Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

National Book Award Guess the Plot

Below are the five titles short-listed for the National Book Award. Your job is to guess which of the plot descriptions is the real plot of the book.

Bleeding Edge

1. Carl Hollowell studies the newest body modification craze amongst teenagers with daddy issues. Also, militant protests in 1980s Beverly Hills.

2. Seth goes from comfortable home to the mean streets after his parents are killed in a drive-by. Now Seth fights for cash to survive day-to-day. Getting by is the best one can do on the . . . Bleeding Edge.

3. Hilarious murder mystery set against the backdrop of the 9/11 attacks.

4. Think of Tippi Tamponeera as a “00” agent for the feminine hygiene company Shieldies. She has a license to wreak havoc on competitive companies, especially Shieldies’ toughest competition Angelica Safety Wings, which promises protection against sideward leakage. For Tippi, it is a simple matter of factory sabotage to clip an angel’s wings. For Angelica’s customers, it’s ... the Bleeding Edge.

5. A serial killer barber uses his razor to behead customers. Cops get on to him when a routine traffic stop uncovers a van filled with human heads, all with recent haircuts.

6. Occam’s razor was so dull it was easier to tell which hairs weren’t cut. In a fit of pique he swore if he couldn’t get a close shave, he’d slit his own throat. The next day, Occam’s evil twin was found in a pool of blood, his throat a wreck and Occam’s razor in his hand. The authorities want to know who wrote the word “parse” in blood with the razor’s edge and how Occam will figure it out. He doesn’t have a clue.

Tenth of December

1. Three days after Pearl Harbor, Navy recruit Jack Donohue escorts his cousin to the Army recruitment center in Dallas. Once they see him, they want him. Can he ever leave, or will he be forced to resort to desperate tactics to escape? Also, militant protests in 1940s Japan.

2. A misfit boy on an imaginary mission meets up with a dying man on a frozen pond. Also, living lawn ornaments and sadistic neurological experiments.

3. Yet another pregnancy diary by a woman who thinks she's the first in the world to give birth. And even though her name's Eve, it ain't the case. Will her infant be one of the minority who actually arrive on the due date, you guessed it, the tenth of Dec?

4. Three days ago the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. Today, Special operative James MacInerney arrives in Japan. His mission? Take out Hirohito.

5. The last fire was finally extinguished and the first tears of the dead rose from the Arizona. A giant shakes loose, sits up, and peers around the world. It has been decades since his last appearance. It's time to get down to business. He turns to his minions, and says, “Let’s roll!”

6. ‘Twas fifteen days till Christmas, and in the Senate and House,
the Capital Hillers played, again, cat and mouse.
Deals offered were tempting, as if baited with cheese,
but for those who liked Tea, no cheese would appease.
So the Economy wondered, “Does another debt crisis loom?
Will Nonessentials, again, be deemed essentially doomed?”
Oh, and that girl’s face on the website of Obamacare that fled:
was she a casualty of the uninsureds’ cyber-dread?
Still, one thing is certain, and of this never fear:
taxes are due April 15th next year.

The Flamethrowers

1. A motorcycle racer moves to New York for the art scene and falls in with the heir to a motorcycle company. Together they decide to "make art" by racing motorcycles on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Also, militant protests in 1970s Italy.

2. Beatrice lives in a society in which almost everyone has been implanted with gimmicky microchips. Her least favorite is the one that makes rude people classy. She and her gang throw flaming dildos at these people, until Sam, the classiest guy in the world, introduces himself to her.

3. A scientist thinks comes up with a way to keep so many trees in the rainforests from being cut down to make all that toilet paper women use. He’s invented tiny flamethrowers that attach inside of toilet bowls and act as blow-dryers. And to make them even more eco-friendly, these in-bowl dryers are fueled entirely by the user’s own gaseous emissions! But he didn't count on the 7-Bean With Cabbage Diet that had just become the latest health-conscious rage. Whoa, talk about flamethrowers!

4. In this hard-hitting expose, journalist Nate Goddard dissects the lives of the basement-bound community of neckbeards called Internet Trolls.

5. The pope orders thousands of non-Catholics burned at the stake in 15th-century Europe. It just seems like the Christian thing to do.

6. Martin and Gus pack their favorite copy of “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” their best frocks and depart for Sydney. Their agent said it would be a convention of hot, Australian men. Perfect for two middle-aged, burlesque actors from San Francisco. Turns out they're booked to perform for 2000 firemen. Too bad none of them is gay.

The Lowland

1. Inseparable brothers separate. One gets killed. The other marries his dead brother's pregnant wife. It's his good deed, and of course it doesn't go unpunished. Also, militant protests in 1960's India.

2. Seamus, a Highland farmer, can't keep up with Edinburgh's fast pace-- until he meets Celesta. This modern gal has everything going, but a love she treasures. Can they forge a technologically-savvy future together?

3. All Digit wanted was to get off the mountain. Sure, the living was easy--sleeping in trees, picking nits and killing an occasional rival was fun, but the lowland was where living began. He hated his life until Diane arrived from the valley. She was pale, weak, and couldn’t screech worth a damn, but he loved her. Now he needed to protect her from the poachers and move to the lowland before it was too late.

4. PJ McGillicutty is a lonely in Amazonica. Despite being the only male, the females will have nothing to do with him, until the volcano starts to groan to life. Can he convince the Shebeba that exercising his mojo will prevent catastrophe? And, more importantly...can it?

5. In post apocalyptic Netherlands a small band of teenagers eke out a living, defending their compound against werewolves mutated into zombies crossed with vampires. 

6. Lives and loves are torn apart by a teen seductress, her father, and a pit bull in a Nashville trailer park.

The Good Lord Bird

1. They call it that because when you see it you say, "Good Lord!" Also, militant protests in 1860s America.

2. Winney Elfsie captures a photo of what looks like Jesus Christ in the clouds. But what is he doing with his middle finger?

3. Sam thought a raised middle finger was a friendly greeting. When he waves it around Meeting his family is shunned. Can Sam overcome the ire of the LDS before his father loses his position as Stakeholder?

4. Graham takes in Great Aunt Sheila's pet honoring her last wish. Sheldon, the African grey parrot, has trouble adjusting to his new home in Graham's music studio. Also, turns out Great Aunt Shiela swore like a drunken trucker. Will Graham turn out the cursing wretch, or lose all his Kindermusik students?

5. A bird continuously flies into a window until it can no longer fly, somehow setting off a series of events including two suicides during a family road trip to California.

6. Randall Peltzer bought the Good Lord Bird in Chinatown. Back home, the bird molts, its cast-off feathers producing offspring which terrorize the town.

Answers below

Fake plots by Khazar-khum, kregger, Veronica Rundell, EE, James, CavalierdeNuit, Anon.

The correct plots are:


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Face-Lift 1163

Guess the Plot

Metamorphosis of the Meek

1. 16-year-old Rhynn awakens with super powers! Well, not that super. She's faster and more flexible than she used to be. Can she use her powers to buy her way off this miserable planet?

2. Shy, fat, nerdy Jeremy was always friendzoned by girls he liked. He was ready to crawl off and die--until a desperately hungry vampire bit him. Now he's read all those PUA books, he's got a fedora, and he's gonna take the bar scene chicks by storm.

3. Bob was looking forward to the day the meek inherited the Earth. But two days before Armageddon he gets elected US president thanks to write-in votes, becoming the most powerful man on Earth. Man, nothing's going right.

4. The Metamorphosis potion was supposed to give the spineless a complete makeover. Apparently it works in both directions, as Ed discovers when he turns into a jellyfish.

5.The Milquetoasts Anonymous meeting was late getting started, as no one present had the courage to call the meeting to order. Finally one brave soul stood up, took a deep breath, and said, Hi, I'm George and I'm a milquetoast . . . but I'm taking the last doughnut! Unless anyone else wants it."

6. Selica's boss constantly takes advantage of her. One day she decides she's had enough and kills the lecherous bastard. I hope that's where the book ends instead of with Selica getting in trouble, because the guy had it coming.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

On the planet of Xorra, sixteen-year-old Rhynn rots in prison. She is waiting to die. Rhynn’s always been a scrawny twit who lives in a crater and illegally sells shoddy antigravity boots to pay rent. [The only reason to live in a crater is to avoid paying rent.] [She's 16 years old and she's always lived in a crater selling antigravity boots?] And when the lethal dose of asteroid dust is shoved down her throat, Rhynn figures that’s all she’ll ever be. [I can't tell if the lethal dose is shoved down her throat in prison or before she was imprisoned. I assume rotting in prison comes after living in a crater, so perhaps they should be in that order in the query.]

Until something goes awry, and Rhynn jolts awake in the criminal’s graveyard- a swamp filled with carnivorous plants- to find she’s light as air and super flexible. And when she runs? She’s like a shooting star stuck on land. [She's a combination of the Flash and Mr. Fantastic and . . . I can't think of a superhero who's as light as air. Possibly because I can't think of how being light as air would be useful in the fight against crime. You could ride the wind like a leaf but if the wind shifts unexpectedly you could get blown into a raging forest fire. Maybe she should be lighter than air, allowing her to hover over criminals like the helium-filled Underdog balloon in the Macy's parade. Then when she wants to drop onto the criminal she punctures her foot with a pin and shoots downward.]

Rhynn manages to slip away, with an insane idea. [Sell asteroid dust as "the weight-loss drug that makes you light as air." A week later she's a millionaire.] A steely-furred beast has been roaming the planet, [How big is this planet?] ripping apart buildings and killing anyone who gets in its way. With her new powers, Rhynn decides she’s got a shot at slaying the monster, and nabbing the reward that comes with it. [I'm light as air and flexible; I should be able to take down a beast that can rip apart buildings.]

With the money, Rhynn could get off Xorra and travel the galaxy. She’ll feast on planetary delicacies. She’ll visit stars to take silly tourist photos, [Photo tip: when taking pictures on a star, use the .00000000000000000000000000001 shutter speed to minimize overexposure.] and do whatever she wants, whenever she wants.

She might be mauled to death. [There's always a catch.] If her true identity leaks, she will be hunted as a criminal. But it’s worth the risk, until the same powers that could save her make her a target. Turns out someone would kill to keep the beast running wild. And he wants her out of the way.

METAMORPHOSIS OF THE MEEK is a young adult superhero story set in space, complete at 65,000 words. I’m querying you because...Thank you for your time and consideration.



Most superheroes are in it to help humanity. Are we going to get behind a career criminal who accidentally acquires super powers and uses them to finance a vacation?

I would organize it something like this:

Sixteen-year-old Rhynn is having a bad week. First she was arrested for selling shoddy antigravity boots, then she was tossed into prison without a trial, and now a guard has shoved a lethal dose of asteroid dust down her throat.

By all rights she should be dead. Instead, she wakes up in the criminals' graveyard to find she’s light as air and super flexible. And when she runs? She’s like a shooting star stuck on land. This could be her ticket off of Xorra, especially if she can use her new powers to destroy the steely-haired beast that's been terrorizing the planet. The reward's enough to get her halfway across the galaxy.

But there's a catch. (Isn't there always?) Turns out someone wants to keep the beast running wild. And he wants Rhynn out of the way.

That leaves enough room for you to insert some information you think is vital, like why we should care whether Rhynn gets off Xorra.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Below are most of the fake plots involving vampires that have appeared here since the last time we did a vampire Guess the Plot quiz. But wait! Four of them turned out to be the actual plots of minions' novels. Which four?

1. It's been 875 years, and Ian MacNeil is ready to retire from an active life of blood-sucking to Hawaii, where an endless supply of young bodies awaits and he can admire his massive collection of velvet Elvis paintings in peace. All he has to do now is survive the roast his fellow vampires want to give him. It's just a few hours of jokes...isn't it?

2. When Bubbe, the senior center queen, became a late night snack for the undead it put an end to her days of the senior special. But not sleeping all night made her the number one buyer on the shopping channels. How much kitsch can one vampire have?

3. Gus fakes his death and attends his funeral in disguise. There he learns that Brigette had a crush on him. To win her he must return from the dead so he fakes being a vampire. But now he finds himself dealing with actual vampire hunters with their cheap crosses and stakes. Plus, Brigette wants him to turn her so they can spend eternity together.

4. Two vampires buy a gift shop at Myrtle Beach. It's the perfect spot to hunt victims, but Vlad loves being surrounded by plastic mermaids and coffee mugs, while Ramon wants to convert the place into a fine dining establishment. Talk about your odd couple.

5. Sent away to live in exile with other surly teens, Niko soon realizes something sinister lurks in the shadows. Vampires? But unlike the ones on TV they all look hideously dead and smell worse. Maybe they're zombies? No, they are Zombires, a new kind of biting monster that really is impossible to kill.

6. High school has been divided into factions since forever. Now Janie, a vampire, and her best friend Lisa, a soft-spoken mummy, plan to change all that.

7. As Josh Booth camps in the north woods, vampires capture him, binding him to a tree. He escapes and warns authorities but Detective Abby Lincoln says he’s crazy. When bodies--drained of blood--are found bound to other trees in the woods, Lincoln thinks Booth is the serial killer.

8. Archeologist Len Bianchi, exploring Rome’s oldest catacombs dating from the third century B.C., opens a crypt releasing Illuvica, the demigod vampire of felines. The Romans sealed her off over two thousand years ago. Now she’s really pissed--especially about that stupid dog thing--and wants revenge on all Italy.

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

10. Vampires hijack a space shuttle and fly it to the dark side of the moon where they won't have to spend sixteen hours a day in their coffins. But it turns out the dark side isn't always dark when you're on it, and there's no one there whose blood they can drink. Also, there's no air to breathe.

11. After siring four new vampires for Lorenzo, Kaia is entitled to her freedom. At least that's what the Hematophagy Council says. But Lorenzo won't release her unless she comes up with millions of dollars in tribute. If you can't trust a 1000-year-old vampire, who can you trust?

12. 32 year-old Jennie Rogers lied about her age to land a part on TV's "The Rose", a vampire musical dramedy aimed at teens. When hunky production assistant Gabriel Lopez threatens to expose her ruse to the director, Jennie has to decide whether to sleep with him or kill him.

13. Phoebus the vampire would have an easier time wiping out his former clan if he had an ally who was a wivern. Unfortunately, he turned the only wivern in town into a human. And then fell in love with him. Maybe they should just move to Manitoba together and get married.

14. Carels is a venomous vampire whose kiss kills instantly. Hessa is a were-cane toad whose skin secretes poison. Can they make each other happy, or will Hessa's Australian accent and mannerisms hopelessly offend Carels' haughty Silesian family?

15. Gabriel, Prince of Vampires, must find a young bride to bear his heir or his line will die, so he chooses 16-year-old Amy and Jesus H Christ I already hate this book.

16. When Gwyn learns that her childhood necklace, "the Phoenix," is the only thing keeping the sun burning in the sky, she realizes it was possibly a mistake to give it to a vampire who wants to extinguish the sun so it'll always be night.

17. Two vampires undertake an experiment in their night school science class to discover what is thicker than blood. Answer: custard.

18. 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?

19. 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!

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. Ava Stanton asks President Lincoln to free all indentured vampires. The vampires don't want to be freed. They like their hours, their pensions and the blood they suck from witless citizens. They drain Ava's vital fluids, but Ava persists, even after death. It's time to call in the werewolves.

23.Vampire Joann runs an auction house auctioning orphaned children to vampires. They feed on the children’s blood. But new government regulations require daycare. It’s expensive. Then Dr. Vlad opens a phlebotomy lab across the street, selling cheap biohazard blood. Bids for children plummet. Can Joann make ends meet by taking a night job at the convenience store?

Answers below

The actual plots are numbers

11, 13, 16, 20.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Success Story

Dixon Hill reports the following regarding Face-Lift 963:

Thanks for all the great advice, gang! I used it, and did a little more homework concerning the agent I was targeting. I sent the query below on Monday morning, and received a request for the rest of the manuscript.

Dear Mr. ------:

I am seeking representation for "Death in Living Color,” a completed 83,000-word historical mystery set in 1951.

A decorated WWII veteran, badly scarred J.C. Dix just wants to forget the war and straighten out his life. He moves to Scottsdale, Arizona to practice law. But when he finally lands a client, he finds himself on the trail of hardened gangsters who spike women’s drinks then film them in sex acts, using a brand new color process, as part of a scheme to provide color porn movies for L.A. mob backers. After Dix spirits away the films, the gangsters go on a killing spree to recover them. As the bodies stack up, he tries to protect his client, but the county sheriff targets Dix as the prime suspect. Dix thinks he’s placated the sheriff. When he cracks the case, however—ready to name names and turn over the evidence—he finds he’s been hung out to dry. Meanwhile, the killers learn Dix has the films, and they’re coming for him. Before he can clear his name, Dix is forced to employ all his combat skills in a climactic shoot-out against the gangsters.

A life-long history buff, and member of the Scottsdale Historical Society, I carefully researched the 1950’s Phoenix area, but employed poetic license where historic detail inhibited story flow. Patrick Millikin, editor of Phoenix Noir (Akashic, 2009), described my manuscript as, “Chandler-esque—in a good way. A damn good way!”

I am a combat veteran (Special Forces Explosives Expert), hold a BA in Journalism/Mass Communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, have worked as a reporter, and have sold short fiction to anthologies, and magazines such as Boy’s Life (“Buffalo Smoke”, April 2013) and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine—Janet Hutchings, editor of EQMM, called my short story "Dancing in Mozambique" (July 2010) “one of the best mysteries of the year…”. I also blog with several other successful writers at:

A synopsis and the first 50 pages of the manuscript are attached to this email.


Thanks again – to the Great EE! And, to my fellow minions!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Synopsis 38

Guess the Plot

1. In the not-too-distant future, Young Adult novelists have been hired by the World Government to create a set of templates for all humans' lives. Gavin is stuck with Synopsis 38, which means he is the secret Prince of the Fae. He would much rather be a were-zebra, so he must hack into the central computer and do some editing.

2. It was the most riveting synopsis EE had ever read. He should not have told his recently fired intern to print a copy and archive the email because now it's lost in the sewers of New York. Thank goodness EE still has his wader from twenty summers ago.

3. Stuff happens.

Original Version
Avalyn and her father, Nolan, are servants at an inn, but occasionally are called upon to entertain for the lord of their manor. Although it seems a prestigious job, Avalyn detests working at the lord’s manor because his youngest daughter abuses Avalyn every chance she gets.

There are few who would befriend a girl in such low circumstances, but one boy, Dylan, from the local monastery, finds her companionship irresistible. [Does he live at the monastery? Is he an aspiring monk? With permission to date?] Not only is she blossoming into a beautiful woman, but she is also a bit of an enigma. Though she should have the simplest mind in town, [Why is that?] Avalyn is brighter than any girl he has met. Dylan cannot help but fall for her.

A newcomer to town, Teague, immediately notices Avalyn and vies for her attention. He would love to pursue her, but when he is suddenly raised to a position of nobility, his chances with her become slim. [A newcomer walks into town and before he even has time to ask Avalyn out, he's been promoted to nobleman? What's his title?] He now has a clear future with the lord’s daughter. Through it all, he cannot put Avalyn out of his mind.

Avalyn has a secret. She is a child of a Celtic shaman bloodline [descendant of a Celtic shaman], and under the instruction of her father she is training in the ancient art of ritual sacrifice… But not as one might imagine. In turn, Avalyn sacrifices each of her senses for a period of time, only to have them return with a ferocity she could never imagine. [Not necessarily a good thing, especially if there's a hog farm in the village.]

The sacrifices and renewal allow her mind to reach beyond its former confines, but it also releases her capacity for desire. She eventually falls for Dylan.

One evening when she has sacrificed her sense of touch, she causes a fire that takes the lives of both her father and Dylan. She is left doubting all she has ever believed in. [Not clear how the sense of touch would prevent her from starting a fire.]

Years later Avalyn plods through a listless life. Though she has become an entrepreneur [Can you be more specific than "entrepreneur"?] and bought her way out of servitude, she still allows her life decisions to be made by those around her. [Who are those around her, and what are these decisions they are making for her?] She feels that left to her own decisions, tragedy may strike again.

The lord’s daughter was left disfigured by the fire [Did she burn down the lord's home? That plus disfiguring his daughter, and I'm surprised she wasn't burned at the stake.] and placed in a nunnery, so Teague, now a knight, is in a position where he can marry Avalyn instead.

After the wedding, Avalyn moves to Teague’s manor. One night a dream of her lost love, Dylan, awakens her former passions.

Pregnant and alone while Teague is off fighting the King’s battles, she begins to realize her husband’s love for her. While kindling a love she never thought possible, another crisis occurs. There is an attack on their manor, cultivated [Organized? Arranged?] by the begrudging daughter of Avalyn’s former lord. Avalyn escapes to the forest, only to stumble into the Celtic Otherworld. Here she finds Dylan alive and well. She learns that the child she carries in her womb to belongs to him. The child is an essential link between the two worlds. [He impregnated her years after his death? When she dreamed about him? Until I see the DNA test results, the kid is Teague's. And when Teague gets back from the war, I don't recommend telling him any different.]

The journey to the Otherworld has brought her old sacrifices to their full potential. She dallies in a world of bliss with Dylan, but she is soon thrust back into the life she left. [By what?] Upon her return she finds herself at a crossroads. Should she live in a world where her newfound abilities can be useful? Or a world where she can live in Utopia with the man she has always known to be her true heart’s companion [love].

In the end, after using her powers to save a life, she chooses the world of Teague. But the child she bears is a child of the Otherworld. Might there be a chance for more? [More children of the Otherworld?]


Like all synopses, it's not too exciting (which explains why no agent who asks for a synopsis ever requests the manuscript).

She feels that left to her own decisions, tragedy may strike again. It wasn't my impression that the first tragedy was caused by her decision. It was her father's idea that she should sacrifice her senses, and apparently her lack of sense of touch that caused the fire. What did she decide that caused tragedy? If my father decided I should become Wonder Woman, and as a result I burned him and my true love to death, I would start making my own decisions.

When a guy you haven't seen in years tells you he's the father of your unborn child, shouldn't you be a little skeptical? Does he offer any evidence?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Face-Lift 1162

Guess the Plot

Rise of Ari

1. The dingy tailor shop is open only at night. New employee David soon learns why: their clientele is all monsters. He's been given a daunting task--making pants for a three-legged demon. Can David correctly create--the Rise of Ari?

2. Seven years ago Ari's parents were slain by Sarebans. Seven days ago Ari's sister taught him the Alamfi chants for super-strength and invisibility. Seven seconds ago Ari breached the Sareban stronghold.

3. This is the story of Ari, and his rapid rise from son of a blacksmith to blacksmith, a rise aided in no small part by the death of the blacksmith.

4. From tobacco exporter to self-made billionaire shipping magnate, this is the story of Ari Onassis, and how he bagged the world's most famous widow.

5. A fully populated island of warriors rises from the depths of the Pacific and threatens to attack Hawaii if they are not provided with a fleet of destroyers and nuclear submarines. The American president accedes to their demands, and no lives are lost.

6. Ari was resigned to being a lowly soldier in the Greek army, but when he jokes that they should build a giant horse, hide inside it, and wait for the Trojans to bring them inside their city, his plan is put into action. Miraculously it succeeds, and Ari is hailed as a hero.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Legends tell of voices that whisper through the Great Plains of Carnin; the wandering spirits of souls forever trapped by the stalks of golden wheat grass. [And now Spirits of Carnin mead contains this authentic "soul wheat" in bottles or on tap. That's Spirits of Carnin, for discriminating mead drinkers. Available wherever fine mead is sold.] THE KINGS OF CARNIN: RISE OF ARI is a fantasy novel, complete at 103,900 words.

The great world of Carnin holds five kings and their Kingdoms. [I think "planet" or "continent" or even  "land" would be more precise than "great world."] Of these Orisgothia is known for Blistrar alloy and [Lipbalmia is known for Blistex ointment.] the swords it produces. Ari has been raised a son of the Royal Blacksmith; [In other words, his father's the Royal Blacksmith. Is it possible for the Royal Blacksmith to have a son who is raised a son of a cheese merchant?] the role he is destined to become. [No need to tell us he'll become the Royal Blacksmith when we see it happen later in the same paragraph.] Through skill and passion he produces a sword unlike any other. A sudden and devastating battle for Blistrar leaves his father dead and Ari’s world in shambles. Ari must now show the fierce King Orisgoth he is worthy of his father’s title.

Ari’s sword proves far better than imagined and finds him great favour with the King. Jealousy greets him in the soldiers he must now command. Unusual commands send Ari and his men through the Great Plains of Carnin where strange and frightening dreams rob him of his sleep and sanity. During battle, he amazes his veteran officers and soldiers alike with unworldly skill he cannot explain. Jealous, his lifetime friend Groadie finds a way to gain favour of his own at the risk of his friendship with Ari. A visit from the stranger in his dreams drives a wedge deeper between the friends. [Groadie isn't needed in the query.] [This paragraph feels like a list of things that happen, without much transition from one idea to the next.]

Convinced he is cursed, Ari ventures back into the plains, alone, to hunt and kill this strange man. What he finds instead challenges everything he believes to be true about Carnin and the five Kings. His return to Orisgothia is short lived and, despite continued valour in battle, he abandons King Orisgothia, [The king's name is Orisgoth; the kingdom is Orisgothia.] bringing the wrath of Orisgothia upon the stranger and the good people of Fent. [Fent? Is that one of the other kingdoms? If Ari abandons Orisgoth, I would expect Orisgoth's wrath to be directed at Ari, not at the good people of Fent.] Only his mysterious skill can ensure victory. [Victory over Orisgoth or over the people fighting for the Blistrar?] Devastation comes from the sky [What does that mean?] as Ari disappears and the hopes of Fent with him. The stranger and his people are scattered once again throughout the unrelenting Great Plains.

THE KINGS OF CARNIN: RISE OF ARI is a standalone novel with series potential. Thank you very much for your consideration.”

Thanks in advance!


Ari is the star. You have him disappearing to who knows where, and then your big finish is the stranger who we know and care nothing about going to the plains.

Is Kings of Carnin the title of the series? That would lead me to believe Ari rises to be king in this book. Instead, he attempts to rise to Royal Blacksmith by proving his valour, and then, on the cusp of realizing his destiny, disappears.

Focus on Ari, start to finish, addressing: What's his goal, what stands in his way, what will happen if he fails, and what's his plan?

Also, if there's something that sets this apart from other fantasies in which the nobody rises to greatness, feature it. Presumably this would involve the unusual commands Ari receives, the unexplainable skills he has, and the mysterious stranger, but all of these remain vague in the query.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Guess the Plot

The following plots have appeared in the Guess the Plot feature on this blog over the years. Most of them are fake, but two of them turned out to be the actual plots of novels. Which two?

1. In a bid to get lucky, the virgins of Alpha Alpha Alpha adopt a manly-man "monster hunter" theme for Halloween, disguising the House, as well as themselves, in gladiator bondage style, which seems to be very exciting for the two dozen scantily clad whip-snapping Medusa sex-pots who join them. All signs point to a lucky night, until the lads realize those snakes are real.

2. When Trudy and Bud sit down to make Halloween monsters at Uncle Reginald's castle, they have no idea the crayons are charmed--until the monsters start demanding "candy," and breaking furniture. Can Trudy's paper Medusa save the sofa and vanquish these diabolical green vampire-dinosaur-kitten things before Uncle Reggie gets home?

3. The new asylum director believes even psychotics can contribute to the community, and what better way than hosting a Halloween haunted house for the kiddies? The inmates take up the idea with gusto, but the director has second thoughts when chain saws go missing from the maintenance shed.

4. Abby Clary has no idea when she crashes a Halloween masquerade ball that she'll develop magical powers that allow her to magically transport to the year 1273. Now if she could only figure out why anyone would want to transport to the year 1273.

5. Halloween pirate Sidney Inkleby embellishes his nose and chin with putty, adds a few fake tattoos and a gold earring and rents one of the most fabulous costumes ever created by Madame Zelda, the devious sorceress of Springfield, who, unbeknownst to Sidney, casts a spell on him. When he steps out the front door, he won't be able to find the car -- because he'll be lost in 1748 Cuba.

6. On Halloween night, Ashley takes a shortcut through the graveyard and gets simultaneously bitten by both a vampire and a werewolf. Crap. This is going to put a crimp in her plan to snag All-American Josh Burrell as her prom date.

7. Linguistically challenged Amy needs to hire a Ghost Dancer for her Halloween party. But she misspells her craigslist ad and gets something called a "Ghast-Dancer," a creature from another realm who looks exactly like a hawt human guy and seduces every girl in sight -- except Amy, because she's his new keeper. She can't decide whether to enjoy his charms, or pimp him out.

8. Halloween is coming, and the kids on the block make plans to scare the poop out of the crotchety old codger in the forbidding mansion at the end of Atchison Lane. Wait till they see what former Vice President Cheney has cooked up for them.

9. Bloodstone Creek was the brainchild of George Rusnak. George is dead now, but his daughter Lillian works at the haunted Halloween attraction. This is the story of Bloodstone Creek’s cast and staff during its first season. Boo!

10. Lex Hopper's mom refuses to ruin a perfectly good sheet by cutting eyeholes in it so he can be a ghost at Halloween. Later that night, a still-incensed Lex meets the Devil enjoying a hot tub in Mrs. Minchpick's back yard. There's more than one way to make a ghost and Lex's mom is about to discover there's more to life than good sheets.

Answer below

The actual plots were numbers 4 and 9.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Beginning 1015

The rattle of the tail pipe on my old Indian Scout echoed back from the walls at me. It struck me with a bite of self-consciousness; I didn’t belong here.

Not that this cul-de-sac looked like a millionaires’ enclave. In fact, it was a funny sort of place to live, considering she had so much money—and I was pretty sure she had a lot of money. Judging by her car, her clothes, and that giant rock on her wedding finger.

That rock was on my mind, too. I was up to no good; I knew that. But I’d been anticipating this all afternoon, unable to think about anything else, ever since Mrs. Q had stepped out for lunch—and ‘Big Red,’ as I called her, stepped in. The little head had been doing the thinking for the big one ever since. I was in no mood to stop now. Hell! I was like a torpedo, fired on a collision course—no choice. Not anymore.

From the back seat, Big Red broke into my thoughts with her deep bass voice. “So, what kind of rock is it this time?”

I looked in the rearview mirror at her as a line from the old Kinks’ song “Lola” played in my head. You know, the one that goes “she walked like a woman and talked like a man.”

“What difference does it make whether it's igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary? All I know is, it was BIG! And I want it!”

Laughter rumbled from deep within Big Red’s throat. “Not easy being a two-headed man in a one-headed world, is it? Especially when the little head is an obsessive-compulsive rock collector.” She wet a finger and dabbed it in an ear of the smaller head that protruded from the right side of my neck.

“Stop that!” we said.

I would have stopped the Scout and kicked Big Red out, but I was going to need some help getting that enormous rock from Mrs. Q., who was obviously a powerful woman if she could lug that much weight around on her finger. Besides, what she’d said about my little head’s compulsion was true. And who would know better, considering all the other times she’d helped get my rocks?

“Probably just cheap sandstone,” Big Red said. “But whatever fires your torpedo, honey.”

I ignored the comment and the muscular, pantyhose-clad leg she draped across the backrest of the front seat, and said as assertively as I could manage, “Just make sure your jackhammer’s ready.”

Another deep-throated giggle from the back seat let me know my last admonishment was unnecessary. Her jackhammer was always ready.

Opening: Dixon Hill.....Continuation: James

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Beginning 1014

Lieutenant Richard Gangly (whose last name was an unfortunately apt description of his appearance) lay in the mud beside a trench.

Earlier in the night, openings had been made in the barbed wire and mine fields directly in front of him. Beyond that: No Man’s Land. On the far side of No Man’s Land—perhaps as much as three quarters of a mile from where he lay—the Germans were dug in with layer upon layer of trenches, augmented by their own bands of protective wire and mines. Gangly’s thoughts largely concerned themselves with this large area in front of him, because he knew that he would have to cross through it in just a few minutes.

Wet mud sucked at his elbows and knees as he lay there. The breath plumed from his opened mouth in great billowy clouds, washed pure white by the cold light of the full moon overhead. His breath mingled with the clouds that rose from other men—tens of thousands of men—lying up and down the line. All of them waiting for the whistle to blow, the attack to begin.

Gangly pulled out his smart phone and tapped his banking ap. He quickly put a stop-payment on his echeck to the WWI-France Reenactment Company. He had envisioned wine, women, and croissants, not blood, guts and 90-year-old trench rations. Next year he was going back to Gettysburg, where they took war a little less seriously.

Opening: Dixon Hill.....Continuation: kregger

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fake Plots Wanted

National Book Award "Guess the Plot" Prep

Below are the titles of this year's nominees. Submit fake plots for any or all.

The Flamethrowers

The Lowland

The Good Lord Bird

Bleeding Edge

Tenth of December 

Also, there are two openings in need of continuations (link in sidebar).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Face-Lift 1161

Guess the Plot


1. Move over, Avalon! Avalyn is here! Now with 10% more mist!

2. Mimi's friends flaked on her, and now she can't get into her favorite nightclub Avalon. She wanders down the street and is welcomed into Avalyn, an "alternative" club. She never knew writhing in chains and leather could be this exciting.

3. For a thousand years the city-state of Avalyn has been a shining beacon of learning, science, music and art in a barren, barbarian world. Now, because some cute teenager claims she's really the secret Fae heir of the place, our "heroes" are going to burn it to the ground.

4. Avalyn was surprised when a knight in shining armor appeared on her doorstep. Two days later there was another. After the tenth bled out on the porch, Avalyn became annoyed. "No you can't live here," she told them as she kicked the tenth to the curb. When Merlin showed up, Avalyn knew she'd have to get Arthur to fix his FB page or Morgause would show up next. And Avalyn hated that bitch!

5. Avalyn is tired of the life of a 13th-century serving girl. She aspires to be more, and once she's been subjected to a 5-year program of secret ritual sacrifice, she will be more! According to the teachings of her Pagan faith, she'll soon be endowed with magnificent powers! Let's see who messes with her then.

6. In an alternate history, Arthur fails to pull Excalibur from the stone in Avalyn and goes on to become a lowly squire to Lancelot. Does he have the strength and fortitude to work his way up to knighthood and later to become king? If he didn't, would this book be worth reading?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I believe that my 86,000 word historical fantasy, Avalyn, is the type novel you are looking to represent. The story of Avalyn is set in 13th c. England. [Did her parents name her after Avalon, or were you just looking for something similar to Evelyn? Careful, you don't want anyone to think this is a sequel to Aragon.] [After The Wizard of Oz came out, thousands of parents were naming their children Ez and Iz. But who am I to talk? Evil Jr's and Evilette's real names are Mordyr and Hobbityn.]

Dylan has been in love with Avalyn from the moment he moved to town. The orphaned ward of the church, [Is that Avalyn or Dylan?] used to his methodical, cloistered existence, finds the young serving girl’s free spirit enlivening. [As Dylan can be masculine or feminine, and Avalyn sounds like a place, it's not easy to tell which is the ward and which the serving girl.] Teague [Who's Teague?] has hated Dylan since the day they met. He can’t see why Avalyn would waste any time befriending that bastard. [Teague sounds like a meany; Avalyn should choose Dylan.] He hopes to prove himself in order to gain her affection.

Avalyn ignores the silent battle [rivalry?] between the two young men. She spends her days lost in mundane routine, cooking and cleaning the inn where she is housed, and occasionally entertaining at the manor of the local lord. She finds escape in forest any chance she gets. [If the forest has a name, use it; otherwise, say "the" forest.] There she can dally in faerie daydreams, sing as she pleases, and be subjected to secret ritual sacrifice. [That comes out of nowhere. For starters, "be subjected to" suggests it's against her will, which isn't the case, or it wouldn't belong on this list. Even the less suggestive "participate in" isn't much better, as the term "secret ritual sacrifice" is loaded with negative connotations. It's like if I told you that when I need a lift I frolic in a meadow, dance a jig, and torture a homeless guy. You'll think bad of me, never considering that torturing a homeless guy might actually be a good thing.]

The thought of Celtic sacrifice frightened her as a child, [Celtic sacrifice: trading Pierce and Garnett to the New Jersey Nets.] but as she grew older her father showed her that sacrifice does not mean death. It is the surrender of senses. With each sacrifice she loses one of her senses, but in time [a few days? a few years?] it returns with ferocity. Her father promises that when the sacrifices come full circle, she will be endowed with a power that rivals that of the Faeries of the Celtic Otherworld.

The sacrifices also awaken bodily desires, and she finds herself falling in love with one of the young men. [Which one? Why use five words and be general when you can use one and be specific?] Their love is short lived. One evening, after being stripped of her sense of touch, she causes a fire that claims the life of her father and the man she has fallen in love with. [Eight words where one name would do. I guess I should be happy you told us their names to begin with, rather than calling them the male protagonist Avalyn will accidentally burn to death and the male protagonist Avalyn won't accidentally burn to death.] [Even without the sense of touch, I can usually tell when I've set a house on fire.] Guilt-ridden and alone, [Alone? What about the male protagonist she didn't accidentally burn to death?] Avalyn realizes the real sacrifices that her pagan faith has taken [begotten?]. Will she trudge forth through life and abandon her faith of [in] the ancient ways? [I'd dump that question.] Or can glimpses from the Celtic Otherworld sway her to resume her true calling?

If you are interested, I will gladly send you my completed manuscript.

Thank you for your time,


Perhaps for purposes of the query, if not the book, you need a gentler name for the process of becoming a supergoddess. "The Renewal" sounds good. Secret ritual sacrifice sounds like killing virgins or babies or baby virgin goats.

This could stand to be shorter, and I see no need for both suitors to be in the query. In fact, neither of them plays any role after you introduce them. The super senses aspect is what makes this different, so maybe focus on why she and/or her father wants her to develop powers. What will she do when she becomes Wonder Woman? Is someone trying to stop her?

Can anyone become Wonder Woman by temporarily sacrificing senses? If not, why Avalyn? If so, is the forest crawling with aspiring superheroes?

Sometime last night the number of visits to this blog hit 2,222,222. I can guarantee we won't be here to see 3,333,333, so get those queries and openings in while there's still time.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Face-Lift 1160

Guess the Plot


1. Busting Mr. Parker's car window in third grade. Throwing for an interception that cost the Homecoming Game. And now, a broken condom after an evening with Miss West Virginia's Third Runner Up.

2. Ed "forgot" to pick up his mother's arthritis prescription so he substituted a few aspirin tablets. What's the difference, the old hag was probably faking her pain anyway just so Ed would live at home and wait on her hand and foot. Anyway, he "forgot" she was allergic to aspirin, so her death was . . . unintended.

3. Agnes didn't intend to fall in love with a Jewish guy; it just happened. She can't tell her parents; they'd disown her. But a lifetime without Fred Weinberg would be a lifetime of sorrow. On the other hand, Fred might expect her to give up bacon.

4. When Casey Montieth missed her archery target in gym, she didn't see the black form emerging from a hole in the field. Now all Hell has really broken loose.

5. For 24 years Dalton Abernathy has struggled to break into literary fiction. His friend accidentally submits some of Dalton's disjointed, mangled, notes from a half-dozen projects to an agent. Now he has a bestseller on his hands, a Pulitzer nomination, and loads of adoring fans.

6. Two weeks before her wedding to rich hunk Bruce, Sylvia discovers him boffing her sister, the maiden of honor. So Sylvia and her friends trick him into a fling with a mob boss's trophy wife. And Sylvia’s intended becomes her unintended.

Original Version

Ag Kelly is a young, flirty flapper who has finally found a [fetching fellow] man who can [fling a frisbee forty furlongs.] deliver a passionate kiss. It's a shame she has to keep it a secret. [If the one thing she was looking for in a man is talent at kissing, she seems kind of shallow.]

Ag's life is easier when she keeps [hides] her late night shenanigans away from her strict Catholic family. Even though they have grown used to her rolled stockings and bobbed hair, they will [would] never understand what she is doing now. This innocent summer crush is just one more defiant act best kept under wraps, [That's pretty much what you said two sentences ago.] and with good reason. It was never supposed to go this far. [That seems contradictory. Is it an innocent summer crush or not? How about: What began as an innocent summer crush has gone way too far.] Despite her attempts to keep Fred Weinberg at arm's length, she is totally unprepared for the intense attraction she feels for him. It's absurd, not to mention sinful.  The desire is mutual and grows quickly into an [a] once-in-a-lifetime love affair. The fact he is Jewish makes matters worse. [That's a long paragraph with a little information. Here it is in one sentence: Ag's strict Catholic family would freak out if they knew she'd fallen madly in love with a guy named Fred Weinberg.]

She tries to deny it. [But there's no getting around it; he's Jewish.] He tries to stop it. She counts the days until a new job takes him away, but now he wants her to leave town with him. She would have to disappear, never to see her family again. She'd be disowned if they found out, not to mention the condemnation that surely would follow. [Once you've been disowned, does it matter what follows? Also, if she disappears, never to see her family again, does it matter if they then disown her?] But ending it would mean giving up her true love in exchange for a lifetime of sorrow. The fear of making the right choice gnaws at her gut [even more than the fear of making the wrong choice] as she struggles to find a way to combine their worlds. [Tough choice. A lifetime of happiness with your one true love or a lifetime of sorrow with the bigots you blame for costing you a lifetime of happiness.]

Either way, she will have to pay for what she has done. [You haven't told us anything that happens in this book other than Fred and Ag fall in love. We need a plot.]

UNINTENDED is a historical romance novel complete at 130,000 words. It is my first novel. I have a Bachelor's degree in English and work in the pharmaceutical industry writing medical and clinical research manuscripts. [Wait, are you the one who writes those two-page, tiny-print side-effects warnings that accompany advertisements for drugs? I can see how it would be frustrating to write that stuff and know no one will ever read it. I'd be tempted to stick a few lies in the middle of page 2, like "Has been shown to cause Ebola virus in most patients," just for laughs. Try it, I guarantee no one will ever see it.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


It's wordy and repetitive and it's all setup. Here's my character, and here's her seemingly hopeless situation. All of that can be condensed into one three-sentence paragraph. Leaving lots of room to tell us what happens. I assume she doesn't spend 125,000 words making her choice. And that the choice she makes leads to interesting consequences.

That's a pretty long book. If you can cut it down to about 75,000 words without taking out anything important, as I suspect you can, you'll have a better chance of selling it.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Face-Lift 1159

Guess the Plot

The Adventures of Parker Rhodes

1. When an alien comes to Earth, proclaims itself the sole ruler of the universe, and releases a pack of dog-like creatures who try to eliminate all human life, it's up to teenager Parker Rhodes to send the megalomaniac packing.

2. Fighter pilot, concert pianist, dashing spy and gifted surgeon. Not to mention sexual athlete. Postal worker Parker Rhodes sits on his enormous behind all day and dreams of adventures.

3. In this modern-day retelling of Huck Finn. Parker is a runaway fleeing the meth-dealing pimps who want her in their stable. Jim, a fellow runaway and sometime boy-toy, befriends her. They learn life on the streets sucks.

4. Instead of stealing his best friend's dad's car, singing "Twist and Shout" on a Von Steuben Day parade float, and catching a foul ball at Wrigley Field, Parker wants to amp it up. Nobody's going to remember Ferris Bueller after Parker Rhodes's day off.

5. Yessir, being a valet at Pigeon Forge is tougher than Uncle Sammy's steak, but someone's got to do it. And when your Mom named you for where you were conceived, you know a life of adventure parking cars is yours for the taking.

6. Parker Rhodes is a little gray mouse
Who lives in the walls of a little pink house
He rides on the back of a poodle named Boo
And they have to hide from the cat Ahh-Choo

Parker goes on hunts for things
Like chocolate, bread, and diamond rings
He brings his finds to his hidden lair
But will Ahh-Choo ever catch him there?

Original Version

My 60,000 word novel, The Adventures of Parker Rhodes, is a young -adult sci-fi/fantasy book that follows a teenage boy on his journey to saving the world and becoming a hero in the process.

Parker Rhodes is a 14 year old boy from the small town of Wakesville, MD who is having one of the best days of his life. He just got accepted into the high school of his dreams and had an encounter with Danielle Rochester, a girl he has had a crush on since the 6th grade, but soon the day would take a turn for the worse. Upon returning home to deliver the good news to his mother,

[Parker: Guess what, Mom? I've got great news!

Mom: What is it?

Parker: I got laid by Danielle Rochester!

Mom: This calls for a celebration!]

Dorothy Rhodes, Parker is shocked to learn from the local news that the alien had [has] returned.

Parker lives in a world where aliens are old news, and widely adored. [Then why was Parker shocked to learn that some alien was back?] Three years prior an alien, which had been dubbed the Omega, crash-landed on earth [As you capitalize "Earth" everywhere else, may as well do so here.] and took the human race by surprise. [If this is a world where aliens are old news and widely adored, why are we all so surprised when an alien shows up?] During its stay, the Omega gained worldwide fame and acceptance, becoming the Earth’s biggest celebrity while its ship was being repaired, learning Earths [Earth's] languages and paying close attention to all of earth’s strengths and more importantly its weaknesses. Soon it was time for the Omega to return to space. After a huge event in the small town of Wakesville, MD, the Omega disappeared into the stars and also from the memory of man-kind. [mankind] [Three years after it was our biggest celebrity we don't even remember it? Who is it, Lady Gaga?] [If this is a world where aliens are widely adored, it's hard to believe we've forgotten our favorite alien ever. I still remember My Favorite Martian after 50 years.]

Now the Omega has returned, and is promptly greeted with open arms and adoration by earth’s inhabitants’ [inhabitants] and the Vice President. [Do we now remember the Omega, or do we think it's a new alien?] That is until the Omega turns on the human race by proclaiming itself as the sole ruler of the Universe, killing the Vice President [Anyone who spent three years studying us ought to know that our reaction to the killing of the vice president would be a lot of yawning.] and detonating a bomb, destroying the small town of Wakesville, MD. The Omega releases a pack of dog-like alien creatures from its space ship which attempt to eliminate all human life on the planet. [That would have to be a pretty big space ship if it holds enough of these creatures to wipe out all seven billion of us.]

Parker manages to survive the detonation of the bomb by hiding out in the basement of his home, but quickly discovers his mother is missing and fears she has been captured. A small band of military personal, [personnel] led by General Carter, also manage to escape the devastation of the bomb but are rendered helpless as it seems the aliens are unaffected by Earth’s weapons. Now Parker on a mission to find his mom, must team up with General Carter and his men to find the aliens [aliens'] weakness. The secret of the aliens’ defeat, an allergy to phthalate[comma] an ingredient found commonly in children’s toys, is discovered with the help of [when] Billy, a five year old boy dressed as a Wild West sheriff and separated from his parents, when he shoots his toy six shooter and surprisingly kills one of the aliens. The tide of the invasion turns in favor of earth as [Earth's militaries arm themselves with pop guns, spud guns, and Super Soakers, and] most of the aliens fall. The Omega, showing off its super human strength and speed, still prove [proves] to be too much for Earths [Earth's] heroes until a shot meant for the Omega hits Parker as well, a mistake that could have taken Parkers [Parker's] life but instead gives him the same powers as the Omega and proves to be the key to overcoming the alien threat and driving the Omega from the Earth. With Parkers’ [Parker's] new found powers, he now stands as Earths [Earth's] best hope to defeat the invaders if they ever decide to return, that is if he can learn to control them first.

I am a first time writer, but this is a story that is three-years in the making. [Coincidentally, it's three years since the alien first arrived here. Is this a true story?] Over time this story has grown, along with my imagination and has evolved from a game I played as a kid to a world all its own. [I used to play hide and seek as a kid, a pastime that evolved into my book Where's Evil Editor? Sort of like Where's Waldo?, but more challenging, as I don't wear a red and white striped shirt in every picture so you have to look for my muttonchops.] This is the first in a series which takes the protagonist across the universe [How long does it take him to get across the universe?] and follows the growth of a hero. My hope is that this book takes you on the same journey as I have taken, filled with wonder about the fate of the world and the hope that a young boy has to save it.

Thanks for your consideration.


First of all, this is not going to appeal to a young adult audience. I'm thinking 8 to 10 years old.

Secondly, there are way too many errors, especially with apostrophes. One assumes the entire book is filled with missing or misplaced apostrophes.

Wouldn't the sole ruler of the universe have better things to do than wipe out humans?  Doesn't he have billions of galaxies to tend to?

Did the shot meant for the Omega that also hit Parker come from a toy gun? Why would a toy gun give Parker super powers? How could a toy gun have taken Parker's life? If it's not a toy, why were we shooting it at the alien, when we've already figured out that only toy guns can kill it? If you're going to release creatures capable of wiping out all human life, what's the point of first killing the vice president or of blowing up Wakesville? Why would General Carter team up with a 14-year-old kid to find the aliens' weakness? Hard to believe no weapon known to our military has any effect on a dog-like creature. Readers expect logical explanations for everything that happens. Do you have them?

The query is too long as it is, so better to leave out what you haven't explained than to try to explain it all.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Face-Lift 1158

Guess the Plot


1. Poodle Millie, Labrador Duke and Pug Willie stage a daring escape from the vet when they learn that they aren't there to be tutored.

2. Average guy Daniel Travers is abducted and taken to a secret military facility in New Mexico where his life becomes a nightmare of pain and fear as a mad doctor performs unethical experiments on him and the Taliban.

3. A mysterious talisman gives Renee the ability to go back in time by one minute and alter very recent history. She now always has the wittiest come-back, and the casino is her oyster... but who'd have thought creating so many alternative histories would upset the fabric of time-space so badly that the universe is now unstable?

4. Broadway seamstress Pippa was sure she'd hidden every unseemly detail. But when a wardrobe malfunction in Charlie Buckles' costume reveals his gill plates, the audience--and the world--learn the shocking truth.

5. After a magical accident gives the dogs of Menifee County, Kentucky advanced cognitive skills, opposable thumbs, and a thirst for revenge, veterinarian Frank Wallace must run for his life. Or, not his life, exactly, but...

6. Detective John Bostic knew his faith was being tested when the Captain assigned him to his third religious murder in as many weeks. In every case the corpse was butchered, reassembled to look like a cubist Picasso painting and left on an altar. The pastor of the Tenth Church of Christ has blood on his hands and Bostic must prove his guilt before someone else is . . . altered.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

A military facility hidden away in New Mexico is doing some highly unethical research on POW's from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

[Sergeant: We've captured so many Taliban we're running out of places to put them, sir. Should we kill them and bury them in a mass grave?

Captain: No, we're also running out of places to put mass graves. Besides, I've just received word that a facility in New Mexico doing highly unethical research needs subjects for their experiments. How many troop transport planes can we commandeer?]

Things go from bad to much worse when the doctor heading up the research arranges to have a US citizen abducted. [Bad: Highly unethical research on Iraqi and Afghan subjects. Much worse: Abducting one US citizen.]

Daniel Travers is just your average guy trying to provide for his family until he unknowingly lands on the radar of the wrong people. Somewhere deep in his genetic code Daniel is blessed with the ability to heal faster and more completely than humanly possible [Either it is humanly possible, or Daniel isn't human.] and that's exactly what Dr. Steven Reynolds needed to be able to take the next step in his research. [If what you need to take the next step in your research is someone who heals faster than humanly possible, and such a person suddenly turns up, I suggest you immediately buy a lottery ticket.]

Willing to sacrifice anyone for the success of his project, Dr. Reynolds arranges for the abduction of Daniel. [He arranged this in the 2nd sentence. Two paragraphs later he's still arranging it?] From that point Daniel's life becomes a nightmare of pain and fear.

Daniel desperately tries to escape and get back to his family but the cost is more than he can bear. [What is the cost?] Because of that, when he is later offered help, he almost turns it down in fear of what would happen if things go wrong again. [This is our hero? Afraid to try to escape because things might go wrong?]

Altered is a suspense thriller, with a science fiction twist, complete at 70,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration


Apparently you don't care to reveal the nature of Dr. Reynolds' project, but without that information it's impossible for us to get even mildly interested in the story.

It's all setup and it's mostly vague. We can condense the entire query into: Daniel Travers, blessed with superhuman healing genes, is abducted by a doctor who needs Daniel in order to complete a secret project. If you expand on that by telling us what the doctor is up to, what happens if he succeeds, and what Daniel plans to do about it, you might interest us. Right now, the main character is doing nothing and you don't tell us what the villain is doing.

If Reynolds is willing to sacrifice anyone, wouldn't it be easier to abduct a few illegal aliens from Santa Fe than to have the military transport POWs from Iraq and Afghanistan to New Mexico?

How does Reynolds know Travers heals really fast?