Phreak Show Idiolect Glossary

The pulleys and gears in the gadget known as “SPELL-CHECK” kinked up and ground to a halt when encountering a number of colloquialisms and lexiconical creations in the novel Phreak Show. In many cases, the words are clearly part of the modern vernacular, yet they were summarily rejected. As a result, The Council of Indispensable Words has compiled this Phreak Show Idiolect Glossary

aethern. ever-present ionized vapor; materializes as a purple-green borealis similar to the Northern Lights; can be harnessed as a sustainable energy source; a select few, known as MAESTROS, can wield its power
aintv. [slang] is not; spoken by the uneducated, or by the educated for dramatic effect
amazeballsadj. [slang] amazing or phenomenal
b.o.n. [abbreviation] body odor
batshitadj. [origin unknown] ridiculously; unbelievably; often paired with “crazy”
bazillionairen. person possessing a ridiculous amount of wealth
blimpingv. swelling; quickly filling with air or matter
blippingn. this stupid, jacked up, empathy thing which totally effs up Tera’s life
blippon. mispronunciation of BLIPPING
boyband hairadj. longish-shortish, perfectly styled tresses
braniacn. extremely intelligent person; prone to using perspicacious words
butthurtadj. [condescending phrase] whiny or overly defensive response to a petty issue
carniesn. [derogatory] carnival performers and those of their ilk; stereotyped as uneducated, unscrupulous characters with more criminal convictions than teeth
clankyadj. emitting a sharp, rattling, mechanical sound
coochn. [slang] a lady’s nether regions; term used by cads and trollops
coozen. [derogatory] combination of “cootie” and “ooze”; a mean person, usually female
creepoadj. creepy; weird
crossgenderadj. expressing gender outside the binary terms of male and female
dollbabyn. [origin: older southern women] baby doll; may refer to child’s toy or a cute boy or girl resembling such a toy
dookiedv. doo-dooed
eekingv. squeezing out a painfully small amount at a time
effed, effin, effed-upadj. or v. [diet cusswords] non-vulgar forms of the base word “f%@#”
fatgirln. self-effacing term for an overweight girl
fatsuitn. a greasy covering of globs of fat and cellulite
fishbellyn. or adj. pale and tender skin; similar to the soft belly of a fish
flippinadj. [diet cussword] see: EFFIN
framingn. the correct term for BLIPPING; power wielded by a MAESTRO in which he or she manipulates the AETHER to both experience and physically manifest another person’s inner faults and fears
freakmeister – n. master of freaks
ghettomobilen. see: HOOPTY
gigv. [southern U.S. origin] give someone the finger; flip the bird; one finger salute
glowsticksn. plastic cylinders that contain two liquids that temporarily create light using chemiluminescence
hooptyn. automobile in an unattractive, depressing state of repair; identified by continual breakdowns, rust, a horrible half-done paintjob, patches of duct tape, etc.
hottien. a sexually attractive person
inkroomn. private room in a tattoo parlor designated for tattooing
janky, janked-upadj. messed up; out of whack; twisted
jerkholen. [diet cussword] a jerk; non-vulgar version of the word “a$$hole”
kajillionadj. a hell of a lot; an almost infinite number
lurvev. [slang] decidedly feminine way of expressing the word “love”
manipulatoryadj. controlling by artful, unfair, or insidious means
microcephalicn. or adj. neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a tiny head; microcephalics were sometimes sold to freak shows in the 19th and early 20th centuries, where they were known by the name “pinheads”
munchern. one who places his or her mouth upon an object in a munching fashion
muumuuedadj. dressed in a loose-fitting garment of floral-print polyester; rarely found outside the female, octogenarian population
nerdfightern. person who is proud to be nerdy and intelligent, and fights to increase awesome and decrease Worldsuck
nerdtimen. celebration of cerebrality
noonern. mid-day teaser performance of The Last American Phreak Show
normalsn. see: RUBES
nutjobn. [term of endearment] goofy, funny, silly, crazy person; [derogatory] psychopath
ooeyadj. viscid; sticky
orgasmicallyadv. happening in a pleasurable or rapturous manner
pecsn. pectoralis muscles; firm, sexy chest muscles on a male
pervn. short for “pervert”; person who drools over or treats another in an unwelcome, sexual manner
pervyadj. being a total PERV
phreakn. member of a troupe of teen misfits enslaved in a sideshow by their warped self-images; anyone who has left the realm of the RUBES by embracing his or her inner phreakiness
phreakazoidn. see: PHREAK
phreakiest, phreakified, phreakiness, phreakish, phreako, phreaky  – adj. of, resembling, or possessing the characteristics of a phreak
pippedv. spoke in a high-pitched, annoyingly squeaky voice
pissyadj. having the color, consistency, or smell of urine; a bad attitude
poofyadj. overly puffy
puppetmastern. controlling person gifted with the power of persuasion through either mundane or magical means
razoredv. sliced; cut open in a quick, excruciating manner
rubesn. outsiders; townies; those oblivious to the underlying mysteries and ways of the Phreak Show
sapiosexualn. a form of sexual orientation characterized by a strong attraction to intelligence in others, often regardless of gender and/or conventional attractiveness
scoochedv. slid or scooted
scroggedadj. messed up; jacked up; see: EFFED
sexyfiedadj. looking hot, desirable, and perhaps a little trampy
shammien. amazingly absorbent cotton cloth
showbilln. flyer announcing an act or performance. adj. font or script used to advertise plays, carnivals, circuses, etc
showmastern. leader of a performing troupe in a carnival, circus, or sideshow; MAESTRO
showmomn. mother who lives vicariously through her child by forcing him or her to extremes in public performance
shrimpyadj. tiny; miniscule
Skinbookn. low-brow name for the Versipilles
slenderfiedadj. skinny or thin
slickstern. person who uses slippery words and circular reasoning to convince others; see: used car salesman
snarkedv. spoke with sarcasm, bile, or bite
spazzedv. jerked, either physically or mentally,  in a spastic manner
squeedv. [past-tense] produced a high-pitched, exuberant squeal of excitement
steampunkn. subculture which explores the concept of retro-futurism; addresses what the past would look and be like if the future had happened sooner; often embraces a Victorian-era aesthetic meshed with modern technology
studlyadj. manly; possessing the characteristics of a virile male
swaggedadj. draped with cloth
tattooeen. the brave soul receiving permanent ink rammed into his or her dermis
taxidermiedadj. post-living creature whose pelt has been tanned, stuffed, and mounted
tendriledadj. resembling, or actually having, tendrils or tentacles
toadien. a bad guy’s lame sidekick; see: “A Christmas Story”
uncataloguedadj. absent from official records; see: THIS ENTIRE GLOSSARY
unibrown. one continuous eyebrow instead of two distinct ones; easily remedied by shaving or waxing
Versipillesn. an ancient book bound in human skin; contains arcane knowledge about alchemy, cosmology, science, botany, magic, and other esoteric topics
wangn. a gentleman’s nether regions; the fifth limb; term used by strumpets and scoundrels
weirdosn. misfits, phreaks, oddballs; individuals who are misunderstood and/or judged for their uniqueness
whackjobn. see: NUTJOB
wootingv. hootin’ and hollerin’
yadan. nothing of importance; usually spoken in repetition; similar to “blah”

 Wow, this took a shit-ton of work to create. But, in the end, I hope you find it useful as an interesting translation tool.

Compendium of Synopsis Writing Wisdom


I am not a synopsis guru, nor the son of one.
But a few agents in my god-tier require them.

So, I am posed with the choice:
A) Whine & lazily avoid composing a synopsis, thus eliminating any chance of representation by those amazing agents – OR –
B) Research, work hard, and enjoy the synopsis element of a process which will help me see my publishing goals realized.

Last night, I chose Option B. I whipped out a damn good synopsis in about two hours. The process went uber-smoothly compared to my attempts with previous novels, and I believe I know why. I may draw friendly fire for this next statement…

If you find it difficult to summarize your story in synopsis form,
your story may be inherently flawed.

Once again, I am no guru, but a synopsis is basically an outline of your novel in paragraph form. If that outline is not clear, if the quintessential arc is more of a wriggly squiggle, if the tension doesn’t mount until cresting at a point of inevitable release–then, perhaps, you have discovered the reason a synopsis seems insufferable.

Of course, none of us deals with issues such as those…

So, what to do if you’re positive your story is as strong as it can be, yet the synopsis is still kicking your ass? Well, quit whining and make it happen! Also, research. There are tons of how-to guides and advice articles to scoot you on your way. Congealing & gleaning highlights from a few of these, I will add my non-guru voice to the chorus.

Lucas’s Compendium of Synopsis Writing Wisdom

– First, there are no hard & fast rules, but a few guidelines can make synopsis creation easier.

– Before you dive in, keep the touchpoints of motivation, emotion, and conflict in the forefront of your mind.

– Write in third-person, present-tense.

– The standard synopsis length seems to be 1-2 pages. Squeeze it into 1 short page if possible.

– Use strong verbs and adjectives (not too many!) to effectively express the plot points in the fewest words possible.

– Hit these key points: Hook, Stakes, Intro of the MC, Inciting Incident, Midpoint Twist, Climax, Resolution. (Some sources suggest allotting a single paragraph to each of these elements.)

– Ensure your characters are presented with personality and come across as sympathetic.

– An economy of words is key. Only include the true essentials. Wisely select only the most necessary of subplots–if any.

– Yes, the synopsis should give away the ending.

– The writing shouldn’t be flowery, but shouldn’t bore the poor agent/editor to tears either. Strike a balance somewhere between a technical manual and a book report.

– Just as with a novel or query, revise, revise, revise.

– Run your synopsis by your betas & CPs. Ask them to point out clarity issues or extraneous info.

– Embrace the process. Dreading and whining will only make it harder.

– Keep your end goal in mind! Compared to drafting & revising an entire novel, creating the synopsis is a straight-up, cupcake endeavor.

I couldn’t see it before, but now I totally understand why some agents require a synopsis. By comparing the end result of my latest attempt with previous ones, I can clearly see the strengths in my current story. I didn’t stumble over defining the essential stakes, core conflicts, etc. These items rang out crystal clear. And, so, I draw the conclusion that this novel is far tighter than my previous ones, and contains the elements a great, marketable novel should.

But hey, what do I know? Like I said, I aint no guru.

Nevertheless, the creation of this synopsis didn’t hurt. Not even a tiny bit. Maybe my Compendium will help your process flow along as smooth as silk.

Synopsis-hungry god-tier agents, here I come.


What say ye? Do you avoid querying agents who require a synopsis? Does the mere thought of synopsis writing make you cringe? Have you found a structure which works for you? What tips would you pass on to fellow writers?

Pitch Madness vs The God Tier


Phreak Show is having it’s coming out party. Maybe.

Hot off the presses, it’s up for the grabby hands of the self-identified Slush Zombies over at #PitchMadness. If you’re oblivious, check it out here:

The announcements for the pitches which level-up to Round 2 won’t be made until 3/26. In the meantime, I’ll query an EXTREMELY small selection of god-tier agents. I’m doing a short-window-exclusive-of-sorts during this time. Then, should the need arise, I will step down to the next rung of the Echeladder. [If you get the god-tier & Echeladder references, I totally heart your face.] Also, there is this magical nexus where PM & the GT converge…

For more info on Phreak Show:

  • Check out it’s dedicated tab right here on the blog.
  • Like its Facebook Page:
  • Peruse its Pinterest Boards:
  • Peep in on the #PhreakShow hashtag.

Peeling Back Phreak Show’s Skin

Civer - Phrenology

Finally, Phreak Show is done!

Its creation veered off the usual path I take when writing a novel. Which, I kind of liked. I’m a creature of habit. Not OCD level, but I prefer clear plans, order, and steady movement towards the goals I set. I’m an outliner, a spreadsheet junkie, a list maker. I like to track things and see their progress over time.

All of those tools (and a few more) were involved in the making of Phreak Show, but the process didn’t move swiftly from A to B. Leave it to the phreaky story to be the one to shuck my norm.

Since I like to track things…Here’s a breakdown of the process I used this time around and how it strayed. For the hell of it (because such things make me happy) I’ll use a pair of symbols to denote which components are [N]ormal for my process, and which ones are a little [P]hreaky. And, yes, I’m busting out the bullet points.

  • [N] Idea – A line, a character, a conflict. I kick it around in my head. Weigh it for worthiness & flesh it out while showering, driving, falling to sleep. I may scribble down a few gems so I don’t forget them, but it’s mainly a mental process. For PS, it was the setting of a Sideshow with teenage freaks being enslaved by their own warped self-images, and having those personal fears manifested in physical form.
  • [P] Tagline -In the past, boiling the story down to a single line has been a hellish project which comes after the novel is complete. With PS, it punched me in the face very early in the process. Being a phreak isn’t about looks, it’s a frame of mind.
  • [P] Plotting – I go hard and detailed on this aspect. I don’t play. For PS, I used some elements as usual, but wielded them differently. I added some new steps. I use OneNote to organize ideas, settings, characters, specific lines. I drop in links and tidbits found during the research stage. This time, I didn’t copy & paste / type an official  outline in Word. I printed the OneNote pages, cut out the strips, and visually sorted and arranged them on my plotting wall. Also, I used 4-Part Story Structure as the framework. (<–This is a genius tool!) Everything fell into place like clockwork.
  • [P] Query Letter – I’m pretty good with them, I believe. But many, many wildly different versions are usually needed before I hone it down to the true, delectable meat of the story. Freeborn had at least 35 versions…With PS, I decided to write the query BEFORE drafting. Ummm, amazing way to do it. Reason: the basic concepts are vivid, but all the nitty-gritty goodness isn’t fleshed out yet. The process was streamlined because the writing jewels & subplots I’d be tempted to embellish the query with later, didn’t exist yet.
  • [P] Research – This is an [N], but it could have been a [P]. No, wait. I’m changing it. Definitely a [P]. I always research, but it’s usually 95% internet-based. This time involved a lot of that, of course, but it went to a deeper level. I read 2 non-fiction books on the history of the sideshow: Carny Folk: The World’s Weirdest Sideshow ActsFreak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit. I also read Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. I remembered the movie (1983) from when I was a kid. Some of the imagery is burned in my skull. So, I wanted to be careful not to gank any of it–to make sure my ideas were my own. Two movies also gave me some great background: Tod Browning’s cult classic “Freaks”  (1932) and a documentary “Sideshow: Alive on the Inside”.  All of this gave me a feel for the imagery, terminology & world. But, it also provided an added layer that became key to Phreak Show: the emotions & motivations of real-life sideshow performers in their heyday. Golden. Absolutely golden.
  • [P] Bonus Features – Phreak Show got pimped out in this department. There is the mandatory Facebook Page: With 9 dedicated Boards, Pinterest played a huge part in image collection this time: The one I’m most proud of contains a set of Victorian Cabinet Cards I created just for the characters: [I still owe Douggie his…]
  • [P] Drafting – Usually, this is hardcore, front-to-back, full-tilt, beginning-to-end with no pauses in between. PS came in 5 major spurts. I hammered out the first 2 pages so I could share them at an SCBWI conference. (Rave reviews!) Then I paused again, waiting for NaNoWriMo to begin. After NaNo, the hiatus between sections 2 & 3 was six weeks long. I can’t really explain the reason why that happened. I never lost the passion for the story, but simply needed it to chill, and rest, and mellow. Or something. Idk? This was a new one for me. Then, with the story so close to done I could taste it, I stopped short of the final two chapters. It was uber-important that I got them right. The first time. Those two chapters took about 10 days to draft, which is insanely slow for me. Alas, the outcome convinces me it was well worth slowing the pace and nailing the perfect ending.
  • [P] Revision – I always edit little bits and pieces as I go. You know, read back over the previous section to keep the continuity and voice. Because of the lulls in drafting, I edited each section piece-by-piece. That was part of the holding pattern at the end of Chapter 23. I completely revised the whole thing–looking for holes, resolving dangling things, building the tension, back-filling, cross-checking, characterization, removing ridiculousness–before drafting those final two chapters. I will make a few more passes to double-check everything and make sure, but any further changes are merely cosmetic, obsessive tweaking.

So there you have it. Probably waaay more details about my process than you ever cared to know. When I look at that list, I see all but one [P]. That tells me that my process changed drastically from Freeborn to Phreak Show. I predict that this will translate into a much different outcome for Phreak Show, as well.

I know that once a new novel is complete, we all think THIS IS THE ONE! And, perhaps, that’s where Phreak Show stands. But, if I’m honest with myself: I know better. Laugh if you like, but this is, I strongly believe, the one. Not only am I uber-organized, but I’m also an excellent student. I learned so much from my first two novels. All that ‘practice’, the successes & failures, the things I did correctly & the dumbass mistakes I made–I channeled the lessons learned & wisdom gained into the creation of Phreak Show.

The contentment I feel isn’t merely about having completed my third novel. It is about this one, finally, being worthy of signing my name to it. And, time will time, maybe even signing my name on a contract.

“If you judge them by appearance alone, you will miss the truth buried beneath their skin, behind their wet eyes. A truth which, if you dare search it out, lurks within your own heart. Being a phreak isn’t about looks. It’s a frame of mind.”

Scrubbing Bubbles

scrubbing bubbles

It’s winter. Here in Ohio, that means snow. Lately it’s been falling every other day. Not a blizzard mind you, but a shower here, a light snowfall there. And that means the towns  and the state crews continually spread salt and brine to keep the roads from turning into slippery deathtraps.

And that, in turn, makes the roads a slushy mess. The salty muck ensures the thoroughfares are passable, but the poor cars suffer for it. My sad, winter-worn Altima looks like it’s covered in soapscum. They ought to use Scrubbing Bubbles on the roadways. That way, the dry, white film of winter wouldn’t cling to my tires, quarter-panels, hood & especially my windshield.

The freezing, melting, scraping & cleaning of a season’s worth of snow and ice has destroyed my wipers. Now, combine that with the soapscum splashing up from the roads and off the semis as they pass. Add to that the fact that, more times than not, the little nozzles for my windshield washer fluid are frozen over. This makes for some rather obscured driving. Like an old lady with cloudy cataracts.

There was a rare day this week when the planets aligned. It didn’t snow. The roads were actually dry. [Can you believe it?] The washer fluid squirted. My mangled wipers somehow worked like a dream. I could see.

And during my morning commute, I marveled at the wonder of glass: that it is both clear and structural, that it is so thin & fragile but strong, and that someone figured out how to make it. In a pinch, I could build a shelter. I could cut down some trees and lash them together to construct myself a makeshift hovel. It would take some trial and error, but I could probably make bricks if I had to. I could definitely make paper. (Like we did back in 3rd grade.) I can create paintings on blank canvas & trick words into becoming a novel. But glass? I can’t make glass.

First of all, I’d need the technical knowledge. The interweb tells me I’d need a furnace,  a mixture composed of 75% silica (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from soda ash, lime (CaO), and other additives. After melting, homogenization and removing the bubbles, I’d have to form the glass using the ‘float glass’ process, or glassblowing, or pressing. Then I’d have to anneal it to remove the ‘stresses’.

Like I said, I can’t make glass.

But I can use it, admire it, marvel at the fact that someone else can. I can’t make a porcelain toilet or run plumbing, but I’m thankful that someone else can. I can’t engineer a circuit board or string together zeros and ones [10011010] to create a contraption which allows me to tap buttons which magically form letters on a screen. But I’m glad others have figured it out.

They work hard so I don’t have to.

I admit, I can go weeks without marveling at anything. The days tick by and I do my thing without ever feeling a moment of awe or wonder or appreciation. But, this week, on a rare, dry, clear-windshield day, I marveled at glass. It got me thinking about what I can’t–and what I can–do. I want to be the kind of person who makes things which others can not. I have the responsibility, the charge, and the honor, of creating something which only I can.

This is why I write.

And this is what I must remind myself when soapscum muddies the glass, when I not only fail to marvel at what others have created, but also when I fail to create marvelous things myself. And, since you’re reading this, let me challenge you to set the Scrubbing Bubbles loose in your own life. Right now. Clear away the crud and see yourself clearly. Allow yourself a moment to peel off the cataracts that have hindered you from seeing how amazing you are. No backtalk, no sassing. Just do it.

Can you see it? The awe-inspiring thing you’re supposed to do? Now hurry up and make it happen. Quick. Before the snow falls again, before the slag trucks muck up the streets and the windshield gets dirty.

Maybe, like me, you can’t make glass either. But that shouldn’t stop either of us from doing what we can do, and doing it well. We ought to be Scrubbing Bubbles.