Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Face-Lift 790

Guess the Plot

Experimenting with Love

1. Kaely has fallen for Colin, but he's gay so she decides to turn him straight. When her attempts all fail, she comes up with a new experiment: disguise herself as a guy, get Colin to fall for her/him, and then reveal the truth, at which point he'll have to be straight.

2. Thelda Mondthwaite's family has been in the love potion business eight centuries. Tradition means everything, until niece Titiana joins the business. Tit says diversification is the key to future success. When Thelda finds a bottle labeled “On Your Knees, Wastrel,” she knows the company is in trouble.

3. It was supposed to be a simple psychology trial - can people make themselves fall in love? The answer seems to be yes: the more time Gaby spends with her assigned partner, the more she starts to like him. But will she throw him over when she learns this was actually a drug trial for a new pheromone-enhanced body wash?

4. Salitor the wizard has been trying for decades to perfect the formula for a sure-fire love potion. All his failed attempts, unfortunately for mankind, have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is the galactic horror known as the Soul Sucker.

5. High school junior David Jacoby concocts a love potion in the chem lab. He has only three days before the prom to slip it to Marla, the prettiest, most popular girl in the school. So he invents a gizmo that freezes time, then winds up in the seventh dimension. He takes Marla to the prom or not in a happy or weird ending, accordingly. Final chapter is dadaist garble.

6. Julie has always dreamed of the perfect guy, but being the school nerd doesn't help her chances one bit. Now she's all grown up and decides to make all the boys that once knew her jealous by creating the perfect boy for her. Too bad he's a robot and has no emotions, otherwise his seamless construction would've fooled the idiots.

Original Version

Your Evilness,

Kaely is known to the online world as kaekat2012 on her blog and she's as close to a being star as she is becoming president at 16. That is, until she meets Colin, a super hot foreign exchange student from Scottland. Not only do her almost nonexistant readers love him, but Kaely finds herself developing strong feelings for him. [You screwed up your first sentence, spelled "Scotland" wrong in your second sentence, and spelled "nonexistent" wrong in your third sentence. Whoever's reading this will assume every sentence in your book has a mistake, and stop reading here.]

There's only one tiny problem, he's gay. Kaely's determined to turn him straight one way or the other but finds that extremely difficult. [What are the ways she tries?] But then she has a brilliant idea: pretend to be a guy to win Colin's heart then reveal the truth to him, [No wonder she's set her sights on a gay guy; a sixteen-year-old girl who can pass as a guy probably isn't getting much action from the straight guys.] and she'll document her progress on her blog to gain readers and reach her possible stardome. [That comma should be a colon in sentence 1, you need a comma after "heart" in sentence 2, and you spelled "stardom" wrong in sentence 3 (and in the sentence below this one).]

Soon enough, the blog kicks off as a national hit and Kaely must decide what's more important to her, her newfound stardome or true happiness. [She must give up her blog to achieve the happiness that comes with a romantic relationship with a gay guy?] [I've made you look like a complete fool on my blog for the past year. Now will you date me?]

Experimenting With Love is a YA realistic fiction romance complete at 67,000 words. [What's realistic about it?]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


You need to explain why Kaely has to decide between stardom and happiness. Why can't she have both? What will bring her happiness?

I don't see how this can be a romance if the heroine's crush is a gay guy.

You need to get rid of the errors in the query and in the book.

Cartoon 675

Caption: Evil Editor

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Face-Lift 789

Guess the Plot

Dark Inheritance

1. Sydney Fermoyle's got oil. Uncle Jack left him the wells, along with instructions for a ridiculous ritual that must be performed before each new drilling. When Sydney tosses the instructions, strange, shadowy creatures begin to haunt the wells.

2. Lorraine's late mother always referred to her childhood home as "the ancestral castle of pure evil." So when Lorraine learns that she's inherited the old house, she does what any goth girl would: she moves right in.

3. When 10-year-old Petra's eccentric Uncle Nox dies, she inherits his estate, the Kingdom of Night. But the evil troll Dunkel believes he is the rightful heir. Can Petra and her loyal bats and owls thwart Dunkel's evil schemes before her parents start enforcing curfew?

4. With few memories of Grandpa Pete, twelve-year-old Misty isn't sure how to feel about his death. When she's visited by Mabel, Herald of the Dark, Misty learns grandpa Pete wasn't just any old grandfather; he was Lord Dark, the only hero on Earth capable of holding the evil ghoul brigade at bay. Now that Misty has inherited that title, can she learn to wield Pete's wand in time?

5. Julia, 28 and lovely, is alone in the world after her parents die in a fire that left only a mound of ashes and two silver stakes. Rex Hamilton, the handsome executor of their wills, informs her that as the mortal child of two vampires, she must atone for every life they took or become a vampire herself. Horrified, Julia pleads for Rex's help -- but eventually she decides being a vampire is worth it. Could it be she saw Rex's billing rates?

6. Possessed by a demon, Una is in danger of losing her soul. She does have one ace in the hole: Dark Power, which she inherited from her mother. But is that enough to exorcise an incredibly strong demon before it takes control? Who knew being a teenager would be so aggravating?

Original Version

Your Esteemed Evilness,

Life sucks for Una White. Her mom is not only famous (for varied reasons) but also extremely overprotective and controlling. It doesn't help much that Una has the ability to read people so well that she can figure out what annoys someone in under five minutes. [If I'm annoying someone, it takes me only a few seconds to figure out what I'm doing . . . and to start doing even more of it.] [What are you saying, Una has a super power that allows her to look at a complete stranger and determine within five minutes that he is annoyed by people chewing their ice, even though Una hasn't seen anyone chew ice in his presence? I don't see how that would be useful except that she can avoid chewing ice in his presence, but as it takes her five minutes to figure out that he's annoyed by ice chewers, she might chew ice three minutes after meeting him, and then two minutes later she realizes that she's gotten off on the wrong foot. She needs to hone her skill so that she can tell what annoys someone within five seconds.] Safe to say that Mom doesn't much approve of Una's new bad boy beau, Auryen. [Apparently Auryen chews his ice?]

But when some of Mom's old enemies from her past [Your old enemies are always from the past.] come back for revenge, Una's caught in the crosshairs. [I think you better tell us what Mom is famous for, so we have an idea what form this revenge is likely to take.] Sporting a new Mark from their attack, she discovers that not only does she have an incredibly strong Demonica [Nice of you to capitalize the words I need to look up so I can find them more easily. I'm guessing a Demonica is a demon who, in a past existence, was football player Daryl Lamonica. No idea what a Mark is. Perhaps if I took up World of Warcraft it would all make sense?] using her for a host body but she also has some Dark Power that got genetically passed down to her from her mom.

Now it's a race against time to exorcize the demon from Una before the Mark spreads and Una loses control. But in order to rid Una of the demon, her mom must first trust Auryen because he may be the only one with the key to saving Una's soul.

Dark Inheritance is a Young Adult fantasy complete at 70,000 words.

Thank you,


It's not clear to me whether the Demonica is connected to Mom's enemies. Are the enemies responsible for the Demonica?

Also, I don't see how the Demonica can be described as "incredibly strong," when it's not even in control.

I don't see what the 3rd sentence has to do with anything. Why not start out:

Life sucks for Una White. Not only does she have an overprotective mom who doesn't approve of her boyfriend Auryen, but she's also possessed by a demon.

Then you can say something like: Luckily for Una, the demon is incredibly weak--so far--so there may be time to exorcise it before it takes control and kills her soul/destroys the Earth/ruins her birthday party.

In other words, what's at stake, and what does Una plan to do about it, and what's making it almost impossible to do it?

If you can avoid using the terms Demonica and Mark, all the better.

Cartoon 674

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Synopsis 25


If you haven't read the query for this novel, which was posted Friday the 25th, and you want to play Guess the Plot, scroll down now, as this synopsis gives away the plot. Of course, if you want to be able to say you got a Guess the Plot right for a change, read on.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper finds out a walk in the woods can change his life forever with one chance meeting – or end it on a battlefield.

Bored as the new kid in town, he is desperate for friends and fun. He finds adventure in the mountain forest above his home when he encounters talking animals created from the DNA of highly-evolved animals that roamed the earth long ago and died out.

They share the story of their accidental transformation into prehistoric animals of amazing strength, senses and reason that lived on earth millions of years ago [That's pretty much the definition of "prehistoric."] and were blasted away by a siege of meteorites that left almost no trace behind. Almost.

When bumbling, old Mr. Bimble loses his walking stick it’s struck by lightning in the forest and explodes into shimmering dust that changes every creature it touches into the animals of long ago. What made his walking stick so special? It was carved from wood he dug up as a boy that carried the DNA of these ancient animals and their powers surged through him whenever he grasped it. [The first sentence of that paragraph needs to be in past tense. Otherwise it sounds like you're moving on to something new, rather than reporting the story the animals shared. In fact, you might combine the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs into:

They share the story of their accidental transformation: It seems when bumbling old Mr. Bimble lost his walking stick it was struck by lightning in the forest and exploded into shimmering dust that changed every creature it touched into prehistoric animals of amazing strength, senses and reason.]

Bound now with their new powers, these animals also carry the memories of the ancient ones and know [that] not all were decent and wise. [They know] within some [of them] lurked dark urges to plunder and conquer their own. Joshua and his friends wonder, could there be others like that now? All of this is forgotten in the idyllic days that follow as Joshua spends them soaring over the forest on a magnificent bald eagle, playing tag in the meadow with deer, [When you play tag with deer, you're pretty much always "it."] racing through the woods hanging onto the scruff of a mighty bear and sharing fireside tales with his best friend, a beaver. [Eagle, deer, bear, beaver? These are the highly evolved animals that lived in prehistoric times?]

Joshua realizes he can’t keep the secret of the animals to himself when he encounters Mr. Bimble searching for his lost walking stick [If you need a walking stick, it seems like you'd notice the moment you didn't have it, and not walk so far away from where you last had it that you have to go searching for it.] and Matt, a school bully, heading up the mountain to shoot off fireworks in the woods. He rescues them from a forest sinkhole and risks sharing the secret of the animals. The unlikely trio becomes friends and vows to protect their secret of their forest friends no matter what the consequence. [If I had wanted to keep the animals' secret, a bully is the last person I'd reveal it to. You can't trust a bully not to come back with nets and cages and trucks to capture the animals and start a circus.]

Joshua discovers Mr. Bimble is dying from cancer and with the help of his friends he devises a special magic DNA brew in the hopes to cure him with the animal powers. [Why is the DNA concoction magic? If magic exists, why not make the cancer cure from something more easily obtained than DNA? Peach pits, for instance?] They have no idea one of their own is creating his own DNA concoction, only not to cure – to create and conquer.

When a power-hungry fox carrying the dark seed of the prehistoric animals secretly transforms thousands of animals into his allies to rule the forest with his DNA, [My college molecular biology book didn't have this many DNA references.] Joshua must find a way to save his captured forest friends and stop the fox.

He rallies his comrades to raise their own army and build an arsenal of weapons to defend themselves in the battle of their lives. When Joshua leads his friends in bloody war against the evil animal hoard [horde] he is struck down near death and it is up to his friends to save him.

Victorious in battle, Joshua and his friends share a winter of peace. He is relieved to get back to the business of just being a boy. When spring blooms Mr. Bimble (completely cured of cancer by the magic brew) is invited [By whom?] to fly off to another secret place of fantastic animals deep in the South American jungle. He rises up on the back of his friend, the great eagle, waving goodbye to all in a shimmer of golden sun – to where they might never know. But one thing Joshua knows for sure, it will be the adventure of a lifetime. [And you can experience it by watching the movie Up.]


I'm willing to buy the lightning strike release of DNA transforming the animals, which is quite generous of me, but the idea of a kid and a fox (even a brilliant fox) whipping up DNA concoctions to cure cancer and transform animals?

I'm not crazy about DNA being behind the animals' transformation and the fox's scheme, and the kid's cancer cure. How about some variety? Unless DNA Man is in this book, someone in it oughta be able to accomplish something without using DNA. One begins to think if Josh had a flat tire on his bike he'd use DNA to fix it.

I'd rather hear about how Joshua was victorious in battle than about a winter of peace followed by Mr. Bimble flying south in the spring. What are Joshua's side's weapons? And don't say guns that shoot DNA.

Is it the animals who tell Joshua about the lightning striking the cane? Because I don't see how they would know lightning had struck the cane if they didn't exist until after the DNA dust touched them.

Cartoon 673

Caption: Whirlochre

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Face-Lift 788

Guess the Plot

Joshua and the Fantastic Forest

1. After the Dreary Desert, the Crappy City and the Pathetic Polar Region, things are finally looking up for ten-year-old Joshua.

2. Eleven-year-old Joshua lives in the desert, not a tree in sight. But across the river is something he has only heard of, a forest. It's the answer to his prayers, plenty of wood for arrows, bows and even battering rams. But Moloch, god of fire, has his own plans for that wood. In a clash between the fire god and a hard-headed monotheist, only one will survive.

3. Eight year old Joshua Cohen is thrilled when his parents move to the Mojave Desert, home of the exotic Joshua trees. When he wanders into the lush juniper forest, he meets a strange guide who seems to be one of the trees. Also, a coyote who tells bad jokes.

4. Twelve-year-old Joshua is thrilled to discover a peaceful community of talking animals in the forest. When a power-hungry fox secretly transforms thousands of animals into his allies to rule the forest, Joshua raises his own army and builds an arsenal of weapons. Unfortunately, when he leads his troops in bloody war against the evil animal horde, he is struck down. Hey, at least he tried.

5. Nine-year-old Joshua Has been warned time and again not to go into the forest alone. Which of course makes it irresistible. What he finds is a trail of candy that leads to a house filled with video games and unhealthy snack foods. What could possibly go wrong?

6. After his amateur theatre group's hit production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, director Stitch Jones turns playwright. Egos inflate over who gets the lead until no one, including Stitch, can see the Fantastic Forest for the trees--until thirteen-year-old Joshua arrives, halo and all.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Twelve-year old Joshua Cooper finds out a walk in the woods can change his life – or end it.

Bored as the new kid in town, he is desperate for adventure. He finds it in the forest when he befriends talking animals transformed accidentally from DNA of the same highly-evolved animals that lived millions of years ago and died out. [They're called dinosaurs. Sure, Hitchcock could have called his movie The Evil Flying Creatures Who Swoop out of the Sky and Attack Humans, but he decided the more subtle The Birds would be preferable--a decision that probably cost fifty million in box office receipts, but that's not the point.] He shares his magical world with two unlikely friends he rescues, [Rescues from what?] and they vow to protect the secret of their forest friends.

When a power-hungry fox secretly transforms thousands of animals with his prehistoric DNA into his allies to rule the forest, Joshua must find a way to save his captured friends [He just rescued them one sentence ago and they've already been captured? If someone I rescued was that careless, I'd just say, Screw you, and worry about my own safety.] and stop the fox. He rallies his comrades to raise their own army and build an arsenal of weapons to defend themselves in the battle of their lives.

When Joshua leads his friends in bloody war against the evil animal hoard [horde] he is struck down near death, and it is up to his friends to save him. [Usually when you reach the climax of the book, it's the main character doing the rescuing, not getting rescued.]

I am seeking your representation for my manuscript, JOSHUA AND THE FANTASTIC FOREST, a 52,000-word middle grade adventure.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


When the kids were building an arsenal of weapons I assumed we were talking about slingshots and pea shooters. Then it turns into bloody war, near-death, battle of their lives. Do the kids have machine guns and artillery? They must, if they're going to defeat thousands of animals, unless we're talking about chipmunks and bunnies.

The title leads me to believe I should read the book to my five-year-old. That the situation devolves into bloody war leads me to believe I should wait till he's six. Maybe it should be something like Joshua and the Animal War.

Aren't you worried that kids will pull for the animals instead of Joshua in this war?

Cartoon 672

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Beginning 762

August 25th Hey everyone and happy first day of school. Hot Pink Party girl has had one busy summer. Do you realize how many guys are willing to get to second base while completely loaded? Yeah, pretty much all of them. Okay, so one turned me down and I had to listen to him yap and quote biblical scripture for twenty tortuous minutes. If that doesn't put out your fire, I don't know what does. My summer total was over thirty guys and let me tell you I've seen more little firemen (some smaller than others) in three months than I thought possible. That's all for now. Check back later. I'll be posting my review of the best party of the year. Love, Hot Pink Party Girl

I closed my laptop before the courtyard got too crowded. I'd probably have at least thirty comments in the next ten minutes because Hot Pink Party Girl fit in to nearly every crowd in this school. Me . . . not so much.

High school is just like the solar system. We all have a planet that we're stuck on. No hopping over to another environment for a few months. Even the freakin' NASA people hadn't figured out a way to put a man on Mars, so change in the structural make-up of high school wouldn't happen in the two year sentence I still had left to serve.

Until the end of last year I belonged to planet "I'd rather be drunk or high than in school." The great thing about that planet is you sweep blissfully through all the angst of teen years. But if you leave for any reason, it all hits you at once.

It all came back to me once the drugs and alcohol had fully left my system. How I spent a year with a guy I thought I was in love with. How was I supposed to know the biggest jock strap in school, Dick Richards, would turn out to be gay? Who knew I would find him hooking up with my ex-boyfriend at his mansion when all I wanted to do was surprise him with my new tattoo? In retrospect, I guess "I LOVE DICK" isn't the best thing to brand onto your face to show your endless love for a man.

Opening: Julie.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 671

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Face-Lift 787

Guess the Plot

This Changed World

1. This morning it was sunny. This afternoon, it rained. How will mankind adapt to a world where water falls from the sky?

2. Vampires Gabriel and Michael move to the little city of Oskaloosa to harvest blood from the unsuspecting--only to find their home besieged by vampire-crazed teenagers. Maybe they should have stayed at that retirement home on Key West.

3. Only forty years ago, children would walk ten miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways, work 25 hours a day and be happy. Now they're always twittering and face-blogging on the interwebs. And they're miserable. Except the ones on Prozac.

4. Raised by an all-American war hero father he could never measure up to, Bill decides to make his own mark on the world: he travels to Tibet to murder a monk who's the key to everlasting world peace.

5. At 43, Jack Skellar finds his world turned upside down. His teenaged daughter has shaved her head and his son wants a pet anteater. All becomes clear when Jack is beamed up to a UFO and told that he's going back to his home planet -- Earth!

6. Priscilla Denby time-travels from Victorian England to modern-day Manhattan and finds herself in a sex club. She's shocked by what she sees, but even more shocked to discover that she's the one lady every guy--and woman--in the place wants to hook up with.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

By the time Bill realized he should have let the boy die that day in Chengdu, Sichuan, instead of jumping in with CPR, it was too late. [For the boy was already alive.] The world changed the day he breathed life and pounded a pulse back into the still body. Natural disasters hit at an all time high. Bill's personal disasters ran a close second. The chain of calamities started when Bill interferred [interfered] and saved a life that wasn't meant to continue. [I don't see how he can make a connection between saving a life and an increase in natural disasters. It's like Evil Editor saying, "Man, there've been two floods, a tsunami, a disastrous hurricane and three earthquakes in the past decade; I never should have rejected that guy's manuscript in 1999."]

Bill decides to find the boy and when [he] does he's going to kill him. Not sure if he's crazy or right, [Traveling from the US to Tibet to murder a 14-year-old boy: crazy or right? Crazy or right? I'm just not sure.] Bill ends up face to face with the boy in Tibet where Bill is forced to rethink his decision. It's hard to murder a fourteen year old [but if it might solve your personal problems, it's worth it]. It is harder when he is a novitiate monk, lives in a temple and he could be the world's conduit to enlightenment and the peace it will bring - if you buy into the hype the kid's generated. [In other words, murdering a 14-year-old is easier if it's an eighth-grade girl who spends too much time on the phone?] The government, not fond of mass hysteria over any charismatic personality, doesn't believe the boy should live either. [But their armies have been thwarted in every attempt to murder him.] Bill's choices become much harder as he comes to know this simplistic boy. [The first rule of being a professional hitman is Don't spend a lot of time getting to know your target.]

Bill, raised in an all American home with a real war hero for a father who raised his 8 kids in his Voodoo religion, [I'm not sure I'd describe a home in which the father and eight kids practice the Voodoo religion as all-American.] [Bill could have saved a lot of trouble by staying home and sticking pins in a Tibetan monk doll.] has a few things to learn about the circle of life from the youngster he came to kill. [The circle of life? Isn't that where the lion eats the wildebeest and the lion dies and the insects eat the lion and the bird eats the insects and the crocodile eats the bird and the . . . wildebeest eats the crocodile? Wait, where'd I go wrong?]

This Changed World is complete at 60,000 words and I'm seeking representation.

Thank you for the time you took reading my query.



We need to know why, out of the billions of things that happened right before the disasters started, Bill knows that his CPR incident is the one that's responsible.

Leave the Voodoo out of the query. It makes the story sound even nuttier.

So your novel attempts to solve the age-old moral dilemma: Is it better to have world peace with frequent natural disasters, or to be at war with occasional natural disasters?

Cartoon 670

Caption: Marissa Doyle

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Beginning 761

We don't actually take our clothes off.

I'm not saying it's never happened, I mean, you know, there's been once or twice when a girl's had a few too many brandies from that special bottle Mirabelle keeps behind the bar. But that could happen anywhere.

Shadowlife has been here since Paloma was a Spanish fishing village with just a couple of beach restaurants for the tourists. The day I turned 18, I walked in looking for a job. I told Mirabelle I was new to the Costa but this old bloke drinking whisky in the dark piped up with the truth.

"That's Big Jim's girl," he said.

There was no use in denying it; if you asked around the place, you'd hear about my dad pretty quickly. He ripped off half the coast before he slipped away in the middle of the night, leaving us behind. My mamá still has a photo of him on the wall, half-grin on his face, winking at the camera. Mamá says he was a charmer. She never found anyone else. All my life, she’s been telling me never to risk happiness on a man, making me promise not to turn out like him and break her heart.

Well Mamá could talk. She was quite the little heartbreaker herself in her day. So which was it to be? Turn out like Big Jim, or turn out like--

"Yeah. Gotcha. What about that place, over there. Do the girls there take their clothes off?"

Brennans? They take everything off. Nothing left to the imagination there. If I was working
there Mamá would kill--

"Think I'm gonna go to Brennans. Thanks for asking, though."

Opening: Sylvia.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 669

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Face-Lift 786

Guess the Plot

The Crystal Throne

1. The Crystal Throne has stood empty for years, and the Gwillillylanders are looking for its rightful occupant. They won't stop searching until they've had a gander at every last American high school girl with middling popularity and a funny name like "Jelissa" or "Blayke."

2. When Emily Loving and her husband Jake move to Martha's Vineyard, they know it will be a struggle to keep up with their famous neighbors, until Jake turns his rock-cutting hobby into a unique home business. When the son of a prominent politician expires of a drug overdose on top of Jake's brainchild,'The Crystal Throne', suddenly they are the talk of the nation.

3. Simeon, heir to the Crystal Throne, must choose a bride worthy of bearing the name and sons of his thousand-year-old dynasty. But his interfering mother wants him to marry Agatha, who possesses a formula for a non-streaking glass cleaner. Cleanliness ensues.

4. When Aluviae learns that she is one of the candidates to become the new goddess, she sets out for the Crystal Throne, for only the Crystal Throne can choose . . . the chosen one. Maybe she can talk the throne into choosing someone else. But suddenly all the other candidates are getting killed off. Can Aluviae protect the last other candidate, or will she be stuck being worshiped for eternity?

5. When their Queen is killed by leprechauns, the fae must find the next heir to the Crystal Throne before the evil Shamrock King seizes it. But will Barry Jones believe them when they tell him he's the heir, or will the 8th grader put them in a jar for the Science Fair?

6. Man I hate the toilets here. See through, cross and olive design, nothing can hide what they are used for. The worst part of living in the world of clear glass is the toilets: too fragile to hold my considerable bulk, making me have to semi squat which is difficult because I need new joints in both knees. So, as the Lord of the Nasty Sewer is my witness, I vow to become the Crystal Throne Nazi and rid the planet once and for all of these outdated under-reinforced see-through inventions. Someone has to bring dignity back to the downtrodden of the planet of the Crystal Throne as we have been dubbed by our American Standard planetary neighbors. So with hammer in hand off I go, beating off trolls, faeries, dragons and Mr. Clean clones to change my world.

Original Version

Dear EE,

The Goddess is dead, killed by a hostile god. A new goddess must arise before the god’s machinations blast across the world like a raging wildfire. [Save the simile for the book and tell us what the god will do.] Only the Crystal Throne can determine who will ascend. [Why should an inexperienced new goddess fare any better against the god than the Goddess did. Also, why are the new goddess and the god not capitalized, while the dead Goddess is? Unless . . . was The Goddess her superhero name?]

When a crystal glows in her hand, Aluviae, an army recruit, is horrified to discover she has been chosen as one of the few candidates. [Does everyone in the land hold a crystal? Or are special crystals delivered only to the candidates?] One of the girls is murdered [One of what girls?] and Aluviae thwarts an assassination attempt on the others. [Are all the candidates in Aluviae's army barracks? I'd think they'd be spread all over the land, making it difficult to attack or protect all of them.] Unwillingly, she sets out for the Crystal Throne, vowing she will keep the other girls alive in the hope that one of them will be chosen instead of her. [Here's the way I see it. If she keeps her vow, keeps the other candidates alive, she will have proven she deserves to be the Goddess. So her best strategy is to break her vow, letting most of them die and proving herself unreliable and unworthy.]

Nothing goes to plan. An old adversary is part of the escort. Safe havens are under siege. Hunted by the god’s disciples, Aluviae is hard pressed just to keep herself alive as, one by one, the other candidates fall to ambush, treachery and war. [This is going perfectly. No way will the Crystal Throne choose Aluviae now.] [If the candidates are all killed, won't the Crystal Throne just nominate a new batch of candidates?]

When only one other girl still survives, two refugees and an intriguing stranger with a secret past may be the key to saving Aluviae from a destiny she fears. [I wasn't going to request this, but now that you've mentioned an intriguing stranger with a secret past, I simply must read the entire book to find out who it is and what the secret is.]

The Crystal Throne, a YA heroic fantasy, is complete at 90,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Is making it to the Crystal Throne a test to see who's worthy of being The Goddess? Or is it normally just a leisurely trip?

So, when the candidates get to the Crystal Throne, they all sit on it and then it chooses the one who makes the best impression?

We need to know what's at stake. The god wants to destroy all or rule like a tyrant, but if the right candidate makes it to the Crystal Throne and ascends to Goddesshood, the god will slink away and all will be well?

Cartoon 668

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Film Series

Triple Feature!

The task was to write a screenplay, given a series of photographs.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Face-Lift 785

Guess the Plot

Born to Die

1. The most cynical retelling of the life of Christ ever.

2. Rock legend Jimmy Owen has led a remarkable life full of money, power and intense drug fueled orgies . But here we look only at his unremarkable birth and untimely death from a bowel obstruction.

3. Sentenced to die in a concentration camp run by magicians, 16-year old Nayla escapes and joins an underground group seeking a plan to defeat the oppressors. When Nayla suggests attacking them with guns, she lifts the spirits of the citizenry and changes the course of history.

4. I want to live/I want to fly/But all I am is/Born to die. The cliched poem left in a pink notebook on the bus intrigues struggling singer Barry. Setting it to music, he soon has a hot record. But can he find the original writer--and will she be who--or what--he hopes?

5. Min Ki, the last mortal, searches for a storied fountain that will grant eternal life and let her live with her tribe of immortals forever. But her plans are complicated when she meets and falls in love with Xie, a young man on a quest to become mortal.

6. Phillip was born with a curse on his head: everyone around him dies horribly. When the government finds out, they stuff him in a uniform and send him overseas to be captured by enemy troops. Hilarity ensues.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Nayla Ebriony [Anagram: brainy alien] is a sixteen-year-old Yeeod [Anagram: yodelayheehoo], born without magical powers, and sent to the concentration camps where the powerless are worked to death. [When they were deciding what to call anagrams, shouldn't they have come up with a word that actually had an anagram?] [Is it worth the cost of keeping a girl alive for sixteen years if your plan is to then work her to death?]

Her hair is shaved off and the brand of the powerless Yeeods is burned into her scalp. [Shouldn't they brand her somewhere it'll be visible after her hair grows back? If she somehow manages to escape, the only way to find her is to shave everyone's head.] Determined to save herself from forever losing her identity and sanity, Nayla manages to escape after being drugged, beaten and forced to work in the coal mines. [A sixteen-year-old girl wouldn't last a day in a coal mine. For one thing, there's no cell phone reception down there.] Presumed dead by her captors,

[Concentration camp guard: Lois Smith?
Lois: Here.
Concentration camp guard: Jane Martin?
Jane: Here.
Concentration camp guard: Nayla Ebriony? . . . Nayla Ebriony? . . . Hmm, must be dead. Mary Jones?]

Nayla has a choice: run or turn back and bite the hand that hit her. [Creating a new idiom out of an old one doesn't work. Go with the tried and true: "Settle the score." Or (thank you "Pluck the crow" or "Pickle the rod."]

Choosing the tougher path, Nayla joins the Liberators, an underground society preparing for war against the government. She earns respect in the male dominated rebel clan, when she presents a plan that they believe will topple the magicians' regime. Pitting stolen assault rifles and hand grenades against the power of magic, [A male-dominated army needs a sixteen-year-old girl to suggest using guns and grenades to win a war?] Nayla and the rebels declare war on the place they once called home. [Proper etiquette requires that even an underground rebel group taking on evil slavers actually declare war before engaging in battle.] Nayla knows this might turn into a suicide mission, but as she lifts the spirits and the sympathy of regular magical citizens, even the magicians start to fear the uprising that will change the course of history. [Until they remember that they're magicians and turn everyone except themselves into daisies.]

BORN TO DIE is a fast-paced, 90,000 word YA Urban Fantasy novel. Thank you for your time and your consideration.


Why don't the magicians just kill the Yeeods and use magic to create coal? Powerful magicians must have something better to do than run concentration camps.

Try reducing everything before Nayla joins the Liberators to two sentences, leaving more room for Nayla's plan and how things go in the war. Something like: Drugged, beaten and forced to work in the coal mines, 16-year old Nayla Ebriony escapes the evil magicians who rule Yaya IV. She joins the Liberators and pickles the rod.

Cartoon 667

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Beginning 760

The sky vanished. Borne on the backs of ravenous winds, the sands raged, swallowing the infinite, cloudless blue. With its demise failed the sun, the day reduced to unseemly dusk. A howl tore through the desert, and the ground shook and groaned in protest.

Caught in the heart of the storm's onslaught were two figures. Indistinguishable in their roan hoods and cloaks, clutched jealously to themselves lest the furious gales snatch their protective gear from their bodies and leave them naked to the harshest of nature’s whims, they trudged onwards, struggling to stay afoot, fighting to stay alive.

Ankle-deep in the shifting, sinking sand, the first of the two travelers, a Priestess, led the way. Her stride was clumsy, encumbered by the sand that weighed her feet down, and yet filled with unshakable purpose, a firm resolve that was marred only by the slightest hint of desperation in her eyes. The second, a Wizard, lagged behind a short distance.

"We're not going to find it in this storm!" he shouted to the woman in front of him. His voice was coarse, raw from too much yelling to be heard over the din.

The Priestess neither halted nor turned.

"Well say something," the Wizard implored.

She did not even break her stride.

"Okay, okay," he screamed, the sand scratching at his throat. "You win. I'll ask the next person we see."

Opening: Michael C. Logarta.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 666

Caption: Khazar-khum

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Face-Lift 784

Guess the Plot

One Man's Treasure

1. An archaelology professor desperate for tenure. A son trying to pay his father's debt to international arms dealers. A monk on a mission from God. Everyone wants to get his hands on St. Peter's beard comb.

2. A sweeping, generational tale that begins with one man and a metal detector on a lonely, wind-swept beach and ends with a four page sentence that can't fail to impress the Booker committee.

3. Systems analyst David Schultz can't believe his luck when he meets beautiful nurse Jenny Heart. But Jenny doesn't understand David's intense love of Star Wars memorabilia and insists he sell his entire collection on eBay. Is getting a real girlfriend worth . . . One Man's Treasure?

4. One man's trash is another man's treasure, or so the saying goes. Ted thinks he's in luck when he finds incriminating photos in a Hollywood mogul's trashcan, but the newspapers aren't the only ones who are interested.

5. One man's treasure is another man's trash, or so the saying goes. But when the existence of an entire planet depends on that treasure, it's trash to no man. Well, except maybe men from another planet. Who, naturally, will stop at nothing to get it, even if it turns out to be trash.

6. When the town of Nutville closes the local dump and opens a waste transfer station, "One Man" Dooley is caught breaking in after hours in defiance of regulations protecting other men's trash.

7. Desmond ignores warnings that it's dangerous to keep hoarding newspapers, tin cans, and lumber. Because when the sheer mass of his condemned house warps time and space around it, he'll be able to travel into a neighboring dimension -- he'll show them -- he'll show them all!

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

I am seeking representation for my science fiction novel, One Man’s Treasure [That's a rather pessimistic title to give your novel.] (80,000 words).

Spacers visit Arrax’s world every few years. They stay long enough to reprovision their ships with essentials like water, [liquor and women,] and then move on.

This time the spacers are back early. This time they’re searching for treasure.

For Arrax, the local leader, their reappearance couldn’t have come at a worse time. Salle, the head of his spy network, has just been murdered. He himself is weakened by poison meant for Salle.

[Arrax: I've been poisoned! Where's the cook?
Cook: You've been poisoned? Shit, I meant to poison the head of your spy network.
Arrax: Well, next time be more careful.]

Not only that, the woman he and Salle defeated fifteen years ago has returned, and seems determined to resume the wars she started back then. [One woman started multiple wars? What does it take to start a war in this place, eye contact?]

Treasure hunting spacers are the last thing he needs, especially not ones looking for Callan’s fabled treasure. [Who's Callan? You need to tell us what Callan's fabled treasure is. If for no other reason than it's hard to write the true Guess the Plot without knowing what it is that's motivating all the characters.] [Also, do the spacers have a treasure map? Because searching an entire world for a specific treasure seems hopeless.] Because one man’s treasure is not necessarily another’s, and Arrax knows that if the spacers find what they are looking for he and his people are doomed.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


You've described the situation that exists on Arrax's world when the spacers show up. That's all backstory. Your main plot is what happens after the spacers show up. We want to know some of that.

It seems odd, if Arrax got the poison intended for Salle, that Arrax lived and Salle died. Was everyone trying to murder Salle?

Without knowing what the treasure is, we fail to appreciate the urgency of stopping the spacers from finding it. Telling us they're doomed isn't enough, especially as we don't even know if they're good guys or villains. Can you say something that makes us care about Arrax and his people, and tells us what's at stake?

Cartoon 665

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Beginning 759

Even in space, some neighbourhoods are better than others.

A neighbourhood, called a drift because, well, it drifts in space, might appear anywhere a stable wormhole is found. The stream of guaranteed interstellar traffic brings out innkeepers, traders, quantum-drive mechanics and the usual hangers-on at any port town: smugglers, gamblers, good-time girls. Agglomerate Drifts are the flotsam of the galaxy in both building materials and population, aggregating wherever there’s a potential profit and eaten away over time by corruption, meteorites and solar storms. Conglomerate drifts, on the other hand, are created by mega-corps as tidy flotillas of model ships, not all the same model but with every line and sail – and citizen – purpose-built for the locale.

Working security on a Conglomerate-built drift is like being a traffic warden in any gated community: you spend your days petting the dogs and smiling at the nice ladies (Pyretia has some very nice ladies). So it was unusual to hear one morning of a body bobbing against a tony porthole high up on Canton C-7. A human body, not some stray hunk of celestial rock from the asteroid belt.

See that's the other thing with working security. A rent-a-cop's just one step up from janitor, and it's left to me to keep the place looking neat and dispose of the garbage.

* * *

"How're you doing, Mrs. Munkin?" She's a particularly nice resident of the drift, and not too stuck up to shoot the proverbial with the staff. Especially since her husband left her. Security gets to know these things.

"Same old, same old," she told me and smiled those pearly whites of hers.

"Hey little fella," I said, kneeling down to pat her little terrier. "I got something here for you..."

"Oh my, wherever did you get that? You're always so nice to my little Rocky," she said. "Not like..."

"No worries, Mrs. M. I love this little fella." And if all goes according to plan, Rocky won't be the only one getting a big, meaty bone today...

Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 664

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Face-Lift 783

Guess the Plot

A Tale of Youth and Sorrow

1. Behind the bars: wailing and weeping. Outside: the holy object lies alone, unreachable. Will any hero rise and save the day? Who will come and reunite Sammy with his blankie?

2. Like, this one time, my parents go, "Clean your room," when i already had, like, way too much homework, dude. Life can be so unfair.

3. Jack Sorrow, New York's toughest homicide detective, quickly learns that today's kids are even more dangerous than he thought when his partner is found murdered at a tough inner city Kindergarten.

4. When 12-year-old Minette Bublee finds evidence that her boozing, potty-mouthed, ill-tempered guardian is a minion of the demon Belphelial, she unwittingly opens a door into an arcane realm where past and present intertwine and a confrontation with a grim remnant of her world's tumultuous history transforms a young woman into a monster.

5. The son of a fallen politician, eighteen-year-old Devon joined the police force to help restore the family name. But as he becomes entangled in corruption, a dangerous affair, and an unsolvable sex slavery case, he careens toward his own fall from grace. Also, an incorrigible cat.

6. When fairy tales become classics, their characters get immortality instead of a slow, fading death. Can Princess Ytira convince her wicked stepmother and bumbling godmother to work together long enough to make their shambles of a story memorable?

Original Version

Dear Agent X:

Twelve-year-old orphan and Potioneer girl Minette Bublee knows next to nothing about the Rogue, Ilona Njis; the boozing, potty-mouthed, ill-tempered master thief who, strangely enough, has been her guardian for the past two years. Then comes the shocking revelation: that Ilona is a murderer, and possibly linked to Belphelial, a restless demon rumored to have broken free from the bonds of his ancient prison. [That's more than enough info for one paragraph. Start a new one here.] [But first let's cut it back to what's essential. Do we need to know Minette is a Potioneer girl? I have to guess what that means, and then I have to consult Google to make sure I'm right, which I don't feel like doing in the first line of a query. Turns out it's pretty much what it sounds like, but that it's not capitalized unless it's part of the title Master Potioneer. No way do you become a Master Potioneer at the age of 12. Also, if this wasn't a word before Harry Potter, I'm not sure it's suddenly become one. Belphelial is "rumored to have broken free"? You've read the whole book; did he break free or not? We don't need to know about rumors that prove false. You tell us Minette knows next to nothing about Ilona, and immediately reel off a list of things Minette knows about Ilona. Why is "Rogue" capitalized? Is it Ilona's superhero name? There's already a superhero named Rogue. Okay, so what have we got? Two years after the death of her parents, Minette Bublee learns that her ill-tempered guardian Ilona is a murderer--and possibly a minion of the demon Belphelial.] Torn between escape and saving her only friend [With friends like a boozing, potty-mouthed, ill-tempered murderer, who needs enemies?] from spiraling further into self-destruction, Minette unwittingly opens a door into an arcane realm, where past and present intertwine, and a confrontation with a grim remnant of their world's tumultuous history [I need a glass of bubbly.] transforms a young woman into a monster. [Is the young woman Ilona or Minette? I don't consider 12-year-olds women.] [That sounds impressive, like you were writing the script for a movie trailer. Unfortunately, it's vague. I'd keep: As she tries to stop Ilona from spiraling further into self-destruction, Minette unwittingly opens a door into an arcane realm where past and present intertwine. Now we're down to two sentences of back story. Put them together as your first paragraph and you have plenty of room to give us specifics about your story, which starts when Minette enters the arcane world. What does she do? Start whipping up potions? Is her goal to save Ilona? Defeat Beelzebub? Get home? Save the world? What's she got going for her that gives her the slightest chance of doing any of this?] With the ghosts of their yesteryears threatening to tear them apart, Minette will voyage through time to learn one of life's greatest lessons, and unlock the secrets of a power greater than any magic. [That's a good last sentence if it follows some specifics about the story. Here it's just more vagueness.]

I am seeking representation for A Tale of Youth and Sorrow, my 53,400-word young adult fantasy novel. [That title sounds more like Anne Frank's bio than wizard kid vs. demon.] I am querying you because of your interest in this particular genre.

Five of my short stories were published in Malate Literary Folio (De La Salle University, Philippines) between 1997 and 2002, one of which won second place in my university's 1999 Literary Awards. [Leave this out. Everyone knows that all Philippines award ceremonies are fixed.] A member of, I received the 2007 WDC Wonderfuls Award for outstanding writing. [Leave this out, and suggest to WDC that they come up with a better name for their awards.] In my most recent job, I was a game writer tasked with the detailed write-ups of characters, settings, and stories for games. [Leave this out; it's a deal killer.] I am currently residing in the Philippines.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely yours,


With a 12-year-old main character, you're looking at readers who may be 10. You might want to show in the query that you can write for this audience by using less-complex sentences.

There's nothing in the query about what happens in the book, except a door gets opened to some realm and there's some time travel to . . . some other time.

Cartoon 663

Caption: Anon.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer School Teacher 1

EE: Welcome to summer school. I'm Evil Editor, and I'll be running this classroom. You are here either because you're lazy or stupid or punks. Which means your chances of passing this course are nil. As it would be silly of me to waste ten weeks trying to teach you to write--knowing you won't listen to a word I say and will flunk anyway--I propose a deal: I use the class time to clear my slush pile, and you use it to read comic books or pornography and I'll give all of you D's.

Class (speaking in unison): We got a better idea. You read the comics and porn, we'll clear the slush, and you give all of us A's.

EE: Your reading skills may be lacking, but you're masters at reading human nature. Deal.

--Evil Editor

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Film Series

This film is also available on YouTube where it may be viewed in a larger format.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Face-Lift 782

Guess the Plot

Jesus, Mo and Cheese Puffs

1. Jesus is a Puerto Rican immigrant living in New York. Mo is his neighbor and drinking buddy. Together they have a dream to transform the snack food industry.

2. Mo and his wife Flo pack the car with Cheese Puffs and head for sunny California so Flo can get plastic surgery from a TV doctor. Along the way they meet Angel, a homeless woman who tells them about Jesus. Will Angel renew their faith, or will they give her some Cheese Puffs and tell her to get lost?

3. Jesus and Mo are middle grade Vampyres without a care in the world . . . until their school cafeteria, trying to meet strict new healthy lunch regulations, adds garlic to the Cheese Puffs. Hilarity ensues.

4. Being Jesus means you can hate but you can't show it. Mo is God's relative but God smat him and threw him into the cheese puffs. Jesus goes back to woodworking, which he likes very much. The puffs, 12 of them, wander the desert until it rains. They melt, Jesus stays a carpenter and Mo becomes Moses.

5. Mo smokes one bowl too many, sending him on an epic crusade for Cheese Puffs. When he opens the bag of cheesy airy goodness and discovers a puff in the likeness of Christ the Savior, a moral dilemma ensues as he considers whether to sell it on eBay.

6. When Jesus Christ appears at Mo's door seeking a bed for the night, Mo is only too happy to oblige. If this doesn't get him into heaven, nothing will. But Mo regrets his hospitality the next morning when he wakes to find Jesus gone and the entire bag of Cheese Puffs eaten.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Flo Brown wins $40,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket it’s vanity that propels her to agree to a cross country trip with her husband Mo. [If it's Mo's idea to take the trip, one wonders if it's Mo who's the vain one.] In no time at all, Flo packs, and is ready to go. She and Mo plan to drive from Indiana to California so she can have one of those “TV doctors" do plastic surgery on her mangled eye. It’s with this premise in mind that she and Mo pile in the car along with extra bags of cheese puffs. [Be specific: Is she looking to hire Dr. Taub on House, or the doctors on Nip & Tuck? Are they packing regular cheese puffs or the crunchy kind?]

From the get-go, their trip is anything but ordinary. Their first stop is at a bitty gas station where the clerk directs them to a favored diner. There they meet a young family with twin toddlers and a broken-down car. Mo, having been a mechanic in Vietnam offers to help. Flo goes with Kendy, the mother of the twins and her toddlers [The twins are the toddlers. Just say Flo goes with Kendy and her kids to the park. ] to the park. What Flo doesn’t know is Kendy is Mo’s granddaughter, but at this point, neither Flo nor Mo knows she exists. [So far you haven't backed up the claim that the trip is anything but ordinary. The granddaughter bit is unusual (in fact, it sounds like a one in a trillion chance), but no one knows it, and it's never mentioned again. Gas station, diner, park? Very ordinary.]

As they make their way across the highways and byways, they stumble upon a variety of situations and people that continue to stretch them in ways they couldn’t predict.

The novel weaves together both touching and funny moments. A young boy, Joey, lives with his grandparents. His mother still hasn’t come home, and it’s been six months. Joey is a Boy Scout, and when Flo and Mo hear about someone stealing their money from the plant sale, Mo agrees to help Joey’s grandpa build chicken and rabbit cages to sell instead. Joey is happy that Flo visited with his grandmother and made her smile. He tells Flo he was scared because his grandma seemed so sad lately and he feared she might want to leave too. [Touching and funny moments may work in the novel, but in the query they're boring. Normally I tell writers to be specific, but if your best specifics are diners and plant sales and chicken cages, I recommend being general until you get to the important stuff.]

In Hooker, Oklahoma, [the most popular truck stop on the Interstate,] they stumble into [Two stumbles are at least one to many.] a wake when all they wanted to do was stop at the store and buy needle and thread. The spirited shop owner, Lettie Jean, eventually lets on that the wake isn’t for a person but High Henry, a Clydesdale horse who held the honor of uniting a town.

They meet a homeless couple at the farmer market in Pasadena, Angel and Jostlin’ Jack. Flo is appalled at their hardscrabble life, but Angel assures Flo she’s happy. Angel teaches Flo about trust, faith and how to “wear the world like a loose garment.” Flo runs into Angel again at a church, and it’s after this meeting Flo wonders if Angel might actually be a real angel.

Mo and Flo discover that the trip has changed them in ways they never imagined. Flo accepts her struggle with vanity and realizes the only limitations she has are the ones she puts on herself. Mo lets go of his bitterness toward Flo's God and makes peace with losing their only son, Jimmy, who died at seventeen from complications of Down's Syndrome.

Complete at 52,000 words, the novel is available for immediate review. This is the fourth book I have written; the first three are full-length women's commercial fiction novels. I am an RN, but also have a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. I am a member of RWA and ACFW. I would appreciate your consideration for representation. [We don't need to know about books you've written that weren't published, or about your education.]


I can see vanity being behind getting a face lift or a nose job, but do you have to be vain to get surgery on a mangled eye?

There's too much detail for a query. It should fit on one page. It also feels like a list of things that happen. Start with something like:

When Flo Brown wins $40,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket, it’s vanity that propels her on a cross country trip with her husband Mo. She and Mo plan to drive from Indiana to California so she can have one of those “TV doctors" do plastic surgery on her mangled eye. As they make their way across the west, they stop now and then to help strangers in need, never realizing what a positive impact they're having.

Then skip down to the homeless couple, which is where your real story begins.

Usually when people are traveling cross-country they zip off the highway, gas up, grab some food, and hit the road. It seems odd that Mo and Flo meet and interact with so many people. Also, is Pasadena their destination? I assumed LA/Hollywood, but if it's one of those, stopping off in Pasadena seems odd, when it's fifteen minutes from their final destination.

Mo: Finally, after three days, we're almost there. Ten more miles.

Flo: Pull over at the next exit. I wanna go to a farmers market and talk to some homeless people.

If it's intended for the Christian book market, say so.

Cartoon 662

Caption: Stacy

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Beginning 758

Mr. Bimble swiftly strode up the mountain trail in gigantic steps. He swung his walking stick about as if he was a super hero massive in height and long in limb. However, Mr. Bimble was nothing of the sort. To picture Mr. Bimble doing any sort of swift walking just days ago would have been a fantastic feat. For Mr. Bimble was a stout, round fellow with legs low to the ground that bowed out and a belly that confidently swung to and fro when just shuffling along. His arms were so short that often it was exasperating for him just to reach an itch on the back of his wrinkled, flabby neck.

But today he seemed like a giant of the wood. He hiked powerfully along as his large belly bounced with vigor and his arms flew up and down propelling him on a blanket of pine needles. His green eyes sparkled in the dappled sunlight and a slight grin settled on his round face as he climbed higher up the mountain.

* * *

Catherine looked over her husband's shoulder and let out an enormous "tut".

"Mister Bimble?" she exclaimed. "Why do you waste your time writing such nonsense when there are mouths to feed? You are, by far, the worst husband a woman could receive. Do something worthwhile with your talents, for pity's sake."

Charlie tore the page away, crumpled it, and tossed it to the bin. He dipped his pen and began to scratch furiously: "
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Opening: Donna Galanti.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 661

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Face-Lift 781

Guess the Plot

One Fang and Silver Dagger

1. Harvey Jones has seen it all: fights, murders, sex, love gone bad. But that's pretty much what you get when you run a bar that caters to vampires and werewolves. Also, a silver dagger.

2. Can't a girl catch a break? It was bad enough getting murdered and waking up as a vampire. But now someone's ripped out one of Hannah's fangs and transported her back in time to medieval days where a hunky knight in shining armor is all that stands between her and an ancient bloodsucker who wants to make her his mindless slave.

3. Ever wonder about the faceless monsters who inhabit fantasy novels with the sole purpose of being hacked to death or fireballed in elaborate battle scenes? One Fang and Silver Dagger are two kobolds trying to scrape out a living while avoiding dashing brigands, questing heirs and apprentice wizards.

4. Bensimon is a failure as a vampire--so bad Dracula broke off one of his fangs. Now he has to use a little silver dagger to feed. Trouble is, he gave it to Missy Stevens as a love token, and now she's dating hunky Jayden Saunders and won't return his calls. Does he swallow what's left of his pride and ask Dracula for help--or should he talk to Mr. Cobbs, the werewolf who teaches art?

5. Mikhail is humiliated when a broken fang sends him to Madeleine Schickelgruber, vampire dentist extraordinaire, for an implant. Madeleine thinks she's come up with an innovative new treatment...but then Mikhail comes around from the anesthesia and reminds her how vampires feel about silver. Malpractice suits ensue.

6. The trouble with being a thousand year old vampire is that while the flesh may not decay, the teeth do. One Fang lost part of his impressive dentition (and his heart) to a California political goddess with hardening of the arteries. Can One Fang win back "Silver Dagger" (so called for her elegant mastery of the subtle art of backstabbing) with only a lopsided grin and the ability to confer everlasting life?

Original Version

Dear EE,

Fate, once it gets you in its clutches, isn’t partial to happy endings. At least, not in Hannah’s case.

It was bad enough straying into the wrong London street [I once strayed into the wrong London street. I got talked into a Soho strip club. Cost me ten pounds to get in, and 200 pounds and my credit cards to get out alive. Which I wouldn't have minded so much if the "strippers" had actually shown anything. But enough about me.] and worse waking in the family vault. When she cut her lip with her teeth, [I hate it when I do that. Also when I bite my tongue. But the worst is when I bite the inside of my cheek, because if I bite it once, it swells up and I keep biting it. I suppose it would be even worse if I were a vampire or a werewolf. But enough about me.] and realized what she’d become, she’d [she] almost lost her mind. For five long years she fought to live a decent life and keep to a moral code, despite the blood lust. And then, Fate delivered another blow. [Put those last two or three sentences in present tense.]

One of her fangs is ripped from her gum [I had some teeth extracted once, because my mouth is too small. It's the size of a squirrel's mouth.] and she finds herself clinging to her assailant as the moon spins backwards across the sky. The familiar cobbled lanes of Tudor London are replaced by grassy fields and a rough dirt road – and not a soul in sight. The first traveler she meets is a parody of an etching in her childhood history book – a shining knight in tattered clothes. [When you come down to it, we're all parodies of etchings.] But he’s wary and strong, and before she can figure out how to get past the chain mail collar to sink her remaining fang into his neck, her problems worsen. [If he's wearing armor, how does she know his clothes are tattered?]

Trapped in a medieval world, hunted by an ancient vampyre and his vile kin, she must find a way to return to her own time [What is her own time? I can't tell if it's our time or the time of the Tudors.] before she’s turned into a mindless slave – or worse. The young knight could be the only one to save her but he isn’t what he pretends to be [What is he pretending to be? A knight?] and has troubles of his own. [For one thing, he needs to go to the bathroom, but his armor is rusted shut.] Their only chance of survival is find a way to work together – as long as they don’t kill each other first. [Is there a reason they'd want to kill each other? Or do they just have a stormy tempestuous relationship like Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd did on Moonlighting?]

One Fang and Silver Dagger is complete at 85,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


I don't see why the ancient vampire doesn't just turn a human into a vampire/mindless slave instead of insisting on Hannah. She wasn't even there a day ago, but now he has to have her as a slave?

I don't see how Hannah can find a way back to her own time. Where would she even look?

The title sounds weird. What's the silver dagger part?

It's not terrible, but that last plot paragraph could be more specific. The goal is to get home, but what's the plan? Does the knight figure in getting Hannah home?