a stifled scream on his lips. He looked up into the gray blue muzzle of his captor's rifle.
"You are the only one to ever escape from me, but it looks like your luck has run out." The sound of the bolt engaging was very loud. "You're going to hell, you godless fuck. Prepare to meet your maker Satan."
The man looked at the muzzle and then his captor's face, defiance matching up with the fear he felt, but he said nothing.
A single shot echoed through the woods, scaring up a nearby doe and her two fawns.

(your hook starts here)
Jimmy is just a regular guy – hard working, friendly, opinionated, passionate, and involved in a complex relationship with a beautiful woman. Oh yeah, he is also an atheist. Jimmy’s world quickly slides into the surreal when the Covert Christian Cabal, a secret Religious Right group, kidnaps Betsy, his Christian girlfriend, in order to get to him.
Their mission: Rid the USA of secularism by any means possible, even killing off atheists one at a time.
Jimmy’s mission: Make the leader of this group an atheist.
“Creak: An Atheist’s Tale” follows Jimmy into the bowels of the CCC headquarters. Is he able to use his wits and strong opinions to save Betsy and himself? Or is he about to become another bug squashed by the inexorable march of the Religious Right?

Dog spare me from polemics.
You don't have story, you're arguing a political point.
Tell a good story, you'll make a point without needing to make it.

Start with making your characters more than one dimension.

HH Com 664

Overachiever Tara Devereaux has reached almost all of her goals by age 29 ; a Harvard degree, good job as a chemist, Ph.D. in the works, and handsome attorney husband. The remaining crowning achievement is her recent pregnancy. On her 30th birthday she returns home early from work, to have a nap before her party. Instead she finds her husband in bed with her best friend. Reeling from the subsequent loss of her marriage, her baby, her best friend and her job she finds solace in chocolate.

At odds with her new empty life she hopes to reinvent herself as a world class chocolatier. Her high maintenance mom Mia has other plans. Mia, (just Mia thank-you) a widowed 70's super model and breeder of champion Jack Russell terriers offers to take Tara on a 'feel better' Caribbean Christmas cruise on the QM2. Tara envisions a Poseidon Adventure at best, Titanic at worst but agrees to go. The polar opposite pair have separate agendas. Tara wants some badly needed mother daughter bonding. Mia wants to Tara to give up her chocolate dreams and complete her Ph.D. The last thing either expects to find on board is romance.

Between exotic ports of call and high seas hi jinks, Tara and Mia both find love. Mia with a fellow New Yorker and Tara with the ship's guest celebrity chef, a French chocolatier. Despite bittersweet ups and downs both Tara and Mia discover more about love and themselves than they could have ever dreamed of.


The juxtaposition of losing her marriage, baby, job and best friend and "solace in chocolate" makes my head snap like a turtle looking at a soup tureen. The intensity of the two doesn't match. "Solace is chocolate" is a jokey kind of thing; the other isn't.

You've got stock characters here as well. They may not be that, but you need to give them some dimension by giving them some emotioanl resonance.

Also, the story starts with the cruise, not the backstory of betrayal and chocolate.

Start over.

HH COM 663

A story of lost loves, found glory, and business treachery.

Time is running out for Dan to save the business that took his family sixty years to build. Kelly’s lifework crumbles around her. Mike thinks he’ll always be the guy watching the world from the sidelines. Mark dies just when his dream of playing football for the National Football League seemed within reach.

Then a letter lost for twenty years arrives and sends the game of life into overtime. It all comes down to a desperate financial gamble, a football game for the ages, and the emotional reunion of four friends who could not be separated by time, distance or even death. All this “team” needed was a little more time than reality normally grants us.

Dan seemed to be leading a charmed life as a highly successful CEO until a ruthless venture capitalist sets his sights on taking the company over. Dan and his beautiful chief financial officer need one miracle to save the company and another to fall in love.


You have a series of descriptions and some blather about events. Even if you have four main characters you have to be specific about something, and my guess is that it would be the letter.

Right now I don't have a clue what this book is about and that's a bad bad thing in a query letter.

What's the event? What decisions does it require? What are the consequences for failure.

Start over.

HH Com 661

The Earth’s surface, atmosphere and seas are warming; ocean currents are slowing; ice shelves are melting faster than projected; spring is coming ever sooner; rainfall patterns are changing; North American migratory birds are ranging father north; the ability of the earth to self-regulate to resist warming appears to be waning,” NY Times (May 24,2006)

Welcome to the world in WARM FRONT a novel set in the midst of a mounting global warming crisis. Jack Sheldon, a caribou biologist on Alaska’s north slope, monitor of the dwindling Porcupine caribou herd and an environmental reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner embark on a quest to get the message out on an around the world investigation from the Arctic to Antarctica and back. Along the way, both are imperiled by the consequences of abrupt climate change that could end their lives and threaten the existence of life on the planet.

Sheldon meets Robin Sampson a 28-year-old lawyer and head of an environmental group attempting to sue Arctic Oil Corporation for endangering the polar bears of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Her father, Alaskan Republican Senator Richard Sampson opposes them, throwing all his power and weight behind an industry led effort to obfuscate the truth and discredit the scientists.

Through his danger-filled global treks, Elmore learns just how dire this is and methodically lays out the case in a climate series widely read all over the world, by both friend and foe. He risks his career and life to report it. Will the message be heard in time?


What's the plot?
Global warming isn't a plot. It's an issue.

HH Com 659

Mary Potter, a southern, smart-ass, overworked VFW bartender would love to
kill a customer or two if she could get away with it. (Due to the ineptness of the small north Florida town's police department, she probably could.)

When Mary's least favorite customer is murdered she has no proof she didn't do it. She quickly becomes the scapegoat and turns to Michael Sweeney for help. Sweeney, former Orlando cop and now newly licensed P.I., rents the other side of Mary's duplex. Personality-wise, they couldn't be more different, but work great as a team. Together they unravel the long-standing conspiracy and deception going on at the VFW, reveal the killer and prove Mary's innocence.

(leave this out)
CLOSING TIME, my first attempt at a novel, was written after I was fired from my job of 8 ½ years as a VFW bartender because of my "attitude." Character names have been created to protect them and myself from the assholes.

Fond as I am of bartenders who serve up the elixir of life, you're going to need more about the plot and less about the set up to hook me. You've got a bright energetic voice that I like and this has potential.

HH Com 658

Fonda Hallihan comes from a nuclear family—a nuclear fallout family. Her mom, a self-proclaimed “pottery savant,” mocks traditional values and joyfully scatters a troop of shell-shocked husbands across the country. At eighteen, Fonda wants to begin adult life, but Mom still treats her like a lump of clay she’s molding in her own reckless image. When Mom goes too far, all Fonda can do is flee, though she must abandon her little brother to Mom’s unnatural brand of parenting.

Fonda returns to rural Pennsylvania, to her childhood home and Bruce, her favorite pseudo-father. Hoping to rebuild the stable life she had before Mom screwed things up, Fonda finds folks have moved on: sweetheart Linc, who once offered his artificial Super Bowl ring and eternal fidelity, no longer wants to play house, and one-time best friend, Jodi, is now a two-time mother trapped in a “common-law relationship” with her legal guardian. The only person who hasn’t moved on is Bruce, who uses Fonda to lure Mom back into his life. Fleeing again, Fonda falls in with Shimmer, a Taser-wielding, pheromone-wearing, modern-day pirate who offers Fonda bunk space in her soda-can RV.

Armed only with cell phone and wisdom from a Mandatory Life Management class taught by a teacher who used the textbook for biceps curls, Fonda faces evictions, betrayals, spiritual pyramid schemes, street brawls with diaper-crazy moms, and her own far-too-easily-induced gag reflex. Ultimately, she must survive Mom’s increasingly selfish designs and mold a family she can manage.

wtf??

Use the xyz to get the elements you need in place. Then start over.

HH Com 657

The world of Dragan Sakic, a troubled emergency room physician, begins to fall apart when he proves that the death of Salt Lake City’s District Attorney was murder. The medical examiner is about to sign the death certificate when Dragan points out that three substances found in the DA's body, no more than natural remedies when taken separately, mimic a heart attack when combined. A tiered poisoning?

In providing an ailing investigation impetus by revealing additional suspicious deaths for what they really are—elaborate poisonings—Dragan makes himself a target. When his girlfriend Nina, an investigative reporter, is found near death, and evidence discovered at their home implicates Dragan in the DA’s murder, he becomes the prime suspect of the investigation, and in Nina’s attack. Framed for murders he did not commit, and faced with the loss of the person most dear to him, Dragan is thrust into a shady world of betrayal, revenge and religious zealotry.

This isn't specific enough to hook me but I like the idea of tiered poisoning a lot. You need the villain to rear his ugly head, or it's too lopsided.

HH Com 656

Jonathan Smite – a veritable messiah in the world of corporate conquest. He sits upon his throne as CEO of AIR Corp., a vast media empire built from the ground up by his own relentless ambition and business-savvy. Smite’s brainchild and the success of AIR is built off of the Welcome Bot, a computerized companion designed to listen to, commiserate with, and give advice on the day-to-day frustrations of middle-class America. What began as a faceless manikin is now customizable in any form the customer pleases. The idea is that you walk through the door and you’ve got Marilyn Monroe greeting you and asking how your day was, or George Clooney asking what great injustice that asshole boss of yours committed today. It’s the ultimate solution to people not wanting to listen to each other’s problems.

Now, having amassed an enormous amount of wealth and high on power, Smite embarks on a quest for glorious revenge. Revenge for what? Everything. From affronts visited upon him by his third grade teacher to his fiancé never appearing at the altar. There is no crime too petty, no insult forgotten. Stylizing himself a modern day Count of Monte Cristo and idolizing everything from the protagonists of 15th century Chinese literature to comic-book superheroes, Smite contrives elaborate schemes to ensnare his enemies. Unfortunately for Smite, all-encompassing revenge isn’t quite so easy as the great Edmond Dantes made it look.



Well, the Count of Monte Cristo was written by Alexandre Dumas (pere) so you might be better off using the author rather than the character to describe how something was made to look easy.

What you have here is backstory and description, not a hook.
Use the XYZ to figure out your elements. Then off to the races.

HH Com 655

Angel is convinced her office in San Francisco is actually a forward observation post for an alien power. That certainly sounds wacko to David, her co-worker. On the other hand, she’s got perky breasts.


ha

HH Com 654

He only wants six virgins to take the final walk into eternity hand in hand, and there is one vacancy left to fill. Can Detectives Marlene Thomas and Lamont Pierce stop a madman's calling before it's too late?

This isn't a hook, it's a snapshot caption.
Start over.

HH Com 653

Jake Black just wants to play baseball.

As he wiles away the summer of 1953 in the Minors, beer and sun help him ease memories of Isaak, the brother he lost in the War. When Army Intelligence wants him back, Jake’s not interested - until they tell him that President Taft has terminal cancer, and maybe Isaak is not dead after all.

The mission is simple: coach the Embassy team in Tehran while ensuring the CIA doesn't botch their first ever coup attempt. Jake discovers Iran on the verge of civil war. After a crash course in Persian and hookah smoking, he tracks Kim Roosevelt, Middle East Station Chief, by day and combs the expatriate bars at night for signs of Isaak. Demonstrations soon become riots as Jake mixes with communist insurgents, Polish refugees, British journalists, striking oil
workers, and anyone who can hit a fastball. Can he find his brother and keep the country from crumbling into chaos before Vice President MacArthur sends in the paratroopers?

Tehran Summer is an alternate history spy thriller.


The most essential thing in "alternate history" is that you tell us what event did/didn't happen that makes this the alternate. Philip Roth did this with The Plot Against America: FDR doesn't win the election in 44.

What you're missing here is the event that makes me understand why Taft is president in 53 and not dead. Without that, this is just events without context.

HH Com 652

Mary Greenfield, a bookworm with plenty of time on her hands, is shaken when she wakes up in a strange bed not dressed in what she remembered wearing last and greeted by the sight of a man she does not know. The last thing she can recall is opening a book she had recently
bought at a used bookstore. Now that book is her only way home and the dark forces that rule the world she has fallen into want it for their own ends. With the help of the wizard who rescued her she must discover the secrets of the book before it is taken from her. As they
are pursued from world to world in their search for the secrets of the book Mary begins to doubt ever seeing home again; at the same time she learns of an inherent magical talent of her own and a growing love makes her question if she really wants to return home at all.

Fairyland is a 100,000 word adult fantasy novel that draws upon myths, folklore and fairy tales from across the globe, bringing them together to create a world beyond imagination.

Ditch the stuff in red to give us a more zippy starting point. Pare down and focus on what's going on: she's paging (ha) through the universe or something.

I like this idea. I don't read enough fantasy to know if it's old and overused, but I like it. I'd like it better if it was me and I woke up next to Mr. Clooney and I actually remembered how I'd gotten there.

HH Com 651

In "The Birth of Monsters" Brad Patterson has a failing marriage, a boss he can’t stand, and a dead-end job as a low ranking attorney defending a giant drug company against allegations that its popular sleeping pill, Zynix, causes people to become paranoid and go on murderous rampages. When an expert witness who is privy to highly confidential information concerning Zynix goes insane and throws himself in front of Brad’s car, Brad suspects that something untoward may be going on. (ya think?) Then he starts hearing voices, and his wife’s body is found stabbed to death–the police believe Brad is the killer. Could it be related to the Zynix he is taking? During the preparation of his defense, Brad discovers that Zynix causes some of its users to become telepathic, a side-effect that the company has kept secret but that is at the center of a plot to overthrow the American government and provoke a nuclear exchange. Now, only Brad, together with Dr. Trevor Jones, a scientist who developed Zynix, can prevent Armageddon. But whose side is Dr. Jones really on?


You're awash in plot points. Stop.
You don't need to rethink the hook, you need to rethink the book.

HH Com 650

In a world where psychic vampires feed on emotions and life force, a moment of misplaced trust lands a young woman in a coma. As she watches her friend's energy drained by these monsters, Cassandra Lee swears she'll hunt down every last one.

Except they're hunting her, too. Born of a forbidden union between two psi-vamps, Cassandra has enough unrealized power to destroy her people. The Dark Court, their ruling body, intends to kill this Abomination before she discovers her true strength.

But a new faction divides them. Led by an upstart Lord, they don't want to kill Cassandra. Instead, they want to use her power to create their own Territory.

Alex Chandler, de facto leader of the Dark Court, can't let that happen. The last Abomination left his people all but extinct. Honor-bound to protect his misguided brethren and prevent history from repeating itself, he'll kill her himself.

But when he meets Cassandra, he can't believe a sarcastic goth girl is the creature they fear. As he befriends her to get closer to the kill, they begin to fall in love.

Cassandra discovers her heritage, shattering her ideals. How can she hunt "monsters" when she is one? Worse, Alex's vampirism is exposed. Furious, she wants nothing more to do with him.

When her sister is kidnapped by their enemies, Cassandra has no choice but to turn to Alex. Their search uncovers a plot that threatens both human and vampire alike, leaving only one choice: Stand together and fight.


This is unfocused and a recitation of events. Use the XYZ to get the important factors on the page, then start over.

HH Com 649

It is not every day one discovers the secrets of the universe. In fact, very few people have the knowledge that I quite unwittingly was made privy to. I must say that it struck me rather hard at first. When you learn beyond a shadow of a doubt that the very fabric of the universe is about to dissolve, and know beyond that same shadow of a doubt that you were the cause of its destruction, and now are waiting to see it destroyed, well, it leaves you rather nauseated really. ( start here--->) I didn’t cause the actual destruction of the universe, but I certainly started the events that will lead to the end of our Earth.

There are many concepts of space and time the modern world holds as fact, but most of these ideas are utter nonsense. The idea of space being so large is just one. It is really quite small. The universe in fact has an end. I know. I’ve been there.

It was a simple clerical error that caused the problems. That and a goldfish. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start, even though it is still a little confusing for me. I am guessing I have about three days to tell my story, but I’d better start now. I’ll just tell it in the order that it happened, and forget about the actual dates, which would just confuse the matter more.

This isn't a hook, it's a first page. I'd ask for pages, but it's clear I don't have enough time to read them AND get Mr. Clooney to the altar before the end of the universe.

HH Com 646

Joining the army is the only thing Rufae ever really wanted to do with his life. He didn’t realize that it would be quite so hard. He’s commanding a group of men who think he’s an idiot. They’re fighting a war that no one understands, but no one bothers to question. And every time he closes his eyes, he dreams that he’s a Prince.

Guided by one of his men in an arcane ritual for good luck ends up propelling half his soul across the mountain border and back thousands of years. Back to the point when there was no war between these two countries.

Balancing his life as a soldier and his life in the body of the Crown Prince, Iosir, he realizes that he can change history, if he wants to. He can end this war before it even started. Only, though, if he can coordinate two armies thousands of years apart, desert his army without being caught to go to the capital, and convince the Emperor that he’s not utterly insane. And as Prince, he must lead a delegation across the mountain borders and across a land full of people he knows will kill them on sight, just out of principle.

But what Rufae neglects to consider is what might happen to his world if they never had the war that defined them.

Too much description, not enough focus. Use the XYZ to get focused, then start over.

HH Com 645

Nyima Rewa never wanted to be a fighter. Her greatest aspiration was to control her vis, a sense that allows her to perceive and manipulate most forms of energy. Like all people who can use their vis, called Children, Nyima took an Oath to always use her abilities for the
betterment of her country. Under normal circumstances that would have been a peaceful enterprise, but Nyima's country, Bod, was invaded. For years she upheld her duty and defended her people, until Bod was conquered. Now her people work to keep their culture alive in exile.
It isn't home, but it's peaceful.

At least until Nyima gets a letter from an old friend, Odhràn Torley. Odhràn's country, Eikrengt, isn't at war, at least not yet. But the way Odhràn's old enemy is stirring up trouble, civil war might be just around the corner. (your hook starts here --->) The last thing Nyima wants to do is get involved in another war, but stopping a war before it starts - that would be worthwhile. And after Odhràn risked his life to help her people all those years ago, she can't refuse. So she agrees to lend Odhràn and his followers her expertise in espionage and hidden war.

But to help him, Nyima might have to kill - something she swore never to do, even to save her friends or herself. No matter how many of her oaths she's broken, no one has a right to ask her this. Do they?

Lose the backstory, focus on her dilemma.

HH Com 644

A young homeowner renovating a once-proud three-story house in midtown Memphis discovers an old notebook buried beneath bulging bricks in a backyard patio. The notebook is wrapped in a yellow rain slicker stuffed inside a crumbling newspaper carrier’s bag.

The moldy notebook at first appears to contain handwritings of different people, but the homeowner soon realizes the writer is a 13-year-old boy who took over a friend’s paper route for a month in the summer of 1959.

The 45-year-old notebook, comprising the bulk of the novel, tells of events that month, including the boy’s first sexual encounter, a fatal throat slashing and the story of a mysterious man who tips the paperboy each week with a piece of a dollar bill, each quarter of the bill containing a different word starting with “s”. The boy’s companion on this month-long journey is the family housekeeper who knows more than those around her realize.

The notebook is written in the boy’s dysfunctional but unencumbered speech that includes non-words, comedic turns of phrase and a unique love-hate relationship with language.

The climax for the reader involves the surprise connection between the homeowner and the 13-year-old boy.

A central theme of “A Quartering of Souls” is the convoluted ways in which we attempt to communicate. Sub-themes include a fresh look at the segregated South, the pathology of a speech impediment and a discordant look at several literary classics.

This is a description of the book; it's not a hook. We've been raking you over the coals since Crapometer 1 so one thing I can say in your favor: you've got a distinctive story cause I remember it.

Talk about the story. Use the XYZ form to help you focus. Leave OUT the description of what the writing is like. If you can carry it off we'll figure it out when we're reading the pages.

HH Com 643

Six hundred and seven days have passed since Sharon was stolen from me. Not a day goes by I don’t think of her.

If you could mix joy, insecurity, and a broken heart together in a bowl, that was her smile. It was like she knew if she smiled too freely, someone would come along and squash it. Her plain brown eyes made her a knockout. Nothing was hotter than a woman who didn’t realize the depth of her beauty. Even so, it’s getting harder each day to remember her face. Hanging some pictures back on the wall would probably help. Then again, it may hurt even more.
Nights are the worst part. So many times I wake thinking she’s next to me, only to relive the moment I’ll never forget. Maybe that’s my own stupid fault for never changing her pillowcase. Sometimes it still smells of her, and washing it would be like making her die all over again.
Yes, sleep comes hard, but mostly because I won’t let it take hold. And when it does, I curse myself in the morning if I haven’t dreamt of her.

It was the soft squeak of my bedroom door that finally interrupted my pity party. My daughter, no doubt, because Danny bursts in like the house is on fire. But Nat always hesitates, listening for my breathing before saying anything. If I feigned snoring, I’d hear the unmistakable muffled click of the closing door.

So, I held my breath.


Yawn central. This is a first page. You need a twist at the end to make me want to read. 250 words is pretty harsh for getting a twist in there, but it can be done: we've seen it earlier here.

HH Com 642

Usually Kevin wouldn’t cover a small outbreak in a small town, but Justus, Texas, has something other towns don’t: the ex-girlfriend who abandoned him. He’ll write a few stories, indulge in a little romantic detective work on the side, go back to Washington. Easy.

But Justus seems haunted by his own personal ghosts. The local hospital smells exactly like the one where his father died a month ago. The priest and his farm-worker parishioners remind him of his mother, who left when he was seven. Anne-Marie admits she left because she got pregnant—and didn’t trust him to be the father. He hangs out with local cowboys and reads the town founder’s memoirs just to stay sane.

Then, thanks to his stories and a publicity-mad sheriff, his friends in the press corps descend, turning Justus into a media circus. The town is quarantined; the epidemic grows anyway. Kevin’s too busy chasing the germ to make sense of history. Now, if he can just keep himself out of the hospital . . .

What's this about? You've got a lot of details but I don't have a sense of the plot.

HH Com 641

"Fabbo, you're awake." The spirit snapped her compact mirror shut and twirled around in her micro-mini-skirt. She popped the mirror and a frosted pink lippy into a dinky crocheted bag. "Now, what do you know about exorcisms?"

I didn't panic. This was obviously a post-bump dream, right? "You tell me, you're the ghostie," I croaked.

Three months before her fourteenth birthday, Kat's an average, mostly normal adolescent with a vivid imagination. Following a mild concussion, Kat's transformed from a 'dreamer' to a 'doer' - foreseeing the future and chatting to ghosts. Reluctantly.

Her grandmother hasn't quite 'passed on'. Before progressing to a higher realm, Gram returns to help Kat with a vital decision that will affect her destiny. Unfortunately, the 'how, when and what' part isn't clear.

Kat's father leaves for a younger woman, ghosts barge in, willy-nilly, demanding help and the school Brat Pack summon up the evil dead.

Life sucks when you're a teenage psychic.


Too much, and not enough. Life sucks when you're a teenager, period. What's the problem here? The "vital decision" needs to be spelled out as does why she wants whatever it is she wants and what's going to happen if she gets/doesn't get it.

HH Com 640

Pommet-sur-Fossé, hidden rural gem, is sliding into depression at the hands of its idle mayor. But when the Gazelles, the village's fat (+ token thinnie), middle-aged gymnasts, discover that he and his shady buddy, Emile de Condom, have a hidden agenda, the 15 women decide the time has come to place Pommet on the map. Faced with a disappointing lack of white beaches, palm trees, snow-clad peaks or Eiffel Towers to attract moneyed punters, the Gazelles cluelessly draw up plans for Kew Gardens II and a Tiger-Woods designed championship golf course.

But there are snakes lurking in the undergrowth, chicanery and secrecy woven deeply within village government. However, the major problem turns out to be the Gazelles themselves. After a spell in the cells, pre-emptive mayoral strikes, whingeing husbands, squatting techno-ravers and a carelessly-discarded corpse, the Gazelles begin to wonder whether they've bitten off more than they can chew.

Yes. They have.
Perhaps some of the humor (humour) doesn't translate but this looks like the dog's breakfast to me.

HH Com 639

On the day that the fattest, sweatiest man in Hong Kong kidnapped his parents, thirteen-year-old Boyd McCloyd found out he had a new job from an eight-foot tall yeti in a pinstripe suite and a stoic Chinese android. The job in question: Boyd was to continue to produce yearly editions of The Almanac of the Twisted and Weird (the world's number one printed resource for the odd and unusual, macabre and profane, twisted and...weird).

However, because Boyd had inherited this job from the venerable Confucius Ping, he also inherited Mr. Ping's enemies, every one of which had made it their lifelong goal to destroy everything that Mr. Ping represented. This dastardly and treacherous group of werewolves, leprechauns, mutant swordfish, dwarf giants, and various other cadres of criminals includes the very man who had kidnapped Boyd's parents: Mr. Fang.

It is this Mr. Fang that makes a demand of Boyd: Bring him the Perpetual Motion Machine or his parents suffer a most gruesome fate. But Boyd doesn't have all the pieces and it's a race against the clock as Boyd's ragtag group of acquaintances bolt across Hong Kong in a desperate search to save his parents from being the main course of the next Hot Pot at one of Mr. Fang's many restaurants.

Gives one a whole new perspective on ordering take out doesn't it?

This is actually pretty funny and I love the energy of it.
I'm utterly clueless about middle grade fantasy so I won't comment on whether it's old hat or age appropriate. I will say I like it a lot.

HH Com 638

'Respected member of the fashionable Rhiaton Crowd or vow-breaking maverick' was not a dilemma Kinush had expected to shape his career as a mage.

When Kinush qualifies as a teacher of magic, the Crowd of mages who dominate the city of Rhiaton begin to take a renewed interest in him. Acceptance by the Crowd turns out to be not just a matter of testing young mages and teasing secrets from ancient battlefields; it comes at the price of accepting any joke against oneself, however vicious its form. Like his friend Meriok, whose prospects of advancement are shattered by a single act of thougthlessness, Kinush finds the thought unpalatable; unlike his friend, he is not willing to run away, though the vicious beating that follows Meriok's disappearance serves to change his mind.
During his search for Meriok, Kinush experiences the hatred for magic that the arrogance of the Rhiaton Crowd has sown. Breaking their hold over Rhiaton's mages becomes his priority. To fulfill that goal, he is willing to associate with almost any mage, including those who should, by tradition, be his enemies, but their assistance comes at a price...


There's both too much and too little here. Use the XYZ formula to focus on what we need to know. Then wave yuour magic wand over it to make it your own.

HH Com 637

Vincent Augustus Steiner was always told the only way to be believed was through actions, not words. He believed it. An author in heart, stranded far away from publishing industry nook, New York, he begins his search of the one, big dark secret of publishing on related websites. Swimming deep into crap, he tries to uncover the identities of anonymous slush readers, agents and booksellers by hacking into their systems, bribing onymous agents and Galleycat reporters, and getting into bed with their industry rivals. In the final days of his search he takes the Queen Mary II from France to New York to prepare for the grand final. There, while struggling to cope with drinking he can’t handle, he has to trick Publishing Industry spy, FBI agent Tom Marlow, and manage to stay alive long enough for his appearance on Oprah and the revelation of the one, big dark secret: ‘How To Infiltrate The Publishing Industry Without Writing One Bloody Word.’

Ha.

HH Com 636

Thirteen-year-old Alex Morley once read that dust is only flakes of dead skin which people shed as they go on living. Bookish and slight, Alex feels like the dust which wafts about the small-town California library where we (I hope this is only a typo for 'he' not a shift to 1st plural) was homeschooled by his librarian mother until she died last year. His entrepreneurial father, now even more distant from Alex than before, storms the library to tell his son they are expatriating to Munich, and although Alex resists leaving, despite the bitterness boiling within him, he fights the man only with sullen silence. In Germany, he is surprised he thrives amid the foreignness of it all, especially when we discovers Anglia Copia, a chaotic secondhand English bookshop without shelves where the books are stacked throughout in teetering columns. It is populated by an eccentric proprietor who rarely speaks and an aged enigma of a man who
seems to be a customer but never seems to leave the shop. The men aren't the shop's only mysteries, but Alex intentially overlooks these. Outside the bookshop, in school and at home, he struggles with his mother's absence, his father's distance, and his nascent adolescence, but at the shop he finds refuge. Under the strange customer's tutelage, Alex discovers himself amid the books, which exude the dusty words of dead English authors who were once alive,
like him. More importantly, he exposes the strange connection the bookshop men have with his father, a history which will finally provide Alex his destiny.

For all of you who wonder why spelling and grammAr (yea, I know I get it wrong 85% of the time) are so critical, look no further. A simple typo (he/we) and twice no less, makes me wonder if this is first or third person. At least I hope it's a typo; if it's not, spelling is not the thing to worry about.

This is a run down of the premise of the novel; it's not a hook. And "destiny' can't ever be said without an implied sardonic sneer since Rick said "destiny takes a hand" in Casablanca.

HH Com 635

Keltin has spent a mad decade among the street gangs of Deeken Township. Killing for revenge, fighting for recreation, using violence to feed his anger at a hellish childhood. Until Lia comes into his life. With Lia's help, Kelt builds a life-- a steady job, a steady home… and a steady love, the only one he's ever had.

But Lia is a brilliant artist who isn't afraid to paint the truth-- even when she should be. When several of Lia's too true-to-life portraits of Kalumay's cruel king come under the young tyrant's eye, the outraged King Jewd sentences Lia to die. Keltin goes to the only place he can for help: Cassus, a place of legend, of magic and fire. He will hire the Cassian mercenaries to invade the palace and overthrow King Jewd. He will free Lia; he will free Kalumay from a tyrannical king. He will be a hero.

But the mercenaries have ideas of their own, and Kelt's rash act --so reminiscent of the thoughtless compulsion of his days on the street-- soon puts the entire kingdom in jeopardy, and all the people in it. Because when the job is done, the Cassians don't want to go back to
where they came from-- they want to stay and make Kalumay their own.

Somehow, Kelt has to find a way to stop them, to undo the damage he's caused. But how?

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Kalumay?

I like this.
It's not very zippy writing, but I like the idea. Kinda like Green Street Hooligans meets Mona Lisa Smiles.

HH Com 634

Socially phobic psychiatrist Ida Rosquillos has her life all planned out. She's about to start her dream job as a researcher, where with any luck she'll never see a patient again. She's even managed to develop an eminently logical approach to her previously disastrous personal life---namely, spending all her free time in the lab so she won't have to worry about any messy entanglements. But Ida's rationally ordered schemes fall apart when her ex-not-quite-boyfriend is murdered.

Ida can't stop thinking about how Michael kept calling her the day before he died, and how she ignored his calls, not wanting to get involved in their old drama once again. She wonders if she could have made a difference if she'd talked to him. After all, she helps people for a living (well, at least until she can get a full-time job in the lab). As Ida attempts to reconstruct the last few days of Michael's life, she grows increasingly disturbed that the police have made no arrests and don't seem to be making any progress on the case.

Ida's supposed to know about people and their motivations; here's her chance to put her skills to the test. She decides she'll find out who killed Michael, even if she has to put her research career on hold, even if she has to risk her carefully guarded emotional detachment--even if she has to talk to people.


This is a good character description but there's not much sense of the plot. And "she decides" to change her whole lifeplan to solve the murder of an ex-boyfriend? That doesn't feel right if she's socially phobic --unless you mean she's just a curmudgeon such as Miss Snark ie socially cantankerous, not truly phobic.

HH Com 633

The last time Ro saw Mickey Sguglia he'd just put a bullet into her twin brother Luca's head. Tonight he's been invited to dinner.
Twenty-year-old Ro is the youngest daughter of Alfredo Bellidonno, the east coast's most powerful crime boss. She's bitter, violent, and hasn't said a word in seven years. Why bother when nobody seems to hear you? Sure Fredo wiped out the independant crew believed to be at fault for Luca's murder, but when Ro tried to tell him that the killer wasn't among them, he called it impossible. She tried until she was hoarse, but all she got was a hug. "It's natural to be angry when someone dies."
Sguglia hasn't risked coming back for nothing. Killing Alfredo and his son Max, the heir apparent, won't be easy, but Sguglia knows exactly how to do it. The Bellidonno empire is a gem, and if all goes as planned, he'll have it for himself.
It's revenge versus ambition, and before the story's over, one of them will make themselves heard.

It always kills me (ha) when someone who seems to be a good writer is doing a topic or motif I'm really past caring about. This is one of them. Organized crime blchh. Revenge and ambition are eternal, but made guys in Brooklyn are not.

HH Com 632

When your toddler changes the channel by staring hard at the television, that might be an electronic glitch. If your teenage daughter tells you she has no idea how she got those razor cuts on her arms, she's probably lying. But when a childish voice singing a well-known nursery rhyme about spiders causes hundreds of them to appear, it's time to get help.

Help for the Scott family comes in the form of Jonas Tildon, a young man who shows up at their front door wearing a shockingly loud Hawaiian shirt. His wit is sharp, his manner warm, and his business card reads simply: The Riley Foundation. He tells them their daughters aren't crazy or sick, they're adept. They possess powers of the mind that threaten to destroy them, and they are not alone.

And Jonas is not the only one keeping an eye on the Scott family.

"The Village Inside" is a 90,000-word paranormal thriller.

Oh pish posh, Killer Yapp can make food appear by gazing at Miss Snark.
Hilarity aside, this is actually a good hook.
It's not laden with gloom as most paranormals are (shockingly loud Hawaiin shirt!) and there's an element of humor I find sadly missing in most of those.

Let's see if those girls have anything over the Yapp in making things materialize.

Hh Com 631

He likes to remember that she was the first thing he saw on his first morning. Years later, when he finally makes his peace with everything that follows, that is still what he remembers.

He savours that first morning's impressions of the walk through campus on a late September day, the sun determined but failing, making him squint but not warm. He tries to know it for what it is: a significant day, a day that will change his life. The building emerges majestically from behind trees and he tries to appreciate it properly; it will be his home from home for three years; it's nearly two hundred years old; it has produced one Nobel Prize winner and any number of other startlingly successful scientists from its ranks. He tries to breathe in the privilege and entitlement that are now his, and all he gets is the fading hint of smoke as the girl on the step throws the butt of her cigarette in a bored arc across his path and into a flower bed. She continues to lean against the heavy wood of the door as though she has nowhere better to be, although the lab coat she wears might suggest this is not the case, and she contemplates him with much the same interest as she has the butt.

This isn't a hook, it's an opening paragraph. There's no hook or twist as there was in the earlier example wherein a first page DID work as a hook. This is just description.

HH Com 630

There have been political controversies before. There have been stories that captured public attention, that have sparked intellectual debate and pandered to prurient curiosity in equal measure. There have been news-cycles that acquire an apparent life of their own, that run and run until everyone around them collapses from exhaustion. There have been wars and abdications, sex-scandals and resignations, but nothing, ever, in the history of man, has carried quite the momentum of the Celthcairn affair. I challenge an atomic bomb to rival its nuisance value.

I enjoyed something of a bird's eye view of the whole affair, as intern at a certain newspaper at the time. Perhaps bird's-eye is not the phrase I'm looking for, unless the bird in question is the one in a cage that is dragged down the mines with the sole contractual duty of dying in the presence of gas. Sometimes it felt a little like that. In any case, my point here is that I had a front-seat, ring-side view of the whole affair and feel that I can usefully discharge my public duty and personal responsibility by shedding much in the way of light upon the events of three years ago. There are of course those who would suggest that I embark upon this exercise for the purposes of self-promotion or publicity-seeking. These could not be further from the mark. It is a journalist's sacred duty that I pursue here. The impartial truth is my only muse.

I'm not sure what this is other than it's not a hook.

HH Com 629

Holly rarely leaves her San Diego apartment and drives over curbs when she does. She visits an electrologist hoping that socializing with someone, anyone, will help her as she reels closer to the edge. Unable to live up to her family’s expectations, Holly is also repulsed by their values. Her younger sisters look down on her.

Holly is thrilled to meet the electrologist, Evalene, who changes the color of her contacts to match her mood of the day and is much freer.

As they become friends, both fall for Jack, a cocky family attorney working for Evalene’s ex in a bitter custody battle. Holly knows Evalene and Jack have slept together, but keeps her own affair with him a secret. He’s too much like her father to be any good for her. Evalene finds out. Enraged, she has a terrible car accident, smashing her ankle. Holly blames herself for upsetting Evalene and is hospitalized for depression.

The women make amends. Holly compares Jack’s misdeeds to her dad’s and is able to start to forgive her father and reenter her sisters’ lives. The two friends drive to Arizona to recover and stop by a revival tent. An evangelist lays hands and heals Evalene. Holly, too, is healed as she realizes that because of Evalene’s belief she could be healed she was. Holly decides that because she now believes she can have a better life, she can have one. She rents a cabin in Tahoe where her sisters will join her.


Comedy, right?

There's only one thing you're missing in this collection of events (besides a coherent plot): this

HH Com 628

WHITEOUT is a completed 100,000 word steamy chick lit novel set in Australia.


What would you do if a suburban gypsy fortune-teller (who is also your nail technician) tells you that the love of your life waits for you at the top of a mountain? If you live in the flattest continent on earth, you might instantly think of world travel. Especially when you're about to finish your Tourism degree and can't wait to join the Mile High Club.

But a friend's engagement in the mountains of Victoria and the groom's lawyer colleague might mean love is a lot closer to home than expected. Or not, as he falls for the Best Friend and Roomie instead.

(your hook starts here)
But when you're down, the only way to go is up, and that's exactly where Melissa Morel is headed when she accepts to work a season in one of Australia's liveliest ski resorts.

She's decided it's time to take luck into her own hands if she wants that perfect career, home and love life by the end of uni. So she puts on her boots, adjusts her goggles and snowploughs down the double diamond black run of Mr. Might-Be-Rights towards her own version of Happy Ever After.

It's the hottest, driest and flattest continent on earth - the perfect place to go skiing!

A little short on plot points and specifics, but you've got a zippy voice and Aussie chix are kick ass by definition so you've got potential here.

HH Com 627

How does an ordinary man stop an extraordinary killer? (snaps the leash back on and hails a cab for home)

That is the crux of the quest that Nick Jones is compelled to take up when the woman he loves, latent telepath Sarah, falls victim to the compulsive killer known as the Beast. Rapidly overpowered in the initial attack, Nick is left critically injured. Forced to endure a brutal and terrifying ordeal of rape and torture, Sarah glimpses the secret that drives the Beast to kill: nourishment - but the Beast is no cannibal. Momentarily sated, the Beast takes Sarah’s life.

As surgeons battle to save Nick, he is fleetingly reunited with Sarah in a near death, out of body experience. As his soul hovers between life and death Sarah shares her insights of the Beast with him. Armed with the knowledge that their paths had crossed in the dense, forbidding jungles of Vietnam; the image of the killer’s face burned into his memory and the knowledge that the Beast is not human; at least not anymore, Nick returns to life to take up his quest to avenge Sarah and stop a terrifying predator.


Oh wait, you didn't mean Killer Yapp did you?

I'm also really really really over VietNam as the source of bloodthirsty criminals. It's not like there haven't been other wars since. How about Grenada?

This is a recitation of the plot, not a hook. It doesn't have anything we all haven't seen too much of before.

HH Com 626

In 1870, the house at the end of Angel Lane took the life of Maryam Carter and the soul of Emma Hopkins. In the autumn of 2006, two of the Bellows children will discover seven journals, and with them the history of misery and death that underlies each stone of their new London home.

From the impressions gathered by seven generations of girls, as they dealt both with the house's influence and such disparate external events as The Blitz and the Swinging Sixties, Gareth and Ocean realize that the house has been affecting the behaviour of their family, and especially that of their older sister, Sybil, who is wasting away.

The two teenagers begin a race for Sybil's life, haunted by the shadows of the eight girls claimed by the house, and not being able to tell whether these apparitions are trying to assist them, or whether they are tools of the house. The sensitive Ocean shares a strange bond with Maryam, the first victim, the strongest of the spirits, and as she and Gareth unearth more and more of the house's secrets, the suspicion grows in her that she may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. (Renovation?)

Creepy house, addlepated ghosts. Yawn.
There's just not anything scary here.
If you write a creepy ghosty book, shouldn't the hook offer up a tidbit of suspense or fear?

HH Com 625

Table-dancing club is the right place to meet the wrong people.

Typical twenty something from a middle class family, Fausta with an unfinished art history degree and a string of loser lovers, fails life par excellence. Moving country and settling in London for her sabbatical year exposes her to horny employers, sperm aftertaste and a passport marriage to Mickie, the crack addicted publisher.

No job is too small for Fausta, who without a work permit, needs to pay off Mickie’s debts. Love is in the air and so is money, when she gets a job at Zsa-Zsa’s, gentlemen’s club, just of Piccadilly Circus. Korean punters are ready to stash cash in her undies, which is enough to make Fausta shiver in her G-string.

Table-dancing club is the right place to meet the wrong people, yet Mr. Right pops out quoting
renaissance biographers and Fausta is smitten off her feet. But, it’s the ‘aristocat’ Polly who picks her up and Fausta’s infatuation with Polly brings a waft of zing to her love life. Until she realises that Mr. Right and Polly are more than just related.

Love, Fausta thinks, should come with an instruction manual.

Graffiti is a 50 000-word offbeat, character driven narrative fiction, aimed at the audience of over 18 year olds. (yea, Grandmother Snark is sure to want it)

You have one good sentence: Table-dancing club is the right place to meet the wrong people.
The rest is pretty zippy writing, but it's about a topic I'm almost as bored with as serial killers. You're going to have to bring something to the ..ahem...table, that gives this fresh persepective.

HH Com 624

Librarian, Adriana Beasely becomes the latest in a long line of unwilling captains, duped by a feisty little ship, named The Ship of Dreams. The sneaky thing promises her adventure, but it comes with a price of blood, which it neglected to mention when it kidnapped her from little ball of blue and white, named Earth.

Hurtling through space towards an unknown future, she is saved by General Ian Blackous whose mission is to return the wayward ship to the rightful owner, the dying Empress Grace.

With a promise to return Adriana to an planet he never heard of and hasn’t a clue where to find, Ian returns to his home planet, Jaruk. They find the world plunged into civil war to seize the throne and destroy the reigning ruler by the High Priests of the Temple of Atthena.

Unknown to the priest’s they are being used by the ship’s original owner to reclaim his creation. The deceitful beast has no problem in destroying one world to retrieve his baby.

An easy victory is assured if Adriana uses the Ship of Dreams but the original owner seizes the citizens of the City of Towers and uses them as hostages. The only way to win is to sacrifices the innocent people of the peaceful city. Adriana refuses to become a killer and resolves to find another solution. She just is sure how.


Given how long this crapometer has been in the works, I'm surprised to find a single mistake in any of the entries.

Mistakes just yank you out of the narrative.

This narrative had enough problems without that.

This is a mess.

HH Com 623

At the start of my 90,000-word thriller, Within Sight of God, detective Michael Gray is under enormous pressure. Five girls have been murdered in a span of six weeks, and another who matches the victim profile is missing. The task force Michael heads has no leads and no suspects. The media hound him, his boss betrays him, his FBI-agent brother offers help in the hope of sharing the spotlight of success but then withdraws to avoid association with Michael’s failure to close the case.

Michael is on the verge of suicide when he meets a priest named Orin Indigo, who provides the keys to set things right in Michael’s life. The priest has uncovered a link between several of the victims through his church and the school programs it runs. The priest has access to an obscure manuscript that may be the blueprint the killer is using to target his victims, to murder them in the ritualistic manner that police have called his signature, and to carefully select the locations where the bodies are discovered. The priest leads Michael to a witness who may know who abducted the missing girl who may be the next victim.

And when the girl is found in the company of reclusive Gabriel Westlake, the priest kills him and vanishes with her. Too late, Michael realizes Indigo had too many answers to be innocent. Now he must save the girl before she becomes the sixth blasphemous sacrifice perpetrated within sight of God.


This is a list of events not a hook. It's also a hodge podge of familiar plot pieces so it feels old and tired.

HH Com 622 (621 is making New Year resolutions)

Annabel Starkey has escaped Liverpool in the industrial North of England and established a sedate, respectable life teaching English at a school in the old University town of Cambridge. When a pupil is found murdered and drained of blood, on school premises, Annabel finds that the darkness in her own past will not stay buried. As the murders continue, she discovers that Jonathan Grey, a friend and fellow teacher, is more than she had thought. Jonathan has been searching for a way to atone for the death of his brother for nearly two centuries, sustained by a monthly ritual celebrated in human blood. And he believes that the murderer is a vampire like himself - but one who lacks his own scruples. As Annabel and Jonathan follow the trail of blood into the darkness buried within an ancient Cambridge college, Annabel discovers that many of the things she had been told about vampires are untrue, but that others fall short of the full reality. Finally faced with by even darker force that uses human suffering and death to power its magics, Annabel and Jonathan find their faith and determination stretched to their limits as they discover that evil lurks in every human heart.


"evil lurks in every human heart" is like saying they discover everyone breathes. True, but pointless. Be specific. You might focus on what the vampires scruples are; I didn't know there were rules. And what did Annabel think that isn't true?

This plot is pretty whiskery; you'd do well to give us something with a fresh perspective.

12.29.2006

HH Com 620

Mary thinks she’s just having a very bad year after her best friend and colleague Jane Clark is murdered just days after Mary’s husband died in an industrial accident. Returning to work as a secretary at Smith and Jones’s law firm, she discovers some files are missing, shortly followed by Jane’s boss Mr. Smith. Clients are murdered and their bodies are left on the steps of the firm’s offices. Mary’s own boss, Mr. Jones, starts to act odder than normal and to top it all someone tries to mow her down on her way home. The police are noticeable by their absence and Mary believes that they are totally clueless.

Mary begins a desperate search for the truth aided by Jane’s nephew Joe, who is the police’s prime suspect in the death of his aunt. As they dig through the layers of lies and deceit, they discover that the killer is a client who is desperate to recover a document from the archive. They also discover that nothing is what it appears to be at the law firm. Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones aren’t exactly lawyers and in fact aren’t even who they say they are.

Too much, too much. Pare down. Start over. Use the XYZ form to figure out what you need to have and leave out the rest.

HH Com 619

Almost eighteen, bubbly Gracie Dawson is happy working in the office of her father’s factory during the week and dressing up as “The Other Gracie” to perform Gracie Fields’ songs and monologues at the weekend. But when World War Two seems imminent, Gracie’s father sends the family away from Liverpool to a cottage in Wales. Life at the "Funk Hole" does not suit Gracie. And when a bull gets friendly in the blackout, she can’t take any more country life. She decides to marry her childhood friend. There has never been more than a kiss between Gracie and Archie but both sets of parents jump to the conclusion Gracie is pregnant. Hurt and angry Gracie doesn’t disillusion them and permission is given for the marriage. Archie tells Gracie they’ll make the lie come true on their honeymoon but they can’t manage to consummate the marriage before he’s called back to the frontline and Gracie has to fake a miscarriage.
Married in name only, she can’t relate to other married women but can’t be one of the girls. With only her husband’s infrequent, but sexy, letters and newly discovered rattling hormones for company, Gracie copes in her own inimitable way with life on the Home Front. Keeping hens seems a good idea until they break wartime regulations. Surely hens can’t be expected to negotiate the blackout curtain into the kitchen? As if the miseries of war aren’t enough, she falls in love with a soldier who isn’t her husband.


This is all set up. To escape life in the country Gracie marries her convenient childhood friend; he's off to war too soon and she falls in love with another guy. Then what? That's the dillemma.

HH Com 618

Devil in the Kitchen

Crime scene investigator Kate Sawchuk doesn't make mistakes. So when the national fingerprint database results come back saying her crime scene prints--found in the victim's still-tacky blood--belong to a man who's been dead for a year, Kate's reputation is on the line.

Professional pride (and not a little pig-headedness) takes her to a biker bar to confront this "dead guy." Logic tells her he must have somehow faked his death, but some things in life can't be explained with logic and evidence, and one of them is Domenic Bonangelo--he's a wendigo, a cannibalistic shapeshifter with a heart of ice. (cause that's so refreshing a change of pace of course)

When a girl is murdered--a girl who, in the dark, could be mistaken for Kate--the body is found, bound and half-naked, in her car. There's a savage bite on her breast, the bruises like a ring of thin purple-blue pearls. The investigation reveals that the killer has raped at least four other girls, all of them bitten as well.

The obvious suspect would be Domenic...if he hadn't been in Kate's bed that night. Her "no mistakes" record is looking pretty piss-poor. (yup, one more strike and yer out)

Thanks to the killer's misdirection, Kate's co-workers, friends, and even her on-again/off-again boyfriend are all suspects. Logic and forensics point one direction, instinct and gut reaction another. The only person she can trust is Domenic, who's become a kind of misguided guardian angel watching over her.

But how far can you trust a monster wearing the face of an innocent boy?

Her boyfriend is a cannibal?
oh man.
oh man.
oh .....ICK.

Troubled woman, bad boyfriend, dead girls...ho hum.

HH Com 617

Miller Sturtevant wants a new house. He’s a handsome and slightly geeky CEO on the verge of a record-breaking IPO and he wants to trade up. Problem is his wife’s fine where they are, and he’s developed an irrational fixation on a gated community called Canaan Cove that’s never once put a house on the market. When a pair of residents die in a suspicious explosion, the neighborhood quickly offers Miller the newly-vacant house.

The moving trucks aren’t gone a week before Miller realizes there’s something’s very strange about his new neighborhood. The weird guardhouse attendant who never takes a day (or night) off, the dog next door that hurls itself against its chain all night long without making a sound, and cryptic, half-whispered mentions of a “machine” all have Miller wondering what the hell his neighbors are really up to. When a violent encounter with Christopher Rounsaville, the crazed President of the Homeowner’s Association, ends in a broken nose and a not-so-veiled reference to Miller’s role in Rounsaville’s mysterious plan, Miller’s suddenly thinking of ways out of Canaan. He soon discovers, however, that his captors have thought of everything. They need him for something and they’re not taking their eyes off him for a second.

A handwritten note promising a chance for escape changes everything. Soon after, Miller is immersed into a world of cults, murderous zealots, ritualized violence, and alternate dimensions that will reveal the terrible path Miller must travel to finally escape from Canaan Cove."

Hotel California meets The Shining.

Creepy house, creepy neighbors.....been there, done that. There's nothing that elevates this beyond everything else out there in the creepy zip code.

HH Com 616

Dorothy Abramson has been a fag hag as long as she can remember. In college, she played sidekick to the most flamboyant boys on campus, and in high school, she outed the school quarterback. Even as a kid, she and her father bonded over their love of Broadway musicals.

In many ways, Dorothy's life has been too fabulous for words -- great friends, better lovers, and plenty of high-grade cocaine. But that's only half the story: whether they walk out in anger, marry their lovers, or slit their wrists, Dorothy's beloved boys have a nasty habit of leaving her rejected and alone. Through it all, Dorothy faces her trauma with wry humor and an inexhaustible flair for the dramatic -- but when her own son abandons her to go live with his gay father, she realizes it will take more than dry wit and drier martinis to get her through the ultimate heartbreak.

Darkly humorous with tragic overtones, SEX, DRUGS, AND SHOWTUNES is an 83,000 word faux-memoir detailing the glamorous life of a girl who follows her heart to the wrong side of the rainbow.

faux memoir? holy freytag, herr batman.

There's no plot of course, and this woman sounds weird and not in a good way.
Who's the audience for this?

HH Com 615

3AM, May 26, 1896.
Walter Wilson, Turner Junction town constable, dreams vividly of the Civil War. His dreams are interrupted by Jacob Kress pitching pieces of gravel at his window. Jacob tells Walter of a young hobo who has been killed at the local rail yards. Walter has to draw up an accident report. At the yards Walter recognizes the victim, but says nothing about it for deeply personal reasons. Missing is an object in a case the size of an elongated bread box which Walter knows the hobo had in his possession. Walter makes his report, and goes home to Helen, his unmarried daughter, and his grandson, who the town thinks is Helen’s illegitimate son.

Although Walter lives in a railroad town, he has a train phobia that makes him wish he were mushing huskies in Saskatchewan every time he hears the announcement “All abooooard!”

Local priest Father Ambrose Renaitre interrupts Walter’s dreams at 2AM on the new-fangled telephone with the news that the hobo, recently buried in the cemetery across the street from the parsonage, has been dug up.

A drifter comes to Turner, rents out the upstairs room of Walter’s house, and develops a friendship with Helen Wilson which bothers Walter almost as much as trains do. Under the drifter’s bed is the case which Walter had expected the dead hobo to have.

Sometime later, before sundown, at a local tavern, the daughter of the tavern keeper overhears a conversation at a table. She tells her father, who checks the men’s wagon and finds picks, shovels and a tarpaulin. The events that follow become known locally as "Richard's Riot."

This isn't a hook, it's a series of events. There's no suspense left.

HH Com 614

Just paperwork, the shrink says. No people, no photos.

It's not like I'm going to see a lot of action shooting a crime scene. Worst that can happen is I slip on a bloodstain or stick myself on some junkie's needle. Or die of boredom flipping through 10-cards to match a print.

I'll be fine, I tell her. Everything's come back except those couple of weeks right around my car accident, and that's normal, right? I only lapse into Ukrainian when I'm overtired, I've prepared a talk for the brain injury society. And I've almost cured myself of touching the scar by my eye every twenty seconds like some obsessive-compulsive nutjob.

Fine. Jesus. Who am I kidding? I'm sitting here nodding and smiling while the oriental rug keeps trying to be muddy green water. I can feel the hot throb in my head, like a bullet's just slammed into the base of my skull. I can feel the rocking, lapping pull of the waves, the scuff of mud and weeds beneath me, my life leaking away.

The thing is, none of that stuff ever happened--at least not to me. I don't know who this guy is, but I know the nape of his girlfriend's neck smells like cinnamon. I know someone blew his brains out and dumped his body in water, but I have no idea why.

And I have no clue how or why his memories are in my head.


oh crap, remember how I absolutely insisted that first person didn't work in a hook (I think I might have even said ever); and of course this IS a first page probably, and yes, there's not an antagonist or plot in sight....yea well...too bad. Of course I'm going to read this. Why? I want to find out what happens. Bottom line for a hook: does it make me want to read it. You can violate every rule in the book but if it works, I read it. The template I've been yapping about is a tool, not a solution. You use it to get oriented, figure out what you need. If it helps you great, but don't be a slave to it. This works, and this is no more XYZ than Miss Snark is 201.

HH Com 613

In a typical suburb anywhere on earth, nothing of interest happens, usually. In Kas’s life, though, a lot changes in a very short time. He thought he was a normal Dutch school kid, until he bumps into a man he wasn’t supposed to see. Now the man, who who doesn’t bother much with pesky thing like consciences, is after him in an attempt to save his job. To make it worse, Kas’s house burns down, his parents get hurt and he has to move to the States.

A talent Kas’s always held close and quiet turns out to be more common than he thought, and makes him eligible for recruitment by the Soul Viewers, be it with honey or with vinegar. Away from his friends and family, there is preciously little in the way of help or comfort, or even sanity, to be had. His cousins help him as well as they can, but they are not aware of the danger. His world is starting to look more and more like his favourite computer game, and he has no idea how to turn it all back.

This is a description of your idea. It's not a hook. Start over.

HH Com 612

""There's too little blood in the bitch! Too little to have a bath in!" it is a primal, Neanderthal shriek, reeking of fury, vomiting gases of insanity." This is how my first novel 'The Necessary Man' begins.

The story is about a Special Forces soldier who lives in a time when all the world is a giant reality show and the most popular show is about war. He has a (His) cold, devious boss who treats him like an action doll to be manipulated – including engineering for him to suffer the
death of his wife, "The hummingbird wings buzz of the pulse guns throbbed and blood and bone flew. And injured, dying, Grrurn's eyes caught Gavvy and even in the desolate loneliness of that moment, cold calculating evil streamed out and slammed into Gavuscer, Grrurn roared
in rage, "You pay for it traitor! You pay for it!""

Finally the soldier is pushed to vengeance and destroys the way his world functions in a massacre high up in the 'Death Zone' on Everest. As a punishment he is sent to a time when the world has become a single, universal consciousness – here, he is forced to confront all
his own demons.

The Necessary Man is speculative fiction and is complete at 399 pages and 104,549 words. As smooth and slippery as slate with the whiplash blood-spray of a slit throat, the novel uses a combination of verse, interviews and straight third person narrative to tell the story.


This isn't a hook and the writing is fat. Ditch all the stuff in red and compare to see how you need to whip this into shape. Don't worry about your hook; clean up your book. If the hook is fat, the book most likely is too.

HH Com 611

Playing bocce and drinking beer in late August 2791, Kimo Levernson invites buddy Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney to join him for a weekend trip to Nantes 1847. Along the way, their time machine runs out of yogurt, causing them to stall out on Interyear-5. Kimo and Dick stumble around, find a bar, and drink themselves sick. Soon Dick wakes from his stupor to find that Kimo and the time machine are missing and he is in the Nixon administration.


Recalling his father’s lectures on the terrible no good Gore presidency—the source of all suffering in the world after national treasure Paris Hilton was vaporized in a freak time travel accident—Cheney realizes he has an opportunity to change history. If he can insure Gore loses the 2000 race, he can guarantee that 770 years later, he will never have to endure dad’s rants.


Excited that he has finally found his life's calling, Cheney dedicates the next thirty years to the task. Will the assistance of alien pinochle player Donald Rumsfeld be enough? Or will he have to enlist both foul-mouthed mob boss Ralph Nader and the secretly Republican robot Joseph Lieberman? And what does the Iran-Contra scandal have to do with any of this?


oh dear dog, this IS funny.
It's not exactly a hook, and dog knows it's all going to come down to the entire novel not just the first pages, but hell yes I'd read this, if only as the antitode to ...um...other stuff.

HH Com 610

The Raptor

The boy was buried nearby, and she would find him. She stood on the bluff overlooking a field of wild grass. A dry wind whipped her hair into her eyes, but she didn’t move. She wasn't looking at anything. Her mind was blank, absorbing the sounds and scent around her. Grass swished, a bird shrieked, and from not too far away came the steady sound of traffic on a highway.

After a while she spread her blanket on the ground, lay on it and closed her eyes. Her heart pounded, but soon it would slow and sleep would claim her– and in doing so, would set her mind free.

The ground beneath her was ancient. The Indians called it sacred land Blood had soaked it in the past; blood from tribal wars, from massacres and from hunts. But the earth had not yet been sated. Blood still soaked the ground. She could feel it. It was a strange and terrible certainty.

She shifted, thoughts flitting through her mind. She could sense the policemen standing nearby, just out of sight. She chased those thoughts away and concentrated. There had to be an echo here, an echo of murder. There had to be…she felt it now. The bones in her forearms suddenly started to vibrate. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. She knew she was asleep—at least part of her mind realized she'd fallen asleep. The other part of her mind blinked and woke up.


This isn't a hook, it's a first page. Usual instructions.

HH Com 609

Sometimes, civilization is only a mask for the beast behind it. (sometimes? what is it the other times?)

Years ago, Daene reluctantly left her husband and son behind and returned to Eluhu society. It was the only thing she could do to avoid a war between her people and her Orc husband’s tribe. Now, war has come regardless, and she has to make a choice about which side she's on.

Nemerenth is sure that he believes his brother Iyan is doing what is right by stealing the king's throne; after all, their people were oppressed by the Humans once, weren't they? Taking back the Northern continent in the name of the Eluhu is simply the natural progression of things. Isn't it?

Orc chieftain Yu Ruo once watched his wife leave in order to save him and their son. He has always wished he could change the past. Now he has a chance not only to get her back, but to aid her in her stand against the advancing Eluhu army. But will her return be worth the necessary sacrifice?

Iyan wants nothing more than to see the Eluhu race triumph again. With Humans on the run and Orcs scattered throughout inhospitable lands, he very well may succeed. Though...what does a man do after he achieves his goals? And how should he deal with those of his own race who oppose him?

A story of revenge, racial tension and hope unfolds against the backdrop of a rich, vivid world where savages can be noble…and nobles can be savage.

Busy and bland.
Too many names, too much of what we've seen a zillion times before.
Time to think of something where noble savage doesn't even occur to you.

HH Com 608 (607 is reading Against the Day--still)

Sara wouldn’t hurt a bug. In fact, she shakes her bedsheets out each night to save the spiders that seem to crawl inside. So when Sara learns she’s pregnant, she knows she must escape; otherwise she’ll be forced to surrender her baby to the government. Sara is clone, and a slave of the Andrida colony. (what does this---> have to do with her pregnancy?) Every day before working the mines, she gets a shot of Velo-3. Without it, the defect planted in her chromosome tips would unleash accelerated aging, hastening her death.

Sara secures passage to a refuge, posing as the Olive family’s new servant -- but the wife doesn’t want her around because she has a few secrets herself. There’s also a military man on board, escorting valuable cargo – the antidote to Sara’s chromosome defect – but he’s leering at Sara and seems to know her lie. Sara knows if she can fool them until they reach her refuge, everything will be all right.

But her escape goes awry when the ship crashes in a place where fact and imagination are blurred, Sara’s thoughts and fears played out by holographs, indistinguishable from reality. At the edge of sanity, Sara disables the holographic device, resulting in an unexpected revelation, and a choice: freedom in complete isolation, or return to slavery. It is through the struggle of this choice that Sara learns another side to the value of freedom.


Well this is an interesting idea but you've got too much going on for a hook. She's a clone, she gets pregnant, she has to escape. Then start. And why is it that she just happens to need the very antidote being carried on this ship.

HH Com 606

Jihyun Cho will be executed today. She was given the opportunity to save herself; all she had to do was to profess her loyalty, and sacrifice herself for the Dear Leader. Instead, she decided to grasp the only thing she had left-- her free will.

Framed in her execution, A Leaf in the Wind chronicles the life story of North Korean political prisoner, Jihyun Cho. As the daughter of a party official, Cho had a privileged life: the best education, choice employment and party membership. She reveled in this worker’s paradise. She turned a blind eye to the inconsistencies in the government’s façade that had been built through propaganda.

When faced with famine and economic hardship in the mid-1990s, she decided to flee the country with her family. While crossing the border into China, her husband and son were killed; Cho was captured and sent to a political prison. There, for the first time, she saw through the lies that had been fed to her throughout her life.

(^---your hook ends here)
At 78,000 words, A Leaf in the Wind provides an epic tale of trial and sacrifice, set against the backdrop of the greatest atrocities in present day North Korea. The novel strikes a tone somewhere between Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Orwell’s 1984. As a former military analyst and Korean linguist, I have unique insight into this topic that is just beginning to capture the world’s attention.

Great first line.
Then you drop off into business as usual.
Give us specifics and detail.

HH Com 605

Scholar and seducer, Thomas Lovell is young, ambitious and a little too clever for his own good. Whilst such failings are not uncommon in the penniless nephews of great men -particularly those with determined mothers - when the great man in question is the Sorcerer Duke, ruthless master of court intrigue, practitioner of arcane arts and focus of implacable enemies, the danger increases exponentially. A wise nephew would curb his ambition. But Thomas, though clever, is not yet wise. Whether he will grow old enough to grow wise, or grow wise enough to grow old, is, as yet, uncertain.

(your hook starts here)
With his finger in a dozen dangerous pies and his boots passing beneath nearly as many rumpled beds, Thomas finds he is caught in a web of deception spinning far beyond his control. Outplayed by his victims, humiliated by his latest conquest and harassed by his family, he at last understands that he is a pawn in a game with opaque rules and nasty consequences. And most dangerous of all, he is about to fall in love.


I'd need more specifics about the plot to get hooked on this.

HH Com 604

Blood in rain. Corpses in an alley. A smoking gun in a frightened man's hand. Max can't help but wonder how the hell he got into this mess.

The answer, of course, is True Love. What other good reason could there be for killing not just one but four people mere hours after having picked up a gun for the first time in one's life? It doesn't matter that True Love was first spotted through an open window making out with another woman. It doesn't matter that True Love in makes porn movies for a living. Nor does it matter that True Love turns very expensive tricks for nefarious clients on the side.

All that matters is that True Love disappeared after scrawling one last, desperate note to be delivered under a loaf of garlic bread, along with keys to a brand new convertible and a warning to head for Alaska as quickly as possible.

Max, however, has other plans. He's not going anywhere until he finds out the truth about what happened to his True Love and brings her back alive. Besides, he's a writer, so he knows that all fairy tale love stories must end with the hero and heroine living happily ever after together… don't they?

Sex. Violence. A steamer trunk.

"Blue." It's a fairy tale.


oh yea.

Why this works: it's got energy. It's funny in a sardonic way. It breaks every rule with a sneer. What's not to love.

HH Com 603

80,000 words

“No secret can be kept, except by the grave.”
(Tanzanian folk wisdom)

When the body of Thadeus Karamaji, Dar es Salaam’s most despicable professor, is found under the tire of a colleague’s car, silence greets his murder. But some secrets reach beyond the grave.

Haunted by her own husband’s death in Tanzania years before, anthropologist Sarah Bedford has returned to bury her past. Now, driven by her friendship with Karamaji’s widow, she risks her new life to unearth the truth – both about Karamaji’s murder and her ownpainful history.

Sarah collides with Gideon Bazuka, the hard-working Tanzanian detective assigned to the investigation. Ordered by corrupt superiors to make the problem disappear, Bazuka labors to close a murder no one wants solved. In their search for answers, Sarah and Bazuka struggle with their diverse cultures, traditions, and expectations, often joined only by a shared sense of justice.

But justice isn’t always straightforward. Extramarital affairs, a blackmail operation, and enough victims of Karamaji’s backstabbing to fill several graves. Who didn’t want him dead and his secrets buried? Colleagues, girlfriends, crooked politicians, and even his wife had motive.

Under blistering African skies, Sarah and Bazuka face death while tracking a killer through Dar es Salaam’s winding streets and dusty neighborhoods. Will their
pursuit lead them to the grave?

Ditch everything in red. And give us something other than the usual hardworking detective beset by higher ups and multiple motives. Even in Tanzania, that's old hat.