First, thank you all VERY much for the feedback. It’s enormously helpful, and I have made the changes noted. Never apologize for nit-picking, that’s practically the definition of copy editing.
Beelzebub and the Dinosaurs:
The dinosaurs died 66 million years ago, so that joke goes. It’s what Lani calls a vestigial tail; when you’re writing a first draft, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks draft, stuff like this gets in as a throwaway. Then you look at the facts and throw it away.
But I need to get a throwaway in there that establishes Beelzebub as a screw-up. I have now learned that the Holocene Era started about eleven thousand years ago when the glaciers began to pull back and forests sprang up (we’re still in the Holocene Era). Eleven thousand years is still too many, I need something that happened around five or six thousand years ago. (Do not google for “six thousand years ago” because you get those cousins of the Flat Earthers, the New Earthers who have decided that the Earth was created six thousand years ago because . . . I have no idea why. I didn’t actually read the stuff I found on that, just marveled at the blindness of the anti-science people.) So mammoths (too close to “Mammon”), mastodons, and giant sloths disappeared during the early Holocene.
The giant sloths piqued my interest and there’s evidence they were around five thousand years ago. Also “giant sloth” is funny. I’m not sure I can get it to work, though. Six thousand years ago, the chicken was domesticated, the Sahara Desert formed thanks to an “aridification event,” and the Minoan Culture began on Crete (Beelzebub created the Minotaur?), None of these has the impact of dinosaurs as a disaster. I did look at flood myths, and they’re at about the right time, but the historical backstory is too obscure (Lake Agassiz, anybody?).. SO I’m still looking for a disaster. (Funny, usually those find me on their own.)
Don’s note about the centuries made me go back to my notes about the Button family. Like this:
“Josiah began his persecution of demons in 1684 after reading Cotton Mather’s 1684 essay Illustrious Providences. (“Mather, being an ecclesiastical man, believed in the spiritual side of the world and attempted to prove its existence with stories of sea rescues, strange apparitions, and witchcraft. Mather aimed to combat materialism in New England.”) Josiah executed fourteen “demons” between 1684 and 1686 before he shot the son of the local magistrate and was arrested for murder even though the body of the magistrate’s son couldn’t be found after being laid out in the ice house, and Josiah pointed out that demons always returned to Hell after being killed, so he really wasn’t a murderer at all. They had to let him go, but then they found the body in the woods (Josiah hid it when it didn’t disappear) and he hanged for that.”
I wanted this grim, secretive Puritan family that not only persecuted demons, they were fairly lousy to the women in their family. So I did a list of the female Buttons:
Button wives and daughters were named
Be Fruitful (1670-1694 (23 at birth of son, 24 at birth of daughter and death)
Fear (1694-1720) (26 at birth of son, 26 at death)
Silence (1720-1756) (26, 36 at death)
Comfort (1746-1816) (28, 70 at death)
Hopestill (1774-1845) (26, 71 at death)
Prudence (1800 1883) (83 at death)
Patience (1826 – 1900)
Charity (1850- 1925)
Martha (1875 – 1950)
Florence (1902- 1980)
Chloe Button (1988)
The idea was that the Puritan grip on the Button family would have begun to loosen over the centuries so that Button could be unaware of her legacy in the 21st. But I also sort of (I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Buttons) wanted Button’s grandfather to be a semi-survivalist, preparing for when the demons invaded, talking about how humans weren’t having enough babies and insisting that his grandchildren be given Good Christian Names. So I’m thinking about renaming Chloe as Patience. Patience Button is just a good name, plus it would be a good reason for her to ask to be called Button. Maybe her name is Patience Comfort, so she’s really stuck with Button. Also, Max can get a lot of mileage out a trigger-happy Patience. Then her brother would be Josiah. (I don’t think her brother shows up in this story, but he has to exist.)
I think Patience is just a better name than Chloe for this character.
And then there’s Act Two, which has two sex scenes (bleah) that are important to the story so they have to go in. Maybe I’ll go out for lunch and diagram them (quietly) while I eat. There’s a thought. And then I have to cut five thousand words from the first act some of you just read before I cut five thousand words from the second act. Because I am wordy.
I can do this. Nothing but good times ahead.