Leprechauns!

This week I’m Playing Nice With Others. Absolute Write’s blogging section has a blog hop every month, and this month I decided to join up. Hi out there, Absolute Writers! The prompt was St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, or anything Irish. So of course I made you all a flash piece of fiction about sadistic leprechauns. Because I can.

Do enjoy.

 

* * *

There’s an old song that goes: “There are fairies in the bottom of my garden”. You know the one.

I don’t have a problem with fairies. They’re stupid, ineffectual little glitter-puffs, but they don’t give a gardener much trouble so long as the occasional plate of Dollar-5s is left out for them to eat. No, my garden is chock-a-block with leprechauns.

Shut up. It’s not sweet. It’s not cool. And if there’s a pot of gold down there those little suckers sure as heck aren’t letting anyone get at it.

They’ve killed one gardener already: hung his corpse on a couple of crossed sticks as a gruesome kind of scarecrow. Mum can’t see either the leprechauns or the dead gardener: she thinks he’s run off to Fiji or something. I see him every time I go out into the garden, though.

I tried to get rid of them once when I was ten. They were eating all my best carrots and eviscerating the sweetpeas I was training, and maybe we could have negotiated that. Only then they went and killed my dog. Cut out his heart and tore mouthfuls from it as I watched, yelping with laughter as I cried.

I laid rat-baits for them the next day. I reckon I must have caught a couple of them on the hop, because when I went out into the garden later on they tied me to the beanpoles and cut off two of my fingers. One for each dead leprechaun.

Mum thought I’d cut off my own fingers by accident: she couldn’t see the leprechauns then, either. That’s when I knew I was on my own.

***

“Don’t you know that today’s March 17? It’s a day for the wearin’ of the green!”

That’s a song, too.

It’s taken me a while to work it all out. A lot of time sneaking around the bottom of the garden and peeping out from behind the curtains in the upstairs bedroom before I find out where their burrow is. And it takes a lot of time to gather all the petrol I need.

Leprechauns like to drink, you see. And March 17 is their big one. They drink and wail and cause as much bloody mahem as possible. I think even Mum gets close to seeing them then. By the time midnight comes they’re back in their burrow, sleeping it off.

So in the wee hours of the morning on March 18, I sneak into the garden with my jerry-cans, one by one until they’re all lined up in a smelly row. It takes a long time pouring and a lot of petrol before I can’t pour any more into the hole. They’re probably already dead, drowned; but I can’t take that chance. The matches are in my back pocket.

***

The newspapers will probably talk about it for weeks. The morning the Schulmann garden blew up in a spray of concrete chunks and turf that sent the clothesline hurtling into next-door’s swimming pool. The roar that shook the neighbourhood and left a crater the size of a small car.

I lost my eyebrows, but it’s worth it. When I scrabble around in the debris the next day, I find a few blackened skulls and my fingerbones. There’s no sign of the gardener. I don’t know where he went.

Now there’s a tiny skull on a stick at the garden gate. Mum can’t see it, so why not? I hung my fingerbones with it as well, as a warning.

So far I haven’t had any more trouble, but if I do, I’ll know how to deal with it.

* * *

Check out the other blog posts in the blog hop:

J Elyzabeth’s Blog Post

BB Burke’s Blog Post

Joanne Zebedee’s Blog Post

A Simple Syrup’s Blog Post

Layla Lawler’s Blog Post

Sudo One’s Blog Post

Improv-o-matic’s Blog Post

Ahelia’s Blog Post

Leigh Anderson’s Blog Post

(NOTE: The last three are yet to be updated with links to the actual post, as they are after me in the blog chain. Do bear with me.)

Scams And Gullibility

Yanno, like Sense and Sensibility, cos it’s . . . oh, never mind.

At some stage in your writing career (well, in almost any career), you’re certain to run into a scammer. Where there are writers desperately hoping and trying for a breakthrough, there are always going to be schemes like PublishAmerica and the like, ready to prey on the hopeful and uninitiated.

In my original quest for a publisher, I ran into three of these. The first was PublishAmerica. I’d sent a blurb and a sample chapter or two before I knew enough to check them out on the internet. They sent back an effusive email missive that said they would like to publish my book FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. (And yes, they did capitalize that.) Once I’d come down from the high of reading that someone wanted to publish my book, a few things snagged uneasily in my mind.

#1 was that capitalized assurance that publication would cost ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. A genuine publisher has no need to tell prospective authors that they won’t charge for publication. Money flows to the author.

#2 was the fact that they hadn’t even read the full manuscript. I got this message after sending only a few chapters to PublishAmerica. So yeah. If a publisher hasn’t read your full manuscript and is already offering to publish it, run. Run for the hills. You might be that awesome, but my bet says you’re not.

#3 was the info I found on the internet after belatedly checking out the ‘company’. If you’re looking for information on almost any publisher out there, scam or legit, you can’t go past Absolute Write and Preditors and Editors.  I can’t stress enough the importance of checking your facts before even approaching a publishing company or agent. The less bait you are for scammers, the safer you’ll be. There will always be the cold-call, or direct approach, but at least you won’t make a mark of yourself.

More insidious was the supposedly reputable publisher who received my application (blurb, chapters, etc), asked for the full manuscript, and then sent an email back to me some months later, indicating that they could publish me under one of their imprints- which turned out to be a vanity outfit that wanted to charge me $3000-$6000 to ‘publish’ my book. This was after I’d checked them out online and found them to be supposedly reputable. It was only later that I learned this particular publisher had a ‘traditional’ side and a ‘vanity’ side. I sent them back an email indicating that I would wait until I found a publisher who felt they could support me in every way. As I said before (and many have said before me): Money flows to the author.

Pic from http://lifeissavage.com/2012/06/21/microsoft-study-solves-why-email-scammers-say-theyre-from-nigeria/

Pic from http://lifeissavage.com/2012/06/21/microsoft-study-solves-why-email-scammers-say-theyre-from-nigeria/

Most recently, a friend of mine was emailed out of the blue by someone who claimed to have read her fiction online, and who was interested in publishing her. Now, my friend is a great writer. However. This person purported to run a certain company with a name almost exactly the same as a reputable company. They were so similar, in fact, that every google search turned up the other publishing company instead of his. The reputable company has been around for some years, and is connected with many reasonably well-known names. The ah, entrepreneurial company has been around for two months. I still don’t know whether it’s a determined scam (though I’m inclined to think so, based on the name game), or whether this guy with no proven publishing experience/contacts just isn’t awake enough to himself to know how publishing works. Either way, it’s not a safe bet. Your writing might be that awesome. But it’s not likely.

There will be stuff you learn along the way – hopefully not through bitter experience – but what I’ve learned is that:

*Money flows to the author

*If a ‘publisher’ contacts you, check them out very carefully before signing anything

*Suspect everyone, and check out everything

*The internet is your friend

*If it seems too good to be true, it probably is (Actually, I got that from Hustle, but it’s true)