Just For Fun–sharing a short story

I’m working on plot points while I’m between books.  I think of a few ideas, then draw a blank.  Think of a few more, etc.  So it’s start and stop, brood for a while, then think of something else.  And that’s when story ideas whisper in my ear to tempt me.  And why not let them when I’m between books?  So I wrote this one.  It’s stalling so that I can have fun instead of working on plotting, and I know that, but it’s all right at this point.  So here goes:


I stretched out on the king-size bed–my bed, now—in the huge bedroom on the second floor with a deep balcony. My bedroom, now. In the massive mansion I’d envied since the first time I stepped foot in it.

Jackson Kendricks took everything he had for granted. His wealth. His good looks. His brain and talent. “None of it can take the place of people you love,” he’d often told me. He’d lost his parents when we were sophomores in college. A car accident when they were driving up to visit him at the university.

His mom and dad had invited me to come home with him many times, always welcomed me. They were glad their son had made a friend. Like he needed any. With money like he had, he could have bought as many as he wanted. But Jackson was painfully shy. I was painfully poor. I wasn’t as smart as he was. Or as talented. But I knew a good thing when it smacked me in the face. The heavens must have been smiling when they made me his roommate. The lady who’d read my palm at the street fair had told me my fortunes were going to change, and she’d been right.

“But you must be wise,” she’d cautioned. “Make the right choices, or you’ll live with regrets.”

She didn’t have to tell me twice. I started to study with him. We got pizza together. We went to football and basketball games together. Where I went, I invited him, and he always picked up the tab. People started calling us the “odd couple.” Me, poor and plain. Him, rich and handsome. But at one of the home games, a girl with long blond hair, deep blue eyes, and dimples to disappear in sat next to him. They began to talk. He invited her to grab burgers with us after the game. And they clicked.

Jackson wouldn’t ditch me. He was too nice, too loyal for that. So the three of us started doing things together, but he hung on her words instead of mine. He’d focus on her with a dazed look. And he invited her and a friend to come home with us for a three-day weekend. He said that the big, old house was too quiet, too lonely without his parents. Poor him, inheriting it all so early in life.

He and I had talked about going into business together when we graduated. He didn’t really need me. I knew that, but he didn’t have anyone else. He wanted a partner, and I didn’t have any money to invest in anything. So I said yes. But the pretty blond might ruin everything. She was graduating in our class, too, and she’d majored in marketing and was on the honor roll.

Jackson and I had an early class on Friday, and we could leave after we finished it. The girls decided to drive up later that night. Jackson had the housekeeper order all kinds of snacks and groceries for pizzas, burgers, and nachos. But the girls didn’t get there in time for supper. We waited. And waited. Until finally, near starving, we ate.

We stayed up and played cards, watched TV. It was almost one in the morning when the knock on the door sounded. The girls’ car had gone through an intersection on a red light and been totaled. Both dead.

It was his parents’ accident that had given me the idea. A brake line leaked, and their brakes didn’t work. Everyone knew girls didn’t take in their cars for checkups when they should.

Jackson lost it for a while. It took everything I could think of to get him back in school to finish the year. After we graduated, he poured all of his energy into setting up our business. We had a strong start, a promising future, so when the street fair came again, I walked into the fortune teller’s tent with a cocky grin.

She raised her dark eyebrows, pulled out her Tarot deck, and dealt a spread. Then she shook her head and pointed to the card The Fool. “That’s you,” she told me. “Don’t be stupid again. There are unseen forces working against you. Do the right thing, or you’ll regret it.”

Regret. Again. I blinked, confused, leaving her tent. How had I been stupid? I’d had a problem, and I took care of it. Now, all was good. I was walking to the Ferris Wheel to meet Jackson when I saw him, leaning to listen as a guy from our finance class talked to him.

When the guy left, I frowned. “What was that all about?”

“That was Mark Lisbon from school. He made an offer on our company, wants us to sell to him. We’d make a decent profit, but I like what we’re doing. I want to stick with it.”

“How much of a profit?”

When he told me, the numbers danced around in my head. We could sell and live comfortably and never work again. But wait! Jackson had never had to work, had he? He wanted to. But I didn’t.

For the next few weeks, I started spreading the rumor that I was worried about Jackson, that he was so depressed, I’d asked him to see a doctor, but he wouldn’t. And then, my friend almost made it easy for me. I walked into his room one afternoon and he was on balcony, bending over the railing, watching something in the distance. All it took was one hard push.

The funeral had been last week, and I think I looked properly shaken up and doleful. The housekeeper bought my act and went out of her way to cheer me up. Steaks and seafood for suppers. But now, I lay in Jackson’s bed in his big room and almost had to pinch myself. All of it was mine.

I was trying to count the crystals in the chandelier when it started to swing. I glanced out the open balcony doors, but there was no wind. The dresser drawers opened and closed. The mirror floated off the wall and hung above me, but it wasn’t my reflection in its glass. A beautiful blond girl was standing beside Jackson, and they were both smiling at me. I stared. That wasn’t possible. And then the mirror crashed. Shards of glass splintered in my skin, and two large shards poised above my neck and slashed down.

I blinked a few times, looking down at my body on the bed. Was that really me? Then what was I now? I held my hands in front of me and could see through them.

“Nice to have all of us together again,” a translucent Jackson said, smiling at me. “Brittany and I thought it only appropriate that you join us.”

“I don’t want to,” I said. “There’s nothing to do here. What happens next? Don’t we go to the light or something?”

Jackson snickered. “Is that really where you think you’ll go?”

“You can’t leave until we do,” Britanny told me. “And we want to stick around to see the transformation.”

“What transformation?”

“Of the house, of course.” Jackson waved his hand to include our surroundings. “My will left everything to you, but if you died, I donated everything to a children’s home. Soon, this old house will be filled with kids’ laughter.”

I cringed. “I don’t like kids.”

Jackson’s grin grew wider. “I remember you telling me that.” He and Brittany joined hands and went out to stand on the balcony when the housekeeper found me. Cops and men with a stretcher came next. I watched them carry my body away, shaking my head. I was so close. I’d almost had everything I’d ever wanted.

Then a voice sounded through the room. “Don’t be stupid. There are unseen forces working against you.”

I shivered. I knew that voice.

Jackson heard it, too, and turned to look at me. “She was trying to tell you to respond to generosity with generosity of your own. We could have all been happy. She tried to warn you.”

“Stupid fortuneteller. Why didn’t she just say what she meant?”

Jackson just shook his head at me and returned his attention to Brittany. They could hardly tear their eyes off each other. I’d say “Get a room,” but we were standing in Jackson’s bedroom, weren’t we?

And me? What of me? I was going to listen to happy children pound up and down the stairs. I’d wish I were dead, but hey, I was, wasn’t I?

We’ll see….the time between books

I finished the first draft of my mystery.  I like it, which is unusual.  I usually can’t stand a book by the time I finish it.  This worries me.  Am I not being hard enough on the mystery?  But I rewrote so many scenes so often, maybe I worked through the hate earlier and got it out of my system.

I tried a couple of new things with this book, which I’m not sure about.  That’s one of the joys of having great and brutally honest critique partners.  If something doesn’t work, they’re happy to tell me.  And I want to know.  I enjoyed writing my Babet and Prosper urban fantasies so much, I wanted to put a few of their touches into the mystery.  I wanted to really bring my characters and their world to life.  I wanted the setting to be a strong element in the story.  But I was worried about getting the balance right.  I didn’t want to detract from clues and suspects.

I’m so close to the story, I can never tell what worked and what didn’t.  So I’ve sent it off to the joys of red ink.  If it comes back bloody, it’s not personal.  My friends are determined to make my book as good as it can be.  And sometimes, they don’t agree.  One person writes “loved this,” and another writes “this has to go.”  I know them so well, I usually know what’s going to bug whom.  The thing to remember, because new writers who join Scribes sometimes look at the red ink and get overwhelmed, is that you’re still a good writer, but screwed up.  It happens.  It’s not the end of the world.  You can fix it.

While my friends mark up my book, I’m giving myself a break from all thoughts of it by writing a a short novella, chapter by chapter, for my webpage.  I always try to switch gears at the end of a book.  I need distance.  I need to think about something else to gain perspective.  And yes, I turned to Babet and Prosper.  There’s nothing like a dragon that tunnels underground like a trapdoor spider and waits for tasty mortals to “drop in” to jostle me out of my routine.  And how do you track and fight a demon dragon?  Yup, this story’s just plain fun time for me.  B&P are my feel-good go-to between longer works.

When I finish the novella, I mean to start plotting my second mystery.  I’m going to take longer at it this time.  I forgot how intricate writing a mystery was.  I need a clue or red herring or suspect/witness, etc. in nearly every chapter to keep the mystery plot moving. I don’t want to try to pull those out of my Muse’s creative genius on demand.  My Muse got a bit grumpy about that this time.  So I’d rather have 40 stepping stones along the way.  I figure that’s enough to keep the mystery from sagging.

I’m enjoying a little Inbetween Books time right now.  I hope you have a wonderful Fourth.  And happy writing!

I finally made the transition

I’m changing my name.  If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’ve written a few different things before I started writing romances.  I started with short stories, sold a few short mysteries, then tried my hand at cozies (when no editors wanted them).  One of those editors asked me to try urban fantasy–which I did, and I loved.  Still do.  And then I finally tried romances.  And sold them.  The thing is, I’ve written for a long time under my own name–Judith Post.  But romances are so different from urban fantasy that my agent suggested that I use a pen name to let readers know I wasn’t writing what they expected me to write.  And I understood her reasoning.

I didn’t quite think the pen name thing through, though.  My webpage, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter are all under my name, Judith Post.  Which seemed fine with me, until the awesome publicist at Kensington, who’s trying her darndest to find me an audience, e-mailed me to say that when anyone types Judi Lynn into a search engine, they get nothing that leads them to me.  Not a good thing when I’m working so hard to “brand” myself.  She suggested that I change my media name to my pen name.  At first, it threw me.  I mean, I talk about my books and writing on social media.  Isn’t that enough?  Not really, not after I thought about it.  Especially, not when people can’t find me.  So, I switched everything I do on the internet to Judi Lynn.  I don’t think it’s going to give me a split-personality.  I am who I am, for better and (on some days) for worse.  The only thing I haven’t changed yet is my webpage.  Mostly, because I still like posting free, short urban fantasy stories there between books.

I read that Stephen King writes short stories or novellas when he finishes one novel and before he starts a new one.  I like to do the same thing.  When I finish a book, I’m not ready to plunge into another one.  I need to let my brain fixate on something different with “instant gratification”–because I can finish it faster–before I dedicate myself to 70,000+ words on the next project.  It clears the cobwebs of subplots and threads and gives me a quick “fun” write.  It’s even better if I can jostle completely out of the usual, and for me, since I’m working on romances, that means pounding out a quick urban fantasy–something outside of my new genre.

And speaking of that, I put a really, really short chapter on my webpage because I’ve missed Enoch from Fallen Angels so much.  I’m going to try to post a new chapter once a week until the story’s finished–not sure how long that will take.  I know:)  I usually plot every story into oblivion, but since this one’s for fun, I have a few plot points and I’m going to wing it.  Hope that works:)  If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to check it out.  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Anyway, I’ll still be here, writing my blog, but it will under Judi Lynn now.  And if you ever have questions or topics you’d like to throw my way, let me know.

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost