Randy Ingermanson 

Randy Ingermanson has published six novels and received about a dozen awards for his writing. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and is the entire software department for Vala Sciences, a San Diego biotechnology company. Randy is the inventor of the "Snowflake Method," used by novelists around the world to design their novels. He the publisher of the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the world's largest electronic magazine on writing fiction. More than 1000 novelists read his daily blog, the Advanced Fiction Writing Blog. Randy's goal is to become Supreme Dictator For Life, and he may have already succeeded. Visit his site at www.SupremeDictatorForLife.com.

Sue the Nymph

Randy Rooney aka Randy Ingermanson

I was talking on the phone to my friend John when a pickup truck turned into my driveway. The sign on the side of the truck said SAM’S PLUMBING AND VAMPIRE REMUVAL SERVICES.

“Hey, John, gotta go. Looks like a problem brewing.” I slammed down the phone without waiting for an answer and went outside.

My plumber, Sam, came striding down the walk, a big grin lighting up his face. “I don’t suppose you got any vampires that need removing, do ya?”

I shook my head. “Sorry, they all moved out when the werewolves started camping in our back pasture.”

“Hey, that’s great! Show me the way. I been needing to interview a werewolf anyways.” Sam flung open my door and steamed inside.

“Sam, wait! That was a joke! We don’t have any—”

Sam was already at the back door, scanning the back pasture and putting on brass knuckles. “Now you just stay inside and I’ll take care of ’em. Werewolves can get a little messy, but they ain’t no match fer a feller that installs low-flush toilets, with his eyes blindfolded behind his back.”

I went into the kitchen, grabbed a Classic Coke out of the refrigerator, and came back into the dining room. I popped the tab, sat down, and took a long pull. “There’s just nothing like a nice Coke before getting down to hard work. You go on ahead and take out those werewolves. I’m going to go write me some fiction—as soon as I finish this Coke.”

Sam stared at my Coke for several seconds, then walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. A minute later, he was relaxing on a chair across the table from me, slurping Coke.

I waited.

Sam drained the last of his Coke and belched with a noise like a sewer drain. “Betcha can’t guess what my first novel is gonna be about.”

Nothing Sam says surprises me anymore, so I tossed out the most ridiculous answer I could think of. “You’re writing an action-adventure, teen-angst, romantic suspense, Western comedy with vampires, werewolves, witches, and blue-skinned space aliens.”

Sam shook his head. “Close, but ya left out the part about the Aimish.”

“Aimish?” I said blankly.

Sam grinned. “Aimish people. Them little bonnets they wear is pretty cute, ain’t they?”

Business had to be really slow right now. “So, how’s the plumbing going these days?”

“Busy, busy, busy! Just . . . not as busy as usual, so I got to thinking about how you just set around in a chair all day and type stuff and then sell boatloads of copies and get rich and it just didn’t seem fair. So I figgered I’d get in on it. And you got to admit, ain’t nobody grabbed the nishee I’m going for, right?”

I took a long swig of my Coke while I puzzled that one out. “Nishee?”

Sam gave me a pitying look. “N-I-C-H-E. It’s just basic marketing that you got to be first to grab your nishee. Didn’t you know that?”

“Niche,” I said.

Sam pulled out a small book, flipped pages furiously, and ran a thick finger down it. “You mean, ‘nix.’ Means ‘no’ in Aimish. Well, don’t feel bad if ya don’t know nothing about marketing. After I get famous, I’ll help you out, take ya under my wing, so to speak.”

I have moments now and again—roughly once every five seconds when I’m around Sam—when I want to punch him in the face. I closed my eyes and thought about happy things until the moment passed. Finally, I took a deep breath. “So tell me about your story, then.”

“I already explainified it to ya.” A note of exasperation hung in Sam’s voice. “I just looked at all the stuff that’s hot and put it all together. You already guessed it all, except you put in Western, which has been dead for ages, and you left out erotica.”

Right in the middle of a long pull on my Coke, I choked when Sam said ‘erotica.’ The soda shot up my nose and spurted out my nostrils. Which was a good thing, because it gave me an excuse to cover my face an instant later when I began a laughing fit that lasted for five full minutes.

When I could see again, Sam was helping himself to a plate of leftover lasagna that he’d found in my refrigerator.

“Sam . . . have you thought about that? If you’re going to write erotica—” I coughed intentionally so I could cover up the grin that was threatening to split my face in half “—what are all your family members going to think? Your sister? Your niece? Your mother?”

“Way aheadaya on that one.” Sam forked in a chunk of lasagna the size of a baseball. “You’re a big shot author, so I’m surprised you ain’t never heard of Sue the Nymph.”

He was right. I’d never heard of Sue the Nymph. I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. “Enlighten me.”

Sam rolled his eyes and chewed methodically on his lasagna. “Lookit, you got a dictionary, same as me. But if you ain’t figgered out how to use it, then there just ain’t no helping ya. Sue the Nymph means a phony name.”

“A . . . pseudonym?” I said.

Sam gave me a strange look. “That’s what I said, ain’t it? Anyways, that’s what I come over for today is to get some idears from you on a good Sue the Nymph fer me.”

With a massive effort, I kept a straight face. “What sort of name are you looking for? Do you want to use a name that suggests anything in particular? Scary? Funny? Erotic?”

“Well, I made me a short list.” Sam flipped to the end of his small book. “How does Stephen Kling strike ya? Gotta nice ring to it, don’t it?”

“Not really. And it’s awfully derivative.”

“Um . . . whatever.” Sam crossed out that entry in his book. “Okay, how ’bout this one: Anne Ricin.”


Sam crossed that off, too. “Stephanie Mired?”


“Cindy Woodsmock?”


We worked through Sam’s entire list. The further we got, the grumpier he looked. Finally, he snapped his book shut and jammed it into the front pocket of his overalls, dug a thick chunk of lasagna out of the gap between his front teeth, and stood up looking huffy. “I guess I shoulda knowed better than to ask someone like you who ain’t got no marketing savey.”

“Savey?” I gave him my blankest look.

“S-A-V-V-Y. Savey.”

“Oh, right.” I shrugged. “Sorry. If there’s any other way I can help you out, just let me know.”

Sam glared at me and stumped out the front door.

I watched him back his truck out of the driveway and shoot off up the street.

My phone rang.

I went back into the office, noted the caller ID, and picked up. “Hey, John! Sorry for the interruption. That was my loony plumber, Sam. You would not believe what he wanted.” I spent the next ten minutes detailing my adventures.

My phone beeped its annoying Call Waiting hiccup. I checked Caller ID. The small display read SAM’S PLUMBING AND VAM.

I sighed heavily. “Hold one second, John. That crazy Sam is calling and I think he’s mad at me. I’ll try to calm him down before he does something crazy.”

I clicked the TALK button. “Hey, Sam, what can I do for you?”

“Just one thing.” Sam’s voice sounded like he was talking through gritted teeth. “How do ya spell yer last name?”

Roughly a thousand questions flitted through my mind in the next two seconds. If Sam used my name as a pseudonym, could I sue him? How long would it take to get some sort of a restraining order to stop him? If he e-published, how would I ever get all those copies destroyed? If I sued for damages, would he have any money to pay? How would I ever get my name back if he did what I thought he was going to do?

“I’m sorry. There must be some static on the line. What was your question?”

“How do you spell your last name?” Sam said again.

“Just like it sounds: O-L-S-O-N.”


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