Friday, June 30, 2017

Face-Lift 1359

Guess the Plot

Project: Yggdrasil 

1. Vera Smythe's vacation company takes ultra rich guests on informative tours of each planet of the solar system while fighting off alien-riddled meteors, space pirates, and lawyers. Also, illicit affairs between personnel. 

2. Fascinating tale of the most successful ad campaign ever: How a potent male enhancement drug became a wildly popular brand despite its deadly side effects. Also, a month's supply of condoms.

3. It started as a way to visit alternative realities to live their dream life. But when Alan can't decide which life he prefers, he tries to live all of them at once. He just has to deactivate nine other accounts first.

4. After the failure of Project: Skidbladnir, Vikings perfect their time machine and travel to 21st-century Norway, where they are disappointed to find their land hasn't noticeably progressed in 700 years.

5. A genetically-engineered soldier seeking revenge on those who murdered her family is captured behind enemy lines by people developing a weapon that will end free will. If you want to know what happens after that, you'll have to buy the rest of the series.

6. Oh no! Science Fair projects are due TOMORROW, and there's no way Eddie can get that thing he was going to do about eggs, that he never got around to starting because of baseball, done in time. And he misspells 'eggroll'. Then it hits him: Make up something about an alien world!

Original Version

Morrighan doesn’t know who murdered her family or why. After escaping the massacre, the genetically engineered soldier, born [borne?] from the Yggdrasil project, vows to search for those who survived—and avenge those who didn’t. Fortunately for her, the ability to manipulate metal gives her an edge in a borderline-apocalyptic world where gangs will ambush her for nary [Nary? Who says "nary"?] more than a few scavenged cans of food. [If a gang ambushes me, I'm thrilled if they're just after my cans of food.]

After dodging a traitorous brother who can infiltrate dreams and extract memories, Morrighan goes on to track down a few remaining family members—only to find out that they’d been harboring some serious skeletons in the form of a failed genetic engineering project. Morrighan is enraged by her parents’ secrecy, but realizes that she needs their help tracking down the murderers. [In paragraph 1 we learn that someone murdered Morrighan's family. In paragraph 2 we've encountered her traitorous brother, a few remaining family members, and her parents. Just thought I'd point that out.] Before she can unearth much more, Morrighan discovers that the media has painted her as the criminal responsible for the attack on Helix Labs, [FAKE NEWS!] and is forced to flee.

Now a fugitive, [As we learned one sentence ago.] Morrighan embarks on an intel-gathering mission, during which she and her allies are confronted by the enemy. [She just went on the run and already she has allies and enemies?] Her allies manage to escape, but Morrighan is caught behind enemy lines. In the final scene, she uses her last moments of consciousness to transfer the enemy’s files to her allies—including a blueprint for a weapon that will ultimately result in the death [end?] of free will.

Project: Yggdrasil is the first novel in an action-packed science fiction trilogy aimed at young and new adult audiences that combines elements of dystopia, survival and family-oriented relationships. [Why is there a colon after "Project"? Project Gutenberg and Project Runway don't have colons. Or you could go with The Yggdrasil Project, as in the Mindy/Blair Witch/Manhattan Projects.] Readers of X-Men and Maximum Ride may also enjoy this book. [I prefer "should" over "may also."] [Also, X-Men the comic book? We had a talking cat two queries ago, but the author didn't declare that fans of Sylvester would enjoy the book.] It is complete at about 109,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


It's not clear to me who Morrighan's enemy is. Is it whoever massacred her family? Or is it the people she's fleeing, the ones who think she's a criminal?

We know Morrighan and her brother have super powers, but we don't see how they use these powers. The brother's only role in the query is to show that Morrighan isn't the only character with a power. Morrighan should never have been captured, not with those metal-manipulation powers. 

You don't want to give the impression that you have a cliffhanger ending and no resolution to the main plot. If they like this book they may decide they want a three-book series, but they don't want you telling them they have to buy a series. If this book doesn't have a satisfying conclusion, give it one, and say the book has series potential.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Face-Lift 1358

Guess the Plot

Outlier Heir

1. In the distant future, an heir of Merlin recruits an heir of King Arthur to search out the Holy Grail and use it as a weapon to defeat the a confederacy of planets. Think Camelot, but in outer space.

2. Harry never wanted to be close to the line of succession. In fact, he did all he could to avoid it. But as people through the line die one by one, he knows it is only a matter of time.

3. Statistically speaking, Falian isn't in line for the throne, what with 58 other people with better claims. Of course, statistically speaking, Falian shouldn't hold the position of Chief Assassin, either.

4. The Outliers are a super-powered folk kicked out of normal human society for being a little too different. Unknown to the rest of the population, they've been breeding, and now . . .  it's payback time.

5. A convenient definition of a outlier heir is an heir which falls more than 1.5 times the interquartile range above the third quartile or below the first quartile. The interquartile range, which breaks the data set into a five number summary is used to determine if an outlier heir is present. Also: palace intrigue, an ancient curse, revived mummies and a talking camel. 

6. Cassandra's salon, Outlier Heir, is where all the fashionistas and it-girls are seen. When the place burns down in a napalm attack, the arson squad discovers no foul play, but the second-top salon in town, Heir Apparent, is happy to take on Cassandra's clients. Can she prove a link between the other salon owner's policeman husband and her own misfortune before the rest of her life goes up in smoke? 

Original Version

Dear Agent X,

The Sol Confederacy doesn’t give a damn about places like Blackwood, Mars, a truth Art Pendragon learned the hard way the day the Feds killed his little sister Morgan. When a trigger-happy crew touches down on his hick town to hunt [looking] for him, Art’s a mite twitchy—until they promise the one thing he’s searching for—revenge. 

According to Merlin and the crew of the Excalibur, the Pendragon bloodline of alchemists can track the separated pieces of the Holy Grail. Years ago, his [Art's or Merlin's?] renegade ancestor created this weapon [What weapon? The Holy Grail?] to give the underground rebellion a chance. While they search, Merlin pushes him [Art] to unlock his [Art's or Merlin's?] abilities, [What abilities?] yet Art’s intense pull towards the lonely ex-soldier [What lonely ex-soldier?] grows more powerful than any alchemy. 

Upon landing in Europa, [Is Europa the moon of Jupiter or Europe or a fictional place like Blackwood, Mars?] Art uncovers a threat that could ruin the rebellion before it has a chance to rise. Morgan is alive and aligned with the Sol Confederacy. [The threat that could ruin the rebellion is Art's little sister is aligned with the Sol Confederacy? Who is she, Wonder Woman? Wait, is she the outlier heir to the throne? I was thinking Art was the outlier heir.] Even though he’s sworn himself to the rebel cause, his sister isn’t lost to the Feds, not yet. However, as their allegiances solidify[,] the divide between them deepens, and the moment Art delivers the Grail to the rebels, he’ll become her enemy, [Swearing himself to the rebel cause didn't make him her enemy, but delivering the Grail will?] destroying his one shot to save the sister he failed to protect.

OUTLIER HEIR is an 85,000[-word] YA space opera with series potential.



Possibly it would be better to say it was Merlin and the Excalibur who touched down, rather than a trigger-happy crew. These are the good guys, right?

I'm no expert on Arthurian lore, but it seems more likely Merlin would be the one with alchemists in his bloodline, not Arthur, and maybe he is, but it's easy to read it as the opposite. 

Why exactly do they need Art? They can't track down the pieces of the Grail without him because he has unique Grail-tracking powers? And possessing the Grail could let them defeat the entire Sol Confederacy, which I assume is all the planets of the solar system except Uranus?

Art: I've devoted my life to destroying you, revenge for killing my sister. 

Sol: We didn't kill your sister. She's right over there.

Art: Oops. Well, I'm gonna destroy you anyway, just for the hell of it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

New Beginning 1070

“My name is Laranius, son of Lavernius,” said the lich in the slightly-faded green robe. “But everyone calls me Larry.”

And he smiled.

I think.

“So, uh, Laran—Larry,” I began, “What brings you here?”

You don’t usually see many liches. For one, they generally keep to themselves, where they can create weird magic. And for another, they don’t really blend. Sure, some are really skinny, pale people, like attenuated vampires; but most look like a decaying mummy, or a skeleton. Larry, as far as I could tell, was a skeleton.

Larry shifted in his chair. “Well, sir, the groom at Brad the Impaler’s said you needed a necromancer, and since Brad had just let me go, this sounded like a good place to come.”

Now, I know Brad. He’s usually a pretty chill guy. Why would he kick out a perfectly good lich?

Just then my lady, my wife, the love of my life Dorene swept into the room, resplendent in her blue and silver gown, her auburn gold hair flying and her face like thunder. “Doug!,” she said to me. “That stupid girl dropped all my hairpins down the privy!” She stopped when she saw Larry. “Oh, hello,” she said.

Larry stood. With an exaggerated bow, he said, “My name is Laranius, son of Lavernius. But you may call me Larry.” Little silvery sparkles danced from his gloved fingers.

“Welcome,” she said as she took her seat at my side. “What can we do for you, Larry?”

"We're here to get rid of any dead animals or people you might have lying around."

"We?" Dorene said.

Just then two more liches entered the room. Larry said, "There's three of us. I'm Laranius. This is my brother Darylius, and that's my other brother Darylius."

Opening: Khazar-khum.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Face-Lift 1357

Guess the Plot

The Lair of 1000 Butterflies

1. Rolanda Devereaux doesn't understand why the bar she has opened in Steeltown, PA, isn't drawing any customers. Could it be the name?  

2. When 13-year-old Harlow is discovered covered in blood, he claims he was kidnapped by butterflies. But that doesn't explain why he suddenly can bust out ninja moves and communicate with cats. Or does it?

3. Evil scientist Mushas Mashississist has concocted a new scheme for world domination! He shall breed Chaos Butterflies (tm)!! Only two kids and their new superpowers can stop him!!! Small problem--they must steal their superpowers from evil scientist Og!vey and then learn to use them!!!!

4. With each flap of their wings, a hurricane happens on the other side of the world. A group of luckless explorers unleash a horror unlike any other as they uncover The Lair of 1000 Butterflies. Will the butterfly nets their local guide brought along contain the kaleidoscope?

5. In the land of Sydoz, butterflies are protected by the local religion, whose practitioners consider them unattached souls. But the newly arrived vampire butterflies will morph into enormous fanged dragons . . . unless Noknoor, butterfly slayer, can find and destroy the lair where these bloodthirsty beasts lurk - while risking being executed if he harms the wrong ones.

6. World renowned lepidopterist Merve Janks has almost completed the ultimate butterfly collection. Will finding his 1,000th new subspecies be enough to save his professorship, his marriage, and cure his rare form of cancer? Or, should he join a hidden cult in the Amazon and sacrifice himself to their butterfly god?

7. The sign out front said 'Massage'. So when 76 year old Peter 'Pops' Warren went in for relief from his old war wound, he got a real surprise ending. Now he has daily 'sessions', and his wife is getting more than a bit suspicious. Why, she might just go there and see what's up, as it were.

Original Version

If there’s one thing twelve-year-old Victor hates, it’s cats [Wait , is this the same book we did in Face-Lift 1351, which was titled The All-Mads? Or is this book 2 in the series?] —every time one talks, he’s cursed to die. He reincarnates since he’s an Arcana God, but he doesn’t want to grow up again, lose the memories of his 1000th life, or leave his adoptive mom/mentor. Not to mention dying hurts. So when a tabby chants a prophecy, Victor’s surprised he stumbles into an injured autistic boy named Harlow instead of some monster. [Harlow? Change it to Hugo. Like in Victor Hugo.] But the boy he rescues might be the villain, not the victim. [You said he stumbled into him. Not that he rescued him.]

Thirteen-year-old Harlow was kidnapped by butterflies. At least, that’s how he explains why he was covered in blood, not all of which was his; [To me, "I was kidnapped by butterflies" does not explain why you are covered in blood. In fact, the only thing for which that would be a good explanation would be if you were encasing yourself in a cocoon.] can bust out ninja moves; and is super friendly with the cat who cursed Victor.  When Victor realizes the cat’s prophecy is about Harlow, [If Harlow and the cat are such good buddies, why didn't the cat deliver the prophecy to Harlow? How can Victor realize the prophecy is about Harlow, if he just met Harlow?] he’s convinced: Harlow is the living manifestation of his curse. [I don't follow. What exactly did the cat say?] [Also, what is meant by "the living manifestation of a curse"?] Problem is, he likes Harlow. Maybe even likes likes him.

Desperate for a solution, Victor visits his shrine and views memories from his past lives. What he discovers isn’t exactly encouraging. If a God is deemed “not godly enough” at the end of their 1000th life, someone new will take their place. [If this information is in his shrine, why hasn't he ever discovered it before?] Victor needs to find a way to reverse the curse—preferably one that doesn’t involve sacrificing Harlow in a bloodstone circle—or this life might be his last. 


I'll assume this is the same book, as you've provided no word count, genre, or mention of a previous book. 

What is the cat's prophecy? I'm not asking because I want to know. I'm asking because I think you need it in the query. I'm not sure any of the information in the query is more important than that.

There too much information that we don't need, so much it feels disorganized. Why bring up Ninja moves, adoptive mom/mentor, or even butterflies if you aren't going to tell us how they affect the story? Focus on Victor and Harlow. What do they want, what's their plan to get it, what's stopping them, what's at stake.

When a cat tells 12-year-old Victor [PROPHECY], Victor fears he's going to die. It has nothing to do with the cat's prophecy; Victor dies every time a cat talks. It's happened 999 times, and after the 1000th, Victor could lose his status as an Arcana God.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1355 would like feedback on the following revision:

Dear Evil Editor,

INDIGO ANGEL is the story of Sean Foster, and his journey of self-discovery in the face of adversity. Sean has struggled with Cystic Fibrosis all his life. Freshman year of high school he survives getting beaten and bullied. Sophomore year he meets Jenessa 'Jen' Quinto. Having lost her brother to cancer, she recognizes and admires Sean’s courage. They start dating, and quickly fall in love. Junior year their relationship culminates with a road trip, where they sleep under the stars.

Just before senior year Jen unexpectedly breaks up with him. Sean’s world is shattered. His twin sister Sara gets accepted to UCLA, so the siblings make plans to get an apartment and live as roommates. But when their mother says Sean has to stay in their small town of Indigo, due to his illness[,] Sean attempts suicide.

He survives, and his mother retracts her previous statement, grateful to have her son. So along with Sara and her boyfriend Johnny, Sean makes it out to California. The group tracks down Jen. She had been sent to live in Seattle with her grandmother where she gave birth to Sean’s daughter. Reunited as a family, Sean steps into the role of being a father to his little miracle.

Indigo Angel, a work of contemporary fiction, runs about 98,000 words, and is similar in tone to John Green’s The Fault in our Stars.

I am a Mexican-American veteran of the United States Air Force. Although born in California my work in the military took me all over the world including the diverse Midwest, from the beautiful landscapes of the Dakotas to the small towns of Wisconsin. My novel was inspired by my travels and aspects of my cultural heritage.

Thank you for your consideration,


I was expecting a revision to focus on Sean's goals. What does he want, what's he doing to get it, what's keeping him from getting it? I'm not sure what his main goal is in the book, but the goal that seems most likely to tie all the threads together is Sean's investigation of his lineage. Perhaps he reads that if he has cystic fibrosis, his twin sister also would have it. At which point his mother is forced to admit they're not twins, he's adopted, and now he wants to know about his birth mother. And when he finds out Jen was pregnant when she left town, he knows he's passed the CF gene on. This sounds like the makings of a story. Your new version has eliminated all of this. You're basically listing one or two things that happen to Sean each year. It feels more like an outline than a story summary.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Face-Lift 1356

Guess the Plot

A Twisted Christmas

1. In an epic tag team match between the ghosts of Jacob Marley, Chrsitmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, Scrooge must declare a winner in time to save Tiny Tim . . . and Christmas.

2. Santa Claus is mistreating his elves and reindeer, and it's up to the goat-demon Krampus to set things right by destroying Santa's kingdom. If it takes bloodshed and a few Christmases without toys, so be it.

3. A 400-page book detailing the history of the candy cane. Includes chapters on the stripes and what they represent, favorite flavors of celebrities, and theories on why there is a hook on the end.

4. For the office Christmas party, everyone brings corkscrews and no one brings champagne. Kelly, Bernard's secret crush, kisses Mike, the office nerd, who got the largest bonus check. Holiday cheer does not ensue.

5. When the three wise men arrive in Bethlehem to pay tribute to the newborn king, they are horrified to find he's got horns and cloven hooves. Even worse, there's no room for them at the inn. They can't go home with this story, so they agree on alternative facts, never dreaming the ridiculous tale they concoct will be told for thousands of years. 

6. It's May. Santa and Mrs. Claus are on a cruise. The reindeer have scattered, enjoying the mating season. Only the elves remain, toiling for long hours in their sweatshops, manufacturing yet more toys while the unsupervised elf children turn delinquent. But one elf has had enough. This year, he vows, the kids will be making toys for us.

Original Version

When Christmas goat-demon Krampus argues against how King Santa disciplines his deer, he never expected to  [You've changed from present tense to past tense, and the first sentence isn't even over.] get exiled in return. After spending a century in Anarctica, Krampus comes back to the North Pole at the king's request. However, the Christmas town isn't as jolly as it used to be.

Once Krampus witnesses the cruelty of his old companion's monarchy, he takes matters into his own hand [hands]. Having watched the elves and deer work themselves to death in fear of King Santa's wrath, the goat-demon vows to destroy Santa Clause's [Claus's] kingdom. He shares his plans with childhood friends Vanilla and Simon, [Are Vanilla and Simon also goat-demons? If not, what kind of parents let their kids be friends with a goat-demon?] who join in after much consideration. However, bloodshed on both sides awaits as they get closer to their goal. [The word "however" makes sense there only if we believe the goal is a peaceful transition of power. But the plan is to destroy Santa's kingdom, so we're already expecting massive bloodshed.] [If there's a war, do Santa's elves have real guns or just toys?]

A TWISTED CHRISTMAS is a standalone NA Fantasy complete at 50,000 [words]. Fans of Goosebumps and Krampus The Yule Lord will enjoy A TWISTED CHRISTMAS.

I am an Undergraduate student majoring in Global Studues with a concentration in Media, Culture and Art. I'm also aiming for a Certificate in Creative Writing to hone my skills and gain more experience. I make sure every book I write is thoroughly critiqued on community sites such as Scribophile and Wattpad and always look for ways to improve. [The person to whom you're writing doesn't care about any of that.]

The first ten pages are below based on your submission guidelines.

Thank you for your consideration.


Evil Jr. was reading Goosebumps when he was a little kid. If the level of violence is no greater than that in Goosebumps, I'd call this Middle Grade. A kid who can handle Harry Potter can handle a Santa who mistreats his elves and reindeer. New Adult is for college-age readers. The fact that some college-age readers would enjoy this book isn't relevant. Adults enjoy Harry Potter, but they find it shelved with the kids' books. Tip for deciding if your book is NA: check to see if Santa Claus is one of your main characters. If so, odds are it isn't.

Why did the king request that Krampus return to the North Pole? If Santa had the power to exile Krampus to Antarctica once, why can't he do so again?

How come a goat-demon is the hero? Most readers don't think of demons as benevolent, and the character Krampus isn't normally depicted as a good guy. If this is a retelling of a story from the POV of the villain, I'd state that up front.

You have room to tell us more of the plot. This is mostly the setup: Krampus, after a century in exile, is called to the North Pole by Santa (Why?) and vows to take revenge and right some wrongs. And....? What's his plan? What goes wrong? What happens if he fails/succeeds?

Friday, June 09, 2017

Synopsis 59

Indigo, ND: abandoned baby boy SEAN is adopted by CLAIRE who has just given birth to SARA. All seems fine until baby Sean is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. With his sister by his side he survives a childhood of medical drama. The course of treatment causes the once tiny baby [no need to tell us someone was tiny when he was a baby.] to grow into a sexy teenager, [The treatment caused him to be sexy?] but Sean’s freshman year of high School becomes a living nightmare. In addition to his disability, he must survive bullying and sexual assault.

Sophomore year Sean contracts pneumonia. He meets JEN, the ex-girlfriend of one of the bullies. It’s love at first sight. She stays by his side and later they start dating.

The couple takes [take] a road trip where [during which] they make love. Jen becomes pregnant. She is forced [by whom?] to move to Seattle to live with her grandma. Sean spirals out of control. Sara gets accepted to UCLA. Facing the prospect of losing his sister he [Sean] attempts suicide. As Sean [he] is loaded into an ambulance he meets JOHNNY, a young paramedic.

Sean slips into a coma, during which he meets a series of ghosts. He awakens to find that months have passed. He asks Sara for help [With what?] and they discover together that their birth certificates don’t match. An enraged Sara confronts her mother.

To regain her children’s love, Claire allows Sean to accompany Sara to California. Sara sneaks off to see Johnny [Sara knows Johnny?] and makes him promise to make it to California. [Why would he be willing to make that promise?] Upon arriving at UCLA, Sara forces Sean to get a job on campus. [She makes Johnny promise, she forces Sean to work at UCLA . . . How does she have such power over other people?] Sean suffers heatstroke, requiring hospitalization, the same day that Johnny reappears. Having held up his end of the deal, he insists they tell Sean about the Jen and the baby. After an emotional phone call, Jen is convinced to move to Los Angeles.

Reunited, the family looks to the future. [Which family? Sara, Sean and Claire? Sean, Jen and baby?] After a conversation with Jen about the possibility of Sean modeling, Johnny looks up an agency. Sean is immediately signed. Sean walks his first runway show in Death Valley and leaves feeling empowered. [Isn't Death Valley a desert?]

Sean and Jen plan to marry, but issues arise concerning Jen’s parents since she was estranged from them since leaving Indigo. With the help of her childhood pastor, Jen learns the truth [What truth?] and reunites with her father. Sean’s father presents him with his inheritance, [What father? His biological father? If it's his adoptive father, why wasn't he introduced along with Claire?] enough money for Sean, and his friends to live out their dreams.  What are their dreams? All it takes for them to live out their dreams is a sudden windfall of cash? Sean and Jen spend their honeymoon under the stars.


What's with these ghosts? They're mentioned in one sentence. Do they want something? Do they speak?

This would work better if it felt like you were telling a story. Some parts need specific information to explain them (Ghosts). Some don't need to be here at all. (Pneumonia, heatstroke.) Not sure about the modeling. It seems to come from nowhere.

As with the shorter summary in the query, focus on the Mc, what he wants, how he plans to get it, what goes wrong.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Face-Lift 1355

Guess the Plot

Indigo Angel

1. Lazrael was born as the angel of indigo. Now if only it could figure out if it is an angel to a plant or a color. A shady individual is willing to tell, for a price.

2. In a world where the angels are violet, one angel, Aerael, is born indigo. Mocked and shunned by the other angels, Aerael feels useless . . . until the day God announces he has a mission that can be accomplished only by an . . . Indigo Angel.

3. Sean was born with a genetic disorder. His parents consider him an "indigo child," one with special abilities. Unfortunately, the other kids at Sean's new high school consider him a punching bag.

4. Tara Weir has a secret identity: Indigo Angel. As part of R.A.I.N.B.O.W., she travels the world to seek out injustice and help those in need. She uses her amazing power over water to drown enemies or eliminate threats. However, she's fallen in love with Red Angel, the fire master, who's already involved with Green Angel, who controls plants. Will Indigo Angel drown Green Angel to get her man?

5. Indigo Angel is the latest designer drug to hit the streets. You can get high with no side effects, no addictions, and no bad bad trips--except the one that lands you in a random hell: Christian, Bhuddist, Egyptian, Sumatran, Greek, Aztec, EE's slushpile, etc, etc, etc.

6. Danny makes it to finals auditioning for the position of lead singer of his favorite band, Indigo Angel. Then he starts hearing rumors about what happened to the previous lead, rumors involving human sacrifice to Lovecraftian horrors. But, hey, they seem tame compared to his current job working graveyard at Walmart.

7. Not quite blue, not quite purple, the Indigo Angel is the one that the procrastinators and un-deciders pray to when they can't make a decision . . . then fail to receive any clear message or guidance. Which suits them perfectly. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

INDIGO ANGEL (99,999 words) [Round that off. Preferably to 75,000.] is a contemporary novel with deep, well-developed characters reminiscent of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars with a supernatural element, similar to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, and an edgy search for self, similar to that in Chuck Palahniuk’s stories [not to mention subtle humor not unlike that found in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries, the short chapters of a James Patterson thriller, and a dash of the world building seen in Frank Herbert's Dune]. My characters question the world around them and their place in it; struggle with identity, hate, and pain; [endure a miscellaneous hodgepodge of this and that;] and learn to live with the emotional consequences of their situations. [Scrap this paragraph. The only specifics in it are authors and titles of books you've read. We're interested in the book you've written. Your title, genre and length can be put after the plot, along with name dropping of authors you stole your ideas from.]

After Sean Foster, the protagonist of my story, is abandoned at birth under mysterious circumstances, [What's mysterious about them?] he grows up to be socially awkward. Sean is strong, sexy, and cool but he’s also shy and na├»ve – [Lists of adjectives are boring and vague. Get to the story.] and completely unaware that the wealthy family he’s living with adopted him. Sean is raised as a twin to his sister Sara, who loves him and attempts to guide him through his difficult childhood and teenage years fighting cystic fibrosis.

Sean’s treatment eventually allows him to stop homeschooling and join Sara at her high school. Sean is overjoyed, but he’s sexually assaulted by girls at school and beaten by their boyfriends. As Sean’s health declines [Due to CF or beatings?] he meets Jen, a survivor of physical abuse who lost her brother to cancer. [Are we still in high school?] Beautiful and strong, she sees in Sean the courage she saw in her brother. As they fall in love, Jen shows Sean how to be brave and live life to the fullest.

A short time later, another series of events leaves Sean emotionally broken, doubting himself and questioning his future. Will Sean rely on the love of friends and family to come back from the brink of death, [Whoa. You didn't say he was on the brink of death. Is that from CF or from the "series of events"?] discover the secret of his lineage, and complete his journey to learn how to love himself? And, even with the help of his brainy sister, rebel girlfriend, and jack-of-all-trades best friend – will it be enough? [Well, we slipped into specificity for a few sentences, but now we're back to generality. And that's the end of the plot? Let's gather the good stuff and see what we have:

Guided by his sister Sara through a difficult childhood and adolescence fighting cystic fibrosis, Sean Foster is finally able to stop homeschooling and join Sara at her high school. It doesn't go well, as he's sexually assaulted by the girls and beaten by their boyfriends.

His health declining, Sean meets Jen, a survivor of physical abuse who lost her brother to cancer. She sees in Sean the courage she saw in her brother. As they fall in love, Jen shows Sean how to be brave and live life to the fullest.

That's about it. Those are fairly short paragraphs, so you could add another piece of information to each. For instance, does Sean leave the school or are the bullies punished? Can you provide an example of what Jen does to show Sean how to live life fully?

That still leaves room for a third paragraph which could provide specifics about this series of events that leaves Sean broken, what options he has to recover from the emotional beating he's taken, the pros and cons of each option.]

I am a veteran of the United States Air Force with a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University (emphasis in screenwriting), [That's the same field I was in, Cinema, but my emphasis was on spending time I was supposed to be in classrooms at the local movie theater. If I'd known I could get a degree for that, I'd have gone to SF State.] and a degree in early childhood development. I have published humorous nonfiction articles online, and I’ve had 40,000+ views for my fan fiction. I’m also a cancer survivor (in remission). When I first contracted cancer, I fell in to a deep depression and started to read about cystic fibrosis patients – the inspiration behind my book. [The New Age treatment for deep depression: reading about people who've got it worse than you.]

The patients I read about all seemed to be young, strong courageous people who had it so much worse than me. [than I] They were beautiful, but destined to die in their twenties and thirties. I wanted to write the fairy tale version of their story, about someone who got everything he dreamed of and impacted many people’s lives before crossing over into the light. [So in the book Sean gets everything he dreamed of? That isn't the impression I had.] Ironically, now that I’m in remission, I’m also living the fairy tale.

Thank you for your consideration,


"I wanted to write the fairy tale version of their story, about someone who got everything he dreamed of and impacted many people’s lives before crossing over into the light." Assuming this book is that story, maybe we need to rework the query. P1: Who is Sean and what is it he dreams of doing (discovering the secret of his lineage, and  learning how to love himself)? P2: What's his plan for attaining these goals? What happens to prevent him from carrying out this plan (a series of events)? P3: What crossroad does he reach where he must make a decision that leads to success or failure? Whose lives did he impact along the way?

Possibly the query should start when Sean, who has struggled with CF all his life and been bullied in high school, meets Jen. That would give you more room to tell us specifically about the journey that is the main plot.

Your education and writing credits aren't relevant to this project. Your medical history would be more relevant if you gave Sean cancer and if you started reading about cancer survivors when you were diagnosed, but at least you've managed to connect his CF to your own situation.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the opening featured in New Beginning 1067 and more recently appearing here, requests feedback on the following attempt to hook you:

Victor jammed the bone china dolls into the freshly dug grave, determined to bury them properly. He sucked in chilly night air and willed himself to breathe—in, out, in, out. Rain stung his skin and weeds brushed against the headstones, making the Old Jewish Cemetery look like a scene from Victor’s horror movie collection. Hopefully, he wouldn’t end up being one of the characters that died.

Sometimes two evil souls possessed toys, creating strzygas—spirit-demons who were hungry for blood and insides. The dolls had attacked Victor on his trip through Prague, probably thinking he was an easy target since he was twelve and short. But getting eaten wasn’t on his to-do list. 

The boy strzyga screamed and swung his arms like a tantrum-throwing baby. Scrambling to hold him down, Victor wanted to scream, too. Dolls creeped him out even when they weren’t possessed. The girl strzyga lurched and sank two sets of teeth into Victor’s wrist. He jerked, pain shooting up his arm. His knees slid through the mud; he almost tumbled into the grave.

For a moment, Victor wasn’t so determined anymore.


I like the first paragraph. I would add the word "two" in front of "bone china dolls."

I would make the third paragraph the second paragraph, changing the word "strzyga" to "doll."

I would hold off on the second paragraph until the excitement is over and the dolls have been neutralized. And remove the word "two," as it just makes me wonder why one evil soul or three evil souls can't possess toys, and you don't want to get into that here.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

New Books from Evil Editor

I've produced these comic strip collections for my own enjoyment, but I also ordered a few extras, and can order more if necessary.

Most of the strips in this first one have appeared as tweets, but as time passes, like all tweets, they'll fade into the distance and be hard to find, so if you want them in a book, or think the book would make the perfect gift for someone, it's available.

If you already own Evil Editor Strips, Evil Editor Strips Again, and Evil Editor Strips for the Last Time, you've seen about 75% of the comic strips in Evil Editor's Pitch Sessions. It's just the pitch sessions, mostly of famous authors, but also of characters, animals, and regular people like you.

Both books are 8 by 10 and color. Which means not cheap, but they're cheaper than what I paid for them. Prices include US shipping. If you're somewhere else, let me know (overseas shipping will probably cost as much as the book). Click "Bookstore" in the sidebar to order.

Friday, June 02, 2017

New Beginning 1069

Victor wanted to knock over the bone china dolls, the Frozen CD, and the thick blue candles that stank like sulfur. But his mentor, Mia Mathew, had spent all day arranging the offerings in front of the shrine. Biting a lip wobblier than his hands, Victor stacked Tarot cards next to the wooden offertory box. Most kids didn’t have shrines on the outskirts of Prague. They didn’t scream like a weenus if a tabby cat jumped onto an offertory box. Victor sure did, though.

He dropped the cards and fell onto his butt, scraping his palms on the stone floor. The tabby blinked big yellow eyes, belly swollen with kittens—or worms. Victor hoped she couldn’t smell fear. He was pretty sure he reeked.

Rain plip-pliped and pine trees brushed against the shrine’s domed roof. Victor almost didn’t want to breathe, afraid the smallest noise would set the cat off. When she didn’t talk, he stood, wiping his hands on his sweatpants. “Go, kitty,” Victor grumbled, shooing the tabby.

She hissed. In the evening light Victor could see incisions, crusty with scabs, under her fluffed-up fur. “You’re hurt. Um, I don’t like cats. But I’ll help.” He reached out to grab her, and other cats crept from the woods—calicos, black ones, more tabbies, ones so white they were beacons in the grass.

"Thing is, sweetie," said the cats (kinda CHORUS), "believe that humankind got any kind of dominion over felinekind and you become — immediately — a hapless phantom at the mercy of forces you can never hope to control. My advice? Shop only for supremely sugary SUGAR MICE at your supremely SUPER CLOSE sugar mice retailin' OUTLET."

The non-cats fell silent. Did some yoga. Mandala. Stuff.

It is as if some global cataclysm of change unleashed is THE ONLY THING gonna happen next.

Thankfully, in chapter 3 — musical bras!

Opening: Zombie Boy Bones.....Continuation: Whirlochre


P1: The fact that there's only one CD leads me to believe that there aren't so many candles and dolls that it would take anyone all day to arrange them. I could arrange that stuff in twenty minutes, tops.

I don't think wobbly is a good word to describe lips or hands. It's more for something with balance problems than just shaking movement.

Is this Victor's shrine? Why does he have it? If most kids don't have shrines, how can it be said that most kids don't scream if a cat jumps on an offertory box? I don't think there's enough data to state this. I think most kids would scream like a weenus. Whatever that is.

P3: Plip-plipped. Wait, he thought the cat might talk?

P4: It seems more likely, when he reaches out to grab the hissing cat, that his attention would be on the cat, who will undoubtedly try to scratch or bite him, than on the woods, from which other cats are creeping out.

Presumably this is the same book as in New Beginning 1067, but the opening to a different chapter, which might explain why we're assumed to already know Victor's age and what's going on with the shrine?