Top Ten Ways to Tell if You Are a Top Ten Addict!

I just finished writing the 7th blog for 7 different websites as part of the promotion tour for my third novel, Fearless (out in two days since I’m plugging away) and the first and last were top 10 lists. If you read Daring, you know that the beginning of my second novel is also a top 10 list of sorts. Since my mind works (well, “works” might be a charitable term, but I’m sticking to it) that way, I began to think about the number 10. The number is supposed to represent the height of attractiveness when rating potential loves, for example. A 1 and a 0 are the basis of the binary system that is the basis of this very blog, and that’s not even going into decimals or monetary denominations or the numbers of fingers and toes that we use to navigate our way through the universe. When I began to wonder if perhaps I should have written three more blogs, it occurred to me that perhaps I had a problem. That said, here are…

TEN WAYS TO TELL IF YOU ARE A TOP TEN ADDICT!

  1. Your idea of a religious retreat is lugging two stone tablets up a mountain top during a thunderstorm and waiting hopefully.
  2. Oh sure, you cut down to top nine or top eight lists for a little while, but after a few weeks you’re right back to where you started.
  3. You keep forgetting to buy heroin.
  4. You’re watching one of those action movies where the main character is trying to defuse a bomb. The timer hits ten seconds, and suddenly you’re rooting for the bomb…
  5. There’s a copy of 10 Things I Hate About You in your lower desk drawer.
  6. The first thing you do to try to quit is write down 10 things you’d rather do instead.
  7. Three words: Dave. Letterman. Lawsuit.
  8. Here’s the acid test: have several friends restrain you and force your hands onto a table. Have another friend rap one of your fingers sharply with a hammer. Then another. If you haven’t begged them to stop after three fingers, you need help. Also better friends.
  9. Try to stop yourself from reading sign number one. Go ahead. Try.

10, Check yourself in for therapy right now.

Tweet Nothings

As part of my ongoing attempts to build something resembling a social media platform, I have joined Twitter, and I will be the first to admit that I’m probably not doing it right. In the new global village, I’m the village idiot. But every Sunday, I set a theme for the week, and every morning after that until the next Sunday, I write down some odd or random thought related to that theme before I start working on a book or a story. Some themes have been: Odd myths, Weird Super-Heroes, Made-up words, If Fortune Cookies Were Real, Failed TV pilots, Rock Band Names for Sale, Oxymorons, Comic mistakes, and so on. Working with 140 characters early in the morning can be challenging. Some of my tweets I’m proud of, and some are a bunch of twit. Next week I’m thinking of doing a series of predictions on what it will be like in 2035. If you are interested, here are the twenty-five tweets I tweeted on Twitter as a teething Tweeter for the first month.

Week One: ODD MYTHS

The Japanese Shirime is a humanoid with an anus for an eye. The evolutionary advantage is unclear. Make own hindsight joke.

English Myth: The Red Legged Scissor Man cut thumbs off habitual thumb suckers. Not sure how he’d feel about texting while driving.

The Churufee: A molten monster spit out by volcanoes unless a human sacrifice is regularly thrown in. Origin of giving a hot damn.

The dimunitve Native American Pukwudgies shoot poison arrows.   No jokes here. I just really like the word “Pukwudgie.”

The Akkyyni are skeletons who detach bones anddrum with them. The vibrations cause harmful effects,

Week Two: MADE UP WORDS

PolterGuest – When you have company and your stuff mysteriously keeps moving around and winding up in weird places.

Sangfreud – The infuriating and smug calm of someone who argues by diagnosing the real reason you’re saying what you’re saying.

Praysayer: A negative person who scolds, criticizes, and spreads rumors about people by asking others to pray for them.

Surreality – the feeling at those moments when you make your life bearable by imagining it’s a reality television show.

Prox Star – the result when others do the song writing, instrument playing, autotuning, market research, and plastic surgery.

Hypochondri-crack: Websites that lists dozens of potential medical conditions when you type in a few symptoms.

Behind-sight – the realization that you’ve made a complete ass out of yourself after the fact.

Week Three: WEIRD SUPER-HEROES

The Human Hamster Ball. A super-speeding germophobe pinballing around in a bullet proof sphere.

Weird Heroes: The Highway hog. A murdered runaway now haunts an RV, picking up predatory hitchers and running bad folk off roads.

Mary Sunshine tries to say bitter and cynical because when she thinks happy thoughts she becomes a living sun.

Pretext: A psychic who reads random texts on his phone…days before they are written. Uses disguises to thwart evil.

Waitress Woman is the avatar of Hebe, the cupbearer to the gods. She hears all that table servers hear. A serving tray is her shield. Justice is served!

Eternal Youth – an immortal with centuries of wisdom and skills who stopped physically ageing at the age of three.

Grave Mistake – a dead hitman is condemned to crawl out of his grave and avenge new arrivals in his graveyard.

Week Four: IF FORTUNE COOKIES WERE REAL

*That name you want to tattoo on your ass? Don’t. Seriously. Just don’t. I’m not kidding.   Don’t.

*An old acquaintance from your past will soon resurface—okay, fine, it’s the pork fried rice.

*Lottery winners are one of the highest suicide statistics.   So think carefully. 85638

*Don’t look, but the fourth person sitting to your left? They are goin- dammit, I told you not to look! Just forget it. You ruined it.

*You will soon finish reading a fortune written by someone who wasn’t wearing pants…

*You will soon meet a tall dark mysterious stranger. IT’S DEATH! Ha ha!. Just kidding.

FEARLESS and First-page Critiques

* for an extra couple entries, go to my REVIEW QUIZ post. If it makes you laugh, email this girl: pr@inklingsliterary.com with HAHA in the subject line. (I should probably tell her about this…)

First-page Critiques by agent Michelle Johnson – CLICK HERE for Rafflecopter giveaway

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FEARLESSFearless (a stand-alone novel and #3 in the Pax Arcana series)
by Elliott James
Release Date: 08/11/15
Orbit

Summary: 

When your last name is Charming, rescuing virgins comes with the territory — even when the virgin in question is a nineteen-year-old college boy.

Someone, somewhere, has declared war on Kevin Kichida, and that someone has a long list of magical predators on their rolodex. The good news is that Kevin lives in a town where Ted Cahill is the new sheriff and old ally of John Charming.

The attacks on Kevin seem to be a pattern, and the more John and his new team follow that thread, the deeper they find themselves in a maze of supernatural threats, family secrets, and age-old betrayals. The more John learns, the more convinced he becomes that Kevin Kichida isn’t just a victim, he’s a sacrifice waiting to happen. And that thread John’s following? It’s really a fuse…

FEARLESS is the third novel in an urban fantasy series which gives a new twist to the Prince Charming tale. The first two novels are Charming & Daring.

About Elliott James:   An army brat and gypsy scholar, ELLIOTT JAMES is currently living in the Blue Ridge mountains of southwest Virginia. He’s been an avid reader since the age of three (or that’s what his family swears anyhow), and he has an abiding interest in mythology, martial arts, live music, hiking, and used bookstores.

Praise for Pax Arcana books:

“The Pax Arcana books are seriously good reads. Action, humor, and heart with unexpected twists and turns. If you are (like me) waiting for the next Butcher or Hearne — pick up Elliot James. Then you can bite your nails waiting for the next James, too.”—Patricia Briggs, New York Times #1 bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series

“Loved it! Charming is a giant gift basket of mythology and lore delivered by a brilliant new voice in urban fantasy. Elliott James tells stories that are action-packed, often amusing, and always entertaining.”—Kevin Hearne, author of Hounded on Charming

“I loved this book from start to finish. Exciting and innovative, Charming is a great introduction to a world I look forward to spending a lot more time in.”—New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire on Charming

“James’s world is rich and complex and well worth diving into.”—Richard Kadrey on Charming

“In a saturated literary realm, James’s tale stands out for the gritty, believable world he builds…This is masculine urban fantasy in the vein of Jim Butcher and Mark del Franco.”—Booklist on Charming

FEARLESS on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Pax-Arcana-Elliott-James/dp/0316253448

FEARLESS on Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23279104-fearless

Tips on Getting Published

Tips on becoming a published author.

Just to be clear, I didn’t sign on to blog about my writing process today.  I did do all kinds of things before I wrote my first book: I read books on writing by John Gardner, Stephen King, and Anne Lamott.  I researched a lot of material, I had beta readers, I re-read and edited my material, and so on.  But that’s not what I want to blog about.  I want to write about already having a book and trying to get it published.

The reason I want to do this is that not too long ago, I had just finished writing a book called Once Upon a Time Bomb. That wasn’t my novel’s first name – I originally wanted to call my first book Vampires Only Sparkle When They Burn. Once Upon a Time Bomb also wasn’t my book’s last name; it was eventually published by Orbit under the name of Charming. But Once Upon A Time Bomb is the title I used the most while trying to get the book published, and it was a very frustrating process.

I tried to do some research, but it soon became obvious to me that there was an entire industry devoted to helping people get published – or at least getting their money while they tried – and that it wasn’t really very helpful for me.  There were all sorts of expensive seminars and retreats where I could get my manuscript looked at by professional editors, and there were books by literary agents or former editors’ assistants promising to provide industry secrets and all that, but honestly, I’m a high school teacher with all of the time and financial constraints that this implies.  So please don’t get me wrong – I’m sure that many of these seminars are very helpful and a lot of these books are legit and there may well be a lot of people involved who sincerely love the written word and like being a positive influence in people’s lives.  I never found out because I am cheap.

Some of the free web sites were encouraging and helpful, especially the ones about preparing a pitch or synopsis, but a lot of the advice was repeated from site to site.  So now that my third book (Fearless) is coming out in August 2015 and I’ve been contracted to write two more, I thought I would try to write a few specific things that I wish someone had told me, or just told me earlier.  I am not writing this because I’m an experienced writer with lots of hard won wisdom to bestow.   I am writing this because I am a relatively new writer, and if you want to become a new writer…see where I’m going with this?  Anyhow, here is my advice, and I take no legal or moral responsibility for how badly it might mess up your life.  It is free, and I do honestly hope that it’s helpful in some small way.

TIP ONE: IF YOU WANT TO BE PUBLISHED BY ONE OF THE BIG SIX PUBLISHING COMPANIES, YOU REALLY SHOULD PURSUE A LITERARY AGENT FIRST.

Please note the “If” in the above tip.  There are certainly other ways to get published; for example, some of my favorite books got published after becoming an internet phenomenon, like the wonderful Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh or John Dies at the End by John Wong or Daemon by Daniel Suarez.  I am currently reading The Martian which I believe was independently published, at least at first. I just didn’t go that route and can’t speak to it.  I also don’t know anything about small press publishing.

But IF you want to get published by one of the Big Six (Simon and Schuster, Random House, Hachette, the Penguin Group, Harper and Collins, Macmillan) unsolicited manuscripts from unpublished authors have about roughly the same chance of landing on one of their editors’ desks as a meteor.  The big publishing houses depend on literary agents to act as their first line of defense against an avalanche of manuscripts.  There are true stories of those one in a million manuscripts that get rescued from a slush pile by a diligent intern and become best sellers, but counting on that is like buying a lottery ticket and calling it your retirement plan.

TIP TWO: IF YOU WANT TO GET A LITERARY AGENT, USE QUERY TRACKER

Query Tracker is a free database with tons of information about literary agents and editors. It will do most of your research for you.  Query tracker will list what agents are interested in what genres, which ones are actively looking for manuscripts, and provide links to their agency sites.  I wanted to focus on agents who accepted emails, for example, because I expected getting published to be a long haul and didn’t want to spend God knows how much money mailing multiple hard copies of my submission.  I also wanted agents who wanted to see actual writing samples, and the site provided that info too.  This tip is probably the most non-subjective helpful advice I can offer you, and it was passed on to me by a librarian friend to whom I owe a great deal.  By the way, I am not getting any kickbacks from Query Tracker, nor does anyone I know work for them.  I’m just a fan.

TIP THREE: EXPECT THE UNREJECTED.

I expected to get a lot of rejections from literary agents.  I’d heard the horror stories.  What I didn’t expect was that the majority of them don’t even bother to send out rejection letters anymore, not even form letters.  Expect this and don’t get discouraged by it.  Even some of the agents who did respond to my submission took a year and a half to do so. I was literally still getting rejection letters from agents explaining that they were sorry but didn’t think my book was publishable months after my book had already been published by Hachette.

TIP FOUR: DON’T SEND OUT ONE BLANKET SUBMISSION – DO A LITTLE RESEARCH.

It is tempting to take advantage of the internet and copy and paste functions and just email hundreds of submissions in one go, hoping you’ll get a hit or a nibble.  Personally, I advise against this.  For one thing, it eliminates the learning curve.  You only get one shot with each agent or editor, and if you realize that there’s something you want to change after you’ve already sent your submission out to every agent you could find, you’re screwed.

Another factor is that agents are individuals, and you should treat them as such.  Especially if you want them to extend you the same courtesy.  If you look at their web sites, most agents will tell you what they’re looking for, and even if you think their entries are vague or obviously full of it, you should be able to glean something from the authors in the agent’s client list and the tone of their writing.  If nothing else, a little research might let you know when there’s no chance in hell that an agent will be interested in your particular manuscript and save everyone a little hassle.  You should tailor your submission to appeal to specific agents – emphasizing the action or romance or humor or mystery aspect of your novel, assuming it has different aspects.  Dear God, I hope it has different aspects. This is not about deceiving agents – it’s like changing the table cloths or the lighting to get someone to try the dish you’ve made because you hope they’ll like it.

TIP FIVE: LISTEN TO OTIS REDDING WHILE YOU WRITE SUBMISSIONS

I have no idea why this is helpful.  It just is.

TIP SIX: THIS ISN’T REALLY A TIP, IT’S AN EXAMPLE OF A SYNOPSIS

I can’t say this is the definitive submission, because, again, I changed my submissions slightly to appeal to different agents.  This is an example of the one I still have on file.

07/05//2012

Name of agent

Name of agency

Dear Name of agent,

In Virginia, a 16 year old vampire uses her smart phone like a magic mirror to become an evil queen, recruiting sociopaths from vampire fan sites…

A Midwestern werewolf pack weaponizes the components of the spell that created the first lycanthrope, creating a biological weapon capable of starting a werewolf plague …

In Boston, a gang calling itself the Redcaps deals a drug called “Delphi” which gives its users glimpses of the future…

On Wall Street, an undead sorcerer getting stock tips from Hell deposits his soul in a maximum security bank for “safe” keeping…

This is the world of John Charming, last in a long line of dragon slayers and witch finders. Mourning a lover who did not live happily ever after and cursed by one of the monsters he used to hunt, John hides from the ancient order of knights who trained him: the Knights Templar. The Order is bound to protect the Pax Arcana, a magical treaty between mankind and magickind.  But the ancient spell that keeps humans from perceiving creatures of myth is breaking down, and John’s world is about to explode …

Once Upon A Time Bomb is a first person urban fantasy told from the viewpoint of the protagonist, John Charming.  It is approximately103, 000 words long and resembles Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson novels in its approach to combining the monsters of fable with modern day menaces.

My name is Elliott James.  And here I wrote three lines of personal info that I generally only share when I have to.

Sincerely,

Elliott James

Now I did something a little different.  I didn’t try to break down the entire plot of my first book in one paragraph.  Every time I did that, it either sounded cheesy or couldn’t begin to really give a sense of all the events and conflicts within the novel.  So I tried to give a sense of the possibilities that the world I wanted to create offered, dangling that bait in the hopes that the agent would read the writing sample and then get a sense of the writing tone and style.  I pitched a series rather than a book because Fantasy and Science fiction publishers insist that you agree to write a three book series if they like your idea anyhow. That might not be true for other genres. I suppose it was risky, but in this case it worked.  Eventually.

My best advice: do not settle for jumping through hoops and producing something that you don’t like because you feel like it is expected from you, and then send it out with a “At least I’m done with this BS,” attitude. Vary your synopses and keep torturing yourself until you find a way to write a submission letter without wanting to mutilate anyone or anything.  Don’t settle until you have a submission that you would like to read yourself even though the whole submission process was obviously invented by Satan.  That does not mean take more than a page to write the submission.  That would be like showing up late and unshowered to your first date wearing nothing but a hopeful expression.  You won’t even get in the door.

TIP SEVEN:  NO ONE IS REALLY AN EXPERT

I was rejected by thirty-two agents before Michelle Johnson wrote me back, and at least ten more after.   I don’t know if that number is usual or unusual or high or low.  What I do know is that the book forty-two agents thought was unmarketable was accepted by a major publisher five days after I got a literary agent.  Another major publisher expressed interest while we were working out the details but backed out when they found out someone else was interested because they weren’t about to get in a bidding war over an unpublished author.  And another major publisher expressed interest after I had already signed a contract with Orbit (Hachette’s Sci-fi and Fantasy branch)

This is not to say that I’m great.  Just being published is not proof of worth.  I know that while I was trying to get published, I read an awful lot of books (and a lot of awful books) that made me scream “Come on!” and wonder how that crap ever got past a desk.  I’ve read a lot of best sellers that gave me this reaction, and I’m sure some people have read my books and had the same response.

My point is, writing is subjective.  If I had assumed that those forty two agents were much better judges of what could and couldn’t be published than I was because they were professionals, I might have gotten discouraged and not sent out the submission that mattered.  It’s like that experiment where a middle school class made stock market predictions and outperformed nearly every major Wall Street firm. There are too many factors to consider in any medium that revolves around consumer interest for anyone to ever really be an expert, and that certainly includes me.  All I can speak from is personal experience.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to other people or assume that your writing doesn’t need any work.  Just because there is no absolute truth does not mean that there is absolutely no truth, and assuming no one can teach you anything and ignoring all criticism is a pretty good recipe for disaster.  But ultimately, as a writer you have to take responsibility for your own choices and development just like any other avenue in life, and that includes choosing who you listen to.  If someone is being destructive, not constructive, rinse and don’t repeat.

Hope that helps someone, somewhere, somehow.

Elliott James

Pronoun Trouble

This is a very silly story I wrote when I was in the final stages of editing my first book, Charming, and I thought about it today because I’m in the process of finishing my fourth book and getting it ready for submission. If you’ve never been through a professional Final Edit, I assure you the capitol letters are merited. It’s a bit like a colonoscopy and a bit like a religious experience.

So to Susan Klineman, whoever you are, with love…here is a story about grammar problems (and I am sure it has many of them). And to the rest of you, if you hate complete nonsense or bad puns, run. Run now.

“PRONOUN TROUBLE”

by Elliott James

Things always got a little out of hand at the Lexi-Con. Whenever parts of speech got together and started drinking, boundaries blurred. Subjects could usually be identified, and the main verbs still managed to get things done, but chaos reigned among the relatively minor parts of speech, all of whom were holding down several jobs at any one time just to make ends meet. It was only natural that the minor players would vie for attention and strive to add new clauses to their agreements; there’s very little that parts of speech hate more than being contracted.

“What in the world is That?” I wondered.

“That,” said Mine firmly, “Clearly belongs with us pronouns. That represents nouns or clarifies their specificity.”

“I don’t know about That,” said Such, who along with Very and Always was just making the rounds and networking. “Sometimes That shows degree or intensity. As in, do you pronouns always have to talk THAT much?”

“Listen to Such, Mine” chimed in Very.   “Stop being such a possessive pronoun.”

“Oh, shut up, Very,” said You crossly. “The adverbs claimed So for their softball

team last year using THAT same argument, and everyone knows So is primarily a

co-ordinating conjunction.”

“Oh sure, Everyone knows,” said Always, voice dripping with sarcasm. “But only because Everyone is a pronoun just like You.”

“What? What? Speak up!” said Thyself reflexively, waking up from a nice nap in the corner. Thyself was a very old pronoun. “What’s that?”

“Exactly what we’re trying to figure out,” said You, “And then Always had to take things to extremes.”

“I resent that,” said Always.

“I do not,” I exclaimed indignantly. “I have no strong feelings about That one

way or another! I’m not convinced That is a proper pronoun at all.”

“Who said That had to be?” demanded You, who was somewhat jealous of I truth be told. Somehow, when points of view were being expressed, You was always second.

“For heaven’s sake, You,” I said with some exasperation. . “Do you always have to make things personal?”

“Besides, Who didn’t say anything.” They added helpfully. “Are you sure you

didn’t mean Whom?”

“It’s hard to keep them straight,” admitted You.

“Well, Who and Whom are relative pronouns,” said Me, who was usually very good at being objective.

“Just keep me out of this,” said Who vaguely, not looking up from a

crossword puzzle which It had made hopelessly complicated by filling in wrong answers.

“Oh, so it’s keep Me out of this, is it?!?” Me was outraged. “And Who wants to be the first to try?”

Fortunately or unfortunately, Drunk, who had mistakenly stumbled into the wrong common room, interrupted loudly. “Why am I Drunk and not Drunkly? That’s what I’d like to know.”

“Umm…” I said.

“Say someone is getting drunk,” Drunk continued obliviously. “Someone isn’t drunk, they’re getting drunk.,   So how come I’m not drunkly? I’m an adverb, not a stinking adjective! I obviously describe the getting part, because someone isn’t drunk yet.”

Someone, who was in fact on a fourth margarita, slapped a palm on the table. “Hells yeah!”

“Who cares if you’re a stinking adverb or a stinking adjective,” You said nastily. “You’re still a stinking Drunk.”

Drunk might have been offended, but at some point during You’s tirade, Drunk had passed out.

“I shot a paintball at a wall. It did not paint a thing at all,” It muttered unhelpfully.

“Oh shut up, It.” I said crossly. It was always being ambiguous. “Enough with the adverbial or adjectival concerns. This is the pronoun forum, and the question is whether That belongs here.”

I didn’t see You making frantic shushing gestures.

“For my part, I prefer pronouns which will pitch in and fill in for subjects whenever necessary,” I continued blithely. I was a subject so often that I couldn’t even tell when I was being subjective any longer. “And That hardly ever does…that. That just seems sort of commonplace.”

That – who had just walked in with This – made a throat clearing noise.

“I…” I began.

“No, it’s fine,” That said gloomily, heading straight for the mini-bar. “I just got thrown out of the article room again. Nobody wants me.”

Nobody, who actually had been secretly nursing a crush on That for some time, blushed furiously. Fortunately, nobody but Nobody noticed.

“You wanted to be an article?” For all of I’s sentiments a moment earlier, I was mildly outraged.

That waved the question off, ordering a whiskey sour. “It doesn’t matter. It’s never going to happen. Some nonsense about me being a determiner.”

Several pronouns shifted uneasily. Loose talk about articles was never a good idea.

“Bill got a dog. Bill got the dog. Bill got that dog.” That downed the whiskey with one swift tilt of the elbow. “What’s the use? It’s all politics.”

“I don’t think…” I began nervously.

“The is to blame, of course,” This chimed in. “Mr.-I’m-used-more-often-than-any-other-word-in-the-English-language. As if that makes The better than the rest of us. But let me ask you, does getting used most often make a word a ruler or a whore?”

“This, shut up!” You hissed.

“Think about it,” This insisted. “The isn’t a dominator. The is the most common denominator. You see what The is doing don’t you, You? The wants to get rid of us just like The did with Thither and Therewithal and Thereupon. The can’t stand even a whiff of competition.”

“The doesn’t want people to have options because The’s entire existence is based on a lie.” That added with a mixture of alcohol fueled rage and rash courage   “Things do not have a singular, ultimate, identity. Bill doesn’t watch the baseball game as if it were the one true baseball game that all other baseball games can only aspire to. Bill watches a game or that game. A person doesn’t run to the store. There are lots of stores.”

“That is quite enough.” They stood up from the armchair facing the fire place and ripped off a fake y hanging from They’s chin like a large beard.

“The!” You gasped.

“And I’m not alone,” The sneered. Action verbs suddenly materialized as if from nowhere. Hide, Cloak, Conceal, Obscure, Blend, Blur, Camouflage, Obfuscate, Disguise, Shroud, and Screen seemed to peel themselves off from the very walls and flanked the pronouns. More ominously, behind those verbs of subterfuge emerged several more thuggish and aggressive verbs such as Capture, Restrain, Hold, Bind, Truss, Imprison, Detain, Incarcerate, and Seize.

“Take That,” The commanded. “And throw That to the prepositions.”

All of the pronouns gasped. The prepositions were animals. They would use That like an object.

“You’ve gone too far The,” I accused. “It’s all very well to say that you’re the most commonly used word, but you can’t actually sentence us.”

The verbs, however, had armed themselves with punctuation. Herd forced several pronouns back with vicious back slashes. Intimidate fired bullets over their heads. I was quickly enclosed within two brackets.

“It seems some pronouns need to be modified,” The intoned ominously.

The unruly language proved hard to confine, however.

“They went that way!” He said.

“They went this way!” She said.

In the confusion that followed, It became hard to identify.

And the pronouns had a contingency plan. Him and Her were the first to begin to fade, but We quickly followed, and then Them and They.

“What’s happening?” Desist shrieked.

The tried to begin by saying the word “They” and realized the pronoun was no longer a communicable concept. “The pronouns are fading from common usage,” The said dazedly. Are…insane?”

All of the other parts of speech found communicating without pronouns laborious.

“What should…the action verbs such as…the action verb speaking right now…do?” Restrain wondered.

“How can…stop…pronouns?” Overwhelm grunted.

The tried to start a sentence with some concept for “We” and gaped and gasped like a fish trapped on shore. The was facing a disaster and knew as much. The very words The was struggling to use were quickly devolving into some kind of proto-language. People would not tolerate social discourse where nouns had to be repeated endlessly. Esperanto was quietly making a comeback, unobtrusively claiming more and more territory every year, and Texting was making noise about breaking off and becoming an individual entity.

The was no idiot. If matters proceeded along the present course…was only a matter of time before The would inevitably be dragged into some anonymous interrogation room surrounded by dangling modifiers, coerced by an alliance of being verbs and conjunctions. There would be hard questions for which The had no satisfactory answer.

“All right!” The screamed, and was then reduced to speaking in the third person. “The gives up! Pronouns win! The and verbs are leaving!”

At which point, The and the offending action verbs sullenly filed out of the pronouns’ common room.

One by one the pronouns began to rematerialize, joined by This and That. There were no cheers.   Exhausted, shaken. the pronouns silently took seats or found corners to huddle in. It had been a close call, and they all knew it.

“Say!” Drunk exclaimed. Drunk had just woken up and was taking in the charged and changed atmosphere warily. “What’s what?”

THAT END

REVIEW QUIZ

For the people who read Charming and Daring (or didn’t) and wish to read the third Pax Arcana book (Fearliess) coming out in August, here is  Ye olde Review Quiz on the books of the Pax Arcana.  Remember, choose the answer that best addresses the question.

1. ACCORDING TO THE BOOKS CHARMING AND DARING, FAIRY TALES ARE ACTUALLY…

(A). Accounts of true events distorted and exaggerated over time.

(B). Responsible for a lot of young impressionable females making remarkably poor mating decisions later in life.

(C). Metaphors for medieval drug use. Ginger bread houses? Porridge that makes you see talking bears? Young girls taking “feel good” baskets to a strung out Grandma who starts acting like a crazed animal?

(D). All of the above.

2. I AM THE NARRATOR OF THESE BOOKS, AND I AM:

(A) Deeply, deeply ashamed of myself.

(B) John Charming, the modern day descendant of all those Prince Charming guys in the old stories.

(C) Morgan Freeman

(D) You. Stop trying to avoid it. No one said these words out loud, y’know. You’re giving these words life and investing them with meaning through the simple act of reading them. These words aren’t inherently presumptuous or snarky or sad or annoying or amusing or didactic…these are qualities you are projecting onto them based on where you’re coming from. Embrace it. Embrace us.

3. THE KNIGHTS WHO TRAINED ME TO HUNT THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT ARE:

(A) The Knights Templar.

(B) An Elk Lodge with delusions of grandeur.

(C). I read somewhere that B and C are the most common answers on these things.

(D) Only visible when I’m off my medication.

4. THE KNIGHTS KICKED ME OUT AND SPENT THE BETTER PART OF A HALF CENTURY HUNTING ME BECAUSE…

(A) Let’s just say that it involves grain alcohol and compromising photos and leave it at that…

(B)I didn’t even know the Grandmaster of my order had a daughter…

(C)They don’t like puns or irreverent chapter titles.

(D) I fell under a werewolf curse.

5. “THE PAX ARCANA” IS …

(A) A mysterious and troubling rash

(B) An anagram of “A cheap ax rant.”

(C) The mass enchantment that ended the war between mankind and magickind that history books still call the Dark Ages.

(D) B and C.

6. HOW DOES THE PAX ARCANA KEEP THE EXISTENCE OF THE SUPERNATURAL A SECRET?

(A) The spell causes humans to shunt aside evidence of the supernatural into the part of the brain that dumps 99 percent of the sensory data we absorb every single moment anyhow.

(B) Let’s just say that it involves grain alcohol and compromising photos and leave it at that…

(C). See, when supernatural beings aren’t acting magical, they put on a pair of glasses…

(D). Don’t say it! I’ll have to kill you.

7. KNIGHTS ARE COMPELLED TO PRESERVE THE PAX ARCANA BECAUASE OF A GEAS. A GEAS is…

(A) God bless you.

(B). Pronounced nothing like it’s spelled.

(C). A magical compulsion that both binds and protects its bearers. Knights cannot be charmed, beguiled, or enthralled because they are already charmed, beguiled, and enthralled.

(D). Both B and C.

8. WHAT KIND OF MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE IS MY LADY LOVE,  SIG NORRESDOTTER?

(A). A valkyrie.

(B). A professional athlete who doesn’t do steroids.

(C). A politician who doesn’t accepts gifts or money from lobbyists.

(D). A classy reality star whose show is completely unscripted.

9. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE MY AND SIG’S RELATIONSHIP?

(A). I hate you! Meet me in back of the van!

(B). I love you. Get away from me!

(C). Possibly half brother and sister. Oh wait…that wasn’t supposed to come out until book four…

(D.) Romantic but taking it slow.

10. HOW DID I FINALLY GET THE KNIGHTS TEMP:AR OFF MY CASE?

(A) It was Christmas. A campfire. A bottle of scotch. Someone started singing “Kumbayah”…

(B). We hugged it out bitches.

(C). I helped broker a peace between the knights and a large North American clan of werewolves.

(D). I made a really impassioned speech on an airport intercom right before the Grandmaster of my order was about to leave, and then somebody in the terminal started clapping….

11. MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTS ARE :

(A). Fascist.

(B). Democratic.

(C). Ruining our educational system.

(D). Who cares? I realized there was no grade and stopped picking answers back at question 2.

The correct answers are:   (11) D