Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Trailer

The book trailer won in the Brenda Novak juvenile diabetes auction is complete, and the book's author has no problem with your viewing it.

Clicking here should allow you to view the trailer on your player.

Face-Lift 538

Guess the Plot

The Edge of Memory

1. Irwin needs to fit another 512Mb DIMM in his Dell XPS1720 so he can run the latest version of Hellspawn on Vista. But he's reckoned without the resource sapping power of the Aero interface. Can he downgrade back to XP, or is he destined to forever be at the very edge of memory?

2. A tall, strangely-dressed man is found wandering the desert outside Palm Springs. He claims to be Charlemagne. Is he delusional, or has someone at a nearby secret research lab really broken the time barrier?

3. Willow saw her mother killed twenty years ago, when she was only three. Since then she's lived in a silent world. Now Detective Gary Hiller has been assigned to the cold case. Can he reach Willow, or is she forever doomed to exist on . . . The Edge of Memory?

4. Beatrice lost a decade of her childhood to amnesia long ago. Fortunately she was taken in by a wonderful woman. Unfortunately that woman just died. Fortunately Beatrice finds a clue to the identity of her birth mother. Unfortunately, her birth mother was murdered. Fortunately her birth father is still alive. Unfortunately, her birth father is the one who murdered her birth mother. Fortunately, he just got out of prison. Can Beatrice regain her lost memories with the help of a murderer? Or is there another murder in the offing?

5. When strangers begin appearing in Carrie Strachan's life claiming to be old friends and lovers she begins to wonder how much of what she remembers is history and how much is fantasy. Her efforts to rediscover her true past draw the attention of a serial killer with ties to a counterintelligence operation. Carries must discover who she was and why her memories are important before she becomes another victim in a government-sanctioned killing spree.

6. You know how sometimes you're watching TV and an actor or actress is in the program and they look really familiar, like you know you've seen them in something else but you can't remember if it was a movie or TV show and it's killing you so you wait for the end to get their name but the closing credits go so fast you miss it? That's what life is like every hour of every day for Piper Jones, private eye to the stars.

Original Version

Dear Prospective Agent,

My novel, THE EDGE OF MEMORY, tells the story of a woman with childhood amnesia whose search for her birth parents uncovers brutal family secrets that force her to confront a violent murderer.

Although devastated by the death of the woman who took her in thirty years ago, Beatrice Greyson's grief turns to betrayal when she finds a hidden letter from her birth mother. Leaving everything behind, Beatrice follows the railroad tracks across the Midwest in hopes of finding where she came from and what happened during the missing decade of her childhood. [It's The Wizard of Oz. The railroad tracks are the yellow brick road. The MC is trying to get back to her midwestern home.]

With the help of a charming man she meets along the way (Raymond Richter [aka "The Scarecrow"]), Beatrice discovers she was once Mallory Edgewood, missing and presumed drowned in the Missouri River at the age of twelve. Shortly after her disappearance, her father (Vincent Edgewood) beat her mother to death. [So that's why Dorothy lived with her Aunt Em.] Vincent has recently been released from prison and Beatrice must face him to recover her missing past. Her need to learn the truth will uncover darker family secrets, [Darker than the fact that her father murdered her mother?] jeopardize her budding relationship with Raymond, and leave her teetering on the brink of murder.

THE EDGE OF MEMORY (Upmarket Women's Fiction) addresses the physical and psychological impact of traumatic childhood, for which my current work as a pediatrician gives unique insight. I had several poems published in Scars Publications and in literary magazines in college. [In fact, this novel was inspired by my first published poem, which goes:

My daddy got thirty years
From a very lenient jury
For murdering my mother
And tossing me in the Missouri.]

Medical training consumed most of my time after college, but at thirty-four years old, I now have a job that allows time for both medicine and writing. [I always wondered what was taking the doctor so long while I was sitting by myself in the examination room in my underwear pretending to read Health Magazine; turns out she was working on her memoirs.]

[Reason for contacting this specific agent goes here.] THE EDGE OF MEMORY (89,000 words) would appeal to readers who enjoy the work of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve. If you'd be interested in considering my novel, I'd be glad to send the manuscript for your review. Per your agency website's guidelines, I'm including [whatever they say they like sent].

I truly appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.



How is it that Raymond has nothing better to do than join up with a woman who's following the railroad tracks across the midwest searching for information about something that happened thirty years ago?

No hint about what was in the letter? Apparently something like, Take good care of my daughter, and if she ever wants to find me, tell her I'm living near the railroad tracks in the midwest.

When fiction is declared "upmarket" does it mean it will appeal to those of means? I can see a Lexus being called an upmarket car, but what makes a book upmarket?

You could put the word count and genre in the same parentheses rather than two different sets.

Sounds like an intriguing story, though it also sounds more like some hybrid of mystery, literary fiction and suspense novel than women's fiction. You haven't made it sound like something that wouldn't appeal to men. I take it the Raymond/Beatrice relationship is a major aspect?

Cartoon 155

Caption: Julie Weathers

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cartoon 154

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Writing Exercise Hall of Fame Inductions

A large percentage of the writing exercise submissions are excellent, and it says nothing about the quality of yours that EE didn't choose any of them to add to the Hall of Fame, but chose most of his own. I look for wit, creativity, a good punch line, and laugh-out-loud humor. In the case of graphics (the advertisement exercise) I looked for wit and for art that looked like it was a real ad. Basically, these are the ones I want to read over and over. The new inductees appeared between December and May. You'll find them here.

Cartoon 153

Caption: Kiersten

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Writing Exercise

Write a letter of apology to EE. If you have no reason to apologize to EE, you may apologize for any fictional incident. Deadline 10 AM eastern Sunday. 250 words max. Include your name if you want credit. Idea suggested by ril.

Face-Lift 537

Guess the Plot

The Iron Queen

1. 1870. Patrick O'Byrne is a member of the Molly Maguires, the underground organization of Irish miners in Pennsylvania. What his fellow miners don't know, however, is that Patrick is really Patricia, doing men's work to support her children. When handsome Thomas Fitzgerald arrives, will she be able to keep her secret, or will her heart betray her?

2. Queen Voula rules with an iron fist, especially when it comes to her servants. But that doesn't keep Linea, the zombie maid from shirking her duties to be with Leo. When Leo dies and becomes a zombie, can he and Linea kill Voula before she destroys their souls?

3. "Plain" Jane Beaner's life is changed when her late aunt's lawyer informs her she has not only inherited a fortune, but her aunt's hidden superpowers as the Iron Queen. Suddenly her life is way beyond cool. But will she be ready when she finds out the guy she's been crushing on since forever is now her nemesis?

4. When Clyde introduces an Employee of the Month award at the laundry, he never expects to start finding contestants' bodies in the mangle. Someone is desperate to become The Iron Queen, but can Clyde find the killer before another presser is murdered? Also, handy tips for removing blood from fabric.

5. Bendacia has ruled Gorar with an iron fist for nearly forty years. But now the aging, spinster queen must chose a successor. Can she find someone worthy amongst the various princes? Also, a blind wizard.

6. When Noah Washington steals an antique metal chesspiece from a neigborhood pawn shop, he has no idea it's part of a set created by a 14th century alchemist to hold the secret of the Philosopher's Stone. Now he's being hunted by agents of the Vatican, servants of a modern would-be sorceror and the sycophants of a wealthy industrialist who owns the other pieces.

Original Version

Dear Evilest of Editors:

Linea's compulsive questioning wouldn't be a problem if she were a normal teenage girl. But Linea is a zombie, and Dark Queen Voula doesn't like her servants asking questions. Cleaning musty catacombs has Linea bored stiff, so she ventures to the living world in search of a little excitement. What she finds is Leo—a confident, headstrong guy who instantly captivates her. Soon she questions everything about her life in the Underworld.

[Leo introducing Linea to his parents:

Leo: Mom, Dad, I want you to meet my girlfriend, Linea.

Mom: Correct me if I'm wrong, Leo, but isn't this woman a zombie?

Linea: Brains. Must eat brains.

Dad: She does have nice hands. Is there some way to reattach them?]

Linea breaks all the rules to be with Leo— [How does Leo feel about this? I mean, it's a little awkward when someone is infatuated with you and the feeling isn't mutual, even when the someone in question isn't interested in eating your brain.] she spends time on the surface, ignores her duties, and reveals her true identity for love that transcends death. When Leo is killed unexpectedly, she then finds her boyfriend transformed into a zombie, but not for long. Through their relationship Leo becomes a Lich— [Not clear what you mean by "through their relationship."] Queen Voula's most feared enemy. Before Voula discovers the truth about Leo, they must find her weakness and kill her, or else she will destroy their souls. [If they kill her, will she become a zombie? If not, what determines who becomes a zombie?]

An 80,000-word YA contemporary fantasy, The Iron Queen is my first novel and has an option for a sequel. Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.



If it's "Dark" Queen Voula, why isn't the title The Dark Queen?

It's okay, but there's room for more information about zombies and Leo. Do zombies look and act like normal people? Are they a threat to normal people? Does Leo have anything against Voula, or does becoming a Lich make him automatically her enemy for no good reason? Can a romance really work when one of the participants is dead?

Cartoon 152

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Beginning 522

They tell me part of my brain was gooping out of a hole in my head and onto the street when they found me. The doctor says they scooped it back in and someone smooshed the skull over it and taped it down.

Later, they picked out small bits of tobacco and grass and dirty road gravel in 14 hours of surgery.

The doctors say they didn’t get all of me and some of me fell into the street and was trampled by all those black boots with their Vibram soles. That part is no longer me at all and is gone for good, but lots of parts of me are still around and that’s a miracle.

I’m special they tell me because I didn’t leave when I was stomped to death. I stuck around somehow and breathed by their machine and waited for myself to come around again. I didn’t do this on purpose--I had no intention of dying like I had no intention of living--but the doctors and the nurses don‘t think like I do. They think I had a will to live and I don’t know what to say to that. I wasn’t there when all of this was happening to me.

They hold me up in front of a mirror to let me see myself, bald, cratered like the moon. That's when I find the despair.

"Don't fret," Doc tells me. "We'll clag some filler in there, smoodge it over, caulk aroung the edges, add some color, you'll be good as new."

"I expected better," I said. "Even from an HMO."

"HMO? Sir, this is Home Depot."

So, I guess I wasn't the first to lose the will to live there.

Opening: Scott from Oregon.....Continuation: anon

Cartoon 151

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Beginning 521

The car keys wrenched from Hababe Hussein’s fingertips fall to the ground in the Wal Mart parking lot. At the same moment glued to his computer monitor at the Arcadia Operation, Dr. David Justin makes the sound of keys hitting the ground come alive in his mind. Mouse click, Justin puts his computer into sleep mode, locks the door to his office, and heads down the hall to meet his latest challenge.

Ex-military and a psychiatrist, David Justin is now in charge of the operation in Arcadia, California, the smallest of the four covert prisons operating in the United States. It holds up to 22 prisoners at a time. These are the prisoners that need to fall off the face of the earth, one at a time. When they do, usually courtesy of the CIA, they come to places like Arcadia, California, or Dearborn, Michigan, Chicago or New York. And, the Arcadia prison is minute compared to some overseas.

Hababe Hussein sits on a steel chair in the center of a cold, gray room. His hair drips as ripples settle in the tank of water behind him. His eye is bruised and a trickle of blood runs from the corner of his mouth.

"Well?" David Justin adjusts his latex gloves. "Who is the ringleader? How long were you planning this?"

Hussein coughs and stares at his captor's blue shirt and yellow smiley button; he knows he will never again "forget" to pay for a pack of Twinkies.

Opening: Wendy.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 150

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Face-Lift 536

Guess the Plot


1. Two-year-old Lyle Buffet has an existential crisis when he can't decide between the red lollipop or the orange one. Will he decide before his mother abandons him out of frustration at the grocery store?

2. Lee Trenton knew better than to be afraid of vampires. In fact, he made a fine living off of them, running a scam mail-order coffin service. But when he gets an order from Dracula himself, which one of them will end up being the sucker?

3. When Kalinda has a one-night stand with Steve, she never dreams that she'll soon be taking him home to meet her parents. Or that theyll be followed there by three supernatural beings. Or that Steve is a vampire. All she knows is he's great in the sack, and that makes him a keeper.

4. Graham Payne always knew his calling in life was to be a dentist. But when his wife leaves him for a candy factory owner, his sanity shatters faster than a rotten tooth. Armed with his trusty drill, Graham declares war on sugar--and anyone who sells it.

5. When Julia takes a shortcut through the creek, eight magical leeches attach themselves to her ankles. Julia, pale and feeling weak, climbs into an unattended dryer at the launderette and undergoes a transformation akin to that of Gregor Samsa without the hardshell: she becomes one of the . . . Suckers!

6. Paul Taylor Barnum's Freak Show isn't just entertainment, it's escape. For years, Paul's been running it as an cross-dimensional underground railway, helping refugees from across the multiverse relocate in more friendly worlds. But when the locals start to catch on, and publicity threatens to close down the circus, Paul has to pull the greatest con ever and hope that his great-great-grandfather was right.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for my urban fantasy novel, SUCKERS, complete at 100,000 words.

When Kalinda's one-night stand disappears before dawn, she's bummed out but not too surprised. The surprise comes when he reappears weeks later, waking her up from a horrible dream about banana crumb cake, [There's a limit to how horrible a dream about banana crumb cake can be. Did she accidentally use crushed red pepper instead of sugar in the recipe? Thank God her one-night stand broke into her house while she was sleeping and woke her before she served it to the Ladies' Auxiliary Club.] and says he's a vampire. She's still trying to wrap her head around the idea that a guy named Steve is a vampire—and wondering what kind of blood-borne pathogens she might have gotten from him— [If someone tells me he's a vampire, I'm not trying to wrap my head around the idea until I see him morph into a bat.] when he admits that he's being hunted...and they've followed him to Kalinda's apartment. He doesn't know why they're after him, but the math is simple. Three supernaturals against one vampire and one human means that it's time to run. Even worse: the only safe place Kalinda can think of is her parents' house. [Why does Kalinda have to run? Won't the hunters just follow Steve if he runs?]

Kalinda's career as a freelance technical writer did nothing to prepare her for this. Mysterious figures are prowling around the house, her parents' desire for grandchildren is resulting in a disturbing level of interest in her sex life, and she's trying to figure out whether Steve really has any feelings for her or whether the only thing they have in common is a desire not to be eviscerated. [The undead. It's so hard to read them.] The two of them trap the hunters only to discover that they've been hunting Steve for the wrong reasons. [I hate it when that happens.] Either there's been a horrible miscommunication or someone is out to get Steve. When they discover Steve's kitchen drenched in blood with a message written in blood on the table, they figure it's probably the latter. [That depends on the message. There's a difference between Hey Steve, dropped in and borrowed a couple beers, See you tonight--Tom and Die, Spawn of Satan.]

As they try to figure out how to keep themselves and Kalinda's family safe from the master vampire stalking them, Kalinda wonders about something else, too. Is she safe from Steve, or is the crush spawned weeks ago by an eighties song reference and a bottle of domestic not-light beer going to lead to her death? All she knows about Steve is that he was fantastic in bed and her parents love him: one positive, one negative. [Two negatives: you forgot the one where he subsists on the blood of living humans.] Does she have enough courage to deal with bloodsucking killers or a potential relationship with Steve? Are those different questions?

She'll tackle those questions later. Right now, things are getting weird(er), as it becomes clear that there's more to this than a little confusion over whether Steve killed his maker. Kalinda has a sneaking suspicion that despite all their attempts to hide, the master vampire knows exactly where they are and is just playing with them—but playing means that people keep dying; every new message means another person's death. The few vampires that Steve has met in his five-month life as a bloodsucker are nowhere to be found. The best plan that he, Kalinda, and their newfound enemies-turned-allies [When did this happen?] can come up with is to go after the master vamp in his own lair. [So the math is now four supernaturals and a human against one vampire? Piece of cake.]

Sometimes, the best plan is still a very bad one.

I'd be happy to send you sample chapters or the full manuscript at your request. While this is my first novel, I have had short stories published in [several places]. Thank you for your consideration.



It's too long. You have four long plot paragraphs, and three is plenty. I'd delete the fourth one, as most of the sentences assume we know things you haven't told us. There's been no mention of Steve killing his maker or new messages or vampires Steve has met or the enemies becoming allies.

When you have a crush on a guy and he tells you he's a vampire, whether you believe him or not you are well-advised to seek alternative companionship. Especially if the second time you saw him was the night he broke into your house and woke you from a dream about cake.

Face-Lift ??

Guess the Plot

Book Roast

1. It looks like Book Roast, where books are served up juicy, is going to be a fun place to hang out. That is until Miss Savannah Spitfire shows up, skewers in hand, ready to have a go at whoever wanders into the book-and-grill. Also, a troll.

2. It's 2043, the world lives virtually, and print books have been declared illegal in this chilling update of Fahrenheit 451. Can a group of outcasts and scofflaws keep the last surviving hard copies of Novel Deviations out of the flames? Also, a cameo paragraph written by Ray Bradbury.

3. Illiterate chef, Rambo Ratouse, thinks a request for a new cookbook is a request for a cooked book. Hilarity ensues as he spends the next five years of his life whipping up dishes such as filet de folio, BBQ spines, and his specialty ... Book Roast.

4. With poetry slams so yesterday, an eclectic group of college students comes up with the next literary fad: book roasts. The concept is simple. Read aloud a favorite page then feed it to the fire. What emerges from the smoking pages is a fleeting art form that truly transcends time and language.

5. When Fred Faust mistakes a red satin bookmark for the Mark of the Beast, he consigns the book he's reading, Novel Deviations IV, to the fires of hell. Little does he expect the revolution that book will incite when Lucifer gets his scaly hands on it and refuses to share.

6. A dozen literary classics gather in a back room of the Library of Congress to honor and poke fun at The Da Vinci Code. Hilarity ensues.

Original Version

Can five unlikely chefs cook up the courage to open a book-and-grill, tenderize some pages and spice up a few hundred words -- all without leaving a few brand marks along the way?

Master Roaster R'hino T'hong is determined to whip her zesty vision of a flavorful new dining experience into a fully baked reality. To do it, she enlists the help of four overcharred and underpaid sous chefs: a blowhard troll, a mountain wanderer, a legendary bird and a sharp-forked Aussie. With only a handful of days to get the grill scrubbed, the charcoal lit and the specials of the day snared, the raw talents of the newly basted roast masters are put to the fire.

But just as the egg timer runs out, saucy Savannah Spitfire, southern-fried culinary vixen, appears and things start to really heat up. Now it's up to R'hino T'hong to hold Miss Spitfire to a simmer and add a pinch of humour to the situation before the proverbial pot boils over.

Our credits include many well-seasoned comments published across the Internet at hot and spicy sites like this.

Done to perfection, BOOK ROAST is a juicy multi-genre romp that will have you coming back for seconds. We'll be happy to send you the complete menu. Or click here for a sample taste.

The Roast Masters

Cartoon 149

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Beginning 520

"Ti! Do! Re-Do-Ti! Re-Do-Ti! Re-Do-Ti!"

I look at my alarm clock. Four in the effing morning.

"One-two-three-four! One-two-three-four! One-two-three! One-two-three-four! One-two-three! One-two-three-four!"

Refusing to get out of bed, I reach down to the floor in hopes of finding something to rap against it. My hand finds a shoe, and I bang it down three times. The repetitious solfege and counting stops. I hold the shoe up, my arm poised to strike the floor again if the singing returns. Silence. I drop the shoe on the floor, burrow back underneath my covers and close my eyes.


I lurch into a sitting position. The solfege grows louder, shrilling into higher and higher notes. I hold my hands up in defeat.

"Alright," I croak. "Okay. I'm up. What do you want?"

The neon numbers blink at me and a soft, lilting voice says, "Oh, nothing..."

I bury my head in my hands and curse the Sharper Image catalogue to hell. Why didn't I buy the male Personality Alarm?

Opening: Xiexie.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 148

Caption: R. Watson

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Writing Exercise

Evil Editor's job is getting to him. Or maybe it's his minions. He schedules an appointment with eminent psychiatrist Cherry Rosenberg. Give us up to 300 words from their first session. Deadline Sunday at 10 AM eastern.

Face-Lift 535

Guess the Plot


1. By day he's an entrepreneur hunting business deals. By night, John Faustus tears the flesh of those he hunts. Hey, it's not personal; it's just business. But will John change his ways when he learns he's gotten another werewolf pregnant?

2. Under the light of the full moon, Rod undergoes a horrifying and painful transformation, losing his humanity and replacing it with claws, teeth, fur, and a lust for blood, in a story unlike anything else ever writ-- What do you mean it's been done before? Crap.

3. Joel Van Sandt, trucker, specializes in dangerous jobs. If it's corrosive, flammable, or just plain nasty, he and Werewolf, his customized Peterbilt, have hauled it. He's ready to retire when Hank, an old friend, asks him to make one last delivery of nitro to a coal fire. Is this the end for Werewolf? Or will its last haul be a final victory?

4. When you hit puberty, you start growing hair in all kinds of places, but not as many as Jason McEwe. At first, it's kind of fun being the hairiest boy in school, but then the prettiest girl Jason has ever seen takes notice of him. Suddenly, Jason's no longer so keen on being the school mascot and is looking instead for a full-body electrolysis salon.

5. Werewolves, weredingos, werecats: it's a new world out there at night since the virus that turns creatures into hairy monsters has taken over. Sarah doesn't know it yet, but she's just inherited an amulet that will protect her and a silver bullet factory that will make her the heroine of her time--and rich beyond her wildest dreams.

6. Kiki has a problem. Every full moon, she hopes and prays things will change--that she'll be healthy, normal, and finally happy. But every month, to her horror, she stays human. Tired of being left out of the pack, Kiki decides to integrate into normal society. But can a girl used to identifying potential mates by smell handle clubbing and college?

Original Version

Dear Editor/Agent,

John Faustus takes the deal. He can live but in return he will be host to a psychic entity. The entity gives him women, wealth, and power, but it it will control him, will change his memories and even change him physically. By day he is an entrepreneur hunting business deals. At night he tears the flesh of those he hunts. John Faustus has become a werewolf. [A rich, powerful, oversexed werewolf. It was worth it.]

For a while he excuses his actions, abetted by the werewolf's changes to his memories. But as parasite and host learn about each other, they increasingly come to oppose one another. John defies the werewolf, [I thought John was the werewolf. (See final sentence of previous paragraph.)] though he suffers for it. John also forms a bond with another werewolf who seems to be a salvation for him. But Vali drives her away, pregnant with John's child. [Vali? Who's Vali?] John continues to gain power but is universally distrusted. [You gotta expect a little distrust when you spend your nights tearing flesh.]

The war goes to a new level. [War?] John enters the werewolf's [Which werewolf?] otherworld of an endless black sea. The corpses of all those Vali [You keep mentioning that name.] has killed through a centuries float in formation as earth gathers and shifts like clouds around them. Here John learns more about the werewolf, and knows he must stop Vali, the original werewolf.

John Faustus ties up loose ends in this world [He makes out a will, puts his house on the market and pays off his credit cards. Do we really need to know that?] before reentering the otherworld for a final confrontation with the werewolf [Which werewolf?] which one of them, perhaps neither of them, can survive.

Werewolf is a 75,000 word dark fantasy. My previous works include seven books. [If these are published, give details. (Also, why don't you have an agent writing your query letters?) If they're unpublished, they aren't worth mentioning.] I enclose synopsis plus sample. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely


Referring to the psychic entity/parasite as the werewolf is confusing. You've already got John, who has become a werewolf, and Vali, the original werewolf, and the pregnant werewolf. If the psychic entity were actually a werewolf, it wouldn't need Faustus. It would just tear flesh.

Do Vali and the pregnant werewolf also have psychic entities in them?

How can Faustus hope to win a confrontation on a world that's an endless black sea? You can do the dog paddle only so long.

Are your werewolves full mooners, or nightlies? If Vali's been killing nightly for centuries, he's got over 100,000 corpses floating in formation in a sea. You have to admire the patience he must have to keep that going.

Cartoon 147

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Beginning 519

“Lydia is a lucky girl, and a very pretty one too. The little marks on her face will be gone in a couple of months. If she continues her physical therapy, both her eyes will appear and move almost identically by the time school starts.”

Second Lieutenant Brett Johnson spoke easily - the words were mostly true. The ‘little marks’ were in fact a network of ugly red scars, but they would heal – the bacteria used to infect them had been treated quickly. Brett was the neurosurgeon who had hooked up her optic nerves to her artificial eye.

“Thank you doctor. I really appreciate the wonderful job you did.”

Brett kept his face solemn with an effort. He remembered the grey haired grandmother’s dismay at the youth of the surgeon who would be operating on her new ward. The Unificationists had attacked a rural town hundreds of miles from anything of military value – or any major hospital. It had been faster to send a Space Force emergency landing shuttle from Brett’s ship the Defender than try and divert resources from elsewhere on the planet Roundhouse.

Brett shook the woman's hand. "This is state of the art technology, Ma'am. Electromagnetic focusing, gps positioning, superior night vision, laser targeting, and it's a perfect match for--"

"Uh, laser targeting, doctor?"

"Yes ma'am. Lydia could take out a whole platoon in the, heh, blink of an eye."

"Doctor, I--"

"By the way, does Lydia have a boyfriend?"


"Better tell him he doesn't want to make her cry. This thing has a hair trigger; don't want any accidents."

Brett grinned at Lydia and winked. Lydia winked back. The lights went out.

Opening: David Weisman.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 146

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cartoon 145

Caption: R. Watson

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Beginning 518

Sarah smiled to herself; the song over the loudspeaker was an amazingly cheesy movie theme. She looked over the sales rack, but nothing was standing out. Leaning down to pick up her bags, she made eye contact with a young man looking at men's shoes nearby. He was tall, deeply tan with blonde hair and green eyes. He was also the best looking guy she had ever seen. He smiled at her, then looked toward the speakers.

"Great music, huh?" he said, flashing that gorgeous smile again.

Sarah smiled, blushing. She was about to reply, when suddenly her face went wide with terror. Dropping her bags, she turned and sprinted for the exit.

The young man swore softly, pulling out a cell. "She's on her way out." He picked up her bags and calmly walked out in the same direction.

"So . . . " Martin hit pause on the video player. "What did Graham do wrong?"

The young men and women shuffled uneasily in their seats, trying not to catch Martin's eye.


Someone coughed. Taking a deep breath, Sue raised her hand and said, "He should have engaged her in polite conversation before letting her see the Watchtower magazine?"

"Exactly!" Martin scanned the room. "Luckily," he went on, "Daniel was stationed outside with a copy of Awake!" He reached for the play button.

Opening: Kiersten.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 144

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Beginning 517

It’s a minute past 18:25:43 — a thousand years and a minute since I first sat down here.

The mark hasn’t shown up yet. But he will.

alisononderson8109 wipes a cloth over my visual hub and tops up the glass on the table.

Soon, the lights will go out and we will sit together in the silence, pretending to be still. Standby and Red Alert.

And in the morning, the same unrecognisable faces will gather; a procession of the beguiled witless, shimmering through centrics of glass.

Will it move today? Will it speak?

I think not.

alisonanderson8109 teleports outside and titivates the souvenirs. I have keyrings, holo-buddies and ceremnemonic upgrades — all of them half-cocked nonsense. Tales spun of nothing in vacuums.

So. The lights dim again. All register of the tangible, now this. Each buzzing electron sapped of glow, yet still spinning, evident.

They are shrill, idiotic and wrong. I process their chatter because I find I must. Their fixed breath of hush and their swarm. It quiets the incessant hum. In the dark, this incessant hum.

At precisely 18:25:44 on ninthyear 0603-2069 the unthinkable happens.

It Moves.

alisonanderson8109 appears onstage as a million holo-buddies and ceramic bone-burners sparkle in the darkness. She tosses keyrings as she weaves among the cables and ports, reanimating the off-world bio-centric glass and carbons. She is tangible nonsense to the D degree{scion#@%}. The incessant hum surges in an audial “wave” and through my visual hub I spot the mark, but I am pretending not to so I watch the activity on stage.

alisonanderson8109 teleports to my side and in the humming, buzzing, electron-sapped darkness, the reverb from the disturbance causes the mega-watt subwoofers to short-circuit the flashing Red Alert signs at every exit as the amplified voice of legends spun from vacuum greets the hushed swarm.

It Speaks.

It is part carbonfiber/glassfission borg and the subject/object of a million myths and a thousand years and two minutes of anticipation. I am beside myself with the conflict between a millennium of evolutionary progress turning on the dime of my precise execution of the designated mark and the need to devote every fiber of my being to the appreciation of the phenomenal re-animation and canorous performance of Mick Jagger as he swaggers into the spotlight and with a practiced lilt says, “Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, Are You Ready to Rock and Roll?”

Opening: WO.....Continuation: ME

Cartoon 143

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Synopsis 11

Guess the Plot

The Syntax of Things

1. Zila sees words instead of hearing them, forcing her to understand the world as a pile of objects. Jon, a deaf-mute, is the only one who understands her. Can they find love while solving the murder of Dr. Startop?

2. Adair dumped Neil years ago in Paris. Now Neil has died and Adair flies home to attend his funeral. But when she runs into Alan they decide to skip the service and fly to Paris. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or just . . . The Syntax of Things?

3. The sequel to The Parameters of Crap and The Language of Stuff follows Rudolph Wilmont, linguist to the stars as he plunges into the Hollywood spotlight. A high-powered publicist calls Rudy in to strengthen Polly Warner's interview skills before her movie's promotional tour. Rudy has his hands full when he realizes his client is a beautiful dyslexic mute.

4. In the pyoneer colony on the world Neptyne, the Puritans have once agayn taken control. They have placed a punityve tax on all vyces, including the syn of mammon, or excessyve acquisityon of thyngs. One young boy fyghts to retain hys rock collection as hys fryghtened mother tryes to toss it away before they are hyt wyth a tax so hygh they could starve if they had to pay it.

5. David is 45 and autistic. One day while his helper Jenny watches him, she realizes he sees objects as words that need to be combined to be understood. Can Jenny help him learn to speak before he kills someone? Also, a blind Chinese girl.

6. When Paulo discovers a parasitic lobster attached to his spine, he visits grammarian Lloyd Pflatzberg, who assists in preparing Paulo for a visit to spine surgeon Ken Thesko, and the language barrier he's sure to encounter.

Original Version

Adair Sullivan has done the impossible: she has escaped her past. At age 23, she has moved away, found a steady job, and is pursuing the normal, settled-down life she has yearned for since childhood. One afternoon, she comes home to find a letter waiting from Johnson City, her tiny Texas hometown. Neil O'Conor, her once-best friend, once-lover, the very reason she has been trying to escape, has died, and Adair is to come back for the funeral. [That makes it sound like she's been ordered to go back.] [I can't say I knew Neil that well, but based on the rumors, if all his ex-lovers have been ordered back for his funeral, they're going to need to hold it in a football stadium.] In a state of shock, she flies back to her hometown. Struggling with her own emotions as well as the painful circumstances that tore her from her old community, Adair reaches Johnson City, where she has no place to stay but with Neil's family: his parents, his sister Edie, and, two surprising, unwelcome additions: Neil's fiancée and son.

[Fiancée: Hi, I was Neil's fiancée, and this is our son.

Adair: You two are unwelcome here.]

Adair, feeling an abyss between herself and the others, goes to the funeral alone and wonders at the hypocrisy of the very unconventional Neil having a normal Baptist service. [Yes, where does he get off?] She sees an old friend, Alan, there and in homage to Neil they skip the service to revisit a landmark of their combined pasts. [The Motel 6 where they had a night of passion while Neil was visiting his dying Aunt Jo.] Their judgment distorted by grief, they decide to go to Paris, mirroring a trip they all took together years ago. They depart the next morning, after Adair visits Neil's room for the last time, collecting memories and discovering in his desk a sealed letter addressed to her. It is forgotten in her rush to leave before anyone catches her prying. [This makes it sound like she forgot to take it with her.]

When they arrive in Paris, Adair is glad to be back in the element of her youth. But along with the happy memories comes a deluge of painful ones and in a series of flashbacks and dreams she remembers, finally, the events that tore her and Neil apart. She is overcome with a sense of dread that, by leaving Neil as she did in Paris years ago, she left everything that was good in her life. Alan finds her sitting in a gutter alone and takes her back to their hotel room. [Paris is a pretty big place in which to just happen to run into the only person in the city you know. Was Alan searching all the gutters for Adair?] They talk; it is cathartic for both. Adair remembers the letter she took from Neil's room; she holds it reverently, nearly opens it, thinking it could somehow hold the answers she is looking for. But, in a final act of letting go, she throws the letter into the fire, and as she does, [she recalls that he never paid back that fifty thousand dollars he owed her. Uh oh. As the flames leap higher she realizes that now it's gonna be a real long time before] she begins to heal.


In the first sentence Adair has escaped her past. In the last sentence she finally begins to heal. I would think escaping her past implies that she had at least begun to heal.

I'm no expert on the protocol when informing a person of the death of someone whose funeral she might wish to attend, but when the someone is far enough away that she would need to book a flight, sending a letter instead of phoning seems unnecessarily time consuming.

Also, is Adair aware of the existence of the fiancée and son? If so, it shouldn't be so unexpected that they're with Neil's parents. If not, I'm surprised the person who wrote to inform her Neil died didn't inform her he had a kid and was engaged.

If Johnson City is her hometown, how is it Paris returns her to the element of her youth? How old was she in her youth?

Although your title doesn't matter, since they'll change it, it wouldn't hurt to come up with one that has at least an infinitesimal chance of being used. You don't want them rejecting the book without reading the query just because they fear it's as boring as the title.

Cartoon 142

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cartoon 141

Caption: R. Lyle Wolfe

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Beginning 516

The melancholy promise of a storm hung over Frederica's head as she trudged uphill to her house. Two weeks ago it was 80 degrees, and now we have the sludge at the bottom of a dish drain for a sky. She shook her head in disgust but she was, after all, reconciled by now to the fact SoCal always had a few false starts before it could actually commit itself to a season. Fickle, indecisive, wishy washy SoCal weather. Tonight on the news they'd be interviewing a pack of indignant tourists from the rest of the States who'd believed the Hollywood hype of SoCal's perpetual sunshine and come a runnin' for their spring break.

Freddy skirted a puddle to avoid the agony of walking home in soggy Converses. Her headphone was sliding out. She tucked it into the shell of her ear more securely.

The news was already on when Frederica plopped onto her sofa with a bottle of Coors and a bag of corn chips.

"…and I’m here with Scott Madsen, a Senior at Duke, who just arrived for Spring Break. Scott, you chose SoCal after consulting a travel agent. How much did your agent tell you about Callidia Beach?”


“I mean, did they warn you about our lousy, unpredictable weather? Or the fact that you can’t smoke in any of our over-priced, watered-down bars? Were you warned about the ocean rip-tides, or the shark attacks?”


“Perhaps they mentioned that the only girls in town during spring are from out of town, and they whore around as much as the guys, and the locals call this Chlamydia Beach?”

“Well, I’m here with my girl--”

“Keep an eye on her, Scott. Chances are she’ll put out for the local news producer; they all do. This is Frederica Gillard for News 12 at Chlamydia Beach.”

Frederica sighed, reached for the newspaper, and turned to the help wanted ads.

Opening: Moth.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 140

Caption: a.k.a. Brady

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Beginning 515

Papa adored Mama, and normally he gave her whatever she desired. Luckily, Mama didn't ask for much, but when she did, he made it happen. He was resisting this time, however. They'd been arguing, discussing as Mama said, since the far rider stopped by with a message three weeks before.

That's when her mother embarked on a frantic mission to make Gentyl's skin velvet soft, with no blemish or scratch to mar it. A farmer's daughter with perfect skin? If she hadn't been the object of this unwanted attention, it would have been laughable.

Gentyl glanced up from the smoky gray kitten, purring loudly in her arms. She continued to stroke the silky fur and grabbed at a tiny paw from time to time as he batted at the braid draped across her shoulder. Kittens were almost the only animals allowed to trespass in her mother's immaculate herb garden and even they were frequently shooed away if they started chewing on the plants. Yet, there was Papa, with his large farmer boots, standing in the middle of a lush green mass, and Mama too busy arguing to notice the molested mint.

Does this story make you want to plow a few furrows?

Join today. Only $39.95 a month. We've got all the probing plants and lecherous leaves you could ever want. Bachelor's Button. Pussy ears. Bearded Tongue. Butterfly Bush. All with full galleries and green thumbnails.

Make your garden grow, baby. It's planting season.

Opening: Julie Weathers.....Continuation: Pacatrue

Success Story

EE Blog Kudos
I have my first professional fiction sale, "Copper Boss," at Flash Fiction Online/ in the current issue. I got the idea while doing the recent EE Blog hard-boiled detective exercise (Detective story 9). The writing exercise post and "Copper Boss" both have elements of fembot attractiveness. That's the theme of "Copper Boss." I frequently get new ideas while doing the exercises, so it is definitely worthwhile. Thanks, EE.

Bill Highsmith

Cartoon 139

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Face-Lift 534

Guess the Plot

One Last Hit

1. After entering a contest to guess when a famous blog will reach one million hits, wannabe author Clyde Parquet becomes obsessed with logging into the site in a desperate attempt to win. His family intervenes, to save him from irreversible geekness, but can they convince Clyde to stop before it's too late? For a blog addict, is there ever . . . One Last Hit?

2. He had missed dinner. He'd bummed quarters from every kid in the place. His hands were a mass of blisters. But after 999 rounds of Whack-a-Mole Matthew knew he was ready for... One Last hit.

3. When Orrie liquidates all of their belongings and heads for the Las Vegas blackjack tables, his wife follows him, figuring it's the best place to divorce him. When she finds Orrie has tripled their money in less than an hour, and has put everything on one hand, ca she talk him out of tking . . . One Last Hit?

4. Benny Band, Yankee slugger, has been accused of cheating with steroids. He didn't care before, but now that his mother is dying and his wife is leaving with their kids, he swears he'll quit. All he wants is . . . One Last Hit.

5. Mafia hitman Jed Undertaker wants nothing more than to retire peacefully after thirty years, move to Mexico, and forget about his past. But not so fast--his boss, Fat Man, wants him for . . . One Last Hit.

6. One-hit-wonder Charlie Maxx has been steadily fading into obscurity when he happens into a Santa Fe diner. A mysterious stranger offers Charlie a sure winner in return for his soul. Hilarity ensues when Charlie trades eternal life for . . . One Last Hit.

Original Version

Dear Malo Redactor:

As a hitman for more than thirty years for the Mafia in Chicago, Jed Undertaker is tired and numb. He's survived a lonely, danger-filled life and now wants nothing more than to retire peacefully to Mexico, where he aims to forget his murderous past and (hopefully) avoid the U.S. authorities.

But his boss, Fat Man, [That's his name? Listen, if your last name is Man, and you name your kid Fat, you're pretty much consigning him to a lifetime of eating donuts.] needs Jed for one last hit. [He wants the manager of the next-door donut shop killed.] There's a loose-lipped preacher with a wicked heroin habit, and he isn't such a good customer anymore. [If you're a preacher with a heroin habit, and you want to keep your job, I don't recommend loose lips. Sermon:

...and so, brothers and sisters, last night I was hanging out and I thought I'd take the edge off with a massive dose of scag. I went to my junk drawer for the dust. Empty. Called my dealer, told him I needed some horse, fast. He sent over some China White, and charged me through the nose. So, if you could see your way to dropping an extra Jackson in the collection plate this morning I'd appreciate it. Moving on, last night God came to me in a vision . . . ]

Plus, he has something Fat Man wants—a twelve-year old kid. The orders to are to kill him and bring back the kid, Gabriel.

Not only does Jed not know what Fat Man wants with the boy, he doesn't know that the hit is intended for him. [When you retire from a job as Mafia hitman, and they tell you they need you for one last hit, it's always intended for you.] When he gets to the church, he finds two men waiting for him and the preacher dead. He survives the hit and takes Gabriel. [Why take Gabriel?] But soon he finds the preacher's ghost is following him, intent on killing both him and the kid.

As old cronies, the ghost of a preacher, and cops chase Jed and Gabriel through the underworld of Chicago, they form a bond that Jed at first resists. But as the danger deepens, he realizes there is no one else he can trust. As he begins to uncover what Fat Man and the preacher want with Gabriel, he sees that he and Gabriel are not just running for their lives, but that they are at the center of a battle that will either save humanity—or end it.

One Last Hit is a fantasy graphic novel approximately 200 pages in length. It is my first book. I am enclosing the first five pages of manuscript and would be happy to send more upon request. Art samples can be found at [web address]. [So the 200 pages don't include art samples? Is this a novel with illustrations, or is it in comic book format? I would think the artwork is at least as important as the text in making a sale, and should be included. Not that I'm an expert, just seems like common sense.]

Thank you!


If Gabriel is so important to Fat Man, why didn't Fat Man have the guys who killed the preacher bring him Gabriel first and then go back to kill Undertaker?

We have a standard mob plot going until the end of the third paragraph, when we discover that ghosts exist, and one paragraph later all of humanity is on the line. The stakes seem to escalate awfully fast; we might want you to hint at why. Or prepare us with a hook-y opening sentence, something like, Hitman Jed Undertaker has been hired for one last job, but little does he know his actions will determine the fate of the universe.

You don't need "as" at the start of the first sentence. Deleting it works, or you could start:

Jed Undertaker is tired and numb. A Mafia hitman for more than thirty years, he's survived a lonely, danger-filled life and . . .

Book Trailer

I'll be creating a book trailer for a book titled Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. The auction winner got it as a gift for the author of the book. Here's a brief synopsis:

Protagonist Claire Doolittle--a 39-year old mother of five and caretaker of a menagerie that includes a three-legged mutt named Tripod and a verbose parrot who burps exactly like Claire’s husband--has had it with her desiccated sex life and tapped-out existence. Married to the still-handsome architect Jack, she finally realizes that her one-time Adonis has morphed into the new-millennium version of Ward Cleaver, father of The Beaver and all around mundane middle-aged man. And the last person in the world Claire ever imagined having to sleep with on a regular basis is a man whose sex appeal more closely resembles that of George Washington than George Clooney. Claire is in for a life crisis as she realizes that in her quest to suppress her lack of desire for her drab-yet-stern disciplinarian of a husband she has also completely suppressed her yearning for much of anything. Or anyone. And when she receives an email from her almost fiancÈ Todd Sterodnik--who dumped her years earlier for a blond bimbo named Vanna Black--making nice and trying to weave himself back into her psyche, Claire learns that sometimes you have to delve into your past to determine your future.

Claire’s determination to join Jack on a Miami business trip to try to revive their stale relationship is thwarted by her less-than-enthusiastic spouse, who, she discovers, will be accompanied by his much younger and far more nubile colleague Julia Juilliard, whom Claire dubs “the home-wrecking homebuilder”. So Claire sets off alone on a spy mission to Miami, intent on learning the true nature of Jack’s designs and to maybe indulge in some long-needed R&R. All bets are off when Todd shows up to try to sweep Claire off of her world-weary feet, and Claire has to straddle the fine line between unwanted responsibility and unfulfilled desire.
When Claire finds her husband in a suspicious embrace with his colleague, Claire accosts him. An argument ensues and Jack, whose father died at 47 from a heart attack, experiences chest pain. Claire is jarred to her senses with the fear that she might lose her husband, and rallies into action. Jack is rushed to the hospital, where they learn that Jack had merely suffered an anxiety attack. For the rest of the weekend in Miami, Claire and Jack finally take the time to do what they hadn’t done in years: discuss their lives, their hopes and dreams, about how they became so disconnected, and how they can try to rekindle interest in one another. Claire and Jack end many hours of tears and recrimination by making love for the first time in ages minus many layers of animosity. Later Jack, who’s been training for a marathon, encourages Claire to join him on a run, and Claire realizes how therapeutic taking time for herself, even just running, can be. As the weekend comes to a close, Claire and Jack have begun to reconcile their resentments and regrets, and are committed to rebuilding their once-solid foundation.

They arrive home to find that Jack’s mother Candy, who watched the kids, has organized a regimented system to help Claire gain control of her out of control life. Over the next few months, everyone in the family assumes responsibilities for righting the imbalances in their lives. Claire and Jack have found a common bond in running; Jack has persuaded Claire to train for the marathon with him. The kids begin to help out around the house, and life starts to feel the way it should have all along for Claire. Claire learns in an e-mail from Todd that he’s been able to reunite with his son; she receives a thank-you e-mail from his son for her role in their reunion. Another e-mail from Todd reveals that his wife is expecting a baby, something that he once eschewed but now embraces. Claire and Jack run the marathon together, Jack finishes first and turns back to help Claire with the last desperate half-mile.

The next night, after best friend Kat’s wedding, an enfeebled Claire and Jack return to their hotel, tired but happy, whereupon Claire cagily proposes that she and Jack engage in a little elevator sex. When she and Jack furtively make love on the elevator, Claire is happily fantasizing not about Ward Cleaver, but about her own Eddie Haskell, the bad boy she long ago chose to spend the rest of her life with.

Excerpts and other info are available if you google the title. Suggestions for what to include in an amusing trailer are being taken.

Cartoon 138

Caption: freddie

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Beginning 514

The old man grasped his staff with a withering hand, a hand that had an unnatural, claw-like quality to it. His cracked mouth twisted upwards in a queer smirk.

“It is time,” he rasped, his voice both hideous and luring. He’d waited so long for this. At last, at last he’d have the key, the key to his coveted freedom. In the dark chamber the man’s eyes gleamed a hypnotic, steel blue, and they flickered and glinted as the room vibrated with his hissing laughter.


Ceah woke with a start, beads of sweat shining on her forehead. Her breath came out in harsh pants, her chest heaving with the terror of something past. She didn’t know why she woke. It could have been a dream, except she didn’t remember anything at all. It might have just been some sound outside. She slipped out of bed with the intention of getting a drink. She was almost to the door when something caught her eye—

The mirror.


Kristin Nelson, literary agent extraordinaire, popped out of bed clutching at the sheets with white knuckles. Slowly her breathing calmed, her muscles relaxed. But it would be a long time before she shook off this nightmare. After all, she'd blogged about this how many times?! Surely, surely none of her requested partials for tomorrow would start with a dream sequence.

Opening: Ray.....Continuation: Pacatrue

New Beginning 513

The Chandler pulp and paper mill served up its usual sulphuric stink with extra sauce on the day JC Bernard decided to kidnap his best friend Alphonse.

As he trudged to the end of the back lane, he took special care with his footing in half-melted chunks of dirty ice. He skirted a snow bank and stared out at Chaleur Bay. When he glimpsed a cavorting pair of humpbacks a few kilometres out on the steel grey water, he grinned, feeling the cold air on his bare gums.

His smile turned to a grimace when a sharp pain invaded his hip, shooting down his leg. He leaned on his cane and attempted to shake out the bee-stings of age. everything hurt these days – he was lucky to get out of bed, much less hike a hundred yards behind his house.

Getting Alphie out of the nursing home wouldn't be easy either, but he figured he'd have no trouble talking the boys into helping. Not so long ago, they had no trouble rising at four in the morning for their yearly pilgrimage to Montreal to take in a Habs game. Would this be so different?

Probably. But when you were nearly dead, what did it matter? Better to go out like this than to gently whisper your last breath to an old germanic nurse who reeked of baby powder and dollar store soap. And this was sure to be easier than the time they broke Alphie out of prison. No armed guards.

JC rubbed at his aching hip and pushed himself on. By the time he reached the marina, the boys were there waiting for him, shivering from the cold, but with grins as wide as the bay. He nodded in greeting and shook their hands and prepared to lay the plan out to them. People wouldn’t be calling him a senile old fantasist after this. He’d go down in history as the man who sprang Al Capone, assisted by Quasimodo and Richard III.

Opening: Chumplet.....Continuation: Anon./Scott from Oregon/freddie

Cartoon 137

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We've topped the one-million hit mark. In a time when some web sites get that many hits in a day (sites like Google and YouTube and that may not seem like much, so let me put it in terms that you can grasp:

If we count each post and each comment trail as a page, there are about 4350 pages on the blog. Throw in the pages on the other EE blogs and lay them end to end and we have a mile of pages. Assuming one million minions have read everything here, we have a million miles of read pages. Measured in kilometers, that's enough to reach the Andromeda Galaxy.

At our current pace we'll reach a billion hits in 2000 years. I don't think I'll last that long, so we have to increase the pace. If each of the thousand people who come here daily would convince 1000 other people to come here daily, we'd get a million visits a day, and a billion in three years. Three years sounds much more do-able than 2000 years. Let us go forth and multiply.

By the way, was the fifth joke porn site I made up before I finally got one that didn't actually exist.

Caption: R. Lyle Wolfe

Cartoon 136

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Face-Lift 533

Guess the Plot

The Emancipation of Bartholomew Benson

1. Now that Bartholomew had finally won his case, he was an emancipated minor. First thing on his to do list: change that ridiculous name. Second thing: see if being named James Bond really would get him more girls.

2. Benjamin had a flawless reputation as a valet on lush antebellum Magnolia Manor. Yet a single terrible night reduces him to less than the status of the lowest field hand. Subjected to the severest abuses, Benjamin endures them without comment, protecting the secret he shares with delicate Missy Patience Benson.

3. Upon growing up to marry a feminist, Bartholomew trades in "Cubbins," for his wife's last name, "Benson." During the media circus, he finds himself vowing to overthrow the King and set up a new People's Republic of Didd. But Bartholomew's old friend the King is calling on his loyalty. Can he break free of his wife's influence before the country is bathed in blood?

4. In the mid-1950’s, conservative Georgia politician Bartholomew Benson wakes up in the body of a mule – the lone work-animal on a 40-acre farm owned by a family of poor black sharecroppers. While Benson learns the values of a simple life of hard work, the mule (in the senator’s body) surprises his constituents with his newfound competence.

5. A midwestern farmer can't break free of his feuding neighbors and meddlesome ex-wife--until the government recruits him to save mankind from its newest and worst enemy, computer-spawned sentient artificial intelligences.

6. A 17th-century ghost is chained and forced to haunt various personages. One day he meets a free spirit who helps him to escape his chains and move on to hauntings of his own. Also, an invisible tower.

Original Version

Dear [Agent],

"My name is Bartholomew Benson, and I just killed twenty-one people." [But enough about me; let's talk about my middle-grade novel, which I'm hoping you'll represent.]

Clearly, Mr. Benson is a man with a problem.

At first pass, Bart seems like a normal guy. He's a farmer in the year 2017, [He seems like a normal guy with the ability to travel into the future.] trying to make ends meet in his small Midwestern American town. He struggles with mundane problems like a stormy marriage, feuding neighbors, [where to dispose of 21 corpses,] and a meddlesome ex-wife [who won't let him store the corpses in the guest room, even though they haven't had a guest in three years].

But Bart is far from normal. He's an ex-soldier who served extensively in the Middle East, and after military service, he was recruited for a much more difficult task: hunting humanity's worst enemy. [The Borg.] [If they ever recruit me to hunt the Borg, they're gonna have to come up with a better cover than barely making ends meet on a farm, with a bad marriage. I'm gonna want big money, a fabulous crib, and Penelope Cruz.

Recruiter: We need you to hunt the Borg.

Evil Editor: What's in it for me?

Recruiter: A small plot of land in Iowa and a mule.

Evil Editor: Enjoy your assimilation, pal.]

Bart has been entrusted with some very dark secrets. He knows about the world's first fully functioning quantum computer. He knows that this new quantum environment spawned life: sentient artificial intelligences. They've stayed quiet so far, hiding in the deep crevices of the technological jungle, so virtually no one even knows they exist. But Bart knows that, unless they're stopped, these new AIs will inevitably take control. Of everything. [I often feel there's a sentient artificial intelligence residing in my computer, mocking me, but I usually reboot rather than recruit some ex-marines. Perhaps when I upgrade to a better computer I'll put this one out in a field somewhere and heave a grenade at it, just for the satisfaction.]

That's something that he's not going to let happen.

The Emancipation of Bartholomew Benson is a 50,000-word novel that tells Bart's story through a series of journal entries,

[February 23.

Tried to post a lengthy blog entry and Blogger ate the whole thing. Then when I tried to write it again I got that picture of an hourglass on my screen, which wouldn't go away so I had to unplug everything. I got out my M-16 and blasted the monitor, even though the monitor wasn't the problem, because the monitor was the only part still under warranty. I'll tell them it exploded.]


[April 5.

I'm working at my computer station and suddenly I was back in Iraq and my computer was an insurgent so I grabbed my M-16 and blasted the printer because it's the only component I don't need to view porn.]

and first-person narration. The story is character-driven, focusing on Bart's ever-increasing difficulties of maintaining a normal life [and bringing in the meager barley crop], all while handling the daunting responsibility of saving mankind.

I currently reside in Lawrence, KS, where I teach IT in the KU Business School. This is my first novel, and I'd really appreciate the opportunity to share more of the story with you.



What about the 21 people? Do they want mankind's future in the hands of the guy who killed them? If you open with that line, you might give a hint of who they were and why Bart killed them.

I don't like following with Clearly, Mr. Benson is a man with a problem. I can't tell if that problem is mental, like he's an insane serial killer, or if it's escaping the cops, or getting rid of the bodies. Apparently it's none of the above. The only problems actually mentioned are his mundane farm/wife/neighbor problems and the crevice creatures, but you haven't connected those problems to the 21 people.

You might want to mention why this ex-soldier is qualified to deal with this situation.

If you'd refer to him as Bartholomew, I wouldn't keep thinking of him as Bart Simpson. It's hard to have hope for mankind's future when it's in the hands of Bart Simpson.

Why is it inevitable that the AIs will take over? So far they've done nothing. Maybe they like it in the deep crevices. Or maybe they'd like to be friends of mankind, like the dolphins (except the ones we eat).