The Saturday Slash

Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.

We all know the first line of a query is your “hook.” I call the last line the “sinker.” You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.

If you’re looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey – the query. My comments appear in green.

At forty-seven, Lane Stevens is still America’s sweetheart as the host of the Foodie Channel’s hottest show, Food Made Whole. That is, until she wakes up on the floor of her San Francisco hotel room with a nasty bump on her head, a silver platter of bacon wrapped chicken livers, and a corpse. Oh my goodness, I want to read this. Perfect hook. 

Unfortunately, the dead man has been hiding a secret—a flash card Okay, you might want to rephrase this as a thumb or jump drive or simply a photo… b/c I immediately thought of addition and subtraction flash cards said to contain proof of a twisted conspiracy to design, manufacture and maintain disease for corporate profit. The card is a powerful bargaining chip against the U.S. and is presumed missing. But when the coroner declares murder by Rumaki, Lane’s favorite appetizer, and it’s discovered the dead man is Lane’s estranged uncle, all raised brows turn to Lane. And when target practice ensues on those around her, the message is clear—hand over the card or the next corpse will be someone she loves. So does Lane have the card, or was the card on the corpse? Unclear.

The federal agent in charge of the investigation has finger-worthy salt and pepper hair, and a voice reminiscent of warm caramel. He is definitely too yummy to be trusted, but he’s the only one championing her innocence. So, despite the nagging knot in her gut, she works with him to cook up a dangerous plan that will take her loved ones out of the crosshairs and clear her name. Together, they will risk their lives to trap her uncle’s killer, recover the flash card, and end the nightmare. Or so she thinks. Still unclear about the card. How did anyone even know it existed if it wasn’t on the corpse in the first place?

FIRST CORPSE: THE APPETIZER is the first book in the mystery series, A Seven Corpse Meal, complete at 90,000 words. Women who enjoy well-seasoned characters like Stephanie Plum, Goldy Schulz, and Kinsey Millhone are sure to enjoy Lane Stevens. As for me, I’m a veteran whole foodie, an ardent researcher and writer, and evil mastermind behind the website that takes the mystery out of whole foods—

Honestly I think this is great. I don’t know enough about the particular genre to know if it’s a good idea to pitch it as a series, but I don’t think it would hurt you terribly either. Find a way to clearly and succinctly explain the confusion about the card and I think this is gold.