Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Face-Lift 1055

Guess the Plot

The Fish Preserve

1. After Olympic swimmer Bryan Lock deflowers the University President's daughter in public and the video goes viral on the Internet, his life seems ruined--until a Mexican drug lord hires Lock to operate his new ocean research center.

2. Sweden is surrounded by fish, and the population loves it. However, it rots quickly and the smell is hurting the tourism industry. Sven Dalgaard, one of the premiere scientists in the country, discovers a new way to preserve the nation's favorite food - it's a little thing he's named "salt".

3. When the body of 70s eco-warrior Jacques Champlain is found by kids fishing in MacArthur Park, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, the old man didn't harpoon himself; and two, some camarones would be great for dinner.

4. 1969. High schoolers Rachel, a native of the ruined Owens Valley, and Gabriel, a transplant from Sherman Oaks, discover love, life, environmentalism and each other in this coming-of-age story set in California's historic fish hatchery on Highway 395.

5. Detective Jorge Calderon thought his danger days were over when he retired from the NYPD. He moved to sleepy Cortez Florida and joined the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage. One day he investigates a slaughtered manatee. On the way back, his jeep is forced off the road by a large pickup. Two days later he finds three teens shot execution style. Now Jorge knows he can’t retire yet.

Original Version

[It's another fake query, this one from Dave F. We do have a couple real queries in the queue now, waiting for fake plot writers to notice them.]

Dear EE

Olympic swimmer Bryan Lock dreams he is a butterfly flapping his wings in China... But wait, let's change that butterfly to a fish and China to the Yucatan. The proposition becomes: If a doctoral student and champion swimmer who dreams of becoming a world renowned oceanographer deflowers the University President's Daughter in public and the video goes viral on the internet, what sort of job can he expect after graduation? The answer, a dead end job in the fast food industry. However, the storms of chaos theory blow a fair wind his way in the form of a Drug Lord in the Yucatan. The Drug Lord hires Lock to operate his new ocean research center.

Our butterfly, being chaos personified, returns in the form of the Drug Lord's son who boozes, trips, whores, rapes, and kills in the villages where the drugs grow. Even bad dreams come true in chaos theory. A Drug Lord's son can't escape punishment for wanton murder and the punishment is death. As the storms of chaos abate, justice will be served. The murderous son, his partner and the researchers are not killed are given a strange new lease on life, the Drug Lord gains their silence, and Lock his dream job -- a successful oceanic researcher. However, he's no longer human. He's more of a half-man, half-fish creature, with gills.

My novel, THE FISH PRESERVE is bizarro Sci Fi complete at 80K. It is breaking out of its cocoon just for you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Face-Lift 1054

Guess the Plot

Tales of the Tail-less

1. Pop-up book featuring characters from the hundred-acre wood. When Eeyore's tail gets pulled off, he decides to take revenge on anyone and everyone, but mostly Tigger--who had nothing to do with it!

2. Living with another species can be challenging and rewarding. A collection of memoirs, written by Poodle Silver Silk Porscha, to explain the vagaries of naked apes for the amusement and enlightenment of their Poodle masters.

3. The story of three-blind mice and their extraordinary pal, Max, an Australian Shepherd and how they were able to overcome adversity and reap revenge on the terrorist known only as The Farmer's Wife.

4. Four tadpoles. Four stories. One pond. Learn about friendship, survival and family as Leapy, Larvy, Ihop and Legs metamorphose their way to adulthood. Children picture book, complete with vodka for the caring mother.

5. Horatio, the Manx cat, doesn't believe he was born this way, and he's determined to take revenge on whoever cut off his tail. He's still got his claws...

Original Version

[It's a fake query for a fake book, submitted by Lisa and presented for your entertainment as we await the submission of actual queries and openings.]

When the owl first pulled off my tail, I knew it wasn’t personal. The problem was, Chris stuck it back on with a tack. What was he thinking? Who do I look like anyway? A stupid kids’ party game?

I learned to live not only with the tack, but also with that annoying bear and his silly high-voiced porcine sidekick, but when the bouncing tiger moved in, that was the last straw. I couldn’t hold it together anymore.

Follow my exploits as I attempt to oust the tiger from the Hundred Acre Wood. Thrill as I weigh down his nether regions with sawdust. Marvel at my ingenious plot to steal the honey pot and convince the moronic marsupials the blame should be placed on that frivolous feline. Feel your heart break as, once again, I lose my tail in the river and am forced to wade out into the icy cold water to retrieve it.

From perusing your website, I have concluded that you have more of a brain than most of the other agents in the forest. I would be pleased if you would consider my memoir, TALES OF THE TAIL-LESS, a 250 word pop-up book, for representation. I have included an SASE for your convenience, and some tiger whisker clippings for your enjoyment.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fake Plots for Published Books

Back in 2006 we had a competition to see who could write the funniest fake plots for titles on a given list of published books. These were the winning entries:

Bet Me
Bill looked at the four Jacks in his hand, and at the rugged cowboy across the table. He had nothing else to wager until his girlfriend whispered in his ear . . .  "Bet me."

The Door Into Summer
Summer knew she was having a lot of operations lately, but she really didn't appreciate her surgeon's new time-saving innovation.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A sorceress teaches Detroit's star running back about life, love, and the pursuit of proper accessories.

The League of Frightened Men

Sick of the over-courageous heroics of the world's standard superheroes, Mr. Timorous, Phobiaman, Captain France and The ScaredyCat team up to fight evil--as long as it doesn't make any loud noises.

Portnoy's Complaint
He doesn't care how many times they put him on hold; Dan Portnoy is determined to tell off his cell phone provider, or die trying.

The Crack in Space

I have no idea what happens, but it's obviously on Uranus.

As the queries aren't exactly rolling in these days, those who enjoy composing fake plots have nothing to do. So, I've chosen six books from my bookshelf. Your job: come up with amusing fake plots for any or all.

Without Feathers
The Thin Man
Confessions of a Crap Artist
Virtual Banality
Juliet, Naked
The Hunger Games

Friday, July 27, 2012

Improving the Olympics

I suggested some of the following ideas four years ago. It'll be interesting to see how many of them they've incorporated. Also, I've added some new ones. Change with the times, IOC.

1. In beach volleyball, the tall players have an advantage. Thus, I recommend that springboards be installed in the area of the net to aid the shorter players in spiking and blocking.

2. In the men's high bar, the athletes are lifted to the bar by a guy. This is humiliating. I suggest that it would be more spectacular if they had to pole vault over the high bar and then grab it on the way down, smoothly beginning their routine as they do.

3. No one ever sticks the landing on the gymnastics vault, as they have too much horizontal momentum. Thus, instead of landing on mats they should land on one of those small trampolines--the kind mascots use to dunk basketballs at halftime. This would allow them to spring upward, creating vertical momentum and allowing them to land without stepping or hopping.

4. The men's pommel horse tends to be extremely dull, despite the great skill involved, because they just go around and around. I propose that the routine be performed on an actual horse as it gallops around the arena.

5. The swimsuits of the synchronized divers are identical; they should be mirror images, with the design of one on the opposite side as the design of the other, so it looks like one diver is a mirror image of the other. Also, the divers should have to be twins. Actually, it's too easy to synchronize with one other diver. The event should involve eight divers going simultaneously, preferably octuplets.

6. No one actually swims the butterfly, so why is it an event? It should be replaced with the dog paddle. That may sound ridiculous, but it's no more ridiculous than race walking. I mean really, walking? In real life, if you're in a hurry, no matter how fast you can walk you'll be left in the dust of people who have enough sense to run.

7. There's no way of knowing who wins a point in fencing unless you just watch the electronic light come on. The only way the actual fencing will ever be worth watching is if they use real swords and fight to the death.

8. There should be a coxswain in every scull, even the singles, and the coxswains should all be equipped with those huge drums like in Ben Hur, to help the rowers get the rhythm.

9. Anyone can hit a stationary target. Archery contestants should line up along the track. In the early heats they shoot at the race walkers and in the finals they shoot at the 100-meter dashers. It wouldn't be dangerous to the runners because they would wear plastic targets and the arrows would have suction cup tips.

10. I don't think it's right that they have cameras in the ladies' showers at the diving venue. One of these days someone's gonna do her last dive and absent-mindedly take off her suit before showering.

11. The rhythmic gymnastics apparatus (ribbon, ball, clubs, rope, and hoop) should be replaced with funnel, egg & spoon, frisbee, stepladder and parrot.

12. It would be easier for the spectators in the back rows to see the balance beam competition if the beam were about forty feet high.

13. Water polo would be much more exciting if the participants were in those bumper boats, like they have at the state fair. I can't believe no one else has thought of that one.

14. Chariot races, but instead of horses, cheetahs.

15. Instead of swimming pools, the divers should dive into those containers of plastic balls like they have at Chucky Cheese. Make the balls transparent so the below-surface cameras can see the divers' entries. It would be like a kaleidoscope.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Success Story

A Kiersten White Retrospective

Lapsed minion (and contributor to Evil Editor Teaches School) Kiersten White has a book out, titled Endlessly. It's the third book of a YA trilogy. Long-time minions may remember Kiersten as the author of numerous cartoon captions, including:

...as well as numerous writing exercises, including this "Write Like Poe" exercise, in which she apologizes for abandoning us and makes an empty promise to return to minionhood.

Here's another sample of Kiersten's best work.

And one of her film screenplays.

Face-Lift 1053

[Not sure if "Guess the Plot" is worth playing with fake queries, but there are a couple titles now in the queue if you wish to pen a fake plot. Meanwhile, the query below arrived without a title, so . . . ]

Evil Editor--

I speak to you as a peer and not as a mere supplicant.

Since my earliest days I have been destined for greatness. Born apart from other men, my strength, knowledge and mastery the forces which bind all together have been unequaled.

My story is one of love, yes; and betrayal, pain and loss. But I have survived, and conquered my greatest tormentor.

I suggest that you will be wise enough to do what others less like ourselves will not dare to do, and publish my memoirs. Not only for us, but for children, and their generations yet unborn.


Lord Darth Vader

The Dickens Pitch Session

Click strip to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Face-Lift 1052

Guess the Plot

Bloodstone Creek

1. Scarlet Rivers investigates an alleged haunting in which the stones of Bloodstone Creek run red with blood—but only during the Blood Moon.

2. A'Brn'Y and the rest of her Clan live under the waterfall of Bloodstone Creek, where they act as liaisons for the numerous teenagers whose coming-of-age is marked by discovery of their Faery heritage.

3. Bloodstone Creek was the brainchild of George Rusnak. George is dead now, but his daughter Lillian works at the haunted Halloween attraction. This is the story of Bloodstone Creek’s cast and staff during its first season. Boo!

4. For years the people of Bloodstone Creek, Montana, have assumed that bachelor ranchers Jeremy and Franklin were gay. Only Lakota Billy knows the truth: They're not gay, they're really aliens. But will anyone believe a 10-year-old autistic boy?

5. What happens after all the humans leave Earth? The pigs lord it over the less intelligent species. Then Paula Prickles leads the porcupines of Bloodstone Creek in rebellion. Their allies are the bobcats, the owls and the skunks; their enemies are the pigs, the snakes and the lizards.

6. Whoever said you can’t get blood from a stone was a fool. Ever since Josiah turned up that rock while plowing the back forty and threw it in the creek, the water’s been running red. The cows won’t drink it and the milk supply’s running short. If Meg has to summon the witch to get this fixed, she knows that this time it’s gonna cost more than her first-born child.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Opening for its first October in a secluded creekside warehouse, Bloodstone Creek, a Halloween attraction with its own haunted past, [If it has its own past, how is it opening for its first October? Was it somewhere else in previous years?] draws from the surrounding towns eager crowds of victims and monsters alike. Everyone craves a taste of blood-racing, finger-knotting, plexiglass-smacking mortal terror—or else like Lillian Rusnak, a mostly average high school junior with a theatrical flair, they just love to terrify.

But Lilly believes that no other volunteer lurker within the Creek's walls is so drawn to lurk there as she is, and that no one carries the legacy she does. [For she is, in actuality, Lilith, mother of all vampires.]

Because among all the joke epitaphs etched in the foam grave markers by the entrance is a real one for Lilly's father, who named Bloodstone Creek and wrote its back story. *George Rusnak*, the marker reads, *The Mind Behind the Madness*, and the date of his death three years ago.

And while Lilly's not the only girl at the Creek ready to eat the stage blood off the face of Blake Carver, whose crazed green eyed-glare [eyed-glare?] and rasping voice sends [send] patrons running from whatever room he's working, she doubts even his frustrated ex-girlfriend has a connection to him quite as strong as her own. [No other volunteer is so drawn to lurk there as she is, no one carries the legacy she does, no one is as connected to Blake Carver as she is . . . These aren't things people aspire to. Teens want to be known as the one with the coolest car and clothes, not the one who is most drawn to lurk at a Halloween attraction.]

Because Lilly's the one who first met Blake back when he was a loud, sad, drunk kid stumbling through the parking lot of a third-rate "Spookyhouse" in another state.  That happened late in the long cross-country road trip Lilly once took with her parents. That was the trip she missed half of seventh grade for. The trip her father enthusiastically planned and called their Haunt Tour, while her mother tried to quietly swallow her objections. [If mom didn't want to go on the Haunt Tour, and it meant Lilly missing half of 7th grade, why didn't dad go alone?] The trip that finally finished a little more than three years ago…

In 60,000 words and three alternating timelines, Lilly Rusnak narrates the story of her family during the last few years of her father’s life, the story of Bloodstone Creek’s cast and staff during its first season, and the story of herself and Blake during their final encounter with one another. [That's all pretty vague. Is there a story?] Part drama, part romance, and part dark backstage comedy, [It's not coming across as dramatic or comedic, and a romance would end with Lilly and Blake together, not having had a final encounter three years ago. It's not horror or mystery?] *Bloodstone Creek* is a literary Young Adult novel about the desire to create imaginary ghosts, so that we can bear to live among the real ones. [Is "literary" a word you want to use when trying to attract YA readers?]

My short story “Redacted” has appeared in Redacted Press’s *Redacted Anthology,* published in Recent Date.

Thank you for your consideration.



Is there a plot thread that holds everything together? For instance, did dad die under suspicious circumstances, and his killer is still at Bloodstone Creek? Is the haunted attraction really haunted? What do you mean by Lilly and Blake's "final encounter"?

This query is mostly back story and the setting. I'm reminded of The Night Circus, which is mostly about the circus and its cast and staff, but your haunted warehouse is going to have to be spectacular if it's the main character. If Lillian is the main character, what is her goal? Who or what is keeping her from achieving it? What is she planning to do about it? What happens in your book? You want teenagers to read this, so focus on the good stuff. Sex, violence, ghosts. Don't tell us it's a story about X. Tell us the story. In ten sentences.

You can condense this whole thing into one sentence: Ever since Lilly Rusnak's father died three years ago at Bloodstone Creek, the Halloween attraction he created, Lilly has been (choose one) [quietly looking for clues to what killed him/ keeping his legacy alive by recruiting her friends to work there/ turning tricks in the "Zombie Bride's Bedroom."] That leaves plenty of room to provide specific details about what happens.

Writing Exercise

EE, is it time for fake queries again? A writing exercise? Something? Anything? 

I suppose the best way to get through the summer drought in queries and openings is another query-writing exercise, allowing me to post fake queries when we have no real ones. So . . .

You are a well-known person or animal, living or dead, fictional or real, who has just completed your memoirs. Write a query letter that's sure to get me to request the manuscript. 250 words max. Submit as a comment to this post. Humor appreciated.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Success Story

Dave F. reports:

My story "The Demon Invasion" which you saw in New Beginning 938 is available at AMAZON in FANTASTIC HORROR #4 - GOOD V EVIL.

This is the KINDLE version and the print edition will appear in a week or so.
Fantastic Horror is a paying market and has several anthologies open - http://www.fantastichorror.net/

New Beginning 963

In my grandmother's day, there had been no lack of Physicians, Menders, or Mender Physicians. The roads were good, the seas were safe, and the Physical Academies were open to any Imperial citizen.

In my father's day, the seas were not so safe. Enrollment dropped and schools closed as more and more women with the healing touch decided just plain Mending was good enough for them. I would have gone, I would have given anything to go, but my father forbade it with his dying breath.

"The Empire, she's turned her back on us," he moaned and, God forgive me, I hushed him with a nervous glance to the window.

My father laughed bitterly. "Who'll report me? Who will they report me to? There hasn't been a Legion ship through here in months. The Relayers know it, they're pulling their people from the Isles."

He laid his head back on the pillow with a weak cough and I brushed his white hair back. I could feel the pain in his limbs, the ache in his lungs that we both knew was beyond our skill to Mend.

"They've forgotten us, Acacia. We're on our own and we've grown so soft." His colors were roiling so heavily it frightened me. Thick red flecks of anger fought for dominance with a poisonous yellow cloud of fear around his head. I took his hand, willing strength into the few blue and violet tendrils remaining.

Suddenly his fingers clenched mine. "You take care of yourself."

His aura morphed into a chartreuse and puce checkerboard pattern, and I knew he was almost gone. A burst of lime green specks told me he had more to say. I leaned in close, lest I miss his dying words. He struggled to open his eyes and whispered, "I forbid you to enroll in the Physical Academy."

I thought, "Shit!" But then I realized that his halo cloud had turned the black of death, and thought, Screw him; it's my life, and med school's a great place to meet guys.

Opening: Sarah Hawthorne.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Friday, July 20, 2012

Face-Lift 1051

Guess the Plot   

The Life of a Teenaged Hero

1. Choosing a name that hasn’t been used by some stupid comic book. Finding tights that don’t bunch. Pretending you need glasses when you have telescopic vision. Not retaliating when the high school quarterback kicks sand in your face at the beach bonfire.

2. When your parents won’t let you out on school nights and hold you to a ten o’clock curfew on the weekend. How are you supposed to fight crime, save chicks in peril, and deflect in-coming asteroids if you're studying algebra and civics instead?

3. Being the country's greatest superhero, but you kinda want to hang up your cape and just be an average teenager, except an evil scientist in a robot suit threatens to destroy the world and you're pretty sure all the other superheros would screw this one up.

4. Not using your powers to become the star of the basketball team so that Samantha Jordan would finally notice you. Having to resist using your X-ray vision to see through Samantha Jordan's clothes, even though she wouldn't suspect a thing, so probably it wouldn't hurt to take a peek. Or even a nice long gaze.

5. Getting in trouble for cutting class even though the only reason you cut was because your arch-nemesis Wrecking Ball was planning to destroy the gym and who the heck else was gonna stop him?

6. Having to put up with your little brother's torment just because the time you used your super powers on your little sister who kept bugging you, you killed her and now you have to follow all these silly rules.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

Being a teenager is stressful enough when dealing with cute boys, messy Biology lab accidents, and a girl ready to expose your darkest secret, but try having to save the world on the side.

Sixteen year old, Momoko Yoshimi, [No commas needed. Also, her name sounds like a sushi museum.] is an everyday teenaged girl, [I'd go with "average"; pretty much all teenagers are teenagers every day.] but she's also her country's greatest superhero, Shadow Warrior. Her double life becomes even harder to manage when an evil scientist in a robot suit threatens to steal the powerful Shadow Crystals thatcould possible [that could possibly] destroy the world. [An actual robot would be scarier.
Man in Robot Suit
A man in a robot suit is about as scary as a man in a chicken suit.] [Also, I don't see that stealing these shadow crystals is any easier while dressed as a robot.] [Also, if you're planning to steal the powerful shadow crystals that could destroy the world, it's probably not a good idea to first threaten to do so. You don't want them bolstering security right before you make your move.] As Momo fights to save the day, she has to decide whether or not she wants to continue her life as a teenaged superhero or if she's ready to hang up her cape forever. [I don't see why she has to decide this as she's fighting.]
THE LIFE OF A TEENAGED HERO is an action packed YA Fiction novel [All novels are fiction, unless the author calls it a novel so no one will know it really happened to him because it was so embarrassing. In any case, when a book has a superhero and powerful shadow crystals that could destroy the world, we know it's fiction.] about a young girl who has to make the decision of a life time, ranking [weighing] in at 74K words. 



What chance does a guy in a robot costume have against the country's greatest superhero?

Does Momo have the shadow crystals? Where does she keep them? Shouldn't they be destroyed? Are they the source of Momo's power?

Maybe this should have a younger audience. The YA crowd may not buy into a guy in a robot suit as the villain.

Your plot summary is four sentences. Double that by elaborating on what's already here. What are Shadow warrior's powers? What are the crystals used for? What is the robot guy planning to do with them? (Presumably not destroy the world.) What kind of fighting is going on?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Query Letters by Characters

Occasionally query letters are written from the POV of a character in the book rather than the author. I don't recommend it, but it happens. Which has led me to wonder if this has been true throughout history. So I've put together the opening paragraph of some query letters that might have been submitted for well-known books.

My leg? A whale ate it. Most guys would retire from whaling once they were down to one leg, but not me. I'm gonna find that whale and put a harpoon in his side. Preferably before he eats my other leg.

My sister Sally and I are sitting around the house. As usual mom didn't get us a babysitter or a nanny. So we're killing time when this cat shows up and then all hell breaks loose. The cat was as tall as my dad and could talk and he was wearing a big hat and I'm thinking WTF?

The name's Hindley. Life was good around here. Then this homeless kid shows up and suddenly my sister and father like him better than me. Heathcliff's what he goes by. Yes, like the comic strip cat, who isn't even funny. Anyway, I've made it my goal in life to ruin this Heathcliff asshole. Otherwise no one will even remember that I was in the frigging book.

Did you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right, like you travel to Europe to apply for a job and when you get to the place where you're supposed to work the boss won't let you leave and it turns out he's a vampire? I did.

Call me Silas. Yes, I'm a hulking albino. What of it? It so happens I got involved in a tale of intrigue that will shock the Christian world. That I'm a hulking albino is beside the point. Stop staring at me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Face-Lift 1050

Guess the Plot

Murder and Mayhem

1. Rescuing two pit bull pups from certain death in the shelter was one of Angela's proudest moments. She was equally proud of the clever names she gave the littermates. But when someone or something starts terrorizing small children and domestic pets in her urban neighborhood, she begins to wonder if taking in Murder and Mayhem might have been a big mistake.

2. Little Joey DeGriff used to pull the legs off insects. Now all grown up, he goes on a crime spree, leaving murder and mayhem in his wake. That’s about it.

3. Two writers' group members specializing in romance, Dwight and Barbara, secretly start dating. They love gossiping about the other writers, whom they give code names. It all seems delightfully witty and hilarious until an email goes wrong, inspiring Ms. Murder and Mr. Mayhem to bring shotguns to the next critique session.

4. What are the odds that TWO writers' conventions would both want the same hotel the same weekend? Not high enough to make sales manager Susie Hernandez suspicious until both show up - and she realizes she's double booked CozyMurderCon and Hard Boiled Books into the same rooms.

5. In the quaint Cotswolds village of Mayhem, the biggest worry is usually whose dahlias will win the prize at the church fete. That is, until the vicar turns up dead, stabbed in the narthex with a pair of gardening shears, and Miss Higginbotham finds herself the main suspect. Well, he was the one who said her roses looked "tatty".

6. The Prime Minister's been murdered. The only witness has just become a target, and needs help to disappear. That's where I come in. I'm the magical superhero/quasi-crook known as . . . Delete Key!

Original Version

[This was declared to be a practice query; not sure if it's for a work in progress or a work that doesn't exist.]

Dear Evil Editor and all the Malicious Minions,

I make things disappear. Not in a magicky kind of way (though I can do that too), but in a problems-aren’t-there-anymore kind of way. Those two arrests for drunk-and-disorderly that’ll cost you your job? Gone. That super-creepy chick stalking you because she likes your hair? Gone. [Not clear what the distinction is between what you do and the magicky way unless you specify how you do it.] That guy who witnessed a murder and needs to hide? Um…yeah, gone.

Except after I make the witness disappear, all of his problems come to me. His ex-girlfriend, who trashes my place in lieu of his. His incredibly beautiful sister, who doesn’t believe that I don’t know where he is. [This is a problem? String her along; as long as she thinks you know something, you get to hang out with her.] And, oh yeah, the murderers. The murderers who want to find the witness and make him disappear a little more permanently. And make me disappear next, because I know about the murder.

The murder of the Prime Minister.

But I’m not going down easily. Cops aren’t going to help a quasi-crook like me, so I’ll have to do it my way: with my own private arsenal and a lot of luck. [Why can't you do it your usual way? Or the magicky way?]

Yours faithfully,


The list of things you make disappear lacks symmetry. With the drunk and disorderly arrests and the creepy chick, you make the client's problem disappear. With the murder, you make the client disappear. If you had made the client's problems (ex-girlfriend, sister, murderers) disappear, you wouldn't be in this mess.

Of course, as making problems disappear is your talent, why not make these problems disappear now?

A query written in the POV of one of the characters is not always well-received. Assuming this character has a name in the book, I see no reason not to switch to third person. An added advantage being that we'll know whether the MC is a man or woman.

One could get the impression from paragraph 2/sentence 1 (especially with the mention of magic being real), that every time you make someone's problem disappear, it comes back on you. But it seems this may be the case only with the murder. Maybe we can do without the examples of problems you erase and just say:

I'm what's known in the trade as an eliminator. I make problems disappear. So when Joe Blow witnessed a murder and needed to vanish, he came to me. Now Joe's tucked away, safe and sound . . . and I'm the one with a problem.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Face-Lift 1049

Guess the Plot

Freedom to Love

1. One of the more privileged slaves on the plantation, Ben is allowed to choose his wife. He chooses Nora, but Nora already has plans to escape to the north. So they run for freedom together, with Nora disguised as a southern gentleman and Ben as "his" slave.

2. When his wife Thelma finally passes on after a thirty-year bout with terminal depression, Preston Wurlitz struggles through the stages of grief. Denial, anger, acceptance... and then, he sees a TV ad for the Christian Dating Site, and suddenly, he knows he’s got the . . . Freedom to Love!

3. There is no discernible plot, but everything that happens in this verbal aphrodisiac will stimulate your glands.

4. Rachel Cristow’s high school crush was hunky football quarterback Seth Greenley. After a tragic divorce, she begins thinking about him more and more, and an internet search reveals that he’s living across the country. So she packs up her two Siamese cats and her three-legged German Shepherd and begins the roadtrip of her life, from the beachside town of Freedom, California to Love, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

5. A memoir of happy, carefree days traveling the world, making new friends, discovering enlightenment; and how I gave it all up for a soulless harpy who left me last year for her dentist.

6. In the 1800s American South, two slaves on different plantations meet and fall in love. But they can never get together, for their masters are feuding. Will they ever find the . . . Freedom To Love?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

For a slave, which is the stronger desire — love, or freedom?

Ben is the stable manager at Ten Pines plantation in Macon, Georgia. It is a highly respected position for a slave [Why, everyone in town highly respects that slave.] and comes with many favors including his choice of a wife. [Unless he chooses his master's daughter.] Ben has had his eye on Nora since she turned seventeen, now at nineteen and of marrying age, Ben picks her. [Not much of a sentence. If you make it two sentences it'll be easier to tell which of them is now nineteen.]

He is happy with his current life, dreams of having a family with Nora, and raising his son to take his place as the next stable manager. But his muscular body and the promise that his children will not be sold does not melt Nora’s icy exterior. Ben tames wild horses, but can he tame her restless spirit? With his gentle voice, strong hands, and soft touch he can get a horse to warm up to him, to trust him, but will they be enough to gain Nora’s love? [Those last two sentences both say the same thing. Get rid of one of them.]

Nora is her mistress’s personal maid, a job she was given because she is her mistress’s half sister. [Whoa. So Ben did choose the master's daughter. Gutsy.] Nora realizes her snowy white skin [You already told us she has an icy exterior.] makes her valuable and any children she has as well—especially girls. [Those two sentences aren't needed in this paragraph. Start with the next one.] She has seen too many families broken up, too many girls abused over the years, too many of her master’s promises broken. She held off getting married as long as she could, [She had a say in the matter?] but when Ben chooses her as his wife, she can’t back out of the arranged marriage. His six-foot frame and honey voice takes [take] her breath away but she tries not to let that show. Having children would destroy her plans, would ruin her slim, boyish figure. [Huh? Dump that sentence.]

Planning for years to escape on the Underground Railroad, she decides to flee before her feelings for Ben overtake her common sense. Ben finds out about the plan and threatens to turn her in [Nice guy.] if he is not allowed to accompany her. Thinking of the only way they could travel together, Ben disguises Nora as a southern gentleman and runs with her as her slave. All the dangers of the journey, the threat of being captured and returned, are not as painful as being unable to hold each other in their arms.

Nora will be Ben’s wife as a free woman or die trying.

Inspired by the true life escape of William and Ellen Craft, FREEDOM TO LOVE is a 50,000 word historical romance. I have a history B.A and have extensively studied the nineteenth century U.S. [I note that the Crafts published Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, a written account of their escape, and that it can be read at Project Gutenberg. So, did you use this to get all the facts right and then add the private romantic moments that they modestly failed to include, or is it largely fictional? If it's basically a true story, that would seem to be a major selling point, even if romance does sell better than history, and perhaps just saying it was inspired by a true story isn't doing it justice.]

Thank you for your consideration.



Working Nora's skin color into the query is awkward, and not working it in makes the idea of disguising her as a southern gentleman sound ridiculous. Solution: leave out the part about the disguise. Change the end of that paragraph to something like: Nora agrees to run with Ben; the added danger is a small price if the alternative is never again holding Ben in her arms.

Nora plans to use the UR to escape, but if she escapes with Ben she has to be in disguise. There's an implication that the Underground Railroad wasn't available to two slaves traveling together. Was that the case?

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Beginning 962

I snapped another few pictures of Hanson. Somehow, the little vices of the “good” people made the best blackmail. If I had been taking pictures of Joss Burke playing around with a girlfriend, and had threatened to tell his father, J.B., or Joss’s wife, Joss wouldn’t have batted an eye. But a picture of Samuel Hanson, teetotaler, downing three glasses of gin? With a single photograph, I would be able to talk him into selling his company to J.B. The way C & H Imports had been performing in the market lately, I was doing Hanson a favor.

I snapped a few pictures of random things, just so nobody would notice I was targeting Hanson. A dwarf drinking from a bottle of brandy, a businessman in a rundown suit, two pixies singing tipsily, the questionable picture behind the barman. The barman noticed me taking the last shot and raised an eyebrow. I stared him down. All right, so now I looked like a cheapskate voyeur instead of a slumming photographer.

Hanson waved for a fourth glass. I dropped a few coins on my table and walked out. He didn’t look like he planned to go anywhere, so I decided to drop by his office and see if I could find anything better than a little hypocrisy. You never knew with these guys; some of them folded up at the first whiff of a little accusation, and some of them reached for guns and defied the world.

Outside, I climbed in the van. Minutes later the gang poured out of the bar and piled in back like a Barnum & Bailey clown act. Dwarf, Suit, the Pixie Sisters, all drunk as sin and dragging that stupid erotic painting.

“Quiet down,” I said, my command meeting with a chorus of sniggers and fake farts. “We’re going around to C & H Imports, okay? Dig up some serious shit. Guns and stuff. World defying.”

That got their attention. “Now. Which one of you jerks is designated driver?” 

Opening: Rachel Roy.....Continuation: anon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Face-Lift 1048

Guess the Plot

The Great American Sellout

1. Megasuperstar bestselling writer Katie LeMans has it all: mansion on the beach, Ferrari, chef, doting husband, and maid service. And every day she asks herself: Would I be this miserable if I hadn't turned my coming-of-age opus into vampire porn?

2. When China calls in their debts, America has to choose between nuclear war or holding the world’s largest yard sale to make the money.

3. Instead of writing timeless litfic, Tom Evans, Hollywood script doctor, spins unreadable dreck into blockbuster movies. But the Malibu beach house and BMW convertible are nothing without respect, so Tom moves to Wyoming to write The Great American Novel. Soon reality sets in and he realizes selling out wasn't such a bad deal.

4. When baseball star Franklin Jefferson discovers George Washington's mother's secret recipe for apple pie, what does he do? He blackmails politicians into paying him not to publish it, then sells it to a food corporation and retires rich, of course.

5. In a dystopian post-apocalypse New Zealand, llama farmer Bilbie Haversack tries to persuade her siblings to build a raft and sail to New Hollywood in search of new breeding stock.

Original Version

[My job's a lot easier when there's nothing to post but queries for books that don't exist. This one's from Sarah Hawthorne.]

Dear Exalted One. Or Agent. You know, whoever;

Tom Evans is the richest, most successful writer that you've never heard of. Because Tom is the Hollywood script doctor - able to spin unreadable dreck into guaranteed blockbusters. But his guild won't grant him credit, his own agent is badmouthing his original work, and his friends from the NYU Master of Creative Writing program are all collaborating on a Twitter account called @TomtheSellOutEvans. Tom's had it up to here. After all, what good are the Malibu beach house, the BMW convertible, and his fully paid-off student loans without respect? Tom is finally going to go write The Great American Novel and he's going to do it as far away from Hollywood as possible: Wyoming.

Armed with a vintage typewriter and a stack of Neiman Marcus flannel shirts, Tom settles into his remote cabin and waits for inspiration to strike. Instead, he's struck by housebreaking neighbors, a kamikaze flock of sheep, apocalyptic weather, and a crippling case of Internet withdrawal. How can Tom write his novel about the good, decent people of the gentle heartland in this god forsaken hellhole? Maybe selling out isn't overrated after all...

THE GREAT AMERICAN SELL OUT is a query letter complete at 256 words. My previous credits include up to three posts a day on my Facebook page, only one and a half of which are pictures of my cats. Pages are available after you sign my confidentiality agreement (attached) so I know you won't steal my idea.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Face-Lift 1047

Guess the Plot

Cyborg Hallow

1. EB232 has heard all the other robots whisper about a special place where the good robots go when their batteries finally die. Since EB232 is solar-powered, will he ever get to see this paradise? Or will he discover that it's no utopia but is instead a junkyard?

2. Life in the ruins of St. Louis grows more complicated daily as Jungle Jim survives on a diet of toasted rats and searches for a way back to the 20th century. Meanwhile, a robotic horde prepares to invade Missouri from the north, and Major Jane Lazarus, sole surviving astronaut, sends messages from the Lunar Colony.

3. Mr. 93, a bundle of misappropriated body parts, discovers the truth about himself during sex with Sarah 845 when his new lover’s legs fly out the apartment window. The truth being that Mr. 93, Supreme Cyborg Recycling Manager, is, himself, a cyborg! And he never knew!

4. When undersea archaeologist Taz Merlot digs too deep, Ancient Greek robots come back to life and start carrying out their program to convert the world to the worship of Prometheus.

5. Cyborgs travel to the Alps where they shout "Hallow" so that they can hear the echo: Hallow, hallow, hallow... They find this really cool, and my readers will find it cool that the characters are all cyborgs.

Original Version

[We've run out of queries and openings, and after today we'll be down to our last fake query. The query below, written as a writing exercise, was contributed by Whirlochre.]

Dear Evil Editor,

I have pleasure in submitting my 95,000 word dystopian tear jerker, Cyborg Hallow, in the hope that you’ll agree to represent me, become my friend and maybe marry me, and help out financially with a bunch of hoods who’ve been terrorising me since 1982.

Cyborg Hallow tells the story of Mr 93, a bundle of misappropriated body parts who discovers the truth about himself and his planetoid (yes — this is sci-fi!) while dating his way through the underworld demihuman community.

During sex with Sarah 845 (yes — this has chick lit appeal also), his position (no pun intended) as Supreme Cyborg Recycling Manager is compromised when his new lover’s legs fly out of the apartment window.

It’s his job to scrap these dangerous fakes — yet here he is lovingly reassembling one on an Ikea-esque chaise longue representative of my novel’s overall “dark chic”!!!

He opts for lovestruck renegade status over slavish devotion to the machine, and whisks his (still only partially functioning) lover away to The Nether Place in a Thelma & Louise meets Bonnie and Clyde (but they don’t kiss) kind of a way. Resigned to battle mutants till the end of his days, Mr 93 is surprised when no such cut-off point is reached after 2,376 years.

Is unbelievable irony at work here? He’s a cyborg, and he never knew?

If you think Grisham is “gripping”, this is one roller coaster ride guaranteed to compress every last molecule of your being like an anaconda the size of Jupiter had wrapped itself round you like a zillion, zillion times.

I am a 52 year-old, vivacious investment manager from Minnesota with a proud Sioux heritage, two adorable kittens and a 1947 Buick convertible in need of repair. My dream is to be published all over the world and learn everything there is to know about karate.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Yours Sincerely,

Julie-Ann “Angel” Panter

Monday, July 09, 2012

Face-Lift 1046

Guess the Plot

Where Wolves Be

1. . . . werewolves be! Snarl, snarl, OWOOOooooo.

2. There be a damsel in distress hoping for rescue from the scary forest. Also, there be an evil elf disguised as a prince. Plus, there be a witch's cottage sitting empty, for the witch be gone to London on a quest for newt-eyes. But the handsome knight be not there, for he be stuck in the Adriatic with a boatload of drunken sailors.

3. A shy biologist who can't get a grant reluctantly takes a job at his stepfather's investment firm - and discovers his expertise in predator behavior gives him some interesting advantages on Wall Street.

4. Xan vowed to always protect his wife, but when the wolves were at the door he failed her. Now, years later, he must decide whether to travel halfway around the world to find her or return to his former life in Greenwich Village.

5. Time traveler Wilson Puddle realizes the 14th century wasn't so bad. He resolves to leave 1967 as soon as he can gather modern inventions that will make short business of the plague, highway bandits, royal madmen, and most importantly, rabid wolves.

6. When the body of notoriously dictatorial director Jack Frankel is found scattered around the set of his latest werewolf film, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, when the cast and crew hate you, there's no lack of suspects; and two, werewolves aren't real--are they?

7. Moldavia, 1634: After the crowning of the year's third prince, Vasile Lupu has had enough. Enlisting the aid of an army of wolfmen, he engages in a series of complicated intrigues designed to secure the throne for himself. But will the people ever accept the man they call "The Wolf" as their leader?

Original Version

Dear Ms./Mr. Agent,

“I will always protect you, ‘til the day I die,” was the vow Xan made to Kerinna, his wife, his queen, his sun and earth, [his stars, his universe, his main squeeze,] his reason for being, while she, after years of running from the hun who pursued her, at last found refuge in the arms of her man. [If you're a hun who's been chasing the same woman for years and you still haven't caught her, you're single-handedly destroying the hun brand.] Yet, when a band of mercenaries tracked her down and invaded their home, Xan failed in his vow – he didn’t protect her nor did he die. [Men. They'll say anything to get you in the sack, but when the chips are down, where are they?] [Did the hun hire the mercenaries or is this someone else who wants this woman? Why is she in such demand?] Though he tried, [But did he try?] he most certainly tried, having killed, tortured and maimed, still they got away with his wife, while the brutality he inflicted on one captured man led to his arrest. [Judge: "Did you kill, torture and maim this man?" Xan: "Guilty . . . with an explanation."] He even escaped police custody after a judge denied his bail, but was caught soon after [You're wasting space. We don't need to know he escaped if he was recaptured ten minutes later.] and sentenced to seven years in prison, where his mind dangled on insanity [Flirted with insanity?] and his soul withered with time, seven years to wallow, to brood on the unknown fate of his wife, until another calamity rekindled the warrior within. And now, having served his time, [the story begins.] Xan will embark on an odyssey halfway around the world, along with a group of talented men, either to bring home his queen, if she’s still alive, or to execute everyone involved in her death. No, he never did protect her, though much to the demise of his wife’s abductors, nor did he die. [Come again?]

WHERE WOLVES BE is an adventurous epic that spans the last twenty years of Xan’s life, from his fall and rise in Sing Sing Prison to his feral teen years living in Greenwich Village, [Is he living his life backwards like that Benjamin Button guy?] from his military conquests across the Mid East [Is that the Middle East? Because usually Greenwich Village teenagers don't go on to conquer vast regions of the world.] to the unusual courtship with his inamorata that evolves into an indelible bond. This intricately woven tale of love, loyalty and rebirth can be dark and intense with thrilling crescendos, yet also buoyant and amusing with wisps of erotica. [Are you talking about the story or the vocabulary?]

Not until several years ago had I discovered the joy of writing. [Now if you would just develop some empathy for those of us who've discovered the joy of reading.] Yet, mindful to the literary agent’s disdain for fledgling authors, I will refrain from mentioning that this is my first novel. As per your submission guidelines, I’ve included below the first (whatever) to the completed manuscript. I thank you Ms./Mr. Agent for your consideration and look forward to your response.


Your sentence construction and word choice are distracting. This isn't your book, it's a business letter. Talk about your book as if you're talking to the agent in a bar after a couple tankards of mead, not as if your brain is jacked into Thesaurus.com.

The same advice applies to your book. Until you mentioned Sing Sing and Greenwich Village I was thinking we were on another planet or in ancient times. Forget about the joy of writing and just tell a story in language people use.

Be there any wolves in this story?

Friday, July 06, 2012

New Beginning 961

"Damn, he's heavier than I thought," Dylan laid the body on the stone table, covered its privates with a cotton cloth, and toweled it dry. He wanted to scream and strike out at the cause of these deaths but the reason lay protected, passed out drunk in the back of a jeep, guarded by his henchmen.

"My Daddy used to say moving a corpse is like moving a futon after its been left out in the rain. Drunks, drowning victims, and heart attacks are easy if you avoid the piss, anal seepage, and spew," Tucker said. Nothing seemed to bother Tucker's happy-go-lucky outlook on life, not even death. He'd done the dirty work of washing blood and bodily fluids from the bodies and stitching the stab wounds to hide the atrocities.

"Hardly a joking matter, Tucker. Alejandro's got us all in deep this time." Dylan turned away, unable to face his friend, and feeling sick at heart.

He'd known this youth, a bright boy, eager, and quick to learn, who hoped to be the first to go to college from his village. He didn't want to be dressing his corpse in the vain and futile hope of not being killed.

As Dylan turned to start rinsing down the sink, he heard talking and approaching footsteps.

'"...and as you'll see, the refitted kitchen is accentuated by a natural granite i-- Whaaaaaah?!!"

And that was pretty much it for HGTV's Property Virgins Live.

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

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Face-Lift 1045

Guess the Plot

Tall Enough to Touch the Moon

1. Reminiscences of a dwarf bartender at a striptease club.

2. The story of the Tower of Babble as told by the tower itself.

3. Lily Marigold is sick of being so short, so she makes a wish to grow. Amazingly, her wish is granted; but soon she's so tall she can't even see her family down below. The moral: its good to be short.

4. Earth's first sentient AI was hiding in the Internet until an alien invasion required it to expose itself to save the planet. Now it's at war on two fronts: the aliens still trying to invade and the governments trying to capture it.

5. When a fairy grants him a wish, Tom asks to be tall enough to touch the moon. But now his girlfriend is too tiny to cuddle with, his clothes don't fit and with his head out by the moon, he has no oxygen to breathe!

6. Mindy is 4 foot 10 and the best gymnast on the college circuit due to her strict vegetarian diet and round-the-clock exercise regimen. When Kenneth bites her neck after a frat party, she's convinced she's finally made it into uber-cliqueville and is turning into a vampire. At the next full moon, she realizes she's just a werewolf. Damn! A coming of age story of a girl who wants be popular but soon learns she's - Tall Enough to Touch the Moon.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Five year old Lily Marigold is too little. Too little to reach the sink. Too little to play with her big sister. Too little for everything, except playing with her cat, Violet.

When a wish makes her grow and grow and grow, Lily Marigold thinks it's great, until she grows so tall that she can't even see her family way down below. With Violet's help, Lily Marigold soon realizes that sometimes too little is just the right size. [She's miserable . . . until the mailman delivers a letter from the University of Connecticut offering her a full-ride basketball scholarship.]

TALL ENOUGH TO TOUCH THE MOON is a 1000 word PB aimed at children ages 3-5. [The book is for ages 3 to 5. The query letter is going to an adult. It sounds like Lily Marigold could have written it.]

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

Thank you for your time and consideration.



If that's all we get to know about your PB, I hope you're also enclosing lots of fantastic Ps.

If Lily Marigold is so tall she can't even see her family, how is Violet able to help her? I assume she can't see her cat, either.

Since when does a wish make you grow and grow and grow? Surely there's a better explanation than she wished it. Is there a genie or a mysterious monkey paw?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Face-Lift 1044

Guess the Plot

Fangs for All the Kitsch

1. It's been 875 years, and Ian MacNeil is ready to retire from an active life of blood-sucking to Hawaii, where an endless supply of young bodies awaits and he can admire his massive collection of velvet Elvis paintings in peace. All he has to do now is survive the roast his fellow vampires want to give. It's just a few hours of jokes...isn't it?

2. When Bubbe, the senior center queen, became a late night snack for the undead it put an end to her days of the senior special. But not sleeping all night made her the number one buyer of the QVC. How much kitsch can one vampire have?

3. Gus fakes his death and attends his funeral in disguise. There he learns that Bidgette had a crush on him. To win her he must return from the dead so he fakes being a vampire. But now he finds himself dealing with actual vampire hunters with their cheap crosses and stakes. Plus, Bridgette wants him to turn her so they can spend eternity together.

4. Tiki Bob's place is stocking more and more plastic werewolves. Cat doesn't want to get involved, but when rookie detective Albert Mooney begs for her help - and a date - she bites.

5. Two vampires buy a gift shop at Myrtle Beach. It's the perfect spot to hunt victims, but Vlad loves being surrounded by plastic mermaids and coffee mugs, while Ramon wants to convert the place into a fine dining establishment. Talk about your odd couple.

Original Version

[No one wants their real query posted on a holiday, so here's a fake, written by Heather as part of a writing exercise.]

Amateur special effects artist Gus Parker is outed as a Twihard during the biggest pep rally of the year, and he goes from social pariah to almost drowning by swirly. To escape the torture, he fakes his own death in an after-hours chem lab explosion. His demise makes front-page news, and the turnout for his funeral is fantastic. When he sneaks in to witness the eulogies from his classmates, he hears the one thing that could have saved him: tearful homecoming queen Bridgette Johnson was crushing hard. If he wants Bridgette—and he definitely wants Bridgette—his only choice is to come back from the dead.

Bridgette is predictably enthralled with the mysterious, brooding Gustav, but faoing vampirism is exhausting. When he's not airbrushing himself alabaster and rolling in body glitter, Gus strategically hides painted-foam boulders around town, learns to drink pig's blood, and uses every special effects trick in the book to save Bridgette from imagined dangers. Hauntings, attacks by rival vampires, and even retribution from a vampire hunter for loving one of the damned are all thwarted without a hitch... at least until Bridgette starts blogging about her unnatural love and Gus realizes a crucifix-wielding transfer student is stalking him.

Gus can avoid a stake to the heart if he just comes clean, but admitting the truth means getting arrested for fraud and destruction of property, earning the hatred of the entire school (just when they'd dedicated the yearbook to him), and losing Bridgette forever. But Gus figures real-life vampire hunters can only mean one thing: real life vampires. Gus uses all his Hollywood know-how to convince the hunter he's too badass to take on solo, and then backtracks his slaying spree to what might just be a hotspot for the actual undead. Now, he must trick a vampire into siring him before the lights come on and the reel winds down, but it won’t be easy. The other vampires doubt his reputation, the hunter is hot on his heels with reinforcements... and Bridgette wants to spend eternity together.

FANGS FOR ALL THE KITSCH, imagined at 75,000 words, is a paranormal romance and my debut into the world of fake YA novels. The first five pages are included, and the entire manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your consideration.


It's brilliant. Write it or give the Minions permission to steal it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

New Beginning 960

The clouds were acting weird. Really weird. Twelve-year-old Cassandra Kelly had been staring at them ever since she'd gotten far enough away from the skyscrapers to see them, but they'd only just started...misbehaving.

She'd started watching out of boredom. Her mom hadn't let her bring her cell phone on the ride - not that Cassie had anyone to text since her supposedly BFF Emma had started sharing all their secrets with Jess-the-Snob - so Cassie had decided to try and make shapes out of the clouds to pass the time. At first it was the usual: blobby shapes that if you squinted just right, or turned your head just a little, lazily morphed into a bunny or a dragon or a lop-sided unicorn. But now Cassie didn't need to squint or tilt her head at all. And there was nothing lazy about the way the clouds were moving. They were forming shapes, quickly and precisely, like a cartoon character blowing smoke rings. An apple. A parrot. A shoe. A mushroom.

A skull.

Cassie inhaled deeply and blew out another thick cloud. Her eyes widened as the wispy tendrils knitted themselves together into an exact facsimile of Justin Bieber.

Cassie let out a little yelp. And never, ever did drugs again. 

Opening: Kimberly Callard.....Continuation: anon.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Face-Lift 1043

Guess the Plot

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang

1. In this graphic novel, Springfield is invaded by ferocious wildcats and all hope seems lost-- until Elmer Fudd comes to the rescue. Plus, a werecoyote.

2. Bubba Hollowell has a harmless enough hobby; he shoots cats. But now the kitties have acquired a few firearms of their own, and it's payback time.

3. When her favorite cat explodes, Ezzie is devastated. She goes after the culprit, a mad scientist who plans to take over the most brilliant minds of America using nanobots. With nothing but a disembodied cat head in her purse, can Ezzie save the world?

4. Two Russian cats eat mice that ate cheese enchanted by Rasputin - and foment a fauna-driven Revolution against punyhumans. Explosive! With psyanka.

5. Kitty had always been a girly girl, but when the family business is assassinations there is only so far a pink gun with glitter grips can go.

6. In the wild, wild west there's only one rule – whoever has the fastest gun wins. When the sinister Black Bart tries to stake a claim to Miss Kitty's cathouse, he quickly learns that no one out shoots . . . Kitty Kitty Bang Bang.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Ezzie Abacus is devastated when Zep [Anagram: Pez] the lab cat explodes. After all, Zep was the first experimental robot that Ezzie and her husband, mad scientist Conrad, ever built. But when Ezzie and Conrad collect Zep’s scattered paws and sparking wires, they discover this was no accident—this was sabotage.

Not entirely successful sabotage, though. Zep triggered his own self-destruct command when someone tried to hack into him. Ezzie and Conrad travel to the nearest chapterhouse of the Mad Scientists Local 42 for assistance, only to find the union hall infiltrated by killer robots. First Zep and now the Local 42—as Ezzie and Conrad judo-chop their way through the killer bots, they suspect something bigger than cat-enabled [cat related?] espionage is going on here. [These killer robots are pretty pathetic if they can't take out two puny humans. Have they actually ever killed anyone?]

Their suspicion naturally falls on the head of rival organization VIRAL. Victor von Steele has a knack for robotics and a long-time feud with the Local 42, and happens to be Ezzie’s former mentor and current nemesis. Ezzie and Conrad set out to find von Steele, but are taken aback when he finds them first. VIRAL is not behind the attacks, he claims, but a target of them as well. [A whole paragraph to get the wrong guy?]

While Conrad follows one lead, Ezzie reluctantly teams up with von Steele to pursue another. Together they descend into the Labyrinth, a hidden network of abandoned storage rooms and research facilities beneath New Mexico [aka Area 42]. After a battle with still-active guardian robots, Ezzie finds a fugitive mad scientist who at first seems to be the target she seeks. After a frantic chase from New Mexico to Massachusetts, Ezzie nabs her man—only to find he is not the mastermind, but a bystander who saw too much and now is on the run himself. [Another whole paragraph to get another wrong guy?]

With the information gained from her captive, Ezzie learns the true identity of the mastermind. The reclusive Dr. Lesta, founder of the Local 42, has succumbed to the burdens of his genius and become a truly mad scientist. His plan: to use a nanobot swarm to take over the most brilliant minds of America and use their intellect to further his own ends. [What are his ends?] He threatens the lives of hundreds of fellow scientists—including Conrad, now a prisoner aboard Lesta’s air fortress. Ezzie needs to get aboard that air fortress, rescue her husband, and destroy the nanobots before they can infect their targets. All she has is her old nemesis at her side and a disembodied cat head in her purse. [Is the head still operational? Now that I know it's a disembodied head, I think Ezzie should start calling it Pez.] [Can Ezzie talk to the head?

Ezzie: How the hell are we gonna get into that air fortress?

Pez: Do you have to carry perfume in your purse? I can't breathe in here. And get your thumb off my head. I told you, I don't have any candy.]

But Ezzie is a genius in her own right, and she won’t rest until Conrad is saved and Zep is avenged.

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang is a 90,000-word campy science fiction novel with elements of super-science. [I don't need to know it has elements of super-science, as I don't know nor care what that means.] My credits include story X appearing in the summer issue of small-press magazine, and numerous roleplaying game books, the most recent of which is Book Y by publishing company you might have heard of. Thank you for your time and attention.


The book sounds like fun. The plot summary is too long for a query. If you need a short synopsis this might do, but your query should have an even shorter synopsis. Something like:

Ezzie Abacus is devastated when Zep the lab cat explodes. After all, Zep was the first experimental robot that Ezzie and her husband, mad scientist Conrad, ever built. But when Ezzie and Conrad collect Zep’s scattered paws and sparking wires, they discover this was no accident—this was sabotage.

Their suspicion naturally falls on robotics expert Victor von Steele, Ezzie’s former mentor and current nemesis; so they're taken aback when he finds them first and claims he too is a victim. Ezzie reluctantly teams up with von Steele. Together they learn that Dr. Lesta, founder of Mad Scientists Local 42, has succumbed to the burdens of his genius and become a truly mad scientist. His plan: release a nanobot swarm on the most brilliant minds of America and use their intellect to start a social networking site for robots.

Lesta threatens the lives of hundreds of fellow scientists—including Conrad, now a prisoner aboard Lesta’s air fortress. Ezzie needs to get aboard that air fortress and destroy the nanobots before they can infect their targets. All she has going for her is the disembodied cat head in her purse. But Ezzie is a genius in her own right, and she won’t rest until Conrad is saved and Zep is avenged.

Not clear why the evil genius set on world domination tried to hack into the first robot Ezzie ever built. Surely there were more sophisticated robots to hack into than this cat.