Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Extremely Short Story 7

"...And the number where I'll be is on the refrigerator," Mrs. DeMarco told Peter, the widower-turned-babysitter, "and if you can keep the boys out of trouble long enough for Senator Ignor's Cialis to work properly, I'll give you a bonus big enough to make a down payment on a house."

As she swept out the door in a cloud of fur wraps and perfume, Peter looked at the thirteen-year-old twins, who said in unison, "We're junior crimefighters."

"Get the police scanner," one said to the other.

Four hours later, Peter was standing in the moonlight by the fountain in the city square, wearing somebody else's shoes, nursing a dull headache, scraping green goo out of his hair, and trying to keep pace with two rambunctious wolves.
"If you're not back home and in bed when your mother returns," he said sternly, "I'll tell all your classmates that I caught one of you crying at the end of Clueless and the other holding a stick of butter while viewing some very unusual Mongolian pornography, and neither one of you will find a girl willing to date you until you're thirty-five years old."

Their bodies returned to human form. Two scrawny thirteen year-old boys knelt before Peter with blood-smeared chests, entrails and body fluids dripping onto the ground. They washed each other in the fountain, dressed in clean clothing and departed.

In a distant city, a widower and his two sons bought a house, enrolled in school, played sports and lived quiet lives.

And woe to the criminals and nameless unfortunates who crossed their path on the night of the full moon.

--Ellie/Dave F.


donna said...

Dear Evil Editor,

I very much enjoy your blog. I am wondering if I can ask you a question that is not related to this blog entry: Can you explain the concept of a book with an editor, but no author?
Silly question, but I can't seem to find any information on the topic.

Is it that many editors are also literary scholars who may have an interest in a certain aspect of literature that they want to share with the public? So, having experience in the world of publishing, it's a fairly simple process for them to "compile" that book, write a preface and inject editorial analyses throughout the book, and put it out to market?

I'm trying to get a feel for the whole cycle: conception, motivation, niggling details, permissions, and so on, without making it too cumbersome a question to answer.

Why and how do editors decide to put out a book?

My reason for asking is because these books tend to be the books I enjoy most. 90% of the books I read come under this category.

Dave F. said...

oh my, oh oh oh - MY!
That's an interesting beginning. Good work.

Ellie said...

Thank you, Dave F! I had an excellent ending to work with, very full of atmosphere. I hope I didn't traumatize you too much.

Dave F. said...

In my technical publications the equivalent of a symposia volume - 12 highly related chapters on coal liquefaction from 1945 to the late 80's with speculations for the future. We (three coworkers and I) were approached by the editor of a series of volumes on technical topics related to coal, We knew the field, he had the book. So we invited the chapters, did the editing and compiled the volume.

How did the editor decide this set of books? Well back in 1979, we had an energy crisis and they started the volumes on topics concerning energy and technology. We were #8 of 12. The publisher picked the "editor" and then he was responsible for assembling the chapters.

This was the part of a series on coal liquefaction (Coal to Oil).

So the start of that book was much like a non-fiction book proposal. Now someone, presumably the editor, has to know the subject and have sufficient credibility with the authors of each chapter to gain their participation. People just don't fall over to do this work.

We wrote a chapter (my part of the work with one coauthor) and my other two coworkers did the contacts with the authors for the other 10 chapters. A fifth coworker was a professional copyeditor and did that job for us.

This was lots of work. For my part, every diagram had to have written patent and copyright clearance or be our regurgitation of the data with a unique viewpoint (legal crap). And all the references (somewhat over 200).

We handed the publisher clean and nearly camera-ready text along with absolutely camera-ready graphs and tables. Proofread.

I know you say it's "fairly simple" to compile the book, and I respectfully disagree. It is tedious, detailed, time-consuming and work to compile a book and add a theme to it.

If you have a good idea, go to it. I'm sure you can do it. Just don't believe it all falls together without problems. It doesn't. That's life. You are the person who comes up with the concept and sells it to an agent and a publishing house.

Other times - I also wrote six page fact sheets for a huge project (a power plant being built). It required fifteen approvals and one duck (duck: to avoid that person over there, please). It was tough. That's roughly 2000 words and diagrams and artwork. I had copyeditors, graphics illustrators and professional photographers to help. It took me 80 hours over two months. Then I had to shepherd it through the publisher and get the funding for it. I almost paid for 2000 copies, too. the "duck" caught us and refused to pay. He wanted something written into the text that I knew was improper.

BTW - technical stuff is easy for me to write so the common person understands it. I have a facility to explain technical matters in simple and straightforward terms. Fiction is really, terribly HARD and so completely different. Poetry is sweating blood or worse.

Dave F. said...

No, not traumatized just fascinated by what the story could have been. I enjoyed reading it.

This is the end to the short story that started with the writing exercise we did a few weeks ago on the Unexpected Package Arrival:

Anonymous said...

And woe to the criminals and nameless unfortunates who crossed their path on the night of the full moon.

Dave, perfect example of an ending and and a lead-in, me thinks.

Ellie, extra funny beginning and ok, kinda creepy too. This really makes Kiersten's kids seem normal.

Donna, if ya wanna, you can google Latin definitions of: variorum.


Evil Editor said...

Can you explain the concept of a book with an editor, but no author?

I assume we're talking about books that have several authors. In fiction it's often a matter of someone liking stories about, say, time travel, and deciding to put together a book of her favorite time travel stories. So she seeks permission to print all her favorites, because wouldn't it be cool to have them all in one book? She starts by contacting the agent for the Heinlein estate because she wants "All You Zombies." Why shouldn't they let her print the story? It might turn new readers on to Heinlein and help sell his novels. But the Heinlein people don't see it that way. They figure Heinlein's name on the cover will sell books, and they want $500.00 up front. Suddenly our intrepid editor, who was hoping to make $2.00 profit per book realizes the profit from the first 250 copies sold will be going to Heinlein, even though he's dead. She decides to scrap the project and put out the word that she's planning an anthology of time travel stories, and inviting submissions and paying in contributor's copies.

Dave F. said...

As I said when we did the writing exercise about packages, I don't write werewolf or vampire stories. This just turned into one and once done, I put a stake in its heart ;)
So there is no sequel or continuation.

The reason the reader is attracted to the last sentence is simple -- it's bad English. The grammar people can tell you that. It's like a magic trick - the misdirection that calls attention to itself and lets the magician work the trick. In this case, I want the reader to think about the horror of THIS widower with two boys living "normal" lives.

talpianna said...

EE, at this point there's very little difference between an editor and a packager. In the case of my published stories, first of all, I was invited to submit by Andre Norton to one of the CatFantastic anthologies; and she liked my story and accepted it.

The second story I sold to my best friend's husband, who was editing an anthology of modern stories about the ancient gods. At the time, it was just a gleam in my eye; and he'd already filled his contributors' list. But one of them didn't make the deadline, so he asked me to remove the story from my subconscious and put it on paper.

Both books were co-edited/packaged by Martin H. Greenberg, who does this sort of thing more or less full time. He handles the rights and permissions end, and the guy with the concept invites contributions and edits the stories.

My friend Bruce (the spouse) knows a lot of SF/fantasy writers; and I've gotten to know quite a few romance writers online. I'm trying to persuade him to sell Greenberg an anthology of fantasy and SF stories set in Regency England, to be co-edited by Bruce and me.

ChrisEldin said...

Is it that many editors are also literary scholars

Noone's exploited this? Or perhaps is EE deleting all the good jokes?