Sunday, December 31, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1364 would like feedback on the following revision:

After years of wandering in a self-imposed exile, Rowan returns to find his realm is seeking a king. He also finds he has unwittingly earned a reputation, his feats at home and abroad heralding him a brave fighter of great renown. Only he and his closest friends know better, for Rowan’s acts stem from a reckless disregard for his own life, born [borne!] from the grief at his attempt to save his sister’s life and the guilt at his atrocious behavior that sent him into exile. 

As an Elite member of the Sindari warrior clan, Rowan is eligible to take the trials for election. Despite still struggling to come to terms with his guilt, Rowan vows to his father that he will take the trials, for winning the crown is a chance at redemption and to earn the reputation he’s been given. Rowan gathers his Sindari companions, his tutor from the Philomen clan of scholars and healers, and a snarky young thief to guide them across the desert wasteland. The company plunges [race] across the realm to reach the capital in time for the election, facing challenges both anticipated and unexpected:

Bandits intent on increasing their stock for the slave trade 
The deadly flora and fauna of the Deadvault desert
Lizard-like humanoids with an unnatural interest in their party
An unexpected ally
A stranger’s betrayal [No list should include more than three items.]

Before the end, Rowan will face an enemy he has long thought dead, the demon who killed his sister and threatens to take the one person away from him that he shouldn’t even care for - a woman who could cost him the crown before he can earn it. 

The Broken Veil is complete at 123,500 words, told in third person point of view, and set in a fantasy world based loosely on 17th century Europe. This story is a blend of adventure, friendship, humor, and a dash of romance for those who enjoy the works of Kristin Cashore and Melina Marchetta.


You can condense this into something like the following:

After years of self-imposed exile borne in his failure to save his sister from a demon, Rowan learns that his home realm is seeking a king. As an elite member of the Sindari warrior clan, Rowan is eligible to enter the trials for election. Winning the crown might mean redemption-- but only if he can reach the capital in time for the trials. 

Rowan and his Sindari companions race across the desert wasteland, their journey slowed by encounters with slave-trading bandits, lizard-like humanoids, and dragons. Thanks to an unexpected ally, a woman named Kivrin, who saves Rowan's life, it looks like the troupe might reach their goal . . . until one last obstacle appears: the demon that killed Rowan's sister.

The Broken Veil, complete at 123,500 words, is set in a fantasy world based loosely on 17th century Europe. This story is a blend of adventure, friendship, humor, and a dash of romance for those who enjoy the works of Kristin Cashore and Melina Marchetta.

You can add an additional plot paragraph explaining why Rowan becoming king is a good thing for anyone besides Rowan, i.e. what might happen to the kingdom if someone else wins the election.

As far as I can tell, this book covers only the journey to the capital, a journey I'm not sure even ends in this book. The chances of selling a three-book series that has no satisfying ending to book 1 are slim. You might want to carry this book through to where Rowan reaches the capital, if you haven't already done so. To use your LOTR example, while the ultimate goal isn't accomplished in the first book, a major hurdle is cleared. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Synopsis 60

ROWAN of the Sindari warrior clan has been wandering in self-imposed exile, his guilt at a failed attempt to save his sister’s life throwing him into self-destructive behavior. Rowan returns to his home realm six years away [Six years away? Meaning it will take him six years to get there? Change "six years" to a measure of distance. Or say "six years after leaving," if that's correct.] to find that the realm is holding trials and an election for the next king. [Why is he returning home if he didn't already know about the trials?] As a possible claimant to the crown, Rowan’s father entreats him to journey to the capital [This reads like Rowan's father is the possible claimant. Rowan is urged by his father.] and take the trials. [I would go with "enter" the trials or "compete in" the trials. "Take" doesn't seem like the right word.] Seeing a chance to redeem himself of his failures, Rowan agrees.

To cross the desert wasteland, [He returned to his home realm in the previous paragraph. Why is he crossing a desert now? Is this part of the trials?] Rowan enlists the help of his unknown cousin, BRYND, a young thief buried in debt to a crooked magistrate. [His cousin is unknown? What does that mean?] During [a] skirmish [with ?] , a bearded stranger aids the company. Wary of letting any strangers join them, Rowan reluctantly agrees to let him join - only to later discover the stranger is a young woman KIVRIN desperate for help crossing the mountains. Furious at her duplicity, it is only by [at] his men’s insistence that he allows her to remain. 

Being the only strangers in a company of men who have known each other for years, Brynd and Kivrin become instant friendship. [They become friendship? Either English isn't your 1st language, or you didn't read this very carefully.] Kivrin’s quick-thinking saves Rowan’s life, [Why was his life in danger?] and Rowan agrees to help her learn how to handle a sword as well as she handles knives and a bow. Brynd joins them and the three form a fierce bond. 

The company is attacked by the skcree, lizard-like humanoids, and are taken before the skcree overlord, where the company is shocked to discover Kivrin had been held prisoner there before. In an attempt to free her friends, Kivrin pushes the overlord over the edge of a ravine but falls with him. The company flees only to be trapped on the mountain’s edge. Kivrin survives her fall and races toward her companions. She sees the SANGUIS, the demon who killed Rowan’s sister and later imprisoned Kivrin. Rowan attacks the Sanguis but is defeated. Kivrin unwittingly summons dragons to save him. [If you do something unwittingly, you don't even realize you're doing it. Thus you don't have a reason for doing it.  So either delete "unwittingly" or "to save him."] The dragons bear the company away, not knowing Kivrin survived. [This reads like the dragons don't know Kivrin survived. They must know she survived, as she summoned them. Do you mean the company don't know she survived?] She awakens alone and speaks with a dragon who returned. Before Kivrin can escape, [From what?] she’s shot with a poisoned arrow. The dragon takes her to find the company, not knowing they had already moved on. 

The Sanguis reports to his master, THE PALE PRINCE, that his prize has fled. The Pale Prince orders the skcree to find her, with the words “I want my witch back.” 

[That's the end?]


Presumably this trip across the desert is Rowan's trip home. So start with his decision to cross the desert and go home, not with his arrival at his home.

 If your world has talking dragons and lizard-like humanoids and a demon, that probably gets mentioned early on, and should also be mentioned earlier than paragraph 4 in the synopsis.

You spend a lot of time on that long paragraph, but it comes across as a list of events without much elaboration on any of them. You don't have room to get that specific about one or two chapters. 

I would change the word skcree to either Skree or Scree.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Face-Lift 1365

Guess the Plot


1. It sure sounds better than 'FIRE!' when you scream it in a theater.

2. All things fire, in mythology, history, and science. From stealing it from the gods to dragons and salamanders to the Great Fire of London to pyrotechnicians to wilderness survival fire-starting. Includes an appendix on fire safety and a box of matches.

3. Due to a computer glitch, the planet Ignis is not as warm as predicted. That doesn't make it uninhabitable, but the colonizers will need to sew a lot of bikinis together to make clothing warm enough to survive the subzero temperatures. Also, yellow snow.

4. A serial killer who burns his victims alive has the city cowering in fear and the police baffled. It's up to the fireball-throwing superhero known as Ignis to fight fire with fire.

5. When the king and queen of Terra are murdered, Eric, the king of Ignis, offers to take their son's fiancée Laila to Ignis, the last place the king and queen were seen alive. There Laila hopes to solve their murder . . . and ease her worried mind.

6. Vesta Ignis has led a fairly normal life until she ends up the only survivor of a raging wildfire that destroys her hometown. Moving in with her distant relatives, dark plots unfurl as she discovers fire answering her beck and call. The world will burn. 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Laila is one of two [living] people cursed with a connection to all four elements. Those before her have been killed for their dangerous power. She’s protected by her fiance Will, the prince of Terra. His love affords her a luxurious life among royalty connected to one element. [I'm not clear on what you mean by "connection." I consider myself to have a connection of sorts to all four elements, yet my power, while palpable, is not particularly dangerous.]

Her peace is shattered when nature attacks. The King and Queen of Terra leave to investigate who's behind this dangerous switch. [I'm not sure what you mean by "attacks." Storms and earthquakes? I don't think "switch" is a word I'd use to describe an attack. Also, when hurricanes and blizzards occur, we don't immediately assume someone is behind it all.] [Also, kings and queens usually have minions charged with investigating danger.] Months later, their melted corpses are dumped on the castle steps. [That's why they have those minions.]

Laila’s ready to join Will to run [rule?] Terra and find the killer. [I was assuming Terra was the planet Earth. What is it, one kingdom? Even if so, we rarely say a king and queen "run" the kingdom. Although there are exceptions. Queen Elizabeth does run England.] Fear drives Will to become overbearing, creating a divide between them. Caleb, the King of Ignis, steps right in. He offers to take Laila to Ignis, [Now I've got the song "Layla" stuck in my head.] the last place the King and Queen were spotted. She leaves, hoping to hunt down a murderer and save the kingdom she loves. [Save it from what? Is nature still attacking? Is the killer threatening them?]

On this journey they visit Glacies, a harsh land of glass and ice. [Is it pronounced Glass ice, or Glay sees?] A home created by the royal families, for those connected to two elements. [I would delete "A home" and the period after "ice."] Laila is exposed to the suffering of others who are too powerful and outnumbered, leaving her to question the leaders she’s always loved.

When they reach Ignis, Laila’s introduced to Eric, [Whoa. Eric? Laila? Is it a coincidence that "Layla" is sung by Eric Clapton? That's like naming your character Roxanne and having her get arrested by the Police.] the one other person like her. Eric confesses that he’s behind the virus disrupting nature. [Guilty, with an explanation.] It’s part of his plan to steal the throne and free the people of Glacies. Laila wants to do what’s best for her people. [She's been running and hiding much too long.] First, she must decide who truly deserves her loyalty. 

Ignis is a fantasy,130,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.


If these people with connections to more than one element are so powerful, why are they so easy to imprison or kill? What can they do that one-connection people can't?

It seems to be the story of Laila and Eric. So maybe we don't need the first two paragraphs, just an opening that says the king and queen have been murdered, and their son is too busy to go after their killer but he's okay with his fiancée doing so. That way Eric can enter the query a lot earlier.

Friday, December 22, 2017

New Beginning 1075

The ruin spread north like a disease. Six horses halted at the line where the green plain butted against the barren wasteland. Their riders sat in silence, squinting in the late summer sun.
Rowan’s mare snorted and tossed her head. He placed a gloved hand on the horse’s mane to calm the beast and glanced at his companions. Only one of them had been this far north. Yet Crispin’s face gave away none of his thoughts as he stared ahead, one hand shading his almond-shaped eyes.
Crispin slid from his horse and raised his hand, commanding his mount to stay without a word spoken. He knelt on the ground and traced a finger over the line where the healthy green grass of the meadows met the dead muddy land.
Rowan dismounted. He removed his helm, shaking his dark hair out of his eyes, and set it in a clump of clover before squatting next to Crispin.
“How far are we?” he asked.
Crispin lifted his head and squinted north. “About eight leagues, Captain.”
Rowan studied the wilting grass before him. “I thought you said the wasteland only went six leagues from the capital.”
“It was only six leagues when I was last here,” Crispin replied. “Nine years ago. It has been spreading south since the Sundering’s beginning.”
          "What are we waiting for?" said Rowan. 
          "Lead the way," Crispin answered.
          Rowan walked briskly into the wasteland.
          Suddenly a flurry of dead, ghastly hands appeared at his feet, dragging the resisting Captain down into the muck until he disappeared completely, and only the brown mud remained.
            Crispin smiled. Rowan had been the last of them. The King would have to make him captain now.

Opening: Karen Baer.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Beginning 1074

I could have called this a feedback request, but the author is starting the book a day earlier than it did in New Beginning 1072, so it's not a revised version.  

The salt that gave the Blood Flats their color also made them near-impossible to farm. They also flooded with seawater on occasion, and the small collective of which I was a part would need to migrate to the forest. However, the Blood Flats did have their uses; the barrenness of the land provided excellent visibility, the priests had to walk for several days to bring us supplies, and there were a few caves and unpolluted springs. Best of all, some of the rock could be poisonous. Unfortunately, we were having difficulty getting any out of the ground to make into a weapon.

We had rope, of course, woven from the few tough grasses that grew in the less toxic parts of the Blood Flats. It was great for mundane use, but would not stand up long to the Dragon Warlord. Wood had a similar problem. Our only hope of defeating the Dragon warlord lay in stone, and our combined talents. 


So, it's an update of The Three Little Pigs, with grass and wood failing to stop the Dragon Warlord, but stone doing the trick.

Sentence 3: if this is a list of three uses of the Blood Flats, make the semicolon a colon, and the commas semicolons. But first make it more obvious how the phrases you're listing belong on a list of uses for the Blood Flats. Good visibility sounds like an advantage rather than a use, presumably because it prevents the Dragon Warlord from approaching without being seen. (Although it might also be a disadvantage, as it allows the warlord to see you. I think if I had a Dragon Warlord as an enemy, I'd want my collective to be in the forest where it's easier to hide rather than in the middle of a barren flatland.) That the priests had to walk several days to bring supplies doesn't sound like a "use" for the Blood Flats. I'm guessing you're saying that it's easier for the priests to get to you through the Blood Flats because of the flat terrain and the unpolluted pools. So sentence 3 might be better as: The Blood Flats did have their advantages: the barrenness of the land provided excellent visibility, preventing a surprise attack; and the gentle terrain and unpolluted pools gave the priests a less demanding route on which to bring in supplies. 

I'd move the poison rock into the next paragraph. I'm not sure why we're discussing rope and wood if they're useless. The rock is poisonous, and it would be their best hope of defeating the Dragon Warlord--if they could find a way to extract it from the ground. 

I start off thinking the Blood Flats are a barren wasteland, but then they have caves and pools and grass and apparently aren't far from a forest.

Decide whether to capitalize "warlord," and be consistent.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Face-Lift 1364

Guess the Plot

The Broken Veil

1. When Irene tears her sister's veil, she doesn't realize she's also torn a hole in the fabric of reality! Join her in a race to the seamstress before her sister's wedding alongside a cast of talking dogs, rainbow spiders, and the number 5. (Assuming the wedding is still on.)

2. Much to Herod's displeasure, Salome cancels her famous dance act, due to a wardrobe malfunction. Kingly wrath ensues.

3. Rowan would like to be king, but first he would have to get on the ballot and win the election. Which won't happen if the stranger  wrapped in veils--and secrets-- gets him killed.

4. Due to National Parks being sold out to mega-corporations, the once famous Flaming Falls has ceased to have water covering the inter-dimensional portal to a land of vampiric gigolos who would rather lie around watching soap operas than conquer the world. That is, until Fabio makes an appearance. 

5. Salome "Sally" Montgomery is a successful corporate headhunter, keeping her secret life moonlighting as a neo-burlesque dancer under wraps. Rushing from her big break at the Miss Exotic World pageant to a key meeting with recruitment prospect John Baptiste, she throws a camel trench coat over her sequins and feathers and heads for a swanky downtown restaurant. But when her coat gets caught in the revolving door, she has to give the performance of her life in order to serve up Baptiste's head . . . on a platter. 

6. The unconscious bride. The missing groom. The trail of blood out the back. The same signs are appearing that ended in Milfred Meldon's sister's wedding being cancelled 50 years ago. She vows to discover what happened in time for her granddaughter to make it to the altar . . . if she must enlist the help of Death himself when he comes for her.

7. Sixteen-year old Lorenzo Vicenti is an apprentice to the great sculptor Gian Bernini. When he accidentally breaks one of his master's works, will he try to mend it, or run off to the New World with his lover, Lorenzo?

Original Version

After years of wandering in a self-imposed exile, born [borne] from the grief and guilt at his failed attempt to save a loved one’s life, [Which loved one?] Rowan returns home to find his realm is at last seeking a king. [Why haven't they wanted a king up till now?] If he can pass the trials and win the election, he may earn the reputation he already has but doesn’t deserve. [Is his current reputation good or bad?] 

Journeying with his companions - allies and kin - Rowan vows to his father he will do whatever it takes to win the crown, attempting to leave his past behind, for though his feats against man and beast have earned him a reputation for bravery and skill, his acts stemmed from a reckless disregard for his own life. [Feats of bravery often involve risking one's life. It's when they're so reckless they risk other people's lives that they can give one a bad reputation.] When a stranger joins their company Rowan is wary, for the stranger may see through his facade of confidence and find the doubt and guilt lurking within. [And it would be a disaster if a complete stranger knew Rowan felt doubt and guilt?] During a skirmish, the stranger is revealed to be a woman wrapped in secrets - secrets that may kill them all. [What secrets? No need to keep secrets secret from your correspondent.]

The Broken Veil is complete at 123,500 words. Set in a fantasy world based loosely in 17th century Europe, it is third person POV. This story is a blend of adventure, friendship, humor, and a dash of romance for those who enjoy the works of Kirstin Cashore [I'm sure Kristin will forgive you for spelling her name wrong. The person reading your query, might as well.] and Melina Marchetta. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Who is Rowan? Just some commoner? Someone with royal blood? Were there 17th-century countries whose kings were chosen in elections? Are the countries in your book real European countries or made-up countries? If they're real countries, which one does Rowan want to be king of?

Is this journey with allies and kin after the self-imposed exile, or is it the same wandering? If you're wandering in exile, you usually aren't with your kin and allies. But if his wandering is over, how has he hooked up with his kin and allies? Aren't they back in the homeland?

Some guy who hasn't been around for years shows up and wants to be king. We need to know what obstacles he must overcome. That a stranger might see through his facade is pretty lame as an obstacle unless you explain how this would prevent him from attaining his goal and why his becoming king would be good. I'm not confident he wouldn't suck as king.

The most intriguing part is the woman whose secrets could kill them all. But if you don't elaborate on that, with specific information, we don't know what to make of it.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1360 would like your opinion of the following version:

Dear Mr. Evil Editor:

Twenty-eight-year-old Verity Hearst has killed nearly two hundred bad guys as one of the world's deadliest assassins, a reputation she has proudly earned alone. She fears being single forever, but solitude isn't so bad, not with a loaded Springfield 1911-A1 pistol and a warm cup of tea to keep her company.

Verity's manager Enoch is her only link to the mysterious company she works for. When he tells her she'll have a male partner on the biggest assignment of her life, she wonders if her employer is doubting her abilities. All she knows is she must maintain her reputation, or die trying.

Verity's targets, three men at the head of a billion-dollar child trafficking operation with drug dealings on the side, are well-armed and impossible to find. Verity's partner Cy, who thinks he's the world's deadliest assassin, knows more than she does about everything. Doing her job with this smartass doubting her every move is going to be a lot harder than she imagined.  

KILLER IN HEELS is a 71,000-word novel of suspense. I imagine Verity Hearst as Jack Reacher's ultra-feminine, sophisticated counterpart.

I live in Bellevue, WA with my Bengal cat named Byron, am addicted to all sorts of coffee, and enjoy dark rainy nights.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Friday, December 01, 2017

NaNoWriMo is over.

Just because you wrote it in a month doesn't mean you shouldn't get feedback on your opening page. Or on the query you'll be sending to agents after you finish proofreading and editing the whole novel. If you finished, feel free to brag about it in the comments. And even if you gave up after three days, you probably wrote enough to submit your opening.