Friday, December 28, 2012

Double Feature

Not much point in posting something new when so few are visiting the blog. So here are a couple films from the vault.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Beginning 984

I paced up and down our small living room with its peeling walls and shabby furniture. My living room now. If I could make the rent.

I picked up a photograph of my mother from the mantelpiece. The small, pinched face had never looked this beautiful to me when she was alive. She had never been much of a companion to me, but right now I missed her acutely. At seventeen, I felt half a mother was better than none. If you’d asked me at thirteen, I might have felt differently.

The phone rang. I hesitated. It was probably yet another person calling to offer condolences. Let it ring.

But it wouldn’t stop, so I grabbed the receiver just to make it shut up. “Hello?”

“Iona?” An unfamiliar voice, but one that spoke with an accent I recognized.

“Who is this?” Even as I asked, I knew. There could be only one man with that particular European accent who would contact me.

“This is your father.”

My legs suddenly felt like Jello, so I sank into an armchair.

What was I supposed to say? Hi, Dad. Nice to hear from you. A shame you missed the first seventeen years of my life?

I decided to just wait. Let him explain himself.

"Iona? You there?"

"Mm-hmm," I replied.

"Oh, okay. Well look, just tell your mother I'm on my way home, and I couldn't get any; she'll have to use potatoes. I've looked literally everywhere and..."

On the bright side, I thought, he apparently knows the correct usage of the word "literally."

Opening: Crossword.....Continuation: Anon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Guess the Plot

It's been three years since we did a Christmas Guess the Plot Quiz, but in all that time none of the Christmas GTPs were the actual plot of anyone's book. Thus I've taken the fake ones and mixed them with the real plots and some fake ones from past Christmas GTP Quizzes. So . . . Three of the following twenty plots were the actual plots of minions' novels. Which three?

1. A guy who pees on her boots. A porn-obsessed crybaby. A cheese thief. Sofia always seems to end up with losers. Her latest boyfriend has just given her her Christmas present: a crummy loaf of bread! Is this the final straw? Or is this what she gets for moving to LA?

2. Something sinister is afoot when the insurance office does its Secret Santa drawing and everyone draws Lucretia's name. Lucretia gets 35 gifts -- and a bullet in the head. Only mailroom boy Clark Cooper has what it takes to solve the mystery and deal with the Returns office at Macy's.

3. Sunol, California, 1998. Jeff Dunley and Mark Morris are engaged in an all-out, take-no-prisoners, no-holds-barred war between their rival Christmas Tree farms.

4. When Santa's henchmen get tipsy on grog left beside the tree on Christmas Eve and end up busted for burglary, they soon realize the only way to survive incarceration is to form their own gang. They can't be "elves" any more. So they pierce their substantial pointy ears and swagger around, calling themselves the Holiday Lords.

5. Tina is beginning to hate Christmas. Every year it's the same two weeks of stress-inducing hell. Her family, in-laws, her family, in-laws. That is, until she finds out that she's married into the richest, most powerful group of witches and warlocks in the country. Can Tina convince them to halt their assault on the holidays and just relax already?

6. Christmastime, gentle snow falls, merry Santas, bludgeoned girls whose hair falls over their crushed skulls like strands of silver . . . it's just another day for Rudolph.

7. Secret Santa is all fun and games, until Hayley opens her package and finds a human hand. Should she report it to the cops or investigate herself? How hard can it be to spot someone who's missing a hand?

8. Evelyn told her mother-in-law that she wears a size 12, when a 16 is closer to the truth. With the family reunion drawing near, will Evelyn resign herself to wearing the ill-fitting gifts her mother-in-law sent her for Christmas, or will she find a way to escape. . . The Lies that Bind?

9. Charlotte has a thing for holidays. She poisoned the marshmallow chicks in her first husband's Easter basket, strangled her second husband with the ribbon from the Valentine's Day chocolate box, and suffocated her third with the helium balloons at his own birthday party. Now, as Christmas approaches, hubby #4 wonders why that package under the tree is ticking.

10. Every year, Carrie's creepy boss has groped and French-kissed her at the office holiday party. With the antidote in her hip pocket, she waits near the mistletoe and keeps her tongue away from her poisoned lipstick. By this time next year, she'll be the VP doing the groping.

11. Christmas at the estate of Lord Ajax was supposed to be the climax of this year's social season-- and the moment Lord Ajax proposes to her. But Clarissa discovers she is not to be the recipient of a marriage proposal, when she discovers her Ajax under the mistletoe, locked in the embrace of . . . her brother.

12. It's Christmas, and Christine has no one to spend it with--until she gets drawn into an international drug conspiracy by hunky doctor David McLeod. Now that she's found true love, can she stay alive long enough to enjoy it? Also, Johnny Cash.

13. Kelly Coosman volunteered to work the kissing booth for the parish Christmas Gala…it was the least she could do after Father McElroy rescued her from the streets of Chicago. But she’s been on her feet for fourteen hours straight, smooching hundreds of nicotine-fouled old men with rotten yellow teeth, and she's thinking prostitution wasn't so bad after all.

14. Confident his parents won't be getting him a Christmas present, Nate runs away from home and moves into Wal-Mart. When a night security guard finds him and realizes he's the missing boy she read about in the newspaper, she sets up a tent, gets Nate a sleeping bag, and helps him set up a household. Hey, the place gets lonely at night.

15. What started as an innocent kiss at the Devorson’s posh Christmas party turns into an obsession that leaves a trail of bodies from New York to Nevada. Beautiful detective Mary Sky must find the X-mas Killer, following the clues he leaves her, before Christmas rolls around again and his knife finds her under the Mistletoe.

16. When the scarves Aya is knitting for Christmas presents start to fray, so does her mind - convincing her doctor that knitting and mental illness are linked. Can he prove it in time to save his wife, a knittaholic?

17. Fourteen year old Cassie hates her life: she lives in Alabama; the guys at school ignore her; and her mom's a beauty queen. Sent to retrieve the Christmas lights from the attic, she stumbles on a strange box that glows. Opening it reveals a tiny man who tells her she's the princess of Faerie. Adventure ensues.

18. Fiona is lonely and miserable at the dorms her freshman year. With no friends or family, she's stuck there over Christmas vacation. Making things worse, the dorms are supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a student who hung himself in the lobby. Fiona doesn't believe it...until the strange love letters start appearing on her pillows.

19. Bob's trip to the toy store to get little Timmy something for Christmas turns into an epic battle of good vs evil when the evil elf running the cash register slips him the magic kaleidoscope he stole from Wizard Ferkle, who is desperate to retrieve it before the Dark Threesome can get their grubby hands on it.

20. As a nonogenarian wraps Christmas gifts for each of her relatives, she reflects on things they and others have done to annoy her over the course of her long life.

Answers below

The actual plots are:

1, 12, and 14.

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 New Beginning Award Winners

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.”

* * *

Enough!" 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 Misogynist!"

"Who's he?"

"The shoe salesman from hell!"


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

Some months after my cousin took a bad fall down the grand staircase of his home, I called on him for an extended stay. I arrived but a short hour before the doctor was to arrive for one last examination, and he, having burned off any inherent bashfulness at boarding school and again in the army, invited me to stay and chat throughout the examination.

The doctor struck a match and passed it before my cousin's eyes to watch his pupils follow it; snapped his fingers at either ear to see if he started. My cousin's joints were flicked and found adequate. The doctor seemed pleased with his recovery."

"Has your appetite been well?" he asked, writing mysterious marks into a notebook.

"Strong as ever," said my cousin. "Stay for tea and I shall prove it."

"And your libido?"

"Positively libid."

"And how have you slept?"

I saw my cousin hesitate for a slip of a moment before saying, "Never deeper. Never deeper."

"Appetite and libido good?" The doctor's face wrinkled his concern. "And yet you're sleeping deep? Hmmm."

The omnipresent author slipped my cousin a note. His face lit up, and he spoke with a renewed vigour.

"Maybe I've discovered some fantasy dream world the rest of this story will be about, in which I'm some testosterone-fueled centaur laird taking a stand against the nouveau teen vampire chic with hooves a-blazing."

"Might work," said the doctor, tossing aside his stethoscope, "but you reckoned without the Snake Lords of the Preposterous!"

As serpents slid from beneath his Red Cross poncho, I sensed it was time to play my own hand. It roared from my wrist, half Addams Family appendage, half Fireball XL5 rocket propulsion blast, and stabbed a series of alien-looking sigils into my cousin's bare chest.


"Ha!" cried the doctor. "Your edict has fallen foul of the terminal navel. If you're gonna inscribe a call to arms on a torso, do it on a giant where there's more room to flow freely."

The omnipresent author slipped my cousin another note.

"Forget the horses and the snakes. Looks like we're going with romance."

No need for further words. The three of us embraced each other on the hospital bed. Then we kissed like harlots, ready to spawn some fantasy love child...

Opening: 150.....Continuation: Whirlochre

When the world came to, it came, not to its senses, but to its madness. Those who were left alive learned what their needs were—these of course, were the same as they ever had been, as the nature of the ones left behind was no different from the nature of the ones who had gone on—and from one’s nature come one’s needs. They learned what their true needs were, which was almost as important as learning how to get them met.

Air, of course, then water, then food. Those who were left alive were at the mercy of place, and some lingered long enough to learn how to get their needs met in the place where they were; others did not, and died. Still others began to travel the broken roads, to band together, to beat back or be beaten back, to become victims or victors. Eventually, life resumed its potent, inviolable rhythm. And eventually, the things that had been left behind began to become normal.

The crone’s name was Senga. That’s what everyone called her, anyway. She was not quite the eldest of their group, but if she wasn’t, no one knew anyone older.

Senga knew what life had been like in the old days, the days before the days of now and the days before the days of before the days of now and even the days before the days of before the days of before the days of now. She could teach us how to function again. We could emerge, blinking, into the light. Society could regain its structure.

Our future depended on Senga's memories, and on only one other thing: that she could finish imparting these memories to us before we could no longer resist eating her.

Opening: Helen O'Reilly.....Continuation: Anon.

2012 Face-Lift Award Winners

3rd Place

Face-Lift 1029

Don't Date a Bro

2nd Place

Face-Lift 1008

The Final Clue

1st Place

Face-Lift 984

The Star Bear Odyssey

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 2012 Face-Lift Awards

364 days a year Evil Editor judges your work. Today is your annual oppor- tunity to critique EE. Below are the nominees for Best Face-Lift. The query letters themselves are not part of the criteria, nor are the minions' comments. Basically, you're ranking EE's contribution, and the main criteria, as always here, is humor.

Click on each link to read the nominees. Then on the BALLOT, open the score box and give 5 points to your favorite, 4 for 2nd place, etc.

Face-Lift 984

Face-Lift 999

Face-Lift 1008

Face-Lift 1029

Face-Lift 1032

Voting is complete.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Synopsis 34

Guess the Plot

Fire and Ice

1. It's like rock paper scissors, but there are only two items. Fire melts ice, ice puts out fire. Rarely settles anything.

2. Volcanologist Ginny Rains knows that under the glaciers of Ranier lies a magma chamber waiting to explode. No, wait, she's thinking of her hunky massage therapist, Rainier Lourdes.

3. Warm-hearted Noa is a Samoan fire juggler. On an international cruise he meets Sedna, a gorgeous Inuit vixen. When a violent storm flings them overboard they find themselves stranded on a desert island. Can Noa keep them both alive and melt Sedna's icy heart, or is love between them more unlikely than their chances of being rescued?

4. Aoal Aoalbjorn, an eager young attorney in Reykjavic, is given a career-making case -- sue Disney Corporation for infringing Iceland's "Land of Fire and Ice" trademark. But soon seven shadowy figures are trailing him, muttering Hi-ho, Hi-ho-micide. Can Aoal's knowledge of trademark law and Krav Maga keep him safe?

5. When demons from hell attack an ice-bound town, Jenna and her friends flee. The demons follow. Desperate, Jenna's friends theorize that the demons are actually after Jenna, and not them.

6. Kieran Keene quits Fire Robinson’s Rock-N-Blues Band and takes his sax to Ice Coffee’s Bluegrass Revival. Once again mutilated groupies are found – this time near Ice Coffee’s venues. Now Kieran suspects Ice and enlists Fire’s help to expose the killer. But hot detective Mary McRae is on the case, intent on proving Kieran’s guilt.

7. John Bound, Agent 005, is relegated to office duties while agent 007 gets the prestige assignments. Bound -- John Bound – has a plan to frame that prissy Bond. He conspires with the head of French Intelligence. But Bound is betrayed by a Bulgarian being blackmailed by Bond. Can he clear himself or is it life in solitary for John?

Original Version

Jenna and her friends are living hard but peaceful lives in the far-flung, snowy town of Cirrus. The circle consists of six close friends, who like everyone else who lives in the isolated town, have chosen to abandon their pasts and start over as far away as possible. They’re all running from different things: Jenna from the scorn she faces for marrying an elf, [Time out. Give me a minute to recalibrate my thinking from litfic to fantasy.] Quael; Danath from a string of selfish decisions he made after losing his family to war; Shea from the ghosts of her parents; Thane from his haunting past among his people, the dwarves; and Geth and Bretton from their constant persecution for their sexual orientation. [Are they both men or both women or is one an elf and the other a dwarf?] Still, they all seemed to have found happiness in starting over. [Is the elf part of the circle? If you run away to the far-flung town of Cirrus to escape the scorn you face for marrying an elf, the least you can do is bring the elf along with you. If the elf is part of the circle, why isn't he one of seven close friends?]

But their peaceful lives are shattered when a group of demons descends [If you just say "when demons descend", you won't have to worry about whether "group of demons" is singular or plural.] upon Cirrus. As members of the town guard, Jenna and her friends throw themselves into battle and are successful in fighting off the attacking horde. [I'm sure there's a good explanation for how these characters are able to repel a horde of demons. I suppose it's a horde of incompetent demons who've consistently been driven away by humans until they finally got together and said, We suck at this, why don't we attack some far-flung snowy town where everybody's a loser, just to build our confidence, and then we can come back to civilization and whip some ass, except now it turns out they can't even demonize six clinically depressed people who've totally given up on life.] Although the demons are pushed back, the city is not without casualties, the most painful of which are Jenna’s husband and children. As she and her friends struggle to swallow the pain, they set out on a journey southward to find supplies for the devastated town. But the first town they come to, [Cumulus,] Nocht, denies them any aid, saying they simply have nothing to spare. The group decides [Avoid the decide/decides decision by saying "The Cirrusians decide..."] to send home what few supplies they can scavenge or buy, and continue onward to the much larger town of Selliswyth in search of real help for Cirrus.

On the road between Nocht and Selliswyth, a surly elf named Ethos joins the group. Having been heading to Cirrus in search of Quael, he’s upset to find out that his quarry is dead, but tentatively decides to stay with Jenna and her friends as they continue south. When Jenna can no longer hide the fact that she’s pregnant with Quael’s last child, Ethos becomes rather protective of her. Upon reaching Selliswyth, the group again finds [find] no aid for Cirrus. As they contemplate their next move, [Note that you've referred to the group as "they" rather than "it", possibly suggesting that a plural verb is best.] the band of demons attacks [Hmm. I'll let you have "attacks," although I doubt minions from across the pond will be so generous.] again, forcing the seven friends to flee the city. Believing it unsafe to return to Cirrus, the group continue[(s?)] southward down an isolated pass through the harsh mountains. As they journey, they slowly come to realize the demons are in fact hunting them down – specifically, Jenna and Quael’s unborn child. [I get the impression Ethos could have told them this from the get-go, rather than let them slowly realize it.] [When you're being tracked by demons, what clues lead you to the conclusion that they are after one member's unborn child?

Shea: We'll never outrun these demons.
Danath: If only we knew why they want to kill us all.
Geth: Maybe they don't want to kill us all. Maybe they just want to kill one of us. By which I mean one of you.
Bretton: Maybe they're after Jenna's unborn child.
Thane: Then it's settled. We leave Jenna behind and see if they quit hounding us; if they don't, we'll assume they're really after . . . Geth and Bretton.
Geth: You bastard! How do we know they aren't after you?
Thane: Hey, I'm not the one with the perverted sexual orientation.]


A synopsis should carry the story beyond this point. If you're trying to keep it short, we can do without knowing what each character has gone to Cirrus to escape. You could refer to "Jenna and the other members of the town guard," rather than naming each of them. Jenna, Quael and Ethos are the only characters whose names appear more than once; maybe they're the only characters you need to name.

While the part of your book you've summarized here may be a substantial part of the story, I'm thinking the most interesting part of the story is what happens after they realize it's the unborn kid being hunted. So give us some of that. How do Jenna and others handle knowing everyone's in danger because of Jenna's child?

Collective nouns have complicated rules, at least in the US. Whether you give them a singular or plural verb depends on whether all members of the group are acting as one. For instance, you'd probably say, A bunch of children are swimming in the pool, even though the subject is "bunch" and not "bunches." The children are all swimming, but they're also doing their own thing. But you'd say The synchronized swimming team is practicing in the pool, because they're all doing the same thing as one. (Unless they're the Australian synchronized swimming team.) In Britain, they like plural for everything. For instance, note that in the caption below this photo of the Russian synchronized swimming team, the verb is plural, though the swimmers are all celebrating as one. If those Olympics had been held in Chicago rather than London, it would have been a different story. Whether you get it right or wrong, there will always be people who think you got it wrong, so don't worry about it too much.

I would go with The group decide, not decides, as I'm guessing more than one viewpoint was expressed, and agreement was reached through a discussion or a vote or one person acting as the loudmouthed big shot who has to get his way.

Interestingly, adding an "s" to a noun usually changes it from singular to plural, while adding an "s" to a verb usually changes it from plural to singular.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Synopsis 33

Guess the Plot


1. An S and M how-to guide. Comes with a starter set, including 50 feet of clothesline.

2. A group of kidnapping victims escape, taking with them bad memories and the "family" dog. They feel bound together (and to the dog) and decide to stay together and make their own way.

3. Bound together by a sex demon, Jim and Kyle and Meg are compelled to have sex and erotic dreams unless they can somehow break free. First, of course, Meg must convince Jim and Kyle that they want to break free.

4. A young kangaroo is sad because his brothers and sisters all jump and bounce high into the air, while he can barely get off the ground, but when a crisis arises, he saves the day for everyone with his own secret talent.

5. Nerdy wizard Pireakee figured he had it made when he bound himself to busty blonde witch D'brah. Little did he know she came with a bunch of half-human kids from a string of lovers, a mother with the disposition of an angry cobra, and the inability to stop screaming Elvish curses at him. Can it really take that long for the end of time to arrive?

6. After a creepy game of Ouija at a midnight masquerade, Karl Bilger is walking home alone when a drunk driver runs him over. Now Karl's soul is bound to the car that killed him. Karl revs his engine and zooms off for the ride of his afterlife.

Original Version


Meggie Kain is clairvoyant, [Meggie? I'd go with Megan or Meg. Meggie looks like you misspelled Maggie.] a talent that has left her alienated from her family and all but two friends. She has spent her life trying to suppress her ability, but it occasionally breaks through her control; like when she met Jim Richardson the first time, stopping him on the street with a prophetic warning he would not heed. ["Stop staring at my boobs or you're gonna get kicked in the balls."]

The second time Meggie and Jim meet, her vulnerable mind absorbs his memories of both their first encounter, and of an illicit sexual incident [Is that the best description you can come up with for what happened? Illicit sexual incident?] with a woman who is much more than she seems. A woman who isn’t human at all, but the physical manifestation of a sex demon. [Just once I'd like to have an illicit sexual incident with a sex demon.] [But Mrs. V. keeps turning me down.]

Not knowing that a demon has bound them together, Jim has ignored the vivid sexual dreams and draining sense of fatigue for the past month. But his roommate, Kyle Stanton, has begun experiencing the same thing, [Is "them" Jim and Meggie or Jim and Kyle or Jim and the demon?] and it’s spreading to their new houseguest, Peter; an unwilling participant whose refusal incites a violent reaction from the demon. [What is he refusing? To have vivid sexual dreams and a draining sense of fatigue?] [Is the woman who is the physical manifestation of the sex demon a character at this point, or was her encounter with Jim a one-time thing?]

Not knowing who else he can turn to, Jim begs Meggie’s help. [As far as I can tell, Meggie is a complete stranger Jim encountered on the street. Now she's the only person he can turn to to help him deal with his vivid sexual dreams?] [Ladies, help me out here. A guy walks up to you and says, "Remember me? You stopped me on the street a few weeks ago and made some inexplicable loony comment, and ever since that day I've been having vivid sexual dreams, and you're the only person I can turn to to help me get through this." Would you run in the other direction or would you be drawn to this guy?] She is drawn to both Jim and Kyle. Together they offer her a rare sense of acceptance and the freedom to be exactly who she is. [Are these the two friends you mentioned in the first sentence? Because I think we all assumed that even before she met Jim she had two friends she hadn't alienated.] Reluctantly, she agrees to help; temptation and sympathy outweighing the fears of peering into the dark corners of her soul and facing a demon.

From the moment she enters Jim’s home, she is caught in a maelstrom of a dark desire she can’t fight, and the icy grip of a demon she must. Sensing her ability, the demon claims her, too, and the only way to free all of them is to explore the sensual and psychic connection that is growing stronger by the moment between her, Jim and Kyle. [Now we're getting somewhere. Although I'd prefer if the third person were Kate instead of Kyle.]

Several failed attempts at banishment has only managed to anger [have only angered] the demon. Turning on them, the demon strikes out, fighting for its own survival. With no other options left, Meggie looks into her own psyche, facing her fear and reaching for her talent.

With a half-formed plan to reverse the flow of energy, taking from the demon and weakening it until the bond is broken, Meggie, Jim and Kyle go into battle. But, after years of denying her own talent, Meggie fails and they are all bound. [What?! She fails; The end? That's like watching The Wizard of Oz and at the end Dorothy clicks her heels together and says, "There's no place like home," and nothing happens so she's stuck there forever or at least until the wicked witch of the south, who's much worse than her eastern and western sisters shows up and wipes out humanity and munchkinity.]

Authors Note: Bound is either an erotic horror, or a paranormal romance with a not-exactly-happy ending. [Not exactly? They go into battle, lose, and end up bound to a demon?] (Opinion on genre would be appreciated.) [If you call this a romance, aren't readers going to expect a happily ever after?]


I think we need a more concrete description of what these people are fighting. Do the men know there's a sex demon involved, or do they just think they're dealing with dreams and fatigue? Is the sex demon still manifesting as a woman, and if not, what form is it taking? Is it visible?

What is this warning Meg gives Jim the first time she sees him?

What's at stake? Either they free themselves from the demon or they are doomed to having lots of sex with each other and a voluptuous sex demon along with sexy dreams and a bit of fatigue from having so much sex? And Jim and Kyle want out of this arrangement?

Does Jim consider a psychiatrist before deciding Meggie is the one person he can turn to?

I don't see why the first paragraph shouldn't be in present tense, like the rest of the synopsis.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Okay, for those who've been following the Evil Editor Strips saga, the problem strip is no longer a problem. The printer has given me a code with which I can re-order the books, and they claim I can order them in softcover or hard, so I'm going with hard. (They normally charge an extra eight dollars a copy for hardcover.)

Once I saw the mistake in the original order of 15 softcovers, I contacted them and canceled an order of five hardcovers which I was planning to keep/give as gifts. Shockingly, those five books showed up the next week, with the defective toon. When they eventually told me they'd finally solved the problem, I didn't trust them, so I ordered three hardcovers. They came out just right. So, here's what I now have:

15 softcover copies with one defective cartoon.
5 hardcover copies with one defective cartoon.
3 hardcover copies with no problems.
2 softcover proof copies in which the defective cartoon is not defective, but on which I made some minor adjustments in this and that, like the cover is purple rather than blue and I touched up the artwork.

And coming in a couple weeks:

15 hardcover copies with no problems. (I hope.)

Rather than dump the 20 defective-strip books for which I paid nothing, my plan is to sell them at a reduced price (Hey, it's one defective strip out of 160), and use the profit to reduce the price of the perfect books for which I paid a lot.

And rather than put the book in the Evil Editor Store, where my shopping cart host charges 9%, I've attached my email address ( to a Paypal account. I believe Paypal takes more like 2%. As I understand it, all you need is someone's email address to send them money out of your own Paypal account or with your credit card. I guess I'll find out if this is correct as soon as someone attempts to order one of these books.

So, working with round figures instead of putting .99 on the end of everything (because it's easier to add up totals, even if it does make everything seem much more expensive), if you want the book, send me money through Paypal as follows:

softcover w. 1 bad cartoon: $10
softcover proof: $12
hardcover w. 1 bad cartoon: $20
perfect hardcover: $30

In the US, fast shipping: $6
            slower shipping: $4

Other countries, here's my guesstimate. Sorry if I'm way over.

Canada: $6
Other: $12

Besides sending payment, email me ( to tell me what you paid for. And if you're ordering one of the books with a defective strip, and you want me to add speech balloons to that strip so it has a punch line, let me know. I don't claim I can do a better printing job than you could, but I'll do my best. Possible caption options are at the bottom of the previous update.  Feel free to request anything else. Sample strips may be viewed here.

I have no idea if many (or any) of you want the book, but due to the limited quantities of some items, you might want to email me now and reserve what you want. For instance, if you want to give a perfect hardcover as a Christmas gift, note that there are currently only three, and I may not have the other 15 in time to get one to you for Christmas.

Oh, and that guy who wanted to give his wife an editing job for Christmas, but lost the auction: cool idea. Email me if you still want it, we'll negotiate a deal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Face-Lift 1091

Guess the Plot

121 Days

1. Patty Reynolds starts a blog. After 121 days of intense blogging, she dies, thinking, Christ, how does Evil Editor do it?

2. All that stands between Frank Linstead and freedom from the Keokuk County Jail are 121 days. Can he make it? Or will the unlocked, unguarded cell and jail be too tempting?

3. Sylvya swears that this semester, she's going to get all A's. But between the hunky vampire in her biology class, the hunky werewolf in American Literature, and the hunky chaos god who teaches pre-calc, the semester just seems to be slipping away in hunkiness and C-minuses.

4. Billy and Betsy Day have a rollicking time at the Day family reunion at Happy Times Campground, where they meet all their cousins, each of whom is profiled in their own literary vignette.

5. Jacob Frintz, CEO of Frintz Holdings, decides to boost morale by taking a different key member of staff to lunch each Thursday -- his "121" day. But when he invites corporate paralegal Mindy Swimley to the same restaurant her gorgeous twin sister works at, he sees the opportunity for a series of 122 afternoons.

6. C-List actor Alphonse DuReaux has 121 days till Thanksgiving, when his hypercritical family will surely lambaste his latest flop. Fed up, he gets to work writing, directing, and starring in an independent film that just might make him a cultural icon--and make every last cousin, aunt, and uncle eat their words. Also, it's a porno.

Original Version

As I lay [lie] here dying, I now [No need to say "now" when you've already said "as I lie here."] question everything I once believed. [Everything? Really?] How could something so strong, break so easily. [Exactly what I was thinking when I heard Rob Gronkowski, 1st-round draft pick and leading scorer on my fantasy football team, had broken his arm on an extra point play.] I never would have imagined I would go from something as boring and pathetic as lung cancer. I always knew it would be something tragic and dramatic, such as a car accident or overdose.” [It's not too late to go from an overdose.] – Excerpt from 121 Days

121 Days, [no comma] is the story of Patricia Reynolds, a 48[-]year[-]old woman that has her life changed [whose life changes] forever with a diagnoses [diagnosis] of cancer. Patty spends 121 days, [no comma] re-counting the events of her “so-called” life through the use of a blog. [on her blog] With the love and support of her 17[-]year[-]old relationship to “Her Joe”, [and] a 25[-]year[-]long relationship with her best friend Maggie, Patty is able to overcome incredible life events and memories she is forced to face. [Not clear if you mean she overcomes this stuff during the 121 days or during her "so-called" life. Also, not clear what you mean by "so-called" life.] [Also, it's the love and support of "Her Joe", not of her relationship. And why is "Her" capitalized? And if you put it in quotation marks, shouldn't it be "my Joe"? And why not say her husband Joe, or whatever he is?] [Also, you don't overcome events and memories. Perhaps you mean she relives incredible events as she blogs, or she blogs about obstacles she overcame. In any case, I'd much rather hear about her incredible life events than her blog.]

The story offers readers the chance to bond with a unique and diverse [multifaceted?] strong female character, and share laughter and tears, as 48 years of lessons learned are divulged. [If I gotta read 48 year's worth of lessons learned, I guess it may as well be condensed into 121 blog entries. Unless . . . Have you considered divulging these lessons in 121 tweets?] As the story unfolds, [There's a story? What is it?] Patty discovers true friendship, devout love, and what the true meaning of honesty is. 121 Days is full of heart breaking [heartbreaking] stories and the innermost thoughts of a loved and dying woman.

I have published a few articles in Savannah magazines, [Period, new sentence.] the idea of this novel, [No comma] came to me with great inspiration. [What does that mean?] Would you be interested in taking a look at this manuscript?

You can reach me via email, using the link below.


Is the entire book written in the form of a blog? If so, make that clear.

Start over. We want specifics. By which I mean specific examples of what happens in the book, not the specific number of years Patty has known each character.

Don't open with an excerpt. If the whole book is blog entries, you can include a sample entry/chapter with the query.

If you're trying to sell a fictional (or nonfictional) memoir, I'm not sure you want to describe its subject as someone who's had a "so-called" life.

It seems likely the book needs a good proofreading before you do anything with it.

Friday, December 07, 2012

New Beginning 979

“Out of time, out of options. Where you going to hide this time?”

The voice sounded like it was coming from the alley several meters ahead, but Gwen knew better. She whirled around and grabbed Rylask by one of his skinny necks, pinning the Grelund against the nearest wall.

“I’m not in the mood for this tonight. When I let go, you better run as far and fast as you can,” she growled.

The alien laughed with his left mouth while his right continued to gasp for air against the punishing grip of the young woman. One eye stalk swooped down and back up in an insolent gesture, taking in Gwen’s filthy uniform and her tangled hair. “Don’t think I’m the one who should be worried about running. Maybe you can kill me, but you’ll still be stuck here all alone. Maybe you should learn who your friends really are.”

Rylask's fifth tentacle snaked up to adjust the paper hat on Gwen's head. "I'm the only one left who'll work the drive-through during your midnight shift," he sneered.

The restaurant's back door banged open and a Grelund head poked out, eyestalks rigid with anger. "Both of you, quit hiding out here. Break time's over, I'm leaving, and those triffids aren't going to fry themselves."

Gwen released Rylask's neck. "Yes, sir," she said meekly. If she lost this job her parole officer would have her head. One of them, anyway.

Opening:.....Continuation: IMHO

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Face-Lift 1090

Guess the Plot

The Devil's Daughter

1. Kelly Osbourne spends her days torturing souls at her father's command, but what she really wants is to be a reality TV star in America. When she gets asked to join the cast of Dancing with the Stars, will she break ties with the old man?

2. Don has been searching for the daughter of the devil himself. He's been searching for an angel in white. He's been waiting for a woman who's a little of both. But when he tries to feel her when there's no one in sight, there's hell to pay.

3. The Time Traveler's Wife has been foolin' around. But proving it is going to require the DNA test from Hell.

4. Lucia Satania has been having strange urges. She suddenly wants to be honest, compassionate, and helpful! What's happening to her? If she doesn't do something extra evil soon, she'll lose her status as the evilest girl in school.

5. The Devil knocks up some woman while possessing the body of some hot guy. The pregnant woman, shunned by her Amish family, finds herself in a New Jersey walk-up, surrounded by a group of devil worshippers waiting for her foretold daughter to be born. Also, a priest who throws himself out of any handy window at the first sign of demon possession, but always manages to survive.

6. Abby feeds and cares for orphaned and injured wildlife. A state wildlife agent arrests her because she lacks a license which she can’t get because of a prior conviction from her wild youth. Before her court date, she abducts the agent, cuts him up, and feeds him to her bear friends. Detective Dale Lincoln follows wild bears to collect evidence from their feces but then falls in love with Abby. It’s unbearable.

7. Hi! My Name is Allemortis. I like warm nights by the fire, walks by the lava, and holding hands while watching explosions. You're any male of age who isn't afraid to try new things. My place is really easy to get to--I'm sure you've been told to come here lotsa times! LOL! CYA!

Original Version

Lucia Satania leads the perfect life. All of her frenemies loathe and adore her, her teachers fear her, and creating mischief is as easy as breathing. She’s growing eviler by the day-- as is to be expected of the devil’s daughter.

But since her sixteenth birthday she has been having these strange… urges. She suddenly wants to be honest, compassionate, and helpful even (shudder). [even (shudder) helpful]. The other day she helped an elderly woman walk across the street, as opposed to letting her get run over like she should have. What was she thinking? [Helping an elderly woman cross the street is awfully cliche and boring for your example. Besides, she can't know the woman would have been run over without her help. Also, gleefully letting an elderly woman get run over is a different level of evil from the "creating mischief" mentioned in the first paragraph. The tone seems a bit light if we're supposed to think that up to now she's been taking delight in witnessing people's deaths. If you keep the street-crossing example, I'd remove the "as opposed to..." phrase. Or switch to something like, Why, just the other day she went to the salon to have her horns polished, and didn't even park in a handicapped space!]

Now she’s losing her status as the evilest girl in school, [Is this a school for evil kids?] her mother wants to disown her and her priorities are all messed up. Lucia must do something extra evil to get back in everyone’s bad graces, [If she attends a school for the evil, doing something extra evil would probably get her in everyone's good graces. If it's not a school for the evil, why hasn't she been expelled?] but her risky plan unearths a secret from her mother’s past that just might change the game forever. [Vague. If necessary I can live with only knowing Lucia's plan or only knowing Mom's secret, but you have to give us something.]

The devil's daughter is a ya fantasy complete at 70,000 words.


This is all setup until you get to the risky plan, about which you reveal nothing. How about starting:

Lucia Satania is the devil's daughter, but she isn't even the evilest girl in her school! Not anymore. Ever since her sixteenth birthday, Lucia has been having these strange… urges. She suddenly wants to be honest, compassionate, and (shudder) helpful. The other day she stayed after school and cleaned all the blackboards without even being asked! (How could she have known those math problems were supposed to stay up?)

With her mother threatening to disown her, Lucia knows she must do something extra evil to win back her reputation.

That leaves plenty of room to fill us in on how Lucia deals with her situation. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Here's the situation with Evil Editor Strips, a full-color, 100-page, 160-strip collection of comic strips starring Evil Editor.

First of all, the price. Before embarking on this project, I looked into various photo-book manufacturers. They charge the same for comic strips as for photos. Most of them set a price for an 8 inch by 8 inch/20-page book, and charge more for bigger dimensions, and add (in most cases) $1.00 for each additional page (in the 8 by 10 size). Thus the price for one copy of this book worked out to:

Photobook America: $100
Snapfish: $105
Printerpix: $80
Shutterfly: $105
Picaboo: $105
Blurb: $38

Blurb doesn't charge $1.00 for each additional page over 20, they up the price by about 4 dollars for each additional 20 pages. All of these companies run special deals from time to time, 40% off, or free shipping, but Blurb is still lower, even at full price. And they offer volume discounts starting at 7 copies. Plus, I went to the sites of several of these places and found that Blurb's system was the easiest to work with. It was a no-brainer to go with Blurb.

I ordered a 60-page book to check the quality, which was excellent, then when I had enough strips for 100 pages I ordered again as a proof. Still fine, but I improved the artwork on most of the strips, made some of them funnier, and then ordered 15 copies. A couple for me, a couple as gifts, and a few for those minions who buy everything I publish.

Unfortunately, for some reason that the Blurburati haven't been able to figure out, one of the strips seems to enlarge itself somewhere in the process, so that only half of it fits on the page. The strip is supposed to look like this:

Click to enlarge.

But instead it looks like this:

Blurb is replacing the books for me, and if no one there can figure out why that comic strip keeps screwing up, I'll replace it with another before they print. Meanwhile, I have 15 copies of a book that I would normally sell for over $35 just to break even, and I see a golden opportunity. If I can get $10 a copy for these books (+ shipping), I'll recoup the money I spent on proofs, and I can cut the price I charge for the perfect copies when they arrive. And those of you who would never consider spending $38 on a book of comic strips, which is most of you, might be tempted to get it, if only to cut out your favorites and stick them on the door to your office or the wall behind your writing desk the way computer professionals and cubicle workers do with Dilbert cartoons. These are comic strips that only you, as writers, can truly appreciate. It's sort of like if you find Marmaduke funny, it can only be because you own a giant dog.

I could have used an exacto knife to remove the offending page; that would also remove more than the one offending cartoon, but if I managed to cut it close enough, no one would have known the difference. Or I could have ignored the problem, trusting that readers would assume the cartoon was funny and refuse to admit they were too stupid to get the joke. Another possibility is that I can get a Sharpie pen and draw a black line down the right side of the strip, and add speech or thought balloons. In fact, if we can come up with a good joke for the current two-panel cartoon, the book will have no defects. I'll have to up the price to $20, but you'll be able to gift it after you read it.

So the first step is to see if we can make that cartoon strip funny. Then I'll add the book to the store. Send your caption suggestions as comments.

New Beginning 978

Over a year ago, Earth Navy made contact with a race of aliens called Thewls. The space faring warriors sought help in a battle for galactic peace against a radically different race of aliens called Lokians, an insect-like race of monsters. The Humans and Thewls joined forces. Together, they defeated the Lokians on their home world, in subspace.

After the battle, the Humans returned to their base of operations, Horizon colony, planet Eon. In lieu of a hero’s welcome, the special operations team, led by Captain O’Hara of Earth Navy, was disbanded and reassigned. Moreover, the colony, Horizon, was shut down before it grew to be a new home for Humans traveling the stars. President of the North American Union, Montrose, was on his way to piece together the covert operation.

In truth, Montrose had ulterior motives. He was truly seeking information from the Captain, information he believed might help him escape the ever-tightening grasp of his alien overlord, Oloroc. The President arrived on Eon too late. Captain O’Hara had deserted his post. Montrose then sought out the special operations team but they had different plans in mind and with the help of retired Admiral, John Lay, and The Bureau, they were reunited with their former Captain.

Over three years ago, the special operations team had held a bowling tournament to decide the fate of the entire galaxy. Due to the Lokians' inability to hold a bowling ball with pincers and the Thewls' tendency to attack the pinsetters with spears, the humans had triumphed, ensuring peace for the next two-hundred years. Or so they thought. Montrose had rushed to the closing ceremonies, but arrived too late. Upon winning, O'Hara had promptly bailed on his team.

More than a decade ago, Montrose, at the bidding of Oloroc, had opened a hair salon in Reseda named Epoch Style. In truth, he was lying in wait, waiting for the day O'Hara would surface with his secret information about Markakian Overlord divorce procedures.

A century ago, O'Hara had ordered cable from Time Warner. Noticing O'Hara on the grid, Montrose rushed to Gum Branch, Georgia. Too late; O'Hara had already abandoned his apartment and moved into a tidy condo that would become home for hippies traveling from Winnetka to Lycus IV.

Opening: Aaron Dennis.....Continuaton: Heather

Monday, December 03, 2012

Auction ending!

Attention Minions:

Evil Editor is now up for bids in a charity auction to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. Bidding ends Tuesday at 9 A.M.

The auction is here.

Synopsis 32

Guess the Plot

For War and Glory

1. Champion Dachshund War falls hard for a lovely Great Dane named Glory at the Westminster Dog Show.

2. Hawkish college sophomore Jed Witz is hopelessly smitten with Glory Jones, chair of the campus peace group. For some reason his attempts to change her views aren't winning her heart. What to do? He can't be... For War and Glory.

3. War (short for Warington Jackson III) wants Glory. Her fingernails drive him crazy, all twelve of them. The way she runs those nails down his instep, well, he'd like to more than tip her. Glory never wants to touch a foot again. She's got a supply of synthetic nail fungus, and she's prepared to fight for her freedom.

4. The planet Gorgonia boasts a long lineage of war-loving, slug-like creatures intent upon other-world domination. Unfortunately, the world they are planning to conquer has just gained a new ally, a small Earth girl who is utterly ruthless. Can Thullu and Phtumu defeat the eight-year old, or will love for each other conquer them, and bring peace to the warring planets? Also, tips for cleaning a slime trail.

5. Billy and forty-three of his classmates, class of ’15, join the New Zealand Division following their December graduation. They are quickly trained, shipped to France, and settled in near the River Somme. At 6:20 AM, September 15th they go over the top. On November 12th, Billy and his three remaining classmates – all invalids -- are shipped home.

6. A galactic war among insectoid, reptilian, human, etc. races leads to the Court Martial of one Riley O'Hara. Also, a cyborg.

7. When Jeff finally unlocks the fiendishly tricky secret level on "For War and Glory", weird men in black are at the door, helicopters buzz the house, and his folks disappear. All he wanted was to see some video game sex. Guess that's not gonna happen now, so he might as well skip school.

Original Version

Synopsis - Lokians: Book 3  For War and Glory

Captain Riley O’Hara of Earth Navy sits before the Judge Advocate. A barrage of questions and accusations accost the young Captain regarding his recent abandonment of his Naval post. O’Hara defends himself during the Court Martial by telling his story. Several crimes were committed during his stint, including but not limited too [to], giving Human Intel to aliens, bringing in alien satellites to restore communications, dropping a race of alien, monsters in the battlefield, and kidnapping the President of the North American Union.

Gray mother ships positioned over government buildings around the world while alien hybrids took control from behind the shadows. [The last two sentences are in past tense. Is that because those two sentences are O'Hara's story at the Court Martial? Or is the whole thing his testimony?] [Also, behind the shadows? When a shadow is cast on something, that thing becomes darker, but I don't think it's behind the shadow, as the shadow isn't an object. Sometimes people are said to be hiding in the shadows. And of course it's possible to be behind The Shadow.] With Thewlian allies faring poorly after one of a precious few Carriers was destroyed, O’Hara and the remnants of his former crew must utilize NOAHH, the cyborg, to subvert alien communications, hunt down the reptilian overlord, Oloroc, remove the immense Gray vessels wreaking havoc planet side, and disavow the entire situation as The Bureau predicates.

The situation continuously deteriorates as Gray Sentinels knock out NOAHH, preventing the use of Earth’s satellite weaponry, this just after the successful destruction of a single enemy communications relay. All the while, added tons of mass on Earth distorts atmospheric pressure providing the D.O.D. an excess of difficulty while the Grays are privy to zero-gravity engines.

A temporal discordance caused by the defeat of the Lokians behind space-time alters the flow of time. This effect puts more pressure on the already wore out [worn-out] crew as they scramble through abandoned alien facilities for Intel, dodge careening wreckage in New York, and finally plan the ultimate strike against an unwavering enemy.

O’Hara focuses on one task at a time, allowing his former crew to grow and flourish on their own. With new roles for old characters comes a unified explanation tying all the races together, from the illusive [elusive?] travelers to the obscured Reptilians.

Once Lieutenant Commander Swain restores NOAHH, Fitzpatrick [Who? There's been no Fitzpatrick mentioned.] leads a ground strike on D.C. to locate and demolish the alien hybrids. Korit, the Thewl, [defeats Jabba the Hutt and then] leads a mission to destroy a Gray harvesting facility. O’Hara is forced to recruit a civilian pilot to fly into a Teragon, practically a suicide mission and The Bureau does their best to cover everything up, though they do lend quite a bit of support.

Naturally, most everything comes out into the open, at least to the D.O.D., who finally capture O’Hara and prosecute. Admiral Lay steps in to help, and President Montrose twists the truth to come out like a rose. In the end, O’Hara and crew work hard to return where everything began, planet Eon, where benevolent alien races unite to create a new system, a united, galactic front. [Not a chance.]

Author's note: (The title Lokians has nothing to do with Loki and I had not considered until after the first book was published. It's just the name I gave to the insectoid aliens.)


I note you have reptilian and insectoid aliens. Are there also amphibian, avian, and fishy aliens? Actually, that's not a bad idea. I recommend abandoning this project and writing a book in which the various classes of animals all send one champion to a competition that will determine which class gets to rule the planet. The fish, of course, would send a shark. Reptiles would send a crocodile. Mammals would probably go with a human, even though we'd be better off with a gorilla or a whale or a bear or a rhinoceros. We're too conceited to admit other mammals are better than we are at anything. Insects would go with a bee. They wouldn't have a chance. Neither would birds, although its ability to fly would make a hawk or eagle hard to catch. But birds are kind of stupid, so they'd probably send a chicken and lose in the first round. Unless it was the chicken from Family Guy.

This is just a list of stuff that happens, with little elaboration on any of it. Which probably describes most synopses, but
here, almost every paragraph is a list. If you could focus the whole thing on the story arc of one character rather than bringing in such minor occurrences as dodging wreckage, destroying a harvesting facility, recruiting a civilian pilot to fly into a Teragon . . .

Too many characters. There's no need to throw in Swain, Fitzpatrick. Korit, and Lay if their roles warrant only one sentence. Do we need Grays and Thewls and Lokians and reptilians? Basically, there's a war going on between someone and someone else and O'Hara is given a mission? Is that the story? Or is the entire galactic war your story.

Start over. Tell us the story of O'Hara. What is his situation? What are his goals? What's preventing him from reaching them? What's he planning to do about it? The synopsis of Saving Private Ryan isn't a history of WWII.