Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Hooked? #15

TITLE: Wednesdays At The Half-Day Cafe
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Divorced mom, Nina Baum, lies about having a wonderful boyfriend and then must cover her deception when she's hired to write about relationships for a popular website.

Mac arrived in the middle of a Wednesday night dinner three months ago. It was unintentional, but I'm stuck with him at least through tonight's dessert.

Hunger with a side of nerves rumbles in my stomach. It tweaks me from the inside out, and I can feel the gurgles with my hand, which is not as endearing as when I felt pregnancy flutters or even bladder-stabbing pirouettes. I stack four, intentionally mismatched dinner plates and set out the silverware. My friends will set the table, pop the cork, pour the wine, peek into the oven and then plop into my vintage kitchen booth. The routine hasn't wavered in three years of Wednesday dinners. I revel in the food and the laughter that binds us tighter than our tears. But I won't revel in telling my friends my boyfriend, Mac, and I, aren't celebrating with them on New Year's Eve because he doesn't exist.

The calendar in my head begins in September, so the hullaballoo surrounding New Year's Eve escapes me. In my teens, twenties, thirties and at forty, it's just another night of the week I'm asleep by eleven. There's nothing new for me on January first except the number I write on checks, but I don't write checks anymore. I could celebrate January first if it tempted spring, but it does not. And this year it tempts fate, which really messes with my cooking karma.


  1. The first sentence feels unclear without the benefit of the blurb above, even after you read that Mac doesn't exist at the end of the second paragraph.

    The bigger problem here is that I'm not sure about the sequence of events. The third paragraph feels out of place and random. I had to read it three times for it to really sink in.

    If there's a reason to read on, it's to learn what desperation prompted her to invent Mac, and I have no idea what that is.

  2. I really like what you are trying to do with this opening, but the switch from past to present does make it confusing. I had to read it a couple of time before I got it.

    I agree that the sequence of events is also confusing. When you say, "I revel in the food..." it sounds like she is doing it NOW but I think she is thinking about how she WILL do it when they arrive. Maybe you need to be more clear that these are the thoughts she is having as she waits for them to arrive.

  3. Your logline is excellent and hooked me straight off.

    I feel like this is heading to a happy ending with a real (later oto be announced) boyfriend, and if that is so, might you also market this as a romance?

    I enjoyed your reflective heroine, but maybe a little more dialogue to make your points would be more fun. Maybe in scene two you could start digging deeper into her emotions and concerns. As it stands, the New Year thing is a good hook to read on.

    You made it sound like she's going to tell them, she has no boyfriend. Maybe you didn't mean to. If not may I suggest: . . . doesn't exist. So I won't.

    The first sentence confused me, and made me go back. Maybe clarify right there that he doesn't exist: Imaginary Mac arrived . . . (All for the sake of clarity (Hemingway).

  4. The shift in tense is a little confusing and it makes me wonder if it will be like this throughout the manuscript. Otherwise, I found it pretty enjoyable. The writing style is good, words are well chosen, and the piece has a nice flow to it.

  5. I had to reread everything to understand.

    Mac arrived 3 months ago and she's stuck with him until tonight's dinner sounds like he'd lived with her all this time. Yet he doesn't exist.

    She'd made him up, which your intro revealed. Without that intro,though, I wouldn't know what's happening.

    The last para seems a bit wordy. This is what I got from it: New Year's Eve had never meant anything to her since she was a teen.

    I like the premise. Sounds like she dug herself a hole and needs to find a man to pose as her boyfriend.

  6. I also like the premise, but the narrative was too confusing to follow. Can you make it more clear and straightforward?

  7. Thank you for taking time to read and comment, I appreciate the feedback!

    ~ the author

  8. I love this concept (a fake boyfriend/ a poseur relationship expert) so that's got me hooked. The writing sample is *almost* there but it starts off on uneven footing. Like others, I had to re-read the first paragraph for it to make sense but once you strengthen the logic in this opening I'm confident it will read more smoothly and plunge you're reader into your MC's predicament in a fun, cringe-worthy way. :-)

  9. Er, *your reader* not *you're*.


  10. Thanks, Hélène!

  11. Not quite hooked ... feels that something (an emotional depth, perhaps) is missing ...

  12. Thanks, Sara, it's a first no where to go but up!

  13. I REALLY like the sentence "Hunger with a side of nerves rumbles in my stomach". However the sentence after that is redundant.

    I don't really have much to add that hasn't already been commented upon. I would recommend reading Kristan Higgins "Too Good to be True," another story about a made up boyfriend that has the best meet-cute I have ever read ;)