Thursday, June 27, 2013

Face-Lift 1136

Guess the Plot


1. Herc is back. And this time it's personal. Also, sirens.

2. Ashton Kuchar knew he had hit the jackpot when he married a god. Sure, she was used up and literally ravaged by Bruce Willis, but Ashton didn't care. Eventually, he'll get Moore than he bargained for.

3. When your father's a god and your mother's a statue, mockery from the other kids comes with the territory. But should you also have to endure man-eating predators, vengeful spirits and vicious spirit slaves. Should you?

4. Oh sure, the nearly unlimited power, endless chicks, devoted worshipers and palatial retreat come with the job. But why, wonders R'Cepier, does he have to have all these yokels on the Internet trying to disprove his existence?

5. Somewhere in Nebraska the new order is rising. Gilgamesh has been reincarnated as a girl. And she's ready to kick ass.

6. Rosamund knows the big head floating over her city telling everyone what to do is a hologram. The mayor's son Zand has been hiding his father's death, and having too much fun. Zand has asked Rosamund to marry him. She is sharpening her sword, and choosing her wedding dress.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When the half-human son of an ancient god is born from a headless statue, Cora, a young midwife and Candlemaid of the Temple of Elassa, must give up her simple village life to protect the newborn from the forces that seek to exploit his power.

Cora loved each child she helped bring into the world as if they were her own. [You can avoid using a plural pronoun for a singular noun by changing "each child" to "the children."] But fate had taken away the man she loved, along with her dream of motherhood. [No need to start that sentence with "But."] After the arrival of Rendryck, a mysterious sorcerer, a child is born bearing the markings of a Demigod. Upon learning the man’s sinister plans for the newborn, Cora has no choice but to leave her beloved village to save the child’s life.

Cora must face the dangers of the Feral Wood in order to reach the Sanctuary of Weal, [Isn't this the plot of The Legend of Zelda?] a safe haven south of the forest, all the while being pursued by Rendryck and his vicious spirit slave. She soon learns the Demigod is the son of a long dead malevolent god [If he's long-dead, how did he knock up the headless statue?], but believes she can raise him to use his power responsibly through the teachings of her goddess, Elassa the Benevolent. Throughout her tortuous journey, Cora [the Naive] is tormented by vengeful forest spirits, nightmarish man-eating [demigod-eating] predators and the many gods whose interests have been sparked by the child’s ancestry. But when the follower of an “evil” god saves Cora’s life, she comes to question her faith and the true motives of her own “benevolent” goddess. [Usually when someone saves your life you don't switch to that person's religion. Why is Cora really questioning her faith?] [Also, no need to start that sentence with "But."]

Demigod, a fantasy adventure in the vein of George R. R. Martin [Full name please: George Railroad Martin] and Tad Williams, is the first in a projected series and is complete at approximately 90,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




Paragraph 1: must give up her simple village life to protect the newborn

Paragraph 2:  has no choice but to leave her beloved village to save the child’s life.

If the entire book consists of the journey to the Sanctuary, then we mainly need to clean up the organization. You want each sentence to follow logically from the previous sentence as you tell us a story.

Now, if the journey is just the setup for the main plot/conflict, we can shorten this to one paragraph, something like:

When a child is born bearing the markings of a demigod, Cora, a young midwife, pledges to protect him from Rendryck, the mysterious sorcerer who seeks to exploit the newborn's power. Cora must get the child through the Feral Wood, with its vengeful spirits and nightmarish predators, to the Sanctuary of Weal, with Rendryck and his vicious spirit slave in hot pursuit.

. . . which leaves plenty of room to tell us what happens at the Sanctuary and what Elassa the Benevolent did to suddenly become Elassa the "benevolent."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Face-Lift 1135

Guess the Plot

A Flutter in Time

1. When Angie discovers time travel and thus the ability to change history, one question remains: Should she murder Hitler as a baby or save her mother from the car wreck that killed her? Then she decides: She only has one mom, but there'll always be another megalomaniac ready to step in and kill 20 million people.

2. Boyd is convinced that miniature horses at the college Ag complex are involved in a complex plot to turn people into small equines so they can control time and take over the world. Can he prove they aren't simply innocent horses--or will the tiny stallion Flutter finish him off first?

3. Suzanne is thirty-nine, childless, and afraid to be on her own, but her boyfriend's fart jokes are getting stale. The last straw is when he fake farts in her face as she's trying to sleep. Will she accept his dozen roses, or move on?

4. Meteorologist Abe Jenson has traced the origins of Hurricane Katrina and the Japanese tsunami back to one butterfly that flapped its wings in Jamaica in 1873. Now he and physicist Edison Jones plan to time travel to 1873 and stop that butterfly. But will stopping the butterfly mean the end of humanity?

5. Tiffani is working through the night in the high energy lab. Suddenly everything goes haywire. When she wakes, it’s on a strange world where porcupines rule and humans are dumb beasts of burden. Will the porcupines respect her in the morning? For Tiffani, it’s a sticky situation.

6. Professor Landsberg's time travel experiment was supposed to send a dozen mice to prehistoric times and bring them back safely. But what came back was a flock of pterodactyls, and it's going to be a bad day on the Oxford campus.

Original Version

On a cloudy, rainy day seventeen years ago Angie Ramirez’s life changed forever in a hail of twisted metal and broken glass. For seventeen years she has placed her life into two categories, the before and after. The day she lost her mother and very nearly her own life is the dividing line. [It's not like she was the only one who lost a loved one the day it hailed twisted metal and broken glass. It was the worst day in meteorology since the mysterious rain of frogs in Weil der Stadt in 1620.] When Angie meets Mike her guardian angel, with brilliant Caribbean blue eyes, sun kissed golden skin and a witty sense of humor, [she's so busy swooning] she has no idea her life is about to change again.

When Angie discovers the ability to travel back in time through a series of photographs, she is forced to come to terms with the acceptance that what is happening is real and her sanity remains intact. When she realizes she has the power to change history only one question remains; what will she change? [That's three consecutive sentences all starting with the word "when."] [That gives me an idea for a writing exercise: Comment on this query letter giving every sentence of your comment the structure When x, y.] [That was also way too wordy. Try: When Angie discovers she can travel back in time, she realizes she has the power to change history. One question remains: what will she change?] The answer is obvious of course, [she must kill the producer who green-lighted the Twilight movies.] the death of her mother. [That's obvious?] Armed with the knowledge that she will risk her own life as well as her very existence she embarks on a life altering journey with her angel as her guardian and guide they travel together through time unraveling the pieces of the puzzle that were her mother’s life. [That sentence was two sentences. The first could end after "guide," but I suspect you wanted it to end after "journey," so you'll need to change "they travel together" to "she travels."] [Also, you put together the pieces of a puzzle. You unravel the sweater you've been knitting when you realize you skipped a yarn-over three hours ago.]

My book titled A FLUTTER IN TIME is a [73,000-word] work of [paranormal] women’s fiction with a dash of paranormal taking place [set] in Tucson, AZ at just over 73,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


I don't see why we need Mike. Does he do anything? Why does Angie need guarding? 

What are these photographs that show Angie how to time travel? Are they photos of her mother? Can she travel only to times in the photos? Can she time-travel unlimited times and change history each time?

Too much space is used to set up the situation. When Angie Ramirez discovers she can time-travel to the places in her family photo album, she decides to use this ability to prevent the car crash that killed her mother.

What happens in the past? Why is she unraveling stuff instead of preventing the wreck? Is Mike showing her the devastation her mother will cause if she lives? Does she meet her mother in the past? Give us some specific information.

Most importantly, you have to clean up the writing, or the reader will think the whole book is vague and wordy and full of run-on sentences. Is it?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Beginning 1006

"Just shoot it, Mr. Pidwig," Hyde said with greater urgency than the three or four times he'd said it before.

Still, the trembling client seemed no closer to pulling the trigger than when he had dropped his heavy body to a knee and taken aim at the tyrannosaur Unvolution Incorporated's genetic technicians had re-created for him.

It wasn't the first time Hyde had seen wealthy clients freeze when they came to realize, too late, that one thing their money could not buy was the courage to face a terror brought back from the prehistoric past that measured them by nothing more than the richness of their flesh.

Hyde flashed an anxious glance towards the nearby hilltop where his teammate Brash was set up to record Mr. Pidwig's "great kill."  The location also put Brash in perfect position to provide backup firepower that, considering the power of the projectile in Pidwig's weapon, should not be needed.

A shriek of agony from the baby sauropod they had staked out to attract the tyrannosaur drew Hyde's attention back to the bait area, and an irrepressible well of sympathy rose in his throat as he watched the great carnivore tear flesh from the helpless creature's tender back.

Within moments the tyrannosaur had tired of divesting the sauropod of its flesh, and had settled to it's side in the dust.

Hyde snorted with disgust as Pidwig, emboldened by the beast's lack of aggression, stood and emptied his weapon. Unfortunately, from this less stable firing position, the recoil sent the missile spiraling over the target.

Not that it didn't hit something. Brash had no time to make his peace with the Maker he was undoubtedly greeting.

Pidwig, the insufferable twit, gazed up at Hyde through hazy eyes, chuffing on about "most unfortunate," and "couldn't be avoided."

"Aye, verily," Hyde offered before lifting his sidearm and creating his own sound of thunder.

Opening: James Catlett.....Continuation: Veronica Rundell

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guess the Title

Guess the Title

Below are descriptions of numerous well-known films and works of literature. The descriptions were provided by EE's minions (mostly blogless_troll), who have a bad habit of being general when they should be specific, and of failing to see the forest for the trees. Each answer appears right after the description, but it's the same color as the background, so to see it you'll have to select it with your mouse/cursor.

1. Fantastical events, epic battles and sex, sex, sex in a 28-book series. (EE) The Old Testament

2. Betraying her nation, a woman falls in love with the enemy; becoming homeless, she vows a life of gluttony. (WitchEmber) Gone with the Wind

3. Not content to possess the stolen goods, a courier and his bodyguards decide they must kill the victim of the theft as well. (Khazar-khum) Lord of the Rings

4. Though mutilated bodies have been turning up at the edge of a small town, the police chief leaves to go fishing . . . only to come face to face with the killer. (Dave Kuzminski) Jaws

5. A young boy leaves home for the first time, joins a gang of criminals, and destroys government property. (blogless_troll) Star Wars

6. After an attempt on her life, an heiress shacks up with a group of male laborers. (blogless_troll) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

7. When a weapon more powerful than a nuclear bomb falls into the wrong hands, the only person who can save the world is a professor with ophidiophobia. (blogless_troll) Raiders of the Lost Ark

8. Hired to arrange a real estate deal, a man discovers that his client has an abnormal drinking problem. (EE) Dracula

9. Siblings on a simple errand encounter treacherous terrain, resulting in a medical emergency. (blogless_troll) "Jack and Jill"

10. Girl abuses boy, loves boy, mourns boy, abandons boy, hates boy, wounds boy, endangers boy, saves boy, cuckolds boy, marries boy. (WitchEmber) The Princess Bride

11. A criminal adopts socialist principles in order to impress a woman. (blogless_troll) Robin Hood

12. A criminal talks his way out of captivity through the use of a coffee cup, a bulletin board, and his remarkable powers of observation. (EE) The Usual Suspects

13. The fate of an abused woman depends solely upon designer shoes. (blogless_troll) Cinderella

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guess the Title

Below are ten actual book descriptions taken from One of the given titles belongs with the book; the other five are fakes. Answers at the bottom of the post.

1. A lively, hilarious, not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical traditions, schools, concepts, and thinkers. It's Philosophy 101 for everyone who knows not to take all this heavy stuff too seriously.

a. I Think, Therefore I Paaartayyyy!

b. Sex and the Single Thinker

c. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .

d. Camus or Kant You: Putting Descartes Before the Horkheimer

e. Who'da Thunk It?

f. You've Got Guts Between Your Teeth: An Insider's View of the Dog-Eat-Dog World of Philosophy Through The Ages

2. History--long ennobled as the privileged domain of lofty scholars and erudite minds--really just boils down to four things if you think about it. Who killed who, who conquered who, who screwed who, and in what order.

a. The Low-Brow Guide to World History

b. History and Herstory

c. Death and Sex: The Modern Puritan's Guide to History

d. How to Conquer, Screw, and Kill, Using History as Justification

e. They Kill Liars, Don't They? -- Historical Facts that Never Happened

f. Who Did What to Whom and When: A Cheat Sheet for the Historically Illiterate

3. Classic nursery rhymes with a thoroughly modern and charmingly ironic spin that will make the most sleepless fashionista mom smile, even when she's knee-deep in diapers.

a. Mother Goosed

b. This Little Piggy Went to Prada

c. Blah Blah Blahnik Have you any Rhyme?

d. Mother Goose Hangs Loose

e. Politically Correct Nursery Rhymes: Why Should Men Have All the Fun?

f. Refashioned Fairy Tales

4. Even if you've never attended a wedding in the South, you'll find laughter in the pages of this deliciously entertaining slice of Southern life and love, complete with recipes, advice, and a huge dose of that famous charm

a. Sophistication in the Sticks: Staging a Genteel Hillbilly Wedding

b. Too Many Pork Chops: Love, Weddings and Nineteen Cousins Who Can't Fit The Bridesmaid's Dress

c. Somebody is Going to Die If Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch that Bouquet

d. Take a Bite Outta Mah… Key Lahm Pah

e. "I'm Sure She's Very Nice": How to Survive the Southern Wedding

f. The Sacred and the Profane: Southern Weddings, from Tara Tripping to Trailer Trash

5. Everything you need to know about today's fastest growing carbohydrate-based religion.

a. The Bread Sea Scrolls Interpreted

b. Just Paste That Bacon To Your Thigh: Why Fad Diets Don't Work

c. Good Carbs/Evil Carbs: What You Must know to Get to Thin Heaven

d. Celebrating the Church of the Eternal Sourdough

e. Rice Guys Finish First

f. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

6. Finally, a book that guarantees your balls will be stomped, that will make even the burliest of men (and in some cases, the burliest of women) feel inadequate.

a. Evil Editor: Nekkid

b. "I'd Love You If You Lost Twenty Pounds" (And other failed pick up lines)

c. Bull Hockey: Games for REAL Men (and we don't mean you girlie NFL players)

d. My Life among the Invertebrates and other Spineless Creatures

e. Ballbusters!

f. The Alphabet of Manliness

7. Never in the history of humankind have so many people uttered so many statements they know to be untrue. From presidents to priests, from corporate executives to lowly wage slaves, people have taken to saying not what they actually believe, but what they believe others want to hear.

a. Advertising: An Introduction

b. Your Call is Important To Us

c. Excuses to God for My Politics

d. The Slippery Slope of our Slimey Slogans

e. "I Love that Outfit!"-- BullShitting Your Way Through Life

f. Lyin’ Dogs and Laxity: When Tall Tales Take Over

8. A hilarious, good-natured spoof on more than fifty self-help books, this book will leave you feeling better about who you are and laughing your way to becoming the person God created you to be.

a. Teatime with God and the 7 Habits of Omniscience

b. As Seen On TV, Or Ten Minutes To a Perfect You

c. Don't Buy this Book . . . Unless You Want to be Over-paid, Over-sexed, Under-worked, and Halfway to Heaven

d. Maybe Life's Just Not That Into You

e. How to Kill Everyone Who Annoys You Without Wiping Out The People You Might Need Later

f. Self-Help for the Self-Help-Impaired

9. The poseur's bible, but with less religious overtones than the real bible-and more pointers on conspicuously carrying an NPR tote bag.

a. Everything I Know I Learned from Baby Jesus in the Manger

b. The Good Bits Bible (Unitarian Universalist Edition)

c. God Wants You to Vote for Me: the Politician's Guide to Acting Devout

d. Faking it: How to Seem Like a Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself

e. The New Book of Judges (Without All That Judgmental Crap)

f. Pious Eye for the Agnostic Guy

10. A cranked-up collection of affirmations for mommies on the edge, self-styled divas, and domestic goddesses everywhere.

a. Why Mommy Takes Prozac

b. How to Survive Every Ailment Your Kid Can Have, Bake a Mean Souffle, Be the Most Popular Mom on Earth, and Bring Home the Bacon with a Home-Based Business

c. Feminazis, The Maytag Repairman & Other Myths of Mommyhood

d. Gynosaurs: The Lifetime Network As Scripture

e. You Say I'm a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing

f. Take Your F**king Shoes Off When You Come In Here

Answers Below

Fake titles were submitted by Dave, Robin S., writtenwyrdd, Bill Highsmith, Scott, freddie, Ouch!, Khazar-khum, Evil Editor, and Anonymous

1: c; 2: a; 3: b; 4: c; 5: f; 6: f; 7:b; 8: d; 9: d 10: e

Monday, June 17, 2013

Guess the Title

As there are no queries or openings and only one opening waiting in the queues (hint, hint), and as I have a novel to edit for a Brenda Novak Auction winner, this is the perfect week to revisit some old Guess the Title quizzes that appeared here before most of you had ever heard of Evil Editor.

Below are five book descriptions taken from Your job is to guess which title goes with each description. Think of it as reverse Guess the Plot. Answers are below the quiz.

A. Robert wants to be a star in the movies. He has invented a system with his computer that could put the old stars back on the screen, alongside him. He has the script and the money, but Hollywood isn't keen. Could the perfect partnership lie with Ernest Fudgepacker of Fudgepacker's Emporium?

1. The Importance of Being a Purple Rose in Egypt

2. Nostradamus Ate My Hamster

3. Lauren Bacall Hates My Guts

4. Talkies, Zombies and Wannabes

5. The Anal Retentive Tourist

6. CPU Oughtta Be In Pixels

B. A passel of brainy, witty sf and dark fantasy writers amuse themselves by sitting around talking about odd diseases.

1. Fifteen Diseases that Could End Civilization as We Know It

2. Blue Rubber Bleb Nevus Syndrome Gave Me Bowel Nipples

3. Scab-Picking Time on Taurus IV

4. Diagnosis: Geeky

5. Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Catalysis in the Realms of the Vampyre

6. The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases

C. A survival guide for parents who find themselves marooned among volatile and incomprehensible aliens on Planet Teen.

1. Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?

2. Moms are from Mars, Dads are from Venus, Kids are a Pain in Uranus

3. Don't Have Sex, Make Sure He Uses a Condom, and Other Things to Tell Your Teen

4. Surviving the Alien Freak Who Took Over Your Kid's Room

5. There's Julie, Pretend We're Not Together, Mom

6. Teenagers Were Never Like This When I Was One

D. A lab pigeon who believes that he and his cohorts are human, narrates this rollicking tale about experimental subjects who are kept sated with tobacco and sherry.

1. Squabbles

2. The Pulp Pigeon Papers

3. Birdman of the Alcatraz Testing Labs

4. Succulent Squab on the Lam

5. Frisco Pigeon Mambo

6. Murder Most Fowl

E. Feminism, family values, these modern times, shopping, and the battle of the sexes are covered in this no-holds-barred assault on complacency.

1. If You Wanted Any Action You Should Have Noticed My Haircut

2. Get Off Your Ass, Mo-Fo: How to Cope with the Straight Dope in 12 Easy Lessons

3. Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I'm Kissing You Goodbye

4. Father Knows NOTHING

5. Lesbian Bitches from Valhalla and the Battle for the Mall of America!

6. The Adventures of Abigail Schnit and the Cocaine Tampon

Answers Below

The following people contributed fake titles: Dave, Ouch, Bill Highsmith, Khazar-khum, blogless_troll, Scott, ME, Robin S., December/Stacia, Evil Editor, and Anonymous.

The actual book titles that match the plots are:

A: 2; B: 6; C: 1; D: 5; E: 3

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Face-Lift 1134

Guess the Plot

The Unlove Spell

1. Liz could get a chance with Travis if he just fell out of love with Miss Perfect Maddison. So she sells her soul for the unlove spell which backfires and makes her completely unlovable, even to her parents. Unloved by all and without a soul, she then sets off on her future career in law.

2. Shazina has discovered the recipe for destroying true love, but will she use it to turn Janelle's head her way? Also, a hot boy sidekick.

3. Searching for some missing fellow witches, Marling comes face-to-face with Viktor, the only man in the world she can love (because the unlove spell she cast on herself prevents her from loving all others). But just because she can love him doesn't mean she does. Does she?

4. Helen loves Denny who loves Hermoine, who loves Lenny, who shares Hermoine's love but Hermoine's parents want their daughter to marry Denny. Fairies get involved, where it all goes haywire, and they all end up with the wrong person.

5. Prince Rudolph is set to marry the homely, nasty-tempered Princess Quincella. Court sorceress Alli Acahaman brews him a love potion to make the marriage work. Unfortunately, when he drinks it on the wedding night, he falls in love--with the Princess's fluffy gray cat. Hilarity ensues.

6. Kaley thought her spell would only keep the dorks away, but soon she realizes all men keep her at arm's length. What's a prom queen to do when she's completely unlovable?

Original Version

Marling Ellis was a young witch working, blogging, searching for her identity and drinking cocoa alone in New York City. Falling in love seemed unlikely, especially with a sexy Russian writer like Viktor Arson. [Why "especially"?] Only problem is, Marling’s a little impulsive. Okay, VERY impulsive. [This makes it sound like Marling impulsively falls in love.] Four days into her relationship with Viktor, Marling placed an unlove spell on herself so that she could never fall in love with anyone else. [Not clear whether that means never fall in love with anyone ever again, or never fall in love with anyone except Viktor. Was she in love with Viktor?] The next day, she dumped him... [Why? Impulsiveness explains why she does things without thinking them through, but there needs to be a reason she thinks about doing them in the first place.] and not long after, she gave up on magic. [Why?] [I see no reason this paragraph shouldn't be in present tense. The plot may take place 5 years later, but as long as you transition into it by saying "Five years later..." you'll be okay.]

Five years later, Marling’s not falling in love; [Of course not. The unlove spell. If she were falling in love, that would be news.] she’s falling asleep at the desk of her day job at Moonhorse Publishing [Obviously she's an editor.] (or sneaking to the bathroom for phone calls). [People who work at publishing companies spend all their time on the phone. No need to sneak to the bathroom, unless it's to get a few quiet moments away from the phone.] And Viktor is a world famous writer of books about magical beings. The twist? He’s a magical being too—half fae, and a prince no less. [When did she learn this?] Which is bad. Bad, bad, bad. According to the magic history books that Marling never bothered to finish reading, the witches and the fae have been at war with each other for a long time, and loads of witches have recently gone missing. [Is that last part in the magic history books?] Together with her hipstery Type-A former magic tutor, Kyran, Marling embarks on a bungled adventure to Russia to rescue the missing witches [It's not a bungled adventure until she bungles it.] [What makes her think the missing witches are in Russia?] and come face to face with her former lover to finally decide…does she really love him? Or is it just the unlove spell? [Is what just the unlove spell?]

The Unlove Spell is a romantic urban fantasy with a heavy dose of comedy, and is approximately 72,000 words.

My name is ______________. [No need for this if you remember to put your name after the "Sincerely,"] I’m the author of dark comedy Death and Mr. Right (Spence City, 10/2013). I have extensive professional marketing and branding experience, and have built a platform for The Unlove Spell since its inception, through the use of various forms of social media. [The rest of this paragraph isn't needed.] I use tumblr, twitter and Facebook to connect with fans, share snippets of my work and answer writing questions. I regularly take part in book-related and sci-fi themed events where I meet potential readers, and I teach a popular writing class at conventions. I also conduct interviews with creative professionals. Some of my recent interviews include #1 NYT Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, goth rocker Aurelio Voltaire and fashion designers Dmitry Sholokhov and Fabio Costa.

I read on your website that you’re looking for women’s fiction in the urban fantasy genre. I believe The Unlove Spell would be a good fit for you. I look forward to hearing back from you soon!



What was the point of the spell? Apparently after knowing him four days Marling was in love with Viktor, and used the spell because she didn't trust herself not to fall in love with someone else? (Kind of silly considering Viktor could dump her the next day.) Then she dumped him and five years later she can't figure out if she loves him or if she's having those fluttery feelings because he's the only person the spell doesn't prevent her from loving?

Wouldn't it be better to put the unlove spell on Viktor? So that he will love no one but her? As it is, even if she realizes she loves him, it's been five years. He's moved on. He's found a lover who isn't such a loon.

If I had a dime for every publishing professional who fell in love with a sexy writer I wouldn't be working for a living. Why is it so unlikely that Marling would fall for a sexy writer?

I think the voice is good. It captures the humorous tone of the novel. But it feels disorganized. The first paragraph is all setup, and I expect the second to take us through the plot, but instead it's mostly the setup of the situation five years later. Tell us a story.

If Marling is the name her parents gave her, I'm pretty sure she'd be going by her middle name.

Do we need an unlove spell? She falls in love with a Russian writer whose book she's editing, but he returns to Russia. Five years later she's had nothing but failed relationships, and goes looking for the only man she'll ever love. It's more romantic if she goes to Russia looking for her true love than for missing witches. A witch who's given up on magic might as well not be a witch.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Face-Lift 1133

Guess the Plot

Line of Dissent

1. When Protestantism is outlawed in France, Denis Lefebvre flees and braves Turkish slave ships and Caribbean maritime battles to reach England, eventually winning the earldom of Maundale. But later generations of Lefebvres fight for religious freedom in France.

2. Ethan is a spider/human hybrid who sells his artistic webs. His "friends" are always making fun of him. When humans start attacking Ethan's "friends" with brooms, Ethan could spin a rescue line for them, or just watch them all die. Also, a toddler who eats spiders.

3. Hank loved Sue, who divorced him for Greg, while Hank married Ellen and had an affair with Terri, who split with Don and had a baby with Kim, while Greg found love with Hannah, who was in love with Michael, who was really Celine's daughter in disguise.

4. Tenisha loathed being there, hated the weeping and pained faces, the gnarled bodies and fear-sweat. However, the mounting bills and repo man weren't going anywhere. So, she did all she could for the poor souls in the returns line at Walmart. Also, a guardian angel.

5. Kade joined the revolution too late. Imprisoned for treason, he fights for his only chance at freedom. If he makes it through the Line of Dissent he's a free man. If he doesn't he's dead. Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-free!

6. Inspired by the hard lives of Vietnamese frog farmers in Yemen, Smith undergrad Moon Halstead embarks on a search for her Korean birth mother and the true nature of her sexuality.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes and eliminates the free practice of Protestantism in France, [Isn't that saying the same thing twice?] the young and rash Denis Lefebvre, son of the Huguenot Count d’Abreaux, must flee the country. He braves Turkish slave ships, Caribbean maritime battles, and political and religious enemies of the Huguenot cause before he arrives safely in Protestant England, [If passage from France to England involves battles in the Caribbean, I think I'd just become Catholic.] eventually winning the earldom of Maundale [What exactly does one have to do to win the earldom of Maundale?] and establishing a safe haven for fellow refugees. [England being Protestant, I would think the whole country is a safe haven for fellow refugees. What needs to be established is a way to get there without braving Turkish slave ships and Caribbean maritime battles.] But when the scars of Denis's adventures turn him into a brute and his son's flight to safety [Safety from Denis?] turns into a quest for Denis's redemption, the Lefebvre family must re-enter the fight for French religious liberty.

Across the ocean, in colonial Providence, another family of religious dissenters, the Nasons, works hand-in-hand with Roger Williams to establish a land where inhabitants can truly find freedom to practice any faith — an idea previously unheard of in Western civilization. But when Williams sends one of the family back across the Atlantic to attract more settlers, the Nasons suffer at the hands of pirates and politicians — occupations as subtly different then as now — [and] they must fight for survival in a way [for which] colonial life never prepared them. [It's now a sentence, but still unwieldy. Maybe you should end it after "then as now." The rest is vague. If you can't tell us why their survival is at stake, I'd rather you didn't bring it up.]

Line of Dissent follows the Lefebvre and Nason families in an adventure saga spanning three generations, chronicling their struggle amidst the whirlwind of political, familial, religious, military, and — since this is a traditional adventure story, after all — romantic upheaval that eventually developed into freedom of religion in the West. The fast-paced yarn is complete at 84,000 words. [I don't think I'd refer to one book as both a saga spanning three generations and a fast-paced yarn.]

Thanks for your consideration.



In what way are these two families connected? It sounds like two books unless you tell us how they're brought together at some point. It's like opening with a paragraph about Sherlock Holmes, and then starting the next paragraph, Meanwhile, across the ocean in Texas, another crime fighter known as the Lone Ranger...

Three generations times two families equals six sets of main characters, with settings in France, England, the US and the Caribbean. 84,000 words sounds like barely enough to devote to three generations of one family.

It's hard enough to make us want to read a book when you focus the query on one character; true, Denis is the only fictional character named, but I'm not sure he's in more than a fifth of the book.

If a Nason meets a Lefebvre at some point, get us there quickly and tell us what happens with them. If they don't meet, convince us something is holding this together.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Guess the Title

Below are seven descriptions of actual books available at Barnes and Noble dot com. Your job is to guess which of the given titles is each book's actual title.

2 - 3 right: excellent
4 - 5 right: genius
6 - 7 right: liar

A. Had it up to here with sugary-sweet affirmation books that ignore the pleasures of resentment and mean-spiritedness? Tired of the self-helpaholics who've been sipping too much chicken soup? Then this book is for you. Here are 365 splendidly bitter daily meditations that will appeal to the cynic in you.
  1. 365 Days of Bile
  2. Suck it Up, Loser
  3. Chicken Livers for the Soul
  4. Who Cut My Coke With Salmonella?
  5. Today I Will Nourish My Inner Martyr
  6. The Habits of Highly Sarcastic People 
  7. 365 Ways to Tell the Assholes to F*ck Off

B. Wouldn't it be nice to read a book about relationships that made you laugh instead of point fingers? Now you can. The author takes on over-simplified psycho-babble relationship books and delivers a knockout punch.
  1. It’s All Your Fault
  2. No, Really, it's You
  3. This Book Is Stupid
  4. Babble that Lands Babes
  5. They are the problem; There's Nothing Wrong with You.
  6. Women May Be from Venus, But Men Are Really from Uranus
  7. Sleeping Around in Dark Matter: A Scientist Ridicules Our Mating Games

C. Is Bigger Really Better? Here at last is the first self-help book for men with Oversized Male Genitalia (OMG). Every year, thousands of men are diagnosed with OMG. Sadly, most are banished to the fringes of society
  1. Cock-Sure
  2. Members Only
  3. Gargantuan is Better
  4. How to Live with a Huge Penis
  5. You Will Always Feel Better Than My Dildo
  6. Too Much Junk: How to Deal With Tight Spaces
  7. If I Wanted to Screw a Salami I'd Have Gone to the Deli

D. Everyone has that moment—the realization that adulthood has arrived, like a runaway train, and there's no getting out of its way. An attempt to express the contradictions and anxieties that come with being over-educated, minimally employed, mostly single, and on your own.
  1. Generation Whine
  2. F*ck! I'm in My Twenties.
  3. Who Changed The Locks?
  4. Homelessness for Dummies
  5. Life sucks. Don’t kid yourself.
  6. Whaddaya MEAN I'm Pregnant?
  7. How to Tell Your Parents You're Moving Back In

E. Have you got the right kind of point on your pencil? Do you know how to achieve the perfect point for the kind of work you need out of that pencil? Deep in New York’s Hudson River Valley, the world’s number one #2 pencil sharpener still practices the age-old art of manual pencil sharpening.
  1. Sharper Image
  2. What’s the point?
  3. NOW You Tell Me Pencil Sharpening Isn't an Olympic Event
  4. Sharpest Pencil in the Box: Memoir of the World's Greatest Pencil Sharpener
  5. Hipsters Will Buy Anything, So Why Not a Book About Maintaining an Object That's Almost as Obsolete as a Typewriter?
  6. How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, and Civil Servants
     F. Target. Observe. Ridicule. You run into them every day—the striped-shirt guy, the karaoke master, the dude with a pencil-thin beard, the guy who won’t shut up about his fantasy football team—characters who annoy, irritate, and incense us all. A look inside the heads of the most infuriating douchebags on planet Earth.
    1. All Men are Idiots
    2. Look at My Striped Shirt!
    3. At Least You Aren't THAT Guy!
    4. Hang On, I Need to Take this Call
    5. No Thanks, I Only Drink Imported
    6. Pick Up Artists: A Woman's Guide to Avoiding Jerks
    7. Relax: Monday Coffee Shop Flotsam Bro Downs Are Normal
    G. This bracing blast of negativity takes aim at the impossibly cheerful inspirational self-help books flooding the market and hits the bullseye, with chapters such as Your Good-for-Nothing Friends, Your Miserable Job, and Life: What's the Use. 
    1. Evil Editor Strips
    2. You Are Worthless
    3. Dude, You're F@cked
    4. Take This Book and Shove It
    5. Claim that Dirty Sofa in the Alley
    6. You Don’t Need to Buy this Book
    7. Convincing Yourself that Self-help is a Crock

    Answers Below  
    Fake titles were supplied by Khazar Khum, CavalierdeNuit, Veronica Rundell, Anonymous and EE.  
    Actual Titles  
    Today I Will Nourish My Inner Martyr 
    Women May Be from Venus, But Men Are Really from Uranus  
    How to Live with a Huge Penis  
    F*ck! I'm in My Twenties  
    How to Sharpen Pencils yadda yadda  
    Look at My Striped Shirt!  
    You Are Worthless

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Face-Lift 1132

Guess the Plot

Twice Named Son

1. Madison Paulson's parents wish she was a boy. Jackson Johnson's parents wish he was a girl. The two kids swap places, and all four parents are delighted.

2. When Cy Maestas finds himself being hunted by Earth's beloved rulers, the Orden, he realizes that his only hope is to erase his name from everywhere it's written. Hey, he's never been crazy about the name Cy Maestas anyway. Also, a van full of catatonics.

3. Tribal court has given Johnny Twice Named Son one last chance to turn his life around before they send him to Federal prison. Nothing funny, entertaining or uplifting to see here, just an aging journalist desperate to win a Pulitzer, so cut him some slack, OK?

4. Unwed mother Dancy Darlin has her baby the very night the local news announces the jackpot ticket for the lottery was sold at the beer store where she works. And she's been sleeping with the only two guys who ever buy tickets there! She's just not sure whether to name the kid Johnny Joe or Billy Bob. Luckily, she's also been sleeping with the guy who issues birth certificates at the hospital, so she gets two and names him both.

5. Son Son is sick of his obsessive compulsive parents who repeat every action to make sure they got it right, including the time they submitted his birth certificate. He wreaks vengeance on them by murdering them both twice - once as humans and once as zombies.

6. His mother is set on Jim Bob. His father insists on Chauncy Reginald. Will the fight over this infant's birth certificate spill out of the hospital and end in divorce? Also, switched at birth with the prince of Lichtenstein.

Original Version

Seventeen-year-old Cy Maestas wakes imprisoned in a van rushing through the night, surrounded by catatonics. [The van is surrounded by catatonics?] All he remembers from the last week is a camping trip gone awry. All he knows now, breathless and shaking after a harrowing escape, is that the horrified face in the mirror is not his own. [That was some shabby imprisonment if he's already escaped.] And that the second he stumbles from the road to hide, [It sounds like he jumped out of a rushing van and is stumbling into the woods. So where is this mirror he looked into after his escape?] he’s nearly knocked senseless by overwhelming visions into a million human lives. [I love it when I don't have to work hard to make the plot sound so crazy no one guesses it's the real one. True, someone will probably write in to say "I knew it was that one because it was the craziest or the least crazy or the only one I didn't want to read," but that person will be lying.]

The world has changed. For centuries its beloved rulers, the Orden, have shielded mankind from eerie catastrophic events called ‘gritos.’ ["Gritos" sounds like a breakfast cereal. Ground corn meal, cooked into a porridge consistency with lots of sugar, then shaped into O's, baked till they're golden brown and crispy, and sold in a box with a cartoon possum on the front.] Stunned to discover he’s been unconscious for seven years, [Seems more like 7000 years.] Cy doesn’t know which is more baffling – that gritos have vanished, [My favorite cereal vanished too, about 40 years ago. Kellogg's Sugar Stars.] that he’s trapped on roads by the crushing omniscience lying beyond them, or that the ruling Orden has turned sinister…and they’re hunting him down. [Just so I've got it straight, what planet is this?]

Host to a strange power that makes his own mind an alien thing, [A character whose mind becomes an alien thing I can live with; when the author's mind is an alien thing we've got trouble.] ripped from home and reeling at his physical age, Cy goes on the run. [Hasn't he been on the run since paragraph 1 when he jumped out of a speeding van?] The friends he makes he must leave behind, and those who wish him ill stay unnervingly near. Stripped of everything he knows, he struggles to remain himself - but when the Orden closes in, his only chance to survive is using his omniscience to break a heartrending taboo and erase his last anchor to self, family, and home: his name. [The Orden have almost caught up to me. But they'll never find me if I change my name.]

Close by, the Orden’s leader quietly fights to prevent the world’s stability from causing its own collapse. Humanity has adapted to the catastrophic gritos; its confidence and freedoms will upend society if gritos never return – and trigger disaster and death if they do. [It's a lose/lose situation. So who cares what happens?] If Cy is the key to mankind’s safety, she’ll have him – at the expense of his life. [Is this one of those gag queries?]

TWICE NAMED SON is literary YA speculative fiction. At 99,700 words, it is my debut novel and the first complete of a well underway four book arc. To use my favorites, it is similar to Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS in its deep world-building, Hess’ CHAOS WALKING for its travel and aspects of omniscience, and Zusak’s THE MESSENGER and Pierce’s BEKA COOPER trilogy for its literary style. [Assuming your book sounds like this query, if you ever see me picking up anything by Zusak or Pierce, swat me.]

I’ve worked in documentary for a private foundation, writing the stories of people working for social change. I founded and for eight years ran [redacted], a literacy nonprofit enabling over 2,000 teachers and 25,000 children to build home and classroom libraries. I am in love with roads of all sorts, and I am epileptic, which informs the ruling Orden’s own structure and abilities. [It's nice that you live in a time when you can reveal you're epileptic without people thinking you're insane, but the world is not so enlightened that you can also afford to reveal you're in love with roads.]

Do your worst,

A chica pulling hair out at the brain-flattening exercise of query writing


WTF? This is mostly incomprehensible. Start over. Imagine you're standing in front of a classroom, explaining your plot to twenty-five 8-year-olds. Paragraph 1 is the setup. Tell us where and when we are, who the main character is, and what situation he's dealing with. Stop. Start over; you forgot that we're 8-year-olds.

Paragraph 2. Noting that 8-year-olds have short attention spans and that you're already losing us, dive into what Cy wants, who's trying to stop him from getting it, and what will happen if he fails.

Review what you've got so far. If you've mentioned catastrophic gritos, crushing omniscience, heartrending taboos, or overwhelming visions into a million human lives, start over and imagine the class is now 6-year-olds.

Okay, paragraph 3 wraps it up. What's Cy's plan? What goes wrong? What's plan B? Send your revision as a comment.

Nitpick: The 1st time you mention the Orden, it's plural: the Orden, have shielded... The next two times it's singular: the ruling Orden has turned sinister; the Orden closes in.

Is Cy Maestas the twice-named son? Are his parents in the book? What's his second name? It's gotta be better than Cy Maestas.