Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Beginning 879

I'm worried about my family picnic. Why?

My upstairs neighbor Ruth Cohen, widow on a pension, says, "such angst I've never seen" and my downstairs neighbor Patsy, a retired hit man, says, "drink a little wine, eat some linguini, take the cannoli." Cecily and Tina, the lesbian line chefs, offered to cook and pretend to be my girlfriends. That's why I’m worried.

I rented grove three in Mingo Park. Three's nice, away from the drunks at the ball fields, away from the covered bridge photographers traipsing through the poison ivy, away from the trout stream sans trout that now attracting children in leaky, poison-filled diapers. This might actually work, I think. But still, I worry Half the members of my family raise chickens and pigs and still got that big, old six-foot satellite dish rusting next to the coop, the other half are city folk, pretending they ain't related to the first half.

I might die before I stop worrying.

* * *

"That's it? That's all it says?"

"That's all it says, lieutenant. We found it next to the, ah, remains."

"Well, I guess we should be thankful we've got something to go on. Lucky the ants didn't eat that as well."

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 983

Caption: Wilkins MacQueen

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Beginning 878

The broken glass of the windshield spiraled out like a web. The girl’s skull had shattered it on impact. Now her body slumped against the door of the vehicle, eyes staring out.

Even in the dim light, I knew she was dead.

Not so for the man in the driver’s seat. His breath came out in little rasps. I reached in through the window and touched his head. Just a little jolt, to blur his memories. When he came to, the scene would tell a story his mind could not place. He’d see the front of the vehicle smashed in, and the body of a buck sprawled out before it.

And he would know what had happened.

As for the girl, the one who’d climbed into his car a few miles back, well . . . He wouldn’t even remember her.

I dragged her body into the woods. Even in the darkness, she was a wonder to behold. Once a living organism, filled with possibility. Now a bag of skin containing sharp secrets.

Her blood stained my gloves.

I stripped off her clothes with less care than I’d like to admit. Underneath, she was as pale as I am. Her hair was a duller shade of red, but that was no surprise. What human would have hair like mine? If I wanted to pass as one of them, everything about me would have to be dimmed.

My wings rustled at the thought of it.

Her clothes were bigger than I anticipated and hung loosely from my body. But still it felt good, to be a little more like them. But smarter. Thanks to their genetic meddling, I was so much smarter, now.

I remembered the look on his face, as I had crossed the road in front of them. His wide eyes. The silent "Why?!" that his mouth screamed as the car swerved toward the tree.

Why? Because it's time for the oppressed to become free. Steel yourself, mankind, steel yourself for the rise of the planet of the chickens.

Opening: Chelsea P......Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 982

Caption: Wilkins MacQueen

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Face-Lift 947

Guess the Plot

Artificial Friendship

1. When you're an editor, is there really any other kind?

2. Charlie, the lonely school geek, builds a beautiful robot companion to hang out with. When she develops an independent streak that he never programmed, he's not sure whether to press her off-switch or try to win her silicon heart.

3. Shy, geeky nerd Grover Washington hides in class, gets straight As and is routinely given wedgies by classmates. If only he were like Stormward, the Blood elf he plays in World of Warcraft where he's in a guild with Horace the Dwarf and Meg the Gnome. When he learns that they're in his math class, will hilarity ensue?

4. Cassia's father gives her the best birthday present ever: Annie, an android friend. When Annie protects Cassia from a bird attack, instead of fleeing as it was programmed to do, the android's inventor wants to dismantle it. Ha! Over Cassia's dead body!

5. It's the answer to the prayers of sad and lonely people everywhere: robots programmed to become their best friends! Roy's Robotics thinks they have a surefire winner on their hands. Then someone turns on the robots in the factory. And they all befriend each other.

6. Lonely programmer Wesley Walters invents the Friend3000, a robot with artificial intelligence that is a boon to the detached and disaffected. All is well-- until the Friend3000 wins the Republican nomination for president.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Cassia first meets ANNIE, her initial reaction is delight – not only did her absentminded father finally remember her birthday, he has given her a wonderful present. ANNIE is the latest prototype of the android FRIENDs, whose friendship "lasts forever", the perfect gift for a girl with few friends.

However, a freak accident at the park soon changes Cassia's joy to concern, not for herself but for ANNIE. As a prototype, ANNIE's primary programming should have sent the android away from danger, [;] instead she protected the girl from an attack of genetically altered birds. [Even if Cassia somehow knows the birds have been genetically altered, it's not clear in what way. Maybe they should be described as vicious or savage or monstrous or malevolent. Or birds that make Hitchcock's look like lovebirds.] The daughter of a scientist who works on androids, Cassia knows such programming cannot malfunction without shutting down the android itself.

What allowed ANNIE to override that programming? Cassia is not the only one who wants the answer to this question. Branston, the mysterious inventor of FRIENDs, [Mysterious in that he has only one name.] [Instead of Branston call him Brainstorm. Sounds more like a supervillain.] plans to investigate the matter thoroughly, even if it means dismantling the android. However, Cassia won't let someone [anyone] destroy ANNIE, not after what happened, and certainly not without a fight.

At 58,000 words, Artificial Friendship is a science fiction novel for teens. The completed manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for considering my work.



A nice query. To me it sounds like middle grade, even if Cassia's older, but of course I don't have the whole plot.

Perhaps the bird attack could be called an incident or an occurrence rather than an accident. And how much danger are these birds to an android?

If I invented an android friend, and I had to choose between programming it to handle danger by protecting its owner or by fleeing, I'm not sure how I'd justify choosing flight. Does this so-called "friend" also bully Cassia and steal her boyfriend?

I realize Annie's a prototype, but it's being given to a kid. It should be programmed to act like a friend forever, not a self-absorbed coward. What is Brainstorm's sales pitch when he sells Annie to Cassia's father? "It's just like the version that'll be in Best Buy, except I've programmed it to run away anytime your daughter is in danger."?

Now, if the android were programmed not to hurt humans, but shoved down a kid who was bullying Cassia, that would be a more controversial flaw. True, any flaw could mean there are others, but dismantling the kid's friend because it saved her from being pecked to death by ferocious finches? Not good.

Cartoon 981

Caption: Roger Eschbacher

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Cartoon 980

Caption: anon.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Face-Lift 946

Guess the Plot

Lost in Atlanta

1. After an appearance at a science fiction convention in Atlanta, the cast of the TV show Lost can't find their way out of the city, leading many to speculate that their inability to get off the island was a result of stupidity.

2. 1862. Mary Jacobs runs away from her abusive master, heading for the North and freedom. When she follows a strange purple light in the woods, she ends up in modern Atlanta. With just the clothes on her back and the two silver coins in her kerchief, can she survive MARTA, hip-hop and Waffle House?

3. Birdie runs away from home to live in the streets of Atlanta. All she ever wanted was a normal life, so when a stranger offers her a fortune to go back in time and free the souls of hundreds of Viking warriors, she jumps at the opportunity.

4. With endless instructions to "turn left on Peachtree", and over 20 streets in the city by that name, Reginald Wasserhaus gets more and more lost. Finally he takes the subway to Lenox Square and sits down and has a Chick-Fil-A and a good cry.

5. A purple alligator-skin wallet, a single hiking boot, and a pair of pink satin boxer shorts-- it's just another day in the Lost and Found office at the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport. Except that there's a little red suitcase on shelf 14B, and the sounds of tiny voices in heated conversation are issuing from inside it. In ancient Sanskrit.

6. When three pre-schoolers disappear from a daycare center in Atlanta, their parents are frantic and furious. Until the daycare manager points out that there are worse fates than being . . . lost in Atlanta.

Original Version

Seventeen-year-old runaway, [Comma not needed.] Birdie Orin will [would] attempt [do] almost anything to gain [have] the normal life that’s eluded her until now. [Sorry, I'll stop nitpicking.] After eight foster homes, her life isn’t improving any. [Do we need that sentence? We already know she's a runaway who's miserable. And it's not like foster parents are all serial torturers.] Atlanta’s city streets make a hostile home until she meets two men that change her life.

The first: a bearded stranger in a trench coat who informs her she’s the last descendant of an ancient Nordic tribe, and gives her an amulet which grants supernatural abilities to its wearer. He promises fortune and power [Power? What kind of power?] if she accepts a quest to free the souls of hundreds of Viking warriors. [I'm imagining how I would react if a bearded stranger in a trench coat told me all of this. I think I'd slowly back away from him and then start sprinting.] Traveling back in time, her task is to release her brethren trapped in a spell cast by one of two rival kings. [You've described Birdie as someone whose sole wish is to have a normal life. Is that type of person likely to care so much about fortune and power that she buys into this Viking story?]

The second: Grey Matthews, the boy who just bought her breakfast. Wary of dependence on anyone, Grey becomes her unlikely guardian and as they work together to master the magic of the amulet Grey works to break down the walls Birdies [Birdie's] built around her heart.

They have only months to master their new skills before she and Grey must travel through time to find the means of destroying the amulet, before those who would use its power for evil find them. [Those who would use its power for evil are looking for them? Who are they? Do they know Birdie has the amulet? If so, why will it take months for them to get to her? If not, how are they going to find out?] [I assumed the task was to go back in time and free the Vikings' souls, and the amulet was needed to accomplish this. Now you're saying the task is to go back in time and destroy the amulet.] [Is the amulet needed for time travel? If so, and they destroy the amulet in the past, how do they get home?]

Kind Regards,


The query is clearly written (I assume you'll put in word count, book title, etc.), but as you see, it inspires many questions. Decide whether you can efficiently answer some of them in the query. Here are a few more:

Was the amulet used by the king to cast the spell?

If so . . .

If Birdie goes back in time with the amulet, will the king who had the amulet back then still have it? Will Birdie still have it? Will there be two amulets?

If not . . .

Why can't she just destroy the amulet in present time?

Can she just throw the amulet to the bottom of the ocean instead of finding the means to destroy it?

Why does this bearded stranger care about these Vikings if he's not one of their descendants?

I assume there's a good reason Birdie's parents and grandparents and great grandparents etc. weren't approached about performing this task?

I'm not clear on what the amulet does. Birdie needs it to break the spell and someone else wants it to do evil. Does it just allow its owner to do anything they want?

How are Birdie and Grey supposed to figure out how it works?

Cartoon 979

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Beginning 877

"Bless me Father, you you have sinned, and we both know what you did. You have never confessed because you thought you were safe..."

"This is the confessional of the Holy Church. A sacrament..."

"Yes it is, Father. And this is a gun. It's pointed at you. All you have to do is yell out and I'll be caught. You'll be dead but I'll be caught."

There was a long pause. The barrel of the automatic pressed against the grill of the confession booth.

"You are sick, my son, and in the name of the Lord I am willing to hear your confession."

"You are afraid, Father. Now, follow me out of the church. There's a small crowd, they won't miss you stirring sermon. Walk with me, Father."

Father Constant rose slowly, left the confessional, and walked out of the Church of St Aloysius.

Three blocks on, down a dim alley, the gunman turned to confront the priest. "Right. Now we-- What the...? Shit! Where'd he go?"

Even so devout a priest as Father Constant could see what the gunman did not: Sometimes, faith alone is not sufficient.

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

Cartoon 978

Caption: Anon.

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Success Story

Jennifer Allis Provost reports that her novel Heir to the Sun (Face-Lift 805) is now available from Fantastic Books.

She credits the minions with her success, and admits that her decision not to change Ehkron's name to Honker, as recommended by EE, will come back to bite her in the ass.
Cover at Amazon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Face-Lift 945

Guess the Plot

Angel's Wings

1. Angel-in-training Serissa uses her spare time to investigate how she died, and learns that she and her angel mentor were involved in a web of betrayal. Did the Big Kahuna know about this, or is He slipping in His old age?

2. Competition in Buffalo's hot wing industry is hot. Maybe too hot. That's what Angel learns when he comes into work and finds his manager head-first in the hot sauce. Angel needs to solve the crime but his chicken disguise won't keep him hidden for long.

3. If Zeke can save one more innocent person from temptation, he can fulfill his basic training as a guardian angel and earn his wings. Too bad new charge Amanda Jeffries is not making this one easy.

4. It's 1942, and Angel Rodriguez is determined to enlist in the US Air Force and become a bomber pilot. There's just one hang-up: he's only ten.

5. Archaeologist Hensley Carpenter unearths a fossilized set of wings near Bethlehem, setting off a theological battle between religious fundamentalists who say it proves angels exist and environmental fundamentalists who say it proves giant condors once inhabited the Middle East.

6. When the California Angels baseball team unveil their new uniforms, which include actual wings, opposing managers complain that this will give them an unfair advantage. Later, when it's revealed that the Angels can't actually fly, and that the cumbersome wings give them a huge disadvantage, the objections are withdrawn.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Editor,

Life sucks. Death isn't much better. Fifteen year old Serissa Williams knows that first hand. [Shouldn't that have been "Life sucked."?] After dying, Serissa awakes in the afterlife and is presented with two choices: spend the rest of eternity doing nothing, [Is this heaven or hell?] or recieve [i before e except after c.] an Imprint and become an angel. [Do we need "receive an Imprint and"? I don't even know what it means.] She picks the wings and becomes an Angel-In-Training. [Typical schedule of Angel-in-Training:

8 AM - 10 AM: Harp lessons
10:00 - 10:15 AM: Morning break
10:15 - Noon: Glee club
Noon - 1 PM: Lunch (angel hair with diavolo sauce)
1 PM - 3 PM: Flying lessons
3 PM - 3:15 PM: Afternoon break
3:15 - 5 PM: Praising God (who tries to remain humble)
5 - 7 PM: Dinner (babyback ribs)
7 - 8 PM: Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune
8 - 10 PM: Acting lessons for appearances in film and TV
10 -11 PM: Polishing other Angels' halos]

Assisted by her dark and sexy mentor Kieran-- an angel with attitude-- [God appreciates attitude--but not too much attitude. You saw what happened to Satan.] she begins to learn the ropes of being an angel all the while trying to figure out how she died in the first place. Soon, the threads of memories begin to unravel and she discovers that her death and Kieran's past are deeply intertwined in a web of love, betrayal, pain and death. [If the threads of memories unravel, I wouldn't expect her to discover anything. Use "untangle" if you insist on the thread metaphor. Or just say the memories return.]

Angel's Wings is a YA Romance Fantasy novel of 50,421 words. This is my first novel and it would be a great honor to me if you would consider it for publishing. [Drop that sentence.] I recently started a blog as well which has some samples of writing already up. It's [And those two.]

Thank you for your time.


Your plot, which was all one paragraph until I broke it up with my angel-in-training schedule should be broken into two paragraphs there. And you'll still have room for a third paragraph to tell us what happens after Serissa regains her memories, which I assume is the book's main plot thread.

I'm not crazy about the opening sentences. You might consider opening: Fifteen year old Serissa Williams awakes in the afterlife and is presented with two choices: spend the rest of eternity lounging around doing nothing, or become an angel.

Of course you could change "doing nothing" to something that sounds a bit less boring. If doing nothing and being an angel are the only choices, there'd be billions of angels. Unless angel boot camp is a real killer.

Cartoon 977

Caption: Wilkins MacQueen/Khazar-khum

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Face-Lift 944

Guess the Plot

Legacy of a Mad Scientist

1. Assorted beakers, flasks and test tubes, an operating table, a million-watt generator, and a big red lever next to a sign that says PULL ONLY IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. Loretta's wondering if the lever opens a secret room in which her father kept emergency funds.

2. A five-year-old Cadillac, two TVs, four thousand dollars, a filing cabinet full of tax returns dating to the fifties, and a key that opens a door to another dimension. Yep, Uncle Ralph left Arlene one hell of an estate.

3. A $900 Subaru? That's it? Sheila is pissed, until she discovers it can fly, float, and submerge. But there's a strange, glowing green lump under the dashboard. And it's getting bigger.

4. Pretty much nothing . . . except a blueprint for blowing up entire cities in one massive chain-reaction! And since his daughter Ashley is a cybernetic killing machine, it's pretty much just what she wanted.

5. To win the upcoming San Francisco Cocktail showdown -- and the notice of the hot local food+drink critic -- Alice Fries must uncover the secret of her father's legendary freeze gun. Will she succeed, or turn the guests into drunk popsicles?

6. At the reading of the will, Cindy discovers that her beloved and departed uncle was a mad scientist. He left her a small metal chest. Tied around it with a red ribbon is a note saying: ‘Do not open near candy’. Also, a talking pig!

Original Version

Dr. Fox is the smartest man in the world [That's something I'd expect to read if this is a book for children. If the book is for adults, include his first name and make him the second smartest man in the world. It's amusing, and it hooks the reader into wondering who could possibly be smarter than Dr. Fox. If the book is for children, make Dr. Fox an actual fox.] and his own worst enemy. Ergo, can he possibly be smart enough to outwit himself? [Ergo? Make that: But is he smart enough to outwit his clone?]

His daughter, Ashley, is a cybernetic killing-machine, programmed to protect her younger brother, Geoff, at all costs. [If this is YA, and Ashley is the MC, make her the subject of the first paragraph. We'd much rather read about a cybernetic killing machine named Ashley than the smartest man in the world.]

When Dr. Fox discovers a kitchen-sink method for blowing up entire cities in one massive chain-reaction, he becomes a threat to national security, and has to be eliminated. [On the other hand, he's also a threat to the national security of his country's enemies, and has to be protected at all costs.]

Now Ashley and Geoff are on the run, [Why?] and not from the enemy but towards them. [Who are they on the run from, and who is the enemy?]


The government wants Fox eliminated. How are Ashley and Geoff involved? Focus on the main character. I can't even tell who the main character is.

If you can't be bothered to provide more of your query letter than the plot summary, at least give us the genre/audience. It's hard to give useful feedback on a query for a book that could be intended for adults or fifth graders.

As for what's here, it's little more than an outline. Combine the first three paragraphs into one. That's your setup. Then give us two more paragraphs in which you tell us who wants what, what's at stake, and what happens. Don't just list stuff, tell an intriguing story. And don't forget that the plot summary is only part of this business letter.

Cartoon 976

Caption: Anon.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Face-Lift 943

Guess the Plot


1. The latest fashion at Swan's school; shiny. One little capsule and you'll glow in the dark for 24 hours. Everyone's doing it. Is it Swan's imagination, or do they get more and more zombie-like with each dose?

2. Glimmer, the elf who delivers the world's sunshine and happiness every morning in bright pink baskets, is captured by a grumpy gnome who doesn't want anyone to be happy ever again. Can Betsy and Bobby save the day?

3. A glimmer of hope. That's all high school student Kalin wants as she sets out to rescue her mom from kidnappers. When she finds out her mother is actually the immortal Morgan le Fay, she can only say one thing. WTF?

4. Lost in the woods at night, Kirene sees a distant flash of light. Is it a cabin? And if so, is it the cabin of a witch or a kindhearted soul or a serial killer? To find out you'll have to read the book, because the query only takes you as far as the door.

5. An old jeweler hands Anika a sparkling gem, and tells her to place it under her pillow for good luck. What he doesn't tell her is that her dreams will now be controlled by the gem. And will all come true.

6. There's something shiny bobbing up and down in the ocean. And Nick has been practicing his swimming. It doesn't look that far. He thinks he can make it out there. But can he make it back? Probably not, but if it's a bottle with a genie inside, he won't have to.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Recently, NYT bestselling author, Cassandra Clare introduced me to Eric Paquette, Senior VP of Productions for Screen Gems. During one of our conversations, I told Eric [Even if you're now on a first-name basis with him, in the query I'd refer to him as Mr. Paquette.] about my book and he has requested to read it. His wife, screenwriter Jessica Postigo, has also requested to read my novel. [I haven't seen this much name dropping in the first paragraph of a query letter since the guy who opened by saying My style has been compared to Twain and Harte, Vonnegut and Hiaasen, and Marlowe and Spillane. I never did get around to asking if he meant fictional character Philip Marlowe or Elizabethan poet/playwright Christopher Marlowe.] [The bad news is that Eric and Jessica, being married, will buy (at most) one copy between them if the book is published.] [You've devoted an entire paragraph of your query to naming three people who haven't read your book. If you're gonna do that, why not name people the reader is sure to be familiar with: It has been suggested to me that Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and the late Humphrey Bogart would enjoy my book.] [According to Wikipedia, "first time writer" Jessica Postigo has been hired to write the screenplay of Cassandra Clare's latest novel, which is being produced by Screen Gems. Which invites the question: When you hire your inexperienced wife to write a screenplay for a movie you're producing, are you allowed to pay her twice the going rate?] [By now you've caught on that you must delete that entire paragraph, so let's move on.]

When seventeen-year-old Kalin woke up that morning, she thought the only disruption to her predictable day would be a scheduled visit from her mostly absent Mom. [There's no need to say "that morning," if you don't reveal what morning you're talking about. We can deduce that it's some morning from the context of the sentence.] But from the moment she left her house with her best friend Cori, things just escalated from strange to way past weird. First, during an impromptu visit to a psychic, [On her way to school?] she had a vision of a glass castle. Then, she finds a spellbook in her locker that she just can't get rid of. [I see we've switched from past tense to present.] But, none of those things compare to [Those weren't "things."] going to work and being attacked by some hot guy that turns out to be a black-blooded evil faery, then being rescued by none other than her guidance counselor who tells her that she must go to mystical Avalon to help find her missing mother. [That paragraph is way too wordy. I would trim it to something like:

Seventeen-year-old Kalin isn't expecting Friday to be much different from any other day, so when she's attacked by a black-blooded evil faery and rescued by none other than her guidance counselor, she wonders if she's dreaming. The "guidance" she gets from her counselor doesn't exactly clear things up; he tells her she must go to mystical Avalon to rescue her missing mother.]

Once in Avalon, Kalin learns that her mother is Morgan le Fay, the immortal high court faery queen. The lies continue to unravel as she discovers that her best friend Cori is a faery princess and her guidance counselor a faery knight. [How have all these people managed to hide their dual identities from Kalin for seventeen years? Her best friend is a faery princess in Avalon, and she has no idea? That friendship is over.] Kalin must push aside her own feelings so that she can rescue her Mom from a new faction of faeries bent on destroying Avalon. Unfortunately, faeries have their own set of rules and a system of courts that are too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. Throughout her adventure, Kalin does make some new friends including Rowan, a sexy and dangerous fae with his own secrets. [You're just listing random stuff. You should be telling the story.]

Glimmer, my 66,000-word young adult fantasy manuscript can be described as a Mists of Avalon (Marion Eleanor Zimmer ) [What the? The name on her book cover is Marion Zimmer Bradley.] meets Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr). [Yes, Morgan le Fay is in Mists of Avalon, and there are faeries in Wicked Lovely, but . . . ] This modern day faery tale has elements of Arthurian and Scottish mythology including some twists on well-known characters from legend. The novel is set in Baltimore, but also visits Avalon, Las Vegas, and Brittany, France.

I am a freelance writer and co-owner of the YA Fantasy Guide that focuses on the young adult fantasy genre. [This leads me to assume you must be familiar with the YA novel Glimmerglass. (Which is confirmed by a visit to your site and a click on "Fairies," Glimmerglass being the top book listed.) Admittedly your book, Glimmer, is about a girl who goes from Baltimore to Avalon to find her mother, while Glimmerglass is about a girl who goes from Philadelphia to Avalon to get away from her mother, but I'm not sure calling your book Glimmer is the best idea. If you wrote a mystery set in Sweden, you wouldn't call your book The Girl with the Crocodile Tattoo, even if the main character was a girl with a crocodile tattoo.] The YAFG receives an average of 35,000 hits per month. I also have a twitter account with more than 10,000 followers.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.



Focus on what happens after Kalin goes to Avalon. What's her plan? A faery faction wants to bring down Avalon, but a seventeen-year-old girl is needed to stop them? What does she bring to the rescue team? What goes wrong? What happens if the faction succeeds? What's the story?

Cartoon 975

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cartoon 974

Caption: Khazar-khum

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Face-Lift 942

Guess the Plot

Sea Urchin

1. When an oil drilling operation threatens the reef, plucky little Sammy Sea Urchin organizes a flotilla of sharks, jelly fish and sting rays to send the invaders packing.

2. A convict is released from prison so that he can work in the garden of a young widow. It's part of a new enlightened corrections policy. But will he risk losing this soft gig when he meets a girl who can change into a seal?

3. When her mother is drowned by a drift net, Alyissya the dolphin is left an orphan. Alone, scared, she must swim her way through the reef of sharks and hostile pods to her aunt Shaaya and safety.

4. At age seven, merkid Oliver Nemo's shark-brained merparents swam off into the sunset, never to return. A lucky break on “Mariana Trench's Got Talent” kept him off the streets. Now, puberty--and poverty, if his voice breaks--loom. What to do? Fagan-Fish has an idea, but Oliver doesn't like it at all.

5. Despite her adoption by a loving family of bee keepers, young Queenie has always dreamed of transformation and an enchanted life beneath the sea. She regrets this wish when she wakes on her 16th birthday covered in poisonous spines.

6. Lily, A young homeless child, lives by the sea and is referred to as "sea urchin" because she has no family and doesn't bathe. One day a mermaid jumps out of the sea and informs Lily that her father owns a prosperous water treatment facility. Lily finds her dad and ends up inheriting the business.

Original Version

Dear Mr Editor,

"Sea Urchin" is a YA historical fantasy, complete at 57,000 words.

Sixteen-year-old Davie is transported to Australia as punishment for pickpocketing, [Suddenly I'm thinking of becoming a pickpocket.] but in the remote boys' prison he finds opportunities he never thought he'd have. [Like interacting with a kangaroo.]

He works hard in school and leaning [learning] a trade in the workshops, convinced this is the key to becoming a respectable citizen. But when he befriends fellow-prisoner Jimmy, Davie loses his focus. He skips school, [When you're in a prison you can skip school? Suddenly I'm thinking of applying for the position of truant officer in an Australian boys' prison.] and makes mistakes in the workshop. Yet he also saves himself from drowning despite being unable to swim. [You add this as if it's evidence that he hasn't gone totally bad, when even a punk hoodlum would try hard to save himself from drowning.] [Don't they have lifeguards at the prison swimming pool?] Jimmy's a bad influence, but he [Davie] can't help being drawn to him. For, unknown to Davie, Jimmy is a selkie, a seal boy trapped on land far from his skin, and his magic is causing all Davie's woes. [His magic can't get him out of the prison? What can it do?] [What woes are we talking about?]

When Jimmy kills another boy to protect Davie, the seal boy goes into hiding. [What kind of prison is this? Prisoners can hide and not be found?] Davie sneaks him food, but Jimmy has been away from the sea for too long, and fades while Davie looks on, helpless. Then Davie is sent away, to work as a gardener for a young widow who wants to mother him. [A prison that sends a prisoner away to work for a young widow? If that happened in America, the woman would get butchered, the story would lead every news program for a week, and everyone from the warden to Barack Obama would lose his job.] Convinced there is nothing more he can do for Jimmy, he applies himself to his new work. But then a chance meeting with a seal girl forces Davie to make a choice: stay with the widow who'll give him the new start he desires [Gardening for a woman who wants to mother him is the new start he desires? I thought he was learning a trade in a prison workshop.] [Then again, perhaps he enjoys plowing her furrows.] or throw away his new life for a slight chance he might yet save Jimmy's life? [That was a question?]

(Cool stuff about me [, which I'm hoping will happen so I don't have to make it up.])

Thank you for your time.



It wouldn't hurt to mention when the story is set.

Not clear how Davie's chance meeting with a seal girl helps Jimmy. And what are the odds that one kid meets a seal boy and then a few weeks later meets a seal girl? Unless there are millions of these wereseals. Also, I thought wereseals were native to the North Atlantic. Yet Davie meets two of them in Australia?

If they're called selkies, why are you calling them seal boys and seal girls and wereseals?

Jimmy faded away weeks ago. How's Davie gonna find him?

If I had an arrangement to send criminals to Australia as punishment, I think I'd want assurances that they'd receive some punishment, not spend three weeks in Club Med and then get gardening positions. I'd save the transportation costs and have them tend my garden.

If selkies fade away when they're away from the sea, you wouldn't think they'd risk getting thrown into a prison they can't get out of.

If I had the option of being in human form or seal form, I'd be a seal all the time. All you have to do is swim, eat and balance balls on your nose.

Cartoon 973

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Beginning 876

It really was the worst of times. Claudia looked at her hands and found they were still semi-transparent. It's one thing to wake up and find a pimple on your nose, it's quite another to find that you have no nose at all, well just a shadow of one.

"I know that I fell off the porch, headfirst," Claudia thought. "I feel okay, just my usual sinus pressure. Hey, how many ghosts have sinus problems. Maybe this just a dream."

But as she saw an ugly small demon appear in front of her, she began to question that.

The demon, for he was too ugly to be anything else, said, "Hi there, I'm your guardian angel."

Claudia eyed him as he picked his nose with a long index finger. "Do you have any id? I mean, no offense, but you're not exactly... well..."

"Sure," the demon replied, "I got id. I got ego. I got super-ego. I'm very self-aware."

"And, uh, you're my guardian angel?"

The demon flicked a booger off the end of his gnarly finger. "Face it. You need me. Here you are..."

The demon pulled a Benzedrex inhaler and a pair of spectacles from his pocket. "These should take care of your problems."


Skeptical, Claudia put on the glasses. Suddenly her hand came into solid focus and she could find her nose in the mirror. She took a deep pull on the inhaler and her sinus pain disappeared.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most likely.

And demons suck at fiction.

Opening: R.T. Davis.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 972

Caption: Evil Editor

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Face-Lift 941

Guess the Plot

Transformation in Arvakeria

1. When Casey first heard of Arvakeria, she thought it was the new home for Aardvarks in the local zoo. Soon, she finds herself proven wrong and must hunt a lost princess in a hidden kingdom, accompanied by a stable boy who keeps transforming into household appliances just to get her attention.

2. The history of the Transformation and its impact on Arvakeria.

3. Ho hum. Another fantasy novel. Set in another world. Our hero/ine has the unique magical ability to transform their shape, and it has long been prophesied that a person with such an ability will be the one to [fill in blank]. Is anybody interested?

4. Old Zippo, forced to buy a suit for his son's wedding, goes to the local suit store, Arvakeria. In the changing room, he's transformed into a small Labrador, and wanders around town wearing the ill-fitting pin-striped suit. He's recognized as a brilliant dog, and gets a job as a financial adviser to the town council. When the town goes broke, Old Zippo runs off with a poodle named, "Zelda Muffin," and they live fairly comfortably in the back of a Volkswagon bus with a bunch of vegan hippies.

5. 6646 BC. Most of the human race died out two thousand years earlier under the reign of King Arvaker. Now, just as we're making a comeback, a new threat arrives: vampire orcs. Humans go underground and morph into dwarfs to await their savior, but when he finally shows up, he's kind of lazy.

6. Arvakeria was the rowdiest, most lawless city on the planet . . . until the Transformation, when all Arvakerians became angels. Now the Arvakerians travel from town to town punishing rowdy lawless people with death and torture. Hey, it's a living.

Original Version

Transformation In Arvakeria is a literary science fiction and fantasy future best seller at approximately 196,672 words.

Rumor has it that twelve thousand years ago, humans had magic. The orcs are not pleased about this because, while they are stronger than humans (their natural STR scores would default at 18) and bigger (orcs grow to about 6'5" at minimum all the way up to 8' whereas humans of course have a wide range but never that tall!) magic is obviously more powerful. So the orcs set about to kill all the humans. Around the reign of King Arvaker, circa 8573 b.c., these humans were all but destroyed and were on their final legs as a species.

Icarus is the only man who can stop all the senseless dying and kill off all the other species. But he won't be born for another few thousand years, so lots more people will die before then.

Left to their own devices, the orcs and dragons and dragon-orcs would kill and enslave all of the humans. Fortunately the world almost ended at about 6646 b.c. and all of the orcs died off. But a new threat was threatening... vampire orcs.

Left with few soldiers left (a typical army at about this time would contain around a thousand soldiers, broken up into "decades" of 200 troops. Each one would have a command structure roughly equal to one commander per 50 men) the humans have no choice but to hide until their savior is borne.

Rapidly the humans underground start to develop into dwarves, which helps boost their STR scores, but they become too belligerent and the remaining true humans are forced back above ground.

Icarus still hasn't been born yet, but he will. All of the humans await this day. That is when everything will be happily ever after... but will he command the humans?? Death follows those who worship the path of darkness...

Eventually Icarus is born and the savior grows up into a great warrior. Unfortunately Icarus is spoiled as a child since he is the chosen one and doesn't like to do very much. So his friends must tackle the fate of the world and save the humans from the dangers above ground and below...

T.In.A. is complete and awaits your reply. I know that vampires are very big right now so that is why I chose to kill the orcs and make the bad guys vampire orcs. Thanks for your time.


Every hundred or so queries we get a hoax query, and if we're running low on real queries and openings, or fake plots, and continuations, I'm happy to post it, as long as I don't have to put any effort into critiquing it.

Cartoon 971

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Beginning 875

The first time I saw the man with no face was on my way to school. Less than a week since I got out of the hospital and I was already totally wired, even before the horror show started. I just caught a fleeting glimpse, more of an impression than anything, a guy on the sidewalk with smooth blank skin where eyes, nose, mouth should have been. He seemed to be looking at something – for something. His head craned around on a skinny neck, as if he were searching for ... me.

“Did you see that?” I burst out, feeling a chill run up my spine as our driver stopped for a light.

“Quinn, what is it?” said Mina. She could read the fear in my voice. She leaned her forehead against the window of the car, trying to see what I'd seen.

"I thought I saw a man with no face," I told her. "Do you see him?"

"No," Mina replied. Then, to our driver: "Turn back, driver. It appears Quinn was released from the hospital prematurely."

The second time I saw the man with no face he was standing at the foot of my hospital bed when I woke up. I started screaming in terror, and he turned toward me. It was one of my shrinks, the bald one. I'd been looking at the back of his head. Awkward.

Opening: Deb Hoag.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Cartoon 970

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cartoon 969

Caption: Whirlochre

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Beginning 874

The wind blew threw Griffin Pogue's short-cropped hair. It felt good on his bare chest. He held his fire jacket over his left shoulder with his left arm bent back and his helmet down by his side with his right hand to show off his muscular arms and shoulders. His fireman pants sat impossibly low on his hips, showing off has ripped and buff abs. Assistants held reflectors and filler lights as the renowned photographer, JiYu Chow, orchestrated five cameras.

"Got it, hot and sunny August is a wrap," JiYu announced. Griffin relaxed and stepped off the ledge.

"Great. I was feeling a little too much wind for five stories up," Griffin said.

"How did I get saddled with a model incapable of not talking or standing still," JiYu waved at his assistants and they broke down the equipment.

"How? Because I'm the only model you can afford for your stupid calendar."

"No so, I can get dozens of models."

"Yeah? Like who?"

Chow looked around until his eyes fell upon a muttonchopped man with an impeccable pince-nez, surrounded by adoring supermodel types. "Like him."

Griffin deflated, taut abs sagging. There was no way he could compete.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Khazar-khum

Cartoon 968

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Face-Lift 940

Guess the Plot

Angels in Atlantis

1. Artorus and Jessarene are the most promising acolytes in the Atlantean temple. But each has begun to believe there is actually only one god (plus several powerful beings who serve him). Their love and heresy threaten to sink the empire.

2. Being a janitor in Atlantis isn't easy, what with all the drunk fishermen throwing their empty beer cans overboard, but Davey's getting by. Then two angels show up. One of them says he'll help find Davey's missing brother. The other is intent on starting Armageddon. Davey must decide which angel to side with. And it's not as easy as it sounds.

3. Intending to go to The Varsity for a hamburger, Michaela steps onto the wrong MARTA train and finds herself in Atlantis, an ancient city far beneath its near-namesake. Now she must stop a gang of evil mermaids intent on liberating the smallpox virus from its secure vault at the CDC, wiping out humanity and retaking the earth for mer-kind.

4. Mild-mannered priestess L'Bwenah has her hands full running the First Atlantean Food Bank. Will quirky encounters with a homeless sorcerer, a boy with two left feet and a Finnish windworker be the key to help her organize an evacuation before the tsunami hits?

5. Hiding in the coal hole to escape cruel Miss Pinsington, Jakie and Katie find an ancient golden ring that takes them back in time to the lost island of Atlantis. Too bad all the kind grownups there only want to send them home.

6. When the Lord Almighty gives His angelic host a vacation day free from the constraints of righteousness, Gabriel and Michael decide to spend the next 24 hours at the Atlantis Casino. There they learn that putting down the key to the gates of Heaven on OO green might not have been the best idea.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Davey's life hasn't been easy since her mom [named her "Davey."] killed herself and her drug-addicted little brother runaway. [Actually, if Davey was her brother's caretaker after mom's suicide, I would think her life got easier when he runaway.] [Also, now that you've made "runaway" a verb, you want the past tense, "ranaway."] [On second thought, those who assume "runaway" is a noun may think you're saying mom killed herself and the runaway. Though not in that order.] Waitress by day, janitor by night, Davey struggles to pay rent for the apartment she shares with her best friend in the military run city of Atlantis. [Are you saying this is a different Atlantis from the famous submerged one? That seems misleading. If I purchase books titled Angels in Oz and Angels in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, I have expectations. If I get home and find out the books are set in Teaneck, New Jersey and the Welch's Jelly factory, I'll feel like I've been had. I suggest either changing the city name or not using it in the title.]

Walking home from work one night, Davey rescues a stray cat from teenage thugs [It's seldom a good idea to call attention to yourself when thugs are focusing on a cat and ignoring you. Did she confront the thugs or just grab the cat and runaway?] despite the possession of pets being strictly forbidden. [She could have rescued the cat from the thugs and released it in an alley instead of making it her pet.] But her pet problems are short-lived when she wakes the next morning to find the cat transformed into the buff, blond angel Zephyr. [Change the word "when" to a semicolon.] Davey makes a deal with Zephyr: her guidance through the modern era as he tries to find a divine artifact in exchange for his help finding her brother. It seems like a sweet deal, having an angel looking out for her and searching for her brother, but when her best friend is abducted by the insidious Serafim and Zephyr's search for the artifact turns into a battle against a nasty assortment of demons, Davey realises she might have been hasty in making a deal with the less-than-holy angel. [That was what we in the business call a runaway sentence, a term I just coined that applies to a sentence if, during the time it takes to read it, I can eat an entire burrito.] But determined to save those she loves, [Who are those she loves, besides the crackhead junkie?] they continue their search armed with Davey's clairvoyance [I hope Davey's super power is mentioned earlier in the book than it is in the query.] [Can't a clairvoyant person make more off her talents than she can as a waitress and janitor? Like, she could open a fortune-telling kiosk at the mall.] [Can't she foresee where her brother will be found?] and Zephyr's assortment of supernatural powers. [It's always nice to have an assortment of powers, but there's a big difference between Superman, with his huge assortment of useful powers, and Aquaman, whose puny assortment of powers (holding his breath a long time, conversing with carp, and staying underwater without turning into a prune) are worthless.] [Did anyone else ever wonder why Aquaman and Green Arrow and Batman got invited into the Justice League? The feelings of inadequacy and envy had to be overwhelming, being surrounded by Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash . . .

Superman: We need some new members. Some of our missions are too tough for just the four of us.

Green Lantern: How about this Green Arrow guy? He's good at archery.

Wonder Woman: Perfect. And we could use someone who talks to fish.

Flash: I hear this Batman dude is rich.

Superman. Okay. I'll send out the invites tomorrow.]

Their search pitches them into battle against the fallen angel Samael, a powerful adversary with a grudge against the gods [Gods, plural?] and a legion of demons on his side [and an inexplicable desire to see that Davey's brother is never found]. Samael is on a crusade for the same divine artifact and Armageddon. He'll stop at nothing to get them. But Zephyr's motives are hardly pure either and he uses Davey's growing affection for him as a means to an end. [A roll in the hay with a mortal.]

With her loyalty divided between the angels, [One angel is helping her find her brother, and the other wants Armageddon, and her loyalty is divided?] Davey finds herself at the centre of a war between ageless powers, powers to which her connection is a lot more familial than she knows. And, no matter what she does, Davey won't be able to save everyone she loves.

Angels in Atlantis is a new adult, mythpunk fantasy novel [Great, another genre to add to my list of labels. "Mythpunk Fantasy" now has as many representatives on this blog as "Novel in Verse." And only one fewer than "South American Atrocities."] [Also, no need to declare your novel is "new."] complete at 77 000 words.

My writing credits include a debut novel Dragon's Teeth (published by Divertir Publishing, LLC.) and numerous non-fiction articles, details of which may be found on my website: ____________________.

Thank you for the consideration.



I think we can do without the backstory. Just say that an angel appears to Davey and makes her an offer she can't refuse. He'll help her find her missing brother if she'll help him navigate the modern world as he searches for . . . And this is where you explain why everyone wants the divine artifact, which I hope has a cool name like Zeus's Codpiece. Is the artifact needed to start Armageddon?

Without the cat and the thugs and the mother there should be room to focus on the main plot: the race to find the relic that determines the fate of the universe.

Why is the angel disguised as a cat, and why doesn't he reveal he's an angel as soon as he's alone with Davey instead of the next morning?

I think Davey's job should be oracle instead of janitor. If you're an angel who needs help finding something, you look for an oracle first, and then settle for a clairvoyant janitor.

Cartoon 967

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! link in sidebar.

Monday, August 08, 2011

New Beginning 858

Journal, if I am going to keep you we need to get one thing straight. I am keeping you because I want to, because I choose to and because I wish to share my experience and pessimism with any travellers fortunate enough to find you (if there are any nuggets of wisdom in my words, I apologise for that now). Most importantly, journal, this means I am not keeping you because Miss Perfect Susanne asked me to. I like to think that more than a flimsy shopper’s notepad and bank pen lies between me and insanity, thank you very much.

I would also like to point out that I’m aware you are an inanimate object, even if I refer to you as ‘you’ – it’s just easier that way. Given that I’m one of probably only a handful of sane people left on this planet, I thought you’d understand.

Not that most people nowadays are insane; they’re just dead.

Dresser, don't think I can't hear you sneaking up behind me as I write this. That's an expensive hardwood floor you're tearing up. Just keep your distance, and if I need a pair of clean underpants, I know where to find you.

Television, you turned yourself on and now you can turn yourself right back off. Or at the very least, switch away from Jersey Shore re-runs. If there's any silver lining to the bizarre force that has breathed hellish life into Earth's inanimate objects, it's that reality TV "stars" were among the first casualties.

Toilet ... we need to talk.

Opening: Naomi Reynolds.....Continuation: jrmosher

Cartoon 966

Caption: anon.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Cartoon 965

Caption: Voter

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Face-Lift 939

Guess the Plot

Office Preserves

1. A jar of blueberry jelly endures the boredom of shelf life until office worker Maria remembers the hapless jar. The action kicks into high gear when Maria drops the jar and it flees, gleefully rolling out the door, unaware it's leaving a vivid blue trail of goo.

2. After taking a tranquilizer dart to the neck and waking up in the corporate offices of the galaxy's top "preserve," where Rice Krispy treats are handed out by the ton, Toby fears he's to be a zoo attraction. But an alien named Freddie arrives and explains that this tourist trap is no zoo; it's a hunting ground. And Toby's the game!

3. Civilization has collapsed, thank God, and it's back to nature for the human race. Here and there a few people cling to the old ways in decaying networks of cubicles called "office preserves". But how long can they defend themselves against grizzly bears, feral humans, and tigers with a helluva grudge?

4. Everybody accepts sweet Donna Mae's gifts of strawberry preserves. She has hundreds of the jars lining her cubicles. But when coworkers actually open and taste the stuff, they suddenly realize what's become of all those missing temp workers.

5. 2125, Chicago. After the alien overlords from Beta Centauri have conquered man, they keep human zoos for educational purposes. The Sears Tower holds the most famous zoo of all: the Office Preserve, where Homo Nerdis can be seen in their native glory. Also, nerd sex.

6. After the Zombie Non-Discrimination Act passes, Oliver Penworth sees an opportunity to expand his formaldehyde trade. But when he hires a few of the undead, he learns valuable lessons about tolerance, respect, and proper ventilation in the workplace.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Toby’s trip to the zoo abruptly ends when he catches a tranquilizer dart in the neck. He awakens in the corporate lobby of Preser Tech, a place where Rice Krispy Treats are handed out by the metric ton, [To whom? Superman? Can anyone else even lift a metric ton?] secretaries are passed around like candy, and the CEO is an alien named Freddie who eagerly welcomes Toby to his new life – life in one of the galaxy’s best preserves.

Despite the alien’s sales pitch, Toby has no intentions of spending the rest of his life as a tourist attraction, upcoming season or not. [Not clear what "upcoming season or not" means.] What Toby doesn’t plan into his escape are the facts that the food is drugged, his coworkers are insane, [Why does he need to plan these things into his escape?] and his new secretary, [Did he have an old secretary?] Clarice, is obsessed with cutting out his eyes. All of that, however, pales in comparison when he discovers that conservation isn’t what this preserve is for; it’s for hunting. [Pales in comparison for him, maybe, but I'd rather keep my eyes and be hunted than have my eyes cut out and work in an office.]

Toby gets a crash course in survival while Freddie and his loyal patrons go on safari. To Toby’s dismay, he discovers that the only person who might know a way out of this place is his psychotic, knife-wielding assistant. Worst of all, he realizes, if he can’t find a way to placate her soon and pry [out] her secrets, life on the preserve is going to be a lot shorter than he ever intended. [He never intended life on the preserve to be any length, as he didn't intend to be there.] [Does the crash course in survival involve being hunted on this safari, or is he being trained to be the hunted on a future safari?]

OFFICE PRESERVES is complete at 75,000 words. [Bio]

Thank you for you time and consideration,


If Toby is essentially a prisoner, as suggested by his planning an escape, then why is he given a sales pitch? What are they selling him on?

I also don't get why he has coworkers and a secretary. What work is he doing? If they tell me that tomorrow I'm to be the prey in a hunt, but today they need me to file some reports, I'm not gonna be highly motivated.

Is this set on Earth, or has Toby been whisked to another planet?

We need to know how old Toby is and who your intended audience is. The plot sounds like middle grade, what with silly touches like Rice Krispy treats and an alien named Freddie. But if Toby's a kid, why does he need a secretary? And I wouldn't expect a kid's book to use the phrase "where secretaries are passed around like candy."

There are too many details that aren't important to the plot. I can appreciate wanting to show humor to set this apart from the many non-comedic stories in which man is hunted for sport, but start by summarizing the main plot (Toby's predicament and what he plans to do about it) with a logical progression of events. Later, if you have room, you can work in a few examples of humor.

Cartoon 964

Caption: Whirlochre

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Face-Lift 938

Guess the Plot

Supernatural Freak

1. A freak who can appear normal through supernatural powers loses those powers and chooses to move to the planet Freakoid, where freaks are normal and normal is freakish.

2. In the midst of investigating a supernatural serial killer, Robyn is hired to cure a child who is turning into a dead tree. Then she learns that she's the chosen one who must defeat the invincible entity known as "The Cloud." Ever have one of those days?

3. Move over, Superman! Supernatural Freak tracks down evildoers wherever they lurk, and converts them to a life of virtue and macrobiotic cooking.

4. On Halloween night, Ashley takes a shortcut through the graveyard and gets simultaneously bitten by both a vampire and a werewolf. Crap. This is going to put a crimp in her plan to snag All-American Josh Burrell as her prom date.

5. A vampire with an allergy to type O blood, a photosensitive werewolf, a wingless fairy and a ghost with anxiety disorder gather every week for group therapy from the hopelessly kind-hearted Dr. Mephistopheles.

6. High school sucks when everyone thinks you're a freak just because you can read minds. But when her lit class is taken hostage by masked gunmen, guess who's got to save the day? They won't be calling her a freak after this, right?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my 75000 word urban fantasy “Supernatural Freak". Think a Gothic novel by Wodehouse. [Sort of Monty Python does Wuthering Heights? I can't recommend calling it urban fantasy and then comparing it to a Gothic novel and aristocratic comedy. Even if that's what it is, the agent is interested in where it will be shelved and who will buy it, so call it a quirky urban fantasy or an edgy Gothic novel or a paranormal satire of the British upper crust.] Brought-up by a German father and a French mother, I [am lucky to be alive, and] have written a story of a heroine with a similar background.

A former editor, I currently work as a journalist for South West News, the biggest press agency in England. [One of Murdoch's puppet organizations, no doubt.] My website ___________has an average of 3000 visitors per month. [That's 100 visitors a day. I could start a site, put nothing on it except a counter, and get over 100 visitors a day. In fact, to prove it, I'm putting the site here, but don't click on it, because there's nothing there worth seeing.] [Any bio stuff that you insist on including should be at the end. Get to the book while the agent is still awake.]

Young Robyn Wise leads a complicated life. For a start, no one understands her jokes. [I have the same problem, except the people who don't get my jokes often threaten to kill me.]

Secondly, she speaks the Fairy Language, a unique gift, craved by every monster living in London, which doesn't benefit her health either. [Speaking any language is unlikely to benefit one's health.] [Well, there was that time when I wished I knew how to say "I'm not an American" in Arabic.]

When honest people go mysteriously missing and high-profile criminals are murdered by a supernatural serial killer, Robyn, an established paranormal expert, starts investigating [how to stop the disappearances without disrupting the streak of murders].

It's the usual routine, or so she thinks, until she's hired to cure a child turning into a dead tree, an ominous condition she has never seen before. [This sounds like a case for House:

House: Seven-year-old child, turning into a dead tree.

Chase: They need a tree surgeon, not a doctor.

Foreman: It's probably a case of hardening of the phloem.

Thirteeen: We need to get to the root of her problem.

Taub: I'll go out on a limb and say it's not Lupus.

Cameron: I knew I should've gone into a different branch of medicine.

Wilson: If there's no cure, the kid could be carved into a marionette.

House: Screw that. I need a coat rack.]

Her concerns are confirmed by a stranger claiming to be Francis Walsingham, once counsellor of Elisabeth I. [Is this set in our time or Elizabeth's?] [What's with all these one-sentence paragraphs?]

He tells Robyn that she's the incarnation of the Cat, the leader of the Twelve Spirits created to protect Fairyland from “The Cloud”, an invincible entity which can only be banished for 120 years. [Didn't you say Robyn's background was similar to yours: you who have parents who are French and German; she who is the incarnation of the Cat?]

Now, 120 years have passed and the disappearances, the murders and the tree-child are all signs that the Fairy Kingdom is threatened again, and only she can save it.

I can be reached by email at ___________ or phone at ________. I thank you in advance for your time and attention.



The child turning into a dead tree is our best character since the architect who was falling in love with her house.

If they know the Cloud appears after 120 years, and they know when it was last banished, and they know the Cat can re-banish it, why didn't they seek the Cat's help before the murders and disappearances started?

I don't see the point of mentioning Robyn's background or yours. Neither seems relevant in the query.

There are too many paragraphs. You want to fit this on one page, but if you have a dozen skipped lines between paragraphs, that won't be happening. Put the plot in two or three paragraphs.

This is all over the place. Start over and focus on one story line. Clump the supernatural occurrences into the first plot paragraph and get to the part where Robyn must save the world. And check this out.