Collaborating authors are welcome. See this page for authors.
Adam lived alone in Eden for a while, but he got into all kinds of trouble. Then one day a new creature appeared in the garden.
"Adam, now you know that it is not good for you to be alone, so here is a companion for you. I named her Lilith."
Adam and Lilith got along fine until one day they had a fight. Lilith tried to get on top, but Adam pushed her away. She said, "I want to be on top."
Adam, clueless, tired, and ready for sleep, mumbled into his pillow, "What ever for, my dear?"
Lilith had, by this time, learned to take care of Adam's rather fragile ego. "Well, I came up just a bit short there, if you know what I mean."
Adam had no idea what she was talking about. He naturally assumed that when he was satisfied then Lilith was satisfied. Surely He would not design things in any other way. Unbeknownst to Adam, Lilith sometimes just pretended to be satisfied and then quietly took care of her own needs after Adam drifted off to sleep. However, she had been chatting with a serpent who had suggested another solution to her little problem. Taking the serpent's advice, Lilith went ahead and got on top. Adam objected, "No, no, no! The bull is always on the cow."
Lilith lost her cool and said, "You might be bull-headed but I'm not cowed by you. You had your turn, now I'll have mine." Well, as you might imagine, that was entirely the wrong thing to say to the bull-headed Adam.
Things went downhill rapidly and there were some dark days and moody nights in Eden. Lilith decided that she could do without Adam. Finally Adam gave in and asked, "Okay, what do we have to do to get back together?"
With plenty of spare time on her hands, Lilith had been learning all kinds of new concepts from the serpent. She decided to apply some market economics. "If you want to buy me off, then you can pay up."
It took a while for Lilith to explain the concepts of trade and payment to Adam. Eventually they worked out deal. Adam built a cute little bungalow for Lilith and kept her kitchen stocked with apples and bananas. In return, there was no more talk from Lilith about her having a turn on top. The only problem was, Adam could not figure out why he had to supply Lilith with both apples and bananas.
Apples he could understand, since Lilith often ate them, but he'd never seen her eat a banana. Since it was a rather long walk to the banana tree, Adam started complaining. He complained so much that one day there was a new creature in the garden.
Lilith was a failure. Clearly, she thought too much and at this rate of reproductive success (so far, zero) it seemed as if the genre of Urban Fantasy might never become a part of Reality...to make an urbs there had to be swarms of people. Sadly, Lilith had misinterpreted the meaning of "be fruitful" and she had adopted an alternative lifestyle. "Adam, I see that things are not working out between you and Lilith, so here is a new companion for you. I named her Eve."
Adam muttered, "Oh, my! Now I'll have to build another bungalow and collect twice as much fruit each day."
"No, I learned my lesson. I've had a stern talk with Eve: she is forbidden to monkey around with apples and bananas."
Adam and Eve got along fine until one day when Eve had a headache. Adam decided to gather some apples and bananas and pay a visit to Lilith's bungalow. Things went along pretty much in that vein until....
Mary waited patiently while the editor read her story. He kept looking up and looking over his shoulder. Mary thought bitterly: this wimp thinks the police are going to nab him. She wasn't worried. They were surrounded by a mindless crowd of people trying to complete their Born Again shopping before the high holy days. The police were all busy just trying to keep the buses and trains running on time, which wasn't easy under the strain of the heavy holiday passenger load. Mary passed the time blowing bubbles with her chewing gum.
Finally the editor looked up from the palm computer and asked, "Where is the ending?"
Mary kept a stone face. "Did you really expect me to show you the ending? First, pay up."
The editor had to admire her confidence. He started the haggling, "Five thousand now, five more if I like the ending."
Mary gritted her teeth. This was what she truly hated about working with an editor. Editors always tried to claim that since they took all the risk, they should make even more profit than the writer. She countered, "Eighty thousand."
The editor also hated the process of bargaining. He said, "Twenty thousand. Take it or I walk."
Mary took back the computer and slipped it into her hip bag. "No deal. And if I catch you bootlegging my story idea, I'll make sure your wife gets a nasty surprise in her born again swag bag."
The editor angrily stood up, "Don't threaten me! Your stuff isn't that good."
Mary shrugged. "Happy holidays."
The editor stormed away then thought better of it. Mary was moving off through the crowd. He caught up with her and said from behind, "Check your credit account."
She paused in front of a store window and took out her computer. She confirmed that her account balance had been credited with 40,000. She was not happy with the price, knowing that her story would probably earn a quarter million for the zombie author who published it, but she felt certain that she would get the other 40,000. She pulled the memory strip out of the computer and stuck it to the store window with her chewing gum. She turned and walked away as the editor grabbed the memory strip. As she passed behind him, the editor muttered to her, "Lo-Ho."
With his crude insult echoing in her thoughts she contemplated the possibility of selling another copy of the story to another editor, but after enjoying that brief fantasy of revenge she shifted her thoughts. She had learned to always give an editor some chance to think he had come out on top: he could enjoy calling her a cheap trick...she'd be satisfied with full payment.
Mary decided to drop by the office. She found another street-side table, ordered a cold drink and connected in to her guild wiki. She saw that the day's book review was still waiting for a final sign-off from Joey Jud. This was what she hated about being a writer...having to collaborate with idiots like Joey. That and the fact that even if she wrote ninety percent of a story under the guild banner, she'd only get ten percent of the disp. That was why she sold all her best stuff on the black market. Of course, if she ever got caught, she'd do time in prison and then never again be able to join a guild and draw disp from the Cultural Treasury.
At that very moment Mary's writing guild associates were holding a video conference. Joey Jud said, "I'm putting a hold on our review for today."
There was an outburst of questions and complaints from the other eight guild members, four of whom were also named either Mary or Joe. They were all young and of the generation where parents had jumped on the craze of naming their children after famous historical figures. The chatter and noise died down, but Mary Tole kept repeating, "Where is Mary?"
It had become something of a social ritual to respond to "Where is Mary?" or "Where is Joseph?" with "Which Mary?" or "Which Joe?". However, everyone knew exactly who Mary Tole was asking about: Mary Jud, who was no close relation to Joey Jud. Mary Jud had written the book review for that day.
Joey Jud explained why Mary was not in on the conference call, "I've put a hold on, because I suspect that Mary is selling on the black market."
There was a gasp from Cleo Salem that punctuated the silence that fell over the group. Finally Mary Tole asked, "What is your evidence?"
Joey summarized the situation, "As you know, Mary wrote this review of Cleo, Queen of Queens by Rachael Elvish. Of course, everyone knows that "Elvish" is a pen name. She's also written as Rachael Uriel and using a half dozen other names. Anyhow, five years ago Rachael Uriel published a novella called "Diamonds and Pearls" which was the first in what is now a very popular trilogy of novels by Uriel. In her review, Mary complained about the recycling of ideas in Cleo, Queen of Queens and the "Pearls" trilogy. I ran a textual analysis and discovered that there is a high probability style match between Mary's writing and the "Diamonds and Pearls" novella. I extended the search and a dozen other works by various authors came up as matches for Mary's style. Most of those authors show a pattern similar to that of Rachael Elvish, with multiple pen names."
Cleo said, "Damn!"
Mary Tole said, "Well, we have to confront her with this evidence. Is there any reason to wait?"
Joe Gil suggested, "It would be wise to contact the police."
Joey Jud shook his head, "There's no need. I'm using the TexMat software and all of its results automatically get reported to the word dealing division of NYPD. These style comparisons suggest a nearly certain author match, so the police are probably already getting arrest warrants."
Cleo nodded and added, "In a case like this they might delay arrests, They are going to want to reel in everyone, including the middleman editors."
Joey insisted, "Right, but what matters for us is protecting our guild. I say we confront Mary with the evidence. Frankly, I expect she will voluntarily resign from the guild. I'd like her to write a confession...that would be a huge seller and our best compensation for this disaster."
Mary Tole was alarmed by that idea, "You'd try to profit from her illegal behavior?"
"When she's writing for our guild there is no illegality."
Cleo asked, "Are you sure? Maybe Mary has been buying on the black market."
"And publishing through our guild? No. No way. There would be no profit in that, not with our ten-way split."
Cleo had no idea how the black market for cultural works operated. "I don't get it. You say you found matches in style, but how do you know who wrote what?"
Joe Gil held up his hands, "We don't have time for this. What are we going to do about today's deadline?"
Sara said, "My review for tomorrow is almost done. We could move everything in the cue ahead one day."
There were moans of displeasure from the group, but in the end they decided to adopt that as an emergency approach. Joey Jud said, "Okay, Sara, get your first draft up ASAP. I'll contact Mary and try to get her to pen a confession. We also need to think about bringing in a new Guild member."
Joey opened a connection to Mary. He did not have any desire to ease into the difficult topic of his call. He had taken a risk by bringing her into the guild even before she had finished college. He was astonished by the waste of talent...according to the TexMat results, Mary had been publishing for more than ten years and she must have been very young when she started. He wondered: how could a kid get involved with criminal word dealing? He asked, "Why did you do this to me, Mary?"
Mary suspected that her word dealing had been exposed, but she played it cool. "What, did you expect me to always avoid sensationalism."
"I'm not talking about your review of 'Queen'." He asked, Tell me, what is your relationship with Rachael Uriel?"
Mary breezily replied, "I truly detest her writing."
"Really? Even Diamonds and Pearls? And I suppose you also detest the work of Saul Nabat."
Mary was now sure that Joey was on to her. "No, not 'Pearls'."
"You realize that you will lose your guild accreditation over this? You'll probably even go to prison. Do I get to know why? You seem too smart for something this stupid."
Mary grimaced. "It's a rather long story, Joey."
"Give me the short version...make the story good and maybe I won't call the police."
Mary chuckled. "I suppose you would want a story...and not care about the truth."
Joey felt himself starting to blush. "Don't play games with me. You've screwed me and screwed the guild. If you have any honor you'll give us an exclusive on your arrest story. You owe me that much."
"Fine. Golly, Joey, even when I changed my name and sought you out, even then I thought you were the type who would deal. I guess that's why I selected you."
"You selected me?"
"Even before I went to Columbia. I changed my name to 'Jud' because I admired your writing. Mu goal was to join your guild, even then."
"Changed your name?"
"As I said, it is a long story. Check your in box." She cut the connection.
Joey found a new file from Mary:
Joey- If you are reading this then I'm sorry, I never intended to cause trouble for you. I was born Saul Nabat and led a boring existence until I was asked to ghost write and publish a story called "Cleo, Queen of Queens". What I wrote later got published as "Diamonds and Pearls", but that was after I had already been forced to go underground. I condemn Rachael Uriel, or what ever his/her real name is. She stole my "Diamonds and Pearls" and published under her own name. Of course, after the whole Westin/Tullus scandal blew up, Rachael was able to publish ''Cleo, Queen of Queens''. Everyone now knows that Michal Westin was Cleo Abrames, but when I learned that fact it was not widely known. Mayer Tullus started paying me not to publish the truth. Of course, everything blew up in my face. I was terribly naive. Maybe some day we will learn which of the Mayor's enemies hired me in the first place. Anyhow, I changed my identity and became Mary Jud. Someone, I suspect the person who is behind the Rachael Uriel/Elvish pen names, continued using my old identity (Saul Nabat) to publish. Over the years I've flirted with ways to expose Rachael Uriel as a fraud. Sometimes I cannot believe that nobody has caught on. I guess nobody can even imagine that such a successful writer would get involved in dealing. Again, sorry. Goodbye.
Sara called Joey and said, "Hey, did you see my review?"
Joey checked the time. After reading the note from Mary he had drifted into thought and then spent an hour searching for data on the Westin/Tullus scandal. It was amazing the way it had blossomed and then faded just as quickly as it had stormed into the public domain. He replied, "Sorry, I got distracted by this mess with Mary. Just publish it."
"You have no comments?"
"I trust you. Sorry, I just didn't have time to look at."
Sara pushed a few keys and the review was published to the guild's blog. "Okay, it is live. So, you had it out with Mary?"
Joey was not sure what to say. "This is a whole shit load more complex than I had imagined. Somehow she got herself tangled up in the Westin/Tullus scandal."
"Tangled up? What do you mean?"
"I wish I understood it."
Sara waited patiently then asked, "What did she say to you?"
He seemed not to hear the question. He ordered, "Take Mary's name off of the blog."
"Okay, but the readers will want to know what's going on. She's hugely popular"
"Ya, well, I'll put up an explanation later tonight. I think this is going to get very hot. I'll catch up with you later."