Hot Lips Brandy

Dear Prospero,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your piece entitled Hot Lips Brandy.

While we enjoyed some aspects of the story, many of us kept questioning whether street swindler might not be a better vocation for you, but this sort of office chatter is unlikely to prejudice our view of your work as we are a top-tier behemoth of the publishing industry.

In some passages, our most senior editor seemed to have the need to lower her uvula, diverting air flow through her nose and producing a sort of nasal whine.

Though it is from time to time the sensitive writer’s wont to murderously impale certain words, many thought the word ‘veliger’ was typographically incorrect and that you must certainly have meant ‘villager,’ which in the context of the “visit to the local brothel” episode (part 3c) would have made good sense. But it was only on the fourth reading that a small cadre of us grasped the freshwater gastropod angle.

The sudden shift to Esperanto in the penultimate paragraph was admittedly unexpected. This linguistic sleigh of hand only works one out of a thousand times. This was not one of those times, though we did enjoy the sexual innuendo which came of its own toward the climactic end of an otherwise distracting and poorly lubricated gear change.

I personally felt your diagnosis of meningeal tuberculosis was unconvincing. Young farmer Brown probably suffered from eye strain.

One of our staff, Tina, a recovering bibliophile, saucer-eyed and mercurial of temperament, said your work was a finely chopped mixture of horseradish, Spanish onions, and Herbes de Provence sautéed in homemade goat butter and reduced nicely to an unctuous paste, and while her recent run-in with the law does not automatically disqualify her from opining on any of the material we receive–in hygienically sealed envelopes, as per the new regulations we were forced to adopt in the latter half of 2016–we make sure she is at all times kept away from the deep fryer.

In short, the majority of us look upon your cosmoramic writing style with a jaundiced eye. Gone are the days when a byzantine style is likely to curry favor with an editor, especially one prone to self-immolation; moreover, multi-protagonist stories can work a treat in the current market, but this sprawling amalgam of mirrory characters in search of the ‘perfect polygraph’ is weighed down by the crushing weight of its own invention.

Speaking personally again, I hope you will have occasion to submit some of your other work. We are always happy to discover new talent even if we have to look under rocks to find it. And believe you me, we’ve a huge collection of rocks ranging from petite pebbles to bulging boulders in the portico of our New York office.

We also wish to thank you for your submission fee. Rents are high and some of our staff seem to have acquired expensive habits.



Since Ariel is the closest thing I have in my photo library to a penguin (if you read the article you’ll know what I’m talking about), she will do nicely.

Complaints may be directed to the Internet Watchdog Foundation, a cyber-etiquette organization whose primary purpose is to protect the public from gratuitous colors and improperly-sized fonts. Ask for Raoul, stationed in Manila. Though he may not be sympathetic to your cause, he’s always willing to show someone a good time. 


The secret to becoming a bestselling author is to find the right niche. Luckily, I will be helping you with this simple though tiresome task.

You should know, however, that talent is almost always overrated and, in the case of niche hunting, completely unnecessary–if not downright harmful. Broadly speaking, if one were to consider vocations other than writing, such as playing the rosewood fife or wrestling naked with white tigers, one might acknowledge the need certain brave individuals might have to be endowed with a modicum of talent. Even an execrable instrument such as the lyre requires a willing and able and modestly talented conduit. The jaw harp, or Jew’s harp as it is sometimes called, may be cited as an exception, as it requires neither skill nor great dexterity for a walking zombie to wheedle a sound from its ill-construed frame, and the random sounds it emits could easily have been produced by an unconscious, syphilitic drunkard lying supine on the beer-splattered floor of some funky tavern.

After having excited your attention,  I shall return to the subject in hand. In order to become an obnoxiously rich author, you must choose a category which has little or no competition. This way it will be easier to get top ranking in that niche.

This is a top-down process. First choose the broadest category first and then keep refining it. Stop if your hair loss exceeds 150 strands per day.

This is an example of the selection process for the novel I’m writing:

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > LGBT > Pelagic Birds  > Penguins > Macaroni Penguins

The child category is “Macaroni Penguin” because no sub-categories exist beyond that point.  This is called a flightless point in the industry.

With this ironclad strategy, my book, “Who’s Killing the Penguins of Lesbos,” the nail-biting story of  Sappho– an amateur detective and unapologetic flame-crested penguin who, while vacationing on a sun-flecked Greek isle, discovers herself and, alas, a homicidal maniac in a hockey mask slaughtering penguins–will have a decent chance of being # 1.


Please support my work by selling all your worldly goods and making a meaningful investment in the arts.

See you at the top of the charts,



or, Honey, do you have enough kindling to turn the campfire into a controlled inferno? I hope the Girl Scouts (Caribbean chapter) taught you know to make a fire by rubbing two recalcitrant sticks together because I’m out of matches and the flamethrower I bought on sale last year is still in the shop—it’s so hard to get qualified technicians these days.


The following is a letter I set to myself yesterday. I do this from time to time as a public service to my multiple selves—there’s nothing strange in that, Sybil did it all the time. Besides, communication is the key to understanding. I say this when I’m in an aphoristic mood or when I need extra time to procure the rent check (sometimes clever imitations will do).

Dear Sir,
I just learned a few things about Kindle and want to share the knowledge with you (because that’s the kind of person I am).

I was interested in estimating how much filthy lucre money an independent author might be making given the Amazon rank of the book.

Here are two examples–from these results you can extrapolate the earnings of any book (except for books on ornithology, which seem to follow their own imprescriptible path).

Amazon Best Sellers Rank #35,000 Paid in Kindle Store. This means the book earns around $100-$200 per month.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank # 2,000 Paid in Kindle Store. This Mean the book earns approximately $1,000- $2,000 per month.

But my main purpose is to tell you about a particular strategy, one which may seem counter intuitive to a greenhorn–it’s where you offer a book on Kindle for free. Here is the little kernel of knowledge that makes such a strategy tick (while concomitantly mixing up metaphors): Within that book you offer something else for free: for example, the names and addresses of former KGB agents. But, in order for your readers to get this incredible gift, they must surrender their email address to you (this works far better than asking for blood samples; I have gone down this road and am none the wiser—it’s sad to say but many laboratories charge exorbitant fees and do shoddy work). And this, Sybil, is how you build an email list. Thereinafter, say once a week, you email these fine folks with other useful content. You may, for instance, casually divulge state secrets, tell in graphic detail about a purulent boil on your left shoulder, or pontificate about the merits of your newest manifesto and how it will, in time, revolutionize your hemisphere ( set yourself reasonable targets: the whole world is simply a bridge too far). And don’t be afraid to revisit communism, as it does have some nice points.

The next executive decision you want to take is that of writing several books (or pamphlets if you can’t be bothered to write with dedication) all in the same genre. This could be Stalin fanfiction, or vampiric moneylender romance (a subset of vampiric cyberpunk), sycophantic slipstream, and the list goes on and on. Once you unmask the penetralia of genre, the writing world opens up to you.

I hope you found some of these ideas useful and, as always, thank you for your time.