Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Film Series


video

Writing Exercise


Last Halloween we wrote scary stories and minions had the option of providing an audio recording of their stories. If you have the means to submit your writing exercise as a spooky reading (or video) you are welcome to do so. A written version is also fine; Or both, allowing readers to read along with the audio if they wish. Including Evil Editor or a writing theme is desirable.

You may wish to check out last year's submissions in the archives on October 26th.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Face-Lift 692


Guess the Plot

Searcher

1. Abner can barely find his shoes in the morning, but as the Chosen One of Kansas, he must find the lost keys to Rivaolinkwa, the disappearing corn maze where Queen Miwespese has been entrapped ever since Columbus landed in Puerto Rico. Only this will free the Eosdfipsfd people from the tortures of Siospfer.

2. Enslaved by the ganglord Dagan, Jetta must spend her days in the abandoned Ruins, searching for merk, liquid fallout that gives inhuman powers to all who consume it. If she could just kill her guard, cross into the forbidden zone, avoid the mutated dogs, survive the radiation storms and flash floods, escape Dagan's men, and locate the rumored merk motherlode . . . Hey, it's worth a try.

3. Dan Miller never knew he was adopted, until his 'parents' are killed in a car accident. Going through their old files, he finds a paper trail that proves he's someone else's son, and becomes obsessed with finding his real family. It soon becomes clear that his adoptive parents' deaths weren't as accidental as he thought, and he ends up fighting against a bizarre conspiracy designed to keep him from ever finding the answers to his questions: who were his parents, why was his adoptive family killed - and why would the readers care?

4. When a storm tears the Miller family apart, Jake finds himself on the wrong side of the river. Can the plucky beagle find his way home, or is he doomed to live in a house where the kids call him Snoopy?

5. Sally counts her trunk novels and two are missing!!! Where can they be? Then she realizes: Tiffany! The bitch stole her ideas! She must track her down and get the pages back, or that witch will soon publish a pair of thinly disguised rewrites and get rich on movie options, etc.

6. A chocolate poodle, a sloshed (slushed?) editor, and an irrepressible writer all need a plot. What else do these have in common? The Bermuda Triangle! Also, a pilot who finds the land after time -- with zombies, intelligent goo and aliens instead of dinosaurs.


Original Version

The abandoned ruins of Denver spread for miles, but to seventeen-year-old Jetta, they’re a prison. Her dreams lie in the mountains on the Western horizon, in a place of trees and rivers and life—birds never sing in the Ruins. [I like this better without that sentence.] Enslaved by the ganglord Dagan for her rare gift, she instead spends her days in the hovering deadness of the city, seeking merk: the mysterious liquid fallout that draws life from the charred soil, heals the sick, and gives inhuman powers to those who consume it. [You don't need the word "instead"; in fact some may think you mean instead of being enslaved.] Few share her ability to locate this craved commodity in it’s hidden places.

So when Jetta overhears word of a huge reserve of merk, possibly the last reserve left, she sees the means to survive, should she finally make her escape to the mountains. The plan has one problem, however. [You haven't actually mentioned a "plan" yet, so maybe you should drop that sentence and just say "Unfortunately . . . ] The merk reserve is said to be hidden in the dangerous and forbidden East Half.

Determined to pursue her one chance, Jetta kills her guard, [One of two or three commas you can do without.] and becomes a desperate fugitive. She must now delve deep into the shadows of the East Half. Feral dogs, mutated by merk, hunt her. Radiation storms bring lightning and flash floods. And all the while, Dagan’s men close in around her. If Jetta doesn’t find the reserve soon, she’ll not only lose her one chance to be free, she’ll lose her life as well. [Why would Dagan's men kill their meal merk ticket?]

SEARCHER is YA post-apocalyptic novel, complete at 80,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

I'm not quite clear on Jetta's plan. Rather than head for the mountains she heads for the rumored merk reserve. Is her plan to consume large quantities of merk, becoming more powerful than anyone else?

Apparently merk's powers are temporary, or Dagan wouldn't have Jetta looking for more all the time. And because she can carry a limited amount of merk, Jetta's powers will eventually fade when she's in the mountains. So why not just head for the mountains as soon as she escapes?

How about an example of the inhuman powers merk gives to those who consume it.

If the merk reserve is huge, it doesn't seem like you'd need special talent to find it.

Cartoon 504

Caption: Paul Penna

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Beginning 698

The dance combination seemed simple. A few sideways steps, jump and switch feet, then back the other way. Yet when Melissa slid to the side, she stumbled straight into Her Majesty.

"Hey! Watch it, klutz!" With a frown, the girl dusted off her slinky black leotard.

Of all people to bump into, why her? Melissa stammered an apology while she backed away, her face, neck, torso burning. What a way to start at a new studio, colliding into the reigning prima ballerina.

Before class, Her Majesty had dismissed Melissa with a cold sniff. Now the girl scowled at her while she placed her feet back into fifth position.

The ballet teacher, Miss Sylvia, restarted the music. "Let's try that again, girls."

During the rest of class, Melissa stayed across the room from Her Majesty. The other girls kept checking how Her Majesty did the moves and copied her.

After class Melissa wanted to apologize to Her Majesty again, but Her Majesty's consorts swooped in and rushed Her Majesty out of the studio.

Bad enough Her Majesty disguises herself as a twelve-year-old, Melissa thought, but can't Queen Elizabeth afford
private lessons?


Opening: Kathy Scott.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Cartoon 503

Caption: Voter

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Face-Lift 691

Guess the Plot

The Red Priestess

1. Bob thought it might be safe to leave the house again, but SHE was STILL waiting at the bus stop wearing that outfit with the beads, head cone of melting incense wax, and feathered thingy.

2. After ten years training in the Chromatic Church, in which branches of the priesthood are named after colors, Mara is assigned to the Red Order – only to learn that the Red Order has no members. The good news is, she gets to eat all the communion wafers.

3. Sally Rook thinks the only reason she wasn't chosen as chess club president is her gender. She's forced to face the truth when a female transfer student has the boys on the chess team begging for lessons. Maybe Sally should switch to field hockey. Also, dog-hair knitting.

4. In a bid to charm the mystery chick with the diamonds in her hair, Todd accepts her invitation to play cards -- but realizes that might have been a mistake when he sees she meant Tarot, not poker.

5. Shanana thought he was the only Rainbow Warden to survive the Polychrome Massacre. When he hears rumors of another Warden, will he find his long lost love, or the traitor responsible for the pumpkin-cheese affair?

6. In a world in which women hold all religious power, there has been no crime, poverty or war in decades. And the men are sick and tired of it. Eriglio Damon raises an army of men in revolt against the Red Priestess. Hey, if everybody's happy, somebody has to pay the price.


Original Version

Dear (Agent),

I am seeking representation for my fantasy novel, "The Red Priestess".

Mara, youngest daughter of a minor aristocratic house, completes her ten years' training in the Chromatic Church, in which branches of the priesthood are named after colours. She is assigned by its mystical Flame to the Red Order – which causes consternation, since the Red Order has had no members in over two hundred years. [The good news is that she doesn't have to listen to any whiny confessions. The bad news is that the collection plate always comes back empty.]

Rules of Church protocol thrust her into political situations she barely understands, and somehow she has to reconstruct and master the magic of the Red Order, forgotten for centuries. It's a daunting task, but Mara's upbringing has given her a strong sense of duty, and she is determined to succeed.

Her problems are put into perspective, though, when an attempt is made on her life – it seems someone wants the Red Order to stay extinct. [I suspect the Green Order.] Looking for answers and a safe haven, Mara travels to the fortress city of Athraxas and its labyrinthine underground library. [Because when you need a safe haven, nothing beats an underground labyrinth in a strange city.] Here, she finds clues about her enemies – the sinister Pacted Men, and their monstrous master, Esaun-Namhiroth. [Anagram: An author in shame.]

But even here, intrigue and murder follow Mara, and she realizes the only way to end it is to confront her enemy with the magic of the Red Order. Inhumanly old and monstrously powerful, Esaun-Namhiroth is worshipped as a god by a whole nation. Mara knows she has little chance against such a creature – but she knows, too, that she has no choice.

"The Red Priestess" is complete at 126,000 words; it stands alone as a story, but is envisaged as the first volume of a trilogy. A full manuscript is available at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration - I look forward to hearing from you.


Notes

If the red priestess is vital to political situations, it's hard to believe they got along without one for 200 years. I'd leave out the political situations she barely understands, or at least give an example.

The Pacted Men sounds like men who've been pacted, which makes no sense. When you're sinister, and you live in Athraxas, and your god is Esaun-Namhiroth, you need a better name than Pacted Men.

Sinister Pacted Men

Cartoon 502


Caption: Steve Wright

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Beginning 697

Daren sped across the basketball court as Carson High’s bulky players charged in his direction. He hesitated, his head spinning from the series of leaps and turns he’d employed to lead them across the court, and loosened his grip on the ball, as if defeated. Then he jumped.

The ball soared through the air. The crowd rose. Every breath stilled, lingering on the border between lungs and lips, as the seconds on the stop-clock flipped from two to one. Hitting the side of the rim, the ball bounced erratically, and whooshed into the net.

The crowd screamed, the third quarter buzzer sounded, and a hand slapped Daren across the back, rattling his ribs.

“Dude,” said Brad Dickson, “Did you not see me waving my arms?”

“I saw you.” Daren strolled to the water table, careful to avoid the corner where Marla Perkins and her fellow cheerleaders were launching into a series of acrobatic jumps. He could see her clearly in his mind, tan legs flashing below a purple and white skirt. Warm brown eyes. He tried not to think about the sound of her voice, and the fact
that their nightly conversations would soon be replaced by inescapable, crushing silence.

It always came to that. His mind wandered away from her and he fell to thinking of tan legs flashing below purple and white basketball shorts, and then to picturing those tan, muscular legs minus the shorts, then minus everything.

"Dude," he said, strolling back to Brad Dickson. "Screw the fourth quarter; let's hit the showers."


Opening: Chelsea.....Continuation: Paul Penna

Cartoon 501

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Face-Lift 690


Guess the Plot


Redemption


1. Nico is a half-demon, trying to stop an army from killing his brothers and feeding them to mutants. Savannah is a half-angel hunting down Nico to gain her redemption. Confrontation seems to be their destiny, but then, they never expected to fall in love.


2. As the guilt about jilting Abner in 1967 grows steadily more onerous instead of fading away, Millicent decides there's only one way to redeem herself: marry him. Too bad he seems to be so inconveniently 'married' to some jerk named Stan. What's a girl to do?


3. Teenage rowdies accidentally burn Springfield when their protest against global warming goes awry. Judge Jackson sentences them to rebuild the town and they can barely afford dirt so everything has to be made of adobe. At least no trees will be harmed. As they toil to make the first house Tiffany wonders -- will this take the rest of their lives, or what???


4. Now that Chet has terminal lung cancer, he decides to wheeze on down to find Evelyn in Surrey and apologize for ruining her life in 1992. But their chat over tea is so awkward -- she can't remember Chet at all, and her butler keeps giviing Chet the evil eye.


5. After his drunken party burns the house down, forcing his aging parents to move into the chicken shed, Shelby Jones returns to his college dorm knowing he must do dramatic good deeds to redeem himself. Fortunately he gets the Superman costume at half price. Now all he needs is an evil nemesis.


6. Claude, an insistent atheist (to spite the deities currently traipsing down Main Street), is painting his masterpiece (which has the same title as eight albums, five songs, four novels, three films, and a play). His neighbors are trying to prevent more deities from climbing through the dimensional rift in Claude's backyard.



Original Version


Dear Evil Editor,


Redemption is an 85,000 word urban fantasy inspired by Frank Miller, George A. Romero and Robert McCammon. [I can't say I care who or what inspired the book, unless you mean you stole your ideas from them.]


Half-angel Savannah Mantas smells the sulfuric stench of wrath when it enters her city, Iron Point. Resurrected by the archangel Michael, she's hunting for redemption and half-demon Nico Montenegro is her prey. He comes from the Fringes, the border between the city and the toxic wasteland beyond.


When they meet, Nico tells her a story, one of genocide and confiscated bodies. Not revenge, but justice is his purpose and his target is the most admired family in the world–Commander Hathaway and his daughter. [That name sounded familiar, but while it turns out it's the name of a famous WWII commander, I think I had Commander McBragg in mind. A few of McBraggs short cartoons are available on YouTube.] [Sudden attack of nostalgia. I'll get back to the query shortly, after I order the complete Commander McBragg collection on DVD.]


Hathaway's soldiers are slaughtering Fringers and secretly feeding them to Revenants, mutants who survived the bio-bombing of 2120. [You've got to be pretty unobservant if someone manages to secretly feed you.] They have a twisted idea they can train these clever creatures like dogs and keep them out of the city long enough to mobilize an evacuation for the wealthy and well-connected. [Lemme see if I've got this straight. You've got some mutants and you want to train them like dogs, which you do by feeding them a slaughtered Fringer whenever they do what they're supposed to do? Wouldn't they be just as happy with a biscuit?]


Savannah knows better. Revenants are what killed her. When they attack, she saves the citizens of Iron Point and gains her redemption, but Michael gives her one final choice. She can ascend to Heaven, or sacrifice paradise and save Nico, the man [correction, half-demon] she loves, from eternal hellfire.


My novels, Stark Knight, Silent Knight, Good Knight, My Biker Bodyguard, Bulletproof Bride, and my YA horror DFF: Dead Friends Forever, the first of six books in the Extreme Hauntings series are published by Echelon Press. School's Out 4Ever, the second in the series, will be released this fall.


Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response.


Sincerly, [The most important words in a query are the first and last. Spell them correctly. What's between them I couldn't care less about, as I usually don't read it.]



Notes


If the goal is to get the Revenants out of the city, wouldn't it be easier to slaughter the Revenants than to slaughter the Fringers and feed them to the Revenants and train the Revenants?


Why is Nico condemned to hellfire? If Michael can--and is willing to--save Nico from eternal hellfire, why doesn't he just do it? If Nico's earned his own redemption, he shouldn't have to spend eternity in hell just because Savannah chooses heaven over a half-demon. Yes, I'm aware she chooses Nico, but that's not the point.


I wouldn't mind a bit more about how Savannah manages to save the whole city from Revenants.


Cartoon 500!!

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Historic Figure Pitch Session 5

Nice Dundrearies.

Beg pardon?

Nice Dundrearies. That's what everyone's calling them now.

Calling what?

Muttonchops.

I see. Sir, what is it you--

Of course, yours have a ways to go before they qualify as true Dundrearies. I'd say another four or five inches should do it.

Out of curiosity, why do they call them Dundrearies?

After Lord Dundreary. He's a character in a play. Here, I've got a program from a performance a few nights ago. Check out Lord Dundreary's Dundrearies.

Impressive. I see the play is entitled Our American Cousin. This wouldn't be from the night our president was shot?

As a matter of fact.

Hang onto that. I'm guessing it'll be worth millions on Ebay. Meanwhile, what can I do for you, Mr.--

Booth. John Wilkes Booth.

The J. Wilkes Booth?! The actor? I caught you in Julius Caesar last year. Fabulous performance. What can I do for you, sir?

I'm looking for a book contract. I figure as the man who shot Lincoln, I--

I heard about that. Biggest manhunt in history, yada yada yada. Why'd you do it, by the way?

The guy was 6 foot four, sitting right in front of me. I couldn't see a thing. And when I asked him to take off his stovepipe hat he refused.

The nerve. I sympathize, totally, Mr. Booth. But if we want to sell books, you're better off claiming you did it for political reasons. Tell you what, we'll meet at my place tonight and churn out a rough draft. I see bestseller here, assuming I can keep you under wraps till we're finished.

--Evil Editor

Historic Figure Pitch Session 4

“Uh….”

“Like it?”

EE picked the manuscript up by one dubious corner. “I’ve heard arguments about paper weight and brightness, but—moist and aloe scented?”

Joseph Gayetty smiled obligingly. “Of course. It’s even better than three-ply. Now, are we talking a $500,000 advance?”

“What!” EE sputtered. “I don’t even know how you got in my office or what this is all about, and you’re already suggesting advances I may or may not feel like giving.”

Gayetty leaned in. “Look, buddy, I changed the world for the better and my memoir tells all. All, I say!”

“Nobel Peace Prize?”

“Ha! For deforestation in the name of American derrieres?”

“Wait… what?”

“Yes, I said it. Derrieres!”

“In your book?”

“What do you think I invented, radios? Of course I’ve got bums in my books!”

EE cleaned his glasses. “Tell me a bit more about this.”

Gayetty preened. “It all started with a cornhusk. Those weren’t fun, you know. Even the Sears catalogue wasn’t very fun. I needed something softer and kinder—like cotton and clouds and fluffy, cute bears! Oh, the hours I worked, slaved over it! I had to experiment on myself, you know. Did you know that lots of water is good for your diet, by the way? And when it finally worked, presto! I had the world at my feet. As I always liked to say, they paid from their back pockets and returned it there. *snort*”

“Well… the publicity department might have fun with this. Howzabout you send me a partial—but this time, on two-ply. The ink runs less.”

--_*Rachel*_ (in homage to Joseph Gayetty, inventor of modern toilet paper)

Historic Figure Pitch Session 3

OK, so everybody knows the outside story - the whole country electrified; their tears, their hopes, their fears. Everyone glued to their TV screens. Non-stop coverage, commercialls killed; the interviews, the helicopters, the expert talking heads, the continuous scrolling updates. The tension unbearable. But what about the inside story? The gut-wrenching story only I can tell? The answer to the question on everybody's mind? Here you have it: what it's like to puke on live TV! Twice!

--Paul Penna

Historic Figure Pitch Session 2

" - so, it seemeth to Us that the truth should be known."

EE cringed. Dealing with authors was easy enough, but he couldn't cope with the massive figure who stood before him in doublet and hose. And codpiece. The codpiece was terrifying.

"But why now - ?"

"Because of this travesty that the BBC hath wrought!"

"Um - 'The Tudors'? But it's very popular - "

The monarch's lip curled. "They have set this Jonathan Rhys Meyers to play Us! He is a knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; furthermore, he is a wuss - We essay thy modern parlance, but We have not yet mastered it. No matter, sirrah scrivener; thou shalt set all aright with the stroke of thy pen." The king leaned forward. "If thou wouldst not have thy head smitten from thy shoulders!"

EE cowered back. "I'll do what I can - "

"And they concentrate on the bedroom antics!" the king continued. "They give not a moment to the agonies of conscience that We suffered; how We thought and We prayed before the breach with the Bishop of Rome; the scholars and philosophers We consulted - "

EE's voice shook as he said, "Well - we have to think about sales - you know, popular appeal, all that sort of thing - "

"The populace shall buy Our memoir, whether it appeal or no!" the king roared. His voice shook the room; several manuscripts toppled into the recycling bin. EE was silently thankful for that, at least.

"But," the king added, "if there must be talk of fornication - We have much to say anent Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard; for those ladies were, as thou mightest say, verily skanks and hos."

EE's eyes lit up. "Now you're talking! - Sire."

--Steve Wright

Historic Figure Pitch Session 1

The man walked into the office hand outstretched, looking for a handshake. He waved his hand at EE and announced. "I'm Beauregard Lee Perrine of the Atlanta Perrines, dating back to 1848, not them Carolina Perrines. They're just carpet-bagging pretenders. My friends call me Jubal." EE barely looked over his glasses as he stamped the palm of the man's hand -- REJECTED.

"There! Your palm's been read. Now pitch your book."

"That wasn't hospitable..." Jubal said as he slid his butt onto the desk, one foot still on the floor the other resting on his knee. Tchotchkes wobbled, slid and fell over. "...and that's what we're talking about, hospitality and food... barbecue ribs and southern fried chicken. I just won three Blue Ribbons and two state fair contests and I aims to go nationwide with a book and a cooking tour. The silent majority of southern food. I grew up an orphan boy, raised by divorcees, turned to the love of Baby Jesus and schooled on grills. I know it all; the fights, the backbiting famous chefs and the insidious cheats. That's how the bland and banal triumph in the cooking of barbecue ribs and fried chicken. I'm giving you the chance to hop on my rising star of male cuisine."

"You related to the Flays of New York?" EE asked. Jubal stood nonplussed.

"A damn Yankee."

"The Sanders of Kentucky?"

"Upstarts in MSG."

"The Deans?"

"Garlic breathing charlatans." Jubal stood, lips quivering and fists clenched.

"Pity. Rejected." EE waved Jubal off his desk and fixed his gaze on another manuscript. Red ink flowed like ruby-red wine on a white carpet.

"Rejected?"

"Every man is like me... King of the grill. Duke of drumsticks. Paladin of pork bellies. Men don't read cookbooks. Men cook! Have a nice day, goodbye."

--Dave F.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Face-Lift 689


Guess the Plot

Godmother's Wand

1. When her fairy godmother's wand breaks, Penelope must go on a journey to the Field of Happiness to find the Fairy Stones. But two nasty trolls want them too. Along the way, Penelope meets a cheery collection of cuddly, chattery animals and learns the true meaning of friendship.

2. Young Nate has often wondered why his godmother Julie has larger hands, a deeper voice, and a more prominent Adam's Apple than most women. But the truth emerges the day he sees his . . . Godmother's Wand.

3. Over the river and through the woods
With Godmother's Wand we go
The vamps know the way
To slaughter and slay
And spill blood in the snow.

4. Godmother is at war with the Tooth Fairy, who has her wand. Enlisting dentist Bunny Hopeful to get the wand back before the world loses its teeth is her only option. Will Bunny brave the fangs of the fairy minions and save the world from unemployed dentists?

5. When Harriet steals her fairy godmother's wand, she doesn't know that in the wrong hands the wand does the opposite of what it's asked to do. Hilarity ensues for a while--until Harriet wishes for peace on Earth and starts World War III.

6. Saved from a fall by her fairy godmother, Mary must now prove she deserves to live, by rescuing her boyfriend from the depths of Hades. But first she has to avoid being killed by the giant flyswatter her fairy godmother is helpless to stop.


Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

When hapless thirty-year old Mary Howard falls from her second story porch, she finds herself suspended in mid-air being lectured by a large flamboyant lady dressed in pink who’s waving a clumsy wand. Mary has been rescued by her fairy godmother, Gretta. Almost. Gretta was a little too late due to a cosmic divorce, consequently Mary is only 40 percent alive. The rest of her is on the sidewalk.

Mary must prove to the Creator that she is worthy of being given life. In the meantime, Mary is alive enough to attend a fancy dress party, visit her parents in disguise and have tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. [If you're going to suspend the plot summary to list a few random things that happen, you need to come up with more interesting events than attending a party and drinking tea. I guarantee Dan Brown's query for The Da Vinci Code didn't say, Meanwhile, Langdon has time to grab a croissant from a Paris bakery, check his email, and take in a show at Moulin Rouge.] Along the way, a mysterious nemesis appears, who threatens to destroy Mary and chases her with a giant flyswatter. Gretta tries to protect Mary, but there are limits to what she can do. [If you can't even protect a 30-year-old woman from a flyswatter, it's time to hang up the wand.] Ultimately, Mary fights off the nemesis and unmasks her as… one of the pieces that broke off when she fell. [That broke off her body? Which piece? How much of her body is Mary missing? We seem to have gone from mundane to silly in this paragraph.]

Meanwhile, Mary’s lackadaisical boyfriend, Todd, has ordeals of his own. Todd is tricked by a spiritual crank into descending to Hades, the Baltimore location, to rescue Mary’s soul, [Trickery or not, if you're willing to descend into Hades for your girlfriend, you don't strike me as the lackadaisical type.] and finds himself in mortal danger. Mary is Todd’s only hope. She must rescue him and herself and prove that she is worth resuscitating. It all ends happily ever after.

“Godmother’s Wand” is 21,000 words and classified as magical realism. [That's not a term you'd want to apply to a children's book. And 21,000 words isn't going to cut it as an adult book. Is this part of a book called Three Novellas? Who's your audience?]

Thank you very much for your time.


Notes

Gretta sounds more like a guardian angel than a fairy godmother. Possibly because of the Creator aspect.

Why does Gretta's wand make it into the title? Does Mary take it to Hades?

Is the Creator a character in the book?

Everything may make sense in the book, but if something seems nutty in the query, it won't help your cause. Like, if Mary's arm is chasing her with a giant flyswatter, I'd leave that out. Even if it's for children. It's not an important part of the main plot, which is that Mary must earn her life by rescuing her brother from Hades. Focus on the main plot.

Your chances of surviving a fall from a second-story porch aren't all that bleak, even without a fairy godmother. Surely you wouldn't have so much velocity that when you were suddenly stopped, pieces of you would break off.

Cartoon 499


Caption: Voter

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Beginning 696

It took me a while to figure out what set her apart from the other women at the contradance. There were at least a dozen other new people there that night. She was beautiful, of course, but there were others with long dark hair and wide dark eyes, a girl’s freshness and a woman’s grace. I envied them. I didn’t envy her.

She looked at all her partners like a lover, I thought—though I couldn’t be sure, never having had one myself-- like someone who knew every line of their faces, every gesture of their hands, and hungered, not for their approval, their desire, but for them, the way they were in themselves. It wasn’t just the men, either. She took my hand in a ladies’ chain, and I thought she could have sculpted my hand from memory after that—calluses, split nail, long blunt-ended fingers.

I sat out the next dance and watched her. She smiled radiantly whenever she met anyone’s eyes, but while she waited off the end of the set she looked like a little girl left alone at night, straining to hear the grown-ups downstairs, telling herself desperately that she is not afraid of the dark.

In the next dance, I discerned from the way she moved her hips that she was a divorced mother of two. And more: she waved her hands in the air like someone who had never been satisfied with her husband because he spent all day working.

It was all for the best. I could tell from the fire in her eyes that the rough touch of a man could never tame her.

I worked up the courage to talk to her. The distance from her chin to her clavicle revealed that she was a Scorpio who liked long walks on the beach. The roundness of her knees implied that she enjoyed watching movies and, though she was no fan of the original Police Academy, she closely followed the careers of Steve Guttenberg and Kim Cattrall.

I introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Amber."

She replied in a deep, masculine voice, "I'm Gary." It was only then that I noticed the Adam's apple . . .


Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Matthew

Cartoon 498

Caption: Blogless_Troll

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Face-Lift 688


Guess the Plot

The Lost

1. Janet's best dog ever was Waldo, a well-trained poodle. It was a tragedy that he went missing. But if Janet can't stop lamenting the loss of her dog and notice Digby, the handsomest taximan in Glasgow, she'll never know happiness.

2. A young puppy shows up on a widow's porch one morning and worms his way into her lonely heart. As Wilma cares for Jo Jo, she realizes that Jo Jo is no ordinary dog, but the leader of a pack of werehumans.

3. Vic hates everything about Mr. Grim's Boarding School for the Criminally Deceased, including the constant feeling of being lost and of course the part about being dead, but the very worst part is that the dining hall doesn't serve nachos.

4. Angela is sick of wearing mismatched socks. Determined to discover what happens, she sets her dryer to fluff and climbs inside. Transported to the world behind the Internet, she'll uncover the true origin of sock puppets. Can she escape a world-wide mob of mis-matched hosiery?

5. In 1939 Max and Roberto took a shortcut on their way from Las Cruces to North Dakota and were never seen again. Sixty-nine years later a squad of commandos on a desert training mission discover two men pushing a car toward Los Alamos -- two men named Max and Roberto who claim they just escaped a horde of space aliens. This is their story.

6. Bridget Abraham always knows where she is: not in the location she wants to be. When her husband gives her dog tags and a GPS for her anniversary, she decides to get therapy. But can she find the counselor's office?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, "each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds." [For those interested, here are the top ten causes of death among 15-to-24-year-old American teenagers:

10. Sibling murder.
9. Living in Afghanistan.
8. Brain cancer from cell phone overuse.
7. Video game violence.
6. Living in Iraq.
5. Zombies.
4. Amusement park accidents.
3. Suicide.
2. Rap music.
1. Texting while driving.]

My young adult novel, The Lost, explores this deep and disturbing issue. It's a cross between Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere. [If I haven't read those books, that means nothing to me. If I have read them, I should recognize the similarities from your plot description, without needing to be told.]

Occupants of Mr. Grim's Boarding School for the Criminally Deceased have at least one thing in common: they each took their own lives. [life] [Why isn't this your first sentence? It's a novel, and you open with statistics that make me think it's a depressing nonfiction book.]

Sixteen-year-old Vic has been at the school for awhile. Vic is dead, she knows that much, and she's lost all hope of leaving the school where colors are dull, the rooms are always changing, and the classes revolve around others[apostrophe] past lives, but not her own. [Who are these others the classes revolve around? Historical figures? Other people in the school?] There are no windows and no nachos (Vic's fav). It's high school, but worse. She's stuck in a wandering, unsatisfying, lost existence. She doesn't remember who she is so she spends her time showing a Phase One (a new boarder) the ropes [As a simple matter of tact, it's best not to show new boarders the ropes until you're sure they didn't hang themselves.] while trying to ignore the flashes of memory popping up in her head. As the old memories consume her, Vic is overwhelmed with her past choices, desperate to understand her former self. [Shorten this paragraph. Keep the specific, lose the general.]

When Ty, a past football player, finds a lustrous red rose, a sign of a world outside of the dust-encrusted school, he rallies Vic and the others to plan an escape. She partners up with some of her peers as they try to find a way back to the life they willingly left behind, but Mr. Grim's Boarding School is less like an educational institution and more like a prison, full of secrets of its own.

Will Vic find a way to see her family and friends again? Will she remember why she chose to end her life? [These questions aren't needed.]

The Lost is dark, but also filled with hope. The manuscript is complete at 40,000 words. May I sent a partial or full manuscript? Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Lose the suicide stats. It's the story we're looking for.

Mr. Grim's Boarding School for the Criminally Deceased makes me think it's for dead people who were criminals or were killed by criminals. I don't think you're trying to give the impression suicide is a crime. Maybe it should be for the self-dispatched.

An amusing name for the school will give the impression the book has plenty of humor, and you say it's dark. Is it also funny?

If you must mention other books, just say your book will appeal to those who liked the other ones, not that yours is a cross between them, which sounds like you set out to produce a hybrid of other people's works.

Ty rallies the students and Vic partners with her peers. It might be better if Vic does the rallying or leads her peers. I assume your main character is the heroine, not a follower, so don't give the wrong impression in the query.

Cartoon 497

Caption: Steve Wright

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Beginning 695

"What we have here is paradise... not lost but regained." Tex sat in the remains of the Quonset hut and scanned a memory card retrieved from Team Alpha's waterproof safe. Dash sat behind him, reviewing message logs and reports from another memory card. Billy, their point man broke the silence of mosquitoes buzzing and ocean waves lapping over the edges of the atoll.

"What we gots he-ah, is a dump-pah." Billy said as he searched through the ruined equipment.

"No, paradise... Betwixt them Lawns... and flocks, grazing the tender herb... flowers of all hue, and without thorn... the Rose... Paradise," Tex recited. Billy pushed back his nose and snorted.

"Soo-we, wee goin' all intellectual? Team Alpha is done gone. Sold their souls to Korean goonie-loonies or Chinee Yellow Piss-pots or Al Kai-Eeda ragheads to mounds of gold an' jewels swinging from their Bene-dicked Arnolds. In short, bugged out."

"Jesus, Puckerbutt, could you try not offendin' half o' mankind in a one breath?" Tex paused a single heartbeat and described the files he just read.

"What we got he-ah, is some digitized video. Lemme see... It says 'Paris Hilton's Simple Life, Complete Seasons 1, 2 and 3.'" Billy looked up in horror. Tex closed his eyes and said, "Through me the way into the Suffering City... Through me the way to Eternal Pain... Through me the way... that runs among the Lost..."


Opening: Dave F......Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 496

Caption: Anon.
Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Face-Lift 687


Guess the Plot

The Soul Catcher

1. Soul catchers take "soul food" to a whole new level. They dine on the souls of human beings. When a teen-aged soul catcher disguises herself as a human and falls in love with her next meal, trouble looms: the punishment is . . . death.

2. Being an engineer on a rundown space train isn't easy, and when new regulations come down the line ordering that all engines immediately be fitted with a "soul catcher," Lance Bixter knows the whole run is going to suck.

3. With a butterfly net and an i-pod full of rhythm & blues, Barry Duboise is ready to rule the Lepidopterans. His main rival has developed a secret weapon she calls honey-flame. Can the pair team up long enough to defend their kingdom from the invading Ornithos?

4. Joel Brown thought he had a catchy new name for a café in the heart of Detroit's Motown. Until the chili eats his waitress and the only new applicant for the job has a forked tongue and glowing red eyes. And she's horny. This could work out.

5. In 2157 Rap is the Law, enforced by Soul Catchers, who snuff out subversive sweet soul sounds of the 1960s. J-Slam is the baddest, but when he samples a stash of vinyl, he's hooked. Can he save himself and his Soul, while proving he's not a ripoff of Fahrenheit 451?

6. Retired astronaut Stan Kaufman saw souls floating by while he orbited the earth. When his dead wife leaves messages that she's been captured, he sets to work building a rocket that can take him into near-earth orbit so he can free her. Also, a jive-talking ghost.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

After reviewing your website, I believe you may be interested in The Soul Catcher, a YA fantasy complete at 60,000 words. I'm currently seeking representation.

While living as a mortal...

1) A jinn must not reveal one’s true identity. [I assume you mean his/her own identity, in which case I'd say his or her or its, not one's.]
2) A jinn must not grant wishes.
3) A jinn must not fall in love. [That sounds more like a recommendation than a rule. It's like saying, Don't be sad. Easily done until something tragic happens.] [Also, what's the point of being a jinn if you can't do anything fun?]

Sixteen-year-old Asiya has no trouble following these rules of Spell, a one week retreat where she, an influential jinn and soul catcher, can leave the Colony and roam the mortal world disguised as a human, until she meets Wren, an intelligent yet troubled southern boy. [Southern USA? If so, name the state, because with names like Asiya and Wren, I'm thinking southern Asgard.] [Also, that "until" goes with "following," but could easily go with "roam" or "disguised." Maybe put dashes around everything between "Spell," and "until."]

While other jinn view mortals as cattle, their souls the source of jinn magic and life, Asiya secretly admires the humans from which she is supposed to feed. ["Supposed to," meaning she doesn't?] This may have something to do with the fact that she's rumored to be half-mortal because of the rare color of her eyes. [This paragraph is just trivia. Dump it and focus on the Asiya/Wren relationship.]

During Spell, when she’s taunted at the mortal high school because of her Arabian ancestry, Wren comes to her defense. She follows him, intrigued, and witnesses his stepfather's abusive nature. Horrified, she reveals her powers in hopes he’ll wish for a new life. Wren, finally pushed to the edge, unknowingly makes a deadly wish. Asiya grants it, creating an imbalance between the mortal and jinn worlds, which sets in motion a series of dangerous consequences. [Couldn't Asiya change from human form to jinn form and then grant the wish, thus avoiding breaking rule #2?]

Together they run from Makin, a powerful jinn sent to punish them. Asiya tries to find her mortal father before she's dragged back to the Colony forever, but more than her freedom is at stake when she falls in love with the broken and cynical country boy. Any jinn knows the punishment for loving a mortal is nothing less than death..

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

To declare that Asiya has no trouble following the rules until she meets Wren isn't saying much; she meets him almost immediately. She managed to not break the rules for a couple days. What will power.

She has only one week to roam the mortal world . . . and enrolls in high school?

Can a new kid just show up and start attending school?

What's the punishment for revealing your identity or granting a wish?

What do you mean by, she's an "influential" jinn?

Not all jinn can catch souls? Do the soul catchers catch souls and provide them to the other jinn?

Granting a deadly wish while in mortal form throws the universe into imbalance. Would granting the same wish while in jinn form have the same consequences?

Cartoon 495

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

20-Word Challenge 11

Roly-Poly Bunny hoppity-hopped along the chocolate SIDEWALK of Jolly Town to the candy-cane tree. In the TREETOP dwelt his friend, Mr. Twitter-Tweet, in a nest of peppermint lollipops.

"Who's that SKULKING around?" Mr. Twitter-Tweet chirped. He shrugged his downy little SHOULDERS. "I'd be SURPRISED if it wasn't Roly-Poly Bunny!" His merry eyes WIDENED. "It is Roly-Poly Bunny!"

"Hello, Mr. Twitter-Tweet!" Roly-Poly Bunny chortled. "Was there ever a BRIGHTER, more COMPLETELY candy-licious day?"

"Roly-Poly, Mrs. Twitter-Tweet left her HANDBAG at Netty Newt's cottage. Will you fetch it?"

Roly-Poly Bunny STIFFENED. "She's such a PICKLE-FACED..."

"Sweet pickle-faced," Mr. Twitter-Tweet corrected. "If you don't, I'll tickle your RIBCAGE until you giggle!"

"Well..."

"Now hop to it!" Mr. Twitter-Tweet ORDERED, and DROPPED his friend a bag of taffy twists.

Roly-Poly laughed and bounced SILENTLY away on his cotton-puff paws.

Then he TOTTERED as a GHOULISH zombie MONSTER sprang forth; moments later Roly-Poly's bloody, dismembered corpse was disappearing through the CREATURE'S STINKING maw.


Evil Editor looked up from my manuscript. "Phew, for a minute there you had me worried, Paul."

--Paul Penna (New Beginning 198)

20-Word Challenge 9

She stared at the drink as if MESMERIZED. Even in the golden rays of the late AFTERNOON SUNLIGHT, it looked unappealing.

"It's blue," she said dubiously.

"It's a delicate TURQUOISE, SHADING towards sapphire," her husband said. "It's very posh. Can't you imagine a U.S. SENATOR drinking it at some EXCLUSIVE RENDEZVOUS?"

"I can imagine what the REPORTERS would say when he keeled over, too." If he was so keen on the stuff, why didn't he try it HIMSELF?

She picked up the glass. The surface seemed SLICKED with something oily; her doubts were MAGNIFIED. "What did you call this, again?"

"A PANAMA FLAMINGO DAIQUIRI. Don't go GULPING it down, now, you have to savour it, like a fine GLENLIVET."

She raised the glass, took a cautious sip. Then she spat, convulsively, and doubled over. "Ye gods!" she said, after a while. "My mouth feels hotter than FLORIDA."

He looked woebegone. "You didn't like it?"

Why had she MARRIED this idiot? "I'd rather drink nuclear waste."

"But – " He sputtered. "But it's all worked out – I've got a marketing campaign, ready to go – "

"Forget it. The only way to market this is to Pratt and WHITNEY, as aviation fuel."

--Steve Wright (New Beginning 44)

20-Word Challenge 8

I WONDERED if the STATELY BOULEVARD BEHIND the IMPRESSIVE BUILDING led to some SECLUDED SUBURBS. INSTEAD it led to a WROUGHT-iron ENTRANCE THROUGH which a very cultured guard COULDN’T let any TRAFFIC pass. I was DETOURED to a full PARKING lot, next to which was ANOTHER NEIGHBORHOOD. I eschewed the paved WALKWAY for the fence and climbed. I finally found him in there, but before I could do justice to the DETAILS of my plot, the guards very politely escorted me away.

--_*Rachel*_(New Beginning 673)

20-Word Challenge 7

Evil Editor’s FAVORITE monologue, delivered at a RATTLING pace, was HALFWAY finished for the FIFTEENTH time, when a mysterious man in a PATCHED LEATHER jacket entered the room. The man FLIPPED open a PRECARIOUSLY BALANCED multi-COLORED box and announced in a HORRIBLE, KNOWING voice, “Your BIRTHDAY SANDWICH is here, Sir. We have been PREPARING it all day.” WITHOUT LOOKING away from his audience of Evil Minions, Evil Editor SETTLED two twenties, covered with traces of MARKERS, into the man’s CRADLED hands.

--Patricia (New Beginning 81)

20-Word Challenge 5

“Dahhhling!” A man with prominent side whiskers slipped his arm through hers. Oddly magnetic, she said, DESCRIBING him later.

“I was DEVASTATED when you CANCELED!” he said. “But here you are after all!”

“Ah yes, we’re TOGETHER again!” She smiled sweetly. He must have confused her with someone else. She’d never been in COLUMBUS before. Only a few moments EARLIER, she’d wandered into this OVERCROWDED conference room by ACCIDENT.

“The RELATIVES are just dying to meet the woman I MARRIED.”

“Wait.” She pulled away. “You think you’re my HUSBAND?”

“Play along,” he whispered. “It’s all been ARRANGED. Our FRIENDS are WAITING.”

They went SPEEDING through the room, GETTING strangers to buy them drinks, AVOIDING pathetic losers waving stacks of paper at them. She was a TOURIST, VACATIONING in a VILLAGE with too many idiots. Still, an amusing tale to tell. Perhaps there was a novel in it.

--mb (new beginning 458)

20-Word Challenge 2

He PROPPED his WELL-DRESSED elbow against the greasy subway window. There was something about the way the train jerked that made him hate STANDING among the MORNING COMMUTERS, all BALANCING their BREAKFAST of BANANAS and MINI-MUFFINS precariously in their arms. It made him LISTLESS to think how easily the over-cooked blueberries could be FLIPPED into the air and UNLOADED onto his Armani-clad SHOULDER. At any time, one of their ELECTRONIC devices could activate, and a MOUNTAIN of BANANAS would descend.

He SCRUTINIZED the obvious DISPLAY of carelessness of the other passengers, those low-life scoundrels, every one of them with a pile of unedited manuscripts sitting on their COUNTER at home, addressed to him. How they MANAGED to get his address right, he would never know.

Then, from behind him, came the undeniable sound of a RINGTONE. His suit would never be the same again.

--Taylor Taylor (New Beginning 131)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Face-Lift 686


Guess the Plot

The Trinity Saints

1. Mikey will do anything to make Trinity High School's varsity basketball team - even a little voodoo to ask the loa spirits for their blessing and aid. But as the season ramps up, Mikey finds the spirits increasingly hard to shake. The loa are determined to take Mikey all the way to a championship - whether he wants their help or not.

2. It should have been a dream job for one of Satan's minions: night warden in the eerie and oppressive library at Dublin's Trinity College. And it was--until the Trinity Saints popped up and started witnessing. All night long. Every night. Insanity ensues.

3. A superhero team consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost fight crime in Vatican City. Not a bad gig--until the villain known as the Antichrist sets up shop next to St. Peter's. Can our heroes take him down without causing Armageddon?

4. After eighteen years living with nuns, Hope is finally ready to follow her calling. She joins the Trinity Saints, and begins her training . . . as a ruthless assassin.

5. A boy, a girl and a manatee, living and loving together in Trinity Bay, Florida.

6. The Trinity University Saints haven't had a winning season since 1966. The new coach, Dante "The Inferno" Jones, plans on changing that with a training regimen that makes the seven levels of hell look like an amusement park. Angelo Nicks leads the players in a rebellion.


Original Version


Dear Evil Editor,

Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the faceless mask of a trained killer? [No, but only because I'm not sure I know what you mean by a faceless mask. I Googled it, but most of the images for faceless masks actually looked like faces. This one looks faceless, but he also looks like he would make a really bad trained killer.] What’s revealed when that mask of indifference is removed? Sometimes it’s an evil face of one whose humanity is lost forever and sometimes it’s the innocent face of one who has been betrayed in the worst way.

Hope O'Reilly is an example of a woman caught in a never-ending tangled web of lies, deceit and conspiracy tracing back to her birth. ["Never-ending" is not an adjective to be tossed around lightly. Especially in this case, as I suspect the web ends before the book does.] The only survivor of a viscous car accident [The car went into a skid when it hit a patch of honey.] that claimed the lives of her mother, father and twin sister, Hope is sent to the county orphanage to be raised by nuns. Eighteen years later, she's recruited into The Trinity Saints, a company that trains her to be not only cunning and ruthless, but also emotionless and lethal. For the next five years, she burrows a hole for herself [Not the clearest of metaphors--unless she's become a gopher.] in this new and exotic world; reveling in the excitement that seems to go hand in hand with the danger she faces on a daily basis.

When her current job gets botched by her resentful double and mysterious packages begin to arrive, plaguing her to the truth behind her family's demise, ["Plaguing" isn't the word you want.] Hope returns home to seek the answers she’s so desperate to find. When her bosses, The Trinity Saints, are less than forthcoming, she decides it's time to take a small vacation and only then does she begin to piece together the twenty-five year old puzzle that put her on the path to where she is today.

With the help of a gorgeous assassin next door, Hope uncovers a much deeper sense of humanity within herself [Because when you're seeking a deep sense of humanity, who better to turn to than an assassin?] and a more serious desire for retribution. Her quest for truth leads her to the one person she never suspected, [Of what?] the loving nun who raised her - her maternal grandmother. A woman whose [who's] been grooming Hope to one day take her place in the hierarchy of a secret organization who span the world over. Hope learns her mother was the only one to die in the accident that began the domino effect her life has been. [Consider trying our next bad analogy exercise.] [Is the 18 years between the accident and her recruitment one domino?] She has to decide if having family is worth the misery that seems to accompany them.

Growing up as a girl, surrounded by boys, I became a sassy tomboy with a quick tongue and an affinity for hunting, fishing and shooting. These have allowed me to create both an enjoyable and believable heroine involved in a roller coaster ride of danger, excitement and power. [If anything can prepare you to write about danger, excitement and power, it's trawlin' for catfish down at the ol' fishin' hole.] I’ve recently had a short story published on Celis T. Rono’s Collective Writer’s site.

The Trinity Saints is a 72,000 word chick lit thriller/mystery perfect for today’s woman who wants a witty, yet suspenseful tale of cat versus mouse; a tale where the mouse finally wins. [If you describe your book as cat versus mouse, it should be obvious who the cat and the mouse are. Who's the cat?] [Also, I can't recall a cat versus mouse tale in which the mouse didn't win.] May I send you my completed manuscript for your consideration?


Notes

Too many words, without saying what's important. Spell out the plot clearly. The Trinity Saints train assassins? Is Hope a hitman? Do the Saints just kill bad guys, or can anyone hire them? Why was Hope put in an orphanage but not her sister? Assuming her sister is her resentful double, what was she doing for eighteen years? Who's the cat? Grandma? Hope's father?

It appears there's a world-wide network of orphanages run by nuns, from which a group called The Trinity Saints recruits assassins or spies. From the early statement that the face beneath the mask is sometimes that of someone who's been betrayed, I assume the Saints aren't exactly saints. Instead of telling us Hope burrows a hole in her new world, give us some specifics on what she does.

The "Growing up a girl..." paragraph can go.

Cartoon 494

Caption: Voter/anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Beginning 694

His entrance at nine-thirty sharp—half an hour before closing—dashed my hopes of cutting short the miserable day.

There was only one other customer at Gustav’s Diner, a grandfatherly type on the last spoonfuls of his apple crisp. Another five minutes and he would have paid and left, the kitchen would be pronounced closed, and I would be free to go—escape— curl up in bed and pass the remaining hours in the oblivion of sleep.

But now the new arrival had ruined it all. I watched as he shook the rain off his umbrella and walked towards the corner table, dripping a trail of water in his wake that I would later have to mop up.

Suppressing a sigh, I trudged over and dropped a menu on his table, muttering a barely audible Welcome to Gustav’s underneath my breath. Even as I walked away I knew that my attitude was all wrong, that Gustav would surely be disappointed if he saw me. Gustav, who hadn’t fired me even though I broke three plates my first week on the job. Gustav, who apologized to customers and told them he was at fault whenever I messed up the bill. Gustav, whose generosity was nothing short of legendary. Gustav, who had saved countless souls from the concentration camps. Gustav, who used only olive oil in his deep fryer.

It took a full ten minutes, while I impatiently clattered pots and wiped down counters, for the newcomer to study the menu.

"What'll it be?" I asked him in a hurry-up voice.

"Coffee," he said. "A bowl of chowder. Two hamburgers. Pastrami on rye, sauerkraut on the side. BLT, no mayo. Two ball park dogs with Chili and one with relish. A meatball sub, extra cheese, easy on the sauce. A small green salad. And a slice of that apple crisp."

The old-timer in the corner cleared his throat. "Say... I know you... You're that Evil Editor, right?"

I recognized the name and couldn't hold back a grin. "Gustav! That guy you sent your novel to is here!"

A crash in the kitchen was accompanied by some Baltic swearing; we were going to close up early after all.



Opening: JP.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 493

Caption: Whirlochre

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Face-Lift 685


Guess the Plot

Moongate

1. A samurai warrior passes through the moongate portal to a futuristic world where he tries to convince a teen-aged girl that she is actually a dragon destined to save mankind from demons.

2. Stennick Bline, the last of the real gonzo journalists, makes a discovery that will rock the world: the moon really is just a cardboard cut-out. But will he live long enough to publish his story?

3. After spending $250 million to create an explosion on the moon, NASA proudly announces that they found nothing other than dust. Well, except for that gate to the secret kingdom of immortality...

4. The President issues a terse denial. The First Lady maintains an icy silence. The FBI finds no evidence of a crime. But the tongues of scandal grow louder. Then Fanny Needler, lonely top-secret analyst, discovers satellite images of buns pressing a Lincoln Bedroom windowpane - and a tattoo she recognizes all too well.

5. Little Timmy forgot to close the moongate, and now the moon is on a collision course with the Earth, all life will soon be destroyed, and Timmy's mom says he's in big trouble when his dad gets home.

6. For years Clive has been telling people about the government's Moon landing conspiracy. Now Clive is dead, and one by one his fellow believers are being slain. Can Detective Carol Hanson find the killer, or will she, too, be eclipsed?


Original Version


Dear [AGENT],

Moongate is a 111,000-world tale [Most fantasy readers can handle two--or even three--worlds, but you've gone way overboard.] full of twists, vengeance, heartache and humor. A thousand years after the apocalypse where the demonic Youkai overthrew mankind, only a few beacons of civilization remain, and Japan is isolated from the rest of the world. A lone samurai crosses the boundary between worlds, [Specifically, between worlds #72,343 and #72,344.] hunting the dragon prophesied to save his beloved Citadel. He is Susanouo, named for a god of war, and he carries with him the sword Kusanagi, the cursed blade which once wiped dragons from the face of the earth. [If the dragon is supposed to save his beloved Citadel, maybe he should hunt it with something less lethal than Kusanagi.]

In a modern world [#106,982] he finds Rei: a dragon, who wears the form of a tactless seventeen-year-old girl and has no idea what she is. It has been foretold that if she saves his city he will die at her hands. Against all odds these two must journey back to the Citadel and convince its ruthless prince to ignite open war with demonkind, [Before that, against all odds, Suze has to convince Rei that she's actually a dragon and that she should accompany him to a land that has no mall.] before the Youkai launch an invasion of their own. [If the Youkai overthrew mankind 1000 years ago and they've been ignoring the Citadel ever since, then what makes Susanouo think they're suddenly gonna launch an invasion? If they cared about the Citadel, they could have destroyed it centuries ago. Did they just recently happen upon Japan?]

Moongate is told from the alternating viewpoints of both its main characters—the grim samurai swordsman and the smart-mouthed girl from the futuristic world. And Susanouo isn't your typical swashbuckling hero. He hides the secret that he's actually a demon who has thrown in his lot with the doomed human race. His quest isn't just the noble cause of saving humanity; it's about getting revenge. And Rei's not your typical mature, attractive girl who's been sucked into a fantasy world. She's blunt and obnoxious, proud and cynical. [She sounds pretty typical to me.] But ultimately she becomes Susanouo's conscience, forcing him to question the ruthless choices he makes.

Moongate would be marketable to high fantasy and urban fantasy readers alike. The novel is similar to fantasy series such as Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy or Naomi Novik's Temeraire Trilogy. In the ordinary-girl-meets-magical-being sense, [If she's actually a dragon, I'd hardly call her an ordinary girl.] it’s similar to the Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series, or to young adult urban fantasy such as Twilight or A Great and Terrible Beauty. [Tossing out the names of wildly popular novels that don't bear even the slightest resemblance to yours is unlikely to pay off.] The book is also colored with Japanese folklore, and would appeal to manga (Japanese graphic novel) readers. [First you assume I've read these Farseer and Temeraire trilogies, then you assume I don't know what manga is.] [I recommend that if you're querying an agent who insists that you compare your book to published fiction, you choose only one book for comparison.]

The second book, War God, is already in progress, and the third is outlined. I would be happy to send a copy of the manuscript for review; feel free to contact me anytime.

Regards,


Side note to EE: The title refers to the portal Susanouo uses to travel between worlds. He has named it that because he believes the unique power to world-jump was given to him by the moon god, Tsukiyomi.


Notes

If you have a 17-year-old main character and you compare your book to young adult books, we'll wonder why you haven't described your book as young adult.

It seems to me that if Susanouo goes to the future and finds that it isn't ruled by demons, and that mankind is getting along just fine even though he hasn't brought the dragon back yet, that he would figure the prophecy was bull and cancel his mission. Or at least head over to his beloved Citadel to see if it has survived.

Susanouo's quest for revenge seems to be the main motivating factor. Perhaps we should know what's behind it.

If Susanouo is actually a demon, the Citadel isn't actually his "beloved Citadel." Why would a demon care about saving the Citadel? Why can't he seek his revenge without getting the dragon and saving the Citadel?

This seems to take place on Earth, but I'm not clear on the time line. There's the apocalyptic event, then 1000 years later Susanouo sets out on his mission which takes him to a futuristic world. How futuristic? Is it our present time, in which case mankind was overthrown more than a millennium ago? Or is the apocalyptic event in our future, so that the entire book is set in the future?

It wouldn't be easy to convince a modern girl that she's a dragon. What evidence does Susanouo provide? Is he disguised as a samurai when he appears to Rei, or does he change into something more appropriate to her world?

Does the prophecy say that a samurai will die at the hands of the dragon that saves the Citadel? Or does it say that a demon disguised as a samurai will die?

Cartoon 492

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Beginning 693

Claire had not ventured onto the balcony since Tom died. Heights scared her, and fear could trigger a panic attack. What would happen if the panic struck when she was out there? When she was standing near the edge? Nothing, she told herself, absolutely nothing. You’ve taken a pill. You’ll be fine. She shut the door behind her and shuffled forward, taking comfort from the roughness of cement beneath her bare feet. Almost there, she reached out to grab the railing and paused.

The pause was a mistake. Her concentration wavered, and she saw herself standing on a narrow ledge stuck to the side of a building seventeen stories above the pavement. Her grip became rigid and white-knuckle tight.

Even more than falling, she feared its allure. Another step and she would be at the edge. Would she be impelled to keep going, to press her hips against the rail and lean further and further forward until her feet left the floor and she tumbled into oblivion? Don’t look down. Think about something else.

What a mess this was. Housework. Yes, mindless cleaning--that would take her mind off everything.

Claire turned and stepped back over Tom's bloodied, lifeless body and headed to the kitchen to get a mop.


Opening: Pat Dusenbury.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 491

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Face-Lift 684

Guess the Plot

The Light of Epertase

1. Long- suffering orphan Junie Jinx finally escapes the evil witch, only to be lost in the haunted forest. If only she could get back to Cincinnati and eat a pizza! The only nourishment she can find is that tankard of glowing elixir guarded by the monstrous hound.

2. On the dying continent of Hexinus lies the tower of Epertase--a mystical stronghold of such power that those who look upon its light turn instantly blind. Falian Quincy was born on that tower, and is destined to one day return and claim its deepest treasure. But will he be able to see it?

3. After seeking the Holy Grail of glue solvents for thirty years, Duncan finds it in a jar of Mother's homemade canned beans. But is it too toxic and combustible to be refined? The guys at the lab think so, but Duncan's going to prove them wrong. Or die trying.

4. It's backstabbing boardroom shenanigans and steamy bedroom antics all the way, when ruthless business executive Mandy Harrington stops at nothing to market Epertase, her new miracle formula for candle wax.

5. An invading army has just annihilated a neighboring kingdom, and Epertase is doomed to fall next. Power-mad King Elijah is wondering how long the invaders will let him live when the princess tells him that a magical light within her soul has determined that she should take over the throne. Quickly a vacation in another hemisphere is added to Elijah's calendar.

6. The Epertase Salon caters to all sorts. Ignatius Proud is determined to make it the fairy godmother in his own Cinderella story, but first he needs a pumpkin, rats, and money.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I am seeking representation for my 93,000-word epic fantasy novel, “The Light of Epertase.”

King Elijah of Epertase would kill his own daughter to stay in power. Rasi, a brilliant warrior, would kill an entire army to save her.

After Rasi was banished for a murder the king committed, [Banished? Historically, power-hungry kings have been within their rights to commit murder and kidnapping, and didn't need to frame someone else. Why didn't Elijah just have Rasi executed on trumped-up treason charges?] he swore nothing could bring him back to Epertase. But that was before a chance encounter with Elijah’s daughter, Princess Ripley, [believe it or not] during a hunting expedition. He never expected to fall in love.


Now a technologically-superior army [The Borg] is poised to invade from the western sea. Elijah prepares for war. When the invaders annihilate Epertase’s closest neighbor in less than a day, [Elijah orders all able-bodied subjects to start manufacturing white flags.] it becomes obvious Elijah’s plans are doomed. That’s when a powerful and magical light inside of Ripley’s soul [bursts out through her chest.] determines that the kingdom’s only hope is for her to take over the throne. Elijah refuses to accept the inevitable


and has her kidnapped. He frames Rasi for the crime. [Again? He seems to frame Rasi for everything. "Frame Rasi" is his version of "Round up the usual suspects."] While on the run, Rasi vows to find his true love and lead her people to victory. If he fails, she will die, he will hang, and Epertase will fall. [What are the Borg doing while Rasi is searching for Ripley? My guess is Epertase will be annihilated long before he finds her.]

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. [If I have any questions, you haven't done your job.] Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

Just how long did this chance encounter on a hunting trip last? Rasi would kill an entire army to save a woman he ran into once?

Does Rasi know his true love is the princess? Because usually when the king has framed you for murder and banished you, he's not going to consent to your marrying his daughter.

You'd think a princess would have plenty of guards around her who wouldn't let a hunting party get so close to her that one of them falls in love with her.

Elijah, Rasi and Ripley don't strike me as names that would all be in use in the same place and time.

More about Rasi and the princess. Does she have any interest in him? Does she have magical powers that could lead to victory over the Borg? What does the king have against Rasi in the first place?