Hosted by Padma Lakshmi, actress, model and cookbook author
Reality show featuring seventeen authors competing weekly in quick-write and elimination story challenges for a chance to showcase their storytelling skills, appear in a publisher booth at Book Expo America, win a complete Reference for Dummies library furnished by Barnes & Noble booksellers, and earn the title of TOP WRITER.
EPISODE #14: Semi-Finalist Elimination/The Romance
INT. MAJOR PUBLISHER'S PRODUCTION ROOM
Seated at the layout table are PADMA LAKSHMI and Special Guest Judges TOM COLICCHIO of Top Chef, NINA GARCIA of Project Runway, and DEIDRE DIKSHRINKER of Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene, RWA Chapter #666
PADMA: Now that we've sent the semi-finalists to get us coffee, pick up our dry cleaning, and wash our cars, what did you judges think of the stories they turned in?
NINA laughs; TOM shakes his head; DEIDRE folds her arms and begins praying under her breath.
PADMA: I thought only one of them really got this challenge.
TOM: They screwed it up. Three out of the four, in a semi-final. Just screwed it up. Unbelievable.
NINA: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the challenge was to write a romance story. To me romance means writing a romance, and I'm sorry, but you read what was turned in. Did you see any romance in the first three?
DEIDRE: I kept my eyes closed. If the Good Lord had intended for me to take in such things, he'd have put me on this earth as a septic tank.
TOM: Steve put out a classy presentation; I'll give him that. But when you're going to tell a romance story with horror, the horror element has to be soft and fluffy and delicious, not an ice-cold stiff.
NINA: Stephen gives us hip, beautifully-written stories, but every week it's the same elements in the same order: nonstop fear, crazy monsters, shredded victims, plunging plot lines, unfinished endings. (sighs) I would like to see the Stephen who writes westerns, historicals, even chicklit. But now I'm thinking . . .
TOM: He's a one-note.
NINA lifts her hands up and drops them in a helpless gesture.
PADMA: What did you think of Isabel's story?
TOM: No romance I could see, and the girl had green hair. Girls don't have green hair. If she'd dropped a blonde in a heavily-chlorinated pool, fine. But green hair for no reason -- didn't work for me.
NINA: Isabel's abstract way of telling stories has its own niche appeal, I suppose, but this one had no shape, no line, no . . . purpose to it.
DEIDRE: I'm an American. I don't read things by illegal immigrants who can't speak English. Live in MY country, get a green card, pay taxes and write in MY language.
PADMA: I'm sure the producers saw to it that Isabel has a valid work visa, and her story was translated from the original Spanish before it was turned in.
DEIDRE: That there makes it her translator's story, not hers. That's how I spell cheating in my book: I-S-A-B-E-L.
PADMA: What about Dean's story?
NINA: Again with the horror, and the dog, always the dog . . . (rolls eyes.) Perhaps the taste level isn't there.
DEIDRE: I liked that cute puppy in Dean's story. He didn't kill it. If he'd killed it, I'd have run him down and beaten him black and blue with my purse.
TOM: Too bad the only real romance in the story was between the dog and the hero.
PADMA: That leaves Alison.
NINA: Alison really impressed me this week.
TOM: She thought about the challenge.
NINA: Alison does think before she commits a word to paper, and it shows. Alison created a love story between two people. Now, granted, they fell in love while trying to keep spies from stealing secrets that would devastate National Security, but that only enhanced the romance for me.
PADMA: Alison took a chance and put herself out there while staying true to the challenge.
NINA: Subtle but stunning. Did you notice how cleverly she used the strand of pearls?
TOM (grinning): Loved the pearls.
DEIDRE: There was too much sex in it. And what she did with those pearls was capital-dee-scusting. It proved to me that Alison serves The Evil One. I burned my copy of her story and spent the night praying the Lord would wrestle her out of Beelzebub's embrace.
PADMA: We still have to decide who to eliminate before we go to the final booksigning challenge at BEA.
TOM: Tough choice. I don't know.
DEIDRE (standing): What's the matter with you people? These wanton, degrading writers have all been writing nothing but porn. All of them should go home, right this minute. Don't you go rewarding them for their filth. Surely y'all don't want Satan to triumph over the earth and publishing, do you?
NINA, TOM and PADMA exchange long looks.
PADMA: It's decided, then. They're all going to BEA.
PADMA (firmly): Deidre, pack your Bible and go.