March 2010

CHEAP LAUGHS!

Untreed Reads is the New Kid in Town in the world of e-book publishing. Jay Hartman, was championing e-books when most other people, including yours truly, were not at all convinced. But Jay was on to something. He continued to review and champion e-books as The Future. And now he’s publishing them himself, aiming for quality and diversity—and hopefully lots of sales!

It’s my pleasure to have him publish TWO short stories as ebooks.
The first is THE LAWYER, THE GHOST, AND THE CURSED CHAIR. I had more fun with this story than anything I’ve ever done. It always makes me giggle. In his acceptance letter, Jay said, “I absolutely LOVE this story. In fact, I was laughing out loud.”
I hope you will too. How many laughs can you get for a tiny price? Buy it and see.
My author sales page on Untreed Reads:
http://www.untreedreads.com/?page_id=1118
Here you can buy both stories in PDF or EPub formats, and click through to Smashwords for all other formats.
The story is available on Amazon for the Kindle. Here is the Amazon link to the first story: http://tinyurl.com/y9wqr4x

And here’s an excerpt from that story to tease and torment you:

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Time and Age. They make bottoms sag, legs shake, and arms wobble. Every time the old chair was moved it left a trail of little Hansel-and-Gretel tufts of ancient gray stuffing. In the world of furniture it had once been a duchess. Now it was a bag lady.
H.L. (Horatio Lamar) Snodgrass IV never gave the old chair another thought after he placed it in the storage room of his office to await the junk man. He was too busy sniffing and stroking its replacement, experiencing almost orgasmic pleasure in the smell and feel of the tall-backed chair made from the hides of Pamplona fighting bulls, a chair fit for a king. Or a damn good lawyer. He was the best. When he spoke judges melted. When he spoke Justice took off her blindfold, winked, and hiked her skirt to the thigh.

His clothes were custom made. One car was foreign and expensive. Another was American and expensive. His favorite was old, low-slung, and expensive. His wife, who was visiting the baccarat tables and roulette wheels in Las Vegas, was petite and expensive. Larry, his long-time boyfriend, was not petite in any way, and less expensive than his wife.

A series of bone-shattering blows against the door interrupted his thoughts. Normally he would have let his secretary answer the door, but since this was Saturday she was not there.

On his way to the door, H.L. had to pass the time-faded oil portrait of his Great-great-great Grandfather, Hawkins Forsythe Snodgrass, and he felt a brief twinge of conscience. After all, the old fellow had brought the chair from England generations ago. Hawkins had been a famous barrister in his homeland and he became more famous in his adopted country. Part of his fame was due to the eccentricity of never abandoning the English wig and robe even after becoming an American citizen. Hawkins was the founder of six generations of Snodgrass lawyers, each more successful and richer than the last.

“Perhaps,” H.L. thought, “I should keep the chair as a memento…but what the hell.”
The explosive knock came again. H.L. opened the door and came eye-to-Adam’s-apple with a hulking individual who sported a turned-about Chicago Cubs cap and a bushy beard. A fine gold chain led from the gold hoop in his left nostril to a large gold hoop in his left earlobe. His shirt was unbuttoned to the waist and a gold skull on a chain glinted upon a chest of black fur that a grizzly bear would have envied. Clamped between his teeth was a cigar that, judging from the smell, had been made from a mixture of rotten eggs and old rags.

“Are you the junk man?” H.L. asked.

“No, I ain’t no friggin’ junk man,” the Neanderthal growled. “I’m Vyvyan Smucker from Smucker’s Reclamation, Recycling, and Haulage.” He took a drag on the cigar and exhaled a choking cloud of smog. “Show me the junk.”

End of excerpt
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The second Short Story — available now– is “MR. NEWBY’S REVENGE” is the story of an abandoned baby who grows into a bullied boy who becomes a brilliant man who gets even with a tormentor in a diabolical manner. And just how do cat litter and brown paper towels figure into his plan?
Same Author page link as above. The Amazon link for this story is
http://tinyurl.com/y8qu6pb

Here’s an excerpt:
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MR NEWBY’S REVENGE
By
Ruth Sims

“Revenge is a dish best prepared by a long, slow simmer, and then savored.”
…Mr. Newby

Of course Mr. Newby had a first name. But it is immaterial, and by the time this story takes place there was no one in the world who knew what that name was except himself.

As an infant he had been found wrapped up in a blanket on the steps of St. Dinadan’s Orphanage for Boys, without even a note pinned to his diaper. Though he was officially given the name of a saint, the adults at the orphanage always referred to him in private as “Unfortunate.” As he moved from infant to toddler to school age, the other boys, both large and small, gave him other names, most of them unkind. “Ugly.” “Fatty.” “Stupid.” “Retard.” “Queer.” “Moron.” “Lard Ass.” “Four Eyes.” “Faggot.” They regularly put him headfirst into toilets and garbage bins.

Through it all, he smiled.

Pete Carson, two years older and much larger, was the worst of his tormentors. Once he yanked Mr. Newby’s pants down in the schoolyard in full view of the giggling girls in St. Cecelia’s Orphanage for Girls, next door. Mr. Newby’s round face turned red, tears filled his blue eyes. Even then, he smiled. No matter what his torment of the day, he always just picked himself up when it was over and soldiered on. Always smiling.
He had smiled from the day of his birth….

End of excerpt

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I DO TWO, from MLR Press is now available in print and e-book. It has an array of short stories of every kind, and proceeds from the book go entirely to Lambda Legal for the continuing fight for marriage equality. My contribution is “Legend of the Mountain Ash.” Here is the opening prologue:

Legend of the Mountain Ash
By
Ruth Sims

There are places in this world where magic and miracles meet, and when they do a legend is born. This is the story of one such legend, and how it came to be.
In the hills of Appalachia, in a cove that no living man will ever find, is a Mountain Ash unlike any other in the world. It is not one tree but two, twined around each other in the same way that vines twine around a host. It stands as it has nearly three generations, untouched by wind, rain, frost, or fire, always bearing thick clusters of white flowers and blood red berries. Its flowers and fruit never fall. It will not grow. It will not wither.

The legend of this mountain ash is, as many legends are, a story of love and loss, sacrifice and redemption.

End of prologue

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The terrific reviews for The Phoenix keep coming in! The latest is by Gerry Burnie, author of Two Irish Lads. “A masterful piece of writing, credible and enjoyable from start to finish.”

You can see his entire review at www.gerrycan.wordpress.com or on my page here, “The Phoenix: What Others Are Saying.” Gerry’s page is a good site to bookmark. His reviews are thoughtful and well-written.

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    “Books Without Barriers” — Making books accessible to those with visual impairment.

I’m pleased to announce that The Phoenix is now part of the book collection of Bookshare, which provides books like a library to visually impaired members.

Bookshare is a nonprofit entity. The books are made available in many different formats. Somehow (don’t ask me how!) they can also be made into Braille. I urge other authors to submit their books to Bookshare. Having one accepted is a warm and fuzzy feeling, even if it won’t change the balance in the bank book. The bookshare website is www.bookshare.org Please pass this information along to anyone you know who is visually impaired.