Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Brenda Novak Auction... already gearing up for 2012. Held throughout the month of May, the auction is your chance to get your work in front of agents and editors, meet famous authors, purchase vacations, jewelry, autographed books, etc., and most importantly, to force other people to bid higher than they want to for stuff they want and you don't care about, so that they hate you forever. All while helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for diabetes research.

The auction site is here, if you'd like to preview the items that have been posted so far.

Evil Editor's editing services and other stuff have brought in about $12,000 over the past four years. This year I'll be offering the following:

Complete line edit of a FULL manuscript.

Complete line edit of your first 10,000 words.

Why You Don't Get Published
, volumes 1 and 2, signed.

Complete line edit of a FULL manuscript before the auction is over! (1-day auction)

My autographed 1st edition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

Plus other things I haven't thought up yet.

If there's something you wish I were offering, suggest it in the comments.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Beginning 929

Buddy and Vivienne were always putting bruises on each other; I can remember Vivienne with bruises up and down her arms and rope burns across her back and I remember Buddy with bruises and brush burns all over him and a grin on his face saying they'd gotten something just right and Viv was going to use it in her next match.

* * *

What the--? I read it again. Still I couldn't fathom the full meaning of what it said. Yet, what surprised me was not so much the words and what they might imply, but rather that it had fit inside the fortune cookie at all.

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Face-Lift 997

Guess the Plot

An Airship Named Desire

1. Swelled to the point of inevitable rupture, the mighty dirigible Penoid Incarnate pierces the slashed flaps of reality, carrying mankind's hopes and dreams as semen into the most nebulous of unknowns.

2. The real reason for the Hindenburg disaster, and other fiery results of Mae West's hot radio broadcasts.

3. It's the maiden outing of Captain Hendricks's impressive dirigible. And all Miss Maisie has to do to help him get it up is blow here.

4. A disastrous culture clash is in the air when airship captain Stan "Steam" Kowalski reluctantly adds his cyborg sister-in-law Blanche to his crew.

5. Hired to steal a mysterious box, the crew of the airship Desire must defeat the British military, hordes of orcs, and armed mercenaries. Is it worth the trouble? Or will the box contain a case of Cocoa Puffs?

6. Blanca La Blanca leaves her family plantation after some vague unpleasantness. She takes an airship to her sister’s home where all the family’s secrets and vices are revealed.

7. On the Pacific island of Dr. Moreau, Blanche must find and kill her nemesis, Stanley. But she will have to avoid his abominations, and befriend a kangamoo (kangaroo-cow) who will lead her to her only means of escape: An Airship Named Desire.

Original Version

Bea, the first mate, and her crewmates on the airship Desire barely have enough coppers to afford fuel, so when a gentleman from Old Germany hires them to steal a box off a British Merchant ship, she leaps on board. [Literally?] However, their employer conveniently forgot to mention the military and hordes of guards protecting this cargo. [One horde is probably enough to give the impression you want.] [However, if the guards are orcs, you do want to mention that.]

The Brits are pissed, aggressive cannon fire kind of pissed, but once Bea and the crew exchange the box, they’ll sail the skies with enough money to gamble at the resorts by the Reno shores. [Wait, you're talking like they already have the box. What about the military and the hordes of orcs?] At least, until a crewmember [The Brit crew or Bea's crew?] makes off with their meal ticket and murders her captain. Bea and a couple crewmates race to the drop off site, only to find the traitor and their employer’s mercenaries waiting with loaded guns directed towards them. [I thought Bea's crew were the employer's mercenaries. He hires mercenaries to steal a box, and then he hires another set of mercenaries to take the box from the first set of mercenaries, even though they're delivering it to him?] [Is the traitor also in the employ of the employer, or is he just freelancing?] The traitor escapes leaving her with the box the captain died over. [Wait, you're talking like Bea's crew suddenly has the box. What about the mercenaries with loaded guns?] [Is the traitor escaping from Bea or the mercenaries? I had the impression the mercenaries had the upper hand.] Bea can’t imagine taking command of the Desire and would rather drown her grief in bottles of absinthe. But if she doesn’t strap on her captain’s aviator cap and start leading, the Brits and their ex-employer’s mercs will take the box off their hands—offing her crew in the process. [Offing her crew? Based on what I've inferred, the British military with their cannons, the hordes of orcs, and the armed mercenaries should be slinking off with their tails between their legs while Bea's crew are halfway to Reno without a care in the world. If they have the power to off her crew, why haven't they? What did I miss?]

"An Airship Named Desire" is an 87,000 word steampunk fantasy.



What's in the box? They haven't been paid for delivering the box, so I assume they would look inside to find out if it's worth all the trouble they're going to.

The long paragraph is confusing. Slow down and either tell us what happens when they try to steal the box from the hordes of orcs, or leave out the military and hordes, just tell us they succeed in stealing the box, and skip to the traitor and mercenaries part. And tell us what happens there.

Did you name the book first, or the airship?

New Beginning 928

Red sunlight scattered across the rocky terrain of Mora as Jackson Trammel trudged his last few steps, a Galactic soldier pressing a plasma rifle to his head. The tip of the gun felt cold and hard against Jackson’s neck, and he shivered. His eyes caught sight of a dozen or so prisoners all standing in line, mixtures of fear and sadness on their faces.

“Get in line,” barked the soldier holding Jackson as he shoved his prisoner into place.

Jackson obeyed. His hands were bound, and twenty plasma rifles were pointed at him. What choice did he have?

He tried not to think of the brother and sister he would leave behind. They would surely get the news of his death. The Galactics always liked to scare Earthian rebels into submission with news of an execution.

Heart pounding, Jackson put on a courageous face as he stared down the barrels of the executioners’ rifles. One quick shot to the head, and it would all be over. One quick shot…

The executioner, masked and dressed in black, approached Jackson. "Any last words?"

Jackson smiled. "Don't think you have me yet," he said. "It was no accident you finally caught me. We've been planning this for months. The rebels are in position. This is not the end. Today, Lunar Day 24, is the beginning. So if you look behind you--"

"Today is Lunar Day 23."

" . . . Shit."

One quick shot was all it took.

Opening: Ryan Mueller.....Continuation: anon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 4th Annual Evie Awards

The Academy Award show has barely gotten the best gaffer in a foreign film award out of the way, and the Evies are already complete. This despite the fact that the Oscars shows twenty-second snippets of their films, while the Evies shows the entire films. No wonder more people have watched the Evies than the Oscars three years running.

Best Musical Score
Kevin MacLeod for Bodywash

Best Actor
Evil Editor for Publishing Piracy

Best Actress:
Hannah Rogers for Agent Query

Best Picture
Right Place, Wrong Time

Friday, February 24, 2012

Face-Lift 996

Guess the Plot


1. Evelyn has always felt secure within her own borders. But when she opens a door into a world where dreams are no more reality than her own faith, she finds herself thinking about thoughts and dreaming dreams of reality. And faith.

2. Some superheroes are strong. Some are fast. Some can fly. Gus Rodin, aka "The Thinker" is smart. Thrill as he fights evil by sitting down to contemplate.

3. He used to call her his Lucky Penny, but now that they're divorced, (due to her affair, mind you) he just calls her Ex-Pensive. Why can't he just forget about her? She's all he can think about. It's like witchcraft or something. Hang on! There was that dead goat and pentagram in the garage...

4. To think, or not to think . . . I think. When you have a 10 minute memory it's all a little fuzzy.

5. Anne has just graduated NYU with a degree in Sociology and $100,000 in student loans. There are no jobs to be had in her field of choice: social justice at a top non-profit in NYC. A gin and sex filled weekend will determine her fate: give up and go work at her uncle's accounting firm, or say screw it and be a stripper.

6. Unable to think of a good title, an author goes to a random word generator site, specifies "adjective," and is given . . . Pensive.

Original Version

Sister Evelyn of the C.G. Priori lived her life sheltered and absorbed in the understanding that the Influence would always be a dream away, protecting and securing her future. All of that changes one day and shakes up Evelyn’s fifty years of devotion with the single opening of a rusted and once sealed door, leading her past her own borders, and into a world where dreams are no more reality than her own faith. [I was about to suggest that we drop paragraph 1 and start the query with paragraph 2. Then I looked ahead and discovered that paragraph 1 is the entire plot.]

PENSIVE, a debut novel of 50,100 words, thrusts the reader into a world where thoughts are controlled by the rules of a close-minded society, and consequences are extreme for those that dare to ask what lies outside their own borders. [You keep using that word. I'm not clear on what it means.] A notable work it can be compared to would be The End of Mr. Y, by Scarlett Thomas. [I Googled The End of Mr. Y, and I agree that it's a good comparison, in that it sounds just as wacko as your book. However, compare the first paragraph of that book's plot description (on Wikipedia):

The book tells the story of Ariel Manto, a PhD student who has been researching the 19th-century writer Thomas Lumas. She finds an extremely rare copy of Lumas's novel The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop. The book is rumoured to be cursed - everyone who has read it has died not long afterwards.

. . . with your first paragraph. My point being that no matter how incomprehensible your book may be, your query needs to be clear, straightforward, and easily understood so that someone can easily be conned into reading it.]

I have a degree in psychology from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas [UMHBBT] with an emphasis on personality theory and how it affects the individual mind as well as a collection of people. [A theory should explain, not affect.] My credentials come from me taking specific courses such as: human genetics, positive psychology, developmental psychology, history and systems, statistics, experimental psychology, as well as vertebrate and invertebrate biology. [Is vertebrate and invertebrate biology one course or two? If it's one course, I imagine the course work involves dividing the blackboard in two and then the professor calls out the names of animals and the students discuss which column each one goes in. If it's two courses, that would be good for those students who have no interest in animals that have backbones but much interest in animals without backbones. Or vice versa.] [Maybe you can enlighten me. First they decided living creatures should be divided into two categories: plants and animals. Makes sense. Then someone decides animals should be divided into exactly two categories: animals that X and animals that don't X. Someone says, How about animals you might see in a cage, and animals you wouldn't? Someone else says animals that are scary and animals that aren't. Eventually someone, possibly as a joke, suggests Animals that have a backbone and animals that don't. And no one in the room has the backbone to say the idea is ridiculous? So it sells?] [Actual quote from Wikipedia's article on invertebrates: The word invertebrate comes from the word vertebrate with the prefix in- attached to it.] [Okay, now that that's out of my system, Why are you listing all these courses you took in college instead of telling us what happens in your book?]
I read on your bio that you have an interest in psychology and stories that deal with unusual views of the world. [Hey, all I meant was I loved Good Will Hunting and The Matrix.] Despite being a debut author, I feel that even without endorsements I can surprise and intrigue you with a story that not only educates, but causes the reader’s heart to race, break, and look for repair in a world driven by old science and fearsome thought.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Start over. With a blank page, not with a page on which you've saved your favorite parts of the query. Burn any paper on which this was printed and delete it from your computer files. I'll wait.

Done? Now . . .

Set up the situation and tell us what Evelyn wants. Sister Evelyn has always felt secure thanks to the Influence (which is what?). But when X happens (preferably something better than she opens a rusty door--if there's an actual rusty door, tell us where it is.) she realizes whatever.

Now tell us what happens. Does she get to the new world outside her borders? Do the mind police come after her? Is there a villain or some obstacle to getting what she is looking for? What's her plan?

If you summarize your plot in eight or ten sentences, you might get lucky and have no room left for a paragraph about your credentials and another paragraph about your lack of credentials. You have a product to sell. Make it sound irresistible. Be sure to send us the revised version before sending it anywhere else, as we don't trust you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Beginning 927

After the agony of burning, there was a beach.

Not what I had expected. But then I'd convinced myself I had no expectations. Just went to show.

Pleasant to swim in the cold water. Pleasant to lie on the sand and soak up the sun.

But I was arranging shells in a pattern when I felt Au come. After a quick glance sideways to be sure, I stood up to greet him.

He put both his hands out to me in welcome. "Here's my Lodestar, with his swift and eager look."

"Here's God, come to answer all my questions."

We clasped hands. Interesting to know how much power he was reserving.

"Yet still he thinks I've come to punish him."

"You have," I said, smiling. "You want me to go back."

"Still he thinks it's for him to form the pattern."

"I read it in the shells."

We looked at them together. Then he released his grip on me, and knelt down, and looked at them more closely.

"I formed you well," he said.

"And yet I'm broken."

He looked at me over his shoulder, and his look was swift and eager too. "Perhaps the only break in you is to think you're broken."

"My only crime was not to believe."

His eyes sparkled. "Didn't I bring you here? Didn't I tell you how it would be? Your only crime was not to listen."

"All right, already," I said. "I get it. You're omniscient. Now give me the freaking sun block, Daddy!"

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: anon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Face-Lift 995

Guess the Plot

When Kings Fall

1. Jem Bartholomew bets his wife and farm at the gambling table. When rival farmer Bill Dexter trumps Jem’s four kings with four aces, Jem’s future doesn’t look so bright anymore. Though his wife isn't complaining.

2. King Edward II asks Cedric the apprentice tile-maker to tile his royal bathroom. Honored, Young Cedric and his fiancée, Guinevere, dream of fame and fortune . . . until the king slips on Cedric's handiwork and a death warrant is issued for the runaway couple.

3. It's been said that when kings fall, it is their queens who suffer. Well, Queen Alibeth has been waiting twenty years for someone to take out King Kramersty. Watching that magnificent black stallion Prince Lok'N'Reth stride to the throne, she knows she's going to enjoy the 'suffering'.

4. The establishment of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is viewed through the eyes of a destitute Syrian doctor who happens to meet King Saud, and who offers (after his wife mysteriously disappears) to recruit soldiers to tip the scale of war.

5. After the disastrous banking collapse, "Synapse," sacrifices his true name and identity to go undercover and track down the kings of finance responsible. His quest takes him through the riot-ravaged cities of Beijing, London, New York and Dubai and finally to a cigar store on the backstreets of Hong Kong.

6. Aboud Al-Youssef, a pro-democracy activist who predicted the fall of the Arab monarchies three years ago, is about to blow the lid off the coming Arab winter when he mysteriously disappears. Can special agent James Burns find him and uncover a conspiracy threatening to engulf the world in another war?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Dr. Rashad Pharaon is chased into exile when he secretly marries Jamila, the governor of Syria's arranged fiancée. [This would read more clearly as: ... secretly marries Jamila, fiancée of the governor of Syria.] [My research into the history of Syria, hoping to catch you in an embarrassing factual error, turned up this timeline fact: 1910: Mary Ajamy, a recent nursing graduate from AUB, launches the first women’s rights magazine in the Middle East, called al-`Arus (The Bride). Googling Mary Ajamy led to this article. So my question is: Given that women buy most of the books, why isn't your book about Mary Ajamy?] [And my question to Mary Ajamy is: Isn't it amazing how far Syria has come in the past century?] Without money or home, the couple take refuge in nearby Jordan amongst insurgents who call themselves the Brotherhood. Rashad leaps at the opportunity for a fresh start when, in return for helping their wounded, the leader offers them safe passage to the exotic city of Medina in Arabia. [If a doctor shows up at my doorstep, and I have a steady influx of wounded, no way am I shipping him to Medina. I'm chaining him to an operating table and he's working longer shifts than a med school intern.]

The newcomers' illusion of triumph quickly fades as they fall on dire financial times. [They had no money two sentences ago; perhaps they had already fallen on dire financial times.] Their bad fortunes seem momentarily reversed when they meet King Saud, who grants them aid and citizenship, but Arabia simmers with bad blood. A powerful sultan to the North threatens to overthrow Saud.

The king gathers his war-ravaged army and asks Rashad to recruit the Brotherhood, a force needed to tip the scales in their favor. [These armies must be pretty puny if some insurgents 500 miles away can tip the scales of their war. Are they coming by camel?] Rashad is about to petition the rebels when Jamila vanishes. His conviction rocked, he must now soul-search and make a difficult choice. Should he stay in Arabia and help his new people in their time of greatest need? Or should he find his wife, the rose of his life, and let the king fall? [My guess: He stays; King Saud wins, names the country after himself, locks up the oil rights in perpetuity for his descendants, and then releases Jamila.] [Recommendation: have Rashad go after his wife; romance sells a lot better than Arabian history.]

WHEN KINGS FALL is a 94,000 word historical work of fiction based on the true story of Dr. Rashad Pharaon, who became a leading figure in modern Arabian history and helped establish the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is set during the Arabian wars of the early 1900s, and depicts the [his] journey and hardships after his ouster from Syria.

I am an avid reader of your blog and, being a debut writer, find it very helpful. I would love the opportunity to work with you. [If you're a member of the royal family who doesn't know what to do with his billions in oil revenues, let's do lunch.] I can be reached by email at _______________, and will be glad to send chapters or manuscript upon request, with exotic postcard attached of course.


I would like to see the next-to-last paragraph moved to the front of the query. Otherwise I may (did) read the entire plot thinking it's set in modern times and 100% fictional.

Do any kings actually fall in the book?

Why do these Brotherhood guys in Jordan care who wins between Saud and the sultan from the north? Isn't their own insurgency keeping them busy enough?

Does Rashad have to go to Jordan to petition the Brotherhood? Can't he send a telegram or a messenger while he stays back and looks for the rose of his life?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Face-Lift 994

Guess the Plot

Suicide Rider

1. Jack decides to honor his dead brother's memory by entering a horse race over a 200-foot cliff, and breaking every bone in his body. Internal conflict ensues.

2. Adrenaline junkie Carrie has a need for speed. When Universal Studios lobbyists win the battle for lax safety regulations, their new 360 mph roller coaster, the Suicide Rider, officially opens for business. And she is the first in line. One year later, what’s left of Carrie recounts the coaster's first and only ride.

3. Extreme surfer Alex Wanton can't find a wave big enough. When word hits that a tsunami is headed toward the beach, Alex has to choose between bored and board. Part two chronicles his trials as the stupidest quadriplegic on planet Earth.

4. Jockey Johnny May is known as the Suicide Rider--he takes the mounts no one else can handle. When he discovers that one trainer's horses are being given an experimental drug, can he get to the authorities in time to keep from being trampled to death?

5. Yama grew up hearing stories of his father, a WWII Kamikaze flier. After watching his mother slowly die of cancer, he decides to become a Kamikaze too, in a beat up, old farm truck on Route 66.

6. When popular stuntman Jeff Jonas is killed during the filming of the latest summer blockbuster, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, there wasn't supposed to be a bomb in the Harley, and two, maybe he'd better start looking into more life insurance.

Original Version

TITLE: Suicide Rider

After a decade-long absence, Jackson Sundown Lewis, a Chualpay Indian and successful businessman, returns to his reservation in Eastern Washington for a funeral. [Think The Big Chill, Native American style.] While he’s in town, he reluctantly promises to help his brother train for the Annual Suicide Race – a dangerous horse race down a 225’ cliff [Do the horses get any say in this?] and across a river. The race is a family and tribal tradition. [Another family and tribal tradition is the post-race horsemeat barbecue.]

During the following months, [The following months? Most businesses will give you a few days of funeral leave, but if you phone in the next Monday and say you need a few extra months to talk your brother out of jumping off a cliff on a horse, you're gone.] Jack reignites a romance with his teenage sweetheart, Claire Emerson who has just inherited her family’s ranch outside of Omeche, [Omeche makes me think of Don Ameche, who hosted the Miss America pageant for years, which makes me think of the travesty of justice that occurred when Miss Arkansas finished second to Miss Nebraska in 2011. Thus I recommend putting the ranch outside the town of Omak, which only reminds me of a delicious Big Mac.] near the Chualpay reservation. He soon discovers that Claire is struggling to keep the ranch from being foreclosed upon by a mortgage company in Seattle – his company. Fruitlessly, he tries to help her, even jeopardizing his job in the process. [When you're trying to talk your boss into doing your girlfriend a favor, always bring him an assortment of fruit.] But eventually, in spite of her dislike for competition and lack of confidence, Claire’s only remaining option is to compete in the Suicide Race for the prize money. [I find it hard to believe the prize money in this event will cover more than one mortgage payment . . . unless it's being carried by ESPN and sponsored by Red Man chewing tobacco.]

A week before the race, Jack unwittingly causes his brother’s death. Besieged by guilt and sorrow, Jack must decide whether to remain in Omeche to honor his brother by riding in his brother’s stead [The least I can do after getting you killed is jump off a cliff on a horse.] and compete against the woman he loves or to return to Seattle and salvage what’s left of his hard-earned career.

In the end, Jack stays in Omeche to race. [Screw my career. I'm jumping off a cliff on a horse.] Claire wins the race, the prize money and saves her ranch, proving to herself that she is a strong, independent woman. [Jack finishes last, shames his brother's memory and gets fired, proving to himself that he is a pathetic loser.] [She won the race because she's strong and independent? Doesn't the horse get any credit?] Although Jack fails to win the race, he succeeds in honoring his people and securing Claire’s trust, admiration and love. [He wouldn't have secured her trust, admiration and love if he'd won the race and she'd lost the ranch.] [This is the way this story is supposed to go: Jack wins the race, gives Claire the prize money, and they live happily ever after, Claire having proven to herself that she needs a strong man to be happy.] [Or . . . Claire wins the race but Jack falls off his horse and gets trampled by twenty other horses and Claire loses her ranch because she uses the money to pay Jack's hospital bills and they live happily ever after on the reservation with Claire pushing quadriplegic Jack around in his wheelchair.]


Wouldn't it be easier for Jack to lend Claire the money she needs so that neither of them has to jump off a cliff on a horse? She won't even have to pay him back if she marries him.

Why is the race Claire's only option? Can't she sell off some cattle or horses to make her next payment? She was getting along without the ranch before she inherited it; if it's in that much debt, who needs it? Let 'em foreclose. Anyone who's planning to remember me in your will, I don't want anything that's in debt to the tune of half a million dollars.

Claire Emerson sounds like the name of someone whose only horseback riding experience was in dressage. And Jack hasn't been on a horse in ten years. The only good thing about both of them being in the race is that one of them won't finish last.

Is this a romance? What does Claire need Jack for? He should win the race (which she doesn't even enter). Then he gives her the cash. Meanwhile, he's been fired for being gone six months so she gives him a job roping steers. He becomes a rodeo star and makes millions and they live happily ever after. That way each of them contributes to the other's success. In the epilogue they buy the mortgage company and fire Jack's former boss.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Beginning 926

By 1961 four purebred registered Cleveland Bay stallions remained on British soil. The other stallions had been sold, shipped abroad, gelded or at their end of days and usefulness they were finished off at slaughter houses. The Cleveland Bay, a British breed a gasp away from extinction, due to two World Wars, the railroad and the mechanization of agriculture in the British Isles almost vanished. The docile, strong and versatile breed stemming from Chapman stock crossed with Andalusion and Arab blood during the Middle Ages, could pull artillery or plough all day, foxhunt, steeplechase and then managed to pull the family carriage with grace. The once numerous Cleveland Bay horses lost against changing conditions over the previous forty-eight years in Great Britain. The pressures on the breed were too great. The wars killed millions of them and progress eliminated the remainder. Their accelerated decimation was astonishing. Breed extinction is a great loss, in the case of the Cleveland Bay, a tragedy. A horse by the name of Mulgrave Supreme was one of those four remaining stallions in the British Cleveland Bay Horse Society registry in the early 1960’s.

Hamlet of Dalehouse, U.K.

Gerald Mulgrave wrestled with a nasty choice. He dunked his head under the tap to try and dull his throbbing headache. He could sell the colt to secure his farm or sell the farm to secure the horse and pray he didn’t colic, develop laminitis or go through a fence and meet a truck on his way out. Lightning hit horses with great frequency in the country. Early in the 1960’s, Britain had troubles with Yemen, decided to invade Egypt over the Suez Canal with some help from France and had many other internal problems. The world Gerald lived in was uncertain. Being the third generation Mulgrave on the farm it was his duty to keep it for the fourth.

Mulgrave Supreme was foaled in 1961 about four a.m. on a dark, cold morning. Hiw dam nosed him, nudged him and nickered to him. The foal got his legs organized, staggered to his feet then found his mother’s udder. He was an hour old when he pulled at her and tasted her warm milk for the first time. By Cholderton Minstral out of Mulgrave Rose he had a grand pedigree. Four and five generations back he had double Cholderton and Mulgrave lines top and bottom. His impeccable breeding gave him the bone, the height, the muscle, the breed type and temperament. Mulgrave Supreme had the best of the Cleveland Bay. And he had to go. Gerald doused his head again. The headache wasn’t going away.

The phone rang, its shrill bells amplified by the throbbing in Gerald's head.

"Hello. 6810." Gerald said, confirming his number to the caller.

"Mr. Mulgrave?"

"Uh, yes. What is it?"

"I understand you are the owner of a horse farm?"

"Well, yes, I suppose you could--"

"I have a business proposition for you..."

And so began the successful launch of McDonald's into Britain.

Opening: Wilkins McQueen.....Continuation: anon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Face-Lift 993

Guess the Plot

The Soul Game

1. All the cool kids are at Robin's big house party, where new kid Damian is going to play with his band, Demonfyre. But when the music ends and the games start, why does everyone suddenly feel...lighter? Also, a totes jelly weeabo.

2. It's the 70's, and the show is so "mod" that it's "groovy." It's...Soul Game! But Charley the Zombie, who could never get anything right, made the mistake of airing it opposite this "hip" new show called Soooooul Train.

3. Two demons in hell have a game they play when they're bored which randomly determines which souls go 'up' and which ones go 'Down.' Until Satan and God discover their little game. Then all hell breaks loose.

4. The world has run out of souls. All people without souls are treated like slaves. Their only hope of becoming full people is to compete in the Soul Games for the soul of the deceased. Ginger has lost the games twice already, if she doesn’t win this time she will never get a soul.

5. For seventy-nine years Martha went to church, prayed, and tried not to cuss. Now that she's dead, She has found God--chuckling in front of a monster TV that has only one program; The Soul Game. Bitter at discovering that we are all just entertainment, she decides to pull his plug and give him a piece of her mind.

6. A demon is sent to Earth with a list of souls to corrupt. At the same time an angel is sent to Earth with the exact same list!

Original Version

Young demon Keira is sent up to Earth with a list of seven souls and a simple mission: to corrupt them. It's the career break she's been waiting for, so whether it means instigating bar room fights or worming her way into a target's life, she's determined to succeed. After all, there'll be Hell to pay if she doesn't.

The arrival of Nathan, an angel, makes things a bit trickier, especially when it turns out that he's after the exact same souls as she is. Keira needs to be clever to avoid getting sent back to the Pit, but no demon worth her horns is going to let some feather-brained do-gooder get the better of her.

However, just when she's getting the hang of it all, a young boy, the most important soul on the list, goes missing, and angel and demon have to work together to find him. Working against Nathan was bad enough. Working with him might just finish her, especially when he's not just trying to stop her - he's trying to save her. It's enough to make her priorities waver, a dangerous prospect when her demonic supervisors are still breathing down the back of her neck.

Besides, demons are beyond redemption.


THE SOUL GAME, an 85,000 word Young Adult Paranormal novel, is my début. The synopsis and full or partial manuscript is available on request. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Why, this is . . . delightful. Well done.

I'm stuck with little to do other than pick nits.

Paragraph 1:
s1: Delete "to."
s2: Either dump your examples, leaving: It's the career break she's been waiting for, and she's determined to succeed. Or replace your examples with better ones. I don't see how Keira instigating a barroom (one word) fight corrupts anyone's soul. Maybe seducing a faithful husband or serving ham salad at a bar mitzvah. Funny examples are probably best; they don't need to be examples from the book.

Paragraph 2:
s1: Delete ", especially," "that," "exact," and "as."

Paragraph 3:
s1: Delete "However,". I'd change "have to" to "must." Is there a reason angel and demon must work together to find the boy (that you can include without needing three more sentences)? Is it just, Let's split up; we can cover more ground that way? That won't work, because whoever finds him isn't gonna inform the other one. But searching together isn't much more efficient than searching alone. Unless the boy was kidnapped by a creature that can't be killed by just an angel or just a demon.

s4: Delete "still" and "the back of."

No need to declare it's your debut, and no need for the accent in debut if you do declare it.

Captcha Complaints

Due to a few complaints about captchas not working properly, I've removed the captcha feature from comment modification. I would have done this sooner, but I was unfamiliar with the term "captcha," and assumed the complaints were coming from inebriated spambots.

I've now done some research on the topic, and to save my minions from having to do the same, shall summarize what I've learned.

Captcha (short for Captain Chaos) is a test you must perform in order to convince a computer that you are not a computer. For instance, say it's yesterday and you wish to comment on one of Evil Editor's blog posts. You type out a lengthy comment which is sure to entertain and enlighten the Evil Minions. In order to publish the comment, you must, of course, get it past Evil Editor’s Evil Eye™, but first you must pass the captcha test, in which a series of letters are displayed, and you must type them. Failure to correctly reproduce the series of letters is evidence that you aren't a human, and we don't want you here.

The earliest captchas were easy to read. It was believed that computers couldn't actually read or write, and thus would be unable to reproduce a string of letters such as:

Turned out computers wanted to comment on Evil Editor's blog so badly that they evolved the ability to read and write.

But humans are nothing if not clever to a fault, and came up with the idea of distorting the string of letters:
The idea was to make it so the computer couldn't read the letters. But a lot of humans couldn't tell the difference between a lower-case n and a lower case r, an issue that didn't seem to bother the computers, who were able to use their "undo" function to undistort the string of letters. So while humans were thinking, Shit, that must have been an r, I'll have to try again, computers were thinking, Aha, it's an r. The humans will never get it.

Humans are nothing if not persistent, so they came up with the idea of putting the letters really close together:
But finding the perfect size that would fool computers and not send humans to the opthamologist proved impossible.

Next came the idea of a squiggle through the distorted letters:
Humans thought, Is that an l or a t?
Computers thought, Humans are so cute.

Next came distorted close letters and blurred letters:

What programmers had yet to realize was that computers enjoy solving puzzles, and humans don't. That New York Times crossword puzzle you couldn't get half through? A computer could do it in a billionth of a second.

But humans are nothing if not stubborn, so you can expect to see a new generation of captchas soon:

Seems we'll do anything to keep computers out of our computers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Face-Lift 992

Guess the Plot

Alchemist's Fire

1. Azmir, the youngest alchemist in the Guild, has invented a flame that can melt anything - even the enchanted ice of the frozen Northlands. With visions of fame and fortune in his head, he goes north, but the Cult of the Eternal Ice have other ideas for him. Can Azmir escape their icy clutches?

2. While Burton, an alchemist-in-training, is trying to turn tap water into root beer, he gets distracted by a beautiful girl outside his window. He mixes the wrong ingredients -- a fire ensues. The girl, who happens to be a volunteer firefighter, comes to the rescue. Burton discovers the girl is an alchemist too. A different kind of fire ensues.

3. In an alternate universe alchemists did discover the secret of changing lead into gold, as well as how to be immortal. This caused two problems; gold is so plentiful it's worthless, and now they need to find a way for people to die. The mythical Alchemist’s Fire is the answer to both and Te’vii sets out to find it, at the young age of 562.

4. Stan just wants to pass chemistry, but lab partner Ali turns cafeteria meatloaf into food and produces an elixir which revives the pickled bio-lab frogs. Being along for the ride (and the grade) seems great--until Ali starts brewing love potion to sell to the seniors, and men in black suits show up.

5. Changing lead into gold is nothing. Changing young into old is where it's at. If his map to the Fountain of Youth is legit, Troy figures he'll have all the gold he needs soon enough.

6. After decades of work, alchemist Isaac Smithson succeeds in changing lead to gold. The townspeople immediately burn down his laboratory and Smithson must flee to keep from being burned as a witch. Gotta love the Middle Ages.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Professor Martin is happy to keep his research on the South Pacific theoretical until a former student, Troy Aldridge, pops up with a map to the Fountain of Youth. Troy convinces Professor Martin to join his expedition with a little inadvertent help from the Imperial Mining Company (whose thugs keep trying to set Professor Martin on fire). [If your thugs keep trying to set someone on fire, and failing, you need smarter thugs.]

They track down the Fountain of Youth near the Solomon Islands, [What's near the Solomon Islands is the Pacific Ocean.] but their plans of bringing home bathtub-fulls [bathtubs full] of the stuff are thwarted [Wouldn't it have been more efficient to bring barrels than bathtubs? Just in case they hit some rough seas?] when the the elixir of youth cannot be moved. [It sounds like you're saying it's impossible to fill a jug with the elixir and take it somewhere else. Are you trying to say the elixir loses its effectiveness if it's taken from the Fountain?] It turns out that they’ll need the spongy marrow of Death to transport it. [Did someone tell them they needed the spongy marrow of Death, or were they sitting around trying to figure out how to get the elixir onto their ship and . . .

Crewman: Well, we've tried vats and and jugs and bathtubs and Tupperware bowls; I guess if people want to drink the elixir they're just gonna have to come to the Fountain.

Captain: Not so fast. We still haven't tried the spongy marrow of Death.]

Their crew, who was all for finding the Fountain of Youth, is less excited about heading to the Isle of Death. Before they even set out, the first mate betrays the expedition to the Imperial Mining Company.

[First Mate: Hello, Imperial Mining Company? I'm phoning to inform you that we are embarking on a mission to the Isle of Death in search of spongy marrow.

Receptionist: And you'd like us to send a few miners to help with the project? Let me connect you with the spongy marrow mining manager.]

Now, with the Imperial Mining Company calling every ship east of Calcutta to chase them down, Troy and Professor Martin are racing to figure out how to transport the elixir of youth (the marrow almost worked).

[Captain: Damn. Spongy marrow of Death didn't work.

Crewman: But it almost worked, sir. Perhaps we should try the bouncy quintessence of Oblivion?]

But that might be exactly what the Imperial Mining Company wants: get them to do the dirty work and then swoop in and steal the results.

Alchemist’s Fire is a 65,000-word fantasy. I have written a couple of technical books published by O’Reilly [Bill O'Reilly? Wait, did you ghost-write Spongy Marrow of Death in the No Spin Zone?]: Book1, Book2, and Book3.

Thank you!


Why are we spending so much time on the spongy marrow of Death if it doesn't work any better than the bathtubs? Granted, the phrase "spongy marrow of Death" is a big selling point (I was prepared to request the manuscript if it had actually worked), but it takes more than clever word choice to sell a book.

Even if the spongy marrow of Death had worked, who would want to drink something that's been transported in the spongy marrow of Death? I'd be afraid it was going to kill me instead of make me young.

Does anyone use the elixir? What happens?

Why were thugs trying to set Martin on fire? Is that the fire from the title? Who's the alchemist?

Make it clear what happens when they try to put the elixir in bathtubs.

If they eventually get the elixir on board, I suggest dropping the spongy marrow of Death and skipping to the part where the mining company tries to chase them down and snatch their bathtubs transport medium. If they don't get the elixir on board, what is the result of finding the Fountain? Nothing?

What will happen to life as we know it if the miners get the elixir?

Why is this a fantasy? Just because they locate the Fountain of Youth?

Start over and focus the query on one character. What's his goal, what's his plan, what's his biggest problem, what's at stake, what happens?

New Beginning 925

It began as a gentle night with the dark clouds caressing the tops of trees and buildings. There was no moon or stars but blinking yellow hazard lights lit the sinkhole in after-images of oranges and reds. Street lamps left pools of soft half-formed cars and shrubbery formed in the mists. Black defined the sinkhole, an inkwell of black, a vortex of ravens' wings swirling down into the earth. Rookie patrolman Colton Hollenbach stood guard, contemplating the adventure of diving in the sinkhole.

"Damn that's deeper than it looks in the newspaper," Asher said. Colton jumped and clutched his chest. Asher could see the vein in Colton's neck thumping with fear. He felt stupid for scaring him, too cheap a thrill.

"Where did you come from?"

"Sorry Dude. Did it flash again?" Asher wore a wet suit under cargo pants.

"Only seems to do it after midnight. Anyone else here?"

"Wowona gets off duty when Tank and the twins stop working."

"Tough Lady, she makes the Chief's balls shrivel." Colton put his hands over his manhood and winced in mock pain.

"The twins, not so much." Asher pumped his closed fist at his crotch and stroked, mocking his friends.

"What did the cards say? Exploring the sinkhole a good thing?"

"Sinkhole, stinkhole," Asher replied. "The cards said dick about it. But wait'll I tell you what they said about exploring the twins."

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Wilkins MacQueen

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Face-Lift 991

Guess the Plot


1. Tired of not knowing what time it is on shady days, Leonardo da Vinci trashes his sundial, vowing to come up with something better.

2. A boy finds a magical egg timer in his grandmother's cupboard that takes the user forward or backward in time. The problem: it works for only three minutes.

3. When diets and corsets don't quite do the job, Cassie looks into plastic surgery in her obsessive quest for the ideal body. Can her family convince her that the perfect measurements just aren't worth the cost?

4. Mika wears a necklace with an hourglass on it that shows how long she has to live. As the family curse drains her life away, will it occur to her that she can gain precious time by learning to walk on her hands?

5. Marilee Tate has started her own modeling agency, 'Hourglass,' with gorgeous, sexy, real women of all sizes. The toothpicks snicker at first, but when demand proves that the world is ready for the change, one of the toothpicks opts for a career change: assassin. And her first job is to take Marilee out.

6. The superhero known as Black Widow wears a costume with a red hourglass on the front. Okay, he's not really a superhero, he's an exterminator. But a guy can dream, can't he?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Magic and insanity are a dangerous combination. [As are power tools and insanity, machine guns and insanity, earth-moving equipment and insanity . . . Actually, pretty much anything is dangerous when combined with insanity.] As the sole heir to a cursed [and insane] family, this is something Mika Haitara knows far too well.

When Mika's mentor is the latest victim in a series of brutal attacks, Mika is charged with finding who or what is responsible. [Is Mika an officer of the law? If not, who charges her with this task?] [Also, who or what? Here's a tip: if he was killed with a gun, knife, rope, lead pipe, candlestick or wrench, it's who. If he's covered with claw and bite marks, it's what.] Not an easy task when there's a family enemy insisting he wants to help, her best friend seems to thinks it's his job to protect her, and her familiar, Akiran, would rather join the killing spree.

But Mika has bigger problems. Every spell she casts steals a little of her life energy, yet using magic is the only way to prevent her family's curse from destroying her sanity. [This is the plot of Catch 22, but in the Pacific Theater.]

Time is running out.

HOURGLASS is a [an] urban fantasy complete at 68,000 words and would appeal to fans of Robin D. Owens's 'Enchanted No More'. [Never heard of it, but a visit to the author's site reveals the plot to be: "Guilt-ridden by a mistake that cost her family their lives, half-Lightfolk, half-human Jenni Weavers turns her back on her magical heritage...until her remaining brother who hates her is trapped and she's the only one who can step into an alternate dimension to save him." This leads me to suggest that you say Hourglass would appeal to readers who would enjoy reading something less wacko than Enchanted No More.] It's my first novel and I would be delighted to send you the manuscript at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

* The title Hourglass comes from a miniature hourglass Mika wears on a necklace that shows how long she has to live. [If I'm gonna wear an hourglass that shows how long I have to live, there's not gonna be anything miniature about it. Except the hole in the middle. The hourglass itself is gonna be the size of a Buick.] [How long does it take the necklace hourglass to de-sand? How long has she had it? Where'd she get it?]


People have an innate hatred of hourglasses, thanks to the tiny hourglass that appears on the monitor when their computer freezes. Even those who switched to a Mac to escape the hourglass haven't forgotten. So you might want to change Mika's hourglass necklace to a countdown timer like you see on TV bombs that the hero is trying to disarm. I've always wondered why criminal masterminds include a visible countdown timer that allows the hero to know exactly how much time is left before it explodes. If I manufactured a bomb with a countdown timer, I'd rig it to explode at four seconds instead of zero, since the hero tends to disarm it somewhere in the one to three range.

It doesn't seem like hourglasses would ever have been useful for anything except timing something that lasts one hour. Unless you had a crew of workers who did eight hour shifts watching and flipping the hourglass and recording the time on a wall chart. I have a theory that the reason soccer (football) uses the ridiculous system of running the clock even during time outs for goals and penalties and fights, instead of stopping the clock when the action is stopped, is because originally the time was kept with a forty-five-minute hourglass, which was flipped at halftime. Hey, it's the 21st century, FIFA, not the 19th. We have clocks that can be stopped and started with the push of a button.

I think an interesting experiment would be for everyone to have to go a week with no clocks, just hourglasses. Maybe then we'd appreciate what life was like in the Middle Ages.

As for the query, it's mainly setup. You provide us with Mika's situation, and a list of some obstacles she must overcome, but how does she plan to find the killer? How much time is on that hourglass? Can the curse be broken, and if so, does Mika know how? Does stopping the killing spree somehow break the curse? It would be more exciting if we knew how much time she had, and what she had to do in that much time. In short, make us feel the tension as the grains of sand inexorably fall.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Beginning 924

A way out was easy to find, if you knew where to look. Most avoided rooftops, but that was where I met them, those who begged for my help. Tonight marked another purge, as I came to call these things. Streetlights cast a blue glow over the city, the chosen color meant to sooth the citizens. To say city life has been stressful the last few weeks would be a drastic understatement.

"No man left behind. Yeah. I don't believe in that." I sniffed. "If you don't keep up, I won't turn back for you. Got it?"

The huddled group nodded together. I counted ten of them, a new record, but I would be lucky to help half tonight. As the group looked on, awaiting my instructions, I twisted my spiked heel into the rooftop gravel, popping open the trap door leading into the club below. Music blew through the opening.

I glanced at their pale, nervous faces. A couple had the damned dragon shirts, though most had tried to look inconspicuous. Once we were all in it wouldn't matter.

"One more time," I said. "What's tonight's mission?"

"Talk to girls," they intoned.

"Good. Now, we're going in."

I waited at the rear to make sure no one backed out. When the last one dropped in, I followed, relieved.

Taking nerds to a club is tough, yeah, but someone's gotta do it.

Opening: Lisa Aldin.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Beginning 923

Alexandria buried her face in her hands as Rhea snapped the Johnny-Depp-wanna-be's G-string. Alex's idea of girls' Night Out was dinner and a movie. Unfortunately, Rhea's version included half-naked men dancing at the Hangar Club's "Thursday Night is Ladies' Knight". Alex still wasn't sure how Rhea had talked her into this. At least Rhea hadn't ordered a lap dance. Yet.

Enrigue Iglesias's Hero blared over the speakers. Another dancer, wearing a fire fighter's jacket complete with red suspenders and a pair of jeans, strut onto the stage. Adonis would have been self-conscious around him. The jacket slid over impossibly broad shoulders. His blonde curls framed sky blue eyes, which fixed on Alex.

Get out, a voice echoed in her head.

Her mouth dried. She choked when she tried to swallow.

"Can we go now?" she shouted over the music.

Rhea tore her eyes from the Johnny-Depp-wanna-be's gyrations. "After It's Raining Men. I love that number."

Alex took a sip of her strawberry daiquiri. Propellers and flying paraphernalia decorated the walls of the refurbished airplane hangar. She looked up. A small plane, a Cessna, maybe, hung from the rafters above the stage. Each time Rhea had forced her to come here, Alex wondered what would happen if that plane ever broke free.


"Come on, Rhea," Alexandria insisted. "This is all so tawdry. Fake."

Rhea rolled her eyes. Dammit. "Okay, okay. Let's go." She grabbed her purse and her iPhone and followed Alex to the door.

* * *

Johnny Depp looked down from the stage and shrugged. Whatever. Still beats making another crappy Pirates of the Caribbean movie, he thought as he removed the thong.

Opening: Nancy.....Continuation: Anon.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Face-Lift 990

Guess the Plot

King's Mark

1. 26 generations of royal, first-born sons have had a crown-shaped birthmark over their hearts. When Ardolf is born with an elephant on his left butt-cheek and his twin sister, Aelfhild, has the crown over her heart, the kingdom is divided over who should rule. War ensues.

2. 735 AD. Brother Harald has been tasked with illuminating the Gospel of St Mark for the King. He feels unworthy of the commission--until St Mark himself appears to pose for his portrait.

3. Stone carver Leti is kidnapped by traders who've seen his otter birthmarks. They turn him over to the criminal mastermind known only as The Steward. Escaping, Leti finds his home destroyed and his people killed, and vows to instigate change throughout the land.

4. Katrian is a King's Mark, a man who stands in for King Junius for mundane tasks like fitting clothes. When he stumbles upon an assassination plot led by the Queen, can he save the King without becoming a marked man?

5. Rupprecht Luitpold would have been King of Bavaria but the monarchy was dissolved at the end of WWI. Hitler offers to restore Rupprecht’s crown but he spurns Hitler so The NAZIs seize the Luitpold estate and property. As Rupprecht flees, he spends his last Deutsch Mark on a beer and curses the coin. This is the story of that coin.

6. The last princess of Gorune gave birth to identical triplet sons, each bearing the birthmark that identifies them as king. A mix-up means nobody's sure which was born first. Now the brothers, enjoying their playboy lifestyles must battle to the death, the victor to be King. Why can't they just pull a sword from a stone?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

There is nothing Leti loves better than hunting along the river and practicing his stone carving. [In the game of stone/carving knife/roast turkey, stone beats carving knife.] Until now, his clan’s protection has allowed him to do just that.

But when visiting traders discover the otter-print birthmarks on Leti’s hands, [Otter print.] they kidnap and smuggle him into a hostile city where the King’s Mark is the sign of a traitor. [This guy has the mark of a traitor. Should we kill him, leave him here trying to carve a stone with a knife, or bring him to our home city?] And the Steward doesn’t tolerate traitors. [The Steward? That's the nickname your supervillain has chosen to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies?]

Instead of being executed, Leti is sold to a rebel leader, who plans to use Leti’s existence as a rallying point.

[Trader: We have captured this simple stone carver and brought him to you. He must be executed, for these marks on his hands prove he will one day betray someone, possibly us.

The Steward: I have a better idea. I'll sell him to the leader of the rebellion. What harm can come from that? Besides, I can use the cash.]

Leti escapes [by carving a boulder into a war club], only to find his home destroyed and his clan scattered, killed, or sold into slavery. Instigating change suddenly becomes personal. [Instigating change?

Leti: WTF? I'm gone three weeks and my home is destroyed and my people killed or enslaved?

Old man sitting by the side of the road: Hey, it happens.

Leti: Not any more, it doesn't. It's time someone . . . instigated change!]

Aided by another Marked, a ruthless, charismatic guttersnipe-turned-revolutionary [with beaver prints on his feet], Leti begins to work with the insurgency. [In real life, the ruthless, charismatic revolutionary doesn't aid the rock sculptor. He forces the rock sculptor to aid him.] [Is the insurgency the rebels he escaped from?] Little does he know that the Steward is the least of his worries – another enemy hides in the shadows, [An enemy known as . . . The Custodian!] and the rebellion is playing right into his hands.

KING’S MARK, complete at 90,000 words, is a fast-paced epic fantasy. Additional material is available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


What are these rebels the Steward sells Leti to rebelling against? Surely not the Steward. You don't sell a Marked to your enemy. Or does the Mark mean he'll be a traitor to whomever has him?

For those minions who inevitably will ask what makes this different from all the other sculptor-vows-revenge-on-evil-overlord stories out there, I have two words: otter prints.

The writing is okay, but maybe you need to clear up some of the points that seem a little off.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

New Beginning 922

The bottle came back around and Frankie took it, held it in her hands like a newborn, and this time she was sure.

It isn’t just me, she thought. We’ve all changed.

But none of them looked different, and except for the thing with the bottle none of them acted any different. Maybe they were quieter than usual, but that could be attributed to the weather. An ugly storm was setting up in the night sky like a band before a gig, tuning instruments of thunder and wind. The night was cool and smelled of approaching rain.

Harpo had built a fire in an overturned hubcap, feeding it rags and leaves until it matured enough to consume segments of a dead tree branch. He sat on a wobbly office chair toward the rear of the concrete room that had once been a factory or warehouse, Frankie wasn’t sure which. There was something wrong with his left knee that prevented him bending it, so he had improvised a pedestal of upended cinder blocks to keep the hubcap up where he could reach it. To Frankie’s eyes, the structure looked like a sad mock-up of the Olympic pyre.

Mikael had found a tarpaulin and dragged it inside. He'd laid it out, weighted down with jagged concrete shards, to protect them from the damp of the floor. And now he sat and stared at the bottle.

Lorne had set snares before the sun drifted down to the horizon. He'd caught two rabbits and prepared a stew. He said nothing, just glared at Frankie.

Frankie tried to pass the bottle to Harpo, but Harpo shook his head. "One thing," he said. "One thing is all you had to do. The simplest task of us all. Bring the fucking corkscrew."

Opening: JRMosher.....Continuation: Anon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Face-Lift 989

Guess the Plot

Sora Finch

1. "Sora Finch. Then I sora pigeon. Then I sora another finch. Then I sora shitload of sparrows." David Beckham takes us on a stroll through some of the world's greatest ornithological spotting grounds, mate.

2. 8-year-old Sora Finch's life has been the same routine of begging and scraping since she can remember. When an old man, Jode, turns up and offers to pay her if she'll learn to read, life gets almost cushy. That is, until Jode is found slaughtered on the dockside and the king's men are looking for her...

3. Ella gets out of Boston for a day, and returns with green skin, an implanted microchip and no memory of what happened. "Sora finch," is all she says, uttering the phrase over and over.

4. Sora Finch lives in a skyscraper community because living on the surface is too dangerous, what with bloodthirsty stray dog-creatures roaming about. Then Sora befriends a captured stray and steals a hovercraft to take him below before her father can kill him, but she crashes and gets captured. Ever have one of those days?

5. Sora's talent on the violin has brought her fame, but her travel schedule keeps her from making any close friends. She'd like to go to high school, but her parents have gotten used to living the high society life--and banking Sora's paychecks. Then Sora meets Charlie. Conflict ensues.

6. Is it a code name? An anagram? A message from beyond? No one's sure, but when the words "sora finch" appear in the sky, panic engulfs the world's population and wars break out across the globe. Hopefully it doesn't turn out to be the name of some fat guy's sled.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Born and raised in a skyscraper community 800 feet in the air, thirteen-year-old Sora spends most of her time tumbling along the walkways that connect the eight towers of Cumulus City. Everyone knows not to look down but Sora can't help it. [It seems every super-tall building has an observation deck so people can look down. Why is looking down a bad thing?] She wants a closer look at the blood-thirsty strays (dog-like creatures) that forced society to move to the sky decades ago. [Looking down at dog-like animals from 800 feet up isn't going to provide a close look.]

When her father, a stray hunter, catches one alive, Sora's curiosity leads her to the cage, where she discovers the beauty in the monster she's been taught to fear all her life. As Sora develops a secret friendship with the creature, the scientists decide it is too dangerous to keep alive. The night before the death sentence is carried out, ["It's too dangerous to keep alive . . . But let's not kill it until Thursday."] Sora, with the help of her two best friends, "borrows" a hovercraft and flies the stray out of the community to safety. [Do they let the stray out of the cage, or do they take the cage to the hovercraft?]

When the hovercraft crash [hyphen] lands in the center of a traveling town, [What's a traveling town?] Sora and her friends experience their first taste of the world below. They are immediately held captive [captured] by a boy named Trick, who lives among the strays. Sora convinces the boy that they mean no harm but before Trick will let them go, Sora must help with his mission, a mission that will pull her back into the sky, where she will confront her disapproving father [His daughter freed a bloodthirsty creature and stole and crashed a hovercraft, and he "disapproves"?] and discover the power that lies within her compassion.

Sora Finch is a middle-grade fantasy complete at 40,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Human befriends creature. It's a time-tested plot, from Frankenstein to Beauty and the Beast to the Julia Roberts/Lyle Lovett marriage.

There's gotta be a bigger attraction to the walkways than just trying to catch a glimpse of strays, if Sora spends most of her time tumbling along them. What exactly does "tumbling along" them mean?

People have moved into skyscrapers to avoid strays, and even though we have guys whose job it is to hunt strays, we haven't been able to take back the surface for decades? What are we hunting them with, squirt guns?

Success Story

Tory Michaels reports that her novel Blood Rage (Face-Lift 735, originally titled Love and Lies) will be released Wednesday by Evernight Publishing. She credits us with her success, but I wouldn't be surprised to find she played a role as well.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Highly Anticipated Pub Date

Possibly the funniest book we read in our book chats was Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell. A sequel comes out Tuesday. The title is Wild Thing.

Beat the Reaper Trailer

Face-Lift 988

Guess the Plot

Kissing Titans

1. Things have been quiet for some time on Mount Olympus. Then Aphrodite writes her tell-all book.

2. They're called the Kissing Titans--a pair of sheer granite cliffs that soar over Nunez Canyon. When Mark Heller decides to free climb them both in one day, a local shaman warns him about dragons that live on the summit.

3. High school student Rhyan's has just landed her first boyfriend. Great, right? Not necessarily. The boyfriend turns out to be one of the Titans from Greek mythology. When he attacks her and leaves her for dead, is it the end of their romance?

4. The other sky and earth gods have paired up, fallen in love and started raising their new families. But Gaia just can't seem to get into Uranus.

5. With a lazy flick of his wrist, Bill Gates sends the bottle of 1869 Chateau Lafitte twirling. When it comes to a stop pointing squarely at Ted Turner, Bill is intrigued. Why the hell not? They're super-rich, super-bored, and that mustache probably tickles.

6. The Bullfrogs' Cheerleaders come up with a desperate plan; flirt with the undefeated Titans! Flak from jealous girlfriends and infighting will surely derail the team! It seems like a perfect plan to cheerleader Debbie--until gorgeous Titan Quarterback Thad makes a few passes of his own.

Original Version

Hi Evil Editor,

It's Rhyan's senior year and she is the new girl. Again. For years she's been friendless and alone in the isolating shadow of her mother's rape and stepfather's sudden death. All that changes when Rhyan lands her first boyfriend who shows Rhyan the beauty of living in the moment. [Specifically, the moment he's ready to hit the sheets with her.]

Rhyan's new life appears too good to be true when her friend reveals he is an immortal on a mission to right an evil wrong. [That could be interpreted to mean his revelation makes her life too good to be true, when you mean the opposite. Perhaps replace "when" with "--until".] She begins to question his sanity - and her own - until she discovers Ares, the decomposing remnant of the Greek god of war, is responsible for the violence that destroyed her family. [Lemme get this straight. When her boyfriend reveals that he is an immortal (presumably one of the Titans who were defeated by the Olympian gods), she questions her own sanity. But when she becomes convinced that her family's recent tragedies were caused by the decomposing remnant of a Greek god, her sanity is no longer in doubt?/Perhaps replace "- until" with ", when".] [Out of curiosity, which Titan is Rhyan's boyfriend? I hope it's not Atlas, because it's really hard to dance with someone who's a lot taller than you.]

Vengeance is no longer a fantasy for Rhyan, it's her fate, and it's so real she can taste it until [I'd put a period after fate and replace "and it's so real she can taste it until" with "But then".] her own boyfriend attacks her leaving her for dead. [Evil Overlord rule to live by #245: I will not attack the heroine and leave her for dead. Instead I will kill her and have her body cremated in my presence.] In the face of heartbreaking betrayal Rhyan must decide if revenge, alone, is worth living for and if she's willing to go through hell to make Ares pay. [What about making her boyfriend pay? Or has she forgiven him? And how does she plan to take down an Olympian god? Is she a normal teenager or does she have latent super powers? Does "go through hell" involve gaining powers? In other words, can you be more specific about her two options?]

KISSING TITANS, my YA urban fantasy, is complete at 84,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration,


The plot you describe is dark; the title is light. So light it's reminding me of the 1964 movie Kissin' Cousins, in which Elvis plays identical cousins (an obvious ripoff of The Patty Duke Show). By the way, if it's not too late, you might consider giving Rhyan an identical cousin. It's always easier to get revenge on someone if you have a twin, and it provides comic relief, badly needed in a book about death, rape, betrayal, abuse and vengeance.

Does the evil wrong her boyfriend wants to right have anything to do with Ares? Because if it does, why would the boyfriend attack and leave for dead someone who wants to take down the same person he wants to take down? One would think he originally hooked up with her so he'd have an ally. How did hooking up with Rhyan aid the boyfriend's mission?