Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1375 would like feedback on the following revision:



I am seeking representation for Hamilton Boggs, a 91,000 word YA fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of writers as diverse as Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, and Diane Duane.

When orphaned 13-year-old Hamilton Boggs comes home to find his apartment destroyed and his grandmother mortally wounded, he learns he is a young wizard with a price on his head. [Who tells him this? Does he just figure it out?] After barely escaping capture by the chimera Ruzgar, the right-hand monster of the mysterious Yellow King, Hamilton travels to Savannah, Georgia, one of the last neutral cities in the war-torn wizarding world. There, he is given refuge at Westley House, a southern manor converted into a school for magic for the refugee children pouring into the city.

But Savannah, Hamilton soon learns, is anything but safe. It is crawling with spies and mercenaries, all of them looking for a secretive monster and the terrible weapon it is said to possess. [Usually we don't think of monsters as having weapons other than their jaws and claws and laser vision and fire breath.] Befriended by Daisy Blue, the only daughter of the manor-turned-school’s scions, and Ozzie DeLillo, Savannah’s young magical genius, Hamilton begins to his own search for the monster, intent on doing what he can to fight the Yellow King and avenge the death of his grandmother. Aided by a series of unlikely allies (including a Bartleby Cat, a bad omen dealer, a Voodoo prince and the last king of the Dalwyn, a magical race banned and persecuted in previous centuries), Hamilton, Daisy and Ozzie work to find the monster before its weapon can fall into the wrong hands. 

Along the way, they unearth the duplicitous scheming of Savannah’s Mayor Wallace, discovering the lengths [how far] he will go to profit off the misfortune of the refugees. As asylum seekers continue to flood into the city, ghettoized in a camp on the outskirts of town and vilified by the mayor and his followers, Hamilton and his friends must race to secure the weapon before Wallace’s secret pact with the Yellow King can be concluded [Do they know about this secret pact? If so, it's not really secret. Also, if there's a pact, why isn't it "concluded"? They haven't signed the paperwork yet?] and the Savannah they know destroyed forever. [Why would the mayor of Savannah want Savannah destroyed forever? He's already the top dog in the city. What more does he want?]


Though originally from Boulder, Colorado, I currently live in Istanbul, Turkey, where I teach and do freelance writing and advertising work for several magazines and companies. I am a member of SCBWI. 


Notes

Hamilton's goal is to find the monster who has a secret weapon. Which is pretty much stated three times:

P3, S3: Hamilton begins his own search for the monster,

P3, S4: Hamilton, Daisy and Ozzie work to find the monster before its weapon can fall into the wrong hands

P4, S2: Hamilton and his friends must race to secure the weapon


The stakes, apparently, are that if they fail, the Savannah they know will be destroyed forever. Still not clear how Savannah is described as neutral if there's a war of sorts in progress there.

Characters mentioned in query: Hamilton, Daisy, Ozzie, Yellow King, Ruzgar, monster, grandmother, Mayor Wallace, Voodoo prince, Dalwyn King, bad omen dealer, Bartlelby cat. (Not to mention spies, mercenaries, refugees, and mayor's followers). Too many. We can do without the four unlikely allies, and if you start when Hamilton arrives in Savannah, we won't need grandma or Ruzgar.

How do these kids plan to get the monster's terrible weapon when all the spies and mercenaries in town can't do it? With their great magical powers? Hamilton has progressed from not even knowing he was a wizard to being a really powerful one pretty fast. In between their goal and what happens if they fail, we need to know their plan, what goes wrong, what they do about it. 

Is the monster working with the Yellow King, or are they on opposite sides? If you don't tell us how they're connected, maybe you should limit the query to one villain. We can assume the mayor and Yellow King are working together as one villain. But I'm not clear on what the two (or more) sides in this war are fighting for. 


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Face-Lift 1377



No Need to Guess the Plot

Beast Weaver


Original Version

Dear Agent,

In all the nine kingdoms there is no place quite as safe and boring as the village of Ruthaven, no mythical creatures and no adventures to be had, the perfect place to hide a future king. [I'm not a stickler for sentences actually having to be sentences, but this being the first sentence, and the first impression, I'd go with: In all the nine kingdoms there is no place as safe and boring as the village of Ruthaven. With no mythical creatures and no adventures to be had, it's the perfect place to hide a future king.] Edmund Olivale has done his best to raise Lancel, the future king, alongside his daughter Kira, [Is Lancel Edmund's son? Stepson?] but when an assassin shows up at their front door the village is no longer a safe place. 

Edmund flees with his family to the eastern mountains, searching for an old friend. With the head and wings of an eagle combined with the torso of a man and the arms, legs, and tail of a lion, Edmond’s friend is a beast of his own creation. 
["His" meaning Edmund's friend or Edmund?] [Sounds like a griffin, although a griffin doesn't have a human torso. Then again, what difference does it make what kind of torso it is? If he were smart he'd have given it a torso of something less vulnerable, like a rhinoceros or a dump truck.] Now Kira knows why her father taught her the beast language of Rarack. He’s a beast weaver and with a little practice, she can be one too. 

[English to Rarack Translator

Human : Rarack
Lioness : Rarack
Weapon : Rarack
Villager : Rarack
Covfefe : Rarack

Typical Beast Conversation

Beast 1: Rarack rarack!
Beast 2: Rarack rarack rarack!
Beast 1: Rarack.]

Kira will need her new ability to help her brother earn his rightful place on the throne of Vanderhelm. The creatures she creates become increasingly valuable [vital?] when the children are separated from their father. [What role are the beasts playing? Scouts? Guides? Bodyguards?] With little knowledge of the nine kingdoms, they place their faith in a well-traveled fifteen-year-old boy named Varro to guide them from kingdom to kingdom as they try to build an army.

To win support they must embark on quests like defeating an army of vengeful battle-toads, gathering ingredients to cure a paralyzed king, and recovering a flightless groundhawk that serves as a kingdom’s mascot. Soon the three kids find themselves with an army of followers, but how can they best assassins that seem to pop out of every corner and how can they ever beat the warlock king who can turn himself into the most fearsome beast imaginable, a three-headed dragon? [They have no chance of success. The good news is you won't have to write a sequel.]

Beast Weaver is a middle-grade fantasy novel, clocking in at 60,000 words. [I haven't seen "clocking in at" used for anything other than time. "Coming in at" might be better, although you could say Beast Weaver is a 60,000-word middle-grade fantasy novel.] I chose you as a literary agent [I'm writing to you] because you have represented M.G. fantasy before. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

Unless there's a good reason for your future king's name to be so similar to Lancelot, change it.

Why is Edmund's son the future king? Who is the current king? Why and from whom did Lancel have to be hidden, and how come he's now free to travel everywhere recruiting an army instead of finding another hiding place? What enemy is Lancel's army going to fight, and why?

If you've got two beast weavers in your family, wouldn't it be better to create an army of beasts instead of recruiting a bunch of puny unreliable humans? 

Why would soldiers be willing to join an army led by kids, and if they are willing to do so, why weren't they willing a few weeks ago? Just because the kids rescued their mascot and stomped on some toads?

I think you need to rewrite the query in a way that answers some of my questions and doesn't inspire me to ask so many other ones.


It might help to focus the query on one character.

Even when I offer Guess the Plot, they're all written by me and the same two or three other people. Maybe no one comes to this blog anymore?

Monday, June 04, 2018

Face-Lift 1376

Guess the Plot


The Power of Dusk

1. The power of dusk is a curious thing / Make a one man weep, make another man sing. 

2. 17-year-old Morgan forms a bond of friendship with Jonathan and his sister Ava. But he soon wonders if the siblings have anything to do with the gruesome murders that have been committed lately . . . at dusk.

3. After Carrie Silver's fiancĂ© departs in his sailboat on the short trip  to the mainland, he mysteriously disappears. Three days later, Carrie sets out . . . at dusk . . . on a stolen sailboat with her little terrier, Fickle, to find him. 

4. They come out . . . at dusk . . . and terrorize the small town of Loganville. But are they werewolves or vampires? Or both? It's up to blind sheriff Paul Matthews to end the carnage.

5. Lulu never worries about daytime, but as the sun sets, and night approaches, a cold sweat shakes her body, for she knows this could be the night she dies. That's . . . the power of dusk.

6. Surgeon Gene McAdoo has never separated conjoined twins, but not only has he taken on the task, he's also planning to perform the operation outdoors . . . at dusk.



Original Version


I'm seeking the right agent to represent my manuscript THE POWER OF DUSK. The novel is New Adult – suspense with a word count of 85,459. Based on your varied interests, I believe you're the ideal fit for my manuscript. [Everyone has varied interests. Which specific interests are relevant to this book?]

THE POWER OF DUSK is the saga of MORGAN, a seventeen-year-old striving to escape life with his alcoholic and neglectful father in small-town Pennsylvania. [Seventeen is a good age for Young Adult books. New Adult books usually feature twenty-something MCs.] When Morgan must earn money to feed himself, he develops a friendship with AVA and JONATHAN. [After reading the first half of that sentence, I expect the second half to be something like . . . he takes a job at the local Exxon station. How does developing this friendship get Morgan money to feed himself?] As their bond deepens, Morgan receives the guidance and love absent from his life. [How old are these people giving him guidance?] Soon he learns the siblings have a secret. A dark secret he promises to keep. [What is the secret? Don't worry, this agent isn't going to reveal the secret to the world. She just wants to know whether the secret is they're vampires or they're sleeping together. Or both.] Meanwhile, the small town is on edge following a series of gruesome murders. [Is this the same small town where he was living with his neglectful alcoholic father? If I were trying to escape from my home life, I'd go farther than across town. Especially if the town I'm in is the scene of a recent series of gruesome unsolved murders.] A stranger from Ava['s] and Jonathan's past threatens danger. [Too vague.] When the threat becomes too great, Morgan must conquer his fears and alter his plans for the future. [Also vague.] But the consequences bring an extraordinary danger Morgan must defeat on his own to survive. [Still vague.]


Notes

We need to know what Morgan's goal is, how he plans to achieve it, what's stopping him, what he does about that. With specific information. Danger is threatened. The threat becomes too great. The danger becomes extraordinary. Who is the stranger, and why is he/she threatening our hero? Without specifics, we don't know what sets this book apart from other books.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Beginning 1082


As I look back over a long life I must admit I miss my two Dobies, my show dogs, my dear companions, more than my kids. Of course I love my kids, but we’ve not been in contact for decades. Shit happens.

Don’t get me wrong I’d give each kid a lung or kidney if they needed a body part – but those two dogs, Spock and Sugar Bear, [I'd even give them my heart or my tail.] [Sugar Bear, obviously named after the 60s cartoon Bing Crosby-sounding spokesbear who convinced kids that Sugar Smacks would give them super strength, and Spock, obviously named after Spock.] well they gave my life meaning in a different way and they loved me as I loved them. [Unlike my kids who haven't sent me a Mothers Day card in decades, after I carried them in my womb for nine months. Ingrates.] Animals are different from kids. I don’t know why. [If fish could talk, they'd say, "Humans are different from fish. I don't know why.] It is what it is. 

Like my horses, but that is a different story. What is heaven? Will I have my boys back – those lovely dogs who made my life worth living when a marriage was busting apart? I had to say goodbye to each one – as they died, too young, big dogs don’t live long.

The joy, the funny sense of humor each had. So I remain grateful I had these lovely, whacko (at times) dogs that loved me as I loved them. [The end.] 

In the grand scheme of things what I hope for is . . . a decent, hardworking man who does crazy butt-dances while wiggling all over when I get home from the store, howls at the moon, pisses on fireplugs, and chases cats. Knowing how to make a good martini is a plus, but you can't have everything, can you?


Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuation: khazar-khum/jcwrites


Notes

Though Spock and Sugar Bear can never be replaced, I think you should adopt a couple new dogs.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Face-Lift 1375



Guess the Plot

Hamilton Boggs

1. Average man, average life, average thoughts. It's literary. 

2. Orphaned boy enrolls at a school for wizards, befriends a boy and girl there, and saves the world from monsters and evil wizards. It's like nothing you've ever read before.

3. Hamilton Boggs was an unfortunate name for a fae, so he preferred to go by Ilton. As the local mischief maker for the swine population, he is hoping to move up in the world to equines. And maybe grow an inch or two. 

4. Curious knockoff of the broadway hit. 

5. Everyone knew Hamilton Boggs was the most ruthless lawyer in Dubuque, but no one at the Merry Bear Leather Club expected him to go quite that far for a divorce case.

6. After winning the state spelling bee, Hamilton Boggs heads for D.C. for the Nationals. But someone doesn't want Hamilton to win, and will do anything to prevent it. Including murder.




Original Version

I am seeking representation for Hamilton Boggs, a 91,000 word YA fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of writers as diverse as Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, and Diane Duane.

Hamilton Boggs thinks he is an average 13-year-old boy, [13 is a good age for a middle-grade book, the kind with wizards and monsters. YA readers seem to prefer characters their own age.] but when he comes home to find his apartment destroyed and his grandmother mortally wounded, he learns he is a young wizard with a price on his head. [Hmm. My apartment's destroyed, my grandmother's dead . . . it can't be a robbery gone horribly wrong; it can only mean I'm a young wizard with a price on my head.] After barely escaping capture by the chimera Ruzgar, the right-hand monster of the mysterious Yellow King, Hamilton travels to Savannah, GA, one of the last neutral cities in the war-torn wizarding world. There, he is given refuge and hidden at Westley House, a southern manor converted into a school for magic for the refugee children flooding into the city. [What's the point of traveling to a neutral city if he has to be given refuge and hidden? It doesn't sound so neutral if bad guys are there hunting people down.] [Are all the refugee children wizards? Or does this school teach wizardry to non-wizards? Either way, if kids are flooding into the city, one manor house isn't gonna hold them all.] 

At Westley House, Hamilton befriends Daisy Blue, the only daughter of the manor-turned-school’s scions, and Ozzie DeLillo, Savannah’s young magical genius. As he navigates the strange new world of southern magic, Hamilton soon discovers that Savannah is crawling with spies and mercenaries, all of whom seem to be looking for a secretive monster and the terrible weapon it is said to possess. [He's being hidden in this manor house, but he discovers what's going on throughout the city?] When Hamilton runs across this very monster in the misty pine forests around Westley House, he is drawn deeper into the conflict, discovering along the way who he really is and what role he has to play in the war tearing the magical world apart. [It's a rare 13-year-old who runs into a monster with a terrible weapon while alone in a misty forest, and uses the event as an opportunity for self-examination.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

On the one hand, it's refreshing that you haven't referenced Harry Potter. On the other hand, you've got a school for magic in a wizarding world, and an orphaned MC, so maybe you should confess.

Who is fighting against whom in this war tearing the magical world apart? And why?

Ruzgar and the Yellow King get mentioned once and then dropped, leading me to wonder how important they are.  The same with Daisy and Ozzie (AKA Hermione and Ron). And Grandma.

It's well-written, but it doesn't get very far into the plot. Possibly you could condense this into something like:

When orphaned 13-year-old Hamilton Boggs arrives in Savannah, Georgia, one of the last neutral cities in the war-torn wizarding world, he finds refuge at Westley House, a southern manor converted into a school for magic. Savannah is crawling with spies and mercenaries, all of them looking for a secretive monster and the terrible weapon it is said to possess. When Hamilton runs across this very monster in the misty pine forests around Westley House, he is drawn deep into the war tearing the magical world apart.

That gives you room to expound on the war and Hamilton's role therein and what will happen if he fails to accomplish whatever he needs to accomplish.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Face-Lift 1374

Guess the Plot

The Miller's Daughter

1. When her father's millstone breaks, Sera knows their family is doomed. So in exchange for a new millstone, she marries a tall, dark, and very odd stranger. Nothing will go wrong, right? Its not like a fairy tale.

2. After Eza, the miller's daughter, runs away, she meets a man who offers to help her find work. Little does she know her benefactor is the crown prince! But before they even fall in love, Eza is stolen away by another prince who wants to marry her. Will this story end unhappily ever after?

3. Two years after Jack "The Miller" Parker died in an electric chair for a twenty-state killing spree, his daughter Fay recovers from the coma he left her in. When Fay realizes he actually escaped she begins plotting her revenge for her slaughtered pets, nomadic childhood, and lack of birthday presents.

4. Bawdy tale of a fair lass from Canterbury who dispenses STDs in ye Olde London Towne.

5. She had flaxen skin, wheaten hair, eyes the color of rye, tasted of granola, smelled of yeast. I loved kneading her rising rolls and feeling her moist buns. She had yet to be ground down by life, crushed and winnowed to the winds. I couldn't wait for the day I'd finally get to put my loaf in her oven.



Original Version

Eza has a problem, one she is trying to escape. When she stumbles into Rurith, she is scared but determined that no one should know her past. While wandering through the market square, she meets a man who offers to help her find work. However, he fails to mention that he is the crown prince, Thames. They form a fast friendship, despite the secrets between them. [I wasn't sure at first whether Rurith was a person or a place. Also, "stumbles into" makes me wonder if she's drunk. "Stumbles upon" or "happens upon" are better. Also, if it's a place you can stumble upon, with a market square, I tend to think it's a small village, but villages don't have crown princes. Is Thames the crown prince of Rurith? Is Rurith a kingdom? Not sure I buy the crown prince offering to help a stranger find work.]

Then, an emissary from a nearby kingdom arrives at the castle. He explains that he is looking for the Veredian prince's betrothed who has been missing for a few weeks. As he describes the girl, it becomes apparent that he is looking for Eza. The story the emissary tells of how the princess was kidnapped does not make sense. Thames begins to suspect that there is something the emissary is hiding. Worried for Eza's safety, he tries to protect her. Still, she is found and taken away. [Did he try hiding her in the castle? Or is he still refusing to tell her who he is? This emissary can't just barge into the castle, search for Eza, and take her away if she doesn't want to go.] Not sure if they will ever see each other again, the fate for them both [their story] looks like it might be [end] unhappily ever after.

The Miller’s Daughter is complete at 95,000 words. It blends plot twists with the nostalgia of classic fairy tales including Rumpelstiltskin, The Frog Prince, and Sleeping Beauty. [That's pretty long for a fairy tale. What age group are you targeting? If adults, you might want to mention a novel instead of fairy tales. There are dozens of novels in which a royal poses as someone else (King Richard, in Ivanhoe or The Adventures of Robin Hood; Aragorn as Strider in LOTR; the prince in The Prince and the Pauper. I don't think you've described the plot in a way that shows much similarity to any of the stories you mention.] With a strong and stubborn heroine, it plays on the clichĂ© narrative of love in fairy tales as Eza searches to find a true sense of self, the freedom she has always wanted, and a family to call her own.


Notes

Maybe you should mention that Eza and Thames fall in love, rather than just say they form a fast friendship.

It's okay to reveal in the query the secret Eza doesn't want anyone to know. Many miller's daughters would jump at the chance to become the Veredian princess. What's the downside?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New Beginning 1081



May 4, 1970. Her life changed.

Shilo lost her unarmed brother and her sweet room mate [roommate] Johanna. Now decades later, sick of swallowing the bile[,] she woke up angry in 2018, pissed to her limit and decided that will do. Time to find the shooters. Just enough. The two people she loved the most, ripped from life so young. For what?

As a mother, grandmother, soon to be great grand mother [grandmother,] Shiloh woke up very angry that anniversary day. She’d find the shooters and make them pay. After vomiting at dawn she rinsed her mouth and looked at her old sad face in the mirror.

“You sons of bitches. You are so done. You’ll know what it means to… die.”

Her chin lifted, she wiped her tears. Justice would be served. Her life was coming to a close. She had nothing to lose. But those bastards sure did.

“Just watch me,” she promised the two people who meant the world, the whole world to her. “I’m going to make it right.” Because no else has…or will.

She showered, went down stairs [downstairs] and had a great full fry breakfast – pork belly pea meal rolled bacon, eggs, fried green tomatoes and how she relished the sour taste of those ‘matoes.

“I’m coming for you. You had no right. If no one has or [else] will make it right, I’m gonna.”

Shilo sat on her computer for hours. Days. [Then decided it would be more productive to sit in front of it.] When she got the name of the man who authorized the shooting she got in her car, loaded for bear.

Payback is a bitch – and its [it's] named Shilo. With stage four whatever, she had one more thing to do before she died. And bloody hell, she was going to [do] it. She grinned as she hit the road.

This was going to feel real good.

Without taking her eyes off the road, she flipped open the picnic basket riding in the passenger seat and groped around for the ziplock full'a those 'matoes.

Gotta keep the bile pumping.


Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuation: JCWrites


Notes

If Shilo were going to die alone in a few months, it might be plausible that she wants to go out with this kind of bang, but she's a mother, grandmother, soon to be great grandmother. I find it hard to believe she wouldn't rather spend her remaining time with some of her family than trying to kill some guy who's probably pushing eighty by now.

Neither of the women killed at Kent State was named Johanna. So you've either created a third (fictional) female victim or changed the name of a victim. Not that this isn't done. Saving Private Ryan was loosely based on a real person who wasn't named Ryan. Not sure why this feels different to me.

Shilo originally sets out to find the shooters. At least 29 guardsmen shot their weapons, so is she going after all 29, or does she somehow know which two shot the bullets that killed her brother and Johanna?

Later Shilo is just going after the man who authorized the massacre, which makes more sense, although killing a guy who has maybe one more decade to live isn't much payback for the six decades taken from the victims, plus how does she know that anyone authorized it?

If you're sending a few pages or chapters to an agent or editor, a bunch of minor errors on page 1 is likely to doom you.

I recommend writing a novel in which a team of people with stage 4 whatever parachute into some danger zone on a mission to kill the head of a terrorist group or the American president. It would be like The Dirty Dozen, but instead of convicted killers it's terminal patients.



Saturday, May 12, 2018

New Beginning 1080



I was in a taxi  in Asia and my foot hit a bag on the floor. I opened it after pulling it up on my lap. OMG. Money, money and more money. Stunned, I shut it quickly. I did NOT want the driver to see/notice this frigging huge windfall and get killed for it. I live in a third word (emerging?) country.  Emerging from what? Wish I knew.

I left the taxi after fighting over the over charge these countries pull. 50 HK dollars for each bag in HK taxis. Taxi drivers in China taking off with your bags still in the trunk. Laos (pronounced Low as in allowed) enough.

I had a huge bundle of free money. A fortune.  Enough for a year or more in the shit hole I was in. Five years in Nepal, oh God can I really get to Katmandu? Landing there is pretty tricky by plane. Too old to walk to first base camp, but with dough I could hire a Sherpa team of men to haul my stuff and afford to buy or rent a yak I could ride to my one bucket dream. With all this cash, should I live out that part of my bucket list or try and find the person whose money it was and give it back.

So I prayed a lot and…

For once, God answered me, saying, "That's My money. I left it in the cab while I ran into Starbucks for a decaf latte, and the frigging driver took off with My luggage in the trunk. Damn Asian taxi drivers, they'll all burn in hell if I have My way. And I do have My way. Anyway, do Me a solid and drop it off at the nearest SPCA chapter. 

Oh, and forget your bucket list. If you can't get to the first base camp without a yak, you won't make it fifty meters up Everest, you moron.


Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuatioin: EE



Notes

P1: Sounds like you're saying you don't want the driver to get killed for the money.

Third world

P2: Last sentence doesn't make sense. No need for pronunciation lesson.

P3: Kathmandu. Question mark after last sentence.

Friday, May 11, 2018

New Beginning 1079


I was man who has been on estro stuff. I had my apple (adam’s or Adam? I’m Russian so English isn’t well very much) removed, got new nose with a bridge (bridges for cars?), and chin something done to smooth and round out classic but related at Fabio salute to romance novel covers. I am in a strange country, staying with gay friend who took off leaving me alone after I screamed and yelled in the hall belonging to his apartment building and pounding my forehead on the tile floor. The other night.

It my 22nd birthday. I had face mask after new nose and chin, I didn’t know or care the neighbors opened their doors to see if I was being killed or killing. Gay friend, also Ruskie told them he told me he picked me up from the floor assured the neighbors I was coming out of aneasth - whatever they call it, a gas, and please, don’t call the police. I fought and kicked with my spikes. Drew blood. Laughed. Happy I hurt him. He’s stupid.

He wai’d, in Thailand saying mi pen lie or some words I couldn’t get to the opening door people. Then dragged me into his apartment and I sleep in the bathroom. On the floor. I explained him floor in bathroom better than couch. Now my back hurts. My spikes hurt back when I walk and hurts when I flip flop my beautiful long hair.

I don’t know but he never cares or gives care over my hormones or my birthday. But I make him take me for big dinner, on a boat on a river. With band. He must pay for me. I am guest. Is Russian way.

They made me trade places with man I did not meet. Now I live with crazy family. Many people take pictures of us. I have new name. I am called Caitlin.


Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuation: Khazarkhum


Notes

Deleting the words "a" and "the" everywhere, or using them everywhere you've left them out would make the Russian accent more consistent. Unless the person is learning proper English but only sometimes reverts to the broken English.

If the entire story is told in this POV, I hope it's a (very) short story. Readers won't want to work this hard for very long.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New Beginning 1078



I am sick. Sick from getting messages from the other side. I am not special but I see things and stuff. Dead people I’ve never met. Relatives of friends, I feel their joy, see the brightest colors and the cookies, so enticing and yummy. They smell of vanilla and ginger and nutmeg.

And my great great grandmamma. When I am still and quiet she kind of whispers to me. I made great fruit pies she says. And I loved my garden and chickens and that old goat who butted me when I was bent low weeding. Bloody Billy I called him. His ass butting when I bent down to weed the garden toppled me so much I told my husband he goes or I go. You pick.

So goat stew it was. Never enjoyed a meal so much in my life. No curry, just meat, earth root veg and Bloody Billy. Yum and my buttocks never felt his horns again. We cooked him fresh, hung and root cellared parts and hung his horns on our door, on the outside of the porch.

That son of a gun was better in a pot than on the hoof.

Although I guess you could say that goat did get in one last attack on my buttocks, since the aftermath of my Bloody Billy feast was like a three-day bender fueled with whiskey and Taco Bell.


Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuation: Khazar-khum


Notes

P1: Delete the first two sentences. You don't follow up the claim that you're sick. Get rid of things or stuff, no need for both.

P2: Change "And" to "I see." Delete "kind of." Quotation marks around what Grandmamma whispers, or italicizing it if it's not really happening would help. "I loved my garden and chickens and that old goat" followed by making goat stew seems contradictory. Why didn't she just tie the goat to a tree while weeding? She wouldn't give a goat access to the garden anyway, weeding or not.

P3: "meat, earth root veg and Bloody Billy." Aren't Bloody Billy and the meat the same thing? 

"hung his horns on our door, on the outside of the porch." = "hung his horns on the outside of the porch door."

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Face-Lift 1373

Guess the Plot

To Chase a Sky

1. Earl Watley's mom and dad are so dirt poor Earl doesn't even have a sky over his head. No sun, no clouds, no birds, no nothing. The day he turns eighteen, man, he's heading for Montana.

2. Lani and her dragon love soaring into the air and touching the sky. They'd have a good chance of winning the upcoming dragon race, but unfortunately Lani's dragon is invisible and invisible dragons have been banned. 

3. Cryptozoologist Gary Mursted has heard that there are fairies out on Key West. And you can get your mind out of the gutter right now, thankyouverymuch.

4. Kailee Bountry needs a lot of miracles, including a lung, heart, kidney and pancreas transplant. Her only dream is to see the sky up close, even closer than an airplane. Can astronaut Barry Kender and NASA scientists make her dream come true?

5. Lenny has always dreamed of becoming a pilot, but with his paralysis he believes the dream to be out of reach. Can the mysterious  old man who just moved in next door teach Lenny that his dream is not so far out of reach? 

6. Veronica Chase follows the clouds in Tornado Alley, posting close-ups of extreme storms on Youtube. When, she meets rival storm chaser Maximilian Sky, her posts start trending, but  not because of the twisters. Because of (hunky) Max. Caught in a compromising position with him in front of a record-breaking cyclone, will she choose to post and possibly lose him forever?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Magic-less in a world of magic, Lani is as invisible as her best friend and bonded dragon, Orys. Flying is the only thing they can do better than anyone else. The Ayrnec, a dragon race, is Lani’s chance to show the world her worth—and the winner’s prize is her only shot at reuniting with her long-lost father. However, Orys [has been] banned due to his invisibility. [Is Lani also banned due to her invisibility?]

Determined to find a way in, Lani and Orys search for the cause of his invisibility. They traverse alleys held up by more spellwork than stone, avenues gleaming with runework gears, night markets thick with spices and red with lanterns, and discover the truth in an ancient dragon’s cave:

Lani’s magic was stolen, [So she hasn't always been magic-less. If Orys lost his colors when she lost her magic, it's pretty obvious what caused Orys's invisibility. Now, what caused Lani's?] the effect leaking across their bond and taking Orys’ colors. [Tack this sentence onto the previous paragraph.]

In a city of enchanted machinery, [alleys held up by more spellwork than stone, and avenues gleaming with runework gears,] Lani unearths a blood magician who claims he can give Orys back his colors. Blood magic is illegal, but unless she tracks down the thief in possession of her magic in time for the race, this may be her only choice. [chance]

What she doesn’t realize is the blood magician intends to break her bond with her best friend, the dragon who sees her when no one else can. [What does he get out of breaking their bond?]

TO CHASE A SKY is a standalone YA fantasy with MG appeal, complete at 94,000 words. It is an #ownvoices, Taiwan-inspired novel. [It sounds more like an MG novel with YA appeal. How old is Lani?]

I am a Taiwanese bookstagrammer with 14.6k followers on Instagram.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


Notes

Would a fresh coat of paint make Orys visible?

Restoring Lani's magic and Orys's colors might be a satisfying ending, but far more satisfying would be for them to use their invisibility to take revenge on the race's administrators by burning down the judges' platform, crashing into the other dragons during the race, and dive-bombing the spectators. It would be like the prom scene at the end of Carrie.

Even if Lani is YA-age, this query sounds more appealing if the book is MG. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Feedback Request


The author of New Beginning 1072 has provided a new attempt, in which:


"I have moved the beginning of the narrative back a bit to hopefully clear a few things up:"



The salt that gave the Blood Flats their color made them near-impossible to farm. [I would just say "impossible," unless people are farming there, in which case I would say nothing.] They also flooded with seawater on occasion, and [forcing] the small collective of which I was a part [member?] would need to migrate to the forest. [Why are the people living where they can't grow food and their homes flood with sea water? Why not live in the forest?] However, the Blood Flats did have their uses; the barrenness of the land provided excellent visibility, the priests had to walk for several days to bring us supplies, [I take back my suggestion that they live in the forest. I now recommend that the collective move to wherever it is the priests go to get the supplies.] and there were a few caves and unpolluted springs. Best of all, some of the rock could be poisonous.  [It sounds like you think you've listed uses of the Blood Flats, but nothing you've listed tells me what the flats are used for. You've simply described the flats: barren, with a few caves and springs and rocks.] [Also, some of the rocks could be poisonous? Why not say some of the rocks were poisonous?] Unfortunately, we were having difficulty getting small enough pieces to make into weapons.

We had rope, of course, [Why "of course"? I wasn't wondering if you had rope, nor was I thinking rope would be great to have on the Blood Flats.] woven from the few tough grasses that grew in the less toxic parts of the Blood Flats. It was great for mundane use, [like making rope ladders for when we had to migrate to the forest and live in tree houses,] but would not stand up long to the Dragon Warlord. Wood had a similar problem. Our only hope of defeating the Dragon warlord lay in stone, and our combined talents. [So far the only talent you've mentioned is rope weaving.]


Soon, the Dragon Warlord would need to eat. [Wait, is the Dragon Warlord a dragon? Why do they call it a warlord?] We were running out of time. [To do what? 
Does the Dragon Warlord eat people, or does it/he force people to provide it/him with food? ] Han, trying to pick up a boulder, collapsed. [You're running out of time, and this guy's trying to pick up a boulder? For what?] He had been using Hope to work harder than anyone else, not quite believing that the innocent-looking blue leaves could be deadly. [What blue leaves? He collapsed while trying to pick up a boulder for some reason, not while doing something with blue leaves. Unless...Is "Hope" a typo, and he was using Rope? Or is Hope a plant with blue leaves?] [Why would a person try to pick up a boulder? According to Wikipedia, in common usage, a boulder is too big to be moved by a person. They provide this photograph and caption.) 



This balancing boulder, "Balanced Rock" stands in Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 
















Notes

If you're worried about a dragon, and you haven't yet come up with a weapon that can defeat it, I would think you'd live in the forest, not a place with great visibility.

I'm sure all my questions are answered eventually in the book, but if we can avoid inspiring so many questions in the first few paragraphs it'll be a big improvement.