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Once, an odd girl wanted to write books.

Being quite clever in addition to being odd, the girl knew just what to do. She built a faerie-trap out of cereal boxes and baited it with bread crumbs and body wash.

And lo! Who should she ensnare but the faerie-queen herself? The odd girl recognized the queen by her extreme ugliness, which could only have been a disguise. The faerie made no attempt, however, to conceal her hair, which cascaded like liquid gold around a face resembling a thousand-year-old monkey.

“O Faerie-Queen,” demanded the odd girl, “tell me how to be a successful writer.”

The faerie gnashed her teeth (of which she only possessed two). “Alas! I am caught! What can I do but reveal the Three Terrible Secrets, and so regain my freedom?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. Tell me the secrets, quickly!”

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“The First Terrible Secret is this: you must understand precisely what you mean to write.”

“Yes, yes!” cried the odd girl. “I’ve already done this. I mean to write fantasy, of a rather classic and whimsical sort, funny and poignant, captivating because it touches on what is deepest in the human spirit—beauty, pain, and love.”

Because of the faerie-queen’s unparalleled ugliness, it was unclear whether her facial expression was a nod of reverence or a nauseous convulsion. The creature’s two teeth, perfectly situated for gnashing, engaged once again in this activity.

Then the faerie-queen continued, “The Second Terrible Secret is this: you must actually write something.”

“But I’ve already done this, too! I’ve written a sort of epic high fantasy thing. Dragons and such, family strife, broken hearts, big battles, and characters as delicious as a bacon-maple fritter. O Faerie-Queen, you’ve never read anything like it in all your life!”

The faerie-queen began to beat her head against the wall of the trap. Anxious that critical information might be dislodged, the odd girl urged, “Tell me the third secret, please!”

The faerie slowly raised her head. Her eyes glittered black and fierce. Her mouth tightened like the drawstring of a purse. Then, with a strangling sound, she burst, “The Third Terrible Secret is this: you must build an author platform.”

The girl gaped, pushing up the glasses that had slid down her nose. “A… a platform?” she whispered. “Where? How high?”

“I mean, socially-impaired mortal, that you must start a personal website, gain a following on social media, and coerce readers into signing up for your email newsletter.”

The odd girl nodded solemnly, and tears formed in her eyes. “I will. I will not fail to do so. O Faerie-Queen, thank you! I would never have discovered the path to authorial success without your help. How can I ever repay you?”

The faerie cocked her head, looking more monkey-like than ever. “That bacon-maple fritter sounds pretty good. Try that for faerie bait. I’ve got as many Terrible Secrets as you like.”

And she disappeared.