Monday, June 27, 2011

The Time-Traveling Dead Girl Who Is Secretly a Princess

After reading this post on Openings to Avoid by Nathan Bransford and also this one by Kristen Nelson, I thought I'd take a stab at trying ALL OF THEM (in reality just "most" of them, because I couldn't bear to write a prologue), with some extra bad sauce thrown in. Just because I am bored, naughty, and all that.

Strangely enough, I sort of want to find out what happens to ol' Miranda after writing this fish-wrapper-worthy opening. Will she find the magic crystal? Why were all the dudes on horseback fighting each other? What cocktails do they serve in the land of the dead? Read on...


Miranda woke up by the side of the forest pool, yawned, and stretched. She’d had such a lovely dream—something about a castle by the sea, and a heavy crown being placed on her head. Foolishness! She was but a poor farm girl, not a princess or a queen. She resumed her task of gathering herbs, which she had been occupied with before succumbing to a brief nap.  
Miranda sought the herbs in the densest, darkest part of the forest, dropping the hensbane and gnarlyort into the braided basket that hung over her shoulder. It was the eve of her sixteenth birthday, and she had led a rather ordinary and boring life. Little did she know that everything she knew and loved was to change—irreparably and abruptly.
            Miranda glanced into the pool of water at her feet, around the edge of which grew the healing herbs that she used to make her tinctures and potions. She saw a lovely pale face framed by red tresses, her eyes green and large. Her mouth was as pert as a rosebud, but with a sultry little quirk to it that suggested mischief.
            A noise caught her attention. It was a party of elves, dwarves, and gnomes, trooping past on their way to the salt mines. Miranda smirked and shook her head at the little creatures as they scampered along, their green cloaks and jerkins blending with the colors of the forest.
            “Folderol and higgledypuff,” said one of the elves. “The legions in the west are massing, but the clouds are brewing in the east as well.”
            “Sure as shenanigans,” said a fat dwarf.
            “But what of her ladyship?” said the elf, his small pointed ears twitching. “There’s been talk of her being sighted on a white horse at the cliff’s edge, and I say it’s not poppycock!”
            “Blither and blast,” said a gnome. “Will ye stop talking when there’s work to be done?”
            “Ah,” said the elf, ominously. “When the magic crystal is found, then the work won’t matter so much anymore, will it? Only a young girl can find it, they say. A young girl with magical powers and whatnot.”
            Suddenly, there was a cracking sound. Miranda glanced up sharply to see a man on a white steed, gazing at her through the trees. He was joined by another, and another, until the forest was filled with men on white steeds. Miranda froze, hardly daring to breathe.
Suddenly, the steeds charged at each other, and the entire forest echoed with the sounds of clanging steel and the screams of dying men. The battle raged, with trebuchets rolling, horses dying with great gusts of blood bursting from their bellies, and explosions bursting in the trees. Men died by the cartload, their corpses piling up on the forest floor like wheat sheaves. Miranda screamed and ran hither and thither, finally crouching low next to the pool with her basket of herbs over her head.
Something exploded in the water and Miranda was sucked violently through the pool and into a bedchamber, where a handsome teenage stranger lay on a bed, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer briefs. A calendar on the wall read “Hot Guys and Baby Animals 2011.” 
            “Where am I?” muttered Miranda. The voyage through the portal had disarranged her garments, and she noticed with annoyance that her basket of herbs was gone—no doubt flung into another dimension.
            The handsome stranger raised his head. It was only then that she noticed his eyes were hollow and soulless.
            “Why, you’re in the land of the dead,” said the man, and smiled, revealing two very white and pointed canine teeth. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Do We Write?

"I'd rather be known as a writer than do the actual writing."--My friend Sam, a published author

"I hate writing. I love having written."—Dorothy Parker

I wonder: Is writing really all about the completion, the ensuing love? Why choose this path, when one could have been so many other things: a goat herder, an accountant, a nailer of nails, a carrier of rocks, a subway mime? Fame and satisfaction might be theirs, too, and a lot faster.

Yes, having it done and sealed up and your love assured is fine and good, but then—the hovering expectation when anything can still happen. That is better, perhaps. The moment when the world goes still and silent and the only things still moving are your hands, small and clumsy in the glare of the screen. (Or, if you've taken a proper typing course, capable and sure. I have not. I have already established that I am a fool, and type with a special blend of four swift fingers.)

Why take this path? Why, for example, did I rise at 4:00 am last Wednesday and wander to the computer screen to type a single line of text? It was a title for a story, nothing more. What mad and foolish pride would let me think that precious line too good to be lost?

My title contained a character's name. I worried that if I left him at the edge of sleep, he would wink out of existence. Perhaps it's something like wondering if I had turned left that day, instead of right, my children would never have been born. I woke in the morning and leaned over my saved document, like patting my pocket for a stone I found.

"Write it down, write it down, write it down," the voice says. It says it at the most inconvenient times:  when I am weighted down with bags and wedged in like a cow in the subway. I obey, even if it means the anger of lost sleep and a scrabbling after linty, sticky pens. Sometimes the pens are wrapped around with stray hairs and their nibs poke holes in my baggie of "emergency almonds"—my purse is a cruel wasteland. But it always contains a pen.

Do we write for adulation? Do we write to see our names on the wall? When I'm gone, there will be more than baggage and tag sale treasures to turn out of my house. I have saved the lives of characters. I have loved words. What else could I have done? I could, instead, step out into the wide world and be nothing, nothing at all. I could close this screen and step away, and I could be happy. I would go to the park. I would speak with people.

But no. We occasionally choose disaster and heartbreak. We invite joy. We want to live all the lives we could have had. We are greedy hoarders, revelers, egomaniacs, bearers of sadness, fools for long and fine moments when even the house seems to tremble and await what we'll bring. We wake in the night.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ARC of Ally Condie's CROSSED, Plus 5 More to Give Away!

I have fresh ARCs! I have acquired them through stealth and at great peril to life and limb. Despite the fact that I carried them over snowy mountain passes, past slavering wolfhounds, etc., I am giving them all away. Why? Because I did a bad, bad thing in a former life (when I was but a lowly beetle) and I am still trying to fix my karma. Your reading pleasure may prevent me from returning to my next life once again in the form of a beetle. My name is still bandied about in the beetle kingdom with much bad talk, and I am not keen to return.

Post a comment here if you want these titles (and feel free to mention a title that you particularly want). Make sure to include your Twitter handle or another way to contact you. I will randomly select one or two winners, and will send the books out. It's that easy!

You've got to be a follower of The Party Pony blog to qualify. Those who Tweet and share the word will get Super Bonus Points, and their names will be put in the random drawing more than once; other bribes are not accepted (even dirty martinis sent by parcel post). Make sure to alert me @feralpony so you can claim your bonus points, you greedy, greedy thing.

If you amuse me in the comments, your name may be placed in the Random Name Kitty 3x, or even 4x! Your odds will be better to win this book derby than that horsie with the wings!

Winners will be selected sometime on Wednesday morning (6/22) after the sun rises. Good luck! Fare thee well, my friends!

(P.S. If you win, it's nice to blog about the books you read and share the love!)

By Ally Condie (Nov 2011)

By Stasia Ward Kehoe (Oct 2011)

Fox & Phoenix
By Beth Bernobich (Oct 2011)

The Space Between
By Brenna Yovanoff (Nov 2011)

The Future of Us
By Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler (Nov 2011)

By Marie Lu (Nov 2011)

Friday, June 17, 2011


Binxie Durbin
Weichert, Realtors
Larchmont, NY
Dear Ms. Durbin,
"They haven't done a thing to keep it up."
"What a disgrace! No curb appeal."

"That old dump should have been razed back in the 1890s."
That's what the neighbors mutter about 42 Terrace Lane. But what they don't know is that the house hides a secret. Behind the crumbling plaster, musty shag carpets, and hideous 1970s wood paneling, 42 Terrace Lane is bursting with potential. Yes, she has crickets in the basement and a poltergeist in the wainscoting, but when a new owner sinks approximately half a million dollars into her, she's going to be gorgeous.
A little down on her luck, 42 Terrace Lane is determined to make something of herself. They won't dare call her a "filthy eyesore" anymore. This time, she's going to have shiny granite countertops, not Nu-Econo-Brik. This time, she's going to have a porch that doesn't sag, and a back deck with a brand-new Weber gas grill, and there are going to be really good dinner parties with fine china in her dining room, damn it. If she can just get there before a potential owner's spike heel punches through the rotting wood on the stairs, she's golden.

My Victorian dystopian for adults and several children, MY HOUSE, is complete at 2,467 square feet. It’s like a cross between THE JONES’S HOUSE, MO 'N' JACK'S SPORTS BAR, and FOLSOM PRISON. Please let me know if you care to see any portion of it; I'd be happy to provide access to the front porch or foyer. I am open to suggestions for revision, including tearing off the back half of the house so that a little sunlight might get into the damp corners of the living room.

MY HOUSE is my second dwelling; MY FIRST HOUSE was sold to a nice couple from New Rochelle in 2008. I have other works on the property, including MY GARAGE and MY ROTTING STORAGE SHED WHICH PROBABLY CONTAINS SOME ANIMAL FAECES, which may also interest you.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

8 Fabulous Father's Day Gifts for the Man Who Spawned You

This Sunday is Father’s Day! Looking for a great gift for Dad, Father, Pater, Pa, Daddy-Wiggums, or That Man Who Spawned 'n' Spurned Me? I’ve rounded up some top choices that will make Dad cry and beat you quicklike, before retiring to the "teeth optional" dive bar on the corner for the remainder of the evening.

At "I am a stuffed animal" you can order a stuffed version of your daddy! It's better than the taxidermized version, because it has no feet, only stumps. Daddy can snuggle it while he watches football, which he invariably does. Then daddy can molest it, which he invariably does. (Note how they captured the model's thuggish cruelty hidden beneath the friendly smile? And the fat eyebrows that sit on his brow like malignant caterpillars? That is artistry, baby!)

Many people who come and go? Shouldn't father sort of come and...stay? What's with the father who "goes"? Isn't he known as a shithead and a deadbeat dad? You'd do better to break this stupid faux wooden plaque over his goddamn head!

The World's Largest Gummy Bear! When daddy eats it his insides will gum up and he will start to have a crazyass acid trip and he will eat his socks and wind up curled in the corner like a small bean, weeping. Why are they all STARING AT ME? They glisten.

This T-shirt is actually pretty awesome. But if you give it to your dad, you will have to include the infant in the gift package or else he won't get the joke, think the shirt is too small, and beat the living fuck out of you.

Jerky of the Month Club, jerky jerkface daddy who never showed up for my ballet recitals! I hope your blood pressure shoots up to salty heights of meaty badness.

This Is What the World's Best Dad Looks Like. He has BOOBS. Awesome.

Damn, this daddy must be hot because he is spawning children faster than we can make amorphous pawprints from them! Are Jordan and Caleb the total black sheep of the family, or what? Did we run out of K names?! What about Kaleb and Kordon?

The little hearts on the base of this figurine do nothing to eliminate the fact that you have given your father an image of himself as a wild and predatory animal, sitting on the shitter. Is that how you see your father? When he is done manhandling his beer, laptop, football, cell phone, crown, paper, and woolly balls, he will take a switch to you.
You might also like: All The Beautiful Ways To Say I Love You

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Insects Are Going to Sit On Us

My husband heard on NPR the other day that there are 200 million insects for every human on the planet.

"Just suppose," says he, "That they all got wise, and that they decided to gang up on us. It would be 200 million to one!"

I thought about this, and said, "Yes, even 200 million butterflies would win against one frail human. They could all flap their wings in unison. What about 200 million blackflies or mosquitoes? What if they decided to fight us? They would win!"

"Who said anything about fighting?" said my husband. "All they'd have to do is sit on us."

You see now why I have an anxiety disorder.

I thought, "What a great idea for a new book!" so I wrote one immediately.

My new book THE INSECTS SAT ON US is a YA Paranormal Romance, in which our heroine Brittanee meets Jordan, a football player, but their romance is ruined when they are both sat upon by aphids, earwigs, and termites. It is complete at 32,345 words, which is as far as I got before I was sat upon by a cloud of moths, who ruined my typing skills. I am sending it to you, agent, who are now likely being sat upon by locusts and boll weevils. I don't expect a response, but if you should reach out to some editors you know before they, too, are sat upon by mites and beetles, this book may yet stop the plague which is now upon us.

THE INSECTS SAT ON US is like a cross between ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME MARGARET and THE BIBLE. And maybe with a bit of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE and TWILIGHT and some Kafka and Dante thrown into the mix. It would be best to accept this book because I think now that the insects have become my friends, and will sit on those who spurn me. They will sit with alacrity! They will sit with their antennae fierce and erect! Do not cross them.

Respectfully and now totally controlled by insects, who are cooking my supper and braiding my hair,
The Party Pony

Monday, June 6, 2011

Willful Blindness

A week or two ago I was riding home on the train from work, and I'd had enough of the sting of my contact lenses, which were burning my dry and computer-dazzled eyes. So I plucked them out and threw them on the floor. (The lenses, not my eyes, silly readers...although I would have delighted in shouting "Out, vile jelly!" and causing the commuters to make hideous typos on their Blackberrys.)

Without my lenses to guide me home, I might as well have been legally blind. I walked off the train in a sort of daze, moving along with the stream of commuters. Surely, I would have been left for dead in the days before corrective eyewear, always stumbling to catch up with my sure-footed tribe, glaring through a water droplet on the edge of a plucked blossom, shouting "Hey, fellas! I can't see you. Is that you, Og?" Eventually they would have tipped me into a watering hole or failed to mention an approaching mammoth.

So I walked home blind through the dappled leaves, my face open to the world because I could not construct a symmetrical response to whomever or whatever was looking at me. My expression was as bland and naked as my hands, and my hands swept through the air. The pink house on the side street, a blur, looked like that Cezanne painting we had to turn upside-down in art class so very long ago, to look for the shapes and contours only. "Forget what you are seeing, for an instant," said the art teacher. "That is not a house. Look for the spaces between the houses; look for the colors, and the light."

Something glimmered on the edge of the sidewalk: A lost credit card? A candy wrapper? Whatever it was I could not tell. It flickered blue and metallic, like a strange fish swimming away before me through the hotness of green and the light all falling down.

The world seemed softer when I was blind. It seemed to cradle me, and I was a small thing moving safe and warm through it. And I remembered that as a child—as a teen, really—I hadn't wanted to wear my glasses at all, and sometimes hid them in my coat pocket upon arrival at school. I would mark the colors my friends were wearing in the morning, and spot them that way throughout the day. Sometimes I would make a pinhole lens of flesh by curling my forefinger tight next to my thumb, and sight the world through that. (More often than not I would be felled in gym class by the rubbery thump of a dodgeball to the side of the head, and wish I were not so vain.)

Now, on this walk home through a suburban spring, I heard birds, whispers, my own breath. I saw human shapes, walking, a distance away. Someone was coming up behind me, swinging a bag. Did I know him or her? I turned and framed a quick smile so I would not insult. A stranger, the person may have smiled back; I'll never know. Did it matter? I could assume love from the universe.

Trees seemed to be lit from within by their blossoms; honeysuckle, red rhododendron, pink azalea (dying when viewed closely, but still alive to the half-blind). And the patches of light, dancing on the green trees. Shadows of trees on the sides of houses, houses as big as barns. I looked and was amazed. I saw nothing. I saw everything. The world cast its gaze on me as I stumbled home unseeing and alive.