Friday, December 31, 2010

Guess the Title 9

New Year's Eve Edition

Below are descriptions of five books available at Your job is to guess each book's title from the lists given. The fake titles were submitted by the Evil Minions.

1. In this spirited paean to alcohol, two parts cultural history, one part personal meditation, the author takes readers on a bacchanalian romp through the Fertile Crescent, the Mermaid Tavern, Plymouth Rock, and Capitol Hill and reveals, as Faulkner famously once said, how civilization indeed begins with fermentation. Mentioned are Johnson and Boswell, John Donne (!), Byron, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe. And, of course, Dylan Thomas, who once defined an alcoholic as someone you don t like who drinks as much as you do.

Atlas Puked
Hops Scotch
Yeast of Eden
Wholly Spirits
The Joy of Drinking
A Literary History of Liquor
Drinking Through Time and Space

2. From the publisher of Bartender magazine comes this incomparable collection of bar jokes, quotes and cartoons that are sure to make you appear witty and charming and the life of your next cocktail party. Wow your drinking buddies and impress your dates with such clever and entertaining hilarious quips as: "You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." "I saw a sign that said Drink Canada Dry, so I've started."

Bar None
Shaken and Stirred
Why the Long Face?
Beer is the Answer--I Don't Remember the Question
100 Slur-Fire Lines to Make You the Lush of the Party
An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman Walk Into a Bar

3. The history and culture of booze as told by a writer with a knack for distilling all the boring bits into the most interesting facts and hilarious tales. It’s almost like pulling up a stool next to the smartest and funniest guy in the bar. Did you know... that you have a higher chance of being killed by a flying Champagne cork than by a poisonous spider? That the Code of Hammurabi mandated that brewers of low-quality beer be drowned in it? That beer was so popular with medieval priests and monks that in the 13th century they stopped baptizing babies with holy water and started using beer?

Booze Newz
A Butt of Malmsey
The Intellectual Sot
Alcoholica Esoterica
The Cultured Booze Hound
Trivia on the Rocks, Hold the Olive
Cliff Clavin's Complete Book of Barroom Minutiae

4. Many people drink, few do it professionally. That’s right. I get paid to run around boozing, carousing, and getting into all manner of trouble, all in the name of covering the “adult beverage beat.” Join me, as I conduct “revealing” hotel room interviews with porn stars in LA; wake up naked on a big-shot Hollywood producer’s living room floor; and learn, the hard way, why NEVER to order an Irish car bomb in a Dublin pub. A bawdy barroom confessional that leaves no shot glass un-shot, no beer un-chugged, no potential paramour un-hit-upon, this is the most entertaining and honest book about the Drinking Life ever written. At least, ever written by me.

Bottoms Up!
Living Loaded
Barley and Me
Absinthe, Absinthe!
Fire the Sommeliers, a Memoir
Journey to the Center of Vermouth
Leave the Bottle: Can't You See I'm Working?

5. Live vicariously through Juli. Growing up in rural Minnesota, Juli discovered alcohol at a young age and continued to drink throughout college. Numerous random encounters and events take place. It's a must-read for a good laugh.

Mint Juli
Dead at 23
Juli Does Cirrhosis
Tropic of Liver Cancer
Growing Up 190 Proof
One Time When I Was Drunk

Answers Below

Fake titles were submitted by:
Anonymous, Fairyhedgehog, Phoenix, FacelessMinion, Jo-Ann, Evil Editor

The real books are:

The Joy of Drinking
Beer is the Answer--I Don't Remember the Question
Alcoholica Esoterica
Living Loaded
One Time When I Was Drunk

Cartoon 808

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Face-Lift 855

Guess the Plot

The S-Word

1. After Lizzie spends the night with Angie's boyfriend, their friendship is on the rocks. Especially when everyone calls Lizzie a slut. Angie feels sorry for Lizzie after she kills herself, so she plots revenge against everyone who ever wronged Lizzie--starting with herself.

2. Milly knows she can escape if she completes the demented crossword puzzle Volcanoman engraved on the floor of the basement before his brain was totally fried. Then she can use the S-word to log on to the security computer and unlock the doors. Otherwise, it'll be curtains when the lava flow reaches Malibu.

3. Single. Special. Sexy. Silly. Dave Freeman's heard all the S words. And tonight, when he finally comes out at the annual Policeman's Ball, he'll show them all what Stupendously Super really looks like.

4. When an orgasm machine is invented, the world goes crazy over it. One flick of a switch results in hours of pleasure. What no one foresaw was that soon, the only way to have one would be with the machine. Is sex now a thing of the past?

5. Janet is the world's greatest salesperson--though office rival Daryl begs to differ. When he challenges her to a contest selling snow to Eskimos, she takes on the greatest challenge of her career.

6. After his wife Carmen's suicide, Charlie feels guilty about the affair he'd been having with their next-door neighbor Keri. Not so guilty that they don't fall into bed together when Keri drops by to comfort him, but still, pretty guilty. Also, a hidden web camera.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Angie and Lizzie are best friends, blood sisters till death do they part. [I think a lot of women would amend that to: ...till death do they part, or until one of them spends the night with the other one's boyfriend.] Then Lizzie spends the night with Angie’s boyfriend and [suddenly death doesn't seem so far off.] Angie can’t look her so-called friend in the face. Even when Lizzie gets branded Queen of the Sluts, and the S-word starts showing up on her belongings, Angie doesn’t come to her defense. ["Doesn't forgive her" might sound better. She shouldn't have to defend her.]

Then Lizzie kills herself and it’s too late to make amends. To make matters worse, [Once someone dies, matters don't really get worse. You seldom hear anyone say, My best friend committed suicide yesterday, and to make matters worse, I flunked my algebra test.] the phrase “suicide slut” starts showing up on the lockers at school. [On whose lockers? It wouldn't make any sense to write that on someone else's locker.] Consumed by anger and guilt, Angie launches a full-scale investigation to catch the person responsible, but it quickly spins out of control. Soon she’s plotting revenge against each of the students who made Lizzie’s life hell, including herself. [In what way did Angie make Lizzie's life hell?] If she can’t put aside her anger and find a way to make peace she’s going to lose her friends, her humanity, and any chance of healing from her loss.

The S-Word is a YA novel complete at 60,000-word. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely yours,


Is the S-word "suicide" or "slut"?

Presumably the lesson to be learned is that if someone is being harassed mercilessly, step in and do something, even if it's someone who recently betrayed you. That's a better lesson than, If your best friend betrays you, forgive her immediately before her guilt drives her to suicide.

It might be nice to include whatever went on between these girls after the sleepover. Was there an apology, a fight, forgiveness, complete avoidance? Also, an example of the revenge she plots against someone?

Cartoon 807

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Beginning 818

The evil elf shoved his stolen chickens into the cottage through the broken window and climbed in after them. They seemed to be in a sort of kitchen. He scrambled from a bench to the table, took a few bites from a loaf of bread and threw the rest to the floor for the chickens. A cat hissed and jumped up to bat at him, but the elf dueled with the animal using his dagger like a rapier until she fled to hide.

He found the baby asleep in a cradle by the hearth. It was a thin little thing, hideous. But they're never too ugly to steal. He made cooing sounds and picked her up, meaning to run out the door, but a thick leather cord tied round her ankle kept her leashed to an iron ring in the floor: a most annoying and fortuitous precaution. What did these people fear? Night elves? He smirked. His reputation preceded him. How flattering. He put the leash on a chicken and took the baby.

But once again he stopped short. No, he thought. You can't beat dogs. Much cooler than children: screaming, puking, shitting little devil's spawn that eat you out of house and home. He was better off with a dog. And to cap it off, that miserable battle-ax Mrs. Sanders and her Colonel husband will know their luck's run out when they find the monstrosity he left leashed in the kitchen in place of their puppy.

Opening: Susan Brown.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 806

Caption: JoAnn

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Face-Lift 854

Guess the Plot


1. As the only person in the world with eight limbs, 17-year old Spyder Jones has a unique set of talents and abilities that make career planning (and clothes shopping) difficult. Should she continue her education at Dr. Fiero's Academy of Circus Theater, or pursue a career as a runway model? Also, a Hollywood talent scout.

2. Post apocalyptic US: 17 year old Mariel struggles to support her family and avoid death. Then her brother Tristan dies of an unknown cause and the government seizes control of half the population's minds. Mariel vows to destroy the evil power, piloting the "Spyder," a nuclear-powered exoskeleton invented by Tristan.

3. When it's discovered that nuclear secrets are being smuggled out of the country hidden within the DNA-code of a shipment of live poisonous spiders, US Marshal Victor Davis must get them back to CIA headquarters, keep himself alive, and then deal with the venom coursing through his veins.

4. Avery feels cursed by her empathic powers until she meets Sebastian, who recruits her as a spy on his team of "special" people. But he's not the only one who wants her. An evil scientist wants her and the other mutants for his diabolical experiments.

5. When a spider is bitten by an irradiated man, he develops human-like powers and becomes Spyder – the CIA’s most successful operative yet. But when he falls for Russian spider Svetlana, is it true arachnophilia, or is he caught in a web of deceit?

6. The most devious spy in the world threatens the security of Italy and Crete. Who can find this fly-like fiend??? Only Spyder, the most efficient arch nemesis on a string ever seen in Hollywood. At least, that's the way Nigel pitched the screenplay. But after a year of studio rewrites, his work of genius is ruined, ruined! How can he go on?

7. When a British Mahdi issues a fatwah against Rupert and his new Arabian bride after her conversion to Christianity and she turns up dead, Rupert decides that if the law can't get revenge, he will. One problem: his training as an accountant never prepared him for this. But, maybe his ex-con cousin Spyder can help.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen-year-old Avery Gardener (yes, she was named after the actress, and yes, she’s heard that a million times) is barely coping with the aftermath of her father’s abuse and her strange ability to hear what people are thinking. [Actually, it hadn't occurred to me that she was named after Ava Gardner. The only famous Avery I can think of is Avery Schreiber, and they wouldn't name their daughter after him. In fact, Google reveals that all the "famous" Averys are male. Why didn't they name her Ava? Is this set fifty years ago? I can't believe millions of people today would think of Ava Gardner, especially in her age group. Finally, ignoring all that, this attempt at showing a humorous voice seems misplaced coming directly before "barely coping with the aftermath of her father’s abuse." I'd dump it.] She can’t do anything about the memories of her violent childhood, but she’d give anything to get rid of the abilities she feels cursed with.

Then Sebastian Caldwell comes to town. He’s special, too. [Comma not needed.] He can manipulate energy and he makes Avery light up like a star. Literally. Avery knows Sebastian is the last person she should trust. In fact, she’s quite convinced she should stay far away from him. [Those last two sentences say the same thing.] But he offers her things she’s never even dreamed of. The knowledge that she is an empath, contact with people like her, and… something more. Something special. [Charter membership in a new superhero team known as Sebastian's Squad.]

Soon, she finds herself – and her new friends – threatened by a doctor determined to make them lab rats. She can’t help wondering if she was right to trust Sebastian. Maybe she should have ran [run] at the very beginning. Maybe when she learned to control her power.

But maybe, just maybe, she chose right when she stayed. [The last three sentences all say what was implied by the sentence that precedes them. Replace them with something about what's at stake, what the plan is.]

SPYDER is a YA paranormal romance novel complete at 76,000 words. [Romance? Is that the "something more... Something special" Sebastian offers? Or were we supposed to get romance from the way he makes her light up like a star, literally? I think we need a less subtle indication that there's a Sebastian/Avery romance brewing.] It is a standalone but has potential for a sequel. Thanks for your time and consideration.



To say he makes her light up like a star "literally" (as opposed to figuratively), either means she's as bright as a real star, like the sun, in which case no one could even look at her, or it means she's as bright as a star as seen from Earth, in which case her light is so faint you'd almost need a telescope to see it. Can you explain more clearly what visual effect Sebastian's energy manipulation has on Avery?

I don't see why we need to bring Avery's father into the query if the main plot is Avery falling for the leader of a team of "special" people she's joined.

Why is Sebastian gathering special people together? Is he creating a superhero team? We need some idea of what's going on.

Cartoon 805

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

New Beginning 817

The photograph on the screen was simply astounding in scope and beyond any physical anthrpologist's wildest hope or dream. Julie Bachman spilled her coffee over the table she was working at. Her hands were shaking. She shut down the laptop and took off out of the library and into the night at a run. She didn't believe it but there it was, on her computer in glorious color. Blue, green, brown and gold. She couldn't be sure however until an expert checked it.

In another building on campus Dr. Ted Harbinger, head of the Anthro Department for the past twenty odd years, clicked on an assortment of photos a student sent in from some field work that had been underway for several months. One photo snapped him to attention. He sat upright and stared into the possibilities. As soon as he thought his way through the implications he googled real estate companies in a country, that until this moment, he had not the remotest interest in. It was a small country with a short list of realty firms. He dialled and quickly engaged in an animated conversation about

a) The color of underwear the young lady on the other end was wearing. Being somewhat absent-minded, Ted would tend to automatically dial the 900 number that gave him comfort in the evenings.

b) The extensive estate in Nigeria that, due to the death of its owner, is held up in copious red tape that can be freed only by passing funds through a US bank account, use of which will attract a healthy commission.

c) How it is, indeed, a long distance from Philadelphia.

d) No idea. Not a clue. Don't leave me hanging there, just a few more words, put me out of my misery for God's sake! Okay, okay, I'll read on already!

Opening: Bibi.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 804

Caption: anon.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010


The weredingo. More mysterious and more deadly even than its more notorious cousin, the werewolf. Weredingos have appeared occasionally in the Guess the Plot feature, but three of the following turned out to be the actual plots of minions' novels. Can you remember which three?

1. Australian Christina Margolin is the world's only known weredingo, a fact she has kept hidden, until she involuntarily "Shifts" into dingo form in the presence of Special Agent Donovan Moreno – who himself is a Shifter– a werepussy.

2. When Asha Santos takes a job at Hell's Gate Enterprises, she discovers that the employees are all demons, and they all have PMS. What's worse, they've stuck her on the graveyard shift--literally. Can she survive long enough to land a spot on the day shift? Also, a weredingo.

3. Chef Ted Grossout knows how to get more vegetables into your children, and it's as easy serving up a heaping helping of Werewolf Snotlards. Hundreds of new and exciting recipes, from Zombie Earwax to Weredingo Turds, will have your little ones asking for more.

4. Although she was initially praised for her story about the government's cover-up of the weredingo invasion of Melbourne, journalist Tamilla Saopopo's facts are questioned, and boom! She's fired. Homeless and friendless, she goes on a road trip, runs out of gas in the bush, and falls in love with a guy who lives under a eucalyptus. He is actually, yes, the manliest weredingo in West Australia.

5. Werewolves, weredingos, werecats: it's a new world out there at night since the virus that turns creatures into hairy monsters has taken over. Sarah doesn't know it yet, but she's just inherited an amulet that will protect her and a silver bullet factory that will make her the heroine of her time--and rich beyond her wildest dreams.

6. Teenage runaway Andrew is easy prey for the predators of New York City until a female werewolf takes him in. As their relationship progresses, will the were-woman sense that Andrew isn't what he seems to be? Could he be . . . a weredingo?

7. O, Dingo, Dingo, Werefore art thou? When 16 year old Juliet Jones introduces her new boyfriend, Dingo Smith, to the wrinklies, they are not amused. When they catch a glimpse of him and Juliet naked under the harvest moon, they get their pitchforks. Hilarity ensues.

8. Another in the cross-genre series in which the author seeks to reinvigorate the moribund fantasy novel, following her widely-acclaimed Frankenstein and the Philosopher's Stone, Zombies of the Round Table and The Lion, the Witch and the Weredingo.

Answers below

The actual plots were #s

1, 2, and 6.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Beginning 816

I was going to miss my call. I just knew it. I was going to miss my call and it would be all my mom’s fault. I hadn’t wanted to go out for my birthday. I’d just wanted to sit in my room where I knew I had good cell reception and wait for Jamie to call. Was that so much to ask? My mom though, she wanted to take me out for ice cream and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

So I sat there in the ice cream parlor taking little bites of my vanilla soft serve with candy pieces and glaring at my mom and brother. My mom had ordered the ice cream for me because it was the kind I’d liked three years ago. I didn’t like it anymore though. I hadn’t liked it in a long time.

Some kids were whining a couple booths over. Their mom kept yelling at them in a whisper. And I could hear an older couple talking loudly about something involving Someone’s brother’s funeral.

It was only mid-May but they already had the AC running. I could feel goose bumps on my exposed lower arms. It wasn’t good ice cream even. Before Jamie had left we’d driven an hour to go to Neilson’s. That was the best ice cream shop in the universe. Stupid Babana Splits couldn’t compare to Neilson’s and my mom and brother couldn’t compare to Jamie.

Plus, we drove three hours to get to this place, out in the middle of nowhere, with freaking cows roaming through the parking lot. Crap knows how we got here. I sure hope mom knows the way back. I'm going to ask her as soon as she gets back from the bathroom. Stupid kid brother ought be able to go on his own by now. He's eight, for Christ's sake. I'm gonna tell mom Jamie would've laughed at this place. As soon as she gets back. It's been forty-five minutes already. Surely the queue can't be that long?

Opening: Lauren K......Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 803

Caption: anon.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Face-Lift 853

Guess the Plot

The River Lethe

1. They call it that because people would like to forget about all the innocents who were dropped into it from airplanes with no parachutes and never seen again. But Victoria will never forget the atrocities that led her to flee the country, leaving her friends to the concentration camps or maybe even to be dropped from airplanes into . . . the River Lethe. With no parachutes.

2. When young Chiro and her parents accidentally wander into the spirit world, she meets the friendly water-dragon of the river Lethe. Together they defeat a witch and save her parents from being served as food.

3. Lisa Rowles has an old German map left to her by her grandfather, who told her that it led to Nazi gold. But it doesn't match modern maps. Dr. Rob Sanchez recognizes that the map's twin resides in the Vatican. Can they beat the Jesuits to . . . the River Lethe?

4. John meets a group of hippie lotus-eaters while canoeing down the river Lethe and adopts their easy living lifestyle. Which would be fine if he hadn't killed three people the week before and wasn't currently the subject of a nationwide manhunt. Amnesia can be a bitch.

5. Finneus Bigsby is a swindler, selling people his usual "health tonic" by the roadside, traveling town to town. One day he stumbles on a formula that makes people forget, and realizes that's just the medicine some people need. For starters, one sip, and you won't remember how much you just paid.

6. Planning to elope, Henry agrees to meet his sweetheart at the River Lethe. Tragically, Henry doesn't take Gertrude's lisp into account; the rendezvous is the River Lesse, and Henry loses Gertrude forever. On the brink of despair, he pioneers the practice of speech pathology.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When the Armed Forces take control of Argentina in 1976, Victoria must choose to remain apathetic and silent or speak out against the violence that has claimed the lives of her three best friends.

Julia dies before the dictatorship can begin, fighting as a guerrilla in the northwestern provinces. Victoria and her remaining friends, Irene and Liliana, believe they are insulated from the political violence, because unlike Julia, they neither engage in nor believe in the armed struggle.

But the military makes no distinction between those with guns and those with ideas. [I, on the other hand, would much prefer to be stranded on an island with a philosopher than with a hitman.] Irene, due to her outspoken and politically active older brother, is the first of the friends to join the ranks of ‘los desaparecidos,’ those who are arrested and vanish into the military’s sinister network of secret prisons. Months later, inspired by the first anniversary of the coup, Liliana pens a scathing editorial against the junta in her underground newspaper. This editorial is equivalent to signing a death warrant and soon after its publication Liliana disappears.

With Victoria alone in the outside world, Liliana and Irene are reunited in the Navy Mechanics School, one of the dictatorship’s most notorious concentration camps. Victoria eventually accompanies her older brother into exile in Spain, unsure if she’ll ever see her friends again. Decades later, Victoria returns to a democratic Argentina still struggling with the brutal legacy of the Dirty War and the disappeared.

THE RIVER LETHE is a 91,000 word work of literary fiction. I am currently majoring in Latin American Studies at [redacted] and have spent extensive time in Argentina. This is my first novel.


[Author's note, not part of query: The title refers to the Rio de la Plata, the eventual resting place of many of the disappeared, who were drugged and dumped alive from airplanes over its waters. The 'Lethe' aspect refers to how many people find it better to just forget about the things that happened during the dictatorship.]


It's a well-written query. however . . . Given a choice among four potential characters to base a story around, most authors would choose the woman who took up arms to fight with revolutionaries, or the one who risked her life by fighting oppression through an underground press or even the one who was thrown into a concentration camp for something her brother did. But you have boldly chosen the character who fled to another continent and returned only when it was safe. Does Victoria do anything noteworthy, or is she simply carried along by the tide of events like so many others? In short, why does Victoria get a book written about her, and can you work that into the query? (If there are several main characters, the first paragraph is misleading us into thinking the book is focused on Victoria.)

When you say violence "claimed the lives of" Victoria's three friends, I assume they're dead. But you say their lives had been claimed when the military took control in 1976. Later you suggest that Irene and Liliana are alive beyond that event; in fact, it's not clear from the query that they aren't alive even when Victoria returns decades later.

Cartoon 802

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Beginning 815

March 9, 1916

“Well,” says the Devil, “I haven't seen them in ages, you know.”

You shift in your seat, uncomfortable. At your wrist sits an untouched glass of gin and tonic, a napkin topped with haphazard silverware rearranged by the movement of your hand. A white tablecloth that you suspect may actually be yellow, and cleverly hiding it. And across from you sits a gentleman who reclines in his chair with the ease of a snake.

You bite your lip. “That isn't to say—but you still remember the story, don't you?”

“But of course,” he says, lifting a gracious eyebrow.

There is a locket at his breast, an oddly feminine thing for a man of his beauty to be wearing. Small and ovular. The sort of thing that would hold a miniature of a beloved nephew—not too precious, not too invaluable, but somewhere in between, something vaguely intimate. There is a warning glow about its dull brassy tarnish that tells you that you don't want to know what is inside.

You shift your eyes away, to the silverware at his wrist. Carefully, you swallow. In the scratched reflection, his eyes are a thick, solid, swirling golden yellow. No pupil to speak of. Only brass.

He coughs politely in his throat. You rip your eyes back up to his face.

“You know what I am,” he says, business like, folding his long fingered hands atop the table. “You know what I have to tell you. Therefore it should follow that you know what I require in return.”

"Oh, I know what you are," you say, and repelled by his evil arrogance you grab the plate of curled butter at your wrist and you throw it at him and his eyes widen as the churned milk melts and covers his skin and his flesh begins to burn, and now you have vanquished him, because since your childhood you have been taught what to do in such a circumstance: Butter the Devil you know.

Opening: Askance.....Continuation: anon

Cartoon 801

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Face-Lift 852

Guess the Plot

Outcast War

1. The Addams family versus the Beverly Hillbillies, using every sort of weapon imaginable. Also, goats.

2. Fat girls versus guys with acne, using hand signals and cell phone texts. Also, basketball benchwarmers.

3. North Korea versus Iran, using bombs that emit millions of crazy-talk pamphlets. Also, radioactive dust.

4. Nashaarians versus Ashai using magic and weapons of average destruction. Also, a dead woman who is alive but not a zombie.

5. The studious loners versus the 98-pound weaklings using hardback editions of obscure Greek philosophy. Also, an outdated atlas.

6. The Geeks versus the Goths for control of the high school, using Blackberries and black mascara. Also, a teacher who wears a kilt.

Original Version

Dear [Insert Agent Name Here]

David is a young man living [in] the northern part of the Nashaarian Empire. He aspires to attend the local university and become a scholar, but all of this is derailed when his best friend Cora is chosen to suffer a special and terrible fate at the hands of Valdrick, a man who works at the university and whom David considered a friend. [It's not clear to me why David's aspirations are derailed. Postponed maybe. Is the whole university corrupt?] [You'd have to be incredibly naive to think any good could come from a friendship with a guy named Valdrick. I'd sooner be friends with a guy named Borgo the Disemboweler than Valdrick.] As he plans to help Cora escape, David learns that Valdrick is actually a member of a race of magic users called the Ashai, who are hated and persecuted for past misdeeds against mortals. [I don't need all of the info in this paragraph. I don't need to know which part of the empire David lives in, I don't need both "attend the university" and 'become a scholar." Instead of telling us Valdrick works at the university and David considered him a friend, you might just cut to the part about him being an Ashai magic user.]

When he fails to get Cora away, David is forced to watch as Valdrick uses her body for possession by his dead Ashai lover. After a narrow escape, he is horrified to discover that he, too, is one of the hated Ashai and that because of this he can never go back to his old life or aspirations; finding a way to save Cora from her fate is all he has left. [If he's Ashai, are his parents also Ashai? Why can't he go back to them?]

So David follows Valdrick back to the heart of the war-torn Nashaarian Empire. Along the way he discovers the persecution of the Ashai is not really as justified as he once thought while he struggles with his own identity. As he learns that Valdrick's plan is to destroy the empire through civil war and make a better world for the Ashai, [The empire is already war-torn. Is Valdrick's civil war underway, or is there another war that's going on or that just ended?] David finds he must choose between helping a man he hates change the world, and supporting a group of mortals striving to restore the heir to the Nashaarian throne in order to save the empire and restore Nashaar to its former greatness. [It was stated that all David had left was saving Cora. Yet she doesn't seem to figure into this choice at all.]

/Outcast War/ is a 91,158 word fantasy novel and the first part of an (already completed) duology, which is itself the beginning of a [trilogy which could be expanded into a] possible series [which could be adapted into a major motion picture which I could write a novelization of].

I have included a short synopsis along with the first five pages of my manuscript. I will happily send more sample chapters or the complete manuscript along if you are interested. Thank you so much for taking the time to consider me.

[Author's end note, not part of the query letter: I just wanted to throw this out there – I don't like my title much at all. In fact I am struggling to come up with a really good, eye-catching title and so far I've been unable to do so. Suggestions welcome, of course. And thanks for all the feedback!]


David was an Ashai before he knew he was an Ashai, so why can't he go back to his aspirations now that he has discovered the truth? It's okay to aspire to be a scholar if you don't know you're Ashai, but not okay if you do know? It's okay for Valdrick, who is Ashai, to work for the university, but not okay for David to attend?

Does David have any idea how to use magic? Does magic ability make one Ashai? Or is it that anyone can use magic, but the Ashai actually do, while others have agreed not to?

Why are some people referred to as mortals? Are the Ashai immortal?

David does a lot of learning and discovering. He learns that Valdrick is a villain, that Valdrick is Ashai, that he is Ashai, that Val plans to destroy the empire. All we see him do is follow Valdrick to the heart of the empire. If we shorten the setup we'll have room to include what David's plan is, and how he goes about it.

Cartoon 800!

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

New Beginning 814

“Too late,” said the barista, leaning on the marble countertop and lowering his lashes over luminous brown eyes that, on a less beautiful boy, would irretrievably invoke a bovine comparison. “Georgie is done for. Dead, darling.”

That took my mind off his sculpted shoulders in a hurry. “I beg your pardon? When?”

“Hardly an hour ago. Took a header off that roof opposite.” He pointed out to the cobbled square. “The body’s gone but the cleaners are just getting started.”

I stared past the flaking gold lettering on the ancient cafĂ© window. “I wonder if there’s anything non-organic left.”

“Better hurry and find out, sweet thing. I’ll keep your cappu warm for you.”

Flashing him a smile appreciative of much more than his kindly offer, I dashed outside. Under the lowering sky, the stain of Georgie’s landing would have been visible even without the cluster of regen-atons scraping it up with their miniature shovels, brushes and pincers like clockwork ants at a picnic. I shooed them away and stared down at the approximately body-shaped splooge on the cobbles. Georgie, for whom I’d have been well paid if I’d succeeded in returning him to his ancestral acres on the outskirts, was worth nothing once reduced to his component parts.


Lucky for me that I could hack these things -- one of many tricks I learned living on the streets after clockwork ants carried my parents away. After some rewiring, I asked, "Regen-aton, what happened to Georgie's body?"

Damn. Well, since I had it working for me...

"Regen-aton, scan the barista in the shop behind me. Is he looking at us?"


"Enable gay-dar."




Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 799

Caption: Travis Erwin

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Feature 18

There seems to be an insatiable demand for images of celebrities. Which explains why Evil Editor has had his portrait painted so many times, and why the paparazzi follow him everywhere he goes.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Face-Lift Awards

3rd Place
814: The Seven Swords

2nd Place
779: God's Play

1st Place
806: Shadow of Doubt

2010 New Beginning Awards

The bank robber was wearing a heavy-duty bulletproof vest,but that didn't do him any good against the lightning bolts.

When the thief came running out of the bank's front doors, Cobalt hit him with electrical blasts from both hands, sending him reeling to the ground. The man was wearing his body armor over black coveralls, with a full-face motorcycle helmet on his head and a submachine gun slung across his chest. He'd been intent on the four racing motorcycles lined up at the curb and hadn't seen Cobalt hovering twenty feet in the air, concealed from view by the building's overhanging facade.

If you wanted to be a successful crook in a place with as many hyper-heroes as Biggs City, you had to look up once in a while.

It was a lesson Cobalt himself obviously hadn't learned, for moments later he lay gasping on the sidewalk, struggling to free himself from the immense fetid mound smothering him. Far above, the sound of enormous flapping wings and baleful cooing died away as the genetically enhanced arch-villain HindenPigeon flew off to begin his conquest of Biggs City by means of a shock-and-awe bombardment of nano-guano.

Opening: Sean McCluskey.....Continuation: Paul Penna

As the woman tumbled from the heavens a riot of colours and questions chased her. Was that the rainbow spectrum of the balloon? Where was the parachute rip cord? Would life flash before her eyes?

Around 700 feet, she resigned herself to the terror of a recurring drowning nightmare she’d had as a child. Her chest tightened and the panic rose like vomit in her throat. Wake up! Wake up! Her brain screamed, but no sound came out.

600 feet…

Seconds from impact a feeling of calm spread through her. Aware of a benevolent presence, she relaxed into familiar arms, arms that lifted her. And, instead of plummeting, her body now felt as though it were gliding, or maybe she was flying.

500 feet, 400 feet, 200 feet…

The woman who faced imminent death took one last look around.

To the right, the sky was the same blue as her mother’s eyes. In the foreground, gold trimmed puffs of cloud lingered next to the most luminous reds and oranges, as if birds were shedding their colourful feathers.

To the left, the trees were dancing slowly, half lit in red organza dresses.

The woman lurched to the right, missing the trees, and plunged into the frigid water. As her entire world turned to darkness, a final thought flashed through her mind: Freedom.

* * *

After twenty minutes, 24D hadn't returned from the restroom, so Chuck turned to 24F. "Howdy. My name's Charles, but most folks call me Chuck. What's your name? I'm going to merry old England to visit my grandchildren. Have you been to England? The motherland? I went once before on a training course. I'm in sales. Insurance, mostly. You got insurance? You should. Hm? Sure, go ahead. Might be a queue..."

Opening: Dina Desveaux.....Continuation: Anon.

I could hear the fear in my breathing - jagged and sporadic. My lungs screamed for oxygen, and my muscles fought back as I encountered cramps in succession throughout my legs. My brain was wailing in pain, trying to plea bargain with my heart; begging for my legs to stop running, if only for a moment. However, my heart refused this task because I was searching - in the barren darkness of the underground tunnels - for him.

Confused and disoriented, I frantically turned without thinking down another hallway almost entirely devoured by the darkness. The acrid odors previously stinging my nose began to subside as the stale, thick air began to thin, making breathing easier. I continued to run faster than my body wanted; because I knew, I was going to lose the love of my life. Run Carrie, I could hear him say in my head, his voice as smooth as silk was quietly tickling my thoughts. I'm coming, I said without words, and continued pushing myself to run harder as my vision became blurry from tears. Tears of fear, anguish, and love.

The ache was jagged and sporadic, like a pounding in my brain. My eyes were tearing from the fearing, water swirling down a drain. The starkness of the darkness, blackness bringing on the slackness-- courage failing, and my wailing, to my love (whom I was hailing), was the foment of my to'ment, like a beating from a cane.

As I scrambled through the cavern-- dank and smoky, like a tavern-- I espied a glowing fire, at my level, only higher. Up a staircase; through a doorway, like a Dane escaping Norway, ducking ceiling; leaping chasm, 'till one final frightful spasm, sent me sprawling and a-bawling, to the cold unyielding floor.

And then, finally, did I see, like a ship far out at sea, a lone candle in the dim, held up by a hand quite slim: pale whiteness like fine marble, hair of gold, and eyes a-sparkle. T'was my love, my one-and-only! There he stood, alone and lonely. By my side, he bent a knee, and these words he spake to me:

“Where the hell's the circuit breaker?”

Opening: Natbagel.....Continuation: Sean

2010 Guess the Plot Awards

2nd Place

Junior Prom or Death

1. Brought up before the Spanish Inquisition for heresy, Ramon is offered a terrible choice.

2. When your aunt tells you your choices are the Junior Prom with Nate Willenburger or death, it's a tough call. And it's even tougher when your aunt is Medusa.

3. Death most certainly. In this recession what seventeen year old boy has money to spring for a limo, a corsage and the Red Lobster dinner that his date will only shuffle around on her plate?

4. The first volume of Patrick Henry's autobiography, from birth to graduation.

5. Samantha Powers has a problem. The Junior Prom and her sweet-sixteen birthday are only three days away and Zack doesn’t know she exists. If she doesn’t get a date with him she’ll just die. For the reals. She inherited a centuries old family curse that will kill her if she doesn’t get kissed by her 16th birthday. OMG.

6. Two days before the prom a fairy shrinks Kayla to the size of an insect. Can she make the two-block journey to Fairfax Fred to get the fairy's spell reversed, without being crushed or eaten by a predator? Also, a talking garden gnome.

1st Place

Little Emergencies

1. When you simply have to have chocolate. When you spill lemonade on the front of your pants right before the debate with the other nominee. When you wake up in your sleeping bag and discover a boa constrictor wrapped around you.

2. When the condom breaks. When you find yourself pregnant with triplets. When your no-good louse of a husband leaves you in your eighth month. When you can't get a sitter on the day of your big presentation so you bring the kids to work knowing the only way to keep them quiet is to breast feed them.

3. When it's your first day at your new high school and your new classmates find out your name is Charmin. When your mother comes to your school and starts yelling at your math teacher . . . during your math class. When you're surfing the web and discover your kid brother secretly photographed you in your underwear and put the pic on

4. When the timer goes off signaling that your souffle needs to come out of the oven at the same time the dog is on the new carpet making pre-puking gag noises. When an alien nursery ship crash lands in North Dakota and lets loose forty species-worth of extraterrestrial infants.

5. When the most popular boy in high school falls in love with you . . . and you're a guy. When your own brother falls in love with you . . . and you're a guy. When your best friend Patrick is so jealous of the guys who are in love with you that he storms your school with a gun . . . and you're a guy.

6. When you see the most darling pair of sandals on sale, and your credit card is already maxed out. When your waitress turns out to be your ex and she's better looking than your date. When your hair is on fire.

Previous GTP Awards may be viewed by clicking the label at the bottom of the post.

The actual plots of the novels were:

Junior Prom: 6
Little Emergencies: 5

2010 Cartoon Caption Awards

5th Place

Caption: Anon.

4th Place

Caption: Angela Robbins

3rd Place

Caption: Whirlochre

2nd Place

Caption: Anon.

1st Place

Caption: Khazar-khum

If you sumitted anonymously but would like your deserved recognition, let me know.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Someone finally submitted a query letter. I was beginning to think it was time to shut down Evil Editor and start Evil Advice Columnist. Now we just need our fake plot writers to get to work. And we need openings too. Remember, we accept openings of short stories as well as novels. We even accept the opening of chapter 2 if it has different characters from chapter 1.

Cartoon 798

Caption: Evil Editor

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cartoon 797

Caption: anon.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Face-Lift 851

Guess the Plot

Song of the Nile

1. 1901. Elizabeth travels with her family to Egypt for her health. While in Giza she meets dashing archeologist Lionel Campbell, saving him from a deadly cobra. Will he return her affection--or is he a hopeless mummy's boy?

2. Doomed to a life of servitude, Merys goes down to Nile riverbank for some peace. There the Egyptian Crocodile god hears her singing and falls in love with her. Will these two profess their love for each other, or will they forever live in . . . denial?

3. Pollution has transformed the papyrus-rustling Nile into a sludgy toxic fart. Environmental guerilla Gaya Greene assembles a band of eco-warriors to put an end to the culprits. Can Gaya's compost and nightsoil bomb destroy the polluters, and restore the . . . Song of the Nile?

4. After Louise leaves him, Gerry spends the whole night drinking and sobbing and writing the best song ever, good enough to revive his career in Nashville and make him a star. But when he wakes up he can remember only a tiny bit. When a hypno-therapist fails to fix his memory and get the song back, Gerry turns to prophetic mummy in a tomb halfway up the Nile.

5. 1360 BC. Merit and Teti are singers at the Temple of Amun, pretty, and in love with young Prince Thutmose. But when Prince Thutmose is found dead, can they overcome their differences to help Prince Amenhotep find his brother's killer?

6. What a despondent banker really needs after bringing down the world economy is a new life full of hope and the love of a beautiful songstress. That's why Nigel chose the Nile cruise. Little did he know the boat would sink, the other passengers would turn against him, and he'd end up fleeing across the Sahara Desert in a desperate attempt to stow away on a Libyan barge going anywhere.

Original Version

Dear Editor,

I am seeking a publisher for “Song of the Nile,” a fast-paced story of forbidden love between the ancient Egyptian Crocodile God and a beautiful human woman. This novel is a romance with paranormal elements, complete at X words. [If I've said it once I've said it . . . once: don't give your word count in Roman numerals.]

Merys knows she will never marry. Though her father is a wealthy scribe, Merys' stepmother insists that Merys should remain unwed in order to care for her parents in their old age, [Her parents, meaning her father and mother? Where is her mother?] and the dowries should be saved for her more attractive half-sisters. [In the previous paragraph you describe Merys as a beautiful human woman. Now you make her sound like the ugly duckling.] [Also, how many dowries does Merys have?] Merys is resigned to living under her stepmother's dictates, but finds some small measure of solace when she can escape to the Nile's riverbank. On the quiet beach by the river she cares for an old abandoned temple of the Crocodile God Sobek, and sings the songs of praise to him that her mother taught her. Merys has never thought of another life until one day a handsome strange[r] catches her singing by the riverbank. ["Catches" makes it sound like a crime. I'd go with "hears."]

The stranger, Bek, is truly Sobek in human guise, [I already had that figured out. If your name is Sobek and you want to hide your identity, you can come up with a better name than Bek. That's like Thor changing his name to Hor or Uranus changing his name to Anus.] [Also, unless you're an unreliable narrator, no need to say "truly." We trust you.] and from the first moment he hears

Merys' beautiful voice he cannot resist his own strong feelings for the human girl. Unfortunately, love between a Great One and a human is strictly forbidden, and yet Merys means too much to him for Sobek to use her as a concubine. Sobek tries to hide his true self and resist his feelings, [You just said he couldn't resist his feelings.] while Merys fights her own blossoming hope that perhaps Bek wants more than mere friendship, that perhaps she can have more than a life of drudgery and servitude under her stepmother.

But when enemy raiders attack Merys' village, she is mortally injured. Sobek must now attempt to convince the ruler of the gods to save Merys, even if it means he must give her up for all time. [That makes it sound like saving her is the cause of having to give her up. I don't see that they're connected. And it's not like Bek has a difficult choice. No good comes from not saving Merys.] Or is there still some way to persuade the gods to allow Sobek and Merys to live together in the home of the Great Gods for all time?

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.



One could get the impression that Bek's attitude is, If I can't have her, she might as well die. I assume that's not correct, as it makes for a lousy hero. Bek wants Merys. The obstacle is that it's forbidden love. How they plan to overcome this obstacle seems like the plot's focus. If the injury affects the plan, show how. Otherwise we don't need the injury. I'm not sure we need the evil stepmother, either. Certainly we don't need so much about Merys's life before she meets Bek.

Sobek also may not be the perfect hero of a romance novel if he normally uses women as concubines unless they mean a lot to him.

Little-known fact I learned while researching the critique: Sobek was so popular in Arsinoe that the town was known as Crocodilopolis.

Cartoon 796

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Monday, December 13, 2010


This is the 5000th post on the Evil Editor blog. Currently. If you want to get technical, there've been a lot more because I've deleted most of the book chat reminders and the feedback requests and the cartoon workshops and the calls for submissions of queries and openings when we're running low (like we are right now, with only one query and zero openings, so if you've been trying to work up the courage, it's time to take the plunge; surely everyone who did NaNoWriMo should have submitted their first 150 - 200 words by now). But according to Blogger there are now 5000, posted on 1687 consecutive days. To celebrate, here's a look back at a few other milestones:

1st mention of Mrs. Varmighan
Text Color1st appearance of Mrs. V.

1st appearance of Evil Editor's laser eyes

1st use of "Also a _______" at the end of a Guess the Plot