Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bad Analogies, Final Batch

He was on her like a hobo on a ham sandwich. --Robin Jr.

She looked like a run-on sentence type of girl, like someone who never knew that even compound sentences lose their effect when used too often, and that you really can use too many commas, because even if you have discovered the glory of the semi-colon, people can only focus on one sentence for so long before losing interest; it's too much to ask for them to keep up with the stream of thoughts, and that was exactly the kind of thing you expected when she opened her mouth: it would be exhausting, and you would be left unsure of what she had even said, or how she managed to say it all in a single breath. --Kiersten

She felt used and forgotten, like the last sliver of soap that falls into the corner of the shower, except she didn't have someone else's pubes stuck to her, at least not at the moment. --blogless

Cut the end off a bean burrito, and then squeeze the middle really hard so the beans spurt out the open end, and you'll have an idea what it was like when Max Lugar had the runs. --EE

My knowledge of distinctions between analogies, metaphors and similes is comparable to my wife’s understanding of north, south, east and west. --luke

The man guarding the door looked like an ox — only with two legs rather than four, considerably less hair, a broadly vertical posture, feet and hands instead of hooves, just the one stomach, eyes that looked broadly forwards, no tail, no hope of producing offspring via sexual encounters with a female ox, no experience of pulling carts or farmyard machinery through the mud with ropes yoked to his back and a culinary repertoire embracing a more diverse range of subsistence foods than grass, dried protein pellets and the occasional turd consumed in error. --Whirl

The bird flew across the sky, occasionally diving like a plane full of people stuck in turbulence. --Shell I

Understanding women is like opening a can of lima bean soup; you're not sure you want to. --Bill H.

He was lost, like an organ grinder's monkey whose organ grinder is passed out drunk in the gutter. --stick and move

Like the pang in the belly that tells you that the cancer has recurred; like the dagger in your best friend’s hand as he approaches you in the Forum; like the kiss of betrayal—that’s what it’s like to see your New Beginning on Evil Editor’s blog. --tal

Bad Analogies, Batch 4

After she kissed him, she smiled and gazed deeply into his eyes like she was looking for his hippocampus. --blogless

Life is short, nasty and often bloody, like a hard-core wrestling midget. --D Jason Cooper

The hero of the story turned from a tasty hunky hero into a mere slip of the tongue, a hackneyed turn of phrase, a horny goof pointing what once was his steely rod throbbing with power and now was visualized as spasmodic vulgarity and faltering vigor. For indeed, even as anti-hero he lacked forward drift, purposeful concomitant and actionable thought as much as mud flung into the sky only just knows where it is to land and not what will be the bull's eye smackdown. --Dave F.

He stomped down the street, like a ballerina with a broken leg. --Shell I

Understanding women is like opening a can of French onion soup; c'est la vie. --Bill H.

Suzie was blind as a bat, but compensated for it by smelling like a dog. --Whirl

He felt queasy but somehow triumphant, like a zombie that had just eaten his own brain and found that it disagreed with him. --tal

Like a chain-reaction accident on the freeway spread across multiple lanes in its path of destruction, so hideously garish was her make-up, from the frosted pink lips to the rainbow-hued eyes, that I could not look away. --Meri

Her legs quivered like the mucousy blobs of jellyfish that sometimes washed up on the beach, only not quite that disgusting. Except she had spider veins, and they didn't. So maybe quite that disgusting. --Kiersten

Belcher's name brought forth a chuckle no matter how often he was introduced, like a joke about Uranus. --EE

Bad Analogies, Batch 3

He kissed her, expecting her lips to suck at his own like a vacuum cleaner, but when they enveloped his entire torso, and her invading tongue licked around inside him till the capillaries in his toes swelled with the squelch of slugs pumped full of jelly, he knew he should have left it till they reached the decompression chamber. --Whirl

The girl was young and pretty, the way her nanna was once young and pretty all those years ago during the war and all the soldiers who visited thought she was young and pretty and asked her to marry them but she didn't want to get married when she was so young and pretty so she turned them all down until she met the girl's grandfather and she married him. --Shell I

Understanding women is like opening a can of soup; contents should be heated and stirred. --Bill H.

She was alone and abandoned, like a meerkat that had gotten on an interurban bus by mistake and found itself in Minneapolis. --tal

As Mary Sue landed on her butt, she thought that the dance floor was slicker than the greased piglet at the country fair and much less comfortable. --Dave F.

Eating with chopsticks is like writing with your left hand . . . unless you're left-handed. --EE

His attitudes were as passé as text messaging will probably be some day when everybody carries around little two-way audio/video devices, maybe wearing them on their wrists, sort of like Dick Tracy, if anybody still remembers him. --Paul Penna

Her boyfriend was about as useful as a crocheted tractor. --Robin Jr.

His hands roamed the area between her breasts and thighs with the stealthy diligence of a moonshiner in the woods on his way to the still. --Meri

The receptionist was useless and irritating, like a handful of iron filings in your underwear. --blogless

Bad Analogies, Batch 2

He had tried to act more sophisticated than he was, like a New Yorker (sic) pretending to be a Buffalonian (sic). --D Jason Cooper

Henry Higgins once said "oozing charm from every pore, he oiled his way across the floor," but that was too good for the mayoral candidate. More apt was "buzzwords squealing from every orifice like zits on a juvenescent schnozola, the mayor drooled pre-arrogant jingo and oppo-research epithets." --Dave F.

What are moles like? Like a wind in the trees that softly whispers your name; like the sweet scent of a wood fire on a frosty night; like the trembling touch of a lover’s hand on your cheek—that’s what moles are like. Or not. --tal

Understanding women are like a can of Navy bean soup; the contents are comfort food. --Bill H.

Her teeth were like planks on a yellow fence, and her eyes blinked curiously, like a dairy cow confronted with a singularly difficult question: to eat or not to eat. --stick and move

The man was strong, like a baby isn't. --Shell I

He seemed oddly distracted, like a guy watching a play and knowing John Wilkes Booth is sitting right behind him. --EE

Gingerly, the redhead slipped off her knickers. --Whirl

Harold was as self-effacing as some guy you just kicked in the nuts. --Paul Penna

His odd head looked like a puckered up swim cap left out in the sun. --Robin

So disproportionate in size was her butt to the rest of her body, it appeared as though she had stuffed an entire beanbag chair into the backside of her pants, one bean at a time. --Meri

Bad Analogies, Batch 1

His voice was soft and sad, like sitting in lemon spread. --D Jason Cooper

It was an unorthodox choice, like spending one’s life translating Caesar’s COMMENTARIES into Latin. --tal

Writing exercises are like work, except you get paid in yucks instead of bucks. --Bill H.

She was talented but frustrated, with all the pent up ambition of a one-armed juggler. --stick and move

When the doctor told him he had six months to live, Kenkleman felt like a guy who'd just gotten a rejection slip from God. --EE

Convincing the jury my client wasn't a murderer would be difficult, like trying to relieve your constipation while Gilbert Gottfried sings Ava Maria in the next stall. --blogless

The man let out a terrifying scream, like a thousand parrots trapped in a particle accelerator with Englebert Humperdinck. --Whirl

The water was cold, like coffee left on the bench for too long. --Shell I

There are levels of bullshit. The childlike extravagance of my dad can beat up your dad. The elementally defensive commentary that blue or green does not make her butt look fat. The enriching blather that each child is equally creative, athletic and maybe even gifted in all ways. The newsy equivalence of opposing views comparing apples, dates and road cakes with peaches, pearls and whale turds, after all, lists of three items are undeniably logical making them incomparable and unquestionably accurate. Then there is the glorification of a lie, a set of words so false that truth pales and trembles - its crotch wet with fear and its anus quivering in horror; Lies so barren of truth that real men feel pain upon hearing and even cowards draw back, enamored of the audaciousness, enthralled by the spunky, odiferous stench that fills the ears, offends the eyes. Bullshit so fertile and fecund that it makes bold men dumb and righteous men howl tears and words of anguish rarely heard. --Dave F.

The tone and volume of her voice dipped and looped back upon itself, like a butterfly in flight, briefly resting on a word or phrase before taking off again as she expounded her theories on ex-presidents. --Meri

As I looked back on it, I saw that our love affair had been like eating a three day-old taco: hot at the start, uncertain in the middle, then a ferocious mutual rejection, leaving a mess no one wanted to clean up. --Paul Penna

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Film Series

Those big-name Hollywood stars with their tired sequels and mile-wide plot holes just can't compare with the kind of entertainment you find every week in Evil Editor's Shorts.

Cartoon 203

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Writing Exercise

A couple people have mentioned doing another bad analogy exercise. Why not? We've done two before. You'll find some of the better ones in Novel Deviations 3, or you can check out all of them in the archives July 20-21 2007 and the last couple days of October, 2007.

I'm limiting you to 5 per person, but if one is all you care to submit, that's fine.

Deadline Sunday at 10 AM eastern.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Face-Lift 560

Guess the Plot

The Lights Were Off, The Lights Were On

1. In this frank look at what is mind and what is memory, Walter wakes in a hospital bed after months in a coma, missing part of his brain and thinking strange thoughts, like, I think, therefore I am better than dead and Who am I? and Will Baldeeny ever shut up?

2. Eric leaves the theater after sitting through the latest Spielberg blockbuster; yet, despite having blown nearly twenty bucks (including soda, popcorn and JuJubes), there is little to remember. Feeling cheated, Eric embarks on an epic quest to get his ninety minutes back.

3. When Janie Monroe returns to her home town after the death of her son and the collapse of her marriage, she craves peace and serenity. Within a week, she finds herself being terrorized by a former high school boyfriend - who always announces his arrival by urinating in the fuse box, setting the household lights a-flickering. Can Janie rig a way to electrocute her deranged stalker before her lights go off . . . forever?

4. Fledgling real estate agent Miki has never had much use for the theater - until a shrinking market forces her into a second job with the local semi-pro company. As if stage managing a classic French bedroom farce with thirty seven separate lighting cues wasn't hard enough, Miki must also deal with her growing feelings for the shy but cute dramaturge. Will Miki find true love on the boards?

5. At the Shadyvale School for the Visually Impaired, a disgruntled janitor's theft of all light bulbs from the student lounge goes largely unnoticed. But when an ancient bioluminescent creature colonizes the bulbless lamps, one brave student must save her classmates from the evil that lurks on the end tables.

6. The lights were off, the lights were on, the lights were off, the lights were on, and Brad Verde is having a real pain dealing with greenouts. So he decides to lead a band of rag-tag rebels as they generate consistent supplies of electricity and make the lights go on - permanently.

Original Version

Dear Editor,

Sometimes, simply waking up and getting out of bed can be the most heroic thing you’ve ever done. [Even if you've been kicked in the head while down, and beat into a coma?]

(Especially if you’ve been kicked in the head while down and beat into a coma).

“The Lights Were Off, The Lights Were On,” is a 70,000 word novel told within the brain-damaged thoughts of meek and geeky Walter, who wakens after three and a half months of complete and utter nothingness to find he has sixteen (mending) broken bones and brain matter that once quivered at the toe of a biker’s boot.

Atrophied, unable to get out of bed and missing a small piece of his brain, Walter busies himself by staring at a white and shiny ceiling, dreaming of a nurse he’s come to covet, practicing his dance moves beneath the sheets, all the while contemplating the profound ho-humness of just what makes Walter ‘Walter‘?

“If part of me was smeared upon the street, then what‘s left of who I am? [Shouldn't that be "of who I was"? He is who he is.]

I think, therefore I am better than dead, and that’s not all.”

What life there was and what life there is for Walter, might possibly predict what life there might be when Walter finally leaves the hospital and returns to his mundane life. His waking up and simply getting out of bed, he knows, will definitely help. [Isn't this where we came in?] [At least we finally have a paragraph with two sentences.]

(Being a hero won’t hurt his chances either).

In the meantime, Walter has time to ask himself a few questions--

Who was I? Who am I? Who will I be? [Does Nurse Chambers have an inny or an outy?] Will the mundane ever be the same when the brain has changed? Will reality ever stop being real when the mind denies it? [Would Baldeeny, in the next bed, notice if I discreetly flogged the dolphin?] Are the black spaces between conscious moments a prelude to what happens when the brain dies? Have you ever wanted to take your brain with you when you do finally die, thinking you just might actually need it? [Would it bother anyone if the first thing I did when I got out of this bed was smother Baldeeny with his pillow?] Will she or won’t she, and if she does, will it be just like I thought? Will Baldeeny shut his hairy pie hole and let me think my thoughts?

“The Lights Were Off, The Lights Were On” takes an unusually frank and goofy look at just what is mind and memory and explores why it's all reliant on matter. Like its protagonist, the novel makes up stuff while still facing up to hard realities that-- once accepted-- make life... well… what life is. And that’s all there is to it. [That's all there is to it? That's nothing.]

Thank you for your time and a moment of your mind,


Either we have a very unorthodox novel, and you're trying to get this across by submitting a very unorthodox query, or this novel has a plot and you're keeping it a secret. A guy awakens from a coma with no memory is the set-up. Does anything happen? Or is it 70,000 words of lying in bed thinking? If it's the latter, I think you need to come up with more interesting examples of his thoughts than a bunch of philosophical questions. The most interesting part is Baldeeny. Focus on him. A war between the narrator and Baldeeny as they both lie helpless in the same hospital room. Or is Baldeeny the guy's doctor? Either way, they need to go to war.

Now, if the guy does get out of the hospital, tell us some things that happen. Does he remember his life? Ask out the nurse? Where's the goofiness? Where's the beef? Where's the plot?

Cartoon 202

Caption: writtenwyrdd

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The First Ferris Wheel

Those who've read this month's book might be interested in this picture of the first Ferris Wheel. Those who haven't read it might be astounded to know that the first Ferris Wheel dwarfed the ones we see today. If you'll click the link below and use the zoom tool and the hand tool, you can get a closer look (in a lithograph of the wheel) and see that each car on the wheel is not a seat for a couple people, but a compartment similar in size to a bus. Each held 40 people seated and 20 standing. With 36 cars in all, it could hold 2000+ people.

New Beginning 545

He knew they’d made some kind of mistake as soon as he saw them walk into the dark tavern. They were chattering and smiling but that changed after the door swung closed behind them. It didn’t take long for their eyes to adjust, he thought with a snort. They didn’t know they were walking into a shit hole until it was too late. Sure enough, the two women went silent as they stopped abruptly and took in their surroundings. He picked up the glass of beer and chugged what was he left. The two women conferred. One pointed towards the empty bar.

They looked to be in their thirties but neither had lost their looks. MILFs, he thought. That’s what women like this were called outside that door and on the boardwalk. Each wore light-colored knee-length shorts and sleeveless blouses, casual enough for dinner at Hard Rock but nice enough not to look like a blemish at the casinos. The one-size-fits-all wardrobe didn’t work in here, though. Everybody else was wearing various combinations of denim and black. As they climbed atop bar stools, each clutching a pocketbook, he looked around and saw he wasn’t the only one watching.

The winos in the corner, drooling on their slime-encrusted shirts were watching too, and so were the bikers in their torn dirty muscle shirts and their tattoos of naked women and their beards that looked like used steel wool pads. Even the toothless guy who'd fallen asleep in his own puke roused and took a look before blacking out again.

What do these women think this is? he wondered. A piano bar? Far from it. It was the cruddiest dive in the cruddiest part of town, the most foul, nasty, repugnant sewage pit on the planet, a latrine where the most deviant, repulsive dregs of society gathered to mingle with their own vile kind. Women like these didn't last five minutes in here.

He walked over to the bar and sat next to them. "Come here often?" he asked.

The one in pink said, "We were told we might find Evil Editor here."

He stared at her a moment. So, he thought, they're in the right place after all.

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: Evil Editor/Shell I

Cartoon 201

Caption: Whirlochre

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cartoon 200!

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Face-Lift 559

Guess the Plot

Dewey's Robe

1. By day, he's a geeky library assistant whose sole excitement is to sneak looks at the old National Geographics. But by night, he dons his Robe Of Librarianship and becomes like unto a god. Can he correctly shelve the 300s before his boss deduces what's happening?

2. All Dewey got from his Grandpa's estate was a stupid black robe. It isn't even a magic robe . . . or is it? Also, a rapping vampire.

3. As a middle-aged accountant, Dewey Drake has come to accept the mind-numbing routine of his daily life. Wake up, stare at his newspaper over breakfast, go to work, come home, stare at the evening news over dinner. When he survives a car wreck that leaves him disfigured, his niece brings him a robe at the hospital, a robe that will change his life--and hers--forever.

4. Born with two penises, Dewey has his hands full during puberty. Then fate intervenes, in the form of beautiful conjoined twins Sabra and Sharra. Fame and fortune follow, but will there ever be true happiness behind . . . Dewey’s Robe?

5. Reading a diary given her by a man named Dewey Beechcraft, a woman realizes the diary's author is . . . herself, from a past life. Now Dewey's trying to tell her his robe is needed for the soul to leave the body. Of course, does anyone want their soul to leave their body badly enough to put on some old geezer's bathrobe?

6. When a young woman's Uncle Dewey, just before dying, tells her to find his robe and put it on, she has no idea she'll be transported to the mysterious land of Trumbodha, where she'll be hailed as the new queen. She's also unaware that the queen is expected to lead the army into battle the next day.

Original Version

Dear Mr. Ed (Editor),

In 'Dewey's Robe', a paranormal mystery about reincarnation and a woman's reluctant spiritual journey, the sins of the past are neither forgotten nor forgiven, and the desire for revenge transcends death.

Dewey Beechcraft is that favorite Uncle everyone wishes they had. He's also an enlightened soul and for thirty-four years, he's protected his niece, Louisa, from the entity that's trying to kill her. [Any entity that's been trying to kill someone for 34 years, and hasn't yet succeeded, is giving all entities a bad name.] [That sounded familiar. A search of the blog reveals that I use the same gag whenever I don't buy how long something takes (Click on chart to enlarge. If that doesn't work, let me know and I'll convert to normal text.):

To him, it's imperative her life--this life--not be cut short before she can learn what she needs to. [Which is what?] When the entity's attack puts him in the hospital, he realizes he's weakening and it's time to tell Louisa the truth.

As a skeptic and rationalist, she can't believe must be another of his fabulous stories, or he hallucinated. [You don't need to be a skeptic or a rationalist to doubt someone who claims he's been protecting you from an entity for 34 years.

Dewey: I'm not long for this world. I'm afraid I can no longer protect you.

Louisa: Protect me? From what?

Dewey: An entity.

Louisa: An entity? What kind of entity?

Dewey: Just an entity.]
Then Dewey gives her a diary that details all her childhood recurring nightmares--written by a girl who died two years before Louisa was born. This 'so-called' proof of a previous life, along with the strange smells and visions and dreams, and the return of those old nightmares, strains her convictions.

Dewey urges Louisa to reconcile with her estranged parents. She is blessed (or cursed, as the case may be) with powerful empathy, sometimes so strong she can't tell where her feelings end and other people's begin. He wants her to develop this untapped ability, to refine it and expand it and use it to understand others, including her aunt and cousin and ex-boyfriend. Doubtfully, for his sake, she does as he asks, and finds she can reconcile herself to those old hurts and betrayals with understanding and forgiveness.

When the entity possesses Dewey and goes after her family--laying bare their secrets and distorting the truth, determined to drive them to self-destruction--[After 34 years of trying to kill Louisa, the entity realizes her family is eager to to the job for him.] she will have to stop him. She will have to resolve the past...a past she doesn't even remember, or he will destroy everyone she loves. In a harrowing out-of-body experience, she'll discover what she did to make him pursue her so relentlessly and will learn the one thing he wants from her--the one thing she can't possibly give--her companionship, alive or dead.

Dewey's Robe is 117,000 words, third person, multiple POV. Having read your blog, I'm hoping this might appeal to you. My short fiction appeared in Twilight Zone Magazine; my other sales were non-fiction. I am a news director at WCSH-TV. Thanks for your time and attention.


[Author's note: Dewey's robe enables the soul to leave the body.]


This could stand to be shorter. As it happens, the paragraph in which I made no comments can be tossed. Just insert the word "empathic" in front of "niece" in paragraph 2, and you've salvaged the only important point from the boring paragraph.

It could be made more specific, as well. What does Dewey want Louisa to learn? What does the entity want revenge for? What are the family secrets?

Dewey must be more than just "enlightened" if he can hold off something trying to kill Louisa for 34 years. Doesn't he ever sleep? What are his powers? Either he has powers or the entity is a wuss.

I'm not sure I'd call it a mystery. It could be some sort of dark fantasy. Without knowing what the entity is, it's hard to say.

That was the last query in the queue. If you've been wavering on whether to submit yours, now's the time to take the leap.

Cartoon 199

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Beginning 544

"Someone made a mistake. That's not Dewey."

That's what Louisa wanted to say. She wanted to run to the nurses' station and cry, "That's not my Uncle, where is he?" This man's face was a fleshy puddle; gravity had stolen the smile, loosed the jowls, flattened the nose. She'd never seen him asleep before, that was all, had never even caught him in a catnap. That was why he looked so (dead? no not dead) . . . unfamiliar.

"Uncle Dewey, it's me. Can you hear me?" No response.

She put a hand lightly on his arm, saw his eyes rove behind wrinkled, bluish skin, and then his lids cracked, and he was staring at her. The gray of his irises looked muddy, his pupils glazed, as if he'd suddenly developed cataracts. "Uncle Dewey? Are you all right?"

He closed his eyes, turned away. Her hand found the call button, but when he opened his eyes again they were a clear, sharp gray.

"Little One, you're here."

"Of course. Can you tell me what happened?"

He paused, then said, "Last night, I left my body."

She said the only thing that came to mind. "Uh huh, okay."

"But that wasn't the bad part. The bad part came later."


He leaned forward. "I had to find another one . . . and it's going to be YOU!"

The girls screamed, right on cue.

Dewey smiled. He loved telling ghost stories at Louisa's slumber parties.

Opening: A.M. Ronning.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Cartoon 198

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Film Series

If people are staying away from theaters on Saturdays, and movie attendance is way down, it's not just because of the economy or because movies stink these days. It's mainly because everyone's at home getting into Evil Editor's Shorts.

Friday, August 22, 2008


New Beginning 543

The bell was going to ring high in the great Avalon Castle. A girl was running, her long strawberry-blonde hair tucked behind her right ear. Sweat dripped from her sickly, pale face as she dampened the many staircases down towards the main floor. Her fever kept ragging inside her, but she still ran to her class.

At the learning center, the apprenticeship program was in action. Students would learn the basics: mannerisms, healing concoctions, linguistics, down to reading the stars. While you didn’t get to pick your job; most thought it was better for the “Masters” to pick you. Their decisions were based on your special skills and study habits - or at least their opinion of them.

As the girl touched the door, she heard the loud gong of the bell echo the halls. The girl trembled, but just as she slammed the door open she hit an elderly priestess in gold to the floor.

With a cry of rage, the priestess pushed herself up and pointed at the girl. A fireball flew at her, engulfing her from the tips of her dainty toes to the top of her strawberry-blonde head. Fortunately, her screams were short-lived.

"So you see, Patsy? That's why we don't run into Mummy's bedroom without knocking first." She tucked her daughter in and crossed over to the other bed. "Now, Billy; I've told you before about running with scissors. Here's your story: 'Silly Teddy's Entrails'. Once upon a time . . . "

Opening: JB Keyser.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 197

Caption: writtenwyrdd

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Face-Lift 558

Guess the Plot

Crummy Bread

1. Jeff and Jared have started a retro pop band, Crummy Bread. Jackie wears a 60's minidress and go-go boots when she sings. Joel lovingly restored his drum kit. Now all they have to do is find some way to escape Oaklawn Retirement Home, and they're set.

2. Britny is going to fail Home Ec again unless she can finally learn to bake. But who wants to do this dumb stuff when she could be cheerleading for the football team...and Jake Robertson?

3. A guy who pees on her boots. A porn-obsessed crybaby. A cheese thief. Sofia always seems to end up with losers. Her latest boyfriend has just given her her Christmas present: a crummy loaf of bread! Is this the final straw? Or is this what she gets for moving to LA?

4. Gene Wilkins was going to kill the Senator. Every day that man walked by, pockets turned out, a broad fake smile on his face, and an innocent shrug that said, "I have no change." But Gene knew he did. He just kept it in his coat pockets. And today, to add insult to injury, he'd only given Gene a crust of . . . Crummy Bread.

5. In Soviet Russia, standing in line for bread isn't unusual - but Ivan knows that when he gets that bread, it's going to taste like concrete. In six hours - the time it will take him to reach the front of the line - he has to plot a revolution that will make 1918 look like a tea dance.

6. Working in her parents' bakery has never been Ellen's idea of fun, and she can't wait to finally graduate and get out of this nowhere burg. But then Charlie starts coming in every morning for a bagel or a doughnut, and Ellen begins to wonder if it's really so bad spending her mornings making . . . crummy bread.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I read that you're looking for commercial fiction and quirky voices. You may be interested in my 73,000-word novel, CRUMMY BREAD.

When her boyfriend of a year gifts her a loaf of bread for Christmas, Sofia Cera vows to go on thirty-nine blind dates chosen by others until she finds the right man. Since none of the women on her family tree have had successful relationships, she's convinced the inability to choose good boyfriend material runs in her blood (She should have realized this when her previous man was caught shoplifting cheese). Her hope soon fizzles at the realization that the stimulating new dating lifestyle she'd imagined includes a porn-obsessed crybaby and a belligerent jock who pees on her boots. On top of that, Sofia is new to Los Angeles [As she's had the same boyfriend for a year, I wouldn't call her new in town. Or is this a long-distance relationship?] and shows up for dates with heels in her purse and out of breath from the ride there on her ten-speed. [This isn't really "on top of that," it's a completely different subject. If you must tell us where she lives, you can just say, Sofia is beginning to wish she'd never moved to Los Angeles.]

After so many nights of donning tight jeans and a fake smile, it becomes clear that nobody is who they say they are. [Obviously when you're on your first date with a guy, he's not going to reveal every minor foible:

You can be annoyed when you find out your boyfriend stole cheese, but you can hardly get mad because he failed to reveal up front that he was a cheese burgler.] Just when she's about to give up, Andres sweeps Sofia off her feet and convinces her to immediately enter the unchartered [uncharted] world of cohabitation. In a rush to don the girlfriend title, she fails to notice that Andres may also being lying about who he is. Admittedly confused about her own mixed ethnicity and position in life, [What is her position in life?] she realizes that maybe she is too. With self-deprecating charm, CRUMMY BREAD exposes the perplexing things we humans do and say in the name of self-promotion.

When I'm not tucked in a corner of a café writing novels, I pen award-winning TV commercials. You can see my advertising work at _____________________ or my sketches on stage at _____________________.

I would be happy to send you the entire manuscript for review. Thank you for your time.



It seems unlikely that someone who recognizes that she has been making bad decisions man-wise would agree to immediately move in with a guy. Especially a guy named Andres.

I think if you're trying to make a point about the perplexing things we say and do in the name of self-promotion, you need to provide an example or two. Not telling people your darkest secrets isn't self-promotion; it's common sense. Possibly your point is something else, that men are all liars or that some women are bad at detecting liars or that a woman can (or can't) overcome genetic deficiencies. Or perhaps it's an entertaining story that isn't trying to make a point. What you claim is the point isn't coming across in the book's description.

Possibly get to Andres faster and tell us what he lies about to self-promote, and how Sofia realizes she's done the same thing.

Cartoon 196

Caption: anon.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Talk Gadget

I've used talk gadget to contact several people today, and it's working fine. I note that some of my contacts have a small circle next to their name, which is green when online and using your computer, orange when online but not using your computer, gray when off line, etc. But some people have no circle. I'm not sure why this is. Possibly they haven't added me to their own contact list?

It is possible to change the user name that appears when using talk gadget. If you want a different name, like the one you use on the blog, I think you can find the instructions by clicking help.

New Beginning 542

Her partner Jason was late, but Kiera ignored that for the more immediate need, something to drink. It had been a long, hot day. Their surveillance subject had not moved from her home, and Kiera had perforce spent the entire shift in the blind, eye glued to the scanners, while Jason tailed Slipsky's secretary. She viewed the selection of bottles, wanting something different—anything, as long as it didn't come native to this repulsive dirtball of a planet and it was wet.

On impulse, Kiera asked for something not in sight. "Kaloor, if you've got it," she told the bartender.

"Yah, we carry dat." The woman grinned, a very toothy smile. She was big and blonde, humnorm but for the lengthy canines—a mutation or a well done after-market job. "I got it in trade a few years ago, fresh, but cheap. Aged nicely now."

Kiera grinned back. Fresh kaloor peeled paint. Some liked it that way, but shelved a few years, it mellowed to a subtle but arrogant drink cherished by many—in particular the smoky exudant it developed, almost as potent as the liquid itself.

"I'll open it myself, then," Kiera said.

The bartender snaked an arm under the counter, produced a rotund stoneware jug. Kiera waved away the proferred knife, pulled her own to break the seal.

She looked expectantly at the bartender, who slid over a shot glass. Kiera tipped the jar. The drink must have been well aged; it was the darkest Kaloor she had ever seen, a far cry from the rusty liquid of her student days.

"Here's to ya!" Kiera grinned and emptied the shot. Immediately her mouth puckered at the foul, oily taste; she sprayed the liquid across the bar and over the bartender. "What the fu--! Lady, no way is this Kaloor!"

"Kaloor?" The bartender grabbed a cloth. "I thought you said Kahlua!"

Kiera shook her head. What kind of sick, twisted barbarians would drink liquor that tastes like cold coffee grounds?

Opening: writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 195

Caption: Anon.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Success Story

Stacia Kane (also known hereabouts as December Quinn) announces that her book Unholy Ghosts (Face-Lift 469) has sold to Del Rey in a three-book deal.

She also reports: "I couldn't have done it without you, without all the Minions and all the help and support you and they give..."

A short excerpt is posted on her blog here.

Face-Lift 557

Guess the Plot

Keeping Back the Dark

1. If it isn't the monster under the bed, it's the one in the closet. Or it's the ghosts who glide over the grounds around the house. Whatever it is, something is always giving Brittany Clark the heebie jeebies, which is why she always sleeps with a few lighted flashlights around her. But when her dad flips over the cost of batteries, she has to find another way of . . . keeping back the dark.

2. Angela's life was normal . . . until her family moved. Now there are creatures hunting her in the dark, creatures so beautiful it's easy to forget she's in danger . . . until they start killing her.

3. When 17 year-old Misty is blinded in a freak photography accident, she vows to stay home until her sight returns. Can Kelsey, her new seeing-eye dog, help change her mind?

4. Desperate for an experience of spiritual light, Lacey spends months in an oriental monastery, meditating. But one afternoon she is engulfed by an experience of vast darkness. Fleeing into the civilized world, sleeping as little as she can, she's haunted by a strange, pointed face.

5. A team of European scientists hired by the manufacturers of Coppertone Sunscreen work to stop the Earth's rotation, so that their side of the planet will be forever bathed in sunlight. But when Dracula learns of their plan he realizes that he and his minions must engage in industrial warfare if they're to survive.

6. Werewolf hunter Chug Conners has tracked his latest quarry to Benson, but when he discovers the small town is home to the werewolf king and his minions, he realizes he's going to need help. Possibly from the beautiful werewolf huntress known as . . . the Huntress!

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

The 5 weirdest things that Angela James has ever done:

1. Melted through the floor of the science room (uncomfortable, especially when you land in a mop closet. [But not so bad when she melts through the floor of the mop closet into the boys' shower.] [Also, close those parentheses.]
2. Broken into someone's house (but if they're not really people, is it still a crime?)
3. Attacked my brother's girlfriend (she was asking for it) [Your brother's girlfriend? Do you mean her brother's girlfriend? Are you in this book?]
4. Thrown a birthday party for an Icarus (what do you get the guy who's lived for centuries?)
5. Unintentionally used magic (unfortunately now the story of my life) [Your life or her life?]

Angela had a lot of ideas about what her eighth grade year would be like, and absolutely none of them are panning out. Moving hadn't been in her plan, and neither had dropping from "somewhat liked" to "nonexistent" on the social radar. But the one thing that really hadn't been on her agenda?

A blue, winged boy dropping from the sky to completely overthrow her perfectly normal life. [Though it seems like a combination of "overturn" and "throw for a loop," "overthrow" means something completely different.] [See chart in Face-Lift 545 for a discussion of the need to use an adjective to describe "normal."]

Now she has magic underneath her skin, threatening to burst out wildly with every swing of her 13-year-old emotions, [Is it the emotions that are 13 years old? If it's Angela, you've already told us she's in 8th grade, so we don't need her exact age.] and only the slightly odd Marr siblings understand because they're going through the same thing. And the winged boy? The one that ruined everything? He happens to be their sole ally – an emissary sent to guide them – but he's got emotional baggage, a nasty temper and secrets of his own. [Not clear whom he's their sole ally against. I would say: He happens to be an emissary sent to guide them . . . or mention who their enemy is before bringing up that they have an ally.]

Angela finds herself saddled with a secret life that has her worrying her family, racking up detentions at school, and even breaking the law … and those are the easy parts. There are creatures in the dark hunting her and the Marrs – creatures that can look like anyone and who are so exquisitely beautiful that it's easy to forget you're in danger until they start killing you. [Question for discussion: if you don't kill someone, can it be said that you "started" killing her? See, it's not like eating a meal, which consumes (Get it? Consumes?) a length of time. You can start eating a meal but not finish eating it. But you can't kill someone unless they die, and the transition from dead to alive takes place in a brief instant. If you start killing someone, do they not start dying? If you have a gun aimed at someone's head and you pull the trigger halfway and suddenly the ice cream truck goes by ringing its bell and you lose your train of thought and go running out to the street, did you start killing someone? Or did you merely start pulling a trigger? To illustrate, I've prepared two similar timelines:

One could argue that in Timeline 1, the creatures started killing Angela at 2:00PM. But did they start killing her in Timeline 2? Or did they merely start pummeling her? No matter which side of the argument you take, you must admit that the query would be more specific if it said: . . . so exquisitely beautiful that it's easy to forget you're in danger until they start pummeling you with baseball bats.]

Complete at approximately 90,000 words, Keeping Back the Dark is a fantasy fit into the real world, full of conflicts both supernatural and ordinary. This book — the first in a planned five-part series — blends danger, friendship, family and wit in a combination aimed at readers aged 10 and older.

I started writing at the age of seven, covering the gambit from never-to-see-the-light-of-day amateur novels to Harry Potter and Buffy fanfiction. [You probably mean the gamut, but odds are you didn't come close to covering the gamut. Also, it sounds like you're saying you were writing Harry Potter fan fiction at the age of seven, at which time Master Potter had not made his appearance on the world stage. In any case, the person to whom you're sending this letter won't care what you were doing at age seven, or even seventeen.] I majored in creative writing at Kansas State University, and I currently work as a copy editor while I take classes toward my secondary education degree.

Thank you for your consideration,


This is too listy. A list of weird things Angela's done, a list of aspects of her secret life, a list of events in her eighth-grade year. You don't need to hook us with every sentence. What's the story?

The list of weird things she's done gets across that the book will have supernatural elements, but if your list is going to include nothing that comes up in the query, it needs to be shorter. Possibly as short as just one item: The day Angela James melted through the floor of the science room into the mop closet, she realized eighth grade was going to be a strange year. Followed by . . . the story.

Cartoon 194

Caption: Evil Editor

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Talk Gadget

It's time to find out if Talk Gadget works, and is easy to handle. Send me your email address if you can be online at 7 PM eastern time. I will attempt to invite you into a chat. I'm getting there from this page: and clicking on Launch Google talk gadget. I don't think you need to go to that page. Possibly nothing will happen.

New Beginning 541

Kia wanted to see their eyes. The eyes of the models. They were looking somewhere out of the Gucci ad, somewhere into the rain. As if there's anything worth looking at, thought Kia. They were advertising sunglasses—the dark shades clashed with their otherwise Bronze God appearance. Looking closer, she could actually see the outline of their eyes—but then looking closer she also saw his hand. It was cut off at the wrist, but it was still obvious that he had slung his arm around the neck of the female model. He was leaning against her. It reminded Kia of Pete, who’d left for Sydney last week. It was the best thing that had happened to her since the end of school—Pete was such a pain.

The perfect faces of the models began to bother Kia. The guy especially. Sure, he was hot, but when she looked at him she thought cold. Fake. She could see them in her peripheral vision even if she turned away. A bus sped past her, splashing water on her jacket and bag—her new jacket and bag. She cursed and squinted after it: NOT IN SERVICE. Wonderful. Kia turned back to the bench.

And gasped.

"It's you!"

The guy from the poster smiled, and his eyes twinkled like cut diamonds. "Sorry," he said, "I was watching you staring at my picture."


"I live in the new condos down the road. I usually jog through here in the mornings."

"I must look terrible." She tried to straighten her hair and hide her soaking purse. "Not like the girl on the poster."

He smiled again. "That's all Photoshop. In real life she's not nearly as pretty as you."

Kia blushed. A bus slowed to a stop and the door opened. "Lots of room inside," the handsome driver said with a polite smile. "Coming aboard?"

Okay, that's it, she thought. I must be dream--

Kia woke with a start in the same old drab bedroom. Pete grunted, rolled over taking the sheets with him, and farted.

It's gonna take more than a pair of Gucci shades to fix this, she thought.

Opening: YourWorst Nightmare.....Continuation: ril

Cartoon 193

Caption: WO

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

We're Doomed 10

Captain Robin entered an office where there was a handsome man.

“Klaatu barada nikto [Be still my beating hearts],” she whispered to herself. She nervously approached the man and couldn't help herself. She buried her hands deep into his soft muttonchops and rested them there. He did not object. She sighed deeply, “Yammany [hmmm].” She took his right hand and placed it over her beating heart. She then took his left hand and placed it over her other beating heart, two or more hearts beating as one.”

“Wasson platetu? [What are you doing today?]” he said, breaking the moment.

“Gitmetu terra und barracktu obomba bejeebus gehenna thartu. [I'm going to Earth and blow it to holy hell.]”

“ ::-) [Have a nice day,]” said Robin's concubine.

--Bill H.

We're Doomed 7

"So, Human," purred the feminine voice, "I have to make a decision. You will help me."

He glanced down from his morning paper. The only living creature in range was a large, fluffy, impeccably-groomed Poodle. "Impossible," he grumbled, adjusting his glasses.

"Do not refuse me, Human." The Poodle laid a paw on his lap. "Long ago, we came to earth to enslave your race. We have succeeded, even better than we had planned. But now we must choose. Should we exterminate humans and move on, or continue our domination?"

"You're kidding," he said. "You're just a dog!"

"No, human. WE are the masters. You are naught but our slaves. And since you do not respect me, you have made my choice clear."

"Hold on a minute," he said, laying aside the paper. "Come over here."

Warily, she went to his side. He reached down and began scratching her behind one ear. "We're not so bad, are we?"

"No, Human, but--lower, please. Ahhh! Thank you." She shook her head. "Very well. I am convinced. Humans will live--for now."

He watched as she trotted off, tail high. Damned good thing I just edited that memoir about the psychic dog, he thought, and resumed reading.


We're Doomed 2

Flash Attack

Evil Editor sat at his The New Yorker desk mocking genre fiction on his hobby blog, when several strange girls entered his office. He was new to Manhattan and didn't worry about the extra eye each had. Captain Kierstental4robinsarah3 placed a monograph onto Evil's desk.

Evil Editor looked at the title, Collected Wisdom of Ten Thousand Planets, and laughed. “I don't do Sci Fi.” He looked up and they were gone. [Ed. note: genre readers, please add: And so was most of Manhattan.]

--Bill H.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Film Series

Time once again to beat the August heat in the air-conditioned comfort of Evil Editor's Shorts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Face-Lift 556

Guess the Plot


1. When Josh Boink forgets to issue a product-safety recall on a million pounds of hot dogs, he really forgets: in the five days since he shoved the memo beneath a stack of invoices, thousands of Americans have become ill. When Josh realizes his error, he races against time to confiscate as many of the bad dogs as he can, because half of North America is suffering from a deadly form of gastrointestinal discomfort: Plaguewind.

2. In the 1920's, Plaguewind, racehorse of the decade, has put a small eastern-European nation on the map. But when this communist country discovers that the horse has royalist antecedents, a political crisis seems imminent. Only one man has the secret that can preserve peace for another year: Plaguewind's great-grand-dam was an over-worked cart horse.

3. When archaeologists uncover a mass grave in Tibet they unwittingly let loose a virus that has been dormant for centuries. The airborne disease kills in hours and makes AIDS, Legionnaire's Disease and SARS look like a mild case of chickenpox. Half of Europe has already gone dark. Can scientist Greg Hart find a cure before it's too late?

4. Being one of three brothers with magical powers might sound like fun, but little Plaguewind would prefer to wield a sword to smite the enemy. Ashamed of his rather pathetic talent, he leaves home and sets off on a quest to uncover some other way to help his siblings destroy the evil Gothcarrions. It will take an encounter with the wise Marmerlard to show Plaguewind that any magical power is better than none--even if it's only lethal flatulence.

5. A wind-borne plague threatens to wipe out the entire population, unless the crew of the Phyrno can sail north and find the lost city of plague survivors. But with no water available, they must sail on land, and they find that their ship isn't nearly as fast that way.

6. The Lommalians have long built their cities from the most plentiful wood available on the planet: balsa. But when global warming leads to Lommalia's first-ever breezes, it's up to meteorologist Chanh Braakpho to figure out a way to rebuild a planet. Also, a gold anemometer.

Original Version

Dear [Agent],

[Brief specific reasons for choosing to submit].

When Patrick Union, staunchly independent trader and captain of the land-sailing plainship Phyrno, is hired to stop a wind-borne plague that is weeks from wiping out the whole country, he quickly realizes he's in for the worst winter of his life. [If the whole country's gonna be wiped out in weeks, I wouldn't worry too much about the entire winter being lousy.]

Union must sail into the teeth of the brutal northern snowstorms to try to locate a centuries-lost city, which is purported to be infested by demons. [Lemme get this straight. He's got a few weeks to find a city that's been lost for centuries, and his means of transportation is a ship that sails on land?

First Mate: Cap'n, not to belabor the obvious, but we haven't moved in six weeks.

Captain Union: Check the almanac. See when hurricane season starts.]

If he can find it, he must find out, with the help of an otherwise-useless historian, how a fraction of its population managed to be the only survivors the last time the plague came through nearly a thousand years ago. [Lemme get this straight. He not only has to find the place, he has to do it in a snowstorm, and then he has to conduct a research study on something that happened a thousand years ago while fighting off demons, and then he has to return. And his means of transportation is a ship that sails on land?] [Can you add something to make it a little more difficult?] Complicating matters is the malevolent Traders' Guild, which develops an avid interest in stopping the Phyrno and killing all aboard her, both in the pursuit of its doomed quarantine efforts and as part of its campaign to cinch its control of trading into complete monopoly. [I'm not clear on why Union preventing a plague from wiping out the entire population is bad for the Traders' Guild.]

Betrayed by his crew, struggling against the ravages of weather and sabotage to keep his ship in working order, and harried at every turn by agents of the Guild, all Union wants is to finish his task and get back to trading. [These agents he's being harried by, are they chasing him down in their own ship that sails on land, or do they have something faster, like a land barge being towed by a giant tortoise?] The plague, however, is spreading and killing even as he races northwards, and by the time he finds the city, even he is infected. [It suddenly occurs to him that maybe he should have been racing southward.] Can he find a cure and get back to civilization with it in time to save himself—or anyone else? [No.]

Set in an alternate world of swords and sails, my windpunk science fiction novel Plaguewind [I refuse to create another label category on this blog for windpunk novels.] is complete at 132,000 words. The stage is left set for a pair of sequels that follow Patrick Union's quest to redeem himself in the wake of the catastrophic events set in motion by the advent of the plague and the forces he inadvertently unleashes by disturbing the lost city. [He finds the city and prevents the plague from wiping out everyone, and this proves to be a catastrophe?]

I am midway through an MFA in fiction writing at Western Michigan University, and also hold a BS in engineering [Lemme guess: Your engineering degree led to developing ships that sail on land, and when you applied to grad school they rolled their eyes and suggested you switch from engineering to fantastical fiction]. I have included [specific things as specified]. Thank you for your time and consideration!



You make the task sound impossible. It might be better to make it sound almost impossible. For instance, if you don't mention that the plague is already spreading and killing, we might think there's hope. You might also consider leaving out the part about the demons and only having a few weeks and the crew sabotaging him and the Guild trying to kill him and the snowstorm and the thousand years, and having to find a cure after he finds the lost city. Now the only obstacle is that he's in a ship that sails on land . . . Hmm, better leave that out too.

What I'm saying is, what seem like a reasonable number of problems over 132,000 words seem insurmountable when compressed into three paragraphs. Maybe the Guild is your main villain and you should focus on them, rather than list everything working against Union.

Cartoon 192

Caption: WO

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Beginning 540

I always thought my father was just a legend, a story to make kids who had a bad day have a reason to think tomorrow would be better, and I never knew differently until my mother was murdered. Of course, I always knew I had a father, but there's a difference between being knowing you were fathered and having a father.

When the world faced an alien invasion, it was my father who worked out how to kill their mothership and went and did it. He left behind my mother, who raised me alone, always telling me as much as I could handle as I grew up about who my father was. I don't think she'd finished.

She hadn't even begun telling me about who she was.

Dr. Sternberg sighed deeply. "I see. So your father killed a Martian mothership?"

"Yeah, he went into—wait a minute. How did you know it was Martian?

But Dr. Sternberg was already peeling off his mask.

Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: freddie

Cartoon 191

Caption: writtenwyrdd

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Face-Lift 555

Guess the Plot

The Apprentices

1. In Rothshire Village, young girls are sent to the witches' castle when they reach puberty. Those that are found not to be witches are killed. When Gwendolyn and Heather find out they are indeed witches, they jump for joy. But their BFF Yvonne is not a witch. Can G and H pool their power to overcome the old hags who run the castle and save Yvonne?

2. A normal student comes down with a fever and faints. When she comes to, she has mysteriously become one of Merlin IV's apprentices in Avalon, which has returned to the planet. Hilarity ensues.

3. Amber, first year law clerk. Dave, lone African-American TA in the Math department. Shanni, resident at St. Cecelia's Hospital for women. Chuck, sou chef. One apartment building. The lives and loves of... the Apprentices.

4. A group of ten rowdy steamfitting apprentices are accidentally locked in a workshop on their job site overnight. During the night they discover that one is an anti-union operative and another is a cultist. Who will convert whom? Can Dave get enough sleep to work the early shift next morning?

5. Bold, cold and mean, Kurt and Morgan have guns and know how to use them--or they will when they've finished their training. Then an anthrax attack takes out all the MI5 regulars; Buckingham Palace is bombed; and 253 Members of Parliament are taken hostage. Hilarity ensues as the apprentices set out to save the day.

6. Alvin and Garth are idle trainee plumbers who are about to lose their jobs. When a time machine appears from the distant future they find out that they are needed to save the world from sewage outfall by inventing a new kind of toilet. Follow their hilarious journeys backwards and forwards through time visiting bathrooms of the ancient and modern worlds.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

After man almost destroyed our own planet, what will the returned land of Avalon do with the rumors of wars? Prepare their citizens with the apprenticeship program.

Jancey, an extremely "normal" student didn't know what she would do with her life. [I'm not sure why "normal" is in quotation marks. Sometimes that's done to indicate not normal. However, I'm guessing that she is normal, which leads me to wonder if one can be extremely normal. "Extremely" suggests there are few like her. Michael Phelps swims extremely fast: there are few who are his equal. But if there are few who are as normal as Jancey, this suggests that she isn't normal. The following graph should illustrate my point.

Normalness of Stuff

Note that the biggest section is "normal." That's because for stuff to be considered normal, there has to be plenty of it. But if it were possible to create a graph showing the normalness of normalness, the biggest section would be the "extremely normal" section, because by definition, being normal to the extreme is what makes something normal. In short, to indicate that things or people are normal, just call them normal.]

Her skills were limited and she was not very talented. [No need to make both of those points.] Her best friend, Sarah, is a fashionable cook. [I'm not sure if that means she cooks fashionable food or dresses fashionably while stirring the soup.] Her enemy, Joseph, is the perfect gentleman. ["Enemy" is a strong word. In what way is he her enemy?] Suddenly, after fainting over a fever, she is caught up with magic, and become's the apprentice of Merlin the IV (the king's head wizard). [You don't need an apostrophe in "becomes," and whattaya mean she "becomes" Merlin's apprentice? She's suddenly his apprentice, with no explanation?] She is going to have to survive the magic program to achieve her dream [What is her dream? You said she didn't know what to do with her life, which suggests she doesn't know what her dream is.] and learn the destiny of her fellow kingdom. [Her fellow kingdom?]

Thank you with all the apperication [Anagram: appreciation.] of the "The Apprentices" [Anagram: apperication.] Manuscript [Whether "appreciation" or "apperication," the sentence doesn't make sense.]


Okay, fess up, you're Jack, age 14, who sent in one of the writing exercise scenes Sunday, right? Congrats on writing a book. If it gets published everyone else here will hate you, so instead of writing a query, work on improving the book.

A lot of errors, and not enough story. Is Jancey a normal student in Avalon or in the almost destroyed world? Are Joseph and Sarah in the book after Jancey becomes the apprentice? If not, they don't need to be in the query. If so, give them a bigger role in the query.

All we know about the story is that a girl becomes Merlin IV's apprentice. You need about ten sentences, each of which adds information and follows logically from the previous sentence. I assume the main plot is the Merlin section, so concentrate the query on that.

We need to know how long the book is (in words) and who would want to read it (children, adults, teens).

New Beginning 539

"Have I ever told you about the second guy I killed? Not the first, killing my dad was kind of boring when you get down to the telling."

The conversation died down, everyone looked to the head of the table.

"I was walking along, just in front of this restaurant, though the restaurant wasn't here, yet. This punk jumps out and stabs me. I turn and hit him as hard as I can. Pure instinct. I was pretty fit back then and my aim wasn't too good. I hit him in the temple and he goes down, dead. I faint like a pussy a few seconds later.

"They tell me he used a razor knife. I never saw it, but I remember it like it was a peg you tie a rope around on a sailing ship with a two edged shaving razor like my dad used to use on people stuck in the handle. Or I can remember it as a cut-throat razor. Or a bayonet. Or a Cadillac with fins.

"I won't imagine it like that. I remember it like that. Ain't that the damnedest thing?

"By the way, I've hired an outside contractor to get rid of this big galoot." Jed jerked his thumb toward the groom-to-be as he uttered the sentence.

"That won't be necessary," his daughter told him, smiling the same smile she had learned to plaster on her face whenever her father opened his mouth in public. "I have a feeling the wedding is off at this point, anyway."

Opening: D Jason Cooper.....Continuation: freddie

Cartoon 190

Caption: R. Watson/anon.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Face-Lift 554

Guess the Plot

Aleth and the Serpent

1. When a fire-breathing serpent burns the town's crops, the people choose Aleth to go kill the creature. They figure she's a 10-year-old orphan, so no one will miss her if she fails. But she succeeds! She returns from her quest with the serpent's heart. But before she can show the townspeople, her guardian eats the heart, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

2. In the eighth century, the French town Aleth is troubled by a scourge of poisonous snakes. Believing the snakes have a supernatural origin, the townspeople beg their Bishop to save them. But a Deacon discovers that the Bishop has become enslaved to a sorcerer known as . . . The Serpent.

3. Young Alice, mockingly dubbed "Aleth" by her classmates because of a debilitating lisp, is drawn into a parallel universe that is no Wonderland. When forced to battle a beast that uses only the letter "s", Alice learns to pronounce her sibilants. And much more.

4. Same old serpent, different maiden. And this one wields the dreaded Spoon of Andor, with which she plans to blend Chaos, Anarchy and Evil into a big gooey mass of total control of reality, thus upsetting the comfortable status quo of Good vs. Evil. Can the snake stop her plotting before it's too late?

5. Aleth can't wait for her birthday: she's going to be sacrificed to Quaa-Tua, the Serpent God. Instead, she's rescued at the last minute by meddling Elves. What will happen to her homeland if Quaa-Tua doesn't get his way?

6. They say you can get anything you want at Aleth's Rethtaurant. But when Lomar orders Serpent Tartare, he's met with a blank stare. Can Aleth prevent him from destroying the place with his broadsword by offering him today's special: Komodo Dragon skewers?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

I’d be honoured if you’d consider representing Aleth and the Serpent, a 20,000-word fantasy for 7-11-year-olds.

Orphaned Aleth is best friends with Werner, a cheerful 13-year-old. Both are reptile enthusiasts and until Werner starts treating her like a little girl they seem to have everything in common. On Aleth’s tenth birthday they quarrel, and Aleth, trying to prove she’s grown-up enough to be Werner’s friend, set off on her traditional eleventh-year quest alone. [I see we've switched to past tense. Switch back immediately.] Based on a hint from her guardian, Aleth quests for the King of Reptiles, who turns out to be the beautiful but wicked Six-Legged Serpent. [My admittedly abridged sources suggest that serpents have zero legs. Apparently it's true what they say: In the country of the limbless, the six-legged serpent is king.] Aleth foolishly enrages the Serpent (or Dragon) [or giant cockroach] who then burns the Town’s crops.

Hannadrasp, Aleth’s guardian and First Lady of the Town, decrees that whoever stirred up the beast must retrieve his heart, a cluster of living gems, in which is stored the virtue of everything the Serpent has ever stolen.

[Hannadrasp: Someone must acquire the heart of the King of Reptiles. I suggest Aleth.

Aleth: Thanks a lot, Mom.

Hannadrasp: Hey, I'm just your guardian.]

When it is planted in the ground, all will be restored. Through cowardice, the Town agrees and sends Aleth to do the dangerous deed while the Serpent sleeps. But Werner, regretting the quarrel that separated him from Aleth at the vital moment, goes with her. Together Aleth and Werner accomplish the task. Aleth's presence of mind and growing independence prompt her to save the Serpent's life by feeding him a bit of the Heart. All that is good in the Serpent survives, and he is transformed into a tiny Salamandral.

Just when the story seems to have resolved, however, [it is discovered that it's all been back-story and the real plot begins to unfold.] Werner begins to wonder how the disaster really came about in the first place. Hanndrasp [a.k.a. Hannadrasp], Aleth’s guardian, is revealed as the true villain of the story. First, Aleth finds out that Hanndadrasp [That's the third time you've mentioned this character and the third different way you've spelled her name. Maybe you should call her Ann.] actually lured the Serpent to the Town then suggested the Quest to Aleth, hoping to get the Serpent’s Heart or Aleth’s property or both. Second, Hannadrasp keeps the Serpent's Heart for herself.

However, Hannadrasp’s greed brings about her own downfall as she, misunderstanding the uses of the Serpent's Heart, tries to eat it and shrinks away almost to nothing. With his greater knowledge, the Salamandral is able to help Aleth set things right once and for all and they restore the fortunes not only of her own Town but of many others as well. [Just when the story seems to have really resolved, however . . . ]


We don't need this much plot. Maybe you should cut it off at the point where the story seems to be resolved and just hint that there's more to come. '

How come "Heart" is capitalized every time it's used except the first time? I note that "Six-Legged" is also capitalized (not to mention "town" and "quest"). Are all the Serpent's body parts capitalized? Is the Heart the Serpent's actual heart? Because you'd have to be a pretty heavy sleeper if a kid were able to remove your heart without waking you.

If the serpent is a dragon, why not call it a dragon? It's a more familiar word to seven-year-olds.

What does Hannadrasp think will happen when she eats the cluster of gems?

Cowards or not, I don't see a town sending a kid to take on dragon. What's with this "decree"?

Townperson 1: We need to get the dragon's heart.
Townperson 2: Why?
Townperson 1: I don't know. Handclasp decreed it.
Townperson 2: Sounds incredibly dangerous.
Townperson 1: Not to us. We're sending a 10-year-old girl to get it.
Townperson 2: Why?
Townperson 1: I don't know. Handicraft decreed it.
Townperson 2: Thank God we have someone to think for us.

Cartoon 189

Caption: Anonymous

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Improving the Olympics

I've been watching the Olympics, and have come up with a few ways they can be improved.

1. In beach volleyball, the tall players have an advantage. Thus, I recommend that springboards be installed in the area of the net to aid the shorter players in spiking and blocking.

2. In the men's high bar, the athletes are lifted to the bar by a guy. This is humiliating. I suggest that it would be more spectacular if they had to pole vault over the high bar and then grab it on the way down, smoothly beginning their routine as they do.

3. No one ever sticks the landing on the gymnastics vault, as they have too much horizontal momentum. Thus, instead of landing on mats they should land on one of those small trampolines--the kind mascots use to dunk basketballs at halftime. This would allow them to spring upward, creating vertical momentum and allowing them to land without stepping or hopping.

4. The men's pommel horse tends to be extremely dull, despite the great skill involved, because they just go around and around. I propose that the routine be performed on an actual horse as it gallops around the arena.

5. The swimsuits of the synchronized divers are identical; they should be mirror images, with the design of one on the opposite side as the design of the other, so it looks like one diver is a mirror image of the other. Also, the divers should have to be twins. Actually, it's too easy to synchronize with one other diver. The event should involve eight divers going simultaneously, preferably octuplets.

6. No one actually swims the butterfly, so why is it an event? It should be replaced with the dog paddle. That may sound ridiculous, but it's no more ridiculous than race walking. I mean really, walking? In real life, if you're in a hurry, no matter how fast you can walk you'll be left in the dust of people who have enough sense to run.

7. There's no way of knowing who wins a point in fencing unless you just watch the electronic light come on. The only way the actual fencing will ever be worth watching is if they use real swords and fight to the death.

8. There should be a coxswain in every scull, even the singles, and the coxswains should all be equipped with those huge drums like in Ben Hur, to help the rowers get the rhythm.

9. Water polo would be much more exciting if the participants were in those bumper boats, like they have at the state fair. I can't believe no one else has thought of that one.

10. I don't think it's right that they have cameras in the ladies' showers at the diving venue. One of these days someone's gonna do her last dive and absent-mindedly take off her suit before showering.

Those suggestions were based on the events they've shown so far. I'll probably have more as the Games progress.