Megan didn't realize how loudly she had been chanting until her
husband Phil poked his nose into her basement workroom.
"Something wrong, Hon?" he asked.
"No, sorry. I was just casting a spell on this manuscript before
I mail it in."
"Casting a spell on a manuscript? I never heard of that, what
does it do?"
"This is my new story, and I'm sending it to Ultra Fantasy. They
keep sending rejections, and I really want to sell something to
them. Having something published in Ultra Fantasy has been my
dream ever since I started writing." She paused, then licked and
sealed the envelope, and inscribed a pentagram across the edge
of the flap. "This is sort of a love potion mixed with a zombie
spell. They'll never be able to resist publishing it,"
"I hope," Phil frowned, "that you know what you're doing."
* * * *
Megan was a witch. In fact she was a very good witch. She could
cast a spell or brew a potion with the best of them. But she'd
been bitten by the writer's bug, she desperately wanted to
write, and to see her writing in print.
The problem was that she was not a very good writer. Oh, she
could spell, her grammar was good, her sentences parsed
perfectly. It was on coming up with ideas that she was sadly
When she first started, she got a book on writing. It made a
point of "write what you know," so she did. What she knew was
witchcraft and magic, so that's what she wrote. She depicted the
practice of magic in loving, painstaking detail. Too much
detail. Much too much detail.
One rejection slip read, "Try submitting this as a 'How-to'
piece for Popular Witchcraft."
Megan showed it to Phil and asked his advice.
Phil thought carefully about his answer, remembering once or
twice when he had been frozen for a week when Megan didn't like
his advice. Finally, he said, "Try branching out. Use a little
magic, and some nonmagical stuff. Sort of cross-genre."
Megan tried his advice, but it didn't help much. Not only did
Ultra Fantasy refuse to buy "Gunfight at the Orc Corral," but
the story was also rejected by Lassos and Lariats.
And she was rather upset at some of the remarks made by the
editor of Spaceward Bound when she sent him "Cauldron to the
Stars," a tale of a flight to Tau Ceti. She had the spaceship
able to exceed the speed of light by using a magic potion as
Oh, she sold a few stories to the quarter-cent-a-word markets,
and to the pays-in-copies markets. But she got nowhere with the
big magazines, especially Ultra Fantasy. She finally decided to
cheat, and she cast a spell on her manuscript before sending it
* * * *
Phil was watching football on the TV when Megan went out to get
the mail. He hadn't moved a muscle when she came back in, so she
stopped to check that she hadn't accidentally frozen him. But a
quick look at the screen reassured her; it was the Giants-Jets
game and he was self-paralyzed from trying to decide which team
to root for. She went on down the cellar with the mail.
Her screams were enough to rouse Phil from his dilemma, and he
went down the steps three at a time. Megan was sitting on the
floor, tears streaming down her face. An open envelope was on
her lap and the rest of the mail was scattered around. Something
small and red, with wings, horns, and a tail, was buzzing around
"What's the matter, Megan? What happened? Are you OK?" asked
"Oh, Phil," she sobbed, "remember that story I put a spell on,
so they'd have to buy it?" Phil nodded. "Well, they sent me,"
she sobbed harder, "they sent me ..." She batted futilely at the
little red thing, and her voice rose almost to a scream, "They
sent me a rejection demon!"