Saturday, February 27, 2010

The 2nd Annual Evie Awards


Last Year the Evies was broadcast at the same time as the Oscars, leading to many complaints, not only from people who wanted to watch both productions, but also from Hollywood stars who were nominated for Oscars and thus couldn't be at home in front of their computers (though word on the street is that most of those at the Academy Awards were keeping up with the Evies on their i-phones). So this year I scheduled the Evies before the Oscars. Happy now, Sandra, Meryl, Angelina?

I wish I could put all the winners into one film as I did last year, but several of this year's winners were produced on a computer that has been retired. So . . . the Evies go to:


Best Best Boy
Stephen Spielberg, Reunion
(1st film of the double feature)
video


Best Musical Accompaniment
Kevin MacLeod, The Wisdom of Solomon
(1st film of the double feature)
video


Best Screenplay
Whirlochre, Taxi Driver
video


Best Actress
Angelina Jolie, Beef Addict
(2nd film of the double feature)
video


Best Actor
Evil Editor, The Phone Call
video


Best Picture
The Art Gallery
(1st film of the double feature)
video

Friday, February 26, 2010

WTF?

It appears the first two to three weeks of every month has disappeared from my blog archives. I can still access those posts by searching for, say, Face-lift 602. So they exist. So my question is, is the problem just with my computer, and you guys can click on February, 2008 and see the entire month? Is this happening to anyone else's blog archives?

New Beginning 731

Twas the Night Before Christmas…
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse. . .

Obviously, the author who penned this poem never made it to my house tonight because the noise was deafening, and the creatures causing the ruckus were a lot smaller than a mouse.

Oh, the brouhaha didn’t start out that way. First, it was a single flash of light as a faerie flew into my room, and then another flash joined the first. Once you get two faeries together, whispers started.

You would think creatures as tiny as faeries would be quiet, but once a group of faeries gathered, it soon developed into a gaggle. And the gaggle became a swarm—a swarm of dive-bombing, chittering, light-flashing little heathens, similar to prehistoric mosquitoes.

I pretended to sleep, but cracked one eye to see what was the matter.

My bedroom had turned into a Clark Griswold Christmas with about a bazillion lights flitting around my twelve-by-twelve space. Normally, I liked my cozy hole, but when you add a gazillion faeries—a few more arrived since my previous thought—well, it became a mite crowded. Faeries zipped and zoomed, hovered and floated, and played mid-air poker.

It was quite pretty . . . until the collision.

"The collision, you say."

"That's right. The, uh, collision."

"You see, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, not only does the accused show no remorse, no sense that she has done anything remotely wrong, she refers to the events of that night, the carnage, as merely a collision.

"Your Honor, the prosecution would like to introduce Exhibit 2, the weapon commonly referred to as the Fly Swatter."

The defendant closed her eyes as an audible gasp ran through the Seelie court.


Opening: Magolla.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 587

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Beginning 730

Rune stepped over a limestone-laden stream of cold water running across the floor of the cavern. Above him, bat-like creatures twitched and squeaked. He pointed his flashlight at the ceiling thirty feet overhead and fluffed the back of Steve's hair, laughing. Steve hunched over, pulling the hood over his head and neck to prevent any guano from getting on his body.

"Think of each all those flying critters up there like raptors wanting to land ammoniated poo on your head. Don't you just love it?" Rune squeaked, flapped his hands.

"Whoever said caves are for contemplation was a fool," Steve said. Charlene pushed Rune onto a stalagmite.

"I don't know why the settlers are fascinated these dung heaps. There's nothing special about caves on this world." She attached a Vid-Cam and light to the wall and aimed it at Rune. "Any clown who can scratch his name into the wall thinks they'll be famous. The Twelve Cities ought to be ashamed to let shit like this be posted," Charlene ranted. Both men shrugged their best I don't care if I left the toilet seat up, who cares attitude.

Charlene gave Rune another playful shove onto the stalagmite, this time impaling him.

Two million bats, perhaps offended by the blood now polluting their Stream of Cold Running Water, took turns depositing guano on Rune as he slowly bled to death.

Charlene recorded the event. "Now that is how you become famous," she said.


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

Cartoon 586

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Queries and Openings Needed


We're down to one opening (no continuations received so far) and zero queries. Isn't it about time you sent something in?

Face-Lift 734


Guess the Plot

Where the Doves Fly

1. In the sky.

2. Johann Nowitski is an airport ramp attendant, charged with cleaning the dove entrails out of the engines. When he finds a human finger amidst the carnage, it seems murder is afoot.

3. "Go where the doves fly," was the last thing Raymond said before leaving to liberate France from Hitler. Every day Sarah waits patiently by the fountain. Will he ever return? Will she recognize him? And what did he mean about the doves?

4. 1980. Anna Sokolowska's career creating anti-communist paintings (you know, like doves flying into the air) is going nowhere in communist-controlled Poland. So she escapes in search of an art gallery that will show her work. Unfortunately, she escapes to East Berlin. Apparently commies and artistic genius don't mix anywhere.

5. The Doves: a family of four who hang glide off of Mt. Riaze. When the volcano unexpectedly erupts, Mr. Dove watches his family fly from his hydroponic squash farm that had been built on the north face, which now lies in lava ashed ruins. Can he find the other three members of his family before the next bilateral moon triangulation?

6. 2098. United Nations President, Apartheid Vance, has a problem. Expecting the whole world to be at peace for the first time since stun guns were legalized, a massive celebration is planned for the upcoming millennium. However, Apartheid cannot keep a single dove alive in captivity. Is the problem zoological or an omen?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When 17-year-old artist Anna Sokolowska learns the Communist regime in Poland may implement martial law, she chooses to escape to East Berlin—unwilling to let the government stifle her artistic voice, eager to use her anti-Communist paintings as a tool for change. [Shouldn't she escape to somewhere that doesn't have a communist regime? Where's she heading next, Cuba?]

The one thing that she fails to consider before leaving is that her abused mother and young brother need her more than she thinks they do.

Over the following twelve months Anna struggles against governmental corruption that has spread beyond Polish borders as she searches for an art gallery in which to showcase her set of genius anti-Communist-themed paintings. [Genius in whose opinion?] In the end, Anna must decide how she wishes to balance the harsh reality of poverty in the 1980’s with a passion for art, the Polish Solidarity movement, and her family.

WHERE THE DOVES FLY is a literary YA at approximately 76,000 words.

My articles and short stories have been featured in New Moon, Teen Ink, Alive, multiple e-zines, and two Creative Communications anthologies. Last year I received a YoungArts 2010 Merit Award (top 5%) and interned with [editor; redacted], and now I intern with [agent; redacted]. [Have you taken advantage of your connections?] In addition to writing and interning, I am a full-time student.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Is she in contact with her family? What's happening with them? If we know that, we'll have a better understanding of her dilemma.

Was she under the impression that only Poland's government would be bothered by her anti-communist art?

Instead of concluding by telling us what Anna must decide, tell us what she decides. Perhaps she realizes that while the communist machine is too powerful to take on, she can do her own small part by starting an underground art movement. Or whatever. Give us a sense of where the story goes.

Cartoon 585

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Face-Lift 733


Guess the Plot

Morgantown

1. Chased by a werewolf named Simon, Rachel, a werewolf, ends up in Morgantown where she joins a local pack of werewolves and begins to wonder if it's really that bad to be a werewolf when pretty much everyone is a werewolf.

2. Movie producer Barry Steinman's career is at an all time low. Soaked in gin, suicide note in his suit pocket, Barry puts the noose around his neck. After he awakens in the afterlife and bargains with the devil, Barry's soulless shell goes on to make hit after hit starring Morgan Freeman.

3. Charlie Burrows is sent by his newspaper to a small town out in the sticks to follow up on reports of the menfolk disappearing. When he arrives, he is horrified to find that every one of the women is Morgan Fairchild. Can he get to the bottom of this before the town's vamps suck him dry?

4. Big Daddy Morgan is dying and needs an heir--a puppet whose strings he can pull from the other side. His own kids are useless. He needs fresh blood to put his plan in place, and he finds it in a sad little waif who can be easily molded into Morgantown's next king.

5. Zalinda was kicked as a child by a mugger named Morgan. The resulting concussion tricked her into believing a Morgan horse was responsible because she was reading Black Beauty at the time of her mugging. Just another day on the streets of . . . Morgantown.

6. 1872. Morgantown is home to rising coal magnate Elliot Spinner. His arch rival, "Boss" Hardley, is also in the coal business. Between them is Pansy McBride, the red-haired, strong-willed daughter of a Georgia planter. Can Elliot get control of the Morgantown mines while winning the heart of the fiery Pansy?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Rachel was going to graduate from a good college, settle down with her boyfriend, Michael, and live in Northern California, the only place that ever felt like home.

But three days after she's kidnapped by Simon, a werewolf with a grudge against her family, Rachel finds that things rarely go as planned. [It takes her three days to realize things aren't going as planned? I don't care what my Plan A is, the moment I get kidnapped by a werewolf, I'm aware that Plan B is now in effect.] Now she's a werewolf too, changed by Simon for his own purposes, and Michael is dead.

Rachel escapes and runs as far from Simon as she can get; Morgantown, West Virginia. When the leader of the local pack of werewolves shows up in her hotel room, [Do werewolves really use hotel rooms?

I'd like a room for the night.
Errr . . . yes, and may I point out that our day spa specializes in laser hair removal.

Room service, may I help you?
Yes, could you send up a maid?
I think you want housekeeping.
No, I want dinner.]

she reluctantly takes up his offer to join his pack in exchange for safety. [Is there anyone in this book who isn't a werewolf?]

Getting friendly with werewolves is the last thing Rachel wants to do, but [everyone she meets turns out to be a werewolf. Plus,] with Simon on the hunt, she doesn't have much of a choice. She begins to learn to defend herself, and come to terms with what has happened. The pack leader tries to show her that though she has been treated like one, Rachel is not an animal. It's an idea that Rachel has trouble grasping, because [the two of them are dining on a bellman at the time, and also because] the truth is that Michael didn't just die. He was murdered. By Rachel.

Morgantown is a completed 98,000-word urban fantasy young adult novel. Though it can stand alone, I have begun a sequel [in which Rachel sees a psychiatrist who's a werewolf and tears his throat out right after he tells her she's really a good person], and have planned out two to three more books in the series. This is my first novel.

Thanks so much for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!


Notes

Does Rachel run from California to West Virginia? That's a lot of running.

What's so special about Rachel that Simon chases her to West Virginia after she escapes? Wouldn't it be easier for Simon to just turn someone else into a werewolf? Can't he take his revenge on her family without her help? It would help if we knew what he wants her to do.

Why is Morgantown, West Virginia the farthest from Simon that Rachel can get? Assuming Simon is in North America, there have to be places farther from him than Morgantown.

Cartoon 584


Caption: John

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Olympics Photo Caption Contest Winners

1.

Caption: Anon.


2.

Caption: Anon.


3.

Caption: Evil Editor

4.

Caption: Steve Wright

Cartoon 583

Caption Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Face-Lift 732


Guess the Plot

Embero: The Last Dragon

1. The last dragon embryo on earth is about to be used in a stem-cell research experiment. Can Pat Robertson save it, or will the godless heathens of the Democratic party win the day?

2. Nadine reluctantly accepts the task of protecting the Last Dragon from the bloodthirsty armies of the kingdom of Embero. But as Nadine gets better acquainted with the dragon, she falls in love with him and dreams of a future together--if they can survive that long.

3. Embero's sad, lonely fate as the world's last remaining dragon seems inevitable until he meets talent scout Babs Truffaut Kantrowitz. She promises to book him in Vegas...but first, that pathetic name has to go. How about Conflagratio? Or Inferno? Something with a little more spark. Come on, work with me, people!

4. Embero witnesses the murder of his parents by Vincezne, a Dragonslayer from the south of France. Raised by a blind poet who believes he is a large dog with a knack for making campfires, Embero's sole goal is to see Vincezne burn in hell. Literally.

5. Harley Morgan is a small-time pot dealer with even smaller aspirations. Then he inherits Embero, a failing Chinese restaurant. Between the disgruntled employees, suspicious police, and his freegan girlfriend accusing him of selling out to The Man, Harley finds a surprising chance to become the man he didn't know he wanted to be.

6. Embero has a gimpy wing, a lazy eye, and scales that look more like a skin disease. He's the last dragon anybody would consider fierce. But when a blind girl begs him to come save her village from evil occupying soldiers, how can he refuse?



Original Version

Dear [Agent Name],

When the all-powerful King Joseph of Embero informs Nadine, a headstrong seventeen-year-old girl, that she must marry the ruthless prince to satisfy the queen’s dying wish, she decides to flee.

Tool of prophecy, armed with the Divine Art of controlling water, Nadine is summoned by the White Witch Evangeline. Nadine reluctantly accepts the task of protecting the Rebellion’s greatest treasure, the Last Dragon, against the bloodthirsty armies of Embero. [A 17-year-old girl is supposed to thwart bloodthirsty armies?

Rebel scout: Bloodthirsty armies are heading our way. Shall I call the men to arms?

Rebel leader: No, let's just send out Nadine.

What is this water controlling power? Can she cause tsunamis and hurricanes?]
Aided by an aspiring soldier and his sister, Nadine begins her perilous journey across the world of Earthea to join the Rebellion. [I seems like it would be hard to run a decent rebellion from the other side of the world.]

As Nadine gets better acquainted with the dragon, she discovers that he has a human soul and falls in love with him. [How does she determine this? Is it a talking dragon?] She dreams of a future with the man behind the beast--if they can survive that long.

Nadine’s love for the dragon is rivaled in intensity only by King Joseph’s fear of death. He burns a path across the world of men to obtain the dragon’s golden vein--a filament in the dragon’s heart--that has the power to grant its consumer immortality.

Directed by his father, Prince Kellan is given the singular task of capturing the girl and the dragon she loves. But the prince has secrets and aspirations of his own: by day he may be his father’s right hand man, but by night he accompanies Nadine in the form of the Last Dragon.

EMBERO: THE LAST DRAGON, a YA fantasy novel is complete at 100,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


Notes

Why is it that Last Dragon is capitalized but dragon isn't? In fact, why are Divine Art and White Witch and Rebellion capitalized?

Nadine takes a journey across the world after fleeing the king. The king has to burn a path across the world of men to get to Nadine. In between these trips, how is the prince able to be with Nadine when he's a dragon and with the king when he isn't? Where does Nadine think the dragon is all day long when she's supposed to be protecting him?

Unless you tell us how it comes in handy, we don't need to know Nadine controls water.

Why, since they don't use the dragon's golden vein for immortality, does the rebellion consider the dragon their greatest treasure?

Why is Embero part of the title?

Earthea?

Cartoon 582

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Face-Lift 731


Guess the Plot

After the Apocalypse

1. It's dark, it smells bad, and it's impossible to get a decent cup of coffee.

2. Having successfully wiped out most of humankind, the devils throw the best party of all time, themed “After the Apocalypse”. Party favors? Charred human remains. Then the last human survivors, riding elephants a la Alexander the Great, crash the party with disastrous precision. Can Moorpunchspikeeg save her party and her devilmates?

3. For centuries the tribes have been dying out, partly because they continue sending their best warriors into battle against killer robots on behalf of purple-haired people that don't even know the tribes exist. It's kind of like if a pocket of French soldiers were still fighting the Napoleonic wars. Against robots.

4. The world should have ended in zombies, kudzu, and cockroaches. Then came Harry Swatski's dreidelmeister6000 -- the 'it' item for Christmas. Now 99.9999% of the population is under the age of seven, fruit-flavored rain and marshmallow men dominate the streets, and Harry just found the last chocolate AK-47.

5. The TV show "After the Apocalypse" pairs clumsy, earnest, Hollywood has-been Axl Hudson with brusque Cherokee poet-turned-survivalist Dana “Singing Blackbird” Davis, and drops them in the middle of nowhere with a camcorder and a Bowie knife. Adventure (and maybe romance) will ensue! Well, that was the plan, anyway...

6. Rictor Steinwick is insane. The last returning MIA from Vietnam, he has been forced to listen the lyrics of the 1976 song “After The Lovin'” by Engelbert Humperdinck, every day all day long. Now, returning to his post at NORAD Rictor has the power to end the world as we know it. But what will he do . . . after the apocalypse?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Abandoning someone injured is a death sentence under tribe law, but Naranja still almost doesn't help a plane crash survivor. The injured girl has unnatural purple hair, enough evidence to condemn her as a country person. That's more than enough reason for Naranja Verde, leader of Fourth Tribe, to abandon her, death penalty be damned. Though the countries haven't interfered in tribe affairs for two hundred years, the hungry summers, cold winters, and deaths caused by their 'help' live on in tribe memory. Besides, [Besides what?] the Challenge is soon: an annual event where the oldest and strongest tribe members fight metal monsters for their right to exist- and the right of the country they represent, by proxy. It's the reason war ended. The last thing they need is complications. [If the tribes hate country people, and the countries haven't been interfering with tribes for 200 years, I don't see why tribe members represent countries in these fights with metal monsters. What's in it for them?]

But complications are all they get when the country girl's bones are set and they learn the countries have forgotten the tribes exist. [If the tribes believed that the Challenge results determined whether the countries they represented had the right to exist, didn't it occur to them that the countries would at least send some observers to the Challenge?] When Naranja's tribe sends the girl back to her country, she carries with her the news of five tribes, at least one made up entirely of children living in caves. Worse, [Worse than what?] due to an ancient system and high death rates, tribes don't have kids naturally; the tribes are formed from kidnapped babies, some of them royalty with colorful tattoos. Like Naranja's green 'birthmark.'

This year, Fourth Tribe has to deal with more than the usual wood shortages and wild animals as the countries decide the tribes need to come home. Naranja's only sixteen, and right now she's sure any of the dead- from the former Naranja Prendo to her closest friend Listo- could do better than her. [If the dead can do better at something than you can, you need to find a new trade.] But as she struggles with bears, countries, and the ever-present complaints of her tribe, she is determined only that no more will die.

After the Apocalypse is a complete 70,000 word YA novel. It should appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and The Other Side of the Island. May I send the complete manuscript?

Sincerely,


Notes

If the countries don't know the tribes exist, who is providing the metal monsters? Does each tribe build a battle-bot for the Challenge? Wouldn't it be more fair and more humane if the metal monsters fought each other instead of the oldest tribe members?

~~~


Okay, I'm back. I just spent three hours on YouTube watching Battlebots and Robot Wars videos.

This information isn't well-organized, but as it's mostly setup, it's better to condense it into a three-sentence paragraph than to rework the whole thing. Then, once you've set up the situation, you'll have plenty of room for the plot. The situation appears to be that for 200 years the tribes have been sending their best warriors into battle against killer robots on behalf of the countries. Then they discover the countries know nothing about this.

The plot involves Naranja's goal. Is it to end the Challenge? Is it to maintain the tribal existence rather than returning to the countries? How does she go about achieving her goal, who/what's she up against, what's at stake, what's her plan? The tattoo would make a good finish for the plot summary.

I'm not crazy about referring to the countries as "the countries." Are they actual countries? Do they have names? Do the tribes live inside the countries?

Cartoon 581

Caption: Blogless_Troll

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Beginning 729

Six weeks earlier, a doctor had given me less than two months to live. It wasn’t a formal diagnosis, as such -- more of a threat. His wife was beside me at the time, and neither of us had expected him home so early.

I'm the type to sleep right through the alarm, dead to the world, but there's something about the cool, dry click of a hammer being pulled back that cuts right through the sweetest of dreams and it had me instantly awake. It was still dark. I could smell cigar smoke and whisky -- a good brand. I could hear breathing, shallow, much faster than it should be -- that was me.

“I don’t usually make house calls,” he said. “But for you, a special exception. Why don’t you turn on the light?”

I did as I was told. I did it slowly. I’m no fool.

“I pride myself on an accurate prognosis,” the doctor told me, while I watched the maw of his revolver.

“No chance of a second opinion, I suppose?”

He shook his head. The gun didn’t waver. He must have been an excellent surgeon: he had a very steady hand.

“However,” he continued, “I believe your condition may not be completely incurable. I have a proposal for you.”

The good doctor reached down and pulled a bag from the floor. Never taking his eyes off me -- good decision -- he emptied the contents onto my belly, temporarily winding me. It was several hundred pages of closely typed text. "This is the proposal," he said.

I leaned forward and looked at the first page: Short Title: America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

"Shit." I said as my heart sank. "Okay, okay. Just shoot me now."


Opening: Anon......Continuation: Iago

Cartoon 580

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Face-Lift 730


Guess the Plot

The Minion and the Mistress

1. Miss Snark. Dave. Mrs. V. Khazar. Buffysquirrel. Anon. 150. Their lives, loves and personal perversions are all laid bare in Evil Editor's memoirs.

2. Fearing that the girl he wants as a mistress will run away, the demon king assigns one of his minions--a giant troll--to guard her. But he didn't count on the girl falling in love with the troll! Will she bash the troll's head in and flee, or will she stick around for true love?

3. When chef and part-time dominatrix Lizzie Whippersnap concocts an army of mutant broccoli monsters, she decides to fulfill her life-long dream of taking over the Food Network. But true love strikes when she finds one of her creations, Dirk Carrot, appealing. Is there room in this veggie-phobic world for romance between a mistress and her orange-tinted minion?

4. Evil Wizard Golgorlemoy has turned his minion into an onion and his mistress into a waitress. At dinner, the waitress will serve onions to the king and queen causing them to inadvertently break their vegetarian vows. When the kingdom finds out that their royalty are cannibals, the wizard and the mistress can become emperor and empress.

5. A Terrrible Misunderstanding (TM) causes the Chief of Minions (CoM) to elope with the Evil Overlord's Mistress (EOM). They hate each other, but in order to save the Evil Overlord (EO), the two must stop fighting long enough to destroy the invading Good Guy Army (GGA).

6. Taurg, captain of a Charruvian starship, has gone too far, throwing his simpering thrall, Trach'n in the brig for sleeping with Taurg's human mistress--and unless the mistress can help the minion escape and lead a mutiny, Taurg will take out his frustrations on the nearest planet . . . Earth.


Original Version

Dear Famous ePublisher,

I am seeking a publisher for The Minion and the Mistress, a fun and fast-paced story of heroic trolls, supernatural mobsters and an unlikely true love. The Minion and the Mistress is a romance with fantasy elements complete at 25,000 words.

Since her earliest childhood, when she was kidnapped by fairies, Annith has lived under the protection of the Demon King. A small-time crime lord who rules a small pocket of fae-folk hiding in the mortal realm, the King’s always treated Annith as his beloved daughter. Now, though, she’s grown up, rounded out, and the Demon King’s acquired some hungry eyes— and wandering hands. [Hey, he's only human.] As his advances turn forceful, Annith becomes increasingly frantic to escape the only home she’s ever known. [I can't tell if the Demon King has forced himself on her, or if she wants to escape before he does. It seems unlikely she managed to thwart a demon's forceful advances.]

The King, fearing she’ll escape him, assigns a massive troll, Ruuk, to be her “bodyguard.” Annith is ready to bash Ruuk’s head in if it will get her away from the King, but as she gets to know the soft-spoken troll, she finds he’s kind and funny— sweet even. [A troll? Gotta be Stockholm Syndrome.] The seven-foot lug might even be in over his head. He seems to be losing himself bit by bit with every job he works for the King, and she’s worried about what’ll be left of him if he keeps this up.

But when it comes down to achieving her freedom or saving the troll she’s increasingly come to care for, Annith has to decide if she really will do anything (and sacrifice anyone) to get herself away from the Demon King. [That sentence pretty much says the same thing twice.]

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,


Notes

When a book has demons, trolls, fairies, supernatural mobsters, fae people, etc., I'd call it a fantasy with romantic elements rather than a romance with fantasy elements.

This is awfully short. As e-publishers don't have to worry about the spine being so thin you can't read the title, maybe that's not a problem, but I wouldn't assume this is long enough to attract a publisher that doesn't specifically say 25,000 words is in the range they're seeking.

Has Annith considered suggesting to Ruuk that he escape with her? Or that he lead a coup against the demon king? She seems to have concluded without much thought that there are only two choices.

"Demon King" and "small-time crime lord" don't seem like two names that would be applied to the same being. How powerful is the demon king? If he were attacked by a seven-foot troll, who would win?

Cartoon 579


Caption: John

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Beginning 728

Today is Tart day. I pull the sheet over my head in my pathetic attempt to ward off the hot Bangkok morning streaming through the window and the reality of this day banging into my brain. I don’t want to teach the Tarts. I curl in tighter, the fetal position is helping me gird myself for the experience of being in the same room with the Tarts for fifty-five minutes, assuming they show. Cruel and unusual punishment comes in many forms and this is an excruciating torturous piece of suffering I can not avoid. The Tarts are a group of female senior students who have somehow managed to stay in school, haven’t maimed anyone to my knowledge but that could change because each class they are getting more aggressive with each other and their classmates.

Last lesson I had with them, they all sat with their backs to me, flipping through magazines and text messaging each other while I tried to get the simple present tense out of the rest of the class. That was after the Queen of Tarts jumped to her feet and screamed she had to piss as she ground her hands into her groin. Her hench ladies followed suit. I ground my teeth while they ground their, well, you know.

Knowing that I shouldn't expect the Queen's crew back anytime soon, I turn my attention to the rest of my class, the Tarts in Waiting. I don't much want to teach them either, I swallow a couple of pills I got from yesterday's Druggies class. They taste not unlike the chalk I hold in my other hand.

With a shrug, I turn to the board. "Okay, who can tell me what is wrong with this sentence," I say as I scribble, Only ten dollar, me love you long time, sailor.



Opening: Bibi.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 578

Caption: Steve Wright

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Date Photo Caption Contest Winners

Below are the winning captions. Click on the photos for a larger view.

1.

Caption: Whirlochre

2.

Caption: Anonymous


3.

Caption: Marissa Doyle

4.

Caption: Whirlochre

Friday, February 12, 2010

Face-Lift 730


Guess the Plot

Bouncing Apostrophe

1. ’ , ’ , ’ , ’,’,’,’,,,,

2. Its a Wo'nderful Life meets ... I mean Its a Wonderful Li'fe meets ... Sorry, meant to say Its a W'onderfu'l L'ife Me'ets ... Goddammit, stop that!!!

3. It's a happy 'story about a punctuation mark that u'sed to be unhappy with it's lot in life. But now it bounce's about all over the place, announcing to everyone, "Here come's an S!"

4. A FORMER TELEGRAPH OPERATOR WORKS SECURITY IN A SCOTTISH POETS APOSTROPHE BAR WHERE THE MORSE CODE HE HEARS IN THE FLAMENCO DANCER APOSTROPHE S STEPS MAKES HIM ARGUE PUNCTUATION WITH THE CLIENTELE STOP ALSO COMMA A GRAMMAR NERD APOSTROPHE S LOVE TRIANGLE STOP

5. Apostrophe is a nine-year-old girl with super-springy knees that send her high in the sky whenever she jumps. When she bounces all the way across the ocean from London to Michigan, she must find a way to get herself and her dog, Dash, back home to her parents. Also, twenty mustachioed snowmobilers.

6. Ellen is a copy editor at Hot!, the magazine for young fashionistas. When the gloriously goth Allen comes aboard as layout artist, she finds herself in love. Unfortunately, so does Allen--with Dmitri, the caterer. Hilarity ensues.

7. Jasper havin’ ritten da firs’ fo’ leng’ literature novel brakes all da rulz, of splellin,’ n’ grammer: teachs the bes’ shizzle in a a p'aranormal-romance-tell-all-historiacl-fiction-thriller starin’ an gay werewolves meets pirate on way to show da worl’ rulz don’ mack a fine book it confuses da reel massage.



Original Version

Apostrophe is a girl with a problem. [Is it her name?] No, it’s not her name. She has super-springy knees. If she gets overexcited and jumps up and down, her elastic joints send her up, up, up in the sky... She usually lands with an unladylike bump somewhere far from her London home. [I think the sound would be less bump and more splat.] This is a major pain in the kneecap. Dash, her faithful dog (named after the punctuation mark and for his aerodynamic shape), has a sixth sense when it comes to her bouncing. He grabs hold of whatever body part is nearest with his teeth. She doesn’t mind. Much.

This time, Apostrophe’s bouncy knees have sent her and Dash across a vast ocean to a land where trousers are pants, rubbish is trash, and chips are fries. That’s right, the United States of America. The Upper Peninsula in Michigan, to be exact. [The Internet shows many fish & chips restaurants in the Upper Peninsula, so it's not clear that someone whose first trip to the USA was there would discover that chips are fries. In fact, being so close to Canada, and having a large Finnish population, wouldn't the UP use a lot of British terms spoken in Scandinavian accents?] Apostrophe must get herself and Dash home to England, but like any self-respecting nine-year-old, she can’t bear to ask for help from her parents. “Independent ladies don’t require assistance,” she says. Trying to bounce back is too risky, though, they could end up further from home. While trying to come up with a plan, Apostrophe gets to know some of the locals – a gang of twenty mustachioed snowmobilers, [Amazing how different Upper Peninsula gang culture is from, say, Detroit.] the Kilpinen kids (all thirteen), and the town’s boot-throwing champion. [Please. It's called Welly Wanging. Here's an introduction to casual welly wanging, and here's a champion wanger.] Her linguistic nuances cause minor awkward misunderstandings, major life-threatening confusions, as well as tear-jerking belly laughs. It is through her new-found friendships, though, that Apostrophe discovers how being truly independent sometimes means relying on others.


Notes

It sounds like the whole point of the story is to show that relying on others isn't a bad thing, but you don't show us any instance in which Appie relies on others. Who does what to help her get back?

Presumably this is not the entire query letter, as the recipient will want to know how long it is, what age range it's intended for, whether it's got pictures.

If she's come down far from home in the past, wouldn't she be under strict orders to contact her parents whenever she bounced far away? They must be worried sick if she's in Michigan and not even contacting them.

It seems to me that the arc required to bounce from London to Michigan without reaching unpleasantly fatal speeds would take Apostrophe into realms where the temperature and lack of oxygen would be unpleasantly fatal. Not that little kids will care, but the age at which kids won't scoff at the science may be the age at which they expect illustrations.

Bouncing to Wales or Scotland isn't good enough?

I'd drop Dash from the first paragraph. He isn't needed in the query, but at least he's not taking up much space in the second paragraph.

Cartoon 577

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Beginning 727

Sophie, in an uncharacteristic burst of the poetic, probably brought on by the soothing effects of the painkillers, declared that she wanted to call the twins Castor and Pollux. Fortunately Brian Hummel, her acquaintance of four years (and seven months), who knew well the trauma that a hastily chosen name could cause, having answered to "Bumhole" for most of his life for no better reason than his maternal great-grandfather being also Brian, quickly persuaded her otherwise with the certain advice that those names - as well as being incredibly pretentious epithets that would position a family badly with regard to the idle chatter of their peers - would doom the two to a childhood, and probably beyond, of substitute designations such as "Custard and Bollocks", and variations thereof. After a brief - and at best, semi-coherent - discussion, Sophie conceded, therefore, to the much more sensible Katrina - apparently the forename of a great, great grandmother, supposed to be a Russian emigrée - for the first born; and for Katrina's minutely younger brother, the name Jonathan, which had no known history in the family but seemed, nonetheless, a comfortable fit.

Jonathan had been the first to cry; and always would be. Katrina, on the other hand, just quietly started to breathe, as though savouring that first, perfect moment when everything is new, nothing is broken and no one is to blame. That single, precious moment of individuality; that perfect moment, oblivious to everything that was to come: the broken bone; the first kiss; the accident in the car; both divorces; the death of her fathers, and the final, exquisite blow that would lay waste to everything she would come to hold precious.

****

I took a sip of scotch, gazed moodily at my computer screen, and sighed. Some people might think it was just grand to be haunted by Charles Dickens--literally haunted, as the rat-bastard spook wouldn't let me sleep until I took dictation from him every night--but I just wished someone had told him that "show, don't tell" was the new mantra in fiction.


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Marissa Doyle

Cartoon 576

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Face-Lift 729


Guess the Plot

Finding Forest

1. Halia is a wild fairy, who lives in the scrub oak forests above Los Angeles. When wildfires burn through her grove, she must seek a new home. Also, a talking owl.

2. When a dead teen is revealed to be a robot, Forest and his friends wonder what's going on. Then the robot's creator comes to town. Is he here to repair the robot? Is he here to destroy the community? Or is he interested only in . . . Finding Forest?

3. Problem after problem thwart Yvonne’s search for meaning, and her new-found passion for the klutzy-but-unavailable Feng-Shui-for-Pets shopkeeper isn’t helping her. When at last she finds love stealing glances at her from across the therapy group, will Yvonne’s focus on the ‘trees’ give way to a view of the forest?

4. Waldo made his fortune creating those "hidden object" pictures in which children study a drawing searching for hammers and forks and cell phones. But lately the kids are accusing him of phoning it in; it's just too easy to solve puzzles like "Finding Ocean," "Finding Sky," "Finding Forest." The sad devolution of a great artist.

5. Little Janie Andersen always knew she was special. But one day, repeating a line from Forest Gump, “Run Forest Run,” the grove of pines near her house came to life and sprinted away. Now Janie needs the help of a good witch, a talking scarecrow and a tin dog to find the forest.

6. Mary Sue and her boyfriend Gary rampage through Brooklyn while stalking a were-zombie with Lovecraftian ambitions. Meanwhile the Greener in Pieces initiative (run by ghouls) has decided on drastic measures in the once-man vs nature war. Also, a kitchen sink.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

It takes a lot of courage – or stupidity – to rebel against one’s parents, but Jesse will need more than that [More than stupidity?] to stop Dr. Frey, because Dr. Frey is no father. [It's that old riddle. Dr. Frey is Jesse's mother.] He is Jesse’s creator, and after ten years, he has finally returned for his creation. Jesse knows nothing of this at first, but after the truth is revealed, Jesse is not about to comply with the doctor’s wishes. [Which are?] There are other problems in the community that are more urgent, like the death of Georgette, a friend’s older sister. A scientific investigation leads to the discovery that Georgette was not human, but a highly advanced robot. No such technology exists on post-apocalyptic Earth that could create a thing like this, so the mayors declare a community-wide lockdown. [If beings with vastly superior technology show up, you either make friends or run like the wind. It's unlikely the beings will have a dialogue like:

Leader: Okay, wipe out the puny humans and we'll make this place our base.

General: Yes sir, should take about two min-- Damn, the community's in lockdown.

Leader: Shit. Okay, let's try Mars.]

Jesse and two friends are caught sneaking over the wall during the lockdown, and don’t dare break the law again, but a friend of theirs, Forest, is in trouble. [Specifically, what trouble?] Despite his insistence that they leave him alone, Jesse and the others aren’t about to, but they aren’t sure what to do. Then fires strike simultaneously in different districts of the community and Jesse’s friends become suspicious of the newcomer who claims to be Jesse’s biological father. Worried that his secret will be discovered, Dr. Frey devises a plan to regain control over his creation by kidnapping its companions. Jesse escapes his grasp and manages to rescue the prisoners with help from an old tinker, but Dr. Frey hasn’t given up, and his true goal has come to light – the capture of their friend Forest.

At 50,000 words, Finding Forest is a middle-grade fantasy focused on friendship and the inner humanity shared by all beings [, even machines]. Thank you for your consideration of my novel.

Sincerely,


Notes

Either give Jesse a name that can't be male or female, or use "he" or "she," based on what Jesse looks like, even if Jesse's a robot.

Frey's "true goal" isn't the capture of Forest; that's his immediate goal. His true goal lies in why he wants Forest. Tell us, so we know what's at stake.

The plot doesn't feel cohesive. I'd start with the discovery that Georgette was a robot, then move on to Frey showing up claiming to be Jesse's father. Then get to the stakes: What is Frey up to, and how do Jesse and friends plan to stop him? And if it turns out all the kids are robots, you might want to mention that, too.

The title's not thrilling me, and not just because it's so similar to Finding Forrester.

Cartoon 575

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New Beginning 726

My hands are clamped around the scrawny neck of a squirming thirteen year old boy. From the corner of my eye I see a kid who is high up in the air stomping on his desk. He screams “EIEIO, and on his FARM he had a PIG, EIEIO…WITH A…” he screeches out pig oinks. I have been in my classroom for four seconds. The kid between my hands pasted a girl in the face as I walked in the door. She is bawling, head down, on her arms folded on her desk. The kid in my hands is looking at me wide eyed and open mouthed, terrified. I’ve got him, what do I do with him?

Two girls are necking while another videos them with her camera. A boy sits in his underwear, while his classmate sews up the split seam of the arse of his shorts ripped out by another girl who doesn’t look one bit sorry.

A group of bigger boys have a poker game going on in the corner. Betting is heavy.

As I look around, wondering what to do with this screaming, squirming lad, I can't help but think Hogwarts was a better place when Voldemort was still alive.


Opening: Bibi.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 574

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Face-Lift 728


Guess the Plot

Gypsy

1. Lana longs for the open road, but husband Gary wants to stay put. When he dies, she takes his insurance money to buy a big RV. On her way from Albany to San Clemente she meets different people, and at 87 she falls in love with aging screen idol Jack LeMans. Will they travel together to the end, or will she drive her RV through the great Farmer's Market in the sky?

2. They used to have a lot of negative stereotypes thrown at them; transients, tinkerers, thieves and prostitutes. Then the world was introduced to Frankie ‘the fingers’ and his inexplicable ability to snatch sickness from people as easy as stealing a wallet. It’s a latent ability that has been hidden among clans of gypsies for centuries until Frankie is exposed for his ability.

3. Rhodes Scholar Gypsy Rodes is hitting the road again—this time in search of her gypsy past. But after running into a dead end in Romania, she’s at a crossroads of a sort. Will she wander the highways and byways both physically and metaphorically until the end of time or can she overcome her gypsy past?

4. Gypsy Johnson's parents didn't think her ability to animate toys would force them into a nomadic existence--on the run from the law, the mob, and social services. Maybe allowing her to go to the Museum of Natural History with her pre-school class was a bad idea.

5. Kathy Barnes's parents are dead. To get her inheritance she must locate a man known as The Traveler. She jets off to Albania and meets a loathsome but irresistible Gypsy, but there's no sign of The Traveler. Maybe she should have gone to Moldova.

6. An old Gypsy woman travels through the Carpathians in a mule-drawn wagon, trying to avoid vampires, wolfmen and other cliche characters, but failing miserably.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

What do Gypsies, Klingons, and Gadjos (non-Gypsies) have in common? [Having looked ahead, I'll answer that: They all get mentioned in the first sentence of your query for no discernible reason.] Kathy Barnes is about to find out in Gypsy. [No need to say "in Gypsy." As we don't know your title yet, we may think you're talking about the Broadway Musical.] [Although I don't recall any Klingons in the musical, unless you count Mama Rose.] After her parents die under mysterious circumstances, Kathy—a modern-day American girl with a Gypsy lineage—receives a cryptic letter with instructions to find a man known only as The Traveler, the sole person who can help locate the family inheritance left to her. [When you're trying to locate a guy, it's never good to discover his nickname is "The Traveler."]

Two years, a bought [bout] with depression, and a closet-case of teenage alcoholism later Kathy turns eighteen and jets off to Albania, to begin her quest. Upon pick-pocketing her own wallet back from Gypsy thieves she devises a scheme to use them for information in her search for The Traveler. But her quest goes awry when she meets a Gypsy with a charismatic, overconfident demeanor she loathes—and a magical spark she simply cannot resist. [I usually find it easy to resist anyone whose demeanor I loathe.]

In a bizarre twist, Kathy uncovers secrets from her family’s past that date back to the Klingon takeover of Earth during World War II, [The Klingons had plenty of success, but I think they were prevented from taking over Earth.] and her life is thrust upon the brink of disaster when the Gypsy leader discovers her lies, her family lineage, and her secret mission to find the inheritance.

Gypsy is a 99,250 word YA novel geared toward a crossover audience (teens to twenty-somethings) that whisks the reader into an exotic world full of young love, lies, and unexploded landmines [Three is a good number of items to put in a list, but if you can come up with only two, it's best not to just toss in a random object.] in the heart of colorful Eastern Europe. [The only colors I think of when I think of Eastern Europe are gray and drab.] Evil Editor once said: “The question is can you say a hearty yes to your quest.” [True, he wasn't referring to my novel (or to any novel), but] My novel begs this same question of the reader. Will you follow Kathy on her quest? Will you answer the call when your own adventure arises? I hope you said a “hearty yes” to these questions [Actually, I tried to ignore them, as they seemed irrelevant, but in retrospect they were annoying enough that I believe I'll use them as an excuse to send a rejection slip. I'm petty that way.] because Gypsy was written to inspire the adventurer in all of us.

This is my first novel. The capstone for my Bachelor’s degree was a research project I conducted on Eastern Europe and the three countries (Albania, Serbia, and Moldova) used for the setting of my story. [Moldova's a country? When did that happen? Ah, research shows my geographical knowledge needs updating. Apparently their main claim to fame is the boy band O-zone, who came to prominence in 2004, when their hit song "Dragostea Din Tei," also known as "The Numa Numa Song," took over the #1 spot on the Eurochart Hot 100, replacing Eamon's "Fuck it (I Don't Want You Back)".]

The manuscript for Gypsy is complete, and I would be happy to send a partial upon your request.

Thank you for your time, Evil Editor. I look forward to having my query letter ripped to shreds.

Sincerely,


Notes

It's not clear why Kathy needs to "use" the Gypsies to find The Traveler, or why her lineage is being kept secret from them. Why doesn't she just say, "I'm of Gypsy lineage, like you guys, and I'm looking for The Traveler. Seen him around?"

If the main plot is Kathy's quest to find The Traveler, can you hint at whether she ever finds him? I hope your answer is a hearty yes.

What's the Klingon secret? Kathy's great grandfather was a Klingon collaborator, and the inheritance is his ill-gotten gains? There's no harm in telling us. Why is she on the brink of disaster when her secret is discovered, if she didn't know the secret herself until she got there? What danger is she in, and what's her plan?

Dump the Evil Editor stuff and use the first sentence of that paragraph to open your last paragraph.

How the heck did the Klingons get into this?

Cartoon 573

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

Face-Lift 727


Guess the Plot

Ballad of a Gutter Punk

1. Yeah, it's my autobiography. What do you mean, you don't like the title? Listen, I was CEO of Halliburton and Vice-President of the United States, I don't take lip from the likes of you.

2. Abandoned by her parents, her friends, even her social worker, a teen turns to drugs and prostitution. But through grit and determination she manages to turn her life around completely, getting a minimum-wage job and food stamps.

3. What do you do when you’re born in a gutter, live in a gutter and will probably die in a gutter? Well if you’re Jeffrey Einhorn, you compose the most amazing and perfect ballad ever written. A ballad that brings world peace.

4. On his 18th birthday, Faerie Prince Aureon lost all his powers. With the most recent Guide to Being Mortal in hand, he sets off to spend the year until his powers return in the human world. Chaos ensues.

5. Geoffrey thinks nothing speaks louder than words, but Prucilla takes one look at his new neon mohawk and disagrees. Will the poet's mother kick his up-and-coming behind into the gutter, or will she have a good rest home in her old age?

6. Homeless teen Charlie Coffee pulls himself up by his bootstraps and becomes the top bowler in the United States. But when he starts rolling too many gutter balls, only sports psychologist Barry Childs can keep Charlie from falling back into the gutter.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Baby comes from nothing and is going nowhere. Or at least, that’s what she’s been raised to believe. [It's what she's been named to believe. Naming your baby "Baby" is like naming your dog "Dog." Doesn't show much imagination or effort.] So it comes as no surprise to Baby when, at the age of seventeen, she’s dumped unceremoniously into the gutter.

At 119,000 words, Ballad of a Gutter Punk is the tale of a troubled young woman becoming fractured and then putting herself back together again through hardship and struggle. [Think feminist retelling of the classic "Humpty Dumpty."] Baby’s story begins the day she takes her little sister Emily by the hand and they run away from their father and stepmother to their now clean-and-sober mother’s house. Emily finds a comfortable new life there. Baby doesn’t. Within a few months her mother kicks her out, sending her on a two-year roller coaster ride bouncing from one foster home or group home to the next until, disgusted, Baby runs away to her girlfriend Deonya’s house, only to find that she isn’t exactly excited to see her. The next thing Baby knows, Deonya kicks her out and she’s told by both her mom and her social worker that they don’t want her back, either. [Getting dumped by friends and family is one thing, but when your social worker tells you she's letting you go, you start to wonder if the problem is you.] Baby has become a gutter punk. [What's the difference between a gutter punk and a guttersnipe? Actually, I imagine even the gutter has a social hierarchy of its residents, something like:

hobo
guttersnipe
vagrant
gutter punk
Amy Winehouse]

And she’s quickly devoured by homeless life. Baby leaves her hometown of San Jose, California for Santa Cruz, a liberal seaside town reputed to be more tolerant of homelessness, and befriends Rowdy [Yates], a pillar of the homeless community. Rowdy promises Baby adventure and protection [on his next cattle drive], and he lives up to his promises—at first. Unfortunately, Baby doesn’t know that Rowdy’s promises come with sexual strings attached. [How naive can you get?] When he attacks her at a shelter Baby’s illusions of protection are shattered and her humanity begins to erode. Over the next few months the daily trials of homelessness wear down Baby’s resistance and she plunges headlong into her new life of drugs, prostitution, and casual sex. [And then things get really bad.] Very little remains of who she was before she fell into the gutter.

Until Baby meets him—Corey McEwen, her flawed knight-in-shining-armor—at the soup kitchen. [He recommends the minestrone.] Corey gives Baby a reason to remember who she really is, [An untouchable.] the motivation and the ability to climb out of the gutter, and he gets her pregnant the very first time they have sex. [What a guy.] Baby follows Corey out of the gutter—albeit several weeks after him [Luckily he's made it only as far as the sidewalk.] —and across the country where they set up a new life in Pennsylvania with Emily. They get minimum-wage jobs and food stamps [Not exactly a Horatio Alger story.] and begin to eke out an existence together. But it’s not enough of an existence to support the life growing inside Baby, so she and Corey make a decision to give the baby up for adoption. It is a decision that puts Baby back in touch with the grieving child inside herself, the child she has been running from for so many years.

Thank you for your consideration of Ballad of a Gutter Punk. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Notes

When you're pregnant and destitute, making your way from balmy California to Pennsylvania doesn't seem sensible. What made them decide to do this?

Emily gives up a comfortable life with her mother to travel across the country with her destitute gutter punk sister and the homeless guy who knocked her up? How old is Emily?

We don't need this much information in a query letter. Three sentences of setup in which we learn Baby has been abandoned by everyone and has hit rock bottom. Three sentences in which she meets Cory, gets pregnant and they decide to drag Emily 3000 miles with no prospects. Then wrap it up with the happily ever after: food stamps.

People like to read about people whose lives are more exciting than their own. Baby's life is miserable and doesn't get a whole lot better. If there's something uplifting about her story, you might want to make it clear.