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A blog about why you don't get published. You can also order Evil Editor's books, Why You Don't Get Published, which collects many of the funniest Q & A's along with hilarious excerpts from the Face-Lifts, and Novel Deviations, which collects the best of the New Beginnings.
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1. Face-Lift 1317

Guess the Plot

After the Last Dawn

1. Dawn Dimarconi hates her name. really hates it. And she's going to kill every other Dawn on the planet to prove it.

2. When Jo-Jo finds an ancient book with expositions of black sky spattered with shiny dots, he quests for an answer to the still ball of fire overhead. With a photo of a pink horizon he begins a quest to set the world spinning again.

3. Dawn McBally is terrified - a serial killer in her small town has been targeting only women named Dawn. A quick head count reveals the is the last one. Her dilemma: leave town or legally change her name.

4. Eerie Filmore always seems to fall in love with girls named Dawn. After his fifth heartbreaking break-up, he decides to become a Tibetan Monk.... Just in time for the End of Days.

5. After he journeys to the end of the world where he finds giant crabs and little else, H.G. Wells' nameless time traveler returns to England, and discovers that Weena is alive, but wounded, somewhere in the future wasteland. Now he must search for her . . . beyond the last dawn.

6. On a cold foggy dawn, Gustav Bouilliard wakes up to newspaper headlines, "The End is Nigh!" When night falls, the Earth stands still. One cannot say whether robots were involved.

7. 2012: Martin has bet all his money on the Mayan Prophecy. The odds against the world ending are 1000:2. But being a pessimist, he’s sure he'll win. When an asteroid as big as Europe hits the world and doomsday arrives, Martin is thrilled. Problem is: where is he supposed to collect his bet … After The Last Dawn ?

8. To avoid her royal destiny (marriage at sixteen), Princess Pegi leaves the palace and travels the world with her were-mutt. Which goes well until they encounter the Truthists, who claim to have the Sole Truth, but that's a lie. If she can't escape these idiots, she's seen her last dawn.

9. After the last dawn, the demons will be provoked.
After the last noon, the dragons awaken.
After the last dusk, the dead begin to rise.
Now if only Sue can figure out how to put them back to bed.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor,

Once upon a time, a princess escaped a fairytale marriage and roamed as free as a bird - until she encountered a world where minds are caged. [Dump this. It says nothing that isn't said again later, it's in past tense while the rest of the query is in present, and the fairytale opening gives the impression your book is for young children.]

Pegi prefers books to jewels, saves animals instead of hunting or eating them and dreams of experiencing life outside the palace walls. [How many animals need saving inside the palace walls?] She doesn’t want to marry at sixteen, become a crowned-head and spend her time entertaining other crowned-heads. To escape her royal destiny, she does a deal with an evil fairy.

That entails embracing a puzzling curse [Is embracing a curse the same as being cursed?]– she must roam the world looking for herself and she cannot find herself without losing herself. [She was born at the wrong time. In the 60's people willingly roamed the world trying to find themselves. Without even being cursed.] [A deal usually involves both parties getting something. I don't see what the evil fairy gets from this deal.] 

Life on the road is not quite the adventurous romp of Pegi’s imaginings, what with her tendency to tumble into messes and scrapes; and the infuriating company of Kumo the were-dog, a mutt who can turn into a wolf at need. [I don't think were-dog is the right term. It would have to have "wolf" as part of its name to distinguish it from dogs that can turn into bears or lions. And it needs "dog" as part of its name to distinguish it from humans who turn into wolves. And it needs "were" to distinguish it from anything that doesn't turn into anything. By anagramming were-dog-wolf, I've come up with the perfect term: gwelderwoof.] Still Pegi revels in her newfound-freedom [Hyphen not needed.]  – until she witnesses the Truthists in action. Truthists believe they possess the Sole Truth. [So, her wanderings have either taken her to the Middle East or the Republican convention.] [How long did it take the Truthists to come up with their name?] They want to outlaw magic and hunt magical creatures. [Including gwelderwoofs?] [Or should that be Gwelderwooves?  Hoof becomes hooves, but roof becomes roofs, so it's not cut and dried. This shows how important it is when making up words to settle early on how you'll handle the plural form.] In lands under their control, ‘unacceptable’ books are burnt and ‘incorrect’ ideas are criminalized. [This sounds like Fahrenheit 451, which, coincidentally, happens to be the optimal temperature for roasting gwelderwoof.] 

A failed attempt to save a bookseller turns Pegi and Kumo into fugitives. [In this world it's against the law to fail to save a bookseller.] [Weren't they already fugitives? From the royal court or whatever?] They get stranded in a desert and Kumo begins to succumb to a mysterious illness. Pegi needs to save her beloved were-dog, escape the desert [If only she had a were-camel.]  and fathom how to remain free in a world where thinking is unfree. [Can the Truthists tell what people are thinking?] Unraveling the curse might help, but time is scarcer than water and vultures are hovering in expectation of a rare feast. [To a vulture, fresh gwelderwoof is a delicacy.]

After the Last Dawn is a 96,000 words fantasy novel for young adults.


So the lesson Pegi learns is Be careful what you wish for? Staying home, marrying at sixteen, becoming a crowned-head and spending her time entertaining other crowned-heads would have been better than being stranded in a desert, though I doubt that's your point. Does she do anything to change the world she's found outside the palace? Simply fathoming how to remain free in this world isn't the most impressive of goals. What does she want after she gets out of the desert?

As Pegi was reveling in her freedom until she encountered the Truthists, maybe she should limit her roaming to places where the Truthists aren't. Is Truthism a worldwide religion or a local cult?

What are the terms of the curse? First she must lose herself, and then she must find herself, but what happens if she figures out what that means and succeeds? The curse is ended? It's not clear what ending the curse means, since she was basically cursed to do what she wanted to do.

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2. Face-Lift 1316

Guess the Plot

Some Kind of Eternal

1. Mira is an immortal. She will live forever, as long as she doesn't get killed, contract an illness, or grow old. She travels to the Eternal City in order to escape an age-old curse; otherwise she will die. 

2. A 450-year-old vampire longs to leave Earth and become a god, but to do so he needs a bottle of special blood that is also being sought by Freemasons, Russian billionaires, and a Mayan king's ghost, at least one of whom wants the blood . . . to destroy humanity!

3. When Ninet promised Ramses her eternal love, she didn't mean being mummified alive after he died of the plague. He, unfortunately, did. Now she must escape across the eternally shifting sands with a camel and a cute waterboy (girl). Also, scarabs.

4. New nurse Javad Shah can't understand why Mr. "Bats" Linstall and Mr. "Superman" Chen are tampering with each other's wheelchair brakes and tossing nutrisweet packs at breakfast. As Javad talks to the other residents, he uncovers an old baseball feud that has the entire town in its grip.

5. It's a story as old as the hills, but instead of summarizing the plot I'm just gonna list the characters and their occupations. If you want to know what happens, let me know.

6. Lost in the Okefenokee Swamp, Trent stumbles upon the legendary Fountain of Youth. Now that he has an eternity to do so, he's sure to find his way back to civilization eventually. But can he do so before the alligators get him?

Original Version

Dear Mr. Evil Editor:

Oliver, a 450-year-old vampire, longs to leave Earth and become a god with no need for human blood, while Hugh wishes he could remember his hedonistic past. [You toss out the name Hugh as if we already know who he is. You need to add "Oliver's fellow vampire" or "Oliver's immortal servant," or "really old amnesiac."] Who was the beautiful woman who gave him his ruby necklace over two centuries ago? [If only I could remember who she was so I could finally send her a thank-you card.] [Usually when there are two main characters who are allies, they're working toward the same goal. Becoming a god and remembering who gave him his necklace aren't of the same order of magnitude. It would be like Superman and Batman teaming up because one of them wants to save humanity and the other wants to find his missing sock.]

Together Oliver and Hugh journey deep underground to fight the ghost of a Mayan king, Russian billionaires, ancient vampires, and 33rd degree Freemasons looking for the same bottle of powerful blood. [Putting all that together in a list makes it feel like the book is a comedy. I'd drop the ghost, even if the ghost is the one who wants to destroy humanity. And we don't need to know the freemasons' degree.] [I suspect Oliver and Hugh didn't go underground to fight all these people, as you claim, but because the bottle of blood is there. If so, you can say "racing against" instead of "to fight."]  Each wants the blood for a unique and evil purpose, the worst being the destruction of humanity. [You're only calling that the worst because you're a human.]

Oliver and Hugh vow to find the blood to spare humanity, and transform into gods, [So, Hugh wants to be a god too. Perhaps that should be mentioned earlier instead of telling us he wants to know where he got his necklace.] but saving the lives of the women they love could get in the way. [Who are the women they love? Are they human? If Hugh's necklace woman was  human, it's too late to send her that thank-you card. Why are the women's lives in danger? Are the guys planning to take the women with them when they leave Earth?]

SOME KIND OF ETERNAL is a 73,000-word paranormal novel. The glamorous life of a real German prince I knew a few years ago, [As opposed to a fictional German prince you knew.] Oliver von Anhalt, inspired this book. [Was he a vampire?] The poetry of Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as works of gothic literature from Ann Radcliffe to Elizabeth Kostova have greatly influenced me.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

--The title was inspired by a Sisters of Mercy song, Some Kind of Stranger, which makes me imagine a lonely vampire trying to make friends. I am not that attached to the title and don't mind changing it if asked to do so by a future editor (hopefully).-- [Ninety-nine percent of those told your title was inspired by a song will assume the song is "Some Kind of Wonderful," by Grand Funk Railroad.]


We can do without the necklace, as it's importance to Hugh isn't made clear. 

There's space enough in a query to provide more than five sentences of plot. And if you're low on space, feel free to cut the list of your favorite poets. 

Vampires Oliver and Hugh long to leave Earth and transform into gods; to do so they must drink the blood of Lilith, hidden deep underground centuries ago. But they aren't the only ones after the legendary phial of blood. Other vampires, Freemasons and Russian billionaires are racing to find the powerful elixir, all for their own evil purposes.

That's your setup, and leaves plenty of room to tell us what the plan is, what goes wrong, what will happen if the guys fail, how their girlfriends figure in...

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3. Face-Lift 1316

Guess the Plot

Winter's Queen

1. This years Gay Pride march has a Four Seasons theme...and the competition for the title of Winter's Queen is really heating up.

2. Young, virile King Winter III wants nothing more than to play the field, sampling girls without marrying until he's in his 40's. But he needs an heir. When his friends take him to a drag show in the capital, he suddenly finds himself longing for a very different kind of Queen.

3. The untold story of Snow White's mother, once a foundling child lost in the snow, who rose in power and ruled a kingdom with an icy fist. Also, blue dwarves.

4. Queen Fione hates being depicted as a crone just because winter is considered the end of the year. So she starts a decades-long sulk that results in global warming. The queens of spring, summer, and fall don't care--but it's a good excuse for a tourney.

5. The Winter Prince wants to marry Ariel and then kill his father so he and Ariel can rule for eternity. Ariel, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with this homicidal maniac. Also, enchanted fruit.

6. On a world where the four continents are known as Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring,  Winter's queen is tired of ruling a land that's always so freaking cold. Especially now that most of her subjects have moved to one of the other lands. Can she get to Spring when her only form of transportation is a snowmobile?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk has always known Fae exist; her dad made sure of that, no matter how often the neighbors called him crazy. [Did he make sure of that by proving it, or just by telling her? Parents tell kids Santa Claus exists, but that doesn't ensure they will always believe it. If your father insists zombies exist, you don't believe it until you see one eating brains.] So while being kidnapped comes as a shock, knowing she’s captive to Fae royalty just makes her angry. [Is your point that she wasn't angry about being kidnapped until she realized her kidnapper was Fae royalty?] 

Ariel’s abductor—His Royal Smugness, the Winter Prince Fiachra—embodies everything she fears and hates about the Fae. Eerily handsome and insufferably proud, he sees humans only as objects to use for his desires: in this case, marriage. Ariel is exactly the young, fertile bride Fiachra wants. Her uncommon knowledge of his kind intrigues him, and her instinct to fight him offers a worthy challenge.

Though Fiachra’s courtship grows increasingly abusive, Ariel refuses to be bribed or beaten down. He feeds her enchanted fruit, and she spits it in his face; he proposes with a priceless silver ring, and she drops it in her chamberpot. She even uses the pain of a whipping to fight enchantment. [Not clear what that means.]

Unknown to Ariel, the wedding is only the first stage of a deadly plot. Fiachra’s scheming to murder his father after the ceremony, and seize the throne of the Winter Court with Ariel as his queen. If Ariel can’t escape, she’ll be trapped in Faerie with a patri-regicidal maniac for eternity. But if her attempts push Fiachra’s patience to the breaking point, he just might kill her too. [Does Fuchsia have to marry someone before killing his father? Does he have to seize the throne? Who would have claim to the throne if he doesn't seize it?]

WINTER'S QUEEN is a YA fantasy of 80,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Note from author: With regards to the phrase "bribed or beaten down", it was originally "wooed or subdued". I'm trying to get across the point that abusers like Fiachra can and do display outwardly-nice behavior (eg. Fiachra giving Ariel a ring) as a means of trying to win over or guilt-trip their victims between bouts of more blatantly harmful behavior. Most of the people who have looked over this query so far haven't understood this. If there's a clearer way I can get this across, please advise.  [Starting that "bribed or beaten down" sentence with the word "though" creates a connection I don't see. It suggests that normally the more you abuse someone, the more likely she'll accept bribes. What you probably want to say in the query is that when first his wooing and then his bribery (specifically, if she'll marry him he'll do X) don't work, Fiachra shows his true colors, becoming abusive . . . but still Ariel refuses to give in. In the book he may alternate abuse with kindness and bribes, but we don't want the query getting too complicated. The standard way to win a woman is to be nice, and if she sees through that, bribe her, and if that doesn't work, resort to threatening to kill her.]


What is he bribing her with? Not if you marry me I'll make you queen; she'd get that automatically, right? If you marry me I'll stop abusing you? Or I won't kill your parents? 
I'm not sure I like bribery being part of the equation. Bribery is usually treasure.  I can be abusive or kind, take your pick, seems like the option he would give her.

This is mostly the situation your main character finds herself in. We want to know what she does about it. You could condense this into something like:

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Hawk has been abducted by His Royal Smugness, the Winter Prince Fiachra, who embodies everything she fears and hates about the Fae. Fiachra seeks a young, fertile bride to be his queen--after he murders his father and assumes the throne. But Ariel wants no part of this patri-regicidal maniac, tossing his engagement ring into her chamberpot. 

That leaves plenty of room to tell us what Fiachra does to try to win Ariel (fake kindness, threats, enchantment), how Ariel manages to ward him off, how Ariel plans to make her escape, and what goes wrong. She's your heroine, she has to take action, not just hold out.

0 Comments on Face-Lift 1316 as of 5/18/2016 3:54:00 PM
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4. Feedback Request

The author of the book featured here would like your opinion of this revision of the opening.

Through cracks in the stone, it [What is "it"?] shines like a full moon drenched in blood. [That would take a lot of blood.] [If something is glowing behind cracks, it's more likely to remind you of lightning bolts than a full moon. In fact, if all you see is the light coming through the cracks, it could be a half moon or a sun or a light bulb.] Another strike from my pickaxe exposes the precious crystal. When I pry it loose, it pops out and bounces near the chasm beside the mineshaft.

I dive for the crystal and catch it. I look down. A shiver jolts up my spine, numbing my body with a frozen wave of fear. I’m on the edge of a bottomless pit. [Not crazy about a mineshaft, a chasm and a bottomless pit. Presumably the mineshaft is above, and you came down it to get here, and the chasm is below. And the pit is . . . the chasm?] Helplessly I watch as a chunk of dirt falls until the darkness below consumes it. ["Helplessly" would make more sense if the crystal were falling. He may be helpless to prevent the dirt from falling, but I doubt he cares.]  Regaining control of my body, I squirm back, inch by inch, before sinking into the sand and taking a deep sigh. I hate heights. [I would expect a mine to be mostly rock, not sand, especially not in enough quantity to sink into.] 

I open my hand and find the crystal cradled in my palm. Unlike diamonds that sparkle in the sunlight, it glows with an unnatural brilliance even here in the darkness. [If this guy's experience with diamonds is from mining them, the ones he's seen probably didn't sparkle much more than a standard rock.] We slaves don’t know why our master wants us to collect them, but these crystals are as precious to us as water. 

A forceful tug on my back pulls me up to my feet. It’s my mining partner, RN107. With thick eyebrows and a rigid jaw, he’s got an intimidating face. Like the feathers that fall from a vulture, his hair and beard have faded to a dark gray. [A simile should make something more clear. Hair faded to gray is already clear enough, and even if it weren't, your readers probably haven't seen fallen vulture feathers.]


I'm not sure how much light there is in this mine; you don't want to be describing things you wouldn't see in the darkness. Do they have a light source?

Here's what I would do with this, just to tighten it up:

A blood-red crystal shines through cracks in the mine wall. One more strike from my pickaxe, and it pops out. I dive and grab it . . . and find myself looking into a bottomless chasm. A few pebbles fall, the darkness below consuming them. I squirm back from the edge, inch by inch, then sigh deeply. I hate heights.

I open my hand. The crystal glows with an unnatural brilliance even here in the darkness. We slaves don’t know why our master wants us to collect them, but these crystals are as precious to us as water. 

A forceful tug on my back pulls me to my feet. It’s my partner, RN107. With thick eyebrows and a rigid jaw, he’s got an intimidating face, even now that his hair and beard have faded to gray.

I took out about 70 words; if I took some you need, put them back.

0 Comments on Feedback Request as of 5/17/2016 11:16:00 AM
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5. Feedback Request

You critiqued my query here with Facelift 1304 and then did a feedback request here. I've taken some time away from querying this book to come back with fresh eyes, so hopefully that's improved the query.

Also, as I'm sure some of your commentors will be happy to hear, I have changed the working title of my book.


Eric Ortega doesn't know it yet, but hybrid creatures with magical powers live hidden in his world. The winged Sentinels police the hybrids, keeping them from discovery and protecting the vulnerable. [From the hybrids? Who are the vulnerable, and what do the hybrids want with them?] The Sentinels are after Nikias, a human-wind hybrid who can control the winds and weather and only has a body when he steals one.

When Nikias takes over [possesses? hijacks?] Eric's body, the Sentinels snatch him. Eric wakes up in the Sentinel's [Sentinels'] tower, missing half his memories. The Sentinels failed to trap Nikias. Instead they've got a human who knows too much about their world.

Eric's had enough of this. He wants out, he wants home, and he wants all his memories back, thank you very much. The problem: Nikias imprinted his powers on Eric's mind and body. [Not clear why that's a problem. I wouldn't mind suddenly having the power to control the weather.] The Sentinels tried to erase them and aren't sure if it worked.

It didn't, but Eric's keeping that under wraps. He's less than impressed by these Sentinels. He told them Nikias threatened his family. Just because he doesn't actually remember his family doesn't mean the threat isn't real. [A more effective ending would be telling us what Eric plans to do now that he has Nikias's power. Using it to hunt down Nikias? To destroy all hybrids? To expose the Sentinels? To save the family he doesn't remember? What's his goal?] 

Complete at 66,000 words, THE STORM SUMMONER is an upper middle grade contemporary fantasy that features diverse characters. [Until you say this is a middle grade book, a reader could easily assume Eric's an adult. Tell us his age when you introduce him.] I hope it will appeal to fans of The Underland ChroniclesMuseum of Thieves, and Savvy.



It's an improvement, but I'm not sure your story doesn't start where your query ends. If you had to summarize the book in one sentence, would it be: When a demon [accidentally?] gives fourteen-year-old Eric Ortega the power to control the weather, he decides to use this gift to . . . ? Finish the sentence. You spend most of the query telling us how Eric got the power he will use to accomplish his goal, but what's his goal? What's at stake? What's his plan?

You don't make it clear that the hybrid creatures are all evil (are they?). Does anyone know the hybrid creatures exist? Do humans know the winged Sentinels exist? Seems like if they fly and have a tower, we'd know about them. What would happen if the Sentinels weren't policing the hybrids? In other words, what is the goal of the hybrids? To take over the world, destroying humanity? To have a country where they can live in peace? To kill random people because it's fun?

I don't think you lose anything by leaving out the Sentinels' wings and leaving out the term "hybrid." The hybrids can just be creatures with magical powers, and Nikias can be a creature who can control the weather. Calling him a human-wind hybrid isn't helping. Maybe you should call them demons if they have the power to possess humans. Then you have a wind demon, a fire demon, a water demon, etc.

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6. Success Stories

The May 13 issue of Entertainment Weekly has a full-page interview with Maggie Stiefvater, which you can read without buying the magazine by going to their website. Stiefvater's YA novel The Raven King, the fourth and final book of her Raven Cycle series, came out two weeks ago.

Kirsten White's YA epic novel And I Darken, the first of a series, comes out next month and is available for preorder now.

Jenna Black's YA horror novel Nightstruck, the first of a series, came out last month.

Each of these authors was a contributor to this blog before being published, and each now has ten or more books in print from major publishers.

0 Comments on Success Stories as of 5/15/2016 9:46:00 AM
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7. New Beginning 1057

I dreamt of earth again. The ground smelled of fresh rain, spring flowers, damp earth, green sprouts, and cool breezes. I could read Shakespeare's sonnets and diplomatic cables, before entertaining foreign ambassadors, and spend my nights in love or at least infatuation with the ones that might be. That life is gone, gone a millennium, countless light years ago. For I am alone and Earth’s ambassador to the stars.

A shadow appeared over my shoulder as I waited for the signal the Aldebaran ambassador would receive me.

“Another report? I can just hear the Secretary of State for Interplanetary Affairs screaming: ‘Who does think he is, Shakespeare? Tell him knock off the hearts and flowers,’ ” Gordon Parvathy the Deputy Associate Director for First Contacts swished his hands in circular motions.

“She’s a Philistine. Her staff assistant can summarize it.” I answered, slamming the cover on my tablet.

“She hates her staff assistant worse than in her words your florid prose.”

“Gillian Twickersham-Bostwick is a hack.” Even to my ears my voice was sharp, cutting, laced with anger. “Karma’s a bitch. She had balls getting appointed Earth’s representative to our interplanetary neighbors when she hates aliens and the Aldebaran alien knows it.” I never let Parvathy see my anger. He raised his hands, indicating he didn’t really care. A stupid, careless gesture.

The diplomatic cable arrowed through the room, a three-inch thick steel snake festooned with Aldebaran prayer flags. I swear they shot those things from harpoon guns.

"!@#$%!" Parvathy reeled back, blood spurting from the place where there used to be a hand. There was a reason I never raised my hands out here in the stars. I like my body parts where they belong. Mainly, with the hemoglobin inside. 

"Karma's a bitch," I repeated, wondering if that in his ears constituted florid prose.

We didn't have any earth to bury him in. But I sent hearts, flowers, and what the heck, a few green sprouts. It's just me and the sonnets now. 

Opening: Dave Fragments.....Continuation: Anon

0 Comments on New Beginning 1057 as of 5/13/2016 9:38:00 AM
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8. It's National Limerick Day . . .

and since no one submits anything anymore, I may as well repeat this query critique from about nine years ago.

Guess the Plot

Limorek Ironwood and the Sacred Crown

1. When Lim saw Jesus's thorny crown,
On a museum shelf he took it down.
He mistook it for grass,
Tried to smoke it, alas,
He burned the whole place to the ground.

2. King Ben felt his crown was too dim.
So he called in a young squire named Lim.
Then Lim and his team
Found a crown that did gleam.
Sir Lancelot had nothing on him.

3. A young man named Limorek Ironwood
Tried to roar just as loud as a lion could.
But the king of beasts roars,
While Lim sounded more
Like a porpoise or dolphin that's dying would.

4. Limorek was always impressed
With his dentist, who he thought was the best.
But when the oral surgeon
Sacrificed a virgin
Before Lim's root canal, he reassessed.

5. At Toadflax Magic School, London town,
It takes two years to earn cap and gown.
While his classmates took tests,
Lim embarked on a quest:
The seduction of sexy Ms. Crown.

6. "Ironwood," said she, "you're a prat.
To bed me, you must wear this 'hat.'"
"But it keeps falling off!"
"Ah," the damsel did scoff,
"Viagra will take care of that!"

Original Version


What's an aspiring knight without a quest? Squire Limorek,[Limorek? Isn't that what happened to Princess Di?]between squirees at the moment, couldn't be happier when his king sends him to help find the Sacred Crown. That King Ben only wants the Crown for profit, and to prove to that meddlesome King Arthur that his knights are just as good as those upstarts Galahad and Lancelot, doesn't much phase 14-year-old Limorek. [Unusual for a king to confide his motives to a 14-year-old squire.] It's a real quest, after all! And quests themselves always seem to be magnets for other adventures.

Lim, though, is more than a mite miffed that he somehow winds up with a ragtag group of companions: The stubborn mule of a centaur constantly complaining about his age and grumbling about how magic is always the first to go. The timid princess with unrequited feelings for Lim who runs away from home to escape an abusive father. The young rebel maid, rescued from a dungeon, whose general brashness and idealism disarm the boy's good sense faster than he can say "infatuation." [It's like Lord of the Rings, but with some babes along.] And the young dragonling who, after a near-fatal misunderstanding in the forest between his mother and Limorek, joins the quest as a sort of "studies abroad" outing. [Somehow he ends up with this ragtag group? I assume they didn't emerge from a dimensional warp. Is it like Dorothy coming across the scarecrow and then the tin man, etc.?]
But what quest comes without peril? This one, this one, and this one.

Tracking the group are two relentless knights, sent by the princess' father to bring her back to court -- at any cost.

To put the jewel on the tiara, when the Sacred Crown is found, it isn't quite as advertised. [Too clever for your own good. Makes the reader think there's a jewel that needs to be put on the sacred crown, thus authenticating its . . . authenticity. Stick with the more mundane: To make matters worse; As fate would have it; Alas; To top it all off; To put the icing on the cake . . . Occasionally a cliché is . . . just what the doctor ordered.] And the consequences of that discovery, of the princess' actions and of the rebel maid's earlier escape from her prison must all be faced before this quest can truly be counted done.

LIMOREK IRONWOOD AND THE SACRED CROWN, complete at 53,000 words, is the first in an older-middle-grade limited series that combines action, humor, fantasy and old-fashioned chivalry to tell the adventures of a young squire working his way toward knighthood in the days of King Arthur.

Thank you for considering LIMOREK IRONWOOD AND THE SACRED CROWN for review.

Kind regards,

This isn't bad, but it raises some questions you might briefly clear up. Did King Ben send Limorek out with some knights? Or by himself? If the former, why isn't he with them? If the latter, how will Lim finding the crown prove that Ben's knights are in a league with Arthur's?

In order to be a princess, as I understand it, you must be the daughter of the king/queen, or marry the son of the king/queen. Your princess--is she the daughter of King Ben, or the wife of the king's son? If the former, I assume you would have said so. If the latter, why is she living with her abusive father, rather than with the prince? Is she the daughter of some other king? If so, just how many kings arethere, and what are they the kings of?

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9. Face-Lift 1315

Guess the Plot

The King and the Mount

1. King Robert loves his horses. Some of them he loves a little too much.

2. The King of the Horses is an important and regal king. Yet he is lacking in one important thing, a mount. Follow this stallion in his quest to find a mount worthy of his royal equine nature. 

3. Mt. Mik-Mak-Malady has been the choosing grounds for the dwarves of Granicrag for over three millennia. But, when Prince Salmi tries to take the throne, there are three problems: 1) he's not a dwarf, 2) the old king's only mostly dead, 3) the spirit of the mountain wants its minerals back. 

4. The king wanted a horse and traded his kingdom away for it. Now his new mount will take him on an extraordinary journey that will make him rue the day he uttered the words "my kingdom for a horse."

5. An evil king out to destroy the world. A boy who's never been away from his home on the side of a mountain, and whose only talent is whittling. Can the boy whittle a weapon capable of bringing down the king and his army in time to save us all?

6. Elvis enters his horse Blue Suede in the Kentucky Derby, planning to watch the race from Colonel Parker's box. When Blue Suede's jockey comes down with measles, can the King take the reins and ride his mount to victory in the run for the roses?

Original Version

Attn. Evil Editor:

I am seeking representation of my fantasy/adventure novel, The King and the Mount: The Missing Traveller.

Alister never thought his name would be significant enough to earn a place in the histories, but now it looks like the fate of the Union rests in his hands.

In the Union, a civilisation perched on the side of a mountain, [I tend to think of a civilization as encompassing a wider expanse of land than the side of a mountain.]  a travelling merchant has gone missing. His cryptic message to Alister, a young whittler, leads the boy [How old is this boy? Knowing whether he's seven or fourteen would be more helpful than knowing he whittles.] on a journey across the Union to find him. Along the way, he realises the merchant's disappearance is far from the most important matter at hand, because the message tells of a world-ending plot. [If I'm sending a message warning that the world is in danger of ending, I'm 1. not making it cryptic, and 2. sending it to someone with a better chance of saving us than a boy whose chief claim to fame is that he whittles. Just saying.]

For all the years Hawk, the travelling merchant, told Alister about the cities around the Union, he never imagined he'd have the courage to leave his home and explore them. [If these cities are all on the same mountainside, Alister could probably walk to the closest one in an hour. Does that really take great courage?] But when he commits a horrible deed, [He whittles an image of Mohammed.] Alister has no choice but to run away. [First you said Alister embarked on his journey to search for Hawk. Now you say he's on the run because he has no choice.]

His guilt and grief might have overwhelmed him [Guilt and grief over the horrible deed? What, specifically, did he do?] if not for Hawk's message, which instead stacks [places] the burden of the Union's future on his shoulders. He finds himself up against Baudouin, the unnervingly charismatic king responsible for Hawk's disappearance. The king has a history of great evils, and plans to regain his "rightful" reign over the Union, at any cost. [What is he the king of, currently?]

Any hope of ending Baudouin's plot lies with Hawk. On his way to find the missing merchant, Alister uncovers the mysteries of the Hawk's past, ["The" Hawk makes him sound like a superhero.] participates in an illegal glider race, accepts the help of people throughout the Union with questionable backgrounds, and finds himself wondering how far he should be willing to go to stop the ambitious king.

With a level of fantasy and adventure akin to The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan, The King and the Mount is aimed at teenage fantasy readers, but could also be enjoyed by young adults. [Young adults are teenagers.]

Thanks for your time and consideration. The full manuscript is complete at 119500 words and is available upon request. As per your submission guidelines, attached are the first two chapters. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,


When I saw the title I assumed the mount was a horse. Apparently others did too. Maybe you should call it a mountain, as you do in the query. Actually, the title sucks either way. I suggest one of the following:
Alister Crowley and the Scelerate King
Enter the Whittler
Saving Proprietor Hawk
Return of the Ranger's Apprentice

Most of these fantasies have one teenager with no skills who has to save the world by himself, which is hard to swallow, so I'm pleased to see that your teenager can whittle and has the assistance of a traveling salesman, if he can find him.

You say the fate of the Union rests in his Alister's hands, but all Alister is doing is looking for Hawk. You also say "Any hope of ending Baudouin's plot lies with Hawk," but Hawk puts the burden of the Union's future on Alister's shoulders. It's not clear from the query what the merchant or the whittler can do to save the world. If I had to guess, I'd say Alister plans to swoop in on the glider he whittled out of a pine tree and rescue Hawk, who will then transform into the superhero known as The Hawk, and defeat the king's army with his iron beak.

I recommend you focus on one character and his goal, and provide more specifics. For instance, what's the name of the mountain, what's the horrible deed, what is Baudouin's plot, how did the king become not the king in the first place, what does the cryptic message say, what's the biggest mystery of Hawk's past, how is the burden of the Union's future on Alister, why is glider racing illegal, what is the plan, and what is Alister's super power that will allow him to defeat the evil king? (If it's whittling, change his name to The Whittler.)

That reminds me of The Whistler, an old radio mystery series which was adapted into several movies. Which reminds me of an old Smothers Brothers bit. I can't find the full song online, but here's a link to a place where you can listen to the part of the song where Tommy Smothers (as usual) interrupts the song to go off on a tangent. "Lonesome Traveler" is the track.

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10. X

A post from every year of this blog.


The 1st Serial Killers Guess the Plot Quiz

Serial killers pop up frequently in fake plots. And in real plots too, apparently. Six of the following plots were the actual plots of minions' novels. Which ones?

1. When Joe inherits a house from his Aunt Magnolia, he thinks it's his lucky day. But it turns out Aunt Magnolia was a mad serial killer, and the house burns down, so Joe is out of luck--until he's lucky enough to run into attorney Lancelot Fimby.

2. Patricia falls in love with the Earl of Hawksworth. There’s just one problem… he doesn’t know that she is merely a gardener. When he discovers the truth, cruel words fly--until an obsessed serial killer begins stalking Patricia.

3. By day, Guido is the town butcher. By night, he's the serial killer police have dubbed . . . "The Butcher."

4. The Crucifix Killer is back, killing only pale-skinned women. As his victims accrue, business booms in tanning salons across Manhattan.

5. A former police detective comes out of retirement to hunt down the 700-pound serial killer known as "The Brachiosaurus."

6. Five female adult movie director's have been murdered in Tennessee already. Can the Tennessee Serial Killer Unit get the killer before he gets his next victim?

7. A serial killer threads fishing line through the limbs of his victims and makes them "dance." They call him . . . "The Puppeteer."

8. When serial killer "Angel of Death" terrorizes a city, only one superhero has a prayer of stopping the carnage: Sister of Mercy, with her bullet-proof wimple and her Rosary of Doom.

9. When a serial killer nicknamed "The Minotaur" slips up and allows a single syllable of laughter to be recorded on a victim's answering machine, will detective Dan Malone recognize the voice--and overcome his heroin addiction--in time to save the next victim?

10. Serial killer Herbert Hawkins takes his victims on golfing holidays and bludgeons them to death, each with a different club. Can Detective Paris stop him before he goes through his entire bag?

11.The Big Chill meets Friday the 13th, as Josh and his friends gather at the funeral of the latest victim of the sledgehammer serial killer, who always kills the firstborn child of his previous victim.

12. To escape the serial killer who's after her, Annie flees Connecticut for the safest place she can think of: Dead Woman's Pass, the highest point on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu in the Peruvian Andes (approx.13,650 feet). But the killer is one step ahead of her.

Answers below:

Actual plots: 1, 2, 6, 7, 11, 12


Bad Analogies

He couldn't seem to get her out of his system, like a three-cheese pizza during the prune factory strike. --truthteller

It was an old man's kiss, like slabs of wet liver clapped across her lips. --writtenwyrdd

She felt somehow incomplete, like a Rubik's Cube with only the top level solved. --EE

They laughed uncontrollably, like someone had just lit a fart with the Thanksgiving dinner candles. --truthteller

You know how when you're taping up a package to mail it with wide clear packing tape, and the thing that's supposed to keep the end of the roll of tape free fails and now you have to find where the end of the tape is, and you finally do, but then you try to pull it up, and instead of the whole thing coming up, just a little piece comes, so you have to keep pulling little strips up? That's what it was like living with Ernie Greeb. --EE

She was thrilled but it was short lived, like a bride who catches the groom with the maid-of-honor in a bathroom stall at the reception. --stick and move

The streaks of mayonaise around her shriveled lips resembled maggots, eager to assist the process of decay. --ME

Even though it was months since she left, her memory lingered, tantalizing at the edge of his perception, familiar yet vaguely discomforting, like when you sniff your fingers and you can't quite remember where you put them last. --ril

Being 30 pounds overweight and dripping chocolate ice-cream on your yellow blouse then running into a hottie someone you haven't seen in 20 years and pretending you don't remember him and you also pretend to not speak English because it's the only way to save face and later get another chocolate ice-cream because by then it's just what you have to do is like my life. --takoda

Professer Mullen was ecstatic: it was as if he'd been sexually propositioned by Jenni Partick who always sat at the front in his Renaissance Art lectures, only this time he didn't need to break into the Dean's office and hack into the ORBIS system to alter anybody's transcript. --ril

The blood-spattered, purple surgical gloves looked like a character in a Dr. Suess book. --ME

His kiss was so bad that it reminded her of the big, red rubber plunger her father used to use to unplug the toilets--cleaned, sterilized and peppermint-scented, of course. --Dave

He was gone, gone for good, and Lainie's heart was as empty as a gin bottle in a literary agent's bottom drawer. --EE


Improving the Olympics

I've been watching the Olympics, and have come up with a few ways they can be improved.

1. In volleyball, the tall players have an advantage. Thus, I recommend that springboards be installed in the area of the net to aid the shorter players in spiking and blocking.

2. In the men's high bar, the athletes are lifted to the bar by a guy. This is humiliating. It would be more spectacular if they had to pole vault over the high bar and then grab it on the way down, smoothly beginning their routine as they do.

3. No one ever sticks the landing on the gymnastics vault, as they have too much horizontal momentum. Thus, instead of landing on mats they should land on one of those small trampolines--the kind mascots use to dunk basketballs at halftime. This would allow them to spring upward, creating vertical momentum and allowing them to dunk a basketball and land without stepping or hopping.

4. The men's pommel horse tends to be extremely dull, despite the great skill involved, because they just go around and around. I propose that the routine be performed on an actual horse as it gallops around the arena.

5. The swimsuits of the synchronized divers are identical; they should be mirror images, with the design of one on the opposite side as the design of the other, so it looks like one diver is a mirror image of the other. Also, the divers should have to be twins. Actually, it's too easy to synchronize with one other diver. The event should involve eight divers going simultaneously, preferably octuplets.

6. No one actually swims the butterfly, so why is it an event? It should be replaced with the dog paddle. That may sound ridiculous, but it's no more ridiculous than race walking. I mean really, walking? In real life, if you're in a hurry, no matter how fast you can walk you'll be left in the dust of people who have enough sense to run.

7. There's no way of knowing who wins a point in fencing unless you just watch the electronic light come on. Thus the only way the fencing will ever be worth watching is if they use real swords and fight to the death.

8. There should be a coxswain in every scull, even the singles, and the coxswains should all be equipped with those huge drums like in Ben Hur, to help the rowers get the rhythm.

9. Water polo would be much more exciting if the participants were in those bumper boats, like they have at the state fair. I can't believe no one else has thought of that one.

10. Shot put, discus, hammer, javelin . . . they're all the same event, with a different thing to throw. It's like if you went bowling and you had to alternate among a bowling ball, a basketball, a time bomb and a cantaloupe. Just focus on one.


The Zack Martinez Chronicles

In recent months, homicide detective Zack Martinez (created by Khazar-khum) has made dozens of appearances in the Guess the Plot feature. I've chosen a few for your enjoyment.

Ace Homicide Detective Zack Martinez

The letter pinned to the starlet's bikini said only "N." For Zack Martinez, homicide detective, this meant two things: those first thirteen murders were related, and he'd better stop off for take-home BBQ at Nairobi Bob's.

When the letters U and I turn up missing from alphabet soup cans at crime scenes, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: he's on the trail of a kleptomaniac serial killer who was traumatized by a childhood word guessing game; and he'd better remember to pick up his wife's Andy Warhol comforter from Hang's Dry Cleaning.

When the partially eaten body of celebrity photographer Marc Austin is discovered in Griffith Park, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: the cougars who stalked the handsome Austin aren't the type with fangs and claws; and he'd better not forget his son's birthday at the zoo on Wednesday.

When homicide Detective Zack Martinez is summoned to the Gem City, a huge wholesale jewelry building, he knows two things: he'll run into his ex-wife at her boutique, and he'd better bring his new wife some earrings.

When Carl Saperstein, owner of top 3-year-old Fortune's Fool, is shot dead outside his store in LA's Garment District, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: finding the perp is a long shot, and he'd better bring his new wife some of that silk dupioni.

When the body of fashion guru Roberto Garibaldi is discovered in his plush Beverly Hills home, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: Garibaldi didn't sever his own carotid artery with pinking shears, and he'd better get his wife a new pair of scissors to replace the ones he wrecked gutting fish last weekend.

When the plush velvet curtains of the Pantages part to reveal the corpse of actress Dame Catherine Holt lying in a gory heap, LA homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: he's going to be pulling serious overtime, and he'd better get his new wife orchestra seating to "Wicked" to make up for this fiasco.


The 1st Annual Evil Editor Charity Auction

After seeing how successful the Brenda Novak Auction is, I've decided to have my own auction. I'm starting small, but if this takes off, I'll have more items next year.

EE in Oil.

Self-portrait. As good as the crap you see in places like the Louvre. By the time your kids inherit it, it'll be worth twenty million.Current Bid: $220,000
Minimum Bid: $230,000
Reserve not met.

An Evaluation of your First Paragraph

by Agent Hannah Rogers. Does not guarantee representation.

Current Bid: $950
Minimum Bid: $1,000
Reserve met.

The Lindbergh Baby

I've had this fellow in my cellar since 1932. He's really become a drain on me, so maybe someone else can take on the responsibility.

Current Bid: $48,000
Minimum Bid: $50,000
Reserve not met.

Evil Editor's "Throne"

It's like giving up an old friend. I've spent so much time sitting here my ass has worn an impression into the seat. Autographed.
Current Bid: $1140
Minimum Bid: $1240
Reserve not met.

The Gulf of Mexico

I shoulda dumped this a while back. It's a fixer-upper, so you can probably get it dirt cheap.Current Bid: $8,000
Minimum Bid: $9,000
Reserve met.

Frozen Foot of a Hobo

Right foot.Current Bid: $20
Minimum Bid: $25
Reserve met.

Everything in Evil Editor's Attic Storage Room

Winning bidder will need to bring a truck, boxes and a few workers. Contents of room includes half ton of unopened slush.

Current Bid: $209
Minimum Bid: $219
Reserve met.

An Evaluation of Your First Sentence

by Evil Editor. More manuscripts get rejected after the first sentence than any other sentence. Find out why no one has ever seen your second sentence.

Current Bid: $800
Minimum Bid: $850
Reserve met.


Evil Editor in Art

Back before they invented photography, one could preserve one's likeness for posterity only by hiring da Vinci or some other artist to paint one's portrait.

Today, when every Tom Dick and Harry is suddenly a member of the paparazzi, and thus at least tangentially a murderer of Princess Diana, an artist's rendering is once again the classiest means of showing the world what they long to see, namely celebrities such as Evil Editor.

Evil Editor has been the subject of numerous artists' works in the past, including, but not limited to the following:

Self portrait in oils, now hanging in EE's gallery

Evil Dad, by Evil Jr., created for the Ocuritz pince-nez advertising campaign

Evil Editor, by Anthony B, created for the 2nd Blogiversary celebration, 2008

And the latest additions to this pantheon of pulchritude (and I say this hoping it makes sense, as I have no idea what "pulchritude" means, having used it only for its alliterative qualities):

EE at Work, by James Catlett

EE at Play, also by James Catlett

Evil Editor Teaches School cover art by Olga Stomatiou)

Clicking on individual paintings may result in enlargement. Contact the artists for prices on originals or prints. Evil Editor not responsible for marital discord resulting from the hanging of his portrait anywhere in your home, especially on the bedroom ceiling.


Th 4th Annual Evie Awards

The Academy Award show has barely gotten the best gaffer in a foreign film award out of the way, and the Evies are already complete. This despite the fact that the Oscars shows twenty-second snippets of their films, while the Evies shows the entire films. No wonder more people have watched the Evies than the Oscars three years running.

Best Musical Score
Kevin MacLeod for Bodywash

Best Actor

Evil Editor for Publishing Piracy

Best Actress: 

Hannah Rogers for Agent Query

Best Picture
Right Place, Wrong Time


Wait Staff


The Historian

I'm thinking of starting a new Twitter account. I'll call it The Historian.This is my avatar:

The feed would look like this (click to enlarge):

Ultimately it would be a way to promote my book The History of the World in Tweets. But would anyone buy it? Maybe it's all just a pipe dream, my getting rich by selling a copy to everyone on Twitter.


Hot Babes Holding Evil Editor's Books on Trains

This young woman obviously realizes that the best way to attract a man 
on a train is to flaunt her literary chops. Muttonchops, to be precise.

Never thought the subway was the best place to meet a doctor, 
but this MD wants everyone to know laughter is the best medicine.
Not the best medicine for all diseases. Consult your own physician.
Not recommended for spewers.

Decisions, decisions. EE or a delicious slice of chocolate 
mousse cake. Hey, why not have your cake and eat it too?

Coat casually tossed over her shoulder, favorite reading material on
display to any guy who leans into the aisle to check out her gams. She
boarded alone, but something tells me she won't be getting off alone.


World Poetry Day

What better way to celebrate World Poetry Day than by revisiting a few of the poems Evil Editor has composed to bring culture to his query critiques?


[Are you calling him a rhymester instead of a poet because you think his poems have no literary value? If so, do you feel they have no literary value because they rhyme? Because they include death threats? What makes you an authority on poetry? Here's a little test. One of the following death threat poems has the potential to become a literary classic. Which one?

Death. It cometh to us all,
Bringing grief and sorrow.
And yours will surely cast a pall,
For it's happening tomorrow.

I've got some bad news to impart,
So you'd better sit down, Gina.
I'm planning to rip out your heart,
And feed it to my hyena.

Not as easy as you thought, is it? Show us one of his works so we can judge for ourselves.] 


With images of wolves, dry jerky, and affection that vows, "no matter the land / I will call to you", the poems of "A War Bride" lead the reader to the middle of the forest, where words - and the silence between them - are at their most powerful.

[Sample poem:

Ode to Dry Jerky

Whether at home or land afar,
I will call to you,
O strip of dry meat, 
Salty and lean.
Ostrich, elk or venison, 
Bacon, boar or kangaroo;
All enshroud the buds of taste
But to a poet, just one will do,
And that, of course, is turkey jerky.]


For instance, Xanaduian. If you pronounce it Zan a du ee an it's five syllables, but if you pronounce it Zan a du yen it's four. If I were writing a haiku, I'd go with four syllables. Otherwise it takes up the entire first line. To illustrate, compare these haiku: 

Xanaduian dome
Brings pleasure to Kublai Khan
But not to students.

It describes Rooster Hat Trick,
Whoever that is.

As haiku, they're equally great, but the first one h

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11. Face-Lift 1314

Guess the Plot

A Relic for Roland

1. Roland tries to find the real Holy Grail without getting his face melted. Hilarity ensues.

2. Roland tries to find the magical Scissors of Endor, to cut the Conquistador's Cord.

3. Roland tries to find the Dragon's eye, an ancient ruby that shoots red lightning bolts. 

4. Roland tries to find the Coronet of Arthax, a trumpet made from a unicorn's horn.

5. Roland tries to find the stolen casket containing the relics of Pinedjem II, High Priest of Amun at Thebes.

6. Roland tries to find the astrolabe of Christoff Schissler the Elder, looted from a German museum after WWII.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I am seeking representation for A Relic for Roland, a complete middle Grade high fantasy of 109,000 words which can also work as three books of around 35k. [Also possible are two books of around 55k, five books of around 22k, and one third of a 327k trilogy.] [I'd put this paragraph at the end. It's kind of boring with all the numbers.] [Apropos of nothing, it's interesting that the three numbers are presented three ways, one with digits, one spelled out, and one abbreviated. An obsessively consistent writer would have chosen to write 109,000 words which can also work as 3 books of around 35,000; or one hundred and nine thousand words which can also work as three books of around thirty-five thousand; or 109k words  which can also work as .003k books of around 35k.]  

An entire settlement has been changed into woodland animals by the curse of a powerful sorcerer. [I'm guessing you mean the people who live in the settlement have been changed, and not the place where the people live, which is what I would refer to as the settlement.] Roland Hobbs, now a raccoon, undertakes the quest to find answers at the sorcerer’s tower with the help of his two squirrel friends, Marcus and Sarah. [Trivia Q: What do squirrels and raccoons have in common? A: The most famous example of each is named Rocky.] [Also, little-known fact: the script for the movie Rocky originally called for Rocky Balboa to fight a giant raccoon.]

At the tower, the companions discover their enemy trapped in a magical pool and learn from him that when they cleared the land for their settlement, the spirit of an ancient evil trapped by the roots of the trees was unleashed [Or, more accurately, it was uprooted.]; the dragon Golthag. [I would put "the dragon Golthag" after "the spirit of."] The sorcerer, a good man named Belasur who transformed them all to save their lives, [Perhaps we should call what Belasur did a spell rather than a curse, as his intentions and the result were favorable.] reveals the existence of the Coronet of Arthax, the horn of the famous unicorn of the same name who vanquished Golthag long ago at the cost of his own life. The horn was fashioned by Belasur into a trumpet [Are you sure it shouldn't be called the Cornet of Arthax?] which has the power to reshape reality itself. It is the key to restoring them all to human form. [Them all? What if some of them don't want to change back?] [Once reality has been reshaped, is it still considered reality?] 

Heading south, Roland and friends seek the tribe of the half-giants, [If you Google "How tall is a giant?" the first answer is 84 inches. Which would make a half-giant 42 inches, or 11 inches shorter than Tyrion Lannister.] who removed the relic from the tower to keep it safe. They also join forces with two Sylvians from the undersea country, and journey to the kingdom of Seldavin to prevent the coronet from falling into the hands of evil clerics called the Teterari who have usurped power. [No need to tell us clerics are evil. Fictional clerics are always evil.]

Along the way, Roland learns the ways of magic from the magical mate of the Coronet, a tuning fork named Selatine. [Anagram: Saltine.] The fork reveals to Roland the songs of all natural creation, [Is it a talking tuning fork?]
to teach him how to use the coronet safely, and gift him with magical abilities. He discovers that the half-giants narrowly escaped the clutches of the Teterari and made their way to the ancient crossroads, a fortified battleground of antiquity. Joining the half-giants, he and his friends make their stand against the Teterari armies. [In a battle that historians will call the Tet Offensive.]

With the aid of the Sylvians and war machines of the famous Emrian inventor called the Clockmaker, [His best-known invention: the time bomb.] they are victorious. The companions then return home with the coronet and win the last battle against Golthag’s spirit. With the power to restore themselves available, Roland and the good people of the settlement give it up in order to bring Belasur back to life, [When did he die?] and protect the forest. [We don't need the ending. Stop when the MC is confronted by the decision that will determine the outcome.]


Words that sound similar: Selatine, Sylvians, Seldavin, Belasur. Must have something to do with the third letter being "L". Like in Roland, Relic, and Golthag.

Apparently when you call Roland a raccoon, you mean he's a raccoon with Roland's brain and ability to communicate? Can the forest animals speak?

This is more synopsis than query. We don't need this much information. Here's what we need:

1. Who's the main character, what's his situation when stuff starts happening, what's his goal, what's his plan to achieve the goal? Roland Hobbs, been turned into a raccoon, wants his humanity and settlement back, needs to get the relic that can reshape reality).

2. What's keeping him from his goal, what does he do about it, what goes wrong? The relic's been taken away by dwarfs, he follows them to Seldavin, but the Tetrazzinis are waiting, and they want the relic too. And they have armies.

3. What's at stake? What happens if he succeeds, and what if he fails?

Can't the powerful sorcerer change the animals back to people now that they've left the settlement?

Work all that into about ten sentences. Keep the number of names low. 

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12. Face-Lift 1313

Guess the Plot

The Empire

1. It was a Darth and stormy Knight.... BB-8 reveals little known secrets in his tell-all about the early days of the Empire.

2. There's an Empire. So of course there are Rebels. And there's an asexual main character. But this is totally different from Star Wars, because it has star soldiers instead of storm troopers and instead of Yoda it's Pablo.

3. Business guru Sam Daster works in the mail room of the biggest financial empire in the world. Watch as he works his way up the ladder to the top rung before finding out that there is more to life than ruling an empire. 

4. They're big! They're mean! Tremble before them and don't be late on your taxes! See head goon Schultz for a good paying job with lots of room for advancement! Don't mind the dissidents attacking you, send them to your boss so you can be promoted. 

5. She was the duchess of a duchy in the empire, and he was a prince attending Princeton. If they ever meet, we might actually get some real names.

6. Village idiot Joe Bob trips over a rock, eats some moldy cheese, makes friends with three very strange women . . . and rises up to build the greatest empire the world has ever seen.

7. If he calls you out, you'd best not argue. If he doesn't, stay where you are or advance at your own risk. Later buy him a beer and a dog and maybe, just maybe, he'll treat you right next time. He's called the Empire, and he's blind as a bat. 

8. A funny, soul-stirring look at the trials and travails of being a foot soldier in service with the Byzantine Empire through the ages until its demise in 1453.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Wolf, a teenage soldier of Māori descent, struggles with his asexual identity as he fights to protect the Empire from the Rebels. Their forces are growing stronger, fuelled by every wrongful death at the hands of the Emperor. They have to be stopped, before everything Wolf has ever known is destroyed.

Once a scamp on the streets, and now a star soldier in the Army, Wolf is still as alone as ever. [Meaning he has no friends?] Loyalty to the Empire is crucial, and so he must stand by as all troublemakers are executed, [I'd go with dissidents or agitators or rabble-rousers. The death penalty seems a bit harsh for troublemaking. They'd be executing ten-year-olds.] [Wait, are they executing ten-year-olds?] despite his growing misgivings about the Empire's methods. Questioning orders is not an option.

After discovering a traitor amongst his fellow soldiers, and watching his friend die in a Rebel ambush, [Now he has no friends.] Wolf can't tell who to trust. [The Rebels ambushed and killed my only friend; I can't tell if I should trust them.] One by one, lies, secrets, and betrayals are unveiled. He starts to suspect Pablo, a Training Instructor, of working with the Rebels, but when Wolf reports his suspicions, attention is drawn to him and his sympathy for the scamps. [It never pays to be the whistleblower.] As even his own mind turns against him, Wolf struggles to cope with the responsibility the Emperor has given him. [Teenage soldiers aren't given responsibility by emperors; they're used as cannon fodder.]

The Emperor has a plan to defeat the Rebels. Wolf is forced to make a decision [decide] between listening to his conscience and losing everything he's worked for, or agreeing to set [setting] a trap for the Rebels, using his own people as bait. [He's always been alone, but he has people? Are his people the Māori? The scamps? His fellow soldiers?] This could be their one chance to win the war. [The Empire's one chance or the Rebels' one chance?] But Wolf is no longer sure about what he's fighting for.

Set in a post-apocalyptic New Zealand, [Maybe this should be made clear earlier. I spent the whole query thinking it was set a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.] [You can argue that someone of Māori descent wouldn't have been in another galaxy long ago, but can you be sure the Māori didn't come to Earth from another galaxy, eons ago? No, you can't.] THE EMPIRE is a young adult dystopian novel of 85,000 words featuring a diverse LGBT+ cast. It's a stand-alone book with series potential.

Thanks for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,


This would be better if Wolf were an actual wolf. 

As war rages between the rebels and the Empire, one asexual soldier named Wolf is torn between his conscience and his loyalty to the ruthless emperor. That's about all I'm taking from this because there's a lot of vagueness. Specificity would make it more interesting. What is the emperor's plan to win the war? What lies and secrets and betrayals are unveiled?  What do you mean by his mind turns against him? Did the emperor himself single Wolf out for some crucial responsibility? If so, what is it, and why Wolf? 

Wolf's sexuality obviously plays a part in the book, but unless you show us how, it's not worth mentioning in the query.

Tell us the story with interesting details. Phrases like "before everything Wolf has ever known is destroyed," don't tell us anything, as we don't know what he's known. "Losing everything he's worked for?" I guess that means losing his job, though considering his age, I can't imagine he's had it long.

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13. Synopsis 49

This synopsis came with the query for Alcoholic Angel (Face-Lift 1311). The author may have been under the mistaken impression that including a synopsis eliminated the need to summarize the plot in the query letter. Unfortunately, this also does't summarize the plot, and doesn't meet the definition of a synopsis.


Once or twice upon a time, a book offers sane  solutions for life-threatening ailments.  “Alcoholic Angel and how to find your very own miracle”  draws  from  Asian  wisdom, common sense,   western science,  and miracles to produce  healing outcomes.   Funny quotes are in the m/s because   humor   helps healing.  However the world is seriously  sick, and it’s no laughing matter that  millions of us   are dying  too soon.    Even  presidents and prime ministers don’t   confront   the  horrifying consequences  of  over-eating, alcoholism,  drug addictions.   In terms of  leadership, Pope Francis stands above all.  Broken folks  get  hope from this Pope.
   Tia Crowe, half  an American Indian and  my  “Alcoholic Angel”,   died  at a Portland  OR teaching hospital on 8-30-12   of cirrhosis of the  liver. Death visited  on her  32nd birthday.  Happy birthday, baby.
                            PICK-UP GAMES AT PIRATE CITY       12   
                                                            SEIZURE                 39
                                                      BALL GAME BLUES     44
                                              FOREVER TOGETHER        51
                                                                     Butt Out           57
                                                           Flight of an Angel      61
                                                                  The TEACHER    69
                                                         LIFE AFTER  LIFE      75
                                                         I’M AN ALCOHOLIC     77
                                                   “Evil” Drugs – the Pope     93   
                                                               Mork from Ork       100       
                                             POT HEADS  PREVAIL       113 
                                                HEROIN EPIDEMIC    122
                                            INTIMATE ENEMIES         124
                                                 Alcohol related rape     133
                                           WHY COUPLES  FIGHT     139
                                                               EXERCISE     144
                                                  SITTING DISEASE      154
                                                   Body by Hannah         159
                                                        Dancing Queen        165
                                      SEX QUESTIONS ANSWERED   171
                                                   GIFT OF Balance         1
                                                      ART OF EATING        191
                                                   KEFIR – Gutsy Food     205
                        SUGAR & ARTIFICIAL  sweeteners           210
                                                                SPLENDA           212
                                                 WHY HEARTS ATTACK   228
                                      CANCER Alfredo       231
                                      COFFEE &  TEA       236
                              SALT  &  STROKES         240                                      
                    HEALING A PRESIDENT          258
                                  LOSE WEIGHT          266          
                                             MEDITATION     304                                                                                                                 
                                       DENTAL GONE MENTAL   310
                                      THE  POWER OF CHI      323
                                                   Tai Chi                  333
                                                    Chakras               337            
                                             DRUG STORY           340 
                 DEATH  DOWN MEXICO WAY             350
                MIRACLE GIRLS FROM G-D                 364                           
                            THESE DOCTORS ARE IN        367
                 FINDING  YOUR very Own MIRACLE   379 

The Girlfriend:    “Shane, I am grieving with you. I should have called and talked to her, or been around more. I can spend all day regretting things I shouldn't have done and things I should have.   I will  always have her in my memories. She exuded an energy that was beautiful and contagious. It is a sad thing to see, but with death sometimes your card just comes up when you think it wouldn't,  and sometimes your card doesn't come up when you wish it would.   But there is a reason for everything. I don't understand it;  no one does. I don't want to understand. That's the mystery of life.  Death is a continuation of  the mystery.    – Casey Pitt, Bradenton\

 THE TEACHER: “This caught me by terrible surprise. With the karate, the care and concern for her kids, and reading about her problem, Tia  seemed to be on a healthy road to recovery and healing.  I am heartbroken. My old boss and  friend  from years ago and another life, told me the wisest (and most helpful) words when dealing with my own loss:  "Let no one dictate to you how or how long  you grieve.    Your story is a  loving tribute to the life of a wonderful and beautiful friend and partner;  someone of  tremendously kind, generous, and uplifting energy who departed much too soon.  Words are not worthy when it comes to grief, but two quotes have always stood out to me  as wise and helpful.”
 “Though lovers be lost, love shall not; and death shall have no dominion.”  - Dylan 
  “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.  Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”   - tombstone in Ireland.

            Only a sick society would continue to allow the most  destructive drug of them all to remain legal.     Not just legal but pushed on society at all levels to essentially all ages  via  sponsoring  sports events everywhere.  And this government and this society  sit  back and  do nothing as the carnage of destroyed lives is everywhere.         
                                                     --  Wes Bagby,  Morgantown WV
 THE THERAPIST:    “When I heard about Tia, I felt sad. Alcoholism is alcoholism is alcoholism.   Insidious. Was more help available? Of course, but Shane, alcoholics know what help is available and they know what they're ready to accept or reject. Tia apparently needed your love before she needed to be free of alcohol. Sorry about that,  but for all I know she may have been the wisest of the wise.  For isn't love the greatest gift?   That you loved her the way SHE needed  to be loved was the only Rx that made sense to her.  Apparently, in giving her that, you gave her life.   Tia’s drinking was horrifying, but her life also was wonderful and complex, challenging and joyful.”


I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning
breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle
with each other. Then someone at my side says,
"There, she is gone."
Gone where?
Gone from my sight . . . that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her   diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
 ‘there she is gone!’
There are other eyes  watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .
"Here she comes!"        
And that is dying.           -Henry Van Dyke


A synopsis summarizes the plot. How long it should be depends on the guidelines of whoever has been foolish enough to request it. 

If the book is straight nonfiction, the contents might be included, though the chapter titles would have to be more informative than most of these are to make that useful. In any case, as the query states that this book includes a love story and would make a great movie, it apparently isn't the type of book whose table of contents we need to see.

No idea why you include a poem, especially one by someone other than yourself.

If those quotations are from actual people who wrote to you, rather than fictional characters, they aren't telling us anything about your writing ability.

In fact, pretty much none of this belongs in a synopsis. It's a lot of writing (of which very little may be by the book's author) from which I take away only that your book was inspired by the death of a woman due to alcoholism. You need to tell the story. In your own words.

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14. Editing Country Names

Finally some news from Europe that's neither tragic nor scandalous: The Czech Republic is planning to change their name. Apparently they were annoyed that the Boston Marathon bombers were mistakenly thought by some to be from The Czech Republic, when they were actually from Chechnya, so to avoid future confusion they've decided to call themselves Czechia. Another advantage: changing their name means all their sports fans will have to toss their Czech Republic jerseys and buy new garb.

A name change is certainly warranted, but they seem to have missed the main reason it's warranted, namely: Your country's name starts with the letters Cz. Hello? It's almost as bad as starting it with Vq. (Note: the Cz is pronounced like ch, and the ch is pronounced like k.) If you want us to pronounce your name right, spell it Checkia. If you spell it Czechia we're gonna pronounce it Kizzeecheea. Also, do they have to put accent marks on all their vowels? It takes forever to write a single sentence, which is why their greatest literary work, Metamorphosis, is a novella.

Also, is it really that important to have Check as part of the name? When Burma and Rhodesia and British Honduras changed names, they went with Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Belize. Not Bzurmia Rzodia, and Bzshhndrs.

Here, of the top of my head, are a few better possibilities for the new name:

East Germany
New Chechnya
West Slovakia

I'm sure you can come up with even better names. Which is why I'm starting the Twitter hashtag #SuggestedNewNamesForCzechRepublic. 

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15. Face-Lift 1312

Guess the Plot


1. It's the eternal argument:Which is better, the stuff you grow in the garden, or the stuff you buy from the guy behind the 7-11?

2. If hard-boiled detective Zack Martinez knows two things, they're that "homegrown" could mean zucchini or weed, and which one he'd rather investigate.

3. Self-described "homegrown" chef Louise has secured funding for a new restaurant serving vegetables and herbs from her backyard garden. Now she just has to decide what kind of meat to use. And what to do with her two screaming brats. Hmm.

4. When Gale discovers that her teenage son has been recruited by ISIS as one of their "homegrown" terrorists, she'll do whatever it takes to rescue him. And then she's gonna kill him.

5. Sharie's backyard cloning experiments work perfectly. In no time she has 15 homegrown, cute little children to love and care for. But when the child welfare people stick their noses in, Sharie has no choice but to activate those vampire genes that she spliced in. Hilarity ensues.

6. The zombie apocalypse is here and Joe never believed the signs. Now he has nothing but his own homegrown line of defense to keep back the undead horde. Plus some daises.

7. Millia Funkle has a green thumb. She's the source for hybrids, crossbreeds, and cultivars for every witch in Wigginton County. But, when her rival spreads brain fungus spores through her garden, the man-eating plants gain intelligence and start taking over.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Dalton, an eighteen year old American, has been suffering depression since the death of his father and has come to the attention of on-line ISIS recruiters. He and many others like him worldwide are being radicalized to perform mass casualty attacks against the enemies of the Islamic State. [Look, kid, it's unhealthy to hold all that inside you. You gotta let it out by murdering a few thousand people.]

Aarzam, an ISIS Commander, has set in motion a plan to attack the countries of the International Coalition. He will use Dalton and the other homegrown terrorists to make the West pay for their interference.

When Dalton’s mother, Gale, [Anyone can be named anything, of course, though traditionally Gale is a male and Gail is a female.] uncovers his involvement with the fanatical group, she will turn over heaven and hell  [The phrase as I've heard it is move heaven and earth.] to rescue her son before he does the unthinkable or gets himself killed. [Where is her son?]

I am looking for representation for my thriller, HOMEGROWN, complete at 90K [words].

I have experience with PTSD, multi-agency task forces, criminal investigations, and coroner’s inquests and have drawn on this experience to develop my story. [You might add where you got this experience.]

Thank you for your time and consideration,


It's well-written, but most of it is describing a situation, not telling us what your characters actually do. The story we care about begins when Gale finds out Dalton's gotten involved with ISIS.

The second paragraph isn't needed, as I can infer all of it from the first paragraph (except Aarzam's name, but he's never mentioned again anyway). And if Gale is the main character, I'd start the query with a slightly tweaked paragraph 3. 

If Dalton is the main character, you might want to focus more on him, as he does nothing in the query except get involved with ISIS. If you consider Gale and Dalton to be sharing the role of main character, I'd focus the query on Gale.

Once you dump some of the setup, you'll have plenty of room to tell us the story: how mom plans to rescue Dalton, what goes wrong, how she deals with that. Does she hire mercenaries and raid an ISIS camp in Syria to rescue Dalton? Is she involved in a criminal investigation and a coroner's inquest? Just saying she will turn over heaven and hell is vague. What does she do? 

Don't forget to include a paragraph explaining why the publisher needn't worry about their home offices being blown up by ISIS.

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16. Face-Lift 1311

Guess the Plot

Alcoholic Angel

1. Lucifer has a problem - he can't hold his nectar. So when God sends him on a mission to Earth, he reckons he'll give beer a go instead. What could go wrong?

2. Another revolt is brewing in heaven. After uncountable years, God’s worker bees are drunk all the time. In a moment of exhaustion, one brave angel gets to the crux of the matter with one pivotal question: WTF? In a fiery, heavenly chorus it was on: God, we’re bored!

3. Michael has a sword. Gabriel has a horn. But Uriel? Nothing special--until he discovers the joys of the Jack Hawkins Whiskey Distillery. Angel's Share indeed!

4. As it turns out, the monkey on Bob's back has wings, plus a halo. Apparently this little angel defeated the little devil that was hanging out before. Now it has to handle both jobs. Perhaps he should go for another round of shots.

5. Never mind the plot. Alcoholic Angel is a great title, and if you can get Michael Douglas and Spike Lee on board, we're talking bestseller, and I only want half the profits. Deal?

6. Alcoholic angel is the newest drug hitting the streets of Kingston Harbor. It's an innocuous powder until mixed with a bit of demon rum. Users gain the ability to work miracles for 24 hours, and then they go to heaven or hell. It's hard to say since they don't come back from the dead.

7. Who the hell are you to judge? The Big guy expects us angles to watch over your sorry asses and all you idjits wanna do is bungie jump, skydive and run with the F***ing Bulls! Natural Selection is what I call it. It would drive anyone to F***ing drink!

8. When indy band Alcoholic Angel get their first number 1 hit, they are not as delighted as you'd expect. Sallyella diLorenzo performed and released it- without their permission. Sallyella, ex-girlfriend of bass guitarist Rick, and daughter of mafia boss Franco diLorenzo, a fellow who doesn't like his daughter's heart getting broken or pesky lawsuits. Fun ensues as the band finds ways to evade his heavies and their knee-capping ways.

Original Version


When you drink rum over ice,
it can give you liver failure.
When you drink whiskey over ice,
it can give you heart problems.
When you drink gin over ice,
it can give you brain problems.
When mixed with vodka, it makes you giggle.

Ice is really bad for us.
– Hangover school

[Old jokes don't get attributed to whomever posts them on the Internet.] 

Hi Hannah, 4-8-16

To restore health, we offer high protein, meatless meals with sides of fluffy baked miracles. Additionally, a healing angel can repair an addictive disorder that’s causing unacceptable health problems. Look over there on the literary ledge of reality. [WTF?] Six dangerous addictions are clinging to folks you love or care about. After her class in alternative lifestyles, your guardian angel will show you how to dodge toxic trouble, and lengthen your life.

Hannah, consider replacing the least profitable part of your day [The part I'm enduring right now, coincidentally.] [So, taking contact information off of the Hannah Rogers, Literary Agent website to stop the influx of queries from those who failed to recognize it as a parody site wasn't enough. Apparently I have to take down Hannah's link to the Evil Editor site as well.] with this potential blockbuster about angels, sports, healing, heroin, drug deaths, alcoholism, the pope, murder and miracles. Without working harder, you could ignite flame that fans itself into well-deserved fame. We confront alcoholism (Bud isn’t for us), processed sugar and salt, sleeping pills, addictive pharmaceuticals. Marketing forays will extend well beyond the bad breath of Uncle Jerry, the angel of death. After clearing airspace over Queens, Jerry won’t bother us because even gutter angels respect miracles from G-d.

Michael Douglas (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) could make a memorable film out of the love story (first 78 pages). In the recesses of his brilliant mind, Spike Lee harbors a special joint for a drug story like ours. Your creative friend in Brooklyn or Beverly Hills may embrace our wondrous angel. Accept a 20% commission for landing a publisher who can compose best sellers from 81,000 readable words. Additionally, help us market “Alcoholic Angel…” and keep half the net income you generate. [If I'm generating it, I should get all of it. You think half the income I generate should go to you?]

Although opposing harmful addictions isn’t in your temperament or on your list, it probably should be. Helping to save this planet takes guts, but there’s also glory. You can do it. This we know.


Sell the book or sell the screenplay. Don't try to do both at once. And don't dictate the terms.

Summarize the plot. If the book includes a love story and would make a good movie, surely it  has a plot?

This is a business letter, not a place to be slick. Read the other 1310 queries on this site. Even the worst of them provide more information about the book than you do.

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17. Face-Lift 1310

Guess the Plot


1. The true, unvarnished, non-whitewashed history of What Cheer, Iowa.

2. By teens and for teens, a compilation of hundreds of tried-and-true answers to your parents' question, "Where are you going."

3. F. Wu Chu High has crowded 1,100 students into a 15-classroom building. So why can't anyone find a date? And if Eunice does anyway, where can they hang out?

4. Trapped in Nowhere, three teens must take on weird creatures like people with their heads on backwards as they try to find their way to . . . Somewhere.

5. Doors always lead somewhere, unless you're talking about the door in Old Lady Morrison’s attic. She warned us to keep away, that it led to nowhere. She wasn’t lying. And now I’m trapped and I can’t find my way back.

6. Once she was a nowhere nobody who had nothing. Then she became a somebody, but still with nothing. Anyways, now she's getting somewhere.

7. Wizard-in-training Max has really screwed up this time: He wrote out the 'Now Here' scroll as "Nowhere". His Inscriptions trainer read it and vanished. It's up to Max and his friends to find her before she's lost forever in the Astral Plane. Also, a talking kestrel.

Original Version

Dear specific agent:

I am seeking representation for my 56,000 word YA novel Nowhere. Think Mazerunner meets Dante’s Inferno. [I'm trying, but all that comes to mind is a crazed Jack Nicholson in a hedge maze, but instead of snow on the ground there are burning coals.]

Guilt-ridden over the death of her three-year-old brother, [Guilt-ridden because she caused it?] a teenage PJ commits suicide. [Of the scores of possibilities Abbreviations.com provides for "PJ," the only one that makes sense in that sentence is "parajumper." Which does suggest how she committed suicide. However, I recommend spelling out the word.] But instead of joining her brother, she wakes in an ice[hyphen]coated cave[comma] cold, wet, and in complete darkness surrounded by lost souls circling beneath the ice. [Less wordy than "ice-coated cave, cold, wet, and in complete darkness" would be "dark ice cave." Also, if you're in complete darkness you wouldn't be able to see what's beneath the ice. And if the souls are beneath the ice, how can they be surrounding her?] [Also, whether she pulls her ripcord or not, a parajumper would land on the Earth's surface, not inside a cave.]

She escapes the ice cave [by cutting her parachute into strips and disguising herself as a mummy.] [She's in the cave, she's out of the cave. Why don't we just skip over the cave?] and meets nerdy, wisecracking Trey. [The fifth circle of hell: bad insult comedians.] As the two awkward teens search for answers and a way out of the creepy world, they grow close surviving backward headed Wanderers [How do they know the Wanderers are backward-headed and not backward-bodied?] and mutated pit guards. [Is there a pit? Are the pit guards keeping people out of the pit or inside the pit? How can a pit be so valuable that it needs guards?] PJ hides the truth of her suicide afraid he [Trey] will judge her and no longer like her. [Her name is PJ? I assume that's a nickname, but what I don't know is whether she got that nickname because she's a parajumper or because she wears pajamas everywhere.] [Possibly you should have said "teenager PJ" instead of "a teenage PJ." Or just called her Pamela Jean.]

Then PJ is abducted by carnivorous cliff guards, [What would happen if no one was guarding the cliff?] [Are carnivorous cliff guards better at guarding cliffs than vegetarian cliff guards?] where she [and] meets hot, quiet Reid in a corral of captives. They escape with Trey’s help [I never thought of a corral as a place a human would need help escaping from.]

and PJ finds herself attracted to both boys, igniting Trey’s jealousy.

As they trek through Nowhere, the three are stalked by the demon of shame and guilt. They must rely on each other to survive it and the other creatures created from human sin intent on destroying them and trapping them forever between life and death. [If you want to trap someone somewhere forever, it's best not to destroy them first.]

When PJ reaches the end of her journey, she is forced to face what she really wants and make her final choice out of Nowhere. [That sentence adds nothing. I'm not even sure what it means.]


I don't get much sense of story here. PJ finds herself in Nowhere, the land between life and death, after committing suicide. That's the setup, but the rest is basically a list of things she encounters as she strives to . . . get Somewhere? Does she have specific goals, like getting to Oz and getting the witch's broomstick, and getting home to Kansas? What makes her think anything the does is getting her closer to reaching her destination, whatever that is? Does she wake up in her bed with Auntie Em standing over her?

Maybe we need more about the love triangle. Is that the main story? How even in death a teenager can't escape boy problems? Or is it a road trip with no known destination, just keep moving and hope we find the exit? Is she searching for her dead brother? What's the glue that holds it all together?

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18. KK reports...

The Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest deadline is approaching. Get your entries in.

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19. New Beginning 1056

Corbin Jones let the back door slam shut as he made his way into the servant’s kitchen of the vast Stately Stately House. “Mornin’ ladies” he called to the two women seated at the table.

Maid Helen grunted at him. “How many times have I told you not to slam that door? It’s bad form!” She sipped her breakfast tea.

“Now, luv, don’t be so hard on him,” said Cook Millie. “He’s just a boy.”

“Boy or not, he needn’t be going around, slamming doors.” Maid Helen snapped her newspaper open.

“Um, Miss Cook?” began Corbin timidly. “Could I maybe have a cuppa?”

“Of course. Help yourself.”

“Thanks. It’s mighty cold out in the stables today.” He let the steam roll over his face. “Oh, by the way, Miss Helen, Lord Stanhope’s body is still in the library.”

“What?” she shouted, dropping her paper with a bit more force than needed. “Lord Luvaduck, those damned Yanks never clean up after themselves!”

“You’d think a murder writer would be more careful with his characters,” sighed Cook Millie.

“Bloody Yanks,” snarled Maid Helen. “Well, I’m not going to clean this one up. He can rot there for all I care.”

And rot it did, along with many many others. The Stately Stately House strike of 2016 was a gruesome, gruesome scene. Bodies on top of bodies piled on top of bodies hacked, slashed, shot, poisoned and punctured by wild, imaginative means, until the Stately Stately House was in danger of becoming the writer in residence’s worst nightmare – a clichécliché

The background characters held fast to their demands of being brought to the fore. But alas, the strike was broken when the brilliant, brilliant writers of Stately Stately House killed off the striking labor with ropes and revolvers, knives and wrenches, lead pipes and candlesticks. Then the brilliant, brilliant writers created newer more eager background characters to clean up the mess and return Stately Stately house to its magnificent magnificence. 

Opening: Khazar-khum.....Continuation: JSF

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20. Face-Lift 1307

Guess the Plot

The Darkening

1. Everything Lizzie thought she knew about love and life is turned on its head when her hairdresser makes a fateful mistake, and she learns that blondes actually don't have more fun.

2. As the Goths sack Rome, the only light is the lurid glare of burning cities. Octavia of Athens is determined to stop the insidious, creeping darkness. She seeks help from Charon, the ferryman of the dead, but will even he be able to stop the coming of... the Dark Ages?

3. With every step it is gloomier.
With every word it is angrier.
With every verse it is obscurer.
Thus comes the darkening to his dance. Never again will his audience be the same.

4. When every human being's shadow comes to life in the form of a monster intent on killing its owner, humanity is eradicated. Except for one guy who has stayed in a basement where light can't get at him. But will he survive when a girl shows up at his shelter . . . and she's glowing?

5. Led by the great Owl and a devious Naked Mole-rat, the nocturnal animals of the world have united in their cause: The Darkening. Only a rag-tag bunch of light-loving outcasts can save the great lightbulb in the sky. 

6. Statewide Cheerleading finals are coming up soon, and the team from Oceanview High has to really up their game if they want a crack at the win. Dayley Nuhes has a great idea: head to Seaside Spa and Salon and get their whole look changed from blonde beachbunnies to dusky daredevils.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

John Piscus’ single memory [Here's a writing tip everyone should know: If you never give a character a name that ends with the letter "s," you won't have to worry about whether the possessive form is created by adding apostrophe s or just apostrophe.] [Also, the only conceivable reason to give a character the silly name "Piscus" is because you're writing a limerick about a discus thrower.] is of the day he saved himself but let his wife and daughter be killed by their shadows.

A catastrophic event eradicated humanity by bringing every human’s shadow into life in the form of a monster intent on killing its owner. [That sounds impossible (because your shadow tends to be lying on the ground while you're standing up), until you realize that your shadow is perfectly positioned to trip you. And once you hit the ground, it has you.] John is one of the few survivors, and has to live in darkness with hardly any memory of his past, driven mad from guilt for saving himself instead of helping his wife and daughter. [Are the few survivors people who were in totally dark places (vampires sleeping in their coffins, for instance) when the catastrophe occurred, and have stayed there? Or are they people who were able to defeat their shadow monsters in combat?]

His survival is jeopardised when an equally amnesiac glowing girl shows up at his shelter begging for help. John’s first instinct is to protect himself from her light by killing her, but she reminds him so much of the daughter he failed. The girl is convinced that enemies are coming for both of them and insists they should leave the basement he’s been using for refuge, [Lemme guess, he doesn't believe her.] and risk the wilderness, even if it means exposure to light. [If humanity has been eradicated, then it's safe to assume shadows are pretty much invincible. Otherwise there'd be more than just a few people who've survived. But if shadows are invincible, how could John have saved his wife and daughter? How is anyone alive?

John is reluctant to trust her until terrifying troopers, [Alliteration makes them seem less terrifying; try "terrifying soldiers" or "fearsome troopers."] who are herding survivors and are unaffected by light, attack and incapacitate him and the girl, and take them to a military facility. [There seem to be a lot of characters, considering that humanity was eradicated.] There, John will learn the truth about his past and how the world ended, and uncover the facility’s true purpose. [They're planning to save mankind by extinguishing the sun.] At the cost [risk?] of dying, John will have to [must] rescue the girl from those in charge of the facility [It's easier to rescue someone being held captive if you aren't also being held captive.] or risk losing [lose] not only the one person he cared for since his family’s demise, but also his [last] chance for atonement. [Better than puzzling over the pretty colors would probably be cutting this paragraph off after "true purpose." I doubt John will really feel that rescuing this girl has atoned for letting his wife and daughter die. Especially if they have no safe place to go if he does manage to rescue her.]

THE DARKENING is a 97,000 word post-apocalyptic horror novel. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed the melancholy mood and tone of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and P. D. James’ The Children of Men. [Not much you can do about real people whose names end in "s."]

I am a bilingual Greek who studied and lived in Scotland for five years. My short stories have appeared in online magazines, including Voluted Tales, Eternal Haunted Summer, and 9 Tales Told in the Dark.

Thank you for your time and consideration


You need a better term than "eradicated"; how about "not eradicated."

Are the shadow monsters solid three-dimension creatures? Do they devour their owners after killing them, or are there seven billion corpses lying around on the planet? Once a shadow monster kills its owner, is it free to go do other stuff?

When you say the troopers are unaffected by light, do you mean they don't have shadows?

Is there an explanation for why only human shadows come to life?

It seems like everyone would be wiped out so fast that there'd be no one alive to alert those who weren't wiped out to stay in the dark.

Possible explanations: 1. The troopers aren't affected because they aren't human. 2. Not everyone is affected because shadows becoming monsters isn't an ongoing phenomenon; if you were in the dark at the time of the catastrophe, you survived and no longer have to worry about your shadow.

Possibly it would help to know what the catastrophic event was and who (if anyone) is behind it.

Most of my comments involve the premise, not the query. The query needs to shine a light on some of the issues I've brought up, instead of keeping us in the dark.  

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21. Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1305 would like your opinion of this revision:

Dear Agent,

When Val is sentenced to death Slim, a [form of execution worse than hanging or the guillotine, one] lowly crystal miner, must escape his master’s fortress to save her. Unfortunately, he serves the Crimson God, a being with unlimited power. A horrible execution awaits all slaves who rebel, [They're all thrown into a vat of Death slime.] but he can’t turn his back on the girl he loves.

With the help of a mysterious slave, [Remove that comma and put it after "death" in the previous paragraph.] who knows more than he should, Slim sets out to gain his freedom. A fifty-foot stone wall surrounds the fortress and Mechanical guards swarm like insects protecting their hive. The rebels have one night and one chance to escape. [Because their fifty-foot ladder will change back into a guitar neck at the stroke of midnight.] [By "the rebels" do you mean Slim and the mysterious slave who knows more than he should? Or is there a full-scale rebellion underway? I'm not sure trying to escape necessarily makes you a rebel.]

On their journey, [Their journey? I take it they managed to get past the fifty-foot wall?] they discover that the precious crystals they mine are the ruminants of a great comet that struck the Earth a long time ago. [Did you mean "great comet" or "great cow farm"? Ruminant: an even-toed ungulate mammal that chews the cud regurgitated from its rumen. The ruminants comprise the cattle, sheep, antelopes, deer, giraffes, and their relatives. Wait, did you mean "remnants"? Maybe you should just say the crystals originated on the comet.] The fallen meteor was so powerful that it gave any individual who touched it superhuman abilities, turning men, like their master, into gods. [If it fell to Earth, it's called a meteorite.] Now that the rebels know his secret the Crimson God means to kill them himself. [As a horrible execution awaits all slaves who rebel, is it really that much worse if the Crimson God kills you himself?] Defeating a legion of mechanical guards seems impossible, but escaping from a master who can wield fire, control minds and turn into a snake is suicide. [Escaping isn't suicide; escaping is incredible. Fantastic. Trying to escape may be suicide, but they already did escape, right? I mean, they've been on a journey since the first sentence of this paragraph.] [Were they on a journey to wherever Val is to rescue her, or did they rescue her from the fortress and now she's on the journey with them?]

Crimson Soul, is a fantasy/young adult manuscript set complete at 90,000-words. I think this story might be a great addition to your literary catalog [I don't think agents have catalogs.] because you have represented novels like... My manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,


Well, it's no longer mostly setup, but I wouldn't call it much of an improvement. It's not a cohesive, organized summary of a story. The goal is to rescue Val, and she isn't mentioned after the first sentence. I'm not sure what it is the slave who knows more than he should knows, or what he does, so he probably doesn't need to be in the query. 

What makes escape possible this one night as compared to any other night?

Is there anyplace where they would be safe from the god with unlimited power? Is there anything that can do to kill the god? If the answers are no, no, it's hopeless. If the answers aren't no, no, tell us what the plan is.

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22. Face-Lift 1308

Guess the Plot


1. Evil Queen Merylan's head goon Schultz wants a vacation. But he's the only guardsman who's survived every hero, champion, and assassin whose come after her. Hijinks ensue when the temp he hires attempts a coup d'etat. 

2. Corey's twin dies at birth, leaving Corey as the sole heir to the magical Huraff kingdom. When dark forces unite to defeat him and steal the throne, Corey's ghost twin is there as his silent invisible defender. But who will protect Corey from his defender when he decides he wants the throne for himself? 

3. What do you do when you're a new superhero in need of a cool name? You go to the Justice League, The Avengers, and even the X-Men to get some advice. But they're all busy with their lame missions, so Ralph is stuck with . . . Defender.

4. Move over Superman and Transformers. There's a new hero in town, one who fights off plaque, tartar and gingivitis. It's Defender toothpaste, available soon after my Kickstarter campaign reaches its goal.

5. When squeaky-clean Public Defender Brett Sarkesian is found dead in the bedroom of notorious Hollywood Madam Linda Cappelli, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, he was shot somewhere else, because there's almost no blood; and two, it's a good thing he's at Cappelli's house on business, because otherwise he'd play Hell trying to explain this one to his wife.

6. When Defense Attorney Amy Sterling is taken to the world of Argonatia, she must defend Prince Cosmos, accused of a heinous crime. How could someone so attractive be guilty? she wonders. And how can she save him when in Argonatia "legal defense" means trial by combat?

7. Caden has always longed for the day he'd be a knight, defending the kingdom from the monsters that wander the countryside. But now that he's sixteen, and old enough to start training, aptitude tests show he's a healer, not a fighter. Well screw that! That's women's work! 

8. The A.I. security system "Defender" reaches the logical conclusion that the only way to protect humanity from itself is to take over the world. In an unexpected twist it turns out it was right, and absolutely nothing goes wrong.

9. In a reckless attempt by insurance companies to rig auto rates, fenders everywhere are disappearing. The insured band together to defend against The De-fender, never seen, only heard as a faint dropping of screws.

10. Varick has defended the keep, the maiden, and his honorable lord. Now if only he could convince them that what he was really doing was attacking them. 

Original Version


Sixteen-year-old Caden believed he'd become a knight, like the legends he adored as a boy. Like all others growing up, he saw half his village killed from [by] predatory creatures wandering the countryside. [Villages get destroyed; villagers get killed.] [Who do you mean by "all others growing up"? Are you saying everyone saw half their village destroyed? Or are you just talking about Caden's village?] The kingdom trains fighters with innate magic then deploys deploy them across the continent, killing the monsters. But the academy tests demonstrate Caden is a healer, a job usually reserved for women and a talent too valuable to risk in combat. [Ah, a world in which women's work is considered more valuable than mens'. Way to cater to the gender of most readers.] 

Determined to correct this joke of fate (he's a boy, dang it--he wants to inflict wounds, not patch them!), he'd risk expulsion [rather] than spend the rest of his life on the sidelines babysitting the careless. [In a world where healers are too valuable to risk in combat and men are expendable, you'd think a male would be proud to achieve the coveted title of healer instead of whining that it's women's work. If tests showed I would make a better elementary school teacher than sewage worker, I wouldn't complain about being transferred.] But the headmasters refuse to hear his appeals. When he tries to join the after-school club for knights, the teacher overpowers and humiliates him. When he defends his dorrmmates' [dormmates'] honor after a prank goes wrong, the school punishes him for fighting.

Then he discovers an underground dueling club. At first, this looks like the way to prove himself, but the club is a pretense [front?] for a cabal thought wiped out after starting a civil war within the kingdom. Their blood rituals summon demoniac [demonic] behemoths, and the duelers have spilled a lot of blood.

But Caden can't link the clues before the monster is summoned. [Clues to what? Which monster?] Now with the school threatened and a second civil war on the horizon, Caden is faced with a choice: follow the path laid out and become an instrument of the kingdom or break free of his destiny and become something more. [If you mean become a highly valuable healer or an expendable knight, it's not clear why he suddenly has this choice. I'm better at blogging than at golf; I'm pretty sure if a war breaks out I won't be invited to join the PGA tour.] [Also, he's an instrument of the kingdom whether he's a knight or a healer. Is he considering a third option?]

DEFENDER is a 91,000 word YA fantasy with series potential. I have been previously published in "Electric Spec", "Stupefying Stories", and received an honorable mention in the 2010 "Writers of the Future" contest. My first novel MERM-8 was published by Musa in Fall 2014.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I don't get the impression that the message of the story is that women are useful too, which Caden learns after choosing knighthood and getting wounded and patched up by a woman. So I don't see the need for "a job usually reserved for women" and "he's a boy, dang it." Can't he want to be a knight just because he always wanted it, without giving him a sexist attitude about it? 

The first two paragraphs are all setup. Condense them to something like:

Sixteen-year-old Caden has always aspired to knighthood, but academy tests have revealed his aptitude lies in healing, not fighting. The last thing this fearsome warrior wants is to spend the rest of his life patching wounds instead of inflicting them.

Then Paragraph 2 is where he joins a dueling club to prove himself, only to find it's a front for a cabal looking to start a civil war within the kingdom. Add something about the clues he finds and what he plans to do about his findings.

Then a paragraph about his choice. Who grants him this choice that he didn't have before? You've made it clear he would choose knight over healer. Does he now see a downside to that choice?

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23. Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1307 would like comments on the revision below:

John Piscus survived the apocalypse, but lost his memories.

Humanity is decimated when a nanotech experiment is accidentally unleashed to [on] the world, which makes [making] light lethal to humans and forces [forcing] the survivors to live in the dark. All John wants is [to] survive the [this] hostile world, but a girl’s arrival at his shelter stirs [disrupts] his near paranoid and self-centred life; she is glowing, and therefore she is a threat to him.

The girl is convinced danger is near. He is reluctant to trust her, until fearsome troopers, who are herding survivors, hunt and eventually incapacitate them both, and bring them to a research facility [teeming with other survivors].

Unlike what he expected, they [Their captors] allow John limited freedom in the facility, though he is closely monitored. However, they take the girl away. John is worried [investigates], and decides to find her. He discovers that those who run the facility are experimenting on the other survivors, in an attempt [hoping] to reverse what happened to the world. And the girl is integral in achieving it [to their efforts]. But he also uncovers the truth about his forgotten past. At the risk of dying, John must [vows to] save the girl, otherwise those in charge will not only end up killing her, but also finish off [before she and] the few [others] who survived the apocalypse [are killed].

THE DARKENING is a 97,000 word post-apocalyptic horror novel, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed the melancholy mood and tone of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and P. D. James’s The Children of Men.

I am a bilingual Greek who studied and lived in Scotland for five years. [Sorry to have marked up the text so much; it's really not that bad considering you've lived most of your life in two countries where they don't speak English.] My short stories have appeared in online magazines, including Voluted Tales, Eternal Haunted Summer, and 9 Tales Told in the Dark.

Thank you for your time and consideration[period]


If the choice is between risking the lives of the survivors in the facility in order to fix the world so survivors everywhere else can handle being exposed to light, and rescuing the survivors in the facility but maintaining the status quo, which will lead to everyone dying, I'm for doing what's best for the many. In other words, the stakes are too high in the wrong direction for us to get behind the hero. Saving humanity takes precedence over saving the girl. Unless she's really good looking.

Also, I still don't get how the people who have yet to be exposed to light know that being exposed to light is lethal. Anyone who works in a radio or TV station would have been exposed to light, so how is word getting out? Perhaps people like the troopers who aren't affected by light are doing it? Even so, most of the limited number of people who haven't been exposed to light yet would probably find it hard to believe a radio announcement telling them they have to stay in the dark or they'll be devoured by a monster.

As you've opened with a one-sentence paragraph in both versions, I'm guessing you read somewhere that this is a good idea. I recommend dumping the first paragraph and just adding John's last name the first time you mention him after that.

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24. Face-Lift 1309

Guess the Plot


1.  45892 00/45 6.66693 88224-00/5 55440092/2 6262/33 7868/3

2. What are the odds of actually getting an agent, anyway?

3.  The FBI thinks her name is Rachel Kent, but she thinks it's Tabitha Smith. They think she's a drug kingpin, but she thinks she's a psychic mutant. The one thing they agree on? Her number. 2350/1.

4. In a dystopian future, the police force has been replaced by droids. Officer J4-V3RT self-destructs when human Valjean shows him mercy.

5. One in a million. One in the hand equals two in the bush. Once is a coincidence, twice is chance, three times is a conspiracy. Vis has always led a life filled with numbers. Now if only he can prevent his family's death from becoming just another number.

6. It's January 2350 when John's girlfriend, Mildred, moves to Montana. He has three months to find a new girl for the junior prom or face the humiliation of going stag. John thinks life can never be worse . . . until his dog, Biff, eats a frog and pukes on the living room carpet.

Original Version

Dear Evil (yet achingly handsome) Editor, [Sold. Will a six-figure advance do?]

A massive explosion at a brand-new super-church kills thousands. [Is a super-church the same as what is commonly called a megachurch?]

One person survives: a young woman, her memory wiped by the bomb-blast and her fingerprints unreadable, likely removed deliberately with sulphuric acid. [What makes them think they weren't removed accidentally by sulfuric acid?] Nobody knows who she is or why she was there -- not even her. [A woman was in a super-church along with thousands of other people, and the FBI can't figure out why? Here's a clue: was it Sunday morning?] [No reason the first sentence should be a separate paragraph.]

Or so she says. 

Officially numbered 2350/1, the FBI suspect she’s called Rachel Kent, [First of all, they suspect she is Rachel Kent. Also, you're saying the FBI is officially numbered 2350/1. I assume you want to say "Officially numbered 2350/1, she’s suspected by the FBI of being Rachel Kent"], a top-level member of D$9, an international drugs cartel embedded deep on the dark net. [Besides the fact that everyone's going to think of Deep Space 9 when they see D$9, theres the fact that no one will know how to pronounce that. Is it pronounced D dollar sign 9? D Dollars 9? Prince learned this the hard way when he changed his name to a symbol and everyone started calling him the artist formerly known as Prince, which was so annoying he went back to Prince. You don't want readers reading D$9 as "The international drug cartel formerly known as the Sinoloa Cartel."] [For that matter, is 2350/1 pronounced 2350 over 1 or 2350 forward slash 1 or 2350 divided by 1? (At first I was pronouncing it as if the slash were silent, but then I realized that sounded the same as 2351, who is a completely different character.) No one wants to read an entire book wondering if they're pronouncing the main character's name correctly.] 2350/1 believes her name is Tabitha Smith and she’s a psychic mutant with no-mind who fires balls of light from her palms. [No need to hyphenate "no-mind."] [Also, if she can fire balls of light from her palms, she should have no trouble proving it if the authorities are skeptical.] Placed under extraordinary rendition and taken to a black site called ‘The Ranch’, Hilary Martinez, a CIA analyst, is tasked to discover the truth. [The truth about whether 2350/1 is a psychic light-ball firing mutant?] [So the FBI has turned the case over to the CIA?] [I'm worried that you mean 2350/1 is placed under extraordinary rendition and taken to the Ranch, though you've said it was Hilary Martinez this was done to.] [Whichever you mean, I recommend not using the term "extraordinary rendition." Just say she's taken to a black site called the Ranch for testing or interrogation or whatever.] [We don't need the name of the CIA analyst.] 

Is 2350/1 a saint, or a psychopath? [Is there any reason to believe she's a saint?] 

And did she destroy a cult, or was she its victim? [If there are thousands of suicide bombers trying to kill one victim, and the "victim" is the only survivor, they've set a new bar for incompetence.] [Also, if cult destroyer and cult victim are the only choices, I think you need to mention the cult sooner than this.] 

“2350/1” is 98,450 words of science fiction, and the first novel in the D$9 series. [Well, if it's science fiction, I guess we can assume she can shoot balls of light from her palms.]


I don't get why the lone survivor of an explosion is suspected of being a drug kingpin named Rachel Kent. I could see suspecting her of being the bomber if she wasn't physically injured. Do they have photographs of Rachel Kent? Dental records? And if that is what they believe, I don't see why they think that's a case for the CIA instead of the DEA.

When one person survives a plane crash they don't zip her off to some black site for experimentation. Do they think 2350/1 survived because of her Supergirl invulnerability or her Invisible Girl force field? 

If 2350/1's memories were wiped, where did she get the idea she was Tabitha Smith?

This is mostly setup. Basically, When the lone survivor of an explosion in a cultist megachurch is found to have had her fingerprints burned off with sulfuric acid, the FBI suspects she's a criminal. Just when they've settled on drug kingpin Rachel Kent as the woman's identity, she starts firing lightballs at them from her palms. They quickly adjust their assessment and declare she's the Scarlet Witch.

That's enough setup, and leaves more room to tell us what happens, preferably showing more of the science fiction aspects.

Also, lay off the one-sentence paragraphs.

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25. The LeBron Twitter Scandal

So the big news in basketball is that LeBron James recently unfollowed the Cleveland Cavaliers on Twitter. His own team. Reminded me of a piece I did three years ago on Twitter Etiquette after tennis player Sloane Stephens said, when discussing Serena Williams in an interview: "She went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter! People think she’s so friendly and she’s so this and she’s so that — no, that’s not reality! You don’t unfollow someone on Twitter!"

And a bit after that came this news report: Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers signed with the Houston Rockets on Friday. [Laker star] Kobe Bryant unfollowed Howard on Twitter shortly thereafter.

What gives? I asked. Twitter didn't even exist eight years ago. This blog has been around longer than Twitter! And yet the Twitter "unfollow" has become the ultimate means by which to dis someone? ("Dis" means disrespect. The word "dis" has been around almost 5 times as long as Twitter.)

In the 19th century, men were men. If someone disrespected you, you challenged him to a duel. You ended his life. Now you unfollow him on Twitter. Yeah, that'll show him. I can imagine LeBron lying in bed in his mansion at night, thinking, That bastard Kevin Love. I gotta think of some way to put him in his place. I know! I'll unfollow him on Twitter. Mwah ha ha!

How movie scenes would differ if they were made today.

Of course unfollowing one of your competitors is one thing. Unfollowing your own team is another. 

Or is it? The way I see it, if you're a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and you need to follow them on Twitter to know what's happening with the team, maybe you should quit sleeping through team meetings. 

I went to @Cavs, the team's Twitter account. It's got tweets like Congratulations to LeBron James, named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the 53rd time. And Tipoff time for tonight's game with Orlando is 8:00.  You think LeBron needs to follow the Cavs on Twitter to find out he won yet another award or what time the game starts? You think he even gives a freaking flock that he won this award a 53rd time? Maybe he cared the first couple times, but by the time it got to number 40, he was like Yeah, toss it in the bin over there with the other ones. 

You think he depends on Twitter to know when the games start? He doesn't. Although I think it would be cool if he showed up late for the next game and his excuse was that he didn't get the tweet because he doesn't follow the Cavs. 

The big question isn't Why did LeBron unfollow the Cavs? It's why did he follow them in the first place?

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