Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's All Good

The site is up and running again! So in celebration, I'll share some other good things... like good books!

I'll start with a recommendation for younger readers: The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett. Tracy is a good friend of mine and a terrific writer. If you haven't read Cold In Summer, On Etruscan Time, or Anna of Byzantium (my personal favorite), you've missed out. Get them and read them! But on to the latest: The 100-Year-Old Secret kicks off a new middle grade mystery series by Barrett featuring the sibling sleuths Xena and Xander Holmes. Two typical American kids, they are less than certain about their futures when their parents move the family to London, England. They have to get used to new words ("biscuits" for "cookies"), new foods ("scones and clotted cream") and a new school (complete with uniforms— horrors!). But things get even crazier when they learn their great-great-great-grandfather was the real Sherlock Holmes— and they are given his casebook of unsolved mysteries as a gift. Xena and Xander can't resist a challenge, and pretty soon are off to track down a famous painting that's been missing since 1904. The book is a lot of fun and the two heroes are easy to like. Clues abound throughout the book, aided by sketches of the casebook's pages, so reading detectives can figure out the clever solution along with Xena and Xander. Suitable for ages 9-12, but older mystery lovers will enjoy it too!

When it comes to good reads, there's just something about England— specifically, the British Empire— that makes for great stories. Two recent jewels in the crown are Philip Reeve's Larklight and Starcross, set in a fanciful Victorian era Empire that has expanded into outer space. Mix a pirate yarn with an espionage novel, stir in massive quantities of steampunk science fiction and add a dash of Lemony Snicket style humor and you wind up with these two tall tales. The narration by the eleven-year-old Art Mumby (interrupted by his not-so-prim-as-she-tries-to-be fifteen-year-old sister Myrtle) is spot on. Our stalwart hero is convinced that no alien plot, however dark and devious, can stand up to British pluck— and off he goes to prove it, in rollicking style. These books are meant to be read, especially as the over-the-top illustrations just add to the humor (when the very proper Myrtle expresses certainty that the illustrator won't depict her in her nightgown, the next page does just that!). Indeed, the best way to give you a full appreciation for these two books is to repeat their full titles:
Larklight : Or the Revenge of the White Spiders! or to Saturn's Rings and Back!: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space
Starcross: A Stirring Adventure of Spies, Time Travel and Curious Hats
What more needs to be said? Read 'em, by Jove!

And huzzah! A third book will be released on October 15:Mothstorm: The Horror from Beyond Uranus Georgium Sidus!

Yes indeed, life is good!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Please Excuse the Mess

If you've been to my web site in the past day or so, you've either seen a big sign slapped on by AOL announcing that their hosting services are shutting down, or you've gotten a 404 error, or seen a page with a lot of missing graphics and bad links.

Like the guy with the snarky waiter, I'm having "server issues."

Fortunately, I've found a better host. But that means I'm in the middle of changing everything (and that's a lot) to the new server. And I do my web sites myself, which means at the moment that things are a bit... ugly. (Well, uglier than usual.)

The good news is I do have a new server.

The good news is I do have all my web site files on my main hard drive, and can easily... okay somewhat easily... upload them to the new server.

The bad news is that the new server treats filenames in the code with Capital letters as separate files from ones with lowercase letters, even if the name is the same. So when my site code calls for "AboutMe.html," the new server doesn't recognize that as a call for the file "aboutme.html." (I'm hoping for a simple fix, 'cause otherwise I have a lot of tedious code checking and file renaming to do.)

But the last bit of good news is that this blog is separate and working great.

Thanks for bearing with me while I sort things out!

--- Howard Shirley

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Last Call

One by one across the water
March captains, privates, generals, all.
One by one they leave the struggle;
One by one they heed the call.
Leaders, servants, fighters, clerks;
Brave men, wise men,
Rash men, fools;
Learnéd men and laborers,
Men of thought and men of tools.
One by one across the water;
One by one they leave the fight.
How their hearts burst forth in laughter
As the darkness yields to light!
Captains, privates, generals, cooks—
Good men, brave men, heroes all—
Dearest comrades greet their coming
to the final muster call.
How the ranks stretch on to Glory!
How sweet sings out the bugle’s tone!
'Til their Captain signals silence—
"Peace, my brothers. Welcome home."

In memory of Corporal (T-5) Asa Ambrister, US Army, 1942-1946. Veteran, attorney, husband, father, grandfather, and my father-in-law.

July 23, 1924 September 26, 2008.

©2008 by Howard Shirley

--- Howard Shirley

Friday, September 19, 2008


It be Talk Like A Pirate Day, matey!

Aye, 'tis the day when true gentlemen and ladies o' fortune bespeak each other in the grand manner o' the pirates of old. (Or at least classic Hollywood). So buckle on yer swash, swagger up to yer mates and give 'em a hearty "Aaarrrghhh!!!"

An if ye be in need o' some piratey inspiration, set sail for yer local treasure place o' books and fill yer hold with some old sea tales:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, the father of such grand piratey sayings as: "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle o' rum," and "Pieces of Eight!"

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. 'Tis a tale of adventure, romance, and heroism on the high seas, and the source of the classic Errol Flynn flick. A must for every pirate library! Aarrghh!

The Dark Frigate by Charles Boardman Hawes. A spirited lad of England ships aboard a merchant vessel, only to run afoul of a cruel pirate captain who forces him to join his crew. These be real pirates, lad, not some lubbers in a silly hat. A Newbery winner, which is better than a gold doubloon!

The Wreckers by Iian Lawrence. Not all pirates ply the seas, mateys. On a stormy night, the lights on the shore may not be friends o' the sailor...

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. 'Tis not a tale o' piracy, but 'tis a grand sea tale just the same. A thirteen year old landlubber of a girl must learn the ways o' the sea when she's caught between a mutinous crew and their captain... and winds up accused of murder. Picked up a bit o' silver from the Newbery crew, and that's no treasure to sneer at!

There be plenty more good books (and some fine bits o' film too) to fill yer piratey sails, so keep a weather eye out, yer sails taut, and yer powder dry!


--- Cap'n Howarrghd P-)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Revise, Share, and Revise Some More.

The workshop on Saturday at the Franklin Library was a lot of fun (I certainly had fun, and from the smiles on the young writers' faces, I think they did as well). Each person thought up a first sentence for a story. Then we went through and changed the sentence ten different ways; some basic (changing the tense, changing the point of view) and some radical (write in the style of Robert Louis Stevenson; write the sentence in rhyme). By the end we had some amazing differences from where we started. It's a great way to experiment with language and have fun with an idea— and even discover a story you never intended! (Again, kudos to Jennifer Wingertzahn of Clarion Books for introducing me to this terrific idea.)

We followed up with a more focused exercise, with each person choosing an object in the room and writing a description of it, as if the object were part of a story. Once we'd finished, we made a change: we had to describe the object again from the opposite point of view— if our first description was positive, we had to make the new description negative, and vice versa. (Thanks go to my good friend Ruta Sepetys for teaching me this one!)

I chose a half-eaten doughnut (yes, I do the stuff I ask you to do; it's only fair). Most of the class chose an American flag in the corner of the room. (I suspect I was hungrier.)

The responses were terrific, especially when we turned the description around (I knew it was coming; they didn't). That change launched whole new approaches, ranging from seeing the American flag as a modern-day enemy might view it, to the viewpoint of a British officer surrendering to Washington in the Revolutionary War. Wow, these young writers are good!

But perhaps the greatest lesson of the workshop was a little less obvious— the lesson of giving up your fear and sharing what you write. Six young writers had to each swallow their nervousness and read what they had just written out loud. Yikes! But in the end, they learned that they could share it— that there was something of value in what they wrote, and that others could appreciate it. And that's an important lesson to learn, whether you're just writing for a group of friends, a library workshop, or who knows whom on the Internet.

Give it a try! Sure, start with your grandmother (she'll love everything you write), but then take that risk; read it to a friend, a teacher, a writing club... not only will you become more comfortable with sharing, you'll become more comfortable with writing. And that's a great feeling to have.

--- Howard Shirley

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I'm back with another young writers' workshop this Saturday at the Franklin Public Library in Franklin, Tennessee. This time we'll be having fun with a great exercise I picked up from Jennifer Wingertzahn, an editor at Clarion Books.* It will have you writing and thinking— and you'll surprised at what you can do with a single sentence. If you're a teen who loves to experiment with words, come on in; we're going to have a great time.

For more information, or to sign up, check with Phillip McAndrew, the Young Adult Librarian, here

Saturday, August 9, 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM.

Oh, and Phillip informs me that I need to include this:


We're not above bribery...

--- Howard Shirley

*Remember the writer's motto: Always steal from the best! (Thanks, Jennifer!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I've been everywhere, man...

So, in answer to the rather obvious question, "Where have you been?," see above.

Okay, not strictly true. In fact, I've only been to North Carolina and back to Tennessee. And back to North Carolina. And back to Tennessee. And back to North Carolina. And back to Tennessee. And then an unexpected side trip to Alabama. And back to Tennessee. And then across Tennessee. And then to North Carolina, again. And then back home to Tennessee.

So it only feels as if I've been everywhere. (Whew, I'm tired.)

Now, as to why North Carolina, my parents have a summer cottage in the lovely Appalachian mountains just south of the Blue Ridge, and my son was attending summer camp for the first time at Camp Ridgecrest for Boys outside of Asheville, North Carolina. So the back and forth was in part to drop him off and pick him up (yes, we like having him back), and also to see my aunt and uncle who came down from Manhattan to visit my parents at their mountain cottage.
The last back, though, was just for me. My son went to camp, and I did too.

Turns out this year marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of Camp Ridgecrest, which I also attended as a boy. If there is a Paradise on Earth for boys, it is Camp Ridgecrest. There are mountain trails to hike. Mountain streams to catch crayfish in (after which you boil them over your camp fire). A mountain lake to swim in, splash in, jump in, slide in, zip-line in, and blob in. (What's a blob? It's a giant air-pillow floating in a lake. You jump on it from a tower, crawl to the end, and wait for the next kid— the bigger he is, the better— to jump on the other end. UP in the air you go with a yell, and down— SPLASH— into the lake. (Which, by the way is fed by mountain streams; brrrrr!!!)
At Ridgecrest there are campouts. Bonfires. Water balloon fights. Sock wars.

Wait, you ask. What's a "sock war?"

It's basically a humongous game of Capture the Flag, played all over camp. With socks.
Well, not socks that are worn, but socks that are thrown. The socks are filled with soft dirt or sawdust, and they are the weapons used by the two armies in this massive fight. Some of the troops tuck their socks into tight little balls, so as to make more accurate missiles. Others use long tube socks, whipping them through the air like flails for "whack-I-got-you" close combat action. If you're hit by a sock, you're temporarily out of the fight, and have to report to a neutral zone, where judges record you as a score for the other team. Naturally, capturing the enemy flag and bringing it to the neutral zone also scores points for your team. The high scoring army wins the war (which lasts about two hours).

And yes, during the Reunion weekend, I joined the war. There I am, forty-three year old dad, running around with kids and young men ages 6-26, yelling my head off and throwing socks. I ran down narrow forest paths. I dodged through rhododendron thickets. I slid through mud. I wound up with two long scratches on my leg and one across my wrist from whipping branches. I got hit in the head twice (head shots don't count as outs), and elsewhere about five times. By the end I was hot, thirsty, and exhausted. In short, it was one of the best days I've had all year. And I still don't know if my team won or not!

To borrow a saying from the Marines: You can take the boy out of the camp, but you'll never take the camp out of the boy.

--- Howard Shirley, aka Camp Ridgecrest Son of Chief "Talented Peacock"*

*My "Indian" name from the Camp Ridgecrest Indian Council Ring, given to me by the brave, stalwart, noble and very mischievous Little Chiefs of Camp Ridgecrest in 1982.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Street Cred, circa 2008, 1944 & 1928

I'm not an FBI agent, but I got to play one this month. I just finished off the "FBI Citizens' Academy," which was my opportunity to learn about the FBI, what they do and who they are, without the absurd filter offered by Hollywood movies and over-the-top TV shows. (CSI, Numbers, etc... you know who you are.)

After six weeks of learning about anti-terrorism efforts, gangs, organized crime, counterespionage, bank robbers and cyber-crimes, on our last day we moved to the local police firing range for the most eagerly anticipated session: firearms training.

That's right. I got to blow stuff away.

The first picture here is me shooting an MP5, the standard issue FBI "long gun." MP stands for "Machine Pistol", which simply means this is an automatic rifle that shoots a pistol round. (In this case, a 10mm round. It can also shoot a 9mm round, but that "rattles going down the barrel" according to my instructor). Automatic is a bit misleading here, and it's possible I'm using that term incorrectly. "Semi-automatic" means a weapon shoots one round (one bullet) with each pull of the trigger, without the operator having to cock the weapon or take any other action for each shot. "Automatic" means the weapon just keeps firing rounds as long as the trigger is pulled. A machine-gun is an automatic weapon; a typical pistol (such as a Glock, which I also shot), is semi-automatic. In the case of the MP5, it has a two-shot burst function, which automatically shoots two rounds with each pull of the trigger. Yes, that's fun. But the second round definitely does not land where the first one did, thanks to the kick of the first shot. But it lands close enough.
(I was the most accurate for the day with this weapon, landing a "right-between-the-eyes" single round shot on our paper target.)

The second photo is the FBI's standard issue "sawed-off" shotgun. It's a three-shot, pump-action model with a shorter barrel (13") than the public can purchase (most shotguns have an 18" barrel). The shorter barrel is less accurate, but the FBI prefers it because it's easier to handle when getting out of a vehicle. This puppy has a kick on it, but it was easy to shoot. I took the standard approach, aimed for the biggest part of the target, and bam, pump, bam, pump, bam. Three solid hits. Where on the target? It's a shotgun... it doesn't matter where. In this photo you can see one of the targets we were using. His name, apparently, was Will. (Think about it...)* By the end of the day, poor Will was completely missing from the shotgun target, and the steel backboard itself was bent back to the point all you could see of it was a tiny tip. And people were still hitting that, three-for-three. Like I said, with a shotgun, "where" doesn't matter.

The third picture is a World War Two "grease gun." Yes, this gun is sixty years old. It's a pure machine-gun. It doesn't do anything except automatic. Pull the trigger and bbbbrrrrraaaaapppp, the bullets fly out. According to our instructors, this weapon was used by Allied tank soldiers, and also dropped behind enemy lines to resistance fighters because it was so cheap to manufacture (about $12 per gun at the time). It's called a "grease gun" because it looks like the grease guns 1940's mechanics used to lubricate automobile parts. The main thing I learned about this gun was to hold it steady and use short bursts. As soon as you squeeze the trigger the gun starts dancing upwards; my first time with this gun, I could hear the "spang-spang-spang" as the last of my shots hit the backstop's roof. "You, and your house, pal!" This gun was so much fun, I shot it twice.

Lastly, you'll see a genuine Thompson machine-gun from 1928. That's right, a Tommy gun, the star of many a gangster movie. This particular model is called an "overstamp 1928." It was made for the U.S. Navy in 1921, with the ability to shoot over 800 rounds in a minute. The Navy decided that was too much ammo in too short a time, so in 1928 the manufacturer reconfigured the weapon to a rate of about 650 rounds a minute, and stamped an "8" over the old "1" at the end of the date. All I can say is, 800 or 650, either way the target's a goner.

Obviously, I didn't shoot anywhere close to 650 rounds. We used a clip of 10 rounds. It doesn't take long to fire 10 bullets with a Tommy gun. Rat-a-tat-tat, you're done— but so is the target.

If you're familiar with the Tommy gun, you may have seen photos of the big round drum magazines that look a little like a black cheese wheel stuck under the bottom of the barrel. We didn't use one of these because a gun with a fully-loaded drum magazine weighs 45 pounds (!). Imagine trying to aim a sack of potatoes, and you'll understand why I was happy to take a pass on that experience. 

As a writer, it's important that I seek out new experiences; every one is another tool on my belt to add depth to my stories. I may not be writing a novel about the FBI today, but tomorrow... who knows? Someday I might want to describe the experience of shooting a grease gun; now I can, because I've done it.

And yes, it was just darn cool.

--- Howard Shirley

*Our instructions were to "Fire at will." Yeah, old joke, and a groaner. That's life for Will.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hopeful Writer & the Unsolicited Manuscript (Part 3)

It's a trilogy! (So read Parts 1 & 2 or you'll be even more muddled than everyone else.)

Our story so far: 955 A.D. It is a time when men were knights, days were dark, and everybody was therefore thoroughly confused. Hopeful Writer and the Knights of the Library Study Table have embarked on a grand quest to find a publishing house. Following the SCBWI-Mercia Regional Conference (and a confusing encounter with the terrifying Agent), they have decided to brave all and seek the publisher themselves.

Cue dramatic music.

Hopeful Writer & the Unsolicited Manuscript
Part 3
by Howard Shirley

Exterior, wide shot. Low hill in foreground. A tall, imposing castle rises from a high ridge in the background, silhouetted dramatically against the sky. HOPEFUL WRITER, EAGER ILLUSTRATOR, NUMBED FINGERS, SINCERELY the SUBMITTED and REPETE the REJECTED, enter the scene from the foot of the low hill, backs to the camera. They struggle to the top of the hill and stop.

Cut to close-up of HW, EI, NF, SS, RR staring into the distance.

HW (pointing): At last— the Publisher!

EI.: The Publisher!

NF: The Publisher!

SS: The Publisher!

RR: It’s only an imprint.


Cut away to exterior, below the walls of the castle. The Knights of the Library Study Table approach.

EI (looking around): There doesn’t seem to be a door. Not even a drawbridge.

RR: Of course not. It’s a closed house.

HW: I always wondered what that meant.

SS: Maybe they’ll take a query?

NF: We can try.

HW: I’ll do it. (Looks up at castle, calls out) Excuse me! Hello?

Cut to shot looking up at battlements. The ASSISTANT ASSOCIATE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT (AAEA) appears.

AAEA: What do you want?

HW: Greetings! Whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?

AAEA: I’m the Assistant Associate Editorial Assistant.

The KNIGHTS look at each other, trying to puzzle this out.

HW: Greetings, most noble “Assoc...” no, “Edit...” no, that’s not it either... Greetings most noble sir... (NF kicks him)... Madam! I mean, Greetings most noble madam! We are four...

SS: Five!

HW: Five! Uh, humble writers on a quest to find a home for our manuscripts, a quest bestowed upon us by The Agent Him (NF kicks him again)... uh, HERself.

EI: You know, I’m not a writer yet. I do illustrations, so maybe it is four.

HW: So we four writers...

EI: And an illustrator!

HW: Right. And an illustrator would like to respectfully submit our manuscripts to your house.

SS: Oh, well put!

AAEA: No thank you. We’ve already got one.

HW: She says they’ve already got one.

Cut to AAEA inside battlements. The ASSOCIATE ASSISTANT EDITORIAL ASSOCIATE (AAEA 2) is sitting out of sight of the KNIGHTS.

AAEA: I told them we’ve already got one.

AAEA 2 (snickers)


NF: They’ve already got one? What’s that supposed to mean?

EI: One what?

HW: A manuscript, I guess.

RR: But they don’t have any of ours. I think it’s just a stalling tactic.

SS: A stalling tactic?

RR: To see if we’re persistent. A weeding technique.

NF: Maybe if we try a different editor?

HW (to castle): Is there anyone else we can talk to?

AAEA 2 is now standing on the battlements, and AAEA is out of sight.

AAEA 2: No. Now go away, or I shall reject you a second time.

EI: Is that the same person?

NF: It doesn’t look like the same person.

SS: I know the turnover rate in publishing is really bad, but this is ridiculous.

HW: Did anybody pick up the latest edition of Writer’s Market at the conference?

RR (holds up book): Door prize!

NF: Well, look her up.

HW (takes book, thumbs through it.): It says here she’s the “Associate Assistant Editorial Associate.”

EI: So, she is who we queried the first time.

NF: No, that was the Assistant Associate Editorial Assistant.

RR: What’s the difference?

AAEA 2 (from battlement): Wash room privileges!

HW: So, what do we do?

EI: Send chocolate?

SS: Wrap it in gold ribbon; catch her eye.

RR: Just tell her we saw her at a conference.

NF: Did we see her at a conference?

RR: Could have. They all blur together after awhile.

NF: The editors, or the conferences?

RR: Both.

HW (to AAEA 2): We, uhm, heard you at a conference. Will you at least take a sample?

AAEA 2: Oh, all right. Lob one over the transom.

NF: Over the what?

RR: She means to send her something without an agent.

SS: I thought we just did that.

EI: No, that was the query. This will be a sample.

SS: Oh.

(Suddenly something strikes RR on the head. RR falls over.)

HW: Repete! Are you okay? What hit you?

RR (lying on ground, holds up a piece of paper tied to a rock; weakly): Submission guidelines.

SS: Way to take one for the team, Repete!

NF: We’d better follow these exactly.

EI (opens paper): These are very odd.

HW: Where are we going to find that much chocolate?

RR (from ground, weakly): Little help, please?

Cut to full shot of AAEA 2 looking over the battlements. AAEA peeks above the edge.

Cut to shot of woods; no one can be seen. Sounds of typing, cries of “More paper!” “Paper jam!”“We’re out of toner!” “HOW much is this costing us in ink?!?”

Cut to extreme close-up of a wrapped package tied up in gold ribbon. The package is labeled: “Requested at Conference You Were At This Year. Really.”

Cut to shot of KNIGHTS, all helping to carry the package.

NF: Do we have enough postage on this thing?

RR: Postage? We’re not using postage.

NF: Then how are we going to send it?

HW: Just like she said. We’re lobbing it over.  All right everybody, on the count of four!

SS: But there are five of us.

EI: But I’m the illustrator. That makes four.

RR: Will you guys quit yammering and help toss the package?

(They begin swinging the package back and forth to the count.)

HW: One! Two! Three! Five!


HW: Right! Four!

They toss.

Cut to wide shot of package sailing through the air and over the wall.

Cut to shot of AAEA and AAEA 2 watching the package.

AAEA 2: Nice lob. I didn’t think they’d have enough postage.

AAEA: Fetchez le voche!

AAEA 2: What?

AAEA: Sorry, wrong idiom. Get the you-know-what.

AAEA 2 (thumbing through French-English dictionary.): You want a cow?

AAEA: No! Look, I already apologized about the idiom. Get the you-know-what!

AAEA 2: Oh! The you-know-what. Gotcha!

Cut to KNIGHTS. They’re sitting on the ground, looking bored.

NF: So, what’s the response time on this publisher?

SS: Did anybody check Verla Kay?

SFX: Loud “twang.” Whooshing sound.

EI: Wait. I think I hear something!

Knights look up.

Cut to extreme close-up of falling package.

Cut to Knights, looking in fear.

KNIGHTS: Ah! Flee! Run away!

Knights run.

Package hits RR on the head.

RR: Like I didn’t see that one coming. (Falls over.)

SS: Neat! Who included the return postage?

NF: Seemed like a good idea.

RR (from ground, weakly): Oh yeah. Terrific.

EI: What’s in it? Revision notes? They want the manuscript?

HW: I’ll open it. (Takes package.)

RR (from ground): Don’t mind me. I’m all right. Really.

HW (opens package): It’s a rock.

SS: That’s what I’d call a solid rejection.

EI: But there’s a note.

NF (reading): “Thanks for the manuscript. We needed the fire starter. P.S. The chocolate was delicious.”

SS: Well, it’s very personable. Maybe they’d like to see something else?

RR (from ground): Mind if I move first? Like, to a bunker?

HW: We’ve got to get it past the associate assistants. Make the editor-in-chief want the book.

SS: I’ve got it! Listen up, here’s what we do...

Cut to battlements. AAEA and AAEA 2 look over in curiosity again.

Cut to forest. More cries: “Dang! The printer needs a new drum!”  “Geez, might as well buy a new printer!” “This is all tax deductible, right?”

Cut to close-up of new package. The knights carry it up near the castle, then place a big sign on it.

Cut to sign: New Original Manuscript By J.K. Rowling. Seriously.

The knights sneak off.

Cut to knights watching from bushes.

Cut to castle. A portion of the wall opens, and AAEA sneaks out, looking around for watchers. Seeing none, she picks up package and sign and sneaks back through opening. It closes.

SS: A secret passage! I knew it!

NF: Okay, now what?

SS: Oh, it’s simple. The big editor will want that one. He’ll read the letter, where we apologize for the Rowling bit, and he’ll be so impressed by our cleverness that he’ll read the manuscript, and...

HW: Wait. What letter was that?

SS: The cover letter.

HW: I didn’t write a cover letter. (to NF) Did you write a cover letter?

NF: Not me. (to EI) Did you?

EI: I’m an illustrator, remember? Art speaks for itself.

RR: Oh crap.

SFX: Loud “twang.” Falling noise.

KNIGHTS: Flee! Run away!

The knights run.

A package hits RR on the head.

RR: Why did I bother to get up? (Falls over.)

NF: My, that was fast.

SS: Ya know, I don’t think this is the right publisher for us.

RR (weakly, from the ground): What was your first clue?

HW: Well, we’ve been thoroughly rejected. What do we do now?

NF: Same thing we do after every rejection.

EI: Try to take over the world?

RR (from ground): Python, not Pinky!

NF: Attend another conference.

ALL: Right!

SS: Hey, there’s still some chocolate in this package. Anybody want a coconut creme?



A Knights of the Library Study Table Production.

This is a work of fiction. All characters in this production are entirely made up. Really. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No actual writers were harmed in the making of this film.

RR (voice over): Speak for yourself. Those packages hurt.

Fade to black.


SUBTITLE: What? Don’t start this again!


The tale is done, but the quest never ends.

--- Howard Shirley