Friday, December 14, 2018

Face-Lift 1388

Guess the Plot

An Army of One

1. When all the 0's in computer binary land go on strike, it's up to one 1 to save the universe or destroy it. Think of a cross between _The Dot and the Line_ and _Tron_, stone-age style.

2. During the Daco-Romano wars of 101 to 106 A.D., one man, Darius, decides to take on the Roman Empire. He knows this would be easier with an army, but his fellow villagers refuse to help because they suspect Darius of murdering a shepherd. So now Darius has two enemies: his fellow villagers . . . and the 300,000-man army of the Roman Empire.

3. Sir Charles has declared war upon the kingdom of Ponce. As the sun rises on the first day of battle, the archers and swordsmen of Ponce are lined up on the western edge of the Valley of Death. Standing alone on the eastern edge, Sir Charles has just realized he may have been a bit hasty. Also, a dragon, not that it helps Sir Charles in any way.

4. Hannibal has been assigned to this remote outpost in the pass for two years running. After the plague took everyone else, he is the lone survivor running it, and the latest message indicates an army is on its way. What is one poor soldier to do?

5. Horace Steampuff loves being a keyboard warrior. Feminists, greens, religious minorities, people of colour, anti-gun lobby, anybody who uses the word 'privilege' . . . he blasts them all mercilessly in the comments section. Until one day he emerges from his mother's basement . . . 

6. When you're the sole life form on a planet, you're the only army you've got when aliens invade. Fortunately, these Lialian invaders mistakenly believe Eli-Eli to be the sole means of saving their species, so he'll be safe, at least until they realize he's a criminal who was abandoned here for crimes against the galaxy.

Original Version

Dear Mrs. Jackson:

Darius Komozai, the leader of a small village in southern Dacia named Aricdava, is on the defensive forefront with the most powerful regime on earth. The Roman Empire. Although, defending won’t come easy as Darius is accused of murdering his own shepeard [shepherd] by his town rival, Thiamarkos, In a plot to overthrow Darius for power. [If those last eight words are supposed to be a sentence, there should be a period instead of a comma after Thiamarkos. However, those last eight words aren't a sentence, so you should un-capitalize "In."] Furthermore, stirring up conflict and tension within the village. [That isn't a sentence either. I'd just delete it, since you've already made it clear that there's conflict and tension in the village.] [Also, it's hard to buy the murder of a shepherd as the reason defending a small village against the approaching Roman army won't come easy.]

With Darius’s popularity in the village going down, he sets out into [for] the neighboring villages in an attempt to put together a defense group against the approaching Roman Army. All while back in Arcidava, [That's not how you spelled in in the 1st sentence.] Thiamarkos strikes a deal with the Romans. In which if he and the village ally against Darius, It would result in Thaimarkos [That's not how you spelled it the first two times.] being the new ruler. [I usually think of kings and queens when I see the term "ruler."] [Similar punctuation issues. Why is "It" capitalized if it's not a new sentence?] [I don't see what advantage this deal gives the Roman Empire. They don't need an alliance against Darius and his few recruits. They could overrun the village, killing everyone in it as if they're ants.]

With Darius set to come back to the village with freshly recruited men, he is not welcomed back and is kicked out. Forcing him to relocate with his militia to another village. [Not a sentence; part of the previous sentence.] He is now forced to remake his plans, as he not only has one enemy in the Romans; but an enemy in his town. [That's like saying, Not only is he trapped in a pit full of tigers, there's an annoying fruit fly buzzing around his head.]

Complete at 90,000 words, THE ARMY OF ONE is a young adult historical fiction that is based on the Daco-Romano wars of 101 to 106 A.D.

As Romanian-American, I feel as If [Don't capitalize "If."] Romania is often overlooked  [known more] for its problems rather than It’s [its] rich history. [Actually, it's not known for its problems; it's known for Dracula. And to a lesser extent, Nadia Com─âneci.] This story is my attempt at bringing awareness to Romania’s history, the struggles, and how much blood was shed in the making of this country. [You haven't actually mentioned Romania until now, and while what was once known as Dacia does include modern day Romania, Moldova, and parts of a half dozen other countries, the person reading the query may never have heard of Dacia. Perhaps when the first sentence mentions southern Dacia, you might add (modern-day Romania) so we know what part of the world you're bringing awareness to. Is Romania ever mentioned by name in the book?]

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

Best regards,


I hope this wasn't an attempt to get me to do your homework.

Writing a 90,000-word book is a major accomplishment, but you need a stronger command of English before trying to sell it. Or . . . Can you write in Romanian? 

As for the story, setting this village's political conflict during the time of the Roman Empire is fine, but when the Roman army moves on the village, we tend to stop caring whether Darius or Thiamarkos is the mayor. Is your story 300 vs The Roman Empire, or Darius vs Thiamarkos? 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Face-Lift 1387

Guess the Plot

Infinitely Stranger

1. On the scale of ordinary to bizarre, Billy Bledsoe's talking thumb is something else. 

2. It started with a bird on her ceiling. Then her doorbell ringing at 5 past 6 o'clock every night. Now there's a holly bush growing in her kitchen. Molly is regretting saving that fairy from a fox last Tuesday. 

3. First there was the partridge. Then more birds. The rings were okay, but the geese and swans were a nuisance. Now the drummers and pipers and leaping men are driving Eloise crazy. She's beginning to think Bradley isn't her true love, after all.

4. Cellist Cameron Rhone has discovered that a man he knows is actually a robot. An investigation reveals that other people he knows are also robots. What the...? In fact, robots are permeating all of society! And taking over people's minds! Only Cameron can save humanity, but what can one 12-year-old kid do?

 5. Adam has just met a wonderful woman. They laughed and danced and talked for hours. He told her everything about his life. The next day, she can't remember any of it, but he happily goes through it all over again. The day after, she's forgotten it all again. Will he have the patience to keep this up, or are they destined to be strangers forever? Also … something. I forget what.

Time traveling, world hopping, shape changing, genre bending--no, it's not sci-fi: it's American political studies from a historian-turned-philosopher-turned-anarchist.

7. Joe Miles lives in an average house in suburbia, works an average job in a small town, and has an average family. Then things get so strange that by the end of the story you'll wonder if Joe is crazy, or they are (but the author isn't, honest).

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Twelve year-old Cameron Rhone has served his share of detention, usually for skipping class to practice his cello in the music room. But nothing prepares him for the trouble he gets into when he accidentally hits the strange new principal, Mr. Haley, in the head with a golf ball—and the principal short circuits.

To keep Cameron quiet about what he knows now [now knows], Mr. Haley threatens to implant an electric-shock training device in his skull that’ll turn him into a perfect, obedient student. As the principal alters the curriculum, adds new rules, and gradually replaces human staff members with more robots, Cameron’s frustration grows. Fearing his beloved music teacher, Mrs. Kessum, will soon be replaced by an artless machine, he teams up with his cousin Sing, a self-proclaimed superhero, and searches for answers. ["and searches for answers" is vague. Answers to how to stop it? To what Haley is up to? Something like: "to nip Mr. Haley's scheme in the bud" or "to foil Mr. Haley's master plan" would be more specific.]

As secrets are uncovered, Cameron begins to realize [That could be more specific as well: While spying on an after-school teachers meeting, Cameron discovers that] the robots are not only invading his school but permeating society—and the minds of everyone. With the help of a mysterious girl who may have psychic powers, [What's mysterious about her? I would just call her a psychic girl. If it turns out in the book that she's not psychic, no one will care what you said in the query.] a rouge android, [We don't need to know the android's color. Oh, wait, did you mean a rogue android?] and his cousin Sing, Cameron, while struggling to deal with his parents’ separation, sets out to reclaim his life—and humanity—from the Machines.

INFINITELY STRANGER, a 68,000-word Middle grade science-fiction novel, is available upon request. I have a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Library Science. I am currently a librarian on Long Island. (As far as I know, my neighbors are human). This is my first MG novel.

Thank you for your consideration,

[The title comes from a quotation by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man can invent."]


A good query. I mostly nit-picked.

While I don't think it's much of a concern that the reader might interpret "the principal short circuits" metaphorically (i.e. to mean loses his temper), I thought paragraph 2 might be giving examples of things the principal does because of the short circuiting, but it turns out whatever damage was caused by the golf ball has somehow been repaired between P1 and P2. 

Now if "the principal short circuits" were changed to "sparks fly from Mr. Haley's eyes and ears. Holy Moly! Mr. Haley's . . . a robot?!"  it might fix a couple issues that probably don't need fixing.

"While struggling to deal with his parents’ separation," seems out of place in the sentence it's in. If we need to know that at all, maybe it could be worked into the first paragraph.

I guess you consider the story too serious for an amusing title like WTF? Our Principal's a Robot?!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Face-Lift 1386

Guess the Plot

Pickled Punk

1. Mike Maloney, a circus punk from Detroit grew up cleaning up after elephants and alcoholic clowns. When his ideas on modernizing the circus destroy it instead, he goes into hiding from the furious clown cabal. How long can he escape the swift justice of the International Clown Court?

2. There's this guy named Bob, and the author is way overqualified to be writing this, so the book should fly off the shelves, and any and all persons involved in its publication will be living the high life aboard a twenty-foot yacht with three years of booze included. 

3. Detective Martinez has the case of a lifetime. The punk found dead at the pickle factory turns out to be the heir to a billionaire. Dozens are suspect, but he can't get past a single question: How many pickled peppers did the pickled punk pilfer? 

4. When their only hit from the 70's is used as a movie theme song, the band Pickled Punk are suddenly awash with cash. And groupies. Then Rory Rotten agrees to transport a package home from Thailand for his cute new girlfriend, and the guy in customs makes him open the package, and this punk is in a real pickle.

5. Amanda Green couldn't be happier when her animated character Tickled Pink goes viral on the Internet. But where there's success, there's parody, and soon the poorly drawn, foul-mouthed "Pickled Punk" comes on the scene. When Punk becomes more popular than Pink, Amanda declares war on his creator- her brother. Their sibling rivalry divides the Internet and makes family gatherings much more interesting.

6. After some punk robs Amanda at gunpoint, he takes off running, but he trips and falls into a vat of balsamic vinegar. He can't swim, and he asks Amanda to help him, but she wants her purse back first, so he gives it to her and she still lets him drown. Also, an appearance by Emperor Tojo.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

A secret society of circus clowns, formed in reaction to the Nazi clown ban in occupied France, has infiltrated the Chambers of Commerce, Lions Clubs, VFW halls, and popular family restaurants throughout midwestern America. [Why?]

[Bozo: The Nazis have banned clowns in France.

Krusty: Then we must unite in a secret society here in the midwestern USA.

Pennywise: Makes sense. And we should infiltrate family restaurants.

Ronald:  How? I can't cook. I can't even make a decent hamburger.]

Pickled Punk tells the story of Mike Maloney, a circus punk from Detroit who grows up cleaning up after elephants and clowns, [Are clowns that messy? I'd clean up after a dozen clowns before I'd clean up after one elephant. Although I suppose most clowns would create a lot of empty liquor bottles and puke-covered bedsheets and bloody costumes from butchering children.] learns about heavy drinking and irresponsible sex from his dwarf coworkers, and gets promoted to business manager of the Great Western Circus of the Americas. [Was he qualified for this job?] Mike goes into hiding from the furious clown cabal after his grandiose ideas about how to modernize the circus end up destroying it instead. [Never mind previous question.]

Mike manages to avoid the certain and swift justice of the International Clown Court for twenty years. It's not until his secret protector in the circus dies and he's betrayed by his own sister that Mike is forced to go on the run. [Are the clowns he's on the run from driving a clown car? Just asking. ] [Why is it only the clowns who want revenge? If he destroyed the circus, I would think the lion tamers and guys who get shot out of cannons would also be pissed at him. Perhaps it's only clowns who've unionized.] Along the way, he's poisoned by a mysterious stranger, he picks up a con-woman companion, and he befriends the illegitimate son of a famous Russian entertainer.

Pickled Punk is my second novel and is complete at 103,000 words. I'm a professional technical writer and computer programming teacher, and I've authored or co-authored over a dozen published technical books.

I self-published my first novel in 2017, and it received good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. I recorded an audiobook, built a website, and created a Facebook page that today has more than 5,000 followers.

The experience of self-publishing convinced me to seek representation by an agent for my second novel so that I can benefit from the help of an experienced editor and the distribution of a publisher. [This red stuff is unlikely to matter to an agent.]

I'd be happy to send you the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,


There's a lot of stuff that sounds like it's really funny, and this could appeal to some agents, but I think the query is too listy. All three plot paragraphs include lists. Plus, many of the items being listed don't seem important enough to be in the query. Better to connect ideas so that you tell the main story. I can't tell if the story is mostly what happens after Mike goes on the run, or during the twenty years he's in hiding, or something else. 

Is there a second character important enough to be named, maybe the con-woman or Mike's secret protector in the circus, or his sister?

What does Mike want, what's keeping him from getting it, what's his plan to overcome this obstacle, what's at stake if he fails? Once you work all of that into a cohesive summary of the plot, you can embellish to show your humorous voice. But we need to know you have a story.

You could start: Mike Maloney, a one-time circus punk from Detroit, has risen through the ranks from cleaning up after elephants to apprentice clown to business manager of the Great Western Circus of the Americas. But when his grandiose ideas for modernizing the circus end up destroying it instead, he's forced into hiding by the furious clown cabal. 

Where you go from there depends. Maybe the circus is in his blood and he'll do whatever he has to to keep his feet in his giant shoes, which he does with the help of his secret protector. Or maybe he infiltrates Denny's and his ideas on how to modernize the restaurant make him a millionaire, but then his jealous sister rats him out to the International Clown Court.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Face-Lift 1385

Guess the Plot

Crowns Shall Wail

1. The bastards should wail while I beat and torture the giant shoes, white makeup and big damned fake red noses right off their creepy faces and--what? Crowns? OK, nevermind. My bad.

2. In a world where song is immoral, Kings and Queens compete not with armies but by emitting prolonged, mournful laments while rending their garments. But twelve-year-old princess Tallionia has a beautiful voice and can only sing like an angel. Besides, she likes her only summer dress. What’s a girl to do? 

3. The Wailing Crown will cry out unless it is on the head of the proper king. It hasn't stopped wailing since Friday, when the king died. None of his heirs could make it stop, and Alicia is going to murder someone if she has to listen to its wails one more time. 

4. The old knight stared at the ancient inscription on the castle wall. No one knew who put it there or why. It read:
"Crowns shall wail
Empires fall.
Kings shall weep
Beggars, all.
Swords shall break
Reapers win.
Get those whiskers
Off your chin.
Burma Shave"

What could it possibly mean? 

5. Briar Rose has been wishing for another hundred years of sleep ever since giving birth to identical princelings, Howlin, Waylon and Yelp, whose interminable caterwauling is keeping her awake all night. In desperation, she decides to place three spinning wheels in their nursery. Will this solve her problem or bury the castle under a mountain of tea cozies? 

6. Orphan Fiona wants to know why her parents abandoned her, so when she meets a boy who claims he can take her back in time to see for herself, she jumps at the chance. But will she learn that he parents were actually the king and queen? Also, bad hypnotism.

7. When expert thief Silvi finds a hoard of coins from dozens of countries throughout history, she's divided as to whether to find collectors to sell them to or melt them down for their base value in gold. The problem: the coins start screaming when she removes them from their erstwhile home. Next up, DRAGONS!!!!!! 

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am writing to seek representation for my manuscript. [This goes without saying.]

Fiona has spent her whole life [In the interest of accuracy, I'd change that to: For as long as she can remember, Fiona has been] brooding over the identity of her parents and why she was abandoned to be an orphan. After an encounter with a witch, she finally has the answer to her question, but it is not what she wants to hear. [What was the answer?] [More informative would be "After a witch's spell shows Fiona the past..."]  To top it off, she also finds out her ability to hypnotize via [by] playing her vielle is not a gift but a curse. [For example, when she tells a guy under hypnosis that when he wakes up he'll think he's a bear, he wakes up and mauls her.] Determined that what she currently knows is a lie, Fiona seeks the aid of a refugee boy to travel back in time and see the truth for herself. [Wait, an actual witch was unable to show her the past, but some random refugee boy can take her there?] Alas, not everything is as simple as it seems, [Nothing seemed that simple to me.] and trust must be wisely placed. [Would it be wiser to trust a witch to be able to see the past and tell me the truth, or to trust a refugee boy to be able to take me into the past?]

When everything falls, [Fails?] Fiona has to decide what’s more important- the wilted past or the possibly blooming future. But time is running out; maybe it’s all too late and sacrifices must be made. [This is all vague. Why is time running out? What must be sacrificed?] 

CROWNS SHALL WAIL is an MG historical fantasy complete at 37,00 [37,000?] words. The full manuscript is immediately available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,


How old is Fiona? Is the whole story Fiona's search for knowledge about her parents? If so, tell us about that. All we know is she encountered a witch and a refugee boy, each of whom claimed they could satisfy her curiosity. Your format could be:

Fifteen-year-old hypnotist Fiona has long wondered why her parents abandoned her. She consults a witch, who says her parents couldn't stand her whining, but Fiona doesn't buy it. Then she meets a refugee boy who claims he can take her back in time to see for herself.

That's all I know, but you know the rest, so add two more paragraphs telling us what happens in the past, what obstacles Fiona must overcome, what she learns, what decision she must make now that she knows what happened. You might mention where crowns come in. Be specific.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Beginning 1083

Running. I’ve just got to keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other. And breathing of course, I mustn’t forget that. I can hear them right behind me; the footsteps cracking the same twigs mine just cracked, the lungs sucking in and blowing out my partly used air. They’re getting closer, and I don’t even know what they’ll do if they catch me, but it’ll definitely be terrible and it’ll all be my fault, for taking the short cut through the woods even though I’ve been told (how many times!) that it’s not safe at this time of day, and it’s not so much further to go the other way and… Just keep going, keep going…

Then…I can’t hear them any more. They’ve stopped.

I’m still focussed on escape, watching for trip hazards on the ground instead of looking forward, when I blunder into something. It’s not soft, but it doesn’t hurt, even when it …she… grabs my arms and hisses “What the fuck, Bry?”

It’s big sister Jen – only three years older, but with her by my side I can turn and face them. And it turns out they aren’t six feet tall and armed with mutant superpowers, just normal kids, my age, maybe even a bit younger. Jen just stands there glaring, arms folded, and they slink off. They don’t even know she does Judo at the weekends, it’s all in her, I don’t know, her posture I suppose.

“Jesus, Bry, do I have to do everything for you?”

Hmm, yes, the glaring works on me too and I feel about 6 years old.

That's probably because I am six years old.

Suddenly, everything goes black. As I slump to the ground, cracking twigs, I hear
Jen's voice: "What the fuck, Bry? Did you forget to breathe again?"

Opening: Mel.....Continuation: St0n3henge

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Face-Lift 1384

Guess the Plot

The Tragedy of Us

1. He's a millennial wine snob who wears deck shoes with no socks and keeps a vinyl record collection of bands before they "sold out." I'm a neo-hippie life coach and chakra counselor who shames mothers for using disposable diapers. How did we get this way? He blames Mom. I blame society. 

2. She's a political 
activist, carb lover, and future Pulitzer Prize winner. He's a star athlete who needs a tutor if he's ever gonna get that diploma. The question is, which one will drag the other down to rock bottom?

3. Throughout history, our souls have been reborn and found one another, but never quite connected. In 500 BC, I heard your song calling me, but I didn't hear the rampaging elephant herd. In 1903, you ran to me with arms outstretched, but got pulled under the wheels of the first car either of us had ever seen. That time you were a beekeeper and I ran a peanut farm, and both of us were ready to learn about love, but learned about anaphylaxis instead. Can we ever fulfill our destinies, and somehow avoid another bad ending?

4. A Marin County couple share the methods by which they've managed to overcome such lifestyle-threatening adversities as: How to live with only ten streaming services; My smart toilet stopped talking to me; Amazon delivered the skin exfoliator to my wrong Tesla. 

5.  Andrew and Jonathan, a Manhattan power couple, try to come to grips with where they failed after their adopted child Carl's resume is rejected from the Chelsea Kids Preschool.

6. She put a promising career on hold to raise their children. He became a Supreme Court Justice despite committing perjury and attempted rape. It doesn't look good for this baby-boomer couple.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Charlie is young enough to think she knows it all until life sends her [a] curve ball forcing her to reevaluate everything, even herself. 

The Tragedy of US [Us] is a young Adult [adult] contemporary novel, which is complete at 85k [words]. I believe this book will appeal to Simone’s [Simone] Elkeles and Kasie West fans. 

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Miller—activist, smartass and carb lover—is sure she has it all figured out. She has a plan: finish high school with her best friend, then go to college to become a Pulitzer prize winning [Pulitzer Prize-winning] journalist - clear and simple, right?

Things change when she finds herself doing something she never thought she would do – tutoring, against her will, one of the school’s star athletes. [What "things change"? Her plans to finish high school, go to college and become a journalist?] She realizes there might be something more than what meets the eye. [Something more to what than what meets the eye? To life?] As she finds herself involved in a situation which is more than she bargains [bargained] for – she understands that even our own selves can cheat us, let us down and somehow surprise us. [What situation is she in that's more than she bargained for?] When the time comes to make hard choices she had [has] to decide if she steps up, runs away or hides to [from] everyone even herself? [That was a question?] [What happens that forces her to choose whether to step up, run away or hide?] [This paragraph is totally vague. We need specific information about what happens in your book.]

I am a 36 years old Corporate Lawyer, but writing has always been my passion which I tried to satisfy by publishing many fanfictions and being a co-owner of a facebook blog called ‘xxxxx’ which has now close to 10,000 followers. However, I have decided it is not enough and have taken the leap and wrote [written] my first novel. [This paragraph is a waste of space, better used telling us about the plot.]

For your convenience, I’ve attached the three first chapters [Presumably you mean the first three chapters. Although a book with three first chapters would be good for readers who quit reading after one chapter. Now, if you don't like the first chapter, instead of giving up on the book you can try one of the other two first chapters.] [Once you have a first chapter you like, you then get three second chapters to choose from. Etc. I see this as the future of reading.] of The Tragedy of Us. I would love to send you the complete manuscript if you’re interested.


Your first sentence is a log line, the type of opening you might use if trying to sell a movie script. Your second paragraph should come before you start telling us about the plot or after you finish telling us about the plot. Preferably the latter, as it lacks attention-grabbing information. Your plot summary is vague. All I know is a high school student who aspires to be a journalist is ordered to tutor an athlete. 

There are way too many minor errors. This leads me to assume the book has minor errors on every page, and I don't want to have to deal with that. As a corporate lawyer, you know the importance of getting all the details just right. Start over.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Face-Lift 1383

Guess the Plot

Heil Safari

1. When Diedrich Heil is sent to an adventure camp for troubled teens, he's hoping to hike to the nearest town and spend the summer busking. The problem: the camp is in the middle of Africa, 200 miles from civilization, and his singing tends to attract hostile wildlife.

2. Being a German prisoner in an American POW camp in WWII is bad enough, but when you also suffer from wire enclosure fever, can your fellow POWs trust you to build a tunnel under the barbed wire and lead them to freedom across the Mexican border?

3. Hijinks ensue when a group of Hitler Youth are sent to Africa to "toughen up" for a possible war. What with rampaging rhinos, bloodthirsty lions and territorial baboons, most of the 13-year-old kids won't survive to see combat. But it's all sooo much fun, who cares? 

4. Is Hitler alive and well in Argentina? Most people would say NO, but Sheldon Davis, grandson of Holocaust survivors and Moche culture specialist, is pretty sure he knows where Der Fuhrer is hiding. All he needs is a GoFundMe, some new phones to trade with the locals, a couple of mercenaries, and he'll be in business. If only he wasn't 12 years old.

5. Join Viktor on a guilt trip through polluted deserts, deforested jungles, a museum of endangered and extinct species, and a general wail about human ineptitude. Then, send him money. 

6. A documentary journal of a legion of Nazis sent to hunt rare animals. By the end, they all die (the Nazis that is).

7. A big game hunt gone wrong on the planet Heil VI leads to a missing heiress, a miraculous vaccine, and a spy working for so many sides he doesn't care anymore. Thankfully, Monty is on hand to tame the devils of Hell, er Heil, laser pistol-bullwhip style. Also, genetic manipulation gone horribly wrong. 

8. Did you know there are dangerous things like boar, stags, and wolves in Germany? Colin didn't either, and that's why he's now struggling to stay alive after his school's German club trip goes disastrously wrong. Also, an ancient Nazi hermit.

9.  1887. Helmut Schmeir, archaeologist and hunter, leads a dedicated group of scientists across German East Africa in search of the elusive Ogopogo, a living apatosaurus. With a love triangle between Schmeir, lovely Ingrid Braun, and Dr. Ludwig Meyer. 

Original Version

German officer Captain Martin Beyer is desperate to escape from an American prisoner of war camp. To get out, he and other prisoners are digging a tunnel under the barbed wire fence. Beyer's concern for its success is not only that the Americans might find it, but can it be finished by the engineer in charge, a mentally unstable officer on the verge of suicide from wire enclosure fever. [On the bright side, the barbed wire is above ground and the tunnel is underground.] 

Beyer is worried that his close friend, the engineer, may not complete the project of digging out for another reason. The engineer is in opposition to the fanatical Nazis who rule the camp inside, the Nazis regarding him as unpatriotic. They want him dead. They don't care if it jeopardizes the escape. [We don't mind escaping from this prison, but we refuse to escape through a tunnel built by someone we feel is insufficiently patriotic.] But Beyer can't allow failure. Being too long cooped in the enclosure, he's becoming unhinged. 

He must get out or die.

Through sheer determination and effort, and just as the Americans are about to discover the tunnel, Beyer manages the escape. [Typical officer, takes all the credit after doing none of the work.] On the outside they are met by Heidi Zimmermann, a German-American female relative of one of the escapees. She provides the initial transportation to the Mexican border. In pursuit to recapture the prisoners before they get there are camp guards and FBI agents. [Imagine, there was a time when the US tried to prevent people from crossing the border  into Mexico.] Beyer has trouble eluding them, but he will not give up. He would rather be killed than go back. ["The spectacular views of the mountains are nice, but they keep feeding us those damn Rocky Mountain oysters."] [How many escapees are there? Does Heidi have a bus? It wouldn't be hard to recapture escapees if they were on a 700-mile bus trip.]

It remains little known that during World War II there were over 360,000 German POWs interned in the United States. [450,000 according to Wikipedia.] My story is based on the true event that at Camp Trinidad, Colorado, prisoners escaped through a tunnel. [Camp Trinidad opened in 1943, and while I would become unhinged after two weeks in a POW camp, it seems like a professional soldier ought to be able to handle it for a few years.]

HEIL SAFARI is a 90,000 word thriller novel that is told from three points of view: the German prisoners, the American guards, and the FBI agents. I've had articles and short stories published in magazines, and I have a bachelor's degree in philosophy from a state university. Thank you for your time ans [and] consideration. Below I've included the first 10 pages. 


As these POW camps in the US remain little-known, it might be better to mention them up front. Otherwise the mention of the Mexican border may give readers who thought the setting was somewhere in Europe the impression this is alternate history in which WWII was fought on US soil.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Feedback Request

I failed to notice that this was a rewrite of an earlier query submission, and placed the title in the query queue. So you get to read some more fake plots for Adore. Most recently the title was seen here.

1. A literary novel about the symbiotic relationship between Maureen Montgomery and her 47 cats, all living in a Brooklyn apartment.

2. When a singer at a local Italian restaurant and theater goes silent mid-note during one of his late night practice sessions, 68-year-old next door neighbor Mac Fach (who's been complaining about the place for years) must find the killer, since between dementia and a bloody ax, he suspects it might be him. 

3. When spokesmodel for fragrance Adore La Alina turns up dead in a hotel swimming pool, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, that arrow through her head probably didn't drown her, and two, maybe his wife would like to try some Adore perfume instead of Chanel.

4. Jimmy has discovered a thousand guaranteed methods to pick up girls and wrote them down in a book. Only now that book has gone missing. Can he still woo the girl that has captured his heart this time, or will his faulty memory be his downfall? 

5. Casey thought Grummon loved her. "You are adore," he said, and she thought that was cute, in an English-isn't-my-first-language sort of way. Turns out he was saying "You are a door," in a human-soul-as-gateway-to-another-dimension sort of way. Crap. Now instead of people walking all over her, she has people (and other creatures) walking right through her. Worst of all, she thinks she might be pregnant. 

Dear Evil Editor,

Fourteen year old Liz Morton is so weak she can barely hold her recess apple let alone chew it. [No need to tell us it's her recess apple, unless she has no trouble holding non-recess apples.] Something is deeply wrong. Liz follows her intuition to secluded Spraggs Road, searching the forest for a cure to her exhaustion and spots Nathaniel Tillack at night fall. [She's too weak to hold an apple, but she can search a forest?] 

She met him the night before. She remembers that. Now. [I would go with: She remembers that . . . now.] Shocked at the holes in her memory, Liz opens up to him, sensing he has answers. Nat says he knows exactly how she feels. 'Empathy', apparently, is a sixth sense Liz doesn’t realize she possesses.  Nat is a vampire and his preternatural torment ( including his self-imposed starvation ) is stuck inside her and will kill her within weeks.

 Nat thinks they can solve the problem with a little experimentation. Liz stays with Nat, his dutch painter friend Yvonne and their freaky half-vampire cat at their cottage, so they can go on a midnight hunt. When Nat drinks blood from a victim, Liz feels instant relief. Just like Nat. He insists this insight has broken [means] the empathic connection [is broken] , and takes her home.

Only growing sicker, Liz can’t find Nat [Has she looked in his coffin?] and no doctor believes she’s ill. [She's too weak to hold an apple, yet multiple doctors say there's nothing wrong with her? Are her parents involved in trying to find out what's wrong with her?] With her last reserves of energy, she returns to Spraggs Road, but Nat's enemy is there. Wild eyed Isaskia explains Nat is just using Liz as a walking [living?] storage vessel for his 'Permanent Feeling' (the feeling that will haunt him for all eternity due to how the moment he died affected him.) [That's a wordy and vague explanation for "Permanent Feeling," which is also vague. I'd just say a living storage vessel for his anguish.] [Why is Isaskia there? If I'm the enemy of a vampire, I'm staying as far from his home as possible, not hanging out there. Is Isaskia also a vampire?]

 Liz doesn't know whom to trust: Nat, who has always been kind, or Isaskia, who is willing to share all those secrets Nat keeps close to his chest. One thing is certain, with her body thinking it's a starving vampire, the one person Liz cannot trust for anything is herself—and she is running out of time.

 ADORE, at 94,000-words, is a YA urban Fantasy novel set in a small mountain town in Australia. ( It's not a romance, despite title ) 

Thank you for your time and consideration, 


She suddenly remembers that she met this guy who's a vampire the night before she became impossibly weak, a vampire with whom she now has an empathic connection, and she can't decide whether to trust him? She needs to trust neither of them and check into a hospital for a full battery of tests.

This isn't doing it for me. Maybe start something like: After a night she can barely remember, 14-year-old Liz Morton is as weak as a kitten. She returns to secluded Spraggs Road, hoping to find a clue to her condition, and spots Nathaniel Tillack. Him she remembers. She senses that he has the answers she seeks.

Then Nat claims her exhaustion is caused by their empathy, which he can remedy.

Then Isaskia shows up and claims her exhaustion is caused by Nat, who's using her as a vessel for his anguish.