In my lucid moments, I feel I do a disservice to my legion of readers. I produce such a stylistic variety that I feel some early warning system should be in play, so my fans may compose their minds to best receive what each of my stories has to offer.

Legion, by the way, is an ancient Roman military term meaning fifteen to twenty long-suffering relatives.

This legion never knows what to expect when I force a new sheaf of papers into their hands. (I believe they don’t feel worthy to share these outpourings, leading them to protest, hide in closets, and even make burnt offerings of said outpourings.)

I know some authors use pseudonyms when writing in different genres, as a heads-up to readers, but I suspect this course is more difficult than it seems. I, for instance, received a nasty letter from a “Michael Crichton” objecting to my light-hearted romance published under that name. First of all, what kind of person objects to light-hearted romance? And second, is “Michael Crichton” her real name anyway?

I abjure pseudonyms. Instead, I propose a simple system, letters following the title, so readers know whether they need to gird their loins for deepness or let loose their troubles for a care-free romp.

First, S is for Serious. This designation is for stories that have not a single ray of hope or light, and at least one character who should be arrested. Then SWBL, for Serious with Bad Language, which is identical to S, but with cussing. My story, “Grit on the Highway,” would be classed SWNBWBWSI for Serious With No Bad Words But With Sexual Innuendo. I would keep that one away from my mother, and would advise you to do the same.

Next comes UMILP, Uplifting Message In Last Paragraph. “New Yorker” readers could avoid these stories with no loss of their valuable time.

We move on through the ranks to APL, Achingly Painful Love, and its adjunct, APLAL, Achingly Painful Love and Loss. G takes care of Ghost. Then we enter the realm of humor: MC would be Mild Chuckles, EG would be Expect Guffaws. FRF, Frivolous Romantic Farce would be followed by Giddy Wodehousian Romp, GWR.

Last, and perhaps most important, is the equivalent of the white X on a house of plague: NEV, or No Earthly Value.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.