Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Film Series


Warning: If you aren't at least eighteen, you may not be able to handle what's in Evil Editor's Shorts.

video

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Beginning 610

Maurice Wyatt felt great, had a wet towel round his neck keeping him cool. ‘I’m in fine form!’ he boomed; dust shifted: ‘Ninety seven today, hooray.’

He should have died in his twenties; counted three occasions. ‘My very own demise!’ he says; but nothing; no death, no harm to anyone, nothing. Silly man checked the figures, for a time believed his life was a mistake.

Misty recollections of jails and maelstroms and straining every nerve to overcome, bark in his ear as if from an unknown yard, inside his head. These barks, like auditory scars, are souvenirs of times and places, events he can’t fully recall. Now, being so old, he supposes they’re a recent thing; further evidence of something he has thus far managed to hide; the onset of dementia. But these mental explosions have in fact been occurring for decades, in various types of lines- lunch bar lines, movie lines, stadium lines, shopping market lines, and always in the open street.

Unseen lights flashing behind his eyes, Maurice shuffled forward in the queue and slammed into the man in front of himself.

"Dammit, granpa," the man cursed and glared. "Why don't you watch what you're doin'?"

"I'm real sorry, son," the old-timer mumbled as he stepped out of the ice-cream line and shuffled away.

Maurice flicked through the guy's wallet. Sixty bucks. Not bad. He dropped it in his Walmart bag with the others. "Ninety eight today!" he boomed. "I still got it!"

Maurice "Fingers" Wyatt scanned the street for another line.



Opening: Morgan Barrie.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 331

Caption: Whirlochre

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Face-Lift 608


Guess the Plot

Convinced

1. During his tour of the sinister International House of Espionage, Jack Strong realizes the dame in the hot pants isn't just another pretty face. But can he convince the powers that be in time to avoid an international incident?

2. The first of a litfic trilogy, in which a naive young man is led into dissipation and eventual murder by a persuasive existentialist grad student. The other titles are Convicted and Condemned.

3. This query is printed with ink permeated with a psychotropic drug. Shortly you will be CONVINCED to request the full manuscript, just as the editor will be CONVINCED to offer, and readers will be CONVINCED to buy. Thanks for your consideration. Yours, Stephenie Meyer.

4. Emily's irritating coworker happens to be a wizard who believes that the key to magic is convincing it to do what you want. But he didn't count on the fact that Emily, by her very presence, nullifies magic. Now he detests her, and not just because he can no longer do all his filing by blinking his eyes.

5. Some broads don't learn. Like Mary Mabel Monahan. Hardened bartender Jake Stone knows a tough cookie when she walks in, all right--but is Mary just a slow learner, or is she really his long-lost brother Mike?

6. Duncan scoffed at the idea of a Higher Power, but when a lightning strike burns all his hair off and leaves him with the ability to persuade anyone of anything, however absurd, he's . . . convinced . . . that not only does a Higher Power exist, but it obviously has a sense of humour.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Emily Daggett's childhood fantasy--find a wizard, be extraordinary, go adventuring--is coming true fifteen years late. [Shouldn't that be "fantasies"? Or is this one combo-fantasy?] And in the worst way possible.

The wizard, irritating co-worker rather than kindly old mage, detests her. She's extraordinary because she can't do magic but instead nullifies it with her very presence. And the adventure? It's a cloak-and-dagger battle that appeals to Emily's bookish ideas about good vs. evil--until she realizes she might have chosen the wrong side.

CONVINCED, a contemporary fantasy, is complete at 94,000 words. I'm a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Before that I worked in Iowa, the setting for CONVINCED and not nearly as flat as vicious rumors would have you believe. [In fact, the Iowa Tourism Bureau's new slogan is designed to make this point: Iowa: Hey, at least we're not as flat as Kansas.]

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[Author's note: the title refers in part to the irritating wizard's insistence that the trick to magic is convincing it to do what you want.]


Notes

You've listed a few intriguing elements, but I'd like more detail and more plot. Where do Emily and the wizard work? Does he detest her because she nullifies magic? Is he involved in the cloak and dagger adventure? How does she get involved in the adventure, and what are the stakes?

Maybe the fantasy should sound less like three fantasies:

Emily Daggett's childhood fantasy--to have an exciting adventure with a wizard--is coming true fifteen years late. And in the worst way possible.

The wizard turns out to be Emily's coworker Ralph, who clips his nails at his desk, chews his ice, and detests Emily just because her very presence nullifies his magic. Sharing a cubicle with Ralph was bad enough, but now the two have been recruited by the CIA to assassinate the president of Peru. It's a cloak-and-dagger mission that appeals to Emily's bookish ideas about good vs. evil--until she realizes she might be on the wrong side.


That's about the same length as yours, but note the extra detail: the wizard's name, what's irritating about him, why he detests Emily, what kind of job they have, what the adventure involves, how they got involved in the adventure. It also unifies the elements by confirming that Ralph is in on the adventure, making it seem more like a story. And there's no reason you can't add additional compelling details to arouse our curiosity, as this is still pretty brief.

Cartoon 330

Caption: anon.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Face-Lift 607


Guess the Plot

Call Me Wonder Rose

1. I am Rosa floribunda, and I am invincible. I've survived infestations, invasions, perversions and depredations. I've been cut, frozen, chopped, burned, drowned and severed. I've watched my children die while I live on. You can shove me in the dirt, force-feed me concoctions, but you can't destroy me. Call me wonder rose.

2. It sure was a shock to learn that my younger brothers are all superheroes, each with a unique ability that's been kept secret from me all my life, and I'm the only member of the Rose family who's normal. Of course, when a supervillain comes to town, it's sure to be big sis who has to save the day, as usual. The name's Dylan Rose, but you can . . . Call me Wonder Rose.

3. Wonder Bread built healthy bodies in even more ways than people thought. During WWII, a daring bio-modification program based on experimental bread-molds turned me into a superheroine whose battle against fascism outdid even Captain America. They called me . . . Wonder Rose.

4. In the little town of Meadowville, GA, nothing brings out cutthroat ruthlessness like the Horticultural Society's Annual Garden Show. But now I'm wondering if I've gone too far--my genetically spliced roses are displaying signs of sentience and an interest in superheroics. The newspapers . . . call me Wonder Rose.

5. The name's Rose Baumgarten. I recently resigned from Joe's Bar and Grill to begin a new career as a pimp-bashing superhero. Too bad that means I have about a thousand instant enemies who all need to be manhandled and crushed to pulp beneath my sharp red stilettos, enemies who . . . Call Me Wonder Rose.

6. When my grandmother leaves me an old trunk, I discover the diary and letters of my great-great-grandmother, an exotic dancer. I change my name from Summer Dawn and take up fan dancing. Call Me Wonder Rose.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I am currently seeking representation for my young adult fantasy novel "Call Me Wonder Rose," complete at 65,000 words.

Sixteen-year-old Dylan Rose has always felt like the family outcast. And it's not all in her head.

When she inherits her late grandfather's journal, which chronicles his ability to shrink in size and stretch his limbs to the size of a football field, [May 3: As I lie dying in my hospital bed I finally realize that the ability to punch a criminal from a hundred yards away is not so effective when the criminal is 110 yards away, with a high-powered rifle.] Dylan believes the journal must be fiction. But it turns out [that her grandfather was once known as (choose one):


a. Plastic Man
















b. The Elongated Man










c. Mr. Fantastic



















Amazing how even lame superhero powers get recycled/stolen.] every word is true. Dylan discovered the Rose family secret: She belongs to a family of super heroes.

Cool, right? Sure. If you had powers. But unfortunately for Dylan, she doesn't. The hero gene is only passed down to males, and her three younger brother's have kept their unique powers hidden from her for over a decade. [No way five-year-old boys could resist using their super powers in their sister's presence. In fact, no way they could resist using their super powers on their sister.]

While Dylan copes with the fact that her own flesh and blood kept this massive secret from her, [You had these powers all along and you didn't use them to help me destroy my rivals and win the heart of Biff Carpenter? Bastards!] the crime rate in the small Midwestern town sky rockets. The Rose brothers are convinced the culprit is using super powers to commit the crimes.

But whoever is committing the crimes has plans for something bigger than a little bank robbery.

And it involves the Rose family outcast. [How do they know this?]

Dylan's more valuable to the super family business than originally perceived. [How so?] It's this discovery that makes her the hottest ticket in town, [What does that mean?] and places Dylan smack-dab in the middle of a dangerous old rivalry. [Possibly what you're hinting at is that the supervillain was sent up the river by grandpa and now he's going to exact his revenge by kidnapping Dylan to get the super brothers to help him destroy the statue of grandpa in the town square. Or not. It's a pretty vague way to end the query.]

My short stories have appeared in The Bell Tower and The Scruffy Dog Review. This is my first novel. I would be happy to send a partial at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

Even if you don't want to reveal the details on how Dylan is useful in defeating the supervillain, I don't see why you can't be more specific about how she's involved.

Cartoon 329

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Beginning 609

Tony made a bet with the entire fifth grade class. If he didn’t steal Mr. Chance’s magical map by his eleventh birthday, he was going to wash the kindergarten toilets every day for the rest of the school year.

Some kids said that was desperate. Suicidal. Just plain crazy!

But Tony was a rule-breaker.

Nevertheless, Tony couldn’t ignore the Legend of Mr. Chance. This top-secret notebook lay hidden on the back shelf of the Watson Elementary School library. The Legend of Mr. Chance filled every page. Except the last one. Tony planned on writing the ending himself.

He stood in the library, skipping his dreaded math class, and quietly re-read the pages:

The Legend of Mr. Chance

Mr. Chance had only one purpose in life-to make miserable little kids even more miserable.

Little kids who laughed at his shiny bald head and big bulging belly.

Little kids who hid his glass eye under his wig collection.

Little kids who barged into his magic shop and messed up the fake vomit display.

"And little kids who fall for my notebook trap!" Smiling, Mr. Chance tucked Tony into his velvet purse, where no one could hear him scream. Then he unfolded his map on the floor, stepped onto its center, and returned to his shop, where the stew pot was already boiling.


Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Synopsis 13


Frederica and the Heir to the Underworld (Goes with the query in Face-Lift 510)

FREDERICA (Freddy) is having a crappy week: a hot guy on a horse nearly runs her over, her dad’s lying to her, and the Wild Hunt, otherworldly cutthroats who hunt human game, have invaded her neighborhood. [Actually, once otherworldly cutthroats who hunt human game invade your neighborhood, other stuff isn't worth complaining about.]

The hot guy, POLYDEGMON (Deg), isn’t so bad. He asks Freddy out, but her dad, COLIN, walks in on them mid-make out session, [This sounds like it happens right after Deg asks her out, rather than after their date. Something like He takes her dancing, but her dad later walks in . . . would make it clear.] beats the snot out of Deg, and tells Freddy to stay away from the guy. Colin knows Deg’s no-good, but he won’t tell Freddy what’s so bad about her date. Sick of being left out of the loop, Freddy follows Deg to get answers.

Freddy finds Deg, [Finding someone isn't so hard when you're already following him: There he is! Up ahead!] but the Wild Hunt captures them. Colin comes to rescue Freddy, but then she must save him from becoming hell hound chow. Freddy trades her life to save Deg and Colin. The Hunt’s Leader, CERNUNNOS, agrees to let them go. Freddy, he carries back to his home-world. [I took "trades her life" to mean she dies. Turns out she's just going on a tour.]

Cernunnos’ Hunt and the Olympian gods are near war. Cernunnos hopes to make peace by marrying Freddy to an Olympian. When Freddy asks why her, Cernunnos reveals he is her real father. [Is her mother her real mother? If so, how did her mother happen to give birth to the child of the leader of a gang of human-hunting cutthroats?] Come dinnertime, Freddy reunites with Deg- and meets his father: Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Instead of Deg, Cernunnos betroths her to Deg’s brother. Cernunnos threatens to hurt Freddy’s parents if she does anything to screw up her marriage. [In-laws. At least mine waited till after the wedding to threaten my parents.] Later, Cernunnos’ wife, MACHA, insulted by her husband’s bastard, attempts to strangle Freddy. The Wild Hunt fights her off, but, for her own safety, Freddy is sent to Hades’ Underworld at once. [You know things are bad when that's the safest place they can find for you.]

Deg offers to take Freddy home. Remembering Cernunnos’ threats, Freddy refuses. She attempts to make the best of her new life in the Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, her fiancĂ©, after a failed attempt to seduce Freddy, tries to rape her. ["Unfortunately" doesn't seem like a strong enough word.

Woman: Someone tried to rape me.

Cop: Well gee, that's unfortunate.]

Freddy fights him off, and Deg arrives in time to stop her from killing her fiancé. [She has the power to kill the son of Hades? She's a teenage girl.] Deg convinces Freddy to leave the Underworld.

At Freddy’s home, they discover Macha kidnapped Colin. Freddy runs to rescue her dad, and deg reluctantly follows. They infiltrate Cernunnos’ camp and rescue Colin. Macha catches them, but one of Cernunnos’ people kills her. [If you're one of Cerunnos's people, and you kill his wife, how much longer will you be one of Cerunnos's people?

Cerunnos's man: Hmm, my brutal leader's wife, Macha, just caught someone infiltrating our camp. How should I handle this? I know, I'll kill Macha.]


Cernunnos reveals he meant to protect Freddy from Macha’s assassination attempts through the marriage. He leaves Freddy with Colin, but promises if Freddy ever needs help, he will come.

After the dust settles, Deg and Freddy talk and decide to give their relationship a go.


Notes

This isn't doing the job. The first two paragraphs have some life, but after that it's mostly just a confusing list of things that happen. It reads like the notes you wrote to yourself before you started writing the novel. Connect some ideas with cause and effect, reasons, transitions. Inject some life. You're telling a story (in summary form), not outlining it.

You might want to mention that Cernunnos is a god. Calling him an otherworldly cutthroat doesn't necessarily make it clear he's powerful enough to capture the son of Hades, who I assume has powers of his own.

We need to know the power rankings. Cernunnos is able to capture Deg, Colin is able to beat the snot out of Deg and Freddy is able to fight off Deg's brother. One gets the impression the sons of Hades are 98-pound weaklings.

As the daughter of a god, does Freddy have powers? If so, has she ever noticed them?

Cartoon 328

Caption: anon.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Face-Lift 606


Guess the Plot

Camp Weight-A-Spell

1. One magical summer, the kids from the Fat Camp and the kids from the Boot Camp for Troubled Teens meet, overcome their differences, and band together to kill and eat the counselors and administration.

2. Outraged by the cultural appropriation of Native American language, protesters occupy Camp Winne-hoho-ugh and rename it for its real inhabitants: chubby pasty-faced rich kids.

3. Chester isn't surprised to see flying rowboats and outhouses that clean themselves. After all, it's a magical fat camp. But he is a little surprised to find his cabin leader is an alien laying the groundwork for a war against the human race. Also, Cyclops and Bigfoot.

4. Sherlock Jefferson goes undercover as an elk hunter to search for Octopus Jones, a thug now hiding undercover as an inarticulate waiter at Bonnie's Egg & Bacon Inn, just down the road from the local terrorist training center, which is trying to pass itself off as a fat camp for boys.

5. Becca has always been heavy. The summer before senior year, she plans to attend Camp Weight-A-Spell, a weight-loss camp famous for its astounding success stories. What she doesn't know is that Margie, the camp's director is a witch, and her "diet shakes" are actually magic potions that quite literally melt away the pounds.

6. The boys' camp always won the Muddy Lake fishing contest. But this summer the girls have an advantage, as Wiccan counselor Kate Hecky adds enchantment to their fishing rods. But their lures attract a lake creature older and bigger than anyone expected. Can Kate and her novice witches send it back into the deeps?



Original Version

Welcome to Camp Weight-A-Spell, a magical fat camp where the outhouses clean themselves, [If I'm attending a fat camp (and who among us couldn't stand to lose fifty pounds?) I'm going to find one with plumbing.] rowboats can fly, and spriggans get drunk on Listerine. But fourteen-year-old Chester Jones isn't worried, he's used to weird stuff - he's a warlock. [If you're going to say he isn't worried, give us something most people would worry about, like the lake is full of monsters, not the outhouses clean themselves. Or, instead of "worried," say he isn't fazed or impressed.] [Also, if the fat camp is magical, why don't they magically create some toilets? Better yet, magically melt fifty pounds off the campers; otherwise those rowboats will never get off the ground.]

Chester's real concern [So, he is worried.] is with his psycho cabin leader, Kyle (don't call me "Sir",) Mutare. Kyle isn't even human, he's a shape shifter evoking a shimmer. But that's not the worst part. A gateway has opened to the old shifters' world of Meta. [So, this is what's known as Meta-fiction?] Buried there is a mummy Kyle wants very much - a mummy that when resurrected will lead the shifters in war against the human race. [How does Chester know all this?]

When Kyle and three campers disappear from a group outing, Chester fears Kyle has taken his friends hostage to assist him in an ancient ritual to revive the mummy. Armed with a map of the burial site and his exceptional abilities at incantations, Chester sets out to save his friends and find the mummy before it's too late. His plan, however, didn't include an angry Cyclops and a Bigfoot with an agenda of his own. [Didn't we just have another Bigfoot story? I don't really see Bigfoot as much of a threat to a warlock. It's a tall hairy guy with big feet. Not that I'd want to come face-to-face with Bigfoot in the real world, but in fiction, where shapeshifters and warlocks exist, he's kind of lame.]

Camp Weight-A-Spell, an MG fantasy, is complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you in advance for your time. [It's too late to thank me in advance; I've already read the entire query.]


Notes

This reads okay for a middle grade book. And perhaps the following logic problems won't matter to kids:

1. An army of shapeshifters should be able to defeat the human race without needing a mummy to lead them. In fact, the mummy is the only member of the Meta army the humans could handle. We'd take out the mummy within seconds.

2. Is there some reason Kyle has chosen to be a cabin leader at a fat camp when the mummy is buried on Meta? Surely there are better first steps toward conquering humanity. Does the ancient ritual specify the need for three obese human teenagers?

3. The stakes seem kind of high for a kid. This sounds more like a job for the Men in Black.

4. Aren't flying rowboats counterproductive at a fat camp?

Also, the title gives no indication that this is a high-stakes thriller. Try: How Chester Jones Lost Fifty Pounds and Saved the Human Race.

Cartoon 327

Caption: anon.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the Evie goes to . . .


At the Academy Awards it takes three hours to get to the three categories you care about. The Evil Editor Film Academy Awards show lasts less than six minutes, even though we show the entire films of the three winners. You can watch the EE Awards starting at the same time the Oscar telecast begins, and then tune into the Oscars, and the winner of the Best Gaffer award hasn't even finished thanking all the people who were remotely connected to his career or his life, people he had to step all over to get where he is today.

The winning actor and actress were chosen by members of the EE Academy, while the best picture was chosen by a vote of all minions.


video

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Film Series

The Academy Awards are given out Sunday night. This is the first year Evil Editor's films have been eligible, but neither my films nor their performers have received nominations, despite the fact that they are clearly superior to the films that did get nominated. Why is this? you ask. One word: clout.

Apparently my relationships with Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Julia Roberts aren't enough to sway the Academy voters. Or perhaps they're just jealous. In any case, even once you're nominated your only chance of winning is to mount a massive publicity campaign, which is a polite term for a bribery campaign, and since EE Films runs on a budget of zero . . . well, you see the problem.

Not to worry. The nominees are in for the Evil Editor Film Academy Awards for films produced in 2008. View them here:

video

Winners will be announced Sunday night, and the good news is, it won't take three and a half hours.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Face-Lift 605


Guess the Plot

Feral

1. When his dad tells Cooper he has to get rid of his beloved pets, Cooper sulks, cries, and finally releases his gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs into the wild. Then he follows them, and becomes their leader--and a legend.

2. Were-woman Cinnamon takes names and kicks butt as a wilderness guide through the urban subcultures of werewolves, were-panthers, were-hyenas and other preternaturals.

3. When Janet Watson let Tom, the blind date astronaut, kiss her cheek, she had no idea he was carrying a Martian neovirus. Two weeks later, her body is covered with orange fur, she has unnaturally keen senses of smell, hearing, and night vision, and all she wants is to stalk something and eat raw meat. So she heads for the subway.

4. Teenage runaway Andrew is easy prey for the predators of New York City until a female werewolf takes him in. As their relationship progresses, will the were-woman sense that Andrew isn't what he seems to be? Could he be . . . a weredingo?

5. Dog-boy Jeff Higgins, aka Shaggy, saves his town from an evil horde of communist hot-air-ballooners in 1972, thereby averting a Cuban plot to overthrow Richard Milhouse Nixon.

6. She hunts by night, cleaning the vilest vermin off the streets of San Francisco. She's the superhero known as The Ferret, and she faces her toughest opponent yet: Weasel.


Original Version

Dearest Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for Feral, my 60,000-word YA urban fantasy.

Sixteen-year-old Kaia is a werewolf, the result of several decades of genetic manipulation. [You can manipulate my genes for a few decades if it'll make me sixteen again.] As a child, she escaped the government facility where she was created [If a child can break out of your top secret government facility, consider upgrading your security system.] and has been lurking in the shadows of Manhattan ever since, stalking the scum of society. [She hangs out outside Yankee Stadium?] Though she is not entirely happy, she is content to act as an unknown protector of innocents, until she meets Andrew.

Andrew is a teenage runaway who has taken to the streets to escape familial abuse. Frail as a bird and innocent as a child, he is easy prey for New York's predators, and against her better judgment, Kaia takes him in. As their relationship progresses, Andrew convinces Kaia that the only way to find peace is to return to the place of her birth and destroy the man who created her. [Change her from a werewolf to a spy and this is the plot of The Bourne Ultimatum.] But Andrew isn't what he appears to be, [What is he? This sounds like the crucial twist that might actually intrigue an editor enough to request the book, and you don't reveal it? Is he a weredingo?] and Kaia soon realizes the plan he has devised to set her free could lead to her immediate demise. [Andrew: Here's the plan: Strap this . . . device onto your chest, and when you meet your creator, push this button.]

I would be happy to send you sample pages or the complete manuscript of Feral. Thank you for your time.


Notes

Is Kaia a werewolf only when the moon is full?

It's stupid to tell a werewolf that you're her creator. She'll probably assume you're just a doctor trying to help her, and thus have no reason to one day hunt you down and tear out your throat. Having left when she was a child, how does Kaia know she was created by some scientist?

Kaia was content with her lot in life when Andrew came along. How does Andrew convince her she needs to "find peace?" Does she cry herself to sleep every night? Does she twitch when she sleeps, like she's dreaming she's chasing a rabbit? If she's already found her peace ripping out the throats of scum, she doesn't need to murder her creator to find peace.

Also, what is Andrew?

Cartoon 326

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Beginning 608 (excerpt)

As Manuel led Lerocque’s trading party to the pass approaching Santa Fe Kincaid felt the mountains and mesas close around him. The heights looming above made a man feel small and uneasy. Other feelings crept in too. Feelings more unsettling, even frightening. What if Lerocque was wrong? What if the Mexicans had lost their revolution against Spain? What if the Spaniards attacked or jailed them like they did the McKnights years before? Did the others feel this way? Hard telling by seeing how loose the older men sat their horses. But they had to be thinking about being in a foreign country where their lives could be in the hands of others.

Kincaid spotted a cloud of dust, then a troop of mounted Spanish soldiers cantered around a bend. Both the soldiers and Lerocque’s men drew up short.

Kincaid stared at the soldiers. Running up on mounted troopers gives a start that turns a man inside out.

Literally.

And a man's bowel must be obeyed when it's as loose in the saddle as this.

Kincaid peered around. Mountains, mesas, soldiers . . . But no Portaloos. Next year he'd go back to the Civil War Society Reenactment. It was so much more . . . civil.


Opening: Wes.....Continuation: McKoala

Cartoon 325

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cartoon 324

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Beginning 607

The man bore down on me, leering with yellow teeth. A light flickered in his eyes as snot oozed from his left nostril. I blinked up at him, keeping my eyes passive, which he took as a sign of surrender. Really, I just wanted to memorize the look on his face right before I ripped out his throat.

I must've looked like easy prey. My silvery-white hair hung down to the small of my back, untamable as a child's; my tight blue jeans hugged my frame nicely. At five-foot seven, I was taller than the other girls he'd killed, but I carried myself with an air of insecurity that told him I wouldn't fight back. The human body is so easy to train.

Swollen purple clouds loomed over our heads, threatening to burst. Summer was screeching to a halt, and soon the scorching Scottsdale desert would be blanketed in torrential rains. I loved the lightning; the way the wide expanse of sky was, for an instant, exposed, but the sudden clapping of thunder made me nervous. It reminded me of my youth.

Days spent in the corn fields of Kansas, and the way the dark clouds would roll over the land before needle-drops of rain pricked our arms -- me and my brother Jimmy, the smart one who went to college and became a lawyer and saved our uncle's farm from foreclosure. It was that farm, or the crops we grew on it, that took me to Arizona and led me to... Shit. Where'd he go?


Opening: Chelsea P......Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 323

Caption: Whirlochre

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Synopsis 12


STOP!!!: This synopsis goes with the Fate's Guardian query posted just below it. If you haven't yet read the query and you like to play Guess the Plot, STOP NOW, without even glancing downward. The first word of this synopsis gives away the GTP, so scroll down and read the query first, then come back for the synopsis.






Synopsis- FATE'S GUARDIAN


Gil Jacobs is only seven years old when he witnesses a double-homicide. A man murders his wife and daughter, and Gil watches through the window as his best friend Julie Flaherty dies. It is an event that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Literally.

The ghost of a Troubadour, whose life ended in the thirteenth century after a love affair went terribly awry, senses the impending deaths and enters the Flaherty's house. He captures and devours the soul of Julie's mother. As the Troubadour struggles with Julie's soul, Gil's presence at the window distracts him, enabling Julie to escape.

The Troubadour [This capitalizing of "troubadour" makes it sound like his name, like he's a supervillain known as The Troubadour.] [I suppose most of the good supervillain names are already taken, but if The Troubadour is the best he can come up with, he might want to hire a PR firm.] [At least you had the good sense not to mention in the query that the villain is a troubadour. Couldn't you make him the ghost of the Black Knight?] attacks Gil, but fails. Something odd happens to the Troubadour when he is near Gil – memories of his long forgotten life begin to surface. [Memories of reciting lyric poems in the villages of France.] The Troubadour suspects that Gil played a role in his death and develops an intense hatred for Gil, vowing to take his soul. [I was going to question developing an intense hatred so quickly, but then I realized I develop intense hatreds for other drivers whenever I'm in my car.]

Julie Flaherty is frightened and alone. Trapped as a ghost, she clings to the one positive memory of her short life – Gil. She watches the Troubadour's failed attack on Gil. She can see that the Troubadour is too weak to win, [He's been devouring souls since the thirteenth century, and he's too weak to defeat a seven-year-old kid?] but she watches in fear as the Troubadour preys on other souls, growing stronger with each one he consumes.

The Troubadour attacks Gil repeatedly. During one attack, he catches a glimpse of Gil's fate. The Troubadour [Does this guy at least have a name? Anything's better than constantly calling him The Troubadour.] realizes that he cannot end Gil's life, but knowing the time and place of Gil's death, he hope he can extend it. If he succeeds, Gil's soul will be thrown into an imbalance that will weaken it, leaving him defenseless. [Nothing's more humiliating than being defeated in battle by a poet.]

Julie knows that there is only one way she can protect Gil. Using herself as bait, she lures the Troubadour far away, to other prey. [Other prey that The Troubadour can defeat? He's more powerful than anyone except a seven-year-old kid?] She provides a temporary reprieve, and Gil grows to adulthood and starts a family. But living happily ever after was never part of Gil's fate, for he is going to die in a car crash at the tender age of thirty-three. [That's quite a reprieve. She distracted the Troubadour for twenty-six years?] Unless, of course, the Troubadour can prevent the crash.

The Troubadour returns on the day of Gil's destined death, trying desperately to upset the sequence of events that leads to the crash. Julie follows and, in the moments before the crash, she sacrifices herself to the Troubadour, providing the distraction necessary to facilitate Gil's fatal end.


Notes

Amazingly, the word "Troubadour" appears fourteen times in the synopsis, and not once in the query.

It's hard to get serious about a bad guy who goes by The Troubadour. Which explains why none of the X-Men is known as The Troubadour.

The Troubadour devours souls to become stronger, so why is he so weak? Apparently reincarnated kids are at the top of the food chain and ghosts in the middle and souls at the bottom? When you're a soul you probably think God has your back. Yet ghosts can just devour you?

If your goal is to devour the souls of those who just died, shouldn't you be hanging out in war zones or hospitals instead of in the suburbs, hoping some guy will crack and kill his wife and daughter?

As with the query, maybe all the questions are answered in the book, but if you can't explain everything in the synopsis, focus on what you can explain and what doesn't cry out for an explanation.

Face-Lift 604


Guess the Plot

Fate's Guardian

1. Sometimes bad things just happen. That seems to be the case for Fate Donnelly ALL THE TIME. So, when the new kid at school claims he's a guardian angel come to keep her safe, Fate just laughs. But, now he seems to be everywhere she is; and wherever he is, things are surprisingly . . . normal.

2. Though Gil Jacobs is fated to die in a car crash, a ghost wants to keep him alive in order to take his soul. Can the soul of one of his friends save Gil 's soul by making sure his body is mangled and crushed in a horrible wreck?

3. Khathakas thought watching over Apollo's children was a lousy job. Now he's been promoted: he has to keep Fate herself from harm. Also, a talking owl.

4. In an effort to dam the flood of doorstopper fantasy novels featuring prophecies and chosen ones, agent Kris Nelson valiantly takes on the mantle of Fate's Guardian, forbidding the use of destiny-based plot devices.

5. The Earl of Wheaton was well known as a wastrel. But when his long-lost schoolmate, dying of fever in Canada, writes to beg that he care for "my little girl," he reluctantly agrees--only to find himself saddled with a green-eyed, bewitching minx named Fate, who seems determined to upset society as thoroughly as the Earl once did.

6. Courtney Wilde is an ordinary prep-school girl--until she inherits the Mantle of Fate. At first it seems like fun: she can set up her favorite teacher with the guy of her dreams, and stuff like that. But when Courtney screws up, things get bad fast. Luckily, the position comes with a Guardian. And he's a hunk!


Original Version

Dr. Evil Editor,

Gil Jacobs must die in order to save his soul. After living dozens of lives over hundreds of years, the events of Gil's past are catching up with him, and he is powerless to prevent it. [How many dozens of lives? My calculations show that a mere three dozen lives with an average age of 57 at death would have him alive about fifty years before the birth of Christ. In which case you can say thousands of years.]

Gil is supposed to die in a car crash, it's his fate, but a ghost who knew Gil in a past life is trying to keep him alive as payback for a lost love. [He's already removed the spark plugs from Gil's car.] If Gil lives past today, he will not be able to cross over when death eventually claims him, and his soul will be ripe for the taking. [What does that mean? Does the ghost have a soul of its own?] If Gil dies, he will escape to his next life and the ghost's chance at vengeance will be lost. [Why? Can't the ghost seek vengeance on Gil's next incarnation?] [If the ghost can prevent a car wreck, seems like he could also cause one, and would have caused Gil to die last week or last year.]

Fortunately, Gil is not alone in his struggle. The soul of a friend watches over him, and she alone has the capacity to keep the antagonist at bay long enough for Gil to die. [For she is a former mechanic and has a brand new set of spark plugs.] Even if it means sacrificing her own soul.

FATE'S GUARDIAN is complete at 120,000 words. It is a supernatural thriller directed toward a commercial fiction audience, and first in a series titled Destiny's Will.

I have been writing professionally for business for the past eight years, including copywriting, press releases, and proposals. I welcome the opportunity to add "published novelist" to my repertoire. Writing is in my blood and I want my stories to be read. [I hope you won't think I'm a hardass when I say that lines like that never influence me. Well, not in a positive way, anyway.]

I chose to query you after reading your blog and realizing that your style of review should find ample room for comedic commentary in the query above and the synopsis that follows. That, and I have thick skin and I think I can take it. I am also hopeful that I may learn something from this endeavor.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,


Notes

Apparently Gil's soul survived his dozens of previous deaths. So the theory is that even when you die and your soul comes through it fine, you keep coming back and your soul is once again at risk? Seems like after you've lived enough lives there'll be so many vengeance-seeking ghosts who think you wronged them in some past life that your soul won't stand a chance.

How come when Gil dies he comes back in a new life, but his friend who watches over him remains in soul form? Is it better to come back or to just be a soul?

I assume Gil is unaware that he must die to save his soul. Thus the book's conflict seems to be between the two entities who care what happens to Gil. Are they corporeal? Can they communicate with Gil? Shouldn't they be the key characters in the query, with their names and details about their relationships with Gil included?

I guess I'm more bothered by the book's world than by the plot itself. In this world, if you die when fated to die, your soul is saved and you move to a new life where you must again die when fated or lose your soul. Apparently it's not a given that you will die when fated; if it were, Gil's soul friend would see no need to intervene. Does that mean if I'm fated to die in a car wreck when I'm twenty but a snowmobile accident kills me at nineteen I lose my soul?

Possibly the average person doesn't wonder all these things, but just in case, it's probably best to say as little as possible about stuff you don't have room to explain. Basically, tell us that the spirits of two people who knew Gil in past lives are battling, one to save his soul and the other to steal it. Then you might tell us how Gil stole Pierre the Ghost's woman in the French Revolution and how Miranda the Soul grew up with him in medieval Scotland.

Cartoon 322

Caption: Anon.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Film Series



Some marvel at what they find in Evil Editor's Shorts, but most simply laugh.

video

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Beginning 606 (short story)

Schoolboys have always been taught, since time immemorial, that witches are not to be trusted. Our literature abounds with instances where the most noble of men came to unhonorable ends for their unjustified belief that good is to be expected from the wicked or that honesty can be sought in the mumblings of the vermin who offered their souls to the evil one in return of perishable earthly favors.

Somewhere in Eastern Europe, in a forgotten corner of Transylvania, not too far from a mass grave of a dozen Turk soldiers who were impaled by the order of the terrible Vlad, the locals can tell you a folk tale that utilizes the same theme, although it takes the notions of cruelty, treason and desecration to unexplored levels that never fail to excite disgust.

It goes that a certain antique prince, whose name is irrelevant, having consumed all the pleasures of the flesh, may it be food, drink or fornication, had decided to descend more into the infernal abyss, and learn the dark arts, not for any possible outcome, but for the sole pleasure of violating the divine will of our good lord. He sought joining a fraternity whose uncanny fame offended even the most depraved of men. Some say that he was introduced to it by a prostitute whom he had been frequenting, others deny this detail, asserting that those pests lured him into the forest where their meetings were held by means of voices that drove sanity out of his head.

That's the thing with prostitutes: they're trouble, trouble. Better off without them. Same with witches and fraternities. And Turks. Stay away from all of them, or you'll pay the price with your soul. Anyway, now stand for hymn number 473, All Things Bright and Beautiful.


Opening: Fady Bahig.....Continuation: Anonymous

Cartoon 321

Caption: anon.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Face-Lift 603


Guess the Plot

The Halleluiah Chicken

1. When Pastor John beheads a chicken for dinner, he's shocked that it continues to live--headless. Convinced it's a sign from God, he and Lazarus the Rooster embark on a journey across America.

2. This summer has been just plain weird. First, Cassie's dad leaves town with a suitcase full of embezzeled money, then her mom joins a strange religious born-again group, and now her health-obsessed aunt is making them eat chicken every night for dinner. And the worst part: It's only half-way through July.

3. Gloria the hen knew exactly why she wanted to cross the road: to get to the religious revival on the other side. Can she dodge aggressive roosters, angry farmers, and the dreaded arguments of her atheist friends to make it to her own Halleluiah?

4. A rooster attempts to take over the leading religious communities by raising an army of genetically modified chickens while passing himself off as the first reincarnation of the Christian Messiah and the 15th Embodiment of the Tibetan Poachen Lama.

5. Frank Donnelly, newly appointed CEO of McDonald's Corporation, attempts to appeal to Christian consumers by hiring a priest to bless the meat. But when the big cheese in heaven starts speaking to Frank, via The Halleluiah Chicken and the Beef McJesus, all hell breaks loose!

6. Maria, the shy daughter of an ailing farmer, is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when her father's favorite chicken turns up at the site of a religious miracle, leads police to find a missing boy, and pecks at a wanted, fleeing criminal. When crowds swarm her family's property, hoping to pay homage to the chicken, Maria faces some tough decisions.


Original Version

A power-hungry chicken with a messianic complex emerges from a caponiere to take over the world's religious communities and spread a new gospel based on Chicanery.

Adolph Schickengroper, a Minorca rooster raised in the bower of an eagle's aerie, attempts to take over the leading religious communities by raising an army of genetically modified chickens while passing himself off as the first reincarnation of the Christian Messiah, Huevos Christos, and the 15th Embodiment of the Tibetan Poachen Lama. [Not sure exactly what "take over religious communities" means, but we don't need it in both the first and second sentences.]

Arnold Hamnegger, a culture hero and soul mate of the wily bird, acquires the ability to communicate with all feathered fowl after he is bitten by a pit viper and in the ensuing struggle swallows some of its blood.

My novel of social satire consists of 68,000 words and is based on dozens of folk tales and superstitions surrounding birds and snakes indigenous not only to the United States but Europe and Asia. [What's indigenous to the US and Europe and Asia? The folk tales or the birds and snakes? Either way get the birds and snakes out of the sentence as they're drying up the humor.] [In fact, save the folk tales for your closing paragraph. Just tell us what happens.]

The folk tales, though not entirely concealed, are convincingly disguised in this contemporary satirical farce of a middle-aged family man who falls in love with a country and western singer, leaves his home and family to become a lone groupie, but is turned by the hand of fate into an American culture hero.

Ophites, trolls, evangelists, sports fans, TIME reporters resurrected from the dead, creatures from Irish, Welsh, Indian and Eastern mythology, and an American socialite so fat she is capable of disguising herself as a Victorian mansion, cruise ship and/or a blimp, [The mansion is funny. The cruise ship and blimp are the same joke. Settle for one laugh or risk getting none.] [Also, that list is too long. Shorten it to Trolls, evangelists, zombies, mythological creatures and an American socialite so fat . . . ] parade through the pages of this novel in time to resurrect humanity from the menace of Chicanery.

____________ is a news and articles editor with 20 years experience. He has worked for newspapers and magazines in the USA, and for international wire services and human rights publications in Hong Kong, Thailand and China. [No need to use 3rd person . . . unless you aren't the author. Did the chicken write this?]


Notes

Put the bio, word count, genre, etc. in the last paragraph and stick with the plot in the rest.

Pretend it's not a farce and organize it as if it's a serious novel. We'll get that it's wacky from the details, but we need to know how it progresses. Arnold leaving his home should be close to the front. How does he meet Adolph? Is he Adolph's translator? How successful is the chicken? Does he fill stadiums?

The huevos/poachen gags lead me to wonder if this is a world in which the leading religious communities are already fowl-based. If the chicken is taking over humanity's leading religious communities, which makes for a better satire, I'd leave those jokes out of the query.

This crazier the story, the more I want to feel the author is in control. The query is pretty much out of control. A tight query will go a long way toward convincing us you can handle this material.

Personally, I don't like the use of the names Hamnegger and Schickengroper, especially the former. Those are cheap laughs, better suited to a kid's book. We want to feel like an average guy is getting caught up in insanity. If his name is Hamnegger, we're not going to feel like it's real.

Cartoon 320

Caption: Evil Editor

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Beginning 605

Jenn opened his eyes to find a wall in front of him. He closed his eyes and counted to three, but the wall remained. Had he been moved during the night?

He listened for the footfall of a prison guard coming to spring whatever joke they'd made him part of. Instead he heard voices, men talking and even laughing. Was he still in the barracks?

The wall was wooden, painted white. Slowly Jenn reached out a hand, until he felt the edge of rough timber under his fingers. Yet he couldn't remember seeing such a wall anywhere in Blackmarsh. He rolled over. A short distance away was another wall, this one with shelves. "Shelves to put your personal items on," someone had said, just before Jenn fell asleep.

You own nothing. You are nothing.

Not in the barracks?

A memory pushed to the surface, of him walking away from the hellhole of Blackmarsh and a ride on a mail coach into the city. Was that just a dream though? The wall felt solid. It was no dream.

All white. Definitely not the barracks. He heard women's voices mixed with the men's. No woman was allowed within twenty metres of the barracks. 'More's the pity,' Captain Greene had said, and then he'd made some joke about Jenn being a girl's name.

Jenn's eyes roamed the tiny room. The shelves. A silver hairbrush, a pot of tincture.

Even the things you think are yours forever are not.

Jenn lifted the blanket and peeked underneath.
Not a joke then.


Opening: Monissa Whitely.....Continuation: McKoala

New Beginning 604

Jack

Jack swung himself out onto the girders and balanced on the bridge, staring down at the reflected streetlights spangling the water.

Jack

Shut the fuck up, he told the nagging voice. The river ran silent, chuckling quietly only where it stroked the shore. A breeze flapped his trenchcoat, slapping it against the ironwork, and brought with it the bite of salt. Salt on mud on fish sliding through the water, tasting its brininess, changes in temperature like a watery map laid out to their senses--

Jack

'Shut up!' His words echoed off the waterfront, mocking him. The water invited, dark and cool.

I'll shut you up. He jumped, caught a crossbrace, and swung. River, bridge. River, bridge. The voice seemed to be holding its breath.

Madness doesn't breathe.

Still he swung, to and fro, flexing his hands, feeling the will in them not to let go. Cold iron. And still on him, the scent of the woman he'd paid for that evening. Her distant touch, as if falconer's gloves bound her hands. The insipid conversation.

Was it only that she wasn't--

His phone trilled Rachel's ring. Letting out a puff of breath, an almost-laugh, he dropped back onto the bridge concrete.

Be cool, like she is. Be strong. 'Yes?'

"Jack, I need you back at the lab right now." The urgency of Rachel's words sliced through him like razor blades fashioned from the ice of an ancient Canadian glacier that—

Jack

"Why?"

"Did you get a hooker tonight, Jack?"

Jack

"Maybe."

"Did you tell her about the lab, Jack?"

Jack

"Possibly. Why?"

"Why? Because her pimp's here right now, Jack. Holding a gun to my head, Jack. And he says, and I'm quoting here Jack, no manic depressive super intelligent trenchcoat wearing talking monkey is gonna pay his bitches with fucking bananas, er, yippee yo."

Jaaaaaaaaaaack, you MONKEY

"I told him you were a chimp, Jack."

Liar. "The bridge downtown. I'll be waiting for both of you."

It won't be his body they find in the river. Nobody calls him a monkey.

Monkey

"Shut up!"

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Blogless_Troll

Cartoon 319

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Face-Lift 602


Guess the Plot

Cosmo

1. The adopted child of two misfit astronomers searches for his mysterious birth parents, only to find that he must look up. Waaay up.

2. When the North Atlantic pirate who murdered his father on a New York bus turns out to be a ruthless Central American warlord, Cosmo Jones must decide whether or not to renounce his pacifism and seek revenge.

3. Omar Jesus Chinasky never had a successful audition until he changed his name to Hank Cosmo and became a super star overnight. Life is good on the set as Birdman, in sequel #4, but do the guys back home in Idaho still respect him? And did Whisky Joe really knock up Maryanne, or would she finally go out with Omar, if he asked again?

4. When the beautiful but chunky Tonka twins agree to be the poster girls for a diabolical weight reduction program, Nick Cosmo knows he must rescue them before they drink the "elixir of vermin," a concoction containing genetically altered parasite eggs. Can Nick get over his existential angst in time to take action?

5. It's been a bad year. A very bad year, actually. So, Abby Black decides to take matters into her own hands and start following all of the advice of the one source that always knows best: Cosmopolitan. This is the story of the woman who, for one year, took every single piece of advice the magazine had to offer.

6. A cute little space boy named Cosmo guides readers through the galaxy in this introduction to astronomy for early readers.



Original Version

Dear Evilest Editor:

Cosmo Jones's greatest disappointment is his shameful, cowardly father. But when the aging academic sacrifices his life to save a busload of strangers in 1930 New York, Cosmo is forced to re-examine his own life and moral viewpoint - and is thrust into a quest to track down his father's killer and a confrontation with the merciless incarnation of fate. [End that sentence at "killer"; paragraph 1 is way too early to mention the merciless incarnation of fate.]

At the age of ten, emigrating from London to America by ship, Cosmo witnesses his father betray a young woman passenger to a piratical gang of cutthroats,

[Pirate gang (boarding ship): Arrrgh! Be handin' over yon wench or we be sinkin' your ship.

Captain: Not a chance, scurvy dogs!

Cosmo's father: Whoa, cap'n, ever heard of negotiation? She's all yours, boys.]


led by a strangely charismatic figure who claims to remember the future but not the past. [He's living backwards. The curious case of Blackbeard Button.] [It's hard to envision the leader of a gang of cutthroats pausing his attack long enough to have a conversation in which he divulges that he remembers the future but not the past. It just doesn't seem like it would come up.

Pirate leader: Arrrrgh. Might as well turn over the wench, Cap'n. I remember us ravagin' her next week, so it be inevitable.

Captain: Well, when you put it like that . . .]

This propels him on a lifelong course of pacifism and self-sacrifice, set resolutely against his father's ruthless utilitarianism. [Better save the phrase "ruthless utilitarianism" for later too. Evil Editor's 4th Law: Get the editor hooked before you start tossing out samples of your pretentious vocabulary.] The conflict worsens when James - Cosmo's best friend and rival for the attention of childhood sweetheart, Angelica - is seduced by his father's philosophy and kills a man for the good of society. [Is it Hitler? Tell me it's not Hitler.] Unable to betray his friend, Cosmo leaves the country, vowing to cut both his father and friend out of his life forever.

He hears of his father's sudden death from afar but only returns home when Angelica – now married to James and expecting their first child – becomes seriously ill. He learns the extraordinary circumstances behind his father's death and persuades James to tell Angelica the truth about the killing [of Hitler]. [As you see, I changed my mind. I think he should kill Hitler. The guy who remembers the future but not the past tells him about the Holocaust, so he kills Hitler. Then at his murder trial he pleads not guilty by reason of the merciless incarnation of fate.] [I hope you authors don't find it annoying that my comical brainstorms always sound better than your actual books.] Before she dies, Angelica insists her husband must start to make amends, by aiding Cosmo in his search for his father's murderer.

Their journey takes them to Central America, where Cosmo battles with his own fear of cowardice and a corrupt police force who will do nothing to help them. When they finally track down the killer, they discover the reason: he is a powerful warlord who claims to be the physical incarnation of fate. [I'm starting to think that any time is too early to talk about the incarnation of fate.] And although younger, he is unmistakably the same man who led the pirate crew in their murderous attack over twenty years previously. [The pirate killed Cosmo's father? On a bus?]

With the discovery of the killer, Cosmo is forced to choose between his pacifist philosophy and the ruthless utilitarianism [You seem to think "utilitarianism" must always be preceded by "ruthless," sort of like "liberal" must always be preceded by "bleeding heart" and "atheist" must always be preceded by "militant."] of his dead father, a decision that brings to a head conflicting views of truth, self-sacrifice and morality, along with a final reconciliation with his best friend.

COSMO is a literary novel with elements of magical realism, complete at 85,000 words. I have written professionally since 1994, including work for national newspapers and newsstand magazines. I am currently the editor of a consumer magazine with a yearly readership of around 300,000 worldwide. [300,000? It's about time your readership became familiar with Evil Editor. Set up an interview. I'm thinking cover story here.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

It doesn't necessarily follow that someone who sacrificed his life to save a busload of passengers was murdered. A bit more detail about that incident--like saying he was murdered--will make it clear what you're talking about later when you bring up the father's murder.

This is long enough to be a short synopsis; too long for a query. What can we get rid of? Let's see, Angelica, James . . . and except for the part about him being murdered, Dad. Also, the philosophical crap. That leaves this:
At the age of ten, emigrating from London to America by ship, Cosmo Jones watches his father betray a young woman to a piratical gang of cutthroats led by a charismatic figure who claims to remember the future but not the past.

Cosmo's disappointment in his father leads to their estrangement years later, but when Cosmo learns that his father was murdered while preventing a fully loaded bus from plunging over a cliff, he returns to New York from Yugoslavia and embarks on a quest to track down the killer. His search takes him to Honduras, where he battles his own fear and a corrupt police force that will do nothing to help him, having pledged their allegiance to the murderer himself, a powerful warlord who claims to be the merciless incarnation of fate--and who happens to be the same pirate leader Cosmo encountered on his voyage to America.

With the discovery of the killer, Cosmo is forced to choose between his pacifist philosophy and the ruthless utilitarianism of his dead father, a choice that brings to a head conflicting views of truth, self-sacrifice and morality.

Set in the 1920s and '30s, Cosmo is a literary novel with elements of magical realism etc. etc.
So this fate guy: Does he show up now and then in everyone's lives, or is there something special about Cosmo? Maybe we should capitalize "Fate."

It's hard to think of a book whose main character is an adult named Cosmo as anything but a comedy.

Having read over my own version, I realize it sounds as nuts as yours. Can we leave out the pirates and the fate guy and the warlord?

Cartoon 318

Caption: James Klousia

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Monday, February 09, 2009

New Beginning 603

I locked eyes with my fellow job candidate, trying not to smile at his surprise. "Yes, I'm serious, Joe. Turn around."

A mottled flush crawled up his neck. "I can't ask you to do that." He shot a glance at the receptionist, the only other person in the late-70's-style waiting room plastered with Toronto Hogs hockey team posters and memorabilia, but her focus on her computer remained absolute.

"You didn't ask, I offered. And your shoulders are right up to your ears. Don't look a gift massage in the mouth."

Since I'd already been waiting a good ten minutes, although they'd flown by in his company, I probably didn't have long before my interview, but I couldn't leave such a nice man without at least trying to reduce the awful tension I'd noticed in him.

"This feels good, right?" I let my fingers work the knots in his shoulders."

"Uh, yeah... I guess..."

His warm, musky smell mixed with expensive cologne, while the receptionist tapped at her computer.

I leaned in closer and let my hair gently brush his cheek. "Married?"

"Y-- Yeah..."

"Thought so," I said. "Still, you seem the liberal type...?" I let my breath caress his earlobes, and knots tightened under my hands and his skin flushed red again.

The receptionist's phone trilled. She looked up and smiled. "You can go in now, Mr. Linklater."

"Maybe I'll, ah, see you later?" I said with a firm squeeze before I headed for the office door, thanking the receptionist on the way, confident that my fellow candidate's interview was not going to go well at all.


Opening: Heather Wardell.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 317

Caption: Suzan Harden

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Saturday Film Series



Like fireworks sparkling in the sky and then existing in the memory ever after, Evil Editor's shorts burn bright for a short time each Saturday.


video

Text intro by Dave F.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Face-Lift 601


Guess the Plot

Wolves and Walls

1. Luna isn't rabid or dangerous, so why should she have to be quarantined with the other werewolves? She shouldn't, but even that would be better than what'll happen if the town's Civic Committee changes the law and gives wolfwomen the death penalty.

2. Terry Zygax is world-renowned for creating the worst role-playing game of all time, Wolves and Walls. Now homeless and addicted to modeling glue, Terry is faced with a chance at vindication when his small Wisconsin town is overrun by a pack of rabies-infected wolves, and only Terry knows how to stop them. Ok, it's walls. Pretty much any wall will keep them from getting at you.

3. Mazeworld Amusement Park is losing business as the extreme-sports movement spreads. Visitors aren't attracted to contemplation and puzzle-solving. But ambitious new manager Lupe has a plan to make hedge mazes more intense.

4. Tired of the deer getting into your vegetable garden? From his twenty years of experimentation and experience with wildlife, the author offers up his revolutionary method, using both natural and man-made approaches to the ungulate problem.

5. The last days of the Roman Empire. Legionnaire Hanno watches over the parapets of Hadrian's wall, where wolves and blue-daubed savages fight over the bones of Rome's civilization. Millenia later, an archaeology student discovers the potsherds his diary was scratched on, and is bored.

6. Successful game designer Brett is psyched about his new werewolf-based RPG - until he discovers he's offended the actual werewolf pack living in the local forest. Can he convince the lovely lycanthrope Leilani not to rip him to shreds? And can Brett handle a real adventure?

7. When Gemma the witch decides to open a nightclub for werewolves & vampires, everyone simply smiles. But the lichmaster who runs the zombie whorehouse isn't smiling, and soon, Gemma won't be, either. Can she save her dream?


Original Version

Dear Agent,

Luna Weaver, sixteen years old, has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the age of eleven. [When once a month you become a raving lunatic, it's hard to hide it. And it's even harder to hide it when once a month you become a werewolf. Ba dum ching.] Now, the governments have decided that the rules are about to change: could the punishment for being a werewolf now be death?

Werewolves have historically been considered a diseased population and a threat to public safety, [Especially when they tear the throats out of people.] but not all werewolves are rabid or dangerous. Luna Weaver certainly is not. But she has been hiding the fact that she is a werewolf from the people of Wall-in-the-Wood for fear of being forced to live under the strict quarantine that the town uses to prevent the spread of the werewolf population. [Okay people, there's a full moon tonight, so follow directions and no one will get hurt. All werewolves stay behind this big wall. No climbing the wall and no walking around it to our side.] No one knows, not even her friends who live inside the quarantine.

When Luna is sixteen, a new Civic Committee is convened by the Civil Councils of the towns to form a ruling about werewolves. [Okay, settle down folks, and we'll start the meeting. First order of business: all these damn werewolves.] The towns have been using different methods of werewolf prevention, [I wonder if that's why they blew up the moon in that query earlier this week. Werewolf prevention. Could work.] but that is about to change. The Civic Committee could rule in favor of captivity, even death, and there is nothing Luna can do about it. Until she meets Seath Hunter, a representative from a city where being werewolf is a crime punishable by death, who has his own reasons for hating werewolves. [Is this an allegory for the civil rights movement? Is there a scene with werewolves marching peacefully and townspeople turning fire hoses on them?]

Seath is intrigued by the mysterious girl everyone knows but no one seems to know about, and he makes it his mission to uncover what Luna's hiding. [When people are making it their mission to find out what you're hiding, you're not hiding the fact that you're hiding something well enough.] When a fateful night in the woods reveals Luna's secret, the pair of unlikely friends decide to use Seath's place on the Civic Committee to attempt the impossible: ensure the freedom to feared and trapped werewolves. [What happened to Seath's reasons for hating werewolves?]

These events unfold in Wall-in-the-Wood, a town characterized by its stone walls and werewolf quarantine. [You make it sound like their tourism slogan is Vacation in lovely Wall-in-the-Wood, where all our werewolves are quarantined.] Wolves and Walls is 62,000 words. The full manuscript is available on request.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration,


Notes

Seath is a lot like Seth and Hunter is a shade of green and Seth Green played a werewolf on Buffy. Coincidence?

Is this YA?

I can understand Seath Hunter not wanting to kill Luna, as she's undoubedly pretty hot, but why is a guy who hates werewolves trying to give all of them their freedom? Wait, is this an allegory and the werewolves are the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

There seem to be a lot of werewolves. Shouldn't they organize and wait for the full moon and rip everybody's throat out?

What does the quarantine consist of? Is it voluntary? Are they under guard?

For the query you might want to just refer to the town council. This civic committee of the civil councils is a lot of "c" words to digest at once. It's like eating clam chowder over chocolate cake.