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Sunday, August 31, 2014


Today, I was with a writing group trying to plan out a chapter.  We got to talking and I wanted to get their opinion on my latest short story, Cheat.  When the girl next to me read it, she told me that she had actually read that piece a couple days before on a website I've never heard of.

The poster may or may not have said that s/he did not write it.  But the site is not very searchable, so we were having trouble finding the piece, particularly since the site is NSFW and we were in the middle of a Barnes & Noble.  She doesn't think that they credited me with it.

Apparently, the piece did well and a lot of people "liked" it; so many, in fact, that it was featured on the site.

Now, here's where things make me angry.  I don't mind that people like the piece of a NSFW site.  That's fine.  I am glad people enjoyed it!  I am even glad the person didn't take credit for it.  But I didn't get credit for it, and I didn't give permission, and I wasn't asked.

I cannot tell you how infuriating this is.  Here I am, trying to build an audience, and a golden opportunity like that slips away under my fingertips.  It makes me realize 2 things:

1) My pieces WILL get stolen

2) I could probably get a bigger audience if I specialize more.

So now I get to figure out what my next move will be.  I could stop putting up short stories altogether, but I'm not sure how much that will help me.  I suppose I could instead simply collect them for publication.  But if I do that, I need to do something for exposure, to gain an audience.  I could find a niche and go with it.  If so, what niche?  Any ideas?

Friday, August 29, 2014


Today's short story has some adult themes.  You have been warned.


The soft touch of her youthfulness, the heat of passion and flesh, the tangling of limbs and lives, the anger and betrayal – these things overwhelmed all feelings of guilt.  I don't even know the woman's last name, but in all fairness, I wouldn't want to.  After all, I never knew the name of my wife's lover.

For that matter, I never knew my wife.

A lot comes with 10 years of marriage.  It seems every day we learned more about what we liked or disliked.  Just when I thought I knew her, she'd throw me for a loop with another strange obsession.  Sure, things changed.  Sex became less frequent, less adventurous.  Infatuation faded into complacency.  Routine took over.  But I never expected to see that email on her computer.

"Last night was amazing.  I can't wait to see you again.  How about this weekend?"

It wasn't fair.  I had been loyal to her since we met, and now she was off gallivanting around!  Since when did I become… boring?

I made sure to let her go that weekend.  That's when I met Joanna.  I wished I'd gone to that adult dating site earlier.

My own tryst was cut short.  I had to make it home before my wife did, not that I would have cared if she caught me coming home late, disheveled and smelling of sex.  But there were chores I wanted to do before she got home.  After all, I didn't need her anymore.

She didn't come home that night.  By the next morning, elation turned to jealousy.  By the afternoon, anger.  The following morning, fear.

They found her body 2 weeks later, stuffed into a plastic trash bag. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Keep my brothers in the dark, I do.  It is my job.  Yes it is.  We brownies do not like the light.  We fear the light.  The light hurts us.  It blinds us.  It exposes us.  Every night we come out.  Every night we fix.  We fix everything, we do.  The gates above rejected us, yes, yes.  They told us we were unfit.  Unfit!  The gates below did not want us.  No!  I remember!  We were too nice, they said.  We could not get along with the others, like soap and scum, oil and water.  We are caught between!

Some of our cousins, they play tricks.  They paid the gatekeeper to stay out.  And they pay him still, pay him always, every 84 moons.  Bah!  The moon is too bright.  We hate the moon.  We like it inside, in the dark.  Always in the dark.

I remember, I told my brothers, I said we should help.  Help the stewards.  Steward the stewards, that we do!  We clean their houses, mend their toys, if only for a bit of morsel.

It is becoming hard.  "Droko!"  They came to me.  "Droko, they humans, they tame fire now to keep the dark away!"  So I learn to snuff out flame.  I brave it, the light.  Droko knows how.  This works for many moons, many seasons.

"Droko!  They keep flames in glass pots!"  I try to break the pots, but they are too far.  They put their light pots on the ceiling!  Humans are tricky that way.  I braved the day, I watched the stewards.  Droko learn how to put out the lights.  They call it a "witch" but it does not look like a witch to me.  It is too small.  It stays on the wall.  I point it down, the lights go out.  My brothers get to work.

They learn, too.  Yes, much to learn.  Wood toys?  They are gone!  Now it is all e-lek-tonics.  Bah!  Make light, their toys do.  Make sound!  We hate it.  But we fix it! We do good!  We cut wires, turn off the light toys.  Then we fix.

It does not work for long.  It was a moon ago. A human, he has toys with magic eyes.  I keep watch in the dark, but the eyes, they watch me.  In the horrible day, the human went to his toy.  His magic eye, it saw me!  It showed him on his light toy.  I was there, in the dark, but in the light.

"Droko," I says.  "This can not be!  If the humans see us, they stop us.  We know this.  They always do.  If my brothers do not work, the gates below will take us!"  I said this, I did.  Stop the human, I did.  It was easy.  I breaked his toys!  I found him asleep.  I stopped his air.  Oh!  I will be with my fallen brothers!  But I did my job.  Yes.  I keep us in the dark.  That I do.

Friday, August 1, 2014


"Warton?  As in Tom Warton?"
That was the question I had always been asked.  Whenever I told anyone my name it wasn't, "Didn't you write that book?" or, "I love your stories," or "I can't wait to see your next novel."  No, it was always, "Are you really related to that guy who makes cars?"
I didn't even drive a Warton.  I thought they were ugly machines that didn't have enough power and wasted too much fuel.  I stared down at the first one my dad ever built, supposedly in his own garage.  I doubted that.  Frankly, I thought it looked much better after I had doused it in gasoline.
This was only one of a dozen cars that sat in the small museum attached to the factory.  I'd practically grown up at the factory.  I spent so much time there, I knew all the guards, I knew the security system inside and out, and I knew that on the night of the World Cup finals, all the night staff would be glued to a small TV in the guardroom.  It wasn't hard to get around them.  Nothing could make them leave the game.  It was the same when dad owned the place.  The day of the World Cup finals always had a sort of party atmosphere, and dad allowed it.  But even now, after his death, the Board of Directors refused to change anything.  They were superstitious, afraid that changing anything would incur the wrath of my dead old man.
I quickly spent the entire canister of gasoline in the museum and slipped out of the door to the main floor of the factory.  I knew where the gas pumps were, so it didn't take me long to refill the container and start distributing the liquid to the machines, the files cabinets, the offices.  When I got to the boardroom, I knew my work was nearly over.  The company would never recover, but my name would.
"Hands in the air!"  It was Jorge, the youngest guard and, truth be told, an old friend of mine.  We were the same age, spent time in the factory together, went to school together.  His voice rang from the only door to the entire room.  I put my hands up, a match between my fingers.
"Go back to the game, Jorge," I said as I turned around.  He flinched when he saw it was me.
"Ashton?  What are you doing here?"
"I'm putting an end to this blight on the family name.  On my name."
"What blight?  Your name is on the map because of this place."  His hand was on his gun's holster.
"Do you even know what I've been doing for the past 5 years?  Did you know I have two books out?  And they both have great reviews!"
"Why does that mean you have to burn down your father's factory?"
"Because I have no sales!  No one knows my name!  They only know my dad's name!  I'm trapped in his gravity!"  I could see that Jorge didn't understand.  "If I can't break free from my father's star, I'll never shine on my own."
"Destroying your father's namesake is not the way to do it.  Come on, Ash.  If you just come with me now, we can watch the game together and I won't let anyone know it was you in here."
I looked around the boardroom, seeing the name "Warton" splayed out on every seat, on every window, even on the carpet.  But I knew that it wasn't my name.  Not any longer.  I smiled and lit the match.  He put his gun in front of him.
"Put the match down, Ashton!" he said, though as he spoke I could see him shaking.
"Are you sure you want me to do that, Jorge?"  I flicked the match at him.  It landed on the table and smoldered… then went out in a pool of gasoline.  "What the Hell?"
Jorge ran up to me and knocked me over with his shoulder.  He was bigger than me and definitely stronger.

The next morning I woke up in a cell with three other guys.  They all eyed me suspiciously.
"Good morning, Tinkerbell," a rather wiry man said.  All three of them laughed.
"Where… what happened?"  By the time I got my bearings, things came back to me.  The struggle, the cops, the beating.  My head still pounded.
"Woah, hold up there, Tinkerbell.  Looks like you took quite a pounding."  Another chuckle from his comrades.
"Stop calling me Tinkerbell," I demanded, getting an "ooooh!" from my cellmates.  "I'm Ash Warton."

"Warton?" One of the others asked.  "Like the car?"