11.03.2006

Killer Yapp here

I'm writing to report pack leader Snark has been taken away by motorized conveyance with siren. The bipeds who accompanied her, in white jackets, said she would require medical intervention over the weekend. I have called Grandmother Snark to chauffeur me to her den for the weekend while PL Snark recovers. No one will be here at Snark Central to flog the blog.

This cat-astrophic event was precipitated by the following, which I found on her computer screen when I went to investigate the source of the nap-snapping thud:



Dear Ms. Snarrk,

This email query letter comes to you after extensive research of your blog's web site. I have selected *you* out of all the other literary agent candidates to represent my completed 365,000-word fiction novel, "Killer Sex: My Marriage To George Clooney.” Actually, it’s a blueprint of how *I’m* going to manipulate George Clooney into marriage, maybe you can use my ideas in your quest to marry Tom Cruise! You strike me as being somewhat more intelligent than most of the morons pretending to know anything in the whorish literary agent profession.


As I am eager to move forward on my writing career, I can email the PDF to you (I'm sure you’re not one of those dumbass clueless losers who want busy writers to waste a lot of money, time and trees to submit hardcopy ms’s) but must ask you to please have it read by next Saturday. I will have another novel ready for you shortly as I have the (400,000+ and counting) sequel work in progress, “Why He's Gay Now.” By then I will have probably divorced Mr. Clooney and left him a broken ruined wreck of a man, so I can marry the Sultan of Bhutan.

Please respond promptly or I’ll be forced to submit my guaranteed Dan Brown-shaming best-seller to some gin-soaked lush with an obnoxious yap-rat I met at a writing conference recently. My email address is diva@imsoawesome.com/. Might be a good idea for you to whitelist this address for the future. I’ve whitelisted you so the contract makes it through my spam filters.

Nitwit of the Day!

Here's a big hunk of clue cake for everyone at the book buffet: don't diss your publisher in public. Not now, not ever. Not even if you think you're right, especially when I know you're wrong.

Anne Stuart couches her nitwittery behind "oh I'm always honest" and "someday I'll learn to be discreet". Honestly Anne, do you think no one from Mira will see this? Well, ok, maybe you think they should. Why? Do you think they will have some sort of Road to Damascus moment and leap up to be passionate about selling your work? Been awhile since you've worked with people if you think that's a good strategy.

Here's why dissing your publisher is stupid. It removes every desire to go the extra mile for you. Every and any.

You don't have to be grateful for the work people do for your books. Just don't trash them in public. People aren't doing all you hoped for to help you? Suck it up, welcome to the real world.

And if by some chance, you DO say something you regret, you call up or email the interviewer and say "I've been a true nitwit in that comment, please don't post it (or please delete it)". You can recover from nitwittery if you work fast. Of course you can compound it by saying "I was right" and "it's only the truth".

And if you want to comment or email me all atwitter about this post here's what I have to say to you: "I'm always honest". It's not true of course. I've learned that discretion is the better part of being a grown up.

11.02.2006

I wanna be in pictures!

Dear Miss Snark:

Six months ago I signed with an agent with a website. The agent has sent my manuscript to the top publishing houses. Listed on the website were about 80 names. It was clear that the lists of clients was a bit old. Recently, the agent revised the website, scaled down the list of clients to about fifty. My name was not there. Do agents list only their PUBLISHED authors? Should I be concerned that my name is not there, after all, I'm still not an AUTHOR, but I am a client. My agent is also very good at letting me know the status of my novel when I have asked via email (an I have practiced restraint and am writing novel #2)


A client list on a website is NOT the same thing as the agent's data base of clients.

The client list is up there so people know what kind of work an agent has sold.
Putting unsold work up there defeats the purpose.

Gawking at Bella Stander

You had to see THIS in today's Gawker, to know the derivation of THIS in today's Bellissimaaaa blog.

And Bella, now that I have your attention, I really must insist you get well.
This surgery thing is so five minutes ago.
We've had an entire writing contest while you nipped off to dreamland.


If we have to run another Bella Stander Humerus Poem Contest to motivate you, well, trust me, it won't be the first time we've unleased creative wrath here. (And Bella...this time... they have multi media.)

It's really in your best interest to fully recover very soon.
Trust me.

Stop reading this blog

Do tell me, Kindly Miss Snark:

When a writer is most certainly not a nitwit; when she has done her research ad infinitum and ad nauseum; when she would never dream of blind copying 250 "Dear Agents" or sending a query to "Ms. Snark's blog" or any such writerly faux pax...



When she has written her first novel, thrown it out there to beta readers (not her mom), thrown a page to the crapometer and gotten chewed up and spat out, worked on it some more, queried intelligently, got some requests for partials and a truckload of rejections...


When she's quietly tucked the first novel in a drawer and labeled it "training novel;" when she has written a second, superbly better novel, born out of the pain of experience, revised until sweat turned to blood...


When she queries this new novel -- again, intelligently, carefully, by-the-rules -- and receives more rejections; when she tweaks the query (as per sage advice gleaned from agent blogs) and re-queries, and is still continually rejected...


When she KNOWS that she can write, dammit, and she's not among the "stupid," though obviously among the "uninteresting" or "unpublishable" or whatever it is she has been tossed among...


When her genre is considered "hot" (young adult) and she has been told (and told and told) to "write what she loves" and "write what she knows," and she does just that -- and it happens to be young adult fiction, something about which she is passionate...and it's still Not Good Enough...


What is then left for her but to quit?


She is not a Quitter by nature. She is feisty, determined, passionate, driven. She has grown her Thick Skin and receives Publisher's Lunch daily and takes criticism with an open mind and ready pen.


She is not a "wimp."


But she is tired. She is discouraged. She can't take this anymore.


She really, really can't.


What does Miss Snark say to her, when "Don't give up" now sounds trite?


She barely has the strength to listen.


She cancels her subscription to Publishers Lunch.

She stops reading Miss Snark's blog.

She doesn't cancel her internet service but she sets her "do you want to stay connected" timer for 20 minutes.

She thinks long and deeply about what brings her joy.


If writing is your joy, you will be able to go on.
You don't need me to tell you this.
You know it already.
I'm only reminding you to remember what you love.

Rookie agents

Hi Miss Snark,

How do you know whether to put your faith in an up-and-coming agent? For example, you have a link to Jenny Rappaport on your blog, so you must think she is a good agent. (Actually it means I think she has a good blog-I don't actually know her yet)

Obtaining representation by a young agent could be easier than with most, given the fact they're keen to build their client list. But how is one to know whether they will turn out to be stellar... or mediocre?


First, Jenny Rappaport works for the L.Perkins agency. She's not standing in a phone booth in Dragoon Arizona madly dialing the 212.

I have no idea if she'll turn out to be a boon or a loon. I know I like what she says on her blog.

However, your question really is: how can I tell if someone without a track record is someone I want to sign with. Much like the question below:



Hi Miss Snark,

Thank you for your website. It is very informative. I recently submitted my manuscript to an agent out of Florida and have been in correspondence with this person via email only. This agent then sent me a contract for me to sign and I asked for this agent's office phone number as I have never spoken to her on the phone. This agent responded by stating that she does NOT like to give out her number.

Should I be cautious and worried that an agent wants me to sign a contract yet won't give me her office phone number? I personally find this very strange. We are in different States so I cannot show up at the address that she provided for me.

I have googled her and have not found much on her or any sales that she may have made nor details on her agency.

Thank you so very much for your advice


You're both asking about agents (different ones in case you're reading this before you've had coffee) who don't have much of a track record. Here's how to get a bead on whether you should take some risk by signing with a person who doesn't have much to answer for "what have you sold"?

1. The agency has a web presence at Publishers Marketplace. Not just their own site (hottalkagency.comma) but a separate listing at PM. No site, no dice. The reason this is crucial is cause that's one of the ways to get your name out to editors, and editors look at that before they call you back if you're cold calling them. Trust me. They do.


2. The person, if embarking on a career, has some sort of confidence inducing background in publishing. This is where "I work at L.Perkins agency" comes in.

This is where you flee like the furies from someone who has never worked in publishing, and "just wants to help people". People who want to "help" should donate money to their library.


3. My phone number is on my website, it's on Publishers Marketplace, and surprise surprise, it's listed in the damn phone book. I don't want you to call me if you're querying, but if I'm signing you up, it's an ENTIRELY different matter. Clients have carte blanche until they prove annoying. Then they still have it. An agent who won't give a client her phone number is a HUGE RED FLAG.

If you have any doubts about a person's ability to represent your work well because they are new to the game here's what to ask: which editors and which houses would be good fit for this and why. I can't cough up that list in five seconds but I can in five minutes if I'm staring at my data base of 2000 names. ANY agent who is actively working can do this.

You are not a begger at the banquet of books. Don't confuse "yay someone likes my work" and "yay it's not my mom" with "yes, I'll sign with you".

11.01.2006

Run up to the Crapometer-info

Sufficiently terrified of Miss Snark on a tear?
Suddenly hoping December falls off the calendar?

Too late!

The Happy Hooker Crapometer has its own blog.
Info will be corralled there, in one happy place for all and sundry to visit.

Email questions to Miss Snark as usual. Put "crapometer Q" or similar designation in the subject line so I can sort the mail swiftly and cruelly.

Now, it's time for gin.
And Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is one of the best non-Mr. Clooney movies I've seen in some time.

Never Fear! Miss Snark is here for you!

Dear Miss Snark,

I finished my book ten years ago. Then I studied the business practices and vernacular of the publishing industry for nine and a half years. Six months ago I started contacting literary agents. Despite my best efforts the rejections keep piling up.

- One agent said I don’t have a strong enough voice. We haven’t talked on the phone so she couldn’t possibly know that.

- Another agent said the story didn’t draw her in, so I wrote back and reminded her it’s a novel and not a coloring book.

- Somebody requested a partial, but I’ve got full dentures, and even if I had partials I sure as hell wouldn’t send them to a literary agent.

- Then some guy requested an ms, and I reminded him I’m an author, not a damn escort service.

- This one idiot asked me if anybody was reading. I said unless paper books were magically converted into audio books overnight he should assume so.

- Some kinky gal asked me about submissions but I told her I’m not into S&M.

- Another woman said my book might be a hard sell. Why point out the obvious? I worked hard so it would be easy to sell.

- Some woman said she didn’t have enough enthusiasm for my work. I told her to get a good night’s sleep, have a cup of coffee, and read it again.

- Then I really freaked out when some guy said something about a query, because I’m a heterosexual.

To be honest I’m getting pretty frustrated. Why do you suppose these agents are being so unprofessional?


There IS an agent, just for you. Someone who feels your pain at being excluded from the fraternity, who understands the despair of rejection for no good reason, who sympathizes deeply with your need for self expression. Best thing is...she's available! Click here.

Don't forget to send me a crisp twenty dollar bill for the referral. You don't think agents work for free now do you?

Red Letter Challenge -update

Three days later-No Barbara Bauer!

When someone asks me what I've sold lately, it doesn't take me three days to answer.
I wonder why Barbara Bauer won't put those terrible Scammer Flim Flammer rumors to rest.

You'd think with her own YouTube video she'd want to do damage control.

I know she's reading this. Her podcast mentioning "dragoon" had to come from here

Come on out Barbara! You've missed the lava lamps and the pocket fisherman but I'm sure we can find a prize for you three days later. Maybe...this

What the hell is wrong with you?

ok, maybe not you you specifically you, but maybe it is you.

Have you been querying lately?


Here are some things to remember:

1. A ten page synopsis in a query letter is prima facie nitwittery.

1A. A ten pages synopis isn't in fact a synopsis. It's blather. It tells me something about you. It tells me you are a nitwit.

1B: Enclosing a ten page synopsis while leaving out actual pages from the novel is breathtakingly witless.


2. Sitting in a car/truck/bus, telling me about the weather you're having is not not not compelling. Not now, not ever. Go rent a copy of the movie Jaws. Watch the beach scenes without sound. Not quite as scary is it? Here's the thing about novels. You have to show me the sound effects. Your writing, your diction, your pacing, your POV, your choice of focus, all have to get my attention and point me at the shark. You don't have to show me the shark, but I have to get a sense it's there.


3. "Traditional values" and "religious" do not mean "christian" by default. This is New York. We have Hasidic Jews, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Unitarians, agnostics and Capitalist running dogs all on the same damn block. They have values as part of their traditions and NONE of them involve Jesus. Telling me someone has "a traditional upbringing" is lame ass, lazy writing and it annoys the spit out of me.



4. I don't care if you are my poodle's mother, include an SASE. Take note people going to conferences: this means YOU. I have to be nice to you cause you paid money to hear me yap at you, but if you send pages without an SASE, make no mistake...you've raised the bar for getting to yes. Don't write to tell me I'm an idiot about this. We've already established we don't agree. If you don't want to query people who are steadfast on this subject, invest five seconds and read the damn website.


5. When you've written a novel, and you tell me about it, include the publisher. I will google you. I will. That is a given. If I can't find the novel, you're going to "no". This does not apply to magazines and ezines, only published books. This is because some nitwits think (I swear this is true) Vantage Press "publication" means they're "published". If you don't know why this isn't so, click here.



6. The only time a series of stars is punctuation is when you are Wile E. Coyote making a left turn at Albuquerque. Unless you are Mr. Coyote, invest in a damn copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. You can actually subscribe to an online version now.


7. Look at every use of the word "was" and "that". 90% of the time you can take them out. That edit alone will jump you over about half the stuff I look at every day. Prune ruthlessly.


8. Don't over write: "The two observed a moment of silence mainly because there was nothing more either could think of to say" might work on page 300. It looks stupid on page 2. If you don't know why, email me and we'll have a tutorial about letting your reader do some of the work.


9. When you steal envelopes from your place of work, so that I'll be breathlessly agog you are a doctor, lawyer or professor, you might want to make sure the envelope doesn't make your query look like junk mail. Envelopes from a university touting the writing program look like soliciations to enroll. Particularly when you spell my name wrong.


10. Why did you write this novel? is not a question I ever want to see answered in a query letter. Let's just assume you wrote it so you could contribute to the coffers at Snark Central. Any personal goals you have are irrelevant anyway, right?


11. When you meet an agent at a conference and you like them, feel a sense of connection with them, and think you're buddies now: you're not. I'm no more going to snark you at a conference than Killer Yapp is going to start reading Sartre in French. You've paid money to be there; I'm a professional. Do not mistake me being pleasant for us being buddies.

What this means: don't email me a dozen times after the conference with little updates. Do NOT do this. Do not send me chain letters even for causes you know I believe in. Do NOT do this. Do not call me up to tell me you won the USABookNews.com contest, or that you are enrolled in National Novel Writing month. If you want to know why, email me, we'll have a tutorial on "query basics".

Going to a conference is the equivlent of a a query letter.

I know you think you are the exception to the rule; you're not. Neither are you.

More on conferences-tis the season!

Dearest Snark of the Dragoons, (ooh!! I like this!)

I am off to a writers' conference this weekend, and will have the first fifty pages of my manuscript reviewed by one agent and one editor (both fine and respectable members of their professions, and whom I have thoroughly googled). My thinking is that I am to just clam up and listen to their knowledgeable critiques, that the session is strictly as billed, a "manuscript review," not a pitch session.

Generally speaking, am I correct in this assumption? Am I right that these two fine gentlemen are not there to hear me sell my work to them, but to share their insights, and that I am only to speak (intelligently) of my book when spoken to? I know you have written numerous times of behavior at writers' conferences, but I haven't seen this particular manuscript-review question addressed.

Thanks for any insight.


Here's the thing to remember about agents: we're not shy about asking to look at work we want to see. In fact, some of us are downright pushy.

If the people reading your pages want to see more they will say "send me more". If they think it needs work they will say "do you belong to a critique group?" or "here are some suggestions" or "have a nice day".

Notice none of this involves you saying "will you read my pages".


I'm much more likely to ask for work if I don't feel like the title character in Whack a Mole.

Red Letter Day Writing Contest Results

Outstanding achievement in additions to the Snark Lexicon
#4 General Mayhem
#5 Burkina Faso takeout
#45Mmalevolent Fund


Achievement in imagery!
#35 The sky was a sloppy Picasso
#47 Rent-A- Mourners

Best Nod to the Bard!
#23

Best Nod to the King!
#17

Entries that transcended the contest tomfoolery
#46
#18

Achievement in creating an entry with a complete narrative arc
#25

Achievement in Fantasy Romance
#15


Best innovative use of blog jokes
#38-"stilettos reflected the fire from her hair"
#10-beverage alerts


Outstanding Achievement in Song: #39
closely closely followed by #36
and an honorable mention to #8

extraordinary achievement in mixed media: #50

And the Snarkovian choice for the Red Letter Day Writing Contest:


#39


(which also won for best song and is reprinted here)

The Battle Hymn of the Snarks

Mine eyes have seen the blogging of the one they call the Snark,
I’ve read her in the morning, I've read her in the dark,
I know she keeps a Yapper, tho’ I've never heard him bark,
Her truth it keeps us strong.

Chorus:
Will we, will we ever publish?
Will we, will we ever publish?
Miss Snark, she keeps us strong.

She is dressed in glorious colors like a heav'ly armed dragoon,
Using only crispest verbage she is ready to harpoon
The very latest nitwit, or a scammer she'll impugn,
Her blog is marching on.

I’ve read her fiery gospels ‘gainst the evil enterprise
Of paying to be published, which is very ill-advised,
We know she is our champion, though we often agonize
It’s taking way too long…

Her cabal has spawned a fan club ‘tho some fear it is a cult,
We pledge undying homage if we publish as result,
We vilify the Baur, but in Snark we do exult,
Her truth it keeps us strong.

She sends us off to gall’ries, we consider notes of Strauss,
She helps us keep clear-headed, her thoughts we do espouse,
We feel we’ve got some friends, although we rarely leave the house…
Her blog it keeps us strong.

We’d gladly pay retainer if she’d only take us on,
We’re convinced we could be famous, the world has got us wrong,
We take our clue gun hits because her tough love makes us strong,
Her truth keeps marching on.

10.31.2006

Red Letter Writing Contest #50

You need high speed for this.

And sit on a towel.
Trust me

Red Letter Writing Contest #49

Employment wanted:

Former dragoon seeks new enterprise. Have crisp uniform from current job as trusted family retainer. Requisite - employer must have a strong tolerance for waltz music as only Strauss played at extreme decibels drowns out tinnitus in right ear from machine gun fire encountered in previous career as dragoon. Employer must also provide every Sunday and Tuesday evening off for cabal meetings; in exchange employer will be given passage to freedom when our plans for world domination comes to fruition and all former butlers, maids, chauffeurs and housekeepers become new world leaders. Principles only. Email firstagainstthewallwhentherevolutioncomes@nosir.com



What is this thing you all have against world domination??
I fear my evil plans are being...disrespected!!

Red Letter Writing Contest #48

"I still say CCR is probably the best band ever," Woodthorpe declared.

"Are you still on that?" Wankleburn asked.

"It's true. If they got as much PR as the Stones--"

"Listen, more and frequenter PR is effective for a while, but eventually--"

"Does this tundra go on forever?" Woodthorpe asked. "We should have taken a cab."

"Allow me to point out that we're in the middle of nowhere, idiot," Wankleburn replied.

"Every idea I've come up with, you've either reviled it or insulted me."

"Cabs don't come to the tundra. Now quit whining and keep walking."

"Where are we going, exactly?"

"I figure our only hope is to join an orchestra."

"Us?"

"Sure. That's what Greta did. Remember Greta? In Erie?"

"But she played the bassoon, Wankleburn. We don't play anything."

"Nonsense, Woodthorpe, I play the skin flute, and I happen to know you're quite proficient at fingering the organ."






This is what happens when you allow drilling in the Arctic.

Red Letter Writing Contest #47

Sally Strauss produced a noticeable hissing sound as she attempted to dislodge a piece of communion wafer that had become caught underneath her orthodontic appliance.

"Sally, can you please not dragoon your retainer?" her mother whispered through clenched teeth. "It's disgusting."


A few of the Rent-A-Mourners turned their heads to glare at Sally. She rolled her eyes, knowing that the disapproval she was getting was nothing like what her brother encountered at the door.


Heinrich Strauss wore a crisp paisley shirt and tapered jeans with zippers at the ankle. Born Jason Strauss, Heinrich changed his name in order to sound more Jewish. He quickly realized that wasn't a good idea when the majority of Americans mistook the eszett for the letter B, but "Heinrich" had a nice ring and it gave him something to talk about at the cocktail parties he was hoping one day to be invited to.


Heinrich stood at the door of the church and handed out fliers for his new enterprise, The Cabal—a combination of Kabbalah study, evangelical Christianity, and Amway. The flier compared a Cabal meeting to "hanging out with Madonna, Pat Robertson, and that guy who cornered you in the elevator the other day." He wasn't getting many takers among the crowd whose purpose for being there was to attend the funeral of a highly respected school board member, but Heinrich was not to be deterred. He knew The Cabal would make him rich one day.

He knew he'd be rich, otherwise his name would have been Heinrick.

Red Letter Writing Contest #46







Rains

By the first crisp days of October the river was running so high it threatened to wash over its retainer onto the tracks on the east bank. The silt stirred to the top and brown bubbled its way past the linden trees already, fifty yards from McCullough’s cornfield. That would’ve made things even worse. Not gettin’ the little crop left standing into market would have been the town’s last dyin’ breath.

At the Second Baptist they was prayin’ even harder than they had in spring for rain; singin’ their Christian guts out it would stop. Maybe too for the good Lord’s forgiveness, though it looked like we’d got the Almighty pissed. As if the hallelujah folk hadn’t caused enough trouble with the fields now layin’ like mudflats, fruit only half grown and rotted on the trees.

The orchards stinkin’ of soured wine, the fields of decayin’ vegetables and pig manure. It carried on the wind, all the way to the Strauss lands, doubled by the damp nights. It was the Strauss’s that dragooned the menfolk into leavin’ the farms; into workin’ their factories instead. I blame them—and God, not Joey Dolan. Nor the liquored-up-on-home-enterprise-whiskey cabal of kids that killed him.

Things would get better though after tonight. Me and them’s left as are real farmers—good friends of Joey Dolan, God rest his soul—found a way of makin’ everything right. One big bang, that’s all it’ll be. No more factory and a big empty hole for the rain.

Red Letter Writing Contest #45

DRAGOON NOIR


At 8 AM a dragoon burst into my apartment with an arrest warrant. It looked authentic--there was Samsa's signature at the bottom, written in beetle juice, and the seal of the Cabal--but the dragoon himself seemed suspect. His slouch, the way his helmet lolled on his neck ring--I could maybe buy him off.

Before resorting to bribery, though, I would test his resolve. "Can I call my lawyer?"

He snapped to attention, gripped his halberd and said, "Ja. Sure."

I punched up the number on my cell, told Strauss to get down to the station ASAP. In reply he mumbled something about his retainer.

"What?" I asked.

"Shorry. Thish damn thing keepsh shlipping onto my tongue."

He'd had his braces removed the week before, by a Prussian orthodontist, and was having trouble with a temporary mouthpiece.

"Just get going, Strauss."

He said he would, after he scarfed down some muesli, and hung up.

You couldn't expect a teenage legal eagle descended from a famous composer to run off without a hearty breakfast. You couldn't expect a dragoon with a sense of enterprise to let you go for cheap, either.

"Hang on," I told him as we waltzed toward the door. I reached for my wallet, pulled out two crisp 100s and placed them in his outstretched gauntlet. "For your Malevolent Fund."

Tiny sparkles shone through his eye slits. He tucked the money into his belt, rattled his chain mail, and clanked out the door.


Malevolent Fund!
Miss Snark thought only she knew about that!
Damn that Abacus Snark!

Red Letter Writing Contest #44

Jimmy eyed the massive front door with dread. He stepped backward, but two sets of hands jabbed his shoulder blades.

"Do it or you're not in the club," Eric hissed in his ear.

Jimmy frowned. To be dragooned into kissing Mrs. Elliott The Claw because he wanted to belong to a stupid cabal of bullies irked him.

He had to go through with this enterprise if he wanted these guys to protect him in a private boys' school notorious for its cliques. Another year of teasing at St. Christopher's was not on his agenda. Not this time.

Jimmy took out his retainer, slipped it into his pocket and pressed the doorbell with trembling fingers. The door opened a crack, and a glittering pair of eyes peered at him. He shuddered.

The sound of Strauss drifting from the recesses of the house surprised him. He had expected dry, crackling silence, or the howling of fifty cats.

"M-m-mrs. Elliott?" He waved a hand behind him, but the space was empty. Eric and Stan had bailed. Sweat erupted on his face and trickled down his back.

The door widened, and the dim light failed to diminish the assault on his eyes. Mrs. Elliott was the ugliest woman he'd ever seen.

"Another one?" Her dry, crisp voice froze his soul. She held out a cracked claw. "Where's the cash?"

With shaking hands, Jimmy handed a sheaf of bills to the witch. She shoved the money between her scrawny breasts and reached for him.


Dear Dog

Red Letter Writing Contest #43

Night on Halloween under the light of the moon

Past the forest of Central Park

Rides a shining knight, an armored dragoon

Who goes by the name of Snark.



Her musket in hand, on head a steel cap

She goes from house to house

Alongside her retainer Killer Yap

And a man in Levi Strauss.



She desires not sweets nor smiles nor soaps,

She will take, though, pails of gin.

“Be wary of they who would give false hopes,”

She says with a grin.



In the night there are those who cabal

“We must stop her enterprise.”

“She is a most dangerous gal.”

“This Snark speaks only in lies.”



They come before Snark and they throw their fits,

“You are through, Snark, you’re done.”

She says, “You are all a bunch of nitwits,”

And she fires her great clue gun.



Her enemies beaten Snark rides away

Through the cool crisp night.

She has others she must show the way.

Others to show the light.



Miss Snark feels her meter teeter. Must be the shoes.

Red Letter Writing Contest #42

Everyone Sing!

Miss Snark's a profiteer dragoon
aiming from her ivory tower
taking potshots at buffoons
across their lily-livered bowers.

She's a branch of
Homeland Security
And stands by her puns all day.
When the bullsh*t gets high,
She can multiply
until she's rivals the CIA.

(or the NSA, or the DEA
the PTA, even the GSA
that's how she scuttled the IILAA
that's how she scuttled the IILAA)

Miss Snark's parlor is festooned
with the heads of jerks who chafe her
she has a Googlebomb of Doom
and a cabal on retainer.

She can crisp scam
agents who charge fees
using her scum GPA
She ferrets out lies
in this enterprise
combining Strauss waltzes with Bombay.

-short caesura-

Miss Snark's a profiteer dragoon
with integrity unencumbered
sometimes she is a whole platoon
come and join her lovely numbers.

*Wink, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper, nudge, nudge, nudge*
*Wink, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper, nudge, nudge, nudge*
*Wink, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper*
*nudge, nudge, nudge*
*NUDGE, NUDGE.*

Now we're all profiteer dragoons
And together we trowel Bauers.

Red Letter Writing Contest #41

God save our gracious Snark
Long live our noble Snark,
God save Miss Snark!
Stilettos victorious,
Gin pails most glorious,
Long to reign with Killer Yapp:
God save Miss Snark!

O may our Snark arise,
Strike down foul enterprise,
And crush agent scams:
Confound their retainer-ics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
With your friends Strauss and Crisp:
Snark save us all!

Thy sharpest words in store
On IILAA be pleased to pour;
(Big slug of gin);
Long you work for your cause,
Wrong words; bad tense and clause
You love us with all our flaws
God save Miss Snark!

Not in this blog alone,
Be Miss Snark's mercies known,
In writers’ lore!
Lord make all writers see,
That we a cabal should be,
And form one family,
Under Miss Snark!

From every agent foe,
From the rank dragoon’s blow,
God save Miss Snark!
George, your fair hand extend,
For all our sakes’ defend,
Your ever-loving friend,
God save Miss Snark!


Dear Dog in heaven, Miss Snark feels a corgi snapping at her ankles!

Red Letter Writing Contest #40

Levi Strauss remembered everything that’d ever happened to him. Yes, everything. In fact, some of his earliest memories were of floating peacefully in his mother’s womb, enjoying her warm, relaxing amniotic bath, with not a care in the world. No ignoble enterprise to be engaged in, no grueling schedule to keep, no cabal of crooked loan sharks to answer to.

Levi wasn’t the famous inventor of blue jeans, after all, but rather a man born nearly a century later; an enforcer, a dragoon, a breaker of kneecaps and elbows. A man on retainer for the past eighteen years to Tommy Two Diapers, the most foul-mouthed, incontinent prick of a mobster Levi had ever met. And Levi remembered everybody. His recollections of every twisting, grimacing loser begging for just one more day to pony up the dough were as crisp in his mind after eighteen years then as if he’d broken those poor bastards not eighteen minutes ago.

“C’mon, Mr. Strauss…gimme ‘til Saturday,” the man balled on the floor at Levi’s feet all but squeaked.

“Nope,” Levi sighed.

The only other two customers in the pool hall beat it out onto the street while the indifferent bartender disappeared off into the back. Levi picked a pool cue from the nearby rack and thoughtfully tested its heft.

The desperate man tried one last gambit. “I’ll give ya five hundred easy just to forget ya found me! Huh, whatdaya say?”

“Forget? Me? Not likely,” Levi said, bringing the stick up over his head.



Who knew Tyler Durden read this blog!

Red Letter Writing Contest #39

The Battle Hymn of the Snarks

Mine eyes have seen the blogging of the one they call the Snark,
I’ve read her in the morning, I’ve read her in the dark,
I know she keeps a Yapper, tho’ I’ve never heard him bark,
Her truth it keeps us strong.

Chorus:
Will we, will we ever publish?
Will we, will we ever publish?
Miss Snark, she keeps us strong.

She is dressed in glorious colors like a heav’ly armed dragoon,
Using only crispest verbage she is ready to harpoon
The very latest nitwit, or a scammer she’ll impugn,
Her blog is marching on.

I’ve read her fiery gospels ‘gainst the evil enterprise
Of paying to be published, which is very ill-advised,
We know she is our champion, though we often agonize
It’s taking way too long…

Her cabal has spawned a fan club ‘tho some fear it is a cult,
We pledge undying homage if we publish as result,
We vilify the Baur, but in Snark we do exult,
Her truth it keeps us strong.

She sends us off to gall’ries, we consider notes of Strauss,
She helps us keep clear-headed, her thoughts we do espouse,
We feel we’ve got some friends, although we rarely leave the house…
Her blog it keeps us strong.

We’d gladly pay retainer if she’d only take us on,
We’re convinced we could be famous, the world has got us wrong,
We take our clue gun hits because her tough love makes us strong,
Her truth keeps marching on.


Yowza! Miss Snark is saluting!...but fears the last time she set her hair on fire, she
also burnt her draft card.

Red Letter Writing Contest #38

Noir de' Snark

Dectective Straus stretched on his tiptoes and peered through the dirty glass. There she stood, pink tam wearing poodle at her side. Stilettos reflected the fire from her hair. She set a gin pail on the podium, flipped open a folder and gazed it for a moment. Her cabal of dragoons shifted in their seats and quieted.

Straus grunted as he strained to open the window. It slid upward with the sound of a crisp chip being crushed under foot. An inch would have to do; he couldn't risk the Snarky One hearing him. After all, he had accepted the retainer from that Babs woman. He gently placed a micro cassette recorder on the window ledge as she started to speak.


"There's a crisis in publishing. Slush piles everywhere are growing at an alarming rate." The Snark stomped her stiletto. "Word is getting out about the questionable enterprise called IILAA and writers are wising up."


The dragoons cheered and clapped. The Snarky One raised a hand and the room quieted again.

"And thus the crisis...I need more gin. Plus, I have decided to award agent representation to whoever brings me George Clooney."

Detective Straus pocketed his recorder and made his way down the alley. He glanced at his watch. Soon as he delivered this tape he would be hot on the trail of that Clooney guy. After all, he had a novel under his bed and reputable agents were hard to catch.



Why anyone thinks this should be categorized as fiction is beyond me.

Red Letter Writing Contest #37

The odor of war hung in the air, like the pestilence of the damned. The lawyers of the warring countries, kept on retainer during many years of negotiations, had come to the conclusion there was only one way to establish peace and avoid bloodshed.

The lost Book of Agentia must be restored to its proper place or all would be lost. Princess Strauss, accompanied by Captain Crispin (known to his devoted crew as ‘The Golden Crisp’) prepared to set sail on the dangerous journey through the cold Sea of Slush to find the great book of truth. Unknown to them at the time, a cabal from Rabbitania had discovered their plans and sent their dragoons to notify the evil Empress of Iilaa.

The Empress knew the truth written in the lost book would undermine her enterprise of subversion and greed. She ordered her fleet to find the princess’ ship and destroy it before the book could be found.

As the two fleets battled each other, the Empress gloated as her ships overwhelmed her enemy, until only the flagship of Princess Strauss remained afloat; battered and adrift.

As she ordered her cannons to prepare for the final salvo, a great power from beneath the sea was about to intervene. The Empress had chosen the worst place in the world to make
her stand and the great white Snark was hungry for revenge. Soon she would learn there are fates worse than death.


wait a second here, whaddaya mean "great white Snark"???

Red Letter Writing Contest #36

"I am the very model of a fiendish Dragoon Lit Agent"
(appropriate nods to Gilbert and Sullivan's Modern Major General)

I am the very model of a fiendish Dragoon Lit Agent
I've made my website hard to read with false quotations, smoke, and tint
I know the names of cabals out to get us—they all hate and vent
From Snark Central to P and E, what crisis-mong'ring lies they've sent
Each enterprise from Strauss to Crisp contains no lady, Yapp, or gent
They don't exist, mere corporate-types, ganged up to hog the writer's cent

Now all who've signed there are a few details to work out and discuss
I've reading fees plus copier charge and postal—-please don't make a fuss
In short, you've signed your soul away--I don't care if you make the rent.
I am the very model of a fiendish Dragoon Lit Agent.

I know our mythic history, from pickpockets to pirate-kings
Ah, crooks of old have nothing on my podcasts and those blogger things
I never call my clients back, I can't abide by complainers
That check you wrote me is no more—go back and hawk your retainer.
Meanwhile I'll huff and objurgate with awe-inducing fallacy
While naming no specific sales—my clients need their privacy.

Of all the scams—ahem the jobs—I could pull off this is supreme
What better way to get ahead than fleecing people's hopes and dreams?
And in those throngs of naïve writers I have hardly made a dent
I am the very model of a fiendish Dragoon Lit Agent.



Miss Snark reaches for her tuning fork and the cast of the West Wing!

Red Letter Writing Contest #35

Enter the Dragoons

The sky was a sloppy Picasso. Skeleton clouds posed above Ray Clint and Willy. They were hit men. R.C. hated Willy. Each time they knocked somebody off, rather than making a quick getaway, Willy incessantly went into loot mode.

“You aren’t stealing anything this time,” R.C. scorned. “Boss said this job came from his boss – something about international cabal.”

“I gotta pay the bills,” Willy said throwing his hands up.

“We’re getting ten grand a piece for this job!” R.C. piped. “What kind of bills do you have?”

“I have expensive taste. I gotta enterprise man.”

They had a crisp view through the window. Their timing was perfect as she undressed. She was a pants first girl. Levi Strauss chino pants hit the ground as R.C. smacked the back of Willy’s head.

“Ouch – you son of a bitch, my retainer cut my lip.”

“You look stupid as hell with that thing on.”

“My orthodontist said it’s worth it.”

“What are you, twelve?”

“Shut up. We didn’t have money to fix ‘em when I was twelve.”

“Let’s go make this hit – I’m hungry. Oh, and it’s my turn.”

“Bullshit – you killed that dude over in shanty town Thursday!”

“Oh yeah - the Chinaman, you’re right,” Ray Clint said nodding. “Alright, give me the camera. Boss said he needs pictures to be paid. I’ll be the god damned photographer.”

“I’ll let you kill her if I can take a few things,” Willy offered.

“You have your backpack?”

“Yep.”

“Deal.”


The promise of murder and mayhem...the night is looking up!

Red Letter Writing Contest #34

"So, what is a Dragoon?" old man Strauss said, head cocked to a shoulder.

"A noble retainer to the Secret Order of Snarx," the squire prince puffed his chest, "a cabal of slayers devoted to disrupting those disreputable sorts who seek enterprise over valor."

"Thieves?"

"Indeed. The worst sort, duping the hopeful for their golds. Deplorable."

"Indeed, indeed. But why enlist?"

"Crisp sleeves and fluffed frills are nere enough for one such as I. Greater horizons await after the battle, and the good it does. For that, I face an uncertain future as a Dragoon."

"Then I doubly honored the have your acquaintance."

"Indeed."


Secret order of Snarx!! Does it come with fries?? I'm calling for takeout now!

Red Letter Writing Contest #33

"The Blue Dragoon," I whispered.

A crisp voice boomed out from behind the locked door. "The password is correct. You may enter."

I walked in, though not without apprehension. I had been called, but what could I expect? A table covered in strange symbols? Black candles? Tapestries showing scenes of unimaginable horror? I swallowed the lump in my throat, and my steps slowed.

"Hurry," their retainer called. "They're waiting for you."

"What enterprise have they for me?" I asked.

He smirked and continued to a doorway. "Go on in."

I hesitated at the threshold. No light pierced the interior, but I thought I sensed movement.

"Come forward. You have been chosen."

"Who are you?"

The retainer pushed me into the room. I stumbled, turned to leave, but the door shut behind me.

Lights fluttered overhead, and then I saw them: ominous, hooded figures.

"I am called Victoria of Strauss." I couldn't see who spoke, and the sound seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere. "You have been chosen to become one of us. One of the cabal."

"Why?"

"You spoke against them, against Bauer, Fletcher, and Robins. You are one of us."

"How do you know?"

"We share the same agenda."

"Which is?"

"We can't tell you."

"Do I get a secret nickname?"

"Oh, yes. From now on, you will be known as Snark."

Snark wasn't bad. "Can I be Miss Snark?"

"No." A dark cloth landed at my feet. "The robe's pocket only had room for five letters."


Miss Snark is down for the count.
Damn.

Red Letter Writing Contest #32

To The Lovely Miss Snark:

From Louisville’s leading newspaper.

Headline – CATASTROPHE THWARTED

Hollywood, Ca:
Much to the chagrin of geneticists worldwide, a secret cabal of fashion designers has mastered cloning, and the hapless subject was Levi Strauss. Using a dragoon of bloggers, the fashion moguls surreptitiously had Mr. Strauss hired as lead costume designer for the latest Star Trek: Enterprise movie. Their nefarious motive: to show how dull the future will look if everyone wore jeans rather than crisp, new Designer Original Fashions.

The plot was uncovered by Olympic Gold Medalist and aspiring actress Katarina Witt, who became suspicious when she remembered that Strauss had been dead for over a hundred years. When confronted, the faux Strauss attempted to subdue the actress by wrapping her in a denim tent. Ms. Witt escaped and alerted local authorities.

“I cut my vey out vith my ice skates,” Witt explained.

In a related story, George Clooney (portraying Captain James T. Kirk), was involved in an on-set altercation. Clooney allegedly punched Babs Bauerbuns, the founding member of the infamous terror group IILAA. While the police report concluded Clooney acted in self defense, Bauerbuns announced her intent to sue, saying “Johnnie Cochran has and always will be my retainer.” Bauerbuns ignored several reporters that pointed out Cochran was deceased.

Mr. Clooney will be awarded the Writers Medal of Valor on Thursday.

Initial attempts to disseminate this information were interrupted by a rogue Googlebomb. – Ed.

Thank you for your time.


Miss Snark feels a disruption in the Force.

Red Letter Writing Contest #31

Major Quentin “Jack” Crisp of the Light Dragoons leaned against a pillar, surveying the ballroom. Amidst the swirl of couples waltzing to Strauss was the person whose diabolical cabal had led to the deaths of so many good men. Jack’s men, whose bodies had lain decomposing under the cloudless Portuguese sky. The horror had nearly unhinged him. Vats of gin had not been enough to quench the stench of decay and despair. But now, with luck his enterprise would succeed. Revenge would be his.

A liveried retainer passed with a silver tray, its crystal contents sparking under the candlelight. Jack waved him by. No time to drown his sorrows. He must keep his wits about him.

Across the room, Sir Alistair Crouching-Snark spotted the hidden dragoon behind the column. It was time to flee for France tonight. His work for the little Corsican upstart was lucrative but mayhap his fortune was running out.

Just then Lady Araminta Fotheringhay bumped into him, dropping her reticule.

“Oh, la, sir, I am so clumsy!” She bent to retrieve her purse, her perfect pearly breasts spilling from her low-cut bodice. Ever the gentleman, Sir Alistair leaned down too, the better to assess her ample assets. His last sight before his eternity in Hell was a half-inch of rosy aureole as Jack’s stiletto found its target.

“Dance, my darling?” Jack held out a blood-stained hand.

“Delighted.” They swept swiftly away from the body before the first scream.


Well, I always liked people getting dropped kicked through the goal posts of life on page one, but holy moly.

Red Letter Writing Contest #30

The Video Vagabond cabal set upon the hapless Sagacity Society at midnight. The enterprising SS had gathered as many classics as they could find to donate to the school library, but the VV would have none of it.

In a pitifully one-sided push to dragoon literacy right out of education, the rebels attacked and used as weapons the very books the intellectuals had hoped to promote. One bespectacled fellow took a book of Strauss upside the head so hard his retainer popped out.

The battle was short, the victory crisp. Hand-eye coordination will always win over acumen.


Miss Snark feels a self help book proposal is imminent.

Red Letter Writing Contest #29

Miss Snark slipped behind the Dragoon, Arizona gas station and greeted the attendant. She pushed a crisp dollar into his hand, and he motioned for her to come. She followed him to the back of a large gift shop.

"It's through there." He pointed at a large steel door.

"But is it as horrifying as they say?"

He nodded. "If you get sick easily, I wouldn't go in."

Miss Snark stood up straight and dug her stiletto heels into the floor. "Do you know who you're talking to? I'm the Strauss of the agent world."

"Yeah, now I remember you. I sent you a book about a serial scrubber who lived in Rabbitania, but you sent me a form rejection letter."

"Let's just forget about that."

He pulled out a stack of papers. "I have the manuscript right here."

Miss Snark stared at the foot high stack. "Why don't you just email it to me?" She made a mental note to delete any email from this hick.

He tucked his manuscript away and nodded to the door. "Well, go on then."

Miss Snark grasped the door handle and pushed the door open. Dust blew out at her, and she had to turn away. When she returned her gaze to the inside of the barn, a horrified shriek escaped her lips.

"Yes, Mr. Clooney." Barbara Bauer grinned. "I can sell your book for you. All I need is a little retainer."


The idea! the very notion!
Miss Snark IS overcome!
Where are her smelling salts!

Red Letter Writing Contest #28

Captain's Log Stardate 221415.9:

The USS Enterprise is currently in orbit around the mysterious planet Dragonia. The Dragoons are ruled by a secret cabal headed by the Most High Snark and her retainer the SFWA.

Recently the Cabal has developed a terrible weapon called the Google Bomb. For reasons unknown, they plan to use it to drive independent literary agents out of business and ruin the galactic publishing industry.

The Federation has ordered us to stop this nefarious scheme. Ensign Bauer, Mr. Spock, Bones and I are beaming down to reason with cabal members Strauss, Crispin, and Kuzminski.


Stardate 221416.5:

Unfortunately Ensign Bauer was devoured by a strange beast known as the Killer Yapp shortly after our arrival on Dragoonia. However, we were successful in our negotiations with the Cabal. In exchange for a gin pail and an autographed picture of George Clooney, and a stack of crisp, new $100 bills, the Most high Snark has agreed to stop trying to destroy the galactic publishing industry. The Enterprise is now on its way to Starbase 117 so I can pick up a new case of toupee glue.


Going where no Snark has gone before!

Red Letter Writing Contest #27












Lament of Barbara Bauer ("to the tune of Build Me Up, Buttercup")


Why do you

Pick on me (pick on me)
Strauss and Crisp, baby
Just to bring me down
And dragoon around

And then worst of all (worst of all)
You always call scammers like you say you will
But I'll scam them still

Look, no fees
They'll just pay a retainer
How's that for an enterprise?

That darn cabal (darn cabal)
Bombed Google
With all their lies


Miss Snark feels a sing along coming on....comin' round the mountain!

Red Letter Writing Contest #26

Lord BigBalls, Supreme Commander of the Army of Snarkia, looked around the table. “Are we in agreement?”

They nodded. Lord Pusiwhipt of Land Ownership, Lord Corrup of Treasury, Lord Retard of State Affairs. What a CABAL! sneered BigBalls inwardly. Bunch of Marys. Sure it was about assassinating that pussy of a king, Fairi Kween of Rabbitania, but still! A muffin probably had more backbone than these three.

“Good,” said BigBalls CRISPly.

They left. BigBalls threw off the heavy hood and cloak. Disguises sucked. Well, almost the end of this fun ENTERPRISE.

“My lord, the DRAGOON is here,” came the voice of sniveling RETAINER Frickin STRAUSS in the outer chamber.

“Oh. Yes.” The specially trained dragoon to accompany the lord across the dangerous highlands to view those pesky border tribes. The Hins? Huns? Whatever. They’d kicked Nero’s ass but what can you expect from a drunk.

“Says he has new heavy armor.”

“That’s nice.”

“He has specific instructions… he will help you put it on.”

What? BigBalls turned around. “Can’t you do it?”

“No… he says only he can.”

BigBalls glanced through the peephole. Big pile of metallic armor. The dragoon looked forbidding. BigBalls turned back. Drat! Palace intrigues were nothing. The Church, an inconvenience. Wars were fun. But this! BigBalls stared in the mirror at her nicely shaped boobs. The dragoon would be pretty surprised to see those. No, Supreme Snarkian Commander could not be a woman. She sighed. Male chauvinists were so fragile.


Miss Snark feels an identity crisis coming on.

Red Letter Writing Contest #25

“Sweetie, you misspelled ‘dragon’.”

“Did not.”

“Yes, you did. You spelled it ‘dragoon’. It has only one ‘o’.”

“Read the whole thing.”

“‘The dragoon threatened to overwhelm the enterprise….’ You know, I can’t even understand what you’re saying. It needs to be more crisp. Think of a lucky sonata by Straud.”

“Strauss.”

“Whatever. What I’m saying is this is supposed to be a fantasy, right?”

“Right.”

“So fantasies have dragons, not ‘dragoons’, whatever those are. And here, what about this: ‘His retainer fled after the first volley.’ Where did the retainer come from? They don’t even have dentistry.”

“What the hell?”

“And all this dialogue. Yak yak yak. You can’t even tell who’s saying what. And you never, ever start with dialogue. The reader can’t see what’s going on.”

“You don’t have a clue, do you.”

“Beg pardon?”

“I can’t believe I paid you to be my agent. Do you even own a dictionary?”

“Hey, Sweetie, uh-uh. Don’t give me this attitude. Do you know who I am?”

“You’re in idiot.”

“Oh--ok, that’s it. I don’t need this, especially not from some third rate hack. Sweetie, you can give up trying to get published in this town.”

“What, you think you run some sort of literary cabal? I’ll find another damn agent.”

“Good luck. You couldn’t pay someone to rep you.”

“Well, I did it once, I’ll do it again. Oh, and speaking of, Barbara--excuse me, Ms. Bauer--I want my money back.”


Miss Snark prays this IS fantasy. Truly truly truly.

Red Letter Writing Contest #24

The bag scraped against Tasha's chin as it came off, and she took a deep breath of crisp, night air before turning around to look at her abductor. Chin tilted oddly downwards, mouth covered by a bushy beard, his eyes were his main feature, and the glint in them made her shiver. Or maybe it was the rifle that scared her – an ancient-looking wooden killer with its business end aimed at her head. With at least ten seconds before Nathan could show up, Tasha needed a distraction. "What kind of gun is that?"

"Dragoon," came the grunted response. His eyes narrowed, and Tasha's forefinger curled in what she very much hoped wasn't empathy. A small tinkle came from the window, and the man's head snapped forward as Tasha threw herself to the floor, missing the Dragoon's bullet. Good old Nathan, six seconds ahead of schedule.

Her partner came bounding in the front door, rope cutters at the ready. "Get caught again, did you, Tas?"

"Shut up," she retorted as he freed her. "That's what you're here for."

Standing, she moved over to the bookshelf, and pawed through an eccentric collection of Strauss waltzes, models of the USS Enterprise A through J, and multi-colored retainer cases. Finally locating the first edition copy of Cabal, in paperback, Tasha shivered again. The scary-looking man on the front looked almost exactly like the dead man. No wonder he'd been reluctant to sell this, if he idolized it so.



Cover art---no one is every really pleased with it, are they?

Red Letter Writing Contest #23

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled.

Two weird agents huddled over a stack of submissions while a third stirred a bubbling cauldron.

“Fair is foul and foul is fair, get Snark and Strauss out of my hair. That dragoon of dragons is out to get hard-working weird agents like me,” grumbled the third weird agent.

“Cabal, Barbie dearest, not dra…Oh, why bother.” The first weird agent picked up a query.
“Listen to this pathetic enterprise. ‘Dear Weird Agent. My mother said I wrote better than anyone else and I’m sending you my masterpiece to represent. It’s about a boy and his gun. It’s called ‘Big Bang’.’ He’s spelled ‘mother’ with a ‘U’ and ‘gun’ with two ‘N’s. What should I reply?”

The third weird agent paused her stirring. “Reply with the usual form letter.”

The first weird agent cackled, “The one saying, ‘Congratulations! Your work is exeptional! I’ll be glad to represent you. Complete the enclosed contract and send with a retainer fee of four hundred crisp bills?’”

“Yes, yes. That one. Now where was I?”

“You were about to add an eye of newt to the potion.”

“Oh yes. Eye of newt and tongue of mouse, rid me of troublesome Snark and Strauss!”

The weird agents paused while smoke from the cauldron rose in a stinging cloud and obscured everything in the room.

Barbie’s voice grated from the midst of the swirling smoke. “This spell had better work. I’m running out of nitwits.”




oh dear dog, another keyboard lost!

Red Letter Writing Contest #22

A small Scottish village, forsooth,
Was besieged by a dragon, in truth,
Who appeared from the east
When expected the least
And sped off with a maiden uncouth

The village, in panicky mode
Called a knight, who lived just up the road
Who quickly agreed,
But a retainer he’d need,
Before he would leave his abode

The weather was crisp, but not cold,
The knight neither young nor yet old,
He set out with a cry,
“The dragoon he must die!
Or me name’s not MacIver the Bold!”

The enterprise well under way,
The knight, with a dragon to slay,
On a horse that was keen
Sped right to the scene
And brought that old dragon to bay.

Now here’s where the story gets weird
From the dragon lair music he heerd,
A waltz, he declared
A weakness he shared
With the dragon, or so it appeared

Sword drawn, toward the music he slipped
Into darkness as black as the crypt
But the tune was no Strauss
‘Twas Come On-a My House
In a voice from which honey-lust dripped

In the gloom he made out what he saw
‘Twas a scene close to dropping his jaw
In the distance was light
Just a speck in the night
But the scene caused his sword to undraw

For the tableau made perfectly clear
A cabal of the villagers here
Had played him the fool
Had made him the tool
Of a joke! How they’d laugh, how they’d jeer!

In the gloom of the dragonless lair
Sat a loving, adorable pair
She looked into his eyes
With rapturous sighs
And ran talonless claws through his hair

Backing out from a scene clearly looney
The knight, feeling cluelessly mooney
Watched Miss Snark flaunt her charms
Snug and warm in the arms
Of the grown son of Rosemary Clooney



ok, complete and utter disqualification (despite great promise) because Mr. Clooney is Rosemary Clooney's NEPHEW, and that is just basic required knowledge around HERE.
Harumph!!!

Red Letter Writing Contest #21

Curse

George’s penthouse was an enterprise in vulgar kitsch what with its plush and expensive materials contrasting with George’s pimped-out, brassy and totally-pretentious, rock-producer chic.

“Watch this,” George said like a kid with new toys — a 90-inch plasma screen blasted his new Rap group into my eyes. They specialized in a combo of rock, rap and SKA and while they all had retainers and pimples, they were hot and IN. I tapped the glass on the snake terrarium trying to find Reggie, George’s new pet python.

“They’re called the Sploogy-Woogies,” George screamed. “They dress like Dragoons but they’re really just a group of scruffy, foul-mouthed teens in zombie makeup.” The group cracked off thunderous opening chords – brittle dissonance capable of raising the dead, deafening the ears and possibly even creating small, crisp earthquakes. These chords were worthy of Strauss at his most florid, Sid Vicious at his most prolific, and Alban Berg at his most atonal. The music, if that was the word for what I heard, was the worst rock music ever written for three guitars and drums. I abandoned my defenseless body to the purple sequined cushions on the pink leather sofa and listened to the breathtaking chords of Pookie Snark, Hymie Dimsdale, Petey Clooney, and Spunky Fingers destroying my eardrums.

“I plan to launch them at the Halloween Cabal,” George gushed with more enthusiasm than a teenage girl being anally deflowered. Reggie the snake crept up the leg of my basketball pants and introduced itself to me.


ok, total disqualification for heresy. Heresy I say!

Red Letter Writing Contest #20

Claire remembered sitting with her Grandfather as he stretched out the large old dictionary over their legs. It was important to be well read, he explained, and to have a great vocabulary. As the afternoon stretched out into evening, they would mull over words such as dragoon, cabal, strauss and enterprise. The sound of the turning pages was crisp and delicate and Grandpa’s lap felt warm and safe. Claire would stretch out a small finger and touch unfamiliar letters that snuggled into complete words. Grandpa would explain the selected word carefully, patiently teaching her how it could be used in different sentences.

He should have taught me useful words, Claire seethed. Words that could be used in real life situations. Words like fury, betrayal and revenge. She stood in her apartment not seeing the comfortable furniture or pieces of art hanging in carefully chosen spots. Instead she saw only the memory of a familiar face. The letter was so clutched tightly in her angry fist that she had to force herself to allow the paper to float to the top of the coffee table. Without reading it a second time, Claire took the only thing in the apartment that was important to her and tucked it into her purse. As she left the apartment, she began to formulate a plan. The plan, she decided, could be listed in the dictionary under vengeance and right now she didn’t mind the definition at all.


Gramps would be so proud!

Red Letter Writing Contest #19

“Believe me: If we don’t stop this cabal, it will destroy the entire planet.” Dr. Eula Farkas glared at me from beneath her pith helmet. Her story sounded almost as implausible as she looked, but the five-figure retainer she’d just handed me went a long way toward making it more interesting.

“And just how will they accomplish that, doctor?”

“They plan to bombard the ozone layer,” she whispered, “with a substance so toxic that within ten years nothing will survive but cockroaches and unscrupulous literary agents.”

Not the most original plot line I’d ever heard. Still, I decided to play along. “And that mysterious substance is...?”

She leaned in across my desk until I could smell the fish oil on her breath. “Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Now she had my attention.

“So who came up with this bright idea? The KGB? The CIA?”

She reached into her net bag and pulled out an eight-by-ten glossy of a character who looked like a cross between Quentin Crisp and a dragoon—not the soldier, the bird.

“Mad scientist?” I asked.

“Worse,” she said. “A Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.”



damn...there goes another keyboard.

Red Letter Writing Contest #18

"It's still crisp," the old man said, squinting at a $100 bill. "Will you take cash for your retainer?"

"Sure," I said. I sat down gingerly, avoiding a pan of water near my feet.

"I'm not involved in some kind of criminal enterprise." He retied the string around the neck of the muddy plastic bag. "I just don't like lumpy mattresses."

I got out my pen and notepad. "So about these people who stole your yard gnome. Did you recognize any of them?"

"That cabal. My neighbor Strauss and his kids." He thumped his knee and knocked his cane on the floor. "Moral pygmie! He tried to dragoon me into letting him fix my roof. He wants my money. You question him really hard, you hear," he said, waggling a bony finger at me.

"That's what you're paying me for, sir."

He looked mollified. "Off with you, then. I want a report every day."

"Yes, sir." I handed him his cane.

Outside, I pulled my coat over my head and ran for my car. I read my notes by the light of my cell phone.

"Hello?"

"You were right, Mr. Strauss. Your father's burying his money."

A hard sigh. "Damn."

"Mostly twenties, some hundreds," I said. "In a trash bag."

"Thanks." He paused. "Come by tomorrow. I'll give you the yard gnome. You return it to him."

I looked back at the house. A curtain moved in the front window as I started my car and drove off.



I'm not sure if it's a good sign, or a bad one that I actually want to read on.

Red Letter Writing Contest #17


Sung to “Viva Las Vegas!”

Original words & music: Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman








Hot shot agent’s gonna sell my book
Gonna sell my book today
She just wants a big retainer, it’s standard op
Or so that’s what IILAA says
But there’s a thousand other sites sayin’ it’s lies
I read them all, what an enterprise
A scammer after cash, but you opened my eyes
So, Viva Miss Snark! Viva Miss Snark!

Glad I found you at the head
Before I sent my cash to BBLA
I’d have been trashed and my dreams killed dead
With her wanting more money each day
They’re slick as sewer rats in the Jersey slime
Shine a light their way and hear them whine
All you need is the truth and a cabal behind
You, Viva Miss Snark! Viva Miss Snark!

Viva the Dragoon with Crispin and Strauss
Pointing out all the thieving louse’s
Scams busted, down the drain
Viva to the Dragoon and Absolute Write
Spreading the news day and night
Hear the truth just once
You’ll never be the same again!

I’m gonna spread the word too
Post it on my blog like you
If it costs me my very last dime
If I wind up unpublished
I’ll always remember that I didn’t waste my time
I’m gonna slam ‘em with everything I’ve got
Google-bomb sites and keep the topic hot
Show up their lies and foil each greedy plot
Viva Miss Snark! Viva Miss Snark!
Viva Miss Snark! Viva, viva Miss Snark!



Me! Me! Throw the sweaty towel!!

Red Letter Writing Contest #16

As the harsh words of her English teacher washed over her, Elizabeth rolled her eyes and stood with a hand on a jutted hip. She knew her submission wasn’t what he imagined when he assigned the piece but she didn’t think he would hate it that badly. He was just old, she reasoned, worn out.

Obviously he was unable to fantasize about a cabal of dragoons marauding through the countryside. She didn’t care about his opinion of her story. He likely stayed home every night and watched weird documentaries on various men named Strauss or how the retainer has changed the world of cosmetic dentistry. What did he really know about great writing?

Abruptly she left her thoughts when she realized the teacher had stopped talking. He was looking at her in a way that made her uncomfortable and was standing much closer than before. The classroom clock announced the seconds in a claustrophobic series of clicking and ticking that made Elizabeth feel slightly anxious.

Peering at her, she decided. That is exactly how she would have characterized it. He was peering at her in a way that made her feel as if she was some sort of personal enterprise. Or maybe a good meal. A vision of Christmas dinner flashed into her mind complete with a crisp, white table cloth and a centerpiece carefully decorated with ribbon and ivy and berries. She laughed a little, imagining herself lying across a table set for celebration, and didn’t expect it when the teacher’s mouth closed down over her own.




ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
oh wait, I meant to say "evocative to the point of ..um...nevermind"

Red Letter Writing Contest #15













The note arrived on Monday, along with the morning slush. "Dragoon," was all it said. Miss Snark leaned over the poodle in her lap and fed the note into her shredder.

On Tuesday a second note arrived, bearing a single word. "Cabal." Miss Snark frowned. Into the shredder.

By Wednesday Miss Snark was growing irritated. A third note on the same elegant stationary felt almost like a threat. "Retainer." Miss Snark's finger hovered over Shyster Snark’s speed dial button. No, surely it was a silly prank. But from whom? An author she’d rejected? The fellow agent she'd drunk under the table at last month's writer’s conference? The editor who'd lost his best-selling author when she’d advised her client to jump ship?

Thursday's note said, "Crisp." Followed by, "Interested?" Could it possibly be the odd little man in her building who made faces at her faithful companion, Killer Yapp, in the elevator?

"Strauss," was Friday's word. Miss Snark had anxiously searched through her voluminous slush pile looking for it. Her hands shook as she read the rest of the message. "Meet me. Tomorrow night. Let's make beautiful music together." A pair of initials followed. She knew those initials. Miss Snark's hands trembled in earnest.

Saturday’s note was presented to her in person, on a silver tray beside a Martini, in the bar of the Plaza Hotel. “Enterprise.” His warm voice spoke it aloud as she read.

Miss Snark looked up into George Clooney’s mesmerizing blue eyes and knew she’d been hooked.


hook, line, slinker!

Red Letter Writing Contest #14

I survey my seating options on the bus. There is a seat open next an old woman. I shudder. I think about sneezing on her face and smile. I move past her and sit next to a man with caramel colored skin and a dark chocolate suite. I could really go for a Milky Way right now.

The man is fidgety and smells like cottage cheese. He shuffles his brown, crisp shoes. They look arrogant. I hate people with arrogant shoes.

The man’s stench is making me sick. I force a film of bile back down my throat. I cough on the man’s shoulder. He grunts and tries to scoot away from me. I lean over and cough louder, directly into his ear. Little droplets of saliva shimmer on his caramel colored lobe.

“What the hell you think you doing man?!” the Werther’s Original says in disgust as he wipes the side of his face with his Hershey sleeve.

“I’m from Dragoon, I want to cabal your strauss. Would that suit your enterprise?” I say.

“What?!”

I raise my eyebrows. A look that asks “Are you dumb or deaf?” His pretentious shoes and pungent dairy odor make me feel riotous. He continues to stare at me in confusion.

“Would you like a retainer for the caballing your strauss is about to receive?”

The man scoffs and walks to the back of the bus. I smile and stretch my legs across both seats.
Much better.


dear dog

Red Letter Writing Contest #13

Hilarity Ensues



Mr. MacKinnon looked at the sparking cabinet that had fallen on the trigger mechanism for the Dragoon. Somewhere nearby, a rocket fired.

"Oh, that's not good," he said.

***
The SM-58 Dragoon is a clever little bomb. The pet project of President Strauss, it's a small explosive attached to a disturbingly accurate guided missile. The operator selects a target, fires, and soon there is only a smoking hole where an enemy official stood before.

Project Potato Crisp was a rushed job, with a tiny budget and a snarky staff nicknamed "The Cabal." Most of the crew had not volunteered for the project, and mistrusted the whole enterprise.

While developing the tracking system for the Dragoon, the Cabal needed a test target with a verifiable, remote location. They chose President Strauss. In their hurry to get the missile operational, they accidentally left the target in memory.

If the Cabal hadn't been in such a rush to complete the project, it wouldn't have been as disastrous when the last bolt holding a rack of computer equipment let go.
***
Mr. MacKinnon ran to a still-functional monitor to see where the Dragoon was headed. He nearly swallowed his retainer when he discovered its destination.

No one knows if President Strauss appreciated the irony of being an integral part of the first successful test of the SM-58 Dragoon.



There are days I worry about y'all.
This is one.

Red Letter Writing Contest #12

The crisp dark suits march up the street toward the courthouse, a dragoon of overpaid lawyers, on retainer for a nefarious cabal of seedy, unethical "agents," libel complaints in hand. Their enterprise? To soil the good name of Miss Snark!? Oh, Justice Strauss! Please help!

Well, it ain't verbose!

Red Letter Writing Contest #11







The Crouching Snarks

I was listening to that new goat-grunge band, Dragoons, when my retainer broke. Okay, so I was doing a bit more than listening, but we won't go into that. Let's just say I didn't expect it all to have worldwide consequences.

A fragment of wire flew through my window and bounced off the back of someone's head. He was a member of a cabal plotting world domination, and he and his fellow plotters sat on a park bench, disguising their treasonous musings by playing Strauss music very loudly. Each envisioned himself as dominant; so being thunked on the head by a retainer brought a crisp response. He jumped up and eyed the conspirator on his right. In turn, the guy on the right made the classic twirling finger gesture and rolled his eyes. The others chuckled.

Believing that they were plotting his demise, the evil man whom my retainer thunked murdered then all, and that ended their enterprise on the spot! All goats and half of humanity are safe as a result.

Until I learned of their wicked plot by reading an anonymous blog, I was sure I could never listen to Crouching Snark, Hidden Dragoon again, but it's now my favorite song.

I've organized my own secret society to combat World Domination Plotters. We meet under an abutment of one of the Rhine bridges. Because we must crouch to meet there and because we keep membership secret, we've named ourselves after the song.


What is wrong with world domination??

Red Letter Writing Contest #10

Enterprising Writers Wanted!


If you write the crisp dialogue of a dragoon, are part of the cabal that has memorized the name of the commander of the Starship Enterprise and can hum a Strauss waltz through your childhood retainer - you are Cabal & Dragoon material!

Just mail Ms. Strauss (nee Snark) at Cabal & Dragoon a modest retainer of $500 in crisp (unmarked) dollar bills to our New Jersey mail drop – and soon you'll be sailing on your own yacht, 'Enterprise'.

And – please – ignore that cabal of dragoons who use beverage alerts to attack our need for retainers to pay for our enterprise or you'll have more regrets than Strauss's Marschallin and a future that will be shortly dragooned into a burnt crisp.

But if you know the difference between the enterprise of Levi-Strauss and the enterprises of Levi Strauss, or if you have ever been intimate with that old dragoon Quentin Crisp or – most critically - if you retain a crisp cabal of lawyers on a regular retainer - then you are definitely not Cabal & Dragoon material!


Yes, those dreaded Beverage Alerts...I hear one coming on now.

Red Letter Writing Contest #9

"Whence the Dragoon?"

I was halfway to the woods when a parchment plastered itself to my face. Dragoon or no, I couldn't flee blind, so I removed it and found a scrawled message. "Return to town. Strauss."

One simply doesn't ignore a summons from a Retainer.

I crept back into the flaming town, cursing the curiosity that had drawn me to spy on Strauss over a year before. She permitted me to read from her hidden library despite my indiscretion, but today I wished she would forget my existence.

Strauss flung open the door juggling an armload of crisp scrolls.

"Here." She shoved a torn parchment into my hand.

"What causes dragoons?" Strauss grabbed another scroll to read. "Not much time to get through all this. Help."

I fell into a rhythm: scan, no answer, switch, and scan. I almost tossed the Ballad of Dragoon Lagoon, but realized in time that the scroll held pertinent information, so handed it to Strauss.

She grinned as she read. "It's a misinformation spell! My enterprising sneak, you are now a worthy member of the Knowledge Retainer Cabal."

Sending me out front as a distraction, Strauss crept up behind the dragoon and found a spell-packed barb embedded in its flank which she promptly removed, releasing a crouching Snark from the hide of the dragoon. After vaporizing the hide, Strauss and the Snark retired to
the library for a couple pails of gin.

I was sent to inform the townspeople of our accomplishment.



Miss Snark is always pleased to know her passport is good for other worlds!

Red Letter Writing Contest #8

Sang to the tune of the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bell Aire...Will Smith



Now this is a story all about how
The identity of Miss Snark was almost found
I climbed out from the rubble of my house
Clad in red sneakers and my Levi Strauss
When a cabal of Munchkins pointed me down a path
And for a small retainer they lent me Killer Yapp

I followed the yellow bricks; I would get there soon
But then a wicked witch came with an army of dragoons
She said her name was Babs, and when I came near
She tried to charge a fee and I shuddered with fear

A crisp wind blew; it came in from the West
A good witch named Kristin, one of the best
She took email queries with a smile on her face
Then she threatened Babs with a can of mace

Kristin gave advice, she was very wise
She warned I was on a losing enterprise
Thanking her kindly, I was on my way
Off to find the Wizard, come what may

And when I found the castle I just stepped inside
“Don’t be a nitwit” a booming voice cried
And off in the corner, beneath a curtain I could see
Was that a pair of red stilettos? It couldn’t be.

“Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain”
It was the Wizard of Snark, I was almost certain.
Killer Yap bit my leg…he wouldn’t let go
Pulled myself free, I just had to know.

Who was this Wizard of Snark you may ask.
When I pulled back the curtain all I found was a flask!



I love that show!
I adore Will Smith!

Red Letter Writing Contest #7

Said a cabal of dragoons on retainer
“Send crisp hundreds!” (No scam could be plainer.)
“We’ll dance to Strauss as you pay for our houses!
Oh crap! Snark exposed we’ve no brain-er!”


Miss Snark feels a trip to Nantucket is in order

Red Letter Writing Contest #6

"Grouchie Poodle, Pooping Dragoon", a two-part miniseries (there were images but blogger pooped out on them)

Pupu Strauss, a great composer of the ancient Cabal Dynasty, decides to give his magical pen, the Purple Destiny, to his treasured disciple, Miss Snark. When the pen is stolen by a gal named Big Red and taken into the future, it is up to Miss Snark to retrieve it.

She is accompanied by the village's apron-only-wearing chef, Clooney, her childhood sweetheart to whom she lost her innocence over a plate of his crisp roasted pig skins during their coming-of-age ceremony performed in front of a herd of grouchie poodles. Chef Clooney, though, has a secret magical item of his own, the Pooping Dragoon. Fresh dragoon poop can
give you powers of time travel.

After arduous attempts to coax the pigeon to move its bowel, out of frustration, chef Clooney barbeques the damned bird. Upon finishing the last bite of the meat and licking the salty juices off of each other’s fingers, Miss Snark and chef Clooney are suddenly thrust into the I.I.L.A.A. Enterprise – a spaceship of the future full of shady aliens and a captain named Queer E. After a narrow escape, they find themselves chasing Big Red into a present-day high school musical, complete with slutty cheerleaders, horny jocks, and an unassuming nerd wearing a retainer and an oversized pocket protector.

Watch the premier tonight on SnarkTV!


Miss Snark is ..well...words fail her.

Red Letter Writing Contest #5

Cabal Strauss coughed up the furled morsel of dragoon out the passenger side window of the Enterprise rent-a-car. Quite the delicacy in Burundi, she had been told.

“Crisp!” She faced her master and plucked a tiny fuzz feather lodged between her retainer and a canine. “I ordered medium rare.”


“Need I bitch-slap you, again?” Miss Snark dropped the hair of the dog into the cup holder jutting from the dashboard. “I've told you before. When on a stakeout, only trust Burkina
Faso takeout. She reached for the door handle. "I’m going after him.”

“Why? The bathroom light just went on. He may be jumping in the shower.”


“Cabala, papaya, fi fo, banana. Not only do I know that, but I’m counting on it.”


“Snarkie..." She sneered. "You have protection, don’t you?”


“Protection?” Miss Snark patted down the hard handle of a Berreta 9 mm underneath her Gap sweatshirt and then moved to the embossed ring on her jean’s ass pocket. “Either way, it’s a go.”



Oowagadoogoo indeed!

Red Letter Writing Contest #4

The air - crisp and fresh – filled her lungs as she whirled to the tune of a Strauss waltz – cheekily played in the key of G in 5/5 time.

He pulled her closer – his undeniable studliness alarming her cabal of spinster aunties and homely female cousins, who whispered woefully or secretly sneered sullenly.

"I heaw thewe is a crithith in publithing, thir! Ith it twue?" She lisped, sending her retainer flying across the ballroom floor - boldly going where no orthodonic appliance had ever ventured in at least a fortnight.

"Not a crisis, but a modern enterprise, Miss Sweatermeet," he corrected as he flung her into a deep dip, snatched up her custom fitted mouthpiece, deftly popped it past her virgin lips and smiled seductively. "

"Shall we retire to your bower to discuss it further?"

"Wild hortheth couldn't dwagoon me away, Genewal Mayhem." she breathed breathily in reply.



General Mayhem! My dear dog, who knew Grandmother Snark's first gentleman caller would make an appearance!!

Red Letter Writing Contest #3

Starship Enterprise, Captain's Log, Stardate 3615.6:

Captain Jane Snarkaway smoothed down the lines of her crisp uniform, a cool sweat barely marking her marble-white brow. It had been a narrow escape, but the dragoon sent by the Borg hadn't succeeded in their evil attempts to imprison the entire crew of the Enterprise and turn them into alien retainers. The strains of Strauss's "Blue Danube" floated through her mind like the soft ghost of James Kirk sleepwalking through the galaxy, and she sipped her gin thoughtfully and recalled the day she had overcome the efforts of the all-male cabal to prevent her from becoming the first female pilot of the grandest ship in the universe.

"Home, Killer Yap," she murmured, and leaned back to let the sweet memories overtake her…the triumphs… the bittersweet moments… the doomed love affair with a half-Vulcan movie star who had been the only man to capture her heart… but she knew that nothing could eclipse the triumph of this, her passion, her vocation: that siren song from across the Milky Way, that urged her to abandon family and home, to traverse the skies, to go where no woman has gone before… a novel way to spend a life, surely, but what was it they said about destiny? Go find your destiny, even if it takes you all the way to Mercury… well, she'd done that and more – and she'd discovered that while women did come from Venus, men most certainly did not come from Mars.

KY deducts points for not p=ing in the right place-it's Killer YAPP

Red Letter Day Writing Contest #2

This post was hilarious, a photo shop job, but blogger wouldn't load it.

This link however..might
damn

Red Letter Day Writing Contest #1

I bring you a tale from the town of Dragoon,
And it comes just in time, not a moment too soon.
I used to work for an agent, you see,
As their Executive Business Enrichment VP.
A job that most agents don’t offer at all
Because even the snarky ones don’t have such gall.

The way that we worked it, we’d run a small ad
And scour the net for some folks who write bad
And prey on their hopes and their dreams and their fears
And say, “This is the best thing that I’ve seen in years!
It’s clever, it’s crisp, it cannot be beat,
It positioned me right on the edge of my seat.”



We send out some contracts, deposit some checks,
Move on when the Feds start to breathe down our necks.
Commissions are crazy! It’s incomparably saner
To pay for it all with the simple retainer.

Things were just ducky at Rancho B. Bauer.
The money rolled in, we worked only one hour
A day. That’s how long it took us to sign
The backs of the checks. Then we’d all go and dine
At Otto on Eighth, owned by Mario Batali.
Until one dark night when an vicious cabal re-
Cruited a blogger, or two, or thirteen
And started to post things that struck me as mean.

I’m a poet, you see, and they called me a hack
For writing about the Twin Towers attack
As a way of making myself seem sincere,
Which matters when gullible authors are near.
It is bad news for us when a writer gets wise --
A smart one could threaten the whole enterprise.

Tell me, what does Victoria Strauss
Care if some people see me as a louse?
Or that foul-mouthed gin-swilling agent named Snark
With her tam-wearing dog whose bite’s worse than his bark?
I’ve tried hard to show them but they just do not see
That a fee is a fee is a fee is a fee.

It’s a great big free country. There’s room for all kinds
Of agents, including an agent who finds
She would rather be different and practice our way.
We’ll welcome her at the I.I.L.A.A.


Disqualified for Word count-but yanno (tm/pp) pretty damn funny