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

Round 1, Day 5 

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

Click on ads to enlarge them. 

"BLOG" BRACKET (Bottom Half)

Game 17: Phone vs. Infinity

Game 17: Diet vs. Croissant 

Game 17: Breakfast vs. Severed Head

Game 17: Sauna vs. Friends

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2. March Adness Continues

Round 1, Day 4 

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

Click on ads to enlarge them. 


Game 13: Roses vs. Beach

Game 14: Tattoo vs. Cafe

Game 15: Daydream vs. Coaster

Game 16: Welder vs. Juices

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3. March Adness Continues

Round 1, Day 3 

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

Click on ads to enlarge them.


Game 9: Baby EE vs. Fire

Game 10: Chefs vs. Look of Love

Game 11: ePod vs. Eau de Toilet

Game 12:  Ink vs. Spew Shield

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4. Face-Lift 1251

Guess the Plot

The Door

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. MARCH ADNESS! Round 1, Day 2

March Adness Continues. 

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


Game 5: Old Brit vs. Young Blonde

Game 6: Passengers vs. Decision

Game 7: Sales Kid vs. Bathroom Guy

Game 8: Classics vs. Masters

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6. MARCH ADNESS, Round 1, Day 1

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

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

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


Game 1: Bubble Bath vs Magic Lamp

Game 2: Joyous Woman vs. Big Ben

Game 3: Mime Trio Vs. Water Cooler

Game 4: Smitten Kitten Vs. Sexy Dude

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7. Sherlock Holmes vs. EE

Click strip to enlarge.

Evil Editor Strips Again. Available at the EE Bookstore.

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8. Feedback Request

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

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

Dear (agent),

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

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

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

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


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9. New Beginning 1041

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10. Apply Now!


Evil Editor's Creative Writing Summer Camp 

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

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


Field trips to EE's Slushpile Mountain

Writing exercises critiqued by EE himself

Sports Activities

Weekly Campfires

Each session is only $5999.99


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

Ask about our 2-session discount.

Apply now - Spaces are limited.

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

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11. Evil Editor's African Pitch Sessions

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12. Scene from Evil Editor's forthcoming graphic novel starring Hercule Parrot

Click toon to enlarge.

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13. Evil Editor's New Board Game

The game that prepares you 
for your career in publishing.

Click box to enlarge.

Whether you're an editor or a literary agent, an aspiring author or a best-seller, a publisher or an indy bookstore owner, sooner or later you're gonna want to kill someone. So play the game that lets you do just that.

That's all I've got so far, the box and the concept. What I need from you is the text that'll go on the cards (think Chance in Monopoly) 

or the board spaces (think the game of Life).

Those are just examples. Yours should be funnier. Submit as comments.

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14. Feedback Request

Revision of query featured in Face-Lift 1248

Dear Evil Vortex of Evil:

Wayward Collins has worked hard to stay a nobody. But that’s about to change.

Victorian London is a city of ghosts and demons, where unmagickals like Wayward are expendable. Wayward’s built his life around staying well away from everyone’s troubles except his own, but that all changes when [You've just said almost exactly what you said in the first two sentences. Which means you can dump the first two sentences.] a mistake one night leaves him blackmailed into the service of the wizard Lord Cadogan. ["A mistake leaves him blackmailed" is an awkward phrasing. I'm not sure we need the blackmail in the query anyway; if a wizard wants your services, you don't argue, even if he has nothing on you.] Aristocratic and powerful, Cadogan is everything Wayward despises, and he immediately plans to escape. But then one of Cadogan’s footmen is murdered by magical means, and Cadogan takes it upon himself to seek out the culprit. [Why? Would Sauron drop everything to seek the person who murdered one of his orcs? I tried a Darth Vader analogy earlier, but it didn't take.] Wayward might not have magic, but he has plenty of useful arcane knowledge, so Cadogan forces Wayward to assist him. [Useful arcane knowledge that Cadogan doesn't have?]

Wayward is determined to remain uncooperative. But being at Cadogan’s side marks him as a player, and his being involved in the murder investigation draws even more attention. Plenty of people are interested in whether Wayward can be bought or coerced into using his position to their advantage, [His position as a lowly non-magical servant? Hey Wayward, how about getting your wizard boss to make me some gold and jewels and kill my enemies.] and the anonymity that’s always kept him safe begins to crumble. Wayward’s default has always been flight not fight, but with Cadogan breathing down his neck and a non-magical police inspector sure that both Cadogan and Wayward know more than they’re letting on, escape is looking less and less likely. The only option is to do what he’s spent his life avoiding, and get involved—help Cadogan solve the case, try to outfox the police, and figure out how to use his new situation for his own gain. 

It’s a dangerous game for a nobody. It will cost him the secrecy he’s worked so hard to protect, [His anonymity crumbled in the previous paragraph, so it's a little late to worry about it now.] and the security that came with it. Even if Wayward does make it through all in one piece, his old life might not be waiting for him when he gets back. [Is that what he wants? His old life as a nobody? We want to read about someone with higher aspirations.]

Complete at 80,000 words, CHALK CIRCLES is the first of a planned series, but will also work as a standalone. It will appeal to fans of Catherine Webb, Benedict Jacka and Charlie Fletcher. [Never heard of any of them. But then I don't get out much.] I am a remote reader for Creative Authors Ltd, as well as a freelance editor and ghostwriter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


With Cadogan breathing down Wayward's neck, how can all these other people try to buy or coerce him into assisting them in anything?

The noun Unmagickal has a "k" while the adjective non-magical doesn't. Just another reason the English language is unfathomable to the French. Actually, the word "Unmagickal" makes me think of the word "jackal."

All of that said, it's an improvement. Take out stuff that isn't essential and give Wayward a decent goal.

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15. Feedback Request

Dear Evil Editor,

Please post this new attempt at Face-Lift 1219 for you and your minions. I have taken your comments to heart and continue struggling to improve this query. Hopefully, this latest attempt is closer to the right path.

Dustin Leahry watched the four men on horseback, knowing they’d reach for their guns. His knack for finding trouble that wasn't his own had him facing death again. Usually it took more than twenty-four hours for the stakes to raise this high. But he knew Shelly Cartwright was trouble of the special kind when he first laid eyes on her. [As I recall, the trouble is of the special kind because her land is the last that Benson doesn't own,  not because of what she looks like.] [Change "raise" to "rise" or "get."] [This is reading like an excerpt from the book, possibly the opening lines of the book. We want a summary of the story, not just one scene.]

Shelly hired Dustin the night before, bringing the number of men working her ranch to ten. Ten men working a thirty-thousand acre spread was hard enough. [So each of the men has to work 3000 acres?It takes my four lawn guys about an hour to work my one-acre spread. Which means they could work forty acres in a forty-hour week. That works out to ten acres per man. Either mowing and weed-eating my lawn is a lot more time-consuming than rounding up stray cattle and repairing fences on 3000 acres, or I'm not working my lawn guys hard enough.] [For those who've forgotten their land conversion rates, 30,000 acres is larger than the Bronx, which has a population of 1.3 million. On the other hand, the Cartwright ranch on Bonanza was over 600,000 acres, and worked by only four guys (unless you include Hop Sing). When you added a greedy land baron like August Benson into the mix it became downright dangerous.

Shelly grew up watching her dad’s former friend take control of the ranches of Tom Greene County. Now he had his sights on the Cartwright spread.

Shelly stood tall after her dad died and her mom ran off to the big cities back East. She tightened her belt when she couldn't afford the over-priced goods in Benson’s stores. She worked side-by-side with her men to repair the damage done by his desperadoes. Determined, she’d managed to survive longer than other West Texas ranchers against the scheming of August Benson.

Despite what she’d accomplished, Dustin knew Shelly wasn’t ready to see her men killed by August Benson’s hired guns. So he drew his gun before the men on horseback reached for theirs.

Drifter: San Angelo Showdown, is set in 1885 Texas and approximately 118,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Basically, you've taken part of one brief scene from the book and inserted some backstory.

Here's a tried and true format for a query:

Paragraph 1: The setup. Introduce the main character and tell us what his situation is when things start happening. For instance...

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

Paragraph 2: The plot. How do the Cartwrights plan to hold out? Why is Dustin still hanging around? Where does their plan go awry? What's plan B? Are they in love already? What happens next?

Paragraph 3: The climax. Everything comes to a head. What happens if Dustin and Shelly fail? Succeed? What crucial difficult choice will make or break the ranch? Are you planning Drifter: Oklahoma City Showdown, or do Leahry and Shelly settle down?

Then the usual wrap-up, with the title, word count, genre.

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16. Hot Babes Holding Evil Editor's Books on Trains

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

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

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

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

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17. The Valentine Gift

Click strip to enlarge.

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18. Hot Dudes Reading Books on Beaches

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19. Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1219 has posted a new revision in the comments there, and awaits your reaction.

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20. New Beginning 1040

The car was red and shiny-bright against the dusty road. The desert stretched away on every side; pale beige dust and darker dirt, little scrubby washed-out green stumps of plants, and occasionally a saguaro cactus, tall and faded, stretching its spiked arms up towards the bright blue sky.

The car, a Mustang convertible of indeterminable age and heritage, sped northwards, billowing white dust, a shining red dragon speeding onwards through its own smoke. The driver was a slim man, tall when standing, with a young, pleasant, handsome face. His hair was dark, ruffling in the wind, and his hands were long and elegant, pianist’s fingers that gripped the steering wheel. His eyes were dark, dark, dark blue; almost black in some lights, almost turquoise in others. He gazed steadily at the empty road ahead, occasionally glancing at the girl in the passenger seat next to him.

The girl was younger than him by perhaps ten years; also slim, also tall, with the same dark, dark, dark eyes. She sat very low in the seat in a position that should have looked ungainly, but which she somehow managed to imbue with a kind of languid grace that Cleopatra would have envied. Her hair was long and straight and dark, and the wind lifted it and played with it caressingly.

‘India,’ said the driver, her uncle Matthew.

She looked across at him.

He smiled. ‘Do you want the roof down?’

She shook her head. ‘No. Just keep driving.’

‘As you wish,’ he said.

India tried to concentrate on what lay ahead. Before too long, they would leave the freeway in her mother's red Ford Mustang convertible GT/CS with dark dark leather bucket seats, passing through little dusty towns until they reached the dark dusty place where her grandfather had died in a fiery crash all those years ago. She and Matthew, the last of his descendants, would perform the ritual and honor the memory of one who died so far from home.

"Here we are," said Uncle Matthew.

So soon? Sighing, India looked up at the sign.


Opening:.Alice Smales....Continuation: Khazarkhum

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21. The Grisham Interview

It's John Grisham's birthday weekend, so what better time to revisit this rarely seen interview which was unearthed by ril back in 2009:

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22. Face-Lift 1249

Guess the Plot

The Water Still Rules

1. That old maritime saying, "Ships might sail on the surface, but the water still rules" (which I made up) inspired this story about a 17-year-old female Spartacus (even though the book has no ships or water; it does, however, have a magic tree).

2. Joy and Rock want their daughter Sylvia to take over the family drug smuggling business, but all she wants is to read pulp fiction. They hire a former teen idle to seduce her … but the plan backfires when his decapitated body washes up on the shore of their beach bungalow.

3. When Olaf Ardnolfson wakes up on an island, he has nothing but his sword, his clothes, and a vague recollection of the longship going under. He's not alone; there's a beautiful woman with a black dress and a belt of sealskin with him. But is she real--or a selkie?

4. Chloe loves the wet climate she lives in, but realizes the water has a mind of its own when her dates start disappearing on rainy nights. Are they really not that into her, or is the water a jealous and evil lover?

5. Apocalyptic Venice is overrun by masked goblins. Pierro’s sister is determined to join the goblins as their pet assassin, and his mother is too busy with her cheese business to pay attention to the goblin threat. Pierro must defeat the goblins and save Venice – but Venice has its own ideas about that.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

My YA Fantasy at 75,000 words, THE WATER STILL RULES, [My YA fantasy THE WATER STILL RULES, complete at 75,000 words] is the story of a teenage girl with magical abilities who is forced to fight as a gladiator. Spartacus meets the rich world building of Rae Carson’s A Girl of Fire and Thorns and a fierce female lead like Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. [When you say "a fierce female lead like..." you need to follow with the name of a fierce female lead, not the title of a series. You can then add the series title as in: . . . a fierce female lead like Celaena Sardothien from Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.] [Personally, I'd rather you talk about your story than liken it to Spartacus but with the Kirk Douglas role being played by Miley Cyrus.] [There's not enough to like about that paragraph to justify starting the query with it. Put the title, word count and genre toward the end. And resist mentioning Spartacus.]

For seventeen-year-old Aelia, life is a play [game] of hide-and-seek to protect the last Soultree on Earth - and the magic inside it - in the hopes that one day it will grow strong enough to aid her in freeing her people. Not like [that] she minds; hiding is better than being a slave to the Marasans – the people who took over their kingdom, enslaving or killing anyone with the ability to draw magic from the tree. [How is she protecting the tree if she's hiding? Is she the only one who knows where the tree is?] [In any case, I don't like the hide and seek analogy. 

But when she gets captured by the owner of a famous gladiator school, Saro, being a slave becomes the least of her worries. [The least? I would put it pretty close to the top of her list, right below the fact that her first match is against Borgo the Disemboweler.] Saro intends to make [back] every last [piece of] gold he spent on capturing her back by making her fight in the arena. [Why is he spending his gold capturing seventeen-year-old girl slaves who probably won't last two minutes in the arena? He should be capturing linebackers and lumberjacks.] With her family dead, her tree far away, she cannot rely on anybody but herself. To her surprise, though, she finds friends at the house. [The house?  You haven't mentioned a house? I assume you mean the school?] People who make the endless days of work and training endurable. Especially Zenon, who trains Aelia for her first fight, and who - with his mischievous smile and honesty - starts to feel more than just a friend. But with that first fight coming up, she has to decide - they say escaping is impossible, but staying means hurting the very people she swore to protect. [Or getting killed without hurting anyone. Do they fight to the death?] [Escaping won't help the people she swore to protect. Even if she could get to her tree, the tree isn't strong enough yet to aid in freeing her people. Plus, how will she know the Marasans didn't let her escape so they could follow her to the last Soultree on Earth and destroy it?

Thank you for your time and consideration.


P.S.: My title comes from a saying "Ships might sail on the surface, but the water still rules." There's a revolution at the end of my book. The saying refers to the slaves as the water and the masters as the ships. [In other words, the masters sail on the surface but the slaves still rule? That doesn't hold water. I think it means that we may think we've conquered Mother Nature with our titanic ships, but one big storm at sea will show us that she still rules.]


While I realize that some men get off on watching girls fight, if you want to fill an entire arena, you need athletic gladiators who are juicing. Not teenage girls. A T-ball game isn't gonna fill Yankee Stadium.

Your fierce female lead spends her youth hiding, then gets captured. We want to know something she does that's useful. Get beyond the setup of her hopeless situation and tell us what her plan is, what goes wrong, what will happen if she fails to overcome the odds stacked against her.

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23. Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Liift 1248 has posted a new version of the query in the comments there, and awaits your feedback.

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24. Evil Editor Comics

EE's First Meeting with Grisham

Click strip to enlarge.

EE's Latest Meeting with Grisham

Click strip to enlarge.

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25. Face-Lift 1250 (Already 1/4 of the way to 5000!)

Guess the Plot

Oliver and the Underlings

1. Oliver has been trapped inside a query for months now. Will the creatures who live inside the book help him find a way out before EE rips the query to shreds? 

2. Puberty is a trying time for any teenage boy, but when Oliver finds his balls have learnt to talk life becomes intolerable. Not only do the sentient Underlings chime in at the most inopportune moments, especially when girls are present, but the hot and sweaty atmosphere is making them increasingly irritable. Can Oliver make peace with his testy testes in time to get a date for the junior prom?

3. Fifteen-year-old Ollie is an awkward genius. He invents tiny micro photo-robots, the Underlings, and plants them in cheerleaders' underwear. As girls disrobe, face-blocked photos are posted to a porno website. When three of them are abducted. Ollie knows all about it while the cops clueless. If he gives the data to the police, he goes to prison for teen porn. Somehow he must free the girls and capture the criminals himself.

4. Oliver Wendell Livingston wants to start a ska-steampunk band, like Springheel Jack or Steam Powered Giraffe. His financial adviser father decides to buy him a band that already exists--the struggling Underlings. But can they make beautiful music together, or will Oliver have to retreat to the family basement?

5. Bad enough that the creepy old man who's been after Oliver's mother for years turns out to be Oliver's grandfather; now monsters are coming out of the closet all over town. Oliver puts together a team to deal with the chaos in this middle grade story filled with adult sexual innuendo.

6. Oliver the poodle is highly protective of his family. So when he discovers a group of little goblins living behind the fireplace, he tries to warn the humans. But will they listen before it's too late?

7. Oliver has grand dreams of starting his own Mafia family. Unfortunately, he’s an orphan, his entire family wiped out by an unfortunate accident with a cheese grater and five peaches. If only he could find some underlings willing to crown him their godfather.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

All eleven-year-old Oliver Bradshaw wants is a normal life. A safe place he can call home. [A lavish wardrobe.] Some friends. That's hard to have when his [friends mock him for having a name that's an anagram of "lavish wardrobe" and his] mom is running from a creepy old man, his dad is missing, and monsters are coming out of closets all over his new town. [It's about time wolfmen and vampires and monsters came out of the closet.]

When the monsters kidnap Oliver's classmates, Oliver must enter their world to get them back. [Why is this Oliver's responsibility?] [Grammatically, "their" refers to Oliver's classmates.] [Where is the monsters' world and how does Oliver enter it? Can anyone enter it? By walking into a closet?] He needs an army for this rescue mission. What he has is his quick-to-scare best friend, a devil-may-care bully, and a friendly monster that looks like a wad of chewing gum.

Oliver quickly finds the monsters' world to be a complicated one, full of fighting monster clans and weird technology powered by magic instead of electricity. While there, he runs into his grandfather, a traveler between the two worlds. His grandfather is searching for Oliver's missing dad, kidnapped when Oliver was just a year old, and has recruited the ugliest, meanest-looking monsters in the entire underworld to help him. If that weren't bad enough, [Why is that bad? If you're on a mission in monster land, don't you want the best monsters on your team?] his grandfather is the creepy old man his mom has been running from for years. [Not clear why mom didn't recognize the creepy old man in all those years.]

If Oliver can't sort out his true allies from his enemies, not only will he fail in rescuing his dad and his classmates, but the monster war will spill into his own world, and nowhere will ever be safe again. [He needs a better goal than "sorting out" his allies and enemies. He needs to shut down access to his world by the monsters. How's he plan to do that?]

OLIVER AND THE UNDERLINGS is a 50,000 word middle grade fantasy novel.

By day, I work at a university, writing software to transfer electronic student records from one computer to another. By night, I write fiction to transfer stories from my imagination to the imaginations of others. I view both professions as a kind of magic. [Cute paragraph. Get rid of it.]

I have published short fiction in markets such as Spider, Stories for Children, knowonder! magazine, and Kids'Magination. I am also a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and the Gotham Writers' Workshop, and I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my work to you. My novel is complete should you desire to see more.



You say nowhere will ever be safe again if the monster war spills into our world, but as the monsters are already coming out of closets all over town and kidnapping people, is anywhere safe even now?

It's kind of listy. A list of stuff Oliver wants, of stuff that's going on, of characters who are his underlings and of stuff he finds in the monsters' world. Try to limit yourself to one list, and tell us the story rather than listing elements of the story . . .

. . . Which will be easier to do if you focus on one plot line. When monsters cross into our world and kidnap all of Oliver Bradshaw's classmates, it's up to Oliver to recruit a hostage rescue team. Unfortunately, the only allies he can find are his quick-to-scare best friend, a devil-may-care bully, and a friendly monster that looks like a wad of chewing gum.

Getting there is the easy part--every bedroom in town is a portal to monsterland. But . . .

Now you can tell us their plan and what goes wrong and why failure is not an option. 

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