Thursday, March 31, 2011

Face-Lift 886

Guess the Plot

Meet Daphne Stuart

1. She's pretty, smart and funny but internet dating just isn't working out. Why won't anybody click on that little button to . . . Meet Daphne Stuart?

2. She's your typical fifth-grader, with a dog, a cat, a Wii, and a vampire for a brother. And you'll want all the other books in the series, too.

3. She's convinced she's the rightful heir to the Scottish throne, so 17-year-old Daphne Stuart gathers a guerilla army of 10,000 kilted Scotsmen and launches a revolt. Britain yawns.

4. She's alone in the world. Her anorexic older sister's in a hospital, her younger siblings have all fled to escape their violent mother, and her boyfriend's acting like a jerk. At least Daphne Stuart still has herself to talk to. And people like you to read her depressing story.

5. Justin is content as a bachelor, but his mother is desperate for grandchildren. Forced into yet another blind date, Justin expects disaster, until he meets Daphne Stuart. She's gorgeous, intelligent and mysterious. She’s also an international spy. Can Justin survive the world of espionage and keep the girl of his dreams, or will he move back in with Mom?

6. Meet Daphne Stuart, She's a fun-loving fifth-grader and newest member of the Sunflowers softball team. Coach Trisha McNiell is the girls' trusted friend and advisor. But when the coach makes a discovery in the locker room, she'll need all her skills to deal with the parents of a boy named Daphne.

Original Version

[Author note: I have two versions; one is "traditional", the other unconventional. The traditional one:]

For Daphne Stuart, this year's shaping up to be one of the worst on record. [Bad enough her vacation in northern Japan is ruined by a tsunami, but why did the only flight out have to be going to Libya?] Her crazy mother is getting crazier, her anorexic big sister sicker, and her younger siblings clingier than ever. One by one the Stuart siblings flee the home and their mother's increasingly erratic moods, until Daphne alone is left. [Becoming clingier than ever seems contradictory to fleeing the home.] [How old are these younger siblings, and where did they flee to? How old is Daphne?] When her physical safety comes under threat, she knows she too must run.

Unfortunately the only place she has to go is her boyfriend's, and he's grown increasingly distant and hostile lately. Something is clearly very wrong in his life, but he's not sharing. In desperation Daphne visits her boyfriend's mother and learns of a family tragedy he's been trying his best to hide. Confronting him about it doesn't work out so well, and Daphne finds herself more alone than ever.

In spite of how things are shaping up, Daphne is still determined to get through the year in one piece. Even if she has to do it on her own. [The end? This is all setup. You've told us how Daphne came to be alone, but it sounds like the real story is how Daphne copes with her situation, and we get none of it.]

MEET DAPHNE STUART, a young adult/drama, is complete at 95,000 words.

[And the alt. version:]

Daphne Stuart has always had family problems, but they've never been her main focus. This year is going to be different.


Family dramas are escalating. The emotionally abusive mother, she who likes to throw plates, imitate a Banshee and then sleep for days, is becoming dangerous to be around. Then there’s the older sister whose recovery from anorexia seems to be reversing itself. And what the hell are her youngest siblings thinking, looking to Daphne for all their mothering needs? It’s not like she learned from a good role model.

Friend drama. Everybody’s suddenly got a grievance, but the boyfriend’s problems make the rest seem petty when she learns what he’s been hiding—a dark family tragedy that has made him increasingly distant and hostile. In short, Daphne’s problems aren’t so special anymore, and everybody’s getting a little tired of hearing about them. [Instead of giving us all the specifics on the problems that now seem petty, you might fill us in on the one that makes them seem petty.]

Bright side?

At least she’s not completely alone: she’s still got herself to talk to. [Just tack "At least she's still got herself to talk to." onto the previous paragraph, rather than using four lines to says it.]


Think positive. Yeah, that one always works. Go into denial? Hmm, tried that, failed. Make big sister eat some food? The doctors won’t let her near enough, since that time she started shouting. Move to a new country? If only she had the money, she’d be straight on a plane.

Okay, so those aren’t Daphne’s best ideas ever. But she’s determined that she will not turn out like her mother, she will not turn out like her sister, and she will be bloody well happy. Watch this space: one well-adjusted teen coming right up.

ETA? She gives herself a year.

MEET DAPHNE STUART, a young adult/drama, is complete at 95,000 words.


The titles to the paragraphs (Problem, Friend drama, Bright side, Solution) aren't needed to establish your voice (in fact, the voice comes through better without them) or to provide information. If you want them in there, make them the first sentence of the paragraphs rather than making them separate paragraph. They're wasting space. True, Evil Editor titles sections of this blog post with Guess the Plot, Original Version, and Notes, but I can get away with that because I'm world-famous.

The second version is better, partly because of the voice, and partly because it goes beyond the setup to give us some of Daphne's ideas for solving her problem. Unfortunately, they're all rejected ideas. Does she do anything that actually helps?

Is the book just a series of problems Daphne must deal with? Even if you've decided for some reason not to focus on one problem in the book, you might want to focus on just one in the query. For instance you could reveal what the boyfriend is going through, and focus on how Daphne feels about trying to help him get through it while dealing with her own family situation.

Or you could shorten the setup to: Daphne Stuart's mother is violent and depressed, her sisters have all left home, and her boyfriend is being sexually abused by his uncle. How in God's name is she going to survive the fourth grade? Then move on to something hopeful, like her plan, or some wonderful person who comes along and brings order to her life.

Cartoon 874

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Face-Lift 885

Guess the Plot


1. Belleville is the nicest town in the state. Perfect weather, friendly people, no crime. Or so outsiders think. But that's because no outsider has ever stayed around Belleville until sundown . . . and lived to tell about it.

2. After 500 years, the slow rotation of the planet Ficksia is finally taking Lurhon City - and the last slice of land on the lit hemisphere - into the dark zone. If Ariadne and her ragtag team of werecats can't reverse the planet's spin by engineering a supervolcano explosion, it'll be sundown for everyone... forever.

3. Only daytime is experienced by the people of Helianthus, for at sundown they must return to their pods and be frozen again. When Arden breaks the rules and sees night, he discovers the evil secret the Controllers have been keeping from the populace. Has Arden seen his last . . . Sundown?

4. On tour with the Sundown Music Festival, guitarist Louise Stelland wears a ring to show she's not available. Gotta keep all the groupies and fans from bugging her. But then hunky rock star Jared Pearson shows up, and suddenly Louise can't lose her ring fast enough.

5. When Jeri and Patrice head for the Sundown Dude Ranch for their summer vacation, they're both secretly hoping to land a sexy cowboy. Turns out Sundown Dude Ranch is located on Brokeback Mountain, if you get my drift. Hilarity ensues.

6. Mankind ended the devastating vampire war long ago by stopping the rotation of the Earth and living on the bright side. But now the vampires have found a way to start the world spinning and humans who have never seen a vampire will have to face their first . . . Sundown.

Original Version

On tour with the Sundown Music Festival, guitarist Louise Stelland plans to be Mistress Cool and rock the nation. Nobody will care that twenty-six year old Mistress Cool still carries her boyfriend's ring five years after his death. [Whattaya mean "carries"? Does she wear it?] They won't bug her to go on awkward blind dates, either. Mistress Cool will be left the hell alone. [Rock guitarists don't get left alone just because they're wearing rings. She could wear a nun's habit and a chastity belt and guys would be all over her.]

But on Day 1 of [the] tour, famous rock star Jared Pearson shows up and throws Louise completely off her game. Whenever he's around, Mistress Cool is nowhere in sight. Her attempts to avoid him keep failing. And she's starting to like his company a little too much.

Suddenly, she's fiddling with her ex's gold ring and wondering if it's time to put the thing away.

Which is so NOT cool. [Why?]

Complete at 105,000 words, SUNDOWN is a contemporary romance novel.


I don't understand Louise's conflict. She's had time to get over the death of her ex-boyfriend. Was her ex also a rock star, electrocuted by his Stratocaster? Is she afraid a romance will cost her this gig? We need to see why she's fighting against a relationship.

Saying "Nobody will care that she still carries her boyfriend's ring" will probably be interpreted to mean guys will hit on her despite the ring, when I think you want to convey the opposite idea. What you want to say (I think) is that nobody will know that the engagement ring she's wearing was given to her by a man who died five years ago.

It's just not clear enough. Louise has landed a plum gig, but she hates life on the road, with guys always hitting on her, so she wears an engagement ring, hoping that will deter them. Then she meets Jared and suddenly wishes she didn't have that ring on, because she wouldn't mind getting hit on by him. Too late, he's already seen the ring, and he's the one rock star she's ever met who respects the ring's symbolic meaning.

That's the plot I would expect to find in a contemporary romance. He's not interested because she's engaged, she finally admits she isn't engaged, he doesn't believe her, thinking she just wants to get him in the sack, she eventually convinces him, he's mad because she wasn't up front with him, they avoid each other, they're miserable, they realize they can't live without each other. I'm not sure it's your plot; if it is, say it clearly and simply.

This is short enough that you can add some more information without going over a page.

Leave out the dead boyfriend. It doesn't matter in the query where the ring came from.

While the word "cool" can convey lack of interest, I would expect someone calling herself "Mistress Cool" to be mysterious and hip rather than cold.

Cartoon 873

Caption: anon.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Face-Lift 884

Guess the Plot

Squeaky McLean and Mouse Tails

1. A mouse detective must track down a predatory farmer's wife and her carving knife... before she strikes again.

2. Grandma raised Squeaky to keep an eye out for the big score. So when he found mouse tails in his McLean sandwich, he reached for his phone and dialed his lawyer. Now he has the mansion of his dreams and a memoir worth writing.

3. Jeff "Squeaky" McLean was once a star of his own kiddie TV show "Mouse Tails", playing Squeaky while wearing a mouse costume with his marionette mouse Cheesy. But the kids are gone, the lights shut off, and Cheesy is talking about hijacking a gasoline tanker.

4. Nobel Prize-winning microbiologist Sandra 'Squeaky' McLean synthesizes an amazing new protein which could unlock the door to eternal youth but to her horror she discovers that something isn't right with her lab mice.

5. A series of cautionary tails (haha) in which the dangers of e coli are graphically represented with whimsical illustrations of infection and death.

6. When Claw Clarey, aspiring evil overlord feline, sets out to make cats the dominant species on the planet, it's up to Squeaky McLean, mouse detective, to thwart him and save us all from servitude.

Original Version

For mouse detective Squeaky McLean, this is the worst day ever. [All the cheese is missing. If that's the problem I suggest changing the title to Squeaky McLean and the Case of the Missing Cheese.] His feline nemesis, and Marsupopolis's biggest crime boss, Claw Clarey, has co-ordinated a mass breakout from prisons all around the world. Heinous criminals [including Tom, Sylvester, and Scratchy] are pouring back onto the streets. Claw's aim? To gather an army of evil creatures who can help him restore cats to the dark glory of ancient times. Never mind that most cats aren't into that stuff nowadays. [And never mind that Tom, Sylvester and Scratchy have a record of 0 - 1437.] Claw's got a vision, and he's sticking to it.

To stop Claw from achieving his ultimate goal, Squeaky begins a frantic search for chinks in the cat's armour, weaknesses that can be used against him. He and his comrades then devise a plan for how to use those weaknesses--such absurd things as 'fur', 'mothers' and 'yoghurt'--to topple the mass-murdering mobster. [I can't tell if fur, mothers and yoghurt are the cat's weaknesses or the things Squeaky plans to use to exploit those weaknesses.] Now that he's got the plan, all he needs is to get close enough to Claw to unleash it. But there's an epic battle between good and evil, on the grounds of Claw's estate, standing in his way. [Not clear what that means. What's going on?]

Complete at 62,000 words, SQUEAKY MCLEAN AND MOUSE TAILS is a middle grade novel.


This sounds more like a job for Mighty Mouse or some other mouse superhero than for a mouse detective. Where does the detecting come in?

The first paragraph is a good setup. The second doesn't follow through with a clear summary of what happens. It should say something like: Gambling that Claw is addicted to catnip yoghurt, Squeaky brings a tanker truck of the substance to Claw's estate, hoping to cause the diabolical feline to OD. But getting to Claw won't be easy, not with the Dalai Lama and the Antichrist engaged in war on the front lawn.

Not clear why "and Mouse Tails" is part of the title. One expects that to be a play on "Tales," and that there'll be several stories, but this seems to be one story. Maybe it should be titled like Harry Potter's books: Squeaky McLean and the Cat from Hell, opening the way for a series.

62,000 words is obviously too long for kids younger than middle grade; on the other hand, I'm wondering if fifth graders would read 62,000 words about mouse versus cat. Maybe this should be a screenplay for an animated film.

Cartoon 872

Caption: Evil Editor

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Monday, March 28, 2011

New Beginning 845

I remember my childhood in Gray Sector of Panocadia Three as a series of comic book pages, each panel painting a lurid vignette of young lust and desire. Years later, with the zombie plague behind us, the grand kids want to know about the not-so-grand and amazingly un-glorious days of my youth. I thought myself precocious in all concerns governmental, sexual, scientifical and obviously parental. Oh to be young again, to have the clear visions the world. Yeah. Right. Sure.

Think bucolic; a family at church, a sunny Sunday swaddled in the fragrance of Acacia, birds chirping and the preacher breathing fire and brimstone to the undeserving of his congregation. Now forget that. In reality, it's stinking hot in Gray Sector thanks to a failure of a weather machines in Engineering. The metal benches of the Quonset hut each have a bouquet of plastic lilies that were never alive. A make believe church redolent of sweaty armpits and motor oil suffering under the weight of Preacher Bosco's never-ending sermon. Cue the recorded pastoral organ music. The last things in our thoughts were zombies.

Now forget that.

In reality, the climate controlled atmosphere of D-Ward is cool. Plus there are no metal benches. Everything in here is padded. They don't let us play around metal.

The organ music is just the creaking of my cell door as the nurses come to bring me lunch.

And zombies? I was always, always worried about zombies. That's what got me committed here in the first place.

That, and the fact I use words like 'bucolic.'

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Bran Flakes

Cartoon 871

Caption: Aika

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Feature 27

I had a dream last night in which I was on a city sidewalk and a woman was selling a bunch of items like you might see at a yard sale. I picked up a board game, which was in pretty bad condition; it was called Courtroom. The cover reminded me of Clue...

but I opened the game board, and it looked more like Monopoly. I was about to ask the woman if the game was any good when this little girl interrupted my train of thought by handing me fifteen cents as payment for some piece of crap. Apparently she thought I was the seller. And then I woke up, so thanks to this kid I never got to see the details of the game. Although I'm thinking each player is a famous TV lawyer like Perry Mason, Denny Crane, Lionel Hutz etc.

Anyway, I've decided that this dream is a sign that I am destined to make my fortune creating Courtroom. What I need from you guys is help in designing the game. Monopoly devotes six spaces on its board to Chance and Community Chest. In Courtroom, I've decided these spaces will be called Judgments and Briefs. So your first task in this endeavor will be to come up with courtroom-related things that should be written on the Judgments and Briefs cards. Send your ideas as comments.

Let's get this project rolling; I'm not getting any younger.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Face-Lift 883

Guess the Plot

Souls and Sex

1. High school senior Summer Shore falls for the dark brooding new guy. Little does she know he's a demon, interested in just two things.

2. Our souls are a major part of our physical world and knowing about them makes sex better. This memoir touches on that topic, plus the trials and tribulations of my attempt to get it published.

3. When the headless body of singer Crimson washes ashore in El Segundo, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: whoever did this hated her new song, and he's going to have to break the bad news that the concert is canceled to his 12-year-old daughter.

4. Ghost couple Morty and Morticia have a problem- no bodies, ergo no sex. When Morticia possesses the body of Melissa, a hot high-school cheerleader, Morty reciprocates by possessing Jake, a geeky virgin freshman. Can they manage to "do the deed" before Melissa's football captain boyfriend makes Morty dead again?

5. Eager to experience the pleasures of the flesh, Halo and Hoopy infiltrate a demonic possession cult only to find their souls imprisoned inside a sacrificial goat on the eve of the Antichrist's return. If they can figure out quadruped limb anatomy, maybe they can make it back to Heaven — unless the suicidal zealot of a herbivore thinks otherwise.

6. Good sex is an intersection of souls, claims reknowned sexpert Dr. Lilian Jenkwold. But say you don't want somebody's sticky, sweaty soul touching yours? How the hell do you clean that? Anna thought she had it covered with extra strength condoms and Hibeclens, but noooooo. A novel of physical love in the OCD world.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor:

I thought I’d been everywhere and done everything. Then last week I was surfing the Internet, found Miss Snark, and there you were. So here I am. [How did Miss Snark let you get away?]

BOOK 1: SOULS & SEX is the first book that materializes our souls. [Ah, that's how.] Our souls are a major part of our physical world [Or at least they will be, after my book materializes them.] and knowing about them makes sex better. My soul is an active participant in my life.

BOOK 1 ends the four-century war between religion and science. [Finally. Who wins?] It addresses my trials and tribulations of becoming published, how the book industry is sabotaging itself [by not publishing my books], and other big thoughts [that have nothing to do with souls or sex] from my average American work-boot wearing middle-class life.

I am a virgin author [A virgin author writing a book about sex is like a Scotsman writing a cookbook.] with a nonconforming book that cannot be easily classified. If you are interested in reading my entire 77,000-word creative nonfiction memoir/journal, [So, apparently it can be easily classified.] I will happily give you exclusivity, and complete solitude, for six long-ass weeks.

Cheers likesa beers,


Your book consists of thoughts you've had about stuff? And soul theories? It's going to be a hard sell. Look through the book and find the most interesting stuff (interesting to other people, not you) and work it into the query. Next, eliminate everything that's already here. Then see what you have. It's sure to be better than this.

Is the title Book 1? If so, at least naming the sequel won't be hard.

I'm tempted to request the manuscript, not so much in hopes that it will be unintentionally hilarious, but because I like the idea of getting six weeks of complete solitude.

Cartoon 870

Caption: Whirlochre

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Contest Winners

The contest to come up with ideas for cartoons was entered by only two people. I've chosen the following as the only ones that haven't been used already and that I have any hope of illustrating:

From Sylvia:

From McKoala:

Sylvia and McKoala will each receive the EE cartoon DVD. Once a caption has been chosen for both of these cartoons, the author of the funniest caption will also receive their choice of the DVD or a copy of Novel Deviations, while the other captioner will get the leftover prize. (Everyone is eligible for these caption prizes, not just McKoala and Sylvia.)

Face-Lift 882

Guess the Plot


1. The hot new hybrid car model, the Priorus, features plug-in and solar capabilities... and a thirst for its owner's blood.

2. Akyla is a natural mage, the first born in her family. As such she must enter the Priori, where mages learn to control their power. But Akyla soon realizes that the mages aren't being taught--they're being enslaved.

3. Thomas Smallbutt, the prior of Fancy-Shmancy cathedral, suffers from an overabundance of faith. A failure of imagination leads him to believe that sin doesn’t exist. But then the order gets Internet and all hell breaks loose. Now, heaven help him.

4. Sentient machines called "priori" have been enslaved by a megacorporation, and are being driven insane. Mariah has way too much on her plate to worry about the treatment of machines . . . until she falls for one of them.

5. When a major university eliminates the Philosophy Department in a cost-cutting measure, it seems there's no one who'll voice an objection. After all, it was either that or the baseball team. Can the ghost of Saint Thomas Aquinas show the university president the error of his ways?

6. The supervillain known as Chronos has the ability to go back in time one hour, which is making him impossible to catch. Enter the superhero Priori, whose ability to go back in time two hours may allow him to get the upper hand--if he can figure out how to use his power without destroying the fabric of the universe.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

PRIORI is a science fiction novel complete at 90,000 words and available upon request.

Until June 2429, Mariah Saharil's biggest worry is how to make a living as an interstellar smuggler without carrying cargo that harms people. [She's a criminal with moral principles. Think Hannibal Lecter, except he eats only free-range people who've never taken antibiotics.] Then Mariah kills the daughter of the CEO of megacorporation Ardent Industries in an act of self defense. After that, the ethics of cargo transport are the last thing on her mind. [Analogy: Ethical Hannibal Lecter accidentally eats someone with mad cow disease; thereafter he willingly eats criminals and CEOs of megacorporations.]

Mariah and her crew narrowly escape arrest by hijacking a ship and hiding out on a mining station, [If she's an interstellar smuggler, doesn't she have a ship of her own?] but the Ardent Industries CEO won't be robbed of her revenge so easily. Soon a formidable assassin is on Mariah's trail. In a frantic search for information that Mariah can trade to another megacorporation for protection, she uncovers evidence of an abominable [snowman.] [Trust me, the word "abominable" may be used only to describe a snowman. Or Dr. Phibes. Besides, your book is certain to be better if Mariah uncovers evidence of an abominable snowman.] experiment: Ardent Industries is enslaving sentient machines called priori in order to locate paths to other solar systems. [You know a corporation has become a megacorporation when they decide they've become too big for just one solar system.] [The trouble with creating a computer so powerful it becomes sentient is that it can then refuse to compute anything, and if you try to force it, you get accused of byte slavery.] In the process, the priori are being driven insane. [The other problem with creating sentient machines is that you have to provide them with mental heath coverage.]

Mariah can use the evidence she's found to buy her life back or to free the exploited priori, one of whom she finds tragically charming.

But she has to decide fast, because she can't hide from Ardent Industries forever. The assassin will kill her first. ["First" meaning before forever.]

Thank you for your consideration.


Being an assassin is more difficult and more expensive when your target has access to interstellar transportation. Finding someone who has traveled to another solar system is like trying to find someone when all you know is that they're on planet Earth, only harder.

It's not obvious how evidence that priori are being exploited provides the option of buying her life back or freeing the priori, but not both. If she wants her life back, she gives the evidence to another megacorporation and they protect her? If she wants to free the priori she does what with the evidence? Turn it over to the authorities? Wouldn't that put Ardent out of business, giving Mariah her life back as well?

Evil Ad 106

Buy Evil Editor's New Book . . .
Or this weredingo will lase you.

Cartoon 869

Caption: Lonie Polony

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Launch!

Today is the official launch date
of two books
you simply must read.

The launch party is at Phoenix's nest.
Games! Contests! Prizes!

The books are Extinct, a collection of 19 stories about pay phones, typewriters and the book publishing industry, and Evil Editor Teaches School, a collection of 101 stories about Evil Editor (who, coincidentally, is largely responsible for the extinction of the book publishing industry).

The festivities begin at 9 AM eastern and last till Thursday morning. Those authors who haven't decided that this pub credit makes them too big to mingle with the riffraff will be dropping by from time to time to brag about their success. You should get over there right now.

New Beginning 844

The blunt, heavy blade of the axe swished through the humid air, striking its target with a loud thwack; its wielder smiled as he gazed upon his handiwork, the mangled mess that now lay at his feet.

Dismembering tree stumps in the sweltering heat didn’t qualify as a good time in his book, but Vardin did as his uncle had told him. He still didn’t understand why it couldn’t wait until a hint of fall found its way into the summer heat, but he knew his uncle wouldn’t take well to any complaints.

Grunting, Vardin lifted the collection of wood he had chopped that day. He gazed at the tree trunk where the axe’s dull blade rested and wanted to grab the axe. But it would have proved impossible. He shook his head as he turned to head home.

Vardin wiped the sweat from his brow as he staggered through the forest, trying not to drop the bundle of wood cradled in his arms. He had more than enough strength, but it felt awkward in his arms. One of the logs fell to the ground. He thought about picking it up but realized it wasn’t worth the effort; his uncle would never notice.

Lysette was leaning on the white fence outside her Grandmother's cottage, on the path that led from the Forest to Vardin's uncle's house. She smiled at the young man as he struggled down the path. "Well look at you," she said, coyly. "You got wood."

Vardin blushed. "Yes," he replied, out of breath, "but I just dropped a big log in the forest."

And with that, the moment passed.

Opening: Ryan Mueller.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 868

Caption: Lonie Polony

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Face-Lift 881

Guess the Plot

Hungry Coyote's Gambit

1. Coming down from the mountains and into what the people call a town is a risky business... but it’s a risk this hungry coyote’s gotta take.

2. Tired of chasing the uncatchable roadrunner and enduring mishaps that ought to have killed him a hundred times over, Wile E reviews his tactics and settles for easier prey: naïve Route 66 tourists.

3. Ever since Priscilla opened her diner, she’s had her doubts about the name. Selling eggs and sausage to truckers at one in the morning is tricky business, but she never expected her place to become the new hot spot for roadrunners. And who sent her the huge Acme brand anvil?

4. A Chicago business tycoon believes his days of struggling for existence are behind him--until he catches a glimpse of his old rival running down a back alley. This time, he swears, things will be different. This time he OWNS the Acme company!

5. All his life, Lloyd Coyote's felt someone's stacking the cards against him. Then he finds the contract between his dad and a Native American shaman, selling Lloyd's successes for 100 bucks and a keg. Now, Lloyd is off to find Raven and Badger. Can he trick them into giving his successes back?

6. Nezahualcoyotl is tired of people pronouncing his name wrong, so before he sets out to take his land back from Emperor Tezozomoc, he changes his name to Hungry Coyote. Now, win or lose, at least historians will get his name right.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In Hungry Coyote's Gambit, a young prince, determined to take back the city stolen from him by the conquering emperor, endures ten years of lies and deception that lead him from the high courts of his enemies through the caves of his exile.

The catch?

The prince is real. ["This prince actually lived" would make it clear what you mean.] [Also, I don't think "catch" is the right word. Maybe "kicker." Or just say, "Amazingly, this prince actually lived."]

Nezahualcoyotl, an Acolhua prince of Texcoco, hides up a tree and watches his father be [as his father is] assassinated by so-called allies. Before fleeing to a safe city, he risks his life trying to find a way to honor his father's last command--take back the throne. [It seems to me that if you've reached the point of fleeing to another city, you don't make a quick stop to try and take back a throne. You get out, regroup, gather a massive army, and then return to take the throne.] In exile, he develops his reputation as a gambler and a playboy, content to idle away his hours, [Drop that last phrase.] as a cover for his campaign to recover his beloved city. But the death of the conquering emperor Tezozomoc forces Nezahualcoyotl [These names are brutal. Maybe everyone should call him Nez. I feel certain these guys went by Tez and Nez.] to take drastic action by plotting against the heir, Maxtla. The prince-in-exile brings together diverse city-states in order to destroy outside tyranny, and in the end, personally cuts Maxtla's heart out on the sacrificial altar. [I'd drop this last sentence, despite the cool heart-cutting-out; the paragraph is hard enough to follow without bringing in diverse city-states and outside tyranny.]

Over the 157,00 words [Either there's supposed to be another 0, in which case this is awfully long, or that comma is supposed to be a decimal point, in which case it's awfully short.] in Hungry Coyote's Gambit, Nezahualcoyotl comes alive as a riveting blend of playboy, statesman, and warrior, all wrapped up in a poet's insight. [How about "blessed with a poet's insight?"] This sensibility has led modern historians to call him the only human in pre-colonial Mexica (Aztec), [ Is that supposed to be "Mexico?"] [You'd think modern historians would be more politically correct than to claim everyone else was subhuman.] making him an excellent ambassador to spread understanding about the long fallen empire that once stretched throughout Central America.

Thank you for your time,


It's not clear whether this is a novel whose main character actually lived, or a history book. If it's fiction, say so. Tell us what year this takes place. Those names are a major stumbling block, so you'd better make sure everything else is crystal clear. Or update it to a novel about Nez, the alcoholic CEO of Texaco.

I don't see why the death of
Tezozomoc forces Nezahualcoyotl to take drastic action. Can't he wait and see if Max turns out to be a nice guy before literally cutting his heart out?

The first sentence is vague, and the rest of the query doesn't clear it up. Is it his own deception he endures, or someone else's? If he fled to a safe city, what are these "caves of his exile"?

Cartoon 867

Caption: Whirlochre

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Face-Lift 880

Guess the Plot

Bad Thing Coming

1. It’s 2012. the world has plummeted into chaos. Japan has been destroyed by a tsunami and nuclear meltdown. A bloody civil war has erupted in Libya and is spreading throughout the continent of Africa. Gas has become the new currency; instead of wallets, men and women carry five gallon gas cans to the store. Two presidential candidates square off and argue over whether Russia can actually be seen from Alaska. A nonfictional account of the upcoming presidential election.

2. A family starting over in their own personal Eden: thousands of acres of unspoiled forest in a remote mountain community in Arizona. What could go wrong? I mean besides a mob syndicate deciding they want the land, forcing them to flee to Mexico.

3. Harvey Hookem, compulsive gambler, never walks under ladders, steps on cracks, or lets black cats get the best of him. So why has his lucky streak of thirteen years deserted him?

4. Oh, she looks innocent. She's five feet tall, she teaches history, and she's seen a lot of it first hand. But Eric and Jenny are hiding in the supply closet one day when Mrs. Sprill transforms. Can they convince the principal that she's actually a brain-sucking demon before she eats them?

5. The beer truck’s late. The bar’s only damn toilet is busted. And to make matters even worse, some city gal with flashy jewelry and long nails that ain’t never seen an honest day’s work had her car break down right in front of his bar. Things just ain’t going Jake’s way.

6. Betsy was never known as the toughest girl in her school until Claudia messed with her in the girls' locker room. When Claudia winds up in the hospital with a toilet seat around her neck, Betsy's reputation changes forever. Now, when people see her walking to the locker room, they know there's a . . . Bad Thing Coming. But will Betsy's longtime crush be impressed?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Lindsey Hunt and Daniel Burke are two people starting over together at mid-life. They, along with Daniel's daughter, Gabby, and her boyfriend, Trent, live in the remote mountain community of Luna Lake, Arizona.

The family’s peaceful existence is shattered when a mob syndicate tries to kill Lindsey in order to seize the thousands of acres of unspoiled forest she has inherited. [Does the syndicate inherit the land if Lindsey dies? If not, what's the point of killing her?] [What does the mob want with unspoiled forest in Arizona? A Miller's Crossing type place for executions?] When the FBI fails to protect them from the ongoing threat, Lindsey and Daniel are forced to flee protective custody [Who is providing protective custody?] and fend for themselves. Gabby, who has always had a sixth sense about “bad things” as she calls them, [As she calls what? Oh, right, bad things.] leads them on a perilous journey of survival. [How old is Gabby? Calling stuff "bad things" makes her sound like a kid. But she has a boyfriend who lives with them, so . . . ]

Always watching over their shoulders, never feeling safe, Lindsey and Daniel assume new identities and lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where ultimately their journey ends and they learn the true identity of those who have betrayed them. [In what way were they betrayed? What about the thousand-acre wood? Does the mob get it?]

I am seeking representation for my suspense/thriller entitled Bad Thing Coming. I would like the opportunity to send you a copy of the manuscript, which is complete at approximately 105,000 words. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.



Whattaya mean their journey ends? That's it? The mob threatens them, they flee to Mexico, the end? Where does the suspense/thriller come in? What's this perilous journey of survival that's barely mentioned? Do they head for Mexico on foot with Al Capone hot on their trail?

Cartoon 866

Caption: Stacy

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flow Chart

Disadvantages of putting Evil Tweets on Twitter
1. Those who want to enjoy Evil Tweets have to be on Twitter to do so.
2. I have to be on Twitter.

Advantages of putting Evil Tweets on Twitter
1. Can promote EE blog to new audience, getting us more openings and queries to savage. And more Evil Tweets to continue.
2. I don't have to count words or characters to see if Tweeters are cheating because Twitter counts them.

I could still choose the funniest continuation for each Evil Tweet on Twitter and post it on the blog for the enjoyment of those who don't care to be on Twitter.

Evil Ad 105

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Evil Tweet 8

Tarkin could feel the headache sneaking up his spine. He was pretty sure it was going to settle behind his eyes and turn into an all day affair.

Evil Tweet 7

Glenn Razzovich didn’t consider himself a career criminal—just a successful one. He glanced around to verify he wasn’t being observed by a nosy neighbor, but at three o’clock

Evil Tweet 6

Nine o'clock in the morning, and the porn fiend was right on time.

Saturday Film Series

Friday, March 18, 2011

Evil Tweet 5

Anaiiya had approached the Tower many times—always prior to sunset. To venture near the monolith at night was dangerous and foolish. Perhaps even suicidal.


Evil Tweet 4

It was raining slowly, as if the drops were reluctant to leave the damp blanket of clouds that blotted out the recently risen sun. At first,


Evil Twit Revised

Evil Twit has decided that providing feedback on 140-character openings would be less useful than providing continuations to show the authors where their pieces should go. Thus the instructions in the post below this one have already been changed. Expect Evil Twit to do other evil things without warning.

Meet Evil Twit

He sits there looking evil whenever an Evil Tweet is posted.

An Evil Tweet is the first 140 characters (or 25 words, if you don't care to count to 140) of an author's book or story. Your job is to continue the story (in the comment trail), bringing it to a conclusion, without exceeding your own limit of 140 characters (or 25 words).

You may also email your own Evil Tweet to Put "Evil Tweet" in the subject line.

Evil Tweet 3

Clotilde clutched the dead man's wallet as if it could save her. She shoved her way through the commuters with a single focus: get to the


Evil Tweet 2

It was noodles. Noodles with vegetabled vegetables. Fawn served it, calling it “pappardelle with herbed peas and artichokes.” Jean wanted to run.

--Mother (Re)produces

Evil Tweet 1

“Jackass,” I muttered under my breath, as I watched my father leave and strut like a preening peacock in heat to his car. Gloria, my mother, who sat perched in


Cartoon 865

Caption: Stacy

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Beginning 843

She sat, legs crossed under the table, an arm draped across the shiny surface while the other hand supported her thin face, looking posed. Her bordering on too long fingernails, sporting chipped nail polish, tapped a rhythm across one of her high cheekbones; probably bored out of her mind and already disinterested. At first glance, her flaming crimson hair seemed more like a wig, but roots don't lie. It flared around her head like its own version of the sun.

Drei stood next to me, tall and powerful. It had been his idea for me to meet with her. Caroline, he insisted, would help me to learn what it was I was supposed to do. She already had a following—however small it might have been—and a plan. I had neither. Not to mention I didn’t have a clue where to start.

“Are you sure that's her?” I whispered, feeling anxious. There was something in her demeanor that made me feel endangered. But Drei wouldn't purposely put me in harm's way. He had spent the five years we had known each other keeping me safe. He was my rock, my love; I trusted him.

I sat down across from Caroline while Drei seated himself to my right. There was nothing to indicate she had even noticed us; she just continued tapping her nails. After a minute I couldn’t stand it anymore.


She gave the tiniest nod of her head and her eyes finally set on me.

“I…I’m told you can teach me what I’m supposed to do. That you have a small following, and…and a plan?”

“I do have a following. Yes, I can teach you what to do. But I doubt you have what it takes.”

Her casual rejection of my potential was painful, but only motivated me to prove her wrong.
“Could you show me please?”

“All right. First lean your elbow on the table. Yes, like that. Now tap that cheekbone missy! Let me hear some Usher! Prove you have what it takes to make it in the cheekbone-tapping music business!”

Opening: Teagen Marie.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 864

Caption: John

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Face-Lift 879

Guess the Plot


1. Fred "Watermelon-head" Weiskopf always wondered why his mother never liked him. On his 18th birthday, his dad took him aside and explained why.

2. Cats have nine lives, but Lindsay isn’t sure how many high school girls are supposed to have. After dying and coming back to life twice before she turned 16, she’s determined that this life will be her last.

3. Twins Andra and Andy stumble into an assassination plot that could mean war, but preventing it won't be easy, especially as Andy's already the victim of an assassination attempt, or at least he will be in twelve hours when he finally dies from the stab wound he just got.

4. Dirk Beefhead is a born-again Christian who's been born yet again, this time in the era of Christ. Now it's time to find out whether people in Biblical times will accept or stone a guy named Dirk Beefhead.

5. Melissa, Amanda, and Avery, the princess triplets from Alahazarc, were swept away at birth to the three corners of the land by the evil minions of the Dragon Prince, who plots to leave the rightful King and Queen grief-stricken heirless. But on their sixteenth birthday, the triplets finally meet. From there it's all a matter of sword fighting, fire breathing reptiles and fending off deceitful ragamuffins. If only the girls could stop making out with their endless string of beaus long enough to keep their heads in the game!

6. After discovering Jesus on the Tammy Faye Baker TV show, Jeff Smith was 'born again' as a Christian. He still drank, smoked, and cheated on his wife. Then one dark and stormy night his car hit a tree. Next thing -- he's reborn as a gnat. Oops. Now he must find a way to build good karma as a bug, or spend infinite lives as an insect. But what good can a gnat do?

7. He remembers growing up on a farm in 17th century Bavaria and coming-of-age in his tribe in 19th century Africa. Now, with the hormone rush of puberty (again) comes the remembrance of reincarnation (again) along with Adam/Agwa/Amanda's overwhelming desire to play with his own tits.

8. Corey has flashbacks of his two previous lives. He clocked-up enough bad karma in each to curse him for the next forty incarnations. With his trusty time machine, he can travel back to visit his previous selves - but can he talk himself out of the evil deeds?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I would like you to consider my YA urban fantasy, THRICE-BORN, complete at 70,000 words.

Seventeen years old Andra’s life is full. On top of dealing with the aftermath of drunken sex with the best friend whose advances she’d previously rejected, concealing the growing pain caused by her fractured soul, she also has to make a choice that will determine her standing in Octavian society. [I'd get rid of "concealing the growing pain caused by her fractured soul," as it's too vague.] As a mere Initiate, she is powerless until she makes her Offering and chooses a Discipline: the spiritual Dyaus who sacrifice a piece of their spirit at the risk of madness, or the immoral but powerful Prithvi, who offer blood. [Seventeen-year-old. Hyphens make it one word, and changing "years" to "year" makes it nounish. Sort of like saying auto mechanic Andra... She's seventeen, but she's a seventeen-year-old. But enough about that. Her life is full? That, to me, is a good thing. Who doesn't want to have a life that's full? But you describe a life that sucks. A more accurate opening line would be: Seventeen-year-old Andra is having a bad week. Substitute that and see how much better it reads. Of course, that may not be the tone you're going for, as it sounds a bit casual, if not flippant. But come up with something that suggests her plate is full. Like Seventeen-year-old Andra's plate is full.] [Also, it's unclear what you mean when you say the Prithvi "offer blood."] [Actually, the whole paragraph is pretty unclear.]

Andra’s life takes a dramatic turn when a mercenary Disciple attacks her astral twin, Andy, and stabs him with a cursed dagger. [Sounds like it's Andy's life that's taken a dramatic turn.] If she can’t destroy the spell draining his life, her brother will die in twelve hours. [Is Andy her twin brother? If so, why call him her astral twin?] Complications arise [It sounded pretty complicated already.] as Andra finds out that the Disciple holding the spell is her best friend’s estranged mother, the Prithvi Priestess Alazne. Andra and the rest of her friends battle time, family, and secrets best left buried [No need to mention secrets unless you're going to reveal what they are.] as they risk everything to save Andy, and stumble in the middle of an assassination plot [When you've got a cursed dagger protruding from your gut, it's hard to concern yourself with some other assassination plot that you stumble on.] that could throw their society back into war.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


What's the point of stabbing someone with a cursed dagger that kills him in twelve hours? If you want him dead, a standard everyday dagger will do the job in a lot less than twelve hours. Even a cursed dagger might kill him quickly if you stab him in the right place. Was he stabbed in the foot?

It's not clear what making an Offering means. In fact, it's not clear what the plot is, unless the majority of the book takes place in the twelve hours after Andy gets stabbed.

The first plot paragraph is complicated and unclear. Dump the whole thing; it's a turn-off. Start over. Tell us who Andra is. Then: Andra's twin brother Andy has twelve hours to live, thanks to a spell put on him by the priestess Alazni. How can she save him? Who's trying to prevent her from saving him? How is this connected with the assassination plot/war? Keep it simple.

Cartoon 863

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Query Surge

Not really, but I did discover that back in 2006 Miss Snark the Literary Agent ran a lottery to determine which of her Snarklings' queries she would post, and ten of the lottery losers sent their queries to Evil Editor. Those queries didn't get the full treatment (Guess the Plot, featured appearance on this blog), so I can use them to get us through this dry spell. I assume few if any of the authors are still reading this blog, but they may be. At least one of the ten books was published.

Of course we'll need fake plots before we can put the new queries to use. The titles are in the queue.

The Future of Evil?

We seem to have a recurring problem. Once again we have no openings in the queue. There's one query, but not enough fake plots. Do I have to offer an incentive to get writers to submit? A weekly drawing among all submitters, winner gets an Evil Editor coffee mug?

The graph above shows the number of visitors to Evil Editor's blog over its entire lifespan. You'll note that I've labeled a number of spots where the number spiked and I've also labeled a few troughs.

....A...........EE agrees to critique query letters for free.
....B...........EE agrees to critique openings.
....C...........EE posts photo of naked woman.
....D...........EE posts cartoon depicting an agent being tortured.
....E...........EE takes day off; Evil Jr. does blog.
....G...........EE wins 1st Nobel Prize for Blogging.
....H...........Dominos provides free beer and pizza on EE's blog.
TV Guide announces EE to compete on Dancing with the Stars.

....F............Miss Snark retires; Blogosphere in mourning.
....I.............Twitter gets hot; readers can now be entertained in 140 characters.
....J............Twitter credited with world peace. Blogs suddenly irrelevant.
....L............EE posts confusing graph instead of useful post.

The writing appears to be on the wall. For Evil Editor to remain relevant, he must transform himself into Evil Twit. Critique the first 140 characters of people's novels. This may seem ridiculous, but some agents already are accepting only tweeted submissions. Hell, Hannah Rogers accepts only the first sentence. It's what the world is coming to, and if we don't adapt we'll be left behind.

However, before shifting to Twitter, I'd better confirm that there's a demand for critiques of the first 140 characters. So, submit as a comment to this post the first 140 characters (or fewer) of your current WIP. We'll see how it goes. If you don't have a program that counts characters, and you don't feel like counting them yourself, limit yourself to 25 words.

Cartoon 862

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Beginning 842

It wasn’t so very long ago, even by mortal years, when men offered up their sons and daughters for sacrifice on Beltane night. The world, as a consequence, grew strong, for blood holds powerful magic, especially when freely spilled and freely given.

My people grew strong as well.

The Tylwyth Teg our Welsh cousins called us -- the Fair Folk. Not that they believed us fair. Cold and cruel we were to them. They only named us so from fear, exchanging flattery for our goodwill. In the Old Days, when magic ran like wild heather across the land, it was easy to forget men held the power and that our fate was bound in theirs.

But cliff by cliff and moor by moor, our land was lost to men who knew us not. Who feared us not. Who eschewed the Old Laws that ensured the balance between fae and mortal worlds alike. The new kings whose fathers’ fathers had been born far to our east insisted their law take rule. Civilized Law, they named it, as if naming a thing made it so. As if naming a thing made it right.

And one among them, a leader, did hold forth and rail against us. We were “responsible for all the wars in the world,” he said, and claimed we had murdered his savior. Though he came from an island of criminals, far away to the east, he was celebrated by the humans. They accorded unto him great power, wealth, and respect.

Aye, we learned to hate and fear him, this one they called 'Mel Gibson'.

Opening: Anon......Continuation: swcc

Cartoon 861

Caption: Whirlochre

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Beginning 841

A cool breeze rustled the crepe myrtles’ leaves in the dying light. The greasy scent of hotdog cart food permeated the air. My stomach rumbled.

“I told him to stop texting while I was at work,” Mary From Accounting droned on as we took the escalator down to the Metro station. That was how Mare introduced herself – “Mary From Accounting.”

The bigger tragedy was she could get a date and I couldn’t.

Right before the turnstiles was a bank of phone booths. The Metro was one of the few places you could still find them in the District of Columbia. A blur of dark hair seized my attention as we got off the escalator. A burly shape crouched in the second booth. The glass walls bowed around him. Thick fingers clutched the receiver. The other hand hovered just above the floor.

“You see that?” I asked.

“What?” Mare peered into the crowd as if hopeful for fight.

“No, that.” I pointed.

“I thought they’d gotten rid of all the phone booths.”

“Doesn’t that look like a gorilla?”

"Looks like a Bulgarian," Mare said. "Gorillas don't make phone calls. For one thing they don't have pockets, so where would they keep the coins? Also, they can't talk. On the other hand, I don't think Bulgarians make phone calls either. Maybe it's an Armenian."

"Maybe it's a guy in a gorilla suit," I said. "Do gorilla suits have pockets?"

"I would think if you're going out dressed as an animal, and you need a pocket, you'd go as a kangaroo."

"Actually, it
does look like a kangaroo. Or a guy in a kangaroo suit. There's the train, come on."

Opening: King's Falcon.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Cartoon 860

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.