Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Face-Lift 1362

Guess the Plot

The Least of Us

1. We are the ones who care about no one except ourselves. The ones who would sell our souls to the devil for a few dollars or for the opportunity to watch innocents being tortured. The ones with no compassion for the downtrodden. We are the members of the Republican party.

2. A corn grower must decide whether life is really worth living if he must sell his family farm. Yeah, that's it.

3. Decades ago, American leaders built walls separating the wealthy coastal states from the loser interior states. But soon the coastal states will be underwater, so the haves want to tear down the walls and move inland. Will the have-nots forgive and forget?

4. The Zombie--sorry, Living-Impaired--Civil Rights movement has been gaining ground over the past year. Yet Zed and Tibbs have strong objections, even if their current state of life would say otherwise. Plus the usual brains, moaning, and rotting flesh.

5. Samantha, a divorced poet, lives on the picturesque New England shore where she rents her home from Carl, a widowed veterinarian. Just as they begin to forge a relationship, she discovers she has cancer and you've already stopped reading this because it's boring and overdone.

6. When Adilade receives a free curse that will make her obnoxious, over-achieving older brother shrink to the size of a mouse, she implements it without reading the warning label. Now she must work together with her worst enemy (her brother's best friend) to get her brother back to normal before the plague he's now spreading gives everyone in town his worst traits.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

In 2060, Jessie lives in [a] world that was long ago divided. The Others – the leaders of the old world – took over all the coastal states and built two Walls to keep the undesirables [deplorables] out, convinced that they would eventually kill each other due to their violent nature. [Not sure whether that means the undesirables will eventually kill each other or the undesirables and the Others will eventually kill each other.] [Also, did the Others make the undesirables pay for the Walls?] Jessie is the third generation living on this side of the Wall, [Which side? Of which wall?] she knows no other way. [Replace comma with period or semicolon. Better yet, delete "she knows no other way." It's vague.] Jessie's smart, but naive. Though she knows that the Others aren't bogeymen, the Others are just stories to her.

In 2016, Matt is a teenager living his life. His [whose] main worry is doing well on the SATs. But, something is changing. The government announces that it’s going to build Walls to separate the coastal states from the rest of the country. Matt writes in his journal, documenting what his life is like, and writing about all the scary changes that are affecting him, his friends, and his family. [Is Matt in a coastal state or an inland state?] [The only specific scary change you mention is the Wall, which you already told us about in the previous paragraph. I'd dump this whole paragraph. You can tell us who Matt is when his journal is found in paragraph 4.]

One day, Jessie and Lucy make a trip to the Wall. [Who's Lucy?] While there, they hear voices. They overhear two men speaking of their plans to tear down the Walls so that the Others can move inland. [Can't they move inland by flying to inland airports? Or building bridges that go over the walls? Or blasting holes in the wall at ground level?] They have to, the coastal states will be under water in a year. Jessie and Lucy are terrified. They have only ever heard the worst of these people. It wasn't so long ago that the Others stole their homes and abandoned them to die. [If you steal my home and abandon me, I'm not gonna just keel over and die. Is there something about the world you haven't told us?] 

Jessie must learn all she can about the Others, as soon as she can. A journal that she finds will tell her a very personal version of the history of how things devolved in the first place, how her group survived it, and where Jessie fits in all of it. [Not clear how a 45-year-old journal written by a teenager can tell Jessie where she fits in "all of it." Possibly because I'm not sure what you mean by "where she fits in all of it."]

Inspired by current events, The Least of Us is a young adult novel, which is complete at 96,000 words.

Thank you for your consideration.


Do the undesirables have any interest in getting to the Others' side of the Walls? If so, they might wish to consider these possible methods:

Click strip to enlarge.

Also, grappling hooks, jetpacks, bulldozers and parachuting from hot air balloons.

It's not clear what made the undesirables undesirable. It's not like they were homeless. Not only did they have homes, but they had homes the Others considered worth stealing. Was it their beliefs? Looks? 

We need to know a little more about the world. How is life different on both sides of the Walls than it was before the Walls? More specificity would give us a clearer picture.

When you say the Others abandoned the undesirables to die, did they abandon them on the coasts? If so, how did the undesirables get to the other side of the Walls? Or did the Others transport the undesirables to the interior before closing up the Walls? If so, I wouldn't say they were abandoned to die. Many food crops are grown mainly in the interior states. Also, why do we keep capitalizing "wall"?

Identifying and transporting all the undesirables on the coasts to the interior seems too daunting a task. Plus, with all the undesirables gone, who does all the menial jobs? 

What if you lived in New York but most of your family lived in Chicago? Were they all lost to you? Were the people who lived in the interior but weren't undesirables, like Warren Buffet and LeBron James and John Cusack, forcibly transported to the coasts when the Walls were built? Or were they just abandoned to die?

No way would Californians tolerate being walled out of Las Vegas. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Beginning 1071

Natalie soared downwards, wind rushing past her face, hair streaming behind her as she reached the lowest point of the arc. Then pushing her legs out in front of her she willed the swing up higher and higher. The swing reached its highest point. For a split second, she was no longer moving upwards, but not falling either. For a pinprick of time, she was suspended, the miracle of gravity paused.

And she let go. Her hands continued to clutch the rope, but she let go of the swing, of the park, of the world, of this universe.

She let go and she was ‘There’.

Natalie had no idea where ‘There’ was, even though getting ‘There’ was both easy and impossible. Her heart raced as it always did when she jumped into this world, but it soon slowed back to its regular pace.

She scanned the landscape, the familiar-but-strange grey earth and reddish light. To her left, a rusty toaster protruded from the ground. A toaster the size of a garage, its slots gaping skywards as if awaiting mattress-sized bread slices to fall into them. It hadn’t been there last time.

The dream ended suddenly as she hit the cold water. Gasping for air and kicking frantically while swallowing salt water, she thrashed to the surface. Her black hair covered her eyes and while swiping at it, she went under again. 

It was dark, well after midnight, without a moon. Her cries for help could not be heard over the shore party noise. She tried to grab the dinghy but it pulled free of its cleat and drifted away. She banged on the yacht with her petite fists until fatigue set in and poor Natalie Wood slipped down for the final time.

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

Monday, August 07, 2017

Success Story

Khazar-khum reports that "a short version of The Trouble with Larry (Face-Lift 1354) has been published in the Fark 2017 Writer's Anthology. Proceeds go to benefit St Jude's Children's Hospital. You can get it and the 2016 Anthology at Amazon. 

I did try to get minions involved, so if anyone else submitted and were accepted, I think we'd all like to know."

Q & A 192

Whatever happened to the strange angelic man?

This question comes up because the strange angelic man was named Erick and a character in the query that inspired the question was also named Erick. As I have nothing better to do, I present an incomplete retrospective of Erick the Strange Angelic Man's appearances on the blog.

First appearance of Erick, the Strange Angelic Man

Casting of the Evil Editor movie

The Decline of the Blog

So, it's been a week since our last Face-Lift, and there are no queries in the queue. Except for a few NaNoWriMo openings, we haven't posted a New Beginning since October, and there are no openings in the queue. [Update! Crisis temporarily averted. We now have openings needing continuations and queries needing fake plots. And more to come, I hope.] Comment trails are shorter all the time; writing exercises were discontinued due to lack of participation; rarely do more than five people show up for a Book Chat.

The handwriting is on the wall. If it's longer than 140 characters, it's too long. Maybe that's what's killing the publishing industry. They demand books of 80,000 words, when readers want books of 140 characters. Preferably fewer; those who use the full 140 characters need to be more concise if they want to make it as writers today.

The only way to survive as a blogger is to adapt to the changing world.

What does this mean for this blog? Basically, two things:

1. Instead of editing openings and queries, Evil Editor will edit tweets. Minions submit tweets they are planning to publish, and Evil Editor fixes them so that the tweeter doesn't sound like an illiterate twit. Or, say your tweet is longer than 140 characters; EE makes the cuts that make it legal.

2. Currently, EE's blog is a place you can read Mrs. Varmighan's tweets if you don't care to officially follow Mrs. Varmighan. This could be expanded so that each day the tweets of Mrs. Varmighan, Evil Editor, Evil Psychiatrist,


Unethical Attorney (in which a defense lawyer ignores privilege and tweets his thoughts during a murdertrial),

Erick the Strange Angelic Man, 

literary agent Hannah Rogers,
Public Confessor 
(in which a priest takes confessions in tweet form), and

Kind Serial Killer are posted. First you'll have to vote on which of these twitter accounts you would follow. Only those with the most votes will come to fruition.

To ease the transition, we'll still be accepting queries and openings, at least until we hit #1000.

From the 3rd annual Evie Awards:

Best Supporting Actress: Carlotta the Snazzily Dressed Lit Agent for Erick the Strange Angelic Man


                                    Cartoon 1000

Monday, July 31, 2017

Face-Lift 1361

Guess the Plot

First Shadows

1. The planet XK-50 lay dead in darkness until the birth of a new star brought light for the first time. When Dr. Cushner and his crew go out to study the phenomenon, they discover SK-50 wasn't as dead as they thought.

2. Erick runs a shadow organization of teens dedicated to ending modern slavery. Sabrina has a tarot-reading business. They never meet, but if they did, the electricity would be as amazing as between Bella and Edward. In Twilight?

3. The First is the leader of Aruliassus III. His shadows follow him around and study how he works so they can become his sub-rulers on Aruliassus IV. But can they resist bumping the First off and taking control of all the Aruliassusses?

4. Melanaise needs the first shadows from a total eclipse to complete a love potion that will make a prince fall in love with her. She has two problems: a) all three moons were recently destroyed by a rival sorcerer, and b) where's she gonna find a prince who isn't a prat?

5. Every spring, Billy Groundhog dreams of being the first in his den to see his shadow. But he never awakens from hibernation until mid-July. Will Billy ever get his picture in the papers and become a hot chick magnet?

6. Callie and Betsy are sisters, both very dead. They've been playing with the other ghost kids in the cemetery, and under the watchful eye of old witch Denbow they've learned a lot about being good little spooks. With Halloween fast approaching, they're tearing their shrouds so that they can graduate by casting their . . . first shadows.

7. In this sequel to Point, Line, and Thinker, multimedia 2D and 3D renditions are conceptualized within an historical framework of poly-chromatic perspectives and the translucence phenomenon. Includes the psychological impact of dysphoric elisions.

8. When dawn breaks, optimists see the first light. And pessimists see the first shadows. And vampires. Another saga featuring a disengaged teen girl and a sexy undead fellow.

9. Puppeteer and clown Bert Bobo has hit rock bottom. His wife has left with the kids, and he's surviving on dry cereal. When he finds a box with a talking shadow inside, he exchanges his soul, something he thinks he doesn't have, for three wishes. Unfortunately, he was wrong about not having a soul.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Abandoned as a toddler, Erick Holt knows loneliness and grief. Now, on the precipice of adulthood, Erick and his adoptive brother, Ansel RunningWolf, head a secret organization of teens dedicated to ending modern slavery.

When a new state law concerning recently placed foster children goes into effect, they [the teens] see a rise in abductions and out-of-state adoptions. Erick and his team [they] quickly recognize "official interference" with the police[,] and [realize] caseworkers are rapidly becoming [have become] the earmarks [agents] of something more nefarious. [If you won't reveal what the law says, don't bother mentioning it.] 

Suddenly, Erick and The Knowing find themselves in the midst of a silent, but very deadly war; with The Knowing as the target. [Are we supposed to know what "The Knowing" is? If it's the secret organization, you might mention that in paragraph 1.] Erick is doing all he can to keep The Knowing protected and obscure. But is it enough?

When the first death is reported, it could be considered [might have been] an accident. After the next two, Erick realizes they are under attack. [As they earlier found themselves in the midst of a deadly war, Erick should already have known they were under attack.] Is it too late? 

Eighteen-year-old Sabrina Lorcan is about to fight the battle of her life. Oblivious to a sinister plot brewing against her family, Sabrina agrees to relocate her tarot reading business and move back home to care for her younger siblings while her newly divorced mother is at school. Immediately, her world and family are torn away from her. [Are we in the same book?] 

In a race against time, Sabrina caves to the pressure of unfair advantages and illegal politics. A split-second decision could change her life forever. Who can she trust? Can she even trust herself? Or will she lose her family and her life? [This whole paragraph is vague.] [Also, what happened to Erick and The Knowing? Are they connected to Sabrina?] 

First Shadows is a YA Legal/Transgressive Thriller that is complete at 200,000 [85,000] words. It is a coming of age novel that is a delicious blend of Veronica Mars meets [and] Twilight with a dash of Charmed.

The foundation of this book is factual. First Shadows is Book One in the ShadowLight Alliance series. [It's long enough to be the entire series.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I look forward to hearing from you,


If you put the word count in the first sentence you'll save agents the trouble of reading the rest of the query.

You  need to focus on Erick or Sabrina. You can mention the other one if you show their connection, but don't abandon the one you choose to be the query's main character.

Half the plot paragraphs end with questions. We prefer answers over questions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Face-Lift 1360

Guess the Plot

Killer in Heels

1. Desperate for queries, minions go on a rampage looking for writers. When they find a dive bar populated by the writerly blocked, there will be spilled ink, some of it red. Also, a dog named Killer.

2. When cross-dressing psychopath Bennie Furhlong gets out of prison, ace detective Zack Martinez knows two things: Diamonds aren't just a girl's best friend, and he's not going on any blind dates for a while.

3. The death blow was a puncture wound to the throat. Can Detective Carl Badsfield find the killer in six inch heels? Or will the killer get lost in the annual Fashion Week?

4. Mavis knows she looks good in a flirty pair of red stilettos. She didn't realize that meant a top shoe designer would fall dead at her feet. Accused of murder (and worse: being passé), Mavis is caught between what may be a cursed pair of red shoes and the fashion police. Also, donuts.

5. The world's deadliest assassin, Mina Harper, is used to working alone, but she's assigned by the Company to work with another assassin. Which wouldn't be so bad if her new partner weren't an insufferable know-it-all. Fortunately there are few problems that can't be solved by a loaded 
Springfield PC9111 Pro.

6. It’s Comic-Con for serial killers on at South Pacific Island Resort, with more than a score of them present, using false names. Sunday morning, Murderer-in-Flipflops is found hanging from a royal palm.  On Monday, Slasher-in-Wingtips is found drowned in the Jaccuzzi. Tuesday, Bludgeoner-in-Nikes is found dismembered on the Bar-B-Que grill. Killer-in-Heels must solve the mystery before she is a victim--unless she is the serial killer serial killer.

Original Version

Dear Mr. EE:

Mina Harper has worked alone for nine years. She isn't allowed to know exactly who she works for, but since the age of nineteen, Mina has been the world's deadliest assassin. She has killed over three hundred bad guys, but can't seem to find a [one] good guy to go out with. She fears she'll forever be alone, but solitude isn't so bad, especially [not] with a loaded Springfield PC9111 Pro, and a warm cup of chamomile-hibiscus tea to keep her company.

Her [Mina's] manager Darrington is her only link to company headquarters, and he's taught her almost every skill she knows. And when he tells her she'll have a male partner on the biggest assignment of her life, she isn't sure if her employer is doubting her abilities, or if her targets really are that lethal. Either way, she has to prove herself, or die trying.

Mina's targets, three men at the head of a billion-dollar child trafficking operation with drug dealings on the side, are well-armed, masterfully hidden, and guarded. Mina's partner Jasper, or the world's other [Second-] deadliest assassin, thinks he knows more than she does about everything. Proving her worth [with this albatross around her neck] is going to be a lot harder than she imagined.

KILLER IN HEELS is a 73,000-word novel of suspense sprinkled with a bit of dark humor and romantic comedy. I imagine Mina Harper as Jack Reacher's ultra-feminine, sophisticated counterpart (thus the title).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


I think I'd either refer to the bad guys as a crime syndicate rather than child traffickers, or leave out the humor/romantic comedy aspect. The reader of your query may not trust your ability to successfully combine child trafficking with romantic comedy. Of course it's too late to change the book and make the  bad guys jewel thieves, but once the agent starts reading the book and sees how brilliantly you've brought these seemingly incongruous species together, that will no longer matter.

That said, the idea of two incompatible loner assassins forced to work together has appeal. Maybe the query should focus a bit more on that.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Face-Lift 1359

Guess the Plot

Project: Yggdrasil 

1. Vera Smythe's vacation company takes ultra rich guests on informative tours of each planet of the solar system while fighting off alien-riddled meteors, space pirates, and lawyers. Also, illicit affairs between personnel. 

2. Fascinating tale of the most successful ad campaign ever: How a potent male enhancement drug became a wildly popular brand despite its deadly side effects. Also, a month's supply of condoms.

3. It started as a way to visit alternative realities to live their dream life. But when Alan can't decide which life he prefers, he tries to live all of them at once. He just has to deactivate nine other accounts first.

4. After the failure of Project: Skidbladnir, Vikings perfect their time machine and travel to 21st-century Norway, where they are disappointed to find their land hasn't noticeably progressed in 700 years.

5. A genetically-engineered soldier seeking revenge on those who murdered her family is captured behind enemy lines by people developing a weapon that will end free will. If you want to know what happens after that, you'll have to buy the rest of the series.

6. Oh no! Science Fair projects are due TOMORROW, and there's no way Eddie can get that thing he was going to do about eggs, that he never got around to starting because of baseball, done in time. And he misspells 'eggroll'. Then it hits him: Make up something about an alien world!

Original Version

Morrighan doesn’t know who murdered her family or why. After escaping the massacre, the genetically engineered soldier, born [borne?] from the Yggdrasil project, vows to search for those who survived—and avenge those who didn’t. Fortunately for her, the ability to manipulate metal gives her an edge in a borderline-apocalyptic world where gangs will ambush her for nary [Nary? Who says "nary"?] more than a few scavenged cans of food. [If a gang ambushes me, I'm thrilled if they're just after my cans of food.]

After dodging a traitorous brother who can infiltrate dreams and extract memories, Morrighan goes on to track down a few remaining family members—only to find out that they’d been harboring some serious skeletons in the form of a failed genetic engineering project. Morrighan is enraged by her parents’ secrecy, but realizes that she needs their help tracking down the murderers. [In paragraph 1 we learn that someone murdered Morrighan's family. In paragraph 2 we've encountered her traitorous brother, a few remaining family members, and her parents. Just thought I'd point that out.] Before she can unearth much more, Morrighan discovers that the media has painted her as the criminal responsible for the attack on Helix Labs, [FAKE NEWS!] and is forced to flee.

Now a fugitive, [As we learned one sentence ago.] Morrighan embarks on an intel-gathering mission, during which she and her allies are confronted by the enemy. [She just went on the run and already she has allies and enemies?] Her allies manage to escape, but Morrighan is caught behind enemy lines. In the final scene, she uses her last moments of consciousness to transfer the enemy’s files to her allies—including a blueprint for a weapon that will ultimately result in the death [end?] of free will.

Project: Yggdrasil is the first novel in an action-packed science fiction trilogy aimed at young and new adult audiences that combines elements of dystopia, survival and family-oriented relationships. [Why is there a colon after "Project"? Project Gutenberg and Project Runway don't have colons. Or you could go with The Yggdrasil Project, as in the Mindy/Blair Witch/Manhattan Projects.] Readers of X-Men and Maximum Ride may also enjoy this book. [I prefer "should" over "may also."] [Also, X-Men the comic book? We had a talking cat two queries ago, but the author didn't declare that fans of Sylvester would enjoy the book.] It is complete at about 109,000 words.

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


It's not clear to me who Morrighan's enemy is. Is it whoever massacred her family? Or is it the people she's fleeing, the ones who think she's a criminal?

We know Morrighan and her brother have super powers, but we don't see how they use these powers. The brother's only role in the query is to show that Morrighan isn't the only character with a power. Morrighan should never have been captured, not with those metal-manipulation powers. 

You don't want to give the impression that you have a cliffhanger ending and no resolution to the main plot. If they like this book they may decide they want a three-book series, but they don't want you telling them they have to buy a series. If this book doesn't have a satisfying conclusion, give it one, and say the book has series potential.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Face-Lift 1358

Guess the Plot

Outlier Heir

1. In the distant future, an heir of Merlin recruits an heir of King Arthur to search out the Holy Grail and use it as a weapon to defeat the a confederacy of planets. Think Camelot, but in outer space.

2. Harry never wanted to be close to the line of succession. In fact, he did all he could to avoid it. But as people through the line die one by one, he knows it is only a matter of time.

3. Statistically speaking, Falian isn't in line for the throne, what with 58 other people with better claims. Of course, statistically speaking, Falian shouldn't hold the position of Chief Assassin, either.

4. The Outliers are a super-powered folk kicked out of normal human society for being a little too different. Unknown to the rest of the population, they've been breeding, and now . . .  it's payback time.

5. A convenient definition of a outlier heir is an heir which falls more than 1.5 times the interquartile range above the third quartile or below the first quartile. The interquartile range, which breaks the data set into a five number summary is used to determine if an outlier heir is present. Also: palace intrigue, an ancient curse, revived mummies and a talking camel. 

6. Cassandra's salon, Outlier Heir, is where all the fashionistas and it-girls are seen. When the place burns down in a napalm attack, the arson squad discovers no foul play, but the second-top salon in town, Heir Apparent, is happy to take on Cassandra's clients. Can she prove a link between the other salon owner's policeman husband and her own misfortune before the rest of her life goes up in smoke? 

Original Version

Dear Agent X,

The Sol Confederacy doesn’t give a damn about places like Blackwood, Mars, a truth Art Pendragon learned the hard way the day the Feds killed his little sister Morgan. When a trigger-happy crew touches down on his hick town to hunt [looking] for him, Art’s a mite twitchy—until they promise the one thing he’s searching for—revenge. 

According to Merlin and the crew of the Excalibur, the Pendragon bloodline of alchemists can track the separated pieces of the Holy Grail. Years ago, his [Art's or Merlin's?] renegade ancestor created this weapon [What weapon? The Holy Grail?] to give the underground rebellion a chance. While they search, Merlin pushes him [Art] to unlock his [Art's or Merlin's?] abilities, [What abilities?] yet Art’s intense pull towards the lonely ex-soldier [What lonely ex-soldier?] grows more powerful than any alchemy. 

Upon landing in Europa, [Is Europa the moon of Jupiter or Europe or a fictional place like Blackwood, Mars?] Art uncovers a threat that could ruin the rebellion before it has a chance to rise. Morgan is alive and aligned with the Sol Confederacy. [The threat that could ruin the rebellion is Art's little sister is aligned with the Sol Confederacy? Who is she, Wonder Woman? Wait, is she the outlier heir to the throne? I was thinking Art was the outlier heir.] Even though he’s sworn himself to the rebel cause, his sister isn’t lost to the Feds, not yet. However, as their allegiances solidify[,] the divide between them deepens, and the moment Art delivers the Grail to the rebels, he’ll become her enemy, [Swearing himself to the rebel cause didn't make him her enemy, but delivering the Grail will?] destroying his one shot to save the sister he failed to protect.

OUTLIER HEIR is an 85,000[-word] YA space opera with series potential.



Possibly it would be better to say it was Merlin and the Excalibur who touched down, rather than a trigger-happy crew. These are the good guys, right?

I'm no expert on Arthurian lore, but it seems more likely Merlin would be the one with alchemists in his bloodline, not Arthur, and maybe he is, but it's easy to read it as the opposite. 

Why exactly do they need Art? They can't track down the pieces of the Grail without him because he has unique Grail-tracking powers? And possessing the Grail could let them defeat the entire Sol Confederacy, which I assume is all the planets of the solar system except Uranus?

Art: I've devoted my life to destroying you, revenge for killing my sister. 

Sol: We didn't kill your sister. She's right over there.

Art: Oops. Well, I'm gonna destroy you anyway, just for the hell of it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

New Beginning 1070

“My name is Laranius, son of Lavernius,” said the lich in the slightly-faded green robe. “But everyone calls me Larry.”

And he smiled.

I think.

“So, uh, Laran—Larry,” I began, “What brings you here?”

You don’t usually see many liches. For one, they generally keep to themselves, where they can create weird magic. And for another, they don’t really blend. Sure, some are really skinny, pale people, like attenuated vampires; but most look like a decaying mummy, or a skeleton. Larry, as far as I could tell, was a skeleton.

Larry shifted in his chair. “Well, sir, the groom at Brad the Impaler’s said you needed a necromancer, and since Brad had just let me go, this sounded like a good place to come.”

Now, I know Brad. He’s usually a pretty chill guy. Why would he kick out a perfectly good lich?

Just then my lady, my wife, the love of my life Dorene swept into the room, resplendent in her blue and silver gown, her auburn gold hair flying and her face like thunder. “Doug!,” she said to me. “That stupid girl dropped all my hairpins down the privy!” She stopped when she saw Larry. “Oh, hello,” she said.

Larry stood. With an exaggerated bow, he said, “My name is Laranius, son of Lavernius. But you may call me Larry.” Little silvery sparkles danced from his gloved fingers.

“Welcome,” she said as she took her seat at my side. “What can we do for you, Larry?”

"We're here to get rid of any dead animals or people you might have lying around."

"We?" Dorene said.

Just then two more liches entered the room. Larry said, "There's three of us. I'm Laranius. This is my brother Darylius, and that's my other brother Darylius."

Opening: Khazar-khum.....Continuation: Evil Editor

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Face-Lift 1357

Guess the Plot

The Lair of 1000 Butterflies

1. Rolanda Devereaux doesn't understand why the bar she has opened in Steeltown, PA, isn't drawing any customers. Could it be the name?  

2. When 13-year-old Harlow is discovered covered in blood, he claims he was kidnapped by butterflies. But that doesn't explain why he suddenly can bust out ninja moves and communicate with cats. Or does it?

3. Evil scientist Mushas Mashississist has concocted a new scheme for world domination! He shall breed Chaos Butterflies (tm)!! Only two kids and their new superpowers can stop him!!! Small problem--they must steal their superpowers from evil scientist Og!vey and then learn to use them!!!!

4. With each flap of their wings, a hurricane happens on the other side of the world. A group of luckless explorers unleash a horror unlike any other as they uncover The Lair of 1000 Butterflies. Will the butterfly nets their local guide brought along contain the kaleidoscope?

5. In the land of Sydoz, butterflies are protected by the local religion, whose practitioners consider them unattached souls. But the newly arrived vampire butterflies will morph into enormous fanged dragons . . . unless Noknoor, butterfly slayer, can find and destroy the lair where these bloodthirsty beasts lurk - while risking being executed if he harms the wrong ones.

6. World renowned lepidopterist Merve Janks has almost completed the ultimate butterfly collection. Will finding his 1,000th new subspecies be enough to save his professorship, his marriage, and cure his rare form of cancer? Or, should he join a hidden cult in the Amazon and sacrifice himself to their butterfly god?

7. The sign out front said 'Massage'. So when 76 year old Peter 'Pops' Warren went in for relief from his old war wound, he got a real surprise ending. Now he has daily 'sessions', and his wife is getting more than a bit suspicious. Why, she might just go there and see what's up, as it were.

Original Version

If there’s one thing twelve-year-old Victor hates, it’s cats [Wait , is this the same book we did in Face-Lift 1351, which was titled The All-Mads? Or is this book 2 in the series?] —every time one talks, he’s cursed to die. He reincarnates since he’s an Arcana God, but he doesn’t want to grow up again, lose the memories of his 1000th life, or leave his adoptive mom/mentor. Not to mention dying hurts. So when a tabby chants a prophecy, Victor’s surprised he stumbles into an injured autistic boy named Harlow instead of some monster. [Harlow? Change it to Hugo. Like in Victor Hugo.] But the boy he rescues might be the villain, not the victim. [You said he stumbled into him. Not that he rescued him.]

Thirteen-year-old Harlow was kidnapped by butterflies. At least, that’s how he explains why he was covered in blood, not all of which was his; [To me, "I was kidnapped by butterflies" does not explain why you are covered in blood. In fact, the only thing for which that would be a good explanation would be if you were encasing yourself in a cocoon.] can bust out ninja moves; and is super friendly with the cat who cursed Victor.  When Victor realizes the cat’s prophecy is about Harlow, [If Harlow and the cat are such good buddies, why didn't the cat deliver the prophecy to Harlow? How can Victor realize the prophecy is about Harlow, if he just met Harlow?] he’s convinced: Harlow is the living manifestation of his curse. [I don't follow. What exactly did the cat say?] [Also, what is meant by "the living manifestation of a curse"?] Problem is, he likes Harlow. Maybe even likes likes him.

Desperate for a solution, Victor visits his shrine and views memories from his past lives. What he discovers isn’t exactly encouraging. If a God is deemed “not godly enough” at the end of their 1000th life, someone new will take their place. [If this information is in his shrine, why hasn't he ever discovered it before?] Victor needs to find a way to reverse the curse—preferably one that doesn’t involve sacrificing Harlow in a bloodstone circle—or this life might be his last. 


I'll assume this is the same book, as you've provided no word count, genre, or mention of a previous book. 

What is the cat's prophecy? I'm not asking because I want to know. I'm asking because I think you need it in the query. I'm not sure any of the information in the query is more important than that.

There too much information that we don't need, so much it feels disorganized. Why bring up Ninja moves, adoptive mom/mentor, or even butterflies if you aren't going to tell us how they affect the story? Focus on Victor and Harlow. What do they want, what's their plan to get it, what's stopping them, what's at stake.

When a cat tells 12-year-old Victor [PROPHECY], Victor fears he's going to die. It has nothing to do with the cat's prophecy; Victor dies every time a cat talks. It's happened 999 times, and after the 1000th, Victor could lose his status as an Arcana God.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1355 would like feedback on the following revision:

Dear Evil Editor,

INDIGO ANGEL is the story of Sean Foster, and his journey of self-discovery in the face of adversity. Sean has struggled with Cystic Fibrosis all his life. Freshman year of high school he survives getting beaten and bullied. Sophomore year he meets Jenessa 'Jen' Quinto. Having lost her brother to cancer, she recognizes and admires Sean’s courage. They start dating, and quickly fall in love. Junior year their relationship culminates with a road trip, where they sleep under the stars.

Just before senior year Jen unexpectedly breaks up with him. Sean’s world is shattered. His twin sister Sara gets accepted to UCLA, so the siblings make plans to get an apartment and live as roommates. But when their mother says Sean has to stay in their small town of Indigo, due to his illness[,] Sean attempts suicide.

He survives, and his mother retracts her previous statement, grateful to have her son. So along with Sara and her boyfriend Johnny, Sean makes it out to California. The group tracks down Jen. She had been sent to live in Seattle with her grandmother where she gave birth to Sean’s daughter. Reunited as a family, Sean steps into the role of being a father to his little miracle.

Indigo Angel, a work of contemporary fiction, runs about 98,000 words, and is similar in tone to John Green’s The Fault in our Stars.

I am a Mexican-American veteran of the United States Air Force. Although born in California my work in the military took me all over the world including the diverse Midwest, from the beautiful landscapes of the Dakotas to the small towns of Wisconsin. My novel was inspired by my travels and aspects of my cultural heritage.

Thank you for your consideration,


I was expecting a revision to focus on Sean's goals. What does he want, what's he doing to get it, what's keeping him from getting it? I'm not sure what his main goal is in the book, but the goal that seems most likely to tie all the threads together is Sean's investigation of his lineage. Perhaps he reads that if he has cystic fibrosis, his twin sister also would have it. At which point his mother is forced to admit they're not twins, he's adopted, and now he wants to know about his birth mother. And when he finds out Jen was pregnant when she left town, he knows he's passed the CF gene on. This sounds like the makings of a story. Your new version has eliminated all of this. You're basically listing one or two things that happen to Sean each year. It feels more like an outline than a story summary.