Check out my serialized fiction on Goodreads

I used to publish my fiction on this blog, but for easier readability, I’ve since moved my stories to Goodreads. If you’re looking for free reading material, please check them out! Just click on the book cover to access the story.

Also, if you prefer reading on your mobile device, many of these stories are available for free in my book, Dying for Eternity: A Short-Story Collection.

Hope you enjoy, and as always, thanks for reading!

The Colane Conundrum: A Literary Sitcom

The Colane Conundrum Cover

Former newspaper editor Lyle Colane never imagined he’d have a mid-life crisis at age 30. But after losing his job and his live-in girlfriend of two years — both on the same day — he’s forced to make some dramatic changes in his life. The results (as you might expect) are life-changing.

With witty, comedic dialogue in the vein of Neil Simon and Woody Allen, “The Colane Conundrum” is a literary sitcom for people who enjoy TV shows, but hate TV.

The Colane Chronicles

The Colane Chronicles Cover

A prequel to my main fiction serial, “The Colane Conundrum,” this miniseries tells the story of Lyle Colane, a young man living in Reno who’s trying to figure out what he wants out of life — besides a second round.

Dying for Eternity

Dying for Eternity Cover

Two college students, Andrew and Matt, awaken in a mysterious compound with no memory of how they got there. They encounter a strange woman who tells them they’ve entered a spiritual realm … a halfway point between heaven and earth … because the unimaginable has happened:

They’ve died. 

However, for Andrew and Matt, death is only the beginning — the beginning of a murky and twisted reality that feels more like purgatory than a peaceful afterlife. And when it seems the spiritual realm they inhabit might not be so spiritual after all, their priority morphs from resting in peace to running for their lives….

Permanent Detention

Permanent Detention Cover

Since age seventeen, Paul has been serving a life sentence in Permanent Detention, a special prison for enemies of the state. His crime? Possessing a banned book — one he inherited from his long-dead rebel father. 

Now approaching thirty, Paul’s life has devolved to an empty, meaningless and very lonely routine. But one evening, his life takes a sudden and unexpected turn. For the first time in twelve years, he meets a woman — a fellow inmate named Pam. And though their encounter is brief, Paul falls deeply, profoundly in love. 

Flushed with emotions he never knew existed, Paul dreams of Pam at every waking turn, envisioning the life they could share if only their lives were their own — if only they were free and far away. 

Only Paul must cope with the fact that his life, like Pam’s, belongs to the state … and that no amount of dreaming can penetrate the prison’s thick walls. And when he’s told he can never see Pam again, Paul is forced to grapple with the emotions surging inside him … and to find meaning in a life over which he has no control. 

Set in a dystopian future in which liberty and privacy have become relics of the past, “Permanent Detention” depicts a young man’s resolve to find beauty amid bleakness, and to dream of love in life’s darkest hours.

The Do-Over

The Do-Over Cover

Jimmy Borman is a nerd. A lame, awkward, unpopular nerd. He’s never gotten the girl. He’s never even spoken to the girl. That’s how bad it is. 

He and his best friend, Ronald, occupy the lowest echelons of the sophomore class. And unless something drastic happens, that’s exactly where they’re going to stay. 

But then something drastic does happen — and it involves Jimmy meeting the girl of his dreams, Stacy Beckham.

The only problem? Jimmy’s family is planning to move to Reno during the summer. 

Will Jimmy succeed in winning the heart of the girl he dearly adores? Or will he blow the opportunity and require a do-over? 

Festering in Fremont

Festering in Fremont Cover

When Erin loses her prestigious job at a public-relations firm, she’s forced to move back in with her parents, returning to the small town she grew up in. Will she have an opportunity to reclaim her life, and her career, or will she remain festering in Fremont?

Nightmare of a Malefic Mind

Nightmare of a Malefic Mind Cover

Fred Walsh gave up on his dreams long ago. But now he’s entering a terrifying nightmare over which he has no control….

Baby Camp Recall

Baby Camp Recall Cover

Ted is a 29-year-old loser who can’t hold down a job or maintain a relationship. He’s not sure why. All he knows is that his whole life, he’s been a miserable failure.

But then Ted’s mom gets a letter from a summer camp that Ted attended years ago. According to the letter, the camp used experimental education methods that have proven to be traumatic. In an attempt to reverse the damage, the summer camp is asking for all former students — who now are all adults in their late 20s — to return for a cure. 

They’re issuing a recall.

If Ted goes back, will it solve all his problems and put him back on the path to success? Will he be able to live the life he should have been living all along? 

Find out in Baby Camp Recall.

’Tis the season to be seething

Christmas Card Colane Conundrum

Yeah, up yours too, Santa.

A relative last week mailed me a Christmas card. On the front it said, “Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays!”

How rude, I thought. Why would he want this particular holiday — Christmas 2016 — to be my happiest? What about next year? Does he not want me to be happy then?

I don’t want this particular holiday to be my happiest. Why does this Christmas have to be the highlight of my life?

Does that mean all subsequent Christmases are going to be less happy? I’d have no reason to look forward to Christmas, knowing my “happiest” took place in 2016, and that all the rest went downhill from there.

Instead of wishing me the “happiest” of holidays, why not wish me a “happy” holiday, instead? Why put so much emphasis and expectation on this particular holiday season? I can’t handle that kind of pressure. And why should any one Christmas be happier than the other, anyway?

My relative might as well have said, “Have the happiest of holidays now, because life’s only going to get worse from here. Your future is going to be dismal and hopeless. Maybe you’ll lose your job, or the world will end in a nuclear holocaust. Or worse, maybe the Taco Bell down the street will run out of ingredients just as you’re pulling up to the window. You never know. There are so many ways life can stick it to you. So be sure to enjoy this holiday season, because you may not have anything to celebrate next year. Love you, and God bless!”

Relatives can be thoughtless sometimes. Luckily, I only see them once a year — around Christmas.

Every online Office Assistant job posting

An honest interviewer

Well, at least I know what I’m getting into….

Our company has an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic and dynamic Office Assistant. The Office Assistant will be responsible for supporting 47 senior-level executives, as well as completing degrading, rudimentary tasks — such as making coffee and sorting the mail.

Qualifications:

• Four-year degree required, preferably with an emphasis on structural engineering or quantum physics. Candidates with a Master’s degree preferred.

• Must have your own vehicle for picking up Starbucks, giving rides to senior-level personnel and shuttling intoxicated executives to highbrow societal functions. Candidates with a Class-A commercial driver’s license preferred.

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Must be an expert writer and grammarian, with proficiency in Associated Press Style and the Chicago Manual of Style.

• Must have proficiency in technology, including hardware, software and network infrastructure. Must have expert knowledge of printers and printer drivers. Candidates with working knowledge of HTML, Pearl, Javascript, and CSS preferred.

• Must be an expert in graphic design, with working knowledge of Quark, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. Must be an expert photographer with access to your own professional-level equipment.

• Must have advanced video-editing skills, with the ability to produce custom corporate videos in a variety of digital formats. Working knowledge of Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere required.

• Must be proficient in web design and marketing, with the ability to craft unique weekly content for our company blog and social-media accounts. The candidate also will write and edit our 5,000-word daily newsletter, as well as execute weekly e-mail campaigns.

• Must have the ability to type 90 words per minute on a Royal typewriter.

• Must have working knowledge of General Accounting Principles, with the ability to oversee annual budgets, complete weekly payroll and respond timely to unexpected IRS inquiries.

• Must have expert carpentry skills, with the ability to complete office remodels as required. Knowledge of HVAC, plumbing and electrical wiring required. Candidates with a general contracting license strongly preferred. 

• In addition to meeting day-to-day expectations, the successful candidate must complete 500 hours of career-focused training within the first 90 days of employment.

Applying:

To be considered for this amazing opportunity, please send your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Also, please submit a 5-minute video in .m4v formant detailing your skills and accomplishments. Candidates also must take an online personality assessment, as well as commit to 60 hours monthly of community service.

Salary:

Compensation starts at $10 hourly.

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything at all 

Writer's block

This is a question I’ve been asking my entire life.

I was sitting slumped over the keyboard, cradling my head in my hands, when Vanessa walked into the room.

“What are you doing?” she asked, frowning.

“Blogging,” I said.

“It looks like you’re sitting there with your head in your hands.”

“This is what I look like when I’m blogging.”

Vanessa approached me and looked over my shoulder. “You haven’t even written anything yet.”

I sighed. “That’s because I don’t have anything to say.”

“So let me get this straight,” Vanessa said. “You told me you started blogging because you had so much you wanted to say.”

“That’s right.”

“And now you’re telling me you don’t have anything to say?”

“Exactly.”

“OK.” Vanessa frowned again. “I’m not sure I follow.”

“I have a lot I want to say,” I said. “The problem is, when I sit down to write, I’m not sure how to say what it is I want to say.”

“So you know what you want to say,” Vanessa said. “You just don’t know how to say what you want to say?”

“Exactly.”

Vanessa shrugged. “So why not just say what you want to say and get it over with?” Keep reading…

The top 60 Tweets of a pretentious English student 

young man studying on laptop in college campus library

Yeah, I went to school with people like this…

Even graduate students studying ecocentric literature can be social-media superstars!

Bio: I express my artistry through emotional meditations and lowercase letters. My heart is pure; my poetry, self-published.

1. If there’s a sock on the door, don’t come in. I’m busy reading Vonnegut.

2. If my beret doesn’t give away my artistic tendencies, then I’m sure the Apple logo on my laptop will.

3. A sublime exhalation of youthful exuberance, in a premature outpouring of passion. (But give me 10 minutes, and I’ll try again.)

4. I’m not arrogant. I just don’t need to take writing advice from the dude who wrote “Charlotte’s Web.”

5. Yeah, well, how many literary-fiction journals have *you* been featured in, buddy?

6. Is that a Bukowski in your book bag, or are you just happy to see me?

7. Personally, I find the em-dash more progressive than the semicolon.

8. How endearing. I went through my own period of rugged Hemingway terseness back in 201.

9. We haven’t truly lived until we’ve written in the first-person-plural.

10. I’ll trade you three gently used issues of Glimmer Train for your annotated copy of “Burning Down the House.”

11. I’m not in it for the monetary compensation; I’m in it to bare my soul through the written word. (Besides, Mom pays my tuition.)

12. My tattered journal contains the scribblings of my soul. Plus, my Econ notes from yesterday’s class.

13. She left my emotional core stinging from the lash of rejection. (It also stings when I pee.)

14. I see you consistently get “it’s” and “its” confused. You need a bib to catch all the drool?

15. [Literary flirting] “So, you want to get coffee sometime? We could discuss whether Truman Capote wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.” Keep reading…

It’s not technically cheating if it’s in a parallel universe 

The Colane Catastrophe

My blog header, as it appears in a parallel universe.

I was eating dinner the other night with my friend, Vanessa.

“This is really good, Angela,” I said, shoveling peas in my mouth. “You totally outdid yourself tonight.”

Vanessa set down her fork. “What did you call me?”

I looked up. “Pardon?”

Vanessa’s eyes widened. “Did you just call me Angela?”

I blinked and swallowed my peas. “Not necessarily.”

“You did. And not only that, but your face is turning red.”

“Is it?” I dabbed my forehead with a napkin. “Maybe my metabolism is kicking in because I’m digesting all this delicious food. Did I tell you how delicious it is? It’s really very delicious.”

Vanessa scrutinized me. “Colane? Do you have something you want to tell me?”

I looked at her, then cast my eyes to my plate, spearing mushrooms.

“Colane?” Vanessa’s voice took on a darker, more ominous tone.

I swallowed and set down my fork, folding my hands. “OK. It’s about time you learned. Vanessa — I have something to tell you.”

I could see her holding her breath. “Yes?”

“It’s a secret. Something I haven’t told anyone else.”

She bit her lower lip. I could see it quivering ever so slightly. “Yes?”

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but I just didn’t know how.”

She blinked several times, rapidly. “Yes?”

I reached across the table and took her hand. “Vanessa?”

She closed her eyes. “Yes?” Her voice was a hesitant, toneless whisper.

“I come from a parallel universe.”

She opened one eye. “Huh?”  Keep reading…

Financial experts: No matter what the market, you should always buy stocks

roulette wheel

According to financial experts, U.S. stocks have nowhere to go but up. (Of course, that’s what they were saying about home prices in 2007, but best not to dwell on that.)

I walked into a local money manager’s office the other day to open an account.

“Do you have an appointment, sir?” the receptionist asked, as I walked past her desk.

I walked into the money manager’s office and sat down at his desk. “Here’s the thing,” I said. “I know you’re a money manager, so you’re probably used to working with clients who, you know, actually have money. And I don’t really have anything to my name except for a worn-out rubber vomit and a pack of gum that shocks you when you try to touch it. But I want to retire someday from this grueling, thankless career of writing comedy, so I need to start investing for the future. Does that make sense?”

The money manager clasped his hands and leaned back in his seat. “You should buy stocks,” he said.

“I’ve never been very good at earning money,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong: I’m a hard worker. I’ve spent my entire life busting butt, trying to get ahead. The problem, I’ve found out, is that hard work has nothing to do with making money. Employers used to covet a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, but now all they seem to want are self-promoting braggarts who mask their incompetence with smooth-sounding babble. And because I was taught to be humble, I tend to labor diligently in the background while the smooth-talking braggarts take all the credit. And then they get all the promotions while I stay at the bottom, working myself to an early grave.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“And I don’t want to end up in an early grave,” I said. “I mean, sure — dying young has its benefits. I wouldn’t have to save so much for the future, because there wouldn’t be much of a future to save toward. And I wouldn’t have move to Florida and start eating dinner at 3 p.m., because who wants to eat dinner that early, anyway? I certainly don’t. I’d end up rummaging through the fridge at 7 p.m. and making a tuna fish sandwich with sardines and mayonnaise. And then I’d wake up at one in the morning with raging heartburn that feels like someone is running a blowtorch up and down your chest. I don’t want that to be my future.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said.

“But if I do grow old, I need a retirement fund so I can actually buy food,” I said. “I don’t want to be a destitute geriatric with no teeth who gnaws on Alpo while watching Murder, She Wrote reruns. If it gets to that point, a tuna fish sandwich with sardines might be the financial equivalent of eating caviar. Not that I’ve ever eaten caviar. Why would anyone pay so much to eat something so disgusting? I feel the same way about frog legs. Although some people say frog legs taste like chicken. I guess it depends on what kind of chicken. If it tasted like KFC, then I might try it. I like chicken when it’s deep fried, but not so much when it’s baked. Baked chicken might be healthy, but it tends to be chewy and dry, and then it’s about as appetizing as my worn-out rubber vomit.”

I paused for a breath. “As you can tell, I’m not exactly a health nut, which is a personal defect I should address if I’m going to start planning for the future.”

“You should buy stocks,” the money manager said. Keep reading…

The lengths some people will go to steal a parking space

empty parking space

Not that my warning does me any good. The only one who doesn’t park in my designated space is me, because everyone else beats me to it.

I happened to be following a car as it pulled into my apartment complex. It turned left at the entrance and started driving through the parking lot toward my unit.

I didn’t recognize the car, so I figured it had to be a guest, and not a tenant.

“I bet he tries to park in my assigned space,” I said to myself, as I followed the car through the lot. “I just know it. Everyone tries to park in my assigned space. The cable guy, the electric guy, the escort who spends Friday nights with Downstairs Neighbor Dave. Look! He’s barreling past all of these available guest parking spaces so he can be closer to the buildings – the jerk!”

As if following a script, the car slowed down and turned into my assigned space.

I pulled behind it and peeped the horn. A young man climbed out of the car and looked at me, frowning.

“Hey!” I said, rolling down the window. “You’re in my space!”

The man continued to frown. “I’m sorry?”

“You got to move, pal. You’re in my assigned space!”

The man shrugged. “No. I’m not moving my car.”

He opened the back door and started rifling through some junk sitting in the backseat.

“Excuse me?” I climbed out of my car and approached him. “Buddy, you’re in my space. This is my space!”

The man kept his back turned as he searched for something in the backseat. “It’s not your space; it’s mine.”

“How can you say that?” I asked.

“Because I got here first. First come, first served. It’s a rule. Don’t you know the rule?”

“That rule doesn’t apply because it’s my space! I’m a tenant, and this is the space they assigned to me.”

“But how do you know it’s your space? It looks like all the other spaces.” The man pulled a sweatshirt out of the car and turned around to face me.

“It doesn’t look anything like the other spaces!” I said. “The resident spaces have white lines, and the guest spaces have yellow. Plus, the resident spaces are numbered, and I’m No. 28. That’s how I know it’s my space: because it’s clearly marked No. 28.”

“So is that also the number of your apartment?” the man asked, pulling on his sweatshirt. “No. 28?”

“No. My apartment is No. 256.”

“Then why is your space No. 28? Shouldn’t your apartment number match your parking-space number?”

“I just live here,” I said. “I don’t assign the numbers.”  Keep reading…