Friday, June 29, 2012

Face-Lift 1042

Guess the Plot

Tears of an Angel

This book doesn't exist; the query comes from a writing exercise in which the task was to write a query based on one of the fake plots on this blog. Which should make choosing the correct plot more difficult than usual. [The top 3 titles in the query queue are for actual books, and await a few more fake plots.]

1. Felicity Miller is the closest thing to an angel on Earth, When she steps on a shell at the beach, her pain leads to tears which release the demon Canziel from his conch shell prison. Cranziel immediately sets out to make all of mankind suffer by cutting off their delicious supply of shellfish.

2. When her tears When a bad fall at the Regional Ice Skating Championships leaves 16-year-old Missy Watanabe in a wheelchair, it seems her dreams of Olympic glory are dashed forever...until she hears of a miracle cure from a weeping statue of Mary. Can she convince her family to make the trip to the highlands of Bolivia for a cure--and will a miracle really happen?

3. Da’miqua’s mother died when she was only 3. She was raised by her paternal grandmother while her father worked on an oil rig thousands of miles away to provide for his family. Now in her early 20’s the dad she barely knew moves in with her after a life-changing injury.

4. The new ladies-only pub in Tottenham is a roaring success, until beagle trainer Martha Pates is found buried in the garden. Worse, Inspector Ada Menzies suspects her own mother.

5. When someone steals the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Our Lady of Guadeloupe mission, crack detective Zach Martinez knows two things: the upcoming Tears of an Angel festival is in serious jeopardy, and he still owes some Hail Mary’s from his last confession.

6. As priests, nuns, and even the Pope's own guard rush to locate him, angel Michael must place his trust in neophyte nun Sister Mary Celeste, to return to Heaven and keep the most powerful relic of all – the tears of an angel – from falling into the wrong hands.

Original Version

The Millers have it all – wealth, a beautiful house, and the sweetest, most talented daughter anyone could ask for. That all changes the day their little angel, Felicity, trips over a seashell on vacation in the Florida Keys. For little do they know, but that seashell was planted on that particular beach just waiting for that particular angel to fall. And when Felicity’s tears of pain and grief land on the shell, the demon Cranziel is unleashed on the Earth.

Cranziel has been waiting centuries for this opportunity, ever since Saint Michael caught him attempting to break all the shells of all the shellfish in the world. For punishment, Cranziel was sentenced to spend the rest of eternity in a conch shell. The curse could only be broken if an angel sheds a tear for him, and the closest thing to an angel south of Heaven itself is Felicity Miller. Cranziel has been planting himself in her path ever since he felt her step foot on his beach, and his luck has finally paid off. The girl falls, scrapes her knee in the sand, and cries all over his pink prison. [She cried on the shell at the end of the previous paragraph; no need to repeat it.]

Now he’s free, angry, and determined to make all of mankind suffer by cutting off the delicious and lucrative supply of shellfish, starting with the fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

Unfortunately for him, the Miller family’s fortune is derived from shrimp fishing in southern Louisiana, and Felicity is very fond of the ponies and hair ribbons her parent’s [parents'] business affords her. Not to mention the shoes. She’s not about to let it all go without a fight. She’s seen every episode of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” at least three times, and she’s ready to take on evil wherever it lurks. If that means taking out some scumbag of a shell-breaking demon, she’s up for the fight. Armed with a sledgehammer and steel-toed boots, she’s in the mood to crack some shells of her own.

Tears of an Angel is a 666,000 word memoir, told through diary entries, culled from my own experiences of demon hunting in the America South.

I look forward to hearing from you. If not, well . . . I know how to deal with demons wherever I find them.


Obviously the author doesn't need comments about the plot. It's possible the author would like constructive comments on the query. Or not. Depends on if this was done for practice or just for laughs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Face-Lift 1041

Guess the Plot

Hillary the Heroic

1. The Iraqis hate the Iranians, the Turks don’t care for the Syrians, and nobody likes North Korea. In her final days as Secretary of State, can Hillary bring everyone together under an umbrella of lasting world peace, harmony, and acceptance, finally becoming... Heroic?

2. Ten year old Hillary Rodham is an expert problem solver. Little brother won't stop pestering you? Your cat stuck up a tree? Hillary the Heroic is there to help. Follow the antics of the plucky young girl who dreams of one day becoming the Secretary of State.

3. Hillary quit the superhero business years ago and became a secretary. No, not the Secretary of State. A different Hillary. Now her husband is having a midlife crisis and wants to be a superhero. I said, not that Hillary. Then there's the teenage supervillain whose father thinks she's just going through a phase, and wants Hillary's help. All in a day's work for . . . Hillary the Heroic.

4. Hillary is the toughest tomboy of P.S. 31. But now in the 3rd grade a new girl joins the school. Can Hillary prove she still is the most heroic?

5. A teen in Bujumbura strikes up a pen pal relationship with a writer in Oslo. When Aimee discovers that Bergliot has been using her life in a series of children's books, she plans an epic trip to confront the woman who stole her life.

6. Hillary makes her living as a hero for hire in a small village near Córdoba, Spain. However, her life is turned upside down when a spelling error attracts the attention of the Spanish Inquisition. Who knew replacing an "o" with "et" could cause so much trouble?

The following query was labeled a practice query by the author. It's not one of the fakes (we had the opening a while back,) but the book may not be complete. Author?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Hillary Dervish likes being a secretary. After her years of fighting crime as a masked super heroine, she likes the slower pace of civilian life. But when Declan Goodman’s teenage daughter Desdemona turns into a super villain, she [Hillary] agrees to help out. After all, she’s survived not only criminals, but also three teenagers. [You should identify Declan: Neighbor? Boss? Complete stranger?]

Declan is convinced that Des’s villainy is just a phase. He wants Hillary to talk some sense into the girl before another superhero drags her off to prison, where he fears she’ll turn into a serious, dangerous villain. But Hillary’s fiery powers have been a little out of whack lately…ever since she hit those pesky middle-age years.

Then Hillary gets hit with a new problem. Her husband suffers a midlife crisis and decides that he wants to be a superhero too. And who better to take down than [what better way to prove his mettle/start his career than to take down] the new teenage villainess?

My publishing credits include several pieces on your blog, and a trilogy published on Facebook and "liked" by all of my friends. [At least you put your credits in the right order, although the second one isn't worth including.] Please consider my 600,000 word fantasy magnum opus for immediate publication and a Nobel.



Good voice for a comedic story. Where does this book stand?

The first sentence is blah. We don't need to know she's a secretary. After years of fighting crime as a masked super heroine, Hillary Dervish is eager to settle into civilian life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Face-Lift 1040

Guess the Plot

Appalachian Trail

1. Hank always wanted to go on the great American road trip after high school. But all he could afford was a bike ride up the mountains of Tennessee.

2. 101 recipes featuring nuts and berries. Also, up-to-date hiking maps.

3. Divyanga Singh is working toward his Masters in Computer Science. To relax, he spends his weekends coding “Appalachian Trail,” a sequel to the cult classic computer game “Oregon Trail.” When Appalachian Trail becomes a hit on campus, Div suddenly becomes very popular with the ladies. But what will he tell his parents, busy arranging a marriage for him back in Delhi?

4. Biff Hardcastle’s Eagle Scout troop is hiking the Shenandoahs from Otter Creek to Humpback Rocks. Little do they know that Tara Lustig’s Girl Scouts are hiking from Humpback Rocks to Otter Creek. Will everyone be prepared when they meet on the... Appalachian Trail?

5. They thought it was just an 80's era computer game meant to teach them American history. But when an electric surge sucks Mikey, Diego, and Kim into the past, they'll be glad they learned so much about geography, the importance of proper supplies, and dysentery.

6. Hiking the Appalachian Trail was supposed to help Nate forget about his tragic past. Instead he keeps running into other hikers who are also trying to forget their tragic pasts and who insist on evaluating and reevaluating their tragic pasts and comparing them with Nate's tragic past.

Original Version

Nate Townsend is hiking the Appalachian Trail, but not for adventure or challenge -- he’s walking to escape. With each mile, he steps further away from the people and tragic cascade of events that took away his wife and young daughter, and yet the memories continue to torment him. [I can't tell if the tragic cascade of events was Nate's affair with a Bulgarian dockworker, after which his wife left him, taking their daughter, or if it was Nate refusing to carry out a hit on Carlo Gambino's wife and daughter, after which Nate's mob boss had Nate's wife and daughter killed. Or something else entirely.] As he crosses paths with other hikers and townspeople, each carrying their own humorous quirks and emotional scars, [Apparently no one hikes this trail for adventure or challenge. A therapist could set up a practice on the Appalachian Trail and retire young.] Nate is forced to reevaluate his flight and confront his past trauma. [Question for discussion: Do you have to evaluate your flight before you can reevaluate it?] Through a series of flashbacks, the cause of his tortured pilgrimage is revealed. [If only one or two of these flashbacks were in the query.] With the help of one very special woman who joins his journey, Nate must make a climactic decision about his trail’s end. [What are his choices?]

I would love for you to represent my first novel, APPALACHIAN TRAIL, a 98,000-word work of commercial fiction.

A native Southerner recently relocated to New York City, I honed my writing skills for 15 years [while trying to find my way off the Appalachian Trail.] as a newspaper reporter and editor, including at The Oak Ridger (Tenn.), Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal, Florence (S.C.) Daily News.

I thank you for considering representing APPALACHIAN TRAIL and I look forward to your response.


One could get the impression you're trying to be as vague as possible. All these phrases refer to the same thing: tragic cascade of events, memories, his past trauma, the cause of his tortured pilgrimage. How about just telling us what happened so we can sympathize with (or blame) the guy?

This sounds like literary fiction. If it were commercial fiction you wouldn't have so much trouble coming up with a few intriguing plot points.

Here's how I think the book goes: Nate gets on the Trail in Georgia and soon encounters Boston Bill, who's hiking south to forget the tragic juggling accident that cost him his left leg. In North Carolina Nate runs into Lou, who has Tourette's Syndrome and is hiking to forget his one great love, his ventriloquist's dummy. Somehow this forces Nate to reevaluate his flight, whatever that means. Then in Virginia he meets Alison, and she convinces him to hike north to New York, exit the Trail, and become a novelist.

If you don't want me to think that's what happens, you need to provide more specifics about what does happen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Face-Lift 1039

Guess the Plot

Cassandra of the Crescent Moon

1. You won't find a house of ill-fame with a better reputation than The Crescent Moon. That is, until Kitty Kimberly decides to start throwing in free fortune-telling with her other services, and the prophecies start coming true with alarming regularity.

2. When your mom is half-vampire, half-werewolf, your dad is part were-tiger, part were-whale and part-nosferatu, 'that time of the month' takes on a whole new meaning.

3. Cassandra is 1/4th werewolf. This means she becomes a disgruntled dog on the night of the crescent moon. After her werewolf grandmother dies Cassandra  becomes the pack leader. Can she lead a pack of over 100 werewolves when she isn’t really one of them?

4. Cassandra is a witch, which is against the law, so she lives in isolation. But she'll have to expose herself if she wants to rescue her grandmother from kidnappers. Although her grandmother's also a witch, so maybe she can rescue herself. Also, a talking dog and cat.

5. For months Nina's been trying to warn Crescent Colony that Earth plans to take over their profitable Moon base, but no one will listen. Is her only recourse to perform classic Greek tragedy in the cafeteria?

6. Every new moon, Althea gets a true vision of what's going to happen over the next month. It never involves Karten falling in love with her. Can she use a steam clock, a brass hygrometer, and pixie dust to convince Karten a) her visions are true and b) he should ask her out?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When twelve year old [12-year-old] Cassandra Kelly wakes after the car accident that killed her parents, she finds herself in a strange house in the woods. [Was she in the car when the accident occurred?] Cassie is stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no TV, no internet, [Internet] no phone, [Kill me now.] and no one but a strange old lady (seriously, who doesn't have a phone?) [You gotta have a phone. In an emergency you gotta be able to reach Dominos.] to keep her company.

The strange old lady is Nan, the grandmother Cassie never knew existed, and, as Cassie soon discovers, the two of them share a family secret. [You wake in a strange house in the middle of nowhere and a strange old lady says, "Your parents are dead. You can call me granny. I know you'd like to confirm what I'm saying, but I have no means of communication and your cell phone gets no bars out here." And you accept this?]

This secret is the reason for their isolation. Nan and Cassie are witches, in a place where witchcraft is not only illegal, but witches are hunted down by a secret group known as the Alchemists. [You'd think if it's illegal, they'd be hunted down by an out-in-the-open group known as the Authorities.] When a fellow witch betrays their location to the Alchemists, Nan is kidnapped and Cassie is left to make the dangerous journey to town with only the help of Nan's pets – a cat and dog who can talk to witches.

[Cat: The foodgiver's been kidnapped. Who's gonna feed us?

Dog: We must rescue the foodgiver. Wait, maybe the newhuman can be the foodgiver.]

Once in town, Cassie must harness her growing magical powers to find the traitor and rescue Nan before anyone else gets hurt. [Anyone else besides...?]

CASSANDRA OF THE CRESCENT MOON is a stand alone MG realistic fantasy, [Yes, it has witches, talking animals and an old lady with no TV, but other than that it's realistic.] with series potential. It is complete at approximately 71,000 words.

I am an associate member of SCBWI. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Why didn't the kidnappers take Cassie?

What's dangerous about the journey to town?

Does Cassie know her parents are dead? 

I assume Nan is a more experienced witch than Cassie, so why can't she make the kidnappers disappear or turn them into toads?

Most of these questions can be answered by adding a few words to a sentence. It'll add specificity to the query.

Nothing is gained by calling this realistic.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Face-Lift 1038

Guess the Plot

Princess of Swans

1. One word, people: were-swans. YOU'RE WELCOME.

2. Gina has always felt like the ugliest of ducklings. Now 27, she still hasn’t become a “swan.” With only 6 months until her best friend’s wedding she vows to be a princess of swans . . . if it’s the last thing she does.

3. Little Amberly is thrilled when a flock of swans settle into the pond at the neighborhood park. But that's before they start crapping all over the play equipment and chasing tiny children away from their territory. Turns out wild swans don't really want a princess.

4. When a witch turns Michael into a swan - a girl swan - the last thing he wants is anyone turning him back. But to hide, he's going to have to fly off the beaten migration path.

5. Taunted as a child, Cygnet never fit in. When she finally discovers the truth of her parentage, Cygnet rises to claim her birthright. Not only can ugly ducklings grow up to be swans – they can grow up to be princesses too.

6. The king of Amgovar keeps his disfigured daughter imprisoned in a tiny castle. Who wants to look at that face every day? But when her marriage to the prince of a neighboring kingdom is foretold, the princess escapes and goes to win her husband. Of course, he hasn't actually seen her yet... Plus, prophesies don't always come true, right?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Princess Feyana Belmaron may be heir to the throne of Amgovar, but she’s no man’s idea of a prize.  For ten years, the king has confined his dark-skinned, disfigured daughter to a tiny, outland castle to shield her from the perils of court. [Readers are going to wonder what dark skin has to do with anything. My research reveals that the ugly duckling in Andersen's The Ugly Duckling was merely ugly, not dark-feathered. In fact, in cartoon versions, the ugly duckling is white, while the other ducklings are yellow.] The high stone walls protect Feyana from every danger but the one she fears most -- loneliness. [Doesn't she have a lady-in-waiting? Or at least one of those talking mirrors that tells her how fair she is?]

But when an injured volkarei foretells Feyana‘s marriage to the crown prince of Amgovar’s bitterest enemy, she upends the princess’s quiet life for good. [No wonder she's lonely if her only companion is an injured volkarei.] [Also, what's a volkarei? The closest Google can find is a Volkswagen beetle.] Such a marriage would not only free her from her isolation, but permanently end the war. [War? There's a war?] There’s only one catch: the prince likely has no idea Feyana exists, and prophecies aren’t always what they seem… [That's two catches.]

Unwilling to leave her people’s fate to chance, Feyana escapes her castle prison and ventures out to win the prince.  It won’t be easy. Pirates, soldiers, and thugs fill her path, all eager to get their hands on (or blades in) a renegade princess.  One of her newfound allies is a traitor; the other hides a dangerous secret. [Nice job of choosing allies, Princess. Reminds me of when Italy hooked up with Nazi Germany.] Even her prince may prove a threat. [Especially when he gets a look at her.] To save her country, the sheltered Feyana must first save herself -- and Dal help the monster who stands in her way. [Monster? There's a monster? ]

PRINCESS OF SWANS is a 105,000 word YA fantasy.  Thank you for your consideration.


Usually we say Dal help anyone who stands in her way. Is there a monster? If there's a monster, Feyana may yet have a shot at true love. Also, monsters belong in the first sentence, not the last. Something like: Princess of Swans is the story of a woman only a monster could love; conveniently, there happens to be a monster in the book.

Is this a take on The Ugly Duckling? It sounds more like a take on Beauty and the Beast. Where do the swans come in? In any case, it does sound like a fairy tale, and if it's really for a YA audience, you may need to make it sound more grown-up.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Beginning 959

Tiki Bob preferred to work alone.

Perhaps “preferred” was too mild a word. He insisted.

Which was why, when Kandy Kane’s mutilated body was found under a massive pile of sawdust in the backyard where he created his masterpieces, Bob was the obvious suspect and arrested on the spot.

The usual Tuesday night crowd at the Main Street Wine Bar was outraged.

“It’s impossible!” declared one patron. “He loved the heck out of that girl. Everyone knows that.”

“Bob wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said another. “I say that because I’ve actually seen him catch a fly in his house and take it outside to release it. You’d never guess it from looking at the man, but he’s sure got quick hands.”

Even mild-mannered former judge James Cartwright had a few choice words to say. “The cop’s are friggin’ idiots on this one. If I were still on the bench and this case came up in front of me, I’d give ‘em a tongue lashing that’d sting their rear ends for months! And that idiot D.A. for even allowing it!”

I sat on a wine barrel bar stool, dangling my short legs, sipping a Fresita and listening to the chatter.

That's when Tiki Bob walked in. "I wanna thank all you boozers," he said as he made the rounds shaking everyone's hand. "Between you guys and my Twitter followers, there was so much support for me, the cops let me go. They picked up a homeless guy instead."

We all applauded as Bob left the bar. It was then that a bunch of us noticed we were missing our wallets. Yep, Bob's still got them quick hands.

Opening: Lisa Hurley.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writing Exercise

The current lack of queries leads me to take desperate measures: A query-writing exercise.

1. Go to this random number generator and generate a random number from 1 to 1037.

2. Locate the Face-Lift that corresponds with that number in the archives of this blog.

3. Choose any one of the fake plots (make sure it's not the real plot) and write a query letter for that book.

4. As we already have fake plots for the original title, come up with a better title so we can play Guess the Plot with your query letter.

5. Hurry up. We're dying here.

New Beginning 958

It was 10:30 and we were halfway through the quarterly meeting when my clothing combusted. Several people gasped, and Celine Carter started giggling. I just stood up, dumped my cup of water down the front of my pantsuit, grabbed my briefcase, and said, “Excuse me.” Jennings pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand and waved me out with the other. 

I fumed all the way to the bathroom, clothes sizzling and the whole office gawking. Maddening. Just maddening. I’d always heard menopause was painful for super heroines, but this? This was humiliating! This was my third pantsuit in a week to explode; the second in a month to explode during a meeting.

I shucked off the ashy pantsuit and pulled a skirt and blouse from my briefcase. As I struggled into the new outfit, I called my husband on my cell.

“Jeff? I need an asbestos wardrobe!”

Jeff sighed. “Oh, sweetie. The flame retardant didn’t help?”

“No! I had a hot flash, and my clothes blew up. Again! It’s just…it’s so frustrating.”

“Maybe we could get Edna to make something for you? She dresses all the hip you--hip superheroes, doesn’t she? Or, wait, maybe we can just pull your old suit out of the attic!”

I huffed into the phone. “Even if I could fit into it, which I seriously doubt, I’d like to remind you that when I wore that thing, I only shot fire from my hands. It won’t do anything against a full body hot flash!”

“You could always quit your job and just sit around the house naked.”

* * * 

Jesus H. Christ!" Stan hollered. "I Know I said we needed a female superhero in our comics line, and that I wanted it written by a woman, but issue 1 was breast feeding in public, issue 2 was that time of the month, and now menopause?! Firebabe has yet to take on a single villain!" 

 "But Boss," Chatsworth replied, "it's outselling Spiderman and Superman. It's the hottest title in comics." 

"I know, I know. It just feels wrong." 

"Not to worry, Boss. Next month Firebabe faces her toughest foe yet. The shoe salesman from hell, known as . . . The Misogynist!"

"Now you're talking." 

 Opening: Rachel Roy......Continuation: Evil Editor

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Beginning 957

I initiate in a large, dark room. Muffled calls echo like sound waves under water. I smell butter and salt…popcorn? A beam of light blinds me and then the dream shifts into startling clarity. A dark, crowded room – no a tent. A huge tent. With carnival music.

Am I being fed to the lions again?

Inwardly, I shudder, then notice my wrists and ankles strapped to the large round board behind me.

What new hell is this?

Amanda Huggins steps into the ring. Twin ponytails bob above her shoulders as she beams at the shadowy crowd and then bows with a flourish. Her fire-engine red jacket, a modified coat and tails, glimmers with sequins and jewels above matching shorts and slick black boots.

“Ladeeeees and gennnnntlemennnnn!” A man’s voice drawls over the loudspeaker, “Introducing the Amaaaaazing Amaaaaandaaaa! A master of the Impalement Arts, Amanda will demonstrate her daring skill with deadly accuracy by throwing twelve razor-sharp blades at her assistant! Due to the potentially lethal nature of this act, I must ask for your complete silence.”

The blond-haired, blue-eyed cheerleader from school holds three daggers aloft and faces me.

Wake up wake up wake up!

 I scream, but no one in this dream can hear me. I can’t move. I can’t beg. I can’t breathe. I can’t even close my eyes.

Amanda takes a step back and then hurls a machete at my face.

* * *

As the credits roll, Josie can't help but think that Hunger Games II seemed a little rushed.

Opening: PLaF.....Continuation: Anon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Face-Lift 1037

Guess the Plot

Going Sunside

1. Myri Has lived her whole life in the underground. She longs to see the Earth's surface. But when she and her robot Bot sneak up via the garbage pipe, Miri is thrown in jail and Bot is taken away and disassembled to create an army of robots the surface dwellers will use to conquer the underground. The grass is always greener...

2. After eons of waiting for rescue on the dark side of the moon, survivors of an intergalactic spaceship crash hike around to the sunside, where, for the first time, they see Planet Earth. Hopes for salvation turn to despair when no one's cell phone gets any bars.
3. Unsteady barfly Myles "The Gulper" Standish realizes he must move on to Career Plan B when his under-the-table activities are revealed, but what's a lush to do? He staggers out of the pub into shockingly bright sunshine just in time to collide with a donkey cart loaded with Bibles.

4. When Joe Quincey, the 47 year old couch potato, emerges from his parents' basement to celebrate the 4th of July, he gets a crush on Judy Walsh, the barmaid who lives next door, and starts building a spaceship so they can elope to Mars. Plus, her crazy ex-husband and fireworks.

5. After hiding on the Darkside of the great Martian moon for 27 years, the operatic alien horde sneaks to the Sunside with ambitions to take over the red planet. But then they encounter Screaming Mimi, the scantily-clad space goddess, her sidekick Thor Jones, astronaut, and a dragon that spits radioactive fireballs.

6. When his vampiric existence becomes unbearable Jadlock the Terrible crawls from the crypt at dawn, fully expecting to perish at sunrise, but he's in Scotland and the clouds are too bloody thick to let sunlight through so he just lies there until Loretta, the sternest meter maid in Glasgow, comes along. Hilarity ensues.

7. When the body of New York restaurant critic Joel Bernstein is found impaled on a rotisserie outside the Sunside BBQ, detective Zack Martinez knows two things: One, Bernstein wasn't here for the cole slaw, and two, ribs sound pretty good for Father's Day.

8. One side of the planet Zeon always faces its sun and the other is always in darkness. Because one side is frozen and the other is scorched, the colonies are in the band between. But smugglers are operating in the Sunside. Homicides are up and Kevin MacNaugh must organize a police force to patrol the Sunside.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Eleven-year-old Myri is an engineering apprentice living in the Deep. She longs to leave the subterranean dampness and the endless dark tunnels and go Sunside, which she imagines is a paradise. Unfortunately, it’s one to which her people aren't generally invited. But Myri gets her chance: she's ordered to the Sunside temple on an emergency plumbing mission. Her boss even lets her take Bot, the last functioning Old Earth robot and Myri’s best friend. [If I have a plumbing emergency and they send an 11-year-old girl, I'm sending her away, getting on the phone and specifically demanding a fat guy with the top of his ass crack showing. I want the job done right.] [What, all plumbers live in the Deep?]

Toilets don’t stay broken forever, though, [Actually, the one in my hall hasn't worked since the night of my colonoscopy prep. Forty years of cheese danishes will stop you up.] [I tried to have it fixed, but the last plumber who opened the bathroom door has been in a coma for six years.] and Myri and Bot are sent back to the Deep. But she can’t just say goodbye to her new Sunside friends, so a few days later she and Bot sneak back up via garbage pipe. [I don't care how good a friend you are; if you come to visit me via garbage pipe, I'm not opening the door.] But when Bot and Myri are caught, they’re both thrown in jail -- or so Myri believes.

With a little bit of Deepfolk engineering -- and the help of her new Sunside friends -- Myri escapes her cell to find Bot. But he’s not in a cell. He’s in the lab. Where the Sunsiders plan to take him apart and use him to create an army of robots. After a quick escape and a high-dive into the sea, Bot reveals that [robots don't float. And they rust.] the Sunsiders plan to use their robots to take over the Deep and "remove" the Deepfolk. [What?! Who's gonna fix their toilets now?] Myri must use everything she’s learned about the Sunsiders and everything she knows about Bot to stop the Sunsiders’ army and save her home. [When you live on the wrong end of the garbage pipe, is it really worth saving your home?]

I hope you will consider representing GOING SUNSIDE, a 50 000 word middle grade science fiction novel. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


There must be some reason Sunside wants to remove the Deepfolk. Like they are mortal enemies. But if they're enemies, why would the Deep be on-call to fix Sunside toilets? It sounds more like the Deepfolk are servants or slaves. But the haves never remove the have-nots; they need them under their thumbs. It's the have-nots who rebel against the haves. Apparently the Deep has something Sunside wants, or Sunside considers them a threat. In other words...

If there's an explanation of why Sunside is building an army of robots to take over the place they send their garbage and sewage, maybe that should be worked into the query.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Beginning 956

Hunter plopped down onto the inviting chaise. He wished he sat in his old psychiatrist’s office. That tiny office had two small windows and a comforting low ceiling. It spoke small, enclosed and safe. This new psychiatrist, aptly named Dr. Newman, had a grandiose office. High ceilings rose up above him. Where there should have been a wall, stood a stretch of glass with blinds pulled up to the very top. Some would call the view spectacular, but all Hunter thought was that it made the room too large, open and inviting.

Almost everything about the space made his throat dry and his skin itch. On the wall furthest from those expansive windows sat a lived-in brown chaise. Hunter forged himself with that piece of furniture and waited. His eyes roved from the tightly rolled shades to Dr. Newman. Back and forth they gamboled while he shook his right leg up and down.

Dr. Newman peered over the rim of his spectacles and watched Hunter. “You've improved, Hunter," he said. "You’re finally getting it. I think it's time to move on to the next phase. Now, listen carefully. You put your left leg in, you take your left leg out. You put your left leg in and you shake it all about!”

Opening: Xiexie.....Continuation: PLaF

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Synopsis 31

Anomalies are humans that produce A4P in their bodies. A4P is more powerful than ATP, [4 > T] the energy molecule found in normal humans, and is the source for [of] super human abilities that typically develop at sixteen.

Almost sixteen-year-old Maya Benedict and her family are Anomalies. Fabian Romano, a hot reclusive Italian boy (who can also become transparent) [No need to say "also" as you've mentioned no other powers he has and no one else who can become transparent.] is staying at Maya’s home for the summer. [It's a birthday present from her parents.] On the eve of Maya’s 16th birthday Maya and Fabian meet Alien Aristocracy, a teen band playing at a bistro along the Thames River. [When people start referring to Alien Aristocracy as AA, beer sales at their concerts inexplicably drop to nil.] There they meet the sexy rocker, Lorcan, [Is Lorcan a member of Alien Aristocracy? If so, they already met him in the previous sentence.] who can nullify and manipulate electricity. When someone spills beer all over [Lorcan, he is electrocuted.] Maya’s white shirt, the mortifying moment triggers Maya’s first shift. [At this point it's not clear what that means. What exactly happens? She vanishes? To where?]

Maya is determined to learn how to control her new unstable ability of teleportation, or shifting, and its repercussions on her own. She isn’t going to submit to her Mom’s stupid rules or listen to someone who won’t even share their ability with their daughter. [Those two sentences have nothing to do with the rest of this paragraph; I'd get rid of them, as they aren't clearly worded anyway.] Aristar Industries, an organization of Machiavellian Anomalies wanting to restructure the world into one that is run by Anomalies, learns of Maya’s secret ability via her very public shifting incident. They use their teenage minions, Lorcan and the other members of Alien Aristocracy, to steal samples of Fabian and Maya’s DNA. [In what form is this DNA when they steal it?]

In pursuit of their stolen DNA, [Why? Do they know what Aristar is going to do with it?] Maya and Fabian find Fabian’s missing father, Dr. Romano, and other Anomalies imprisoned in a facility in Germany run by Aristar Industries. [Lemme get this straight. You're a sixteen-year-old gir in England; someone grabs a cup you drank out of or steals your toothbrush, and even though you have no idea why they did this, you follow them to Germany to get it back?] Aristar has been forcing Dr. Romano to clone super human abilities for the private use of their mercenaries who plan to take down the British Houses of Parliament. [And if the British Houses of Parliament are taken down . . . What? Aristar Industries will rule the world?] But Dr. Romano can’t successfully make the clones without inducing progeria, accelerated aging that leads to death. [Inducing it in the clones or the originals? If the clones, who cares, as long as they live long enough to complete their mission?] Dr. Romano plans on using the progeria as his secret weapon to foil Aristar’s plans. But when Maya learns Lorcan is meant to be part of the mercenary team she warns him about the progeria. [How does she know about it?] Despite her good intentions, Maya jeopardizes Dr. Romano’s efforts and loses Fabian’s trust. To fix her blunder, Maya takes Fabian on an ill-planned rescue mission to Germany [I thought they were already in Germany.] during which she is separated from Fabian, thrown into a prison, and temporarily loses her ability because of lead poisoning. In this cat-and-mouse chase for stolen DNA, Maya is thrust into a world of deception, kidnapping, murder, and world domination, where the stakes are high and the consequences of failure deadly.


This starts out okay, but devolves into a list of stuff that happens. Pause to tell us why characters are doing what they're doing. The reader isn't going to believe you've written a well-organized book based on this.

How many people with super powers does it take to bring down Parliament? It's just a bunch of geezers sitting around arguing about trivia. Two or three super villains should be able to handle it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Face-Lift 1036

Guess the Plot


1. Her parents wanted her to be extraordinary, but five-year-old Anomaly Clark somehow manages to be exactly average at everything. Until the day she discovers matches...

2. Maya is an Anomaly. She can teleport, like people in the Star Trek transporter. Now a corporation of Anomalies seeking world domination is after Maya so they can clone her, steal her DNA and storm the government.

3. It was supposed to be a quick cash grab - spend a week in a medical trial taking a new ADD drug, collect $2000. But then Diego has a very unusual reaction - and now a high powered drug company exec will do anything to scrub out the trial's one anomaly...

4. When Bifff Hardcastle and his unemployed college chums land serious job offers from Fortune 500 companies, is it the end of the jobs crisis? Or a cruel and heartless... Anomaly?

5. Dyslexic Amelie is unable to spell her own name correctly. In a strange twist of fate, spelling it "Anomaly" leads her name to mirror what she really is - an anomaly in modern French society. In the end, Anomaly becomes the wife of the richest man in France, a collector of odd things.

6. Physics prodigy Max Boers is experimenting with transmitting particles through other dimensions when an earthquake shakes the Cal Tech campus. He finds himself in the body of Jack the Ripper with a dismembered whore. Can he catch the real Jack before the police capture and kill the fake Jack?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I hope you will consider my young adult fantasy novel, Anomaly.

16-year-old Maya is an Anomaly—superhuman. Her ability to teleport, called “shifting,” is a rare and extraordinary one. While adjusting to her new home in London and learning how to control her ability, Maya has to juggle two Anomaly boys: a hunky albeit nerdy Italian who can become transparent [and keeps turning up in Maya's shower], and a sexy British rocker who can nullify electricity but always seems to have a motive other than love. [Actually, I can't think of any ways nullifying electricity would be motivated by love . . . unless you're making love and rap music comes on the stereo.] Maya is also targeted [Why "also"? Are her Anomaly boys "targeting" her?] by Aristar Industries, a corporation of Anomalies hell-bent on stealing DNA, cloning abilities, and storming the British government. Aristar wants shifters in their ranks—which means they want Maya … or rather, her DNA. A cat-and-mouse chase for her genetic material thrusts Maya into a world of deception, kidnapping, murder, and world domination, [If you seek world domination, isn't there a better government to storm than the Brits'?] where the stakes are high and the consequences of failure deadly.

Being an optometrist and a former National Science Foundation Fellow have groomed my brain for the scientific ins and outs of this novel. I’m a member of SCBWI and when I'm not writing, I'm figure skating or blogging at ____________. [That part where you spin around really fast--is that happening or is it an optical illusion?] I hope the sample pages will interest you in the full 80,000-word manuscript, which I believe has series potential. It is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time.



I like the idea of shifters and using thier DNA better than the usual portal or magic spell. I can see this appealing to the YA crowd. And their parents.

Seems like it would be hard to keep a shifter in your ranks unless she wants to be there. I mean, a cat-and-mouse chase in which the mouse is a shifter would leave the cat sitting there thinking WTF? On the other hand I can see how an army of shifters would quickly lead to world domination. Thus...

I would make it clear what Aristar wants, which may be to steal Maya's DNA and use it to make all of their soldiers shifters. That's better than the vague "cloning abilities." Once we know the specific stakes and consequences of failure, instead of "the stakes are high and the consequences of failure deadly," we'll be desperate to read the book.

I don't see how being an optometrist or a figure skater helps you explain the science behind teleporting and becoming transparent.

Is the Italian kid really transparent, or is Maya wearing X-ray specs?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Beginning 955

Unable to look away from the thick, sharp needle ready to spew cyanide into my veins, I wonder if it really matters how I die—because it’s going to happen either way.

He wrenches my head to the side, drives his knee into my chest, and exposes my jugular.

I hold my breath, tears clouding my vision, waiting for the pain. But, in that intense moment of anticipation, I realize I’m wrong.

Totally wrong.

How I die doesn’t matter for me because dead is dead. But how I die will matter for this beautiful boy whose thumb is poised on the syringe’s plunger. After all he’s lost, all he’s been through, he won’t be able to handle the guilt.

But If I can escape with him and then I don’t make it, well, that’s my fault. Not his.

The cold point of the needle touches my skin.

"Okay, okay!" I cry. "You win. I'll go to the Zombie Ball with you. But only if I can wear a costume; not as real zombie."

Opening: Anita.....Continuation: Anon.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Face-Lift 1035

Guess the Plot

Little Computer People

1. In Miss Halibutt’s preschool, the whiz kids program a cast-off Mark II supercomputer to investigate the global warming crisis. Also, Russian spies.

2. 111 10 010 01110 01011 100110 1100 011 0010 11 00 1101 1000110. :-) ! Hilarity ensues.

3. At Sententia, the employees are tasked with solving the most vexing problems in science. Dan's always wondered just where some of the more outlandish solutions come from, until the night he falls asleep in his office and wakes up to see the . . . little computer people.

4. Wee Willie Wallace is tired of being tossed around the wrestling ring by Amazonian women, so he hires all his friends and starts a computer repair business called the Micro Mob.

5. Gabe develops the world's first sentient computer program, and loves her like a daughter--even after she evolves into a vindictive creature with an insatiable appetite for hacking. But when she empties his bank account and liquidates his stocks, is it finally time to cut the cord?

6. Lidia always believed that computers had little German people in them. When she gets a job in IT she learns there is more truth in that then even she thought. Now she's the queen of the little computer people and must save them from the fax monster.

7. When data stored on all the world’s computers mysteriously vanishes, ace Silicon Valley sleuth Zack Martinez knows two things: One, the nefarious hacker group known as the Little Computer People are back in action. And two, he'd better get his nephew an iPad with Angry Birds installed.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In the middle of his living room, Gabe Erikson builds a supercomputer that sucks down teraflops like Vegas sucks down sin. [For those who aren't up on their computer lingo, computer capacity is measured in teraflops. One teraflop is equal to one trillion multiplication operations per second, or sixteen long division operations per second.] With it, he gives birth to Pi, the world’s first sentient program. She’s everything a father would want in a daughter. She’s sweet. She’s smart [if irrational]. And as far as ones and zeros go, she’s the most beautiful thing since 256 color graphics.

But as wonderful as she is, she’s not invulnerable. Within a week’s time, Pi is infected by a worm, and she mutate[s] into an ornery, vindictive creature with an insatiable appetite for hacking computers far and wide. The constant insults, Gabe could live with, and he finds her hacking cute right up until she empties his bank account and liquidates his stocks. To make matters worse, her actions have also drawn the attention of the FBI. It’s not long before they raid his home, seize his equipment, and give Gabe a crash course in interrogation. [After saying what Gabe can live with, you need a "but." For instance: The constant insults, Gabe can live with, and he finds her hacking cute, even when she empties his bank account and liquidates his stocks. But when his home is raided by the FBI, Gabe knows he's in for a fight if he wants to keep his daughter out of foster care.][If Pi had the foresight to hack into the FBI computer system she would have known they were coming and could have kept them away by hacking into their GPS systems and sending them to Bulgaria.]

Now Gabe is not only trying to keep his life and liberty free from Federal prosecution, but he’s desperate to keep his one and only daughter out of unwanted hands, no matter how spiteful and destructive she can be. [If he thinks things are bad now, wait till Pi hits the terrible twos.] [A blah wrap-up to the plot. Probably better without it,]

On the surface, LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE is comedy that straddles the real and the binary worlds. However, it also delves into deeper philosophical conversations about the nature of consciousness, Reality as it relates to perception, and the relationship between connected beings whose existences are universes apart. [In other words, it's a comedy but it isn't funny.] [Which probably means it'll be a megaflop.]

LITTLE COMPUTER PEOPLE is complete at 100k words. [AKA one kiloflop.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Any sentence that includes the words philosophical, consciousness, existences, reality, perception, relationship, and universes should be deleted unless you're trying to sell a biography of Nietzsche.

Instead of the problem being caused by a worm, Pi should go out of control when she becomes a teenager. There's a wealth of comedic material with a computer that acts like a teenaged girl. Plus you can call the book YA, which sells a lot better than science fiction. 

By my count there were only three episodes of Star Trek that didn't involve computers thinking they were better than us, so this will have to be really special.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Film Noir Friday

New Beginning 954

There’s a moment that happens just before you crash that no one in driver’s ed tells you about. They don’t show it in movies. You won’t find it in any textbook or pamphlet or manual at the DMV. I guess it’s because very few people live to tell about it. What happens in that split, split, split second before the crash that ends your life is this:

You float.

You defy all laws of motherfucking gravity and you hover. It’s like your body wants to try on its ghost suit before it decides if it’s going to buy it.

So unless ghost suits come covered in gravel and pre-soaked in blood I’m betting mine didn’t fit. At least I hope what I’m soaking in is blood, because I’ve been feeling something warm and wet running down my thigh since I hit the pavement (if I live to retell this story, I’m sticking with the bloody version of it). I’d know for sure if I could see over top of the gas tank crushing my chest. I’d ask River to look but he’s no good to me unconscious.

Wait a minute! Wait a motherfucking minute! After I finished scouring the textbooks and the cocksucking manuals at the DMV, I found a catalog in the glove compartment! From LL Bean! Turns out there ARE gravel-covered ghost suits pre-soaked in blood! It fucking worked! If that friggin' gas tank wasn't on my chest I'd still be floating!

Hot damn, River! I been dragging your ass around in the back seat since Halloween 1993 but now I’m coming to join ya!

Opening: H.E. Ellis.....Continuation: Dave Conifer

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Face-Lift 1034

Guess the Plot


1. Her father wrote Carrie and The Stand. She wants to form an eighties-style hair band. "Damn Yankees" is taken. What to do?
2. Alyanna has three sisters--correction, three dumb-as-bricks, boring, drunken half-sisters. They are called princesses only because they fell out of the brain-dead Queen's womb, while she is the child of the gorgeous, brilliant royal mistress. When she hears that Prince Fabrian is coming to visit, Alyanna decides that maybe it's time those bimbos learned a few lessons.

3. Bruce orders a sign for his Scottish pub, The Royal Princess. The sign maker employs non-English speakers. Their boss mistranslates the name and the sign maker mistranslates it back. It goes up while Bruce is on holiday and the Board of Commerce won’t permit a replacement for ten years. He’s the laughingstock of the county. But they won’t be laughing after he drowns the hecklers in cheap scotch.

4. Princess Natale can't understand why her father is at war with the dark king. Hating the bloodshed, Natale demands answers from her father, but he uses her as a sacrificial pawn in hopes of ending the conflict. But before she's lost forever, a black knight falls in love with her and sweeps her to safety. The bishops on both sides declare the two heretics, and the queen, the one person who's always protected Natale, is unable to help. Now it is up to Natale to save herself, and her land.

5. In aneffort to gether wordcount downto somethingsaleable, anauthor hitsupon thestrategyof combining wordssothe computer willdeclare hercount tobe 147,000 insteadof 240,000, butitstillgetsrejectedforbeingtoolong.

6. Princess Alena is heir to the throne, but when her father dies, her evil stepmother hires assassins to get rid of her. But Alena has a few cards up her sleeve, including magical armor and an army of centaurs.

7. After the king is mistakenly informed that his new progeny is male, the queen and her courtiers rear Prince Layne the way all royal princes have been educated, including his choice of horse, sport, and princess. While fox hunts and archery are enjoyable, that last item gets a little dicey. When the princess of the neighboring kingdom comes for a visit, Prince Layne falls hard – for her brother.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

The king is dead. Now his daughter will do whatever it takes to keep a kingdom that has never had a ruling queen from falling apart. And she's not sure who's more of a threat: the men who want to kill her, or the men who want to marry her. [It's the men who want to kill her. (Eliminate them first. Then when you get married there's just one guy you have to eliminate).]

Alena Theradran [Anagram: Dan Rather.] has been training to take her father's place for the last decade. But Alena's stepmother has a plan to get her own claws on the throne. [Does the plan include the use of claws?] Fleeing from assassins, Alena takes refuge with the powerful Duke Rurik Northgarde. With Rurik's aid she may yet claim her throne, if she can persuade the wild horselords to honor the pact they made with her ancestors. [How was that pact worded? We the wild horselords will aid you against your enemies if, when the time comes, you can persuade us to do so?]

Rurik Northgarde uses duty like armor to protect his past. [I'm too busy to try to figure out what that means.] Aiding Alena forces him to reveal, one after another, his battle magics and his hidden disgrace. [Or that.] Still, he clings to his last secret, even if it means the woman he loves and fought for will marry someone else. [Are we talking about Alena?]

Becoming queen is only the first of Alena's problems. Her lords demand she marry. Alena challenges all her suitors to prove their worth by combat. [Why?] When the tournament takes a threatening turn, Alena decides to enter. Her armor hides more than just her face, and Alena discovers [when she falls and can't get up, that] her most dangerous enemy may be herself.

I am seeking representation for my epic fantasy novel, Kingsdaughter, complete at 147,000 words. This is a stand alone work, but I am currently writing a related novel. Thank you for your consideration.


I missed the part where Ruruk falls in love and fights for Alena. Do you mean he fought off the assassins? Or did they have a history? What about the wild horselords? Did they come through, or did they say, Pact? What pact?

Get rid of the wild horselords. I can't even tell if they're people or horses or centaurs. Though I assume centaurs. Get rid of the third paragraph and replace it with something that bridges the gap to the fourth paragraph, like, Ruruk kills the assassins and leads his army to Alena's castle, where they kill all the men who want to kill Alena and all the men who want to marry her, and her evil stepmother. Finally she's queen, although there's no one left to rule over.

Who does Alena marry if she wins the tournament? If she wins, does the guy who comes in second say, Hey, WTF? Does Rurik participate in the tournament?

What are these magics? I don't see a princess winning this tournament without magic, but isn't that cheating?

Success Story

If the query for Absorption hooked you, you may be interested to know that the book is available from Amazon to those with a Kindle or a Kindle app. Author David Weisman thanks us for helping him polish the all important opening pages.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

New Beginning 953

Sean gulped. The row of darkly clad men that was the Heroes Licensing Board looked very bored. Not a good sign.

“Sean Nelson, you have applied to receive a hero license,” a tall, rectangular man declared. “Upon review of your application, you have been denied. Any questions may be referred to me, Blakely Anderson. Thank you.”

There was a short pause while the Board dispersed, and Blakely Anderson waited for Sean to make his way over.

“Questions?” he said wearily. “Why weren’t you good enough? What can you do to fix it?”

“Well, yes,” said Sean.

“You weren’t good enough because you’re only a mediocre swordsman and you’re not charming with the Ladies, and to fix it, you can go find someone to train you as a sidekick. The problem with you kids,” he said paternally, “is that you assume you know everything and that you can learn to be a hero after you get your license. Such is not the case. You must learn to be a hero before you receive your license. Go get someone to teach you before you bother us again.”

"Screw the Heroes Licensing Board," Sean replied. "The Nefarious Villains Club is more fun, anyway." He pulled his sabre from its sheath, watched the metal glitter under the harsh fluorescent lights, then plunged it into Blakely Anderson's gut.

"Mediocre swordsman my ass," he grumbled as he headed for the door.

Opening: Christie Roy.....Continuation: T.K. Marnell

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Face-Lift 1033

Guess the Plot


1. Bored with the other vampires in the nest, Lisle goes hunting for fresh companions. Soon she's swarmed by hipsters and wanna-be's. Will she have to bite them all to find the one she wants to keep--forever?

2. While gazing at her latest painting, artist Alysse is literally drawn into the fantastical world she created in her head. For the first time ever she's happy. But will she be happy when she finds out she may be trapped inside her head . . . forever?

3. Jack Miller is living a normal life in the suburbs of America until his wife receives a call that will change everything. Her mother has been bitten by a vampire and cast out of her neighborhood. Now the mother-in-law-turned-undying-demon must live in Jack's guest bedroom...forever.

4. Katie Holloway always signed her love letters to her hockey goalie fiance Malcolm Daley “Forever yours”. The words take on a new meaning when Malcolm dies in a freak Zamboni accident and is buried in the newly opened Eternal Springs cemetery where the residents don’t rest peacefully. Can Malcolm prove his undying love, or will Katie convince him once and for all that “forever” doesn’t mean spending the rest of her days as a zombie bride?

5. High school seniors Katherine and Michael hook up, make the beast with two backs, and believe they are destined to be together "forever". Then Katherine gets a job at a summer camp, meets a hot tennis instructor, dumps Michael, and finds herself destined to live on the ALA list of Most Challenged Books... forever.

6. The diary of a leprechaun. Complete details of his interest in milkmaids, his campaign to rid the isle of wee pesky elves, his fear of vampires. Plus, a pot of gold, two dozen silly sheep, and an unreliable talking fish.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Alysse is expected to do well at everything she does, all because she is an only child. Her parents are very strict, claiming that they gave up everything for her to be successful. Nevertheless, as much as Alysse tries she cannot understand Maths, speak Greek or run a marathon. [We give up everything for you, and you can't even speak Greek?!] The only thing she can do is paint. Her favorite thing in the world is drawing out whatever is in her mind, usually resulting in what looks like scenes from a different world, which are so fantastical, you cannot help but stare. When her mother discovers that she was not accepted to any college but the Academy of Art, Alysse realizes what people mean when they say words can kill. [The Academy of Art? You pathetic no-talent fool, I wanted you to go somewhere where you'd learn to do something useful. Like speak Greek. How are you gonna survive if you move to Greece and don't know how to say, "Where's my government handout?] She finds herself staring at her latest drawing, the most absurd of them all. After a few minutes a strange force begins pulling her towards the painting. [I once wrote a short story in which a strange force was pulling me toward Carthage. Or was it Corinth? The cool thing about strange forces is that anytime you need a character to go somewhere but you can't think of a logical way to get them there, you can just have a strange force draw them there, and no one can complain that you have a plot hole because strange forces override everything.] Her body crosses the portal between the real and the invented when she finds herself in the little world originated in her mind. She thinks she is happy for the first time, but it is not long until she realizes that she can never leave that place again. [At long last I've found true happiness. Get me the hell outta here!] She is stuck inside her head, [If this were a Twilight Zone episode, which is what it sounds like, it would end here with Alysse either horrified as she realizes she's stuck inside her head forever or happy as she sits in a padded room humming a tune and playing with finger paints and her doctors look through the window and shake their heads.] and she has less than a day before the exit is closed FOREVER. [You said she could never leave. Two sentences later you say she can.]

I look forward to hearing from you.


Presumably you are merely seeking feedback on whether your plot is hooking us, and are aware that a query letter needs word count, genre, and a more obvious indication of what the book's title is.

Paragraphing would be nice. It shows that you have some basic organizational skills. Plus some editors would rather reject you without reading your query than slog their way into a paragraph that they might be trapped in . . . forever.

This is all setup. We know who Alysse is and we know what her situation is. We want to know how she handles her dilemma. Are there people in her new world? Does anything bad happen there? What are the consequences of staying versus getting out? If staying is bad, is there a villain trying to keep her there? The main character is in her happy place; why should we care if she never gets out?

What is her body doing when she's stuck inside her head? Is it in a coma? Does she have any control over it?

Monday, June 04, 2012

New Beginning 952

The gate opened with a squeak and slammed shut behind her. Two small faces suddenly appeared in the pane beside the door, paws scrabbling along the glass.

As soon as she pushed the door open, the two terriers barked uninhibitedly and launched themselves on her thighs. The cats sauntered along the hallway towards her, pausing to stretch their legs and yawn.

With a fluster of wings, the dragonling leapt and sailed up to land on her shoulder. He rubbed his scaly face against her cheek. “Just a minute, guys,” Andrea said squirming and unbuttoning her coat. “Down, boys, down Reno.”

She shrugged her shoulder, but Reno’s claw snagged her hair. She gasped, and the small dragon suspended upside down, hung by a single claw. He struggled and flapped his wings uselessly.

Andrea dropped her bags to the floor. She winced and clutched her hair. “Ow! You’re getting too big for this, Reno! Stay still – this hurts!”

The dogs yapped louder and the cats curled around her ankles. Gritting her teeth, Andrea steadied the dragonling with one hand and tugged her strands of hair loose with the other. Finally freed, Reno swooped along the hallway, spreading his wings to their full length.

Andrea tossed her coat to one side, and knelt to pat her dogs. The two cats pushed their way between them, chirruping and purring. “You guys must be hungry, come on.”

She straightened and took a few steps along the hall, surrounded by her furry entourage. Reno turned back towards them, and swooped Boris, the tabby cat. Boris growled and pounced up, claws bared, but the dragon flicked his tail out of reach.

Reno looked back over his shoulder and coughed a few sparks towards him.

“Hey!” Andrea yelped. “Your fire glands are starting to work!”

As if to confirm her suspicions, she noticed a few scorch marks along the plastered wall.

When she reached the kitchen she stopped short in disbelief. Reno's fire glands were working all right. The kitchen was little more than smoldering cinders of charcoal.

Andrea turned and glared at the dragonling. "Bad dragon! Bad, bad dragon!"

Reno huffed out another breath, engulfing Andrea in flame. That was pretty much the last time any of those annoying creatures bugged him. 

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Rachel6

Friday, June 01, 2012

Amusing Excerpt 10

Actual (or not) amusing (or not) excerpts from (or not from) minions' WIPs. If you have constructive criticism or unadulterated praise, feel free to comment.

 Set up: Evil Editor is writing his memoirs from his trip to Bangkok decades ago when he was researching the uncle who left him a diary after passing away.

Yetisha, the large she-male, is serving my coffee, her/his breasts are large and bouncy melonish spheres, the hormones are doing good things and making her/him happy. She/he makes the regulars feel, jiggle and massage them and asks our opinion. I tell her/him over and over her/his breasts are great, but she/he must get that nasty little finger taken off her/his ear. I flick it for fun, it is a little protruding digit that is, well, like a miniature jointed baby finger. It is unusual in the west but not that uncommon here. She/he assures me it is coming off when she/he gets castrated. My knees slam together at the word “castration”.

Yetisha wants a date with me post op, sometime next year. I say yes, I will take her/him on a date soon after the surgery. Then neither of us will have any expectations, what with stitches and all. I tell her/him I am not into women who were men pre op, but a dinner post op would be ok. That makes her/him happy. She/he goes back to playing with her/his nipples as I sip my coffee watching the woman/man with breasts enjoy her/his expanded playing field. I have a date with a breasted man. What next?

--Wilkins MacQueen

Amusing Excerpt 9

Actual (or not) amusing (or not) excerpts from (or not from) minions' WIPs. If you have constructive criticism or unadulterated praise, feel free to comment.

 Set up: Evil Editor has agreed to look at a manuscript for a few bucks while he’s in Bangkok doing some research on his late uncle. He meets his client at a sidewalk eatery.

“Great stuff eh? You got to where he just et (Evil notes hillbilly simple past), then busts in on her with his room mate? Drunk, naked, she’s on the table, legs apart, he’s-”

“Not yet.” Evil Heads him off at the repulsive. Close call.

“I just knew I was a writer. My finest work. Like giving birth. Took me three weeks.” His self-satisfaction beams out at the morning.

Evil studies his client’s face for humor.

The guy hawked up a mudslide of words, sex encounters, tree limbs, rocks, more sex, muck and dog doody, more sex then duct taped them together in a cacophony born of late night brawls with English clearly out of his mind with drink and other stuff. Self-satisfaction is not becoming after the puke fest. The author skipped any effort to make sense, his mudslide on the page is annoying and he managed all that in three weeks while digesting sausage. Evil blinks.

“Yup, now I now why I came to planet. I came to write.” He rips his food apart with determination and a spoon. Evil coughs on his coffee, a drop spilled down the wrong lane. He wades in.

“You need to sketch out your characters more. Add a little depth. People generally do more than indulge in sex all day.”

“They do? Who?”

“And don’t change the character’s name mid story.”

“Oh you caught that did you? I was wondering if you’d get that.”

Evil orders another stick of sausage for the client contemplating murder by skewer.

--Wilkins MacQueen

Amusing Excerpt 8

Actual (or not) amusing (or not) excerpts from (or not from) minions' WIPs. If you have constructive criticism or unadulterated praise, feel free to comment.

 Setup: Conrad and Esmerelda have just discovered their cat, Stash, cat-napped.

I admit it, I cried.

Conrad cried too, though in a more refined, masculine sort of way. I bawled like a baby, sitting on the tailgate of the Jeep.

"I should never have left him," I sobbed.

"We," Conrad corrected. "We should never have left him."

"You had things on your mind. You were concocting a plan. I ... I was his mother."

A fresh wash of tears poured down my face.

Conrad comforted me in one of the only two ways he knows how. He petted my hair affectionately, absently, as if I were a large dog he was rather fond of. In the beginning of our relationship I found this habit insufferably annoying. Now I found it endearing.

(The second method he has of comforting me would not have been appropriate at this time.)


Amusing Excerpt 7

Actual (or not) amusing (or not) excerpts from (or not from) minions' WIPs. If you have constructive criticism or unadulterated praise, feel free to comment.

 Setup: New York; our young heroine's first visit to the fabled city.

Marcy stood outside the door, taking deep breaths and trying to knock. Somehow, her arm didn’t want to obey. Man up, she thought. It’s not like he’ll eat you. She banged on the door and then fled before anyone could answer.

On the sidewalk, she watched the roaring traffic forlornly. Everything seemed so fast, so bright. Impersonal crowds rushed by. One man glanced at her, where she huddled against the building, and looked faintly startled when she smiled shyly at him. Oh yeah. They don’t do that up north.

Marcy wandered to the bookstore window next door and looked in. A copy of Beatrix Potter’s stories sat atop one stack, with a rabbit and a mouse pictured on the cover. A mouse. A country mouse. That’s what I am. Running back to the small town for fear of cats. Marcy set her teeth. I’m not running.

She marched back to the other building, up the stairs, and rapped on the door before her willpower could ooze away. Nothing happened. After a minute, she knocked again. It creaked open slowly. And there he was. Just as she had imagined he would look. The Evil Editor, blinking at her quizzically.

“Hi, I’m Marcy King, I’m a huge fan of your blog, and you always seem so patient, I just wanted a little advice from you in person and I happened to be in New York, this was a bad idea wasn’t it, oh gee I’m stupid, I think I’m going to be sick.”

And then she saw it. The gentle side of the Evil Editor. “I didn’t finish my danish yesterday. Would that help?”

--Rachel Roy

Amusing Excerpt 6

Actual (or not) amusing (or not) excerpts from (or not from) minions' WIPs. If you have constructive criticism or unadulterated praise, feel free to comment.

Setup: Sixteen-year-old Gwinn, the key to restoring a princess, is in the middle of a month-long journey to the kingdom of Faharren. In this scene, she taunts two of her guardians about their archery skills.

“I want to see this,” Quord finally said. Gwinn turned to find him standing over her, holding out his bow and an arrow. “Hit the target,” he ordered, pointing to a tree about thirty feet away with a small red cloth nailed to the trunk. Paryu paced back and forth in front of them, muttering to himself and glaring at Gwinn.

“Paryu, get out of the way,” Quord said. Paryu continued his muttering while Gwinn rose to her feet and nervously took the bow and arrow. She’d never shot one before, but as soon as she held the instruments they felt comfortable in her hands…the same way holding the knife had felt comfortable back at her cottage.

Gwinn raised the bow and arrow and waited for the still-pacing Paryu to move out of her line of fire. As soon as he was out of the way, she drew the bowstring back and fired in one fluid motion. The arrow hit the tree in the exact center of the cloth. Quord shrieked with laughter, Paryu shrieked in surprise, and Gwinn just dropped the bow, unable to keep the hint of a smile from her lips. She sat back down on the ground, plucking at the surrounding wildflowers as if nothing had happened.

“You almost shot me in the face!” Paryu cried. “You could have killed me!”

“I *almost* shot you in the face,” Gwinn emphasized. “If I’d meant to *actually* shoot you in the face, it would have happened.”

--Alice Witten

Amusing Excerpt 5

Actual (or not) amusing (or not) excerpts from (or not from) minions' WIPs. If you have constructive criticism or unadulterated praise, feel free to comment.

“I am a very lucky man in many ways, my dear Miss Ehlana. I have the ability to use magic and, as a nobleman, was given the opportunity to demonstrate this to our lovely Queen Jyssine.” Galton answered.

“What ye be doing to be ticking off a cult and be getting yeself branded a marked man? And, don’t tell me it be because ye stole from the wrong people. That be putting a sorry light on my great deed.”

“I am afraid I do not know what I did to earn the disfavor of any worshipper of any religion. I try to avoid religion and those that practice it,” Galton answered sincerely.

“Aye, never a good idea to be getting on the wrong side of the holy folk.”

“Exactly. I knew you would understand,” he said with a clap of his hands. “Now that we are done speaking of my past, let us speak of your future. For your great deed, you could be well -favored by the royal court, if you so desired. Perhaps even granted a place within the court for your bravery.”

“Me in the royal court? Are ye daft?”

“Yes, I do believe sometimes I am,” Galton replied. “But not today, I am serious.”

“The court don’t be needing the likes of me.”

“There are many people in the court that it does not need. In fact, probably most in the court are not needed. I no doubt could be counted as one of them. You would fit right in,” he said.