Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Beginning 1083

Running. I’ve just got to keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other. And breathing of course, I mustn’t forget that. I can hear them right behind me; the footsteps cracking the same twigs mine just cracked, the lungs sucking in and blowing out my partly used air. They’re getting closer, and I don’t even know what they’ll do if they catch me, but it’ll definitely be terrible and it’ll all be my fault, for taking the short cut through the woods even though I’ve been told (how many times!) that it’s not safe at this time of day, and it’s not so much further to go the other way and… Just keep going, keep going…

Then…I can’t hear them any more. They’ve stopped.

I’m still focussed on escape, watching for trip hazards on the ground instead of looking forward, when I blunder into something. It’s not soft, but it doesn’t hurt, even when it …she… grabs my arms and hisses “What the fuck, Bry?”

It’s big sister Jen – only three years older, but with her by my side I can turn and face them. And it turns out they aren’t six feet tall and armed with mutant superpowers, just normal kids, my age, maybe even a bit younger. Jen just stands there glaring, arms folded, and they slink off. They don’t even know she does Judo at the weekends, it’s all in her, I don’t know, her posture I suppose.

“Jesus, Bry, do I have to do everything for you?”

Hmm, yes, the glaring works on me too and I feel about 6 years old.

That's probably because I am six years old.

Suddenly, everything goes black. As I slump to the ground, cracking twigs, I hear
Jen's voice: "What the fuck, Bry? Did you forget to breathe again?"

Opening: Mel.....Continuation: St0n3henge

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Face-Lift 1384

Guess the Plot

The Tragedy of Us

1. He's a millennial wine snob who wears deck shoes with no socks and keeps a vinyl record collection of bands before they "sold out." I'm a neo-hippie life coach and chakra counselor who shames mothers for using disposable diapers. How did we get this way? He blames Mom. I blame society. 

2. She's a political 
activist, carb lover, and future Pulitzer Prize winner. He's a star athlete who needs a tutor if he's ever gonna get that diploma. The question is, which one will drag the other down to rock bottom?

3. Throughout history, our souls have been reborn and found one another, but never quite connected. In 500 BC, I heard your song calling me, but I didn't hear the rampaging elephant herd. In 1903, you ran to me with arms outstretched, but got pulled under the wheels of the first car either of us had ever seen. That time you were a beekeeper and I ran a peanut farm, and both of us were ready to learn about love, but learned about anaphylaxis instead. Can we ever fulfill our destinies, and somehow avoid another bad ending?

4. A Marin County couple share the methods by which they've managed to overcome such lifestyle-threatening adversities as: How to live with only ten streaming services; My smart toilet stopped talking to me; Amazon delivered the skin exfoliator to my wrong Tesla. 

5.  Andrew and Jonathan, a Manhattan power couple, try to come to grips with where they failed after their adopted child Carl's resume is rejected from the Chelsea Kids Preschool.

6. She put a promising career on hold to raise their children. He became a Supreme Court Justice despite committing perjury and attempted rape. It doesn't look good for this baby-boomer couple.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Charlie is young enough to think she knows it all until life sends her [a] curve ball forcing her to reevaluate everything, even herself. 

The Tragedy of US [Us] is a young Adult [adult] contemporary novel, which is complete at 85k [words]. I believe this book will appeal to Simone’s [Simone] Elkeles and Kasie West fans. 

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Miller—activist, smartass and carb lover—is sure she has it all figured out. She has a plan: finish high school with her best friend, then go to college to become a Pulitzer prize winning [Pulitzer Prize-winning] journalist - clear and simple, right?

Things change when she finds herself doing something she never thought she would do – tutoring, against her will, one of the school’s star athletes. [What "things change"? Her plans to finish high school, go to college and become a journalist?] She realizes there might be something more than what meets the eye. [Something more to what than what meets the eye? To life?] As she finds herself involved in a situation which is more than she bargains [bargained] for – she understands that even our own selves can cheat us, let us down and somehow surprise us. [What situation is she in that's more than she bargained for?] When the time comes to make hard choices she had [has] to decide if she steps up, runs away or hides to [from] everyone even herself? [That was a question?] [What happens that forces her to choose whether to step up, run away or hide?] [This paragraph is totally vague. We need specific information about what happens in your book.]

I am a 36 years old Corporate Lawyer, but writing has always been my passion which I tried to satisfy by publishing many fanfictions and being a co-owner of a facebook blog called ‘xxxxx’ which has now close to 10,000 followers. However, I have decided it is not enough and have taken the leap and wrote [written] my first novel. [This paragraph is a waste of space, better used telling us about the plot.]

For your convenience, I’ve attached the three first chapters [Presumably you mean the first three chapters. Although a book with three first chapters would be good for readers who quit reading after one chapter. Now, if you don't like the first chapter, instead of giving up on the book you can try one of the other two first chapters.] [Once you have a first chapter you like, you then get three second chapters to choose from. Etc. I see this as the future of reading.] of The Tragedy of Us. I would love to send you the complete manuscript if you’re interested.


Your first sentence is a log line, the type of opening you might use if trying to sell a movie script. Your second paragraph should come before you start telling us about the plot or after you finish telling us about the plot. Preferably the latter, as it lacks attention-grabbing information. Your plot summary is vague. All I know is a high school student who aspires to be a journalist is ordered to tutor an athlete. 

There are way too many minor errors. This leads me to assume the book has minor errors on every page, and I don't want to have to deal with that. As a corporate lawyer, you know the importance of getting all the details just right. Start over.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Face-Lift 1383

Guess the Plot

Heil Safari

1. When Diedrich Heil is sent to an adventure camp for troubled teens, he's hoping to hike to the nearest town and spend the summer busking. The problem: the camp is in the middle of Africa, 200 miles from civilization, and his singing tends to attract hostile wildlife.

2. Being a German prisoner in an American POW camp in WWII is bad enough, but when you also suffer from wire enclosure fever, can your fellow POWs trust you to build a tunnel under the barbed wire and lead them to freedom across the Mexican border?

3. Hijinks ensue when a group of Hitler Youth are sent to Africa to "toughen up" for a possible war. What with rampaging rhinos, bloodthirsty lions and territorial baboons, most of the 13-year-old kids won't survive to see combat. But it's all sooo much fun, who cares? 

4. Is Hitler alive and well in Argentina? Most people would say NO, but Sheldon Davis, grandson of Holocaust survivors and Moche culture specialist, is pretty sure he knows where Der Fuhrer is hiding. All he needs is a GoFundMe, some new phones to trade with the locals, a couple of mercenaries, and he'll be in business. If only he wasn't 12 years old.

5. Join Viktor on a guilt trip through polluted deserts, deforested jungles, a museum of endangered and extinct species, and a general wail about human ineptitude. Then, send him money. 

6. A documentary journal of a legion of Nazis sent to hunt rare animals. By the end, they all die (the Nazis that is).

7. A big game hunt gone wrong on the planet Heil VI leads to a missing heiress, a miraculous vaccine, and a spy working for so many sides he doesn't care anymore. Thankfully, Monty is on hand to tame the devils of Hell, er Heil, laser pistol-bullwhip style. Also, genetic manipulation gone horribly wrong. 

8. Did you know there are dangerous things like boar, stags, and wolves in Germany? Colin didn't either, and that's why he's now struggling to stay alive after his school's German club trip goes disastrously wrong. Also, an ancient Nazi hermit.

9.  1887. Helmut Schmeir, archaeologist and hunter, leads a dedicated group of scientists across German East Africa in search of the elusive Ogopogo, a living apatosaurus. With a love triangle between Schmeir, lovely Ingrid Braun, and Dr. Ludwig Meyer. 

Original Version

German officer Captain Martin Beyer is desperate to escape from an American prisoner of war camp. To get out, he and other prisoners are digging a tunnel under the barbed wire fence. Beyer's concern for its success is not only that the Americans might find it, but can it be finished by the engineer in charge, a mentally unstable officer on the verge of suicide from wire enclosure fever. [On the bright side, the barbed wire is above ground and the tunnel is underground.] 

Beyer is worried that his close friend, the engineer, may not complete the project of digging out for another reason. The engineer is in opposition to the fanatical Nazis who rule the camp inside, the Nazis regarding him as unpatriotic. They want him dead. They don't care if it jeopardizes the escape. [We don't mind escaping from this prison, but we refuse to escape through a tunnel built by someone we feel is insufficiently patriotic.] But Beyer can't allow failure. Being too long cooped in the enclosure, he's becoming unhinged. 

He must get out or die.

Through sheer determination and effort, and just as the Americans are about to discover the tunnel, Beyer manages the escape. [Typical officer, takes all the credit after doing none of the work.] On the outside they are met by Heidi Zimmermann, a German-American female relative of one of the escapees. She provides the initial transportation to the Mexican border. In pursuit to recapture the prisoners before they get there are camp guards and FBI agents. [Imagine, there was a time when the US tried to prevent people from crossing the border  into Mexico.] Beyer has trouble eluding them, but he will not give up. He would rather be killed than go back. ["The spectacular views of the mountains are nice, but they keep feeding us those damn Rocky Mountain oysters."] [How many escapees are there? Does Heidi have a bus? It wouldn't be hard to recapture escapees if they were on a 700-mile bus trip.]

It remains little known that during World War II there were over 360,000 German POWs interned in the United States. [450,000 according to Wikipedia.] My story is based on the true event that at Camp Trinidad, Colorado, prisoners escaped through a tunnel. [Camp Trinidad opened in 1943, and while I would become unhinged after two weeks in a POW camp, it seems like a professional soldier ought to be able to handle it for a few years.]

HEIL SAFARI is a 90,000 word thriller novel that is told from three points of view: the German prisoners, the American guards, and the FBI agents. I've had articles and short stories published in magazines, and I have a bachelor's degree in philosophy from a state university. Thank you for your time ans [and] consideration. Below I've included the first 10 pages. 


As these POW camps in the US remain little-known, it might be better to mention them up front. Otherwise the mention of the Mexican border may give readers who thought the setting was somewhere in Europe the impression this is alternate history in which WWII was fought on US soil.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Feedback Request

I failed to notice that this was a rewrite of an earlier query submission, and placed the title in the query queue. So you get to read some more fake plots for Adore. Most recently the title was seen here.

1. A literary novel about the symbiotic relationship between Maureen Montgomery and her 47 cats, all living in a Brooklyn apartment.

2. When a singer at a local Italian restaurant and theater goes silent mid-note during one of his late night practice sessions, 68-year-old next door neighbor Mac Fach (who's been complaining about the place for years) must find the killer, since between dementia and a bloody ax, he suspects it might be him. 

3. When spokesmodel for fragrance Adore La Alina turns up dead in a hotel swimming pool, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, that arrow through her head probably didn't drown her, and two, maybe his wife would like to try some Adore perfume instead of Chanel.

4. Jimmy has discovered a thousand guaranteed methods to pick up girls and wrote them down in a book. Only now that book has gone missing. Can he still woo the girl that has captured his heart this time, or will his faulty memory be his downfall? 

5. Casey thought Grummon loved her. "You are adore," he said, and she thought that was cute, in an English-isn't-my-first-language sort of way. Turns out he was saying "You are a door," in a human-soul-as-gateway-to-another-dimension sort of way. Crap. Now instead of people walking all over her, she has people (and other creatures) walking right through her. Worst of all, she thinks she might be pregnant. 

Dear Evil Editor,

Fourteen year old Liz Morton is so weak she can barely hold her recess apple let alone chew it. [No need to tell us it's her recess apple, unless she has no trouble holding non-recess apples.] Something is deeply wrong. Liz follows her intuition to secluded Spraggs Road, searching the forest for a cure to her exhaustion and spots Nathaniel Tillack at night fall. [She's too weak to hold an apple, but she can search a forest?] 

She met him the night before. She remembers that. Now. [I would go with: She remembers that . . . now.] Shocked at the holes in her memory, Liz opens up to him, sensing he has answers. Nat says he knows exactly how she feels. 'Empathy', apparently, is a sixth sense Liz doesn’t realize she possesses.  Nat is a vampire and his preternatural torment ( including his self-imposed starvation ) is stuck inside her and will kill her within weeks.

 Nat thinks they can solve the problem with a little experimentation. Liz stays with Nat, his dutch painter friend Yvonne and their freaky half-vampire cat at their cottage, so they can go on a midnight hunt. When Nat drinks blood from a victim, Liz feels instant relief. Just like Nat. He insists this insight has broken [means] the empathic connection [is broken] , and takes her home.

Only growing sicker, Liz can’t find Nat [Has she looked in his coffin?] and no doctor believes she’s ill. [She's too weak to hold an apple, yet multiple doctors say there's nothing wrong with her? Are her parents involved in trying to find out what's wrong with her?] With her last reserves of energy, she returns to Spraggs Road, but Nat's enemy is there. Wild eyed Isaskia explains Nat is just using Liz as a walking [living?] storage vessel for his 'Permanent Feeling' (the feeling that will haunt him for all eternity due to how the moment he died affected him.) [That's a wordy and vague explanation for "Permanent Feeling," which is also vague. I'd just say a living storage vessel for his anguish.] [Why is Isaskia there? If I'm the enemy of a vampire, I'm staying as far from his home as possible, not hanging out there. Is Isaskia also a vampire?]

 Liz doesn't know whom to trust: Nat, who has always been kind, or Isaskia, who is willing to share all those secrets Nat keeps close to his chest. One thing is certain, with her body thinking it's a starving vampire, the one person Liz cannot trust for anything is herself—and she is running out of time.

 ADORE, at 94,000-words, is a YA urban Fantasy novel set in a small mountain town in Australia. ( It's not a romance, despite title ) 

Thank you for your time and consideration, 


She suddenly remembers that she met this guy who's a vampire the night before she became impossibly weak, a vampire with whom she now has an empathic connection, and she can't decide whether to trust him? She needs to trust neither of them and check into a hospital for a full battery of tests.

This isn't doing it for me. Maybe start something like: After a night she can barely remember, 14-year-old Liz Morton is as weak as a kitten. She returns to secluded Spraggs Road, hoping to find a clue to her condition, and spots Nathaniel Tillack. Him she remembers. She senses that he has the answers she seeks.

Then Nat claims her exhaustion is caused by their empathy, which he can remedy.

Then Isaskia shows up and claims her exhaustion is caused by Nat, who's using her as a vessel for his anguish.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Face-Lift 1382

Guess the Plot

The Blade and the Bow

1. She has a short blade. He has a longbow. Together they must find the only key that separates two worlds, but the key is held by the brutal magpie who rules Katoomba, so forget it.

2. Raised by a single Elf mother, Rachisa learns to be tough and strong to defend the family. One night she has a visionary dream about her father, and goes on a journey to find him and since you're probably bored out of your mind by now, don't worry, she gets abducted by aliens from Tau Seti and turned into a velkron trainer.

3. One single blade of grass from the fabled Lawn of Dreams, or a thin strand of silk that was once tied into a bow to hold King Rockthorn's pony-tail. Alain, the chosen one, must select his weapon wisely. The blade or the bow? Of course, he is up against a barbarian horde with a dragon and a dark wizard, so he's pretty much screwed, either way. 

4. Elmer Humbrin was taught to always be respectful to the one he duels (and with a name like that, dueling is a common occurrence). Join him as he bows, genuflects, curtsies, bends the knee, kowtows, prostrates himself, and generally cuts every single opponent to ribbons. Yes, it's a serial killer novel. 

5. Orphaned in a mysterious oxcart explosion, peasant lad Ima Trope is raised by Orcs to become a warrior -- but Ima's love of ornamental candles cannot be crushed. When the Orc kingdom of Gru'Kak'Qtlstrk is threatened by Elves, can Ima's stunning table arrangements save the day, win over the Orc princess, and restore grace to Orcish mealtimes? 

6. The Blade is sharp. The bow-tie, crooked. Peter Wells-Larkin’s adoptive father (the Principal) informs Peter he’s leaving him out of his will. Months earlier Mr. Wells-Larkin Sr. discovered he has a biological son and everything’s going to him. But that's ok, if there's one thing Peter has, it's an alibi. 

7. Running a blacksmith shop has been difficult since Tin's father died, but it is the only thing keeping her family afloat. Yet when a ranger from beyond the mountains literally crashes into her shop, she must take up the blade to defend her home. 

8. The unlikely love affair between Priscilla, an itinerant knife-sharpener, and shoe-store clerk Oswald, he of buck teeth, suspenders and chronically-crooked bow tie, plays out in a series of quotidian events of little interest to anyone, including themselves. With that title, you were expecting an exciting tale of romance and derring-do set in the days when knighthood was in flower, weren't you? 

Original Version

Dear [Agent]:
Two hundred years after the world ended in ice, humanity endures in the sealed high-tech shelter of the Jenolan Caves, bound by the sacred duty of reproduction – a duty Tag Tailor is desperate to avoid. She hopes to be chosen as a Keeper: to lead, not breed. But it’s tough to make a good impression under the shadow of her disgraced ex-Breeder sister Sale, who clings to delusions of a livable world beyond Jenolan. When Tag is assigned as a Breeder to Sale’s insufferable former husband, she turns to Sale for help, but their disastrous escape attempt ends with Tag banished to the Waste, and Sale left behind.
The world above is far from the barren nightmare her Keepers threatened. With the help of an irascible crippled hermit, and the hindrance of a charming runaway thief, Tag learns to survive, [When you said the place was far from the barren nightmare etc. I assumed it wasn't such a bad place after all. Now you say Tag has to learn to survive. What's bad about the Waste?] haunted by the knowledge that she walks free in her sister’s place. [They both wanted to come here, so why is she in her sister's place?] Determined to breach the impenetrable Jenolan and rescue Sale, she must find the only Key that ever made it out. That Key is held by the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, who seeks Jenolan weapons she can use to unleash hell on the mountain folk who won’t fall into line... folk like Tag’s new friends. [Is Lor an actual magpie?] All the Lor needs is the location of Jenolan’s door - something Tag alone knows. And the Lor isn’t the only one searching. [Is Lor the Magpie's name? If so, why do you keep saying the Lor?] [Also, when one of your characters is the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, no one's gonna care about any of your other characters, so you may as well mention the Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba earlier in the query.]

To protect Jenolan and the Waste from one another, Tag knows she should walk away. But there’s someone inside she can’t leave behind, even if it means opening a door that has kept two worlds apart for centuries.
Some seeds need water to grow. Some need fire. [Some apples are red. Some are green.] THE BLADE AND THE BOW is a New Adult #ownvoices adventure with crossover appeal, featuring a diverse LGBTQ cast and a strong, flawed female lead. Building on the tradition of YA post-apocalyptic ‘shelter’ books like HIVE, this story doesn’t end with the discovery of a larger world; it kicks into a higher gear. Complete at 110,000 words, THE BLADE AND THE BOW is a stand-alone novel with series potential.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) and a Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing, and my short speculative fiction has won several prizes and appeared in Andromeda Spaceways, PodCastle, and Reckoning. THE BLADE AND THE BOW won the inaugural Erica Bell Mentorship Award, and was edited with the assistance of bestselling children’s author Lian Tanner.
I enclose the first (X) pages of THE BLADE AND THE BOW. Thank you for your time and consideration.

--Note for Evil Editor on the meaning of the title--

'The Blade and the Bow' has a couple meanings within the story. Tag is given a small blade early on that she uses in a variety of ways to get herself out of trouble (excluding ever actually using it as a weapon). The hermit who rescues and then mentors her in the Waste uses a longbow. He's also the story's hidden primary villain; his motivations are similar to that of the Lor, but he's far more subtle about it. He already knows where to find Jenolan's door so, under the guise of helping Tag, he uses her to pinch the Key from under the Lor's nose. So the blade and the bow are references to the two main characters and the weapons they carry; and weapons (and how they're used) are really the focal point of this story.

The 'blade' and the 'bow' are also the formal names of the two parts of a key. The point I'm making with the title, which should become clear by the end of the story, is that it took two people to turn this particular Key.


That second paragraph has more information than the average reader wants to consume. "Im not sure the query needs the hermit and the thief and the hill people. Maybe it should start, Determined to rescue Sale, Tag must find the only key that can unlock the door into Jenolan. 

So the situation is, Tag knows where the door is but doesn't have the key. The Magpie Lor, brutal ruler of Katoomba, doesn't know where the door is, but has the key. Perfect opportunity to make a deal. I'll show you the door, we both fo in, and while you get Jenolan weapons, I'll rescue my sister. Win win.

I wouldn't call Sale's beliefs of a world beyond Jenovan "delusions." 

Why do Jenolan and the Waste need to be protected from one another? What would happen if the door were permanently open?

Why would they banish someone they'd chosen as a breeder to the Waste?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Feedback Request

The author of the book most recently featured here would like feedback on the following version:

Ilana’s deepest desire is to know what it’s like to have a family. [That sentence isn't needed, as the same info is provided in sentence 3.] Orphaned at a young age, Ilana finds friendship with mystical beings called Celestians and establishes loyalty to a band of warriors who preach harmony between Humans and Celestians. Still, she aches for the love and comfort of a family. Instead, she’s saddled with a foster sister who seeks to destroy everything Ilana holds dear.

Ilana Pond and Lucrezia Skye weren’t always enemies. They suffered through foster care together and loved one another as siblings - until Ilana’s Celestian-friend attacked Lucrezia, disfiguring her and planting a seed of hate in her heart for all Celestians. Years later, that hatred has grown into a mania. Lucrezia and her pro-Human zealots wreak havoc, slaughtering Celestians and marking every kill with the words “Find your own world, scum”. Humans aren’t safe, either; their Champion has been murdered and branded with Lucrezia’s signature.

Things go from bad to worse when Ilana is taken prisoner by Lucrezia. A fierce warrior, she [Apparently "she" refers to Ilana, but we assume it refers to Lucrezia, the most recent female mentioned.]  has the skill and resources to assassinate her sister. But can she? Lucrezia has shown signs of redemption, and to kill her is to kill the only family Ilana has ever known. [A fierce warrior with skills and resources should avoid being taken prisoner in the first place. I usually doesn't matter how skillful you are once you're imprisoned.] 

POND AND SKYE is a YA fantasy novel rife with family drama, discrimination, and conflicting loyalties. ["Rife with" doesn't sound right. "Featuring themes of" or something similar is probably better, although theoretically by the time we reach this point in the query we don't need to be told what the themes are.] Complete at 86,000 words with series potential, it features LGBTQ+ characters and a protagonist of color in a world where skin color isn’t what sparks hatred - either you’re Human, or you aren’t.



This seems much better to me.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Face-Lift 1381

Guess the Plot

The Flight of a Demented Bumblebee

1. Like Donald Trump, Bali is enrolled in military school at the age of thirteen. Bullied by older cadets, who call him a demented bumblebee because he can't take the heat, Bali must decide whether to quit school or stick it out and one day become president and take revenge on the entire planet.

2. He goes up, he goes down. He goes all around. It's Fizzlebutt, trying to find his way home. Fizzlebutt needs to take pollen to the Queen but it's so much harder when you're demented. There must be something he is good at. Robbozip hires him as an apprentice assassin. Killing humans was his calling all along, but can he hold down two jobs at once?

3. Julian has been attending violin lessons all his life. When his teacher disappears, strange things happen, even stranger than no longer hearing that same frigging scale over and over. Its refreshing.

4. A comic coming-of-age-for- a -lonely- misunderstood- teen story, right up to the chapter where she takes an axe to her obnoxious school bully Biffy.

5. The completely and totally absolutely legal way to create psychedelic, aka "mad", honey with tips on bee keeping, growing rhododendrons, and not accidentally poisoning the neighbor's dog, pig, cat, or hamster. Also, an appendix on lucid dreaming.

6. One demonically possessed piano, two harmonically challenged after-school clubs, three classes uninterested in the finer points of music--this will be new high school teacher Nikolai Reem's finest hour . . . or the opening of an inter-dimensional portal to hell.

7. When the magic Swan-Bird tries to change Prince Gvidon from bumblebee back to human form, things go horribly awry. Tragedy ensues. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Bali Zutshi has seen more than what any thirteen-year-old boy should. From communal riots in Anantnag to name callers and dodgy astrologers in Jammu. From his fragile single mother to a father he has never met. [Has he seen his father? If not, maybe his father shouldn't be on this list of things Bali has seen.] Like a battered silver ball in a pinball machine, Bali never feels in control and has learnt to choose inertia over action. When his mother promises him a better future at the prestigious military boarding school in Haldwani, Bali reluctantly agrees.

But it doesn’t take long for the school’s hierarchical structure, strict codes of conduct and intense inter-house rivalry to take a toll on Bali. Entangled in the clutches of a senior bully, who gets him into trouble, [Specific example?] and his House Captain, who makes him go through [endure] rigorous boxing training for the coveted Inter House Boxing Championship, Bali buckles. When he gets severely punished for someone else’s mistake, [What was the punishment and what was the mistake? Specificity is good.] it’s the last straw.

Now he has two options. Either he digs in and becomes the man his hopeful mother wants him to become. Or for the first time ever take matters into his own hands, escape the rough and tumble of boarding school and screw up his life. [I'm not sure it follows that escaping this boarding school would screw up Bali's life, but if that is the case, his two options are become a man or screw up his life. It would feel like a tougher choice if it were between pleasing his mother and being happy. If his mother can afford this school, maybe she can afford a more bearable school?] [If nothing else, say "possibly" screw up his life.]

But, the pinball plunger has already kicked the silver ball into action and [whichever], irrespective of the choices Bali makes, he will have to eventually stop running away and play the game called life. [That's a bit vague. You said Bali had two options, dig in and stay, or run away. Now you suggest that he's running away no matter which option he chooses.]

THE FLIGHT OF A DEMENTED BUMBLEBEE (~89,000 words) is a coming-of-age story grounded in the harsh realities of a military boarding school in India. I survived five years in one to be able to write this story.

I am an MBA and a Marketing Professional. This is my debut novel. I took a sabbatical to complete it. I write because a good story can be a cathartic experience and give poetic justice to those who have been denied.

Would you like to see more of the book?

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Author's note:  Regarding the Title: The term 'demented bumblebee' is given to cadets in the military boarding school that are fickle and cannot take the heat.


When you reach your "last straw," you've been pushed past your breaking point and are going to take action. You're out of this place, or you're going to poison the bully or blow up the school. Instead Bali's merely deciding whether to take action, so it wasn't the last straw.

The red words aren't necessarily wrong, but aren't needed.

The words you added after your signature (not shown) aren't helpful.

A pretty good query once it's cleaned up. A lot of US agents claim to be looking for books set in other cultures. Even if you're looking to publish in India, this boarding school is probably a little-known setting to most readers.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Feedback Request

Dear Agent,

Hidden Identities never stay hidden for long.

Emma wants Nick, but he is involved with Veronica, her arch nemesis. She thinks it’s impossible [hopeless]. [But then] Nick has [develops] a sudden interest in her [Emma] and she’s in denial until her dreams and her visions are revealed to her that it’s true [real]. There’s a monster lurking among [within] the town, murdering people on sight and Veronica is involved. When Emma becomes in [takes] her angel form, she will do anything she can to protect her town and her loved ones.

[This is not an improvement, so far. We start off thinking it's some kind of love triangle, then find out Emma has a superpower, and from nowhere there's a monster killing people, and finally Emma can or will become an angel. An opening like: Emma White will become an angel on her eighteenth birthday/when she completes the initiation ritual/next Wednesday. Maybe then she'll be able to win Nick Stone away from her nemesis, Veronica. Or maybe not, because on the same day, Veronica will become a demon. would fill us in on who Emma is right away.]

Veronica plans to keep Nick in her sights, but her relationship with him is on the rocks. She’s desperately trying to save it. The dark voice that lurks in her head doesn’t help either. The more she listens to it, the more she succumbs to the darkness within her. When she transforms into her demon form, she will stop at nothing to get revenge on Emma White, and anyone else who gets in her way. [This is all vague. Why does Veronica want revenge? Who wronged her?]

The closer they are to finding their identities, the sooner they realize that they are more connected than they think. [How are they connected?] Emma and Veronica’s stories intertwine to unravel the secrets that have been kept from them and how good and evil plays a role in their lives.

HIDDEN IDENTITIES, complete at 93,000 words, is a young adult paranormal romance and it is written in alternating POV. I think it will appeal to readers to fans of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENT SERIES by Cassandra Clare and HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick. This is a novel with series potential.


I still don't know why they don't know their identities or what will cause them to change form. Who's been keeping secrets from them? What secrets?

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Face-Lift 1380

Guess the Plot

Hidden Identities

1. Emma White and Veronica Black hate each other, even though they don't know each other's identities, or even their own identities. Maybe it has something to do with their last names.

2. Boy-girl twins, separated at birth, now swingin' YAers, chance-meet at a rave. #Eewww.

3. Jude is in Witness Protection, but his cover keeps getting blown, forcing a change in place, name, and life. At his fourth home this month he realizes that wherever he moves, there is always a young girl with red hair next door.

4. Assistant librarian Harriet has hyperthymesia; she forgets nothing . . . until the day she loses her way walking the five blocks to work. When she finally gets there, homicide detective Dan Bruno is waiting. He’s investigating chief librarian Robison’s murder and needs the library identity records. Harriet disappears into the subbasement and gets lost again. Will her memory return in time to solve Robison’s murder?

5. Everly Smythe's multiple personality disorder gets a little out of hand when s/he discovers sixteen new identities have taken up residence, and they have soap-opera-esque relationships with each other.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Hidden Identities never stay hidden for long.

There are secrets waiting to be revealed connected with two teenage girls in a small beach town of Sliver Den in sunny southern California. Emma White and Veronica Black never liked each other from the beginning. Emma has been crushing on Nick Storm, for as long she can remember. [So when Emma's archnemesis] Veronica [Black] had befriended Emma, only to betray her from behind and in turn, Emma avoids her at all costs. [If Veronica and Emma never liked each other, why would Emma accept Veronica's attempt to befriend her?] Her archnemesis has stolen him [puts the moves on Nick] from her and claimed [claims him] Nick as her boyfriend. Emma must reveal her feelings for her long-time crush [Nick] before it’s too late. [If V has successfully stolen him, it's already too late.]

What Emma and Veronica don’t know is that they are natural born enemies in their world of living among angels and demons. [Not clear what that means.] They notice the weird occurrences that have been happening to them. Emma can foresee the future with her dreams and her visions, and Veronica hears voices in her head and she does unspeakable things that no human would ever dare to do. [For example?]

The closer they are to finding out their identities, the sooner they realize that they are more connected than they think. Veronica will get her revenge [She stole Emma's crush. Isn't it Emma who would  want revenge?] and Emma will have to find a way to stop her. [If you declare that Veronica will get her revenge, you probably shouldn't suggest that there's a way to stop her.] It’s only a matter of a time until they find out the answers to who they truly are... [What will happen when they find out who they truly are? I think we need to know that.]

LOVE, REVENGE, and HOPE: HIDDEN IDENTITIES, complete at 93,000 words, is a young adult paranormal romance that follows the journey of these two teenage girls. I think it will appeal to readers to fans of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENT SERIES by Cassandra Clare and HUSH, HUSH SERIES by Becca Fitzpatrick. This is a novel with series potential.

I graduated from University of Redlands with a B.A in Creative Writing. I am a member of O.C Writers group and I am involved with SCWA. My works will be written under my pen name, Jasmine Bell. 



I assume LOVE, REVENGE, and HOPE is the series title, and HIDDEN IDENTITIES  is this book's title? If the whole thing is the book's title, you need to rethink that.

Somehow I totally lose interest in whether Emma and Nick get together once it's revealed that angels and demons are running around. Maybe it's better not to tell me they're at the beach and then switch the setting to hell.

What are their identities? Are they angels? Demons? Is everyone else an angel or demon? How can they not know their identities? Are they in some alternate universe even though they believe they're in Sliver Den, California?

Start over. Paragraph 1: Who's the main character, what does she want, what's her current situation? The answers could be Emma White, Nick Storm, she's cluelessly living in a town populated by angels and demons and Nick is involved with that bitch Veronica.

Paragraph 2: What's Emma's plan? Just to win Nick away from Veronica, or is she consciously trying to find out her identity? Why does she think Emma White, teenager, isn't her true identity? Because her dreams come true? What goes wrong in her attempt to reach her goal?

P3: What's at stake? Their lives? The town? The world? What decision must Emma make that couls lead to success or failure in reaching her goal?

Naming them White and Black is not a good idea. Especially if Ms. White is an angel and Ms. Black is a demon, but I'd stay away from it no matter what. And Sliver Den isn't the greatest name for a beach town. Though it's better than Slaver Den.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fake Plots Needed

A new title in the query queue needs your amusing fake plots.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Face-Lift 1379

Guess the Plot

Covert Cinderella

1. When mice Hickory, Dickory and Doc overhear plans for murdering Prince Charming, they come up with a plan: Send some underling in his place, while having the poor girl from the Step family stand in as his lady love. If they can get the three drunk fairies who live under the stairs involved, they can't fail!

2. It's like the Cinderella story, except this time Cinderella is an enemy undercover operative who attends the ball to get information from the prince. Needless to say, they fall for each other.

3. What happened after the slipper fit? Cinderella became the princess and lived happily ever after? Well, yes, eventually, but first she had to exact revenge on her evil stepsisters by disguising herself as a church missionary and hounding them mercilessly.

4. Cinderella infiltrates the home for forgotten fairy tale characters and recruits Snow White, Rapunzel and Gretel for a MeToo rebellion against the brothers Grimm. 

5. Jezebel saw the house for sale in the local paper. It was reasonably priced and within walking distance of her job. Yet after the house tour, it seems twenty years have passed since anyone has seen her, and she hasn't aged a day. 

6. Super spy Ash Wednesday is assigned to uncover a government plot by posing as the daughter of a widow. She doesn't like her 'sisters'; hates the household chores, and the pestering by faeries--but it's all part of the job. As for the masquerade balls where deals are going down, there's a reason Ash is known as a Master of Disguise: animal, vegetable, and mineral are fair game. Also, glass stilettos that aren't footwear. 

7. When he finds a glass slipper resting on the chest of a homicide victim, ace detective Zack Martinez knows two things; he's never been much into fairy tales, and the slipper doesn't fit his foot anyway. 

8. The plan was simple: steal an invitation to the ball, gear up with clothing, weapons and a vehicle from tech division's 'fairy godmother', and protect the prince from a pair of ruthless assassins known only as 'the ugly stepsisters.' But nothing is what it seems and by midnight Ella finds herself fleeing from the assassins and from the prince, leaving behind a key piece of gear that could lead all of them right to her door.

Original Version


I am seeking representation for my YA fantasy, Covert Cinderella. Complete at 85,000 words, this novel provides a covert twist on the classic fairy tale. [It's not the twist that's covert.] [I think Undercover Cinderella would be a cooler title.]

When Cinderella is recruited from the Grimmalds Academy of Espionage to [by] Sprice special forces, she is excited. [Sprice is not a name I would expect special forces to use. Is it a name from some version of the Cinderella story? The Disney version has such names as Tremaine, Charming, Drizella, Anastasia. You use Cinderella and Fairy Godmother, so why not other Cinderella names?] Also very green, she is prone to mistakes. On her first mission, Cinderella is sent [Sent] to attend a royal ball where she is told to try and flirt out an explanation [, Cinderella's first mission is to learn] from the prince of Illyria as to why his kingdom has suddenly started to [been recently] spend[ing] significant amounts of [so much] money. Nervous, Cinderella bumbles her words a few too many times. When the prince starts to look at her strangely, she is worried she might have [worries she's] blown the opp. [op] That is when Cinderella decides to leave suddenly and warn her fellow agents that their mission may be compromised.

Their leader, code name Fairy godmother, decides the team should wait to see what happens [await further developments]. The next morning, heralds pour into the town with an announcement. The news is surprising. It turns out that [seems] the prince was more smitten than suspicious and wants to find the mysterious and intriguing maiden from the night before. Thrilled at the prospect of having [being?] an agent on the inside, Cinderella is sent back [returns] to the castle to see what intel she can gather. After a few days, she learns that Illyria’s sudden wealth is due to a goose that lays golden eggs. The mission goes “afowl” though as Cinderella becomes torn between loyalty to her team and the feelings she is developing for the prince.

With a strong and capable heroine, Covert Cinderella is similar to [should appeal to readers who enjoyed] Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It combines the nostalgia of a familiar story with fresh humor and gives a more reasonable explanation as to [of] why a shoe that “fit perfectly” would fall off on the castle stairs. As per the submission guidelines, the first ## of pages are included below. Please let me know if you are interested in seeing the full manuscript.


That they have a golden egg-laying goose isn't really an answer to why they're spending a lot of money. The mission would be better worded as finding out where they're getting all the money they've been spending lately. 

What have they been spending all this money on, and why does Sprice special forces care? I assume Sprice and Illyria are on opposite sides of some issue or argument or war. In which case I would expect the mission of an undercover agent who infiltrates the castle to be more useful. Like stealing the source of the money. 

It seems, though I can't be sure, that you've removed the magical aspects of Cinderella, i.e the fairy godmother changing mice and a pumpkin into horses and a coach), so that the golden egg-laying goose seems to come out of nowhere. It's like you're watching a James Bond movie, and at the end he casts a spell that changes his martini into a flying saucer to escape the island that's about to blow up. In other words, you need several instances of stuff that's not based in reality, or none.