Alexis guided the cursor over her favorite words. After ten hours in her cubicle, the phrase “Sign Out” was better than any other two words in the English language including “free shipping” and “new episodes”. It was even better than her favorite three word phrase: “number two combo”.
Friday, April 30, 2021
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Guess the Plot
Monsters Like Us
Saturday, April 17, 2021
Evil Editor looked up from the manuscript, eyebrows raised. "Well, Miss Persimmon... You certainly know your target demographic: Wild free spirits, wanderlust, sudden rage; love of bright colors and shiny things; obsession with computer screens; noisy, wild sex and, ah, anus licking...
He adjusted his spectacles. "Anus licking." He paused for a moment. "Frankly, there's just one thing that will prevent this becoming a best seller. Cats can't read."
Miss Persimmon huffed, grabbed her papers and headed for the door.
"Anus licking." Evil Editor repeated quietly to himself, as he reached for the intercom button. "Mrs Varmighan? Would you step in here a moment? There's something I need you to do."
Friday, April 16, 2021
The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1415 would like feedback on the following version:
Wednesday, April 07, 2021
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Guess the Plot
The Counterfeit Girl
1. While building a wild-west theme park, Mindy Lou discovers her deceased grandfather's deed to an abandoned silver mine is an old forgery. She must outwit collectors, pawnbrokers, and museum curators to discover who bilked whom out of what so she can finally bring back the shoot-em-up days.
2. Sitting in a stifling room at the back of a fake shoe store shuffling rubles, dollars, riyals, euros, yen, and yuan is no way to live. Svetlana is bored out of her mind and stuck in a financial rut she'll never escape as the Black Market Currency Exchange Girl. She'd kill to be The Counterfeit Girl -- glamor, opportunity, and a clean restroom.
3. Mindy drew her first perfect fifty dollar bill when she was twelve. Six years later, on the lam from the mob, the FBI, and various world-wide spy agencies, can she fake it as a budding artist in a retro-hippie commune long enough to forge herself a new identity?
4. She was made of yarn and string, a hopeful thing. But at what point does she become real? Dolly sets out to become a real girl, and Pinocchio has nothing on this determined kid.
5. Anniziq was created by the Spanner Corporation to be the ultimate female companion. But what happens when serial number RML-10038291 begins to sense its soul is that of a man?
6. Lela was the cutest Pomeranian in the world until she got caught in the cross-fire between a witchy stepmother and a fairy godfather. Now she's a human girl trying to survive on the streets. Fortunately, she still has the amazing ability to smell like a dog. Unfortunately, she also still smells like a dog.
7. Mary Joan Oswald reinvents herself as Instagram starlet Marisa Oz, hiding her identity as a coding bootcamp student. Her developing feelings for classmate Noel leave her at a crossroads. Down one road is the unrequited true love of a dweeb, down the other a posh NYC dream.
8. After 18 years in Oregon, Trina discovers that her entire life has been spent in China, in a town constructed as a replica of an American town. It's either some kind of experiment or a Chinese plot to destroy the world. Does Trina have what it takes to save us all?
9. Sasha is the criminal underground’s premier go-to for counterfeit bills. These days, she’s printing a revenge plan against her ex-boyfriend, master thief and wanker Darby Kingsley for shafting her on his last score.
She badgers him for details but he’s killed before they can meet. [If I happen to mention a place my girlfriend never heard of and she starts badgering me, I start looking for a girlfriend who's less passionate about geography.] In her parents’ bedroom she discovers a stuffed animal with a tag labeled Made in China [tag]. Tucked inside is a photo bringing back dreams [memories?] of a twin sister no one else remembers. Convinced her sister is held outside town, she tries to escape only to find impregnable forest and maze-like trails. Every call outside Castor’s area code leads to a recorded message. And none of the kids who’ve left for college are ever heard from again.
Friday, March 12, 2021
Patti followed her abductor’s instructions and forced her gaze back to the clear night sky. Jagged edges of pine tree tops scalloped the mural of stars in the night sky. Beside her, Carol screamed through her cloth gag. Patti dared to look away from the sky again. Carol writhed on the ground, trying to free her wrists from the zip ties that bound them beneath her. She kicked her heels uselessly against the grass. Patti knew she should be trying to escape too, but her body was clenched with fear. She couldn’t move, could only alternate darting glances between her friend and the man who stood with his arms raised, palms out.
“Yes!’ he shouted and pointed at the sky. “There! Amhaodhrah chases her prey!”
Patti couldn’t help but look. A shooting star flashed, high and distant. Then Amhaodhrah appeared.
More like a low flying plane coming in for landing than a shooting star, it looked like the sun was streaking through the sky toward them. Its face seemed to stare, impartial as it fell. It lit up the forest in a fast forward of dawn through afternoon.
Finally a humanoid shape began to resolve, an indistinct shadow behind the glare. "I found you," it said. "I have come a long way." The light danced across the man, and the two women on the ground. "Your timing is perfect."
The man dropped to his knees. "What do you have for me, Amhaodhrah?"
"I bring you the light," was the reply. "Because you bought zip ties, duct tape, extra large Tuf-T bags, a shovel and our special Hiding Things in the Wilderness Where They'll Never be Found guide book, you get one of these nifty extra bright bluetooth GPS head lights as our gift to you.
"And it's Amanda. The name is Amanda. It's on my badge."
Patti's body tensed; she wanted to kick and scream through her bonds: On her last trip to Home Depot she spent over a thousand bucks and only got a measly apple corer for free.
Opening: Amanda Barrett .....Continuation: ril
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
As I'm revising the rough draft of my novel, I see that I need practice in narrative structure. I am thinking of practicing structure by writing some short stories. Rather than come up with a bunch of new ideas, I was going to rework scenes from the novel into short stories.If I wanted to submit any of these stories to magazines, would it be a problem if I eventually complete the novel and submit it for publication? Do I need to alter the stories enough to separate them from the novel? I thought it happened sometimes that characters or ideas first appear in short story format but I don't know if that's a bygone practice or part of a marketing scheme, or what.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The three of them marched purposefully to a halt and peered over the black-and-silver waves.
“I can see it,” said the first one, nodding at some spot not too far out on the water. He pointed with four fingers, his hand held out like a cleaver. “There.”
“So half the ground is covered,” said the second one.
“Which means,” said the third one, “that nothing remains except that final, fickle, determinative one percent.”
The first one gave an ironic wince. “If it happens, it happens.” He cupped his hands around his mouth and blew a long, soft breath out at the ocean. The wind picked it up and carried it just beyond the breakers, where the water stilled and something compact and formless floated upward from the depths. A pale oval. As it neared the surface, its topology and colors were resolved by the moonlight: a human face, detached from whatever body might have carried it to warmth and firmness, staring up in pain and horror from beneath the cold salt sea.
"Well, that's not entirely true," another voice affirmed.
The first three turned rapidly at the unexpected voice. The fifth one just wore a contemptuous smile. (No, he was the fifth one. The fourth one was the one who floated up from the sea. Although it was just a face, so not really a whole fourth one. Maybe just ten percent or so. So the fifth one was probably just four and two tenths.)
"What is your meaning?" The second one asked in a questioning voice.
The fifth one, or more accurately 4.2, shrugged and replied, "Well, if half the ground was covered, that means a headmost, reasonable, stable forty percent remains."
"Forty?" the first one questioned. They all looked at each other. Except 0.2 (the head), who let out a wail and sank back to the depths, knowing these four fools could never make him whole because they're all shit at math.
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: ril
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1411 would like feedback on the following revision:
Dear Evil Editor,
The blood on her hands no longer troubles Leudora. What keeps her awake at night is the chilling suspicion that her crimes might have been in vain.
A decade ago, Leudora had her major enemies eliminated - the scientist known as the Dalmatian Serpent, and his followers, who sought her people’s blood. A ruthless guardian of her kin and an unscrupulous politician, Leudora lived with her guilty conscience for as long as the invisible barrier that shields civilization from madness remained intact. Only [But] it is no longer so. When the Veil starts to fade, slowly poisoning the air and endangering those, [no comma] whom she once sought to protect, Leudora wants answers.
She does not expect her answers to confirm the Dalmatian Serpent’s theories: those are Leudora’s own people, who conduct bloody experiments to protect themselves from their powerful neighbors, causing the Veil’s degradation. Once rumors about their affairs spread, not only the culprits, but all her people will become scapegoats. Trying to prevent a war and stop the Veil’s decay, Leudora turns to her enemy’s works and searches for the culprits. [I don't like "culprits" twice in two sentences. In fact I don't like it either time. I'd shorten this paragraph to:
She does not expect it when the answers confirm the Dalmatian Serpent’s theories: Leudora’s own people, conducting bloody experiments to protect themselves from their powerful neighbors, are causing the Veil’s degradation. If this gets out, not only the guilty, but all her people will be blamed. Trying to prevent a war and stop the Veil’s decay, Leudora turns to her enemy’s works.
Is it odd to refer to "her enemy" when talking about a guy she eliminated a decade ago? Maybe She turns to the Serpent's spellbook (or research or whatever it is, more specific than "works."]
The deeper she delves into the Dalmatian Serpent’s secrets, the more Leudora finds herself drawn to his fascinating mind and dark science. If she follows in his footsteps, her kin will turn against her. [All of them, or just the "culprits"?] If Leudora stays loyal to her people, she will have to side with those, [no comma] who may bring them all to the verge of extinction, betraying the legacy of a man,[no comma] whom she knows to be right.
Byzantine Purple is an adult fantasy set in an alternative version of Eastern Europe[comma] complete at 103,000 words. The novel stands alone but is envisioned as the first book in a trilogy. It combines the conflicted protagonist of The Masquerade Series and the political intrigue of A Memory called Empire.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Much better. I mostly nit-picked.
If she knows what's causing the veil problem, seems like she should know who's causing it. If it's just a few of Leudora's people who are causing it, and they refuse to stop, eliminating them seems like an easier solution for this ruthless unscrupulous character than hoping to find some magical way to save the veil.
Do the people causing the degradation of the veil know they're causing it? They can't want their air poisoned, so why don't they stop? Don't they care?
Friday, February 12, 2021
Guess the Plot
Monday, February 08, 2021
Samantha allowed the front runners to escape. Let them tell the tale. A straggler though; he would serve a different purpose.
She pulled an arrow from its quiver and nocked it against the bowstring. Drew. Relaxed into the rhythm of the horse beneath her. Aimed. Felt the wind. Gauged the distance. Adjusted. Loosed.
The arrow whizzed beside the ear of the soldier's horse, a mosquito’s buzz without the bite. The spooked horse whirled, throwing the rider.
Snowflake slowed and Samantha leapt down, landing in a crouch. She dropped her bow to the ground and gripped the hilt of Justiciana.
The soldier groaned. On seeing her striding toward him, he hauled himself to his feet. She smiled to see it, lips curling back from her teeth.
Samantha unsheathed her rapier, relishing the whisper of steel on leather. She flourished her blade at him as he fumbled for his own.
No need to bloody Justiciana on this bumbling oaf, she thought, tossing the sword aside. Feeling the wind again, she gauged the distance. Aimed. Adjusted. Loosed. With a loud rumbling the stench traveled to the soldier's nostrils and filled his lungs.
Samantha's foe dropped dead to the ground without a drop of blood shed. She thanked her spirit guardian for the offal stew she ate last night then turned for the long and tiring ride home.
But to her horror she found her adjustment had been poorly judged: such was the power of Fartistica's magic, Snowflake had melted clean away.
Opening: Amanda Barrett..... Continuation: ril
Saturday, February 06, 2021
Guess the Plot
The Rooster Sutra
1. A serial killer who kills only occultists is targeting Tanya, an aspiring occultist who resembles a rooster. Can Tanya's Buddhist mentor, the only pacifist in the occultism industry, set aside her beliefs long enough to rescue Tanya? Also, a beatnik.
2. An illustrated collection of proverbs for children, recited in anuṣṭubh meter by a rooster named Shakuntala and his barnyard pals.
3. Bo-Jo's family has been running a chicken farm for six generations. Rather than a sweeping family saga full of passion and drama, here are the rules they've lived by. And how to cover up a murder.
4. This is not your mother's Ugly Duckling or Chicken Little. Barnyard birds are getting into it, and the other inhabitants of Old MacDonald's Farm are braying, barking, and oinking in prurient glee.
5. Tarragon is a backyard chicken and reincarnation of -- well, Sanskrit isn't easy when you're a bird. Can he convey his wisdom to the world, or will the neighbors convince his owners that the path to his next incarnation should be coq au vin?
6. Ginger-haired Detective Gallus’s latest case is a fraternity student found dead in a rooster costume on campus. When a second student turns up dead under similar circumstances, Gallus goes undercover into the underground world of a new society known as “The Cockfighters.”
7. Studies show that 4 hours of sleeping upright yields the same benefits as lying prone for 8. Find techniques for "roosting" in this self-help sleep guide to self inducing a trance-like state and selecting a perch for you and your lovebird(s).
8. Sutras, suitors, sutures.... All Bantam knows is that when the chicken hits the fryer (i.e. his Bollywood-style wedding goes up in flames when his fiancée elopes with a Cornish hen), a rooster's gotta do what a rooster's gotta do.
9. Old Man MacDougall is fed up. His hens are hysterical, he's seeing twice the usual number of feathers around the coop, and his precious eggs have actually been hatching... The only clue: mysterious chicken scratches on the wall of the coop. The perpetrator: an ordinary-looking rooster who has discovered that attracting ladies isn't just about looks. This rooster Casanova will give his all to help his sexy hen babes escape the farm.
Dear Ruinous Reviser:
Only one of Keket Cheshire’s teammates has died on the job, and she is resolved that that number doesn’t go up. Still, only one death is an impressive record for the only pacifist in the occultism industry, with its 40% mortality rate and sociopathic competition. [Logging and commercial fishing, the two most dangerous professions (besides occultism), have a combined mortality rate of about 1%. The US Civil War had a mortality rate of 20%.] [Is that 40% annually? Because that would wipe out the industry in short order.]
During a mission gone sour, a high-school girl named Tanya Gallo is nearly killed by Keket’s slip-up. [Does this happen after Keket resolves that the number of her teammates she kills won't go up? Sure, almost killing your teammates is an improvement over killing them, but . . .] [Also, I need to look up "occultist" and find out why they get involved in so many missions that lead to death.] . . . [Okay, Wikipedia's List of Occultists is pretty long, but here's a sampling: Plato, Nostradamus, Sir Isaac Newton, Marquis de Sade, Arthur Conan Doyle, Adolf Hitler, Jim Morrison, David Bowie . . . Hmm, what do they all have in common? They're all dead! 100% mortality rate! Why hasn't anyone else looked into the connection between occultists and death?] Tanya is smitten, with Keket, and even moreso [more so. There seems to be some controversy over whether moreso is a word, but Blogger has underlined it in red, and that's good enough for me.] [Of course Blogger also underlines Keket in red, and my phone's auto-correct thinks Keket is kookoo.] with her profession. [Occultism is a profession? I wonder if it's hard for employment recruiters to convince people to go into a profession with a 40% mortality rate.] Occultism promises escape from a reality where Tanya is mired in poverty and powerlessness. [She has a 40% chance of escaping.] Wanting to impress Keket and become an occultist herself, Tanya seeks out tantric magic. An aging beatnik takes her on as a student and encourages her to use magic without hesitation… or concern for its consequences. [Use it to do what?] [Also, since when do high school students listen to any advice from an adult?]
Meanwhile, a moralizing serial killer is spring cleaning the occultism industry of anyone he deems unworthy, with Keket the only exception. [If he kills every occultist except Keket, the mortality rate of occultism will be approximately 100%.] [How do we know Keket is the only exception? Just because she hasn't been killed yet? Or has the killer informed her that she's not a target, and she believes him?] Tanya and the killer soon end up on a collision course and Keket is forced to decide: Is she willing to put her pacifism aside and her teammates at risk to clean up a mess she created, or [will she] turn a blind eye and preserve the life she worked so hard to cultivate? [Not clear how Keket created the mess. There seem to be two messes, one caused by the aging beatnik and the other by the serial killer.]
THE ROOSTER SUTRA is an upmarket urban fantasy marrying Buddhist doctrine with drugs, sex, and violence [I give that marriage three weeks, tops.] from the alternating viewpoints of Tanya and Keket. It is complete at 97,000 words and will appeal to fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts and N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
[P.S. The title comes from roosters being a symbol of greed and desire in Buddhism, and also Tanya's hair is a red mohawk, so she looks kinda like a rooster. ]
First of all, a serial killer who's killing everyone in a certain profession should be the centerpiece of your query. Look how far it got Jack the Ripper.
Up until the serial killer arrives, I have more questions than answers. Like what kind of missions do teams of occultists go on? Why do so many die? What did Keket do that almost killed Tanya? What is the job description of an occultist?
We know who's in your book but we don't know much of what happens.
High school student Tanya Gallo wants to be an occultist, like her idol and mentor Keket Cheshire. Even when Kekel informs Tanya that a serial killer has been targeting occultists, Tanya still wants in. In fact she joins the team of occultists hunting the killer.
Something like that would be a way to start this off if it were what actually happens in your book, which it probably isn't, but you get the idea.
Are all the occultists in the occultism industry in one city or even country? If not, this serial killer seems to have taken on an impossible task. Maybe we should narrow it down geographically.
The decision Kekel must make doesn't strike me as difficult. Ignore a serial killer while he continues killing and could be coming after you next, or engage temporarily in activities designed to neutralize him. I know what the Buddha would do.