Friday, October 20, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1363 would like feedback on the following revision.

Dear Agent[comma]

I had a great childhood, believing I was a girl. I dreamed of being a mom like my own mother in the glamorized media style of housewife in the 50’s. Yet, there were shadows of a different reality. Like the tree of knowledge of good and evil, I’d have to partake of its fruits to understand its secrets. 

Nearing puberty, I was enrolled in a school that separated boys and girls. I encountered a social ordinance that I was a boy, and soon, the harsh realization I was never going to be pregnant. [These opening paragraphs aren't doing it for me. I'd go with something simple:

Growing up, I dreamed of being a 50's-TV-style mom, just like Donna Reed and June Cleaver. Just like my own mother. So imagine my shock and dismay when, nearing puberty, I was placed in the boys' section at my school.]  

A brutal rape in college,[no comma] left me isolated; in denial about fantasies of men that would never be.After a second love interest ended with a violent suicide, I chose to be a man. I discovered the love of another woman and her young child. I became provider in the image of my father, andmother to our three children in the traditional homemaker image of my mom. Fearful of losingthem, [Apparently the words "be./After" "and/mother" and "losing/them" come at the end of a line in your file, so you don't realize you didn't put a space between them. Whether the missing spaces are encountered by the reader depends on the size of the screen she's reading on.] I struggled against growing tension in the marriage, until my two oldest were adults and my youngest was fifteen. I lost my son under allegations a transgender woman was unfit to be a mother.

Despite the overwhelming consensus that no judge would ever give me custody of my son, I was unwilling to abandon him. Forced to become my own attorney, I fought a four-year custody battle.

Isolation and the economic and emotional stress combined with threats from the court drove meinto a near-suicidal depression but the love of my son prevailed. I regained custody while becoming the woman I had once imagined as a young girl.

Whipping Girl took transgender women from the genre of Lesbian non-fiction into the realm of feminism. [My book,] The Transgender Myth, broadens that scope, challenging our perceptions of gender, invoking the complementary notion of gender put forth by The Feminine Mystique [Italicize.] and asserting that men and women do in fact come from the same planet.

The book has a central position in gender studies for its historical context and contemporary view of gender, examining the social, political, economic and legal impact on my life as a transgender woman. It evolves within the context of feminism, gay rights, and today’s transgender movement, while challenging society’s sexual definition of gender. It is not a story about transition. It is a journey from blissful innocence, through fear and isolation, past denial and defeat into acceptance and triumph, examining the best and the worst of living in both genders.

This true autobiography, The Transgender Myth, is complete at 93,000 words. I trust this story will appeal to your interest in LGBTQ narratives. Thanks for your time and consideration.


I think your best bet is to focus the query on your quest to win custody of your son. Presumably that's the main focus of the book, but you call it an autobiography, and devote half your story description to the years before you had any children, suggesting otherwise. Even if you focus on the custody battle, you can (and should) still work the events of your early life into the book, but they may not be needed in the query. The query would begin something like:

In 19__, after __ years of marriage, I lost my 15-year-old son under allegations a transgender woman was unfit to be a mother. Despite the overwhelming consensus that no judge would ever grant me custody, I was unwilling to abandon him. Acting as my own attorney, I fought a four-year custody battle.

The specifics of your 4-year struggle may be the heart of your book, and if so, are more relevant in the query than your childhood. 

Try to limit or eliminate language that suggests this is an academic treatise. It's a memoir. A story. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Face-Lift 1363

Guess the Plot

The Transgender Myth

1. If a transgender person is allowed to pee in a public bathroom, the world will end.

2. Paula is devastated when she realizes she can never get pregnant. Especially when she discovers the reason: She's actually a Paul.

3. Having spent seven years as a woman and then being changed back into a man, Tiresias is in great demand as the only person who can settle the argument of which sex enjoys sex the most.

4. The real story of Hermaphroditus. You won't believe what happens in chapter four.

5. What happens when you're born half minotaur and half centaur? Let's put it this way: you have to put up with a lot of bullshit and a lot of horseshit.

Original Version

Dear Agent

The Transgender Myth is the curious belief that there are but two distinct sexes, each with its own unique gender that defines specific abilities

Paula’s childhood was typical of most girls[,] without knowing [with one big exception:] her assigned sex was male. She dreamed of being a mom like her own mother in the glamorized media style of housewife in the 50’s. That changed when she was enrolled in a school that separated boys and girls, providing her with the realization that she was a boy, and soon, the harsh realization she was never going to be pregnant.

After two devastating relationship[s] with men, she discovered the love of another woman and her young child. As provider in the image of her father, she went on to have two more children in the traditional homemaker image of her mother. Tensions grew during the 28 year marriage until Paula was forced out of her home under allegations a transgender woman was unfit to be a mother. [How old were the kids when this allegation was made?]

Despite the overwhelming consensus that no judge would ever give her custody of her son, Paula was unwilling to abandon him. She represented her son’s interests as her own attorney in a four[-]year custody battle. [She had two children; why is this one son the only one at issue? Has the 2nd child reached adulthood?]

Isolation and the economic and emotional stress combined with threats from the court drove Paula into a near[-]suicidal depression. The love of her son prevailed. Paula regained custody while becoming the woman she had once imagined as a young girl. [Becoming or pretending to be?]

Whipping Girl took transgender women from the genre of Lesbian non-fiction into the realm of feminism. The Transgender Myth broadens that scope, challenging our perceptions of gender, invoking the complimentary [complementary] notion of gender put forth by The Feminine Mystique and asserting that men and women do in fact come from the same planet.

Inspired by Paula’s costly legal battle to retain custody of her son: a battle against social prejudice and rigid legal norms. She examines society’s gender norms within family relationships, creating a challenging perspective on the true meaning of gender equity.

The book has a central position in gender studies for its historical context and contemporaryview [2 words] of gender, examining the social, political, economic and legal impact on Paula’s life as a transgender woman. It evolves within the context of feminism, gay rights, and today’s transgender movement, while challenging many of the media representations. It is not a story about transition. It is a journey from blissful innocence, through fear and isolation, past denial and defeat into acceptance and triumph, examining the best and the worst of living in both genders.

This true autobiography is complete at 93,000 words with an attached appendix of a short play written and performed by me in 1999. I trust this story will appeal to your interest in LGBT narratives. My manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration.


This is a little long. Removing the red words will get it closer to a good length.

It's standard to summarize the story in present tense. No reason not to here.

Perhaps it's my ignorance of transgenderness, but if Paula's assigned sex was male, why was she having a childhood typical of most girls before she went to the school where she realized she was a boy?  

I'm not clear on what this sentence means: As provider in the image of her father, she went on to have two more children in the traditional homemaker image of her mother. Maybe it would be simpler to say: After two devastating relationships with men, she discovered the love of another woman, with whom she "fathered" two children. (I'm assuming she didn't give birth to the two children, as it was previously stated she was never going to be pregnant.)

If you haven't already, check out Manuscript Wish List. A lot of agents and editors are hungry for LGBT.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Feedback Request

The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1353 would like feedback on the following revision.

Dear Agent,

Entering the labyrinth means you'll face your worst fears. Exiting ensures you'll return home with supernatural abilities and become one of the "gifted." With the help of her power of invisibility and an iron will Rio, a colorblind, seventeen-year-old has earned the position of Arch-Huntress. Yet when the king requires an heir he arranges a courtship between Rio, his only daughter, and Leon, her childhood friend. She will be forced to abandon hunting to become a loving wife and mother.

Just when Rio starts to accept her new life, the sound of a gunshot erupts in the middle of the night. Guns are the ancient weapons of the mechs, robotic creatures who served the Crimson God, but the false god was defeated by Rio’s grandfather. Those are all stories told to her by her now deceased mom. Believing her mother, she ventures off into the jungle of Vivuli where she finds an outsider named Slim. With shackles around his ankles, he claims to be an escaped slave of the Crimson God.

After inviting the slave into her home, things become violent when a strange curse, known as the “Blood Lust” creeps into hearts of the citizens. Now Rio must decide if this outsider is worth protecting. She has no idea who Slim is. If he’s telling the truth, he’s the key to defeating the reawakening god, bent on revenge. Her choice will determine if she’ll become Vitova’s next great hero or if she’s destined to become the next Joan of Arch.

My YA fantasy novel, Crimson Stone, is complete at 82,000 words. I selected you as a potential agent because you represented other YA novels with magical realism. I am credited for writing a short, young adult themed, screenplay named Saint Alex (2013). My manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Talk Like a Pirate Day


Click strips to enlarge.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Feedback Request

Feedback is requested by the author of the query whose most recent version may be seen here.

Dear Agent,

Fred’s abusive father mocked his dream of becoming a famous painter. His straight crush Malek assaulted him, landing him in the hospital. But Fred smirks: he now has Malek right where he wants him. Choosing a contract over prison, Malek becomes legally obliged to pay Fred some “reconciliatory” visits. He’s guilt-ridden after assaulting Fred, but dreads meeting with him.

During the first visit, Malek is shocked when Fred bows, confessing the urge to be his submissive. Fred knows that Malek will enjoy domination, if given a little push, like pampering his feet and preparing shisha’s for him. Fred also paints him as the sexy ruler of fictional worlds. These paintings come to life in a way Fred’s works never have.

Malek finds himself getting hard when Fred adoringly worships his feet and decides to use Fred for his erections. Things get more sexual as Malek explores this knack for domination, but fearing ridicule at university and stigma from his Iraqi family, he orders Fred to trash the paintings. Instead, Fred sells them to pay rent. However, not only do the paintings sell, there is demand for more.

Set in present Washington, D.C., THE GLORIOUS PRINCE is an upmarket LGBT erotic romance complete at 84,800 words. Similar titles are Lucy Lennox’s Borrowing Blue and Eli Eason’s Superhero.

I am a Lebanese gay man. After years of celibacy, I earned my sexual victories through role-playing, giving me first-hand insight to write about my character’s experiences. I have been published by The Gay and Lesbian Review, as well as Penny Fiction.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Monday, September 04, 2017

New Beginning 1073

They have all gone into the Jungle, and have not come back. Their bodies are here, walking, sitting, breathing, staring at nothing because they cannot truly see. But they are gone, and I am alone and afraid.

Hands reach for me, nearly covered in hexagonal patches of black material. I turn, staring up into my mother’s empty black eyes. I duck and scurry out from beneath her hands, running down the stairs to the glass doors that look out on the Jungle.

They all gather here, staring at the Jungle with their empty eyes. Mom, dad, and the three other adults who came with us to Farethraun Jungle. A dark figure emerges from the greenery. They all stand still, tracking the figure with their eyes. As it walks through the door, I see that it is completely covered in the dark, hexagonal scales.

I am no longer afraid. No light reflects off of the figure. The scales on the others begin to spread, creeping out across their faces. Those are little details; I am paying them no attention. Only two things matter: the figure and the Jungle.

I am walking towards the Jungle, with the figure behind me. The others simply stand and watch. I am in the Jungle now, following the dark figure down an old path. The dark figure blends into the shadows under the trees. Dead leaves litter the ground underfoot. Wet brush slaps at my hands as I reach out to the sides of the path, but the leaves beneath my bare feet are surprisingly dry. Behind me, now running, it reaches out as if to touch my shoulder.

But no matter how fast I run, how quickly I dodge, the hands grab me. I am carried, screaming, back, back, back to the Jungle. My parents stand, stone-faced, eyes black as I am forced into a padded chair and a sheet is thrown over me. Angry, frustrated, defeated, I have no choice but to submit.

"Hold still," says my mother. "It won't hurt." 

The figure collects her cutting implement and moves towards me. Snip-snip--and I watch as bits of my glorious hair fall to the floor. 

Opening: Fiona Green.....Continuation: khazarkhum

Friday, September 01, 2017

New Beginning 1072

I woke up suddenly, lying completely still and straining my senses for any hint of what had woken me. Another knock came at the entrance. Jumping up out of the leaves I slept on, I sprinted over to touch the spot in the pulley system that would quickly roll the stone away. Vole was standing outside, looking guilty.

“It’s coming for you.” he said, “The most we can do is warn you. I’m sorry, Snaps.”

He stretched out a hand to me, holding a blue and gold Hope Tree leaf.

“I understand.” I said, taking it.

As he walked away, I let my feet wander while I thought. Hopelessness hardened into resolve as I walked: I can’t make a difference by fighting back, but I can sure as hell try. I found myself at the river, the water reflecting the torn clouds and bloody colors of the sunrise and the dragon-scale dull red of the Blood Flats. Cupping water in my hands, I dropped the Hope Tree leaf in and waited until its color leached into the water before drinking.

As I swallowed the soothing liquid, a mystifying realization crept into my mind: if my hands were cupping water, from what did I drop the leaf into them? My skin flushed and beads of sweat formed on my brow as I looked down, horrified to discover that I had three hands! How had I never noticed the hand growing from the crook of my left elbow, the hand now straining toward my throat as if with a mind of its own?

As the life drained from my body, I couldn't help wondering whether, behind my left knee, there might be a previously unnoticed third foot.

Opening: Fiona Green.....Continuation: EE

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.