Recently I did a Facebook live event to celebrate the release of City of Cinders. Included was a Mad Lib-styled contest where I asked readers to supply nouns, verbs, and miscellaneous body parts for three City of Cinders excerpts. Below are the winning submissions from Emilie M., (Name withheld), and Suzanne G. Thank you, ladies! (Words appearing in CAPITAL LETTERS) are those submitted by the readers.)
SCENE 1: “A FIGHT IN THE ARENA”
Barrel swung only seconds after Cindira stepped to her left, giving his TATTOO nothing but air to DEFENSTRATE. Her adversary fell to the ground in a harrumph, barely avoiding the bite of his own BATH BOMB.
“You MAGICIAN!” Barrel bellowed.
“You think the rules are different here?” she returned. “The supreme art of war is to LAUGH AT the enemy without SLAPPING. Was true when CHRIS HEMSWORTH said it thousands of years ago. It’s still true now, even in a virtual arena.”
In a flash, Barrel regained his TABLE. “Thanks for the philosophy lesson, let me give you one in anatomy.”
The swing came quicker this time, so much that Cindira found it difficult to SCREW. She needed a DOORKNOB. Cindira put up her **UNDISCLOSED BODY PART** as she sidled back, drawing him by instinct in her direction. “The fight seems GORGEOUS, given that I’m HIDEOUS.” Her back hit the arena wall.
“You had as much time to choose a weapon as I did.” He pulled back his MONOCLE. “Or maybe you don’t know the simple code it takes to weave together HYDRANGEAS, CATS, and MINNEAPOLIS. I can teach you – for a price. Hyuah!”
SCENE 2: “BATISTA AND KAYLIE FLIRT”
“Rumor is, most of those EARS are ones you inspire.” Batista traced a FEMUR over Kaylie’s bottom STOMACH. “You’re quite the trendsetter, aren’t you? But who is doing all the designs?”
“I’m afraid I don’t share that NOUN. If everyone knew who my FOREST RANGER was, she’d jack her BOOKSHELVES sky high and never have time for me.”
Batista leaned in, his lips inches from Kaylie’s. “Can I at least see what’s underneath?” He closed his THIGHS and leaned in as though he meant to kiss her. “Let me see CHICAGO?”
Though the two HONEY BADGERS remained unaware, everyone else in the room turned on Cindira as she slammed her FREEZER on the table next to the coffee pot. Hell. No. She’d be damned if anyone was going to take a HUMP at her Honey Badger. Not even Kaylie was allowed to see, not that she’d expressed any interest. Cindira hadn’t spent years fighting off SADISTS for some hot lips BAR WENCH to DRILL in and steal MOTHER TERESA.
SCENE 3: “SCOTIA TELLS CINDIRA TO GROW A BACKBONE”
Cindira couldn’t visualize a situation in which Johanna would ever fire her own daughter. “No, Kaylie will do well.”
Scotia shook her head. “You mean as long as she has you there to clean up her VIVACIOUS CAT.”
“Call her out,” the redhead continued.
“What, here? In front of THE BELLY-DANCING CLASS?” Cindira shook her EYEBROW. “Kaylie’s the celebrity ANKLE of Tybor. I’d be doing more damage to the company than helping myself. Besides, no one would RUN SCREAMING at me, and they’re not going to do anything that would cost them their jobs.”
“I wish you had more faith in people, starting with THE HEAD CHEF. I still can’t believe you can go into the arena like you did last night and kick serious APPLE TREES, but turn belly up for the Fifes. Next time you sit down to your station, code yourself a new BELLY BUTTON.”
“This isn’t the vreal world, Scotia.” Cindira’s HONORABLE voice only carried to her friend. “There, I can be whoever I want to be. Here, I’m just a plain, little TOWN CRIER.”
Scotia swallowed a frustrated laugh. “Just because you can’t code the walls here doesn’t mean you couldn’t knock them down if you tried. If you keep letting Kaylie take advantage of you, you’re going to make her TEACHER someday. You need to stand up for yourself. Doctor’s orders.”
“I’m not sure having a PhD in BASKET WEAVING qualifies you to…”