Sunday, November 30, 2008

NoMoWriMo 2

I was watching Dancing with the Stars in the nude when the doorbell rang. My friends all know not to interrupt me when I'm watching Dancing with the Stars, so I figured it was either Mormons or Madonna. But I was wrong on both counts.

"Who is it?" I yelled through the door.

"Federal Express." A woman's voice.

"Leave it on the doorstep," I said.

"Someone needs to sign for it."

"Shit," I muttered. I yanked one of the drapes down from the living room window and wrapped myself up like a mummy. But when I tried to get to the door I realized it was a mistake to wrap my legs together. I fell to the floor and struggled to move, looking like a giant pulsating larva. How did mummies manage? Apparently they wrapped their legs separately. "Just a minute," I hollered. I rolled over and over, hoping to unwrap myself, but I was rolling in the wrong direction. It was like when you're undoing the twist tie on a loaf of bread, and eventually you realize you're twisting the wrong way, which means you've doubled the number of twists you have to undo. I was now twice as wrapped-up in the drape. I couldn't move.

It was then that I realized the door wasn't locked anyway. "It's open!" I yelled.

She came in. She looked down at me, a human head protruding from a giant tube like a man being swallowed by an anaconda.

"Don't ask," I said.

"Lemme guess. Performance art. You're a butterfly emerging from--"

"Very funny."

"Is there someone here who can sign for this package? Someone whose arms aren't inside a cocoon? Or should I stick the pen in your mouth?"

"I'd prefer that you just get me out of this. Can you roll me toward the couch?"

"Hmm. I can see the top of your shoulder. No shirt? What are you wearing under your wrap?"

"Well . . . Nothing. But--"

"Ewwwww. What's in the package, your anatomically correct blow-up doll?"

"I assume it's a manuscript from some semi-literate hack author," I told her.

"Says here it's from someone named Grisham."

"Burn it."

"No, I better open it," she said. "It could be good." She unwrapped the package.

"This is highly irregular," I said. "Do you normally open--"

"It's called The Ambulance Chaser. I'll read it to you."

"I've died and gone to hell," I moaned. "It's the only explanation."
"He'd been a partner in the biggest law firm in Washington; now he was reduced to this. Les Highbottom stopped his client as they were about to enter the courtroom. 'Here, put this on,' he said, handing the woman a neck brace.

"'What for?' Nancy Fester asked. 'My neck's fine. I'm suing him for keying my car while I was in the mall.'

"'Trust me, wearing this is worth an extra half million with the jury, no matter what the defendant's charged with.'"

"Stop reading," I said. "I can't take any more. Grisham writing about small claims court is like Hemingway writing about mud wrestling. Just leave me here in my misery, will you? But first, turn me so I'm facing the TV. I don't want to miss Edyta Sliwinska's dance."

Letter to the Editor 6

Dear EE,

Much as I'm a great admirer of your informative and witty blog, I regret our association must come to an end.

When you chose to prostrate yourself naked on my doorstep this Thanksgiving, I greeted your spontaneous arrival with the good hearted generosity appropriate for the occasion, and in spite of the unseemly humour you displayed as you mooned at my next-door neighbour, I bid you welcome to my home. Your subsequent behaviour betrayed so audacious a lack of manners, I am ashamed at myself for sharing a common ancestor with you.

Let me outline my considerable grievances.

Firstly, having spent the better part of Wednesday afternoon preparing an exquisite sage and onion stuffing for the turkey, I would much rather it had found its way into the grateful stomachs of my assembled family rather than being scooped whole from said bird's crisping rectum and hurled like a cannonball at what you mistakenly believed to be (and I quote) a "fucking squirrel." My wife paid $150 for that perm.

Secondly, the Whirl household considers it neither well-mannered nor indicative of comic genius for adults to engage in the lighting of farts while guzzling handfuls of pumpkin pie for "fuel", particularly when the blowtorch employed is slung from the groin in a purpose-built harness.

Finally, although she is still remarkably active for her age, my disabled 96-year-old grandmother no longer gives, nor receives, French kisses.

A lesser man would ostracise you from his life immediately, but in the spirit of giving thanks, I am willing to grant you one final opportunity to take a look at my manuscript before calling on the good Lord to smite you with his most unforgiving wrath till every last breath is beaten from your miserable stinking body.

Up Yours Sincerely,

Whirl

Letter to the Editor 5

Well, that was just great. Just great. Like I wanted to hear all about his bowel habits at the dinner table. Like I wanted to hear all about how the cranberries in the relish wormed their way through His Royal Hiney's intestinal tract. Sure I did. Sure…

And what the hell…who says they voided…voided…instead of simply saying they peed. Come to think of it, who the hell tells people about their pee habits, anyway? Then he did this faux eloquent waxing on and on about him 'voiding into the void' like he was some existential literary turkey or something. I mean, there I was, all rapt attention and all I got for it was a piss talk…

No, well, no, I didn't cook this year. He said he wanted to be taken out. Yeah. Out. So I took him out. Nice place. Overlooking the Potomac. Got a wonderful table by the window…blue skies…wonderful food…wonderful view…and what does he say? He says he can't see the Capitol Building and I'd said he'd have a wonderful view of the Capitol Building but there was a tree in the way and he was pissed off with the wrong kind of relish and no Capitol Building view…

And he chews with his mouth open. Oh yeah. He does.

Talked about himself the whole damn time, before, after and sometimes during each swallow.

And he hums to himself. Did you know that? No? I'm thinking he must work alone or something to get away with this crap.

Yeah, I know. I know. I always had a thing for the guy. You know I'm a sucker for a smartass with brains. But Good Lord. There'd have to be a Charm School for Aging Editors to change my mind back about that. When I think of all the wasted fantasy time…

All I know is…he was gonna have a nice, nice dessert, a nice tasty concoction, kind of a take on this drizzly banana thing I do. But I bought him a slice of nut pie instead.

--Robin

Letter to the Editor 4

Dear EE,

Many thanks for your presence at our Thanksgiving table, and while I've tried to excuse your behavior by telling my wife you apparently mixed up our invitation with one from Caligula, she's not buying it. A few notes on why we've decided against a return engagement.

First of all, like you, I enjoy the drumstick, so it was a bit annoying to have you grab both of them. And it was even more annoying when you yelled, "Watch me play the bongos!" and used the drumsticks to bang out the drum solo from In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida on my sister's breasts.

Secondly, it goes without saying--or at least it should--that when, after calling, "Food fight!" you eventually realize you are the only person participating, it's time to move on, preferably while there are still some mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce in the bowls.

Finally, while we've all chuckled at the many amusing phrases describing you know what, from flogging the dolphin to spanking the monkey to polishing the bayonet, I don't believe "stuffing the turkey" is one of them, and even if it is, a demonstration, however entertaining, was inappropriate. I'm surprised anyone was willing to even eat any turkey after your performance.

Regards,

Anon

P.S. My nephew Harry asked me to inquire as to whether you'd be available to attend his bachelor party next month.


--EE

Letter to the Editor 3

Dear Evil,

It seems I owe you an apology for my brusque demeanor upon your departure.

I would, in fact, like to thank you for your gracious presence at our Thanksgiving dinner; your unannounced arrival was a considerable surprise to us all and your presence enlivened what would otherwise have been a quiet, family tradition.

I must extend my heartfelt thanks for your most generous gift of a Turkey, and, as I reflect back upon David and Jemima’s excited squeals as they chased it around the dining room, I must agree with you: one is never too young to understand where one’s food comes from.

Thanks to your impromptu critique, David has abandoned his plans to be a writer. Second grade, I’m sure, is exactly the time to be making such decisions.

It was most fortuitous that you happened upon my case of Chateau LaTour, which, in retrospect, was a much more fitting accompaniment than the Chilean Shiraz I had selected. Not everyone could enjoy the fourth bottle of a hundred dollar wine as much as the first.

We were thrilled that you also enjoyed my wife’s handmade bread rolls. By the way, my Aunt Elizabeth has always been of a very delicate disposition; we are sure she will make a full recovery and, when she awakes, will look back on your impression of a hot dog with amusement rather than mortification.

It is hard to believe it has been only two weeks, yet the heady aroma of your Russian cigars is already beginning to fade. Incidentally, if you recall where you left my sterling silver ashtray, please write back.

My apologies for not writing sooner; I would have sent an e-mail, but I seem also to have mislaid my new Macbook Pro.

In closing, my wife asks me to tell you, you must stay longer at Christmas. Are you really planning on visiting us at Christmas too?

Yours Sincerely,

--ril

Letter to the Editor 2

Dear Evil Editor,

This letter is regarding the debacle which took place at the Hall of Reviews last Thursday, a.k.a. Thanksgiving Day, during our local writers pot luck luncheon, for which you had agreed to be key note speaker.

I was thrilled when you said you were sending mariated mignon. We don't have filet mignon often and looked forward to the special recipe. But imagine our horror when, instead of a culinary delight, ten of your minions show up - intoxicated - and critiqued everyone's work! What a menagerie you have: birds, tiny bears, rodents and camel creatures. And what were those weredingie thingies? Worst of all, you failed to show up!

This DF person kept comparing authors work with unknowns like Grisham and Chekhov (wasn't he from Star Trek?). Someone called "WW" spent the day speculating changing story settings to other worlds. Robbie, or whoever she was, dared sit next to our group president talking in double entendres. Well, perhaps that wasn't so bad. He seemed to enjoy it. Paca somebody and this naked squirrel worked in tandem. Paca would spit out a series of corrections, and the squirrel would tell them to quit whining when they complained. Then there was the bear, the mole and this BBJD person, who ate all of the cold boiled shrimp!

I know what you'll say: their criticisms were on the mark. Well, okay. They were. But half the group ran from the hall promising to never return! I owe you for this, EE. I owe you big.

Do you take VISA? Or would a payment plan be best?

Oh, I'm having a Christmas luncheon in a couple of weeks for members who weren't able to attend Thanksgiving. Any chance the minions could stop by?

Sincerely,

Kanta Sofer
Secretary
Impoverished Writers' Group
Iowa Chapter

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Film Series



Next time you're in Evil Editor's Shorts, why not try a delicious hot pork wiener? Our concession stand has a full array of tasty lunch items.


video

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Cartoon 267

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Q & A 159

I could use some help with a phrase I'm using - I'm not sure how to write it. The phrase is "We've been up and down the I's" (I is for Island). The 's looks possessive. On the other hand, using Is looks like I'm writing the word 'is'. If I use the apostrophe, will that work?


When I was in school an apostrophe + s was the way to pluralize a letter or number. For example:

You must have gone to school in the 1920's, Evil Editor.

So what if I got all C's and D's on my report card; I graduated, didn't I?

It's become acceptable to not use the apostrophe now, but I don't think that means using it is improper.

By the way, I would have had no idea what you were talking about if you hadn't told me I's meant Islands. People actually say that? Seems like it could get confusing when spoken aloud. For instance, Virginia has oddly shaped I's would mean something quite different from Virginia has oddly shaped eyes.

In short, use the apostrophe. And make sure the editor knows what the "I" stands for so she can change it to "Islands."

Cartoon 266

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Beginning 579

I knew that the high water mark of my time in the town of Hope was my coercion and corruption of Jimmy Monroe, forcing him into setting fire to the City Hall and to murder himself. My mistake was in staying in Hope an extra month.

Heroin addiction is not what it’s made out to be. I had discovered in my youth that addiction need not be fatal, or that it need be out of control. A visit with expatriate Americans on the Dam in Amsterdam turned up a number of old hippies and political activist types who had chosen heroin as their lifestyle, and further had the intelligence to go to a country where the marketing forces for the drug were not out to kill them. These older, and happier, ex-hippies made a desultory living at this and that, and scraped by without upsetting their neighbors or the system. In return for their complacent and quiet existence free of crime, the state organized clean junk for them to put in their veins. The drug-addicted were uniformly pale, but then, all the Dutch around them were, at least during the long, wet winters. My junkie heroes weren’t remarkably underweight, and they had beautiful creamy skin, and they seemed quite content.

Anyway, it was when I was in the Dam that I started a business helping teenage boys lose their virginity. It paid well, kept my crack habit fed, and didn't take up much of my time. On a good day, I could do a dozen in the space of an hour. On Sundays there'd be a queue round the block. It was while watching them stumble into my little room and fight their way out of their brogues that I came up with the idea of a lightweight, slip-on shoe made out of recycled plastics . . . What? Don't look at me like that! Okay, so I invented Crocs; does that make me such a bad person?


Opening: Scott Jones.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 265

Caption: Evil Editor

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Face-Lift 581


Guess the Plot

All the Way to Amen

1. Katherine is having trouble forgiving the man who killed her only child in a grisly murder--until she realizes through prayer and a spiritual journey that she's made a few mistakes in her life, too.

2. Sunny Pristeen knew she was saved, until the day she let Beauregard Tauchss pull her drawers down in the choir loft. Actually, that would have been OK--Bo was like, really dreamy--except that slimy Luther Lupin saw them and made Sunny pay for his silence in the same coin. He kept his word though, and Sunny thought her prayers had been answered--until the next full moon rose above the horizon.

3. Little Lulu Landry has never managed to keep her eyes closed the entire prayer. Tonight she's determined to make it all the way to amen. But her pesky kitty cat, Lucifer, has other ideas...

4. Tommy and Gina have been dating for two years and they still haven't had sex because Gina was raised a good Catholic girl and she always says her prayers. Tommy doesn't mind Gina living on her prayers but he would like to get into her pants. Now that he's discovered an "Incantation de Concupiscere" can he persuade Gina to go . . . all the way to Amen?

5. Herman's head is bowed, and he's praying -- that he doesn't accidentally emit a snore. If he can just last until the service ends, then he can nap before the game. But it's toasty inside, and his eyelids feel like bowling balls. And now his wife Annie is giving him the Glare Of Hellfire...

6. Spike Thornby must stand in the grass under a full moon and pray aloud in a heartfelt and inspiring manner before his crush, Linda May, will consider his proposal, but -- woe! Interruptions galore! Fierce dogs, howling fathers, wayward robbers, and someone who may or may not be St. Jerome or the hobo from Toledo, disrupt Spike's recitations with such regularity May is doubtful he will make it . . . all the way to Amen.


Original Version

Dear Agent:

If someone murdered one of your loved ones—and not just any loved one, but the love of your life, your son—could you forgive the killer? [Yes, just as I feel certain he'll forgive me when I hire a hitman to take him out.] That is the predicament Katherine Wainwright faces in All the Way to Amen.

This story analyzes the concept of forgiveness. [You're losing me. I don't want to read about philosophy; I want to read about grisly murders.] Katherine Wainwright is an affluent woman who loses her son to a grisly murder and ultimately forgives his killer. [That sentence just rehashes the first paragraph.] Her spiritual journey forces Katherine into gut-wrenching self-examination, a process with which I believe many readers will identify. Katherine has done many things throughout her life that garner forgiveness [I don't see "garner" as the right word here. Possibly you're going for "merit" or "warrant" or "deserve," though it's not up to her whether she deserves forgiveness. I'd go with "beg."] including a one-time tryst with her brother-in-law that produced her son, a fact that doesn't surface until many years after the boy's death. This imperfect woman who once lived a life trying to exude perfection must learn how to forgive herself before she can forgive others—especially the man who took her son from her. [Who am I to cast stones at this man who committed a grisly murder when I once had fantastic sex with my sister's husband? (Or was it her husband's brother?)]

Many people gain satisfaction from watching the privileged endure hardship; however, I feel readers will cheer Katherine's return from despair as she becomes a more self-actualized and compassionate human being. The central theme of All the Way to Amen is pertinent in today's society of self-absorption, impulsive litigation and where vengeance, rather than forgiveness, is often considered the next reasonable step. I believe this book will appeal to women ages 30 to 55, especially mothers, and at 65,000 words it is paced for a quick and easy read. [You make it sound like you purposely cut it down to 65,000 words as a favor to the readers. I'd like to think it's 65,000 words because that's how long it was when you got to the end, not because you wanted it to be quick and easy for us.]

(I give my bio info and publishing history here)

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

Sincerely,


Notes

I believe many readers will identify [with the process].
I feel readers will cheer Katherine's return from despair.
I believe this book will appeal to women ages 30 to 55.

Believe it or not, it doesn't matter to the editor what an author believes about her own book. This stuff isn't as bad as the claims that the book will sell millions of copies or make a great movie, but the editor can decide how the book will affect readers and to whom it will appeal. The best way to convince us to read your book is not with themes and societal importance; it's with a compelling plot. Thus:

Is the murder in the book? Does Katherine discover the body? Is there a confrontation between Katherine and the murderer? Does the murderer get away with it? Does she look for the murderer, hound the police, visit him in jail? Is there another key character? We want to know what happens. I'm not sure she doesn't sit around reflecting on her life for 65,000 words.

Q & A 158


The past two days I have been reading your blog entries from April of 2006 forward. I have completed eight months and find your most frequent statement regarding query letters is (forgive my paraphrasing), “Tell me more of the plot.” You also frequently ask to know more about the main character.

Query letters are for books, not series. So, when attempting to sell the first book in a series, is there any value in providing the editor/agent with information about the main character which is pertinent to the series but is only of minor concern in Book I? A silly example would be a story about George Washington fighting with the British, in which the focus was on what led to a specific battle, won by the French and Indians. George Washington was not in command, but the experience was a lesson in how to defeat the British later when he was no longer their ally. Does the editor/agent need to know George Washington is destined to fight against these same British (he doesn’t know it), and that he will become the first president of a currently non-existent nation (he has no clue about this either). Should this knowledge be retained until reaching the stories in which this information is directly significant, or should the Editor/Agent be in the know on this from Book I?



First of all, let me correct one erroneous claim. My most frequent statement about query letters is actually Yes!, which I utter as the balled up letter kisses gently off the wall on the far side of the room and drops into the wastebasket.

I was looking in TV Guide for something to watch the other night and saw that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was on. That's the one that introduces Jar Jar Binks, the character who single-handedly destroyed the entire Star Wars franchise. The description of the movie was: Writer-director George Lucas' exciting sci-fi epic depicts the early years of Anakin Skywalker, the boy who would grow up to become Darth Vader.

As you see, they didn't hide the character's future. In fact, they were so anxious to reveal it, they went so far as to spoil the crucial scene of Episode V for those who haven't seen that movie. And with good reason: Would anyone want to see a movie about Anakin Skywalker if he didn't eventually become Darth Vader? Of course not; he's not even from Earth. Think about it: how many people can you honestly say you care about, who aren't from Earth?

No doubt I would have found the following descriptions of other movies, if they were on TV this week:

Psycho IV: the Beginning. A young fellow lives with his domineering mother and runs a motel in this story of the man who would become Norman Bates.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning. The childhood and teen years of the boy who would grow up to be Leatherface.

Hannibal Rising
: The story of young Hannibal Lecter, who is destined to one day become Hannibal Lecter.

Obviously it's to your advantage to briefly mention that your main character, who never amounts to anything in your book, will grow up to be the American president or a successful serial killer.

Cartoon 264


Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Beginning 578

I remember the exact way the heel of your hand fit against my back, the pressure squarely at the center. Your wrist brushed the apex of one shoulder blade as your fingers rested on the other, tapping a rhythm only you could hear.

We fit together from the first like the Matryoshka nesting dolls I brought home from Russia. Lenin inside of Stalin and Stalin inside of Gorbachev…their smooth curves fitting together, matching like the single piece of wood from which they were carved.

I miss your touch in lots of ways but none more so than there on my back, where it rested, marking me as yours. All outward signs you have faded. No trace of you remains anywhere but for my soul. Not so easily shrugged aside as a hand on my back. I push and pull, twist and tear but cannot release your grip.

I'm unsure if it's a blessing or my cross to bear, but when I close my eyes, I feel you next to me. Still. I hear hum of the air between us as you stretch your hand from your side and reach for me.



I try to free myself from the spell of her husky voice long enough to say what must be said. It is difficult. Chills run up and down my spine in syncopation. I need to get out of this now, before I end up in a grip I'll never escape.


"Honey," I say, hearing my voice waver like breath in cold air, "I'm afraid you dialed the wrong number."


Opening: Dasha Alexander.....Continuation: Joanna

Cartoon 263

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Evil Editor through History 8

The sun beat down with an unbearable intensity. My head throbbed and sweat trickled down the back of my neck, but at the same time I felt my discomfort as something separate, disconnected from my physical being, as if I were observing the discomfort of a stranger. Objects near and far shimmered in the heat, giving the sense of unrelenting motion, even though the air lacked any notion of a breeze. A solitary cypress at the far end of the beach beckoned like a gypsy promising unspeakable delights. I plodded onward, disconcerted by the sight of a turgid mound of humanity resting beneath the sparse shade of the tree. I admit to having developed a sort of proprietary fondness for the twisted conifer and I was disinclined to share its meager shade with anyone.

“Pardon me, sir,” I said, addressing the disheveled lout sitting beneath my tree, “I’ve traveled some distance in anticipation of a few moments of solitude here. Might you draw upon the depths of your own good nature and depart in advance of your proclivities?”

“I’d rather not,” he replied gruffly.

I dropped my satchel and took up a position on the other side of the tree, extracting the sodden pages of my manuscript from the bag. I began to read aloud, as had been my intent, and likewise my desire for solitude. “‘Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. The telegram from the Home says: YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY. FUNERAL TOMMORROW. DEEP SYMPATHY. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.’”*

“Hey, that’s not half bad. How about I take a look at what you’ve got there. I’m an editor. In the States,” he added.

I stood up and appraised his visage. He was morbidly obese, but then, so many Americans were these days. His pudgy face was flushed from the heat and half covered by a rustic set of muttonchop sideburns. Crusty bits of unknown origin stained his shirtfront. There was little to recommend him save for the intelligent set of his brow and the gleam of his shockingly blue eyes. But no, I thought, gripping the butt of the revolver in my pocket. I pulled forth the gun and fired a single shot, followed by four more, thinking as I did so that I didn’t need or want an editor. What I needed was an agent.


*quoted from "The Stranger" by Albert Camus


--Meri

Evil Editor through History 7

“Look, uh, Arthur, is it? Detective novels are a penny a dozen, and besides, the US market will never buy into some limey doofus for an MC. Unless it’s humor. Is it humor?”

The hopeful writer ignored the “limey” comment. “I go by Conan, and no, it is not humor. It’s a literary crime novel.”

The editor’s muttonchops jiggled as he laughed. “Literary crime, indeed.”

“Yes, sir, indeed so. The primary character is quite conflicted. He’s a loner, but he loves to study people and what makes them tick. He’s also a chemist, and his methods are revolutionary. He solves crimes in singular fashion.”

“Of course he does. So does everybody’s MC solve crimes in singular fashion. You gotta have a hook, man.”

“Yes, well, he’s a different sort of chap. He uses observation and deductive reasoning to solve crimes, you see. He’s brilliant, and, in his own brooding way, charming. And he occasionally employs a pack of kids from the neighborhood to be his spies. Very original, if I might say so.”

“Gimme a break, little kids? How scary is that?”

“It’s not scary, it’s clever.”

The editor burst into hearty laughter. He laughed from the gut until his face was red and he wheezed for air and tears streamed down his face. He wore himself out and finally caught his breath.

“Clever?” he said. “That’s the best you’ve got is clever?”

The writer bowed his head.

The editor shoved the manuscript across the desk. “Sounds lovely, but not right for me. Good luck with it.”

“He’s also a cokehead.”

The editor’s eyes lit up. “Well, hell, why didn’t you say so?”

--Wonderwood

Evil Editor through History 6

Have a seat. I take it you've written a book?

Yes. It's about a whaling ship. The captain is obsessed with taking revenge on the whale that bit off his leg, so all he cares about is finding that whale. The rest of the crew--

Whoa. He's trying to locate one specific whale? In the ocean? Do you know how big the ocean is?

Yes, but this whale is white.

So is a rabbit, but I wouldn't want to try to find one specific rabbit knowing it was somewhere in Asia. See, that's an analogy.

Yes, I got it. The quest for the whale is symbolic. It's--

What's the title?

The Whale.

Christ. How long did it take to come up with that? Did you bring a chapter?

Of course. I think you'll find--

Quiet, let me read . . . Call me Ishmael . . . ? Is that your name? Ishmael?

No, I'm Herman.

Who's Ishmael?

He's a guy on the whaling ship. The Pequod.

And this is your hook? Call me Ishmael? Why wouldn't they call him Ishmael? It's his name. Now if he said, Call me Izzy, that would make sense.

Look, it's--

Trust me. You need a more memorable opening line. How's this, off the top of my head: Fucking whale!

I don't think--

It's perfect. The reader immediately wants to know how could anyone be angry at a whale. He reads on, discovers that the whale bit off the guy's leg. Now he's hooked. Whale versus man.

But--

What I don't get is how the whale bit off just one leg. When your mouth is ten feet across, it's hard to open it and take in one leg but not the other. It's like trying to eat one grain of rice off a piece of sushi.

A piece of what?

I think the whale should bite off both legs. And his torso. So the guy's just a disembodied head chasing . . . this whale got a name?

Moby Dick.

You're joking, right? Sounds like a porn star. Whatever. I didn't like this at first, but I've changed my mind. Head chasing Dick. It's symbolic, see? I'll buy it. No need to make the changes; I'll take care of it. How soon can you--

See you around, pal.

--Evil Editor

Evil Editor through History 5

'It was a dark and stormy night...'

'Stop!' Evil Editor leant forward over his leather-topped desk. 'Young man, I would be delighted to take you on as a client. Trust me, I can help you to become very, very, very famous...'

--McKoala

Evil Editor through History 4

"Tell me about yourself."

"I don't know what to tell."

"Well, have you been published before?"

"I've... published a book."

"What was it called?"

"Dubliners."

"What's it about?"

"People from Dublin."

Evil sighs, and looks at his pocketwatch. Almost time for the bell to ring and the torture to end. He figures he'll make one more go of it. "Are you working on anything right now?"

The man fiddles with his spectacles and nods.

"What's it called?"

The man's voice drops to a borderline whisper. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."

Evil leans forward a bit. "I like the title. Can you tell me something about it?"

He takes a deep breath and says, "It's the story of Stephen Dedalus, and how he becomes."

"Becomes what?"

"Becomes himself. Becomes everything he is, and some would bes, too. Most people don't become anything. They just remain ares. Like trees that slumber through an eternal winter. Spring never comes for them. Only for the few that dare to seek it."

Evil glances out the window and sees a tiny shock of purple through
the residual snow under the gloom of ashen woods. A crocus. He pulls out his pen and dips it thoughtfully in the inkwell, crafting pleasant letters across a card the colour of sepia. He hands it to the nervous young man and says, "Send it to me."

-- Discouraged Writer

Evil Editor through History 3

CIRCA-1968

"There are secret meanings?" EE asked.

"Meanings I see that other do not."

"Six poems on the meaning of secret things. Not much, is it, Larry. It'll make, what, fifty pages and sell for, gosh, a buck?" EE picked up a sheaf of handwritten pages and browsed.

"That's the idea."

"Idea, now that's a word I find interesting. You know, I consider modern poetry, especially beat poetry and Kerouac prose to be trashy gibberish. It has no soul. Look at this one, it's about having lunch at Bickford's with a Buddha who might be a patron of the restaurant."

"Poetry casts a big shadow over our lives."

"When they're Shakespeare's Sonnets or Milton's Paradise Lost. But look at this, you're writing a paean here to LSD and Alice. Or this other mess, the one with footnotes, where you call Nixon a tyrant? The FBI already has you on a list. It ain't going to get me. All we have to do is publish Nixon, Nixon burning bright and the heirs of William Blake will be on our asses so fast."

"It's a stand-alone poem. "

"As eminently moneymaking and earth-shattering as any poem ever written, bah! And this last one? Assassination Raga? As in sitar? Crazy? We had two assassinations this year, four in the decade. Worse, it quotes some foreign language about Allah. Are you celebrating death; 'they shot him again'? People won't read it. They want cheerful things." EE threw the sheaf of papers to the bearded poet.

"Well then, I guess I should be leaving."

"Let me give you some advice. Don't shove starving hysterical naked words at the best minds. The Beat's will destroy the best minds of our generation. Create the new by imitating the old. You'll be famous." EE sipped his cold coffee and picked up the phone to call in the next appointment.

Dave F.

Evil Editor through History 2

So...it's like this.

That's how you start? It's like this?

Well, yeah, man, that's right. It's about me, and some...ah...friends...some fellow malcontents bored with the fucked up societal status quo...and...like we're...

Do you see me tapping my foot? Do you? That's a societal signal. It means I'm bored with your malcontent.

Man...

Don't call me Man.

You're The Man, aren't you? The Editing Man?

That's The Evil Editing Man to you, bub.

Do you wanna hear my pitch or not, Mr. Evil Editing Man?

Yes. Yes. You paid for my time at this conference. I've therefore conferred my time upon you. My suggestion is, you get to the point. Now.

All right all right already, Evil Man. Evil Societal Dictates Man.

For the love of God, will you get to the point?

It's about me being on the road. And the title of my work is On The Road. I woulda called it...

Yeah. Yeah. On the fucking road. How original.

How's this for original? I wrote my work on one long long long ream of paper. I mean, man, it was long. Who else you know could do that? Just take off and riff with their words like that, man?

How many drafts did you have before your mindbending epic verbal riff, man?

Well....man...uh...none that I kept or counted....because it was all about feeling the beat. Feeling the pulse..and...

All right, all right. I think we can do something with this counterculture crap.

--Robin S.

Evil Editor through History 1

Frankenevil

"I--"

"Already I'm bored."

"--am by birth a Genevese;--"

"Do we care where you were born when you are still just an 'I'?"

"--and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic."

"Geneva is a republic?"

"My ancestors had been for many years counselors and syndics--"

"Gott helfen, she's making me open my thesaurus on the second sentence. Who did you say you were, sweetheart?"

"Mary Shelley."

"Any relation to--"

"Yes. Husband."

"Oye, oye, oye. Does he have any projects--"

"No! Now back to my story. It's a modern Prometheus, you see--"

"Percy and I go way back--"

"I don't think so. We're talking about *my* book now. It is a story of science gone wrong, but really it's--"

"I assumed this was a novel of manners or a romance."

"There is an aspect of romance, but--"

"I'm telling you right now, emphasize that aspect until there is nothing else...and get Percy to co-author it, top-billing."

"This is my story--"

"Sweetie..."

"This is non-negotiable."

"Well, if it has a science aspect, then use a male nom de'plume, at least, or publish anonymously, if you want to be taken seriously. You do want to be taken seriously, right?"

"Like now? Sir, you are a blasted tree; the bolt has entered your soul; and you should survive to exhibit what you shall soon cease to be--a miserable spectacle of wrecked humanity, pitiable to others and intolerable to yourself."

"Now, you're talking, sweetie. Did Percy write that for you?"

--Bill H.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Film Series


You always have a ball when you're in Evil Editor's Shorts. In fact, most weeks you have two.

video

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Beginning 577

It was a humid August night, and in seconds, Ceah Holt was going to walk into a glass wall. The street was empty. The sunset was draining. A song was in her mind and she watched a few scattered birds fly past the treetops as she walked.

She hadn’t felt this free in six weeks: summer school had ended that afternoon. She had taken Socials 10 so she could skip it in school and free up some blocks in later grades for AP courses and spares. She felt content. Accomplished. One step further on her path to success. She smiled up at the sky. She was fifteen and life was good for Ceah Holt. Yes, life was very good.

Crash!

Ceah cursed, jumped back - and stopped. She and the glass stared at each other. Pressing her hand against the surface, Ceah tried to confirm what she was seeing: a large piece of glass in the middle of a Vancouver street.

I am going insane.

Something cold rolled over her fingers. She looked at her hand and her eyes popped; the glass had melted around her hand, burying it into the glass.

Biting back the urge to scream, Ceah attempted to wrench her hand out.

The glass poured over her arm like cold lava. Her entire right arm was immobilized. Ceah screamed. Her voice melted into the damp air.

Darkness loomed over her. It smiled.



"And so," concluded Professor Trumpet, "Ceah found herself in a totally different dimension, one with rainbows, silver trees, perpetually blue skies, and kindred woodland spirits." He shuffled his papers. "Time's up. Come to class next time armed with a plethora of portals, wardrobes, rabbit holes, etc. We shall discuss the various devices fantasy writers use to transport their characters from World A to World B."


Opening: Raylin Silver.....Continuaton: anon.

Cartoon 262

Caption: Freddie

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Beginning 576

The douche bag Chet Waverley was duct taped to a patio chair in Barkman’s kitchen. It wasn’t the best tape job Barkman had ever done. Too much around the ankles, not enough on the wrists, and though he’d had plenty of tape for a makeshift blindfold that would surely remove Chet Waverley’s eyebrows, there had been none left for adhering the chatty motherfucker’s lips together. Barkman chalked it up to being out of practice.

While Chet Waverley confessed in explicit detail to masterminding numerous money laundering schemes, Barkman added the words “Duct Tape” to the magnetic grocery list on the fridge. Satisfied, he capped the pen and placed the heel of his shoe on Chet Waverley’s groin.

A near complete silence befell Barkman's condo, spoiled only by the dull hum of the fridge and a rhythmic eruption of spittle at the corners of Chet Waverley's mouth as he began to hyperventilate. Barkman leaned in closer. “I don’t care about all that, Chester," he said, and applied more pressure with his foot. "Let’s talk about your inadequate parenting skills.”

"You little shit," gasped Waverly. "When your--"

Barkman buried his heel in Chet Waverly's groin, ignoring his cries of pain. Then he took the last of the chocolate cake out of the fridge and headed back to his room. Why, he wondered, does Mom keep dating such losers?


Opening: blogless_troll.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Q & A 157


My understanding is that titles are nearly always changed when a book is published. How much does the author's title matter when making a submission? Would a book be rejected because the author's title is boring?

"Nearly always" is too strong. Plenty of books are published with the author's title. However, if your title sucks they'll try to come up with one that'll sell more books, even if it has nothing to do with your plot. For example, here are some titles of well-known books along with the titles the authors originally gave them:


Author's Title...............Publisher's Title


Beefing my way to NYC ..................The Catcher in the Rye
It's the Economy, Stupid ................Dune
Pigs Rule! ......................................Animal Farm
Pounding the Porpoise ...................Portnoy's Complaint
Boo! ..............................................To Kill a Mockingbird


On the other hand, the top movie in the world this week is titled Quantum of Solace. Whether that was the original title and they didn't change it, or whether they changed the original title to that, it's proof that the system occasionally fails.

As for whether a boring title leads to a book's rejection, not if the publisher reads the book. But speaking for myself, who will do anything to avoid work, if you actually want me to read your book, I suggest not mentioning your pathetic title until the end of your query, after you've hooked me good.

Cartoon 261


Caption: Whirlochre

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Last Extremely Short Stories . . .


. . . are posted below. The task was to come up with five sentences which, when placed in front of the last five sentences of someone else's story, created a completely different story. Neither endings nor openings were submitted in a quantity that indicates a desire to continue the feature. Here are the four that haven't yet been posted.

Extremely Short Story 15

"Tommy has an imaginary friend named Mr. Boner," Bev tells Al, "and I don't know whether it's cute or unhealthy."

"It's unhealthy," Al replies, "and I suggest we put a stop to it right now."

So Bev goes into Tommy's bedroom and says, "Where's Mr. Boner? I'm afraid I have to kill him."

Tommy hides his anger as he fingers the pistol under his pillow. “He’s already asleep.”

“Well, all right, son,” she says, smiling at him and looking him over before she heads up to her bed. She always looks him over with this lovey look on her face. He hates it. I think he’s always hated it.


--Evil Editor/Robin S.

Extremely Short Story 14

"This one's cute." Tiffany bent down beside a fluffy black and white dog.

"I don't care about cute," Tina replied. "I care about getting our revenge on Tony." She smeared "Pongo Wongo Dongo - Drives Dogs Wild!' on her hand and stuck it next to the bars; in an instant, the fluffy charmer threw itself at the bars, jaws dripping with foam, snarling like a werewolf on speed.




"His name is Louie," Tiffany said. "We rescued him from the pound. We hope you like the name, because that's what he's used to."

Tina bent over and kissed Tony on top of his head. He didn't try to rub it off.


--McKoala/Chris Eldin

Extremely Short Story 13

Lormar smiled, knowing he was sure of Gentyl now. She had suspected at first, known that the sword in her hands did wonders that had nothing to do with her own skill, knew that her words were not inspiring enough to account for the army’s frenzied joy and that her beauty was not great enough to explain the adoring madness in their eyes. But they had adored her, cheered her, followed her, almost made her forget the bitter years in her father’s house; and in her joy, and in her wish to forget, she had let the sword suck the soul from her.

There she stood now, tall and proud at the army’s head, prepared to lead them to their final victory. Only Lormar knew that they would march forever through the desert, fighting foes that existed only in their minds, cheered by crowds that had never been, until they died of the hunger and weariness that were hidden from them by the sword-song.

A wave of excitement ran through the troops until someone in the back began cheering until the entire army seemed to join in the chant.

The only thing Gentyl heard was the Siren Song.

I told you, champion. All is well.

The sword began to sing Lormar's song to her; the notes, exquisite and beautiful, rang in her mind.


--Joanna/Julie

Extremely Short Story 12

Flash O Rafferty unrolled his dog-eared copy of Public Nuisance Monthly one more time and ran his eager eyes over the $20,000 competition on page 62. 'Perfect,' he muttered to himself, his flesh tingling beneath his shabby raincoat as he savoured the words most tasteless location till saliva erupted from under his tongue like Old Faithful. He tucked the magazine into his pocket, combed the tufts of hair round his navel and groin, and pulled his coat around himself, fastening the customised velcro attachments as loosely as possible. Tiptoeing from the alleyway with his camera bag, he made his way through the gathering crowd toward the circle of fire engines, ambulances and police cars. Beneath a tall tree, the headless body of an old woman lay mangled in the road, and he pulled out his lightmeter to check for the optimum angle.

Two firemen were in the sturdy tree, trailing cable and rope lines from the truck to the white coated victim. Off to the side, a small group stood watching, their faces glowing and glowering in the bright, October sunset. It was late afternoon; the shadows of the mourners stretched ridiculously long, disappearing into the black roof of the house next door to the market and the sky was almost perfectly cyan against the pumpkin orange of the sun.

He quickly set up his tripod and calmly collected several views of the same scene. As he adjusted for a sharper angle, he thought he might over-expose one of the shots so that the flapping coat appeared wing-like, like a dove, and the tree would be a black silhouette against the brightness of the sky.


--Whirlochre/Meri

Cartoon 260

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Face-Lift 580


Guess the Plot

The Pebble

1. Plucked from the rock shore by the then four year old Olza Crwzstyn, a small pebble the size and color of a dove's egg becomes the one constant in the lives of three generations of an East European immigrant family in post-war Greenland.

2. The landslide that destroyed Littleville was started by a pebble -- a pebble thrown by bad boy Jimmy Bean, who is now #1 on Sheriff Tyrone's list of Most Wanted Bastards. This is the worst day of Betty Anne's life. Six hours ago all was well, now her beauty parlor is in ruins, her son Jimmy is on the lam, her lawman boyfriend has sworn to put him behind bars for life, and there's no whiskey left in her bottle. Got a cigarette?

3. Unaware that King Uthpindar the Reprehensible is strolling below, juvenile delinquents high on the Ledge of Vastness toss rocks over the edge, causing the sudden demise of said monarch, followed by national jubilation and anarchy--until Todd Lawless and his shipload 'o hearty pirates sail in to make their conquest.

4. Jane Cummings hates her stepmother, Roxanne, an evil 23 year old slut who used burlesque moves to lure Jane's ailing ancient father to an undignified death and now lives large as a merry billionaire widow while Jane makes do in a tiny apartment on a diet of soda crackers and the pittance she gets from her library job. But now that Jane has lost 85 pounds, started looking good in a skimpy leopard-print romper, and is secretly doing target practice with a slingshot, a mere pebble could change everything.

5. Locked away in a miserable cell, Ronan escapes through a pebble, landing 1000 years in the future, where he falls in love with Teagan after materializing in her sitting room. It's a dream come true, until a very powerful witch shows up wanting something Ronan has. Could it be . . . The Pebble?

6. When oppressed teenager Gemma Jones tossed a pebble at the bedroom window of her love interest Henry Patterson, she had no intention of killing a wicked witch and being rewarded with a pair of magical red shoes. Now that she can become invisible, walk on water, and fly, it's time to get started on her list of revenges.


Original Version

Dear Editor.

Great things sometimes come in dull packages.

Teagan would never have guessed she holds a gate to eternity in her hands. It’s nothing but a dull black pebble, after all. [It's hard to see how you can hold a pebble in more than one hand.] There are all sorts of ways to explain away the friendly presence she becomes aware of from the day she brings it home from the beach. That is, until an all too real five foot nine presence with a mischievous grin and burnt-umber eyes materialises in her sitting room, and no amount of reasoning can explain him away. [LSD in the tea explains it.] [Why are we calling it a "presence" now that it has materialized? She should be able to come up with a more specific term if she tries really hard.]

Not that Teagan tries very hard.

Ronan is all too keen to stay in the twenty-first century. He came to Teagan from more than a thousand years ago, escaping through the pebble from a miserable cell. He'd spent thirteen years studying magic, and he's dying to show Teagan everything he's learned. The only thing standing between him and bliss with the woman he loves [He loves her? Already?] is a witch. A very powerful witch. [Teagan's mother.] Ronan has something she wants, and she’ll do anything to get it from him. Now all he and Teagan have to do is figure out what it is. [Could it be . . . The Pebble?]

The Pebble is a 95 000-word paranormal romance set in both modern and ancient Ireland, as well as in Tir Na nOg, the mystical land beyond time from Celtic mythology.

I am a fulltime, prolific author of romantic fiction. I grew up in South Africa, but moved to Ireland in 2005, where I now live with my husband, our three children and six cats. [Those two sentences aren't needed. You could work your Irish connection into the previous paragraph: . . . set in Ireland, where I currently reside, and in Tir Na nOg, the land . . .] I cut my author’s teeth writing fantasy, with my second story ever sold making it into [publication]'s ‘best of’ anthology for 2006. I turned my attention to romance in December 2007 after sales of short stories with romantic elements to publications such as [list of four romance fiction publishers].

This is not an exclusive query. [What?! Who else has it? It's that Query Shark chick isn't it? Man, that ticks me off.]

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


Notes

If a very powerful witch wants something you have, it shouldn't be that hard for her to get it, even if you dabbled in magic a thousand years ago.

Has the powerful witch followed Ronan from 1000 years ago, or is she a 21st-century witch?

Was Ronan inside the pebble for 1000 years waiting for someone to pick it up? Or was he transported instantly to the 21st century?

Possibly the second paragraph should be something like:
It's easy enough to explain away the friendly presence Teagan senses after she brings the dull black pebble home from the beach. Not so easily explained is the all-too-real five-foot-nine hunk with a mischievous grin and burnt-umber eyes who materialises in her sitting room.
This gets rid of the "gate to eternity" phrase, which is never explained.

A pebble seems like a boring item to be a gate to eternity. It doesn't have the cachet of "ring of power" or Excalibur or Holy Grail. If the book's title is going to be the item that's the gate to eternity, that item needs to be something that grabs. The Eternity Stone. Rock of Ages. The Time Cobble.

Cartoon 259

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Beginning 575

Bad news always rides a fast horse. The horse coming down the hill was both fast and exhausted.

Gaeryn Diarmand dropped the harness he was repairing and stood up when he noticed someone approaching. It was a far rider. He recognized the cloak because there was one exactly like it folded up in the cedar chest at the foot of his bed.

It was someone wearing the cloak anyway. The horse appeared to be a roan or gray and far riders only rode dark horses. He wanted to relax when she got closer and he realized the horse was a dark bay encrusted with dried sweat that made him look lighter. He wanted to, but he couldn’t. A rider pushing their horse that hard meant trouble.

The woman reined her horse to a stop in front of him and reached down to pat the animal on the neck. She glanced at Gaeryn’s wife and daughter and stepped down. The bay shook his head and heaved a deep whoof through flared nostrils.

She raised her hand as if to adjust her cloak, then ran her fingers across the bottom of the silver clasp at her throat.

The sign. She was one of his sister’s couriers.

"We need you," she said between breaths. "Gammalian called in sick - black plague - and Castle Ortanga has ordered 12 extra-large pepperoni pizzas." She indicated the stack of boxes strapped to the back of the horse.

Gaeryn looked uneasily at his wife. He knew what he had promised, but this was an emergency. Castle Ortanga would tip him enough to buy a week's worth of grain. In response to his plea, she turned and walked back inside the house.

Gaeryn was shattered. "I'm sorry," he told the rider. "I . . . can't. I've given up that life. I --" his words caught in his throat when the rider gasped and pointed towards the house.

Gaeryn spun, automatically reaching for his sword, but what he saw stopped him in his tracks. His wife had his Pizza Hovel cloak in her hands.

"Go," she whispered as she fastened the clasp around his neck, "but return with a pineapple pizza."

"I will," Gaeryn vowed as he mounted his horse. He waved goodbye, and was off. The wind carried the smell of adventure - and pepperoni.


Opening: Julie.....Continuation: The Tasmerican

Cartoon 258

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Uncooperative Agent 7

I thought I was the lucky one, finally landing an agent. And then at the first meeting I found myself at odds with her.

"Look, Janet, I don't know what your problem is with EE but..."

She cut me off. "It's not a problem. I don't want to hear you calling it a problem. I just do not think you should be submitting your novel to the Evil Editor." She crossed her arms.

"But why not?" My voice rose in a whine. "The minions will be amazed. It'll make my reputation. They'll comment on my Face-Lift and post messages about me and ..." my own voice dropped a notch, "...even come and read my blog."

Janet shook her head. "Listen, I've dealt with this guy before, I'm telling you."

I crossed my arms and gave her a belligerant look.

She frowned and then leaned forward, dropping her voice. "He'll take your words, that stunning prose you've spent the last ten years writing, and he'll chop it up. He'll take your first words and add random endings to it. He'll scribble fake plots in the margins. He'll add in random story starters to every chapter ending.And that's before he even gets the blue pen out." She shivered.

I tried to argue but she waved her hands in my face and cut me off. "You think it's all a game, a fun little website and a group of you calling yourselves minions - one big joke, huh? Well, ha ha ha." Her face grew ugly. "Evil Editor, he plays for keeps."

I shook my head. "Listen, I think you've been working too hard. He's just a man."

"No." She shuddered and leaned in real close, her final words a whisper. "The truth? He's the owner of Publish America."

"No!" I shouted.

"It's true," she told me, "and once he gets a hold of your manuscript, he'll do everything in his power to stop you. In the end, you'll be so desperate, you'll stop at nothing. You'll..." She shuddered violently as she spat out the words. "You'll self-publish."

"You lie!" Her words echoed behind me as I ran out of the door. I didn't look back but I knew she was standing there, watching me.

And that's how I lost my first agent. And honestly? I'm thinking self-publishing doesn't sound so bad. At least not if Evil Editor will be involved ... or at least touch my manuscript. Who needs agents, anyhow?

--Sylvia

Uncooperative Agent 6

I’m sorry -- I’ve tried everyone. The market for this kind of thing has just dried up. This time last year, it--

Well, no, I didn’t try him, but there’s really not--

No, I know exactly what he goes for and--

No, really, he wouldn’t. I mean, he and I, well, you know, there’s some history, and--

Alright, I’ll call him already, just give me a second. Look: I’m dialing. Five, five, five… It’s ringing.

Yes, this is Angsty Agent called for Ev--

Yes, I’m aware of that, darlin’, now put me through, would ya?

She’s putting me through…

Hey, Evil, this is--

Really? Still sore, huh? Did you try rubbing it?

Yeah, I suppose that is kinda what started it… But listen, I--

No, no, this is business. My author here has--

No, not my only author, smartass. I have other authors, but not--

Okay, if you like: my author du jour. He’s got a--

Hey, lay off of the wisecracks. You’re the only one thinks you’re funny, you know…

They don’t count. If they had any class, they’d be reading-- Just a second…

Shush, I’m getting to it. I know how to handle this guy…

What?

Listen, dickwit, that was different; we’d both had a few, and--

I did not bend it the wrong way. Besides, you’re the one who suggested the butter curler.

Whatever. Listen, my client--

Yeah my client the author, what other kind of client--

Asshole!

Shush, I’m telling him.

My client the author has this exquisite literary-- Don’t hang up! No, it’s, uh, it’s about a pair of lesbian werewolves-- Just a second.

Just write a couple in. You want to sell this, right? Wait, I think he’s biting…

Sure, it’s got pictures--

Shush.

Yeah? Yeah. I thought you’d like it. I can have it to you this evening… Sure... Hey, asswipe, one more thing: Don’t forget to pick up some Chianti on the way home. Remember, we’re having the Grishams for dinner…

--ril

Uncooperative Agent 5

“Evil Editor is the only editor who accepts epic fantasy now.” I tried to keep my whining to an acceptable level, but it was hard to see nineteen years of work going down the drain just because he had to compare my agent’s boobs to luscious, firm, ripe…maraschino cherries. Why couldn’t the drunken fool have said melons, or grapefruits or anything besides cherries? Why did he even have to mention her boobs?

“Yes, I know he asked you where a forty-year-old woman buys training bras.” I laid my head on my desk. “I know he asked you what bras train your boobs to do besides play dead.”

I went to do laundry and came back to the phone to listen to the remainder of the Evil Editor speech. It always lasted exactly twenty-nine minutes. I still had time to do my nails.

“I don’t want to cut it down to 60,000 words and call it a young adult. I’ve been working for six months to get it down to 135,000. If I get him to apologize to you, will you submit to him?”

I sighed. “No, you don’t have to submit to him that way. Heaven knows I would put on a collar, a rhinestone leash and a corset if he would just apologize to you, but I just want you to submit my work.”

I showed up at Evil Editor’s house the next day. It meant spending my life savings and not going to Surrey next year, but it was worth it to find out where he lived. I knew he was in the house. I got out my guitar, my learn to yodel in thirty days tape and I waited.

He would apologize or I would learn to yodel and I didn’t care which.

Insane people never care.

--Julie Weathers

Uncooperative Agent 4

Excuse me, Evil Editor?

How did you get in here? Mrs. V., call security.

Mrs. V. isn't out there.

Oh right, I sent her out for my cheese danishes. What do you want?

What I want is for you to publish my novel, but my agent refuses to send it to you.

Remind me to send her a thank you card. Who is she?

Kristin Nelson. Do you know her?

Know her? I used to date her. If you could call it that. Not much of a night out when your date has her damned ipod blasting the whole time. It's a little distracting when you're trying to eat your soup and your date keeps jumping out of her chair and gyrating like a pole dancer to some sappy pop tune. Not that that had anything to do with our break-up. In fact I kind of liked going to a restaurant and not having to talk. Made me feel less guilty about watching the football game on the TV behind the bar.

So why did you break up?

I wanted her to peddle my autobiography, More Than Muttonchops. She wouldn't take me on. I mean, one mention of the book on my blog guarantees 50,000 copies sold, and that's just the first day. So WTF?

Maybe she was intimidated by the prospect of working with a genius.

You know, I like your style, kid. You've got spunk. What's your book about? Tell me it's got zombies and sharks.

Why, yes, it does. Now.

--Evil Editor

Uncooperative Agent 3

It's really important to me, I said to her. But all I got was her cold shoulder, and she had a shoulder cold enough that I saw it clearly right through the phone line. She was damn good with the silent messaging. I was impressed.


I really really really want him to edit me. Really. I mean, look at it this way…he basically already has been, you, know, editing me. For close to two years.


No response.


(Damn. Has it been that long? Close to two years? Good Lord.) [No, that's not me talking to the agent. That's me talking to me.]


What do you have against the guy? Could you tell me, so I can understand?


I heard sighing on the line. And a pencil, maybe a pen, scratching along on paper. I waited, and I was nice, because I was very comfortable and content and, hell, let's be honest, freaking thrilled to have connected with this agent. She'd been on my top ten wish list, and I didn't wanna make her mad. So I just said…Is there a bad history there? Because I know, Sparky can be a smartass…(God, how I love smartasses. Maybe she did, too…)


"Sparky?" She laughed. "Sparky doesn't edit in your genre, you know."


I see your point, and you are, of course, absolutely right. But I'm not sure that matters here. Really. I mean, he's seen so much…


"You don't even know the man's name, do you? Or what House he's with. Am I right?"


Well, yeah, there's that, but…but…well, you have to admit - you can know somebody's name and not really know them. Case in point, I'll send you a few chapters from my second novel…


Oh. Yeah. Already sketched out…yeah…


(Damn. She's really good. Got me off topic like a mama handling a whining child.)


Another silence. This time I think I see her smiling. "You're over three hundred words now…"


(Damn.)


--Robin S.

Uncooperative Agent 2

Day Job

I saw my agent enter the elevator. I had to talk to her about biting the bullet and talking to Evil Editor about my crappy book. I put my foot into the opening to keep the door open.

"Would you come out here so we can speak?" I said.

"I'd rather speak in here."

"I can't speak in there; that was last week."

"Huh? If you want to speak to me, you'll have to come in there."

"No can do. This story would be a week late, then. You're fired."

"The hell I am. You're fired. Keep your day job."

--WouldBe

Uncooperative Agent 1

Absinthe Goodbody and Her Agent Hattie Faluntimo-Spiegel Beat the Bush For Big Game.


"He's bad for your novel." Hattie sipped her hot coffee. She scrawled a red X on a query and slid it into the reject box. Her lips puckered as she read another query.

"Snake Mountain's bad?" Absinthe teared up.

"Not your novel. This query sucks like a twenty-four hour lollipop." Hattie drew a skull and crossbones on the query. She picked up the next.

"I want to know why you think my novel isn't suitable for EE." Absinthe's feet scuffed the floor.

"I don't want him anywhere near our Snake Mountain. It's precious and he's common. He despoils fine, literate writing. He'll make you sacrifice your story on the altar of popular commerciality. Worse, he smells like butt crack in a steam room. Speaking of ass..." Hattie's eyes expanded as one hand fumbled to find a biohazard stamp. She slammed it down so hard that Lucent logos formed beneath the coffee cups.

"It's not like I write bad. We've sent this to how many -- fifty, sixty? And waited how long -- thirty, forty months now? I'm willing to rewrite just to get the ball rolling."

"I'd rather be reincarnated as kitty litter. Hold that, this query is kitty litter, soiled kitty litter. Who spells persnickety with a Q?" Hattie scribbled "NO" on it and picked up another query.

"I'm at my last straw. Either you send my novel out to EE or else I find a new agent." Absinthe stopped hunching like her husband told her.

"Foolish."

"I insist." Absinthe squeaked.

"You insist? What for? He'll rape plotlines, parboil your hero, bimbo-fy our heroine, and crap out some supermarket drivel with delusions of Grisham!"

"It's my decision, please."

"OK, I'll send it to EE, my ex-husband. It's your lamb to slaughter... Humph! This query is brain schmaltz masquerading as foot fungus."

--Dave F.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Film Series


You never know what's coming out each week in Evil Editor's Shorts; you just know it's sure to be a tasty treat.

video

Friday, November 14, 2008

Extremely Short Story 11

It was supposed to be the much needed vacation of a lifetime. Using some of the money from the divorce, Mishua had decided to take the twins on a Disney Cruise -- a fun jaunt around the Bahamas. But it all went wrong when Elden kicked Pluto in the balls, Khirsha threw up over the navigation equipment and then, the final straw, Mishua called the cruise liner "a boat".

Captain Elrod gave them a choice: thrown overboard there and then by Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, or take their chances on the high seas in a Donald Duck lifeboat.

Mishua had them place Elden and Khirsha in a small dinghy. She took her final instructions from the captain and got in with them. The captain ordered the boat released and the two craft began to separate. The big ship turned north and headed back for land. The dory went south, disappearing into the swirling mists of the unknown.


--Anonymous/BBJD

New Beginning 574

Let me tell you a secret. It's something they don't want you to know. If you keep believing the lies they're feeding you, about faerie tales and happy endings, you'll be completely defenseless when they come for you, and then it will be too late. Maybe it already is too late. But I've got to try to save you. I've got to tell you the truth:

Faeries aren't immortal.

I know what you're thinking. What about the three faeries from Sleeping Beauty? What about faerie godmothers? What about all those stories you heard as a child and believed, wholeheartedly, until the sad, dark reality sunk in and you stopped believing in anything you couldn't see, touch, taste? If faeries were real, they'd be little glowing spirits flitting around on gilded wings, kissing babies and fixing failed relationships with a flick of the wrist and flash of glittery light. Right?

Not exactly.

"Uh, Mr. Clempson, let me stop you right there. They are not faeries, they are cockroaches, and they are damned near immortal, and this apartment is not worth two thousand bucks a month, so let's start again, shall we?"


Opening: Chelsea P......Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 257

Caption: Freddie

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Extremely Short Story 10

None of them had ever seen anything like it: the new Vista Operating System for Windows.

"Apparently," said Shello, "we have to go through a portal just to register now."

"This is why I called you for help," said Abrin to Khirsha.

"I've heard of this," Khirsha sighed, "but from what I understand, it isn't all that painful; besides, if you want King Gates's technical support, you must be willing to do this." She stood, thinking for a moment.


“I will go through the portal,” said Khirsha.

“Then this council is over,” said Abrin. “Shello, take Khirsha and anything you need to the training fields. Arlae, you will monitor the Window while Khirsha is in the other world. May the King guide our steps.”


--Freddie/BBJD

Extremely Short Story 9

The residents of Hope call me reckless, dangerous, irresponsible. I'm a thrill-seeker, that's all; I like to push the boundaries. Picking up guys in bars, going down in an elevator, the mile-high club, I've done them all -- but like drugs, the edge wears off and the thrill gets dull.

Recently, though, I discovered the joys of dogging: anonymous, unprotected sex in the back of parked cars in out of the way parking lots, where names are never exchanged and everyone knows the rules of the game. Everyone, that is, except this guy in the gray Chevy -- he wanted it to get personal.

He was manipulating me one more time, but I needed to be sure of his direction, or he would arrange to protect himself – and I wouldn’t like the result. What he wanted was me gone, and nothing untoward to raise attention. “I can arrange my own disappearance after I leave Hope, to prevent any linkage to what happens and what happened here. In return, I would only ask that you not implicate me further.”

He smiled, just before he closed the deal his way.


--Anonymous/Scott Jones

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Extremely Short Story 8

The cat started it by leaving a hairball in Rory's boots everyday for a week which of course meant Rory had to retaliate by casting a spell that removed all the mice on the Montelimar Estate.

The cat re-retaliated by gathering four score fellow cats to ralph in front of the main gate which created a stink like no other and scared the peasants because no one knew that cats could be herded.

Rory threw a screaming hissy fit, and when the cats didn't disperse, he waded out into them in full armor ready for battle.

That was when he heard a stream of rather profane and vulgar cursing behind him. Surely the cats weren't capable of summoning a Mage Troll?


Rory couldn't make out the words exactly, but he figured they were some sort of incantation — paralysis or a lightning strike or something. Maybe it was time to make a run for it after all. Even in full battle gear, he was no match for a Mage Troll, so he turned on his heels and scarpered, speeding off through the gate to the Montelimar estate like a cheetah being poked on every spot with a cattle prod; stumbling, slipping, tripping and shouting, 'Argghhhh, Knobber! Waaarggghhhhh!'

The prospects were getting worse all the time for that half a cat...


--Dave F./Whirlochre