Monday, November 30, 2009

Face-Lift 701

Guess the Plot

Mysterious Gift

1. Ludlow strives to perfect the anti-gravity device despite Pruddy's lack of business sense and the constant hyper-criticisms of his mother. And that is why Charlotte loves him, though, of course, only from afar. Until she receives the . . . Mysterious Gift.

2. The elf left a brightly wrapped package under the sofa just as Edna despaired ever finding true love and happiness. But she never looks under there. After three days the greenie decides to be proactive and tries lots of clever tricks and silly antics -- and gets vacuumed up. Will Edna ever find t. l. & h.???

3. The moment she touches her birthday present, college student Jen is thrust into an ancient war between extraterrestrials and gods. Is she the key to peace after 8000 years of conflict? Can she defeat Seth, the god of evil? Wouldn't perfume have been a better gift?

4. Delbert Toomey answers a knock on his door to find someone has left something on his doorstep. Wrapped in an anonymous brown paper bag, it appears to be on fire. Can Delbert figure out what the mysterious gift is in time to save face . . . and his slippers?

5. Secret Santa is all fun and games, until Hayley opens her package and finds a human hand. Should she report it to the cops or investigate herself? How hard can it be to spot someone who's missing a hand?

6. Partridge, fine. Doves, Ok. But three hens, four collie birds and a squawk-induced headache later, Becca sets a trap for this mysterious admirer. Can Henry get her to accept the remaining gifts and release him from the curse, without telling her about it? Five gold rings might help.

Original Version

Dear (agent name) (Date)

JEN dreams of tomorrow when she graduates as an archeologist and flies to Egypt to begin her fieldwork. [Tomorrow's gonna be a busy day.] Nothing stands in the way of attaining her goals until she touches her 21st birthday gift, an ancient talisman. Jen’s hand jerks up and her mind’s eye opens: as visions of ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses along with alien beings fighting a deadly war fuse together, leading her to question her moral, religious beliefs and her courage. [Who gave her this gift, where'd they buy it, and what's the returns policy there?] With her new extraterrestrial allies, [It's a big step from visions to extraterrestrial allies. Is Jen at war?] family and friends she battles her demons, embraces her newfound inner strengths of courage and sacred beliefs, and undergoes training with the deities, emerging as a warrior queen possessing god-like powers, which she uses against an evil adversary. [I got a better idea. Have her fly to Egypt, meet a hunky archaeologist, fall in love, and live happily ever after.]

When Jen’s 21st birthday gift illuminates a dark room, her dreams begin. She learns to levitate, read and speak any language, see through the eyes of a god, teleport [These aren't her dreams. Her dream is to be an archaeologist.] and kill her enemies. [She has enemies? She's 21. Okay, I had a couple enemies when I was 21, but I didn't kill them.] Her new powers forces Jen to battle her own fears: the horror of killing and the pain of defeat. To lose she knows brings fatality and she knows that death is a coldness lasting an eternity. Also at stake are her religious beliefs. She questions if she is a pawn in a power struggle between gods, or will her actions lead to the resolution of a conflict between good and evil that has raged for 8000 years? [8000 years? Listen, if you can't resolve a conflict within a few millenia, it's time to call in an impartial mediator.] With her family and closest friends, she resolves her personal obstacles, gathers her companions, travels to an alien universe, [How many of the companions she gathers agree to go with her to an alien universe? I mean while keeping a straight face.] and enters a war that is threatening to spill out into the Milky Way Galaxy. Aided by ancient and alien races, early gods, BAST, a protective cat and MICHAEL an intelligent Cyborg [Intelligent cyborgs are such a cliche. Try making your cyborg an idiot.] with a sense of humor—she and her friend’s battle SETH, the god of chaos and evil. Seth’s goals include [but are not limited to] destroying any who oppose him, enslaving all habitable planets and oh yes, taking over as the supreme deity.

My stand alone novel, MYSTERIOUS GIFT, complete at 119,000 words, is a New Adult Science Fiction / Fantasy that takes readers along an avenue of escape and adventure, offering two worlds to explore, one ancient and the other alien and futuristic. The sequel, titled QUEST, is near completion, and the final standalone book is in outline form. Along with my passion for Egyptian, Grecian and Italian archeology, my credentials include a BA in History, participation in archeological field digs and twenty years as a Naval Flight Officer. The above knowledge, sprinkled throughout this adventure, makes MYSTERIOUS GIFT a page-turner. [All books are page-turners; the key statistic is the number of page-turns made before the book is tossed in the trash.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Scrap the whole thing; it's horrible. Just stick to the plot:

On her 21st birthday, aspiring archaeologist Jen Smith-Barney receives a mysterious package from Bubba Ho-tep. It's an ancient talisman, and it plunges Jen into an adventure involving Egyptian gods, alien beings, demons and a protective cat.

That's enough backstory. Now tell us what happens in the book. Make it sound like an adventure. That means leave out the inner strengths of courage and the moral, religious beliefs and the fears and personal obstacles. Focus on Jen and what she does and the stakes.

Cartoon 526

Caption: Whirlochre

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Film Series

Cartoon 525

Caption: Anon./Whirlochre

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Friday, November 27, 2009

New Beginning 707

She went down hard and fighting with every strength and power she possessed. Insidious tendrils of blank emptiness snaked down into her memories, wrenching, grasping. Her hands flew to the pounding at her temples. The dank, dark cell fell away beneath an onslaught of blinding pain.

She planted her mind at the bottom of her soul and stretched it forth. Then taking hold of a powerful wave of burning light, she hurled it against the assault.

The stealing loss of sensation died away as memory blazed to life once more.


She clutched the word close to her.

Her name.

Her identity she had earned, lived, sacrificed heart and soul and will to gain. She would not lay it down without a fight, she thought fiercely. Wrath billowed up from within at the men and the drug, blinding her vision with anger.

That was when she lost control and fell into the terrible darkness.

* * *

Gus shrugged, balled up the piece of paper and threw it onto the table. "So, what's yours say?"

Emily grinned. "Expect gift from a wealthy stranger."

Opening: Megs.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 524

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let Us Give Thanks

1. I'm thankful the piggy vampire things the ones with the curly tails like demon spawn demon spawn pouring outta their damn backsides and the squeeeeee the squeeeeeee like Burt Reynolds and the underpant guy and the banjo the pig the guts the whole wretched bloody scene yeah glad that's stopped glad that's stopped thank the lord thank the lord thank the lord.

2. I'm thankful Stevie Wonder never did a duet with Marilyn Manson, though as an insider, I know they dressed up weird together twice.

3. I'm thankful that bats are way way down on the list of species threatened by man's colossal stupidity thanks to an idiot novel Bram Stoker once wrote.

4. I'm thankful for gloves. And yet, so not some bizarre fetishist whose every waking moment is devoted to the blissful sound feel taste sensation of fingers stretching a tight wool knit into a subtle (yet audible for those with ears) skrckrchsrchrchrcschsh-sk rsachrkcsh.

5. I'm thankful for flakes of dried skin between my toes. I'm 83 for chrissake what the fuck else is there to live for?


I'm thankful for EE, Miss Snark, Janet Reid, and all the other wonderful bloggers.

I'm thankful for the cat on my lap, the one whose breath smells either like fish or something dead.

I'm thankful for the chance to know and love my friend, even though she's ruining her life.

I'm thankful for Dad, who just pulled into the driveway after a long day of work, and Mom, who's in the kitchen, getting ready for Thanksgiving.

I thank my best friend, who's seen me at my worst and still loves me more than life.


Since the dinner is at my house:

1. I'm Thankful that the rest of the family fears my cooking, so all I have to do is provide a room and a table.

2. I'm Thankful that the Poodles edit my work.

3. I'm really, truly Thankful that I have a powerful dishwasher.


1) Whenever my kids are ill or hungry or cold I have the resources to do something about it.

2) I have an unlimited supply of paper.

3) I have no clue who Penelope Cruz is. Is she better looking than David Tennant? Can't be. I'm thankful for David Tennant.

--Mother (Re)produces

I'm thankful that I live far away from home and don't have to eat dry turkey with gravy granules and overcooked sweet potatoes and pretend that I enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving to the US contingent, nonetheless :)


Cartoon 523

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Preparations

As continuations and fake plots aren't pouring in, and there may be fewer readers than usual to comment on anything for the next few days, I thought I'd list a few of the things I'm thankful for. Then you guys can submit your own items or lists (no more than five items per minion), which I'll collect for an amusing Thanksgiving Day post. Those who live where Thursday isn't Thanksgiving are invited to participate, of course.

1. I'm thankful they now make ladders with slotted rungs so that people with peg legs don't have to worry about slipping off.

2. I'm thankful the people who run Blogger have enough sense to know that if I don't get my usual Christmas bonus, this blog will be moving to LiveJournal.

3. I'm thankful Penelope Cruz has finally come to her senses and accepted my offer to take her back.

Cartoon 522

Caption: Blogless_Troll

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Beginning 706

I was dimly aware that it was a glorious morning and that I ought to be grateful for it. The waning moon hung low in the western sky. The east was streaked with pale gold clouds; the sun wasn’t up yet. Also the frost was thick on the windshield, and the goats (who had heard the door shut behind me) were bellowing to be milked, and I was hungry and I wouldn’t feel safe eating while driving so I had to get breakfast into me, and I had to be on the road by six-thirty. I’d been up since half past five, but I’d wasted half an hour restarting the wood boiler because I slept through my alarm at two o’clock when I should have tended it. And I was especially reluctant to arrive late for the meeting at Gloria Ormond’s house since she was no longer in remission.

The goats must have felt my impatience. They both dithered; one stepped in the milk pail. I started the car, cranked up the heat, ran inside to wolf down cold biscuits and fret about wasting gas instead of scraping and then had to scrape anyway to clear a patch I could see through.

Anyway, a little later than scheduled, here are this morning's news headlines . . .

Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 521

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Face-Lift 700!

Guess the Plot

The Last Ride

1. An aging cowboy on his last cattle drive, from Texas to Ogallala, Nebraska, plans to stampede the herd and throw himself under it--until he falls for a saloon owner during a rest stop outside Oklahoma City. Is it ever too late for romance?

2. Abandoned at age eight on a carnival ride, Sandra Fforde now studies mechanics by day and destroys carnival rides by night, both with unmitigated success. How? She made a deal with Satan. The complication? Jordan Wong, and the tunnel of love.

3. When Toni and Maurice tell conman Vinni Finch they're taking him for a ride, he offers to drive. Three state lines later he's convinced them to be his partners. But their current mark has an ace in the hole: Boss Martini wants his best muscle men back.

4. Jeff is supposed to get the kids once a month, but Julie wouldn't let him have them the last three months. Now he's taken them to Disneyland, the fireworks have finished, the kids are surly and the lines are long. And when the boat stalls on "It's a Small World," Jeff finally snaps.

5. When the angel Gabriel's wife dies, he decides it's time to start the apocalypse. But the four horsemen have settled down with good jobs and lives, and they don't want a depressed angel screwing it all up. So they saddle up and prepare for what may be . . . The Last Ride.

6. Charon has taken multitudes on their last ride. And he's sick of it. He announces that anyone who needs to cross the Styx after Thursday had better bring along a canoe. When Hades gets word of what's going on, the storm clouds start brewing.

Original Version

Dear Agent Acrimonious:

I'm writing to you because I've enjoyed [some recently published books] by [authors you represent], and believe you may be interested in The Last Ride, my 90K work [Has K become an abbreviation for thousand-word?]of humorous fantasy. [You should probably put the part where you claim you loved the books you never read by the authors you never heard of more toward the end of the query.]

When Gabriel Seraph's wife dies, he gives up on life. All life. Because Gabriel is THAT Gabriel, messenger of God and the angel sent to earth sixty years ago to bring about the apocalypse. Now that he's got nothing to live for, he's going to finish the job. [You'd have to be a pretty benevolent boss to put up with an employee who takes sixty years to start a project you assigned him. That or the angels have one powerful union.]

But he's not the only one with a say in the matter. The four horsemen are also on earth. Death owns a funeral parlor, Famine runs a food bank, Pestilence works at the Center for Disease Control and War is a peace activist.
[Famine: I've prevented thousands from starving.

Pestilence: I've cured cancer.

War: I'm working for peace on Earth.

Death: Man, you guys are killing my profit margin.]
They're quite happy with the lives they've built for themselves, and they're not about to let a disillusioned angel wreck it all.

While Gabriel sets out to recover the seven vials of God's wrath, the four horsemen saddle up for the bumpiest ride of their existence.

The manuscript is complete and available on request. My short stories have appeared in [print]. Should you require more information about me, I maintain a blog at [hollywood & vine] and my web page is [sorely in need of an update]. [More information about you isn't required at this time.]

Thanks for your time.


This sounds good. Funny and clever idea. Of course the plot summary is all set-up, so you might want to throw in some details, like where the vials are, how the horsemen plan to stop Gabriel, etc. Especially if it's amusing, something like:

As Gabriel sets out to recover the seven vials of God's wrath, guarded for centuries by the senile cyclops of Sargasso, little does he suspect that the horsemen have recruited Aquaman to assist them and will soon set out on the bumpiest ride....

Cartoon 520

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Beginning 705

Showdown: I clip along the street, head up, full of thoughts. There’s still at least an hour before I meet Clytie and Lady Gwen, show them a bit of Manhattan before they return to the aquarium. Then, I hear that voice, the one I still try to exorcise…. ”Twinkieeeee….” I stride on, pretending I don’t hear.

Too late. “Twinkieeee…” as she grabs my forearm, clutching with those pretty silk-painted nails, so now I must slow my gait.

“Hello, Louisa,” I say, barely turning my head. She looks stressed but still stylish, always so stylish, in her smart Prada ensemble of a very short skirt and snug fitted jacket of very just-so beige. She teeters on such needle-thin high heels I wonder how she’s able to walk at all. I keep up my pace, albeit slower.

“You got my messages?” she squeaks, now in sync with my stride, “And my card?”

“Yes,” I reply, still not looking at her. She’s clamped on like the Ugly Duchess now, carrying something in her other arm. It looks like a muff.

“Well, why didn’t you answer?”

* * *

Evil Editor put down the pages and raised his eyebrows. Chick lit. Not too bad. What about the query?

...tells the story of a giant animated Hostess Twinkie with the soul of a dead princess who dumps her acquaintance Louisa (who wears her muff on her forearm), in order to take her friends Clytie and Lady Gwen, the performing seals from the aquarium, on a tour of Manhattan to find the perfect...

"What the f--?" He scanned on. "Ah!"

...should appeal to fans of Bridget Jones' Diary and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland...

Opening: Panda Rosa.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 519

Caption: Faceless Minion

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Face-Lift 699

Guess the Plot

Along the Beach

1. The waves roll in bringing Gobby. The waves roll out saying, "No Returns". Gobby will become the Pied Piper of W(h)ales and lead crabs, beachcombers, and romantically inclined pets to take revenge on the Sky Reflected below. But first, a seaweed/squid-ink cooking festival.

2. The California coast is both rugged and beautiful. And when random body parts start washing ashore on beaches ranging from Ventura to Corona Del Mar, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: there's more than two victims, and he'll finally get a chance to see the tide pools.

3. Dave made his 843rd walk along the beach, collecting driftwood for his fire. Since being stranded he'd given up clothes, wearing only a layer of mud against the sun and insects. But today would be different. Yes, this was one wilderness camp the Girl Scouts would not soon forget.

4. Lee's mom told him he would one day meet his soul mate . . . along the beach. It was a prophecy he would never forget, that he would, in fact, become obsessed with. But after decades of searching, he begins to wonder if maybe he should have asked her which beach.

5. Karen gets up early every morning just so she can watch that hunky guy jog past her beach cottage. He hasn't even noticed her, and now her vacation's half over. Will she take up jogging and join him tomorrow morning? Or just assume he's a jerk and admire the view?

6. Four children have drowned since Chip Barker got hired as lifeguard at the community pool, all because Chip was too busy flirting with bikini babes to pay attention to the swimmers. He's promised to turn over a new leaf, but as he watches the kiddie pool on the hottest day of the year, Chelsea walks by in her gold bikini. Tragedy ensues.

Original Version

[I've gone through three iterations on my query, and wonder if the solution as this point is grabbing portions from each and merging into a fourth version that takes the prize. Or not.]


Dear Mr./Ms. (Agent),

Soulmates. Faith. Destiny. “Fanciful words,” many would say. But not Lee Merrick.

Those words are with him day and night. Intriguing him. Haunting him. And quite possibly driving him mad. [I'm not sure what "fanciful" means in this context. Why can't fanciful words be with a person day and night, intriguing and haunting him?] His only hope is to find the truth behind the enchanting visions of a woman he has fallen in love with but has never met. [His only hope of what?]

Along the Beach is a 107,000-word novel journeying from the outermost reaches of the globe [What are the outermost reaches of the globe?] to the inner depths of the soul.

Far away from his Los Angeles home photographing exotic shorelines, Lee is entranced by mystical visions of the “Lady in White.” Could she be the woman first revealed in a prophecy foretold in his youth—that he will someday meet his soulmate along the beach? [Maybe. Did the prophecy mention that his soul mate would be in white? Did it mention anything besides the beach? I ask only because when you go to the beach, you tend to see dozens of people who might be your soul mate. Once I was sitting on the beach and a group of nine women walked by, seven of them being my soul mates.] Yet a secret from long-ago [which I will not reveal to you, although you can find out by requesting my manuscript,] compels his own mother to stop at nothing to prevent his success. [If you just say "his mother," we'll figure out that you mean "his own mother."] On a path of self-discovery spanning a decade, Lee faces the unknown in faraway places, and will ultimately be confronted with his greatest challenge: to overcome the logic of his inner doubts holding back his certainty that beyond the vision of her spirit, breathes this mysterious woman somewhere in the world. [That one sentence is a deal killer.] [Now that he's narrowed down her location to "somewhere in the world," it's just a matter of time before he finds her.] For he knows that he will never be whole until he touches her hand, to unite with the one who already completes his most sacred thoughts [My most sacred thoughts involve Jessica Alba, and I don't need a soul mate to complete them.] and echoes his own heartbeat–his other half.

My metaphysically-themed piece ATLANTIS, ARISE appeared in the national magazine {magazine title listed here} Vol. 84, No. 2. For almost two decades, I have affiliated and sojourned with mystical societies to several continents showcased in the story. These personal experiences and background provide authenticity throughout the work. [On the other hand, the fact that you've spent decades sojourning with mystical societies brands you as a borderline lunatic.]

Thank you for considering Along the Beach.


[That one's not gonna cut it, let's see what we have in the second version.]


Dear {Mr./Ms. Agent’s Last Name}

A horde of killer bees in Borneo. An armed robbery in Los Angeles. A deadly riptide off the Pacific. Malaria in East Africa. [These are a few of my favorite things...] A vision of a lady in white guiding him to safety each time. [Those didn't sound like situations that would require a guide.] For travel photographer Lee Merrick, the extraordinary is the ordinary. [The items in that list were all dangerous, but they didn't seem extraordinary.]

As her ethereal hands guide his at the piano to play a Chopin prelude he never knew, Lee wonders about the prophecy from his youth that foretells he will someday meet “Her” along the beach. [The woman in white guides him out of all these dangerous situations and makes him a piano virtuoso, but he's still wondering if she's the woman in the prophecy?] But the dark secret of his mother’s own deadly prophecy compels her to sabotage his pursuit at all costs—even if it means having Lee institutionalized against his will. [How often does Mom announce her prophecies, and how often have they come true?]

Time is running out for Lee. Mounting clues beckon him toward finding this woman who pleads for him to believe that she and her love for him are real, but he may not uncover the truth before his obsession robs him of his family, friends, and freedom.

ALONG THE BEACH is a 107,000-word New Age novel.

My metaphysically-themed piece Atlantis, Arise appeared in the national magazine [magazine title listed here] vol. 84. The pyramids, temples, and mysterious places highlighted in Along The Beach are written with authenticity based on nearly two decades of sojourns exploring those locations across the world with metaphysical societies.

Thank you for considering Along The Beach.


{Full contact info listed here}

[Third time's the charm, they say.]


Dear Mr./Ms. {Agent’s Last Name}

Do you believe in soul mates? Do you believe that they are destined to meet, if they follow their truest life’s path? Lee Merrick cannot let go of these questions. He cannot let go of a woman whom he has loved but never met. [I loved a woman I never met. She was at an 866 number. I didn't love her so much when I got my VISA bill.]

Along the Beach is a 107,000-word visionary New Age novel which takes the reader around the world.

Traveling as a nature photographer to exotic shorelines far from home, Lee is entranced by mystical visions of the "Lady in White." On a journey of discovery spanning a decade, he faces the unknown in faraway places, while confronting his doubts that he will ever realize a prophesy given in his youth—that he will someday meet his soul mate along the beach.

My metaphysically-themed piece ATLANTIS, ARISE appeared in the national magazine {title} Vol. 84, No. 2. For almost two decades, I have affiliated and sojourned with mystical societies to several continents showcased in the story. These personal experiences lend an air of authenticity to the work.

Thank you for considering Along the Beach.


{Author name/full contact info}

[nb: Example 3's opening swas hot down due to some agents loathing rhetorical questions] [While it goes without saying that rejecting a query for no reason other than rhetorical questions is the height of anal, nitpicking buffoonery (I, personally, would have read past the questions and rejected you for calling your novel "visionary"), your rhetorical questions are irrelevant and meaningless.

[Strike 3.]


He's in love with the woman in white? Have the conversations he's had with her in her ethereal form amounted to more than her telling him she's real? While she's pleading with him to believe her love for him is real, why doesn't she mention which beach she's hanging out on?

I recommend just summarizing the main plot:

In his youth, Lee's mother, a Gypsy fortune teller with proven psychic abilities, prophesied that he would meet his soul mate on a beach. Ever since, Lee has had visions of a mysterious woman in white who saves him whenever rhinoceroses attack. But now, as Lee pursues his destiny on the beaches of the world, he finds his quest thwarted . . . by his mother, who will stop at nothing to prevent her prophecy from manifesting.

That seems to be the important stuff; expand on it with a few specifics, and leave out the new age mumbo jumbo.

If mom is trying to prevent the prophecy from being correct, I assume it's not guaranteed to be correct. Also, if she didn't want him to find his soul mate, why didn't she foretell that he would find her in Kansas?

Cartoon 518

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Beginning 704

Phone call to the courthouse in Claverton…”Is this Judge August Pendragon?”


“This is Father Walter Valesquez, priest of the church of St. Thelonious, Grody’s Point, near Cape Canaveral in Florida. I have worked with the Little Angels of Our Lady Adoption Agency. I am afraid I have some serious news for you.”

“What happened? Who are you?” now alert, upright in the chair, “Did something happen to Min? Or Daniel?”

“No, Your Honor, this is in regard to your daughter Sophia, and her parents.”

“Is this a joke? I’m her father, if you’ve done anything to Sophia, so help me-”

“Sir, please!” the voice urged, “This is no joke! I’m sorry, this is no easier for me than it can be for you. I am fully aware of Sophia’s status as your legal daughter. I am calling in regard to her natural parents.”

The Judge went rigid. “No….no…dear God, no…not Sophia….”

“I never thought I would have to make this call, Your Honor. But I am forced to tell you these new facts regarding your daughter.”

"Very well. But first, refresh my memory by telling me all the background details very clearly and slowly, as though I knew nothing of them."

"Yes, Your Honor. Well -"

"And while you're doing that, you can use my real name, which is Bob."

"Very well. As you know, Bob..."

Opening: Panda Rosa.....Continuation: Steve Wright

Cartoon 517

Caption: Evil Editor

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Face-Lift 698

Guess the Plot


1. Lifelong Republican Darlene Rickenbocker gives up after her house gets foreclosed and stops by to volunteer for the other party on her way to the homeless shelter.

2. Albert “Shift” Druckenmiller, driving instructor since 1968, has never lost a student. Now, five months before retirement, he meets April, who thinks 'brake' means 'stop at the next Starbucks'. Three broken ribs and a psychiatric evaluation later, Druckenmiller considers the unthinkable; buying an automatic. Oh, the shame!

3. Shortly after befriending Henry, Annie develops a disturbing craving for raw steak. Turns out she's become a werewolf, which creates tension in her home life as her family members wonder which will be the first to have their throat ripped out.

4. Archaeologist Ivar Ingar is bewildered to discover a typewriter buried in the 2000-year-old ruins of a Roman villa. Until he types his own name and BAM! The villa regains its original splendor, complete with its original inhabitants engaged in their original churlish behavior. Is Ivar doomed to re-live some hideous existence in this den of vixens every 2000 years?

5. Edgar starts working the night shift in his local supermarket, and learns the true meaning of friendship when he and his coworker Chad are sucked through a portal in the frozen food section. On the ice planet Mirion V, they learn the true meaning of friendship . . . and frostbite.

6. Claudia's hours are numbered. The kidnappers will soon discover Ted's firm is bankrupt; no fat ransom. Held in a desert shack fifty miles from anywhere, she finds luck. Her lone guard goes to the outhouse, forgetting his keys. She sprints to the Jeep. If only she'd learned to drive a stick shift...

Original Version

Dear Awesome Agent:

Given your enthusiasm for YA fiction and urban fantasy, I hope that my novel, SHIFT, will be of interest.

For sixteen-year-old Annie, being the new girl got old a long time ago. After traveling the country with her free-spirited aunt, Annie knows all about packing up and moving on, but fitting in? Not so much. When she lands in yet another school, Annie surprises herself by quickly befriending Henry, a classmate and fellow outsider. But when Henry helps Annie survive a dangerous encounter, her miraculous recovery from a gunshot wound comes with a catch. Suddenly, Annie has some disturbing new habits, not the least of which is a craving for raw steaks. She seeks answers from her supposed rescuer and discovers that she (along with him and his family) is a werewolf or “shifter.” [She discovers this when Henry tells her? And she buys it?

Annie: Hey Henry, strangest thing, I got a craving for steak tartare.

Henry: Oh, that. I forgot to mention, you're a werewolf.

Annie: Ah, I see.]

While most shifters grow up in close-knit packs, keeping normal humans at arm’s length, Annie’s upbringing places her at an odd middle ground between the ordinary world and the secretive shifters. Meanwhile, her seemingly erratic behavior ["Seemingly"? Howling at the moon, butchering cows and ripping out your aunt's throat is solidly erratic.] generates tension in her once-relaxed home life, thwarting the normality she hoped to preserve. [It was my understanding her home life consisted of traveling the country with her aunt, packing and moving on a regular basis. When did she ever have this relaxed normality she wants to preserve?] When Annie has difficulty controlling her transformations, the complications of being a shifter threaten to overshadow the obligations of her human life. She must choose which half of herself to embrace, or else risk alienating herself completely.

SHIFT is complete at around 55,000 words. Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.



The final lengthy plot paragraph is awfully general, and thus boring. Instead of telling us her erratic behavior affects her human life, why not give specific examples of Annie's erratic behavior, of what happens when she can't control her transformations, of the complications of being a shifter affecting her human life? Painting a picture is worth a thousand words.

Cartoon 516

Caption: Roger Eschbacher

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Monday, November 16, 2009

New Beginning 703

Nicholas Tremain watched as the computer screen darkened, casting a shadow across the sky. “She means us to marry.”

“What gave you that idea?” Aaryanna asked, snatching her hand from his. “Our first kiss, or your clumsy proposal?”

“I haven’t proposed yet,” Nicholas reminded her, studying the countryside. Birds paused in midair, the stream ceased to flow, and the clouds no longer moved in the sky. The world held still in anticipation of its author’s return, but Nicholas was finally free to act on his own. He wasn’t looking forward to a night spent alone on the countryside arguing with Aaryanna.

“You’re about to,” Aaryanna said, smoothing skirts that didn’t require it. Despite the fact that Nicholas had just rescued her from Baron Farent’s men, her appearance remained immaculate. Even her hair was perfectly straight.

Nicholas’ shirt was torn, his hair was sticking out from sweat, and a knife scratch marred his cheek. He gave her an irritated look. “Not if I can help it.”

Aaryanna shook her head. “And how are you going to stop it? Will you Block her?”

"No. She would expect that. We must be more-- Shh!" The sky lit up and birdsong resumed. "I sense she is near..."

"What shall we do? How will you and me escape--" The ground shook. The grass, once soft beneath Aaryanna's feet rucked and rutted, a wavering green line.

"She's watching. Quick, Aaryanna--" Under Nicholas's shoes, the earth puckered and turned bright red, accusing. He felt weak. "We're finished. What's happening to you? Arianna!"

"Nicholas! Save me! Save--"

Microsoft Word has detected an unexpected error and needs to close.

Opening: Padawan.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 515

Caption: Voter

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Sunday, November 15, 2009


Evil Editor's Gallimaufry ( passed the 100,000 visitor mark today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Face-Lift 697

Guess the Plot

Ashley Erin Fox

1. Ashley Erin Fox wants revenge for her hideous 1980's moniker, so she and a skin-artist buddy drug her retro-loving parents' wine coolers and tattoo their foreheads with 'ALF' and 'Golden Girl'. Her parents interpret this as a 'warning signal' and call a therapist. Hilarity ensues.

2. Five kids in her kindergarten class were named Ashley (three of them boys). The other six were called Aaron, A-Rawn, Airynne, Eirean, Erinn and Yairhiynnan. Now Ashley Erin Fox's desperate need to determine who she is - once and for all - takes her across seven continents on the ultimate quest for meaning.

3. Eight-year-old twins Ashley and Erin Bingshakle find a fox and name it after themselves, hoping it will make a great pet. But the fox talks them into letting it sleep in their beds and into killing the chickens for its dinner. Can you guess who's in big trouble?

4. Twelve-year-old Ashley Erin Fox is a gifted ballerina. But when she goes to a martial arts summer camp she finds that she also has a natural gift for brutality. In fact, she's a killing machine, and soon finds herself surrounded by gun-wielding agents. She escapes and shaves her head to disguise herself as a boy, but how long can she survive on the lam?

5. When aliens invade, Ashley kidnaps their leader and suborns them into becoming her criminal gang. With their help, she breaks into a nuclear power plant and leaves a three-headed frog by the reactor. Next up: stealing the heir to the Betelgeuse Empire -- he's made of living diamond.

6. Bored with all the Whisky Tango November stuff, PFC Nate Shumberger invents his own phonetic alphabet. But what will happen to military communications, when this catches on among the troops of the Azerbaijan Expeditionary Force?

Original Version

Dear Elektra,

Twelve-year-old Ashley Fox is a gifted ballerina and unbeknownst to her, also a genetically engineered killing machine. Morally opposed [to] the violent legacy her mad-scientist of a father has designed [in store? prepared?] for her, Ashley is ordered to attend a militant martial arts summer camp where she discovers, much to her dismay, her natural gifts for brutality far outshine everyone she encounters [those of her fellow campers].

When a power-hungry bureaucrat murders Ashley’s parents, she finds, further to her horror, that her overwhelming desire is for revenge, [That seems more like a natural reaction than a horrifying one. Plus her previous reaction was "to her dismay," not her horror. I'd drop the phrase.] despite the inherent risk to her sarcastic younger brother, Geoffrey. Their father’s best friend, Major Ross, rescues the mischievous [Not the word I'd use to refer to a killing machine. Has she killed anyone yet?] children as often as he can, but when Ashley pushes their federally funded enemies too far, Major Ross is killed and Geoffrey is captured. Desperate, the young girl returns home, where an agent is waiting for her. Ash beats him senseless and calls the local police, hoping to expose the conspiracy.

Soon Ashley finds herself at the Angel City Police Department, surrounded by gun-wielding agents and officers, all of whom claim to have some legal jurisdiction over the girl. [[Are they pointing their guns at Ashley or at each other?] At a crucial moment in the final standoff, Ashley snatches her bittersweet moment of revenge, and narrowly escapes with Geoffrey. Together they flee to a prestigious martial arts academy, where Ash, with a newly shaven head, successfully forges their applications and registers herself as a boy.

Ashley is not fond of her new abilities, and to her highly logical mind, the will to use violence feels more akin to understanding, rather than power. [Not clear to me what that means.] Ashley feels she has some inkling of what is [was] meant by F. Scott Fitzgerald when he said ‘the measure of a first-rate intellect is its ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time’. She fears she is showing the ominous first-signs of adulthood; self-rationalization and hypocrisy. [This entire paragraph can go. This isn't literary fiction.]

Ashley Erin Fox is an adventure, complete at seventy-three thousand words. The second novel in this series, Trials of Ash, is also complete at one hundred sixteen thousand words, while others linger at various stages of development and abandon.

I have a degree in animation, once sold a few stories to Marvel Comics, and currently work in television and film. If you feel you might be interested, please email

Thank you for all your good work and for your dedication to this profession, God knows it isn’t always as easy as it looks from the outside, but it sure beats shoveling snow. I hope you are warm and happy, wherever you are, and look forward to hearing from you. [This is just something you threw in to amuse the minions, and not part of your query, right?]



The agent/editor is going to assume the book is intended for middle grade as soon as she sees the protagonist is twelve. She'll then wonder if parents want their kids reading about a 12-year-old girl who's a brutal killing machine and beats adults senseless. So tell her who your audience is. If it's adults, it may be a hard sell with such a young protagonist.

It sounds like something that would work well as a graphic novel.

Does Ashley's ballet training come in handy when she goes on one of her killing sprees?

Assuming we all agree a 12-year-old isn't physically capable of what Ashley does, she should either be seventeen, making it more realistic, or seven, making it even more obvious that you don't really expect us to buy it.

Cartoon 514

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Beginning 702

A blonde little girl was sitting in a swing hung from a branch, “Hi,” I said.

The first thing Louisa ever said to me was “My Daddy said I can take a friend to Disney World this Christmas. Do you want to be my friend?” Soon we were playing tea party on the veranda steps; unlike my fragile little hand-painted cups (Victorian relics of a du Bois ancestress) Louisa’s were quite new and bright-red, “My Daddy bought them for me for the beach, ’cause I’m his little favorite!” as she banged them around. I remember being startled; weren’t English bone-china teacups supposed to be treated gently and with respect? “But mine are made of plastic! They’re better ’cause they don’t break! That’s what my daddy says!” Soon the booming voice of “My Daddy, Mr. Hank Hartly” came out to join us, followed by the man himself along with my own father. I think there were handshakes all round and lots of talk, and of course, plans for Louisa and I to get together again.

The enchanted time was ending, though none of us thought about it.

It should have been obvious, of course, despite their agreements. Not just because of the delicate little teacups and our dear tea-parties; there was our shared interest in the arts and theatre, and our frequent shopping trips to the fashion districts. No, if our fathers had read the signs, had been less conservative, they would have known marriage was never in the cards for Louisa and me . . . Hold still, there. I just need to get your inside leg and we'll have your trousers ready in no time. My, you are tense, sir . . .

Opening: Ann Unemori.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 513

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Face-Lift 696

Guess the Plot

Clandestine Friendship

1. Mom thinks Jimmy's little green elf buddy is imaginary and cute, so she lets him take piles of peanut butter crackers out back for their pretend lunch. But the greenie is really Xulpzi 95, a Martian space ranger and heartless mercenary on a mission to search and destroy!

2. OoegaMar, the forty-first Consort of Iegeth, is bound by her sacred duty to the Gooegen Empire to find and kill Tdyxxxn, the Vrxynnnx of the Qpykkkians. Little does anyone suspect OoegaMar and Tdyxxxn have sworn the blood oath to be Faerfennuuegen (pen pals).

3. An elf and a flying horse become best of friends, but keep their friendship secret--until the horse's mother is kidnapped by a cloud. Now they must team up to save mother, even if it means revealing their friendship. Also, a werewolf.

4. If only Princess Pea could see her paramour, Joe the kitchenman, openly, their lives would be so free and breezy! But no, they can only communicate via messenger pigeon and alphabet soup.

5. Mandy and Josh don't want to have sex. However, in post-apocolyptic North America (pop. 649,241), platonic relationships aren't just frowned upon, they're punishable. Can Mandy find someone willing to get her pregnant without taking credit, before Josh gets sacrificed to the neo-gods?

6. Johnny Wilson takes advice from a self-help book to expand his social circle, but each new friend has reasons for not hanging out. Shinobu belongs to a fight club, Ian is trying to get published, and James B.'s ex-girlfriends want to kill him. Will Johnny spend his graduation party alone?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Pegasi do not belong on a human farm, [Of course not. They belong on a horse farm.] something the other foals never let Jusheron forget, and most elves scorn Sharael for her uncommon interest in other races. After a chance encounter, these two outsiders become steadfast friends, meeting in secret to avoid raising the suspicions of Jusheron’s mother and Sharael’s appointed guardian. [At this point I guess I'm supposed to assume Jusheron is a pegasus, and not a boy who brought a pegasus onto the farm, or a foal who invited a pegasus onto the farm. And I'm supposed to assume Sharael is an elf rather than a girl? The latter would be clear if it read: ...and Sharael is scorned by her fellow elves for her... ]

The delicate balance of deceit tips when a mysterious cloud abducts Jusheron’s mother right before his eyes. Distraught, the young pegasus has only one thought in mind - he must get her back, whatever the cost. Though she risks the wrath of her father, Sharael refuses to let her friend travel alone.

Pursued by Sharael’s tenacious guardian, the two friends are aided and impeded alike by many bizarre individuals, including a constantly babbling imp, a werewolf whose handsome looks hide inner turmoil, [I was suffering from inner turmoil last night. Had to take some Pepto Bismol.] a talking stallion who prefers a good debate to a good fight, and a dwarf who would rather invent magical potions than mine gold.

Clandestine Friendship is a young adult fantasy novel and stands at 58,000 words. The manuscript is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



It seems to me that young adults would rather read a book about young adults than a book about an elf and a flying horse who are best of friends. What makes this more suitable for teenagers than for, say, a nine-year-old?

I'm more interested in where the cloud has taken Sharael's mommy and why, than in a list of characters encountered along the way.

I'd like to be certain that the main characters are a pegasus and an elf by the end of the first paragraph. I'm not certain Jusheron's a pegasus until paragraph 2, and it's never made clear that Sharael isn't a human with an interest in other races--like elves.

Cartoon 512

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Beginning 701

“There could be muggers in that park.”

“I'm hopin'.”

Kelly Banks watched as Jackson Creed walked on as if he hadn't even noticed he'd given Mr. Spokane the brush-off. Sure, school was out and a teacher couldn't stop a student from going through the park, and Jackson was a big kid, but he was going through a park where there had been some bodies found of late, and he was only fifteen.

If Creed was going to survive an attack he would have to be a very bad boy and that would make things . . . interesting. Kelly figured as long as she was going to be stuck in this one-and-a-half horse town pretending to be a city she might as well keep on with exactly those things her father didn't approve of. She frisked her bag to make certain the items she needed were there, threw it over her shoulder, and headed off to the park.

Of course one of those things her father didn't approve of was murder, storming about the house spewing about how one these days she was going to get caught and sent to prison.

"Not with Barney and George running the police department," she had said, because if this one-and-a-half horse town had anything going for it, that was it.

That, and a park right next door to dump dead bodies in.

And plenty of "bad boys" willing to go into the park with her.

She tossed a wink over her shoulder at Mr. Spokane. "Later, Dad," she said.

Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 511

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Face-Lift 695

Guess the Plot


1. The cello is said to be the instrument closest to the human voice. But Zoe didn't expect hers to start humming on its own. Nor did she expect the notes to sound increasingly like human words, impassioned and pleading words. Now if she can just keep her music teacher from finding out...

2. Claire lost her six-year-old heart to Bobby's recorder solo in their first grade Christmas Pageant. Twenty years later she buys the night club where Bobby plays the sax from the Russian Mafia. They seek resonance amid syndicated crime, wannabe musicians, and alley cats.

3. RRrreeEEeessSSssooOOonNNNnaaAAaannNNnccCCcceEe.

4. Jordan Seymore's braces broadcast amusingly evil subliminal messages. Now, dad carries a doll, sis meows, and the school cafeteria has served “chili” 27 days running. Can Jordan convince autoshop student Sally French to help reharmonize his mouth?

5. No one understands. Beautiful voices are Fiona's life. Looks, brains and money are unimportant. Now 32 years old, with Mom breathing down her neck and old friends having babies left and right, Fiona listens in vain for Mr. Right. Until one day she hears “Stick 'em up, lady!” Could this be the one?

6. Emma Drishumm has just learned that she has a super power: the ability to stop time by shopping for shoes. Now if she can just figure out how to use this power to defeat the soul-sucking demons that are chasing her . . .

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my young adult, fantasy debut novel RESONANCE completed in 116,000 words.

Ace school exams, always be nice to customers and come home early, are things that Emma Drishumn understands, except the concept of her dead father that she strongly believes to be alive and soul-sucking shadow demons chasing after her. [A horrible start to your plot description. If you change "except" to "unlike" it begins to mean what you want it to mean, but it's still awkward, and I wouldn't call her dead father a concept, and mainly, you're comparing apples to oranges . . . and plums. Comparing the "rules to live by" that she understands with those she doesn't understand would make sense, but you're comparing them with the concept of death and with shadow demons. It's like saying, Although Emma understood why her mom wanted her to do the dishes, she had little grasp of philosophical hermeneutics and zombie cows.]

Curiously observing the demons' feasting ways, she is cornered and almost eaten by them if it had not been for a dashing young king and a condescending shadow stalker, introducing themselves as Bringers of Salvation and Death. [This isn't a sentence. You could change "she is cornered and almost eaten" to "she would have been cornered and eaten." It'll make sense, but you ought to make this two sentences. One gets the impression you were told to summarize your plot in three sentences and are cramming your eight sentences into three by removing some periods.] The two surmise that she is a Bringer as well, since she can nonchalantly walk through the Cloak: a phenomenon that hides human awareness from the demons; but as she discovers the power to stop time while shopping for shoes, the Bringers rethink their conclusion since no Bringer has ever had that ability. [I surrender.] [I gotta say, the power to stop time while shopping for shoes is possibly the least useful superhero power ever.] [Unless . . . okay, if she sees a crime going down and runs into the nearest shoe store to buy some pumps, thus stopping time, does time start up again when she leaves the shoe store, or does she have a lag period while she breaks in her new shoes during which she can run to the crime scene and handcuff the criminal? That would make it somewhat useful, but as there may be few shoe stores in areas that have heavy crime, she might want to have a shoe salesman accompany her everywhere she goes so she can shop for shoes at a moment's notice. They'd be a crime-fighting duo, like Batman and Robin. Call her sidekick Zappo.

When Emma sees a crime being committed, Zappo immediately starts trying to sell her some shoes. Whether you want to call them Emma Drishumm and Zappo, or give Emma a cooler name, like Stopwatch, is up to you.]

As the boys offer protection, her world darkens as she is forced to help them save human souls but is unable to do so for her own best friend. [Who are the boys? The king and the shadow stalker? Is a shadow stalker a boy who stalks shadow demons?] After recovering from shock, she finds that she alone believes in her best friend’s existence. [Finally a nice simple clear sentence. Although there's been nothing about her best friend up to now, and we don't know what shocked her. Did she get zapped . . . by ZAPPO!?] In an unavoidable confrontation with a greater demon, the situation turns from a simple demon-slaying-day into a dire fight for her life as she uncovers the true reason for the demons’ pursuit and her confabulated memories regarding her best friend and her father. [The memories may be confabulated, but the query is discombobulated.]

Thank you for your time.

[P.S. I got the resonance title from when a Bringer realizes his true power its called resonance.]


What does "a phenomenon that hides human awareness from the demons" mean?

Scrap the whole thing. Start over and force yourself to abandon complex sentences. Simple and clear is what you should be striving for. Get rid of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Focus on Emma. Who she is, that demons are chasing her, that she has escaped them so far through her ability to stop time, but she has a plan to defeat them for good, if only . . . .

Cartoon 510

Caption: Blogless_Troll

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Synopsis 22

"A man takes care of his family, Michael Callistus, if he doesn't he isn't any kind of a man at all." [Change the second comma to a semicolon or a period.]

All his life Michael had that mantra drummed into him by his stern aunt Magdalene, and he has done his best to live up to that [it], looking after his sickly sister Miranda until he can see her married to a fine gentleman who will treat her as she deserves. Michael knows that he isn't the best guardian for Miranda, he's known ever since he failed to save her twin brother Felix from monsters six years ago, but he is all she has. [Change those commas to dashes.] She is also all that keeps him living, as when she leaves him he plans to kill himself and end the burdens that life has placed upon his shoulders.

When Miranda is kidnapped by agents of the fanatical sorcerer Quirian, Michael learns that Miranda's illness was in fact the result of an ancient magical bloodline, which Quirian plans to unlock to achieve his goal of destroying the tottering Empire of All Pelarius- killing Miranda in the process. [He seems to know an awful lot about Quirian's scheme.] [Also, I'd be interested in knowing what names you rejected before settling on Empire of All Pelarius.] Michael doesn't much care about the Empire, but he does care about his family and sets off to save Miranda no matter what. [If the Empire is already tottering, I'm thinking a surprise attack will finish it off, without this bloodline-unlocking mumbo jumbo, which I predict won't work anyway.]

Michael is joined by Jacob, the bastard of the Imperial court looking for someone to care about him, [People would be more likely to care about him if you didn't always refer to him as Jacob the bastard.] by the patrician soldier Gideon, and by Michael’s childhood friend Amy. He also receives advice from the immortal mystic Silwa, who is coordinating the resistance to Quirian from the heart of his own dungeon, befriending the captive Miranda in the process.

With these companions to aid and support him, Michael begins to understand the true meaning of family and sees that his life could have value for others beside his little sister. In the midst of searching for a weapon to use against Quirian Michael and the others are confronted by their enemy himself, [First get your weapons, then seek out your enemy.--Sun Tzu] and standing at his right hand is Michael’s lost brother Felix. Felix berates Michael, accusing him of abandoning his little brother and his familial duties. Michael is unable to deny the charge, because he half believes it himself. [He does manage to half deny the charge.]

With Jacob wounded, [When did this happen?] and Michael reduced to an emotional wreck, Quirian leaves the destruction of the little group in the hands of a sadistic pyromancer and his hunters. [Big mistake. From the list of things I'd do if I were an Evil Overlord:

101. I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me -- I'll do it myself.]

Despite a valiant effort Gideon and Amy are defeated, and though Jacob unleashes hitherto unsuspected magical abilities he too is unable to prevail. It falls to Michael to defend his family when they need him most. Victorious but heavily injured, Michael [He never even found a weapon.] is falling into unconscious [unconsciousness] when he sees a mysterious woman coming towards him… [It's Wonder Woman.]

The story concludes in the second volume: Empire of Duty [No, putting Wonder Woman at the beginning of the sequel doesn't make it any less a Deus ex Machina.]


What's the title of this volume?

A lot of background, but not much action.

If I believe he could have saved me from monsters, when I encounter my brother years later I'll find a stronger accusation than You abandoned your familial duties.

It wraps up too fast. Nothing happens for a long time, then suddenly the main confrontation already happened. Jacob was wounded and Michael emerged victorious and we missed it.

Cartoon 509

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Beginning 700!

Mara awoke to the sound of different bells.

On most other days of the year, there would be the clangour of the brass handbells as the monitors roved the hallways and wakened their charges for the morning meal. But, this day, there would be no morning meal, and instead of the brass handbells, it was the deep voices of the great iron bells in the high towers that woke her, pealing out over the whole of the great fane in the city of Gran Seray.

Mara turned over in the narrow bunk and pulled the bedclothes tighter around her, but it was no use; the bells were cheerfully and tunefully insistent; she must wake. She opened her eyes to see a pair of long legs dangling down in front of her, before her roommate Mea dropped down from the upper bunk.

"Come on." Mea merrily pulled Mara's blankets away.

"If I could sleep just another hour . . . " Mara groaned.

"Don't be silly," Mea answered. "You don't want to be late for your own execution!"

Opening: Steve Wright.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Cartoon 508

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Face-Lift 694

Guess the Plot

Writer's Block

1. 101 excuses to use when your family, friends, and complete strangers ask why you're not published. Also, ways to get words on a page without saying anything important, constructive, or plot-based.

2. After Joe breaks his writer's block by writing himself into his book, things get strange and soon he finds he can't do anything that he hasn't already done in the book. He tries writing that he won the lottery and got lucky with Madge, but all that stuff happens to his cousin Reggie, while Joe becomes the deranged elevator killer.

3. With his deadline rapidly approaching, panic-stricken Dan Harris goes on a crime spree, intending to end up in the state penitentiary. Can he come up with another best seller from behind bars in . . . Writer's Block?

4. To escape a loveless marriage, two characters give their author writer’s block. They enter a realm called “Writer’s Block” where characters live while their authors are unable to write. Turns out their lives in Writer's Block are far more interesting than in the book they left, but can they find a way to give their author permanent writer's block?

5. Charles Wallers thinks he has a clear case of discrimination when he complains to the Equal Housing Office. Then he notices the fine print in the neighborhood zoning regulations. If he wants to put in a bid for that charming split-level on the corner, Wallers is going to have to come up with a manuscript or at least a query letter.

6. When gossipmonger Gale Strong is found dead in her home on Elysian Fields Avenue, the truth behind the lives of her suburban thirtysomething neighbors surfaces. Unwittingly, writer Charity Midland uncovers several tawdry secrets, which provide ample material for her next novel.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

To escape a loveless marriage, Nicholas and Aaryanna [, two characters in an unfinished romance novel,] give their author writer’s block. They enter a realm of Fiction, coincidentally nicknamed “Writer’s Block” where the characters live while their authors are unable to write. Aaryanna pursues an inter-book relationship with Prince Donovan, a Rambo like warrior prince from another novel. Nicholas learns from his roommate that it is possible to enter Reality and either give his author permanent writer’s block, or become Real, like the great King Arthur.

In Reality, whatever an author says about her character instantly becomes true. In order to become Real, Nicholas has to act against her. If she says he loves apples, he must hate them. This is easier said than done. Nicholas is incapable of recognizing when his author, Anne, is controlling him. She makes him love washing dishes so much that he sings. He takes a moment to remember how incredibly handsome he is. When she plays ‘he loves me, he loves me not’, he falls in love with her. [You're losing us with all this trivia about the world. Only the last six words are important in that paragraph.]

Nicholas’ time to achieve Reality is limited. At any moment Anne could begin writing again, which would instantly send him back to the book. Also, he is not the only fictional character in Reality. Fictional characters have roamed Reality for centuries, seeking their authors in order to become Real. Real people call them “supernatural”, and they are drawn to Nicholas. Anne’s small town of Greenriver gains a lake monster, the Mothman, and leprechauns. If he stays in Greenriver too long, it could be overrun by fictional characters. This could cause it to be claimed by Fiction itself, like the continent Atlantis. [Another paragraph filled with random facts. Only the first two sentences are focused on Nicholas's problem.]

Nicholas’ disappearance causes problems for Writer’s Block. Anne is a beginner author. She chose not to give the Baron Farent, Nicholas’ villain, any redeeming qualities. Because of this, the Baron is unfit for proper Block society, and must be imprisoned to protect the characters. When Nicholas leaves fiction, the Baron is able to escape imprisonment. He cannot focus on anything other than revenge against Nicholas. [You need to acquire the baron's admirable ability to focus on one thing.] He starts kidnapping characters in order to draw Nicholas to his fortress in the Beastlands, where the monsters of Fiction live. Because of a prophecy in the book, Nicholas is the only character capable of capturing the Baron, and he resides in Reality.

The Baron kidnaps Aaryanna, and Prince Donovan enters Reality to talk Nicholas into returning to Fiction to rescue her. The Baron also learns that Nicholas is in Reality, and follows him there. He discovers Anne and Nicholas’ relationship, and kidnaps Anne as well. Nicholas must return to Fiction to rescue both Anne, and Aaryanna, before the Baron realizes that he has kidnapped his author and can control the rest of the book. Unfortunately, Nicholas has become Real and is no longer a fictional match for the Baron.

Writer’s Block is complete at 60,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration,


It's too long and too detailed. Your main selling point here is the idea. For once we can do without all the plot specifics. Drop paragraph 2. Follow paragraph 1 with something like:

Nicholas’ time to achieve Reality is limited. At any moment his author, Anne, could begin writing again, which would instantly send him back to the book. Also, he is not the only fictional character in Writer's Block; the place is overrun with villains and monsters.

Shortly after becoming real, Nicholas learns that Aaryanna has been kidnapped by the fictional villain Baron Farent. Only Nicholas can save her, by returning to Fiction. But there's one problem: he doesn't want to leave Reality; he's fallen in love with his creator, Anne.

I'd leave the part about Anne being kidnapped for the book. The query has enough conflict for Nicholas without it. This is the kind of book in which an author can easily go overboard, making it more complicated than it needs to be. If you keep the query--and the plot--reasonably clear and simple, it could work very well.

Wouldn't it be better if the characters simply found themselves in Writer's Block, rather than sending their author there? If they have the power to give Anne writer's block, it's less worrisome that she might start writing again; they can just give her writer's block again.