Monday, May 29, 2006

Face-Lift 40

Guess the Plot

Twenty Palaces

1. Travel Guide to the 20 most visited palaces in the world, including The Palace at Versailles, Buckingham Palace, and the Bombay Palace Indian Restaurant in Philadelphia.

2. Before he can fulfill his quest, crafty barbarian Salmagundi must discover which prince owns the zebra, and which drinks water. When a pretty pickpocket tells him that the prince of the purple palace grows roses and owns a fox, he realizes he has an ally - or a spy.

3. Princess Millie, discontented at home, visits the palaces of the neighboring 19 kingdoms, discovers how each royal family lives, and learns the lesson that home is best. Later, King Billy and Queen Tilly try to convince Princess Millie that a little apartment of her own would be even better.

4. A reporter sets out to discover what Saddam spent all that oil money on, if it wasn't WMDs.

5. A walking tour of Tower Road in Beverly Hills, with photos of the homes of such stars as Jay Leno, George Hamilton, and Jack Lemmon.

6. The Twenty Palace Society, an organization of ruthless vigilante sorcerers, is out to kill Jon, a recently cured paraplegic whose recovery spells danger.

Original Version

Dear Query Reader,

I am seeking representation for my novel, a 93,000-word urban fantasy called Twenty Palaces.

When Raymond Lilly was 13-years-old, he found a loaded gun. Minutes later, his best friend, Jon, was a paraplegic and Ray knew he'd done a wrong he could never set right.

Now, fifteen years later, Jon has been miraculously cured.

As the public furor surrounding this mysterious recovery grows--Jon is the target of a fraud investigation, he's hounded by journalists, and terminally ill people have camped out on his lawn hoping to share his cure--Ray discovers that his friend is also being hunted. [By some fairly inept hunters, apparently, as they can't seem to catch a guy who can't walk.] The Twenty Palace Society, an organization of ruthless vigilante sorcerers, [Just when you think you're reading a query for another depressing, heart-rending, mind-numbing literary fiction tome, up jump a team of ruthless vigilante sorcerers.] believe Jon's cure is dangerous. They intend to destroy him [ Some people just can't win. Fifteen years in a wheelchair, you miraculously get cured, and before you take your first step, you're being hunted by ruthless vigilante sorcerers.] and they don't care who they have to hurt to do it. [Which explains why they call themselves ruthless vigilante sorcerers.]

Driven by his need to repay his friend for the injury he caused, Ray does his best to protect Jon from the vigilantes. [Vigilantes? No, no, they're not just vigilantes, they're Ruthless Vigilante Sorcerers.] [Evil Editor could type the phrase "ruthless vigilante sorcerers" all day.] [Maybe that should be the title of the book.] He steals a book of spells from one of them and uses it, and their mutual dislike of each other, to trick them into turning on each other. [Nothing is more satisfying than turning the tables on ruthless vigilante sorcerers.]

But while Ray drives the members of the society toward a violent confrontation with each other, Jon begins to display inhuman strength and speed... and a hunger that can only be satisfied with human flesh. [Whoa, this gets better all the time. Evil Editor would like to suggest an even better title: Ruthless Vigilante Sorcerers Versus SuperCannibal.] Furthermore, Jon has already shared his "healing" spell with others, creating more just like him. [More super-powered cannibals? Do they all have the same super powers, or is it more like a Justice League of Super Cannibals, with SuperCannibal, Biteman, Anthropophagus, Maneater, Lectero, etc.?]

Ray quickly realizes the vigilantes were right about Jon's cure. [Don't you just hate it when ruthless vigilante sorcerers turn out to be right, and you turn out to be wrong?] Can he find the source of the spell and undo it without killing his friend? Can he save the life and humanity of the one person who means more to him than anyone else, even if it means taking away the use of his legs a second time? [No. One guy has no chance against the Justice League of Super Cannibals; however, if Ray teams up with the Ruthless Vigilante Sorcerers, there's hope for the world.]

I have sold three stories to Black Gate magazine, most recently "Soldiers of a Dying God," which will come out in their tenth issue this summer. I have also sold a story to On Spec.

Thank you for your time.


A revised version wouldn't be much different. That Jon's transformation was caused by a spell might be mentioned earlier. Maybe this should be a graphic novel.

Evil Editor would suggest leaving out the part about Jon and his buddies hungering for human flesh, but he supposes that if an author insists on an army of super-powered cannibals, he has an obligation to prepare his agent in advance.


Harry Connolly said...


Stacia said...

I would buy Ruthless Vigilante Sorcerers vs. SuperCannibal in a heartbeat.

Especially if it was indeed a graphic novel.

Bernita said...

~helpless with laughter~
There IS something about "ruthless vigilante sorcerers."
Nevertheless, it sounds like a fun read.

Anonymous said...

I just can't shake the image of a bunch of Gandalfs in cowboy hats riding posse-style after bandits.

"Listen, pilgrim--SHAZAM!"

Brenda said...

Ditto, Quinn.

This has to be one of the funniest ones I've read yet. EE got a good night's rest, it seems.

For the coffee mug: Evil Editor is a Ruthless Vigilante Sorcerer. Only minions would understand. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't help it. After I read that Jon was shot and paralyzed, I had to go back and re-read the title and realize it wasn't called TWENTY PACES.

Anonymous said...

...a Justice League of Super Cannibals, with SuperCannibal, Biteman, Anthropophagus, Maneater, Lectero, etc.?

Well. There went what was left of that cup of coffee.

Rei said...

A rather interesting query, though. I thought the opening was a nice catch, and unlike most queries here, I really didn't see the ending coming.

My only issue: the "steal a spell book and trick them into fighting each other" plot element sounds a bit cheesy. A novice can trick these experts just because they don't trust each other? Really? Then why don't they do the same thing to each other to get rid of their enemies that they don't trust? Is Ray so brilliant that he can quickly come up with and implement a plan that these (possibly ancient) sorcerors couldn't imagine, with their own tools? Really?

Anonymous said...

I agree, Rei. There's no reason he can't beat them through dumb luck, it's how half the world gets things done, anyway.

I have a hard time swallowing (without more info) that Ray would know enough about these guys to use psychology to beat them. Unless the spell book tells him? Maybe instead of "spell book" the author could call it a codex. He could read it to Jon in between battles with the Loyal Order of Ruthless Vigilante Sorcerers.

alau said...

Omigod! That was hysterical! sign me up for ruthless vigilante sorcerers anyday!

Evil Editor, you have the best comments!