A Short Tale of Golden Consequences

In America, everyone claims to be a little bit Irish in March. They guzzle green beer and generally have a good time. They talk about shamrocks and rainbows, and leprechauns and pots of gold. Never once do they stop to think about the consequences of their actions. This is a short-short about consequences, golden consequences to be more specific. (Trigger warning: includes allusions to sex and violence and may not be appropriate for younger readers.)

Image is a a pair of beer mugs with heads of foam over a green round banner that reads St. Patrick's Day against a gold background that welcomes you to the story world of Golden Consequences by Lynette M. Burrows

Golden Consequences

I’m an American with Irish heritage and I tell you, I love St. Patrick’s Day in America. Green beer—whoever thought that one up was a genius. Of course, I serve nothing but green beer on the sainted day. Oh, didn’t I tell you? I am the proprietor and bartender at Shawn’s Tavern. 

Oh, yeah, it was a little shop, one people call a hole-in-the-wall. Ah, who am I kidding? It was a dive. I had my eye on this swank place off of Main Street, but I didn’t have the cash. St. Patrick’s Day was one of my biggest days. Until the day I met one particular lady..

It was the wee hours of the night after St. Patrick’s Day and I’d just tossed the last drunk out, locked the door, and counted my till. I hung up my apron and headed for the back door when I heard a wee sound. A tiny sob. It came from the back corner, the darkest corner in the place. I made my way back there and almost missed her, a wee girl sitting on a stool and a-crying her eyes out. I didn’t think she’d noticed me so I say, “There, there little lady, I don’t know why you’re a-crying but things can’t be so bad.” Taking my handkerchief out of my pocket, I offer it to her. “Her now,” I say, “wipe your tears and tell me what’s troubling you. I’ll help you, if I can.”

She looks up at me and I see the greenest, most emerald eyes I’ve ever seen in my life. She took my handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes that never left mine. “Oh, sir, how kind you are, unlike the scoundrel who took all my money and left me here all alone.”

Image of a cute leprechaun girl with big eyes and long blonde hair stepping out of a blue globe with a green bow behind it, she may end up as golden consequences.

“Someone robbed you?” I say, “Here, in my bar? Tell me who did this. I’ll make the sod pay.” I pulled my phone out of my pocket and swiped up.

“Who are you calling?” She asked in a voice that fell on my ears like a melody of violins.

“The cops, I’ve got to report this, you know,” I told her. “Got to keep my license and my bar clean of this kind of stuff.”

“Oh, sir, please don’t. You’ll besmirch my name in my Da’s eyes.” She gave me a look that pierced my heart.

I turned my phone off and put it back in my pocket. “Then, at least let me take you home. You live with your parents?” I offered her my hand.

“In a manner of speaking.” She took my hand and stood. All of three feet tall, she wore a wisp of a dress that didn’t reach her knees.

My shock must have shown on my face. 

“You’ve never seen a little person before?” 

“Never one so small and beautiful as you.”

“Would you like to make love?”

My heart and my manhood swell in answer.

She puts a delicate hand over her mouth and laughs a laugh that teases and arouses me at the same time. 

My brain and my manhood spar about what is right and what I want “I don’t want to hurt you,” I say. 

Her tiny hand pulls me with a surprising strength that should have made me wary, but the desire in her eyes drove away everything else.

Never has love-making on the floor of the bar left me so completed and depleted. She rolled off me and snuggled into the crook of my arm. Her sigh was a warm breath of spring. Tears shimmered in those emerald eyes.

“Oh, please don’t cry again,” I say. “It’d break my heart.”

“It always pains me when the kind ones are bound to me.”

I laugh, low and heavy, with the afterglow of sex. “Bound to you?”

“It is a rare thing for a lady leprechaun to be seen. Rarer still for her to share her passion with a human.”

I laugh again, not as low or as comfortable. “So, did I earn your pot-o-gold?”

“Oh, lad,” she says. “Haven’t you already done that?” She smiles. Her lips stretch against pointed, wicked-sharp teeth. 

Image of a green leprechaun's hat full of gold coins with two large shamrocks above the hat with a the same golden background--an illustration of the short-short story Golden Consequences by Lynette M Burrows

That was five years ago. Now, I know what you’re a thinking. There’s no such thing as a lady leprechaun. But I swear on my mother’s grave, she is… If you don’t believe me, you can see her for yourself. Just go through that door there. 

No sooner than the door closed behind him that the lights went out. I busy myself with putting away beer glasses, noisy-like, so I don’t hear his cry of surprise. A green glow strobes around the door. Long after I finish stacking the glasses, the pulse of emerald light slows to a flicker, then dims to a glimmer. I wait until the room inside goes dark again, then rap on the door. “That’s the last of the stragglers tonight,” I say. “Is it safe?”

“Come, get your pot of gold.”

Sometimes my writing surprises myself. This story was inspired by a post about how there have never been any myths about lady leprechauns. I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope that you haven’t suffered golden consequences or any other kind from your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published: Part III

Being an independent author-publisher isn’t for everyone. I chose that path, but my path is mine. You must choose your own path. If you are weighing your options, this “Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published” series may help. Part I and Part II discuss big picture issues to consider. This is part III, the last post in this series.

Photo taken looking down at a manual typewriter with a man's hands at the keys, hope he's read the things I wish I knew before I published so he's prepared.

The full version of this post is on Writers in the Storm.

If you are not a writer and want to read something else, may I suggest you prepare for my late spring launch of If I Should Die by reading or rereading the sneak peek or character reveals.

Things I Wish I Knew About Rules 

The advice you can find about the “rules” of writing and publishing goes from one extreme to another. Some say there are no rules. Others give you a list of rules. 

Image is a view of a circular maze from slightly above it and far enough you can see the opposite edge. A female figure peers in the entrance. The rules of writing and publishing can appear to be a circular maze like this, and are one of the things I wish I knew before I published.

Traditional Publishing

When you consider traditional publishing, remember that these big publishers are corporations and they have both public and more private rules. They call their public rules “submission guidelines.” Often those guidelines are about how to format your manuscript. 

The harder to find or see rules are those common to corporations. Certain departments handle certain things. One publisher may tolerate stories that include guns or sex scenes. The next one won’t. Often these corporations do not share internal policies such as risk tolerance or political leanings or their alignment with causes you care about. 

Even the editors you submit to have rules. They don’t call them rules, yet they have certain expectations. They expect stories to be entertaining, to progress from beginning to middle to the end. Each editor has genre expectations and life events that influence their interpretation of your story. Some editors are flexible and open to having their expectations exploded by a skillful author. Others will not be.

What can you do? Know what’s important to you. Research the publishers and editor you’d like to publish your work. Ask questions of authors, agents, editors, and librarians. Can’t do it in person? Try social media.

Don’t be so eager to be published that you sign your first contract without knowing what it means to your book and to your values. Decide which issues are a no-deal for you in advance.

Rules in Independent Publishing

You may get the impression that there are no rules in independent publishing. You’d be wrong. 

Read the full blog post on Writers in the Storm.

While there are rules for just about anything in life, there are no rules about whether or not you like a blog post here.

What would you like to know about independent publishing or writing?

Image Credits

Top photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash

Second image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

First Lines from Women’s Fiction

Let’s celebrate women’s history month with first lines from women’s fiction. First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. Do these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more?


The cover of A Train to Moscow has a graphic of yellow corners and a red pair of red triangles with the tops meeting in the middle form two triangles revealing the profile of a young woman looking  pensive. Its the first book in the first lines from women's fiction blog post.

She immediately knows something is wrong. The door to Marik’s house is ajar, and there is a black car blocking the street just a few meters away.

A Train to Moscow by Elena Gorokhova

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, The Jewish Spy, shows a young woman in a red dress and carrying luggage walk away from the camera down a city street, the buildings are unfamiliar and have Nazi banners hanging at intervals. Two bombers fly overhead in a smoky sky.

Rivka’s whole body ached with nostalgia, even though her husband and children were with her in her home town of Nadvorna to celebrate her forty-second birthday.

The Jewish Spy (World War II Brave Women Fiction)  by Hayuta Katzenelson 

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, These Tangled Vines, shows large stone home on a hilltop in the distance.

The telephone rang and woke me from a dream. I must have been deep in the REM cycle, because I was cognizant of the ringing, but I believed it was part of the dream, so I chose to ignore it.

These Tangled Vines by Julianne MacLean

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, The Woman in the WIndow,has a graphic representing venitian blinds in the foreground with the book title in red behind the blinds.

 Her husband’s almost home. He’ll catch her this time.

The Woman in the Window  by A. J. Finn  

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, The Four winds, shows golden ripe wheat stalks against a black background.

Elsa Wolcott had spent years in enforced solitude, reading fictional adventures and imagining other lives.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, Will Women and the Blues, shows a young woman's plunging v neckline in the back of her green dress.

On the fifth floor of the Bronzeville Senior Living Facility, I stand outside the smallest room in the world, doing my best to ignore the dropped ceiling and square linoleum tiles, stoking my claustrophobia.

Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, The Vanishing half shows vibrant colors in the shapes of overlapping female faces.

The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with his own efforts. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

The first lines from women's fiction cover of the book, The last flight, is a red and black photo looking down an escalator to the silhouette of a woman at the bottom.

Prologue:Terminal 4 swarms with people, the smell of wet wool and jet fuel thick around me. I wait for her, just inside the glass sliding doors, the frigid winter wind slamming into me whenever they open, and instead force myself to visualize a balmy Puerto Rican breeze, laced with the scent of hibiscus and sea salt.  

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Clarification

There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Want to Read More?

Did you enjoy this list? Check out previous First Line Fridays. You’ll put an enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below—

What’s your favorite first line?

Strong Female Characters for First Line Friday

Many readers buy a book based on the first line. Do you? These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. This first line Friday post features recent science fiction with strong female characters.


 Iron Widow is an example of science fiction with strong female characters. The cover shows a Chinese woman from the back, half turned back toward the viewier with what looks like gigantic feathers in front of and behind her.

The Hundruns were coming. A whole herd of them, rumbling across the wilds, stirring up a dark storm of dust through the night. 

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Claw Resurgence is an example of science fiction with strong female characters. The cover shows a pale blue background with claw marks ripping through the background and dripping blood.

Wind-driven snow skittered past the tall windows of the Lawless City Hall, rattling at its aged panes as if seeking entry.

CLAW Resurgence by Katie Berry

An example of Science fiction with strong female characters, the cover of They call me princess shows a possibly steam powered machine coming through waves toward a mace holding woman warrior with her back to us

If I had known the banana split would be my last ever. I might have savored it longer.

They Call Me Princess (The Fallen World Book 8) by J. P. Chandler

The Grace Year cover shows the profile of a young woman in shades of pink on a pink background with a white illustration of a flower that's barely visible, you just know this is science fiction with strong female characters.

No one speaks of the grace year.

It is forbidden.

The Grace Year by Kim Ligget

The bald guy at the front door was the least impressive of the guards. 

CARDINAL: Book One of The Citadel Series by Riley E. Smith

Bags open, people. Power’s down. We’re doing it the old-fashioned way.”

Drained by Marc Daniel Acriche

Kayla Covington had been here before, but this time she was determined no one would die.

The Dark Side of Angels by Steve Hadden

Space is cruel to the human body. 

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day

The six silver spheres atop their posts, one for each point on the hexagon that filled the center of the Arrival Room, spun with dizzying speed, and a bone-deep thrumming echoed throughout Earth’s Waystation.

Guardian of Shadows: A Nyx Fortuna Novel by Michelle Manus

The sun crested the horizon, and through the moist haze of early morning, crepuscular rays of light peeked around the silhouettes of massive stone pyramids and temples.

Sandstorm: The Legend of Adira by Monica Clare

Forgive me for a little self-promotion:

The giant bronze angel of death loomed over Miranda Clarke’s shoulder.

My Soul to Keep, The Fellowship Dystopia, Book One, by Lynette M. Burrows

Clarification

There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page (except if you buy one of my books). Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Like Fiction with Strong Female Characters?

Your Opinion is Important

After you finish reading a book, consider giving the book a star rating where you bought the book or on your favorite book list site. A star rating a sentence or two about what you liked or didn’t like about the book makes a difference. It helps other readers decide if they want to read the book, too. It may also help the author decide how to improve their storytelling. Thank you for for your patronage and support of authors. It keeps authors like me working to write more and better stories for your enjoyment.

Want to Read More?

Check out previous First Line Fridays posts. 

Did you enjoy this list of science fiction with strong female characters? You’ll put another enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below—

Which of these first lines spoke to you? Did you buy the book?

The Book that Changed Your Life

Let’s face it. If you’re reading this blog post, you are most likely a lover of books. A lifelong reader. A bibliophile. That means you’ve read -a lot- of books. You may cherish some of those books and re-read them once or more than once. It’s a cliché to say some event or person or book changed your life. But there is truth in clichés. How and why can a book change your life?

A photograph of a young woman reading a book while curled up on a red sofa illustrates Lynette M Burrows's post, What book changed your life.

Reasons We Read

We read for pleasure or entertainment, for spiritual or personal enlightenment, or for information or education. Books can provide a sense of self-awareness, a feeling of connection, or an escape. Our brains benefit from the exercise with increases in concentration, focus. Stories tickle our imagination and our imagination grows.

Unexpected Consequences

You don’t have to be an avid book reader to discover that a book influenced you in unexpected ways. You read for entertainment and gain new perspectives or awareness of different races, religions, cultures, and places. Fiction and nonfiction can show us we are not alone in our thoughts, emotions, or troubles. Through books, we see how other people handle obstacles and conflict. And books can help us be better, kinder, more tolerant people. 

Books that Changed the Most Lives

According to the Library of Congress, the Gutenberg Bible is the most important book in history. It certainly has historical significance as the first book printed with moveable type. Arguably, the Bible is the most read book in history, therefore the book that has influenced the most lives. But let’s look beyond the Bible.

In a survey by Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) , two books stood out. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. Their respondents cited relevancy and emotional impact respectively as the reasons these books were so influential. AYTM noted men were more likely to cite 1984 by as their most influential book.

Books that Changed My Life

I agree To Kill a Mockingbird is a life-changing book and the story themes apply to issues we face today. I first read it in middle school. The story touched me emotionally. I could relate to Scout. It’s the first story I recall that made me aware of racial discrimination and “otherness” intolerance. I re-read the story from time to time. It touches me on a deeper and deeper level each time. Its relevancy both saddens me and increases my resolve to help spread inclusiveness and love.

What can I say about The Diary of a Young Girl? I first read this book as a young girl. It resonated deeply, personally. Her determination to live her best life despite everything influences me every day of my life.

I read 1984 in high school. I can’t say it didn’t influence me because it certainly did. It is difficult to say whether it changed or influenced me because of the frequent social references to the book.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is a book I’ve written about on this blog. Its influence was vibrantly visual and emotionally impactful, but different from the previous two books. 

The cover of Little Women shows a young woman in a civil war era dress at the piano one of the books that changed Lynette M Burrows' life.

I feel the need to mention the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was a book that touched me so deeply that I reread it so often that my paperback copy fell apart. Etched forever into my brain and heart are the impact of war on the March family, the relationship between the sisters, and how their dreams and aspirations grew. And I have to credit Jo with inspiring me to become a writer. That changed my life in a very real way.

What Book Changed Your Life?

As a reader, I believe books change lives. It is my greatest wish that most people would be readers. Readers are my people. My tribe. I suspect you all agree that books can change lives. Do you agree with the top three most influential books in AYMT’s survey? I wonder how many of you will say the same books influenced your lives?

Please share: which book changed your life?