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Hook 64
Genre: Urban supernatural fantasy
When the repo man shows up to snatch her dead grandfather's Cadillac, Eunice "Bug" Smoot is shocked to learn that a) the repo man is actually a demon and b) her grandfather, Papa C, financed the car by selling his immortal soul to the Devil. The problem is, Papa C is hiding out in the afterlife, refusing to relinquish the collateral.

Bug resists the repo demon with the help of her new boyfriend, Pesto Tavares, and his extended family. Together, they try to find a way for Bug to keep the Cadillac and to free Papa C of his debt. But the sales contract is air-tight, except for a challenge clause that pits Bug in direct competition with Lucifer himself. The stakes? If Bug loses the challenge, she forfeits her own soul. Set in El Paso during Halloween and Día de los Muertos, SOUL TACO, is the story of a sassy girl, supernatural beings, bi-national culture, and of course, love.
While I find parts of this hook amusing, I’m having trouble sympathizing with a heroine who would fight a life-and-death battle with Lucifer over something as insignificant as a car. Especially considering that her dead grandfather can no longer drive it. Speaking of the dead grandfather, how can someone “hiding out in the afterlife” refuse to relinquish a car? You’d think Papa C would be more concerned with reclaiming his own soul.
Hook 65
Genre: Fantasy with Romantic Elements (Heck, just call it paranormal romance)
Twenty years ago, the swampy air swallowed Jackie Kelleher. She left behind her daddy's cut up bones, her granddaddy's shoeless corpse, and the mud Mike Chase saw her track onto her front porch after he kissed her goodnight.
Attorney Michael Chase hadn't set foot in the Kelleher shack since Sheriff Barnes took him to see the crime scene two decades ago. Nobody could scare an explanation out of him then. God knows he wishes he didn't have an explanation now.
Now Jackie's reappeared in Cross Hollow as if she'd never left it -- claiming she's guilty of a crime she would never have committed. Hell is coming to play judge, jury and if Michael fails in pleading Jackie's case, executioner. Hers. His. Everyone who knew her before the day she disappeared from her old life.
This may very well be a good story, but I can’t tell for sure from the hook. Sheriff Barnes doesn’t really deserve a mention in here, and his presence is taking up precious wordcount that could have gone to further entice me. I’m not sure if Hell is a character, or just a reference to…something scary and vague. I like the idea of a girl disappearing into the swamp only to show up years later claiming to be guilty of something horrible. But if she’s claiming guilt, why would Mike want to defend her? My suggestion would be to take anything confusing out of the hook, even if the story itself explains things well. If I can’t understand the hook, I won’t read the book.
Hook 69
When Tamicus meets King Aleron, the boy longs to leave his life of begging and be with the king. After following Aleron through the streets of Celmor, Tamicus is noticed by Aleron and taken into the King's House. Tamicus learns of the ambitions of King Aleron to stop the battles with neighboring country Nazobi and end the reign of kings in Celmor to establish a new government. But the Nazobians and the king's own soldiers fight against the changes. Tamicus is forced into the chaos and conflict of the two countries as the King's House is torn apart by the traitorous soldiers and murderous Nazobians. Amid the confusion and violence, Tamicus must discover who he is and what he needs to fight for.
In spite of the strange names and ubiquitous fantasy-land large-scale battle, I can find no real information in this. It’s full of motivations I don’t understand and characters I don’t know. Maybe a little less unfamiliar politics and a little more characterization? Ultimately, this sounds too much like most fantasy and nothing here compels me to read more. Try showcasing what’s unique about your novel, rather than what’s already been done.
Hook 70
Genre: Young Adult
In 1997, undeclared German major Gretchen Giffen thinks she's read enough self-help books—including the Bible—and devoured enough romance novels to know how life works. After she’s elected co-chair of the Fellowship of Christian Students by those who mistook her natural reserve and skill at parroting “churchspeak” for towering faith, Gretchen vows to work hard to please the God she sees as demanding and distant. The problem is, she can’t seem to stop “sinning against her body” when she reads those bodice-rippers.
When transfer student Connor Whitaker sweeps in with a hard-luck story and “me against the world” attitude, Gretchen eagerly accepts the new gospel he presents: God doesn’t care about sex, so live it up. Gretchen expects a little twinge of guilt to follow her first time—as Connor says, overcoming cultural conditioning’s not easy—but nothing like the conviction that floods in. Either the Bible had it right after all, or she’s as damaged and neurotic as Connor claims. Hoping for the former, she breaks up with him and confesses her indiscretion to the FCS leaders, who shun her. God forbid her ultra-conservative family back in California ever find out.
Though deeply hurt by the shunning, Gretchen remains inexplicably drawn to spiritual things. As winter turns into spring, she joins a sorority, discovers a passion for teaching, and even rekindles things with Connor when he returns from boot camp in the fall. With the promise of a wedding in December 1999, Gretchen moves in with Connor after graduation until her betrayal finally ends their rocky relationship. When she goes home to be a bridesmaid in her younger sister’s wedding, family confrontations open the question: Can one who willfully rejected God ever be forgiven? And is it too late to pursue a career as a German teacher?
I don’t think the years are relevant in the hook, nor am I sure why the story needs to be set a decade in the past. Not much has changed since then, except for some cultural references which will only make the story sound dated. Also, I’d have liked a better genre explanation. I know it’s YA, but that’s not really a genre. Is this Christian fiction? Is Gretchen supposed to be rediscovering her faith, or deciding that she doesn’t need it? And I don’t understand why it would ever be too late to pursue a career as a German teacher. This meanders a bit too much for me, and I’m not sure what the goal of the story is.
Hook 71
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Son of a successful fashion designer, Ian Harrington was born into the world of the rich and shameless. The 19 year-old blames himself and his father for his mother's death, and flees London to his mother's native Toronto to escape a deepening rift with his English family. Beautifully blond, tall and slender, the shy guitarist hides his pain behind pale blue eyes, privately numbing the guilt which has followed him across the ocean.
Ian meets the lovely, charming Sarah, a singer and music business insider who falls hard for the gifted songwriter. Determined to forge a future with him personally and professionally, she introduces him to her father, a rock and roll producer who is always on the look-out for new talent. Before long, Ian starts a band with Sarah, finding focus, friends and romance in the lively, turbulent rock music world of the late 1970s. However, his past cannot be escaped so easily, and Ian is constantly beset by the demons of his early life. When Sarah uncovers his addiction and confronts him with her findings, Ian's self-destructive behaviour escalates, and the burden of hiding old secrets threatens everything the band members have ever desired.
Not bad. The writing is smooth and I see no real problems with this hook. However, I don’t see anything particularly original or compelling in it either. Fortunately, good writing sometimes trumps all. Best of luck with this.
Hook 72
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hook for [Redacted]:
Ever had your memories and superpowers mysteriously stolen from you, forcing you into an early retirement? Teresa "Trance" West doesn't recommend it. After muddling through her (lack of love) life without goal or game plan for fifteen years, both powers and memories return in a moment of blinding pain and panic. Getting it all back when her life's in the crapper should feel like a blessing, but it doesn't. She used to be a plain-Jane, below-average telepath. Now her eyes are purple, her hair is streaked violet, and she can create powerful energy orbs by snapping her fingers.
Shorted tip money, behind on the rent, and sporting someone else's superpowers, Teresa doesn't think her night can get any more complicated. Then Gage McAllister shows up in living, sexy color. Another reactivated hero, Teresa is instantly attracted to his silver eyes, super-enhanced senses, and ability to make her heart race with a smile. With visions of sweaty bed sheets dancing in her head, she leaves the city with Gage, who is hell bent on tracking down more of their former teammates. Dodging both deadly attacks from a telekinetic villain and her own growing attraction to Gage, Teresa is plagued by headaches, cramps and violent energy bursts. With a killer after them, it's bad enough that she has to learn control over her new powers. Now it appears that she's allergic to them, too.
Hmmm. This isn’t bad. Sounds like a cross between The Incredibles and Playing With Fire. Not wholly original, but possibly fun. However, I’d like to know why their powers came back so suddenly—or at least that they’re trying to find that out—and why the bad guys are after them. Assuming the book itself contains those answers, I’d probably read more. Hook #72, you are moving on to the Pages round!
Hook 73
The orphaned Almer recently won his spurs and became a knight. Now, he is running for his life. Shortly after being introduced to his family, Almer has been accused by his cousins of assassinating their grandfather, Pierre Plantanet, the king of Gévaudan. The Holy Brotherhood of the Sword, the order of knights that raised Almer, has been betrayed by the church and scattered. Many of them have been rounded up for execution.
Almer has sworn to find his grandfather’s killer and clear his name. Even if it means he has to raise an army and take the crown of Gévaudan for himself. The only help Almer can rely on is Mordecai, a renegade elf, and Nekt, a young warrior from the rat-like garri. Standing in his way are his cousins: Ganelon, the newly crowned king, and Ghislan, one of Almer’s fellow Swordbrothers. Standing with them are the ambitious knight, Remy, and Abd-Al-Aziz, a sorcerer from a distant land.
Between garri visions, Mordecai’s remembrances of a world long vanished, and his own misgivings, Almer has questions. Who really loosed the arrow that killed his grandfather? Wounds heal at his touch, beasts speak to him, is he in danger of loosing his soul as a sorcerer? What secrets of the past has the church kept hidden? Are he and his friends pawns to forces that have been at war since the beginning of the world?
Okay, you’ve given us plenty of plot and action, and that’s good. Unfortunately, several of the plot points and characters sound pretty clichéd, and I’d rather see a new twist on them instead of the same old assassinated-king, evil sorcerer, and orphan-who’s-really-royalty. This doesn’t stand out much from the other fantasy stories already out there.
Hook 74
Science Fiction
Teriel has a reputation as the best Retriever in the bounty hunter guild, even if he's known to have a cold personality. He may not have any friends, but he does have his coworkers' respect and has turned down nominations for guild presidency three years running. Most guild members assume it's because the current president is his former mentor, but that's only part of the reason.
The real reason is that hunting down his brother is at the top of Teriel's to-do list. However, crossing that item off is made difficult by his brother disappearing into the galaxy-spanning Eksezi Corporation. The Corporation and Teriel have had several encounters over the years, and the Corporation has always come out on the short end of them. They have reciprocated by putting Teriel on their own lists, and the price beside his picture isn't for making his acquaintance.
Teriel does have one secret he guards well: in his off time, he makes illicit humanitarian-aid runs past stubborn planetary governments. Because of his fear of someone finding out and destroying his reputation, he has no partner, and never allows anyone else aboard his ship. On one fateful humanitarian mission, however, he's forced to break that self-made rule after landing on the breakfast of a duquine. The two-horned, horselike creature has not only an attitude but secrets of her own, and as they're revealed Teriel realizes that his brother and the Eksezi Corporation are more tightly coupled than he thought. As he forms a wary friendship with the duquine, he's forced to decide what really matters in life, and learns that sometimes trust and love are the only currency that matters. Unfortunately, he also learns that jealousy can sometimes trump even old friendships.
On the bright side, I feel like I know quite a bit about Teriel from this hook. He’s a good guy, but is still flawed. That’s good. But the hook itself is wordy and a bit awkward, which makes me worry that the story will be too.
Hook 75
Giulia Russo, ex-nun and PI-in-training, has a stalker to catch. People open up to her, and her previous ten years in the convent gave her a keen sense of right and wrong. Trouble is, they also made her cherish privacy. Till now she’s rationalized working for a snoop by focusing on all the good she’s done for Frank Driscoll’s clients.
A client cozies up to Giulia and Frank completely misinterprets the situation. Packages from the stalker appear in Giulia’s mailbox.
Afraid to sleep, Giulia begins living on espresso. She has no human to turn to--her family disowned her when she jumped the wall. Frank shuns her. She can’t find refuge in God—she feels naked at Mass without a habit and avoids church.
Her conscience gleefully torments her when she reads the files on the stalkers. She has to know who’s after her, but she’s surrendered a lifetime’s values to a temporary fear. When a naked Barbie doll with its throat slit arrives, she has to choose. She can keep her principles and hope they’ll stop a knife.
Or she can betray herself.
I like the idea of an ex-nun PI. It has the potential for some good humor, or at least a lot of angst. However, I’m put off by some punctuation problems in this one, one of which caused me some confusion in the fifth sentence, which seems blunt and somehow disconnected from the rest of the hook. Also, why is a PI searching for a stalker? Isn’t that a job for the police department? And if not, who hired Guilia? Finally, I don’t understand her choice at the end—what principles are we talking about, and how would she be betraying herself?
Hook 76
Urban Fantasy (Adult)
On a flight to Ireland , Sean Kelley’s father, who’s been dead for a week, tells him about the troubles Sean will face by bringing his ashes home. A flight attendant shakes him awake, abruptly cutting their discussion before he could be properly warned.
Unbeknownst to Sean, two thugs, Rook and Flannery, are waiting to intercept him at the airport and take him to their mysterious employer. That is, they would have if Interpol hadn’t put Kelley’s name on a “Detain for Questioning” list. Sean is whisked away to answer some very unsettling questions posed by Inspector Ling about his father and why he fled the country over thirty years before.

Elsewhere, a young woman journeys to a hidden cave to awaken the bound Erlking, who can feel the return of someone who can release him. If he’s released, the Wild Hunt may ride the nights again, wreaking the havoc and mayhem that for which it’s renowned.
The first sentence grabbed my attention and showed a great instinct for surprising the reader. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. I like the implied mystery, but I also want to know (briefly) how the young woman and the Erlking (whatever that is) connect to Sean and his dead father. And what on earth is the Wild Hunt? A little mystery is good. Confusion is just frustrating.
Hook 77
Fantasy (light)
More than 2000 years ago, Levi was born twisted, deformed, so broken his own father ordered him taken to a field and left to die. 900 years ago Harold, a Christian emperor in the Middle East , wrote a letter, pleading for military help that never arrived. Nearly 500 years ago, Johnny sought the Fountain of Youth, putting his life and reputation on the line, both of which were stripped from him when history recounts he was shot by Calusa Indians and taken to Cuba where he died among strangers.
But today, in the 21st century, Levi is alive, his back straight, his heart at ease with his fate as a man Jesus healed—if too well. Harold survived the Crusades, partook of his kingdom's eternal springs, and lives still, teetering on the edge of sanity as he flees from unseen and perhaps imaginary enemies. And Johnny, having discovered the legendary waters, never died, yet was forced to give up his old life and begin again amid a people he hardly knew, people who, by their own struggles to survive, would remind him daily of the sins of the conquistadors. Although not quite immortals, these are men—at times blessed, at others cursed—with inordinately long lives that can only be cut short by unnatural deaths.
And now a very old friend is on his way to fulfill a centuries-old oath, even if it means killing the only man left alive who shares his memories of the Calusa, his adopted family. All of their lives, including the mortals who know their true stories, are forever intertwined as they serve as each other's confidants, confessors, and saviors. They discover that the greatest gift is not immortality, but the ability to die—especially for someone else.
I like the writing on this one and would probably read on. However, based on the hook alone, it doesn’t feel very “light.”
Hook 78
Genre: Young Adult
Hook for "[Redacted]"
Seventeen-year-old Scott Kadinero is beginning his senior year of high school and has always lived – happily, he believes – in his popular twin sister Stacy's shadow. Stacy and their older brother, Vince, are his support in his family, and Scott is looking forward to following Vince to college and escaping the violence of their home.
When Stacy is blinded in a freak accident in the chemistry lab, Scott is left to navigate their senior year alone. Blind Stacy is different than confident Stacy, and Scott has a difficult time reconciling the two. He struggles with feeling responsible for her while dealing with his brother's absence, his father's aggression, his mother's excuses and a blossoming romance with an old friend.
As graduation approaches, Stacy has tentatively settled into her new challenges and Scott has begun to imagine life after high school. During an after-prom party, Scott is involved in a fist-fight with a classmate. When the police bring him home, a brutal argument with his father, Jerry, ensues, and Scott flees the house. This sets into motion a chain of events which will change Scott's family, and his life, forever.
My novel, "Blind Spot," touches on Stacy's accident and her family's adjustment to it, but it's also about the ongoing and subtle abuse that Scott and Vince have been taking from Jerry their whole lives. Out of the family home and touched by tragedy, Vince tries to discover why Jerry was so physically and verbally abusive to his sons and why no one – not their mother, Fran, nor Fran's sister, Cindy -- tried to stop him. Scott, however, would rather put the whole thing out of his mind. As Vince digs deeper, Scott is left to wonder who he might be, if he's neither Stacy's twin nor his father's defective son.
I like the angst and complicated characters in this one, and I see no obvious problems with the writing. However, the hook itself reads more like a synopsis. Still, I’d probably read more.
Hook 80
Sidhe Prince, Hawthorne Trenor, is approaching his ascendance to a throne he has no interest in holding as well as monitoring and inspiring his first Charge as a Muse for the Human Evolutionary Initiative. While he is learning the ropes of his Muse duties, his mother, the Queen, assigns Thorne to an investigation into suspicious activity in the realm known as the Exiled Plane where souls of fallen angels and faeries are sent to spend eternity as punishment for their crimes.
Someone has initiated contact with the ousted former King Reagan Fenrir. He was sent to the Exiled Plane for killing his successor and Thorne’s father, King Malcolm Trenor, as well as carrying out what was known as The Deception, a time when the Sidhe allowed humans to worship them as gods.
But the Exiled Plane isn’t alone in its troubles. In the human world, Thorne may be falling for his first Charge since assuming his Muse responsibilities and risks being stripped of his power. Meanwhile, the investigation into the disturbances on the Exiled Plane uncovers illegal contact with the former King Fenrir, which threatens to bring his soul back to sentience. Driven by his hunger to return to Faery, King Fenrir, known as the Black Sovereign after his exile finds a loophole in the relationship between the Human Evolutionary Initiative and their human Charges as a possible way to find a body for himself and perhaps hundreds of his exiled brethren. The test subject is Valentina Parrera: art student, Charge and subject of growing interest to Thorne and the Black Sovereign and the perfect tool to exact his long awaited revenge.
I love the idea of a male muse inspiring a Charge. Love it. But what on earth is the Human Evolutionary Initiative? This hook is a bit complicated, but I like the story it outlines. My only problem with it is that sidhe royalty feels overdone to me.
Hook 81
Genre: Mystery
Ditzy dog catcher, Meg Carligle is broke and behind on her rent and with a houseful of wayward pups, she needs to come up with some cash and fast. When she stumbles across the dead body of dog-lover, Stan Polesky, she knows he won't mind if she borrows a few bucks. Leaving an IOU behind, she never imagines it will be traced back to her and lead everyone in the small town of Rumor , Alabama to believe she's a cold-blooded killer.
To complicate matters, the mystery man she's been dogging for his blatant disregard of leash laws, as well as her authority, is the lead detective investigating Polesky's murder. Top cop, Nick Steele, seems determined to find enough evidence to make the murder charge stick. Making matters worse, Meg finds herself drawn to him like a hound dog on the scent of a juicy T-bone. Fighting her conflicting emotions as well as a murder charge, Meg begins her own investigation into the retired librarian’s death. But with her freedom as well as her love-life at stake will she find the killer in time?
I see no problems with the writing, but I already dislike the heroine. I have a feeling I won’t like a heroine even the author describes as “ditzy,” and I can’t help thinking she’s even less intelligent than that adjective implies if she thought it was okay to steal from a corpse and is then surprised when she’s fingered as the killer. Sorry, but this doesn’t work for me at all, in spite of promising writing.
Hook 82
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Every child on Novi grows up knowing they will be Matched with their perfect affinity group. Life is good and it’s been good for over a hundred years. But someone is trying to rig the Match, and the Compact of Humanity wants to know why this planet is so inhumanly peaceful.
Stella plans to go to the Match like her parents before her; Max plans to twist the Match for his own purposes, and Jerzy plans to file a routine report and return to active duty. All three have forgotten that the Matcher makes the rules.
I want to know a little more about each of the characters. Something to tell us not only what they plan to do, but who they are. I won’t feel compelled to read on if I don’t feel like I know at least one of the characters.

We may be posting more later today, so stay tuned! :)


( 107 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 19th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re-posted as I'm a twonk who can't type good or spell good
I'm pretty much in agreement with the judge re Hook 76, although I thought it worked right up until the final paragraph. If it had stayed with Shane but woven in the Wild Hunt then I'd have been sold. I'd assumed that the Wild Hunt was drawing on the old UK/German folklore (namely it's ghosts/demons/the Devil/faeries hunting the living). I only know that because I've got a short story bubbling that riffs on that concept and Wikipaedia had a good section on it for v. basic research.

(Does anyone else go through a mental rendition of Rowan & Martin's 'Here Come Da Judge' when they get to the comments section on each hook?)
Apr. 19th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think Hook 64 is the strongest out of this lot, not to knock 72.
Apr. 19th, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
As a matter of personal taste, I'm going to agree with Simple Simon. Hook 64 is pretty damn good. Come on…Soul Taco. I love anything that'll force me to spit take diet coke out my nose.
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
I will buy Soul Taco. I'm not just offering that, it's a prediction. There will be a day when I walk into B&N, see it, grab it, and give them my money before taking it home and enjoying the hell out of it.
(no subject) - mdhenry - Apr. 19th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to judge my hook. I suck when it comes to writing things like this. I realized a lot of the characters and plot points are very close to cliche, so I'll just have to work harder to make them unique as I get started on the 2nd draft.
Apr. 19th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your time and comment. And you're right, it isn't light (as opposed to heavy), but it's not dark either. I've struggled with defining the genre for this as you can see. Many thanks again.
Apr. 20th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC)
Re: #77
Than just go ahead and say "fantasy." Maybe "historic fantasy," if you feel you must have a sub-genre. Everyone will do their hardest to shove you into a tiny box, there's no need to help.
Re: #77 - sphericaltime - Apr. 22nd, 2007 06:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Not to knock the choice of 72... because it IS a good hook, but I would have to agree with some of the comments that I am drawn to #64.

I own both a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and a 1969 Ford Mustang. If the restoration bills ever get much more than they are now, a deal with the Devil would look pretty tempting. My cars are definitely not insignificant to me... nor to the people who will be getting them. But hopefully they'll not want to relinquish either my soul or the cars.

And if your audience is female, rest assured... you got one here. ::::holds up hand for proclamation of ovary possession::::

#64, I wish you luck. I want to read that book.
Apr. 19th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
Again, only my 2 cents:

Hook 64

I like this one, but, and I could have read this wrong, you need to make it very clear that she's trying to save her grandfather's soul, not the car. If I did read that wrong, well, you would risk her soul to save her dead grandfather's car? Make it clear that it's the soul that's at stake (he won't give it up/she has to fight for it), and I think you could go far with this.


Hook 65

I want to know more about the girl and more about the stakes, what exactly will happen if she's convicted? Is it something more than she'll simply go to jail, possibly be executed. What makes him believe she didn't do it?


Hook 69

My thought on this one fall in line with the judge's.


Hook 70

Christian/Inspirational Fic is not my thing, by any means, so I don't really have anything to say, I don't know what's been done or not, what's fresh in the genre, or what they look for from these stories.


Hook 71

I'd be interested in how much you delve into the addiction part. If well written I'd pick this up.


Hook 72

Grats!! I like this, but I would like to know a little bit about how well they knew each other in the past. Acquaintances, friends, former lovers?
That's about the only thing I spotted that I'd change.


Hook 73

I muddled my way through this one. A bit clunky, felt like the text weighed me down rather than brought me into the story. Also I wouldn't pick this up unless it had some unique plot twist or very unique voice. Takes something special to jump off the fantasy shelves at me, there are just so many books retelling the same stories.


Hook 74

I liked this, the voice was really starting to peak out there. Polish it. Read it aloud to yourself & have someone read it aloud to you. If either of you stumble in places, focus on those parts. Make the writing really clear and easy to read so your great voice really comes through.


Hook 75

I could be very interested in an ex-nun PI. That in and of itself seems like a great beginning to a hook. But why would her family shun her for leaving the convent? I get the convent looking down on it, but how many families really aspire for their daughter/sister to become a nun? Also, why doesn't she just go to the police if she's so worried about choosing between her morals and protecting herself? I think this general idea is a killer one, and with a good voice it could go far.


Hook 76

I'd like a little more explanation about the Wild Hunt and how it ties to him. Does it even, or is this somehow about his dad's ashes?


Hook 77

An original twist, it seems. I might pick this up on a day I hadn't found anything that piqued my interests more.


Hook 78

I liked it, well written, but as the judge said, synopsis syndrome. Perhaps try rewriting it to make it a little hookier.


Hook 80

I liked the muse thing, I liked the story, but the hook feels like you're trying to fit too much into too small of a space. Maybe more simple highlights of the plot and really let us get to know the protag and his charge.


Hook 81

I hate, hate, hate when the heroine is dumb. I think a lot of readers do.
I can do with a lot of character flaws, but that's not one of them. I can even handle naive and making the wrong assumptions, but just dumb or dittzy does not work for me. Everything the judge said was right on with why I would never pick this book up. The thing is I want someone who is strong and smart or my interest is never going to carry passed the first chapter.


Hook 82

Interesting, I like the concept, but would want to see *more* before I picked it up. Maybe expand it a little. Who they are, how they react to one another, that sort of thing.
Apr. 19th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
Hook 73

I muddled my way through this one. A bit clunky, felt like the text weighed me down rather than brought me into the story. Also I wouldn't pick this up unless it had some unique plot twist or very unique voice. Takes something special to jump off the fantasy shelves at me, there are just so many books retelling the same stories.

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, the hook was really clunky. I'm not good at writing short. And yes, a lot of the ideas are very familiar. I'll have a challenge to work at making things unique.
Hook 71 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nineme - Apr. 19th, 2007 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Okay, if it had been me, I think I would have gone with #64, too. It just sounds vibrant and hilarious.
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Me too, it sounds awesome. Good luck with it, #64 author!
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
64, 65, 69
#64: I think the judge nailed it; I don’t have anything to add.

#65: To me, this hook was really unclear. The wording was just too ambiguous at times. For instance, the line “the swampy air swallowed her” is not at all clear until you have read further. Remember that your target audience is going to be reading quickly, and if you don’t have things build linearly in your hook, or if you are too subtle and roundabout, they won’t take the time to try to figure it out. After reading it twice I know what you are saying, but the first time it just wasn’t clear. I’d be more economical with your phrasings, too—there’s a lot of wording here that doesn’t really contain much information because it is so vague. As the judge pointed out, the line “Hell is coming to play judge, jury” is unclear, but it is also so generic and vague that it could refer to any number of works. I’d avoid the generalities, and stick to the specifics that make your story unique. The book could be wonderful, but I just don’t have enough of a picture of it from your hook to want to read it.

#69: As usual, I very much agree with the judge. However, I’d also add that there are some strange wordings in here. In the very first line, “the boy” is awkward. Based on the structure of the sentence, it technically refers to Tamicus, which I gather is your intent, but since we have never heard him referred to as a boy before, it almost sounds like a third character when you bring it up. How does the boy meet the king, by the way? It seems like that would have to be fairly unusual circumstances. Plus, certain things can be pared down or omitted, such as the boy wanting to leave his life of begging—that’s pretty much assumed. Your last line is also just too general—the fact that he “must discover who he is and what he needs to fight for” could mean anything. Does this mean he has secret lineage that he discovers? Or just that he has to take sides? Is there a reason he wouldn’t side with the king, who just a bit ago he wanted to be with? This hook just seems too detached, too distant from the characters. Hopefully that’s not the level of distance maintained in the book, but a reader might assume that it is.
Apr. 19th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
Re: 64, 65, 69

Thank you for seconding (and eloquently so) why I should put down the poetic crackpipe and just tell the story not try so hard to make a ten page synopsis read like a back cover blurb. More of the story got lost in the vague hum than I had intended.
Re: 64, 65, 69 - chrispark - Apr. 20th, 2007 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
70, 71, 72, 73
#70: There are too many irrelevant details in here. The year, the fact that she is an “undeclared” German major, and the last line about a career is a German teacher seems weak and unrelated to the main thrust of your hook. Not that I think these things can’t be in your actual book, but that these are harming the clarity of your actual hook. Your ending line should pack a punch, and tell us something about where the book as a whole is going. I’d guess that the line “Can one who willfully rejected God ever be forgiven?” would fit the bill a lot better.

#71: I’d cut “Beautifully blonde, tall and slender” as being overly wordy in a hook. I like the rest of that line a lot, though, as it characterizes in a visually descriptive way. I’d also like to know a hair more about why he blames himself and his father for his mother’s death. It would be a lot more powerful if you could relay that in the first paragraph. This is well written, though, as the judge notes.

#72: Note that some agents, like Nathan Bransford, really hate rhetorical questions in hooks. I happen to agree with those sentiments, especially in the case of your opening line—of course the answer is no, and the second tense seems odd when discussing memories and superpowers. The voice here is great, though, and it’s well written. The last line in particular is very funny. I really like the ideas in this a lot, and think this is a very deserving pick for the next round.

#73: There are way too many names to keep straight in a hook, especially if the reader is reading quickly. I’d refer to the king as just “the king,” and leave it at that. The fact that your last paragraph is just a bunch of questions seems weak to me, as well. I’d restructure that in a more active way, such as “He must find out who really loosed the arrow that killed his grandfather, but he fears that he and his friends are just pawns in a greater struggle that has gone on since the beginning of the world.” This also could have been better polished. There were several awkward wordings, such as “The orphaned Almer.” That almost makes Almer sound like a title, rather than a name. What about: “Once an orphan, Almer” instead? Aside from a few other awkward wordings, there is also one misspelling: it should be “losing his soul,” not “loosing his soul.” Despite the problems in your hook, however, I do find myself moderately intrigued—something about this just feels a little bit different than standard fantasy fare (of which I have read plenty). The fact that you stick close to your protagonist in your hook is probably a big part of it, and I really like that.
Apr. 19th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Re: 70, 71, 72, 73

Thanks for the feedback. I need a lot of work to get to writing one of these well. I'll be saving a copy of your comment to help me when I need to write another hook. Misspelling is a big error, thanks for catching it. I'm trying to make it different enough to be unique, but a lot of it is familair territory.
Re: 70, 71, 72, 73 - chrispark - Apr. 19th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 70, 71, 72, 73 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 70, 71, 72, 73 - chrispark - Apr. 20th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 70, 71, 72, 73 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 70, 71, 72, 73 - sphericaltime - Apr. 22nd, 2007 06:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
74, 75, 76, 77
#74: I agree with the judge. Too much background here, for a hook. The wording in the second paragraph is especially awkward, because of your roundabout way of stating fairly simple things. And rather than the general statements at the very end, which (as I said to another contestant) really could apply to a huge range of works, I’d stick to things that are more concrete and original in your own work.

#75: There are some ideas here that I like, but the judge’s comments are right on. Also, your wording really could be condensed for clarity in many places here. “her previous ten years in the convent” becomes “ten years in the convent,” and thus reads more easily. “she’s rationalized working for a snoop by” is much clearer as something like “she rationalizes her new job by.”

#76: The second sentence seems too abrupt, though I like the first. That’s really indicative of the problems with the rest of the hook—it jumps all over the place, without the appropriate transitions. The underlying story sounds interesting, but it is definitely not clearly described here. The way this hook reads, it sounds like a thriller, not like fantasy of any ilk, too. I presume the Wild Hunt is fantastical, but without any explanation I automatically slot it as being something real-world, as all the rest of your elements described in this hook have been.

#77: The writing is definitely good. My one complaint would be that a whole lot of time is spent on backstory here, but there really isn’t much said about what is happening currently. What’s the actual plot? It sounds like some guy (also undying?) is coming to kill one of these three, but we don’t know why or have any sense of how this will play out. I’d cut some of the earlier material that is just backstory (after all, an agent will read that in a synopsis or learn this in the partial), and then add in more details about what the actual plot of the book is. These guys have been living for centuries upon centuries, and I get only the vaguest sense that the coming events are going to be much different from their past life. Why is the book starting here in the 21st century, rather than back in the past? Events are assumedly conspiring to change their lives irrevocably, and that’s what I think you need to show—or at least allude to—more.
Apr. 19th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77
77 here. Thanks for taking the time to offer your advice/opinion. I was worried it would come off as having too much backstory, but a portion of the book itself is backstory. Now I'm trying to figure out how to leap past all of that and focus on the current conflict. It starts today b/c up until "today," the fourth guy (yes, also undying) had given up his search for Ponce de Leon, but events bring their personal battle to the fore again. Hm. Sounds like that's maybe where I should start then, huh? You're a good sounding board. :-) Thanks again. I'll just keep trying.
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - chrispark - Apr. 19th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - chrispark - Apr. 19th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - chrispark - Apr. 20th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - criada - Apr. 20th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 74, 75, 76, 77 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 20th, 2007 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)
78, 80, 81, 82
#78: “The violence of their home” is a bit jarring after hearing how happy Scott was living in Stacy’s shadow. I’d introduce the violence earlier, or differently, so that it is clear that this is a major factor in their lives. “A freak accident” is cliché—how about just “an accident” instead? I think I’d actually cut your entire first paragraph, and begin with your second. If you restructure your opening to something like “When his twin sister Stacey is blinded in an accident in the chemistry lab, Scott Kadinero is left to navigate their senior year alone. Blind, Stacey is no longer the popular, confident girl whose shadow Scott happily lived in for years.” Or something like that, but you get what I’m doing. This is an intriguing story, but the hook can be made a lot more emotionally powerful by being condensed. It will read less like a synopsis then, too. Finally, most f that last paragraph has to go, in my opinion. You’re repeating outright the subject matter that you already covered earlier, and it’s not very compelling to me until the line “Scott is left to wonder.” Less is more, and try not to say the same thing twice in your hook. I’d also avoid referring to yourself in the first person in the hook itself (though obviously you are elsewhere in your query letter). To me, this looks like good groundwork for a strong hook, but you’re not there yet.

#80: Definitely overcomplicated. I’d cover fewer of these topics in the hook if I were you, and give better explanation for the ones that you do cover. Like the judge said, I think the muse angle is the best one, while the royalty angle is less interesting. Like most readers, I’m not royalty, and I’m not going to immediately empathize with a character who is.

#81: The heroine definitely comes across as unlikable, and that kills it for me as well. Not only do you describe her as ditzy, she also his harassing some guy because he is disregarding “her authority.” Yikes. Plus, you have several comma errors that tripped me up. There shouldn’t be a comma after “Ditzy dog catcher,” or after “the dead body of dog-lover,” or after “Top cop,” or after “Nick Steele.” Also, the first time we learn that the dead body is a librarian is in your last paragraph, and that’s jarring. Mostly the writing here is fine, other than these and a few other technicalities, but little things like that make a bad first impression in your hook, same as your heroine does. If your heroine is supposed to be comically unlikable, I think you need to provide more of a sense of that. As it stands, all that I take away is that I don’t like her, and that won’t make me want to read more.

#82: What is the Compact of Humanity? Is this an interstellar organization, I presume? This is the first hook posted for this contest that I felt was just too sparse. Each character is only mentioned once, in a single line, and no characters at all are mentioned until the second paragraph. The overall effect is that I don’t feel any connection to the characters, and I have only the vaguest idea of what the plot will be like. This could be a lot better if you flush it out more, with a specific focus on your characters.
Apr. 20th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
Re: Hook #78
#78, this sounds like a powerful story to me... and I can almost find myself tearing up over the idea of the blind twin and the violent homelife and a young man left to finding his own way out of darkness (and your title is great, by the way).

But I have to agree with everything that chrisPark (above) had to say in reference to your hook. I don't have anything helpful to add to that, but I wanted to second Chris' critique and to let you know that you have what sounds like a great manuscript on your hands.

Good Luck!
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
My unpublished, unagented $.02
I agreed with the judge on Hook 65, Hook 69, Hook 70, Hook 73, Hook 74, Hook 75, Hook 76, and Hook 81. Best of luck in your revisions, because a lot of those were obviously good stories being misrepresented by a hook that could have been better. I don't know if mine is any good (we'll find out) but something I've tried is having a friend who has read the book write a hook for me, and based on what they found important as a reader, I alter mine.

There were a few I had my own comments for... here you go:

Hook 64

This was my favorite. If you want another beta, let me know.

Hook 71 I think your problem here is no voice, and no personality to the characters. You described how Ian looks without telling me who he is, and I'm just not that shallow. Even if I want to pork him from the query, it doesn't mean I want to read about him. It sounds marketable, though, if you tweak it. Good luck!

Hook 72

This is really good; I agreed with the judge. It looks like people who write about superheroes are good at writing hooks. Maybe I should switch genres. Congratulations!

Hook 77

I liked this and I would read it. Like the judge, I don't know if you should call it light fantasy. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you could call it something like "commercial fiction" since it's not necessarily going to appeal to only fantasy readers. I don't know, but good luck!

Hook 78

I didn't get a clear picture of the book's focus(es). There were too many happening at too many different times. Maybe it was simply because it was more like a synopsis, like the judge said, but I think it was meandering. It could be really interesting if you didn't cram so much of it into that 300 words--choose the most important parts and let them breathe. Good luck!

Hook 80

If it's well-written, I'll never get sick of Sidhe royalty. I would read this.

Hook 82

Not enough information, especially about the characters, but promising! You could have used a few more words (after all, you had 300!). I have to commend you on not using 299 though like most of us did. It's easier to choose a few more words to add than it is to try and cut 50. Good luck!
Apr. 19th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02
Thanks for the comments! (I wrote #71) I will give them some serious thought. Your line about wanting to pork him made me snort!

Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02 - csinman - Apr. 19th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02 - csinman - Apr. 20th, 2007 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 20th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02 - criada - Apr. 20th, 2007 01:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: My unpublished, unagented $.02 - csinman - Apr. 20th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
64 to 73

Quirky, strong characters (clearly), a snazzy plot, a brilliant title, and with the mention of bi-national culture, you’ve already identified an audience it might appeal to (aside from all the girls who love their grandfathers and cars). Querying and stuff related is a really subjective business. Though not everyone is going to go for it, if you do your research, I don’t doubt that with very little change this is going to take little effort to sell.


It’s great until the last paragraph. There, it confuses me. I like the characters, though you don’t go into too much detail on them, and I like the set-up, and I already like the foggy atmosphere. However, the last few sentences don’t make any sense. It’s where you set up what’s at stake in the novel, and it isn’t clear at all. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Also, it doesn’t seem much like a romance. Twenty-years ago, she was his girlfriend, we get that. But it doesn’t sound as though they pick up on it from there.


I don’t understand this either. It’s a fantasy world and there’s a battle. But why do they pick the beggar up? I mean, seriously, I bet every beggar in this place wants to go with the king. And who cares who the boy is? If he’s one of these Nazobi guys, then I can see your problem. But it seem overdone. So far, everything seems predictable, and I’m not sure who the characters are. My point being, what’s it to me who he finds out he is if I don’t know who he is, either?


The final sentence sounds amusing, and unless the story is humour, which it doesn’t sound like, it should be cut. Again, not knowing what the role of Christianity is in the story really makes it confusing. If you could define that, this would be an excellent hook. Since half the time it sounds as though she’s only mildly Christian, and then it suddenly sounds as though she’s total fundamentalist, I am entirely lost. I have no idea what you’re saying.


Hm. This is really good. I think you should up the atmosphere, to give the reader a greater feel for things, and then leave it be. You could be more specific about why Ian blames himself for his mother’s death, because it would greatly help (the story is centered on her death, after all), but other than these two things, I think it’s probably going to be full of quirk and other things that should help you sell it. The main character is clearly strong, and the story sounds good.


I can’t tell just how humourous this story is supposed to be, and you have a tendency of establishing something well, then in another sentence or two, changing it. Like, it starts with Teresa not having superpowers or memories; then she suddenly has them, so the direction shifts significantly. It sounds neat, certainly, but it’s very confusing. Also, it would be nice to know more about where this is set. Are her superpowers normal in this world?


I agree that the plot is cliché, but my main issue is that the conflict is so external. Almer has little personality, and I don’t understand what’s significant about this to him. It should be more obvious.

On a side note, though, I love all the weird names. They’re not entirely made up, which is one neat thing. Also, in a group I role-play in, my two main characters are named Ghislain and Rémy, so that also caught me, not that it’s significant.
Apr. 19th, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
Re: 64 to 73

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, it was easier to talk about the external conflict than to bring in the internal. Almer's faith in the teachings of the church vs what he's learned they've been hiding. Almer making a play for the throne so he can convince others to become allies, vs the fact that he doesn't want the crown, nor does he think he's worthy of it.

The name are mostly real. Almer is a variant spelling of Elmer. Mordecai is a Jewish name. Ganelon and Ghislan are names from the "Song of Roland" (who Almer's father is based on). Nekt is the name of a near-legendary warrior of the Alaskan Tsimshian people.

Thanks again.
Re: 64 to 73 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 19th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 64 to 73 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 20th, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 64 to 73 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 21st, 2007 04:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 64 to 73 - nineme - Apr. 19th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 64 to 73 - (Anonymous) - Apr. 20th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
74 to 82

Ooh, good, strong main character (though his coldness yet goodness is clichéd also, I think). And I like the duquine a lot. The word is cool. She is also cool.

However, the plot confuses me. I’m not sure what’s going on at all. I think you might be putting in bits of irrelevant information, because I keep getting thrown off concerning plot.


Once again, what’s the significance of her faith in this story? And what’s the deal with Frank? Both of those sounds as though they are very important, but you might be downplaying them.

Other than that, I really like it. She sounds neat, and as has been said, her being an ex-nun and a PI is interesting. The stalker is also interesting. The question is, why would someone who was a nun for ten years have a stalker? So that’s good.


I like the Wild Hunt bit myself. When you query, try to find people who seem as though they would know what it is, though, all right?

I also like Sean and his story, but the last paragraph dampens this hook significantly, being as the woman and the Erlking confuse me. They really don’t seem to tie into Sean’s story. Does Sean meet up with the young woman? You just need to tell a little more about the story here, so that we know what the conflict is. Otherwise, whoo, it’s good.


Yeah, this sounds good. Probably more than light fantasy, but it’s good. For some reason, though, it doesn’t catch my eye. I don’t quite understand why ties them all together.


I agree that it sounds like a synopsis. The problem is that it doesn’t identify the main conflict, because a plot is about a series of events, and recounting the plot, each event is taken as the conflict, only to prove the reader wrong. It’s very confusing. However, the characters are strong, and it sounds as though the plot is good. But I don’t know what the general story is about.


I agree with the judge here, entirely—that the hook is complex and that this makes it harder to get into, that the Sidhe royalty is overdone. Also, what the hell is the name “Fenrir” doing on a former Seelie king? For those of us who understand faery and Norse myth, that makes this hook easier to pass on, especially as it sounds a little amateurish. I like the falling for his Charge, and the Charge being important—so I think you should introduce her earlier. Otherwise, this is good. Very.


Though, yes, she’s an idiot, I don’t see why all female leads have to be sassy and kick-ass these days. She is clearly not too much of an idiot if she’s going to try and investigate this. I find her ditziness endearing, and I like the dog-theme; she’s a great character. My only problem—literally my only one—is that the only thing that is at stake for her is her freedom and her love life. Some internal conflict would be nice, and would make this conflict more interesting.


Does this remind anyone else of “The Giver”? I think this is good, but I’m not sure I understand what’s going on. Is the Match good or bad? Is there some brainwashing going on? That’s the impression I get, but I’m not sure. And I agree that you could stand to go into detail about our three main characters.
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