Friday, July 31, 2009

Synopsis 19

Morally Ambiguous

[I changed a few words/lines to red to indicate I'd get rid of them.]

When Nodammo Ebonlocke’s afternoon tea is spoiled by a hero with a very big sword arriving in the Generic Little Village, she reacts as any morally ambiguous sorceress would. [She invites him to play sword in the stone.] With a little help from her employees, she manages to bury the hero’s [sword in her garden.] remains in the vegetable garden where he can finally do something useful with his life by helping the vegetables grow bigger. [A joke is seldom improved by explaining it. Also, if you're going to leave out the part where she zaps the hero, start the next sentence: Then, with a little help from her employees, she buries . . . The "Then" lets us know her reaction already happened; otherwise we think her reaction is burying the remains.]

The problem doesn’t stop there, though. Infuriated by their constant loss of heroes to Nodammo, the Company, a mysterious megacorporation that’s mushroomed overnight in Fantasyland, dispatches an army of heroes led by Miss Annoyed, a junior executive in the Company, to dispose of Nodammo and her employees. Nodammo and her employees [Maybe we should leave Nodammo's employees out of the query.] summon up a tea elemental, buying them time to escape from the heroes. After some deliberation as to what to do, Nodammo decides to seek consul [counsel] from her mother, who advises her that running is ultimately futile, and that standing her ground and fighting the Company offers her the best chances of prolonged survival. [Not to quibble, but if her sorcery isn't strong enough to defeat an army of heroes, running would not be futile, as she could use magic to run to the other side of the world, where they wouldn't follow. And if her sorcery is strong enough to defeat the heroes, why did she run in the first place? Why can't she do to Miss Annoyed and friends what she did to so many other heroes?]

Meanwhile, Brommus, a wise old mentor on the Company’s payroll, loses his job to the fact that Nodammo’s been killing off his protégés. After leaving Literacity and wandering for a while with no goal in mind, Brommus receives a prophetic dream from his own chain-smoking wise old mentor, and is advised to hire himself out as a handyman to the very nursing home where Nodammo’s mother is living in. There he finds happiness in repairing carnivorous fountains and other odd jobs--until Nodammo arrives, the army of heroes on her tail.

In the ensuing confusion, Nodammo meets Brommus and learns of his previous career choice. [Wise old mentor was a career choice?] Realising the value of a disgruntled ex-employee of the Company to her cause, she offers to hire Brommus. While he is initially reluctant, Brommus eventually agrees as Nodammo’s cause is the best chance he has of undoing the damage he’s done over the years. That being done, Brommus suggests that they head to the kingdom of Gru’bar’atr, where he gains them an audience with the current king by virtue of being the king’s wise old mentor during the latter’s days as a hero. [It sounds like everyone's got a wise old mentor, in which case there may not be enough wise old mentors to go around, and some people will have to settle for wise young mentors or imbecilic old mentors. Feel free to use a variation of that idea in your book with the standard acknowledgment.]

Nodammo and Brommus soon learn that the kingdom is in dire straits, due to the fact that having a crown-shaped birthmark, a large sword and good intentions is hardly a qualifier for good statesmanship, especially when he [Who?] is under pressure by the Company to turn his kingdom into a cliché. Together, they help rebuild the kingdom by convincing ministers and nobles to return to their posts, fixing the king’s well-intentioned financial disasters and restoring the people’s confidence in their ruler. [Why did they want an audience with the king? Seems like they're helping the king but the king does nothing for them.]

However, Nodammo’s activities have long since come to the Company’s attention, and Miss Annoyed is dispatched once more by the Company’s CEO to assess the situation. Here the Company’s true intentions are revealed to the reader; that they are people from Earth who have crossed over into Fantasyland and are creating artificial stories for the sole purpose of extracting narrative powers such as deus ex machina, million-to-one chances, happily ever afters and the likes for resale on Earth for obscene amounts of money. [Are these true intentions revealed only to the reader, or also to a character? If the latter, that's what belongs in the synopsis.]

Miss Annoyed quickly determines that Nodammo is a threat. While her boss agrees with her assessment, he instructs her to construct an appropriate climax for the narrative structure she’s observed so far with the caveat that she throw the fight, so that the story can be milked for all it’s worth. The idea troubles Miss Annoyed but her objections are ignored, and she secretly plans to eliminate Nodammo for the sake of the Company’s stability.

It doesn’t take long for another army of heroes to be amassed, this time directed at the kingdom. Realising the first signs of the threat, the king asks that Nodammo convince the ex-commander of the kingdom’s armies to help organise the defences. When Nodammo arrives at the cottage she’s been directed to, she discovers to her surprise that the commander doesn’t live alone; the ex-king, the current king’s uncle, is in hiding there too. After listening to the ex-king’s side of the story of how he became and evil usurper, Nodammo ropes them into helping save the kingdom. Through a combination of their own grit and ingenuity, internal sabotage from Miss Annoyed’s boss, who’s realised what she’s doing, and the power of the narrative secretly aiding them, Nodammo’s side manages to defeat the army of heroes. [Once the truth about the Company was revealed, I lost interest in the plot up to then. Just call me Mr. Annoyed.] [By which I mean, it hasn't been made clear what the danger is to anyone, and now that the truth is revealed, it doesn't have much to do with any of the characters. Was the Company causing the kingdom to fall apart?]

Brommus expresses concern that they won too easily, but Nodammo tells him to be content with his victories, even as unknown to them, Company agents pore over the battlefield harvesting huge amounts of narrative power. The story ends with the kingdom reverting to its former and rightful name of Fairbanks and the instatement of the ex-king as his nephew’s [wise old mentor,] head advisor, with the invitation to Nodammo and her employees to stay in the kingdom as long as they wish.


The idea that the villains are in Fantasyland to steal narrative powers seems kind of gimmicky in a novel, especially if it's not revealed reasonably early. Maybe it just needs to be more clear what the company does. They create a story with a Deus ex Machina or a happily ever after in Fantasyland, then extract that narrative power from the story, bring it to Earth, and sell it to someone who is willing to pay for it, and then that person lives happily ever after or is miraculously saved from disaster? Is that it?

If so, what are the narrative powers the army is gathering after they lose the war? Seems like that was an unhappy ending with no Deus ex Machina to save the heroes, so who's gonna wanna buy those powers?

It doesn't seem that what the Company is doing hurts anyone in Fantasyland. Why does Nodammo kill the heroes? Who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and what's at stake for everyone? The Company must be stopped from creating and selling literary tropes because . . . ? I think we need to know early on what the Company is doing and how this is affecting Fantasyland adversely. Otherwise it feels like the book veers off into craziness long after we've settled in with it.

Cartoon 439

Caption: Evil Editor

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Beginning 668

Polly Godwin knew she was lost when she smelled the Thames.

More likely it was a canal, but where on the Wandsworth Convalescent Hospital’s great grounds would a canal be? She stopped to make a map in her head. Toward west was the City of London. The railroad station, where the troop trains arrived, was south, nearer the coast. But where the water must be, she couldn’t picture.

She stood Heaven knows how many floors beneath a 100-year-old pile of granite filled with wounded soldiers from the trenches, in a maze of hallways still lit by gas lamps. Looking for a bedpan liner.

First day on her first nursing job, and it was Prank the New Girl all over again. No doubt an orderly meant to jump out at her from a cupboard. Fine chance he’d find her now.

She started back the way she’d come. In the dark behind her someone groaned with pain.

Polly turned to find a man lying on the floor, his face white as a sheet. How had they let one of the patients wander down here?

"Where does it hurt, sir," she asked, kneeling over him.

"Me gall bladder, I think," he said through clenched teeth.

Polly paused and frowned as she drew a mental map. Toward the left was the pancreas. The kidneys, that cleaned the blood, were right, by the lymph nodes. That must mean the liver is down, nearer the foot, so . . . No, wait . . .

Opening: Susan Hall-Balduf.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 438

Caption: Khazar-khum

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Face-Lift 659

Guess the Plot

Beneath the Ashes

1. They all laughed at Professor Whittaker's insane theory explaining the global uptick in volcanic eruptions . . . until the dragons began emerging from the lava.

2. In the days of old, burning at the stake could kill a witch. But paranormal investigator Kate Hanson is learning the hard way that in modern times fire is not enough, and evil lurks . . . beneath the ashes.

3. Unemployed banker Francois Goibert spends a lot of time gazing out his attic window, so when Mrs. Nash dies in a mysterious explosion, he knows exactly who her sinister visitors were -- but only by sight. Now he must help Detective Cher Wooster identify the killers before these firebugs toast him!

4. Hans-Ruedi Senn's family has lived on the same alp for six generations. He's tolerated the tourists and accepted change, but when city slicker Sylvia Burkhalter launches her new crematory remains scattering service uphill and upwind of his house, he draws the line.

5. Mick Shedly thought he was brilliant to burn the factory, collect the insurance and save his fiscal ass. But he didn't know the scene would be scrutinized by ultra-thorough Fire Inspector Mary Quan, his ex-girlfriend from college --who knows he's a lazy lying cad.

6. Twelve years after committing a double murder by burning down an occupied house, Dondra is released from prison. She sues the state for wrongful imprisonment, then realizes it was probably a mistake to confess to the murders before filing her lawsuit.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

RE: Beneath the Ashes

In a small neighborhood in the town of Briarcliff Manor, New York, a fire breaks out. The bodies of a very affluent couple, the Markos, are found. Their foster daughter, Dondra Williams, a young girl of seventeen is charged and later sentenced for their murder.

Twelve years later she is released from prison. [How many people do you have to murder before they give you, oh, say twenty years? I mean, if seventeen is old enough to be thrown in prison for twelve years, it oughta be old enough to be thrown in for any length of time.] Dondra wants revenge [She's out in twelve years after committing a double murder and she's complaining?] and plans to sue the State of New York and the Department of Social Services for wrongful imprisonment. Her allegation: she was physically abused by the Markos. She hires the law firm of Brown, Fisher, and Smalls and is represented by Sydney Taylor, one of the firm’s top lawyers. [I take it Brown, Fisher and Smalls were unavailable?]

Dondra admits to killing the Markos, but refuses to talk about the day of the fire. [When you went into prison at the age of seventeen, how do you have the funds to hire a law firm when you get out? I don't see them taking a wrongful imprisonment case on spec from a client who won't even talk about the day of the alleged murders.] Can Sydney find evidence of any physical abuse or was the motive something more sinister? [If there wasn't any evidence of physical abuse before she spent twelve years in prison, there is now. Do you have any idea how long the waiting list is for jobs as a guard in a women's prison?]

Beneath the Ashes, my 66,000-word novel, is a murder mystery in the same style as Mary Higgins Clark, but infused with social commentary in regards to today’s foster care system.

[Sydney: I've called you together to reveal the truth about the murder. But before I do, social worker Janet Garozzo, who hasn't been a character in the book up till now, would like to provide a brief info dump about the foster care system in the United States. Janet?]

My biological mother had me when she was thirteen. [I was gonna make a sarcastic crack like, Whose brilliant idea was that? Then I realized you might have a different take on it.] I became a ward of the court and was raised in the foster care system for seventeen years. While Beneath the Ashes is fiction, I was able to draw on my experiences living in [and burning down] several foster homes.

With a passion for storytelling, I am currently pursuing my BA in screenwriting at the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. My writing credits include: Rapport magazine; freelance writer for LA Focus and Turning Point magazine; ___________ weblog (relationship and dating advice website); copyeditor and writer for Dysonna, the Fashion magazine and co-writer for the fiction film-short Spin, which won the Global Art Film Festival award for outstanding screenplay 2007. [Remove the least impressive of these credits, starting with the dating advice weblog.]

I look forward to sending you sample chapters and discussing the project with you at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully yours,


Usually in a murder mystery the mystery is who committed the murder. If Dondra did it, and the book is about why, maybe it's literary fiction. If Dondra didn't do it, but is keeping a dark secret that might help reveal what really happened, why would she hire a lawyer to sue the state? Surely this has the potential to bring out the truth she wants to keep hidden.

If you sue someone, don't you have to talk about anything the judge who's deciding the case wants you to talk about?

If you hire a lawyer, he won't want you as a client if you refuse to give him all the relevant facts. And you won't want him as a lawyer if he goes behind your back and digs up facts you don't want him to have from other sources. She's not saying, I don't mind you knowing what happened the day of the fire, as long as you don't get it from me, is she?

Did Dondra claim at her trial that the Markos had abused her? If not, then even if abuse is an acceptable excuse for murder, how can she sue if she didn't tell anyone about the abuse? If she did claim she was abused, maybe that's why her sentence was light. Some people get life (or death) for double murder. Hey, who among us doesn't know two people they'd kill if they knew they'd get only twelve years?

I think we need a bigger hook than "Was the motive something more sinister?" to interest us in this as a mystery.

Cartoon 437

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Beginning 667

As Alexander, son of Xavier, walked through the crowd of people in the marketplace, someone who didn’t know any better would think he was royalty. The brown-skinned youth strode forward with all the confidence of a general and all the regal bearing of a king. The bags laden with groceries he carried did nothing to detract from his commanding presence. As he went, the crowd parted before him. But they did so not out of respect, but out of fear. Alex might seem human at a first glance, but there were signs otherwise, such as his pointed ears. While Alex was human on his father’s side, his mother was Kenlor, those hardy and enchanted tribespeople that Men considered savages. In the eyes of many, this was a crime beyond all forgiveness. But despite the prejudice he faced daily, Alex refused to hide what he was, and the word shame held no meaning for him. Neither did humility.

"What the merry Hell?"

Alex stopped in his tracks as a shrewish, gray-haired woman ejected from the crowd.

"Have you no shame? No humility?" The woman glared at Alex.

"Madam, I am--" he said.

You are? Look at me. I just trekked half a frigging mile through this godforsaken parking lot on my bad foot -- I'm diabetic, you know; tell him Herb."

"She's diabetic, you know . . . " Herb told him.

"Because you"--she smacked him with her umbrella -- "took the only handicapped space. Are silly pointy ears a disability now? I don't think so. Are--" she looked -- "Pop Tarts a disability? Not in this version of reality. So what have you got to say for yourself? Eh? Eh?"

Alex had nothing to say for himself. He threw his groceries into his car and drove away, having just learnt the meaning of righteous indignation.

Opening: Brett Wade.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 436

Caption: Whirlochre

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Face-Lift 658

Guess the Plot

Demon Prey

1. Laci is living a normal life with a normal job. Then one day someone comes into her office, insists that she's a demon hunter, and gives her her first assignment: to single-handedly capture Zathspar, the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth.

2. Thanks to Vincent's experiment with advanced genetic manipulation, aphids the size of Volkswagens emerge from the chicken shack and go in search of religion, only to confront demonic beetles the size of Hummers. Can Vincent quash the ensuing chaos with the power of prayer?

3. Sam and Laura's Yucatan Penninsula vacation is pure bliss--until a trail of dead goats leads right to their tent flap. Can Laura prove Sam isn't the Chupacabra before the locals roast him? More important, can Laura run faster than Sam?

4. Jerrold has been amusing himself by having affairs with girls from the local university's clubs. When he meets Ginny, a dedicated environmentalist, he thinks he can use her like the others. But Ginny's father is a demon, and daddy can't stand to see his little girl cry.

5. Bon Linte is a retired demon hunter who bought an island with the bounties he brought in. Now he owes his girlfriend a peaceful night together, but the children of his victims are looking for revenge and the volcano on his island is set to erupt.

6. Kirsty is a vindictive, manipulative college sophomore. One day the devil appears and gives her a choice -- she can live, die, and probably end up in Hell. Or she can become a demon and gain all sorts of cool powers like eternal youth--but only if she tempts her only friend into going to Hell instead. Did I mention the demon powers are really awesome?

Original Version

Dear Agent:

I am currently seeking representation for my first novel, a paranormal romance titled Demon Prey. The novel, including a prologue, is complete at 76,500 words. [When I finished writing the book and realized it was only 36,500 words, I had two choices: Toss it or tack on a 40,000-word prologue.]

I have always been fascinated by the thought that all around us an unseen war rages over souls. [If it must be included at all, always put evidence that you are mentally unstable at the end of the query.] In my novel Demon Prey I give readers a glimpse of the warriors involved in those battles. The war in this realm is fought between the Amolites, a race of demon hunters and Demons. The Amolites live and work among us, but keep their existence hidden. [If they live and work among us, we know they exist. It's just their hobby they're keeping hidden.] This is why my heroine Laci Scott, [At last. A character.] is more than skeptical when an angel in training appears in her office insisting she is an Amolite. [No I'm not, I'm a Presbyterian.] If that were not disturbing enough, Laci has been charged with ensnaring Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth. [If this novel doesn't sell, would you mind if we incorporated Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth as our next recurring blog character?]

In a political move Laci does not understand, the ruling body of the Amolites strip her guardian away from her, condemning her to certain death at Zathspar [the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth's] hands. Terrified beyond all imaginings, Laci tries to return to her normal life.

It is on a routine business trip to Chicago to meet with a client, Dorian Burton, that Laci’s life is forever changed. [Okay, think. Which one really forever changed her life: a routine business trip to Chicago or finding out she was condemned to certain death at the hands of Zoltan?] It is more than the desire Dorian stirs in Laci, but his ability to manipulate the flow of time that gives Laci her first glimmer of hope. [Most women have a list of qualities they want in a man, but rarely does that list include the ability to manipulate the flow of time. I mean, you never read the personal ads and see something like: Looking for a man 30 - 35 yo who likes walks on the beach, fine dining, movies, and can manipulate the flow of time.] In his arms Laci finds the courage and the strength she needs to stand and fight.

[Laci: With you by my side I finally have the courage to fight.

Dorian: Fight who?

Laci: Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth.

Dorian: Hmm. How about instead we start by taking on Zamfir, master of the Pan flute, and work our way up to Zathspar?]

Zathspar must not be allowed to unleash his powers on the world again. [Again? What happened the last time Zathspar the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth unleashed his powers on the world?] If ZathsparthedeadliestdemonevertoplaguetheEarth is successful, the forces of good and evil will stand against each other one final time and decide once and for all who has the right to rule over heaven. Laci must win, not just for the world, but for the life of a man she can not live without. [Why is Dorian's life at stake?]

For further samples of this work, please contact me. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Can Dorian make time stop temporarily and kill Rathbone while he's frozen like a statue? Can he go back in time and kill Rathbone's mother before he's born? What about Hitler's mother?

Why don't the demon hunters assign the task of capturing Z-Spar to one of their more experienced people instead of someone who didn't even know she was a demon hunter yesterday?

How do they expect her to defeat Zamboni? Doesn't she need some training? It's hard enough to defeat one of the least deadly demons on your first mission, let alone the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth.

We don't need to know about the Amolites. After all, Laci didn't know about them. Start with: Literary agent Laci Scott is more than skeptical when an angel in training appears in her office, insists she is a demon hunter, and charges her with ensnaring Zathspar, the deadliest demon ever to plague the Earth. Of course Laci laughs the whole thing off . . . until [insert event that convinces Laci she really does have to ensnare Zimbabwe.] Fill us in on what manipulating the flow of time means, and make it good, because right now I don't feel that good about the chances of an office temp defeating the deadliest anything ever.

Also, consider changing Zathspar's name to Rathbone.

Cartoon 435

Caption: Anon.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Beginning 666

Slubka’s throat hurt. Her lungs hurt. Her stomach heaved. That meant, she supposed, that she was alive. Her arm hurt, too, from being pinned under her against a cold concrete floor. She had made it into the Emergency Building, then. That meant she would live a little longer; which meant she still had work to do. She sat up.

She was in a long narrow room, its outer wall lined with windows that seemed to suck light away rather than admitting it. No telling how long she’d been unconscious; the Unwind’s darkness could blot out sunlight as readily as moon and stars. Pale light and a murmur of distant voices came through the half-open inner door. No one else was in the room. She must have gotten this far on her own; if anyone else had brought her in they’d have known her for a Dova, a windspeaker, and stayed to see what she could do for them. Precious little, she guessed; but it was time to find out.

She watched her breath steaming, let her mind spread with it through the stale air of the outer rooms where the Unwind rattled the windows, the worse air of the inner room where the miners huddled, fearing the Unwind, their neighbors and themselves.

“So, what do you think?” said the wife.

“I don’t know, honey.” said the husband. “Slubka just doesn’t sound like the kind of name I want to give to our baby girl. Okay, I’ve heard yours now you listen to mine...

Stephanie went to the grocery store to buy some milk. She discovered--”

“Wait a minute...Stephanie? You want our kid to grow up with a name like Stephanie? No one will take her seriously!”

“Hold on, you said I would get a chance to illustrate my choice with a story.”

“No one wants to hear a story about a girl named Stephanie. Do you think I’m about to give birth to a goblin? Okay, listen to my second choice...

Analby was trapped in a deep, dark hole...”

Opening: Joanna.....Continuation: Matthew

Cartoon 434

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Face-Lift 657

Guess the Plot

Mendelve's Daughter

1. An aspiring novelist in Edwardian London writes a juicy romance, but is nearly undone by indecision about the heroine's name -- until she finds a brilliant way to write around it!

2. Convicted of sixteen murders by the age of thirteen, the world's youngest serial killer, waits on death row. And if you think Mendelve's daughter Sarah was bad, wait'll I tell you about Mendelve.

3. One roll in the hay with Fixdwarve and wham, Mendelve the maid is pregnant. Worse yet, a prophecy, a golden spatula and a cabbage-shaped birthmark on baby Patchmix's butt mean trouble from the jealous castle kitchen staff.

4. When Gustavo Mendelve died in 1724, he left behind an impressive array of lifelike automatons that delighted Royal Courts everywhere. Historian Jeff Hunter has found them. But as he restores them, he discovers something strange about the little harpist called Mendelve's Daughter. Is she really just a machine, or did the old inventor find the secret of creating life?

5. Jack John James quit his job after being required to spend a week in purgatory. His new job is to keep the boss's daughter happy. The problem? She wants items from the hells of all the world's religions.

6. Shouldn't that be Mendeleev, like the chemistry guy? The tragic true story of Tiffany Mendelve, and how the 13,121st repetition of that question drove her to begin the bloodiest killing spree in the history of Ogden Dunes, Indiana.

Original Version

Title: Mendelve’s Daughter
Genre: Mystery/ Suspense/ Thriller
Lengths: 90,000 words

Five years ago Joyce Wherret was an ordinary housewife living in one of Seattle’s wealthiest suburbs with her husband, Daniel and only daughter, Satiety. [Satiety? That's her name? Did they decide what to name their kid right after hitting an all-you-can-eat buffet?] But all that changed after Joyce’s husband was caught steeling money from her father’s company. [Which was U.S. Steel.] Disowned by her parents and siblings, [Her entire family disowns her because the guy she married turned out to be a crook?] Joyce followed Daniel into a run down apartment, and took a job as a maid. [When you move into a run-down apartment, it's always nice when someone follows you in looking for work as a maid.] Less than a year later, Satiety is kidnapped from her new school. [Or did she run away because of all the teasing about her name?] Now Joyce lives in East Tennessee with Daniel, struggling to make ends meet and her marriage work. [When you stick your kid with a name like Satiety, you deserve whatever misery befalls you.] Everything changes when a letter, arrives containing details about Satiety’s abduction only the kidnapper could know. The author is Sarah Mendelve, the world’s youngest serial killer. [So far; you can bet there are a few eleven- and twelve-year-olds hoping to break that record.] Convicted of sixteen murders at age thirteen, Sarah has spent the last five years on death row. Sarah will tell everything, all Joyce has to do is stop the serial killer’s execution. Joyce is more than willing. For one thing, she doesn’t believe in the death penalty. But mostly she’ll do anything for her daughter. There’s one problem: her husband. [And there's a second problem: she's not the governor. In fact, she's a maid with no political clout whatsoever.]

Daniel doesn’t want Joyce anywhere near Sarah Mendelve and he tries to stop his wife with violence. Joyce doesn’t know, but Sarah’s grandfather, Gerhardt Mendelve, is the man who kidnapped Satiety. [That's why Sarah is known as . . . Mendelve's Granddaughter.] And he’s been using Satiety to blackmail Daniel. When, Joyce starts digging deeper into the case against Sarah Mendelve, she uncovers a corrupt detective, [who framed an innocent thirteen-year-old for sixteen murders.] and discovers the FBI have classified her husband as a “person of interest,” but refuse to tell her why. ["No specific reason. We just find him extremely interesting."] Then people start dying [Does anyone finish dying?] and all the clues point toward Daniel. [Immediately the FBI swing into action, upgrading Daniel's status to "person of fascination."] In the end Joyce will learn the truth, but it comes with a steep price; to herself and everyone she knows.

I graduated from redacted in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I am currently an English Teacher [I'm betting "satiety" was one of your vocabulary words while you were writing the novel.] living in redacted. [And that was another one.] Mendelve’s Daughter is my first completed work of fiction. I have attached sample pages. I look forward to further communication.


When you're offered an opportunity to get your kidnapped child back, whether you believe in the death penalty isn't among your considerations.

Nor is it worth stating that Joyce would do anything for her child. It's not like other parents of kidnapped children would say, "Sorry, I'll do anything for my child except stop an execution."

When did they put Sarah on death row? Surely not when she was thirteen. That would never happen. They have special facilities for serial killers who are thirteen-year-old girls.

If your principal sees those commas after "letter" and "When," your English-teacher gig is in serious jeopardy.

Did Gramps kidnap Satiety just to blackmail Daniel, or to try to get the execution stopped? Either way, I see no reason the kidnapper chose Satiety. Why not kidnap the child of someone who's wealthy or who has clout? The authorities will reason similarly and assume she was kidnapped by a relative. Her grandfather. Meaning Daniel is Mendelve. They'll realize they should have known all along, because of the book's title. They'll realize that Mendelve conspired with a police detective to have his thirteen-year-old daughter charged with the sixteen murders he committed, and then moved to Seattle and married Joyce after changing his name to Daniel Wherret.

Not clear what Joyce is expected to do to stop the execution. Her husband doesn't want her anywhere near Sarah Mendelve, but how was she going to get near her anyway? They don't let just anyone visit death row inmates.

Why hasn't Daniel told Joyce about the blackmail? Why hasn't Joyce told the authorities about the letter from Sarah?

I'm not buying the plot. If it all makes sense in the book, you need to get the stuff that's bothersome out of the query.

Cartoon 433

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Beginning 665

“You murdered her!?” A priestess in white robes turned away, unable to look at her lover.

“I did what I had to do! Don’t you understand? This is for us--This is so we can spend eternity together!” The handsome youth approached the priestess and placed his hands on her shoulders. She stopped shaking upon his touch and he gently turned her until their eyes met. “We talked about this, remember? Why let heaven decide what’s best for us when we can forge our own destiny?”

“But...murder? This is not you...This is not the man I fell in love with. You’ve been listening to those fools in the town--You let them influence you! Why did you have to tell them that I taught you the ways of the priestesses? It is forbidden for a man to know such things!”

“Why is it forbidden? Because it was ordained by the heavens? If heaven is so against what we are doing then why did they not stop you from teaching me their secrets? Why did they not intervene when we stepped beyond our bounds and used our gifts to control spirits?”

"Our gifts? What gifts? You've ruined everything. How can we possibly be together for eternity now?"

"But I thought--"

"Did you? I don't think you thought at all. You could have just told her you didn't care for the arrangements. By the Heavens... I suppose it's up to me to salvage this. You go to the tavern or something; I'll see if I can find us another Wedding Planner."

Opening: Matthew.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 432

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Face-Lift 656

Guess the Plot

Saving Eden

1. All it took was one misheard word on the telephone - and the crack Dutch Cheese Rescue Squad was caught up in a situation for which it was completely unequipped.

2. Archeologist Ellen Suree has just discovered an ancient apple tree after draining a quicksand pit not far from her dig site in the Amazon. When her research reveals the petrified plants are older than any known substance, she thinks she's found Eden. But can she stop it from becoming the next Disney World?

3. Angela has spent her entire life trapped in her father's home and garden, and has never seen another person. But now a group calling themselves The Amenders have taken over the US government, and Angela may be the only person who can save a world she's never seen.

4. Emily Watson loves plants and hates religion - which is why this gifted botanist is startled to be tapped to restore the neglected garden of Eden. Despite the general weirdness of it all, working in Eden is paradise--until she learns why the garden is being restored. But can one lone atheist convince the Big Guy to hold off on the apocalypse?

5. At fourteen years old, Eden already drank, smoked and had a tattoo of a fanged demon on her back. When she takes an after-school job at the Convent of the Trembling Martyrs, the first thing she does is kick Sister Mary Gentile's ass for bossing her around. Will Eden's bad attitude destroy the convent, or will the trembling sisters band together for the purpose of . . . saving Eden?

6. Eden is a teenager lost in the system. He sometimes thinks his graffiti tags are the only evidence he even exists. When his graffiti starts disappearing, his investigation turns up disturbing information about spray paint manufacturers. Can he dodge corporate assassins, while saving himself and other graffiti artists from erasure?

Original Version

Dear (Agent),

Imagine living your whole life separated from the rest of the world. [That does sound like Eden.] The only other face you’ve ever seen is your father, ["Father's". Unless your father consists of nothing but a face. Actually, that would be a cool character. A giant face with no torso or appendages. Sort of like a picture of the Man in the Moon, except you'd have to figure out whether it just sits on a pillow while its kid feeds it grapes and pizza and eventually poison, or whether it rigs up a robotic body for locomotion. Either way it's sure to be better than the actual book, and while it may seem astounding that I can say that after reading fewer than two sentences of the query, trust me. Make the father a giant face.] and he’s not giving you any clues to what life is like on the outside. [What does he tell me? He must have some explanation for why he's keeping me trapped. Why haven't I killed the bastard?] What would happen to you if you suddenly found yourself in the middle of a big city, surrounded by strange and wonderful people? Is it possible that the real question should be what would happen to the people? [The real question should be How did I suddenly end up in the middle of a big city.] [Also, Where's the nearest doughnut shop?]

In my young adult novel Saving Eden, which is 40,500 words long, fifteen-year-old Angela has spent her entire life trapped inside the confinements of ["]paradise.["] The only other person she has ever seen is her father, who built their home by hand and tends their beautiful garden daily. [You can probably do without the first paragraph, as you've just given us the same information and then some.] It’s the year 2201 and all that is about to change when Angela discovers Jessie, a seventeen-year-old boy from Chicago, sitting in the mist of her garden. Jessie is a member of a secret organization determined to stop The Amenders, which is a group of people who have recently taken over the American government. [Their first order of business: amend the constitution to make it legal to go left on red and to make the Chicago Cubs World Series champions. Then they'll declare war on the Swiss.] [What did they do, march into Washington and say, Okay, everybody out; we're in charge now.?] Angela runs away with him to help save a world that she always wanted to see but never had a chance to know. When Angela discovers the reason behind her secluded life she realizes she may have caused her father, her new friends, and herself to be in more danger than she could ever imagine.

After seeing the books you’ve represented like (Super-Awsome-Book), which I have read myself in the past, I think you might be interested in representing Saving Eden as well as the many books I plan for the future. [This paragraph can go.]

I believe I should tell you a little about me. My name is "words-over-numbers" and I am a Ball State University student majoring in journalism with a minor in creative writing. I live in Indianapolis, IN and I have had a love for literature since I was a child. Though I have some journalistic articles published in The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis Recorder, this is the first fiction novel [Okay, before everyone writes in to point out that you don't have to describe a novel as fiction, allow me to point out that henceforth you do have to, as I've just completed what I believe to be the world's first nonfiction novel.] I have written that I feel deserves to be seen by the world. [You can dump this paragraph as well.]

The full manuscript is available at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Now that the query is much shorter you have room to tell us the reason behind Angela's secluded life. Right now her father seems like that Austrian guy who imprisoned his daughter as a sex slave in a dungeon for 24 years. If he had a good reason for secluding her (and for not revealing that reason to her), what is it? That seems to be the most intriguing element of the story, and you want to keep it a secret.

If Angela has always wanted to see the world she must have some knowledge about it. Hard to believe she has no idea why she's confined.

Is Jessie there because he knows about Angela? We need to know what's special about her and we need more plot, specifically what happens after she gets out of paradise and what's the danger?

Cartoon 431

Caption: Evil Editor

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Monday, July 20, 2009

New Beginning 664

It was a gully in the forest, far from the city but not far form the rail lines and highway between cities. Rains had come and washed away topsoil and a hiker now in custody had happened upon the find.

Now, wooden pegs and string made ten by ten blocks of the whole area. A couple experts dug through the soil, sifting carefully for anything that might be of value. A photographer made certain to record every bone's position /in situ/.

Police in uniform stood guard on the perimeter, making certain everything went forward undisturbed. Not always with success.

“Detective Castillo.”

“No media, Ms Casey.”

“The public want to know...”

“The public probably wants to see you naked, doesn't mean it's going to happen.”

He motioned and four uniformed police officers came up and seized the reporter and her cameraman.

“What am I being arrested for? What's the charge...”

“There's no charge, charges are for people who have rights. We're just holding you until the military gets here. They'll decide what to do.”

"Is it true you found a kilo of cocaine with the body?"

"You already found out about the nose-whiskey? That's it, get that talking pair of tits out of here now!"

"You can hide behind your sexist remarks all you want, sir, but there's no denying the fact that beneath your rough exterior is a sensitive soul waiting for an independent woman like myself to come along and show you how to love again so we can bump into each other while investigating this case--gradually falling in love as we unravel the mystery--until we decide to work as a team and ultimately sleep together before discovering that your ex-partner is the killer in a gripping denouement that requires you to overcome your mistrust of woman in order to save me. Or you can tell me right now if that body was found with Colombian faerie dust."

One of the officers holding Ms. Casey whispered in her ear, “Um, lady...Detective Castillo is gay.”

Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: Matthew

Synopsis 18

Trial By Fire, Volume One of the Everstar Saga

Alexander, who goes by Alex to most people, [That's not important enough for the synopsis. Just call him one or the other.] is a teenage halfling gifted with the ability to manipulate fire, living in the city of Mora at the story's outset. [Those last four words are wasted.] In this context, "halfling" means someone who has parents of two different races. [That sentence isn't needed; the next sentence makes it clear what the word means.] In Alex's case, his father is human while his mother is of the Kenlor, magical woodland tribespeople considered savages by the humans (a la the European viewpoint of the Native Americans). [Also the European viewpoint of current Americans.] Alex's status as a halfling incites persecution from his fellow townspeople, who see him as a disgrace to the town and a possible threat, as halflings are stereotyped as having uncontrollable powers as a result of their parentage. However, Alex is indifferent to their animosity and is even proud of his heritage(s). This pride causes tension with his cousin, Karen, who is also a halfling but hides it to avoid persecution. [This is all set-up. Focus on what happens.] Eventually, their bickering lands them in a situation where they and their family are pursued by a corrupt officer of the Royal Guard who hopes to destroy them. Their flight from the law leads them to seek shelter on a mysterious island with a peacekeeping fraternity called the Knights Telessar. [A peacekeeping organization should be headquartered somewhere violence is likely to break out, not on Fantasy Island.] While staying with them at their training Academy, Alex learns more about his heritage(s) as his parents, in concert with the Knights, prepare him to assume his rightful place not only as a part of Kenlor society, but as a king. [His father is human and his mother is described as "of the Kenlor, magical woodland tribespeople considered savages by the humans." No mention of either parent being royalty, so why is Alex's rightful place king? If humans think Kenlor are savages, why would humans or Kenlor want Alex as their king?] However, he is not without opposition. In his journey toward power and self-realization, Alex must confront not only prejudice and persecution, but betrayal, romantic tension and rivalry, friends ranging from outright crazy to downright buffoonish, the machinations of a corrupt politician, kidnapping, and torture. [You finally get to the stuff we want details about, and you just list it.] Through it all, he learns to think strategically, relate to others, and to use power not out of anger or revenge, but out of a responsibility to protect and defend those placed under his protection.


Drop the last two sentences, which are just lists, divide the rest into three paragraphs, and you'll have a synopsis just brief enough to go in your one-page query letter (though one with too much set-up and not enough plot).

However, what you were trying for is the kind of synopsis that might be requested along with your manuscript. It should be longer than this (how much longer depends on what the recipient wants), paragraphed, and more detailed, especially in plot. It should tell us the main character's story.

"Kenlor" sounds like a coating for frying pans.

Cartoon 430

Caption: Anon.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Synopsis 17

Son of a Legend: The Sablestone, Volume Zero of the Everstar Saga [To be followed by the prequel, Volume Negative One: Son of a Bitch.]

Conleth is a gruff, roguish man who is universally known as The Son of Aerthir Everstar, a great hero of the bygone age. [I tend to think of the "bygone age" as when Beowulf was written, not one generation ago.] Conleth dislikes being known only as the son of his father [Is this guy based on Evil Junior?] and embarks on many "heroic" ventures in order to make a name for himself. With time, these ventures degrade into no more than mercenary work and tyrant-heckling. [Tyrants strike me as the type who don't take heckling well. That plus their access to torture squads may explain why I got zero hits when I Googled "tyrant heckling".] [By tomorrow I should be getting one hit.] Throughout it all, he is accompanied by Imbria, his childhood best friend. The story opens with the two of them completing a mission to dissuade a despotic lord from encroaching on the lands of other nobles. [The poor have Robin Hood fighting for them; the rich have Conleth the Gruff.] Afterward, they flee the country as outlaws and go to Anassia, where they will be safe.

Anassia’s King Zorren then summons them to a banquet in honor of Conleth and his father. At the banquet, Conleth nearly gets into a brawl with a noble named Lord Adarik, disturbing the banquet. [We're halfway into paragraph 2 and our main character finally does something: disturbs some diners. Have you considered writing a book about Aerthir Everstar?] Zorren punishes them by [It takes a lot of gall to punish someone for almost getting into a brawl at a banquet you were staging to honor him.] sending them on a perilous quest to find a beneficent talisman called the Sablestone. Conleth and Imbria find themselves at odds with Adarik, who constantly makes a fool of himself. In the city of Pali, the halfway mark of their journey, Conleth is reunited with his fiancée, Queen Shonda. This causes tension with Imbria, who feels that Conleth mistrusted her by not telling her of the engagement and abandons him. [Imbria's a woman? What else haven't you told us? Is Adarik a chimpanzee?] [Actually, I recommend making Adarik a chimpanzee.]

When Conleth arrives at the mountain pass leading to the stone’s location, Conleth is attacked by two demons. [You got something against pronouns?] After holding his own for a while, he is mysteriously helped by none other than Imbria, who [conveniently] never really left. Once they reach the stone’s resting place, [Resting place usually means grave or cemetery.] all is revealed. Conleth and Imbria were deceived. Adarik is actually a clever sorcerer in Zorren’s service and the Sablestone is in reality a giant dragon egg which he intends to use in a war against Shonda’s empire. [What's he gonna do, egg her castle?] Conleth, Imbria, and some ragtag tribesmen are then engaged in battle against Adarik, his apprentice, Joannavitch [(AKA Janet Evanovitch)], and Zorren's army. They are assisted at the last moment by Queen Shonda, who [conveniently] suspected such treachery. After defeating Adarik [and an entire army], Conleth and the group marches [march] back to Anassia and ousts [oust] King Zorren. [They just march in and oust a king? Oh, right, they've already destroyed the king's army.] As the story ends, Conleth, finally at peace with his father’s legacy, marries Shonda. [No, no, he has to marry Imbria. Trust me.] Just before settling down, he, with help from Imbria, [a mysterious stranger named] Tafar, Shonda, and a mysterious stranger named Gabriel, organize a fraternity called the Knights Telessar to carry on the legacy of Aerthir Everstar.


It's a little strange to have mysterious strangers show up on the last page. It's like you're watching The Wizard of Oz and at the end the exposed fraud wizard has just given the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion their diploma, testimonial and medal, and Dorothy asks for a ride home and the Wizard says, "I'll get to you in a minute, but first I'd like to present Claude the Mannequin with this inscribed pair of tweezers," and you're thinking, Who?

Synopses tend to be boring, but this feels too much like a list of stuff that happens. It would be more interesting if it felt like a story.

For some reason I find the name Conleth annoying. Possibly because it sounds like a normal name being spoken by someone with two speech impediments. I challenge the minions to come up with better names for all of your characters.

Cartoon 429

Caption: Evil Editor

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Beginning 663

Hadde ignored the bitter wind that swept the Great Forest as she scanned the column of raiders passing through the trees ahead. Stronger than the smell of fallen leaves and earth, she could smell their filth and sweat. She smelled something else as well. The scent of rot. The scent of death.

Fifteen of the raiders wore the bright tunics of Kiremi nomads, although they only had four horses, and those half-starved. The Kiremi themselves didn’t look much better. They seemed weary and defeated, not like the last time they had stormed her village. The Wasting is as bad on the plains as it is in the forest, Hadde thought.

Five strangers marched with the Kiremi. Unlike the nomads, they wore bear-skull masks and padded leather aketons and carried javelins and axes instead of bows and sabres. Their long fur cloaks and heavily bearded faces made them look like huge bear-beasts. They looked fiercer than any people she had ever seen. And there was no sense of defeat in the way they carried themselves.

Not only did the Kiremi bring allies, they also brought a captive. She recognized Geros, a young hunter from Fallingbrook. His hands were tied behind his back and his mouth was gagged. Two Kiremi walked beside him. One held a rope tied around his neck.

“The Kiremi are back,” Hadde said as Belor and Calen joined her behind the fallen tree hiding her from view. “They have Geros.”

Belor stood, dropped his axe and waved his hands in the air. "That's it, I'm outta here."

"What are you doing?" Hadde whispered angrily. "Don't screw this up!"

"Sorry, I can't be a part of this. It just doesn't feel right."

"What are you talking about? We evoke the senses, we describe the situation and the scenery, we have military strategy coming into play--"

"Yeah, but . . .don't make me say it."

"Just say it already!"

"Fine . . . this reminds me of Eragon. Oh God, I didn't want to hurt you. Forget I said anything."

"You bastard. You cruel fucking bastard."

Opening: Matt Heppe.....Continuation: Matthew

Cartoon 428

Caption: Stacy/anon.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Face-Lift 655

Guess the Plot

Nother World

1. Whenever some pipsqueak race discovers radio communication, Zack's job is to exterminate them. Otherwise in a few million years the Nargons' TV reception will go straight to hell. Zack backs his truck into orbit over the little blue planet and thinks, Nother world, nother dollar as he releases the gas.

2. Kidnapped during the night by an old man, Annie Watkins is taken to a world where leaves are the size of minivans. Her greatest fear is that the old man has brought her here to do the raking. Or that a bird the size of a building will think she's a worm. It's just a nother day in . . . Nother World.

3. Theft of the letter 'a' has crippled the land of Literaria. With Wordmn, Cptin Book and quwomn out of commission, it's up to the mysterious superhero known as Bibliophile to save the day.

4. The Zap! Splat! computer game is actually a test of speed and cunning designed to identify the team of hotshots who will guard the InterGalaxic ship from hostile aliens. The winners are all in fifth grade so General Benson sends along their geeky teacher, unaware he is actually a spy from Planet Xi93j, where everyone's last name is Nother.

5. Socialite Marilyn Rose Hathaway becomes homeless and reduced to only a fraction of her income when her husband is arrested and convicted of securities fraud. With nowhere to go she just takes off. Her car breaks down in the Appalachians, complete strangers take her in and she falls in love with the rustic sanctity of a whole . . . Nother World.

6. English major Bob Nother realizes his work of literary genius -- Meditations on a Drippy Faucet -- is too good to ever sell. He pens an idiotic screenplay for revenge, starring himself as a mad dentist who takes over the world using a ham radio and trained vultures. Incredibly, Disney picks it up and brings Bob to Hollywood, where he becomes the toast of the town.

Original Version

Annie Watkins is melancholy on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. The impending phone call from her estranged father has her so upset that she wants to disappear for a day. Her mom is no help in the matter, with her constantly cheery demeanor. [Nothing is more annoying than someone who's constantly cheery. We can only comfort ourselves in the knowledge that such people, deep inside, are miserable.] Little does Annie know, that one simple wish to vanish will come true in a terrifying way. In the middle of the night she's kidnapped by an old man and taken to a strange world that shouldn't exist. [Leave out the mom sentence, creating better transition between the surrounding sentences.]

Kendee Woode doesn't mean to cause her trouble, but the human girl holds the key that will lead him to a magical charm. It must be found to keep the Faeries safe from the Fyre King and keep the two worlds separated. [Faeries again? That's three times in three days. Projecting the frequency of Fairie stories in our small sampling over the entire field of fantasy writers, I estimate that the average agent will get about 7000 Faerie stories this week. It's the perfect time to submit that vampire novel no one wanted last week.] Kendee is devastated by his own daughter's disappearance and a horrible betrayal, but he tries earnestly to help Annie adjust to her surroundings regardless of his own trepidations. [She has the key, he has her. Get the magical charm and send her packing. Helping her adjust to Nother World is a waste of valuable time.] In a world where the hawks are as big as buildings [, sharks are the size of cities,] and the leaves are the size of mini-vans, she fears she'll never survive.

At the same time, Kanne Woode unwillingly takes Annie's place among the humans. Creating chaos while she fumbles along feeling like a giant, her ignorance leads her to Sheriff Walker and his jail. With plenty of time on her hands to think, she realizes that maybe she was a fool and the Fyre King doesn't love her at all; why would he ask her to betray her family and poison her King?

[Fyre King: I love you, Kanne; as soon as you betray your family and assassinate your king I shall destroy the Faerie world and--

Kanne: You love me?!!]

After the final battle in Nother World, [Who's battled whom? I don't remember anything about a war.] Annie meets the only Winde Faerie that exists. The only trouble with that is, she died in the battle and that's how they meet. [Whattaya mean, that's how they meet? The Winde Faerie died in the battle, and Annie met her after the battle? Apparently being dead in Nother World is a lot like being alive.] She faces a choice with big consequences; her life as she knew it, or the lives of her new friends. Kendee treated her like she was a daughter to him, minus that whole kidnapping thing. [Okay, okay, I'm a kidnapper. It's not like I'm a serial killer.] It's a feeling she wanted to have with her own father, given the chance.

'Nother World' is the first of an upper middle grade fantasy series of four novels. It has a completed word count of 54,000. I have also completed the next two in the series. [I call them Yet Nother World and Even Nother World, and I'll soon begin work on Christ, Not Nother World.]


I'm not crazy about "Nother World" as the name of this place.

I don't have a clear grasp of the exchange. If a human went to the Faerie world, I would expect her to feel like a giant (as in Gulliver in Lilliput), and if a Faerie went to the human world I would expect her to feel like a bug. Instead it's the other way around. Which means Annie shrinks to Faerie size and Kanne grows to human size when they trade worlds, right? Or do they just inhabit each other's bodies?

What happened with the key and the lucky charm? Does Kendee get the charm? Getting the charm is the main point, and you drop it like a burning snake.

There's too much information that's not important to the main plot, which is: Annie is kidnapped and learns she holds the key to saving the Faerie race. What does she have to do? Why does she have the key? What are the obstacles? Don't tell me she just turns over the "key" and Kendee does all the work. Annie's your star. Focus the camera on her.

If Kanne and the Wind Faerie have nothing to do with saving Faerie, we don't need them. If they do, make it clear how.

Cartoon 427

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Beginning 662 (prologue)

The echoing roar in the chamber died down soon after the final matter of the day was judged. The Mytholos Council ruled that King Lamansa must remove magic from all of the Faeries for eternity. The world had indeed become a place of chaos, and the council was taking proper steps to protect all the master creatures of earth and keep them separate from each other. The King knew the grand conclusion they arrived at was best for all, human and mythos alike, but they would not win this smaller matter as well, he refused. They were insane to think he would give up the power of his race so freely.

He vanished from the chamber to escape the murmurs and glances of the other members, then reappeared, hovering over the Flowerling Fields near his tree. There were no fond goodbyes to say to the council anyway. The petals of the flowers that bathed in the dawn were just beginning to open. He looked down and saw a new Faerie, eyes closed, laying in the shadowy bowl of a black Tulip. What would become of this helpless creature if it had no power to protect itself? He knew in that moment what he would do. He scooped up the newborn and flew away from the field to search out the humans. He would hide the magic where it could never be found.

He slipped into the first house he saw through the partially open window and waited. He knew what he was looking for and he also knew it would take some time to discover that special place in the world of men. The family came and went, acting out family drama with irritating commonality, but the king would not give up. Finally, on the third day of his vigil, the one they called 'Ma' went to the kitchen, yanked open an overstuffed drawer, and desperately ruffled through it, yelling, "I swear I put it in here!"

The faerie king flitted in and placed the enchanted sleeping baby in a thimble.
He smiled with satisfaction, knowing that magic would be safe forever, for nothing was ever found in that black hole of every human household: the junk drawer.

Opening: Aimee.....Continuation: Vivian Whetham

Cartoon 427

Caption: anon.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Face-Lift 654

Guess the Plot

Chasing the Goddess

1. Lady Cynthia Whitmore is the only person who can free the goddess of night from the orb in which she's been imprisoned for a thousand years. But the god of day wants the goddess in the orb, and he's willing to smite Cynthia to stop her.

2. Born into a long line of deities, trainee Goddess Tracey decides that a life of unknowableness and smiting isn't for her. She runs away to follow her dream of becoming a writer, pursued by an assortment of gods, demi-gods, demons, imps, pixies and other supernatural beings sent by the junior God School to bring her back.

3. When the Midvale Book Club and Wiccan Circle miss a syllable in their incantation to the earth mother, the ladies reach the wrong deity and accidentally set loose Shiva, goddess of destruction. Can they appease the goddess before she smites them all?

4. Unaware of the true cause of Harvey Widget's disappearance, his girlfriend Pruddy Jones follows a trail of clues that will ultimately lead her to the supernatural lair of Machina, goddess of the Roboti, a sect of engineers "destined" to replace all humans with unbreakable mechanical puppets. Will Pruddy be their next victim?

5. Former veterinarian Waldo Sullivan discovers the true reason dogs chase cars: religion. Automobiles have all the qualities the ancient Prophecy told canines to expect in the Chosen One, the goddess who would liberate them. But no one takes Waldo seriously. Not even Maddy, the most sympathetic nurse at the asylum.

6. Tired of dating losers Ares and Hephaestus, Aphrodite decides to try her luck on a multi-myth version of The Bachelorette. Will Odin hang himself after she refuses his proposal? Will she sleep with Gilgamesh?

Original Version

(Proper Salutation):

Lady Cynthia Whitmore touched a goddess when she was eleven years old. To Cynthia it was just a pretty orb, but by picking it up, she became the goddess of night’s chosen to free her from the orb, restore her kingdom and to free her people from a curse. [You've lost me. What exactly did she become by picking up the orb? Is there a word missing after "night's," something like "savior" or "lackey"?] [Once Cynthia frees the goddess of night from the orb, why can't the goddess restore her own kingdom and free her people from the curse? Surely she's better equipped to handle this than Cynthia.] But the god of day struggled to capture her and will smite anyone to keep the goddess encased in the tiny prison. [What does the god of day gain by having the goddess of night in an orb? Is it always daytime as long as she's imprisoned?] [Also, smite? Who says smite these days? We do say smitten, but smite and smote are out. Smut, of course, is always in.]

For a thousand years, the goddess’s followers and the fay have waited for Cynthia and watched over her after she found the orb. No one bothered to tell Cynthia of her fate until she was twenty-three. [No one bothered? That makes it sound like there was no reason not to tell her, they just kept letting it slide . . . for twelve years. They wait a thousand years for Cynthia to come along, and then they can't be bothered to tell her who she is?

Fay 1: At last we have the power to free our goddess.

Fay 2: Hey, she's been in the orb a thousand years; another decade won't kill her.]

She discovers that, Marcan, her childhood tutor and current guardian is a fay. Anthony, her mentor at the university is a follower of the goddess [When your mentor at the university tells you he's a follower of a goddess who has been imprisoned in an orb for a thousand years, it's time to slowly back out of the room. And the university.] and Irial, his best friend is another fay who has been watching her from the shadows.

If those secrets were not enough, Cynthia learns of the curse that has plagued Anthony for centuries. A curse that makes him long for her blood, [How can he have been plagued for centuries by a curse that makes him long for Cynthia's blood, when she's only 23?] [What do you mean, "makes him long for her blood"? Does he want to drink it?] made worse by the fact that he’s fallen in love with her. [In the early weeks of a relationship it's always a bit awkward informing your sweetie that you long to drink her blood.] He’s not the only one for Irial has also come to love her in the years he’s been watching her. [They're both smitten.] [It's creepy enough when a fifty-year-old guy chases after a 23-year-old; these guys are centuries old and trying to hook up with one. Aren't there any immortal fay women available?] Marcan worries about keeping the peace between them until they fulfill their mission.

All three men must wrestle with these issues while ensuring Cynthia makes it safely to the goddess’ temple in order to free her. The god of day is on their trail to stop them either by killing Cynthia or taking back the orb. [They've had the power to free the goddess for twelve years. It's their own fault if the god of day stops them now.]

My fantasy novel, Chasing the Goddess, is complete at 118,000 words. This is the first of a trilogy, but can stand on its own.

I have a Masters in Library Science and currently work in an academic library.

Thank you for your time.



Is the orb in the temple? Does the god of day know where the temple is? Why didn't he just go get the orb years (or centuries) ago?

Can't we give the god of day and the goddess of night names? When you read stories about Greek and Norse gods they go by their names, not what they're gods of.

It's almost all setup. The plot, which you gloss over in two sentences, is that Cynthia has a mission to free the goddess, Someone wants to stop her while others want to help her. And if she fails . . . What? What will change once the goddess is free? The world has gotten along without her for a thousand years. Now suddenly she must be released from the orb? Maybe we're better off with the goddess in the orb. Did you ever think of that?

Where does the chasing come in? The goddess is in the orb. The orb is in the temple. It's not like she's on the run.

Start over, give us three sentences of setup and six about the mission and the stakes, and make sure all your sentences are clear.

Friday, July 17, 8:00 PM eastern, 5:00 PM Pacific, MGM-HD Network, Woody Allen's Sleeper, with a great orb scene.