Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Beginning 494

"I saw a delivery truck go past. Was that the Egyptian embalming table?" Bryan asked as Professor Duncan climbed the stairs from the basement to his courtyard.

"Yes indeed it was. The carpenter's reassembling it."

"What nonsense, creating the undead. It sounds so B-movie-ish and scary kid's story. Hard to believe that people were ever that superstitious," Bryan scrubbed the grime off the statue of a satyr. He wore only work boots, cutoff jeans and gloves. His young and well-muscled body glistened with sweat, mossy residue and soapy water that splashed as he worked to restore the marble satyr.

"They believed that the undead guarded the Pharaoh like supernatural bodyguards. After dinner, we can read through the ceremony using the scrolls and other artifacts from Egypt. You can playact the sacrificial acolyte and become one of the undead."

"I'd be thrilled." Bryan laughed, his blue eyes sparkling with anticipation.

"Not half as much as me," Professor Duncan muttered under his breath. His gazed shifted between Bryan's pectorals and biceps. "Later, we'll do another ancient Egyptian ceremony. You can playact the sacrificial sexualite, and become one of the unclothed."

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Christine Eldin

Cartoon 86

Caption: ril

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cartoon 85

Caption: Evil Editor

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Face-Lift 521

Guess the Plot

A Glitch in Time

1. When Glynda mistakenly adds time to a spell calling for thyme, she has no idea what will happen. But when bubbles start forming in the space-time continuum creating holes in history, she realizes she must fix her mistake or risk having her very existence snuffed out.

2. Lemuel Morkwort, master criminal from the future, has come back in time and threatened to blow up everything with his superbomb, unless he's made supreme ruler. Can cowardly Bill and dim bulb Walter save the world, or are we all doomed? Also, telepathic crabs.

3. When Time Magazine intern Carly Vixen accidentally replaces all references to President Bush with "Mister Poopy-Head," the vice president invites Time's Editor-in-Chief on a hunting trip. Hilarity ensues as Carly crashes the hunting party to try and save her boss from getting shot in the face.

4. Rawle Penderton finally finished coding on the top-secret Welles Project, but before he can relax, he's pulled back in. A bug has resulted in a scientific expedition being lost somewhen between the Crusades and the Revolutionary War. Now Pendleton has to go against military brass, the software management team, and a sexy saboteur as he tries to find one misspelling in fourteen million lines of code.

5. When 1 million solid gold Rolexes are made with thirteen hours on the face, quality control overseer Robyn's afraid she might be out of a job--until she starts a hot new romance with ad exec Edwin. Will their "There Aren't Enough Hours In The Day" campaign convince the world to change for them?

6. Physicist Ronnie Tate discovers that a glitch in the space-time continuum will cause November 4, 2008 simply not to exist. When he tries to alert the press, he's whisked off by the Secret Service to Area 51. Can Ronnie--aided by scientist Cindy Bigguns--escape and warn the populace?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Two twelve-year old boys find that traveling through time is not a straightforward matter in A Glitch in Time, a novel for readers in the 10-13-year-old range. [That would be a better hook if it were generally assumed that traveling through time is a straightforward matter. As it is, it's like trying to hook us by saying A teenager discovers that Canada is North of the United States in my geographical coming-of age novel, Searching for Saskatchewan.]

Walter and Bill are best friends, despite having little in common. Walter is an ace student, prone to thinking deeply before doing anything. Bill is an obsessive baseball fan, and likely to act without doing any thinking at all. [This is too general to be interesting. "Doing anything," and "likely to act," tell us little. Specific examples would get the point across just as well. Consider the lyrics to The Patty Duke Show theme song:

Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere,
From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.
But Patty's only seen the sights
A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights — What a crazy pair!

Where Cathy adores a minuet,
The Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette,
Our Patty loves to rock and roll,
A hot dog makes her lose control — What a wild duet!

See how, through specific examples we get the point that Patty and Cathy are one pair of matching bookends, different as night and day? Do you think that show would have lasted more than four episodes if the lyrics had been

Meet Cathy who deeply thinks things through,
Whenever there's something she must do.
But Patty doesn't think a lot;
She always acts without a thought — What unstraightforward opposites!

Also note that the song contrasts dances with dances, foods with foods and homes with homes. You contrast scholarship with baseball obsession. It's like saying they're different because one likes chocolate ice cream and the other likes NASCAR.]

Their story, told in alternating first-person chapters, begins one summer morning, when they find a strange contraption that turns out to be a time machine. Soon the two of them are traveling backwards and forwards in time, and getting into all sorts of unlikely adventures. Bill finds himself tangling with British spies during the American Revolution. Walter gets captured by giant telepathic crabs in the far distant future, [This makes it sound like they're using the time machine one at a time. What's Walter doing while Bill is tangling with spies?] and is nearly thrown into a giant soup pot. [Giant telepathic crabs have notoriously bad aim.] However, there is more going on than fun and games and being eaten by crustaceans. Lemuel Morkwort, a power-mad criminal from the future, is also using the time machine. [How can Morkwort get access to the time machine when the kids are zooming all over time in it?] Morkwort also has a terrible weapon -- a bomb that can blow up everything -- which he intends to use to blackmail the world into making him the supreme ruler. [Anyone can claim to have a bomb that blows up everything. Proving that it works is the hard part.]

When Bill and Walter manage to steal the bomb from him, [You'd think a bomb capable of blowing up everything would be too heavy for two kids to carry. Apparently not.] Morkwort retaliates by kidnapping Bill’s sister, Jenny, and taking her back to the age of the dinosaurs, where he will keep her unless he gets his weapon back. [I've got a better idea, Morkwort. Use the time machine to go back to before the kids stole your bomb, and tell yourself to put it somewhere where they can't find it. Not only is it more efficient, you don't have to worry about getting eaten by an Allosaurus.] In order to rescue Jenny and defeat Morkwort, the two boys find they have to do the impossible: Walter will have to be brave, and Bill will have to be smart. [According to my dictionary, the word "impossible" doesn't come with much wiggle room. They'd better come up with a plan B.]

Time Twist is a 80,000-word novel, [Whoa! What happened to A Glitch in Time? You forgot your own title already? Do we need to come up with a new set of GTPs now?] and the first in a projected trilogy of books about Walter and Bill. Its mixture of humor and adventure will make it appealing [will appeal] to middle-grade readers who read Lemony Snicket. It is my first novel, but I have had my short play "The Little Death" published by Heuer Publishing of Cedar Rapids.

Thank you for your consideration,


Was Morkwort just abandoning Jenny in the time of the dinosaurs?

Possibly a better hook than time travel isn't straightforward would be to mention that the boys must stop a power-mad criminal from the future from blowing up the world.

I'd start this when they find the time machine, and end the plot portion with what they specifically need to do. Being brave and smart is vague. Besides, it goes without saying that heroes should be brave and smart.

I assume there's an explanation for why the time machine is sitting there waiting for Bill and Walter to find it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cartoon 84

Caption: Ulysses

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Cartoon 83

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

New Beginning 493

The evening’s shadows lay coiled under blades of grass, their black tips poised to lick the sun’s retreating heels in a feast of powerless neon.

Out he crept, hunched and squinting, weaving between the weeds with the spindly limbed nimbleness of a huge preying mantis, wrapped in a snorkel parka. Overhead, the gathering clouds drew a shroud over his furtive excitement, obscuring his movements from the eyes of the gods. Beneath him, bugs looked on in awe.

He fiddled with the gate latch and peered out through the wayward shock of hedge and nettles to check the coast was clear. From window to window to window, silhouettes of strangers flickered behind the painted frames like an incomprehensible cartoon strip running the whole length of the street, but between the trees and the badly parked cars, there wasn’t a soul in sight. On any other night, it might have been almost perfect.

House martins spiralled above him in search of evening insects to satisfy their brood. Branches stretched across the fading orange sky like skeletons dancing in a cartoon while wearing SCUBA gear.

He slipped across the sidewalk, bulged and rutted by shifting roots, and hid against a trunk, tight like moss hiding from the sun. He held his watch toward the fading light and squinted at the hands. And squinted. And squinted.


He'd forgotten what he set out to do.

Opening: WO.....Continuation: Anonymous

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Khazar-khum has suggested an exercise in which we create book covers. I'm expanding the idea to include movie posters. Or even trailers. This could take longer than usual, so I'm announcing it early. The deadline it Saturday night at 10 PM eastern.

Create a book cover or movie poster for a title involving Evil Editor or writing. Preferably humorous. Any genre is okay. If you don't have Paint or one of the better graphics editors, you can either do a book cover that has no artwork, or send me your idea and I'll try to produce it. Do more than one if you wish.

New Beginning 492

On the first day of each dodecahedral cycle, we assemble to honor those who saved us. We meet in the Valles Marineris, Mars Dome One. Each rank takes its place: the Grounders, the Bots, the Diggers, the Brains and the yet-to-be's. We tells how we came to be here. We tells about each wave of refugees -- from the Correspondents to the Vestiges. We tells so each generation can never forget. So each generation remembers. We tells how the Earth ended and mankind nearly destroyed itself in nuclear fire.

Our leader, Lupe' Tzinguini closed this Memorial Service with the words from twenty-first century literature. Words from the countless electronic books saved from destruction. Books found in the wreckage of spaceships that dot the surface or Mars.

And after the memorial, we all try to drive home at the same time resulting in an old-fashioned, earth-like traffic jam; the perfect remembrance.

Grounders, Bots, Diggers, Brains and yet-to-be's, we fret alike in our air-conditioned vehicles. As one we squirm on our lemetal seats and flick through the two thousand and thirty-six channels on Maradio to find nothing on.

After some time we abandon ourselves to the chaos and lean back against headrests, closing our eyes and hearing Lupe' Tzinguini's words in our head. Words from the great books of the past. Words from our Bible:

Evil Editor wondered one day, while feeding an author's life's work into a paper shredder, whether the slush pile might be put to productive use . . .

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: McKoala

Cartoon 81

Caption: Evil Editor

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Face-Lift 520

Guess the Plot

Keeping King Tut

1. Alicia Hummer, thrice divorced and bored witless, has had it with men and Texas. All she needs is a bankroll to break free and escape Dullsville, but her get-rich-quick scheme to knock over the Museum of Antiquities comes unraveled when she discovers her booty's got booty. Mummy for money makes for a bad trade when the Mummy's curse is . . . love.

2. Scandal! Meret, housekeeper to the pharaohs, dishes on Egypt's most famous boy king. Did we say boy king? Make that playboy king! Sneak a peek into the lives of the royals, including late-night parties and wacky religious rites. But the most delicious gossip of all involves Tut and a certain half-sister of his . . . Housekeeping has never been so dirty!

3. Josiah Keeper has a problem. He's suddenly found himself in ancient Egypt, and Tutankhamen wants him dead. What's worse is Tut's stepmother, Nefertiti, wants both of them dead. Forced into hiding, can Josiah and Tut work out their differences and see to it that Tut takes his rightful place on the throne?

4. Literary Fiction author Bromeliad Fauntleroy has written the definitive novel of male ennui during the teen angst years. However, to do so, she had to invoke the ghost of King Tut. Now she's stuck with a dusty, moldy zombie with delusions of Godhood and immortality. Can she send Tut back or will the next Empire be governed by the boy-king . . . and his blushing new bride?

5. Managing the tour of King Tut's sarcophogas was supposed to be Cora's big break. Instead it's turning out to be a nightmare. Caught between Egytpian officials demanding the mummy's return and the American officials who won't let it fly without a passport, Cora desperately asks Tut what he wants. Much to her shock, he answers! He wants her. Now, while trying to keep their blooming love under wraps, Cora must decide whether to give Tut up, or keep him for herself.

6. Archaeology student Chas Tommet accidentally raises Tutankhamen from the dead. Their instant friendship is endangered when Tut, sharing Chas's apartment, begins demanding to live in the style to which he was accustomed in his previous life. Chas soon realizes that his meager museum stipend is not up to the monumental task of keeping King Tut. But how do you kill someone who's been dead for centuries?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Josiah Keeper has always been interested in Egyptology; soon he’ll find that history is magic—literally. A 41,600 word historical fantasy, Keeping King Tut is a transitional middle grade novel that seamlessly integrates modern children, a touch of the fantastic, and ancient history.

Josiah has a lot on his plate. [A lot of ribs and fries, or a lot of liver and lima beans?] He has to live with his know-it-all cousin Darah, his uncle’s idea of homeschooling is mountains of homework, and the new kid is arrogant, a bully, and just might want Josiah dead. [Liver and lima beans.] [What is the new kid the new kid in? Town? The 4H club? The neighborhood?] The really bad news? That kid is none other that Tutankhamen, the future king of Egypt— [I think we need to discuss your bad news ranking system.

Under your system, we have:

Bad news: The new kid is an arrogant bully who wants you dead.

Really bad news: The new kid is Tutankhamen.

I suspect most kids would have a completely different order.] Ancient Egypt, which is where Josiah and Darah have somehow found themselves. [So did Tut appear in modern times first, or did they meet when Josiah went back in time?]

Nefertiti, Tut’s stepmother, has seized the throne and is ready to kill anyone who gets in her way—especially the true heir. [To our list of characters whose names sound better when spelled backwards (Hannah, Elle, Bob and Morchcrom) we can now add Tut.] Pursued by a mysterious and deadly High Priest, the three children are forced into hiding together, where Josiah is surprised to find that Tut isn’t quite as cold and imperious as he seemed. Together, they must track down an ancient order, discover a powerful book, and face an unimaginable foe [They must do these things? Or what?] when Josiah realizes that the High Priest is his own long-gone father. [When your missing father turns up in ancient Egypt, long-gone is an understatement.]

Keeping King Tut is a thrilling combination of magic, history, and a (mostly) ordinary boy trying to figure out both.

I recently sold a novelette, “Tangle,” that will be published by Leading Edge in May 2008. I graduated in 2004 with a BA in English from Brigham Young University and attended the BYU Writing for Young Readers conference in June of 2007. If you are interested, I would be happy to send you the full manuscript. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



A couple words I'd remove: "seamlessly" and "thrilling." If it's thrilling and you've described it well, we already know it's thrilling. The agent will notice how seamlessly you've integrated your story elements without your pointing it out. Agents are notorious for not trusting authors' opinions of their own work.

I assume there's a good reason Josiah doesn't realize the high priest who's pursuing him is his father for so long, but later realizes it is.

How do they get to Egypt? Is that question answered in the book? Does Tut bring them? Does the father? That they somehow find themselves there sounds bad. You want the agent to know there's an explanation.

A bit more clarity about how Tut and Josiah meet and about the stakes, and I'd be happy with this.

Did you name it Keeping King Tut because the kid's name is Keeper? Or vice versa?

Thumbs Down

As requested, a photo of EE in his most common pose, suitable for framing and displaying above your computer as an inspiration.

Cartoon 80

Caption: EE

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cartoon 79

Caption: Evil Editor

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Cartoon 78

Caption: Writtenwyrdd

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New Beginning 491

"You'll never find happiness in your daydreams. The only way you'll ever be happy is through hard work and the Lord. Now back to work." Sarah's father shoved a broom into her sudsy hand before walking out of the kitchen.

Sarah tried to keep hot tears from spilling down her cheeks, all the while swiping at her nose with the back of a hand. She choked in a sob that turned into a hiccup. "I'll keep my dreams, thank you," she muttered, throwing a dirty cup back in the sink. "And you can have your hard work and your god until you drop dead and go to meet him."

She hadn't heard her father come back into the room, so the swift slap caught her by surprise. It knocked her and several dishes clattering to the floor. She trembled silently as she lay sprawled beside the chair she overturned in the fall.

"I will not have blasphemy in this house!" He trembled with rage. "Your godless ways will cease or I'll rid you of them. Make no mistake, I'll not let your behavior slide like I have in the past. You will obey me, just as God intended."

As Sarah picked herself up off the floor, her father turned away. "Well?" he said toward the corner of the kitchen.

The old man stepped out of the shadows and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Joel," he said. "I don't see the passion, the conviction. She practically had to throw herself at that chair, and the plates didn't even break."


"Maybe with a little practice, the Baptists'll take you. You might even be ready now for the Presbyterians. But you're not right for us. You just ain't gonna get your barn raising."

Opening: Cordia Amant.....Continuation: Anonymous


The anniverary party continues here.

EE will be in the bar at 10, 2, 6 and 10 eastern. And your fellow minions could be there anytime. And there are new contests today. Drop by.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cartoon 77

Caption: Ulysses

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

New Beginning 490

The vault's alarm spoke: "Fa-oop fa-oop, fa-oop." Endless repetition. Jesse James Santangelo hacked at the security codes.

"I'm through level two," he said as, keying more numeric sequences into the computer. Dancing weasels filled the display spelling out -- WOW. It spoke again.

"Congratulations, life has smiled on you. You have solved level boozy. Would you like to try level queasy?" the voice said. Jesse typed. The voice began to sing in tones so nasal and off-key that Jesse shivered.

"Way down south, in Birmingham, I said south, in A-la-bam..." Jesse typed more codes. The computer stopped singing. A tribal chant with drums blasted their ears.

"Hey, Scungelini, shut down that noise" Tri yelled. Tri was short for Tristan Jeremiah Jones. Scungelini was his private nickname for Jesse. No one left alive knew what Scungelini really meant in Italian. Germany, Italy and France were only memories from before the asteroid.

But not before the Italians had surged ahead in neural network technology and built in-vitro the world's most powerful organic computer chips, powered by living neuron cells.

If only they'd had time to engineer out the passion for red wine before the rock hit.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: ril

Cartoon 76

Caption: Anon.

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Two Years!!

Hard to believe, but it's been two years since this blog began. During that time I've posted something every day, weekends, holidays, vacations... In fact, with 519 Face-Lifts, 489 New Beginnings, well over a hundred Q & A's, over 70 cartoons, dozens of writing exercises, and other features, we may have averaged three posts a day. Which leads you to wonder if Evil Editor is insane, but in fact, sometimes I think this blog is the only thing keeping me sane.

Looking back at the comments from the first month I see there are minions who've been along for the whole ride, from the renegade vigilante sorcerers to the brutal eunuchs to Miss Pettipants to weredingos. And there've been others who quietly vanished, as if vampires and zombies and sharks had sucked out their life force and replaced them with pod people.

Like most small presses, Evil Editor Publications hasn't made back its costs, but it has produced four of the funniest books ever published, mostly thanks to you guys. And it's also thanks to you that the blog exists. I'd have run out of material in two weeks if the Evil Minions hadn't started submitting their queries and openings etc.

Of course it's not just your contributions and comments; whether you're a frequent contributor, an occasional commenter, or a full-time lurker, it's your humor, respect and friendship that make it all worth it. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Face-Lift 519

Guess the Plot


1. In the sweltering heat of a New Orleans summer, SOMETHING is killing ladies of the evening as they strut their stuff in the French Quarter. Can ace reporter Blanche Dubious and her ex-lover, homicide detective Raoul Van Helsing, chase down this otherworldly serial killer before the hurricane hits? Also, zombie meerkats.

2. Dimelda Rothpeter is a witch tired of stumbling around in the dark. In a life threatening ritual, she enchants a forest herb with the ability to delay the onset of evening. When she hangs the nightbane in her window, she attracts the attention of the Lord of Darkness, who will stop at nothing to return the planet to its regular diurnal cycle.

3. Everyone told Leah that the first few weeks with the baby would be difficult, but nothing could have prepared her for the true terror that awaited her. A cooing, sweet-cheeked infant by day; a horrifying, screaming were-baby by night. She had fallen prey to the creature born every three hundred years on the full moon: the . . . NightBane!

4. Nero Nightbane has a secret, he's really the estranged daughter of Lucifer incarnated in the body of a defrocked priest and he's having more fun than any demon as he preaches his warped version of the gospels to the hoi polloi. Will the "send your nickels and dime" message gain him fame? Or will Defender of the Faith Benedict exorcise him back to hell?

5. Banishing night seemed like a good idea at the time to magician Carl Minos. What he didn't take into account was that vampires, although minorities, were real, and they took exception. Can Carl reverse the Nightbane's effects before the vampires' sunscreen wears off?

6. Rescued by an abolitionist, Kransa will stop at nothing to gain revenge against the slavers who've kept her people down for so long. She becomes . . . Nightbane! Scourge of oppressors everywhere! The slavers immediately respond with a wave of cruel repression and death.

Original Version

Dear [Agent/Submissions Editor name here],


Slaves crave revenge. Kransa is no exception.

Even though Kransa wants to kill every Gold Dragonkin keeping her enslaved, she realizes it is even more important to free her black-scaled kin. Fighting to end the brutal oppression of her people, [People? With black scales? What are they, exactly?] Kransa is captured and sentenced to destruction by the hated dawn. [Not sure what that means. Will the dawn kill her? Is she a vampire lizard person?] As the suns golden rays lighten the sky, Kalthalak, an abolitionist, rescues her and teaches her how to kill those gold-scales. At least she'll get some revenge.

Yet a creature of darkness can never rest in a world of light. [Actually, vampires always rest when it's light.] Escaping from her gilded cage in a hail of gunfire, Kransa rejoins the struggle for freedom. [Why was she in a cage when she was rescued at the end of the previous paragraph? Who's shooting at her?] Cold-blooded murder follows Kransa in the name of emancipation. The slavers respond with a cruel wave of repression and death. Kransa doesnt care; revenge is more important.

With genocide on the horizon for both Golds and Blacks, Kransa needs to realize the greatest obstacle between her people and freedom is not the Golds machinations or the Blacks hate-filled past, but the fact that she and those around her have become the very things they despise.

At 108,000 words, Nightbane is a science fantasy thriller. I have previously published a short story, Dragons Breath in the summer 2006 issue of the E-zine Antithesis Common, which received an editors choice award.

Thank you for your consideration.

[Note: Nightbane is the persona Kransa adopts after she steps up her activities against the Golds.]


There are at least four missing apostrophes, six if Dragons Breath and editors choice take them.

Where are we and what are we? Are the golds dragons and the blacks vampires? Where does the "science" come in?

This needs a clear chronological organization. First Kransa is enslaved, then she's captured. That doesn't follow. Later she's rescued and then escapes. That also doesn't follow. There needs to be a logical transition from sentence to sentence.

If the slavers are still enslaving--and killing--I'm not sure why killing them in a struggle for freedom makes you as bad as they are. What's the better option? How would this have played out if Kransa weren't obsessed with revenge? Revenge may not be the best motive, but if no one with a more altruistic motive is doing anything . . .

Cartoon 75

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Anonymous cartoon captions.

Though there are no such plans at the moment, someday there might be another Evil Editor book. It could be a collection of the better cartoons or it could be a sequel to Why You Don't Get Published that includes several cartoons. Either way, if any of your captions were chosen and you remained anonymous, but you'd prefer to be credited in such a book, it's up to you to let me know. Otherwise . . . No Credit!

New Beginning 489 (Chapter opening)

Swingers blazed with excitement.

A speccy Goth had accidentally set fire to his girlfriend's hair extensions trying to light a fag one-handed while groping her tits and snogging her. Rory watched as hearse-loads of would-be grim reapers sloshed their G&Ts over the bubbling tresses dripping onto the faux bloodstained leather carapace seemingly nailed to the howling girl’s midriff. As knockabout spectacles went, it was up there with two blind fat men slipping on the same banana skin, but what tickled him most was the irony of it all: the Goths were the only people in the entire club whose bodies weren’t either rotting, creeping about a limb at a time or being sucked clean of blood by marauding vampire bats.

He took another swig on his lager, sniggers crackling along his nasal tract like a packet of chocolate biscuits imploding inside a python. The undead didn't bother him any more ― and now, in the gibbering heat of the spotlights, they were sprouting fungi to the music.

Carrot-topped Jai Alai players bounced out of grubby VW Buses and began to whack musical ping-pong balls into the crowd; the balls glittered pastel-like as they bounced and sang a buzz-saw rock from golden-oldies days - like a dozen Hendrix squelching riffs from the dead. A pair of fire-breathing, dragon-like, ice-sculptures melted contentedly near the food.

A geeky grunge addict wrangled Pop Tarts over a gas-fired grill. The honeybuns would eat healthy tonight what with meat from the vampires, fungus from the undead and grease from the local rat-infested Taco Bell. But Rory wouldn't be joining them. He had an appointment with an R & Q flakweiser, and he still had to pick up the colonics.

Opening: WO.....Continuation: Dave F.

Cartoon 74

Caption: freddie

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Face-Lift 518

Guess the Plot

Bad Spelling

1. From the squeel of amature pig wressling to the wiff of day-old-sushi, follow former golden girl Tori as she tumbles from Hollywood heights to the depths of open odditions. This uneuthanized bio reveals the shocking exess of an actress on the outs and a showbiz dynasty in decline.

2. Angle (or Angel, as she was meant to be called) comes from a long line of dyslexics so it’s no surprise that she is struggling with her job as assistant Editor to the Evil One. When her boss goes to collect a windfall from Nigeria she is left on her own to run the business and the blog. Hilarity ensues.

3. The spells of a young witch named Katya's have been backfiring lately. She heads to Siberia, aided by trolls and werewolves, to save her family and home from the evil shaman who cursed her father. Also, a half-vampire.

4. When Dorothea enters the local spelling bee, she thinks she'll be studying the dictionary. Much to her shock, she discovers that the bee isn't about spelling words, it's about casting spells. And with competition in the form of wicked twin witches, she's going to have to be the best speller around.

5. The story of eleven-year-old Donna's struggles with fifth grade and why her mother attempts suicide while her father, baked on meth, engages in sordid sex orgies with married seventy-year-olds. And how Donna turns it all to her advantage.

6. When you're the writer of magical formulae, one misspelled word can lead to disaster. When Laurelei's teensy mistake leads to a smoking crater where the Imperial Palace used to stand, the surviving royal heir takes exception.

Original Version

Dear Agent Name Here:

I hope that BAD SPELLING, a completed 44,000 word juvenile fantasy, might also appeal to you. [Also? To whom does it appeal so far?] [Is "juvenile fantasy" a recognized genre? I tend to think of the word "juvenile" as insulting, possibly because when I tell people their writing is juvenile they never seem to take it well.]

Katya would like nothing better than to be a good witch, but her spells don’t just fizzle, they backfire spectacularly. [A specific example would be nice here, e.g. For instance, when she tries to create a banana split to share with her boyfriend, she inadvertantly wipes out the entire population of Finland.] Her stern aunt discovers that a shaman in Katya’s Siberian father’s family has put a curse on his glacier-bound body. [Glacier-bound as in bound for a glacier, like homeward bound? Or do you mean glacier-encased? Also, is it the shaman who's glacier-bound or the Siberian father? Perhaps it would be simpler to just say: Her aunt discovers that a shaman has put a curse on Katya's family.] The supernatural shield put a damper on Katya’s magic and it’s beginning to spread to the rest of her home: the arctic island of Galdurheim. [No need to mention the supernatural shield, as we don't know what you're talking about, and we don't want to listen to an explanation. There's a curse. Let it go at that.] Katya must find the witch-hating, spell-casting shaman and stop him before the curse destroys her home and family.

She and her half-vampire brother, Rune, race across the Barents Sea, fighting off polar bears and giants--not to mention that nasty shaman--while making allies of killer whales, trolls, and werewolves. [I can't believe you've been talking about glaciers and the arctic island of Galdurheim when your book has werewolves and a half-vampire. Have you learned nothing from this blog?] In the end, Katya finds her Siberian family, defeats the shaman with help from an unusual source, gets her first kiss from an ex-troll, and finds she might just [just might] be a good speller after all.



It sounds like they're encountering werewolves and trolls and giants as they cross the Barents Sea. Are they in a boat?

Where are they racing across the Barents Sea from? This map of the Barents Sea appears to stretch well over 500 kilometers, and still leaves a long way to go to reach Siberia.

The last plot paragraph consists of three lists. A logical progression of events leading to the end would be better. Then you're good to go.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cartoon 73

Caption: WO

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cartoon 72

Caption: Anon.

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New Beginning 488

Brilliant blue sparks rained down over auto carcasses and the still bodies of large and dirty dogs. The hard buzz of high amperage made one of my ears tickle and drowned out the country crickets that had been chirping along the road coming in. Metal scrap flipped up often and struck at my ankles like a yard full of tiny, mislaid rakes, and I stumbled and tripped my way toward the figure in the trees, my vision sidelong in fear of blindness.

My desire was to meet a masked man working incredibly focused on top of a large A-frame ladder. Getting there meant trashing out a pair of my best running shoes and forgetting about wearing these trouser out ever again. Getting close to there meant closing my eyes completely, blindly walking through the metal detritus with a hope and a prayer, sharp steel tugging on my shoelaces, rounded steel rolling out from under me.

Getting there seemed a short and painful distance away from where I currently was, and it seemed like nothing I could do would draw his attention toward what I wanted and away from the metal tip of his inflamed rod, as he scratched and dragged it across the giant cockroach he was building out of a rusty scrap of everything.

“Hey fuckhead!” I tried yelling.

Even his dogs were unmoved.

"Listen," I tried again. "I've come about that order--" the torch cut off in mid-yell, leaving my words ringing in the sudden silence-- "of dildos!"

The blank mask of the welding helmet turned in my direction and a gloved hand tilted the face place upwards.

Her grin was shit eating as she saw me realise she wasn't a he. I rocked back on my heels with the force of it and almost fell as the iron scrap gave way.

"So yer the guy what axed for that one. Knew I shouldn'ta got that web page." She eyed me up and down, shook her head. "And I betcha you thought S&M Welding was just that. Stupid city slicker."

She climbed down the stepladder and dropped the final couple of rungs, landing on her toes. I saw she was taller than I was, her arms twice as thick. I tried to back up as the torch snicked back on, and this time I did fall. Something gouged my back and buttocks. So much for my desires, I thought, as she stopped in front of me, her inflamed rod dropping toward my crotch.

"My name's Sal, and this torch here is Mona. Here in God's Country, we don't take kindly to perverts, little man. But don't worry," she added kindly, "we'll fix you right up."

Opening: Scott from Oregon.....Continuation: Writtenwyrdd

Cartoon 71

Caption: Anon.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Face-Lift 517

Guess the Plot

Monster Apartments

1. Godzilla requires a miniature replica of Tokyo in the bedroom, and the Boogeyman is only interested in closet space. Georgia Gorgon, real estate agent in the city of Scaresville, must deal with some real terrors for clients.

2. The ad said Monster Apartments. They weren't kidding. But between the vampire downstairs, the witch across the hall, and the werewolf on the top floor, how will Shannon ever get any sleep?

3. All the stadiums and lecture halls have been named for corporate sponsors, so now what? A hunky real estate developer teams up with a buxom ad sales exec to bilk corporations out of millions.

4. When Mo moves into the Monster Apartments, he has no complaints--until he meets the other tenants: Cyclops, a dragon, a werewolf, and worst of all, a Minotaur who's more bully than bull. If Mo's going to find any peace, this monster's got to go . . . and that's no bull.

5. Where, oh where, do monsters live in the post-apocalyptic town of F'nashi? Real estate tycoon George Goodwin has the best luxury condos around. Problem is, the servants that come with the rentals keep disappearing.

6. When Giselle finds a spacious one-bedroom in Manhattan for $300 per month, she can't believe her luck. But what she thought to be rent control turns out more like a roach motel: you can move in, but you can't move out.

Original Version

Dear (Agent or Editor),

The kids at school call him "Monster". Twelve-year-old Mo is the school bully -- and darn proud of it. That's before he finds himself homeless and forced to move to the only place available: a building called Monster Apartments.

At first it's all cool. Giant apartment, creepy forest scenery, nice girl across the street. Then Mo meets the tenants and the shock hits harder than a schoolyard fight: ["The shock hits harder than" should be followed by something that hits really hard. Hercules, The Hulk, Russell Crowe on steroids.] real monsters, every one. Cyclops, dragon, vampire, werewolf--and a Minotaur maniac with a taste for tormenting Mo. [The last time I lived in an apartment I had Mr. Macho Stud with his creaky bed on the other side of my bedroom, a Flamenco dancer above me, and a rock drummer below. And they had the nerve to complain about me, just because I was in my chain saw sculpting phase. I'd have welcomed a minotaur.]

Before you can spit, Mo goes from bully to bullied. The Minotaur quickly crushes everything Mo's got - his confidence, his safety, his friendship with the new girl. Like it or not, Mo's got to face that two monsters have to be stopped here: the bully in the building, and the bully inside himself. [But mainly the bully in the building.]

Monster Apartments is a coming-of-age novel in which the bully learns firsthand just how "monstrous" his bullying really is. Add a cast of unconventional, and often dysfunctional monsters, and Monster Apartments is a fun tale for middle-grade readers.

The manuscript is complete at 50,000 words. May I send you a whole or partial of Monster Apartments?

Thanks so much for your consideration, etc.


It sounds more like a funny picture book than a coming-of-age novel, but that's not a criticism. The query reads nicely.

I should think there's room to squeeze in a couple more sentences of information. Unlike younger kids, those old enough to read 50,000-word novels are old enough to wonder how a twelve-year-old kid becomes homeless and moves into an apartment building. For some reason it's easier to buy a Cyclops and vampire living in an apartment building than a solitary kid. If there's an explanation, you could throw that in at the beginning. Or you could include an example of the monsters being dysfunctional.

Cartoon 70

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cartoon 69

Caption: Evil Editor

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New Beginning 487

There now, not so bad, not so crazy after all, this getting up and standing by the phone naked in the dark in the cold in the living room with a nutbag above me in the upstairs apartment, going off up there with her moaning. We might as well have been the only two people on earth, me and the nutbag. That’s the dizzy way reality changes sometimes in the middle of the night.

The phone rang again. If it can be said that you can answer a phone with a slam, that’s what I did. I slam-answered it, because it had to be her up there in her apartment, calling in between her moans.

“What’s the matter?” I said low into the phone.

“Please. Please help me,” said the voice calling from upstairs. It seemed as though her voice was disconnected from real life, as though it wasn’t coming from anyone’s flesh and vocal chords. “I’m afraid, and I don’t know . . . ”

I sucked a disapproving breath, sucked it through my teeth and wished she could feel it, feel it through the phone tugging at her eardrum, a whisper of haven't you better things to do? Because I had better things to do, not-talking-to-her things. "This is the third time tonight, darlin'," I told her. "I'm naked and cold and I have not-talking-to-you things to do. What do you want?"

"He never came home," she said, her voice a newspaper rustle of old news. "He went to get cigarettes and it's been hours and he didn't come home. I'm scared, alone. I need to hear him tell me, say it's going to be all right."

"Dammit," I said, "I can't believe you got me out of bed for this." I tore open the pack of Pall Malls on the table and lit up. "Harry! Get your naked butt in here! Sheila wants a word."

Opening: Robin.....Continuation: Anonymous

Cartoon 68

Caption: WO

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Face-Lift 516

Guess the Plot

Where the Puck Stops

1. In an alternate reality, the famous presidential saying comes out not as "The buck stops here," but "The puck stops here," ushering in a new era of hockey-based politics. When two star players compete for the ultimate job--Goalie In Chief--high-sticking hijinks ensue. Will the gloves come off?

2. When Dee gets run over by a hockey player's Corvette, she ends up in the hospital and the Corvette ends up in the river. Is the driver feeding the fishes downstream? Or is he lurking nearby, hoping to ice Dee before he's sent to the penalty box for vehicular assault?

3. The "Puck," a legendary passenger zamboni that travels between Toronto and Calgary, always visits a lonely, isolated rest stop that isn't on any map. Is it a portal to another dimension? The gate of Hell itself? Vacationing teens Robin, Chris, and Brenda aim to find out, no matter what the Puck's driver says.

4. A literary accident sets the characters of A Midsummer Night's Dream loose on the streets of Manhattan. When Robin Goodfellow develops a knack for picking winning stocks, Wall Street takes an interest and Puck finds himself in play between Oberon Financial and Titania Mutual.

5. Hockey meets high finance when hockey fanatic and EU investment banker Marc Vanderbeel buys a struggling hockey franchise with his clients' money. When Marc's body is found at the hockey rink with a puck firmly embedded in his skull, Mountie Dick MacKenzie must determine whether it was murder or just a slap shot gone astray.

6. He's an off-Broadway actor who's just landed his big break: playing opposite Pia Zadora in A Midsummer Night's Dream. She's a foul-mouthed hockey player from the wrong side of the tracks who's convinced a scout to let her try out for the NHL. When they meet . . . pucks fly!

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When ex-Mountie Lacey McCrae moves to the Alberta Rockies to protect her old friend Dee from a stalker, she enters an arena of oil-rich power brokers, trophy wives, and the pro hockey players they all play on the side. [I'm not certain what you mean by power brokers playing hockey players on the side.] One of these golden people has bugged Dee’s law office. Someone runs her down with the classic red Corvette that killed her dog last winter. Her house is burgled. [So far Lacey's doing a great job.]

While Lacey holds vigil at Dee's hospital bed, the Corvette surfaces in the flooding Elbow River. Its owner, a young hockey player on the verge of being cut from his team, does not. Is he feeding the fishes downstream? Hiding out with one of the trophy wives on his conquest list? [If you need to hide out, I wouldn't think you'd do so with someone else's wife. Men like their trophies on display. As you probably don't want to ask four consecutive questions anyway, I'd get rid of this one.] Lurking near the hospital hoping to ice Dee before he's sent to the penalty box for vehicular assault? How can Lacey keep Dee – and herself – safe from a threat not even the Mounties can get a stick on?

'Where the Puck Stops' is an 85,000 word novel of mystery, suspense and infidelity.

My previous writing credits include numerous short stories published, three of which were shortlisted for the Great Canadian Story competition in 2003, 2004 and 2006. My other unpublished mystery novel, [name withheld because it's currently in blind judging for the short list] reached the top ten in Canada's premiere crime writing award, the Arthur Ellis.

Enclosed are the first three chapters and a synopsis.

Thank you for your attention,


No need to explain why you're not telling us the title of your unpublished novel--though I fail to see why revealing the title would matter, unless you're sending the query to one of the judges.

Shouldn't the title be The Puck Stops Here? Where the Puck Stops sounds like the title of a Canadian soap opera.

So the mystery is who's out to get Dee? Does the missing hockey player have a reason to want Dee dead? Are there any other suspects or motives you could throw in to make it more intriguing?

A car is pretty heavy. I wouldn't expect it to suddenly bob to the surface of a river once it's sunk into the muck at the bottom. Maybe the river should be drying up in a drought instead of flooding.

Cartoon 67

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Cartoon 66

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.