Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #7

TITLE: Candy, Murder, and Me
GENRE: Cozy mystery

While munching on story-relevant candies and providing mouth-watering recipes, Cookie Berelli, dress designer for full-figured women and her dachshund, Sigmund Freud, investigate who killed her PI. When the murderer sets his sights on Cookie, she must race to get him before he gets her.

I should have sensed something was dreadfully wrong when my assistant squealed to a halt in the corridor of Florida Fashions at the entrance to my Queendom where I design the line for full-figured women, including me.

“Watch out, Cookie,” Eugene Gemstone warned me that warm February morning as he opened the door to my design studio for me. He's my assistant, number one fabric cutter, and barometer for strange and off-the-wall happenings. Ever since he wore one of the dresses I designed into the ladies’ room at Chez Riso and got arrested, he's been tuned into things gone awry.

Upon completion of 100 hours of community service for his indiscretion in the ladies' room by helping out Gretchen Peppercomb and her Pancake, Yoga, and 12-Step Program, I'd promoted him to my assistant.

“What now?” Visions of a disastrous spring line flooded my brain. My imagination had nothing on what I saw when I stepped inside. Streams of taffetas and silks unwound from their bolts. Tipped over, half-clothed steel-mesh design models lay on their sides next to knocked-over cutting tables.

“Somebody's been in here.” Trust Eugene to mention the obvious. He grabbed hold of a model on wheels and cradled it in his arms. “Be careful of Gladyce.” He loved the thing as if it were alive. She wore a silver satin dress he’d been begging me to let him borrow.

“I always watch out for Gladyce,” I said in a snippy voice. Disorganization always rattles me.


  1. Logline: There is too much detail in this first line. Give us one defining characteristic (preferably the most important and interesting!) and move on. We need to know why this dress designer is investigating a murder and what racing to get him means. Is she going to kill him before he kills her? If so, why? Was she in love with the PI or is she just bored and thought it would be fun to solve his murder?

    Good luck!

  2. Logline: comma issue made me think she designs dresses for her dachshund. I don't understand why the candies are story-relevant or what that tells me. Why does she have a PI? Why does she think the murder is after her?


    Is her assistant a Buick? When he squealed to a stop in the corridor, I thought maybe they were in the car and in a part of town, like the Energy Corridor where I live (where all the oil and gas companies set up shop).

    I'm going to chalk this up to this being both the genre I don't read and probably a zainier subset that I really don't read. There was just too much whimsy and oddity for me to follow the scene closely and become invested... I mean, individually the glittery parts were fun... just too crammed in there for me.

  3. Logline: I'm a fan of clever description, but "story-relevant candies" did not connect for me. I'm not sure why the candy relates other than it's in the title. You could start with Cookie Berelli and the dress designer part since that seems to be a key piece in the opening.

    I'm also curious why she has a private investigator. If it said why she hired the PI that could give context. Just a few words may suffice, I know it has to be snappy.

    I think your first sentence can be broken up into two. It's all good information in there but it doesn't flow as well as it could when it's all bunched together.

    I like this: “What now?” Visions of a disastrous spring line flooded my brain.

  4. There's a lot of fun stuff here, but most of it doesn't belong in this scene. You keep stopping the action to slide in a sentence or two of backstory after every line of dialogue. I can't settle into the scene, but I can't fully enjoy the backstory because there isn't enough of either one. I think I'd like it more if you told this scene, let us get settled with what's going on, then feed in the backstory later on.

  5. Logline: The part about candies and cookies aren't needed. And, the logline didn't seem action oriented. You might want to use stronger action words.

    I had no idea where the story was headed. Be careful of long sentences and paragraphs. These tend to slow the action. When she opens the door have her make a comment or scream. Use colors in describing the upheaval. I do like the two characters you've incorporated in the story.

  6. Crack me up! The details of this story are a riot.

    My sense, however, is that the story needs some polishing.

    "Story-relevant candies"? Doesn't work. And "...dress designer for full-figured women and her dachshund..." is great, but only if you mean she designs dresses for both, which, frankly, seems appropriate given some of the other details.

    My gut says this might smooth out after a while, but the action of the first 250 words feels muddled with the addition of the funny details. I know you want to get both in here, and maybe 250 words just isn't enough, but maybe try separating the two a bit more.

    Keep working on this. I'd love to read more.

  7. I have read this over and just couldn't place my finger on what exactly was wrong, but I think I've got it now. Maybe.

    First off, I'm assuming the candies have something to do with the murder (poisoned pecan pralines, anyone?) and that you include recipes in the book, common for some cozies (minus the poison, I hope!) While Sigmund Fraud is a darling name for her doxie, we probably don't need to know that in the logline.

    And yes, it does sound like Cookie designs clothing for her dog, which would be a hit in many dog-centric cities, including ours! We also wonder why she would have her own PI, as people generally don't.

    The story catches my eye, and my sense of humor (love Eugene), but I think I keep getting stuck on the first sentence. It's awkward, perhaps,and too busy, maybe simplify it and break it into 2 or 3 sentences to give us the info. I didn't mind Eugene squealing to a stop, but I think you can do better. And now I can't get Heather's funny Buick comment out of my mind!

    Eugene does seem like the type who would squeal, so what if we have him squeal and Cookie comes running (or huffing and puffing, as the case may be):

    "I should have sensed something was wrong when I heard my assistant squeal.

    Mind you, Eugene squeals a lot, but this one had a decidedly different feel to it.

    I ran down the corridor as fast as my rather ample body would let me, huffing and puffing as I finally made it to the door of Queendom, my clothing design shop for full-figured women."

    I don't know if she would huff and puff, as many full-figured women are in much better shape than I am and could easily kick my ***, but I think breaking it up would give us more of the suspense and drama and draw us in.

    But once I get past the beginning, I like it! "Pancake, Yoga, and 12-Step Program"~ Snicker!

  8. I meant to say, I have read this over and over! You know, repeatedly. Sorry, mind's getting fuzzy. Craving pancakes and yoga now...

  9. This has promise. It's hammy but I am a sucker for an ensemble cast led by a odd/strong female narrator. That said, it's a bit overpacked with detail, and the overstuffing draws (some negative) attention to itself. Also, it could use some line editing, for economy. For instance, we don't need "I said in a snippy voice"; the thing she says is snippy, so the description of it isn't needed.

  10. I love the unconventional character! I'd

  11. I like the concept and the character. She seems witty and like her friends would be tons of oddball fun.

    The writing is too packed with detail. This particularly shows up in the logline, where the candies and recipes have nothing to do with her as a dress-maker and add nothing to our understanding of the story. Think snappy, efficient and clear.

    Just try reading the opening line out loud--it's a mouthful, as most of these lines are. You're trying to hard to do too much. Relax--you can write. Just let it flow. I'm not usually a fan of this kind of book, but I would read on.