[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
MARK TWAIN’S EDITOR
Hello All, Melanie here!
If a ghost offered to haunt your house, would you accept? I think I’d need to see a resume.
Whatever her latest choices, I’m happy for Writer X!
Without further ado…
Subject: A New Year’s Ghost Story
I know I was supposed to pick you up for THE BIG PLAN, but the local advisory said that the ghost weather was too bad to go out of the house.
I looked out my living room window and there was a tide of souls pouring out of the cemetery and down my street. It was a ghastly sight, tall skeletal men with beards and top hats, prim skeletal children in chort pantrs with shriveled eyes in shriveled sockets wandering through the melting snow.
Anyhoo, I’m sure you’re dying to know how my writing is going! Honestly it wasn’t looking good until this ghost parade showed up after that unfortunate explosion outside the Horn Hill cemetery by the New Hampshire DOT. Whatever the mayor said about “the ghosts merely passing through to eternity” there are A LOT of them that are knocking on people’s doors to offer haunting services.
I’ve turned nearly ALL. of them away. If the health department or ghost immigration services calls you, I turned all the ghosts that knocked on my door away and THAT IS MY OFFICIAL STANCE ON THE SITUATION.
With the HOA sending me letters about TRyxy’s new leopard, I don’t need any more officials breathing down my neck!!! I PUT UP A SIGN!!! The leopard should surprise NO ONE!!!!
Where was I? I was on my way to pick you up so that we could drive to the houses of EVERY short story publication that rejected the chapters of my novel last week. I was determined to be published and become famous before the New Year!!!
Nothing would fix that situation like some good old fashioned CONFRONTATION. I still have half a mind to talk sense into these publishers. But then there was the cemetery explosion and the outpouring of ghosts and I didn’t want to get ghosts in my car’s air intake system again.
That’s when the ghost in the green Stratford hat and the parrot shaped cane showed up at my front door. She fixed my crooked Beware of the Leopard sign that some HOA member had angrily strangled and asked me if I could use an editorial haunting as she was sick of “living in the underworld and wasn’t hastened to return.”
I don’t need an editor galsdy, my words are BRILALNT the minute they hit the page!!! I started to turn her away except she slid in another scintillating detail.
She said, “I was Mark Twain’s editor.”
I siad, “Prove it.”
“Are you familiar with Mark Twain’s quote Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest?”
I told her that OBVIOUSLY I was. (I wasn’t.)
“Originally it went: Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish most of the rest. Speaking plain, that version lacks the vigor of the latter. If needing further evidence of my skill, I editorially haunted Ernest Hemingway while he wrote The Sun Also Rises. Prior to my assistance, it will surprise that Hemingway’s prose was flabby.” She raised her mostly missing nose high, daring me to contradict her.
While I don’t NEED an editor, I would challenge an editor of a short story magazine to turn down the chapters of my novel WHEN THEY’VE BEEN EDITED BY NONE OTHER THAN MARK TWAIN’S EDITOR!!!!! Of course I invited her in.
She hung her hat and parrot cane by the door, I handed over my incredible chapters, and she began editorially haunting me.
Mark Twain’s editor read the pages quickly. She looked more pale and bloodless than she had when she left the graveyard.
Occasionally she would get to a particularly genius paragraph and she was BLOWN AWAY, galdys!!! She had a tell. Whenever she ran into my genius—which was FREQUENTLY, she would lean her head to the left and blink her shriveled eyes rapidly while pursing what was left of her lips.
Did you know that ghosts can sweat, Gladys? Because this one did. As she got further in, she sweat in buckets and kept making that blinking face at my pages. Pretty soon the first floor smelled like earthy ghost sweat and Tryxy had to come up from his abyss in the basement and discretely place som apple cinnamon air fresheners around the room. Then it smelled like apple cinnamon ghost sweat.
Finally, the ghost said, “Young lady, if you desire my advice, consider throwing out—”
“The adverbs?” I asked.
“No,” said she.
Remembering some of the writing books I’d read when I was stalking Tod Boadkins’ house I said: “Oh! I know! Get rid of multiple gerunds in a sentence!!!!!”
The ghost flashed the two gaping nostrils in her skull and peered down what was left of her nose. “I was going to say consider throwing out everything that is not chapter four and five.”
“Oh,” said I and I began to think of throwing this ghost out of my house because OBVIOUSLY she’d lost her editing knowledge when her brains rotted away, but you know I like to be polite, Gladys, soe I watied until she was done editing chapters four and five.
At last, she handed me the pages. “These read as a short story.”
She collected her hat and cane from by the door. The new short story looked pretty good so I asked her if she wanted to take a look at my True Blood fan fiction and she said that, on second thought, the underworld hadn’t been half bad.
Anyhoo Gladsy, I sent chapters four and five off to a publisher I found online, paid the $25 publishing fee and…
I’M A PUBLISHED WRITER, GALDYSA!!!!!!
You can find my new short story at We Publish Anything dot com later this week!!!!! What a way to bring in the NEw year!!!!! This is right on time for the New Hampshire Writer’s Retreat that my boyfirend, award-nominated fantasy writer Tod Boadkins, invited me on!!!! Now I’ll sit on the PUBLISHED writer’s deck when we sail away. They invited him back a second year because his evil doppelganger did a horrible job last year.
I’m in high spirits. I think I’ll go write!!!!
Pages next week, Gladys!!!