Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Face-Lift 617


Guess the Plot

Always Music

1. The magic box left by the dwarf in gratitude for a night of revelry plays the same annoying tune whenever you open it. Little does Donald know, that tune is the key to Wizard Langebert's cupboard, which must be opened before snow falls, or Princess Lovely will perish.

2. When violence breaks out on the streets, Sarah seeks refuge in a music store--and in the arms of its hunky owner, Jack. When Jack claims to be the son of Apollo, the Greek god of music, will Sarah swoon? Or has she heard that song before?

3. Pixies move into the space under the porch of a family of Kentucky hillbillies and enchant the surly son so he starts singing all the time. He hates it until his uncle gives him a guitar, and soon everyone calls him The Bard. For the first time he thinks he might have a future outside prison.

4. Nothing much happens. Gus Nickelby can't figure the meaning of life or get laid, and the damn radio won't turn off.

5. A rare form of synaesthesia is sweeping the country, causing teenagers to hear colors as music. Is it a blessing? A curse? Or a nefarious plot for world domination by a disgruntled high school band teacher?

6. Some people hear voices — but newly elected President, Floyd D.P. Ratzenkugel, hears the Bee Gees. Night and day. Day and night. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. When terrorists nuke Arizona, pray to God the military don't call during "Jive Talkin'".


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

What if you were fated to fall in love with a Greek god? [Are we talking Aphrodite or Hephaestus?]

What if he was fated to lose everyone who fell for him? [Next week's writing exercise, for those who want to get a head start: Using a randomly chosen fake plot from this blog, write an entire query letter in which every sentence is a question.]

Sarah Parrish isn’t one for fantasies—the result of an overbearing mother and a sheltered upbringing. But when she’s the only one who can see a swordsman slaying people on the streets of Baltimore, Sarah wonders if she’s fallen into one. [One what? Oh, fantasy. That was 35 words ago, and not even in this sentence. Rearranging: Sarah Parrish isn’t one for fantasies—the result of an overbearing mother and a sheltered upbringing—but she wonders if she’s fallen into one when she sees . . . ] [Actually, you might want to dump the overbearing mother and sheltered upbringing. Let's get to the good stuff.] Fearing for her life and her sanity, she seeks refuge in a local music store—and finds it in the owner’s arms. [A business owner embracing a stranger who just entered his store is about as likely as sword fighting on Baltimore's streets.]

Jack is everything Sarah’s mother ever warned her about—and everything she didn’t. [That's true of everybody in the world.] He has a frightening past, a razor-sharp tongue, and enough rage to make Sarah wonder if her mother’s been right all along: men are not to be trusted. [Anyone who works in retail is going to have fits of rage, but what does that have to do with whether men can be trusted?] [Also, if you just met a guy and already you've witnessed him exploding with rage a few times, what are you hanging around for?] But Jack isn’t an ordinary man at all. He’s a god of music, with enough talent to send Sarah into the kind of fantasies only Apollo himself could inspire—or… Apollo’s son.

Jack abandoned his birthright years ago, when the gods sent a swordsman to kill his human wife. He’s lived in bitter exile among humans ever since, hiding from his fate, waiting for the opportunity to take revenge. [Revenge on all the gods?] Seeking refuge in him might be the biggest mistake of Sarah’s life. [She still needs refuge?] When the swordsman strikes closer to home, [He killed Jack's wife; how much closer to home can you get?] and her mother and best friend disappear, Sarah starts to think the gods are conspiring against them all. [Maybe the Greek gods wouldn't have lost their clout if they weren't still using swords to settle their differences.]

She's right.

ALWAYS MUSIC is an urban fantasy, complete at 120,000 words. The first few pages have been pasted below. I would be delighted to send you a partial or full manuscript at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

I assume Apollo didn't name his son Jack, so my question is, why didn't Jack choose a more god-like name? For instance, Springsteen.

I don't see how the opportunity for revenge is going to pop up while Jack is working in a music store. And what kind of revenge can a god of music take on gods of more macho stuff, like war and Greco-Roman wrestling?

You're the kind of person who "isn't one for fantasies." The guy you're attracted to claims to be a Greek god. And you buy it?

Is there a swordsman slaying people on the streets of Baltimore? Why can't anyone except Sarah see him? Can they see his victims?

What is the birthright Jack abandoned? His homeland? His powers? Does he know he's fated to lose everyone who falls for him? Does that mean through death?

Can you clear up a few of these issues or prevent them from coming up?

Cartoon 353

Caption: anon.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Evil Editor Does His Part to Stimulate the Economy!

That's right. Thanks to EE, the paper, shipping, ink and book printing industries will live a bit longer. That's because EE has put out another volume of his favorite stuff from the blog. Now when you want to relive the laughs, you won't have to search the archives, which have grown to over 3200 posts.

As with volume 1, you get lots of q & a's, guaranteed to finally make you a pro, and lots of EE's comments from the Face-Lifts. There are also cartoons & other items. Click on "Evil Editor's Store" in the sidebar.

New Beginning 622

“They say dying is like this: You see everything in color for a moment, billowing vivid red and orange and black, but you can’t hear anything. Then all you see is light, and you drift away on a wind that isn’t there. Nobody misses you, notices you going, because they’re dying, too. And it only takes the tiniest bit of a second.

“That’s what it’s like when the bomb goes off.

“But it won’t be like that for me. For me, there’s a place in the mountains, up high where it’s always cool and often snowy. There’s a camp there, full of people living among the tall, green trees in those beautiful mountains.

“It’s a beautiful place to die, but you don’t die very quickly unless they shoot you. If they don’t shoot you, it’ll be starvation or overwork or disease or beatings or all of them together. It takes you weeks, maybe months, to die in that camp.

“That’s what happens if you fail—you take a vacation in the mountains. Nobody who goes there for vacation ever returns.

“So give me back to them, just like you agreed. But if you have any mercy, kill me first.”

"Oh for god's sake, Kevin," I snapped. "A weekend with your grandparents won't kill you!" I threw open his bedroom curtains; he screamed and flung his arms up against the sunlight. "Now pack your suitcase and get out there and be nice to them. The Playstation will still be here when you get back."


Opening: Rachel.....Continuation: Sarah from Hawthorne

Cartoon 352

Caption: Anon

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Film Series



No one ever thinks Evil Editor's Shorts are special . . . until they get inside.

video

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Beginning 621 (Chapter Opening)

Dear Stupid Tina, I am running away because you’re stupid. Signed, Tony. He thought back to the disgusting events of the previous night.

“Oh, Tony. You sweet little thing, you! Give your pretty sister a kiss.” She had pinched his cheek and moved in for the kill.

“Gross! Get away from me!” Tony had thrown his hands in front of his face, blocking her advance. He’d spent a lifetime trying to stay out of her way. He wished she’d get a boyfriend. One who might appreciate fat lips and horse teeth. But now, he didn’t care. He’d never have to be kissed by a girl ever again.

Dear Stinky Tiffany, I am running away because you stink. Signed, Tony. Tiffany always left her pink socks and pink hair ribbons on the bathroom floor. Just this morning Tony had to tiptoe around her (ew!) underwear to brush his teeth. Not anymore. Tony didn’t plan on brushing his teeth for a long time.

He gathered up his favorite things and shoved them into his suitcase. Without once looking back, Tony tiptoed down the stairs, taking a big stride to miss the third one down, the one that creaked, and he grabbed his coat. He put the letters to Tina and to Tiffany on the hall table, took the keys to the BMW and left.

He should have known it would be a mistake to marry his sister's best friend.


Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 351

Caption: Lucy in the Sky

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Face-Lift 616


Guess the Plot

Rawmesh

1. When the Earth becomes unstable thanks to a virus released into Rawmesh, the virtual world housed in the global communications network , it's up to Jack Frost and his friends to save the day by reversing the north and south poles.

2. Loretta Lopez drives to Wyoming with a sleeping bag, a collection of old sci-fi movies, and her laptop computer. She's determined to finish her screenplay about monsters in the wilderness before winter or go bust. But that's exactly the vow made by five other people who live in her campground! And they all think her movie is crap! Even though theirs totally suck! The bitches! This means war!

3. Spaceman Jack wakes up from his 87-year nap on the Andromeda Module and quickly realizes that: 1] the ship's not zooming through space as scheduled; 2] everyone else is sleeping or dead; 3] the planet outside appears to be covered with enormous jelly ferns; and 4] they're actually carnivorous.

4. Stalking the primeval forest, Rawmesh hunts the small creatures while desperately searching for a mate. Most of his kind lie dead, but the urge to reproduce drives him onward. Can he find another T rex, or is it already too late?

5. Fairies and hobgoblins fighting for control of the local park? Janie doesn't believe Rolf's stories, until the fairies conjure up the mythic warrior Rawmesh. Now freed from decades of imprisonment, Rawmesh rampages through the neighborhood, targetting hobgoblins and pets indiscriminately. Can Janie help Rolf and the fairies put Rawmesh back where he belongs?

6. Tilly cooks for a five-star restaurant, and her specialty is braised mesh. When she discovers that her boyfriend is in the mafia, she rats him out. Her restaurant’s freezer of raw mesh doubles its contents overnight, but she’s strangely not there to cook it. And why does some of the mesh taste funny?'


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When a coordinated attack against the world's electronic and communication systems threatens to bring civilization to a halt, a group of friends must endure bedlam and violence from all fronts. Rawmesh is an 85,000 word character-driven science fiction novel that is the first in a planned series. I specifically seek your representation as I have a strong appreciation for your work with the ______ as well as the work of several _______ authors.

A militant anti-tech group named Green Forest, successful in designing a computer virus that has torn down global communication networks, [Only computer geeks could pull this off; anti-tech people wouldn't have a clue how to do it, any more than a PETA member would know how to gut a moose.] have now created a way to decimate all electronics [All electronics? No way will the populace get behind any plan that takes away the TV remote control.] by slowly forcing the Earth's magnetic poles to reverse. [Whattaya mean "slowly"? North gradually becomes south? What is it during this gradual change, north east and then east and then southeast? Does the north pole drift down the planet until it gets to Antarctica? Actually, it would be cool if the north pole went through the Sahara Desert on its way south, and suddenly it started snowing. Does Santa Claus now live at the south pole, or does he move down north?] The reversal becomes unstable, creating uncontrollable magnetic fractures that now threaten more than just technology. When Aura and her friends Manolin and Jack Frost are told about the dangers of the fractures by a mysterious Seeker (people who live in both the real and virtual Rawmesh worlds simultaneously), [It would be nice if at least Aura's name had been mentioned earlier; it feels like you expect us to know who she is already. Also, we need to have some idea what the virtual Rawmesh world is.] they leave New York to find Aura's father as well as sanctuary. They become separated and entangled in religious and gang warfare spreading across the country. They meet old and new friends, but also come face to face with the embodiment of evil named Momus, who has re-created the Biblical Sixth Plague with the help of Aura's father. [The sixth plague is boils, right? Is everyone suffering with boils?] The group finds a way to stop the fractures by forcing the poles to reverse completely, however doing so would mean killing the Seekers who have uploaded their minds into Rawmesh. [Also, it would do nothing to get rid of the damn boils.] Despite making the ultimate sacrifice to save humanity, Aura and her friends must continue fighting to survive in a world that has gone insane. [I usually think of the ultimate sacrifice as death. What is their ultimate sacrifice? Wait, is it boils?]

Rawmesh is shaped by my degrees in anthropology and computer science, and my fascination with how our lives and societies are affected by technology. In addition, I have presented peer-reviewed papers concerning virtual realities and cyber-security at several conferences.

I have attached the first three chapters for review, and would be pleased to send you my completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


(P.S. The word and title Rawmesh is a made up word, that partially came from reading Finnegan's Wake. [Did you read the original book or the English translation?] It comes from the computer networking term 'mesh', and the 'raw' reality of this virtual world)


Notes

This is the Finnegan's Wake of query letters. Take that however you like.

For starters you need to divide the long plot paragraph into three paragraphs. That way when the reader is reading, he thinks, Okay, just a couple more lines and I get a breather, instead of thinking, Christ, there's no way I can stay awake till the end of this paragraph. Think how you would have felt if Finnegan's Wake were all one paragraph. That's how I felt when I saw your second paragraph.

Why are these specific three friends filled in by the Seeker? Is there something special about Aura?

Why is Aura's father helping the embodiment of evil to give everyone boils?

I'm sure boils must be unpleasant, but if I were the embodiment of evil I'd be embarrassed if boils was the worst thing I could come up with.

What is this Momus creature? It seems like it belongs in a fantasy rather than hard science fiction.

The Seekers are actually alive in the virtual world? At the same time they're alive in the real world? Can they take their wives shopping in the virtual world while they're eating pizza and watching football in the real world? And what are they seeking?

Try getting rid of the religious and gang warfare, Momus and the boils, the old and new friends, and Rawmesh. Focus on the main character, the problem, the solution, and what's preventing the solution. That leaves us with: The Earth is in danger of crumbling thanks to a militant group's diabolical plot to reverse the Earth's magnetic poles. The Seeker comes to Aura and says only she can save the planet, by finding her father, the world's greatest scientist. She finds dad, and together they figure out how to save the day: by reversing the Earth's magnetic poles. Hmm. How about this:

An evil entity known as Momus has brought a plague of boils upon the multitudes . . .

Cartoon 350

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Beginning 620

On a hot, Saturday afternoon in June, Jim Benson stood in his driveway, washing his car. As he was spraying off the suds, he noticed a familiar figure walking down his street, towards her house. Towards him. He tried not to look at her, to keep his attention focused on the car, but his gaze kept straying as she came closer, her lush body bouncing and swaying with each step.

Her long, honey-blonde hair danced in the summer breeze. Sunglasses covered her eyes, but the rest of her lovely features, including her full, bow-shaped lips, were clearly visible. Her breasts almost overflowed out of her tight tube top, and her cut-off denim shorts lovingly cupped the swells of her hips and thighs.

He felt two emotions, which had become familiar to him in recent months: desire, and self-disgust. She was sixteen years old; he was forty-two.

He concentrated on his work, wanting to give the appearance of being engrossed, unaware of her approach, but she was not at all deterred. She strode up the driveway, stepping carefully around the coils of hose, and lightly brushed her lips against his cheek.

“Hi, Daddy,” she said, smiling.

“Hi, hon,” he croaked.

The hose nozzle, rigid in his fist, jerked and sputtered out a jet of urgent fluid, oozed a trickle, then hacked out damp air.

"Goddamn literary symbolism," Jim muttered, as the hose drooped limply.


Opening: Wil E Quixote.....Continuation: Batgirl

Cartoon 349

Caption: Evil Editor

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Face-Lift 615


Guess the Plot

Dreaming Dark

1. There is a town in north Ontario. Meredith, who thought she was perfectly normal, lives there, but she just discovered that she's the last member of an ancient race and she has the power to control mankind's dreams. Now some guy from a different ancient race who also can control dreams has moved to town. Will he leave her helpless, helpless helpless?

2. Ice swami Ned Frankel informs Tina the reason she always dreams of being lost in sinister dark places is because Alaska's winters are no good for her -- she needs more light. So she packs everything vital onto her dogsled and takes off for Florida -- a difficult and dangerous journey that would be impossible if not for moose meat and the love of Hank Jones, the most debonair vagabond in the Arctic.

3. Kimmy Takuto raises horses for the blind, a challenging occupation at best, but when the loan on her ranch comes due she must refinance or lose everything. Her only hope is cowboy Sam Chukchee's idea: win the Kentucky Derby on her best horse, Dreaming Dark. With Sam's help, Kimmy must face her fear of riding and transform herself into a world class jockey in two months, or return to life as a waitress.

4. Joaquin Dark could never focus in class since he kept daydreaming about his own handyman shop called "Tall, Dark and Handy." One day, a magic 2x4 pulls him into a world where doors creak and cabinets won’t close right. He soon realizes that only he can save this world!

5. The horrendous evil Emperor, dreaming avaricious of power, has malicious stolen the ’s off the ends of adverbs! Searching frantic for one last to save the day and thwart the horrendous evil Emperor, Ann miraculous finds the very last one on the book’s cover.

6. Nothing can escape from a black hole. Or so scientists believe until the quantum readers on board Probe XL36 send back signals from Andromeda - after being catapulted into the enormous black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Meredith is convinced she's a normal seventeen year-old, until dark, terrifying, and unbearably beautiful Eirich moves into her nothern [Never good to spell a word wrong in sentence one.] Ontario town. ["Unbearably" is a word I'd expect to see with something bad, not beauty. "Irresistibly" is more like it (though having read ahead, I note that Meredith both resists and bears him).]

The problem with Eirich's arrival is that whenever they touch - which isn't nearly as often as Meredith would like - he fills her with a strange and tempting feeling of power. [I feel we're missing a step. Plenty of people move into my town, but I don't touch them. Why are Meredith and Eirich touching?] Meredith can't even figure out why she gets these feelings, let alone explain them to anyone. [I can explain them in one word: "Hormones."] So when her best friend Ally falls hard for Eirich, Meredith decides it would be best to stay away from both of them, choosing to spend time at her sister Val's old hangout rather than admitting that something really, really strange is happening.

But something really [really] strange is happening and the new hangout makes it stranger. [Stranger than really really strange? Meaning, really really really strange?] [Is the new hangout the same place you just referred to as the old hangout?] The cottage that Meredith thought belonged to Val's friend actually belongs to Meredith, [If you want to spend time in what you believe is your sister's friend's cottage, you would ask permission of your sister's friend, who would say, "That's not my cottage." Yet Meredith goes there still believing it belongs to her sister's friend?] and it was left to her by her mother with the promise that it comes with magical protection. Meredith learns that she's so far from normal, she's supernatural: the last member of an ancient race with the power to control and create dreams. Worse, Eirich needs Meredith's powers to revive his own ancient race, [How does she learn all this stuff?] [The last members of two different ancient races are both in a town in north Ontario? Could be a coincidence, but if the last member of a third ancient race shows up . . . ] the dark counterpart to Meredith's, and he's kidnapped Ally to get to her.

So Meredith is left with a choice: does she preserve the dreams of mankind and, more importantly, rescue her best friend, or does she succumb to the beautiful Eirich and fill herself with the power she's always longed for? [Save mankind or join forces with an evil kidnapper? Can't decide; better flip a coin.] [She's always longed for great power?]

DREAMING DARK is a work of YA urban fantasy, complete at 57 000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

As Meredith has the hots for Eirich, it seems he should have no trouble getting to her, even without resorting to kidnapping her friend.

Ally has fallen for Eirich, so she's probably willing to go anywhere with him. Why kidnap her when you can just suggest going to a romantic cabin in the woods?

If Meredith made it to age seventeen without even realizing she had the power to control dreams, how is she suddenly going to figure out how to do it?

I think we should have an example of what it means to control dreams. How is this power useful? It's hard to know what the stakes are without knowing what happens if Meredith fiddles with people's dreams.

You claim she can preserve the dreams of mankind. That's a lot of dreams. Does that mean she can control the dreams of millions of people at the same time? Also, stating that rescuing her friend is more important than preserving the dreams of mankind makes it seem that preserving our dreams isn't that big a deal.

Whattaya mean, "ancient race?" Babylonians? Aliens from another galaxy?

I think you should throw out the mother and sister and cottage and just focus on Meredith and Eirich. Tell us what happens if Meredith sides with Eirich and what happens if she doesn't. Make it sound like a difficult choice.

Cartoon 348

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Beginning 619

On the first day of first grade…

Jeffrey found his seat in Ms. Johanson’s classroom, sat down, and scanned the walls for…the Job Chart.

“There it is,” he said, relieved. It was hanging on the closet door.

Jeffrey read the list of jobs:
1. Clean white board
2. Feed hermit crab
3. Turn lights on/off
4. Office Messenger
5. Line Leader

"Good. I can’t wait to be line leader,” he said.

“Why?” Jeffrey’s tablemate, Bobby, asked him.

“I love being first out the door. And it’s fun being at the front of the line. When do we get our jobs?”

“I have no idea,” Bobby said.

A short time later, Ms. Johanson shook a jar of thin, brown sticks. “Each stick has a name on it,” she explained. “When I call your name, you can pick your job for the week.”

The class sat silent.

Ms. Johanson reached in the jar and pulled out the first stick. “Bobby,” she said. “Which job do you want?”

Jeffrey held his breath. He hoped Bobby wouldn’t choose line leader.

Bobby said, “Feed the hermit crab.” He whispered to Jeffrey, “I want to see if he bites me.”

Ms. Johanson pulled another stick and asked, "How about you, Missy?

"Missy smirked at Jeffrey as she said, "Line Leader."

"You miserable mortal fool!" shrieked Jeffrey, unable to contain his wrath. "Soon I will crush you all as insects, cast a thousand plagues before your trembling souls, and destroy all humanity with a sweep of my forked tail. I shall wrest the very stars from the heavens and turn every shaft of sunlight into bolts of blackest doom. And when I clutch the dust of this feeble universe in my hand, spitting blood into its lifeless ashes—"

"Jeffrey?" Mrs. Johanson said.


Jeffrey took a deep breath. Then he mumbled, "I'll do the lights."


Opening: MC.....Continuation: Whirlochre

Cartoon 347

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Success Story


Deb Hoag reports:

Ta Da! Crashin' the Real [New Beginning 559] will be making its US debut on May 11 (Mother's Day). There's also a draft website up, featuring the front and back cover art, and the back-cover text: http://www.doghornpublishing.com/crashin.htm.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Film Series


Actresses, production assistants, best boys . . . it's amazing how many people have a hand in Evil Editor's Shorts.

video

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Beginning 618

Sechra stopped just below the hill-crest. She didn’t know what might wait on the other side, and she’d be foolish to meet it with her breath ragged and her heart pounding from the steep climb. She breathed deeply. The smell of ripe blackberries rose warm and sharp from the bramble thickets. Winter would be on them soon, whether or not she was here to know it. She didn’t know how long it took to find the hidden spring, or whether, having found it, you could come back.

Well, and she didn’t know if she would want to come back to her aunt Rena’s house, to the Dunlin villagers who looked with wary curiosity at the outlander’s orphan, to days filled with spinning and milking and gardening and small gossip. She had liked it little enough when she thought she had no other choice. But since she met the old woman yesterday, since she knew she had a choice, she had been aware of something wild and sweet in the world around her, something she might miss.

Sechra finished her climb, then went down the other side of the hill. She pulled aside a clump of bracken, and there was the spring! Beside it, blackberry vines half-hid the old woman's still.

"Back for more already?" The old woman had appeared seemingly from nowhere.

Sechra smiled. Yep, she thought. Winter in Dunlin will pass a lot faster with a few jugs of Old Lolly's Wild and Sweet Blackberry Homebrew on hand.


Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Batgirl

Cartoon 346

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Face-Lift 614


Guess the Plot

Stephy's Watch

1. Stephy built her babysitting empire with ruthless efficiency. Now she faces a challenge from a new transfer student who honed her skills on her ten younger siblings. When night terrors trouble Stephy's charges, she fears Marcy has called in otherworldly allies, but still she's determined that nothing will go wrong on . . . Stephy's Watch.

2. It looked like an ordinary wristwatch, except for the cracked glass and the hands stopped forever at 6:15, the hour Stephy's beloved grandfather had been murdered. But metaphorically it was the timepiece strapped to the dynamite that symbolized Stephy's explosive VENGEANCE!!

3. When Gramma gave Jillian her late Aunt Stephy's broken watch, Jillian wasn't thrilled. When she opened the watch, though, she accidentally freed the mischievous spirit trapped inside. At least summer vacation won't be boring! Also, a leprechaun.

4. Stephy finds a pocket watch in a secret compartment of her wardrobe, along with a note signed "Stephy." It's a sure sign there's going to be some time traveling going on--but will Stephy realize it in time to prevent the unraveling of the universe?

5. Stolen by shoplifters, and pitched out the window of a speeding car to evade arrest by pursuing officers, the Strangelove experimental atomic timepiece is chewed and swallowed by a horse named Stephy who begins to glow in the dark, thus attracting the attention of a saucerful of passing space aliens who mistake her for one of the long lost masters of the universe and attempt to negotiate a truce.

6. She saw her watch do the Salvador Dali liquify trick and pour itself off the table, but why? Was it a sign that Josh was spiking the drinks again? A message from her mother, the enchantress of Pinedale, to get her ass home, pronto? Either way, it was a mistake for Stephy to stay for another round of nachos and tequila. And now she's grounded for life.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my children's book. “Stephy's Watch” is complete at 33,000 words, and is aimed at 9-11 year-olds. [I'd make that one sentence, and no need to tell us it's a children's book if you're telling us the age range.]

After Stephy's dad walks out, her mum sends her to her Great Aunt's dilapidated country house.[Permanently or to visit?] At first, all Stephy wants is to go back home, but then strange things start to happen. She finds a pocket watch hidden in a secret compartment of her wardrobe with a note addressed from “Stephy”. Her bedroom is filled with old-fashioned toys that she's never seen before. Then she meets the strange boy in a sailor suit... [I'm more interested in what the note says than in this other stuff.]

She discovers that the watch is taking her back to the 1920's and that the boy is one of the children who used to live in the house in its glory days. She gets to know the family who live there, [When a being suddenly appears in your house, out of thin air, you have two choices: worship her or kill her.] and when she discovers that the boy's mother has also recently been left by her husband, she begins to question what it means to be a family, and whether her own mother had ever truly been family to her. [I would think she'd wonder these things when her father walked out and her mother dumped her off at the haunted house and told her to have a good life. What is it about the 1920s family that acts as a catalyst for her uncertainty?]

I have included the first three chapters of the manuscript, along with a synopsis and a stamped envelope for your reply. If you wish to email me, my address is _________. Thank you for your consideration.

Yours Sincerely,


Notes

What was the mother's explanation for sending Stephy away? There's a big difference between "I need a few weeks to pull myself together, and you don't want to be around me when I'm sobbing uncontrollably," and "You're responsible for my husband leaving; I can't stand the sight of you."

When someone discovers you in their house, and you claim to be from eighty years in the future, they have two choices: send you to a mental institution or kill you.

Cartoon 345

Caption: WO

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Beginning 617 (excerpt)

Manuel led them west toward two peaks that matched in height and shape. Both grew from full, round bases, and tapered to smooth peaks. Kincaid took to thinking of women and breasts, and his longing for Maria grew. Three days remained on the long trip, and then he’d be with her again.

Manuel must have seen him staring at the twin mountains. “Do you know what they are called?” he asked. “Wah-Tow-Yah, means Breasts of the World.”

Kincaid rode in silence gazing at the two mountains. He wondered about the countless men, Spanish, Mexican, and Indian who had traveled this way and longed for a woman left at home. Of men who saw the peaks and thoughts flooded their minds and feelings surged through their bodies. These men who counted the days and hurried their mounts along. Now he was one of them, returning from danger and missing his woman.

As they rode farther, Kincaid caught site of the woodland at the end of the valley. A lush, deep canopy of trees, almost black in the fading light.

Manuel leaned over. "You see that copse? They call that Yow-Zah, The Valley’s Crotch."

Kincaid shifted uncomfortably in his saddle as he thought about what awaited him back home.

In time, they emerged from the trees, past the great rock Up-Frit, The Waiting Virgin. Kincaid had barely noticed the climb, or how the temperature had fallen, but now he looked out over a vast blanket of snow, as far as his eyes could see. He glanced over at Manuel.

"They call this plain Shah-Tmai-Wadh," Manuel said. "It means--"

"I know what it means."


Manuel saw Kincaid's frustration. "We can avoid it by going through the--"

"Forget it," Kincaid told him. "It's too late now."


Opening: Wes.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 344

Caption: Rick Daley/Evil Editor

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Beginning 616

Clad in her travel clothing of doeskin jerkin and breeches, Talpianna double-checked the supplies laid out on the bed, as no doubt the others planning to join the rescue party were doing elsewhere in the Inn. Packets of medicinal and magical herbs, charged powerstones, a supply of handkerchiefs, Su-Shi, two precious parcels of Elven lembas—

Su-Shi?

Talpianna glared at the mole with the perky vibrissae. “Su-Shi, this is not a party of pleasure. I don’t have time to take care of you. We will be traveling fast and facing unknown dangers.”

The mole executed a couple of inexpert katas. “Ka-bam! Shazam! Cowabunga, dude! Kiku and me are as good as an army!”

“The Salvation Army, maybe. And it’s ‘Kiku and I.’”

“That’s what I said.”

Tal picked Su-Shi up by the collar between her thumb and forefinger and deposited her outside the door.

Just as well, thought Su-Shi. I forgot my makeup kit. Wait till sister Kiku sees what I can do to the forces of evil with an eyelash curler.

Talpianna turned back to her expedition supply list. Spunky ranger-girl with healing powers, check. Taciturn experienced fighter with mysterious past, check. Callow farmboy with far-reaching destiny, check. Annoying talking animal for comic relief . . . Damn! She opened the door and grabbed Su-Shi back.


Opening: Tal.....Continuation: Batgirl

Cartoon 343

Caption: Freddie

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Face-Lift 613


Guess the Plot

Not a Fairy Princess

1. Alfland's hottest pickup bar is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get. But when the ogre Smanthas takes home a flirtatious--if somewhat... hairy--Fairy Winkle for the night, he discovers that her ball-gown hides a few things he wasn't expecting.

2. After growing up a princess in a magical kingdom, Heather learns from her royal parents that they kidnapped her from an American family long ago--and they're sending her back! How's an average teenager supposed to survive the suburbs now that she's . . . Not a Fairy Princess?

3. Svetlana the Immigrant Tooth Fairy is unhappy with her lot in life. The wages are inadequate, the hours exploitative, and the American Dream is a lie perpetuated by Fat Fairy Capitalists. Descended from Bolshevik peasant fairies, Svetlana determines to foment communist revolution under the bedbug-infested pillows of Harlem.

4. Bruno is a street thug. He cracks skulls for a living, and has taken more than one bullet for the home team. And when the Godfather comes up missing, the Capos know who to call to save him. And believe me, it's . . . Not a Fairy Princess.

5. As little girls are encouraged to dream of becoming astronauts, doctors, and bus drivers, the number of qualified fairy princesses grows smaller each year--until Charlemagne Smythe takes charge and starts outsourcing to mermaids and witches.

6. Tatiana's older sisters have all come into their own, so to speak. They are all exceedingly beautiful, amazingly graceful, and exceptionally magical. Tatiana, on the other hand, can't even turn a teacup into a turtle. And she's starting to worry she's not part of her family. What's a girl to do if it turns out she's . . . Not a Fairy Princess?


Original Version

Dear Ideal Agent,

When you've grown up in a magic kingdom, the real world is a scary place to come home to. Not a Fairy Princess is a 70,000 word YA fantasy that turns the fantasy conventions of destiny upside down and shakes change out of their pockets.

For twelve of her sixteen years, Princess Tasria's life has been governed by the Prophecy that she would destroy the Dark Queen, ruthless enemy of Evermorna. Now the Dark Queen is dead [Already? She was your most compelling character.] --at the hands of a common soldier--and Tasria's royal parents break the news that the Prophecy was a lie. [Destroy the Dark Queen? No, no, we said you would work at Dairy Queen, ruthless enemy of obese Evermornians.] She is no Chosen One, [I think we should stop capitalizing "Prophecy" and "Chosen One" once it's announced that it was all a sham.] not their daughter, and they are returning her to her real home: the quiet North American suburb they stole her from.

Reunited with her birth mother, who calls her Heather and is worried by her 'wild stories', Tasria tries to learn the ways of her strange home, where machinery takes the place of magic and of servants, and high school hierarchy calls on all the skills she acquired from court intrigues. [For instance she hires a classmate to be her servant, then orders her to put hemlock in the clique leader's Pepsi.] With painful mis-steps, she learns to live for herself and not for a kingdom's destiny. Her mother contacts Heather's estranged father, hoping to rebuild their broken family. Then, on the eve of their reunion, her father disappears, just as little Heather did thirteen years ago. Her mother believes he has deserted them, but Tasria knows the truth. Evermorna is not finished with her. And this time she doesn't need a Prophecy to tell her what needs to be done. [Personally, I'd assume Evermorna was through with me and that Mom was right. What's the clue that reveals the truth to Tasria?] [How about a hint about what needs to be done? Has she realized that Evermorna is the bad guys and the Dark Queen was good?]

Attached are (pages) of Not a Fairy Princess. I have attended (workshop) and my (short story) received an honourable mention in (year's best).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

Not bad. Whether certain questions are bothersome enough to need answers I'm not sure. Namely, If they're not done with Tasria, 1. Why'd they send her back, and 2. Why have they now taken her father instead of re-kidnapping her?

Who are the villains? If it's the Evermorna royals, what bad things have they done besides kidnapping Tasria, and why did they kidnap her in the first place?

If your plot description shows that you've turned the fantasy conventions of destiny upside down and shaken change out of their pockets, there's no need to declare it just in case the reader is too dense to get it. Leave that for the back cover.

Is her father "her estranged father" because he left while she was still living there? Or just because they were separated by the kidnapping?

Cartoon 342

Caption: Anon.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Film Series


Two films about private dicks.

Evil Editor should have been a private dick, as he spends so much time poking into places he doesn't belong.
video

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Beginning 615 (Chapter Opening)

Queer how the forests gobbled up the prairie, Kincaid thought. Eight, nine hundred miles of grassland, who could reckon how much, were running into armies of trees. Tall, stout, green hardwoods. First they came in groups like advanced skirmishers, flanking and probing. Each day more squads appeared. The skirmishers grew to companies then to regiments that his men maneuvered past. But now, up ahead, a solid battle line stretched across their way, and they’d have to enter the forest.

It was so green. How could he have forgotten in just a year? New leaves shining bright, cast a restful glow over the earth that eased the eye and took away the strain. Arms of thick timber reached along the road as if to pull them in. He felt the cool of the deep forest. Like walking into a root cellar, the temperature dropped so much.

Odd, Kincaid thought, how the temperature chewed at the air. Warm sun was being cooled by frigid-air dive-bombers. Gull-winged, screaming Ju 87s, followed by icy squadrons of Messerschmitt bf 109s. The temperature soared down, like a fleet of Siberian MiG-29s dipping and shrieking, encroaching on the sun.

It was cold—it’d taken him a whole year to thaw. Thick ice shining bright, made the forest a refrigerator—a refrigerator fighting a bowl of warm pasta.



Opening: Wes.....Continuation: Rachel

Bad Analogy Overload


Someone sent me this link to a blog whose author has scanned two pages in a published novel.

Cartoon 341

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Face-Lift 612


Guess the Plot

How to Save a Prince

1. Put him in touch with Clive Davis, get him back on his old record label, keep him away from Jehovah's Witnesses, and tell him to finally write that sequel to Purple Rain.

2. The Prince is in mortal danger, and it looks like it's up to a new student at the kingdom's most elite magic academy to use her powers to end the threat. Aided by a dead wizard, can Jo learn to control her abilities in time to figure out . . . How to Save a Prince?

3. A how-to manual covering such methods as pickling, pressing between the pages of the encyclopedia, safe deposit boxes, and sturdy zip-loc freezer bags.

4. Throughout the Coalition of Kingdoms, princes are falling into enchanted sleep, being locked in doorless towers, and being cast out of their homes by cruel, jealous stepfathers. When a plucky woodcutter's daughter determines to go on a quest, she must first decide: Which prince should she save?

5. Wizard Larenious is fed up with people coming to him for advice about rescuing various captured individuals, so he writes a manual for would-be adventurers. To his shock it becomes an instant best-seller. Now he's got the world's literati after him. What does he have to do to catch a break?

6. Manny’s doing his best to save the world’s ever-dwindling supply of princes. Everything’s peachy until he catches a saboteur in his top-secret canning facilites. His one rival, who favors mummification, is playing nasty. Well, Manny’ll just have to play nastier.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation my 80,000 word YA fantasy, HOW TO SAVE A PRINCE, where seventeen-year-old Jo must use her new magical abilities to save the handsome Prince of Ellisar. Even if using those abilities destroys her in the process.

For Johanna Jergensen, admission to the elite Teras Academy is her chance to escape a bleak future as a farmer's wife. But at seventeen, she's the oldest student ever admitted, a fact that doesn't escape the disgruntled classmates who are determined to make her new life hell. Her only ally is the ghost of a long-dead wizard and he's not much help against mortal enemies.

When Jo almost kills another student, she discovers [realizes] that her new gift comes with a price. With every spell she craves more power [She's addicted. I remember when this happened to Buffy's friend Willow. It wasn't pretty.] and with each use her dark magic threatens to spin out of control. As if that isn't enough to handle, things go from bad to worse when she stumbles across the body of a dead Guardian. The man's death unravels [exposes] a plot that threatens the very kingdom and puts Prince Nerrith in mortal danger. There is a traitor loose in Ellisar and Jo may be the only person with the power to stop him. But will using her new abilities unleash an even greater evil?

I would be glad to send you my complete manuscript for review. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,


Notes

I think this is well-written. Although somehow the name Jo Jergensen doesn't sound like one I'd expect in Prince Nerrith's kingdom of Ellisar.

I may be wrong in assuming this is a magic academy. Since attending a normal academy could be the only way to escape life as a farmer's wife, you might make it clear (maybe call it the Teras Academy of Wirardry, or something similar). For all I can tell, it's a normal school and Jo's the only person with magical abilities.

If it is a magic academy, and all the other students have been at the school longer than Jo, why is she the only one with the power to stop the traitor? What about graduates of the school, who are now full-fledged wizards? Wouldn't they be more powerful than Jo, who just started going there? Why is her magic "special"?

If it isn't a magic academy, why does Jo suddenly have this gift?

Cartoon 340

Caption: Sylvia/EE

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Beginning 614

News of the Dark Queen's death came to Princess Tasria in the midst of her third bout with the weapons master. Distracted by the royal messenger's waving arms, she let Ofornio's sword-tip slip past her guard and thump the breath out of her. For a time she knew nothing but spinning blackness and whooping after air. When she straightened and pulled off the grilled practice-helm, the messenger's errand had been overtaken by shouts of jubilation along the narrow streets of Evermorna's capitol, cheers surging up the hill to the palace gates.

"The Dark Queen is defeated! Evermorna is saved!"

Dizziness swept her again, and she clutched the weapons stand, spears and halberds rattling with her trembling. The Dark Queen dead? But-- "But I was prophesied to be her destruction," Tasria said as the city's bells pealed out triumph. "How can she be dead, and I not gone against her?"

"Hmm, possibly I was mistaken," Ofornio offered. "Perhaps I misinterpreted the prophecy. Perhaps it is Queen Letitia the Witchbringer you are destined to vanquish. Yes, it's clear now. Queen Letitia the Witchbringer. We must continue our practice!"

Orfornio gripped his sword and swung again at the clumsy, spoiled little bitch.



Opening: Batgirl.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 339

Caption: Evil Editor

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Face-Lift 611


Guess the Plot

Just Cause

1. Why little Billy tipped over the milk, pulled the cat's tail, set the washing machine on fire, and drove a bulldozer through the neighbor's house.

2. OK, maybe smearing his carpet with vaseline and then strewing birdseed all over the room was a somewhat passive-agressive response to his cheating on her, but she firmly believed that she had . . . Just Cause.

3. Pedophile Priests were bad enough, but when Katherine discovers her son was brutalized and murdered by members of the local Convent, she knows she has Just Cause to seek revenge. But can she kill them all before the FBI gets her?

4. Nobody loves a lawyer . . . but in spite of that, Ben Lawrence loves his job, championing the downtrodden and oppressed. When he meets fiery redhead Kirsten, she is on the other side of the courtroom, and Ben finds himself questioning every principle he holds dear. Will he give in to love? Or will he hold on to his "Just Cause?"

5. He isn't seeking the office of President of the United States to save the world. He is out to destroy the US government, and he knows it has to be an inside job. He isn't worried about the ramifications if he fails. In his mind, he has . . . Just Cause.

6. When Jessica realizes she's the reincarnated Jesse James, she goes back to robbing banks. But can her new gang of teenage valley girls stop the reincarnated Wyatt Earp, who turns out to be her mother? Jessica thinks she's got Just Cause to take out her old foe.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I'm seeking representation for my 98,000 word crime novel, JUST CAUSE.

After discovering chilling similarities between her son's brutal murder and her brother's unsolved slaying twenty-five years earlier, [most notably the two puncture wounds on both of their necks,] Katherine Rice sets out to uncover the truth. But the search for answers puts her in danger when she learns the killer is part of a network of pedophiles called The Convent.

Unwilling to trust the justice system that has failed her twice, [If her brother's murder went unsolved, I wouldn't say it was the justice system that failed.] she vows to stop The Convent before they hurt more children. With the help of another parent who also lost a child to The Convent, she eradicates members of the group. But when Katherine's thirst for retribution lands her on the FBI's Most Wanted list, she must stay one step ahead of a tenacious lawman out to stop her. [What she doesn't know is that she's not on the Most Wanted Criminals list; she's on the Most Wanted Prospective Agents list.] With the help of a few sympathizers she manages to outsmart the FBI, but unbeknownst to her, the leader of The Convent is on her trail and looking for a little revenge of his own.

[Pedophile 1: We're getting too much bad press. Hell, even our priests get no respect.

Pedophile 2: We need to elect a new leader.]



Notes

At what point do pedophiles decide they need a leader? Is it a highly sought after position, with election campaigns? Does the pedophile leader give orders to the other pedophiles, like in the army, or are his duties more along the lines of organizing their rallies?

When you're filling out a job application and it asks for leadership experience, it's probably not a good idea to put down that you're the leader of a network of pedophiles.

Katherine, unlike the police, seems to know the identities of the Convent members. And she outsmarts the FBI. Meanwhile the FBI can't catch her, but the pedophile leader is hot on her trail. Who are the authorities, the Keystone Cops?

It ends a bit abruptly. Maybe just putting the first sentence at the end would give it a feeling of closure.

What are the similarities between the two murders? Does she point them out to the police? How does she locate the Convent members? How does she eradicate them? A few specific details would draw us in more.

Cartoon 338

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

New Beginning 613 (Chapter Opening)

This one guy was a regular, came in early almost every day so he could claim the same stool, two seats in from the front door, away from the afternoon sunlight. He worked at this spa and pool store a few blocks away, standing at the crusty edge of the old part of the city, the netherworld blocks that formed the boundary between gentrification and decay.

These were the battleground blocks, and that was where all the fun was, and one of the reasons was guys like this hairy, oily, pool man meeting up with the incoming gentry in truce places like this netherworld bar.

He’d corner one and wangle them into asking about water conditions, about heat and clean and other things; then he’d hitch himself up, sitting tall on his stool, and he’d start in. “Will there be vaginas in your water? That’s what I always ask ‘em when they come in wonderin’ about what kinda chemicals they need. Vaginas, they suck all the clean outta any water they’re in, so when they’re in there, ya gotta be prepared for nasty, and add your chemicals accordingly, ya know.”

And the polite little gentry guy, he'd just nod and nod.

And there was this one gentry, a little guy with glasses, and when his head finished nodding, he looked up at the pool and spa man and said, "Well . . . I don't know. I'd like to think that sometimes I might share the water with a, uh, vagina or two, you know, once in a while. So, how about this: how about you tell me what chemicals you'd use -- if it was just you, all alone in your pool on a regular, no party night. See, I reckon if I take what you'd use, just for you alone, and back it off a little bit, that'll be perfect for me, 'cause, you know, I'm pretty sure you're the filthiest pussy I'll ever meet."


Opening: Robin S......Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 337

Caption: Rick Daley

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

Synopsis 14


Spats, Traps, and Possum Fur Hats

This is a character based story set in Southland New Zealand. It has five main characters, one of whom is central to the tone, structure and feel of the story. There are four plots that gradually weave together.

Roxy Anderson is fifteen, lives in a remote area. After returning from a trip to the North Island, where she stays at a Navajo community [I'm sure there must be a good reason for using Navajos in New Zealand even though NZ has its own indigenous tribal people, but if you don't describe them as a community of Navajos descended from WWII windtalkers, or a community of Navajos whose descendants fled the reservation to start a new life, people are going to think, Huh?] and undergoes a Kinaalda ceremony (a Navajo coming of age ceremony for girls), she abandons school lessons and starts working with her father, who is a possum hunter. She begins working in the possum shed, [A lot of teenagers hate school, but I know none who wouldn't prefer it to working in a possum shed.] and influenced by the Kinaalda ceremony starts exhibiting signs of uneasiness and confusion in regards to issues impacting her friends and the earth. [In the space it takes to say "in regards to issues impacting her friends and the earth" you could instead give an example or two of these issues.]

Her Grandfather is put into a nursing home when he starts wandering. She seems focused, but is consumed by the need to help him. Trying to avoid this she becomes obsessed with Kinaalda obligations, and shoulders a huge sense of responsibility in regards to helping her friends and the earth. But she has to help her Grandfather. She breaks him out of the nursing home, takes him into the forest and kills him. [Remind me never to seek this kid's help. On anything.] He asked her to do this when she was ten. At the time she couldn’t imagine the possibility and agreed to do it.

In another part of Southland there is a farmer, whose wife is now in a wheel chair with a mysterious illness that no one can diagnose. Jenny Cory travels to Australia to see a specialist. Coming home she meets an older man at the airport, who hypnotizes her and makes her believe he can heal her. [Hello, ma'am. Would you like to see my pocket watch? Look how shiny it is, and how it swings back and forth.] Douglas Hunter is delusional, practices magic arts, and plans to kill Clarke Cory with witchcraft, marry Jenny and get the farm. [Did he make this plan after they met in the airport?] Having control over Jenny Cory, he then hypnotizes Clarke Cory, [Hello, sir. Would you like to see my pocket watch? Look how shiny it is, and how it swings back and forth.] kills the sheep dogs and casts a death spell. But the spell doesn’t take, [Gee, it worked fine on the sheep dogs.] and the hypnosis breaks when Clarke gets hypothermia. Clarke Cory puts the clues together and when Mr Hunter brings Jenny for her regular visits he pretends to be hypnotized so he can scrutinize Douglas Hunter and revenge the death of his dogs. [If you choose the right details, any novel can be made to sound wacko, so don't take it the wrong way when I suggest you leave the Navajos and the evil hypnotist out of the query.]

In the next province we have a preacher whose marriage is deeply unsatisfying, and who is tormented by lust for a new member of the congregation. Alan Pope believes divorce is forbidden by God, and interprets the bible to sanction his taking a second wife. Conceited, he thinks the only thing stopping him from doing this is a lack of money.

Back in Invercargill we have Lester Barth, a physically enfeebled character with gambling debts, who is desperately lonely. He is lured into racketeering by an acquaintance. The acquaintance knows Roxy’s uncle, who is a dope grower. He and Lester deliver an anonymous note threatening to frame Johno Anderson if he doesn’t leave a large amount of cannabis in a certain place, at a certain time. [Is Johno the uncle? Why do they have to frame him if he's a dope grower? Can't they just tell the authorities where his marijuana patch is?]

Having established these stories and characters, a number of events occur that draw the stories together for a climax at Clarke Cory’s farm.

After burying her Grandfather, Roxy breaks into the town library to sleep and plan her next move. [There's no better place to plan your next move than a library.]

Alan Pope storms out on his wife and hitchhikes down to Southland, night falls and he can’t get a ride so goes into a farmstead; it happens to be the Cory farm. The next morning he meets Douglas Hunter, who claims to have so much money he makes seventeen million dollars an hour in interest alone. [Let's see, that works out to about 150 trillion dollars a year in interest, so his actual holdings would be . . . everything.]

Alan Pope returns to the farm on Friday 13th with a meat cleaver, and when Douglas Hunter and Jenny Cory come to the farm he takes the woman hostage and demands five million from Mr Hunter. [Five million? From a guy who makes seventeen million an hour? This preacher's got no imagination.] With Clarke Cory tied up and Jenny in her wheelchair, Douglas Hunter leaves the farm, but has no money [It's always the multi-quadrillionaires who walk around with nothing in their wallets and mooch off thier friends.] so goes to the only person he can think of who will help him, his pot dealer, Roxy’s uncle. [If anyone's got more money than the multi-quadrillionaire, it's the local drug dealer.]

Friday the 13th is also the drop off day for the marijuana. Johno and Roxy’s dad Dylan are prepared and waiting at the house. Thinking they’ll be back from the Cory farm in time to fool the would-be-racketeers, they agree to help Mr Hunter. [I'm lost.]

Night falls and Roxy is busy making arrangements to fly back to the Navajo community, but she can’t book a ticket without a guardian or someone over the age of eighteen present. She races round to Uncle Johno’s to ask for help, but sensing her father is in danger and finding a map on the table that Douglas Hunter drew for the brothers, then races out to the Cory farm. At the Cory farm we have Clarke Cory, Jenny Cory, Alan Pope, Douglas Hunter, Roxy and Dylan and Johno Anderson. [When Roxy walks in everyone yells, "Surprise!"]

The novel closes with an epilogue. Lester Barth goes to pick up the marijuana, but it’s not there. Returning to his house he finds his accomplice asleep on the couch. He takes a seat and watches the midnight news. There’s been a murder at a farm in Southland, another man died at the scene, and various people have been taken to Invercargill Hospital to be treated for shock and detained for questioning. He recognizes one of the people to be Johno Anderson, the dope grower they threatened to frame, and is suddenly inspired to act alone. [Lemme get this straight. All of the stories converge on this one farm, and as soon as everyone gets there the novel ends except that we find out in an epilogue that all hell broke loose? We don't even get to witness Armageddon?]


Notes

The query (Face-Lift 610) had too little information. The synopsis has too much. Can you choose two characters who have a connection and focus on them?

Think of the TV show Lost. It begins with all these people crash-landing on an island. We see them interact, we flash back to their earlier lives, we see that some of them had minor connections with others, though they didn't know it. Your book ends when they crash-land. Maybe your epilogue should be your prologue. We see the results, then we see how it came about. That's a tried and true formula, but you'll still have to show us what happens at the house.

Cartoon 336

Caption: WO

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

New Beginning 612

Chapter 4

Tighe floated motionless in the dark water of the Milwaukee Deep and let the current flow gently through his gills. The towers of Main Man 7 reminded him of the Eiffel Tower lit up at New Years; three city blocks of steel and iron structures thriving in the ocean depths. LEDs blinked on motorized pickers as they moved over the ocean floor retrieving ancient coins and raw metal nodules. The crawlers dropped their finds into bins on mechanized crawlers that moved to individual loading docks to disgorge their booty onto carriers capable of climbing one of the dozen cables that stretched the surface of the Ocean, 8500 meters above. Tighe felt a tingle as his exoskeleton glimmered in shades of blue-green.

Piet stood outside the communications shack, his body phosphorescing green and blue. Twenty meters east of him, Orry and Dane's bodies glowed in response. He scanned the ocean and found Tighe floating a hundred meters away. He waved for him to return.

"You like that view, don'tchta?" Piet vocalized over the intercom. Tighe's body snapped forward, his webbed hands and flippered feet sped him towards the platform.

Colin Bruck strode to the edge of the platform to help the dive team back aboard. His wide-eyed gaze drifted from Tighe's webbed limbs to the others' glowing skin. Christ, they'd been down less than an hour. "I guess it's true," he said. "We are pumping too much toxic crap into the bay."


Opening: Dave.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 335

Caption: Kiersten

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Face-Lift 610


Guess the Plot

Spats, Traps and Possum Fur Hats

1. Two strangers are inadvertently brought together in New Zealand. Also, a fork.

2. Reprint of the Hudson's Bay Company Gift Catalogue from 1812, the perfect gift for the nostalgic outdoorsman in your family.

3. Writings of my great great grandfather, who left the cut-and-thrust of the Paris couturier scene to carve his own way as a frontier haberdasher.

4. After the success of his Broadway show about Daniel Boone, playwright Frank Spinelli goes camping in wildest Kentucky to research the screenplay. Of course everything goes wrong and this tough New Yorker is soon reduced to a blubbering mess by a pack of hillbilly kids.

5. The Okeefenokee Swamp strengthens it's reputation as an overcrowded pit of ex-(comic)strippers as Albert the Alligator decides it's time to "re-assess" his relationship with Pogo--who is drawn Manga-style!

6. 1745. Lonely Mlle. Desjardins leaves her native Quebec to attend her sister's wedding in Paris. She writes little poems about the wonders of Canada and soon she's the toast of the salons. Can she resist the handsome marquis who courts her, and return to fur trader Pierre?


Original Version

To ,

My name is ________________, and I would like to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters of my novel for your consideration. To date I have submitted a couple of small pieces for publication in magazines and one poem to a New Zealand literary journal called Catalyst, all of which were published. I have also written a screen play, which I submitted to several film production companies; but it was written in a non-industry format, so although it was received with a degree of interest, no one would work with it [and I certainly hope you won't be that stubborn when I send you my single-spaced, printed-on-two-sides-in-an-orange-8-point-script-font, manuscript, because hell will freeze over before I reformat anything before sending it out again]. [Unless your credits are spectacular, like a bestselling novel, leave them for later in the query. Start with the book you're trying to sell.]

Among authors that influence and inspire me are Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Joyce, Faulkner, [Not bad, but why dilute your list with two authors who didn't even win the Nobel Prize?] but I first fell in love with literature through Kerouac, Kesey, and of particular importance the work of Carson McCullers. More modern authors include Stephen King and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. [This is just a list of authors. What about your book? When I choose from among dozens of queries, I don't settle on the one that includes the most impressive list of authors.]

While writing my novel I alternated between two working titles, "The Possum Trapper's Daughter," and "Spats, Traps, and Possum Fur Hats." The novel was finished under the second title. [This will be an interesting bit of trivia a hundred years from now when you're being discussed in literature classes, but you've used 29 words to give the book's title when space is at a premium and you haven't even gotten to the plot.] It has 138,780 words. [I recommend rounding that off...to 75,000.] It is set in New Zealand, [Finally, a tidbit of information about your book.] written in the style of simple character based realism, and develops using the pivotal mechanisms of coincidence and accident. There are elements of fatalism expressed in the idea of the path, and the fork in the path. [I give up. Go back to listing authors.] Though the main characters do not know each other, as each pursues that desire which most enthralls them, they are inadvertently brought together. It finishes with an epilogue. [An epilogue? Why didn't you say so? Send it on.]

Sincerely,


Notes

Imagine you go into Best Buy and tell the salesman you're trying to decide which big-screen TV to get. The salesman tells you about his career, starting in the appliance department at Sears, and then moving to Circuit City, and then on to Best Buy. You say, Yeah, yeah, but which TV gives the best picture? and he replies by listing his favorite TV shows: 24, American Idol, House, and especially Hell's Kitchen. Finally you manage to drag the dimensions of one TV out of him before he starts speaking in tongues. Now, what are you more likely to do: nominate him for salesman of the month, or seek a more informative salesman?

Start over. Give the title, word count and genre. Then summarize the main plot in ten sentences. Who are the main characters? What are the desires that enthrall them? What stands in the way of their dreams? What do they plan to do about it? In short, what happens in your book? Make it sound so interesting we simply have to read it.

Don't list your favorite authors. Don't include your credits. Don't mention fatalism or forks. Don't keep sending out your screenplay until you've put it in the proper format.

Read some of the 600+ Face-Lifts on this blog. Note that even the bad queries tell what happens in the book.

Cartoon 334

Caption: anon.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

New Beginning 611

By the time the Krakowski family made it to the promised Cessna ride, they were on their ninth hour of travel and the novelty of Alaska had long since worn off. Except for Nathan's father.

"Look at that, kids!" Doctor Paul Krakowski shouted over the roar of the plane, pointing down over the vast Northern Slope. "The last great untouched wilderness in the world! Only a handful of people will ever see this in their whole lives!"

Nathan, locked in the same sullen silence since they'd left Chicago, ignored him but eight-year-old Anna put down her Junior Crossword with sigh. The pilot obligingly banked as she squinted out into the June sunshine.

Beyond the tiny cluster of brown and gray buildings tucked into the shallow valley below, pristine fields and foothills stretched out in an immaculate vista as far as the eye could see. Miles of blinding white snowfields alternated with bright green grass all the way out to the distant, icy sea.

After a long moment Anna slumped back in her seat with another, deeper sigh.

"This cabin had better have a decent wireless connection," she said. Her dad's face fell.

Kathy Miller-Krakowski, Esquire, pushed aside the stack of briefs she'd been studying and tentatively rested a hand on her son's shoulder.

"I'm afraid those won't do," she said.

She looked at Nathan's glum face and squeezed his shoulder. "You know, Nate, I do understand what it's like for a boy your age, how it's important to make a good first impression, especially trying out for the team." She squeezed again. "And with the girls . . . But where we're going, it's way below zero six months of the year. And the winds blow in from the North, making it feel even colder. You've got to be practical, and those just aren't."

She put the briefs in a trash bag and handed Nathan a pair of baggy, gray thermal long-johns.



Opening: Sarah from Hawthorne.....Continuation: anon.