Kittygirl’s first sketch!

At the San Francisco Comic Con today, I had Amber Padilla (her Tumblr) draw Kittygirl and Super Holly. That little verbal sparring is in their stories. And yes, I stole Wolverine’s claw sound, Kittygirl can claw through steel also. Amber added Kittygirl’s fannypack (she said it would be like her hero Holly’s) and those cute kittycat shoes. Kittygirl wore kittycat ears the first time she met Holly. I bought a few comics from Amber: Old Man Malo, Sugar Coated, and a little 8-pager: The Rescue. I like how Kittygirl gets on tippy-toe.

Thank you, Amber! You grok Kittygirl!

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Had a GREAT open mic last night!

I was at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View for the Monday open mic, and I read part of my current story starring Kittygirl (Katsuko Kimura, who has super kittycat powers, and who loves Super Holly Hansson, and Super Holly loves Katsuko every bit as much). In this story, an EEEEEVIL villain, whose voice I based on Simon Bar Sinister (I love doing his evil laugh!), hit Super Holly with a time gun and turned her into an eight year old girl. Holly did not have superpowers at that age, but she was still a spitfire and proved it by breaking the villain’s nose with one punch.

Anyway. The crowd really loved the reading, I got laughs (like when Little Holly did a taunting Cyrano-type speech to distract a big-nosed, gun-toting henchwoman), and appreciative cheers (like “Ooo!” when Kittygirl knocked out said henchwoman).

When the open mic ended, I thanked a few guys at a nearby table for being a great audience. One guy said he would by recording of my stories, so I guess I should put some on sale someday. They asked me about the sound effects in my reading, like echoing. Turns out the sound guy added sound effects to my reading: echoing voice and the like. I thanked him too. And a lady gave me a quick drawing she did of Kittygirl. Actually, I do not envision Kittygirl with a tail or kitty ears, but it was nice of her to draw Kittygirl. (I have thought about giving Kittygirl slightly pointy, elf-like ears.)

I am a writer, and I am a performer. Expect more audio files. I love open mics!

P.S. At a writer gathering this evening, one of the writers read a pirate character, and did a great job. He said I had inspired him with my readings. I think I want a pirate-type character in a Super Holly story. Not sure about hero or villain, or even male or female. But I love reading pirate characters, like I did for Sulu’s Gay Trek.

Kittygirl and I are quarter-finalists!

My unpublished short story, Kittygirl Vs. the Fiendish Brain Freezer, made the quarter-finals in ScreenCraft’s Cinematic Short Story 2017 Contest. They wanted a short story, not a script, with special cinematic potential. I guess Kittygirl has that. Yay!

Out of 1400 contestants, I am in the top 350 or so. I submitted my story in December. In February, they will pick the five finalists. The top prize is about $1000 and introductions to agents, publishers, and genies who can grant three wishes.

Will I be one of the finalists? 5 out of 350? I wish. But I got a prize already: by paying a little extra upon submission, I got professional feedback. I love that. Makes me feel like an author.

I blew up a puppy!

At an open mic a couple weeks ago, a lady liked my performance enough that she asked me to perform at her daughter’s birthday party. So I’m writing (now editing) a short story starring Holly’s cute little fangirl Kittygirl (the eight year old with kittycat powers). I titled the story, “The Sinister Sugar Rush!” Here is an excerpt.

The skinny lunch lady laughed. “YAH HAH HAAAA! Go ahead, Super Holly, I’d love to see you go boom!”

Super Holly hugged herself, trying to slow down, but she still vibrated like a paint shaker.

Kittygirl and Lily gulped and said together, “Did you say, ‘Boom?'”

The big lunch lady smiled super-mean. “Yeah. All these bratty kids who ate our super-frosting will reach critical mass in a couple of minutes. Allow us to demonstrate with this cute little puppy!”

The skinny lady had a puppy in one hand and a cupcake in the other. “Here, puppy, have a treat!”

Kittygirl’s face got cold. “Don’t eat it!”

But the puppy gobbled up the cupcake! It squirmed into a blur, went “ARFARFARFARFARFARFARF,” and blew up: POW!

That’s right, I blew up a puppy! MOO HAHAHAHAHAAA!!!

How to write a comic book accent.

I talked with author Todd Borg again last Saturday. In his latest book, Tahoe Dark, I was amused by a pseudo-gangster accent: “unnerstand” instead of “understand.” Very Chicaguh, I mean Chicago. Todd told me he’d run into the same problem I once did when I wrote dialog for the Bjorg (my Star Trek satire Swedish Borg): too much accent makes dialog unintelligible. Todd sprinkled it sparingly, as he should.

In my soon-to-be novel, Kittygirl’s firecracker of a mother has a fast and furious Japanese accent. On Youtube, I found advice from andysunstory on How To Speak With A Japanese Accent. Replace “an” with “ahn”, “R” with “L”. But what if a word ends with “R”? “Daughtal” instead of “daughter”? I remembered Urusei Yatsura’s Lum saying “Dahling!” And there’s the matter of an older white male like me not sounding racist. “So solly?” YUCK!

I wrote (and rewrote and rewrote) the following for when Kittygirl’s mother confronts Holly at Holly’s first book signing. (I’m really wrestling with “lite” instead of “write.”)

“This glaphic novel! I had to buy anothah one! You did not lite it fah kids, but my daughtah found it in my manga stash and has not let go of it since! Until now. She loved when,” she smiled, petted the girl between pointy Kittygirl ears, and enunciated like she’d rehearsed her next line, “the princess gave up her crown.”

Many great writers say never write accent into dialog. Usually true. But my style is goofy comic book, so I offer the rebuttal of Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner. Like Vulgorilla the Slobbovian (Russian): “I got fonny for you. A travelink blubber salesman’s sled broke down…” Or Brooklyn’s Evil Eye Fleegle wanting his “goil” back: “Anudder triple whammy! I’ll keep poppin’ until my beloved Shoiley is in my arms again!” Or pure hillbilly.

lil_abner_3_-29-1947_excerpt

Writing an accent is hard, but sometimes worth it!

P.S. I just changed “mahnga” to “manga.” To avoid confusion, that word for Japanese comic book should not be spelled phonetically.

The Puppy Brothers prizes, audio and prose.

the far side cat bigger

Audio and prose. There is a difference.

My short story, “The Puppy Brothers in: The Malevolent Mystery Meat!”, won two prizes at the 2016 San Mateo County Fair literary contest. The text story won honorable mention in a short story division. And my reading won first prize in the audio story division.

The honorable mention and the first prize shows the differences between a text story and an audio story. In my case, the story really came to life with my reading, although the story was exactly the same, word for word, in both versions. A judge said of the text version, “Great creativity but the story needs work. So much emphasis has been placed on the comic book style that story elements suffer. Please share this comment with the author.”

Message received with thanks! I am thinking that an audio story needs to be lean, while text needs the usual description, internal monolog, and other literary stuffing that good prose needs. My 2500 word story reading came in at about 15 minutes; getting a lot longer would really push the listener’s patience. Comic book style leans toward a script style of writing, but prose needs proper literary trickery to be fatter, juicier, BIGGER! So I will rewrite accordingly. My Kittygirl and Puppy Brothers stories would make a great story bundle.

Kittygirl: Second draft.

You will notice a big change: I rewrote the beginning entirely because I wanted Kittygirl’s older brother teasing her. An older brother would do that even if little sister has superpowers. A theme in the story is Kittygirl thinking boys can be stupid. Anyhow, this beginning is more like draft 1.5, whereas the rest of the story is draft 2. (I found some typos just pasting this into the blog!) The story is out to my critique group now, and I will get feedback tomorrow. I’ll be doing the third draft soon (the beginning is draftier and will need the most work), and then it will be just minor cleanup. In the past few months, I have been sticking to a three draft limit. I have to finish a story SOMETIME!

SURFVILLE, CALIFORNIA. THE BACKYARD LOCATION OF THE OFFICIAL SUPER HOLLY FANCLUB MONTHLY MEETING. EARLY SEPTEMBER. A SATURDAY. 2:41 P.M.

A couple dozen furious fangirls bounced angrily in their folding chairs. “We wanna see the Holly comic!” “You’re MEAN!” “I’m gonna tell your mommy!”

As for the president of the Super Holly fan club, the fur raised on the back of her neck. Kittygirl extended her front claws, which could slice through steel like a hot knife through butter! “Give it back, give it, GIVE IT!” She showed her scary sharp fangs! “HISSSSSS!!!”

Johnny was not impressed. No thirteen-year-old brother on Earth was scared of his eight-year-old sister, even if she had superpowers. He held up the Holly Hansson comic book just out of reach. “Careful! You’ll rip it!”

Kittygirl retracted her claws. Johnny had just gotten more teasing lately. Well, Kittygirl had gotten the proportionate strength and speed of a kittycat! She pounced!

And missed? How had Johnny pulled the comic away just in time, HOW?

Johnny leaned down and whispered, “Your kittycat eye pupils get real big just before you pounce. Better not let supervillains see that!”

Kittygirl blinked. When she grew up, she’d fight lots of supervillains! And Johnny would cheer her on. But this eye thing, maybe she could … her super-sharp hearing caught a faint whoosh. Her pointy ears swiveled toward it.

Johnny saw that. His smile got really smiled goofy. “Kat? Is it Holly?”

The sound of the WHOOSH whooshed close enough for normal human ears! One fangirl pointed up. “Look! Up inna sky!” Other girls joined in. “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!”

And Kittygirl squealed, “It’s SUPER HOLLY!”

And a blonde woman in a red cape and a blue, long-sleeve supersuit with a yellow up-arrow chest logo meteored out of the sky and landed at Kittygirl’s side.

The fangirls stood and clapped.

John looked at Holly, starting at her feet, then up her long, strong legs, then to her yellow arrow chest logo. His eyes got a little bigger. “Wow!”

Holly put a finger under his chin and tipped his head up. She said softly, “My eyes are up here, young man.”

He handed Holly the comic book. He was still smiling so goofy! “Nice seeing you, Holly! Really!” He ran into the house like he was embarrassed.

Holly winked at Kittygirl. “I think your brother likes me.” She faced her fan club, her red cape and long blonde hair ruffling in the breeze. Holly was so tall and strong, so beautiful and brave. Her beaky nose gave her a fierce eagle look. Or maybe fierce rocket: when Holly got really mad, steam came out her nose. Kittygirl had always wanted to see that.

It would not be today. Holly looked really happy as she held up the comic book. “Faithful fangirls, this is the first print of my latest comic book! It’s about—”

A loud tune played. A tinny version of Turkey in the Straw. The girls squealed happily, jumped out of their chairs and stampeded around the house.

Kittygirl tugged at Holly’s cape. “I’m sorry, Holly, that wasn’t nice!”

Holly laughed. “Even I, the mightiest super on Earth, can’t compete with ice cream.” Holly got a twinkle in her eye. “Maybe he has strawberry!” She picked up Kittygirl and jumped over the house.