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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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Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 46
1. Face-Lift 1222




Guess the Plot

Kidblog

1. A mommy blogger tries to parody Lewis Carroll's the Jabberwocky and can't think of a rhyme for "blog".

2. The secret son of Evil Editor and Julia Roberts is starting his own blog…and he’s going to reveal lot of shocking news about his parents.

3. Piper and Chad are assigned to work together on a blog, but they both refuse. Will their teacher make good on her threat to fail them both? Or will she decide her job security is more important?

4. Private Investigator Amanda Socci sets up Kidblog, a decoy kiddie-porn site with enough spyware to positively identify any creep who tries to download from it. Then she figures that blackmailing high-profile creeps is far more lucrative than handing them in to the authorities. But she didn't figure that mega-creep Senator Giles could trace the technology straight back to her.

5. First we had PBSKids, then NBCKids and National Geographic kids, and any number of shows pandering to the younger set. Then a plucky, comic-relief kind of character suddenly gets his big break, and squanders it all tackling the most vile evil of all: Wordpress! Hilarity and grammatical errors ensue…

6. Eight-year-old Ricky starts a blog dealing with life at Fontana Elementary school. Tough tests, tough teachers, Tough-Luck Bobby (Maria likes Finn). Meanwhile, mommyblogger Cindy Sharon starts a blog about raising her home-schooled genderneutral child Moon as a vaccine free, gluten free, and religion free vegan. Everything's fine until Ricky and Moon email each other.



Original Version

Dear Evilicious Editor.

I am seeking representation for my realistic fiction Middle Grade manuscript, Kidblog, complete at 21,100 words. The story is told through a dual-voiced narrative, blog entries and comments, online chats, and text messages. [What, no tweets?] [When it comes to fiction, kids have always been ahead of adults in the technology fields. Back in the 1870s it seemed like every other middle-grade query was told through telegraph messages, smoke signals, and hand-written letters, none of which today's kids have ever heard of.] [Am I showing my age?] [If archaeologists ever find a middle-grade query from prehistoric times it'll probably claim the story is told through cave paintings, cuneiform, and signs from the gods.] [Also, "dual-voiced narrative" sounds pretentious. Just say much of it is told through...and list the other stuff.]

Play-it-cool Chad has big plans for seventh grade: smooth talking his way to decent grades and acing the basketball team tryouts. Play-by-the-rules Piper has big plans, too: keeping up her straight-A streak and crafting a surprise birthday gift [for?]. Neither plans on being partners for a clutch English assignment. But their kazoo-tooting [Play-the-kazoo] teacher insists they must work on the class Kidblog together – or fail! [Does she tell them this with the kazoo in her mouth? Because that would seem a bit disrespectful.] [And yet I'm not sure why the teacher's only trait worthy of mention is her kazoo tooting if she does it only in a respectful manner.]

A Slurpee versus m & m-fueled battle of wills ensues when first Chad then Piper decides collaboration WILL NOT HAPPEN. [There'd be more conflict if only one of them refused to collaborate. If they both refuse, it's a win-win situation. Or lose-lose, if the teacher makes good on her threats to fail them both, though that's unlikely, as it would cost her her job when the parents sue the school system.] With the clock ticking, conflicts pile up at school and problems bubble up at home. Then, with their plans unraveling fast, Chad and Piper face twin family emergencies that force them to find common ground – and even friendship – in the unlikeliest of places. [This would be much more interesting if you were specific about the conflicts, problems, plans, emergencies and places.]

Writing credits include x, y, and z. I’m an active lurker, if not poster, on FB, Twitter and Instagram. [Lurking is not a credit.] My website, currently being updated, is abc.com. [If you hurry up and finish updating it you won't have to admit it's being updated.] [Also, I went there, and it's all about TV shows and nothing about your book.]

Attached are the first x pages/y chapters of my manuscript.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

The setup is okay, but  once you get into the story it becomes vague. We can sympathize with specific problems and emergencies, but we don't know what they are. We need something besides the format that hooks our interest.

Not sure what Slurpees and m & ms have to do with the battle of wills.

0 Comments on Face-Lift 1222 as of 9/17/2014 10:16:00 AM
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2. Evil Editor Classics


Guess the Plot

Immortal Island

1. On an island inhabited by warlocks, werecreatures, shapeshifters, witches, etc., Sarah's life is constantly in peril. How many times can she expect the strange angelic man who's actually a vampire to save her neck?

2. Isla de Santa Susanna is not found on any maps. When fat, homely Isabel washes up on its beach after a plane crash, she's surprised to find a colony of people only too glad to welcome her. But are they normal . . . or vampires?

3. When a plane crash lands Marsha and her two friends on a strange island, they know they're in major trouble. But, they didn't expect that trouble to include hiding from a mad scientist intent on capturing them to use as subjects in his human immortality experiments. Are they fated to die in pursuit of eternal life?

4. 13-year-old Danny dreads the annual summer vacation on Immortal Island. But this year is going to be different, what with the rumors of buried treasure, disappearing gardeners, suspiciously smart dogs, and the help of a cute pyromaniac named Kimberly.

5. In an alternate-history 1970’s, a small island off the English coast becomes a haven for wannabe revolutionaries and small-time crooks. When an international arms incident catapults the island into the spotlight, thief Jerome and rabble-rouser David must choose between their ideals and their love for each other.

6. The network has spoken, and they've voted off survival reality show host Guy Sly. In a plot of cold revenge Guy orchestrates a mass kidnapping of network big wigs and plants them on an remote island full of immortal beings. Which fat cat will be dinner first? Will Guy redeem himself during sweeps week? Vampires, zombies and faeries galore!


Original Version

Dear Evil editor,

Please consider my mss that I have completed entitled, ‘IMMORTAL ISLAND - Spellbound/Midnight Masquerade’ first book is part one and two. [Your first sentence is a sure deal killer--and not just because it isn't a sentence. The title is three titles; choose one. We don't care about parts one and two. Ms. is the abbreviation for manuscript. My mss that I have completed would be more concise as my completed ms.] [The good news is that you've got an excellent shot at the Least Effective Opening Sentence Award (an Evil Editor coffee mug), though you're in a tight battle with Face-Lift 333.]

It is about a young woman named Sarah Daniels who discovers secrets about her friends and family that changes [change] her life forever.

Sarah begins having visions that she cannot explain. At first they appear as dreams, but when she has them while awake she realizes what they really are. [Which is?] The first vision she has is of the parents [her parents'] death, when they don't return from their vacation she goes to the town sheriff to report them missing. [The sheriff of her town or of the town where they went for vacation?] She meets a handsome yet mysterious Undersheriff
named Chase Gavenport, who she has a unique attraction to. Things slowly start to unravel every day that she spends on the island.
 [What island? Immortal Island? I had no idea they were on an island.] Then a strange man dressed in all black begins to stalk her while at her parents [parents'] place. (Zadkiel).[Zadkiel? Is that the name of her parents' place? The name of the stalker? An exclamation, like Gadzooks?]When he finally reveals himself to her he tries to kill her but Chase comes to her rescue. They become close and Chase eventually reveals to her that he is a vampire and also tells her what the man in black wants. [(Zounds).]

Sarah’s ex-boyfriend decide [decides] to complicate things even more by adding himself to the equation. He reveals that he is still in love with her and wants her back. [The word "reveals" appears more often in the last four sentences than it does in the entire book of Revelations.] Sarah is torn and can’t decide what she really wants. [No need to say the same thing twice in one sentence.] They [Who?] share a house just off campus [Campus? I had no idea they were on a campus.] with close friends and things start to really heat up. She must choose but who will it be, the vampire who brings with him a life filled with uncertainty or her best friend and ex-boyfriend who loves her for everything he thinks she is. [Which is what?]

But now preternatural beings of Sarah's new world seem to be drawn to her. Her life is in constant peril, she cannot turn to her human friends. With witches, warlocks, were-animals, shape-shifters, [zombies, sharks,] to name a few, come to claim, and the power that dwells inside her begins to grow. [That sentence made no sense to me, apparently because I'm unfamiliar with the expression "come to claim."] A power Sarah does not know how to control.

Now Chase has disappeared and no one will give her any answers as to his whereabouts. [When you ask someone where the vampire is, you seldom get a straight answer.] Who will keep her safe from the nightmare that has become her life. Wait a minute there is always a white knight…Right? Erick the strange angelic man.Who always seems to rise to the occasion mainly when she is in harm’s way? Three times he saves her but why, he is a vampire too. [Making your most compelling character a vampire is a mistake. I liked him better when he was just Erick the strange angelic man. In fact, my desire to read more about Erick the strange angelic man leads me to insert this week's writing exercise here. Write a scene involving Evil Editor and Erick the strange angelic man. Don't make Erick a vampire. 300 words max; deadline: Sunday, 10 AM eastern.]

Then one night after giving up all hope she receives a mysterious letter. A Midnight Masquerade ball? Being thrown by the vilest of creatures out there. He has no sympathy for human kind and would rather rid his world of them. [Naturally she accepts the invitation.] Sarah must do what she can to save her life and the life now inside her as she comes face to face with the man who will take her life…Chase? [You're asking me?]

Sarah survives the Masquerade but not before her unborn child or is it children are infected with vampire blood. Now it's a waiting game. To see whether or not her children will live and be vampires killing her in the process with their savage birth, or if they are healthy and unharmed by the blood that was so easily given to her by the same vampire who on many occasions attempted [to] take her life. Ambrose and Sarah will forever be connected from that day forward. [Ambrose? Who's Ambrose?] Now she must tell the father that his babies could be vampires. How will Jeff [Jeff? Who's Jeff?] take the news that vampires exist and that his unborn children may be one [two] of them?

Turns out that the twins are affected by the vampire virus yet in different ways. Alaina is half vampire and half human, she prefers to drink blood. Wyatt is human but has all the abilities a vampire has, [If you have all the abilities a vampire has, you're pretty much a vampire.] however he is more unique than they know... His blood is the key, the cure to vampirism.

This is four parts all together book two is complete but not ready for viewing just yet.

Please contact me if you would like to review my complete mss.

word count -> 84,328

Urban Fantasy fiction for YA or Adults. There are intimate scenes that can be altered to fit YA.

Thanks


Notes

A query letter should fit on one page. Trash the whole thing, start over, limit your plot summary to ten sentences.

It's riddled with errors. This leads the reader to assume the book is also riddled with errors. Even if cleaning up the query got a request for the manuscript, no one will read far into a manuscript full of spelling, usage and grammar errors.

Your opening hook is that this is a book about a woman who discovers secrets about her friends and family that change her life forever. Her family isn't in the query at all as they disappear while on vacation and never get mentioned again, and the only friend in the query is her ex-boyfriend, and I didn't see any secrets about him.

The hook might be something like this: Pregnant with twins, Sarah Daniels attends a masquerade ball at which she is bitten by a vampire. The pregnancy, birth and aftermath sound like they could make an interesting story. The witches and werecreatures and island and parents and campus and man in black and Zadkiel are cluttering the query. And possibly the book.




I decided you would rather view Erick the Strange Angelic Man's pitch session than read selected comments (which may be viewed by searching for immortal island on this blog).

0 Comments on Evil Editor Classics as of 9/14/2014 11:02:00 AM
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3. Feedback Request


The author of the query featured in Face-Lift 1218 has posted a revision in the comments there, and awaits your feedback. 

0 Comments on Feedback Request as of 9/13/2014 12:36:00 AM
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4. Chris Eldin Fellowship


Some former minions, and others, are running a fundraiser to set up an annual fellowship for middle grade writers in the name of the late minion, Chris Eldin (aka Takoda/Church Lady) who passed away in 2012. Chris was very active in promoting the work of new writers and we thought that setting up a fellowship in her name was a good way for us, and others, to remember her.

We’ve got some great donations to the fundraiser, including goodies from Hugh Howey, Ken Follett, Jonathan Franzen, and many other authors.

We’re trying to promote the fundraiser at the moment – it only runs until the end of September.https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/eldin-memorial-fellowship
And the fellowship itself is now open for entries: http://eldinfellowship.org/ 

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5. New Beginning 1031



The hospital reeked of blood. It filled Morcant’s nose even before the doors opened, pulling him from the shocked stupor he’d been in ever since he got the call from his son.

He lurched toward the reception desk, shoving people out of the way. “Where is she?” he demanded, his voice hoarse and broken.

The receptionist leaned away from him. “Sir, you can’t just—”

“My wife, damn it! Where is she?” He clenched his eyes shut, willing them not to turn silver.

“Dad.” Enid pulled at his arm. How could she be so calm?

A doctor came through a pair of doors. Mid-forties, African-American. “Morcant. Enid. I’m so sorry.”

In two steps he was in front of her, ignoring the stares of those in the waiting room. “Where is she, Helen?”

Sympathy filled her gaze. “Morcant, no. You don’t want to see her. The accident was ... It was bad. I thought Geraint told you.”

If Morcant’s heart could have beat, it would have cracked his ribs. Instead, his stomach heaved. “I need to see her.” 


The doctor sighed. "You would have seen her already if your eyes weren't clenched shut. Open them and look around."

Morcant's eyes, which had so far not changed into any precious metal, opened slowly and took in the waiting room. Now he understood why the place reeked of blood.

"She's right there in the corner," the doctor said in a gentle voice. "And on the ceiling, and a bit near the receptionist desk, and on what's left of the carpet."

Morcant's stomach heaved again. "You say this was an accident?"

"Well, drinking the gasoline was an accident. Apparently the bottle was mislabeled. Having her wait for treatment in a seat next to a dragon with hiccups was ... well, let's just blame Obamacare, shall we?" 



Opening: SB.....Continuation: JRMosher

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6. Face-Lift 1221


Guess the Plot

Boats, Boys and Other Water Hazards

1. Sarah has had the hots for Rodney Reel since they were kids, so she's thrilled to land a job on his father's fishing boat. But can she navigate the uncharted waters of a relationship or will she and Rod drift through the doldrums like ships that pass in the night?

2. Against a hostile takeover bid by a worldwide amusement conglomerate, one family attempts to keep its privately owned miniature golf course afloat. 

3. Archie Spellman asked his bored teenage niece Shelby to write a booklet about the hazards in tourist-trap Lake Anglers. Unfortunately, she spells 'buoys' as 'boys'. Hilarity ensues.

4. Charlie has seen all types at her parents' time share on Lake Arrowhead. This summer will be different, though. She's 16, has her first real bikini, and right next door is a hot piece named Jacob.

5. Noise pollution in the marine environment has become too much for Swishy to cope with, and while contemplating suicide by beaching herself, she gets rammed by a boy on a jet ski. Forget suicide, Swishy embarks on a mission to clear the waterways of all humans by raising an army of sharks.

6. Do guys want to use Kate for her body, her dad's yacht, or both? What happens after college graduation and her trust fund/birthday party? Who poured bong water in a champagne Magnum bottle again? Who still smokes from a bong? Who's the dead guy in the head?

7. Donnie, sixteen, takes Bridget, fifteen, diving off the Florida Keys. A whale attacks their boat and it sinks. Donnie and Bridget lash themselves together. They’re carried further out. They fight off sharks. A storm blows them back toward shore. They cling to a buoy for twenty-nine hours. The Coast Guard rescues them. The shared experience leaves them hating each other.


8. During a weekend at the lake, Janine tries to impress her boyfriend with her mad boat-driving skills. It works ... until he falls overboard and gets caught in the propeller. He manages not to die, but everyone at school knows what happened, and now Janine's having trouble finding a new boyfriend.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Sarah “Plain-and-Tall” Conway [That's her nickname? Kind of unwieldy. I can't see people calling someone Plain-and-Tall.] has always fit snugly in the Good Box—good student, good athlete, good liar—and she wants out. This just isn’t how she imagined it happening. [I'm not crazy about the term "Good Box," as it could mean stuff she's good at or stuff that indicates she's a good person. If it's the former, wanting out makes little sense: she doesn't want to be good at history or volleyball? If it's the latter,  being a good liar doesn't belong on the list.] [As you haven't revealed what "this" is in that last sentence, and all we know about "it" is that it stands for getting out of this Good Box, I'm thinking we can do without the paragraph.]

When a motorboat meets a summer storm and catapults her into the uncharted waters of Orphanism, [When her parents are killed in a motorboat accident] she’s going to have to navigate the foster system, the open roads of Florida, and a boy with a secret all on her own: Sink or Swim. [All orphans navigate the foster system without their parents. Whether they have to do it all on their own depends. Does she want to do it alone? Does anyone want to help her?] [Navigate, uncharted waters, sink or swim... Don't go overboard with the nautical terms. On the other hand, I may join in, it sounds like fun.]

Enter the boy: Rodney Reel Treakle. Intelligent, a bit cocky, and freaking gorgeous, he’s been the stuff of Sarah’s dreams since they were kids. [How old are they now?] When she lands a summer job aboard his dad’s fishing boat, Sarah starts to find herself—the girl she knew existed, but never entertained: confident, steady, [even keeled] and a bit rude. And Rod notices. [Basically, she's morphed from someone who's a good student, athlete and liar to someone who's confident, steady and rude. As good student/athletes are often steady and confident, the before/after comparison doesn't work. Was she unsteady, lacking confidence, polite before her transformation?] 

Armed with her notebook, [What notebook?] a pocket full of anger, and a well-hidden Jar-O-Mom, [What the--?] Sarah struggles to let anyone in. Even Rod. [Is she struggling to let people in? Or struggling to keep a wide berth?]  She can feel herself falling—but in love? Or is she just drowning?

An impromptu July road trip sends Sarah on a quest [voyage] for the truth. [The truth about what?] The truth about a certain wedding picture. The truth about Rod. [Time to deep six this bilge-sucking dog.] The truth about the Good Box.

Sarah-Plain-and-Tall may have been a lie, [She's actually only 5 foot 1.] but will Sarah be able to reconcile the girl her parents knew with the girl she may actually be? [Or will she remain trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea?] [Will she stem the tide or run aground?]

BOATS, BOYS AND OTHER WATER HAZARDS, my young adult novel, is complete at 105,000 words.

With a BA in anthropology and eight years of medical practice under my belt, I have spent my entire academic and professional careers immersed in other peoples’ stories. [Well, screw other people.] It’s refreshing to craft my own.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

I think you can inject some voice into the query without going totally adrift. Some of the attempts to be clever are better left for the book.

This is mostly setup. Parents die, girl takes job on fishing boat, begins finding herself. That's the setup, and a three-sentence paragraph can handle it. Then, though I know nothing about it, I suspect most of the summary should focus on that road trip. It's the part where something seems to happen. What wedding picture? What truth about Rod? These seem like crucial points in Sarah's growth or coming of age, so don't toss them out just to tease us. 

0 Comments on Face-Lift 1221 as of 9/9/2014 1:06:00 PM
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7. Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1219 has submitted a revision, and seeks your feedback. It's in the comments there.

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8. Evil Editor Classics



Guess the Plot

The Hot Season

1. When a slight shift in the Earth's axis leaves the UK closer to the sun, the race is on for a new SPF formula. Can British scientist Tony Edwards save his countrymen or is this the end of paleness as we know it?

2. Every season is the hot season in Thailand. Especially when your visiting cousin is found dead and the police don't care and you get involved with a ring of human traffickers in Cambodia. Hey, every season is the hot season in Cambodia.

3. Marine Biologist Sam Whittaker has had enough of single living. He joins Brazilhotties.com and flies Bruna over, but her Latin temper threatens the ice cap when she learns Antarctica is not America.

4. For Alaska native Will Parker, the worst thing about returning to Earth from the International Space Station is that it's August and he now lives in Houston, which is one step up from the Sahara Desert. So you can imagine how he feels when a booster rocket malfunctions, throwing the shuttle way off course and forcing Parker to crash-land on Mercury.

5. After growing up in Antarctica with her scientist parents, Alberta-Marie is ready for warmer weather. A move to tropical Ecuador means she will finally buy a swim suit. But in the hottest summer in 20 years surrounded by even hotter men, which heat will she succumb to first?

6. CeeBee knew the job at Disneyland was going to be tough. Screaming kids, crying parents, meltdowns, high humidity, and pure misery at the Happiest Place on Earth. She just didn't expect to find them all at the toll booth for the parking lot. Now it's August, and if she hears one more whining kid, that .38 is coming out.



Original Version

Dear ….,

I'm writing to ask if you would accept a submission for The Hot Season, a mystery novel of 83,000 words. It's the story of an American journalist in Thailand who confronts ancient superstitions and modern day crime, as she searches for the truth behind her cousin’s death.

I’m currently based in Bangkok, and before devoting myself to writing I spent over fifteen years as a journalist with organizations such as NPR and the BBC. I’m also a published author in Australia. My first book, XXX (XX, 20XX), [For those who've forgotten their Roman numerals, allow me to translate: 30 (20, 2020).] is a narrative non-fiction account of my experiences living in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein. It was shortlisted for the XXX Literary Awards.

[I Googled XXX Awards and it took me six hours to pry myself away and back to this blog. Fascinating stuff.] 

In The Hot Season, Sam Beckman, [Hang on a minute, switching my mouse to my left hand as my right is inexplicably inflamed.] [Okay, ready.] a foreign correspondent for a US radio network, is visited by a teenage cousin who’s backpacking through Thailand. She’s delighted [Readers may assume "she" is the cousin, as the cousin is the most recently mentioned character.] at the chance to mend some of her frayed family ties, but within days her cousin is found dead on the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

Worried about damage to the lucrative tourism industry, Thai police write the death off as a drug overdose. [The lucrative tourism industry isn't aided by reports that corpses of drug overdosers occasionally wash up on the river bank. Unless you're trying to attract drug addict tourists, wouldn't it be better to write it off as a boating accident?] When Sam suspects foul play, she’s warned to stop meddling. But keeping quiet and playing dumb are not in her nature. [Playing dumb is generally considered a smart strategy.] She’s quickly drawn into a web of human trafficking stretching from Bangkok’s urban jungle to the killing fields of Cambodia and beyond.

Sam’s search is helped and hindered by three men – a Thai policeman trying to balance loyalty to the force with his desire to find the truth, a charming but roguish British journalist
 addicted to life in the fast lane, and Sugar, her driver, who, like most Thais, sees a supernatural explanation behind everything. [Thai food will give anyone hallucinations. Travel tip: Don't order Neua Pad Prik in Phuket.]

A good dose of humor and a sassy heroine counterbalance the serious issues in The Hot Season. I hope this novel will be the first in a series of mysteries set in locations where I’ve lived and worked including Iraq, Sri Lanka, Australia and New York.

If you would like to read more of my work or have any other questions, please email me at XXXXXXX. You can also call me in Thailand on XXXXXX [(Monday)]. [On XXXXXXX I'll be in Somalia. Then XXXXXXXXX I'm off to North Korea for a well-deserved vacation.] I look forward very much to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


Notes

This might be better described as a thriller. I usually expect a mystery to have several suspects. As the cousin didn't know anyone, Sam is basically trying to get to the bottom of what happened, not whodunnit.

The plot summary is three paragraphs. The other stuff is four paragraphs. Cut those four down to two. One way to do this is to open with:

The Hot Season is a stand-alone mystery novel of 83,000 words, and the first in a series of mysteries set in locations where I’ve lived and worked, including Iraq, Sri Lanka, Australia and New York.

Then: Sam Beckman, a foreign correspondent for a US radio network . . . Run through the plot, and finish with:

I've spent over fifteen years as a journalist with organizations such as NPR and the BBC. My first book, ______________, a narrative non-fiction account of my experiences living in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein, was shortlisted for the XXX Literary Awards. If you would like to consider The Hot Season, please email me at XXXXXXX.



Selected Comments

Faceless Minion said...
The main plot here seems to be the search for the Truth. I'd be interested in hearing either a consequence for not finding the truth or what she plans on doing once she'd found it.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...Are "the killing fields of Cambodia" still a going concern? Because I thought that all went out with the Khmer Rouge, 30-some years ago.

Don't open with your qualifications; you may give the impression that you're relying more on them than on the story you're telling.


Laurie said...What everyone else has said - there are some confusing bits (as your heroine is named "Sam," I also defaulted to the "she" referring to the visiting cousin). And yes, your qualifications go at the end.

But that being said, I'd like to read this book.


Rashad Pharaon said...Being a Thailand lover and having visited just a few months ago, I'm immediately drawn to this.

But instead of saying "a good dose of humor and a sassy heroine"-- why don't you inject some of those qualities into the query? Humor? Is there a ladyboy cop?


Anonymous said...Trivializing the Killing Fields (and the international trial that is ongoing) is offensive and insensitive.

There are very few people over the age of 45 left in Cambodia today.

Author, I like the opening, good luck. I like the suggestion of a ladyboy tossed into your mix of characters.


ozgirl said...Thanks very much for the feedback! Those points will be very useful in revising my query.

Re: the killing fields...even though Pol Pot was ousted some 30 years ago, the impact of his rule is still being felt today in terms of poverty, injuries from the millions of landmines left over from that period, damage to society and so on. This will take many more decades to overcome. The terrible legacy of the Khmer Rouge is one of the reasons why even today Cambodians are vulnerable to human trafficking. I don't see why it is insensitive or offensive to discuss serious issues like human trafficking in a novel. The humor in the book comes mostly from self-depreciating wisecracks by the protagonist - it does not contain jokes about human trafficking or genocide or trivialize these issues. I agree, that WOULD be offensive.

Thanks again for the feedback!


[The first few pages are online at
http://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=9699.0;wap2

Don't know when they were posted or if the author checks there anymore, but if you want to read them . . . 

0 Comments on Evil Editor Classics as of 9/6/2014 1:42:00 PM
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9. Face-Lift 1220


Guess the Plot

Mechanic

1. In the sequel to the award-winning Drifter, Dustin Leahry finally settles down and gets a job.

2. HVAC technician Cinna is the only person who can fix the capital city's broken heat source. But if the heat isn't repaired, residents of the capital will freeze to death and then Cinna can make the repairs and move to the capital. Tough decision.

3. Luigi is a brilliant businessman in Providence. He owns a seven-bedroom house overlooking the marina, has an Olympic pool, and buys a new Cadillac every year. All this from a small automotive repair shop. Whenever he returns from a business trip, he brings everybody gifts. Nobody can figure out how he does it until Tommy Gambino stops to say “Hi” one afternoon.

4. They told him opening a medical practice on a space station was an idiotic idea. No one would put their life in the hands of an android doctor. But the way Clink figured it, machines had human mechanics, and weren't humans just another type of machine?

5. Don't know what to do with that MA in Modern Literary Poetry? This handy booklet is all you need to get out of that fast-food uniform and into a paying career!

6. By day he's a mechanic, rebuilding Volvo engines for fifteen dollars an hour. By night he's the Mechanic, the superhero who can fix any machine, and the mortal enemy of the villain known as Rustman.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Seventeen-year-old Cinna is a mechanic. Born with dragon's blood, she's the only one in her village who can repair the dragonstone that's their sole source of heat. She has plenty of talent, but with so few resources it's a struggle keeping the deadly Ice of her frozen world in check.

Then Prince Skye comes to her village. The stones in the capital are dying and he wants Cinna to fix them. He can give her people everything she never could: food, supplies. Life. All she has to do is go with him. To save the capital that's never lifted a finger to help the villages. [But which now offers to provide food, supplies. Life. What's the problem? Have the villages done anything for the capital in the past? Did Cinna ever offer the capital a dragonstone maintenance program in return for resources for her village?]

But the massive city isn't the evil incarnate she first thought. Neither is Prince Skye. His fight to keep his people from freezing is disturbingly similar to her own. When Cinna finds a way to fix the stones, she's faced with a choice: save the capital and hundreds of lives, or turn her back on them and give the villages a chance to rise. Because in her world, heat means power, and it's all in her hands. [If heat means power, why hasn't Cinna's village already risen? Heat's the one thing they have.]

MECHANIC is my 83,000 word young adult novel. It's a standalone with series potential, and will appeal to readers of the Graceling series.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

While your story is probably nothing like The Hunger Games, you have a main character who lives in the hinterlands and who agrees to journey to a capital city that never does anything to help the villages. Thus I recommend not naming your main character Cinna, which is the name of the Hunger Games character who "fixes" Katniss so that she'll appeal to the populace. I suppose the name Prince Skye won't evoke President Snow--though if people are already thinking Hunger Games, it might. What I'm saying is, if your story opens with a tornado that knocks out the main character, you don't name her Glinda. Or The Great and Powerful Oz.

Here's how commerce works. You have something I want, like all of your oil. I have something you want, like all of my money. We make a trade and everyone's happy. Win - win. Here Cinna needs resources and Skye needs stonework. That Cinna even considers letting hundreds of people die when there's a win - win offer on the table doesn't make her a sympathetic character. I don't see that her village will rise anyway, as they still won't have resources, unless her plan is for everyone in the capital to die so her people can move there.

Are these dragonstones mechanisms? With parts that need repairing? If they're just some sort of magical stones, you'd think there'd be a better term than "mechanic." Like "thermal engineer" or "Stonemage."

I think you need to make it clear how the capital has been keeping the villages down (if they have). Canada is richer than Uruguay, but without evidence that Canada is responsible for Uruguay's poverty, you're unlikely to see Uruguayans bad-mouthing Canadians or letting them die unnecessarily. How does it help Cinna's village if a few hundred capital city people -- people she's now discovered aren't so bad after all -- freeze to death? Make that clear, or her decision is easy. It's pretty easy anyway, if she has a shred of decency.


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10. Face-Lift 1219



Guess the Plot

Drifter

1. Jacob is a Drifter, a man who is not anchored in time but instead slides, or drifts, from year to year, often centuries apart. And then one day it's 1939, and Adolph Hitler just handed him a gun.

2. Drifting scross Texas in the 1800's, Dustin spots windmills and heads toward them. He reaches the Cartwright's Ranch, where he spots a naked woman bathing, and Hoss and Little Joe nowhere to be seen. Maybe it's time to finally settle down.


3. Dewey's the big cat curator at Wildcat Safari. He loves the big cats and they love him. When the park is forced into receivership, the bankruptcy administrator sells what he can and plans to euthanize the rest. At 3 A.M. Dewey takes his favorites—two lions, a tiger, and two snow leopards—into his RV and hits the road. Hilarity ensues.

4. When hang-gliding stoner Airey Weedpipe catches the ultimate drift in the Himalayas his seemingly endless ride becomes a metaphor for the world's hopes and dreams. Will he be joined by millions of would-be gliderphobes . . . or shot down by the Russkies?

5. Selene's mother keeps telling her she needs to find a nice man, settle down, and have a family--but it's not like Selene's some irresponsible wild child. It's just that when you're literally light as a feather, settling down is easier said than done.

6. The broken hull of the boat lies at the bottom of the ocean. The leg of the water-skiing frat boy sits partially digested in the shark's stomach. Annie sits in the tiny life raft cursing the day her dead boyfriend challenged fate and named the damn boat DRIFTER. Asshole.




Original Version

Dear E.E.,

Dustin Leahry is good at three things: drifting, helping people, and using his gun. [His metaphorical gun?]

Craving the adventure of his childhood heroes, Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok, Leahry set out for the untamed land west of the Mississippi;[,] taking with him his gun and his best friend – his horse Baker.

Years later the thrill is tempered by the reality of trudging through the dusty cactus[-] and yucca[-]filled plains of Texas after Baker loses a shoe. The Drifter would rather have a cool drink and a black smith’s [blacksmith's] forge than excitement as he plods toward distant windmills that hint at relief. [Blacksmith, shmacksmith. What self-respecting drifter would ride through the old west without spare horseshoes and nails in his saddlebag?]

Trouble finds Leahry when he arrives at the Cartwright Ranch [It's called the Ponderosa.] and catches sight of Shelly Cartwright taking an outdoor bath. He knows he’s in deep trouble when Shelly uses his distraction to center a rifle’s sights on his chest. Something about a woman wrapped in a towel holding a gun on him convinces Leahry to stay instead of continuing to drift. [Wait, what about the trouble he was in one sentence ago? What happened?]

His trouble escalates when he goes to work for Shelly. [What is this trouble that escalates? He can get a new shoe for Baker at the ranch; Shelly didn't shoot him; he finally has a job... He's got less trouble than ever, far as I can tell.] His penchant for helping people soon puts him in the middle of her struggle to keep the ranch from being taken over by August Benson. Benson is determined to own the city of San Angelo and the surrounding countryside. Naturally the Cartwright Ranch is the last obstacle.

Leahry finds himself in confrontations with Benson’s men, on a horse drive to earn ranch-saving money, and in a war between the ranches. After the deaths of several of Shelly’s men, he resorts to the thing [what] he’s best at as he heads to San Angelo and a showdown with Benson.

Drifter: San Angelo Showdown is set in 1898 Texas and is approximately 119,000 words. Drifter pays homage to classic TV Westerns while adding new characters to the fold. [Shouldn't you pay homage to classic western novels and let TV pay homage to TV westerns?]

Thank you very much for your time.

Regards,


Notes

This horse drive to earn ranch-saving money suggests that the ranch will be saved if Shelly can pay her bills. The confrontations/war/showdown suggest that ownership of the ranch is more than a financial/legal matter. How has Benson come to own everything except this ranch? By taking it at gunpoint or buying it? Was this San Angelo area totally lawless as late as 1898? My guess is 1885 would be better, but I've been wrong before, or so I'm told.

The word count is kinda high for a western novel.

Instead of spending three paragraphs on Dustin's arrival at the ranch, try compressing that into one paragraph and devoting more space to what happens after he gets there.






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11. Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 954 has posted a new version in the comments there. See what you think.

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12. New Beginning 1030


It promised to be a beautiful day on Dirtyrock Farm. The sun rose at dawn, as was its wont, and would stayed up until just before dusk. But not Billie Jane.

She awoke just before noon and in no sunny disposition. Her tongue was swollen and dry. Her breath stank and she smelled like a sweat-hog. She stumbled into the bathroom wishing to shower herself down the drain.

“Billie, how was the senior prom?” Her cheerful mom called from the kitchen below Billie's bedroom.

She turned on the shower to drown out her mother's morning joy. While disrobing, she tried to remember last night. She remembered dancing with Eddie Fitzmore, her date, and a couple of other boys. She also remembered drinking with Eddie in his dad's 150 pickup. They drank Southern Comfort mixed with Gordon's Gin and Diet Dr. Pepper--Billie thought Eddie obsessed over his weight which was insufficient to make the varsity six-man football squad.

That's it. She couldn't remember what happened next or how she got home. Billie sat on the edge of the tub and tried. Nothing came to her. Maybe someone put a date-rape drug in her drink. Did she had sex with Eddie? Or with anyone? Maybe she'd been raped. She wondered if urgent care could test for date-rape drugs.

* * *

The sun came bright through the pickup window, but somehow didn't reach Eddie Fitzmore's white knuckles gripping the wheel. Eddie just sat there, unmoving, like what he'd been for the past six hours, staring right ahead, eyes watering from the burning in his crotch. He tried not to think about the two broken bodies in the flatbed, and what had happened to them. And worse, to him.

So that's what the old woman had meant, when she looked at Billie Jane and touched his arm and hissed in his ear. It wasn't nothing to do with her cankles at all. And buying diet didn't help nothin. "Mark my words, boy, whatever you do, don't be giving Dr. Pepper to that there were-hog."


Opening: Mister Furkles.....Continuation: Anonymous


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13. Face-Lift 1218


Guess the Plot,

Awaken

1. A panel of octogenarians debate as to whether a famous American novelist should begin his new book with I awoke; I woke up; Awakened, I; Awake, I; Woken, I...or something else entirely! Complicating the matter: the main character is a Wiccan.

2. Audrey's fiance has been in a coma for ten months, and she's scared they'll lose the non-refundable deposit on the reception venue if he sleeps through their wedding. Just what will it take for him to . . . awaken?

3. Ogzhal is an Awakener, one of a special caste of elite warlocks whose task it is to select new corpses for life among the undead. When his wife leaves him for a vampire, he turns to formaldehyde to drown his sorrows. Can sweet ghoul Loretta help turn his life around before it's too late?

4. Seventeen-year-old Emsley finds the new kid at her school intriguing. She knows junior year can be intense, but would it be so bad to have a boyfriend? No, not when the forces of Hades have somehow gotten the idea that Emsley possesses the Key, a mysterious object that can kill a god, and they'll do whatever they have to to get it so they can destroy the Olympians and all of humanity, and the new kid just might be Emsley's--and our--only hope.

5. When the body of actor Jason Mitchell is found hanging in the restaurant of the airport Hilton at six A.M., homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, the star didn't carve that pentagram into his own back, and two, the Hilton puts out a pretty decent breakfast buffet.

6. The morning after the senior prom, Laura wakes at noon with a hangover. The police are downstairs asking about her date. They found his headless body in a drainage ditch and Laura can't remember a thing after her first sip of Southern Comfort. Because of her sword- juggling talent she's a “person of interest” and two of her swords are missing.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Emsley didn’t plan on falling for Henry, the new guy in school. She didn’t plan on discovering that her past is intertwined with a war between Gods, and she didn’t plan on holding the key to their destruction. [So it will come as no surprise when I tell you that none of these things happened. Except the falling for Henry part, but that didn't matter because Henry was cute so Emsley didn't have a chance with him.] [My point being, there's no need for this paragraph. Nobody plans on stuff like that. It just happens.]

Seventeen-year-old Emsley is, well, ordinary. She is expecting her junior year to be academically intense, but what she isn’t expecting [More about what Emsley isn't expecting? You'll save a lot of space if you don't preface everything that happens with the stipulation that Emsley didn't expect it to happen.] is Henry, the new, seemingly unordinary, perfect boy in her quaint, mid-west island town. [He's seemingly unordinary? "Seemingly unordinary" without the italics would suggest that he only seems unordinary, i.e. that he actually is ordinary. If that's not what you mean, and you thought italicizing "seemingly" would suggest that he doesn't seem unordinary but actually is, I don't think it's working. Why don't you just tell us what it is about him that seems unordinary?] [Also, is "unordinary" even a word?] Since losing her parents at the age of seven, Emsley had [has] kept her heart closed with the exception of [to all but] her two best friends. But the further Henry seeks her out, the further she is intrigued.  [Is "further" the best word there? I was thinking "more" would be better, but I bow to any high school English teachers in the audience.] And the closer she comes to letting him in, the closer she comes to discovering Henry’s true identity. [Is it a secret identity? Or is he simply not telling her because she'd never believe he's Robin, the boy wonder, anyway?]

When Emsley’s life is put in danger, twice, Henry is forced to confess [reveal] that not everything she learned in 9th grade Mythology was a myth. [For instance, that movie, Thor? A documentary.] ["You know those myths where Zeus comes to Earth and has sex with mortal women, Emsley? Well, I'm back."] The Underworld is waging war against the Olympians for control over the human world, and according to the three Fates, whichever side possesses the Key, a mysterious object that can weaken or even kill a God, is the side that will prevail. [That's all well and good, but you haven't explained why anyone would want control over the human world.]

After centuries of searching, Hades believes the Key to be in Emsley’s possession. [For centuries they couldn't find it, but now suddenly they have reason to believe this high school kid has it? Why? Is Emsley a newly awakened goddess?] When Emsley is attacked by a creature from the Underworld demanding that she hand it over, the secrets begin to unravel. [This is season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Especially if it turns out that Emsley is the Key.] She discovers that not only was Henry sent to protect her, but that he and his family have a secret - a secret that could destroy her relationship with Henry and force Emsley into a world with an ancient grudge and imminent battle in order to stop Hades from controlling and ultimately destroying humanity.

I am submitting for your consideration a 67,200-word YA urban fantasy. Awaken is a stand-alone novel with the potential to be the first novel in what I entitled my Spark series. It will appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instrument series and Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed.

I am a high school English teacher with a BA in English, Language and Literature and a [an] MA in Reading. [Reading? I haven't taken a Reading class since 4th grade, and now you can get a Masters in it? Do they also have Masters programs in Arithmetic and Spelling?] [Required courses for an MA in Reading: Reading 401: The Poetry of Suess; Reading 560: Deciphering Physician Penmanship; Reading 587: How to Correctly Guess What the Bottom Line of an Optician's Eye Chart Says. And of course for your Masters thesis you have to muddle your way through the Cliff Notes for Finnegans Wake.]

Thank you for taking the time to become part of my new fantasy world. [Not crazy about that line.] Upon your request, I am prepared to send the complete manuscript. I'd be honored if you would consider Awaken for representation.

Sincerely,


Notes

Is humanity better off if the Olympians have the Key? Because if I'm Emsley, I'm thinking the Olympians have a better chance of protecting it from the forces of Hades than I do. On the other hand, apparently the Olympians also want control of the human world, so I'm worried that Henry is actually Hedylogos, the Greek god of sweet talk and flattery, and he wants the Key so the Olympians can regain the power they had before humanity decided it was less work to believe in only one god.

Questions that occur to me, and that you probably answer in the book and could answer in the query if you wanted to: If Emsley has an object that can weaken or kill a god, why don't the gods just take it from her? What is the secret Henry and his family have? What happens if the Olympians win the war for control of the human world?

It's not as bad as all the blue words make it look. Just get rid of the 1st paragraph and answer a couple of the questions. Young adults who've studied mythology will probably dig it.



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14. Evil Editor Classics



Guess the Plot

Soul Birds

1. Dulled by midlife failures, Homer and Bernice Byrd change their name and become a singing duo. They achieve unexpected fame and fortune, but in the end realize that they were happier when they were nobodies.

2. Each of us is accompanied, from birth to death, by a soul bird that sits on our shoulder, makes sarcastic cracks about us to all the other soul birds, and occasionally takes a crap on our Sunday best. That's about it, really.

3. Often seen as a bad racist joke, the crows from Dumbo have decided to make a comeback, and this time they're out for revenge. Known as the dreaded Soul Birds, this band of buddies will live up to the name murder of crows, as they regain their honor.

4. Okay, they aren't really birds, they're more like butterflies. People use them to send prayers to the gods. It's a pretty cool idea, but lately the system isn't working like it's supposed to, so as usual it's up to one unqualified female to step in and prevent an apocalyptic war.

5. When the dismembered body of former Laker Jeremiah Smitts is discovered in the speakers of his jazz club Soul Birds, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, cutting up a body that big had to leave a mess somewhere, and two, he'd better wear his Dwight Howard jersey if he wants them to beat the Trailblazers tomorrow night.

6. When people die, their souls enter the bodies of birds, where they can soar to the heavens. Except for people who've been bad; their souls enter flightless birds, like ostriches and penguins. That's the belief system that has evolved on Earth by the twenty-fourth century. The plot is basically the war between flightless birds and the humans who want to eradicate them.



Original Version

Dear EE,

When Adwen attempts to permeate the home of a waiting girl she is forced away and lands on the sidewalk, momentarily powerless. [For starters, it's not clear whether "she" is Adwen or the waiting girl. By which I mean it's clear you mean Adwen (unless Adwen in a man's name), but "she" should refer to the most recently mentioned female singular entity.] [Also, "waiting girl"? Is that a waitress? Or a lady-in-waiting? Or just a girl who's waiting for something? If the latter, is she waiting for Adwen? If not, what is she waiting for, and if that's irrelevant, why call her a waiting girl?]

Adwen is the Corpreal of physical love and fertility. [The what? I, like Google, assume you misspelled "corporeal." If you made up the word, I recommend not using it in the query. Even if it's inaccurate, use "embodiment" or "goddess" or capitalize a known word like Minister, Custodian, Big Enchilada.] It is her duty to enter the rooms and fantasies of Thea's youth to awaken their sexual desires. [Ah, to have lived in a land where, as a teenage boy, I could look forward to the night Adwen permeated my house and awakened my sexual desires. One question: is she more like Betty or Veronica?] [Also, What is Thea? A planet? A woman? Heaven? A place on Earth?] These humans buying the powerful force: [Who said anything about humans buying a force?] are they from Earth?The God of All Things made it so when first man looked at first woman with lust in his eyes and first woman responded with a blush and a smile [and a can of mace].

Confused and scared she rushes to the home of her keeper, Brula, a woman whose magical knowledge is centuries old. [Her keeper? Wait, is Thea a zoo?]

Brula discovered a force that can compete with the God of All Things and someone is selling it to the humans. Brula thinks this new power is coming from The Fringe and Adwen should investigate. [Since when do Corpreals investigate anything? That's like if a powerful force were disrupting life as we know it on Earth, and we assigned the investigation to Kim Kardashian. Why doesn't the God of All Things send in a diplomat or a SEAL team or just make The Fringe evaporate?

The Fringe is a desolate place, devoid of magic. [Think Manitoba.] The people live there to escape the rule of the God of All Things and they don't welcome intruders, especially divine ones. Adwen's magic won't work and she won't be able to protect herself from their wrath. [So she has magical powers besides that of awakening sexual desires in youth?]
  
If Adwen chooses to go, she will be stripped of her powers but if she chooses not to, a war between humans and gods could erupt. [Are you declaring that if she chooses to go, the war won't erupt? Why is war any less likely to erupt if a powerless, unwelcome Corpreal enters The Fringe?] The God of All Things won't turn a blind eye to other forms of magic for long. 

SOUL BIRDS is 80,000 words and is my first novel to see more then just the hard drive on my old laptop. [This one has seen the hard drive on my new laptop.] Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


[Note from author to EE: The title comes from butterfly like creatures the gods and goddesses of Thea use to send messages to one another. When they land on someone the person is filled with a vision of the messenger. The soul birds are also used by humans to send prayers to the gods.]


Notes

Is this Fringe the same place as on the TV show, The Fringe?

Why would anyone suspect that the power great enough to compete with the God of All Things is coming from Manitoba?

You spend so much time explaining what stuff like Corpreals and The Fringe are, there's not enough room to tell the story.

Your setup seems to be: When humans acquire power that can compete with the God of All Things, war seems inevitable. It's up to Adwen, the goddess of fertility, to find out how the humans are getting their power, and to prevent the war. But to do so, she'll have to enter the bleakest place on the planet, Manitoba, where no fertility goddess has ever been welcome.  That leaves plenty of room to tell us what she discovers in Manitoba and what she plans to do about it, and who wants to stop her.


Selected Comments

Blogger BuffySquirrel said...So both girls and boys have their sexual desires awoken by a female embodiment of desire? And that seems reasonable to you?


Evil Editor said...Quite reasonable. No one wants their sexual desires awakened by a guy. Unless Brad Pitt is available.


TwiggyBUMPkins said...It almost seems to me like you are trying to write an excerpt (or several) from your book and cram as much information about the world as you can into it in the process. A query is not an excerpt, it is a description of the basics of the plot. The world itself is not necessarily important, though it does need to be clear whether this takes place in a fantasy land, on earth, or in the past/future. What a query needs to have is the plot laid out simply and in a way that makes the reader want to read more.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...In the penultimate sentence you want "than", not "then", but really you don't want that detail at all. Leave out anything not to your advantage.

The first sentence seems detached from the rest of the story and just adds to the confusion. And I'm feeling quite a bit of confusion. It wasn't till the third read-through that I realized Thea was a place, not a person. And is the God of All Things just plain God?

You're spending most of your time in this query trying to explain the rules of your world to us. I'd give that a sentence at most --if it can't be explained in a sentence leave it out-- and focus instead on your protagonist, what she wants to accomplish, and what obstacle prevents her from accomplishing it.


Kelsey said...As someone from Manitoba, touche! Just remember, we claim Neil Young.


khazar-khum said...Your author's note to EE sounds fascinating, a story I'd like to read. The confusing series of actions presented as a query are nowhere near as intriguing as that little blurb.


Jo Antareau said...The embodiment of desire sounds like she would have a pretty full diary, and possibly grateful for stumbling across one person whom she could not permeate. And I'm not quite sure what permeate means..

Start over. Read the query aloud. A few times.

BTW, all the GTPs featuring Zack Martinez make me smile. Does anybody have plans to give this guy his own book or series?


Evil Editor said...Some of the better Zack Martinez GTPs were collected in a post here: http://evileditor.blogspot.com/2009/08/zack-martinez-chronicles.html.

For longer Zack Martinez material, find your way in the archives to August 23, 2009 for 11 ZM stories, the result of a writing exercise.

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15. Face-Lift 1217


Guess the Plot

City of Djinn

1. Never the sharpest knife in the drawer, Harry Bumm buys a postcard while on vacation in the City of Djinn and sarcastically writes 'Wish you were here' and sends it to his ex-wife. Seconds later, she appears in his hotel room. Can he get rid of her before she fulfills her wishes to reconcile, have ten kids and move in with her witch of a mother?
 

2. By day Gilbert York is a prosecutor for the city of San Francisco, by night a video game creator. Pocket Djinn is Gilbert’s new monster collection game. Gilbert brings a copy to work where a freak power surge releases the djinn onto the city mainframe. Now Gilbert must use his coding skill to fight every pocket djinn and bring them home before it’s too late!

3. Everyone knows never to make a wish in the city of Djinn. No stranger to the rules, Alexander has always resisted the temptation until he sees beautiful Eleeza, and in one unguarded moment does the unthinkable.  Now a djinn holds Eleeza's future in his hands unless Alexander can perform the dangerous ritual of un-whishing.

4. Worst wedding day ever: Meron's friends and family are all killed by raiders, she's left alone in the desert still wearing her wedding clothes, and then she captured by djinn, shapeshifting monsters who plan to take her to their city and have her for dinner, and I don't mean as a guest.

5. A disgruntled teenager heads to the big city, where people go to forget all their troubles, where it seems everyone is willing to fulfill his every wish. Life is fantastic, until he hits rock bottom and realizes this isn't a city of djinn... It's a city of gin.

6. Archaeologist Ahmed Rais returns to his homeland Iraq, hoping to rebuild the great museum. While cleaning some ancient silver, he is whisked away to a magic land where everything is strange and few speak his language. Just how did he end up in Dearborn, anyway?

7. When Jean Djinn comes of age, and into her powers, she thinks life can’t get any better. Pulling chairs out from under people, making the pavement over sewer lines disappear as people stroll along, materializing pies for people to walk into face first . . . Then they catch her, and send her to genie juvie to learn some respect. Now, she’s out for revenge, badda-bing-badda-boom style. And no jail in creation can hold her – especially not one located in the . . . City of Djinn.

8. Donnie dreams of becoming a star, the number one requested condiment on the planet, the name that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. But when he can’t even cut the mustard enough to make the top ten… well, what’s a self-respecting plant like him to do? Wait… what? City of what? Ohhh, Djinn. Never mind.

9. Slave trader Hamsi is an unpopular man in an unpopular profession. Just when it seems he may have to earn a respectable living as a shoe salesman, he stumbles upon the wondrous City of Djinn. So many potential slaves, so few oil lamps to trap them in.



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,


I’m seeking representation for City of Djinn, a 95,000 word YA fantasy set in a desert world with elements of Persian mythology. [I'd put this at the end.]


Blighted babies should be given to the desert. To do otherwise is to invite the wrath of the gods. [Get rid of this.]


Because of Meron’s birth defect, she’s been ostracized by her tribe: blamed for every lost camel and sick child [Why haven't the tribe given her to the desert?] and betrothed to an old man who already has two wives. And he only agreed to marry her because he owes her father a favor. [When someone owes you a favor  for, say, feeding his camel while he was on vacation, it's considered bad form to demand he repay you by marrying your daughter. Especially if he's already married. Twice. Is the reason he has two wives because he owed two other guys favors?]


On the night of her wedding ceremony, raiders attack, slaughtering Meron’s tribe and leaving her alone in the middle of the desert, still wearing her wedding clothes. [At least there's no one left to blame her for this.] Her survival depends on crossing a land riddled with dangers: giant crabs that suck their victims dry, and immortal beings she thought were myths. When she’s captured by djinn – shapeshifting monsters that prey on humans – Meron is given a choice: die with the other captives [Who are these other captives?] or discover who’s been enslaving the djinn and why. [How do they know the djinn are being enslaved if they don't know who's enslaving them?] If she succeeds, she and the other captives will be freed. [Or so the Djinn claim, but can you really trust shapeshifting monsters that prey on humans?] If she fails, they’ll be dinner.


As the trail leads her closer to the dark kingdom next door and the beasts that guard it, Meron learns why the djinn selected herfor this task and discovers a secret that could propel her to the upper echelons of society, blighted or not. [When you're in danger of becoming someone's dinner, you tend to put your place in the societal order on the back burner.]


This is my first novel. I hope it will appeal to fans of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns and Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series. [I'd replace this with the first sentence, or combine them.]


Sincerely,


Notes

I think you should tell us why Meron was selected for this task and what secret she learned that will make her the toast of the ton.

Enslaving a shapeshifter seems impossible. He can turn into a snake to slip out of his shackles. He can become a cheetah and run away, or a bird and fly away or he can turn into the Hulk and pound you into a pulp. If this world has sorcerers capable of preventing shapeshifting, then the djinn should be smart enough to figure out that it's the sorcerers who are enslaving them, instead of sending Meron to find out who's doing it.

If the birth defect is the reason Meron was chosen, start with the 3rd paragraph, but add the first two sentences of the 4th paragraph to that one. If it wasn't the reason, you can dump the entire 3rd paragraph and start with the 4th.

 

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16. Face-Lift 1216


Guess the Plot

Audrey Maeng and the Chinese New Year

1. Audrey's life changes forever when she goes on a blind date with a handsome dragon dancer. A multicultural literary fantasy novel that will make you reexamine your view of scales!

2. The latest in a series of mildly racist children's books about holidays around the world. Preceded by 'Timmy Karim and the Ramadan,' 'Kelly Shabat and the Hanukkah,' and 'Sammy McShivers and the Canada Day.'

3. Asked by the principal of her school to host the Chinese New Year Festival, Audrey Maeng wants to scream. She isn't even Chinese. So she ruins the festival by printing signs whose translations are insults and putting doom predictions in the fortune cookies. Nothing makes 3rd grade bearable like a little revenge.

4. Audrey Maeng's Tiger Mom has always made sure she was first at everything. Valedictorian, All American in Taekwondo, and now she was headed to the Olympic trials. When she suffers a meniscus tear her dreams are shattered--until Mike, her hot physical therapist, starts treating her. Should she bring Mike to Chinese New Year so he can meet her family? She doubts they will approve of her new boy toy.

5. It’s a little known fact that Breakfast at Tiffany’s almost didn’t get made. They couldn’t find a female lead. That is, until Blake Edwards went on an all-night binge at General Tso’s 24-hour Mu Goo Gai Pan Palace, and spotted a terribly thin but quite confused waitress, with a penchant for overly-long cigarette holders and cheap fireworks. Also, dumplings. Lots and lots of dumplings.

6. In a bizarre series of unlikely plot twists, a giant man-eating plant swims across the Pacific and lands in a distant country. Changing her last name to reflect her new surroundings, she emerges into society just in time for the biggest celebration on their yearly calendar. Feeeeed me, Xi Moah.

7. Audrey's 88th New Year is approaching, and as double-eight is particularly auspicious in China, she wants to make it a spectacular event. Bring on the firecrackers, lanterns, red envelopes and interminable tales about her previous New Years.

8. When gorgeous Australian ranch hand Han Audrey and fifth generation Chinese immigrant Pamela Maeng discover that their dream of running a sheep farm is threatened by mysteriously cheap Chinese wool they realize that something just isn't right: the anti-democratic Chinese totalitariat has discovered a way to squeeze two year's worth of time into a single year!

9. Twelve year old, Audrey Maeng has waited a long time, for this night, to rid herself of that gnat of a ghost. Grandma said that it came twelve years ago, during the year of the horse, and could only be cleansed under that sign. Looking at the open drawers of the dresser, with her recently folded clothing hanging out, she is more determined than ever. But Audrey will learn that some horses have a mind of their own as--do some ghosts.

10. Audrey Maeng used to love Chinese New Year. But now that she's an executive for a global corporation that does its manufacturing in China, she just sees it as an annoying week of no work getting done. Can three spirits help Audrey remember the true meaning of Chinese New Year? Also: an amnesiac parrot.

11. When Audrey Maeng's DRAGON ONE ship malfunctioned somewhere over Saturn, she knew she was in for an adventure. Now she's in some crazy city where people are chasing after her, trying to set her tails on fire. How will she get out of this with her virtue intact? Also, singing crawdads.

12. Audrey has been trapped inside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for three weeks. Everyday is Chinese New Year. Has her aunt been practicing black magic to win at blackjack again, or is her aunt's ex-husband, the washed up "magician" back in town?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

There are three Chinese students at Calla Lily Elementary, [so it's decided that the school play will be The Mikado, a decision that sparks the 3rd Sino-Japanese War.] but Audrey Maeng isn't one of them. A Korean-American girl, Audrey is extremely frustrated that her classmates (and teachers!) can't seem to understand that Asia is made up of different countries. [Of course it is. There's China, and . . . some other Asian countries.] The last straw comes when the principal asks Audrey to be the host of the school's Chinese New Year Festival... and her costume, of all things, is a kimono. [Seems like the kimono would be more annoying if Audrey were Chinese.] [How does Audrey know the three Chinese students and several other kids haven't already declined the request to host the festival?]

As much as Audrey would like to refuse and write an angry letter to the school board, [You did say she was in elementary school, right?] she doesn't want to get in trouble for refusing. [Not clear why she'd get in trouble.] And, okay, she could use the extra credit. With the approval and assistance of Yahong Li, the [Vietnamese] student in charge of coordinating everything, Audrey plants a few small "mistakes": changed lettering on the signs, some misplaced firecrackers, ["Misplaced" means temporarily lost. Is that what you mean? Or do you mean strategically placed?] fortune cookies. Nothing too big. Just a few jokes for anyone paying attention.

But when the Festival arrives, everything falls apart in the worst way. The lettering translates to insults Audrey didn't realize beforehand. The firecrackers go off too early, and nearly burn down the stage. Even the fortune cookies are predicting doom and disaster for the people who open them. [Just to up the stakes a bit, change that last sentence to: And the explosive charges in the fortune cookies maim all the students in Mrs. Patrick's 1st grade class.] [I don't see how the doom-predicting fortunes can be an example of things falling apart; Audrey did know what the fortunes said, right?]

Audrey wanted to make a point, but she didn't mean to ruin Chinese New Year. [Actually, the three jokes you list do seem more likely to make a mess than to make a point. If her point is that not everyone who looks Asian is Chinese, the time to make it was when she was asked to be host, by telling the principal, "No thanks, but I'll be happy to host the Hangeul Proclamation Day Festival, you bigoted jerk."] Now, with the principal furious and Yahong refusing to speak to her, [She did have Yahong's approval and assistance for her jokes.] Audrey has to fix what she's done -- and fast. [None of what was done sounds fixable. The best she can do is hire a political damage-control team.]

AUDREY MAENG AND THE CHINESE NEW YEAR [FESTIVAL] is a middle grade contemporary novel complete at 50,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Audrey Maeng Ruins the Chinese New Year Festival? 
How Audrey Maeng Ruined the Chinese New Year Festival? 
I'm Not Chinese, You Idiots!?

Hard to believe Audrey didn't know what the lettering translated to. Did she just make random symbols? Seems more likely she'd decide what she wanted the signs to say and ask Yahong to translate into Chinese.

If it's a middle grade book, why set it at an elementary school? Especially as wanting to write an angry letter to the school board and pulling pranks like changing the signs and the fortunes strike me as middle or even high school. Can you include Audrey's age/grade?

Wouldn't the student "in charge of coordinating everything," and not the principal, be the person who recruits a host?

The query's okay, and the point being made is worthwhile, but what could possibly make Audrey think that when people go to this Chinese New Year Festival and see her joke signs and read their joke fortunes and hear the ill-timed firecrackers, they're gonna think, Hmm, I now realize there are many unique cultures in Asia. Does Audrey do anything that might help the uninformed to realize that?

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17. Feedback Request


The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1208 has posted a new version in the comments there, and requests your feedback.

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18. Evil Editor Classics


Guess the Plot

Sea Urchin

1. Despite her adoption by a loving family of bee keepers, young Queenie has always dreamed of transformation and an enchanted life beneath the sea. She regrets this wish when she wakes on her 16th birthday covered in poisonous spines.

2. A convict is released from prison so that he can work in the garden of a young widow. It's part of a new enlightened corrections policy. But will he risk losing this soft gig when he meets a girl who can change into a seal?

3. When her mother is drowned by a drift net, Alyissya the dolphin is left an orphan. Alone, scared, she must swim her way through the reef of sharks and hostile pods to her aunt Shaaya and safety.

4. At age seven, merkid Oliver Nemo's shark-brained merparents swam off into the sunset, never to return. A lucky break on “Mariana Trench's Got Talent” kept him off the streets. Now, puberty--and poverty, if his voice breaks--loom. What to do? Fagan-Fish has an idea, but Oliver doesn't like it at all.

5. When an oil drilling operation threatens the reef, plucky Sammy Sea Urchin organizes a flotilla of sharks, jelly fish and sting rays to send the invaders packing.

6. Lily, A young homeless child, lives by the sea and is referred to as "sea urchin" because she has no family and doesn't bathe. One day a mermaid jumps out of the sea and informs Lily that her father owns a prosperous water treatment facility. Lily finds her dad and ends up inheriting the business.



Original Version

Dear Mr Editor,

"Sea Urchin" is a YA historical fantasy, complete at 57,000 words.

Sixteen-year-old Davie is transported to Australia as punishment for pickpocketing, [Suddenly I'm thinking of becoming a pickpocket.] but in the remote boys' prison he finds opportunities he never thought he'd have. [Like interacting with a kangaroo.]



He works hard in school and leaning [learning] a trade in the workshops, convinced this is the key to becoming a respectable citizen. But when he befriends fellow-prisoner Jimmy, Davie loses his focus. He skips school, [When you're in a prison you can skip school? Suddenly I'm thinking of applying for the position of truant officer in an Australian boys' prison.] and makes mistakes in the workshop. Yet he also saves himself from drowning despite being unable to swim. [You add this as if it's evidence that he hasn't gone totally bad, when even a punk hoodlum would try hard to save himself from drowning.] [Don't they have lifeguards at Australian prison swimming pools?] Jimmy's a bad influence, but he [Davie] can't help being drawn to him. For, unknown to Davie, Jimmy is a selkie, a seal boy trapped on land far from his skin, and his magic is causing all Davie's woes. [His magic can't get him out of the prison? What can it do?] [What woes are we talking about?]

When Jimmy kills another boy to protect Davie, the seal boy goes into hiding. [What kind of prison is this? Prisoners can hide and not be found?] Davie sneaks him food, but Jimmy has been away from the sea for too long, and fades while Davie looks on, helpless. Then Davie is sent away, to work as a gardener for a young widow who wants to mother him. [A prison that sends a prisoner away to work for a young widow? If that happened in America, the woman would get butchered, the story would lead off every news program for a week, and everyone from the warden to Barack Obama would lose his job.] Convinced there is nothing more he can do for Jimmy, he applies himself to his new work. But then a chance meeting with a seal girl forces Davie to make a choice: stay with the widow who'll give him the new start he desires [Gardening for a woman who wants to mother him is the new start he desires? I thought he was learning a trade in a prison workshop.] [Then again, perhaps he enjoys plowing her furrows.] or throw away his new life for a slight chance he might yet save Jimmy's life? [That was a question?]

(Cool stuff about me [, which I'm hoping will happen so I don't have to make it up.])

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

It wouldn't hurt to mention when the story is set.

Not clear how Davie's chance meeting with a seal girl helps Jimmy. And what are the odds that one kid meets a seal boy and then a few weeks later has a chance meeting with a seal girl? Unless there are millions of these wereseals. Also, I thought wereseals were native to the North Atlantic. Yet Davie meets two of them in Australia?

If they're called selkies, why are you calling them seal boys and seal girls and wereseals?

Jimmy faded away weeks ago. How's Davie gonna find him?

If I had an arrangement to send criminals to Australia as punishment, I think I'd want assurances that they'd receive some punishment, not spend three weeks in Club Med and then get live-in gardening positions with young widows. I'd save the transportation costs and have them tend my garden.

If selkies fade away when they're away from the sea, you wouldn't think they'd risk getting thrown into a prison they can't get out of.

If I had the option of being in human form or seal form, I'd be a seal all the time. All you have to do is swim, eat and balance balls on your nose.


Selected Comments

AlaskaRavenclaw said...I don't wish to offend, but there has been a lot coming out lately about a certain nation's habit of sending children off to Australia where they were punished severely for, basically, being born poor.

This went on for aeons, so yeah, a date would be nice. Was this during the 19th century, when Australia was a penal colony, or during the 20th century, when the importation of British waifs was a form of demographic warfare?

That aside, this is another of those queries that goes all over the place, and it's hard to tell if the issue is with the novel or the query. The events listed in the query don't seem to follow logically from one another.

The same ol' advice: Sum your novel up in a single sentence, less than 20 words long. Build your query upward from there.

EE, the lot of a seal in Alaska is not a happy one. There are (despite what you hear about Alaskan Men) few balls, and lots of bullets.



Evil Editor said...Alaska? I would be a seal in Sea World.


Anonymous said...I think this story could be good if the query just explained some of the things EE mentioned. How is the seal girl connected with Jimmy? Why does Jimmy's magic draw Davie? Is Jimmy doing it, or is it just that everyone is drawn to seal boys. What time frame is this or is it like an alternate reality Earth?

Just clear some of those up, and I think it could be a cute story.


Dave said...When I read this: Sixteen-year-old Davie is transported to Australia as punishment for pickpocketing I knew that the story was set in the past when Australia was a prison colony.
I've known a few Australians in my time, a couple with two kids, a guy and his girlfriend, and Bruce the anarchist. They all were descendants of "POME" which is so say, they all had DREAD FAMILY SECRET... My problem with the query is that I get no sense of the character of Davie, Jimmy or Mrs Widow. That Davie goes from would-be thief to productive member of society is a tried and true story. The selkies add a bit of uniqueness but not beyond other stories out there.

I presume this is a coming of age novel about Jimmie. That should be the focus of your story. How Jimmie's interactions with Australia, selkies and Mrs Widow help him grow up.


Anonymous said...You don't get to the fantasy "seal boy" parts until the bottom of the second paragraph--that's a pretty important piece of information. Surprises and slow build-ups are for the novel itself; I wouldn't rely on delayed big reveals in a query. If the agent/editor isn't interested in the setup of boys being shipped to Australian prisons to apprentice in workshops, they might not even get to the central conflict.


R.T. said...I like the feel of the query. It sounds like an enjoyable tale.

There's a few loose ends in the query, which may be answered in the book. 0. How old is Davy? 1. Why does it matter that Davy almost drowns. Is this an example of one of his mishaps, or relevant to the plot? 2. Jimmy sounded dead, then may not be: it's confusing. 3. EE's point about Davy learning a trade, then dumping it to be a gardener: it doesn't make sense, unless he is really young and needs to have a family life.


Jo-Ann said...

1. Many convicts were not sentenced for the term of their natural lives - but as the British crown failed to provide for their return passage once they'd served out the sentence, (or gained a pardon), then they had to find a job somewhere (although the cost of the return fare was so huge that they might as well have been trying to fly to the moon). Perhaps D had been released by the time he became a gardener?
2. Alternately, many convicts worked in servitude in the wealthy settlers' home and lands. D might have been assigned the gardening post on the understanding that it involved ploughing a field by hand or something, and our sympathetic widow let him tend her roses instead.
Overall, I think it's an interesting premise. In my youth in Aust, kids had a wide choice of worthy novels set during the convict era (and goldrush days, too), and the genre became terribly passe by the 80's. It might well be time for a resurgence! One with a fantasy theme sounds fresh, to me.


Ink and Pixel Club said...I don't see the connection between Davie becoming less focused on his quest to become an upstanding citizen and Jimmy and his magic. If Jimmy is a bad influence on Davie, say so. The only thing you mention that happens to Davie that could be attributed to Jimmy's magic is Davie being able to save himself from drowning, which strikes me as a good thing.

A little more background on the threat posed by the kid Jimmy kills would help me decide if I still sympathize with Jimmy and want Davie to save his life.

Why does Davie have to choose between his new life with the widow and getting the selkie girl to help Jimmy? Can't he just bring the selkie girl to Jimmy, have her do whatever she has to in order to save him, and then go back to the widow? Usually these end of query "either/or" scenarios present two mutually exclusive options: the hero can join the resistance or side with her tyrant father, the soldier can go home to his old life and his dependable sweetheart or try to make a life for himself in a war zone with the woman he's madly in love with, the weredingo can roam free and accept all the risks of life in the wild or stay with EE and give up freedom for regular meals and plenty of furniture to destroy. What you have now sounds more like "Davie can either eat pancakes or drink orange juice."

Focus more on the friendship between Davie and Jimmy, so we can see why they care about each other enough to kill and potentially give up a lucrative gardening career.


D Jason Cooper said...You have to put a year. An orphaned child who pick pocketed (which, btw, is a skilled crime, not for an amateur)would be put in a home and from there sent to Australia. Thus, this story could be anywhere from the 19th century up to the 1960's. If it is the earlier period, then he would not be sent to a 'young widow,' to work. She would have a marriage semi-arranged for her by her church, probably Anglican/C of E which was most closely associated with such bureaucratic largess at least until the great Irish Catholic influx into the Public Service (bureaucracy) and all the accusations of Catholic infiltration that that involved.
The selkie is a North Atlantic mythical figure whose stories are normally romantic tragedies. Are these boys gay and you forgot to mention it? Seriously.
And why does a selkie wind up in Australia and Aboriginal mythical figures don't show up or even ask WTF? Certainly there was segregation in Australia, but did it apply to mythical figures as well?
If Thor goes to Greece, he will meet Hercules. If he goes to Egypt, he will meet an Egyptian god. Why doesn't the selkie meet Aboriginal mythical figures?
For that matter, when you've got Jimmie (why are their names all diminutive?) as the only selkie, you might have something. When you add a second one I think that degrades the idea. Suddenly, how many are there? Do they know each other? How do the selkies feel about their own number being sent off like this? Suddenly Davie becomes peripheral to his own story, at least in the query.
Speaking of which, is this a YA novel? I just get the impression you are aiming at an audience who is Davie's (16yo?) age rather than older audience thinking back to when they were that age.


Evil Editor said...Speaking of which, is this a YA novel? See the first sentence. Or the label at the end.


D Jason Cooper said...1) The fact the character is 16 does not mean it is YA. Taxi has a very young protagonist, I wouldn't let my YA child read or watch that story. 2) Evil Editor said it was YA as categorization, I don't see where it was said in the query.


Evil Editor said...As I said, it's in the first sentence: "Sea Urchin" is a YA historical fantasy . . .


Anonymous said...I think that the first thing that you need to do is do a bit more research into Australian history. Even if your story is set in relatively modern times, describing something as a "remote boys' prison" and then telling me that there is a selkie there makes me stop and go, what? Remote in Australia means REMOTE. It means, generally, no where at all near the sea. How did he get there? (And where did he find enough water to nearly drown in?)

Secondly, if this is historical, then I find it very difficult to believe that he would have been treated as well as he seems to be in this synopsis. Prisoners were used in work gangs and hired out as domestic servants, but learning a trade..? I'm not entirely convinced that that would be normal. Also, if this is particularly early in the period, there just aren't going to be that many widows wandering around, because there weren't that many women in Australia at that point. If her husband died when she was there, if she was rich she would probably have packed up and gone back to England; if she wasn't, well, she'd be having some problems, because there was no such thing as gender equality back then.

Someone else already mentioned this, but it might be nice to see at least some reference to aboriginals.


BuffySquirrel said...I assumed the selkie got there by transportation, same as Davie. As for the sea, I believe there's quite a lot round Tasmania.

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19. Evil Editor Classics


Guess the Plot

No

1. Two dogs attempt to speak in English, but their vocabulary is so small . . . hilarity ensues.

2. A complete guide to successful parenting, from toddler to teen.

3. Look, let's just cut to the chase and say that this is my answer to your query.

4. Convicted of treason in the Andromeda galaxy, Lachette is given the ultimate sentence: banishment to Earth! Her response upon learning this: "NOOOOOooooooooo!"

5. An author attempts reverse psychology to sell a novel about the childhood of an evil genius as an autobiography. It's a meta thing.

6. Whether it followed your sales pitch, marriage proposal or drunken pick-up line, if anyone's ever asked you, "What part of 'no' don't you understand?" then this is the book for you. Over 300 pages of clear explanations and real-life examples, plus chapters on etymology, pronunciation and spelling. Soon you'll be able to answer, "Baby, I'm an expert."



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When Lachette, one of a species of humanoid aliens composed entirely of fire called Fianites, [And you thought you were burned out?] [Is it the species or the fire that's called Fianites?] is banished from her home planet in the Andromeda Galaxy [If she was on her home planet, why is she referred to as an alien?] for high treason, she is sent to Earth. Her crime: revealing the planet's most highly guarded secrets to the enemy in the midst of war. [In the midst of war, a space ship would have better uses than transporting a criminal to another galaxy.] [I've never thought of planets as having highly guarded secrets, though admittedly, our scientists are always trying to figure out what causes the strange noises coming from Uranus.] [What are Earth's most highly guarded secrets, and from whom are we guarding them?] [Apparently we haven't even been able to keep the fact that Earth is the perfect place to send your worst criminals secret from planets in the Andromeda galaxy.] After befriending a few humans--two girls named Rex and Kaz, [Would a human name a girl Rex?] and two boys named Justin and Andre--she dodges the United States Armed Forces as she keeps in contact with her best friend and princess of the planet of Fianate, Zatini. [Wouldn't Zatini die of old age in the time it takes Lachette's first message to get to Fianate?] [Also, isn't Zatini a pasta?] All together, they gather evidence, examine it, and send it back to the Elder Council of Fianate to prove Lachette's innocence [There's evidence of Lachette's innocence on Earth?] and uncover the one who framed her, all this within a deadline. [Twenty-seven light years.] [Yes, smartass, I'm aware light years are a measure of distance, not time, but would you have thought it was as funny if I'd said Twenty-seven exaseconds?] [(One exasecond = 32 billion years.)] She has one month to leave American territory or the President will give clearance to hunt her down and capture her as United States property. [Why has she been dodging the US military if they haven't yet been given clearance to capture her?] [Also, the US is already crawling with millions of illegal aliens. We hardly ever manage to capture any.]

No is the completed second book in the unfinished Uncertainties Series at 52,016 words. [There's nothing Uncertain about No; change the title to Maybe, Maybe Not. Or is that the title of the first book?] [Also, as an homage to to the Uncertainty Principle, change Zatini's name to Heisenberg.]

Thank you for your time.


Notes

I wasn't sure if this was a real novel until I realized that "RexKazJustinAndreLachette" could be anagrammed to form "EE in drunk sex tryst in Uzbekistan."


Selected Comments

Anonymous said...It's clear that you've got a plot, always good, but what happens is so vaguely described and generic to the genre, I find myself focused on the only specifics: your seemingly random assortment of character names.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...So this is set in a Fianite universe, eh?

Lose that penultimate graf. Oh do you need to lose that penultimate graf. Or else change it to "NO is complete at 52,000 words." It's true that's a little on the short side for anything but middle grades, but those extra 16 words aren't going to help much.

And you probably don't want to start out by making the agent wonder why you're querying the second novel of a series.


Misty Nelson said...I agree that the query is vague and also wonder why you're querying the second book in a series? Was the first book published? If so you need to mention it and, if not, you need to start querying that book. If the books are standalone (meaning the connection is they happen in the same universe but with different characters) then you should make this the first book and query it as such.

Other than that it does sound pretty generic. I'm not saying it IS generic, just that the query is so vague that it doesn't tell me what makes it unique in the SciFi Universe. It's a good start though and sounds really interesting! :)


BuffySquirrel said...Sometimes I think the minions are better at writing Guess the Plots than at writing queries. Some great ones here.

If this query successfully represents the novel, then the novel has problems (aside from being a bit short). Wouldn't a being composed entirely of fire destroy everything it came into contact with? What sustains the fire--fires need fuel. Presumably Lachette doesn't arrive here in fire form, or she wouldn't have any friends, merely carbon copies of them.

Hah. No, seriously, a being entirely composed of fire? What does it think with?


batgirl said...Yeah, I'm still trying to visualise a humanoid made of fire. If you're made of fire, why would you have a fixed form at all, let alone a humanoid one? Sure, the Human Torch looked human, but that's because he had that solid form, just sometimes it was on fire. I think.

If I were made of fire, I'd rather have an avian (avianoid?) form.

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20. Face-Lift 1215


Guess the Plot

The Matter That You Read

1. One physicist's love story, told through peer-reviewed journal articles.

2. A woman in Edwardian England needs a new servant after her latest servants quit. She goes on the Internet and orders a unit that she hopes will satisfy her needs, but it has no hands, and doesn't speak. It can't even teleport, so...ah, never mind. My plot makes no more sense than the title.

3. One day, Yoda has a brain fart disguised as a cerebral aneurysm. That day, his critical job to monitor the matter/antimatter engine suffers. All gauges glowing green is optimal, but when the engine hiccups everything turns red. The Captain calls for a prognosis. "An anastrophe, it is. The matter that you read the gauge it is."

4. Reed has that rarest of all literary gifts – he can read the fate of anyone he meets in the detritus found in their pockets. The problem arises when Evil Editor, curse his wicked proofreading skills, confuses Reed’s sense of tense, and now Reed can’t tell if he’s going to read their fate, or has already read…The matter that you resd.

5. The Red Shoes, The Red Violin, The Red Badge of Courage… all classic works, involving choices resonating through the ages. The National Enquirer? The Globe or the Star, or any other of . . . the matter that you read? Yeah… Not so much…

6. Carly Porter is a proofreader for a drug company. She has to make sure all the diseases and side effects and ingredients are spelled correctly in the fine print in those ads you see in magazines. When she meets hunky Chet Baines, it's love at first sight. But will his atrocious spelling on Twitter doom their relationship?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Any human servant would choose the workhouse over Evlalia – and her most recent two just have.

She sacrificed hours informing them of every flaw. But her words were wasted on people, as usual. At least she didn't dare to make a positive start: it would clearly have gone to waste as well. [No idea what that last sentence means.]

No High person makes their own food [Actually, when I'm high, food is my top priority, although I'll admit that sometimes I can't be bothered to make food when I can just open a bag of Doritos and crush them over a carton of Cherry Garcia.] or laces their own corsets. [Never lace your own corset when you're high. You end up as tangled as an octopus caught in a fishing net. I've heard.] Evlalia needs a new servant, and a magic one will have to do. [Ah, so Evlalia is a character. When you said someone would choose the workhouse over Evlalia, I assumed Evlalia was a place. I mean, if I said to you, "Any idiot would prefer Tokyo to Thaliponia," wouldn't you think Thaliponia was a place? Wouldn't you be so certain Thaliponia was a place, that even when I used a pronoun in the next sentence you'd think I was talking about a character whose name I haven't mentioned yet, or possibly the idiot in the first sentence? Wouldn't it shock you to later find out Thaliponia is my pet iguana? Of course it would. You'd never suspect me of comparing apples to oranges in sentence 1.] [Perhaps you want something like: Yet another of Evlalia's servants has walked out on her. People are so ungrateful. She sacrificed hours informing him of his every flaw.] [Also, there's no need to specify that the servants who quit were human. We'll assume they're human unless you say otherwise, and even if we don't, we'll figure it out in the next line when you call them people.] [Even after I know Evlalia is a character, the fact that you referred to her servants as human is going to have me thinking Evlalia is a Klingon or a Romulan.]

Part metal, part human, a 'unit' is a magical servant summoned [Ordered?] from the Internet. They come with unique software: some read or run faster than a forming thought, others grow their toenails or eyelashes six times faster than normal. [When a woman purchases a unit, I suspect it's not the toenails she wants to grow really fast.]

Buying a unit so damaged it's considered unsellable? [If it was considered unsellable, whom did she buy it from?] At least he needs her too much to ever leave. And itreminds everyone that Evlalia picks the road less travelled, even if it leads over a cliff. [As I understand it, a properly utilized unit takes the passenger down the most-traveled road, across the plateau and definitely over a cliff.]

Her new unit is Tace, and he can teleport. At least he could, before his old user left him without handsand on a ventilator.  [Why would the old user or the new user want a servant without hands? Did he have robotic hands that can be replaced?] Thanks to Evlalia [Has anyone else noticed that Evlalia is what it would sound like if you said "Evil Editor" while eating a bagel?] he no longer passes out after twenty seconds, but he still waits on the roof every night for his old user to come back.

Evlalia's words stop her disappearing into just another average, replaceable person; [Strange, as you've declared that her words are wasted on people.] Tace's muteness is more voluntary than everyone thought, and his body is built around being able to disappear at will. Friendship between them was a risk neither planned to take; it just seemed to happen, like the cutting remarks Evlalia always assumed she could keep back if she tried. [I feel like I'm disappearing into a black hole. Not that I know what that would feel like.]
 
Not being able to dismiss people makes interaction complicated; as Evlalia meets other units, she's relieved to find them just as easy to offend as humans. [How many units can one woman handle?] Being installed with dictionaries and perfect memories just seems a bonus.

Kyrillos can read every blood vessel pumping in Evlalia's neck, and when his domination over his user is questioned he knows exactly which artery to pinch shut. [Who is his user? Why are we interested in him?]
 
Halimeda can read every regretted word and past mistake in Evlalia's mind, and when the motives of her sudden friendship with Tace are questioned she knows exactly what Evlalia wants left unsaid. [Suddenly we're meeting new characters, but we don't know anything they do. Why would Evlalia want to be anywhere near them?]
 
Tactful silence might save Evlalia's life, [from what?] but also makes her indistinguishable from everyone else. That less travelled road does end in a cliff – and it might be better to jump.


THE MATTER THAT YOU READ is a 130,000 word slice of life/urban fantasy novel, [The title makes no sense. What does it mean?] set in an alternate Edwardian England. [It's exactly like Edwardian England, but with androids, the Internet, software . . . Actually, wouldn't it be easier to just say it's exactly like the year 2030, except that women wear corsets?]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

130,000 words, and all you can tell us about the story is that a mean woman replaces her servants with a junky unit?

You need a story. If you have a story, you need to summarize it for us. What is Evlalia's goal? What's preventing her from achieving it? What's her plan? What are the consequences if she fails? Why should we care about her at all? How does she grow in the story? What decision does she have to make? These are the elements of her story. All you've provided is her situation. Start over.

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21. Feedback Request


A new version of the query featured in Face-Lift 1214 has been posted in the comments there, and awaits your input.

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22. Evil Editor Classics


The All-Evil Editor Shopping Channel (part 1)


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23. Evil Editor Classics


The All-Evil Editor Shopping Channel (part 2)



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24. Evil Editor Classics


The All-Evil Editor Shopping Channel (part 3)


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25. Evil Editor Classics



Query Letters I've Received that Focused on the Wrong Aspects of the Books


Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my novel, complete at 107,832 words, according to the word counter on Microsoft Word. However, I've checked it with two other online word counters, and they've given different values, of 108,011 words and 107,943 words.

I thought the inconsistency could be down to the way the different counters deal with hyphenated words - I have one character who stutters, saying things like "p-p-plastering", so that might be the problem. However, replacing that character's dialogue with complete words yielded different results: 107,534, 107,945 and 107,841.

Another character mutters, which I've rendered by running words into each other, like "notbloodylikely". Changing that character's dialogue to normal word spacing upped the word count to 109,307, 109,788 and 109,411. Changing the mutterer's and the stutterer's dialogue gave me word counts of 109,023, 109,624, and 109,307.

This gives a mean word count, across all four variations and three counters, of 108,630.67. However, I notice we also have a modal word count of 109,307. Since this is within one standard deviation (805.9653115) of the mean value, I intend to accept this as the definitive word count, subject to further statistical sampling.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Steve Wright


Dear Evil Editor,

I have spent five years writing a novel but spent a lifetime preparing for it.

I am a Dartmouth graduate with a B.A. in Electrical Engineering with a Robotics emphasis. As you are undoubtedly aware, Dartmouth is renowned for its scholars. To name only a few: Chris Miller, writer for National Lampoon and co-writer of Animal House; Jean Passanante, Head Writer for As the World Turns and recipient of Writer Guilds of America Award in 2007; David Benioff, screenwriter Troy, Stephen Geller, screenwriter Slaughterhouse-Five, and Fred Rogers, creator of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, (he dropped out before graduating, however). Although, Dartmouth has many other famous graduates, I only named the few you would be familiar with.

I am unsure how many students at Dartmouth are the offspring of the rich and famous; I assure you that I am not one of them, having acquired a huge debt, (approximately $50,000 per quarter). I am, therefore, ‘in touch’ with your readership even though I graduated from an IVY LEAGUE UNIVERSITY.

Founded in 1767 and located in New Hampshire, Dartmouth has a flexible, unique calendar, (a quarter system), which gave me time to write and thoroughly edit my novel, while other students, (60%), used this flexibility to study abroad.

May I submit a partial or complete manuscript?

Vivian Whetham


Dear Evil Editor

Please consider representing my novel, The Choice to Change. You may wonder why this novel is set in a casino in Reno, rather than in one of the many worthwhile and often shiny casinos run by Native Americans, or even in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. There are so many potential settings for a casino novel that I vacillated for a long time before finally settling on Reno, which offers many advantages to the novelist, not least that it hasn't appeared in nearly so many films and tv shows as its competitors. If you ever watched CSI, you would know that it's got Las Vegas all over it, and who can compete with that? If I even tried to put my fictional Galloping Ghost Slots casino in Las Vegas, lots of readers might point out that there's no room for it. And while my mother always said that she was one-fifty-first Cherokee, I have reservations about whether that gives me sufficient insight into Native American culture to venture, even fictitiously, into one of their casinos. So Reno it is--insufficiently famous to trip me up and white enough for me to write about!

Thank you and have a game of blackjack on me.

BuffySquirrel


Dear Evil Editor,

My novel makes Henry Miller’s work look like a sexual wannabe out on a new angle hunt. Makes the Kama Sutra look like the daydreams of a bunch of newbies with pretzely ideas about how to do, you know…IT. My novel makes D. H. Lawrence read like the underlying prude he undoubtedly was, and as for this genre called erotica that people are talking about now, I mean, COME ON, you gotta be kidding. Most of the people writing that schlock read like the only sex they’ve ever had was in their own beds, lights out, covers tucked up to their chins, and they were in bed all alone, know what I mean?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Robin S.


Dear Evil Editor:

Let's cut to the chase. I'm considered a good-looking guy. Very good looking. And if you know anything about publicity and the entertainment world, you know that looks is everything. Attractive people have an advantage in this world. How else do you explain the crowds who watch Anna Kournikova play tennis? Or that Keanu Reeves is a movie star? Why do the highest-paying modeling jobs always seem to go to good-looking people?

This phenomenon applies as well to the writing world. Good-looking authors draw bigger crowds at book signings. They get more invitations to speak at conventions. They have an angelic aura about them that makes people want to read their books. That's how it always has been and always will be. People love to bask in the beauty of beautiful people.

I remember one time I read a great review of a book and ordered it from Amazon.com. When it came I discovered that the back-cover flap had a photograph of the author, who looked, to put it kindly, like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island. I couldn't read it. Just knowing that photograph was there soured it for me. If I'd picked it up in a bookstore I never would have bought it.

Think about the handsomest men you've ever seen. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Fabio... I make them all look like the Elephant Man. Women will buy my book, Crossing Broad, just so they can gaze at my photograph on the back cover. Men will buy it to cut off the back cover and paste it over their own faces.

May I send some head-shots?

Harper Scott

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