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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. Synopsis 43

Dear Evil Editor,

About a year ago you kindly lambasted a query letter for my YA historical mystery, A SERPENT IN THE GARDEN. The novel and the query have been extensively revised and retitled. New title is BURY THE DEAD: in celebration of the increased body count. I'm pretty happy with the revised query letter, but now I need a 250 word synopsis for a contest. 250 words is so, so tough. Here's what I've got. I look forward to your and your minions' constructive and hilarious criticism.



Sixteen-year-old EVA VON HIRSCHBURG fears she will live and die in her family’s forbidding castle, scorned ["Ostracized" would be a stronger word here.] for sins ["Atrocities" would be a stronger word here.] her parents committed. When a woman is killed at a nearby abbey, leaving behind a newborn baby, Eva is moved by similarities between the victim and her own dead mother. She vows to find the murderer herself and convinces the kind but reluctant BROTHER CLEMENT to help. [Not clear why Clement is in the query, as he's never mentioned again.]

Her investigation is complicated by the arrival of an unexpected suitor, the charismatic LORD FRIDERICH. Drawn to Friderich’s rebellious spirit and the chance to escape her oppressive family, Eva falls in love. [Someone once offered to help me out of a bad situation. I was grateful, but I didn't fall in love with him.]

When a potential witness is stabbed to death, Eva confronts her prime suspect, the cold and arrogant BROTHER KARL. He reveals that the first victim was his sister and she was having an affair with someone in Friderich’s household. [Does that strengthen or weaken Eva's belief that Karl's the killer?] [Is he her prime suspect because he's cold and arrogant, or is there actual evidence against him?]

When Eva approaches ["Confronts" would be a stronger word here.] Friderich, he begs her to relinquish her obsession with the murdered woman before she becomes another victim. [If you don't quit obsessing over that woman, you'll become my . . . er . . . the next victim.] Later, Eva prevents Friderich's friend, RAGENARD, [Anagram: Rodney Dangerfield.] from raping a serving girl. Convinced Ragenard is the murderer, Eva implores Friderich to bring him to trial. [I see she has a new prime suspect.]

When Ragenard is found dead, Eva realizes [that she must come up with yet another prime suspect.] Friderich was the woman’s lover. [Not clear what one has to do with the other. Were Friderich and Ragenard the only possibilities? Why was Ragenard a suspect? Ragenard is described merely as Friderich's friend, not as a member of his household. Is it known that the person having the affair is also involved in the murder?] Ragenard killed her under Friderich's orders [Should I care why Friderich wanted her killed?] [I have a lot of friends, but few who would commit murder, even if I ordered them to.] then attempted to blackmail him. [Surely anyone who's willing to commit murder for you would also give you whatever you want from him without your having to blackmail him.] [What does Friderich want from Ragenard?] Suspecting he intends to kill the baby, [If he wanted the baby dead, wouldn't he have had the mother killed before she gave birth? He had nine months to get rid of both of them at once.] she races to the abbey where Friderich ambushes her. Eva fights for her life. She is losing consciousness when Brother Karl enters. Friderich tries to throw Karl from a window. Eva saves Karl, but Friderich falls to his death.


Notes

What's so oppressive about Eva's family? Her mother's dead and no other family member is mentioned.

Also, it would be cool to live in a forbidding castle.

Let's clear up the Friderich-Ragenard relationship. If one of my friends ordered me to commit murder, he wouldn't be my friend much longer. Unless he was rich.

And if someone is required to take orders from me, I don't need to blackmail him. I'll just order him to give me his money and his nineteen-year-old daughter.

Dropping Clement would be a minor improvement. How about dropping Ragenard? He's taking up a lot of space, but if he's just acting under Fred's orders, leaving him out would let us focus the query on the main villain. And eliminate a few embarrassing questions. Plus, the fewer characters, the less boring. You don't want my mind wandering while I'm reading.


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2. New Beginning 1042


The woman pushed her cup forward on the sidewalk and tucked her bare feet under her blanket. A new swell of commuters spilled out of the underground, blinked in the morning light, and rushed past her. She fixed her eyes on the sidewalk and pulled her shawl forward over her face as a businessman in a Louis Vuitton suit aimed a two Euro coin at her cup. It missed and rolled away to land just out of arm’s reach. The woman ignored it.

At 8.15am a man wearing runners and pushing a buggy slowed to a stop in front of the woman. She lifted her shawl a little and narrowed her eyes. He was young, with bright cheeks and a scar under his left eye.

“I only have two Euro,” the jogger said.

The woman nodded her head. “A croissant only costs one.”

The jogger knelt down to fish around in the storage compartment under his pram. “You said you had something of interest to our organization?” he asked.

“I have the names of ten American agents,” said the woman. “I want three million dollars.”

“We’ll pay two.”

"Deal," the woman said.

The jogger wrestled a large black duffel bag out of the storage compartment, biceps straining against the weight. He tossed it on the sidewalk. "Cash okay?"

She handed him a folded piece of paper and confirmed that the bag was filled with cash. 

He unfolded the paper and looked over the list:

1. Miss Snark
2. Hannah Rogers
3. Kristin Nelson
4. Janet Reid
5. Irene Goodman
6. Donald Maass
7. Erin Niumata
8. Curtis Brown
9. William Morris
10. Jenny Bent

"Hey, just one minute," he said. "Two of these people are the same person." He looked up to find the woman long gone. 

Oh well, he thought, the joke's on her. We were willing to go as high as 2.5 million. 


Opening: Libby.....Continuation: Anonymous

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3. Face-Lift 1252


Guess the Plot

Spy Girl

1. Caught smoking in the girls' bathroom, Karen is threatened with a month of detention--unless she agrees to go undercover by joining the mean girls clique and snitching on them.

2. Fifteen-year-old Sacha is given her first mission as a government agent: infiltrating a prestigious boarding school before America's espionage network is seriously compromised, and bringing down a traitor. If this is what they give her as a sophomore, she can't wait till she's a senior.

3. Eighteen-year-old Juli, a high school senior, is incensed when a boy installs a nanny-cam in the girls' restroom. So she bugs the boys' locker room. The girls are amused to hear the boys talk about them. However, it results in romantic breakups and when Juli tries smoothing things over by putting it on the Internet, the FBI begins investigating child porn at the school.

4. After a plane crash, nine year old Petunia Higginbotham finds herself in the presence of a scythe-wielding man dressed in black, who challenges her to a game. Not particularly good at chess, she chooses I Spy. But, after solving "Black Box" and "Corpse", will she be able to figure out what Death is looking at with his little eye that starts with the letter G?

5. Henderson G. T. Thornbush is a man on a Big Bucks mission, a guy with a dream, a real top player. But life turns sour when he loses his hemorrhoid ointment and only Spy Girl can help him rediscover his mojo.

6. When the body of bestselling author Frank Stevens is found strangled by a lace teddy in the cabin of his yacht, homicide detective Zach Martinez knows two things: One, that really is Frank's teddy; and two--wait!--author of tough guy books like "Die Violently" and "Gun Guts" is the same person as romance writer Norma Macleod?

Original Version

Sacha Knox is a kick-ass, quick-witted fifteen year old who calls it as she sees it. Thanks to her unconventional father, she competes with the boys at her local Krav Maga club, speaks five languages, and can hit any target you dare her to shoot at.

Out of the blue, her father reveals the truth about her unusual upbringing: he is a spy. [It's taking Elizabeth an entire season of The Americans to break it to Paige that her parents are spies. This guy does it out of the blue?] And now, he needs her to become one too.

[Dad: Finished with your Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Canadian homework?

Sacha: All done.

Dad: By the way, I'm a spy. And henceforth, so are you. Ready for your first mission?]

With knee-highs and Bambi eyes, Sacha can infiltrate where no adult agent can go. Add in her sharp mind and fiery attitude, and she might just have what it takes to complete her mission: to stop a rogue agent from selling the top secret identities of ten [American?]agents—a list that begins with[includes] her father’s name.

To succeed, Sacha needs to get close to the traitor’s charming and attractive teenage son at Kingston Preparatory Boarding School – home of tomorrow’s millionaires and [senators?] tomorrow night’s socialites. But Sacha wears jeans, not designer dresses, [Apropos of nothing, nowadays jeans cost more than designer dresses.] and she’s kicked more guys than she’s kissed. And with an interfering school principal and her target's snarky girlfriend getting in the way of her mission, Sacha begins to think her agency trainer might be right – she should stick to being a school girl and leave the spying for [to] the adults. But time is running out, and Sacha is the only option left. Can she pull off her cover, survive the dangerous world of subterfuge, and save her father?

Complete at 55,000 words, Spy Girl is a stand-alone YA novel with the potential to grow into a series. I have worked for the past eight years as a writer and editor of children’s books, with more than 30 books published by [Publisher #1] and [Publisher #2]. This is my first novel.

I believe Spy Girl will appeal to fans of the Veronica Mars and the Gallagher Girls novels, as well as anyone who loves to read about a strong female character juggling life-and-death adventures with being a teenager in high school. A few other agents are also considering this submission. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,


Notes

Not bad. I've designated a few phrases for possible deletion in order to free up space to tell us what Sacha has to do once she gets close to her target. As the list of names could be memorized or could exist in the "cloud," I assume the mission is not simply to steal it. Is she supposed to kill the rogue agent? Bait him into being captured? Kidnap his son for leverage? A bit more specificity about the mission would be nice.

If Sacha has such a sharp mind, how come she buys this story about her father being a spy? Teenagers never believe anything their parents say. Evil Jr. would have laughed me out of the room if I'd claimed to be James Bond.

Do the good guys know where the rogue agent is? I assume not, or they'd swoop in and take him where he'd never be heard from again.

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4. Help wanted

Still need 3 fake plots.

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5. Strip 3.05


Click strip to enlarge.


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6. March Adness, Final Ballot



Interest in March Adness has dwindled with each new round. Thus we're using this ballot (which includes those that won or tied in the Sweet Sixteen) to choose the final 4 ads, and also to rank them. This is the last chance to vote. Choose your four favorites, and rank them in the ballot at the bottom of the post.


Remember to click on ads to enlarge them. Several have fine print.


Lovestruck



Bubbles


Daydreamer


Depression


Croissant


Masters


SalesKid


Pillows


Smile


Breakfast





Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

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7. Feedback Request


It's not like anyone has submitted anything fresh and new lately (hint, hint) so . . .


Dear E.E. and Minions,

I’m back for a sixth go at this.

You all offer very good questions regarding the query. I answer the questions in the story but can’t figure out how to include all this information in a one-page (250-word) query. I’m supposed to hook the agent and make them (you) want to read more. Apparently, the only thing I’m succeeding at is pointing out what isn’t in the query instead of getting you interested in reading the whole story. This is my problem.

I decided to write a synopsis with most of the plot points so you know the whole outline of the story. I’ve included it after the query. As usual, I welcome your comments and criticisms – How else am I going to get a clue? So…Here’s the new version of the query:



Dear E.E. and Minions,

When Shelly Cartwright hires drifter Dustin Leahry to work her West-Texas ranch he has no idea he'll be facing down four gunmen twenty-four hours later. The year is 1885, and Shelly is the county's last holdout against August Benson's land-grabbing scheme. Benson's gunslingers are there to intimidate Shelly into selling . . . or to drive her out by force.

Seeing the determined looks on the gunmen’s faces Dustin realizes things have turned deadly and puts his lightning-fast gun hand to good use disarming them. He’s seen range wars before and knows he should move on but he likes Shelly’s defiant nature.

Shelly partners with a rancher from Pecos to sell a herd of horses in Abilene planning to use her share of the money to buy supplies and hire more men. Shelly takes Dustin and half her crew on the drive, leaving the other half to turn her home into a fortress. During the drive, Dustin and Shelly fall in love.

Meanwhile August Benson moves to San Angelo and takes over, ousting the leaders and appointing his men as the law. Having no one to stop him, he sends his hired hands to wipe out everyone on the Cartwright Ranch. Dustin and Shelly return in time for the fight. The gunmen have the tables turned on them by traps built by the Cartwright crew.

Dustin takes the fight to San Angelo knowing he’s facing a town run by his loved one’s enemy. If he fails, Shelly and her men are dead. If he succeeds, the deaths he causes might make him a wanted man.

Drifter: San Angelo Showdown is approximately 118,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




SYNOPSIS:

Dustin Leahry is a drifter. He’s wondered the west seeking to live the life of his heroes for several years. He’s experienced a lot of adventures.

He ends up outside of San Angelo, Texas working for Shelly Cartwright. Shelly is doing her damnedest to keep her ranch going out of respect to her dead dad.

August Benson has been trying to get possession of the ranch for as long as Shelly can remember. Since her dad’s death, Benson’s increased the pressure on her.

Benson has plans for the San Angelo Valley and all of Texas. He believes he is the only person who can lead Texas to the greatness it’s capable of. He’s angry that Shelly can’t see how a woman is incapable of being a rancher and thinks she should sell the land to him.

Benson has been nice to the girl so far but has reached his limits. He wants to take over all of Tom Greene County and sees Shelly as his last obstacle. Once he controls the County, he plans to start taking over the State of Texas.

Ed Johnas is a gunman and bully. He’s lived around San Angelo for most of his life. He works as Benson’s enforcer.

Shelly can’t believe her dad’s former friend would resort to murdering her and her men despite the fact she thinks he’s evil. She’s had run-ins with Johnas in the past with him making passes at her during town dances. She sees Johnas as a bully but not her killer.

Twenty-four hours after Dustin goes to work for her, Shelly is forced to understand that Benson will kill her and the men left on her ranch. Four hired guns confront Dustin and the other men when they’re fixing fence ruined by Benson’s hands. If not for Dustin, the men she considers family would be dead.

She trusts her “uncles” with her life and knows they will do whatever they can to keep the ranch going. She develops a plan but is afraid of it falling through so she steals away to Abilene hoping to form an alliance with a rancher in Pecos. She has to go to Abilene to send a telegraph because Benson has eyes and ears throughout San Angelo and would learn of her plan to get help.

Dustin along with Lobo, Shelly’s closest “uncle” tracks her to Abilene. In Abilene, Dustin and Shelly become closer. The rancher in Pecos accepts her offer only if she and her men will do the work of driving a herd of horses to Abilene.

Shelly, Dustin, and Lobo return to the ranch where they take half the men to Pecos for the horse drive. Before they leave, Lobo instructs the men staying behind to dig a trench then fill it with cacti and cover it with Yucca fronds as a protective measure against attack.

August Benson determines to take over San Angelo before worrying about Shelly’s ranch. While Shelly and Dustin drive the horses to Abilene, Benson solidifies his hold on the city by confining the City Fathers. Johnas kills the sheriff and Benson appoints his men as the law. During the drive, Shelly and Dustin fall in love.

August Benson elects himself mayor of San Angelo and orders a new mayor’s mansion built. Once the mansion is built, he will finish his business with Shelly by killing her men and forcing her into prostitution.

Benson’s methods of controlling the city create a spilt in his men. Several of them plan to leave when the mansion is finished. Benson discovers the betrayal through his house girl whom he rapes in a fit of anger.

The horse drive is a success and Shelly buys enough supplies to keep the ranch running. Shelly, Dustin and the men return to the ranch as the Mayor’s Mansion is finished in San Angelo.

Since he isn’t well known, Dustin rides into San Angelo so send half the money from the drive to Shelly’s partner in Pecos. Dustin is recognized and captured by men working for Johnas.

Benson sends his men to kill of the Cartwright crew and bring Shelly back to him. The majority of the raiders fall into the trench, making the odds mostly even. Lobo becomes aware the gunmen are trying to capture Shelly and they use that to their advantage to set a final trap for them. Several of Shelly’s men are killed during the fight but they win out.

In San Angelo, Dustin manages to escape from Johnas’ men after being beaten. He returns to the ranch where he’s missed out of the gunfight. He decides he has to take care of Benson. He tells Shelly to leave if he doesn’t return.

The City Fathers are brought together and stage a revolt against their captors. Benson learns of the failure at the Cartwright Ranch which killed most of his men and sees the mob led by the City Fathers heading toward his mansion. He manages to escape the city.

Dustin arrives and confronts Johnas. Johnas is killed and Dustin is injured.

August Benson goes to his ranch to get money he has hidden so he can bribe his way out of any legal troubles from his failed coup of San Angelo. The house girl is there and she and her lover kill Benson.

Dustin rides back to the ranch, knowing his drifting days are over and he is going home.

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8. March Adness, Round 2, Part 2



Eight matches today complete Round 2. 

The eight ads that won their Round 1 matches unanimously have been given the top seeds.

Remember to click on ads to enlarge them. Several have fine print.

Vote in the comments. Voting remains open on Round 2, Parts 1 and 2 through Friday.


Game 9: Roses vs. Decision





Game 10: Severed Head vs. Daydream





Game 11: Sauna vs. Street





Game 12: Lovestruck vs. Epic





Game 13: ePod vs. Bubblebath




Game 14: Depression vs. Game




Game 15: Phone vs. Bedtime




 Game 16: Tall Books vs.  Doctor




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9. March Adness, Sweet Sixteen



Eight matches complete Round 3. 

Remember to click on ads to enlarge them. Several have fine print.

Vote in the comments. Voting remains open through Monday at noon Eastern.


Game 1: Roses vs. Lovestruck






Game 2: Bubblebath vs. Sauna






Game 3: Daydream vs. Phone






Game 4: Depression vs. Croissant






Gamer 5: Doctor vs. Masters







Game 6: Sales vs. Lookback






Game 7: Watch vs. Pillows






Game 8: Look of Love vs Breakfast








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10. March Adness, Round 2, Part 1


Eight matches today, and eight more tomorrow will decide the Sweet Sixteen.

The eight ads that won their Round 1 matches unanimously have been given the top seeds.

Remember to click on ads to enlarge them. Several have fine print.

Vote in the comments.


Game 1: Look of Love vs. Easel





Game 2: Ink vs. Sales





Game 3: Old Masters vs. Great Brit





Game 4: Chronometer vs. Prophylactic






Game 5: Watcher vs. Water






Game 6: Pillows vs Wishbone






Game 7: Joy vs Juice




Game 8: Tattoo vs. Croissant



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11. Feedback Request


Dear E.E. and Minions,

I’m back for another try at this. 

I’d like to make a couple comments before getting to the rewrite.  

First, I stole E.E.’s paragraph. It said what I've been trying to get at too perfectly to allow it to be just an example. Hope you don’t mind E.E.!

Second, it seems I started a debate with the main character names. I have done a lot of research into the time and area the book’s set in. With the year changed to 1885 as E.E. suggested for the first submission, the character names appear even more out of touch with the timeline than the original 1898 setting. I chose the name Dustin because of the link to Irish-American I have for the male MC. Shelly was a man’s name in the 1800’s according to the research I conducted. Does the fact I address this as Shelly’s father planning to name his son Shelly and sticking his daughter with the name alleviate the gender issue? Think along the lines of Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.”

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I have been very focused on developing the hook and totally missing that goal. My hope is E.E.’s paragraph provided the hook and focus for me to get the query closer to what it needs to be. I will keep working on this query as a learning experience even if I never submit the novel to an agent.

Now, I offer up the fifth draft for E.E. and the Minions (Sounds like a heavy metal band):


When drifter Dustin Leahry takes a job working Shelly Cartwright's West-Texas ranch, he has no idea he'll be facing down four gunmen twenty-four hours later. The year is 1885, and Shelly is the county's last holdout against August Benson's land-grabbing scheme. Benson's gunslingers are there to intimidate Shelly into selling . . . or drive her out by force.

When the riders show up, Dustin realizes things have turned deadly and puts his lightning-fast gun hand to good use. He’s seen range wars before and knows he should move on but his feelings for Shelly keep him at her side.

Shelly teams with a rancher who hates August Benson as much as she does. The rancher gives her a herd of horses to drive from Pecos to Abilene. During the drive, Dustin and Shelly’s attraction turns into love. When they get to Abilene, the Cavalry buys the horses and Shelly realizes she can buy supplies there.

Meanwhile, August Benson and his men take over San Angelo. Having no one to stop him, he sends his hired hands to wipe out everyone on the Cartwright Ranch. Dustin and Shelly return in time for the fight. The gunmen have the tables turned on them by traps set by the Cartwright crew.

Dustin takes the fight to San Angelo knowing he’s facing a town owned by his loved one’s enemy. If he fails, Shelly and her men are dead. If he succeeds, the deaths he causes might force him to continue drifting.

Drifter: San Angelo Showdown is approximately 118,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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12. Last Day to Vote


The eight posts beneath this one make up round 1 of March Adness--a tournament to choose the all-time best Evil Editor advertisement.

Voting in all match-ups ends at midnight edt Monday.

Several of the match-ups are currently tied, so your vote could sway the election. Ties at the end of voting will be broken by Evil Editor.

The most one-sided winners will receive the top seeds in round 2.





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13. March Adness Continues


Round 1, Day 8 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them. 


"MISCELLANEOUS" BRACKET (Bottom Half)

Game 29: Street vs. Courier






Game 30: Bedtime vs. Crowd








Game 31: Mammals vs. Depression 





Game 32: Epic vs Marquee




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14. March Adness Continues



Round 1, Day 7 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them. 


"PRODUCTS" BRACKET (Bottom Half)

Game 25: Pillows vs. Water








Game 26:  Easel vs. Ice Cream








Game 27: Medicine vs. Game







Game 28: Watch vs. Pince Nez








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15. March Adness Continues



Round 1, Day 6 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them. 


"BOOKS" BRACKET (Bottom Half)

Game 21: Doctor vs. Sheep







Game 22: Wishbone vs. China






Game 23: Lookback vs. Priest







Game 24: Vendor vs. Tall Books



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16. March Adness Continues


Round 1, Day 5 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them. 


"BLOG" BRACKET (Bottom Half)

Game 17: Phone vs. Infinity








Game 17: Diet vs. Croissant 








Game 17: Breakfast vs. Severed Head





Game 17: Sauna vs. Friends




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17. March Adness Continues


Round 1, Day 4 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them. 


"MISCELLANEOUS" BRACKET (Top Half)

Game 13: Roses vs. Beach





Game 14: Tattoo vs. Cafe





Game 15: Daydream vs. Coaster





Game 16: Welder vs. Juices





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18. March Adness Continues


Round 1, Day 3 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them.



"PRODUCTS" BRACKET (Top Half)

Game 9: Baby EE vs. Fire







Game 10: Chefs vs. Look of Love






Game 11: ePod vs. Eau de Toilet






Game 12:  Ink vs. Spew Shield





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19. Feedback Request



The author of the book featured in
Face-Lift 1182 has submitted a new version:



Okay, so I've done a pretty major revision of this story. I've also written a totally different query, coming at it from another angle. So please let me know what you guys think of this one:


Dear (agent),

Eighteen-year-old Enid Apcarne is going insane. Literally. It started a couple days ago, about the time her younger brother got kidnapped by vampires. She’s trying to find a way to save him, but the invisible bugs crawling under her skin just won’t let her focus.

Turns out, the madness is a symptom of a genetic condition known as ‘being a Seer.’ When her sanity returns, it comes with uncontrollable new powers. With one touch, she can see a person’s past. Cool in theory, not so much in practice.

Question is: will her new powers help her find the vampires and rescue her brother—or will they only get in the way? With both their lives on the line, all she can do is find out.

BASICALLY HUMAN is a 100,000-word urban fantasy about family, sacrifice, and the realization that loved ones are only human—even when they’re not.

Sincerely,

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20. New Beginning 1041


They say that space is dark and endless, that it will kill you if you make a single mistake. They’re not wrong, really, but they miss the thing that is most likely to get you killed: your own smart-ass mouth.

When you’re hanging out in a rescue pod, giving up on hope as your water and oxygen dwindle, a person tends to reflect on their life. What you did wrong to come to be in such dire straits, etc. I know what I did wrong.

Let’s rewind. A month ago, I took working passage on a ship headed for Sol. Working because I couldn’t pay, going to Sol because why not? The old vids had a name for people like me: drifter. I have always preferred to think of myself as a child of the stars, bound to no place, a wide-eyed explorer conquering worlds old and new.

Anyway, like I said, I couldn't keep my smart-ass mouth shut.

We're heading for the sun, and I mention to my CO that only Polacks would go to the sun hoping to get there at night.

That's when Lieutenants Kaminski, Lewanski, Sapkowski and Kosti drag me over to the pod, shove me in, and lock the door. Captain Jaromyr Konstantin says something about God, and they launch my pod.

So now I'm hurtling toward the chromosphere and a fiery doom. Who woulda thought a ship called Aina Polka would be based out of Poland?


Opening: Anon......Continuation: Khazarkhum

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21. Apply Now!

Announcing

Evil Editor's Creative Writing Summer Camp 

Two 4-week sessions: June-July and July-August


Don't miss this opportunity to unload your kids on the world's most famous editor.


Activities:

Field trips to EE's Slushpile Mountain


Writing exercises critiqued by EE himself

Sports Activities

Weekly Campfires




Each session is only $5999.99

Plus...

Each camper receives
a free copy of EE's book
Dear Literary Agent... !

Ask about our 2-session discount.


Apply now - Spaces are limited.

Publication and film rights of all works produced at the camp are the property of Evil Editor.
Evil Editor not liable for any medical, psychiatric, rescue or funeral expenses incurred by campers.

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22. Sherlock Holmes vs. EE


Click strip to enlarge.



Evil Editor Strips Again. Available at the EE Bookstore.

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23. MARCH ADNESS, Round 1, Day 1


Yes, it's time for March Adness. 
64 ads competing for the top prize:
an appearance in a major publication.

We have four brackets.
The Blog Bracket (ads about EE and his blog)
The Book Bracket (ads for EE's books)
The Product Bracket (stuff EE endorses or sells)
The Miscellaneous Bracket (other ads)

On each of the next eight days I'll post half of a bracket.
Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Use any criteria you wish.
I won't actually post your votes, 
as they might influence later voters, but I will compile them.
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is complete.
Click on ads to enlarge them.



"BLOG" BRACKET (Top Half)

Game 1: Bubble Bath vs Magic Lamp





Game 2: Joyous Woman vs. Big Ben





Game 3: Mime Trio Vs. Water Cooler





Game 4: Smitten Kitten Vs. Sexy Dude




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24. Face-Lift 1251



Guess the Plot

The Door

1. It's 2020, and the last living member of a seminal 60's rock group wants to go out with a bang.

2. One by one the members of the 1960s rock band "The Doors" are murdered. Seventy-year-old guitarist Robby Krieger is the last man standing. It's kill or be killed.

3. Alternate history in which Jim Morrison, instead of starting a band, goes on American Idol hoping for a solo career, but finishes ninth.

4. Cindy Sanders' garden is her pride and joy. Black spot, snails, and weeds are dealt with with ruthless efficiency. But when an enormous red door appears in her rose-bed, she isn't quite sure how to handle it. Especially as the door leads to an inter-dimensional hothouse full of brain-sucking slugs and elephant-sized greenflies.

5. Subject 00EG417 awakes locked inside a sterile white room. With no food or water, and needing medical attention, she must get out. But will she be any better off on the other side of . . . the door?

6. A former Wiccan turned prep school admin Chloe 'Rainbow' Rowe discovers that Fate closes one door to open another when she is forced to return to abandoned practices to fight off demons that try to take over the Holy Lady Prep School



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

It’s been ninety-seven days since subject 00EG417 awoke from [in] her pod. Thousands of feet underground, locked inside a sterile white room, [waiting for the sun,] she is safe from the sickness above. The doctors that made her and the other engineered humans watch over her. [That sentence could mean the doctors and the other engineered humans are watching over her. If it read: The doctors that made her watch over her and the other engineered humans, there'd be no ambiguity.][Anyone who spends ninety-seven days watching someone in a sterile white room would have to be nuts. But then . . . People are strange.] 

Then the power goes off and the doors open like gapping [gaping] mouths, ready to swallow her up. She steps out into a white hallway and finds the others. [The others being subjects 00BS624, 00BP666, 00UV435, 00FH451, BH90210, and 00U2INXS.] They wait for doctors that never come. There is no food or water and one of the boys is vomiting blood. The sickness is here and they will die within days without help.

She steps into a labyrinth of laboratories, larger than she ever imagined. [That suggests she knows she's in a labyrinth of laboratories, but imagined it was a smaller labyrinth. How does she know it's a labyrinth of laboratories at all if she's never actually been outside her room? If I woke up locked in a sterile white room I'd assume I was in a psych ward or a weird prison, not a small labyrinth of laboratories.] In every abandoned and destroyed room she finds more dead. The doctors have been executed and they could be next. To survive, subject 00EG417 will have to find the door to the above [, break on through,] and face a world she knows nothing about. [Why does subject 00EG417 have to  do this? Can't all the subjects work together?] 

THE DOOR is a 60,000 word YA Sci-fi.

Thank you for your time and consideration. [The End.]



Notes

This didn't really light my fire. I mean, I want a query to touch me.

Seems kind of inefficient to keep these engineered humans thousands of feet underground for 97 days, but to not have any food or water there. Why are there no faucets for drinking and bathing? And a storeroom filled with food? Or at least a snack bar? Are there bathrooms? Don't the doctors need a bathroom occasionally?

I'm not clear on what an engineered human is. Were they engineered to be immune to the sickness? Because it doesn't seem to have worked.

You've basically set up the situation subject 00EG417 finds herself in. We want to know what her plan is and why it fails and what she does about that. What you've told us could all take place in the first few pages. I want to know what happens in the first 40,000 words.

There are few places on Earth that are thousands of feet below the surface. Just digging that far is hard enough without putting a large labyrinth of sterile laboratories down there. Of course anything's possible in science fiction, just hoping the book has an explanation for why they need these labs so deep.

Obviously we can't tell if a book has "white room syndrome" until we read the text, but declaring in the query that your character wakes in a sterile white room will convince some readers that it does. If you could describe the pod and tell us what's in the room and leave out that it's a white room, it might get you past those readers who will say Aha! White room syndrome! Next query.

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25. MARCH ADNESS! Round 1, Day 2

March Adness Continues. 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Use any criteria you wish.
I won't actually post your votes, 
as they might influence later voters, but I will compile them.
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.
Click on ads to enlarge them.



"BOOKS" BRACKET (Top Half)

Game 5: Old Brit vs. Young Blonde




Game 6: Passengers vs. Decision



Game 7: Sales Kid vs. Bathroom Guy



Game 8: Classics vs. Masters


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