Join Josh's Newsletter and receive an exclusive audio book! Exclusive audio offer!

As good an example of how to make the novelette form work as you're likely to find anywhere, providing a deliciously complex protagonist, a touching romance and an ending that widens the scope of the story to something much more profound.

Ruby for Brief Encounters
Five deliciously bittersweet novelettes, each story a standalone and complete in itself. The Petit Mort stories are framed around a mysterious Tim Burton-esque chocolate shop known as Sweets to the Sweet, which acts as a catalyst for the unfolding and often peculiar romances.
The Petit Morts are also collected in print in the In Sunshine or In Shadow anthology.


“Slings and Arrows” – Is Carey being stalked by a secret admirer?
“Other People’s Weddings” – Planning wealthy socialite Mallory Dalrymple’s wedding is the coup of the year — if only Mallory wasn’t marrying Griffin’s ex.
“Sort of Stranger Than Fiction” – Ethan finds himself cornered by Karl Hagar, fellow writing group member, and creepy author of even creepier serial killer tales.
“Critic’s Choice” – If there’s one thing film critic Crispin Colley can say about his ex-boyfriend Rey, it’s that Rey likes to remain friends with all his former lovers–maybe too much so.
“Just Desserts” – Broken in body and crippled in spirit, Ridge Baneberry sees death as the only way out–but not his own death!



Murder had its drawbacks of course, but once the idea came to Ridge, it was hard to get out of his mind.

It began with the argument over the cable bill. Raleigh objected to paying for cable when he was never home to watch TV or use the internet. It didn’t seem to dawn on him that the only reason Ridge was stuck home watching TV and surfing the net was because Raleigh had been driving the car that plowed into the tractor and left Ridge in a goddamned wheelchair.

Ridge reminded Raleigh of that fact—in words of one syllable so Raleigh could understand—and Raleigh turned the usual shades of red, white, and blue and then agreed to pay Comcall their exorbitant rates before he stormed out leaving Ridge to sit at the study window watching his cousin fling himself in his Mazda MX-5 and blast off down the cracked and weed-rutted drive.

There was sour satisfaction to be had in winning their latest skirmish, but some of Raleigh’s barbs had hit home. They worked their way in deep.

You’re not a prisoner. It’s your choice to sit here all day. If I was the one that got crippled, I’d try to show some dignity.

Ridge’s sense of injustice swelled and burst. As luck would have it, he was working on an In Sympathy design at the time. He stared down at the purple and blue line drawing of a Black Prince water lily, and the idea seemed to float into his mind.

The idea that the world would be a much better place without Raleigh Baneberry.

The world, in general—and Ridge’s world, in particular.

For long moments he sat there, his hands shaking with adrenaline and anger, and he realized with a flash of dazzling clarity that he was right. Not only right but reasonable. Plus, this was something still within his power to achieve. He could do it. He could get rid of Raleigh.

No. No euphemisms. He’d had enough of greeting card sentiments.

He could kill Raleigh.

He could murder Raleigh.

Ridge tested the words, tasted the concept on the palate of his conscience. He found it delicious. Delicious after the months of indignity and pain. Mental pain, of course. Oh, blah, blah, blah. But more to the point, physical pain. Physical pain like Raleigh could never imagine, let alone bear.

In fact, for a few pleasant seconds, Ridge toyed with the fantasy of not killing Raleigh at all, simply leaving him somehow helpless and tethered and in excruciating, agonizing pain from his waking moment to the first troubled dream of the unending night.

But no. Totally unrealistic. Besides, Ridge wanted his inheritance. The inheritance that was now Raleigh’s because he had murdered Uncle Beau when he crippled Ridge. Or as good as. It was when Uncle Beau had received the terrible news that his two nephews had been in a possibly fatal car crash that he’d suffered a massive heart attack and died that very night. Died with his new will—which was, in fact, his old will—unsigned.

And though Raleigh knew the old man had fully intended to make Ridge his heir once more—and even old Mr. Maurice of Maurice, Maurice & Morris had tried to shame him into doing the right thing—Raleigh had clung tight and tenaciously to the letter of the law. Raleigh had prevailed.

And he was going to die for it.

But how?


It had to be something that couldn’t be tracked specifically back to Ridge.

Fortunately, all kinds of people would be happy to see Raleigh out of the way. Ridge had the best motive, no doubt, but he’d likely be dismissed as a serious suspect. He was a helpless cripple, after all, and he’d had three weeks to see how a man in a wheelchair was generally overlooked and dismissed.

Of course, his disability did limit his options. He couldn’t drive, so he couldn’t run Raleigh down in a hit-and-run accident. He couldn’t walk, so he couldn’t disguise himself as a burglar and overpower Raleigh.

Hadn’t he once seen an episode of Columbo where a fragile invalid had pretended to mistake her victim for a prowler and shot him through the heart?  That might work. The drafty halls and broken windows of Baneberry Castle would help sell that one.

Complicated, though. And messy.

No—shooting, stabbing, and blunt instruments were probably out. An accident would be best, but given Ridge’s physical limitations, an accident might be hard to arrange.

Which left… ?

Ridge backed his chair from the desk and wheeled it over to the ceiling-high bookshelf. There it was. Eight shelves up. Poisons: Their Properties, Chemical Identification, Symptoms, and Emergency Treatments. He set the brake on his wheelchair, gripped the thick mahogany shelf with one hand, used the other to push himself up. He sucked in a sharp breath at the burning sensation of ground glass at the base of his spine. The pain radiated up through his back and down his legs. But he only needed to stand long enough to snatch the book from the shelf. Prize in hand, he lowered himself again to the padded seat.

He nearly shot out of his chair as the doorbell rang.