Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Beginning 810

Once two horses pulled the Plough, and the ploughboy stumbled behind over clods and lumps of meteor, but now only the patient gelding walks the furrows of night, and both the boy and his mare are gone.

This is how it happened.

The boy goaded the mare once too often, perhaps, or maybe a shooting star stung her hindquarters, but in any case, one night, with the Plough wheeling over Lincolnshire and the land far below huddled under snow and ice, she stopped hauling the Plough, and turned her head over her shoulder.

"Get up," the boy said. He leaned into the frame, one hand gripping the lash tighter. His gaze took in the mare's broad, sweaty back.

"Why?" said the mare.

The gelding nipped her shoulder. "We must."

Ears back, she said, again, "Why?"

"The humans." The gelding glanced back toward the boy. "The humans will be angry."

"In the name of Pegasus!" the mare said. "Look at the size of us compared to the size of them! For pity's sake, grow a pair, would you?"

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 786

Caption: ril

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Face-Lift 845

To Have a Revolution

1. Or not to have one -- that is the question for Ingrid Paddington, college freshman. She has terrifying quantities of homework due soon, but the world is in an awful state and her new boyfriend makes revolution sound like the best time ever.

2. One man's valiant attempt to conjugate a verb: I have a revolution, you have a revolution, he/she/it has a revolution...

3. In order to get medicine that will slow his sister's zombification, Ion agrees to help Nadia and her team of Romanian revolutionaries by killing the government's dragon. But what Ion doesn't know (because Nadia "forgot" to mention it) is that killing the dragon may zombify him.

4. First, you need a motivated populace (or friends like Joey and Vik). Next, a way to throw off the secret police (easy - your tattle-tale brother has the hots for easily bribed Missy Smith). Last, a decoder ring - but the despised leader has banned Cracker Jack, so we're stuck.

5. It’s not the king's fault an earthquake left most of his people homeless and hungry. Or that his son gambled away the emergency fund. Or that his queen insists that fabulous-looking royalty keeps morale up. Or that his daughter’s lavish coming-of-age party was planned months ago, and canceling would break her heart. So why are the peasants sharpening the guillotine blade?

6. Emo twins Jared and Jason are convinced that being 15 in Mountain View is the worst possible fate. To destroy the hopelessness of the Silicon Valley, they foment a revolution at elite Berkeley Academy. Only one problem--the teachers are more into the revolution thing than the kids.

Original Version

Dear EE & Minions,

In an alternate communist Romania filled with dangerous magic, a magically gifted youth must use the abilities he fears to overthrow the government--and the power secretly controlling it.

Over the past few months, Ion Popescu has watched his sister begin to transform into a strigoi, the zombie-like creatures that people become when they use magic objects. [Watch me pull a rabbit out of my ha-- Braaaiiinns!] Ion can’t stop the transformation, but he can delay the inevitable. Determined to prolong her human life as long as possible, he seeks out black market contacts who will give him medicine to slow the transformation in exchange for magic talismans. But although he trades talismans, he wouldn’t dream of using them. [Why would anyone use them? Is there any advantage to becoming a strigoi?] [Is that pronounced strig oy or strig wah? The good thing about just calling them zombies is that everyone knows how to pronounce zombie.] So why do his market contacts, his best friend, and a mysterious girl all suddenly seem to think he’s using the talismans himself? [Possibly because he's now buying underwear in extra large.]

The mysterious girl is Nadia Luca, a member of a conspiracy of revolutionaries plotting to overthrow the government. She believes that Ion has skill, an innate magic ability that enables him to use some talismans safely. She’s been looking for someone like Ion: someone with enough skill to use the talisman weapon the revolutionaries have acquired. The weapon is strong enough to kill the dragon that the government is secretly using to transform and control the strigoi army--thus overthrowing the government, freeing the strigoi, and stopping the transformations for good. But what Nadia doesn’t tell Ion is that the revolutionaries have their own plans for the strigoi army. She also doesn’t tell him that even with his skill, using the talisman weapon could very well mean Ion will end up as part of the strigoi army himself. [That's it? What about Dracula? You've set the novel in Romania and Dracula's not in it? That's like setting your novel in Gotham City and not including Batman. You have a zombie army instead of a vampire army? Is that what the revolutionaries want the zombie army for? To take on Dracula's vampire army? If so, may I suggest a title change? Zombies VS. Vampires: War of the Undead.]

To Have a Revolution is a fantasy novel set in an alternate version of 1989 Romania and complete at 75,000 words.

I am a freelance writer and have published nonfiction articles in various print and online magazines. I lived in Romania for a year in 2004 and am proficient in Romanian. This is my first novel.

Thanks for your time and consideration.



You start by saying people transform into zombie-like creatures when they use magic objects. This suggests that it's common knowledge that using magic zombiates you. But at the end you make the point that Nadia didn't tell Ion that he might zombiate if he used their magic talisman. Shouldn't he know this without being told?

Nadia is the one who believes Ion has an innate ability to use magic without zombing. If Ion believed that, he wouldn't be so afraid of using magic. Yet at the end, it seems Ion is willing to use magic, while Nadia has decided Ion might zomb. They've both changed their positions?

I can see Nadia changing her position if she discovers she was wrong about Ion having used talismans, but Ion? If Ion's sister is zombomorphing, I would think it would be doubly hard to convince him that he has an innate ability to not zombomorph, as "innate" means inherited, congenital.

The question of why everyone suddenly thinks Ion is using talismans is worth answering in the query, as it seems to explain why Ion is in demand.

Cartoon 785

Caption: John

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Feature 15

The 1st Ever Witch Guess the Plot Quiz

Witches have made numerous appearances in fake plots over the years, but five of the following were the actual plots of minions' novels. Witch Which five?

1. Lucia is never going to get her cookbook entry completed in time - without a chrono-spell. Is a Betty Crocker Bake-Off Award worth destroying the fabric of time?

2. What starts as an itchy back turns into two wings, and Rose Nesbit's dream of becoming a witch disappears. Instead of casting the spells, she's running - or rather flying – away from them.

3. Black-hatted, wart-chinned Esmeralda Grue was shunned by everybody...until her recipe for Buffalo Wings appeared in Gourmet magazine. Now everyone's angling for an invitation to her Super Bowl party, but Esmeralda's out for revenge.

4. Thanks to a centuries-old curse, if literature teacher Fortessa Stein doesn't find a husband within six weeks, she'll have to marry a man chosen by a guy named Milt.

5. When pilot Andy Martin, guest speaker at the annual witches convention, suggests that wings are more efficient than broomsticks, he soon finds himself tossed into a cauldron of boiling brew.

6. As an ex-nun on the run, there are two choices for Jayne deWynter in the warren of dark alleys that make up the Black Heart district. She decides being a black witch in training is too reminiscent of the Church, while being a pole dancing stripper at least has shorter work hours.

7. Enid Whiffleton was the sorriest teenager in Littleville until she ate a basketful of calendula blossoms and acquired magical powers of canine bewitchment. Now she's the proud owner of the Twelve Dog Flying Trapeze Circus. But will she complete her destiny by finding love in the arms of her arch-rival, lion-tamer Thor Jones?

8. Bitsy Binter finds a magic book and decides to become a witch. Will her garden club friends still want her around when they see the size of her dahlias? Or will what she can do for their husbands make up for everything?

9. "My mother's coming to visit. Can't you get a decent job? Aren't those storm shutters up yet? When I think of all the men I could have married!" Mort Gumpler's wife, Pootsie, is an irritation, but she's worth six million, so he's willing to . . . Suffer the Witch.

10. Winters were long and hard, but it turns out that witches burn even longer than oak wood in the fires of Turner Hall. The villagers will survive until Spring!

11. Octavia Tizano needs only one more ingredient for her Unquenchable Love Potion: ear of twit. This would be easy if she could just travel by night and pilfer one, but it has to be a gift. And what kind of person would give away his ear?

12. Fourteen-year-old Allyson wants to die--her friends have just discovered that her Mom is a witch. Now everyone wants her to tell their fortunes. But what is she going to do when Josh Dryton, her secret crush, comes for a session?

13. When he was a kid, Don Venolia thought that all moms wore drifty scarves and muttered into crystal balls. Now he's fifteen and his medium mother is just weird - especially when she sets up her tent in the middle of the school soccer field. She says that disaster is coming, but for Don, the real disaster is his mother.

14. Ginger could be using her new-found witchcraft abilities to make 80-yard field goals for the football team; instead she has to rescue her soccer mom from the evil Ghouligans, who've kidnapped her and the other witches.

15. A seance sounds like fun, right? RIGHT? Well, not for Snotgurgle Mcflop. It's bad enough he has a mom who plays soccer, but when his mother decides to take a class on Basic Witchery, what's a troll to do? Eat her, of course!

16. Ace homicide detective Zack Martinez sneezes halfway through telling Sgt. Shamrock they need a "calendar witch" who can alter time if they ever want a day off, and presto! A magical hippie chick appears, contaminating the crime scene with flower petals and enchanted glitter dust. She is horrified to see a corpse lying there with an ice pick in his head and quickly re-animates it. Trouble ensues.

17. When her parents die in a car crash, twelve year old Mary Gold will do anything to keep her siblings from going into foster care . . . even witchcraft. But she's not very good at it, and when a love potion goes terribly wrong in the school cafeteria, hilarity ensues. Can Mary learn enough witchcraft to keep Child Services from splitting up her family?

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

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

20. When her assistant at the magical research laboratory is injured and hospitalized, Callie investigates, discovering that the hospital is a locus of pure evil. The good news is that she rescues her assistant. The bad news is that her closest friends kidnap her baby daughter. Is Callie witch enough to defeat the forces aligned against her?

21. In Rothshire Village, young girls are sent to the witches' castle when they reach puberty. Those that are found not to be witches are killed. When Gwendolyn and Heather find out they are indeed witches, they jump for joy. But their BFF Yvonne is not a witch. Can G and H pool their power to overcome the old hags who run the castle and save Yvonne?

22. Becca has always been heavy. The summer before senior year, she plans to attend Camp Weight-A-Spell, a weight-loss camp famous for its astounding success stories. What she doesn't know is that Margie, the camp's director is a witch, and her "diet shakes" are actually magic potions that quite literally melt away the pounds.

23. After setting the governor's tie on fire, Alice is sentenced to be executed. She is sent to Gallows Hill. There, a group of dead witches stalk her dreams and plot to kill her. That was one hell of a tie.

24. Wounded in battle, Steve Logan is dying when a "nurse" stanches the bleeding with a spell. Is this the beginning of a beautiful romance, or will Steve be unable to deal with the fact that his true love is a witch, sort of like Darren didn't want Sam doing magic on Bewitched?

Answers Below

The real plots are numbers
4, 14, 18, 20, 23

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010


The 1st Ever
Guess the Plot

Mermaids and mermen have appeared occasionally in fake plots over the years. But four of the plots below were the actual plots of minions' novels. Which four?

1. Kyle designed the Mermaid Virus to trail bubbles across random office monitors and to relieve boredom. But when the saucy fish-tail starts skimming the managers' accounts and transferring the money to orphanages, cancer research, and Save the Whales, Kyle isn't sure if he's created a monster or an angel.

2. When he gets into salt water, Garrett sprouts gills and a scaly tail and becomes a merman. What will his girlfriend Frances say when she finds out?

3. Medieval woodcutter Eldrid Svenson learned everything the hard way. If he didn't accidentally offend some belligerent tyrant, he was trying to appease a dragon or an elf. And when his parents insist he choose a bride and settle down, he sails toward Greenland in pursuit of the beautiful mermaid Marina Nox.

4. When her ship sinks, a US Navy sailor finds herself miraculously transformed into a mermaid. Before she can even swim back to the US, she undergoes yet another transformation, this time into an inhuman goddess of the sea, heiress to all its wealth, and as cruel as its laws of survival.

5. For years, virologist Lyle Bodecker has been studying a mysterious disease that transforms women into near-duplicates of Daryl Hannah during the filming of Splash. Now he's announced he's on the verge of finding a cure. Can he be stopped in time?

6. As little girls are encouraged to dream of becoming astronauts, doctors, and bus drivers, the number of qualified fairy princesses grows smaller each year--until Charlemagne Smythe takes charge and starts outsourcing to mermaids and witches.

7. When a dead mermaid with open sores washes up on the beach it causes a media frenzy. Can Dr. Michaels stop the plague she carries from spreading to humanity--before Arnold Toole convinces everyone that eating mermaid flesh grants immortality?

8. She claims to be a mermaid and although most people would be skeptical because she uses a submarine instead of swimming, crewman Digby believes it and lets her aboard the Sea Guppy. Hilarity ensues.

9. In a village famous for its seafood and its smell, Kayla's scientist parents are studying a mysterious virus that kills one teen-aged girl per year. When her parents suddenly die, Kayla must finish their work before she becomes the next victim of . . . The Mermaid Virus. Also, Rastafarian surfers.

10. Navy SEAL Hank Deadle knows he and his badass comrades are the best of the best . . . until they start growing iridescent green tails. Could it have anything to do with that top-secret medical research project funded by Disney that they volunteered for?

11. Nissy is the mermaid in charge of keeping Neptune's oysters happily making fine pearls. When young Danny Banks dives too near the pearls, she stops him before Neptune can order him killed. Can she get him home without arousing the King's suspicions?

12. Madison wakes up on the beach and discovers that her hair has lost its natural curl. Also, that she's become a mermaid. The bad news is, her boyfriend may not be able to handle it. The good news is, she has gained the power to command the ocean's waves, which is much cooler than having a boyfriend.

13. The merpeople are almost ready to take over the world and wipe out humanity with their water sorcery. Meteorologist Fenwick Jones is the only one who can stop them. But will he do so when the merman king offers him his beautiful daughter if he stays mum until the merfolk institute a worldwide fishocracy?

14. When fishermen in Nova Scotia land a mermaid, they think they've hit the jackpot--until they're stricken with a mysterious illness that makes them unable to breathe except while underwater. Can fish pathologist Hank Walley decipher the genetic code of this nightmare virus and identify a cure in time to save himself? Or must he, too, soon be tanked?

Answers below

The real books are numbers

2, 4, 9, and 12.

Cartoon 784

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Guess the Title

Thanksgiving being a day we celebrate by eating, I've taken the subtitles of ten food-and-drink-related books that are for sale online from Barnes and Noble. Your job is to guess which title goes with each subtitle.

The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!

Gourmet Grill
Manifold Destiny
Radiator Roadkill
Carburetor Cuisine
The Six-Cylinder Superchef
On the Road . . . With Meatloaf and Steak Fries

Recipes and Rants

The Cranky Chef
Kristen Nelson Cooks!
Bitchin In The Kitchen
Gordon Ramsay's Fuckfest
The Crabby Cook Cookbook
Frost My Chocolates and Roast My Butt

Drinking Games for Times You'll Never Remember with Friends You'll Never Forget

Shit Faced
The Imbible
Pickle My Liver
Beer Pong and Beyond
Wasted and No Remembrance
George W. Bush’s Guide to College

Recipes for Self-Loathing

Humble Pies
Bevittle Yourself
Eat Your Feelings
The Blimp in the Mirror
The Sylvia Plath Cookbook
How Sharp is Your Chef's Knife?

Grim and Ghastly Recipes for the Gruesome Gourmand

Awful Offal
First, Peel the Otter
Ghoulish Gastronomy
The Zombie Cookbook
The Brains are the Best Part
When I Asked You to Bring Me Some Grub, I Didn't Mean it Literally

Have Your Best Friend for Dinner

Poached Pooch
The Pet Cookbook
The Culinary Cannibal
The Donner Party Recipes
The Cuisine of Papua New Guinea
Hannibal Lecter’s Guide to Entertaining

A Philosopher's Guide to Wine

Plato on Pinot
Vintage Insights
Que Syrah Syrah
Descartes Decanted
I Drink Therefore I Am
The Transcendental Oenophile

The Art of Miserable Meal Making

Just Nuke It
When I Cook, They Run
Last Meals in the Worst Prisons on Earth
The Cat Food Commission's Gourmet Automat
The Gray Ground Meat and Brown Vegetable Cookbook
The Worse I Cook, The More He Takes Me Out to Dinner

Hold the Mayo, Muffy--I'm Feeling Miracle Whipped Tonight

Deli Delights
Condiment Love
Sandwich Frenzy
The Ellora's Cave Cook Book
How to Eat Like a Republican
There's Something About Reuben

Thirty Eight Lip-Smackin' Meals Men Can Cook in the Garage...Using Their Own Tools!

Me Hungry
Cook Like A Stud
Man Cave Recipes
Eat This--I Dare Ya!
Who Needs a Kitchen?
Grab a plate! It’s Hammertime!

Answers below

Fake titles were submitted by Dave F., Angela Robbins, Khazar-khum, anon., Faceless Minion, Slush, Steve Prosapio, Evil Editor, Marissa Doyle, BuffySquirrel, Madison, and Maureen.

Actual Book Titles:

Manifold Destiny
The Crabby Cook Cookbook
The Imbible
Eat Your Feelings
First, Peel the Otter
The Pet Cookbook
I Drink Therefore I Am
When I Cook, They Run
How to Eat Like a Republican

Cartoon 783

Caption: McKoala

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Beginning 809

Doctor Johnathan Harker fastened the couplings on the government issue gloves he had been given. There was a subtle hiss as the suit pressurized. He sat still and inhaled slowly, as he had been taught, to avoid oxygen deprivation while the suit switched over to its internal supply.

Harker made a conscious effort to avoid looking out the twin portholes on either side of him. It was ironic. He had counseled dozens of men on the stresses of space-agoraphobia and yet he had somehow developed an acute fear of it himself. It all boiled down to a fear of the unknown.

That’s a healthy fear, Harker thought as he thumbed at the screen mounted on the back of his glove. The ISA logo illuminated within the polished black surface. Government jobs tended to pay the best. They also tended to be the most full of bureaucracy and bullshit.

The logo on the glove display faded and was replaced with the message: Please key in your employee ID. Harker fumbled the 12 digit number twice on the tiny keypad, and got it right the third time.

The display faded and then provided another message: IMPORTANT: Do not use this interface device while in motion (REG 1.34.5542.3)

Obviously. He tapped the 'OK' button.

Contacting host...

Harker waited while his wrist-con registered with the central mainframe to authorise his sojourn outside.

IMPORTANT: You training records indicate you are authorised to undertake class 1, 2 or 5 maintenance work only (Reg 1.34.8854.5823).

This was a class 2 job. Simple. 'OK'.

Confirming authorisation...

Harker double-checked his tool belt.


Downloading work instructions...

Pages of text and diagrams scrolled across the tiny screen. Although he'd undergone hours of intensive training for this task, it was deemed important to have the manual to hand.

Ready to Proceed.

Please confirm the airlock door is clear on both sides before opening (Reg 1.34.9981.4334).


Requesting lock release. Please stand by.

Yeah, yeah. Standing by.

Lock release authorisation granted per Reg 1.34.5542.5549.


Ready to activate door release mechanism. Please ensure once more access area is clear.

Duh, it's clear. Still. 'OK'.

NOTE: You are responsible for the safety of yourself and others when carrying out external maintenance work (Reg 1.34.7769.0112). Remember: Safety First! (Reg 1.34.7769.0113)

Yes. 'OK'.

WARNING: Suit oxygen supply dangerously low! Aborting mission!

Fuck it.

Opening: Nick Berggreen.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 782

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Face-Lift 844

Guess the Plot

The Keeper

1. After Jenny trades Susie her favorite doll for a cookie she starts to have second thoughts. She begs Susie to give her back the doll. But there are no trade-backs with . . . The Keeper.

2. Sarah hates working at the family-owned cemetery. Who wants to cut grass and pick weeds over dead people? But then comes the day she falls into an open grave and finds the cast iron gates and the handsome boy who introduces himself as . . . The Keeper.

3. Betsy Charm's never had a boyfriend that didn't kiss and tell. When she meets Gary Simon she thinks she may have finally found a keeper. Now there's just the small issue that he's sworn off romance because his last girlfriend was heir to a fantasy world empire . . . that's now invading.

4. When she lived in ancient Egypt, Mal was the Keeper, the person assigned to protect the Buddhist flags that foretell the coming of a Tibetan demon. She died protecting the flags, and then she killed herself hundreds more times, but now she's back on Earth, and she'll stop at nothing to find the flags and bring them to America.

5. On her vacation in Aruba, a young woman falls in love with a stranger visiting the island on business. When he abruptly ends their summer fling, she imprisons him in a B&B cottage run by her demented grandmother. Meanwhile his fiancée begins a search for a missing groom to be.

6. When hillbilly boy genius Buddy Boone loses 132 golf balls in the sand trap known as "The Keeper," he knows this defies the laws of physics. He digs into the sand and discovers The Keeper is a time warp, but can he convince the buzzing hairy space creatures that his mother is calling and they must send him back to the 21st century?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen-year-old Mal knows exactly how many seconds it takes to drown. After all, she's killed herself hundreds of times since she arrived in the Valley, an isolated landscape between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Breaking the Habit of drowning is Mal's only concern; that is, until memories begin to resurface, [It's Mal who needs to resurface, if she really wants to break the Habit of drowning.] [Why are we capitalizing "Habit"?] flashes of a previous life in ancient Egypt and the set of prayer flags she died trying to protect.

When Mal is reassigned to a body on earth, she is determined to find the prayer flags and bring them safely back to America. Disguised as a study abroad student, [She hasn't been on Earth for thousands of years; why does she need a disguise? Who's gonna recognize her?] she travels to a remote village in Nepal, [What did you mean by, "she's reassigned to a body"? Some guy is walking along and suddenly someone else has been assigned to his body, someone who insists on going to Nepal? What if this guy already had plans for the evening?] living in a dorm room near the base of the Himalayas. She never expects to find friends. [You mean she doesn't expect to make friends? Or she finds friends from ancient Egypt? Or friends from the Valley?] She never expects to fall for Damian, the handsome Russian student whom she's not sure she can trust. [Instead of wondering whether to use "who" or "whom," use neither.] But most of all Mal never expects to find out the truth about her life in Egypt, the Pharaoh, and the prophecy that drives it all - a prophecy inscribed in the symbols of Buddhist prayer flags, foretelling the rise of an ancient Tibetan demon. [You could save a lot of space by telling us she finds friends, falls for Damian, and finds the secrets of life, instead of repeating that she didn't expect any of this.] Aided by her newfound friends, the advice of a monk, and only a moderate dose of sarcasm, Mal must come to terms with the past if there is any hope of protecting the future.

Complete at 84,000 words, THE KEEPER is aimed at a YA audience. Thank you for your time and consideration.


[Author's note (not part of query): The Keeper is the person assigned to protect the prayer flags.]


It's claimed that Mal is seventeen, but I can't tell if that means she has taken over the body of a seventeen-year-old, or she was seventeen when she died in ancient Egypt, or something else.

The last time Mal was on Earth, there was no America. And the prayer flags were in Egypt. So what's with taking the prayer flags back to America?

How can flags that existed two or three millenia ago be found? Wouldn't they have disintegrated by now?

Those are just plot points that can be addressed or not; the main problem is that this is all over the place. You need to focus on the main plot. What is Mal's mission? To find the flags and get them to America? Why does she want to do this? What happens if she fails? Who wants her to fail? What's her plan?

I don't think we need this stuff about drowning hundreds of times. Or the dorm room or the Russian. Thousands of years after she died in Egypt she's back on Earth, and it's up to her to save us all from a Tibetan demon. If that's the story, keep the query focused on it.

Cartoon 781

Caption: anon.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

New Beginning 808

“I HATE YOU!” she shouts as she approaches the stop, chasing the retreating bus a few yards before admitting defeat and strutting back to the shelter. Cassandra’s golden hair streams down her back, the rain makes her dress cling to her curves and her tall shoes enhance her feminine legs and her models’ walk.

She wishes.

In reality she mutters profanities as the bus vanishes into the distance. She’ll be even later for the party now.Her dress clings to her like the skin clings to an old sausage and her new heels are too high and difficult to walk in with any sort of grace. Or walk in at all. And they are giving her blisters. In fact they are 99% of the reason she missed the bus in the first place, (the other 1% being the not too undesirable, incredibly rugged carpenter fixing her banister). Her (reddish) blonde hair streams down her back - that was at least partly accurate in her idealised fantasy. Ignoring, of course,that it is still bunched up into the ponytail she slept in.

In her dreams.

In actuality, she wouldn't have run after the bus at all if the driver hadn't deliberately swerved into a puddle, sending a plume of water over the shopping cart that held her life's possessions. And her real name isn't Cassandra, though she thinks of herself as such.

Yeah, right.

"Madge!" She freezes and turns toward the source of the voice. "Madge! Come here! Stop chasing the buses you stupid thing!" She lets out a brief "Yip!" and trots back toward her owner. Isn't her fault that Retrievers have a short attention--

Scatalogical punchline.

Ooh, interesting turd. Sniff, sniff. Definitely not one of mine.

Opening: Naomi.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 780

Caption: Anon.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Success Story

BuffySquirrel reports that her short story "Snow Cat" (New Beginning 643) has been accepted for publication in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (ASIM).

Sunday Feature 14

Still More
Cartoons for

Caption: Paul Penna

Caption: EE, inspired by WO

Caption: Paul Penna & EE

Caption: Paul Penna

Caption: Paul Penna

Caption: EE, inspired by Paul Penna

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Face-Lift 843

Guess the Plot

Trial of the Heart

1. Jennifer is a family lawyer who specializes in divorce. David is a family lawyer who specializes in fathers' rights. Can they somehow overcome all odds while--oh, screw it. They hop in the sack the minute they meet and spend the rest of the book bitching about it.

2. Emily's family was killed by egotistical Conway Duke. As she fights for justice, Duke becomes seriously ill. Should she ease his suffering by forgiving him, or should she try to get his trial date moved up?

3. When a donor is found for her husband Mark, 51, Sarah is elated- until the next person on the list begs them to let her have the heart for her 13 year old son. Sarah is all set to flatly refuse, but Mark isn't. Can Sarah live with either decision? Can Mark? Can the reader, without barfing?

4. Detective Swanson says the murders were caused by the heart of Ignatius Trematode, which has been beating in a jar at the medical school for 28 years. But Prosecutor Umbridge is skeptical that a heart could poison Mrs. Trematode and cause her boyfriend to jump off a bridge . . . until Umbridge, himself, sleepwalks to the railing of that very same bridge. Then he schedules a trial and seeks the death penalty!

5. Internet scammer Joseph Nwoye falls in love with one of the rich American ladies he's been fleecing. She's sure to discover his deceptions--unless he can cover his lies by actually getting a job as CEO of the Bank of Nigeria. One man finds redemption through the love of a woman.

6. The Spleen had enough malice to commit perjury. The Kidneys were too bashful to take the stand. The Liver (“Lily”) refused to testify, even though she was the key witness. The Spine was nowhere to be seen. Only Large Intestine had the guts to speak out about what happened, at the . . . Trial of the Heart.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Emily Hennas has the power to ease a man’s suffering. Yet, that same man is responsible for murdering her family. After her husband, son and daughter are killed by a drunk driver, the egotistical Conway Duke, Emily is left alone to raise her youngest son. [While drunk drivers deserve no sympathy, we generally reserve the term "murder" for those who kill intentionally.] She moves to New York and faces the most difficult decision of her life: keep fighting for the justice her children deserves [deserve], or forgive Conway Duke for causing their deaths. [I don't think we need the first two sentences. They vaguely state what we get with more specificity later on. What we do need is an idea of what kind of justice Emily is seeking. Was there a trial? What punishment has Duke received? Surely he would have been charged with manslaughter.]

Driven by anger and survivor’s guilt, shadowed by the memory of her emotionally abusive husband, Emily engages in a legal fight hindered by an obsession for hoarding, [I don't know how a hoarding obsession hinders a legal fight, and the query is no place to explain it, so leave out the hoarding.] fears for her surviving child, and an overprotective brother. She forges an unlikely friendship with Nicholas Travane, a neighbor who at first embodies the arrogance of her dead husband. She’s attracted to Nick, but lays down unbendable rules for their friendship. Friendship is all it must be. She doesn’t want or need anything more. [Suddenly Nick remembers there's someplace else he needs to be.]

In one explosive moment, the legal battle ignites and changes course. Conway Duke becomes seriously ill, [Is that the explosive moment? Usually becoming seriously ill takes longer than one moment.] and might never face the justice for which Emily fights.

Trial of the Heart is the story of a mother’s love, a woman’s heart, and the obsession for justice. The work of women’s fiction is complete at 87,000 words. Would you be interested in seeing more?

Thank you for your time and consideration.



You mention that Emily's decision is whether to forgive Conway, which has me expecting you to come back to the idea after Conway is seriously ill. Instead it sounds more like she's worried he'll die before she gets justice.

Wouldn't it be harder to get justice once you've moved to another state?

Nicholas isn't needed in this query. Emily has no romantic interest in him, and he has nothing to do with her fight for justice. Focus on Emily and her main conflict.

In one explosive moment, the legal battle ignites and changes course. To me, this is the hook, but it needs some elaboration. What happened?

Cartoon 779

Caption: Paul Penna

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Beginning 807

"No air-conditioner? Why didn't I marry a rich girl so I could blow her fortune while she blew my mind in air-conditioned, five-star comfort? Why am I trying to make a living supplying stuntmen to a sci-fi movie about lizards? Why am I staking out exotic locations with dysenteric food, mosquitoes the size of bats and stinking locals who never bath?"

"Ah Sahib is perfectly welcome to marry my camel. Under her enchantments, Sahib will never worry about bad smells again," Raul, the pint-sized guide and aide-de-camp on this trip answered. Gary flipped the bird at him.

"You can bite my ass too," Gary added to the gesture. "And quit calling me Sahib. We're not even in India," came out as an afterthought.

"You know Sahib. You're cute when you're angry Sahib. You give Raul a big hard one, much pleasure, Sahib." Raul's words earned him a boot in the ass outside. The hot wind blasted past them as the sky roared. Pointing up at a bright spot, Raul ran screaming. The bright spot grew larger and followed him.

Back inside, Gary continued, "Why did I have to hire a guide who gets freaked out every time the kleig lights come on for a shot? One who, in addition to being pint-sized, is also bald, incontinent and drops his pistachio shells all over the floor of this motor home rented from Film Location Services-R-Us that I have to share with the director's PA who also happens to be his underage transsexual sex toy? Why am I asking all these questions? Answer me that. Yeah, you, holding the book. Yes, this book. Who do you think I've been talking to all this time?"

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Paul Penna

Cartoon 778

Caption: Whirlochre

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Face-Lift 842

Guess the Plot

City of Monsters

1. Once it was a town of polite theatergoers, considerate restaurant patrons, attentive drivers and literate schoolchildren. Then the cell phone was invented and it became a . . . City of Monsters.

2. To Pastor Jeremiah, the big city represents all the wickedness and depravity of modern life. People flock to his thundering sermons, but he is not content with simply allowing small-towners to congratulate themselves on their virtue and so he resolves to redeem the . . . City of Monsters.

3. Monstro City: where four million monsters reside, wishing their human ruling family were all dead. When Prince Thomas learns his family faces eviction from the castle--and certain death--he sets out in his swamp monster disguise to collect back taxes from a dragon. Can he keep the royal family solvent? Also, a socially challenged zombie.

4. Exorcist Lynn Bourne moves to Hollywood to set up shop. It's sensible to offer her services in a place so inviting to unnatural behavior. But during one of her spirit cleansing séances, she becomes host to an ancient demon who impels her to start a career as a reality tv producer.

5. The trip to Mars was too long and totally horrid, but now that Nannette is back in New York, she wishes she was still on the red planet. Something went wrong on Earth: everyone looks and acts like Godzilla. Or maybe it's just that fashion and attitudes have changed. Whatever. She refuses to lumber around in a green reptile outfit, no matter how stylish.

6. Charlotte works in The City, London's financial district. Her co-workers seem unusually ruthless, but Charlotte suspects nothing particular- until Alicia in Investments forgets to tuck her tail in one Monday morning. Time for Charlotte to get out her union suit, wear her underpants on top and kick some monster-butt.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In CITY OF MONSTERS, humans are the endangered species. [This leads the reader to assume City of Monsters is the title of the book. Which explains why all the fake plots are for City of Monsters. I'd put the book's title there; the series title can come below, exactly where you have it.]

Prince Thomas is frustrated at his over-protected life and his irrelevant education about long-dead monarchs. After all, when Thomas turns eighteen in three years, he will become the titular ruler of Monstro City’s four million monsters. Determined to learn more about the world beyond his protective walls, Thomas escapes his giant ant-built castle and enrolls at Monstro Central School. [The middle sentence interrupts the logical flow of ideas. I would arrange this info in two sentences: Prince Thomas, future ruler of Monstro City’s four million monsters, is frustrated at his over-protected life and his irrelevant education about long-dead monarchs. Determined to learn more about the world beyond the castle walls, he slips away and enrolls at Monstro Central School.]

Disguised as a swamp monster called PT, Thomas is threatened by mafia goblin students at his first class. He is also befriended by the outcast Dead Gang: a motherly mummy, rebellious vampire, socially-challenged zombie, joker giant spider and sarcastic goblin princess. Sweating beneath his costume, Thomas knows if the monsters discover his identity, he will spin on a kebab stick before he can scream for his ogre bodyguard. [Too many monsters. Condense to: Disguised as a swamp monster called PT, Thomas is befriended by the outcast Dead Gang: a motherly mummy, rebellious vampire, socially-challenged zombie . . . you get the idea. Of course, if these monsters knew his true identity, he'd be spinning on a kebab stick.]

Thomas learns his family faces imminent bankruptcy and eviction, meaning certain death. He formulates a desperate plan: crossing the Mythic Quarter to demand back-taxes from Kalthazar the dragon. First, he must convince the Dead Gang to aid rather than devour him, [He needs them to help him collect taxes, but he can't tell them who he is?] and survive a double period of Biology! [This last joke falls flat.]

DRAGONIUM is a 42,000 word modern fantasy for young adults and the first book of the CITY OF MONSTERS series.

An award-winning fiction and non-fiction writer, I have written over 2,000 articles for 50 plus magazines and newspapers, contributed to a dozen anthologies and appeared several times on Australian national TV. Before I became a children's author, I wrote for surf magazines in over 30 countries, including the major three in the US. Dubbed ‘surfing’s literary giant,’ I was paid to roam the world with the likes of nine-times world surfing champion, Kelly Slater (mainly because I couldn’t afford my own air tickets). [As impressive as all that is, one paragraph about you is plenty, and the next one is more relevant to what you're selling.]

In the last four years, I have had four children’s novels published in Australia, including Erasmus James and the Galactic Zapp Machine (Ibis Publishing) and Stinky Squad (Barrel Books). Every year, I tour over 100 schools with my popular author show. The rights for all my books are available for all territories outside Australia.

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


It's not clear why the monsters would kill Thomas if they knew his identity. Work that in somewhere.

Why would four million monsters accept someone they want dead as their ruler?

This sounds like the kind of fare middle graders would love. What makes it YA?

The main plot seems to be collecting the taxes. Possibly we don't need to mention the school at all. Just say Thomas leaves the castle in his disguise and is befriended by the Dead Gang. When he decides he must cross the Mythic Quarter, he'll need help, so he calls upon his new friends. This would leave more space to explain why an endangered species is ruling the city, and how they're able to do so when they can't leave the castle.

Success Story

Elizabeth Walker reports that her YA fantasy novel, Heir to the Underworld, is now available from Sapphire Blue Publishing. It was Face-Lift 510 as well as Synopsis 13.

Here’s the link to the book page:


Cartoon 777

Caption: anon.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Beginning 806

Angie traipsed downstairs, sluiced her mug, then went to put the kettle on, all the while ignoring the black-skinned demon squatting on the sofa.

She preferred to sit in the chair anyway.

"You made me." Its perennial complaint.

Black demon, black tea. She dropped a tea bag into the mug from a height. Missed. Grabbed a handful more from the box and scattered them, in the hope one might land in the right place. That first time, she'd thought the milk had just turned. Coming in through the door with a new carton, she'd realised her mistake, feeling it turn to yoghurt in her hands.

Back then she'd still noticed the smell.

"You were supposed to be beautiful," she said, making this the 231st day in succession on which she'd broken her vow.

The sofa creaked as the demon raised its melon-shaped head. One of those honeydew melons--the oval ones.

"I am beautiful."

Angie laughed. "In your dreams."

She could only blame herself. Sure, it was the demon that curdled the milk, but the clumsiness was her own. She had meant to sprinkle the potion on the spaghetti sauce jar, to bring to life her own beautiful Paul Newman. But a sneeze took her at that instant, and instead she splashed it onto the devil's food cake--

A shadow fell across the kitchen. She sighed and looked up through the skylight.

"HO, HO, HO!!"

-- and a small can of Niblets.

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 776

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Success Story

In the first-ever Minion Trifecta, it's a 3-for-1 zombie win. The print anthology Gone With the Dirt: Undead Dixie features "Dixie Dust" by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, "Bad Things Happen Here" by Shona Snowden (better known on this site as a furry marsupial), and "Shuffling Through Georgia" by Phoenix Sullivan (New Beginning 789). Available now from Pill Hill Press. http://www.pillhillpress.com/shoppe-anthologies.html

Face-Lift 841

Guess the Plot

How to Be Ruthless

1. Marry Ruth, fight with Ruth, divorce Ruth, stalk Ruth, die, haunt Ruth, get chased off by her new Ghostbuster boyfriend.

2. After insuring the life of his wife, Ruth, for a million dollars, Lance is looking for a hitman who can make her murder look like an accident.

3. When his beloved wife Ruth dies after 47 years of marriage, Aaron Cohen must learn to live, laugh and love again in the wild, savage jungle of senior dating.

4. Humble, henpecked accountant Fred Fotheringale plots to murder his shrewish wife, Ruth. The twist: she wants to be Fredless.

5. Orphaned in mysterious circumstances involving a runaway sled and a chain saw, Ruth now lives with her creepy, but clueless guardians. She’s sure they have her best interests at heart, that those near-misses were just accidents. But when she finds a flow-chart headed: “How To Be Ruthless,” her suspicions are aroused.

6. High school student Hunter Kent has been dumping girlfriends for years. Now he's dating hot hot hot Ruth, but while she's out of town over summer vacation, Hunter falls in love with someone new: Ruth's little brother. Hunter may become hunted when Ruth finds out.

7. Ruth and George seem to be the perfect couple. Then George discovers Ruth sleeping with the milkman and--after a protracted and painful divorce--begins his new Ruthless existence.

8. Existential poet Marcus Prufroche loves his all-grey decor, his beret, and his cadre of nubile graduate students. What he doesn't love is his grandmother Ruth Himmelburg, who thinks her Marky should go out and get a real job. When she tries to fix him up with her best friend's granddaughter visiting from a Lithuanian shtetl, Marcus decides it's time to take action. Fatal action.

9. When Fredrick is kidnapped by a band of female pirates, it seems like heaven at first. But the amazon pirate leader, Ruth, wants more from him than just pleasure. To prove that Fredrick is worthy enough to be her equal, he will have to launch a solo attack on a rival pirate band and bring back the forbidden Crystal of Foretelling. Can he succeed if he is . . . Ruthless?

10. Ruthless vigilante sorcerers descend on Mobile, Alabama when they hear rumors about a baby with the power to heal broken bones. Unfortunately, they're about to encounter a pack of ravenous ninja were-zombies.

11. In a post-apocalyptic world where the Catholic church is the only surviving authority, Ruth is an assassin for T.H.U.G.S.--the Thaumatological Heresy and Unnatural Gestation Society. In other words, she's an angel hunter. But after the Church discovers that Ruth's own biological father is an angel, it's Ruth's turn to be hunted. Her mother is as hot on her heels as hell itself, so it'll take a miracle for Ruth to survive.

12. At the behest of his therapist, smalltime hoodlum Petie Raklune begins blogging anonymously about his exploits. When the readership hits a million plus, book deals pour in amidst a clamor to reveal his identity. But should Petie give up a life of picking pockets merely for an international book tour?

Original Version

Dear Evil One,

At the end of his high school career, Hunter Kent has racked up four virginities taken, ten ex-girlfriends, and one-hundred twenty-six insane parties hosted. He has no idea what he’s going to do with his life, but never mind that for now. It’s the last summer before adulthood begins. [He sounds like Holden Caulfield.] [Wait a minute, Hunter/Holden. Caulfield/Kent. Too close to be a coincidence . . . although you might change Hunter's last name to Kenfield.] He just wants to live it up.

At Hunter’s very last high school party, theatre star Laura Welch fixates on him. [Whattaya mean, theatre star? Are we talking school play or Broadway?] [Okay, the truth comes out. I changed her name from Laura to Ruth in the Guess the Plot feature; I had to, or the title wouldn't make sense, as there's nothing about ruthlessness in the plot summary.] Hunter’s cool with that -- she’s hot. When Laura takes off to Mexico for half the summer, however, her sixteen-year-old brother Taylor crashes into Hunter’s life. Taylor is a musical prodigy, home for the summer from a prestigious fine arts academy. He’s fresh, uncharted territory, and Hunter is obsessed. Their relationship is a slow burn, evoking more passion in Hunter than he’s ever felt for anyone else. [He never suspected he could be this obsessed with a pianist.] For Hunter, the best part about dating the hottest girl in town is making out with her little brother. [The term "little brother" is introducing the Ewww factor, even though we know he's only a year younger. I don't think we need the word "little" now that we know his age.]

The only problem? Laura. Hunter thinks he can handle telling her he’s in love with her brother, until she drops a bomb: she’s pregnant. [And to make matters worse, the father is Hunter's kid sister.] On top of that, Taylor seems to be lying about everything. [Either leave that out or be more specific.] Grown-up life is a helluva lot more complicated than high school.

How To Be Ruthless is a YA novel complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.



For starters it's obvious that you simply must change Laura's name to Ruth.

It's not clear why it's called How to Be Ruthless. Normally that doesn't matter, but in this case I think you should mention some ruthless behavior in the Laura/Hunter relationship. "Ruthless" doesn't feel like the right word. Which is another good reason to change her name.

Are we supposed to like Hunter? I've noticed that the minions often make comments like: Why would I want to read a whole book about this jerk? If this is about Hunter coming to terms with his sexuality, you might want to tone down the stolen virginities part and try to make him sound more sympathetic. Unfortunately, you may need to do that in the book as well as the query.

Cartoon 775

Caption: Anon.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Feature 13

Make this year's Thanksgiving dinner special.

I posted this recipe a couple years ago, but no one reported back that they had tried it. It sounds like more work than just roasting a turkey, but when you see the results, I think you'll agree it's worth it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cartoons for Super-Intellectuals

All they need is your captions. Criteria: 1. Funny. 2. Only super-intellects get it.







Saturday Film Series

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Beginning 805

Owen listened as his closet door creaked open. He clutched his teddy bear and held it close to him. He knew he was too old for it, but it was the only thing that gave him any real comfort anymore. It was the only thing he had left that linked to his past, a time of comfort and good memories. In the sound of the door creak seemed to be the sweep of all the events of the past year—events that had turned his life upside down and turned him from the normal kid he once was into this scared, lonely boy with no friends and no one to rely on but himself. “Knock knock,” said a voice. It wasn't a pleasant voice. But Owen knew he couldn't just keep his eyes shut and ignore the thing that had entered his room.

He sighed and opened his eyes. Might as well get it over with. "Who's there?"

The seven-foot cockroach folded itself into the little desk chair by Owen's bedside. It swung a wide flat head down at him, antennae swaying.
"Roach." Its carapace glinted in the light of a Spongebob nightlight.

"Roach who?"

"Gezundheit," said the cockroach, and laughed.

Owen shook his head and whispered to Teddy, "We'll get a better roommate next semester."

Opening: Stacy.....Continuation: Sean

Cartoon 774

Caption: Whirlochre

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Face-Lift 840

Guess the Plot

Living in Forgotten

1. George accidentally opens a portal to Forgotten - the land of awkward titles.

2. Annie lives in, um... uh... someplace, where she's a grocery clerk at, uh... some grocery store or other. Something happens.

3. The protagonist, whose name escapes me, leaves her hometown and, unable to remember its name or location, searches desperately for a way to return there.

4. A guy with a funny name was the mayor of Wherever when he got into some naughty trouble with the milkmaid, or was it the baker's wife? Anyway, a lot of crazy stuff happened and then, um, the end.

5. Khris thought it would be a good idea to move to Forgotten, which is filled with gangs and thugs and thieves, but now that he's here it's not the exciting adventure he was expecting. Can he find his way back to Privileged before he gets killed?

6. Forgotten, Illinois lives up to its name. They forgot to build a school, a church, a town hall or even a Wal-mart. When wannabe Senator, Bob Forthwright, makes a PR mission out of bringing these things to 'poor' Forgotten, the citizens revolt- led by hot country bumpkin Mary-Alice McMaddock.

7. After a brief stint of notoriety, a Payphone’s Occlusion is cast into a dimension of forgotten shadows. When the phone itself shows up in a background scene of Cheaters, fame and fortune return…but at what price? Calls cost more than 10 cents these days and the Occlusion can’t even scrounge up a nickel.

8. Alexandra Capricorn can't remember how she got to Forgotten. She can't remember her three ex-husbands, discovering Blackbeard's lost treasure, or what happened to her twin sister. She's not the only one--everyone in Forgotten has had their mind erased by evil producers mining their pasts for soap opera gold. Can Alexandra stop them in time?

9. Janie Kent loves her job running Ciudad Olvidado, a sleepy trailer park. But when drug dealers try to move in on her territory, ex-Marine Janie organizes her cadre of misfit tenants into a makeshift army, all while trying to duck the notice of that cute sheriff.

10. M’jula sells real estate on The Forgotten Planet, a Gas Giant orbiting a dying sun. She’s just discovered a legal loophole allowing considerable leeway in her depictions of the methane-rich frozen wasteland. Bring on the wealthy willing to buy "sight unseen". But the Alpha Centauri Mafia do not easily forgive being swindled.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

Living in the streets of Forgot wasn’t the adventure Khris had hoped for. [Although it does get pretty exciting at rush hour.] Stealing, hiding from the gangs and keeping his home a secret wasn’t exactly what he had imagined. [The second sentence is more specific than the first, but basically, both say the same thing. They can easily be combined into one sentence.]

When running away from a bunch of thugs, he runs into a small mute boy with a very big talent. [He has the ability to speak with perfect enunciation, almost unheard of among mutes.] Together they learn to understand each other as well as to trust others. But life in Forgot never stays easy.

In the Forgotten, a gang will corner them into an impossible heist [The first paragraph was past tense, the second was present, and now we're in future tense? I can't wait to see what we progress to in the 4th paragraph.] while in the Privileged, the PC get ready to hunt for more talented, a hunt that will leave many dead and many more missing. [If that sentence is clear to you, it's either because you wrote the book or because your mind works in mysterious ways.]

Can they live the streets especially on the wrong side of the wall? [Ah, the hypothetical tense.] [Also, what wall?]

My young adult fantasy, LIVING IN FORGOTTEN, is complete at 69,000 words. It's the first instalment [sp.] of a planned trilogy, yet it is quite capable of standing on its own. [The word "quite" is almost always useless. Note that I didn't say "quite useless," as that would have meant the same thing.] LIVING IN FORGOTTEN is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


What is Forgot? What is Forgotten? Why isn't the title Living in Forgot or Living in the Forgotten?

What is the mute boy's big talent?

Start over, and this time summarize the book such that someone who's never read it has some idea what you're talking about. Apparently the city of Forgot is divided by a wall into areas known as the Forgotten and the Privileged. Apparently Khris is from the latter but has crossed into the former seeking adventure? Why don't you just tell us this? Then tell us what happens to Khris. If the Forgotten isn't all he was hoping, why doesn't he just go back to the Privileged? What does he want and who's stopping him from getting it?

If the Forgotten is the bad part of Forgot, why do you claim that life in Forgot never stays easy? Shouldn't that be Life in the Forgotten never stays easy?

No way would the privileged allow their city to be named Forgot. You don't see the Park Avenue crowd campaigning to have New York City renamed Homeless Shelter. Also, I can see the forgotten referring to the two sectors as Forgotten and Privileged, but the privileged would probably have different names for them, like the Industrious and the Iniquitous. In short, if Khris is originally from the Privileged he probably doesn't call it that.

Do we have to name this place Forgot? It makes me think the novel is an allegory, and you want to make sure we get it.

Does PC stand for Politically Correct? Because the politically correct probably wouldn't participate in deadly hunts of talented people. If it stands for Privileged Commandos, use the words. You can't just toss out terms like the Privileged, the wall, the PC as if everyone knows what you mean.