The Story Behind Eggplant Emoji

Eggplant Emoji is a new anthology series, which features the finest comedic fiction from some of the funniest authors. The first volume in the series is available in paperback and Ebook now!

The origins of Eggplant Emoji can be traced back to 2019, affectionately dubbed, “Year of the Raw Dog,” by core members of the Bucks County Writers Group. At the time, I had been attending the writing group for two years, submitting chapters of my urban fantasy novel for review, which admittedly I was struggling with. I needed to take my mind off of it and focus on something else. Thus, in March 2019, I wrote a 22-page short story, “The Cockroach,” about a man whose girlfriend befriends a cockroach and he secretly kills it, but it keeps coming back, to the point that it fucks with his libido.

In an attempt to escape the serious tone I was developing in my novel, my goal was to write a story that was Looney Tunes but for adults; it’s essentially Bugs Bunny fucking with the opera singer, except instead of a rabbit, it’s a cockroach that puts the “cock” in “cockroach.” The end result is a comedy of embarrassment and toxic masculinity, watching the sanity of this man wither as a cockroach raw-dogs his girlfriend (hence, Year of the Raw Dog(what a year)).

Reason #1456 to join a writers group, is as follows. The comedic tone of “The Cockroach” became infectious; more members of the group wrote their own comedy pieces and even more comedy writers joined the group. By the time I decided to create Eggplant Emoji and make the call for submissions, I knew the Bucks County Writers Group would be more than capable of providing all the hilarious content I needed.

What really pushed me to that point was when I was trying to get “The Cockroach” published in a literary journal or magazine. It quickly dawned on me that very few (if any) publications focused on comedy geared toward an adult audience. I received rejection letter after rejection letter, many of them noting the potential of the work; but alas, when writers and editors start taking themselves too seriously, they tend to shy away from a story featuring a cockroach with an uncut cock.

The story is shocking, outrageous, surreal, sexual, and undoubtedly hilarious – and yet there are so few contemporaries. R-rated comedies make popular movies and shows, so why not have R-rated comedy in literature? I was shocked that no one had already created a publication for such work. Search ‘comedy anthology book’ into Google and like 2 books come up, both with terrible cover art; sorry Andy Borowitz, but there’s no comparison here.

Not only did I feel confident that the content was very high quality and that there was a market for it, I knew it was possible because of the brave authors around me publishing their work. Author Augusta Blythe attended the Bucks County Writers Group for a period of time and showed us how it was possible to self-publish for a living on Amazon. Fierce leader of the group, Adam Newton, created Creaky Stairs: A Book of Dark Truths, leading by example and allowing emerging authors to have their stories published. Dandelion Revolution Press (DRP) blossomed soon after, from members of the writers group who had their own vision for an anthology of fiction featuring strong female leads. From all of these different authors and publications, I found my footing and confidence as a publisher. On April 12, 2021, I made the call for submissions for stories that would stand alongside “The Cockroach” in an anthology of comedic fiction, and Eggplant Emoji was born.

I followed what I learned from DRP, in terms of advertising the call for submissions on social media, and after the two-and-a-half month submission period, I had a total of 39 short stories to review. Matthew Pale attended the Bucks County Writing Group for the first time the day before the submission deadline and he had a story ready to submit, which made it into the anthology – quite a serendipitous timing of events.

In the end, I boiled 39 stories down to 12 stories from 10 authors. Every author in Volume 1 of Eggplant Emoji is a member of the Bucks County Writers Group – which I’d like to claim is just coincidence, but truly I cannot. It’s not that I had preferential treatment when reviewing pieces (I tried to read as blind as possible), but the writers in the group have read “The Cockroach” and my other work, they know my sense of humor, they understand the outrageous level of comedy I’m aspiring for; so they had an advantage. When the call for submissions happens for Volume 2, I think more people outside the group will have a better understanding of what this publication is and what I’m looking for.

Making it into Eggplant Emoji Volume 1 is Marv Jackson, who may or may not be a clone of the BCW group leader. As well as Will McCreavy, who is one of just a few authors who chose not to use a fake name. I’ve known Heather Twerking since I was a babe, she never stops twerking. Florence Eden is a DRP literary goddess in disguise. Jack McBiggs doesn’t want the first result in a Google search of his real name to be about impotence, since it’s already the second and third result. Jack McBiggs should also be his porn name. Unstoppable Buffalo is quite metaphorically stampeding into first place for most ridiculous name and most absurdly outrageous humor. Prudence Paganini is female in real life and she wanted her author name to be ‘Peter Paganini,’ but I was like, “I don’t want it to be a sausage fest,” so she changed her name. What a team player. Prudence is a better name anyway.

And last, but not least, is Scarlet Wyvern, who writes dark, witty horror poetry, her book, Massacre My Heart, is available on Amazon. She stepped outside of her typical genre with Eggplant Emoji and yet stayed true to her roots, flipping the script on the usual horror tropes.

From the beginning, an eye-catching cover was an integral aspect of Eggplant Emoji. Like Mad Magazine, the cover had to be as culturally and comedically striking as the content within. I began making designs, the whole time resigned to the idea that I would have to contract the work out. I’m not a total noob to photoshop, so I searched images for inspiration, devised a color palette, and started making test images; so many of my Eggplant files have the word “test” in the name (the manuscript was called “manuscript test” for the longest time). It was in talking to the writers in the group, showing them what I had, relaying what I wanted, that the idea struck me: to see the shocked reflection of the person holding the eggplant in the eggplant.

From there, it was just time put in; with my pen and drawing tablet, I toiled away for hours. The whole time I knew I could contract the work out, but wanted to give it my best try first.

Around the time that I began painting the eggplant, my cat got very sick. He had gotten ill a year earlier, but got through it, this time I could tell it was worse. His name was Gricy (pronounced Greasy), he would have been 20 years old in January 2022. My sister named him, she was taking Spanish and gric is grey in Spanish, so essentially his name translates to Grey-y. I made the tough decision to end Gricy’s suffering and I buried him near blueberry bushes in my yard, topped with a big piece of limestone.

I poured all of my grief into this anthology, that sounds weird for a comedy anthology, but it’s true. Instead of burying myself under the covers, I buried myself in photoshop, losing myself in the meticulous physical details of something I could control. As I worked through my emotions, I worked out the lines on the hand holding the eggplant. When I was crying one minute and then laughing at the stories in the book a minute later, I knew I was on the right track. Laughter is medicine and the world needs more of it.

In the more-than-a-month it took to create the full cover, I emerged from my grief stronger than I was, though I still miss Gricy every day. My heart and soul are on and within the pages of this book.

Eggplant Emoji was created for the sole purpose of making people laugh. I hope that it brightens up others in their darkest days, as it has for me, and elevates all those who open its pages. Life is sad, we don’t have to be reading sad books all the time. Publishers seem to only take it seriously if it’s serious.

Does it make you laugh? That’s Eggplant Emoji.

There are a couple opportunities to meet the authors:

Eggplant Emoji Vol. 1 Release Party, Sunday, October 24, 4-7pm @ Hop/Scotch (22 S. Main St., Doylestown, PA)

Eggplant Emoji Vol. 1 Author Reading, Thursday, November 4, 6-8pm @ Great Barn Taphouse (1500 N. Main St., Warrington, PA)

Purchase Eggplant Emoji Volume 1 here.

“My Cat Is Depressed,” And 99 Other Reasons I Didn’t Write A Blog Post Today

I’m writing a novel, I’m writing a blog, I have a life, and I like to keep up to date with books, movies and music.  I’m only one person and I only have 24 hours in a day, so I’ve been delegating editing work to my cat.  I know what you’re going to say, “Jim, just hire a human editor to proof-read your work.”  I’m sorry I can’t afford that right now.  Everything I write has to go by my cat before it gets published.  Subsequently, my cat is depressed and is feeling extra lethargic.  He’s still working through what I wrote for him two days ago and his mood is not picking up.  As you can imagine, with my editor D.I.A. (depressed in action), it’s impossible to get any work done which is why I haven’t written a blog post in the last few days.

I’m going to the store later tonight to buy some catnip in hopes that will brighten his mood and get him back on track so that I can finish a blog post in (hopefully) the next day or two.  But, of course, I don’t want my cat to be reliant on elicit substances in order to function.  So I’ll just start by micro-dosing the catnip – not me of course, my cat.  I mean, why would I micro-dose catnip, that would be pointless, I’m a human.  It’s that kind of thinking that makes me need a cat-editor in the first place.

Look at me.  My cat doesn’t edit a single post and the entire blog falls to shit.  I can’t even write one blog post without my cat fixing my blunders and making sense of it.  I guess I’ll never be a real writer.  Not until my cat is feeling better, that is.  Now you know the truth of how my sad little sausage is made.  I write barely-comprehendible garbage and my cat edits it down to something easily digestible, unlike whatever he’s currently throwing up on my rug.

So, I apologize for this blog post, hopefully my cat is feeling better soon and gets back to editing my long-winded dribble, so that I can return to publishing quality blog posts regularly.

“Home Movies” Spec Script – “To Write Or Not To Write?” – Scene 2

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EXT. SOCCER FIELD – DAY

Brendon walks up to the bench where Coach McGuirk is sitting.

COACH MCGUIRK

Brendon, I’m glad you’re here.  Listen, buddy, I need your help on something – and you know what, all your little friends can help out, too.

BRENDON

You’re not going to make us put lotion on your varicose veins again, are you?

COACH MCGUIRK

No, Brendon, this is serious.  I have a girlfriend now.  I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life and it’s killing me inside, because soon Clara’s going to figure out that I’m not a real writer.

BRENDON

But didn’t you write that submission to the writer’s group?

COACH MCGUIRK

I did, Brendon, and it wore me out.  I’m like that chick who toured with The Rolling Stones and then afterward, her voice didn’t work anymore.  I’m spent, Brendon.  I’m a fraud.

BRENDON

So what do you want me to do?

COACH MCGUIRK

You’re a creative.  Your brain is still young and ambitious with the imagination that only comes from being really small; like the smile of a child, or something.

BRENDON

Coach, what are you talking about?

COACH MCGUIRK

You see? I can’t even form sentences anymore, my brain is cooked.  I need you to finish my novel, so I can submit it to the writer’s group, so Clara won’t dump me.

BRENDON

No, I don’t care if Clara dumps you.

COACH MCGUIRK

Please, Brendon, I hate writing so much.  I can’t do it anymore.

BRENDON

I hate writing even more.  Just ask Mr. Lynch how I do in English.

COACH MCGUIRK

I don’t need to talk to that guy.  I’ve seen your movie collection, Brendon.  You write scripts all the time.  You’ve written more in your short life than I’ve ever written in mine.

BRENDON

I’m in the fourth grade.

COACH MCGUIRK

I’m going to tell you something you might not know about me, Brendon.  I dropped out of school in fourth grade, so my writing level is probably on par with yours.  You could just finish where I left off and no one will know the difference.

BRENDON

Why did you drop out of school?

COACH MCGUIRK

My father was an alcoholic and couldn’t hold down a job.  He was abusive and made me drop out to work in a textiles factory.

BRENDON

In the fourth grade?

COACH MCGUIRK

Luckily, I’ve always been freakishly large, so no one knew I was only thirteen.

BRENDON

You were thirteen in fourth grade?

COACH MCGUIRK

Cut me some slack, Brendon, I need your help on this.  I have the spirit and testosterone of James Bond, in the body of Jabba the Hutt, with the intellect of a fourth grader.  Have the pity on me my father never had.

BRENDON

I really don’t want to.  I already have too much homework.

COACH MCGUIRK

I’ll pay you.

BRENDON

How much?

COACH MCGUIRK

I have a whole stack of 20%-off coupons to Bogurt’s Frozen Yogurt.  That’s all I can afford right now.

BRENDON

I hate frozen yogurt.  It’s like, hey, yogurt, have you ever heard of ice cream?  It’s only better in every way.

COACH MCGUIRK

Fine, twenty dollars.

BRENDON

Sold!  But I’m not splitting it with Jason and Melissa.  You’ll have to bribe them separately.

COACH MCGUIRK

I’m already regretting this.

FADE TO BLACK.

Continue to: “To Write Or Not To Write?” – Scene 3

“Home Movies” Spec Script – “Moby McGuirk” – Scene 6

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(Original picture source: Adult Swim)

INT. MEETING ROOM – NIGHT

Coach McGuirk opens the door and walks in.  Three other men sit at the table in the room.

COACH MCGUIRK

Is this the writer’s group?

DEVIN

Yup, this is the Super Fun Writer’s Club!

COACH MCGUIRK

That’s what you call it?

DEVIN

What’s wrong with the name?

COACH MCGUIRK

Well, writing isn’t fun or super, so everything.  What about The Honey Pot-tential Authors?  That’s more relevant, huh?

DEVIN

What are you talking about?

COACH MCGUIRK

I guess you wouldn’t get it.  Hey, I was expecting a female to be here, her name is Clara.

DEVIN

Clara isn’t here yet, but I’m Devin, and this is Greg and Mark.  And you are?

COACH MCGUIRK

I’m John McGuirk.

GREG

John McGuirk?  So you named the main character after yourself, huh?

Greg and Mark laugh.  Coach McGuirk sits down.

COACH MCGUIRK

Um.

DEVIN

Alright guys, we haven’t started the review yet.  First, some ground rules.  Rule number one, you’re not allowed to speak while the group reviews you.  Rule number two is have fun.

COACH MCGUIRK

Oh Jesus Christ.

DEVIN

And I’m a stickler for the rules, John.  So, let’s get started on your piece.  Greg, what did you think of John’s piece titled, Moby McGuirk?

GREG

I just have a question real quick.  Were you aiming for a crappier version of Moby Dick or is that just what you landed on?

COACH MCGUIRK

What kind of question is that?

GREG

Look, I just mean-

COACH MCGUIRK

You’re lucky Clara isn’t here yet, buddy.  If you talk to me like that when she’s here-

DEVIN

John, you can’t speak.

COACH MCGUIRK

I will follow you to your car, stalk you home, watch you for a few days or a week, until I figure out what you love most, by the looks of you, probably a cat.

GREG

Mr. Pickles.

DEVIN

John, I just want to remind you that you can’t speak during the review.

COACH MCGUIRK

He asked me a question.  So, yeah, don’t make me finish that sentence when — Clara you’re here!

Clara walks into the room and sits down.

CLARA

Sorry I’m late.  I’m so glad you could make it, John.

GREG

So glad.  We were just reviewing his novel.

COACH MCGUIRK

Let’s hear what the lady has to say, okay buddy, you had your chance.

DEVIN

John, remember, you can’t speak.

COACH MCGUIRK

I got it.

CLARA

Well at first, when I was reading it, I was confused.

GREG

See, that’s what I’m saying.

CLARA

But then I realized the genius behind it, how all great artists steal, and you have weaved the artists in your life into a beautiful mesh of raw passion.

Coach McGuirk and Clara move closer to each other.

COACH MCGUIRK

What else do you like about it, baby?

DEVIN

John, I want to remind you that-

COACH MCGUIRK

I heard you!  Can it already!

CLARA

When Double Agent John McGuirk erupts out of the marshmallow volcano, my breath was taken.

COACH MCGUIRK

I knew you’d like that.

CLARA

And I realized that whoever wrote this manuscript should be the father of my children.

GREG

Come again?

COACH MCGUIRK

Did you?

CLARA

And again.

COACH MCGUIRK

Kiss me.

Coach McGuirk and Clara start making out.

DEVIN

John, I just want to remind you that you’re not allowed to talk.

Coach McGuirk and Clara ignore him and keep making out.

DEVIN

John?  Clara?  Well what did everyone else think?

GREG

I honestly thought it was written by a fourth grader.

FADE TO BLACK.

CREDITS.

Continue to Episode 2: “To Write Or Not To Write?” – Scene 1

“Home Movies” Spec Script – “Moby McGuirk” – Scene 4

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(Original picture source: Adult Swim)

EXT. SOCCER FIELD – DAY

Brendon walks to the bench.  Coach McGuirk is sitting on the bench, resting his laptop on a soccer ball.  He is still writing.  He clearly hasn’t slept.

BRENDON

Coach?

COACH MCGUIRK

For art thou – what Brendon?!  Don’t interrupt me!

BRENDON

What are you doing?

COACH MCGUIRK

What does it look like?  I’m writing!  Never interrupt a writer, Brendon.

BRENDON

Why?

COACH MCGUIRK

What?  Do you just walk up to a firefighter and say, ‘hey, why are you putting out that burning building?’

BRENDON

No.

COACH MCGUIRK

That’s right, no.  They stop to answer your little feeble-minded question, and in the mean time, people burn alive.  You want that on your hands?

BRENDON

No.

COACH MCGUIRK

Well, the burning building is my mind, Brendon.  Every second you waste yakking, it gets hotter and hotter.

BRENDON

What happened to marinating those idea pearls?

COACH MCGUIRK

Oh, get off your high horse, Brendon.  It’s not a good look for you.

BRENDON

Where does that cable go?

Brendon points to the extension cord attached to McGuirk’s laptop, which extends out of frame.

COACH MCGUIRK

Don’t worry about it and don’t bug me, I have three hours hours to finish this chapter.  Do you have any idea how long it takes to write?  I’ve been at it for fifteen hours and I’m barely at four and a half pages.

Brendon looks over Coach McGuirk’s shoulder.

BRENDON

Are you copying Moby Dick?

COACH MCGUIRK

Not anymore.  The book was just a jumping point, but I’ve reached a new plane and the ideas are excreting out of me faster than ever.

BRENDON

Reading is hard, too, huh?

COACH MCGUIRK

I couldn’t stomach another word of that garbage.

Coach McGuirk throws the book as hard as he can over the bleachers.

MELISSA

Ow!

Melissa walks into frame carrying the book.

MELISSA

Who threw this?  Was it you Brendon?

BRENDON

No, it wasn’t me, it was, uh, the wind.  Blew it right over there.

MELISSA

It’s not even windy, Brendon.

BRENDON

Oh, it was, just a moment ago.

MELISSA

Well now I don’t remember because I was just hit in the head by Moby Dick.

Melissa trips on the extension cord and falls down.

MELISSA

Ow!  What the?

Melissa stands up.

MELISSA

Coach this wire is a safety hazard.

COACH MCGUIRK

No it’s not.

MELISSA

Yes it is, I just tripped on it, it’s a hazard of safety.

COACH MCGUIRK

Well now you know it’s there and you won’t trip again.

MELISSA

No!  First I get hit with a Dick!

COACH MCGUIRK

Could you change the wording, please?

MELISSA

Then I trip on your computer wire.  This isn’t okay, I’m about to call Mr. Lynch over here.  Mr. Lynch!

COACH MCGUIRK

Okay, okay, Melissa.  Technically, I’m not allowed to have my laptop on the field.  But technically, girls aren’t allowed to play on the soccer team and I allow you to play any way.

MELISSA

Is that true?

COACH MCGUIRK

No.  But if it were, wouldn’t you appreciate me for that?

MELISSA

Yeah.

COACH MCGUIRK

Well there you go.  And technically, I threw the book that hit you in the head.  Hehe.

MELISSA

What?  Brendon you knew about this?  And you lied to me?

BRENDON

What?  No?

MELISSA

Why would you lie about something so trivial?

BRENDON

No I didn’t lie!  It was simply a misjudgment.  I had my back turned and I didn’t see it.  I really did think it was the wind.

MELISSA

Well you’d have to be pretty stupid to think that, it’s a really heavy book.

BRENDON

Okay, Melissa, I admit I am very stupid.

MELISSA

Well that’s true.  Okay I have to go.

Melissa exits frame.

COACH MCGUIRK

Wow, Brendon that was incredible.

BRENDON

What was?

COACH MCGUIRK

A female catches you in a lie and you dodge claiming stupidity.  Haha.  To think, fifty years of lying to women and I’m still learning new tricks.

BRENDON

So what are you writing about?

COACH MCGUIRK

James Bond, well it started out like Moby Dick, but Double Agent John McGuirk is way too cool to be stuck on some whaling boat sausage fest.

FADE TO BLACK.

Continue to: “Moby McGuirk” – Scene 5