What’s up Wednesday Rides Again: Anxiety, Defeat, And the Long Road Home

First off, I’ll spare you all the usual groveling and the possibly false promises to do better this time. For the record, I really am trying to establish a regular blogging schedule. To be perfectly honest, I’ve come to miss my weekly confessional. I think it really does help to do a weekly purge of some of the thoughts running around my head. Let’s just call this my own little digital pensieve. Yes, I’m a nerd. You should know this by now.


As for where I’ve been, I’ll cover that in the meat of the post, along with a bunch of other stuff. Speaking of which…

Where I’ve Been

You may have already guessed this, but my latest unplanned hiatus had everything to do with my old nemesis, Crippling Anxiety. Now for what brought it about this time.

As you may already know, I’d planned to go to this year’s Thrillerfest & Pitchfest in NYC. I was really excited to go. Partly because one of my literary heroes is going to be there, George R. R. Martin. Mister Game Of Thrones himself. I was really hoping to get a chance to talk to him and pick his brain.

More importantly, I was looking forward to showing up to pitchfest with a dynamite manuscript and having all the agents fighting over me, putting me on the path to becoming someone else’s literary hero. (Shut up. It’s my fantasy and I’ll dream it how I want.)

Unfortunately, finances being what they are, I was going to have to do my trip on a shoestring. That’s when I came up with an oh so brilliant plan. Rather than pay a fortune for a hotel and airfare, I would take the van my mom had given me and turn it into a camper which I would then drive to New York, park it somewhere away from Manhattan (probably Brooklyn), and use it in lieu of a hotel room.

And that’s where the trouble started.

The Van. I was thinking of calling it The Writer Wagon

You see, I’ve only ever been to New York twice. The first time was a school trip when I was in middle school, and the second was a couple of years ago and I never left Manhattan. I’d planned to park in one of the other boroughs and take the train into the city. the problem was, not having actually been there, I could find out where I was allowed to park, but I couldn’t figure out where I should park.

I had no idea what was a bad neighborhood and what was a good one. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Harlem is actually somewhat high class now. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time trying to plan my trip. The more I tried to come up with a plan, the more anxious I became. Add to this the fact that I was going to be on an extremely tight time schedule. I was going to have to leave as soon as I got off work two days before and figured I would arrive well after dark. Then I would need to find a branch of my gym, take a shower, then find a decent place to park so I could be up bright and early the next morning to pitch my book. Needless to say, that’s where mean ol’ Mr. Anxiety crept back in.

the more anxious I became about planning the trip, the more I began to neglect the whole reason I was going in the first place. I wasn’t writing. The more I failed to write, the more anxious I began to feel. The more anxious I got, the more I couldn’t write. And so on, and so on.

Still, once the snow melted, I decided it was time to start work on the van. The first thing I did was remove all the back seats to make room for my bed. Next, I took it for a little spin to see how it felt to drive it. I figured I’d take it to the grocery store and back. nothing major. Besides, you can fit a lot of groceries in an empty van. Everything was going fine until I got about three blocks away from my house and the van stalled. If I were still in my twenties, I would have pushed it the rest of the way, but sadly, I’m twice that and I’m just not the strong young bull I used to be. I ended up paying sixty dollars to have it towed three blocks, but there was a blizzard coming in and I needed to get it home. At least the tow truck driver gave me some insight as to the problem. it appears to be a problem with the fuel pump.

By the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted and questioning everything. I thought I might be able to afford a plane ticket and a hotel and did some research. With the money I had and perhaps a small loan, I discovered I would still be able to make the trip.

That’s when I did the other math.

When I’m writing regularly, I can average about a thousand words a day. I have had two or even three thousand word days, but those are a rarity. Still, I figured on a thousand a day as my goal. Then I counted up how many days I had left until my deadline. My heart sank. If I managed to meet my goal of a thousand words a day, I figured I could probably just reach my word count goal for the book just in time by the skin of my teeth. This would leave me with a very rough first draft to show agents. Unacceptable. Add to this the fact that lately I’ve been lucky to eke out five hundred words a day and I was completely sunk.

For a brief moment I considered going anyway just for the experience, but quickly threw that idea out the window. It would be silly and a waste to spend all that money just to show up empty handed. So, as much as it pained me to admit defeat, I made the wiser choice to save my money for next year when I plan to have multiple manuscripts to shop around.

Once I’d made my decision, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. While I’m still a bit disappointed I won’t be going this year, i’m already looking forward to next year and having all those agents fighting over me.

I gave myself two weeks to relax and not worry about writing, but that time is up. It’s still going to be a long road back to where I once was as a writer, but I’m ready to start the trek home five hundred words at a time.

And that’s where I should end this week’s update. I still have a lot to tell you, but I suppose I should save some for later. I’ll see you next week. Until then…

Don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Also, Amazon apparently now considers me an influencer, which means that they basically gave me my own Amazon store where I can recommend products. I do get a cut of anything you buy when you click my link. Unless you’d rather all your money go to a faceless corporation.  🙂 You can find my influencer page here. https://www.amazon.com/shop/justinmkellywriter

 

Writing Office Tour

I thought you might like a look around the room where I spend most of my free time coming up with stories to entertain you guys.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

I’ve also reopened my Amazon merch store, Scribe’s Station where I sell writing and book related T-Shirts.

Explaining My Absence

Just a video I posted on my YouTube channel explaining where I’ve been for the last couple of months.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

What’s Up Wednesday. Written On Thursday, Posted On Friday: Festival Of Books

Hey guys. I’m late again. I had planned to write a post yesterday right after I finished mowing my lawn. Unfortunately, while mowing I discovered a wasp nest in the worst possible way. I ran over it with my mower. Between the noise of the mower and the loud nineties music, I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. Once I did, my first thought was to jump in a lake or river to escape. Unfortunately, my house is at least a mile away from the nearest river. Instead, I ran for the safety of my house, swatting them all the way. Needless to say, I didn’t feel much up to posting after being attacked. Now, on to the meat of this post.

This weekend is the annual South Dakota Festival Of Books. It’s an event that trades off between Deadwood, SD and somewhere on the eastern side of the state every other year. Shannon and I, being book people, look forward to going every year it’s in Deadwood. Once I’ve got a couple of books to sell, I’m planning on making the trip east as well.

Every year, the festival attracts several fairly big-name authors. I wouldn’t consider any of them household names, but they’re still pretty well known authors who take time out of their busy schedules to teach classes for authors and other lovers of the printed word. I’m particularly looking forward to Sandra Brannan’s talk on Time Management for Writers, both because we consider her a personal friend and because I really need to learn to manage my time better.

Our absolute favorite part of the festival, however, is just walking around the exhibitor’s hall and meeting other authors as we add to our collection of autographed books.

Its a small collection so far, but its growing quickly.

It’s always great to connect with other authors who are on my level. I’ve made some great friends at this event over the years.

This year, I will also be doing what I can to invite more local writers to The Black Hills Writer’s Group. I feel bad that attendance has fallen so drastically during my time as Vice President, even though I’m told it happens sometimes. So I’m going to be handing out as many cards as I can to hopefully drive up membership.

So that’s really about it for today. I’m hoping to shoot some video or maybe even go live for a bit on my Facebook or Instagram page, so watch out for that.

Sadly, since I’m going to be very busy tomorrow, I probably won’t be posting a Flash Fiction Friday, but you never know.

Anyway, I’ll see you next week if not sooner.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Flash Fiction Friday Number 14: Spare

Okay guys. I’m finally back. My back still isn’t 100%, but I’m afraid it’s about as good as it’s going to get, at least without lost of strenuous work and possibly surgery. Anyway, I feel better than I have in quite awhile.

I’m declaring today the first day of Halloween season since today is the first day it’s really felt like Autumn. I know we still have another week until it’s officially Fall, but it seems everyone I know around here can feel the change of the season in their bones.

Today’s story isn’t a true flash piece since the upper limit of flash is 1000 words, and this one comes in at 1482, but I just couldn’t cut it down much more. Anyway, enjoy.

I call this one…

Spare

When my twin brother Dave died, it was like half of me had been cut out and discarded. We’d always had a special bond. I don’t mean we shared some sort of telepathy, although I could usually sense his emotions and he mine, even when we were nowhere near each other. I just mean that we were very close to each other.

Even after we moved out of our parents house and into our own separate lives, I usually ended my day with a call from him where we would catch each other up on our lives. At the end of every call, he would always sign off with “Talk to you tomorrow, Spare.”

That was his nickname for me. Spare. Since he was born first by a few minutes, he would always joke that he was the original, and I was just there to provide him with spare parts if he needed a transplant. If only I could have given him those spare parts after his accident, but there was no hope of saving him. He died from the car crash before they could even get him out of the wreck.

For months after, I wandered listlessly. I stopped going to work and started going to the bar. At first, my wife was as understanding as she could be. She knew how close Dave and I had been. She did her level best to be understanding, but after a few months, I could tell her patience was wearing thin. I just couldn’t find it in me to care. I think she was on the verge of kicking me out of the house when it happened.

I was sitting at Tiny’s, about to raise another shot of whiskey to my lips, when I heard a voice ask me if I hadn’t had enough. I looked around, the full shot glass grasped in my trembling hand. It wasn’t just any random voice. It was Dave.

I searched the bar with my eyes, hoping to see him even though I knew it wasn’t possible. We had buried Dave. I’d been the one to throw the first handful of dirt on his casket. There was no way Dave could be talking to me. Then I heard him again.

“Come on, Spare. What are you doing? You have a beautiful wife at home who loves you. Yet you’re sitting at a bar, spending her hard-earned money. For what? Are you trying to kill yourself so we can be together again? That’s just dumb. I’m here. You can put the drink down.”

I slowly realized that I wasn’t actually hearing him. He was in my head.

“Dave?” I asked.

“Shh. You don’t have to speak. Just think it and I’ll hear it. You don’t want people thinking you’re crazier than they already do.”

“But how are you here?”

“I don’t know. I just sensed you needed me and here I am. But the bad news is, I’m gonna need a little more practice at this. Just this little conversation is exhausting. I’m going to have to get some rest. You should too. Put the drink down, settle your tab, go home, and beg your wife for forgiveness. Oh, and don’t mention the fact that I’m in your head. Not even to her.”

“Okay Dave, goodnight.”

“Talk to you tomorrow, Spare.”

Hearing those words again, even in my head, gave me a chill. I never thought I’d hear them again. I quickly took his advice. Cindy was clearly dubious about my claims that I’d reform. Understandably, considering I was still very drunk. The next day, despite my hangover, I woke up early, put on my best suit, and set out to get my job back.

Unfortunately, the school had heard about my bender, and decided I shouldn’t be working with children.

As the weeks went by, I began to understand that word of my drinking had gotten around to the other schools in town as well. Nobody would hire me.

At least Dave was getting stronger. There were some days that I had to ask him to stop talking to me just so I could think.

One day, as I was resigning myself to flipping burgers while one of my former students lorded over me as my manager, Dave came up with a plan.

“Why don’t you look for something in the tech industry?”

“Because I was an English major. I don’t know anything about that stuff.”

“Yeah, but I do. Just let me take over during the interview. We’ll get the job. I promise.”

“Let you take over? How am I supposed to even do that?”

“Just let go. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Okay, that’s great. But let’s say you get us the job. What am I supposed to do when I’m expected to actually do the work?”

“Right. You should probably let me take over then too. We’ll just call it a time-share. Hey, you’re getting the longer end of the stick. I do all the work, you get to enjoy the off time with our, I mean your, wife.”

His little slip should have raised a red flag. But he was my brother. I quickly agreed to his plan. Letting him take control took a little practice, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. To tell the truth, it was kind of nice.  I could let my mind wander while Dave did all the heavy lifting. I even started working on that book I’d always planned to write. Only in my head, of course. I couldn’t actually write it while Dave was using my body.

True to his word, Dave got us the job. I was a little envious when we got our first check. It was enormous compared to my piddly teacher’s salary. Needless to say, even though Cindy was concerned about my sudden career change, that first check made her a believer.

It seemed we had the perfect arrangement. True to his word, Dave did all the work, then I took over in the evening to spend time with my wife. Then one morning everything changed. I was in the bathroom shaving when I felt Cindy’s arms wrap around me.

“Thank you.” She said.

“For what?”

“For last night. I was beginning to think you weren’t attracted to me anymore. Thank you for showing me I still turn you on.”

A pit settled into my stomach as I began to understand what had happened. The truth was, I had been avoiding sex with her because that was one thing I didn’t want to share with Dave. Apparently, Dave had other ideas.

“DAVE!” I screamed inside my head.

I could feel his reluctance to answer. Understandable, since I was trying to figure out a way to punch him without hurting myself.

“Look. I’m sorry bro.” He said, somewhat sheepishly. “It’s just that you were completely neglecting this beautiful woman.”

“You know damned well why I was avoiding sex.”

“What, because you didn’t want to share her? I’ve got news for you, we are sharing her. Besides, did you notice the look in her eyes every time you refused to touch her? You might have straightened up, but we were still losing her. I just did what needed to be done.”

“No. You did what you’ve always wanted to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. All our lives, you’ve gotten the best of everything. Better job, more money, nicer car. Cindy is the one thing that I had that you couldn’t. She chose me and it ate you up inside. Admit it.”

“Okay, fine. I admit it. You never deserved her. I deserved to have her, not you. You’re just the spare!”

I was stunned speechless. He’d never called me that like he really meant it. Now he was dead serious.

“What did you say?” I finally stammered.

“You heard me. You’re nothing. You’ve always been nothing. Just my spare.”

“That’s it. I’m telling her everything.” I said through angry tears.

“Go ahead.” He said, mockingly.

I opened my mouth to do just that. At least I tried to. I couldn’t make my mouth move. Dave started to chuckle. I tried to turn to her, to reach out to her. To do anything at all. All the while, Dave’s laughter rose.

“It’s okay, Spare. She never would have believed you anyway. Probably would have thrown you in the nuthouse where you belong. Unfortunately, I would’ve had to join you. I can’t have that. I’ve got big plans in store for the wife and I.”

Unable to do anything else, I began to scream inside our head, loud enough to make Dave wince.

“What’s wrong?” Cindy asked.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing. Just thinking about my brother.” I felt my mouth say.

“You still miss him. Don’t you?”

“I’m getting over it.” Dave said, as he smiled into the mirror and resumed shaving.

.     .     .

And there you have it. Like I said, I’ve declared this the official start of Halloween season, so I thought I’d kick it off with something at least moderately scary. I feel like this one needs to be made into a longer story. I’d like to do a much slower burn with Dave taking things over, but as long as it’s been since I’ve posted a story, I felt like I owed it to you to get something out.

Author’s edit: Even though this story was still written on Friday, it just wasn’t ready to be published until Saturday. Hey, give me a break. I’m still trying to get back on the horse.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll see you on What’s Up Wednesday.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

What’s Up Wednesday: I Want It All, And I Want It Now!!!

I’m back for real this time. At least I think I am unless I have another setback. But I really feel that I’m not just able, but eager to get back to work. There are even times when I don’t feel any discomfort in my back at all. It’s probably time to give yoga a serious try.

Anyway, now to the regularly scheduled post.

Based on the title, you might be assuming that I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen lately. Particularly this song.

While Queen is one of my favorite bands of all time, that just isn’t the case. Actually, I’ve been on an 80’s glam/hair rock kick for pretty much the past month. Although I guess you could technically put Queen in that group, (if you’re a dick,) but I’m talking about bands more like Poison and Motley Crue.

Anyway, the point is, I haven’t been listening to Queen lately. In fact, I hadn’t heard “I Want It All” in months. That just happens to be the song that plays on an endless loop in my head whenever my brain is trying to tell me it’s time to really grind. I’m finally feeling good enough that all I want to do is sit down in my office and put some serious words on the page.

It’s a good thing I’m feeling this way, because as of yesterday we are ten months away from Thrillerfest 2018, and more importantly, Pitchfest. I have every intention of actually having something finished by then. Hopefully multiple somethings. I am going to have a manuscript that, when an agent says yes, I can send off right away instead of having to make excuses as to why it isn’t ready like I did in 2016. We’ll call that one a trial run. Practice.

Now before you get too excited, keep in mind that this blog post is the first bit of actual writing I’ve done all week. I know it’s still a form of procrastination, but I just had to get my office back in order. Most of the last month has been spent flat on my back on the couch in there bingeing Supernatural. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I’m proud to say that, as of yesterday, I’ve gotten it back in ship shape and I’m ready to get to work. Now I just have to talk myself into spending my time at the hotel as productive as I plan to be while at home.

I have to. Especially since I’m considering adding yet another project to my inbox. I’ve never tried to write a murder mystery, but I’ve read plenty and I have a great main character in mind. Any murder/mystery/police-procedural fans out there?

Now for a bit of bad news. As much as I know you guys seem to like them, I can’t promise to put out a Flash Fiction Friday every week. (Not that I really made good on that promise anyway.) Don’t get me wrong. I will try to write them as often as possible, but I have to really focus on getting my novels and longer shorts done so I can submit them.

I think I’m going to give journaling a go yet again. I’ve tried it several times over the years, but I’ve never been able to stick with it. I’m considering making it part of my writing time each day. Jut a little warm up while I drink my “morning” coffee to get the brain working. I have an awesome leather-bound journal that’s just going to waste. I might as well use it.

I’ll probably put my daily word count in it just to keep me honest.

I know it’s probably too early in my career to even think about this. I’m not sure I even have “fans”. But I’m considering tarting a Patreon page. Would anyone be interested in supporting me? If so, what kind of rewards would you like to see? I’m thinking maybe exclusive access to short stories months before they’re seen anywhere else. Maybe a free signed copy of my book when it comes out, but I’m open to suggestions. I hate to seem like a greedy bastard, but the money sure would help and it would give me more time to write. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Anyway, I think that’s about all I’ve got for you this week. I’m probably forgetting loads of stuff, but there’s always next week.

I will try to put something up on Friday. Just don’t hate me if I don’t get around to it.

I realize that even though I may want it now, it’s going to take some time. Still, wanting it now means that I need to do my damnedest to get it done as soon as possible.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Flash Fiction Friday Number 13: Lucky Day

Hey guys. Sorry for being a day late this week. This being the thirteenth installment of Flash Fitction Friday, I wanted to do something on the theme of luck. Of course the first thing I thought of when I thought of luck was gambling. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent much time in casinos, so this one took a little more research than usual. Anyway, I call this one…

Lucky Day

“Let it Ride!” He shouted once again, earning him cheers from the crowd gathered around to watch and an eye roll from the boxman.

Jake couldn’t believe his luck. Not that he didn’t believe in it. He’d had more than his fair share. It was just that in his case, it was usually bad.

Jake shook the dice and let them roll from his fingers. He didn’t even bother to look as they bounced along the green felt.

“Seven.” Called the stickman, almost sounding bored.

He hadn’t thought much of it when he’d put a dollar in the old lady’s cup that morning. Just trying to do what he could to help. He’d even tried to wave away the crumpled little card she’d handed him in return, but something in her eyes had made him take the well-used fortune card. ‘It’s your lucky day.’ The faded ink promised.

“Yeah, thanks.” He’d said hollowly. Jake hadn’t had a truly lucky day in his entire life.

Jake made no move to retrieve his growing pile of chips. The stickman sighed and pushed the dice back to him. He was just about to throw them when the pit boss grabbed his arm. Jake smiled as they weighed and measured the dice yet again. He laughed as one of the Casino goons patted him down looking for any sort of cheating device. Of course, he found none.

Even after verifying the dice were legit, the pit boss produced a fresh set and slapped them into Jake’s hand with a wicked smile as the crowd jeered. Jake returned it with his own heartfelt one as he turned his back to the table and tossed the fresh dice over his shoulder.

“Eleven.” The stickman yelled.

The pit boss turned visibly red. Jake knew he was pressing his luck. Not so much with the dice, he knew his luck was solid there. The casino’s patience, however, was probably running out. Looking at his towering stack of chips, Jake knew he must be close to breaking the bank.

“Come on, Jake. Don’t you think you’ve won enough?” His friend Eddie asked, looking nervously at the pit boss who was now accompanied by three goons.

“Just a couple more rolls, then I’ll stop. I promise. It’s just nice to know what it’s like to be lucky for once.”

“I really think…” Eddie started.

“Okay, fine. Just one more, then I’m done.” He raised his voice so the crowd could hear. “Okay folks, last roll. All or nothing.”

The crowd cheered. Jake did a final little dance with the dice, spun around and threw them. He smiled as they came to a rest, sure of his victory.

“Snakeeyes. Craps!” Shouted the stickman.

Jake stood in stunned silence, trying to process what was happening as the stickman began raking in Jake’s towering pile of chips and the crowd melted away, including the gorgeous blonde who had been at his shoulder all night. He took the card out of his pocket and looked at it. ‘Not all that glitters is gold.’ It now read. He grabbed Eddie by the shoulder.

“What time is it?” Jake demanded.

Eddie fumbled with his phone for a moment.

“Just past midnight.”

Jake couldn’t help but laugh. Lady luck was sure as hell punctual.

“I guess that’s why they don’t have clocks in casinos.” Jake chuckled.

“Man Jake. All that money, just gone like that. You could have been rich. I mean, I guess technically you were rich for a little while. Now it’s all gone.”

“Eddie, I’m unlucky, not an idiot.” Jake said, reaching into his pocket and producing a handful of orange chips, each worth a thousand dollars. He flipped one to Eddie. “Come on. Let’s go cash out.”

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I wish it weren’t the case, but I can definitely relate to our protagonist.

I’ll see you again next Wednesday with another edition of What’s Up Wednesday. I still want to start answering your questions, so please send them to me at any of these places.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon .

What’s Up Wednesday: Big Changes

Hey guys.

First off, welcome. What do you think of the new digs? I know it’s a little bland so far, but I’d love your input on how I should decorate the place. Let me know in the comments.

Migrating the blog to my own site isn’t the only change I’ve made in the last week.

I’ve finally overcome a major stumbling block I’ve had for years.

First, I have something to confess. Even though I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, I’ve only ever submitted one piece for publication. To my credit, I aimed big and sent it to the New Yorker. Unfortunately, at the time, my work was nowhere near up to their standards. To be honest, I’m not sure it is even now. Of course, my submission was rejected. That was almost twenty years ago and I haven’t submitted anything since. Why not?

In a word, fear. I think George McFly summed it up best.

Even though the New Yorker rejection didn’t hurt so bad because I knew I was reaching, (probably why I chose that market in the first place) I was still terrified I’d get rejected by even small markets.

All those years, there was something I was missing. When it comes right down to it, the worst thing that could have happened had I been submitting pieces all this time is for everything I submitted to have been rejected. While that’s an unlikely outcome, it’s effectively what happened from being too afraid to submit anything at all. I’m still, as yet, unpublished by a professional publication.

Having realized this, I’m proud to say that in the past week, I’ve submitted two stories to anthologies. I’m also much more confident in my work so I’m very hopeful that at least one of them gets selected. I’ve decided to only submit to professional paying markets, so the competition is fierce, but I feel like accepting anything less would be shortchanging myself, and I’ve done that long enough. At least all that time where I wasn’t submitting was spent working on my craft.

I’m also preparing other stories to send to magazines and other anthologies so hopefully I’ll have good news to report soon. If nothing else, eventually I’ll have enough stories to publish a collection on my own.

Also, by popular demand, I’m trying to figure out a way to sell autographed copies of my books from my site. Of course, all I have to offer at this point are these.

But hopefully I’ll have more to offer very very soon.

So, other than the fact that we’re roasting out here and praying the gods show us some mercy soon, that’s about all I have to tell you this week.

I’ll see you on Friday with another flash piece. Until then, try to keep cool and face your fears.

Please like this post and follow this blog. I’m not sure if the migration process brought over all my followers so you may have to re-follow.

Don’t forget to stalk me.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 12: The Unwanted

Hey guys. Welcome to another edition of Flash Fiction Friday.

This week’s offering is something a little different. I’ve never written much in the way of westerns. With the exception of the Lonesome Dove series, I haven’t even read much. Still, I thought I’d challenge myself by writing a story in an unfamiliar genre. So, without further ado, I call this one…

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The Unwanted

The flaming twig briefly illuminated the bounty hunter’s craggy face as he used it to light his cigarette. Once again the bound figure sitting across the fire from him begged for his freedom.

“Please, you don’t have to do this. My family has money. I can pay you whatever you want.”

“You know what it says on your wanted poster?”

“How the hell should I know? I didn’t even know I was wanted ’til you showed up and arrested me. You could have at least waited and let me get my money’s worth from that girl.”

“It says dead or alive.” The bounty hunter said, ignoring his captive’s complaint.

“So?” The prisoner said, sulking.

“So if you don’t shut up, I may just decide to take the quieter option.”

The prisoner stayed quiet for about a minute before he resumed his begging.

“I ain’t even done nothin’ wrong.”

“Ain’t for me to decide. That’s the jury’s job.”

“I don’t stand no kind of chance with a jury. Soon as they find out I rode with them boys, even for a little bit, they’re gonna’ be callin’ for my head.”

“Then I reckon you made your bed when you started ridin’ with ’em.”

“Hell, I didn’t know who they was at the time. Once I figured it out, I got away soon as I could.”

“Well, maybe if you tell the jury that, they’ll let you go if you testify against ’em.”

“Ain’t no way I’m doin’ that. The jury might hang me, but that ain’t nothin’ compared to what they’ll do to me.”

The sound of approaching hoofbeats drifted across the prairie and the prisoner jumped up and tried to run. The bounty hunter yanked on the rope attached to his legs and he fell on his face in the dirt.

“Now where do you think you’re goin’?”

“Please. You gotta’ let me go. That’s them comin’ for me. I’d know the sound of that gimpy horse of Dave’s anywhere.”

“You sure about that kid?” The bounty hunter asked as he stood up and brushed the dust from his trousers. Without waiting for an answer, he checked the loads in his pistol.

“Yes! Let me go or they’ll kill me.”

“Just lay there in the dirt and let me take care of this.” The bounty hunter said, holstering his pistol.

As he did, three figures on horseback emerged from the darkness. Their faces half-covered with black handkerchiefs turned brown with dust..

“Evening boys.” The bounty hunter said. “Coffee’s fresh if you want a cup.”

“We ain’t here for coffee, Old Man.”

“Well then, I don’t know what else I might be able to help you with.”

“We’re here for him.” The leader said, pointing to the whimpering lump on the ground.”

“‘Fraid he ain’t for sale.”

“I didn’t say nothin’ about buying him. We’re just gonna take him.”

“Well, son. I got a bit of a problem with that.”

“I don’t give a da…” The outlaw started to yell before he was cut off by three loud gunshots followed by three thuds as the outlaws fell from thier mounts.

The prisoner slowly looked up from the dirt only to see the bounty hunter standing there with his pistol still smoking in his hand. As he watched, the old man, suddenly not looking so old any more, holstered his pistol and drew his huge Bowie knife. He turned toward his prisoner.

“Well, I guess I don’t need you anymore.” The bounty hunter said menacingly.

“No. Please. I promise I won’t talk no more. Take me in. I’ll go happily.”

The bounty hunter leaned in low with the knife. The prisoner tensed, waiting for the killing blow. Instead, he suddenly felt his hands and feet free. He lay there in the dirt, trying to process what had happened. By the time he realized he was being set free and had gotten to his feet, the bounty hunter had tied the dead outlaws to the backs of two of their mounts. He held the reins of the third, Dave’s gimpy nag, out to the prisoner. The prisoner gave him a questioning look.

“You’d best get on out of here.” The bounty hunter said.

“You mean you’re not gonna’ take me in?”

“For what? You never was wanted for anything but to give testimony on these three. I don’t guess they’ll need you for that no more.” The old man chuckled.

“But then why… You were using me for bait.”

“Sorry ’bout that.” The old man said, flipping him a silver dollar. “The next girl’s on me.”

“You son of a…”

“Don’t finish that sentence, boy. I could still bring you in and say I caught you ridin’ with ’em. Now git.”

The man gave the bounty hunter one last dirty look before mounting Dave’s old horse and riding for town.

So that’s it. Like I said, I’ve never done a western before. How did I do? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on my social pages.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

 

Flash Fiction Friday Number 11: Haunted

Hey guys. Welcome to another Flash Fiction Friday. I don’t really have much to say in the way of prologue this week, so let’s just get to it, shall we? I call this one, Haunted.

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Haunted

I squeezed my already closed eyes even tighter, doing my best impersonation of a sleeping human being. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I at least had to try.

“Hey. Are you awake?” He asked, his whisper nearly a hiss.

I felt his cold, clammy hand on the back of my neck and unsuccessfully tried to suppress a shudder. It wasn’t that I was afraid. I just knew how hard the residue left by his touch would be to clean off.

He wasn’t a bad sort, for a ghost. In fact, other than a little moaning in the night and the occasional rattling of chains, he was a nearly perfect roommate. Sure, the noises in the night took some getting used to and I had to clean up the occasional ectoplasm stain, but I never had to worry about my house being broken into when I was away and he never ate my food. Or any, for that matter. Besides, I’d known the house was haunted when I signed the lease. How else was someone supposed to get a place in the heart of the city on my salary?

Still, I’d thought we’d gotten past the whole waking me in the middle of the night thing.

“Mortal. Please wake up.”

“I told you, my name is Jason, and I have to work in the morning.” I said into the pillow.

“But you have to do something.”

“All I have to do is get old and die. Then I can stay up all night with you and we can have a chain rattling party, or whatever you guys like to do, but as long as I need money to eat and pay rent, I need my job. So let me sleep.”

“Can… can I at least sleep with you?”

“What? No! You’d get your slime all over my sheets and I’d never get it out.”

“But I’m scared!”

This gave me pause. I’d heard him moan before, but never with this particular pleading tone. I rolled over and sat up.

“What could you, a ghost who has been dead for years, possibly have to be afraid of?” I asked, looking him in the sockets where his eyes should have been.

He lifted a slightly glowing hand and pointed to my bedroom door.

“Him.” Was all he said.

I looked toward the door and saw, in the deep darkness beyond the jamb, a pair of glowing red eyes staring back at me.

 

And that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have another one for you next Friday.

Until then, be sure to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr