I go into every business relationship with an attitude of trust. In short I give my trust; it doesn’t have to be earned. However, if the client breaks that trust, then it’s gone never to return.

That happened last week. The warning signs were there from the get-go, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when the whole gig fell through. It began with a solicitation for a ghostwriter to write a romantic short story. It morphed from “short story” into 20,000-word erotic novella.

Some people don’t understand the difference between “short story” and “novella,” so I let it slide.

The project then expanded into a 100,000-word story split into five 20,000-word installments. Um, buddy, that’s a serialized novel and way beyond “short story.” I proposed an alternative: I’d write five 20,000-word novellas all connected within a series, each story being complete in and of itself. The client agreed, then asked for a synopsis of the story. I asked if the client wanted to review the work chapter-by-chapter as content was developed; he replied that he’d prefer to receive a draft of the entire thing. OK.

I hadn’t included the synopsis in the original scope of work, but I cobbled one together for the first book in the series. The client asked for an outline. I replied that he’d requested a synopsis–outside the scope of work–and I would provide that. He backed down. I submitted the synopsis. He approved it.

I began writing.

A week later, the client asked for a status update. I sent him the link to the drafted content. He asked for completion within a week. Hah. I reminded him that I had not and would not agree to that.

When I completed the draft, I notified him with a link to view the content and asked if he had any changes. He sent me a document my computer could not open, much less read. The ensuing communication asking for clarification could have been aired on The Office. The changes he requested were with regard to adding copyright, disclaimer, and the author’s pen name–nothing to do with the drafted story.

I requested additional feedback, because–hey, I’m an editor, too–I know that no rough draft is suitable for publishing. Crickets. I pulled down the file, sent an invoice, and requested payment. Our agreement stated invoicing would occur upon submission of the draft. I help up my end of the deal, no question about that.

The client hemmed and hawed. The upshot is that I declined to give the client the manuscript without receiving payment for my work. So, I had a 20,000-word novella on my hands. I decided to publish it myself.

As the genre of the novella isn’t in my usual wheelhouse, I adopted a new pen name. If you read back a few blogs, you’ll know my thoughts on that. The book’s been uploaded for around a week (e-book format only). As of June 9, two copies sold. I doubt it will make money, but better those few pennies go into my pocket than to the slimeball who tried to steal my work.

If you’re truly curious about the book–and I have every intention of completing the series–then send me a message. I’ll send you a link to the Amazon page to buy it (just $0.99). Be reminded, it’s erotica, lots of sex with a little bit of story. Not my usual stuff.

Oh, and the whole “playing chicken” part? That can be taken literally, too.

I got five more chickens last week, including one rooster, a handsome bird. He’s also a nasty-tempered brute. He played chicken with me and I won. He no longer lives here. A family who wanted a Buff Orpington rooster to make chicks with their Buff Orpington hens adopted him.

In a way, I’m sorry to see him go. I feel like I failed him. However, I didn’t like being attacked every time I went out to feed livestock, so he had to go.