Writing Can Be Murder

April 24, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 8:31 am

I recently entered a “hook” contest and I thought it was worth sharing the results. Below you’ll find my hook and the judge’s comments. I’d be interested in finding out whether you agree/disagree with the comments and if you read this on the back of a book, would you consider buying it?

Oh and before you tell me it needed to be longer, please know that there was a 300 word limit.


Lizzie Greene was dropped on her head by her mother. That’s why she’s never lived up to her potential.


Bankrupt, divorced and homeless, Lizzie moves in with her sister Gina (the daughter who DOES live up to her potential) to help care for their senile father.


Lizzie is trying to get her life together without losing her mind or her new job, when her client Ralph, tells her about a theft he witnessed and asks for her help. Lizzie reluctantly agrees. It’s not like Ralph can go to the cops…he’s a miniature schnauzer.


Pretending to be a psychic with information about the case, Lizzie inserts herself into the investigation, arousing the suspicions (and the temper) of Detective Ryan Post. Lizzie of course is not a psychic. She’s a witch, albeit an extraordinarily inept one (that whole dropped on her head/potential thing). Her only real talent is her ability to communicate with animals.


When the clues (supplied by neighborhood pets) Lizzie “senses” start adding up, cynical Detective Post finds himself relying on the psychic/pet sitter to help solve the case and catch a ring of thieves, but when her sister disappears and her father’s addled ramblings start to make sense Lizzie starts to worry that the crimes are being committed by a group of rogue Magic Makers.


Investigating her sister’s disappearance with the detective (while trying to prevent him from finding out that magic exists) Lizzie realizes she’s stumbled onto a plan to shift the balance of magical power in the world and that there’s little time to stop it.


Lizzie must team up with her feeble-minded dad, the skeptical (but sexy) human detective and a pack of domesticated pets to rescue her sister, thwart the plan and save the world.


She’d like to do it on a good hair day.


 I think there’s a bit too much going on here which leads to the plot sounding more convoluted than perhaps it is.  In terms of the hook, I wasn’t sure if the “dropped on her head” bit was to be funny or serious. As I continued on, I couldn’t determine what the tone was intended to be. On one hand, some facts seem light (dropped or her head, her informant being a dog), but on the other hand some facts seem more serious (ailing father, kidnapped sister).  I think a clarity of tone is the best recommendation—whether it’s in the hook or the plot, I’m not sure. 



  1. You had me at ‘he’s a miniature schnauzer.’ LOL. It is busy, but it sounds like fun. The only thing I’d change is ‘feeble-minded dad’ which some people might take offense to.

    Comment by Jennifer Colgan — April 26, 2007 @ 7:55 am

  2. The first time through, I thought they were rogue Magic Markers. I pictured a group of pens with bandannas. I know–I read real good.

    I love the tone. I gave me a clear image of what the story would be like. There can be serious moments even in humorous stories. I might mention that she’s a pet psychic sooner, because that seems to be the focus of the story and more important to the plot.

    Comment by Kate Perry — April 26, 2007 @ 11:46 am

  3. Jennifer: What if I change “feeble-minded” to addled?

    Kate: ROFLMAO “rougue Magic Markers” Sharpies unite!
    Thanks for the input about “pet psychic”!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — May 1, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  4. OK, first of all…life isn’t all serious or all fun, so I have no problems with a book having a bit of both. Those people who think you have to pick and choose one or the other, probably lead very boring, stagnant lives. (I’m not being judmental, just stating it the way I see it.)

    I loved the hook. I loved the schnauzer. Loved the rogue Magic Markers..I mean makers.

    It works for me.


    Comment by Kat Mancos — May 7, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  5. Thanks for the input Kat! (and I agree with you completely) Now if only I could figure out a way to make those rogue Magic Markers work in the story….

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — May 9, 2007 @ 8:10 am

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