Saturday, February 27, 2010

The 2nd Annual Evie Awards


Last Year the Evies was broadcast at the same time as the Oscars, leading to many complaints, not only from people who wanted to watch both productions, but also from Hollywood stars who were nominated for Oscars and thus couldn't be at home in front of their computers (though word on the street is that most of those at the Academy Awards were keeping up with the Evies on their i-phones). So this year I scheduled the Evies before the Oscars. Happy now, Sandra, Meryl, Angelina?

I wish I could put all the winners into one film as I did last year, but several of this year's winners were produced on a computer that has been retired. So . . . the Evies go to:


Best Best Boy
Stephen Spielberg, Reunion
(1st film of the double feature)
video


Best Musical Accompaniment
Kevin MacLeod, The Wisdom of Solomon
(1st film of the double feature)
video


Best Screenplay
Whirlochre, Taxi Driver
video


Best Actress
Angelina Jolie, Beef Addict
(2nd film of the double feature)
video


Best Actor
Evil Editor, The Phone Call
video


Best Picture
The Art Gallery
(1st film of the double feature)
video

Friday, February 26, 2010

WTF?

It appears the first two to three weeks of every month has disappeared from my blog archives. I can still access those posts by searching for, say, Face-lift 602. So they exist. So my question is, is the problem just with my computer, and you guys can click on February, 2008 and see the entire month? Is this happening to anyone else's blog archives?

New Beginning 731

Twas the Night Before Christmas…
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse. . .

Obviously, the author who penned this poem never made it to my house tonight because the noise was deafening, and the creatures causing the ruckus were a lot smaller than a mouse.

Oh, the brouhaha didn’t start out that way. First, it was a single flash of light as a faerie flew into my room, and then another flash joined the first. Once you get two faeries together, whispers started.

You would think creatures as tiny as faeries would be quiet, but once a group of faeries gathered, it soon developed into a gaggle. And the gaggle became a swarm—a swarm of dive-bombing, chittering, light-flashing little heathens, similar to prehistoric mosquitoes.

I pretended to sleep, but cracked one eye to see what was the matter.

My bedroom had turned into a Clark Griswold Christmas with about a bazillion lights flitting around my twelve-by-twelve space. Normally, I liked my cozy hole, but when you add a gazillion faeries—a few more arrived since my previous thought—well, it became a mite crowded. Faeries zipped and zoomed, hovered and floated, and played mid-air poker.

It was quite pretty . . . until the collision.

"The collision, you say."

"That's right. The, uh, collision."

"You see, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, not only does the accused show no remorse, no sense that she has done anything remotely wrong, she refers to the events of that night, the carnage, as merely a collision.

"Your Honor, the prosecution would like to introduce Exhibit 2, the weapon commonly referred to as the Fly Swatter."

The defendant closed her eyes as an audible gasp ran through the Seelie court.


Opening: Magolla.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 587

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Beginning 730

Rune stepped over a limestone-laden stream of cold water running across the floor of the cavern. Above him, bat-like creatures twitched and squeaked. He pointed his flashlight at the ceiling thirty feet overhead and fluffed the back of Steve's hair, laughing. Steve hunched over, pulling the hood over his head and neck to prevent any guano from getting on his body.

"Think of each all those flying critters up there like raptors wanting to land ammoniated poo on your head. Don't you just love it?" Rune squeaked, flapped his hands.

"Whoever said caves are for contemplation was a fool," Steve said. Charlene pushed Rune onto a stalagmite.

"I don't know why the settlers are fascinated these dung heaps. There's nothing special about caves on this world." She attached a Vid-Cam and light to the wall and aimed it at Rune. "Any clown who can scratch his name into the wall thinks they'll be famous. The Twelve Cities ought to be ashamed to let shit like this be posted," Charlene ranted. Both men shrugged their best I don't care if I left the toilet seat up, who cares attitude.

Charlene gave Rune another playful shove onto the stalagmite, this time impaling him.

Two million bats, perhaps offended by the blood now polluting their Stream of Cold Running Water, took turns depositing guano on Rune as he slowly bled to death.

Charlene recorded the event. "Now that is how you become famous," she said.


Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 586

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Queries and Openings Needed


We're down to one opening (no continuations received so far) and zero queries. Isn't it about time you sent something in?

Face-Lift 734


Guess the Plot

Where the Doves Fly

1. In the sky.

2. Johann Nowitski is an airport ramp attendant, charged with cleaning the dove entrails out of the engines. When he finds a human finger amidst the carnage, it seems murder is afoot.

3. "Go where the doves fly," was the last thing Raymond said before leaving to liberate France from Hitler. Every day Sarah waits patiently by the fountain. Will he ever return? Will she recognize him? And what did he mean about the doves?

4. 1980. Anna Sokolowska's career creating anti-communist paintings (you know, like doves flying into the air) is going nowhere in communist-controlled Poland. So she escapes in search of an art gallery that will show her work. Unfortunately, she escapes to East Berlin. Apparently commies and artistic genius don't mix anywhere.

5. The Doves: a family of four who hang glide off of Mt. Riaze. When the volcano unexpectedly erupts, Mr. Dove watches his family fly from his hydroponic squash farm that had been built on the north face, which now lies in lava ashed ruins. Can he find the other three members of his family before the next bilateral moon triangulation?

6. 2098. United Nations President, Apartheid Vance, has a problem. Expecting the whole world to be at peace for the first time since stun guns were legalized, a massive celebration is planned for the upcoming millennium. However, Apartheid cannot keep a single dove alive in captivity. Is the problem zoological or an omen?



Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

When 17-year-old artist Anna Sokolowska learns the Communist regime in Poland may implement martial law, she chooses to escape to East Berlin—unwilling to let the government stifle her artistic voice, eager to use her anti-Communist paintings as a tool for change. [Shouldn't she escape to somewhere that doesn't have a communist regime? Where's she heading next, Cuba?]

The one thing that she fails to consider before leaving is that her abused mother and young brother need her more than she thinks they do.

Over the following twelve months Anna struggles against governmental corruption that has spread beyond Polish borders as she searches for an art gallery in which to showcase her set of genius anti-Communist-themed paintings. [Genius in whose opinion?] In the end, Anna must decide how she wishes to balance the harsh reality of poverty in the 1980’s with a passion for art, the Polish Solidarity movement, and her family.

WHERE THE DOVES FLY is a literary YA at approximately 76,000 words.

My articles and short stories have been featured in New Moon, Teen Ink, Alive, multiple e-zines, and two Creative Communications anthologies. Last year I received a YoungArts 2010 Merit Award (top 5%) and interned with [editor; redacted], and now I intern with [agent; redacted]. [Have you taken advantage of your connections?] In addition to writing and interning, I am a full-time student.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Notes

Is she in contact with her family? What's happening with them? If we know that, we'll have a better understanding of her dilemma.

Was she under the impression that only Poland's government would be bothered by her anti-communist art?

Instead of concluding by telling us what Anna must decide, tell us what she decides. Perhaps she realizes that while the communist machine is too powerful to take on, she can do her own small part by starting an underground art movement. Or whatever. Give us a sense of where the story goes.

Cartoon 585

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Face-Lift 733


Guess the Plot

Morgantown

1. Chased by a werewolf named Simon, Rachel, a werewolf, ends up in Morgantown where she joins a local pack of werewolves and begins to wonder if it's really that bad to be a werewolf when pretty much everyone is a werewolf.

2. Movie producer Barry Steinman's career is at an all time low. Soaked in gin, suicide note in his suit pocket, Barry puts the noose around his neck. After he awakens in the afterlife and bargains with the devil, Barry's soulless shell goes on to make hit after hit starring Morgan Freeman.

3. Charlie Burrows is sent by his newspaper to a small town out in the sticks to follow up on reports of the menfolk disappearing. When he arrives, he is horrified to find that every one of the women is Morgan Fairchild. Can he get to the bottom of this before the town's vamps suck him dry?

4. Big Daddy Morgan is dying and needs an heir--a puppet whose strings he can pull from the other side. His own kids are useless. He needs fresh blood to put his plan in place, and he finds it in a sad little waif who can be easily molded into Morgantown's next king.

5. Zalinda was kicked as a child by a mugger named Morgan. The resulting concussion tricked her into believing a Morgan horse was responsible because she was reading Black Beauty at the time of her mugging. Just another day on the streets of . . . Morgantown.

6. 1872. Morgantown is home to rising coal magnate Elliot Spinner. His arch rival, "Boss" Hardley, is also in the coal business. Between them is Pansy McBride, the red-haired, strong-willed daughter of a Georgia planter. Can Elliot get control of the Morgantown mines while winning the heart of the fiery Pansy?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Rachel was going to graduate from a good college, settle down with her boyfriend, Michael, and live in Northern California, the only place that ever felt like home.

But three days after she's kidnapped by Simon, a werewolf with a grudge against her family, Rachel finds that things rarely go as planned. [It takes her three days to realize things aren't going as planned? I don't care what my Plan A is, the moment I get kidnapped by a werewolf, I'm aware that Plan B is now in effect.] Now she's a werewolf too, changed by Simon for his own purposes, and Michael is dead.

Rachel escapes and runs as far from Simon as she can get; Morgantown, West Virginia. When the leader of the local pack of werewolves shows up in her hotel room, [Do werewolves really use hotel rooms?

I'd like a room for the night.
Errr . . . yes, and may I point out that our day spa specializes in laser hair removal.

Room service, may I help you?
Yes, could you send up a maid?
I think you want housekeeping.
No, I want dinner.]

she reluctantly takes up his offer to join his pack in exchange for safety. [Is there anyone in this book who isn't a werewolf?]

Getting friendly with werewolves is the last thing Rachel wants to do, but [everyone she meets turns out to be a werewolf. Plus,] with Simon on the hunt, she doesn't have much of a choice. She begins to learn to defend herself, and come to terms with what has happened. The pack leader tries to show her that though she has been treated like one, Rachel is not an animal. It's an idea that Rachel has trouble grasping, because [the two of them are dining on a bellman at the time, and also because] the truth is that Michael didn't just die. He was murdered. By Rachel.

Morgantown is a completed 98,000-word urban fantasy young adult novel. Though it can stand alone, I have begun a sequel [in which Rachel sees a psychiatrist who's a werewolf and tears his throat out right after he tells her she's really a good person], and have planned out two to three more books in the series. This is my first novel.

Thanks so much for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!


Notes

Does Rachel run from California to West Virginia? That's a lot of running.

What's so special about Rachel that Simon chases her to West Virginia after she escapes? Wouldn't it be easier for Simon to just turn someone else into a werewolf? Can't he take his revenge on her family without her help? It would help if we knew what he wants her to do.

Why is Morgantown, West Virginia the farthest from Simon that Rachel can get? Assuming Simon is in North America, there have to be places farther from him than Morgantown.

Cartoon 584


Caption: John

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter Olympics Photo Caption Contest Winners

1.

Caption: Anon.


2.

Caption: Anon.


3.

Caption: Evil Editor

4.

Caption: Steve Wright

Cartoon 583

Caption Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blog Vacation 5

Oh, hey, you're, uh, back early. Nice tan. How was the beach? Really? That had to sting. Yeah, I bet; that's why I don't do the naturalist thing. What? Oh, no worries, everything was fine. Like you were never away. Face lifts and cartoons and beginnings and stuff. Sweet. No probs. Just one thing. No biggie, put the suitcase down. Did you want to get changed first, I can wait. No, just you look tired. Long journey, right. How about I make a nice cup of tea, that'll set you right. No, actually there's none of that left, and it's a bit early anyway. Good flight? I always wanted to try first-- No, it was nothing, just one of those Blogger things. Well, you know, when you go to the dashboard to check up on the blogs and there's that big button that says "Delete Blog?" Just, you might not want to press that one. Again. Don't worry, I rewrote what I could. From memory. It's almost the same. Just shorter. More efficient, really. No, don't thank me, it was the least I could do. Anyway, must be off, sitting for Nathan Bransford for a few days. Pass me that surfboard, got to get in character. Method, you know. No, really, just put the cheque in the post, it'll be fine. You might want to get some cream, you're awful red...

--ril

Blog Vacation 4

I'm back. How'd it go?

Great.

No huge drop-off in readers?

Hope not. I haven't been looking at the stats.

Hmm. I'd better check the hits. Let's see, yesterday we had . . . ZERO!?

Hey, it was Saturday. People have better things to do.

Friday . . . zero. Thursday . . . Zero. What's going on? Did you post the cartoons I left you?

Yes. Well, sort of. I changed the captions. I didn't get yours. Actually, I seldom get yours. Here's one with my caption: whattaya think?


What's the joke?

It's a squirrel wearing glasses!

Christ. Did you do any Face-Lifts or New Beginnings?

Nah, there are hundreds of those already. I started some new features.

Such as?

Mondays we do foreign language cryptograms. Tuesday is rejection letters for credit card application junk mail. Wednesdays we post one of my trunk novels for the minions to proofread. Thursday we auction off one of your most valuable possessions.

That would explain why my desk is missing, I take it?

And Friday some guy from Uruguay takes over the blog with a column he calls "Rants from Javier." It's pretty funny. Well, not funny, but you get the idea.

And on the weekend?

You have the weekend off. No films, no writing exercises.

I like it. Say, how would you like to be my permanent blog consultant. I can only offer you low six figures.

Health insurance?

Of course.

Deal.

--Evil Editor

Blog Vacation 3

So, how was Hawaii?

Um, great. Why are you in my house?

Long story.

You write novels.

Point taken…. So, I don’t write much humor. Not one-liners, anyway—I like to think I’m good at subtle irony. So I asked Robin for a little help.

Robin.

She’s funny, you know? And I didn’t know if she’d get back to me soon enough, so I emailed Buffy and Blogless and Dave and a couple others.

How many others?

Most of the regulars, most of the semi-regulars. Word gets around, you know? I even think Anon slipped in the back door with Ril and 150.

Back door.

Someone had this idea of doing the slush for you while you were gone—a thank you present. I can’t remember how we found your house, but then someone thought of searching your address book for Miss Snark’s number, so we could thank her, too. And we got hungry and there were these cookies, and if you give fairyhedgehog a cookie she’s going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give her the milk, she’s—

How does the TP fit into this?

Uh. Well, I was upstairs trying to figure out your computer—that’s one ooooold computer—so I could do the day’s Face-Lift, when the party started. I’m, uh, not much of a party person, so I waited it out.

Where’s everybody now?

Well, Dave’s probably still at the store looking at chemicals in cleaning stuff, trying to figure out which one’s best and if he can make his own batch cheaper. More cheaply. Whichever. Robin’s in the corner with a lampshade on her head. VKW’s actually cleaning. Oh, and I think Anon is trying to drunk-dial Miss Snark.

Did the slush get done?

Uh….

--_*rachel*_

Blog Vacation 2

The Evil one stroked his whiskers and glared at me across his cluttered desk. I hurried to reassure him.

"It all went brilliantly," I said. I fidgeted on the hard chair, wishing I was still sitting in his place. "I got rid of the spam as soon as I saw it."

"Spam? What spam?" He really should watch his blood pressure. His face goes all red when he's annoyed.

"Oh, just the usual sort but there was no harm done. None of your minions is stupid enough to follow a link in Chinese; or one left by a hot, hot, hot Latvian girl who likes to cook; or one that promises to enlarge their-"

"You shouldn't have turned comment moderation off!" he roared, banging his fists down hard enough to dislodge a landslide of slush onto the floor. His eyes never left my face.

"I didn't."

"You can't get spam when you've got comment moderation on!"

"It wasn't in the comments, it was in the posts."

"In the posts!" His voice rattled the windows. I wondered what a burst blood vessel looked like and what I'd need to do about it.

I tried for nonchalance. "Oh, I opened the blog up for anonymous posting. I thought you needed a bit of democracy in here."

"You filled my whole blog with spam?" Not a burst blood vessel, it was going to be a heart attack. Either that or he was going to hit me. I needed to calm him down fast.

"It's OK! I've got rid of all of it now! Except for the hot, hot Latvian girl. I think one of your minions is sweet on her."

--Fairy Hedgehog

Blog Vacation 1

“Welcome Back!” EE’s apprentice gushed as EE busted open his office door.

In a full tirade, EE roared, “You call 5000 emails in my inbox a welcome back?”

The apprentice bowed his head and somberly said, “At least you know you’re wanted.”

EE scoffed, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself…for god’s sake you’re…Conan O'Brien.”

A few sniffles later, Conan said, “You’re right, EE. What would I do without you?

Giving me this gig… while I’m on hiatus…poised to make my next several millions.”

EE grunted “Oh you…celebrity types…making everyone feel sorry for you…despite all your millions too?” EE, marveling at the skill, unknowingly asked “You wouldn’t by chance know John Grisham?”

“No.” Conan said dryly.

“Huh? Never mind” EE said, “OK then, do tell me…why oh why did you choose, Little House on the Prairie for New Beginnings?

Conan defended, “I know it’s been done before, but…I thought it’d be fun.”

“It’s practically American folklore. Poor, Laura Ingalls Wilder…you’ve done her a great injustice.”

“Hey…I’m Canadian. And as far we’re concerned, Laura’s the diabolical one, not that rich, spoiled chit, Nellie Oleson.” Conan jested.

With eyes closed, EE prayed for patience then retorted, “And the Writing Exercises – you had people write my…eulogy?”

“Brilliant idea, eh? That had the biggest interest by far…well over 1000 participants” Conan replied.

“Good God!” EE cried, and then thought…He’s right…it’s quite brilliant.

“I know. Far too many haters than I anticipated.” Conan muttered.

“I’ll say,” replied EE.

“You’re your own celebrity now, EE. All thanks to me,” Conan said.

Visions of grandeur danced in EE’s head; parties with P. Diddy, rumors of him up shack’n up with Lindsay Lohan, a stint or two in rehab…the possibilities were endless.

After careful consideration, EE said “You’re right. Care to stay on for another week?”

--Mina B.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Face-Lift 732


Guess the Plot

Embero: The Last Dragon

1. The last dragon embryo on earth is about to be used in a stem-cell research experiment. Can Pat Robertson save it, or will the godless heathens of the Democratic party win the day?

2. Nadine reluctantly accepts the task of protecting the Last Dragon from the bloodthirsty armies of the kingdom of Embero. But as Nadine gets better acquainted with the dragon, she falls in love with him and dreams of a future together--if they can survive that long.

3. Embero's sad, lonely fate as the world's last remaining dragon seems inevitable until he meets talent scout Babs Truffaut Kantrowitz. She promises to book him in Vegas...but first, that pathetic name has to go. How about Conflagratio? Or Inferno? Something with a little more spark. Come on, work with me, people!

4. Embero witnesses the murder of his parents by Vincezne, a Dragonslayer from the south of France. Raised by a blind poet who believes he is a large dog with a knack for making campfires, Embero's sole goal is to see Vincezne burn in hell. Literally.

5. Harley Morgan is a small-time pot dealer with even smaller aspirations. Then he inherits Embero, a failing Chinese restaurant. Between the disgruntled employees, suspicious police, and his freegan girlfriend accusing him of selling out to The Man, Harley finds a surprising chance to become the man he didn't know he wanted to be.

6. Embero has a gimpy wing, a lazy eye, and scales that look more like a skin disease. He's the last dragon anybody would consider fierce. But when a blind girl begs him to come save her village from evil occupying soldiers, how can he refuse?



Original Version

Dear [Agent Name],

When the all-powerful King Joseph of Embero informs Nadine, a headstrong seventeen-year-old girl, that she must marry the ruthless prince to satisfy the queen’s dying wish, she decides to flee.

Tool of prophecy, armed with the Divine Art of controlling water, Nadine is summoned by the White Witch Evangeline. Nadine reluctantly accepts the task of protecting the Rebellion’s greatest treasure, the Last Dragon, against the bloodthirsty armies of Embero. [A 17-year-old girl is supposed to thwart bloodthirsty armies?

Rebel scout: Bloodthirsty armies are heading our way. Shall I call the men to arms?

Rebel leader: No, let's just send out Nadine.

What is this water controlling power? Can she cause tsunamis and hurricanes?]
Aided by an aspiring soldier and his sister, Nadine begins her perilous journey across the world of Earthea to join the Rebellion. [I seems like it would be hard to run a decent rebellion from the other side of the world.]

As Nadine gets better acquainted with the dragon, she discovers that he has a human soul and falls in love with him. [How does she determine this? Is it a talking dragon?] She dreams of a future with the man behind the beast--if they can survive that long.

Nadine’s love for the dragon is rivaled in intensity only by King Joseph’s fear of death. He burns a path across the world of men to obtain the dragon’s golden vein--a filament in the dragon’s heart--that has the power to grant its consumer immortality.

Directed by his father, Prince Kellan is given the singular task of capturing the girl and the dragon she loves. But the prince has secrets and aspirations of his own: by day he may be his father’s right hand man, but by night he accompanies Nadine in the form of the Last Dragon.

EMBERO: THE LAST DRAGON, a YA fantasy novel is complete at 100,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


Notes

Why is it that Last Dragon is capitalized but dragon isn't? In fact, why are Divine Art and White Witch and Rebellion capitalized?

Nadine takes a journey across the world after fleeing the king. The king has to burn a path across the world of men to get to Nadine. In between these trips, how is the prince able to be with Nadine when he's a dragon and with the king when he isn't? Where does Nadine think the dragon is all day long when she's supposed to be protecting him?

Unless you tell us how it comes in handy, we don't need to know Nadine controls water.

Why, since they don't use the dragon's golden vein for immortality, does the rebellion consider the dragon their greatest treasure?

Why is Embero part of the title?

Earthea?

Cartoon 582

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Face-Lift 731


Guess the Plot

After the Apocalypse

1. It's dark, it smells bad, and it's impossible to get a decent cup of coffee.

2. Having successfully wiped out most of humankind, the devils throw the best party of all time, themed “After the Apocalypse”. Party favors? Charred human remains. Then the last human survivors, riding elephants a la Alexander the Great, crash the party with disastrous precision. Can Moorpunchspikeeg save her party and her devilmates?

3. For centuries the tribes have been dying out, partly because they continue sending their best warriors into battle against killer robots on behalf of purple-haired people that don't even know the tribes exist. It's kind of like if a pocket of French soldiers were still fighting the Napoleonic wars. Against robots.

4. The world should have ended in zombies, kudzu, and cockroaches. Then came Harry Swatski's dreidelmeister6000 -- the 'it' item for Christmas. Now 99.9999% of the population is under the age of seven, fruit-flavored rain and marshmallow men dominate the streets, and Harry just found the last chocolate AK-47.

5. The TV show "After the Apocalypse" pairs clumsy, earnest, Hollywood has-been Axl Hudson with brusque Cherokee poet-turned-survivalist Dana “Singing Blackbird” Davis, and drops them in the middle of nowhere with a camcorder and a Bowie knife. Adventure (and maybe romance) will ensue! Well, that was the plan, anyway...

6. Rictor Steinwick is insane. The last returning MIA from Vietnam, he has been forced to listen the lyrics of the 1976 song “After The Lovin'” by Engelbert Humperdinck, every day all day long. Now, returning to his post at NORAD Rictor has the power to end the world as we know it. But what will he do . . . after the apocalypse?


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Abandoning someone injured is a death sentence under tribe law, but Naranja still almost doesn't help a plane crash survivor. The injured girl has unnatural purple hair, enough evidence to condemn her as a country person. That's more than enough reason for Naranja Verde, leader of Fourth Tribe, to abandon her, death penalty be damned. Though the countries haven't interfered in tribe affairs for two hundred years, the hungry summers, cold winters, and deaths caused by their 'help' live on in tribe memory. Besides, [Besides what?] the Challenge is soon: an annual event where the oldest and strongest tribe members fight metal monsters for their right to exist- and the right of the country they represent, by proxy. It's the reason war ended. The last thing they need is complications. [If the tribes hate country people, and the countries haven't been interfering with tribes for 200 years, I don't see why tribe members represent countries in these fights with metal monsters. What's in it for them?]

But complications are all they get when the country girl's bones are set and they learn the countries have forgotten the tribes exist. [If the tribes believed that the Challenge results determined whether the countries they represented had the right to exist, didn't it occur to them that the countries would at least send some observers to the Challenge?] When Naranja's tribe sends the girl back to her country, she carries with her the news of five tribes, at least one made up entirely of children living in caves. Worse, [Worse than what?] due to an ancient system and high death rates, tribes don't have kids naturally; the tribes are formed from kidnapped babies, some of them royalty with colorful tattoos. Like Naranja's green 'birthmark.'

This year, Fourth Tribe has to deal with more than the usual wood shortages and wild animals as the countries decide the tribes need to come home. Naranja's only sixteen, and right now she's sure any of the dead- from the former Naranja Prendo to her closest friend Listo- could do better than her. [If the dead can do better at something than you can, you need to find a new trade.] But as she struggles with bears, countries, and the ever-present complaints of her tribe, she is determined only that no more will die.

After the Apocalypse is a complete 70,000 word YA novel. It should appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and The Other Side of the Island. May I send the complete manuscript?

Sincerely,


Notes

If the countries don't know the tribes exist, who is providing the metal monsters? Does each tribe build a battle-bot for the Challenge? Wouldn't it be more fair and more humane if the metal monsters fought each other instead of the oldest tribe members?

~~~


Okay, I'm back. I just spent three hours on YouTube watching Battlebots and Robot Wars videos.

This information isn't well-organized, but as it's mostly setup, it's better to condense it into a three-sentence paragraph than to rework the whole thing. Then, once you've set up the situation, you'll have plenty of room for the plot. The situation appears to be that for 200 years the tribes have been sending their best warriors into battle against killer robots on behalf of the countries. Then they discover the countries know nothing about this.

The plot involves Naranja's goal. Is it to end the Challenge? Is it to maintain the tribal existence rather than returning to the countries? How does she go about achieving her goal, who/what's she up against, what's at stake, what's her plan? The tattoo would make a good finish for the plot summary.

I'm not crazy about referring to the countries as "the countries." Are they actual countries? Do they have names? Do the tribes live inside the countries?

Cartoon 581

Caption: Blogless_Troll

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Beginning 729

Six weeks earlier, a doctor had given me less than two months to live. It wasn’t a formal diagnosis, as such -- more of a threat. His wife was beside me at the time, and neither of us had expected him home so early.

I'm the type to sleep right through the alarm, dead to the world, but there's something about the cool, dry click of a hammer being pulled back that cuts right through the sweetest of dreams and it had me instantly awake. It was still dark. I could smell cigar smoke and whisky -- a good brand. I could hear breathing, shallow, much faster than it should be -- that was me.

“I don’t usually make house calls,” he said. “But for you, a special exception. Why don’t you turn on the light?”

I did as I was told. I did it slowly. I’m no fool.

“I pride myself on an accurate prognosis,” the doctor told me, while I watched the maw of his revolver.

“No chance of a second opinion, I suppose?”

He shook his head. The gun didn’t waver. He must have been an excellent surgeon: he had a very steady hand.

“However,” he continued, “I believe your condition may not be completely incurable. I have a proposal for you.”

The good doctor reached down and pulled a bag from the floor. Never taking his eyes off me -- good decision -- he emptied the contents onto my belly, temporarily winding me. It was several hundred pages of closely typed text. "This is the proposal," he said.

I leaned forward and looked at the first page: Short Title: America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

"Shit." I said as my heart sank. "Okay, okay. Just shoot me now."


Opening: Anon......Continuation: Iago

Cartoon 580

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Face-Lift 730


Guess the Plot

The Minion and the Mistress

1. Miss Snark. Dave. Mrs. V. Khazar. Buffysquirrel. Anon. 150. Their lives, loves and personal perversions are all laid bare in Evil Editor's memoirs.

2. Fearing that the girl he wants as a mistress will run away, the demon king assigns one of his minions--a giant troll--to guard her. But he didn't count on the girl falling in love with the troll! Will she bash the troll's head in and flee, or will she stick around for true love?

3. When chef and part-time dominatrix Lizzie Whippersnap concocts an army of mutant broccoli monsters, she decides to fulfill her life-long dream of taking over the Food Network. But true love strikes when she finds one of her creations, Dirk Carrot, appealing. Is there room in this veggie-phobic world for romance between a mistress and her orange-tinted minion?

4. Evil Wizard Golgorlemoy has turned his minion into an onion and his mistress into a waitress. At dinner, the waitress will serve onions to the king and queen causing them to inadvertently break their vegetarian vows. When the kingdom finds out that their royalty are cannibals, the wizard and the mistress can become emperor and empress.

5. A Terrrible Misunderstanding (TM) causes the Chief of Minions (CoM) to elope with the Evil Overlord's Mistress (EOM). They hate each other, but in order to save the Evil Overlord (EO), the two must stop fighting long enough to destroy the invading Good Guy Army (GGA).

6. Taurg, captain of a Charruvian starship, has gone too far, throwing his simpering thrall, Trach'n in the brig for sleeping with Taurg's human mistress--and unless the mistress can help the minion escape and lead a mutiny, Taurg will take out his frustrations on the nearest planet . . . Earth.


Original Version

Dear Famous ePublisher,

I am seeking a publisher for The Minion and the Mistress, a fun and fast-paced story of heroic trolls, supernatural mobsters and an unlikely true love. The Minion and the Mistress is a romance with fantasy elements complete at 25,000 words.

Since her earliest childhood, when she was kidnapped by fairies, Annith has lived under the protection of the Demon King. A small-time crime lord who rules a small pocket of fae-folk hiding in the mortal realm, the King’s always treated Annith as his beloved daughter. Now, though, she’s grown up, rounded out, and the Demon King’s acquired some hungry eyes— and wandering hands. [Hey, he's only human.] As his advances turn forceful, Annith becomes increasingly frantic to escape the only home she’s ever known. [I can't tell if the Demon King has forced himself on her, or if she wants to escape before he does. It seems unlikely she managed to thwart a demon's forceful advances.]

The King, fearing she’ll escape him, assigns a massive troll, Ruuk, to be her “bodyguard.” Annith is ready to bash Ruuk’s head in if it will get her away from the King, but as she gets to know the soft-spoken troll, she finds he’s kind and funny— sweet even. [A troll? Gotta be Stockholm Syndrome.] The seven-foot lug might even be in over his head. He seems to be losing himself bit by bit with every job he works for the King, and she’s worried about what’ll be left of him if he keeps this up.

But when it comes down to achieving her freedom or saving the troll she’s increasingly come to care for, Annith has to decide if she really will do anything (and sacrifice anyone) to get herself away from the Demon King. [That sentence pretty much says the same thing twice.]

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work.

Sincerely,


Notes

When a book has demons, trolls, fairies, supernatural mobsters, fae people, etc., I'd call it a fantasy with romantic elements rather than a romance with fantasy elements.

This is awfully short. As e-publishers don't have to worry about the spine being so thin you can't read the title, maybe that's not a problem, but I wouldn't assume this is long enough to attract a publisher that doesn't specifically say 25,000 words is in the range they're seeking.

Has Annith considered suggesting to Ruuk that he escape with her? Or that he lead a coup against the demon king? She seems to have concluded without much thought that there are only two choices.

"Demon King" and "small-time crime lord" don't seem like two names that would be applied to the same being. How powerful is the demon king? If he were attacked by a seven-foot troll, who would win?

Cartoon 579


Caption: John

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Monday, February 15, 2010

New Beginning 728

Today is Tart day. I pull the sheet over my head in my pathetic attempt to ward off the hot Bangkok morning streaming through the window and the reality of this day banging into my brain. I don’t want to teach the Tarts. I curl in tighter, the fetal position is helping me gird myself for the experience of being in the same room with the Tarts for fifty-five minutes, assuming they show. Cruel and unusual punishment comes in many forms and this is an excruciating torturous piece of suffering I can not avoid. The Tarts are a group of female senior students who have somehow managed to stay in school, haven’t maimed anyone to my knowledge but that could change because each class they are getting more aggressive with each other and their classmates.

Last lesson I had with them, they all sat with their backs to me, flipping through magazines and text messaging each other while I tried to get the simple present tense out of the rest of the class. That was after the Queen of Tarts jumped to her feet and screamed she had to piss as she ground her hands into her groin. Her hench ladies followed suit. I ground my teeth while they ground their, well, you know.

Knowing that I shouldn't expect the Queen's crew back anytime soon, I turn my attention to the rest of my class, the Tarts in Waiting. I don't much want to teach them either, I swallow a couple of pills I got from yesterday's Druggies class. They taste not unlike the chalk I hold in my other hand.

With a shrug, I turn to the board. "Okay, who can tell me what is wrong with this sentence," I say as I scribble, Only ten dollar, me love you long time, sailor.



Opening: Bibi.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 578

Caption: Steve Wright

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine 7

The poodle-shaped cell phone yappity-yap-yapped.

Miss Snark checked the number — bliss! — and kicked off her stilettoes. "Snookums?"

"Ooky-pooky-wookums," replied Evil, his voice a mixture of honey and moisturising cream for rich elderly ladies.

"So where are you taking me tonight, Big Boy?"

A pause. Pregnant. 8 months. Complications. Quads. Elephants. Straining to trumpet for their lives. Their trunks lashed together by rope. Their Never Forget bodies inflating rapidly like impossible bellows ready to burst burst BURST! "Well," replied Evil. "Let's, ah, let's see..."

Miss Snark clapped her hands. "Ooooh! Ooooh! A surprise! It's that Italian place isn't it? Where you punched the waiter for mispronouncing Pina Colada! Or what about Pierre Gastrique? Wow. I could murder a nice juicy Coq au Vin, if you get my meaning. Or is it sushi? Romantic sushi, made for two-she? Jeez. Listen to me. I'm gushing. You really got me, Snookums. In Mommy's special hot place. I dunno how you do it, but I'm on fire, baby. Hey listen, let's skip the meal. Whatever you had planned, we can do next weekend. Get over here RIGHT NOW. I want you, baby, want it all. On the rug. This minute. To AC/DC."

Evil sighed with relief — then did the biggest, silentest Snoopy dance EVER. "OK, Ooky-pooky-wookums. I'll be round in five minutes in your favourite leotard..."

--Whirlochre

Valentine 6

“What are you doing?”

Evil Editor looked puzzled at the question. “I’m holding your hand.”

“Please don’t. It makes me uncomfortable.” She took it from him. EE fidgeted they walked; it was the first time he had dated anyone with a prosthesis.

“So,” he said, desperate to fill the awkward silence with small talk. “When did you quit being a juggler?”

Saffron glared at him. “Take a wild guess.”

Shit.

“Sorry. I-- Listen, you’re going to love this place. It’s my one of my favorites.”

“I’m looking forward to it. Don’t know how you managed to get a reservation on such short notice on Valentine’s day.”

“No reservations needed. I’m a regular there, they all know me.”

“So, what kind of place is it?”

“It’s mostly ethnic dishes, with a few local specialties. They do things with ladyfinger you--”

Shit.

His date sighed. “Listen. I’m over it, okay?”

“You’re very brave. Heck, I can’t juggle bean bags, let alone chainsaws. That must have been quite a show.”

“That last one was. A little lapse of concentration and my hand is flying off into the audience.”

“What a shock that must have been. All I’ve ever caught is a foul ball at a Redsox game.”

“I’m over it,” she repeated in a tone of voice that suggested, but not that over it.

“Incredible. I mean, I’ve got to hand it to--”

Shit.

“There it is.” EE pointed to a lighted window nestled in a row of darkened shops. “It’s called Kali, named after the many-armed--”

Shit.

“Okay.” Saffron’s voice had just the kind of edge you don’t want to hear from an (ex-) chainsaw juggler. “How about you stop talking and we go in and eat. I hope it’s a good table. If we’re not stuck by the kitchen, this date may be salvageable.”

“Don’t worry, everything’s in hand,” EE said as they entered the Kali Indian Takeaway.

--Anonymous

Valentine 5

Hi EE. Sorry, no hello kiss, because I know you asked me out only because none of your writers and none of the Hooters waitresses will have anything to do with you.

And I know you agreed to this date only because no one will go out with you ever since Mr. V. died three years ago under highly suspicious circumstances.

You might at least have picked me up in a limo. Who'd you buy this thing from, Al Capone?

The classics never go out of style.

Where are you taking me?

I had reservations at le porc énorme, but at the last minute I canceled. I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.

Uh oh. Here it comes.

Hear me out. Imagine we're twelve years old. We both have a crush on each other, but neither of us has ever said so. I finally work up the nerve to ask you out for Valentine's Day.

Sounds like a sappy McDonald's advertise-- You better not be taking me to McDonald's!

Don't be ridiculous. Burger King.

--Evil Editor

Valentine 4

With a seductive smile and perfectly coiffed hair, Delilah knocked, and then waited, donning a silky, red number and matching, strappy heels. Before seeing EE, she said, “Hello, lover…uh.”

Not recognizing the face opening the door, Delilah glanced around, looking for familiarity, then ogled back at the stranger. “Sorry…is EE here?”

“Right here, love,” the man replied, using EE’s voice. With his hair slick and glasses banished, he wore a tailored, grey Prada suit, an irresistible smile and resembled…George Clooney.

Delilah’s stood, mouth gaped open.

“Don’t you recognize me?” EE said.

Dumbfounded, Delilah stumbled and EE stabilized her, escorting her inside.

“You look ravishing,” he said, and then stepping back asked, “How do I look?”

Delilah visually drank in EE’s appearance, marveling at how altered he looked just by slicking his hair, removing his glasses and dressing in stylish duds. She said, “What do I owe this pleasure?”

“Why Valentine’s Day, love.”

Narrowing her eyes, she asked, “What’s the catch?”

Using an alluring voice, EE extended his arm, “No catch…shall we?”

Delilah’s eyes sparkled at EE’s response.

Reaching for the door, he nonchalantly said, “One more thing… the reservations are under… your name.”

“What was that?”

“The reservations…they’re under your name.”

Stomping her heel, Delilah snapped, “So help me, EE…I’m not paying this time and I refuse to go dutch.”

EE retorted, “No, love. I’ve arranged everything…It’s just that…oh drat…I couldn’t get a reservation to save my life…so, I used your name, and disguised myself…dressing as this stooge to woo your affections on this farcical Hallmark holiday.”

Forgoing his efforts, EE began searching for his glasses.

With moon eyes, Delilah caught EE’s hand and said, “That’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me…”

EE smiled, kissed her hand and said, “I do try, love…at least once a year.”

--Mina Burrows

Valentine 3

“Honey, I’ve got bad news—” They both stopped.

“You go first,” Miss Snark said.

EE shook his head, his sole remaining hope another minute without a red stiletto buried in his chest. “Ladies first—I insist.”

Miss Snark fought back premonitions of laser vision gone wrong and started. “They remember last year.”

Relieved, EE flopped down on the nearest piece of furniture—an endtable with a Swarovski koala as decoration. There was a decided “crunch,” which actually doesn’t lend this story as much comic relief as it might have had it gotten stuck, ahem, in the hot cross buns. “I was just about to say the same thing—I called everyplace.”

Miss Snark, hearing the crunch, smiled sweetly and reached for both the whetting stone in her purse and her right stiletto. The obvious ensued in a predictably ominous manner. “As did I (scritch schritch slither). I do believe we (hissh) will have to consider alternate forms of Valentine entertainment, or condescend to go to a lesser restaurant.”

EE’s eyes widened at the whetting of the stilettos, just like a newly-21-year-old boy whose fairly conservative parents have taken him out for a night on the town (true story, that). He blinked, willing his laser vision to warm up quickly. “We could try Chicago.”

“And leave the 212?” Miss Snark asked. “Not likely.” Her stiletto now looked like a very red, lethal stiletto, and she threw it. EE’s laser vision vaporized it in midair.

Miss Snark glared at him and reached for her left stiletto, but EE reached out a hand and stopped her.

“Why don’t we go shopping instead.”

“You owe me new shoes and a koala.”

EE grimaced. “Will McKoala do?”

“Hah. Swarovski, or I’ll find myself a date who can actually get reservations.”

They shook on it.

--_*rachel*_

Valentine 2

“So, where is he taking you tonight?”

“The Royal Goose.”

“No way. I heard you had to have reservations, like, six months in advance.”

“A year.”

“A year? Do you think he’s finally going to ask you?”

“Well, considering I’ve stuck around this long--”

“Especially after what happened last year.”

“Don't remind me. Well, he’s bound to ask sooner or later. Oh. Wait, can you hold on a minute?”

“Sure.”

...

“I’ve got to go.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“You know how I was going to be sitting at a table at The Royal Goose tonight?”

“Don’t forget the ring.”

“Yeah, well, I have to change. Looks like the only royalty I’ll be seeing is the drive-thru at Dairy Queen.”

--Taylor Taylor

Valentine 1

Evil glanced at his watch. Christ. It was almost eight. V expected dinner at some fancy-schmancy joint where the miat r de was more evil than he was, if that was ever a possible thing.

Twenty minutes blew by. Evil hoped V was still fretting over what dress to wear. He prayed for her curling iron to explode, some disaster to delay the impending confession. Yes, he’d rather take V to the emergency room than have to come up with a dandy of an excuse as to why he was such an asshole and couldn’t land dinner reservations on THE night of all nights.

Yes, a bizarre accident, the perfect plan. They could whittle the night away in the waiting room reading outdated magazines, poking fun at the crazies; besides, after she was patched up, they could stop by the hospital cafeteria and catch a bite to eat.

Evil tip-toed over to the breaker box. He channeled a MacGyver rerun he happened to catch on TV at three a.m. the night before (he was burdened with a bout of terrible insomnia over the whole dinner reservation fiasco).

A little nudge here. Connect the black to the red. Flip this over to the left.

Just then Evil heard Mrs. V scream bloody murder. He was an effing genius! He stroked his right mutton chop with pride and practically danced down the hall to ‘rescue’ V.

“What’s the matter, schnookums?” Evil poked his head around the corner of the bathroom.

Thunk!

A cell phone fell to the ground after leaving an indentation in Evil’s forehead. A string of nasty voice mails from dozens of restaurants telling Evil to stick body parts where they didn’t naturally belong spewed out of the speaker.

Damn. Evil vowed the next time he purchased a new cell he’d read the god-damned user’s guide.

--Angie

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Date Photo Caption Contest Winners

Below are the winning captions. Click on the photos for a larger view.

1.

Caption: Whirlochre

2.

Caption: Anonymous


3.

Caption: Marissa Doyle

4.

Caption: Whirlochre

Friday, February 12, 2010

Face-Lift 730


Guess the Plot

Bouncing Apostrophe

1. ’ , ’ , ’ , ’,’,’,’,,,,

2. Its a Wo'nderful Life meets ... I mean Its a Wonderful Li'fe meets ... Sorry, meant to say Its a W'onderfu'l L'ife Me'ets ... Goddammit, stop that!!!

3. It's a happy 'story about a punctuation mark that u'sed to be unhappy with it's lot in life. But now it bounce's about all over the place, announcing to everyone, "Here come's an S!"

4. A FORMER TELEGRAPH OPERATOR WORKS SECURITY IN A SCOTTISH POETS APOSTROPHE BAR WHERE THE MORSE CODE HE HEARS IN THE FLAMENCO DANCER APOSTROPHE S STEPS MAKES HIM ARGUE PUNCTUATION WITH THE CLIENTELE STOP ALSO COMMA A GRAMMAR NERD APOSTROPHE S LOVE TRIANGLE STOP

5. Apostrophe is a nine-year-old girl with super-springy knees that send her high in the sky whenever she jumps. When she bounces all the way across the ocean from London to Michigan, she must find a way to get herself and her dog, Dash, back home to her parents. Also, twenty mustachioed snowmobilers.

6. Ellen is a copy editor at Hot!, the magazine for young fashionistas. When the gloriously goth Allen comes aboard as layout artist, she finds herself in love. Unfortunately, so does Allen--with Dmitri, the caterer. Hilarity ensues.

7. Jasper havin’ ritten da firs’ fo’ leng’ literature novel brakes all da rulz, of splellin,’ n’ grammer: teachs the bes’ shizzle in a a p'aranormal-romance-tell-all-historiacl-fiction-thriller starin’ an gay werewolves meets pirate on way to show da worl’ rulz don’ mack a fine book it confuses da reel massage.



Original Version

Apostrophe is a girl with a problem. [Is it her name?] No, it’s not her name. She has super-springy knees. If she gets overexcited and jumps up and down, her elastic joints send her up, up, up in the sky... She usually lands with an unladylike bump somewhere far from her London home. [I think the sound would be less bump and more splat.] This is a major pain in the kneecap. Dash, her faithful dog (named after the punctuation mark and for his aerodynamic shape), has a sixth sense when it comes to her bouncing. He grabs hold of whatever body part is nearest with his teeth. She doesn’t mind. Much.

This time, Apostrophe’s bouncy knees have sent her and Dash across a vast ocean to a land where trousers are pants, rubbish is trash, and chips are fries. That’s right, the United States of America. The Upper Peninsula in Michigan, to be exact. [The Internet shows many fish & chips restaurants in the Upper Peninsula, so it's not clear that someone whose first trip to the USA was there would discover that chips are fries. In fact, being so close to Canada, and having a large Finnish population, wouldn't the UP use a lot of British terms spoken in Scandinavian accents?] Apostrophe must get herself and Dash home to England, but like any self-respecting nine-year-old, she can’t bear to ask for help from her parents. “Independent ladies don’t require assistance,” she says. Trying to bounce back is too risky, though, they could end up further from home. While trying to come up with a plan, Apostrophe gets to know some of the locals – a gang of twenty mustachioed snowmobilers, [Amazing how different Upper Peninsula gang culture is from, say, Detroit.] the Kilpinen kids (all thirteen), and the town’s boot-throwing champion. [Please. It's called Welly Wanging. Here's an introduction to casual welly wanging, and here's a champion wanger.] Her linguistic nuances cause minor awkward misunderstandings, major life-threatening confusions, as well as tear-jerking belly laughs. It is through her new-found friendships, though, that Apostrophe discovers how being truly independent sometimes means relying on others.


Notes

It sounds like the whole point of the story is to show that relying on others isn't a bad thing, but you don't show us any instance in which Appie relies on others. Who does what to help her get back?

Presumably this is not the entire query letter, as the recipient will want to know how long it is, what age range it's intended for, whether it's got pictures.

If she's come down far from home in the past, wouldn't she be under strict orders to contact her parents whenever she bounced far away? They must be worried sick if she's in Michigan and not even contacting them.

It seems to me that the arc required to bounce from London to Michigan without reaching unpleasantly fatal speeds would take Apostrophe into realms where the temperature and lack of oxygen would be unpleasantly fatal. Not that little kids will care, but the age at which kids won't scoff at the science may be the age at which they expect illustrations.

Bouncing to Wales or Scotland isn't good enough?

I'd drop Dash from the first paragraph. He isn't needed in the query, but at least he's not taking up much space in the second paragraph.

Cartoon 577

Caption: Anon.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Beginning 727

Sophie, in an uncharacteristic burst of the poetic, probably brought on by the soothing effects of the painkillers, declared that she wanted to call the twins Castor and Pollux. Fortunately Brian Hummel, her acquaintance of four years (and seven months), who knew well the trauma that a hastily chosen name could cause, having answered to "Bumhole" for most of his life for no better reason than his maternal great-grandfather being also Brian, quickly persuaded her otherwise with the certain advice that those names - as well as being incredibly pretentious epithets that would position a family badly with regard to the idle chatter of their peers - would doom the two to a childhood, and probably beyond, of substitute designations such as "Custard and Bollocks", and variations thereof. After a brief - and at best, semi-coherent - discussion, Sophie conceded, therefore, to the much more sensible Katrina - apparently the forename of a great, great grandmother, supposed to be a Russian emigrée - for the first born; and for Katrina's minutely younger brother, the name Jonathan, which had no known history in the family but seemed, nonetheless, a comfortable fit.

Jonathan had been the first to cry; and always would be. Katrina, on the other hand, just quietly started to breathe, as though savouring that first, perfect moment when everything is new, nothing is broken and no one is to blame. That single, precious moment of individuality; that perfect moment, oblivious to everything that was to come: the broken bone; the first kiss; the accident in the car; both divorces; the death of her fathers, and the final, exquisite blow that would lay waste to everything she would come to hold precious.

****

I took a sip of scotch, gazed moodily at my computer screen, and sighed. Some people might think it was just grand to be haunted by Charles Dickens--literally haunted, as the rat-bastard spook wouldn't let me sleep until I took dictation from him every night--but I just wished someone had told him that "show, don't tell" was the new mantra in fiction.


Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Marissa Doyle

Cartoon 576

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Face-Lift 729


Guess the Plot

Finding Forest

1. Halia is a wild fairy, who lives in the scrub oak forests above Los Angeles. When wildfires burn through her grove, she must seek a new home. Also, a talking owl.

2. When a dead teen is revealed to be a robot, Forest and his friends wonder what's going on. Then the robot's creator comes to town. Is he here to repair the robot? Is he here to destroy the community? Or is he interested only in . . . Finding Forest?

3. Problem after problem thwart Yvonne’s search for meaning, and her new-found passion for the klutzy-but-unavailable Feng-Shui-for-Pets shopkeeper isn’t helping her. When at last she finds love stealing glances at her from across the therapy group, will Yvonne’s focus on the ‘trees’ give way to a view of the forest?

4. Waldo made his fortune creating those "hidden object" pictures in which children study a drawing searching for hammers and forks and cell phones. But lately the kids are accusing him of phoning it in; it's just too easy to solve puzzles like "Finding Ocean," "Finding Sky," "Finding Forest." The sad devolution of a great artist.

5. Little Janie Andersen always knew she was special. But one day, repeating a line from Forest Gump, “Run Forest Run,” the grove of pines near her house came to life and sprinted away. Now Janie needs the help of a good witch, a talking scarecrow and a tin dog to find the forest.

6. Mary Sue and her boyfriend Gary rampage through Brooklyn while stalking a were-zombie with Lovecraftian ambitions. Meanwhile the Greener in Pieces initiative (run by ghouls) has decided on drastic measures in the once-man vs nature war. Also, a kitchen sink.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

It takes a lot of courage – or stupidity – to rebel against one’s parents, but Jesse will need more than that [More than stupidity?] to stop Dr. Frey, because Dr. Frey is no father. [It's that old riddle. Dr. Frey is Jesse's mother.] He is Jesse’s creator, and after ten years, he has finally returned for his creation. Jesse knows nothing of this at first, but after the truth is revealed, Jesse is not about to comply with the doctor’s wishes. [Which are?] There are other problems in the community that are more urgent, like the death of Georgette, a friend’s older sister. A scientific investigation leads to the discovery that Georgette was not human, but a highly advanced robot. No such technology exists on post-apocalyptic Earth that could create a thing like this, so the mayors declare a community-wide lockdown. [If beings with vastly superior technology show up, you either make friends or run like the wind. It's unlikely the beings will have a dialogue like:

Leader: Okay, wipe out the puny humans and we'll make this place our base.

General: Yes sir, should take about two min-- Damn, the community's in lockdown.

Leader: Shit. Okay, let's try Mars.]

Jesse and two friends are caught sneaking over the wall during the lockdown, and don’t dare break the law again, but a friend of theirs, Forest, is in trouble. [Specifically, what trouble?] Despite his insistence that they leave him alone, Jesse and the others aren’t about to, but they aren’t sure what to do. Then fires strike simultaneously in different districts of the community and Jesse’s friends become suspicious of the newcomer who claims to be Jesse’s biological father. Worried that his secret will be discovered, Dr. Frey devises a plan to regain control over his creation by kidnapping its companions. Jesse escapes his grasp and manages to rescue the prisoners with help from an old tinker, but Dr. Frey hasn’t given up, and his true goal has come to light – the capture of their friend Forest.

At 50,000 words, Finding Forest is a middle-grade fantasy focused on friendship and the inner humanity shared by all beings [, even machines]. Thank you for your consideration of my novel.

Sincerely,


Notes

Either give Jesse a name that can't be male or female, or use "he" or "she," based on what Jesse looks like, even if Jesse's a robot.

Frey's "true goal" isn't the capture of Forest; that's his immediate goal. His true goal lies in why he wants Forest. Tell us, so we know what's at stake.

The plot doesn't feel cohesive. I'd start with the discovery that Georgette was a robot, then move on to Frey showing up claiming to be Jesse's father. Then get to the stakes: What is Frey up to, and how do Jesse and friends plan to stop him? And if it turns out all the kids are robots, you might want to mention that, too.

The title's not thrilling me, and not just because it's so similar to Finding Forrester.

Cartoon 575

Caption: Anon.

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