“Blown Away” Pre-Order Announcement!

I am super stoked to inform you of our newest book release, our proudest achievement, and our most precious baby of all the books…

Introducing “Blown Away”, the 3rd and final book in the ‘Life’ Series! Not only has this book been a huge labor of love for us (over a year in the making), but it is the first book of its kind to feature Fifty Words or Fewer Stories! Yep, that’s right: each one of the fifty stories in this collection are at least fifty words, or often less. This is flash fiction at its tightest, challenging form. Here’s more:

“Blown Away” rings in the 3rd and final installment of the best-selling ‘Life’ series, in its slicing examination of one of the most delightful and likewise, challenging portions of life: the unexpected. Using characters in inventive new ways (water and fire fall in love in “Fiery Dance”), examining people in surprising – and often, devastating –circumstances a soldier returns home to find an unforgiving country, (“A Soldier’s Story”), and serving up twists in every tale (a schoolchild reveals a little too much in “Show and Tell”, with hilarious results) Blown Away seeks to do just that – blow you away – all in fifty stories, fifty words or fewer. Life is run on the unexpected, and Blown Away recreates and reveals the wild ride it often gives us, and where it takes us. In the first ever, short story collection series, author Paul Worthington powerfully demonstrates the joy and despair of the unexpectedness of life, and all the beautiful colors in between. Prepare to be blown away…

It is currently available for pre-order, and will be released on February 14th, 2015. (We will release it on Valentine’s Day because we’re sure you’ll love it so much.) The stories range from heartfelt to thought-provoking, hilarious to deeply powerful, every one of them with an unseen twist. Here’s one story at this blog post, but continue reading below for an extra two stories to get a glimpse into “Blown Away.”

But, where to get it, you ask? Click any of the buttons below to go to your preferred place of purchase, and pre-order now!

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The Process

After challenging ourselves to writing 300 words or fewer stories in the 2nd ‘Life’ Series book, “Dusty Remains,” we decided to go a little crazier and try out 50 words or fewer stories. We wrote and wrote, and after perhaps some 75 stories, we whittled it down to 50.

But nope. We had to give you the best of the best. Only 25 out of that fifty survived the cut, and we went writing again. Fifty word stories might sound easy, but yeah, it’s a little tricky. One of our key processes were to choose three random words, and construct a story out of that. For example, from the story “Ashes to Ashes”, we chose the words: dust, counselor, and keys, and this what was formed:


Ashes to Ashes

As the dust cloud covered the horizon, Mr. Henderson with wide eyes rushed us back into the van.

The pack of wild dogs sprung from the dust and tore into our camp counselor…just as I saw the van keys laying in the grass.


We finally got to fifty great stories (out of a pool of probably 150+), and put together “Blown Away.”

But why not give you an extra treat? We contacted one of our favorite artists, Peter Underhill, to create a series of beautiful pen illustrations to accompany fourteen key stories. Our book cover designer, Moe Pike Soe, created a slamming book cover for us, and then it was time for it to hit the presses. And now, that’s where you come in:

The Worthington Challenge

You have the option to pre-order the book now, and receive it on February 14th, 2015. But meanwhile, tell all your short story-lovin’, rabid-readin’, need-a-break-from-the-daily-hustle-and-want-a-good-short-entertaining-book friends to check out “Blown Away.” Moreover, we’ve also introduced something new – a good, fun challenge – so you can win something extra as well. If you can read one Blown Away story a day, for fifty days, and then e-mail us your experience to paul@paulworthingtonbooks.com, you will win a free copy of our latest, soon-to-be-released short story, “Three Sheets to the Wind.” But be aware…there’s only fifty winners. (We really like the number fifty, as you can see.) Pre-order, read, and review as soon as possible!

Every one of these stories are God-inspired. Without Him, they would not have been possible. And we thank you for being a part of this process with us. Your support encourages us every day, and we truly wrote these stories just for you: whether you simply love short stories, are intrigued by flash fiction, or are looking for a book that gives you a great read without taking you months to read it, “Blown Away” is for you. Pre-order at the available places below, and get ready to be blown away…

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TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Sticks

(Photo and story by Shortstoriesshort.com)

When I started this blog, I had high hopes. But I must admit, there were many doubts too. Over the years I have seen this blog grow beyond my wildest dreams. And I have each and every visitor that comes to Cop-A-Squat or shares this blog with others, to thank for its huge success. I am mostly grateful to our Heavenly Father: without Him, none of our good fortune would have happened.

What can one man do? Quite a bit, if you look at the lives of some of the greatest men that ever lived. What can an army of men do with a solid purpose? Together they can move the world. Just like a bundle of sticks, there is more strength together than one stick alone.

As we enter a new year, what are your plans to change the world? What can you do to make a positive impact on others? We, at Cop-A-Squat, publish posts and books that we hope will entertain and inspire people to enjoy healthy reading, that hopefully will make reading more enjoyable and impact their lives in positive ways.

With every purchase of our books you are helping us change the world, one reader at a time. We can bring encouraging stories to the world, but we cannot do this alone. We need each and every one of you, because there is strength in unity – we ask you to join us on our journey.

I want to share an inspiring short story and a short video with you on the power of working together. See how the power of many makes all the difference.

Please enjoy the ‘Unity is Strength’ short story and its accompanying video. See you all in the coming months. We wish you all a Happy New Year.

The Cop-A-Squat Family

 

 UNITY IS STRENGTH

Once, an old man was very ill and lay dying in his bed. He had four sons who were always fighting with each other. He always worried about them and wanted to teach them a lesson and asked his sons to come to him. When they came, the old man gave them a bundle of sticks and said, “Can you break these sticks?”

The first son tried to break the bundle but nothing happened. He tried very hard and finally gave up. Then it was the turn of the second son to try his luck. He thought it would be an easy task and picked up the sticks easily. He tried his best to break the sticks but nothing happened. Then, the third son tried to break the bundle of sticks, but he couldn’t do anything either.

Meanwhile, the youngest son jeered at his brothers and thought they were very incompetent. He thought he was very clever and took one stick at a time and easily broke all of them.

The old father then smiled at his sons and said, “Children, do you understand what happened? It is always easy to break the sticks one by one. But when they are bundled together, none of you could break them. In the same way, you four brothers should always be together. No one will be able to hurt you then.” The four brothers realized what their father was trying to teach them, forgetting all their enmity and learning that unity is strength.

From that day onwards, they never fought with each other and lived together in peace and harmony.

 

The Best Short Christmas Story I’ve Ever Read (The Gold Wrapping Paper)

christmas-story-gold

 (Photo and Story by: Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info )

 

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. I pray you all have a safe holiday, while spending time with loved ones. Speaking of loved ones, here’s a story I’m sure will make you appreciate those you love even more. A word of warning: get some Kleenex; you’re going to need it.

 

 The Gold Wrapping Paper – An Inspirational Short Christmas Story

Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.

As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy!”

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. “Don’t you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside the package!”

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full.”

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.


In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

Whew. Gotcha, didn’t it? Leave a comment letting me know what you think about this wonderful, heartfelt story.

HANDS OFF

Pointing finger 2

I just have to say it – I appreciate every reader that finds his or her way to our blog. Thank you – you are the best, hands down.

Speaking of hands, do you like yours? I like mine’s. I wash my hands a lot, even when they are clean.

Have you ever thought how different your life would be without hands?  Let’s write a fifty words or less story living without hands. Write with abandonment. It’s your story, and I’m interested in reading your piece of flash fiction. Here’s my fifty words or less story from the soon to be released book, “BLOWN AWAY.” Afterwards, leave your fifty words or less story in the comment box, along with a good hand-slapping high five.

HANDS OFF

 My family, except my mother, woke one morning and found our hands missing. My father lost his job as a pianist; my sister lost her hand modeling job, and me, my life as a pro bowler, gone.

     Frustrated, we blamed Mom.

    “Hey!” She screamed, “Don’t go pointing fingers at me.”

If you loved this story, make sure to check out the soon-to-be-released book, “Blown Away.” And by the way, check out this funny video, A Short Story About Hands, by Casey Donahue. It’s the best…hands down.

TO THY OWN SELF BE TRUE

underwatermuseum

(Photo credit: http://www.underwatersculpture.com)

Has anyone ever told you to be authentic? Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I real?”

Well, are you? Do you prefer your connections – be it a friendship, a significant other, or even a family member – to be as deep as they can be?

Or do you like living on the surface? Smiles, small talk, nothing ever too close. Friends are really acquaintances and family members are distant people who happen to live under the same roof.

But what does it mean to live on the surface?

Well, one, it’s safe. Two, it’s lifeless. And three, it lacks meaning.

Case in point: the people you know and trust…how many of the deep things about yourself have you shared with them? How much have you encouraged them to go deep with you?

Or, consider this scenario: you have this great popular friend just about everyone loves. But you, for the life of it, can’t understand why. Sure, they’re fun – sometimes. But is it really possible to be happy all the time? Always friendly, always bright, always ready to meet new people and do new things? A surface friend would ignore what they’re feeling, instead of letting some real soul searching uncover why a possible spirit of jealousy has crept in.

On the other hand, a subterraneous person will go to any depth to discover why they have let or are letting jealousy creep into their hearts. And if left to fester, they know that spirit can destroy a good friendship, and possibly a great one.

So, on our new journey to get more “deep” with ourselves, here’s an exercise that may help you become more of a subterraneous person, and consequently, a better friend, spouse, child, (even writer), who avoids the life of a surface surfer – the people who do just enough to be accepted by others.

Get a pen and pad. Go to a mirror. Without speaking, stare into your eyes for a few seconds. In your mind, ask yourself: “Self,” at your deepest level, what kind of person are you?”

Quickly, write the first three words that came to mind. Got them? Good.

So let me ask: When you were thinking about your three words, did another word that caused you some discomfort keep surfacing? Don’t ignore that word. That’s your real word. It could be a word of insecurity, negativity, positivity, something everyone’s always told you about yourself, or something else, something much deeper. You should ask yourself what led you to that word. That unanswered question is preventing you from going deep in your life. Remember, nothing thrives on the surface unless it’s deeply rooted.

When I looked into the mirror, these words came to mind: caring, nurturer, and loving. However, I kept trying to throw out one word from my mind – fear.

It’s a common word – everyone has it. But for me, I had to understand why I had it. Ultimately, it’s because I worry. I worry that I won’t be able to provide for my love ones, thereby, not being able to be the caring, nurturing, loving husband and father. Crazy, huh? But that’s how fear works.

Coming to grips with your word, and how to let go – or, if your word was positive, how to hold onto it – are amazing steps to becoming a more authentic you.

I have learned over the years that understanding what was keeping me from being the real me lead me to a deeper realization of myself. A deeper realization of yourself may help you to go deeper in your relationships, so you can navigate at greater levels in every walk of your life.

Just like in the above image, we would have never had the chance to see this breathtaking image, if someone hadn’t went down deep below the surface.

There’s another world beneath the watery surface, a beautiful world. There’s also a more beautiful you below the surface. Go deep and uncover the real you, the world is waiting.

What was your word? Feel free to share: honesty breeds connection. And thank you for sharing.

This is How You Update a Book Cover

It was time for a transformation.

Along with our general sprucing up around the ole’ Packed House Publications corner, we’ve decided to update one of our most special books with a spanking-new book cover.

Dusty Remains is an awesome collection of 300 words or less stories, but unfortunately, a year ago, with the innocence of new kids on the block, we unintentionally gave Dusty Remains a textbook-looking book cover.

dusty remainsYeah, we can do better than this…

And, we came up with this.

Dusty Remains

Yeah, this is a little embarrassing. We eventually figured out a crazy skull head being pierced to death with a screw bit from the heavens doesn’t exactly convey heartfelt stories like Dusty Remains has. It just looks…gothic, and pretty weird.

So, we contacted another artist, Anil Saxena, (thanks Anil!), and made this:

 Dusty Remains_022115

Looks pretty great, doesn’t it? It actually represents the whole “fragile as dust” theme in the book, and has a more eye-grabbing effect than the last tries.

So, how did we do? Leave a comment below on what you think of the new cover!

And, as a complimentary gift for our guests, here is the first story from “Dusty Remains.”

Ponytail

She stands there alone, by the gate, with her usual big smile. She smiles even more when he approaches. There by the gate they talk. She shyly tilts her head downward. He knows she’s reluctant, but even so he holds out his hand.

      She steps around him, he cuts off her exit. Like a game she’s played so many times, she tries to dart around him; unable to do so, she shrugs her shoulders in defeat.

     Once again he holds out his hand. She lets her soft hand fall into the cradle of his majestic one.

     They walk away, the sun on their backs, the gate disappearing with each step.

     She pauses, so does he. He looks at her, then nods his head. “It’s okay.” His gentle tone, so reassuring.

     A few steps from the corner, she pauses once more. Now he wipes the tears from her eyes.

     “How did you know my birthday was today?” Her faint voice is strained under the weight of her tears.

     “I know everything about you, Sara. I’m a magician.” His eyes lock on hers.

      “Is that how you found out I like ponies?”

      “Yes.”

      “And you will keep your promise to let me ride my pony every day?”

      “Of course.”

      “And my mom won’t stop you?”

      “Your mom won’t stop me. I promise.”

      “What’s my pony’s name?”

      “Whatever you want it to be.”

      “Is my pony a boy or a girl?”

      “Why, it’s a girl, just like I promised you yesterday.”

      “Where is she?”

      “Right around this corner.”

      Sara’s face lights up. She skips with delight and anticipation.

SARA! SARA! WHERE ARE YOU! SARA, SARA!

      “Ma’am, we’ll find her, trust me.” Nancy’s eyes drown in tears.

      A stiff wind blew through the window. Whoooooo! Out went the five candles.

Get “Dusty Remains” today, at Amazon, Google Play, or Kobo Books. Also available on iTunes.

Confessing Jesus

Hey, come on in. How you been? Great, glad to hear everything’s going well. Come, cop a squat, there’s something I like to share with you.

I want you to imagine you live in a place where you will lose your life if you confess your faith in Jesus. How would you be able to preach the word of God in such an environment? Would you boldly obey Jesus’s command in Mark 16:15? “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Would the fear of losing your life tie your tongue? Or would you confess your love and faith in Jesus? Unfortunately, many of us today, all over the world, including yours truly, are not fully heeding the grand commission that Jesus commands his followers to obey.

It appears, for many, that it is best not to stand too firm for Christ, just blend in – don’t make waves. Oh, we preach, but mostly to other known Christians. Most of us don’t take God’s word out to the unsaved masses that need it most. We are so happy being in our personal, “Holy Huddles,” to bother with Jesus’s great commission. Why are we so negligent when it comes to confessing our faith to the world? Why are we afraid? If we love Jesus, then we should want to tell the whole world about Him. Telling everyone we meet we love Him and put our undying faith in Him. In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus says, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

How can any of us be willing to lose our life for Christ, when we are not willing to tell the world about Him? I like for you to check out the following video: see a woman willing to lose her life for standing up for God’s word. Please pray for her. Please let her example, and many others like hers, compel each of us to confess our faith in the only savior mankind has. You know His name, our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.