Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Evil Editor Gets Audited

Most of this seems in order, EE. If we could just go over one of your deductions?

Which one is that?

This $160,000 charitable contribution for editing a novel.

That was for the Brenda Novak auction.

Yes, but I understand the item went for less than $3500.

I deducted what the item was worth, not what it brought in. We were in a recession. Who had 160 grand?

I see.

Look at it this way: Say the Louvre donated the Mona Lisa to the auction and it went for five thousand; it doesn't mean the painting's not worth millions.

You're comparing yourself to da Vinci? That's how you came up with your figure?

Actually, I checked the Internet to see what freelance editors were getting. I took the highest one I could find and multiplied by twenty.


Because I'm Evil Editor. Look at it this way: Say you're hiring someone to ghost-write your autobiography; John Grisham is gonna cost way more than some local hack wannabe writer, even though the hack could write Grisham under the table. You pay for the name.

You're comparing yourself to John Grisham now? I don't see how you can say your work is worth so much, unless everything you edit becomes a number one bestseller.

People don't buy my services to make money. Writing the perfect novel brings peace to their souls. Look at it this way: Say you've sought salvation through God but you still don't feel fulfilled; so you try writing a novel, but it lacks that inspirational spark that can come only from divine editing, so--

God?! You're comparing yourself . . .

Monday, April 29, 2013

Auction Gearing Up

The Brenda Novak Auction for Diabetes Research begins Wednesday. Last year Ms. Novak sent me a plaque commemorating my contributions to the auction. By her accounting, Evil Editor has brought it over $14,000.

The items available from Evil Editor this year are below. The books, of course, are available from the EE store, so you may not want to bid above what you can get them for anytime, but keep in mind that I pay the US shipping charges on auction items, so bidding a bit higher than the actual cost could save money. Plus you get the Evil Editor signature, making the books instant collector's items, worth thousands on Ebay after I die.

The editing jobs always go for big money, but even if you don't have big money, that doesn't mean you can't help by bidding early and often in order to start a bidding frenzy among the millionaires out there. In fact, if you bid $200 or less on one of the editing jobs and actually win, and would rather have the money, I will pay your bid just to get out of editing your book. Ideally we want Uncle Scrooge and Richie Rich to see the bidding climbing rapidly, and get into a bidding war that brings in enough to cure diabetes overnight.

Also, while the auctions for most items last throughout the month of May, the top item on the list below is a 1-day auction ending at 8:59 PM on Thursday, May 2. If you want it, don't dilly-dally.

Item: 2922803
Standard Auction

Editing Job on the First 10,000 Words of a Novel by EVIL EDITOR
Item: 2922850
Standard Auction

Why You Don't Get Published, Volumes 1 and 2, signed by Evil Editor
Item: 2922851
Standard Auction

Novel Deviations, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, signed by Evil Editor
Item: 2922898
Standard Auction

Your Book (up to 100,000 words) Edited by EVIL EDITOR
Item: 2922897
Standard Auction

EVIL EDITOR Teaches School
Item: 2922899
Standard Auction

Item: 2922900
Standard Auction

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Success Story

Dave F. reports: The story that belongs to New Beginning 906 has just been published in Techno Goth Cthulhu by Red Skies Press under the title "Meditations on a Dead World."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Face-Lift 1122

Guess the Plot

Law of the Pack

1. All liquids must be 3oz or less. No explosives, sharp items, tools greater than seven inches in length, firearms (or realistic firearm replicas), or snow globes larger than a tennis ball. Checked bags weighing more than 50 lbs will incur a surcharge.

2. . . . 103.b.6: Notwithstanding the circumstances in 103.b.5, an omega who proceeds to consume an elk carcass without first waiting for the alpha to eat his fill shall be subject to any combination of the following punishments at the alpha's discretion: growling, snarling, nipping, biting of the ankles, biting of the tail . . .

3. Originally, there were two laws of the pack, but the governing committee felt oversight was too onerous. So, the bylaws were reorganized into a single law from which all rights and responsibilities, stated or implied, were immediately granted, forthwith.....
4. Both candidates for the position of adviser to the king and queen want the help of 13-year-old Dara. But Dara doesn't care about court politics. She's more interested in her pack of dogs.

5. When a large midwestern state places severe limits on cigarette purchases, smuggling begins and a new black market is born. Soon bloody turf wars break out between rival dealers.

6. Rolfe endangers himself when he breaks the first law of the pack: don't talk about the pack. Then, he narrowly escapes having his throat ripped out after breaking the second law of the pack (don't talk about the pack!). Also, a lot of pack-talk.

7. After witnessing a tryst between high-priestess and pack-leader, Unbar is shunned. Now, he must break the law of the pack, risking his life to save his abandoned family from impending volcanic eruption.

8. On his way to a shoplifting deposition, unlucky lawyer Larry Futz gets bitten by a werewolf. Soon he's sharpening his fangs on chew toys and howling at the moon. Can he still win the trial...and the heart of the hot paralegal?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

Summer is drawing to a close, and with the end of the season, the fey are making their preparations for the changing over to the Winter Courts. Even for a small town in the middle of nowhere, the changing of a court is a pretty big deal; old jobs are terminated, [Yawn.] new positions introduced, and the King and Queen of each district take a personal interest in their staff for the new season. [Snore.] Even though she's required to entertain at court, thirteen-year old Dara [Finally. A character.] has no interest in politics. Her priorities are her Pack of fey-linked dogs, trying to tame her unstable and fluctuating magics, annoying her social worker Elise, avoiding the bullies at school—but most of all, trying to find a way to escape from the care home and find her birth family. [Usually "priorities" are listed in order from top to bottom, so finding the top one at the bottom threw me a bit. Possibly that's just me. If not, you could call them her main concerns or her main pursuits.]

Elise insists they have no record of Dara’s history—half-fey babies get dumped all the time and the best thing for everyone is for Dara to give up, move on and behave herself. [That sounds a bit harsh coming from a social worker. Is this a different kind of social worker?] Especially with the reshuffling of the courts coming up, which Elise sees as the perfect opportunity to gain the coveted position of advisor to King and Queen Fey. [Those are the names they go by? King Fey and Queen Fey? Isn't that like the queen of England calling herself Queen Human?] [Besides which, kings and queens go by their first names.] Dara is set to perform in the Folk Week festival at the end of summer, and her presence before Queen Fey could make all the difference in Elise’s job application—if Dara co-operates. [Co-operates in some way other than performing? What does Elise want her to do?]

Dara sees no reason why she should help Elise get anything. Besides, Elise’s rival Druth offers a tempting proposition—help him keep his job [As current adviser, I assume?] and he’ll help Dara escape the social care system and finance her search for her family. She just has to run one or two errands for him first. [Not clear if the errands are in addition to helping him keep his job (by not cooperating with Elise) or if all he wants from her is the errands. With his job at stake he wouldn't pile on demands to the point she might say No.] Dara doesn’t trust Druth anymore than she likes Elise, but with her latest escape attempt leaving her officially grounded, she doesn’t have any choice but to accept his help. [Does he have any other choice if he doesn't get her help?] But Druth’s errands prove far more dangerous than expected, [What are they?] and with Elise constantly breathing down her neck and Folk Week looming, it’ll be a miracle if Dara ever manages to escape at all.

LAW OF THE PACK is an 80,000 word urban fantasy novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.


The word "reshuffling" suggests a randomness to who gets which job, that they shuffle the jobs and deal them out. If the applications and the Folk Week festival are major determinants, it doesn't seem anything is shuffled.

What is the "care home"? Some kind of orphanage? Why is Dara "required" to entertain at court?

It seems to me that running away is Dara's goal. "Escaping" would apply if she were a prisoner. Is she? Obviously they don't want her running away, but is she locked up?

It's well-written, but it's all setup. You can set it up in one paragraph, something like:

Thirteen-year-old Dara has no interest in the politics of the Fey court. However, her social worker Elise and Elise's rival Druth both want Dara's help to gain the coveted position of adviser to the king and queen. Druth has a bargaining chip: he'll help Dara escape the social care system and search for her family--if she'll steal the magical scissors of Endor for him.

Now there's plenty of room to tell us what happens. Does Dara take on the dangerous errands? Does Druth betray her? If not, does she go after her family and does Elise try to stop her? This is your story; it needs to be in the query. And it needs specificity.

Based on the title and the fact that the word "Pack" was inexplicably capitalized, I assume the dogs play a more crucial role than you've let on.

Dara enters the 1st paragraph late, and Elise feels like the main character in the 2nd paragraph. Keep us focused on Dara, start to finish.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Face-Lift 1121

Guess the Plot

The Blonde Top: Supermodel

1. He's blonde and a supermodel, but he's got hot-guy problems: men ride his coattails to pick up the scraps, and no decent women will trust him. So, essentially, it's Notting Hill II, The Dude's Dilemma.

2. In this tell-all memoir, 90's cover model Cherysea gives the straight dope on how she rocked heroin-chic weeks before the uppity Kate Moss arrived on the catwalk.

3. While legions adore Stacy's girl-next-door appearance, no one is aware she's a supermodel of a different sort: a cyborg sent back from the near future to target Kate Upton before she breeds. SI's swimsuit edition has never been this toasty.

4. Luciana is blonde, uniquely beautiful, and on top of the fashion-model world. She even has a Facebook persona: The Blonde Top. Enter egocentric, evil, envious Lebart, Brazilian supermodel extraordinaire and we have the makings of a rivalry that just may lead to a catfight on the catwalk.

5. Ashley is a hair model. With her spectacular golden locks and stunning smile, she's a star at all the big hair and cosmetology shows. Jeff, her favorite photographer, adores her, but knows he has no chance against the movie stars and bigwigs that usually date her. When Hurricane Abernathy traps them together in a Florida hotel, will he finally get his chance to impress her?

6. Shenandoah always knew she was different. The other toys in the box would stare and sometimes whistle. One day she gets a look at herself in the mirror. Her blonde hair has a top sewn in! Plus she's better looking than Barbie. Buzz Lightyear leaves the toy box with Shenandoah as they venture to the city so she can pursue her dream of being a model. Also, a stalker Barbie with a stuffed crocodile.

Original Version

What person in this modern world does not fantasize with being famous?; What girl does not dream with be a supermodel? [Uh oh. Either we have an ESL issue or this query was written by a blonde supermodel. Either way we're in trouble.]

My book is called "the blonde top: supermodel". The original Spanish title would be "La Rubia Top". It is complete and consists of 20 chapters and about 250 pages of a book and 185 in Word. The genre of the book is the saga fiction.


Luciana Mia Seillann is a 20 year old girl with a unique beauty. Born in Argentina. The story begins [Forget the story. Make the book a photo album devoted entirely to Luciana. I'll buy it.] when in a holiday trip in Los Angeles United States, is approached by a model manager (Rick). [Poor, naive Luciana. Don't trust him, Lu! (Can I call you Lu?) He just wants to get you into the porn industry. You're better than that. You could have your own reality show.] This gives her a card, and then insists on facebook to Start your career in the world of modalaje.

Her ["]friend["] Cecilie, convinces.

That was always his dream, the blonde top (nickname using Internet five years ago), added photos to their websites and had many fans and admirers. Many people knew her.

So it was that after a year became one of the most famous and important models in the world. For her charisma and beauty quickly conquer to the principal organizers of the fashion shows, his way of pose for the cameras makes transcend their photographs and the audience stay impressed and delighted with their photo campaigns.

It has a lot of work. Always traveling and having a new adventure. The characters that crosses are recurrent, some very picturesque. His biggest rivalry is in the hands of Lebart, another model Brazilero. Egocentric, evil, envious. And it has another opponent who is a rapper trendy in America, Pitt.

Photographic campaigns, fashion shows, fashion week, promotions, events, commercial. This girl's life is completely crazy, but she lives in a very amusing.
It features ironic and sarcastic humor typical of the world in which we live.

What she does not know yet, is that letting the wrong people in his life, [One subtlety of English you need to grasp is pronoun agreement. "He," "him," and "his" are for males, while "she," "her," and "hers" are for females. Calling a woman "him" is confusing; calling a person "it" is insulting (and could brand you as a serial killer).] and doing what they say, will have many setbacks and complicated relationships.

But as all the "good" has something bad .. will be conscious of what is happening around her? ...Can she imagine the things that will happen in the next few years?...

Who knows it? .....

Note from author: I live in Argentina with my parents, I'm an only child. I have 20 years. This is the first book I write. Now I'm writing the sequel, the second part. This is called "the blonde top: Secret Love".


If you are Luciana and this is your memoir and you need someone with whom to work very closely to make it perfect, I'm your man.

If you translated your book into English, I'm sorry to report that your English isn't good enough yet. It's better than my Spanish, but I took French as my foreign language.

I recommend trying to sell the book in Spanish; if it's good enough to get published, and the publisher or your agent can sell English-language rights, it will be translated by someone proficient in both languages. Which is not to say you shouldn't continue to improve your English language skills.

Before you can sell it in Spanish you'll need a query letter that sells the story. What you have here is a list of random things that happen to Luciana; you need to focus on the crucial event that changes her life. Who or what threatens to bring her down after she reaches the top? What does she do about it? What goes wrong? Make us care about her.

The title is weird. Call your books Supermodel and Secret Love. The Blonde Top doesn't make much sense.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Holy Crap

To celebrate, a collection of some of the more laugh-inducing items to have appeared here.


Dear Cruel Lord of Print:

Your profile at Agent Query indicated you had an interest in urban fantasy. Please consider representing my contribution to the genre, The Wayfarer, an adventure novel told in 100,000 words.

Mallory used to be a vampire. Then his brother, Veratrum, a stronger vampire (perhaps the strongest vampire) [Dracula is the strongest vampire. Don't you know anything?] killed him. However, Mallory rose again, [Was he killed with a stake through his heart? Because if vampires can return after that, there's no hope for humanity.] this time as a wayfarer, one who stalks the physical and astral planes. Possessed of humanity, he condemns the sins of his former life and swears vengeance on Veratrum [Who would name their kid Veratrum? I Googled it, it's a plant. Also a homeopathic remedy for dozens of things, and that's just under the heading of "Stool." For instance, you supposedly should take Veratrum if your stool is any of the following:

Strong and sharp (acrid), corrosive, wearing away skin; bilious; black; brown; copious; flaky; forcible, sudden, gushing; frequent; green; hard; involuntary; involuntary during flatulence; large; mucous, slimy; odourless; thin, liquid; watery; like rice water.

Veratrum is also recommended for the following symptoms (among hundreds):

Feeling excessively religious; vomiting during diarrhea; face that appears dead; craving refreshing things; imperceptible pulse; collapse after diarrhea; shrunken hands; shrieking;
melancholy, with stupor and mania; sits in a stupid manner; notices nothing; frenzy of excitement; aimless wandering from home; delusions of impending misfortunes; mania, with desire to cut and tear things; cursing and howling all night; nose grows more pointed; rattling in chest; blue face; coughing upon entering warm room; neck too weak to hold head up.] and all who serve him. Over a century of failures has stretched Mallory’s patience and forced him to compromise more and more of his ideals in service of his oath. [A century? If you've been seeking revenge on someone for over a century and consistently failing, you have to be the most incompetent wayfarer of them all.] [A zombiefied vampire stalking the astral plane in search of vengeance needs a scarier name than The Wayfarer. He'd have killed Veratrum long ago, but he walks in and it goes:

Mallory: Prepare to die, Veratrum.

Veratrum: Who's gonna kill me?

Mallory: It is I . . . The Wayfarer!

Veratrum (laughing): Hey minions, check it out. The Wayfarer. Run for your lives!

Minions (laughing hysterically as they pummel Mallory): Ooo, the Wayfarer. Save us Master.]
The final assault begins with the rescue of Aethe, a woman Veratrum wants as more than just prey. What exactly he wants with her, Mallory does not know, and when she refuses to tell, Mallory keeps her with him under the guise of protection. The same for Claud, a bystander Mallory carjacks in his flight with Aethe, who manages to get bit by one of Veratrum’s minions. The bite, of course, infects Claude with the Nosferatu. [Quick, give him two tablespoons of Veratrum.] In order to keep the man pacified, Mallory claims there is a cure, but really he wants to use the disease in Claud’s veins to track Veratrum. [The closer they get to Veratrum, the brighter Claud glows.] [Make up your mind how Claud(e) spells his name.]
They take shelter with Mallory’s friends, who are happy to help until they discover where they rank in relation to Mallory’s fevered thirst for revenge. Unable to hear their words over the roar of his obsession, rationalizing his every betrayal, Mallory makes a bargain with another vampire: Aethe for Veratrum. [How can this other vampire deliver Veratrum? Veratrum is stronger. Is it just because it's two against one? In an entire century of trying to kill Veratrum, this is the first time Mallory's thought of enlisting help? What about Veratrum's minions? They're not going to stand by while Mallory and Claud kill Veratrum.] Can he go through with it? At what price vengeance?

I am as yet unpublished. The first five pages are enclosed, as well as an SASE for your response. Thank you for your time,



TITLE: Shadow of Doubt

Query - Plot: [If these two lines are part of the query, get rid of them. They're wasting space.]

What happens when you fall for the one you are forbidden to love? [In my case, I sit around my home every night watching TV and wondering if Julia Roberts will ever remove the restraining order.] When destiny takes over everything you fought to control, that which was forbidden could now destroy you. [This is all too vague to have any meaning, and will presumably be restated below with specificity. Dump it.]

Erebus is a Shadow, an immortal night dweller, walking the Earth for the last century. [You don't need to be immortal to have walked the Earth for the past century. Just really old.] By day he is the occlusion of a payphone, [Say what? What does that even mean? I can only assume it's a typo and it's supposed to read: By day he is an octopus made of Play Doh. Or he's the clue gun of a peafowl. An accused Hun from Plano?] and by night he returns to human form. [When did he ever have human form? I assumed he was this immortal night-dwelling Shadow creature when he wasn't a payphone.] He’s different than other Shadows, [which are, by day, reflections of coffee makers.] solemn when Shadows are meant to live for personal fun and satisfaction. That is, until he meets Aurora, a young law student at Cornell University, a human girl. His entire world is shaken. Human feelings he's never had, and urges he’s never understood, like wanting to have a place to live of his own, [Does he live in a phone booth in the daytime?] drive him to question everything about himself and his kind.

Prohibited by the Night Council to have a relationship with a human that involves more than just sex, [Even phone sex?] Erebus is risking severe punishment to be with Aurora [Sounds like he's really hung up on her. Ba dum ching.] on a completely different level. [Even a sex-only relationship with a human can be problematic--if you're still going at it when dawn arrives and you suddenly turn back into a payphone.]

When a jealous old flame, Nanny, stalks back into his life, [I could never date someone who went by the name Nanny. Although it's better than dating someone who goes by the name Mommy.] Erebus breaks the most important law set by the Shadows and reveals his secret to Aurora. [Are we talking about the secret that he's immortal or the secret that he's a payphone?] [I'm thinking if you tell your true love you're a payphone, it doesn't matter whether she believes it's true or not. She's gone.] [I'm not sure whether I'd rather my mate be immortal or a payphone. Immortality would be good because funerals are expensive. On the other hand, it wouldn't hurt to have a steady influx of spare change.] By telling her, he jeopardizes everything, and must protect her from Nanny and the judgment of the Night Council. [The only thing he jeopardizes is his relationship with her. No way Aurora bought his claim that he's an immortal nightcrawling payphone.] His biggest fears are realized when he sees that [Aurora has her own cell phone, and thus won't be pushing his buttons.] his desire for Aurora could destroy her, or worse, erase his own Shadow forever.

SHADOW OF DOUBT is complete at 52,000 words and falls into the category of young adult fantasy. The storyline has a unique twist [I'll say.] that goes beyond the traditional fantasy, with pure love that can conquer anything in and beyond this world.


What would happen if humans found out Shadows existed? What's the punishment for telling a human you're a blender? In other words, what's at stake?

Usually authors go with a human being as the main character if one is available. Especially when the alternative is a payphone.

Whatever the occlusion of a payphone is, the query is better off without it. We also don't need Nanny. She's a subplot.

What's the difference between a Shadow and a human at night? Besides immortality. Do Shadows have any powers? Can they have relationships with each other? Are all Shadows occlusions of payphones, or are some occlusions of gas pumps? Are all objects Shadows? Or are there a limited number of Shadows?




Monday, April 22, 2013

Face-Lift 1120

Guess the plot

The Unravelling

1. This homespun yarn follows four generations of the MacAilis family as they ship out from Glasgow and stitch together a new life in America.

2. Trapped in Hell, succubus Diavante develops a conscience and decides feeding off human passion is wrong. Will she keep her vow, or risk immortal torment as a wraith following her unravelling?

3. The lack of dreams leads to insanity. When a coalition of evil gods take the Dreamweaver hostage, the sanity of the universe begins to unravel. Can a plucky band consisting of a god, two shapeshifters, a porn star and an art appraiser rescue her before everything collapses into pure chaos?

4. Misanthropic genius Tolgania takes gene research a century ahead of his contemporaries. Using advanced neural networks, he designs a new species, a nearly indestructible predator that preys on people. Newly minted PhD microbiologist, Silvia Stennis must reverse engineer Tolgania’s discoveries and create a virus to destroy the predator species before humanity becomes extinct.

5. The fabric of the world is unravelling! Gargoyles are terrorizing cities! Only one woman with extrasensory powers can prevent disaster, but first she must deal with her own emotional problems or she'll be the one unravelling.

6. In Van Buren Arkansas, they roll up the sidewalks at 7 PM. One morning a crushed corpse falls out when the sidewalk is unraveled. Two mornings later another pancake-flat corpse falls out. Could little Van Buren have the world’s first sidewalk-crush serial killer?

7. The world's biggest ball of yarn rolls out of the world's biggest knitting basket to find himself. The world's biggest grandma is sad, but it's time to let him go. The world's biggest cat wants the yarn to himself. Can the yarn roll around the world before the cat unravels him?

8. It started small, a whisper of conflict between the owners of Lucky's Lady Emporium--Madison's elite gentleman's establishment. But, once that thread got pulled, it wasn't only the girls who were bared in ... The Unravelling.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Two young women leave a Paris nightclub after a bit too much to drink. One of them won’t make it home. [Will be be the American expatriate artist whose family was cursed by a Romani witch? Or will it be the enigmatic alchemist's partner, with the severe phobia of being touched?] The survivor will escape with the knowledge that monsters are real - and they look like the stone gargoyles from Notre Dame cathedral come to life. [Has anyone checked to see if the stone gargoyles are still up there?]

Callie Kincaid thought her life couldn’t get any less normal. [That feels like the wrong way to put it. It could be interpreted to mean her life is normal, and she'll never let anything make it less normal. Even if you don't buy that, there's always something that could make it less normal. She could move to Mongolia or sprout wings.] [Also, we've had sentences in present, future and past already.] She suffers from a severe phobia of being touched, and [an addiction to deep-tissue massages.] spiralling into a panic attack at the slightest brush of someone's skin against her own sucks. ["Severe phobia" is enough, no need to specify her precise symptoms.] She’s also penning strange notes in her sleep in someone else's handwriting. [Is "penning" still used? Also, does it bother anyone when I start keyboarding blue notes all over queries?] Now people keep getting killed in her neighbourhood. [They keep getting killed?] The murders are moving ever closer to her home, finally leading to the death of her best friend. Callie winds up partnering partners with enigmatic alchemist Remy Dane, the man who saved her from sharing her friend's fate, to find out why she's a target. Problem is, it's bad chemistry between her and Dane. [Alchemists are notorious for their bad chemistry.] Not only does his touch provoke a very different reaction from her usual panic, [That's bad?] they get along about as well as oil does with water.

The creatures terrorizing Paris seem to think Callie has something they're looking for, but as far as she's concerned she's just a normal girl who happens to be able to sense the emotions of others when she touches them. [The part before the "but" doesn't seem connected to the part after. Perhaps if you were more specific about what the gargoyles think Callie has. For instance: The creatures terrorizing Paris seem to think Callie has super powers that will help them destroy all of humanity, but . . .]  [Does touching someone who's feeling love and joy give her a panic attack?] Under the tutelage of Dane, Callie attempts to harness the extrasensory abilities that have hidden behind her phobia. As the fabric of the world begins to come undone, she needs to discover the root of her fears and the powers behind them before she's the one being taken apart. [Finding the root of her fear of being touched, which she has lived with most of her life, seems like small potatoes when the fabric of the world is coming undone. Shouldn't she and Dane save the world first? Is the world unraveling because of Callie? Is saying the fabric of the world is coming undone an exaggeration? All we know is that some gargoyles are terrorizing Paris. Is this happening everywhere? Are the The Concrete Cows in Milton Keynes, England, and the duck statues in Boston Public Garden coming to life and terrorizing people?]

THE UNRAVELLING is a 91,000 word urban fantasy and the first of a planned three-book series. [Is it a standalone novel with a satisfying ending, and the second book involves the lions at Buckingham Palace tormenting Callie? Or do I have to publish all three books to complete one story?] I'm a freelance journalist whose work has been published in (various newspapers and magazines) and many others. I've also worked as a scriptwriter and researcher for the nationally-televised non-fiction series (several shows).

Thank you for your consideration,


If Callie has what the gargoyles need, why are they terrorizing Paris? If they all surround her, they can easily get what they want from her and then terrorize Paris. 

In paragraph 2 Callie thinks her life couldn’t get any less normal. In paragraph 3, as far as she's concerned she's just a normal girl yadda yadda.

I can't tell if this takes place in modern times or in the days when people were proud to admit they were alchemists.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Face-Lift 1119

Guess the Plot

Kiss the Girls, Then They Die

1. Ralph's curse is really putting a cramp in his love life, until he travels to Hollywood and meets sultry prostitute Vivian Ward. Viv has a policy to never kiss her johns, so Ralph's all good.

2. Lucian's first bride died at the altar. His second bride, on their wedding bed. Does three times make the charm, or will Lucian bury yet another unwitting maiden? Also, an impatient grandma-to-be.

3. The "Lipstick Killer" is on the loose, so called because he kisses his beautiful victims and smears their lipstick before strangling them, but efforts to capture him are hindered because the sheriff hates the police chief.

4. Bill, former Navy SEAL, starts at the police academy. He dates Janet. She’s found strangled. He dates Bridget and she too is murdered. Bill, suspended from the academy, is a person of interest. Can he find the real serial killer before detectives nail him for the murders?

5. Four socialites have turned up dead in the Hollywood hills. The only clue? Ricin-laced chapstick smears on their pale lips. It's up to DJ Shazam to step in and solve this thriller set in the LA club scene.

6. The Frog Prince is human. Unfortunately, his saliva is toxic. Now who will marry him? Princesses vying for the position are summoned for a tournament to decide.

7. Basil Letchworth is an asymptomatic carrier of a previously unknown deadly disease that's spread orally. But he's not going to let that slow him down in his search for Ms. Right.

Original Version

What do you see when looking into the mind of a killer? What drives a man to murder beautiful women? I wrote this novel because "Kiss the girls, then they die" answers these questionsby [2 words.] the unknown killer. [Not clear if you mean the killer answers them or asks them. Or are you saying you answer them through the killer?] "I got another one tonight baby," he said softly to the photograph in the cheap imitation leather frame. "That makes three, listen! [Capitalize "listen."] do [Capitalize "do"] you hear the sirens? Do you hear them screaming?" It seemed to him that the girl in the picture was smiling, [End of sentence.] then his lips trembled a little, [and] he bent his head down and kissed the pretty timted [tinted.] mouth." [We're in trouble, and not just because I'm worried this is autobiographical and that I need to report it to the authorities. Most people to whom you might send this won't want an excerpt from the book, and those who don't mind an excerpt, upon noting that the excerpt you chose is riddled with errors, will give up at this point.]

This novel is about misguided revenge on society, [End of sentence.] it is set in the fictional city of Tillman in Tillman County, Illinois; that [It] pits a small city police cheif [chief] against a killer and the Sheriff who hates the cheif [chief]. The novel is approximately 90,000 words and will fit into any crime drama line.

I have published 7 articles (they are attached) they were published one in The Journal of the United States Stamp Society, twice in The Poster (A local post stamp journal), one in the Journal of the German Philatelic Society and the Journal of the American Philatelic Society and one in the Gulf Coast Community College school newspaper. [These credits aren't helpful unless you write The Postage Stamp Murders, set at a stamp collecting convention.]

Enclosed are the articles, [Unnecessary, even if they were relevant.] a synopsis and 3 chapters. thank you for reading my query and material, and I look foward to your reply.

Dear Evil Editor,

When my book is finally finished have 2 more chapters to type I am thinking of changing the title which do you feel would work:

1) Kiss the girls and then they die
2) The lipstick killer (cause the killer kisses and smears the lipstick)
3) The tillman strangler
4) A kiss before strangling (cause he strangles the kisses)

I want to make a title that will sound good so please let me know if any of the four work, you can even wait till you ripped my query


First, the title, since you asked. Number 1, being a play on Georgie Porgie, should be Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. There've been a couple movies by that name, and of course there's the book/movie about serial killers titled Kiss the Girls. Number 2 is okay, but there was a real serial killer called The Lipstick Killer, so people might think the book is nonfiction. Maybe The Lipstick Murders is catchier, anyway. Number 3: Most serial stranglers are named after the site of their crimes, though using a real city instead of Tillman might be better. Number 4 will remind people of the book/movie A Kiss Before Dying. (Not that filmmakers and publishers don't play off of popular titles all the time.) I'd go with The Lipstick Murders. In any case, the title should be the least of your worries. Only when the book is in bookstores will the title matter, and if the publisher thinks your title sucks, they'll give it a better one.

The query and excerpt have many run-on sentences and misspelled or misused words. While the editor of Stamp Collector Quarterly may be willing to fix a short article, no editor wants to doctor a complete novel filled with errors. They will assume (correctly) that the novel is as filled with errors as the query.

You need to educate yourself on conventions of grammar, punctuation, etc. Then get your book as perfect as you can. Then read a lot of the query critiques on this blog. Then write a query letter that summarizes the story in one page and convinces the reader that your book will sell better than the hundreds of other books that were offered to her this month.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Synopsis 36

Sir Byron Wedderburn is an eighteenth century ladykiller who lives for the indecent pursuit of pleasure. He encounters Lenore, his true love, on the night of a summer solstice orgy. [As with the query, not clear if she was already his true love or this is true love at first sight.] She agrees to a rendezvous at midnight and joins the other guests. [When you meet your "true love" at an orgy and she ditches you to "mingle" with other guests, the handwriting is pretty much on the wall.] He regrets letting her go, searches uselessly [Futilely? Unsuccessfully? In vain?] for her, and is lured outside by a mysterious man, Vlad, who bites him and renders him immortal. [I was gonna say anyone who goes off alone with someone named Vlad is too stupid to live, but as he becomes immortal . . . ] Lenore finds Byron passed out and takes him to bed. She tells him they are both bloodthirsty immortal creatures, ["Both" meaning Lenore and Byron or Lenore and Vlad or Vlad and Byron?] but leaves him to hide from her violent master, also Vlad.

Byron lays [lies] in bed for weeks and misses Lenore. In his despondent state he shouts into the night and unknowingly summons two rogue fiends who are jealous of his power. [Has he demonstrated any power?] They seize [take] him to London, force him to drink toxic blood, and throw him into street slush at dawn. [That's the best they can do to their enemy? Toss him into street slush? Was London the closest place they could find street slush, or does London have the best street slush?] He dissolves for decades. [Say what? Is it the slush or the sunlight that makes him dissolve? If a sugar cube took decades to dissolve in a cup of coffee, you wouldn't even notice it was dissolving. And the coffee would evaporate before the sugar dissolved.]

Naked and alone Byron awakens in an alley in Los Angeles in the year 2012. [Is he still dissolving? How much of him has dissolved? Maybe just his clothes dissolved.] He is rescued by Gustave, [He's in an alley, alone. What does he need rescuing from?] another of his kind, [His kind? Why are we painstakingly avoiding the word "vampire?"] who helps him adapt to a power[-]driven twenty-first century lifestyle. [It's a last-chance power drive.] Byron longs for Lenore, and she visits him in a dream to warn of Gustave’s malicious intent. Byron considers him his dearest friend, and her warning makes no sense.

Lenore finally appears to Byron. She confesses that while he slept she and Gustave were lovers. She also warns of a spell Gustave holds that would allow him to trap the heightened senses of other immortals, or the doppelganger. [Say what?] This would give Gustave limitless power. He only needs a male and female of his rank, and they are perfect candidates. [He was Lenore's lover and Byron's best friend. Why hasn't he trapped their heightened senses already?] [What will Gustave do if he traps their heightened senses? This is key.]

Byron is not sure if Lenore still loves Gustave but can not make her reveal the truth. [Sorry Byron, but if the truth is No, she'd happily say so.] She disappears again. Gustave and Byron go to Palos Verdes to camp, but before they reach the cliffs rogue fiends chase them in a storm of bullets. [Rogue fiends again? What is a rogue fiend? Are these the same rogue fiends that threw Byron into street slush? What's their diabolical plan this time, to throw him into pond scum?] [Are there any fiends who haven't gone rogue?] Gustave kills his nemesis. Byron's worst enemy taunts him but Byron is not yet strong enough to kill him. [Who is Byron's worst enemy? Gustave? If so, why is he revealing his true colors to Byron now?] He vanishes.

Lenore has followed them. This confuses Byron. [Lenore disappeared and Byron vanished in the previous paragraph. Where are they now?] He is not sure if she and Gustave still love each other. Despite this she has planned a new adventure and Byron is happy to be with her again.


What happened to Vlad?

Why are the rogue fiends jealous of Byron's power? They have no trouble transporting him to London and tossing him in street slush. Seems like they're more powerful than he is.

Lenore calls the characters "bloodthirsty creatures." I would expect her to use milder terms, especially if she's including herself.

The last two paragraphs are all over the place. More like an outline of the last few chapters than the wrap-up of a story.

Why do Lenore and Byron meet at an orgy? Seems like a party would be just as good, and would inspire fewer questions about how these two can be in love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Face-Lift 1118

Guess the Plot

Sovereign of Night

1. For 200 years vampire Basil quietly lived in his secluded Colorado castle. When he rescues some college girls from a bear, he is instantly attracted to one of them and screw it, I'm as sick of crappy vampire novels as everyone else. Why can't he just bite a bitch and be done with it?

2. He rules . . . in the night. He's probably a vampire. And vampire books sell really, really well, so . . . he's a vampire. Yeah. That's it. A book about a vampire. Oooooo!

3. Byron Wedderburn, 18th century playboy, is bitten, rendered immortal and forced to drink toxic blood. He sleeps 250 years and awakens in Los Angeles, where he continues his hedonistic lifestyle until he runs into his old girlfriend Lenore, who's still alive because she's actually a goddess.

4. Oliver's position as supreme sovereign over the Vampire High Council is jeopardized when his rival learns Oliver's darkest secret: his human lover. Now Oliver must fight the legions to save his unborn child.
5. Virgin co-ed Mickie Night, overwhelmed with grief following her mother's death, takes a semester off to explore London. Two days in, she encounters hunky Jack Sovereign who seems bent on exploring Mickie. It's 50 Shades with a cockney twist.

6. After millenia of scheming, Lucifer is back. A horde of demons is clawing through the pearly gates and God is poised to let the tide turn unless the next soul up for Judgment is found pure. As if poor Shelly didn't have enough pressure.

7. Agnes looks out her apartment window. Somebody threw a rock and shattered the streetlamp again. Now she must use her lamp and her own money to read the romance novel she fetched from her neighbor’s trash. So she sits in the dark and imagines her heirs fighting over her money after she’s gone. 


Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

Sir Byron Wedderburn is an eighteenth century playboy proud to call himself a steadfast hedonist. He encounters his true love Lenore on the night of a summer solstice orgy and feels complete. [In my experience, when you meet your true love at an orgy you feel complete only until she moves on to the guy over by the Adonis statue.] But his world of endless parties with illustrious guests disintegrates after he is bitten and rendered immortal by a mysterious beast of a man. [Actually, the only way to fully enjoy parties that never end is if you are immortal; why should immortality cause his world to disintegrate?] [Is Byron a vampire? A werewolf? A mysterious beast of a man? Is immortality the only consequence of being bitten?]

After Lenore, an eternal goddess, leaves Byron to hide from her abusive master, [You'd think an eternal goddess could come up with a better strategy for dealing with an abuser than hiding. Can't she turn him into a goat? What makes him her master?] rogue fiends seize a heartbroken Byron and force him to drink toxic blood. [That sounds like something your classic orthodox fiend would do. A fiend who's gone rogue would probably be a sweetie.] A deep slumber ensues for two hundred fifty years. He awakens naked and alone in Los Angeles in the year 2012.

He is rescued by Gustave, [Rescued from what? Is he naked, alone, and imprisoned?] another elegant immortal, [Is there anyone in this book who isn't immortal?] who warmly introduces him to a modern jet-set lifestyle as they pursue and kill members of a ruthless coven [of immortals]. Byron reunites with Lenore and is not sure if her past affair with Gustave will ruin their bond. He forgives her but does not trust her. [You had an affair after I'd been unconscious for only 245 years?! I can never again trust you.]

Gustave holds a rare spell that can grant him limitless power, [What will he do if he gets limitless power?] but only if he entraps two of his kind indefinitely, and Lenore and Byron are perfect candidates. Byron must choose between his true love and best friend, or survive alone in the twenty-first century, a thought that terrifies him. [Tough decision. Your true love or the guy who wants to entrap you indefinitely.]

SOVEREIGN OF NIGHT is an 80,000 word count novel that explores the world of unapologetic demoniacs, and uncovers the cravings of voluptuaries of the new millennium. [Unless you're writing to someone who has specifically stated she's looking for a novel that explores the world of unapologetic demoniacs and uncovers the cravings of voluptuaries of the new millennium, I recommend leaving this out.] The poetry of Lord Byron [, Edgar Allan Poe,] and Coleridge, as well as elements of Gothic literature from Ann Radcliffe to Anne Rice greatly inspired me. 

I am an immedicable romantic [Burn your thesaurus.] and avid reader of Gothic and Romantic literature as well as modern fiction. I have written professionally for a now extinct society column in Nashville, TN. I reside with my fiance in Las Vegas, NV. [What's with the smoking in casinos? It's the 21st century.] [This paragraph isn't needed.]

Thank you for your time and consideration. Synopsis below.

Yours very truly,


Hard to believe you could be asleep and naked for 250 years without anyone stumbling upon you. Do these rogue fiends maintain his sleeping body for 250 years, inexplicably transporting it to Los Angeles at some point? Or do they ditch his sleeping body, at which point Lenore takes on the task of caring for him in his comatose state? And if she is in LA keeping tabs on him as he sleeps, why does Gustave have to rescue him? Why didn't she rescue him?

Was Lenore forced to be at the orgy by her abusive master? Because normally abusers don't give their victims permission to go to sex parties. 

Not clear whether Byron and Lenore have a lengthy relationship after the orgy, or if she leaves him during the orgy to get away from her master. If the former, is the  abusive master just letting Lenore have a romantic relationship with Byron? If the latter, did Byron really expect a woman he met once at an orgy and never saw again to be faithful to him during the 250 years he was sleeping it off?

If Gustave needs to entrap two immortals, why doesn't he just entrap Byron from the beginning instead of rescuing him and introducing him to a jet-set lifestyle?

Not sure what is meant by Gustave getting limitless power if he entraps B & L indefinitely. If he entraps them for a week, does he have limitless power for a week? Because if I had limitless power for a week, I think I could set things up so I wouldn't need much power going forward.

We need to focus on Byron/Lenore. There are too many villains: abusive master, mysterious beast of a man, rogue fiends, ruthless coven, Gustave. Save three or four of them for the synopsis or the book. The setup: Lenore, a goddess, and Byron, a whatever, find true love, but when Byron drinks toxic blood, he falls into a 250-year sleep, waking in 2012 Los Angeles.

The plot: I'm not sure. Lenore and Byron are reunited, but must work together to prevent Gustave from . . . what? It's too vague to say they need to prevent him from getting limitless power. What's at stake?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 9th Evil Editor Book?

So, I purchased a package of 10 ISBNs when I started Evil Editor Publications. I've used 8 of them (Evil Editor Strips needed separate ones for the hardcover and softcover versions). In order to get my money's worth, I need to publish 2 more books. Possibilities:

                                      art: Bill Highsmith
1. The hardcover leather- bound edition of Novel Devia- tions, consisting of the 50 or so best ones from each of volumes 1, 2, and 3, plus the 50 best that appeared after those books were published. Actually, the only reason those books were called Novel Deviations was because another book had just come out titled Novel Twists, so I might go with that title now that years have passed. Of course, I can't find Novel Twists on Amazon, so maybe that book totally bombed because of the lame title. Maybe I should call it Oliver Twists, in hopes it will be purchased accidentally.

2. The History of the World in Tweets. Compiling the best of the recently tweeted historical tweets, plus adding some more. Not really the history of the world, as most of what happened before the 14th century wasn't kept track of because no one knew how to write and every country had its own calendar and nothing of much interest happened most years anyway. Possibly illustrated with cartoons starring EE through history.

3. Mrs. Varmighan Tweets. The tweets of Mrs. V, each accompanied by its own cartoon.

4. 101 Query Letters. The best Face-Lifts from the blog.

5. Photo album of highlights of the first Evil Editor Writers Retreat, yet to be scheduled.

6. A novel by one of my minions whose query appeared on the blog.

7. My autobiographical novel, titled Evil Editor's Romance Novel.

8. Whirlochre! A compilation of my favorite posts from Whirlochre's blog.

9. Novel Ideas. 1001 brilliant ideas for novels, compiled from the approximately 6000 fake plots that have appeared on the blog. Illustrated.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Face-Lift 1117

Guess the Plot

Clockwork Hearts

1. Tick, tick, tick--Shondra's biological clock has launched into overdrive. Can she find a man before her last oocyte ejects? Also, a nagging mother.

2. After Alexis, a bored hipster living in the near dystopian future, is arrested at a student debt protest, the feds use her as a guinea pig for the controversial Ludditico Technique, which trains her to fear gizmos and gadgets of any kind. But can she survive without her iPhone?

3. When Sun Moon, owner of Koreatown dating service "Clockwork Hearts" is found hanging in her bathroom, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, she didn't shoot herself in the head before hanging in the shower, and two, there's that new Korean place that just opened, so maybe he should take the family out for a change.

4. An automaton runs away with a velocipede in 1889 Paris. When her crush develops an infatuation for la belle tour Eiffel, the angry two-wheeler sets out to loosen every screw in the momument. Will 18,038 iron parts crash down onto the crowds at the Exposition?

5. Famed for creating clockwork creatures to serve the wealthy, Victor wants a new challenge. He finds it when the Newmans ask him to fix their dying daughter Lenore. But can his talent with mechanics save a life? And if not, can he create a clockwork Lenore realistic enough to fool the Newmans?

6. The main problem with the new artificial heart, the Tiktok2, is that it has to be rewound every 24 hours-- and the key is in the patient's back. After a 7.9 earthquake hits Clockwork City, Tiktok2 recipient Jason Walker finds himself trapped in rubble... with his worst enemy.

7. A madman is digging up graves and attempting to build part human, part cyborg creatures out of human corpses. But when two of his creations fall in love, he must decide whether or not to silence their clockwork hearts.

8. Graham's timing is catastrophic. Late to his wedding, his fiance leaves him at the altar. Alone on his honeymoon, he rescues Julia, his soulmate, on a scuba diving excursion. Unfortunately, Julia is about to tie the knot. Can Graham win her heart in time?

Original Version

Dear EvilEditor

Victor Roussel is a man driven by curiosity.

His experiments in Paris satisfied some of his burning questions on the limits of human mortality, [Are you saying his experiments showed how long a human can live? Because I don't see how you can get good data on that. If all your test subjects die before they're 80, that doesn't prove 80 is the limit of human mortality. Plus, what if you die before they do? You spend 30 years monitoring a bunch of old people, and 12 of them are still alive when you get run over by a truck. And the whole experiment is down the drain.] but four years later in London, the hunger for new knowledge has again begun to rear its head. Although he is rapidly becoming known for creating Clockwork Charlies—almost sentient creatures made of clockwork who serve London’s rich and fashionable [women]—Victor is bored with the predictability of it all, and longs for something new and daring with which to satisfy his curiosity. So [he comes up with Clockwork Charlotte, satisfying both his curiosity and that of the heretofore untapped male market.] when the Newmans approach him and ask if he can somehow fix their dying daughter Lenore, he eagerly accepts the challenge.

Although he is initially enthusiastic, the family dynamics within the Newman household [Newman!] begin to trouble his never-very-active moral compass, and force him to question whether or not the experiment should go ahead. [Vague. What's bugging him?]

In the midst of all this, Victor is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Mercy, and their growing romance begins to conflict with his commitment to Lenore. [Commitment? A sentence ago he was ready to let her die just because he was bothered by the Newman family dynamics.] Mercy’s moral strength could give Victor the courage he needs to make the right choice, but where does his heart truly lie—with love or science? [What's the choice? Save the girl or get it on with Mercy? The mention of Mercy's moral strength suggests that she isn't annoyed that Victor is helping Lenore when he could be taking Mercy to the opera every night.]

CLOCKWORK HEARTS is historical science fiction [Steampunk romance?], complete at 60,000 words. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The first long paragraph stresses Victor's hunger for new knowledge, his longing for something new and daring with which to satisfy his curiosity, his eagerness to accept a new challenge. If you expect us to believe he's going to abandon the project, you need to provide a better reason than the troubling family dynamics of the Newman household.

Why is it a choice anyway? Can't a scientist have romance in his life? I wouldn't bother mentioning a choice unless there's one that's a true dilemma.

This is all setup. You can set up the situation in one paragraph: Although he is renowned for creating Clockwork Charlies—almost sentient creatures made of clockwork who serve London’s rich and fashionable—Victor Roussel longs for something new and daring with which to satisfy his curiosity. So when the Newmans ask if he can somehow fix their dying daughter Lenore, he eagerly accepts the challenge.

That leaves lots of room to tell us what he's doing for Lenore, what specifically gums up the works, what role Mercy plays in driving the plot forward. We want to know what happens.

That opening one-sentence paragraph is a waste of space.

Is the name "Victor" supposed to clue the reader in to the similarities to Victor Frankenstein? We would get that, even if he were named Bob. Whether readers will be annoyed that you feel they need to have this driven home to them is a question for the minions.  

Frankenstein and "Lenore." It's obvious you just finished studying early 19th-century literature.

Not clear what is meant by "almost sentient creatures." To me, they're either sentient or they aren't. There was a courtroom proceeding to decide whether Commander Data was sentient, but even there, it came down to a choice between He is or He isn't. There was no middle ground of He is . . . almost.]