Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Face-Lift 1256

Guess the Plot

These Wicked Waters

1. When Annie takes a summer job scrubbing toilets, she never dreams she'll soon be fighting for her life against cannibalistic sea-women. Also, a lifeguard with no fashion sense.

2. Ralph owns an independent toilet store that's losing business to the new Sears across the street.Thursday night, as he's shining his showroom, a genie pops out of a toilet. Will Ralph say the right thing to save his store, or will the clever genie just confuse him?

3. When toilets all over Los Angeles start backing up, ace detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, yet another murderer has tried to get rid of a dead body by flushing it; and two, he'd better get around to installing that bidet he bought his wife for their anniversary.

4. Hired to prove or debunk the legends of the Loch Ness monster, Jake Matthews puts together a team of scientists and heads for Scotland. He's expecting the "mission" to become a relaxing vacation . . . until three members of his team vanish.

5. The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true…or is it the flagon with the dragon? But which witch ordered which? Bartending for the Association of Wicked Witches can be a curse. 

6. Six people have drowned in Rainbow River this year. Some say it's the unpredictable current, but detective Carrie Barnes thinks it's the work of a serial killer, a serial killer she has dubbed . . . the Plunger.

Original Version

Dear EE:

A summer scrubbing toilets at an island resort wasn’t part of seventeen-year-old Annie Mayfield’s plan. [But it had to be better than her other option, counselor at a middle-grade girls' camp.] [I'm pretty sure a summer scrubbing toilets isn't part of anyone's plan. Maybe you should mention why she ends up doing it. Is it a punishment? Did she lose all her money? Is she performing a modern-day reenactment of the 12 labors of Hercules?] Then again, neither was sneaking out for a rock climb and tripping over the weathered remains of a human skeleton. Only, tagging the bones “human” is a whale-sized fib.

Humans don’t have tails. [Could it be the skeleton of a small giant sloth? Does anyone suggest it's a small giant sloth? Not sure why the authorities would claim that a small giant sloth skeleton was human, unless they're afraid that revealing it's a small giant sloth skeleton will kill the tourism industry. Or start a panic among the locals.] [Also, you don't gain anything by making this sentence a separate paragraph.]

Days after Annie’s discovery, a guest’s bloated body washes up on shore. Evidence points to an accidental drowning—except for a too-wide grin splitting the man’s face. Death by suffocation isn’t exactly “say cheese!” territory. [You're saying that it's murder because it's unlikely the dead man was having his photograph taken when he drowned? Or are you saying that he was having his photograph taken, and that this somehow proves the drowning wasn't accidental?]

The Greek Intelligence Service invades. [Is "invades" the right word? I'd go with "steps in."] [Also, isn't "Greek Intelligence Service" an oxymoron? Ba Dum Ching!] Annie knows the agency’s suspect pool is only ankle deep—make-believe sea-women left uninvestigated [I can't tell if you're saying that their suspect pool consists entirely of uninvestigated make-believe sea-women, or that they foolishly aren't investigating make-believe sea-women.] [Neither interpretation makes a lot of sense.] [We could save a lot of space by calling them mermaids instead of make-believe sea-women.]—but she keeps her lips zipped and pursues leads of her own. [Is she trying to solve the murder or identify the skeletal remains? Is there a connection between the two? Why is she pursuing leads?] 

While scavenging the island for mythological clues,

[Examples of mythological clues:

1. Minotaur hoofprints.

2. Poseidon's trident.
3. Blood containing the DNA of a goat boy.
4. Centaur hairs.
5. Ichor spatter.
6. Aphrodite's Magic Girdle.]

Annie rescues a siren tangled in construction netting. The sea-woman’s “thank you” translates as a warning: the others are coming. And they’re hungry. [The other make-believe sea-women? Are they make-believe cannibal sea-women?] [This sounds more like a job for Aquaman.]

No way will Annie surrender as a siren’s appetizer. [When you're on something's menu, it doesn't care whether you surrender.] With the help of her veteran amputee sister, a fashion-backward lifeguard, [Is this a comedy?] and lots of gun-slinging luck, [Not clear why the adjective "gun-slinging" has been inserted.] Annie might survive the summer—with one heck of a back-to-school story. 

[Outline of Annie's essay "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" 

I. Scrubbed about 10,000 toilets.
    A. Ouzo kills germs better than Lysol & tastes better.
    B. Greek men are soooo disgusting.
II. Pushed my sister's friggin wheelchair all over creation.
    A. Carrying all her crap.
    B. How about getting some Oscar Pistorius blades, Erica.
III. Fabulously wicked affair with Eros makes up for 
       otherwise miserable summer.]

Complete at 63,000 words, THESE WICKED WATERS is a young adult novel with a sprinkling of light thriller thrown in. [When you find a mutated human's remains, investigate a murder, and escape being eaten by cannibalistic mermaids, I wouldn't call it a sprinkling of light thriller. Either call it a YA thriller, or cut back on the thrills and build up the romance with the lifeguard.] Fans of STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini and DEADLY COOL by Gemma Halliday will enjoy the Grecian [Greek] myths entwined with sassy sleuthing. Thank you for your time.


Possibly dining on a human being doesn't make you a cannibal if you aren't technically a human being yourself. Although a mermaid dining on Aquaman probably is cannibalism.

The voice is good for a YA novel, especially if it's similar to the voice in the book. However, you can't afford to sacrifice clarity. There are two or three places where it's not clear what you mean.

Also, try to limit yourself to three sentences of setup. The plot starts when Annie decides to investigate. More about what happens after that. Is the siren the only mythological creature in the book? If there are lots of others, that's worth mentioning in the query.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Big News!

I've sold the film rights to The Evil Editor Story.

I have no control over who's cast, but if you guys will make suggestions (in the comments) for who should play Evil Editor, Mrs. Varmighan, John Grisham, and Erick, the strange angelic man, I'll pass them along to the producer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Face-Lift 1256

Guess the Plot

Jade Snow

1. Kids living near the Fraklya Dragon Farm quickly learn to never eat the jade snow.

2. A fun and fact-filled book of what to eat to turn your bodily excretions every color of the rainbow. Also contains useful tips on vitamin disorders, hard to diagnose medical conditions, and ways to remove stains.

3. Jade Snow has aspirations to rise through the ranks and make something of herself, possibly attaining the exalted position of palace slave. When she saves the life of a visiting dignitary will that help her cause . . . or doom it?

4. Agent 005982 must carry out her first assignment by going undercover as a dancer in a Las Vegas gentlemen's club. Does Jade Snow have the courage to earn the respect of her male colleagues by taking down one of Russia's most dangerous spies, and in a bikini?

5. Elsa and Anna have a new money making scheme. Elsa makes the snow, Anna trades it for jade. When Hans intercepts the latest buy, all Arendelle takes the heat. Drug running for jewels, Disney style.

6. When chef Sal finds a dead green-skinned alien in the back alley of his restaurant, he thinks it might be an opportunity to spice up his menu. His green ice-cream, known as Jade Snow, is an immediate success. If only people would stop complaining about developing extra limbs…

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

The Jade Palace is all Xue has ever known. [I don't know if her name is Xue, but my waitress at The Jade Palace doesn't even bring me a menu because she knows I always order wonton soup and Noble Chicken and Shrimp. That's the kind of service that earns her an extra 2.5 percent on her tip.] At sixteen, she’s finally ready for the formal entrance exams — if she passes, she will exchange her white apprentice gowns for the colours of her new Bureau and be a palace slave at last, [When the next rung on your chosen career ladder is slave, you started too low.] with a monthly stipend, a chance to rise through the ranks, and honour for her family. [Just as westerners take pride in their first family member to go to college, Xue's family takes pride in their first member to reach the exalted position of slave.] [I wonder if my waitress considers herself a Jade Palace slave.]

But what does family honour mean to an orphan? [Nothing, so let's not even ask the question.] Xue has her eyes fixed firmly on the Plan: pass the exams, enter the Needlework Bureau, one day embroider gowns for the empress herself. [Sadly, when Julia Roberts walks the red carpet on Oscars night, they announce the name of her gown's designer, not of the slave who did the needlework.] Her twin brother, Wen, has similar ideas; passing the exams is his only chance at one day being a court physician. [Basically, they'll both be tested on their talent with stitches. Ba dum ching.] 

Then everything changes. The day before the exam, Empress Qi returns to the Jade Isles with a strange guest. As part of the treaty the empress has just brokered with the remote kingdom of Hawksfell, Beorn Broadaxe, the king’s son and war-chief in his own right, has come to train the empress’s personal guard.

The court seethes with rumour and suspicion — it is said that Hawksfell remains mired in magic, which is outlawed in the Isles on pain of death. [Which explains why David Copperfield has never performed in the Jade Isles.] Why would Empress Qi, renowned for stamping out the magic bloodlines once and for all, make such an ally?

And why has Xue, of all people, become tangled up in all this intrigue? For when Beorn is poisoned at his welcome feast and goes into a coma, his lieutenant Aesa seems to think that Xue can save him… With magic. The Hawksmen call a person's magic their fairing, and Aesa’s works like this: she can identify magic in others, and she has seen that Xue has a healing fairing. [A glance ahead reveals that we're not half finished, yet we've already reached the upper limit of query length and forged onward into forbidden synopsis length. Perhaps we should reduce what we've covered so far to:

The day before seamstress Xue is to take the formal entrance exams in hopes of achieving the honored rank of palace slave, Beorn Broadaxe, a visiting dignitary from Hawksfell, is poisoned. Broadaxe's lieutenant, Aesa, has the ability to recognize magical powers in others, and identifies Xue as a healer who could save Broadaxe's life. Too bad Empress Qi has outlawed magic on the Jade Isles.]

When she kidnaps Xue and successfully forces her fairing to emerge, Xue is thrust into a world to which she cannot belong, facing questions she cannot answer — who are her parents? Does Wen have magic too? How long can she keep this a secret?

It turns out she can’t. The truth was bound to come out.

The empress sends her right-hand man, the [brutal] eunuch JianGuo, after her; with no good options, Xue flees for Hawksfell with Beorn and Aesa, who are now wary of their Jadite hosts. She doesn’t say goodbye to Wen. She doesn’t look back.

But when Beorn sends spies to the Jade Isles to investigate the attempted poisoning, they bring back disturbing whispers… JianGuo has taken Wen as an apprentice, something he has never done. Empress Qi still wants Xue. [For what?] And Beorn’s father has taken the treaty further and agreed to go to war against the Askivan empire, the biggest threat to the Jade empire, throwing Hawksfell’s lot in with the Jadite army.

[2nd paragraph:

Aesa kidnaps Xue and trains her to use her healing power. Although she is able to save Beorn, in the eyes of Empress Qi, Xue is now a criminal; she flees for Hawksfell with Beorn and Aesa. The empress wants Xue back, and uses Xue's twin brother Wen as leverage.

Wary of JianGuo’s motives and fearing for her brother, Xue wants to return to the Isles and give herself up in exchange for Wen. Having trained and developed her fairing under Hawksmen tutelage, she signs on to the king’s army as a healer in order to make the journey without suspicion. [Seems to me there'll be a lot more suspicion if she shows up with an army than if she shows up alone.] This drives a rift between Beorn and herself; the war-chief, whom she has come to care for, believes that everything the empress is doing is a trap, and refuses to lead the small army he commands into war.

Even Aesa tries to stop her from going, sharing Beorn’s belief that it is precisely what Empress Qi wants — but having abandoned Wen once, Xue cannot abandon him again. [If Xue simply decides to go back to trade herself for Wen, then I don't see how the others can think it's a trap. The empress doesn't even know Xue is coming. If the empress offered to trade Wen for Xue, we need to know that.] She leaves for the Jade Isles with the king’s army. But what will she find? Answers and secrets, but none the ones she’d wanted…


Refusing to abandon her brother a second time, Xue agrees to return to the Isles and give herself up in exchange for Wen's freedom. But Beorn, whom she has come to care for, believes it's a trap, that the empress cannot be trusted to free Wen. Even Aesa tries to stop her from going. But Xue is not to be dissuaded, for while she may never reach the lofty goal of slave, if she can free Wen, at least he might go on to create a successful hair products line.]

Complete at 85 000 words, Jade Snow is a YA fantasy novel that stands alone, but has potential to expand into a series.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

*The title is a translation of the protagonist's name, YùXuĕ.


Possibly the information I chose to include in my three paragraphs isn't what you would have  chosen, but if you can get it down to that length you'll have a much tighter query. Focus on Xue; we don't care about the politics and armies.

I feel Xue should have a goal of rescuing Wen rather than giving herself up.

Now that Wen is JianGuo's apprentice, does he go with JianGuo in pursuit of Xue? Also, what are the duties of a eunuch's apprentice? Does a eunuch's apprentice have to become a eunuch? Because it seems like that would reduce the field of applicants.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Beginning 1044

Annie rushed down the stairs. She was ten minutes late and would only have time for one cup of tea before she started her duties. She had slept badly, tossing and turning most of the night. Images kept flashing through her mind none of which she could decode. When May reached down and shook her awake it had felt like she had only slept a few minutes. It had taken all of the strength she had to pull herself out of bed and she had wasted all of her time trying to wake herself up. Now she was going to pay the price for it.

"I poured you a cup," May told her when she came into the kitchen. "Thank you, May. You are a dear," she said gratefully as she sat down and took a sip. The tea had cooled enough for her to down the rest of the cup. She sat for a tick waiting for the effects to take hold then reluctantly got up to take the tray of tea that May had prepared up to the housekeeper.

The tea was starting to work its charms by the time she came back down the stair . She went towards the drawing room to pull back the drapes when she saw him lying on the floor in a pool of vomit. She jerked back and tried to call for May to help her but her words came out as a high pitched shriek

May bustled into the room. "What is it, dear?"

"''s..." The words would not come.

"Oh, him again." She went to the prostrate man. "Help me roll him over, will you?"

"But he's..."

"No, he isn't dead. Just drank too much again."

Annie hauled the man onto his side. His breathing came easier and his color returned. "Why did this happen?"

May shook her head. "I keep telling Mr Grisham not to read EE's reviews of his books, but he never listens. Come on, now. We have to get to dusting."

Opening: Kat33.....Continuation: khazarkhum

Saturday, April 18, 2015

When Cartoon Characters Infiltrate Fake Plots

Tired of chasing the uncatchable roadrunner and enduring mishaps that ought to have killed him a hundred times over, Wile E reviews his tactics and settles for easier prey: naïve Route 66 tourists.

When Lois tells Superman that his name is kind of egotistical-sounding, he decides to come up with something that still expresses his magnificence, but more subtly: The Transcendent.

There's also George. And Judy. And Rosie and Elroy and Astro. What I'm saying is that the Jetson family is not . . . Just Jane.

When Elmer Fudd decides to become a major player in the South American slave trade, he discovers his biggest competitor is none other than Bugs Bunny. Not content to let that wabbit spoil another one of his pwomising enterpwises, Elmer dukes it out with Bugs in a series of madcap antics, until they finally settle their diffewences and agwee to go into business together. Now they just have to find a way to wound up those wascally Bazillions.

Ever since Priscilla opened her diner, she’s had her doubts about the name. Selling eggs and sausage to truckers at one in the morning is tricky business, but she never expected her place to become the new hot spot for roadrunners. And who sent her the huge Acme brand anvil?

The ghost of Al Capone returns to 1960s Chicago and wreaks havoc on the city's hippy counterculture. Ultimately prohibited from committing any worldly sin, Capone is consumed by a hatred of Bohemianism bordering on the fanatical. Only Shaggy and Scooby can stop his nefarious plans to exorcise the desire for pleasure from the human spirit. 

In a Disney World restaurant Dave witnesses a customer's complaint that the chicken hasn't appeared, by which he means Donald Duck isn't on the scene. Realizing something should be done about ignorant and obnoxious theme park patrons, Dave complains to Mickey Mouse. But Mickey just calls him a butthead.

Somebody dropped a safe on Jerry's tiny little head and Tom wants to know who. Can Kojak crack the case in time to save Wile E. Coyote from the same fate? Who Loves Ya Mouse?

A Chicago business tycoon believes his days of struggling for existence are behind him--until he catches a glimpse of his old rival running down a back alley. This time, he swears, things will be different. This time he OWNS the Acme company!

Captain Tisdale wishes he never took the helm on Disney's Bermuda Triangle Line. Mickey's smoking blunts while Donald's tapping Goofy. Chip and Dale have bivouacked in the galley and Pluto thinks he's a cat. Can the stalwart captain pull them from the rift before Snow White begins the striptease, or will every child aboard grow up to become a Pirate of the Caribbean?

When Marge Norge bought her long-abandoned mid-century modern House of the Future, she envisioned a Jetsons life, with herself as Jane in an apron. But the Kitchen of the Future has other plans.

In a land where “superheroes” are ordinary government workers and dorks have superpowers (if you call bringing comic book characters to life a superpower), one man rages. Forgotten and alone after becoming a centenarian, Superman vows that Metropolis will not soon forget the day his wrath was unleashed.

Oh, how positively inviting she looked--that bikini-clad cuckoo that statuesquely stood by the window on W. E. Coyote's porch. All that gave the ploy away was the return address on the discarded packaging that read "Acme Adult Novelties."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Face-Lift 1255

Guess the Plot

Red Skies Take Warning

1. Six years after the last bomb fell, survivors slowly exit their hideaways to see if it's safe to come out. It probably isn't, but in this latest dystopian kid's book, it won't matter . . . if you can prove it was all just an illusion or game or some other BS.

2. For the denizens of Club Nitro, morning brings pain, revulsion, and the ugly reality of another day teaching at Jackson High.

3. On a water-covered planet, the dread pirate Solokov attacks a ship and kills everyone aboard except one seamstress, who he needs to repair his sails. Will he fall in love with her or will she lead his crew in mutiny?

4. They say "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning." And this was never so true as it is for the crew of the Bluster when they come on deck in the morning to find themselves under attack by millions of cardinals.

5. On a planet where the sky is red and the oceans are yellow . . . Wait, it's Earth! After a nuclear war! Help! We're all gonna die!

6. As the sun sets over the ocean, Marge tells her husband Bob to check out the gorgeous red sky. He glances up, then goes back to his newspaper. And it dawns on Marge that a divorce would have been a better solution to her troubles than a Hawaii vacation.

Original Version

Dear Agent X,

The morning Serafina Berenofsky [Anagram: baroness faery knife] spots the Crimson Orchid’s flag on the horizon, [Italicize ship names.] a slaughter is promised to follow—at least if the tales hold any truth. [Wait, do the tales mention a baroness who acquires a faery knife with which she slaughters people? Because if so, that's either an incredible coincidence or I should have given a spoiler alert.] [I don't like "promised." You could just say "certain" since that's what the tales say. Or you could go with "prophesied." Also, you could change "at least if the tales hold any truth" to "if the tales are true." You could even stick an adjective in front of "tales" like "witch's" or "ancient" or "fortune-telling goose's."]

She thought she’d left trouble behind the day she abandoned sub-life for a chance to feel the sun on her skin and glimpse what little land remained after the Great Thaw. [Not sure what sub-life means. Was she living underground? Underwater? On a submarine? Or is sub-life what they call the lower classes?] Even if it meant signing up to [for] a lifetime of servitude aboard an elite-owned ship. [Hard to believe anyone signing up for a lifetime of servitude would think she was leaving trouble behind.] After she spent seven years holding her tongue and avoiding the Madame’s temper, the Crimson Orchid, commandeered by the pirate king Solokov, [Do you mean "commanded" by? "Commandeered" is okay if he attacked it and decided he liked it better than his own, so now sails it, while "commanded" would mean it's his ship. If commandeered is right, I'd go with "recently commandeered." If he commandeered it years ago, it's pretty much his ship now.] sets sights on her home. [What home are we talking about? The one she abandoned? The elite-owned ship?] [Has she now been on the elite-owned ship for seven years or is that how long she was in sub-life? Who is the Madame? Is it a bordello ship? Or is the Madame the captain? Or was the Madame her boss in sub-life?] [You probably think the answers to my questions are obvious, and I'm a total idiot for even asking them. You aren't the first.]

Blood stains the decks, but what haunts her memories more is the echo of Solokov’s executioner’s sword as he sentences every single elite on board. [Is "he" the executioner or Solokov?] As for the servants, most meet the deep. Survival comes first, and though she might sail under his pirate flag, she will remember the day he [Solokov] massacred her makeshift family. [Her "makeshift family" meaning the elites who agreed to give her a glimpse of some land in return for a lifetime of servitude? The way I see it, the dread pirate Solokov rescued her.] Solokov made his greatest mistake in keeping her alive, because even though Serafina Berenovsky’s a mere seamstress, [I see her last name is now spelled with a "v" instead of an "f." That totally screws up my original anagram, but now we can make "brave sea-air inferno." Which actually makes sense considering that "red skies" is part of the title. Spoiler alert: To defeat Solokov, Serafina must brave a sea-air inferno. Possibly she's thinking sub-life wasn't so bad after all.] she won’t stop training and learning every trick they’ll teach until she wields a sword as well as she does a needle. [Why are they teaching her any tricks? That's like a warden equipping his prison with a firing range.] And when that day comes, she will claim her revenge. [You took me from a life of servitude, slaughtered my oppressors, gave me room and board and a job, and trained me in swordsmanship. DIE!]

Red Skies Take Warning is a 90,000 word dystopian science fiction, and the first of a planned series. Thank you for your time and consideration.



This map of what Earth would look like if all the ice above sea level melted indicates that the phrase "what little land remained after the Great Thaw" isn't totally accurate. Coastal areas would be underwater, but it wouldn't be anything like Waterworld. Which can only mean the book is set on a planet other than Earth. 

If little land remains, and Serafina isn't somewhere where she can get a glimpse of it, how does she sign on as a seamstress on the elite ship? Were they recruiting servants in some underwater cave? Where was she that she couldn't feel the sun on her skin, but could board a ship?

We don't have much plot here. Basically, we have: When the pirate Solokov massacres most of her crewmates, and takes seamstress Serafina Berenofsky aboard his ship, she vows to one day get revenge. Treating this as a pirate story, you could open like this:

Serafina Berenofsky thought she’d left her troubles behind when she signed on as a seamstress aboard an elite-owned ship. But the day she sees the Crimson Orchid’s flag on the horizon, she realizes her troubles are just beginning. The pirate king Solokov doesn't take prisoners.

Blood soon stains the decks as Solokov’s executioner dispatches every elite on board. As for the servants, most meet the deep, but Serafina is inexplicably spared and taken aboard the Crimson Orchid.

That leaves plenty of room to tell us how she plans to avenge her makeshift family by leading Solokov's crew in mutiny and then finding the Himalayan Islands, and what goes wrong, and what happens if she fails. I've left out the fact that this is Waterworld, but the original version didn't really show that as relevant. Many pirate stories take place mainly on the water, even on a planet that has lots of land. Plus, if there's little land, how do they find enough fresh water to drink? Or wood for the ship-building industry to replace sunken ships? Or places to trade your pirate booty for eye patches and hooks and peg legs? You don't have room to answer all my questions, so maybe it's best to leave the lack of land out of the query.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Face-Lift 1254

Guess the Plot


1. A complete history of the most recent .002% of planet Earth's existence up until the invention of the Internet.

2. Chancellor Hister plots to dominate the European Empire, by preventing the 12-year-old heir to the throne from aging, thus allowing Hister to remain regent forever. Question for discussion: is it the kid who never ages or the evil chancellor who has lost his . . . humanity?

3. When Tech Barons succeed in getting everything but cheerleading and STEM banned from Stanford, Dr Franzil Shcott decides to wage Internet war to take back her school, one gender studies program at a time.

4. A time traveler visits the great disasters of history to record them on film, adding to each his own voice-over saying "Oh, the humanity!"

5. Inside the building, where thousands had engaged in all acts of sexual depravity, hung the meaty odor of bodily secretions. It wasn’t offensive, but it wasn’t sweet. Is this where Wally, the 43-year-old virgin, finally loses his innocence? 

Original Version

Dear agent,

Edgar Lewis is an heir to the [throne of the] European Empire, a successor state to the European Union. It is 2169 and the Empire’s chancellor, named Hister, has plans to eliminate the people in between Edgar and the throne and dominate the boy’s regency. [The guy who wants to rule Europe is named Hister? Are you aware that with a minor change the name "Hister" becomes . . . Hipster?] Edgar’s stepfather murders his mother and then makes plans to destroy Edgar’s self-esteem in anticipation of a sale to Hister. [A sale of what?] [Also, any good salesman ought to be able to close a deal without destroying a child's self-esteem.] [Also, if your wife gets murdered, you are always suspect #1, so you should be fleeing the empire, not hanging around trying to destroy your stepson's self-esteem.] The Chancellor has a scientist in his pocket that [who] has created nanites to halt aging and plans to use them to keep Edgar from achieving adulthood. By the laws of the Empire, the head[-]of[-]government position will remain open until such time as the heir is physically able to withstand the stress of governing. [Hey, kids handle stress a lot better than most adults. It's more the complexities of governing kids don't get, especially how to use corruption and bribery and blackmail to your advantage.]

After the treatment, Edgar manages to escape to the Empire’s space colonies and is pursued by Marshal Grummer. Unbeknownst to both of them, the Marshal is the boy’s biological father. [Science fiction in which the villain turns out to be the hero's father? Do you reveal this in a sequel called The Empire Strikes Back?] Pursued by the Marshal’s fleet command, Edgar struggles to deal with his new situation and the deep depression the thought that he may never age brings upon him. The chancellor let’s slip information that turns Edgar’s pursuer into an ally, prompting the two to fight their way across the solar system to prevent the chancellor’s assassination attempt. Can they depend on the military to support the rightful heir? Can they, in spite of the law, convince Parliament to accept an [a] juvenile-looking Emperor? Finally, how does a 12 year old who will never age come to terms with the fact he may never marry, never have children?

HUMANITY is a 90,000 word scifi novel that explores issues such as what humanity is and do you lose yours if you can never die of old age. I see series potential with this novel, but I have other universes to explore as well.

I thank you for your time and consideration


I feel that the intriguing issue of immortality's drawbacks may get pushed aside when the main characters start fighting their way across the solar system. Feels like two different kinds of science fiction competing for attention. Possibly that's just me.

It seems to me that if Hister simply offered Edgar a treatment that would prevent him from getting old and dying, Edgar would go along instead of escaping into space. Or tell him the treatment prevents disease. Why tell him whatever he tells him that makes Edgar feel he must escape? Is Edgar a prisoner when he escapes? If so, how is the chancellor getting away with holding the heir prisoner?

If Edgar's biological father is not who they thought was his biological father, is Edgar still the rightful heir? I mean, would Henry VIII have succeeded Henry VII if Henry VIII's biological father were actually Marshal Grummer? Who knows that Grummer is the father? Where does this Grummer dude get off hitting the sheets with the queen?

Who is Hister trying to assassinate? I don't see what he gains by assassinating Edgar or Grummer. Besides, a trip across the solar system and back would take so long, the political situation on Earth would probably have changed drastically when you got back. Like, you chase Edgar to Neptune, assassinate him, and return to Earth to find that the European Empire is now part of the 3rd Ming Dynasty. 

If I've got a scientist in my pocket who has cured aging, the first thing he's doing is treating me. Then we're marketing the treatment to billionaires until I've cornered the world market on money. Then I'll buy Europe, evict the French, and make the whole empire my summer home.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Face-Lift 1253

Guess the Plot

Danger in the Darkness

1. When Lyle takes his date to the carnival and talks her into going on the Tunnel of Love ride with him, he has no idea the exit has been locked and the ride's been stocked with hungry lions and crocodiles.

2. The heart-pounding story of one man's search for an outdoor latrine during the Great Northeast Blackout.

3. 12 year old Amarosa is short, fat, and the smartest girl in her class. When the teacher's beloved baseball trophy is stolen, Amarosa organizes an all-sixth grade detective team to find the culprit. But is there more to this than a simple theft?

4. When 17 year old Kaisley buys her reclusive neighbor's black horse, she's delighted to learn he's really Danger in the Darkness, a one time world champion Tennessee Walking Horse. With show season fast approaching, can Kaisley and the old man return Danger to his former glory?

5. Detective Jennie Carlson asks Zachariah Sinclair to assist in finding the person who's been killing young women and leaving their bodies in a dark alley at night. Will Jennie wish she'd left the investigation to her own team when she finds out that Sinclair is actually a creature of the night who feasts on the blood of innocents?

6. Bats. Honey badgers. Coyotes. Wolfmen. Cougars. Cat burglars. Mink. Owls. Drunk drivers. Dracula. Revenge-seeking ghosts. Ocelots. Skeletons.

Original Version

When the bodies of young women begin turning up in the alleyway behind local bars, detective Jennie Carlson and her team are called in to investigate. [Jennie suspects foul play, until the coroner reports that the women all died because their bodies had no blood. And you can't live without blood.] [Is "called in" the right term? If they're police, they would be assigned. They wouldn't be sitting around on call, waiting for their next mission.]

The small New England town is rocked by the murders and want answers. [It's a rare alleyway behind a bar that doesn't produce a few bodies every week; how do they know these women were murdered? Was the cause of death the same in each case?] [Also, if corpses are filling the alleyway in my town, It's not answers I'm looking for; I'm looking for The Avengers.] Who would want to hurt these innocent women? [Serial killers. Obviously.] Zachariah Sinclair thinks he knows who the culprit is. [Change his name to Zach Martinez. And report that he knows two things: the dead women didn't commit suicide, and if he doesn't bring home a bottle of Lagavulin, his wife will drain his blood.] The problem? Zachariah harbors a dangerous secret: he is a creature of the night who feasts on the blood of innocents. [I can see how he would want to keep that to himself if the dead women had puncture wounds on their necks and no blood. Otherwise, what's the problem?] He believes the culprit to be the vampire who, over a hundred years ago, murdered his [Zachariah's] fiancée and made him what he is. Zachariah wants to know why he is back and wreaking havoc on the small town. [That's the difference between the cops and bloodthirsty creatures of the night. The cops prefer to stop the killing first and then worry about whether the killer has a reasonable explanation. Your characters seem more interested in information than in safety.]

Determined to bring the killer to justice Jennie turns to Zachariah for help. [Why does she turn to him? Does she know his secret?] The sexual attraction is undeniable and she finds herself tumbling headlong into a dangerous love affair. [Some women are attracted to older men, but a hundred years older is way up on the Ewww Scale.] As the body count rises, the passion between them mounts and the flame of their desire is ignited. [Or, to put it another way: As the passion between them is ignited and the flame of their desire rises, the body count mounts.] When a scorned lover plots to get Zachariah back [Do you mean win him back or get back at him?] the intimate world he and Jennie created crashes down around them and their love is put to the test. [What happened to the old vampire? Suddenly we've switched to this scorned lover as the villain?]

With Jennie’s life hanging in the balance Zachariah must make the ultimate sacrifice to save the woman he loves or risk losing her forever. [The term "ultimate sacrifice" is generally accepted to mean death. If you mean something other than he must kill himself, spell out what he must do, instead of calling it that.]

DANGER IN THE DARKNESS, book one of a trilogy, is a 107,00 [107,000-] word erotic fiction novel. [No need to describe a novel as fiction.] This is my first novel.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.



I would give the old vampire a name.

We need to know why a detective with her own team is consulting Zachariah. What makes Jennie think he brings anything to the table? Who is he to her?

If the main goal is stopping the old vampire from killing again, focus on that. The scorned lover sounds like a subplot.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Like These Book Covers

I just submitted a link at Not sure how it works, but I think if you go there and search for If Kids Designed the Covers of Classic Booksyou should be able to find your way to a compilation of 25 book covers. If you then declare that you like the article, it moves toward the top in popularity, attracting more people, and eventually some of them submit queries and openings for us to ridicule. It could work.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New Beginning 1043

The last day I saw my sister alive, I lost my position. It hadn’t been much of a job, just sweeping out our landlady’s flower shop, but it had paid part of my school fees, and I didn’t look forward to telling Edwina.

“I’ll not have the likes of you working here,” Mrs. Hudson had said loudly, to impress her Protestant customers.

I dawdled on the way home, trying not to drag my foot, stopping to check the names on the neighborhood’s makeshift war memorial. No new names, but I crossed myself, just a quick wave of the hand.

As I turned to cross the street, someone shouted, “Look out!” and I stumbled back to let three students rush by on their bicycles. One of them lost his hat, and I grabbed it up and sailed it after him. The grocer’s horse shied, and the old man shouted at me.

Two years into the war, the university had a dearth of students, only ashamed young men not suited for service and arrogant future officers waiting to be called and sent to the trenches. They were all just as cheeky as ever.

The hat missed its mark, and slicing neatly through the war memorial flew towards Mrs. Hudson's flower shop. It shattered the glass, and cleanly decapitated the old Protestant and her customers. Finally it embedded itself in the grocer's horse, and I retrieved it from the frightened animal.

It seemed I would have to return it to its craven owner myself. Turning it over, I read the name of the cheeky student who so carelessly lost it:

Odd Job.

Opening: Susan Hall-Balduf .....Continuation: khazarkhum