Monday, February 28, 2011

New Beginning 837

The girl screamed in delirium as she lay on the white bed twisting the stiff, starched sheets under her. A stain of sweat and blood spread below her raised and shaking legs. A musky smell hung in the air as the girl struggled. Outside the rain streamed down in a torrential rush beating in a tinny, rhythm on the windows of the back room of the one-floor medical office.

Doctor Britton’s right hand slid inside the girl up to his wrist as he pushed down on her bloated stomach. She screamed again as he touched her monstrous belly. Then her lungs and strength gave up and she trailed off into ragged whimpers.

“The head is turned. Get me the forceps!” He yelled to the nurse with cropped, gray hair. She swiftly identified the instrument from the table near her and placed it in Doctor Britton’s outstretched left hand. She trembled next to him. In her 40 years as a nurse she had never seen a pregnant woman scream so hideously through the birth process. Something was wrong, terribly wrong.

She wished there were other attendants here for this birth besides herself and the doctor – and the unseen man outside who waited to finish this night for them and take this baby. She glanced at the back door where he waited. She wondered what kind of man would wait in the rain for such a job.

[Slow dissolve. Fade in on man in brown uniform waiting patiently.]

Voice-over:
UPS: For your most difficult deliveries. Ask about our guaranteed pick-up service.

[Fade to black.]


Opening: Donna Galanti.....Continuation: Anon

Cartoon 851

Caption: anon.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Face-Lift 874


Guess the Plot

Love Drug

1. The natives of the planet Xanatopsis bred all emotions out of their species long ago. But now, their inability to care for one another could cause their extinction. Can a team of brilliant young scientists from Earth create a drug that will teach the Xanatopsians to love again?

2. In the year 3011, Avalea Christopher is in love. Or so she thinks. Turns out it's her government-prescribed drug regimen that was making her feel that way, as she discovers when she stops taking the drugs. Now the government has put a price on her head, because the last thing they want is people falling in love with their real soul mates.

3. Jerome's attempt to chemically create the perfect love slave backfires: Millie now falls in love with everyone she sees except for him. The antidote makes her turn chartreuse and sprout feathers. Can he find an antidote to the antidote?

4. 'Love drug her heart/ 'Cross a dirty floor/ Love drug her heart/ And she crawled on back for more.' With these lyrics, country singer Boots McCallister begins his climb to the top of the charts. But Annie Craig recognizes the words from a fan letter she sent to Boots, and she wants her piece of the pie.

5. Phab Pharmaceuticals announces the Love Drug: a potion for men that makes them irresistible to women. What Phab Pharm doesn't reveal is that after ten doses your penis falls off. Could CEO Tilly "Two-Bagger" McFrump have an agenda?

6. Wall Street banker Jim Jones reaped billions selling worthless mortgages until he met Midge, an undercover agent with C.U.P.I.D., who slipped a 'love' potion into his coffee. Jim left NYC on a sailboat, and decided to spend his billions on food and tractors for Somali refugees. But arranging distribution from the pirate detention center where he's a hostage is proving very difficult.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I am seeking representation for LOVE DRUG, a 98,000-word YA dystopian science fiction novel set a thousand years into Earth’s future.

Avalea Christopher’s Soul Mate loves everything about her, even the books hidden in her closet. He’d be perfect—if he wasn’t the wrong guy.

He’s Felis Quinn and for days he’s been telling her he loves her. When he reveals he’s a Crew leader from the lawless lower city, and he’s only there as a favor to her real Soul Mate, [It's confusing to refer to two different people as her Soul Mate and her real Soul Mate. Especially when the real Soul Mate is going to turn out not to be the real Soul Mate. I think it would help to get both their names into the query here.] Avalea wants to believe it’s a joke. She’s so certain of their love, she’s willing to stop taking her government-prescribed regimen of medicines and vaccines at Felis’ request.

[Felis: Although we're complete strangers, I love you and I think you would love me back if you would stop taking your medicines.

Avalea: Well, I already have a Soul Mate, but sure, why not? Surely you know what's best for me.]

A week later Avalea knows the love she felt was driven by the medicines and she suspects they control more than who she loves. She’s not sure how Felis knows her chosen Soul Mate or why he agreed to the favor to begin with, but she has bigger worries. The upper city doesn’t like having its secrets out in the open, and Avalea’s parents are ready to turn her over to the authorities.

[Parents: According to the authorities, you know something.

Avalea: Yes, apparently the--

Parents: No! Don't tell us, or they'll kill us, too. ]


To avoid being disappeared, Avalea writes a suicide note and escapes into the lower city, looking for Felis.

Felis gives her a home with his Crew, though it’s not an easy fit for a high-society girl raised to speak well but know little. But the hobbies that would have made her a social pariah in her old life have uses in the lower city and she starts teaching the Crew’s children to read. [It's hard to believe the upper city can maintain the upper hand in this society, if they can't read. I guess that's just because the illiterate don't often rise to the top in our society.]

Avalea is adjusting to her new life and starting to enjoy her freedom when she learns that the upper city didn’t believe her note and they’ve put a price on her head. In a bid for the reward money, the most powerful Crew in the city takes Felis’ Crew’s children hostage, and Avalea is the ransom price. Which means Avalea can save them—if she’s willing to surrender herself, and the life she never knew she needed. [It seems the amount of the reward would be an acceptable ransom alternative to Avalea herself, as it would save the risk/bother of taking her to the authorities.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

When you think about how different the world is today from a thousand years ago, you have to assume that in another thousand years nothing will be the same. Thus, if an oppressive government and love drugs are the main changes, maybe it would be better to set this a hundred years in the future.

The government doesn't want its secrets getting out to the extent that they put a price on Avalea's head, but Felis already knows their secret; and presumably that means everyone in the lower city knows it, and the Soul Mate must know it, and the authorities know it, and even if they don't all know it first-hand, surely Wiki-leaks has revealed all to the world.

Cartoon 850

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Send Stuff

We have only one query in the queue (but not enough fake plots).

We have only one opening in the queue (but no continuations).

EE is beginning to feel that he has finally solved everyone's problems and can take a vacation.

The 2nd Annual Evil Editor Charity Auction

The Brenda Noval Auction for Diabetes Research doesn't begin until May 1, but already hundreds of items and services are posted at the auction site, including several from Evil Editor. Some of Evil Editor's offerings have been rejected by the auction powers that be, and thus EE will once again run his own auction simultaneously with the Brenda Novak auction. If you have other suggestions for possible Evil Editor offerings, submit them as comments. I may add a few of them to the list.



Four Reams of Evil Editor's Scented Manuscript Paper

They say smell is the sense that brings forth the strongest emotional reactions. Of course you would never dip your manuscript in perfume before submitting it, but Evil Editor's scented manuscript paper has a faint aroma that won't be noticed until it reacts with the editor's skin oils and begins wafting toward his nostrils halfway through your pages. You get four reams, one each of lilac, cinnamon, bacon and new car.



Evaluation of a Proposal, by Evil Editor

Nothing is more likely to send her running in the other direction than a marriage proposal filled with vagueness, adverbs, and misuse of the word "literally." Run your spiel past the world's most famous editor for a complete line edit. Ring not included.






Evil Editor's Junk

Evil Editor recently cleaned out his junk drawers and his attic. Don't miss this rare opportunity to get your hand's on EE's junk.











An Evaluation of Your Name, by Evil Editor

You'd like to think your manuscript has never been rejected just because an editor thought your name was boring, forgettable, blah. Don't be so naive. Let Evil Editor do a complete line edit of your name, and suggest three noms de plume, at least one of which will include a middle name.





An Evaluation of Your Pie Recipe.

Send Evil Editor your pie, Fed-Ex, overnight. EE will provide a critique within 48 hours.







A Complete House- keeping Critique, by Evil Editor

EE will move into your home and critique your housekeeping methods, including how you fold your T-shirts, how efficiently you store your kitchen utensils, whether your shower needs grout work, and why you vacuum in the wrong direction.

Cartoon 849

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Beginning 836

"No one lives forever," I said as I pulled myself across the ravine clinging to only a vine with my hands and feet. Capac, our native guide, did it without a safety harness and in a third the time it took Gunny and myself. When I reached the other side, Gunny grabbed my bare shoulders until I balanced on the slippery rocks. We stood atop a waterfall several times the raging Niagara.

"Methuselah lived 1000 years," Gunny, my valet and companion brushed the water from my back. We wore only native kit; the vines on our arms and legs and a strap to hold our tender parts.

"Tommy rot. Biblical hyperbole." I unwrapped the vines that protected my forearms from rope burns. Capac motioned to put them back on. He pointed to vines a dozen feet away that hung into the falling water.

"You mean we have to repel down through the waterfall," I said.

"You told us to leave the climbing harnesses back at camp," Gunny pointed a finger, accusing. Capac laughed at his consternation.

"You want young body. You want to life forever? You must go."

I nodded.

He was right. I'd come this far, and if I had to rappel through Angel Falls to get my manuscript on Evil Editor's desk, then so be it.


Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Khazar-khum

Cartoon 848

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Face-Lift 873


Guess the Plot

Book’em Brooker

1. Sam Brooker, postal worker, wants to break into the librarian trade. Through a series of misunderstandings he ends up running an underground gambling ring. Also, tickets to the policemen's ball.

2. Hard-bitten cop Ed "Bookem" Brooker faces his most hackneyed, cliche-filled case yet when the corpse of the local millionaire's son turns up in a meat locker. Sassy redheaded reporter Francie Wilkes shows up every third chapter in high heels and a tight skirt.

3. Norm Brooker's encyclopedic knowledge of Hawaii Five-O fails to impress his friends or the girl he secretly loves. When Norm's hometown is hit by a rash of crimes that mirror classic episodes of his favorite show, will Norm finally get his chance to shine? Or will he find that real crime fighting isn't as easy as his TV heroes made it look?

4. Cheerleader Chrissy is failing science. When Mr Thompkins assigns them a CSI project, she knows just who to get as her partner--nerdy Danny Brooker. But rival Stacey is angling for him as well, and she's offering to date him, too! Oh, it is SO on!

5. Make the coffee, Brooker. Fetch us some donuts, Brooker. File our reports, Brooker. Sexism is one thing, but can sharp-eyed Vivian Brooker overcome the emotional frailty inherent to her gender long enough to capture a serial killer--before she becomes his next victim?

6. Book'em, Brooker. Sharpen my pencil, Brooker. Hoover the cells, polish the handcuffs, Brooker. Sexism is one thing, but can sharp-eyed Valerie Brooker turn her reputation as a 'dumb blonde' to her advantage while she gathers evidence to book her obviously crooked captain?

7. Shy but brilliant forensics student Jill Pender has a secret: an imaginary friend, hard boiled detective Buck Brooker who has gotten her through every course with honors. But joining the police means taking a psych exam. Can she give up her secret weapon? But perhaps more importantly: will Brooker let her go?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

In 1973, Vivian Brooker is the first policewoman in the Cedar Falls Police Department. Chauvinistic officers in the squad are licking their chops anticipating [expecting] “Helen Reddy” to faint under the emotion [Emotional] strain of the gritty job. [Has anyone actually fainted since Victorian England?] Eager to hasten her dismissal, the officers play practical jokes and heap grunt work on her. Vivian is assigned the coffee making, donut fetching, and paperwork filing office tasks, which she must perform between freeing her desk drawers of jock straps and porn magazines. [I don't see how assigning her tasks that don't involve the emotional strain of the gritty job will hasten her dismissal. She's not gonna get fired for making bad coffee.] [Also, is it possible for a place called Cedar Falls to have so much major crime that police work is gritty?] [Also, is "gritty" the word you want? When it doesn't mean sandy, it means courageous, resolute. I get the impression you were going for tough and demanding.] [Finally, there was no Internet in 1973, so no cop would have been willing to sacrifice his porn mags just for a practical joke.]

Her first taste of criminal activity, a bank robbery in progress, leads to disaster when she is taken hostage at gun point. Vivian surprises her fellow officers by keeping a cool head and convincing the robber to free her and surrender. [So it didn't lead to disaster.] Emboldened by her demonstration of her insight into a criminal’s mind, [Most cops would have simply assumed the bank robber wanted to get away with the eighty grand he just stole, but Vivian realized he wanted to surrender and spend ten to twenty years in a prison cell with a big-armed guy named Bubba.] Vivian tells the Police Captain [of] her passion for detective work.

The Police Captain arranges for her to review a few cold case files with a veteran detective. But after days of studying the gruesome details of the victims of the Ulrich Park Murderer, Vivian’s emotion [Emotional!] stability begins to unravel. She starts making careless mistakes: misfiling papers at work, [bringing the captain a honey-dipped donut instead of a cruller,] forgetting her badge at home. She longs to retreat into the security of a strong man’s arms rather than her empty apartment. [In short, she realizes that her passion isn't for detective work, it's for Jim Rockford.]

Vivian wonders if the chauvinistic officers are right; maybe her emotional [I see my nagging finally got through to you.] frailty is inherent to her gender and a determent [detriment?] to the police force. After she receives a threatening phone call from a man claiming to be the Ulrich Park Murderer, she decides to turn in her badge.

The Police Captain convinces her to stay on the squad while the team uses her as bait to lure the murderer into a trap. But can she depend on the same men who wanted her off the police force to protect her life? [Of course she can. You think they wanna go back to making their own coffee?]

“Book’em Brooker”, a novel complete at 80,000 words, is an account of a woman’s discovery of her strengths and weaknesses, and her journey to appreciate the strengths of the men around her.

Thanks for your consideration.


Notes

So, the heroine of the book unravels when she studies the details of gory crimes, longs to retreat into the security of a strong man’s arms, wonders if her emotional frailty is inherent to her gender, and turns in her badge when she gets a threatening phone call? Who's your target audience? Chauvinistic men who want to see her fail? She doesn't sound like the kind of woman one envisions at the vanguard of the women's rights movement.

Any halfway decent detective would realize there's no way the actual Ulrich Park Murderer is gonna be phoning her. Even if he's a cop, is he really gonna be worried that she'll solve a case the department couldn't?

If your word choice and usage aren't spot-on, it will be assumed this is a problem in the book. Is it?

Cartoon 847

Caption: anon

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Beginning 835

She lay there, naked, her long dark hair her pillow and cape. She was beautiful, once.

“Do you have a cause of death, Doctor?”

“No, Detective, I do not.”

“How long will it take?” asked Detective Martinez.

“That's the thing. There is no known cause of death. I've checked: there are no wounds – not even needle marks – no toxicology, no diseases, and every significant organ is in perfect shape except one...”

“That must be the cause,” said the Detective.

“Oh, come, Detective. What kind of fool do you take me for? Do you think I don't know what can cause a death and what can be caused by a death? No, the problem is the heart. Take a look.”

Doctor Martinez leaned over the corpse and withdrew her heart. He held it up, one side face to Detective Kowaloski. It had been carved with a strange, angry figure in it.

“What is it?”

“Near as I can tell, Detective, this is some kind of demon's mark carved into the heart.”

“Well...”

“Carved into it postmortem – after death – and without opening the body at all. Whatever killed this young woman was carved into her before she was cut open, too,” said the Doctor.

“That's impossible.”

"Not as impossible as us switching identities halfway through our conversation."

"What?" asked Detective Kowaloski.

"You came in here, pretending to be Zack Martinez. Well, sir. I know Zack Martinez personally, and you, sir, are no Zack Martinez."

"What--what gave me away?"

Doctor Martinez sneered. "Well, for one thing, he's my brother. For another--" the physician snatched the mask from Kowalski's face--"he's not a demon."

Kozzwalllskyky slumped to the floor. How was he going to survive this humiliation back in Hell?


Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Cartoon 846



Caption: Whirlochre

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Feature 25


The 3rd Annual Evie Awards

Each year Evil Editor's Academy of Motionless Pictures honors the year's best films. Once again this year, at the request of the Hollywood stars who are obligated to attend the Oscar show and whined like a car whose battery isn't quite dead but isn't powerful enough to start the engine when we held the Evies at the same time as the Oscars in year 1, the Evie Awards are being presented a week earlier than the Oscars. And once again, unlike the Oscars, which show an occasional thirty-second snippet from a film, we show the entire film and still manage to complete the entire program in about twenty minutes. And the Evies go to . . .


Best Original Song: "Oh, Evil," by Whirlochre, from Radio Daze

video



Best Musical Score: Fredric Chopin/Kevin MacLeod for Camp Horror

video



Best Supporting Actor: Harcourt Z. Penrose, Esq. for EE Hires a Lawyer

video



Best Supporting Actress: Carlotta the Snazzily Dressed Lit Agent for Erick the Strange Angelic Man

video



Best Screenplay: 150 for Publishing Town

video



Best Actress: Nicole Kidman for No Regrets

video



Best Actor: Robert Conrad for The Interrogator

video



Best Film: A Bright Sunshiny Day

video

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Time Has Come


My plan is to order the printing of 50 copies of this book. The cover price is $10.95, $1.00 of which goes to the company that processes your credit card or Paypal account. In order to make sure 50 copies is plenty (because it's cheaper to order more copies up front if I'll eventually need them) I'm posting this opportunity to pre-order it. You don't have to pre-order, but it will help me prepare for the possibility the book will be a NY Times bestseller. (If there are any other items in the Evil Editor Store you want, ordering at the same time saves on shipping.) If you want to know what's in the book, click here to watch the book trailer.

Saturday Film Series


video

Friday, February 18, 2011

Face-Lift 872

Guess the Plot

A Human Element

1. Nina Tass has discovered the biggest secret mankind has to offer; a heretofore unknown element that determines conscience. Inject it into a rat and it shows remorse. Remove it from a human: instant sociopath.

2. As the stock boy at a dusty old New Age shop that never sold anything, Josh thought he'd lucked into the easiest job in the world. But that was before his boss accidentally turned him into the anthropomorphic representative of air. Also, a unicorn with myopia.

3. Aboard the Ulysses, the manned mission to Europa, things are not going well. Every time something fails, CANDY, the computer-assisted navigator, is blamed. CANDY, however, is fed up with the weakness of the crew. Will CANDY be the only Earthling to reach Europa "alive"?

4. Biochemist Bernie Shaw has identified the element responsible for triggering the evolution of apes into homo sapiens. When his girlfriend, Heidi, is accidentally exposed to a radioactive version of the element, she transforms back into an ape. Can Bernie reverse Heidi’s de-evolution, or is she headed to the start of the food chain?

5. Laura's parents were burned alive. On a trip to her hometown, she is drawn to Ben, whose parents were crushed by a falling meteorite. But would Ben want anything to do with Laura if he knew who she really was? For instance, would it bother him to know she's an alien who became human when the meteorite she rode to Earth reacted with elements in Earth's atmosphere?

6. Aimee thinks she has the perfect solution to the animal instincts that overcome her when the moon is full and she becomes a werewolf: a cabin in the wilderness, fifty miles from civilization. And it works fine until the month she arrives at the cabin to find that a scout troop has set up camp nearby. Carnage ensues.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Laura Armstrong endures a life of tragedy as those she loves are gruesomely murdered and realizes she must unravel her past to face the killer if she wants to live. [Dump that. I seldom find opening with a one-sentence screenplay log line helpful. There's nothing there that isn't soon repeated, except Laura's last name, which can easily be inserted in the next paragraph.]

Laura can’t escape death. Her parents were burned alive, her best friend’s throat was ripped out and her boss’s head was blown off in her lap. [Serves him right for having his head in her lap in the first place.] And she doesn’t know why. She fears the killer is the one who chases her in nightmares. [Didn't she see who the killer was when he was blowing her boss's head off?] [Actually, as it seems likely Laura would have been mortally wounded if her boss's head were blown off while it was, for some reason, in her lap, I'm forced to consider an alternative, namely that her boss's head was blown off nearby and came to rest in Laura's lap.We must now ask what could blow a man's head off without injuring a nearby person. Certainly not a grenade. Possibly Green Arrow has an explosive meat cleaver arrow that could do the job. Someone else look into that. I'm more interested in how one reacts when one is at work and suddenly discovers the severed head of one's boss in one's lap. Does Laura react with revulsion, shoving the head into the wastebasket? Or does she, recognizing it as the head of her boss, treat it with more respect, placing it on a shelf next to a photograph of her parents? Perhaps it depends on whether she was wearing old jeans or her new white silk dress when the head landed in her lap, spurting blood all over her.]

It might be connected to the meteorite that hit her hometown lake almost thirty years ago. Ben Fieldstone thinks so. [Ben Fieldstone thinks that the murder of Laura's boss where she now lives is related to a meteorite that fell to Earth 30 years ago where she lived back then? I find it inconceivable that anyone would conceive of such a ridiculous theory.] He was there the night his parents were crushed under it. [They were crushed by a meteorite that landed in a lake at night? What were they doing in a lake at night? And if Ben was there too, why wasn't he crushed?] Laura finds him when she returns home to search the lake for answers. [She travels to her hometown to search the lake for answers even before she has met up with Ben Fieldstone? In other words, both she and Ben independently reach the conclusion that a meteorite that hit the lake thirty years ago is connected to her boss's head being blown off?] Drawn to one another, they discover they are bound by fate as Laura’s true identity is revealed and that the man who wants her dead [How does she know it's a man? And if he wants her dead, why didn't he blow her head off?] is part of her. [Huh?] With the killer closing in, [How much closer can he get? He's already part of her.] Laura realizes she must fight him alone to save them both. But if they survive, she fears she can’t give her heart to Ben now that he knows who she really is. [I missed the part where you reveal who she really is so that I'll understand why she's concerned. (I'm assuming the educated guess I made in Guess the Plot is correct, but the person you send the letter to may not be as quick on the draw as Evil Editor.)]

I am seeking representation of my novel, A HUMAN ELEMENT, a 120,000-word suspense novel. I would appreciate the opportunity to send you the entire manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

Who is she?

I fail to see why Laura would think whoever killed her parents, boss and friend is connected with a meteorite that landed thirty years ago, or with her hometown. Presumably the boss and friend have no connection to Laura's hometown, so it's not the meteorite that connects the murders, it's Laura. If it all makes sense in the book, you need to fill in the gaps so it makes sense in the query.

Cartoon 845

Caption: Khazar-khum

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Beginning 834

Ben Fieldstone watched the coffin lowered into the earth and fantasized new ways to kill his foster father, Frank. He drags him in his drunken daze to the shed, holds up his reeking body and presses his head in the vise on the workbench. He slowly winds the mechanism …tighter, tighter…Frank mumbles then shrieks…his skin splits and blood oozes out dripping down his face.

He didn’t know what would happen if you squeezed someone’s head in a vise. Would it just pop and bits of brain and blood explode outward or would it be a slow, bloody mess? His heart pulsed quicker just thinking of it. He knew he could never kill him though. He was tall, but thin, and no match against Frank’s bulky, squat frame.

“Hey, let’s go,” directed Frank, nudging him. “I need to get outta here.”

His red-rimmed eyes made him appear forlorn over the passing of his wife, Emma, but Ben knew it was mostly the booze. Ben nodded and flicked his black bangs away from his gray eyes and glanced over at the man who had been standing motionless across the cemetery throughout the service. He was an immense figure clad all in black. Ben couldn’t see his face as he was too far away. He wondered briefly who he could be and why he was there, but then dismissed the thoughts. He had bigger problems to deal with now, like Frank.

* * *

Evil Editor pulled his black Burberry tighter around him and whistled for his dog. But before they headed home, he took one last look at the grave, thinking to himself, That's the best damned plot I've seen in months.


Opening: Donna Galanti.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 844

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Face-Lift 871


Guess the Plot

Fear the Unknown

1. Joanne has undertaken the impossible; to find out what they really put in the lunches at Longbone High School. What started on a dare for Jo and her friend Alec turns deadly when they discover a secret compartment in the meat locker- full of unicorn carcasses.

2. Noah has survived bombings and wars, but now he faces old age, an unknown enemy he can't survive . . . or can he? When he meets a guy who claims to know a ritual that will grant immortality through the sacrifice of children, will Noah do the right thing?

3. After a night of drinking in Boston, Ludlow wakes up naked on a tropical beach he's never seen before. WTF? His only clue is a fresh tattoo on his wrist that says FEAR THE UNKNOWN in fancy Gothic letters. Is he in mortal danger or paradise? The uncertainty ends as a sinister frogman with a crossbow emerges from the surf and Ludlow realizes his only hope is to run for cover in the jungle.

4. Shy, sickly Jess spends all his time on a computer, where he feels safe and confident. When his cabinmates at Computer Camp want to go on a clandestine stroll to the girls' cabins, will he go--or stay safe?

5. Adrian lived in his own little world, quite literally. His parents had joined a cult that lived in an abandoned underground bunker before his birth and he had never seen the light of day in his 21 years of life. Now that the cult leader has died and the IRS is after them for back taxes they decide to leave the bunker. Will the outside world be as scary as he was taught?

6. Max Winestein fears the known. His wife terrifies him. Going to work freaks him out daily. Familiar foods give him the creeps. Seeing his own relatives causes panic attacks. But he's perfectly happy embarking on adventures to foreign lands, risking his life with dangerous sports, and hanging out with complete strangers. It's up to Slubka Doykovich, his new therapist, to change his mind. Plus, philosophical musings.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Documentary filmmaker Noah Pressman has survived IRA bombings, the Waco standoff and both Gulf Wars. But now he faces something far more threatening – old age. ["Far more threatening" seems a bit strong. "Even more terrifying" at least would imply that it's subjective.] Retirement means he’ll be trapped in an empty house, living with the memories of a son who died twenty-five years ago. Desperate for an escape, he takes an easy job over the Christmas holidays, directing a TV show about the world’s most unusual places. [That's an easy job? Directing a TV show about the most unusual places in Des Moines, Iowa might be easy. Directing a TV show about the most unusual places in the entire world sounds like a pain in the ass. And he's doing this over the Christmas holidays?]

A chance encounter leads him to Caleb Rafferty, a nineteen-year-old musician struggling to earn cash for Juilliard. Noah sees potential and offers him the role of host. It’s a financial opportunity Caleb can’t pass up. He needs to prove himself, needs to escape the shadow of an alcoholic father.

The first episode brings them to the World of Make-Believe, an abandoned fairytale theme park outside Minneapolis. There, things soon take a turn for the bizarre. Noah hears the voice of a little boy calling him “daddy.” Caleb has a vision of his father mutilating himself. Neither one is sure what’s going on. But when they find a clue linking the property to a wave of missing children, they’re convinced something sinister is inside the decaying wonderland. [If the place is abandoned and decaying, I assume children aren't allowed to go in and wander about until they disappear. What is the link between the park and the children?]

As their father-son bond deepens, Noah and Caleb learn the truth. A powerful Satanist has uncovered a ritual that grants immortality. All that’s required are enough sacrificial victims – hence the missing children. To prevent the bloodshed, Noah and Caleb must return to the World of Make-Believe. But they’ll have to face a demonic henchman called Addonexus, a creature with a knack for deadly illusions and violent mind games. [Is the demonic henchman more or less powerful than the powerful Satanist? If he's stronger, why is he willing to be a henchman? If he's weaker, we don't need him; one villain is plenty for a query.]

A supernatural thriller, FEAR THE UNKNOWN is 90,000 words long. It’s my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best,


Notes

This is well-written. I'm not sure we need a whole paragraph about who Caleb is. Assuming you don't want to leave him out entirely, you could just say Noah hires 19-year-old Caleb Rafferty to host the show, and then get on with the plot. Telling us he's a musician who wants to go to Julliard only leads us to wonder what qualifies him to host this show. Wouldn't the producer, rather than the director, hire the host, anyway? Is it too late to make Caleb the director's assistant or the gaffer?

I find it hard to believe a TV show about the most unusual places in the world would choose an abandoned theme park outside Minneapolis as its first featured place. Is it known in advance that bizarre and sinister things go on there? Even if it is, promoting your new series by saying Join us as we tour one of the most unusual places in the world: the decaying carcass of a theme park in Minnesota isn't going to lead to a ratings bonanza.

Surprisingly, there's no mention of an internal conflict for Noah, as his fear of growing old makes immortality sound attractive, even at the expense of a few human sacrifices.

Cartoon 843

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Face-Lift 870


Guess the Plot

The Facility

1. Ever since birth, Jojo has heard of a marvelous place where all go when they are old enough. But when Rango returns and says it's not a retirement paradise but a slaughterhouse, will Jojo listen? Or will she board the truck marked HORMEL?

2. When the Parkville basketball team falls behind by 26 points in the homecoming game, the gymnasium bursts an underground pipe that kills 3 starters from the other team. Home-court advantage has never been so deadly as it is in . . . The Facility.

3. After decades of economic ruin, Blue Valley welcomes a new biotech factory. Everyone who wants a job gets a job. But what they're producing is top secret. When Chad Dunford realizes the glowing substance he stirs all week is radioactive, he risks all to discover the horrifying truth about . . . The Facility.

4. When Holly suddenly starts causing anyone who gets within 3.67 feet of her to drop dead, she is placed in a facility where teens with special powers are observed by psychologists. But the facility has sinister plans for the teens, as Holly learns from a time traveler from the future.

5. The Omega Institute is where underperforming sous chefs go for "retraining." Valerie Baker is determined to escape, but her route is impeded by tunnels of mutant sticky buns, pits of mushy pasta, and an obstacle course of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

6. In a bid to raise sufficient funds to realize his ambitions in the chicken & egg trade, farmer Jason Thompson offers tours of his haunted outhouse at a very reasonable rate. All is marvelous -- until the ghost demands a share of the profits.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

On the 20th February 2012 thirteen teenagers living in the south of England suddenly displayed unnatural powers. In the interest of public safety the Government took them into custody, placing them in a medical facility for observation.

Fifteen year old Holly Lawson’s sheltered life is shattered when, after a heated argument with her mother, all living things within a 44 inch radius drop down dead. [That's an awfully precise measurement. I wouldn't want to be the subject of an experiment in which they tell me to get within 46 inches to see if I drop dead, and when I don't, they say, Okay, now try 45...] She is knocked out [by a guy with a 50-inch baseball bat,] and taken to the facility after accidently [sp.] killing her parents, two paramedics and a police officer. [She needs to wear a sign that says Stay back 45 inches; not responsible for death or damaged windshields.] Regaining consciousness she is wracked with guilt, which isn’t helped when the older brother she idolised calls her a murderer and refuses her phone calls, cutting her off from the outside world.

She resigns herself to life inside the facility, slowly learning how to control her new power [Is she trying to increase the 44-inch radius? Decrease it? Does she want to be able to decide which people within 44 inches drop dead, and which don't? It wasn't made clear that this was a useful power rather than an affliction. It's easier to kill someone with a long-range rifle or a grenade than by sending Holly to get within 44 inches.] and finding friendship amongst the other teens. Nate, a seventeen year old fire starter seems to understand her better than the team of psychologists assigned to her case. She begins to trust him, and they look forward to one day being free of the facility [and starting a one-stop assisted suicide and cremation service].

When Holly finds an older and very different Nate in her bedroom one night, she is at first shocked to discover that he can time travel. [Even more shocking is his confession that he started the Great London Fire of 1666 and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.] He tells her that he has come back from the future to warn Holly of the facility’s sinister plans for the teens. The future Nate is completely different from the present one, and Holly finds it difficult to place her trust in someone so cold and calculating.

When the facility’s security is breached, cutting off the systems that keep the teen’s [teens'?] powers in check, Holly must decide where her loyalty lies. Siding with her fellow teens could lead them all to a future where their powers are used for evil. [I would have thought the opposite--not siding with the teens could lead to a bleak future. Didn't future Nate mention whether it was the status quo or a teen revolt that led to the apocalypse?] But the other option means setting loose the devastating power she has vowed never to use again.

THE FACILITY is paranormal YA novel which is complete at 65,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration


Notes

You talk about Holly "using" her power. Does using it simply mean purposely getting within 44 inches of someone?

I wouldn't mind knowing what future Nate claims will happen, so we know what's at stake.

I don't see any need for the first paragraph. A few minor tweaks of the 2nd paragraph will take care of whatever dropping the 1st paragraph loses.

Also, if you want the story to be set in the future, you might choose a year further ahead than 2012, as the book may not come out till 2013.

If I were future Nate, coming back with a warning for the teens, I might give that warning to present Nate instead of Holly. Better yet, time travel to when the evil mastermind of the facility was a child and kill him.

Cartoon 842

Caption: anon.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

New Beginning 833

When Shira first started seeing holes in people, she told her mother. Her mother sat her down on her Little Mermaid bed and gave her a big warm hug. She told Shira not to worry. She said everyone had holes, even herself, especially herself, and if blobs of memories oozed out of these holes, that was all okay.

Shira peeked up at her mother. Her mother had a hole on her right chest, a hole so deep and large, it spanned from her collarbone to her armpit.

Shira asked if others could see these holes. Her mother shook her head.

“Why not?” Shira asked.

“Because we’re all different, sweetie. We look different, we feel different, we see different things. Some people can see land across the ocean.”

Her mother sprang off the bed to demonstrate, pointing at a grand vague distance, like a pirate onboard. Then she rolled into a hedgehog ball and whispered, “Others can see creatures that build tiny cities underfoot.”

Shira laughed and crouched with her.

“You can see what we hold precious, what makes us cry. What you make of it is up to you. You can use it to hurt. You can use it help.”

"Different people see different things," her mother continued as she stroked Shira's long, dark hair. "We all have gifts." She paused. "But There is one person who must never know. One you must never tell, because he will make something terrible of your gift. Once, he was a good man; he understood. But something has spoiled him, and now he turns such magic into horrors you cannot imagine."

Shira's eyes were wide with concern. "Who, Mother? Who is he? Who should I not tell?"


Shira's mother lowered her voice to a whisper. "M. Night Shyamalan."



Opening: Sand Dune.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 841

Caption: anon.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grisham 3

Sorry Grish, but I have to let you go.

Whattaya mean?

I mean, you'll have to find a new editor.

What?! I made you rich! I made you famous! You were a nobody until--

You've got it backwards, Grish. Have you forgotten the days when no editor would read past page 1 of your manuscripts? Have you forgotten that your first novel, A Time to Kill, edited by some broad who was biding her time till she could start her own literary agency, bombed like an unattended car in an al Qaida-infested neighborhood? How your second novel, The Firm, edited by Yours Truly, hit the bestseller list faster than James Gandolfini hits the buffet at Mama Leone's? Not to mention that the movie made Tom Cruise a household name. Why, my advice to start all your novels with the word "The" alone has made you half a billion dollars. Or hadn't you noticed that every time you write one that doesn't start with "The," it tanks?

Okay, but we're a team. We need each other. My name and the word "The" guarantee millions of books sold.

I'm thinking of giving the word "The" to one of my other authors. One who's not so full of himself.

But readers love my--

Look Grish, people read your books only because you show lawyers to be exactly like they are: evil, cruel, heartless . . . It's the same reason people read my blog: because every time they get rejected, they think--correctly--that agents and editors are the bottom feeders of the publishing industry, and the blog reinforces that belief. It's comforting to know it's not their fault, it's the bouncer who won't let them in the door.

What about me?

You'll be fine. There are a dozen titles you haven't used yet. The Co-counsel, The Tort, The Bailiff . . . Hell, you haven't even used The Trial.

Sure, I can slap a good title on a turd and sell five million books, but without your input I'll lose the respect of the literary world, EE.

True. Okay, tell you what, I'm tired of your agent getting fifteen percent while I work on salary. We'll cut out the middle man. From now on you get fifteen percent, and I get the rest. Deal?

Thanks EE. I won't let you down.


--Evil Editor

Grisham 2

"Welcome to our video feature. Interview With The Author. Today we're talking to the inimitable John Grisham here to publicize his new book. You're kind of prolific as an author, aren't you?" EE's voice gargled its way out of the computer feed.

"What subtle insight," Grisham answered.

"Your novels about the legal profession have been, to say the least, critical of the legal profession. Certain groups are presented as weasels, sharks, barracudas, dodo birds, cockroaches, genital lice, slime molds, black fungus, scorpions, zombie dung beetles, butt floss," EE stopped at Grisham's raised hand.

"Point made ad naseum. I have been routinely trounced by lawyers and legal critics, but I couldn't care less. What's a good lawyer? I recontextualize them floating face down in a water bucket. It's a significant starting point." Grisham leaned back in the chair, crossing his legs.

"Of course you do. Do you ever get writer's block?"

"Writer's block? Actually it's the opposite. I never get writer's block. In fact in spring, I feel like a river swollen with ideas from the winter's snowmelt -- good bad, weird zombiefied and bizarre ideas just veritably spring from my head."

"Then why do you write one novel a year?" EE asked.

"I tamed the demons of procrastination in college. One novel is perfect for my fans. Two would only confuse the poor dears. There are only so many thoughts the average mind can hold. I perfected the one thought rule as I practiced law. Now I'm an expert. So I take one idea and drive it like a wild stallion onto the prairie of my dreams and break it tame. It's like football players driving to a goal or soccer boys kicking to the net or Jai Alai players whacking their balls..."

"That's 300 words. Thanks for the interview!"

--Dave F.

Grisham 1

Two figures sit at a deserted outdoor patio of a wanna-be-swank New York bistro. One wears a disheveled trench coat, and clutches the handle of a briefcase next to his chair. The other figure is more “sheveled” but has three empty martini glasses in front of him—empty except for the olives.

“A Time to Kill?” the latter—the man with the lamb chop sideburns—asks. “I didn’t bother reading it. Figured it was a hunting guide. What else ya got?”

The other mumbles something indistinguishable—in legalize.

“What?” Evil Editor slams down his half-full martini glass (the fourth...but who’s counting?). “The Firm? Sounds like a Jane Fonda workout video. Next!”

More legalize from Disheveled Trenchcoat—although it sounds more like blubbering.

“The Pelican Brief? You’ve got to be kidding? With George Herbert Walker Bush in office, this country doesn’t care about the environment, nor do we want any more scandals. Next!”

This time the disheveled man leans forward and two words ekes from his trembling lips. “The Client.”

The jolly figure guffaws, drains the rest of his martini, and motions the waiter for another. “Pal, it’s obvious you don’t *have* any clients. That’s why you’re here. Last chance...”

Disheveled Trenchcoat lets go of his briefcase long enough to hiss two words at his martini-filled compadre. “The Chamber.”

Evil Editor grabs a martini from the waiter. “Ahhhh. The Chamber. Finally we have a working title. What’s it about?”

Trenchcoat trembles, but manages a few select words. “Suicide. Death Row. Ku Klux Klan.”

“Finally something I can work with!” Evil Editor swigs down his last martini of the afternoon (not counting that night). “Now that I know you’re marketable, let’s go back to this hunting thing...A Time to Kill? It’s not too graphic is it?”

--Steve Prosapio

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Film Series


Phoenix suggested the Grisham birthday writing exercise would seem incomplete if the Grisham interview conducted in 2009 by ril were not revisited for the enjoyment of those who haven't seen it . . . and those who have. And I agree, partially because it gets me out of making a film.

This link should get you to the original location of the interview.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Face-Lift 869


Guess the Plot

World Book

1. The World Book provides the laws by which Seth's people are supposed to live, laws Seth has always observed. Then Kinessa shows up and invites Seth to join her in a quest to destroy the World Book. Seth doesn't know if that's a good idea, but Kinessa is kind of cute.

2. Formerly known as The Encyclopedia, World Book sets out on a quest for friends, adventure, and nachos with cheese that’s not too hot or too hard. But when he returns home to find a rogue possum has nested in his house, he must burn everything he loves . . . except Q thru S.

3. In a world where printed books are almost nonexistent, an impoverished encyclopedia salesman hacks Wikipedia and plants a virus that reduces its content to gibberish. With online content paralyzed, high-school students will be forced once again to rely on . . . World Book.

4. Eighth grader Joanie puts off writing her report about Henry VIII until the night before it's due. Then she stays up so late to work on it she finally has to put her head down on the encyclopedia to rest -- and wakes up in a castle in medieval London. And OMG! Everyone's calling her Anne Boelyn!

5. It looks like a multi-volume alphabetized collection of articles on everything under the sun. But if you read the entire thing from A to Z, you'll find it contains a subtly woven tale of a man, a woman, and a Schnauzer.

6. A book containing all the knowledge the space explorer Gaston compiled on his travels plummets to Earth in a spherical capsule, landing in Italy, where it is brought to the attention of Leonardo da Vinci. And the rest is history.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seth was good at following the rules. He obeyed his parents, performed his nightly vows, and observed the laws in the World Book with pride – until he met Kinessa.

Seth’s world is turned upside down as Kinessa challenges him to question everything he believes in. [Everything?] He neglects his readings, plays on the beach and explores the woods in his backyard for the first time. [Does the World Book forbid playing on the beach and exploring your backyard? How about a couple examples of beliefs Seth has that are being challenged.] Eventually Kinessa leaves, but she confronts him with a choice – go back to your previous life or come with me. [I would leave out the part about her leaving and just say she invites him to join her on an adventure. She can't leave first and then confront him with a choice . . . Or do they have cell phones?]

The friends embark on an adventure to change the three Kingdoms. [What are the three Kingdoms? Does Seth live in one of them? Is Kinessa from the same one or a different one? Change them in what way?] But as Seth follows Kinessa on her quest to destroy the World Book he soon learns that change is never as easy as it seems. [This is all vague.]

World Book is a completed 32,000 word fantasy for middle grade readers. I have one published short story in Byline Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you are interested feel free to contact me by phone or email.

Sincerely,


Notes

I can burn down an entire law library, but that doesn't mean I'm not expected to be law-abiding. What good does destroying the World Book do?

Specifics are more interesting than generalities. Even the few specifics in this query (neglects his readings, plays on the beach and explores the woods in his backyard) are pretty general.

Cartoon 840

Caption: anon.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Face-Lift 868


Guess the Plot

The Puppet Mistress

1. Biography of Beatrix Hoppleton, owner of the world’s largest collection of puppet memorabilia which includes the matching sock of the pair from which Lamb Chop was crafted, and Yoda’s whiskers.

2. Kermit's binge drinking, philandering and kinky sex demands: Miss Piggy tells all.

3. When nerdy computer genius Todd Herman's inflatable date begins to talk to him, he's unsure whether to call a priest or a shrink. Also, a goldfish with a Facebook page.

4. Cenric Alva: Is he a knight, cursed by a "puppet mistress," a wicked sorceress who controls his every move as he battles monsters of Spanish folklore? Or is he a collection of pixels in a game being played by a sixteen-year-old girl? You decide.

5. When her husband's overactive urge to control her every movement passes, Jane is relieved. Meanwhile, Frank seems to be spending all his time in the basement - he's building a subterranean love nest for Candy Kane, his life-sized inflatable puppet mistress!

6. By day Carl is the quiet man at the insurance company who handles the small business accounts. At night, though, he and his RealDoll Noriko become Puppet and Mistress, a crime-fighting duo who search for evildoers on Craigslist.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

“Should you accept the challenge of this quest, you will be bound to the magic of the game.” When sixteen-year-old Vaila Grayson ignores this opening message on a mysterious video game, she never realizes what a mistake it was.

Unlike every other game she’s played, this one has no saves, continues, or resets, and Vaila must put her skills to the test of a lifetime. She might be able to focus, if her video knight was a just a collection of pixels. But Cenric Alva is a real knight, [How does she know this?] under a sorceress’s curse. Cenric believes he has fallen victim to a puppet mistress, a wicked magician who now controls his every move. [I'm not clear on what the curse is. An actual knight in, let's say the 14th century, is cursed by a sorceress to become a computer game avatar in the 21st century? Is the knight still in the 14th century, or is he in the computer game? How does the sorceress know about computer gaming?]

Mental challenges, frustrating side quests, and impossible riddles are the least of her problems as Vaila and Cenric confront terrible and fascinating monsters conjured from Spanish folklore. When a battle with such a beast causes an accident that binds Vaila’s spirit with Cenric’s, the pair must now endure each other’s physical pain and wild emotions. [In short, Cenric must endure his own curse while also enduring Vaila's.] Should Cenric die, their intimate connection would also bring about Vaila’s premature death. And so Vaila has only one chance to save them both.

[Vaila's dad: Okay, Vaila, you've been playing that silly game for fourteen hours straight. Tomorrow's a school day. Get some sleep.

Vaila: No can do, Dad. I'll die prematurely if I stop.

Vaila's Dad: Actually, you'll die prematurely if you don't.]

“The Puppet Mistress” is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 70,000 words. This story captures the complexities of gaming while adding an element of romance. [Romance between Cenric and Vaila? Is she sitting in front of her computer the whole time or is she physically wherever Cenric is?]

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to sharing the entire manuscript with you.

Sincerely,


Notes

I don't see why Vaila never realizes what a mistake it was to ignore the opening message on the video game, even when her life is on the line. I'd be thinking, Man I shoulda paid attention to that message.

I'm forced to wonder to what extent those who enjoy reading about knights battling monsters will be equally interested in the complexities of gaming. No doubt there's some crossover, but is there enough? Are the complexities of gaming merely touched on, or are they the main focus? Gamers might prefer playing the game to reading about someone else playing it, while non-gamers will want minimal gaming minutiae.

Cartoon 839

Caption: anon.

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