Monday, December 17, 2018

Amherst Meets Arkham (A Mark Flyleaf Story)

Mark had just taken the first sip of his morning coffee when the intercom on his desk crackled to life.
“Mark, Emily Dickinson is on line one.”

Mark sighed and set down his coffee. Emily had been calling more and more frequently, and it always turned out the same way.

He pushed the intercom button on his desk and thanked Janice and then picked up the receiver of his black rotary phone.

“Good morning, Emily!” he said, trying to sound exuberant.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Literary Child Stars (A Mark Flyleaf Story)

The following story, "Literary Child Stars" was originally published on this blog on July 11, 2013. I have deleted that post and republished it here to keep it alongside its fellow Flyleaf stories.



"Any sign of him yet?" Mark asked into the intercom.

"No, Mister Flyleaf," Janice's voice buzzed through the electronics. "But I have a couple of walk-ins waiting out here who've finished filling out their applications. Should I send them in?"

According to the wall clock, Mark's ten o'clock appointment was now fifteen minutes late. "Are they here separately or together?"

"Oh, they're definitely together, Mister Flyleaf."

Monday, December 3, 2018

Night Hours (A Mark Flyleaf Story)


Mark unlocked the glass front door of the Bureau of Fictional Character Placement and pushed his way in, letting it swing silently closed behind him. The waiting room was dimly lit by the single security light above Janice's vacant desk. She put in her time during the day; Mark didn't expect her to hang around for his night hours. She had, though, left an application on her desk with a memo saying that a new client had made an appointment to see him. He picked up the application and scanned the information. Then he turned and yelped, sending the memo into the air to flutter to the floor.

The grizzled old man standing silently behind the coffee table hadn't been there a moment before.

"Good evening," the old man said in a thick Hungarian accent.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Melville-ous Pair (A Mark Flyleaf Story)



Mark and his new client sat on opposite sides of the desk. Mark scanned the man’s application.

Well, what can we do for you Mister... I’m sorry. I can’t make out your handwriting on the application.”

Call me Ishmael.”

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Bureau of Fictional Character Placement


What follows is the first of six (currently) Mark Flyleaf stories. I'll be publishing a new one here each Monday morning through Christmas Eve. I hope you enjoy them.

The Bureau of Fictional Character Placement



"Good afternoon Mister . . . " Mark glanced at the form on his desk " . . . Burton. Please, have a seat." Mark gestured to the chair opposite his desk and then sat down himself.

"Please, call me Jim."

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I Have Returned, Probably

It was no surprise to me that I hadn't blogged on here in quite a while. It was a small surprise at how long it has actually been. I haven't posted anything on here since January! That's just wrong.

What follows are a few updates and a bit of what you can expect in the future (more posts, I hope!). The tl;dr version is this:
  • My ebook is now free
  • I've been posting about language elsewhere on the internet (and will continue to do so), though I won't be posting much longer at Copyediting.com. 
  • I'll be posting a series of connected short stories here soon, for your reading pleasure.
  • I hope to be posting here more in the future, as long as I both find the time to write and have something interesting to share.
Here's the fuller version:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Great Works of Copy Editing Literature

Behind every great work of literature is a great copy editor. But what if editors weren't behind it, but out in front?

Last Friday on Twitter, Benjamin Dreyer and Jonathon Owen got some of us started rethinking what some of the great works of literature might be like if the novels were written about copy editors. I came to the conclusion that literature can only be improved if more novels were written about those of us in the word business.

Here are the 17 best first lines of novels written about copy editors:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

VIDEO: Thoughts on SEO for Writers

Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed a lot over the last two decades. Thankfully, the games people used to play to try to push their web content to the top of Google search results are largely a thing of the past. Site optimization is important, but that's behind-the-scenes coding that online content writers don't need to worry about.

There isn't a lot that writers need to know about on-page SEO, and a lot of what they need to understand is just common sense:


Sunday, October 1, 2017

VIDEO: The Future of Print Magazines

This is the second video interview with the Author Learning Center. In it, I talk about the problems of print magazines, especially general-interest magazines, and how The Saturday Evening Post is evolving to survive in whatever comes next.

Friday, September 29, 2017

VIDEO: The Importance of Proofreading and Copy Editing

Back in March, the Author Learning Center (website) interviewed me for their ongoing  videos series. Most of their videos are behind a paywall, but they've released three of them to me for promotional purposes.

So, here I am promoting them.

In this one, I talk about what copy editing and proofreading are and why they are important.

Unfortunately, the frame frozen at the beginning makes it look like I'm in the middle of a rendition of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General." But I promise that there is no singing in this video.

Enjoy!