Flash Fiction Friday Number 19: The Golden Apple

Okay. I know it’s been over a month since my last Flash Fiction Friday, but we’ve been dealing with the aftermath of a death in the family. Also, this one took a bit longer to write. Partly because this one isn’t exactly flash fiction. it falls more into short story territory.

Anyway, as you may remember, I was going to write a less literal, more adult story inspired by the same roll of the dice used to write Rory’s Apple Adventure. FFF #18 . To see the actual roll, click here. Anyway, I’ll stop boring you. I give you…

The Golden Apple

“Robby. I need that report on my desk by three.” Mister Simmons said, turning and walking away without waiting for an answer.

“Sir?” Rory said.

“Yes?” Mr. Simmons paused without turning back around, clearly annoyed at having his time wasted.

“Never mind.” Rory said, deciding it would be better to answer to someone else’s name rather than upset the boss.

“Okay then. Remember, two O-clock.”

Rory got to work, cursing himself for losing himself an hour.

At ten, his alarm went off. He briefly considered skipping his break, but thought better of it. Even though he didn’t really need to go, it would be another two hours until his lunch break. By then, he knew, he would probably be dying. Besides, he relished his little breaks. Even when he didn’t really need to go, he loved to lock himself in the stall, pull his feet up and shut his eyes for a few minutes. On the rare occasions it didn’t smell too bad, he would even practice some of the deep breathing exercises his therapist had suggested.

He was doing just that when the door opened and two men walked in, talking to each other. He didn’t recognize the voices, but their shoes were nicer than anyone on his floor usually wore. Rory curled himself into an even tighter ball, feeling somehow guilty for no reason whatsoever.

“God, I hate using the can down here with the commoners. When are they going to get the executive wash room fixed?”

“Not for at least another week.”

“Ugh. They don’t even have decent soap in here.”

“Can’t let these peons get a taste of the good life, can we? Besides, once we turn the golden apple on…”

“Shh.”

Rory saw one of the men walk past his stall, bent low, checking for feet. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when the executive moved past, apparently satisfied that the bathroom was empty.

“Anyway, like I was saying, once we turn that golden apple on, our worries will be over.”

“Don’t you feel at least a little bad for all those people? I mean, this is their savings we’re talking about.”

“That’s the thing. It’s savings. They’re not using it. It’s just sitting in a bank account. These people don’t know how to spend their money. It’s just going to rot in their account until they die.”

“I guess.”

“Look at it this way. Taking all that money and spending it will be just the kickstart the economy needs.”

“But how? We’ll be spending it in another country.”

“Details, details.”

“Well, if it’s going to happen, I hope it happens soon. The thought of all those account numbers sitting there on that hard drive in Julian’s office makes me nervous. If we get caught…”

“We won’t. Besides, even if they raid us, like you said, it’s in Julian’s office. Connected to his computer. He’s the one who goes down for trying to rip off all those poor people. We had no idea he was capable of such a thing. Poor bastard doesn’t even know he’s committing the crime of the century.”

The other man laughed.

“So when do we turn it on?”

“We just need a few thousand more accounts. Maybe a week? Put it this way. I’d start packing now. Once we flip the switch, we’re gonna want to scoot. Best to be in some nice non-extradition country before anyone figures out what we’ve done.”

“Good thinking.” He laughed as the bathroom door opened and the men walked out.

Rory couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. Were these men really planning on cleaning out people’s savings accounts? He quickly washed his hands and exited the bathroom.

He made a beeline for Mister Simmons’ office and burst in without knocking.

“What’s the meaning of this?” Simmons shouted.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but this is really important.” Rory said.

“Do you have my report ready?” Simmons asked.

“Well, uh, no sir. But I just heard these two guys in the bathroom. They were talking about something called the golden apple. They’re going to…”

Simmons’ eyes widened at the mention of the golden apple.

“That’s enough. I’ll not have you making up wild stories as an excuse for not finishing your work on time. I’m afraid you’re done here at Oak Tree Investments. Clean out your desk, Ricky.”

Rory turned to go.

“Sir. One more thing.”

“What now?”

“It’s Rory. I want you to remember that.”

“Get out!”

As Rory packed his things, he wondered what to do next. Clearly Simmons was in on the scam. Who knew who else? Possibly everyone above his pay level. Except for Julian of course, whoever he was. Rory couldn’t go to the cops without some sort of proof. He’d just look like another disgruntled employee.

Then it hit him. He did know someone who might be able to help.

He looked at his pitiful box of posessions and realized it was all meaningless. He left it on his former desk as he walked out. As he passed through the glass doors of his building, he expected his anxiety to kick in at being suddenly unemployed for the first time since high-school, but instead he felt free in a way he’d never thought possible.

. . .

Rory wished he’d changed before going to see Mark. He stuck out like a sore thumb walking around in his suit in the commune Mark had joined after he’d gotten out of prison. Even worse, everyone he passed eyed him warily. Nobody answered when he asked for Mark. Still, nobody bothered him, either. Just as he was giving up hope, he heard a familiar voice call out to him.

“Well, well. If it ain’t the lion’s roar himself.” Mark said, hanging out of the door of a small trailer. He looked so much different than he had the last time Rory had seen him that he was glad Mark had spotted him. He wasn’t sure he would have recognized this man with long hair and a scraggly beard.

“Hey Mark. How have you been?”

“Mark’s gone. It’s Sunflower now.” His friend said. Rory waited for the punchline, but none came. “I changed it when I decided to cut that noose from my neck.”

“You mean when you were busted for hacking.”

“So what brings you out to the land of the hippies?” Sunflower asked, ignoring Rory’s comment.

“I have a little computer problem I need some help with.”

“No can do, partner. I’m not about that life any more.”

“Uh huh.” Rory said, eyeing the impressive array of antennae emerging from the roof of the small camper.

Mark/Sunflower followed his line of sight and sighed.

“You always were smarter than you let on. I guess you might as well come inside.”

The inside of the trailer was so full of old computers, Rory wondered where Sunflower slept.

Sunflower handed Rory a beer that seemed to appear out of nowhere and sat on the small patch of floor in the center of the trailer. Rory did the same.

“So what is it you need? And it’d better be good.” Sunflower said.

Rory quickly told him everything he’d heard in the bathroom, all the while, Sunflower leaned closer. Rory was worried that if his jaw dropped any more, it might actually scrape the floor.

“Those sons of…” He finally said.

“Right?” Rory agreed.

“We’ve got to stop them.” Sunflower said, jumping up and opening a terminal.

“What are you doing?”

“Seeing what I can find on this golden apple.”

“I doubt you’ll find anything on the internet.”

“Internet? I’ve been deep in their system since long before they had me arrested. A digital fly on the wall if you will.”

Rory sat back and drank his beer as Sunflower typed furiously. Before he’d finished it, Sunflower found what he was looking for.

“Bingo.”

“You got it? Wipe it clean.”

“I found it, yes. But cracking it is another story. Security to this thing is iron clad. I’m going to need to be in the same room with it to get into it. Besides, I wouldn’t wipe it anyway.”

“Why not?”

“Because. If I wipe it, there’s no evidence. If there’s no evidence, these guys don’t go to prison and do it again in a couple of months. Do you still have your security badge?”

Rory looked down and saw it was still clipped to his belt.

“Yeah, why?”

Sunflower snatched it from him.

“Because, one of us is going to need to get in there. Now who do you want to be? Be careful. Whoever’s identity you use is going to be in a buttload of trouble.”

“Simmons.” Rory said without hesitation.

“Good choice.” Sunflower laughed.

. . .

Rory tried not to look nervous as he used his reprogrammed badge to open the doors and walked up to the desk where a very muscular black man in a uniform sat watching some action movie on his tablet. Rory almost breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that this was a guard he’d never seen before. The name on his tag said Alphonso.

Alphonso quickly stopped his movie and stowed his tablet when he saw Rory.

“Hello sir, may I help you?” the guard asked with a sheepish grin.

“Just need to finish a little paperwork that didn’t get done.” Rory answered. He could feel his palms getting clammy as the lie left his lips.

“Certainly, sir. I just need to see your badge.”

Rory handed it over, willing his hand not to shake. Alphonso studied the security badge for a long moment. Rory felt a sheen of sweat break out on his forehead.

Finally, Alphonso handed the badge back and smiled.

“You have a good evening, Mister Simmons.”

“You too, Alphonso. And don’t worry. It’ll be our little secret.” Rory said, nodding toward the spot where Alphonso had hidden his tablet.

“Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.”

Rory flashed him another smile that turned to a look of panic as he turned toward the elevators.

As soon as the doors slid shut, Rory almost pressed the button for his old floor out of habit before remembering that this time, he was going all the way to the top.

“Okay. I’m in.” Rory said.

The earpiece Sunflower had given him crackled to life.

“Okay. You’re looking for the office of Julian Walker.”

Rory found it quickly, but when he turned the handle, it didn’t move.

“It’s locked.” Rory said. “What now?”

“Give me a second.” Sunflower said.

A moment later, Rory heard the electronic lock click. Rory tried the handle again and the door opened.

“Got it.” Rory whispered.

“Good, now put the device in the computer and I’ll take care of the rest.”
Rory did as he was asked and waited. He felt himself starting to tremble with the tension.

“Comeoncomeoncomeon.” Rory said under his breath.

“I’m working as fast as I can.” Sunflower said. Then a moment later, “Jesus!”

“What?” Rory asked, panicking.

“They’ve got the banking info of everyone who’s ever done business with ol’ Oak tree Financial. Not to mention the employees.”

“Jesus.” Rory repeated back.

“Aaaaannnnnd, got it.” Sunflower said, finally.

Rory snatched the device out of the computer. As he did, the printer whirred to life.

“Did you do that?” Rory whispered as loudly as he could, startled.

“Yes. We need a hard copy just in case.”

As soon as the printer stopped, Rory grabbed the sheaf of papers and shoved them down the front of his pants.

“What about the apple?” Rory asked, looking at the round device plugged into the back of the computer. “Shouldn’t I take it?”

“Not if you want to take these guys down. They need to be caught with it. Now get out of there.”

As Rory rode the elevator down. He was overcome with an odd sense of peace. It was almost over. He just had to walk past Alphonso, who was probably still engrossed in his movie, and it would be over.

The elevator doors opened and Rory found himself looking down the barrel of Alphonso’s revolver. Rory didn’t know much about guns, but it looked like a big one to him.

“What’s going on, Al?” Rory asked, trying to sound casual.

“I looked up Simmons in the database. You ain’t him. Now come out of there slowly and get down on the ground.”

“Look. I can explain.” Rory said.

“Sure you can.”

“Can I just show you something?”

Alphonso thought for a moment.

“Okay, but you’d better make it quick. Cops are on their way.”

Rory pulled up his shirt very slowly, trying not to get shot, to show Alphonso the papers.

“I’m just going to pull these papers out.”

“Okay, but no funny stuff.”

“Never.” Rory said, dripping with sweat.

As soon as Rory had the papers in his hand, Alphonso relaxed just a bit. Rory began rifling through the papers until he found the page he was looking for.

“Let’s see. Alphonso Simpson is it?”

“How’d you know that?”

Rory then rattled off the series of numbers after his name. Rory hadn’t realized someone with such dark skin could turn so pale.

“That’s my bank account.” Alfonso said, surprised. “How’d you get that?”

“Lower that thing and I’ll tell you.”

Alphonso thought for a brief moment and then pointed his gun at the floor, still ready to bring it back to the ready if he needed to. Rory, as quickly as he could, explained everything about Simmons, overhearing the execs talking, and the golden apple.

“Sonofabitch.” Alphonso said. “You’d better go, before the cops get here.”

Rory took a couple of steps before turning around.

“Here. Give them this when they get here. Tell them everything I told you.” Rory said, handing him the papers.

“And where do I say I got ‘em?”

“Tell them Rory gave them to you.” Rory said, before turning and walking out through the glass door.

As he walked down the street, listening to the approaching sirens, Rory felt as close as he would ever get to walking away coolly from an exploding building. Still something was eating at him.

“Congratulations, buddy. You did it.” Sunflower said through the earpiece.

“Yeah.” Rory said.

“What’s wrong?”

“I was just thinking. These guys are already so rich, they’ll probably just hire a bunch of high-priced lawyers and get off anyway.”

“Leave that to me.” Sunflower said, almost laughing.

“What are you going to do?”

“Well, I made a copy of the apple.”

“So?”

“I’m going to turn it on.”

“You’re what?!”

“Don’t worry. You see, there were actually two lists of accounts. Those to be drained, and another set of accounts listed as untouchables. Guess who those belong to.”

“I still don’t see…”

“Just give me a second.”

Rory could hear him typing through the earpiece.

“Just a bit of magic from my own little fingers as I switch the lists, and boom. The rat bastards are as broke as we are… were.”

Rory did his best not to celebrate right there on the sidewalk as the first cop car rushed past him.

“So what did you do with the money?” Rory asked, finally.

“Most of it’s safe in an untraceable offshore account that only the two of us will be able to access.”

“And the rest?”

I took the liberty of opening a secret trust fund for the children of one Alphonso Simpson to be delivered when they reach college. Now I’ve got to go pack. You should probably do the same.”

 

And there it is. Proof that you can interpret the dice any way you want. In this case, Rory has transformed from a literal sheep, to a sheepish man. The magical sunflower has turned into a hippie named Sunflower with magic-like hacking abilities. I think you can figure out the rest of the symbolism on your own.

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.

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.

What’s Up Wednesday: The Rebirth & Goals For 2018

Hey guys.

As you can see, I’ve brought back What’s Up Wednesday. I know some of you were disappointed when I decided to discontinue it, so I’ve come up with a compromise. As much as I’d like to post an update every Wednesday, the fact of the matter is, my life just isn’t that interesting. As a matter of fact, most weeks, I could just post the same half-dozen sentences and be done with it. On that note, I’ve decided to start posting updates every two to four weeks. That should give me enough material for a reasonable post. If something really exciting happens, I might to a special edition.

Anyway, on to the update.

If you follow my YouTube channel, and you really should, https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter you’ll already know some of this.

In case you haven’t, here goes.

The end of last year really kind of sucked. I started November with the intention of participating in NaNoWriMo. I did reasonably well the first couple of days. Then I had my first slip. Something came up, causing me to miss a couple of days. No big deal. Instead of having to do 1,667 words a day, I would have to up it to 1,729. I even had a really good day the next day and almost caught back up. Then I had another bad day, then another, then another. You see where this is going. The worst part is, the more days I fell behind, the more that daily requirement grew. In my mind’s eye, I could see it towering over me, threatening to crush me. Before long, I could see hairline cracks in the base that grew wider day by day. Even worse, the further I fell behind, the less I found myself able to write. Of course, this is a very flowery way of saying that my failure to keep up with the daily word-count was severely triggering my anxiety. Finally, I had no other choice but to drop out of NaNo for my own mental health. Unfortunately, by this point it was too late. I spent the rest of the month absolutely hating myself.

We’d planned to visit my brother and his wife in Texas for Thanksgiving. It had been my plan to still spend some time writing every day. I even brought along my travel laptop for that purpose. Unfortunately, having already decided I was a failure, it never made it out of my backpack. Don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun while we were down in Texas, but deep down, I spent the whole time feeling like a fraud and a failure.

Upon returning home, Shannon discovered that her father had passed away while we were gone. Out of respect for her, I won’t give any details. I only tell you this because it severely effected us. I honestly hadn’t given much thought into how much goes into making final arrangements for a loved one. I kept having conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, It’s terrible that the grieving have to deal with so many practical things that they don’t really have time to mourn. On the other, it might be a blessing in disguise that it gives them something to take their minds off of it while the wound is still fresh, letting their loss sink in before they have time to really deal with things. I don’t know. What do you think?

That, of course, brings us to the Christmas season. I did my best to go through the motions, but try as I might, I just couldn’t get into the spirit. I usually try to do most of my shopping online. Once I feel comfortable with the gifts I have for everyone, I like to take one tour of the mall (a place I normally avoid like the plague) to see if I can find any last minute gifts for anyone on my list. Since I’m pretty much done, I don’t feel any pressure, and if someone wants to fight over anything, I can just let them have it. My little mall adventure usually allows me to really get into the spirit as I listen to the Christmas music over the P.A. system and look at all the cool little holiday displays. This year, I even tried to do a fun little follow me around video through the mall. Unfortunately, as you can see on the video, I started off in a bad mood which only got worse as I tried to force the holiday spirit.

It was only then that I realized what had happened. My anxiety over everything had progressed to a bout of full blown depression. I used to deal with depression a lot, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve had an attack, especially one this severe. The good thing is, once I properly identified it, I was able to use a few tricks to pull me out of it and on the 23rd, I woke up and I was all elves and reindeer. Christmas eve and Christmas day were a lot of fun. I especially loved watching everyone open the gifts I’d gotten them. I think most of them were a hit.

The week between Christmas and New Year was pretty uneventful. While I usually scoff at resolutions, I decided this was as good a time as any to make some changes in my life. I attempted to do a live video on New Year’s day where I made a symbolic fresh start by cleaning out my desk drawer on camera in preparation for all the time I’m going to be spending in the office this year. Unfortunately, thanks to a crappy connection that day, the video turned out very choppy and grainy. Still, I left it up on my channel in the spirit of “There’s nowhere to go but up.”

Since the video is kind of hard to watch and I also forgot to list a few of them in the video. I’ll list my goals for the year here.

First, and most importantly, write every single day. I’m not going to impose word counts on myself for fear of triggering another anxiety attack, but I’ve got to at least sit down and write something on a daily basis.

Finish at least one of my novels in progress. In July, I’m taking another trip to NYC for Thrillerfest and Pitchfest and I’ve absolutely got to have something to show potential agents and publishers.

Put out at least two new installments of The Children Of Pyrelia series.

Self-publish an anthology of short stories and flash fiction. Most of the Flash Fiction will be pulled from Flash Fiction Friday.

Try to publish a new Flash Fiction Friday post every week. This last week or so, I’ve been brainstorming story ideas like crazy so I never find myself without a story to write.

Start making videos in which I read one of my story and post them once a week.

Weekly YouTube videos about different aspects of the writer’s life in general. Some of these may just be about the rest of my life as well. Riding my motorcycles, hiking, fishing, etc.

Learning to lock myself away in my office to work even when I’d rather be spending time in the living room with Shannon.

Doing whatever it takes to get me out of my night job at the motel. Preferably transitioning to being a full-time writer, even if I have to start writing something other than fiction to make ends meet. This one was driven home just last night when a drunken guest tried to attack me. Luckily, I made it clear that I wasn’t afraid of him and he backed off, but it could have easily turned out very different.

Heavily marketing myself and doing whatever I can to get more readers/followers both on here and YouTube.

Starting a monthly newsletter and getting people to subscribe to it. If you’re interested, please go to my main page and scroll to the bottom to subscribe. www.justinmkelly.com

Figuring out Patreon and praying to the gods for patrons willing to help me achieve my dreams of being a full-time writer.  https://www.patreon.com/justinmkellywriter

And finally, the old standby. I’ve got to start taking better care of myself. I used to want to get in better shape to look better. Now I just don’t want to die young.

I may have forgotten a few, but you get the idea. It’s time to start taking my career seriously if I ever want to be a success.

Anyway, I guess that’s about it for this installment. I’ll see you in a few weeks to let you know how the resolutions are going. Now I’d better finish publishing this thing while it’s still Wednesday.

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: A Breakdown, Home Free, & Bookapalooza

Hey guys. I guess it’s that time again where I tell you about my week.

To be honest, the few days between my last post and the weekend were relatively uneventful. I worked, I tried unsuccessfully to get the house clean, and I worked again.

Then on Saturday, we started the day by haunting our house for Halloween. Due to a death in the family a year ago, we didn’t do much to celebrate our favorite holiday, so I was determined to be prepared for it this year. We hung up all of our decorations, including several decals which were meant to stick to the wall, but are already peeling off. Still, we got the house relatively spooky.

After that, it being possibly one of the last truly gorgeous days of the year, I jumped on the new bike to take it for a good test ride. Since my old bike just wasn’t good at keeping up, I jumped on the freeway and really let her rip. Since Shannon and my mom read this blog, I won’t say how fast I got it up to, but I chickened out before coming anywhere near its top speed.

Once I got into Sturgis, I took it to the parts shop both to show it off and look at accessories. It’s nice having a bike made within the past twenty years. You can actually still get parts for it.

After spending time at the parts shop, I decided to take the long way home via Vanocker Canyon, a beautiful ride through the black hills.

As I was leaving Sturgis, my speedometer stopped working. Now if I had been smart, I would have taken it to a friend’s house and left it there until I could arrange a trailer to take it home, but I wasn’t about to let a little mechanical trouble ruin my day, so on up the canyon I went. (Yes, I’m stupid sometimes.) I was absolutely loving the way the new bike took the turns. I felt much braver on this one than on my old bike because it sits lower and has a heavier, more stable base.

Then, about ten miles in, the engine started to sputter. Again, I should have turned around and nursed it back to town, but I didn’t. I hoped it was just a hiccup that would even out, but it didn’t. After about another mile, it died completely. I coasted as far as I could and then sat there on the side of the road for a few minutes, begging it to start, but I was getting absolutely nothing at all from the starter switch. I called Shannon to ask her to get ahold of a friend of ours who could rescue me with his trailer. Luckily I had just enough signal to make the call. I was told it would be about forty-five minutes. Luckily he was available to come to the rescue at all.

As I waited, I got a brilliant idea. I would turn around and push it back up the hill I had just coasted down. Beyond that hill was a ten percent grade for a good couple of miles. I figured if I could get it rolling fast enough, I might just be able to pop-start it. It took me what seemed like forever, but I finally crested the hill pushing my beast and jumped on. After catching my breath, I let go of the brake and began to coast. I started going faster and faster. I still had no speedometer, but I felt like I must be going at least the posted speed. I popped it into gear and let go of the clutch. The engine felt like it revved to life. I squeezed the clutch lever back in, hoping to heat the engine running, but nothing. Again and again I tried, but no luck. My new baby was well and truly dead.

Finally, the ten-percent grade leveled out and once again I found myself on the side of the road. Unfortunately, while I was a little closer to town, I didn’t have any shade in my new location. I probably should have just stayed put. I did have several people stop and ask if I needed help, but I told them I was good. Sitting there waiting, I came to the conclusion that since I knew for a fact the battery had a full charge when I left the house, there must be something wrong with the charging system.

At least I got a little laugh while I waited when a big bad biker passed me on his Harley blasting the new T-Swift song.

Not too long after, the cavalry arrived. I still can’t thank him enough. I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise. We got the bike loaded up fairly quickly considering how heavy it is, and he drove me home.

With the bike stored safely in the garage for another day, I quickly bathed and dressed to go see Home Free.

They were absolutely amazing to watch, even if our typically choice seats were ruined due to the venue adding extra folding chairs right in front of us.

Still, it was an amazing show.

After the show, we went to the dinner we were forced to miss due to my mechanical mishap.

On Sunday, it was time for one of my favorite days of the year. The day which we’ve come to call bookapalooza. It’s the day that Shannon, my librarian girlfriend, has to spend her yearly budget. It’s so much fun to walk into a bookstore and buy several hundred dollars worth of books. I had meant to get a picture of them all, but I forgot. Unfortunately, my brilliant idea to push my bike the day before got my back hurting again. Luckily it’s not as bad as it was.

And really, that’s about been my week. I’m still trying to get into a regular writing schedule, but it seems there’s always something I need to do. Thankfully, the hotel is starting to calm down so I can start getting some writing done there at least. I’m almost looking forward to winter because then people won’t expect me to leave the house so much. I said ALMOST, nature. Don’t make with the snow just yet.

Oh yes, one more exciting thing. My brother has decided to take me to Ireland for my birthday in February, so I’m thrilled at the thought of seeing the motherland. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long for my passport renewal to go through.

Well, that’s about it. I’m still working on that Halloween story for you guys. It’s jut not coming out quite the way I want it so far. Hopefully it’ll be out before the 31st. But hey, if it’s not, I can just say I’m imitating the Simpsons.

I’ll see you guys soon.

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: Finally Healed & A New Set Of Wheels

Hey guys. I know I’ve promised this before, but I think I’m actually back this time. You see, something amazing has happened this week. I’ve experienced the first couple of pain-free days I’ve had in months. Sure, the back will twinge a little if I move wrong or try to pick up something I shouldn’t, but over all, I’m feeling pretty much back to normal.

As usual, the South Dakota Festival Of Books was a blast. First of all, I think Deadwood is one of the prettiest towns in the Black Hills. Not to mention the fact that it’s always fun to get together with fellow book lovers and authors. Not only did I get to see friends like Sandra Brannan, Anne Charles and Adrian Ludens, I got to meet many more new friends and some potential connections for book cover artists. We added a few volumes to our autographed copies shelf. Hopefully I’ll have a book to sell myself the next time it comes around.

I’ve been submitting more short stories for publication, but no bites so far. To be fair, I’m doing things a little backward and starting at the top of the list and working my way down. No sense selling a story for peanuts when one of the big names might want to actually pay for it. Besides, I’m getting a little old for that starting at the bottom stuff. I’m looking forward to the day I can report my first sale to you. I’m confident my writing is up to par, it’s just that competition is so fierce for even the non-paying markets.

I do have to confess that work on the novels isn’t going as smoothly as I had hoped it would. I would give excuses as to why, but they all come down to the same evil word that has plagued artists from the dawn of time. PROCRASTINATION. I can’t help but look at the amount of work involved in even finishing a first draft and think, “I just don’t have it in me tonight/today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Then I sit around and binge Netflix.

The good news is, I’m almost caught up on Supernatural. Of course, the new season starts this month.

The bad news is July and Thrillerfest/Pitchfest will be here before I know it. I don’t want to go empty handed again.

In personal news, I finally got myself a new bike and it’s a monster straight from the gates of hell. Of course I mean that in the best possible way.

I went from this rather anemic ’83 vt500.

1506703_10152106608869211_8339966623726373995_n

To this beastly ’02 VTX 1800.

vtx1800 medium

It’s hard to tell from a picture, but this thing is a beast. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of them eating Harleys alive. I actually have to be careful about how hard I twist the throttle, because the torque makes me feel like I’m going to slide off the back. I love it. It’s also much more comfortable than my little 500. My legs are out in front of me instead of tucked under like they are on the 500.

That’s not to say I’m not going to still ride the 500. The 1800 obviously doesn’t get nearly the gas mileage the 500 does, so I’m probably going to use the 500 for running around town and to work and back during the summer. Except for during Sturgis. I can’t wait to show this monster off to all the Harley guys.

Unfortunately, last night was the first freeze, so riding season is just about over. Still, I wouldn’t have gotten such a great deal otherwise.

That’s about it for this week. I’ll hopefully be back next week with another update. I’m also working on something spooky to post for a FFF sometime in the month of October, so keep an eye out for that.

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

What’s Up Wednesday: Happy Birthday America

Hey guys. welcome to another What’s Up Wednesday.

This past week has been interesting to say the least. After spending the first part of the week recovering from con and everything that happened there, we still had the house to contend with. Truth be told, we had kind of let it fall into a bit of controlled chaos as we prepped for the event. I did what I could during the week to get things in order while Shannon was finishing up her summer semester’s classes, but I didn’t get very far. What’s worse, what I did get done seemed to get undone almost immediately. This was particularly true in my office where chaos still has a firm foothold.

So due to the condition of the house, our need to spend a weekend mostly relaxing, and the fact that it’s been stupid hot outside, we spent most of the weekend indoors. Friday was spent with friends doing our usual thing of watching YouTube videos. I even dusted off the old xbox to play some party games.

Then Friday night came. When we decided to turn in for the night, I felt like I would sleep pretty well. I even took something to try and knock myself out. Alas, just as I was nodding off, something both wonderful and frustrating happened. I had a huge breakthrough on one of the books I’m working on that has had me stuck for longer than I care to admit. Now, I don’t think I need to tell you why this was wonderful, but you may be wondering where the frustration comes from. I was just about asleep when the solution to all my problems in this particular book suddenly occurred to me.

Now I don’t know about you, but as much as I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, I knew if I didn’t jump up and get it all noted down, it would be gone like so many dreams by morning, so jump up I did. I have to admit, it was pretty exciting to finally have that roadblock out of my way. In fact, by the time I had noted everything down, I wanted to jump right into it and start writing. Fortunately, my more reasonable side convinced me to go back to bed and give the new ideas a few days to simmer, so I went back to bed.

And that’s where the frustration set in. Try as I might, I simply could not get back to that sleepy state. Even worse, my restless legs set in making it impossible to even get comfortable. So that meant I spent my Friday night in a state of not being able to sleep, but too sleepy to get anything meaningful done.

Luckily, the rest of the weekend went better and we were able to get the house into some sort of order. We even got enough relaxing in for me to feel ready to deal with work on Sunday night. Of course this meant that my Sunday night, by way of it being not only summer, but Fourth of July weekend, went much worse than anticipated. Still, I made it through, only to get home and discover that my water heater had broken sometime in the night. I expected that, being a new homeowner, I’d have to fix things once in a while. I just never expected everything to break in the first year. Naturally, we couldn’t get anyone to come out on the Fourth without charging us a huge convenience fee, so we set up an appointment for this morning. Please help us pray that it won’t be too expensive of a repair.

The Fourth was even hotter than it had been over the weekend, so Shannon and I hung out at the house for most of the day before treating ourselves to a nice dinner out. She even had time to break out her coloring books for the first time in weeks. I tried to get some sleep, but the fireworks made that difficult.

Now I’m about to get off work and praying the plumber doesn’t cost us our first born. I’ll let you know next week.

So that’s been my week. How’s yours been?

 

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

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.

spirit-2304469_1920

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

The Return Of What’s Up Wednesday: SoDakCon, My First Book Signing, And Giving My First Interview

Hey Guys. Long time no see.

As always, life is still crazy, but at least this time it’s been in a good way.

I may have mentioned a little event known as SoDakCon before. If I haven’t or you’ve forgotten, SoDakCon is the biggest anime/nerd convention in the black hills. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still small comparatively, but it’s growing every year. This year’s theme was Pirates versus ninjas. (Yes, the choice of capitalization was intentional.)

Having identified as a pirate for many years, I of course had to finish my cosplay. Still, there’s a long tradition among cosplayers and being new to the scene, who am I to break it? In keeping with tradition, I waited to finish my costume until the last minute. Still, I think it turned out pretty well and I got a lot of compliments on it. I was even stopped by the event photographer and asked to pose for several pictures. They haven’t been posted yet, but when they are I’ll post them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. For now, here are a couple of shots Shannon took of me.

File Jun 28, 4 58 01 AM

What do you think?

File Jun 28, 4 57 18 AM

I just had to stop by the green-screen booth and have a professional picture taken.

CCI06262017_0003

Check my Instagram for more of me and a few of the other amazing cosplayers who put me to shame.

So anyway, while I love going to con every year as a spectator and mingling with my kind,

nerds

this year was somewhat special. Thanks to my friend and fellow author Adrian Ludens, I was able to set up at his table to sell some of my own books. While I can’t say I sold as many as I’d hoped I would, I did sell a lot more than I’d feared I might.

I was hoping that I’d have something professionally printed in time, but yet again, I dropped the ball so at the last minute, I had to come up with what I could. I ended up designing a cover for my short story “Blood Moon” that translated to black and white. I was shooting for something reminiscent of the old dime store novels.

I think they turned out nicely. I still have plenty of copies. If anyone is interested, I’ll be selling them on my website. www.JustinMKelly.com.

One of the most thrilling moments of the weekend was being interviewed for public radio about being a writer. I have to admit, I got tongue-tied and stumbled a bit, but I made it through even though my heart was beating like crazy.

Then of course came THE moment. The moment when I sold my first copy and got to sign my first autograph. I wish I could say I did it smoothly, but the combination of it being such a momentous occasion and the fact that I honestly hardly ever write longhand, especially in cursive anymore, made me even more awkward than normal. I actually had to stop and try to remember how to make the letters I needed. Luckily, my first sale was to a friend who didn’t mind so much.

After that, things went a lot more smoothly.

All in all, it was an amazing, if exhausting weekend.

And that’s where I think I’ll stop. I could tell you more, but if I told you about every amazing thing that happened over the weekend, this post would be a mile long and I wouldn’t finish writing it until next Wednesday.

I’ll see you all on Friday with a fresh piece of flash fiction.

As always, you can find me all these places online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest

What’s Up… Thursday?: A Day Late And A Dollar Short

What’s up guys? How has your week been? Mine has been absolutely insane.

Last Friday was my mom’s birthday. I won’t tell you which one, because I’d prefer to make it to my next one. On her birthday, we took her out to a nice dinner and gave her our gifts. I got her an action camera like the one I’ve used to record a couple of videos on my YouTube channel. Shannon got her a ticket to go see Home Free this October. If you don’t know, they’re a great country acapella group. I don’t even like much country, but these guys are awesome.

On Saturday, Shannon, my Mom, and I  took a ride on the 1880 Train from Hill City, SD to Keystone, SD and back. It was a lot of fun and something Shannon and I have been wanting to do for years, but never found the time. It was great being to be able to step back in time as we entered vintage rail cars being pulled by an actual steam engine. I took a video and posted it on my YouTube channel here. Warning, it’s close to a two hour video, but I think it’s a reasonably soothing watch. You wouldn’t think riding in a convertible and then a train would wear you out so much, but we were both beat by the time we got home.

Of course, Sunday was back to the grind. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hotel being nearly or completely sold out every night. Some nights, even when we’re sold out, I still have most of the night to myself. Not so this week. It seemed like every five minutes or so, somebody needed something. I was hoping to get some writing done, but to tell the truth, this blog post is all the writing at work I’ve been able to do all week. I would try to get something on the page, but it always seemed that as soon as I would start to type, either the phone would ring, or someone would magically appear at my desk. Finally I gave up and cued up the next episode of Black Sails and dreamed of running away and turning pirate myself.

Of course, one full night was devoted to editing the aforementioned two hour YouTube video. I’m getting better with my editing skills. I’m even considering getting a green screen so I can replace the ugly background when I shoot vlogs at work. Now I just need to work on my on-screen presence.

The good news is that during my time at home I’ve been fairly productive. The bad news is, what I’ve been productive at is procrastination. Yes, my office is spotless so that when I do finally sit down to write, I shouldn’t have any distractions, but I’ve yet to test this theory by actually sitting down to write. Oh well, this weekend is supposed to be ridiculously hot and Shannon has a lot of homework to do for her masters in English, so I plan on giving her space and working on my own homework. I’m hoping to even get some serious reading time in over the weekend as we hide from Mister Heat Miser.

I guess that’s about it. It may not sound like much to some of you who actually work for a living, but it’s really frustrating to not be able to get work done when you actually want to.

I do have a good idea for this week’s Flash Fiction Friday, but I’m a little afraid it’ll end up turning into a full-fledged short story that I’ll want to try to submit somewhere, in which case, I won’t be posting it here. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t turn out as good as I think it might. 😀

Anyway, I guess that’s about this week. I will post something tomorrow, I promise.

As always, you can find me all these places online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

And on Goodreads

And YouTube I finally hit 100 subscribers. Thank you everyone for your help. The new custom URL is https://www.youtube.com/justinmkellywriter

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

I’m even on Pinterest