Friday, October 31, 2008

New Beginning 568

The doorbell rang at the exact moment Sara’s left thumb touched the inkpad. For a moment, her brain instinctively tried to make sense of the coincidence. She looked doubtfully at the detective.

He smiled back, but kept pressing her fingers one by one onto the squares on his paper. “Why not let the constable answer?”

“I guess.” Sara pushed back her hair with her unmarked hand. “It’s probably a neighbor wanting to know if I’m okay.” She watched the uniformed patrolman open her front door with latex-covered fingers. A tall man flipped a wallet at the constable and walked in like a conqueror. His eyes passed Sara as if she didn’t exist.

“Miss Martelli, let me introduce you to James Preston,” said the detective. “Our new electronics and telecommunications expert. James, Miss Martelli purchased the suitcase in question.”

James Preston took Sara’s hand in his long, tanned fingers, but she could tell his mind was on the battered beige case beside her. “You opened it?”

Sara nodded.

“And nothing went boom?”

Sara shook her head.

“Not even tick-tick-tick?”

Sara shook her head again.

“Well, there’s probably nothing there for me. But we’ll have a look all the same.”

Sara sighed at his lame attempt at humor. Sure, buying a Louis Vuitton Pegase 60 online was a bit ostentatious for someone on her salary, but it hardly warranted this much attention from the Fashion Police.


Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 247

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Face-Lift 579


Guess the Plot

The Willow Knot

1. The Willow Knot had always been a quiet folk art school specializing in weaving classes for little old ladies - until biker and ex-con Carl "Stinky" Ross showed up for his court ordered art therapy. Can the ladies warp Carl to their woof before he puts their retreat in a hopeless tangle?

2. When Mylla's father is unjustly executed for treason and her brother Tyl is turned into a deer, Myl takes it upon herself to rescue Tyl with the help of an ancient willow tree. Also, a shape-shifting prince.

3. Leeshia owns the Willow Knot, a small pagan store. Her landlord, grant Stevens, is an avowed Lutheran. He's also handsome, strong and wealthy. When a flood threatens to wipe out all of Ottumwa, will she drown---or will he be the angel she always thought?

4. Bob Stanstead is set upon by black-clad thugs -- Mae Wong's gang of hunky lifeguards! Their mission? Follow Mae to the North Pole, rescue her, and stop Bob's evil twin, Dave, who bought Russia from a syndicate of billionaires, and plans to blast half of Eurasia from its moorings, tow it across the Bering Sea, and pile it on top of Canada.

5. When Taylor Needham retires to Lawrenceville, he hopes he'll be alone to practice his craft of chainsaw sculpture and to pursue his Ahab-like quest to carve the most obdurate wood of all. But among the tourists drawn by his growing fame is one woman whose face haunts him in every twisted trunk and root.

6. It is 1867 and Tom Johnson prepares to present his findings to a secret commission of the Royal Society, claiming the Willow Prize, a reward funded by Queen Victoria for solving the great bio-physics creation enigma. But the unruly little winged space aliens he captured on the Heath of Blinnabore are determined not to participate. Can Tom subdue the putti long enough to save the world? Or does the future belong to Darwin?


Original Version

Dear Agent spelled correctly,

To free her spell-trapped brother, Mylla must save a kingdom, with the help of the king who had her father executed--and a willow tree. The Willow Knot is a 105,000 word fantasy, based on the Grimm tale "Brother and Sister", set in a fairy-tale kingdom grounded in the realities of 18th century Europe.

After their father's execution for treason, plain, practical Mylla and her impulsive brother Tyl flee to the forest, where old tales come true--but not all tales end well. Tyl is transformed into a deer [He just becomes a deer with no explanation?] [Wait, is he a weredeer?] and though he and Mylla rescue an abducted princess and a shape-shifting marsh-prince, she cannot rescue him.

Sheltered by an ancient willow, they survive robbers and wild beasts until young king Alard finds them, but their troubles are not over. Burdened by guilt over her father's unjust death, Alard makes Mylla queen, [He makes Mylla his own queen? He unjustly kills her father and then she becomes his wife? Does she have a choice?] of a kingdom beset by war without and conspiracy within. To uncover the true traitors, Alard needs the seal-magic Mylla had scarcely begun to learn. To unspell her brother, Mylla needs Alard's protection, but dares not trust him with the full truth, for fear of being accused as a witch herself. Parting in anger, they fall into the hands of enemies. With the help of deer-Tyl [This kind of help?] and the grateful marsh-prince, [You seem to assume we know what a marsh-prince is. A reasonable assumption if he's the prince of a marsh.] [Or is this like the march-hare?] [Come to think of it, I don't know what a march-hare is, either.] Alard escapes an ambush by rebellious nobles [He's already in the hands of enemies. Are the nobles the enemies? Or are they ambushing the enemies?] and returns, not knowing his most trusted councillor has conspired to remove the queen. [Conspired by sending the enemies to capture her? Or by sending the nobles? Or is this a later event?] Near death, Mylla shelters in the willow's roots while an imposter takes her place. Her happy ending must yet be earned with blood, fire, and pain.

In 2006 I attended the (fairly well-known writing workshop), and was shortlisted in the (quirky writing contest). My short story, published in (new-ish ezine), received an honourable mention in (year's best anthology) 2007. I have other novels underway, including (modern fantasy), and (mystery). I work at the (academic) library, which makes it easy to indulge in [my own personal] research [while getting paid for it by the clueless administration].

Thank you for your time and consideration.
(my contact info)

**********************


Notes

The plot description is too complicated. It has some logical progression, but it still feels like a list of events: Father is executed. Myl and Tyl flee. Tyl becomes deer. They rescue princess and marsh-prince. They survive robbers and beasts. Alard finds them. He makes Myl queen. They argue, part in anger, fall into enemy hands. That's already a lot of events, and I'm not clear on the rest. They parted, so when they fall into enemy hands, is it the same enemy, or different enemies? He escapes the enemy? She ends up hiding in the willow roots; did she also escape the enemy? I think it would be better with less plot detail and more of a general overview.

This is grounded in the realities of 18th century Europe?

Hard to believe a shape-shifting marsh-prince needs rescuing. Can't he just change into a bird or a bee and fly away?

Who would win between a boxing weredeer and a weredingo?

Cartoon 246

Caption: R. Watson

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Beginning 567

It sounded like a gunshot, muffled and distant, but none of Lacey’s companions looked up. Neither did the high-bred horses in the paddock. A groom closed the barn door behind the group. As Lacey thankfully breathed the fresher, less horsey air outside, another pop came, louder this time.

She looked for the source. It could be a starter pistol from Spruce Meadows, the international-class horse show place just down the hill. If show jumping used starter pistols. But she didn’t think it did.

“From the mansion to the south,” said Ryan Branson, the yuppie owner of Sundance Stables. “Construction noise. They’ve been renovating for over a year. We try to think of it as crowd-conditioning for the horses, instead of a bloody nuisance. Now, I’ve got a lunch date. Leah will help you with anything else.”

He turned away, his impeccably office-casual clothing at odds with the staff’s smudged riding gear.

A dark stain marred the back of his otherwise impeccable dress shirt. As Lacey watched, the stain spread. Ryan gave a little squeak and fell over.

The rumors were true, then! Somebody -- somebody nearby -- had a gun with ultra-slow-moving bullets!

Lacey whirled around, trying to look in all directions at once, wondering: What about that second gunshot?


Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: Ellie

Cartoon 245

Caption: Kiersten

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Face-Lift 578


Guess the Plot

The Last Changeling

1. Elora is the last of her kind. Fearing for her life after leading the revolution against the royal court, she leaves the Faerie kingdom in search of peace and healing. But she ends up in the world of humans, and enrolled in high school. This is an improvement?.

2. Lucy has no idea Faerie is suffering from a catastrophic fall in its birthrate until a small, pixie-faced nursling is shoved into her arms with a whispered, "Look after him, for all our sakes--he's the last one!". But does a nine-year-old have what it takes to raise . . . The Last Changeling?

3. Alanka is thrilled to be working at Twilight, the preeminent nursery in the Faerie Kingdom. But the boy they've just stolen from his parents is definitely not human. Dogs are talking, food's coming to life . . . What's a naive sorceress-turned-nanny to do?

4. The epidemic is terrorizing the nation ... sort of. Kids go online and become responsible, respectful, even pious. Mitch, a dedicated hacker and slacker, stumbles on the source of this mind-altering virus. But can he fix it before the FBI, not to mention the nation's parents, stop him for good?

5. 6000 hopefuls left to colonize distant planets and disappeared without a trace. Adam Walker, a war hero, widower, and secret drunk, agrees to become a Changeling, his body modified to survive interstellar travel. He sets out on a lonely, dangerous search for the colonists. He finds them--and something else that changes everything.

6. The elves are nearly gone from the world now, but Ethelbert believes he's a changeling, the child of elvish blood swapped for a dying human. No one else believes him--not even his friends, Naff and Jellwyn--until a mysterious tinker kidnaps the boys, taking them into the faerie mound, and only Ethelbert's newfound abilities can see them home again.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Elora lives in a world where iron sickness has rendered the faerie folk infertile. She is the last faerie ever to be born, the youngest daughter of the Unseelie King and Queen, and she has just led the common fey in a revolution that disbanded the royal faerie courts. Fearing for her life, she embarks on a journey across the Faerie lands, in search of magic that can heal her people and unite her world. [Which people is she trying to unite? The common fey and the royals? The Seelie and Unseelie? What was the point of the revolution? If it succeeded, she should be hailed as the leader, not run out of town.]

In The Last Changeling, an 85,000-word YA urban fantasy, Elora travels to the edge of the human world and beyond, enrolling in a high school [You can't get much farther beyond the human world than a high school.] and attempting to pass as a teenage girl. But mimicking human behavior is complicated, [Tell me about it. I've never managed to pull it off.] and Elora quickly becomes entangled in sordid school politics, ["Sordid" is a pretty strong adjective for school politics. It should be reserved for serial killers who eat their victims and national politics.] unexpected allegiances and forbidden love. When the time comes to return to Faerie, she finds herself torn between two worlds, dedicated to finding resolution in each. Then she realizes the answer lies in the connection between them.

I have a degree in English Literature and the magazines Illumen (October 2006) and Sounds of the Night (August 2007) have published my writing. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


Notes

I was willing to buy into the common fey choosing to follow the daughter of the Unseelie King and Queen rather than one of their own, and I was willing to buy into a teenager being the leader of this revolution, but a new kid who has trouble acting human gaining even a small amount of acceptance at a high school? I don't think so.

I've always wondered why the Unseelie couldn't come up with a better name. I mean, when the British started colonizing America they didn't call themselves the Unenglish.

Is most of the book set in the high school? If so, you might want to open with a brief mention of the Faerie part: Fleeing assassins in the kingdoms of Faerie, Elora, the last Changeling, takes refuge in the world of humans, and enrolls in Springfield High School. Then work in a couple key characters (including the villain), and the conflict and the stakes. If the book is half Faerie, half high school, it feels like two books, as there'll be a different set of characters in each part. In which case maybe Elora should have a sidekick, someone to talk about Faerie with.

Cartoon 244

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Beginning 566

When the outside door banged open, Gilles Regnier was talking on the phone. He spun around. The chill scent of outdoors filled the room, fluttering the Christmas cards that still clung to the refrigerator door. His wife stood in the doorway, wind whipping her dark hair and her long, moss-green coat. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks blooming from her walk. Heavy clouds darkened the sky behind her, dimming the kitchen, obscuring the gleaming modern appliances and recalling the room’s roots in a past century. To leave this old farmhouse would tear out her heart, but it must be done.

He turned briefly back to his phone call. “It’s only Gabrielle. I’ll see you soon, then.” He hung up and beckoned her in. “Shut the door, Gabi,” he said in French. “Where’s Dom?”

“He went up the back way. What’s wrong?”

He crossed the room and laid his hands on her shoulders, wishing there was time to break the news gently. “They’ve found me out. They’re coming. We have to go.”

“No!” The exclamation was involuntary. “Oh, Gilles. How long?”

"About the same, last I measured, ma chérie. I'm not sure if those pills I bought online are working after all." He shook his head and gripped her shoulders more tightly. "That's beside the point, though! We have to go!"


Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: Ellie

Cartoon 243

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Film Series



I keep telling the ladies the title's already taken, but they still think I should call what's in Evil Editor's shorts The Magnificent Seven.


video

Friday, October 24, 2008

Face-Lift 577


Guess the Plot

Flames of Hatred

1. When flirty English Daisy meets brash laird Sandy McTenninch at a Balmoral garden party, it's Scots-versus-Sassenach enmity at the first glimpse of his fluttering clan tartan. Will a stray breeze show her the real reason the queen spends her summers in Scottish seclusion, or will hairy reality fan the . . . Flames of Hatred?

2. When a young warrior uncovers treason in his own family he is unjustly exiled to the land of his family's enemies to teach him a lesson. But the only lesson he learns is that the daughter of his father's rival is hot, hot, HOT! Is a hot babe enough to dampen his bitter . . . Flames of Hatred?

3. Benny and Theresa are fellow carnies as well as a couple—she's the tattoo lady and he's the fire-eater. Their romance is admired by all their colleagues, except one, who vows to win Theresa's heart. When he lifts 450 lbs. above his head, Theresa swoons. Soon Benny's fire-eating act is consumed in . . . Flames of Hatred.

4. When topiary artist Gareth McGee loses his girlfriend to a brainless stockbroker, he is crushed, but the pain inspires his most ambitious piece ever, a 27-foot-high holly masterpiece titled, "Flames of Hatred," for which he wins the prestigious Golden Clipper award, handed over by his favorite Hollywood celebrity, Gemma Garbo. Is it love at first sight for her, too? Or was that kiss just a formality?

5. When Todd said he'd swim any ocean, climb any mountain, etc., Sally sent him on a difficult mission across the Lake of Despair, up the Cliffs of Infatuation, around the Plains of Indecision, down the River of Resentment, and through the Grove of Anger. But now? The Flames of Hatred? No way. He'd rather get cozy with an easy-going heavy-set gal, like Jan Barkowsky -- but how can one of award-winning author Stacy McShaw's "Starlit Romances" end like that?

6. There are four mystical flames burning in the White Temple: the Flame of Truth, the Flame of Justice, the Flame of Love and the Flame of Life. When the flames begin to flicker and threaten to go out, Tadry Omanish discovers the existence of the Black Temple and the Flames of Hatred. As chaos engulfs the city around him, Tadry must find and defeat the priests of the Black Temple.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Swords of Fire: Flames of Hatred follows the path of Khirsha, a young warrior trying to discover who and what he is under the threat of war, treason and his awakening to the daughters of his father and grandfather's fiercest rivals. His efforts are hampered by reason of changes taking place inside him which are affecting his judgment and actions. The cause for these changes is unknown to him, but they are creating problems in all areas of his life. [The first sentence is awkward and the next two are vague.]

The story opens with Khirsha already in trouble. By reason of a prank which went terribly wrong, Khirsha and his best friend and cousin, Kelso, have uncovered the existence of treason in the family (something unheard of for more than two hundred years). The treason has put family supply caravans under threat from surrounding companies of bandits, which are attacking with increasing frequency. However, the family's political tension means the exposed treason is going to be ignored, at least publicly. Instead, Khirsha and Kelso are punished for their prank. [One family member commits treason while another toilet papers the neighbor's yard, and which one gets punished? This reminds me of how Stalin's parents ignored the twenty million deaths he was responsible for, but banished his brother to Siberia for making prank phone calls.] The punishment is to be reduced to servant level and cast into the villages of factions not friendly to their grandfather, who is Head-of-Family. [If you're being cast into the enemy camp, does it really matter if you've been reduced to servant level? You're probably better off.] [That's like sentencing Hannibal Lecter to life in a dungeon, but first taking away his country club membership.] They are told to use the experience as a learning tool, but the only thing Khirsha learns is that there are more pleasurable things to do with Avalina, the daughter of his father's rival, than fight mock battles with wooden swords, a skill at which Khirsha excels. Fortunately, since protocol dictates that Khirsha [I started out reading that as "Krishna" and I can't stop.] can do no more than Avalina allows, they are spared from complete wantonness, but Avalina allows far more than she should.

Regarding the treason, Khirsha has gathered clues to what is going on, but his distress at what nearly took place with Avalina has clouded his thinking and he neglects to put the pieces together to form a solid picture. Something is happening to him which he can neither explain nor understand. And it is getting worse. Also, his involvement with Avalina has made him ashamed and uncomfortable to be around Sayla, a longtime friend who Khirsha now realizes he is drawn to, and who may have been drawn to him. [What is his longtime friend doing here in the villages of unfriendly factions?] Unfortunately, he and Avalina had been seen and Sayla no longer speaks to him. Khirsha is feeling the stress of his desire for multiple girls and wonders where the line between honor and dishonor really is. When he finds himself in the arms of an older, married woman who once courted his father, he knows he has crossed the line, but he feels caught, like a boat without oars flushing down a raging river toward a precipice of destruction. [A waterfall of woe.] What is making him behave this way? How can he resist a madness which seems to have a life apart from his own will? [I don't care if he knows what's causing his madness; if you know, tell us.]

As Khirsha struggles with his newly awakened sexuality, [How old is this guy? He was called a warrior, but sometimes he seems fourteen, what with discovering girls and pulling pranks.] he continues to be moved like a pawn on a game board as family factions vie for political control and attacks against family caravans increase. That someone is revealing caravan schedules and routes is clear. (Could it even be his own father? What was the mysterious mission he went on?) What is not clear is that Khirsha's involvement with Avalina has given someone cause to take treason to the next level: murder. [Who was murdered?] And hidden to all is that on a much grander scale the Powers which fight for control of the Great Sea have chosen Khirsha's home village as their battle ground, and Khirsha himself appears to be the focus of their attention. [If he's going to save the day, he'll have to work fast. Hurry, Khirsha. Hurry, Khirsha. Hurry, hurry, Khirsha, Khirsha.]

Swords of Fire: Flames of Hatred is roughly 190,000 words.

Regards,

[Author's note, not part of query: The weapon of choice for this warrior community are swords which seem to issue fire like the business end of an ox whip. The passions of jealously and bitterness which are feeding the treason make up the title's second portion. Swords of Fire is the saga. Flames of Hatred is the first installation.]


Notes

This is a synopsis. A query should include a synopsis, but a brief one, no more than eight or ten sentences worth. This is way too much. First of all it's repetitive:

p.1: His efforts are hampered by reason of changes taking place inside him which are affecting his judgment and actions. The cause for these changes is unknown to him...

p.3: Something is happening to him which he can neither explain nor understand.


p.2: The treason has put family supply caravans under threat from surrounding companies of bandits, which are attacking with increasing frequency.

p.4: family factions vie for political control and attacks against family caravans increase.


Secondly, it is too detailed. Do we need to know Khirsha excels at fighting mock battles with wooden swords? That he was once in the arms of a married woman?


Third, save the flowery writing for the book. He feels caught, like a boat without oars flushing down a raging river toward a precipice of destruction. That's too many words to say he's losing control.


All of that isn't going to shorten this enough. Start over and focus on the grander scale: war, treason, politics. Leave out the women. Try to make it sound more important than bandits robbing caravans. Kingdoms are at stake. Life as we know it. The galaxy.

Who's committing treason? Why is it being ignored? Why is Khirsha important to the powers fighting for control of the Great Sea? You're providing a lot of information we don't need, and hiding what's driving the main plot.

Also, your book is going to be 700 pages. It's cheaper to print a 350-page book, and publishers know this. Maybe your book, like your query, can be trimmed.

Cartoon 242

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Beginning 565

Janice hadn't exactly had a happy childhood, even though she came from the suburban, middle-class fantasy of a ranch house, two kids, two cars and a dog. Mother even stayed at home to raise Janice and her older brother Mott; but mostly Mother watched her soaps and drank her gin-laced tea, leaving the disciplining of the children to the children's father. And Father, a former high school football hero going to fat, alcohol and anger, welcomed the excuse to give his life's disappointments into the safekeeping of his children--very brutally and with relish.

Then the Tellulil came.

She first felt their presence when she was fifteen. That was when Mott took his still-damp diploma and ran for the nearest recruiting office, leaving Janice the sole recipient of their father's angry love.

A few weeks later, she lay in bed, moonlight streaming through the mullions to cast prison bars across the door. By that furtive light she read again the postcard addressed to their parents, but not to her. A message that said between prosaic lines he was glad to be gone, glad to ignore his sister's predicament.

"Fine," she said to herself, the card slipping between her fingers over and over and over. "It's not like we were friends or anything."

The moon's brightness seemed to wink at her, a sly acknowledgment.

She smiled in acquiescence and lifted the blanket. Yeah, the night was young, and a fifteen-year-old with Tellulil like hers could make all the friends she wanted down at Joe McKirk's wine lodge.


Opening: Writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 241

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Face-Lift 576


Guess the Plot

The Paper Gods

1. The slaves known as the Paper Gods will be freed only when the evil Prince of the underground world of Submundi is dead. Prophesies describe the Prince's demise as death by Poetry. That's where high school student Poetry Wu comes in.

2. The Rock Gods and the Scissors Gods are engaged in a battle that threatens to destroy the Earth -- unless Mitch Mickley can summon the fabled Paper Gods and even up the game.

3. The Golden Gods, pagan idols from ancient times, had been melted down and the wealth redistributed. The Iron Gods were long gone – only the rusted-out carcasses remained, strewn about the confines of junk yards around the country. Now Paper Gods rule the Earth, befuddling the masses with their origami disguises. But Casey, a new-age orphan who recently discovered her druidic heritage, has a plan . . . and a book of matches.

4. When Trudy and Bud sit down to make Halloween monsters at Uncle Reginald's castle, they have no idea the crayons are charmed--until the monsters start demanding "candy," and breaking furniture. Can Trudy's paper Medusa save the sofa and vanquish these diabolical green vampire-dinosaur-kitten things before Uncle Reggie gets home?

5. Zack Runciman publishes the Daily News. Across town, his twin brother and rival Jack publishes the Daily Herald. When a drop in subscriptions makes it clear that there is market enough for only one paper, a circulation war erupts. How far is Zack willing to go to win?

6. Huff'n'Puff the dragon didn't find the Paper Gods much of a challenge, and the Stick Gods barely held out any longer. But he's a little concerned about the Brick Gods--how's he going to burn their house down?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When a knife-wielding stalker reveals that Poetry Wu is prophecized [--cied] to free his people from magical slavery, Poetry has doubts. [That "his" sounds like it refers to Poetry, as we don't know yet whether Poetry is male or female (we assume from the name that it's a gay guy).] But her knack for weaseling her way out of problems is no match for her supernatural stalker. Though the last thing she wants to do is set him free, she winds up agreeing to murder the ruler of a shadowy land to help his cause. [That "his" sounds like it refers to the ruler of the shadowy land rather than the stalker.]

Poetry searches for a way to convince him she's no destined one. Instead, she stumbles into the world of Submundi, where she draws the attention of the Prince she is to kill.

[Prince: Well, hello there. Who are you?

Poetry: I'm Poetry.


Prince: I can see that, but what's your name?]


The forces of this eerie underland creep into her ordinary life. Soon she has to contend with missing memories and friends under mind control just to hand in her homework. [Apparently she has stumbled back out of Submundi. Why hasn't she ever stumbled into Submundi before?]

All Poetry wants to do is impress her artsy new classmates, get home for dinner on time, and make her stalker leave her alone. [Consider putting this sentence up front. As it is, we can't tell this is set in modern times on Earth until you mention homework. I thought we were in Isengard; turns out it's Schenectady.] But Poetry's involvement in Submundi goes back further than she realizes. When she discovers the terrible sacrifice she made to escape Submundi long ago, [Years ago? Or eons ago?] she must take on the Prince to make it right. [To make it right is vague. What are the stakes?]

The Paper Gods is a YA fantasy novel of 100,000 words. It is the first book in a planned trilogy, but can stand alone. [So the numerous fake plot writers who submitted rock, paper scissors plots were on to something, and The Rock Gods and The Scissors Gods are the next two books?]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Author's note, not part of query: The stalker and his fellow supernatural slaves are beings known as Paper Gods, hence the title The Paper Gods.]


Notes

Once we realize this is set in the modern world we are forced to question Poetry's agreeing to commit a murder. Why does she agree to this? Is she threatened? If the slaves believe she will free them, any threat to harm her would seem empty.

What constitutes being a slave? Usually slaves aren't permitted to roam into distant lands wielding knives and stalking girls. What are the Prionce's powers that allow him to enslave supernatural beings?

Who names their kid Poetry? I suppose it's better than Nonfiction. Does she have a twin brother named Prose?

Cartoon 240

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Beginning 564

As was her custom, the Imperial Consort, Lady Azhka, strolled her gardens in sweltry noon while the sun rode high and the heat was enervating. It was exactly what she liked; she tired of the perfumed claustrophobia of her apartments and the nested eyes of servant and spy alike, tired of opulence and carved dead rock that were so vastly different from the rolling lavender plains of her homeland and the living caves where she was born. Both, lands however, shared the same balefire summer sun.

So instead of the shaded bowers kept watered by a small army of gardeners each morning against the heat, she kept to the baked sands of the pathways, her servants dismissed to huddle uncertain below covered walks, anxious not to miss some vital summons or to cosset their charge as was proper for one of her exalted status.

Only profound respect and the Lady's insistence had won her this modicum of privacy, although some few of the titled servants still sought to attend her, ply her with sunshade or sweated urns of snow-chilled fruit juice.

She waved away her chief steward, the most stubborn of the lot. "No, Manoc," she told him firmly, "I wish to think, not be fussed over."

Had she looked up at that moment, she might have noticed his clenched jaw and baleful stare as he was, once again, forbidden to meet his obligation; to serve his purpose. Unwitnessed, therefore, Manoc, last in a long line of proud household stewards, withdrew to the stores and, as was his custom, relieved his frustrations--and his bladder--in the sweating urns of snow-chilled fruit juices.


Opening: Writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 239

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Face-Lift 575


Guess the Plot

Houses of a Thousand Dolls

1. Shanghai, the business center of China. For many it's the gateway to riches. For Xa Xang, it's the home of her brainchild: mobile sex clubs. Can she keep her business going while her customers are coming?

2. Katrin has less than two weeks to figure out who is killing the other girls in the Houses of a Thousand Dolls. Otherwise she'll be sold off cheap, like a cow that stopped giving milk. Also, talkative cats.

3. It was the strangest contest in the history of reality TV, and Blythe Dornbusch was determined to win it. So, after visiting every tag sale and thrift store in Pakumpsuck, Mississippi, she took her thousand dolls and began to build a house. This is what happens when you let pigs schedule programming.

4. There are a thousand stories in the Geisha houses run by Kiroshi, but none more heartwarming than this tale of Li-Li and a wounded American soldier during World War II. Also, a magic Samurai sword.

5. Heroin is being smuggled into the United States in dolls, but when a case of the dolls falls off a truck and is discovered by a Girl Scout troop, the town of Happy Valley must contend with an epidemic of addiction.

6. Collector Corcoran Lourdes sets out to gather every doll, ventriloquist's dummy, and marionette that ever came to life to torment its owner in a horror movie or TV show. Turns out he needs to buy three houses just to hold the ones from Twilight Zone episodes.


Original Version

Dear agent,

Things Katrin Satogo has to do before the Redeeming...

1. Find out who in the Houses of a Thousand Dolls is killing girls. [My money's on Chucky.]
2. Discover the secrets of her own past, who she is and why she was left at the Houses.
3. Avoid betraying the few friends she has, including a clan of talkative cats.
4. Stay alive.
[5. Figure out what the Redeeming is.]

But none of those things are going to [will] be easy. Because missteps in the Houses are as easy as wearing the wrong asari, [Asari? Is that the same as sari? Google doesn't think so. If it's a made-up word you might use the English translation in the query.] and long hidden anger simmers under the ginger-scented air.

Katrin Satogo was left at the Houses of a Thousand Dolls at the age of seven, too old to be Groomed, as the other girls in the Houses were. [Also, too old to make the Olympic gymnastics team.] Now she's seventeen, without formal training or caste, and if she doesn't do something, she'll be thrown out, property of whoever wants to claim her. So when Katrin finds out that three girls have died suspicious deaths, she strikes a bargain with Matron, the head of the Houses. If she finds the killer, she'll have a caste and a future. [You can just give a caste and a future to someone who isn't Groomed? I don't think so.] If she fails, she'll be sold. Now Katrin will need all the luck and help she can get, because everyone is hiding something.

And the Redeeming is only twelve days away....

Houses of a Thousand Dolls is a young adult fantasy about a seventeen-year-old girl trying to figure out who she is, and the unexpected family she discovers along the way. Unlike many fantasy novels today, the setting for this story, the Sangitian Empire, was inspired by the culture of ancient India.

I am a graduate of the Institute for Children's Literature, and have been a contributor to collegesurfing.com. I also recently sold a young adult novel to OakTara (formerly Capstone Fiction), which is projected to be out in trade paperback in spring of 2009.

The complete manuscript of Houses, 50,000 words, is available for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Not bad, but what's the Redeeming?

I'm not sure it would be called a fantasy just because it's set in a fictional place. Does it have magic or fantastical creatures? If the cats actually talk, that's something, but perhaps the main fantasy aspect could be stressed more. Is it the Redeeming?

House of a Thousand Dolls is a better title. You see lots of singular houses in titles: House of Flying Daggers, "House of the Rising Sun," House at Pooh Corner, "Fall of the House of Usher," House of the Seven Gables, House of Sand and Fog and the TV show House. Okay, there's Houses of the Holy, an album by Led Zeppelin (also a song, but they decided the song wasn't good enough to go on the album so they stuck it on a future album that they put out after they ran out of good songs).

You're probably thinking a thousand girls wouldn't fit in one house so it has to be houses. As long as there's one main house that all the dolls pass through (sort of like the administration building on a campus or the bar in a hotel) you can call it House. Actually, you can call it anything you want, since the publisher will probably change it to Hookers in Training in hopes of selling beyond the YA market.

This is the second consecutive query on which I finally gave up and wrote three fake plots because you guys are falling down on the job.

Cartoon 238

Caption: Kiersten

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Writing Exercise Result 6

I was closing the office early in preparation for my weekend trip to a major romance writers convention. I don't actually handle romance, but romance conventions are 98 percent women, so that pretty much settles that. Anyway, I had just cleared my desk and tossed the day's slush in the trash (unopened) when he walked in. Or should I say when I walked in? The guy looked just like me, except not quite as handsome. Also he was pointing a gun at me.

"I'm replacing you," he said.

"Replacing me?"

"I look just like you, except a little more handsome. But I've never amounted to anything, and why should I work at making something of myself when I can just take over for you? It's not like you've done anything to warrant your fame."

"So you're gonna kill me?"

"No, I want you alive to witness how much more successful you are when I'm running the show. My hired goons will hold you captive indefinitely."

"But if I don't show up at a certain writers convention this weekend, people will know I've been kidnapped."

"Then I guess you better hand over your plane ticket and the confirmation number for your hotel reservation."

I did as he said, and he called in his goons to take me away. I wasn't worried. No mere mortal had any chance of surviving what this poor schmuck was about to go through.

--Evil Editor

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Film Series


There's no predicting exactly what you'll find in Evil Editor's Shorts, only that it'll be awesome.

video

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Beginning 563

“For the storms of life, your comfort and your salvation lie with the Lord God. Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven. For the storms of Bay St. Louis, buy your cypress storm shutters at Chauvin’s Lumberyard.” I’ve been nailing boards all morning in preparation. God, I’m getting old I thought as I sank. My easy chair gasped as I settled to rest for a moment before I go to the post office. I nodded and the old Chauvin lumberyard sign bubbled up from the depths of long buried memories in a vision.

It was on Beach Boulevard at the foot of the bridge that crossed the Bay. As children, the sign was our marker. Momma allowed us to go only as far as the sign on our bikes. The sign was ancient, and like Bay St. Louis, bleached by the sun and salt air, and battered by the eternal storms that are a part of Gulf Coast life. It leaned badly, and the two wooden posts that held it seemed ready to give out at any moment. How it stayed there all those years anchored in nothing but sand, I never understood. Yet, by an act of faith, it hung on year after year. Stubborn. Determined to be our guidepost. It was a special marker for me. Countless days I rode to the old sign and turned left onto Ulman Avenue to hear the beautiful piano music emanating from a home just off the beach. Miss Betty Lee Meacham practiced piano every day in the front room of her house. That was my refuge.

Once, Sonny, my older brother, asked Daddy what the words on the sign meant.

“Buy insurance,” he said.

Of course, it was inevitable that the salt air and storms would have their way with our sign, and after a couple more winters, our demarcation was lost to the elements. Six months later a new sign was in its place.

When the spirit is weak, the Lord God will give you strength; when the flesh is weak, get your rubber, leather, whips, masks and chains from Madame LaFife's S&M Boutique.

I asked him one time, "What do the words on the sign mean, Daddy?"

He cleared his throat and thought for a while. "Invest in bonds," he said.


Opening: Luke.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 237

Caption: R. Watson

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Beginning 562

I rolled my eyes.

Well, okay, technically I don’t have any eyes. But the intention was there—if I had eyes, I would have been rolling them. The setup was just so tacky. Way too many candles filled the room with smoke and the few lights were draped with filmy red cloth. She had even thrown in some fancy, flowered pentagrams this time.

Really—pentagrams? Give me a break. Clearly this was a low-rent establishment, and I hated that Rose’s was the only service that saw fit to call on me so far. I was better than this, better than Rose and her ridiculous showboating, better than her cheap, boring customers and their cheap, boring lives.

Yet, here I was. I could have just ignored the summons. But I’ll admit it felt good to hear my name again. And besides, even if the work wasn’t interesting, it was still something. What can I say, writing was my life. Too bad I died.

"She comes!" someone whispered behind me. Probably Rose herself, wearing her black nylon hooded robe decorated with silver stars that she'd carefully hot-glued on the hem. Carefully, because otherwise the nylon would melt.

"Mwa ha hahahahaha-a-a-a!" I chortled. May as well give her and her cheap, boring customer a good show.


"Put the manuscript in the center of the big pentacle," Rose said in her whiskey growl, "and read the exhortation! Quickly!"

Hurried scuttling behind me. I turned slowly, emitting a few puffs of black smoke just for fun, and drew in my breath in a deep, hissing gasp. Then I spoke: "What is the word length of this manuscript which I, Miss Snark, have been summoned to read?"



Opening: Kiersten.....Continuation: Marissa Doyle

Cartoon 236

Caption: Wendy

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Beginning 561

The boy scoots inside the rusty recess of a car because Papa has told him to hide. He counts breaths and waits. He waits and sleeps and eventually he wakes. The boy has learned to be a good listener. He lifts the trunk the length of his ear. No pop-popping of a worn-out knee. No wet, phlegm coughs. No hushed murmurs of love and dreams and life and skies.

Where are you, Papa?

The boy hears beyond Papa’s silence. The familiar wind loops around the desert brush. Aimless feet shuffle in the distance. His own heart struggles beneath his breath. He is scared and curious and hungry and alive.

He opens the trunk and scrambles out. The brown sky is pushing into the brown earth. His hand fumbles for the sky-paper and upon contact, comforts him.

“Hey! You there!” A Gatekeeper sees him.

The boy walks faster.

"Hey!" The Gatekeeper's footsteps quickened. "Use of the present tense was restricted in this zone. Have you obtained a permit?"

The boy takes off at full speed.

Faintly he hears the shouts behind him, feels the shots kick up the dust at his feet. He keeps his head down and runs as hard as he can away from the past.


Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Sarah from Hawthorne

Cartoon 236

Caption: Debhoag

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Success Story


Speaking of YA books that appeared here, I don't think it's been mentioned that Marissa Doyle's novel Bewitching Season

has been published. You may have read the opening if you were around at the time of New Beginning 189

Success Story


Some of you may recall that a couple years ago Miss Snark, Literary Agent, ran a crapometer with a limited number of entries, and that Evil Editor offered to post comments on some that weren't lucky enough to get onto Her Snarkness's blog. You may even recall this query, which was among those submitted:

Query 4

[This one is excellent, but seems a bit long. I've placed brackets around things that can go without affecting the content or tone.]


Dear Evil Editor,

THE BIG SPLASH – approximately 60,000 words – is a hard-boiled detective novel for the middle grade set, with strong archetypal characters and dialogue that’s quick and punchy, like a flyweight boxer on too much caffeine.

Matt Stevens is smart, witty and tough as a cheap steak in a bad restaurant. He’s a middle school Philip Marlowe, [a Sam Spade in the seventh grade,] and he just did something he said he’d never do: he accepted a job from Vinny “Biggs”.

Vincent Biggio, [a.k.a Vinny “Biggs”] is a pre-teen Al Capone. Vinny’s got his chubby little fingers in a lot of illegal pies baked at James Franklin Junior High: extortion, racketeering, black market sales of stolen exams. Matt trusts Vinny [as much as] [like] a deer trusts a guy in an orange vest, but Vinny just made him an offer that was hard to refuse: twenty bucks to return a good luck charm [that] Vinny had lent out long ago. The problem? The girl he lent it [out] to is Nicole Finnegan, a.k.a. Nikki Fingers, the most feared squirt gun assassin [to ever attend] [at] Franklin Junior High.

You see, life at Franklin is tough, like trying to play the piano [with] [in] oven mitts [on]. Find yourself on the wrong side of Vinny Biggs, [the next thing you know] [and] you’re in “the Outs,” the least popular “club” in school. How’d you get there? Water, apple juice, cat pee… anything liquid, strategically splattered below your belt for maximum humiliation, [marking you forever as an enemy of Vinny Biggs.]

While Matt is negotiating the return of Vinny’s good luck charm, someone puts Nikki [on] [in] “the Outs”. Matt has to juggle two clients (Vinny Biggs and Jenny Finnegan, Nikki’s younger sister) as he tries to find the trigger kid [amongst a list of suspects as long as a New York City phone book]. Was it Joey Renoni, the hit kid with a high-pitched giggle and a hair trigger[, who was always looking to prove himself against the baddest and the best]? Was it Kevin Carling, [Matt’s ex-best friend, ] Vinny’s right-hand man, and the boyfriend that Nikki left behind when she quit the life? Or was it some other kid with [“]soda-induced courage,[” a friend or relative in “the Outs,”] and a big beef against Nikki? Matt’s got to watch his back, and [especially] his front, as he works a case that’s harder to navigate than the streets of downtown Boston[, or he just might find himself on “the Outs].”

On a personal note, my eighth year as a writer, director and dialogue editor for children’s television animation has been a great one. In January, I was nominated for an Annie Award for best writing in a television series. I also wrote, developed, and directed a series of shorts that will be airing on (NetworkA) in November. [(NetworkA) ordered forty half-hour episodes based on the strength of those shorts, stating that the writing was the main factor in their decision.] I’ve just started writing the second Matt Stevens book in what I imagine to be a series, chronicling the life and hard-boiled adventures of Matt, his classmates, and his family. May I send you a full or partial manuscript of The Big Splash?

Thank you so much for your time. [I look forward to hearing from you soon.]

Best,

[Well done. While your characters are in middle school, one wonders if your audience might be even younger, as middle schoolers these days would identify only with kids using real guns.]

6 comments:

jackyboy said...

Wow...Thanks EE for your comments. I knew it was too long, but wasn't sure what to cut (I imagine my ms will have the same issues). Your suggestions for the chopping block were right on. It's pretty amazing of you to offer your services for free. I hope you receive some good karma for this, as well as the occasional gift ham.

Anonymous said...

This rocks! I'm 34 and I think I'd like to read this book.

Jeb said...

I loved the tone in this query letter. I would totally go out and buy this book even though I'm several decades out of 8th grade.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking this is for slightly younger middle grade. My 3-5 grade kids would eat this up.

Leah said...

I'm seventeen, I would read this. It reminds me of the muppets in that it is entertaining for kids and includes jokes for adults.

(From The Great Muppet Caper)

Lady H. details all her troubles with her brother Nicky to her new secretaty (Miss Piggy) who asks, "Why are you telling me all this?"

"It's plot exposition, it has to go somewhere."

Kathleen said...

great query, great story idea. nice work.


Leah spotted this review of the published book in the latest New York Times Book Review section:


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/books/review/Cohen-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=rich%20cohen&st=cse&oref=slogin

Face-Lift 574


Guess the Plot

The Truth, Chickens, and Other Things that Wonʼt Fly

1. When ray asks Emmaline to marry him, she's just about to say that'll happen when pigs fly, when she spots a flock of pigs overhead. Quickly she begins formulating a different response.

2. Jenny, a compulsive liar, found a book that listed several things that couldn't fly. Then she saw an episode of Mythbusters where they made a lead balloon. Thus inspired, she embarks on a mission to teach a bunch of chickens to fly south for the winter. Also, lie detection by skunk.

3. Jimmy Weaver worships his wife, which doesn't eggzactly sit well with Jimmy's mother, who decides to save her son from a life of eggony. Mom "hatches" a plan to murder Jimmy's wife, a "fowl" plan that just might lay an egg . . . if Jimmy learns the truth.

4. Bernadette Barnes knows she must take creative action to raise enough cash to save the farm from her banker, Elmore Bladini, and his knife-wielding thugs. She'll use voodoo, astrology, and witchcraft to stave off the seemingly inevitable, but if Bladini still refuses to refinance, is she willing to try seduction?

5. Hunky Chicken rancher Joe Fargus realizes he can get more money for organic free-range chickens. So without changing his methods, he claims his chickens are organic and free-range. The money rolls in, until beautiful federal poultry inspector Jill Charleston pays an unexpected visit to the ranch. Can Joe sweet-talk his way out of this one?

6. Finally, a book that offers a conclusive and definitive answer to the question that has haunted philosophers through the ages: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Hint: it was the chicken.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

If you told Billie Weaver a year ago that sheʼd be plotting the murder of her sociopathic sister-in-law, sheʼd laugh [she'd have laughed] it off as a sick joke. If you told her sheʼd be teaming up with her braless, alcoholic mother to carry out the plan, sheʼd say [she'd have said] you were certifiably insane.

But now Billieʼs mother has shown up on Billieʼs upper-middle class suburban doorstep, and claims to be dying of cancer. [Translation: isn't dying of cancer.] In her last few months on the planet [before heading for Arkhos IV, where they long ago cured cancer], sheʼs looking to make it up to Billieʼs brother, Jimmy, for rendering him mentally diminished by drinking while pregnant with him. As her first and final attempt to protect her son, she hatches a plan to rid him of his abusive, drug-addicted wife, and she needs Billie to help her. If Billie participates, sheʼll become an accessory to fraud, an accomplice to murder,

[Billie: What do you need me for? Just shoot Jimmy's wife. You're dying, so you'll never go to trial.


Mom: You think I wanna spend my last month in a prison cell when I can spend it in a hospital ward?


Billie: At least prisons have decent food and TV reception.]


and risk destroying the carefully constructed life sheʼs built for herself and her young family. If she does nothing, her too-trusting brother will be doomed to a life of misery and heartache. Can she justify taking another personʼs life if it saves another? Can she ever explain it to Jimmy, who naively worships his wife as much as he loves his sister and his mother?

Bonded together, first by their love for Jimmy, and now by their criminal activities, [In my experience, nothing brings family together like murdering an in-law.] Billie and her mother struggle to overcome years of bitterness, estrangement, and inappropriate outfits to protect Jimmy and stay out of jail.

The Truth, Chickens, and Other Things that Wonʼt Fly is a work of womenʼs fiction, complete at 74,000 words.


Notes

The first and last plot paragraphs (and title) have a humorous tone with amusing touches (braless mother, inappropriate outfits), but the middle paragraph sounds like literary fiction, what with its cancer, drug addiction, misery and heartache, mentally diminished man, abuse... I'd like to be able to tell from the query whether it's a dark book with some comic relief or a comedic book with a few dark subplots.

If the book is a comedy, try lightening up the middle paragraph by reducing it to something like:
But now Billieʼs mother has shown up on Billieʼs doorstep, saying she's ready to perform one final noble act before she dies. She plans to murder Jimmy's wife, freeing him from a lifetime of misery with an overbearing, abusive ogre. Never mind that Jimmy worships his wife, Mother knows best. Now all she needs to put her plan into action is an accomplice. And she's chosen Billie for the role.
If the book is serious, the query doesn't need to include the comic relief, as whether Mom wears a bra or dresses in style isn't relevant to the main plot. And a different title will be in order.

Cartoon 235

Caption: Wendy

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, October 13, 2008

NaNoWriMo Prep 3


Okay, I've narrowed my plot down to one of the following:

After George's boating accident leaves him blind, he fears he'll have to give up his career as a NASCAR driver. Can Mary, his lovely pit crew leader, convince him to keep driving?

It was his song; it was her song; it was their song. And hearing the cover band butchering "The Wanderer" on the night of their anniversary pushes Christine over the edge.

The first one has a lot of comedic potential, mainly from the reactions of other drivers to racing with a blind guy. But it might turn out to be one of those one-joke plots if I'm not careful. And it's hard to be careful when writing a novel in a month. Of course the idea of a blind NASCAR driver is sure to be optioned for film rights, so financially I should go with that one.

The second one is general enough that I wouldn't feel restricted. I see a woman who's spent weeks planning the perfect anniversary night, and then the band she paid to perform "their" song does it as a rap. She loses it and kills the singer and burns down the restaurant. But can she get her case assigned to a judge who's also a Dion fan?

Which one would make a better novel, I wonder.

NaNoWriMo Prep 2


As you know if you read the previous post, minions who aren't wusses are not only writing a novel by the end of November, but are basing that novel on a fake plot chosen from this blog. It wouldn't be right for EE not to participate, so I chose my 5 numbers, then chose my favorite fake plot from each of the five face-lifts, basing that choice mainly on whether the idea could be sustained for an entire novel. These are the blurbs from which I must choose my novel's plot.
1. Men use the Golden Flagon to outwit the Gods in a successful battle for possession of the women. The Gods say they'll just make some more.

2. After George's boating accident leaves him blind, he fears he'll have to give up his career as a NASCAR driver. Can Mary, his lovely pit crew leader, convince him to keep driving?

3. With a supply of deuterium from a North Korean friend, Physicist Elmo Lurp agrees to build a nuclear device in the basement of his apartment building. But he realizes his need for a more sophisticated laboratory when he discovers his wife has used all the heavy water for the laundry.

4. It was his song; it was her song; it was their song. And hearing the cover band butchering "The Wanderer" on the night of their anniversary pushes Christine over the edge.

5. When urban rapper "500" Cent learns he's the illegitimate son of Malcolm X he leaves the hip-hop lifestyle behind in his search for a time portal.
As you can see, while each could be a comedy, only numbers 2 and 3 would have to be comedies, while the others can go in many directions.

I predict that even if this whole idea sounds ridiculous to you now, once you've taken a few minutes to choose your plot, it will become the most important project in your life. Trust me.

NaNoWriMo Prep


Buffy has suggested a blog tie-in with National Novel Writing Month. Which is November. The main reason a lot of people don't attempt to write a novel in November is because they can't get started. They don't have any ideas. So why shouldn't we use the same method we've used a few times for query exercises? Use a random number generator to select one of the fake plots on this blog, and turn it into a novel. Countless times people have commented that they would read one of the fakes plots if someone wrote it.

Because some of the fakes are jokes or for nonfiction books, you'll be allowed to select from among at least 25 fakes. Go to http://www.random.org/integers/ Set it up to choose five random numbers between 1 and 562. Those are your Face-Lift numbers. Find them in the blog archives. You'll have at least 25 fake plots. Choose one. Report back as soon as you've chosen. I'll post the plots that have been chosen, so you can avoid choosing the same one. Make sure you're choosing a fake and not the real plot.

If you wish, you may write the first 500 words of your novel before November and submit them for comments from the minions. We'll let you know if we're hooked already.

While it's true that the fake plots are intended to be funny, and you may be someone who doesn't write humor, keep in mind that some of the fake plots are funny only if you know the title of the real book. As you'll have a different title, you should be able to come up with something more serious if you prefer it that way.

I'm hoping to post at least five fake plots that have been chosen for novels within the next twenty-four hours, so get to work. I'll post them below as they come in. Include your name or don't, as you wish.


Chosen Plots for NaNoWriMo Novels

1. The post card was addressed to his deceased father, the return address from a place called Fantasaria. Soon, Steven finds himself in a magical realm full of talking plants, evil flesh-eating clouds, and unicorns. Also, Irish hitmen. --Shell 1

2. After George's boating accident leaves him blind, he fears he'll have to give up his career as a NASCAR driver. Can Mary, his lovely pit crew leader, convince him to keep driving? --Evil Editor

3. Wisecracking PI Dirk Beefhead hasn't had a case in months when "it" walks into his office. Sure, it was probably sent to Earth to destroy mankind. But the rent wasn't gonna pay itself. --Freddie

4. At Dogs N. Katz Grooming Service, no one could figure out why the new cat washer, Brock, wasn't off modeling Calvin Kleins in New York. When Old Lady Jones finds Brock head down in the cat bath, the town finds a whole mess of suspects that need investigating. -Minion GIR

Cartoon 234

Caption: Debhoag

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Opening Statement 8

Minions, Minionettes, Mennonites, lend me your ears. Seriously. At my age, the hearing starts to go.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Bill Clinton gets a million dollars for a speaking engagement. Donald Trump gets over $200,000. Hell, even John Grisham gets over $50,000. Why are you practically giving yourself away, EE?

It's like this. When you listen to a speech by one of those hacks, you just sit there and relax. It's like being on vacation, only without the fun. Here, you'll work to earn your reduced fee. Lock it down boys!

The exits are all being sealed and locked. Now if each of you will look under your seat, you'll find a large pile of slush. This stuff's been building up for years, and today we're going to get rid of it. If you leave your seat, a piercing, ear-splitting siren will blare until you return. If you remain in your seat but refuse to cooperate, you'll receive a 2000-volt shock every thirty seconds. Show 'em, boys!

Zzzzzzzzzttttttttttt!

I know what you're thinking. You didn't sign up to read slush. Relax. You're not going to read the slush. Even Evil Editor isn't that cruel. No, you're going to eat it. Environmentalists get on me whether I burn it or ship it to a landfill or dump it in the ocean. So I'm going green, with your help.

Ushers will be around with salt, condiments, cheese sauce and salsa. I'm off to the beach. I'll leave this sign-up sheet for next year's Meet Evil Editor event on the stage. Hope to see you all back.

--Evil Editor

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Film Series


You've been in Lincoln Center. You've been in Carnegie Hall. You've been in La Scala. But you don't know what entertainment is until you've been in Evil Editor's Shorts.
video

Writing Exercise


Evil Editor has reserved a block of rooms at a luxury resort, and is paying for his own room by charging his minions $500 to attend a lecture in the resort ballroom. Write his opening statement to the crowd. 300 words max, deadline Sunday, 10 AM eastern.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Beginning 560

Gwen came upon the wolf without warning, surprising them both. When he heard her, he jumped and began pulling at the chain attached to the trap around his leg. A low-throated growl paired with a pained high-pitched whine came from his throat. He looked sickly and thin. Gwen thought he looked like the ghost wolf her father used to describe to her in his nightly ghost stories to her. They stood facing each other for what seemed like a long time to Gwen. He was huge. His coat was all white. It must have once been silky and glossy, but now it was ragged and caked with mud. The wolf didn't growl or raise his hackles. Gwen sensed the wolf was at the end of his rope (well, his chain) and simply didn't care. He was too malnourished to work up a fight.

The wolf whimpered, then nuzzled at the trap that bit down on his leg. He stared at Gwen with his deep blue eyes. She could almost hear his gentle plea for help.

She dropped to her knees to be on the same level as the wolf. "You're the biggest wolf I've ever seen round here," she told him. He bowed his head.

She removed her picnic lunch from her bag and set it off to the side, then took out her pistol and put the beast down.

Maybe if Gwen's father hadn't traumatized her with those fucking ghost stories, she would have had more compassion for the local wildlife.


Opening: Freddie.....Continuation:
anon.

Cartoon 233

Caption: Whirlochre

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Face-Lift 573


Guess the Plot

Damage Control

1. Fifteen years ago the girls of indy-rock band Damaged Goods swore they'd never speak to each other again. But when a teen pop star tops the charts with a bubbly cover of their grunge anthem, these four very different women suddenly have a damn good reason for a reunion tour.

2. Jillian is the damage control expert for the Lansing Redbirds, doing her best to keep the athletes' sexcapades and arrests from overwhelming the hockey team. But can she keep her cool when new goalie Paul Frontiere comes to town?

3. Superhero/Supervillain battles are ruining the city. Dewey Dunholm, a public works consultant, has a solution: legally force super-powered combatants to fight within zones scheduled for demolition. Urban renewal becomes cheap, and Dewey is a hero. Then a television promoter with a spandex fetish begins broadcasting the fights to stellar ratings, and Dewey loses control of the system. Can he shut down "Damage Control" before the upcoming Mega Brawl levels the entire city?

4. Floyd Harrison was used to waking up cotton-mouthed, head pounding, with no money and even less of an idea where he was. But the dead blond next to him in bed comes as a complete surprise. As does the safe deposit box key in his pocket. Now he's got to piece together what happened during his recent bender while staying one step ahead of the cops, a man with a scar across his knuckles, and a hotel clerk who demands payment for what Floyd did to the sheets.

5. Seventeen-year-old Lena Philips wasn't happy to discover that a secret militaristic society of time travelers moved into her grandmother's house, and have targeted Lena for assassination--until she fell in love with one of them. But if her future happiness depends on living out her life in the Jurassic period with her true love, will she have what it takes?

6. When a werewolf rampage ends, when your uncle the vampire moves in, when ghosts start partying in the yard and you don't want the neighbors to know . . . you call in Padre Felipe to handle Damage Control.



Original Version

Dear agent:

Chase Baker's rules started out harmless enough. Rule one: keep hold of his hand. Two: remain calm. Three: always close her eyes. That was all reasonable before seventeen year old Lena Philips knew he was preparing her for time travel. [I think you have this backwards. If I know I'm being prepared for time travel, I might find these rules reasonable. But before I know about the time travel, if someone simply says, "Hold my hand, close your eyes, and stay calm," I'm breaking all of the rules immediately.]

When the Baker family moved into her late grandmother's house, Lena knew there was something strange lurking behind their charming smiles, and she was determined to find out what it was. She had no idea that her spying would uncover a secret society that has been influencing history, [There's really no need to tell us she had no idea; of course she had no idea. If she actually did suspect a secret society of history influencers were living in her grandmother's house, then you'd have news.] or that it would force her to rely on Chase Baker, the middle brother, who seemed to instantly despise her. But after she is attacked by a strange man, who confirms her suspicion, [Not clear how getting attacked by a strange man confirms that there is something strange lurking behind the Baker family's charming smiles. Is that the suspicion he confirms?] and saved by Chase, she is forced to choose [decide] what is more important to her: solving the mystery or her own life. For her the choice is obvious. Mysteries have always been her thing. [Of course, they're easier to solve if you're not dead.]

After a failed attempt to break-in to the Baker's house, [The Bakers' house. Better yet, the Bakery.] Chase finally reveals to Lena that her attacker and his entire family are part of a militaristic society of time travelers, and that her snooping and his confession have marked them as targets. [There's no need to target her, as the likelihood that she bought Chase's "militaristic society of time travelers" line is zero. She knows guys'll say anything to get a babe into the sack.] Chase chooses to defy the society that has raised him and protect Lena from the fury of assassins they are about to unleash. Now Chase and Lena must try and control the damage they have caused.. [What damage have they caused? So far all they've done is not break into a house.] What they didn't plan on was falling in love along the way. [Like money and sex, in-laws are often an obstacle to a couple's happiness, and never so much as when they unleash assassins targeting you.]

I'm seeking representation for Damage Control, a young adult urban fantasy completed at 76,000 words. The continuation of this series, which has yet to be titled, has been outlined. [Usually the sequels have similar titles. Possibilities: Cruise Control, Remote Control, Arms Control, Air Traffic Control, Birth Control.]

The completed synopsis, partial or full manuscript of Damage Control are available upon further request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

This is mostly the set-up. You can set up the situation for us in two or three sentences, leaving room to tell us about the exciting things that happen. I assume they escape the assassins by time traveling. If so, say so. I assume we find out some things the bad guys have done to influence history. How about an example? Time travel is your hook, might as well use it. Especially if Lena and Chase escape, only to land in the middle of the Battle of Waterloo.

I expect to see something supernatural/magical/fantastical in any kind of fantasy. If time travel is the only speculative aspect, maybe this is YA science fiction. Or YA time-travel romance.