Monday, October 24, 2016

Face-Lift 1331

Guess the Plot

Worlds Collide

1. Tiffani is a ballet dancer; Brandon is a stevedore. She loves arts and crafts pottery. He loves NFL football. They meet by happenstance and discover a mutual passion: both are serial killers.

2. Anna finds a mysterious cave that pulls her into a world inhabited by strange creatures who think her appearance represents the beginning of an invasion. Which is pretty much how Anna felt when the Roman Empire first invaded her country.

3. Something is headed straight toward Earth, with the resulting crash enough to wipe out all of humanity. However, unlike an asteroid, this is another planet with life of its own. Hey, if we all gotta die, we might as well take someone with us.

4. When a portal opens between earth and fantasy land, it's not young teens who move through, it's the whole planet. To set things right, Grandma McCurdy must face increased gravity, tidal anomalies, climate change, invasive species, etc. Oh, and cataclysmic magic. 

5. When opposing candidates for the office of mayor meet at the Worlds Collide bar, sparks fly, leading to a whole nother level of heat in their respective campaigns.

6. When a world of (really hot) vampires, werewolves and mummies collides with a world of discontented (and also really hot) high school students, the results are predictable yet strangely compelling.

7. The studios want something "new, but familiar," so Harvey writes a dystopian version of the 1950s classic When Worlds Collide that sees scientists murdered by mobs of zombies, a rocket crashing into the sun, and another ship piloted by Jennifer Lawrence and Lady Gaga making it to safety. Sure, Harvey gets a contract, but will he get a date with Jennifer?

8. The land of rainbows and sunshine collides with the world of zombies and darkness when a mishap with a happy-smile potion goes terribly wrong. Can Sparkles and Kazoo find a cure before their home is irrevocably changed forever?

9. Minky Flint wants to marry a hard working farm boy instead of the foppish prat her parents engaged her to before she was born. Fortunately, she has a fairy godmother. Unfortunately, the godmother agrees with her parents! What's a girl gotta do to get the right fairy tale ending?

Original Version

Worlds Collide is the first book in a Mid-Grade fantasy series complete at 35K words set in the time period of [during]
the Roman occupation of the Britons. [My sources (Wikipedia) tell me the occupied area is known as the Britains or Roman Britain. The Britons are the people. Also, you might manage to say the book is 35K words, rather than the series is 35K words, and that the series is set during the occupation, rather than the words are set then. It'll be easier if you use two sentences to convey the information.] 

Anna starts her life as a happy child with loving parents. She and her family live in a small village that goes unnoticed by both the Romans and the Saxons who are fighting with each other for control of the land. Anna's happiness is cut short by the death of her father and shortly after that, the death of her mother. [when her parents die and she must move in] She lives for several years with her drunken uncleuntil the day fate crosses her path.

[Years later,] Anna finds [stumbles upon] a mysterious cave that pulls her into a new world inhabited by strange creatures, who are just as surprised to see her as she is to see them. [It would be nice to know whether Anna is ten or thirteen or sixteen.]

There is a priestess among the people of this new world who is able to help[s] Anna to understand them and them her. [Are the "people" of this world the same beings you described as "strange creatures"? If so, calling them people may give the wrong impression. If not, then I don't see the arrival of one girl causing as much distress as it does in the next paragraph.] 

They are the people of Suan and many of them are very disturbed by her presence. Anna is unable to [claims she can't] explain how she came to be there but many of the Suan believe she is lying. Some believe that she [her arrival] could be the beginning of [portend] an invasion from her world.

Anna is brought before King Maaz of the Suan’s [Suans] and after she tells her story, the king decides that she is telling the truth and is no threat to his people.

With all societies in this world or another, things aren’t always as they seem. Saban, one of the kings [king's] closest generals had [, has] been working for a long time to steal the loyalty of the kings [king's] rangers, and seize power for himself,[.]  [He] sees Anna as a tool he can use to further his ambitions.

With the help of the kings [king's] treacherous oldest son[,]  the general is able to overthrow[s] King Maaz and have [has] him arrested.

 Anna finds herself a fugitive on the run with a small group of Suan’s [Suans] who are loyal to King Maaz. They desperately need help but don’t know who they can trust, so they attempt something that may cause two worlds to collide in war. ["Attempt something" is too vague. What's their plan? This is more important information than anything about Anna's parents and her drunken uncle and the priestess.]


Sentences that logically belong together should be in the same paragraph. Using a lot of one-sentence paragraphs gives the impression you're listing ideas without connecting them. Your plot summary could easily be organized into three paragraphs. 

As the Roman occupation lasted about 370 years, telling us the story is set in that time period is like telling us a story is set in the time between the pilgrims reaching Plymouth Rock and the debut of The Simpsons on Fox. We have a right to know whether this is set at the time Hadrian's Wall was being built or closer to when the self-proclaimed emperor Carausius was assassinated by his treasurer.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Nobel Literature Prizes.

The news that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his songwriting (only a few years after Evil Editor won the same prize for my blogging), has me wondering if there might be Nobel Prizes in the futures of other authors of less-conventional works. For instance, Victor Mizzy, composer of the theme songs of both The Addams Family and Green Acres. Who doesn't get one of those running through their head at least once a week? Which is a lot more often than I think about anything by John Steinbeck.

What about commercial jingles? A lot of famous musicians have written commercial jingles, including Barry Manilow, Randy Newman, and The Rolling Stones, but the Nobel Prize would have to go to Richard Trentlage for the Oscar Mayer Wiener Song. Trentlage's body of work also includes the Buckle Up for Safety jingle.

I, myself, produced a line of greeting cards that would probably be worthy of a Nobel, though I don't think they give them to people who already have them:

I'm rightfully proud of some of my tweets, and in this day of short attention spans, it could be argued that tweets are to novels as haiku are to epic poems. In other words, Nobel Prize-worthy. Just look at these excerpts from my book The History of the World in Tweets, and tell me I don't deserve another Nobel:

1809: Embargo Act of 1807 repealed in the US; the Non-Intercourse Act replaces it. Name is quickly changed to quell mass rioting.
1814: USS Enterprise reaches Wilmington, North Carolina. Must have been one of those time travel episodes.
1818: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein published. Anonymously, as female authors were often attacked by mobs with torches and pitchforks.
1821: Astronomer Alexis Bouvard detects irregularities in orbit of Uranus. Hey, anytime there's irregularity in Uranus, it needs to be looked into.
1831: Charles Darwin embarks on historic voyage aboard HMS Beagle. But only after asking God not to create a sea monster that sinks him.

Other writing forms that will one day be Nobel-worthy:

Bumper stickers.
Signs held up by football fans.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Friday, October 07, 2016

Face-Lift 1330

Guess the Plot

Developing the Work Force of You

1. You can't do anything about the deadbeats and assholes you work with and under, but this book will show you how to make your own workday more efficient, productive, and fun. Plus it'll inspire you to reflect on how you ended up stuck in the rut you're in and might even help you get a date with Janice in accounting.

2. Theo is an under-performer in the machine empire. When he's assigned a personal life coach, he suddenly has incentive to learn all he can about repairing machines . . . and destroying them. 

3. Mark Candoleso buys an audio self-help book, Developing the Work Force of You to play while he's stuck in LA traffic. At first it's just a standard, self-motivational type of book, no different from some others he's heard. But when it starts to suggest ways of 'eliminating your supervisor without retribution', 'how to change management without involving others', and '10 chemicals that eat flesh', he begins to wonder if maybe he should try some of these plans on that goddamned bastard McReedy.

4. Two words: clone army. If Anya Belifonte can clone herself, her fashion line will never lack a dedicated workforce. Too bad human cloning is illegal, and the only shady scientist for hire would rather have her as his date than as his employer. 

5.  Joe's self help guide ends up a bestseller. Only it turns out he accidentally brainwashed anyone who read it to become an evil henchman. Can Joe undo the damage with a sequel before he takes over the world? 

6. Nobody else in her company knows what they're doing. Evelyn's solution: fire everyone under her and kill everyone over her. The place'll run way more efficiently. Hell, she'll probably get a promotion for coming up with this.

Original Version

I am writing to you today because you represented [inserted similar work that the agent represented} and I feel my book is similar. [Put this at the end of the query.]

DEVELOPING THE WORKFORCE OF YOU is a business book designed to help individuals obtain the most of [from] the working experience by providing guidelines that help an individual identify and correct counterproductive behavior that would preclude them from receiving the maximum benefit from their working experience.  [That sentence is so wordy and vague, the drudgery of my miserable job sounds rather enticing compared to slogging through this book. So in a way, you've already accomplished your purpose by showing me things could be worse.] [You've used the words "individual" and "working experience" twice each in one sentence. More efficient would be to say the book will help workers maximize X, (where X is . . . what? Efficiency? Pleasure? Size of their paycheck?)] The book is structured with guidelines to help aid in this process of understanding and analyzing ones on [one's own] behavior in the workplace.  [That's the second time you've mentioned behavior. Is your target audience people who behave badly at work?] [Also, are there really that many people interested in analyzing their behavior in the workplace?]  At the end of most of the guidelines, [Is each guideline a chapter? If so, use "chapter."] there is a reflection section.   This is where I ask the reader a question 
that they must ask themselves.  [For example, if I ask the reader, "Are you happy with your crappy job?" the reader must ask himself, "Am I happy with my crappy job?"] This enables the reader to be introspective [Maybe you should call it the introspection section instead of the reflection section. Actually, I wouldn't call it any kind of "section" if it's just a question. And if you do call it something, try to make it something that doesn't rhyme.] and will prompt the reader to consider his/her own actions.  [Sample reflection questions:

1. How many hours did I have to work to pay for this book?
2. Where does my boss get off ordering me around? 
3. Is it time for my coffee break yet?
4. Was I wrong to punch Cheever for laughing at my tie?
5. Why didn't I go to film school? I coulda been another Frankenheimer.
6. Uh oh, did I hit "reply all" when I sent Janice in accounting that DicPic?
7. Who you lookin at?
8.  Is daydreaming about Janice in accounting really that unproductive?
9. Who would win a fight between a kangaroo and a goat?
10. Hey, what's Cheever talking to Janice about? I'll kill the bastard.

[Start a new paragraph here.] This book is geared towards young professionals between the ages of 21 to 37 years of age, [First of all, 37 is a strange number to choose as the upper limit to your range. Second, when you say "between the ages of," you don't have to also say "years of age."] whom [who] have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree and are either starting out in the workforce or looking to obtain more value from their work experience.  My book is comparable to various titles such as The Outward Mindset: Seeing beyond ourselves: The Arbinger InstituteMaking Work Work: The Positivity Solution for any work environment and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. [You've already mentioned one title of a book yours is similar to; that's plenty.] 

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work and I look forward to hearing from you.


This is horrible. Assuming you've already completed the book, say so and tell us how many words are in the book.

Also, tell us what qualifies you to write it. Are you an expert in some business field or a psychologist? What business experience do you have?

What does your book have that the other books you've mentioned don't have? Provide a sample chapter or two so we can see one or two of your guidelines and what accompanies those guidelines in the book.

If you haven't completed the book, you still need to include samples, and perhaps an outline of the rest, or at least a proposed table of contents. 

This query letter hasn't done the job of showing specifically what's in your book or demonstrating that you can organize a lot of information into a cohesive work. 

Start over and be specific.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Synopsis 55

Guess the Plot


1. Immortals can hold a grudge for a very long time. Helen knows this very well as all her previous incarnations were killed by the same immortal guy for some betrayal millennial ago. Can she convince the guy to forgive her before she is killed off too?

2. Queen Adile back-stabs King Thume since she'd been sleeping with Duke Iolae (who's also sleeping with the king), but is in turn betrayed (as is the Duke by one of his other mistresses). It's up to head goon Schultz to stop the kingdom from dissolving.

3. Problem: Lonely, plain Ellen has a crush on super-popular, super hot Martin. But she'll never get him to go to the prom with her, not when there's gorgeous Kelsie to be had. Solution: Have her cute friend Molly ask him to go, then change at the dance! There's just one more problem, though: Kelsie has also asked Molly for the same favor. Will hilarity ensue--or murder?

4. Diamond betrays Kimberly, by starting a relationship with Joaquin. Abraham becomes interested in Piggy, but Piggy likes Javier. I could go on and on. So many women sleeping with their friends' men that you can't keep up with it all, and eventually you don't care anyway. Also, murder, Colombian drug lords, and baseball.

5. Private detective George Furtzman is hired to prove Jane Quaintly is embezzling from Judge Readmann. Jane, formerly Readmann’s trusted secretary, is hired as his household manager upon his retirement. The heirs are certain she is stealing him blind. George pretends to be an antiquarian interested in the Judge’s rare books. Then he falls in love with Jane. Should George betray Jane’s affection, sending her to prison, or the heirs who trust him? 

6. When she finds out her husband and her sister have been sleeping together for the past six years, Marion has some decisions to make, namely which one to murder (or rather which one to murder first), and which country with no extradition treaty with the US to move to before the bodies are found.

7. Comprehensive step-by-step instructions to show how you, too, can become a master in backstabbing, divulging sensitive information about your employer, cheating on your spouse, releasing compromising photos about your bestie to the press and drowning your most loyal pet. A must for all aspiring politicians! 

Original Version

Blue Orchids: Betrayal is about 6 wealthy black families. They live in Atlanta, at the fictional Lake Garnett. Blue Orchids: Betrayal is the first installment to an intended series. The color blue is a symbolic representation of the emotional themes explored in this book young. ["This book young"? Possibly you should have read this before submitting it.] Flowers always represent women. Orchids in particular represent luxury as the young women of this book come from wealthy families. [Not clear why you're explaining this symbolism. The synopsis is supposed to summarize the plot, i.e. what happens in your book.]

The families on the surface have built their wealth legitimately. The family matriarch Romanda, is a talk show legend with a media empire. [She's Oprah Winfrey. Got it.] But her brother in law Dante Harris who is a retired two sport athlete who grew his fortune drug smuggling with his adopted brother Prescott Stiller. Prescott is a wealthy, well connected, and a ruthless criminal lawyer. Prescott happens to be best friends with a Colombian official that has connected Dante to the world of international drug trading and his two sons Joaquin and Javier and nephew DeMarco. Prescott and Dante disguises their illegal practices through the Harris Warehouse that wholesales appliances. Between Romanda’s success and Dante’s illegal practices, the family’s wealth has connected them with top businessmen, attorneys, and politicians.

The family’s success [Which family? You said there were six families.] in this book however is highlighted [shown? revealed?] through the extravagant lifestyles of their high school aged daughters. The family matriarch’s niece is the main character, Diamond, she is the antagonist. The first line of conflict in the book is a relationship torn apart by Diamond’s lack of respect for her matriarch aunt’s daughter, Imanni. Imanni is in a relationship with the much older Wesley. Diamond learns that one of her best friend’s [friends] Christina is sleeping with him, and does nothing about it. [Is this matriarch aunt the matriarch of one family or all six families or some other number?]

Diamond and Imanni lead their best friends. Imanni’s best friends are Maciesha and Ambi. Diamond’s best friends are Piggy, Christina, and Chantrelle. Both groups have a mutual friendship with Kimberly. [No one can keep track of this many characters in such a short space. Kimberly has a relationship with Black Colombian Joaquin, who is a Harris Warehouse employee. Diamond betrays Kimberly, by starting a relationship with Joaquin. Because of this relationship Kim loses the affections of her money hungry mother and gets thrown out of the family home, leaving Kim pregnant and homeless. While sleeping in her car she becomes a victim of a brutal rape and drugging, causing her to lose the baby.

One of Imanni’s friends, Maciesha is in love with a stupid criminal named Abraham. Abraham becomes interested in Piggy. But Piggy likes Joaquin’s younger brother Javier. [Is this a gag query?] Piggy and Abraham do not carry on a love affair. But Abraham however shows Piggy his stash of one million dollars, and large amount of cocaine and marijuana. She tells Javier who tells Joaquin. Diamond learns of Joaquin’s plans of robbery, and doesn’t care, only requesting him not to murder her lifelong friend. Maciesha who is almost nine months pregnant is shot in the head. Abraham dies, as well as the baby. Maciesha clings to life. [Everyone dies except the one who was shot in the head?] She awakes with no memory, clearing Joaquin.

Diamond does face some consequence when Imanni learns of Christina and Wesley’s relationship. She brutally beats the two of them, and goes to confront Wesley. [She brutally beats him and then goes to confront him?] He however turns the tables by brutally beating her. Imanni is rescued by Javier. They fall in love, leaving Piggy heart broken, because she has lost her virginity to Javier. Piggy rages war against Imanni, they battle the entire book.

Christina who has now turned against Diamond, but fears of telling her, invites them all to her pro- baseball player brother’s wedding in New Orleans. While the family is away Joaquin, who is feeling guilt and sorrow about all that happened to his former girlfriend Kimberly decides to rekindle his romance with Kim despite still being in a very serious relationship with Diamond. Diamond however finds herself at the wedding in New Orleans in the arms of a mystery man who is much older and married, but equally captivating dancing with me him [her] all night long. They do not exchange names. [This is going on too long. You've had sex, drugs, crime, murder, and Oprah, but it's not grabbing us because it's presented as a list of characters and events with no focus and very little elaboration.]

Diamond returns home and finds things to be odd in her relationship. Joaquin is moody, distant, and disappears frequently. They do their best to rekindle but end up breaking up after a concert. Joaquin runs to Kim, they make love. Diamond’s mother accidently re-introduces the mystery man, from the wedding back into Diamond’s life. His name is Victor Monroe. They begin a friendship that has a much deeper and honest connection than Diamond has ever experienced. But Diamond knows their love is forbidden, so she lies about her age. The family also hates Victor Monroe. Victor once worked for Prescott Stiller’s law firm. Victor stole his best attorneys and four of his largest corporations to start his new and highly successful law practice.

Unannounced to Diamond the readers and Diamond’s family learn that Kim is pregnant. While Diamond desperately clings to the hope of having another shot at love with Joaquin. Kim’s pregnancy is revealed to Diamond at Diamond’s 17th birthday party. Diamond also finds out her family, minus her mother and best friend Piggy knew that Kim was pregnant by Joaquin her entire pregnancy.

Kim attempts to apologize to Diamond at a local restaurant. Here Kim observes Victor Monroe in the lobby of the restaurant. She does not know who he is and he does not know her. She observes his wedding band, hears him lying to his wife on the phone, and smells his cologne. The same cologne she smells at the table where Diamond is sitting. Kim does apologize, they have a heated argument, where Kim reveals that she knows that Diamond is there with a married man. Kim leaves and tells Diamond’s aunt Romanda. Romanda reveals that Victor Monroe is married to her best friend Pamela Monroe.

The Harris Warehouse begins to fall apart. Shane, Diamond’s mother hires Victor Monroe and his firm to defend Dante, Joaquin and his brothers. Dante, Joaquin and his brothers are all indicted on a federal level. After the arrests Diamond decides to stay with Joaquin. Joaquin falls for Kim more and more as he anticipates the arrival of his baby girl. He continues to cancel dates and neglect Diamond. But Diamond stays busy with her friend Victor. Falling for him despite all the reasons not too. [to] The night Joaquin and Kim’s daughter, Justice Micaela is born, Diamond decides to make love to Victor. Diamond finds out making love to a man 18 years older can be addictive. They decide to take their friendship to the next level. While the family minus Shane and Piggy are in love with Kim and Joaquin’s baby girl. The family also learns that Victor has negotiated a plea deal that sends Dante to prison for 10 years and advises Joaquin and his brother to return to Colombia.


This is why I request that synopses be no longer than 400 words. If someone shows interest in your book and requests a longer synopsis, fine, but they will learn to be careful what they wish for. 

Start over. Diamond is your main character, so get to her in paragraph 1, not paragraph 3. Tell us her story. What does she want, what's keeping her from getting it, what's her plan, what goes wrong, what does she do about it? Make us care about her. Don't just list things that happen.  

Unfortunately, a more concise synopsis won't help if there are lots of errors--missing commas and hyphens, run-on sentences, etc.--because we will assume the book has the same problems. I'm pretty sure the book does have the same problems. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Success Story

Though the author never contacted me, I just discovered that Damsel to the Rescue, the book featured in Face-Lift 1027, came out last year.

Amazon page link 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Synopsis 54

Lauren Haywood is an optimistic worrier. [Meaning what? She's optimistic that none of the horrible things she worries about will actually happen?] Ever since she saw monsters barging into her house and her parents being mauled in the blink of an eye, [she's become a pessimistic worrier. Can you blame her?] she took [has taken] it upon herself to find food so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to Dustin, her brother, [If she finds food, monsters won't maul her brother? Why not?] even with the beratement she received. [What was she berated for, and by whom?] So that they could live to reach an evacuation centre. [Which is a place you go when you've evacuated another place?] 

But in the middle of their traverse, a mountain lion disrupted their path and turned on them. [It's pretty standard to use present tense when summarizing a plot.] Dustin barely surviving with lethal cuts, and then ambushed by Unawakened, she exerted herself beyond the limits to save themselves. [Terrible sentence. Easier to delete it than to try salvaging it.] When she manages to come [comes] to, a stranger is with her and with some hesitation, they accepted his help to guide them to the nearest evacuation [centre]. [That sentence starts in present tense and ends in past.]

After Dustin and Lauren were successfully admitted, everything went back to an almost daily-like life. [I assume a daily-like life is a life that passes one day at a time. But what is an almost daily-like life?] Just with some exception of fighting and learning how to combat and protect, while blending in as a human, [Are they human?] courtesy of her parents’ instruction. When Dustin was conscripted into the patrol, some residents took advantage of his absence and threatened Lauren. For the price of revealing her elemental power in self-defense, she was thrown into jail to be executed. 

Storming [Brainstorming?] for ways to escape, Cory, the stranger, told her her brother wasn’t one of the three survivors from the patrol. Lauren broke herself out with assist [help] from Cory and went to find him. Discovering him with a three-day-old bite mark, Cory explained that he knew someone who could help. A biologist. Unknowingly, she stepped into the trap. He disclosed that her father, James Haywood, was an instigator of wars between Mages and humans. That Cory’s father was killed by him. That he anticipated the day he could have his revenge.

Kept and experimented [Imprisoned and tortured,] she tried to escape and succeeded [escaped], but [was] caught when she searched for Dustin. Tied in front of the residents, the crowd riled up [This says that the crowd is tied in front of the residents. Also, people can get riled up or rile up other people, but they don't just rile up. ] at the notion of the instigator’s daughter at their mercy. [Seems more likely they'd be thirsting for blood than getting riled up.]

Day after day passed agonizingly by when [until] help came in the form of a boy. As they broke out with a kidnapped Cory, they headed to their destination to rescue Dustin : Twin Falls. The place where their parents died.


There's no point to working on a query and synopsis until you improve your writing skills by doing lots of reading and writing and studying, paying special attention to word meanings and grammar. Sorry to sound so evil, but when you submit to Evil Editor, you know what to expect.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Face-Lift 1329

Guess the Plot

The Hatchet

1. An innocent hatchet, bought by a serial killer, must devise a way to bring his master to justice.

2. You may have read the Newbery Award-winning young-adult wilderness survival novel of the same name. Same story, but this time it's about a girl. Also, this one has talking animals. 

3. A hatchet found in an abandoned hotel where a grizzly murder spree took place is now on display at a local museum. Will the class touring the facility successfully write their required report on the exhibit, or will they succumb one by one to the haunted object? 

4. Ah, my pretty, so firm in the hand we are, so strong, so smooth, so sharp. Are we cold and hungry? Why yes, yes we are. But not for long my pretty. Soon the screaming will begin and we shall find warm flesh to sate ourselves in.

5. Lauren finds a hatchet and wonders if it's the hatchet that was buried back when the humans-mages feud ended. It must be, or someone wouldn't have written a book about it called The Hatchet. Which means the hatchet will fetch a pretty penny on eBay, or it would have if civilization hadn't been completely decimated.

6. When Todd shoplifts a hatchet from the hardware store, he has no idea his little brother will get hold of it and use it to chop up their baby sister. What Todd does know is that he's the one who'll probably get blamed for this, which would be totally unfair.

7. He wanted to be feared. His calling card- a hatchet left standing in the ribs of his enemies-should make his alias known throughout Ontario. His next victim: the news editor who keeps reporting him as `that ax guy.' 

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The Hatchet is complete at 49,000 words and a low fantasy YA.

Civilizations has desecrated into ruins and disrepair [First of all, desecrated isn't the word you want. You may have meant decimated, but even so, civilization hasn't decimated; something else did the decimating, and civilization has been decimated.] ever since the incursion of Unawakened. [To simplify: Civilization has been decimated by the Unawakened.] [Who named them the Unawakened? If they managed to decimate us while they were sleeping, I'm glad we never had to face them when they were awake.] And Lauren wants nothing more than to survive holed up in an evacuation centre somewhere with her brother, Dustin. But when he's gravely injured, things had to take a detour and she is forced to overexert herself to save him from them. When she strangely manages to come to, [Before stating that she comes to, you might state that she lost consciousness. It isn't implied by the action of overexerting. Also, the word "manages" suggests that she takes an active role in coming to, which isn't usually how it works when you're unconscious. Also, what do you mean "strangely"? I admit it's strange that she manages to do anything after losing consciousness, but perhaps it would be best to simply say, When she comes to.] she made [makes] her way to the nearest evac-but not alone. [No point saying "but not alone" unless you also say who else is along.] All was [is] well until Dustin is reported as dead.

As she escapes the evacuation [centre] to find him, [Why is it called an evacuation centre? Refugee centre or safe house sounds more like it. Evacuation centre sounds like a public restroom in Great Britain. It's not clear that anything was evacuated, anyway, unless all of civilization has evacuated all places.] she discovers a secret that'd long breathed in the dark. A hatchet that's dusted only on the surface. [Is "escapes" the right word? Are those in the centre not permitted to leave?] [What do you mean "dusted only on the surface"? I can't tell if that means there is dust on the surface or there isn't. Or neither. Where else could a hatchet be dusted besides the surface? I mean, if you look at a hatchet and say, "This hatchet has been dusted," we assume you mean the surface. We don't wonder if the interior of the hatchet has also been dusted.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


{The Hatchet refers to the feud between humans and Mage, that comes from the saying 'bury the hatchet'. In this case, "A hatchet that's dusted only on the surface" means the humans tried to broker a peaceful pact with Mage but did nothing to soothe the hatred and resentment simmering under the surface. Thus, creating a hatchet that's polished on the outside but has hidden cracks.} 

[1. Presumably this explanation is not part of the query, and thus will not be read by anyone, and thus will not clear up the meaning of "dusted only on the surface." 
2. If the phrase is to be used at all, maybe it should be "polished only on the surface," as "dusted" can mean that dust was applied or removed. Better yet, "only half-buried," since it comes from "bury the hatchet." Is the hatchet she finds one that was buried after the feud? In any case, finding a hatchet is an odd way to end your summary. It sounds more like where the main plot begins than where it reaches a crucial moment. It's no more meaningful to us than if she found a pendant or a yoyo or a screwdriver.
3. There's nothing in the query about anyone named Mage, but there's a brief mention in the synopsis that was also submitted (to be posted tomorrow) of a war between humans and mages. Not clear why it's Mage (singular) in the explanation here. Is Mage a country? Are the unawakened the Mage?]


You need to clearly summarize your story in the query. The synopsis may have more detail, but no one's going to read the synopsis if the query is unimpressive.

The plot summary switches back and forth between past and present so often I got dizzy.

Who are the Unawakened and what do they want? What does Lauren want, assuming she finds her brother?

Many of the word choices are either way off or at least not spot-on. This will lead anyone who reads the query to assume the book has the same problem. I know this because I have made this assumption.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Face-Lift 1328

Guess the Plot

From the Skies

1. Everyone is running, for the birds of the sky have a delivery for anyone below. If you thought Hitchcock's version was bad, just wait until you read the aftermath:  From the Skies: The White Deluge

2. It drips. It sprinkles. It dribbles, drizzles, plops, splashes, pours, and mists. There are many ways to describe rain. But what's coming down isn't rain. It's blood. And it reeks. 

3. Apprentice falconer Charles cleans the mews, treats the leather gloves, jesses, and hoods, etc. When one of the prized gyrfalcons falls ill, Master Abdul orders Charles to kill her. Instead he spirits her off to his quarters and nurses her back to health. Under his command, his new friend will take out Abdul, making Charles the head falconer.

4. The leader of the Skye Mission has been swooping in aboard his dragon and burning entire cities right and left. No one else has done anything to stop him, so it's up to Logan Winters to save the world. But is this thirteen-year-old girl up to the task?

5. When crack cable-car operator Hafno Witz suddenly discovers that his gondola is in free fall, he springs into action, organizing his panicked passengers into a synchronized arm-flapping team.

6. On a routine reconnaissance mission, air force lieutenant Chichun Liddle finds holes in the sky leading to another dimension. Unfortunately, the top brass are too concerned with budget cuts to fight off an alien invasion. Also, Cthulhu. 

7. The official cause of Mark Rugger's death is 'fall from an airplane'. But why does he have giant claw marks on his back?

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Novel Title: From the Skies

Logan Winters has been chosen to join the Celestial League, a warrior alliance which governs her world. Logan is thirteen; her parents and friends tell her she is too young to survive on her own in the vast country of Lunos. [What's the connection between joining this warrior alliance and surviving alone in Lunos? That's like if you got drafted by the Golden State Warriors and when you show up for practice they tell you you're not actually on the team, you're playing alone in Antarctica.] [In other words, why are her parents saying, "You're too young to survive on your own in Lunos" instead of "You're too young to join the warrior alliance that governs our world."? She and her best friend Tracey set out to prove their naysayers wrong, confident they are capable of wielding Celestians, magical creatures with which humans have a fraught history. [Apparently to survive in Lunos you must be capable of wielding Celestians? What does "wielding Celestians" mean? Maybe there's a better word than "wielding."] [Also, I don't like "fraught history." A history fraught with betrayal/mistrust/treachery.] Shortly after leaving home, [Did their parents agree to let them go, or are they sneaking away?] Logan and Tracey [Has Tracey also been chosen to join the Celestial League?] encounter unexpected obstacles within themselves and without. Logan struggles to reconcile who she is [Logan Winters.] with who she wants to be, [Ariana Grande.] and Tracey is visited nightly with strange nightmares of darkness and terrible voices.

Logan and Tracey are blissfully unaware of the massive conflict threatening to strangle [a massive threat to] the Celestial League: the anarchistic Skye Mission, a once-noble organization whose leader has been burning cities left and right atop his golden dragon. [How did all these cities get on top of his dragon?] Will McCrae, who has served the League for years, joins his peers in an attempt to quash the destruction. [Rebellions are quashed. Destruction is ended.] An upheaval stirs the League; those who would choose peace struggle with those hungry for war. [As usual, those hungry for war are the ones with the dragons.] Will himself must decide which he values most: his duty to the League, or his duty to those he might lose if he remains loyal. [Whom will he lose by staying loyal?]

The Skye Mission suffers corruption of its own. Skylar Lethe, its leader, is a dangerous yet noble man, focused not on destruction [This is the guy who's been burning cities left and right, right?] but reconciliation with his past mistakes. [Once he's incinerated every city he ever made a mistake in, he'll finally be able to sleep at night.] His obsession with what was has blinded him to what is: an uprising within the Mission, led by a woman with a love for depraved killing methods and a man whose incredible intelligence only enhances his sociopathic tendencies. [Finally, some characters I can identify with.] Skylar is ruthless: he sees the clear path from point A to point B and he will do absolutely anything to achieve his ultimate goal. [Which is point C.] [He sounds a lot like the depraved woman and sociopathic man. What's Skylar's ultimate goal, and what's theirs?] 

All sides in this war threaten to converge in a cataclysmic final battle in the city of Columba. Logan and Tracey will suffer betrayal; Will, heartbreak; and Skylar, treason. [Everyone ends up miserable? Is this fantasy or litfic?]

FROM THE SKIES is the first in the six-part Celestial Cycle and is [complete at] 100,000 words in its completed form. It follows a close-third-person point of view style and is told in the unique voices of five characters from different sides of the conflict (Logan, Tracey, Will, Skylar, and a conflicted member of the Skye Mission named Natalia). It’s a fantasy novel that examines the morality of war, along with the fundamental definition of a good person. It will appeal to new adults who grew up on the Harry Potter series with its diverse cast, youthful protagonists, and adult themes hidden beneath dragons and adventure. [It is a standalone fantasy novel with series potential.] [If that's not true, you'd best make it true, as there's no chance of selling a six-part anything at this stage of your career.]

I am a graduate student at Villanova University, studying for a Masters in Theater. I am an avid reader of fantasy; I was reared on The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter. [I don't see any of that helping your cause.]



So in a few days a planet-ruling warrior alliance and a guy with a dragon capable of burning entire cities and Goldfinger and Dracula's bride and a thirteen-year-old girl with her best friend will converge on one city. Lemme guess: the kids win.

This is mostly a list of characters with some information about each one. It's pretty vague when it comes to what happens. The people threaten to converge. If you choose one character to focus the query on you might have room to get to the plot. Obviously the most intriguing character is the woman with a love for depraved killing methods, but it seems Logan and Will play bigger roles. I'd focus on Will, as he's the one with the obvious conflict, and Logan, being thirteen, is more likely to appeal to sixth-graders than new adults.

You might consider putting this project aside while you write a 90,000-word fantasy. Like The Hobbit. When you reach the point where everything you touch turns to gold, you can hit them with your epic hexalogy.