Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Film Series


Warning: If you aren't at least eighteen, you may not be able to handle what's in Evil Editor's Shorts.

video

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Beginning 610

Maurice Wyatt felt great, had a wet towel round his neck keeping him cool. ‘I’m in fine form!’ he boomed; dust shifted: ‘Ninety seven today, hooray.’

He should have died in his twenties; counted three occasions. ‘My very own demise!’ he says; but nothing; no death, no harm to anyone, nothing. Silly man checked the figures, for a time believed his life was a mistake.

Misty recollections of jails and maelstroms and straining every nerve to overcome, bark in his ear as if from an unknown yard, inside his head. These barks, like auditory scars, are souvenirs of times and places, events he can’t fully recall. Now, being so old, he supposes they’re a recent thing; further evidence of something he has thus far managed to hide; the onset of dementia. But these mental explosions have in fact been occurring for decades, in various types of lines- lunch bar lines, movie lines, stadium lines, shopping market lines, and always in the open street.

Unseen lights flashing behind his eyes, Maurice shuffled forward in the queue and slammed into the man in front of himself.

"Dammit, granpa," the man cursed and glared. "Why don't you watch what you're doin'?"

"I'm real sorry, son," the old-timer mumbled as he stepped out of the ice-cream line and shuffled away.

Maurice flicked through the guy's wallet. Sixty bucks. Not bad. He dropped it in his Walmart bag with the others. "Ninety eight today!" he boomed. "I still got it!"

Maurice "Fingers" Wyatt scanned the street for another line.



Opening: Morgan Barrie.....Continuation: Anon.

Cartoon 331

Caption: Whirlochre

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Face-Lift 608


Guess the Plot

Convinced

1. During his tour of the sinister International House of Espionage, Jack Strong realizes the dame in the hot pants isn't just another pretty face. But can he convince the powers that be in time to avoid an international incident?

2. The first of a litfic trilogy, in which a naive young man is led into dissipation and eventual murder by a persuasive existentialist grad student. The other titles are Convicted and Condemned.

3. This query is printed with ink permeated with a psychotropic drug. Shortly you will be CONVINCED to request the full manuscript, just as the editor will be CONVINCED to offer, and readers will be CONVINCED to buy. Thanks for your consideration. Yours, Stephenie Meyer.

4. Emily's irritating coworker happens to be a wizard who believes that the key to magic is convincing it to do what you want. But he didn't count on the fact that Emily, by her very presence, nullifies magic. Now he detests her, and not just because he can no longer do all his filing by blinking his eyes.

5. Some broads don't learn. Like Mary Mabel Monahan. Hardened bartender Jake Stone knows a tough cookie when she walks in, all right--but is Mary just a slow learner, or is she really his long-lost brother Mike?

6. Duncan scoffed at the idea of a Higher Power, but when a lightning strike burns all his hair off and leaves him with the ability to persuade anyone of anything, however absurd, he's . . . convinced . . . that not only does a Higher Power exist, but it obviously has a sense of humour.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Emily Daggett's childhood fantasy--find a wizard, be extraordinary, go adventuring--is coming true fifteen years late. [Shouldn't that be "fantasies"? Or is this one combo-fantasy?] And in the worst way possible.

The wizard, irritating co-worker rather than kindly old mage, detests her. She's extraordinary because she can't do magic but instead nullifies it with her very presence. And the adventure? It's a cloak-and-dagger battle that appeals to Emily's bookish ideas about good vs. evil--until she realizes she might have chosen the wrong side.

CONVINCED, a contemporary fantasy, is complete at 94,000 words. I'm a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Before that I worked in Iowa, the setting for CONVINCED and not nearly as flat as vicious rumors would have you believe. [In fact, the Iowa Tourism Bureau's new slogan is designed to make this point: Iowa: Hey, at least we're not as flat as Kansas.]

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[Author's note: the title refers in part to the irritating wizard's insistence that the trick to magic is convincing it to do what you want.]


Notes

You've listed a few intriguing elements, but I'd like more detail and more plot. Where do Emily and the wizard work? Does he detest her because she nullifies magic? Is he involved in the cloak and dagger adventure? How does she get involved in the adventure, and what are the stakes?

Maybe the fantasy should sound less like three fantasies:

Emily Daggett's childhood fantasy--to have an exciting adventure with a wizard--is coming true fifteen years late. And in the worst way possible.

The wizard turns out to be Emily's coworker Ralph, who clips his nails at his desk, chews his ice, and detests Emily just because her very presence nullifies his magic. Sharing a cubicle with Ralph was bad enough, but now the two have been recruited by the CIA to assassinate the president of Peru. It's a cloak-and-dagger mission that appeals to Emily's bookish ideas about good vs. evil--until she realizes she might be on the wrong side.


That's about the same length as yours, but note the extra detail: the wizard's name, what's irritating about him, why he detests Emily, what kind of job they have, what the adventure involves, how they got involved in the adventure. It also unifies the elements by confirming that Ralph is in on the adventure, making it seem more like a story. And there's no reason you can't add additional compelling details to arouse our curiosity, as this is still pretty brief.

Cartoon 330

Caption: anon.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Face-Lift 607


Guess the Plot

Call Me Wonder Rose

1. I am Rosa floribunda, and I am invincible. I've survived infestations, invasions, perversions and depredations. I've been cut, frozen, chopped, burned, drowned and severed. I've watched my children die while I live on. You can shove me in the dirt, force-feed me concoctions, but you can't destroy me. Call me wonder rose.

2. It sure was a shock to learn that my younger brothers are all superheroes, each with a unique ability that's been kept secret from me all my life, and I'm the only member of the Rose family who's normal. Of course, when a supervillain comes to town, it's sure to be big sis who has to save the day, as usual. The name's Dylan Rose, but you can . . . Call me Wonder Rose.

3. Wonder Bread built healthy bodies in even more ways than people thought. During WWII, a daring bio-modification program based on experimental bread-molds turned me into a superheroine whose battle against fascism outdid even Captain America. They called me . . . Wonder Rose.

4. In the little town of Meadowville, GA, nothing brings out cutthroat ruthlessness like the Horticultural Society's Annual Garden Show. But now I'm wondering if I've gone too far--my genetically spliced roses are displaying signs of sentience and an interest in superheroics. The newspapers . . . call me Wonder Rose.

5. The name's Rose Baumgarten. I recently resigned from Joe's Bar and Grill to begin a new career as a pimp-bashing superhero. Too bad that means I have about a thousand instant enemies who all need to be manhandled and crushed to pulp beneath my sharp red stilettos, enemies who . . . Call Me Wonder Rose.

6. When my grandmother leaves me an old trunk, I discover the diary and letters of my great-great-grandmother, an exotic dancer. I change my name from Summer Dawn and take up fan dancing. Call Me Wonder Rose.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I am currently seeking representation for my young adult fantasy novel "Call Me Wonder Rose," complete at 65,000 words.

Sixteen-year-old Dylan Rose has always felt like the family outcast. And it's not all in her head.

When she inherits her late grandfather's journal, which chronicles his ability to shrink in size and stretch his limbs to the size of a football field, [May 3: As I lie dying in my hospital bed I finally realize that the ability to punch a criminal from a hundred yards away is not so effective when the criminal is 110 yards away, with a high-powered rifle.] Dylan believes the journal must be fiction. But it turns out [that her grandfather was once known as (choose one):


a. Plastic Man
















b. The Elongated Man










c. Mr. Fantastic



















Amazing how even lame superhero powers get recycled/stolen.] every word is true. Dylan discovered the Rose family secret: She belongs to a family of super heroes.

Cool, right? Sure. If you had powers. But unfortunately for Dylan, she doesn't. The hero gene is only passed down to males, and her three younger brother's have kept their unique powers hidden from her for over a decade. [No way five-year-old boys could resist using their super powers in their sister's presence. In fact, no way they could resist using their super powers on their sister.]

While Dylan copes with the fact that her own flesh and blood kept this massive secret from her, [You had these powers all along and you didn't use them to help me destroy my rivals and win the heart of Biff Carpenter? Bastards!] the crime rate in the small Midwestern town sky rockets. The Rose brothers are convinced the culprit is using super powers to commit the crimes.

But whoever is committing the crimes has plans for something bigger than a little bank robbery.

And it involves the Rose family outcast. [How do they know this?]

Dylan's more valuable to the super family business than originally perceived. [How so?] It's this discovery that makes her the hottest ticket in town, [What does that mean?] and places Dylan smack-dab in the middle of a dangerous old rivalry. [Possibly what you're hinting at is that the supervillain was sent up the river by grandpa and now he's going to exact his revenge by kidnapping Dylan to get the super brothers to help him destroy the statue of grandpa in the town square. Or not. It's a pretty vague way to end the query.]

My short stories have appeared in The Bell Tower and The Scruffy Dog Review. This is my first novel. I would be happy to send a partial at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes

Even if you don't want to reveal the details on how Dylan is useful in defeating the supervillain, I don't see why you can't be more specific about how she's involved.

Cartoon 329

Caption: Mother (Re)produces

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Beginning 609

Tony made a bet with the entire fifth grade class. If he didn’t steal Mr. Chance’s magical map by his eleventh birthday, he was going to wash the kindergarten toilets every day for the rest of the school year.

Some kids said that was desperate. Suicidal. Just plain crazy!

But Tony was a rule-breaker.

Nevertheless, Tony couldn’t ignore the Legend of Mr. Chance. This top-secret notebook lay hidden on the back shelf of the Watson Elementary School library. The Legend of Mr. Chance filled every page. Except the last one. Tony planned on writing the ending himself.

He stood in the library, skipping his dreaded math class, and quietly re-read the pages:

The Legend of Mr. Chance

Mr. Chance had only one purpose in life-to make miserable little kids even more miserable.

Little kids who laughed at his shiny bald head and big bulging belly.

Little kids who hid his glass eye under his wig collection.

Little kids who barged into his magic shop and messed up the fake vomit display.

"And little kids who fall for my notebook trap!" Smiling, Mr. Chance tucked Tony into his velvet purse, where no one could hear him scream. Then he unfolded his map on the floor, stepped onto its center, and returned to his shop, where the stew pot was already boiling.


Opening: Chris Eldin.....Continuation: Khazar-khum

Synopsis 13


Frederica and the Heir to the Underworld (Goes with the query in Face-Lift 510)

FREDERICA (Freddy) is having a crappy week: a hot guy on a horse nearly runs her over, her dad’s lying to her, and the Wild Hunt, otherworldly cutthroats who hunt human game, have invaded her neighborhood. [Actually, once otherworldly cutthroats who hunt human game invade your neighborhood, other stuff isn't worth complaining about.]

The hot guy, POLYDEGMON (Deg), isn’t so bad. He asks Freddy out, but her dad, COLIN, walks in on them mid-make out session, [This sounds like it happens right after Deg asks her out, rather than after their date. Something like He takes her dancing, but her dad later walks in . . . would make it clear.] beats the snot out of Deg, and tells Freddy to stay away from the guy. Colin knows Deg’s no-good, but he won’t tell Freddy what’s so bad about her date. Sick of being left out of the loop, Freddy follows Deg to get answers.

Freddy finds Deg, [Finding someone isn't so hard when you're already following him: There he is! Up ahead!] but the Wild Hunt captures them. Colin comes to rescue Freddy, but then she must save him from becoming hell hound chow. Freddy trades her life to save Deg and Colin. The Hunt’s Leader, CERNUNNOS, agrees to let them go. Freddy, he carries back to his home-world. [I took "trades her life" to mean she dies. Turns out she's just going on a tour.]

Cernunnos’ Hunt and the Olympian gods are near war. Cernunnos hopes to make peace by marrying Freddy to an Olympian. When Freddy asks why her, Cernunnos reveals he is her real father. [Is her mother her real mother? If so, how did her mother happen to give birth to the child of the leader of a gang of human-hunting cutthroats?] Come dinnertime, Freddy reunites with Deg- and meets his father: Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Instead of Deg, Cernunnos betroths her to Deg’s brother. Cernunnos threatens to hurt Freddy’s parents if she does anything to screw up her marriage. [In-laws. At least mine waited till after the wedding to threaten my parents.] Later, Cernunnos’ wife, MACHA, insulted by her husband’s bastard, attempts to strangle Freddy. The Wild Hunt fights her off, but, for her own safety, Freddy is sent to Hades’ Underworld at once. [You know things are bad when that's the safest place they can find for you.]

Deg offers to take Freddy home. Remembering Cernunnos’ threats, Freddy refuses. She attempts to make the best of her new life in the Land of the Dead. Unfortunately, her fiancé, after a failed attempt to seduce Freddy, tries to rape her. ["Unfortunately" doesn't seem like a strong enough word.

Woman: Someone tried to rape me.

Cop: Well gee, that's unfortunate.]

Freddy fights him off, and Deg arrives in time to stop her from killing her fiancé. [She has the power to kill the son of Hades? She's a teenage girl.] Deg convinces Freddy to leave the Underworld.

At Freddy’s home, they discover Macha kidnapped Colin. Freddy runs to rescue her dad, and deg reluctantly follows. They infiltrate Cernunnos’ camp and rescue Colin. Macha catches them, but one of Cernunnos’ people kills her. [If you're one of Cerunnos's people, and you kill his wife, how much longer will you be one of Cerunnos's people?

Cerunnos's man: Hmm, my brutal leader's wife, Macha, just caught someone infiltrating our camp. How should I handle this? I know, I'll kill Macha.]


Cernunnos reveals he meant to protect Freddy from Macha’s assassination attempts through the marriage. He leaves Freddy with Colin, but promises if Freddy ever needs help, he will come.

After the dust settles, Deg and Freddy talk and decide to give their relationship a go.


Notes

This isn't doing the job. The first two paragraphs have some life, but after that it's mostly just a confusing list of things that happen. It reads like the notes you wrote to yourself before you started writing the novel. Connect some ideas with cause and effect, reasons, transitions. Inject some life. You're telling a story (in summary form), not outlining it.

You might want to mention that Cernunnos is a god. Calling him an otherworldly cutthroat doesn't necessarily make it clear he's powerful enough to capture the son of Hades, who I assume has powers of his own.

We need to know the power rankings. Cernunnos is able to capture Deg, Colin is able to beat the snot out of Deg and Freddy is able to fight off Deg's brother. One gets the impression the sons of Hades are 98-pound weaklings.

As the daughter of a god, does Freddy have powers? If so, has she ever noticed them?

Cartoon 328

Caption: anon.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Face-Lift 606


Guess the Plot

Camp Weight-A-Spell

1. One magical summer, the kids from the Fat Camp and the kids from the Boot Camp for Troubled Teens meet, overcome their differences, and band together to kill and eat the counselors and administration.

2. Outraged by the cultural appropriation of Native American language, protesters occupy Camp Winne-hoho-ugh and rename it for its real inhabitants: chubby pasty-faced rich kids.

3. Chester isn't surprised to see flying rowboats and outhouses that clean themselves. After all, it's a magical fat camp. But he is a little surprised to find his cabin leader is an alien laying the groundwork for a war against the human race. Also, Cyclops and Bigfoot.

4. Sherlock Jefferson goes undercover as an elk hunter to search for Octopus Jones, a thug now hiding undercover as an inarticulate waiter at Bonnie's Egg & Bacon Inn, just down the road from the local terrorist training center, which is trying to pass itself off as a fat camp for boys.

5. Becca has always been heavy. The summer before senior year, she plans to attend Camp Weight-A-Spell, a weight-loss camp famous for its astounding success stories. What she doesn't know is that Margie, the camp's director is a witch, and her "diet shakes" are actually magic potions that quite literally melt away the pounds.

6. The boys' camp always won the Muddy Lake fishing contest. But this summer the girls have an advantage, as Wiccan counselor Kate Hecky adds enchantment to their fishing rods. But their lures attract a lake creature older and bigger than anyone expected. Can Kate and her novice witches send it back into the deeps?



Original Version

Welcome to Camp Weight-A-Spell, a magical fat camp where the outhouses clean themselves, [If I'm attending a fat camp (and who among us couldn't stand to lose fifty pounds?) I'm going to find one with plumbing.] rowboats can fly, and spriggans get drunk on Listerine. But fourteen-year-old Chester Jones isn't worried, he's used to weird stuff - he's a warlock. [If you're going to say he isn't worried, give us something most people would worry about, like the lake is full of monsters, not the outhouses clean themselves. Or, instead of "worried," say he isn't fazed or impressed.] [Also, if the fat camp is magical, why don't they magically create some toilets? Better yet, magically melt fifty pounds off the campers; otherwise those rowboats will never get off the ground.]

Chester's real concern [So, he is worried.] is with his psycho cabin leader, Kyle (don't call me "Sir",) Mutare. Kyle isn't even human, he's a shape shifter evoking a shimmer. But that's not the worst part. A gateway has opened to the old shifters' world of Meta. [So, this is what's known as Meta-fiction?] Buried there is a mummy Kyle wants very much - a mummy that when resurrected will lead the shifters in war against the human race. [How does Chester know all this?]

When Kyle and three campers disappear from a group outing, Chester fears Kyle has taken his friends hostage to assist him in an ancient ritual to revive the mummy. Armed with a map of the burial site and his exceptional abilities at incantations, Chester sets out to save his friends and find the mummy before it's too late. His plan, however, didn't include an angry Cyclops and a Bigfoot with an agenda of his own. [Didn't we just have another Bigfoot story? I don't really see Bigfoot as much of a threat to a warlock. It's a tall hairy guy with big feet. Not that I'd want to come face-to-face with Bigfoot in the real world, but in fiction, where shapeshifters and warlocks exist, he's kind of lame.]

Camp Weight-A-Spell, an MG fantasy, is complete at 60,000 words.

Thank you in advance for your time. [It's too late to thank me in advance; I've already read the entire query.]


Notes

This reads okay for a middle grade book. And perhaps the following logic problems won't matter to kids:

1. An army of shapeshifters should be able to defeat the human race without needing a mummy to lead them. In fact, the mummy is the only member of the Meta army the humans could handle. We'd take out the mummy within seconds.

2. Is there some reason Kyle has chosen to be a cabin leader at a fat camp when the mummy is buried on Meta? Surely there are better first steps toward conquering humanity. Does the ancient ritual specify the need for three obese human teenagers?

3. The stakes seem kind of high for a kid. This sounds more like a job for the Men in Black.

4. Aren't flying rowboats counterproductive at a fat camp?

Also, the title gives no indication that this is a high-stakes thriller. Try: How Chester Jones Lost Fifty Pounds and Saved the Human Race.

Cartoon 327

Caption: anon.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the Evie goes to . . .


At the Academy Awards it takes three hours to get to the three categories you care about. The Evil Editor Film Academy Awards show lasts less than six minutes, even though we show the entire films of the three winners. You can watch the EE Awards starting at the same time the Oscar telecast begins, and then tune into the Oscars, and the winner of the Best Gaffer award hasn't even finished thanking all the people who were remotely connected to his career or his life, people he had to step all over to get where he is today.

The winning actor and actress were chosen by members of the EE Academy, while the best picture was chosen by a vote of all minions.


video

Snow Job 9

'So,' said Whirl, gripping his hollow stomach, 'what are we going to do today?'

'Dunno,' replied EE.

'Christ on a fucking bike!' screamed Ramsay.

With the folds of his white kitchen uniform flapping around his emaciated body like a flag of No Surrender, the cursing chef leapt up from the heap of stripped skeletons littering the mountain lodge and wrenched a meat cleaver from a tartan scabbard hidden in his sock.

'Okay, Whirl, you fuckin' weirdo — up against the wall with the fat bastard, NOW! I'm fuckin' starving. And I don't care if you taste like shit, you fuckin' bastards. Look at the fuckin' state of me. My fuckin'trademark rugged chin looks like some fat bitches' crash diet cellulite arse, my fuckin' hair's falling out and if I lose any more meat from my legs, my days as a star centre forward for the Scottish celebrity football squad are fuckin' numbered.'

EE hauled himself to his feet and unsheathed the nib of his fountain pen. 'En garde!'

Whirl crawled between EE's legs, raising the acclaimed editor aloft like a cavalier.

In the ensuing melee, EE cut a dashing figure (and occasionally, Whirl's head), parrying Ramsay's frenzied cleaver attacks with the deftness of someone half his age and nowhere near as sexy. The harder Ramsay swang his mighty weapon, the faster EE jabbed his nib until finally, the foul-mouthed culinary maestro collapsed, his body peppered with more perforations than an OCD acupuncturist's dream episode.

'Blimey,' gasped Whirl, wiping the sweat from his brow, 'that was close.'

EE prised the cleaver from Ramsay's fingers. 'Yeah,' he grinned, 'for a minute there, I thought we'd run out of salt...'

--Whirl

Snow Job 8

“Eat her? God! Yes! I’ve wanted to do that since she was a girl, interrupted. I’ll eat her raw. But do you think he’d be all right with it?” asked Evil Editor, sotto voce, his blood-shot left eye rolling toward the lobby.

“I’ve heard they have an open marriage. Besides, I’ll be happy to keep him busy while you’re, um, busy with her,” whispered Phoenix conspiratorially.

“I’ll watch the kids. I love kids!” chimed in Chris, humming a Neil Diamond song as she drew smiley faces in the moisture-rings from their drinks. “Shiloh’s my favorite.”

“Good idea, Chris. Why don’t you round up the little rugrats and read a few chapters of Miss Pettypants to ’em? Here’s a Xanax; you’ll need it,” said Evil as he popped a little blue pill into his mouth.

The trip to Telluride had started off great; Evil Editor had enjoyed the film festival and the minor sensation his “Shorts” had caused among the cinematic elite; enjoyed the exclusive mountain retreat and the adoration of the few, but faithful, minions who’d arrived to show their support. But that was weeks ago. Only Phoenix and Chris remained with him in the snowed-in lodge, along with the famous family that had at first seemed like a bowl of cherries but was now, as far as Evil was concerned, the pits. There was still plenty of booze available, but the last bit of food (Ham n Cheez Hot Pockets) had been gobbled up by that raucous brood this morning, with naught a crumb left for anyone. And Evil was hungry. Mighty hungry. And drunk. So he was more than willing to go along with the Firebird’s suggestion, heinous though it was, to eat Angelina Jolie. In a drunken stupor, he watched as Chris and Phoenix executed their roles to a tee; the room was cleared of all distractions and Angie lay upon the divan, alone at last. But fate had other plans and Evil Editor would never know if Angie was as tasty as she looked: on the way to the lobby he stepped on a Lego and cracked his skull on the Connemara marble floor.

The End.

--Meri

Snow Job 7

“Still snowing like a mother.” I remarked.

“Put another log on the fire,” grumbled Evil Editor.

I was inclined to tell the miserable bastard to do it himself, but after two weeks of being stranded with him in this godforsaken lodge, I thought, why bother?

“This sucks,” I moaned, tossing a log into the fireplace.

“Your own fault,” Evil replied. “You should have left with the others instead of staying here just so you could park your freakin laptop in my face.”

“Well, you didn’t have to throw it in the fire.”

Evil shot me a condescending look. “Believe me, as a writer, that’s the least of your worries.”

A moment later, Oprah strode into the room.

“Evil, I’m starving. What’s left to eat,” she asked, looking straight at me.

“I’m not Evil,” I griped. “Evil’s got mutton-chops, and doesn’t look anything like me.”

She waived her hand dismissively. “Whatever. You white guys all look the same. Just hop to,” she said, snapping her fingers.

“There’s nothing left.”

“What do you mean nothing? There must be something! This is America!”

I shrugged.

“This is unbelievable!” She snapped. “I’ve built a legacy feeding hungry African children, and now I’m the one who’s going to starve!” She turned and fled to her room.

Silence.

“Damn hungry,” I remarked, trying to ignore the ache in my stomach.

Evil studied the flames “Been feeling the bite myself. Only gonna get worse. Gotta eat something.”

The way Evil said ‘something’ sent a chill through me. His eyes slid uncomfortably away from mine. He was right though. Gotta eat something.

“Oprah’s a big girl,” I ventured cautiously.

Evil nodded. “And her legacy is feeding the starving. I think we pretty much qualify. Plus, she’d want us to do the right thing. All three of us shouldn’t starve.”

I thought hard, but hunger clouded my mind. “Okay, two more days. Then, if it’s still snowing . . . we do it.”

Our eyes met in unspoken agreement.

“I could write a book about it . . . memorialize her,” I suggested weakly.

Evil pondered. “I think I could sell it."

We shook hands.

“Deal.”

--Mark Mosher

Snow Job 6

I'm halfway through my eighth pitch when Portia walks back into the lodge. She sits down beside me, swiveling on her barstool, and taps her fingernails on the bar. "Nothing."

"No planes?" I ask, watching the snow slide down her violet snowsuit, gathering in a puddle on the floor.

"Nothing," she repeats. "We're fucked."

"Great." I toss her a sympathetic smile, returning my attention to Evil Editor. "So. When Shastalinia returns to earth, she discovers the weredingos are actually humans from the future."

Portia snorts, avoiding the glass eyes of the animal heads decorating the walls. I catch her gaze, wondering if starvation can lead to telepathy. We're snowed in, my eyes say. Probably for good. Ellen would never know.

Before her eyes have a chance to reply, Evil Editor groans, resting his head on his pint glass. "If I don't eat something soon I'm going to murder someone."

"Tell me about it," Portia drawls, eying the bottles lining the shelves. "I'd kill for a decent martini."

I lean over the bar and hand her a beer.

Portia searches the label for nutritional information. I can see the wheels turning in her head as she drifts back to her days on the set of Ally McBeal, governed by the standard of the waif.

"Just drink," I say. "It's not like there's anything to eat."

"Nothing to eat," EE murmurs, watching Portia the way a cartoon cat watches a chicken, mentally transforming it into a golden, smoking roast. "Nothing . . . Wait." He lurches toward her, pointing with a shaking hand. "I can eat you."

Portia laughs, stepping away from the bar with her drink in hand. "Sorry honey," she says, taking a tiny sip. She savors the drink slowly, moving it around in her mouth. "I don't swing that way."

--Chelsea

Snow Job 5

Evil Editor wiped his brow. "I'm starving," he said. "Look, we've got to face reality. There's no food. It's better that one of us survive than none. Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of yours truly?"

"Aren't you jumping the gun a bit?" Hannibal responded. "I mean, we only ran out of food at lunchtime. Hell, you've still got bread crumbs on your jacket."

"I'm jumping the gun? You were advocating cannibalism before the snow even started, Lecter."

"Mmmm. I still say we should have roasted one of the writers in your class. With some fava beans and a nice--"

"Yeah, yeah. Isn't it time you came up with a new line?"

The door swung open, admitting one of EE's minions.

"Dinner is served," Lecter commented.

"Where is everybody?" the minion asked.

"You just missed 'em," EE said. "Where've you been hiding?"

"I was in the conservatory working on my query letter. I'm trying to come up with a way to say "work of unrivaled genius" without sounding like I'm blowing my own horn. Any ideas?"

"I'll help you with that later," EE answered. "Right now, how about coming in the kitchen with me. I'm preparing an afternoon snack, and I need you to give me a hand."

--Evil Editor

Snow Job 4

It's been over a week and there's still no sign of food. The big clock over the fireplace ticks away their lives.

I am here with Miss Hilton and Sir Muttonshops, neither of whom have spoken to each other for days. I merely keep to myself, watching from inside her purse.

I didn't bother to tell them about the cookies she had hidden in here. I ate them all, one after the other, while they prowled and dug for crumbs.

They've been eyeing me since last night. I'm too small to be more than a few bites for either of them. But I have a plan of my own, one which will save me-- and one other.

Soon they will fall asleep. I will creep from her purse, bury my Chihuahua fangs in a naked throat, and drink their lives the way my wolfen ancestors did. I will feast, and share the feast with the survivor. We will revel in my kill and we will survive.

Who shall I choose? He has more meat, she will spoil less quickly.

The hour is late. Soon I must strike.

Tick tick tick.

--Khazar-khum

Snow Job 3

"Ah hears that in Seoul, South Korea they eat stir fried canines." Myles Oliver, aspiring writer, ski instructor and resident snow stud, stood warming his hands at the stove. We had wood, companionship and in the two weeks since the snow came, eaten all the food.

"Touch Killer Yapp and die, you son of a crack-whore. They breed special dogs, mutts really, not purebred crossbreeds," EE sat in the chair opposite me reading slush and throwing it, page by page, into the fire.

"Killer Yapp's gone, fool. That's why you haven't heard her yappy little bark or stepped in her tiny piles of peekapoo poo-poo. Her piddle-puddle froze her poon to the porch on her morning perambulation. By now, she's a doorstop. Let's make her half a doorstop, what-cha-say-mah-man." Myles brandished a cleaver. EE removed his pince-nez and proffered a boning knife.

"And tomorrow, you'll supply the eggs while I cook huevos rancheros," EE threatened.

"Just as well. Not much meat on the mongrel... I dream of hunting wild animal. Visualize opportunities for slaying beefy, fleshy prey, to stalk raw meat. Think of a prom; always a good idea. First, we insist on a watery theme, a masque in lurid costumes. I'm seeing Bali Hai from South Pacific and Rapa Nui from Easter Island. Lust, skin and naked buttocks. Then we get our girlfriends to sculpt papier-mâché tropical fish and fake stone gods and cover them with Plumeria blooms. Their fragrance aids digestion. The payoff comes when we show up in native loincloths and feather headdress to crown the king and stage a live boar hunt. Blood will flow. Guts will spill. Opanahu will sue for slandering the bay. But we'll eat the bleeding, beating, boar's heart."

"Food, glorious food, eh! Mister Oliver nee O'Keefe and one-time movie star?" I said.

--Dave F.

Snow Job 2

I could feel his beady eyes boring through me. He couldn’t fool me with those passive-looking wire rims. He was sizing me up like a wolf eying a sheep. Fortunately, he shifted his hungry stare to Elle McPherson, and I could relax, at least for a few moments.

All food was gone. The storm still raged. Snow reached the eves of the chalet, and the others had taken all the snowshoes and skis when they left. Starvation stared us in the face. Somehow John Greenleaf Whittier’s Snow-Bound didn’t seem so quaint, and the Donner Party* came to mind. From the look on the editor’s face, he considered us food, and his only decision was who would be easiest, the broken down old cowboy or the slender model? It was either him, or me, or her. What I had thought would be murder, now would be self-defense if I acted first.

Circumstances were forcing me to think the unthinkable. Who would be easiest? It wasn’t obvious. She was toned and fit; he was wily. Who would be tastier? That’s easy. He was stingy with knobby joints, and she was luscious. Who would I rather eat? To paraphrase a recent president, that depends on what the meaning of “to eat” is. Regardless of the interpretation I chose, the answer came out the same. The final question was who would I rather be alone with until rescue in the spring?

It is odd how words can tumble out without thinking. “Good-bye, EE,” I said. “I’ll miss your blog!”

--Wes

*For the minions across the pond, the Donner Party were immigrants bound for California on a wagon train that became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846-47. The survivors ate their less fortunate friends.

Snow Job 1

The trio weighed their options. One of them had to go. It was a matter of survival, plain and simple. They had to eat something. And with no proper food and no route for escape, something readily translated to someone.

The celebrity spoke first.

“You can’t eat me. I have millions of fans who need me. I’m thin and pretty and young and beautiful and…”

“Annoying as hell,” Evil Editor
added.

The writer laughed.

“Quit sucking up. I told you I’m not publishing your manuscript,” Evil Editor said.

“Then I have no use for you. That makes you look tastier than her,” the writer said.

The celebrity turned to the writer. “I’ll introduce you to my agent.”

The writer contemplated the offer, until the Evil Editor interrupted his chain of thought.

“You could write about this experience as narrative non-fiction. I would consider that.”

The writer was great at contemplating, and he had a notoriously short attention span. He forgot about the celebrity’s agent and sat silently, lost in thought.

“You think it will sell?” the writer asked.

“It depends on how it ends,” Evil Editor said.

“But I’m famous!” the celebrity whined.

“And annoying as hell,” the writer and Evil Editor said in unison.

“EE, judging by the cartoon caricature of you, you weigh the most and I have the most muscle. That’s one good reason for either of us to be on the menu,” the writer reasoned.

The celebrity listened attentively. She did not know where this was going, but she liked it so far.

“But there are two good reasons to eat her,” the writer pointed at the celebrity as her look of curiosity turned to surprise.

“First, it will finally shut her up,” the writer said.

“And second?” Evil Editor asked.

“We’ll probably get high as kites.”

--Rick Daley

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Film Series

The Academy Awards are given out Sunday night. This is the first year Evil Editor's films have been eligible, but neither my films nor their performers have received nominations, despite the fact that they are clearly superior to the films that did get nominated. Why is this? you ask. One word: clout.

Apparently my relationships with Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Julia Roberts aren't enough to sway the Academy voters. Or perhaps they're just jealous. In any case, even once you're nominated your only chance of winning is to mount a massive publicity campaign, which is a polite term for a bribery campaign, and since EE Films runs on a budget of zero . . . well, you see the problem.

Not to worry. The nominees are in for the Evil Editor Film Academy Awards for films produced in 2008. View them here:

video

Winners will be announced Sunday night, and the good news is, it won't take three and a half hours.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Face-Lift 605


Guess the Plot

Feral

1. When his dad tells Cooper he has to get rid of his beloved pets, Cooper sulks, cries, and finally releases his gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs into the wild. Then he follows them, and becomes their leader--and a legend.

2. Were-woman Cinnamon takes names and kicks butt as a wilderness guide through the urban subcultures of werewolves, were-panthers, were-hyenas and other preternaturals.

3. When Janet Watson let Tom, the blind date astronaut, kiss her cheek, she had no idea he was carrying a Martian neovirus. Two weeks later, her body is covered with orange fur, she has unnaturally keen senses of smell, hearing, and night vision, and all she wants is to stalk something and eat raw meat. So she heads for the subway.

4. Teenage runaway Andrew is easy prey for the predators of New York City until a female werewolf takes him in. As their relationship progresses, will the were-woman sense that Andrew isn't what he seems to be? Could he be . . . a weredingo?

5. Dog-boy Jeff Higgins, aka Shaggy, saves his town from an evil horde of communist hot-air-ballooners in 1972, thereby averting a Cuban plot to overthrow Richard Milhouse Nixon.

6. She hunts by night, cleaning the vilest vermin off the streets of San Francisco. She's the superhero known as The Ferret, and she faces her toughest opponent yet: Weasel.


Original Version

Dearest Evil Editor,

I am seeking representation for Feral, my 60,000-word YA urban fantasy.

Sixteen-year-old Kaia is a werewolf, the result of several decades of genetic manipulation. [You can manipulate my genes for a few decades if it'll make me sixteen again.] As a child, she escaped the government facility where she was created [If a child can break out of your top secret government facility, consider upgrading your security system.] and has been lurking in the shadows of Manhattan ever since, stalking the scum of society. [She hangs out outside Yankee Stadium?] Though she is not entirely happy, she is content to act as an unknown protector of innocents, until she meets Andrew.

Andrew is a teenage runaway who has taken to the streets to escape familial abuse. Frail as a bird and innocent as a child, he is easy prey for New York's predators, and against her better judgment, Kaia takes him in. As their relationship progresses, Andrew convinces Kaia that the only way to find peace is to return to the place of her birth and destroy the man who created her. [Change her from a werewolf to a spy and this is the plot of The Bourne Ultimatum.] But Andrew isn't what he appears to be, [What is he? This sounds like the crucial twist that might actually intrigue an editor enough to request the book, and you don't reveal it? Is he a weredingo?] and Kaia soon realizes the plan he has devised to set her free could lead to her immediate demise. [Andrew: Here's the plan: Strap this . . . device onto your chest, and when you meet your creator, push this button.]

I would be happy to send you sample pages or the complete manuscript of Feral. Thank you for your time.


Notes

Is Kaia a werewolf only when the moon is full?

It's stupid to tell a werewolf that you're her creator. She'll probably assume you're just a doctor trying to help her, and thus have no reason to one day hunt you down and tear out your throat. Having left when she was a child, how does Kaia know she was created by some scientist?

Kaia was content with her lot in life when Andrew came along. How does Andrew convince her she needs to "find peace?" Does she cry herself to sleep every night? Does she twitch when she sleeps, like she's dreaming she's chasing a rabbit? If she's already found her peace ripping out the throats of scum, she doesn't need to murder her creator to find peace.

Also, what is Andrew?

Cartoon 326

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Beginning 608 (excerpt)

As Manuel led Lerocque’s trading party to the pass approaching Santa Fe Kincaid felt the mountains and mesas close around him. The heights looming above made a man feel small and uneasy. Other feelings crept in too. Feelings more unsettling, even frightening. What if Lerocque was wrong? What if the Mexicans had lost their revolution against Spain? What if the Spaniards attacked or jailed them like they did the McKnights years before? Did the others feel this way? Hard telling by seeing how loose the older men sat their horses. But they had to be thinking about being in a foreign country where their lives could be in the hands of others.

Kincaid spotted a cloud of dust, then a troop of mounted Spanish soldiers cantered around a bend. Both the soldiers and Lerocque’s men drew up short.

Kincaid stared at the soldiers. Running up on mounted troopers gives a start that turns a man inside out.

Literally.

And a man's bowel must be obeyed when it's as loose in the saddle as this.

Kincaid peered around. Mountains, mesas, soldiers . . . But no Portaloos. Next year he'd go back to the Civil War Society Reenactment. It was so much more . . . civil.


Opening: Wes.....Continuation: McKoala

Cartoon 325

Caption: Anon.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cartoon 324

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Beginning 607

The man bore down on me, leering with yellow teeth. A light flickered in his eyes as snot oozed from his left nostril. I blinked up at him, keeping my eyes passive, which he took as a sign of surrender. Really, I just wanted to memorize the look on his face right before I ripped out his throat.

I must've looked like easy prey. My silvery-white hair hung down to the small of my back, untamable as a child's; my tight blue jeans hugged my frame nicely. At five-foot seven, I was taller than the other girls he'd killed, but I carried myself with an air of insecurity that told him I wouldn't fight back. The human body is so easy to train.

Swollen purple clouds loomed over our heads, threatening to burst. Summer was screeching to a halt, and soon the scorching Scottsdale desert would be blanketed in torrential rains. I loved the lightning; the way the wide expanse of sky was, for an instant, exposed, but the sudden clapping of thunder made me nervous. It reminded me of my youth.

Days spent in the corn fields of Kansas, and the way the dark clouds would roll over the land before needle-drops of rain pricked our arms -- me and my brother Jimmy, the smart one who went to college and became a lawyer and saved our uncle's farm from foreclosure. It was that farm, or the crops we grew on it, that took me to Arizona and led me to... Shit. Where'd he go?


Opening: Chelsea P......Continuation: anon.

Cartoon 323

Caption: Whirlochre

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Synopsis 12


STOP!!!: This synopsis goes with the Fate's Guardian query posted just below it. If you haven't yet read the query and you like to play Guess the Plot, STOP NOW, without even glancing downward. The first word of this synopsis gives away the GTP, so scroll down and read the query first, then come back for the synopsis.






Synopsis- FATE'S GUARDIAN


Gil Jacobs is only seven years old when he witnesses a double-homicide. A man murders his wife and daughter, and Gil watches through the window as his best friend Julie Flaherty dies. It is an event that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Literally.

The ghost of a Troubadour, whose life ended in the thirteenth century after a love affair went terribly awry, senses the impending deaths and enters the Flaherty's house. He captures and devours the soul of Julie's mother. As the Troubadour struggles with Julie's soul, Gil's presence at the window distracts him, enabling Julie to escape.

The Troubadour [This capitalizing of "troubadour" makes it sound like his name, like he's a supervillain known as The Troubadour.] [I suppose most of the good supervillain names are already taken, but if The Troubadour is the best he can come up with, he might want to hire a PR firm.] [At least you had the good sense not to mention in the query that the villain is a troubadour. Couldn't you make him the ghost of the Black Knight?] attacks Gil, but fails. Something odd happens to the Troubadour when he is near Gil – memories of his long forgotten life begin to surface. [Memories of reciting lyric poems in the villages of France.] The Troubadour suspects that Gil played a role in his death and develops an intense hatred for Gil, vowing to take his soul. [I was going to question developing an intense hatred so quickly, but then I realized I develop intense hatreds for other drivers whenever I'm in my car.]

Julie Flaherty is frightened and alone. Trapped as a ghost, she clings to the one positive memory of her short life – Gil. She watches the Troubadour's failed attack on Gil. She can see that the Troubadour is too weak to win, [He's been devouring souls since the thirteenth century, and he's too weak to defeat a seven-year-old kid?] but she watches in fear as the Troubadour preys on other souls, growing stronger with each one he consumes.

The Troubadour attacks Gil repeatedly. During one attack, he catches a glimpse of Gil's fate. The Troubadour [Does this guy at least have a name? Anything's better than constantly calling him The Troubadour.] realizes that he cannot end Gil's life, but knowing the time and place of Gil's death, he hope he can extend it. If he succeeds, Gil's soul will be thrown into an imbalance that will weaken it, leaving him defenseless. [Nothing's more humiliating than being defeated in battle by a poet.]

Julie knows that there is only one way she can protect Gil. Using herself as bait, she lures the Troubadour far away, to other prey. [Other prey that The Troubadour can defeat? He's more powerful than anyone except a seven-year-old kid?] She provides a temporary reprieve, and Gil grows to adulthood and starts a family. But living happily ever after was never part of Gil's fate, for he is going to die in a car crash at the tender age of thirty-three. [That's quite a reprieve. She distracted the Troubadour for twenty-six years?] Unless, of course, the Troubadour can prevent the crash.

The Troubadour returns on the day of Gil's destined death, trying desperately to upset the sequence of events that leads to the crash. Julie follows and, in the moments before the crash, she sacrifices herself to the Troubadour, providing the distraction necessary to facilitate Gil's fatal end.


Notes

Amazingly, the word "Troubadour" appears fourteen times in the synopsis, and not once in the query.

It's hard to get serious about a bad guy who goes by The Troubadour. Which explains why none of the X-Men is known as The Troubadour.

The Troubadour devours souls to become stronger, so why is he so weak? Apparently reincarnated kids are at the top of the food chain and ghosts in the middle and souls at the bottom? When you're a soul you probably think God has your back. Yet ghosts can just devour you?

If your goal is to devour the souls of those who just died, shouldn't you be hanging out in war zones or hospitals instead of in the suburbs, hoping some guy will crack and kill his wife and daughter?

As with the query, maybe all the questions are answered in the book, but if you can't explain everything in the synopsis, focus on what you can explain and what doesn't cry out for an explanation.

Face-Lift 604


Guess the Plot

Fate's Guardian

1. Sometimes bad things just happen. That seems to be the case for Fate Donnelly ALL THE TIME. So, when the new kid at school claims he's a guardian angel come to keep her safe, Fate just laughs. But, now he seems to be everywhere she is; and wherever he is, things are surprisingly . . . normal.

2. Though Gil Jacobs is fated to die in a car crash, a ghost wants to keep him alive in order to take his soul. Can the soul of one of his friends save Gil 's soul by making sure his body is mangled and crushed in a horrible wreck?

3. Khathakas thought watching over Apollo's children was a lousy job. Now he's been promoted: he has to keep Fate herself from harm. Also, a talking owl.

4. In an effort to dam the flood of doorstopper fantasy novels featuring prophecies and chosen ones, agent Kris Nelson valiantly takes on the mantle of Fate's Guardian, forbidding the use of destiny-based plot devices.

5. The Earl of Wheaton was well known as a wastrel. But when his long-lost schoolmate, dying of fever in Canada, writes to beg that he care for "my little girl," he reluctantly agrees--only to find himself saddled with a green-eyed, bewitching minx named Fate, who seems determined to upset society as thoroughly as the Earl once did.

6. Courtney Wilde is an ordinary prep-school girl--until she inherits the Mantle of Fate. At first it seems like fun: she can set up her favorite teacher with the guy of her dreams, and stuff like that. But when Courtney screws up, things get bad fast. Luckily, the position comes with a Guardian. And he's a hunk!


Original Version

Dr. Evil Editor,

Gil Jacobs must die in order to save his soul. After living dozens of lives over hundreds of years, the events of Gil's past are catching up with him, and he is powerless to prevent it. [How many dozens of lives? My calculations show that a mere three dozen lives with an average age of 57 at death would have him alive about fifty years before the birth of Christ. In which case you can say thousands of years.]

Gil is supposed to die in a car crash, it's his fate, but a ghost who knew Gil in a past life is trying to keep him alive as payback for a lost love. [He's already removed the spark plugs from Gil's car.] If Gil lives past today, he will not be able to cross over when death eventually claims him, and his soul will be ripe for the taking. [What does that mean? Does the ghost have a soul of its own?] If Gil dies, he will escape to his next life and the ghost's chance at vengeance will be lost. [Why? Can't the ghost seek vengeance on Gil's next incarnation?] [If the ghost can prevent a car wreck, seems like he could also cause one, and would have caused Gil to die last week or last year.]

Fortunately, Gil is not alone in his struggle. The soul of a friend watches over him, and she alone has the capacity to keep the antagonist at bay long enough for Gil to die. [For she is a former mechanic and has a brand new set of spark plugs.] Even if it means sacrificing her own soul.

FATE'S GUARDIAN is complete at 120,000 words. It is a supernatural thriller directed toward a commercial fiction audience, and first in a series titled Destiny's Will.

I have been writing professionally for business for the past eight years, including copywriting, press releases, and proposals. I welcome the opportunity to add "published novelist" to my repertoire. Writing is in my blood and I want my stories to be read. [I hope you won't think I'm a hardass when I say that lines like that never influence me. Well, not in a positive way, anyway.]

I chose to query you after reading your blog and realizing that your style of review should find ample room for comedic commentary in the query above and the synopsis that follows. That, and I have thick skin and I think I can take it. I am also hopeful that I may learn something from this endeavor.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,


Notes

Apparently Gil's soul survived his dozens of previous deaths. So the theory is that even when you die and your soul comes through it fine, you keep coming back and your soul is once again at risk? Seems like after you've lived enough lives there'll be so many vengeance-seeking ghosts who think you wronged them in some past life that your soul won't stand a chance.

How come when Gil dies he comes back in a new life, but his friend who watches over him remains in soul form? Is it better to come back or to just be a soul?

I assume Gil is unaware that he must die to save his soul. Thus the book's conflict seems to be between the two entities who care what happens to Gil. Are they corporeal? Can they communicate with Gil? Shouldn't they be the key characters in the query, with their names and details about their relationships with Gil included?

I guess I'm more bothered by the book's world than by the plot itself. In this world, if you die when fated to die, your soul is saved and you move to a new life where you must again die when fated or lose your soul. Apparently it's not a given that you will die when fated; if it were, Gil's soul friend would see no need to intervene. Does that mean if I'm fated to die in a car wreck when I'm twenty but a snowmobile accident kills me at nineteen I lose my soul?

Possibly the average person doesn't wonder all these things, but just in case, it's probably best to say as little as possible about stuff you don't have room to explain. Basically, tell us that the spirits of two people who knew Gil in past lives are battling, one to save his soul and the other to steal it. Then you might tell us how Gil stole Pierre the Ghost's woman in the French Revolution and how Miranda the Soul grew up with him in medieval Scotland.

Cartoon 322

Caption: Anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Blind Date 9

I saw her looking around the restaurant, and figured she must be my date. We'd spoken on the phone, and when I told her I was Evil Editor she almost swooned. I waved to her and she came over to the table. "Hi," I said. "You must be Anon."

"Yes," she replied, "but who are you? I was expecting Evil Editor."

"That's me. In the flesh."

"But . . . you look more like a combination of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, except taller and darker and more handsome. Where's the pince-nez? Where's the beer gut? Where are my muttonchops?!!!

"Ah, you're thinking of the cartoon char--"

"No, no, this won't do. Can you put on some false muttonchops?"

"I don't have--"

"It's all wrong. Sorry, this was a mistake." She headed for the door and never looked back.

--Evil Editor

Valentine's Day Blind Date 8

From: Ethel Anne
To: Shirley (My New Best Friend)
Subject: Blind Date

Shirl, it didn't start great.

The candle, stuck in an ashtray from the No-Tell Motel on my table was disconcerting. I almost bolted. I remembered what you said about not getting any younger and it’s easier to get eaten by a warthog than for a woman of a certain age to find companionship other than at an animal shelter -- so I stayed put.

Soaking up ambiance at Cafe Carpe Diem was easy, most of it stuck to my feet. Squeaking like two chipmunk’s caught in a tar pit, my stilettos were killing me, so I got out my date affirmations and started to chant -- “If I let go of my feelings of pain -- I can wear these shoes long enough to get laid.” -- Relaxing, I momentarily forgot my size 18 derriere was in a size 6 foundation garment and living on borrowed time.

So sue me, I took one tiny breath and bang! -- seams ripped and my dog-eared copy of, Novel Deviations by Evil Editor, slid to the floor and under the seat of the man next to me.

It was Evil Editor himself! His eyes caught mine as he reached under his chair, caressing me with a burning intensity that made me pat myself down to see if all my comma’s were in place.

“Nice shoes -- nice legs -- really nice book,” he said, smiling wickedly as his hand came up from the floor.

Well, Shirl, we talked for hours. He collects English first editions -- my cat's name is Churchill. So much in common, who would of thought?

I’m thinking, June, chartreuse and orange theme, you my dowager of honor..... it’s in the stars!


PS -- Is it, like, normal, to require a contract - “I will follow submission guidelines on all queries related to the relationship,” - before a second date?

--Hebe

Valentine's Day Blind Date 7

I closed my eyes and tried to think of something else -- anything else -- other than what was happening now.

"Relax, honey, it's almost over."

Oh god. Just almost? What more was she thinking about doing? How could I have let things go this far?

Oh, the wining and dining had been nice. And the flattery! I'm a sucker for flattery. A few skilled words and I fall hard. And Evilette was certainly a pro in the art of pitching woo.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to, you know, swing that way or not. But there she was and there I was, and then she was asking in that sultry, seductive way that I couldn't refuse. I could have said no, maybe should have said no, but what came out instead was yes.

And now here we were and it was painful, more painful than I thought it could be. I just wanted it to be over.

And suddenly it was.

"There now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" She sounded like a doctor who's just ripped a 10-pound kid out of a 2-inch orifice.

"What now?" I whispered.

"Now we let my brother have a go."

I sobbed quietly.

Then I heard a deep masculine voice say, "I'll take it from here." And as Evil Editor slipped in, Evilette slipped out.

He was -- as I'd known he'd be, dreamed he'd be, hoped he'd be -- gentle. And I knew it was with him that I was meant to be.

When it was over, I asked, "Did I really have to, you know, go with Evilette first?"

Evil put down his red pen and smiled a soft and knowing smile. "Of course, dear. I like my work pre-edited. That's why I don't accept unagented manuscripts."

--Phoenix

Valentine's Day Blind Date 6

I couldn't believe I had a blind date for Valentine's Day. How the hell did that happen? Well, all right, that's another story altogether.
A long one. So here's the short one, about my blind date...

She told me he'd been tasty, back before the pubishing buyout wars. Said he was still gorgeous, in his own special way. But how tasty could an editor be, hunkered down and lumpen, sitting in his chair all day, ruining his eyesight reading and reading, the only spark in sight the fire in his imagination, in those folded secret places back behind his eyes?

So I expected nothing much, no fanfare of an entrance, no waylay of emotion. Just some middle-aged guy in a nondescript suit, walking in anonymously and finding my table at the restauarant. And I'd look up, say hello, and we'd exchange banalities as we sipped our wine.
Yeah. Whatever.

I checked the entrance with my peripherals, and sure enough, the suits filed in. Beige and gray and navy and black...and then, a shocking, shocking blue, blue enough to notice, blue enough to say I've arrived.

I sucked down the first glass of white wine, grinning big at Him. Oh yes, it was Him. Evil Editor. The man in blue.

And what made him even better was, he wore a black turtleneck shirt under that blue of his. God, I love turtlenecks on men. Makes me want to undress them. Makes me want to dive on in. If he'd been wearing his traditional cravat, I'd have been polite, even adoring, but I'd never have gone craven...

So...here we sit now... in my hot tub, many glasses of wine later. The man's amazing. And his muttonchops? The soft-stroking feel of lambswool, and not only on his face..oh yeah, what was I supposed to say? Come whisper in my ear, baby. Ummmmm. Right. Right. "Happy Valentine's Day."

--Robin S.

Valentine's Day Blind Date 5

The doorbell rang. I checked myself out in the full-length mirror on my way to the door. I was looking hot in a rose-pink brocade cocktail suit—a Karl Lagerfeld knockoff—that exactly matched the tendrils on my snout and set off my fur beautifully. I opened the door to…Evil Editor!

“Well, hell,” I exclaimed as he reeled backwar d with a gasp. “I wonder which of us Buffysquirrel was playing the practical joke on when she set up this blind date. Or was she just being squirrelly as usual?”

Evil Editor fell to his knees. “Please, Talpianna, don’t hurt me! Not again!”

“Oh, stop squirming around on the hall carpet and come on in. We’ll figure something out.”

I poured us each a glass of Valmolicella and sat down next to him. He quickly gulped the wine and I refilled his glass, studying him carefully. What with the way he usually ran off at the sight of me, and my poor vision, I hadn’t really gotten a good visual impression of him before.

“You clean up pretty good,” I said. “And I was looking forward to going out.”

“You look very nice,” he mumbled into his glass.

“Okay, we’ll go through with this. At least it will be a way to score off Buffy. Did you make plans?”

“No, no. Whatever you want. Wherever you want to go. Just don’t HURT me!”

“Then we’ll make it a night to remember! Cocktails at the Molein Rouge, followed by dinner. I’ll have their fabulous escargot mole poblano for a starter, then the sautéed eels, and tiramousu for dessert. Then a movie. The local art theatre is showing a revival of INVASION OF THE MOLE PEOPLE.

“Then we’ll come back here. I’m sure you’ve made love to a gal on a fur blanket. Ever done it with one WE ARING one?”

I stared down at the muttonchopped form lying unconscious on my rug.

“Evil? Was it something I said?”

--Guess who

Valentine's Day Blind Date 4

“Pleasure to meet you! Call me ‘El’” said Elba, introducing herself as she rose from her seat with the grace and fluidity of a stalk of wheat in the wind. “This is my companion, Josephine,” she said, reaching down to give the alert Shepherd a pat. “I hope you don’t mind, I’ve taken the liberty of ordering for both of us. I believe the paté has arrived,” she said, now seated and deeply inhaling of the fragrant foie gras.

Evil Editor stroked his muttonchops and surveyed the situation. The chick was hot; apparently she was also blind. But then again, this was a blind date. The table was okay and dog was tolerable; (under the circumstances) but the main reason he agreed to see Elba was because the restaurant had a chef from Hell’s Kitchen. Evil took a seat, a paté-smeared cracker and a long draught from the golden snifter of brandy to his right, briefly succumbing to a mild fit of discomfiture as he realized that the paté didn’t suck. “Not bad,” he mumbled. “What’s for Supper?”

“You’ll be surprised,” replied Elba.

“I don’t like surprises.”

“I’m an anonymous minion who loves you!”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” said Evil, feeling somewhat cheated suddenly.

“I’ve brought my manuscript!”

“That certainly doesn’t surprise me. But let’s have a look,” sighed Evil.

“Madame and Monsieur, Chef Brian and the entire staff of Chez Fromage hope you enjoy your entrée this evening. Bon appetite!” recited the waiter, placing the dishes onto the table with rehearsed precision as Josephine inched further beneath the table. Elba shoved the manuscript back into the envelope but at the last moment, Evil plucked it from her grasp.

“I think I’ll have a moment for this, later,” said Evil Editor. “In the meantime, this looks divine and smells heavenly. What is it?” he asked, just before his windpipe swelled to constrictive proportions in allergic response to the Steak au Poivre that had been cooked in peanut oil instead of olive oil and he collapsed, writhing on the floor beneath the table as Josephine licked his cheeks in sympathy.

As the gurney was inserted into the back of the ambulance Evil mumbled, before he succumbed to the Demerol, “Able was I ’ere I saw Elba!”

--Meri

Valentine's Day Blind Date 2

Dear Evil Editor

I know you will be surprised to find this letter waiting for you, instead of me.

It's just that a blind date is not so blind when you send a photo and information package in advance. However, I must say I am grateful, because I have, as you so kindly suggested, used that information to plan our long-term future.

Your allergy to all types of soap, shampoo and deodorant is certainly unfortunate, as is the excessive sweat condition that you suffer. Your chronic flatulence due to your restricted diet of meat and beans is not, as you say, your fault, nor is the long list of genetic conditions from which you suffer, which, as you say, may also affect our offspring.

Thank you for your questions regarding my own health. I have no major allergies, however I think that, physically, I may not be what you are looking for. I regret that I do not have 'children-the-size-of-a-small-whale-that-the-EE-gene-pool-produces-sized hips'. Nor am I willing to undertake the surgery required to lead-line my womb to prevent internal damage from fetal laser eyes. The requirement that we live in an underground bunker, lest the inherited projectile acid vomiting syndrome destroy all surrounding forms of nature until Baby Evil grows out of it, is also not something I am willing to do.

In conclusion, our long-term future ends here. Thank you for your time and if you need any further clarification, please talk to our mutual friend who arranged this date and pass on my regrets to her also. And while you're at it, if you could tell Robin never to fix me up on a blind date again, I'd be grateful.

Yours sincerely,

--McK

Valentine's Day Blind Date 1

I told the hostess to send the person looking for the blind date to the secluded booth at the back of the bar. Nice booth, I thought as I took a seat. It’s even got a velvet curtain to close in case I want to get cozy or if I don’t want to be seen with some troll.

Then unfortunately, I started giving myself a mental ass-kicking. Wes, you dumb fuck, here it is Valentine’s Day and the best you can do is get fixed up with some agent named Evilette. With that name she’s probably got a tongue that cuts like a razor and burns like acid. I’ll bet she looks like some ancient librarian not allowed out of the stacks. And WTF were you thinking by shelling out a hundred bucks for roses and another fifty for chocolates?

Time passed slowly, my date hadn’t shown yet, and my pre-party martini had stretched to three. The self-loathing continued. OK, Wes, why the hell are you here? Are you afraid of spending this day of love alone? Do you want to get in her knickers? Or do you want to pitch that stupid book of yours to her? Be honest, you loser. It’s the book, isn’t it? You blew all that money, plus who knows how much more just to closet some agent. Admit it! Well, if that’s the case, you deserve what you get.

I heard the thick curtain rustle and saw a hairy hand pull it back. A face with wire rim glasses and muttonchop sideburns peered in. “There must be some mistake,” the man said. “I was expecting my date.”

“I would say so,” I retorted indignantly. “My date is an agent.”

“I’m an editor.”

“Really? Have a seat and let me tell you about my book.”

--Wes

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Film Series



Some marvel at what they find in Evil Editor's Shorts, but most simply laugh.

video

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Beginning 606 (short story)

Schoolboys have always been taught, since time immemorial, that witches are not to be trusted. Our literature abounds with instances where the most noble of men came to unhonorable ends for their unjustified belief that good is to be expected from the wicked or that honesty can be sought in the mumblings of the vermin who offered their souls to the evil one in return of perishable earthly favors.

Somewhere in Eastern Europe, in a forgotten corner of Transylvania, not too far from a mass grave of a dozen Turk soldiers who were impaled by the order of the terrible Vlad, the locals can tell you a folk tale that utilizes the same theme, although it takes the notions of cruelty, treason and desecration to unexplored levels that never fail to excite disgust.

It goes that a certain antique prince, whose name is irrelevant, having consumed all the pleasures of the flesh, may it be food, drink or fornication, had decided to descend more into the infernal abyss, and learn the dark arts, not for any possible outcome, but for the sole pleasure of violating the divine will of our good lord. He sought joining a fraternity whose uncanny fame offended even the most depraved of men. Some say that he was introduced to it by a prostitute whom he had been frequenting, others deny this detail, asserting that those pests lured him into the forest where their meetings were held by means of voices that drove sanity out of his head.

That's the thing with prostitutes: they're trouble, trouble. Better off without them. Same with witches and fraternities. And Turks. Stay away from all of them, or you'll pay the price with your soul. Anyway, now stand for hymn number 473, All Things Bright and Beautiful.


Opening: Fady Bahig.....Continuation: Anonymous

Cartoon 321

Caption: anon.

Your caption on the next cartoon! Link in sidebar.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Q & A 168

When writing a novel, and the character is talking in a foreign language, but you write it in English so the reader understands it, is there another form of mark to use besides the traditional quotation marks to indicate that the words being spoken are in fact another language besides the English being read? Something like (^) for instance?

Example:
Speaking his native Spanish, Jose said, ^Please don't do that.^

Or do you simply make it clear in the prose that the words being spoken are in another language, and use regular quotation marks?


You can do it like your sample, but with quotation marks. It's a bit cumbersome, so you might try:

Jose said, "Por favor, no hagas eso."

Jim replied, "Okay, I'll stop doing that."

We have to figure out what Jose said from the context. Unless we know Spanish.


What's the setting? If they're in Spain, it should go:

Jose: Por favor, no hagas eso.

Jim: Sorry, I don't speak whatever language that was.

Jose: American, eh? I said, stop urinating on my shoes.

Once it's established that Jose speaks English, you're home free. However, if it's set in the United States, we can assume Jose doesn't speak English, so it's not uncommon to just put his words in Spanish and italicize them. Again, it's up to the reader to figure out what was said. Here's a French example:

"Donnez-moi ces pommes de terres frites Americain," Pierre said, and Jules handed him the requested American fried potatoes.

Note how the author cleverly inserts a hint to help the reader interpret.

It may be worth noting that if this book is for an American audience, they're not going to care what a foreign character has to say, so you may as well make the foreigner a mute. He can communicate with English-speaking characters by playing charades, which could add humor to several scenes in the book.

Face-Lift 603


Guess the Plot

The Halleluiah Chicken

1. When Pastor John beheads a chicken for dinner, he's shocked that it continues to live--headless. Convinced it's a sign from God, he and Lazarus the Rooster embark on a journey across America.

2. This summer has been just plain weird. First, Cassie's dad leaves town with a suitcase full of embezzeled money, then her mom joins a strange religious born-again group, and now her health-obsessed aunt is making them eat chicken every night for dinner. And the worst part: It's only half-way through July.

3. Gloria the hen knew exactly why she wanted to cross the road: to get to the religious revival on the other side. Can she dodge aggressive roosters, angry farmers, and the dreaded arguments of her atheist friends to make it to her own Halleluiah?

4. A rooster attempts to take over the leading religious communities by raising an army of genetically modified chickens while passing himself off as the first reincarnation of the Christian Messiah and the 15th Embodiment of the Tibetan Poachen Lama.

5. Frank Donnelly, newly appointed CEO of McDonald's Corporation, attempts to appeal to Christian consumers by hiring a priest to bless the meat. But when the big cheese in heaven starts speaking to Frank, via The Halleluiah Chicken and the Beef McJesus, all hell breaks loose!

6. Maria, the shy daughter of an ailing farmer, is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when her father's favorite chicken turns up at the site of a religious miracle, leads police to find a missing boy, and pecks at a wanted, fleeing criminal. When crowds swarm her family's property, hoping to pay homage to the chicken, Maria faces some tough decisions.


Original Version

A power-hungry chicken with a messianic complex emerges from a caponiere to take over the world's religious communities and spread a new gospel based on Chicanery.

Adolph Schickengroper, a Minorca rooster raised in the bower of an eagle's aerie, attempts to take over the leading religious communities by raising an army of genetically modified chickens while passing himself off as the first reincarnation of the Christian Messiah, Huevos Christos, and the 15th Embodiment of the Tibetan Poachen Lama. [Not sure exactly what "take over religious communities" means, but we don't need it in both the first and second sentences.]

Arnold Hamnegger, a culture hero and soul mate of the wily bird, acquires the ability to communicate with all feathered fowl after he is bitten by a pit viper and in the ensuing struggle swallows some of its blood.

My novel of social satire consists of 68,000 words and is based on dozens of folk tales and superstitions surrounding birds and snakes indigenous not only to the United States but Europe and Asia. [What's indigenous to the US and Europe and Asia? The folk tales or the birds and snakes? Either way get the birds and snakes out of the sentence as they're drying up the humor.] [In fact, save the folk tales for your closing paragraph. Just tell us what happens.]

The folk tales, though not entirely concealed, are convincingly disguised in this contemporary satirical farce of a middle-aged family man who falls in love with a country and western singer, leaves his home and family to become a lone groupie, but is turned by the hand of fate into an American culture hero.

Ophites, trolls, evangelists, sports fans, TIME reporters resurrected from the dead, creatures from Irish, Welsh, Indian and Eastern mythology, and an American socialite so fat she is capable of disguising herself as a Victorian mansion, cruise ship and/or a blimp, [The mansion is funny. The cruise ship and blimp are the same joke. Settle for one laugh or risk getting none.] [Also, that list is too long. Shorten it to Trolls, evangelists, zombies, mythological creatures and an American socialite so fat . . . ] parade through the pages of this novel in time to resurrect humanity from the menace of Chicanery.

____________ is a news and articles editor with 20 years experience. He has worked for newspapers and magazines in the USA, and for international wire services and human rights publications in Hong Kong, Thailand and China. [No need to use 3rd person . . . unless you aren't the author. Did the chicken write this?]


Notes

Put the bio, word count, genre, etc. in the last paragraph and stick with the plot in the rest.

Pretend it's not a farce and organize it as if it's a serious novel. We'll get that it's wacky from the details, but we need to know how it progresses. Arnold leaving his home should be close to the front. How does he meet Adolph? Is he Adolph's translator? How successful is the chicken? Does he fill stadiums?

The huevos/poachen gags lead me to wonder if this is a world in which the leading religious communities are already fowl-based. If the chicken is taking over humanity's leading religious communities, which makes for a better satire, I'd leave those jokes out of the query.

This crazier the story, the more I want to feel the author is in control. The query is pretty much out of control. A tight query will go a long way toward convincing us you can handle this material.

Personally, I don't like the use of the names Hamnegger and Schickengroper, especially the former. Those are cheap laughs, better suited to a kid's book. We want to feel like an average guy is getting caught up in insanity. If his name is Hamnegger, we're not going to feel like it's real.