Story excerpt: Kittygirl vs. evil videogames!

This excerpt is from my third Kittygirl story, which I was not able to present at the last meeting. So I am hoping my critique group will take a look and leave comments. Anyone else is welcome to comment also, but I prefer writers.

(I performed it last night at a Red Rock Coffee open mic. It went over well, but I hav to keep track of my villain voices. I was told John Glutt sounded a bit like Bullwinkle. Actually I think of Simpsons Comic Book Guy.)

WHAT HAS GONE ON BEFORE! At the big super-videogame convention, eight year old Kittygirl played the videogame where you can be Super Holly Hansson, the mightiest superhero on Earth! Then Kittygirl’s hero and B.F.F. Super Holly flew Kittygirl to the kid gaming pavilion, where the other super kids played videogames and told Kittygirl that she missed the election for president of the new super kid club. Super Holly flew to the super gaming castle where all the superheroes were going to introduce a super videogame. Kittygirl found out that she’d left her badge with Super Holly and bounded after her in fifty-foot kitty-leaps. Inside the gaming castle, Kittygirl saw henchmen operating videogames, oh no, a supervillain must be near! And she heard something that made her hair fluff up in fear!

From behind a twenty-foot high wall surrounding the center of the castle came Super Holly’s heroic and ANGRY voice! “Stoppit!” POW! “Oh, you want some too?” WHAM! “I hate the mind-controlled-friends against the hero cliche, I HATE IT!” POW THUD BAM!!!

Kittygirl tippy-toe-quietly ran, LEAPED, and landed feet-first perfect on top of the wall. And what she saw made her claws pop out! MMMROWL!

Men gamers stood on a stage and operated controllers and smiled big and mean like comic book villains! Between the stage and the wall, a great big bunch of supers wearing metal helmets grabbed at Holly! For every one Holly fought off—BIFF! BAM! WHAM! KAPOWIE!!!—three more took their place! Holly growled and kicked and punched and said bad words, good thing Mom wasn’t there.

One of those gamers goggly-eyed stared at Holly as he danced with his game controller. He was tall, skinny, dressed in white, had a big icicle nose… ICE CREAM GUY! Kittygirl crouched for a pounce with a HISSSSSS!

Super Holly’s eyes aimed right at Kittygirl like big blue pleading lasers. Kittygirl was not surprised Holly heard that, they knew every mad/sad/glad sound the other made. Holly shook her head NO. Kittygirl tensed, her claws popped in-out-in-out… but Holly was right. There were way too many supers, Kittygirl would just get caught too. Kittygirl crouched down to hide, and she bit her lip to not cry.

Then Kittygirl stiffened her lips. She couldn’t save her hero, but she could watch and learn that frosty fiend’s evil plan! From the edge of the stage, he operated his controller like a racing car steering wheel as he long-toothy smiled down at Holly. “HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH! I have you now, my p-p-p-pretty!”

Holly threw a couple of supers fifty feet and snarled, “You’ll have my fist in your— UMPH!!!” Great big beefy mighty muscle arms had wrapped around Holly from behind. She squirmed and thrashed, she kicked her feet, but she did not break free! Wow, that guy must be STRONG! Holly yelled, “URGH, NO NO NO NO,” looked over her shoulder, and stopped fighting. “Oh no. Not you too, Flex.”

That nice bodybuilder guy with the super-handsome face was not smiling his wonderful smile. He held Holly like he was a human robot.

From a shadowy place on the stage came a conceited, obnoxious, fat-cheeked laugh that made Kittygirl’s neck fur fluff up. “HUH, HUH, HUH!!! You are trapped, foolish female! Every bit of strength you throw at Fred Lexington—”

“Makes him stronger,” Holly said. “I know, I know! Would you please not narrate everything you see?”

Kittygirl swallowed a MMMROWL! Waddling to center stage was her former godfather, JOHN GLUTT! Nearly as wide as he was tall, same tight red supersuit with an A on the chest, same big bushy beard, and same big fat mouth that blabbed on and on and on! “As leader, the joy of monologging belongs to ME! So, before I find your caped and cowled boyfriend who vanished in a puff of smoke when I sprung my trap on these other silly supers, AND just before I convert the mightiest of the supers—namely YOU, Super Holly Hansson!—into my master gaming piece, AND as I will then diabolically gain mastery of every gamer in the world, allow me to introduce what you foolish superheroes should have created but didn’t and I did: a super league! A league of…” He finally took a deep breath, his belly and chest got bigger, and he yelled all that hot air back out again. “Objectificationists! Say hello to Ice—”

Holly interrupted, glaring at Ice Cream Guy. “We’ve met.”

Ice Cream Guy glared at John. “You did not s-s-s-say anything about j-j-j-joining your sexist cult!”

BZZZzzzz… Kittygirl scrunched lower as a drone flew by, smooshing onto the wall like a kitty rug.

A guy in a rumpled lab coat operated two controllers at once. That evil inventor, STEPHAN! He wheezed with a face as rumply as his coat, “Chill out, my frosty friend, you will like how Super Holly will dress for this occasion!”

A couple of pretty super ladies did pretty poses beside Stephan. EW, they were dressed in tiny clothes like that stupid girl in that fast car game.

Super Holly’s face turned red, and Kittygirl guessed not because of Flex’s tight, strength-sucking grip, “I am NOT wearing THAT!”

Stephan threw back his ugly head for his nasty evil laugh. “BEE-YOU, HA HA HA HAAAAA!!! Yes you will! For my turn-people-into-drones drone technology works perfectly!”

Next to Stephan, a teenage guy raised a finger in the air and smiled like the smartest student in class about to correct the teacher for the umpteenth time. “I, Creastly Smusher, must inform you that it is my superior software in your inferior hardware that allows the drones, once they attach themselves to a human cranium, to override the brain and allow said human to be operated like a gaming character. And when said human is super, my software additionally allows said superpowers to be networked—”

John Glutt’s face turned red as his suit. “SHUT UP, CREASTLY!” He turned back to Holly. “As I was expositioning, the combination of my supervillain team’s skills and powers form a perfect plan of brains and might that cannot fail! Women shall learn their proper place!”

Kittygirl heard a loud, dumb, “BRRRRRRAAAAGGGHHHHHH!!! HARRY HATE SWORD LADY GAME!!!”

John turned toward the back of the stage. “Okay, Mr. Muscles, what NOW?!?!”

The wall shook under Kittygirl as—STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!—seven foot tall, five foot wide Harry Headbutt gorilla-walked to John. Kittygirl’s nose squinched at the real Harry’s stinky sweaty tummy. “STUPID CONTROLLER TOO PUNY FOR HARRY’S FINGERS! SEE?!?!” YUCKY, bad breath too!

Harry mushed his fat sausage fingers on the controller. Before the stage, that nice swordlady Teri Silver stumbled left and right, jumped ten feet high, somersaulted, then belly-flopped onto the floor.

BZZZZZZ… With a flick of her claws, Kittygirl silently sliced a drone in half. MROWL, you’re not gonna drone me!

Westley raised his finger and grinned again. “I did inform you that you needed large economy sizes for large lumbering louts.”

John and Stephan and Harry all yelled, “SHUT UP, CREASTLY!” Then John yelled at Stephan, “Make a bigger controller for that lumbering lummox. Pronto!”

Stephan yelled back, “I demand overtime!”

Harry yelled, “HARRY NOT LUMBER!!!”

Holly stared at them with her mouth open. So did Kittygirl. John was a really bad boss. Then Holly bashed her head back and hit Flex’s controlling helmet, YES! But the helmet did not break, NO!

“HUH HUH HUH!” Like a big water balloon, John Glutt wobbled to the edge of the stage to look down his nose at Holly. “Your strength is useless against Flex’s helmet, for like me, my drone helmets—”

Stephan loudly wheezed with a frown, “You mean MY helmets!”

Westley calmly said with a smile, “And my software.”

John said, “SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU!” He stomped his foot, sending a ripple up his plump leg that rolled his belly. Then he operated his game controller. “Like me, my drone helmets copy the powers and abilities of whatever super wears them! Like you, my failing female! Have a pretty hat for your puny head! HUH HUH HUH!!!”

Oh no, a drone glommed onto Holly’s head! The lights on it flashed brighter and faster! Holly struggled and screamed, “NOOOOOO!!!”

Kittygirl’s phone went BZZT! Her Mom’s voice blasted from it way too loud! “Katsuko! Where are you? LUNCHTIME!”

Holly’s eyes were so loving. “Sweetie… be bossy… uhhh…” Her brave, pretty face lost all expression!

John Glutt pointed his arm like a fat gun at Kittygirl. “STOP THAT CAT GIRL!”

TO BE CONTINUED!

Advertisements

My critique group goes to work!

If you write, join a critique group: other writers who read and critique your writing. Yesterday, my critique group liked the conclusion of “The Criminal Cupid!” (click to read it) I’ll share their comments. (And I will likely do that again for future critiques.)

One newer lady had said this was the first story I’d turned in where she could easily visualize what was happening. She said I had a little more description that slowed down the action and let her keep up. (I still have concerns that I skimp on description.) An older lady who wrote wonderful prose-poetry said, “This is slower?”

My methhead description felt awkward. (I agree.)

One writer said the Billy Jack banter felt flat and did not contribute to the story progress. Another writer really liked it. (That bit is there because Bennie is delaying the arrow girl so Holly has a chance to break free, and so I can take a shot at Billy Jack. I’ll rewrite it to show the former.)

Late 60s Bennie the cop needed to resist 25-year-old Holly more lest he come off as creepy. (I am putting more effort into Bennie holding off love-arrow-smitten Holly. I must make sure the reader knows what Bennie is thinking: Holly needs to back off and get back to police work! It’ll make for better, funnier conflict.) And as a corollary, a writer also said the badge cam felt creepy. (The camera stays! All the cops wear them! I will foreshadow the camera earlier, Holly will also wear one for her day on the police force.)

When Holly struggled against her bonds, followed by her dialog, one writer did not know who was speaking. (I have erased dialog tags too often! Readers MUST know who says what! I will tag that.)

I stole a line from Time Bandits when the villain is about to cast a spell: “Half-warthog? Half-donkey? Half-oyster? Half-carrot?” Arrow girl says, “Half hippie. Half hipster. Half commie. Half socialist. Half angry poet. Half stoned rock star. Half vegan. Half beatnik. Half tie-dyed anti-war protestor. And no cop!” One writer said, “That’s a lot of halves.” (I added a Bennie wisecrack about the girl being bad at math.)

One write gave me the line “untidily bowled over” for the shattered toilet knocking people down. (I took it!)

A writer wants a better description of the arrows. (I will describe earlier in the story, maybe Holly can say superpowered exposition stuff?

A writer liked the collard greens joke and the mocha brown face and Holly’s pale Swedish face gag, but did not get Holly’s beaky nose as deadly weapon. Also said the fascist references seemed to refer to our current government. (Actually, that came from annoying Marx worshippers I met decades ago in college. They’re likely tea-partiers now, wimps who always stuff their little pea brains into a comforting ideology. “Ew, this capitalism sandwich tastes like crap! I’ll hoark down this communism sandwich in one swallow, I don’t need to smell or taste it, it must be good cuz the other is bad!” The epitome of willful stupidity!)

P.S. Ugh, the story is up to 7000 words, that is TOO MUCH! But I have the middle and beginning to rewrite, and a big scene to cut out, so I hope to get it to the ideal length of just over 5000 words. Ideal in not too long, and maybe can be split into 2500 parts for shorter audio files.

Samples are puny, how about WHOLE stories?

I only have little samples of my short stories on this website. I am thinking of putting entire stories, and maybe I could get some feedback. I have followers. Maybe some fellow bloggers/writers would like to read and comment on my stories. (And maybe I could seek out theirs?)

I could keep them on my site until I deem them ready to publish on Kindle and Smashwords. Frankly, the barber story is WAY overdue for publishing!

Andy Weir (The Martian) did this. It worked for him. So expect some whole stories soon to replace the samples I have now.

In the meantime, have a great Christmas (or whatever your equivalent is).

My First Professional Rejection!

My story to Fault Zone was rejected. Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

The Fault Zone editors gave a quick critique of my rejected story. That is much, much, MUCH better than empty silence! I hope they keep doing that. And I hope they do not mind that I critiqued their critique. I consider this my first professional rejection, and it is worth writing about.

The Hook.
Supply a hook at the start of the story? That’s good advice. I can supply a better taste of what is to come: a storyline about the irritations of mansplaining. That would be better than “The black and the blue raced to the rescue!”

We Want Information. Information. INFORMATION!
Let readers figure out on their own that this is a fruit-named computer company instead of saying it outright? That’s not so good advice, in my opinion. I want the time and location known immediately, so my first paragraph is “SEASIDE CITY, CALIFORNIA. THE APRICOT COMPUTER CAMPUS. THE PRESENTATION THEATER. A FRIDAY. 3:17 P.M.” Naturally, I will describe the location when my POV (point of view) character sees it. Alfred Hitchcock said his movies were not mysteries, which were about withholding information from the audience, but about giving information, as in there’s a bomb under the table. Also, this banner adds a comic book and cartoon flavor to my story. Others get it: at a workshop last Saturday, editor Charlotte Cook read the start of my story in the louder, slightly pompous tone that I adopt when I have read the banner-type opening of my stories at open mics. She GOT what I was doing.

Disjointed Prose.
They (or “I”) “found the prose disjointed and difficult to follow,” and then they did not say why? At Saturday’s workshop, a writer next to me read some of my story and liked it, but she pointed out exactly where she was confused about who was speaking and what was taking place. Them not giving an example of the problem made me wonder if they just did not like my style.

Sound Effects.
Forced sound effects should only be used in graphic presentations? No, I want a goofy comic book feel, an Adam West Batman sound. Sound effects words are words, why not use them in a prose story? Of course, a POW, THOOM, or SHUSH-SPLUT-SKAAAH (last one stolen from Don Martin) should not be overused, but sprinkled like a spice. And it had better be the right spice, cinnamon in spaghetti sauce would taste weird. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind later. But not today.

More Critique at a Writing Workshop
I printed and brought the story to a writing workshop last Saturday. Charlotte Cook, editor and former publisher, gave me some good advice when she read my story aloud to the workshop (she read several). I have been working on third person deep point of view. Charlotte mentioned close third person, and where I was not using it and thus pushing the reader away from the story. Telling instead of showing is generally a BIG NO-NO. She also pointed out my sentences that ran on too long. Readers should not gasp for air when they read. And she pointed out leading dependent clauses, which I should avoid. Like “Her red cape flapping, Holly flew over Cal and the charging ninjas.” Make the flapping cape its own sentence.

I am feeling better about my first professional rejection. I’ll wear it like a badge of honor. Or a T-shirt or underpants? I remember Isaac Asimov telling how he was with some writer friends, and he asked one of them how he handled rejection. The guy hemmed and hawed, and said he did not know, he had never had a rejection. Isaac said that it was only that this guy was a really nice guy that they did not kill him where he stood.

P.S. I still see myself as an indie author (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.), I do not ever see myself going to a New York publisher. I have thought about Sand Hill Press, or other small publishing house. I’ll see how the novel goes. For now, I get my short stories professionally polished and then I put them out for sale. Or for twisting in the wind.