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 I hit this button and made a book!

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Posts : 31
Join date : 2010-11-02
Age : 39
Location : Auburn, CA

I hit this button and made a book! Empty
PostSubject: I hit this button and made a book!   I hit this button and made a book! I_icon_minitimeThu Nov 04, 2010 5:16 pm

So...if anybody's in the mood from some unpaid editing(cough cough sputter backtrack) I mean, fun reading! I thought I'd post the first chapter of the novel I'm working on and see if I can collect a nice pile of spoiled vegetables. And if, whilst you are holding your nose while also looking down it, you happen to spot some of those pesky grammatical errors that my fingers seem to fond of typing and my mind seems intent on ignoring, feel free to inform me in whatever manner of sarcasm is handy. I'm trying to toughen my skin after all, for when the vegetables turn into the poisoned daggers reviewers keep close to their hearts and at the center of their arsenals.

It's a teen fantasy novel called Cartoon Eyes, and chapter one begins like this:

Episode 1: Reality, For the Most Part

Somewhere in the mid-nineties
Somewhere in Northern California
Somewhere after 10 a.m.

“Sondra?” Jeremy asked, in a sudden panic. “Sondra Brenner is coming to this? Whey didn’t you tell me?”
His mother gave him the look she usually reserved for her children when they said something crazy, the one that said she wanted to pat them on the head and tell them everything would be okay.
“I didn’t know I needed your permission to-”
“Sondra Brenner…” Jeremy started, “Sondra Brenner is…”
“Let me guess,” his mom said, still giving him the look, “the prettiest girl in school?”
Jeremy opened his mouth to speak but wasn’t sure how to answer.
“Well, yeah,” he said eventually, “but it’s not just that. I mean she’s…deep, you know?”
He tried gesturing with his hands but found them insufficient.
“She’s really cool too. And she’s been all over the place so she probably knows all kinds of…”
“And you know this because you’ve spent many long hours of conversation with her?” his mom asked, smiling. “You’ve discussed her views on philosophy, religion and politics? You’ve asked about her family and her personal goals? Her aspirations for a career?”
Jeremy’s face turned white.
“She let me buy her a coke once,” he muttered, staring at the floor.
“Uh-huh,” his mom said, and went back to placing a small stack of pastel paper napkins around the long table, pairing each napkin with a paper plate and a set of white plastic utensils.
“I hope I have enough of these,” she said, “I didn’t know your sister even knew this many people.”
Jeremy nodded absently and glanced around the room, nearly every square inch of which had been strewn with some kind of brightly colored streamer, pink plastic decoration, or ribbon-wrapped gift box. A turbulent sea of sparkling red and purple glitter littered the wooden floor like shining sawdust and the three long windows that normally showcased only the tree-crowded backyard sported a shimmering, multicolored sign that hung at a slight angle and loudly announced Jeremy’s sister Kim’s eleventh birthday. The room looked as though an enormous, lavishly decorated birthday cake had conducted a long and costly battle against a particularly viscous piñata.
“Can I help do something?” Jeremy asked, and his mom swung a wrinkled white grocery bag his way.
“One cup to each plate,” she said, “and thank you for asking.”
Jeremy smiled in a bored sort of way and removed the first of the red plastic cups from the bag. He flipped it over a few times trying to figure out if he liked them face up or face down and eventually decided on down, so the ceiling fan above the table wouldn’t blow any errant dust or glitter into the fruit punch during the party.
The table where Jeremy, his mom, and his sister normally ate meals hadn’t been big enough to fit everybody on Kim’s birthday list, so Jeremy and his mom had brought in a vinyl-topped folding card table and placed it beside the normal wooden one. They draped a rectangular, faded blue tablecloth over both ends and it had mostly turned the two tables into one, though an annoying, slight crease remained that no amount of corner-tugging or smoothing out could put right.
Jeremy finally gave up trying and simply covered the crease with napkins borrowed from his mother’s stack, figuring that most of his sister’s friends probably wouldn’t bother to use the things anyway.
“I can’t believe you invited Sondra Brenner without telling me,” he said. “All my cool shirts are dirty right now.”
“Then I guess you should do your laundry more often,” his mom said. “But really, I didn’t even know until this morning. Carolyn called and said she and David had some kind of meeting later today. They were already planning on dropping Arthur off for the party and asked if Sondra could come along too. It seemed like a reasonable enough request. Of course, this was before I knew you were hopelessly in love with their daughter. Did you want me to call them back and tell them you’re not comfortable with Sondra being here?”
“No!” Jeremy nearly screamed.
“Because I can,” his mom persisted, grinning, “if you think that…”
“No, it’s cool. I can handle it. I mean, it’s okay with me if she’s here. It not like it’s a big deal if…”
“I figured. Well, you can relax. She’s not coming to see you. When Cameron gets here the two of you can hide in your room the whole time if you want. I promise I won’t start telling embarrassing stories about you until you’re out of earshot.”
“Oh, great,” Jeremy muttered, “now I have to be out here.”
“Oh, like you would have missed it,” his mom said, and flung a folded napkin across the table at him.

“Is she here yet?” Cameron asked, as Jeremy opened the door, “I don’t see her mom’s car in the driveway but I figured maybe she got dropped off.”
“Did who get dropped off?” Jeremy asked, trying for innocence while Cameron impatiently danced from side to side in the doorway, struggling to see past Jeremy into the house.
“What do you mean who…?” Cameron started, then, “oh, so we’re playing it cool, huh?”
He brought out the pair of embarrassingly outdated, black plastic sunglasses that he’d won at a school assembly event a few years before. They had been too tight then, and fit even worse now, pinching his temples like an angry black crab, but that didn’t stop Cameron from wearing them almost everywhere, much to Jeremy’s dismay.
“I can be cool too,” Cameron announced, crossing his arms, inclining his chin and leaning against the doorway, where he brushed a quick hand through his badly cut, black hair and said, “oh yeah.”
“Cool, huh?” Jeremy asked. “I’ll warn you if you start getting close. But I think it’s going to be a while. You look like a retarded Clark Kent in those.”
“Hey, As long as I get the x-ray vision,” Cameron shot back, and Jeremy began thinking that maybe staying in his room for the whole party might not be the worst idea in the world.
“So is she here yet?”
“No,” Jeremy said, relenting. “All the other little kids have shown up, but not the one we want.”
Cameron nodded. He formed his right hand into a gun for no apparent reason and pantomimed shooting at the door.
“The little kid with the hot older sister,” he said. “What’s his name again?”
“Arthur,” Jeremy said, giving his friend an impatient look, “pretty cool little kid, actually. I think he pretty much spends all his time reading, he’s crazy smart, but he doesn’t come off all weird about it or anything.”
“That’s good, I guess,” Cameron said, meaning that he didn’t care even the slightest bit.
Something suddenly occurred to Jeremy and he stared into Cameron’s dark glasses.
“Wait, you know what kind of car Sondra’s mom drives, but you don’t even know her brother’s name? It sounded like you had a whole file on her or something.”
“I’m working on it,” Cameron said, somewhat defensively, before taking a brief moment to think. “Cars are just more interesting than little kids, I guess.”
Jeremy couldn’t argue too strongly with that. Neither of them were really into cars but they were even less into having to baby-sit, something they both had to do from time to time for their younger siblings. On a typical day, Jeremy’s mom didn’t arrive home until around 6 PM and Jeremy had to make sure that Kim got dinner. He also had to make sure she started on her homework when she had it, one of the more unpleasant things he’d ever had to try.
Kim wasn’t much into homework.
Or listening to her brother.
Or doing much of anything that wasn’t something she expressly wanted to do. “I guess you can go try and find a place to sit over there,” Jeremy told Cameron, gesturing to the joined tables where a small mob of noisy kids sat amidst a sea of scattered plates, utensils, and overwhelming decorations.
Cameron stepped inside, closing the door behind him. Slouching against the back of the couch, he said, “I think I’ll wait awhile. It looks pretty crazy over there. How old are those kids again?”
Jeremy glanced over.
“Kim’s turning eleven today, so I guess most of them are around that.”
“Man, eleven. That seems so long ago. It’s crazy she’s only three years younger than us.”
Jeremy smiled.
“She’s turning eleven on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. And she was born at 11:11 AM.”
Cameron blinked behind the dark glasses.
“My mom says it’s a big deal. That it’s astrologically significant.”
Cameron blinked a few more times.
Jeremy shrugged.
“I don’t know. It’s weird. She’s been freaking out about making her wish this year, because all the stars are supposed to be lined up or something.”
“Who is?” Cameron asked.
Jeremy gave him a look.
“How tight are those-?”
Jeremy’s heartbeat leapt into a chaotic, double-time march as someone’s light knock sounded against the front door. Cameron spun around so fast that his left foot tripped over his left and he glanced noisily off and crashed to the carpet.
“I didn’t hear anybody drive up,” Cameron fiercely whispered, springing to a nervous crouch near the base of a coat rack as though trying to dodge a helicopter’s searching spotlight. “Can you tell who it is?”
“There’s kind of a door in the way, genius.”
“Look through the glass part in the top.”
“Then they’ll see me.”
“Jeremy,” his mom called, “could you get that please, I’ve got my hands full here.”
“I know mom. I will,” he called back, realizing belatedly that whoever stood on the other side of the door could most likely hear him as well.
Cringing a little at the realization, he urgently whispered back to Cameron, “get off the floor. Stop being a psycho!”
Cameron used the coat rack to quickly prop himself up, nearly knocking the thing into the nearest wall in the process, and went to resume his casual, “cool” lean against the couch.
“So open the door already,” he said, “what’s taking so long?”
Jeremy rolled his eyes, shook his head, and reached for the doorknob, just as another knock, this time carrying significantly more force, stuck the door.
“Jeremy!” his Mom called again.
“I’m getting it,” he called back, and turned the doorknob, thinking, “Say something cool, say something cool, say something…”
He took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself like a solider entering battle, and swung open the door.
The girl on the doorstep was not Sondra Brenner.
“Oh,” Jeremy said, “hey.”
“That’s your greeting?” the girl said, with a practiced, critical look. “Gotta say, I’ve had warmer receptions.”
“Oh, yeah, sorry,” Jeremy stammered.
Turning to Cameron, he gestured feebly to the girl and said, “This is Lauren. She lives in the house next door.”
“Yep, that one right there,” Lauren said, pointing without really looking to a brown, two-story house on the next property.
She titled her head slightly to better study the two boys standing nervously in the door way and her shoulder-length hair swung slightly over like an even, auburn curtain.
“You thought I was going to be Sondra Brenner, didn’t you? I heard she was coming to this.”
“How did you…?” Jeremy started.
“You mom told me when she invited me.”
Jeremy gave her a quizzical look.
“My mom invited…?”
“Yeah,” Lauren said, pretending injury, “she said you were supposed to come over and invite me a couple days ago but you never showed.”
“She did? I was? I mean, I didn’t? I don’t remember her saying-”
“Well, she said she dropped bunch of hints.”
Lauren grinned at him, clearly enjoying the exchange.
“She also said you might not get them. And that’s what I figured too. Probably too preoccupied with dreaming of the lovely Sondra, writing her name a hundred times on your wall.”
She turned to face Cameron, raising one high eyebrow at his sunglasses, and tapped a finger in Jeremy’ s direction.
“He’s totally in love with Sondra Brenner,” she said, “you know that, right?”
“Oh yeah,” Cameron said,” I know. He’s pretty much obsessed. It’s kind of sad, actually.”
Jeremy gave him a withering look as Lauren asked, with a little, sustained shrug, “So, were you guys planning on letting me in or-”
“Oh, sorry,” they said at once, moving at once and colliding twice before managing to clear the doorway.
“Yeah, go ahead,” Jeremy said, “they’re still working on setting up but…”
“It’s okay,” Lauren said, slipping inside, “just as long as I don’t miss cake and ice cream.”
She stopped and turned with an impish smile.
“And of course I wouldn’t want to miss you squirm under the amazing, magical spell of…”
She swept a hand to her head and swooned like an old-time movie star.
“…The divine Sondra Brenner.”
“She…um, does a lot of drama,” Jeremy mumbled to Cameron, but his friend’s attention had returned to the driveway.
“I think that’s Sondra’s mom pulling up.”
Lauren, standing near the coat rack, peered dubiously at Cameron over the high rims of imaginary glasses.
“You know what kind of car her mom drives?”
Jeremy laughed nervously.
“I’m not the only one madly in love,” he said.
Lauren made a sympathetic face.
“Oh, you poor, poor boys.”
She gave Jeremy a quick once-over, then turned to Cameron.
“Well. I guess if you think you’ve got any kind of shot you might as well take it, but you should probably lose the glasses. They kind of make you look like of a moron.”

Jeremy’s little sister Kim presided over the two tables, seated on stacked cushions at the head of the larger one with her little dog Charlie, a Yorkshire Terrier, in her lap. The fuzzy dog peeked from beneath dense curls of his black, blond and brown hair, tasting the air and tilting his head from side to side, attempting to follow the many conversations. With a firm grip on her squirming dog, Kim strove to conduct herself as a medieval queen might, deciding whom to speak with and when, with a put-upon air of indifference. Due to the high volume of the talk at the table, however, and the fact that her haughty, aloof attitude went largely ignored, she soon gave up on it entirely and started shouting.
“Thanks for coming to my party, Caitlin!” She called down the table to a green-eyed girl in a brown and white dress.
“You what?” The girl called back, one hand to her ear.
“I said…” Kim leaned over the table and Charlie had to scramble to avoid being flattened. “Thanks for -”
“Sweetie,” Jeremy’s mom interrupted, walking in from the kitchen area, “are you sure you want to sit so far away from all your friends?”
Kim had insisted that she be at the head of the big table, even if that meant sitting with the few older kids, who couldn’t sit comfortably at the card table brought from the other room.
“No, I’m okay mom,” Kim said. “I just wanted to say hi to Caitlin.”
Jeremy’s mom gave her daughter a tired smile.
“Okay, well it’s almost time for cake, so you -”
“Cake!” Kim squealed, sounding even younger than she was.
Charlie the dog raised his head, cocked back one ear and listened, as though the word “cake” might soon be followed by “doggy treats,” “milk bones,” or possibly, “snausages.”
“And I know you want the cake right,” Jeremy’s mom said, “so why don’t you…oh, there’s the door again. Jeremy could you get it while I get things ready?”
Jeremy and Cameron, who had been sitting next to Kim and across from Lauren, stood up at once and headed for the door, managing this time to barely avoid a collision. Charlie started barking as Kim turned to see what all the fuss was about and Lauren made sure to roll her eyes meaningfully before turning to watch the boys at the door.

Cameron pushed out in front of Jeremy as they crossed into the living room.
“I’ll get it.”
“Now you won’t.”
“I got up first.”
“No you didn’t. Besides, it’s my house.”
Cameron slowed for a moment to think of a response and Jeremy took the opportunity to vault past him. He reached the door at an angle, sliding on the throw rug covering the small wooden entryway, and only narrowly avoided slamming into the wall. He used the doorknob to stabilize himself and opened the door, hoping he didn’t look half as anxious as he felt.
On the doorstep, the small round face of a thin young boy with oval glasses peered up at him.
“Oh,” Cameron said, skidding to a halt behind Jeremy, “another kid.”
Jeremy shot Cameron a look and cleared his throat.
“Hi, Arthur,” he said. “Glad you could make it.”
Cameron suddenly became interested again.
“Oh, yeah. Hi Arthur. I’ve heard you’re awesome. Or, I guess, I’ve heard about you. Hey, isn’t your sister-”
“Sondra’s in the car,” Arthur said, “She’s doing something with her hair.”
“Oh,” Jeremy said, “well, that’s -”
“Important,” Cameron said quickly, then studied the ground, obviously having meant to say something far smarter.
Arthur gave Cameron the slightest, quizzical look before turning to Jeremy.
“I brought a present for Kim,” he said, reaching into the front pocket of the brown jacket he wore and producing a wrapped gift roughly the size of a bar of soap. “It’s something my dad brought back from Japan. I know Kim is into anime and I figured -”
“She’ll love it,” Jeremy said, “anime is pretty much all she talks about right now.”
He stepped aside so Arthur could get past him. Cameron seemed primed to say something else, somehow win favor with Sondra’s little brother, but no words came and he simply watched the boy enter the house and make his way toward the assembled tables.
“You think this is going to seem creepy?” Jeremy asked. “Us just sitting here waiting for Sondra?”
“Yeah, probably,” Cameron said.
Neither of them moved.
“I mean, I could be meeting guests at the door,” Jeremy said, “but you -”
“I’m helping.”
Jeremy ducked back inside just enough so that he couldn’t be seen from the driveway and used the soft, glassy reflection of a picture frame corner to smooth down his hair.
“I can’t believe she’s at my house, he thought, and groaned inwardly as Cameron crammed his black glasses back on, leaning stiffly against he doorway in what he probably thought looked like a relaxed, confident pose. “At least I’m not wearing those, he muttered, and took a shaky step outside just as Sondra emerged from her parent’s car.
With her long blond hair swept back from delicate ears across her slight shoulders, bright blue eyes gleaming amidst the softly youthful elegance of her face, Sondra so closely resembled an angel that Jeremy fully expected to hear the subtle, steady strains of some far off harp.
“Oh, man,” Cameron whispered, staring, “I would die for her.”
“That works out pretty well,” Jeremy said, feeling his heartbeat accelerate at Sondra’s approach, “because I would totally kill you for her.”
“Yeah, really,” Cameron said, and Jeremy had just enough time to toss over a curious, disbelieving look before Sondra came into easy speaking range.
“Hi guys,” she said, moving cautiously toward the house, one hand fidgeting with a small golden pendant hung about her neck on a silver chain, “I guess this is the party?”
Cameron snorted one high, anxious laugh and said, “Yup! Right inside!”
He gestured expansively at doorway in the needlessly flashy fashion of a carnival ringleader, complete with a little half-bow.
“This way!”
Jeremy felt a sudden, pressing urge to be invisible.
“Yeah, okay,” Sondra said, with a somewhat concerned look centered on Cameron’s tight black glasses.
She turned to Jeremy and asked, “You’re Kim’s brother, right?” and Jeremy snapped to attention.
“Yes! Jeremy!” He announced, and might as well have thrown a sharp military salute, given his ridiculous, rigid posture.
“Relax!” he silently commanded himself, she’s going to think you’re more insane than Cameron.
Sondra, thankfully, didn’t seem to notice.
“Arthur brought a present for your sister,” she said. “I didn’t bring anything, so I guess it’s from both of us.”
“Yeah, that’s okay,” Jeremy said.
“Are we supposed to take off our shoes when we go inside?” she asked, glancing at her tan sandals.
“Not if you don’t want,” Jeremy said, “but you can.
His eyes lingered on a golden, swirling design embroidered above the cuffs of her faded blue jeans.
“Those are cool,” he said.
“Thanks,” Sondra answered, without looking down, and a moment of strained silence filled the doorway.
“So can I get you something to drink?” he asked, instantly regretting what sounded like a cheesy, too-adult line, but nearly deflating with delighted relief as she nodded slightly and smiled at him.
“Sure, thanks. If you guys have some ice tea maybe?”
“I’m on it,” Jeremy said, and rushed off in the direction of the kitchen.
Cameron watched him go, then, a moment latter, staring uncomfortably at Sondra, said, “I should probably go help him, in case he gets lost.”
He turned and hurried after Jeremy.
Sondra stared after him in confusion.
“I thought this was his house,” she said.
After a few dull moments of standing alone, she once again took up fumbling with the pendent and crossed the living room, warily skirted the kitchen where Jeremy and Cameron, oblivious, fiercely battled over a half-full glass of iced tea. She quietly found a chair at the larger of the two tables and gave Kim a tolerant, unsure smile.
“Hi,” Kim said, with a quick look of approval, “you’re really pretty.”

“So, Sondra,” Jeremy’s mom said, leaning tiredly against the long counter that encased the sink and dishwasher and provided an easy overlook into dining area from the kitchen, “we haven’t heard much about you yet. Have you and Jeremy had any classes together? Or at least I imagine you must run into each other sometimes at school.”
“We don’t really…” Jeremy started, but Cameron cut in.
“Jeremy hasn’t but I’ve had two classes with her.”
He said the words proudly and with great importance, but his pride tumbled quickly into disappointment as Sondra turned his way and asked, “We did?”
“Well, yeah, this past year.”
“Oh, okay, Sondra said, as though a few months absence was a perfectly reasonable excuse for completely forgetting somebody.
Kim, her mouth half-filled with mashed potatoes, the only lunch she would accept before cake, decided to answer the original question.
“Jeremy bought her a can of soda once,” she mumbled, raining a white mush of potato flakes down on Charlie, who darted after them like a frenzied, furry fish bobbing for surface-skimming bugs. “It was a Coke but the first time he told me it was a Pepsi and now he gets mad whenever -”
“Kim!” Jeremy stammered.
“See?” Kim said.
“Kim, sweetie,” Jeremy’s mom said, stepping in, “It’s Sondra’s time to talk.”
“But it’s my birthday,” Kim whined.
“And you’ll be the first to get cake and ice cream why don’t you let Sondra tell us about school. I’m sure Jeremy and Cameron would like to hear what she has to say. Wouldn’t you, boys?”
She glanced at Jeremy with a knowing smile.
Kill me now, Jeremy thought, as Cameron mumbled something that might have been, “Sure.”
“School’s okay,” Sondra said, not sure who to direct her answer to, “some of the classes are kind of hard. I guess…”
“I totally understand that,” Cameron said, cutting in. “I mean, why can’t they just…”
Jeremy elbowed him beneath the table and his words ended in a surprised grunt.
“I guess I’m just not into school, really,” Sondra went on slowly, checking to see if she would be interrupted again. “I guess I just don’t see why some of the stuff they teach us is supposed to be so important.”
Beside Sondra, across the table from Jeremy, Lauren mouthed the words, “What a surprise.”
Jeremy gave her a quick glare but she gave no sign that she’s seen him.
“Well,” Jeremy’s mom said, “I’ll be the first to admit that some of the things they teach you…”
“Can we have cake now, mom?” Kim asked. “I ate most of these.”
She pressed her fork into what remained of her mashed potatoes, creating a focused, circular pattern of tiny trident imprints.
Jeremy’s mom looked over at her daughter, frowning.
“Are you going to let me talk if we don’t?”
“Nope,” Kim said, grinding the fork deeper into the potatoes, “not even a little bit.”
Jeremy’s mom groaned and rose from the table.
“Then I guess we’re having cake. But it’s not quite time to blow the candles out. You’re going to have to wait a little bit.”
“I know,” Kim said, “but we need to be ready.”
Jeremy’s mom nodded and returned to the kitchen for the cake.
“Besides,” Kim said, in a teasing tone, “this way Jeremy has more time to stare at -”
Unaware that he’s been starting at Sondra until that moment, Jeremy spun rapidly to his left, stuck his shin painfully against the underside of the table, and found himself face to face with Arthur.
“So,” she said. “What brings you…I mean, do you like the house? This house? Our…”
Thankfully, Cameron kicked him under the table before his panicked rambling became incomprehensible.
Arthur, who had been following the various conversations without really contributing, gave Jeremy a good, long look before answering in earnest.
“It’s a nice house,” he said. “I like how everything is set up. It’s nice and open.”
“Well thank you Arthur,” Jeremy’s mom called from the kitchen, heading slowly into the dining area with Kim’s cake in her hands, its eleven lighted candles a glowing orange ring above the blue and white frosting.
She started to sing, “Happy Birthday,” as she approached the table and soon the smaller kids picked up the song. Their high-pitched voices were unpracticed and off-key but Jeremy couldn’t help but smile a little at their enthusiasm. He sang the words as softly as he could and risked a glance back at Sondra, who sang just as quietly and looked relieved when the awkward song ended in unruly, festive clapping.
“Okay, sweetie,” Jeremy’s mom told Kim, “we’re actually pretty close. You just need to wait about two minutes. Hopefully the candles will all stay lit.”
“Okay mom,” Kim said, her eyes illuminated by the tiny, flickering flames above the cake. “Just make sure you tell me when. I have to make my wish at just the right time.”
“I know, sweetie.”
“That way it has a better chance of coming true.”
“I know.”
“That’s what you told me.”
“I remember.”
“Okay, good,” Kim said, nodding to her little dog and studying the cake intently.
The cake had a colorful, stylized figure frosted on its surface and Sondra leaned forward slightly over the table, examining it.
“Hey,” she said, glancing at Arthur, “isn’t that the same thing you got -”
“Don’t ruin the present,” Arthur murmured, but Kim caught on.
“You got me something about Hiro Mitsu?” she asked. “Oh my god, I love you guys!”
From the far end of the table, the girl named Caitlin spoke up.
“What’s Hiro Mitsu?”
Kim rocked back in her chair and stared at the girl, her mouth opened wide in shock.
“You don’t know Hiro Mitsu, Caitlin? Are you like not aloud to watch TV or something?”
The girl looked around the table, embarrassed.
“I can watch TV,” she said. “I just don’t know what that one is I guess.”
Kim held her dog up before her as though to say “Get a look at this girl, she lives in a cave somewhere and her parents just drop by food every once in a while.”
Charlie dutifully glanced down the table but seemed far more interested in the cake.
“I can’t believe you don’t know who Hiro Mitsu is, Caitlin,” Kim said. “I thought I told everybody about it. We totally have to go watch them after this. I’ve got the first three seasons.
She made a vague, indifferent gesture toward the living room where a black plastic video rack held a colorful array of movie titles.
“Hiro Mitsu is the coolest thing ever. It’s this anime that they brought over from Japan about this boy and his sister and their little pet…”
She froze mid-sentence with a look of total panic.
“It is 11:11 yet mom?” she asked. “Is it time yet?!”
Jeremy’s mom, resting a moment on a chair near the window, glanced at the kitchen clock.
“About twenty seconds,” she said. “Get ready.”
“Almost time, almost time,” Kim whispered to Charlie, who tilted his head to the side and flicked his tiny pink tongue, trying to edge as near to the cake as possible.
Jeremy, not sure what do with twenty seconds, watched Sondra from the corner of his eye. Cameron and Arthur glanced around the table while Lauren seemed transfixed by the dancing candles on the cake. The smaller kids at the second table focused their entire attention on Kim.
“Okay, sweetie,” Jeremy’s mom said at last, “go ahead.”
Kim took a deep breath, closed her eyes, paused for the briefest moment, and noisily blew out all the candles.

An dazzling flash of searing light filled the room, as though a churning, chaotic lightening storm had sprung to turbulent life above the table and an instant latter, surrounded by the sudden, strong scent of a thousand burning candles, Jeremy felt his chair rock back, buckle, and possibly shatter as a violent shudder of forceful energy smashed into, over, and through him. The room folded in upon itself as his blurry vision collapsed to a tiny, static line, only to rapidly expand in a rush of overwhelming color and light an instant later.
“Okay,” he said, in a voice that didn’t sound quite right, “what the hell just happened?”
“You aren’t supposed to say “Hell,” Kim answered, and Jeremy shifted his gaze toward the sound but had trouble adjusting to the new brightness.
“Kim?” he asked. “Where are you? What…?”
She cut him off with a piercing squeal of delight.
“I did!” she cried. “I did it. I’m super-amazing-awesome!”
“You did wh…?” Jeremy started, but let the words drop as the room returned to focus.
Except that it wasn’t exactly a room anymore.
He stood at the center of a tranquil, hazily lit, forest clearing, bordered by a perfect ring of aged, identical trees with softly shaded brown bark and shadowy green canopies. Above the lush horizon formed by their upper boughs, a massive, looming castle stood boldly against a sky stained a pleasant orange-red by the slow decline of a sun that was little more than a bright golden smudge with small, bright flares upon its molten fringes.
Before him, a small distance across the clearing, a two-dimensional, animated figure that somewhat resembled his sister half-turned to face him.
“I made it work,” she said, her oversized, light blue eyes twinkling.
Jeremy, looking over her white blouse top, lengthy blue scarf, striking white tennis shoes at least five times to large for her, and thin white headband holding back a shock of unruly, neon-blue hair, asked, “You what?”
“I made the wish work, silly,” she said again, and Jeremy noticed the slightly blue tint to her lips, the bright bar of white she flashed for teeth, and the band-aid, apparently there for fashion’s sake alone, diagonally affixed to her left cheek.
“There’s no way this is…”
“I wished us into Hiro Mitsu!” Kim squealed, and giggling, fell into a giddy, two-finger victory pose. “This is the best thing ever!”
Turning slowly around the clearing, Jeremy saw other colorful figures dusting themselves off, even though in the new world, everything seemed impossibly clean.
Kim made another happy squealing sound.
“I can’t believe it actually…wait, how come you guys are here? Where’s Caitlin? And hey, where’s Charlie?”
At the sound of his name, Kim’s little dog popped his head out from inside the back of Kim’s blouse and gave a short happy bark.
Only, it wasn’t exactly a bark and Charlie wasn’t exactly a dog anymore.
The squirrel-sized creature now perched on Kim’s shoulder had light blue fur, surprised, oval eyes, and two bouncing antenna dangling from his fuzzy head. He examined Kim’s newly blue hair for a moment with sharp interest, wobbling slightly and chattering, before happily flinging himself from her and gliding to the soft ground on a small pair of violet, velvet wings.
“That’s something you don’t see every day.”
It was Lauren’s voice, or something close, and it had come from somewhere behind Jeremy.
“It might be if you lived here,” an animated version of Arthur said, peering through comically large glasses over an alarmingly thin nose, little more than a shaded, sideways triangle. “And I can’t imagine that being the strangest thing here.”
“You mean it gets weirder than that?!
The voice sounded sweetly of helium and Jeremy had half-turned to identify its source when low whirring, like a menacing whisper, rose up from his left. He looked there instead and found what appeared to be a speeding shadow, a streaking section of rapid, frantic darkness darting from tree to tree.
“Guys, what is that?” he asked, and knew that the quaver in his voice was not the fault of his anime self alone.
“I don’t know,” Kim said, her head tilted in confusion, “I don’t remember that in the show.”
The dark form reached the base of another tree and vaulted silently into its branches. Jeremy took an uneasy step back as the tree’s foliage shifted and a single leaf swept back and forth as it fell to the earth.
It was Kim who watched all the anime. He had seen a few minutes here and there but never paid that much attention.
Whoever would have figured, he thought, that my life might someday depend on the amount of time I spent watching cartoons.
The dark figure slide a thin, sharp sword from a cloth-covered, black scabbard and the steely blade glinted a harsh red in the light of the setting sun.
Raising the blade for a fatal thrust, the figure uttered three rough words.
“Now…you die,” the figure said coldly, frozen in mid battle-pose.
Jeremy tried to speak, to offer some bland, defensive words, but sound had abandoned the animated forest, and a moment later, the sun extinguished beneath an all-encompassing blackness that sprang from exactly nowhere and consumed the entire world.
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PostSubject: Re: I hit this button and made a book!   I hit this button and made a book! I_icon_minitimeSat Nov 06, 2010 4:39 pm

SOTD's first ever critique and it's little ol' me doing it!
I'm so happy...

So here's how my reviews usually work. I will scribble all over your prose in three fantastic colors.
....and I just realized this forum doesn't actually register colors when replying - at least, not with my browsers. I'm gonna try to fix this. Be right back!


Tarnation! I just can't figure out how to be able to type in colors. All I get is this crap: [ color=red][/color ] Which would obviously be a real pain in the ass to use on every comment when I review longer pieces. What's a guy to do?!?!

I suppose I'll have to figure out a new reviewing style until we can surmount this difficulty... I'll be back! Pinky promise!


Currently critiquing using "Google Documents". It's a pretty nifty application! You can even have other people edit the document at the same time if you give them the web address. I can see this being a very amusing source of consternation.
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PostSubject: Re: I hit this button and made a book!   I hit this button and made a book! I_icon_minitimeSat Nov 06, 2010 8:22 pm

Alright, Rad! I sent you the story along with my annotations. Let me know if you didn't receive it, because Google documents is a strange process in which I am completely unversed.

I really enjoyed the story - and though my criticisms may seem to be on the heavy side, this is only because there was so much text to cover. Post the next one as quickly as you wish on the fantastic new Novels* board!

God, I just love that edit button don't I? Well, here's a link to the document on the web if the email doesn't work.

*The novels board is a registered trademark of "Novels Inc." and any copyright infringements against said properties will be met with extreme violence to the offender's epidermis.
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PostSubject: I have a response to that...somewhere   I hit this button and made a book! I_icon_minitimeSun Nov 07, 2010 11:42 pm

So...I swear I already posted a response in the "books" section but it doesn't look like it went through. I'll try again tomorrow from the computer where I have all the book stuff stored but for now just let me say that your edits were fantastic. Most people are terrified of making recommendations but I think I took a good 90% of yours to heart and made changes. Also, that google document thing is awesome. I'm going to have to figure out how to use that.
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PostSubject: Re: I hit this button and made a book!   I hit this button and made a book! I_icon_minitimeMon Nov 08, 2010 12:49 pm

Google documents is extremely nifty. I found out I can use it to make power points! Look forward to a "Scribes of the Damned marketing and productivity" presentation next Monday. Even though I can't see you, ya better be wearing suits and ties!

I'm just happy to be of service! Like I said, I really enjoyed the chapter and look forward to reading the next installment.
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