Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Film Series

You never know what's going down in Evil Editor's Shorts. Or who.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Beginning 644

The car skimmed across the edge of the road around the mountain. Ashley held on to the seat as if her life depended on it, who knew -- maybe it would, anything was possible with James driving. She wondered why she did it to herself. Everyone in school knew James failed his driving test five times before finally getting his licence. So why did she agree to get in the car with him. Especially this car; her life would be over if anything happened to it. James talked her around of course.

Ashley's hands squeezed the black leather as James yanked the wheel in the opposite direction, aiming for the next corner, a maniacal grin plastered on his face. What boy could resist trashing a V8 around such tight corners? Ashley gripped harder, her knuckles turning white. She wished she were somewhere else, until she caught sight of those blue eyes sparkling underneath the mess of dark brown hair.

"Relax," he said.

"How on earth can you expect me to relax?"

"Well, you said your brother was out of town for the week right?"

"Yeah. So?"

"He is not going to remember how many k's were on the car when he left."

"Still I don't think you should…"

"Relax..." He tuned the radio to a local hillbilly station and turned up the volume.

"Slow down!" Ashley shouted. "You're scaring me!"

James grinned. He grabbed her thin, white shawl and draped it over his head. "I can't see, I can't see," he joked. Then he heard the siren.

"This your vehicle, sir?" The cop was huge; looked just like Mike Tyson, and he wasn't smiling.

Jim pulled the shawl off his head, and then remembered Ashley's brother's business: the Klintonburg Kitchen Kabin.

Yes, there were three K's on this car, and the evening wasn't going to go well.

Opening: Shell I.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 396

Caption: anon.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Face-Lift 637

Guess the Plot

A Long Way Home

1. When Timmy was scolded and sent to his room for teasing the cat, he was very cross. Then he found space aliens hiding under the bed and said -- take me to your leader! After wandering through the shrubbery eating roots berries and insects for a week, the aliens finally admit they got lost three light years ago and have no idea how to get home.

2. Brothers Jason, Jacob and Jared find their missing father's 63' convertible in their Grandfather's barn. Will they restore it and go on a road trip to find their father, or let Grandpa sell it to cover the cost of Grandma's cancer treatment?

3. Leonard had expected side effects when he created a rift in the space-time continuum. He didn't think they'd occur in the middle of his younger brother's birthday party. Can he get seven children, two dogs, a parrot and himself back through 16 centuries, 42 dimensions and an ice-cream stand?

4. After being sucked through a portal into an alternate dimension, Billy is befriended by an elf and a friendly dragon. The Goblin King, believing Billy to be the heir to the Wizard Throne, sets off to kill the young orphan. Will Billy survive the journey home?

5. Someone is murdering the cryogenically frozen passengers on a spaceship to another planet and only one teenaged kid can save the mission. But is it worth stopping a murderer if it means revealing a secret so terrible that to even hint at its terribleness would be . . . terrible?

6. Sure, it's only a few blocks to the store, but getting home can be a very long journey indeed when those blocks are in the City of Giants, where each block is a hundred miles long. Also, sentient traffic lights.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

317 year old Amy has spent 300 years asleep in cryostatis. [Cryostatis: the state of being in cryostasis.] Elder has spent all of his seventeen years on board a generation space ship bound for a new planet. Born to become the leader of the space ship, Elder has no idea there is a group of people cryogenically frozen in a hidden level of the ship. When Amy wakes up fifty years early, [I'm grouchy when I wake up fifteen minutes early. I'm steering clear of Amy for a few years.] she teams with Elder to discover who unplugged her—because whoever it was is now unplugging the others, and they’re not surviving their unbidden early wake-up call. Amy’s desperate search to find a home on the ship she’s trapped on is matched only by her search to stop the murderer before he unplugs her parents. [Comparing her need, desire, compulsion would be okay; comparing her searches isn't that informative. It's like saying her search to find her keys is matched only by her search for her missing sock.] The murderer, however, has a plan: use his strategic killing to make Elder, who is next in line to rule the ship, discover a terrible secret. [Now we're getting somewhere. The crux of Elder's conflict becomes clear at last as the terrible secret is revealed.] Now Amy and Elder must decide: is it better to tell the truth or let everyone else live in happy ignorance? [I missed it! I was so busy typing my blue words I missed the secret. What was it? Did anyone else hear it, or were you too busy reading the blue words?]

Building on the fear of isolation and containment in Jeanne DuPrau’s CITY OF EMBER and the psychology and philosophy in Mary Pearson’s THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, my novel, A LONG WAY HOME, is a YA science fiction light on science but strong [on fiction.] in character development.

I am currently a high school world literature teacher and an active member of SCBWI, having been published in and working as the copy editor of the state SCBWI magazine. Additionally, I run a blog on writing for MG and YA audiences which receives between 100 and 150 hits a day. [Running a blog has yet to acquire the résumé-enhancing respectability it truly deserves.]

I am prepared to submit the entire manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration with this project.



One doesn't usually think of a ship as having a leader or a ruler. Is "captain" outmoded?

The bigger the secret, the more important it is to reveal it in the query.

I don't see the point of whoever is behind this mission keeping the cryogenically frozen people secret from the future captain or from anyone else. Getting these people to the new planet is the mission, right?

What is meant by Amy's "desperate search to find a home on the ship"?

Are there suspects? Or is it assumed the murderer is a 330-year-old stowaway?

Why doesn't the murderer just tell Elder the terrible secret instead of killing people to make Elder discover the secret?

Cartoon 395

Caption: Evil Editor

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Face-Lift 636

Guess the Plot

Eternal Knight

1. It's another freakin' vampire novel where he's all tortured and broody because he can't tell if he loves her or if he's just kinda hungry and she's into him because he's so mysterious but protective and he's like "We can never be together" and she's all "But I love you!" and we all know where this is going but let's face it: people never seem to get tired of this one so shall we just cut to the chase and talk price?

2. 13th C knight Geoffroi du St. Cloud is cursed by the vampire Doudrou to never be permitted the peace of death. And so Geoffroi fights on, only to be resurrected when slain. Is he doomed--or can the glorious Princess du Conti save him and his soul?

3. Weeding the garden, Timmy finds a jewel in the dirt. At midnight a man in armor sneaks in through the open window. He says he needs the jewel and a 12-year-old sidekick to rescue the kingdom of a beautiful kidnapped princess. Timmy accepts the sidekick gig, unaware their dangerous mission will require numerous sequels and he, too, is doomed to become an . . . Eternal Knight.

4. Pharaoh was being a jerk again, so God tried to put an eternal night curse over Egypt. He screwed up, and now there's a 16th century unkillable knight wandering around Egypt generating chaos. Can Floyd and Bob, God's clean-up crew, set things right?

5. Hadde of Landomere is supposed to be protecting her village from invaders, but instead heads off to the next kingdom to pawn a necklace she found. Now the king won't let her go back home, but why would she want to go home and face invaders when the king's brother is such a hunk?

6. Sir Frank of Carthyreid haunts the same old battlefield, century after century--until the city builds a high school on it and then Sir Frank's life gets a lot more interesting. As bloodied corpses turn up in lockers and dismembered limbs in desks, dimwitted school janitor Pete Pritchett arms himself with a bin lid and a wooden spoon and rides into battle.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Hadde of Landomere is a huntress who has sworn to protect and provide for her people. The Wasting makes her task impossible: crops are failing, game has disappeared, and strange raiders are invading her forest homeland.

While hunting, Hadde finds a golden necklace. Taking it as a sign that she must do more for her people, [Interesting. I would have taken it as a sign that someone lost her necklace.] she leaves the forest of Landomere for the kingdom of Salador. She plans to sell the necklace for food and other necessities, but she hopes for much more--to gain the aid of the elementar-king of Salador. [Who's fighting off the raiders while she's in Salador pawning someone else's property?] [Amazing: all the letters of the word "property" are on one row of the keyboard.]

Unlike her egalitarian homeland, Salador is a highly stratified, male-dominated world of politics, war, and deceit, teeming with its own problems. Hadde finds herself trapped there when the king, who believes her to be part of a prophecy, ["As it was foretold, a hot woman has shown up on the eve of my annual 'Forty Guys and a Wench' party."] refuses to let her go home. Her unlikely romance with the king's brother, Morin, entangles Hadde in a web of Saladoran scheming. [There are raiders invading her village and she has time for a romance?]

When Morin learns of the discovery of an ancient magical artifact, he takes Hadde with him to recover it. [What a moron.] [Why doesn't he who discovered it bring it to the castle? In this highly stratified world, I assume you don't just tell your superiors, I'm busy; if you want it come and get it.] Their journey leads not only to the salvation of Hadde's small village, but to [of?] the world itself. [Define "the world."] It also leads to the loss of her faith in humanity, and the loss of Morin's soul. [Huh? That sounds like the old, The operation was a success but the patient died line. If you must screw up your happy ending in the book, fine, but putting that in the query just leads to questions you aren't answering. Explain or delete.]

I currently teach military history and economics and previously served in the United States Army as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot. I am also a Revolutionary War reenactor and historical wargamer. In Eternal Knight I used my knowledge of medieval history, [helicopter flying,] economics, religion [(I'm also a part-time monk)], and military strategy to create a rich, believable world.

Eternal Knight is a 105,000 word fantasy novel. The manuscript is complete and ready for submission. Thank you for considering my work.



Who is the knight in the title? And what's eternal about the knight?

How far is the trip to Saladar?

The king won't let Hadde go home seems to indicate she's under lock and key, yet she goes off with Morin? As a skilled huntress, she could easily escape while Morin's not looking.

I'd leave the invaders raiding the village out of the query. In the book there's surely an explanation for the village surviving the raids while their protector is off romancing Morin, but in the query we're better off not knowing about them, especially as they weren't worth mentioning again anyway.

Actually, it didn't sound that bad until I started picking at it. Explain as much as you can and get rid of what you don't have room to explain, so we don't think it's full of logic problems.

Cartoon 394

Caption: R. Watson

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Beginning 643 (short story)

The cat has at least a hundred names and possibly as many as a thousand. He sits at the bottom of the steps while she climbs to the room with the glass wall. Once he followed her, kitten-fluffy, snake-fast, followed her ahead of her to the locked lead door. Time and patience has taught him to sit and wait for her return. He only miaows. Then turns, Grimalkin-grey, puss-soft, away.

She remembers her husband telling her cats couldn't be trained like dogs. She knows that's true, but now she'd like to tell him--if she could--that cats can be trained like cats.

He has, after all, learnt patience, sphinx-like waiting at the threshold; he can walk ninja-soft across the room and fur-tickle her leg before she knows he is there; his claws, rapier-quick, can vanquish any enemy, leaving entrails scattered wide. Muscular, cat-handsome, intelligent beyond human comprehension . . .

* * *

Barnacle heard a sound: the rattle of the door handle. With a deft swipe of the paw, he hit save, and clicked on close. By the time the door opened, the computer was just as she'd left it, and Barnacle was in front of the fire, licking his balls.

Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Anonymous

Cartoon 393

Caption: Evil Jr.

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I'll Be Back . . .

. . . from my vacation Friday evening. I've left enough cartoons and Face-Lifts etc. to get you through the week. The writing exercise will post Wednesday. It'll be like I'm not even gone, certainly no worse than when your psychiatrist went on vacation. Better, in fact, as you pretty much paid for your psychiatrist's vacation.

Don't forget to check in with the Brenda Novak auction, which ends on the weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Face-Lift 635

Guess the Plot

Tara Born of Tears

1. Tara was born to the sidhe, a magical child with vast powers--but one weakness: she is always crying. Though she's practically a superhero, she's also a social outcast. When Derrick discovers her secret, can he make her smile at last?

2. Vishnu is pissed. Zeus became famous just for pulling fully-formed Athena out of his forehead. It's enough to make a creation god cry, but if Vishnu manages to produce a woman from eye water, then the Greek Gods'll be lucky if anyone even remembers them a century from now.

3. Tara Fletcher came out of her mother's womb bathed not in amniotic fluid, but tears. She's spent the first twenty five years of her life locked up in a lab, being poked, prodded and researched. Now, however, she's out--and she wants revenge.

4. Surrounded by the death and destruction of an interplanetary war, a ragtag group of survivors resolves to make a new life for themselves on the unexplored world of Tara.

5. If anyone in this world is unlucky, it's Tara Scott. Is it fated that she will always be the one to know sorrow, or can she take the advice of the village crone and make her own destiny as a sports mascot?

6. Alice wants to have a baby and name it Tara, but it has been foretold that her child will die unless it's conceived by having sex with a man who lives naked in a junkyard. Is there any way the back seat of a junked '92 Oldmobile can be romantic?

Original Version

Thank you for looking at this query for Tara Born of Tears, paranormal fiction, 90k words.

A year ago Alice Goode’s five year old son Bobby drowned. Now she is haunted by the belief that his spirit is trapped between lives, searching for her. A shaman tells her that she must find the right man to give birth to her son’s reincarnation. [Did you mean shaman or conman?] She tries, but with the wrong man and has a miscarriage. [Does she know anything about the "right man," or is it a one in two billion shot?] Doctors warn her that another pregnancy is dangerous. She may have one more chance, but with no idea how to find the right man, Alice becomes desperate. She doesn’t even know his name. [Is it Theodore Amer?]

It is Theodore Amer. [I almost changed my guess to Julius Papanicolau. Always trust your first instinct.] Beneath a comic mask of irony, he conceals an anguish even from himself. A misfit genius, he possesses the gift of revealing a person’s essence with a secret name. [What does that mean?] [Wait, is the secret name Julius Papanicolau?] He can show someone their path in life and forge a bond. Though he desperately needs to use this ability, he is unaware it exists. [Does anyone know it exists? And what do you mean by: He can forge a bond? Is it a kind of bond normal people can't forge?] [What happens if he doesn't use this ability?] This isolates him, lunacy scratching at his door, left with an ache of the soul which he must pretend away. [Is this ache of the soul he pretends away the same as the anguish he conceals even from himself? I'm not sure how much anguish and soul aching you can have over something you don't know exists, but if we must hear about it, once is enough.] [To you, this paragraph conveys the essence of your character's inner conflict. To us it's just vague. What happens in your book?] After a shattering personal loss, he surrenders to madness, abandons his life, and finds himself living naked in a junkyard. Only one woman can bring him peace, a hospice nurse named Alice Goode. [If I'm Alice, and the only way I'm gonna get pregnant is by hitting the sheets with a guy living naked in a junkyard, I'm looking into adoption.]


Which came first: the decision to live naked or the decision to live in a junkyard? I ask only because a junkyard is one of the bottom three places I would want to live if I had no clothes, the other two being an apiary and a maximum security prison.

I'd like a clearer idea of Theodore's power. That he has the gift of revealing a person’s essence with a secret name isn't doing it for me.

How is Alice supposed to find Theodore? Do they even live in the same country? Why would she look for Mr. Right in a junkyard?

The title could lead readers to think Tara is a main character, yet she/he/it isn't in the query. How big a role does Tara play in the book? Does the book end when Tara is born?

Cartoon 392

Caption: anon.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Film Series

In consideration of those attending later performances, the janitorial staff asks that you not leave behind a sticky mess when exiting Evil Editor's Shorts.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Beginning 642

It was three weeks before I left for boarding school when I said to my mom, “I dreamed I was standing in the doorway of an airplane. We were up in the sky, and everybody was yelling ‘jump-jump-jump!’ But I didn’t have a parachute.”

We weren’t packing yet. Mostly tossing all the stuff I didn’t use anymore and wasn’t taking with me. So when I was actually gone, my room would be clean. Or maybe a guest room. I wasn’t sure. I don’t know why I said that thing about the airplane, because up until then, we’d been having a pretty good time.

She had been teasing me about the fact I’d written I LOVE AARON SHARPE about a thousand times on this old notebook I’d found under my bed. I told her I couldn’t care less about the guy. AARON SHARPE had failed his driver’s license test two times this summer and would be taking the bus to high school next fall. And anyway, there was a lifeguard at the pool this year that was completely hotter.

So I went from my notebook to Aaron to the hot lifeguard to my dream, and that was when Mom got all flaky and distant.

"Keep tidying. I'll be right back," she said, and skittered off like a frightened deer. I shrugged and stuffed some old Cosmos into the trash bag.

"We need to talk," Mom said a few minutes later when she came back into the room. "That dream? I know you're almost grown up and going to boarding school, and I know you'll get all sorts of pressure, but you don't
have to have unprotected sex, just 'cause all your friends are telling you it's cool." I could feel my eyes widen and my jaw drop. "There are ways to keep a boy interested without giving him everything . . ." That was when she held up the carrot.

There's nothing like BJ lessons from your Mom to ruin a special Mother-Daughter moment.

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

Cartoon 391

Caption: anon.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Face-Lift 634

Guess the Plot

Dawn's Rise

1. Get up. Come on. It's 6:32 already, Dawn. Have to wash face. Brush teeth. 6:33. Have to get stockings out of dryer. Come on. It's 6:34. Make coffee. Get up, or at least hit the snooze button. The alarm is driving me nuts.

2. Solar flares! Asteroids and earthquakes! All Earth's cities destroyed, refugees battling over the world's remaining resources, and the survivors on the space station struggling just to breathe. Can Dawn rise above the chaos and save the planet from the coming apocalypse. . . before her head explodes?

3. Now that Dawn is running for President, Brenda wants to save America by telling everyone what happened that day at Ridgemont High. But can she evade Dawn's cousin Louie, the hitman from Chicago, long enough to get to her clandestine poolside meeting with hunky reporter Chad Wilson?

4. Dawn Flamingo, trapeze acrobat, does too much blogging and develops carpal tunnel problems that ruin her grip. Circus master Jack fires her. Now a woeful waitress, Dawn can only dream of redemption . . . until fate makes her the first kangaroo whisperer.

5. Searching in the archives for something more interesting than the "one thousand ways to praise the god Saratorn," Raston, the youngest priest in the Order of Eternal Darkness stumbles upon the truth: the darkness is almost over, Aspilon is about to enter its cycle of light. Hunted by the priesthood who want to hide the truth, can Raston get anyone to believe him before . . . Dawn's Rise?

6. Accidentally "murdered" by her idiotic high school chums, Dawn is dumped overboard into the warm waters of the Burmuda triangle, where she encounters a radioactive substance and grows to be 230 feet tall. Now she's coming ashore to get her revenge.

Original Version

Dear Agent

Savior of the Planet. [If I know most agents, they're gonna think that's part of your salutation.]

That's a hell of a job description and not one that Dawn Anami would have chosen for herself, but it was thrust upon her by prophesy. [Did this prophecy name Dawn Anami, or did it just say the planet would be saved by the niece of an Albanian cheese merchant? I only ask because I have a feeling if there's a prophecy declaring that Dawn Anami will be the world's savior, you're gonna suddenly find a multitude of parents naming their kids Dawn Anami.] Now she has to contend with a space station breaking away from Earth, a massive world quake that destroys the cities (all of them!), the combination of an asteroid and solar flares that threaten to annihilate the crippled station and everyone on the ground, plus groups of refugees battling over the world's remaining resources while the survivors on the space station struggle just to breathe. Can she unite the warring factions in time or will they all perish in the coming apocalypse? Or will her mind explode from her unrelenting visions of death and destruction? [It sounds to me like all anyone has to do is open their eyes and they'll see unrelenting visions of death and destruction.]

It's no wonder DAWN'S RISE is 145,000 words long. Facing just about every disaster known to man, she needs every one of them to meet her destiny and save the planet. [It sounds like you mean every disaster, rather than every word. In any case, it's a flimsy justification for submitting a book that long.] I come from a high-tech background where we face crises on a daily basis.

[Boss: Johnson! The system's down!

Johnson: Did you try rebooting?]

I've put that fire-fighting spirit into my writing.


Are you sure this is Earth? At a time when we've advanced to having space stations? Because when all our cities have been destroyed and the apocalypse is upon us, I don't see a lot of earthlings trusting in Dawn Anami to set things right. I see the entire population in Road Warrior mode.

Is Dawn on the space station? If not, why is the space station in the query? It seems pretty trivial compared to the other stuff raining down on us. If she is on the station, how is she supposed to unite warring factions? Are the warring factions on the space station?

The query is mainly a list of bad stuff happening. We need the story. Who is Dawn? When was it prophesied that she would save the planet? What was she doing before all hell broke loose? What are the warring factions at war about? What is Dawn planning to do about it?

Cartoon 390

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Beginning 641

Mother didn’t struggle much when I killed her. The softness of the pillow fluffed away any of those little noises people make when you smother them, and the frailness of her body under mine meant she had little strength for movement by the time I did her this favour. And it was definitely a favour. I think I heard an echo of a whimper in my mind as I softly wrapped the feather-filled cotton over her face. I chose the finest down pillow for her. It was the least I could do. Of course that meant I had to buy it and bring it myself as she would never spend that amount of money on something as insignificant as a pillow. Just another example of how I went out of my way for her, even at the end, just as I had all through her life. Well, okay – not ALL her life, as for most of it I wasn’t even there. But if you are going to be pedantic we will never get through this tale...

When she finally stopped twitching, and I smelt that her body had gone through its final releases, I took the pillow off her face and, before her skin cooled, rearranged her face into the smile I knew and loved. I wanted to do more, I wanted her to be clean and comfortable when the others arrived, I knew she would hate being seen as she was. But to do more would raise questions I was not, at that age, ready to answer. And so I did what I could: I smoothed her smile, found her foundation so her face at least would look radiant and wonderful, and then I went downstairs, made my lunch, and went to school.

In our classroom Johnny pulled me aside and asked me: "How'd it go?"

I told him.

"You idiot," he whispered, "she canceled the matricide assignment 'cause Davey doesn't have one. We were just supposed to research the five times people are most vulnerable to attack."

"Um, when sleeping, when eating, in the shower--" I tried to think of other plausible answers. The bell rang.

"Okay, heads on desks, children," Mrs. Cavanaugh said. "It's nappy time."

Opening: C.J. Sirett.....Continuation: Faceless Minion

New Beginning 640 (horror short story)

Let’s play a game. I’ll tell you about the people in my family, and you guess which one of them is the real crazy. I know what you’re thinking. There’s all kinds of crazy, but I mean the real kind. I’m talking about the kind of crazy that needs to be locked away in a dark place. C’mon; it’ll be fun.

I’ll start with my mom. She’s a real piece of work. She’s depressed. Not bi-polar at all. Just depressed. There isn’t a pharmaceutical or clinical remedy known to mankind that will get her out of bed in daylight hours on a regular basis. I hear she used to be happy, and beautiful, and alive. Now, she just curls up in bed and stares at the wall. If you ask her why, she’ll tell you her eyes are burning.

Every once in a while, my dad would get fed up with the dishes and the smell, and he’d kick her out of bed. He’d kick her until it hurt, and she’d get up and shower. She’d do a little laundry, and rake up the trash. She might even make him dinner afterwards. She’d lie on the sofa and stare at him until he fell asleep. She stared, but she never cried. As soon as he was asleep, it was back to bed for her.

My aunt once told me that my grandma used to lock my mother in the cellar because she was afraid of the dark. It must have worked. She likes the dark now.

So, which one? Give up? Ok, I’ll tell.

It's not my mom. I mean, my mom is depressed, but only economically. She’s been working nights as a minimum wage data entry clerk for BLR Medical, staring at an old CRT monitor for eight hour shifts. Talk about eye strain. And it's not my dad; he’s not crazy at all. He’s just a sadistic wife-beating drunk. As for my grandma, she's the sweetest little old lady you could ever hope to meet. She never once locked my mom up anywhere.

My aunt, however. Schizophrenic pathological liar with acute dissociative identity disorder and a smidgen of delusional parasitosis. She told me that lie about grandma because she thought I was Sookie McFadden, her imaginary CIA handler who orchestrates military coups and installs puppet regimes in Central America every other Thursday armed with only a paperclip, a Zippo lighter, and half a can of Easy Cheese. Total whack job.

Hey, that was fun. How about another game? I know! Wanna guess which one of my siblings is a serial killer?

Opening: Jenny Martin.....Continuation: Blogless_Troll

Cartoon 389

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Face-Lift 633

Guess the Plot

Hound in Blood and Black

1. When 5th grader Sindy Snowden arrives for her second day at school everything is really freaky. She soon realizes that's because her teacher opened a portal to a cartoon world and was replaced by Huckleberry Hound.

2. Louie is the last werehound in Nashville. He spends most of his time listening to old Elvis tunes, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, brooding over the past. Except, of course, when the moon shines and he goes crazy chasing cats and rabbits. Which is exactly how he meets Elvira, Queen of the Night, a washed-up harlot with a kind heart, who thinks he has a future in show business.

3. Thirteen year old Gwendar has made a terrible mistake; he has insulted the dreaded High King Dreadmost. Dreadmost casts Gwendar into the royal kennel for punishment. There, Gwendar must fight amongst the hounds for his very survival. But Gwendar does more than survive, he rises to become leader of the pack.

4. Her nickname: Hound. Her occupation: zombie poacher. But on this futuristic Earth, zombies aren't killed; they're captured and pitted against each other in gladiatorial combat. When Hound gets bitten by a zombie, will she lose her humanity and be forced to fight other zombies for the entertainment of the rabble?

5. The Hound of the Baskervilles is not dead, merely in hiding. It's going to take all the wits of Dr. Watson's ten-year old descendant, Emma, to deal with this one - and where's Holmes when you really need him? Reincarnated as a rabbit! How is he going to survive this time?

6. When reporter Vali Thorres finds artist Luke Klaus's most vocal critic with his throat ripped out, he follows the blood to one of Klaus's paintings. Before he can call the police, both trail and body vanish. Thorres must find a way to restore Klaus's soul before the creatures he bargained with are unleashed.

Original Version

Dear Agent,

Kumari is a wrangler; a poacher [a puppet, a pirate, a poet,] and a gambler who catches zombies and fights them against one another as gladiators. All she wanted to do was live and die without becoming a monster. [As the rest of the query is in present tense, that sentence may as well be, too.] In a broken Earth populated by undead, slavers, drought and greed, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Kumari’s simple life changes from one of survival to something much more complicated [Can a life centered around capturing zombies and pitting them against other zombies in the arena really be called "simple"?] when she wins a girl in a risky gamble – a child-slave desperate to find something to live for in the world Kumari has forsaken – [What is the world Kumari has forsaken?] and is forced to kill her closet friend when he is bitten by an undead. [This wouldn't have happened if her friend had come out of the closet.] When running to a new city in hopes of escaping her pain causes more problems than it solves, Kumari faces the loss of the only thing worth living for when she is infected by a zombie bite: her humanity.

HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK, complete at approximately 100,000 words, is science fiction/horror. Kumari’s story explores a new kind of future where existing isn’t just about running from and killing zombies [like it is in most other books about the future], but fighting them against each other in gladiatorial combat – the only way left for mankind to prove to themselves that they aren’t the real monsters.

In January 2009, my short story Savage was published in Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror by Permuted Press. Recently, Savage was republished in the April 2009 issue of the Apex online magazine. [Now I've expanded it into this novel in hopes of milking it for yet another paycheck.]

Thank you for your consideration,

Author's note (not part of query): The title comes from the following: Kumari's nickname is Hound, black marks are the highest ranking matches for a wrangler to participate in, and the blood refers to how the zombies are prepped for combat (coated in human blood to make them fight each other). [Coated in whose human blood?] When Kumari becomes a gladiator herself, and fights the zombies in the pit, she's no exception. So Hound in Blood and Black refers to Kumari when she fights under black marks, painted in blood.


There's too much about the world and not enough about the story. No need to tell us it's a world in which zombies fight as gladiators in both the first and third paragraphs. Instead, give us more about the child-slave, who I assume is a major player.

When it takes almost as many words to explain your title as it does to summarize your plot, it's time to find a simpler title.

If the hound in the title is your main character, you might want to refer to her as "Hound" at least once in the query. Of course this action won't be necessary when you change the title to Zombie Gladiators of Lorkha Tau.

On the other hand, you will have to change your setting to Lorkha Tau.

Everyone knows vampire bites turn you into a vampire and zombies eat your brains. This is like writing a book in which sharks solve crimes and detectives eat surfers.

Do zombie fights take place in a coliseum, with wranglers just providing the zombies, or is it more like cockfighting, where the wrangler brings her zombie to some pit in the boondocks where people gamble on fights?

Do zombie gladiators need swords? Can't they just plod around waiting for their opponents' limbs to fall off?

Cartoon 388

Caption: Anon.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Face-Lift 632

Guess the Plot

Honor Bound

1. Vesper Fitzhawke swore an oath to the new King of England, and is now honor-bound to marry a Scotsman! What was she thinking? Will she honor her oath or will she fall in with Odo the malevolent bishop?

2. Christy never wanted an arranged marriage, even if it is to the elf prince. She doesn't believe in this "fate bound" nonsense everyone is gushing, so she resolves to run away. Can she find true love amongst the magic and sorcery of the enchanted woods?

3. The six girls at Springdale Reform House swear never to reveal which of them is the vampire, but the zombie can't get anything straight and blurts it out. When junior counselor Tabitha Thompson realizes a third of her charges are already dead, she must decide, among other things, whether to tell Nurse Williams to skip their flu shots.

4. Rubi Stevens is a housekeeper by day, dominatrix by night. When one of her clients turns up dead and Rubi is framed for murder, she must unravel the mystery before she loses both her jobs.

5. The 4:00 stage to Honor, Texas rattles across the desert. On board are four passengers: a shotgun-toting killer, a chain-smoking pyromaniac, a whore who won't shut up, and a bible-quoting dynamite salesman who just wants to get his 200 pounds of product safely to town--and maybe save a few souls on the way. This is their story.

6. A giant, mutant serpent is slithering through the sewers below the beautiful duplexes of Pleasant Pines. First cats, then dogs, then children disappear. It's not until the serpent rears its head out of Miss Honor Wilhelmina Pringle's toilet that it meets its match.

Original Version

Dear Agent:

As William the Conqueror’s sons battle for his throne, Vesper must prove her honor to others and her worthiness to herself. Interweaving fiction with actual events and historical characters, Honor Bound (about 130,000 words) is a historical fiction that blends political intrigue, feudal honor, and romance, set in a world where treacherous plots abound and misplaced trust is fatal. [I would put the second sentence at the end of the plot. Or put the first sentence at the beginning of the plot.]

The year is 1088 and England is torn asunder by rebellion. To keep her estate Havre de Grace—[Translation: Graceland.] the most important thing in the world to her—Vesper Fitzhawke gives her oath of fealty to the new king. [We don't need the part about her estate being important to her.] Once she is honor bound to obey him, the wily ruler commands her to wed against her will and sends her on a dangerous, clandestine mission in his fight to save his throne from his brother’s efforts to supplant him.

Grim Eryvine, the exciting, but infuriating Scottish warrior she is forced to marry, [One wonders if she'd have pledged her loyalty to the king if she'd known she'd have to marry a Scotsman.] [Though it could've been worse. She could've been stuck with a Welshman.] [You can be pretty sure your marriage is gonna be grim when you marry a guy named Grim.]

[King: I've chosen a husband for you.
Vesper: Who is he?
King: He's Grim.
Vesper: Damn. What's his name?
King: It's Grim.
Vesper: Yes, but what is it?
King: I just told you.
Vesper: His name is Ijus Tolju?
King: It's Grim.
Vesper: You can say that again.]

is a wanderer and a loner. He scorns the role of estate holder and adamantly opposes being bound to one person or one place. For those reasons—and because Grim believes that women do not have the necessary sense of honor to hold true to a sworn oath—he clashes with Vesper and sparks fly. Even so, Grim is irresistibly drawn to the beautiful and strong-willed demoiselle he is forced to marry. As he plunges deeper into a web of desire and longing for her, he grows to fear that she loves Havre de Grace more than she could love any man and would even commit treason to possess it. [She already possesses it, having pledged fealty to the king, so why would he be concerned with her committing treason?]

Vesper and Grim immediately find themselves entangled in the Machiavellian schemes of Odo, the malevolent Bishop of Bayeux. [This scene from the Bayeux Tapestry shows Odo; if you look closely you can see him on the king's right. Click on the picture for an enlargement.

Odo being one of the great characters of all time, it's a mistake to not even mention him until paragraph four. A better opening hook for the query would be: When the mysterious Odo takes the shape of the Bishop of Bayeux, it's just a matter of time before the English throne falls, in my novel Odo is in this Book; You Simply Must Have It. Note that I managed to work Odo into the title to ensure readers will grab it from bookstore shelves.] The devious bishop secretly leads the rebellion against the untried English ruler [by shape-shifting into the king's most trusted servant] and seeks to suborn Vesper into treason with a tantalizing promise. In exchange for her help, the would-be usurper will grant her control of her land unencumbered by an unwanted husband. Vesper now confronts the draconian choice of fulfilling her oath to the king and performing the difficult tasks given to her, [That last part is vague; delete it.] or committing treason in exchange for a most enticing reward.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

I look forward to hearing from you. [Delete that. As you may have noticed, we're trying to shorten this.]

Very truly yours,


Is this historical romance or a historical novel with some romance thrown in? It sounds like the former, as you give more play to the Vesper/Grim relationship than to the political intrigue and treacherous plots, so call it a romance if that's what it is.

It's well-written; just get it down to three plot paragraphs and one concluding paragraph and trim it a bit.

Vesper loses her estate if she doesn't marry Grim, but Grim has no interest in estate ownership or marriage, so why would he marry Vesper?

The king sends Vesper on a clandestine mission, the bishop recruits her to help him oust the king . . . Why does everyone want this woman on their side? What is it about Vesper that qualifies her to do stuff that would normally fall to James Bond?

Fitzhawke. Vesper Fitzhawke. Nope, doesn't have the same ring to it.

Cartoon 387

Caption: Faceless Minion

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Film Series

Time once again to poke your head into Evil Editor's Shorts.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Guess the Title

Below are descriptions (taken from of eight published books in the category "food memoir." Your job is to guess which is the book's actual title.

1. From failure to fusilli, this deliciously hilarious read tells the story of the author's fizzled romances and the mouth-watering recipes she used to seduce her men, smooth over the lumps, and console herself when the relationships flamed out.

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Boudoir
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Eating my Way to Happiness
It's All About the Gravy
Sleeping Beauty's Midnight Snacks
101 Ways Food is Better than Men

2. Nearing 30 and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, the author resolved to reclaim her life by cooking, in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Saucy Lady
Child in the Kitchen
Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Step One: Learn French
If I'd Known How Fat I Was Going to Get, I Never Would Have Started
Either This Cookbook Sucks or I Can't Cook: How I screwed up 524 recipes in 365 days

3. Imagine Elizabeth David crossed with Richard Pryor—to create the most profound and profane cookbook you’ll ever read.

Eat Me
Kiss My Grits, My Carrots and My Pork Butt
Black Beans and Alfredo Sauce
Deep-Fried Philosophy
Eats and Bleeps
The Complete Book of Aphrodisiacs

4. A lyrical journey from Korea to New Orleans to Paris and Provence, along the way serving forth the author's favorite recipes.

Cajun Kim Chee With Bearnaise Sauce
Around the World in 80 Courses
Korea Tortilla.
Cooking in Magellan's Wake
The Road to Flavor
Trail of Crumbs

5. Women from different centuries tell you about the meals of their time. You can learn about a meal that Anne Boleyn enjoyed at Hampton Court with Henry VIII, eat a meal with Emily Dickinson, and celebrate Passover with Emma Goldman.

Barefoot and in the Kitchen Over the Centuries
Dinners with Famous Women: From Cleopatra to Indira Gandhi
It's No Wonder Our Life Expectancy was 46 With the Crap We Ate
Eight Centuries of Gossip at the Dinner Table
Dining with Dames
What We Ate and When We Ate It

6. An insightful, entertaining, scrupulously reported exploration of China's foodways and a swashbuckling memoir studded with recipes.

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
The Magic Frying Pans of Chunking
Lo Mein on the High Seas: A Memoir.
The Pirates of Chuan Yue Lu
Eating a Path Through the East
Fried Scorpions, Live Octopus, and Leeches: A Tour of Authentic Chinese Restaurants

7. As the author delivers his recipes to us, he invites us to share his family’s age-old passion for the pig and to celebrate the long, delicious history between man and swine.

You Are What You Eat, Pig
Having the Cohens to Dinner
Hog History 101
Of Pigs and Porkers
The Non-Kosher Cookbook
Pork & Sons

8. At the age of thirty–seven, the author left a lucrative career as a jeweler to become a chef. Instead of going back to school, or getting on–the–job training, he did it the hard way: he bought the restaurant and then taught himself to cook.

What the Hell Was I Thinking?
Man and his Meatballs
The Mid-Life Crisis Bar and Grill
Diamond in the Roughage
From Carats to Carrots: A Tale of Desire
Bass-Ackwards, or How I Went from a Million-Dollar Business to a Money Pit

Answers Below.

Fake Titles Contributed by:

Dave F.
Faceless Minion
Rick Daley
Evil Editor

Actual Book Titles

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Eat Me
Trail of Crumbs
Dinners with Famous Women: From Cleopatra to Indira Gandhi
Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
Pork & Sons
Man and his Meatballs

New Beginning 639

Shit, last cigarette. Wonder if the CVS on 8th and E is still open… As I flick the butt into the gutter, the realization of how screwed I am hits me. Of course, there’s no one but myself to blame for this. Once again waiting for a miracle, and when it didn’t happen, I act surprised. As if this hasn’t happened before…or rather, as if I hadn’t laid the groundwork to set myself up for this before now. “The definition of crazy is going through the same actions and expecting different results.” That’s an apt description of the past three years, Dr. Pruitt, and completely unhelpful. Time to take stock of my situation, maybe that will keep my mind occupied for a few minutes, push back immediate reality for a few minutes at least. First the good news: I have 165 dollars in my wallet, a credit card, a debit card and my driver’s license. Now the touch of gray on that silver lining: I’m not graduating like I told everyone, I’m effectively homeless and friendless, and I’ve been a colossal disappointment to the three people who matter most in my life. See point three (or two or four, depending on how you count). A fine mess I’ve gotten myself into this time, Ollie. I doubt anyone would get that bit. Not because I’m the only one who’s ever watched early twentieth century cinema, but because Ollie's the one who actually delivered the line. Plus, I've made it self-referential, and I intentionally used the oft-misquoted “fine mess” instead of “nice mess” which is kind of my ironic meta-commentary on the futility of lasting pop culture—wait a minute. Christ, I had this same conversation with myself last time I ran out of smokes. Dr. Pruitt’s right. Something’s gotta change. Forget CVS. I’m going to 7-11.

Opening: AZ.....Continuation: Blogless_Troll

Cartoon 386

Caption: D. Lemma

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Face-Lift 631

Guess the Plot

Star Child

1. Susan's had a rough pregnancy so far, and the worst may be yet to come. How will she handle learning that her precious newborn is a ball of flaming hydrogen and helium?

2. Jessie can usually see things coming, but she never anticipated the elderly woman arriving on her doorstep on her 21st birthday asking if she's "come into the family magic yet." Seems her birth parents weren't exactly what she thought.

3. High school student Jenna Baker is proclaimed to be the prophesied Star Child, destined to lead the Aurian Empire to peace. But not so fast! Fellow student Matthew Sparks is also proclaimed to be the Star Child. Suddenly the two are on the brink of a war that could destroy an empire and cause them to miss several days of school.

4. Annabelle thought being born the same day a star fell was a good omen--until the other children who share her birthday start vanishing. Now Annabelle must rescue the others before the sun goes nova.

5. With more gold stars than all of her second grade classmates combined, Jessica becomes trapped in an alternate reality where chewing gum is encouraged and wrong answers rewarded. Will it all go down on her permanent record?

6. When Sol donates Earth to the Stellar Soccer League, Maryanne’s life is shaken to pieces. With the aid of a giant plasmaphone, can she convince the kindly Rigel to boot them back to Sol?

Original Version

When sixteen-year-old Jenna Baker stumbles upon another world, and is heralded as the awaited chosen one, it all seems too good to be true—and it is.

Snooping in the bedroom of top student and social outcast Matthew Sparks, Jenna discovers a key that unlocks the world of Auria, where the Magus of the Empire convinces her that she is the anticipated Star Child. [We're moving awfully fast here. Is this a literal key? Into what does she insert it? What's she doing alone in Matthew's bedroom?] Accompanied by a cocky elven prince and an Ahani warrior woman, Jenna journeys for the whispers of an ancient riddle that will lead her home [Home to her high school or home to her empire? Also, what do you mean "journeys for the whispers"?] and mend the rifts between nations.

But when Jenna learns the Magus is from her world too, ["Her world" meaning Auria? Or Earth?] and is using her to conquer the last free peoples for the Empire, she questions whether she is really the one Auria has waited for. When Matthew attempts to rescue Jenna and is proclaimed the Star Child by the Magus’ enemies, the two find themselves on the brink of a war that could destroy everything and leave them trapped in Auria forever.

[Aurian 1: The long-awaited Star Child has finally appeared to us. She shall bring us peace evermore.

Aurian 2: The Star Child is here, true, and peace is upon us, but it's not a she, it's a he, and he appeared to us.

Aurian 1: Bullshit! Your Star Child is clearly a fraud.

Aurian 2: We shall settle this in the manner of our ancestors: all-out war.]

Star Child is a young adult fantasy, complete at 72,000 words. I have drawn on my background in archaeology and linguistics to create a world of cultural, linguistic, and political depth. Polynesian myth weaves through the book, as well as shadows of Roman, Hittite, and Mesopotamian culture. I am currently working on the sequel.

My story “X” was published in the literary magazine Y as their 2007 fiction contest winner. I also won the Z fiction contest in 2000, and my non-fiction is online at A. I joined the collective of B [If you're part of the Borg collective, put that in the first paragraph. It's a major selling point.] in 2008 and currently work in literary acquisitions and marketing. [In addition, my C and D are E, F and G, and H will be I in J when K Ls.]

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


Aren't these kids a little old to be the Star Child? Maybe it should be the Star Adolescent.

What does the Magus do besides tell Jenna she's the chosen one? Does he tell her to journey with an elf and an Amazon? Where and why? Shouldn't he stay with her?

Is Auria a planet? A galaxy? A video game? Are these high school kids supposed to lead armies in war?

Cartoon 385

Caption: Evil Editor

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Beginning 638

When the alarm screamed out, I watched them run for the elevators, moving people out of their way as they ran the length of narrow hall, carpeted for quiet. What I’d just seen was the truth of what they were underneath all their strong pretending.

Then, later on, when it was all over, I watched them being really nice and polite and polished up again. But I knew. I still knew, and I wouldn’t let them work on me to make me forget what they were underneath all that polite pinstriped suit crap, down under their skin.

They don’t trust you after that, which makes them act really nice afterward around you, like they’re saying without words just forget about that just forget about all that, that didn’t mean a thing.

But it meant everything. It was another one of those there are two kinds of people in this world instances. And there really are, you know. There really are only two.

There's people like them, people who act all high and mighty, like they never do it, like they never would do it, like they don't do it all the time except they don't get caught.

And then there's people like me, people who aren't afraid to pee in the middle of the office hallway when the need arises.

Opening: Robin S......Continuation: Adam Heine

Cartoon 384

Caption: Whirlochre

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Below are descriptions of eight published cookbook/memoirs. Each has a somewhat amusing title. Your job is to come up with fake titles for any or all of them, to be used in a "Guess the Title" quiz.

1. From failure to fusilli, this deliciously hilarious read tells the story of the author's fizzled romances and the mouth-watering recipes she used to seduce her men, smooth over the lumps, and console herself when the relationships flamed out.

2. Nearing 30 and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, the author resolved to reclaim her life by cooking, in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

3. Imagine Elizabeth David crossed with Richard Pryor—to create the most profound and profane cookbook you’ll ever read.

4. A lyrical journey from Korea to New Orleans to Paris and Provence, along the way serving forth the author's favorite recipes.

5. Women from different centuries tell you about the meals of their time. You can learn about a meal that Anne Boleyn enjoyed at Hampton Court with Henry VIII, eat a meal with Emily Dickinson, and celebrate Passover with Emma Goldman.

6. An insightful, entertaining, scrupulously reported exploration of China's foodways and a swashbuckling memoir studded with recipes.

7. As the author delivers his recipes to us, he invites us to share his family’s age-old passion for the pig and to celebrate the long, delicious history between man and swine.

8. At the age of thirty–seven, the author left a lucrative career as a jeweler to become a chef. Instead of going back to school, or getting on–the–job training, he did it the hard way: he bought the restaurant and then taught himself to cook.

New Beginning 637

"Inhabitants of the Kingdom are being slaughtered! What are you doing about it?"

Those were the words which greeted me as I came before Eschae, the Kingdom Mare. I had been summoned in the wee hours of the night without being told what the emergency was. Now I knew. Unfortunately, I still didn't know what in the hell she was talking about.

"I'm sorry, Miss Mare. I don't know anything about a slaughter."

She stomped her foot and swished her tail angrily. "I thought not!" She paced, blowing heavily. I had not seen her this angry before. "Just what in the hell do I have a Special Agent Task Force for if not to prevent this type of thing from happening? You are my top agent. We are currently faced with the worst disaster the Kingdom has ever faced and you're telling me you don't know anything about it! Just what do you know?"

If you've ever been called on the carpet before your boss for something which wasn't your fault, you probably understand how I felt. For one thing, while I was officially listed as the Agency's top agent, I was not the chief inspector. That was Mairden.

As though reading my thoughts, she snorted and declared, "Mairden is a fool, but I expected better from you."

I took a step back as she reared up, sending a powerful ripple through her lean, muscled flanks. But for all her anger, still I had no ideas. It seemed that ever since the Court hired that new, French chef . . . Hey, wait a minute . . .

Opening: Bevie.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 383

Caption: Whirlochre

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Beginning 636

I stood in the land of shadows staring at a world of light. Tendrils of darkness circled my legs, scuttled up my back and twisted around my wings, and for a moment I looked back the way I’d come. Ominous mountains impaled low-hanging clouds, and in the distance a shining black castle perched above a ravenous sea. Studying the familiar caves, the places I had explored as a child, I waited for the single tear to well up in my eye, reminding me of all I was giving up. Nothing came.

I cast the darkness from my limbs and slid my toes to the place where stones met grass. The blades tickled my feet, welcoming me, but the forest that rose before me was not so inviting. Ancient trees reached toward the sky, their roots and branches entwined, and within them lurked creatures even I would find strange. This great green beast stretched on for miles, its brambles creeping between tree trunks like extended claws. Did I dare disturb its slumber?

In response to my own trepidation, I lifted a foot and stepped into the forest of the Seelie Court.

At first, I heard just the wind in the trees, like a clique whispering about the new girl; then, I heard rhythmic chanting, growing louder and louder: "guil-TY! guil-TY! guil-TY!"

As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I saw them. An improbable procession sliding through the trees, approaching me, led by a clown with orange hair and a rabbit on a pogo stick.

"Guil-TY!" Boing. "Guil-TY!" Boing, boing.

"Guilty!" The rabbit shouted.

The clown balanced a spotted, boiled egg on his nose. "The egg says, boil her in custard!"


"The egg says, circumcise him with a cheese grater!"


The crowd fell silent. All eyes fell on me. I cursed my stupidity. Through my poor sense of direction and faulty memory, I had stumbled into the forest of the Silly Court.

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

Cartoon 382

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday Film Series

This week, what you'll find
in Evil Editor's Shorts
should be obvious.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Face-Lift 630

Guess the Plot

Heavens Gate

1. When Roger sneaks off for a tryst with his best friend's wife, they step out on the hotel balcony to admire the view and are shocked to see their spouses frolicking in the pool. Roger freaks out. No wonder Nancy didn't mind him "working late" and going to monthly "conventions!" Now he's desperate to save his marriage! What will it take?

2. After Monty gets murdered, he's reborn as an angel. God sends him to save the earth from some very bad angels, a task Monty might be able to handle thanks to his special powers, but then that bastard Satan has to get involved. Is Monty on a collision course with Armageddon?

3. Aunt Trina got just that far, then turned back. Now she's interfering in Mandy's driving lessons, Todd's job promotion, and everybody's cell talk. Jackie's only hope is to lure her into the flying car of Mad Felix, terrible red-eyed ghost of Aunt Sally's cat, so he can levitate her out past the moon, and leave her there. Can it be done?

4. Two political-correctness-challenged angels find themselves locked out of heaven and must track down the key before Satan's minions can do a little 'breaking and entering.' But when both Angels fall for the same mortal--a single mom named Nellie--how will they save heaven and keep their friendship intact? Especially since Nellie is...*CHOKE, GASP*, an atheist?

5. Saint Peter installs a digital system and takes his first break in 1990 years. All goes well until sirens blare and Heaven's Gate slams shut on winsome Nell O'Brien. It's a false alarm, but Paddy McGann can't make it stop. Soon thousands of irate souls are waiting to get in. When Joe Thomkins leads them in chanting for refunds, Paddy knows -- it's time to call God.

6. As Bud Emery worked his way through the first 23,844 heavens his enthusiasm waned. Now he's just dallying around, plunking tuneless noise on the harp, waiting for the chance to escape. Which is exactly what Wanda Higgins is doing on the other side of the cloud! What will happen when these two misfits take flight and collide???

7. Based on the mail they get, postman Jeff Dunbar doesn't believe the "Heaven's Gate" people are really a bunch of prayerful zealots preparing to leave Earth on the next comet. They're more likely making bombs. But how can he prove it to Deputy Jackson?

8. Homicide dectective Zack Martinez knows that "Heaven's Gate" is the code name of the box super spy Tina Shoemaker was supposed to pick up at the secret drop off. Too bad she lost her head instead. Now Zack must find the axeman before Gorilla Jones does, or there'll be another head rolling around.

9. After being told she was special all her life, Tiffany Barns did not expect to go to Hell. But she did. After burning for a week, she was so obnoxious about the unfairness of it all, even Satan wanted to kick her out. So he bet God she'd be just as bad the second time around.

10. Rafael was just an ordinary goldsmith, but when he died he found out he had gotten the job of rebuilding Heaven's Gate. If he succeeds his work will be immortalized, but if he fails he'll surely be damned for all time. Can he possibly build a gate that even God Himself can't find fault with?

Original Version

Heavens Gate: Revelations, a 37,267 word novel, is a diverse religious fiction novel revolving around Montgomery “Monty” Graves and his troubled soul. [That sounds too much like Montgomery “Monty” Burns, who also has a troubled soul.] His conflict with God is only exceeded by the pain and anger he carries around daily. At one time he though he had a life full of promise, one secure in God’s love. His life goes crashing downward when his grandmother is murdered by senseless neighborhood violence. Monty then turns his back on the church and loses all belief and faith in God. [At which point he is murdered in senseless neighborhood violence. Coincidence?]

Monty shuffles between foster care homes and is expelled from numerous of schools. Always trying to find his purpose, he never finds the peace he once had when his grandmother was alive. His two friends, Jenaye and B.J., provide one source of comfort but it’s not enough. He tries to begin a relationship with Jenaye but his bitter feelings for God manifest to hatred, making Jenaye afraid to get close to him. [Actually, if you've ever been on a date with someone who wouldn't shut up about God's wonderfulness, you might find it refreshing to be out with someone who constantly spews invective about God.]

Monty gets a top paying job and his arrogance and cut-throat attitude gets him promoted to Vice President [I was under the impression Monty was a teenager. How much time has passed since he was shuffling between foster homes?] of the company.

[Job interviewer: I see your education consists of being expelled from six schools. I'm afraid I can only offer you a high-paying position.

Monty: That's okay, I'm willing to--

Job interviewer: Wait, I see you list as one of your hobbies constantly spewing invective at God. How would you like to be vice president of the company?]

This brings much jealously, including his best friend B.J.. Monty's arrogance has him sitting on top of the world but is about to brought to his knees like never before. Monty is murdered and the reborn as an angel with special powers. Not long after, Monty is summoned by God himself, who tells Monty that seven more angels will be sent to earth, each bearing one of the seven deadly sins of man. God tells Monty that if the earth is to survive then he must defeat these angels. [It's one against seven. Maybe you better tell us what Monty's special powers are.] [Also, as a resident of Earth, I'm not crazy about our survival depending on one guy, who's been constantly spewing invective at God, doing what God wants done.] But when Satan gets involved things take a turn for the worse. [Amazing how often that happens. Coincidence?] Monty embarks on a personal journey fraught with emotional peril. He can either accept his fate or cling to the past on his inevitable crash course towards Armageddon. [Collision course with Armageddon. A crash course is what you take when you have to learn something really fast (or where you work when you're an automobile test-driver).] Earth’s fate belongs to Heavens Gate! [Your big finish would be more effective if I knew what it meant.]

Hello, my name is Jeffrey Brown. I am 29 years old and I currently work as a truck driver. Heavens Gate is my first novel and it is currently self-published. [What does that mean? Self-publishing should come after you give up on finding a publisher, not before you start looking. Now that you've already sold your book to all your friends and family, I can't count on any sales if I publish it.] I believe the my novel can survive in many different mediums and markets because of its diversity. Heavens Gate is creative, visual, and imaginative. Enclosed is a SASE for your response and thank you for taking the time to review my letter.


It's never a good sign when the title is spelled wrong. No way would Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gravity's Rainbow or Portnoy's Complaint have been published if the authors left out the apostrophes. True, Finnegans Wake got published, but the proofreader missed it and the publisher assumed Joyce was using experimental punctuation. Aren't you glad you have EE to provide literary trivia?

The query is loaded with errors. The most glaring may be the missing apostrophe, but there are numerous missing words, misused words and misspelled words.

Why does the title include :Revelations in the first sentence, when it's just Heavens Gate (twice) in the last paragraph? Is Revelations the first book of the Heavens Gate trilogy?

Is God sending the seven angels to Earth? Why, just to see if Monty defeats them? And we all die if he fails? This sounds less like God than like those ethereal cerebral entities on Star Trek who arranged stuff like this just so they could gamble on it.