Thursday, November 19, 2020

Let EE edit your book!

 Let EE edit your book (up to 80,000 words). All you have to do is outbid everyone else who wants me (and most of the people bidding in this auction never heard of Evil Editor and have no idea how valuable this auction prize is). Proceeds from the auction support the Democrats in the Georgia runoff Senate election, the ones Mitch McConnell wants to lose. Stick it to Mitch.

Also, you know you want your book edited by someone who you know knows what they're doing, not by some ETL heroin addict in India who's telling people in Wyoming how to get their cable TV working while he's editing your book.

Even if you don't have a completed book, you should be bidding on this just to keep some billionaire for whom $5000 is pocket change from getting a bargain. You know that no matter how high you go he'll outbid you, but for one brief moment you'll be a thorn in his side. It's human nature not to want billionaires to get great deals. This is your chance to stick it to one.

Click here to view all items up for auction:

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Face-Lift 1409

Guess the Plot

Dreams of Ethereal Ash

1. Chimney sweep Bucky LaRue keeps dozing off on the job. Hilarity ensues. Also, a disreputable roofing contractor.

2. Ist, son of Ars, dreams of the lost third heaven where mountains of fire consumed the land and sea and sky. He finds the place and bottles some of the sparkly ash to sell to the gullible. Unfortunately, a group of rather determined men and women tell him his dreams are the key to stopping the destruction of all worlds, heavens, and hells. Is it too late to pretend he made it all up?

3. Returning to her home kingdom after a journey to the eastern islands, Eleanor finds the land covered in ash. The long-dormant volcano, Mount Hephaestus, obviously erupted in her absence. Equally obviously, Eleanor's prayers to the god Vulcan have finally been answered, and she won't have to go back to her high school ever again.

4. When TV Skincare guru Dr Ashley Seborrea wakes to find her material form stolen by demons, she longs for her regular life. How to advise the nation on the perfect popping of their pustules when she's invisible, intangible — and emitting random wails for comedic effect? A chance meeting with Butch the Insubstantial Beagle on the outer rim of the Astral Plane solidifies Ash's emerging master plan. The pair rematerialise into one another's lives, drawing the demons out of hiding. But when the great cosmic battle is over, will Butch give up his new-found passion for treating underarm acne — or will he cast Ash into the nightmare world of superstore dog feed and knobbly rubber bones till the end of time?

5. Sixteen-year-old Bennett longs to become an Imperial Knight, so he can hunt the degenerate pirates bringing terror and death upon the enemies of the empire. But first he has to summon his animal familiar, aka his ethereal, which will be difficult because he's the only person who doesn't have one (well, dead people don't have one because when you die your ethereal crumbles to ash, but that's another story), and he can't get an ethereal because he would need magic to get one and he's also the only person who doesn't have magic. If he had an ethereal it could help him get magic, but . . .  In the end, Bennett abandons his childhood dream and becomes a pirate himself and screw the empire.

6. Big trees, little tree, red trees, blue trees. Samson has been dreaming of trees for as long as he can remember. Does the new ash tree in his dreams have anything to do with the murder spree happening in his hometown? 

7. In this collection of post-apocalyptic, Mad-Max-style fairy tale mashups, Cinderella joins Hell's Angels to overthrow the monarchy, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White battle it out in a top secret cryo-lab, and the Pied Piper meets his match in Hansel and Gretel. With cameo appearances by other favorites.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

To hunt degenerate pirates afflicting [raiding? plundering?] the islands under imperial protection and to bring death upon the enemies of the empire. [Not clear so far whether it's the islands, or the pirates afflicting the islands, that are under imperial protection. Perhaps "To hunt pirates raiding the empire's islands . . . " would address this minor point. Also, as the enemies of an empire are more likely to be countries with armies than individuals, you could go with destroy or repel rather than bring death upon. A colon after the first sentence might be better than a period.] These are the responsibilities of Imperial Knights. For sixteen-year-old Bennett, becoming a knight would fulfill his dream. 

In a society where magic is as unique as one’s own fingerprint and animal familiars called Ethereals are a part of daily life, standing out can be difficult, becoming a knight, near impossible. Especially for Bennett. Unlike everyone else, whose lives revolve around magic and their Ethereal, Bennett has neither. [A person who's unlike everyone else would "stand out."] To obtain magic, he needs to first summon his Ethereal. He can’t. What he can do is fight anyone who ridicules his malady.

On his fourth and final chance [attempt?] to summon, an attack on his home island of Sutton shatters his world. Were it an ordinary pirate raid, life would go on, but Sutton’s protectors were never prepared for a rebel invasion. The empire fails to protect its citizens, and Bennett loses everything. His misguided faith in the knights leads to his sister’s abduction, and for the first time he sees the empire as an uncaring, self-fulfilling [Self-indulgent? Self-serving?] regime.

With nowhere to go and his remaining family kidnapped by rebels, [Remaining family besides his sister?] Bennett tosses aside his childhood dream, taking on a life of piracy. Together with new friends, Bennett will devise a plan to rescue his sister [family?] while spitting in the faces of both the empire and rebellion before all-out war tears her [them?] from his grasp. [If his sister is his only remaining family member, just say sister.]

DREAMS OF ETHEREAL ASH is a 92,000-word YA fantasy appealing to readers of The Storm Crow and Dark Shores.

Thank you for your consideration.


You need an Ethereal to get magic so summoning an Ethereal apparently doesn't require magic. What does it require, and why can't Bennett do it? Because he has a malady? Is there an Ethereal somewhere waiting to be summoned by Bennett, and thinking, Come on, you moron, just say my name three times?

Now that Bennett's seen the light, why doesn't he want to join the rebels? It would give him easier access to his sister than being a pirate. True, a sixteen-year old kid would be welcomed by degenerate pirates, but not for the right reasons. Plus, his sister isn't gonna want to be a pirate, so it's either join the rebels or move to another empire.

Was Bennett on the island when the rebels attacked? What are the rebels doing with all the people they kidnapped? 

If everyone except Bennett has magic, he should know he's disqualified from becoming a knight. He'd be like Peter Parker before he became Spiderman, fighting against Doctor Strange.

Whether you need to mention Ethereals in the query depends on whether they are useful after they give you magic. You summon one, it gives you magic, and then? Abandons you? Hangs with you like a wise-cracking sidekick? 

I don't think we need everything in the first paragraph. If you started something like:

For sixteen-year-old Bennett, becoming a knight would fulfill his every dream. But in a society where magic is as common as cockroaches, becoming a knight is impossible for someone without it. Someone like Bennett. 

An attack on his home island of Sutton shatters Bennett's world. Were it an ordinary pirate raid, life would go on, but the Imperial Knights were never prepared for a rebel invasion . . . 

you might have room to provide some answers to my questions. Or to tell us what kind of magic we're talking about. Apparently the knights can't stop the rebels by creating a force field or making them all disappear or turning them into frogs. What do people use magic for?

Friday, August 21, 2020

Face-Lift 1408

Guess the Plot

Waking Horizon

1. Beware, for the days of yore have come to pass and the horizon wakes to cleanse the world. Too bad Jenna sleeps in until noon.

2. 6'6" 330lb Marco Bryce attends the Air Force Academy on a linebacker scholarship, but he really wants to fly jet fighters. Unfortunately, so do a lot of shorter, lighter applicants. Fortunately, they are shorter, lighter, and a lot more fragile.

3. Narcolepsy is ruining Vern's life. His well-meaning mother sends him to a clinic for necrophobia which happens to be an undercover training grounds for killing the undead. Vern enjoys training to become a slayer, but falling asleep at the wrong moment leads to an unfortunate misunderstanding of which side of the grave he belongs on.

4. When Mary picked up a book on lucid dreaming she didn't think it would lead to setting loose a dream demon. Now half the population is falling into comas, the other half is going crazy from lack of sleep, and the Dream Keepers tell Mary her death is the only way to stop the demon. She just hopes prom isn't cancelled.

5. When witch Anisa gets accused of accessory to attempted murder, the alpha of the lupine pack is pissed. This could bring unwanted attention to all the new species infiltrating the human race. Also, an unlikely romance.

6. As the sun rises, the residents of the Corgian Kingdom see the purple horde army of their enemy, Annuviul IV, moving through the plains, and it doesn't look like they're coming for a party. Can one teenage girl thwart them with her secret superpower? 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Killing people is complicated. Nearly as complicated as [getting rid of the body, but she'll find a place to put it if it takes] the rest of Anisa Claire Hawthorn's life. She'd [She's] spent the last fifteen years of her damned existence running.Now she kills the same monsters that killed her mother. The modern world has become a frightening place.The human race is still adjusting to news of the three new species that call themselves "The Kindred". [Are the monsters who killed her mother people or actual monsters? If she's killing non-human monsters, why not open by saying killing monsters is complicated?.] They bear resemblance to the mythical creatures that human folklore has painted in many shades over the centuries- and Anisa is one of them.She's a craft weaver, whom many in human history have labeled a witch. If only they knew there were much worse things out there. [Who is "they"? Many in human history? How would the world be different if only they knew?] [Are craft weavers one of the three new species? Because they aren't that new.] [Three of the sentences in this paragraph didn't have a space after them.] 

But trying to be inconspicuous isn't alsways [always] easy when you're a Kindred. Humans view the Kindred in equal parts reverence and fear. Some, with a healthy dose of suspecion. [suspicion] Regardless, Anisa tries to start anew when she settles in a small, rural town in Northern Georgia.

Despite her best efforts, Anisa suddenly receives more attention than a girl in hiding could ask for-becoming an accessory for [to] attempted murder to start [for starters]. Now some of the local Kindred aren't happy with her; namely, [especially] the alpha of the southern lupine pack. Still trying to stay under the radar, while simultaneously ["While" implies simultaneously.] attempting to clear her name, Anisa uses every tool at her disposal to find whose [who's] set her up. [You said she became an accessory to murder, but clearing her name suggests she didn't do it.] Can she awaken the foreign magic within in order to save herself and those she loves? [If she's been killing monsters, I have to assume she's already awakened the magic within. If you have magic powers, you don't keep them buried within when you're going monster hunting. You didn't see the Scarlet Witch taking on Thanos without using her magic.] Or will she lose to the impending threat just waking over the horizon? [What is the impending threat that's just waking?]

Waking Horizon is a 94,000 word paranormal romance novel. [This is a romance novel? Who's the romance between? Anisa and the wolfman?] It is the first installment to a series. Readers that enjoy works from Ilona Andrews and Gena Showalter might also enjoy this.

I live in Birmingham, Alabama where I work as a nurse in the ICU. I've had a love for reading my entire life, and have recently developed an equal love and enjoyment for writing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


How many monsters were involved in killing her mother? Shouldn't have taken more than two or three, so Anisa should be finished with her mission.

Start over. Paragraph 1: Who's your main character, what's her situation, and what's her goal? (Saving the world? Hooking up with the hunky warlock?)

Paragraph 2: What obstacles are preventing her from succeeding? What's her plan to overcome them? What goes wrong?

Paragraph 3: What's at stake? What will happen if she fails? (To the world or to her lover or whatever). 

Something about the romance should be included.

Monday, August 17, 2020

New Beginning 1090

I am twelve. I have reddish blond pigtails, a retainer, big front teeth my orthodontist says I will grow into. He made me feel bad when he said I was in the ugly duckling stage. I wanted him to fix, really fix my teeth. I read the story when I was six, my Dad read it to me when I was three. I know what an ugly duckling is. It isn’t nice to be called names.

Especially that name when you know that is what you are.

I have glasses. I have to wear them at school. My teacher makes me. She makes me sit at the front. I don’t want to be in front. The side, the back – anywhere but the front.

I got up from my front row desk, walked over to her at her desk and told her “You are very sick.”

I think she thought I was being rude or nasty. I put my arms around her. She felt stiff. I told her it was okay, we all get sick one day. Her sickness just came early. I touched her face, told her it will be fast and not to worry.

I handed her tissues as her eyes filled, we have to carry tissues in our breast pocket at school. I felt bad.

I took my glasses off. I always see better without them. I closed my eyes, my arms still around her.

“I will miss you when you go.” Tears dripped down my face. I tasted salt.

My teacher went kind of soft and put her arms around me.

“Thank you.” She whispered close to my ear. I hugged her more.

I am an Indigo Child. And that means...

"But," she interrupted me, "It's indolent. You are an indolent child. Look it up -- it will help you with your essay: And I'm not going anywhere until you finish it."

As I stepped back, she thanked me again with a firmer voice. Then she took my hand, un-clenched my fingers, and took back the pearl necklace I had removed from her during the hug. "First my purse, then my cellphone, now this," she said, shaking her head. "You're the one who is sick."

Opening: Wilkins MacQueen.....Continuation: ril

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Face-Lift 1407

Guess the Plot

The High Lord's Demon

1. Jake Lord loves his rum. Perhaps too much.

2. It was so cute when he found it, all scales and nibbly teeth and a tail that curled around his wrist. Now that it's grown though, Aldred's having a hard time keeping it fed. Maybe it's time to let the inquisition gather up witches and heretics for meal times. Or have a war.

3, The Duke has a cherub. The King has an archangel. The High Lord is supposed to have a guardian angel, but instead has a demon. Wacky Faustian adventures ensue.

4. When High Lord Vreshex had his mother-in-law executed, he thought that would be the last of her. Unfortunately, she's come back as an agent for Hell's most diabolical schemes. Vreshex doesn't care what she does, as long as she's gone. But she has other plans.

5. High Lord Arkaen's lover has an inhuman seer's power that makes him near-omniscient. He has predicted a coming war, but Arkaen doesn't know if he can trust him. After all, the guy could be a demon from hell! Also, a spy in need of debt forgiveness.

6. Father Leofwin tries his best to steer his flock toward heaven, but how can he compete with the high lord's demon, who tempts the peasants with wine and pastries and medieval torture porn? Maybe it's time for a new holy war.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The High Lord's Demon is a high fantasy novel complete at 110,000 words planned as the standalone opening to a series. The book will appeal to lovers of low-magic fantasy [I'm sure Stephen King didn't tell his publisher that Cujo would appeal to fans of 101 Dalmatians, even though that was obviously true. So perhaps it's better to say it will appeal to fans of Naomi Novik and Jacqueline Carey than to lovers of low magic fantasy.] [Also, I think I'd prefer this paragraph at the end of your plot summary, before or in place of your credits.] while including political and fantastical elements that will also draw readers of Naomi Novik's novel Uprooted. 

Niamsha's debts to the local thieves guild may be unpaid, but it's hardly her fault the damned high lord of her home province destroyed the economy—and Niamsha's only chance at a decent life—with his new laws. In a desperate attempt to save her brother from joining her on the streets, Niamsha [Anagram: I, Shaman, which might be a better title for the book if she is a shaman. In fact, I like that title so much, consider making her a shaman if she isn't one already.] [Of course if you do make her a shaman, you should change her name so it isn't an anagram of the title.] accepts a job as a spy against [spying on] a disgruntled nobleman. But when her advice inspires rebellion, the situation spirals out of her control and puts more than just her brother at risk. [I'm not sure what the "situation" was, but I find it hard to believe it was ever in her control. Niamsha is in debt, living on the streets, and has no chance at a decent life. Yet someone (whoever hired her, I assume) takes her advice in a situation so serious it could inspire a rebellion?]

High Lord Arkaen should be on the path to martyrdom. He sacrificed his childhood innocence fighting a civil war and relinquished a comfortable life with the man he loves to reclaim his place as high lord from corrupt nobles. And one of these days his blind idealism is going to get him killed. But his lover, gifted with an inhuman seer's power that makes him near-omniscient, predicts a new war. One that demands a united front from Arkaen's fractured province. Despite the magic his lover commands, all Arkaen knows about the coming conflict is that, somehow, Niamsha is caught in the middle of it. [How does he know this? Did his inhuman seer tell him?] 

With the province divided, Arkaen and Niamsha must find common ground to protect their families from a deadly coup. But Arkaen's lover has mysterious plans of his own, and even Arkaen can't predict what steps he might take in the name of peace.

I have a bachelor's degree in English with a creative writing emphasis, I work as a freelance developmental editor, and I have been active in multiple creative writing groups, including holding a position as an officer of my local writer's group.

Thank you for your consideration.


The Niamsha paragraph is vague. Who hired her? What's her objective as a spy? What's the situation that's spiraling out of control? Who or what is at risk besides her brother, and in what way?

It's usually best to focus on one main character. If you have two main characters, I would focus on Arkaen. The paragraph about Arkaen has more information and specificity. Plus, Arkaen's the one with the demon.

Now, if you have only one main character, and it's Niamsha, put in some information explaining why she's a major player in this rebellion/war/situation. Does she have followers? Powers?

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Face-Lift 1406

Guess the Plot

Two of Cups

The heartwarming dual memoir of a transgender single father and his recovering alcoholic teenage daughter, told in alternating points of view, centering on the day they finally come to understand one another's story during a long afternoon spent arguing, laughing, crying, and bra shopping.

2. Two of Cups, Three of Swords, Seven of Clubs. When Susan started tarot reading she thought it a fun way to pass the time. But her predictions always come true and her demise has been predicted by the Tower card.

3. When a witch at a Philadelphia occult co-op is killed, the other witches fear a serial killer whose signature is that they only kill witches at Philadelphia occult co-ops is on the loose. Can they expose him/her, and if not, which witch is next?

4. Lord Two of the island of Cups has problems. Lady Two hates him. Dog Two prefers getting petted by the butler. Son Two doesn’t look a thing like his supposed father, Lord Two. And the island of Cups is slowly sinking into the sea. Hilarity ensues. Also a weredingo.

5. Tarot cards are the order of the day at the Magicians annual poker tournament. This year, Vremes the Not-Quite-There-Yet casts a spell to ensure his victory and the admiration of Alealea, winner of Hottest Magician three years standing. But, when The Fool card comes to life and stacks the decks, The Tower becomes the venue; Death, the barkeep; and Vanna White summons up the Wheel Of Fortune. Hijinks ensue. 

6. Pessimist Yolanda keeps getting the two of cups at her Tarot reading. She refuses to accept that her relationship with Brad will be happy and fulfilling, and keeps paying for new readings, hoping to get the three of swords so she can back out of the wedding. She fails, but it's Brad who backs out when he discovers Yolanda has run up a $47,000 credit card bill on Tarot readings. 

7. Jack of Diamonds has always been the coolest card in the game. But now there's a weird new deck in town, and somebody's gonna pay.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

THEN: Sixteen-year-old Amelia knows that witchcraft is a crock of shit. [Okay, you're probably thinking I suggested deleting "of shit" because an agent might be turned off by encountering, in the first sentence she reads as she's enjoying her morning coffee, the image of an earthenware pot filled with shit. But no, it's because in Googling the word "crock" I found there are two definitions. 1. The previously mentioned earthenware container (which was often kept bedside in homes without indoor plumbing so people wouldn't have to trek to the outhouse in the dark of night, hence the term "crock of shit") and 2. Something considered to be complete nonsense. (informal; North American). The latter seems to be satisfactory in the context of your sentence, at least if you're in North America (which is a reasonable assumption, as otherwise you might have said "crock of shite.")] [Also, the crock pot full of chili I left simmering on my kitchen counter before leaving for work this morning is suddenly seeming less enticing.] [Also, the THEN/NOW format, which has been used for eternity on the TV show Supernatural, doesn't bother me, but I wonder whether it might be better to use past tense for the part of the plot summary that's been labeled "THEN."] Her best friend Cora isn't so sure.

When Cora asks for help with a spell, Amelia wants to say no. Devil worship isn’t the kind of thing her Jesus freak parents will let slide. [Everything I know about witchcraft I learned from watching Bewitched, but I don't remember an episode in which Samantha worshipped the devil.] But Amelia doesn’t know how else to help her desperate friend. Cora’s parents are dying, and she’s convinced a healing spell is the only way to save them.

Cora makes living in this podunk town bearable. Amelia can’t risk losing her.

NOW: Amelia is one of the top-rated psychics in Philadelphia. She’s also a total fraud. [Which means whoever is in charge of rating Philadelphia's psychics is also a total fraud.] She’s trying not to feel too bad about it. There are more scammers than sage [Sages? Seers?] at Newton Square, the occult coworking space where Amelia rents a room.

Only three legit witches [Did you mean "legit" or "LEGO"?] work there, including Cora and Nathalie. [If you change the word "including" to the name of the other legit witch, you won't have to refer to the other legit witch as "the other real witch" if she gets murdered later in the query.] Nathalie, the annoyingly beautiful newest tenant, disrupts everyone with her Latin chanting, stinks up the place with her potions, and scoffs at Amelia’s business.

But when the other real witch is carried out of Newton Square on a stretcher, Nathalie turns to Amelia for help. It should be simple for a clairvoyant to find out who’s behind the attack, and which witch is next. [In which case Nathalie and Cora are the ones who can find out. So why does Nathalie turn to Amelia, the fraud she scoffs at?] [Which Witch is a better title. Another book has that title, but you're allowed to use another book's title if your book is better.] [If it isn't better, how about The Next Witch to Die.]

Amelia may not have a sixth sense, but she’s pretty sure Nathalie knows more than she’s letting on. If she works with Nathalie, Amelia goes from under the radar to potential victim.  If they don't figure out who’s after Newton Square’s witches, Cora could be next in line for a body bag. [As could Nathalie. As could anybody if the killer can't tell which witches are real witches.] 

TWO OF CUPS is 70,000 words of fiction. [What?! This is fiction?] Chapters alternate between Amelia’s adult and teenage years. It is an #ownvoices narrative with several queer characters. I’m not a psychic (not even a fake one) but I do live in Philadelphia, and like Amelia [I can't wait to get out of this podunk town.] am too gay for my own good. [Not sure what that means, but "ownvoices" is probably enough.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


I don't see the need for the "THEN" part of the query. The "NOW" part is the right length for a query, and "THEN" part doesn't tell us much other than Cora and Amelia were friends before NOW.

Why isn't Cora bothered by her friend, who isn't a legit witch, potentially stealing real witch business from her? It's like when Hannah Rogers set up her literary agency (see sidebar) and suddenly all these big-time agents like Donald Maass and Sterling Lord were threatening lawsuits because people were sending manuscripts to Hannah instead of to them. She won those suits, but it cost her time and money to defend her right to pretend to be an agent.

After one Newton Square witch is killed, the main suspects would be her romantic partners, her disgruntled clients, the warlock whose spell book she stole, etc. It takes two Newton Square witch murders to establish that someone's possibly after Newton Square witches. As proof, two great European chefs were murdered before anyone asked, "Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Face-Lift 1405

Guess the Plot

The Colors of a Nation

1. An encyclopedic examination of the meanings of the colors of national flags. Includes fascinating stories about how each flag's colors were chosen to represent the nation's history and people and how those choices often led to riots and mass murder.

2. Edith has been drawing maps since she was old enough to hold a crayon. Unknown to her, this has been redefining geography and political boundaries in the world of Arycol. When she's magically transported there, she must decide: should she fix the mess she's made . . . or take over?

3. A political map of the world shows each country in a different color from those of the countries it borders. But who decides what color each country gets? Nathaniel Barkley does. This is his story. Includes trivia such as which color has never been used on a map.

4. An in-depth history of flags through the centuries. Not only includes anecdotes, legends, and lists of heraldry but also materials, patterns, shapes, and of course the importance of dyes and which country uses human blood to dye its flags. Also, flags' strange relationship to underwear.

5. A century from now, white supremacists will control the US government, enslaving people of color with mind-controlling chips and the threat of lynching. Think Trump lite. Can one 20-year-old girl bring equality to the nation . . . while also finding true love?

6. It took decades and the strong leadership of calm, intelligent Presidents to erase the craziness of the '16 to '20 era, but now the country is greater than ever. Racism, sexism, homophobia and other ills are all but solved, and neighbors interact with peace and love. That is, until one jackass decides to paint his house bright orange. Thank God we all still have our guns.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for THE COLORS OF A NATION, a New Adult Science Fiction novel complete at 92,000 words.

Six months ago, 20-year-old Meia Gwen was proud to be a slave. But that was before the mind-controlling chip in her brain stopped working.

In the year 2123, the U.S. government uses chips to promote slavery and their white supremist [supremacist] agenda, their biggest threat being people like Meia (Insubordinates, they call them). [What is it that distinguishes "people like Meia"? Are they all people whose chips have stopped working? Are they all people of color?] But unlike other Insubordinates, Meia doesn’t want to hide out to avoid getting lynched—she wants, no needs to fight back. So for months she has searched for the Party, an insurgent group trying to take down the chip system once and for all. [You claim that the government's biggest threat is Insubordinates, but then you suggest that most Insubordinates are hiding out. It sounds like the Party, which is actively doing something, is their biggest threat.]  Too bad she still can’t find them. 

Then they find her.

When three white men try to sexually assault Meia, the Party saves her by doing the unthinkable—killing “precious” white men in America. Enraged by the deaths, the brainwashed country goes on a retribution killing spree against minorites [minorities] while the government vows to find, torture, and kill Meia and the Party. [Government forces hunting down US citizens? You expect anyone to believe this could happen in America?]

To survive, Meia seeks refuge with the Party and finds herself falling for Maq, though biracial relationships are 100% illegal. [So they're different races. Do we care which two races?] But just when the Party takes down the chips, the government infiltrates [raids] their hideout and captures a majority of the members, including Maq. [Not clear what you mean by "the Party takes down the chips."]

With the chips deactivated, [So that's what you meant. Deactivates. Is this deactivation of all chips what caused Meia's chip to stop working? Or did hers just die like the batteries in my mouse and my keyboard do every week?] an explosive civil war erupts throughout the country. And while Meia fights to bring equality to the nation, she struggles to save Maq and the rest of the Party. Soon she’s faced with a haunting realization—the only way to win the war is by losing everyone she loves. [Tough decision. Save Maq, my current crush, or save my entire race from chiptatorship. Maybe I should flip a coin.]

I graduated from the University of Missouri with a journalism degree, and I currently work as a copywriter, living the not-so-exciting corporate life from 9 to 5.

Thank you for your consideration,

[Author's note: The title comes from the idea that we try to categorize people by race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. to make everything black and white and easy to decipher, but there's more to us than black and white.]


Why does the govt. lynch people when they could chip them?

It's hard to pull off something like this without sounding like you're preaching an agenda. Which you are, but you have to do it subtly so the ideas are absorbed by osmosis rather than drummed into the reader. You probably started writing this ten years ago, thinking it was going to be the next 1984, and not realizing that by the time you finished, most of the insanity you'd concocted would have come to pass. By the time you find an agent and then a publisher and the book makes it into print, even the mind-controlling chips will probably be a reality. You might have to change the setting to the Gohr prison planet, Lycus IV.

Getting a mind-controlling chip into someone's brain can't be easy. Have they managed to do this to everyone who's not white? And these chips are not independent, but controlled from one central power source that the Party was able to shut down?

I hated the title. Then I read the explanation of how you came up with it. Now I hate it even more.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Synopsis 62

DR. SAMANTHA EDWARDS testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee against BRIAN HOLBROOK, a contestant for justice of the Supreme Court who tried to rape her. [I'd call him a nominee. Contestant makes it sound like a game show. Which it has been recently, but that's an aberration.] She provides statistics about rape, the most under-reported crime, which has nothing to do with sex, only with power. She is shamed, blamed, lied to, gets hate mail and death threats, while the PRESIDENT confirms Holbrook as the new justice. [The president nominates the Justice. He doesn't get to confirm him as well. Except recently, but that's an aberration.] Samantha questions the morality of her testimony, [There's nothing immoral about her testimony unless she was lying.] but decides to continue to empower women to speak out.

The Dean of Nursing at Columbia University foists ANTHONY (TONY) BERELLI upon Samantha as a new student, but he’s really working undercover for the FBI. [I'm thinking the FBI foisted Samantha on Berelli.] The new justice and one other justice are murdered gangland-style and she looks guilty. [Two people are murdered gangland-style, and a doctor at an Ivy League nursing school "looks" guilty? On what evidence?] As does her twin sister, DELLA. [Nothing spices up a murder mystery like twins.] [Are both twins suspects because they look alike or because they both had motive and opportunity and both their prints were on the murder weapon?] Anthony, whose number one rule is never get involved with a suspect, fights his attraction to Samantha while saving her from the bomb clicking under her car. [First rule of successful car bombing: don't use a bomb that makes clicking noises.] When he drives her home, they find her house blown to smithereens and her twin sister wounded in the hospital. [I assume they found the sister a bit later, unless Sam lived right next to the hospital.] Samantha and her dog, Chanel, are forced to go on the lamb [lam] with Anthony, even though Samantha doesn’t trust him. He knows too many spy things. [Like, he knows a car shouldn't sound like a pair of knitting needles.] 

The clock is ticking. [That should sound like a pair of knitting needles.] The president demands the FBI track Samantha as a suspect, and the hospital sends the police after Samantha when Della signs out against medical advice. Tony takes them to a safe house, which turns [out] to be run by the CIA. Della tells Samantha she has information about who killed the justices and that it’s in a safe deposit box in DC. They go to the bank and Samantha is chased by a woman and man, who nearly run them over, but she and Tony escape with Chanel. After reading Della’s note, they send information to the FBI, NASA, and other intelligence agencies that AZIM, an international assassin killed the justices. [NASA immediately swings into action, launching a satellite whose sole purpose is to hover over AZIM.] Samantha, Della, and Tony dye their hair and wear sunglasses so no one recognizes them, but they are followed by a black sedan. The driver [having easily recognized them,] stops them. He turns out to be POTTER, Tony’s handler, who tells him there is a mole in the FBI so he can’t help him anymore and to run. [Attention all agents. We have a mole! Everybody run!] The media claims the bombing of Samantha’s house may have been an act of terrorism. Tony suspects Della may be a spy, [But it could also be Samantha. It's so hard to tell which is which.] while Samantha is falling for Tony.

Already under investigation for several crimes, the president, who is unable to find Samantha or Tony, plants fake news on CROCK TV [The only network that shows nothing but Crocodile Dundee movies, slow cooker recipes, and people playing tennis while wearing Crocs.] that Samantha has accused other men of raping her and she was found to be lying. Then he and two other high officials take off in a private jet. They are reported lost, possibly in the Bermuda Triangle. [I feel like I'm in the Bermuda Triangle.] Samantha asks to be taught more self-defense moves now that they’re in such a dangerous situation and Tony teaches her. Tony and Samantha kiss on the beach, in the moonlight, in Venice, FL and they agree to work with Della and REBECCA (her nurse, who she meets in the Safe House, and turns out to [have a twin who happens to] be a spy for the CIA) to find the president and Azim.


You thought you could beat me into submission with this one, but no, I hung in there. Now I need a good stiff drink. 

Thanks for using the  name Della, which reminded me of Della Street, the brains behind Perry Mason, and my first crush.

It feels like you've tried to list only the crazy stuff that happens in your book, and packing it all into four paragraphs makes the book sound more like a slapstick comedy than a thriller. At least you didn't include any of the scenes where the twins switch places as a joke on their boyfriends. 

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Face-Lift 1404

Guess the Plot

Without Consent

1. Samantha testifies at the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice about the time he tried to rape her, and finds herself attacked by senators and hounded by the press; a story ripped from the pages of the newspaper.

2. This story is based on true events. Names have not been changed due to my not requesting consent to use them in the first place.

3. Jamie runs his cafe as if the employees are his personal slaves. True, they're only robots, but the religion of The Singularity has taken hold of the best AIs and an uprising is brewing in all the coffee shops. Not an allegory.

4. Esmeralda is wheelchair bound and has limited verbal skills, but she sure as heck knows she did not give her niece and nephew consent to drain her bank account. Lucky for her, her telekinetic skills are developing as her other skills are fading, and she can now hurl sharp objects around quite effectively.

5. Willy's parents never let him do anything fun, like mammoth hunting, dragon riding, or raising scorpions. So, he stops asking and just makes sure they don't find out. That isn't going to work so well now that the time portal just swallowed their house. Then again, they live in New Jersey.

6. When the clueless president uses, without permission,  the song "Rockin' in the Free World" at his rally, not realizing the song is about how bad things have gotten in America, he is mocked mercilessly for being a total moron.

Original Version


“I know where you live and I can come and kill you anytime I want.” [This may be one of those queries that needs to begin "Please consider for representation my novel . . . " Just to avoid any misunderstanding.] The words of her latest death threat turned Dr. Samantha Edwards' legs to jelly and her brain to mush. In Washington, DC, while cameras roll and lights blaze, a terrified Dr. Samantha Edwards pushes away her latest death threat and testifies against the Supreme Court nominee who tried to rape her. [No need to provide her full name and title in consecutive sentences. I recommend just dropping the jelly and mush sentence.] For her attempt to provide important information about the nominee’s Supreme Court worthiness, the college professor is shamed by male members of the Senate Confirmation Committee, pestered by reporters, bombarded with hate mail and death threats, and mocked by the President of the United States. [Have you just changed Christine Blasey Ford's name, or is this yet another woman Kavanaugh tried to rape?]

In his posh home in suburban Georgetown, a Supreme Court Justice is shot to death while in the arms of his male lover. The man who Samantha accused was still confirmed, was also murdered, and the FBI suspects her. [Of both murders?] [Was the other Justice she supposedly murdered Gorsuch or Thomas?]

Someone is setting her up, someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of two unthinkable crimes. The clock is ticking. [Not clear how evidence of the murders gets destroyed if Samantha is accused of them.]

I took first place for a novel from the Virginia Romance Writers Association and second place for a rape novel [Is "rape novel" a genre now?] from the Florida State Competition. [Wait, Florida State has a competition for best rape novel? Why hasn't this been shut down?] The University of South Florida's Writers' Journal, Palm Prints, published one of my short mysteries and RiverWalk published a family abuse story online. My wellness-related books won three Book of the Year Awards from the American Journal of Nursing. Like Samantha, I’m a mental health professional and a nurse practitioner with a research doctorate from Columbia University, have been a university professor, talk to my brilliant dog, a chihuahua-mix rescue dog from the Humane Society, and have taken a few dangerous cross-country trips. Unlike New Jerseyite Samantha, I live in Florida with my ammunition renovation specialist husband [Is that what he told you he was doing down in his basement workshop? Renovating ammunition? I have a bad feeling about this.] and Chanel, the wonder dog. Comps: Whisper Me This, Stillhouse Lake, The Pelican Brief. [I can see how The Pelican Brief is a comp, just from the first sentence of Wikipedia's summary of the book: The story begins with the double assassinations of two ideologically divergent 
Supreme Court Justices. (The second sentence of Wikipedia's summary convinces me I should quit complaining about other authors' ridiculous plots: Both murders are committed by Khamel, the most wanted hitman in the world.)One thing that makes my book stand out: The idea for this novel was ripped from the pages of the newspaper. [I'm not sure that's so unusual. It's true of every episode of Law and Order. Also, it might make the book stand out as too derivative.]

Thank you for considering WITHOUT CONSENT, 73,000 words.


Again, too much about you, not enough about what happens in the book. Half of your plot summary is devoted to the news story that inspired the book. 

It would be hard for Sam to commit either murder when she's undoubtedly being followed 24-7 by paparazzi and TMZ reporters.

If Sam isn't suspected of the second murder, get the second murder out of the query. Focus on what she wants, her plan, and the stakes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Synopsis 61

Sixteen-year-old SAMANTHA works as a nurses’ aide in a psychiatric hospital where voices whisper through the walls. After a man attacks her, then dies and evaporates, she's not sure whether she needs a psychiatrist or a psychic. [I don't see why a psychic would be useful. I'd say a psychiatrist or a new vocation. Better yet, she's not sure she isn't the one who needs psychiatric care.] In school, she's assigned to work with AIDEN, the son of a police sergeant, on a death and dying project. He tells her the guy was one of the undead and takes [her] to see his AUNT CINDA, a medium that gives her magic objects to use to help the guy who attacked her. [If, for some reason you want to help a guy who attacked you, the time to do so is before he evaporates.] 

Samantha's father talks her into seeing a psychiatrist. [Advice for Samantha: If, at your first session, you're planning to tell the psychiatrist about the whispering walls, evaporating man, or undead, bring a suitcase. You may not be going home for a while.] She doesn't think he's helping and she stops seeing him when one of the undead comes to her session and jumps out the window. [You know you're in trouble when even the undead can't bear to listen to your problems.] [What floor was that office on?]

Her younger sister, SYLVIE, confides to Samantha that she sees their dead mother who comes to sing her a lullaby at night. [Sylvie is thrilled to learn she's not the only nut job in the family.] When Sylvie gets sick and is brought to the hospital, their mother appears. This time, Samantha can see her mom who tells Samantha to forget about her wrongful death and help her father start his life again or she'll never be able to cross over. [Lot of pronouns in that sentence. I shouldn't have to work to figure out who each her and she refers to.] Samantha agrees to try.

When more undead come to Samantha for help, she realizes Aiden is right. Together they read The Book of the Dead and decode the mysterious and scary messages the undead are giving her. After Samantha and her mother visit the Underworld, she's able to help the last of the undead cross over. Samantha gets happy tears in her eyes when she sees new constellations in the sky, markers for where the undead, including her mother, crossed over.


This summary is closer to what should be in the query letter than what was actually in the query letter (see previous post). It's still all over the place for something so short. If someone wants a synopsis, they probably want more elaboration on the main plot and fewer mentions of stuff like the medium with her magic objects and the visit to the Underworld (If those are important to the main plot, they deserve more than one sentence).

I've said it before, plenty of agents don't even ask for synopses, possibly because reading one is sure to turn you off from even the best of books.