WARNING: This book contains rough language, spoilers for a possible sequel to Judy Blume’s Blubber, suggested lyrics for the theme to Sanford and Son, and one very mixed-up romance author.

Words come easily to writer Danni Hewitt. Success…not so much. When Krystal Kordova, America’s latest reality sweetheart, inks a major book deal, Danni spirals into depression to the point where the idea of soothing her jealousy with a murderous rampage appeals to her.

Of course, this requires getting close enough to Krystal and her family to draw blood, something Danni achieves when she manages to land a job as Krystal’s ghostwriter.

Is the pen deadlier than the sword? Stick with Danni and find out.


Okay, before I get started here I need to take an informal poll. How many people here have read Delilah in Pastels? Show of hands, even the wait staff…gotta make sure we’re thorough here. Wow, that many. And you all liked it? Even the people raising their hands who didn’t read the book or never heard of it, just so they don’t feel left out? You liked that piece of shit book, too?

Well, congratulations. You guys are basically spearheading the downfall of civilization as we know it. I’m serious. You do realize the soccer mom hack who wrote that steaming pile of horse crap can’t spell to save her life, right? Okay, I apologize. “Write” probably isn’t the proper word to use here, because I know writers, and am I a writer. Writers actually invest thought and planning into a project, whereas Cindy Shore basically set a sheet of tracing paper over somebody else’s book and outlined all the sentences.

We can say this out loud, it’s okay. She wrote fan fiction about a book, and turned it into a book. Can you believe that shit? And publishers were falling at her feet to contract her because she decided somebody else’s chaste, otherworldly wizards weren’t having enough sex to satisfy the public. Totally understandable. You know, I can remember when I went to a launch party for one of the Levi St. Cloud books…with my third-grader…thinking, “Gee, that last book was sorely lacking in butt sex and see-through blouses. I hope…I hope this one makes up for it. How else is my little Jimmy going to learn about safe words and nipple clamps? His father sure as hell can’t tell which hole is which.”

So, yes. I am a writer. I am a romance writer by trade, can’t you tell by my flowery language this evening? I actually have one book published. Aw, thank you. That applause will definitely boost my bank account, by like twenty cents. You have one of those barcode scanners on your phone? You, sir? Because if you want to hold it up, I do have a QR code tattooed on my arm here that links to Amazon where you can download the eBook. Isn’t this great? And I can write off this tat as a promotional expense. I’ll bet that Shore lady didn’t think of that!

I don’t normally tell people that I write romance, because when I do I always get that leering response. Especially from men. They’re like this… Soooo, you like to write the sex-ay, huh? Then they turn to my husband and give him the old wink and nudge, like he should be in traction for serving as my test subject for all the orgy scenes and hanging from the ceiling kink that I write. Let me explain something to you: if my husband and I were having incredible, wall-shaking sex as often as the characters in my books, there wouldn’t be any books, okay? I wouldn’t get out of bed, except maybe to brush my teeth, and gargle what I didn’t gargle in bed. Oh, yah, don’t knock it. What are you looking at me like that? If you’d read that in Delilah in Pastels I’d bet you’d have pictures of you doing it on your Facebook.

You know what turns my husband on? Royalty statements. Checks in the mail. I’m looking forward to the day I actually get one so I can measure his boner for accuracy.

And speaking of, the description of the hero in Delilah in Pastels is so unrealistic. I mean, really, I’m supposed to believe this Jarrell Colcord is a twenty-five-year-old self-made billionaire with thick, flaxen hair and bee-stung lips, an ass sculpted by a misunderstood Renaissance genius, and a cock so obviously modeled on God’s Himself because of its magnificence. Holy Christ, the way Shore goes on and on, waxing worshipful on Colcord’s mighty, magical Cock of Wonder. Indigenous tribes in third world countries share folk songs about this imaginary man’s penis, and how it will one day restore balance to nature. I’m recalling a scene now, in that book, where Delilah sees him naked for the first time and her eyes widen like saucers—you know that part, it’s only the first of six hundred fucking times the bitch does that in the book—and it’s not because she’s impressed. It’s because this poor girl is thinking how in the holy name of fuck is that going to fit! Jarrell Colcord is obviously half wildebeest or something, with a penis you’d have seen on the special mating episode of Wild Kingdom.

Oh, and the orgasms. I for one am amazed by the accuracy with which Cindy Shore records physical body functions. The first time Colcord comes in that book he’s pulsating loads and loads of liquid ecstasy into his de-flowered lover, and I’m reading this and thinking he must have had enough to paint the house. Did you read it? Of course you did, everybody and the Pope is reading this fucking book right now and thinking this is what happens during sex. Women are thinking a man exists who can pump out gallons of cum from his freaky monster penis. The NYFD needs this guy during fires; he can just whip it out and hose down buildings. What’s that, the Times Square billboards are on fire? Stand aside, Captain, I got this. Zzzzzip.

Billionaires…all the romance heroes are uber-rich in the books now. Nobody wants the schlep who works at Best Buy, sorry to you losers in the front row here. Well, who can blame a woman for wanting to fantasize about a guy with money, in this economy? I’m a starving artist, and I fantasize about the coffee shop barista handing out free samples of crumb cake. What I don’t get, though, is that in all these romance novels coming out the billionaires are incredibly sexy and they work out and their bodies are like Greek gods…and of course they have huge cocks. The Mighty Cock of NASDAQ, it predicts the market. It’s not realistic, though. Can you name one sexy, young billionaire? Who? Bill Gates? Would you honest to God fuck Bill Gates? Don’t lie…nooooo. If he didn’t have two cents to rub together you’d tell that Poindexter to go screw himself.

Where are the sexy billionaires? They’re all either old people seconds from their last breath or pasty Harvard drop-outs who list their World of Warcraft adventures as job experience. That guy who invented Facebook—he’s young, but sexy? Who, Richard Branson? Yeah, I’m sure he’d be a lot of fun but he looks like a sunburned Shar-Pei. Why do you think he spends so much time in space? He has a better chance of getting laid there with his looks. Space is a huge vacuum, too. That must work wonders on wrinkles—it’s the world’s most expensive facelift.

In all seriousness, though, I do aim for realism in the romances I write and fail to sell. Perhaps that’s why. Women are into hot ménage a trois stories right now. Novels about women who get it on with two men at once…yeah, she’s grinning and not telling, this one over here. Criminy, if I had two men in my bedroom the first thing we’d be doing is folding laundry. Two men who’d willingly clean my house—now there’s a turn-on…

* * * *

Danni remembered Joe’s advice: leave on the high notes. While the lights above prevented her from seeing too far into the crowd, their enthusiastic applause clearly declared she’d “killed.” With that last ménage joke leaving some in her audience gasping for breath, she bade goodnight with a short wave and shouldered past the tables surrounding the small comedy club stage. Franklin Ardell, the night’s emcee, shook her hand as they passed and offered a congratulatory wink. He’d encouraged her when the show began, and now beamed as though taking credit for her success.

“Give it up one more time for Danni Hewitt, ladies and gentlemen,” he called out on taking over the mic, pushing the crowd’s volume to eleven. “That right there is a first for this club: the woman with balls bigger than mine.”

“Don’t forget the double-D battery dick in my purse,” she called over her shoulder, then quick-stepped into the back waiting area near the kitchen with the other comedians performing tonight. Of the six on the bill tonight, she was the only amateur, and she wouldn’t have taken this leap if not for Joe Collins. She hadn’t known the man but forty or so hours, after he introduced himself at Artichoke Pizza. He’d overheard her ranting to a friend over the phone, and cornered her into parlaying her professional rage into an act.

“Look, if you bomb, I’ll buy the drinks,” he’d cajoled. “Do five minutes just in case you’re nervous, that way if you die people won’t think you wasted too much of their night.”

Squeezing past a waitress in a form-fitting t-shirt cut nearly to her nipples, Danni recalled the memory of that whirlwind encounter and her reaction. “I don’t do stand up. I write about romance, sex.”

“That’s good, work with it. All the best jokes are sex-related, especially if you’re not getting any.”

Danni could attest to that. She’d invented the husband and family for the act, and the genuine, self-deprecating rage over Cindy Shore’s literary success obviously came through in a humorous way.

“Fine,” she’d relented, “but you go on after me. That way you can spend your time apologizing for this horrible idea.”

So that’s how a failed romance novelist became a stand-up comic, coached by a nationally known comedian with two short-lived sitcoms under his Yankees belt buckle. Danni remained in the shadows and watched Joe mug his frustration over having to follow a woman with balls bigger than his, and wondered if two failures could cancel each other out.