Though I rarely take part in all the fun, cash-strapped as I am, I kind of dig Black Friday. The idea of retailers throughout the country holding a joint super sale to end all super sales on a single day is kind of awesome, and when you extend that concept to a tech-only version the following week on Cyber Monday, well . . . What’s not to like?
(Except for the crowds . . .
. . . the traffic . . .
. . . and the gunfire on Aisle 9, that is.)
But neither Black Friday nor Cyber Monday is the super sale I’d really like to see. The one-day discount extravaganza of my dreams would involve merchandise only we writers care about. Things that we wish existed, but don’t. I’d call this day immediately following Cyber Monday “Murderati Tuesday” (what else?), and the price-slashed goods would look pretty much like this:
A BIG-SCREEN TV THAT ONLY WORKS WHEN YOU DO
This set connects to your laptop or desktop computer via USB cable and monitors your daily progress toward the deadline and word count you’ve committed yourself to meeting. Once your deadline passes, if you haven’t delivered a complete manuscript, the set can be programmed to either shut down completely or only tune in to over-the-air stations showing old Bosom Buddy reruns. Want to watch the Super Bowl on something other than your smart phone? Better get your ass in gear and finish that damn novel.
A GPS DEVICE THAT CAN TRACK THE WHEREABOUTS OF BOOK CONVENTION UNDESIRABLES
You know the kind of undesirables I mean. You see the poor devils wandering the hallways of the convention hotel every year, and usually too late to avoid being cornered by one of them. They wear quadruple-X-sized T-shirts and unisex khakis, and drag three fully-loaded canvas book bags behind them like balls-and-chain. (Bags which, in total defiance of the odds, never manage to contain a single title of yours.) They tell incredibly unfunny stories and rave about authors you wouldn’t pay to write a squirrel’s obituary. This handheld device alerts you the minute one of these geeks steps within fifty yards of your present location, and it comes with a panic button that will sound an ear-splitting alarm should you fail to heed its warning and blunder into the men’s room where, say, good ol’ Bob Fussblott of Dunwoody, Illinois, is waiting for you.
Sold in packages of 25, these rubberized mannequins can be used to populate the audience of an otherwise scorched-Earth-desolate, mall store book signing you don’t know why you ever scheduled in the first place. Why read to yet another host of empty chairs when you can read to over two-dozen, somewhat human-looking blow-up dolls that have been specifically designed to appear as if they’re hanging on your every word? They can’t ask questions or buy a book to be signed afterward, but then, none of them will fall asleep on you, either.
AN E-READER THAT TRIMS THE FAT
The Zook e-reader does what few professional editors have the guts to do anymore: It cuts all the unnecessary crap out of the books you download to it. Never again will you have to suffer through 131 pages of drivel wholly unrelated to the story at hand. The Zook scans e-book text for excess prose and sends it straight to the trash where it belongs. The reader features four specific settings that allow you to fine-tune its editing functions to meet your reading needs: Verbosity, Digression, Literary Grandstanding and Filler Only Included at the Eleventh Hour to Meet the Author’s Contractual Word-Count Obligations.
HEADGEAR FOR THE CLICHE-IMPAIRED
Writing while wearing the ClicheBuster headset won’t make you a New York Times bestselling author overnight, but it will discourage you from filling your work with the trite and overwrought. This brainwave interface device fits snugly over your dome to read your every thought, and the minute a cliche of any kind enters your mind, you’re treated to an electrical shock guaranteed to make you think twice. Good cop, bad cop? Zap! “But all was not what it seemed”? Zot! The spunky female heroine dating the handsome homicide detective while sharing barbs with her feisty, irascible mother? Zow! (Note: The intensity of the jolt you receive corresponds to the degree of unoriginality the cliche being considered indicates, so first-time authors are warned to use the device only under the direct supervision of a professional writers’ camp counselor.)
A PROCASTINATION-PROOF OFFICE CHAIR
Ever wish your writing chair was as ruthless a taskmaster as your agent? Well, now it can be if your chair is the beautiful, ergonomic restraint device shown here. Sit down, strap yourself into the locking three-point harness and start writing, because you won’t be getting up until your agent calls or emails you with the lock’s combination, which changes daily. Want to go to the window and blow a good hour watching that crazy neighbor of yours try to trim his shrubs with a weed whacker? Forget about it! Thinking about running downstairs to catch the last forty minutes of The View? Not a chance! Need a potty break? Well . . . better hope your agent liked the last 30 pages you delivered. Otherwise . . .