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?"