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The Games You Cannot Win

The Games You Cannot Win

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The Games You Cannot Win

231 pages
3 hours
Oct 26, 2016


Roll the dice, pick a card, tell a lie, hide the truth. Whatever the move, it all just part of the game. Follow the lives of four very different characters who are all trapped in an insidious game. Each story delves into the intricate web of misaligned motives and obscured half-truths.

In This Business
A career hangs in the balance between a wicked deal with a publishing company and a daughter’s loyalty to her mother. As she works furiously to meet her deadline, she debates the impending betrayal: her ambition, or her beloved mother.

The Joker
In the middle of his quarter-life crisis, Randolf, a young reporter, stumbles upon a political scandal so dark and treacherous that it threatens the very fabric of our democracy. Will he reveal the truth before it is too late, or will the innate powers of human nature ruin his story before it is even printed?

Katherine Hertzfeld-Doll has just begun her term as a Supreme Court Justice. Before she can even get her bearings she is thrown into a scandal that threatens to compromise her life’s work and end her career. Will she cave under the pressure or will she use her political power to hide the truth?

Escaping Avila Chase
Agent Trevor Hobbertson is about to crack the most important case of his career with the FBI. As he pursues the criminal he is also taunted by vivid memories of his ex-girlfriend. Is that nagging feeling that he is being taunted founded, or is there an evil mastermind lurking behind the scenes and planning his demise?

Oct 26, 2016

About the author

MK Williams is an Indiana-born, Philadelphia-raised, Florida-transplant working and living beneath the sunny, and often rainy, skies of Tampa. As a writer Williams has penned three novels, the first to be published being Nailbiters, as well as many short stories. Williams' writing influences include a lifetime of watching suspenseful mysteries and action movies and reading Stephen King, Ian McEwan and J.K. Rowling. For more information on the premiere novel, Nailbiters, and forthcoming novels and collections please visit: https://1mkwilliams.com/

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The Games You Cannot Win - MK Williams


Copyright © 2016 by Mary K. Williams

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof

may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

without the express written permission of the publisher

except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing, 2016

Publisher: MK Williams Publishing, LLC

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016915862




Mary K. Williams



All Persons Fictitious Disclaimer:

This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and co-incidental. Any names used that happen to match the name of a real person is either coincidental or intended as a compliment.

Works by M.K. Williams


The Project Collusion Series



The Feminina Series

The Infinite-Infinite

The Alpha-Nina

Other Fiction

The Games You Cannot Win

Escaping Avila Chase

Enemies of Peace


Self-Publishing for the First-Time Author

Book Marketing for the First-Time Author

How to Write Your First Novel: A Guide for Aspiring Fiction Authors

Going Wide: Self-Publishing Your Books Outside The Amazon Ecosystem

The Fiology Workbook

Table of Contents

Authors Note

In This Business…

The Joker


Escaping Avila Chase

Author’s Note

When I set out to assemble this collection of stories, I wasn’t entirely sure which pieces to include and how to tie them all together. Should I just put together all of the short stories I’ve ever written into one monster volume, or should I just include the most recent items?

As I finally settled on the list of pieces to be included, the common thread become evident. The stories in this collection were a combination of passion pieces and stories that were just fun to tell. Some were so fluid and easy to write that I struggled to get the words down on paper fast enough, and others went through multiple versions and revisions over the course of 4 years. While the characters each have their own story to tell, they are all struggling with a situation beyond their control. They are thrust into the middle of a game that they cannot see their way out of. Whether it is career focused, political, personal, or mental: each character struggles with the fact that they are in situation that they can’t control and they can’t seem to get the upper-hand in.

Whether you face a situation where you want to get ahead at work, or if you find yourself constantly getting frustrated by politics and pundits, or if you can’t stand it when someone you don’t have any feelings for tries to meddle in your relationships, try to not let them win. For one moment; close your eyes, take a deep breath, and decide that you don’t care. That’s right, stop caring about it. Eventually everyone retires, so why put forth the energy on trying to win at your career. Inevitably, election outcomes are in the hands of the electoral college and all of our huffing and puffing after the fact won’t change the results. Moreover, when someone is trying to get a reaction out of you, the only way to beat them is to not react. So, try not caring. The easiest way to win an unwinnable game, is to not play at all.

When I tried this in my own life I found that I suddenly had more energy to devote to my dreams. I had the courage to write the stories that just needed to be told without caring whether a critic liked the final outcome. I stopped worrying that a story that I just wanted to tell might be read as a personal attack on someone else. I know it isn’t, so I stopped caring if someone else extracted their own interpretation. They were going to do that anyway.

The marvelous thing about exiting from the games that seem to run our society, is that it frees up so much energy. Time and worry are two things that will never be refunded, even once you feel like you’ve won. If you want to find a way to channel your efforts into something positive and worthwhile, try a charity.

The final story in this series: Escaping Avila Chase, was by far the most fun to write and also the most ambiguous. At times I had a sinister ending all planned out, only to replace it with something sweet and sappy, before going back to darker content. A conversation with a good friend of mind last winter gave this story the ending it needed. My friend inspired the unnamed character who is speaking at the book launch in the story. The character was a woman who worked for a non-profit aimed at helping children lost to human-trafficking. My friend traveled to India to help out with the current efforts to stop the cycle. She learned about the systematic issues in place that need to be resolved and the different elements of life inside the brothels that are so particularly brutal.

When she told me her story, I thought to myself, it’s like a game you can’t win. There is too much to be done, and so many already impacted by it. My pessimism only lasted for a moment as her story continued to give me hope and inspire me to try to focus my efforts on a more worthwhile cause.

Imagine if we all laid down our smaller troubles: will I get a promotion, will so-and-so start to respect me, will they just move on already, and began to focus on the global issues that actually threaten our humanity. What if we all worked together to end the systemic issues of human trafficking and stopped worrying about our little daily battles. How much better would our world be? How much better would we feel?

If you want to start to take action, visit Effect.org. Whether you want to travel to Nepal or India to help onsite, or if you just want to share their mission with your friends on social media, every little bit can help. Every action towards that mission helps us to all win the only battle that matters: human rights.

In This Business…

A Dedication

First, know that each story you read, novel you devour, or film you screen is born from a concentric system of struggle. The first level is the deep-seeded life struggle that gives birth to creativity. The second, and sometimes third layer, is the determination and grit required to adequately bring the story to life. The next struggle is the anonymity and the Himalayan-sized mountain of effort required to get another person to pay attention to that story. The final layer is the internal anguish of reaching for a dream and seeing that it isn’t what was once imagined. This system has the ability to pulverize those who become trapped in the centrifugal force of its gravity. Only a few happen to survive. And even fewer are able to thrive.

You should keep this in mind as you read this story. This story is about Karla and the woman who means the most to her. You see, Karla has the utmost respect for her mother, Sheryl.

Sheryl had spent her whole life longing, dreaming, and working to be a published author. Sheryl longed to see her name on a book spine next to the greats: Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and of course King. She wrote vigorously in high school and college, and when she was rejected from journalism school, she found herself at a loss. But she persisted. Like most writers she had the utmost respect for a diligence toward pursuing truth and justice. So she became a lawyer.

Karla used to watch her mother as she studied. It wasn’t easy being a single mom, but Sheryl worked and went to school during the day. She put a hot meal on the kitchen table each evening and gave little Karla the attention and love she needed to grow and blossom. After their evening routine, Sheryl would often be found writing. In the law school years Sheryl was writing briefs and case studies. In the few years after law school she was working diligently to establish herself.

Somewhere around the time that Karla was starting high school, Sheryl reflected on the dreams deferred in her life. Undaunted, she picked back up an old story she had begun years before. She always claimed that she was a good writer, not only in content, but also in practice. Sheryl wrote every day. Granted, she was writing documents chock full of legal jargon, but she was writing. She decided to dust off her old manuscript that she had punched out on her typewriter as a teenager. Sheryl updated the story as she transcribed it onto her desktop computer. She revised and removed characters, added others, and made it into a newer, better story.

It was the Next Great American Novel. She always called it that. Sheryl would tell Karla, You know I’m writing the Next Great American Novel here, with a twinkle in her eye. Karla believed her mother and saw the joy on her face. One day, the story was done and Sheryl sent it off to a publishing house. Both women were so excited and Karla’s own dreams of being a writer raced along with her mother’s. If my mom can do it, maybe I can too. Oh, how Karla hoped and prayed for her mother’s dream.

Three weeks later the manuscript came back to them. The large envelope had never been opened. It was marked in stark red with Return to Sender. That was worse than a rejection, it wasn’t even opened. Karla tried to tell her mom to keep trying, to do some research on how to get published. After all, didn’t every great writer start out by hearing the word No?

No one ever had it handed to them, Karla reminded her mother, imitating all the times Sheryl had reminded her to work hard and remain diligent in all of her efforts. Sheryl nodded in agreement, but Karla could see the stargazing, dream-fixated girl inside her mother was quickly fading into the distance. She was losing that last bit of childish hope and blind ambition that keeps us all young and longing for the horizon.

Sure enough Sheryl did persist, for a few months at least. She would spend time going to seminars at local libraries and hearing from local authors who, while published, were the equivalent of the lint the collects between your toes in the publishing world. They were there, but just barely.

That was around the time that Sheryl’s caseload increased. She was still visualizing her goal, but she had a great career that couldn’t be jeopardized by her side-project. Sheryl put aside the manuscript and focused on her well established and successful career.

Before they both knew it, Karla was graduating high school and was moving onto college. Karla elected to be an English major. She thought they would teach her to be an excellent writer. Shouldn’t there have been a course on obscure and descriptive words? All of her favorite novelists used such vibrant and deliberate words. They must have learned them for the specific use of adding value to their novels!

Karla studied hard, fell in love, had a broken heart, healed, made friends, had fun, and experience the so-called four best years of her life. Sheryl was so proud the day Karla graduated. As any loving daughter would do, she reminded Sheryl that the next big milestone for them was for Sheryl to be published. Me and mom against the world, Karla said after they finished their celebratory dinner.

It was clear that Karla was a lucky young woman. She had a job offer in the big city to work for an advertising agency. She had an entry level position in the copywriting department. (For those of you not in the know, the words you see on an advertisement are called copy; hence Karla was a copywriter, not a copyrighter. There is a big difference.

Karla was so excited to live in her crummy little apartment in the city. She hatched a plan to keep on writing, though. Her mother had always told her that a good writer, writes every day. With Karla’s new job and the requisite 20-something activities of hanging out with friends, going on first dates, and working out, she realized that her time for writing would be limited. She couldn’t go off on a good writing bender whenever she wanted without becoming an anti-social hermit, right? Or at least that is what she told herself.

Karla settled on starting a blog. It was very 21st century of her. She would chronicle her daily observations. She figured that in a few decades she could look back and gather her sociological findings and memoirs into a good novel or two. Or at least that was the plan.

Karla decided to write before bed each evening. It filled the empty void that evening prayers should have filled. Don’t think of her as a heathen, Karla did pray, just not as often as some might think she ought to.

She decided to focus her blog on the problems and thoughts of her generation. She titled it Meanwhile the Millennials are… It was so clever and she was faithfully devoted to maintaining the daily entries. Karla would jot down ideas for blog-entries on Post-Its at work and stuff them in her purse; not wanting people to discover her addiction to creating sentences and paragraphs, writing until she went mad.

After a few months of posting, Karla had developed a solid following. Mostly it was her friends and a few coworkers in the copywriting department who were also aspiring novelists. There were only a handful of followers whom she had never met, but had discovered her blog through another blog that they had followed. Karla was aware that some of her posts were being linked to on other sites, but she wasn’t trying to gain notoriety through her blog at all. She wanted to stay in practice with her craft.

And that was how it happened. That was the beginning of her fantastic rise to success. Karla remembered consoling her mother when her manuscript was sent back saying that no one ever just had success handed to him or her. Well, Karla did. The publishing world took notice of the quick rise of her blog and just let her walk right in. Heck, they opened the door and called for a limo to drive her to their location. They handed it to her so easily, but there would be a catch.

After about five months of regular posts, Karla received an e-mail from a woman claiming to be a literary agent. Her name was Gloria Dolittle. She had been following Karla’s blog and she saw the potential for more success. The agent wanted Karla to write a book and said that she would help market it. Gloria had plans to monetize the blog and increase subscribers. This woman had it all figured out, she was just looking for the right person to fill in as the young up-and-coming writer. Karla was skeptical at first. After all, if something is too good to be true, it must be. Karla reviewed the contract herself – not wanting to tell her mother just yet. She was afraid that her mother would resent her or be jealous, but that was an ancillary fear. Karla was most afraid of her own success suffocating her mother’s dream completely.

Karla highlighted the areas of the contract that she wanted further explanation on. Then she scheduled a meeting with Gloria. Karla looked her up online and confirmed that Ms. Dolittle had several successful authors that she was representing. But, Karla also wondered about the unsuccessful ones that weren’t listed. How many silent mice were behind every proud parrot in Gloria’s agency?

Karla put on her sharpest outfit. She looked polished, but not too formal. She accepted the ride in the limo to Gloria’s offices. She met with Gloria and her in-house counsel, an old grumbly man named Smith. They reviewed the contract. Karla would have 6 months from signing until the publication of the book. This meant basically no hanging out with friends, all dates postponed, and workouts deferred. She would only be paid after the book was complete so Karla couldn’t quit her day job. As expected, the royalties were ironed out.

Gloria showed Karla her month-by-month media plan. She even discussed bringing in a ghostwriter for the blog in the interim so that Karla could focus on the novel. Karla put her foot down on that point. Gloria assented that Karla could remain the sole writer on the blog. But, Gloria’s agency would now own the domain name and rights to all published content. Karla felt like she was signing a deal with the devil. She could feel it in her bones and all her joints that she was signing away her soul for a chance at success. Gloria’s sweet smile was too yellowed, and her hair was too shiny. Perhaps she was an emissary from Hades, sent to tempt and ploy innocent and ambitious Karla. After a few seconds of hesitation, Karla decided that she would need to grab the bull by the horns, and stop second-guessing the opportunity in front of her.

Karla sat quietly at the table reviewing the finalized contract after Smith typed up the revisions and printed it out, in triplicate. The pen was in her hand, poised to sign when she had such a brilliant idea that she had to stop herself. I want to add another author to this deal. If I’m published, then I want my mother’s novel to be published as well. Gloria looked at Karla like she was an infant suggesting that the sky should be purple.

No. That we can’t agree to now. But you can have her send the manuscript to me. Once your book becomes a success, you’ll have so many connections and strings to pull I’m sure you’ll get to help your mother out. That’s so sweet. Gloria jotted a quick note on her marketing plan; no doubt an idea for an interview with Karla where she would discuss her mother and her influence. Karla didn’t like that Gloria was trying to commercialize her respect and admiration for her mother. It made her feel cheap, but then again maybe Gloria was just doing her job.

Karla knew deep down that Gloria had no intention of reading her mother’s manuscript. She could see it in Gloria’s fake smile and ink-well eyes. This was the publishing business. You didn’t get to negotiate your way in. You had to be one of the lucky few that were picked from the millions of unread manuscripts and put up on a pedestal. Think of all those unread characters and untold adventures. What’s worse is that they still look down on self-publishing, so anyone with the guts to go it on their own is spurned by book-stores and magazines. The publishing business is like the mob. If you’re in- you’re in. If you’re out- you’re dead to the world. YouTube sensations who are later signed recording artists aren’t stigmatized, so why are

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