Coming Soon on Book-TV:
Iron Author America
Pilot Episode: Your Story Bites!
INT. AIRPORT HOWARD JOHNSON'S MINI-CONFERENCE ROOM
Host ALTON JOHN stands at a faux oak podium with a stenciled IRON AUTHOR AMERICA sign scotch-taped to the front.
ALTON JOHN (smirking): The wattage has certainly been cranked up here at Publishing Stadium. Always looking for a good deal he can claim on his tax return, the Chairman has rented reconditioned Gateway computers with outdated wireless internet connections, and he's been testing them out all day to get them to work in time for our very first author battle. He's also assembled a panel of notoriously fickle fiction fans, including first-time judge RWA Chapter President and nineteen-time Golden Heart particpant Miss Deidre Dikshrinker --
CUT TO FILTERED LENS FOR VIGNETTE OF DIKSHRINKER LATER IN THE SHOW
DEIDRE (flipping manuscript pages): Why, this hero is just as cute as a bug's ear. (looks at challenger) Honey, did you base him on someone you actually know? And is he a single Christian who has accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior?
CUT TO ALTON
ALTON (picking the fuzzpilling from the lapel of his tweed jacket) : So, lightweight equipment, sexually deprived judges, four heavyweight iron authors and an aspiring unpub waiting the wings. Should be a super superfluous struggle.
THE CHAIRMAN, a sleek Asian man in a dark suit with a Hello Kitty wireless mic clinging to his ear, walks in from the parking lot exit.
THE CHAIRMAN: The time has come to once again answer one of life's most unasked questions: Whose fiction should be an addiction? This is Iron Author America!
CUT TO POLAROID SLIDESHOW OF AUTHORS SIGNING BOOKS, EDITORS GIVING SPEECHES, AND THE WEINIE GUY AT THE LAST BEA
DISEMBODIED BORED FEMALE VOICE: Chapter three . . . two . . . one . . . writing time's up.
CUT TO ALTON
ALTON: A long-standing literary tradition has taken root here on American soil. We have been graced with a small but comfortable room here at the Airport Howard Johnsons, where you ladies should stop by the Tiki Bar behind Dennys for two for one Margarita Wednesdays, to create our very own Publishing Stadium. Our Chairman has brought together that the best of the best from around the publishing world would meet and face the ultimate writing challenge. Or he would have, if they didn't demand to be paid for it. So we scraped together a few bucks and offers some pins and fruit baskets, and comped rooms at Motel 6 across the street for who we could get. But hey, maybe next time Howard Johnsons will include a few gratuity suites, who knows!
CUT TO GRAPHIC OF PAPER BEING BALLED UP AND THROWN IN A SMALL MOTEL 6 TRASH CAN, THEN BACK TO ALTON
ALTON: The famed Amazon.com reviewer WrytersSuk once wrote The qualities of an exceptional author are akin to those of an unhappy ninth grade English teacher: an abiding passion for dotting i's and crossing t's, the manners never to push boundaries past the accepted standards, and an impeccable sense of grammar. Of course, only I have those abilities, which is why all published writers suck my [bleep]! These are all fine qualities to be sure, but if you're going to cut it here in Publishing Stadium, you'd better bring talent, taste, a darn good sense of timing, and a fair dose of butt-kissing to the party -- or, like the unhappy ninth grade English teacher, you'd going to be spending a lot of time sucking on shots of Jack Daniels instead. But hey, let's commence the real hostilities, shall we?
CUT TO REJECTION FORM LETTERS PILING UP IN AN EMPTY PAMPER'S BOX.
ALTON: So please allow me to introduce a pantheon of literary giants -- your very own iron authors, America. (gestures toward the four people sitting next to the complimentary soft drinks cart) Iron author Stephen Kong. Iron author Nicholas Sperks. Iron author John Gresham. Iron author Janet Whicheverwich. In mere moments, one iron author will be pitted against our challenger, who is dying to discover our secret story device, and enter the heat of battle here at Publishing Stadium.
CUT TO FILM OF SMALL, CHUBBY, UNATTRACTIVE WOMAN SITTING AT A CHEAP COMPUTER STATION IN THE CORNER OF A CROWDED LIVINGROOM. SHE IS TYPING WHILE DODGING BABY LEGO BLOCKS BEING THROWN AT HER HEAD BY A BORED TWO-YEAR-OLD IN A PLAYPEN NEXT TO THE COMPUTER STATION. IN THE BACKGROUND, A BALDING, MIDDLE-AGED MAN LAYS SLEEPING ON A SOFA IN FRONT OF A TV SET ON THE NASCAR CHANNEL.
ALTON: Our challenger is the wife of life insurance salesman Gary "Good Hands" Hack and mother of four kids ages ten to two. She began spontaneously writing novels at tender age of thirteen and for some reason no one stopped her. Today this self-taught writer has over twenty-five unpublished manuscripts filling the spare room closet and over two thousand form rejection letters. When she's not changing diapers, picking soggy Cheerios out of the carpeting or explaining long division wrong, she continues to write books and submit novel proposals to major publishers, the silly twit. The Chairman welcomes aspiring author Kellie Jean Hack.
CUT TO THE CHAIRMAN AND KELLIE JEAN
THE CHAIRMAN (bowing to Kellie Jean): Mrs. Hack. Welcome.
KELLIE JEAN (popping a Pepcid AC before bowing): Chairman, it's Gary's bowling night and I only have the sitter until nine p.m., so let's get things moving, okay?
THE CHAIRMAN: You are the mother of four young children, are unemployed, and haven't a prayer of getting attention from a major publisher. Do you really believe your determination despite the odds will give you an advantage in Publishing Stadium, or are you rightfully intimidated by the fiercesome combatants you face tonight?
KELLIE JEAN: Have any of your other combatants ever written twenty-five novels while making three nutritious and tasty meals for five people, all of whom hate whatever the other four like while listening to their mother tell them again how much she hates their spouse, folding two million loads of laundry, cleaning up the dog's latest mess wherever it landed, hand-washing whatever dry-clean-only thing the pee, puke or poop landed on, opening the latest rejection form letter and paying the bills, vaccumming, potty-training two kids at the same time while Dora the Explorer repeats or NASCAR plays endlessly in the background every single day for the last ten years, Chairman?
THE CHAIRMAN (paling): No, ma'am.
KELLIE JEAN: Right. (gives the iron authors a pitying look) I'm terrified.
THE CHAIRMAN: Very well, Mrs. Hack, which iron author will you challenge today?
KELLIE JEAN: Janet autographed a book for me once at the Borders over at the Retail Mega Mall, and didn't complain when the baby spit up all over her signing table, so I don't want to kick her ass. Sperks is a hero-killing jerk. And sorry, Mr. Gresham, but last time I got near a lawyer, his cologne made me break out in a rash. So I challenge that Stephen Kong fellow.
CUT TO KONG, WHO IS TRYING TO CRUSH A TAB CAN UNDER ONE LEG OF HIS CHAIR WHILE WHICHEVERWICH WATCHES. SPERKS AND GRESHAM GET UP AND HEAD FOR THE TIKI BAR. CUT BACK TO THE CHAIRMAN AND KELLIE JEAN
THE CHAIRMAN: Not the choice I'd make if I were an uneducated housewife from the burbs, but . . . let the writing begin!
CUT TO ALTON
ALTON JOHN: So the match is set, and our author Stephen Kong, self-acclaimed master of creepy fiction, is the choice. Now, Mrs. Hack brings a lot of her own experience in household horrors and tenacity to Publishing Stadium, so this should be quite an exciting battle indeed.
CUT TO KELLIE JEAN AND THE CHAIRMAN, WHO WALK UP TO A LARGE CARDBOARD REFRIGERATOR BOX SITTING NEXT TO KONG'S TABLE. SOMEONE HAS DRAWN A LARGE X ON THE BOX WITH A GREEN SHARPIE.
THE CHAIRMAN: But there is one more addition to this battle. Our secret story device. The theme upon which our authors will offer their five personal story variations. Today's secret story device is . . .
THE CHAIRMAN PUSHES OVER THE BOX, REVEALING THREE BORED, TEENAGE BOYS WITH CLOWN WHITE SMEARED ON THEIR CHEEKS, CHINS AND FOREHEADS. All THREE ARE DRESSED IN OLD, TOO-SMALL HALLOWEEN COSTUMES. ONE TAKES FAKE PLASTIC FANGS OUT OF HIS MOUTH AND WIPES THE SPIT OFF THEM WITH A CORNER OF HIS BLACK ACETATE CAPE.
THE CHAIRMAN: . . . Vampires!
KONG (his head popping up): What? Women can't write vampire fiction, Women can't write, for that matter. It's all in my book, On Me. Anyway, I already did the best vampire story that will ever be written.
KELLIE JEAN: Does this mean I win by default? And do I still get the case of Office Depot generic printer paper and the year's subscription to UKinRite.com?
THE CHAIRMAN: (to Kellie Jean) No, he's going to battle, aren't you, Stephen?
ALTON: (whispering) No battle, no complimentary half-hour bar tab.
KONG (hands Tab can to Janet, who uses one hand to crush it against her forehead): All right, I guess. Sheesh.
CUT TO ALTON
ALTON (yawning): Oh, excuse me -- all this tension is wearing me out, and we haven't even started! After the break, Iron Author America continues with Your Story Bites -- Kong vs. Hack. Who will write the most delectable vampire stories? Tune in and find out . . .