Saturday, June 30, 2012

Evil Editor Classics

Guess the Plot

Out of the Ice

1. Everything's hopping as Uvik and Druge inspire their fellow Greenlanders to play steel drums and reggae dance. The glaciers are melting and these citizens of the north must prepare to trade their dog sleds for surf boards. But will Rimba look as good in a bikini as she does in her seal parka? And what to do with all that mud?

2. In the late sixties, South African diamond mines produced millions of dollars of jewelry-grade stones. Ikthe N'kumbi, destitute, black and little more than a slave to the Rockwell Mining Company has a plan to escape his condition and cross the border into Mozambique a wealthy man. The only thing standing in his way is Rockwell's obsessive security, including an X-Ray machine and a team of inspectors with rubber gloves.

3. St. Angel, Quebec. Marc Bedard and his cousin Abel find a wooden box painted with strange writing in the pond ice where they play hockey. What will they unleash when it is opened?

4. When Chad Davies, lead singer of boy band, The Ice, breaks away in search of a solo career and commences his debut with the single "Girl, Just You" he doesn't expect success or people to hail him as a musical genius. Oddly, he gets both. And also a new horde of fans that breathe new life into the term "fanatical," including the conductor of an acclaimed symphony orchestra who begins to stalk Chad and make threats should Chad refuse a joint recording venture.

5. Dr. Norvitch and his colleague, Dr Gannen, have finally done the impossible: they've resurrected a baby wooly mammoth frozen in Siberia. Now they must protect their find from the government. Also, an autistic boy who speaks mammoth.

6. Anthropologist Dana West must become a detective when she finds herself at odds with the U.S. Navy and the government of Iceland. What is the deadly secret they don't want Dana to discover? Also, a police psychic.

Original Version

I hope you will consider my literary mystery set in Iceland, Out of the Ice, for publication. The novel emanates [Toss the thesaurus immediately.] from my three years of anthropological fieldwork in Iceland [When it dawns on you that you've just blown three years digging up Iceland and have nothing to show for it but a few bones, you have no choice but to write a novel.] and experience as a journalist and science writer. It is about 87,000 words.

What anthropologists do is unravel secrets, but for Dana West in Iceland, the mystery surrounding a human body found by a reindeer hunting guide in the melting ice of the great glacier, Vatnajokull, is most impenetrable. [Is that a reindeer who's also a hunting guide or a guide for reindeer hunters? I seem to recall reindeer being declared an endangered species in Iceland, so I hope it's the former.]

It may provide a definitive clue why the medieval Greenlanders disappeared, colleague Richard Eakin, lichenologist, tells her. [I'm no lichenologist, but I'm pretty sure anyone living in Greenland in medieval times either froze to death or caught the first boat south.] But that doesn't explain why the Icelandic government and the US Navy are hiding the frozen corpse. Or why a notorious medical anthropological sleuth has approached Dana for Iceland information. [Editorial tip: When you've got a character who's a notorious medical anthropological sleuth, don't bury him in paragraph 3.] [In fact, dump Dana West from the book and make the notorious medical anthropological sleuth the main character. Why? Because when this book hits it big and you decide to write another anthropological mystery, this one set on a dig in Turkey, you're not going to want a main character whose only experience is as a field worker in Iceland. You're going to want a notorious medical anthropological sleuth.] But it may be her ticket for a journey into the heart of Icelandic society.

Eakin warns her that a larger storm is coming and then he vanishes. Dana follows Eakin's path in Iceland with help from his research assistant, Ragnar, [If that was supposed to be a palindrome, you screwed up.] and a police psychic, Asta. [Apparently you just don't grasp the concept of the palindrome.] [Lichenologist, notorious medical anthropological sleuth, police psychic . . . does anyone in Iceland have a normal occupation?] Finally, a death on board an Icelandic fishing boat points her toward Eakin's location in Iceland.

[Ship captain: One of my crew members died.

Dana: That can mean only one thing: The lichenologist is in Seyðisfjörður.]

There she learns the significance of the body from the ice and why Eakin wanted her to have a role is in finding that out.

Dana is a naïve, but well-intended [intentioned?] person—acting at the insistent demand of a respected scholarly figure—who discovers (along with why Eakin disappeared) realities under the realities (such as why the romantic heart never replaced the intellectual liver in Iceland). [Get rid of that sentence before you're accused of causing editors' heads to explode.] As a detective, she is led around Hrobin's barn [You say that as if we all know what Hrobin's barn is.] by Asta, Ragnar, and Yngvar, the Reykjavik police chief. [If you can't walk around a barn without three people to guide you, I suggest investing in a good GPS.] Nothing is ever what it seems in the actions that take place in the darkest days of winter, December 1-25 in this northern corner of the planet. [I've never read the line "Nothing is ever what it seems" in a query and found myself unable to easily prove the author wrong.] [How many corners does the planet have?]

As she gradually discovers the deadly secret they are concealing (the body is infectious with a fifteenth century smallpox virus for which there is no vaccine), Dana becomes more and more of an insider there, something she achieves as a detective rather than as an anthropologist. [She's gradually morphing into a notorious medical anthropological sleuth.] This work tries to do for Iceland what Susanna Kaysen's Far Afield did for the Faroe Islands in presenting a picture of the present day country. [Am I showing my ignorance if I admit that not only have I never heard of that author or that book, I've never heard of the Faroe Islands?] I note that you have published one novel on medieval Iceland, Saga, by Jeff Janoda and I am hoping you will also be interested in a novel on the country today (Some people claim nothing has changed, but I would not go that far...) I think Out of the Ice would be popular with suspense/mystery fans who like exotic settings, book club readers, and the ever-growing number of Icelandophiles. [The number is now up to 23.]

I am an anthropologist who has published articles on my work in Iceland ________. My work there was supported by a Fulbright-Hays research grant and the Arctic Institute of North America. I have a doctorate in anthropology from SUNY, Stony Brook and I also have a graduate degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. I have done public health research at Brown University, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of the Health Sciences of the Uniformed Services in Bethesda, Maryland. [If you're applying for a job, you're hired.]

I worked as a science writer for The American Museum of Natural History and Scholastic Magazines (New York, New York) and Science Service (Washington, DC). I was a newspaper reporter for The Record in Bergen County, New Jersey.

I have a short story, "Hibernal Onding" in the online journal, A Long Story Short, August 2008. It will be print published in The Taj Mahal Review, December 2008 (with slight revision).

I thank you your attention and look forward to hearing from you.


This is too long; it needs to fit on one page. Most of your credits can go. You've worked as an anthropologist in Iceland, and have a graduate degree in public health. Those are your credentials. If you're also a notorious sleuth, you can add that.

Get rid of the psychic and the police chief and Hrobin's barn. Dana is the first scientist to examine the frozen guy. The government and the navy take him away before she's done with him, and she wants to know why. Teaming up with Eakin, she discovers that the body had smallpox.

Is that the mystery? Is there a murder? Who are the bad guys? We need bad guys and danger. Is the navy risking the release of the smallpox? Is it up to Dana to prevent this? What are these things that aren't as they seem?

Of course you did call it a "literary" mystery, but if you can get us unsophisticated mystery fans to want to read the book (which means you need to convince us there's an exciting mystery) you'll sell more copies than if your audience is just Icelandophiles.

Selected Comments

writtenwyrdd said...I have to second EE's comments. We need to be intrigued by the story, not your experiences or the characters. If this is a mystery, the query should state what the problem is your character has to solve.

benwah said...I'm puzzled as to how the body is discovered to have smallpox (unless it's quite well preserved and the lesions are visible). I wouldn't think it routine to test several hundred year old remains for such things.

Dave F. said...This is not so much mystery as thriller. The government and the military wants the smallpox as a weapon. Think of sending on of those "smart bombs" off and having it spray weaponized virulent smallpox on an unsuspecting town. People would die right and left and cause chaos. That's a first class terror weapon. And that is the obvious reason they whisk the body away.

Jennifer said...Benwah, if the person had smallpox, isn't it likely that he died from it? So if the body has been frozen and is only visible now because of the melting ice (is there a global warming element, too?) would the sores be preserved?

This query was hard to follow (and the copious, though hilarious, comments from EE didn't make it easier for me!) I am sure the query does not do the story justice. Right now it sounds interesting but convoluted.

I assume the MC becomes more proactive and that is part of the story, but right now she reads as dull and mousy to me.

Some of the writing needs tightening. Things like "What anthropologists do is unravel secrets..." Why not just, "Anthropologists unravel secrets, but..."

BuffySquirrel said...Being cautious about pathogens is a routine part of archaeological work. I remember a case here in the UK when it was decided not to proceed with a dig because of a risk of plague. So testing the body for smallpox doesn't seem that unreasonable to me.

150 said...Honestly? If an ancient corpse turns up with smallpox, I WANT my government to spring into action, contain it, and hide it from our enemies. So I sort of fail to see where they're acting improperly here.

talpianna said...
Smallpox virus is preserved at both the CDC and, no doubt, Fort Detrick; and bubonic plague is still endemic in certain places (notably among the Kaibab squirrels on one rim of the Grand Canyon); so neither one is incurable. I know a smallpox vaccine exists, and plague is actually quite curable--the tricky part is diagnosing it, since it's so rarely seen.
[Lichenologist, notorious medical anthropological sleuth, police psychic . . . does anyone in Iceland have a normal occupation?]

My Icelandic friend Sirry is a medical records clerk. Happy now, EE?

Overall, this is MUCH too complicated, especially for a fairly short book. You need to lose a lot of the characters and simplify the plotline.

And take a sauna.

Elissa M said...Don't give up, author. Submitting here was a good idea. Learn from EE and the minions.

wendy said...Enough already! I believe you. You're an expert! I love your story! The idea that a "a notorious medical anthropological sleuth" may play a major role along with a setting I know almost nothing about with a bit of death and possibly impending world destruction thrown in lights up all my nerd buttons.

(And yes, I am enthralled with the space program you couldn't already guess that.)

And I'm with Dave. Turn this into a thriller and sign me up for a copy. Btw, you're trying way too hard with your query, but the story looks great. Good luck!

Whirlochre said...I'm guessing anthropological fieldwork demands a degree of academic writing and I detect something of that style in your query — esp para 2.
So, in addition to shortening this considerably, I think you have to watch out for that formal tone getting in the way of the fiction.

writtenwyrdd said...On the argument of what the disease should/shouldn't be, I just have to say that for the query it may be better to leave the specifics out except for the fact that the body is carrying a germ/virus that can cause massive havoc. (Because you can see that some folks might pick at that point based on the posts here.) I'm sure the author has it all explained in the story itself.

BuffySquirrel said...Pick at things? Us? You must be confusing us with some other set of Evil Minions!

Phoenix said...Late to this and not sure if you're still checking here, author, but I'm in agreement with pretty much all the advice you've been given. (With the exception of nixing anything about the smallpox - just rewrite it more clearly, I think. It's a query, not a dissertation on virology.)

Based on what you've given us, this is how I would rewrite it to concentrate more on the story and less on your credentials (although the cred 'graph here is still, I think, a bit long).

Anthropologists unravel secrets -- it's what they're trained to do. But freshman researcher Dana West is having a tough time deciphering the mystery surrounding a human body found in the melting ice of Iceland's Vatnajokull glacier.

One minute Dana and her academic colleagues are examining the frozen body in hopes of discovering why medieval Greenlanders vanished from the area; the next, officials from the Icelandic government and the US Navy are flashing credentials and carting the corpse away. But that's only the beginning. Soon after a colleague, Richard Eakin, passes her a cryptic warning about an escalating government cover-up, he disappears.

Dana's search for the missing Eakin pits her against the Reykjavik police chief and her own university president as she battles Icelandic bureacracy for information. Then a suspicious death on board a fishing boat points her toward Eakin's whereabouts and reveals a deadly secret. The body from the glacier is carrying a 15th-century smallpox virus -- a virulent strain for which there's no vaccine. Can Dana trust the government to contain an outbreak or should she warn the populace? And has she herself been infected?

A gritty and realistic view of present-day Iceland in the vein of Susanna Kaysen's depiction of the Faroe Islands in Far Afield, OUT OF THE ICE is a mystery suspense, complete at 87,000 words.

In addition to a doctorate in anthropology and a graduate degree in public health, I have three years of anthropological field experience in Iceland. I've been employed as a science writer for The American Museum of Natural History and Scholastic Magazines and as a newspaper reporter for The Record in Bergen County, New Jersey. My short story, "Hibernal Onding" appears in the December 2008 issue of the The Taj Mahal Review.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to sending you more of OUT OF THE ICE.

Anonymous said...Wow! EE and his minions are the greatest! Now all I have to do is get those bad guys up and running so you will read the book!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Face-Lift 1042

Guess the Plot

Tears of an Angel

This book doesn't exist; the query comes from a writing exercise in which the task was to write a query based on one of the fake plots on this blog. Which should make choosing the correct plot more difficult than usual. [The top 3 titles in the query queue are for actual books, and await a few more fake plots.]

1. Felicity Miller is the closest thing to an angel on Earth, When she steps on a shell at the beach, her pain leads to tears which release the demon Canziel from his conch shell prison. Cranziel immediately sets out to make all of mankind suffer by cutting off their delicious supply of shellfish.

2. When her tears When a bad fall at the Regional Ice Skating Championships leaves 16-year-old Missy Watanabe in a wheelchair, it seems her dreams of Olympic glory are dashed forever...until she hears of a miracle cure from a weeping statue of Mary. Can she convince her family to make the trip to the highlands of Bolivia for a cure--and will a miracle really happen?

3. Da’miqua’s mother died when she was only 3. She was raised by her paternal grandmother while her father worked on an oil rig thousands of miles away to provide for his family. Now in her early 20’s the dad she barely knew moves in with her after a life-changing injury.

4. The new ladies-only pub in Tottenham is a roaring success, until beagle trainer Martha Pates is found buried in the garden. Worse, Inspector Ada Menzies suspects her own mother.

5. When someone steals the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Our Lady of Guadeloupe mission, crack detective Zach Martinez knows two things: the upcoming Tears of an Angel festival is in serious jeopardy, and he still owes some Hail Mary’s from his last confession.

6. As priests, nuns, and even the Pope's own guard rush to locate him, angel Michael must place his trust in neophyte nun Sister Mary Celeste, to return to Heaven and keep the most powerful relic of all – the tears of an angel – from falling into the wrong hands.

Original Version

The Millers have it all – wealth, a beautiful house, and the sweetest, most talented daughter anyone could ask for. That all changes the day their little angel, Felicity, trips over a seashell on vacation in the Florida Keys. For little do they know, but that seashell was planted on that particular beach just waiting for that particular angel to fall. And when Felicity’s tears of pain and grief land on the shell, the demon Cranziel is unleashed on the Earth.

Cranziel has been waiting centuries for this opportunity, ever since Saint Michael caught him attempting to break all the shells of all the shellfish in the world. For punishment, Cranziel was sentenced to spend the rest of eternity in a conch shell. The curse could only be broken if an angel sheds a tear for him, and the closest thing to an angel south of Heaven itself is Felicity Miller. Cranziel has been planting himself in her path ever since he felt her step foot on his beach, and his luck has finally paid off. The girl falls, scrapes her knee in the sand, and cries all over his pink prison. [She cried on the shell at the end of the previous paragraph; no need to repeat it.]

Now he’s free, angry, and determined to make all of mankind suffer by cutting off the delicious and lucrative supply of shellfish, starting with the fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Unfortunately for him, the Miller family’s fortune is derived from shrimp fishing in southern Louisiana, and Felicity is very fond of the ponies and hair ribbons her parent’s [parents'] business affords her. Not to mention the shoes. She’s not about to let it all go without a fight. She’s seen every episode of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” at least three times, and she’s ready to take on evil wherever it lurks. If that means taking out some scumbag of a shell-breaking demon, she’s up for the fight. Armed with a sledgehammer and steel-toed boots, she’s in the mood to crack some shells of her own.

Tears of an Angel is a 666,000 word memoir, told through diary entries, culled from my own experiences of demon hunting in the America South.

I look forward to hearing from you. If not, well . . . I know how to deal with demons wherever I find them.


Obviously the author doesn't need comments about the plot. It's possible the author would like constructive comments on the query. Or not. Depends on if this was done for practice or just for laughs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Face-Lift 1041

Guess the Plot

Hillary the Heroic

1. The Iraqis hate the Iranians, the Turks don’t care for the Syrians, and nobody likes North Korea. In her final days as Secretary of State, can Hillary bring everyone together under an umbrella of lasting world peace, harmony, and acceptance, finally becoming... Heroic?

2. Ten year old Hillary Rodham is an expert problem solver. Little brother won't stop pestering you? Your cat stuck up a tree? Hillary the Heroic is there to help. Follow the antics of the plucky young girl who dreams of one day becoming the Secretary of State.

3. Hillary quit the superhero business years ago and became a secretary. No, not the Secretary of State. A different Hillary. Now her husband is having a midlife crisis and wants to be a superhero. I said, not that Hillary. Then there's the teenage supervillain whose father thinks she's just going through a phase, and wants Hillary's help. All in a day's work for . . . Hillary the Heroic.

4. Hillary is the toughest tomboy of P.S. 31. But now in the 3rd grade a new girl joins the school. Can Hillary prove she still is the most heroic?

5. A teen in Bujumbura strikes up a pen pal relationship with a writer in Oslo. When Aimee discovers that Bergliot has been using her life in a series of children's books, she plans an epic trip to confront the woman who stole her life.

6. Hillary makes her living as a hero for hire in a small village near Córdoba, Spain. However, her life is turned upside down when a spelling error attracts the attention of the Spanish Inquisition. Who knew replacing an "o" with "et" could cause so much trouble?

The following query was labeled a practice query by the author. It's not one of the fakes (we had the opening a while back,) but the book may not be complete. Author?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Hillary Dervish likes being a secretary. After her years of fighting crime as a masked super heroine, she likes the slower pace of civilian life. But when Declan Goodman’s teenage daughter Desdemona turns into a super villain, she [Hillary] agrees to help out. After all, she’s survived not only criminals, but also three teenagers. [You should identify Declan: Neighbor? Boss? Complete stranger?]

Declan is convinced that Des’s villainy is just a phase. He wants Hillary to talk some sense into the girl before another superhero drags her off to prison, where he fears she’ll turn into a serious, dangerous villain. But Hillary’s fiery powers have been a little out of whack lately…ever since she hit those pesky middle-age years.

Then Hillary gets hit with a new problem. Her husband suffers a midlife crisis and decides that he wants to be a superhero too. And who better to take down than [what better way to prove his mettle/start his career than to take down] the new teenage villainess?

My publishing credits include several pieces on your blog, and a trilogy published on Facebook and "liked" by all of my friends. [At least you put your credits in the right order, although the second one isn't worth including.] Please consider my 600,000 word fantasy magnum opus for immediate publication and a Nobel.



Good voice for a comedic story. Where does this book stand?

The first sentence is blah. We don't need to know she's a secretary. After years of fighting crime as a masked super heroine, Hillary Dervish is eager to settle into civilian life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Face-Lift 1040

Guess the Plot

Appalachian Trail

1. Hank always wanted to go on the great American road trip after high school. But all he could afford was a bike ride up the mountains of Tennessee.

2. 101 recipes featuring nuts and berries. Also, up-to-date hiking maps.

3. Divyanga Singh is working toward his Masters in Computer Science. To relax, he spends his weekends coding “Appalachian Trail,” a sequel to the cult classic computer game “Oregon Trail.” When Appalachian Trail becomes a hit on campus, Div suddenly becomes very popular with the ladies. But what will he tell his parents, busy arranging a marriage for him back in Delhi?

4. Biff Hardcastle’s Eagle Scout troop is hiking the Shenandoahs from Otter Creek to Humpback Rocks. Little do they know that Tara Lustig’s Girl Scouts are hiking from Humpback Rocks to Otter Creek. Will everyone be prepared when they meet on the... Appalachian Trail?

5. They thought it was just an 80's era computer game meant to teach them American history. But when an electric surge sucks Mikey, Diego, and Kim into the past, they'll be glad they learned so much about geography, the importance of proper supplies, and dysentery.

6. Hiking the Appalachian Trail was supposed to help Nate forget about his tragic past. Instead he keeps running into other hikers who are also trying to forget their tragic pasts and who insist on evaluating and reevaluating their tragic pasts and comparing them with Nate's tragic past.

Original Version

Nate Townsend is hiking the Appalachian Trail, but not for adventure or challenge -- he’s walking to escape. With each mile, he steps further away from the people and tragic cascade of events that took away his wife and young daughter, and yet the memories continue to torment him. [I can't tell if the tragic cascade of events was Nate's affair with a Bulgarian dockworker, after which his wife left him, taking their daughter, or if it was Nate refusing to carry out a hit on Carlo Gambino's wife and daughter, after which Nate's mob boss had Nate's wife and daughter killed. Or something else entirely.] As he crosses paths with other hikers and townspeople, each carrying their own humorous quirks and emotional scars, [Apparently no one hikes this trail for adventure or challenge. A therapist could set up a practice on the Appalachian Trail and retire young.] Nate is forced to reevaluate his flight and confront his past trauma. [Question for discussion: Do you have to evaluate your flight before you can reevaluate it?] Through a series of flashbacks, the cause of his tortured pilgrimage is revealed. [If only one or two of these flashbacks were in the query.] With the help of one very special woman who joins his journey, Nate must make a climactic decision about his trail’s end. [What are his choices?]

I would love for you to represent my first novel, APPALACHIAN TRAIL, a 98,000-word work of commercial fiction.

A native Southerner recently relocated to New York City, I honed my writing skills for 15 years [while trying to find my way off the Appalachian Trail.] as a newspaper reporter and editor, including at The Oak Ridger (Tenn.), Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal, Florence (S.C.) Daily News.

I thank you for considering representing APPALACHIAN TRAIL and I look forward to your response.


One could get the impression you're trying to be as vague as possible. All these phrases refer to the same thing: tragic cascade of events, memories, his past trauma, the cause of his tortured pilgrimage. How about just telling us what happened so we can sympathize with (or blame) the guy?

This sounds like literary fiction. If it were commercial fiction you wouldn't have so much trouble coming up with a few intriguing plot points.

Here's how I think the book goes: Nate gets on the Trail in Georgia and soon encounters Boston Bill, who's hiking south to forget the tragic juggling accident that cost him his left leg. In North Carolina Nate runs into Lou, who has Tourette's Syndrome and is hiking to forget his one great love, his ventriloquist's dummy. Somehow this forces Nate to reevaluate his flight, whatever that means. Then in Virginia he meets Alison, and she convinces him to hike north to New York, exit the Trail, and become a novelist.

If you don't want me to think that's what happens, you need to provide more specifics about what does happen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Face-Lift 1039

Guess the Plot

Cassandra of the Crescent Moon

1. You won't find a house of ill-fame with a better reputation than The Crescent Moon. That is, until Kitty Kimberly decides to start throwing in free fortune-telling with her other services, and the prophecies start coming true with alarming regularity.

2. When your mom is half-vampire, half-werewolf, your dad is part were-tiger, part were-whale and part-nosferatu, 'that time of the month' takes on a whole new meaning.

3. Cassandra is 1/4th werewolf. This means she becomes a disgruntled dog on the night of the crescent moon. After her werewolf grandmother dies Cassandra  becomes the pack leader. Can she lead a pack of over 100 werewolves when she isn’t really one of them?

4. Cassandra is a witch, which is against the law, so she lives in isolation. But she'll have to expose herself if she wants to rescue her grandmother from kidnappers. Although her grandmother's also a witch, so maybe she can rescue herself. Also, a talking dog and cat.

5. For months Nina's been trying to warn Crescent Colony that Earth plans to take over their profitable Moon base, but no one will listen. Is her only recourse to perform classic Greek tragedy in the cafeteria?

6. Every new moon, Althea gets a true vision of what's going to happen over the next month. It never involves Karten falling in love with her. Can she use a steam clock, a brass hygrometer, and pixie dust to convince Karten a) her visions are true and b) he should ask her out?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When twelve year old [12-year-old] Cassandra Kelly wakes after the car accident that killed her parents, she finds herself in a strange house in the woods. [Was she in the car when the accident occurred?] Cassie is stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no TV, no internet, [Internet] no phone, [Kill me now.] and no one but a strange old lady (seriously, who doesn't have a phone?) [You gotta have a phone. In an emergency you gotta be able to reach Dominos.] to keep her company.

The strange old lady is Nan, the grandmother Cassie never knew existed, and, as Cassie soon discovers, the two of them share a family secret. [You wake in a strange house in the middle of nowhere and a strange old lady says, "Your parents are dead. You can call me granny. I know you'd like to confirm what I'm saying, but I have no means of communication and your cell phone gets no bars out here." And you accept this?]

This secret is the reason for their isolation. Nan and Cassie are witches, in a place where witchcraft is not only illegal, but witches are hunted down by a secret group known as the Alchemists. [You'd think if it's illegal, they'd be hunted down by an out-in-the-open group known as the Authorities.] When a fellow witch betrays their location to the Alchemists, Nan is kidnapped and Cassie is left to make the dangerous journey to town with only the help of Nan's pets – a cat and dog who can talk to witches.

[Cat: The foodgiver's been kidnapped. Who's gonna feed us?

Dog: We must rescue the foodgiver. Wait, maybe the newhuman can be the foodgiver.]

Once in town, Cassie must harness her growing magical powers to find the traitor and rescue Nan before anyone else gets hurt. [Anyone else besides...?]

CASSANDRA OF THE CRESCENT MOON is a stand alone MG realistic fantasy, [Yes, it has witches, talking animals and an old lady with no TV, but other than that it's realistic.] with series potential. It is complete at approximately 71,000 words.

I am an associate member of SCBWI. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Why didn't the kidnappers take Cassie?

What's dangerous about the journey to town?

Does Cassie know her parents are dead? 

I assume Nan is a more experienced witch than Cassie, so why can't she make the kidnappers disappear or turn them into toads?

Most of these questions can be answered by adding a few words to a sentence. It'll add specificity to the query.

Nothing is gained by calling this realistic.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Face-Lift 1038

Guess the Plot

Princess of Swans

1. One word, people: were-swans. YOU'RE WELCOME.

2. Gina has always felt like the ugliest of ducklings. Now 27, she still hasn’t become a “swan.” With only 6 months until her best friend’s wedding she vows to be a princess of swans . . . if it’s the last thing she does.

3. Little Amberly is thrilled when a flock of swans settle into the pond at the neighborhood park. But that's before they start crapping all over the play equipment and chasing tiny children away from their territory. Turns out wild swans don't really want a princess.

4. When a witch turns Michael into a swan - a girl swan - the last thing he wants is anyone turning him back. But to hide, he's going to have to fly off the beaten migration path.

5. Taunted as a child, Cygnet never fit in. When she finally discovers the truth of her parentage, Cygnet rises to claim her birthright. Not only can ugly ducklings grow up to be swans – they can grow up to be princesses too.

6. The king of Amgovar keeps his disfigured daughter imprisoned in a tiny castle. Who wants to look at that face every day? But when her marriage to the prince of a neighboring kingdom is foretold, the princess escapes and goes to win her husband. Of course, he hasn't actually seen her yet... Plus, prophesies don't always come true, right?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Princess Feyana Belmaron may be heir to the throne of Amgovar, but she’s no man’s idea of a prize.  For ten years, the king has confined his dark-skinned, disfigured daughter to a tiny, outland castle to shield her from the perils of court. [Readers are going to wonder what dark skin has to do with anything. My research reveals that the ugly duckling in Andersen's The Ugly Duckling was merely ugly, not dark-feathered. In fact, in cartoon versions, the ugly duckling is white, while the other ducklings are yellow.] The high stone walls protect Feyana from every danger but the one she fears most -- loneliness. [Doesn't she have a lady-in-waiting? Or at least one of those talking mirrors that tells her how fair she is?]

But when an injured volkarei foretells Feyana‘s marriage to the crown prince of Amgovar’s bitterest enemy, she upends the princess’s quiet life for good. [No wonder she's lonely if her only companion is an injured volkarei.] [Also, what's a volkarei? The closest Google can find is a Volkswagen beetle.] Such a marriage would not only free her from her isolation, but permanently end the war. [War? There's a war?] There’s only one catch: the prince likely has no idea Feyana exists, and prophecies aren’t always what they seem… [That's two catches.]

Unwilling to leave her people’s fate to chance, Feyana escapes her castle prison and ventures out to win the prince.  It won’t be easy. Pirates, soldiers, and thugs fill her path, all eager to get their hands on (or blades in) a renegade princess.  One of her newfound allies is a traitor; the other hides a dangerous secret. [Nice job of choosing allies, Princess. Reminds me of when Italy hooked up with Nazi Germany.] Even her prince may prove a threat. [Especially when he gets a look at her.] To save her country, the sheltered Feyana must first save herself -- and Dal help the monster who stands in her way. [Monster? There's a monster? ]

PRINCESS OF SWANS is a 105,000 word YA fantasy.  Thank you for your consideration.


Usually we say Dal help anyone who stands in her way. Is there a monster? If there's a monster, Feyana may yet have a shot at true love. Also, monsters belong in the first sentence, not the last. Something like: Princess of Swans is the story of a woman only a monster could love; conveniently, there happens to be a monster in the book.

Is this a take on The Ugly Duckling? It sounds more like a take on Beauty and the Beast. Where do the swans come in? In any case, it does sound like a fairy tale, and if it's really for a YA audience, you may need to make it sound more grown-up.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Evi Editor Classics

If we're going to call these trips down memory lane "Classics," it just wouldn't be right not to include the very first Face-Lift to appear on the blog . . . especially as a search for the title reveals that it's available from Amazon, as are numerous other books the author now has out. Although she didn't inform us that we were responsible for her success, she undoubtedly felt that went without saying.

Guess the Plot

Par for the Course

1. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Sam tries to kill two birds with one stone by taking the bull by the horns. He soon learns, though, that run-of-the-mill problems like his are just a part of life, all in a day's work . . . Par for the Course.

2. When Belinda "Birdie" Winters meets her soulmate after hours at the 19th hole, he bends her over the bar.

3. Policewoman Vanessa Grute wants nothing more than to nab the gay albino who murdered her conjoined Siamese twin--until she falls head over heels in love with him.

4. A columnist writing a story on golf course romances, wrangles a trip to a golf resort for "research," never mentioning to her editor that it's the home course of the professional golfer she has a crush on.

5. Running marathons seemed like a good way for Terry Par to change her life. But when a rash of on-course killings hits the amateur marathon circuit, she wonders if she made the right decision.

6. Serial killer Herbert Hawkins takes his victims on golfing holidays and bludgeons them to death, each with a different club. Can Detective Paris stop him before he goes through his entire bag?

Original Version

When Jillian Welch learns women are the fastest growing market in the global golf industry, [This is relevant if she's writing for Golf Trade Magazine.] she grabs onto the fact with both hands [like she's hitting a 4-iron out of the rough]. Golf courses have become the new singles bar – a place where men and women of similar backgrounds can meet up. [Men and women who golf, anyway.] Jillian uses this truth to convince her editor to let her write her Dating Diva column about the phenomenon [I wouldn't think she would need to convince her editor, as long as the subject is dating; perhaps on paying for a trip to a distant golf course]. Never mentioning what she really wants to do is fan an old flame.

Just once is all it will take for Jillian Welch to stop obsessing about her college crush and move on with her life. [Just once doing what? Dating? Kissing? Evaluating her college crush's skill with a driver?] Ben Cannon is just a man after all [Ben Cannon? Just a man? You must be thinking of a different Ben Cannon], and once he disappoints her as all men do, she’ll be able to get him out of her head for good. [Same thing you said in the previous sentence.] Except every move he makes is the right one, in bed and out of it, making Jillian wonder if leaving [If, by "leaving" you mean "moving on," say so; or do you mean leaving town and going home?] is the right thing to do after all… [I'm thinking this paragraph should be swapped with the next one.]

There’s something familiar about the columnist who arrives at his [It's his?] golf course to write about how the clubhouse is the new singles bar. Ben’s only felt this magnetic pull once before, [So is it the columnist or the magnetic pull that's familiar?] for a bespectacled brunette who kissed him, then ran away. The platinum blonde from New York couldn’t be more different. Confident, poised, and hitting on him like crazy - is she interested in him, or looking for fodder for her Dating Diva column? [Like any guy would care which it is.]

PAR FOR THE COURSE is a sensual romance about the one who got away. Currently, I have three other novels under consideration with different publishers: Come For Dinner, full manuscript requested by Mills and Boon; If You Say So, partial manuscript with Harlequin; and Breaking His Rules, full manuscript with Avon. Mills and Boon will publish my debut romance novel, Just One Spark, in May 2006. [This is more impressive than those other credits; put it first. And don't bother with the others.] I can immediately send you [the] complete manuscript. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Revised Version

When Jillian Welch learns that golf courses have become the new singles scene, she convinces her editor to fly her to Myrtle Beach, where she can research the phenomenon for her Dating Diva column -- never mentioning to her editor that what she really wants to do is fan an old flame.

There’s something wildly enchanting about the columnist who arrives at Ben Cannon's favorite golf course. Ben’s felt this magnetic pull only once before, for a bespectacled brunette who was nothing like this platinum blonde from New York. Confident, poised . . . and hitting on him like crazy--is she really interested in him, or merely seeking fodder for her Dating Diva column?

Just one wrong move from Ben, one more disappointment, and Jillian can finally stop obsessing about her college crush, leave town, and get on with her life. Except, every move Ben makes is the right one, both in bed and out of it, until Jillian begins to wonder if leaving is what she wants to do after all.

Par for the Course is a sensual romance about the one who got away. My debut romance novel, Just One Spark, will be published by Mills and Boon in May 2006. I would be pleased to send you the complete manuscript of Par for the Course.

A stamped envelope is enclosed for your reply. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



It's not clear whether Ben owns, is the pro, or just plays at "his" golf course. Nor is it clear how Jillian knows where to find him. I found this slightly bothersome; if others do, you might change the first paragraph to something like:

When Jillian Welch learns that golf courses have become the new singles scene, she decides to devote her Dating Diva column to the phenomenon. And when she discovers that her college crush, Ben Cannon, is the new golf pro at the Myrtle Beach Country Club, she convinces her editor to fly her to South Carolina, for "research."

This would require some minor changes in the other paragraphs, like not using the term "college crush" again, etc.

Selected Comments

Tawny Taylor said...Fantastic feedback! That wasn't just a critique, IMO, it was a full edit. The new version is tight and compelling. Can't wait to read the feedback on the other queries.

j Henley said...Damn, Evil...I can't wait to read mine. You out snark the Snark.

Blogger JENNA said...I found this very helpful. Specifically because it's mine of course. Thanks for not just what's not working, but how to make it work.

born_liar said...
There's a singer named Gillian Welch, so a change to the name might be in order.

Fabian Trunz said...
This is some amazing feedback, I'm impressed! (Not that you'd need to hear it)

I guess this means I have to read your entire Blog... Good thing that what you're writing is not just poignant but also entertaining. Can't wait to read more. Which I will be doing right now, of course.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Evil Editor Classics

Guess the Plot

Murder 101: Intro- duction to Death

1. Belinda wants to take “Murder 345: Icepicks”, but she’s missing a prerequisite. Will they waive it if she kills the Albanian groutman who’s been servicing her?

2. A college psychology professor attempts to keep the evil side of his dual personality a secret from his students, but when he morphs into a panther during his lecture on sexual fantasies, the cat's out of the bag.

3. Twins Lottie and Trudy were working together to solve a murder at Florida State--until friction developed when they both fell for hunky homicide detective Mark Hardigan.

4. A handicapped professor of religious studies at Notre Dame plots the murder of a student he believes to be the Antichrist.

5. When pretty girls start dying in ways similar to the characters in novels they're reading in Literary Theory class, Kansas State freshman Cassie Wilson starts to wonder about her classmates.

6. Aaron Acker never expected his humorous novel to be a bestseller, and he REALLY didn't expect crowds to show up at his doorstep, wanting his autograph, writings tips--and quite possibly his life.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Claire Daley, a visiting alumna, is thrown off a balcony at Florida State University, professor Lottie Naylor [Anagram: Tony Orlando.] knows she shouldn’t get involved. After all, the dean’s fed up with her constant distractions, and she’s got enough trouble just keeping herself off the unemployment line. But a student, Patrice, is accused of the murder, and she believes Lottie’s famous intuition can solve the case. [Or at the very least, come up with her last name. "I have no idea who killed Claire, but I have a feeling your last name is Popovich. Patrice Popovich.] [Lottie's intuition is so famous, they're making a TV series about all the cases she solves. At the end of each episode she calls all the suspects into her living room, serves them cookies, and then says, "You did it, Jane Marstairs!" Jane breaks into sobbing and confesses. Then the cops ask Lottie how she knew, and Lottie says, "I just had a feeling."] ["I just had a feeling" is her end-of-the-episode catch phrase, like "Book'm, Dano" on Hawaii 5-0. She always looks directly into the camera when she says I just had a feeling. Then she winks.] [The show will be titled, Murder, She Felt.]

With the help of her spiky-haired twin, Trudy (who won’t take “butt out” for an answer), Lottie digs into the lives of her friends and colleagues: [Shouldn't she be digging into the lives of Claire Daley's friends and colleagues, instead of her own?] lecherous professor Huck Patterson; [A lecherous professor named Huck? Wonder what the women call him.] [Huck didn't do it; too obvious. He's the one we're supposed to think did it.] image-obsessed Dean Charles Whitney; [He didn't do it; he's needed as the foil in the sequel.] sad-eyed security guard Carlos Ortega; [No motive. Plus, if you make the Latino guy guilty, you'll need to find a new lawn guy.] and Daryl Crain, creepy student and perennial loser at love. [He did it. He's been harboring a grudge against Claire since he was ten years old and she refused to let him go near her daughter.] [Oops, I should have given a spoiler alert. Oh well, it's not like I know for certain that Daryl did it. I just have a feeling.] Working together begins to heal a rift between the twins, but that changes when they set their sights on the same man: homicide detective Mark Hardigan. [Seriously? Hardigan? You may as well go all the way and change his first name to Dick.] [I typed "Evil Editor" into the porn star name generator and it gave me Lex Cream. Then, just as an experiment, I typed in Dick Hardcock. It returned Sergeant Diggler.] Tension rises as Lottie tries to pin down both the murderer and Hardigan’s heart.

Before she knows it, Lottie’s in deep [I think you mean Dick's in deep.] -- pursued by the killer, battling her twin, and drawn into a web of lies ten years old. When she uncovers a decade-old murder made to look like a suicide, she realizes Claire was killed as revenge for that death. But did Claire’s murderer hit the right target? Or is there still another killer on the loose? [No wonder Lottie is famous for her intuition, if she correctly guesses that Claire was killed as revenge for a 10-year-old murder she didn't even commit.]

Murder 101: Introduction to Death is a cozy mystery of 65,000 words with series potential. [Do Lottie and Trudy fight over a different detective each book? Wait, Lottie wins Hardigan's heart in book 1, but in book 2, Trudy pretends to be Lottie and seduces Hardigan! Yes, I know it's been done to death, but when book 3 comes out and Hardigan talks Lottie into a three-way with Trudy, you'll be setting new sales records. I just have a feeling.] I have enclosed the first five pages. May I send you a partial or full manuscript? Thank you very much for your time and consideration.



It seems unlikely a visiting alumna would be wanted dead by the dean, a security guard, a professor, and two students. Well-done if you managed to give all of them believable motives.

What are these constant distractions the dean is fed up with? Is Lottie constantly walking into the office of the dean of a major university to report what her intuition tells her? 

Selected Comments

Anonymous said...Does anyone else find "Guess the Plot" suggestion #4 strangely compelling?

Rei said...I do. I could easily picture it with a creepy title like "I Have Such A Pretty Gun".

bonniers said...I find #4 highly ingriguing, too. Hmmmmm. I would buy this book if I ran across it on the shelves when I was looking for a mystery.
udvad said...I'm another vote for #4 as an awesome story idea. The actual plot outlined in the query sounds neat, too.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Beginning 959

Tiki Bob preferred to work alone.

Perhaps “preferred” was too mild a word. He insisted.

Which was why, when Kandy Kane’s mutilated body was found under a massive pile of sawdust in the backyard where he created his masterpieces, Bob was the obvious suspect and arrested on the spot.

The usual Tuesday night crowd at the Main Street Wine Bar was outraged.

“It’s impossible!” declared one patron. “He loved the heck out of that girl. Everyone knows that.”

“Bob wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said another. “I say that because I’ve actually seen him catch a fly in his house and take it outside to release it. You’d never guess it from looking at the man, but he’s sure got quick hands.”

Even mild-mannered former judge James Cartwright had a few choice words to say. “The cop’s are friggin’ idiots on this one. If I were still on the bench and this case came up in front of me, I’d give ‘em a tongue lashing that’d sting their rear ends for months! And that idiot D.A. for even allowing it!”

I sat on a wine barrel bar stool, dangling my short legs, sipping a Fresita and listening to the chatter.

That's when Tiki Bob walked in. "I wanna thank all you boozers," he said as he made the rounds shaking everyone's hand. "Between you guys and my Twitter followers, there was so much support for me, the cops let me go. They picked up a homeless guy instead."

We all applauded as Bob left the bar. It was then that a bunch of us noticed we were missing our wallets. Yep, Bob's still got them quick hands.

Opening: Lisa Hurley.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writing Exercise

The current lack of queries leads me to take desperate measures: A query-writing exercise.

1. Go to this random number generator and generate a random number from 1 to 1037.

2. Locate the Face-Lift that corresponds with that number in the archives of this blog.

3. Choose any one of the fake plots (make sure it's not the real plot) and write a query letter for that book.

4. As we already have fake plots for the original title, come up with a better title so we can play Guess the Plot with your query letter.

5. Hurry up. We're dying here.

New Beginning 958

It was 10:30 and we were halfway through the quarterly meeting when my clothing combusted. Several people gasped, and Celine Carter started giggling. I just stood up, dumped my cup of water down the front of my pantsuit, grabbed my briefcase, and said, “Excuse me.” Jennings pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand and waved me out with the other. 

I fumed all the way to the bathroom, clothes sizzling and the whole office gawking. Maddening. Just maddening. I’d always heard menopause was painful for super heroines, but this? This was humiliating! This was my third pantsuit in a week to explode; the second in a month to explode during a meeting.

I shucked off the ashy pantsuit and pulled a skirt and blouse from my briefcase. As I struggled into the new outfit, I called my husband on my cell.

“Jeff? I need an asbestos wardrobe!”

Jeff sighed. “Oh, sweetie. The flame retardant didn’t help?”

“No! I had a hot flash, and my clothes blew up. Again! It’s just…it’s so frustrating.”

“Maybe we could get Edna to make something for you? She dresses all the hip you--hip superheroes, doesn’t she? Or, wait, maybe we can just pull your old suit out of the attic!”

I huffed into the phone. “Even if I could fit into it, which I seriously doubt, I’d like to remind you that when I wore that thing, I only shot fire from my hands. It won’t do anything against a full body hot flash!”

“You could always quit your job and just sit around the house naked.”

* * * 

Jesus H. Christ!" Stan hollered. "I Know I said we needed a female superhero in our comics line, and that I wanted it written by a woman, but issue 1 was breast feeding in public, issue 2 was that time of the month, and now menopause?! Firebabe has yet to take on a single villain!" 

 "But Boss," Chatsworth replied, "it's outselling Spiderman and Superman. It's the hottest title in comics." 

"I know, I know. It just feels wrong." 

"Not to worry, Boss. Next month Firebabe faces her toughest foe yet. The shoe salesman from hell, known as . . . The Misogynist!"

"Now you're talking." 

 Opening: Rachel Roy......Continuation: Evil Editor

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Beginning 957

I initiate in a large, dark room. Muffled calls echo like sound waves under water. I smell butter and salt…popcorn? A beam of light blinds me and then the dream shifts into startling clarity. A dark, crowded room – no a tent. A huge tent. With carnival music.

Am I being fed to the lions again?

Inwardly, I shudder, then notice my wrists and ankles strapped to the large round board behind me.

What new hell is this?

Amanda Huggins steps into the ring. Twin ponytails bob above her shoulders as she beams at the shadowy crowd and then bows with a flourish. Her fire-engine red jacket, a modified coat and tails, glimmers with sequins and jewels above matching shorts and slick black boots.

“Ladeeeees and gennnnntlemennnnn!” A man’s voice drawls over the loudspeaker, “Introducing the Amaaaaazing Amaaaaandaaaa! A master of the Impalement Arts, Amanda will demonstrate her daring skill with deadly accuracy by throwing twelve razor-sharp blades at her assistant! Due to the potentially lethal nature of this act, I must ask for your complete silence.”

The blond-haired, blue-eyed cheerleader from school holds three daggers aloft and faces me.

Wake up wake up wake up!

 I scream, but no one in this dream can hear me. I can’t move. I can’t beg. I can’t breathe. I can’t even close my eyes.

Amanda takes a step back and then hurls a machete at my face.

* * *

As the credits roll, Josie can't help but think that Hunger Games II seemed a little rushed.

Opening: PLaF.....Continuation: Anon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Face-Lift 1037

Guess the Plot

Going Sunside

1. Myri Has lived her whole life in the underground. She longs to see the Earth's surface. But when she and her robot Bot sneak up via the garbage pipe, Miri is thrown in jail and Bot is taken away and disassembled to create an army of robots the surface dwellers will use to conquer the underground. The grass is always greener...

2. After eons of waiting for rescue on the dark side of the moon, survivors of an intergalactic spaceship crash hike around to the sunside, where, for the first time, they see Planet Earth. Hopes for salvation turn to despair when no one's cell phone gets any bars.
3. Unsteady barfly Myles "The Gulper" Standish realizes he must move on to Career Plan B when his under-the-table activities are revealed, but what's a lush to do? He staggers out of the pub into shockingly bright sunshine just in time to collide with a donkey cart loaded with Bibles.

4. When Joe Quincey, the 47 year old couch potato, emerges from his parents' basement to celebrate the 4th of July, he gets a crush on Judy Walsh, the barmaid who lives next door, and starts building a spaceship so they can elope to Mars. Plus, her crazy ex-husband and fireworks.

5. After hiding on the Darkside of the great Martian moon for 27 years, the operatic alien horde sneaks to the Sunside with ambitions to take over the red planet. But then they encounter Screaming Mimi, the scantily-clad space goddess, her sidekick Thor Jones, astronaut, and a dragon that spits radioactive fireballs.

6. When his vampiric existence becomes unbearable Jadlock the Terrible crawls from the crypt at dawn, fully expecting to perish at sunrise, but he's in Scotland and the clouds are too bloody thick to let sunlight through so he just lies there until Loretta, the sternest meter maid in Glasgow, comes along. Hilarity ensues.

7. When the body of New York restaurant critic Joel Bernstein is found impaled on a rotisserie outside the Sunside BBQ, detective Zack Martinez knows two things: One, Bernstein wasn't here for the cole slaw, and two, ribs sound pretty good for Father's Day.

8. One side of the planet Zeon always faces its sun and the other is always in darkness. Because one side is frozen and the other is scorched, the colonies are in the band between. But smugglers are operating in the Sunside. Homicides are up and Kevin MacNaugh must organize a police force to patrol the Sunside.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Eleven-year-old Myri is an engineering apprentice living in the Deep. She longs to leave the subterranean dampness and the endless dark tunnels and go Sunside, which she imagines is a paradise. Unfortunately, it’s one to which her people aren't generally invited. But Myri gets her chance: she's ordered to the Sunside temple on an emergency plumbing mission. Her boss even lets her take Bot, the last functioning Old Earth robot and Myri’s best friend. [If I have a plumbing emergency and they send an 11-year-old girl, I'm sending her away, getting on the phone and specifically demanding a fat guy with the top of his ass crack showing. I want the job done right.] [What, all plumbers live in the Deep?]

Toilets don’t stay broken forever, though, [Actually, the one in my hall hasn't worked since the night of my colonoscopy prep. Forty years of cheese danishes will stop you up.] [I tried to have it fixed, but the last plumber who opened the bathroom door has been in a coma for six years.] and Myri and Bot are sent back to the Deep. But she can’t just say goodbye to her new Sunside friends, so a few days later she and Bot sneak back up via garbage pipe. [I don't care how good a friend you are; if you come to visit me via garbage pipe, I'm not opening the door.] But when Bot and Myri are caught, they’re both thrown in jail -- or so Myri believes.

With a little bit of Deepfolk engineering -- and the help of her new Sunside friends -- Myri escapes her cell to find Bot. But he’s not in a cell. He’s in the lab. Where the Sunsiders plan to take him apart and use him to create an army of robots. After a quick escape and a high-dive into the sea, Bot reveals that [robots don't float. And they rust.] the Sunsiders plan to use their robots to take over the Deep and "remove" the Deepfolk. [What?! Who's gonna fix their toilets now?] Myri must use everything she’s learned about the Sunsiders and everything she knows about Bot to stop the Sunsiders’ army and save her home. [When you live on the wrong end of the garbage pipe, is it really worth saving your home?]

I hope you will consider representing GOING SUNSIDE, a 50 000 word middle grade science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


There must be some reason Sunside wants to remove the Deepfolk. Like they are mortal enemies. But if they're enemies, why would the Deep be on-call to fix Sunside toilets? It sounds more like the Deepfolk are servants or slaves. But the haves never remove the have-nots; they need them under their thumbs. It's the have-nots who rebel against the haves. Apparently the Deep has something Sunside wants, or Sunside considers them a threat. In other words...

If there's an explanation of why Sunside is building an army of robots to take over the place they send their garbage and sewage, maybe that should be worked into the query.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Evil Editor Classics

Five-Star Fakes, Part 2 
(scroll down two posts for part 1.

5. The Gods of Lesser Things

1. Smerach, God of Paintchips, has lost the Holy Flame, and unless he gets it back by nightfall he will be stripped of his powers. Helping him are Ula, Goddess of The Random Bits of Plastic You Find in the Junk Drawer, and Farelious, God of Pants.

2. The old gods are no longer hot, so they try to hasten the end of the world. But they didn't count on Bruce, who has the ability to rewind time.

3. The gods of carpet stains, broken chalk, and hangnails have tormented mankind long enough. Bob resolves to destroy them all, before the Earth implodes.

4. Diarrhea and Eczema watched as Aphrodite floated down for another hot encounter with a mortal. Eczema was itching to get her hands on a mortal for some fun and games. "Gotta run," 'Rhea said.

5. Whhir, the god of eggbeaters, is trying to organize his fellow deities into the Amalgamated Brotherhood of the Gods of Lesser Things and strike for better burnt offerings and a new temple. But will Whhir's ex, the goddess of mostly healed wounds, allow it?

6. Moistmorn, god of dew, agrees to take Saturday off so Bob's new golf shoes won't get wet. In return, Bob agrees to spend eternity in Hades.

4. Don't Forget the Death Ray

1. A team of astronauts arrive in a new world, only to discover the atmosphere is full of poppy-gas that adversely affects their cognition and makes them vulnerable to kidnap by flying monkeys, green women, and singing midgets.

2. The ultimate reference work on how to write comic books. Includes invaluable advice like: Don't put an alien's third eye on the back of his head; Never make a spandex costume pink; and of course . . . Don't Forget the Death Ray.

3. All mad scientist Lysander Schultz wants to do is take over one, maybe two continents so his mother will finally stop complaining he's never accomplished anything. But then Mama Schultz gets wind of the plot and decides her baby boy can't possibly do it without her assistance.

4. What happens to megalomaniacal arch-villains whose powers fade as they enter their golden years and find they can no longer remember exactly what they were going to do with the world once they dominated it? This is the story of a most unusual assisted-care facility where, more often than not, weapons of mass destruction are found in the refrigerator rather than in that tray on the dresser where they belong.

5. Ironic hipster Lance McAllister's blog, "Don't Forget The Death-Ray," is a send-up of science fiction cliches and alien abductions. It's all fun and games--until the Reticulons show up and the anal probes start.

6. Zorpha Qv'naul has had to deal with one too many creeps who think, just because they paid for immersion in the nutrient vats, she should drop her carapace and become brood-host to their natal swarm. So she's written a handbook of practical advice for the single female tentaculoid playing the dating game on Eta Horologii IV.

3. Jumbie-mon

1. Lemme tell you mon, deh women be wakkin home let wun eev-nin, wen dat man's ghost joomped rite outta dem bushes en skaret em to death.

2. Wen mild-mannered Rhashan Turnbull smoken deh Jamaican weed, he behcomen deh superhero Joombie-mon, scoorge of deh Rastafarian crim'nools.

3. Agent Troy Davis dealen wit deh Ebola-like virus, deh nuclear war, 'n' a fanat'cal coolt as he rehcen deh clock to learnen the secret of . . . Joombie-mon!

4. Wen Bob becomen depresset wit his life as an inshoorance salesman, Marsha inspiren him teh flee his suboorban home 'n' try teh make it in Alaska, as a Reggae droomer wit dretlocks down to here 'n' deh awesome rhythm.

5. Pirates of deh Caribbean a la Rastafari grooviness, 1974 -- featuren deh ruthless cold war Roossian spies, two oondercover George Booshes, a yoong Dick Cheney disguisen as one-a Mick Jagger's groupies, Richard Nixon and a band callen deh "Jamaican Beatles."

6. Pikachu, Charizard, and all deh other Pokemon's bein' driven out of deh hearts of deh elementry schoolers by deh Joombie-mon, who look'n like bad-assed, fire-breathen Tele-toobies, only worsen. Wit millioons in advertisen at steck, deh battle's on.

2. The Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency

1. From the outside it is looking like ordinary Indian restaurant. But those couples being strangely attracted to its most exotic menu are finding its warming food and most philosophical waiters exceedingly putting the spices back into their troubled relationships. Also, a chapati.

2. Three clueless Indian virgins are starting running the agency specializing in the fixing of the ailing romances for some other Indians lacking the clues, but are most quickly sucking into some most amusing misadventures.

3. Arranged marriages can be most best for the families, but for the couple thrusting together without the spark of the romance, getting to knowing themselves be most traumatic. Jaswinder and Anjul have a plan to fix that with the newest business idea. But when they are establishing the call center in Lexington, KY, the miscommunications lead to hilarity on two sides of the world.

4. Sanjiv has made his fortune as Kama Sutra instructor, and his mother is after him to seek the wife. Hilarity is ensuing when he is meeting his future in-laws. Can he be convincing Mr. Gupta that he is computer repairman before Mrs. Gupta is recalling "The Reverse Cowgirl"?

5. Bishakha's husband has died twenty years before, but she isn't seeing why death should be the barrier to the romance. With help of Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency, she plans to hunting down her husband's reincarnation, and marry him once more. Also, the sacred elephant.

6. Going to working for top literary agent right out of Brown is being Sissy Lion's dreaming. But no one is telling her she will be slogging through endless piles of romance novels, not the literary fiction. And now they are wishing her to be editing this tripe? Can there be any escaping...The Taj Mahal Romance Repair Agency?

1. Random Thoughts of a Teenage Axe Murderer

1. Should I chop up my boyfriend and eat his body parts? I hate writing my thoughts in this crappy journal. If I kill all my co-workers, maybe I'll get promoted out of my lousy entry-level job. I'm in love with my shrink; maybe I'll kill him with an axe. Or maybe I should have him over for dinner . . . as the main course!

2. She's cute. Math homework is so unfair. Got to beat my GTA3 high score. Wonder if the new Blindside album is out? Look at the boombah's on her. Die, Die, Die, you scum-sucking parasite. I hate mayonnaise.

3. Mmm, cookies. I wonder if I should ask Tina to the Winter Formal. Double-bladed looks cool, but a hachet is a lot more practical. Are there walnuts in these? If there are walnuts in these, someone is going to have to die. Would it look suspicious if I rented a woodchipper?

4. Will this fake I.D. work to get some beer? Can I get that cute girl in History to notice me? Will my skin clear up in time for the dance? Will my Dad loan me the car and an axe Friday night? Who you lookin' at?

5. I wonder if I was on the verge of getting my license before I chopped the driving instructor into tiny pieces. How do so many kids buy this Red Riding Hood story? I mean, if you can't tell your grandmother from a wolf, you need your eyes examined. Think I'll go hang out at the mall. Better bring my axe in case some cop gives me trouble.

6. So I hacked up a few people. Was that any reason to put me in here with all these crazies? Look at that guy, sitting there with his mouth hanging open. Where's an axe when I need one? Doesn't that TV get anything but Brady Bunch reruns? Wait a minute, is that an axe behind the glass in the fire extinguisher cabinet?

Actual Plots:


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Evil Editor Classics

Five-Star Fakes

Every so often a book's title will inspire the Evil Minions to greatness. EE chooses the top ten Guess the Plot sets. Today: #s 6 through 10.

10. Little Emergencies

1. When you simply have to have chocolate. When you spill lemonade on the front of your pants right before the debate with the other nominee. When you wake up in your sleeping bag and discover a boa constrictor wrapped around you.

2. When the condom breaks. When you find yourself pregnant with triplets. When your no-good louse of a husband leaves you in your eighth month. When you can't get a sitter on the day of your big presentation so you bring the kids to work knowing the only way to keep them quiet is to breast feed them.

3. When it's your first day at your new high school and your new classmates find out your name is Charmin. When your mother comes to your school and starts yelling at your math teacher . . . during your math class. When you're surfing the web and discover your kid brother secretly photographed you in your underwear and put the pic on

4. When the timer goes off signaling that your souffle needs to come out of the oven at the same time the dog is on the new carpet making pre-puking gag noises. When an alien nursery ship crash lands in North Dakota and lets loose forty species-worth of extraterrestrial infants.

5. When the most popular boy in high school falls in love with you . . . and you're a guy. When your own brother falls in love with you . . . and you're a guy. When your best friend Patrick is so jealous of the guys who are in love with you that he storms your school with a gun . . . and you're a guy.

6. When you see the most darling pair of sandals on sale, and your credit card is already maxed out. When your waitress turns out to be your ex and she's better looking than your date. When your hair is on fire.

9. The Theft of the Daidanna Dankenka Maru

1. Dundenna Kantawanna momo dinteka wantana. Maima ratwonu titi kenka ma kenku, danna mianta Maru. Also, a vampire.

2. An animal trainer, a schoolteacher and an astronaut steal Earth's first starship in order to escape the Earth's pollution and recreate Earth's biosphere on another planet. Also, a suicidal whale.

3. Alex, a two-bit street thief, determines to join the ranks of the master thieves by stealing the Daidanna Dankenka Maru, the most often stolen artifact in the world. Now, he just has to figure out two things: where it is, and what it is.

4. By the time Tony "The Stutterer" Calabrese has finished explaining the intricate details of the heist to his street crew, the cops are on to his scheme and he's on the run. Next time, he'll just rob a bank and forget about the Daidanna Dankenka Maru.

5. Police Chief Jake Martin is having no problem tracking the stolen masterpiece, the Daidanna Dankenka Maru. It's filling out the police report that's so difficult.

6. When a new Virginia class attack sub is christened USS Daidanna Dankenka Maru, some of the higher ups in the Pentagon have a conniption fit. They assign Black Ops Specialist Trick Lambert to do the one thing more difficult than pronouncing it: steal it, and send it to Davy Jones’ locker.

8. Loving Yourself with Food

1. When sex therapist Trisha Garvey found her clientelle...flagging, she took up the radio talk show circuit. Her topic lit up the airwaves - and the produce aisles of the supermarkets.

2. The author of Romancing the Frogs has a new self-help hit, inspired by the eating habits of Oprah Winfrey and Kirstie Alley.

3. Mike Daley and tech support phone rep Chi meet when Mike calls in to find out just what the DVD player manual means by "loving yourself with food." Will their language barrier keep them from true love?

4. This new how-to cookbook/romance tantalizes with such utilitarian dishes as Portnoy's liver, low-cal chocolate sauce and oiled cucumbers. Profusely Illustrated.

5. Three hundred-pound fashion designer Sumona travels the world to find the most exotic foods, brings them back to New York, and puts on the year’s biggest fashion show--one like you’ve never tasted.

6. Margot thought no one knew what she did with the Japanese eggplant - until the handsome young clerk at the market slipped a can of Redi-Whip and a banana squash into her bag.

7. Junior Prom or Death

1. Brought up before the Spanish Inquisition for heresy, Ramon is offered a terrible choice.

2. When your aunt tells you your choices are the Junior Prom with Nate Willenburger or death, it's a tough call. And it's even tougher when your aunt is Medusa.

3. Death most certainly. In this recession what seventeen year old boy has money to spring for a limo, a corsage and the Red Lobster dinner that his date will only shuffle around on her plate?

4. The first volume of Patrick Henry's autobiography, from birth to graduation.

5. Samantha Powers has a problem. The Junior Prom and her sweet-sixteen birthday are only three days away and Zack doesn’t know she exists! If she doesn’t get a date with him she’ll just die. For the reals. She inherited a centuries-old family curse that will kill her if she doesn’t get kissed by her 16th birthday. OMG.

6. Two days before the prom a fairy shrinks Kayla to the size of an insect. Can she make the two-block journey to Fairfax Fred to get the fairy's spell reversed, without being crushed or eaten by a predator? Also, a talking garden gnome.

Alannian and the Sword of Azallyan

1. Alannian, an Iranian, battles Azallyan, an Albanian, for a sword made of uranium. Basically, a Mesopotamian echolalia. Plus an azalea.

2. With his sword of Azallyan, pubescent adolescent Alannian (an incarnation of Elyyian), and his shaman companion must avert armageddon.

3. Actually Alannian is short for Alannianovichinovakoff, and the Sword of Azallyan is actually the Sacred Sword of Azallvaneepsiepoopoovah, and it is best known as the weapon Alligatorman uses to annihilate aliens.

4. 17-year-old Alanian and his sister Anneallan must steal the Sword of Azallyan from the Hall of Allazynan to save the Kingdom of Allazhean from destruction at the hands of evil Emperor Annazealhan. That is, if bumbling warlock Fred doesn't ruin everything first.

5. Alannian the Aelf attempts to avert the annihilation of ancient Aelfswood by acquiring the amazing sword of Azallyan, advancing to Andromin and attempting the assassination of Aggrok, the administrative assistant of the Assailants Association.

6. Alannian was born in Tazmania and hates the rhyme of his name with his nationality. It's easier to move than to change names, but never one to think things through, he makes his new home in Romania. His treasured sword, a relic from Azallyan, is stolen, and thanks to the Internet, the catchy ditty "Alannian the Romanian lost his sword from Azallyan" catches on as the new little girls' skipping game. Alannian finally finds peace in Bouctouche Canada, which rhymes with nothing.

Tomorrow: #s 5 - 1.

Actual Plots:


Friday, June 15, 2012

New Beginning 956

Hunter plopped down onto the inviting chaise. He wished he sat in his old psychiatrist’s office. That tiny office had two small windows and a comforting low ceiling. It spoke small, enclosed and safe. This new psychiatrist, aptly named Dr. Newman, had a grandiose office. High ceilings rose up above him. Where there should have been a wall, stood a stretch of glass with blinds pulled up to the very top. Some would call the view spectacular, but all Hunter thought was that it made the room too large, open and inviting.

Almost everything about the space made his throat dry and his skin itch. On the wall furthest from those expansive windows sat a lived-in brown chaise. Hunter forged himself with that piece of furniture and waited. His eyes roved from the tightly rolled shades to Dr. Newman. Back and forth they gamboled while he shook his right leg up and down.

Dr. Newman peered over the rim of his spectacles and watched Hunter. “You've improved, Hunter," he said. "You’re finally getting it. I think it's time to move on to the next phase. Now, listen carefully. You put your left leg in, you take your left leg out. You put your left leg in and you shake it all about!”

Opening: Xiexie.....Continuation: PLaF

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Synopsis 31

Anomalies are humans that produce A4P in their bodies. A4P is more powerful than ATP, [4 > T] the energy molecule found in normal humans, and is the source for [of] super human abilities that typically develop at sixteen.

Almost sixteen-year-old Maya Benedict and her family are Anomalies. Fabian Romano, a hot reclusive Italian boy (who can also become transparent) [No need to say "also" as you've mentioned no other powers he has and no one else who can become transparent.] is staying at Maya’s home for the summer. [It's a birthday present from her parents.] On the eve of Maya’s 16th birthday Maya and Fabian meet Alien Aristocracy, a teen band playing at a bistro along the Thames River. [When people start referring to Alien Aristocracy as AA, beer sales at their concerts inexplicably drop to nil.] There they meet the sexy rocker, Lorcan, [Is Lorcan a member of Alien Aristocracy? If so, they already met him in the previous sentence.] who can nullify and manipulate electricity. When someone spills beer all over [Lorcan, he is electrocuted.] Maya’s white shirt, the mortifying moment triggers Maya’s first shift. [At this point it's not clear what that means. What exactly happens? She vanishes? To where?]

Maya is determined to learn how to control her new unstable ability of teleportation, or shifting, and its repercussions on her own. She isn’t going to submit to her Mom’s stupid rules or listen to someone who won’t even share their ability with their daughter. [Those two sentences have nothing to do with the rest of this paragraph; I'd get rid of them, as they aren't clearly worded anyway.] Aristar Industries, an organization of Machiavellian Anomalies wanting to restructure the world into one that is run by Anomalies, learns of Maya’s secret ability via her very public shifting incident. They use their teenage minions, Lorcan and the other members of Alien Aristocracy, to steal samples of Fabian and Maya’s DNA. [In what form is this DNA when they steal it?]

In pursuit of their stolen DNA, [Why? Do they know what Aristar is going to do with it?] Maya and Fabian find Fabian’s missing father, Dr. Romano, and other Anomalies imprisoned in a facility in Germany run by Aristar Industries. [Lemme get this straight. You're a sixteen-year-old gir in England; someone grabs a cup you drank out of or steals your toothbrush, and even though you have no idea why they did this, you follow them to Germany to get it back?] Aristar has been forcing Dr. Romano to clone super human abilities for the private use of their mercenaries who plan to take down the British Houses of Parliament. [And if the British Houses of Parliament are taken down . . . What? Aristar Industries will rule the world?] But Dr. Romano can’t successfully make the clones without inducing progeria, accelerated aging that leads to death. [Inducing it in the clones or the originals? If the clones, who cares, as long as they live long enough to complete their mission?] Dr. Romano plans on using the progeria as his secret weapon to foil Aristar’s plans. But when Maya learns Lorcan is meant to be part of the mercenary team she warns him about the progeria. [How does she know about it?] Despite her good intentions, Maya jeopardizes Dr. Romano’s efforts and loses Fabian’s trust. To fix her blunder, Maya takes Fabian on an ill-planned rescue mission to Germany [I thought they were already in Germany.] during which she is separated from Fabian, thrown into a prison, and temporarily loses her ability because of lead poisoning. In this cat-and-mouse chase for stolen DNA, Maya is thrust into a world of deception, kidnapping, murder, and world domination, where the stakes are high and the consequences of failure deadly.


This starts out okay, but devolves into a list of stuff that happens. Pause to tell us why characters are doing what they're doing. The reader isn't going to believe you've written a well-organized book based on this.

How many people with super powers does it take to bring down Parliament? It's just a bunch of geezers sitting around arguing about trivia. Two or three super villains should be able to handle it.