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.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Truth Serum 12

"Waiter!" Evil Editor waved his Snoopy mug at the barista. "Another cuppa joe.”

An ordinary-looking man handed Evil Editor a fresh mug of coffee. "I'm here to interview you. You must feel honored to be nominated as one of Gawker’s Hotties In Publishing. What’s it like to know that minions swoon every time you eviscerate their queries?"

Evil Editor gulped his coffee. "I'd trade every minion on the net for a single citation in a scholarly journal. I could out-deconstruct Derrida, given half a freaking chance! Why can't someone delineate how my blog conjoins the hermeneutical paradigm of subsemiotic reliance on the other? Instead I get moles. No one takes moles seriously!"

The man nodded. “Is it true that your falling-out with Grisham was the result of a passionate love affair that ended when he dumped you for an intern at the new HarperCollins imprint?”

Evil Editor took another swig. “We had a meeting of minds! He has deeper insight into the hidden cellars of the human soul than Plato, Nietzsche, and Destiny’s Child combined. I left him in despair that I’d never match his intellectual acumen. Grisham, mon ami, mon frere!” Evil Editor wept.

“I understand you have the knowledge to halt global warming. Could you share that with us?”

Evil Editor stared in horror at the mug he was about to raise to his lips. “What is this slop I’m drinking?”

“Kopi Luwak. The most expensive coffee in the world. I hoped it would act as a truth serum, allowing your inner intellectual to emerge.”

Raising his arm to dash the cup to the floor, Evil Editor suddenly relented. “I guess you’re right. Coffee that's been digested through the intestines of a civet can't be any worse than the slush waiting for me back at the office."

--Tracey S. Rosenberg

Truth Serum 11

I poured us each a glass of water. "So, you want to pitch a novel," I said. "Let's hear it."

She glanced at the wall behind my desk. "Who's in the photo?"

I looked behind me. "Ah. That's me and J.D. Salinger. We were drinking buddies until he went nuts. On the wall behind you is a photo of me and Grisham."

She took a look. "I don't see Grisham."

"I cropped him out."

We drank some water. She stared at me. At the rate this was going her pitch session would be over before it started. Which was fine with me.

Finally she said, "I can't quite make out the words on those diplomas behind you.

"Diplomas?" I said. "Ah, you mean my master plumber certification and my fishing license."

"You're a plumber? I paid $700 to attend this conference, just to pitch you."

"I'm not even a very good plumber. I'm too big to fit under a sink."

"Enough," she said. "I want to know your real name, and everything about you. And you're gonna tell me because what you don't know is that while you were looking at your Salinger photo I slipped truth serum into your water. And once you tell me who you are, I'll tell the world. The world!"

"Nice try, kid," I told her, "but what you don't know is that while you were looking at my Grisham photo, I switched our glasses."

She glared at me. Then she said, "My God, you're handsome."

--Evil Editor

Truth Serum 10

"Ah, Shiraz -- did you administer the truth serum?"

"Yes, Sir -- all of it."


"It rejected him."

"Bugger. You got nothing? Nothing at all?"


"Yes, Shiraz?"

"Well, he did sell me these books..."



Truth Serum 9

Truth Is a Tool to Be Used Sparingly

Detective Monk began combing the suspect's muttonchops. Evil Editor brushed his hand away. “Stop it, Mr. Monk.”

“They're disarrayed...horribly.”

EE ruffled both muttonchops vigorously with this hands.

“Ew! I can't do this,” said Monk, and left.

A new detective arrived. “I'm Detective Colombo, Mr. Editor,” he said, blowing cigar smoke into EE's face and handing him a glass of water. Evil gulped it down.

“Did you murder Ms. La Taupe?” Mr. Editor.

“Alleged murder,” said Evil Editor. “Corpus delicti.”

“Yes...turning the lady's moles against her and...let's just say the evidence was eliminated underground. Ghastly!”

Evil smiled.

Colombo smiled back and turned off the tape recorder. “You've just drunk a truth serum, Mr. Editor.” He turned the recorder back on. “Are you Evil Editor?”

“No,” said Evil, confidently.

Colombo coughed some cigar smoke. “You are not Evil Editor?”

“I believe that I believe that I am not Evil Editor.”

“Ah...Mrs. Colombo was talking about Wittgenstein during 'Jeopardy' last night. I think you've abused his subjective answer by one level of abstraction. I want a Platonic or Hegelian answer.”

Evil Editor showed his driver's license to Colombo. “It says so here, so I suppose I am, though I'm not convinced.”

Colombo's eyes glistened, thinking of the little old lady in tennis shoes being gnawed to death by her own moles. Even under truth serum, Evil could not be cracked. Colombo took a “spare” revolver tucked into his sock and shot Evil Editor. He put it into Evil Editor's hand, and then remembered the one-way mirror. “Mrs. Colombo will not be happy about this, boys,” he said into the mirror, stoically.

Ms. La Taupe snickered at the newspaper accounts of her death. “I guess I'd better 'return' from my writer's conference." She then looked in her recipe book for mole recipes.

--Bill H.

Truth Serum 8

"Yeah, things have been a bit quiet. No, never found out who posted the original message.

"Didn't bother me that much. It was just a mole after all, wasn't it? Makes my stomach turn to think about them. Yes, thanks, another glass might help settle it… I'm not a squirrel fan either. So I just left them to it. Nasty, though. Fur flying. Blood spurting. The mole got the worst of it, but at the end she took the squirrel out with a slash to the stomach, so that was them both out of play.

"Yes, I know it's illegal, but hey, it was fun. Some of the others, though, got a bit soft at the end. Kiersten didn't even make it past the first bite. Moth and Whirlochre were too busy looking in one another's eyes to see much. And Blogless seems to have gone back to being blogless so he wasn't there in the first place.

"Then we moved on to the paca and the hedgehog. Had my worries about that one. Worked out well, though. Turns out that spines in tender spots are remarkably effective. Audience-wise? Well, December muttered something about inspirational and disappeared halfway through. Dave said the whole thing was too long. Anonymous kept coming back for more, but nobody cares about anonymous, do they?

"Robin, though, she was there until the end. Not much she can't handle. Had to think of something special. Easy in the end, though. Left her alone in a thread with nice people like Freddie, Sarah and Fairyhedgehog. Didn't last five minutes.

"So now, it's just the two of us. Oh, yes, I didn't have to do a thing after I first posted…sorry, did I say something?

"Give me a koala any day, that's what I meant to say."


Truth Serum 7

Evil swigged hard on a tankard of Jack Daniels, massaging the giant halo of pharmaceuticals along his gullet with neck muscles honed to perfection from decades of bawling at wannabe authors.


He set the tankard on the nearest pile of slush and leaned against the vibrating shredder scaffold, counting aloud the seconds as he watched them tick past on his wrist.

Still, nothing.

Maybe the stereotypical gypsy woman had lied. Maybe the thousand dollar pill was only a placebo.

He signalled to the hungriest looking weredingo, go find her, go mutilate her flesh but before it could scurry from the cowering pack that sat typing rejection letters, his eyeballs popped out and switched sides with a Tom And Jerry waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuugh!

His knees buckled beneath him and he fell, face first and delerious, onto the prickly nylon twill of his Simon Cowell rug.

‘My precioussssss!’ he screamed, writhing. ‘Say I’m like My Preciousssssssss, dear Lord.’

But the bile of no such demonic inner soul gushed through his every capillary. Instead, a soppy posset smile oozed across his face like strawberry jelly melting on a puff of hamster bedding, swelling his muttonchops into rosy babybutt orbs.

‘Aaaaaaaaaaw,’ he said. ‘Lookit da litter puppee dawgs...’

The weredingos typed their final Ns and Os and quietly removed their thimbles. Sensing their moment of freedom had arrived (and with it, the promise of lucrative autobiographies) they extended their talons and tore Evil limb from limb, washed his mangled bones down with every last drop of blood and flossed with his whiskers till their teeth hummed like angels.

Truth, it seems, is stranger than fiction.


Truth Serum 6

"To your health and mine!" I clinked my glass with EE's and watched him drink the Spanish brandy. His eyes popped like fried eggs as esters burned his throat and held sparring practice in his nasal passages.

"Whoa Jack of all asses! This stuff has the kick of a mule," EE said.

"Fundador's what brandy should be. Not that pampered stuff that the snobs talk about. This can peel the hair off your chest, like paint remover with a touch of formal-dee-hyde."

"I like my hairy chest," EE slammed the glass onto the table. His head spun around three times in his mind. "No wait, I want a hunky hairless chest like an Olympic swimmer."

"It's laced with truth serum. Tell me, what do you think of my trunk novel?"

"Like fine wine, an amusing and fragrant..." he stopped talking and shook his head from side to side. "No, it's like using boiled boar's urine to put out a burning compost pile. Stinks beyond all reasonable description."

"Huh?" I didn't expect that.

"And that middle section where they visit the midget lap dancers. It lacks credibility. Are you perhaps a virgin at your age?" EE eyes went crazy and he licked the bottom of his glass. "Where's the rest of this booze. Once you get past the initial kick. It's really good!" He poured a double from the decanter.

"What did I do?"

"What have you written? That's what I'm asking. Does this novel auger something new or just bore into the ancient and empty rectum of the nearest weredingo? Spock Loves Kirk fanfic reads better."

"You're a monster!"

"Moi? NO, think Doubleday for publishing Brown... Hey wench! Yes you, Missus V! Bring me that slush-pile and a dozen red pens. I'm going to enjoy destroying egos and crushing dreams."

--Dave F.

Truth Serum 5

He took the same booth every day, ordered the same latte everyday, and I was onto him. I was positive that the mutton-chopped curmudgeon with the swivel-topped notebook was none other than “Evil Editor”, world-renown author and editor nonpareil. But I wanted to know who he really was. After weeks of malice aforethought, I summoned the courage to pour a scant spoonful of truth serum into his brew.

“EE, lately you’ve been killing your minions and loyal fans with diabolically funny graphics and charts,” I said, casually stopping by to see if the serum was taking effect yet. “But is your razor-sharp humor just a mask for deeper sadness? And are you willing to reveal which of the 500 plus Face-Lifts are yours? By number?”

“You’re right, there has been such sharpness to my wit of late, it borders on lethal. But it’s all a sham, a diversionary tactic. Avoidance! I don’t know why you insist on dragging this out of me now, but if you must know —”

Suddenly, an over-sized mole appeared at our table, hitched to a small wagon in which there was covered dish. The stout editor bent sidewise to retrieve the mystery entrée while the strange creature and conveyance disappeared into thin air. I began to wonder if I too were under the effects of a mind-altering drug.

I watched, mouth agape, as Evil revealed a plate of steaming brains. I’d never seen such a thing in any Starbucks, anywhere! I almost gagged as he scooped up a spoonful and slipped the quivering mass into the forest of whiskers surrounding his mouth. And in that blink of an eye, he shape-shifted: what was once a plump and whiskered evil editor became a muscular, tanned metro-sexual of as yet unknown profession. “Ah! Baked minion brain, just as I ordered!” he said with a wink. “Did you know it is the perfect antidote to truth serum?”

Before I fell away into a dead faint, I realized that the brains consumed with such relish by the evil master were my very own!


Truth Serum 4

“Chrissakes, Rosie!” EE banged the palm of his hand on the bar. “How long’s it take. Glass, ice, scotch and a drop of water. Why me?! Can’t keep my minions in suspense.” He turned back to his minions. “Where was I?”

“Jackass,” she whipped around on EE, “the sign out front says ROSIE’S Cantina. I’m the only one raises her voice in here.” She banged the palm of her hand too. Her black eyes flashed. Her face grew flush.

“She’s unreasonably angry,” Dave muttered.

EE cast his most Evil Eye; one eyebrow raised. “We could walk next door to The One Trick Pony,” he taunted.

“Don’t let the door hitcha.” Rosie slowly turned back to the bar, in no hurry.

“I can’t believe her diction,” said Robin beneath her breath. “It’s atrocious.”

“I’ll handle this.”

“What’s he up to?” Freddie whispered.

“I’m sorry,” EE purred. “I shouldn’t have raised my voice. Okay, which one was yours? Was it that crappy one with the blue mermaid thingy? Crop circle? Louvre? Aliens from billions of parsecs away? Gads, they were all awful.” Minions didn’t like hearing this, but they had grown accustomed. EE suspected Rosie might be a new minion using an alias.

She turned with a look of serenity.

“Your drink.” She smiled sweetly, leaned forward and whispered, “I’m not telling. I will say this: You’re craftier than I gave you credit for.”

God I’m good EE thought. He turned back to his minions. I knew it. Only a rank amateur ends a sentence with a preposition. He took a sip and felt the warm blush. “Okay, once again, where was I at?” he asked as he sat back down.

“You were about to deliciously tell about the New Beginning riddled with split-infinitives and run-ons, but she interrupted, and you went and talked to her over there, and we thought we might be packing it in, but now it’s okay, ” Whirlochre said, winded.

Suddenly EE had a radiant expansiveness about him. He leaned back. He chuckled. Minions glanced at one another bewildered at this most uncharacteristic behavior. “Actually, they were all rather good last week. One,” he was getting a little slurry, “made me laugh out loud. It’s been a long time.”

Rosie looked up from the glass she was cleaning, and smiled at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar.


Truth Serum 3

Don't Ask

A minion heard a man in a restaurant talking on his cell phone and determined it was Evil Editor. He bargained with the waitress to put truth serum, which he happened to have with him, into Evil's beverage. [Note: find less lame explanation for serum before posting this.] After awhile, the minion invited himself to Evil's table.

“All right Evil, 'fess up,” said WouldBe. “Who's your favorite minion?”

“I can tell you this: it is not one who'd put truth serum into my beverage. You see, the waitress/novelist/actress is also a minion. She put the truth serum into your beverage, instead.”


“Yes, the thing about truth is, don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer. Now, where is this so-called story going?”

“I...don't have a clue...I never know where they're going until I type “THE END.”

“Sad. That won't happen this time. I'm taking over this story. Give me that typewriter.”

“What? Hands off the Royal. That was my grandfather's--”

POW! BAM! (Other pulp sounds! Can't think right with serum--) KABOOM!

“Now,” said Evil, in control of the Royal. “I was born at a very early age on a dark and stormy night. There was evil in the air, and it was I--”


“Shut up, WouldBe.”


---Bill H.

Truth Serum 2

“That's not the worst booze I've ever drunk, but I'll say it is to try to get you to give me another free drink.”

Evil Editor looked at the waiter. Surely a restaurant this expensive would provide better fare for the price he would have to pay if it wasn't all complimentary.

“I'm sorry,” said the waiter, “the truth serum I put in the drink spoils the taste.”

“To what end?” asked Evil Editor, dipping into the Boston cream pie.

“So you will tell me exactly what I need to know to blackmail you. N'est ce' pas?”

“You wouldn't happen to have read a book, How to Speak Atrocious French with a Bad Accent?”

“No, I just use some French to try to keep people from thinking I grew up in a trailer park.”

Confusion crossed the waiter's face, but he recovered.

“What is the darkest secret you have, the one you will pay dearly so that I won't reveal it?” he asked.

“I'm a gay alien mutant from a a different time period of an alternate history of a parallel universe.” Evil Editor smiled as he spoke and uncorked another bottle of wine.

“You're kidding.”

“Find out when you reveal it, because I'm giving you nothing. In fact, I want to know your real identity and your deepest secret.”

To his shock the waiter revealed everything.

“Excellent,” said Evil Editor. “So you know: I met genie who had one wish left. I wished anything someone wanted to do to harm me I could do to them with impunity. I am not Evil Editor, it is Evil Everybody Else. Now, go back to serving me free food, there's an attractive Minion who wants to strip and photograph me. Her figure and pet snake make her better suited for that.”

--D Jason Cooper

Truth Serum 1

“Mmm. Boy, that was tastier than normal. Thanks, Mrs. V.” (good natured laugh) “I’m in a great mood tonight. It reminds me of the first time Miss Snark referenced me on her blog. I danced around the room like a giddy schoolboy! Speaking of giddy schoolboys, I watched Dead Poet’s Society again last night. Bawled my eyes out. Not as bad as The Rescuers though—when that couple adopts Penny at the end, and she thanks the little mice—” (sniff) “—Excuse me. And then those Hallmark Hall of Fame commercials. I can’t get through the brothers singing O Holy Night together without a full box of Kleenex. Oh, and little Beth! She was so good! Why did she have to die and leave poor Jo?” (racking sobs) “I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I guess it’s just the blog—December is getting published. It’s like when EE Junior graduated, and I couldn’t even see the ceremony through my tears. Sending my little baby minions out into the world. Did I do enough for them? Did I prepare them for what’s to come? Like Junior’s first day of Kindergarten.” (head down on the table, bawling) “I could barely hold my smile long enough to get out the door. And then the day he grew his first muttonchops—I was so proud I thought I’d burst. Oh, I should go on the blog right now, tell the minions how much I love each and every one of them, how they all deserve to be published and I’m going to make it happen, and then—” (shakes his head, scowling) “—what was I saying? I feel…funny.” (eyes go back into focus) “Hrm…I think I need to make fun of a query. I’m feeling all…non-evil.”


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

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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.

Talk Gadget, Take 2

Okay, we'll try again. Tuesday at 6PM eastern. I don't know how much of this is necessary, but it might help to go to make some early preparations. Go to and click on Launch Google talk gadget. No need to download anything. A chat window should open. You may find that you already have some contacts. (There are people on my contact list I've never heard of. Possibly people you've emailed who have gmail will be on the list. Or not.) In any case try to add to your list of contacts using the ADD button (possibly you don't need the ADD button. I seem to have trouble getting addresses in. Possibly putting the address in the provided box and hitting enter is the correct procedure. Fiddle around till it's in there.

You may already have a google account, as I believe you need one to have a blogger account. If you don't, it may turn out you need one, though I've seen nothing that specifically says so.

If you don't receive an invitation to the chat room by 6:05 PM eastern I will have no way of knowing whether this is because something's gone wrong, or because you forgot to be at your computer. So come to this post and comment that you didn't get invited or that you aren't able to accept the invitation for some reason.

Now, if you're planning to be here, send me the email address at which you want to receive the invitation so I can put you on my own contact list. I have Kiersten, Julie, Robin, Dave, Buffy and Meri on my list already.

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 11

“Well, hell,” remarked Evil Editor to the nine-foot-tall amorphous shiny thing that had just materialized in his back yard. “You got a face in there?”

“I must remain covered to protect myself from your atmosphere; and the reflective surface is necessary because of the harmful rays of your star. I am ¶ØĦŁξ, emissary of the planet řЉж∆◊ and of the Galactic Union. We have come to see if your dominant species is fit for membership. Are you a sentient being?”

“Absolutely,” replied EE, leaning on his hoe. “Top species here, top member speaking. What are your admission requirements? And what do WE get out of it?”

“Sentience, intelligence, and above all empathy for other beings. And we offer advanced technology to meet your needs.”

“Well,” said the Evil One, chopping at a molehill with his hoe, “I hope you’ve got something to get rid of these damned moles.”

“I beg your pardon. Moles?”

“Little varmints who ruin my lawn. I’ve tried ScootMole; I’ve tried sonic repellers; I’ve tried poison gas; I’ve tried poison bait. I’m now trying to fill in their damned tunnels. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to rent a flamethrower.”

“You have no compassion for these creatures? No empathy? According to the Galactic Encyclopedia, they devour harmful garden pests. Can you not come to some accommodation?”

“The only accommodation I’m offering the little bastards is enough ground to bury ‘em.

“Now, what do you want to know about us? Our great poets and artists? Our scientists and philosophers? Our beautiful women?”

“I think my observation of you is sufficient. You ARE a ‘human’?”

“Yeah. Make yourself at home; I’m going after that flamethrower. We’ll talk more when I get back.”

As EE departed, a tiny form popped up at the alien’s side and tugged at his ankle. “Didn’t we tell you? You see what they’re like?”

¶ØĦŁξ removed his helmet, revealing a tentacled snout identical to that of his interlocutor. “Yes, little cousin, I see. I have ordered the ship to release the plague spores. Soon you—or rather WE—will be the only sentient, intelligent, empathic species on the planet.”

--Talpianna “GOTCHA!” La Taupe

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 9

The mothership landed in the crop circle surrounding Evil Editor’s house. He knew they’d come.

“This is it! This is it!” he said. “No one believed me, but I knew it!” He ran outside to meet them.

“Welcome!” he yelled as they exited the ship. The short buggers looked him up and down.

“Wxnbthulvn,” one alien said. He throwing flowers at us.

“Pnvcsx wtrfgaz,” the other replied. I think he’s welcoming us.

“Qszxckl io? Tghrdwqqa?” the first one said. That’s it? Why isn’t anyone else here?

“Trcfwxnbthulvn.” According to his leader, this is the only man who can convince us to leave Earth alone.

“Btn. Qwvtyplkmij vne wvknglen.” Okaaaay.

“Tqwcn cn xwsdffgr,” Apparently his powers of argument are very persuasive. I’m told he has many followers.

“Greetings,” said Evil Editor. “I welcome you to Earth.

“Thank you.”

“I see you speak English.”

“Yes. Tell me why we shouldn’t kill you and your brethren. We have the technology to destroy mankind.”

“Well, so do we.”

The first alien nodded. “That’s true. Nuclear technology.”

“That doesn’t mean we have to use it. Plus, there’s a lot of good in the world, still.”

“Yes, we’ve heard of your blog. We do enjoy it. What else?”

“Well, we make some of the best movies.”

The first alien nodded slowly. “I did enjoy the Dark Knight. Immensely.”

Evil nodded. “If you kill us now, there will never be another Batman film.”


“Oh yes,” Evil Editor replied. “No more Batman.”

“And your blog?”

“Gone. I’d bet some of my minions would be back to haunt your asses.”


“Yeah. Didn’t anyone tell you who I am?”

“You’re not Batman?”

“No. I’m Evil. Evil Editor.”

The little aliens ran screaming back to their ship and were never heard from again.


We're Doomed 8

A minty white mist swirled over his head, forming odd geometric shapes and symbols, and finally, a face. Was it Jesus? Or Richard Dreyfuss?

‘Name?’ The voice was cold and distant, like a frozen pizza buried on Pluto.

‘Evil,’ replied Evil.


‘No, thanks. I’ve just eaten.’


‘Hey — untie these laser cuffs and I’ll somersault.’


‘Okay, okay. I’m an editor.’

The lights dimmed momentarily and the face hiccuped in the air like a smoke signal rising from the epicentre of an earthquake. Surely not another will you take a look at my manuscript moment?

‘You stalk and eat other species?’

‘No, no, I — yes, yes!’

‘Claw, fang or sting?’


The face drew back an inch or so. Interpreting the body language of alien invaders from another world wasn’t Evil’s strong point, but all his years of experience with agents and writers told him straight away he’d just witnessed a look of witless confusion.

‘With my laptop,’ he continued, emboldened, ‘I have the power to create and destroy whole worlds at my fingertips.’

‘And...your prey?’

Evil lowered his voice. ‘Before you sucked me from my desk with that giant hoover of yours, I was about to lay waste to the entire Query Nebula.’

Again, the lights dimmed, only this time for longer. And music played. In the half-light, EE wondered if he’d done enough to save his own skin. No — edit that thought. “...whether he had single-handedly saved the whole of mankind with his trademark stud muffin charm.”

His thoughts were interrupted by a huge blubbery sucker which slapped against his chest and bundled him into the yearning darkness.

‘Looks like we found the leader first time of asking. Destroy his universe immediately — we’re taking him home to Mama....’


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 6

I went to the door to see who had the nerve to ring my bell at the dinner hour. Had to be either one of those door-to-door meat salesmen or Mormons. Either way, I figured if I gilloolied their knees my neighbors would thank me.

Turned out someone thought Halloween was early this year. "Come back in October," I told them. "I haven't finished inserting the razor blades into the apples."

"We seek a representative of your species," the female said. I could tell she was female because she was drooling as she gazed at me. "We must decide if your planet is salvageable."

I considered sending them to the president, but that would have doomed us all. "I'm your man," I said.

"The value of a species lies in what it produces in the arts. Painting, music, literature..."

I could tell we were in trouble. The only painters we cared about were the long-dead ones, rap was our top-selling music, and the only books anyone read nowadays were ghostwritten celebrity memoirs. We were doomed.

Then it hit me. I brought them inside and fired up my computer. "Our greatest art form," I said, "is the short film. Have a look." I played the Evil Editor Saturday Film Series movies, including the ones that hadn't even been released yet.

They were entranced. They laughed, they cried, they made me play them over and over. And in the end, they spared us all.

Lucky for us I didn't let them get a look at the slush pile in my office.

--Evil Editor

We're Doomed 5

[Continued from the Jan. 18, 2008 writing exercise]

He'd thought the frantic warnings and horrified screams coming from the radio had been a pathetic attempt at recreating War of the Worlds; this time badly written, badly performed.

For once, he'd been wrong.

Now, a small, strange craft lands on his lawn, outside his study window. He watches as a beautiful blue creature with decidedly female features exits the craft and heads his way.

Quickly, he begins recording a message onto his machine. "I am God, and I have stayed here, alone, to meld myself with another; to begin a new race of minions. And I'm feeling in a blue mood today…"

The blue creature walks up to his window. She raises her long thin fingers and, cupping her hands close to her face, she peers in. When she sees him standing there looking back at her, what passes for her eyebrows shoot up.

Her eyes widen.

He stands still, grasping his device, hoping this, hmmmm… damn fine looking female life form has a translation mechanism close at hand.

Then she disappears.

He speaks again into his recorder. "Yes, a new race is what is required here. I am certain that the absolute annihilation of the human race was not the plan of these divine creatures that have come to call. Rather, they wished to bring a fortifying force…"

He hears the front door open (out in the hall with that very attractive circular inlay pattern) and steels himself for what is to come.

She saunters through his study door, her hips swaying like a human female on a semen safari. She stops inches from his body. Her fingers touch the fabric of his blue jacket. They stroke him until he feels very warm.

He looks down. Her fingers are perfectly camouflaged against the color of his jacket.

"We're a perfect blend," he whispers.

"I am Zuul, and I am come for you," she replies, unbuttoning his jacket…

And that is how the world began anew, my children. Tangled up in blue.
--Robin S.

We're Doomed 4

“Grod, GROD! Take the probe out and quit looking at that.”

“But it’s malformed. God they’re ugly! Looks funny. Why does it have that thing? That, there.” Grod pointed.

“It’s some kinda handle. Shhh, It’s sleeping. We have only seconds. Read, the report. What’s it say?”

“But it’s poking straight up like that. It wasn’t there before I put the probe in.”

“The report, Grod.”

“We need to kill them all.”

“Grod, you didn’t even look at the report. Read the report first. What’s the report say?”

“Shhh, boss, it’s waking up.”

“Wha, what’s going on here. What are you two pukes doing in the Evil penthouse? My swanky, Evil bedroom for chrissakes?! God, my ass hurts. So what’s the story? You cretins couldn’t write, so you broke in to harass the Evil Editor? Want me to read some of your God-awful drivel? Waa, waa, waa. You’re all the same. The world owes you a good review. YAWN. Freakin crybabies. Can’t write a query. God those are the ugliest costumes I’ve ever seen. What are ya, midget circus freaks? Hey what’re you doin? Ouch. Hey, stop, stop that hurts. AAAAAAAAA!!!!”

“Why’s it making that noise, Feldar?”

“It pissed me off, so I broke its handle. You were right, Grod.”

“I was?”

“Based on this specimen, we need to kill them all. Let’s go.”