The Things We Do For Success #SampleSunday

Here’s a sample from “Aardvark with an Arrow,” one of the stories included in my science fiction collection, OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS.

ReeMarie is a pop sensation in the near future who jumps on the fadwagon and buys an aardvark. Fortunately for the aardvark, she also hires someone to look out for his welfare.

The Things We Do For Success

excerpt from “Aardvark with an Arrow”
by Marian Allen

Aardvarks went out of favor, and it didn’t take more than a year. As I told ReeMarie, they get big — BIG — and they live for over twenty years. Most of the people who bought real ones during the craze lost interest in the animals when the fashion moved on to pangolins.

“I can’t be out of date,” she told me, when she handed me my pink slip. “Plus, I’m established now. I don’t need a gimmick. It just makes me look like I’m grabbing for attention, and I don’t need to do that.”

I couldn’t just walk away, though. “What about Valentine?”

“He’s yours.” She handed me an envelope. “I thought you might ask. Just in case you did, I had these drawn up. I transferred ownership of Valentine to you. And ownership of that little place I bought in Indiana for him to play in.”

That little place was five acres of woodland with a house and barnyard. It was amazingly generous.

“Thank you. I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”

She looked away. “You’re a good guy. I’m gonna miss you. I’d keep you on, but I don’t need the aardvark.”

By “aardvark”, she meant “expense”. Fame is almost as fleeting for singers as it is for exotic pets. ReeMarie’s revenues were sinking and her retinue needed shrinking. If she wanted to hop out of the category of Flavor-of-the-month and try for Industry Icon, she needed to simplify her profile, cut back on costs, trade extravagance for gravitas.

She smiled. “I’m gonna miss Valentine, too. Just when I was getting into him.” She had been spending more time with us, taking refuge with his quiet snuffling, quizzing me about his habits and preferences and peculiarities.

She gave a laugh with no amusement in it. “The things we do for success, huh? Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.”



From Amazon
From an independent bookstore through IndieBound
In a selection of electronic formats through Untreed Reads

A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write about buyers remorse.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “The Things We Do For Success #SampleSunday

  1. Mitchell Allen

    July 12, 2018 at 2:54pm

    Hi Marian,

    First things, first. This is a lovely excerpt. I could see the diva’s gears turning as she contemplated this crossroads in her life.
    Secondly, it just dawned on me why i was confused about the prompts: The text reads as if it were a footnote to the excerpt, rather than a challenge stemming FROM it. If that makes sense. (Especially since, perforce, the two are always going to be complementary. LOL)



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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 12, 2018 at 3:03pm

      I meant to post this excerpt on Sunday, but I accidentally hit PUBLISH. So there’ll be a different excerpt on Sunday.

      How can I rephrase in order to make the prompt clear? I thought A PROMPT BASED ON MY POST said it. Here’s a prompt. I based it on what I just posted. The prompt is based on my post, not the other way around. It’s A PROMPT and it’s BASED ON MY POST. I’ll be everlastingly grateful if you can help me. I’ve phrased it multiple ways over the years, and I still haven’t got it right. This is why I have a critique group to help me with my stories. Help!!! A PROMPT FOR YOU, SUGGESTED BY THE ABOVE POST? Is that too clunky?

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      • Mitchell Allen

        July 12, 2018 at 3:51pm

        Ooh, a puzzle. There are three bits: a call to action, the source and the challenge. I think that the current wording is technically, if not poetically, clear. Perhaps something along the lines of your last suggestion, which is not clunky, but rather formal. Hmmm…

        MA would love to see you write about {prompt.}

        There! No need to tell, when you can just show readers the prompt. They will immediately see that you must have derived it from your post. 🙂



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        • Author
          • Mitchell Allen

            July 13, 2018 at 3:10pm

            You’re welcome. How nice to be raised to such celestial heights! (And just before the Pulp Faerys reference, too!)



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  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    July 12, 2018 at 3:11pm

    I am NOT going to feel guilty about Gizzy: she’s being taken care of by younger people who knew what they were getting into. But I miss the little furball, and I had this self-cleaning cage around the top of my office in California (where the crown molding would go) well into the design phase…

    I dare not ask right now.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 13, 2018 at 7:21am

      I hear you, Alicia. You looked long and hard for a good home for Gizzy. The pets I feel sorry for are the ones who are simply discarded because the people who get them think companion animals are disposable. That makes me sad for the animals and for the people who are obviously imaginatively deficient.

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