I paused at the door. It was never a good thing when I could hear voices coming from my empty office.
“What does one-dimensional cardboard cutouts mean?” I recognized the voice as that of my Cleric.
“I am not altogether certain of the meaning, but I have the unmistakable impression we have been insulted.” That would be the Arrogant One responding.
“Good morning,” I chirped cheerily as I stormed through the door. A half dozen characters scrambled away from the computer, trying to look inconspicuous. “So,” I said, as I fixed each one with a penetrating look. “What in the name of great literature is going on here? Didn’t we all agree last week that under no circumstances were you to enter my office uninvited?”
(for anyone who missed last week’s shenanigans, you will find it here: https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/more-dead-ends/)
My Gypsy lounged against the wall, and avoided eye contact with me. He nonchalantly cleaned under his fingernails with his stiletto while he softly whistled the sweet song of the meadowlark. My Young Hero quickly found something of great interest on my bookshelf. My Cleric blushed deeply, her blue eyes clouded with remorse. My Foreman shifted in his chair, looking uncomfortable with the question. My Dwarf paced back and forth across the room, muttering under his breath and swatting his hand with the flat of his ax. My Dragon shrank to the size of a sheepdog and tried to appease me by wiggling her tail at me with endearing charm. Only my Arrogant One remained at the computer, looking unabashed.
“We noticed you had received an e-mail regarding our series,” the Arrogant One explained, completely ignoring my reprimand. “It appears to be from an agent you recently queried.”
I stood facing him, arms folded tightly across my chest (mainly to keep myself from giving in to the temptation to throttle my Arrogant One and his companions). “You’re reading my e-mails? Again?” I asked through clenched teeth.
“Well, since they are, after all, our stories, we thought we would just take a look and see what the agent had to say.” My Arrogant One lived up to his title.
“Oh, Mistress, it is terrible!” my Cleric wailed. My Dragon nodded in agreement, smoke puffing from her nostrils.My Dwarf sputtered a string of Dwarven expletives and avowed to cleave the agent in two.
Sighing deeply, I motioned my Arrogant One out of the chair, and sat down to read. I chuckled when I saw who it was from.
“It is not funny, Mistress,” my Young Hero stated, his eyes blazing.
“I agree,” my Foreman said, disgust in his voice. “We have all worked so hard, and all for naught!”
“It just is not fair,” my Gypsy lamented.
“Suppose you all just stop your bellyaching and let me read this,” I replied sternly.
“Please read it aloud,” my Cleric implored. “The Arrogant One only read one line to us.”
“Okay,” I agreed, my lips still twitching with humor. “It says,
Thanks so much for letting us take a look at your materials. The volume of submissions we receive makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally, but in your case, we will make an exception.
Don’t quit your day job! No, seriously, don’t even think about it!
We have never seen such clichéd writing, such trite storylines, such plot inconsistencies, or characters that were such one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. If there are any rules for writing a great novel that you did not break, we did not find them!
We wish you luck in finding an agent to represent your work, but suggest you don’t hold your breath waiting.
The agents and staff at the We’ll Find You a Publisher or Die Trying Literary Agency and Takeout Deli
By the time I finished reading the e-mail to my characters, I was giggling uncontrollably and tears were running down my cheeks.
My characters regarded me in wide-eyed bewilderment. Finally, my Cleric broke the silence and declared, “She has gone mad! Where are my healing herbs?”
Still laughing, I replied, “You don’t need any healing herbs, and I am not mad!”
“If you are not mad, how can you sit there laughing at that scorching criticism?” my Foreman demanded.
“You think this is bad?” I asked my characters.
“O’ course it be bad, ye nitwit!” my Dwarf bellowed. “That agent just called ye an incompetent writer. Worse yet, he attacked the character o’ yer characters! I oughta take me ax and knock some sense inta him!”
I looked around the room. All my other characters were nodding in agreement.
“You all feel badly treated by this agent?” I asked.
To a character, they all avowed their displeasure.
“Serves you all right for snooping in my e-mail and reading things you don’t understand!”
They all looked at me, confused.
“This rejection letter isn’t from an agent, it’s a joke from a friend of mine! We’ve been commiserating over recent rejections we have both received, and this was his way of dealing with it. It’s a parody, a lampoon, a spoof!”
My characters all hung their heads, cheeks aflame with embarrassment.
“From now on, if I find any of you meddling where you do not belong, I will excise you from the books and replace you with characters who are more than one-dimensional cardboard cutouts.” I snickered at their horrified appearance, as they filed meekly out the door.
If you would like to keep up with my character’s antics, feel free to drop back from time to time. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.