Monday, December 31, 2018

Buddies (A Mark Flyleaf Story)

The door swung open, and a small but severe young man in a gray, secondhand, pinstriped suit sauntered in. Behind him, filling the doorway, was a wall of a man, six-and-a-half feet tall if he was an inch. He clasped his huge, calloused hands respectfully in front of his genitals over faded denim overalls. He had to duck to get through the door, showing the top of his navy blue newsboy cap that, though it was probably the largest size they made, seemed two sizes too small for his cinder block of a head.

Mark stood. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t expecting two of you. I’ll have Janice bring us another chair.”

The smaller man waved his hand. “No need,” he said. He turned to the larger man. “Have a seat, Lennie.”

Monday, December 24, 2018

Oliver Twist, Zombie Hunter? (A Mark Flyleaf Story)

"Do you know who I was?!" the scrawny blond boy screeched.

"Yes," Mark said, trying to remain calm. "Of course. I understand that—"

"I was Oliver. Bloody. Twist. You hear me? The original. From Dickens' pen itself."

"Yes, I—"

"I've been fan-fictioned, bowdlerized, plagiarized, and reimagined like you would not believe."

"Yes, I understand, but—"

"I've been a musical, a whole slew of movies, and three graphic novels. And now I hear that Oliver Bloody Twist is going to be in a new novel fighting zombies, and I wasn't offered the part?"

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 
  • 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: