But it's not all plotbunny-munching happiness in NaNoLand. Cedric and Willa have enemies, rivals, and ex-friends who write, too. Badly. A few are creative writing professors, or at least write in order to become creative writing professors. Others ghostwrite for right-wing media celebrities such as recurring character Bram Savage. The problem: our protagonists have much more trouble getting published than those two groups. But at least they complain about it entertainingly...
Note: NaNoEdMo is also mentioned in this story. Just so you know.
Cedric and Willa in: Revenge of the Badfic Merchants:
An Apparently NaNoWriMo-Related Misadventure
An Apparently NaNoWriMo-Related Misadventure
Nothing ruins a day of passionate incestuous lovemaking like yet another publisher's rejection slip.
Cedric Thomas, redheaded rock guitarist and fan-favorite author of punk fiction, knocks on the door of his blond sister Willa Richter-Thomas, psychologist and bestselling author of sophisticated thrillers. When Willa opens the door, Cedric sees that she has not even bothered to remove her clothes even though she normally insists on nudity inside the house. Wanly, she waves a piece of mail.
"What's wrong?" asks Cedric.
"Oh, nothing more than rejection letter number twenty-eight. Same message: we love your book, but it doesn't fit in our corporate raider owner's marketing goals. By the end of next month, I'll have a backlog of three novels publishers no longer want."
"What don't they like about it?"
Willa sighs. "Apparently my heroine's too brilliant and resourceful to be believable to snobby editors. They think anybody who doesn't stick to litfic is a moron, and their corporate raider employers prefer morons because they make the perfect buyers of crap. So the decree comes down from On High that only three genres outside the romance ghetto count: one, literary fiction that creative writing professors write for other creative writing professors; two, badly written paranormal romances engineered for tweens to fangirl over; and right-wing conspiracy thrillers badly ghostwritten under the bylines of Fox News celebrity pundits." She flings the rejection letter behind her, exits the house and locks the door in one fluid motion, grabs Cedric, and drags him to her car. "Let's eat out tonight. I want to get out of here before I throw a temper tantrum."
Willa drives her brother northward up the freeway, out of Bremerton. The Silver City Brewing Company is Willa's favorite restaurant in Silverdale. (The Author has only been there once [and then had his ritual "new restaurant first dinner" of fish and chips], so he does not know what his characters ordered, so don't ask him.) In the booth next to them, a married pair of friends are getting ready to leave, having already finished dinner, when they spot Willa and Cedric. The two couples exchange the usual friendly hugs and handshakes.
Muriel says to Willa, "I heard you got another rejection letter again."
"They're coming hard and fast these days, I'm afraid."
Bob, Muriel's husband, takes a book off the table and gives it to Willa. "I got this from a friend of a friend." It's celebrity conservative pundit Bram Savage's latest ghostwritten thriller, The Alien President. Willa groans.
"One of our church friends joined one of those 'TEA Party' organizations," says Muriel, "and a conservative group was handing out copies of this. He took several copies to inflict on friends, and we were among the unfortunates he gifted. We thought that since you're Bram Savage's favorite liberal punching bag after President Obama, we'd give you a chance to stomp all over his latest travesty."
Willa laughs. "As a matter of fact, I actually know Bram from way back, before he turned Professional Conservative. Back then, he wrote fan fiction. Badly. I was his least favorite reviewer." She winks wickedly.
"Ohhhh," say Bob and Muriel together, conspiratorially. Muriel says, "By the way, I heard you had a run-in with some professor the other day."
"Oh yeah, her. She was a creative writing professor. You know the literary genre that's allegedly not a genre at all? Literary fiction? Written by creative writing professors for creative writing professors? Well, here comes this tenured litfic specialist, bragging about being so unpopular because she was so Sophisticated. She told me she read my novels and they made her go all 'ew'. I replied that I read her novels, and they made me realize exactly why they were never popular in the first place, even among the creative writing students forced to actually read them. It was because they sucked, plain and simple. Protection from editors and critics tends to do that to an author, especially one who's mediocre at best, such as your typical creative writing professor. Our exalted professor harrumphed away to protect her fragile ego. So, yeah."
Bob and Muriel laugh. Muriel says, "Since these hacks get guaranteed long-term contracts for their book-length NaNoisms and the four of us only get rejection slips for our troubles, we want you to get revenge for all of us, Willa."
"Read it if you can," says Bob. "And then have at."
Willa is ominously silent during dinner. Cedric knows that whenever his sister says nothing, she's plotting something.
After Willa drops Cedric off and gets back home, she slips into her favorite recliner and starts to read The Alien President. She expects Bram Savage and his ghostwriters to assault her with insane rantings about the Evil Space Alien Conspiracy putting a reptoid doppelganger into the White House, only to find, to her great disappointment, that what they wrote was nothing more than "birther" anvil-dropping as dreary as it is tedious. The relentless cliché storm of obvious NaNoisms brings back unpleasant memories of reading badly plotted, badly spelled, and ungrammatical hentai fanfics written in a disturbingly familiar style...
The next day, Willa's ever-faithful legions of fans find this newly posted review on her blog:
As you may have heard, yet another publisher rejected my latest manuscript due to, well, marketing constraints. I know the publishing industry is in the dumps along with the rest of the world economy, but this is ridiculous. Some of the rejection letters I got urged me to stop being so experimental. I might as well post my novels online. [Author's Note: This statement alone provoked several hundred comments begging her to do just that.]As expected, the publishers, conservative ideologues, and litfic snobs take personal offense like they always do. They don't take being pummelled like punching bags by Willa Richter-Thomas any more than they do by Jon Stewart. As usual, her fans eat it up.
There are certain authors, though, who never get rejected and even enjoy complete protection from editors. We call them celebrities. The celebrities I intend to rant about in this post are celebrity pundits on a certain right-wing cable news station. The station's owner also owns a major publishing company, so he can use it as a vanity press for his celebrity pundits in the name of "interdivisional synergy" or whatever the latest trendy and unpronounceable term is in Big Business-speak. Since the pundits can't write, only rant, the Big Boss hires ghostwriters to do the actual writing for them. It never helps.
In my secret life as a fangirl, I read a lot of fanfics. I've read some really rotten fanfics in my day. Those few of you who are fellow members of my Secret Fangirl Conspiracy will know what I mean when I mention My Immortal, The Legend of Dark Yagami, or StarKits Prophcy [sic], and you'll shake your heads sadly in recognition when I say that the only difference between these professionally ghostwritten Instant Bestsellers and the worst badfics on the Web is that the Instant Bestsellers have correct spelling and grammar. Those of you who aren't fangirls should still be afraid. You see, these ghostwriters suck. They couldn't plot their way out of a paper bag.
Take the Fox News Celebrity Pundit Thriller that I just threw into the recycle bin. (Dorothy Parker would be proud.) It's called The Alien President, and it is allegedly written by Bram Savage, who now refuses to appear on TV with me because he knows I'll always own his ass. He has never forgiven me for outing him as the writer of a certain series of pseudonymous hentai badfics and making him the laughingstock of fangirldom. Well, guess what? His ghostwriters are even worse! Sure, they can actually spell words correctly and write coherent sentences in English. But their plotting ability is even worse than their celebrity coauthor, and that's saying something.
I don't need to spoil the details of the plot, such as it is. All I have to do is say, "Fox News Celebrity Pundit Thriller", and I've spoiled the whole thing for you. This one has something to do with the alleged fact that a certain black guy in the White House is an illegal alien from Kenya and, like all the other Liberal Traitors, an agent working for Al-Qaeda. How very truthy, that. One thing you need to know is that, like all Fox News Celebrity Pundit Thrillers, The Alien President is Not Fiction — it's "faction"! That is, it's All Absolutely
TruthyTrue!!!1one11eleven In other words, the genre's gullible right-wing readers don't know how to read fiction, so they take whatever they read to be Gospel Truth, precisely because their favorite pundits "wrote" it. I won't actually quote anything (I don't want to inflict such a horrible indignity on you), but suffice it to say that my so-called friend Bram Savage has ascended in the hierarchy of badfic, from the insane but laughable hentai fanfic author he once was to the celebrity author of Instant Bestseller badfic he now is.
Yeah, I know, you ask me: if neither Bram nor his hack ghostwriters can actually write worth beans, how come he actually sells copies? Here's the dirty secret of the Fox News Celebrity Pundit Thriller genre: he doesn't. Not to individual readers, anyway, at least outside Christian bookstores. The Conservative Book Club buys most of the copies and gives them away to conservative organizations, which give them away at conservative rallies. That's how the copy of The Alien President I just recycled came into my hands: a TEA Party activist a friend of mine knows got a copy at a conservative rally, and he gave it to my friend, who gave it to me (telling me "have at"). It's the publishing industry's version of corporate welfare. Doesn't it sound suspiciously socialist? Sure does to me...
I know how Bram will respond to this thoroughly accurate review of his new book. He will close his ears, yell "I can't hear you! La la la la...", and claim I didn't read it. I'm sorry to say I actually did read it. But I did it so you don't have to. The Alien President is the kind of thing you get when powerful men in government subsidize vanity presses.
Meanwhile, NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Instead of writing a badfic made up of nothing but ludicrous NaNoisms like Bram and his ghostwriters do, I'm going to write yet another killer experimental thriller. My political enemies among the publishing industry's corporate raider owners will still refuse to touch it with a ten-foot pole, of course, and the former creative writing professors they headhunted from the universities and who still hate me with the same tedious irrationality will continue to treat my manuscripts like toxic waste. But then, they don't make publishers like they used to.
Oh, and Bram? When NaNoWriMo begins, I challenge you to a Word War. I'll take on you and your entire team of ghostwriters, all at once. But I know you won't take up my challenge, because you know I can outwrite all of you with both my hands tied behind my back. And I'd challenge you to do NaNoEdMo in March if you hadn't proved to me back in your badfic days that you're incapable of understanding the meaning of the word "edit"...
That evening, Cedric knocks on Willa's door again. This time, Willa greets her brother at the door in the nude. She drags him in, slams the door, kisses him passionately, and unbuttons his shirt. "You're in a good mood today," he says.
Willa laughs. "Rupert Murdoch himself sent me a piece of priority hate mail. It made my day. I think he likes me."
"You sure got quite the fan club there," says Cedric as his sister strips him naked.
Willa grins wickedly as she drags Cedric into her bedroom. "Enough. C'mon, brother, let's go make love."
Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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