Friday, November 28, 2014


GENRE: Cozy Mystery

Mama Meatballs – Mona's been murdered! Can her best friend Rose, a sassy septuagenarian and manicotti-aficionado, put her fork down and enlist the help of her big-city attorney granddaughter Anna to solve the case? Navigating a veritable buffet of suspects, small town characters, and age-old feuds will take all the courage and cunning these ladies can cook up.

Whenever Grandma Rose called, Anna went running. Not because Rose was about to die, or because her furnace was acting up again, or because Rose thought she saw a mouse and spent four hours circling the block to avoid a rodent showdown. Anna went running because if she didn't, she would never hear the end of it. If there is an afterlife, Anna will have a chubby little Italian lady dishing her meatballs dripping in red sauce from a bottomless pot saying, "Would it have killed you to call?" On a loop. For eternity.

Anna assumed it was another false alarm when Rose left her a wild voicemail one night in late October. She still dragged herself onto a bus when she woke the next afternoon and headed upstate from Manhattan to Milton, her Hudson Valley hometown.

Ringing Rose's door bell, Anna heard a familiar "coming, coming, coming" chant followed by a symphony of lock clicks and clangs that would make the fellas at Fort Knox beam with pride. Anna flicked her menthol into the neighbor's birdbath just before the door flung open to reveal her grandmother.

"What are you doing here?" Rose said.

"Are you kidding? Your message said 'Get here immediately.' What's going on?" Anna said.

Rose rubbed her hands together and looked at the ground. When she faced Anna again, tears streamed down her cheeks.

"It's nothing really, nothing you need to worry about at least. Just my friend Mona. She's dead. Murdered. End of story."


  1. I love this entry. It's fun and has a great voice, then at the end we're hit with "Mona's dead." I especially love her version of the afterlife. Being in an Italian family myself I can totally relate. Love the title, too. It fits the story perfectly, at least what I can see so far. I'd definitely buy this book. Excellent job! Good luck in the auction. I have no doubt you'll do well.

  2. I loved the last paragraph and want to read more. Good writing. I do think that the second paragraph needs work. It stopped me and I had to reread it and briefly lost the flow. Other than that, I enjoyed the writing.

  3. I'm not a big fan of the quirky humorous murder mystery genre, but my stepmother loves them and would particularly like one that has Italian food as a backdrop.

  4. This is a fun setup--the nagging Italian grandmother who, more or less, runs Anna's life. The addition of Italian food and the traditional demands of a close-knit ethnic family bring the conflict to life immediately.

    A couple of writing details tripped me up, and unfortunately, one occurs in the first sentence: "Whenever Grandma Rose called, Anna went running." From this, I understood that Anna went for a jog/run. I believe what you meant was "Anna CAME running." It's present tense, which might seem incorrect, but idiomatically, this phrasing means that Anna hightailed it to see her grandmother, which is your intention, I think.

    The phrase is repeated in the third sentence, which should also be changed to CAME to make your meaning clear. With that change, the last three sentences of the first paragraph tie in and make the opening paragraph a complete and understandable unit. As the paragraph stands now, they confused me.

    Another editing detail: The idea of Anna's hurrying to see her grandmother whenever she calls is undermined in the second paragraph with the words, "...dragged herself onto a bus when she woke THE NEXT AFTERNOON...", i.e., if she always "runs" to see her grandmother when she gets a call, then why does she wait until the next day in this instance? Perhaps that's a story question answered later, but it reads here as a contradiction to the first paragraph. It might be more compelling to say that Anna dropped whatever she was doing at that moment and hopped on a bus. It's your call, of course.

    You have some wonderful imagery in the following text. The "symphony of lock clicks" is great, as is the "flicked her menthol into the...birdbath," which gives us a sense of Anna's character. It's funny too. The dialogue is on target, the tears are an interesting surprise, and the final paragraph is simply wonderful.

    All together this is a strong entry and looks like it will be a fun novel with a great concept. Good luck!

  5. Your first paragraph made me laugh out loud. Love it. I did wonder about the tense in the "If there is an aferlife..." sentence. It felt like it should be past tense, too.

    The sentence "She still dragged herself..." doesn't read right. It's confusing. You probably need to break it into two sentences. "Still, she dragged herself onto a bus when she woke the next afternoon. She headed for..." or something like that.

    I like the imagery created by the "symphony of lock clicks and clangs."

    And I love where you end this. Nice cliffhanger at 250 to make me want to read more.

  6. Correction: "Came" running isn't present tense, as I mistakenly stated before--both "came" and "went" are past tense. The issue is rather one of the direction of movement. Normally, one would say "she went," to show movement toward something, but I believe the idiom in this case applies, and that Anna "came" to the summoner (still past tense, so pardon that error). Perhaps a better editor than me could clarify this issue and/or this idiomatic phrase. I'm also in agreement with the editing comments of Ms. Crepeau.

    Again, good luck. This is a fun premise.

  7. I enjoy cozy mysteries, and this has the makings of one I'd like to read.

    I was confused at the beginning, though, because of this line: "Anna went running because if she didn't, she would never hear the end of it. If there is an afterlife, Anna will have a chubby little Italian lady dishing her meatballs dripping in red sauce from a bottomless pot saying, "Would it have killed you to call?" On a loop. For eternity."

    It's a funny image, but Grandma was the one who called, and Anna always came running in answer, so I didn't understand why she would think she'd hear this line over and over. It didn't seem to fit with the set up.

    A picky little thing--some names were repeated unnecessarily (see "Anna" in the above quote, for example). Easy to clean up if you know to watch for it.

  8. Fun and cozy and Grandma Rose sounds like a character.

    I, too, questioned why Anna, who comes running whenever her grandma calls, waits till the next day, and then drags herself. There's meatballs waiting! Get cracking! I'd buy it if she were on a hot date or something when she got the call. That would be something to regret dragging yourself away from.

    For whatever reason, and my perception could be off, I didn't get the impression from your description that Grandma Rose is a big driver. But you've got her circling for hours to avoid a rodent encounter. That part confused me.

    Also, why'd she wake up in the afternoon? Do big city attorneys usually get to have a lie-in?

    Loved the symphony of lock clicks.

    Great start, would love to read more.

  9. The first time I read this, I ran out for Italian food, it made me so deliciously hungry! I look forward to finding out more about Anna and her relationship with Grandma Rose. Good luck, Alexis!

  10. I like the premise--that grandmas and a granddaughter will solve the murder mystery and it's fun how you link it to Italian food.
    I'm wondering why Anna would wait until afternoon to respond to a wild call--maybe she's a late night lawyer, but it seemed the late start is more student than professional.
    I love the lock clicks. And how Anna flicks her cigarette into a bird bath is an interesting insight into her character that I could see would clash with Rose.
    Great start and I would keep reading.

  11. Very cute! This sounds like a fun story.

    You have a contradiction going on with Anna saying she always goes running when her grandmother calls, but she waits a day to respond to Rose's urgent message. It doesn't jive.

    The voice is catchy and readable, the writing is strong. I'm hooked.

    Good luck!

  12. 50 pages please

  13. CLOSED! Full goes to Stefanie Lieberman.