Thursday, August 7, 2014

Are You Hooked? #2

TITLE: Moonshine
GENRE: Historical Romance

New York City, 1926

The shoe caught Dr. James Winslow’s attention.

Delicately trimmed in black lace, with a low slung golden heel, it whizzed by his right ear like a shot from a cannon. James jerked up, as the fashionable projectile hurtled into a shelf of lab equipment. A rack of test tubes teetered, tottered, then smashed onto the floor.

James whirled away from his microscope. “What the devil?”

“The devil, indeed!” In the doorway to his lab, a tall blonde woman shimmered in gold silk and anger. Another shoe quaked in her grasp. “I thought you’d been struck by a cab, or called away on some grave medical emergency. How dare you still be here!”

James blinked. It always took him a moment to shift out of work. Meditations on cell membranes warred with the irate vision before him. The tumblers of his mind whirled until three words coalesced: Millicent. Date. Seven. With black humor, he grinned. “You wish I’d been flattened by a taxi, instead?”

“I wish you’d been anywhere—absolutely anywhere—other than here, with your nose stuffed in an amoeba. Again. This is the fourth date you’ve missed this month.”

“It’s a bacteriophage, actually. This species has—”

A feminine scream cut him off. “I don’t care! I don’t care about amoebas or bacterio-whats-its or any of these ridiculous creatures. Curing people is all fine and dandy, but we had opera tickets! Millicent Andrews does not live her life at the whims of germs.”


  1. Hooked. Love the time-frame, love the idea of reading about scientific discovery, love the voice and I relate to Jame's work distraction.

    Not in love with the title, though I assume it has to do with bathtub hootch and I'd read farther to see what happens next.

  2. I always find it hard reading other writers work and making comments, but this was easy. I loved it and was totally hooked!

    I love the voice and the absent-minded professor story. I would read on for sure!

  3. Hooked too. Only quibble: when he turns around and sees "a tall blonde woman" it seems like she's a stranger, not someone he's going out with. It's in his POV - maybe something like just say her name. You can tell us what she looks like later.

  4. Really like that you put the place and time right off the bat. It really helps ground the reader into the era.

    Last paragraph I would snip the word feminine. There are only two people in the room, and the reader pretty knows it’s the girl that’s screaming.

    The characters come across well, but I’m wondering what twist you will put on the absent-minded professor and the beautiful girl who loves him.

    I like the opening here. The image of the shoe flying through the air balances description and pace well. The voice is good and the writing is well done. I like the alteration of “ test tubes teetered, tottered,…”

  5. Hooked! The voice is great, with strong verbs and nice visuals. I think this deserves a better first line--what follows is so great, that first line reads clunky to me without the voice of the rest. You could have fun with it and play up the humor if that's the tone you want to set.

    Also, I think it would be helpful to show Millicent before her unattributed line. Is she standing the doorway, arms crossed? Or ready to pounce?

  6. This is fantastic writing. I loved it, and I'm not usually a romance reader. But one thing stood out to me: Would James, as absent-minded as the rest of this excerpt makes him appear, really notice that the shoe whizzing past his ear was "delicately trimmed in black lace, with a low slung golden heel"? Because it seems to me that if he's so engrossed in his work that he can't immediately recognize a woman he's on intimate terms with, then there's no way he could register so much information about a shoe that "whizzed by his right ear like a shot from a cannon."

    Other than that, though, I thought this was fantastic and I would definitely read more.

  7. This is quite funny, but I think the voice is just a tiny bit self-conscious, so that at times the reader is aware of the author making an effort to be clever and humorous. (Though I appreciate how hard it can be to write humor well -- it's one thing I'd love to be better at!)

    I also agree that the way Millicent is introduced into the scene doesn't quite seem appropriate if they're in a relationship. (I suppose one could argue that if he's the sort of absent-minded professor type who would be identified as having Asperger's today, it might be realistic that he'd describe his own girlfriend in that way!)

    But it would probably seem more natural to introduce her by name from the beginning, and to try to loosen up some of the phrasing, such as in the descriptions, so it feels less stiff (but without using any terms that sound too contemporary, of course!). This is certainly a charming concept, however, and I think it has a lot of potential.

  8. I agree about the opening. The way it's sets up, it gave me the impression someone was admiring a woman's shoe, probably before he started admiring the woman. Maybe start with it whizzing by his ear, which sets up the scene more accurately. What the shoe looks like doesn't matter.

    I also agree about using her name. James knows who she is, so perhaps say 'NAME stood in the doorway, and then describe her as he would, which might be in a more clinical way?

    And 'A feminine scream cut him off' could be reduced to 'NAME screamed.'

    I also wondered, if this is the fourth time in a month that he stood her up for his lab work, wouldn't she just assume that's where he was again? Would she really imagine he'd been in an accident, or had gone off on some emergency?

    Small things, easily fixed, but overall, I was hooked. You gave us two interesting characters in a situation, and the writing's good. I could see this as an old black and white movie.

  9. Loved the last line - made me chuckle.

    Overall I'm hooked and would read on.

    I'd drop the first line as it creates an image of him looking at a shoe, rather than what is actually happening. You still have a very effective start with 'Delicately trimmed in black lace, with a low slung golden heel, the shoe whizzed by his right ear like a shot from a cannon'

    Only think I would nitpick is could anyone be that vague and slow to focus and recognise their girlfriend in the doorway? Seemed a little overdone to me.

  10. My first line assumption probably says more about me than about your writing--I thought the doctor was beginning the examination of a corpse.

    Overall, I like this idea of a scientist and a flapper, and although I'm pretty annoyed by Millicent (she refers to herself in the third person?) I'd read on in hopes that he triumphs with a cool life-saving discovery.